“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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Tire Buying Tips for Everyone

If the tires on your car, truck or SUV have worn treads, cracked or blistered rubber, or just don’t seem to handle rain like they used to, it is very likely that you need new tires (remember the penny test). Most people have to replace tires ever 2 to 3 years, and making tire buying decisions isn’t always easy. There’s a lot to keep in mind when it comes to safety, long-term vehicle maintenance, and of course, affordability. We have 5 helpful tire buying tips for anyone who doesn’t know what to do next.

  1. No matter what anyone tells you, don’t buy used. Used tires, though far cheaper than new ones, are not good investments. In addition to the added labor costs of mounting and balancing pre-owned tires, you may be putting your family at risk by choosing tires with unknown pasts.
  2. Go with the manufacturer recommended tire. Most makes and models of vehicles can roll with a few tire grades. To learn what your manufacturer recommends, check the side of the driver door for a sticker with the information or consult the owners manual. It’s important that you choose a tire that is at least as highly rated as that recommendation.
  3. Go for reliability and long-range value (aka maybe not the cheapest option). No one wants to dole out top dollar for new tires, but you’d be wise to go for the middle-range, quality tire over the cheapest value option. Good tires are one of your most critical allies when it comes to efficient gas mileage and keeping your family safe on the road.
  4. Replace all four tires at once, lest you encounter uneven wear. If, at anytime (as in the case of a flat), you replace one or two tires before the rest, you may notice uneven tread patterns and even pulling to one side of the road when driving. This imbalance wreaks havoc on the suspension system. Even if one of the tires still has a few thousand miles on it, don’t take any chances. Replace all four at the same time.
  5. Drive with caution at first. New tires may make you feel like the king of the road, but hold your horses, friend! Brand new tires are also slick tires,  so it’s smart to drive carefully until you can break them in (the first few hundred miles). This is especially important in rain, sleet and snow when the roads are the slickest.

American Pride Automotive is here to help you with any of your automotive service and repair needs. With 3 locations in Williamsburg, Yorktown and Toano, we are a close, convenient and locally owned source of knowledge and service. Call or contact us today.

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Introducing Our New Community Star: NATASHA House

In the last part of 2014, American Pride Automotive set a high goal. Through the State Inspections for Our Community program, we aimed to raise $6,000 for Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg, an important organization in the area that provides free, high-quality end of life care and support for caregivers. Because of your generous participation and referrals,  knocked that goal out of the park and were able to donate $7,094 to Hospice House!

How does the State Inspections for Our Community program work? American Pride chooses an organization and we donate a portion of each state inspection fee to that organization. In the case of Hospice House, we donated $5 of every fee. This means that when you choose American Pride Automotive for your state inspection, you aren’t paying any more than you would anywhere else–but the expense is doing something great for the community.

As we enter 2015, we are thrilled to announce our new Community Star: NATASHA House!



Located in Yorktown, NATASHA House is “a safe place for women and children that allows them to rebuild productive, thriving lives as they transition to permanent housing. The letters in “NATASHA” stand for “New Alternative Toward A Secure Home Atmosphere.”

As this New Alternative, NATASHA House provides more than just shelter to displaced women and children. It also helps meet its patrons’ emotional, psychological and educational needs through special life skills programs, all of which are geared toward helping these women achieve thriving self-sufficiency.

Through February 28, a significant portion of each American Pride state inspection fee will benefit this true “community star.” Read more about NATASHA House and schedule a state inspection appointment today. If your vehicles aren’t due for inspection anytime soon, be sure to tell your friends about this opportunity to get a necessary auto service while doing a great deal of good.


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January Sales Special: $500 Off the Vehicle Purchase Price

Think of the people in your life who deserve the surprise of a new-to-them car or truck. Whether it’s your spouse, your favorite college student home on winter break or even a gift for yourself, American Pride can help you find and buy the perfect pre-owned vehicle. And it turns out that the beginning of the year is the perfect time to purchase a used car from our inventory because for the month of January, American Pride wants to take $500 off your purchase price!


used car coupon

Let our automotive professionals assist you in finding the best vehicle for your needs (get started now by checking out our used car inventory or using the Find My Car tool) and we will be happy to take an additional $500 off. Just print this coupon and present it to the American Pride sales consultant to take advantage of the special offer. Some restrictions may apply.

When shopping for a used car at American Pride, we recommend calling ahead to the  location that is most convenient to you so we can make sure that the car(s) you are interested in are on the right lot and ready for you! In the American Pride tradition, you can expect more out of your car buying experience when you shop with us. Call today to speak to a service consultant.


