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Apprenticeship program offered for automotive technicians

In Uncategorized by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Training is very important at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire in Woodbridge.

Not only does it allow our staff members to strengthen their skills, it also enables us to better assist our customers.

We recently embarked on another training opportunity. Some of our employees are now participating in an apprenticeship program that was established by NAPA Auto Parts. The program seeks to help prospective automotive technicians get their foot in the automotive industry door.

For each employee who is taking part, Steve’s Auto Repair is purchasing $2,500 in tools through Carlyle Tools. The cost of tools are often pricey, especially when a mechanic is just beginning their career.

Technician in apprenticeship program next to tool box and Steve's Auto Repair co-owner.Participants are also receiving a mentor and can watch videos, and take classes and tests using the NAPA online training center.

Four ASE certifications must be completed during the two year program. Classes are available to help prepare them for the ASE tests. By earning these certifications, the technicians will be able to increase their income.

Performing oil changes and installing tires are some ideas that many people think of when it comes to auto repair. However, our work isn’t limited to those tasks. As technology has changed over the years, we have focused more on electronics. Electronics are used for all sorts of functions on vehicles today, including opening the windows, power steering, and ensuring the tire pressure is at a safe level.

Our employees who are going through the apprenticeship program will learn about electronics as well suspension, performing diagnostic testing and driveability.

Working in the automotive industry is a great option, especially if someone isn’t planning to attend college or they are looking for an evolving career. Those who work hard have the opportunity to move up in the field. A lot of training is also offered online, allowing for more flexibility.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that some automotive programs do not provide participants with the needed experience. Even people with associate degrees may find themselves learning new things.

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 lines: Thing to keep in mind when replacing them

In Brakes by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Many people are choosing to hold onto their cars for longer. 

Over the years, rust can start to develop underneath them. This is caused by various factors, including the chemicals used on roads during the wintertime and the type of medal manufacturers are using.

As vehicles reach 7 to 12 years old, rust is more likely to build up. Some automobiles are just more prone to this problem.

Rust can lead to brake fluid leaks, which may impact your stopping ability. This can be kind of scary when you’re going down the road.

What we recommend when getting new brake lines

We can replace the lines individually. You do want to avoid trying to patch a line using compression fittings. That doesn’t really solve your problem for the long haul. It’s also a good idea to make sure that as you’re replacing brake lines you’re running them from one point to the other with a piece of tubing. 

You also have to start looking at how old the vehicle is, along with the brake hoses, the unions they may be going into. Sometimes, just trying to replace one brake line turns into a much bigger job, because now the other brake line is going into it. Even with just moving it they’ll start breaking. When you’re in that position, you might be better off replacing all of them at once. 

We can make them where we buy sections of tubing or have it in rolls and custom make the lines. However, you can now buy brake line kits from different manufacturers. For example, Chevrolet sells them for Chevy Tahoes and some other Silverados. You can even get the kits that come with pre-made brake lines, so they’re bent the right way and they have the correct fittings. 

If you plan to keep your vehicle for a while, it may be worth upgrading to stainless steel brake lines, which are more resistant to rust. While you’re having a brake line job done, double check the brake hoses to ensure that they aren’t cracking. 

We also recommend using a high quality brake fluid – Steve’s Auto Repair uses the BG fluid, which has a drier agent in it and helps the brake fluid last longer. If you’re putting in new brake fluid anyway, you might as well use a good product.

Once the job is done

After the work is finished, make sure to bleed the brakes correctly. For some vehicles, the old way of pressing the pedal and opening the bleeder is perfectly fine. Other cars may require a computer to activate the ABS modules and solenoids. Refer to manufacturer’s specifications on that. 

As of the time of the writing of this article, there are shipping and manufacturing delays due to the Coronavirus. We are even having a hard time getting a hold of brass fittings. So, if you are having new brake lines installed, please be patient with your auto repair shop. They may not be able to get the parts needed for a little while.

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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Replacing battery pack cooling fan on Toyota Prius

In Battery by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

We’re seeing more hybrid vehicles on the road today.

Like other cars, they come with their own benefits and drawbacks.

One common problem lies with the cooling fan for the battery pack, which can wear out.

This component does have vent tubes coming in and out to help direct the air around the battery pack and outside the vehicle. 

Cooling fan problems

Cooling fan.Generally, when there’s a problem with the cooling fan, the check engine light will turn on and there will be a code for the hybrid battery pack cooling system. The lifespan varies, with some beginning to go bad as soon as three years. Typically, they last between five and eight years.

The cooling fan going bad isn’t a big issue. It’s not overly expensive to fix, but you do want to use high quality parts. This is not a time where you should use aftermarket parts. It needs to be functioning correctly so everything is working with the computer.

One of the things to watch out for is people carrying stuff in their vehicle, whether they’re going to Lowe’s and mulch gets spilled there, or lots of papers and clothes pile up. Depending on where it is and how packed it gets, the clutter can block some vents and impact the vehicle’s ability to cool the battery pack.

On the back of the Toyota Prius, you can see both batteries. You have the 12 volt battery that will run your lights and wiper blades. Meanwhile, the hybrid battery pack is located behind the rear seat. The orange tab is the battery disconnect, in case you need to do any work.

When working on these cooling fans, you will want to make sure that the air ducts are in good working order, and aren’t broken, blocked, or venting back inside the car. It’s important that they are repaired correctly. 

Battery packs: When to replace them

battery pack and cooling fan.The battery packs tend to go bad every eight to 10 years. It’s always good to go with the factory module. I would be wary of aftermarket ones, but we have put a couple in from different manufacturers and we’re still testing them out to see how they do in the long run. So far, so good.

