Get a pre-purchase inspection before buying your next used car

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


Pre-purchase inspections can help to spot problems with a used vehicle you want to purchase.

Are you looking to purchase a used car? Buying a used car can be nerve-wracking, even if you already know a fair bit about cars. That’s where HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire can help.

At our shop we offer a pre-purchase inspection service for used cars – perfect for if you’re planning on buying a car and want to check it out first.

Our technicians will do a thorough inspection of the vehicle, looking for any damage, system failures, problem areas and indicators of a lack of regular maintenance. We also run a test on all of the systems in the vehicle, to pinpoint any issues.

We offer different levels of pre-purchase inspections, depending on your needs and what you already know about the vehicle. With our most basic inspection we offer a state inspection-style check with an oil change, to look for problems with the vehicle.

In our more in-depth pre-purchase inspections we’ll hook the car up to our computer diagnostics and look for error codes, and check the entire vehicle’s body, frame and suspension for even minor issues that could be costly later on.


We inspect the entire car and test it’s systems to look for failures and a lack of maintenance.

With our third level inspection check, we’ll also test all of the buttons in the vehicle to ensure that they’re working properly and do a function test that includes climate control (heating and air conditioning) which can be costly fixes when buying a used car.

If you’re interested in getting a pre-purchased inspection on a used vehicle, give our advisers at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire a call. The inspection can take up to an hour and a half, so we recommend scheduling ahead of time.

We care about our customers, and we’re hoping that getting an inspection with help you to make a decision on whether or not it’s right to purchase the vehicle you’re considering, and to help you make sure that you know what you’re getting.

It’s always good to double check, as buying any car is a huge investment. We’ve seen firsthand, with previous pre-purchase inspections, how it can save you thousands of dollars in repairs down the road.

Do you need winter tires?

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

Do you need winter tires?

Winter tires

Before you know it, snow will be falling and ice will be accumulating on the roads. You may be thinking that your regular tires will do the trick, and will be able to get you around safely this winter, but that may not be the case. Being in Virginia, it may not be as prone to snowy weather as other parts of the country, but it does snow here, and snow and ice can put you and your vehicle at serious risk.

Chances are that your current set of tires are either summer performance, or all-season tires. Like the name ‘all-season’ implies, you will hypothetically be able to drive with your tires in winter weather, but that doesn’t mean they’re the safest option. If you want to make sure you’ve got the best chance of avoiding crashes and damage, you need to invest in a good set of winter tires.

Let’s talk about the benefits of winter tires:

  • More traction. They’re designed with tread patterns that are meant to have better traction when driving on snow and ice. The more traction, the safer it is to drive on slippery winter roads.
  • What they’re made of. What they’re made of plays a big role in how they handle snow and ice. Quality winter tires have rubber compounds like silica and sunflower oil in the tire, which makes it ‘softer’. This softness allows the tire to maintain grip, instead of freezing and locking up, like what happens with a traditional tire.
  • Increased brake performance and stop time. You never know when an extra 10 to 15 feet of stopping time could prevent a collision, especially when there are inclement weather conditions. When you get winter tires on your vehicle, you’re maximizing your braking performance and stop time on icy and snowy roads. Recent tests have shown up to a 35% improvement in braking capacity with winter tires, according to Tire Rack.
  • It’s a good investment. Other than the fact that you’re investing in your safety and the safety of your vehicle by purchasing winter tires, you’re also going to be saving money in other ways too. Yes, buying a set of winter tires up front is an investment. But there is nothing you can do to stop the snow and ice this winter, and when you’re driving on icy and snowy roads, it will eat up your all-season tires far quicker than winter tires. You can alternate between sets for the seasons, and extend the life of your tires overall. This in turn will save you money.
Do you need winter tires?

Winter tires have many benefits.

Now is the time to head in to HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire, to see what winter tires will work best for your car. You don’t want to wait until snow is actually falling, or you’ve been in a collision to make your seasonal switch over to winter tires. Our advisors are here to help, and we will walk you through all of the winter tire options that will
work with your vehicle. We carry an extensive line of quality tires, including some of the best winter tires on the market.

