Friday, May 30, 2008

Do Your Brakes Squeal Like A Pig?

When you apply your brakes, do they squeal like a pig?

It's not the braking part of the pad that is making the noise.

The high-pitched sound you hear is the metal part of the brake pads that is vibrating.

After the pads get worn some they get loose, and vibrate.

You can have them changed, or change them yourself (yes, you can do it, I'll show you how sometime).

But, sometimes aftermarket pads are just not perfectly machined and will not fit the calipers snugly.

Sound silly? Think about how many times that rotor is going around, even at 30mph. The rotor is the round shiny disk that the brake pads rub against.

Ever hear a wood-pecker when he is hunting a bug in a tree?..............I can't even type that fast.

His quick and constant pecking sounds like a machine gun going off!

That's about how fast, or faster, that your metal plate is slapping against the metal on the caliper eiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!

The caliper is the metal coconut looking thing that the brake pads fit into and connect to the rotor when you apply the brakes.

Now, don't put any grease on the pad next to the rotor to keep it will be quite, but it won't STOP! ļ

Personally, I'm not much on *turning* rotors. That's when the machine takes metal off to make it smooth.

If the rotor is too warped you should have it refinished.

How will you know it is warped?

When you put your foot on the brake petal and apply pressure to slow down or stop, does the petal go *up and down* in a pulsating motion?

Yes? Then the rotors are out of round and should be turned. That, you can't do; unless you have a brake lathe!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Do You Have A Flat Spot?...On One Of Your Tires

Have you ever been driving on a smooth road, alone, and by yourself, and felt the vehicle shimmy, and shake, and heard a slight roaring noise?

Gremlins! They do that sometimes.

I had a l996 Pontiac Grand Am in here the one day that was doing just that!

The owner told me he thought it was a wheel bearing, or maybe a universal joint.

He said he had thought about fixing it himself but he just didn't have time.

It's a good thing. This was a front wheel drive.

A front wheel drive doesn't have a drive shaft, it has drive-axles.

Plus, he would have been shocked when he took the tire off. No-hub-like-a-normal-hub. :-)

There's a lot more to changing out a bearing in a fwd than it is in a rear-wheel drive (rwd).

I put the car on the lift and raised it.

I rotated the right front tire. No noise.

I went to the other side and rotated that tire. No noise.

I rotated the rear tires and there was no noise there either.

I shook each one of the rear tires side to side and top to bottom.

Neither had any slack.

The rear wheels have bearings the way most people are use to seeing on the front. Make sense? :-)

Then I rotated each tire and put my hand on the top of the tire as it was turning.

When I got to the driver-side front tire and put my hand on top, as it was rotating, I felt a *flat* spot.

He had told me that it was his wife's car, and that she was afraid it was going to come apart on her.

Either he get it fixed, or buy her another one.

He said that was why she *let* him bring it to the shop. :-)

I let him feel the flat-spot on the tire. He told me that the tires were still under warranty.

I saw his wife at church a few days later and she told me they had the tire replaced and that the noise and vibration both were gone.

I should have changed out the front bearing and the drive shaft...I could have made a lot of money. :-( (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you):-)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Woah! You Are Having A Flat!

Have you ever driven the highway at night and heard a "hissing" noise and then felt the steering wheel *shake*?

Then the whole car started to tremble?

Guess what?

You probable just had a blow-out, or at least you were having a flat tire--that's what happens when all the air goes out of a tire.

Do you know how to change a tire?

It's different on most cars.

And then there's that little *toy* tire somewhere in the back that you have to put on to get to where you are going (if it's not too far).

It all depends on the type of vehicle you are driving.

If it's a pickup truck, you're in luck. At least your spare will be either in the back of the truck, or, underneath the bed near the rear bumper.

That could be good, or it could not be good. It all depends on where you are and which tire went flat, the front, or the rear.

Anyway, let's assume you can get to it on a pickup.

Usually, the manufacturer has it fastened up to the bottom of the bed with a cable that has a crank or twist mechanism.

If you are in a passenger car, or van, or station wagon you will find the spare tire in the back, or in the trunk (where you store your luggage when you go visit your in-laws).

On my wife's Ford Taurus station wagon the spare is located in the back, on the left, behind a panel...the *toy* tire.

But, in the very back there is a flap you can pull up and get to the *real* tire if you have one.

Usually the jack is stored with the spare but sometimes, like hers, the jack is under the flap in the floor bed and the spare is stored in the side panel.

This brings up another situation.

Does your vehicle have *locking* wheel lug nuts?

Hers has them, and if you don't have the key (a special lug nut looking thing with a funny-looking end on it, you can't get that locking nut off.

Okay, we have the spare, the lug wrench, the jack, the locking lug nut tool.

All we have to do now is break the lug nuts loose, while the vehicle is still flat on the ground (no pun intended).

Take the lug wrench and place it onto one of the lug nuts and turn it to the *left* (I don't think there are anymore left-handed nuts around, unless you own a Chrysler product from the '60's). :-)

After you break all the nuts loose (you did use the little tool to loosen the lock nut, didn't you?) you can put the jack under the car to jack it up so the tire will roll free.

Now you can remove all the nuts and then the tire so you can put the spare on.

Where are you going to put the jack?

That depends on the vehicle.

Newer vehicles have a *rib* in the body, just under the body. That is the best place to put the jack.

Now, if you have a pickup, or an older vehicle that doesn't have that rib, you need to put the jack under the rear axle (if it's a rear flat), or under the lower control arm (where the shock is bolted to) if you have a flat on the front.

