Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Cooling System

Cooling System Servicing

Since we experience extreme temperature changes throughout the year, there are several things considered critical in your vehicle's maintenance. Since the engine is the heart of your vehicle and directly affects its operation, here is what you can do to ensure proper engine life and performance. A vehicle's cooling system should be serviced seasonally to prevent premature engine wear due to extreme climate or engine temperature. Have us perform a few basic preventive maintenance checks during your next routine servicing:

  • Check for external leaks: Usual areas of leakage are water manifolds, radiator seams, water pumps, freeze plugs and all hose connections. The condition of radiator hoses should be carefully scrutinized for possible deterioration from age and/or wear from rubbing against accessory brackets, etc. Be aware that in many cases radiator hoses wear from the inside out, so outside appearance can be deceiving.
  • Check for internal leaks: Pull the oil dipstick and check for evidence of coolant. It will show up as minute droplets or sludge and should be easy to spot. This could indicate a cracked head, block or blown head gasket.
  • Check the radiator: This is the one component in your vehicle's cooling system which can quickly diminish the efficiency and durability of the engine. Check for obstructed air flow and clean any debris from the fins. Also check the radiator mounting for loose bolts or cracked brackets from vibration and stress.
  • Check the Cooling fan: If the vehicle is equipped with a centrifugal thermo-static type fan clutch, it is important to spot problems before they occur. Check for wear by moving the fan blade back and forth. Over 1/4" of play in either direction could point towards excessive bearing wear. You should also turn the fan by hand. If it free-wheels or there is a rough grating feel as the fan turns, this could mean excessive fluid loss or bearing wear respectively. If any of these conditions exist or there is evidence of fluid leakage, the fan clutch should be replaced. If the vehicle is equipped with an electric cooling fan, a quick performance check can be bade by turning on the A/C and checking to make sure it operates without excess vibration or noise. Also check all electrical connections for signs of corrosion, or physical damage. With the engine hot, check to see if the fan is coming on at the correct temperature and operating properly.
  • Check the coolant level and conditions: Use an antifreeze tester to determine the protection range of the coolant. It should be at least adequate for the geographic area where you live. If the coolant is over 2-4 years old or has rust in it, system flushing and refilling with new antifreeze solution is recommended and will be sufficient for most climates. The 2-4 year replacement interval is necessary to maintain proper rust inhibitor and other additive protection in the cooling system.
  • Check the radiator cap: If your cap is rusted or the rubber seal is dried out, it should be replaced. A pressure tester should be used to be sure the cap is operating at the recommended pressure level.
  • Check the thermostat: Remove the radiator cap and start the engine. Insert a suitable thermometer into the radiator neck. When the coolant level drops in the radiator, the thermostat has opened and is allowing circulation. Record the temperature on the thermometer and compare to the thermostat specifications. It should be no more than a few degrees either way of the actual thermostat setting. If you are not in the correct range, the thermostat will have to be replaced. Be sure to install a new gasket and inspect the thermostat seating area for corrosion and pitting.
  • Check drive belts: Visually inspect all belts for glazing or deterioration. These conditions usually are caused by wear but can be accelerated by improper adjustment, engine fluid spillage, lubricant leakage or improper belt sizing. Check the vehicle manufacturer's specification listing for proper belt size, tension and/or deflection specifications.
  • Check heater operation: A quick functional testing of the heater unit can save a lot of mid-season grief. Visually inspect all hoses for deterioration from age and wear. Check the floor under the heater assembly for signs of coolant loss. This could point towards a leaking heater core. Also make sure to check the heater valve. Check vacuum lines for leakage or deterioration. Lubricate all control cables, such as the heater valve control cable, etc. Last but no least, check all function switches and blower motor switches for proper operation. Having basic cooling system checks made during routine servicing can prevent costly breakdowns and inefficient operation of equipment during extreme climate conditions. Preventive maintenance is the key to being able to drive your car longer while reducing long term expenses.

Have You Flushed Your Cooling System?

Your car runs fine with no sign of trouble, so why bother with it?
  • Here's why. The cost of overhauling an engine can run into thousands of dollars; automatic transmission repairs also are expensive and cooling system neglect could be responsible.
  • A cooling system performs several functions: (1) it must keep the engine running within specified temperatures, not too hot and not too cold; (2) it cools the automatic transmission and, lest we forget, (3) it circulates hot water through the heater.
  • Temperatures inside an engine may soar to 4,500 - 5,000 degrees F., enough to melt an engine block in a matter of minutes if it were not for the cooling system.
  • Over the years there have been numerous developments that make it harder for the cooling system to perform theses tasks. Today's engines run much hotter than in years gone by. Added emission control systems, smaller radiators and crowded engine compartments add to the challenge.
  • To avoid problems resulting from rust, dirt and mineral deposits in the cooling system, it's best to give it an internal cleaning every three to four years.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Find the Free Auto Repair Manual You Need Online

You can easily get a free auto repair manual for whichever repair need you might have. You need an internet access and have to follow a certain procedure searching for auto repair manuals, but when you have done this procedure a few times it will be very easy to find the right instructions for do it yourself auto repair and it won't cost you a dime.

There are four types of automotive description documents that you will need to choose from when you want to do a repair;

General Manuals
In addition to some general manuals, most of these are related to the make. Here you can get step by step guidance on how to repair most of the makes in the vehicle market. Let's say you have a Honda Acura 2002 model and you want to find a manual for that make and model. What you do is perform the following search in a search engine: "free car manuals+Honda Acura+2002". Then you will have a long list of sites that provide you with all kinds of descriptions for your Honda Acure 2002 model, and you can choose what you want.

Diagnosis descriptions
Automotive diagnosis manuals can also be sub-divided by make and model. But it can also be divided by the area of the vehicle that is affected, for example engine intake problems, brake problems, cooling problems, exhaust problems, start or stall problems, transmission problems etc. Let's say you have a start problem. Your search would be "car diagnosis manual+ start problem", then you should get more than enough repair information to choose from. You can even get diagnostic trees where all options are covered for nothing.

You have probably more than one time heard some annoying noise from somewhere in your vehicle, without finding the source of it. This is one of the most kinky situations to run into because you don't know if it is a serious signal or just a small thing. Some websites gives you the opportunity to diagnose vehicle problems by the noise, sound and vibrating signals - and that is great. The sooner you find it the sooner you can fix it and then you can relax. When you search, you can describe the sound, for example "whine noise" or "shifter knocks" or "driveline vibration" plus car diagnosis manual plus eventually the make.

Repair Manuals
In addition to regular manuals you can also get very instructive and detailed descriptions in other internet document or websites like articles, etc. The natural way to sub-divide such repairs before searching, is by the area of the vehicle that is going to be repaired, for instance body repair, exhaust repair, suspension fix, interior repair and even general car repair.

You do the search the same way as above; "car repair manual (or description) + the area of repair and go through the list of resources you get.

