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State Inspections piece by Steve’s Auto Repair owner published

In Inspection by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

State inspections and whether they are necessary has been heavily discussed by Virginia lawmakers and those working in the automotive industry.

This topic is the focus of an article that was published by InsideNOVA earlier this month.

The Northern Virginia media outlet shared an opinion piece by Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire Co-Owner ST Billingsley. 

Titled “State Inspections help keep local drivers safe,” the guest column talks about why the annual requirement is important.

One out of five vehicles didn’t pass the safety inspection in Virginia in 2018, according to Keep Virginia Roads Safe. Of those that failed, 78 percent had infractions associated with steering and suspension components. There were braking violations on 44 percent of the automobiles, and tire infringements on 41 percent of them. 

Vehicles, the article explained, can have issues without drivers being aware of them. If those problems aren’t addressed, they can jeopardize the safety of the drivers, their passengers, and others.

The number of deaths on highways rose in states that got rid of safety programs, such as South Carolina and Florida.

In the opinion piece, Billingsley also encouraged drivers to have their vehicle inspected each year, and avoid using cars that haven’t received regular maintenance or been checked over by an automotive professional.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Car heater blowing cold air

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

If you’re like me, you have or are getting ready to turn the heat on during your morning commute.

When you do it the first couple of times this season, you may notice a couple of problems.

A burning smell is one of them. This can happen if dirt kicks up in an area that hasn’t been used in a while. But if the issue persists, you should have it checked out at a repair shop near you.

The car heater blowing cold air is another common problem, which can stem from several underlying issues. These reasons include:

  • Low on coolant
  • Heater core problems
  • Thermostat not working
  • Blocked or broken heater control  

We will provide a deeper explanation about each possible cause below.

Low on coolant

A car heater not blowing hot air can occur when a vehicle’s coolant level is low. Coolant helps ensure that the engine temperature doesn’t get too high and prevents issues, like your car overheating. The warm air you feel when you turn on your heat is generated by hot coolant from the engine. If the right amount of coolant isn’t in the system – typically the result of a coolant leak – the heater won’t function correctly.

Heater core problems

We mentioned earlier that hot coolant is needed to warm up a vehicle. The heater core is also a necessary part of this process. A car heater not working could be caused by a bad heater core or if the heater core is leaking. Bad heater core symptoms include the vents blowing cold air, and fog on the windows or in the front seats. Debris called “scale” could also be blocking this component, preventing coolant from making it into the heater core.

Thermostat not working

If a car heater isn’t doing its job, there may be a problem with the thermostat, which opens and closes based on the coolant’s temperature. A bad thermostat may cause the engine to become too hot or too cold and lead to the car heater blowing cold air.

Blocked or broken heater control

Another possible issue is a blocked or broken heater control. For a heater control problem, it can be a few things. With today’s vehicles having a lot of electronics in them, there are “mode door actuators,” which are little electric motors that move a little door back and forth. That allows the air to go through the heater core, or not, and helps adjust the temperature. You can also have a blend door sensor made out of plastic that can break and won’t move, only allowing you to feel cold air. You can also have problems with heater control cables on some of the older vehicles. Blockages may occur in the air distribution box – where the heater core is located – as well. Mouse nests, papers and other items can prevent air from making it to the heater core.

The type of car heater repair needed varies for each problem. Our technicians are able to perform diagnostic testing and replace the parts needed to address it.

Sometimes, if the heater core needs to be replaced the whole dash of the vehicle must be removed. This can take a little bit of time, so if you need a new heater core plan to be without your car for one to three days.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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After hours pick up offered at Steve’s Auto Repair

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

When you’re having work done on your car at a local auto repair shop, a bit of planning may be needed to bring the vehicle by or pick it up. 

Steve’s Auto Repair has a few different pick up and drop off options to make it easier for customers.

Some drivers can’t pick up their vehicle while we’re open. For that reason, we are now providing an alternative – our after hours key return.

This option allows you to acquire your car keys without having to worry about them being left in an unlocked vehicle.

After hours pick up option

If you are unable to come by between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, you may pay for any repairs or services through text or email. 

Once the payment has been processed, you will receive a code to use in our after hours key return. This will allow you to get your key.

When you are available, swing by Steve’s Auto Repair, which is located at 2603 Hanco Center Drive in Woodbridge. Then, type the code into the after hours key return.