Jack the vehicle up just enough to replace the tire. The higher you go the more risk you take of the vehicle sliding off the jack.

I could have left that part out, uh?

But seriously, you do want to be very careful...several accidents have happened from a vehicle jacked up too high.

Of course the newer type jacks are more do have the scissor type jack, yes?

Get all the nuts off, remove the flat tire, put the spare onto the lugs, start all the nuts, and then run them up snug (with the wrench).

Now you can let the jack down, and put it back in the vehicle.

Go back to your tire.

Start with one of the nuts and put some, not a lot, pressure on it (turning it to the right).

Next, go across from it and tighten the next one (you want to tighten them in a criss-cross fashion, top, bottom, left, right, etc.).

After you have all of them tightened slightly, go back over them in the same (or close) manner and tighten them pretty good.

You don't have to *stand* on the jack, most vehicles only torque around 80-100 pounds per square inch. That is not a lot.

But, you don't want to over-tighten them as most places do with the 1/2 inch impact wrench.

Put everything back in the car and you can go on your way feeling self-sufficient.

You did do a good job though! :-)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Check The Brake Fluid

You can do some maintenance and minor repairs on your own vehicle.

To check the brake fluid level, raise the hood.

The master cylinder (mc) is located on the driver's side near the firewall, just under the windshield.

Most master cylinders have two small round caps that you can twist off. Some have one rectangular cap that either snaps on or has a metal bar that clips over the cap.

You can remove the metal clip by inserting a screwdriver under the clip and lifting up on the handle.

The plastic rectangular cap can be removed by popping it off with your thumbs.

Be very careful removing the caps.

It's best to take a paper towel and clean around the filler caps before removing.

Trash, dirt, or water can cause a lot of problems with your brake, lets be cleaning-freaks when we work on the brake system, especially the master cylinder.

If the brake fluid in the master cylinder with the small round caps is up to the ring at the base of the filler neck it is okay.

In the master cylinder with the one cap the level should be at least one-quarter inch from the top.

You don't want to fill the master cylinder too full, it needs room to expand when it gets hot.

Look at the fluid. What color is it?

Clean fluid will be clear with a slight shade of yellowish.

If the fluid is dark, or blackish, you may have rubber hoses deteriorating inside.

The front brakes have a rubber-like hose from the caliper to the metal line coming from the master cylinder...if you have rear disc, they have a rubber line also.

Over a period of time, and heat, these lines will deteriorate inside.

Disc brakes generate an excessive amount of heat.

If it's where you can, poke your finger into the master cylinder and rub the bottom.

Now then, look at the end of your finger.

What is that?

If you have black deposits on your finger you need to clean the master cylinder.

A note about anti-lock brakes (ABS), just clean the master cylinder with paper towels the best you can.

Be sure not to leave any paper particles inside, they could stop-up a line.

It is recommended that you change these two rubber lines, because they will only contaminate the master cylinder again.

When you remove the lines you will loose the fluid in the master cylinder: this would be the time to clean the master cylinder and flush the entire brake system.

Some master cylinders have two compartments: one for the front brakes (the largest) and one for the rear brakes (the smallest).

We will only consentrate on changing the front lines at this time.

Remove the lid, or caps, from the master cylinder.

Put a paper towel over the master cylinder to keep contaminates out.

You may want to raise the vehicle and remove the front tires.

If you do, be sure to block the rear tires, set the emergency brake, and put stands of some sort under the body of the vehicle just behind the front tires on front wheel drive vehicles.

On rear wheel drives you can put your stand under the lower control arm (where the shock is bolted).

You will need the proper tools to break the lines loose.

Please don't use adjustable wrenches or will ruin the shoulders on the nuts.

It's best to use a "line" wrench to break the nuts loose and then use the open-end wrench.

Don't get any brake fluid on the car body will peel the paint.

Once you have the old lines off and the new lines on, open the bleeder valves on the calipers and fill the master cylinder with the proper brake fluid, most use Dot3.

You may have to wait several minutes for the fluid to come through the lines and out the bleeders.

Once the fluid has started running through the bleeders you can close the one on the driver's side and then the one on the passenger side.

Check the fluid and add some if it is quite low--never let the master cylinder run out!

You will have air in the line and sometimes it's a bugger to get it all out.

After you check the level of the fluid, replace the covers, or caps.

Crank the engine and apply pressure on the brake pedal.

If the pedal feels spongy , you need to open the bleeder on the passenger side.

If you have help, let them press the brake pedal down slowly.

As they press the pedal, fluid will rush from the bleeder...tighten it.

Did you see any air bubbles coming out?

Try this two or three times, then go to the driver's side and bleed it in the same manner.

Be sure to inform your helper not to let the pedal up until you have the bleeder closed, otherwise, you will get more air in it.

Watch the fluid as it comes out, by standing away from it... it smarts the eyes when it gets into them, but fresh water will do the trick to get it out.

In face, water is all you need to get it off your hands.

Now, does the pedal go down about half-way to the floorboard and have a "solid" or "hard" feel to it? If it does, you're okay.

You can replace the wheels and go shopping, for more tools, because we will discuss radiators, heater cores, and hoses next time.

Oh, I'm sorry, all you wanted to do was 'check' the fluid in the Master Cylinder and make sure it was within a quarter inch from the top...oh, well, you got all this extra for the same nickle. :-)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Does Your Car Engine Backfire?

Does your vehicle engine run ok?

Or does it cut-out on you sometimes when your are going to visit your in-laws?

Does it *spit* and *sputter* and *backfire*, then start running ok, again?