Maintenance manuals
Though vehicle maintenance is closely related to your vehicle make and model, there are some maintenance issues that are pretty much common whether you have a Cadillac, VW or a Mercedes, for example changing oil, changing air filters, engine wash, fluid maintenance, tier maintenance etc. You can get access to maintenance descriptions by searching for the kind of maintenance plus "car maintenance manual (or description)" plus eventually your make and model.

I think you'll be amazed of the amount of automotive repair free stuff online.

By Terje Ellingsen

Want a Chopper? Build Your Own!

By Michael Holmes

Motorcycle chopper kits are a growth industry. But what does that mean to you and me? Well one thing that we know is that we will have more choppers to ogle at. There is not a single day that goes by without more and more pictures of chopper bikes that have just been finished showing up in all the motorcycle magazines. Then at the weekends, when we are on our “hot” rides, we will see four or five show finish level bikes. There are more choppers around now than there have been in the last twenty five years.

Most of these choppers have been built from motorcycle chopper kits, the “bike in a box” approach. But hey, don’t knock it! Building your own chopper has never been easier. There are rolling chassis kits, complete bike kits, and frame manufacturers give you a multitude of choice when it comes to take the plunge and buy a motorcycle chopper kit.

Thirty years ago, the old school chopper builders had to start with a stock bike off-the-shelf and literally chop it to pieces. With the modern chopper kits, there is a viable alternative to taking the cutting torch to your favorite soft tail!

Nowadays, you have a cheap and easier way to build the bike from the ground up. When you take the cost of buying a new bike and the expense of chopping it, it works out much cheaper to start from step one, and your chopper kit. Instead of tossing away the parts that you'll never use again, you can start building your own bike with the parts that you really need. All the parts are included in the motorcycle chopper kit, along with comprehensive instructions.

One of the first questions that people ask when considering buying a kit is how will my bike stand outs from all the other chopper kits? Well think of it this way, you are going to buy a chopper kit. A pile of unassembled raw metal. No paint, no real finish, just a blank canvas. Is your taste in paint jobs likely to be the same as the next guy, who buys the very same kit? I don't think so. What about your taste in bolt-ons, seats, exhausts? Just because you buy the kit doesn’t mean every little thing has to be just so. That is the whole point isn’t it? It's very easy in this way to build your own custom chopper from a chopper kit.

Another big question is, “How long”? The answer to that is as long as it takes. Even on the kit bikes, which are supposed to be designed to fit together like a glove, you are going to run into some snags. It can’t be avoided!

If you want a more concrete guide, try this. An experienced kit builder (though not a professional) I spoke to reckons it took 10 full days to build his last chopper from a kit. For someone less experienced it could take a couple of days longer. Twelve 9 hour days works out at 108 hours. Over evenings and weekends, this could drag out to three or four weeks of living in a pile of motorcycle parts! So be prepared to literally live the experience if you are going to take the plunge.

What about the practical side? Well, there is no substitute for experience. The place to start building up your experience with the mechanical side of building to kit bike is with your current ride. Make sure all you can do the basic maintenance on your motorcycle, and then start to do some simple disassembling. Take off the tires, take off the exhaust, real basic stuff; all of this will help to build a new confidence in the shop side of things. You can also get some great videos on maintenance, and even on building the custom bike of your dreams. Read the books, watch the videos, and buy the t-shirt! Believe me, all the preparation you make will stand you in good stead.

If you really are hopeless at the mechanical side of things, why not pay someone else to help you build it, or even get them to build the whole thing for you? The cost of the kit plus labor could well work out cheaper than buying a chopper “off the shelf”.

And of course, when that beautiful chopper is standing on your driveway, and your friends are asking you “Was it worth it?” you can turn to the chopper, drag your hand across the flames on the tank and the polished chrome, turn back to them and say, “What do you think?”

Sunday, August 27, 2006

HUMMER in Iraq

Here such happens on war with American Hammer. One has got under bombardment in Iraq, here photos.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Alignment and 4 Wheel Alignment

"Alignment" Can be a scary word for motorists. The term, especially "Four Wheel Alignment" conjures up visions of inscrutable equipment and highly specialized automotive service. Even drivers who understand the term "tune-up" are often mystified by "alignment." And the new trend toward four wheel alignment can appear to be an expensive service for which the unwary motorist seems to be paying extra. Don't reject out of hand the terms "alignment" or "Four Wheel Alignment" the next time a service technician recommends it to you, alignment is an important service that your car really needs from time to time.

Alignment is recommended for today's cars and light trucks in at least four situations:

  • When you buy new tires. In fact, if your old tires wore unevenly, bad alignment could be the reason they had to be replaces, and the same thing could happen quickly to your brand-new tires!
  • When you have a rack & pinion steering unit or certain other steering parts in your car replaces, alignment is necessary.
  • When certain warning signs (see below) appear on your car, indicating that alignment is needed.
  • Or about every 2 years or 30,000 miles, whether warning signs appear or not.

Just what is an alignment
Basically, alignment is making sure the wheels are operating parallel with one another, and that the tires meet the road at the correct angle. Wheel alignment is much simpler that most people think. It is simply adjusting the relationship between the suspension and steering components, the wheels, and the frame of the vehicle. Everyday road shock and general wear and tear can knock some of these angles out of spec. When that happens, control of the vehicle may be threatened, and the tires may begin to wear unevenly and rapidly. The car needs to be realigned, to have all the proper angles restored.

Warning signs are easy to spot:
  • Unusual tire wear. Look closely at all four of your tires. If one or more of them demonstrate excessive wear on one side, or wear in a cupped, scalloped or diagonal stripe pattern at edges or across the tread, or uneven wear but with feathered edges on the treads, and alignment could be needed.
  • Unusual steering feel. If the steering feels stiffer than it used to, or if the wheel does not return to the center position when released, or if the car feels skittish and like it is riding "on tip-toes", your wheels may be out of alignment.
  • If the steering wheel is cocked to one side when the front wheels are pointing straight ahead, an alignment is almost certainly needed.
  • While driving, if the car wants to pull to one side, tends to wander or weave, or is subject to front end "shimmy", you should have the alignment checked immediately.
  • If your car wants to move "crab-like" on the road, with the rear end cocked off to one side while moving straight ahead, you're a top candidate for serious alignment.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


How to keep your brakes from letting you down

Think of your car's brake system as an extension of your body. If you push on the pedal and the car doesn't respond as you expect it to, you may be in trouble. When your brakes feel good you'll feel better about driving. There are no short cuts on brake work. Invest in the best service you can get.

