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Check engine light on an Audi

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

An Audi came in because its check engine light had turned on.

A check engine light comes on for many reasons. In this particular case, it was not flashing. 

If you have a flashing check engine light, that means you may have a problem that is going to cause catalytic converter damage or could cause some other engine problems because there was a misfire.

It was also low on oil, which was causing some different problems. There were some codes, because these engines that have variable valve timing are – a lot of times – controlled by oil control valves, which adjust the valve timing. 

We were able to clear the codes, reset the maintenance monitor systems, and get this vehicle back on track.

Oil change on an Audi.

Regular oil changes can help prevent engine damage. We recommend changing it every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

Other check engine light causes

Other reasons that the check engine light turns on can be anything from a sensor not recording or sending the signal correctly to a loose gas cap. The light may also indicate evaporative control problems or even issues with your transmission. 

So, when the light comes on you don’t really want to wait a long time to get it checked, even if it’s just a matter of coming to your local auto repair shop and having them check the codes. 

If we see a code that has to do with a gas cap, we’re able to just take a look at it real quick, make sure the gas cap seal isn’t broken, tighten it up, clear the code and let you drive it. If it comes on again from an EVAP code, then we can get into diagnostics. But this is one of the things you just don’t really want to wait too long to get addressed.

Even regular maintenance on Audis has to be done correctly. Using the wrong weight of oil, or not getting the cap back on, or knocking off a vacuum line can actually trigger a check engine light. 

Sometimes, with these vehicles, a little hose can come loose and you won’t even notice it. Even the dipstick not being pushed in all the way can cause an issue that an Audi can actually pick up.

If you do get an oil change and your check engine light comes on a day or two or three afterwards just talk to your auto repair shop and they may be able just to check something real quick. 

This is a very small list of reasons why your check engine light can come on: 

  • Gas cap 
  • Oxygen sensor 
  • Catalytic converter problem
  • Misfire
  • Coils 
  • Plugs 
  • The evaporative system 
  • Sensors 
  • Wrong oil and low oil 
  • Transmission problems 
  • ABS or traction control problem

So if your check engine light does come on, call your local auto repair shop. Let them at least check the codes and see if there’s anything that’s serious. If you keep your vehicle maintained, you can have many years with your Audi.

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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Noise diagnostics: What we go through to track down sounds

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Noise diagnostics can be complicated.

Vehicles make lots of sounds, and any of them can mean many things.

A growling noise could have something to do with a car’s wheel bearing, or it may indicate that you have bad tires. Meanwhile, a squeaking sound can be caused by dry, moving parts.

Diagnosing noises is also difficult, because cars act like tuning forks — noise travels. You may hear a sound coming from one area when it’s actually coming from a different place. 

We worked on a vehicle recently where the front differential was going bad. However, the sound was traveling to the back of the car.

Our technicians first start noise diagnostics by taking the vehicle for a test drive.

Test Driving.

Test Driving

It’s important that we receive a good description from customers about what type of sound they’re hearing, where it’s coming from, and any other characteristics they noticed — such as a vibration. Then, we try to verify it. 

Because some noises only occur during certain circumstances, the technicians attempt to recreate it. If it’s a clunking sound, for example, the car may be taken on a road that contains potholes.

One of our technicians worked on diagnosing a noise on a 2008 Toyota Highlander last month. The customer had noticed a screeching sound when driving down the hill on a certain road. During his test drive, Wayne took it on that road to listen for it.

After recreating a sound, we use a process of elimination to determine what part of the car the sound is connected to, such as the suspension or the 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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Installing a new car starter on a Honda Pilot

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Is your car refusing to turn over? It could mean that you need a new car starter. 

Bolted into the transmission housing, this component shoots out a bendix, causing the flywheel to spin. The flywheel is responsible for turning the engine over.

It’s important to note that not all vehicles use a starter. Electric vehicles do not have starters, and hybrids may or may not have one. Certain hybrids use the hybrid system to start the engine.

Replacing the car starter

A new car starter was installed in a 2005 Honda Pilot.

