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Need a New Year’s resolution? Take care of your vehicle

In Maintenance, Safety, Windshield Wipers by Stephanie Tipple

Every year, many of us make a commitment to do better than the year that has passed, making New Year’s resolutions that speak to our larger goals – whether that’s getting more sleep, exercising more, or taking care of something we’d like to achieve during the year.

Windshield wiper

While these are all great resolutions, have you thought about making a commitment to taking better care of your vehicle this year?

It’s simpler than it sounds. By committing to invest in some basic maintenance, and getting repair and maintenance work done on a regular basis, you’re not only saving money from a long-term perspective, but you’re also extending out the life of your vehicle as well.

Here are just a few items that will help you make that resolution a reality.

Replace your windshield wipers.

If you’re noticing streaks when you use your windshield wipers, or they’re not effective at clearing things from your windshield, then it’s likely time to replace them.

Windshield wipers keep your windshield clear safety inspection

“There are cheap windshield wipers, and there are expensive windshield wipers. You can get expensive windshield wiper blades, but you should still expect to replace them once a year. You can get cheaper wiper blades, but expect to replace them twice a year,” said Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire own ST Billingsley.

According to Billingsley, your decision on the price point to choose for wiper blades determine on the conditions you’re driving in, and how often you’re driving in your vehicle.

Get your oil changed on a consistent basis.

Everyone knows how important it is to get the oil in your car changed, but it can be a struggle for some to get the oil changed on a regular interval.

Billingsley says that many manufacturers are recommending 7,500 to 10,000 miles between oil changes, depending on the vehicle, but that may not be suitable for cars driving around in Northern Virginia.

“Depending on what kind of oil you use, whether you’re changing the oil filters in between oil changes, and there are many other factors that come into play with these oil change intervals,” said Billingsley.

Headlights Woodbridge Virginia

Even if your car takes synthetic oil, if you’re driving around in Northern Virginia traffic, Billingsley says it’s ideal to do an oil change every 5,000 miles.

“If you’re out in the Midwest and you’re driving mostly on the highway on your way to work, well I could see 7,500 miles being an okay interval, but around here, that’s just a little too far,” said Billingsley.

It’s also a good time to rotate your tires, if you’re getting an oil change at 5,000 mile intervals.

Replace or recondition your headlights.

Over time, the clear coating on your headlights will start to get worn down, and you may notice that the lights look foggy.

“With all of the road salt, dirt, and highway driving, and everything that goes on around here, the plastic headlights lens covers – the clear part – is essentially getting sandblasted all of the time,” said Billingsley.

In some cases you can restore the headlight covers, and there are different levels of restoration.

“Sometimes you get so many micro-cracks in them, you can try to clean them up, but it just doesn’t work that well and you end up needing to replace them,” said Billingsley.

In addition to taking care of the covers, replacing the bulbs after an extended period can make your headlights brighter, adding visibility during night driving or inclement weather.

Commit to taking better care of your car this year, and not only will you save money in the long run, but you’ll also feel better knowing you’re adding reliability to your drive, and extending the life of your vehicle.

Challenges you can face when off-roading in your Jeep & how to be prepared

In Battery, Cabin Air Filter, Cooling System, Fuel System, Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Jeep

Jeep overheating problem water pump

If you own a Jeep and enjoy off-roading, then make sure your vehicle is prepared.

Jeep running problem after going through water getting into air intake

“Driving Jeep Wranglers, or any kind of Jeep is fun – especially going off-roading – but one of the things that you have to be aware of is where the air intake is on a lot of these Jeeps,” said Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire owner ST Billingsley.

According to Billingsley, most intake systems are behind the right headlight of the Jeep, and this can be the source of some issues after your off-roading trip.

“So, as you’re driving through a creek, or going through a pond or something like that, and the water starts coming up over that hood, well you know you have a chance of getting that water sucked up in the intake, and if the water goes through too much it can actually damage the engine,” said Billingsley.

Jeep water and mud soaks the air filter causing rough running

You could also see a reduction in your vehicle’s power because the air filter is wet or has mud in it, or it has impacted the connectors to the car’s computer system.

“The computer on that is actually bolted right on the firewall, right next to the battery, so it’s another place that gets a lot of water and mud,” said Billingsley.

Other issues include water and mud on the ignition coils, and overheating with your radiator, as the fans struggle and can’t get air through the radiator, because of mud and water that is stuck. Your water pump can also suffer through similar struggles.

While it may sound bleak, there are things you can do to prepare your Jeep for off-roading, and hopefully prevent some of the issues you could run into.