Symptoms of this nature can be several things.

• You could have a sparkplug wire shorting out.

• You could have an electrical wire shorting out.

• You may have some water in the fuel tank.

Let’s take the most common of these three mentioned.

Over the years you cannot keep they fuel tank full at all times.

With a fuel tank half full, the upper part can cause condensation.

This condensation will slowly build up and run down into the bottom of the tank.

When you start to pass another vehicle you call upon the fuel pump to give me more gasoline.

The fuel pump starts working overtime and picks up more fuel, then the water goes into the line along with the gasoline.

The fuel filter catches this water and since water is heavier than gasoline, it drops to the bottom of the filter.

After awhile though, you come up behind me, and I’m not driving quite as fast as you would like to go, so you floorboard it and go around me.

What happens when you floorboard it?

Right, you are asking for more fuel.

With the filter partially full of condensation, water, some of it gets picked up into the fuel line and goes to the carburetor or injector.

“Chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug, Pow!”

Purr, purr, purr.

See what happens?

You can solve this problem, most of the time, by changing the fuel filter two or three times a year.

Now, if you have just filled up at the pump, and your car starts acting this way, you may have to take the fuel tank off and clean it out.

Or, pay someone else to do it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Your Life Depends On This Little Hose Being In Good Shape!

I won't go into details with this job, but I want you to think about it.

Your brakes are very important. Your life depends on them.

When you have to have brakes repaired on your favorite vehicle, don't skimp.

Sure, it looks like all you need is a set of pads, or shoes.

But, if the pads or shoes are wore out, what about the other parts?

I don't recommend having the rotors or drums turned.

I know, a lot of technicians will tell you that you will have better braking if you turn them.

On the small cars with the removable rotors on the front, I have had some turned, and then I had to buy the customer a new set of rotors and pads!

For some reason, the little rotors seem to eat the pads, after you have them turned.

They are not that expensive. Go ahead and replace them if they are not usable.

By that, I mean, if the pads were down to the metal plate and rubbing on the rotor.

Another thing to take into consideration is the rubber line coming from the caliper to the metal line that goes to the master cylinder.

If your vehicle is several years old, those lines are, too.

Those lines tend to deteriorate inside.

With the heat from the outside air, and from the engine, and the rotor when you apply your brakes, the fluid gets rather hot.

If you don't replace those two lines on the front you may have to replace a lot more parts.

The particles from the inside of the hoses will get into the master cylinder and the caliper.

The master cylinder can cause a major malfunction and not apply the brakes when you need them.

See the little child playing ball in the street?

If the particles get into the caliper, they can cause it to "stick" in the outward position.

That could happen, and I've seen it, when you apply your brake, and release them.

Only thing, the caliper doesn't release.

This causes the piston in the caliper to keep pressure on the pads against the rotor.

It will cause the vehicle to pull to one side upon braking.

It will burn the pads before their time.

It will probably overheat the rotor and cause it to crystallize, causing it to loose its braking power even if you put new pads on it.

It can also cause extreme heat through the system.

Causing the grease in the wheel bearing to melt and run off the bearings.

Then you have a wheel bearing to go out.

Is a $39 hose worth it?

Replace it the next time you have a major brake repair.

Have the master cylinder and brake lines flushed, and new brake fluid added every two or three years.

I don't want to lose a reader just because the brakes failed in a curve with a high-line pole in the way. :-)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Do You See Oil Spots On Your Carport?

Do you see oil spots on your carport?

Do you smell burned oil after you return from the grocery store?

Is there light blue smoke sneaking from underneath the hood?

There are several reasons for this.

Let’s talk about the most common.

There is a small round cylinder which is pushed into a rubber grommet on one of the rocker arm covers.

It has a rubber hose on it that goes to the intake manifold.

It’s called a PCV Valve.

It stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation.

Its purpose in life is to remove the excess pressure in the engine and send it through the intake where it can go out the exhaust.

If it gets stopped up it can’t perform its duties.

They do get stopped up quite often.

The excess pressure in the engine will push itself out at the weakest points: the rocker arm cover gaskets; the front oil seal; the rear oil seal, etc.

It is a good idea to change this valve at each tune-up or when you have the gaskets or seals replaced.

It doesn’t cost much, it’s easy to replace, and it can save you a lot of money.

Plus, you won’t have to clean your carport so much.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Do You Have A Serpentine Belt? What's That?

Do you have a serpentine belt that drives everything on the front of your engine?

A serpentine belt is the long belt with all the little *notches* on the underside.

It goes around the crankshaft pulley, the power steering pulley, the alternator pulley, the air conditioner pulley, and the water pump pulley.


It will probably have an idler and most definitely has a tensioner.

The tensioner does just what it says.

It is what keeps tension on the belt, to keep it tight.

You don't have to loosen any bolts and pry anything to tighten this belt!

It is a good idea to check this belt often.

It is also a good idea to change it after about two or three years.

After all, if it brakes, or slips and eats all the teeth off, you will be running on the battery.

• The alternator will not work.

• You won't have power steering.

• The air conditioner will stop cooling (if it’s winter time, who cares?).

But, worst of all, your water pump will stop working!

The engine will heat up so fast you won't know what's happening!

Check the belt often.

While you are checking the belt, how about taking a look at the pulleys?

Especially the idler and the tensioner pulley.

• The best way to check these pulleys is to remove the belt and rotate them with your finger.

• If you hear a *roaring* noise, replace it.

• If the pulley has a *roughness* about it as you turn it, replace it.

Ok, so you want to take the belt off and inspect it.