Five tips for driving in the fog

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Five tips for driving in the fog

Fog can make it really difficult and dangerous when you’re out there driving on the road. At HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire, we’re committed to keeping our customers safe, so we’ve put together some important tips to help you drive safely in the fog.

  1. Slow down. It may be frustrating when you’re trying to get somewhere, but slowing down is one of the best ways to prevent incidents from occurring. When slowing down, you’re going to want to keep an eye on your speedometer to double check your speed, because thick fog has the ability to mask your speed, due to the fact that you’re not able to see objects around you.
  2. Turn on your low-beams. When it’s difficult to see, a lot of drivers have a default of turning on their high-beams, but that’s actually the opposite of what you want to do. The high-beams in foggy weather actually make it more difficult for you to see, because the illumination from the high-beams can reflect off of the fog and back to your vehicle.
  3. Use your fog-lights. Not all vehicles have them, but if you do have front fog-lights, it will make it easier to light up the road, and make your car more visible to other people driving on the road. If you have rear fog-lights, it’s also a good idea to turn them on because it allows drivers that are following behind you to see your vehicle more clearly.
  4. The right-side pavement line should be your guide. Especially when there’s thick fog in the air, the clear and thick white line painted on the right side of the road is going to be a huge guide for you as you’re driving. You might be tempted to use the pavement lines in the center of the road, but they are more difficult to see, and it can lead to accidents if other drivers can’t see as clearly and veer toward the center.
  5. Don’t stop. If you’re having difficulty seeing while driving in the fog, you may be inclined to want to drive very slowly, or even stop in the road. But when it’s driving in fog, you should not be stopping on the road at all. If you absolutely have to, what you need to do is find a safe area to pull over away from traffic, and then turn off your lights. If you pull over and leave your lights on, drivers could think that your lights show a travel lane, which could potentially lead to a collision.

Follow these tips and exercise caution on the road when there’s fog, and it will go a long way to help avoid a collision or incident.

Five tips for driving in the fog

Here’s what you need to have in your vehicle’s emergency supply kit

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Here’s what you need to have in your vehicle’s emergency supply kitBeing prepared is one of the smartest things you can do in life. Many people keep supplies in their homes for an emergency, but what about your car?

So many people spend hours driving in their vehicle each day, and anything can happen when you’re out there on the road. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you keep a well-stocked emergency supply kit in your vehicle at all times. Especially with the winter weather coming, it can make a huge difference if you have a kit ready for when problems arise.

Here are some important things to include in your emergency supply kit:

A cell phone charger. If you’re stuck or in an accident, having a fully charged cell phone can be a real lifesaver.

First aid kit. Make sure you have a small and portable first aid kit with all of the basic medical essentials.

Jumper cables. Sometimes your car won’t start in cold weather, so make sure you have some jumper cables on hand.

Flares. If there’s an accident or situation, having flares in your car ensure that you’ll be visible to the police and other drivers.

A full tank of gas. Whether you’re traveling long or short distances, having a full tank of gas will ensure that you can get to your destination safely.

Bag of sand or cat litter. Having this will give you weight in the back of the car, help with traction, and you can use it to get over patches of ice.

Shovel, ice scraper and snow brush. When you’re getting ready for your daily commute in the winter, it’s important to have tools to remove snow from your vehicle.

Tow rope. If you’re stuck and person with a four wheel drive vehicle comes along, they can assist you and get you back on the road.

Blankets, mittens, and warm clothes. If you get stuck on the side of the road, or you need to leave your car for any reason, having these on hand can mean the difference between being chilly and frostbite.

Flashlight. In storms or for nighttime driving, having a flashlight on hand will make it easier to see and be seen.

Water and snacks. With car trouble and bad traffic, you never know how long you’ll have to wait for help or to make it home. Having water and snacks on hand is a good idea in any season.

Snow tires. Snow tires are important, especially if you live in areas that get a lot of snow. Not only do they perform better in the snow to get you going, but they also make it possible for you to safely stop in the snow and ice.

At HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire we sell a wide range of snow tires that will ensure that your car is as safe as possible this winter.

Get the Facts on Virginia State and Emissions Inspections

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Understanding what you need to do to ensure you car is in compliance for state and emissions inspections can be confusing. We’ve created this post to try and help answer any questions you may be having.

