View Post

Tell your auto repair shop everything

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Details are key.

When dropping off your vehicle at an auto repair shop, it’s important to provide as much information as possible – whether it’s a noise you hear, work that has been done, or a recent incident. 

The driver of a Dodge Avenger brought their car in for a wheel alignment and explained that they had hit a curb.

Before performing alignments, our technicians complete a free courtesy inspection. During courtesy checks, they check various components, including the brakes and lights.

When looking over the Dodge Avenger, we noticed that a wheel and tire were damaged and that the wheel would shift back and forth when the brakes were applied. The lower control arm was broken, as well.

Broken lower control arm.
Broken lower control arm

Lower control arms are responsible for linking the frame with the suspension.

As one of the technicians removed the broken lower control arm, he saw that the subframe was bent and needed to be replaced.

auto repair shop
Old subframe

How sharing information with an auto repair shop helps

Providing details to your mechanic gives them an idea of things they should be watchful for and steps they need to take to care of your car.

It can also prevent more damage from occurring.

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. 

View Post

Headlights: What’s checked during the Virginia Safety Inspection

In Car Safety by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

It’s starting to become darker earlier. With the nights lengthening, it’s even more important that drivers have functioning headlights.

Headlights are among the parts that are looked over during the annual Virginia Safety Inspection. Brakes are another component.

Problems with headlights that state inspectors look for

In addition to making sure the assembly doesn’t shift, inspectors ensure there aren’t any cracks, which can alter the aiming pattern.

Why do we focus on this?

When you’re stopped at a traffic light or traveling down the highway, the headlights must be aligned in a certain way so you don’t blind oncoming traffic.

If a headlight is pointed up or to the left too much, it could impair the vision of other drivers and cause an accident.

We also check for headlights that are foggy or those that are too dim or too bright.

Our technicians can determine the candlepower and aiming with a headlight aligner machine.

The lifespan of a headlight depends on the type and how often it’s used.

If you choose to replace yours, verify that it’s approved by the SAE with the correct number. This will determine if the headlight can be used on the road.

Cheap headlights that fit your vehicle are available for purchase online; however, they might not be allowed for highway use. If not, you could get a ticket. Headlights that aren’t SAE approved also won’t pass the Virginia Safety Inspection.

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. 

View Post

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.

Those who are having water pump problems and technicians who are looking into these issues: You can read some recommendations in this article we wrote.

Installing a water pump on a Cadillac

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. 

Shredded drive belt and drive pulley.
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. 

View Post

BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport Tire: A high quality, all-season tire

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are you in the market for a high quality tire with a lower price point?

The BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport Tire may be the right fit for your vehicle.

It is very similar to the Michelin Defender Tire, Michelin’s top tire. But don’t let that be the only reason that convinces you to consider this option.

An all-season tire, the BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport Tire offers quite a few benefits that make it a favorite among many drivers.

Improved traction and great grip

Traveling in the rain or snow can be challenging and a bit stressful. The BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport Tire is a great choice to have on your side in these conditions.

Made up of locking 3-D Active Sipe Technology, it gives you improved traction that is especially helpful when you’re driving through wet or snowy weather. Its siping helps push away water.

The tire’s excellent grip is another perk that can’t be ignored. This grip, which is possible because of silica-infused compounds, can be counted on all year long. 

BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport Tire: Reliable and comfortable

You don’t just want a tire that can be trusted in inclement weather. It’s also important that the one you choose for your vehicle is reliable when going around corners or traveling at higher speeds. (If you live or work in Northern Virginia, you know that high speeds are a norm on major roads and highways.)

Not only does this BFGoodrich option meet those needs, it does so while also providing a comfortable ride. This can be attributed to its sidewall stabilizer. Having that trait in a tire can help make longer trips more pleasant.

A quiet ride that’s long lasting

The last thing you want to hear while commuting or running errands is a noisy tire. That’s one problem you don’t need to be concerned about when using the BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport Tire.

And this quiet ride is one you can enjoy for many miles, as it is backed by a 60,000 to 70,000 mile tread life. 

Both of these qualities are the result of Computer Optimized Footprint.

How well this tire steers is another benefit that fans have noticed. The steering response is consistent, due to the Continuous Center Rib. 

The BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport Tire is one that drivers shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss.

Sizes are available for different types of vehicles, including trucks, SUVs and smaller cars.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire has a wide selection of tires. We also offer a nationwide road hazard warranty for all tires that we sell. 

To learn more about this BFGoodrich tire or any other tires, feel free to reach out to us. One of our staff members would be happy to help you determine the best tire for your vehicle.

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. 

View Post

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, the technician 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. 

Window Motor and Regulation Assembly.
Window Motor and Regulation Assembly

What can cause problems with car windows?

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. 

View Post

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.

What happens during an emission test?

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.

