“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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Get Your Car Inspected for a Good Cause!

Update: As of October 1,  we have raised $1,855 of the $6,000 fundraising goal for Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg through our State Inspections for our Community initiative. Thank you to all who have come out to one of our locations to have their vehicles inspected. It is always amazing to see people in the community gather together to help each other and at American Pride Automotive, we are passionate about making opportunities to do so happen.

Not familiar with our State Inspections for the Community program? Periodically, American Pride chooses a charity or esteemed organization to which we donate a portion of state inspection proceeds.

state-inspections-for-our-community-200px Until the end of 2014, that organization (our “Community Star”)  is Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg. Hospice House provides end-of-life care to terminally ill people at no cost to caregivers. Their mission is to enhance the quality of life for terminally ill people and their families in an environment that feels more like a home than a medical facility.

When you bring your vehicle in for an inspection until December 31, 2014, $5 of the inspection fee goes to supporting Hospice House and the families they help.

Does your windshield have a 10/14 on it? Have one of our locations perform your State Inspection and you will be supporting a very worthy cause!

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October Special: Half-Off Wheel Alignments

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Everyday wear and tear, poor road conditions, fender benders and hitting the curb while parallel parking can all knock a vehicle’s wheels out of alignment. Poor wheel alignment puts unnecessary wear on even the highest quality tires and unnecessary stress on the whole vehicle. Too many people elect to not have their wheels aligned when they come in for a service visit and are then surprised when at their next visit the technician recommends tire replacement due to uneven wear! We here at American Pride don’t want that to happen to any of our customers, and that’s why we are offering half-priced wheel alignments throughout the month of October!

Some signs that your vehicle may need a wheel alignment include visible tire wear, the car “pulling” to one side of the road, and a shaky steering wheel. Still, it is important to keep in mind that often there are no obvious or visible signs of poorly aligned wheels until the vehicle is up on a lift. That is why it is vital for car owners to have their tires and suspension systems inspected and their wheels aligned regularly—especially after replacing tires or getting into an accident.

Don’t put off your next wheel alignment! Schedule an appointment at American Pride in October to get this critical service performed and save money doing it.

Along with our wheel alignment special, there’s a lot going on at American Pride during the month of October! Through the State Inspections for the Community Program, $5 of every state inspection through the end of 2014 goes to our Community Star, Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg. So, if your car is due for inspection within the next few months, visit American Pride for a state inspection you can feel good about. Learn more about our State Inspections for the Community Program here.

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What to Do When a Car Overheats

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You’re on the road and suddenly you notice the little red engine temperature needle climbing into dangerous territory. You may even see smoke or steam wafting up from under the hood. The engine is overheating. What do you do? What could cause this to happen?

First things first: Don’t panic. Your engine isn’t likely to blow up (though if you do notice smoke or steam, pull over immediately). If it seems to be overheating just slightly, turn off the air conditioner to take some strain off of the engine and turn on the heat to draw heat away from the engine.

If turning off the A/C and blasting the heat brings the needle back down, try your best to make it home or to the nearest auto repair shop if those places are within a quarter mile. If not, pull over and turn the engine off. When a vehicle overheats in heavy traffic, avoid using the brakes too frequently and do your best to get off the road as soon as possible. From there, either call a tow truck or, if you’re comfortable with the inner workings of your vehicle (and have coolant, water and basic auto repair tools on hand), prepare to find the source of the problem.

Once the engine has cooled after about half an hour, carefully pop the hood and find the coolant tank. The initial thing to look for is a coolant leak. If the tank is empty or if coolant is low and there is an obvious crack, a leak is probable. In this case you will need to have the coolant tank replaced eventually, but in the meantime you should add coolant to the radiator. SAFETY NOTE: Wait until the engine is completely cool before opening the radiator cap. Failing to do so can lead to serious burns from pressurized fluid.

From there, add the correct ratio of coolant and water, replace the cap, close the hood and make your way to an auto repair shop.

