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When to replace a timing belt

In Suspension by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When considering how a car runs, a lot of people think about the major components, like the engine, the alternator or the battery.

However, there are many smaller components that are necessary for a vehicle to work correctly.

The timing belt is one of them. It surrounds various parts and is responsible for making sure the crankshaft and camshaft are in the right timing.

Sometimes, this piece goes bad and needs to be replaced.

Preventing future problems

Replacing your timing belt is one way to prevent future problems.

How often you need to replace it depends on the manufacturer’s recommendation. Most timing belts should be changed around 100,000 miles, but some are 60,000 miles.

A new one may also be needed if there’s cracking or a running condition where it jumps time.

Signs the timing belt is going bad

You aren’t going to be noticing wear on the timing belt, because it is covered up by parts. Timing belts are normally replaced on a mileage basis.

But a few symptoms can clue you in that the timing belt is going bad.

Engine misfires are one of them. If the engine isn’t in perfect time, then it won’t fire correctly. 

If the timing belt is too far out of timing, it causes internal damage to the engine because parts can start hitting each other.

The vehicle may also refuse to start, because the timing components aren’t spinning and the engine isn’t creating compression.

You may also notice noise caused by the timing components.

If you notice any of these indicators, you should reach out to a mechanic or an auto repair shop as soon as possible.

Replacing the timing belt

You shouldn’t put off replacing the timing belt due to maintenance or age, because if it breaks you have a chance of causing internal engine damage.

However, it’s not just the belt you should take care of. A lot of times, the belt will drive the water pump. There are also idler pulleys the belt is around that can also wear out. 

When replacing the timing belt, we also replace these other components. If you replace the belt and don’t change the parts tied to it, you will likely have a problem with them soon after.

Other than normal wear and tear, timing belts can go bad if there’s an oil leak. Oil leaks, if they aren’t addressed, may cause the belt to become weaker or break, resulting in damage to the engine.

Timing belts and timing chains

Not all vehicles have timing belts, they either have a timing belt while others have a timing chain.

Nowadays, more cars have timing chains than belts.

These two parts have the same function, but there are some differences. Timing chains are oil lubricated. Timing belts aren’t, and it’s actually bad if oil gets on them.

Another difference is that timing chains have guide rails, while timing belts just have tensioners.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Different types of transmissions and how they work

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Transmissions transfer power to the wheels from the engine. They determine the force and speed based on where and how the vehicle is being driven.

There are a few different kinds of transmissions used today – manual transmissions, automatic transmissions, continuously variable transmissions (CVT) and automated manual transmissions (AMT).

Each type differs in its design, operation and components.

Manual transmissions

Manual transmissions consist of an input shaft, intermediate shaft and output shaft. 

The input and output shafts are each connected with the intermediate shaft.

There are also several gears that enable us to travel at various speeds, with lower gears used for slower speeds and top gears operating at faster speeds.

Because the gears aren’t attached to the output shaft, a hub and sleeve are needed to link them as you shift. In order to switch, the clutch must be disengaged.

It has a manual clutch where you press the pedal to disengage the transmission.

Automatic transmissions

Automatic transmissions use a planetary gearset, which is made up of an output and two inputs. As the input speeds change so does the output speed.

The output of another planetary set connects with an input of the first one.

This system also has two clutch packs, which prevent the ring gears from moving. While switching gears, the clutch pack is pressed. The ring gear stops while the carrier turns.

The output speed can rise if the ring gear is able to move. This is possible by letting go of the first clutch while simultaneously connecting with the second clutch. The ring gear then links to the carrier of the other planetary set.

An automatic transmission has a torque converter that connects the engine to the transmission, which allows a certain amount of slippage so you don’t need to push in a clutch pedal when you come to a stop.

There’s a valve body that is electronically and hydraulically controlled to change the shift points, depending on how the vehicle’s being driven.


Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT)

A Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is an automatic transmission that offers various perks, such as less carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption.

This system consists of a couple of sheathes that are located on drive and driven shafts. Between them, sits a metal push belt. 

One of the sheathes is able to move on the shaft, allowing the transmission ratio to shift automatically and continuously.

CVT components team up with an electronic system. Together, they provide a good torque and RPM ratio.

