How can I maintain my car battery and keep it from corroding?

In Battery, Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The battery is one of the most important parts of your vehicle – it gets your vehicle started – and like with all parts of your vehicle, you need to do your best to maintain and care for it. If you don’t, you run the risk of corroding your battery, and ending up on the side of the road.

So what exactly is battery corrosion?

Corrosion happens on the battery terminals when hydrogen gas is being released from the acid in the battery. This acid mixes with other things in the air under the hood of your vehicle, causing the corrosion you can see.
The battery corrosion can range in color – it can be white, green, and even brown – and the color you’ll see depends on the type of car battery and the metal that the battery terminals are made out of.

And how exactly do you maintain your car’s battery?

Part of how you maintain your vehicle’s battery is determined by the type of battery it is. Some batteries are “maintenance free” which means you don’t need to check the water levels inside.

But for those that do require maintenance, you’re going to want to check if there’s water in the battery cells every five to six months. And if you notice that your battery is low on water, make sure you’re refilling with distilled water – not tap water.

Another important piece of maintaining your battery and preventing corrosion is to keep your battery terminals and cables clean. One way of doing this is using a battery terminal protectant spray, which seals and prevents moistures in the battery terminal, and blocks battery acid from escaping from inside the battery.

For preventing corrosion from happening in the battery terminals another method is to use BG Battery Protector Pads. These felt pads are soaked in a chemical, which you then place on the terminals of the battery before reattaching the battery cables to the terminal. While weather conditions can impact the life of these pads, the protector pads often last the life of the battery, and should be changed with every battery replacement.

As part of normal car battery maintenance, you should be having your battery and alternator checked at least once a year. That way if there’s any problem, a technician should be able to detect it and suggest a replacement. It’s important to get the alternator checked too because if it’s not working properly, it can ruin your battery.

One last thing to be aware of when it comes to maintaining your battery: Be careful when the temperatures are on the rise. Most people think that car batteries go bad during the winter, and while some do, more actually go bad during the warmer months and have to be replaced, because the battery doesn’t perform well in the higher temperatures.

What is a cabin air filter and an engine air filter? What’s the difference?

In Cabin Air Filter, Maintenance, Safety by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

“It’s time for a cabin air filter change.” When you hear that, you’re likely wondering what a cabin air filter is and why you have to replace it.

ery dirty cabin air filter

A very dirty cabin air filter, maintenance has not been performed on this vehicle

A cabin air filter is a filter located either behind the glove compartment, under the hood or under the dashboard, depending on your vehicle, and is designed to remove dust, pollen, and other airborne contaminants from the inside of your vehicle.

The cabin air filter will filter air that comes through the vehicle’s HVAC system to make the air cleaner for you. This can be a lifesaver if you’re stuck in airs with lots of traffic or pollution, or if you have allergies. For those suffering from seasonal allergies, keeping your cabin air filter clean can make a big difference.

An engine air filter has a similar purpose to the cabin air filter. An engine air filter helps to keep dirt, buildup, and debris from getting into your vehicle’s engine system. Just like a cabin air filter, over time things build up in the filter that can cause problems for your vehicle down the road if they’re not taken care of.

honda air filter

Honda air filter being checked during an oil change

In order to reap the full benefits of a cabin filter and an engine air filter, you need to make sure it’s swapped out regularly. Just like any filter they get dirty and clogged, and lose their effectiveness over time until they’re replaced.

But how often should you be changing out these filters? It depends on the type of vehicle, your preferences, and the conditions you drive in regularly.

“Both should be checked every oil change and replaced when dusty or dirty,” said Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire Owner ST Billingsley.

So next time you’re getting your vehicle serviced, make sure they check your cabin filter and your engine air filter, and see if they need to be replaced.


Is your car ready for the summer?

In Brakes, Cooling System, Maintenance, Safety, Tires and Wheels by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The sun is shining, and it’s almost time for summer. While the summer offers plenty of fun and great weather, it also comes with summertime traffic, and the gridlock and bumper-to-bumper with the Washington, D.C. commute and beach traffic.

