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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.

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After hours pick up offered at Steve’s Auto Repair

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

When you’re having work done on your car at a local auto repair shop, a bit of planning may be needed to bring the vehicle by or pick it up. 

Steve’s Auto Repair has a few different pick up and drop off options to make it easier for customers.

Some drivers can’t pick up their vehicle while we’re open. For that reason, we are now providing an alternative – our after hours key return.

This option allows you to acquire your car keys without having to worry about them being left in an unlocked vehicle.

After hours pick up option

If you are unable to come by between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, you may pay for any repairs or services through text or email. 

Once the payment has been processed, you will receive a code to use in our after hours key return. This will allow you to get your key.

When you are available, swing by Steve’s Auto Repair, which is located at 2603 Hanco Center Drive in Woodbridge. Then, type the code into the after hours key return.

By offering this after hours pick up option, we hope to make it easier for you to get back 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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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.

How to prepare for a road trip

  • 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.