So you’ve just moved to Virginia. What do you need to do to register your car?

Well, the first thing you need to get is the Virginia Safety Inspection. That’s the sticker you see in your window that is related to safety items. The safety inspections are regulated by the Virginia State Police. During a safety inspection an inspector is going to look at your tires, steering, and suspension – hundreds of items in your car – to make sure that those items are working properly, and are safe to operate on the roads.

Aside from a safety inspection, the second item you’re going to need is called the Virginia Emissions Inspection. This is related to your license plates which come from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The Virginia Emissions Inspection is regulated by the Department of Environmental Quality.

The Virginia Safety Inspections are conducted every year, prior to the end of the month that’s currently on the sticker. The Virginia Emissions Inspection is conducted every two years.

What inspections you need may be confusing for some individuals, like our military members who have moved to Virginia from another state. We checked with the Quantico Marine Corps. Base, to ask what inspection documentation was needed to access Virginia military bases.

If you’ve just moved here from your home state, wherever that may be, you may have your vehicle still registered there, and that’s perfectly legal. However, if your home state requires some sort of safety inspection – and then that inspection has expired on your windshield – Quantico, which is the base we contacted, requires you to have a current safety inspection.

And you can use the Virginia Safety Inspection to qualify to still get on base, even if your vehicle is not from Virginia.

Another important point to know about Virginia Safety Inspections are the rules for cars that are issued a rejection sticker for a safety issue with your vehicle. Once the rejection has been issues you have 15 days to make those repairs, and then you can come back to the original inspection station to have that re-inspection performed.

With safety inspections, it’s important to understand that those rules can change on a yearly basis. We do our best to keep up on those rules. There is a Virginia State Police website to help you understand some of those rules, but that can be confusing, so please ask your service advisor at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire if you have any questions, prior to these inspections being performed.

Why you should choose HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire for your oil changes

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


    Toyota Sienna Rear Brake Check during an oil change

    Toyota Sienna Rear Brake Check during an oil change


    Qualified technicians to perform oil changes and maintenance

    Qualified technicians to perform oil changes and maintenance

  • oil change honda vtec

    oil change honda vtec

  • oil change correct type and weight of oil

    oil change correct type and weight of oil

  • Honda Civic Belt check during an oil change

    Honda Civic Belt check during an oil change

  • Honda Civic Battery Corrision

    Honda Civic Battery Corrision

  • Ford Mustang oil change tire inspection

    Ford Mustang oil change tire inspection

  • Dodge Charger tire rotation during an oil change

    Dodge Charger tire rotation during an oil change

  • BMW oil change quality oil filter and synthetic oil

    BMW oil change quality oil filter and synthetic oil

Getting your vehicle’s oil changed is a regular part of good maintenance, and there are many quick service locations and auto shops that offer oil changes. So why make the decision to go to HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire for your oil change? There are many reasons.

When you come to HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire versus a quick service location, you’re going to get a much more comprehensive oil change and service.

“We inspect the car top to bottom. We look at the recommendations for each car, recommended by the manufacturer for that mileage,” said Jason Dean, one of our Master Technicians.

During an oil change we offer a full inspection of the car including brakes, suspension, tires, lights, wiper blades, window glass and leaks. Essentially we offer a mini state inspection, with a check sheet of important things to look for to keep your car operating smoothly and safely.

We also offer a great value. Our standard oil changes cost $39, but we go the extra mile for our customers, offering a tire rotation with the oil change as part of your service – which is a $20 to $30 value alone. This is much different than what you’ll get at a quick service location.

Part of the reason we offer this tire rotation service, is so that our certified technicians can see your brakes clearly, to look for signs of wear or damage. This can end up saving you hundreds or being in an accident, by finding problems early and preventing them.

In addition to our standard oil change service, we offer premium packages for $59 and $79 that can include installing an engine oil supplement, fluid analysis, fuel supplements and new filters, all with that same superior level of service.

One thing that is important to us at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is listening to our customers. We want to know all of your concerns about the car before your oil change, so that during our inspection we can look for those issues.

“We look at the car to address, first and foremost, the customer’s concerns. That’s the first thing that we look at – if they have a concern such as noise, or anything that the car’s doing, and then we go from there,” Dean said.

