Monday, January 29, 2007

Cleaning Tires for Appearance and Protection

SUMMARY: You invest a lot of time and energy in keeping your car looking good. You wash it, polish it, and wax it. If anything gets on your vehicle, you ensure that it's removed immediately. So, why let your tires.

You invest a lot of time and energy in keeping your car looking good. You wash it, polish it, and wax it. If anything gets on your vehicle, you ensure that it's removed immediately. So, why let your tires go? Maybe the days of shiny rims and hubcaps are gone, but you can still keep your tires looking fresh without a lot of hassle.

Why would you want to do this, you ask? (Or maybe your wife asks.) It's along the lines of creating a complete package. It's like wearing a brand new suit with scuffed shoes. Cleaning tires on a regular basis when you clean your tires has additional benefits other than simply making your car look good. It gives you a chance to keep an eye on your tires. After all, as the ad says, "a lot is riding on them." Should you get a bolt embedded in your tires or an excessive amount of gravel become ground in, you'll be able to address the problem before it becomes serious. Keeping a regular check on your tires can keep you from a dangerous situation when driving 70 miles per hour on the freeway during four-lane rush hour traffic.

A clean tire product can also add additional protection to your tires by protecting them from the elements. Think of it as a wax for your tires. Just as you protect your car's finish with a good wax, a cleaning tire product can keep your tires in better shape that they otherwise would be. To keep your tires looking fresh, use a product specifically designed for this purpose. These products will keep a shine on your tires longer than an ordinary cleaning product. Prior to using a tire shine product, consider cleaning tires with a specific tire sidewall-cleaning product. When combined, the products can create a classy looking, fresh off the lot look.

Prior to using a cleaning tire product designed to add shine and protection, give your tires a good clean. A high-powered sprayer can be used on the tires, wheel wells, and hubcaps to remove any built up dirt and grime. If necessary, a scrub brush can be used to remove mud build up. Look for a stiff-bristled brush made of plastic rather than metal. Even though tires are very rugged, there's no point in scratching them with a wire brush. A screwdriver or other such tool can be used to pry out pieces of gravel; however, for large debris that is deeply embedded, take the tire to a specialist to have it reviewed for punctures and repaired if necessary. Be sure to check the wheel well thoroughly as well. Embedded debris can stay put and leave room for the elements to enter and lead to rust.

When cleaning tires, be sure to follow the directions on the product label, as not all are used the same way. Most are available in the form of an aerosol can and are extremely easy to use . The result is a clean tire with an added shine. In general, most should be applied to the tires and then allowed to sit for 12 to 24 hours. After sitting for this time, use a soft terry cloth rag to wipe the tires, which will remove any excess product (you don't want it sprayed up onto your car's finish when you drive). Keep in mind that some products do not require that you wipe them later. Some cleaning tire products give tires a wet look shine, which can really add some pizzazz to your car's appearance. Your tires will have a brilliant wet shine look that can give your car the appearance of being much newer than it actually is.

In addition to properly caring for your cars tires, you can increase the life of your tires by choosing quality tires to begin with and having them rotated on a regular basis. Make sure you purchase the appropriate tires for your size of vehicle and that you use the right kind of tire during the winter and summer months. Your location will determine whether you need snow or rain tires. Ensure that the air pressure is maintained at the manufacturer's recommendation for the tire and your vehicle. When you have the proper tires for your vehicle and your needs, you'll have additional peace of mind. Then, of course, keep them clean with a cleaning tire product so that they'll keep that "new tire look" for as long as possible.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Radar Detectors: What Features Do You Need?

By Alexis Gibrault

SUMMARY: In the market for a new radar detector, but have no idea what all those product specifications are, and how they will help you? In this article, we'll discuss the most important mechanisms of the radar detector, as well as you give you easy definitions to make purchasing all the easier.

When you’ve decided to invest in a new radar detector, either for the daily commute or just day-to-day errands, buying a radar detector can seem a bit daunting. There’s a whole host of scientific breakthrough specs and technical industry jargon to weed through. Do you need a laser detector or a radar detector? What sort of bandwidth should you look for? Visual or audio alerts? Vg2 shielding mechanisms? Mounted or concealed? More than likely, you are just the average consumer, looking for an effective and reliable radar detecting unit to alert yourself to your own speed, as well as who and where you are being monitored for it. After having done a lot of research on the subject for my own interests, I have broken down all the tech specs and necessary features here, to save you the trouble of both unearthing unnecessary consumer headache, as well as buying the wrong radar detector for your individual travels.

