“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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Virginia State Inspections for the Good of the Community! March of Dimes

This week we had the honor of presenting the March of Dimes with a check in support of Team Emerson Grace. These funds were raised from American Pride Automotive’s State Inspections for our Community program where $5.00 from each inspection goes to local charities, this program is active at all of our locations.

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Thank You to all of our loyal customers who make this level of support possible! Be on the lookout for the announcement of our fall Community Star. Learn more about our State Inspections for Our Community program here. Call any of the three American Pride Automotive locations in Williamsburg, Toano or Yorktown to request a Virginia state inspection appointment.

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Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start

It’s never fun to get in the car on the way to work only to find that it won’t start. When multiple turns of the key in the ignition don’t solve the problem, you may not know what is causing it. Bottomline: You need your car to start. Here are some possible underlying causes.

Battery-Related Failures

When your vehicle won’t start, a dead battery is the most common culprit. If you have a battery-tester on hand, it will be say to see if this is your problem. If not, try jumpstarting the vehicle. If jumpstarting seems to solve the problem, at least temporarily, then you need a new battery. If those tests are inconclusive, check your battery connections for corrosion or debris. Sometimes dirty connections can disrupt the connection with the rest of the vehicle’s system.

Bad Ignition Coil

When an ignition coil is damaged or gets old, electricity from the battery no longer ignites the spark plugs and prevents…you guessed it, ignition. An auto mechanic will be able to check the ignition coil.

Clogged Fuel Filter

At American Pride, we like to emphasize the importance of planned preventative vehicle maintenance, like cleaning and replacing filters. The fuel filter is one that must be cleaned or replaced every two years. If you don’t, you may be stuck with a car that won’t start, as fuel will no longer reach the fuel pump.

Starter Issues

Who would have thought that problems with the starter might prevent the car from starting? When the starter motor goes bad, the engine can no longer turn its pistons and therefore can’t combust.

You can prevent most of the potential causes for a car that won’t start by being dedicated to routine maintenance by a trusted auto mechanic. Call American Pride for auto service that you can depend on. We have three convenient locations in Yorktown, Williamsburg and Toano to serve you.

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Should I Get a Second Opinion on An Auto Repair?

When a strange sound or an odd vibration in a vehicle means a repair with a high price tag, don’t take the first recommendation you get from a mechanic. Why not? Because newer cars are a lot like human bodies in that there can be multiple causes for a single issue depending on the make, model, year and condition of the vehicle.

If one auto service pro recommends a new radiator, for instance,  it is well worth your time to take the vehicle to another mechanic, as the source of the issue could be something as simple as a malfunctioning temperature sensor.

Another aspect of the second opinion principle applies primarily to older vehicles: Consider carefully whether a major repair or replacement is worth it based on the age and value of the car. A good auto professional will be honest with you on this front and help you consider various alternatives to spending big bucks on a repair that won’t increase the value of the vehicle. The general rule of thumb is this: If the repair costs more than the current appraised value of the car, don’t do the repair. It may be smart to invest in a quality used car instead. 

At American Pride, we encourage our customers to get second opinions on recommended vehicle repairs if they have any question in their minds about the usefulness of those repairs. We also frequently give second opinions to customers of other auto repair shops. Either way, the certified professionals at American Pride give are ready to give an honest answer and a fair quote.

If you’re facing a major repair and want a little extra assurance that it is the right choice, call American Pride and schedule an appointment at any of our three convenient locations (Toano, Williamsburg, or Yorktown).

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Get Your July State Inspection and Support March of Dimes!


Did you know that the average medical cost for a premature baby is $54,194? Comparatively the average medical cost for a healthy baby is $4,389.

Through the American Pride Automotive State Inspections for our Community program we are now raising funds for March of Dimes. While our efforts may be small compared to the need, it’s a start. Help us help this amazing non-profit by choosing to have your State Inspection performed at one of our three locations (Williamsburg, Yorktown or Toano) $5.00 from every inspection goes directly to MOD.

Visit our State Inspections for Our Community page to learn more!

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3 Most Common Causes of Transmission Problems

A vehicle’s transmission is one of its most important components. The transmission uses the power from the engine to guide the driveshaft and keep you moving. With proper maintenance according to the manufacturer’s specifications, a transmission should run smoothly for much of its life. In the event of transmission problems, however, it can be helpful to know the possible causes, as the cause has implications for the cost of the transmission repair.

Here are the three most common transmission issues: 

Note: Most of these only apply to automatic transmissions. 

1. At the top of all auto repair experts lists for causes of problematic transmissions is low transmission fluid. Usually caused by a leak somewhere in the system, low or contaminated fluid makes it nearly impossible for the transmission to automatically shift gears and run smoothly. The priority for vehicles with low fluid is to flush the transmission, locate and repair the leak, and replenish the system with fresh fluid. (Read now: “What Color Should My Transmission Fluid Be?”)

2. A clogged filter (often the result of dirty transmission fluid) can lead to sluggish shifting and transmission failure. Filter replacement usually fixes the problem.

3. The torque converter is responsible for pressurizing transmission fluid so that it can provide the energy necessary to shift transmission gears smoothly. It is also a common source of automatic transmission problems. According to Cars Direct, “One of the most common problems associated with the torque converter is worn or damaged needle bearings. If the needle bearings become worn, you will generally hear strange noises coming from the transmission while in driving gears….in a driving gear [the car] will make grinding or brushing sounds.”

Read Now: “Should You Replace Your Transmission or Your Car?

Don’t let the potential cost of transmission repair (or replacement) prevent you from bringing your car to a quality automotive service pro like American Pride. We have three convenient locations in Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Toano, and provide financing for repairs. Call or contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

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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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