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New Michelin tires that are dependable in winter

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Winter can bring freezing rain, snow and ice.

Your vehicle needs a set of tires that are able to handle any inclement weather that you come across.

New Michelin tires have become available during the past few years. They include:

  • Michelin Defender 2 Tire
  • Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 Tire
  • BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tire
  • Uniroyal Power Paw A/S Tire

These options are designed for different vehicles and the traits they offer vary. But they are all tires you can rely on year-round, including wintertime.

We go into more detail about each tire below.

New Michelin tires

Michelin Defender 2 Tire

Michelin Defender 2 Tire.
Michelin Defender 2 Tire

A long-lasting tire is available for passenger cars and crossovers: the Michelin Defender 2 Tire.

This is an upgraded version of the Michelin Defender Tire, which has grown in popularity.

Backed by an 80,000 mile warranty, the Michelin Defender 2 Tire can provide average drivers with several years of worry-free travels.

The all-season tire’s long lifespan isn’t the only perk. It also has a stopping distance that bypasses those on other tires. 

Plus, it provides a comfortable and quiet ride for users, due to its even wear capabilities.

Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 Tire

When it comes with winter weather, the Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 Tire has your back. 

An all season tire, it provides sports cars with traction in dry, wet and snowy conditions. 

Full-depth sipes that interlock offer biting edges, so maintaining grip while it’s raining or snowing isn’t a problem.

Helio+ technology, which provides advanced rubber, kicks in during freezing weather. Meanwhile, Extreme Silica+ tread compound comes in handy when the roads are slippery.

The Michelin Pilot Sport All Season 4 Tire also lasts. This can be attributed to Dynamic Response Technology.

BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tire

BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tire.
BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tire

The BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tire is made for larger vehicles – SUVs, CUVs and light trucks.

Rated for severe snow, it comes with better snow traction than other tires. Full-depth 3D sipes enhance the traction and power.

This all season tire was designed with adventure in mind. Thanks to a serrated shoulder, it’s able to journey across soft soil. With its chipping and tearing resistance, driving on gravel roads is also possible.

Offering a 60,000 mile warranty, the BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A Tire is there to be your travel companion for many activities.

And, because of the optimized footprint design, it will provide you a comfortable and quiet ride along the way. 

Uniroyal Power Paw A/S Tire

Uniroyal Power Paw Tire.
Uniroyal Power Paw Tire

For everyday drivers, the Uniroyal Power Paw A/S Tire may be the right choice. 

The ultra high-performance tire is designed for SUVs and CUVs.

It offers a long lifespan, thanks to Tru-Last Technology. This feature also helps control stress on the tire, enabling the tread to wear evenly.

Great for every season, the Uniroyal Tiger Paw comes with a 45,000 mile warranty.

The tires highlighted in this article are just a few produced by Michelin Tire, BFGoodrich Tire and Uniroyal Tire. 

If you’d like to learn more information about these tires or others available, reach out to a tire shop you can trust. One of our team members would be happy to answer any questions you have.

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.

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Tire pressure and why it matters

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Are any of your car’s tires looking lower than normal? You may have a flat tire, or it could have something to do with the outside temperature.

As winter approaches, it’s important to keep an eye on your vehicle’s tire pressure. 

This is especially true if you are planning to travel long distances for the holiday season or winter vacations.

Tire pressure is one of the items our automotive technicians check when performing a digital vehicle inspection.

Why does tire pressure decrease?

When outside temperatures decrease, the pounds per square inch (PSI) does too. So, all four tires appearing a bit deflated is probably related to the drastic weather change.

If one tire seems lower than the rest, you may have a tire puncture. When performing tire repairs, we follow guidelines from the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association. 

Keep in mind that not all tire injuries are repairable. Depending on the location and angle, the tire might need to be replaced. We can’t patch punctures on the sidewall or inner or outer shoulder. 

Continuing to drive on a flat tire can lead to more tire damage.

Signs of low tire pressure

One way you can tell if you have low tire pressure is if the sidewalls are wider at the bottom. 

Handling problems is another indicator. For example, if the pressure is really low, the sidewall could roll more as a vehicle is turning. The braking may be impacted, as well.

You might also notice more tire wear if there isn’t enough air.

A lot of cars today have a tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS). You should check your tires if the TPMS light (which is the symbol with an exclamation mark) turns on.

Bad TPMS sensor shown on scanner.
Bad TPMS sensor

Low tire pressure and flat tires can trigger this warning light. It can also appear if a TPMS sensor has a bad circuit board or battery.