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January Only: Half Off Wiper Blades with an Oil Change

Love Your Windshield This Month with 1/2 Off Windshield Wiper Blade Replacement With Any Oil Change!

Wiper blade discount savings, 1/2 off with oil change

Start the year off with better vision and an oil change for your car.  Winter means tougher driving conditions, more rain (and possibly snow) and it’s the perfect time to take care of your vehicle.  An oil change helps protect the life of your engine and keep critical moving parts property lubricated.  That’s more important than ever with cold starts and shorter trips that may not allow the engine to reach full operating temperatures.

Plus, the rain, sleet, snow and even salt from the roads can all play havoc on your windshield and vision.  Unfortunately, we usually don’t realize our wiper blades need to be replaced until we’re in bad conditions.  Start the year off right with new windshield wipers and you won’t have to worry when the rain shows up!

Our January special is 1/2 off wiper blades with any oil change!  Schedule an appointment today at one of our three locations (Williamsburg, Newport News / Yorktown and Toano) and show your car, truck, van or SUV how much you love seeing clearly this winter.

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What Is Leaking From My Car?

Sometimes one of the first signs of a car trouble is a mysterious puddle of fluid under the vehicle on the driveway. The first instinct for many car owners is to assume an oil leak, but that may or may not be the case. In fact, there are several different kinds of common leaks, each  with its own auto repair implication (and some that don’t require repair at all!). Next time you notice fluid under the car, consult this post to get an idea of the possible cause. Then call American Pride Automotive for official vehicle diagnosis and repair.

What to Look For

You should be able to get an idea of the source of the leak based on the liquid’s color, location and consistency.

When you encounter a fluid leak, it’s likely that the surface (a concrete or gravel driveway, asphalt, etc) will obscure the color of said fluid. Since color is the most indicative aspect of fluids in a vehicle, you’ll want to put a light colored material under the car and check again the next day. Newspaper or white cardboard are ideal. Once you have the color profile, you can compare it to the following descriptions:

Black or Light Brown

Black or light brown fluid with a moderate consistency generally indicates an oil leak. The color may vary based on how long it’s been since your last oil change. A little drip of oil here or there isn’t critical, but if you notice significant puddles, get the vehicle into an ASE certified mechanic ASAP. It could indicate a bad gasket, improperly secured oil filter or oil plug, or another old/corroded part of the oil system. Ultimately, if a car loses too much oil, it will have adverse effects on the engine and vehicle as a whole.

Light to Dark Red/Reddish Brown

Thick fluid of varying shades of red is almost certainly transmission fluid.  You’ll find this leak under the middle-front  of the vehicle. You most likely have a loose pan or drain plug, cracked gasket or a corroded seal.   Because transmission fluid is such an essential component of keeping the transmission cool, lubricated and functional, it’s important to locate the source of the problem quickly. Neglecting to do so will can lead to transmission failure and a need for repair or replacement. Sidenote: Some power steering systems use transmission fluid as lubricant (while others use a dedicated fluid). If the leak is directly under the wheel and you are having trouble turning the steering wheel, you may have a power steering fluid leak.

Green, Yellow, Pink or Blue

Brightly colored leaks are almost always engine coolant. These indicate a problem with the cooling system and are often caused by a blown gasket, cracked radiator hoses and seals, or a broken engine block. Unless you have an older model vehicle (older cars blow off excess coolant when the engine gets especially hot…so in that case a “leak” might just be excess fluid), you should get the vehicle into a mechanic right away.

Clear or Yellowish

If you notice clear or yellow fluid of a moderate thickness near the wheels or under the brake pedal, you may have a dangerous brake fluid leak. Don’t try to drive your car if you suspect a brake fluid leak, as insufficient fluid can lead to brake failure.


Especially during summer when running a car’s AC frequently, you may notice consistent, clear, watery fluid that appears to be a leak. Don’t panic. This is almost certainly water–condensation from the air conditioner and does not signal a problem.

For quick info, consult this chart: 

what's leaking under my car

No matter the nature of your leak, the expert auto technicians at American Pride Automotive are here to help. We specialize in engine repair, cooling system service, brake repair and replacement, and transmission repair. Call or contact us today to schedule an appointment.


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State Inspections for Our Community: Almost to Our Goal!

APA_State_Inpections_Comm_Logo_Three Versions_V2Through our State Inspections for Our Community program, American Pride has devoted the past few months to supporting an amazing local organization, Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg with state inspection fee proceeds. Our “Community Star” through the end of 2014 (so close!), Hospice House provides end of life care to those with terminal illnesses in a “home-away-from-home” environment at no cost to the patients’ families and caregivers.

