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Replacing battery pack cooling fan on Toyota Prius

In Battery by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

We’re seeing more hybrid vehicles on the road today.

Like other cars, they come with their own benefits and drawbacks.

One common problem lies with the cooling fan for the battery pack, which can wear out.

This component does have vent tubes coming in and out to help direct the air around the battery pack and outside the vehicle. 

Cooling fan problems

Cooling fan.Generally, when there’s a problem with the cooling fan, the check engine light will turn on and there will be a code for the hybrid battery pack cooling system. The lifespan varies, with some beginning to go bad as soon as three years. Typically, they last between five and eight years.

The cooling fan going bad isn’t a big issue. It’s not overly expensive to fix, but you do want to use high quality parts. This is not a time where you should use aftermarket parts. It needs to be functioning correctly so everything is working with the computer.

One of the things to watch out for is people carrying stuff in their vehicle, whether they’re going to Lowe’s and mulch gets spilled there, or lots of papers and clothes pile up. Depending on where it is and how packed it gets, the clutter can block some vents and impact the vehicle’s ability to cool the battery pack.

On the back of the Toyota Prius, you can see both batteries. You have the 12 volt battery that will run your lights and wiper blades. Meanwhile, the hybrid battery pack is located behind the rear seat. The orange tab is the battery disconnect, in case you need to do any work.

When working on these cooling fans, you will want to make sure that the air ducts are in good working order, and aren’t broken, blocked, or venting back inside the car. It’s important that they are repaired correctly. 

Battery packs: When to replace them

battery pack and cooling fan.The battery packs tend to go bad every eight to 10 years. It’s always good to go with the factory module. I would be wary of aftermarket ones, but we have put a couple in from different manufacturers and we’re still testing them out to see how they do in the long run. So far, so good.

As you start to see the mileage decrease over a period of time, it could have to do with the cells in the battery pack. They’re just like any other battery. Eventually, they will wear out or certain cells will have a problem. 

Once you hit around the eight year mark, it’s probably a good idea to replace the entire pack over changing out the individual cells. 

An extra tip for hybrid vehicles: With hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, make sure to use tires like the Goodyear Assurance CS Fuel Max. Some of these tires feature low rolling resistance to help give you better fuel efficiency.

These are just some things that owners of hybrid vehicles should keep in mind.

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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Using walnut blasting treatment to address carbon buildup

In Fuel System by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Walnuts are a snack that many people enjoy. But did you know that they can also be used to clean the intake manifold of a vehicle?

This service, called walnut blasting, is one of the services offered at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire.

It addresses carbon buildup, which is a common problem among BMWs and mini coopers.

We use walnut blasting to help clean the intake, intake valves and cylinder head. 

One of our technicians performed it on a mini cooper, which was running rough.

How we perform walnut blasting

During walnut blasting, the intake manifold is removed. Then, we are able to spray directly into the cylinder head and the intake valves. 

The shells are ground to a powder and that will help break up the carbon deposits, which is usually unburnt fuel and oil that has leaked out and hardened on the valve surfaces, valve stems and the cylinder head. 

It almost acts like a jet of sandpaper that’s knocking the carbon off the valves.

Any remaining walnut shell residue can be broken or burned up by the engine.

Once the carbon deposits are cleared away, drivers may notice an increase in power and, most importantly, the fuel economy. This service will also help the engine breathe better and lower the vehicle’s emissions.

Another benefit of walnut blasting is that it won’t hurt anything, like the pistons or seals. It’s also environmentally safe.

Indicators that you need this service

So, how do you know that carbon is building up in the intake?

Poor fuel economy and running rough are the two of the most common signs.

You might also notice that your vehicle seems sluggish.

For example, drivers who bought their car at 5,000 miles and are now at 60,000 miles may feel that it isn’t running the way it used to. A walnut blasting could help with that.

Preventing and address carbon buildup

Performing regular oil changes, which we recommend every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, can help prevent carbon buildup.

Cleaning may also be a needed maintenance option, depending on the type of vehicle you have.

Part of the problem with the buildup is oil seeping by the valve stems or valve guides. There’s no way to fix it without taking the cylinder head off and taking the valves apart.

Some of these European cars, especially BMWs, tend to burn oil. So, if they’re leaking oil, cleaning the intake will be a common practice. This can be done with walnut blasting or a chemical cleaning, like the BG Fuel Induction Service.