Automated Manual Transmissions (AMT)

If your vehicle has an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT), you are able to shift manually or automatically. 

When you choose the automatic option, the gear adjusts on its own.

An AMT uses several parts – change lever unit, clutch actuator, gear shift unit and transmission control unit.

The change lever unit allows you to go from neutral to drive. When you shift gears, a signal is sent to the clutch actuator and gear shift unit by the transmission control unit. 

The system chooses the correct gear needed, which decreases damage to the clutch and improves fuel economy.

With this transmission, you get the best of both worlds of a manual and an automatic transmission.

Maintaining your transmission

One way to take care of your transmission is through transmission fluid exchanges, which we recommend every 30,000 miles. The intervals also depend on the vehicle and what the manufacturer suggests.

Overtime, contaminants build up in the transmission fluid that acts as a lubricant. This can cause valves and solenoids to stick and parts to break down.

Transmission fluid exchanges help components last longer.

Some transmissions have a filter. You don’t have to necessarily change the filter during a fluid exchange, especially if they’re performed early on and through the life of the vehicle.

The filter acts like the air filter for your house. It filters out large contaminants that would normally go through the transmission. Depending on the car’s mileage and age it might be a good idea to also change the filter.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Wheel alignments for Toyota vehicles

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

If you notice your Toyota vehicle is veering to the side, or you’re having difficulty steering, then it may be time to come in for a wheel alignment. In order to keep your car safely on the road, and your tires wearing down correctly, your tires need to be properly aligned.

Maybe your Camry hit a pothole or a curb, or perhaps your vehicle is experiencing suspension wear. Whatever the reason, an alignment ensures that your car doesn’t take unnecessary wear and tear.

Not sure if you need an alignment? You may be able to tell based on a few indicators – tires wearing unevenly, crooked steering wheels, and a vehicle pulling to one side are signs of bad wheel alignments.

How much are wheel alignments, and what do we do during them?

How much a wheel alignment costs depends on several factors, such as the kind of vehicle and the type of alignment needed.

The price can range anywhere from $80 to $188. If there are any parts or adjustments needed to bring the alignment into correct specification, that could be additional costs.

A lot of Toyota trucks, for example, can require more adjustments to the caster and camber than other trucks.

The age of a vehicle and where it’s from impact the alignment, as well.

Adjustments on a vehicle from a northern state, which have a lot of salt on the road during the winter, can seize up. Sometimes you have to work harder to free them up or may even need to replace the adjusters due to rust. 

During an alignment, our technicians check the caster, camber, toe, and thrust angles of your vehicle. Your Tundra can then be aligned for the manufacturer’s specifications on alignment, and your own preferences. Here’s an explanation of the different angles:

  • Camber: Camber describes how tires are angled in and out.
  • Caster: Caster is the forward or backward angle.
  • Toe: Toe refers to where the tires are in relation to the center.
  • Thrust angle: Thrust angle is used to compare the rear axle with the center and front axle.

After looking over and adjusting the angles, we may need to reset certain systems. This is sometimes needed for vehicles that use Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS), such as park assist and blind spot detection.

When and why to get this service

Even if you’re not experiencing problems currently with your alignment, our technicians follow the industry standards and recommendations that you align your Toyota’s tires once a year, or every 15,000 miles. 

We also suggest this service when you buy new tires.

Tire alignments aren’t a requirement, and if your tires are wearing evenly and you aren’t having problems with your Yaris then you can wait. However, by scheduling regular alignments according to the industry standard, you will ultimately save money on tires, as alignments ensure that the tires will wear down evenly over time.

Our technicians at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire can help schedule an appointment to evaluate your Toyota and provide an assessment on an alignment for your vehicle.

We can do wheel alignments for these Toyota and Scion vehicles:

  • Camry
  • Yaris
  • Sienna
  • Tundra
  • Tacoma
  • FJ Cruiser

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Why you should replace shocks and struts

In Shocks & Struts, Suspension by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

While everyone wishes that their car could stay in perfect condition forever, oftentimes that doesn’t really happen. Parts and fluids in everyone’s car wear over time – at different rates – and require replacement and maintenance. 

Some parts of vehicle maintenance, like oil changes, need to be done more often. There are some replacements that need to be done over a longer period of time – like shocks and struts.