How do you get the thing off?

On the tensioner there is a hole, well, not really a hole, but a square hole.

It will either be a 3/8" or 1/2" slot.

Some have a bolt head from 1/2" to 3/4".

And then, there are exceptions: as you look at the tensioner you will be able to tell what YOU have.

Put the appropriate tool on the bolt head, or inside the slot, and pull up on the tool.

If that isn't the proper way, push down. :-)

Either way, you have to get the tensioner to move off the belt so you can take the belt off one of the pulleys.

I usually have better luck removing it from the alternator.

Either way, once you have it off one of the pulleys, you can release the tensioner and then the belt can be removed.

Pay VERY close attention, before you remove the belt, as to the way it is laced around all the pulleys.

It takes less than 5 minutes to remove this belt...but it can take 5 hours to get it back on correctly...make a drawing or study the diagram.

Some, and most, vehicles have a diagram of the belt directions placed somewhere under the hood.

May be on the bottom of the hood, or on one side of the vehicle inner fenders.

Usually it is in a place that makes it almost impossible for you to look at it as you are trying to replace the belt. :-)

If either of the pulleys have to be replaced it's no big deal.

Just remove the bolt, or bolts, holding them onto the engine.

Replace them the same way.

Now, on the tensioner, there is a little peg on the back side.

Align it with the hole in the's there so you can get the tensioner back on right.

Replace the belt, and that's it...nothin' to it!

Oh, was your diagram lable stuck on up-side-down? :-(

You did a good job, though; and I knew you could. :-)

Friday, May 16, 2008

What Are Tie-Rod Ends...Do I Need Them?

What are tie rod ends? Your life depends on them!

All vehicles, no matter what make or model have tie rod ends.

On vehicles with Rack and Pinion Steering there are only two, but on others, there are four.

The tie rod end attaches to the steering knuckle on each front wheel on Rack and Pinion Steering.

On non-R&P steering, there is one attached to the steering knuckle on each front wheel and one attached to the long bar that controls both wheels for steering, called a Tie Rod Drag Link.

This link is connected to the pitman arm coming from the steering gear-box and also connected to an idler arm for stability purposes.

The little tie rod ends on non R&P screw into a sleeve with both right-handed threads and left-handed threads.

When you have the toe-in set on your vehicle, the technician can loosen two bolts and nuts and twist this sleeve¡...this makes the tires go out or in.

It is very important to have these tie rod ends greased every time you have the oil and filter changed in the engine.

Why? Well, if you don't grease them then, when will you? :-)

The importance in greasing them is to keep them moving freely.

If they get dry they will wear out quickly.

If they wear out, they can come apart.

If they come apart, you won't be able to steer your vehicle. Not a good thing.

Now, grant you, on some of the newer vehicles the manufacturers decided to leave off the grease fittings.

These tie rods come pre-packed and will last a very long time.

But, you should have them 'checked ' at each oil change.

Some have a threaded hole for the grease fitting, but they have a small cap over them.

You can remove the cap and add a fitting so you can grease it.

Any time you replace a tie rod end, be sure to grease it, and the others if you can.

Take care of your vehicle so it will take care of you and your family!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Researching a Car That is Right For You

Researching your new vehicle is a daunting task in today's world. Once you have narrowed your next vehicle down to 2 or 3 choices it is time to research. Take out a sheet of paper for each vehicle and write down pros and cons for each one. Also on each sheet of paper list the attributes which are most important to you. This list might include:
MPG - if you put a lot of miles on your car this factor could make a big dent in your wallet if you pick the wrong car.

Engine power - HP is a big factor for many people out there.

Price - nothing needs to be said about this one.

Interior space

Repair costs - consider the average costs to repair a fender-bender.

Insurance costs - this is often overlooked by buyers and can catch you by surprise.

Standard options.

Anything else, which is a factor to you. The idea is to custom tailor your list to meet your needs. If you don't care about engine power then leave it off your list.

Now how do you get the information which is on your list? Here is a list of excellent resources to use in your search.

· Consumer Reports Magazine

· Auto Week magazine

· Your local newspaper's auto section

· Local dealers


· Consumer Reports - requires a subscription just like the magazine.


· Kelly Blue Book

· NADA guide book


After your research is done you should have a clear picture of which car is right for you. What do you say? Clear as mud? Well take a step back and if you have 2 vehicles which are comparable you will then have to resort to one of the following.

Go with your gut feeling. You know the one which says get the Porsche not the Yugo. Ask your wife, husband or SO. (you might want to let them in on the decision a little earlier than this if they will be driving the car too.) Flip a coin. Ask your god for some divine intervention?
Good luck!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Powder Coating 101: How Does It Work?

Everybody is talking about the process of powder coating automotive parts. Powder coating has grown in popularity over the past few years for a number of reasons. How many of us see powder coating being used on shows like “American Chopper” or “Overhaulin’”? The general public knows from watching these shows that powder coating is out there. But what is powder coating and how exactly is it done? Anybody know?

Preparation is imperative in achieving a quality finish. The item being coated must be completely bare of any paint, dirt, oil, or any other substance. To achieve this, sandblasting equipment is used. If it is not possible to use this equipment, it must be done with chemicals or by hand. The items are then baked to remove any moisture from the metal. After all materials have been stripped off, the item is treated with a degreasing solution to help prevent corrosion.