If any of your car’s tires appear low or if they look OK and the TPMS light is on, have an automotive expert or autoshop look into the issue. 

The correct amount of air in tires

You may be wondering why the amount of air in a tire matters. Well, it can play a role in the tire’s lifespan.

Tire pressure guidelines for Pilot Sport All-Season 4 Tire.
Tire pressure guidelines on tire sidewall

There shouldn’t be too much or not enough air in a tire. Too little air can cause the outer edges to experience premature wear. Excessive air can eventually result in damage to the tire’s center.

The right amount of pressure varies among vehicles. This information can be found on the tire sidewall or the door jam on the driver’s side. In general, it can range from 32 to 36 PSI.

Toyota Camry tire information placard.
Tire information placard on Toyota Camry

Tire pressure should be inspected regularly. We recommend getting your own tire pressure gauge. After you check the air in a tire, remember to replace the valve stem cap. 

If you aren’t sure how to check your tire pressure or you need a refresher, take a look at our article and video.

Sometimes, drivers will add Nitrogen to their tires. This enables the tire pressure to remain more consistent. Due to the temperature change in fall, the pressure should be adjusted.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near Dumfries, 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 invests in thermal imager

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

It’s becoming faster and easier for our technicians to locate leaks and address other car problems.  

HomeTowne Auto Repair recently invested in a Diagnostic Thermal Imager.

We can use this new device as we look into a wide range of concerns – from something as simple as a tire repair to catalytic converter problems.

On the screen, heat appears in yellow and the temperature of a targeted area is displayed. Friction as well as increases and decreases in pressure are also shown. 

Screenshots of the thermal image may be taken and saved. Then, we can share them with customers and members of our team.

How we use the Diagnostic Thermal Imager

Tire repair

Sometimes, it can be difficult to find the leak on a flat tire. Using this technology, we are able to pick out the tire puncture. 

An object is going to be a different temperature – and, therefore, a different color – than the tire. For example, a metal nail has been hitting the ground repeatedly and will probably be very hot.

Coolant system

The device comes in handy when diagnosing coolant system problems, as well. On an overheating car, our automotive technicians can see where the coolant is moving to. If it isn’t getting past the thermostat, it could mean that the thermostat isn’t opening or closing. 

This also proves true with heating problems. A lack of heat may be caused by a blockage in the radiator. We are able to check out the coolant temperature as it goes in and out.

Live and thermal images of thermostat operations.

Exhaust system

Exhaust system problems can be solved, too.

We have been able to use the technology to look at the inlet and outlet temperature. This allowed us to confirm that a vehicle’s catalytic converter was working correctly, and that the converter on another car needed to be replaced.

Measuring inlet and outlet temperature of exhaust system using the Diagnostic Thermal Imager.
Measuring inlet and outlet temperature of an exhaust system

Electrical problems

Finding the reason why a car is experiencing electrical issues is another way this device helps us.

With all of the electronics on vehicles today, there could be a relay or a circuit turning on when it’s not supposed to. The thermal imager allows our technicians to see what components are on, since the parts heat up when electricity is running through them.

These are just a few concerns that we are able to address with this tool. There are many other types of repair it can be used for, including engine misfires, malfunctioning alternators, and brake problems.

Other ways this device helps us

This new technology we invested in allows us to better serve our customers.

However, it doesn’t just assist with finding problems. The device improves quality control by providing us with clear before and after pictures to confirm the repairs.

We also have access to photos that illustrate when a component is working correctly or going bad.

The thermal imager helps increase efficiency, too. 

Many problems can’t be seen just looking at a part – they often require additional tests that take time. Our new tool gives us the ability to look below the surface and narrow down our search.

With this device, technicians are able use the temperature changes to determine the root cause of problems logically.

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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Steering problem, hard brake pedal on a Chevy

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Multiple car problems can stem from the same issue.

A Chevy Tahoe was towed to our auto repair shop because it suddenly became very hard to steer and brake.

The steering problem and hard brake pedal were the results of a bad power steering pump.

Through diagnostic testing, our technician determined that – even though the pump was somewhat new – it wasn’t pushing power steering fluid out. 

The pulley is missing from the power steering pump on a Chevy Tahoe.

To function properly, the power steering system needs a power steering pump to supply pressure to the rack and pinion. This makes it easy to turn the wheel.

On some systems, the vacuum booster provides a vehicle with power brakes. This Tahoe, however, uses a hydroboost system. The power steering pump supplies pressure to the hydroboost system, which acts like a brake booster. 