Keeping that traffic in mind, you’re going to want to make sure that your car is prepared. Here are some things you should check, to see if your car is ready for the summer.

Make sure your car or trucks air conditioning works good for the summer months

Make sure your car or trucks air conditioning works good for the summer months

Is your A/C blowing cold?

With your heat blasting during the winter months, chances are that you haven’t needed to use the air conditioning – which means that you may be unaware of potential problems with your A/C system. Nothing is worse than trying to head out for a long car ride – or even your morning commute – and realizing that your A/C is blowing hot. If you’ve noticed that your A/C system is blowing warmer than it normally would, it’s good to bring it in and see if there are any leaks, and get replacement or repair done before the thermostat really starts to rise.

Are your brakes ready for stop-and-go?

Is your car ready for the summer?

Front brake pads and rotors need to be checked to ensure proper vehicle braking

We all know that when you live in this area, there are bound to be traffic jams, regardless of the time of year. But with the summer, and all of the vacation and beach traffic in Northern Virginia, bumper-to-bumper can be a real challenge if you’re brakes aren’t in good shape. Having quality brakes that aren’t worn down can make a huge difference in your vehicle’s stopping time, and can be the difference between a hard stop and a fender bender. For our customers we recommend that they change out their brake pads when they’re worn down below 4/32nds.

Make sure you’re cooling system is doing its job.

Is your car ready for the summer?

Make sure your engine cooling system is working properly

When’s the last time you had your cooling system serviced or checked? The cooling system in your vehicle – different from the car’s air conditioning – is important, and needs to be checked on regularly. The cooling system uses a radiator, water pump, and a cooling fan to help create circulation in your car’s engine, allowing it to release heat so that your engine doesn’t become overheated. Especially as the weather gets warmer, all of that heat outside can take a toll on your car’s engine if you don’t care for it properly. Make sure that you’re getting the coolant fluids topped off, and that you’re getting cooling system flushes this summer, to keep from dealing with an overheated engine.

Are your tires worn down?

Is your car ready for the summer?

Make sure your tires are safe, with Goodyear tires

Whether you’ve got winter tires on your vehicle, or you’ve been riding on your all-seasons for a while, you need to be thinking about the condition of your tires as the summer approaches. Just like brakes, the condition of your tires makes a huge difference in your stopping time and speed, as well as the comfort and handling of your drive. At Steve’s we recommend that customers consider replacing their brakes when they’re down below 4/32nds. Especially with all of the bumper-to-bumper traffic ahead, it’s good to make sure that your tires are in excellent condition for the summer.

Winter’s over: it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

In Maintenance, Promotions, Shocks and Struts by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Winter’s over: it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

Cars and trucks with high mileage can have worn out shocks and struts and show no signs of leaking

We made through a pretty bad winter, with a blizzard, ice, and variable temperatures, and we’re sure you’re looking forward to the warmer weather as much as we are. But now that the winter weather has subsided, we’re left with sizeable potholes, and the damage that the winter inflicted on our cars.

One of the important services you should consider as we move into the warmer months is replacing your shocks and struts. Here are five signs that your shocks and struts are due to be inspected and replaced that you should be on the lookout for.

Your vehicle’s handling is off.

If you’re on your morning commute or off running some errands and you notice that your car isn’t handling like it used to, and it’s got more bounce or a rougher ride than normal, that’s a sign that your shocks and struts are worn down.

Winter’s over: it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

Replacing the struts on a vehicle can improve handling

You’re going in for a nose dive.

When you’re braking, turning, or speeding up you should always be able to maintain control of your vehicle – in large part because of the shocks and struts in your car. But if you’re noticing that the ‘nose’ or front of your car is starting to dive, especially when you’re applying the brakes, then that’s a good sign that your shocks and struts need replacing.

Your tires have patches.