Why Do You Need The Brake System Flushed?
There is an increasing awareness of the dangers of water and corrosion producing contaminates. Brake fluid contaminated by moisture lowers the boiling point of the fluid to the point that, even under ordinary conditions, your brakes could get hot enough to cause the brake fluid to boil causing vapor to form in the brake system. The vapor is compressible, causing a low or no brake pedal. Moisture gets into the fluid because conventional brake fluid is hygroscopic (it has a magnetic attraction for moisture, which it absorbs from the atmosphere). In your vehicle, moisture is absorbed through the brake master cylinder reservoir and permeable brake hoses. As a result of this, the moisture along the steel line, rubber hoses, cast iron, aluminum and brake fluid, temperatures can reach 400 to 500 degrees. This causes an electrochemical reaction that makes the brake fluid so acidic that it can result in early failure of brake components and putting you in danger. Brake fluid contamination has become so much a concern of the major car manufacturers, that they have added it to their required maintenance. Failure to change your vehicle's brake fluid can result in very costly repairs. If you have a vehicle with ABS-type brakes, component failure can run into the thousands.

Your brake fluid should be flushed every 30,000 miles or every 2 years. Just adding new fluid is not sufficient enough, the system needs to be properly flushed to rid the system from contaminants and moisture.

Brake Failure Symptoms:
  • Noises: Your brake system may be crying for help if you're hearing strange noises when you depress the brake. Two of the most common are squeaks or grinding.
  • Squeaks: Friction from the brake lining causes heat. Under extreme conditions this can damage the pads and/or lining, brake drums and rotors.
  • Grinding: A metallic grinding sound indicates your brake pads are worn through. Metal-to-metal contact will damage drums or rotors.
  • Low or Fading brake pedal: Do your brakes require pumping to stop the car? Does the pedal sink to the floor board when you're stopped at a light? There may be a leak in the brake system, air in the brake lines, or the need for a brake adjustment.
  • Pulling to on side or brake drag: Worn or uneven brake linings or a damaged brake line can cause your vehicle to pull to one side. Brakes that are out of adjustment or have contaminated fluid can cause brakes to drag.

Inspecting your Brakes:
  • Master Cylinder: The master cylinder, heart of the brake system, contains a reservoir for brake fluid. It is located on the firewall and should be checked periodically to ensure the proper fluid level.
  • Brake Lines: Attached to the master cylinder, steel brake tubing runs to all four wheels. Brake lines should be inspected for rust, which can lead to leaks. If the lines are damaged they should be replaced.
  • Brake Hoses: Rubber brake hoses run from the brake lines to the brake calipers and wheel cylinders. Constant exposure to road grime, dirt, salt and other elements can cause the rubber to become brittle and crack, leading to brake failure.
  • Linings and Pads: The pads and brake shoe linings should be checked per4iodically for uneven or excess wear, glazing, or saturation from brake fluid or grease.
  • Calipers and Wheel Cylinders: Brakes are activated by brake fluid pressure from the master cylinder pushing a piston located in the caliper or wheel cylinder against the pad or shoe. A leak can cause erratic braking or brake failure.
  • Bearings and Seals: Wheel bearings should be inspected and lubricated periodically. Worn wheel bearings, which can cause faulty steering as well as erratic braking, should be replaces.
  • Parking Brake: The parking brake should be adjusted periodically.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Oil Change Intervals

Most of us already know that regularly scheduled oil and filter changes are a vital part of routine car maintenance that is necessary for engine longevity.

During the miles between changes, the oil in your vehicle's engine gradually becomes contaminated with soot, metal particles, gasoline and other impurities. As mileage accumulates, so do the contaminants in the oil. Eventually, enough impurities accumulate that the filter cannot remove them and the oil cannot keep them in suspension.

When this happens, the resulting sludge can dramatically shorten engine life.

Even though modern technology has vastly improved engines and the oils that lubricate them, regularly scheduled oil and filter changes are still a vital part of regular, preventative auto maintenance. The question is: Just how often does the oil need to be changed?

At regular intervals
The old mantra of responsible motorists that said, "Change your oil every 3,000 miles!" is being replaced. Today car manufacturers' recommendations for oil changes range from 5,000 to 7,500, or even 10,000 miles for many cars when operated under "normal" driving conditions—more often if conditions are "severe."

Before you relax, let me point out that the way most of us drive is listed as severe by the automotive experts. According to the owner's manuals of many new cars and trucks, normal operation of a vehicle is at least 20 minutes, at a medium speed with a steady throttle, and in a clean environment.

According to one car maker's owner's manual, the oil change interval is seven months or 7,500 miles under normal driving conditions, three months or 3,000 miles under severe conditions. This is how severe is defined in the manual:

  • Repeated, short distance driving.
  • Extended periods of idling or low speed operation.
  • Extensive use of brakes.
  • More than 50 percent driving in heavy city traffic during hot weather above 90 degrees F.
  • Driving for a prolonged period of time in cold temperatures and/or extremely humid climates.
  • Driving in dusty conditions or sandy areas.
  • Driving in areas where salt or other corrosive materials are being used.
  • Driving on rough or muddy roads.
  • Driving in mountainous areas.
Well, it looks like the old mantra about oil changes isn't out of date after all. But what about synthetic oils, don't they extend oil change intervals?

Several car manufacturers do recommend synthetic oil for their high-performance models because of the superior protection from friction and extreme temperatures. The protection comes from the processing required to manufacture the base stock and the different additive packages they require.

Despite this better performance, synthetic additives wear out just as they do in conventional motor oils, and need to be changed. The key is driving conditions — normal or severe.

How about just changing the oil filter, can a car be driven farther between oil changes?
Changing the filter is great, but the oil must be changed along with it, given that the oil's additives wear out and contaminants get into the oil itself. The filter can only capture the bigger particles suspended in the oil, not replenish spent additives.

Pinching pennies
From an economic point of view, it would appear that waiting an extra few thousand miles between changes will save money. For example, based on $25 oil changes every 5,000 miles instead of 3,000 miles, more than $300 is saved per 100,000 miles. Sounds pretty good, but if you drive the average of 17,000 miles a year, it will take you almost six years to reach that mileage — or $50 per year savings.

Extending the oil change interval beyond what the manufacturer recommends can seriously shorten the useful life of your engine, and cost you several times that $300 savings. Just ask a professional service technician how often he or she changes the oil and filter on their personal vehicle. Chances are the answer will be 3,000 miles.

Bottom line: Don't push the limits of motor oil and flirt with damaging your car's engine, especially when chump change is all it takes for an oil change.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Repairing Car Damage

By Eyal Golan

The business of repairing car damage grows as the number of cars grows. This is because of the likelihood of accidents on the road. Thus, if you want a blue-collar job that earns you like a company executive, you may opt to develop yourself from a novice car repairer to a skilled car repairer.

Skilled car damage repairers earn almost four folds of what novice repairer gets. Statistics show that of the 223,000 automotive repairers in 2004, 10% of them, the skilled automotive repairers earn more than $28.45 per hour. This is about four times what the less skilled repairer’s get, which is about $9.42 per hour.

