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.

 

Car safety tips to keep you on the road this winter

In Safety by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

We’ve already had some minor snowfall this winter season, and it looks like we’ve got more ahead before spring arrives.

So especially when it comes to your daily commute or rush hour traffic in Northern Virginia, you need to make sure your car is in good shape and is ready for bad weather when it strikes.

Regular maintenance on your vehicle is always advisable – regardless of the time of year – but here are some tips that are especially important for snow and ice on the roads:

Check the tread on your tires.

If you just had a state inspection or your automotive repair shop does a thorough inspection of your vehicle when you come in for a service, chances are that you’d know if the tread on your tires is sufficient. But when it comes to your safety, you should always take a look for yourself, and see if your tires have enough tread. Tread is important because the more tread your tire has, the more traction you’ll have on snowy and icy roads. You never want your tires to be below 2/32nds.

Also check the tires’ air pressure.

Your tires should be regularly checked to make sure they’re properly and fully inflated, but your checks on the air pressure should increase during the winter months. Cold temperatures many times cause tires to lose air pressure, and when tires aren’t properly inflated it can cause flats or other tire damage that can be costly to fix. On the inside of your vehicle door, the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure level is listed. When checking the pressure, make sure your tires are at or near that level.

Make sure you have enough fluids.

In the winter, making sure that your vehicle has enough coolant, window washer fluid, and gas – especially before a storm hits – are very important. Coolant will help your vehicle properly defrost, and you need your windshield wipers able to push away snow or water from your windshield. And if you’re trying to get around in a winter storm, having a full gas tank could be crucial. You should also consider replacing your windshield wipers if they’re getting worn out.

Remove snow and ice from your vehicle before driving.

It sounds simple, but so many drivers do not remove ice and show from their windshields and the tops and sides of their vehicle before they head out on the road. Taking the extra time to clear your car off will ensure that you know everything is working correctly, and that you won’t be sending sheets of ice and snow off of your car onto the road, potentially hitting other cars or pedestrians.

Make sure to follow these driving and school bus safety tips

In Safety by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Today is the first day of school in Prince William County, and that means all of those school buses will be out on the road transporting students.

Here are some important rules for parents and drivers out there, on how to drive and stop when near school buses:Make sure to follow these driving and school bus safety tips

  • If you notice that a school bus is stopped and has flashing red lights and a stop sign on the side of the bust, you need to make sure you stop your vehicle and wait until the bus begins moving again, whether you’re on a highway, private road, or school road. This makes sure that students can exit the bus safely.
  • Even if the signals are not flashing on the bus, if a school bus is letting passengers off, you still need to stop your vehicle and wait for them to safely exit. Sometimes yellow lights on a school bus will start flashing before the red lights, and you need to stop and be aware of these lights as well.
  • If you are on the opposite side of the road as a school bus and there is a median or barrier in between, then you are not required to stop your vehicle if a buses’ lights are flashing.

“This time of year, you’re going to have an increase in bus traffic because school’s about to start. It’s really important that, as you drive, you are aware of your surroundings. If you see that you’re approaching a bus, slow down. Take that extra time to maintain that safe distance,” said Officer Nathan Probus with the Prince William County Police Department.

In Virginia, passing a school bus when their lights are activated is a misdemeanor crime that can be punishable by up to 12 months in prison, or a $2,500 fine.

Make sure you stay safe and start this school year off right.

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.

3 things to watch out for with all this rainy weather

In Headlamps, Safety, Tires and Wheels, Windshield Wipers by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

It’s been raining for several days now, and you’re probably wondering when it’s going to end. While we can’t predict the weather or make the rain go away, what we can do is tell you about things you should be on the lookout for with all of this rainy weather.

3 things to watch out for with all this rainy weather

Wiper blades need to be replaced to keep the windshield clear for safe driving.

Check to see how your windshield wipers are doing

Your car’s windshield wipers see a lot more use when there’s rain for long stretches of time, and eventually like all things do, the wipers will wear out with frequently use. Having worn out windshield wipers can be a hazard, particularly at night or when there’s heavy rainfall, because they’re not as effective at removing the water from your windshield. They can also leave streaks and splotches that can make it difficult to see on the road. If you notice that your windshield wipers aren’t working very well, stop in and we can get those fixed quickly for you.

3 things to watch out for with all this rainy weather

Check to see if you have a headlight out even daytime runnig lights can burn out.

Are your headlights working?

Much like the windshield wipers, if you’re using your headlights during the day and night because of gloomy and dark conditions, then you could see that one of your headlight bulbs has gone out. Sometimes people don’t notice that a headlight is out until it’s dark and they’re visibility is impaired, and that’s not the time when you want them to stop working on you. Checking your headlights regularly, especially during long stretches of rainy weather, is an easy way to see if your headlight bulbs need to be replaced.

