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Mileage-based services: what does your car need and when?

In Alignment, Battery, Cabin Air Filter, Maintenance, Shocks and Struts by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The lifespans of vehicles have lengthened over the years, which means that drivers are keeping them for extended periods of time.

To ensure that your car lasts as long as possible, it requires maintenance. After a period of time or as a vehicle reaches a specific mileage, certain tasks are recommended.

Some mileage-based services include flushes, replacing parts, and tune-up related items.

Year-based car maintenance

Every 3 to 5 years

Battery replacement is normally needed around every 5 years for good batteries. How long a car battery lasts can be impacted by the quality, type and size. Where you buy it from is another factor.

Worn tire on a Honda Pilot.No longer than 8 to 10 years

If it’s been 8 to 10 years since you last purchased tires, it’s time to invest in new ones. Depending on where you live, weather conditions and how you drive, your car may need new tires sooner.

Tires tread depth must be at least 2/32 of an inch. There shouldn’t be any chords showing or cracks in the sidewall

Mileage-based services

Every 3,000 to 5,000 miles

Oil changes on many vehicles should typically be performed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. We know that some manufacturers are recommending them every 10,000 to 15,000 miles or when the oil service light turns on. If you want to keep your vehicle for a long time, you may want to choose synthetic oil and have it changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

It’s a good idea to have tire rotations done every 5,000 miles, too. This service is a part of our oil change process.

Dirty cabin air filter on a Toyota Highlander.Between 10,000 and 20,000 miles

The lifespan of cabin air filters is normally 10,000 to 20,000 miles. This is determined by the kind of vehicle you have and the driving conditions.

How long air filters last vary, as well. They are among the components we check during oil changes. Air filter replacement can be suggested upon inspection or per the manufacturer’s guidelines. They could last somewhere around 10,000 or 15,000 miles.

Every 15,000 miles

Ram 3500 receiving a wheel alignment.It’s a good idea to have wheel alignments conducted once a year or every 15,000 miles. This service is also suggested when you purchase new tires and following any needed suspension repairs.

Tire balances and GDI induction services should be performed every 15,000 miles, too.

Every 30,000 miles

A few mileage-based services are needed every 30,000 miles. This can differ among vehicles and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Typically, every 30,000 miles is the suggested frequency for brake fluid exchanges, coolant fluid exchanges, transmission fluid exchanges, power steering fluid exchanges, and fuel induction services.

If you want to receive some sort of extended warranty, you may want to start earlier than what the manufacturer suggests.

When a vehicle has between 50,000 and 100,000 miles

Worn struts on a Toyota Camry.

Worn struts on a Toyota Camry

When your car has between 50,000 and 60,000 miles on it, we recommend taking a look at shocks and struts. 

Depending on the vehicle, you may need to replace them as soon as 50,000 to 60,000 miles. Generally, you change these suspension parts between 75,000 and 100,000 miles.

When a car gets to 100,000 miles

Cracking serpentine belt on a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Cracking serpentine belt on a Jeep Grand Cherokee

If a car’s serpentine belts haven’t been replaced by the time it reaches 100,000 miles, now is a good time to do so. Also called “drive belts”, serpentine belts go around various engine components, including alternators and water pumps.

Any original spark plugs should be changed, as well. Swapping out spark plugs when needed helps improve a vehicle’s operation and extends the lifespan of subsystems.

After 100,000 miles

After a vehicle hits 100,000 miles, it’s important to keep up with the mileage-based services needed every 15,000, 20,000 and 30,000 miles. The manufacturers will have different recommendations.

Wherever you have your car worked on, make sure that the mechanic or auto repair shop is aware of what maintenance it needs and when.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located near Dumfries, 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 happens if I don’t replace my shocks and struts?

In Shocks and Struts by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

So you go to an auto technician, and they tell you that your shocks or struts are going bad. But what does that really mean? Why is it so crucial to fix them?

Because a lot of people don’t hear about shocks and struts often, they usually mistake them as an added component that is not crucial to their car functioning – but that’s incorrect. They are vital to keeping you on the road.

Before understanding why you need to replace your shocks or struts, it’s important to understand what they are and what they do in your car.

Shocks are pieces in the vehicle that work with springs to keep the tires in contact with the road. The shocks help to make your ride smooth and keep your tires from bouncing significantly when you’re driving on the road.

Struts are a combination piece, with a shock and a coil spring attached together. These are also part of the suspension in you vehicle that help keep it stable, moving safely and minimize bouncing when driving over bumps and uneven road.

You can read about why shocks and struts are needed in this article.