Shock and strut wear can impact your tires, and uneven wear is a good visual sign that they’re worn out and need to be replaced. When shocks and struts wear out, your tire will bounce more frequently and hit the ground, losing rubber in the process – which is called cupping. You’ll often find that when shocks and struts need to be replaced, your tires will show uneven wear and smooth patches.

The car is making squeaking sounds.

Winter’s over: it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

Worn suspension components like shocks and struts can cause premature tire wear

If you drive over a bump or pothole in the road, are you hearing loud squeaking noises coming from the suspension? Or when you’re getting out of your vehicle or braking? Then that’s another possible sign that your shocks and struts are in need of inspection, replacement, or repair.

Your car has more than 50,000 miles on it.

At our shop we follow guidance from the Motorist Assurance Program that recommends that drivers replace their shocks and struts after 50,000 miles. There’s some variance on mileage before its necessary, based on the type of car and road conditions, but if your car is over 50,000 miles and you’re experiencing some of the other issues we’ve mentioned, then it may be time to swap out those shocks and struts.

To get the spring and summer started off right, we’re offering a special at the shop, where you can get your shocks and struts inspected and replaced for only $20 over cost. To take advantage of this deal, bring this coupon to us to redeem the special pricing, good through April 30, 2016.

Winter’s over: it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

Metro closing down for a while? Get your car ready

In Fuel Economy, Fuel System, Maintenance, Tires and Wheels by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Metro closing down for a while? Get your car ready

A professional fuel injection and induction cleaning can help you get better fuel economy

The word on the street is that the Blue Line, and several other area Metro lines will be closed for an extended period of time. That inevitably means that you’re probably going to be in your car more frequently, to get to work.

While we can’t get you out of the impending traffic nightmare that’s ahead, we can get your car prepared for those extra miles, and wear and tear – and save you some money too.

For starters, when was the last time you had a fuel maintenance service on your vehicle? Many people forget how dirty fuel injects and filters can impact their car’s fuel economy. And you’re going to need the best fuel economy possible, heading north toward Washington, D.C. each day.

At Steve’s, we offer a BG fuel induction service that will improve your fuel economy, and get your engine running more smoothly. During the service we’re able to clean the fuel injectors, which will help balance your vehicle’s air and fuel ratio. It’s a service that should be performed every 15,000 miles, but it’s especially important now to catch up on it, now that you’re going to be on the road more.

You also should have your air filter checked regularly. Did you know that a clogged air filter can reduce your fuel economy by 15%? That really adds up!

Another thing you’re going to want to invest in now that Metro is going to be closed for repairs is your tires. A lot of people don’t realize this, but your tires can have a big impact on your car’s fuel economy, and your stopping speed.  It’s very easy for one of our technicians to take a look at your tires and assess the condition, before making some recommendations.

With all of those traffic-filled miles ahead, you’re going to want to focus on one of two things – fuel economy and stopping time. At Steve’s we’re a Goodyear dealer, and if you’re looking to save

Metro closing down for a while? Get your car ready

Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tire is an All Season Tire that can help you save gas moneysome serious miles with your car’s fuel economy, then we’d have to recommend the Goodyear Fuel Max tire. That particular tire actually has a fuel-saving compound in the tread that helps to reduce energy loss as the tire roles. It can save you up to 2,600 miles worth of gas over the life of the set. The Fuel Max tires have the added benefit of a wet tread zone with dual aqua channel grooves that improve traction on the wet roads. So even on a rainy commute into D.C., you’re covered.

some serious miles with your car’s fuel economy, then we’d have to recommend the Goodyear Fuel Max tire. That particular tire actually has a fuel-saving compound in the tread that helps to reduce energy loss as the tire roles. It can save you up to 2,600 miles worth of gas over the life of the set. The Fuel Max tires have the added benefit of a wet tread zone with dual aqua channel grooves that improve traction on the wet roads. So even on a rainy commute into D.C., you’re covered.

