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Are you going on vacation?

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are you going on vacation this year?

Here are a few maintenance checks you should make before heading down the highway.

Vacation preparation checklist

Tire tread

Prior to your trip, you want to make sure that the tire tread is thick enough. The tires are the only things that contact the road, which has everything to do with how well you go and stop. If it’s too low, it could cause issues with stopping, and you might skid across the road when it rains.

Tire tread must be at or above 2/32 of an inch. We start recommending new tires when it hits 4/32 of an inch. After that, you start to lose your wet traction.

Tire pressure

Tire pressure that’s too low could cause damage to the overall tire. If you continue to drive on a tire that’s too low, you can damage the inside of the tire — and then a perfectly good tire has to be replaced. It can impact your fuel economy, as well.

A lot of cars today have a tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS). You may also notice symptoms when your tire pressure is low, such as sidewalls that are wider at the bottom.

You can learn about how to check your tire pressure by reading this article we wrote.

Windshield wiper blades

Windshield wiper blades are a wearable component and, as they wear down, they won’t clear as well as they should. If a windshield wiper is torn, it’s not clearing at all. 

If that blade comes off, you could scrape your windshield. Most of the time, people don’t check windshield wiper blades before they’re on the road.

It’s important to make sure that your windshield wipers are up to date, especially if you hit any rain on your drive.

Windshield washer fluid

Windshield washer fluid is going to help you clear your windshield if it’s dirty. Make sure the fluid isn’t low in the weeks leading up to your next adventure.

Fortunately, if you keep a bottle of it in your vehicle, adding windshield washer fluid is the simplest task to do.

Oil level

It’s important to make sure that your oil level isn’t too low. With the newer types of engines, the oil pressure has a lot to do with engine performance. 

Running on too little oil can prevent it from getting to parts. If it’s too low, you can also experience lower fuel economy, rough running and other engine problems. 

Watch for warning lights and, if they come on, stop your engine immediately to prevent further engine damage.

Antifreeze level

The antifreeze is what circulates through the radiator and the engine, keeping it cool. It can prevent your engine from overheating.

Before hitting the road, it’s a good idea to check the antifreeze level and confirm there aren’t any leaks.

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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BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire can be used for off-roading vehicles

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A lot of travelers tend to stick with the main roads. However, many adventures can be found along the paths that see less traffic.

Off-roading is an enjoyable task for some. For others, it’s a necessary part of their jobs or hobbies.

Today, there are quite a few vehicles that are built for off-roading, including trucks and Jeeps. Tires are also produced for this purpose.

If you drive an off-roading vehicle and are looking for a new set of wheels, you may want to consider the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire.

This all season tire goes on light trucks, SUVs and CUVs.

All-Terrain traction

The BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire isn’t just able to weather the elements we see in Northern Virginia on a daily basis. It’s also severe snow certified.

Motorists who choose this option are able to maneuver through soft soil as well as deep snow.

Made up of serrated shoulders, the BFGoodrich Tire offers additional traction when traveling through mud, rocks and snow. Its aggressive, all-terrain traction allows you to travel confidently.

There are also 3-D sipes, which allows it to bite down and provides the tread blocks with more stability. This trait and the optimized tire footprint shape enables the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire to wear more evenly.

This tire is backed by a 50,000 mile warranty, meaning that the average driver will be able to enjoy all of the perks it offers for a few years.

BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire features tough sidewalls

Because this BFGoodrich Tire has tougher sidewalls, sharp rocks are less likely to puncture it.

Thanks to CoreGard Technology, the rubber on the sidewall is able to withstand bruises and other injuries. The rubber is also thicker and its design causes objects to bounce off.

“What I have found best about the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire is when I’m not paying attention while driving down Dale Boulevard,” HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire Owner ST Billingsley said. “You can run over the curb while going 45 miles per hour and maintain control coming back on the road without experiencing any damage to the side wall.”

BFGoodrich KO2

Wheel alignments and other tires we recommend

Having a wheel alignment check performed is recommended when new tires are placed on a vehicle. 

Placing road hazards on tires is also a good idea, especially if you often drive in construction areas. You’re more likely to pick up a nail that may become lodged in a spot that can’t be repaired.

