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.

It’s that time of year: switching from summer to winter tires

In Tires and Wheels by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

It’s that time of year: switching from summer to winter tires

Michelin Xice xi3/ snow tires

The weather is getting colder, and any day now there’s going to be snow on the ground. You know that driving in the snow can be a hassle, and sometimes even dangerous. And just like you change over from your summer wardrobe to your winter wardrobe, you need to swap out your tires for the season.

Summer tires have a lot of advantages. If you have a performance vehicle, like a BMW or an Audi, then you’re going to want a quality set of summer tires to get more traction and tread for the best response when turning and braking on the road. And while summer tires are created to handle rain, hot pavement, and other summer weather factors, they’re not going to be able to perform nearly as well on slick and icy roads.

Many drivers opt for an all-season tire, because – as the name implies – all-season tires are built to be used in all seasons. All-season tires are designed to stand up to many weather conditions, across the seasons, but they’re no substitute for winter or snow tires, particularly if you’re in an area where there’s a moderate to severe amount of snowfall each winter.

Winter tires are created to perform in icy and snowy driving conditions, and provide the maximum amount of traction and grip on the roads. When you need reliability and you want to ensure safety out there on the roads this

It’s that time of year: switching from summer to winter tires

BF Goodrich performance tire

winter, the best way to make sure that happens is to have a set of quality winter tires on your vehicle. Winter tires have the ability to perform on drive pavement, but they’re designed with inclement weather in mind. That extra traction is going to give you extra stopping time when braking, and when you’re driving around other vehicles, and you start to slide, those extra couple of feet can make a major difference in the outcome.

So when it comes to the safety and reliability of your vehicle in every season, making sure you have a set of summer and winter tires to alternate between the seasons is an excellent idea. At Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire we have technicians and staff that can answer all of your questions about the different types of tires, and which ones work best for your vehicle in all seasons, and all weather.

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.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire donates minivan to NOVA automotive program

In Community Involvement by Stephanie Tipple

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire donates minivan to NOVA automotive program

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire donated a minivan and automotive parts to NOVA’s auto program.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire was proud to donate a minivan and automotive parts to the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Automotive program, based out of Manassas.

“Steve’s has been loading the van up with starters and air conditioning compressors…a half shaft, a steering rack,” said Gary Phares, an automotive instructor at (NOVA).

According to another automotive instructor at NOVA, John Hicks, the program currently has 150 students in day and night classes.

“We train in all eight areas of ASE [certification]…brakes, alignments, suspension, electrical, AC, engine repair, engine performance, automatic transmission, manual transmission,” said Hicks.

At NOVA there is a 2 year automotive degree program, or a one year certificate program with job placement assistance.

While the program is popular, Hicks and Phares said that they rely mainly on donations from automotive shops, like Steve’s, to get parts they need.

“We use a variety of things in the program, so it’s not so much a question on what we need, it’s what can we get…we pretty much rely on donations,” said Hicks.

Phares said there is especially need for manual transmissions and manual transmission vehicles.

The instructors will pick up any vehicles or parts that are donated to the program, according to Phares.

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 donates to Hilda Barg homeless shelter in Woodbridge

In Community Involvement by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire donates to Hilda Barg homeless shelter in Woodbridge

Hilda Barg Homeless Prevention Center in Woodbridge Virginia.

ST Billingsley, owner of Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire, visited the Hilda Barg Homeless Prevention Center in Woodbridge.

After hearing that the shelter was in dire need of pillows for its residents, Billingsley wanted to help.

“Being a part of the community is important to us, and we always want to help when we can. We’re proud at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire to be able to donate these pillows and help out residents in need,” said Billingsley.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire donates to Hilda Barg homeless shelter in Woodbridge

Delivering pillows to the Hilda Barg Homeless Prevention Shelter.

He went to deliver a month’s worth of pillows to the volunteers at the shelter, who were very excited about the donation.

“You don’t realize you need things like that, until you don’t have them,” said a shelter volunteer.

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.

Why do auto repair shops not want to use my own parts?

In Shop Talk by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Why do auto repair shops not want to use my own parts?

Brake pads and rotors from Car Quest are to original equipment specifications

Keeping your car well maintained is important. And for some people, letting a technician isn’t enough – they want to take the extra step and order their own parts and really be a part of the process. And while that effort is appreciated, there are several reasons why many auto repair shops will not install parts that you bring to them when you’re getting your vehicle serviced.

The easiest way to explain why is to give you some example scenarios.

Why do auto repair shops not want to use my own parts?

Alternator and Air Filter from a quality aftermarket parts supplier

Let’s say you order your water pump and timing belt off of the internet or purchase them at a

local parts supply house.  When you bring in your parts, you are feeling all happy because you feel like you just saved yourself some money. In this scenario, let’s pretend we agree to install your parts.

One of our technicians gets your car into the bay, and sets it up on the lift. We go to install your part – but oh, wait –the water pump does not fit. Then you’re in a position where we’ve begun labor, and now you’re stuck with a part that doesn’t fit, waiting for days or weeks until you can get the appropriate part from an internet parts retailer or taking time to run back and forth to the parts store to complete the job, all the while the car is stuck in the repair shops bay.

Why do auto repair shops not want to use my own parts?

Genuine GM parts from the dealer

Or say, maybe we installed that part, and six months down the road, you return to our shop and say the water pump and timing belt we installed are making noise and are not working properly. If we had installed your parts – and not our own – then you aren’t covered with the 2 year, 24,000 mile warranty that we offer our customers with our parts. And while yes we do need to sell auto parts in order to keep our shop open, another important reason why we do that is so we can offer the great warranty on the parts.

In this scenario, you would now be paying our shop two times for the same job to be performed, and overall you haven’t saved any money.

Now let’s look at another scenario so you can better understand the hazard of using your own parts, instead of an auto repair shop’s parts.

Why do auto repair shops not want to use my own parts?

Radiator for a Nissan from an aftermarket parts supplier

Say you call the shop to get a price on replacing an oxygen sensor.  You say you have been to a local auto parts house and have the code and they say it’s your oxygen sensor. You are asking us to put in the part that you have, and go off of another person’s word that this will fix your problem with the check engine light.

Then comes in the fact that as an auto repair shop, we absorb the liability when you walk out the door with your car keys in hand. If you were to have someone install a customer supplied part and it’s wrong, it could cost cause further car problems, an accident, or even put your safety at risk.

Why do auto repair shops not want to use my own parts?

Radiator cap from an overseas parts supplier

When you allow us to diagnose and replace the parts that we purchase we are guaranteeing your money is well spent.  If the part fails, you will not be paying labor again, nor will you be paying for the part. We as a company have to absorb the expense when a part fails within its warranty time and that is why we use quality parts from our trusted parts suppliers.