We all hate it, but short stops and being cut off are an unfortunate part of having to drive for the morning commute in Northern Virginia. And if you want to avoid an accident, then it’s going to be important that you get tires for your vehicle that are designed to deal with those challenges. Especially for when you’re trying to quickly merge or switch lanes, having a sporty performance tire with good stopping power is going to be an asset. Especially with the huge influx of vehicles that will be on I-95 and I-66, you’re going to need all of the help you can get. That’s why we would recommend the Goodyear Eagle Sport All Season.

Metro closing down for a while? Get your car ready

Goodyear Eagle Sport tire gives you better traction and a decreased stopping distance

The Eagle Sport was designed with stopping ability in mind. Having those extra couple of seconds, thanks to a good set of tires, can be the difference between a near-accident and damaging your vehicle. It has an asymmetric tread that makes handling easier, and it has a fantastic grip for all seasons and essentially all weather conditions. Its full-depth siping and biting edges help with its stopping ability and response.

Regardless of if you’re worried more about fuel economy, or stopping speed, both tires are a great investment to make for the coming months. You can’t change the Metro being closed, but you can do everything you can to make sure your car will have peak performance while you’re stuck in the daily commute traffic.

5 things to have checked on your car this spring

In Alignment, Brake Fluid Flush, Cabin Air Filter, Cooling System, Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

With the winter fading away, and the weather finally starting to warm up with the onset of spring, it’s time to get your vehicle ready with a little ‘spring cleaning’ maintenance.

These are the top 5 things you should do, to get your car ready for spring:

5 things to have checked on your car this spring

Mercedes engine coolant flush

  1. Have your vehicle’s fluids flushed – including the coolant.

With winter on its way out, it’s a good idea to have all of your vehicle’s fluids flushed, checked, and refilled. It’s especially important for your coolant fluid to be flushed and topped off. Why? Because the warmer weather can raise the temperature of your vehicle, and coolant helps to keep things running smoothly.

“Given the fact that we’re going to start coming in to warmer weather, your car’s going to be running a little hotter because the ambient temperature’s going to be warmed up, so coolant’s a good fluid to get changed now,” said Rich Campbell, manager at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire.

  1. 5 things to have checked on your car this spring

    Checking tires at Steves Auto Repair and TIre

    Have your tires inspected.

All that driving in the ice and snow wears away at the tread on your tires, and over time that means your tires are going to need to be replaced. When its springtime and the snow and ice have cleared, that’s the perfect time to have your tires inspected by a technician. If your tires are worn down and losing traction, that can make a huge difference when stopping on wet spring roads, so it’s important to get them inspected.

“You need to make sure you’ve got adequate traction,” said Campbell.

  1. 5 things to have checked on your car this springHave your air cabin filter changed.

Cabin air-filter changes are an important part of maintenance year-round, but they’re even more important come springtime, because of the pollen and things floating in the air that can impair air quality.

“That cabin air filter filters your pollen, the dust, and getting ready for spring you want a good, fresh cabin air filter in there,” said Campbell.

5 things to have checked on your car this spring

Tail light bulb replacement at Steves Auto Repair and Tire

4. Are your bulbs out?

Bulbs go out on vehicles all of the time, and it’s important to get them replaced, no matter what time of year it is. But when you’re doing your ‘spring cleaning’ checkup on your vehicle, it’s worth checking if any of your lights are out, as they’re easily replaced during a trip to the shop.

  1. Have your alignment checked out.

Bouncing around on potholes and that unexpected curb following a big snow storm can really throw your vehicle’s alignment out of whack. If you notice your car’s pulling, even slightly, or you’re noticing a very rough ride, then that’s a pretty good sign that you may need an alignment service. Many drivers get them during the spring, because of those potholes, left by the snow plows, we mentioned earlier.

5 things to have checked on your car this spring

Wheel alignment at Steves Auto Repair and Tire

If you want to make sure your vehicle is road-ready for all of the trips and events you’ve got planned for spring, then make sure that you take your car in for some spring maintenance at Steve’s.

