View Post

Signs that your gas tank is leaking

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Do you smell gas? Your vehicle’s gas tank could be leaking.

That is the case of 1990 GMC Sierra, which was brought into HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire.

The owners of the vehicle mentioned that they can smell fuel and see fuel when adding it.

When Jason started working on the GMC Sierra, he noticed the two seams of the gas tank are leaking. It will need a new tank.

If you smell fresh, raw fuel away from the gas station hours or days after you fill up your tank, then you probably have a fuel leak.

In the 1980’s, when cars were carbureted, it was normal to smell fuel when walking by the hood of a vehicle. Nowadays, everything is electronically controlled and the gas needs to be contained within the evaporative (EVAP) system at all times. 

Gas tank replacement

A vehicle needing a new gas tank is rare.

Today, tanks are made up of plastics and are resilient. They take impact very well and don’t typically rust or deteriorate.

Some tanks, however, are made with plastic and have a metal ring where the pump sits. The rings do corrode, which causes gas leaks and the releasing of vapors.

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

Is your vehicle’s sunroof clogged?

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Over time, the sunroof of a vehicle can become clogged.

Charles from HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire faced this issue when he was working on a 2012 Toyota RAV4 last month.

The vehicle had come in because of a dead battery. 

As he was looking into the problem, he noticed that the check engine light and oil pressure light stayed on, even when the key wasn’t in the ignition.

Check engine light and oil pressure light.
Check engine light and oil pressure light

The floor on the passenger side was also saturated with water.

Many of the connectors were soaked and the sunroof was open.

Soaked floor on passenger side of Toyota RAV4.
Soaked floor

Potential sunroof clogged causes

Cars with sunroofs have a tube that runs down the vehicle. 

If the sunroof is blocked with leaves or the bottom of the tube becomes clogged, it won’t drain properly. Instead, any water will overflow into the vehicle.

Charles cleared the hoses and, after closing the sunroof, ran water over it to make sure there weren’t any leaks in the tube.

Leaks can be the result of a poor windshield installation. Door seals can leak, as well.

As fall comes to an end and winter approaches, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for this problem and make sure your drains are clear.

You can do this by checking the sunroof for any leaves or buildup. 

To check for any clogs in the tube, pour a bottle of water over the closed sunroof and look for any water that’s come out the bottom of the car. If you don’t see any water, you could have a clog.

If you suspect that there’s a clog in the tube, you should bring it into an auto repair shop to have it addressed. 

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

Air induction service for GDI engines

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

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

The GDI (Gasoline Direct Inject) fuel and air induction service is specifically catered to GDI engines, which aim to provide greater power in a smaller engine.

It was standard that a 4-cylinder engine had excellent gas mileage but not a whole lot of power. Meanwhile, a V8 engine had a huge amount of power but was a complete gas guzzler, so it wasn’t very cost effective. 

GDI engines are made to combine the best of both worlds by providing the gas mileage of a 4-cylinder engine with the power of a V8 engine. This is done by taking a 4-cylinder engine, adding a turbo, and running it like a diesel, making it the most powerful and efficient car currently available. 

Of course, nothing is completely perfect without proper maintenance and care.

The problem that GDI engines encounter most often is a build up of carbon on injectors. They are constantly subjected to the harsh environment of the combustion chamber, causing them to quickly clog up with carbon and misfire.  

In the advancement of the GDI engine, the injectors were placed where fuel does not get the opportunity to wash over the intake valves to prevent carbon build up.

Air induction service
Intake Manifold and Throttle Body

GDI Fuel and Air Induction Service

This is where the GDI Fuel and Air Induction Service comes into play. 

It is recommended to have this service performed every 15,000 miles, though it can be done earlier because carbon can start to build up as early as 3,000 miles. The induction services is done by a BG certified mechanic and they work to clean the areas that carbon has built up. 

The process is as follows:

  • BG 44k is poured into the gas tank as a cleanser that will continue to run through the engine until your next gas fill up.
  • Two 11oz cans of GDI Intake Valve cleaner are poured into the BG VIA — this is the machine that runs the actual cleaning process.
  • The solution is sprayed into the intake with the Air Intake Cleaning tool on the machine.
  • A can of fuel injection and combustion chamber cleaner is then poured into the BG VIA.
  • And the BG VIA is connected to the fuel rail and the fluid is sent into the engine.

Once this service is performed, the customer will notice quite an improvement in gas mileage, power, and a decrease in emissions. This service should be performed regularly in order to keep the GDI engine running smoothly and at peak performance.

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

Toyota Prius tire alignment problems

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are the tires of your Toyota Prius wearing unevenly? Is your car pulling to one side? Does the steering feel sloppy?

These are some signs of a bad tire alignment.

Various issues can be mistaken for a wheel alignment problem.

The steering wheel shuddering when you press the brake pedal is one of them.

Tire alignments should be performed when new tires are placed on the vehicle, and once a year — especially when you commute or are driving in an area that has lots of construction or potholes.

