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Why you should check your lug nuts and wheel bolts

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A lot of cars, trucks and SUVs have lug nuts or lug stud bolts – depending on the make – have a chrome coat or chrome caps. 

Over a period of time – due to normal wear and tear and the environment – they’ll start to rust between the iron part of the lug nut and the aluminum coating, or cap. This will cause the lug nuts to swell up. 

When you’re considering why you should go to your local repair shop over one of these speedy oil change places, keep in mind that an automotive technician can make recommendations and see what’s going on.

Why replacing a lug nut is important

If your lug nuts are starting to become damaged – whether they’re getting rounded off or they’re starting to rust underneath and the caps are beginning to swell up – it can make it difficult to remove wheels.

When they are replaced as needed, it’s easier to get your wheels on and off as you’re getting your tires rotated at your regular oil change intervals.  

This simple service doesn’t just permit maintenance to be performed on your vehicle. It also comes into play during unexpected situations.

Lug nuts that are swollen up due to the caps can also prevent you from replacing a flat tire on the side of the road. If you need to get your lug nuts off, your lug wrench may not fit correctly and you won’t be able to remove the lug nut. 

An auto repair shop over torquing your lug nuts or lug bolts is another issue you should look out for.

If the mechanics aren’t using a torque wrench to torque them correctly they could actually be over torquing them. Over a period of time, the threads start to stretch a little bit, damage you really can’t see until it’s too late.

How much are lug nuts? When should you change them?

Depending on the type of vehicle it is and the age, the lug nuts may need to be replaced anywhere between five and 15 years. The cost of lug nuts or lug bolts can range from $2 to $7 or $8 a piece on most vehicles. 

If your auto repair shop is taking the wheels off – whether it’s to conduct a wheel alignment, tire rotation, or brake repair – it may be worth your while to ask them if the lug nuts need to be changed. I can tell you right now that we would much rather put on new ones if we know they’re getting worn or damaged. This makes it easier for everyone all around.

Checking the lug nuts is part of our digital vehicle inspection that we perform as part of a normal oil change service. It’s one area we look at so we can provide that recommendation to you. 

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

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How to save gas and get better gas mileage

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

As gas prices have increased throughout the year, a lot of commuters are considering how they can cut down on their bill at the pump.

While you can’t change how much gas costs, there are many things you can do to make the fuel you do buy last.

How to save gas while driving

  • Clean your vehicle (including the trunk): Clear out the clutter and dirt, which can add weight and cause you to travel slower.
  • Reduce the amount of time you leave your engine running at idle: Many of us have the habit of running the engine when we first get into the car or are about to get out. This is especially true during colder months, when we run the defroster. While it’s a great idea to let the engine warm up, we suggest limiting it to a couple of minutes. And when you arrive at your destination, turn the vehicle off when sending a text or gathering your items.
  • Minimize trips around town: Try to combine stops at the grocery store, dry cleaner, the post office, and other errands into one trip. That way, you are reducing the amount of trips out and back home.
  • Reduce your speed and use cruise control: Do you have a lead foot? Consider letting up on the gas pedal and using cruise control. Both of these strategies can help improve your gas mileage.
  • Brake gradually: Bumper to bumper traffic is a common trait of Northern Virginia. If you are experiencing heavy congestion, give yourself enough space between your vehicle and the one in front of you, and brake slowly. Your gas usage is lower when you don’t brake suddenly.

How to get better gas mileage

  • Make sure your oil isn’t low: When you don’t have enough oil in the system, engine components aren’t properly lubricated. This also means that the engine needs to put in more effort, in order to function correctly.
  • Use high quality oil and change the oil filters: Regular oil changes are a very important part of maintaining your vehicle. This service should be done every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on the vehicle. Simply having the oil filter changed can reduce the chance of gas being wasted.
save gas
  • Have spark plugs replaced: Spark plugs are responsible for igniting the fuel in the cylinder head under high compression. Replacing them when needed ensures that you will be able to start your car and that it is fuel-efficient.
  • Regular tune-ups: Tune-ups enable mechanics to take a deeper look at a vehicle and spot any problems. These include any issues that may impact gas mileage, like bad spark plugs and any needed transmission services.
save gas
  • Take care of the fuel system: Maintaining the fuel system is another great way to improve fuel economy. This can be done through a fuel induction service, which we recommend every 30,000 miles. The service also restores engine power and reduces emissions that are released through the tailpipe.

