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Why we perform a courtesy inspection while working on your vehicle

In Cabin Air Filter, Inspection by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

When you bring your car to our shop, we try to do a very thorough visual inspection, even if it’s just for an oil change.

Just from driving on the road and as vehicle’s age, things can start to break and cause other problems you may not notice, because you’re driving it every day. 

As we’re looking at your vehicle, we want to pick up on problems that could lead to a much larger expense down the road.

inspection

Honda Accord

Recently, our technicians worked on a Honda Accord that came in for an oil change. The customer didn’t mention any problems. During our normal inspection of the air filter, we discovered that the intake boot coming from the mass airflow meter to the engine was cracked. 

When that happens, air is not being metered and the computer can’t see how much air is getting sucked into the engine. That can cause problems with the car running too rich or lean, depending on the programming and the driving conditions. Generally, it would show that it has more air coming in than it is and you will burn more fuel. The driver might or might not notice they have more fuel consumption, based on how they drive.

Dirt entering the engine is another problem the crack can cause, because it isn’t going through the air filter. Over a period of time, this may reduce the engine’s lifespan.

If it’s raining and the vehicle went through a deep puddle, water could splash up and get sucked into the engine, which could break it.

You may notice this sort of problem when you give it some gas as you’re going on the highway or an onramp, and that can be a dangerous situation. 

Courtesy inspection

Dirty cabin air filter

The air filter on this vehicle was also very, very dirty, which would also restrict the airflow. This can impact the fuel economy. So, you have many things going against this car that are very simple, but unless you’re looking at it on a consistent basis you’re just not going to know.

Our courtesy inspection

Watching for simple things, like an air intake boot, and fixing it is just part of our oil change process and is a very important thing to repair.

In addition to changing the oil and oil filter, we rotate the tires if applicable and take a look at the components. It’s sort of like a mini safety inspection without scraping the sticker. We really are trying to keep you safe on the road and help your car last as long as it can.

When we have the hood open, we’re checking for visible engine coolant leaks. Our technicians also examine the serpentine belt to make sure it doesn’t have cracks and isn’t getting glazed on the back.

Accessible fluids are also looked at. For example, before changing the oil we make sure the oil level isn’t too low. If you come in and it’s much lower than normal, we may be able to pick up an oil consumption problem.

Windshield washer fluid and brake fluid are also inspected. Some of the newer vehicles – as parts become more electronic – may not have these fluids, but you would be surprised. Even with brakes being electronically controlled, there’s still brake fluid going to the calipers. 

Lights, wiper blades, tire tread depth and tire pressure are other items checked out.

We also test the car battery, and make sure the connections aren’t loose or that corrosion isn’t building up on them. You’d be surprised by the number of cars that come in with weird problems or intermittent starting problems, and it’s just a loose battery cable or corrosion. Cleaning that up and putting battery terminal BG pads, which help prevent acid from coming up to the terminal and corroding the metal, are some things we can do during an oil change to stop simple, weird electrical problems. 

Resetting the maintenance indicators takes a little more time now. There are indicators for the tire pressure, the oil life, for certain maintenance the manufacturers recommend. Not only is it changing that oil change sticker up in the window, it’s also resetting the electronic reminders in the car.

To read more about what we do during an oil change, check out this recent article we wrote.

Courtesy inspections come at no additional cost. 

Taking these extra steps can prevent problems and a lot of frustration.

By performing this work, we hope to help keep you and your family 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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Why you shouldn’t store napkins in your car’s glove box

In Cabin Air Filter, Cooling System by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

It’s time to turn on the air conditioning.

But when one of our customers did, they heard a noise. This led them to bring their Town & Country to Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire.

We found a few problems during our investigation.

First of all, a shop that had previously worked on the vehicle hadn’t properly installed the door for the cabin air filter.

The second issue was that napkins and some peanuts that were in the glove box had gotten sucked into the blower motor. 

Our employees also found a very dirty cabin air filter that appeared to have been chewed on by a squirrel or mouse.

The problems were addressed and the driver is back on the road.

However, based on this situation, there are a few recommendations we would like to pass on.

Take your car to a mechanic or repair shop you can trust

Overtime, you invest a fair amount of money in your vehicle – through oil changes, inspections, mileage-based services, new parts that go bad through daily use … You get the point.

You also most likely drive it each week (if not daily), and don’t want to end up stranded on the side of the road or in an unsafe situation. 

With that in mind, it’s important to make sure you’re taking it to a professional who knows what they’re doing. 

Yes, this may mean spending more money on a service that you could try to figure out on your own. However, going to a reliable mechanic or auto repair shop can not only give you ease of mind, it also saves you time and can help prevent expensive repairs in the future.

Don’t keep lightweight paper in the glove box

It’s OK to store items, like an owner’s manual, in the glove box.

However, we suggest that you avoid keeping napkins and lightweight paper in it.

The blower motor is drawing in air and sometimes if it’s not sealed quite right it will suck up those items.

We recommend that you store them in the center console, where there isn’t a vacuum or fan that’s bringing in air that will circulate throughout the vehicle.Dirty cabin air filter

Change out your cabin air filter regularly

Cabin air filters, which purify the air that enters a vehicle, become dirty and need to be changed on a regular basis.

This interval depends on a few factors, including the make and model of a car as well as driving conditions.

Drivers who live on a dirt road will probably need to replace it more often than those who mainly use major roads and the highway.