If both the coolant reservoir and radiator have the correct levels of coolant, a number of other mechanical issues could be causing the overheating:

  • incorrect coolant to water ratio
  • a malfunctioning thermostat
  • a broken radiator or radiator fan
  • a cracked or broken hoses
  • a bad water pump
  • a broken fan belt
  • a clogged radiator
  • extremely hot weather

If you find that your engine gets a little too hot a little too often or experience a major overheating episode, bring the vehicle into American Pride. We specialize in cooling system and engine repair and our ASE-certified technicians are well-versed in fixing the problems that lead an engine to overheat. Call or contact American Pride today to schedule an appointment.

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State Inspections for Our Community: Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg

Close your eyes and imagine being genuinely excited about your annual state vehicle inspection. Does that scenario seem unrealistic? Well, with American Pride Automotive’s State Inspections for Our Community Program, it’s a very real possibility!

Periodically, we choose a organization in the area with an admirable mission and donate a portion of all state inspection fees to their cause. Past beneficiaries include the Peninsula SPCA, March of Dimes, Heritage Humane Society and more.

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From September till the end of 2014, American Pride is proud to partner with Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg. $5 of every state inspection we perform will be donated directly to Hospice House, a one-of-a-kind fixture in our community that provides end-of-life care to terminal patients at no cost to families. By enhancing the patient’s quality of life and giving support to their caregivers, Hospice House offers an invaluable service.

Learn more about Hospice House and our State Inspections for the Community program here.

Getting your car inspected can feel like a hassle, but when you get the inspection done at American Pride, you can feel good about two things: 1) making sure your vehicle is safe and legal to drive, and 2) doing good for your neighbors. The best part? You don’t pay any more to have a vehicle inspected at American Pride than you would anywhere else–the money just goes to those who need it most.

If your registration expires soon, be sure to schedule a Virginia state inspection appointment. Our certified technicians are ready and waiting to get you on the road safely.

 

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Why Does My Car Shake When I Brake?

It starts out subtle, a slight “shimmy” of the steering wheel when coming to a stop. But as time goes on, that shimmy becomes a full on shake that makes you ask the question, “Is my car safe to drive?” The answer depends on a number of factors, but in general, it is best to take your vehicle to a certified mechanic at the first shimmy of the steering wheel. The cause is likely warped rotors that need resurfacing or replacement.

How Rotors Work

Front Brake Parts Disks and Pads

Brake rotors (also known as brake discs) are the mechanisms in the brake system that brake pads clamp onto to stop the wheels. As you may imagine, slowing down rapidly spinning wheels involves a great deal of heat that, over time, can disfigure the rotors. Imbalances caused by the disfiguration are then felt as an unsettling rumble in the steering wheel. Though the first instances of the shakes are not critical, they are your car’s way of telling you, “Hey! Bigger problems ahead!”

Consequences of Warped Rotors

Just as balance is important to the skeletal and other body systems, so is balance important to all vehicle systems–including the brake system. The imbalance caused by warped rotors can eventually wear out brake pads and other components as well as compromise the safety of anti-lock brakes (or cause the brakes to fail entirely).

Since brakes are so integral to keeping your family safe on the road, brake maintenance is one of the most important aspects of overall car care.  Regular service appointments with ASE certified technicians should keep your vehicle in the clear, but if you notice odd indications like a shaky steering wheel when braking, it is smart to get your car to the shop as soon as possible.

American Pride Automotive offers comprehensive brake system maintenance and brake repair including:

  • Brake pad relining and replacement
  • Repair of Antilock braking systems
  • Rotor machining (resurfacing), turning and replacement
  • Brake fluid exchange
  • Brake system flush
  • Drum resurfacing
  • Installation of brake system components

Call or contact any one of our three locations to schedule a brake repair/maintenance appointment. We look forward to talking with you and answering any questions you may have!

