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Uneven tire wear and what it could mean

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Sometime in the past or perhaps recently, you may have needed to replace your car tires.

Maybe you had an unrepairable tire due to a puncture, or the tire tread was low.

You might have also been told that the tires were wearing unevenly. These wearing patterns – depending on the location – can indicate certain problems.

Uneven tire wear problems include:

  • Choppy wear throughout tire
  • Too much tire wearing on the inside or outside
  • Middle of tire becoming worn
  • Wear on the inner and outer edges

Uneven tire wear problems and causes

Wave wear pattern across tire: If you see you have chopping through the tread, it could be a sign of alignment wear. It might also mean that a shock or strut isn’t doing its job, causing an irregular wear pattern. Horizontally, it may look OK, but vertically a little wave can be seen when you look at it from the side. 

To avoid this problem, make sure you stay up-to-date on tire services, such as wheel alignments, and that suspension parts are replaced when they break or become worn.

Jeep Cherokee tire worn on edges.

Excessive inner or outer tire wear: Too much wear on one side of the tire can be a symptom of a bad car alignment. If you notice the inside or outside is wearing more quickly than the rest of the tire, that can be a toe alignment problem or an excessive camber issue.

Preventing premature tire wear is one of the benefits of regular tire alignments. We recommend them once a year or every 15,000 miles, when suspension parts are replaced, and after new tires are installed.

Tire worn in the middle: A tire wearing more in the center than other parts of the tire might indicate that it’s overinflated. 

Details about the correct tire pressure are provided on the tire sidewall or the driver’s side door jam. Depending on the vehicle, tire pressure can be anywhere from 32 to 36 pounds per square inch (PSI).

Wearing on the tire’s outer edges: Both the inside and outside of the tire experiencing premature wear may be the result of low tire pressure. 

You should regularly check the air in your tires. You might have a flat tire if one tire is lower than the rest. All four tires having less air than they should can be caused by drastic decreases in outside temperatures during colder months.

Why even tread wear is important

Tires play a significant role in the safety of drivers and passengers. Having good tire patch contact with the road gives you the best ability to maintain control, stop and go.

Blown out tire.

If you’re not paying attention to the tread at all and you’re having a lot of inside tire wear, then you could get down to the chords or steel belts of the tire. This could lead to a tire blowing out and you losing control of the vehicle. 

In extreme driving situations, a wavy pattern could have indicated that shock and strut replacement was needed for you to maintain control of the car.

When you go in for oil changes or any other type of car maintenance, make sure your auto repair shop checks the tread and informs you of any abnormal tire wear.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near Lake Ridge, 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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HomeTowne Auto Repair employees learn about BG products

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

The HomeTowne Auto Repair team has become more knowledgeable about a few BG products and how they work.

A couple of BG representatives led a training at our Woodbridge auto repair shop on Thursday morning.

The BG products discussed were:

  • BG 44K
  • BG MOA
  • BG Frigi Clean
  • BG Frigi Fresh

Demonstrations on BG products provided

BG 44K

Fuel system cleaners was one of the topics covered.

Our Apprentice Technicians, Master Technicians, Service Advisors and Service Manager learned about detergents in fuel and those that can be added between services, such as BG 44K. The representatives shared and demonstrated the strengths of different cleaners, as well.

BG 44K removes contaminants that collect on fuel system parts, such as fuel injectors and combustion chambers. It may improve how the engine runs and reduce carbon buildup-related problems.

The cleaner can be added between fuel induction services.


Technicians and Service Advisors learning about oil and BG MOA.

Oil additives and the differences between types of oil – conventional, synthetic blends, and full synthetic – were also discussed.

The benefits of BG MOA were shown using a bearing grinder.

This product helps protect the engine and extend its lifespan. It can prevent sludge from accumulating and increase a vehicle’s fuel economy.

BG MOA is added at oil changes.

BG Frigi Clean and BG Frigi Fresh

The training concluded with the HVAC cleaning system. Participants were educated on BG Frigi Clean and BG Frigi Fresh and learned the correct way to add them.

BG Frigi Fresh gets rid of mold and bacteria that build up overtime, resulting in musty smells.

This disinfectant may be sprayed on the cabin air filter and through the vents once a year or during seasonal changes, like winter to spring or summer to fall.

Through the training, the BG representatives sought to familiarize the front counter personnel and technicians with the products and processes.

