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Why your car AC is important during the winter

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

It’s cold outside. So, why should I worry if my car’s air conditioning works or not? 

Well, there’s actually a very good reason. 

During the winter, obviously we use our defroster a lot – especially in the morning – to clear the windshield and side windows. Normally, you put it on full blast as you’re warming up the car. 

But on today’s vehicles, when you turn it to the defrost setting, the air conditioning does come on to help dehumidify the air before it goes across the heater core.

It’s kind of like your house – when you have the air conditioning running during the summer, condensation develops as the moisture is being pulled out of the air. It’s the same concept when you have your car AC on for the defroster. If you’re putting dry, warm air on the windshield – rather than moist, warm air – it helps keep the windows clear.

The moisture that is removed from the air goes out the drain tube through the evaporator.

Even though we’re talking about this in the winter time, it also comes into effect during the rest of the year when it’s raining or the temperature drops a bit. A car’s air conditioning keeps the windshield clear of the fog compared to clearing the windshield of ice and snow.

Your car AC system helps you drive safer by enabling you to see.

Common problems that can affect the air conditioning for the defroster include being low on freon and the AC compressor not working. There may also be a control problem from an air conditioning module, AC switch or defrost button. 

If you’re having an issue with the mode selector for the vent controls, it could have to do with a switch or blendor motor, which controls where the air goes – the windshield, vents or the floor.

Here are five possible reasons why the air conditioning isn’t working.

Right now is a perfect time to check to make sure everything is working. If not, have it checked out at your local, independent repair shop.

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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What causes an engine to misfire?

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

It’s important to note when your car is doing something abnormal.

They can indicate an underlying issue.

The same is true for misfires.

What is a misfire?

A misfire is when the air in the fuel isn’t ignited correctly.

What are signs that an engine is misfiring?

The check engine light turning on is one sign of a misfire. You might also notice a bad shuddering.

Other indicators include a vehicle running rough or stalling.

What causes an engine to misfire?

Components that have gone bad, including ignition coils and spark plugs, may result in an engine to misfire. It could also be caused by too much or too little air or fuel.

Timing can play a role, as well. If the timing isn’t in line, then the camshaft sensor and crankshaft sensor aren’t able to communicate.

What happens if you ignore a misfire?

When you have a misfire and you’re getting raw fuel or rich conditions in the exhaust, it wears down the metals in the catalytic converter  – a very expensive part.

If misfires aren’t addressed, the catalytic converter gets really warm and starts melting from the inside out.

If you believe your car’s engine is misfiring, have it checked out by a mechanic or auto repair shop. The problem could start happening more frequently or worsen if you don’t.

Make sure to provide as much information as possible, including the symptoms you noticed and when.

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 you should get your wheel alignment checked once a year

In Vehicle Alignment by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

It’s important to have your car’s alignment checked once a year or when new tires are installed. This service can prevent tires from wearing prematurely.

While performing a wheel alignment on a Honda CR-V, we noticed that one of its tires needed to be replaced. 

Not only was the tire worn down to its tread wear indicator, it was going down to the secondary rubber. On the inside, the tire’s steel belts were showing.

wheel alignment
worn tire

In this particular case, the problem had to do with the camber adjustment being too negative which allowed for accelerated inner tire wear.

Camber, caster and toe are the main specifications our technicians check when conducting a wheel alignment.

wheel alignment
Honda Wheel Alignment

Worn or bent suspension components and a vehicle being overloaded consistently cause this problem, as well.

Sometimes, items and their weight could impact an alignment.

If you’re consistently driving around with 1,000 newspapers in the back, for example, you may want to have the alignment done with the newspapers in the car.

A lot of cars now have specifics on how much weight is in the car, if the fuel tank is full. and the ride height, because the engineers try to compensate for this problem. However, they can’t make up for extreme conditions.

On most Hondas, you do perform a four-wheel alignment because you can adjust the rear toe from the factory settings.

When it comes to worn suspension components – like rear upper control arms on Honda CRVs and elements – the bushings go bad and the top of the tire looks like it’s leaning toward the inside of the car. 

Replacing them with upgraded upper control arms – which comes with adjustments – you can then adjust the rear camber.

The strut assemblies can wear down over time and cause problems, as well.

