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Signs that your car needs a new clutch

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Last month, a customer brought in their 2005 Volvo S60 after noticing that it wasn’t accelerating correctly.

Ray, one of our technicians, took it for a test drive and could feel the clutch slipping when he went up hill.

After checking out the car, he determined that it needed one, pressure plate, and flywheel.

Clutch
Old clutch and old pressure plate

When you push in the clutch, it releases the pressure plate and is able to spin. As you let go, it presses against the pressure plate, connecting the transmission and the engine.

The clutch, pressure plate and flywheel should be replaced at the same time. If you don’t replace the flywheel at the same time, it can leave heat marks and scratches.

Clutch
New clutch and new pressure plate

This particular vehicle had a dual mass flywheel and a self adjusting pressure plate, meaning that it required a clutch that didn’t have spring dampeners.

A high release point — when the pedal has to go a really long travel to engage — is one sign that your clutch disc is going bad.

The problem can mask itself as something else.

Every day drivers become used to subtle changes over time and may suddenly feel the transmission is going bad because it’s not engaging all the way.

It can feel like it’s not staying in gear, that the engine is running rough, or the transmission isn’t shifting properly.

Clutch
Thickness of old and new clutch

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 air conditioning not working?

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

There are many reasons why a car air conditioning isn’t working correctly.

They can range from a leak to needing a new part.

A car being low on Freon, also known as refrigerant, is an indicator that there’s a leak.

Leaks can occur on rubber lines or fittings, because they undergo extreme temperature changes.

The rubber gaskets, which expand and contract, can become brittle overtime.

You should only need to recharge your car A/C if there’s a leak.

HomeTowne Auto Repair is able to recharge a car air conditioning, and we do offer air conditioning repair.

One part that may need to be replaced is the air conditioning condenser.

We installed a new one on a 2005 Acura after a customer noticed the air conditioning wasn’t as cool.

car air conditioning
Air conditioning condenser

When you turn on the air conditioning, Freon travels — as a gas — from the air conditioning compressor to the air conditioning condenser.

The air conditioning fan blows air over the condenser, cooling the Freon and causing it to turn into a liquid.

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 experience with my car’s starter going bad

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Written by Erin Flynn

A couple of months ago, I stopped by a gas station while I was on my way to work. When I restarted my Volkswagen Beetle, the engine didn’t turn over. 

(Ironically, this was the same gas station I was at when my check engine light started flashing in November.)

I tried a few more times. It wouldn’t start, and all I heard was silence and — several seconds later — a “click … click … click.”

All of the dashboard lights did come on.

starter
Dashboard Lights

Since my battery had been replaced within the past few years, and I hadn’t left any lights on or electronics plugged in, I ruled out the battery. I called HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire and spoke with them about the issue.

The General Manager offered to drive down to the gas station, which is in Fredericksburg, and help. A friend of mine who lives closer came by and jumped my car.

After she arrived, we attempted to jump start my car multiple times and were unsuccessful. 

I spoke to the General Manager again who gave some suggestions. He asked me to try jump starting my car again. The first attempt — nothing. The second time — nothing. The third — my car came back to life.

starter
Jump Starting Car

I brought my car by HomeTowne Auto Repair and learned that I needed a new starter, which is responsible for starting the engine.

The starter has a gear — called a bindix — that starts the flywheel by shooting out and spinning quickly.

A clicking sound is one of the signs that it’s going bad.

Sometimes, a starter will stop working without showing any symptoms.

If you’re in the same boat I was in, your best bet is to keep trying to jump start your car and check the battery. 

If you turn it over three or four times, your starter may have a flat spot and get started one time. After that, it shouldn’t be trusted.

If it still won’t start after you’ve tried jumping it, you will probably need to have it towed to a mechanic.

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 is an intercooler?

In Automotive Diagnostics by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Parts of a vehicle heat up as it’s driven.

Certain components help cool them off.

Charles, one of our technicians, replaced the intercooler of a 2015 Audi A4 last month.

intercooler
Audi A4

Intercoolers are heat exchanging devices that are found on top or in front of the engine of supercharged or turbocharged cars. 

The turbo takes pressure from the exhaust. It spools up and sends more air into the air intake, creating more power — also known as “boost”. More power equals more heat.

A heat exchanger is needed to lower the intake air temperatures, which can prevent damage to the engine.

Air to water intercoolers are used on drag racing cars. Those using them will add ice to the intercooler, so the intake air temperature becomes even cooler.