The importance of replacing shocks and struts

Now that you know what shocks and struts are, let’s talk about why they are crucial to replace. Shocks and struts wear out over time, and because of that, you’ll begin to see some impairment with your vehicle. Your drive may be bumpier, your tires may bounce, and you could hear squeaking and even see fluid leaking from your vehicle.

When you see these warning signs – it’s time to act. Having one of our certified technicians at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire assess your vehicle when these issues begins happening will save you in the long run. Let’s talk about why.

When you have bad shocks and struts, they can’t maintain the stability in your car as well, which means you have tires that are bouncing up and down. Over time that will eat away at your tires and cause odd wear patterns and even smooth patches where the rubber has rubbed away, instead of normal standard wear patterns you would see on tires with functioning shocks and struts. The damage to your tires makes the care unsafe to drive, and you may very well end up having to pay to replace tires because of this issue.

Your brakes are impacted by bad shocks and struts too. When they’re worn out and you try to hit the brakes, your tires can actually go up into the air. While it’s only a couple of inches at the most, when your tires are not on the ground, it can be extremely dangerous. This is especially true when you’re on curves or making a turn, as your tires need to be firmly on the ground in order to make those moves in your vehicle safely. And when you’re trying to brake, you can actually lose 100 feet in braking space because of the impaired grip.

Additionally, because of that bouncing from the shocks and struts failing will also put a lot of strain on your car’s suspension system. By not doing it’s job – absorbing the shock – not having them replaced can lead to damage in the ball joints, wheel hubs, and many other components of the suspension. Without something to absorb the shock and energy of hitting a bump, it spreads throughout your car and will lead to damage. The repairs can be costly for suspension work – so by not replacing your shocks and struts at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire, you will end up with not only a potentially unsafe vehicle, but potentially one that doesn’t drive at all.

The most important risk you need to know about when it comes to replacing your shocks and struts is safety related. You and the ones you love are often in your vehicle. When you are driving with failing shocks and struts, the handling, control and safety of your vehicle are seriously impaired. Continuing to drive with worn out shocks and struts could lead to you getting into an accident that hurts you and your vehicle – and potentially some else’s car.

We acknowledge that sometimes shocks and struts can be expensive, but they are a crucial piece of your vehicle. By working with the certified technicians at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire, we will ensure that your vehicle is safe to use and help you get back out 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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Why shocks and struts are needed

In Shocks and Struts by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Every time your car hits a bump or a dip, it bounces.

Shocks and struts, which are part of the suspension, prevent it from continuing to do that as it travels down the road.

While working on a 2000 BMW, Brian noticed wetness around the shock and realized the shocks and struts were original to the car. Rust had also built up on the shock.

Kinds of shocks and strut setups

The shocks and struts set up for each vehicle varies. 

Most have a strut assembly — which is a shock and a spring combined — in the front. A lot of cars can have a strut or just a shock separately in the back.

The assembly connects to the car and the front wheels. The part that links with the wheels must be able to pivot as you turn.

When to replace shocks and struts

There are a few signs that shocks and struts need to be replaced.

They include a car making squeaking sounds or irregular tire wear patterns.

Another reason why you should replace these parts is it helps keep the tires in contact with the road, especially during an emergency situation when you want to have as much traction and control of the vehicle as possible.

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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Winter’s over: it’s time to replace your shocks and struts

In Maintenance, Promotions, Shocks and Struts by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

High mileage.

Cars and trucks with high mileage can have worn out shocks and struts and show no signs of leaking

We made through a pretty bad winter, with a blizzard, ice, and variable temperatures, and we’re sure you’re looking forward to the warmer weather as much as we are. But now that the winter weather has subsided, we’re left with size-able potholes, and the damage that the winter inflicted on our cars.

One of the important services you should consider as we move into the warmer months is getting shocks and struts inspected. Here are five signs that you should replace your shocks and struts.

Signs to replace shocks and struts

Your vehicle’s handling is off

If you’re on your morning commute or off running some errands and you notice that your car isn’t handling like it used to, and it’s got more bounce or a rougher ride than normal, that’s a sign that your shocks and struts are worn down.

You’re going in for a nose dive

When you’re braking, turning, or speeding up you should always be able to maintain control of your vehicle – in large part because of the shocks and struts in your car. But if you’re noticing that the ‘nose’ or front of your car is starting to dive, especially when you’re applying the brakes, then that’s a good sign that your shocks and struts need replacing.

Your tires have patches

Tire wear.