What can cause you to be rejected for testing?

There are a few ways you can be rejected for getting an emission test: 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.

View Post

What impacts oil change prices?

In Oil Change by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

As the due date for their next oil change draws closer, a lot of drivers wonder how much it will cost them.

A few factors can have an impact on the bill.

Oil change prices can depend on how many quarts a vehicle has and the type of oil it needs.

The make and model of a car also play a role.

For example, oil change prices may be more for BMWs, Mercedes, or other luxury vehicles because they require special scan tools to reset the maintenance lights.

Mercedes and BMWs have several lights that can be triggered, so it’s important for technicians to take their time and check them off.

When and why to change your oil

The manufacturers of some cars, like the Mercedes-Benz built after 2010, suggest changing the oil and oil filter every 10,000 miles or after one year.

If you’re driving an older Mercedes-Benz, you may be better off changing your oil at the 5,000 mile mark.

TECHNICIAN TIP: One of our technicians wants to make sure he’s taking care of his Mercedes. He likes to change his oil at 5,000 miles and top off the fluid to keep everything clean in the engine. He also does that because the stop and go traffic in Northern Virginia can be pretty hard on a car.

Because there are so many different types of oil out there, it’s hard to stock every single one. At HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire, we use synthetic oil so every car gets the best oil. Read about our switch to full synthetic.

Therefore, with all of the commuting, we recommend a 5,000 mile interval with our oil, as that’s also a good time to rotate the tires.

Our technicians rotate the tires and perform a courtesy check during every oil change.

If you don’t change your oil or if you go too long without an oil change, it can cause damage to the engine. Running on too little oil prevents the oil from getting to components it needs to.

Regular oil changes keeps your engine working properly. They also help prevent sludge buildup.

Read more about what happens during an oil change and why they are important.

Checking your oil

We recommend checking your oil every other time to fill up on gas. 

If you notice you’re low on oil, it’s OK to add oil between oil changes as long as it’s the right type, viscosity and amount.

However, it’s important to keep an eye on it, because a vehicle shouldn’t use or lose oil. If you’re losing more than a quart or two between oil changes, it could mean that there’s a leak or the oil is being consumed internally.

Depending on the type of engine you have, the valve can go bad on the intake manifold. That can lead to an oil consumption 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.

View Post

Five possible reasons why your air conditioning isn’t working

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When the sun is beating down during your commute or on long car rides, it’s nice to have an air conditioning system that works correctly.

In the spring and summer, many drivers will notice that the AC won’t do its job. There isn’t one set answer for this issue. A number of problems can prevent cold air from flowing through the vents.

Below are five potential causes of a/c problems.

Some air conditioning issues

Low on freon: One possibility is that the car could be low on refrigerant. This means that the system likely has a leak. Air conditioning leaks could be coming from multiple locations, including fittings, rubber gaskets, and lines.

Low pressure line between the condenser and compressor leaking.
Refrigerant leak on Nissan Altima

Malfunctioning expansion valve: It’s also 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.

An 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.

An electronic climate control system.
Electronic Climate Control System

Operator error: Today, the setup for A/C systems varies among vehicles. So, it’s very easy to hit the 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.

Turning on the 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.

Old air conditioning condenser.
Old air conditioning condenser

Testing the a/c system

The reasons mentioned above are just a few potential culprits behind air conditioning problems. 

As we mentioned, an a/c system might not be working due to a leak. Because leaks aren’t always visible and can occur in different areas, we need to narrow down the search. To do this, we take a look at how the system is running. 

With a machine, our automotive technicians determine the amount of refrigerant it has. Through vacuuming, they can see if leaks are present. Ultraviolet dye and oil are injected into the system to determine the location of the leak. The car AC is recharged after this process.

How soon we can see the ultraviolet dye varies. Sometimes, a vehicle needs to be driven 100 miles or so and brought back to the shop before we can find the leak. 

Drivers don’t need to wait until they’re experiencing a problem. However, it’s important that they avoid waiting too long before having the system checked again. The dye can get all over the place or wash off.

Bringing your car in for a/c repair

When bringing your vehicle in for a/c repair, provide as many details about the problem as possible.

Some important information includes what you noticed, when you noticed it, and what has happened since then.

You may be asked if you have good airflow through the vents, if you can change the temperature control, or if an event occurred around the time that you started experiencing the problem.

These answers and additional details allow us to focus on certain areas or issues.

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.

View Post

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.

Air conditioning condenser cleaning process

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 ac system is on.

You may also want to check out the small fins on the 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. 

View Post

Mercedes parts replaced after wheel falls off

In Brakes, Suspension 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.

Steering knuckle.
Steering Knuckle

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

Old and new hub bearing.
Old and New Hub Bearing

One of our technicians changed them and the brake dust shield. These Mercedes parts were replaced last month.

Brake dust shield.
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.