The Audi was brought in when the check engine turned on. It had a running rich code. 

Charles disconnected the intake tube from the throttle body. He performed a smoke test and smoke started pouring out of the intercooler.

Some type of impact caused the air leak. When the air was passing through, it sucked in unmetered air, causing it to run rich.

intercooler
New intercooler and old intercooler

When you notice a problem with your vehicle, it’s important to share as much information as you can with the mechanic or auto shop.

These details — even the ones that seem irrelevant — can help them address the issue and get you back on the road sooner.

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 to prevent sludge build up

In Oil Change by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Dirty oil — known as sludge — can solidify and block passages overtime.

It was found on the valve covers and solenoids of a 2012 Ford 150. 

The truck was brought in after its check engine light turned on. The customer also noticed an overall loss of power.

Lack of oil maintenance and combustion gasses that are traveling to oil can cause sludge to build up.

Deposits begin to stick to the walls of tiny passages, corners, and areas where there isn’t much oil flow. 

Proper oil maintenance and using higher quality oils can prevent sludge from building up.

We recommend having your oil changed every 5,000 miles, because we use full synthetic oil.

Read about our switch to full synthetic oil and how we’re different from other shops.

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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Pitfalls of buying a used car

In Auto Shop Talk by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

This is just one of the experiences we’ve had working on a used car:

Our customer had just bought a 2013 Jeep Wrangler off a used car lot at a dealership. It had cool lights and just looked nice, beefy and fun to drive.

They brought it to us after they started hearing a growling noise when driving. After checking out the vehicle, the technician found out that it was the rear differential. After a couple of other checks, we decided it was time to replace it.

We went with a JASPER remanufactured unit. While we were taking the old rear differential apart and getting ready to install the new one, we learned that the axles had been changed to off road axles that had screw-in studs we needed to find. The old rear differential also had a gear ratio that was different from the Jeep’s original ratio and the front differential ratio.

The new rear differential came in and was installed. During the test drive, the transmission would go into limp mode — which basically means that it won’t shift gears.

We spoke to the customer about this issue and they told us, “Oh yeah, it happened to us a few times after we got it. We’ve only had it two weeks.” 

As we were doing more testing, we received codes for a speed sensor problem. Speed sensors are located inside the transmission on top of the valve body. Through other testing, we found the transmission control module was not communicating correctly.

A transmission control module came in and was programmed. We experienced the same problem while test driving, but now we had good communication.

To make a long story short, we also needed to replace the transmission and reprogram the PCM back to the correct programming. This time, when we took it for a test drive, everything worked great — just like it’s supposed to.

The differential having a much lower gear ratio in the back, driving in two wheel drive helped mask the problem. Once they started having problems and couldn’t resolve them, they most likely traded it in to give their problems to someone else.

So, if you’re wondering what the moral of the story is: When you’re buying a Jeep that has been fixed up, without an accurate history of its past, you should expect to run into some problems. Maybe not as extensive as this one, but with all the aftermarket parts (we’re not saying they’re bad parts), you may not know what has been installed on the Jeep correctly or incorrectly. 

It’s definitely a good idea to get it looked over very well by a mechanic at an auto repair shop. If it’s lifted or highly modified, you may also want to go to a second shop that specializes in Jeep performance and have those components looked at.

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 shouldn’t use cheap brakes

In Brakes by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

The quality of the parts used on a vehicle can play a large role in how it runs.

Brakes are no exception.

We don’t recommend installing cheap brakes, which promote noise, vibrations, and road symptoms — such as rapid wear.

Another reason why you don’t want to use cheap brake pads and rotors is because the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) is programmed to have a certain amount of braking force and the computers know when the brakes are cold or hot. 

If you replace them with inferior parts, the control systems can be affected in an emergency situation. They may not grab as hard or they could have too much of a fade, impacting the safety of those in the car.

Brakes are one of the parts checked during the Virginia Safety Inspection.

The minimum Virginia State Safety recommendations is no less than 2/32 of an inch. 

Depending on the make and model of the vehicle and your driving conditions, it’s a good idea to start changing your brakes around 3/32 of an inch to 4/32 of an inch. For some vehicles, the manufacturer’s recommendation could be higher.

Brake rotors should be changed with a brake job because most of the rotors on today’s vehicles wear down. Rotors need to be able to dissipate heat so you don’t get a pulsation or vibration type feeling in the steering wheel and brake pedal. That pulsation symptom can impact the ADAS system. 