 

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Take $150 Off Timing Belt Kit and Installation in September

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At your vehicle’s last service appointment, did the auto technician recommend timing belt replacement? Did you decline it based on cost? Waiting to replace an old timing belt is a giant gamble and the life of your engine is at stake. If this is your situation, then September is your month! Every day this month, American Pride Automotive is offering $150 off the timing belt kit and installation.

When in good condition, the timing belt and its components prolong the life of the engine and keep it running smoothly.  In poor condition, the timing belt can contribute to catastrophic engine failure and sky-high repair costs. That’s why it’s vital that a car owner replaces the belt anywhere from 60 to 100,000 miles (according to the maintenance schedule in a vehicle’s owners manual). Unfortunately, many people put off this necessary maintenance service until the timing belt breaks and causes far bigger engine problems—the difference between a $500 repair and a several thousand dollar repair.

The timing belt and its components control the operation of the engine’s exhaust valves by keeping the crankshaft and camshaft operating in sync (hence: “timing” belt). The system, or “kit,” is made up of the belt, tensioners, idler pulleys, seals and, if applicable, the water pump. Learn more about the importance of the timing belt kit and how it works here.

timing belt component illustration

 

It is recommended that when replacing the belt, you also replace all components.  At American Pride, we are proud to install Gates timing belt kits, as they are first-in-class in quality and customer satisfaction. Gates provides an industry-leading warranty that covers not only the timing belt kit components, but your entire enginefor the duration of the vehicle’s manufacturer-recommended replacement interval.  Though not an inexpensive service, installing a new timing belt kit is an essential part of vehicle maintenance and far less costly than the alternative of full engine replacement.

Schedule an appointment during the month of September at any of the three American Pride locations to get $150 off your timing belt kit and installation. Your engine can’t afford to wait!

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Keep, Sell or Toss: Your Next Car Buying Decision

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There comes a time in every vehicle’s journey when its owner has to make a choice about whether to keep driving it, put it on the market or lay it to rest. There are a few situations that may prompt the need for such a decision. You may encounter the prospect of a major repair, experience a life event like the birth of a child that calls for a bigger vehicle, or simply want a change of pace. You may know that it is time for a different vehicle, but choosing what to do with the old one can be overwhelming. Let us help.

When (And When Not) to Keep Your Car

Remember that keeping a used car  is almost always cheaper than buying a new or “new” used car. That’s why it’s important to make the distinction between want and need, and to make absolutely certain that a purchase is in your budget. If nothing is particularly wrong with the vehicle and/or the added expense of a new vehicle will be a stretch, consider sticking with your current vehicle for a while longer. That being said, a car with critical mechanical problems or sky-high mileage may no longer be a keeper.

Some costly issues that may not be worth fixing include the need for engine or transmission replacement. But don’t jump to conclusions. Sometimes when people see the high price tag of such a repair, they forget that it pales in comparison to the price of a new car. What if you just want something new and different? It might be smart to sell your car to an interested buyer.

When to Sell Your Car

Like we said, putting a vehicle on the market is a smart choice for those who are simply ready for a change–especially if the car has retained significant worth over the course of ownership. There are several options for selling a car. You can put an ad in the paper or on Craigslist, auction it on a site like Ebay, or simply put it out front with a “For Sale” sign. Apart from putting the car on the market privately, also consider negotiating a trade-in at a local dealership (if possible) or let American Pride Automotive do the work for you. We buy all makes and models and are even willing to take a chance on vehicles in need of repair. Fill out our “Sell Us Your Car” form to inquire and schedule a free appraisal of your vehicle.

When to Toss Your Car

For very old cars with non-repairable problems or for vehicles in bad accidents (declared a total loss by the insurance company), the best option is sometimes to sell for parts and recoup what you can.  Visit the DMV website to learn about how to legally declare salvage vehicles in Virginia.

No matter what you decide to do with your current vehicle, American Pride Automotive can assist in any part of the process. We can diagnose and repair mechanical problems, buy an older used  car and even help you find the perfect new-to-you used car. Contact any of our three American Pride locations (Yorktown, Williamsburg or Toano) to learn more.