“It’s a great way to see what [BG] MOA actually does as well as the [BG] 44K,” Ed Olbon explained.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near Dumfries, 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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Fuel systems: How to take care of them and problems we look for

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Do you smell gas when driving or have you seen fuel around your car? Is your vehicle running rough? These symptoms may be hinting at a fuel system problem.

If these indicators are coupled with the check engine light turning on, it’s worth it to have an automotive expert check it out.

Potential problems

Several issues can develop within your fuel system overtime.

Malfunctioning fuel injectors

Fuel injectors are responsible for providing fuel to engine cylinders. Resolving a fuel system problem may mean replacing these components. When you have bad fuel injectors, you might have trouble starting your car, experience a rough idle, or notice a rise in fuel usage.

Problem with EVAP lines

Issues can also occur with EVAP lines. We worked on a bus that was brought in because its check engine light turned on. 

An EVAP code appeared. While we were performing a smoke test on the system, EVAP smoke came from the top of the fuel tank. We dropped the fuel tank and discovered a hole in one of the EVAP lines.

A hole in an EVAP line.
A hole in an EVAP line

Blocked fuel filter

Dirt and other contaminants are kept out of the fuel system, thanks to help from the fuel filter. Fuel filter replacement may be needed, as this part can get clogged.

Bad fuel pump:

The fuel pump could go bad, preventing fuel from coming out of the fuel tank. Corrosion build is possible, resulting in a fuel leak. Some indicators of a bad fuel pump include a decrease in power and misfires.

Other sources of fuel system problems include bad transfer pumps and failing high pressure fuel pumps.

Fuel systems and the Virginia State Inspection

For a vehicle to pass the Virginia Safety Inspection, the fuel system needs to be in good working order.

Our inspectors confirm that there aren’t any audible exhaust leaks. This can be indicated by cracks that are forming and fluid on the pipes or joints.

Leaking tailpipe on a Mazda.
Leaking tailpipe on a Mazda

Broken and insecure parts are other problems they check for when conducting the Virginia State Inspection. These components include joints, mufflers, exhaust manifolds, flex pipes, tailpipes, catalytic converters, and O2 sensors.

The other week, a Ford Ranger failed the inspection because the tailpipe and muffler needed to be replaced. It also had a broken hanger.

Broken hanger on a Ford Ranger.
Broken hanger on a Ford Ranger

Maintaining your vehicle’s fuel system

Taking care of fuel systems can keep them running correctly. One way you can maintain it is with fuel induction services, which remove carbon that has built up. 

This service improves a vehicle’s fuel efficiency, reduces emissions released through the tailpipe, and positively impacts engine power.

Fuel induction services should be conducted every 30,000 miles and GDI induction services are suggested every 15,000 miles. The frequency depends on the vehicle and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

BG 44K can be used between fuel induction services. This product cleans parts, such as combustion chambers and fuel injectors.

If a car sits for a really long time, there are special stabilizers you can put in your fuel to make sure it doesn’t go bad.

Another way to avoid problems with fuel systems is keeping your car clean. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to get rid of any corrosion that’s building up on the bottom. If left unaddressed, it can eat through your fuel lines.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near Dale City, 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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Transmission leaks and what can cause them

In Vehicle Fluids by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Have you noticed gold or red fluid in your garage or on your driveway? This can be a symptom of transmission leaks.

A vehicle’s transmission sends power from the engine to the wheels. The Transmission fluid lubricates components. In addition to gold and red, it can be black or pink.

If you notice any of these colors near your car, reach out to a nearby auto repair shop. You don’t want to wait long to have it checked out.

What causes transmission leaks?

Transmission fluid can leak from different areas.

You could have transmission leaks from the front pump seal and the rear output shaft seal.

Transmission leak on a Chevy Colorado.
Transmission leak on a Chevy Colorado

The pan gasket, solenoids and electrical connectors are possible places, as well. Certain vehicles are infamous for leaking through the electrical connectors.

On a lot of cars, the transmission cooler lines run to the radiator. So, transmission fluid may drip anywhere from the radiator to the transmission.

As they get older, a problem could occur with a bracket that holds the line. Sometimes, the lines rust and start leaking.

Certain trucks and vehicles used for towing have an external cooler, which might go in front of the radiator or have its own cooling fan. Transmission fluid may drain from here too.

Other leak sources include connections on the radiator and  – due to age – the cooler inside the transmission.

Transmission fluid and coolant

It’s important to be watchful of any transmission fluid floating around in the coolant reservoir. That can be an indication that there’s a problem. The transmission will push fluid into the engine coolant in the radiator. 