So if you want a technician to put time and care into your car during an oil change, then we’re the right shop for you.

“You’re going to get an honest evaluation of the car, we honestly care about what we do, we care about the customer and you’ll get a fair price,” Dean said.

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10 basic things every car owner should know – plus one more

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

10 basic things every car owner should know - plus one more

Checking the oil in your car on a regular basis can give you an indication if something is wrong with your engine

Here are a few basic things every car owner should know:

Check your oil

1. Learn how to check your engine oil on your own. Oil being the simplest thing you can do for your car to ensure that the motor is taken care of. Check your dipstick to make sure you have the correct amount of oil in the engine. Even though you can go several months between your oil changes, do not solely rely on your car to tell you when it needs something. The use of synthetic oil will lengthen the time between oil changes. Call and schedule an appointment with us to show you how to check your own oil (free of charge).

Spare tire
2. Familiarize yourself with where your jack and spare tire are located. The spare tire for your vehicle can be located underneath the car, inside the trunk or inside the trunk panel. Make sure the spare is inflated! There is nothing worse than going to fix a flat tire and realizing your spare is flat as well.

Maintenance service schedule
3. Car maintenance schedules can vary. Looking at things like: batteries, oil, brakes, belts and transmission fluid, just to name a few, should be part of your car’s regular “checkup”. A good place to start is with your vehicle’s owner’s manual. This manual will give the recommended service intervals for your vehicle. Following these recommendations will allow you to maximize the life of your car. Some fluids should be changed as early as 15k miles depending on the operation of the vehicle, the average is about 30k miles.

Vehicle owner’s manual
4. While it may not be your number one choice in reading material, always look over your owner’s manual in its entirety. In doing so, it becomes easier to determine what the lights mean when they come on in your dashboard. For many cars you can also find the owner’s manual online.

Windshield wiper blades
5. Check the condition of your windshield wiper blades periodically. When wipers become torn or cracked your vision can be impaired. Wipers will start to deteriorate even if not used extensively due to exposure to sunlight, pollution and related factors. Check your wiper fluid reservoir and make sure you always have plenty of wiper fluid. Never use just water unless it’s an emergency, as during cold weather it will freeze and crack the reservoir.

Battery and jumper cables
6. Know where your battery is, you should always carry jumper cables in your vehicle just in case you leave your lights on and it drains the battery. There are also portable jump start devices that you can keep in your vehicle in case this situation should arise. Always remember, “Red is hot and black is not” The red is the positive and black is the negative where the jumper cables go.

Shocks and struts
7. If you come to a stop and your car feels like it is rocking back and forth most likely, your shocks and struts are worn and not doing their job, dampening the movement of your vehicle. When driving an older vehicle, even rattling going over bumps can be a good sign that the shocks and struts have seen better days. Many drivers don’t notice their shocks and struts going bad because it happens over time.

Brakes and rotors
8. If you press your brake pedal and feel the steering wheel shake while you are applying the brakes and/or feel the brake pedal move back and forth that is a sign that your brake disc rotors have excessive run-out or what is referred to as pulsation. This can actually affect the ABS (anti-lock braking system) and the stability control system.

Engine air filter
9. One of the simplest and most important things you can do is to change your engine air filter. Doing so helps your engine last longer and improves your fuel economy. Change your engine filter at least once a year around the Washington DC area. In our region, air filters get dirty with fine particles not necessarily large leaves.

Flashing check engine light
10. If the check engine light flashes, get your vehicle looked at as soon as possible. A flashing light indicates that there is something seriously wrong and should not be ignored and driven. When the light is flashing it means there is some kind of misfire and this can cause catalytic converter damage.

Non-flashing check engine light 
+1. A check engine light that comes on but does not flash can mean anything. This is just a symptom, but without diagnostics you cannot find the cause of it. Much like developing a fever, you know you have a fever but don’t know where the infection is coming from. Your check engine light should be diagnosed, don’t just go throwing parts into your car, or self-diagnosing, you may be wasting your money by guessing, just as you would not self-diagnose an illness.

Five costly mistakes of car ownership

In Auto Parts, Automotive Diagnostics, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Did Ybattery-corrosion-honda-civicou Know?
If a modern car is treated with care, it can last for over 100,000 miles without needing major costly repairs. However, neglecting you car’s maintenance needs can leave you with a large bill that could have been avoided. Do you really want to be spending extra money?

