“Everything Auto” Blog – You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers

Our focus is to keep you and your family safe on the road. We employ the most qualified people who will accurately determine your needs, clearly communicate the best solutions and execute all work with integrity.

When you have questions, please use us as a trusted resource for honest information. We will provide high-quality auto repair work and trusted pre-owned auto sales, we love this stuff so much we even want to blog about it!

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Auto Repair FAQ: When Should I Get a Wheel Alignment?

A vehicle’s wheels are an important component of its overall suspension system, and when out of alignment, they can wreak havoc on the car as a whole. The challenge as a car owner is knowing when a wheel alignment is necessary and when it is an unnecessary add-on to another vehicle service. Our auto repair technicians generally recommend a wheel alignment, or at least an alignment checkup, in the following cases:

  • Anytime the tires are changed, since the vehicle will handle differently on new tires than it did on tires with wear and tear.
  • When you hit a a particularly bad pothole.
  • If you feel the car pulling in either direction while driving.
  • If your steering wheel is shaking at high speeds.
  • If you tend to hit curbs and parking stalls.
  • If you haven’t had your alignment checked in 8,000 miles or 6 months (whichever comes first)

Even a tiny bit of poor alignment can have negative long-term effects. These effects range from premature tire wear to poor (and dangerous) vehicle handling.

Most manufacturers don’t list wheel alignment as part of a recommended vehicle maintenance schedule, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep a close eye on this aspect of car care. At American Pride, we generally advise our customers to get their alignment checked at each routine service visit and to have an alignment performed annually (or as needed).

We offer customers in Williamsburg, Toano, Newport News and Yorktown wheel alignment checks and two different levels of wheel alignment service (Learn more about our standard and plus alignment service here). Every wheel alignment at American Pride involves only the best precision and accuracy and we make sure to follow the specs set forth by each manufacturer for all makes and models. Schedule an appointment for wheel alignment and suspension system services today at whichever location is most convenient for you.

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Most Common Signs of Engine Problems

We’ve talked before about the dread associated with the “check engine” light, but do you know the most common reasons for this light and other signs of major engine trouble? The need for a major engine repair is often a result of neglected routine maintenance. It’s important to catch the signs of an ailing engine before the car breaks down. These are a few of them.

  1. Repeated overheating. If you find yourself sitting in traffic with an overheating engine, you may have a bad water pump, broken engine thermostat, blocked hoses, a burnt out radiator, or loose/broken plugs (all components of your engine’s cooling system).
  2. Strange noises. All cars have their unique “sounds,” but if you notice any new/odd noises or vibrations like knocking, grinding or clunking, you should get the car to a mechanic ASAP. These noises can indicate timing belt problems, a bad starter or other engine irregularity.
  3. Smoke or steam. We wrote a post on this topic recently. A smoking engine is a smoking gun for all kinds of issues including: a poorly functioning crankcase, worn gaskets/cylinders/or rings, and even using the wrong oil grade.
  4. Stalling or hesitation. A car that cuts out on the road is a major safety hazard, and even minor hesitations should be cause for pause. Hesitation issues are sometimes indicative of fuel filter and fuel line problems. You may also need to replace your spark plugs. Keep in mind that stalling and hesitation are not always engine-related, but can also be caused by transmission issues and vehicle computer irregularities.

Are you experiencing any of these signs of major engine trouble? Get your vehicle to American Pride to get the car repaired before it needs a more costly fix. Call any of our three locations or contact online today to schedule an appointment.

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Our Latest Family Service Day in Toano

On May 2, we celebrated Family Service Day at the American Pride Automotive Toano location and had beautiful weather and a great time! Not familiar with Family Service Day? It’s a program that started at American Pride and has taken root all across the nation in which auto repair shops like ours volunteer on a Saturday to service the vehicles of single parent and deployed military families free of charge.  With the support of community sponsors, we make Family Service a big party for the families we serve.

Take a look at these photos that chronicle our awesome day, and learn more about Family Service day here.

