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Diagnostic testing performed on a Ford F350

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The reason behind car problems can’t always be determined at a glance.

To pinpoint some issues, we need to perform diagnostic testing. You can read more about what we do during noise diagnostics in this article we wrote. 

When conducting diagnostic testing, we communicate with the customer about what they’re experiencing and do research on the vehicle and problem. 

Some behaviors our technicians are trying to address, however, only occur in certain circumstances. This can make it more complicated and time consuming to figure out the cause.

How we performed diagnostic testing

One of our technicians experienced this recently when working on a 2008 Ford F350 that came in for an intermittent rough idle. 

It seemed like it was having a misfire on just one cylinder, and it wasn’t happening all the time. After the check engine light came on and we stored some codes, we had a cylinder 4 misfire.

While working on the truck, Brian determined that a fuel injector needed to be replaced.

He was able to confirm this by turning off the injectors one at a time while the truck was running. When the injector for cylinder 4 was turned off, it didn’t make a difference on how well the vehicle operated.

However, it wasn’t malfunctioning continuously. The truck drove fine during the first test drive. When it sat idle for about a minute, it began to run rough and then would become smooth again. 

Because of the amount of time it takes to replace the injectors, it’s best to replace all four injectors on one bank or eight injectors on two banks – even if only one new injector is needed.

Old fuel injectors.
Old fuel injectors

To get to the valve cover and injectors that were located underneath it, Brian needed to remove several components. These included the passenger side valve cover, pump and cooler, coolant bottle and battery.

Technicians also need to replace any coolant and oil that has been lost, and take the vehicle for one or two test drives to make sure it’s working properly.

Make sure to maintain your vehicle

The best thing that you can do to avoid this type of service is to keep up on regular maintenance. This includes making sure the oil is full and clean, and having oil changes performed when your vehicle is due for them.

We recommend having the oil replaced every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

In some cases, due to age and wear and tire, the injectors may need to be replaced when it reaches 100,000 to 120,000 miles.

The Ford F350 was at around 120,000 miles and we didn’t have history of the injectors ever being replaced.

If you bring your vehicle to an auto repair shop because it’s acting abnormally or making a strange noise, make sure to provide as much information as you can. These details can help the technician narrow down the possibilities, saving you time and money.

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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Coolant fluid exchanges can prevent engine from overheating

In Cooling System by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Your car’s engine produces a lot of heat. The cooling system keeps the temperature at a safe level.

Coolant that the engine heats goes to the radiator. Some of the heat disappears, and the coolant returns to the engine.

If the system isn’t working correctly, the water pump could fail. The heads may get warped and the head gaskets could become blown.

Because of the important role the cooling system plays, it’s important to take care of it. This can be done through regular coolant fluid exchanges.

Why should you get a coolant fluid exchange?

Prolonging the life of coolant and enhancing your vehicle’s performance are some perks of having regular coolant fluid exchanges conducted.

Due to normal everyday use, coolant breaks down and anti-corrosion supplements wear out.

If a coolant fluid exchange is put off, various parts can begin to corrode. These components include the water pump and radiator.

Additionally, rust, scale and sludge can accumulate and block the fins of the cooling system, preventing an engine from releasing heat properly.

Avoiding this service could result in the engine overheating and may lead to expensive repairs down the road.

When should this service be performed?

Coolant fluid exchanges are recommended every 30,000 miles. How frequently your car should receive this service also depends on what the manufacturer suggests.

It’s also a good idea to change the fluid when you have problems relating to your vehicle’s thermostat or certain parts are being replaced, like the radiator or water pump.

A car is also ready for a coolant fluid exchange if the coolant is dark. This indicates that the fluid is degrading. Using a test strip, we can check its PH level. This is helpful because the coolant turns acidic when the additives that prevent corrosion are used up.

What happens during a coolant fluid exchange? 

When performing a coolant fluid exchange, our technicians put in BG Universal Cooling System Cleaner, which suspends the contaminants. 

