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Having shifting problems? Here are some possible causes.

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Have you noticed any changes when shifting gears? Shifting problems may appear out of nowhere and worsen as time goes on.

The symptoms that drivers experience can vary. When having the issue checked out, you may be asked what you are noticing and when.

For some, it may feel like it’s slipping or clunking into gear. Others may experience a fluttering or hear a noise. Perhaps they are having trouble shifting out of park.

Then, there are various circumstances during which the issue occurs. Does it happen at specific gears, when you’re accelerating, or as you travel up hills? 

How do shifting problems occur?

A wide range of transmission problems lead to gear switching issues.

The issue could lie with low or contaminated transmission fluid. If impurities are in the fluid, the auto repair shop or mechanic might recommend a transmission fluid exchange. When performing this service, technicians replace the fluid, which breaks down overtime.

They may look for any transmission leaks if the car has low transmission fluid.

Shifting problems can also be caused by bad components. For example, seals on the transfer case sometimes fail and send the fluid from the transmission into the transfer case.

A bad brake light switch or the shift interlock solenoid sticking could prevent drivers from switching gears (usually out of park).

There’s also the news that a lot of drivers dread – a bad transmission. Crunching and grinding noises, a whining sound, and a vehicle slipping out of gear are some symptoms you may notice when the transmission is going bad.

Overheating of the transmission or transmission fluid is another possible culprit behind shifting issues. 

Certain vehicles have transmission coolers that cool the fluid. Some of them even have thermostats built into them. They need to reach a specific temperature before the transmission fluid starts flowing. They can become clogged or stop working.

Electronic issues – such as sensor inputs, a shift solenoid or a speed sensor – may occur, as well.

Torque converters malfunctioning and clutch discs in the automatic transmission wearing out can also make it difficult to switch gears.

What can be mistaken for a shifting problem

We’ve discussed many different culprits behind shifting problems. However, it’s important to note that something that seems like a transmission issue may be stemming from another problem.

With a lot of cars now, they’ll have a knob in the center console as the gear selector. People sometimes spill coffee and soda on them, ruining the switch.

Another item to check – as silly as it may sound – is whether you took the parking brake off. This can make it feel like the transmission is having a shifting or slipping problem. It happens more often than you think.

It might also be worth it to have an automotive expert check the brakes. A harder shift might be a result of brakes dragging, due to a bad disc brake caliper.

Clogged exhaust or a bad catalytic converter mimic a transmission problem, at times. This could change the shift points and give the impression that it’s slipping. 

Whether the problem is related to the transmission or not, schedule an appointment with an automotive professional to ensure that if it is a major issue it’s addressed immediately.

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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Why is my brake pedal going to the floor?

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Is your car’s brake pedal going to the floor? Does it seem like your brakes aren’t working the way they should? You may have what auto repair shops call a “soft brake pedal”.

It can be a nerve-wracking experience when the brakes are malfunctioning – especially as you’re driving.

If anything seems off with your vehicle, pull over in a safe location and reach out to an auto repair shop. The best (and safest) option may be having it towed.

Soft brake pedal causes

A few brake problems can lead to a soft brake pedal.

Leaking brake caliper on a Chrysler Town and Country.
A leaking brake caliper on a Chrysler Town and Country

One of our automotive technicians recently investigated why the brakes weren’t working on a Chrysler Town & Country. 

He realized that brake fluid was leaking from one of the rear brake calipers. We recommended replacing the caliper and the brake hose that was attached to it. A brake fluid exchange was suggested, as well.

The brake system consists of many components. Brake fluid may leak from the calipers, brake lines and brake hoses. Leaks could also occur at connections to the master cylinder and anti-lock braking system (ABS) pump.

A brake line leaking on a Chevrolet Impala.
A brake line leaking on a Chevrolet Impala

Invisible leaks are possible at the seal inside the master cylinder that leads to the brake booster. Fluid can get into the vacuum brake booster, which runs off engine vacuum. This causes it to travel through the engine and burn off.

Soft brake pedals aren’t just a result of leaks. They could also indicate that air is in the hydraulic brake system.

Rarely can you introduce air without trying to. It might occur if someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing replaces brakes and accidentally opens a bleeder. On occasion, oxygen may get into the system if enough moisture builds up and there’s a temperature change.

Another possibility is that the slide pins are frozen and preventing the bracket from moving back and forth.

Determining why brake pedal going to the floor

Our diagnostic process for a brake pedal going to the floor begins with making sure the bleeder screws break free.

Then, we flush the system and confirm air isn’t present. This process must be completed in a sequence.

If the brake pedal problem still hasn’t been resolved, our technicians check the slide pins.

A soft brake pedal may occur if the slide pins are stuck in the brake caliper and only the piston moves when you press the pedal.

Maintaining your brake system

You may not be able to avoid every brake problem, but there are things you can do to prevent a lot of future issues.

If a mechanic or auto repair shop you trust suggests brake repair – new brake lines or hoses, brake replacement, or getting a brake fluid exchange – make sure to follow up with the recommended services as soon as you can.

Having your vehicle looked over at oil changes is another good safety measure. 

When our technicians perform courtesy inspections and test drives, they look for various issues across the car. This includes rust buildup, broken or worn parts, leaks, car noises, and other concerns. 

Through these regular checkups, we are able to catch brake problems early on.

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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Solving headlight problems: headlight replacement vs restoration

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Do your car headlights have a foggy look to them?

You or someone you know may have noticed it when approaching your vehicle, or an auto repair shop might have said something during a recent visit. 