If we then compare it to the median per hour rate of company executives which is about $29.75 per hour, you probably pair enough in take-home money because being in the business of repairing car damage, you do not need to wear a suit and tie, and get stressed to much thinking of how you will run the business. You may also need to worry about the life of all the people in your company. You thus sport a stressful lifestyle, although from a distance, you may look far better than blue-collar workers. You may have the power to command as a company executive but you do not have the coziness of a blue-collar job. You may be more stressed as compared to skilled car damage repairers.

On the other hand, as a skilled car damage repairer, you go to work in noisy body shops with clatters of hammering and whining of power tools. You also will be dirty at the end of the day. You are also working in a condition where there is great possibility of being hurt while repairing car damages.

In addition to this, you will need to have at least 3 to 4 years of hands-on experience in all the paces of automotive repairing before you reach a receive a handsome pay.

Therefore, to ensure that later on, your business of repairing car damages will go up to the level where you will earn like those handsomely dressed company executives, it may help to have yourself certified by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence. Once you are certified as an ASE Master Collision Repair and Refinishing Technician, you may already command your price.

However, before you get this far in your business of car damage repairing, you may need continuing education on the modern and technically advanced quality of cars that manufacturers introduce to the market.

Formal training will help you develop your skills and attending seminars sponsored by automotive manufacturers will keep you at the top of your business.

It may also help to understand the government requirements and that of insurance companies so that you will be able to assist your clients well enough.

Your business might be slapped by the total loss assessment of insurance companies. However, this may be masked by the fact that you can buy these total loss cars, study their parts, and even use some of them for your future repairs. Understanding the requirements and the logic behind these requirements will be able to give you an edge in assisting your customers, whether to have their cars repaired or ask the insurance company for a total loss assessment. Being an authority in all the paces of owning a car may help you in your business as well.

Keeping pace with the modernity of today’s automotive industry will keep your business of repairing car damage such a lucrative business.

You may be dirty at the end of the day, but if you are able to provide for the needs of your family, I think repairing car damage is not such a bad idea.

Start by having formal education on automotive repairing and slowly go up to the being skilled in collision repair, straightening bend bodies, removing dents and replacing crumpled parts. Later on, you will be one of the most sought-after Master Collision Repair and Refinishing Technicians, and a booming business, as well.

Buying A Car - Tips On How To Maintain It

By Farnam Toussi

In this article we will look at some general service hints that apply to any car whether you buy it new or used. In most cases, these maintenance costs are not covered by your factory and extended warranty, but are important considerations in getting the best and most reliable service from your car.

The first consideration is where you take it for service. Many people simply take it back to the dealer where they bought it. The advantage there is that if they discover anything that needs fixing under the warranty, they will fix it for you when you take it in for service. But be aware that you pay a premium for dealer service in most things, and you can often cut the cost of that routine maintenance by 30% or more by using a good independent repair shop. And the independent shop may be a bit more observant in pointing out other problems with your car that you can have fixed under warranty back at the dealership.

Check with friends or business associates to see where thery get their car serviced. Many shops offer free shuttle transportation when you drop off or pick up your car. If you have a more exotic car, be sure they specialize in that kind of car. Since the cost of parts can often be more than the cost of labor, you should realize that OEM parts from a dealer usually cost 50% more than the same parts from a good after market supplier, when available. But your dealer always uses OEM factory parts. And items like tires, brakes, filters and rountine maintenance parts are inevitably a good bit more expensive from the dealership.

Once you decide where you want to have your car serviced, stick with them if they do a good job for you. There's no substitute for a good relationship with a repair shop when it comes time for major work or diagnostics. And many a shop will take a one time customer for a "ride", and take the easy route to fixing your problem rather than the most cost effective one. A little story...
I had a girlfirend once with an old Ford Mustang. Her turn signals were not working and she took it into the Ford dealership for repair. They wanted to charge her $220 to replace the whole turn sign mechanism and wiring harness, a big job as it involves dismantling the whole steering column. She couldn't afford it and came to me asking what she should do. I had a hunch and picked up a new blinker relay from the auto parts store for $3. I reached under the dash, popped out the old one and stuck the new one in there.

Presto... the problem was fixed. I was outraged that the dealer was going to charge her $220 when a simple $3 part fixed the problem. I went down there and complained bitterly and they refunded her diagnostic charges anyhow. In general, car repair shops are notorious for fixing things that don't need fixing, and not always because they are completely dishonest... but because it's faster than trying to figure out where the exact cause of the problem really lies. It's the old analogy of fixing a loose nail with a sledgehammer. So finding a good reliable service shop can save you a lot of money over the years.

I recommend you keep a log of your maintenance. It will help you do it regularly and that will prolong the life of your car. Abnd it also looks good when it comes time to sell the car. Here are some service issues that are critical and some hints that not everyone is aware of.

Oil Changes

The average new car recommends an oil change every 7500 miles. I like to change mine twice during that period. Motor oil is cheap and nothing wears an engine out faster than dirty motor oil. The simple process of combustion produces a lot of by-products, acid, carbon, and contaminations from the air. And that contaminates your motor oil pretty quickly. I change it at 4000 but not the oil filter, and then again at 7500 and change the oil filter at that time. I maintain the same schedule thru 7500, 15,000, 22,500, 30,000 and so on.
I use a high grade of motor oil... I have always liked Valvoline. But Quaker State, Pennzoil and other top brands are probably equally good. Stay away from the bargain brands. Quality lubrication is essential to your engine's longevity. In general you want it to look clear and green on the oil dipstick... when it starts getting dark, it's time to change it, and when it gets black it's way overdue.

The exception to this rule is that some synthetic oils which are black in appearance when new. And unlike foods, where "synthetic" is a dirty word, in motor oils, the synthetic variety offers better lubrication than the petroleum based "natural" oils and costs a good bit more as well. If you have an expensive car, it's probably well worth the extra cost for the higher quality motor oil. People who ignore things like routine oil changes because they are too busy are very foolish. Dirty motor oil wears out an engine very quickly and failure to keep it clean may very likely void your warranty.

Transmission oil is another item. Factory service often doesn't require it be changed more than every 30,000 miles. But depending on how and where you drive it can get dirty and worn a lot quicker than than that. In general you want the fluid to appear cherry red and have almost no smell when you pull the transmission oil dipstick. When it is reddish brown and has a burnt smell, then your transmission is suffering. Many cars do not allow an easy change of the transmission fluid. It is often necessary to drop the pan of transmission to drain it, and then that usually holds 3-4 quarts and does not change the majority of the fluid which is in the torque converter. Some cars like my Mercury Mountaineer, have a separate drain plug for the torque converter and allow a change of fluid to be relatively complete. But many others do not. My old Ford Explorer was that way. Changing the fluid by dropping the pan only changed 1/3 the tranmission fluid, so if I waited til it was brown and burnt, one change did not do it. I installed a drain plug in my transmission pan, and changed it 5 times running it a few miles after each change, until I figured I had diluted the old burnt fluid adequately enough. So keep an eye on that fluid and change it often.