If you are noticing that your car is bouncing a lot, or nose diving, and you take it in to an auto technician, they may come back and tell you that you need your shocks or struts replaced. 

Many people don’t know what they are, and what they do in your car, so let’s look at that first.

Shocks and struts both absorb pressure from running over potholes, bumps and rough roads. Shocks are placed near the tires and have a coiled spring near them, as well as hydraulic fluid and a piston that help to absorb that shock. Struts are very similar, except that they’re built into the suspension system, and they have a coiled spring directly on the strut as one part.

So why should you be replacing these when they begin to wear out or go bad? Below are a few reasons:

It’s what the industry standard and manufacturer recommends

Our auto technicians follow the industry and manufacturer’s standards on all cars that come in. It is currently recommended that shocks or struts be replaced every 50,000 miles. Even though this can vary from car to car – and some vehicles can go longer than that – we still recommend and look for any issues with these components once you’re over that mileage.

Replacing your shocks and struts will give you more control while you drive

When your shocks or struts start to go, you’re going to see it when you’re accelerating, turning and braking. So once they start to degrade, you’re really going to see a decline in the control you have of your vehicle. Everyone has a different preference on the level of vehicle control they want when driving, but when you begin to have issues with braking or turning on a curve, then it’s time for new shocks and struts.

The life of your tires increases

Like we mentioned before, the job of the shocks or struts help to absorb shock you have from running over things like potholes. So when your shocks and struts begin to go, you’re going to see more bouncing, even when you’re not running over things. This bouncing will actually harm your tires. Because of the increased bouncing, your tires are hitting the ground hard and unevenly. This means that you’re going to possibly see pieces of tire worn off and even smooth patches from where the tires have worn down. This can actually minimize the life of your tires, which is an additional cost down the road if you don’t replace your shocks or struts.

Driving on the road is safer when you change the shocks and struts

When your shocks or struts are wearing down and you’re having problems with braking and bouncing, it becomes less safe for you to drive. By getting them replaced, you’re investing in the safety of your life, your passenger’s lives and everyone else out there on the road.

If your technician at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire suggests that you get your shocks or struts replaced, take them seriously. It will help improve your driving experience, extend the life of your car, and keep you safe.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Electronic steering: How it works and possible problems

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Cars nowadays are more reliant on electronics than ever before.

They are made up of computers, modules, clocks, and the ability to charge items.

Many are even coming with electronic steering.

Different types of power steering

There are a couple of different types of power steering, or electronic assisted steering. One of the common ones is where it’s on the steering shaft. It turns the steering wheel and goes down the shaft to the rack and pinion or the gear box.

The electronic steering has an electronic control unit, which takes input from a steering wheel angle sensor. The sensor measures how fast and far you’re turning the steering wheel. If you’re moving a little bit, it doesn’t need to move very fast. But if you turn it really hard, it’s going to help assist that steering much faster.

Once those different inputs are taken and calculated through the control unit, the motor is able to work hard or soft to make the steering effortless for the driver – whether it’s a little or a lot of turning.

The electronic motor is made onto the rack and pinion, giving it a different type of drive over the one that’s on the steering column.

You still have your input from the steering wheel that’s going down to the rack and pinion. So, if there’s a problem you can still steer the vehicle, it just may be harder. But a lot of the time it can save space by the electronic motors being on the rack and pinion.

Sometimes, when replacing them on the European vehicles – such as Audis, Volkswagens, BMWs and Mercedes – you need to recode them or update programming. This can affect the time frame of how long it takes to get your vehicle fixed. It’s not always just replacing the part and you’re good to go. You actually have to recalibrate, code the part to the car, and then go through the checks to make sure everything is OK.

Hydraulic power steering and electric power steering

We have seen electronic steering in some vehicles since 2002. So, it’s not brand new, it just wasn’t as common back then. It might have only been in certain vehicles, usually higher end models. Now, you see it across the board on every day cars. 

Is the old way of hydraulic power steering better than electric power steering?

When you’re looking at the vehicles now – because electronics have come a long way, the electric steering is a little bit more efficient. 