Owned by Michelin, BFGoodrich produces reliable, high performing tires. The BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire is just one we recommend. There’s also the BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport Tire and BFGoodrich Advantage Control Tire. 

The Michelin Defender Tire and the Uniroyal Tiger Paw GTZ All Season 2 Tire are some other trusty choices.

If you’re looking for a different type of tire, reach out to our Woodbridge tire shop. One of our team members can provide some guidance.

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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The importance of wheel alignments

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

You can get the most out of your vehicle’s tires through one check: wheel alignments.

Wheel alignments help prevent premature tire wear. Tires can get out of alignment due to several conditions:

  • Potholes
  • Curbs
  • Suspension wear
    • Ball joints
    • Tie rod ends
    • Lower control arms
    • Control arm bushings
    • Idler arms
    • Pittman arms
  • Gravel roads
  • Speed bumps
  • Small animals
  • Construction zones
  • Driving over ice-covered roads

So, having this service performed on a regular basis helps tires last as long as possible. It also allows them to wear evenly across the tread.

We recommend alignments once a year, when you get new tires, or after suspension work is performed on a vehicle.

Other ways wheel alignments help

Making sure tires last and wear the way they should aren’t the only perks of tire alignments. 

Through this process, our mechanics are able to see if your vehicle’s steering capability is accurate and make sure the safety features are in good working order. 

Alignments can help improve a vehicle’s fuel efficiency, as well.

This article we shared talks more about the benefits of this maintenance option.

Signs that you need a wheel alignment

We mentioned before that alignments are needed every year or when certain repairs are done. But a bad wheel alignment may also be revealed through a few symptoms.

The alignment may need to be adjusted if you notice that the steering wheel appears crooked or uncentered. With the electronics on today’s vehicles, there could be a steering wheel sensor reset needed. So, the alignment could be correct, but if the sensor isn’t done correctly (or at all) it could cause the steering wheel to be crooked.

Feeling as though the car is pulling to one side is another indicator to watch out for. (However, it’s important to note if this is happening regularly or just on certain roads. It could just be how a road or certain section of it is designed.)

Uneven tire wear can also be a sign that you need an alignment. This could be due to the toe and/or camber setting being out of specification. Over a period of time, that can either cause the edges of the tires to wear out or even get a wavy pattern on the tire.

Performing wheel alignments 

Most cars nowadays require a four-wheel alignment. Even though most pickup trucks require a two-wheel alignment, it’s a good idea to make sure all the wheels are checked. This will ensure that something isn’t bent.

Tire alignment on Hyundai Tucson.
Tire alignment being performed on a Hyundai Tucson

A qualified technician will be able to see if the castor, camber and toe are within specifications. They would also be able to evaluate if you need to replace any parts, such as ball joints, lower control arms, tie rod ends, and struts.

Once the alignment is complete, Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) – like emergency braking, park assist, and lane departure warning – may need to be reset, depending on the vehicle.

We explain more details about the alignment process in this article.

Wheel alignments may seem like another thing to add on your checklist, but this service will be worth the time and investment in the long run.

Other tire services we offer

HomeTowne Auto Repair conducts wheel alignments on all makes and models. But alignments aren’t the only tire-related service offered.

We also perform tire repair (when an injury can be fixed) and tire replacement. Our autoshop sells many tires, including Michelin, BFGoodrich and Uniroyal.

Tire rotations are another service available. This is one of the tasks that’s included in the oil change process. Tire mounting and balancing are provided, as well.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near convenient Manassas, Virginia. Our service area includes 20112. 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 a disc brake caliper seizes up

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A disc brake caliper seizing up is one problem that may occur in a brake system.

This issue is caused by various factors, including dirt, lack of maintenance and rust. Rust that builds up over time can prevent the brake caliper piston from resending back into the disc brake caliper.

It will keep holding constant pressure on the brake pad that pushes against the disc brake rotor and will produce heat.

In extreme circumstances, it can actually boil the brake fluid and cause a very low brake pedal. This is one of the reasons why you want to change the brake fluid when automotive technicians are working on brakes.

