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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.

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Why we perform a courtesy inspection while working on your vehicle

In Cabin Air Filter, Inspection by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

When you bring your car to our shop, we try to do a very thorough visual inspection, even if it’s just for an oil change.

Just from driving on the road and as vehicle’s age, things can start to break and cause other problems you may not notice, because you’re driving it every day. 

As we’re looking at your vehicle, we want to pick up on problems that could lead to a much larger expense down the road.

Honda Accord.

Honda Accord

Recently, our technicians worked on a Honda Accord that came in for an oil change. The customer didn’t mention any problems. During our normal courtesy inspection of the air filter, we discovered that the intake boot coming from the mass airflow meter to the engine was cracked. 

When that happens, air is not being metered and the computer can’t see how much air is getting sucked into the engine. That can cause problems with the car running too rich or lean, depending on the programming and the driving conditions. Generally, it would show that it has more air coming in than it is and you will burn more fuel. The driver might or might not notice they have more fuel consumption, based on how they drive.

Dirt entering the engine is another problem the crack can cause, because it isn’t going through the air filter. Over a period of time, this may reduce the engine’s lifespan.

If it’s raining and the vehicle went through a deep puddle, water could splash up and get sucked into the engine, which could break it.

You may notice this sort of problem when you give it some gas as you’re going on the highway or an onramp, and that can be a dangerous situation. 

Dirty cabin air filter.

Dirty cabin air filter

The air filter on this vehicle was also very, very dirty, which would also restrict the airflow. This can impact the fuel economy. So, you have many things going against this car that are very simple, but unless you’re looking at it on a consistent basis you’re just not going to know.

Our courtesy inspection

Watching for simple things, like an air intake boot, and fixing it is just part of our oil change process and is a very important thing to repair.

In addition to changing the oil and oil filter, we rotate the tires if applicable and take a look at the components. It’s sort of like a mini safety inspection without scraping the sticker. We really are trying to keep you safe on the road and help your car last as long as it can.

When we have the hood open, we’re checking for visible engine coolant leaks. Our technicians also examine the serpentine belt to make sure it doesn’t have cracks and isn’t getting glazed on the back.

Accessible fluids are also looked at. For example, before changing the oil we make sure the oil level isn’t too low. If you come in and it’s much lower than normal, we may be able to pick up an oil consumption problem.

Windshield washer fluid and brake fluid are also inspected. Some of the newer vehicles – as parts become more electronic – may not have these fluids, but you would be surprised. Even with brakes being electronically controlled, there’s still brake fluid going to the calipers. 

Lights, wiper blades, tire tread depth and tire pressure are other items checked out during the courtesy inspection.

We also test the car battery, and make sure the connections aren’t loose or that corrosion isn’t building up on them. You’d be surprised by the number of cars that come in with weird problems or intermittent starting problems, and it’s just a loose battery cable or corrosion. Cleaning that up and putting battery terminal BG pads, which help prevent acid from coming up to the terminal and corroding the metal, are some things we can do during an oil change to stop simple, weird electrical problems. 

Resetting the maintenance indicators takes a little more time now. There are indicators for the tire pressure, the oil life, for certain maintenance the manufacturers recommend. Not only is it changing that oil change sticker up in the window, it’s also resetting the electronic reminders in the car.

To read more about what we do during an oil change, check out this recent article we wrote.

Courtesy inspections come at no additional cost. 

Taking these extra steps can prevent problems and a lot of frustration.

By performing this work, we hope to help keep you and your family 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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How Steve’s Auto Repair performs oil changes

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

Oil changes are typically offered at most places that perform automotive services or repair. 

A lot of them will do the required work – change the filter and replace the oil – and leave it at that.

At Steve’s Auto Repair, we care about you and your vehicle, and want to make sure that your car is running safely when it leaves our shop. 

During an oil change, we perform a visual digital inspection, checking many points on the car or truck. This includes a range of items that tend to be overlooked.

Parts checked during oil changes

So, what does this mini inspection look like? 

The battery is one of the many parts we check. Car batteries weaken overtime, and extremely hot or cold temperatures can cause them to die. Testing a car battery may prevent you from getting stranded.

Looking over the belts and hoses, as well as the steering and suspension are also on our checklist. Hoses can become loose, and everyday use could result in components cracking or going bad. You can save yourself a trip to an auto repair shop – and possibly some money – if we address the problem early on.

Brake pads and tires get inspected too. Brakes should measure at 2/32 of an inch to pass the state inspection in Virginia. Steve’s Auto Repair recommends having them changed at 3/32 or 4/32 of an inch, depending on the make, model and manufacturer’s recommendations.

Accessible fluids, such as the coolant and windshield washer fluid, are looked over and topped off. Some can become low without you knowing it and could lead to future problems if they are ignored.

If applicable, a tire rotation is included as part of our oil change. This service can prolong the life of tires.

This work comes at no additional cost.

Other ways we take care of your vehicle

While servicing your vehicle, we use floor mats, seats and steering wheel covers to protect the interior.

Do you want to stay up to date on what’s going on with your car? We complete digital inspections, which provide you with photos, videos and notes on the vehicle’s health. These updates will share which components are good, any safety concerns, or maintenance suggestions we have. They are sent via email and text. Therefore, the customer can see what we see.

To schedule your next oil change at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire, please call (703) 670-8005.

You can drop off your vehicle while we’re open – between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you do not want to come into the building, staff members are available to meet you outside.

We also have a night owl night service and a free shuttle service.

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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Steve’s Auto Repair upgrades ADAS calibration system

In Alignment by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire in Woodbridge, Virginia just upgraded their Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) recalibration alignment system. 

This is used to align camera systems, lane assist, park assist, collision avoidance, emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. 

Many vehicles use ADAS today and resets are sometimes needed while services are being performed. We invested in the complete ADAS system last year.

ADAS calibration

In our recent upgrade, we received a CCD camera system for aligning the calibration machine to the car. 

If you’re getting an ADAS calibration, it’s important to check the alignment to make sure it’s within specifications, allowing the sensors and radars to work correctly. 

ADAS calibration process

The upgrade enables our technicians to check the alignment right there with the ADAS system, rather than moving to a separate bay and having the alignment checked. If everything is within specifications, we can move forward with the ADAS calibration, which saves us a lot of time.

Setting up these ADAS calibration machines can be quite difficult and time consuming. Through the upgrade, we are able to put targets on the wheels of the vehicle and find the center line more quickly than before. It’s reducing our time from 15 to 25 minutes a set up to 2 minutes. In addition to saving time, it’s also more accurate. 

When having windshields replaced, body panels replaced, the bumper removed for maintenance work – which is required for a lot of vehicles – or electrical components changed, it’s important to make sure the ADAS system has been recalibrated so that the vehicle will be able to operate in a safe manner. 

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.