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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Cadillac CTS wheel alignment cost

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire works on Cadillacs of all makes and models.

Our Cadillac service includes wheel alignments, which help prevent premature tire wear. We recommend having it checked once a year or when new tires are installed.

While conducting an alignment, we use high quality parts and a computerized alignment system. Various specifications, such as caster, camber and toe are checked through this process.

How much does an alignment for a Cadillac CTS cost?

Wheel alignment prices aren’t set in stone and depend on several factors.

The average cost for a Cadillac CTS wheel alignment is between $98 and $132, not including taxes and fees.

If the caster or camber need to be adjusted, a special tool is required, which could increase the cost to between $220 and $278. The price can also depend on whether additional parts are required.

This service could be done as part of a larger repair or tire replacement, so it may not represent the total cost.

What could impact a Cadillac’s alignment?

Aside from getting a car alignment annually and when tires are replaced, you may need one when certain circumstances occur.

Some issues could throw a Cadillac out of alignment, including normal wear and tear, potholes, and certain components — such as tie rod ends, ball joints, and control arm bushings.

Work completed by automotive professionals might impact a car alignment, as well.

Some automotive centers may try to perform one as if it’s a rear wheel vehicle when it really needs an all wheel alignment. This could cause them to use the wrong specifications. Depending on the year of the Cadillac, there can be different suspension specifications. Certain Cadillacs have a standard and sports package, which gives them different ride heights. If you use the wrong specifications, that may cause premature tire wear.

We use the vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to load the specifications into our alignment machine. This machine is updated every year to make sure we have the most accurate information from the manufacturer.

What are symptoms of a bad wheel alignment?

A few symptoms can be clues that you need a tire alignment.

One indicator of a bad wheel alignment is the steering wheel could be slightly off-center.

Hitting a bump in the road might impact how much the steering wheel needs to be turned while driving down the road. 

You can also feel as if the vehicle is pulling to one side on a flat road. You should take into account that there could be a crown in the road, which may be causing it to pull.

Tires wearing unevenly is another symptom drivers might notice when a tire alignment is needed.

If you think that you are in need of a Cadillac CTS wheel alignment, it’s a good idea to reach out to an auto repair shop near you or having it looked over by a local mechanic.

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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What does a tune up consist of?

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When was the last time you had a mechanic thoroughly check over your vehicle?

Although it is important to make sure basic car maintenance – like oil changes and inspections – is performed, automobiles also require a tune up every once in a while.

“Tune up” is a term you may have heard or read in reference to regular automotive work. 

Because cars are made up of many computers and updated equipment, the procedure of a tune up looks a bit differently than years past. In the old days, you would replace the distributor cap, rotor, spark plug wires, spark plugs, PCV valve, fuel filter, air filter, and set the timing.

A tune up now could involve spark plugs, ignition coils, ignition coil boots, PCV tubes, and injector cleaning.

Even though there may not be as many parts being changed, tune ups are still just as important.

tune up

What is the purpose of a tune up?

Through tune ups, technicians are able to catch issues you may not notice in your daily travels before they become major problems.

They are also able to ensure that your vehicle is up to date on all maintenance needs. This includes mileage based services, like the fuel induction service.

The fuel induction service, which should be performed every 30,000 miles or so – depending on the vehicle – gets rid of carbon that has built up in the engine. In addition to restoring the engine’s performance, it helps prevent engine damage.

Parts may be replaced during a tune up, as well.

Spark plugs, which ignite the fuel in the cylinder head under high compression, are one example. Years ago, they were changed around 30,000 miles. Nowadays, they have a longer lifespan and can typically last for as long as 60,000 to 105,000 miles.

How much is a tune up? 

There isn’t one set answer for the cost of a tune up. Usually, it can range from $100 to $500 (or more). 

The price tag varies based on the type of vehicle, where you have it serviced, the work that the auto repair shop provides, and if new parts need to be installed.

Keep in mind that some cars require special tools in order to replace components. 

The type of work needed may also impact the cost because of the labor required. Various parts may need to be removed in order to install new spark plugs, a process that could take several hours. 

