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Why is my car making a knocking sound?

In Suspension by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Trouble sometimes comes knocking.

In the case of a Honda Odyssey, it was steering suspension components.

The vehicle was brought in when the driver heard a knocking sound that seemed to be coming from the engine.

After quite a bit of investigation, our technician figured out the cause: The timing belt tensioner had gone bad.

On top of replacing this component, he installed a new timing belt and related parts. Sometimes, these components come together as a set and it’s best to replace them all at once.

Timing belts ensure that the crankshaft and camshaft have the correct timing. You can read more about timing belts and when to replace them in this article we wrote recently.

A tensioner, which keeps the belt tight, is needed in order for the timing belt to function properly.

Knocking sound

Causes of a knocking sound

A knocking sound can occur for a variety of reasons.

In addition to timing belt tensioners, it can be the result of other components, including sway bar end links, struts, control arms and tie rod ends. These parts simply wear out overtime.

Newer vehicles that are being manufactured don’t have serviceable ball joints or tie rod ends anymore. They have these pieces called zerk fittings, which lubricate parts. 

Whenever our technicians are replacing steering or suspension components, we make sure that they’re serviceable.

Spark plugs are another part that, when failing, may lead to a knocking sound. They can also be the culprit behind engine misfires.

Other than components going bad, engine knock is sometimes the result of more complicated issues. 

Engine sounds may occur if the gas you put in your vehicle has a different octane level than it requires. Octane ratings are the type of fuel, such as regular, mid-grade and premium. It’s important to confirm and use the correct one.

Carbon deposits building up in the cylinders is another possible culprit. Having a fuel induction service performed regularly – we recommend them every 30,000 miles, depending on the type of vehicle you have – can clear out carbon build up and prevent engine damage.

What to do if you hear knocking sounds

If you hear knocking sounds – or any other strange noises – don’t be alarmed. 

It’s OK to continue driving it, but you should have it looked at by a mechanic or auto repair shop as soon as you are able to.

Putting off or ignoring the problem won’t cause it to go away. In fact, it will become worse the longer you wait to have it addressed. Having it checked out early on could prevent additional damage and unnecessary expenses.

Pay attention to where it’s coming from and when it occurs. Make sure to share that information with the mechanic or repair shop, as this can help them narrow down the issue.

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 to replace a timing belt

In Suspension by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When considering how a car runs, a lot of people think about the major components, like the engine, the alternator or the battery.

However, there are many smaller components that are necessary for a vehicle to work correctly.

The timing belt is one of them. It surrounds various parts and is responsible for making sure the crankshaft and camshaft are in the right timing.

Sometimes, this piece goes bad and needs to be replaced.

Preventing future problems

Replacing your timing belt is one way to prevent future problems.

How often you need to replace it depends on the manufacturer’s recommendation. Most timing belts should be changed around 100,000 miles, but some are 60,000 miles.

A new one may also be needed if there’s cracking or a running condition where it jumps time.

Signs the timing belt is going bad

You aren’t going to be noticing wear on the timing belt, because it is covered up by parts. Timing belts are normally replaced on a mileage basis.

But a few symptoms can clue you in that the timing belt is going bad.

Engine misfires are one of them. If the engine isn’t in perfect time, then it won’t fire correctly. 

If the timing belt is too far out of timing, it causes internal damage to the engine because parts can start hitting each other.

The vehicle may also refuse to start, because the timing components aren’t spinning and the engine isn’t creating compression.

You may also notice noise caused by the timing components.

If you notice any of these indicators, you should reach out to a mechanic or an auto repair shop as soon as possible.

Replacing the timing belt

You shouldn’t put off replacing the timing belt due to maintenance or age, because if it breaks you have a chance of causing internal engine damage.

However, it’s not just the belt you should take care of. A lot of times, the belt will drive the water pump. There are also idler pulleys the belt is around that can also wear out. 

When replacing the timing belt, we also replace these other components. If you replace the belt and don’t change the parts tied to it, you will likely have a problem with them soon after.

Other than normal wear and tear, timing belts can go bad if there’s an oil leak. Oil leaks, if they aren’t addressed, may cause the belt to become weaker or break, resulting in damage to the engine.

Timing belts and timing chains

Not all vehicles have timing belts, they either have a timing belt while others have a timing chain.

Nowadays, more cars have timing chains than belts.

These two parts have the same function, but there are some differences. Timing chains are oil lubricated. Timing belts aren’t, and it’s actually bad if oil gets on them.

Another difference is that timing chains have guide rails, while timing belts just have tensioners.

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 you should replace shocks and struts

In Shocks & Struts, Suspension by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

While everyone wishes that their car could stay in perfect condition forever, oftentimes that doesn’t really happen. Parts and fluids in everyone’s car wear over time – at different rates – and require replacement and maintenance. 

Some parts of vehicle maintenance, like oil changes, need to be done more often. There are some replacements that need to be done over a longer period of time – like shocks and struts.

If you are noticing that your car is bouncing a lot, or nose diving, and you take it in to an auto technician, they may come back and tell you that you need your shocks or struts replaced. 

Many people don’t know what they are, and what they do in your car, so let’s look at that first.

Shocks and struts both absorb pressure from running over potholes, bumps and rough roads. Shocks are placed near the tires and have a coiled spring near them, as well as hydraulic fluid and a piston that help to absorb that shock. Struts are very similar, except that they’re built into the suspension system, and they have a coiled spring directly on the strut as one part.