Noticing car problems after the big storm? Get them checked out at Steve’s Auto Repair

In Alignment, Fluids, Maintenance, Safety, Tires and Wheels, Transmission by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Last weekend the entire area was pelted with more than a foot of snow, with up to almost three feet in some places! Even though the snow has stopped and you’ve managed to dig out your driveway to get back on the roads, you may be experiencing some car issues following the storm.

Here are some common problems that our technicians at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire has seen following the blizzard, that you should get checked out as soon as possible:

  1. If you’ve been driving on icy roads in your neighborhood, hitting blocks of snow and debris on your travels, or even running into curbs hidden beneath the snow, then you run the risk of a flat tire. Our technicians will be able to assess the damage to your tires if you’ve got a flat, and make recommendations on repair or replacement.
  2. If you own a truck or you’ve been out plowing, the storm likely put a lot of strain on your vehicle. Particularly if you were moving over large amounts of snow, or were trying to plow streets, it’s not uncommon for a vehicle’s transmission to be damaged. We’re seeing several plows at our shop this week to fix transmission related issues.
  3. One the most common things we’re seeing is damage to vehicles’ windshield wipers. Even if you lifted them up before the storm, the weight of the snow on the front of your car, or placing the wipers back on the windshield before all snow and ice were completely removed can cause them to be bent or broken. This is something our technicians can quickly switch out for you, and get you back on the road in no time.
  4. When heading out on the road after digging your car out, you may have noticed some shaking and vibration while driving. While this could be another more involved issue with your vehicle, a lot of the cars we’ve seen this week were having this shaking in their car because ice and snow were still in the rim wheel of the tires, throwing off the car’s balance.
  5. Hitting curbs or icy patches won’t only cause a potential flat tire – it can also mess with your vehicle’s alignments. Particularly after hitting chunks of ice or other debris, if you notice your car pulling to one side on flat pavement, then it’s a good idea to bring your car to a shop to have it looked at.
  6. Not able to use your wiper fluid to clear your windshield? Drivers that didn’t check their washer fluid to make sure it was at appropriate levels and the right mixture before the storm may be having issues with using their wipers correctly, as the wiper fluid is frozen inside.

The storm may have kept you from going out, but don’t let vehicle issues stop you too. Our technicians and service advisers at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire can inspect your vehicle to make sure that everything’s in working order, and get you safely back out on the road this winter.

Car preparation and winter driving tips

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

It may not be ideal, but it’s true: winter weather can be hard on your car, SUV or truck. If you want to make sure that your car is prepared and safe this winter, then you need to follow some important tips to get your car ready for winter weather.

  1. If your vehicle is stuck on ice, or just can’t seem to get traction on those wintry roads, then you’ll want to have sand or kitty litter on hand, to get yourself unstuck and back on the road.
  2. Your windshield wipers are one of your greatest assets when it comes to dealing with snow and ice. When there’s snow accumulation, snowfall, rain or sleet, you need your wipers working properly. As part of your proper winter care, make sure that the washer fluid in your wipers is full, and that it has the correct mixture so that the fluid won’t freeze.
  3. Have a technician check your antifreeze (AKA coolant) levels for your engine, to make sure that they’re at the right temperature to protect the engine. Getting your coolant flushed and drained and the radiator filled during the winter season will help to keep the system protected.
  4. Is your car all-wheel drive or four wheel drive? It’s important to know, as you drive during the winter months. All wheel drive vehicles have the system on at all times, whereas four wheel drive vehicle drivers need to engage their transfer case first.

Those are some of the big things to keep in mind with your vehicle as the winter weather hits, but even smaller things like knowing where you heated mirror button is located – if you’ve got one – can become very important in bad weather. Know your vehicle, how it can handle and perform in adverse conditions, and make sure you get it serviced before winter weather strikes and you’ll have a much easier time out there on difficult winter roads.

Getting your vehicle stocked and prepared this winter

In Maintenance, Safety by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Getting your vehicle stocked and prepared this winterAre you prepared if something happens while you’re in your vehicle this winter? It’s always important to be prepared, and when it comes to having supplies in your car it’s no exception.