Some indications you may need a brake job are grinding noises and brake pedal pulsation. You may also notice a low pedal or a high end squeak noises, which could be the pad low indicator rubbing on the brake rotor.

Keep in mind, if it has rained or been humid recently, you may notice squeaking when you first start braking early in the morning. If it goes away after you’ve pressed on the brake a couple times, it’s most likely a little bit of rust built up due to the humidity or the brake rotors being wet. 

At HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire, part of our inspection process during our oil change is to do a visual inspection of the brakes to see if they’re getting low or if we notice any other problems. Many of the vehicles today have electronically controlled components, such as steering and brake callipers, that can hide some of the normal symptoms you would notice in older cars.

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 tires sold at HomeTowne Auto Repair

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

When it comes to tires, Michelin is top of line.

The Defender Tire has become a favorite among drivers. It’s one of the Michelin tires we sell.

Recently, more tire sizes have become available. Not only is it offered for SUVs and trucks, it can also be used by passenger vehicles and smaller cars.

Michelin has begun designing the Defender Tire with a new compound that excels in wet weather traction, which helps prevent hydroplaning. It also offers traction in dry weather conditions.

This quiet tire also has a warranty that can last up to 80,000 or 90,000 miles, as long it receives regular maintenance, such as tire rotations. The investment you put in is worth it.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire offers a road hazard warranty that’s good for three years or until the tire tread measures at 3/32 of an inch, which is the lowest you can go to safely repair a tire.

The road hazard warranty is good nationwide, so if you’re traveling you don’t have to wait to get in touch with us to access it. 

This month, if you buy four tires and a wheel alignment, you can get the road hazard at no cost. Road hazard normally amounts to 10 percent of the tire’s cost.

Other Michelin tires and those produced by other manufacturers can be purchased at HomeTowne Auto Repair.

We are a tire shop that can repair tires, depending on the injury and where it’s located.

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 are oil changes important?

In Oil Change by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Regular checkups are important to one’s health. The same proves true for vehicles.

Between every 3,000 and 5,000 miles, it’s a good idea to have the oil changed. 

This is one way you can maintain your car and its engine.

When changing the oil, our technicians remove the drain plug, which releases oil from the engine.

After we catch the oil, we replace the drain plug and change the oil filter. The oil filter is located on the top or bottom of the engine, depending on the vehicle’s design.

Then, the technicians put the correct viscosity and amount of oil in the car, place a reminder sticker on the windshield, and reset the reminder on the dashboard. 

We use full synthetic oil.

Oil changes
Oil change

When performing an oil change, our technicians also do a courtesy inspection where they check various components, including the lights, tires and brakes.

Read more about the courtesy inspection and our switch to synthetic oil.

Why should I get an oil change?

Oil changes help ensure that an engine is functioning properly, and avoiding them can lead to damage down the road.

For example, if your car takes five quarts of oil and you’re running it on three and a half or four quarts, it may run and sound fine. However, you’re destroying the engine, because it’s not reaching every part it’s supposed to. 

You may not experience a problem until 30,000 or 40,000 miles later when metal particles are found in the oil. By this point, parts have started to break down.

Earlier this year, one of our technicians discovered metal shavings when doing an oil change on a 2014 Jeep Cherokee SRT8. The engine on the Jeep was replaced soon afterwards.

Many new, fuel-efficient cars have high compression, which means your car may be burning oil without you knowing it.

They also have oil lubricated turbos that can be destroyed overtime. 

Another reason it’s extremely important to change your oil is that the engines have much tighter tolerances. A lot of engines have variable valve timing, and if sludge starts to build up that can cause problems with the oil solenoids that control the camshafts and can actually plug return galleries from the top of the engine so the oil can’t get back down to the oil pan as quickly.

Having your oil changed early isn’t a bad idea. We also suggest checking your oil every other time you fill your gas tank, because you can’t tell when you’re driving your car if it’s low.

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 backup sensor repairs offered at auto shop in Woodbridge, Virginia

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

One malfunctioning sensor can throw a car’s system off.

Jason replaced a backup sensor on a 2011 Cadillac CTS. There was a code that the rear object detection system wasn’t working properly.

When this system is disabled, the vehicle isn’t able to identify an object a driver can’t see.

This affects parallel parking and how close the car is to another car, a tree, or a curb.

The rear object detection system is one component we can address through our Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) system.

Driver assist, which can be found in many cars, also includes emergency braking, traffic sign recognition and surround view.

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.