The Fuel Induction Service helps clean out the fuel system. We suggest this service every 30,000 miles, but some manufacturers recommend it more frequently. To learn more about this maintenance option and why you should get it, check out this article we wrote.

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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Audi brakes: Common problems and possible causes

In Brakes by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

When it comes time to replace the brakes on your Audi, it’s important to make sure you’re using good quality parts. 

Audis are kind of known for being performance vehicles, and some Audis have a higher performance than others. So, the types of brakes you should use can even differ between models. 

For an Audi A4, you’ll want to use brake pads, rotors and calipers, if those are the parts that need to be replaced. Other performance vehicles may require cross drills and slotted rotors to help dissipate the heat.

While changing the pads, we use pads with sensors built into them. They should be high quality, because the way the electronics work in setting off the lights, saying whether the pads are good or getting worn, you don’t want to have too high resistance or something throwing the computer off. So, you really don’t want to use the cheap pads.

Noises from Audi brakes

Noise is a common issue with Audi brakes, and it can be the result of various culprits. 

Rotors can begin to rust up on vehicles that have been sitting for a while, especially when it’s been raining a lot or snowing during the winter. When you first hit the brakes, they may sound as though they’re grinding. It’s really surface rust. Sand and rocks can get caught up in the pads and rotors, causing grooves to form. So, the grinding noise could actually be from the grooves.

Brake noise can even be caused by cleaning your Audi.

The chemicals sprayed on the vehicle and the wheels to remove the brake dust can get onto the brake pads and rotors. There may not be anything wrong with these parts, but the pads pressing on the rotors may lead to a squeaking or squealing sound.

After washing your vehicle, we recommend taking it on a test drive to help get rid of the chemicals. During the test drive, go to a safe area and perform five panic stops where the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) is engaged. Then, take it back, let it sit, and take it for another test drive after it cools down to see if the noise disappears.

Calipers and brake hoses

The calipers, especially the caliper slides, can also be an issue. Depending on the amount of salt on the road or where the vehicle comes from, the caliper may not release correctly after you step on the brakes. If it’s holding – even if you don’t feel it as you’re driving – it’s pressing the brake pad against the rotor. This means it will wear down faster. 

Brake hoses going bad is another problem we’re seeing. Vehicles are coming in after having a brake job or the calipers replaced and one of the corners is seizing up. The brake hoses are acting as a check valve and maintaining the pressure. So, we strongly recommend changing the brake hoses and the calipers at the same time. 

Whether or not we’re just replacing the pads and rotors or the calipers, it’s a good idea to have a brake fluid exchange conducted. This service should be done at least every 50,000 miles. Based on the type of vehicle and what the manufacturer recommends, we’re seeing brake fluid recommendations come down as soon as 15,000 or 30,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual to see what the interval for your particular car should be.

Depending on the kind of Audi you own and Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) it has – ABS, traction control, accident avoidance, automatic driver assist – make sure the ADAS is recalibrated. To do an alignment or certain service work, such as replacing the timing belt, the front grill of the vehicle needs to be removed. Not resetting the ADAS system can cause other driving issues and may feel like a brake problem. If your vehicle has been in a body shop, verify that it has been recalibrated so it doesn’t feel like a different problem.

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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Fuel system problems and maintenance

In Fuel System by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The fuel system on a vehicle is responsible for getting fuel to the engine, enabling the car to move. 

Because of this critical role, taking care of the system is a necessary part of car maintenance.

Fuel doesn’t automatically make it to the engine as you’re filling up at the gas station.

There are several components that work together to ensure that it gets there.

How the fuel system works

When you get gas, the fuel enters the fuel tank. From there, it’s brought out by the fuel pump and transported along fuel lines to the filter and injectors. 

The fuel filter keeps contaminants out of the fuel and fuel injectors feed it to the engine cylinders.

Common problems

Overtime, the fuel system can experience various problems. Here are some common ones:

Fuel filter is blocked: The fuel filter becoming blocked is one fuel system problem. It may simply need to be changed.

Fuel injectors aren’t working correctly: One or multiple fuel injectors may need to be cleaned or replaced. Some indicators include rough idle, difficulty starting the vehicle, and an increase in the amount of fuel being used.

Fuel pump is going bad: If the fuel pump is failing, the fuel is unable to move from the tank. Misfires, loss in power, and clicking or whining sounds when idle are symptoms you may notice when the fuel pump is going bad.

A variety of other fuel system issues can arise. 

Some vehicles have transfer pumps, which can go bad and aren’t able to transfer to the main tank. 