Powder coating is a process by which selected items are coated with a fine powder of ground resin and pigment, which is basically ground up paint particles that form a powder-like substance. The items being coated are placed on a rack, which grounds the items. A gun is used to spray the powder onto the items. A large oven is then used to heat and cure the coating. Temperatures used to cure the items typically are between 400 and 450 degrees. Heating the items makes the pigments melt, gel, and then cure to form a durable finish. The finished product is a uniform coating. Powder coating can be used on steel, zinc, and aluminum as well as other materials. The quality of the finished product has the ability to outlast and outperform painted parts. A variety of up to a few hundred different colors are available to choose from. It also exceeds paint in resisting acids, solvents, impact, and abrasions.

Powder coating can be used to coat items such as valve covers, wheels, bumpers, trim parts, engine parts, sway bars, coil springs, strut bars, and many items in between. There are many options as to who does the powder coating for you. There are companies in most metropolitan areas that either exclusively powder coat or companies that offer it along with their other services. Online companies also play into the equation with a number offering services as well. There are normally two systems for purchasing powder coated parts. For popular parts, companies may stock core parts available to be coated in a variety of colors. You order the part and ship yours back for a core. For more custom jobs, you must remove the part and ship it to the powder coater. Companies such as Eastwood also sell do-it-yourself kits. These kits start at $99 and you can use an electric oven or toaster oven to bake and cure the finish. An air compressor capable of a 5-10 PSI output is also required.

So the next time you hear about powder coating on TV or anywhere else, you will now have an idea of how that actual process is performed. Powder coating is superior to normal painting if you want a finish that holds up better and lasts longer. Check it out today!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Free Yourself From Car Clutter: Five Easy Ways To Keep Your Car Organized When Traveling

It’s a common sight: soda cans, gum wrappers, and snack bags strewn all over the floor; books, magazines, and carrying cases haphazardly placed on a seat; and miscellaneous papers and trinkets shoved into any nook and cranny available. What is this disorganized place? A college frat house, a mad scientist’s office? No. It’s the typical disorganized car--and it could easily belong to you or someone you know. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, the automobile is still the most common means of getting to your destination. In fact, for many people, their car has become their "home away from home," with extended car trips a part of daily life.

To avoid traveling in a perpetual mess, do a little pre-planning. Before your next road trip, take time to totally clear out your vehicle. Don’t forget about the glove box and side door compartments. By the time you’re done, you want your car totally empty--just like how you received it from the dealer. Now that you’re car is empty, it’s time to stock it and organize it for stress-free travel. Here are five easy tips to get you started and to keep your car organized when traveling:

1. Stock the glove box and side pockets with necessities. Contrary to popular use, your glove box is not a "catch-all compartment" or a trash can. It’s a place to store traveling essentials. For day-to-day use, simply keeping important car documents (like your insurance and registration cards), a pen or pencil, a pocket-sized notepad, and a small first-aid kit is sufficient. For travel purposes, you’ll want to beef that list up a bit. Include maps, directions, extra sunglasses, a camera and film, reading material for passengers, and a few small trash bags. Remember, the purpose of your glove box and side door compartments is to keep essentials at hand during a trip, so you don’t have to keep pulling over to open the trunk.

2. If you’re traveling with children, let each child pack a small backpack or travel bag. In it they should put things they can do on the road--a walkman and tapes, comic books, handheld video games, etc. Keep the bag near the child, either on the floor of the back seat or on the seat itself, so they can easily retrieve their items and put them away when done. A small bag of items takes up less room and produces less clutter than five or six individual items strewn in the back.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

How To Make Money With Used Cars!

One of the most important purchases consumers make is a car. The average consumer purchases another car every several years. With the High Cost of new cars millions of people are opting to purchase affordable used cars.

There is a Massive opportunity to earn an excellent income. Help fill this high demand for quality used cars at affordable prices. When starting out you should focus on cars under the $4,000 range.

Do some research and find out what the most popular best selling cars in your area are. By staying in the lower price ranges with these popular vehicles you will be in a higher demand market since more people can afford these vehicles than higher priced more expensive cars, this will make it much easer to sell quickly for a profit.

You make your money when you buy, this is an important key to your success. You will need to pay wholesale price or below less the cost of any needed repairs, and other expenses ie: detailing, newspaper ads, etc. Once you know the wholesale price, less repair costs and expenses, you will know how much you can pay for a car. If you buy it right you wll be able to sell it at a profit and still give the buyer a great deal.

One of the most important things you can do to purchase a used cars at bargain prices is to do your homework. You should check your local classified ads and see what the asking price is for the type of vehicle that you are in the market for.

Make sure to get the high and low Blue Book and wholesale prices on the vehicle that you are interested in. Here are some excellent sources for getting pricing:




Other resources to check with is CARFAX. They can supply you with the vehicle history report. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a research area to check recall history on cars. We recommend that you have the vehicle you are interested in purchasing be inspected by your own mechanic prior to purchase.

Newspaper Classified Ads are an excellent place to find cars at well below retail prices. Many of these people will be happy to sell their used cars for several hundred dollars more than what was quoted by the dealer and you will end up with an EXCELLENT BUY!

Online Auctions can be a great place to find bargains. You can shop right from the comfort of your own home. Look for auctions with no reserve, these auctions don’t have a minimum price before they will sell.

Public Car Auctions are open to the general public and do not require you to have a Dealer’s License. Public auctions can be an excellent place to purchase cars at wholesale prices. Some of these auctions are: Auction Repossessions of Credit Unions, Banks & Lending Institutions. Some public auctions also auction Police and Local Municipalities, City, State, & County vehicles.

Estate and Bankruptcy Auctions can be a very good place to purchase vehicles at wholesale prices. These auctions are usually advertised in newspaper classified section or handled by Probate Estate Auctioneers.

