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Mileage-based services: what does your car need and when?

In Alignment, Battery, Cabin Air Filter, Maintenance, Shocks and Struts by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The lifespans of vehicles have lengthened over the years, which means that drivers are keeping them for extended periods of time.

To ensure that your car lasts as long as possible, it requires maintenance. After a period of time or as a vehicle reaches a specific mileage, certain tasks are recommended.

Some mileage-based services include flushes, replacing parts, and tune-up related items.

Year-based car maintenance

Every 3 to 5 years

Battery replacement is normally needed around every 5 years for good batteries. How long a car battery lasts can be impacted by the quality, type and size. Where you buy it from is another factor.

Worn tire on a Honda Pilot.No longer than 8 to 10 years

If it’s been 8 to 10 years since you last purchased tires, it’s time to invest in new ones. Depending on where you live, weather conditions and how you drive, your car may need new tires sooner.

Tires tread depth must be at least 2/32 of an inch. There shouldn’t be any chords showing or cracks in the sidewall

Mileage-based services

Every 3,000 to 5,000 miles

Oil changes on many vehicles should typically be performed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. We know that some manufacturers are recommending them every 10,000 to 15,000 miles or when the oil service light turns on. If you want to keep your vehicle for a long time, you may want to choose synthetic oil and have it changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

It’s a good idea to have tire rotations done every 5,000 miles, too. This service is a part of our oil change process.

Dirty cabin air filter on a Toyota Highlander.Between 10,000 and 20,000 miles

The lifespan of cabin air filters is normally 10,000 to 20,000 miles. This is determined by the kind of vehicle you have and the driving conditions.

How long air filters last vary, as well. They are among the components we check during oil changes. Air filter replacement can be suggested upon inspection or per the manufacturer’s guidelines. They could last somewhere around 10,000 or 15,000 miles.

Every 15,000 miles

Ram 3500 receiving a wheel alignment.It’s a good idea to have wheel alignments conducted once a year or every 15,000 miles. This service is also suggested when you purchase new tires and following any needed suspension repairs.

Tire balances and GDI induction services should be performed every 15,000 miles, too.

Every 30,000 miles

A few mileage-based services are needed every 30,000 miles. This can differ among vehicles and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Typically, every 30,000 miles is the suggested frequency for brake fluid exchanges, coolant fluid exchanges, transmission fluid exchanges, power steering fluid exchanges, and fuel induction services.

If you want to receive some sort of extended warranty, you may want to start earlier than what the manufacturer suggests.

When a vehicle has between 50,000 and 100,000 miles

Worn struts on a Toyota Camry.

Worn struts on a Toyota Camry

When your car has between 50,000 and 60,000 miles on it, we recommend taking a look at shocks and struts. 

Depending on the vehicle, you may need to replace them as soon as 50,000 to 60,000 miles. Generally, you change these suspension parts between 75,000 and 100,000 miles.

When a car gets to 100,000 miles

Cracking serpentine belt on a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Cracking serpentine belt on a Jeep Grand Cherokee

If a car’s serpentine belts haven’t been replaced by the time it reaches 100,000 miles, now is a good time to do so. Also called “drive belts”, serpentine belts go around various engine components, including alternators and water pumps.

Any original spark plugs should be changed, as well. Swapping out spark plugs when needed helps improve a vehicle’s operation and extends the lifespan of subsystems.

After 100,000 miles

After a vehicle hits 100,000 miles, it’s important to keep up with the mileage-based services needed every 15,000, 20,000 and 30,000 miles. The manufacturers will have different recommendations.

Wherever you have your car worked on, make sure that the mechanic or auto repair shop is aware of what maintenance it needs and when.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located near Dumfries, 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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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.

Impact damage on a subframe vs a good subframe.

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.New subframe.

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.

Lower control arm and coil spring.

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 alignmentsArrow pointing to subframe.

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. 

ADAS calibration process

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.

Features of our new wheel alignment machine

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.