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Brake problems on a Ford Explorer

In Brakes by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Brake problems are something drivers should be watchful for.

We worked on a 2000 Ford Explorer XLT that had a stiff brake pedal when the customer started braking. Then, it would become softer as they continued pressing on the brake pedal. 

A car’s brake pedal is supposed to be able to maintain pressure. If it goes down, something’s wrong.

As the Explorer stopped, it would pulsate.

While working on the Explorer, Brian discovered heavy rust on the brake rotors, which was one of the reasons behind the pulsation. 

We installed a new wheel hub and bearing assembly, which have Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) sensors.

brake problems
hub and bearing assembly

The ABS monitors the wheel speed compared to the others and prevents a vehicle’s tires from locking up when there’s an emergency. This enables you to maintain steering control.

In old cars, during a panic stop, the vehicle could start to slide.

Also known as “wheel bearings”, a hub bearing helps keep the wheel on. It is pressed into hub bearings, and the axle runs through them.

The Explorer’s front brake pads and rotors were also replaced.

If the steering wheel shakes or shimmies, it could be a sign the brakes are going bad.

Read about other signs that you need new brakes and rotors.

Our technicians are able to address brake problems and can provide brake repairs.

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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Signs that you need new brakes and rotors

In Brakes by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The braking system is one of the many parts of a vehicle that need to be taken care of.

In Northern Virginia — where there’s a lot of stop and go traffic — car brakes and rotors tend to wear out more quickly than other parts of the country.

So, if you are living or commuting in this region, it’s especially important that you make sure your brakes are working right.

When to replace brakes and rotors

How long do brakes last in Northern Virginia?

The lifespan of brakes varies and is based on different factors, including the vehicle make and model, the driving style – like whether you drive with one foot or two feet.

It also depends on if you’re commuting or driving around town. A lot of people don’t realize that commuting is heavy duty driving. Many also don’t know that parents who are just driving to school, running errands, and bring kids to soccer puts a lot of wear and tear on the brakes.

How do you know when to get new brakes and rotors if the time frame is different for each vehicle? There are signs you need new brakes.

These include a steering wheel that shakes or shimmies. You may also notice squealing, groaning, rattling and grinding sounds. This can be the result of parts becoming loose or not being lubricated enough.

Large amounts of brake dust building up on the wheels, and the brake pads and rotors experiencing excessive wear are also indicators of brake problems.

You should also have the braking system checked out if the Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) warning light has turned on.

When looking over brakes, we check to see if the brake rotors are scoured and if the customer noticed a vibrating brake pedal. The brake pads could have plenty of thickness, but the rotors may have a variation where it feels like they’re pulsating when you press the brake pedal.

Drum brakes and disc brakes

There are two types of brakes — drum brakes and disc brakes. Both are made up of an array of components.

Drum brakes have two shoes that push outward and pull the drum up.

Brake pads, rotors and calipers are some of the parts that make up disc brakes. 

The wheels of a vehicle are connected to the brake rotors through the wheel hub. Calipers hold the pads that clamp against the rotor, stopping the wheel.

You should always replace brake pads and rotors at the same time. This ensures that they last a long time and work properly.

Most cars today have disc brakes in the front and rear. Some cars have disc and drum brakes.

Brake technology is available for some vehicles. 

Almost all BMWs, for example, have brake wear indicators that let you know when your brakes are getting low.

Steve’s Auto Repair offers brake services

Brake service doesn’t just refer to brake replacement. It also includes changing brake hardware, making sure the caliper slides are working correctly, and brake fluid exchanges. 

Brake fluid exchanges, which maintain brake parts and the braking system, should be conducted every 30,000 miles.

The technicians at our Woodbridge auto repair shop are able to perform these types of brake repair and do a complete brake job. We can also replace brake hoses and brake lines.

So, feel free to reach out if you live in the Woodbridge area and are thinking about typing “brake repair near me” into your preferred search engine.

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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Brake service alerts available for BMW vehicles

In Brakes by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Did you know that your BMW is equipped with smart technology that tells you on your dashboard when you brake service is needed?

You have brake wear indicators on almost all BMW vehicles to include your BMW SUV that will warn you of when your brakes are getting low.

We will replace your brake pads, rotors, brake wear sensors, lube the caliper slides, and flush your brake fluid to ensure your safety on the busy northern Virginia roads.

Whether you have a BMW sedan, coupe, convertible, or SUV, we have you covered.

Some of the older versions of BMW 650i had customers that were experiencing some squealing, even when the brakes were not ready to be replaced.

BMW has since then come out with a newer version of the brake wear sensor with a new design to prevent that from occurring. It can be identified by its new green color!

When we replace your brake components here at Steve’s, we will reset your brake maintenance reminder for free with our service. We also provide all BMW approved fluids for your car.

Is your car ready for the summer?

In Brakes, Cooling System, Maintenance, Safety, Tires and Wheels by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The sun is shining, and it’s almost time for summer. While the summer offers plenty of fun and great weather, it also comes with summertime traffic, and the gridlock and bumper-to-bumper with the Washington, D.C. commute and beach traffic.

Keeping that traffic in mind, you’re going to want to make sure that your car is prepared. Here are some things you should check, to see if your car is ready for the summer.