During an oil change, our technicians will conduct a courtesy inspection. As a part of this process, they check the fluids. The technicians aren’t just confirming the fluid levels – they’re also looking for problems like this.

Under extreme conditions, the transmission may push so much fluid into the coolant that it could appear pink.

Another possible problem that we would like to avoid is the engine coolant going back into the transmission. It’s much cheaper to replace the radiator than the transmission.

Transmission services and replacement

Certain components can be changed when transmission leaks are present.

If the problem is connected with transmission cooler lines or the cooler, new ones may be installed.

Different seals – the tailshaft seals, output shaft seals, and transmission pan seals – and o-rings are also replaceable. The type of seals on a vehicle depend on whether it’s four-wheel or front-wheel drive.

Transmission for Mustang.
Transmission replacement on Mustang

Depending on the location of the leak, a new transmission may be needed. For example, a Chevy Colorado we worked on a few months ago needed a new transmission. We believe the front pump seal behind the torque converter busted. We are capable of putting in new front pump seals, but sometimes it isn’t worth it.

You may also notice certain symptoms if you have a bad transmission, such as trouble switching gears.

A great way to reduce any transmission problems is through regular transmission fluid exchanges. This mileage-based service cleans out contaminants that buildup in the fluid overtime and helps prevent parts from breaking down prematurely.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near Lake Ridge, 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 go to a place with tire professionals

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Today, numerous products can be ordered online, including car parts.

Some consumers have found that they can save money by purchasing tires this way. However, the cheaper option might not be the best in the long run.

When considering tires, it’s important to choose a high quality tire that’s the right fit for your vehicle. We recommend choosing the best option you can afford.

What many drivers don’t realize is that how the tires are purchased and installed can be as important as the tires themselves.

Knowledgeable tire professionals

We had a customer who bought tires online. After they were installed, the driver realized that they weren’t happy with their purchase.

It’s good to look at reviews online, but sometimes being able to talk to someone with experience can be very helpful.

BMW 7-Series tire replacement.

Certain tire producers will allow you to swap out tires up to a specified mileage. But you may be able to avoid this hassle by having your vehicle serviced by tire professionals.

They can provide you with a good recommendation based on the type of vehicle, where it’s driven, and what it’s used for.

They also may know about any available rebates offered by manufacturers.

When you go to a reputable auto repair shop, you gain the insight of those who work with tires everyday.

Delays and additional costs

Another drawback for ordering your tires online is if there are any defects or problems, you may be without your vehicle while you’re sending tires back and waiting for new ones.

The shop that’s replacing the tire won’t be able to have your car sit on the rack for a day or a week – however long it takes to get the tires in. You will be responsible for that extra cost.

It’s also important to keep in mind that other fees could come with replacing tires.

A tire installation shop may allow you to send tires there, but an additional surcharge may be applied. This doesn’t include the cost of mounting and balancing the tires.

An additional surcharge could also come with having a shop install tires that you ordered elsewhere. 

There are times where purchasing tires online is necessary. You might be in need of a speciality tire or a tire that’s hard to get. Maybe there’s only one kind of tire for a specific vehicle during a year or two.

In this case, we don’t mind if you order tires – we may even recommend it. Some of those places do have their value.

Road hazard warranty

Road hazard is another possible benefit of going to a place with tire professionals. We offer a nationwide road hazard warranty for tires that are purchased from us.

It can be helpful if the tire gets punctured.

Unrepairable tire on Dodge Durango.
Unrepairable tire on Dodge Durango

On the program we use, if a tire is within the initial 25 percent of the tread wear and isn’t repairable the insurance company covers as much as 100 percent of the cost of a new tire.

The road hazard becomes prorated once the tread wear is beyond the first 25 percent.

This plan lasts three years or until a spot on the tire is 2/32 of an inch or lower.

So, when purchasing tires online keep this in mind – sometimes, trying to save a few bucks isn’t worth it.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near Dumfries, 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 maintenance tips for winter

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Winter is almost upon us.

Before the frigid temperatures and unpredictable weather make their appearance, it’s important to check in on your vehicle.

Does it need any repairs? Is it all caught up on car maintenance?

Addressing any problems or concerns now helps extend the lifespan of different components and systems, and improves your safety on the road.

There are many items we recommend looking over. They include:

  • Battery
  • Tires
  • Tire pressure
  • Brakes
  • Belts
  • Windshield wipers
  • Headlights
  • Fluids

Car maintenance checklist

"Replace battery" on battery test for Nissan Xterra battery.