You don’t have the power steering pump, the hoses, more components that can fail, and more drag on the engine. When you start to take the loads off the engines that way it makes these cars a little more fuel efficient.

Things to watch for

If you see certain alerts, like electronic stability control or variable steering assist, you will want to get that checked out sooner rather than later. Sometimes, the problem can be as simple as a bad steering angle sensor. It could also be that the rack and pinion is having a problem.

Some issues are some of the same ones you would experience with the older systems. For example, if you hit a curb or a pothole, that could ruin one of the inner or outer tie rod ends. That would put a lot of force on the rack and pinion, which in turn puts a lot of force on that electric motor.

Some of the things are kind of the same, but a lot of times you don’t have as much maintenance to do.  

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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How to check your oil

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Oil helps protect your engine and other components.

By checking the oil level regularly, drivers can confirm that they don’t have an oil leak and prevent damage down the road.

Joe from HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire in Woodbridge demonstrates how to check your oil in the video below.

Before looking at the oil level, it’s important to make sure that your car is off and is stationed on a level surface. This will allow you to get an accurate reading. If it is on an incline or decline, the reading won’t be correct.

You also don’t want any hot components around the dipstick while you’re checking the oil. If there are, let the vehicle cool off for a couple of hours or overnight, just to be safe.

How to check your oil

Here are the steps for checking your oil:

Step 1: Remove the dipstick and clean it off. 

Step 2: Replace the dipstick. Make sure it’s going into the dipstick tube smoothly. You don’t want to force it, because it can break and would then need to be removed.

Step 3: Remove the dipstick again and check the reading. There are a couple of marks that differ among manufacturers. Some have two dots, while others have minimum and maximum lines.

Step 4: Clean the dipstick again and place it back in the tube. 

Step 5: Remove the dipstick and recheck the reading. If you have two consistent readings, there’s no need to check it again. If the readings are inconsistent, you will want to check it a third or fourth time. Some vehicles have baffles and the oil can leach down, causing you to get different readings.

Why having the right amount of oil is important

A lot of vehicles today are oil specific and pressure specific for their variable valve timing and lubricating components. 

If you have low oil and if you don’t have a warning indicator, you can run the vehicle but each time you start it it will take longer for the oil to reach the top of the engine. That can slowly wear down the components and result in a major engine repair.

We recently worked on a fairly new car that consumes about a quart of oil every 1,000 miles. Every once in a while, it needed to be topped off with oil. The timing chain eventually wore out and the sprocket had excessive wear. 

Engine oil is vital to the health and lifespan of a vehicle. It’s very important for it to be at the accurate level, and it should not be ignored.

In addition to checking your oil, we recommend having oil changes performed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on your vehicle and the manufacturer’s recommendation. You can learn more about what happens during an oil change and why they are important in this article we wrote.

If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to schedule an appointment reach out to HomeTowne Auto Repair. Our service advisers are happy to set up an appointment or answer your questions. 

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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The importance of addressing oil leaks

In Vehicle Fluids by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Oil leaks are nothing to brush off.

When you’re running on too little oil, damage can eventually occur to the engine and other parts. So, it’s important to have this problem addressed as soon as possible.

A 2005 Dodge Caravan was brought in because it was leaking oil. In order to safely get it to HomeTowne Auto Repair, the driver needed to add a quart or two of oil. There was a trail of fluid seen in the parking lot.

While working on the vehicle, we found that there was a major oil leak behind the timing cover, which was cracked. Because some bolts were missing, the technician needed to replace the timing cover and all related hardware. New seals, a new water pump, and a new timing belt were installed, as well.

Fluid leaking from your vehicle can be a warning sign that there’s a problem. You can figure out what’s leaking by looking at the color and location.

How to tell if you have an oil leak

There are a couple of different ways to tell if your vehicle is leaking oil.

If you check your oil and notice that it’s low, you may have a leak. This could also indicate an oil consumption issue.

The other thing you can do is check underneath the vehicle after it’s been sitting for a while. You should see fresh drips below the splash shields. 

Oil is typically yellow, brown or black.

What causes an oil leak? 

There are a number of possible causes behind an oil leak.

This problem can occur if a gasket or seal is bad. Various parts could also need to be replaced. These components include crank seals, cam seals and oil cooler seals. The valve cover is the most common culprit.