Because the intermediate steering shaft was broken, the power steering pump wasn’t working and the brake pedal was difficult to push.

A pulley from a Chevy Tahoe with the broken steering shaft.
A pulley from a Chevy Tahoe with the broken steering shaft

A malfunctioning brake booster and a bad power steering pump aren’t the only causes behind a hard brake pedal. The problem can also occur if there is a crack in the vacuum hose or electronic problems with the electro hydraulic brake booster.

Other steering problem symptoms

The steering shaft connects the steering column with the rack and pinion or steering gear box. Sometimes it can become rusted and get stuck.

Another steering problem you might experience is a stiff steering wheel, which may be a sign that power steering fluid is leaking from the rack and pinion.

A steering wheel could feel loose, as well. Damaged pitman arms and a bad wheel alignment are some potential culprits behind a loose steering wheel. 

There are some electric power steering units that will bind up if you turn them too fast. We have found that the power steering pumps on certain vehicles – like Dodge Durangos and Dodge Chargers – have a small amount of fluid. They don’t have a labyrinth of lines, like most power steering systems, and will bind up for a split second when they are under a lot of stress.

You should also be watchful of your vehicle pulling to one side. This could be an indicator of a bad wheel alignment or mean that parts, such as lower control arms, need to be replaced.

It’s a good idea to have a tire alignment conducted each year, after you get new tires, and following any suspension work.

Taking care of your power steering system

To help your car’s power steering system last as long as possible, we recommend power steering fluid exchanges.

The mileage-based service takes care of several parts, such as the rack and pinion and power steering pump. Depending on the type of vehicle you drive and the manufacturer’s recommendation, power steering flushes should be performed every 30,000 miles.

Your car may need a power steering fluid exchange if the fluid is dark and you notice choppy steering. Whining or grinding noises are other possible indicators. 

Aside from changing out the power steering fluid on a regular basis, you should make sure that steering components are replaced when needed. These parts wear out or break from daily use and impacts. Putting off steering system repairs for too long can impact your safety.

It also doesn’t hurt to give your car a chance to warm up during the winter. Fluid tends to move through the system more easily when the fluid is warmer.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near Dale City, 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 supporting Dale City Little League

In Community Involvement by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Adults and children took to the ball fields last week.

HomeTowne Auto Repair and Tire is supporting the Dale City Little League (DCCL) this year. We are a platinum level sponsor of the Supervisor John D. Jenkins Field, which is one of the Birchdale Fields in Dale City.

The season kicked off with an Opening Day ceremony and some games on Friday evening. Some of our staff members handed out goody bags.

HomeTowne Auto Repair staff member next to “Thank You” bags that were handed out at the Dale City Little League’s opening day.

DCCL is a non-profit run by volunteers. It seeks to teach participants how to play baseball while also building character and encouraging teamwork.

“We appreciate the opportunity to assist local youth programs, like the Dale City Little League,” Marketing Manager Erin Jones explained. “Through these activities, kids can have fun and strengthen their skills.” 

Sponsoring the little league is one way that our Woodbridge auto repair shop is giving back to the community. 

HomeTowne Auto Repair staff member standing next to HomeTowne banner at Birchdale Fields in Dale City.

HomeTowne Auto Repair also supports other Prince William County non-profits, including the Americans in Wartime Museum and The Arc of Greater Prince William. To learn more, check out this blog post we shared.

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.

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BFGoodrich g-force comp 2 A/S Plus Tire: All-season performance

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

The road is filled with compact and sports cars, and vehicles that are geared toward performance.

Many of these drivers are seeking a performance tire they can trust beyond the summer months. They want a tire that can be used year-round.

The BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S Plus Tire delivers this capability. We recommend the all season tire for those interested in a product that does well when the weather is pleasant, the smell of rain is in the air, or there’s snow falling.

Being able to handle different kinds of road conditions is just one of its several perks.

BFGoodrich g-force comp 2 A/S Plus Tire lifespan

The benefits that this BFGoodrich Tire offers are possible because of a few design characteristics. Its g-force tread is the first one we’ll talk about.

An Advanced Mold Design and a Performance Tread Profile help prevent the tires from wearing unevenly.

These two traits contribute to this BFGoodrich tire’s lifespan, which can extend up to 45,000 miles. The average driver could go a few years before they need to replace it.

With its Performance Tread Profile, this tire offers users great traction when going around corners. That comes in handy when you’re driving on curvy roads.

The BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S Plus Tire.
BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S Plus Tire

Traction across different weather conditions

Ultigrip Technology is another feature that makes up this tire option.

The BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S Plus Tire is meant to provide better braking and control in wet conditions and grip in the snow than the BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S.

Thanks to an All-Season Compound, it’s able to grip the roads whether there’s sunshine or rain in the forecast. This compound consists of silica and is able to flex when the temperatures drop.

The tire’s performance on dry roads is supported by a squared-off shoulder. It’s also made up of V-shaped grooves, which help drivers avoid hydroplaning.

Directional Tread Design keeps you moving in various conditions. Whether you’re facing a pop up shower or winter weather is moving in, you can be assured that you will be on your way.

This BFGoodrich option is one of the best types of tires for winter in Northern Virginia.

BFGoodrich g-force comp 2 A/S Plus Tire offers control

This all season BFGoodrich Tire comes with a Performance Racing Core, as well.

It includes an Equal TEnsion Containment (ETEC) System, which aims to improve the traction provided at the speed someone is driving. This technology helps the contact patch perform at its best. 

A Dynamic Suspension System helps enhance control and provide a comfortable ride. Meanwhile, g-Control Sidewall Inserts allows the turning response to be instant.

So, you will be able to manage your travels while also enjoying them.

Other BFGoodrich Tire choices

The BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S Plus Tire has a lot of good things going for it. But it may not be the right tire for every vehicle.

BFGoodrich Tire produces a range of reliable products. Another all season option that we recommend is the BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport Tire. The BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 Tire is a solid choice, as well.

BFGoodrich is owned by Michelin Tire, so it might be worth your while looking into tires made by Michelin or Uniroyal.

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.

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Drive belts: When to change them and problems to look for

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

One of the important things to maintain on your vehicle are the drive belts, which include v-belts, timing belts, and serpentine belts.

Drive belts surround a lot of engine parts, like water pumps, alternators and crankshafts. Depending on the vehicle, you may also see them around power steering pumps and ac compressors.

These belts ensure that engine components are operating correctly.

Types of drive belts

Drive belts and serpentine belts are two names that are often used interchangeably. Certain vehicles have multiple serpentine belts.

If you’re trying to replace the belts yourself, a lot of the time there will be a sticker under the hood of some cars and trucks that will show the serpentine belt routing. 

One vehicle we had in the shop had a regular serpentine belt and dual drive belt. In this case, you have your regular serpentine belt with the “v” grooves on one side and flat on the other. The dual drive, or serpentine, belts have “v” grooves on both sides and the front and back of the belt go around pulleys to drive different components of the car.

Then, there are timing belts, which help the crankshaft and camshaft remain in correct timing. They are located around the pulleys.

Another type of drive belt is the v belt. V belts are typically used on older vehicles. During this time, you would have anywhere between two and five v belts on any one automobile, compared to a newer car that may only use one or two serpentine belts.  

A v belt.

Stretch belts are the last ones we will talk about. Many Chevrolet SUVs and trucks use what’s called a stretch belt. There’s a special tool that you use to put it on. There’s no real adjustment anymore, it actually stretches onto the pulley and as it gets older you just change it.

When to change the serpentine belt

Serpentine belts can go as long as 100,000 miles before a new one needs to be installed. The belt replacement frequency depends on several factors – like what the car is used for and where it’s driven, how the belt is made, and recommendations from the vehicle’s manufacturer.

If you go to the beach often or drive through saltwater, you may be changing the belt more often. For example, the serpentine belts might only last about 30,000 miles for drivers who reside in Nags Head.

If you have reached 100,000 miles and are changing the belt, it may be a good idea to replace the serpentine belt tensioner as well. Even though the old tensioner may hold the belt on, it might not be holding it with enough force.

Sometimes, it makes sense to put on a new belt if nearby parts are already being replaced. A lot of the time, our Woodbridge mechanics will do this if we are installing a new water pump.

Belt wearing problems

The belt can become worn due to mileage, but you also need to make sure things are in order. This includes the tensioner, tensioner and idler pulleys, and other pulleys that may be on the alternator, power steering and air conditioning. If the bearings are starting to wear on the idler pulleys, it can get out of alignment and cause more wear on the other side of the belt. So, sometimes it actually warrants replacing some of the pulleys along with the serpentine belt.

An idler pulley and belt tensioner.

