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Why you shouldn’t use cheap brakes

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

The quality of the parts used on a vehicle can play a large role in how it runs.

Brakes are no exception.

We don’t recommend installing cheap brakes, which promote noise, vibrations, and road symptoms — such as rapid wear.

Another reason why you don’t want to use cheap brake pads and rotors is because the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) is programmed to have a certain amount of braking force and the computers know when the brakes are cold or hot. 

If you replace them with inferior parts, the control systems can be affected in an emergency situation. They may not grab as hard or they could have too much of a fade, impacting the safety of those in the car.

Brakes are one of the parts checked during the Virginia Safety Inspection.

The minimum Virginia State Safety recommendations is no less than 2/32 of an inch. 

Depending on the make and model of the vehicle and your driving conditions, it’s a good idea to start changing your brakes around 3/32 of an inch to 4/32 of an inch. For some vehicles, the manufacturer’s recommendation could be higher.

Brake rotors should be changed with a brake job because most of the rotors on today’s vehicles wear down. Rotors need to be able to dissipate heat so you don’t get a pulsation or vibration type feeling in the steering wheel and brake pedal. That pulsation symptom can impact the ADAS system. 

Some indications you may need a brake job are grinding noises and brake pedal pulsation. You may also notice a low pedal or a high end squeak noises, which could be the pad low indicator rubbing on the brake rotor.

Keep in mind, if it has rained or been humid recently, you may notice squeaking when you first start braking early in the morning. If it goes away after you’ve pressed on the brake a couple times, it’s most likely a little bit of rust built up due to the humidity or the brake rotors being wet. 

At HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire, part of our inspection process during our oil change is to do a visual inspection of the brakes to see if they’re getting low or if we notice any other problems. Many of the vehicles today have electronically controlled components, such as steering and brake callipers, that can hide some of the normal symptoms you would notice in older cars.

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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Brake service: When and why to have it done

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Written by Sydney Jones, General Service Technician for HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

The most crucial safety device in your car is the brakes. 

As Newton’s first law of motion tells us, an object in motion will stay in motion until stopped by an external force such as friction. We can’t rely on friction to stop our cars while going 70 miles per hour on the highway, so we have brakes to stop our wheels from turning. 

It’s not as simple as “hit the pedal, stop the car,” though. Laws of physics and elements of chemistry come into play, as well. 

How brakes work

You hit the brake pedal with your foot, yes. This action then sets off a chain of reactions. When you push down the brake pedal, you tell the master cylinder to apply pressure to the brake fluid running through the brake lines underneath your car. 

You have four brake lines, each one going to one of your four wheels. The pressurized brake fluid causes the calipers to press inward on the brake pads, which provide a much greater level of friction than the road and stop your car much faster.

Overtime, the fluid running through your brake lines will get old and obtain air bubbles, and condensated water is created when liquid is on the brake pads. More liquid in the system causes the brake fluid boiling point to decrease whereas it is normally very high to withstand the heat produced from braking. 

The lower boiling point will allow for metal pieces to begin to deteriorate. Since the brake lines are made of copper, they leave copper residue in the fluid, resulting in lower braking power and eventually the costly replacement of calipers and brake lines.

About the BG Brake Service

To combat this you should have your brake fluid serviced every 30,000 miles. The BG Brake Service is done by taking contaminated fluid out of the master cylinder, pressurizing it, and adding DOT 3 or DOT 4 Ultra Drive Flushing Formula Brake Fluid — depending on the needs of your car — into the master cylinder until only new fluid is coming out of the lines at each wheel. 

This removes air and condensated liquid, leaving only your incompressible brake fluid and giving you maximum braking power. 

It is important to get this service done every 30,000 miles in order to be covered under the BG Lifetime Protection Plan, which will protect your Master Cylinder, Brake Lines, and Calipers up to $4,000 should they ever fail. 

You can have brake service performed at any BG Certified shop, such as Hometowne Auto Repair & Tire.

