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Coolant fluid exchange keeps cooling system running correctly

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Your vehicle’s cooling system helps keep you cool during the summer and warm during cooler months. So, it’s important for it to run properly.

A coolant fluid exchange keeps the system clean and restores coolant that has diminished over time.

It gets rid of any rust that has accumulated on the coolant lines and cooling system fins, and also removes sludge and scale. 

To keep your cooling system running correctly, we recommend coolant fluid exchanges every 30,000 miles.

We use a cooling system cleaner and additive when performing this service.

There are also a few symptoms you may notice when it’s needed.

These signs include leaks, hose failure and a vehicle having trouble starting. An increase in temperature and losing coolant are other clues.

Having a cleaner system that works better is only one benefit of a coolant fluid exchange.

It can also extend the coolant’s lifespan, improve performance, and decrease the likelihood of a vehicle overheating.

You’ve heard the lifetime coolant. What the manufacturers are referring to is the life expectancy of you owning that vehicle before getting a new one. But that might not be the same as your expectancy. If you’re someone who plans to own their vehicle for 12 + years, it’s important to change your engine coolant every 30,000 miles.

It’s also important to use the correct type of coolant. Most people think the coolant is green, but it can also come in blue and yellow. Actually, the color of coolant is clear, and the color you see is just dye.

The dye helps manufacturers identify that it’s the coolant approved for the type of metal the engines are made out of.

The metal used in Asian vehicles differs from what’s used in the USA. So using the wrong type of engine coolant can actually hurt certain vehicles.

Coolants for European cars, such as BMWs and Mercedes, are manufactured not only to protect their engine but also engine concerns if it leaks out of the vehicle.

You can use a universal green type of coolant. But just because it’s green doesn’t mean it’s correct. It’s OK to use green, but you need to make sure that it’s high quality.

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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Fuel induction service restores engine performance

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

As your vehicle gets older, you may notice that it isn’t running the way it used to.

If it seems to be struggling to start or feels rough when idle, it could mean that carbon deposits have built up in the engine. Poor gas mileage and knocking in the engine are other indicators.

These deposits can be removed through a fuel induction service, which we recommend every 30,000 miles. 

Some car manufacturers actually have carbon build up problems, and it may be a good idea to perform this service more often.

fuel induction service
Carbon buildup

Regular maintenance, such as clearing out buildup, helps prevent engine damage.

Having a cleaner air induction system and fuel injection system isn’t the service’s only perk.

It also restores lost power, increases fuel economy and reduces emissions the tailpipe emits.

A fuel induction service begins with adding a fuel system drier to the fuel tank. Then, our technicians add a fuel system cleaner that cleans out various components, including the fuel lines, fuel injectors, and the backs of the valves. 

Lastly, they run an air intake system cleaner, which removes grime on the intake manifold and cleans the valves in the intake system.

It’s important to keep up with this service, especially with the stop and go traffic common in the Northern Virginia area.

In between the fuel induction services, it may be a good idea to use BG 44K to help keep that fuel system clean and make sure your car is in tip top shape.

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 your car AC is important during the winter

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

It’s cold outside. So, why should I worry if my car’s air conditioning works or not? 

Well, there’s actually a very good reason. 

During the winter, obviously we use our defroster a lot – especially in the morning – to clear the windshield and side windows. Normally, you put it on full blast as you’re warming up the car. 

But on today’s vehicles, when you turn it to the defrost setting, the air conditioning does come on to help dehumidify the air before it goes across the heater core.

It’s kind of like your house – when you have the air conditioning running during the summer, condensation develops as the moisture is being pulled out of the air. It’s the same concept when you have your car AC on for the defroster. If you’re putting dry, warm air on the windshield – rather than moist, warm air – it helps keep the windows clear.

The moisture that is removed from the air goes out the drain tube through the evaporator.

Even though we’re talking about this in the winter time, it also comes into effect during the rest of the year when it’s raining or the temperature drops a bit. A car’s air conditioning keeps the windshield clear of the fog compared to clearing the windshield of ice and snow.

Your car AC system helps you drive safer by enabling you to see.

Common problems that can affect the air conditioning for the defroster include being low on freon and the AC compressor not working. There may also be a control problem from an air conditioning module, AC switch or defrost button. 

If you’re having an issue with the mode selector for the vent controls, it could have to do with a switch or blendor motor, which controls where the air goes – the windshield, vents or the floor.

Here are five possible reasons why the air conditioning isn’t working.