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Top 4 Qualities of a Great Auto Repair Shop

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If you are new to the Hampton Roads area or simply looking to entrust the care of your family’s vehicle to a different mechanic, the huge number of options out there can seem overwhelming. The reality is, however, that a high-quality auto mechanic is surprisingly hard to find these days. As you decide where to take your vehicle, take these 4 qualities of a great auto repair shop into consideration.

1. Displays Honesty and Integrity. The stereotype of the shyster auto mechanic is a familiar one. He nickels and dimes, charges for unnecessary repairs and does a less than thorough job (if he fixes the problem at all). The best way to avoid getting in with a character like this is to do your homework. Ask friends and family for reliable referrals and check every online review you can find for prospective candidates.

2. Employs Only Certified Technicians. Mechanics are not required by law to become certified by any of the major U.S. auto credential programs, but the repair shop you choose should require it. Certification helps ensure that the people working on your vehicle are performing at a professional standard. American Pride automotive technicians are all certified through the highly reputable National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

3. Invests in Continuing Education. Cars and trucks are getting more complex every day and the industry is constantly changing. It’s vital that you work with technicians who are up-to-speed in the latest automotive technology. At American Pride, we require (and pay) our service staff to undergo quarterly continuing education and training sessions.

4. Makes Good Communication a Priority. A quality mechanic is skilled at translating technical automotive jargon to something that a layperson can easily understand. They should always be able to clearly communicate the reason for a repair or maintenance procedure and make you feel at ease.

The team at American Pride makes a concerted effort to exceed these standards daily. We specialize in automotive repair, maintenance and certified Virginia state inspections. Click or call to schedule an appointment or stop into anyone of the three American Pride locations in Yorktown, Williamsburg and Toano.

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Is Your Car’s AC Blowing Hot Air? (Best of the Everything Auto Blog)

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Uh-oh. The air is blowing out of your car’s vents, but it is as hot as the air outside! What could be causing it? Take a second to read one of our most popular posts of all time and get some answers.

To solve any and all automotive air conditioning issues, call or contact American Pride. You can schedule an appointment at any of our 3 locations.

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Tune Up for What? Get $50 Off Your Tune-up in August

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When was your vehicle’s last engine tune-up? Don’t remember? You’re not alone. Thanks to better, more technologically advanced engine components, people these days tend to neglect the tune-up until they experience engine-related problems—often requiring costly repairs that could have been avoided with proper engine maintenance. Don’t let that happen to you. Take advantage of American Pride Automotive’s August car care special and get $50 off an engine tune-up.

Why Tune My Engine?

Just as a responsible musician tunes his piano regularly, so should a responsible car owner tune his engine. Sticking to your vehicle’s manufacturer-recommended maintenance intervals is the best way to maximize engine performance and efficiency, lower emissions and preserve the life of the whole vehicle.

What Does a Tune-Up Include?

The procedures included with a tune-up depend heavily on the length of time since last engine service, your vehicle’s age, and the number of miles driven. Common engine issues and problematic components include bad spark plugs, dirty fuel systems and filters, and malfunctioning sensors. American Pride’s ASE-certified technicians perform the following:

    • Identify symptoms of engine performance issues
    • Do a road test (before and after tune-up)
    • Visually inspect engine components
    • Analyze the engine based on the vehicle’s on-board computer system
    • Also includes spark plugs, fuel filter, coil boots, pcv valve and apply engine top end cleaner.

Our tune-up comes with a 24-month/24,000 mile nationwide warranty so you can guarantee that the work we do will keep your engine in good shape.

Don’t wait to give your engine the love and care it needs. August is the month to save $50 by scheduling a tune-up at any of the three American Pride Automotive locations, Yorktown: (757) 595-4100, Williamsburg: (757) 903-2473, or Toano (757) 250-3880.

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