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Why are oil changes important?

In Oil Change by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Regular checkups are important to one’s health. The same proves true for vehicles.

Between every 3,000 and 5,000 miles, it’s a good idea to have the oil changed. 

This is one way you can maintain your car and its engine.

When changing the oil, our technicians remove the drain plug, which releases oil from the engine.

After we catch the oil, we replace the drain plug and change the oil filter. The oil filter is located on the top or bottom of the engine, depending on the vehicle’s design.

Then, the technicians put the correct viscosity and amount of oil in the car, place a reminder sticker on the windshield, and reset the reminder on the dashboard. 

We use full synthetic oil.

Adding oil.
Oil change

When performing an oil change, our technicians also do a courtesy inspection where they check various components, including the lights, tires and brakes.

Read more about the courtesy inspection and our switch to synthetic oil.

Why should I get an oil change?

Oil changes help ensure that an engine is functioning properly, and avoiding them can lead to damage down the road.

For example, if your car takes five quarts of oil and you’re running it on three and a half or four quarts, it may run and sound fine. However, you’re destroying the engine, because it’s not reaching every part it’s supposed to. 

You may not experience a problem until 30,000 or 40,000 miles later when metal particles are found in the oil. By this point, parts have started to break down.

Earlier this year, one of our technicians discovered metal shavings when doing an oil change on a 2014 Jeep Cherokee SRT8. The engine on the Jeep was replaced soon afterwards.

Many new, fuel-efficient cars have high compression, which means your car may be burning oil without you knowing it.

They also have oil lubricated turbos that can be destroyed overtime. 

Another reason it’s extremely important to change your oil is that the engines have much tighter tolerances. A lot of engines have variable valve timing, and if sludge starts to build up that can cause problems with the oil solenoids that control the camshafts and can actually plug return galleries from the top of the engine so the oil can’t get back down to the oil pan as quickly.

Having your oil changed early isn’t a bad idea. We also suggest checking your oil every other time you fill your gas tank, because you can’t tell when you’re driving your car if it’s low.

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 backup sensor repairs offered at auto shop in Woodbridge, Virginia

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

One malfunctioning sensor can throw a car’s system off.

Jason replaced a backup sensor on a 2011 Cadillac CTS. There was a code that the rear object detection system wasn’t working properly.

When this system is disabled, the vehicle isn’t able to identify an object a driver can’t see.

This affects parallel parking and how close the car is to another car, a tree, or a curb.

The rear object detection system is one component we can address through our Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) system.

Driver assist, which can be found in many cars, also includes emergency braking, traffic sign recognition and surround view.

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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New subframe installed on Dodge Charger

In Suspension by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A Dodge Charger came into HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire for a tire alignment earlier this month. 

Before performing an alignment, our technicians check the vehicle’s suspension.

During his inspection, Ray noticed clay on the lower ball joints on the left, front side and recommended a new lower control arm and a ball joint.

New subframe needed

When installing the lower control arm, he found the subframe was bent from some sort of impact.

Because the subframe holds the engine, Ray needed to use a special hoist to hold the engine while he put in the new subframe.

This situation is a good example of why you shouldn’t hide or leave out information when talking to a technician or service adviser.

You can save time and money by sharing as much information as possible.

Check out this article we wrote to learn about other reasons why you shouldn’t lie to your mechanic.

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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Wheel alignments can help your tires last longer

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Potholes aren’t a rare sight in Northern Virginia, where a lot of road work and construction can be seen.

Because potholes can knock the wheels of your vehicle out of alignment, it’s a good idea to get the tire alignment checked once a year.

An alignment can also be impacted by curbs and suspension wear.

We also recommend having wheel alignments performed when you’re buying new tires. Tires are a large investment in a vehicle and you want to make sure they last as long as possible. 

A crooked steering wheel, uneven tire wear, and a car pulling to one side are signs of bad wheel alignments.

If you put off an alignment, it can lead to tire wear problems.

Some issues can be mistaken for a wheel alignment problem. One example is a vibration that’s felt in the steering wheel. (We talk about in this article we published.)

How we perform wheel alignments

Our technicians use computer aided alignment with up to date specifications to make sure your tires are aligned properly. 

With today’s vehicles being technically advanced, it’s not just a matter of going under the car with the wrench and adjusting the toe, or the caster, or the camber. It’s also about making sure the steering wheel angle sensors are reset and — in some cases — ensuring the Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) are calibrated.

We do have an alignment system for the ADAS systems in a 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.

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Replacing tires on a BMW

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A BMW I8 recently received a couple of new tires.

The car was brought to HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire after its Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) light turned on. 

The tread depth of the BMW’s rear tires was below 2/32 of an inch, which is the minimum specification for the Virginia Safety Inspection.

When you should be replacing tires

A manufacturer might suggest that you get new tires when the tread depth reaches 3/32 of an inch to 5/32 of an inch.

If you drive a BMW and are in need of tire repair services, we may be able to repair them, depending on the injury and its location.

Learn about when a tire is repairable.

HomeTowne Auto Repair doesn’t just repair tires. We also sell tires, including Michelin, BFGoodrich and Uniroyal.

Tire installation process

Before replacing tires on a vehicle, our technicians make sure that they have the correct tires and that they don’t have any punctures. 

Then, they use a tire machine to separate the tire from the rim.

Tire paste is used to prevent a tire from tearing as it goes on or comes off the rim.

After that, our technicians balance the tires, place them on the vehicle, and twerk them to the correct specification.