Government Auctions are an excellent source for bargin vehicles. They include vehicles from DEA drug raid seizures, FBI, IRS, U.S. Customs Auctions, Department of Defense, General Services Auctions, Resolution Trust Corporation, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Postal Services.

Rental Car Companies often sell their fleet of cars by auction. They can be a great source of cars. Contact these large companies and inquire.

Dealer Auctions can be one of the best sources to cars at below wholesale prices. Most of these auctions require that you have a dealer’s license. These auctions include lease cars, trade-ins, rentals, and fleet vehicles.

Stay away from used cars that need major mechanical repairs or body work. Look for good, dependable cars, if the pait is a little dull or the rug is dirty, you can detail, polish and wax the car and clean the carpet. Replace the floor mats if needed. By doing a few hours of work, you can make your car worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars more. By having a clean care, inside and out, you will attract more buyers that will be willing to pay you top dollar for your car.

When your car is ready to sell, you can place and ad in your local newspaper's classified section, or you can place your ad on the internet and reach a wider audience. CARS.COM and AUTOBYTEL.COM has a lot of traffic and is enexpensive. Selling cars through online auctions has also become very popular. It has become one of the easiest, fastest, and most cost effective methods to reach your target audience of hundreds and even thousands of people looking at your car. EBAYMOTORS.COM or AUCTIONYOURAUTOS.COM are both online auction sites.

Most states require that you have a Dealer's License when you buy and sell vehicles for profit. Check with your states Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Public Safety for more information on how to obtain a Dealer's License. It is important to consult with your attorney, insurance agent, accountant, and other government officials to determine what permits, licenses, records, insurance policies, etc., are required.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Top 9 Tips for Buying A Fuel-Efficient Car

Whether you buy a new or used vehicle, fuel efficiency--good gas mileage--is high on the list of most buyers' concerns. The difference between choosing a fuel-efficient car or one that guzzles gas, will either save or cost you money over the life of the vehicle, which could be substantial. Fuel efficiency varies widely from one car to the next. Obviously you can check the EPA rating for city/highway MPG on the window sticker, although most of us know the average car never reaches those numbers.

You can also check consumer guides, car magazines and Web sites, Web site forums or ask friends, relatives and co-workers which vehicles they recommend as fuel-efficient cars. Don't buy more car than you need, as larger vehicles generally have bigger engines that are less fuel-efficient. Find the most fuel-efficient car in the size group you're interested in, whether a two-seater, compact, mid-sized, SUV or pickup truck. There are several online sites where you can compare fuel consumption ratings of any car.

Your choice of transmission can also affect the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. Generally, a car with manual transmission is a more fuel-efficient car than one with automatic-assuming you shift properly. And a manual with overdrive, tachometer or shift indicator is the biggest fuel saver, saving up to 10% on fuel costs. If you do buy an automatic, which makes more sense for larger cars, the more gears the better.

Under normal driving conditions, smaller engines offer better fuel efficiency and economy than larger ones. All other things being equal, the larger engine and the more cylinders it has, the more fuel it consumes. Additionally, cars with smaller engines usually cost less and gas costs are lower because you don't need higher octane gas. That doesn't mean a bigger engine is never a good choice. In some cases, a larger, more powerful engine may provide the greater fuel efficiency. If you use your vehicle for work or often tow heavy loads, a smaller engine could burn more fuel if it has to work too hard and function beyond its most fuel-efficient range.

Depending on the type and size of motor vehicle you purchase, you may have the choice of front-wheel, rear-wheel, four-wheel or all-wheel drive. The majority of passenger cars and minivans have front-wheel drive, a design that supplies better traction and more interior room than rear-wheel drive. Although front-wheel drive was originally adopted to improve fuel economy over rear-wheel drive by reducing the weight and size of cars without giving up driving performance or interior space, there's really not much difference in fuel efficiency between the two.

And although four-wheel and all-wheel drive provide better traction and braking in certain driving conditions, the weight and friction of the additional drivetrain parts may increase fuel consumption by up to 10% over a two-wheel drive vehicle. Most often in SUVs and pickup trucks, four-wheel drive is enabled at will by the driver when additional traction is necessary. All-wheel drive is an option on some SUVs and a minority of passenger cars. Full-time all-wheel drive, however, makes for the least fuel-efficient car, because all four wheels are always being driven, drawing power from the engine and thus using more gas.

Another way to be a fuel saver, is by limiting the options you select for your car. You may not have realized that many conveniences from power windows, seats and mirrors to air conditioning and seat warmers decrease fuel efficiency and cost you more in fuel consumption. They add either weight, increase aerodynamic drag or pull extra power from the engine or through the alternator. Aluminium wheels are one of the few options that actually reduce weight and thereby increase fuel efficiency.

Obviously, considering other fuel options such as a hybrid electric car, is another choice for a fuel-efficient car.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Get Paid To Drive Your Car

You may have heard rumors that it's possible to get paid to drive your car, or in some cases, get a car to use for free. While participation is limited and luck is needed along with living in the right place for a particular campaign, it is possible to get paid to have your car (or a car given to you) turned into a moving advertisement. If you drive 800 miles or more a month along heavily populated routes in your normal driving habits, you may want to check out the companies that offer car wraps.

The concept is fairly simple. Advertising space on billboards along busy roads and highways is limited and in some places not allowed at all. It's possible, however, to reach many of those people another way. Companies advertise on the outside of cars to reach those same people. The problem is that purchasing an entire fleet of cars for an advertising campaign can be overly expensive, so a solution was developed.

