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Coolant fluid exchange keeps cooling system running correctly

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Your vehicle’s cooling system helps prevent the engine from overheating by ensuring that it’s running at a safe temperature.

Because of the important role the system plays, it’s important for it to be maintained.

As time goes on, coolant breaks down and supplements that hinder corrosion start being used up. This causes the coolant to turn acidic and parts, including the water pump and radiator, to corrode. 

Reasons to get a coolant fluid exchange

A coolant fluid exchange keeps the system clean and restores coolant that has diminished over time.

It gets rid of any rust that has accumulated on the coolant lines and cooling system fins, and also removes sludge and scale. 

Buildup of rust, scale and sludge impacts circulation and makes it more difficult for engines to release heat.

To keep your cooling system running correctly, we recommend coolant fluid exchanges every 30,000 miles.

We use a cooling system cleaner and additive when performing this service.

How to know if you need a coolant fluid exchange

There are also a few symptoms you may notice when a coolant fluid exchange is needed.

These signs include leaks, hose failure and a vehicle having trouble starting. An increase in temperature and losing coolant are other clues.

You may also notice that the coolant is darker, which occurs as the fluid breaks down. 

Because coolant that needs to be changed is acidic, technicians may check it with a test strip. This helps them determine the PH level. 

Having a cleaner system that works better is only one benefit of a coolant fluid exchange.

It can also extend the coolant’s lifespan, improve performance, and decrease the likelihood of a vehicle overheating.

You’ve heard the lifetime coolant. What the manufacturers are referring to is the life expectancy of you owning that vehicle before getting a new one. But that might not be the same as your expectancy. If you’re someone who plans to own their vehicle for 12 + years, it’s important to change your engine coolant every 30,000 miles.

Make sure the right coolant is used

It’s also important to use the correct type of coolant. Most people think the coolant is green, but it can also come in blue and yellow. Actually, the color of coolant is clear, and the color you see is just dye.

The dye helps manufacturers identify that it’s the coolant approved for the type of metal the engines are made out of.

The metal used in Asian vehicles differs from what’s used in the USA. So using the wrong type of engine coolant can actually hurt certain vehicles.

Coolants for European cars, such as BMWs and Mercedes, are manufactured not only to protect their engine but also engine concerns if it leaks out of the vehicle.

You can use a universal green type of coolant. But just because it’s green doesn’t mean it’s correct. It’s OK to use green, but you need to make sure that it’s high quality.

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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Fuel induction service restores engine performance

In Vehicle Maintenance by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

As your vehicle gets older, you may notice that it isn’t running the way it used to.

If it seems to be struggling to start or feels rough when idle, it could mean that carbon deposits have built up in the engine because of ethanol. 

In addition to particles in the engine, ethanol can cause corrosion to develop, impact your vehicle’s ability to drive properly, and cause parts to fail.

These deposits can be removed through a fuel induction service, which we recommend every 30,000 miles. 

How often you have it performed also depends on the vehicle.

Some BMWs with direct injection for the fuel system and some vehicles with GDI engines actually have carbon build up problems, and it may be a good idea to conduct this service more often.

Other signs of carbon buildup

Difficulty starting your vehicle and rough idle are only a couple of symptoms of carbon buildup.

Poor gas mileage and knocking in the engine are other indicators. 

You may also experience stalling, engine surges, loss in power and more emissions that are being released.

fuel induction service
Carbon buildup

Perks of the fuel induction service

Regular maintenance, such as clearing out carbon buildup, prevents engine damage. This helps you save money down the road.

Having a cleaner air induction system and fuel injection system isn’t the fuel induction service’s only perk.

It also restores engine power and decreases the amount of emissions the tailpipe emits. Improved air and fuel flow and increased fuel economy are other benefits of this service.

Fuel induction service process

A fuel induction service begins with adding BG Fuel System Drier to the fuel tank. This soaks up and suspends moisture that collects due to condensation.

Then, our technicians add BG Ethanol Fuel System Defender, a fuel system cleaner that cleans out various components, including the fuel lines, fuel injectors, and the backs of the valves. 

In addition to removing particles in the fuel system, it provides protection against ethanol-related damage.

Lastly, they run an air intake system cleaner, which removes grime on the intake manifold and cleans the valves in the intake system.

It’s important to keep up with this service, especially with the stop and go traffic common in the Northern Virginia area.

How BG 44K benefits your fuel system

In between the fuel induction services, it may be a good idea to use BG 44K to help keep that fuel system clean and make sure your car is in tip top shape.

BG 44K cleans the fuel system and gets rid of particles that accumulate on many components, including combustion chambers, oxygen sensors and injectors. 

