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Signs that your vehicle needs a new turbocharger

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

A lot of newer vehicles today are coming with smaller engines.

To run the air conditioning, computers, and electronics, extra power is needed.

Turbochargers provide that support.

This component takes pressure from the exhaust that spools up and forces air into the intake. That adds power. Then, the car adds more fuel, resulting in more boost.

Sometimes, turbochargers need to be replaced.

We recently installed a new one on a BMW that had its check engine light turn on.

While working on the vehicle, the technician realized that the wastegate had gone bad. As you’re driving down the road, the turbo puts pressure into the engine through the intake. When you let off the gas and are decelerating, that pressure has to go somewhere. The wastegate operates as a pressure relief valve, allowing the pressure from the turbo to go off without damaging the engine.

He determined this was the problem because the turbocharger going bad is a common issue with BMWs. Work had also been done on this vehicle previously.

A couple of years ago, we replaced the wastegate solenoid.

At the time, we thought the turbocharger may need to be replaced at some point. Installing a new solenoid was a cheaper option that we hoped would address the issue.

How to tell if you need a new turbocharger

The check engine light turning on is one symptom that a new turbocharger is needed. This light can be triggered if your turbo doesn’t hit the pressure it’s supposed to.

Keep in mind that a check engine light can come on for many reasons. It doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem with the turbocharger. 

You may also notice the engine making a whining noise and loss of power.

Blue or gray exhaust smoke is another indicator.

What causes it to go bad?

There are various reasons why turbochargers stop working. 

Not having enough oil and using dirty oil or the wrong type are the most common causes.

These newer cars are very oil specific, because the turbo continues to run after the engine is off and it needs to be lubricated.

The turbocharger can also go bad simply from everyday use and if dirt, rocks and other debris enter it.

A “turbo underboost” code could indicate that the turbo is going bad. However, that isn’t always the case.

When we get this code, our technicians determine the location of the boost leak by performing a smoke test on the turbo and intercooler.

Sometimes, the turbo is bad. However, we need to check that, because there may be a leak between the turbo and boost sensor.

Ways to maintain your vehicle’s turbocharger

Turbochargers are expensive. So, it’s important to make sure they’re maintained.

Regular oil changes are one way to take care of turbocharged engines. We recommend this service every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

It’s also a good idea to give your engine time to warm up before heading to your next destination and allowing it to cool down afterward.

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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My car won’t come out of park

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Getting stranded when you have places to be is no picnic, especially when you don’t know what’s wrong or can’t fix it yourself. 

Sometimes, a vehicle’s gear shifter will get stuck and won’t come out of park.

This situation intermittently occurred with a 2013 Nissan Altima, which was brought in to Steve’s Auto Repair recently.

As he worked on the vehicle, Brian found that the shift interlock solenoid would sometimes stick, preventing the vehicle from shifting into another gear. 

We couldn’t just replace the solenoid for this model, so a new gear shift assembly was needed. Replacing the component enabled the solenoid to retract in and the gear shifter to go from park to drive, neutral or reverse.

To replace the assembly, Brian removed the center console and put it back together with some trim. 

Other possible reasons a car won’t come out of park

The shift interlock solenoid sticking is only one reason why a car won’t come out of park. There are other possible causes behind this issue.

Problems with the brake light switch is another one. If the car doesn’t recognize that you’re hitting the brake, it won’t allow you to shift into another gear.

Your vehicle’s gear shifter may also refuse to go out of park if there’s an open circuit on the interlock solenoid.

Other reasons include a bad ignition switch and the parking pawl.

What you can do to prevent this problem

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done to prevent a gear shifter from getting stuck in park.

You should be careful not to spill anything in the center console.

Coffee and other beverages could get down into the gear shift, causing it to gunk up. Soda can especially be a troublemaker, because it’s sticky. 

Spilling beverages is one of the main reasons you have problems with that component.

What you can do if this happens

If you find yourself in a situation where the gear shifter is stuck, there is something you can do.

Most cars generally have some way to bypass the interlock solenoid.