· First off, there are basically three types of radar detectors as far as form is concerned: corded, cordless, and remote mount; each with its own set of pros vs. cons depending on your needs and lifestyle. The corded typically mounts to your windshield, and because of its location offers an aerial less-obstructed detection. Cordless is just that, and offers portable convenience. Lastly, the remote mount variety of radar detectors are mounted permanently to your vehicle, hidden from sight.

· What is the difference in laser vs. radar detection? Though radar detection has long been the chosen method of both drivers and traffic patrol, laser radar detection technology has been adopted by the latter. Police patrol will use laser radar for more accurate detection of closer-range vehicles, and standard radar detection for longer distance detection. Though it is more expensive to find a detection unit with both, it lessens your chance of being ill-prepared on the road. Moreover, you should only buy a laser radar model with 360 degree laser detection; otherwise you will only have the unit detecting in one direction, not from every angle of the vehicle, as is needed.

· City modes? They are basically, the blanket term for precise radar and laser detection in heavy radar frequency zones. The city mode will turn down the range of detection on your unit and perceive less interference or false alerts from external electrical mechanisms as well as other radar detectors in your immediate area. There’s much more of this technical buzz in the city…hence the term. So, if you live or drive in more metropolitan areas vs. rural ones, this would be a good choice for you.

· VG2, Spectre, and Invisible shielding technology. The VG2 alert is the basic technology that allows you to know when the police in your vehicle’s vicinity are using radar detector detectors or VG2 systems, to discern whether you are using a radar detector or not. Police officials adopted the Spectre system for detecting radar detectors on a broader and more precise playing field, and so the Spectre alert on your new radar detector will let you know when it is in fact being used. This allows you time to shut off your own radar detector, when alerted. The Invisible technology you may want to look for in a higher-end radar detector will be virtually undetectable to the above mentioned police-controlled devices, so you will never have to worry about shutting it down. All of these mechanisms are fairly new and will add expense to your radar detector, but again, it depends on how effective and reliable you need the radar detector to be.

· Bandwidths. Really, the only bandwidth you should have in your radar detector is the X bandwidth. Most frequencies operate on the X, and to incorporate any of the others (K, Ka, Ku), will just be asking for interference from unrelated mechanisms and external electrical stimuli. The result: less focus on what radar detection you should be picking up, such as police radar.

These are the basic necessary components in any reliable and accurate radar detector. You will find many more features available in these systems, but they are cosmetic in relation to the significant ones listed here. Start with these terms/tips for form and function, and then move on to whether you’d like luxury components such as voice alerts and enhanced LED displays.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Car Accidents

By Eric Sotuses

SUMMARY: It is something we hope we will never have, but the reality is at some point we will have a car accident. When we do, we just hope it is small, painless and quick.

It is something we hope we will never have, but the reality is at some point we will have a car accident. When we do, we just hope it is small, painless and quick.

Here are some tips when you get in a car accident. The first thing is to make sure everyone is OK. Remember they are just cars and it is just an accident. Don't let tempers flare. What could have been something very small, can now become a nightmare when tempers flare. If the other driver has bad temper after the car accident, always make sure you call the police right away and if need be, try to have someone there with you, even if you have to flag down another motorist, just don't step in front of their automobile to stop them.

If tempers are under control and everyone is OK, it still might be a good idea to call the police, even if it is just a little fender bender. If the other driver tells you they don't want the police involved because they don't want it on their insurance, just remind them that the police only will right a report and maybe issue a ticket. It is for both parties protecting in case something happen. They other driver can still pay for damages and the insurance company will never know. Personally I would call the police for any size accident. We got hit from behind and the lady was very nice about everything and felt bad for her. Well we never called the police and guess what, we never were paid for the damages and we had no proof, so we ended up paying for the car accident. So you can see why I am a little biased and would say call the police.

A couple of things you can do to protect yourself in a car accident. First always, and I mean always buckle up, even if your just going down the block. You never know what could happen. So remember always buckle up and if your in a car accident, you will have better odds of walking away. Second, get off the phone. I know I am bad also, but plain and simple we should all be off the phone. Think about it, we are driving a 2 ton vehicle, we should pay attention to what we're doing. Third, just remember what is around you and pay attention at all times. Try to reduce the number of distractions you have.

Live happy and drive safely and avoid all car accidents.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

How to Connect an iPod or Other Digital Music Player to Your Car Stereo

SUMMARY: Do you want to take your iPod or other digital music player with you in the car? Check out this article summarizing everything you need to know!

