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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. 

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Dynamic engine service addresses sludge buildup

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Engine sludge buildup is a recurring issue in some vehicles.

Dynamic engine service can help address this problem.

This service was performed on a Honda Odyssey. It was running rough and the check engine light had turned on.

We started the process by adding engine cleaner. Once the engine reached its operating temperature, we drained the oil and changed the oil filter.

Draining engine oil

Engine cleaner was added again and the engine ran in neutral for 45 minutes.

Then, our technician drained the engine cleaner and replaced the oil filter before adding new engine cleaner and running the engine in neutral for 20 minutes. 

Afterward, the oil filter was changed, and new oil and oil conditioner was installed.

Throughout the dynamic engine service, we watched the engine oil pressure. If the pressure drops, it could mean that something is blocking the oil pump suction line strainer.

Monitoring engine oil pressure

This procedure is recommended for cars that experience sludge buildup as a repeat problem.

Sludge — old, thick oil that is sticking to the engine — can get sucked into solenoids and other components, causing them to go bad.

Some vehicles are prone to sludge buildup. It also depends on the driving style.

Having proper oil maintenance performed with high quality oil is another way to prevent sludge from building up.

With today’s engine and the variable adjustable camshafts, making sure the oil ports are clear are very important. It can cause rough running conditions, as was the case with this Honda. 

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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Rear differential repairs offered at HomeTowne

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Noises can tell us a lot about car problems.

Some may indicate that rear differential repairs are needed.

Charles recently installed a new rear differential on a 1998 Firebird.

The car was brought in when the driver noticed a rotational noise from the rear.

At first, we thought the universal joints — also known as u-joints — were the culprits, because they were older and dried out. 

U-joints connect different parts, such as the driveshaft and rear differential.

Replacing them, however, didn’t fix the problem.

After further investigation, we decided that the rear differential needed to be replaced.

Firebird

The rear differential sits between the rear wheels. It takes rotational energy the drive shaft creates and splits it to the wheels equally.

Read about how you can prolong the life of your differential and some signs it’s going bad.

We replaced the rear differential in this situation, but we also do rear differential repairs.

Sometimes axle bearings on the rear axle can go bad and make a growling or humming sound. That sound can depend on the type of vehicle and whether it’s coming from the left or right side of the vehicle.

The carrier bearings, which are attached to the ring and pinion, is a noise that people will hear in the car, especially if the pinion bearing is going bad. 

The pinion bearing is near the front of the differential, and that is where the driveshaft and the yoke of the differential connect. That’s also a common place for the front pinion seal to leak.

Another common problem is where the rear axle shaft seals begin to leak. It’s possible on some vehicles where the differential fluid could be slung around and actually get on the brake pads and rotors. 

This may reduce your braking ability — and in extreme circumstances — could catch on fire. Normally, you would just see smoke coming from the wheel, and it would stink.

Clutch packs, which can be found on some limited slip differentials or posi track differentials, can also cause some noise.

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

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Signs that your car needs a new clutch

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Last month, a customer brought in their 2005 Volvo S60 after noticing that it wasn’t accelerating correctly.

Ray, one of our technicians, took it for a test drive and could feel the clutch slipping when he went up hill.

After checking out the car, he determined that it needed one, pressure plate, and flywheel.

Clutch
Old clutch and old pressure plate

When you push in the clutch, it releases the pressure plate and is able to spin. As you let go, it presses against the pressure plate, connecting the transmission and the engine.

The clutch, pressure plate and flywheel should be replaced at the same time. If you don’t replace the flywheel at the same time, it can leave heat marks and scratches.

Clutch
New clutch and new pressure plate

This particular vehicle had a dual mass flywheel and a self adjusting pressure plate, meaning that it required a clutch that didn’t have spring dampeners.

A high release point — when the pedal has to go a really long travel to engage — is one sign that your clutch disc is going bad.

The problem can mask itself as something else.

Every day drivers become used to subtle changes over time and may suddenly feel the transmission is going bad because it’s not engaging all the way.

It can feel like it’s not staying in gear, that the engine is running rough, or the transmission isn’t shifting properly.

Clutch
Thickness of old and new clutch

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 air conditioning not working?

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

There are many reasons why a car air conditioning isn’t working correctly.

They can range from a leak to needing a new part.

A car being low on Freon, also known as refrigerant, is an indicator that there’s a leak.

Leaks can occur on rubber lines or fittings, because they undergo extreme temperature changes.

The rubber gaskets, which expand and contract, can become brittle overtime.

You should only need to recharge your car A/C if there’s a leak.

HomeTowne Auto Repair is able to recharge a car air conditioning, and we do offer air conditioning repair.

One part that may need to be replaced is the air conditioning condenser.

We installed a new one on a 2005 Acura after a customer noticed the air conditioning wasn’t as cool.

car air conditioning
Air conditioning condenser

When you turn on the air conditioning, Freon travels — as a gas — from the air conditioning compressor to the air conditioning condenser.

The air conditioning fan blows air over the condenser, cooling the Freon and causing it to turn into a liquid.

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.