Right now is a perfect time to check to make sure everything is working. If not, have it checked out at your local, independent 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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What causes an engine to misfire?

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

It’s important to note when your car is doing something abnormal.

They can indicate an underlying issue.

The same is true for misfires.

What is a misfire?

A misfire is when the air in the fuel isn’t ignited correctly.

What are signs that an engine is misfiring?

The check engine light turning on is one sign of a misfire. You might also notice a bad shuddering.

Other indicators include a vehicle running rough or stalling.

What causes an engine to misfire?

Components that have gone bad, including ignition coils and spark plugs, may result in an engine to misfire. It could also be caused by too much or too little air or fuel.

Timing can play a role, as well. If the timing isn’t in line, then the camshaft sensor and crankshaft sensor aren’t able to communicate.

What happens if you ignore a misfire?

When you have a misfire and you’re getting raw fuel or rich conditions in the exhaust, it wears down the metals in the catalytic converter  – a very expensive part.

If misfires aren’t addressed, the catalytic converter gets really warm and starts melting from the inside out.

If you believe your car’s engine is misfiring, have it checked out by a mechanic or auto repair shop. The problem could start happening more frequently or worsen if you don’t.

Make sure to provide as much information as possible, including the symptoms you noticed and when.

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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Is your car ready for winter?

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Is your car ready for winter?

As the upcoming season approaches, it’s important to make sure that it’s prepared as much as possible.

Here are a few components you should check as the cooler months begin to settle in:

  • Windshield wipers: One of the things that you’ll want to look at are your wiper blades to see if they are streaking on the windshield, or if the ends are cracked or damaged. 
  • Windshield washer fluid: You’ll want to take a look at your washer fluid to make sure it’s set for the correct temperature levels. Around here, – 20 is good.
  • Antifreeze: Check your antifreeze level and also the protection level of the antifreeze. Just because it may look green, or red, or blue – depending on the car – you actually want to make sure that the temperature protection level is good.
  • Car battery: Check the level in the battery, make sure that it’s alright. Some of them don’t have a way you can check the water, but you can actually have a little eyelet that shows green or red if it’s good.
  • Tire pressure: It’s a great time to check your tire pressure. It’s OK to run maybe 1 pound extra, just for the temper variation with the Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), trying to keep that light out as the temperature drops.
  • Lights: With it getting dark as early as it is right now, it’s a great time to check the lights, but especially your headlights – making sure that they’re working and that the lenses are clear.

Feel free to call HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire if you have any questions.

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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Emission test required every two years

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Every two years, Northern Virginia drivers must have an emission test conducted on their vehicle.

This requirement applies to those who keep their cars in certain localities, such as Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

The emission test seeks to protect the environment by making sure the car releases the right amount of fumes into the air.

It is run by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an emissions shop. It became a Virginia Certified Emissions Repair Facility in 2017.

We confirm details about the car, including its weight and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

When testing a vehicle that’s older than 1996, inspectors use a sniffer tool that’s put inside the tailpipe. They also check for various components, including the catalytic converter, O2 sensors and the Evaporative Emission Control System (EVAP).

We use an OBD II connection device on newer cars. The DEQ computer plugs into the OBD II port on the car and checks for problem codes and system monitors.

Those monitors can include the EVAP system, catalyst (catalytic converter), 02 sensors, the EGR system, Oxygen Sensor Heater and secondary air system.

There are a few ways you can be rejected for testing: if there are bald tires, an audible exhaust leak, or fluid that’s dripping on the dyno machine.

Why does that matter?

We have to make sure the vehicle is safe to run on the dyno, in case the DEQ requires 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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Five possible reasons why your air conditioning isn’t working

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

It’s that time of the year where the sun is beating down and many drivers are starting to notice that their vehicle’s air conditioning system isn’t doing the job.

Here are a few possible causes behind this problem:

Low on freon: The car could be low on refrigerant, which means that it likely has a leak. Air conditioning leaks could be coming from multiple locations, including fittings and rubber gaskets.

air conditioning
Freon being added to Buick

Malfunctioning expansion valve: It’s possible that the problem lies with the expansion valve, which helps control the amount of freon that flows through the A/C system. This component may not be working correctly.

