View Post

When to replace a serpentine belt

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Taking care of your car sometimes involves changing its belts.

The serpentine belt goes around engine accessories, including the power steering pump, air compressor and alternator. They can also be called “drive belts”.

Because the belt helps various components run correctly, it’s important to have it checked on a regular basis.

About drive belts

Vehicles on the road can have different setups. Some cars have more than one serpentine belt, while others have a couple of different belts.

These are some drive belts found on today’s cars:

  • Dual drive belts: Dual drive belts are made up of “v” grooves on each side. 
  • Serpentine belt: Like dual drive belts, serpentine belts feature “v” grooves. However, they can only be found on one side, while the other side is flat.
  • Stretch belts: Stretch belts are on a lot of Chevrolet trucks and SUVs.
  • Timing belts: Surrounding the pulleys, timing belts make sure camshafts and crankshafts maintain the right timing.
  • V belts: V belts can be found on older cars, which may have up to five.

Belt problems we look for

Belts are among the items our technicians inspect during the courtesy check. A digital vehicle inspection is performed at oil changes and when other car maintenance is needed.

We keep an eye out for a few serpentine belt problems that can develop from daily use. Worn belts eventually need to be changed. If the grooves are looking more like a “u” rather than a “v”, it may be time to have a new one put in.

Another factor is that drive belts can start to crack. A belt was recommended for a Nissan Rogue because the ribs were cracking across the belt.

Glazed drive belt on a Lexus GX470.

Glazed drive belt on a Lexus GX470

Whether a vehicle needs a new belt also depends on the manufacturer’s guidelines for how many cracks a belt may have per inch.

Our technicians look for glazed belts during their inspection, as well. Discolored belts are an indicator of oxidation, which is a result of heat and friction.

Oil and coolant leaks are other issues that can lead to serpentine belt replacement. Belts could move or not work as designed if they are contaminated with fluids.

How often the serpentine belt should be changed

Manufacturers have recommendations for how often a vehicle’s belt should be replaced. 

Typically, they last about 100,000 miles, depending on the quality of the belt, the usage of the vehicle, and the environment that it’s in. 

For drivers who live near the ocean, where there’s a lot of salt in the air, the belts may only last 30,000 to 50,000 miles.

Serpentine belt.You need to check not only the belt but the serpentine belt tensioner. Not enough pressure on the belt can cause it to wear. The ribs can wear down on the belt, which can actually start to slip.

If you get too many cracks within an inch, then it’s definitely time to change it, no matter what the mileage is.

Other repairs or maintenance could result in swapping out the belt, too. An auto repair shop may suggest installing one if a component it goes around is being replaced.

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. 

View Post

Power steering pumps in Toyotas

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The power steering pumps on Toyotas can produce a few thousand pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure, depending on the required load. 

The pump pushes the fluid through the hoses to the power steering rack and pinion, which is connected to the steering knuckles that move the steering wheel left or right.

As with any part on a vehicle, over time components can leak.

If you start to hear a whining noise while you’re turning the wheel, you should check your power steering fluids. This could mean that there’s a leak in your hoses, rack or pump.

Maintenance on power steering pumps

Doing proper maintenance on your power steering system, such as changing the fluid every 30,000 miles, will help prolong the lifespan of the components and can reduce the cost of replacing power steering parts.

With today’s vehicles being as high-tech as they are, you must use the correct type of power steering fluid. Otherwise, you could do damage to the system.

One of the things that Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire does while doing an oil change is look over systems like these to let you know about any existing problems.

If the system runs out of fluid or the power steering pump stops working, it can be hard to turn the steering wheel.

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. 

View Post

Does your BMW have an update for the oil filter housing?

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

A common problem on some BMW engines is the oil filter housing may leak.

This can occur when the original, plastic housing warps and cracks.

Automotive technicians are able to replace it with updated oil filter housing that’s made out of aluminum.

Looking for oil leaks

There can be many places on a BMW engine that leaks oil. If a lot of oil is covering the engine, it could be difficult to determine where the leak is coming from.

One of the first places to start is to degrease the engine and then add an ultraviolet dye that’s compatible with the engine oil. Then, run the engine and use and ultraviolet light to locate the oil leak.

Generally, you can find it in one to two hours. Small leaks, however, may take between one and five days to show up. The vehicle might also need to be driven around and brought back to the automotive center to recheck it.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire services BMW’s. Call today to make an appointment and ask us about our shuttle service. Check out our article about oil leaks for more information. 

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.

View Post

Power steering issues can be caused by rusting

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Toyotas can be reliable vehicles that last for many years.

However, rust can build up on the components of various automobiles, including Toyota SUVs, forerunners, and Tundras.

This is especially true for those driven near the sea or in areas where large amounts of salt are used to treat the roads.

Power steering problems

Individuals driving these vehicles may eventually notice that the power steering isn’t working correctly.

When checked, technicians may not find any issues with the power steering pump, the rack and pinion, and the power steering cooler.

“Upon further inspection, you can see that the intermediate steering shaft that contains a universal joint is rusted and is starting to seize up, which is making it feel that the power steering is going bad,” Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire Owner Scott Whitling said.

Toyota steering shaft.

Toyota steering shaft

To assist with steering, he explained, the pump and rack and pinion must receive feedback from the steering wheel. The cause of the problem can be incorrectly identified.

“It can easily be misdiagnosed and that’s why it’s important to go to your professional automotive repair facility with ACE certified technicians,” Whitling said.

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.

View Post

How drivers can address frost, prepare for winter months

In Fluids, Maintenance, Safety, Windshield Wipers by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Drivers are discovering an unwelcome guest in the morning — ice on their vehicle’s windows and windshields.

Frost on front windshield.

A few techniques can help speed up the defrosting process.

When preparing for the commute, it’s important to spend a few minutes getting rid of the frost.

“You want to make sure that your windows aren’t frosted up on the side, so you can see that car coming or that kid walking across the street,” Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire Owner Scott Whitling said.

Ways to address frost

Motorists should let their car run for 1 to 3 minutes before hitting the road.

“It allows heat to start to build up and, if you already have your defroster on, you can go ahead and start defrosting the windshield,” Whitling said.

Pointing outer vents to the side windows can help thaw any ice on them.

Whitling suggests drivers tests certain parts of their vehicle.

“It’s a good time to check your windshield washer fluid and make sure that it’s going to protect down to the correct temperature,” he said.Rear Window Defrost.

They should check their rear window defroster, as well. Electricity runs through the lines on the window to melt frost that has accumulated.

“It can take anywhere between, depending on how powerful the rear defroster is, 1 minute to 5 minutes. So, give it a little bit of time, make sure that it works,” Whitling said. “If not, now’s a good time to get your vehicle in to get it checked out.”

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.