Many Alexandria drivers have been hearing about new advances in power steering technology, specifically, electric power steering. Some very high-end cars have been featuring electric power steering for a few years. An electric motor directly provides the power assist to make steering easier. Undoubtedly we’ll see much more of this in Alexandria as full electric cars and electric hybrids become more common.
The vast majority of cars and trucks serviced at Hollin Hall Automotive in Alexandria use a hydraulic power boost system. With hydraulics, fluid is pressurized by a pump which actuates a hydraulic cylinder to reduce steering effort. Some of these pumps are powered by an electric motor. Most pumps are powered by the serpentine belt driven by the engine.
Power steering fluid has the necessary hydraulic properties and the ability to lubricate the internal parts. The power steering fluid also protects SUV components from rust and corrosion.
Alexandria car owners should be aware that manufacturers recommend that the fluid be replaced on schedule. At Hollin Hall Automotive, the old fluid is drained and the system cleaned thoroughly. Fresh fluid is then installed.
Unfortunately, many Alexandria people don’t realize how important it is to service their power steering, or even that it should be done at all. A neglected power steering system can develop leaks and the pump won’t last as long.
Signs that you may be having problems with your power steering include the need to constantly add power steering fluid, a loud whining from the pump, erratic power assist or high steering effort. If you’re experiencing any of these problems, have your power steering checked out at Hollin Hall Automotive in Alexandria.
In addition to the pump and hydraulic system, there are mechanical parts in the steering system. The rods, arms, joints and knuckles that actually turn the wheels can become worn or damaged. A standard alignment service includes an inspection of steering components.
If you notice any play in the steering wheel, that the steering wheel is off center, or a noise coming from your front wheels, especially when turning, have your Hollin Hall Automotive advisor do an inspection so the problem can be corrected. Waiting too long could cause uneven tire wear and may even lead to steering failure. Call Hollin Hall Automotive today at 703-765-3722.
Posted in the Alignment category
You may have an alignment problem if your car drifts or pulls to one side, your steering wheel’s off center, you have uneven tire wear or your car doesn’t feel like it handles right as you drive down our local Alexandria VA streets.
When all of a vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes, smacking a curb or other objects around Alexandria, VA are great ways to knock your car out of alignment. Then one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin.
Driving for an extended time when your car is out of alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly and excessively. Sometimes the tire can be worn so badly that it will fail.
At the very least, you’ll have to replace your tires sooner. You could end up with premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive. The front wheel alignment is adjustable on all vehicles, and the back wheels are also adjustable on some cars.
Now, let’s talk about some alignment basics. Wheels are adjustable for toe, caster and camber. The ideal alignment for your car was designed by its engineers.
So, what is involved in an alignment check at our Alexandria VA auto dealership? First, there’s an inspection of the steering and suspension to see if anything is bent or broken. Tire condition will also be evaluated.
From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and we take an initial alignment reading.
If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle’s centerline. If the back wheels aren’t adjustable, the direction they push is determined and the front wheels are aligned to match.
Like most things, your manufacturer has suggested a mileage interval for having your alignment checked. But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that’s given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive around the Washington D.C. area. It’s better to have your alignment checked before waiting to see if there is uneven tire tread wear – by then, the damage is done.
Getting your alignment checked when needed is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts. It also makes sure that your tire meets the road properly for maximum performance and safety.
Come see us at Hollin Hall Automotive for more information about your tire alignment. We look forward to seeing you.
Posted in the Alignment category
North Americans love their cars. And nothing goes with cars better than the road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it’s great! But there’s nothing like car trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.
Now you can’t always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip. The first step is to look at your trip plan from your vehicle’s perspective. What kind of roads will you be traveling – winding byways or super-highways? Mountains or plains? What weather conditions are you likely to encounter? How many miles will you travel? How much weight will you be hauling – passengers and luggage? Lugging a trailer or roof top carrier? Will it be dusty?
Armed with the answers to these questions, you can start a trip inspection to help you prepare your Alexandria vehicle for your big adventure. A lot of our Alexandria customers prefer to go through this exercise with an automotive service advisor at Hollin Hall Automotive to get their input and make sure they haven’t left anything out.
A great place to start is with the tires. Inspect them for tread wear and proper inflation. Is it time to rotate your tires? Replace them? Are they up to the job – you wouldn’t want to drive regular highway tires on a muddy off-road adventure.
Shocks and struts play a major role in both driving comfort and safety. If they need to be replaced, you’ll really be glad you did once you hit the road. Is it time for a wheel alignment? Fighting a car that’s pulling to one side all day can be tiring and dangerous.
And don’t forget your brakes. Any strange noises, grabbing, soft or hard peddle feel? If there is any doubt, get a brake inspection before you leave.
Moving under the hood, have your belts and hoses inspected. If something is excessively worn or near failure, the stress of a long road trip might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Your engine air filter will be important. For every gallon of gas you burn, your car will filter and use 12,000 gallons of air. If the filter needs to be changed, you’ll notice the fuel savings on your trip.
How close are you to your next oil change? Will you be able to complete your trip before it’s due? If not, just get it taken care of before you go so that you don’t need to interrupt your trip. In fact, a full service oil change is a great idea because they will top off all your fluids and check to see if any other maintenance items are due, such as transmission or cooling system service.
Do you notice any unusual odors in your vehicle? If so, it could as harmless as a dirty cabin air filter. But if it’s an exhaust leak it could be fatal on a long trip. Of course you’ll want to be comfortable, so get an air conditioning service if you aren’t getting the cold air you used to.
Are you wiper blades still working well? If not, that is quick and inexpensive to fix. Headlamps are often overlooked when planning for a trip. If you haven’t changed the bulb in six months or so, replacement bulbs will really light up the night on your trip.
All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all come into focus as you plan for your trip.
They will always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss the world’s largest ball of string, would you?
Posted in the Alignment category
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