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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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Changing the air conditioning condenser on Mazda

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Is your car still feeling warm, even though the A/C is running?

If so, there may be a problem with the air conditioning.

The system wasn’t working properly on a 1996 Mazda pickup truck. It ended up receiving a new air conditioning condenser.

The condenser, which is one component of a car’s air conditioning system, is responsible for turning refrigerant from a gas to a liquid.

They can leak or become clogged.

Condenser maintenance and other possible problems

Overtime, bugs, leaves and debris can collect in the condenser. So, it’s a good idea to clean it regularly.

You can do this by using a shop vacuum to get rid of debris and spraying it with air conditioning cleaner. Make sure to rinse off the cleaner afterward.

It’s important to be careful when cleaning this component. If it isn’t done correctly – or if there’s an impact – the fins can become bent, blocking the airflow. 

A constricted condenser is among the common air conditioning problems. The vehicle could also be low on refrigerant or experiencing Electronic Climate Control System issues. Other possible culprits include a bad expansion valve and user error – hey, we all make mistakes.

Why you should replace the air conditioning condenser

When changing the condenser on the Mazda pickup truck, the technician saw that refrigerant and oil had started leaking. If the leak becomes serious enough, a pool of oil can form underneath the vehicle.

Choosing not to replace a bad air conditioning condenser can cause the A/C system to stop working. This is because the correct amount of refrigerant isn’t reaching the compressor, which has a pressure sensor.

Other air conditioning services

Replacing the condenser is one type of air conditioning repair we offer. Our technicians can also look for air conditioning leaks and replace other components, including the drier and thermostat.

They perform basic EVAC and recharge, as well. This service is done on vehicles that have lost refrigerant. The process consists of removing refrigerant, applying a vacuum to the system, and adding dye and oil. To work, we need to recharge the system, which is serviced by the oil.

We are also able to change cabin air filters and spray BG Frigi Fresh, a disinfectant, into the vent system.

We are able to work on older and newer vehicles.

Last year, Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire invested in a new air conditioning machine for refrigerant 1234yf, which is being used in a lot of cars that are being manufactured.

During the hot months, having a malfunctioning air conditioning system can make long car rides almost unbearable. 

If you notice that it isn’t working the way it should, reach out to an automotive professional. That way, the problem can be addressed early on and you can stay cool this 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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BMW overheating: Possible causes and how to prevent it

In Cooling System, Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

BMW overheating problems aren’t uncommon occurrences.

We worked on a 2004 BMW that was brought in multiple times because it was overheating. 

When it first came to Steve’s Auto Repair, our technician noticed that it was low on coolant. He performed a pressure test on the cooling system and discovered the coolant reservoir was cracked.

Refrigerant cools a vehicle’s engine. It flows from the engine to the radiator, where some heat dissipates. The coolant then goes back to the engine.

Without coolant, the heat is confined to the engine.

Because the car couldn’t keep its coolant, we weren’t able to complete the diagnostic testing. 

The coolant reservoir was replaced, but the BMW was still overheating. 

Brian performed another pressure test to confirm there aren’t any other leaks. When he didn’t see any, he determined that the issue was with the thermostat or water pump.

Through further investigation, Brian noticed there was a difference in the temperature of the upper radiator hose and lower radiator hose, which usually indicates a bad thermostat.

The thermostat was sticking closed, preventing coolant from reaching the radiator and cooling the vehicle down.

Possible reasons behind a BMW overheating

Being low on coolant is the most common reason a BMW overheats. This is the result of a coolant leak. The technicians at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire are able to look for and address coolant leaks.

Overheating can also indicate a thermostat issue. If the thermostat doesn’t open, coolant isn’t able to flow to where it needs to go.

A car could also overheat due to an electrical component, such as the electric cooling fan and electric cooling fan controller. Even a module or computer may be experiencing an issue that prevents the cooling fan from turning on. 

We have worked on vehicles that had functioning cooling fans that weren’t spinning fast enough to pull air through.

How to prevent your car from overheating

Some overheating problems can’t be avoided. However, there are some maintenance options available.

Coolant fluid exchanges, for examples, can help prevent the engine from overheating. It also extends the life of the cooling system components and overall life of the engine.

You can read more about coolant fluid exchanges in this article we wrote recently.

We recommend this service every 30,000 miles. Depending on a manufacturer’s recommendations, a vehicle could require it more often.

You might want to also consider a coolant fluid exchange if work is being done on the thermostat or you’re getting a new radiator or water pump. 

Depending on how much and where you’re driving, debris – such as dirt, bugs and grass – can start to build up in front of the radiator.