The impurities and old fluid are removed and replaced with new coolant. 

After that, Super Cool is added. This product stops leaks from occurring and prevents overheating.

Types of Coolant

There are different types of coolant produced today. Some fluids are designed for European vehicles, while others should be used on Asian makes and models. Cars made in the United States may use a different type.

BG has a universal coolant that can be used on gasoline and diesel engines. This fluid helps prevent corrosion in the cooling system.

Steve’s Auto Repair has coolant for all kinds of makes and models.

It’s important that you feel safe as you’re traveling to your next destination. The last thing you want is to end up on the side of the road because your engine overheated. By keeping up with your vehicle’s services, you can feel a little more at ease when you hit 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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Steve’s Auto Repair and Tire: Who we are and what we do

In Alignment, Inspection, Maintenance, Tires and Wheels by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire has been serving the Woodbridge area for more than 32 years.

We are located at 2603 Hanco Center Drive – off Route 1 and Neabsco Mills Road – and provide a variety of services to meet your vehicle’s needs.

Services offered at Steve’s Auto Repair

State inspections and emissions inspections are among the services we offer.

Our technicians also perform oil changes and tune ups, and take care of your check engine light if it turns on.

During oil changes, they conduct mini state inspections. We will look over your vehicle and point out anything that may be a safety issue, a maintenance issue, or a service we recommend based on its mileage.

If you notice a strange noise or your car is acting strange, we can help with that too.

Steve’s Auto Repair is also able to service vehicles that use Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS), including camera and targeted systems.

To keep you updated while your car is at the shop, our technicians perform digital inspections that provide you with photos, videos and information about repairs and recommendations.

Tires and tire services available

Steve’s Auto Repair is an authorized Goodyear Tire dealer. If you’re driving on or past Neabsco Mills Road, you may notice our big Goodyear sign.

We also sell other types of tires, including Kelly, Dunlop and Hankook. If you’re looking for new tires, our staff is happy to help you find the right fit for your vehicle and budget.

In addition to selling tires, we do mounting, balancing, tire rotations and tire repair.

Our technicians perform wheel alignments, as well.

Pick up and drop off services

There are many ways you can drop off your car for service.

“You can either drop it off in the night owl night service or you can come into the office during hours that we’re open,” Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire Owner Scott Whitling said. 

We are open between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Staff members are also available to meet you in the parking lot and collect the keys and information.

Need a ride? We also have a free shuttle service that can pick you up or drop you off.

A pick up and delivery service is available, as well. Please give us a call to arrange it.

More about Steve’s Auto Repair

Some repair shops try to hit you for everything at once, because they are concerned you won’t come back.

We want to give a good evaluation of your car, so you know what condition it’s in. We don’t care about getting the sale today, we want to take care of you and your family for many years.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is a family-owned business. We support local non-profits and believe in the importance of giving back to our community.

“If you’ve been here before, we really appreciate you coming,” Whitling said. “If you haven’t been here, please give us a try.”

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 much does a wheel alignment cost?

In Alignment by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Like state inspections, wheel alignments should be done annually. This service can help you get the most out of your tires by preventing them from wearing out too soon, saving you money in the long run.

The type of alignment needed is based on the vehicle. Two-wheel alignments, which are also called front-end alignments, are performed on most pickup trucks. Four-wheel alignments, on the other hand, are conducted on most cars.

While doing an alignment, we check a few adjustments, such as caster, camber and toe. Caster is the angle of the wheels toward the front or back. Meanwhile, camber describes how they slant inward and outward. Toe refers to where the wheels are in relation to the center of the vehicle.

The wheels are inspected and a test drive is performed, as well.

How much is a wheel alignment?

The cost of a wheel alignment can be affected by different circumstances, including how old a vehicle is, the make and model, and the type of alignment needed.

An alignment costs between $80 and $188. This is how it breaks down, according to the type of vehicle.