Hitting potholes, curbs and objects in the road can bend control arms or struts and steering knuckles, which can also cause a tire wire/wheel alignment problem.

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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Did your check engine light turn on? Here’s what you need to know.

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

The check engine light turning is one problem that can be worrisome for drivers. 

When this indicator refuses to go off when someone is starting their car, or when it appears as they’re heading down the highway, it tends to come with the “Uh-oh,” reaction.

So, what should you do when a check engine light turns on?

If the symbol is flashing, you need to have it looked at right away. 

A flashing check engine light means that there’s a problem with the engine. Choosing to wait it out could damage the catalytic converter.

If the indicator is solid, it doesn’t need immediate attention. However, it’s important to have a mechanic check it out as soon as possible.

Can you drive with a check engine light on?

You shouldn’t drive if the light is flashing.

It’s OK to keep driving if it is solid, but it’s a good idea to have it checked out that same day. 

We recommend this because if it’s dangerous you’ll want to have it fixed immediately. Secondly, if you put it off too long you can get several more codes that could be related to the first one. You will likely spend more money on diagnostic testing so the auto repair shop can sort it all out.

What can cause a check engine light to come on?

There are many reasons why the light turns on, some are simple while others are more complex.

It could be anything from low oil to issues with a component, such as the catalytic converter or the coolant system.

Others causes include problems with the ignition system, fuel injection system, evaporative system – which has to do with your gas tank and gas cap – and sensors that are on various parts of the engine.

There are many reasons why the check engine light turns on.

What do we do during check engine light diagnostic testing?

Check engine light diagnostic testing starts with performing a basic check, which helps us rule out any simple problems.

Our technicians then do a preliminary code scan, which gives us a starting point, and start testing related parts.

We follow the testing procedures the manufacturers recommend and look for any Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) and updates.

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 is HomeTowne Auto Repair different from other businesses?

In Community Involvement by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Northern Virginia has quite a few auto repair shops.

So, what makes HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire different from the rest?

We are a locally owned and operated business that helps cover the health care of our employees.

“That way, everyone has a chance to be covered, so it’s not actually coming out of their paycheck,” Co-Owner ST Billingsley explained.

Training is an important focus for us. We want to stay up-to-date on the latest technology, so we can better serve our customers.

Building long-lasting relationships is very important to our business. Some of our customers have been coming to us for many years now, and even their children are starting to drive and have us work on their vehicles.

“We want to do a great job, and we want people to be able to trust us and rely on us to keep their families safe on the road,” Billingsley added.

HomeTowne Auto Repair is a supporter of women entering the automotive industry. Instructors have even reached out asking us to give students a chance.

“Every woman that we’ve had come in here trying to get a foothold in this business have actually gone on to bigger parts of their career, whether they ended up going back to school or actually going to a different part of the industry,” Billingsley said.

Our support of the community is another way we stand out.

We give back by helping fund What’s Up Prince William (WUPW.news), a news site that provides free coverage and event promotion for non-profits.

Each year, WUPW.news does tens of thousands of dollars worth of video and content production for as many as 20 organizations.

“It really helps keep the community connected but also is a way for the non-profits to actually get the word [out] about all the good that they’re doing in the community,” Billingsley 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. 

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My car won’t start. What’s wrong?

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

It is very inconvenient when your car won’t start, especially if you have somewhere to be.

There are many possible culprits behind this issue.

The problem could be as simple as a car battery, alternator or starter going bad. It could also be a more complex issue.

Dead Battery 

If you hear a clicking sound or the check engine light turns on, the battery might need replacing.

Batteries can go bad for a number of reasons. Leaving your lights on is one that many of us are familiar with. 

There could also be a problem with the charging system or corrosion on the battery terminals. Electronics in your vehicle, such as clocks and computers, can eventually cause your battery to die.

Old and weak car batteries are more likely to go bad when it’s extremely hot or cold outside.

Starter going bad

A vehicle may not turn over if it has a bad starter, which is responsible for starting the engine.

It has a gear that shoots out and quickly spins, starting the flywheel.

A clicking sound can be a sign that you need a new starter. However, a car with a bad starter won’t easily start even when a jumper box or jumper cables are used. Here are some other signs that your starter is going bad.

A starter will, at times, stop working without warning.

If you turn you over a few times, you may be able to hit it right and get your car started. 