Vehicles that use turbochargers have inlet and outlet tube seals that can cause a leak.

Drivers who recently had an oil change performed should bring their car back to the repair shop, because it may not have been done correctly.

How oil leaks can impact other components

Oil leaks can have a negative effect on various parts, including the timing belt.

They may cause a problem with the timing belt if they are coming from the valve covers, front camshaft seals, sometimes the crankshaft seals, and even a balance shaft or oil pump shaft seal.

If that oil leaks on the timing belt, it can weaken the belt and cause it to break. This may lead to engine damage. 

Oil leaks can also impact the serpentine belt, which is the drive belt that wraps around the engine accessories.

If the front crankshaft seal or another part of the top of the engine is leaking onto the belt, then the belt has a greater chance of slipping. That means your vehicle may not charge correctly, and the water pump may not turn properly if it’s driven by the serpentine belt.

The belt could also start to break or fray, preventing you from being able to drive your car.

If an oil leak is dripping on the exhaust you are more likely to see smoke. If there’s a significant drip – especially near the catalytic converter – the vehicle could catch on fire … which is bad.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Why you shouldn’t ignore an overheating engine

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Your vehicle has warning lights and signals for a reason.

Choosing to ignore them can lead to trouble later on.

We worked on a Jeep Liberty that had an overheating engine. A few symptoms occurred that hinted at this problem.

First, the check engine light turned on. A check engine light can turn on for many reasons. If it comes on, we recommend having it checked out as soon as possible. This can help save the technician time in pinpointing the issue – saving you money on diagnostic testing costs.

The heat gauge also went all the way to the right and a red light appeared on the dashboard.

All of these indicators were ignored, and the engine locked up.

By the time the vehicle was brought to us, the hot engine temperature had warped the cylinder head and valve cover.

When those components become distorted, it blows out a head gasket. This causes coolant to leak into the combustion chambers.

The engine won’t run the same way again and needs to be replaced.

What causes an overheating engine

There are various causes behind an engine overheating.

In the case of the Jeep Liberty, the customer mentioned that a radiator hose had blown recently. It was fixed, but the problem continued. The vehicle was driven without coolant for an extended period of time.

Low coolant is one of the main reasons overheating occurs. Other than a coolant leak, this issue can be a sign that there’s a problem with the thermostat. The thermostat regulates how much coolant flows between the engine and radiator.

Issues with the electric cooling fan and other electrical parts are also possible culprits.

What to look for

You can’t tell with the naked eye if an engine is overheating. An engine rarely becomes so hot that parts melt. However, all sorts of warning signs will go off.

White smoke out of the exhaust may indicate a blown head gasket or a cracked cylinder head, because coolant has gotten into the exhaust.

In extreme cases, you may notice the engine emitting steam. The radiator cap serves as a pressure relief valve, which allows coolant to go into the overflow tank. Every vehicle has a tank, which is where the coolant goes when you turn off the engine so the coolant doesn’t go out on the ground. If you have too much pressure, the coolant will be pushed out of the overflow reservoir, causing steam to come up. 

Rough running is another indicator that you have a head gasket or a cracked cylinder head and coolant is entering the engine.

Continuously adding coolant and not seeing any leaking on the ground can also be a sign that you have a problem. 

On top of maintaining your vehicle, you should be aware of odd situations and noises and reach out to a repair shop when you notice them. There could be an important issue that needs to be addressed.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Repairing the braking system on a Ford Escape and Ford F150

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When it comes to auto repair, it’s important to take those extra steps.

This can be eye opening and help technicians track down the root cause of a problem.

We worked on braking system of two vehicles – a Ford Escape and a Ford F150 – that had the same symptom and resolution.

The driver of one of the vehicles said the brakes were sticking. Meanwhile, the owner of the other felt that they’re vehicle was shifting and braking funny.

During the test drive, we experienced similar situations – when they were shifted into drive they wouldn’t go anywhere, as if the driver’s foot is barely touching the brake.

On the Ford Escape, the front left would nose dive. It felt like the rear on the right side wanted to come out from underneath, because the brake pressure was going to the left front.

The same issue was occurring to the F150 on the other side.