Worn suspension components like shocks and struts can cause premature tire wear

Shock and strut wear can impact your tires, and uneven wear is a good visual sign that they’re worn out and need to be replaced. When they wear out, your tire will bounce more frequently and hit the ground, losing rubber in the process – which is called cupping. You’ll often find that when shocks and struts need to be replaced, your tires will show uneven wear and smooth patches.

The car is making squeaking sounds

If you drive over a bump or pothole in the road, are you hearing loud squeaking noises coming from the suspension? Or when you’re getting out of your vehicle or braking? Then that’s another possible sign that your shocks and struts are in need of inspection, replacement, or repair.

Your car has more than 50,000 miles on it.

At our shop we follow guidance from the Motorist Assurance Program that recommends that drivers replace their shocks and struts after 50,000 miles. There’s some variance on mileage before its necessary, based on the type of car and road conditions, but if your car is over 50,000 miles and you’re experiencing some of the other issues we’ve mentioned, then it may be time to swap out those shocks and struts.

To get the spring and summer started off right, we’re offering a special at the shop, where you can get your shocks and struts inspected and replaced for only $20 over cost. To take advantage of this deal, bring this coupon to us to redeem the special pricing, good through April 30, 2016.

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.

Shocks and struts coupon that expires on April 30, 2016.

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Why did the repair facility advise me to replace my shocks/struts? I only have “X” amount of miles on my car!

In Girl in a Mechanics World, Shocks and Struts by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Written by Teresa Anderson – service writer for Steve’s Auto Repair and Tire

Shocks and struts are not something most people think about wearing out, like they do with tires. They’re not as visible for drivers, and they don’t wear out as fast, or need frequent maintenance, like oil changes.

Shock starting to leak oil. This type of shocks and struts problem can cause tire wear and a longer braking distance.

Shock starting to leak oil. This can cause tire wear and a longer braking distance.

Shocks and struts are important because they stabilize your vehicle and keep your car from bouncing when you drive over rough road. Think about how many bumps and potholes there are in the road. Think about the rough pavement and rocks that you drive over every single time you get into your car to go somewhere. This is what wears out your shocks and struts, and this is why when a car professional recommends replacing them, you should take them seriously.

To understand the seriousness of replacing shocks and struts, it’s important to understand what can happen if you’re driving around with a set that are worn out.

Why replacing shocks and struts is important

Worn shocks, the one on the bottom is starting to seep oil. (See dark spot in the middle.)

Worn shocks, the one on the bottom is starting to seep oil. (See dark spot in the middle.)

The job of your shocks and struts is not to keep the car up as most people conceive, it’s to minimize bouncing – which can really damage your car’s tires and suspension. And if your shocks and struts are worn out, and lead to an impaired suspension system in your car – this can have a serious consequence. Bad suspension can also wreak havoc on your brake system.  It can lengthen your stopping distance because the car is lunging forward with the weight of the vehicle putting more pressure on your brakes, causing them to wear out faster. And this could also lead you to get into an accident because of impaired handling and brake time.

Can you visibly see worn shocks and struts? Well…sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t. And for many drivers , it can be a challenge to determine when it’s time to commit to replacing your shocks and struts

Mercedes wheel bent from hitting a pothole also effects the shocks and struts.

Mercedes wheel bent from hitting a pothole also effects the shocks and struts.

Most manufacturers recommend replacement every 50,000 miles. Consider manufacturer’s recommendations, because after 50,000 miles they have definitely carried a lot of weight, gone quite a distance and are no longer performing as that should be, but a technician will be able to tell you for sure.

Looking for an easy way to determine if your shocks and struts are wearing out? The best way to tell if they are not performing the way they should is to do the bounce test.  Push down on the trunk of the car and the front of the car  and see how quickly it bounces back.  If it’s bouncy, the shocks are wearing out, if it returns slowly, they are most likely fine.

Worn strut not leaking from the front of a mini van.

Strut from the front of a mini van.

It should just bounce about 1 and ½ times and that should be it.  If you are getting more than than that, the suspension is failing. Mileage – including the 50,000 mile recommendation – doesn’t always mean that you have to replace them.  I’ve seen certain vehicles that are notorious for needing them replaced as early as 40,000 miles!  I know that may not be what you want to hear, especially since it means it will cost you money, but it’s necessary to keep your car running safely on the road.

The first thing a auto technician would do is inspect the condition of the suspension.  If they can see the fluid seeping out of the shocks, then they are weak because the fluid is coming out and it’s definitely time to consider replacement.

Even though they may not be leaking, it still may be time to replace them.  A technician can tell by looking at a few different things, and they will be able to guide you on what to do to get your vehicle working safely.

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.