Manual tranmissions don't use transmission fluid... they use a 90W gear oil which generally doesn't need to be changed very often. But keep your clutch adjusted properly with a little bit of freeplay at the top, and don't "ride the clutch". Be very careful about resting your foot on the clutch pedal as the weight of the foot can partially depress the pedal, and start to reach the edge of engagement, and this will wear out your clutch's throw-out bearing very quickly. Older cars all used carburettors to mix gas and air and squirt it into the engine for combustion. Newer cars mostly use fuel injection, and while this often works really well and controls emissions, you need to keep those fuel injectors clean. Your local auto parts shop sells a number of brands of fuel injector cleaner and I recommend addiing it to a full tank of gas at least with every oil change. It's a lot cheaper than having your fuel injection system overhauled. And change that air filter regularly or whenever it starts to appear dirty. Nothing slows performance more quickly and gunks up your carburettor or fuel injectors than a dirty air filter.

Tires, Brakes and Shock Aborbers

Other items like tires, brakes and shock aborbers are generally not covered by warranties... they are considered routine maintenance items. Choose your tires carefully... there are a wide range of tire grades, priced accordingly. Invariably those bargain prices you see advertised are junk tires and not worth your time unless you are just fixing the car up to sell. Many tires will offer long mileage warranties, but read the fine print... often that's "pro-rated" and applied to the "list" price of a new one, not the highly discounted price you bought them for. This is an old scam. Put 20,000 miles on those 50,000 mile tires and you may find the adjusted price of a new pair under warranty is higher than what you can buy them or a comparable set for outright. In general, always buy tires at least in pairs. Never put one new tire on one wheel when the other has considerable wear. Generally, it's best to put your new tires on the front to take advantage of better steering and handling with a new tire. But if your car is rear wheel drive, be aware that badly worn tires in the back will cause your car to skid and lose control quickly in wet or slippery conditions. If you rotate your tires regularly, say every 7500 or 10,000 miles at least, then your tires should all wear out around the same time and it's best to replace all four as a set.

When putting on new tires, you should have them balanced and the front end aligned. Bad alignment or balance will wear out new tires much more quickly and can severely impact the handling and ride quality. Often, balancing tries when they are new, does not mean they will still be in balance after 5-10,000 miles. I like to buy my tires from a tire dealer that offers free rotation and rebalancing for the life of the tire. I look for tires which handle well in wet conditions and avoid aquaplaning. Those are usually high end steel belted all-weather radials which also work pretty well in snow as well.

Remember you life and that of your family is riding on your tires. Invest in good quality tires... it's a sound investment. And one more thing, these new "low profile" tires that look so cool on these sport sedans. The low profile means a short sidewall, which means little give and flex there which, while it can contribute to better handling, also means a stiffer less comfortable ride, and more wear on your suspension, since the tires are not absorbing the road irregularities as well, leaving it all up to the more expensive suspension parts.

Shock absorbers are another important and often overlooked component. Worn shocks mean faster tire and suspension wear, particularly the ball joints in the front end. It's relatively easy to check a shock's performance. Push down swiftly on the fender of your car over each of the four wheels. New shocks should be pretty stiff and recover from a hard shove with only a single rebound. If the car bounces up and down several times above the wheel, the shocks are worn and should be replaced. These are not expensive and a good tire dealer can stick in a quality set like Monroe Shocks for little more than $100 for all four on many models of cars.

Also not covered by most warranties, the brakes should be checked regularly (whenever you rotate your tires and replaced when they get low. Driving with worn brakes (typically they squeal badly when you come to a stop) will quickly score your brake rotors or drums and make replacing them essential as well as brake pads or brake shoes. Front brakes usually wear out first, and again depending on how you drive, you can probably expect to replace them every 30,000 miles or so. A good brake shop will turn the rotors or drums, replace the pads or brake shoes, and rebuilt the calipers or wheel cylinders as needed. If you replace them often and the rotors/drums look good, sometimes you can get away with just a new pair of shoes or pads.

Also keep an eye on your brake fluid under the hood. As the brakes pads or shoes wear, the fluid level will drop. That is normal, and you will need to add a bit of brake fluid from time to time. Be casrely not to spill any on the car's paint as it is highly corrosive and will eat thru the paint in a matter of moments.

Car Paint and Interior

In order to preserve the value of your investement, you also want to maintain your car's finish and interior. Keep the car washed and clean. Be careful about automatic car washes. Many news ones do a fine job, but some of the older ones with stiff brushes can scratch your paint badly. If you can keep your car in a garage or under cover, do it. That old junk you have piled up in the garage while your $35,000 car sits out in weather is a poor investment decision. Remove bird droppings and tree

sap as quickly as you possibly can. I keep a plastic bottle with water and a soft rag in my trunk and wipe off bird droppings as soon as I notice them. The acid in there will eat into your paint very quickly and cause a blemish to that paint job. But blot don't rub. Bird droppings typically have sand in them and that can easily scratch your paint. You can remove tree sap and road tar with turpentine or paint thinner from your hardware store. It won't hurt the paint and will quickly dissolve the sap or tar. But is also removes car wax so use it sparingly, and if you do it often, treat your car to a fresh turtle wax a few times a year. A freshly waxed car will cause water to bead up in little round beads on the surface. When those beads start to disappear it's time for another coat of wax. Wax will protect your car's paint, keep it from becoming porous and weathered and making the removal of things like bird droppings and sap much easier.

Remember factory paints are baked on and are in general much more durable than repaints. So it pays to keep up that factory paint job. I like to use Armorall on the car's interior vinyl... it keeps it soft and pliable and prevents cracking and it looks sharp. I also highly recommend using some kind of a windshield protection screen in hot weather if you park out in the sun all day. It will keep the car's interior cooler and also protect the car's dash from cracking. And if your car has leather seats, treat them to a quality leather preservative on a regular basis. Nothing makes a car harder to sell than cracked worn leather seats.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Useful Tips For Checking And Changing Your Car’s Air Filter

By Ras Reed

Not only is air filter good for you in your room or office, its also ideal for your car. The lifespan of your beautiful car can be greatly enhanced with the right air filter. Your car’s air filter is very important since it keeps the engine of your car free of dirt which may reduce its efficiency. A wrong air filter or malfunctioning one that allows dirt into your car is detrimental to the wellbeing of your car. Hence, its highly recommended that you check the filter and change when necessary. Checking and changing your air filter is not as difficult as some people out there think. And you don’t need to call for your mechanic. You can do it yourself. It’s easy as 1, 2, 3.

When should you change your car’s air filters? You should change it once a year or after every 15,000 miles if you reside in an averagely dusty environment. But checking and changing it once in a while is more preferable. It’s not hard to check or replace the air filter. You can do it once you learn the how-to.

How do you check and replace it? You can do it by using a light from inside pointing outside and check how bright it looks through it. If you can see the light clearly, then your air filter is still in good working condition. But if you can’t see much of the light, that is an indication that the filter needs to be replaced.