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.

Problems with brakes

There can’t be a soft brake pedal.

A hard brake pedal or a vehicle having a hard time stopping can be caught during the state inspection, as well.

This can be caused by a problem with the vacuum. Many vehicles now have electric pressure pumps, rather than old components, such as the vacuum brake booster.

Twisted brake hoses is another problem we keep an eye out for.

Brake hoses can become twisted for various reasons. Perhaps someone who was putting a caliper back on turned it one too many times.

The inspectors ensure that nothing is rubbing on or starting to wear through the brake hoses and they haven’t begun to develop excessive cracks.

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

Other parts we check

Brake pads must be at or above 2/32 inches.

We may start recommending new brakes at 3/32 or 4/32 of an inch, but they have to be under 2/32 to fail inspection. At 2/32 of an inch, brakes will technically pass, but they might not within a week or a month, depending on your driving conditions.

Rotors need a certain thickness that’s based on a manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Excessive rust on the rotors is another symptom we look for.

You could have a caliper that is seized, or maybe a piston is pushing in but a caliper isn’t sliding. This means one pad isn’t making contact with the rotor and the wheel only has half of its braking ability. When we see a lot of rust built up on the rotor, it’s a good indication that the brakes aren’t working correctly.

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

Some of the vehicles driven today use an electronic parking brake. They don’t even have a handle that you pull up; instead, it’s run by a computer.

There are different ways that the electronic parking brake needs to be tested during the state inspection.

The anti-lock braking system (ABS) light is another component that’s checked. A vehicle can still pass inspection, even if the yellow ABS light is on. However, it will not pass if the red brake light is on, because that could indicate a problem with the parking brake system or fluid.

If it feels like there is a mechanical issue, inspectors can take the car 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 a disc brake caliper seizes up

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A disc brake caliper seizing up is one problem that may occur in a brake system.

This issue is caused by various factors, including dirt, lack of maintenance and rust. Rust that builds up over time can prevent the brake caliper piston from resending back into the disc brake caliper.

It will keep holding constant pressure on the brake pad that pushes against the disc brake rotor and will produce heat.

In extreme circumstances, it can actually boil the brake fluid and cause a very low brake pedal. This is one of the reasons why you want to change the brake fluid when automotive technicians are working on brakes.

Disc brake caliper replacement

When an automotive technician is performing a brake check, they can determine whether you need to replace the brake caliper. You don’t need to replace them every time, but may want to consider replacing them if the vehicle has a lot of age or miles on it.

If you’re having a problem with one brake caliper, you can change that one. However, it’s a good idea to replace both on the front or the rear, because if one goes bad — even though the other one is functioning — it’s not a guarantee that it won’t go bad in the near future.

Another thing that the automotive technician will do is lubricate the metal contact points of the disc brake caliper and pads.

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.

ford expedition rear brake suspension

ford expedition front wheel discolored from brake caliper siezed

Avoid major repair with regular car maintenance

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

Chances are, that whenever possible, you’re trying to save money – particularly when it comes to big ticket items like car repair. While some car repair is unavoidable – like normal wear and tear on the vehicle, or getting into a road incident – there are actually ways that you can avoid major repair work. In order to do that, you need to make sure your car is getting regular maintenance.

axle of cv joint for volvo.

This is why it’s important to get your car inspected regularly.

“Most repairs come from lack of maintenance,” said HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire Manager Rich Campbell.

Just like with preventative medical care, preventative and regular car maintenance on your vehicle can fix problems when they’re still small, or help you to avoid them altogether.

Each time you bring your car in for an oil change – 3,000 to 7,000 miles depending on specifications for your vehicle and the type of oil you use – technicians need to do a full inspection of the vehicle’s fluids, steering, suspension, and brakes.

If the shop you’re going to now isn’t doing this full inspection with every oil change, you need to find a new shop.