It’s important to use the correct type of spark plug. Just because it fits, it may not be the right spark plug for the vehicle. Different engines and manufacturers have different tolerances. That’s why we like to use O.E. manufacturer recommended spark plugs. Since today’s vehicles operate under much closer tolerances, it is worth spending the money on the right plug over a cheap alternative.

What happens if you don’t do a tune up?

When you hear an estimate for a tune up, it may be more than you feel like spending. But the money that you put in now may be saving you from receiving an unexpected (or possibly more expensive) bill.

For example, if bad spark plugs aren’t replaced it could ruin your catalytic converter, which can cost between $700 and $1,200 each. Some vehicles have three or four of them.

Additional parts that may need to be replaced, including intake plenum caskets as well as rubber and plastic vacuum lines, as they get brittle with age.

Avoiding a tune up doesn’t just prevent you from making sure all pieces are functioning. You could also miss out on an opportunity to help your vehicle run more efficiently and last longer.

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 grinding? Why is that?

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Have you been hearing an unpleasant sound as you’re slowing down? It may be your brakes grinding.

A grinding noise while braking could mean that the brake pads have become worn and their plates and the brake rotors are rubbing together.

Grinding is one of several symptoms that your vehicle is in need of brake repair. A large amount of brake dust can be another indicator that the brakes are ready to be replaced.

Per state inspection guidelines, brake pads should be at least 2/32 of an inch. Depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations, we may suggest changing them sooner.

Brake pads are one of the items our technicians check during courtesy inspections.

What does it mean if you notice a grinding noise when braking, but the pads are fine?

A symptom that can seem like brakes grinding at low speed could actually be the anti-lock braking system (ABS) engaging incorrectly. This can be due to an ABS wheel speed sensor or a problem with a hub bearing or wheel bearing causing the system to engage when it’s not supposed to.

What can cause brakes grinding noise other than normal pad and rotor wear?

If you notice a grinding sound, it may be that the pads and rotors are wearing unevenly or prematurely because of the wheel bearings. Whether they have the normal tapered bearing or a hub bearing setup, if the bearings are worn and are allowing the wheel to move back and forth it can create a different angle of pressure on the rotor and brake pads. That may lead them to wear out faster in one spot. You do want to get your vehicle checked out by a nearby auto repair shop to not only take care of the symptom but also the root cause.

Brakes grinding when stopping may be the result of rust building up on the rotors. This could just be from sitting for a while without driving the vehicle. If it’s not too bad, it will normally go away after the first two or three times you hit the brakes when driving down the road. The issue could also be caused by the type of metal the rotors are made out of and the way the pads are manufactured. It may result in irregular grooves and limited pad contact, which would allow rust to build up and noise to occur whenever you hit the brake pedal.

brakes grinding

Why should you bring your car into a local repair shop when you hear a grinding noise?

Brakes could cause a grinding noise when there is a mechanical problem with the brake caliper, the hardware, or the caliper bracket. We have seen where sometimes the brake caliper hardware dislodges and gets caught on the rotor, producing a grinding sound. Bolts may be missing from the caliper bracket, causing the whole caliper assembly to move when pressing the brake. It could even be that the brake disc caliper has seized so it’s not sliding back and forth. The piston pushing the inboard pad is another possible issue. That can not only lead to rust build up on one side of the rotor, it can cause the inboard pad to wear down much faster. So if you look at the brakes through the wheel, the outboard pad will look fine but the inboard pad will be metal to metal. That’s why it’s a good idea to have your car checked at a local auto repair shop.

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 have a battery problem?

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

How do you know if your battery is going bad? 

The first indication is that you’re getting a slow crank or that your battery light is flashing or staying on. Keep in mind, that could also be a sign that the alternator is going bad. But usually the battery is the first place to check.

Here are some common problems that we see going on with the battery. 

Drivers not having a battery hold down is one of them. It’s important to securely keep the battery in place. 

Believe it or not, that $15 to $50 battery hold down – depending on the type of vehicle you have – is actually very important, not only for state inspections but also so your battery doesn’t go bad. 

Some people will try to hold them in with bungee cords, but it just doesn’t work. If it’s able to bounce up and down while you’re driving, the plates can break or become separated. The glass that separates the plates on glass mat batteries may also break and cause problems. 