Newer cars come with different air filters than the older ones. If your car is new, then its air filter is probably rectangular and can be found under the hood, near the radiator area or fender wells. Open it and remove the air filter from it and replace it with the new one. Make sure you close it up after replacing the filter.

But if your car is older, then the air filter will probably be of a big round shape which can be found near the engine area. You may find it screwed. Unscrew the cover, remove the air filter and put the new one instead while not forgetting to screw it back again. However, this demands your utmost attention in case there are any other attachment mechanism that may need to be removed as well.

However, if you can’t do all of that, it’s recommended that you call a professional mechanic to help you change it. This service does not require lots of money and you should therefore call the bluff of any mechanic that demands too much money. It’s also advisable that you stay with him when he’s changing the air filter as well as ensuring that a genuine air filter is actually used to replace the old one. There are many mechanics out there that will fix the wrong or fake air filter into your car. This ensures that you come back to them to have your car repaired. Be careful.

Simple Things You Can Do To Extend The Life Of Your Car

By Gregg Hall

As the price of a new automobile continues to get higher every year it is necessary to begin thinking of them in the long tem instead of trading as often as we used to. I know I intend to drive my 2005 Nissan Titan until the wheels fall off. I broke my own rule of not buying a new car because I was so enamored with looks and performance of the truck.

There are numerous things that you can do to make your car or truck last longer some cost money and some don't. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Never neglect the finish of your car. Wash your vehicle regularly and don't let things like bug splatter and road tar stay on your paint. These items can cause permanent pitting and scarring. If you live in an area that is near the coast or up north where they sort the roads you will need to wash more frequently to remove the salt that can cause rusting. You also want to keep a good protectant on your finish to help protect it. I recommend you look at a good PTFE based product. This is the same thing used on Teflon frying pans. In my opinion you don't want wax on your car. Wax is good for one thing, candles. It is made to melt under heat, I don't think I want that on my vehicle.

If you aren't driving your car keep it out of the elements by garaging it or parking it under some kind of covered parking. If you don't have access to something like this then buy a water repellant cover for it. I have seen many vehicles ruined just because they were left out in the sun everyday and it oxidized the paint. This will happen rapidly on darker colors and red is especially susceptible.

On the list of items that should just be common sense is regular maintenance. Having your oil changed, tune-ups, and things like belt replacements are all regular upkeep things that must be done if you want your car to last as long as possible. Regular maintenance will go a long way to prolonging the life of your vehicle.

It's easy to tell the vehicles that are owned by people who care about their vehicles because they will invariably look almost as good as they did when they were bought and in some cases my even look better.

The Best Way to Buy a Radar Detector

By Stefan Rockhaus

Are you looking for the best radar detector for your vehicle? There are certain things to get familiar with before you decide which radar detector is best and how you can buy it.

First of all, you have to find out if radar detectors are legally permitted in your area. It is important to know all the laws and rules regarding detectors. If radar detectors are illegal in your state then you may have to face certain fines or punishments. Consider visiting the website of your country’s department of motor vehicles, or any legal adviser, to familiarize yourself with all the applicable laws.

After that, you have to decide on your budget. There is a very big range of radar detectors available in the market. Prices start from around $60 and go up to approximately $500. Select the best one that you can afford.

Next, decide which type of radar detector you want to purchase. Radar detectors are available in three types: cordless detectors, corded detectors, and one which can be controlled by a remote. Corded radar detectors are fixed in your car’s windshield; cordless radar detectors are completely movable from one place to another, and remote controlled radar detectors can only be operated by their remotes.

Before buying a radar detector, you should know each and every feature of it. Some of these features are things like range, audio-video alerts, and alarms etc. However, it is not necessary that every radar detector must have all these features. You should also be aware of the names of all big brands that are available in the market.

Some other points to keep in mind are:
• The sensitivity of the detector should be at least 110 dB.
• Look for one with a display that you are able to see clearly, both at night as well as in bright sunlight.
• Also, see whether it has a mute feature along with volume control.
• Finally, select the best one which suits you and your budget.

Now that you have decided on your budget, and come to know which particular brand you want and all the basic features of it, you can start researching your radar detector. There are many ways to search for radar detectors. You can search on the internet where you can not only get information, but you can do comparisons with different brands also.

Next, decide where you will buy your radar detector; from an online store or from your local electronics shop. If you know how to install a detector, you can do it yourself, otherwise get it installed by an expert. To get the best results, always install your radar detector facing towards the windshield of your car.

You should always have the full information about the dealer from which you are purchasing your radar detector. Always ask for a warranty. Always call the person and talk to him/her personally while shopping online.

So after reading this article, you will not be left with any doubts regarding what points you should keep in mind while purchasing a radar detector. Since radar detectors are not only made for security purposes, but to be used in personal vehicles also, always keep in mind that if you are purchasing one for commercial use then you should check the legal information first.

Monday, August 14, 2006

How To Save Big Money On Your Car, Truck or SUV

By David Maillie

With the current price of gas at over $3 a gallon, the economy in a downturn, and no relief in site, we need to start conserving and saving everywhere we can. The car is a great place to start. Here are some tips from the National Institute on Highway Safety:

Don’t take unnecessary risks. You can get in an accident and get hurt and you can also get a ticket, fine or worse. Speeding greatly increases the odds of an accident. It also increases fuel consumption and can result in a ticket. A speeding ticket alone can cost over $200 in fines and court costs easily plus there is added insurance points and costs which can easily cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Basically, do not speed as it will cost more than you realize.

Scope out your local gas stations and find where the closest and cheapest gas is. It does no good to buy cheaper gas 30 miles away and burn half of it driving there and back. Use the internet as there are many websites that will actually help you find the lowest prices on gas and tell you exactly how far they are from you. It’s amazing the price difference in gas stations. In one mile from my house there are 2 gas stations and one is $.12 per gallon cheaper than the other. Twelve cents may not sound like much, but on a average 20 gallon fill up that will save you $2.40. With regular driving, that could result in a free tank every month or two.

Here’s a great way to save money on your car that most people still will not do, shop your car insurance. We see it on TV every day in ads from Geico and Progressive. By shopping your auto insurance you can save hundreds and even thousands in some cases. Its not because your current insurance company or agent is ripping you off, its mostly due to the fact that each company has different underwriters, qualifications, and standards. What may be a safe or low premium car for one company may not be for another. If you shop your car imsurance around, you will be amazed at what you find. You could save enough for a mortgage payment! Loyalty will end up costing you big, sorry insurance agents, but its true.

Be safe. Keep your car maintained. This includes everything from oil changes on time to following the manufacturers recommended maintenance plan for your car. Notice we said manufacturers and not dealers. Most car dealers are purely interested in generating service revenue and will recommend many unnecessary and expensive treatments and services over the life of your car. Want proof, compare he manufacturers recommendations with the dealers. You will always see a big difference. Just remember this, regardless what the dealer says, the manufacturer built your car, designed your car and backs your car. I would always take the manufacturers word over the dealers.

