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Subframe replacement on Volkswagen Beetle

In Alignment by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

At times, you can’t tell that there is a problem with a car just by looking at it. An issue may not be found until it’s brought into an auto repair shop.

This was what happened with a Volkswagen Beetle our Woodbridge mechanics recently worked on. It had slid into a curb on the rear left side, and the driver wanted to have the vehicle checked out.

When you were looking at it, the car didn’t appear to have any problems. However, once it was put up on the alignment machine, you could see that the caster and camber in the rear were out of specification. Caster refers to how the tires are angled toward the front or rear of a vehicle, and camber means how they are angled in or out. There were no more adjustments that we could do to compensate for it.

Taking a quick glance at the subframe, it didn’t look like it was damaged that much. But if you look at the side-to-side picture, you can see where – from the impact – the paint is chipped and it looks a bit rusty. That’s why, in this particular case, subframe replacement was needed to bring everything back into the correct specifications.

Subframe replacement process

Sometimes, you can adjust the toe – which is how far to the left or right the tires are from a car’s center – on the rear of these vehicles. Some vehicles even have different kits you can put in as a lower control arm or upper control arm that have built in adjustments. But not all the time. This one is just a standard lower control arm, springs, upper control arm that keeps everything in alignment.

In this particular case, the subframe bolts to the bottom of the chassis and all of the components – such as the upper control arm, lower control arm, springs, tie rod ends, steering knuckles, and even all the brackets for the brake lines and (Anti-lock Braking System) ABS sensor wiring – are attached to the subframe of this Volkswagen Beetle.

Fortunately, it has a rear subframe, which is replaceable. Some vehicles don’t have that. Yes, this project was a little bit of work, but that made it easier to bring it back into correct specifications.

When and why to get regular wheel alignmentssubframe replacement

This is another reason why you should get your wheel alignment checked every year, especially here in Northern Virginia. With the conditions of the roads, the potholes, the constant construction that’s going on, you would be surprised by how much of a hit your suspension takes in day-to-day driving.

Other than annually, we recommend car alignments when new tires are installed or suspension work is performed.

You should also get it checked if your vehicle feels like it’s pulling to one side, you notice that the tires are wearing unevenly, or the steering wheel appears to be crooked.

Tire alignments are beneficial in several ways. In addition to preventing premature tire wear, this process can help improve a car’s fuel economy and ensures that its steering capability is correct.

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 alignments: How are they beneficial?

In Alignment by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

If you have been driving for a while and been responsible for making sure your vehicle is taken care of, you may have heard the term “wheel alignment” mentioned. 

It may have been a service that was recommended to you when you bought new tires, or after you hit a curb or pothole.

But what are car alignments? And what is the point behind them? 

An alignment is a form of maintenance where we look at a few specifications – caster, camber and toe. Our Woodbridge mechanics use a new wheel alignment machine that we purchased last year.

This maintenance service is beneficial in several ways.

How car alignments are beneficial

Increases fuel efficiency: With how expensive gas prices can be, it’s worth it to look into ways that you can improve your vehicle’s fuel economy. Tires that are correctly lined up with a car don’t have as much rolling resistance. Less rolling resistance equals better fuel efficiency. Tires tend to drag if they aren’t aligned right, resulting in more tire wear and reduced fuel efficiency.

Prevents tires from wearing unevenly: The tread should be the same across the tire. Having tire alignments performed regularly prevents tires from wearing more on one side or area than another.

Enables tires to last: Alignments also help you get the most out of your tires. A high quality tire will take you at least 45,000 miles, depending on the tire quality, the materials, and the manufacturer. Because tires experience wear and tear on a daily basis, they should receive an annual checkup in the form of tire alignments.

Makes sure the steering capability is right: We recommend an alignment for cars that are having new steering and suspension components installed. Through this process, adjustments can change. So, it’s a good idea to double check this as well as your vehicle’s ability to steer.

Helps safety features work correctly: Does your vehicle use park assist, collision avoidance, or blind spot detection? In order for certain safety features to work right, a vehicle’s alignment needs to be correct. When performing a tire alignment on cars with Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS), our technicians must reprogram parameters after the alignment has been conducted.

How do you know if you need an alignment?

Car alignments offer quite a few perks, but how do you know when you need one? As we have mentioned, it’s a good idea to have this service done once a year, when you get new tires, and after suspension work is performed. 

However, a wheel alignment may also be needed if you notice various indicators, like a car that pulls to one side or the other. Keep in mind that this is also a sign of a bad tire. The road may be causing this to occur, as well. Other symptoms of a bad wheel alignment include the tires wearing unevenly and the steering wheel appearing off-center or crooked.

Have you noticed any of these indicators or any abnormal sounds or behaviors? If so, it may be worth your while to contact a nearby auto repair shop or mechanic.

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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Steve’s Auto Repair upgrades ADAS calibration system

In Alignment by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire in Woodbridge, Virginia just upgraded their Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) recalibration alignment system. 

This is used to align camera systems, lane assist, park assist, collision avoidance, emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. 

Many vehicles use ADAS today and resets are sometimes needed while services are being performed. We invested in the complete ADAS system last year.