Tire Alignment.
Tire Alignment

When you get new tires, you need to get a four-wheel alignment, because if the rear wheels are out, it can cause the vehicle to feel strange going around corners. 

If your Prius has Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), a point VSC calibration should be performed.

Issues that can occur with a Toyota Prius tire alignment

There are rear shims available to bring the rear wheels into the correct specifications, but they can only adjust so much. If the specs are out further than what can be done with shims, there could be bent components, such as a strut or spindle.

Another reason to make sure you have a good, four-wheel alignment is you can lose three miles per gallon if the tires are causing more resistance than they should be.

Toe, caster and camber are the main specifications that need to be checked during a wheel alignment.

Rust is one problem that may appear during a Toyota Prius tire alignment.

Depending on where Toyotas come from and how well they’ve been maintained, a lot of rust can build up on the suspension components, especially where adjustments are made. 

The rust can cause components the seize up. This may require some parts to be replaced in order to perform the alignment correctly.

Some replacement parts for the Toyota Prius that are from the factory don’t come with needed adjustments. Aftermarket manufacturers do produce parts that offer them.

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

HomeTowne Auto Repair accepting Toys for Tots donations

In Community Involvement by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are you looking for a way to help the less fortunate?

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is serving as a drop off location for Toys for Tots.

The annual Toys for Tots program collects new, unwrapped gifts for children in need.

Where and when to drop off Toys for Tots donations

Toys for Tots donations can be brought to the auto shop between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is located at 15698 Jefferson Davis Highway in Woodbridge. 

“We’ll start drop-offs next week and we’ll go ‘til December 14,” Service Writer Heather Skerry said.

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

Check engine light started flashing

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Written by Erin Flynn

My work week had an unexpected (and slightly stressful) start.

I had filled up the gas tank for my Volkswagen Beetle on my way to work. But when I was leaving the gas station parking lot, my vehicle began to shudder. 

It stopped and then started shuddering again a little while later. As I was traveling down the road and preparing to merge onto I-95, the check engine light began to flash. “Oh no,” I thought to myself. A few minutes passed, and the light became solid.

I decided to have my car checked out and I cautiously made my way to HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire. With a lot of luck, I arrived safely and explained my experience to the employees.

Valve cover on Volkswagen.

Determining the problem

When checking my car, the Woodbridge mechanics found out that it needed a new ignition coil. 

They used a scan tool and noticed that there was a misfire, which means that the air in the fuel isn’t igniting the way it should. This problem may be the result of a bad spark plug or ignition coil, or too much or too little air or fuel.

Some symptoms of a misfire include the check engine light coming on, and a vehicle stalling, running rough or shuddering.

After the misfire occurred on cylinder 3, the technician swapped out one of the ignition coils with another one and saw the misfire followed to cylinder 2. If there had been an issue with the spark plug, the second misfire would have happened on cylinder 3.

Ignition coils, which can be found in most makes and models, command a spark plug to spark. Poor connection and oil intrusion can cause them to fail. They can also go bad over time. 

Ignition coil.
Ignition coil

Why did my check engine light turn on?

An ignition coil or spark plug going bad are a couple of culprits behind a check engine light turning on. However, there are many causes, such as a loose gas cap, low oil, a malfunctioning catalytic converter, and problems with the coolant system.

Meanwhile, a flashing check engine light may be a sign that there is an engine problem.

More reasons why the light turns are explained in an article posted on Bumper.com.

If you noticed that the check engine light came on and is remaining solid, there’s no need to panic. But the sooner you have your vehicle checked out, the better. Choosing to have it looked at early on can help automotive professionals pinpoint the issue more easily and quickly. 

However, if your vehicle starts shuddering or your check engine light comes on, you should have a mechanic or auto repair shop look at it immediately. We also recommend that you avoid driving the car. Waiting to address a blinking check engine light could lead to bigger, more expensive issues, like catalytic converter damage.

It’s also a good idea to reach out to an expert if any other lights appear, or if you notice strange behaviors or sounds. To learn about dashboard lights and what they mean, check out this article we posted.

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 is a fuel injector?

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Certain components need to be in good working order in order for your vehicle’s engine to run properly.

Its performance can be impacted when there is a problem with the fuel injectors. These parts are responsible for sending fuel to the cylinder, allowing the engine to operate.

A 2008 Jeep Wrangler that was brought to HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire needed new fuel injectors. The vehicle’s check engine light had turned on, and it had a fuel injector code.

The intake manifold on a Sahara Jeep Wrangler.
Intake manifold on a Sahara Jeep Wrangler

Replacing fuel injectors

To reach the fuel injectors, we needed to remove the intake manifold. On this Jeep Wrangler, the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) tube runs from the valve on top of the intake.

While working on the vehicle, we realized that a fuel injector was out of specification. We needed to install new injectors before rechecking it.