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Automotive AC Services for Summer 2015

Memorial Day is behind us and it is now hot as can be in Hampton Roads. If your car’s AC is blowing hot or lukewarm air, you’ll start to notice it right about now. It’s a fast road to aggravation when you find yourself sitting in traffic on Interstate 64 in a vehicle with broken air conditioning. Now is the best time to call American Pride Automotive with your AC issue. This is a friendly reminder that we offer the following auto AC repair and maintenance services:

  • Overall visual inspection for leaks, cracks and other irregularities in the system
  • Leak testing with specialized equipment
  • Air conditioning recharge with your vehicle manufacturers refrigerant. Did you know that the EPA requires air conditioner recharging to be performed by an ASE-certified technician? We’ve got you covered.
  • A/C retrofits when the existing system is deemed irreparable.
  • Replacement and repair of A/C system components including the compressor, condenser and evaporator.

Driving with the windows down is only fun for a while. Call American Pride Automotive to get your car’s AC blowing cool, refreshing air that will last all summer. Schedule a service appointment today!

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My Engine Is Smoking… What Do I Do?

OverheatedSo you’re driving along on a hot summer’s day and notice a gradual plume of blue-white smoke billowing out from the hood.  The smoking may be intermittent or it may get worse as you drive. Either way, it’s important to get your car to a certified auto mechanic immediately. A fatal engine problem may not be to blame, but you can minimize that chance by getting your engine looked at by a professional as soon as possible.

But not all engine-related smoke is created equal. Read on to learn what different colors of smoke may mean for the health of your engine and the diagnosis of your automotive issue.

Blue smoke is usually indicative of burning oil, which signifies worn or damaged valves and, piston rings or cylinders. It can also mean that the oil was over-filled at your last oil change and has leaked into the combustion chamber.

Black smoke seems a little more ominous and for good reason, as it is often a sign of an incorrect engine timing, a blocked engine management system or a fuel injection system malfunction.

White smoke emanating from a gasoline engine is indicative of a cooling system problem that is causing your engine to overheat. An auto repair professional should check your system for any cracked pipes or leaky seals and add the correct coolant. White smoke can also simply mean that the engine was cold upon start-up and needs some time to warm up (think the stuff coming out of the tail pipe in early February).

Keep in mind that smoke may not signal an engine problem at all, and may be related to another crucial vehicle system like a clogged air filter or faulty transmission. Since problems like these are difficult to diagnose right off the bat, it is important to entrust your vehicle to a reliable car mechanic with experience in engine repair, engine maintenance and engine replacement.

If you find yourself with a smoking vehicle, make your way to any of our three convenient American Pride locations in Toano, Yorktown or Williamsburg. We will work hard to get you back on the road safely. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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Summer Car Care Tips

Beach days and car rides with the windows down are finally upon us and few can complain, but is your car up to the challenge of longer, hotter days? Extreme heat like we experience in Hampton Roads can do a number several of your vehicle’s most important components, but there are steps you can take to help prevent disaster before it gets too hot to handle.

  1. First things first, and we admit that this is more about your comfort than your car’s functionality, but…get the air conditioning system checked and repaired if necessary! No one likes a hot car cabin in the middle of summer, so now is the time to make sure that yours can blow cold consistently. If it seems like the AC is having problems, don’t settle for a single freon recharge, as leaking freon often signals a cracked hose. If that crack isn’t repaired and the hose replaced, you’ll be back for another recharge before you can wipe the sweat from your brow (See: Why is my AC Blowing Hot Air? Pt 1).
  2. Park in the shade when you can. This protects a vehicle’s cosmetic exterior and helps keep in the inside of the car cooler. Invest in a sun shade to put under your windshield when parking out of the sun isn’t possible.
  3. Summer is a time for vacations and lengthy road trips. That means you should pay special attention to your vehicle’s routine maintenance schedule in the way of recommended filter changes, fluid changes and oil changes. And don’t forget to check the condition of your tires. Dirty filters (and worn down tires) can lessen fuel economy and put undue stress on all
  4. Remove any salt from the chassis. We had a cold, snowy winter, and unless you stayed inside through the whole season, it’s likely that road salt accumulated on your vehicle’s undercarriage, which ultimately causes rust. If you haven’t yet, take a trip through the car wash, and for extra measure, get the entire vehicle’s exterior waxed afterward.
  5. When was the last time you replaced or serviced your car battery? If it’s been a while, it is especially important to get the battery checked before temps skyrocket. According to the Car Care Council, “Excessive heat and overcharging are the two main reasons for shortened battery life. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, thus damaging the internal structure of the battery.” For less of a chance of diminishing battery life this summer, keep conductors on the top of the batter clean and top off when necessary.
  6. Service all belts as needed. If your timing belt or serpentine belt is due for service or replacement, make sure you have the service performed as soon as possible. Heat can exacerbate the disintegration of a cracked and old belt.  Have your timing belt kit replaced by American Pride by May 31 and receive $150 off the service.