Confirming that your car has a good, high quality battery is one part of car maintenance.

When you bring it in to a mechanic or auto repair shop, see if they can perform a car battery test. 

During very hot and cold months, a weak car battery can die – and potentially leave you stranded.

To work properly, the battery must be secured properly and not have any corrosion buildup on the terminals.

Additional details are provided in an article we wrote about battery problems.

BFGoodrich Train-Terrain T/A Tire.


Tires play a large part in your safety. A dependable tire with a good tread depth can prevent you from hydroplaning on rainy days.

To pass the Virginia state inspection, the tread should be at least 2/32 of an inch. Based on the tire and the car you drive, you might want to replace them sooner.

You also don’t want to use tries that are too old or have tire damage.

There are plenty of winter tires and all season tires to choose from. You can learn about a few new Michelin tires we recommend in this article we wrote.

Tire pressure

It’s not only a good idea to replace tires when it’s necessary. With the colder days, you should take a closer look at your current tires, especially if the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light turns on. 

If all of the tires are low this time of year, it’s probably a result of the drop in temperatures. One tire having less air than the rest could indicate that it has been injured by a nail or other object. 

You don’t want to drive on low tires for very long, because it can lead to the outside edges wearing prematurely.

Check out our article about tire pressure and why it matters for more information.

Heat spots on brake rotor.


Brakes require regular checkups, too. Brake pads, rotors and other components wear out overtime. 

It’s important that the brake system is in good working order, in case inclement weather hits.

Brake replacement should be performed when they reach 2/32 of an inch (or sooner). Grinding and squealing sounds can also clue you in that it’s time for brake repair.

Our article “Does my car need new brakes” talks about how often brakes should be replaced and brake services we offer. 

Dark power steering fluid on Nissan Altima.


How is your coolant, windshield washer fluid, oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering looking?

Are any of them low? There might be a leak that needs to be resolved. 

Does the power steering, transmission, or brake fluid appear dark? You may want to have it replaced through a mileage-based service. These flushes ensure that related parts last as long as possible. 

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near Dale City, 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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New Michelin tires that are dependable in winter

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Winter can bring freezing rain, snow and ice.

Your vehicle needs a set of tires that are able to handle any inclement weather that you come across.

New Michelin tires have become available during the past few years. They include:

  • Michelin Defender 2 Tire
  • Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 Tire
  • BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tire
  • Uniroyal Power Paw A/S Tire

These options are designed for different vehicles and the traits they offer vary. But they are all tires you can rely on year-round, including wintertime.

We go into more detail about each tire below.

New Michelin tires

Michelin Defender 2 Tire

Michelin Defender 2 Tire.
Michelin Defender 2 Tire

A long-lasting tire is available for passenger cars and crossovers: the Michelin Defender 2 Tire.

This is an upgraded version of the Michelin Defender Tire, which has grown in popularity.

Backed by an 80,000 mile warranty, the Michelin Defender 2 Tire can provide average drivers with several years of worry-free travels.

The all-season tire’s long lifespan isn’t the only perk. It also has a stopping distance that bypasses those on other tires. 

Plus, it provides a comfortable and quiet ride for users, due to its even wear capabilities.

Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 Tire

When it comes with winter weather, the Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 Tire has your back. 

An all season tire, it provides sports cars with traction in dry, wet and snowy conditions. 

Full-depth sipes that interlock offer biting edges, so maintaining grip while it’s raining or snowing isn’t a problem.

Helio+ technology, which provides advanced rubber, kicks in during freezing weather. Meanwhile, Extreme Silica+ tread compound comes in handy when the roads are slippery.

The Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 Tire also lasts. This can be attributed to Dynamic Response Technology.

BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tire

BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tire.
BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tire

The BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tire is made for larger vehicles – SUVs, CUVs and light trucks.

Rated for severe snow, it comes with better snow traction than other tires. Full-depth 3D sipes enhance the traction and power.

This all season tire was designed with adventure in mind. Thanks to a serrated shoulder, it’s able to journey across soft soil. With its chipping and tearing resistance, driving on gravel roads is also possible.

Offering a 60,000 mile warranty, the BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tire is there to be your travel companion for many activities.

And, because of the optimized footprint design, it will provide you a comfortable and quiet ride along the way. 

