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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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Winter car safety tips

In Battery, Brakes, Cooling System, Fluids, Headlamps, Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Today is the first day of winter.

Following a few winter car safety tips can help protect you on road trips, while you run errands, and anything in between.

Make sure your car is up-to-date on maintenance services.

Battery, brakes and belts

Car battery test on a BMW 328i.It’s a good idea to have a battery test performed, because weak car batteries are more likely to die during very hot and cold times of the year.

You should also ask an automotive expert to take a look at the timing belt – which surrounds pulleys – and the serpentine belt – which wraps around engine components.

Measuring brakes on a Toyota Sienna.

Measuring brakes on a Toyota Sienna

The brake system needs to be working correctly, as well. This includes the brake pads and rotors, calipers, brake hardware, and anti-lock braking system (ABS).

For a vehicle to operate safely, pads and rotors must be at 2/32 of an inch or more. If the red brake light or ABS light turn on, bring it to a shop or a mechanic as soon as possible.

Taking care of your windshield is also critical. Windshield wipers should be replaced if they are torn or leave streaks, making it difficult to see. Using washer fluid with the right temperature protection level helps prevent it from freezing.

More winter car safety tips

Other components we recommend getting inspected are:

  • Car lights
  • Coolant and other fluids
  • Tires and tire pressure

Cloudy headlight lenses on a Volkswagen Jetta.Winter is made up of shorter nights, rainy days, and snowy conditions. To help prevent accidents, car lights need to be checked regularly. When needed, replace any bad bulbs for headlights, brake lights, reverse lights, and fog lights. 

Headlights can grow foggy, and headlight restoration can be used to clear them up. Depending on how long you plan to keep your vehicle, it might be best to just replace the headlight assemblies.

Low coolant on a Hyundai Elantra.

Low coolant on a Hyundai Elantra

It’s important to keep an eye on a car’s fluids, as well. This includes the oil, coolant, transmission fluid, windshield washer fluid, and power steering fluid.

Fluid that’s lower than normal may be a symptom of a leak. If certain fluids – like power steering fluid – appear dark, your vehicle could be telling you it’s time to replace them.

If an auto repair shop performs a coolant fluid exchange or tops off your coolant, make sure they put in the right kind

Coolant can be blue, red, purple, pink, orange or green. The type a car uses depends on the metal used for the engine.

Checking the tires is another one of our winter car safety tips.

Has it been a while since you purchased tires? Is the tread getting close to 3/32 of an inch or 4/32 of an inch? It may be time to invest in new tires. Goodyear Tire and Kelly Tire produce all season options. Winter tires are also available.

You should also ensure that they have the right amount of air. As the temperatures dip, tire pressure decreases. Driving on low tires can impact their lifespan.

Many vehicles are equipped with a tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS). If yours is, be watchful for the TPMS light, which may turn on if one or multiple tires don’t have enough air.

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

Bad alternator.

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. 

Tests and dead battery replacement

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.

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Replacing battery pack cooling fan on Toyota Prius

In Battery by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

We’re seeing more hybrid vehicles on the road today.

Like other cars, they come with their own benefits and drawbacks.

One common problem lies with the cooling fan for the battery pack, which can wear out.

This component does have vent tubes coming in and out to help direct the air around the battery pack and outside the vehicle. 

Cooling fan problems

Cooling fan.Generally, when there’s a problem with the cooling fan, the check engine light will turn on and there will be a code for the hybrid battery pack cooling system. The lifespan varies, with some beginning to go bad as soon as three years. Typically, they last between five and eight years.

The cooling fan going bad isn’t a big issue. It’s not overly expensive to fix, but you do want to use high quality parts. This is not a time where you should use aftermarket parts. It needs to be functioning correctly so everything is working with the computer.

One of the things to watch out for is people carrying stuff in their vehicle, whether they’re going to Lowe’s and mulch gets spilled there, or lots of papers and clothes pile up. Depending on where it is and how packed it gets, the clutter can block some vents and impact the vehicle’s ability to cool the battery pack.

