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Squeaky brakes: What causes them?

In Brakes by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Have you just recently driven your car backed out of the driveway and noticed your brakes were making a squealing or squeaking noise?

With the cold and damp weather, your brakes might make these sounds when you’re first hitting the brakes in the morning. 

In this case, squeaky brakes are nothing to be concerned about. A lot of cars have been sitting for awhile.

If you’ve been at home for a while or your kids are getting ready to start driving back and forth to high school or college, a squeaking and grinding noise may be heard. That grinding can be rust buildup on the brake rotors, which is caused by moisture and the vehicle sitting there.

Try going for a 20 or 30 minute drive and do some normal braking to see if it goes away. If it does, your brakes are probably OK. 

However, it’s probably not a bad idea to go ahead and get them checked at your automotive repair shop. You might also want to have a quick safety check done.

A service advisor at your local auto repair shop would be more than happy to get you in and take a look at your vehicle, just to make sure everything’s up to snuff before your kids get back on the road.

Other causes of squeaky brakes

In addition to weather conditions and rust buildup, squeaky brakes can be caused by the brake pads some vehicles have.

For example, performance brake pads may make a squealing sound when they are cold, even during warm, dry weather. This is because they need a little heat to grab and perform really well. After two or three brake stops, these brakes can be easily up to 200 or 300 degrees, which is when they work better.

If you do need new brakes, you should have the brake pads and rotors replaced at the same time. 

You’ll also want to have someone to look it over too, so they can make sure the brake calipers, the brake hoses and the brake fluids are good, and they can ensure that the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is working correctly. A lot of these vehicles require special brake bleeding procedures due to ABS.

And another thing to look into getting – whether it’s due to time or there’s contamination in the brake fluid – is a brake fluid exchange. During a brake fluid exchange, we hook up a BG machine to actually push the fluid through the master cylinder, ABS system, the brake hoses, and the calipers to make sure that all the old brake fluid is out. Therefore, the pedal will always feel good and the brakes will be able to form correctly.

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’s emissions inspection program recognized

In Inspection by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire’s emissions inspection program has been recognized. 

We received a certificate of appreciation for observing licensing requirements and conducting inspections in a “dedicated and commendable” way.

Emissions inspection recognition.
Emissions inspection recognition

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) manages the Vehicle Emissions Testing.

An emission inspection is required every two years for cars housed in certain localities, including Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park.

During the test, inspectors confirm information, including the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and check for certain components that have to do with emissions control systems.

Read more about the emission test in one of our articles.

Emissions inspection unit.
Emissions inspection unit

Our certified inspectors are encouraged to follow the regulations and look for anything that doesn’t meet them.

“While doing the inspections, we communicate with the DEQ about issues that arise, such as tampering or gray areas,” Owner Scott Whitling said. “This helps us make sure that we’re staying in compliance.”

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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Check engine light on an Audi

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

An Audi came in because its check engine light had turned on.

A check engine light comes on for many reasons. In this particular case, it was not flashing. 

If you have a flashing check engine light, that means you may have a problem that is going to cause catalytic converter damage or could cause some other engine problems because there was a misfire.

It was also low on oil, which was causing some different problems. There were some codes, because these engines that have variable valve timing are – a lot of times – controlled by oil control valves, which adjust the valve timing. 

We were able to clear the codes, reset the maintenance monitor systems, and get this vehicle back on track.

Oil change on an Audi.

Regular oil changes can help prevent engine damage. We recommend changing it every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

Other check engine light causes

Other reasons that the check engine light turns on can be anything from a sensor not recording or sending the signal correctly to a loose gas cap. The light may also indicate evaporative control problems or even issues with your transmission. 

So, when the light comes on you don’t really want to wait a long time to get it checked, even if it’s just a matter of coming to your local auto repair shop and having them check the codes. 

If we see a code that has to do with a gas cap, we’re able to just take a look at it real quick, make sure the gas cap seal isn’t broken, tighten it up, clear the code and let you drive it. If it comes on again from an EVAP code, then we can get into diagnostics. But this is one of the things you just don’t really want to wait too long to get addressed.

Even regular maintenance on Audis has to be done correctly. Using the wrong weight of oil, or not getting the cap back on, or knocking off a vacuum line can actually trigger a check engine light. 

Sometimes, with these vehicles, a little hose can come loose and you won’t even notice it. Even the dipstick not being pushed in all the way can cause an issue that an Audi can actually pick up.

If you do get an oil change and your check engine light comes on a day or two or three afterwards just talk to your auto repair shop and they may be able just to check something real quick. 