Uniroyal Power Paw A/S Tire

Uniroyal Power Paw Tire.
Uniroyal Power Paw Tire

For everyday drivers, the Uniroyal Power Paw A/S Tire may be the right choice. 

The ultra high-performance tire is designed for SUVs and CUVs.

It offers a long lifespan, thanks to Tru-Last Technology. This feature also helps control stress on the tire, enabling the tread to wear evenly.

Great for every season, the Uniroyal Tiger Paw comes with a 45,000 mile warranty.

The tires highlighted in this article are just a few produced by Michelin Tire, BFGoodrich Tire and Uniroyal Tire. 

If you’d like to learn more information about these tires or others available, reach out to a tire shop you can trust. One of our team members would be happy to answer any questions you have.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near Lake Ridge, 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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Tire pressure and why it matters

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are any of your car’s tires looking lower than normal? You may have a flat tire, or it could have something to do with the outside temperature.

As winter approaches, it’s important to keep an eye on your vehicle’s tire pressure. 

This is especially true if you are planning to travel long distances for the holiday season or winter vacations.

Tire pressure is one of the items our automotive technicians check when performing a digital vehicle inspection.

Why does tire pressure decrease?

When outside temperatures decrease, the pounds per square inch (PSI) does too. So, all four tires appearing a bit deflated is probably related to the drastic weather change.

If one tire seems lower than the rest, you may have a tire puncture. When performing tire repairs, we follow guidelines from the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association. 

Keep in mind that not all tire injuries are repairable. Depending on the location and angle, the tire might need to be replaced. We can’t patch punctures on the sidewall or inner or outer shoulder. 

Continuing to drive on a flat tire can lead to more tire damage.

Signs of low tire pressure

One way you can tell if you have low tire pressure is if the sidewalls are wider at the bottom. 

Handling problems is another indicator. For example, if the pressure is really low, the sidewall could roll more as a vehicle is turning. The braking may be impacted, as well.

You might also notice more tire wear if there isn’t enough air.

A lot of cars today have a tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS). You should check your tires if the TPMS light (which is the symbol with an exclamation mark) turns on.

Bad TPMS sensor shown on scanner.
Bad TPMS sensor

Low tire pressure and flat tires can trigger this warning light. It can also appear if a TPMS sensor has a bad circuit board or battery.

If any of your car’s tires appear low or if they look OK and the TPMS light is on, have an automotive expert or autoshop look into the issue. 

The correct amount of air in tires

You may be wondering why the amount of air in a tire matters. Well, it can play a role in the tire’s lifespan.

Tire pressure guidelines for Pilot Sport All-Season 4 Tire.
Tire pressure guidelines on tire sidewall

There shouldn’t be too much or not enough air in a tire. Too little air can cause the outer edges to experience premature wear. Excessive air can eventually result in damage to the tire’s center.

The right amount of pressure varies among vehicles. This information can be found on the tire sidewall or the door jam on the driver’s side. In general, it can range from 32 to 36 PSI.

Toyota Camry tire information placard.
Tire information placard on Toyota Camry

Tire pressure should be inspected regularly. We recommend getting your own tire pressure gauge. After you check the air in a tire, remember to replace the valve stem cap. 

If you aren’t sure how to check your tire pressure or you need a refresher, take a look at our article and video.

Sometimes, drivers will add Nitrogen to their tires. This enables the tire pressure to remain more consistent. Due to the temperature change in fall, the pressure should be adjusted.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near Dumfries, 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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HomeTowne Auto Repair invests in thermal imager

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

It’s becoming faster and easier for our technicians to locate leaks and address other car problems.  

HomeTowne Auto Repair recently invested in a Diagnostic Thermal Imager.

We can use this new device as we look into a wide range of concerns – from something as simple as a tire repair to catalytic converter problems.

On the screen, heat appears in yellow and the temperature of a targeted area is displayed. Friction as well as increases and decreases in pressure are also shown. 

Screenshots of the thermal image may be taken and saved. Then, we can share them with customers and members of our team.

How we use the Diagnostic Thermal Imager

Tire repair

Sometimes, it can be difficult to find the leak on a flat tire. Using this technology, we are able to pick out the tire puncture. 

An object is going to be a different temperature – and, therefore, a different color – than the tire. For example, a metal nail has been hitting the ground repeatedly and will probably be very hot.

Coolant system

The device comes in handy when diagnosing coolant system problems, as well. On an overheating car, our automotive technicians can see where the coolant is moving to. If it isn’t getting past the thermostat, it could mean that the thermostat isn’t opening or closing. 

