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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.

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Signs that your starter is going bad

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Click. Click. Click.

It’s a dreaded sound for many drivers, especially when they are trying — unsuccessfully — to start their car. This is also a telltale sign that a vehicle’s starter is going bad.

A bad starter is one reason why a car won’t start. Having a dead battery or the alternator going bad are other possibilities.

What are the symptoms of a bad starter?

Aside from a clicking noise, drivers may notice some other indicators when the starter needs to be replaced.

You may also hear a slight grinding noise. When you turn your key in the ignition, the bendex shoots out and spins at a high rate, starting the flywheel. This is what starts your car. A grinding sound could mean the bendex is wearing down. 

Another giveaway is if your vehicle won’t start, even when a jumper box or a jumper cable are attached to it. If this is the case, try to jump start your car and turn it over a few times to see if you can hit it just right.

Once you get it started, drive the vehicle directly to a mechanic or auto repair shop, and don’t turn it off until you arrive. If you do, you will have to redo the process of starting your car (and this time, you may need to have it towed).

Keep in mind that sometimes a starter doesn’t show any signs of going bad. It just stops working.

What can cause it to go bad?

There are three culprits behind a starter going bad: corrosion, time and overuse.

Corrosion can build up wherever there is copper. For example, there are copper bindings in this component.

Time is your biggest factor. It’s hard to say how long a starter will last. The lifespan varies, but you can usually make it around 100,000 to 150,000 miles before needing a new one. However, we’ve seen some cars reach 300,000 miles with the original starter.

The longevity is impacted by how often you turn a vehicle on. Do you start it twice a day because you are commuting, or is it more like 6, 7, or 8 times?

Starter replacement cost

Starter replacement cost isn’t set in stone. There are quite a few variables that affect the price tag. Starters themselves can range from $200 to $1,400.

It depends, in part, on where you buy it and the type of vehicle. You will be spending a little more money on a starter for a European car or a vehicle equipped with auto start, which has more features and is a bit heavier duty.

Whether the part is new, used or remanufactured also plays a role in the cost. Remanufactured starters are typically cheaper, and sometimes that’s all you can get for some of these older vehicles.

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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Brakes and the Virginia Safety Inspection

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Bringing your vehicle in for the Virginia safety inspection is one way you can protect yourself and others.

The brakes of your vehicle have to be working properly in order to pass the yearly requirement.

Problems with brakes

There can’t be a soft brake pedal.

A hard brake pedal or a vehicle having a hard time stopping can be caught during the state inspection, as well.

This can be caused by a problem with the vacuum. Many vehicles now have electric pressure pumps, rather than old components, such as the vacuum brake booster.

Twisted brake hoses is another problem we keep an eye out for.

Brake hoses can become twisted for various reasons. Perhaps someone who was putting a caliper back on turned it one too many times.

The inspectors ensure that nothing is rubbing on or starting to wear through the brake hoses and they haven’t begun to develop excessive cracks.

A vehicle will fail if any active leaks or oil contamination is found.

Other parts we check

Brake pads must be at or above 2/32 inches.

We may start recommending new brakes at 3/32 or 4/32 of an inch, but they have to be under 2/32 to fail inspection. At 2/32 of an inch, brakes will technically pass, but they might not within a week or a month, depending on your driving conditions.

Rotors need a certain thickness that’s based on a manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Excessive rust on the rotors is another symptom we look for.

You could have a caliper that is seized, or maybe a piston is pushing in but a caliper isn’t sliding. This means one pad isn’t making contact with the rotor and the wheel only has half of its braking ability. When we see a lot of rust built up on the rotor, it’s a good indication that the brakes aren’t working correctly.

Vehicle safety inspectors are also checking to make sure the parking brake is able to hold on a slight incline.

Some of the vehicles driven today use an electronic parking brake. They don’t even have a handle that you pull up; instead, it’s run by a computer.

There are different ways that the electronic parking brake needs to be tested during the state inspection.

The anti-lock braking system (ABS) light is another component that’s checked. A vehicle can still pass inspection, even if the yellow ABS light is on. However, it will not pass if the red brake light is on, because that could indicate a problem with the parking brake system or fluid.

If it feels like there is a mechanical issue, inspectors can take the car for a test drive.

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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When and why you should replace a timing belt

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A vehicle’s timing belt goes around pulleys — the crankshaft, camshaft(s), tensioner and sometimes water pump.

When everything is correct, the belt keeps the crankshaft and the camshafts in correct timing, and if it fails on an interference engine you could catastrophic damage to the engine, such as bending the valves or breaking the pistons.

Timing Belt Routing.

Timing Belt Routing

New timing belts should be installed between 50,000 and 105,000 miles. This depends on the make and model of a vehicle, the manufacturer recommendations, and the driving conditions.

From my personal experience, even though it has been recommended to change the timing belt at 90,000 miles, I haven’t had a problem pushing it to 105,000 miles. But these were Toyotas with two-inch-wide timing belts.