How we addressed the braking system problem

To determine the problem, one of our employees sat in the vehicle and stepped on the brake pedal and we cracked the bleeder on the caliper to check the flow.

For both vehicles, we had little or no flow on the side that was experiencing the issue.

There are a few components involved in the flow – the caliper, the anti-lock braking system (ABS) pump, and the brake hose. The most common issue is with the brake hose.

We removed the caliper and depressed it to confirm it wasn’t bad. When it was off the vehicle, the caliper worked fine. However, attached, it was as hard as concrete and wouldn’t let anything through.

The brake hose on the vehicles were replaced, and the vehicles are driving fine.

One of the employees took the extra step and cut the brake line into pieces and dissected it. Through this process, he learned that the crip fitting was swollen and closed up.

Overtime, the brake hose gets a little bit hotter when pieces of metal are around it and slowly deteriorates.

A lot of people would have noticed the caliper wasn’t working and just sold calipers without isolating the problem. We did recommend calipers because the amount of heat can shorten their lifespan. 

We leave the choice in the hands of our customers. Our goal is to provide as much information to help them make an educated decision.

Can you prevent this problem?

You can’t do anything to prevent this problem, it’s just the way the vehicle is designed. You need to have the metal brackets to hold the hose in place. With that amount of hydraulic pressure, the hose would move back and forth and rupture.

You can maintain your braking system through brake fluid exchanges. This service can always help, but some of these things are inevitable.

We recommend brake fluid exchanges every 30,000 miles. You can learn about why you should have the fluid replaced by reading this article we wrote.

The same car problem can come across differently to drivers. If your vehicle sounds or is acting strange, make sure to provide as much information to the mechanic or repair shop as possible. Those little details can help narrow down the search.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Protect your transmission through transmission fluid exchanges

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Your vehicle’s transmission is responsible for sending power from the engine to the wheels.

Since it plays such an important role and is an expensive component, it should be taken care of.

Maintaining your transmission is one way to prevent problems from cropping up down the road.

How to know if you need a new transmission

There are a few indicators that your transmission is going bad. 

Those signs include trouble switching gears. Grinding or crunching sounds could be heard, as well. 

You can extend its lifespan through transmission fluid exchanges, which are important for both automatic and manual transmissions.

Reasons to have a transmission fluid exchange performed

The heavy traffic we travel through each day puts a lot of stress on the transmission. Due to the high temperatures this creates as well as oxidation, the transmission fluid degrades. Contaminants collect in the fluid and metal on components breaks down.

Transmission fluid is responsible for lubricating metal to metal surfaces. If it collects dirt and debris or water builds up – displacing the oil – it isn’t able to do that properly. 

Putting off a transmission flush can lead to heat and friction, and cause components to break down.

The service is especially important for automatic transmissions because the fluid relies on pressure to build in certain areas. 

There are also many more valves and solenoids, which can stick if it becomes too dirty. This can lead to non-shifting problems or “flairs” – when the transmission revs when the driver shifts gears.

Having transmission fluid exchanges performed regularly extends the lifespan of parts and can save you money in the long run.

When to get this service

How often you get a transmission fluid exchange depends on the manufacturer’s recommendation. We suggest having this service performed every 30,000 miles.

Many manufacturers won’t recommend it until you reach 100,000 miles, when the powertrain warranty runs up.

Unless you have a german vehicle that states not to have a transmission fluid exchange performed until a certain time, you don’t need to wait until your car hits 100,000 miles.

When your vehicle is due for this service, a couple of symptoms may appear. These indicators include a burnt smell or darker transmission fluid.

So, what happens during a transmission fluid exchange?

Our technicians begin performing a transmission fluid exchange by adding a cleaner that suspends dirt and particles that have accumulated in the fluid.

The contaminants and old transmission fluid are replaced with new fluid.

Then, we add a conditioner that enhances the fluid and helps it last longer. 

Transmission fluid exchanges are a great way to take care components, prevent non-shifting problems, and help you avoid costly work on your vehicle. 

We work on manual and automatic transmissions. Here is a video about manual transmission fluid exchanges:

This is a video about automatic transmission fluid exchanges:

Any money that you put toward maintaining your car – whether it’s oil changes or mileage-based services – are worth the investment.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.