Make sure your car or trucks air conditioning works good for the summer months

Make sure your car or trucks air conditioning works good for the summer months

Is your A/C blowing cold?

With your heat blasting during the winter months, chances are that you haven’t needed to use the air conditioning – which means that you may be unaware of potential problems with your A/C system. Nothing is worse than trying to head out for a long car ride – or even your morning commute – and realizing that your A/C is blowing hot. If you’ve noticed that your A/C system is blowing warmer than it normally would, it’s good to bring it in and see if there are any leaks, and get replacement or repair done before the thermostat really starts to rise.

Are your brakes ready for stop-and-go?

Is your car ready for the summer?

Front brake pads and rotors need to be checked to ensure proper vehicle braking

We all know that when you live in this area, there are bound to be traffic jams, regardless of the time of year. But with the summer, and all of the vacation and beach traffic in Northern Virginia, bumper-to-bumper can be a real challenge if you’re brakes aren’t in good shape. Having quality brakes that aren’t worn down can make a huge difference in your vehicle’s stopping time, and can be the difference between a hard stop and a fender bender. For our customers we recommend that they change out their brake pads when they’re worn down below 4/32nds.

Make sure you’re cooling system is doing its job.

Is your car ready for the summer?

Make sure your engine cooling system is working properly

When’s the last time you had your cooling system serviced or checked? The cooling system in your vehicle – different from the car’s air conditioning – is important, and needs to be checked on regularly. The cooling system uses a radiator, water pump, and a cooling fan to help create circulation in your car’s engine, allowing it to release heat so that your engine doesn’t become overheated. Especially as the weather gets warmer, all of that heat outside can take a toll on your car’s engine if you don’t care for it properly. Make sure that you’re getting the coolant fluids topped off, and that you’re getting cooling system flushes this summer, to keep from dealing with an overheated engine.

Are your tires worn down?

Is your car ready for the summer?

Make sure your tires are safe, with Goodyear tires

Whether you’ve got winter tires on your vehicle, or you’ve been riding on your all-seasons for a while, you need to be thinking about the condition of your tires as the summer approaches. Just like brakes, the condition of your tires makes a huge difference in your stopping time and speed, as well as the comfort and handling of your drive. At Steve’s we recommend that customers consider replacing their brakes when they’re down below 4/32nds. Especially with all of the bumper-to-bumper traffic ahead, it’s good to make sure that your tires are in excellent condition for the summer.

5 things to have checked on your car this spring

In Alignment, Brake Fluid Flush, Cabin Air Filter, Cooling System, Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

With the winter fading away, and the weather finally starting to warm up with the onset of spring, it’s time to get your vehicle ready with a little ‘spring cleaning’ maintenance.

These are the top 5 things you should do, to get your car ready for spring:

5 things to have checked on your car this spring

Mercedes engine coolant flush

  1. Have your vehicle’s fluids flushed – including the coolant.

With winter on its way out, it’s a good idea to have all of your vehicle’s fluids flushed, checked, and refilled. It’s especially important for your coolant fluid to be flushed and topped off. Why? Because the warmer weather can raise the temperature of your vehicle, and coolant helps to keep things running smoothly.

“Given the fact that we’re going to start coming in to warmer weather, your car’s going to be running a little hotter because the ambient temperature’s going to be warmed up, so coolant’s a good fluid to get changed now,” said Rich Campbell, manager at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire.

  1. 5 things to have checked on your car this spring

    Checking tires at Steves Auto Repair and TIre

    Have your tires inspected.

All that driving in the ice and snow wears away at the tread on your tires, and over time that means your tires are going to need to be replaced. When its springtime and the snow and ice have cleared, that’s the perfect time to have your tires inspected by a technician. If your tires are worn down and losing traction, that can make a huge difference when stopping on wet spring roads, so it’s important to get them inspected.

“You need to make sure you’ve got adequate traction,” said Campbell.

  1. 5 things to have checked on your car this springHave your air cabin filter changed.

Cabin air-filter changes are an important part of maintenance year-round, but they’re even more important come springtime, because of the pollen and things floating in the air that can impair air quality.

“That cabin air filter filters your pollen, the dust, and getting ready for spring you want a good, fresh cabin air filter in there,” said Campbell.


Tail light bulb replacement at Steves Auto Repair and Tire

4. Are your bulbs out?

Bulbs go out on vehicles all of the time, and it’s important to get them replaced, no matter what time of year it is. But when you’re doing your ‘spring cleaning’ checkup on your vehicle, it’s worth checking if any of your lights are out, as they’re easily replaced during a trip to the shop.

  1. Have your alignment checked out.

Bouncing around on potholes and that unexpected curb following a big snow storm can really throw your vehicle’s alignment out of whack. If you notice your car’s pulling, even slightly, or you’re noticing a very rough ride, then that’s a pretty good sign that you may need an alignment service. Many drivers get them during the spring, because of those potholes, left by the snow plows, we mentioned earlier.

5 things to have checked on your car this spring

Wheel alignment at Steves Auto Repair and Tire

If you want to make sure your vehicle is road-ready for all of the trips and events you’ve got planned for spring, then make sure that you take your car in for some spring maintenance at Steve’s.