Enhanced engine performance, better combustion, and a cleaner catalytic converter are other benefits of using BG 44K.

This product, which can be used on diesel engines and turbocharged engines, can also decrease issues that carbon buildup causes. 

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 HomeTowne Auto Repair gives back to the community

In Community Involvement by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Giving back to the community is important to us.

It’s one of the ways we stand out. (You can read more about how we’re different from other repair shops here.)

To meet our goal of supporting the community, HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire partners with local non-profits.

They include The Arc of Greater Prince William, the National Museum of Americans in Wartime, and Action in Community Through Service (ACTS).

The Arc of Greater Prince William serves individuals with mental and physical disabilities.

In addition to working on the 50 vehicles The Arc operates, we provide the organization with free oil changes and safety and emission inspections.

“And sometimes, when a vehicle breaks down with somebody with a disability on the vehicle, they are on the spot immediately to make sure that we care for our folks, get the vehicle back and running or bring a replacement vehicle so we continue the mission that we have each and every day,” The Arc of Greater Prince William Director of Resource Development Chris Caseman said.

Through our media arm, What’s Up Prince William (WUPW.news), we are able to share The Arc’s programs and fundraisers.

“Every time we have a program that’s coming out, What’s Up Prince William will help us put a program together, help us put the promotional material together and make it happen,” Caseman added.

The National Museum of Americans in Wartime (NMAW) seeks to honor those who served in the military and on the homefront. It is constructing an education center and landscapes of war off of Dale Boulevard in Dale City. 

“That organization is a little bit unique where it actually can bring some tourism to the Dale City area, and they talk about the military in a little bit different way than some of the other museums do, where these tanks actually – they’re able to drive around,” HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire Co-Owner and WUPW.news Publisher ST Billingsley explained. 

With WUPW.news, we promote the annual Tank Farm Open House and support the museum’s newsletter.

Billingsley has worked alongside Neabsco District Supervisor Victor Angry to share any news from the supervisor’s office as well as promote the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department (DCVFD) and the Americans in Wartime Museum. 

“What’s Up Prince William, and ST, and everyone that’s a part of it spends a lot of time, a lot of hours putting together marketing – productive videos, spending time out on the Tank Farm, really telling the story of Americans in wartime, which is something that this community and this nation really need to never forget – the stories of the sacrifices that our veterans have endured to allow us to have the freedoms that we have here in America today,” Angry said.

ACTS is a Dumfries-based non-profit that provides various services to community members.

WUPW.news shares information about programs, news and events. It promotes the IWALK for ACTS on Facebook and through videos, including one that runs at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center.

“ACTS’ annual IWALK would not be the same without What’s Up Prince William. Every year, they’re the media sponsor and they’re the ones who help get everybody to come out and support,” ACTS CEO Steve Liga said. “When I look around and I see blue shirts by the hundreds, I know What’s Up Prince William helped get them there.”

The news site also works on projects that focus on various topics, including the organization’s 50th anniversary. It created videos about the Prince William Food Rescue app, as well.

“That’s another way in which we’ve [been] able to partner to get our message out and to be able to communicate with the community very clearly about our program, and that’s just been fantastic,” Prince William Food Rescue Program Director Aaron Tolson.

The Arc, the Americans in Wartime Museum and ACTS are just three ways we support the community throughout the year. WUPW.news promotes other non-profits and area businesses.

“We are from here, we work here, and we support here,” Billingsley said. “Please support us.”

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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Tire rotations and their importance

In Tires & Wheels by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

As a car owner, you are an investor – you invest in oil changes, needed parts and new tires.

We all know that taking care of a car isn’t cheap. Maintenance may feel like a burden sometimes, however, it can prevent future expenses.

One service we offer is tire rotations, where the front and back tires change places. 

This service might not sound exciting or important, but it can actually be very beneficial.

First of all, it helps your tires last longer.

The suspension in the front and back are set up differently. For example, the engine and heavy weight is in the front. So, if the front tires aren’t rotated to the back they will wear irregularly and start feathering – which are lips that create tire noise.

Tire rotations not only protect your tires, they also allow us to take a look at the brakes. Additionally, our technicians are able to move the lug nuts, where corrosion tends to develop, and check anything else that the tires are hiding. 

We provide free tire rotations during oil changes, which we suggest having done every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

A free courtesy inspection is performed, as well. During this check, we look at the car battery, lights and other components.

While working on a vehicle, our techs complete digital inspections that provide details, photos and videos of any needed repairs.

Customers may access the inspection via text or email.

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 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.