Do your tires help you to stop at a safe distance?

Regardless of the conditions outside or the tires you have, over time your tires will wear down from frequent use on the road. You want to make sure that your tires are at safe wear levels even when it’s sunny and bright, but days when it’s raining or snowing are really when you need those tires the most, as they’re what gives you traction and helps you to stop safely on the road. Now is definitely a good time to check the tread depth on your tires, and make note of how good your car’s traction is on the road. If your tread depth is worn, it could be time for a new set of tires, or you may risk sliding around on the road in wet conditions.

 

3 things to watch out for with all this rainy weather

Worn tire down to the tread bar indicators definetly time to change these tires.

3 things to watch out for with all this rainy weather

New tires have deep grooves andsipes to channel water away to keep you safe on the road.

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.

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.

Do you know the street safety rules around school buses?

In Safety by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The school year in Virginia has just begun, and that means that school buses will be back out on the road.

Do YOU know the rules for driving and stopping around school buses?

  1. When you see a school bus stopped with flashing red lights and an extended stop sign on the side of the bus, you must stop your vehicle from any direction, if you are on a highway, private road or school road. You must stay stopped until the area is clear, and the bus is moving again.
  2. If a bus is loading or letting off passengers and the signals are not on, you still must stop.
  3. If you are driving on a road in the opposite direction with a road that has a median or a barrier, and the bus is on the other side, then you do not have to stop.

Make sure to follow the rules of the road and be safe this school year.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire partners with Caarmo on new auto technology in Woodbridge

In Maintenance, Monitoring System, Safety, Service Standards by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire partners with Caarmo on new auto technology in Woodbridge

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire owner ST Billingsley holds a new diagnostic device created by Caarmo in Woodbridge.

 Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire partners with Caarmo on new auto technology in Woodbridge

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire has partnered with Caarmo to bring our customers more information and reliability to their vehicle maintenance.

Steve’s is one of 18 auto repair shops to offer Caarmo’s car diagnostic device, which will give consumers information about their car’s needs and allows them to connect with auto technicians to speak about their car and schedule service.

“One of the biggest expenses that people have is their vehicles. And that can be for businesses or consumers. They spend a lot of money, and a lot of time on them – but they don’t know what’s happening. So we’ve created sort of a really sophisticated ‘Fitbit’ for a car,” said Vinay Raman, CEO of Caarmo.

According to Raman, the device is smaller than a pack of cards, runs off the car’s power and plugs into the diagnostic port in your vehicle to begin transmitting diagnostic information.

“Since 1996, every car in the United States has got this diagnostic port…we use that same port [with our device] but we partner with a repair shop, to help their customers understand more of what’s happening with their vehicle,” said Raman.

One of the biggest benefits for customers is peace of mind that they will have information about what is going on with their vehicle, and that certified technicians will also be keeping an eye on the health of their car.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire partners with Caarmo on new auto technology in Woodbridge

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire owner ST Billingsley places the Caarmo device in a car’s diagnostic port.

“[We put] these devices in the vehicles to let them know, ‘Hey your car is operating just fine’ or if a check engine lights comes on – some people kind of freak out when they see that – we can take a look at that and say, ‘Based on the make and model of your vehicle, let me give you a sense of what’s actually happening.’ It gives you more of a sense of what’s going on than just a light on your dashboard – you have an expert on the phone,” said Raman.

Staff at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire will be able to open their mechanic’s portal at the shop, or use a phone app that will be able available to the shop and customers with the device. From the portal, technicians will be able to see if a customer’s car is in need, call to schedule maintenance, or reassure them that everything’s okay.

“If something goes wrong with one of the vehicles, a light will pop up on the screen…it’s an opportunity to call the customer and give them some peace of mind,” Raman commented.

Consumers will only pay $80 a year for the constant service, and the application will give you diagnostic information, service reminders and GPS tracking.

For those in the auto industry, using Caarmo’s technology is also a good way to work with fleets that need to ensure that their vehicles are functioning properly at all times.

ST Billingsley, owner of Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire, is proud to be partnering with Caarmo.

“We know how important it is to keep our customers informed and on the road. By offering Caarmo devices to our customers, we hope to ensure that their vehicles are getting the best care possible,” said Billingsley.

Steve’s will be offering the technology to customers in the coming months, when Caarmo officially launches the device.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire partners with Caarmo on new auto technology in Woodbridge

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is partnering with Caarmo to create a better car-care experience for customers.