Instead of purchasing their own cars, companies will sometimes "rent" space on individual private citizen's cars. In return for letting a company "wrap" your car with their advertisement, they will pay you a monthly fee. The fees can be as high as $400 a month for a full car wrap and lesser amounts for a partial car wrap or a window wrap.

Another option that some of these companies offer in place of car wraps is giving you a free car with advertisements already on it. You usually don't get paid in this deal or get to choose the type of car provided, but you do receive free use of the car for the period of the campaign. Your only costs are gas and insurance meaning that you are getting transportation at a fraction of the cost of owning your own car. There are some rare cases when you can get paid when receiving a free car. Some companies will pay you to drive the free cars along certain, specified routes each day.

So what is the catch? The main one is there are far more drivers wanting the positions than advertising campaigns available. If you don't drive a lot of miles or live in a highly populated area (large college campuses seem to be an ideal location) where the advertisement will be seen by a population the advertisers crave, your chances of being chosen are slim. Most companies require you to drive a minimum of 800 miles a month. Not driving enough miles can negate the contract and most companies utilize global positioning systems (GPS) in your car to track the miles and places you go each month.

Most programs require you to be 18 years of age, have a clean driving record and your own auto insurance. Traffic violations will in most cases prohibit you from being considered. Contracts vary in length and amount paid depending on the type of advertising in the campaign involved. Most companies don't let you pick the advertiser, but will let you bow out if the advertiser goes against your moral values (cigarettes, alcohol and sex).

With the concept there are a growing number of websites that don't actually offer the service of car wrapping, but claim to be a data base for advertisers to find people willing to advertise on their cars. Many offer free sign up, but then encourage you to purchase a "premium package" that is supposed to move your name higher up on the list. The fact is that you are very unlikely to be picked from these services so it isn't worth the time (and definitely not the money) signing up with them.

While the chances of being picked are slim, they are better than playing the lottery. If you meet the requirements and live in an area you believe would be desirable to advertisers, it could be worth the 15 to 30 minutes it takes to fill out the online forms. If you are lucky and do get picked, you will significantly reduce your driving expenses with little effort on your part.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

How Often Do You Change Oil?

When do you need to replace your lubricating oil? If you have a large quantity of lubricating oil to change, it is going to burn a hole in your pocket. So most plant operators try to preserve the properties of the lubricating oil for as long as possible.

One of the most important functions of lubricating oil is to reduce the friction between the moving parts of machinery. But there are other features to look at.

When do you know that the oil needs to be changed? Below is a rough guide:

1. Viscosity has changed by 10%
2. Flash Point has dropped to 150 degree Celsius
3. Water Content has reached 2%
4. TBN, or Total Base Number has reduced by 20%
5. Insoluble Content has increased to 5% of the oil

Due to the oxidation of the oil when exposed to heat and oxygen, the viscosity of the oil tend to reduce. With the reduction of viscosity, the film of oil between rubbing metal surfaces becomes more difficult to maintain. This results in metal to metal contact, micro seizures that leads to scuffing, abrasion and other damages.

In large diesel engines, fuel oil from dripping injectors or fuel pumps sometimes finds their way into the lubrication oil sump. This has the tendency to reduce the flash point of the lubricating oil. In addition to reducing the viscosity that is detrimental to lubrication, this contamination with fuel oil can be quite dangerous. If there is a hotspot in any of the rubbing parts, this can lead to a crankcase explosion.

Water can also find its way into the lubricating oil from leaks in the cooling water system o-rings or gaskets. In addition to reducing the lubricating properties of the oil, the presence of water in the oil can give rise to bacteria or fungal growth, which will quickly damage the oil properties as well as contributing to acid corrosion and oxidation of the oil, changing the chemical composition of the oil itself. However, if the water content is below 0.5%, it can still be removed by centrifugal purifiers.

The total base number is especially needed for the cylinder liner lubrication of engines that run on poor quality fuel with high sulphur content. The base additive is used to reduce the corrosive effects of the sulphuric acid fumes on the cylinder.

With large diesel engine installations, the lubricating oils are continuously filtered and purified to reduce the insoluble particles in the oil. Special strainers containing magnets are used to trap particles of carbon or iron particles. In large diesel engines, the carbon particles are byproducts of combustion while the iron particles comes from rubbing of gears, cams or other parts where wear down still occur.

The presence of these particles interferes with the lubrication of bearings, most of which contain soft white-metal coating. The particles can become embedded into the soft metal and cause abrasion of the metal parts.

The contents of this page are part of a page from my e-book "General Engineering Knowledge Notes" that will help candidates prepare for the Marine Certificate of Competency Examinations. This e-book is available for FREE downloading at

Until next time...

Make "hard-to-find" Tools "easy-to-find". You can only Produce YOUR BEST with THE BEST!" Earn praises for a job well done, only with the PROPER TOOLS! Locate Hard-to-Find Tools for your garage and workshop. Good for Cars, Trucks, Cycles, Boats, and Planes.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nine Top Tips to Maximize Your Fuel Efficiency and Save Money on Gas

With the escalating price of gas, buying a fuel-efficient car makes a lot of sense. Approximately 15% of new car buyers reject a model due to poor gas mileage. Nearly 40% of those consumers who eliminate a full-size SUV due to gas mileage ultimately purchase a midsize SUV instead, while nearly 20% purchase another model altogether. (J.D. Power and Associates, Sept. 2004.)