These are just a few great tips that will definitely save you big money on your car, truck or SUV.

11 Most Frequently Asked Questions on Converting Your Car to Biodiesel

1. OK, So what do I need to do to convert my car to biodiesel?

First and foremost, you need to have a diesel engine car. Biodiesel CAN NOT be used in a gasoline engine. Having said that, any engine that runs on #2 diesel can also be run on biodiesel. This means, home furnaces, generators, semi-trucks, farm equipment, fishing boats, etc. There is really nothing you need to do and nothing you need to convert. Just use it the same as any other fuel. “Conversion” becomes necessary when you want to run your diesel engine on Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO) For some pre-1994 model vehicles it is said that you need to replace your rubber hoses with synthetic ones. But truthfully, unless you have a leak, I wouldn't bother.

2. How much money will I save?

It really depends on you, and how you decide to make your own biodiesel. For example, if you are using waste vegetable oil from restaurants, (free feedstock) and buying other ingredients in bulk, your savings are going to be substantial. Say, around $2.00 or more per gallon.

3. Is it true that a gradually increasing the amount of biodiesel in my diesel fuel is the best way to start using biodiesel in my vehicle?

Not necessary. There is no mechanical reason that I know of to support this. Any blend of biodiesel, from 100% biodiesel (B100) to 100% diesel can be used in any diesel engine.

4. Should I replace my fuel filter before using biodiesel?

Not necessary. Biodiesel is a solvent and as such will also start cleaning your diesel engine and your fuel system. What it is going to clean is the sludge left behind from regular diesel fuel. Over time, this sludge can clog your filters. The truth is, biodiesel will keep your car's fuel system very, very, clean. The degreaser cleaning properties of biodiesel will clean the system of the accumulated diesel sludge/debris first. It might take weeks, months or years, who knows? Engines are funny. After a while, you may need to change your fuel filter, but you'll need to change them anyway as a normal maintenance procedure. If it clogs up, or you are having a problem (loss of power, smoking, coughing, trouble starting, etc.) and you suspect it could be related to the fuel filter, then by all means, switch it out, they are fairly cheap anyway. Simply change out the filter and chances are your problems will go away. It's not a bad idea to keep an extra fuel filter on hand anyway...just in case. The good news is, once your engine's fuel system has been cleaned, it will stay incredibly clean from then on.

5. I have heard that biodiesel will eat or degrade the rubber in my fuel system?

Biodiesel is a solvent and a degreaser (a good one) and as a solvent, yes, it will eat rubber over time. The truth is, petroleum diesel with a high sulfur content does this too, only slower. Biodiesel acts a lot like Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) that is now fast becoming the diesel standard. Also, since 1993, diesel engines and equipment have been reworked and redesigned, using synthetic rubber with ULSD in mind. The auto makers have been phasing out rubber from the fuel systems themselves. This is resulting in fewer fuel leaks for diesel and biodiesel users alike. If you have a pre-1994 vehicle with rubber fuel hoses and are experiencing leaking problems, then yes, you should replace them with ULSD compatible hoses.

6. If I switch to biodiesel and don't like it, are there any problems with switching back to diesel again?

No problems at all. You can switch back and forth as much as you like.

7. How are automobile makers, and specifically their warranties, responding to biodiesel usage?

It's kind of interesting to watch, truthfully. As the biodiesel industry gets older and wiser, more and more OEMs (Original engine Manufactures) are warming up to this idea and making positive statement about 100% biodiesel and this is reflected in their warranties. The truth is, it's kind of tough for them to argue the fact. The diesel engine, after all, was designed for this. Caterpillar, John Deere, and New Holland all accept and explicitly warrant B100 biodiesel in their engines. Others are taking a more "wait and see" attitude. They are warranting blends like B20, or B5 but stop short of wholeheartedly endorsing the idea. Other say they "neither oppose nor endorse" the use of bio-fuels.

This is where it gets interesting; Mercedes and Volkswagen both sell cars in Europe and the USA with diesel engines and there is no problem with warranty issues in Europe, but here in the good ol USA, they don't/won't support the use of biodiesel or the biodiesel industry. So bottom line? One, check your warranty. Two, if a OEM wants to deny a warranty based on biodiesel use, they can. But legally, they have to show a compelling reason that biodiesel hurt the engine. Which would be very hard to do. This is a very good reason to use ASTM (Commercial biodiesel) fuels, especially in newer cars or trucks.

8. What is biodiesel made from, besides vegetable oil?

Because modern diesel engines have been modified to meet diesel #2 viscosity standards, straight vegetable oil like the kind Rudolf Diesel used in 1912, is much thicker. This is the thing which kept biodiesel out of the energy/fuel playing field for so long. What has happened recently is a process called "transesterification." This process is used to thin the vegetable oil and remove the glycerol molecule from the vegetable oil and replaces it with methyl alcohol , or methanol. In order to do this, the methanol is mixed with sodium or potassium hydroxide (Lye) before being mixed with the vegetable oil. This is the basic process. Commercial production requires more ingredients and more refining processes, but you get the picture.

9. Should I worry about residual methanol, lye, or glycerol?

For home-brewers, the possibility of residual ingredients or by-products in the brewed biodiesel is a compelling reason to "wash" then test the biodiesel. Biodiesel that is commercially sold, is regulated and made to the ASTM standard, does not allow for residuals to be present. Therefore, you should have little worry with commercial biodiesel .

10. I'm thinking about converting my car/truck to run on straight vegetable oil (SVO) because it does not involve all the chemicals, and is cheaper. Why doesn't everyone just convert to SVO?

As we have said, just because the first diesel engines were designed to burn vegetable oil, a lot has changed in the engine world since 1912. Biodiesel fuel, to work efficiently in a modern diesel, we need to lower the viscosity (thickness) of the vegetable oil. we accomplish this through the biodiesel production process. It can also be accomplished by modifying the engine with a SVO Conversion kit. But additionally, there are other reasons not to use straight vegetable oil. One, it still contains glycerol which doesn't burn as cleanly as biodiesel and can leave deposits behind in the injection chambers. Two, SVO still needs to be de-watered, filtered and heated prior to introducing it into your tank. Also, filtering SVO can be very tedious to say the least, needing lots of time and energy, not to mention equipment and tools

11. Will biodiesel work in kerosene heaters and/or oil furnaces?

The short answer is...yes. Biodiesel is 100% compatible with diesel #2. There are no worries in that regard. One of the compelling reasons to buy a biodiesel kit in my opinion is to get rid of that financial albatross, called "heating oil" in colder climates. A biodiesel kit can pay for itself in a matter of months, one winter definitely. Kerosene, which is also known as diesel #1, or heating oil #1, is thinner than diesel #2. This, of course, requires a bit more experimentation, but generally, if a heater is designed for kerosene, then it will work with a biodiesel blend. (meaning a higher percentage of kerosene and a lower percentage of biodiesel).

