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Windshields, windows, mirrors: What won’t pass Virginia Safety Inspection

In Inspection, Windshield Wipers by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Vehicle safety inspectors check over many parts of a vehicle when conducting the Virginia Safety Inspection.

Overtime, problems can crop up and go unnoticed. During the state inspection, we keep an eye out for potential issues that could become bigger overtime and jeopardize the safety of those on the road.

A vehicle’s windshield, windows and mirrors aren’t exempt from this annual requirement. Below, we give more details about what exactly we’re looking at.

Virginia Safety Inspection: Windshields

Windshield wipers are one of the items automotive technicians check for while inspecting windshields. We make sure that they aren’t torn and that the defroster works the way it should.

To pass Virginia Safety Inspection, there shouldn’t be cracks that go from one part of the windshield to another. 

Star cracks, which resemble a spider web, can’t be larger than 1 and a half inches in diameter. 

Rocks and debris that fall off moving vehicles or come up from the road can cause star cracks.

Windshield repair.

Windshield repair

It’s a good idea to check with your insurance company and see if it offers windshield coverage. If you notice a star crack in your windshield, some companies will address the problem at little or no cost.

You need to be able to see out of both sides of the windshield in order to pass inspection. 

A windshield will fail state inspection if the tint is too hazy or if it falls below the AS-1 line. If a vehicle doesn’t have an AS-1 line, windshield tinting that features words, letters, numbers or pictures can’t go more than 3 inches below the top of a windshield, unless it’s approved by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

Checking the windows

In addition to the windshield, our state inspectors check the windows. 

Like the windshield, they make sure windows aren’t cracked, scratched or broken. Cloudiness, distortion and anything else that obstructs your vision are other problems we look for.

The window on the driver’s side must roll down. That way, if your turn signal is malfunctioning you are able to provide hand gestures out the window when changing lanes.

Mirror problems we look for

The side view mirrors are looked over during state inspection, as well. 

Mirrors can’t be cracked or broken and must show one solid view. Additionally, the 200 feet behind you needs to be clearly visible. Truck mirrors are required to extend beyond the body’s edge at least halfway.

If there’s tinting on the back windshield and it’s bubbling it – making it difficult for you to see – that can cause you to fail the Virginia safety inspection.

The mirrors need to be firmly mounted, as well. We recently worked on a vehicle that had a loose side view mirror on the passenger side. We were able to move it up and down very easily. This car would have failed state inspection for that reason.

Windshield, windows and mirrors are just some of the areas that state inspectors check. They also take a look at the tires, brakes, exhaust system, steering and suspension, headlights and other lights, and under the hood.

On top of Virginia state inspections, Steve’s Auto Repair performs Emissions Tests, which are required on vehicles that are parked in certain cities and counties, like Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

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 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.

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Need a New Year’s resolution? Take care of your vehicle

In Maintenance, Safety, Windshield Wipers by Stephanie Tipple

Every year, many of us make a commitment to do better than the year that has passed, making a New Year’s resolution that speak to our larger goals – whether that’s getting more sleep, exercising more, or taking care of something we’d like to achieve during the year.

Windshield wiper.

Windshield wiper

While these are all great resolutions, have you thought about making a commitment to taking better care of your vehicle this year?

It’s simpler than it sounds. By committing to invest in some basic maintenance, and getting repair and maintenance work done on a regular basis, you’re not only saving money from a long-term perspective, but you’re also extending out the life of your vehicle as well.

Here are just a few items that will help you make that resolution a reality.

Replace your windshield wipers.

If you’re noticing streaks when you use your windshield wipers, or they’re not effective at clearing things from your windshield, then it’s likely time to replace them.

keep your windshield clear.

Windshield wipers keep your windshield clear safety inspection

“There are cheap windshield wipers, and there are expensive windshield wipers. You can get expensive windshield wiper blades, but you should still expect to replace them once a year. You can get cheaper wiper blades, but expect to replace them twice a year,” said Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire own ST Billingsley.

According to Billingsley, your decision on the price point to choose for wiper blades determine on the conditions you’re driving in, and how often you’re driving in your vehicle.

Get your oil changed on a consistent basis.

Everyone knows how important it is to get the oil in your car changed, but it can be a struggle for some to get the oil changed on a regular interval.

Billingsley says that many manufacturers are recommending 7,500 to 10,000 miles between oil changes, depending on the vehicle, but that may not be suitable for cars driving around in Northern Virginia.

“Depending on what kind of oil you use, whether you’re changing the oil filters in between oil changes, and there are many other factors that come into play with these oil change intervals,” said Billingsley.


Headlights Woodbridge Virginia

Even if your car takes synthetic oil, if you’re driving around in Northern Virginia traffic, Billingsley says it’s ideal to do an oil change every 5,000 miles.

“If you’re out in the Midwest and you’re driving mostly on the highway on your way to work, well I could see 7,500 miles being an okay interval, but around here, that’s just a little too far,” said Billingsley.

It’s also a good time to rotate your tires, if you’re getting an oil change at 5,000 mile intervals.

Replace or recondition your headlights.

Over time, the clear coating on your headlights will start to get worn down, and you may notice that the lights look foggy.

“With all of the road salt, dirt, and highway driving, and everything that goes on around here, the plastic headlights lens covers – the clear part – is essentially getting sandblasted all of the time,” said Billingsley.

In some cases you can restore the headlight covers, and there are different levels of restoration.

“Sometimes you get so many micro-cracks in them, you can try to clean them up, but it just doesn’t work that well and you end up needing to replace them,” said Billingsley.

In addition to taking care of the covers, replacing the bulbs after an extended period can make your headlights brighter, adding visibility during night driving or inclement weather.

Commit to taking better care of your car this year, and not only will you save money in the long run, but you’ll also feel better knowing you’re adding reliability to your drive, and extending the life of your vehicle.

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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.