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Car safety tips to keep you on the road this winter

In Safety by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

We’ve already had some minor snowfall this winter season, and it looks like we’ve got more ahead before spring arrives.

So especially when it comes to your daily commute or rush hour traffic in Northern Virginia, you need to make sure your car is in good shape and is ready for bad weather when it strikes.

Regular maintenance on your vehicle is always advisable – regardless of the time of year – but here are some car safety tips that are especially important for snow and ice on the roads.

Car safety tips

Check the tread on your tires.

If you just had a state inspection or your automotive repair shop does a thorough inspection of your vehicle when you come in for a service, chances are that you’d know if the tread on your tires is sufficient. But when it comes to your safety, you should always take a look for yourself, and see if your tires have enough tread. Tread is important because the more tread your tire has, the more traction you’ll have on snowy and icy roads. You never want your tires to be below 2/32 of an inch.

Also check the tire pressure.

Your tires should be regularly checked to make sure they’re properly and fully inflated, but your checks on the air pressure should increase during the winter months. Cold temperatures many times cause tires to lose air pressure, and when tires aren’t properly inflated it can cause flats or other tire damage that can be costly to fix. On the inside of your vehicle door, the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure level is listed. When checking the pressure, make sure your tires are at or near that level.

Make sure you have enough fluids.

In the winter, making sure that your vehicle has enough coolant, window washer fluid, and gas – especially before a storm hits – are very important. Coolant will help your vehicle properly defrost, and you need your windshield wipers able to push away snow or water from your windshield. And if you’re trying to get around in a winter storm, having a full gas tank could be crucial. You should also consider replacing your windshield wipers if they’re getting worn out.

Remove snow and ice from your vehicle before driving.

It sounds simple, but so many drivers do not remove ice and snow from their windshields and the tops and sides of their vehicle before they head out on the road. Taking the extra time to clear your car off will ensure that you know everything is working correctly, and that you won’t be sending sheets of ice and snow off of your car onto the road, potentially hitting other cars or pedestrians.

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.

Make sure to follow these driving and school bus safety tips

In Safety by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Today is the first day of school in Prince William County, and that means all of those school buses will be out on the road transporting students.

Below are some important rules for parents and drivers out there, on how to drive and stop when near school buses.

School bus safety tips
School bus safety tips.

  • If you notice that a school bus is stopped and has flashing red lights and a stop sign on the side of the bust, you need to make sure you stop your vehicle and wait until the bus begins moving again, whether you’re on a highway, private road, or school road. This makes sure that students can exit the bus safely.
  • Even if the signals are not flashing on the bus, if it is letting passengers off, you still need to stop your vehicle and wait for them to safely exit. Sometimes yellow lights on a school bus will start flashing before the red lights, and you need to stop and be aware of these lights as well.
  • If you are on the opposite side of the road as a bus and there is a median or barrier in between, then you are not required to stop your vehicle if a buses’ lights are flashing.

“This time of year, you’re going to have an increase in bus traffic because school’s about to start. It’s really important that, as you drive, you are aware of your surroundings. If you see that you’re approaching a bus, slow down. Take that extra time to maintain that safe distance,” said Officer Nathan Probus with the Prince William County Police Department.

In Virginia, passing a bus when their lights are activated is a misdemeanor crime that can be punishable by up to 12 months in prison, or a $2,500 fine.

Make sure you stay safe and start this school year off right.

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.

Is your car ready for summer?

In Brakes, Cooling System, Maintenance, Safety, Tires and Wheels by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The sun is shining, and it’s almost time for summer. While the summer offers plenty of fun and great weather, it also comes with summertime traffic, and the gridlock and bumper-to-bumper with the Washington, D.C. commute and beach traffic.

Keeping that traffic in mind, you’re going to want to make sure that your car is prepared. Here are some things you should check to get your car ready for summer.

Get your car ready for summer by checking the air conditioning system.

Make sure your car or trucks air conditioning works good for the summer months

Is your A/C blowing cold?

With your heat blasting during the winter months, chances are that you haven’t needed to use the air conditioning – which means that you may be unaware of potential problems with your A/C system. Nothing is worse than trying to head out for a long car ride – or even your morning commute – and realizing that your A/C is blowing hot.

If you’ve noticed that your A/C system is blowing warmer than it normally would, it’s good to bring it in and see if there are any leaks, and get replacement or repair done before the thermostat really starts to rise.

Are your brakes ready for stop-and-go?

Brake pads and rotors.

Front brake pads and rotors need to be checked to ensure proper vehicle braking

Checking the brakes is another way to ensure your car is ready for summer.

We all know that when you live in this area, there are bound to be traffic jams, regardless of the time of year. But with the summer, and all of the vacation and beach traffic in Northern Virginia, bumper-to-bumper can be a real challenge if you’re brakes aren’t in good shape.

Having quality brakes that aren’t worn down can make a huge difference in your vehicle’s stopping time, and can be the difference between a hard stop and a fender bender. For our customers we recommend that they change out their brake pads when they’re worn down below 4/32nds.

Make sure you’re cooling system is doing its job

Engine coolant cap.

Make sure your engine cooling system is working properly

When’s the last time you had your cooling system serviced or checked? The cooling system in your vehicle – different from the car’s air conditioning – is important, and needs to be checked on regularly.

The cooling system uses a radiator, water pump, and a cooling fan to help create circulation in your car’s engine, allowing it to release heat so that your engine doesn’t become overheated. Especially as the weather gets warmer, all of that heat outside can take a toll on your car’s engine if you don’t care for it properly.