Hazy headlights are a result of the clear coating eventually wearing off.

They could cause a car to fail the Virginia State Inspection and – more importantly – impact a driver’s safety.

There are a couple ways that the problem can be addressed.

About headlight restoration

A temporary solution to foggy headlights is headlight restoration.

Through this process, sandpaper is used to take off the rest of the clear coat and make the surface smooth. Then, a new coat is put on.

Hazy headlights on a Mazda MX-5.
Hazy headlights on Mazda MX-5

Headlight restoration helps lights become clearer and typically lasts about a year.

It may be the right choice if you aren’t planning to keep the vehicle for much longer or you aren’t ready to replace the headlights.

Our Woodbridge auto repair shop offers headlight restoration and replacement.

Problems that can lead to headlight replacement

Changing the headlights is the long term option when you have hazy headlights or if your vehicle is experiencing other headlight problems.

If one or both headlights aren’t turning on at all, a technician might need to take a deeper look at what’s going on.

Getting the lights to work the way they were designed could lead to headlight replacement. 

There might be bad wires or cracks have developed, possibly impacting the aiming pattern. A headlight aligner machine can be used to check the candlepower and direction. 

Spider cracks on a Toyota Corolla headlight.
Spider cracks on a Toyota Corolla headlight

This article we wrote talks more about aiming and other items that are checked during the Virginia State Inspection.

As we look at a vehicle, we want to ensure that the lights are aligned right. For many cases, the headlight assembly just needs to be adjusted. If the issue lies with the assembly itself and the bulb won’t sit quite right, you will need to replace the assembly.

Other internal problems also occur sometimes. Contacts that connect with plastic connectors may corrode and melt over time.

Depending on the type of car you have, it might have LED or HID headlights. When replacing the light bulb, a new headlight assembly may need to be installed.

When changing headlights

Headlights typically last somewhere around 5 and 10 years. Where you drive and how they are made will impact the lifespan.

When it comes time to replace them, make sure you use high quality headlights that will last you as long as possible.

The ones being installed should also come with an SAE stamp. Cheap headlights may not have one or the numbers that come with it.

Headlights can only be used on the road – and pass the Virginia Safety Inspection – if the correct markings are present.

At the end of the day, safety is the main priority.

It’s important that your car lights are working correctly so you can see and be seen while driving at night and in inclement weather.

If you notice something wrong, schedule an appointment with an automotive professional and have them look into 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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What happens when braking and common brake wear

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Stepping on the brake pedal is an action we often take without thinking about it. However, the braking process is made up of many steps.

What happens is determined by the type of brakes a vehicle uses – disc brakes or drum brakes.

Using the braking system

As we step on the brake pedal, a rod presses into the master cylinder. The result is pressurized brake fluid, which moves down the brake lines. 

On disc brakes, the fluid goes through the brake hoses and to the brake calipers, which are prompted to press the brake pads and rotors together. The friction that’s produced causes the car to stop.

Drum brakes, on the other hand, have brake hoses that link brake lines with a combination valve and wheel cylinders. The brake fluid encourages the wheel cylinder pistons to go out. This draws the brake shoes against the drum.

Common brake wear

Brake wear is bound to happen as your vehicle ages. Eventually, brake repair is needed or braking system components must be replaced. These parts include:

  • Anti-lock braking system (ABS) units
  • Brake calipers
  • Brake fluid
  • Brake hardware
  • Brake hoses
  • Brake lines
  • Brake pads and rotors
  • Wheel cylinders

Anti-lock braking system (ABS) units: The ABS makes sure that brakes don’t lock up during emergencies, allowing drivers to maintain control. Sometimes, hydraulic units can malfunction and keep a brake engaged.

Used brake caliper for Mini Cooper.
Used brake caliper

Brake calipers: Sometimes, new calipers are needed. Maybe they aren’t moving or are stuck in one position. That can either mean constant contact or no contact at all. You might also have to replace brake calipers if the bleeder won’t come free when servicing the brake fluid. The caliper slides could also get stuck inside the caliper. Broken boots on the piston and leaking from the pistons are common problems.

Dark brake fluid on a Land Rover.
Dark brake fluid

Brake fluid: Brake fluid prevents corrosion buildup on brake parts. Contaminants can eventually start collecting in the fluid, reducing its effectiveness. Brake fluid should regularly be replaced through brake fluid exchanges.

Brake hardware: Certain vehicles come with brake hardware, a metal part that can be found between the pad and caliper bracket. This spring tension component secures the brake pad so it doesn’t bang around. Brake hardware might break or get rusted. This may prevent the brake pad from sliding in the rail properly, and the pads could wear down prematurely.

Brake hoses: Brake hoses can leak and they can deteriorate from the inside out – due to corrosive brake fluid – which keeps the fluid from flowing into or out of the caliper.

Brake lines: These are hard lines that can leak or corrode.

Low brakes on Toyota Tacoma.
Low brakes

Brake pads and rotors: Brake pads and rotors are the components drivers normally think of when it comes to brake repair or brake replacement. When you step on the brake pedal, the front of a vehicle will nose dive, bringing most of the weight with it. Because front brakes handle much of the stopping capabilities, they tend to wear more quickly than rear brakes.

Wheel cylinders: Wheel cylinders on drum brakes can blow out and start leaking. This is the most common problem.

Many brake parts need to be serviced overtime. Taking care of this system and being watchful of any brake failure symptoms can help keep you safe during your travels. 

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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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.