I recently "sold out" and bought myself an iPod. Here's a pro's guide to hooking it up to your head unit!

But first...

Unless you've been living in a cave for the past few years, you have heard of the iPod; Apple's wonderfully designed portable music player. The iPod allows you to carry the music of hundreds or thousands of CDs in a small box that fits easily in your pocket or bag. It is capable of much more, but the focus of this article is on the music. Because of the extreme portability of the iPod, many people want to bring it with them in the car. This is a problem because most cars don't offer iPod connectivity, with few exceptions. Fortunately, there are solutions for people who want to use their iPod in the car.

Direct connection:
Pros: Control iPod with stereo and remote controls, automatically charges iPod, perfect sound quality, easy to install, cheap
Cons: None that I know of!

This option is only available to owners of radios that support a direct connection to the iPod. Basically, all you need is a cable that connects to your iPod, then to the radio. Alpine is one brand I know that offers this feature. Some new vehicles also offer a direct connection to the iPod.

How to connect via an interface:
Pros: Control iPod with stereo and remote controls, automatically charges iPod, perfect sound quality
Cons: Expensive, more complicated to install

This option is available to owners of more up-to-date aftermarket radios and some newer factory radios.

Aftermarket radios:
You'll need a brand specific ipod interface. For example, if you have an Alpine head unit, you'll need to get an Alpine ipod interface. Usually, this interface is a small box that has an output to your radio, and an input that connects to to your ipod. Basically, you'll need to find an appropriate mounting location for the box. From there, find a good place to route the ipod cable. Some good locations are inside the glove box, or if you have a pocket in your dash, route it through there.

Factory radios:
You'll need a vehicle specific ipod interface. The one company I know of that manufactures these interfaces is Peripheral. Check out their website to see if your vehicle is supported. If yes, you're set! Hook up the interface similar to how you would above.

How to connect via a phono to RCA cable:
Pros: Excellent sound quality, easy installation, super cheap
Cons: Can't control ipod with stereo, ipod won't automatically charge

You will need a head unit that has an auxillary input for this to work. If your head unit does not have an aux in, you're probably better off looking for another alternative.

How to connect an iPod through FM modulation:
Pros: Very easy to setup and install, device is widely available, most devices charge the iPod
Cons: Not the cheapest, poorer sound quality, ipod can't be controlled by radio

This is the easiest way to hook up an iPod to your radio. Basically, your ipod connects to a device that broadcasts the music to a radio station frequency. Tune your radio to that frequency, and your music will play through the radio. There are a variety of products available that do this.

Other digital music solutions:
Kenwood makes a "music keg", which is basically a portable hard drive that interfaces with the Kenwood receiver. This is a great alternative to bringing an iPod with you in the car. Just load up the music keg, and your songs are good to go.

Alpine makes a digital music player. This device contains a hard drive that you can load up with your songs. It works very similarly to a CD changer in that it is controled by the head unit.

A brief word about other digital music players:
The iPod is not the only digital music player available. Creative Labs has the Zen, and Microsoft just released the Zune. There are many other devices available as well. If you have one of these other digital music players, you can still use some of these techniques to connect your player to your head unit.

Unfortunately, the iPod has been embraced much more than its competitors, so as far as I know, there are no interfacing options available for the other digital music players. You can still connect the device to your head unit through a mini phono to RCA cable. You can also find FM modulators that are not iPod specific which will allow you to connect to your head unit through the radio.

A brief word about digital music formats, compression, and sound quality:
So, back in the ice ages, like 10 years ago, a new digital format known as MP3 began to take the internet by storm. Basically, it allowed a full CD of music to take up minimum space on a person's hard drive. Before MP3, the main format available to most people was PCM (aka WAV). PCM is basically an exact replica of the information stored on CDs. Anyway, MP3 changed that. It was now possible to compress the music to a significantly smaller file size. In general, you could fit 10x the data in the same space. Where a typical WAV file of a song might take up 50 Mb, an MP3 file of the same song might take up 5 Mb, without a severe loss of sound quality. The songs could now be transferred very easily between people. This of course resulted in a whole lot of controversy...Remember the original Napster?

Yeah, yeah. Who cares?

Here's why it matters. In order to fit a lot of data in a small space, you have to take some stuff out. In other words, you lose sound quality. MP3 files allow for higher or lower amounts of compression, and usually this is expressed by bit rate. Basically, the higher the bit rate, the higher the sound quality.

Yeah, yeah. Who cares?