Battery problem

Corrosion on the battery terminals is another battery problem. A little bit of acid seeps up from those batteries due to the electrons going through. The type of metal that the battery cables and the battery materials are made out of start to corrode and appear as though someone poured baking soda on it. That corrosion not only gets between the terminal and the battery cable That restricts the amount of electricity that’s able to flow through to the starter or the car, and if the alternator is trying to charge it up the power can’t get back to the battery.

The life of the battery may also be impacted when you use cheap, universal battery terminals. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great when you’re working on an older vehicle or trying to get down the road after a cable breaks. We’ve used them for years. However, if you don’t protect them and use battery sealant, moisture can get in and cause the battery cable going into the terminal to corrode or rust.

How to maintain a car battery

When you think you have a battery problem, you should visit a nearby repair shop, and they can perform a battery test. Our technicians conduct battery tests as part of our courtesy inspections

You should make sure the auto repair shop you go to is using a good tester. There are a lot of cheap ones on the market, but it’s important that the battery tester they have is able to check many different types of batteries. The universal testers may indicate that your battery is bad when it isn’t. 

Certain models, such as Mercedes, use an auxiliary 12 volt battery that has to do with brakes or other subsystems. So you could have a 12 volt battery for the car, another 12 volt battery for the brakes, and on some hybrids you may have a hybrid battery. For the electrical system on most vehicles, it’s the 12 volt that’s experiencing a battery problem. 

Some batteries that are serviceable do use battery water. In a pinch, just use distilled water. You can’t do anything on the ones that are sealed up. Certain car batteries contain a battery eye, which is a clear disc that will show green or red and let you know if it’s bad.   

A good battery will last four to six years, depending on the climate and where the battery was produced. A cheap battery may not last as long. Sometimes they go bad, due to age. They only last so long.

HomeTowne Auto Repair uses Interstate Batteries, because of the way they are constructed, the warranty that comes with them, and we know – with experience – the batteries last a while.

When you replace the batteries, you will want to place corrosion pads underneath the terminal. These help prevent corrosion from building up. 

Helpful tip: Say you’re at home and your car’s not starting. You can tell it has a little bit of power, you open the hood, and you notice you have a lot of corrosion on your battery terminals. You pour some baking soda and water (mixed together) on the corrosion. Also, believe it or not, a can of coca cola will sort of do the same thing. You just need to make sure to wash all the sugar off. So, if you use one of those two options and a wire brush or a piece of sandpaper to clean inside the terminal it may be just enough to get it cleaned up and create a connection so you can start your car. These are just some things you can do in a pinch  

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

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How to tell if your car alternator is bad

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are you having trouble starting your vehicle?

Your car alternator going bad could be the cause behind this problem.

Here are some bad alternator symptoms:

  • Battery light comes on
  • Grinding, growling and whirring noises
  • Electronics not working correctly
  • Dead or slow car battery
  • Burning electrical or rubber smell

More in-depth explanations of each indicator can be found below.

Battery light turns on: One of the first signs that you would see if your car alternator is going bad would be when the battery light comes on. It can be mistaken for a regular battery issue, but really it’s indicating that the battery isn’t being charged. Alternators are designed to take the load from the electrical system and charge the battery. Generally, you see 13 to 15 volts with an alternator. The battery light may turn on if it goes below that, or if it starts reaching 16 or 17 volts, which indicates an overcharging problem. Overcharging can cause many other problems in your vehicle. Depending on the electrical load – that can be anything from the air conditioning running, headlights, wiper blades, the radio, even the electrical doors like those found on minivans – can make the battery warning light flicker. That’s because the alternator is fluctuating and trying to compensate for the vehicle’s electrical load. If you start seeing that, it’s a good time to bring your car in for us to check the electrical system and, specifically, the alternator. That way you don’t end up on the side of the road.

Noises from under the hood: Hearing noises that are coming from underneath the hood is another common symptom to watch out for. Due to age and wear, the bearings on alternators can start to go bad. You may notice a grinding or growling noise. You can confirm that this is the problem if the alternator is on top by placing a screwdriver on the metal part of it and holding the screwdriver near your ear. If you hear the growling sound coming from there rather than another area, then that will tell you that the bearings are the culprit. Other noises can occur if the pulleys aren’t aligned correctly or the belt pulley bearings are worn, which can create grinding or growling noises and may sound as if it’s the alternator. Whirring is another bad alternator sound that will increase in frequency when you accelerate and decrease as you let off the gas. That is a sign that the alternator is trying to work really hard and is starting to go bad.