This is a very small list of reasons why your check engine light can come on: 

  • Gas cap 
  • Oxygen sensor 
  • Catalytic converter problem
  • Misfire
  • Coils 
  • Plugs 
  • The evaporative system 
  • Sensors 
  • Wrong oil and low oil 
  • Transmission problems 
  • ABS or traction control problem

So if your check engine light does come on, call your local auto repair shop. Let them at least check the codes and see if there’s anything that’s serious. If you keep your vehicle maintained, you can have many years with your Audi.

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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Nissan Frontier oil change and maintenance

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

If you’re looking for a local auto repair shop to take care of your Nissan Frontier or if you’re lucky enough to have one of the older Nissan pickups, there are many ways that you can keep your vehicle running for a long time.

These are a few services we recommend to help maintain it.

Nissan Frontier oil change

Obviously, when you’re looking to perform a Nissan Frontier oil change you want to change the oil filter with a good quality oil filter. 

Steve’s Auto Repair uses synthetic oil in all of our oil changes. Using the correct weight of oil is very important.

We do carry BG products such as MOA, CF5, and 44K. Two of them are fuel additives, and they actually help keep the injectors, top of the Pistons, and the intake valves clean. 

A lot of carbon can build up in today’s vehicles, especially those using cheap gas and traveling in stop and go traffic.

BG MOA is an oil additive you may use with regular oil and synthetic oil. It helps keep things lubed up and addresses lifter noise that you might get with older vehicles.

During an oil change, we rotate the tires, check your brakes, check your cabin air filters, and basically do a mini state inspection.

Dirty Nissan cabin air filter.

Changing the cabin air filter

A lot of times, the cabin air filters get really dirty with leaves and pollen. 

It’s a good idea to have them replaced at least once a year. How often you change a cabin air filter depends on a few factors, like the type of vehicle and how much you drive.

I prefer to replace mine after pollen season. 

When changing it, our technicians can also spray BG Frigi Fresh in the air intake system. This disinfectant kills bacteria, mold and viruses.

Nissan maintenance.

You should make sure to clean any leaves and pine needles that collect on the cowling area, as well. Debris in the cowling area, which is the bottom of the windshield, may clog the cabin air filter. 

Nissan battery.

Checking the battery

The next thing is the battery and making sure to test it. Extremely cold or hot temperatures often kill a weak battery.

On the Nissan Frontier, you can actually still check the water on most of the batteries, and you either use distilled water or a special battery water. 

Using anti-corrosion pads is another maintenance tip we recommend. Batteries are known to leak a little bit of acid. Not only does it corrode the battery terminal, it can also eat up the battery tray and the battery.

Now is a good time to check to make sure everything’s working correctly, including your lights and windshield wipers, and even clean the windows. A lot of people will clean the outside but forget to do the inside. So, when it’s sunny, it could be hard to see.

These are just a few ways to maintain your Nissan so that you are able to continue enjoying it for years to come. 

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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What is a tune up now?

In Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

A tune up used to involve replacing parts, such as spark plugs, spark plug wires, and the distributor cap and rotor.

Mechanics would change the air filter and fuel filter, replace points in the condenser – if the car was old enough – and even perform an oil change, depending on the time frame.

It could also consist of adjusting the distributor to change the timing, cleaning the throttle plate and the choke on the carburetor, and making air fuel adjustments, including setting the base idol.

Through the years, as vehicles have become more advanced with fuel injections and computers, what is considered a tune up has changed.

Tune up services offered today

Changing the spark plugs is one service that continues to be offered. However, the mileage between spark plugs has gone from 30,000 miles to between 60,000 and 105,000 miles in most vehicles today.

This increase is due to the ignition systems being Coil on Plug (COP) and the materials that the spark plugs are made out of, such as iridium and platinum, lasting much longer.

Of course there’s still air filters, but a lot of the time the fuel filters are integral with the fuel pumps in the gas tanks, depending on the vehicle. 

One service that helps greatly with today’s vehicles is cleaning the throttle body and doing a fuel induction service. The way the PCV systems are made, more carbon gets built up in the intake and the valves than it used to.

While you’re driving, computers take care of a lot of adjustments you used to have to make. However, it’s more important than ever to maintain your vehicle or to do the tune up at the interval, even if your vehicle is running just fine. Computers will try to compensate for a problem that an automotive technician could catch during the regular tune up.

Using the right spark plugs

It is also very important to use the correct type of spark plugs for your car or truck.  While a cheaper spark plug may technically allow your vehicle to run, you could be asking for the check engine to turn on for weird issues and possible damage to your engine.

The way vehicles are designed nowadays, it could be very difficult to get to the spark plugs. You used to be able to work on them in your driveway, but today it could take four or five hours to reach them, depending on what you have to take off to get to them.

SHOP TIP: Because some spark plugs are very hard to get to, when you go in for a tune up, ask to see your spark plugs. Unfortunately, when working with other shops, we have seen that the front three have been changed but not the three in the back.

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.