Disc brake caliper replacement

When an automotive technician is performing a brake check, they can determine whether you need to replace the brake caliper. You don’t need to replace them every time, but may want to consider replacing them if the vehicle has a lot of age or miles on it.

If you’re having a problem with one brake caliper, you can change that one. However, it’s a good idea to replace both on the front or the rear, because if one goes bad — even though the other one is functioning — it’s not a guarantee that it won’t go bad in the near future.

Another thing that the automotive technician will do is lubricate the metal contact points of the disc brake caliper and pads.

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.

ford expedition rear brake suspension

ford expedition front wheel discolored from brake caliper siezed

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Does your vehicle have a water pump problem?

In Vehicle Fluids by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A few signs could mean that there’s a problem with an important vehicle part.

Those who find engine coolant on the ground, notice that their vehicle’s temperature gauge is running higher than normal, or see the check engine light turn on may have water pump issue.

Water pumps help keep engines from overheating by circulating antifreeze through the engine to the radiator.

How to handle water pump problems

It’s recommended that motorists experiencing these issues have their vehicle checked at an automotive service center.

Technicians should do a visual inspection and perform a cooling system pressure test to determine where the leak may be.

“External leaks are easier to find than internal engine leaks, but with today’s cars being so compactly built the technician may need to remove shield and other items to see where the coolant is leaking from,” the General Manager for HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire said.

A Dodge Charger that had a leaking water pump was recently brought to HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire.

“To address the issue, we replaced the timing chain and timing chain guides,” the manager explained. “We also used high quality valve cover gaskets to avoid future oil leaks.”

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 diagntics.

Water PumpWater Pump

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Toys for Tots gifts being accepted at HomeTowne Auto Repair

In Community Involvement by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Want to help a child in need this year?

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire in Woodbridge is collecting donations for the Toys for Tots program.

Run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, the campaign provides gifts to children who are in need.

It was founded by Major William L. Hendricks in 1947.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is accepting toys through December 14.

“We are here from Monday through Friday, 7 to 7, and Saturday, 7 through 5,” Service Advisor Jessica Ulrich said. “Come by and drop off a new, unwrapped toy for donation.”

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When is a vehicle’s tire repairable?

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

A flat tire can sometimes be fixed. Other times, however, the tire needs to be replaced. Whether a tire is repairable can’t be decided at a glance.

So, what makes a tire repairable? How can you tell if you need a new tire?

When inspecting tires, HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire uses guidelines set by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).

Injuries that are located on the inner or outer shoulder can’t be repaired, according to General Manager Rich Campbell.

“The reason why is that’s where the tire curves on the inside, causing it to flex,” he said.

What do we do when a tire repairable?

The Woodbridge-based repair shop doesn’t use older plugs to address the damage. It also isn’t allowed to use patches on those that have been previously repaired with plugs.

Tires that have been punctured in a safe area could still have invisible injuries.

“We have to keep in mind too is that — even if the screw, or nail, or whatever debris … looks to be in the repairable zone — we must remove it from the rim to establish that the inside of the tire [has] not been damaged,” Campbell said.  

Automotive technicians can address some damage using plug patches.

They apply them using rubber cement, which prevents water or dirt from accumulating in the holes.

“This is a[n] acceptable and safe method of repair,” Campbell said. “This keeps the tire usable throughout its remaining life.”

Providing safe and effective repairs is a priority for HomeTowne Auto Repair.

“Please understand that, while we may make you upset because we’re not going to be able to repair your tire, we’re doing that to keep you safe, your loved ones safe, and those that are driving on the roads with you safe,” Campbell said.

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High quality brake rotors, pad repair service for Audis

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When it comes to vehicle parts, quality is key.

It’s important that Audi owners make sure the parts installed on their vehicles will last.

The quality of brake rotors and pads can play a large role in the longevity of the repair for Audis.

Types of repair for Audis

Audi owners should use a service center that is knowledgeable about how to correctly repair their vehicle.

Depending on an Audi’s make, model and year, a computer and special tools are needed to activate the electronic caliper.

With traction control, anti-lock brakes, and electronic brake components, Audis have one of the most high-tech braking systems.