However, if this tactic doesn’t work you probably need to have it towed to a repair shop.

Alternator problem

The alternator is responsible for generating electricity, which is used for electronics or to recharge the battery.

An alternator going bad is another reason why a car won’t start.

This can be indicated by the battery light turning on or flickering. The alternator may be struggling to charge the battery, which can make it difficult to start a vehicle.

In addition to the alternator going bad, the problem may have to do with brushes or diodes. A serpentine belt could also have gotten caught around the alternator.

Other issues

Issues with a vehicle refusing to start could be more complicated and lie with a sensor or control system not functioning.

The transmission sensor, for example, could be the reason.

There may also be a problem with the fuel system, such as a bad fuel pump or the fuel filter becoming clogged.

Whatever the reason behind your car not starting, you should bring it to a mechanic or auto repair shop as soon as possible. 

Even if you’re able to get it started again, you might not be as lucky next time.

Also, the sooner you can bring it to a repair shop, the sooner they can pinpoint the issue and have you back on the road again.

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

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HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire offering financing option

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire in Woodbridge, Virginia is now offering financing.

We understand that times are tight, and you may need some tires or work done on your vehicle but you don’t have the cash right now.

Customers can receive up to six months of interest-free financing on any purchases that exceed $200.

We don’t push to financing, because there is a minimum monthly payment that needs to be made.

If you are interested, make sure you pay all of it off before the six months. Otherwise, you will be charged with all the interest.

Of course, with those financing options, the interest rates can be higher than normal. But if that helps you out, we do have that option.

You can apply online through the Synchrony website before you get here, or we can complete the application for 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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Quiet, all season Uniroyal tire

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

For drivers who use their car every day, it’s nice to have a quiet, comfortable ride.

That’s one feature of the Uniroyal Tiger Paw GTZ All Season 2 tire.

Made up of wide grooves and snow bars, the all season tire is reliable in dry and wet conditions.

It provides traction in snowy weather and a 50,000 mile treadwear warranty.

This Uniroyal tire comes in a wide range of sizes and can be found on vehicles that use a sporty size tire, including Mercedes, Audis, or Honda Civics.

We installed a couple of these tires on a 2016 Chevrolet Impala last month.

Uniroyal also produces a variety of other all seasons, including the Tiger Paw Touring A/S Tire. For more information about tires that would best fit your car, give us a call at (703) 594-4646.

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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Is your car ready for winter?

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Is your car ready for winter?

As the upcoming season approaches, it’s important to make sure that it’s prepared as much as possible.

Here are a few components you should check as the cooler months begin to settle in:

  • Windshield wipers: One of the things that you’ll want to look at are your wiper blades to see if they are streaking on the windshield, or if the ends are cracked or damaged. 
  • Windshield washer fluid: You’ll want to take a look at your washer fluid to make sure it’s set for the correct temperature levels. Around here, – 20 is good.
  • Antifreeze: Check your antifreeze level and also the protection level of the antifreeze. Just because it may look green, or red, or blue – depending on the car – you actually want to make sure that the temperature protection level is good.
  • Car battery: Check the level in the battery, make sure that it’s alright. Some of them don’t have a way you can check the water, but you can actually have a little eyelet that shows green or red if it’s good.
  • Tire pressure: It’s a great time to check your tire pressure. It’s OK to run maybe 1 pound extra, just for the temper variation with the Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), trying to keep that light out as the temperature drops.
  • Lights: With it getting dark as early as it is right now, it’s a great time to check the lights, but especially your headlights – making sure that they’re working and that the lenses are clear.

Feel free to call HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire if you have any questions.

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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CrossClimate SUV Tire – an all season tire for SUVs, crossovers

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Having tires that you can count on whether it’s sunny or snowing is important.

The Michelin CrossClimate SUV tire is an all season tire available for SUVs and crossovers.

Featuring wet and dry traction, it is certified for snow traction.

This tire’s V-shaped tread design, deep sipes and emerging grooves enable it to last longer in wet and snowy weather.

It has a 50,000 mile tread life warranty and provides great grip in the warmer and cooler months.

In addition to the CrossClimate SUV, Michelin also produces the CrossClimate 2 tire and CrossClimate Plus tire. 

All of these tires and more options can be found at HomeTowne Auto Repair & 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.