Here are five commonly-made mistakes to avoid. Doing so will not just save money, but keep you and your passengers safe as well.

Putting off an Oil Change
1. While oil technology has improved dramatically over the past couple of decades, it is still important to change your oil as recommended by your car’s manufacturer. Motor oil gradually breaks down as it is circulated through your engine. After a certain number of miles, the oil doesn’t provide adequate lubrication. In modern engines, many manufacturers use some form of variable valve timing or hydraulic pressure from the oil pump to help make the cars more powerful and efficient. Not changing the oil greatly affects these systems. Changing your oil is one of the kindest, simplest things you can do for your vehicle to insure your engine performs like it is supposed to for a very long time. Skipping this simple task can shorten the life of your car.

Changing Tires without an Alignment
2. An alignment ensures that the wheels of your car are positioned properly on the road. When a car is out of alignment, the tires wear out prematurely or in places where they’re not supposed to. If you are replacing two or more tires it is important to have this checked to get the most life out of the tires.

Installing Oversized Aftermarket Wheels
3. While some aftermarket wheels are carefully designed to be compatible with certain vehicles, getting the wrong wheels can harm your vehicle’s suspension and ride comfort. Also, if you buy wheels that are too large for your car, you can damage your fenders and wheel wells. Even though, the wheels and tires may technically fit on the vehicle it puts more force on the wheel bearing and brakes and can make them wear out prematurely although it looks cool, (and I agree) be prepared for some extra repairs.

Buying a Cheap Battery
4. A dead battery is a huge hassle. Often times, it means waiting for a jump start, or having to wait for a ride to get a battery to put in your car. And it’s important to find the exact battery for your car. A less expensive battery generally has fewer cells and less reactive material in it then a higher end battery so therefore the cold cranking amp ability and the longevity will generally be less. Going to a garage with ASE certified technicians with the right battery test equipment can help you avoid an inconvenient break down.

Getting Cheap Body Work
5. If you have a dent on your car, sometimes you can be approached by a “professional” in a shopping mall parking lot, or a friend might offer to take care of the problem. Beware, because sloppy body repair can cost more to correct than the original damage. Once an amateur has damaged the paint, a dent that could have been repaired by a professional for $100 dollars or (3 egg laying hens, and 5 pounds of bacon) * according to google July 29th, 2014, might now cost five times as much to be fixed.

Car care myths

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Car care mythsFixing your car at home is the same as taking it to a shop
While fixing your car at home – for example a brake job – is less expensive. You don’t get your car up in the air to take a look at brake lines and brake hoses, you are most likely not going to do a brake fluid flush or going to have a tester to measure if the brake fluid is bad. You may not have access to information on the ABS (antilock brake system) and cause damage to the system while replacing brake pads or shoes. Thus, this may actually cost more money if these things are overlooked.

Transmission flushes are bad
To keep your transmission is top working order you do need to change your transmission fluid just like you change your engine oil, just not as often. Manufactures dont like to give a fluid change interval since they want you to drive a car for about 100k miles then buy a new one. But like most people we like to keep our cars longer. Every 30k miles is a good time to do this service depending on driving conditions. Dealers recommend this around the same mileage interval.

Fuel injectors do not need to be cleaned
If you happen to have the good fortune of living somewhere that there is no traffic then this is probably correct, however if you are in stop and go traffic with lots of idling depending on your vehicle it is likely that you will need to clean fuel injectors in order for the vehicle to run correctly.

Car care myths

You can use any oil in your car
Today’s engines have much closer tolerances and with the electronically controlled engines that are controlled by solenoids and oil pressure it is more important than ever to use the correct weight of oil, if you use the wrong weight of oil you can have engine performance problems.

Dealerships can fix your car better than independent shops
Like any business both of these rely on the people who are actually working for them. Auto techs have a wide range of skills and experience and like most professions there are good and bad.

You must go to a dealership for vehicle maintenance to keep you warranty valid
As long as maintenance is performed on schedule according to your owner’s manual the vehicle can be taken to any shop or even done by the owner if records are kept.