Get your car ready for summertime by scheduling an appointment at our Yorktown, Williamsburg or Toano American Pride Automotive locations. We are a full service auto repair shop that will get you on the road safely and with integrity.

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Low Rates and Deferred Payments for Your New Car!

Now is the time to buy a vehicle at American Pride Automotive. With tax season coming to a close and a refund you can put to great use, we are confident that the we can find the perfect car for you and help you finance it at an incredibly low rate.

From now to May 31, 2015, you can take advantage of these rates and defer payments for 45 days. This is a great option for a young adult financing his or her first vehicle or a parent looking for an affordable deal on a car for a college student. Just present this coupon at delivery of the new vehicle.

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Have an idea of the kind of car you want? Let American Pride do the guess work for you with the “Find My Car” tool.  Enter all the specifications that you deem necessary and we will do our best to find a vehicle that fits the bill. You can also look at our current inventory online or give us a call at any of our three American Pride Automotive locations to make sure that the right options are on the lot when you arrive.

 

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Take $150 Off Timing Belt Kit and Installation for a Limited Time

The timing belt is one of those vehicle components that is only as good as its maintenance (arguably, a trait of all quality car parts). If your auto technician recommends replacement of the timing belt kit and you’re on the fence, consider having it replaced at American Pride Automotive. Now is the time! Until May 31, you can take $150 off a new timing belt kit (water pump, hydraulic tensioner, idler pulleys and of course the timing belt itself) and installation.

Why replace the timing belt?

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See the full post here.

Schedule an appointment at your most convenient American Pride location today and present the following coupon at time of service.

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Beyond Boobs: Our New Community Star

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At American Pride Automotive we perform all sizes of repairs and all types of auto maintenance, but the State Inspection service remains one of our most important offerings.  We have taken the mundane State Inspection process and made it meaningful by donating $5.00 from every inspection performed to a local charity, and we need your help.  Throughout 2014 American Pride donated more than $10,000 to local charities such as March of DimesHospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg and the Heritage Humane Society. 

Through the end of June we are aggressively raising money for an incredible charity, Beyond Boobs, an amazing local organization that provides education for young women whose lives have been impacted by breast cancer. They focus on bringing women action steps for preventing breast cancer and most importantly, ways to live well after diagnosis. American Pride is proud to partner with Beyond Boobs as they “pack some punch into the pink ribbon.

 We have a company goal of raising more than $8,000 for for this worthy cause and we need your help. We ask that you share what is happening with your friends, co-workers and family so they too can choose to have American Pride perform their inspection enabling us to meet our fundraising goal.

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Spring Potholes Can Wreak Havoc on Your Tires & Suspension System

APA-Potholes

The warmth and fresh energy of spring is well on its way, but that warmth can spell hazards for your vehicle’s tires and suspension system. How?

After an especially cold, icy winter, our formerly smooth interstates and side streets thaw out and develop cracks that eventually turn into potholes. Water that seeps into the ground under the road expands when it freezes, so when it thaws (read: contracts) the pavement contracts as well. This newly weakened pavement can’t withstand the weight of cars and trucks, and develops the craters we know as potholes.

You may have already started to notice annoying potholes on your morning commute that cause your car to jolt and coffee to splash, but those aggravating craters may be also be causing serious damage to your suspension system. Driving over a large pothole stresses shocks or struts unevenly and transfers the stress of the impact to other suspension and steering components like wheel bearings, ball joints, control arms and more.

Damage caused by spring potholes is one of the main reasons we see people come in for wheel alignments and suspension system repair. If you’ve driven over a few bad ones this year and are experiencing these problematic signs, consider calling American Pride for a suspension checkup or wheel alignment.

  • Uneven tire wear or prematurely worn tires
  • A vehicle that pulls one way or another
  • Tires that squeal
  • A shaky or crooked steering wheel

Potholes can also damage tires and wheel components. Possible effects include tire punctures, jarred wheel balance weights and bent rims.

If you suspect that your suspension system or tires have been damaged or misaligned, call or contact any of our three American Pride Automotive locations to schedule an appointment.  And to report potholes, contact VDOT here.

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