When playing music in the car, especially LOUD, sound quality matters a great deal. So, you'll want to be sure that when you play MP3s (or other digital music formats) in your vehicle, you use higher quality sound files. If you use poorly encoded music files, you'll definitely regret it!

Poorly encoded files tend to sound "tinny", or like they are being played through a can. Also, high frequency sounds such as cymbals and voice (especially when vocalists use words that contain the letter "S") sound "swishy". Bass tends to sound muddy and sloppy. When you play this stuff loud, it gets very annoying.

Anyway, if you plan to play digital music in your vehicle, be sure you are using high quality sound files. For MP3, the files should ALWAYS by 44.1 kHz. The bit rate should be at least 160, but preferably higher. I personally encode all of my files at 256.

Anyway, now you know about digital music in the vehicle!

By Alan Bayer

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Biodeisel Fuel As An Alternative Fuel Source

SUMMARY: Making biodiesel fuel from home using biodiesel kit is gaining popularity for motorists because it is readily available even online.

Biodiesel fuel as an alternative fuel source, is produced mainly from vegetable oils. Making biodiesel fuel from home using biodiesel kit is gaining popularity for motorists because it is readily available even online. To give a very brief idea how it is produced, the recycled vegetable oil goes through a biodiesel processor and within hours, you will have home made biodiesel fuel for your diesel engine vehicle. Biodiesel fuel is so flexible because it can be produced from pure vegetable oils, waste vegetable oils or byproducts from animal fats like lard and tallow. But the commercial preference is towards waste vegetable oil. Waste oil vegetable is the preferred choice of the majority because it is most economical and best source to recycle, to produce biodiesel fuel.

Biodiesel fuel is produced chemically by altering the vegetable oil through a "thinning" process. What this process does is it "thins" down or dilutes the oil to a level where it can be used in any diesel engine that is unmodified. And since it has passed all of the safety requirements set by the EPA, Biodiesel fuel can be used right away in almost every car without any special modifications. Compared to other alternative fuels which require special modifications to the car's engine, biodiesel does not need any specialized gadget. It can be used right away

In actual fact, biodiesel fuel is nothing new. It is old news. The recent revival is largely due to the surge in crude oil prices and motorists have been feeling the pinch in their pockets as they have to pay more for regular gasoline. The days of pre $30 or even pre $40 crude oil price may never materialize again because the demand for oil on a global scale is increasing each day, unlike 10 years ago. Currently, crude oil is trending at $60 level. Experts are predicting that oil well may dry up in the near future if no new oil wells are discovered. If this is the scenario, there will be an oil crisis. Whether this is propaganda or fact, gasoline at current price is still too expensive

The next logical solution is alternative energy fuel like ethanol E85 or biodiesel fuel. Besides being cheaper to regular gasoline, biodiesel fuel is a clean burning fuel and research has shown that it does reduce the carbon dioxide emissions significantly compared to gasoline vehicles. Biodiesel fuel is biodegradable non-toxic renewable, essentially free of sulfur and it environmentally friendly.

By Eric Tan

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mitsubishi Lancer Concept To Make Detroit Debut

By Matthew Keegan

SUMMARY: The Mitsubishi Lancer has been a strong seller for the Japanese automaker but the EVO concept now making the rounds of the auto shows is likely to fuel interest in the model even further. The fun begins with the 2007 NAIAS Auto Show in Detroit.

Mitsubishi has long been in the shadow of Japan’s larger automakers, but the company has managed to produce a few hit models over the years including the sporty Eclipse, the compact Lancer, the sexy Miata roadster, and the venerable rotary powered RX-8. At the moment, there is plenty of buzz over a concept vehicle that will debut at the January 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and it is a car based on the high performance version of the Lancer called the Lancer Evolution or Evo.

The Evo to be featured, according to the Kicking Tires website, is the company’s “Prototype X” model replete with multiple hood scoops and a lower road stance. At present, only a few sketches of the concept have been shown to the public, but a preview press day will likely bring actual photos of the concept to the general public.

While the standard Lancer has been a decent seller in its own right, the Lancer Evolution has caught the attention of tuners everywhere. The Prototype X, when it finally comes off of the assembly line within the next year or two, will likely do its part to raise Mitsubishi’s visibility one more notch. This is good news for a division that once could not get out of the shadow of the Chrysler Corporation, its original U.S. partner.

With the Evo, tuners are likely to find a car that will match or surpass their Accords and Rios in style as well as in substance. Just what Mitsubishi needs to help the brand get noticed!