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Regular oil changes prevent engine problems

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Every 3,000 to 5,000 miles – depending on the type of car you drive – you (hopefully) get your oil changed. But have you ever wondered why you need it? 

Having this service performed on a regular basis can prevent engine damage. 

In this article we wrote, we talked about how a vehicle needs to be running on the right amount of oil. Otherwise, parts can’t be lubricated properly. 

Some engine components operate off of oil pressure that is controlled by the vehicle’s computer and oil pressure solenoids. These parts can include variable valve timing and camshaft phasers, which adjust the timing of the camshaft and the engine’s operation. Sensors, such as oil pressure sensors, can also become clogged.

These aren’t the only reasons why oil changes are necessary.

Sludge build up

Sludge that had built up on the engine of a Land Rover.Putting off this form of maintenance can lead to sludge build up. The engine could stop working, as well.

A Land Rover recently came in with a bad starter. While working on the repair, we realized that the engine had seized, which caused the starter to break.

One of our technicians ended up replacing the engine. When it was removed, you could see a significant amount of sludge that had accumulated as time went on.

Oil filter problems

Part of our oil change process includes putting in new oil and a new oil filter. (We also perform a digital inspection, look over the vehicle, and conduct a tire rotation. You can read more about what we do in our article “How Steve’s Auto Repair performs oil changes”.)

An oil filter that had collapsed and a good oil filter.

Problems can occur if the oil filter is in a car for too long. A while back, we worked on a car that had its oil filter collapse. This blocked the oil from running through the system.

Regular canister type oil filters have an oil bypass. So, when the filter gets clogged up, the oil won’t be forced through the filter material. 

On these canister type oil filters, there’s so much suction that they can collapse, like this one did. Then, that oil is just bypassing the filter. Not only did it send contaminants to the engine, but it was left there for so long that pieces of the oil filter were being sucked up into the engine. This can plug small oil galleries and result in an engine failure.

Our maintenance recommendations

Taking care of your vehicle doesn’t just happen with one appointment at an auto repair shop, it needs to be maintained over a period of time.

Make sure to use a high quality oil filter and oil – there are many good brands. This can make a big difference in the longevity of your vehicle.

You can also protect your engine and ensure that it continues performing well by having BG MOA added after an oil change. This oil additive decreases sludge build up and can increase the fuel economy on an automobile.

Aside from having your car checked on a regular basis, it’s important to get to know your car, what it needs, and when it needs it. The owner’s manual is a great place to start. Have oil changes and other services performed based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Also, bring it to a mechanic or auto service center you trust. If you don’t understand something, ask questions.

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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Kinds of car axles used today, bad axle symptoms

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

A lot of traveling happens between celebrations, fun with family, and day-to-day tasks.

Axles help keep our vehicles moving. So it’s important to make sure that they are in good shape.

Your vehicle may have a bad axle if you notice any of these problems:

  • Shaking steering wheel
  • Clicking noise
  • Noisy u-joints
  • Axle seals are leaking
  • Grease on tires

We will go into more detail later in this article. But first, let’s discuss the different kinds of car axles that can be found on vehicles nowadays.

Each vehicle is designed with different purposes and capabilities. The type of axle yours has is determined by a few different factors.

Types of car axles

The axles typically seen on automobiles today are: CV Axles, Straight Axles and Rear Axles.

Constant-Velocity Axles (CV) Axles

Constant-Velocity (CV) Axles are the first we will talk about. They feature CV joints that allow the front wheels to be equally operated by the transmission. 

A lot of cars that have front wheel drive and certain four-wheel drive ones feature CV Axles.

You may see them on vehicles with independent suspension, including the front of 4-wheel drive trucks and Subarus with all wheel drive. 

Sometimes, two kinds of axles are used. For example, CV Axles might be used on the front of a truck while Solid Axles are installed on the rear.

Straight Axles

Straight Axles are the next type we are going to discuss. Used on different suspensions, Straight Axles come with a simple design.

Years ago, these axles were pretty common among automobiles. Today, their usage is mainly limited to heavy duty trucks and the front of work vehicles. Jeeps and trucks that are lifted or used for offroading may have Straight Axles, as well.

U-joints can be found on the front of certain four wheel drive Jeeps. These parts make rotating the wheels possible.

Rear Axles

Lastly, there are Rear Axles. They have axle shafts that the differential links. 

Rear Axles come in varying designs – semi-floating, which can be seen on cars, light trucks and SUVs; and full-floating axles, which tend to be installed on heavy duty and certain mid-size trucks.

In the semi-floating axle design, the wheel and flange are attached by the axle. Meanwhile, full-floating axles rest on bearings and are held in by a retainer on the outside.

How to tell when axles are going bad

Earlier, we mentioned some bad axle symptoms. We would like to provide a deeper explanation about these different indicators.