Keeping bacteria, dirt, dust and pollen out of your vehicle is one perk of changing out the cabin air filter. It can also prevent the heating core and evaporator from becoming clogged.

When performing this service, our technicians can also spray BG Frigi Fresh into the vent system. You can read more about the disinfectant and replacing the cabin air filter in this article we wrote

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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Cabin air filter helps clean the air in car

In Cabin Air Filter by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Let’s clear the air … in your car.

The cabin air filter purifies the air that enters through the vents.

Typically located in the front of a vehicle, it also helps keep the heating core and evaporator clear.

How often cabin air filters need to be changed depends on the car and driving conditions. 

For example, those who live on a dirt road may need to change it more often than someone who uses the interstate.

Drivers may notice a musty smell when it’s time to replace the cabin air filter.

Our technicians check it during every oil change, which we recommend every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. 

When changing the old filter, we spray BG Frigi Fresh — a disinfectant that removes viruses, bacteria, mold and odors — into the vent system.

One reason to have the cabin air filter checked is because animals will nest in it, clogging up the airways. 

When they become blocked, it can overwork the blower motor, which is responsible for pushing air through the vents when you turn on your car air conditioning or heat.

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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Coronavirus and car problems

In Battery, Cabin Air Filter, Tires and Wheels by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

We hope everybody is getting through this time of staying home. We know it’s been tough on a lot of people. 

As people are starting to go back to work over the next few weeks, it’s a good idea to go out and check your car. There are some car problems you can expect.

Vehicles have a lot of electronics on them, including the radio, clocks, alarm systems, and computers. Over a two week period, that can drain the battery. 

These are other factors that can cause a car battery to fail.

Jump start your car using jumper cables or a jump box have it run for at least 30 to 40 minutes.

Having a low tire or flat tire, or the tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light turning on are some other issues that could come up. 

While a vehicle is sitting, its tires can lose air over time, or there may be a small leak that wasn’t noticed before.

TIP: Be careful when using gas station air pumps. Most of the time, the gauges are wrong.

Once you get on the road, you might notice a rotating grinding noise, especially when you step on the brake. Most likely, this is from rust building up on the rotors and drums. Most likely, it will go away between 12 and 15 minutes. If it doesn’t, you may want to have it looked at.

The check engine light could also turn on. We have been getting a code for the Evaporative Emission Control System (EVAP) and finding that the gas cap seals are the culprit. We recommend clearing the code, top off the car with some fresh gas, replacing the gas cap, and driving it to see if the light comes back on. If it does, we know that we need to do check engine light diagnostics.

We also suggest having your vehicle’s cabin air filter changed — not just because of the Coronavirus, but because of pollen season.

This is a perfect time to change the filter, which purifies the air that goes into the front of a car. 

Read more about why you should change your cabin air filter.

Part of our replacement service includes using BG Frigi Fresh, a disinfectant that gets rid of viruses and bacteria.

If you have any problems, call Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire at (703) 670-8005.

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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Bacteria and your car’s air vents

In Cabin Air Filter by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

With allergies and viruses emerging, it’s a good time to replace your car’s cabin air filter.

The cabin air filter cleans air that enters the cabin area, and prevents dirt and bacteria from entering it.

Overtime, they become dirty and aren’t able to work properly.

Read about why you should change your cabin air filter.

Before requesting this service, it’s a good idea to confirm that your vehicle has a cabin air filter. Some cars do not. 

Different types of cabin air filters are available.

The cost depends on the materials, production and whether it becomes distorted.

You can find cheap cabin air filters, but keep in mind that how cheap they are will impact their effectiveness.

We use a regular, mid-grade cabin air filter.

Better cabin air filter

A product that’s better than the regular cabin air filter is the Enviroshield Cabin Air Filter. 

These cabin air filters get rid of dust, soot, pollen and other particles. They are able exhaust system smells that other cars produce, as well.

Best cabin air filter

The PureFlow cabin air filter is top of the line.

Not only does it remove dust and pollen, it also soaks up bad odors. Made with charcoal and a filtration layer, it confines mold and gases that are dangerous and decreases the effectiveness of germs.

When to replace cabin air filters

We recommend replacing filters annually. 

You may need to change it sooner, depending on the amount of pollen in the air and the driving conditions.

Those who live on dirt roads may need to change it more often than drivers who mainly use the interstate. 

Indicators that it needs to be changed

If you are noticing a musty smell, that’s a pretty good indicator that it’s time to change the cabin air filter.

The air that’s going through the vents may also not be as strong.

Cabin air filters vs. engine air filters

Cabin air filters are responsible for purifying the air in the front end of a vehicle. Engine air filters cleans air that’s going into the engine’s combustion chamber.

There is typically one cabin air filter in a car. However, some, such as BMWs and Mercedes, have two filters. Other vehicles don’t have any.

Cars can have as many as six air filters, including the cabin air filters. Some vehicles have fans built into temperature control seats. Those fans have filters that protect the air that’s going into the fans. Certain vehicles, like the Ford Escape, have a filter for the blower motor to help keep the battery cool.

BG Frigi Fresh

There are also products that can be used to provide cleaner air. BG Frigi Fresh is one we use.

After removing the old filter, our technicians spray BG Frigi Fresh into the vent system.

Mold and bacteria begins to grow in a car’s climate control system when moisture collects in the evaporator. 

BG Frigi Fresh kills these germs, which can create a musty smell and even impact allergies.

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.