At the beginning of our partnership with Hospice House, we set a $6,000 donation goal, with $5 of every state inspection fee going straight to meeting this goal. As of December 2nd, thanks to our loyal customers and their referrals, we’ve raised $5,565. We are confident that by December 31st, we will have exceeded that $6,000 goal, but we’re not there yet!

When you choose American Pride for a state inspection, you aren’t paying more than you would anywhere else, but you are doing your part to help the local community and bring joy to others. Help us reach that $6,000 mark by bringing your vehicle into American Pride for inspection or by telling your friends and family about the program. Schedule an appointment today.  Again, thank you for your incredible support!


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December Only: $50 Off a Transmission Flush!



A car’s transmission is one of its most essential components. In an automatic vehicle, the transmission keeps the engine running in pace with the wheels with no need for the driver to change gears based on speed. Put simply, the transmission transfers motor energy to the wheels with the aid of lubricating transmission fluid. This is a big job, and over time, the fluid oxidizes and becomes dirty, gritty and ultimately harmful to the transmission system and engine. (Curious as to what color healthy transmission fluid should be? Check out our color chart!)


Since a working transmission is such an integral part of engine health and the condition of a vehicle overall, it is important to maintain it according to manufacturer specifications. One aspect of the recommended maintenance schedule is a transmission flush, in which we drain the transmission fluid, clean the whole system, and add fresh fluid and premium conditioners. In December, American Pride is excited to offer a $50 discount on transmission flushes to our great customers.


If it has been more than 30,000 miles since your last transmission flush, don’t wait until you start experiencing costly transmission problems to service your vehicle. Take advantage of this special offer this month by scheduling an appointment today and feel confident that your car is in great shape for the New Year.

 Expect More Than Transmission Service

Remember, flushing your transmission is only part of what we do here at American Pride. Our bigger goal is to lower your overall cost per mile of driving with well-planned, affordable maintenance. We approach all repairs with integrity and a core concern for the customer, their family and the vehicles they drive. With this in mind, American Pride backs up all repairs with a minimum of a 2 year, 24,000 mile guarantee.  This approach to vehicle service is all about encouraging our customers to expect more from us as a company and as people. This means “extra-mile” customer service and an enthusiastic commitment to improving the lives of our customers and the community.


We sincerely appreciate your business and referrals of friends, family and co-workers. It is your loyalty to American Pride that allows us to support the community we share. One of the ways we get involved is through our State Inspections for the Community Program. Through the end of the 2014, we are donating $5 of every state inspection to Hospice House and Support Care of Williamsburg. See what’s happening with Hospice House here.

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Get Your Car Ready for Winter

Does anyone remember the snow, sleet and ice brought to us by last year’s “polar vortex?” The forecast for winter 2015 doesn’t look too much different, and that means that car owners like you must prepare for the worst, especially if you plan to travel.


What should you do to get your vehicle ready for winter? It has everything to do with staying on top of routine maintenance and outfitting the car with appropriate cold weather gear where necessary.

Think About Cold Weather Battery Care

We can think of few things less pleasant than trying to start the car on a chilly winter morning and realizing that the battery is dead. Avoid this situation now by getting your battery tested and checking all connections for dirt and corrosion. Extreme temperatures are tough on vehicle batteries so you want to make sure that yours is in good condition from the get-go. Remember: Never try to jumpstart a frozen battery. How do you know if the battery is frozen? If temperatures have been in single digits for a number of days, if ice is forming around terminal connections, or if the vehicle won’t crank at all, there is a chance of that it is frozen. Attempting to jumpstart can result in a dangerous explosion. Instead, bring the battery inside for a a day or two to let it warm up and try again from there.

Make Sure All Lights and Signals are Functional

Though your vehicle’s dash light will likely alert you in the event of a fully burnt out bulb, it’s smart to check that all lights and signals are operating properly and to clean all headlights. Darker days and dangerous driving conditions mean that drivers must make every effort to maximize visibility. Another important tip to this end: replace old wiper blades.

Test the Heater and Defroster

It is uncomfortable and in some cases downright dangerous to have a malfunctioning car heater in the winter time. Reasons for a broken heater are generally related to the health of the cooling system and include low coolant, a plugged heater core, or a damaged thermostat. If the heat isn’t working, it is vital that you get your vehicle to a professional who specializes in engine repair, as it is often a signal of bigger engine problems.

Since it is a secondary function of a car’s AC system, issues with the defroster often come along with heater problems.  A windshield that won’t defrost is extremely unsafe.