Electronics stop working or have delayed response: If your car alternator is going bad, the electronics on a vehicle may act haywire or work slower than normal. On some cars, you can see the dashboard behaving strangely  – the gauges may be moving back and forth, the lights might turn on and off. Newer vehicles have so many electronics. The alternator’s main job is making sure the car is safe to drive on the road. So, it could begin turning off electronics to ensure the engine and brakes continue to function. Really dim or bright headlights are another sign of a bad alternator. The headlights can appear dim if the component is undercharging or overcharging, the lights may get brighter as you hit the gas.

Dead battery or battery is slow to crank: Do you have a dead car battery, or has it taken longer to crank? You might not need a new battery. The problem could lie with the alternator. As you’re driving, the alternator is responsible for charging the battery. If it isn’t able to do that well, but it has enough juice to keep the electronics running the battery won’t be charged correctly and the next time you go to start the car you’re going to either have a slow crank or no crank. It may just “click” – as if you accidentally left your headlights on. You can jump start your car so you can head over to a car repair shop. But if you experience this problem, you should bring the vehicle in so a mechanic can check it out.

Burning smell: In extreme cases, drivers may notice something that smells like rubber or electrical wires are burning. The electronics inside the alternator or the bearings become hot and, next thing you know, you’re starting to cook the insulation on the wiring in the alternator. If it’s an electrical short, that’s where you get the wire burning smell. Basically, it’s an electrical fire. When the alternator is being overworked, it tries to push too much electricity through there and will melt items. If you notice this issue, you should stop and maybe even disconnect your car battery, because if there is an electrical short you don’t want any electricity running through there.

Drivers who experience any of these bad alternator signs should bring their vehicle to a nearby repair shop. The technicians at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire are able to check alternators, perform courtesy inspections, and conduct diagnostic testing. 

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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Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire provides great grip, braking

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

This isn’t your typical tire article.

Yes, we will be talking about the Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire. However, we were able to test it for ourselves and compare it with a competitor on a Toyota RAV4 at a recent ride and drive event.

Made up of angled blocks and interlocking sipes, this tire can be a bit intimidating at first look. Its design is different from more traditional ones that many people are used to seeing on the road.

However, the all season option comes with many great benefits.

Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire
We’re big into training. Here is a photo from a Michelin ride and drive event we attended.

Traction in all seasons

Let’s talk about traction.

The Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire offers awesome dry and wet grip, even after it has experienced some wear and tear.

The ride and drive instructors made sure to add water to the course. The Michelin CrossClimate 2 tires didn’t lose contact with the wet pavement. 

Not only can it be trusted in wet and dry conditions, it also works well in snowy weather. When worn, the snow traction is 30 percent better than other tires.

Stopping capabilities of the Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire

We can’t cover the Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire without mentioning its braking ability.

In dry weather, it stops up to 16 feet sooner than the leading competitor. That’s roughly how long a car is. When compared to competitive tires in standing water, it stops up to 56 feet shorter – the length of a greyhound bus. 

During testing, the Michelin CrossClimate 2 had stopped while the four leading competitors were still traveling more than 24 miles per hour.

If that isn’t enough to assure you of the safety it provides, here’s another fact: It’s Michelin’s most tested tire ever.

No noise

When driving down the highway, hearing sounds coming from your tires is normal – unless it’s a clacking sound, which may mean that you have a flat.

Noise isn’t an issue for the Michelin CrossClimate 2. Thanks to alternating tread locks of various sizes, you don’t hear a whirring sound.

After taking this tire on a test drive, a Michelin representative pointed out that it isn’t a noisy tire. As soon as he mentioned it, we realized that it was true – we heard no noise, even while weaving in and out of cones and going around sharp corners. 

The Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire lasts

This tire is backed by a 60,000 mile warranty.

With proper maintenance, such as tire rotations, it will have no problem making it that long. 

