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Timing belt: When it should be changed

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

In order for a vehicle’s engine to work properly, its timing needs to line up correctly.

The timing belt has a part to play in this. Located around engine components, it ensures that the crankshaft and camshaft are running at the same rate.

Because of age and day-to-day use, timing belt replacement is sometimes necessary. 

A new one is normally installed when the vehicle hits a certain mileage. Some manufacturers recommend changing it every 60,000 miles, while others say every 100,000 miles. You should also get a new one if it’s cracked or jumps time.

Whatever the reason, it’s best if you don’t avoid changing the belt. Internal engine damage may occur if it breaks, or if components are banging against one another because it’s out of timing by too much. 

Bad timing belt signs

So, how do you know if you need a new timing belt?

Since timing belts have other parts over them, you won’t be able to just pop up the hood and see if they have become worn or are broken.

But a bad timing belt can result in some problems you may notice. These issues include engine misfires, which may occur if the engine is out of timing.

The car not starting is another indicator. This happens because the timing-related parts aren’t turning and compression isn’t being created by the engine.

You might hear noise the components are creating, as well.

Timing belt replacement cost

There isn’t a set answer for how much getting a new timing belt costs. Depending on the vehicle, the cost to replace a timing belt can be anywhere from $300 to $3,000. It could really run such a wide range, because of the amount of work involved.

The job isn’t only limited to changing the belt. Sometimes the job is as simple as installing a new belt and tensioner. However, the job may also be a little more complicated or involve other components. One of our technicians, for example, recently put a new timing belt on a Volkswagen when he went to replace the turbocharger. 

Many vehicles have two timing belts, multiple tensioners, and idler pulleys, and certain cars have water pumps that are driven off of the timing belt. Those are the type of parts that you will want to replace while you’re there.

We also like to change the camshaft and crankshaft seals at the same time, because if they start leaking after you finish that work then you need to do it all over again. This happened with a Volvo a couple of years ago.

Yes, performing the extra maintenance will cost more because of the additional time and parts needed, but it will be much less time consuming and expensive in the long run.

This is how timing belts can be a little bit of an investment, but it’s well worth it.

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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What does engine repair mean today?

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

What does engine repair actually mean on a car now?

It used to mean taking the engine apart and replacing different parts, including valves, pistons, connecting rods, crankshafts, camshafts. All of that is still correct.

But when most people think of engine repair, it has to do with not only internal but what is on the engine, what makes it run.

Internal engine components:

  • Valves
  • Pistons
  • Connecting rods
  • Crankshafts
  • Camshafts
  • Bearings
  • Oil pump
  • Cylinder heads
  • Intake manifold

Exhaust manifold

External and internal engine repair

When you’re talking about these different parts, you start with the ignition system. On the engine, that can be anything from the coils, spark plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor, distributor – if the vehicle is old enough to have one. It could also be an ignition module that might be bolted on top of the engine or on the valve cover.

It could also have to do with the cooling system that’s on the engine. Maybe it’s the serpentine belt or the idler pulleys, and all of these go with the water pump. Serpentine Belt

Water pump parts:

  • Serpentine belt
  • Idler pulleys
  • Water pump
  • Belt tensioner
  • Radiator hoses
  • Engine coolant thermostat

Subaru timing belt and timing belt guide pulleys

When you’re talking about internal components as far as engine repair, the most common now are timing belts and timing chains. Along with that job may go some idler pulleys, timing chain guides, and crankshaft and camshaft oil seals.

Parts associated with timing belts include:

  • Timing belt tensioner
  • Camshaft seals
  • Crankshaft seals
  • Timing belt idler pulleys

Timing chain and timing chain guidesThese are items related to timing chains:

  • Timing chains
  • Timing chain guides
  • Timing chain tensioner
  • Timing chain sprockets
  • Camshaft seals
  • Crankshaft seals
engine repair

Cadillac engine repair

Engine-related problems

Some people may think of engine repair as the control system, like your check engine light comes on and what’s related to the engine.  

Oil leaks is another problem that people associate with it. That can be anything from the oil pan, the valve cover gaskets, the rear main seal or crankshaft seal. With the way these cars are designed now, even the oil pan can be in three different pieces.

Components that are connected with oil leaks:

  • Oil pan 
  • Valve cover gaskets
  • Rear main seal
  • Crankshaft seal
  • Oil pan gasket
  • Intake manifold gaskets
  • Oil filter housing
  • Timing chain cover gaskets
  • Cylinder head gaskets
  • Oil pumps
engine repair

Land rover engine repair

You also have engine maintenance, which people will call engine repair. Now we’re talking oil changes and fluid exchanges. Then, there’s maintenance due to time and mileage, such as belts and hoses. 