This full inspection looks at all of the common places where wear and damage can start to show in your vehicle, and provides service advisors with the information they need, so they can make appropriate recommendations for your vehicle.

Oil change at HomeTowne Auto Repair.

Keeping your car maintained with regular oil changes and tire rotations will help your vehicle last longer.

At HomeTowne we provide recommendations ranked by level of urgency, so that even if you can’t handle all of the maintenance immediately, you can come up with a game plan.

Spending a few hundred dollars on importance maintenance here and there is far more reasonable than thousands on unexpected repairs, so make sure that you’re maintaining your vehicle and budgeting for maintenance work, so you can keep you and your car happy, and out on the road.

7 things to do, to get your car ready for spring

In Brake Fluid Flush, Cabin Air Filter, Oil Change, Tires & Wheels, Vehicle Fluids, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Now that the hard winter months are behind us and we’re moving into spring, it may be time for you to do some ‘spring cleaning’ and bring your car to the shop for some maintenance.

Here are some seven things we recommend to get your car ready for spring:

Dirty cabin air filter.Get your cabin air-filter swapped out.

While getting your cabin air-filters changed regularly is an important part of regular maintenance, it’s even more important when it’s springtime, in order to keep pollen and other things in the air out of your car.

“That cabin air filter filters your pollen, the dust, and getting ready for spring you want a good, fresh cabin air filter in there,” said Rich Campbell, manager at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire.

Get your car’s fluids flushed, especially your coolant.

Radiator hose replacement at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire.

Radiator hose replacement at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire

Now that winter is pretty much over, it’s a good idea to get all of your car’s fluids checked, flushed, and refilled – especially your coolant, as the coolant keeps your car cool and working properly, as temperatures continue to climb.

“Given the fact that we’re going to start coming in to warmer weather, your car’s going to be running a little hotter because the ambient temperature’s going to be warmed up, so coolant’s a good fluid to get changed now,” said Campbell.

Get your tires inspected, to make sure they’re in good shape.

Brake fluid flush on Jeep.

Brake fluid flush on Jeep at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire

During the winter, driving through snow and ice can really take a toll on your tires. Having your tires inspected, to make sure that they’re still safe to drive and have enough tread on them is huge as spring rains move through the area. If your tires are worn down, you won’t be able to have the traction you need, for stopping time on wet surfaces. A few seconds may not sound like much when it comes to traction on your tires, but can make a huge difference when your stopping time is impaired.

“You need to make sure you’ve got adequate traction,” said Campbell.

If you use winter tires, it’s time to swap them out.

While many people now opt for an all season tire, if you’ve invested in winter tires for the bad weather in Virginia, then now it’s time to preserve the life of those tires, and switch over to some all season or summer tires.

Get all of your bulbs and lights checked.

Replacing tail light bulb.

Replacing tail light bulb at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire

This is another part of good vehicle maintenance that you should be doing year round, but as part of your vehicle ‘spring cleaning’ it’s a good idea to make sure that all of your lights and bulbs are working correctly, and replace the ones that have fizzled out.

Get your hoses checked for dirt and grime buildup.

During the winter time, things like salt and grime can work their way into your car, specifically your houses, and cause a problem later if it goes unchecked. You don’t want to wait until you’re having a problem with your hoses, to find it was something that could have been prevented with a little maintenance.

“Dirt and grime accumulates from the winter salts we’ve endured. That salt’s pretty tough on the underside of a car,” said Campbell.

Wheel Alignment at HomeTowne Auto Repair.

Wheel Alignment at HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire

Get your alignment checked.

In the winter you’re bound to deal with all of the potholes that have accumulated from snow and plowing, and maybe you even ran into a few curbs during a storm. No matter what the reason is, getting your alignment checked and corrected, and having a technician check for tire wear are important parts of getting your car ready for spring.

