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Suspension sounds and what causes them

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Is there a new sound you have started to hear when driving? It could be coming from your car’s suspension system.

Many parts make up this system and eventually wear out from daily use.

Different components and conditions can result in certain noises and symptoms.

Suspension sounds may be anything from a squeaking sound to a knocking or popping noise.

Different suspension sounds you may hear

Jeep Grand Cherokee tie rod ends.

Tie rod ends

Squeaking noise

If you hear a squeaking sound, there may be a problem with the pitman arms or tie rod ends. 

Typically found on older vehicles and trucks, pitman arms connect with the drag link. Worn tie rod ends and those that are moving a lot can “clunk” as the wheel moves.

Clunking sound

Tie rod ends aren’t the only reason you might notice a clunking noise.

Ford F-150 ball joint replacement.

Ball joint

This sound could also occur if a ball joint slips from the steering knuckle. Idler arms and broken sway bar end links can be behind the sound, too.

Knocking noise

A knocking sound may stem from other components.

Worn control arm bushings on a Toyota Sienna.

Worn control arm bushings

The noise could indicate that you have worn or missing control arm bushings. They usually make a knocking noise as you drive. You might hear a “thunk” when you turn.

Another source of a knocking sound are bearings on strut mounts. These parts can create it when they’re worn.

Fiat 500 worn sway bar links.

Sway bar links

A rattling noise might be related to sway bar links or sway bar bushings when they are wearing out.

Other sounds

Clunking, knocking and squeaking aren’t the only noises that are caused by the suspension system.

A clanking sound might occur with certain setups if they don’t have spring isolators. These rubber spaces, located between the strut and strut mount, are responsible for making sure the coil spring doesn’t move. If the isolators aren’t there and the spring shifts, you could hear clanking while turning.

For other systems, worn coil springs can lead to an occasional popping sound as you hit bumps.

It’s important to note that some noises may appear to be suspension sounds but are coming from a different area of the vehicle.

For example, a wheel bearing that’s wearing out can make a knocking or thumping noise at certain angles. In extreme conditions, a tire with a broken steel belt or something lodged in it can also make noise.

Addressing suspension noises

Whatever the cause of the noise turns out to be, it’s worth looking into.

When you notice a sound that you don’t remember hearing before, have an automotive expert look into the problem soon. 

Taking notes about the kind of noise you hear, when it’s occurring, and where the sound seems to be coming from can help narrow down the search. This could also get your vehicle back to you sooner.

If there’s any other relevant information (even if it seems insignificant), make sure to share that with the repair shop too. It could be the final clue that solves the mystery.

When performing noise diagnostics, our automotive technicians take the car on a test drive. Then – using information provided by the customer – they try to recreate the noise and pinpoint its location.

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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How to change a flat tire

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Does your car’s tire look like the picture above? If it does, the tire will need to be replaced.

In some cases – like when you’re in the breakdown lane on I-95 – it’s probably best (and safer) to call a tow truck and have the car brought to a nearby auto repair shop.

But if you’re in a parking lot or your driveway and you have the needed tools, you can change the tire yourself.

One of our technicians installed a spare tire on a Volkswagen Beetle the other week after another employee realized she had a flat tire on her way to work. 

How to change a flat tire

Before you begin to change a flat tire, you should have these items on hand:

  • Spare tire or new tire
  • Bottle jack or jack stand
  • Wheel chock
  • The wheel lock key (if your tires require it)
  • A tire pressure gauge

Chocking the wheels on a Volkswagen Beetle.It’s ideal that you also have a safety cone, triangle, or flare.

When you go to change a flat tire, turn your four-way flashers on. That way, other people can see you. If possible, try to replace it on a flat surface.

Then, you will want to set up the cone, triangle or flare, and chock your wheels. We recommend chocking wheels on the opposite side from the flat tire. For example, if the front driver’s side tire needs to be changed, it’s a good idea to chock the rear passenger tire. This is because the weight falls on this wheel when you lift the car up and over.

Once you have completed these safety measures, you are ready to change the tire.