Shaking steering wheel

A shaking steering wheel can be the result of the CV joint on a front wheel drive axle binding up due to lack of lubrication or wearing out. U-joints that go from the axles to the spindles on older jeeps with a straight axle on the front may bind up, as well.

Clicking noise

You could also hear a “click” while turning or accelerating. The CV joint might start making a clicking noise when it’s worn out from daily use. If the CV boot is broken or torn, water can get in, preventing the grease from working properly. If it’s really torn, sand and dirt start to collect and act as sandpaper. This causes it to wear out more quickly. You get the clicking noise when making a turn because it’s starting to bind up.

Noisy u-joints

Clicking isn’t the only sound you might hear. For vehicles that have straight axles, a squeaking sound can be coming from the u-joints.

Axle seals are leaking

On a front wheel drive car, axle seals would be in the transmission. If you have a bad axle that’s causing a vibration or bouncing up and down more than it should, that could make the seal go bad faster.

Grease on tires

When an axle boot tears, grease leaks out and can sometimes land on the tire. This is why it’s good to go to an auto repair shop that looks over different components of the vehicle to catch things like this. It may not be something you see just by looking at it at ground level.

Ways you can take care of axles

As with other parts of a car, maintenance allows the car axles and components associated with them to last.

This includes getting the CV Axle boots and the vent cap of Solid Axles inspected regularly.

U-joints should be checked and greased (when necessary), as well.

It’s also important that those who drive vehicles with straight axles ensure that auto repair shops and professionals use the correct kind of differential fluid when servicing them.

If you believe that there is something wrong with your car axles or you find out they’re going bad, don’t avoid replacing them.

The problem can worsen the longer it goes without being addressed. Plus, the consequences could extend to other areas of the car.

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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Toyota cabin air filter, air flow problems

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Things got a bit squirrely at Steve’s Auto Repair this week.

One of our customers brought their Toyota by, because they were hearing a rattling noise. There also wasn’t a lot of air coming through the vents.

Nuts that squirrels put in a Toyota's air cleaner box.

Nuts that squirrels put in a Toyota’s air cleaner box.

Our Woodbridge mechanics looked into the problem and came across an unexpected sight – the air cleaner box was filled with nuts.

Squirrel nests that were built in the cabin air filter box of a Toyota.

Squirrel nests that were built in the cabin air filter box of a Toyota.

Nests had been built in the cabin air filter box, as well. Some squirrels, apparently, decided to make the vehicle their second home. 

How often to change cabin air filter

The fix was a relatively simple – yet time consuming – one. The technician changed the Toyota cabin air filter, a component that purifies air going into the cabin area and blocks out dirt, dust, pollen, and bacteria. Depending on the vehicle and driving conditions, a new cabin air filter should be installed every 10,000 or 20,000 miles. 

As part of our courtesy inspection, we check the cabin air filter. When replacing them, our technicians also spray BG Frigi Fresh, a disinfectant, into the vent system.

To address the problem the Toyota was experiencing, we also called in some backup – the shop vacuum – to remove any nuts that had collected deeper in the car.

How to tell if there are rodents in your vehicle 

Animals setting up shop in a vehicle isn’t an uncommon occurrence, especially during the colder months. Automobiles offer several perks for mice, rodents and other creatures. Not only do they provide protection from predators, they are also warm and some parts even give off attractive smells.

The air conditioning air distribution box, the air box, and the engine are a few areas mice like to burrow into. Their presence, however, can’t go unnoticed for very long. 

Eventually, you may notice signs that you have mice living in your vehicle, such as mouse droppings, upholstery damage, and insulation that has been chewed up. Your car – like the Toyota we mentioned earlier – may also experience some problems. This could be the result of mice chewing wires, or animals building nests or making your mode of transportation their personal pantry.

How do you keep critters out of your car?

You may be wondering how to keep rodents out of car. There are methods you can try. Being watchful for insulation damage and nests is one step.

We also suggest tucking dryer sheets – a smell that mice hate – into the engine compartment, and regularly cleaning out old food, snacks and drinks, which can draw rodents in.

Placing mouse traps around any vehicles that are parked in a garage is another strategy. However, it’s important that you remember to set them aside when you go to move the cars.

You should avoid feeding animals – especially near your car – as well. We had a customer who would feed the squirrels. They decided to chew the wiring on her vehicle, and she needed to have it towed in. The customer continued feeding the squirrel near it, and the same problem happened two more times. Eventually, we had to convince her to stop.

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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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.

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 guides.

Timing chain and timing chain guides.

These are items related to timing chains:

  • Timing chains
  • Timing chain guides
  • Timing chain tensioner
  • Timing chain sprockets
  • Camshaft seals
  • Crankshaft seals
Cadillac 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
Land rover 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.