As you start to see the mileage decrease over a period of time, it could have to do with the cells in the battery pack. They’re just like any other battery. Eventually, they will wear out or certain cells will have a problem. 

Once you hit around the eight year mark, it’s probably a good idea to replace the entire pack over changing out the individual cells. 

An extra tip for hybrid vehicles: With hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, make sure to use tires like the Goodyear Assurance CS Fuel Max. Some of these tires feature low rolling resistance to help give you better fuel efficiency.

These are just some things that owners of hybrid vehicles should keep in mind.

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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Using walnut blasting treatment to address carbon buildup

In Fuel System by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Walnuts are a snack that many people enjoy. But did you know that they can also be used to clean the intake manifold of a vehicle?

This service, called walnut blasting, is one of the services offered at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire.

It addresses carbon buildup, which is a common problem among BMWs and mini coopers.

We use walnut blasting to help clean the intake, intake valves and cylinder head. 

One of our technicians performed it on a mini cooper, which was running rough.

How we perform walnut blasting

During walnut blasting, the intake manifold is removed. Then, we are able to spray directly into the cylinder head and the intake valves. 

The shells are ground to a powder and that will help break up the carbon deposits, which is usually unburnt fuel and oil that has leaked out and hardened on the valve surfaces, valve stems and the cylinder head. 

It almost acts like a jet of sandpaper that’s knocking the carbon off the valves.

Any remaining walnut shell residue can be broken or burned up by the engine.

Once the carbon deposits are cleared away, drivers may notice an increase in power and, most importantly, the fuel economy. This service will also help the engine breathe better and lower the vehicle’s emissions.

Another benefit of walnut blasting is that it won’t hurt anything, like the pistons or seals. It’s also environmentally safe.

Indicators that you need this service

So, how do you know that carbon is building up in the intake?

Poor fuel economy and running rough are the two of the most common signs.

You might also notice that your vehicle seems sluggish.

For example, drivers who bought their car at 5,000 miles and are now at 60,000 miles may feel that it isn’t running the way it used to. A walnut blasting could help with that.

Preventing and address carbon buildup

Performing regular oil changes, which we recommend every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, can help prevent carbon buildup.

Cleaning may also be a needed maintenance option, depending on the type of vehicle you have.

Part of the problem with the buildup is oil seeping by the valve stems or valve guides. There’s no way to fix it without taking the cylinder head off and taking the valves apart.

Some of these European cars, especially BMWs, tend to burn oil. So, if they’re leaking oil, cleaning the intake will be a common practice. This can be done with walnut blasting or a chemical cleaning, like the BG Fuel Induction Service.

The Fuel Induction Service helps clean out the fuel system. We suggest this service every 30,000 miles, but some manufacturers recommend it more frequently. To learn more about this maintenance option and why you should get it, check out 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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Audi brakes: Common problems and possible causes

In Brakes by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

When it comes time to replace the brakes on your Audi, it’s important to make sure you’re using good quality parts. 

Audis are kind of known for being performance vehicles, and some Audis have a higher performance than others. So, the types of brakes you should use can even differ between models. 

For an Audi A4, you’ll want to use brake pads, rotors and calipers, if those are the parts that need to be replaced. Other performance vehicles may require cross drills and slotted rotors to help dissipate the heat.

While changing the pads, we use pads with sensors built into them. They should be high quality, because the way the electronics work in setting off the lights, saying whether the pads are good or getting worn, you don’t want to have too high resistance or something throwing the computer off. So, you really don’t want to use the cheap pads.

Noises from Audi brakes

Noise is a common issue with Audi brakes, and it can be the result of various culprits. 

Rotors can begin to rust up on vehicles that have been sitting for a while, especially when it’s been raining a lot or snowing during the winter. When you first hit the brakes, they may sound as though they’re grinding. It’s really surface rust. Sand and rocks can get caught up in the pads and rotors, causing grooves to form. So, the grinding noise could actually be from the grooves.

Brake noise can even be caused by cleaning your Audi.

The chemicals sprayed on the vehicle and the wheels to remove the brake dust can get onto the brake pads and rotors. There may not be anything wrong with these parts, but the pads pressing on the rotors may lead to a squeaking or squealing sound.

After washing your vehicle, we recommend taking it on a test drive to help get rid of the chemicals. During the test drive, go to a safe area and perform five panic stops where the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) is engaged. Then, take it back, let it sit, and take it for another test drive after it cools down to see if the noise disappears.

Calipers and brake hoses

The calipers, especially the caliper slides, can also be an issue. Depending on the amount of salt on the road or where the vehicle comes from, the caliper may not release correctly after you step on the brakes. If it’s holding – even if you don’t feel it as you’re driving – it’s pressing the brake pad against the rotor. This means it will wear down faster. 

Brake hoses going bad is another problem we’re seeing. Vehicles are coming in after having a brake job or the calipers replaced and one of the corners is seizing up. The brake hoses are acting as a check valve and maintaining the pressure. So, we strongly recommend changing the brake hoses and the calipers at the same time. 

Whether or not we’re just replacing the pads and rotors or the calipers, it’s a good idea to have a brake fluid exchange conducted. This service should be done at least every 50,000 miles. Based on the type of vehicle and what the manufacturer recommends, we’re seeing brake fluid recommendations come down as soon as 15,000 or 30,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual to see what the interval for your particular car should be.

Depending on the kind of Audi you own and Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) it has – ABS, traction control, accident avoidance, automatic driver assist – make sure the ADAS is recalibrated. To do an alignment or certain service work, such as replacing the timing belt, the front grill of the vehicle needs to be removed. Not resetting the ADAS system can cause other driving issues and may feel like a brake problem. If your vehicle has been in a body shop, verify that it has been recalibrated so it doesn’t feel like a different problem.

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.