The wheel alignment cost of a 2 wheel alignment or a 4 wheel alignment costs about $100. That is before any discounts or coupons.

If you have a GM truck, you could be looking at $146, due to the upper control arm adjustments needed. It takes a bit longer to do this service.

If you have a lifted truck and/or aftermarket suspension parts, it could cost $188. 

These costs do not include additional services that are needed. This includes suspension components becoming worn or seized by rust, bushings that have gone bad, and needing special parts, such as ball joints and adjustable control arms that would need to be installed to bring an alignment back into the correct specifications.

For vehicles that only need front end adjustments – which you could normally do a two wheel alignment on – the back may be modified with shims on the backing plates to bring the toe and camber into the right specs, even if they aren’t on car adjustments.

Cars that have toe specifications on all four wheels may require other parts to change the caster and camber. 

Vehicle safety systems, such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), could impact the cost, because after getting an alignment there may be a system that needs to be recalibrated.

Shopping for a cheap alignment only based on price isn’t a good idea. 

Many places will technically put the readings in the green, but it may not be a good overall alignment. The manufacturers provide a range of adjustments. Even if they may be in the green, if the tires are pointed slightly to the left, it could cause the vehicle to pull while going down the road.

Our technicians look at the overall alignment, not just trying to turn the screen green.

Sometimes, even though the specifications may be technically just outside the green zone on the screen, it isn’t always necessary to replace parts to compensate for it. The amount of wear would be so minuscule, repairs may not be needed. 

That’s the type of information our technicians and service writers bring to our customers to help them make the best decision about a wheel alignment.

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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Power steering fluid exchanges get rid of contaminants

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Looking to steer clear of future problems with your vehicle?

Regular power steering fluid exchanges is one way to do it.

This service was performed on a Lexus RX350 recently.

When to get a power steering fluid exchange

We recommend power steering fluid exchanges every 30,000 miles. It also depends on the type of vehicle. Certain cars require this service more often.

Other services, such as brake fluid exchanges and fuel induction services, are also recommended at 30,000 mile intervals. So, it’s a good idea to have them done around the same time.

Because power steering fluid exchanges help protect the rack and pinion, you may want to have this service performed if you have any service done on these parts.

Why you should consider this service

In addition to cleaning out contaminants, they help keep the rack and pinion lubricated and ensures that the steering remains smooth.

If you put them off or the fluid is low, you will eventually hear a whining sound. It may become difficult to steer your car, as well.

Significant pressure and high temperatures are placed on power steering systems. Over time, this can impact the fluid’s ability to keep parts lubricated and causes metal to accumulate. 

The contaminated fluid leads to seal and valve damage as well as premature wear among components, such as the power steering pump and rack and pinion.

Performing a power steering fluid exchange.

What happens during a power steering fluid exchange and products available

During a power steering fluid exchange, we pour a cleaner in the reservoir and it runs through the system, suspending the impurities. The old power steering fluid and contaminants are removed using a push and pull method, and new fluid is added.

There are a few products BG makes for this service.

BG Quick Clean, the cleaner our technicians use, gets rid of deposits that collect.

Power steering systems are protected against heat and wear with BG Power Clean, which contains antioxidants and seal conditioners.

BG Universal Synthetic Power Steering Fluid is able to provide even better protection during high and low temperatures. When it’s hot, the fluid doesn’t become thin. In the cold, it won’t thicken.

For vehicles that have hydraulic or electric power steering, there’s BG Full Synthetic Electric Power Steering Fluid.

Signs that the power steering fluid needs to be changed

The technician determined that the Lexus RX350 needed a power steering fluid exchange when he noticed the fluid was dark while inspecting the vehicle. The power steering fluid becomes dark when contaminants build up and oxidation occurs.

It may be time to change out the fluid if steering becomes more difficult or the power steering pump sounds louder.

Components will eventually fail, as well.

Power steering fluid exchanges are one maintenance option Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire offers. We also conduct brake fluid exchanges, transmission fluid exchanges and induction services.

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.