Make sure that you’re getting the coolant fluids topped off, and that you’re getting cooling system flushes this summer, to keep from dealing with an overheated engine.

Are your tires worn down?

Tire tread.

Make sure your tires are safe, with Goodyear tires

Whether you’ve got winter tires on your vehicle, or you’ve been riding on your all-seasons for a while, you need to be thinking about the condition of your tires as the summer approaches.

Just like brakes, the condition of your tires makes a huge difference in your stopping time and speed, as well as the comfort and handling of your drive. At Steve’s we recommend that customers consider replacing their brakes when they’re down below 4/32nds. Especially with all of the bumper-to-bumper traffic ahead, it’s good to make sure that your tires are in excellent condition for the summer.

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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3 things to watch out for with all this rainy weather

In Headlamps, Safety, Tires and Wheels, Windshield Wipers by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

It’s been raining for several days now, and you’re probably wondering when it’s going to end. While we can’t predict the weather or make the rain go away, what we can do is tell you about things you should be on the lookout for with all of this rainy weather.

Check to see how your windshield wipers are doing

Your car’s windshield wipers see a lot more use when there’s rain for long stretches of time, and eventually like all things do, the wipers will wear out with frequently use. Having worn out windshield wipers can be a hazard, particularly at night or when there’s heavy rainfall, because they’re not as effective at removing the water from your windshield. They can also leave streaks and splotches that can make it difficult to see on the road. If you notice that your windshield wipers aren’t working very well, stop in and we can get those fixed quickly for you.

Headlights on a Toyota.

Check to see if you have a headlight out even daytime running lights can burn out.

Are your headlights working?

Much like the windshield wipers, if you’re using your headlights during the day and night because of gloomy and dark conditions, then you could see that one of your headlight bulbs has gone out. Sometimes people don’t notice that a headlight is out until it’s dark and they’re visibility is impaired, and that’s not the time when you want them to stop working on you. Checking your headlights regularly, especially during long stretches of rainy weather, is an easy way to see if your headlight bulbs need to be replaced.

Do your tires help you to stop in rainy weather?

Tire worn down to the tread bar indicators.

Worn tire down to the tread bar indicators definetly time to change these tires.

Regardless of the conditions outside or the tires you have, over time your tires will wear down from frequent use on the road. You want to make sure that your tires are at safe wear levels even when it’s sunny and bright, but days when it’s raining or snowing are really when you need those tires the most, as they’re what gives you traction and helps you to stop safely on the road.

New tires with deep grooves.

New tires have deep grooves and sipes to channel water away to keep you safe on the road.

Now is definitely a good time to check the tread depth on your tires, and make note of how good your car’s traction is on the road. If your tread depth is worn, it could be time for a new set of tires, or you may risk sliding around on the road in wet conditions.

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.

Noticing car problems after storm? Get them checked out.

In Alignment, Fluids, Maintenance, Safety, Tires and Wheels, Transmission by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Last weekend, the entire area was pelted with more than a foot of snow, with up to almost three feet in some places! Even though the snow has stopped and you’ve managed to dig out your driveway to get back on the roads, you may be experiencing some car problems following the storm.

Here are some common issues that our technicians at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire has seen following the blizzard, that you should get checked out as soon as possible:

  1. Tires
  2. Transmission
  3. Windshield wipers
  4. Rim wheel
  5. Wheel alignment
  6. Windshield washer fluid

More information on each topic can be found below.

More about car problems

Tires

If you’ve been driving on icy roads in your neighborhood, hitting blocks of snow and debris on your travels, or even running into curbs hidden beneath the snow, then you run the risk of a flat tire. Our technicians will be able to assess the damage to your tires if you’ve got a flat, and make recommendations on repair or replacement.

Transmission

If you own a truck or you’ve been out plowing, the storm likely put a lot of strain on your vehicle. Particularly if you were moving over large amounts of snow, or were trying to plow streets, it’s not uncommon for a vehicle’s transmission to be damaged. We’re seeing several plows at our shop this week to fix transmission related issues.

Windshield wipers

One the most common things we’re seeing is damage to vehicles’ windshield wipers. Even if you lifted them up before the storm, the weight of the snow on the front of your car, or placing the wipers back on the windshield before all snow and ice were completely removed can cause them to be bent or broken. This is something our technicians can quickly switch out for you, and get you back on the road in no time.

Rim wheel

When heading out on the road after digging your car out, you may have noticed some shaking and vibration while driving. While this could be another more involved issue with your vehicle, a lot of the cars we’ve seen this week were having this shaking in their car because ice and snow were still in the rim wheel of the tires, throwing off the car’s balance.

Wheel alignment

Hitting curbs or icy patches won’t only cause a potential flat tire – it can also mess with your vehicle’s wheel alignment. Particularly after hitting chunks of ice or other debris, if you notice your car pulling to one side on flat pavement, then it’s a good idea to bring your car to a shop to have it looked at.

Windshield washer fluid

Not able to use your wiper fluid to clear your windshield? Drivers that didn’t check their windshield washer fluid to make sure it was at appropriate levels and the right mixture before the storm may be having issues with using their wipers correctly, as the wiper fluid is frozen inside.

The storm may have kept you from going out, but don’t let car problems stop you too. Our technicians and service advisers at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire can inspect your vehicle to make sure that everything’s in working order, and get you safely back out on the road this winter.

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.