On some vehicles – especially those with a gear shifter on the center console – there’s a plastic tab you can press the key down into. This will release the interlock solenoid, allowing you to put the vehicle in neutral. 

If a car won’t start or isn’t operating the way it should, you probably need to call a tow truck. A vehicle needs to be in neutral in order to be moved onto it.

Not all car problems can be prevented. Sometimes, parts go bad unexpectedly. However, it is important to have an auto repair shop you trust and can go to.

That way, if you have an issue or question, they will be able to provide you with recommendations and the information you need.

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 preparation tips from Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Winter will be arriving later this month.

There are a few ways drivers can get ready for it.

When I first get in my car on a chilly day, my first thought is to turn on the heat. But a lot of us don’t actually think about whether the heat controls and defroster are actually working. 

Now is a good time to check them. The last thing you want is to find out something is wrong when it’s freezing outside.

Windshield washer fluid is mainly used in the summer, but it’s also needed to get frost off your windshield in the winter. 

Some people pre-dilute their windshield washer fluid when it’s warmer and don’t give it another thought. When the temperature drops, the tank can freeze and crack, causing the windshield washer fluid to leak out. 

You should also make sure your belts and battery are in good working order. Drastic changes in temperatures – both in the winter and summer – can kill a weak car battery.

Taking a look at your basic fluid levels, such as coolant, is another way you can get ready for winter. 

Since we’re not using the heat during the rest of the year, we don’t really consider if the coolant is low. Coolant plays an important role in temperature control, so it’s a good idea to have someone check it out.

During this time of year, it’s also important to watch the tire pressure. When the temperature in the tire decreases, so does the PSI. 

Many will notice that their tires are lower and automatically think that all of them are flat. If all tires look low, it’s probably because of the temperature. 

If one tire is lower than the others, you may want to have it checked, because it could mean there’s a leak.

If you have any questions about winter preparation, give us a call at (703) 670-8005 or visit us at 2603 Hanco Center Drive in Woodbridge.

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 is my car vibrating when idle?

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Slower performance and rough idling can be signs that there’s a problem with a car.

A Nissan came in due to sluggish performance. 

One of our service writers noticed that it was vibrating when idle and heard a “glug glug glug” sound. When he pressed the accelerator, the noise transitioned into a “putt putt putt”.

While working on the vehicle, the technician realized that one of the camshaft adjuster solenoids was open.

Like fuel injectors, camshaft solenoids open and close. This enables the correct amount of oil to enter the variable valve timing system, which includes the timing chains and sprockets.

Oil was also leaking through the spark plug tube seals and backing up in some of the spark plug tubes.

Nissan
Oil in a spark plug tube

Too much oil in the spark plug tube can cause a misfire.

Because Nissan builds spark plug tube seals into the valve cover, we also needed to replace the valve cover.

Nissan
New and old valve cover

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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Signs that mice are living in your car

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Chilly months are ahead, which increases the likelihood of mice making your car their new home.

To mice and other animals, including squirrels and frogs, vehicles are warm and offer protection.

It only takes one cold night to draw them in.

Certain smells attract them, as well.

Some parts – like fuel lines – that are produced with a soy-based substance can draw rodents in.

Normally, mice keep themselves hidden by burrowing deep in the engine. They build nests and will chew wires and insulation. 

Usually, drivers won’t find out that a mouse has been living in their car until something stops working and a mechanic or auto repair shop that’s working on it sees broken wires.

You may also notice insulation or what appears to be ground up newspaper around your vehicle, which indicates that they are moving it from another place.

Mouse droppings and damage to upholstery – which can be used to make nests – are other symptoms.

If you turn on the blower motor and it sounds unbalanced or loud – like something is flopping around – it’s a good sign that there’s a mouse nest.

Mice love to build nests in the air box. That’s a common area we see them when we’re performing oil changes or checking the cabin air filter.

You can deter mice by cleaning your car regularly and using mouse traps in your garage.

If you are having a big problem with mice living in your car, try putting dryer sheets in the engine compartment – mice hate the smell. But make sure to tuck the dryer sheets away so they don’t catch on fire.

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.