Engine maintenance services:

  • Oil changes
  • Fluid exchanges
  • Fuel system service
  • Tune up
  • Belt replacement
  • Air filter
  • Fuel filter
  • Radiator hoses
  • Engine coolant

Whether you think engine repair means work on the engine, in the engine, or associated with the engine, Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is your local auto repair shop that can take care of all your needs.

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.

  • 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.

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How Steve’s Auto Repair performs oil changes

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

Oil changes are typically offered at most places that perform automotive services or repair. 

A lot of them will do the required work – change the filter and replace the oil – and leave it at that.

At Steve’s Auto Repair, we care about you and your vehicle, and want to make sure that your car is running safely when it leaves our shop. 

During an oil change, we perform a visual digital inspection, checking many points on the car or truck. This includes a range of items that tend to be overlooked.

Parts checked during oil changes

So, what does this mini inspection look like? 

The battery is one of the many parts we check. Car batteries weaken overtime, and extremely hot or cold temperatures can cause them to die. Testing a car battery may prevent you from getting stranded.

Looking over the belts and hoses, as well as the steering and suspension are also on our checklist. Hoses can become loose, and everyday use could result in components cracking or going bad. You can save yourself a trip to an auto repair shop – and possibly some money – if we address the problem early on.

Brake pads and tires get inspected too. Brakes should measure at 2/32 of an inch to pass the state inspection in Virginia. Steve’s Auto Repair recommends having them changed at 3/32 or 4/32 of an inch, depending on the make, model and manufacturer’s recommendations.

Accessible fluids, such as the coolant and windshield washer fluid, are looked over and topped off. Some can become low without you knowing it and could lead to future problems if they are ignored.

If applicable, a tire rotation is included as part of our oil change. This service can prolong the life of tires.

This work comes at no additional cost.

Other ways we take care of your vehicle

While servicing your vehicle, we use floor mats, seats and steering wheel covers to protect the interior.

Do you want to stay up to date on what’s going on with your car? We complete digital inspections, which provide you with photos, videos and notes on the vehicle’s health. These updates will share which components are good, any safety concerns, or maintenance suggestions we have. They are sent via email and text. Therefore, the customer can see what we see.

To schedule your next oil change at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire, please call (703) 670-8005.

You can drop off your vehicle while we’re open – between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you do not want to come into the building, staff members are available to meet you outside.

We also have a night owl night service and a free shuttle service.

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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BMW overheating: Possible causes and how to prevent it

In Cooling System, Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

BMW overheating problems aren’t uncommon occurrences.

We worked on a 2004 BMW that was brought in multiple times because it was overheating. 

When it first came to Steve’s Auto Repair, our technician noticed that it was low on coolant. He performed a pressure test on the cooling system and discovered the coolant reservoir was cracked.

Refrigerant cools a vehicle’s engine. It flows from the engine to the radiator, where some heat dissipates. The coolant then goes back to the engine.

Without coolant, the heat is confined to the engine.

Because the car couldn’t keep its coolant, we weren’t able to complete the diagnostic testing. 

The coolant reservoir was replaced, but the BMW was still overheating. 

Brian performed another pressure test to confirm there aren’t any other leaks. When he didn’t see any, he determined that the issue was with the thermostat or water pump.

Through further investigation, Brian noticed there was a difference in the temperature of the upper radiator hose and lower radiator hose, which usually indicates a bad thermostat.

The thermostat was sticking closed, preventing coolant from reaching the radiator and cooling the vehicle down.

Possible reasons behind a BMW overheating

Being low on coolant is the most common reason a BMW overheats. This is the result of a coolant leak. The technicians at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire are able to look for and address coolant leaks.

Overheating can also indicate a thermostat issue. If the thermostat doesn’t open, coolant isn’t able to flow to where it needs to go.

A car could also overheat due to an electrical component, such as the electric cooling fan and electric cooling fan controller. Even a module or computer may be experiencing an issue that prevents the cooling fan from turning on. 

We have worked on vehicles that had functioning cooling fans that weren’t spinning fast enough to pull air through.

How to prevent your car from overheating

Some overheating problems can’t be avoided. However, there are some maintenance options available.

Coolant fluid exchanges, for examples, can help prevent the engine from overheating. It also extends the life of the cooling system components and overall life of the engine.

You can read more about coolant fluid exchanges in this article we wrote recently.

We recommend this service every 30,000 miles. Depending on a manufacturer’s recommendations, a vehicle could require it more often.

You might want to also consider a coolant fluid exchange if work is being done on the thermostat or you’re getting a new radiator or water pump. 

Depending on how much and where you’re driving, debris – such as dirt, bugs and grass – can start to build up in front of the radiator.

Getting it cleaned out to make sure the air is flowing through to the radiator can keep a vehicle from overheating.

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.