When getting new tires, it’s a good idea to have a wheel alignment performed. We also suggest road hazard warranty for the tires.

Read about how we, as a tire shop, differ from a discount tire place.

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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BG Frigi Fresh kills bacteria, viruses

In Cabin Air Filter by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Do you want to clear the air inside your vehicle?

BG Frigi Fresh, a disinfectant and air freshener, is one product HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire uses to do that.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered product removes odors and kills harmful bacteria, molds and viruses. These germs build up in the climate control system and result in a musty odor and affects allergies.  

We spray BG Frigi Fresh into the air intake system when replacing the cabin air filter. It goes through the vent system, including the heater core and evaporator.

What is a cabin air filter?

The cabin air filter blocks some dirt, dust and bacteria from coming into the front of your vehicle.

Most cars use one filter, but some higher engineered vehicles — including Mercedes and BMWs — have two. Other vehicles don’t have any, so make sure to check before setting up an appointment.

There are several kinds of cabin air filters. The cost of a cabin air filter depends on how it’s made, what it’s made out of, and if it gets distorted.

Our technicians use a mid-grade filter, but even better filters are out there.

The Enviroshield Cabin Air Filter clear out various impurities, including pollen, dust, and exhaust system smells from other vehicles.

PureFlow is a filter that gets rid of particles, soaks up odors, and makes germs less effective.

How often you should replace cabin air filters

Cabin air filters should be replaced at least once a year, but — depending on the driving conditions — they could require additional changes.

If you live or travel on a dirt road, you may need to replace the cabin air filter more often than if you typically use major roads and highways.

The amount of pollen can also impact how frequently it’s changed.

There are some signs that a cabin air filter is ready to be replaced. These include a musty smell and the vents not blowing air as strongly.

Technician Tip: Other than regularly changing out your cabin air filter, we also recommend removing leaves and pine needles from the cowling area. If you do not, they can clog up the cabin air filter.

Other air filters

Vehicles can have several filters. 

In addition to cabin air filters, there are engine air filters. They filter air that’s entering the combustion chamber.

Overtime, engine air filters become dirty or smushed and need to be replaced. Certain performance filters may be washed and reused. If you don’t change or wash them, the filters won’t work as well. It could also lead to engine damage. 

There are also filters for fans on temperature control seats and blower motor filters, which maintain the battery’s cool temperature. 

While you’re driving around, you want to breathe in pure air. Changing the cabin air filter and using BG Frigi Fresh are a couple of ways you keep it clean. 

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 a new rear differential?

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

The rear differential on a Ford Escape has been replaced. 

A bearing noise could be heard. After performing a diagnostic test, one of our technicians determined that the part needed to be replaced.

Located between the rear wheels, the rear differential takes the rotational energy created by the drive shaft and splits it equally to the wheels.

Overall, they’re pretty durable. However, they can go bad overtime, due to normal wear and tear or if you regularly take the vehicle off-roading.

Replacing and maintaining the rear differential

If they wear out and you don’t address the issue, the wheels can lock up. 

You may need a new rear differential if you hear noises, there’s looseness, or your car has been damaged in an accident.

One of the ways you can prolong the life of your differential is to replace the differential fluid every 30,000 miles. We suggest using BG Full Synthetic Differential Fluid. Some other vehicles — or depending on use — may have a shorter service time.

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 supports local non-profits

In Community Involvement by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Prince William County is made up of many organizations that do good things in the community.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is a supporter of local non-profits, including the Prince William Humane Society (PWHS) and The Arc of Greater Prince William.

“We live and work in the community and want to give back to worthwhile causes,” HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire Owner ST Billingsley said.

How we support local non-profits

We offer free oil change services as well as free Virginia Safety Inspections and emissions tests to The Arc of Greater Prince William.

The Arc of Greater Prince William is a non-profit that serves individuals with developmental disabilities.

Last year, HomeTowne Auto Repair helped the humane society acquire its new Paw Bus and get it road worthy. 

PWHS, an animal welfare organization that finds homes for adoptable pets, is using its new to transport pets to shelters, events and vet appointments.

HomeTowne shares information and flyers from K9s Serving Vets with customers, as well.

K9s Serving Vets is a non-profit that helps Veterans who are seeking a service dog.

Our support of What’s Up Prince William

We also support our community by helping fund What’s Up Prince William (WUPW), a news site that covers non-profits, community issues, and good things that people and organizations are doing in Prince William County.

In 2019, WUPW was able to do more than $66,000 of in-kind services to 20 non-profits, at no cost to the non-profits.

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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A valve cover gasket can prevent oil leaks

In Vehicle Fluids by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Have you noticed an oil leak between your vehicle’s front two tires?

There are a number of reasons that could be behind it.

Needing a new valve cover gasket is one of them. Technician Jason replaced this part on a 2015 Jeep Patriot on Tuesday.

What is a valve cover gasket?

The valve cover covers the rocker arms, valve springs and seals on top of the engine. It goes between the valve cover and cylinder head, so oil doesn’t leak from the top of the engine.

“It can also cover up any other oil leaks, so it’s very important to keep this … up to par,” Jason explained.  

Other oil leak culprits

An oil leak doesn’t necessarily mean that the valve cover gasket needs to be replaced.

Many components can leak oil, including the oil pan, oil filter housing — also known as the oil filter adapter — drain plugs, and front and rear crankshaft seals.

Depending on the make and model, a vehicle may have oil cooler lines that can leak.

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.