Using a jack on a Volkswagen Beetle.Step 1: Set the jack

Start the tire replacement by setting up whatever jack you have available. It’s ideal if you can lift the car from the frame or pinch weld. Begin taking weight off the vehicle. 

Side note: It’s important that you make sure the bottle jack is steady and able to support the car’s weight. You can test this by lifting the vehicle all the way up, and give it a little rock to confirm it’s solid. Drop it back down so the rubber sits on the road.

Step 2: Remove the lug nuts

As you’re taking weight off the car (and before the tire is lifted) start taking off the lug nuts. This will prevent the tire from spinning when you go to take it the rest of the way off. 

Step 3: Put on the spare tire or new tire

Adding lug nuts to a spare tire.Take all of the lug nuts off and remove the flat tire. Make sure to have a spare tire ready. The less time you are on that jack, the better. You can’t control tractor trailers coming down the highway, which blows a lot of wind. If you’re on a bad jack or crooked spot, you want to be quick about it.

Step 4: Replace the lug nuts

Quickly replace a few of the lug nuts, hand tight. Then add the other two before dropping the vehicle down. You should put the lug nuts on in a star pattern the best that you can by hand.

Step 5: Check the tire pressure

Checking tire pressure on spare tire.Before heading down the road, make sure you look at the tire pressure of the new or spare tire using a tire pressure gauge. 

You can find information about how much a tire requires on the sidewall or the driver’s side door jam. If the tire pressure is a little low, you can fill it up at many gas stations.

If you’re not on a full size tire, you’ll want to go to your auto repair shop as soon as possible. The recommended miles for a donut spare is typically 50 miles. It’s also important that you look at the sidewall for the maximum speed limit. For some donut spares, you shouldn’t drive more than 55 miles per hour.

Items to keep in your car

With the winter months around the corner, it’s a good idea to keep several items in your vehicle, in case of an emergency.

These include:

  • Water
  • A blanket
  • Jumper cables
  • A shovel
  • A flashlight
  • A first aid kit

These can come in handy if your car battery dies, or if you’re stranded on the side of the road and it’s going to take a while for the tow truck to arrive.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located near Manassas, 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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Steve’s Auto Repair becomes V3 Certified Company

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

With its proximity to Marine Corps Base Quantico and Fort Belvoir, Northern Virginia is full of military members and veterans.

Veterans not only had a role in the security of our country, they also have an active part in the running of our auto repair shop.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire has been named a V3 Certified Company. The designation is provided through the Virginia Department of Veterans Services’ Virginia Values Veterans V3 Program. This program seeks to help employers carry out practices based on recruiting, hiring and retaining veterans.

To become certified, staff members completed training that focused on a variety of topics, including information about the United States military, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Skills offered by those who served and strategies for employing and keeping veterans were covered, as well.

A few Steve’s Auto Repair employees are veterans.Apprenticeship program

We have staff members who have served in different areas, like the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, active Army Reserve, Marine Corps and Navy.

One of our technicians, who was in the Army, now participates in our apprenticeship program.

“We appreciate all veterans for their service. Those we have the privilege of working with are an important part of our team,” Steve’s Auto Repair Co-Owner ST Billingsley said. “We are proud to be a veteran owned and operated business and are honored to be a V3 Certified Company.”

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located near Lake Ridge, 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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How to tell when you need new tires

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

A good set of tires can provide traction in different weather conditions, enable drivers to maintain control, and decrease the chance of hydroplaning. 

Eventually, there comes a time – whether it’s because of age or damage – when a driver needs to purchase new tires.

How often this process takes place is determined by several factors, including how a tire is designed, the quality, its producer, and driving conditions. 

How long tires last and flat repair

When it comes to tires, you get what you pay for. If you decide to save money and go with the cheapest option, you may be changing them more frequently than if you were to choose a high quality tire. 

Some tires have a longer lifespan. Certain ones from Goodyear come with a 50,000 mile warranty, while others can go as long as 85,000 miles.