If the belt is a one-inch wide belt, you might want to keep it closer to 60,000 miles. 

Not to sound derogatory, but the soccer mom — or dad — minivan gets driven hard like a high performance vehicle, just from running around and the stop-and-go driving. So you may want to stay on the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Besides, you don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road with a bunch of kids.

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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Do I need a wheel alignment?

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Many people will call us to ask if we do wheel alignments when they’re trying to solve an issue that may not require it.

Some of these issues may include a vibration drivers are feeling in a steering wheel. A wheel alignment issue will have more to do with tire wear and how the vehicle tracks down the road — whether it’s going straight or pulling to one side.

wheel balance.

Having a wheel alignment conducted regularly — once a year — can help save drivers money and prevent premature wear.

To take care of the wheel balance problem, we’ll need to remove the tire, place it on a wheel balancer, and place the correct amount of weights on it.

If it’s a tire issue and it’s a steel belt that is broken, then the tire would have to be replaced.

What can be mistaken for a wheel alignment issue

Another symptom that is mistaken for a wheel alignment problem is when you press the brake pedal and the steering wheel starts to shudder. 

brakes.

This is due to the brake rotors having too much run out — or what people refer to as “warped” — and this can be easily mistaken because so much of that vibration is transferred through the steering wheel, especially if it’s the front rotors that have the problem.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what the problem is with your car. Just pay attention to what’s happening when — such as whether the vehicle is pulling to one side or the other, how fast you’re going, or whether you’re pressing on the brake pedal.

These bits of information will be very helpful to the auto repair shop in getting your vehicle diagnosed quickly and accurately.

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 is my car leaking?

In Vehicle Fluids by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When moving your car from its parking spot, you may notice that a puddle has formed. A car leaking fluid could indicate a number of issues.

The location and color of the leak can help you and the car repair shop you take your vehicle to determine what is leaking and the culprit.

Types of car fluids

Antifreeze: Antifreeze can be blue, green, red or yellow, depending on the vehicle. The fluid helps prevent the engine block from freezing and cracking, or running too hot.

Brake Fluid: Brake Fluid is clear, yellow or brown. A hydraulic fluid, it applies pressure to your braking components. Don’t drive your vehicle if you notice brake fluid near the wheel well. It may be a sign that your brakes are failing.

A puddle of coolant.

Coolant: Coolant is used to maintain the temperature of your vehicle’s engine. When you see a puddle that’s green, orange or pink, it could indicate that your coolant is leaking. It can be red or yellow for some vehicles. The coolant can begin to leak if a water pump or hose fails. Some electric and hybrid vehicles have another coolant system that runs to the back to keep the electronics cool. You can get a coolant leak near the back of the vehicle, which most people aren’t used to.

Engine Oil: Engine oil can be yellow, brown or black. If it’s leaking, there might be a failure with a gasket or seal. If you have had an oil change recently, bring your vehicle back to the auto repair shop.

Transmission Fluid: Transmission fluid allows the transmission to shift gears, based on pressure demand. It cools the transmission and prevents contaminants from settling, as well. It appears as gold, pink, red or black. If any of these colors are seen near your vehicle, it could mean that a seal or gasket isn’t working.

You might also see clear water, and that’s generally from your air conditioner, where the moisture is condensing and the fluid is draining out from underneath your car. That isn’t something you should be concerned about.

How to address a car leaking

The steps you should take if you notice any of these fluids depends on what’s leaking, the amount, and how the vehicle is operating.

For example, if you notice a small amount of brown fluid and it’s engine oil, you could probably just drive to our Woodbridge auto repair shop. However, if the brake pedal is soft, that is a car you don’t drive.

Whether you can drive a vehicle that has transmission fluid leaking out also depends on the situation. If you have red fluid the size of a half dollar but it doesn’t seem like it wants to shift as you are putting it in reverse, we recommend you tow it.

If you aren’t sure if your vehicle is driveable, contact a mechanic or local auto repair shop. Our Woodbridge mechanics are able to perform a variety of services, including transmission repair and brake repair.

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 doesn’t start? Dashboard lights on?

In Car Safety, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Your vehicle’s dashboard contains a number of tools that share important information with you – are there any problems or is everything running smoothly?

It also houses an array of dashboard lights that have various meanings. These alerts can warn you if something is malfunctioning and the vehicle needs to be checked by a mechanic.

You may not be able to determine what a warning means at a glance, especially if it’s your first time seeing it or it doesn’t appear often.

Below is a guide for what each of the symbols indicate and any steps you should take.

Dashboard Lights

What the different car dashboard lights mean

Check Engine Light: The check engine light turning on can be an indicator of numerous problems. If the vehicle has a flashing check engine light, it shouldn’t be driven and needs to be brought to a mechanic or car repair shop as soon as possible. A check engine light that is remaining solid doesn’t require immediate attention, but we suggest you schedule an appointment for the near future.