A lot of everyday drivers travel 12,000 or 13,000 miles a year. In that case, the Michelin CrossClimate 2 can last as long as four years, nearly a year longer than other tires.

The Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire may look a bit odd, but remember: appearances can be deceiving. Don’t let its design lead you to overlook its benefits.

Because of the design of this tire, it has more contact with the road than the standard design.

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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HomeTowne offering after hours key return option

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Life is hectic, as you are probably well aware of. 

On top of work, there is a flurry of activities, including spending time with loved ones and an array of tasks that need to be completed.

With the busyness of life, sometimes picking up your vehicle after it has been serviced while the repair shop is open just isn’t possible.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is now offering an after hours vehicle pickup option. 

Our new after hours key return provides a secure way for you to retrieve your key.

For safety, we don’t like to leave the doors unlocked with the keys in them. Also, with new technology on vehicles today, a lot of cars have a key fob where you don’t need to put the key in the ignition. If the key fob is in the vehicle, it may not allow us to lock the doors.

How does the after hours key return work?

We are open between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m on Saturday.

If you aren’t able to pick up your car during these times, you can pay for your service over email or text.

We will send you a code that you will need to retrieve your car key. When you arrive at HomeTowne, which is located at 15698 Jefferson Davis Highway in Woodbridge, simply type the code into the after hours key return. 

HomeTowne Auto Repair wants to make sure you’re taken care of, even beyond our hours of operation.

The after hours key return is one way we try to make it convenient for everyone’s busy schedule.

You can read about our other pickup and drop off options in this article.

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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Suspension noises and what they could mean for your vehicle

In Suspension by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Contrary to what many people believe, a car’s suspension isn’t responsible for holding the vehicle off the ground. 

The shock absorber prevents the tire from bouncing, allowing it to stay in contact with the road. This enables drivers to maintain control.

On the strut system, the coil spring is built onto the shock absorber. There are gas charged shocks and struts and oil filled shocks and struts. The valving and how they’re made is based on how much dampening control they have. 

Suspension noises

Everything from the lower control arm with the control arm bushings – which connect the control arm with the frame of the vehicle – to the ball joints can cause suspension noises.

Some vehicles – due to age and wear – are more prone to a creaking or groaning noise when the wheel is turned. 

On older cars, almost all ball joints had a zerk fitting that would allow you to service it. Oil changes were called “lube, oil and filter” because you would put grease on the different components. A lot of automobiles nowadays don’t have them. So, if you need to replace a part, like a tie rod end or a ball joint, you can put in a piece that has a greased fitting and is serviceable, and it’s a little better than the component from the factory. 

Here are some suspension noises you may hear and what’s causing them:

  • Control arm bushings: The control arms where the control arm bushings connect is another possible area for noise. They can get dry and start to crack. You may hear a knocking noise while you’re driving down the road, or a thunk when turning. It takes a bit of force to create sound from the control arm bushings.
  • Tie rod ends: Tie rod ends will make more of a squeaking sound, but if it’s worn out or there’s a lot of play you can also get some clunking noise if you move the wheel left and right, even just a little bit. 
  • Sway bars and sway bar links: There are little rubber bushings there too that help when you’re going around a turn and with how much the body sways. When they break, a lot of the time they’ll make some knocking noises when you’re going over bumps because it’s banging against the lower control arm or the frame of the vehicle. Very rarely do they squeak, unless all the bushings are gone and it’s just a metal rod.
  • Pitman arms: On older vehicles, the pitman arm may connect to the center link, or drag link. That would make a squeaking noise too. Today, that’s usually found more on trucks than cars.
  • Struts: For vehicles with struts, the upper strut mount design varies. Upper end vehicles have a bearing while others have a rubber and a metal plate. As you turn the wheel, it turns. When they wear out or parts that aren’t equal to the original are installed, you may experience vibrating, thumping and some resistance while turning left to right. 
  • Coil springs and spring isolators: Between the strut mount and the strut itself are generally rubber spacers called “isolators” that help keep the spring in line. Sometimes, the spring wants to move as you’re turning and you can hear a big clanking noise when the rubber is gone. On the regular control arm and shock system – where the springs are separate – you might get some spring popping noise every once in a while, especially if you’re going over bumps, if the springs are worn or they aren’t doing their job because of age. Generally, however, you see it more on the strut system.    

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.