Getting it cleaned out to make sure the air is flowing through to the radiator can keep a vehicle from overheating.

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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BG MOA protects engine, extends lifespan of oil

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Most drivers have become accustomed to oil changes and having them done regularly.

Performing this service is an important way you can take care of your engine.

By having this service performed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, you ensure that parts are staying lubricated and prevent damage.

For more information about when and why oil changes are needed, check out this article we wrote last year.

Nowadays, the time period between oil changes are becoming longer for certain vehicles. Due to this extended interval and the heat of engines, oil undergoes a lot of stress.

You can enhance the oil’s effectiveness with BG MOA.

BG MOA and why you should use it

BG MOA is added after the oil change is performed.

It can be used on all kinds of vehicles, including those that have stop-start engines and turbocharged engines. Contrary to what some people believe, BG MOA may be added to cars that use regular oil or synthetic oil.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire uses full synthetic oil. We also carry Mobil 1, which is needed by some vehicles, like BMW’s and Mercedes.

The oil additive offers several perks, such as protecting the engine and maintaining its performance. 

It also stops the oil from oxidizing and becoming thick and extends its lifespan. This is especially helpful if you get your oil changed past its due date. However, we still recommend having this service done at regular intervals to ensure that your engine is clean and help you avoid future expenses. 

In addition to boosting oil performance, BG MOA decreases wear on the engine and improves a vehicle’s fuel economy. 

It can help prevent too much oil from being consumed, as well.

The supplement reduces the amount of sludge that builds up on the engine, as well. This keeps various parts, such as variable valve timing and camshafts, functioning the way they should.

Engines put in a lot of work, especially when you’re dealing with traffic. BG MOA gives your vehicle and the oil it uses that extra protection.

Protection plan available for maintenance services

BG offers a Lifetime Protection Plan that can be used for different systems. 

Engine services, including the use of BG MOA, fall under the BG Lifetime Protection Plan.

Maintenance to brakes, power steering and transmissions are other services it covers.

This offering provides coverage if you have certain services performed on a regular basis. It sort of acts as a safety net and could save you money if you run into a problem in the future.

One of our customers experienced a transmission problem on their vehicles. BG helped them out, even it didn’t have to do with the fluid or the service they received.

To learn more about the BG Lifetime Protection Plan and whether your vehicle qualifies, talk to a service adviser.

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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Parts shortages and thieves stealing parts from cars

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The amount of time it takes to repair a vehicle can be impacted by certain requirements and how long it takes for a mechanic or auto repair shop to receive the parts needed.

We recently worked on a Toyota in the shop that had its seats stolen. But when the thieves took them, they actually ripped the wiring on the connectors that went to the seats for the side airbags.

On vehicles with side airbags, they are actually in the seat closest to the door so when they pop open they kind of shield you from the door or the glass. 

In this particular case, the thieves stole all of the seats – probably because they had a vehicle that was in an accident and couldn’t get parts but wanted their car back on the road. If the airbag light is on, you do not pass the state inspection.

Airbag wiring harness.

Airbag wiring harness

Replacing the wiring harness

In order to get the Toyota back on the road, our technicians needed to replace the whole airbag wiring harness that went from the dashboard and the modules all the way to the back of the vehicle, because you’re not allowed to repair wiring on airbag systems.

Removing the vehicle interior to replace airbag wiring harness.

Removing the vehicle interior to replace airbag wiring harness

This work included removing the vehicle interior.

If you do not use the correct gauge of wire – which is the thickness of the wire – or you use a connector and corrosion builds up, or there’s too much resistance, the airbag may not go off in the correct amount of time. It has to deploy in milliseconds.

Since you’re not allowed to repair wiring, according to the guidelines, we had to replace the whole wiring harness.

So, to the car part thieves out there: If you are going to steal parts like this out of the car, please disconnect the connector because this just turned into a huge job. This is basically 20 hours of work just to replace the wiring harness. Not only does that affect insurance rates, it also takes longer.

Airbag wiring connector.

Airbag wiring connector

Parts shortages

We know there’s a shortage of seats with the airbags because we were only able to get one seat to install in the vehicle, and we needed to wait for the others to come in.

There are parts shortages because manufacturing isn’t up to speed due to COVID-19. With all of the shipping, there are also a lot of delays at the ports. So, for parts that might have been a two-week delay the time frame is now extending to a month or a month and a half.

When having work done on your car’s airbag system, make sure that the person repairing it knows what they’re doing.

It is very important to not take the cheap way out because your life or someone else’s is at stake. You want to make sure that this system works exactly the way it’s supposed to.

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.