The multi-point courtesy check that HomeTowne does will pick up a lot of these issues and more, and comes free with all of our standard oil changes. Be smart this spring, and make sure your car is ready to go for spring and summer road trips, not stuck in the shop for costly problems.

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.

Comparing the quality, price and warranty of brake and rotor replacement

In Brakes, Service Standards by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

If you’re hearing a squeaking sound or experiencing difficulty braking, then it may be time to bring your vehicle to an automotive repair shop. When it comes to making a big purchase, or investing in the maintenance of your vehicle, a lot of people want to ‘shop around’ and compare prices for a brake and rotor replacement.

If are the kind of customer that wants to search for the best value, it’s important that you take a minute and make sure that you’re actually doing an even comparison of automotive services and prices. In order to look at this further, we reached out to dealership to comparing pricing and services.

We contacted the Hyundai of Alexandria dealership, and we found that the brake job they quoted us for was $325 dollars, which included resurfacing of the front rotors, and replacement of the brake pads. Resurfacing rotors is an option, but it’s not necessarily what’s best for the life and safety of your vehicle. Resurfacing rotors actually shorten the lifespan of your braking system and cause early, premature wear on the rotors that will give you a pulsation in your brake pedal.

That’s why at HomeTowne, we replace pads and rotors as a set, and the replacement of the pads and rotors costs $450 dollars. We did a comparison shop, to do the same job at Hyundai of Alexandria, and it was $600 to replace the pads and rotors. So when you are comparing brake jobs, make sure you’re comparing ‘apples to apples’ and not ‘apples to oranges’.

In addition to looking at a cost comparison, a factor in your decision making should be the brake replacement quality. When having your brakes replaced you can opt for an original equipment replacement pad, like what you’d find at a dealership, or you can opt for aftermarket upgrade brake pads. The aftermarket pads are actually a full ceramic pad that gives you a longer pad life, and we all know those Friday traffic days around here, that stop and go, which is really hard on your braking system. These upgraded pads perform better, last longer, and that’s why we use them here at HomeTowne.

Finally, think about the brake service options you have, and their warranty. Here at HomeTowne, we carry a 2-year, 24,000 mile parts and labor warranty. On the flip side, many dealerships, like the one we contacted, only offer a workmanship defect warranty. So that tells you right there, there’s a big difference in quality. If you want the best product on your car, that’s what we provide here at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire.

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 You Need to Know About Brake Fluid Flushes for Your Vehicle

In Brake Fluid Flush, Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Over the course of your vehicle’s lifetime, you’re going to have to bring it in for routine maintenance. Many people think that this primarily means oil changes, because of how frequently cars require an oil change, but there are actually some other key components to good car maintenance – like brake fluid flushes.

Brake fluid is the essential fluid in your braking system, so that needs to be serviced periodically. The brake fluid works in your cars braking system to transfer pressure, allowing you to have more stopping power and force when you push on the brakes. Over time, the brake fluid becomes dirty and change color as it picks up contaminants, including copper, dirt, and moisture. Those contaminants will start to impact the way that braking system performs – ABS systems, calipers – and promote early wear.

Many automotive repair shops and dealerships will recommend that you have a brake fluid flush service done every 50,000 miles, to replace the fluid. And if you look in the service manual for your vehicle, it does tell you to check the fluid every 15,000 miles. Additionally, it’s also a good idea get brake fluid flushes when the car is already being serviced, especially when your braking system is serviced, such as replacing pads and rotors.

Every shop uses different machines and products for the job, but at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire, we use a BG Service machine, and Dot4 BG fluid, which has got a higher boiling point, and it’s got absorption material that keeps that moisture at bay. The quality of the brake flush product used will make a big difference on the life of the fluid, and how your car performs.

If you’re interested in having brake service completed, or you’ve hit 50,000 miles on your vehicles, stop by at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire of Woodbridge, and see if it’s time to have a brake fluid flush as well.

To read more about brake fluid flushes, check out this article we wrote.

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.