The steps to replace fuel injectors vary among vehicles. Some fuel injectors are in the intake manifold. Others are mounted directly into the cylinder head like a spark plug. That’s called direct injection.The general injector replacement process includes releasing fuel pressure, disconnecting the fuel rail, and pulling the fuel injectors out of the fuel rail.

Intake manifold.
Intake manifold

The number of injectors depends on the cylinders. Most vehicles have one per cylinder but some have two for each cylinder.

Fuel injectors normally last the life of the vehicle. However, there are a few common issues found with some automobiles. For example, when certain Chevrolets reach 70,000 or 80,000 miles they will have a misfire at a cold start. This problem tends to resolve itself as the engine warms up. We’ve worked on a bunch of those vehicles. 

Signs of fuel injector problems

The check engine light turning on isn’t the only sign that the fuel injectors aren’t working correctly. You may also notice the vehicle is riding rough and lacking power.

Other indicators of a fuel injector problem include the car having trouble starting or using more fuel than normal. 

Another symptom that can appear if something is wrong with the injectors are engine misfires, which is when the fuel isn’t ignited right.

As high tech as some of these vehicles are becoming – such as certain Mercedes engines – it could take a while to diagnose and track down what your misfire problem may be due to the injectors. 

A direct replacement may not be a fix. The manufacturer may have to read the values of the injectors overtime, and they can recommend what cylinder the injector should be put in to balance out the engine. 

However, it’s always good to check the basics first, such as spark plugs, ignition coils and the operation of the fuel injectors.

Fuel injector maintenance

The best way to make sure a vehicle’s fuel injectors last is to take care of them over a period of time. Having fuel induction services conducted regularly is one way you can maintain them. 

Recommended every 30,000 miles, the fuel induction service cleans out the air induction and fuel injection systems. Contaminants are removed from fuel injectors and other parts by a fuel system cleaner.

It’s a good idea to replace any bad fuel injectors in your vehicle sooner rather than later. If you have a symptom that’s linked to a fuel injector problem and the part isn’t replaced, the symptom will continue to grow worse.

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

View Post

Maintaining your vehicle’s coolant level

In Vehicle Fluids by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Written by Erin Flynn

When I started my Volkswagen Beetle a few days ago, I heard a beeping sound and noticed that one of my dashboard lights was blinking.

A few seconds later, it turned off. I learned, later on, that it had been the coolant level light.

One of the staff members from HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire checked my vehicle’s coolant level and added fluid.

The light, he explained, turns on when the coolant goes below two metal rods that are located in the reservoir. However, each vehicle is designed differently.

Coolant Level Warning Light.
Coolant Level Warning Light

A vehicle’s engine operates at the same temperature throughout the year. Its coolant level fluctuates when it’s extremely hot or cold outside.

What can cause the Coolant Level Light to turn on?

Decreases in coolant could also mean that there’s a coolant leak, which can be difficult to determine. Parts of a cooling system may leak when the vehicle is moving or when it’s stationary. 

The coolant light could also be triggered if an engine is overheating.

Some vehicles have a dual purpose light, and others have a separate one.

Dashboard lights have various meanings.

You can learn about those specific to your vehicle by reading your owner’s manual.

Whether your vehicle has a spare tire and the location of your vehicle’s tire parts are also covered in the handbook.

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

Check engine light may indicate catalytic converter problem

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A catalytic converter helps reduce pollution by changing a vehicle’s exhaust emission.

Ray from HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire installed a new one on a Dodge Caravan on Monday.

The vehicle was brought to the shop when the check engine light came on. 

When checking the O2 sensors on the computer, he realized that the catalytic converter wasn’t working properly.

An old catalytic converter and a new catalytic converter.
An old catalytic converter and a new catalytic converter

Catalytic converter types

Different types of two-way and three-way converters are available. Years ago, one-way converters were used. 

Ray installed a two-way converter, which contains chemicals that changes the air.

The type of converter a vehicle needs depends on the make and model, and how the engine runs. 

Some converters don’t go bad. 

Others may need replacing if a misfire occurs. A misfire shoots raw fuel in the converter, which can’t switch over raw fuel. 

In addition to the check engine light coming on, the smell of raw fumes is another sign that a vehicle needs a new one. However, the check engine light would be your first indicator.

There are many reasons why a check engine light turns on. If it does, it’s a good idea to bring the vehicle into an auto repair shop soon.

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

Oil leaks in Toyota Tundra’s and Sequoia’s

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Oil leaks are a common problem with some Toyota Tundra’s and Sequoia’s. HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire has certified technicians who can help solve them.

This week, Technician Ray addressed an oil leak by replacing a camshaft cover seal. The seal was located between the camshaft housing and head of the Toyota V8 engine. To get to the seal, he needed to remove the valve covers, front cover, timing chain, and camshafts.

How to tell if a vehicle is experiencing oil leaks

Drivers can have their vehicles checked during oil changes to make sure there aren’t any issues.

Parking on a clean surface will allow them to see if a puddle is forming. 

Typically, engine oil is black, brown or yellow. Check out this article to read about other reasons why a vehicle may be leaking.

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.