Expansion valve
Expansion valve

Electronic Climate Control System: Another part that could be failing is the Electronic Climate Control System. This function determines how cold or hot it gets in the front of the car.

air conditioning
Electronic Climate Control System

Operator error: Today, the setup for car A/C systems vary. So, it’s very easy to hit a wrong button — or not the one you should. It’s a good idea to read the owner’s manual and make sure you aren’t missing something.

air conditioning
Turning on the air conditioning

Constricted air conditioning condenser: You might also want to check to see if the condenser is constricted. Due to improper cleaning or an impact, the fins could become bent and block the airflow.

condenser
Old Air Conditioning Condenser

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 keep your car air conditioning condenser clean

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Air conditioning offers sweet relief from the hot summer sun.

Like other parts of your vehicle, maintaining it is necessary.

Many parts make up an air conditioning system. The condenser is responsible for condensing the refrigerant that runs through it.

Cleaning your air conditioning condenser is one way you can maintain it.

You will want to start by removing leaves, bugs and other debris. This can be done using a shop vacuum that has a soft bristle brush.

Then, spray the condenser with air conditioning cleaner and rinse it off. For vehicles that have a compressor, a blow gun can remove some of the water.

On some higher end cars, there are air vents controlled by the car’s computer. They open and close when the air conditioning is on.

You may also want to check out the small fins on the air conditioning condenser. If there is some sort of impact or they are cleaned improperly, they can block the airflow that’s coming through. The fins will need to be straightened, which is a very time consuming task.

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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State Inspections help keep roads safe

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

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

Annual state inspections have become a thing of controversy in recent years all over the country. Many states have removed them from their vehicle requirements altogether, and Virginia is considering doing the same. But is this really a good idea? 

As of 2017, Utah is one of seven states in the United States that not does not require state inspections. This past summer, I traveled to Utah with my boyfriend and his family and immediately noticed that the cars with in-state licence plates had no inspection stickers.

At the time, I was unaware that they were not required to have inspections done every year, like Virginia. However, I did notice many more broken down cars on the side of the roads or in peoples’ driveways. 

We even drove around town in his grandmother’s car, which was in very poor shape itself and an inspector would more than likely deem it an unsafe vehicle. 

Between November 27 and December 1 of 2019, Utah State Police responded to 598 motor vehicle accidents during snowy weather. 

Part of this can be attributed to the fact that Utah doesn’t often get snow, but a very large part of the reasoning is the fact that Utah does not require state inspections, and most of these cars were not safe to drive in any condition other than sunny and dry. 

It is immensely dangerous for states to stop requiring annual state inspections because people have no idea what they’re driving. 

The majority of people do not know how to measure their brakes or tell if their exhaust pipe has a hole in it under their cab, causing them to breathe harmful emission gases. 

It’s difficult for someone whose expertise is not in the general automotive field to diagnose a misfiring cylinder or tell if their upper and lower radiator hoses need replacing. 

For someone who doesn’t know these things, maintaining a vehicle is nearly impossible. 

Being required to take your car to a professional in the automotive field once a year should absolutely remain a requirement to keep everyone on roads safe. 

If your vehicle is falling apart in places that you don’t know about, you put yourself and everyone else on the road in danger. 

Many argue that doing away with state inspections saves the $20 a year or the extra $150 they would have to pay for an unexpected repair in order to pass an inspection. But that $20 to tell you your car is fine, or that $150 to fix an unsafe component is far cheaper than a lost life or a totaled car when that unsafe car loses a wheel or the brakes go out.  

Annual State Inspections are required for everyone’s safety and removing this is compromising the safety of millions. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor, and get your state inspection done every year and don’t drive an unsafe car.

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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An Automatic Transmission Fluid Exchange can prevent early wear

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Do you want to save money and prevent auto repairs from cropping up down the road?

You can by taking care of your vehicle.

One way to maintain it is through an automatic transmission fluid exchange.

On Monday, Sydney and Jason performed an Automatic Transmission Fluid exchange on a 2010 Kia Forte.

They used a BG Transmission Fluid Exchange Machine.

“We hook it up in series to the car, and as the car is running it pumps out old fluid while the machine pumps in new fluid,” Sydney, a General Service Technician, explained.

For some vehicles, an automatic transmission fluid exchange is recommended every 35,000 to 45,000 miles. Others may not need it until they reach 120,000 miles.

The transmission fluid helps keep the transmission clean, so it’s important to change it regularly.

As the fluid breaks down, it doesn’t function the way it should. 

Automatic transmissions use hydraulic pressure and clutch plates. If the hydraulic fluid isn’t at the right level or working correctly, it can do premature wear on the clutch, which can lead to transmission 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.