Jeep battery electrical issues after water damage off roading

“If you are going through creeks or are off-roading, where you can get a lot of dirt and mud inside your vehicle, you want to pay attention to the radiator and wash it out. Also, if you’re going to be going through deep water, you may want to get an air intake relocation kit – you can run a tube up that runs out to the top of the windshield so it gives it an air intake, like a snorkel,” said Billingsley.

Are you buying a “flood car”? Warning signs and how to avoid it

In Inspection, Maintenance, Safety by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle beware of “flood cars,” especially following the devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

“‘Flood cars’ are one of the things we saw after 2008, was that the Midwest had their big floods out there through Missouri and Iowa…and Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana,” said Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire Owner ST Billingsley.

Flood cars are vehicles that have been salvaged from disaster areas, which are cleaned up, auctioned, and resold to often unsuspecting consumers across the United States. And in some cases, these cars have clean CarFaxes that don’t even have information about the flood water damage in the vehicle, making it difficult for buyers to make an informed decision.

“There are places that do a really good job of cleaning them up, even to where you can’t even smell where water’s been in it,” said Billingsley.

And buying one of these flood cars can be a costly mistake.

“They have the car, it looks good, it’s what they wanted – and then they’re frustrated because they’re going to the mechanic all the time because of these weird issues,” said Billingsley.

Buyers of these cars will run into issues like their car battery going dead for no apparent reason, the car horn blaring or the doors locking sporadically, rust, and other electrical problems – sometimes intermittently.

According to Billingsley, this is a result of water getting into the wire harness and shorting out terminals and fuse boxes in the car.

“Especially with the way these cars are computer controlled – all of the electronics – there are multiple fuse boxes in all of these vehicles. Some are low, some are high up in the car. When that water sits in there, corrosion starts to build up,” said Billingsley.

While it may be difficult, there are ways to tell if the car you’re interested in may be a flood car.

“When you have the car up in the air, and having somebody looking for items like this…if you just bent down to look, you wouldn’t necessarily see any dirt or any water lines,” said Billingsley.

Trained technicians can spot residual mud and dirt, as well as waterlines underneath the dash, if they have the vehicle up on the rack. There are also voltage tests and related components that can be tested to determine if the car is working properly.

Want to avoid buying a costly flood car? Taking a car you’re interested in to a shop like Steve’s Auto for a pre-purchase inspection is an important step. Our qualified technicians will fully inspect the vehicle from top to bottom, noting any issues or potential issues, and make sure you’ve got as much information as possible as you decide whether or not to continue with the purchasing process.

Goodyear Tire Assurance Comfortred Touring Tire All-season

In Tires and Wheels by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Goodyear Tire Assurance Comfortred 

Goodyear Tire makes many different kinds of tires. If you are looking for an all-season tire that’s comfortable on the road? Then take a look at Goodyear’s Assurance ComforTred Touring tire.

The tire is all-season, so it holds up in a range of weather conditions; even light snow – and is built with comfort in mind.

“It’s actually a very comfortable tire – it offers 20% more cushion for your typical passenger car,” said Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire owner Scott Whitling.

The Goodyear Assurance Comfortred absorbent rubber layer helps to reduce road vibration.  The symmetric tread design not only enhances the traction of the tire, but helps to reduce road noise. This helps to make your drive more smooth and comfortable.

Goodyear Tire

Goodyear Assurance Comfort Tire All Season

Not only do you get the powerful traction on wet surfaces that the Assurance line offers. These tires also have ComfortEdge sidewalls that allow for more comfortable handling.

The Assurance ComforTred Touring also has a polyester cord body and twin steel belts. This enhances the durability and extends the life of the tire.

Steve’s Auto is proud to be a Goodyear tire dealer, and we carry a full range of Goodyear tires in stock.

We offer tire alignment services, and our team is happy to help you select the product that’s right for you and your vehicle.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire donates CR-V to NOVA automotive program

In Community Involvement by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

This week, Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire donated a manual transmission Honda CR-V to Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) automotive program.

“This donation from Steve’s Automotive will greatly enhance our automotive program because it’s hard to get vehicles with manual transmissions,” said NOVA Automotive Instructor Gary Phares.

Steve’s has donated several other vehicles to the NOVA program over the years.

Steve’s owner ST Billingsley also serves on the NOVA Advisory Committee as a representative of the automotive industry.

“We get donations wherever we can, so we can have a variety of automobiles to teach our automotive students. In our classes, they’re set up as 50% lecture and 50% hands on. So with this, students that are working in Honda dealerships can actually do their hands on training,” said Phares.

According to Phares, NOVA offers certificate and degree programs for indiivduals that want to work in the automotive industry.

“Right now there’s a huge shortage of automotive technicians in the field and I try to encourage students to go on and finish a two year degree,” said Phares.