Keeping a small emergency kit on hand in your vehicle is the best way to make sure that you have what you need, whether it’s getting stuck in a snowbank or a dead battery.

Here are the supplies you should keep in your car’s emergency kit:

A jumper cable. You may also want to include some flares and a reflective triangle for breakdowns.

Flashlight with extra batteries.

First aid kit with any of your medications included.

Formula and diapers (if you have a small child).

Non-perishable food items, including canned food and protein-dense foods, and a manual can opener to open any cans.

Water. Preferably a gallon of water per person a day. Try to prepare for three days’ worth.

Some tools, including a screwdriver and pliers.

A radio.

Cat litter or sand, to get better traction in icy areas.

An ice scraper and shovel to remove snow from your vehicle.

Warm clothing or blankets.

A cell phone charger.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire wants to make sure that all of our customers are safe and prepared, especially with the winter weather coming. In addition to your emergency kit, making sure to get your car serviced and installing snow tires are a good investment in your safety and your vehicle this winter.

The Price and Value of Oil Change Service at Steve’s

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The Price and Value of Oil Change Service at Steve's

Valvoline 5W-20 oil for a Honda, using the correct type of oil helps keep you car or truck on the road.

Oil change service varies from location to location, and so do the prices depending on the area. No matter where you go, you want to ensure that your car is in good hands. So, what makes  Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire the right place to go for your next oil change? Let’s talk about it.

We do so much more than just change your oil.  We offer many different packages to accommodate your personal needs.

Our basic Bronze service starts out at $39.95, and covers up to 5 quarts of motor oil and your filter.

One perk to note when you choose us for an oil change, is that we will do a tire rotation for no charge. Our competitors charge an additional $20 for this service. Why pay more, when you can entrust your car to us, and get it as an added bonus?

The next step up is our Silver service for $59.99, which includes up to 5 quarts of motor oil, a filter and our BG MOA engine oil supplement.

The Price and Value of Oil Change Service at Steve's

Checking brakes, tires and suspension component during an oil change.

Our premium service, which is called the Gold service – for $79.99 –  includes up to 5 quarts of motor oil, a filter BG MOA engine oil supplement and BG CF5 Fuel supplement.

Looking for additions to your oil change service that improve the quality and stability of your vehicle? At Steve’s we offer full synthetic oil, for an additional fee, that makes a big difference in the performance of your vehicle.

During the service, our technicians check all of your vehicle’s vital fluid levels and test their condition. If you’re low, we will top them off for you.  This includes the following fluids:

The Price and Value of Oil Change Service at Steve's

Checking the brake fluid for moisture content, to much moisture can cause brake pedal fade.

– Washer fluid up to 1 gallon
– Power steering fluid
– Transmission fluid (dipstick type only)
– Radiator engine coolant
– Brake fluid

In addition to the fluids we top off, we also inspect the following during our service:

The Price and Value of Oil Change Service at Steve's

Battery terminal corrosion found during and oil change, this can cause shorter battery life and a no start problem.

– Visual inspection of brake pad and rotor condition
– Battery corrosion
– Battery life
– Belts for cracking and wear
– Radiator hoses to make sure they are not worn
– Fluid leaks
– Tire pressure
– Lights to make sure the bulbs are all working
– Maintenance reminder light
– Exhaust
– Windshield wipers to make sure they are not torn
– Inspection sticker to make sure you are not expired or about to expire

Our goal is make sure your vehicle is maintained properly to help you avoid major costly repairs, so if we see something that may potentially develop into something bigger, we will alert you in plenty of time for you to address the problem before it becomes a major mechanical breakdown.

The Price and Value of Oil Change Service at Steve's

Checking wiper blades and brake lights during an oil change.

So when it’s time for that routine oil change, don’t just go to any shop. Go to a shop that cares, and goes the extra mile to inspect and take care of your car, and stop by Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire for your next oil change.

*Prices subject to change. Prices reflect service on August of 2015.