As part of our digital vehicle inspection, we check the condition of the belts, which can become worn or develop cracks overtime. There is a specification, depending on the belt and manufacturer, about the number of cracks you can have within an inch before needing a new one. We’ve also seen the “v” grooves of serpentine belts that ride in the grooves of the pulley become worn and turn more into “u” grooves or wear into the structure of the belt.

Another reason you may also need to replace the belt is if you’ve had an engine coolant or engine oil leak. That fluid can get onto the belt and ruin it or cause it to slip.

Whatever the reason why your drive belt needs to be changed, it’s important that whoever does the work knows what they’re doing and uses high quality parts. If they don’t, you may need to have the work performed again or pay a more expensive bill later on.

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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Michelin X-Ice Snow Tire: A reliable winter tire

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Winter weather in Virginia can vary each year. Sometimes, we will see less than an inch. At other times, it covers our yards and roads like a large blanket.

Certain parts of the state and country see more snow, especially higher elevations. If you live in one of these areas, you may want to consider purchasing a set of winter tires.

Winter tires should be installed once temperatures remain under 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Michelin X-Ice Snow Tire is an option that can handle snowy and icy conditions with confidence. 

How the Michelin X-Ice Snow Tire tackles deep snow

Motorists don’t need to worry when facing deep snow – the Michelin X-Ice Snow Tire is up for the job.

Traction in significant winter weather is possible, thanks to the v-shaped tread and wider grooves. These two features are also used to push away water, snow and slush.

There are also notched sipes that contribute to this Michelin tire’s gripping capabilities.

FLEX-Ice 2.0 compound is another trait that has led to success on ice and snow. The material helps the tire stay flexible as the temperatures drop. Not only does that impact the lifespan, it also increases the rolling resistance.

Mileage and safety

Drivers who choose the Michelin X-Ice Snow Tire don’t have to give up on tires that can travel a fair distance before being replaced.

It can go as long as 40,000 miles. When compared to the average of other tires, it could last up to one winter longer.

Plus, safety is provided, even miles down the road. 

The winter tire is able to stay connected with the road when drivers speed up, step on the brake and go around corners. This is because of the Flex-Ice 2.0 compound, Evergrip Technology and interconnected sipes.

Due to improved tread blocks and a tread design based on severe winter weather, hydroplaning is less likely to occur. In fact, the tire’s ability to handle hydroplaning is better than those that came before it.

The FLEX-Ice 2.0 compound and Michelin EverWinterGrip technology provide great braking on icy roads, even when the winter tire has seen some wear. Additionally, the stopping distance is shorter on snow, which can be attributed to two kinds of 3D sipes.

Other benefits of the Michelin X-Ice Snow Tire

Good mileage, snow traction, and characteristics that prevent hydroplaning are nice perks. However, they aren’t the only benefits of the Michelin X-Ice Snow Tire.

Drivers can also enjoy a ride that’s quiet, comfortable, and uses less fuel.

This tire isn’t only designed for larger, four-wheel drive vehicles. More than 120 sizes are available.

It’s really good for BMWs and Mercedes, allowing drivers to continue using their performance car during colder months. Some people will get rims for the wintertime and set aside their nicer ones until spring arrives.

Winter and all season tires

The Michelin X-Ice Snow Tire is one of several winter tires that Michelin produces. 

Depending on where you live, however, all season tires may be the right choice for you. There are plenty of options available, if that’s the case.

A couple of all season tires we recommend include the Michelin CrossClimate 2 Tire and the Defender 2 Tire, which is replacing the Defender Tire.

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 transfer case fluid exchanges

In Vehicle Fluids, Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Cars today require various maintenance items once they hit a certain mileage. This can range from oil changes to flushes and the replacement of parts. 

Transfer case fluid exchanges are one of the services that tend to be overlooked. 

They aren’t needed on all cars, only those that have a transfer case. You normally see transfer cases on four-wheel drive vehicles.

Why transfer case fluid exchanges are needed

Transfer case fluid acts as a lubricant for gears, bearings and other parts. Overtime, this fluid can break down – due to heat, contaminants and moisture – and should be replaced. 

Transfer case fluid exchanges offer multiple benefits. They increase the longevity of the transfer case, which links the transmission and front axle. This type of maintenance also ensures that the component continues operating the way it should.

A transfer case that was removed from a Dodge Charger.
Transfer case from a Dodge Charger

If motorists choose not to have the flush performed or put it off too long, they could face costly repairs down the road. Worn out transfer case fluid can cause corrosion to build up and the gears to experience wear.

