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Why you shouldn’t ignore an overheating engine

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Your vehicle has warning lights and signals for a reason.

Choosing to ignore them can lead to trouble later on.

We worked on a Jeep Liberty that had an overheating engine. A few symptoms occurred that hinted at this problem.

First, the check engine light turned on. A check engine light can turn on for many reasons. If it comes on, we recommend having it checked out as soon as possible. This can help save the technician time in pinpointing the issue – saving you money on diagnostic testing costs.

The heat gauge also went all the way to the right and a red light appeared on the dashboard.

All of these indicators were ignored, and the engine locked up.

By the time the vehicle was brought to us, the hot engine temperature had warped the cylinder head and valve cover.

When those components become distorted, it blows out a head gasket. This causes coolant to leak into the combustion chambers.

The engine won’t run the same way again and needs to be replaced.

What causes an overheating engine

There are various causes behind an engine overheating.

In the case of the Jeep Liberty, the customer mentioned that a radiator hose had blown recently. It was fixed, but the problem continued. The vehicle was driven without coolant for an extended period of time.

Low coolant is one of the main reasons overheating occurs. Other than a coolant leak, this issue can be a sign that there’s a problem with the thermostat. The thermostat regulates how much coolant flows between the engine and radiator.

Issues with the electric cooling fan and other electrical parts are also possible culprits.

What to look for

You can’t tell with the naked eye if an engine is overheating. An engine rarely becomes so hot that parts melt. However, all sorts of warning signs will go off.

White smoke out of the exhaust may indicate a blown head gasket or a cracked cylinder head, because coolant has gotten into the exhaust.

In extreme cases, you may notice the engine emitting steam. The radiator cap serves as a pressure relief valve, which allows coolant to go into the overflow tank. Every vehicle has a tank, which is where the coolant goes when you turn off the engine so the coolant doesn’t go out on the ground. If you have too much pressure, the coolant will be pushed out of the overflow reservoir, causing steam to come up. 

Rough running is another indicator that you have a head gasket or a cracked cylinder head and coolant is entering the engine.

Continuously adding coolant and not seeing any leaking on the ground can also be a sign that you have a problem. 

On top of maintaining your vehicle, you should be aware of odd situations and noises and reach out to a repair shop when you notice them. There could be an important issue that needs to be addressed.

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 squeaking sounds and what causes them

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

As you’re driving around town or on your way to work, you may notice a squeaking noise.

There are several reasons why car squeaking sounds occur. These are some of the most common causes:

  • Ball joints
  • Brakes
  • Control arm bushings
  • Sway bar bushings
  • Worn struts

Here is a more in-depth explanation behind the different components.

Ball joints

Ball joints are a pivot point for the control arm, which supports the primary load of the car.

These components can create a squeaking sound when they run out of lubrication. They also may need to be replaced to resolve the noise.

Control arm bushings and sway bar bushings

Some control arm bushings and sway bar bushings make squeaking sounds if they need to be lubricated. Others have to be replaced. 

Whether you need new control arm or sway bar bushings or they need to be lubricated depends on how they come from a manufacturer.

Car squeaking sounds

Brakes

Brakes can make squeaking sounds if they are getting low. Most brake pads contain little metal tabs called “wear sensors” that can screech on the brake rotors. 

Brakes must be at or above 2/32 an inch to pass the Virginia state inspection. We recommend getting new brakes when they hit 3/32 or 4/32 of an inch, but some manufacturers suggest they be replaced sooner.

You can read more whether you need new brakes and the brake services we offer in this article we wrote recently.

Cheap brakes and those that haven’t been maintained properly can cause a friction noise.

We don’t suggest having cheap brakes installed, because they can cause noise, vibrations and rapid wear.

To learn more about why you shouldn’t use cheap brakes, check out this article.

Replacing only the brake pads and not the rotors may result in a squeaking sound.

Worn struts

Shocks and struts go bad overtime. The tires wearing unevenly and the handling feeling off are other indicators that these parts need to be replaced. These are some other signs.

We typically recommend replacing shocks and struts around 100,000 miles. However, if you’re getting new tires and your car is at 80,000 or 90,000 miles, we may suggest getting new ones earlier. This can help protect the next set tires.

How we address car squeaking sounds

To find the cause behind squeaking noises, we start by taking the car on a test drive. Then, we look for any problems by performing a visual and digital inspection.

After the inspection, our technicians recreate the issue. This allows us to isolate it.

Please make sure to provide the auto repair shop as much information as possible.

A customer recently had their vehicle towed for a brake check. The brakes were making noise, and he believed it was a caliper problem. 

