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Signs that your starter is going bad

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Click. Click. Click.

It’s a dreaded sound for many drivers, especially when they are trying — unsuccessfully — to start their car.

The noise is one sign that a vehicle’s starter is going bad.

Another giveaway is if your vehicle won’t start, even when a jumper box or a jumper cable are attached to it.

You may also hear a slight grinding noise.

When you turn your key in the ignition, the bendex shoots out and spins at a high rate, starting the flywheel. This is what starts your car.

A grinding sound could mean the bendex is wearing down. 

If you suspect that your starter is going bad, you should have it checked and diagnosed at an auto repair shop. It may prevent you from getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

Keep in mind that sometimes a starter doesn’t show any signs of going bad. It just stops working.

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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Brakes and the Virginia Safety Inspection

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Bringing your vehicle in for the Virginia safety inspection is one way you can protect yourself and others.

The brakes of your vehicle have to be working properly in order to pass the yearly requirement.

There can’t be a soft brake pedal or a twisted brake hose.

A vehicle will fail if any active leaks or oil contamination is found.

Brake pads must be at or above 2/32 inches and rotors need a certain thickness that’s based on a manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Vehicle safety inspectors are also checking to make sure the parking brake is able to hold on a slight incline.

If it feels like there is a mechanical issue, they can take it for a test drive.

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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When and why you should replace a timing belt

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A vehicle’s timing belt goes around pulleys — the crankshaft, camshaft(s), tensioner and sometimes water pump.

When everything is correct, the belt keeps the crankshaft and the camshafts in correct timing, and if it fails on an interference engine you could catastrophic damage to the engine, such as bending the valves or breaking the pistons.

Timing Belt Routing

Timing Belt Routing

New timing belts should be installed between 50,000 and 105,000 miles. This depends on the make and model of a vehicle, the manufacturer recommendations, and the driving conditions.

From my personal experience, even though it has been recommended to change the timing belt at 90,000 miles, I haven’t had a problem pushing it to 105,000 miles. But these were Toyotas with two-inch-wide timing belts.

If the belt is a one-inch wide belt, you might want to keep it closer to 60,000 miles. 

Not to sound derogatory, but the soccer mom — or dad — minivan gets driven hard like a high performance vehicle, just from running around and the stop-and-go driving. So you may want to stay on the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Besides, you don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road with a bunch of kids.

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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Do I need a wheel alignment?

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Many people will call us to ask if we do wheel alignments when they’re trying to solve an issue that may not require it.

Some of these issues may include a vibration drivers are feeling in a steering wheel. A wheel alignment issue will have more to do with tire wear and how the vehicle tracks down the road — whether it’s going straight or pulling to one side.

wheel alignment wheel balance problem

Having a wheel alignment conducted regularly — once a year — can help save drivers money and prevent premature wear.

 

 

 

To take care of the wheel balance problem, we’ll need to remove the tire, place it on a wheel balancer, and place the correct amount of weights on it.

If it’s a tire issue and it’s a steel belt that is broken, then the tire would have to be replaced.

Another symptom that is mistaken for a wheel alignment problem is when you press the brake pedal and the steering wheel starts to shudder. 

steering wheel alignment vibration brake rotor

This is due to the brake rotors having too much run out — or what people refer to as “warped” — and this can be easily mistaken because so much of that vibration is transferred through the steering wheel, especially if it’s the front rotors that have the problem.

 

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what the problem is with your car. Just pay attention to what’s happening when — such as whether the vehicle is pulling to one side or the other, how fast you’re going, or whether you’re pressing on the brake pedal.

These bits of information will be very helpful to the auto repair shop in getting your vehicle diagnosed quickly and accurately.

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 is my car leaking?

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When moving your car from its parking spot, you may notice that a puddle has formed.

The location and color of the leak can help you determine what’s causing it.

Antifreeze: Antifreeze can be blue, green, red or yellow, depending on the vehicle. 

Brake Fluid: Brake Fluid is clear, yellow or brown. Don’t drive your vehicle if you notice brake fluid near the wheel well. It may be a sign that your brakes are failing.

Coolant: Coolant is used to maintain the temperature of your vehicle’s engine. When you see a puddle that’s a green, orange or pink, it could indicate that your coolant is leaking. It can be red or yellow for some vehicles. The coolant can begin to leak if a water pump or hose fails. Some electric and hybrid vehicles have another coolant system that runs to the back to keep the electronics cool. You can get a coolant leak near the back of the vehicle, which most people aren’t used to.

Engine Oil: Engine oil can be yellow, brown or black. If it’s leaking, there might be a failure with a gasket or seal. If you have had an oil change recently, bring your vehicle back to the auto repair shop.

Transmission Fluid: Transmission fluid appears as gold, pink, red or black. If any of these colors are seen near your vehicle, it could mean that a seal or gasket isn’t working.

You might also see clear water, and that’s generally from your air conditioner, where the moisture is condensing and the fluid is draining out from underneath your car. That isn’t something you should be concerned about.