ADAS calibration

In our recent upgrade, we received a CCD camera system for aligning the calibration machine to the car. 

If you’re getting an ADAS calibration, it’s important to check the alignment to make sure it’s within specifications, allowing the sensors and radars to work correctly. 

The upgrade enables our technicians to check the alignment right there with the ADAS system, rather than moving to a separate bay and having the alignment checked. If everything is within specifications, we can move forward with the ADAS calibration, which saves us a lot of time.

Setting up these ADAS calibration machines can be quite difficult and time consuming. Through the upgrade, we are able to put targets on the wheels of the vehicle and find the center line more quickly than before. It’s reducing our time from 15 to 25 minutes a set up to 2 minutes. In addition to saving time, it’s also more accurate. 

When having windshields replaced, body panels replaced, the bumper removed for maintenance work – which is required for a lot of vehicles – or electrical components changed, it’s important to make sure the ADAS system has been recalibrated so that the vehicle will be able to operate in a safe manner. 

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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New wheel alignment machine purchased by Steve’s Auto Repair

In Alignment by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Improvements are consistently being made to technology today.

This includes the car industry, where vehicles are receiving more updated software and systems.

To service modern day cars, Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is upgrading its equipment.

It invested in a new wheel alignment machine that offers many perks for the Woodbridge-based business.

The Hoffman Geo Aligner 770 is much faster than our older equipment. It used to take 3 or 4 minutes to get the center readings, a task that should now take about 90 seconds.

We also have access to Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs), with the system receiving automatic updates.

“That way when new vehicles hit the market or there are updates on the alignment angles, we automatically get those updates so we’re not a year or two behind,” Steve’s Auto Repair Owner Scott Whitling explained. 

The machine uses ultra high resolution cameras, an upgrade from the standard resolution on our previous aligner.

“So the technology has definitely gotten a lot better throughout the years,” Michael Kneller from MP Equipment said.

Instead of simply taking pictures, the new wheel alignment machine provides a video of the targets. 

This allows the technician to make adjustments based on live footage, rather than waiting for the equipment to catch up.

Vehicles with Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) can be used on the Hoffman Geo Aligner 770. 

Blind spot detection, emergency braking, park assist and surround view are some parts of ADAS. Steve’s Auto Repair invested in the complete ADAS system last year.

A first step in calibrating the systems is ensuring the wheel alignment is correct.

“When you enter a vehicle into the system before you begin your alignment, the system will tell you all necessary systems that may need to be reset or calibrated to give an accurate alignment,” Kneller explained. 

One of the systems includes the steering wheel angle sensor, which gives the computer input from the driver how fast they’re turning the steering wheel.

The machine will also share frame dimensions and tell you if a car has a bad tire, which would need to be taken care of before the alignment is performed. 

The report can be retrieved as a PDF, helping a shop go paperless.  

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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Steve’s Auto Repair and Tire: Who we are and what we do

In Alignment, Inspection, Maintenance, Tires and Wheels by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire has been serving the Woodbridge area for more than 32 years.

We are located at 2603 Hanco Center Drive – off Route 1 and Neabsco Mills Road – and provide a variety of services to meet your vehicle’s needs.

Services offered at Steve’s Auto Repair

State inspections and emissions inspections are among the services we offer.

Our technicians also perform oil changes and tune ups, and take care of your check engine light if it turns on.

During oil changes, they conduct mini state inspections. We will look over your vehicle and point out anything that may be a safety issue, a maintenance issue, or a service we recommend based on its mileage.

If you notice a strange noise or your car is acting strange, we can help with that too.

Steve’s Auto Repair is also able to service vehicles that use Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS), including camera and targeted systems.

To keep you updated while your car is at the shop, our technicians perform digital inspections that provide you with photos, videos and information about repairs and recommendations.

Tires and tire services available

Steve’s Auto Repair is an authorized Goodyear Tire dealer. If you’re driving on or past Neabsco Mills Road, you may notice our big Goodyear sign.

We also sell other types of tires, including Kelly, Dunlop and Hankook.

If you’re looking for new tires, our staff is happy to help you find the right fit for your vehicle and budget.

In addition to selling tires, we do mounting, balancing, tire rotations and tire repair.

Our technicians perform wheel alignments, as well.

Pick up and drop off services

There are many ways you can drop off your car for service.

“You can either drop it off in the night owl night service or you can come into the office during hours that we’re open,” Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire Owner Scott Whitling said. 

We are open between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Staff members are also available to meet you in the parking lot and collect the keys and information.

Need a ride? We also have a free shuttle service that can pick you up or drop you off.

A pick up and delivery service is available, as well. Please give us a call to arrange it.

More about Steve’s Auto Repair

Some repair shops try to hit you for everything at once, because they are concerned you won’t come back.

We want to give a good evaluation of your car, so you know what condition it’s in. We don’t care about getting the sale today, we want to take care of you and your family for many years.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is a family-owned business. 

We support local non-profits and believe in the importance of giving back to our community.

“If you’ve been here before, we really appreciate you coming,” Whitling said. “If you haven’t been here, please give us a try.”

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.