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Common car air conditioning problems

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The hot days of summer are about to roll in.

With them will come 90 degree and 100 degree weather – you know, when there’s 100 percent humidity and anything cold becomes warm within minutes.

During the extreme summer heat, many of us look forward to the cool temperatures our car air conditioning provides.

Sometimes, the A/C may stop working. (By the way, you may want to confirm that it is working before summer really kicks in.)

These are the most common reasons:

  • It’s low on freon
  • The air conditioning condenser is constricted
  • Problems with the Electronic Climate Control System
  • Expansion valve isn’t working
  • User error

You can read more information about each problem below.

You car air conditioning low on refrigerant

The air conditioning system requires freon to function properly. Refrigerant goes from the compressor to the condenser, then on to the drier and evaporator.

Being low on freon is one reason car air conditioning may not be working. This can is typically the result of a leak. Air conditioning leaks can occur in various spots, such as fittings.

The air conditioning condenser is constricted

The fins on an air conditioning condenser can be bent if there is an impact or the condenser isn’t cleaned correctly. This can restrict the amount of air that flows through.

If the condenser is damaged, it probably needs to be replaced. 

Problems with the Electronic Climate Control System

Newer vehicles are coming with different types of controls and systems. One of them is the Electronic Control System, which regulates the temperature for the front seats. 

If your A/C isn’t working, it may be a problem with the Electronic Control System.

Expansion valve isn’t working

The expansion valve is responsible for controlling how much refrigerant is in the air conditioning system. Overtime, this component can go bad.

User error

Let’s be honest, we can become so distracted by our day-to-day activities that sometimes we aren’t paying attention to what we’re doing.

For example, one day I turned on the A/C and it was blowing warm air – a problem that continued after my car had a chance to run for a while. When I looked down, I realized that I had turned the knob to heat.

Before running to the repair shop, make sure that you didn’t forget to flip a switch or push a button. Also, look through your owner’s manual to see if it offers an explanation or suggestion.

Summer is just weeks away. As you start planning vacations and other adventures, it’s a good time to confirm that your car air conditioning is working just right. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a professional look over your vehicle and make sure there aren’t any other problems.

Our technicians are able to work on vehicles that use R-134 and R-1234yf. We invested in a new air conditioning machine for R-1234yf last year.

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 you shouldn’t store napkins in your car’s glove box

In Cabin Air Filter, Cooling System by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

It’s time to turn on the air conditioning.

But when one of our customers did, they heard a noise. This led them to bring their Town & Country to Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire. We found a few problems during our investigation.

First of all, a shop that had previously worked on the vehicle hadn’t properly installed the door for the cabin air filter.

The second issue was that napkins and some peanuts that were in the glove box had gotten sucked into the blower motor. 

Our employees also found a very dirty cabin air filter that appeared to have been chewed on by a squirrel or mouse.

The problems were addressed and the driver is back on the road. However, based on this situation, there are a few recommendations we would like to pass on.

Take your car to a mechanic or repair shop you can trust

Overtime, you invest a fair amount of money in your vehicle – through oil changes, inspections, mileage-based services, new parts that go bad through daily use … You get the point.

You also most likely drive it each week (if not daily), and don’t want to end up stranded on the side of the road or in an unsafe situation. 

With that in mind, it’s important to make sure you’re taking it to a professional who knows what they’re doing. 

Yes, this may mean spending more money on a service that you could try to figure out on your own. However, going to a reliable mechanic or auto repair shop can not only give you ease of mind, it also saves you time and can help prevent expensive repairs in the future.

Don’t keep lightweight paper in the glove box

It’s OK to store items, like an owner’s manual, in the glove box. However, we suggest that you avoid keeping napkins and lightweight paper in it.

The blower motor is drawing in air and sometimes if it’s not sealed quite right it will suck up those items.

We recommend that you store them in the center console, where there isn’t a vacuum or fan that’s bringing in air that will circulate throughout the vehicle.Dirty cabin air filter.

Change out your cabin air filter regularly

Cabin air filters, which purify the air that enters a vehicle, become dirty and need to be changed on a regular basis. This interval depends on a few factors, including the make and model of a car as well as driving conditions.

Drivers who live on a dirt road will probably need to replace it more often than those who mainly use major roads and the highway.

Keeping bacteria, dirt, dust and pollen out of your vehicle is one perk of changing out the cabin air filter. It can also prevent the heating core and evaporator from becoming clogged.

When performing this service, our technicians can also spray BG Frigi Fresh into the vent system. You can read more about the disinfectant and replacing the cabin air filter in 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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Brake fluid exchanges maintain brake system, components

In Brake Fluid Flush, Brakes by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The brake fluid in today’s cars, trucks and SUVs are under greater pressure and heat than ever before. This is simply from normal wear and tear.

In order for a vehicle to stop, the brake pads clamp against the brake rotors, which are connected to the wheels. The calipers hold the pads.

As you brake – which is often if you live or travel through Northern Virginia – a lot of moisture and heat is generated.

Regular brake fluid exchanges help maintain this system and its components.

Benefits of a brake fluid exchange

Moisture in the brake system can lead to corrosion. Flushing the brake fluid removes moisture and prevents corrosion from forming on components, including the calipers.

This service also helps your anti-lock braking system (ABS) last longer and restores the brake pedal so it feels firm.

If you put off a brake fluid exchange, the internal seals can wear out prematurely. The inside of soft brake hoses may also degrade, making it difficult for brake fluid to get where it needs to. 

Bleeders could become rusted overtime from not being adjusted.

How often to get this service

Steve’s Auto Repair recommends brake fluid exchanges every 30,000 miles. The time between each flush does differ among vehicles. Some manufacturers suggest this service be performed more frequently. 