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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Car doesn’t start? Dash lights on?

In Car Safety, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Your vehicle’s dashboard contains a number of tools that assure you that it’s working properly.

It also houses lights that have various meanings.

Here’s a guide to what each of the symbols indicate.

Dashboard Lights

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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Replacing an alternator on a Ford Fusion

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Ray, an automotive technician at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire, spent part of his Friday replacing a Ford Fusion’s alternator.

When the car came in, it’s battery light was on. He tested the battery, which was good, but the alternator wasn’t charging to its full potential. 

The alternator is on the back side of the engine and you need to replace it from underneath the vehicle, which makes it more difficult than replacing the alternators of other vehicles.

To reach it, he removed the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt is one belt that goes around all of the engine accessories, including the power steering pump, air compressor and alternator.

He also checked the belt tensioner to make sure its spring pressure was working, in case he needed to replace it.

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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Oil changes: how are we different than other shops

In Oil Change, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Having your oil changed regularly is one way you can make sure your engine continues working properly.

So what do we different than other shops during an oil change?

In addition to changing the oil and oil filter, we do a courtesy inspection. 

The inspection covers safety items, such as your wiper blades and brakes, and maintenance items — whether something is leaking or if a part is wearing out.

Tires is one thing we check out.

Maybe the tires are at 4/32 inches, and they don’t have to be changed right this minute but we give you a heads up that you’re getting close to the end of the service life.

It’s not just the oil change that we do, it’s looking over your vehicle to make sure we can stay on the road.

Tire rotation is another service that we try to include with oil changes.

A lot of shops charge an extra $20 or $25 to perform a tire rotation.

We are able to include it up to a certain size tire rim.

Our switch to full synthetic oil

When doing an oil change, our automotive technicians use full synthetic oil.

Manufacturers having many different vehicles and various types of engines that require certain oil specifications — regular oil, semi-synthetic oil, or full synthetic oil. 

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire decided to use full synthetic oil in all vehicles rather than carry 30 different types of oil.

The change has allowed us to reduce the price of full synthetic oil for oil changes. 

Synthetic is also better for vehicles that use regular or semi-synthetic oil. It has better properties that help their engines last longer.

We still use the weight that manufacturers recommend for each vehicle.

If you own a car that requires Mobil 1 oil, such as a BMW or a Mercedes, we do offer it as a full synthetic option.  

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 does an auto repair shop fit in the Prince William Chamber?

In Community Involvement by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Written by ST Billingsley, Owner of HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

I was cleaning out the crap in my office the other day when I came across a couple of items.

One of them was a picture of HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire’s ribbon cutting ceremony that was held with the Prince William Chamber of Commerce on November 1, 2014. 

The other was the ribbon that was signed by those who attended.

When an event is going on like that, you don’t necessarily remember those who come out to support you, such as Bennett Whitlock from Whitlock Wealth Management.

Over the years, you get to build relationships with people who participate in the chamber. 

It reminded me about what how being members of the chamber has benefited HomeTowne.

The chamber offers networking opportunities through its various meetings, Business After Hours, and events. 

This has allowed HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire to connect with other local businesses, and stay up-to-date on legislation and economic development.

HomeTowne has also been able to share its own news, such as being named “Best Tire Store” in InsideNOVA’s 2018 Best of Prince William Awards and HomeTowne’s decision to cover its employees’ health care, with other members.

Additionally, the chamber gives a voice to the business community when local officials are considering legislation that would impact it.

Over the years, due to business constraints, there have been times where I have not been very active with the chamber or very active with the chamber. 

You have to figure out what works best for you, but don’t expect things to just happen if you sign up to be a chamber member. You have to participate and good things happen to those who 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.

Prince William Chamber of Commerce

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Michelin tires available for different vehicles

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

An important part of maintaining your vehicle is having its tires checked and replaced when needed.

The make and model of your vehicle, how its used, and the number of miles you drive each day are some things you should keep in mind when buying new ones.

These are a few Michelin tires that are available:

  • Michelin Defender Tires LTX: The Michelin Defender Tires LTX offers a better tread life for SUVs and trucks. The tire can help you save up to 65 gallons in gas during its lifespan. Its miles-based warranty is up to 70,000 to 80,000 miles. They’re great highway tires and excellent for larger vehicles, such as SUVs. More information on Michelin Defender Tires LTX is available on the Michelin website.
  • Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3: The Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 is a good, all-season tire that’s typically used on Mercedes and BMW’s. It has a 45,000- to 55,000-mile warranty. To learn more about the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3, visit the Michelin website
  • Michelin Primacy MXM4: The Michelin Primacy MXM4 can be used in all types of weather conditions and is used for luxury vehicles, including Mercedes and BMWs. If offers good grip on dry and wet surfaces and has treadlife of up to 55,000 miles. Additional details about the The Michelin Primacy MXM4 can be found on the Michelin website.

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.