If this is an important characteristic you’re looking for, then it would be a good idea to research different options or talk to an automotive expert.

Those who travel through a lot of construction areas and on roads that have potholes are more likely to get a flat tire or face tire damage. Here’s what you should do if you have a flat tire.

Depending on the location and angle, we may be able to repair them with a plug patch. However, we aren’t able to fix certain injuries – like those on the inner or outer shoulder.

When should you get new tires?

Blown out tire.Sometimes you can determine if you need new tires just by looking at them, especially if the tire blows out, there are cracks in the sidewall, or you can see the chords.

Tires also wear out overtime and, as they do, they aren’t able to perform the way they are intended to.

The tire tread can tell you if the time to replace them is drawing near.

A tire must measure at least 2/32 of an inch to pass the Virginia state inspection. Because some tires need to be changed sooner, we may start recommending new tires when they reach between 3/32 of an inch and 5/32 of an inch.

You can do a quick measure of the tread through the penny test. The tire should be changed if – as you’re holding the penny upside down on the grooves – the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head is visible.

Taking care of tires

You can ensure that your tires last by having wheel alignments and tire rotations performed regularly.

Tire alignments, done yearly or when new tires are purchased, help prevent uneven tire wear. During this process, various settings are checked, like caster, camber and toe.

Our Woodbridge mechanics conduct tire rotations as part of our oil change service, which is typically every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Tire rotations prolong a tire’s lifespan and fend off feathering.

If you’re in the market for new tires, Goodyear Tire is a great brand to look into. It produces durable ones, like the Goodyear Assurance MaxLife Tire and the Goodyear Assurance All-Season Tire. The tire manufacturer also owns Kelly Tire and Dunlop Tire, which offer more economical tires.

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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Environmentally friendly actions we take

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

We believe in helping our community. Part of that support includes doing our part to help protect the place we live and work in.

From the services we offer to the parts that are replaced, Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire follows several environmentally friendly procedures.

Old brake rotors.

Recycling products, environmentally friendly tires available

For example, many of the products we replace are recycled. A company is hired by us to process old oil and coolant. Car batteries, brake rotors, and other scrap metal are picked up and recycled, as well.

Recycling these fluids and parts enables us to reduce waste and discard them in a safe and appropriate way.

Tires also play a part in our goal to be eco-friendly.

On top of having tires recycled, we sell and inform customers about eco-friendly tires, which weigh less and require less force in order to move.

You can determine which tires are environmentally friendly by taking a look at the tread depth, which are going to start at a lower number.

When repairing flat tires, our technicians use plugs rather than Fix-A-Flat, which is bad for the environment. Anyone who uses this product is charged a hazmat fee. That way, we can have it recycled like our oil and coolant.

Vehicle next to Emissions Inspection Station and Certified Emissions Repair Facility signs.We offer emissions inspections and repairs

Steve’s Auto Repair is an emissions inspection and repair facility.

When performing Vehicle Emissions Testing – which is managed by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) – inspectors ensure that a vehicle isn’t leaking oil or has any audible exhaust leaks. They also make sure it has a catalytic converter, which is responsible for reducing how much air pollution is produced.

Conducted every two years, an emission test is required on vehicles that are parked in certain localities. Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park are among them.

We can repair problems that would prevent a car from passing the emissions inspection. The numerous issues that would cause a vehicle to fail include engine malfunctions, catalytic converter problems, misfires, and the check engine light turning on.

Our business’ emissions inspection program was recognized earlier this year for following license requirements and completing inspections in a “dedicated and commendable” manner.

Other ways we try to be eco-friendly

To keep our car repair shop clean, our staff uses biodegradable cleaning products. They contain natural substances and aren’t harmful to the environment or animals. 

When the building isn’t in use, we avoid wasting electricity by turning off computers and almost all lights – our security lights are the exception.

Even though we are already taking environmentally friendly actions, our company is considering other options for the future. Installing a waste oil heater is one idea we are looking into.

We are also planning to upgrade our lights, as they burn out, to energy saver lights.

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.