Check Tire Tread

It seems like we mention this once a blog post, but proper tire maintenance is ESSENTIAL for safe winter driving. Tires that are thread bare will slip and slide on ice. Remember: if you do the “Penny Test” by placing a penny head down into several places on the tire tread and see Lincoln’s head…you need new tires.

Drive Smartly and Be Prepared

In addition to having an ice scraper or two on hand, we suggest that all families keep an emergency kit in the trunk that includes plenty of bottled water, non perishable food, a flashlight, extra medications, blankets, and flares.

When it comes to winter driving, one should always take care to accelerate and brake slowly and observe all posted speed limits (especially in inclement weather).

If you can, try to keep your gas tank at least half full when weather is below freezing. Failure to do so can cause the fuel lines to freeze.

Be mindful of exhaust. In the event of snow, be sure to keep your exhaust pipe free of snow, as a blocked pipe can filter carbon monoxide into the vehicle’s cabin.

Is your vehicle ready for winter and holiday road trips? Bring it into any of our 3 American Pride locations during the month of November and we will make sure it is with a free Travel Safe Checkup. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.



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November Special: FREE Travel Safe Checkup


November and December are two of the most heavily traveled months of the year. Between holiday visiting, students going back and forth between college and shopping, your vehicle goes through a lot this time of year.

This month, take advantage of our FREE Travel Safe Checkup — a preventative look at your car before you hit the road this season.  We’ll check your tire pressure and tread life, check all fluid levels, and look at, listen to and smell your engine for any obvious signs of issues or concerns.  If needed, we’ll even take a short test drive if we spot any concerns that need additional investigation.*

All for FREE.  There is no catch — we simply find this is a great way to introduce people to the service, quality and integrity found at American Pride Automotive.  Of course we hope you’ll consider us in the future when you need an auto repair, state inspection, oil change or even a new vehicle.

Call us today to find out the best time to get your free Travel Safe Checkup.  The checkup takes less than 30 minutes and you’ll have peace of mind when you and your loved ones travel this holiday season.


*Note, the Travel Safe Checkup is not a substitute for a full diagnostic check for identified issues.


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6 Habits of Responsible Car Owners

The child in a safety seat near to mother who sits on forward siAt American Pride Automotive, we believe that owning a well-maintained vehicle is more  than handling the technical stuff like regular service and repairs. It is also about encouraging smart driving practices. These 6 habits of responsible car owners go far for keeping your vehicle running smoothy and your family safe.

1. Pay Attention to Tire Condition

You should check your tires for wear once a month and before and after road trips. In addition to a basic visual inspection, try the penny test on each tire to ensure that the tread is deep enough. What’s the penny test,  you ask? Stick a penny in the tread of each tire with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see all of his head, it’s time to get new tires.

It is also important to examine each tire for nails or other punctures and to check tire pressure once a month when the tires are cold. Never drive on over inflated or under inflated tires.  Taking these steps will help ensure safe driving with no blow outs, flat tires or other avoidable issues.

2. Drive carefully.

Accelerating and braking slowly, going the speed limit, and using one’s turn signals contribute to keeping a vehicle in good condition by putting less stress on mechanical components and reducing the risk of accidents.

3. Avoid emotional driving.

Along the same lines, remember that driving when upset or tired is never a good idea. Pull over, ask someone else to drive, or just stay put until you feel 100%. Tired drivers tend to have slower response times and emotional drivers are apt to road rage and aggression. Both of these can cause traffic accidents.

4. Follow the recommended maintenance schedule for your vehicle.

Check the owner’s manual or the internet for the recommended service schedule for your make and model. Manufacturers generally specify certain mileage checkpoints for important service procedures that will keep your car running smoothly for the long term.

5. Always get the car checked by a professional before heading out on a long road trip.

We mentioned the need to examine tires before and after a long trip, but it’s also smart to give the whole vehicle a once over before hitting the road. Make sure all fluids are full, the battery charged, and the brakes aren’t worn down. It’s best to get a automotive service professional to do a road trip check because they are well-equipped to pinpoint hidden issues that might leave you stranded on the interstate. If you have any doubts about the condition of your vehicle, repair any possible problems or rent a car. (More on this next week)

6. Model good driving habits.

Driving safely and taking care of your vehicle is the best way to set your children on the path to responsible car ownership. If you refrain from distracted driving and service your vehicles regularly, your kids are likely to emulate you.

We at American Pride Automotive put your family first, just like you do. Let us be your automotive repair and service shop. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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