This also proves true with heating problems. A lack of heat may be caused by a blockage in the radiator. We are able to check out the coolant temperature as it goes in and out.

Live and thermal images of thermostat operations.

Exhaust system

Exhaust system problems can be solved, too.

We have been able to use the technology to look at the inlet and outlet temperature. This allowed us to confirm that a vehicle’s catalytic converter was working correctly, and that the converter on another car needed to be replaced.

Measuring inlet and outlet temperature of exhaust system using the Diagnostic Thermal Imager.
Measuring inlet and outlet temperature of an exhaust system

Electrical problems

Finding the reason why a car is experiencing electrical issues is another way this device helps us.

With all of the electronics on vehicles today, there could be a relay or a circuit turning on when it’s not supposed to. The thermal imager allows our technicians to see what components are on, since the parts heat up when electricity is running through them.

These are just a few concerns that we are able to address with this tool. There are many other types of repair it can be used for, including engine misfires, malfunctioning alternators, and brake problems.

Other ways this device helps us

This new technology we invested in allows us to better serve our customers.

However, it doesn’t just assist with finding problems. The device improves quality control by providing us with clear before and after pictures to confirm the repairs.

We also have access to photos that illustrate when a component is working correctly or going bad.

The thermal imager helps increase efficiency, too. 

Many problems can’t be seen just looking at a part – they often require additional tests that take time. Our new tool gives us the ability to look below the surface and narrow down our search.

With this device, technicians are able use the temperature changes to determine the root cause of problems logically.

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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Steering problem, hard brake pedal on a Chevy

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Multiple car problems can stem from the same issue.

A Chevy Tahoe was towed to our auto repair shop because it suddenly became very hard to steer and brake.

The steering problem and hard brake pedal were the results of a bad power steering pump.

Through diagnostic testing, our technician determined that – even though the pump was somewhat new – it wasn’t pushing power steering fluid out. 

The pulley is missing from the power steering pump on a Chevy Tahoe.

To function properly, the power steering system needs a power steering pump to supply pressure to the rack and pinion. This makes it easy to turn the wheel.

On some systems, the vacuum booster provides a vehicle with power brakes. This Tahoe, however, uses a hydroboost system. The power steering pump supplies pressure to the hydroboost system, which acts like a brake booster. 

Because the intermediate steering shaft was broken, the power steering pump wasn’t working and the brake pedal was difficult to push.

A pulley from a Chevy Tahoe with the broken steering shaft.
A pulley from a Chevy Tahoe with the broken steering shaft

A malfunctioning brake booster and a bad power steering pump aren’t the only causes behind a hard brake pedal. The problem can also occur if there is a crack in the vacuum hose or electronic problems with the electro hydraulic brake booster.

Other steering problem symptoms

The steering shaft connects the steering column with the rack and pinion or steering gear box. Sometimes it can become rusted and get stuck.

Another steering problem you might experience is a stiff steering wheel, which may be a sign that power steering fluid is leaking from the rack and pinion.

A steering wheel could feel loose, as well. Damaged pitman arms and a bad wheel alignment are some potential culprits behind a loose steering wheel. 

There are some electric power steering units that will bind up if you turn them too fast. We have found that the power steering pumps on certain vehicles – like Dodge Durangos and Dodge Chargers – have a small amount of fluid. They don’t have a labyrinth of lines, like most power steering systems, and will bind up for a split second when they are under a lot of stress.

You should also be watchful of your vehicle pulling to one side. This could be an indicator of a bad wheel alignment or mean that parts, such as lower control arms, need to be replaced.

It’s a good idea to have a tire alignment conducted each year, after you get new tires, and following any suspension work.

Taking care of your power steering system

To help your car’s power steering system last as long as possible, we recommend power steering fluid exchanges.

The mileage-based service takes care of several parts, such as the rack and pinion and power steering pump. Depending on the type of vehicle you drive and the manufacturer’s recommendation, power steering flushes should be performed every 30,000 miles.

Your car may need a power steering fluid exchange if the fluid is dark and you notice choppy steering. Whining or grinding noises are other possible indicators. 

Aside from changing out the power steering fluid on a regular basis, you should make sure that steering components are replaced when needed. These parts wear out or break from daily use and impacts. Putting off steering system repairs for too long can impact your safety.

It also doesn’t hurt to give your car a chance to warm up during the winter. Fluid tends to move through the system more easily when the fluid is warmer.

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