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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.

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Signs that your vehicle needs a new turbocharger

In Diagnostics 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 Diagnostics 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.