Audi vehicles with hydraulic brake systems still require technical knowledge to make sure that everything works properly.

Making sure that a qualified automotive technician using high quality parts, and up-to-date specifications and procedures is vital to a driver’s safety.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire has the technicians, tools and knowledge to repair Audis and keep their owners on the road.

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Windshield wipers play large role in driving safety

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

A driver’s safety is largely affected by visibility.

It can be dangerous when something impedes their vision, such as a dirty windshield, according to a release.

A vehicle’s windshield wipers help clear debris and moisture, making them important safety features.

Checking, replacing windshield wipers

According to HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire Service Manager Joe Wood, the wipers should be checked regularly.

“Windshield wiper blades should be checked every oil change and for any type of safety inspection,” Wood wrote in an email. “An inspection should consist of checking channels for tears, build up, or ozone cracking (dry cracking).”

A driver’s routine, the climate they reside in, and their driving style can impact how often wipers should be replaced.

However, drivers shouldn’t wait too long before replacing them.

“They wear down like any rubber component whether in heavy use or not,” Wood wrote. “So, it is always a good idea to utilize your washer fluid feature to spray the windshield and actuate your wipers to detect poor performance early, rather than later in a flash rain storm when it is too late.”

Here’s a New Year’s resolution: Take better care of your car

In Cabin Air Filter, Oil Change, Tires & Wheels, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

We’re now in the new year, and it’s time to make the annual commitments to improving your body, spending more time working on something you care about, saving money for vacation, etc.

But what if you made your New Year’s resolution a commitment to taking better care of your car?

It’s a win-win – by taking care of your car, and investing in some basic maintenance items, you’re not only extending the life of your vehicle, but you’re saving money in the long run.

Here are some ways you can take better care of your car this year.

tire pressure is important to your tires lasting a long time and helps save on gas

Tire pressure is important to your tires lasting a long time and helps save on gas

Keep an eye on the tire pressure.

If the air pressure in your tires is too low, it can cause several issues, so it’s important to keep an eye on the pressure level, and keep your tires full per the manufacturer’s guidelines.

If your tire pressure is low, it can cause steering issues, which leads to abnormal tire wear. And over time, that abnormal wear means your tires wear down faster. That also means you’ll be spending money on replacing your tires sooner than you would normally.

“Buy a good tire gauge, because some of the cheap ones are like a dollar, and they may not work that well. You need to spend $5 and $20 for a good tire gauge. Therefore, you know you’ll have the correct pressure in the tire,” said HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire owner ST Billingsley.

Billingsley also recommends keeping a 12-volt air pump in your vehicle at all times. That way, if you find one of your tires is low, you can simply add air wherever you are, instead of trying to find a gas station with a working pump that offers air.

Wash your car.

washing your car underneath helps keep the metal from rust and corrosion

Washing your car underneath helps keep the metal from rust and corrosion

It sounds simple, but keeping your car washed regularly is an important part of upkeep.

“The reason you want to wash your car, especially with all of this road salt through the winter time – even in the summertime though – if you wash your car…you’re helping to remove road grime and road salts, whatever you’re picking up while driving,” said Billingsley.

According to Billingsley, when you’re driving, dirt and mud can fly underneath your car and pack in near the car’s ball joints and bushings. If moisture is left to collect there, it can rust the parts and lead to the need to repair and replace these components more often.

Replace your cabin air filters regularly.

People have started to understand the importance of cabin air filters, and how they provide clearer air when driving in your vehicle, but making sure they’re regularly changed is something you need to commit to as well.

cabin air filters clean up the air coming into the passenger compartment of a car or truck

Cabin air filters clean up the air coming into the passenger compartment of a car or truck

According to Billingsley, the key is to change them at least twice a year, depending on manufacturer’s guidance and the environmental conditions where you live.

“You really need to be changing them twice a year. And a good time to change it is right after pollen season, because it’s going to be clogged with pollen, and right before wintertime – right before Thanksgiving,” said Billingsley.

While no one’s perfect, if you commit to making even some of these changes this year, you’ll be on your way to better maintenance and upkeep of your vehicle, which will save you in the long run.