High pressure fuel pumps, which are found under the hood of certain vehicles, may also fail.

Signs of fuel system problems

A few symptoms can pop up when there’s a fuel system problem.

If you smell fuel, you could have a leak. But when it comes to smelling the fuel, sometimes you only smell it when you first start the car or turn the heat or air conditioning on. 

Sometimes, it may not be a big leak – like a fuel line – but the injectors could be seeping or a seal might be going bad, causing a little bit of fuel to leak. Trying to find those can be tricky and may mean that the vehicle needs to stay at a repair shop overnight.  

Other symptoms of fuel system problems include rough running issues. If the fuel pump or fuel pressure regulator is failing, the fuel pressure may be too high. Generally, the pressure is too low if you have a bad fuel pump, and it will feel like the vehicle doesn’t have enough power. Computer controlled cars lack a fuel volume and pressure as drivers travel uphill, making it seem like the transmission is bad.  

Bad fuel or gas that contains water can create some weird misfires. The water will collect in the tank, so when you turn a corner water may be sucked up and result in the engine running rough.

Fuel injectors not working correctly is another potential problem. They can become clogged or not be able to distribute the fuel right, leading to misfires and running issues. 

Ways to maintain the fuel system

Upkeep on your vehicle can help you save money and avoid breaking down on the side of the road.

We recommend having a fuel induction service performed every 30,000 miles. Some manufacturers suggest it more often.

This service cleans out the fuel system and improves fuel economy. Other benefits include decreasing emissions and restoring lost power.   

Depending on the type of vehicle you have, the fuel filter may need to be replaced on a regular basis. The ones that are serviceable are generally recommended to be changed every 30,000 miles.

Most filters nowadays are built into the fuel pump. Diesel vehicles typically need a new one every other oil change, depending on the diesel vehicle.

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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Avoid breaking down on your next road trip

In Battery, Brakes, Fluids, Headlamps, Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Summer is here, which means that many are taking at least one road trip.

While you and your family or friends are having fun, you want to avoid any hang ups. That includes breaking down on the side of the road.

In the days and weeks prior to your next adventure, you should make sure the vehicle you’re taking is ready for the journey. You can’t plan for everything, but there are some things you can do to avoid a problem.

Below is a checklist of items we recommend.

How to prepare for a road trip

  • Battery test: Weak car batteries can fail when it’s extremely hot outside. We have a battery tester that lets us know if it needs to be replaced. Checking the battery beforehand can save you from tracking someone down to jump your vehicle and a trip to the store.
  • Oil change: Having your oil changed regularly – every 3,000 to 5,000 miles – helps prevent engine damage. If you’re going to be due for this service soon, it’s a good idea to have it done before your road trip. That way, you know that it’s up to date. The technicians performing the oil change may also notice safety concerns that need to be addressed. 
  • Check tires: You want your tires to be at an optimum level. So, make sure they are at a good tire pressure and they have thick tread depth. The tire tread should be at least 2/32 of an inch, but we suggest replacing the tires when they reach 3/32 or 4/32 of an inch, depending on the vehicle. The tire pressure must also be at the recommended level, otherwise tire damage can occur. Also, make sure that none of your tires have collected any nails, and that your spare tire is in good shape.
  • Make sure the brakes are working: You never know when the person driving in front of you will stop suddenly or a deer will run out in front of your car. In those situations, it’s important to know that your brakes can be trusted. To pass Virginia state inspection, brakes must be at 2/32 of an inch or more. We recommend them when they get down to 3/32 or 4/32 of an inch. That also depends on the car and manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Replace windshield wipers: Depending on your destination, you may hit some rain along the way. Having the windshield wipers replaced can prevent streaks and scratches. If you have torn windshield wipers, it’s time for some new ones.
  • Inspect the lights: Your car features an assortment of lights, including brake lights, headlights and tag lights. It’s a good idea to make sure that none of them are out, especially if you’re planning to travel at night or in areas that experience heavy amounts of traffic.
  • Look at fluid levels: Having someone check the fluid levels – including the oil, coolant, antifreeze, and windshield washer fluid – is another recommendation. This is a great way you can confirm there aren’t problems or spot any issues early on. For example, being low on coolant – especially if it’s a constant issue – can indicate a leak.

Our technicians look over all of the items mentioned above during our courtesy inspections. If you’re planning to go on a road trip soon, feel free to give us a call to schedule an appointment.

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.