When we touched the brakes during a test drive, they locked up and the truck slid. The customer didn’t mention that he recently had new brakes installed. Turns out, one of the calipers was missing. 

One of the more dangerous things you can do, as a customer, is not give us all of the information. When you don’t, it can be unsafe.

Having the whole story, including noises, problems you’ve noticed, and even a timeline, helps us solve the problem.

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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Does my car need new brakes?

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Typically, drivers don’t know that their car needs new brakes until they bring it to a repair shop for an oil change or to address a problem.

While performing an oil change, our technicians do a tire rotation and look over the vehicle. During this courtesy inspection, we may find that it requires new brakes or they are reaching the end of their lifespan.

To pass the annual state inspection, brakes must be a least 2/32 of an inch. However, we suggest replacing them when they get to 3/32 or 4/32 of an inch, depending on the vehicle and driving conditions.

Read more about brakes and the Virginia safety inspection.

When you go in for your next oil change, it’s a good time to have all four of your brakes checked.

Signs that new brakes, brake repair are needed

Overtime, you may start to notice certain signs, such as squealing and the vehicle taking longer to stop.

If you put off replacing brakes, it will likely lead to further damage down the road.

How often brakes need to be replaced depends on many factors, including the make and model. Driving behaviors, how much someone drives, and stop and go traffic also play a role.

Generally, brakes can last anywhere from 36,000 to 80,000 miles. We have replaced them at 18,000 miles, which was extremely low. 

It’s important to make sure the types of brakes put on your car are of good quality and meet Original Equipment (OE) specifications, because the way the vehicle safety system works they are programmed to operate with certain types of parts. 

If you put inferior parts on, the systems like Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), Traction Control System (TCS), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) may not perform correctly.

Sometimes, brake repair is needed between brake jobs.

These are some symptoms that a vehicle is in need of brake repair.

Brake services we offer

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire offers an array of brake services.

Our technicians can replace various components. These include: the master cylinder, vacuum or hydraulic boosters, brake lines, calipers or wheel cylinders, brake pads and rotors, and brake drums and shoes. 

We are also able to replace the entire parking brake system, whether it’s electric or not. The parking brake is made up of the handle or pedal, and linkage from the handle or pedal to the rear caliper or shoe. 

Brake fluid exchanges are performed at HomeTowne Auto Repair, as well. 

Recommended every 30,000 miles, this service prevents corrosion from building up on the inside of the calipers.

If your Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) warning light comes on, we can look into that too.

The brake system is made up of many parts, and it’s important to keep up with it. If you notice something out of the ordinary, it won’t hurt to call a local repair shop and ask them about 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.

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My car is making a clunking noise

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are you hearing a clunking noise when you’re driving? Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy (well … hopefully not).

Clunking and rattling sounds may indicate problems with your car’s steering and suspension.

Parts can wear out over time and cause a clunking noise, such as strut mounts and bushings.

The issue could have to do with the drag link, control arms or coil springs, as well.

Other culprits include: idler arms, pitman arms – which are part of a drag link-type steering system – and tie rod ends.

Sway bar end links and sway bar bushings are common problems that are often misdiagnosed because they sound worse than they are.

We recently worked on a Range Rover that had a clunking sound. Not only had the ball joint come out of the steering knuckle, but the sway bar end link was broken.

Struts can also make a clunking noise if they’re bottoming out.

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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Diagnostic testing on a Toyota Tacoma

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Diagnostic testing is a process of elimination.

As our technicians work on vehicles, they determine where the problem lies and, through research and communication with the customer, figure out the cause.

Some issues, however, aren’t so cut and dry.

A Toyota Tacoma was brought in because it would occasionally stutter when going uphill, even after the driver let off of the accelerator. The symptom started recently and was growing worse.

First, we took the truck on a couple of test drives and checked for Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs). 

Then, one of the techs performed a transmission drain and fill to get rid of any contaminants. While the problem did get better, it didn’t go away completely.

This led us to take a look over parts and determine that it may need a new transmission.

There’s not always one way to approach everything. Sometimes, cars have mechanical failures that don’t trigger a trouble code, which acts as a starting point. 

In the case of the Toyota, the symptom being described felt like many problems – a shift shutter, a misfire, a bad tire – and was intermittent. 

Rather than following a diagnostic tree that a manufacturer provides, we need to use logic and experience to isolate the issue. 

This includes checking fluid levels and, sometimes causing a fault to ensure that components are working. For example, we may purposefully leave a sensor unplugged to see if it will cause a circuit code.

With the Tacoma, it was a mixture of possible misfires, differential problems and transmission problems.

This is why we can’t say that one level of diagnostic testing is needed to address an issue. It could require further investigation. We just don’t know until we start working on it. 