Battery Alert Light: Has your battery alert light illuminated? It could be that enough power isn’t making it to the battery. This can happen if you need a new battery or alternator, or there are electrical issues.

Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) Warning Light: The purpose of the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) is to make sure that a vehicle’s brakes don’t lock up during emergencies. The Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) Warning Light can clue you in when the system isn’t working correctly.

Oil Pressure Alert Light: If your oil pressure alert light appears, it’s a good idea to check your oil. (You can read about and see our video on how to check your oil in this blog post. This symbol lets you know that the engine is experiencing a decrease in oil pressure. 

Tire Pressure Monitoring Light: A problem with tire pressure or a tire sensor can cause the tire pressure monitoring light to come on. Check to see where the pressure of each tire is at. (This article and video we produced explains when and how to check the tire pressure.) If you notice that all of them are lower than they should be, it may be the result of the temperature. Having one with less tire pressure could be a sign that you have a flat.

Keep in mind that there are all kinds of vehicles on the road today, which means that there can be even more alerts than the ones listed here. The dashboard lights may also look differently.

If you notice a warning light is on and you don’t recognize it, take a look at the owner’s manual. That should help you narrow it down. If you still aren’t sure what the alert means or if you need to have it addressed right away, reach out to a car repair shop near you. 

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 an alternator on a Ford Fusion

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Ray, an automotive technician at HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire, spent part of his Friday replacing a Ford Fusion’s alternator.

When the car came in, it’s battery light was on. He tested the battery, which was good, but the alternator wasn’t charging to its full potential. 

The alternator is on the back side of the engine and you need to replace it from underneath the vehicle, which makes it more difficult than replacing the alternators of other vehicles.

To reach it, he removed the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt is one belt that goes around all of the engine accessories, including the power steering pump, air compressor and alternator.

He also checked the belt tensioner to make sure its spring pressure was working, in case he needed to replace 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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Oil changes: how are we different than other shops

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

Having your oil changed regularly is one way you can make sure your engine continues working properly.

So what do we different than other shops during an oil change?

In addition to changing the oil and oil filter, we do a courtesy inspection. 

Courtesy inspections during our oil changes

The inspection covers safety items, such as your wiper blades and brakes, and maintenance items — whether something is leaking or if a part is wearing out.

Tires is one thing we check out. Maybe the tires are at 4/32 inches, and they don’t have to be changed right this minute but we give you a heads up that you’re getting close to the end of the service life.

It’s not just the oil change that we do, it’s looking over your vehicle to make sure we can stay on the road.

Tire rotation is another service that we try to include with oil changes. A lot of shops charge an extra $20 or $25 to perform a tire rotation. We are able to include it up to a certain size tire rim.

Our switch to full synthetic oil

When doing an oil change, our automotive technicians use full synthetic oil.

Manufacturers having many different vehicles and various types of engines that require certain oil specifications — regular oil, semi-synthetic oil, or full synthetic oil. 

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire decided to use full synthetic oil in all vehicles rather than carry 30 different types of oil.

The change has allowed us to reduce the price of full synthetic oil for oil changes. Synthetic is also better for vehicles that use regular or semi-synthetic oil. It has better properties that help their engines last longer.

We still use the weight that manufacturers recommend for each vehicle.

If you own a car that requires Mobil 1 oil, such as a BMW or a Mercedes, we do offer it as a full synthetic option.  

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 does an auto repair shop fit in the Prince William Chamber?

In Community Involvement by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Written by ST Billingsley, Owner of HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

I was cleaning out the crap in my office the other day when I came across a couple of items.

One of them was a picture of HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire’s ribbon cutting ceremony that was held with the Prince William Chamber of Commerce on November 1, 2014. 

Photo of Prince William Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony at HomeTowne Auto Repair.

The other was the ribbon that was signed by those who attended.

When an event is going on like that, you don’t necessarily remember those who come out to support you, such as Bennett Whitlock from Whitlock Wealth Management.

Over the years, you get to build relationships with people who participate in the chamber. 

It reminded me about what how being members of the chamber has benefited HomeTowne.

Benefits of being a Prince William Chamber member

The chamber offers networking opportunities through its various meetings, Business After Hours, and events. 

This has allowed HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire to connect with other local businesses, and stay up-to-date on legislation and economic development.

HomeTowne has also been able to share its own news, such as being named “Best Tire Store” in InsideNOVA’s 2018 Best of Prince William Awards and HomeTowne’s decision to cover its employees’ health care, with other members.

Additionally, the chamber gives a voice to the business community when local officials are considering legislation that would impact it.

Over the years, due to business constraints, there have been times where I have not been very active with the chamber or very active with the chamber. 

You have to figure out what works best for you, but don’t expect things to just happen if you sign up to be a chamber member. You have to participate and good things happen to those who do.

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.