But even if you don't currently own a fuel-efficient car, there are lots of ways you can improve the fuel efficiency of your present vehicle until you're ready to purchase one of the best gas mileage cars. Your personal driving habits have a big effect on your fuel use and costs. You can better manage your vehicle operating costs as well as minimize the emissions it produces by driving less and more efficiently. Here are some tips to help. First, you need to know what kind of mileage you are getting. Calculate this by filling up your tank and recording the odometer reading-or you can reset your trip gauge to zero. Next time you get gas, fill the tank again and divide the miles you traveled between fill ups by the quantity of gas you bought on this fill-up. This is your car's miles per gallon or mpg. If it's pretty dismal, here's how to turn your fuel guzzler into a fuel saver: Drive slower: The aerodynamic drag on your car increases noticeably the faster you drive. The drag force at 70 mph is about double that at 50 mph, so keeping speed down can increase your mileage considerably. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds over 60 mph. Each 5 mph above 60 mph is like paying an additional $.10/gallon for gas. Observing the speed limit is also safer for everyone.

Maintain a constant speed: Every time you speed up, you use energy, some of which is wasted when you slow the car down again. By maintaining a constant speed, especially driving the posted speed limit, you will improve your fuel efficiency. Just by increasing your highway cruising speed from 62 mph to 74 mph you increase fuel consumption by about 20%! Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and will usually save gas.

Drive gently: Aggressive driving-speeding, rapid acceleration and hard braking-wastes gas. These bad habits can lower your gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and 5% in the city. In addition, reasonable driving is safer for you and others, so you may be saving more than gas money. Consider using overdrive gears on the highway, as this decreases engine speed, reducing fuel usage and engine wear.

Avoid Excess Idling: Idling gets 0 miles/gallon and wastes fuel and money, is hard on the engine and adds to toxic emissions. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than those with smaller engines. Turn off your engine if you think you will be stopped for more than 30 seconds. However, if you're driving a fuel-efficient car like a hybrid, your electric motor is on when you idle, so you're not wasting any gas at all! Minimize air conditioning: Using your air conditioner in hot weather can increase your fuel consumption by more than 20% in city driving. Whenever possible, close all windows and use the air vents to circulate air instead of air conditioning. You will improve your fuel efficiency in summer by minimizing the use of air conditioning and using your car's flow-through ventilation, especially on the highway. If you must use the air conditioning, set the controls to a level that lets the system cycle, and turn it off once the interior of car is cooled down enough. Also consider such options a sunroof and tinted glass to keep the car cool.

Keep Your Car in Shape: Maintaining your vehicle in top working condition saves you fuel and money, and reduces long-term maintenance costs while minimizing harmful emissions.

Keep Your Engine Properly Tuned-Getting regular tune-ups when your car is out of tune or has failed an emissions test may improve gas mileage by about 4%. If your car has a faulty oxygen sensor and you have it fixed, gas mileage could improve as much as 40%. Make sure the spark plugs, if you have them, are firing properly, replacing them when necessary. Have the engine timing checked for accuracy.

Check & Replace Air Filters Regularly-Replacing a clogged air filter could improve a car's gas mileage by as much as 10%. Additionally, it will protect your engine from impurities. Change this more often if you live in a dusty climate, drive on dirt or gravel roads or if you drive off-road for fun.

Keep Tires Properly Inflated-Your gas mileage can increase by about 3.3% if you keep tires inflated to their proper pressure. It takes more effort and gas for the engine to propel an underinflated tire than a correctly inflated one-which provide less road-resistance, thereby improving fuel efficiency. Beware over-inflation, though, which can lead to handling problems and uneven tire wear. Check tire pressure on a regular basis, looking for signs of uneven wear or embedded objects that can cause air leaks. In winter, check tire pressure if there is a sharp change in temperature, as cold weather decreases air pressure in the tires. Use the Recommended Grade of Motor Oil-Fuel efficiency can improve by 1-2% if you use the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. Also, if you change your own oil, look for motor oil rated as "Energy Conserving" to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.

Check Which Gas to Use-Choose the correct octane gas for your car by checking your owner's manual. It's not necessary to buy the "super" high-octane gas unless your car manufacturer recommends it or your engine knocks without it. While you won't do harm to the engine, you will be paying more than you need to, since premium (highest octane) gas sells for an average of 17 cents more per gallon than regular gas. Only about 6% of cars sold in the U.S. need premium gas, according to the AAA. Also, avoid topping off your gas tank, since in warmer weather, fuel expansion can cause an overflow and you'll be wasting precious fuel. You want to be a fuel saver-not a fuel waster!

Planning & Combining Trips: Combining errands to do together and in similar areas saves time and money. Several short trips starting from a cold engine can use twice as much fuel as a longer multi-purpose trip that covers the same distance when the engine is warmed up. With a little advance planning, you can avoid high traffic areas, road construction, retracing your route and ultimately reduce the distance you travel while running errands. You'll not only save on fuel, but also reduce wear and tear on your car. Commuting: If you can alternate your work hours to avoid rush hour, you'll spend less time sitting in traffic and burn up less fuel. For stop and go traffic, drive your best gas mileage car if you own more than one vehicle. Contemplate telecommuting (working from home) when your job permits. If you can, participate in carpools and ride-share programs. You can cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car if you take turns sharing driving with others.

Traveling: A roof rack or carrier affords additional cargo space and helps out when you have a smaller car. However, a loaded roof rack decreases fuel efficiency by 5%. Reduce the wind resistance and increase your fuel efficiency by putting objects inside the trunk when possible. Also, remove any unnecessary items, especially heavy ones, as an extra 100 lbs. in the trunk reduces a car's fuel efficiency by about 1 to 2%.