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Is your check engine light on?

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A catalytic converter helps reduce pollution by changing a vehicle’s exhaust emission.

Ray from HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire installed a new one on a Dodge Caravan on Monday.

The vehicle was brought to the shop when the check engine light came on. 

When checking the O2 sensors on the computer, he realized that the catalytic converter wasn’t working properly.

Catalyic Converter
An old catalytic converter and a new catalytic converter

Different types of two-way and three-way converters are available. Years ago, one-way converters were used. 

Ray installed a two-way converter, which contains chemicals that changes the air.

The type of converter a vehicle needs depends on the make and model, and how the engine runs. 

Some converters don’t go bad. 

Others may need replacing if a misfire occurs. A misfire shoots raw fuel in the converter, which can’t switch over raw fuel. 

In addition to the check engine light coming on, the smell of raw fumes is another sign that a vehicle needs a new one. However, the check engine light would be your first indicator.

There are many reasons why the check engine light turns on. If it does, it’s a good idea to bring the vehicle into an auto repair shop soon.

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 leaks in Toyota Tundra’s and Sequoia’s

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Oil leaks are a common problem with some Toyota Tundra’s and Sequoia’s.

HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire has certified technicians who can help solve them.

This week, HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire Automotive Technician Ray addressed an oil leak by replacing a camshaft cover seal. 

The seal was located between the camshaft housing and head of the Toyota V8 engine.

To get to the seal, he needed to remove the valve covers, front cover, timing chain, and camshafts.

Drivers can have their vehicles checked during oil changes to make sure there aren’t any issues.

Parking on a clean surface will allow them to see if a puddle is forming. 

Typically, engine oil is black, brown or yellow. These are a few other reasons why a vehicle may be leaking.

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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Are animals living in your car?

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are animals making themselves at home in your vehicle?

As the cooler temperatures begin to creep in, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for various creatures that seek shelter in or near it.

“I’ve removed anything from mice, rats, squirrels, and their nests,” HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire Owner ST Billingsley said. “I’ve removed cats, snakes, and even a chinchilla.” 

Many critters are drawn to your car’s warmth.

The normal operating temperature of engines are 220 degrees, and they stay warm for hours after the vehicle is turned off. 

Others view it as protection from predators.

An owl can see a frog through a leaf, but can’t see it through metal.

The sweet smell of coolant can also attract animals.

So, it’s important to pay attention, especially right now. 

You should check your oil once a week. That’s a perfect time to check to make sure nests aren’t being formed and installation isn’t getting chewed up.

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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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.