On the back of the Toyota Prius, you can see both batteries. You have the 12 volt battery that will run your lights and wiper blades. Meanwhile, the hybrid battery pack is located behind the rear seat. The orange tab is the battery disconnect, in case you need to do any work.

When working on these cooling fans, you will want to make sure that the air ducts are in good working order, and aren’t broken, blocked, or venting back inside the car. It’s important that they are repaired correctly. 

Battery packs: When to replace them

battery pack and cooling fan.The battery packs tend to go bad every eight to 10 years. It’s always good to go with the factory module. I would be wary of aftermarket ones, but we have put a couple in from different manufacturers and we’re still testing them out to see how they do in the long run. So far, so good.

As you start to see the mileage decrease over a period of time, it could have to do with the cells in the battery pack. They’re just like any other battery. Eventually, they will wear out or certain cells will have a problem. 

Once you hit around the eight year mark, it’s probably a good idea to replace the entire pack over changing out the individual cells. 

An extra tip for hybrid vehicles: With hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, make sure to use tires like the Goodyear Assurance CS Fuel Max. Some of these tires feature low rolling resistance to help give you better fuel efficiency.

These are just some things that owners of hybrid vehicles should keep in mind.

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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Avoid breaking down on your next road trip

In Battery, Brakes, Fluids, Headlamps, Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Summer is here, which means that many are taking at least one road trip.

While you and your family or friends are having fun, you want to avoid any hang ups. That includes breaking down on the side of the road.

In the days and weeks prior to your next adventure, you should make sure the vehicle you’re taking is ready for the journey. You can’t plan for everything, but there are some things you can do to avoid a problem.

Below is a checklist of items we recommend.

How to prepare for a road trip

  • Battery test: Weak car batteries can fail when it’s extremely hot outside. We have a battery tester that lets us know if it needs to be replaced. Checking the battery beforehand can save you from tracking someone down to jump your vehicle and a trip to the store.
  • Oil change: Having your oil changed regularly – every 3,000 to 5,000 miles – helps prevent engine damage. If you’re going to be due for this service soon, it’s a good idea to have it done before your road trip. That way, you know that it’s up to date. The technicians performing the oil change may also notice safety concerns that need to be addressed. 
  • Check tires: You want your tires to be at an optimum level. So, make sure they are at a good tire pressure and they have thick tread depth. The tire tread should be at least 2/32 of an inch, but we suggest replacing the tires when they reach 3/32 or 4/32 of an inch, depending on the vehicle. The tire pressure must also be at the recommended level, otherwise tire damage can occur. Also, make sure that none of your tires have collected any nails, and that your spare tire is in good shape.
  • Make sure the brakes are working: You never know when the person driving in front of you will stop suddenly or a deer will run out in front of your car. In those situations, it’s important to know that your brakes can be trusted. To pass Virginia state inspection, brakes must be at 2/32 of an inch or more. We recommend them when they get down to 3/32 or 4/32 of an inch. That also depends on the car and manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Replace windshield wipers: Depending on your destination, you may hit some rain along the way. Having the windshield wipers replaced can prevent streaks and scratches. If you have torn windshield wipers, it’s time for some new ones.
  • Inspect the lights: Your car features an assortment of lights, including brake lights, headlights and tag lights. It’s a good idea to make sure that none of them are out, especially if you’re planning to travel at night or in areas that experience heavy amounts of traffic.
  • Look at fluid levels: Having someone check the fluid levels – including the oil, coolant, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid – is another recommendation. This is a great way you can confirm there aren’t problems or spot any issues early on. For example, being low on coolant – especially if it’s a constant issue – can indicate a leak.

Our technicians look over all of the items mentioned above during our courtesy inspections. If you’re planning to go on a road trip soon, feel free to give us a call to schedule an appointment.

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.