Read about why diagnostic testing is important.

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 Auto Repair & Tire offering financing option

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire in Woodbridge, Virginia is now offering financing.

We understand that times are tight, and you may need some tires or work done on your vehicle but you don’t have the cash right now.

Customers can receive up to six months of interest-free financing on any purchases that exceed $200.

We don’t push to financing, because there is a minimum monthly payment that needs to be made.

If you are interested, make sure you pay all of it off before the six months. Otherwise, you will be charged with all the interest.

Of course, with those financing options, the interest rates can be higher than normal. But if that helps you out, we do have that option.

You can apply online through the Synchrony website before you get here, or we can complete the application for 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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Common car heater problems

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Now is a good time to make sure your car heater is working properly.

When checking your heater or using it for the first time this season, you may notice that cold air is blowing out of the vents. Here are some common causes:

It needs more coolant: Hot air generates from the heater core. Coolant, which runs through the engine and heater core, becomes hot. Coolant has to go somewhere, so if you need to add coolant, it’s likely that there’s a leak. Coolant leaks, which are also known as “water leaks”, can develop anywhere – the heater core, radiator, heater hoses, thermostat, and other areas.

Problems with the heater core: The heater core can become blocked by scale, which is debris created by a chemical reaction. If the heater core is blocked, coolant isn’t able to enter it and send cold or hot air through the vents. 

The thermostat is malfunctioning: The thermostat expands and contracts, depending on the coolant’s temperature. If it’s stuck open, too much coolant is flowing, causing the engine temperature to stay too low. This can cause cold air to come through the vents. If the thermostat is stuck closed, the engine temperature becomes too hot.

Heater control is broken or blocked: The blendor actuator, or “blendor switch” – the knob on your dashboard – tells the actuator how much to open the door. This determines how hot or cold the air that enters your vehicle is. If it breaks or gets clogged, air – or the type of air you want – won’t flow through.

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 your water pump is going bad

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Your car’s water pump ensures that coolant is moving through the engine, preventing it from overheating.

You may need a new one if it’s corroding or loose, or the radiator is emitting steam.

An overheating engine and coolant leaking in the center of the car’s front end are also signs of a bad water pump.

Here are some recommendations for those who may have water pump problems and technicians who are looking into them.

One of our technicians installed a new pump on a Cadillac, which was overheating and had a coolant leak.

As the technician worked on it, he noticed that the drive belt and drive pulley had been shredded. We think this was caused by the pump locking up. 

Water pump
Shredded drive belt and drive pulley

To access it, the technician needed to remove the water pump housing, which includes part of the EGR system and Evaporative Emission Control System (EVAP) 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. 

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Car windows on Subaru wouldn’t roll down

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are your car windows refusing to roll up or down? There are a few different causes behind this.

A Subaru driver dropped off their vehicle at HomeTowne after realizing the passenger car windows weren’t working.

First, Charles checked the window switches. He then moved on to the motors for the passenger windows and learned they weren’t working.

Located in the car door, the window motor is one part that is needed to open and close the window.

When you press the switch, a current goes to the motor. This starts the regulator, which causes the window to go up and down.

For some vehicles, the motor and regulator can be ordered separately. In this case, they came as one assembly. 

car windows
Window Motor and Regulation Assembly

The motor going bad is one car window problem that can occur. It could also be installed incorrectly.

A window with automatic up and down may not roll down if a car battery has been changed or disconnected. Some drivers believe that the window is broken, when it just needs to be reprogrammed.

This issue can also happen with sunroofs. 

The window switch is another part that can stop working.

If your window isn’t opening or closing, it’s also a good idea to make sure the window lock button hasn’t been pressed.

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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Mercedes parts replaced after wheel falls off

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

One of our customers was driving down the road when a wheel on their Mercedes fell off.

The impact resulted in damage to the steering knuckle, which connects suspension and steering parts.

Mercedes parts
Steering Knuckle

It also damaged the hub bearing, which allows the wheels to rotate.

Mercedes parts
Old and New Hub Bearing

Charles replaced them and the brake dust shield last month.

Mercedes parts
Brake dust shield

This is one reason why it’s important to torque lug nuts correctly.

We hand torque all of our lug nuts when putting wheels back on a vehicle after completing a project, such as a tire rotation or brake repair. 

Our technicians use torque limiters and torque wrenches.

If you don’t torque the lug nuts enough, it will leave the wheel loose and ruin the wheel, the wheel studs, and wheel bearing. 

Overtightening the lug nuts, however, will weaken the threads on the wheel studs, which can cause a failure.

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.