Cars with systems that are run by computers, for example, may require them on 18 month or 24 month intervals. By looking at the owner’s manual, you can confirm what services your vehicle needs and when.

Mileage isn’t the only factor to consider when it comes to brake fluid flushes. You should also keep an eye out for certain symptoms that let you know the fluid needs to be replaced.

One indicator is dark fluid that contains rubber particles that have worn off the ABS or master cylinder. A soft brake pedal is another sign. This occurs when moisture that has collected in the brake system is boiling.

We can check the brake fluid with a test strip, which tells us if there are metal contaminants. Sometimes you may not be able to see metal contaminants in the brake fluid reservoir. If you see black specs, that normally has to do with pieces of the rubber seals. 

Another test that can be done is testing for moisture in the system. That would tell you if you have too much water in the system. The water can boil under extreme braking and cause a brake pedal fade. 

A lot of pen testers we have found don’t do a very good job, so we stopped using them.

Cars that have electric brakes don’t need a brake fluid exchange.

Brake fluid flush process

We replace old brake fluid with new brake fluid when performing a brake fluid flush. This is done using a machine that’s hooked up to the master cylinder. New fluid is added to the machine and the old fluid is removed by going to each wheel.

Our technicians use BG DOT 4 Brake Fluid. This product hinders rust and moisture from building up and preserves the brake system.

When in bumper to bumper traffic, you should feel confident as you step on the brake. Brake fluid exchanges are something you can do to take care of the system, preventing expensive repairs and keeping you and your family safe.

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 induction service helps maintain engine

In Fuel System by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Engines perform quite a bit of work and produce high amounts of heat to run vehicles and get drivers where they need to go.

In order to continue working properly, engine components require some upkeep. If you travel through traffic on a daily basis, taking care of your engine is even more important.

These maintenance methods span from having oil changes performed regularly to mileage-based services.

In addition to using BG MOA when replacing the oil, we recommend conducting a fuel induction service.

About the Fuel Induction Service

Engines are made up of various parts, including combustion chambers, fuel injectors and intake valves, that needed to be cleaned out. 

Overtime, ethanol can cause carbon to accumulate in the fuel system. These deposits can impact combustion and result in problems with driveability.

Signs of carbon buildup include rough idle, stalling, difficulty starting the vehicle, and a decrease in gas mileage. Engine surges, less power, and an increase in emissions emitted can also be symptoms.

The fuel induction service gets rid of the particles.

Why you should get the Fuel Induction Service

There are several benefits of getting the Fuel Induction Service.

It cleans various components, including the fuel injectors, throttle body, and intake valves.

Not only does it clean out the fuel system, it also lowers the amount of emissions a vehicle releases.

Improving the fuel economy and how well the engine runs, and restoring power are a few other perks. 

When to get this service

The Fuel Induction Service is suggested every 30,000 miles. However, some manufacturers recommend it more often.

For example, cars that have GDI engines or a fuel system with direct injection may require the service sooner.

If you are noticing any symptoms of carbon buildup, that’s also a good time to have this maintenance option conducted.

Adding fuel system drier into fuel tank.

What happens during a Fuel Induction Service

We begin this service by putting a fuel system drier, which absorbs moisture, in the fuel tank.

A fuel system cleaner is added to remove carbon buildup and prevent damage that’s caused by ethanol.

The technicians complete the Fuel Induction Service by running an air intake cleaner through the system. This product cleans the intake manifold and valves.

Adding BG 44K into the fuel system.

Between services

Fuel systems can receive some extra support in between fuel induction services. 

We recommend adding BG 44K, which cleans the fuel system and gets rid of any carbon buildup. This item improves how well the combustion and engine works, as well. It can be used on all types of vehicles, including those that have diesel engines and turbocharged engines.

Engines experience a significant amount of stress on a daily basis. Fuel induction services are one way you can do your engine a favor and ensure that it’s able to function for many more years. 

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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New wheel alignment machine purchased by Steve’s Auto Repair

In Alignment by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Improvements are consistently being made to technology today. This includes the car industry, where vehicles are receiving more updated software and systems.

To service modern day cars, Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is upgrading its equipment. It invested in a new wheel alignment machine that offers many perks for the Woodbridge-based business.

Features of our new wheel alignment machine

The Hoffman Geo Aligner 770 is much faster than our older equipment. It used to take 3 or 4 minutes to get the center readings, a task that should now take about 90 seconds.

We also have access to Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs), with the system receiving automatic updates.

“That way when new vehicles hit the market or there are updates on the alignment angles, we automatically get those updates so we’re not a year or two behind,” Steve’s Auto Repair Owner Scott Whitling explained. 

The machine uses ultra high resolution cameras, an upgrade from the standard resolution on our previous aligner.

“So the technology has definitely gotten a lot better throughout the years,” Michael Kneller from MP Equipment said.

Instead of simply taking pictures, the new wheel alignment machine provides a video of the targets. This allows the technician to make adjustments based on live footage, rather than waiting for the equipment to catch up.

Vehicles with Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) can be used on the Hoffman Geo Aligner 770. 

Blind spot detection, emergency braking, park assist and surround view are some parts of ADAS. Steve’s Auto Repair invested in the complete ADAS system last year. A first step in calibrating the systems is ensuring the wheel alignment is correct.

“When you enter a vehicle into the system before you begin your alignment, the system will tell you all necessary systems that may need to be reset or calibrated to give an accurate alignment,” Kneller explained. 

One of the systems includes the steering wheel angle sensor, which gives the computer input from the driver how fast they’re turning the steering wheel.

The machine will also share frame dimensions and tell you if a car has a bad tire, which would need to be taken care of before the alignment is performed. The report can be retrieved as a PDF, helping a shop go paperless.  

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.