When to get a transfer case fluid flush

With other mileage-based services, like brake fluid exchanges and power steering fluid exchanges, you can check the fluid and see if it’s dark. This isn’t the case with transfer case fluid exchanges.

There is no way to tell if the transfer case fluid needs to be changed. So, we normally go based on mileage.

How often your vehicle needs a transfer case fluid exchange depends on the type of car you have, its purpose, and what the manufacturer suggests. This information should be found in your owner’s manual.

We recommend conducting the service every 30,000 miles. Some makes and models can go longer without a transfer case fluid exchange. A lot of manufacturers recommend them at 100,000 or 120,000 miles. Meanwhile, trucks that are used for towing may need them more often.

There aren’t any signs that indicate this maintenance is needed. Once the transfer case starts making noise, it means that something must be replaced or repaired. In addition to conducting transfer case fluid flushes, we are able to replace transfer cases.

How we perform this service

Before beginning a transfer case fluid exchange, we make sure there aren’t any leaks. When having work done on your vehicle – whether it’s transfer case maintenance or just a state inspection – it’s also a good idea to make sure the seals are good.

After confirming there aren’t any problems, we remove the old transfer case fluid and any impurities that have accumulated using our driveline service center machine. 

Then, our Woodbridge mechanics add BG Syncro Shift II into the system. This product is a full synthetic gear lubricant that can be used for transfer cases, manual transmissions and trans-axles. It protects components from wearing out and offers great shear resistance. 

The right type of fluid must be used when this service is being performed. Not all vehicles have the same needs.

For example, we used the syncro shift on the rear differential of a Highlander, because that’s what it called for. Then we used gear oil for the transfer case. Other vehicles require the exact opposite.

So, it’s important to be careful and have the work completed by an expert.

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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Virginia state inspection: Windows, windshields and mirrors

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

Safety is the main concern when a Virginia state inspection is being performed. 

Issues can occasionally arise for various reasons – whether it’s age, impact, or lack of maintenance. Inspectors are there to make sure that all parts of a vehicle check out OK.

Windows, windshields and mirrors are some of the areas that are looked over during the Virginia safety inspection, which must be conducted each year. 

We also make sure there aren’t any problems with the headlights or brakes.

Windows and the Virginia state inspection

Car windows are the first topic we’ll talk about. It’s important that a driver’s sight isn’t obscured when they are looking out.

This means, the windows aren’t allowed to be broken, or have cracks or scratches. Additionally, the driver’s view can’t be warped or cloudy.

The driver side window needs to roll down, as well. Why? Well, if a vehicle’s blinker isn’t working the way it should, the driver will be able to let others on the road know they are merging or switching lanes, by opening the window and using hand gestures.

Cracks in the windshield

Is there a crack in your windshield? Did a rock or some sort of debris come up from the road and leave a mark? These are some items that inspectors keep an eye out for.

Windshield with cracks that extend across it or star cracks bigger than 1 and a half inches around will fail state inspection.

A star crack on the windshield of a Volkswagen.

Having cracks develop in a windshield can happen to anyone, especially for those driving through construction areas or on the highway. In fact, I just acquired my second star crack when driving on I-95 a few weeks ago.

If any appear on your windshield, contact your insurance company. They may provide windshield coverage and fix it for free or cover some of the costs.

Cracks aren’t the only problem that may hinder a person’s ability to see. So can tinting and letters. The tint shouldn’t go under the AS-1, be cloudy, or bubble up on the rear windshield. 

Any letters, numbers or images on a windshield aren’t allowed to be more than 3 inches from the top.

There are also windshield related components that inspectors look into, like making sure the defroster is functioning and that the windshield wipers are in one piece.

Secure mirror mountings

Visibility is a concern in regards to car mirrors, as well. Drivers are expected to have a full view of the 200 feet behind themselves. This view can’t be broken up by cracks. The mirrors on trucks should go halfway from the edge of the body.

Making sure motorists can see out the mirrors isn’t the only focus of our state inspectors. They also confirm that the mounting is secure. Mirrors must not move or be held on through various means. For example, duct tape shouldn’t be holding the side view mirror or mirror mounting together.

Duct tape on a side view mirror.

In this article we have covered some problems that can prevent a car from passing the Virginia safety inspection. If you notice any of these issues with your vehicle, we recommend bringing it to a local auto repair shop or a mechanic near you.

Not only will addressing these issues now eliminate the headache of getting them fixed at state inspection time, it also improves your safety on the road.

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.