By David Sieg

Saving Money With Gas Friendly Car Models

By Gabriel J. Adams

With gas prices averaging over three dollars a gallon, everyone in America is looking for ways to get more gas mileage out of their car. People are making sure they have enough air in their tires, changing their fuel filter, and watching their speed to try to conserve gas. However, there are many gas friendly car models on the market today, which could really put some money in your pocket.

The days are gone where the only gas friendly car models look like toy cars, or have no horsepower. Now you can get a sleek, sophisticated car, with quite a bit of horsepower, and great gas mileage. Many cars are available now like the Honda Accord, Honda Civic, Honda Insight, Lexus GS450H, Toyota Camry, and the Toyota Prius. These cars get anywhere from 25 miles per gallon in the city (Lexus GS450H) on the low end to 61 miles per gallon in the city (Honda Insight). The Insight also gets 68 miles per gallon on the highway, while the GS450H, gets 28 miles per gallon on the highway. Some of these cars have a fully integrated hybrid (gas & electric) engine, while others have a six cylinder engine that turns off three cylinders on the highway to conserve gas.

If you are looking for a sports utility vehicle, but you do not want to get a second mortgage on your house to pay for gas, then you are in luck, because many hybrids are hitting the market now. These include the Ford Escape, Lexus RX400H, Toyota Highlander, and Mercury Mariner. The gas mileage for these models ranges from 31 to 33 miles per gallon in the city, and 27 to 29 miles per gallon on the highway, with the Escape and Mariner getting higher gas mileages.

Not only will these gas friendly car models get more mileage for your gas dollars, the federal government is giving income tax breaks for buying gas friendly car models as well. Many different states are also giving sales tax breaks, parking fee exemptions, and state income tax breaks for purchasing gas friendly cars. Some major cities are also allowing hybrid cars the ability to drive in the high occupancy vehicle lane with only one passenger. The perks to owning a gas friendly car model are very lucrative, so what is stopping you from going out and buying one the next time you are looking for a new car?

Government Seized Auto Auction - 10 Crucial Tips To Buying At An Auction

By Travis Sago

You can buy a real dream vehicle at a government seized auto auction, but you can also purchase one huge nightmare of a lemon monster. These tips will steer you in the right direction.

1. Biggest tip: Get to the government auto auction early. You have got to pick out the cars you are interested in and inspect the cars thoroughly. If you don't want to have a sour lemony taste in your mouth later, run a vehicle history report! Have someone standing by that you can call on your cell and run a Carfax report.

2. Bring your Kelly Blue Book and do not pay over the blue book price, there will be folks that have no clue, they will run up the bid price because they have no idea what the auto is worth.

3. Find out what the buyers premium is for that particular government auto auction and remember to factor that into the equation, it is typically 5% to 10% of the winning bid. Most first time car auction buyers do not even know about the buyers premium.

4. Bring a vehicle inspection check off list with you. It is very easy to forget some crucial inspections. This is key, as you will be buying the seized auto AS IS!

5. Mismatched VIN tags, doors, trunk, hood, and dashboard should all match. Mismatched VIN tags usually means the vehicle has been wrecked or stolen.

6. If your vehicle history report shows that the auto has a rebuilt title, deduct 30%.

7. Check the odometer against your vehicle history report. An alternate method is to look at the brake pedals and see if the wear is congruent with the odometer. If the brake pedals look excessively worn compared to what the odometer reads, the odometer may have been tampered with.

8. Deduct for excessive mileage. The US Department of Transportation reports that the average car is driven 13,500 miles per year. Deduct roughly 15 cents per mile over that average.

9. Learn the government auto auction process, go to the auctions a few times and just observe and ask questions. This will prevent you from making costly mistakes on your first live auction.

10. Follow your gut! If a car, truck, or boat does not feel right, don't buy it. You will be right more times than not.

If you follow these 10 guidelines as well as performing a thorough vehicle inspection, you can get some real bargains at a government seized auto auction. Whether you are buying for yourself or to retail on the market remember to never fall in love with any one auto. There will always be another.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Expert Recommendations To Modify Your Stock Exhaust Tips On Your Car, Truck Or SUV

By Andrew Bernhardt

Choosing the perfect exhaust tip allows you to:
- Apply a personalized finishing-touch to your custom exhaust system
- Replace a drooping, blown-out, rusty mess of a factory tip
- Easily add some style and individual flare to your vehicle

So you buckled down and dropped some Benjamins on a ferocious new exhaust system. You spent most of your Saturday afternoon installing the beast while visions of massive power gains and throaty rumbles ran through your imagination. After all your hard work, you know better than to top off your system with a ho-hum, factory-style tip—or worse yet, reuse the original tip that you just cut off. That's like wearing your dirty socks after a shower! Instead, add the crowning-touch to your new exhaust system with one of the many exhaust tips available online. With our vast variety of styles to choose from, you're sure to find that one perfect tip to make your statement.

Replacing factory exhaust tips
Let's face it, most factory exhaust systems leave a lot to be desired. They're usually not designed for performance or tuned for a killer sound. Worse yet, they're often made from untreated mild steel that rusts out and eventually fails. Not to mention how mundane factory exhaust tips look—even when brand new. And nothing says "jalopy" like an old corroded exhaust tip hanging from under a vehicle. Whether you want to beat the rust demons to the punch or you need to replace a dragging tip that leaves a spectacular shower of sparks in your wake, a custom chrome exhaust tip will showcase your individual style and replace that weak factory pipe topper.

How do I know what size to choose?
To ensure that you order the correct size exhaust tip, 3 sizes must be known:

Inlet Size:
The inlet measurement on the exhaust tip must match the diameter of your

Outlet Size:
This is the size of the exhaust side of your tip. Some tips flare out, some are straight. If your vehicle's body has a cut-out for a stainless steel exhaust tip, make sure the new one will clear this area to avoid an unsightly fit, or even worse, burning or scorching your vehicle's body.

This measurement determines how far out your tip is going to extend. Just as with outlet size, you must consider the locations of any factory cut-outs. You also want to make sure that the hot exhaust gasses will be exiting safely.

How do I decide between stainless steel and chromed steel?
Both materials are great for building high-quality exhaust tips. If you're looking for economical style, go with the chromed steel. If you seek a long-lasting luster and a material that stands up to years of abuse, stainless steel is your answer.

Chromed Steel Is:
- Inexpensive
- Lighter than stainless steel
- Less tolerant to long-term abuse
- Prone to rust once the chrome layer is compromised

Stainless Steel Is:
- Polished, not plated
- Extremely resistant to corrosion
- Provides years of service and still gleams
- Costs more than chromed steel

Buying online is the way to go for tips. I found the perfect match for my Toyota Tacoma and ended up purchasing a magnaflow exhaust tip and still turn heads on the road! :)