First, the battery was tested. When our automotive technician confirmed that the SUV had a good battery. Then, he checked the starter and found it wasn’t working properly.

To get to this component, we needed to remove the battery, the tray the battery sits on, and the wires connected to the starter.

A jump box was used to bench test the new and older starters. Through this process, the technician was able to compare their power.

Signs that a car starter is going bad

A car that won’t start  – even when you use jumper cables – isn’t your only clue that you have a bad starter.

Other signs include a clicking sound when you try to turn it on. The dashboard lights should still appear, as long as you have adequate power from the battery.

You may hear a slight grinding noise, as well.

Key in ignition of Honda CR-V.There are times when starters go bad without any warning. The car may not have had a problem when you were leaving home but is having trouble starting as you’re wrapping up errands.

If you’re stuck with a car that won’t start, try jumping it and turning the key a few times. You may be able to get it going and drive it to a nearby auto repair shop. 

The other option – if this method doesn’t work – is having a tow truck pick it up.

How long starters last

A starter’s lifespan isn’t set in stone, typically ranging from 100,000 to 150,000 miles. Some last longer.

This can be impacted by different circumstances. These include how many times you turn your vehicle on each day. Connection issues, corrosion issues, heat, and driving conditions can affect the longevity, too.Connections, starter motor and starter solenoid.

The quality of the starter also has a part to play. Original equipment (O.E.) and O.E. equivalent starters from Bosch, Denzo, Motorcraft, and Delco will last a lot longer than remanufactured starters. That’s why we try to purchase new starters and go with the O.E. supplier.

Other car starting problems

Having a bad starter is one of a few problems that can prevent a car from starting.

The issue could lie with the battery, which may be dead. There could also be corrosion on the battery terminals or something wrong with a wire. 

Another possible culprit is a bad alternator, which provides power to various items you use everyday, such as lights and electronics.

More information about batteries and alternators can be found in this article we wrote.

You want to check for the whole starting system. Sometimes what can seem like a starter problem could be ground connections from the engine to the frame of the vehicle. Especially if you have had a transmission replaced or major engine repairs, it’s not uncommon for the ground wire to be loose or not connected, which would simulate a bad starter.

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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Serpentine belt on BMW gets caught in engine

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The driver of a 2009 BMW 535xi had an unexpected experience recently: his car stopped running in the middle of the road.

The culprit? A leaking oil filter housing that caused the serpentine belt to get caught in the engine.

Oil Filter Housing.

Oil Filter Housing

How the serpentine belt became caught

Because of the leak, the serpentine belt — which surrounds parts of the engine — became soaked with oil. It slipped off the pulleys, wrapped around the components, and began to fray.

After getting caught around the crankshaft pulley, the belt started working its way through the crankshaft seal into the timing cover.

Parts of the belt wrapped around the timing chain, throwing the car’s timing off. It was also caught around the oil pan, which clogged up the oil pickup tube and prevented oil from entering the engine. 

Oil pickup tube.

Oil pickup tube

Timing chain replacement

When the customer’s car stopped running, he cranked the car and a crunching metal sound could be heard in the front timing cover. We knew that the timing chain needed to be replaced.

After removing the old timing chain and timing chain unit, our technician cleaned out material from the serpentine belt that had gotten into the timing cover.

New chains, a new tensioner and new bolts for the camshaft, sprockets and crankshaft were then installed.

New timing belt.

New timing belt

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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Diagnosing problems on BMWs and Mercedes

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Diagnosing problems that come in through an auto repair shop can be tricky and time consuming. 

Technicians at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire are using OPUS IVS AUTOLOGIC DrivePro to identify problems sooner and more accurately.

We have invested into this diagnostic platform for our BMW and Mercedes customers. It also has very good capability for other European vehicles, including Volkswagens and Land Rovers.

How this tools helps us with diagnosing problems

For many auto repair shops, using a scan tool that has limited functions becomes a roadblock.

Not only does DrivePro give near dealer capability, it also enables us to access the computers of vehicles. 

We are able to use the tool to code modules and reprogram vehicle computers, as well.

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.