So why should you be replacing these when they begin to wear out or go bad? Below are a few reasons:

It’s what the industry standard and manufacturer recommends

Our auto technicians follow the industry and manufacturer’s standards on all cars that come in. It is currently recommended that shocks or struts be replaced every 50,000 miles. Even though this can vary from car to car – and some vehicles can go longer than that – we still recommend and look for any issues with these components once you’re over that mileage.

Replacing your shocks and struts will give you more control while you drive

When your shocks or struts start to go, you’re going to see it when you’re accelerating, turning and braking. So once they start to degrade, you’re really going to see a decline in the control you have of your vehicle. Everyone has a different preference on the level of vehicle control they want when driving, but when you begin to have issues with braking or turning on a curve, then it’s time for new shocks and struts.

The life of your tires increases

Like we mentioned before, the job of the shocks or struts help to absorb shock you have from running over things like potholes. So when your shocks and struts begin to go, you’re going to see more bouncing, even when you’re not running over things. This bouncing will actually harm your tires. Because of the increased bouncing, your tires are hitting the ground hard and unevenly. This means that you’re going to possibly see pieces of tire worn off and even smooth patches from where the tires have worn down. This can actually minimize the life of your tires, which is an additional cost down the road if you don’t replace your shocks or struts.

Driving on the road is safer when you change the shocks and struts

When your shocks or struts are wearing down and you’re having problems with braking and bouncing, it becomes less safe for you to drive. By getting them replaced, you’re investing in the safety of your life, your passenger’s lives and everyone else out there on the road.

If your technician at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire suggests that you get your shocks or struts replaced, take them seriously. It will help improve your driving experience, extend the life of your car, and keep you safe.

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 making that noise?

In Suspension, Tires & Wheels, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

There are many reasons why your car can make noise. If you’re married, most of them come from the passenger seat. If you have kids, most of the noise is coming from the back seat.

All kidding aside, noises can come from anywhere, such as your suspension and tires. They may also occur as engine components wear out, belts loosen, and your vehicle experiences normal wear and tear.

The hardest part sometimes is trying to describe the noises to your auto repair shop. So, when something is irritating you, pay attention to when and where the noises are happening.

We’ve had instances when the car only made noises when it was below 45 degrees and they were turning left. Another common noise description is when a driver is in a parking lot and turning the wheel.

Information about how fast you’re going, how far you’re turning the wheel, and whether you’re pressing the gas pedal can help us find your problem faster.

The other thing to consider when you’re bringing your vehicle into the shop is to schedule time to ride with the automotive technician. That way they can ride with you and you can make the exact condition that produces the noise — which saves time and money when repairing your car.

So, if you’re the only one in your car and you still hear noises, and you’re tired of turning the radio up to tune them out (Get it? Radio — tune … ) then try to be descriptive as you can and take a ride with your mechanic.

Check out this fun video we created.

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.

5 signs it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

In Auto Repair Promotions, Shocks & Struts, Suspension by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Yes, the winter has finally subsided with it’s cold, ice, and snow piles. But while the cold weather has gone away, the damage the winter inflicted on your cat hasn’t. With the large potholes and other damage your car has endured, it may be time to replace your shocks and struts.

5 signs it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

Keeping your vehicle maintained will keep repair costs down over the long run.

These are 5 signs that it’s time to get your shocks and struts inspected, repaired, or replaced.

1. Your car is going in for a nose dive.

When you’re turning, speeding up, or braking, are you having more difficulty controlling your vehicle? When you’re stopping, do you notice that the ‘nose’ of your car is diving forward, even when you’re only lightly braking? That is a common sign that the shocks and struts on your vehicle are worn and need to be replaced.

2. Overall, the handling is off.

If you drive your car frequently, you know it well – how it drives, how it performs under different conditions. And if all of a sudden you’re noticing that the handling of your vehicle – maybe a bumpier or rougher ride – then chances are that your shocks and struts are in need of repair or replacement.

5 signs it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

Suspension Strut Assembly on a car, these can start to show signs of wear around 50,000 milesYou’re hearing squeaking sounds coming from your vehicle.

3. You’re hearing squeaking sounds coming from your vehicle.

When your car squeaks, that’s a pretty good indication that there’s some kind of issue. Whether you’re just driving down the road, braking, or you’re running over a pothole or rough patch, if you’re hearing squeaking from your suspension then it’s time to bring your car in to have your shocks and struts inspected for wear.

4. There’s uneven wear on your tires.

This sign is the easiest to visually see. When your shocks and struts are worn down, there’s more bouncing and that bouncing means that your tire is also moving around as it hits the ground, losing rubber in the process. This is called cupping. If you see uneven wear or smooth patches on your tires, then it’s important for you to come in and have the shocks and struts looked at.

5. Your vehicle has more than 50,000 miles.

5 signs it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

A tire wear pattern like this can be due to worn shocks and struts.

While every car is different, and road conditions impact the life of car parts, if your car is over 50,000 miles and you’re having some issues, then it could be because of your shocks and struts. We follow the guidance from the Motorist Assurance Program that recommends that drivers replace their shocks and struts after 50,000 miles.

If it is time to replace your shocks and struts, the time to do it is now. Our shop is offering an inspection, repair, and replacement on shocks and struts now for only $20 over cost until April 30, 2016.

5 signs it’s time to replace your shocks and struts