By offering this after hours pick up option, we hope to make it easier for you to get back on the road.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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How brake problem can cause AC problem and act like engine problem

In Brakes by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Squeaking, grinding and squealing sounds are normally associated with needing new brakes.

The steering wheel may also start shaking. (You can read more about when to get new brake pads and rotors in this article.)

However, sometimes a brake problem can be disguised as something else.

The other week, we worked on a vehicle that seemed to have an engine problem and the air conditioning was being impacted.

One of our technicians worked his dad’s 2009 Chevy Malibu. It was experiencing problems when it was driven for 30 minutes or longer at around 45 miles per hour, especially on hot days. The A/C would stop working and the vehicle would feel as though it was running rough or stumbling. 

How we diagnosed the brake problem

Our tech had driven it back and forth during his lunch break but wasn’t able to duplicate the issue. 

The other day, his dad brought it by the shop when he noticed it was occurring again. The Chevy was driven up the street and – when it hit 35 or 40 mph – there appeared to be a misfire. On top of that, the engine seemed like it wasn’t producing enough power and there was shaking coming from the front end. The mechanic noticed a sort of pulsation, as well.

After pulling over on the side of the road, he pressed on the gas and it took a great deal of effort for the car to accelerate. He could tell there was a braking issue.

It was a very odd situation – the engine felt like it was lacking power, but the brake pads were trying to bite down on spots of the rotor, causing a symptom that resembled a misfire. No codes were being stored, the check engine light wasn’t turning on.

brake problem

We think the vehicle was attempting to accelerate while the gas pedal was pressed, and it cut off the air conditioning to provide more power. 

When the technician returned to Steve’s Auto Repair, he could smell burning brakes. Using a temperature gun, he checked each of the wheels and found that the left front one was much hotter than the rest. In fact, the temperature of the front left wheel was off the charts. This occurred because the caliper was locking up and trying to apply the brakes even when the driver wasn’t stepping on the brake pedal.

Orange and white discoloration around the pads and the reddish hue on the rotors are some signs that the brakes are getting too hot. 

To address the issue, the front brake pads, rotors, calipers and brake hoses were replaced. 

If you were looking to save yourself some money, you could replace one of the brakes. However, we like to change them as a set.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Is it a dead battery or a bad alternator?

In Battery by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

If you’re having some starting issues or your car seems sluggish or cranking a little slow in the morning, it could be a sign of a dead battery.

Making sure the battery cables aren’t corroded is one quick step you can take. That could not only affect the power coming out of the battery but also the alternator’s ability to charge it.

While the car’s running and as you’re driving, the alternator is there to produce all of the electricity for your accessories and charge up the battery.

If the cells in the battery are going bad, or the battery terminals are corroded, or there’s a wiring issue,  it can impact the battery’s ability to be fully charged. So, when you go out the next morning it might crank but it may feel a tad slow. That’s a really good sign to get your vehicle’s electrical system checked. 

dead battery

Problems with the alternator

When you’re driving down the road, especially as you’re hitting 1,500 rpm to 2,500 rpm, your alternator is going to produce about 14.2 volts. 

It can reach up to 15 or 16 volts, but if it’s getting too high all the time that can cause problems. You also don’t want it too low. 

An alternator may not be bad enough to turn on the battery indicator light on the dashboard, because it’s charging 12.8 or 12.9 volts. It’s enough to keep everything running during the day, but when you have the lights and windshield wipers on at night and you park in your parking spot, it’s really not enough to charge the battery like it should be.

When you’re starting to notice any of these symptoms, bring it to an auto repair shop near you and have a full electrical test performed. A lot of places will only do a voltage test or check the status of the battery at that time. 

The battery could be low on water. But you don’t want to just use tap water. Instead electrolyte water for batteries – or at least distilled water – should be used.

If it’s a sealed battery, well there’s nothing else to really check. You also want to check the charging system and the amperage. A lot of these quick testers that many places use don’t test the amperage. So, you’re almost missing half of the information. A good tester would be able to check the capacitance of the battery, the alternator, and the amperage of the alternator.

It’s important to consider the age of the battery, as well. When you hit 5 to 7 years on a battery – especially if it’s a 5-year-battery – it is time to change it. 

Extremely cold and hot temperatures is one of the factors that can cause a car battery to fail. So, why take a chance when winter time is coming?

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.