Car Hacks (Vlog 19): Headphone Debacle

Today, Mike takes on an important topic, which is one that people are often confused about, and we are often confronted with–with his typical light-hearted fashion.

PS the thing that struck me while listening to this…earphones are for listening to music and headsets are for talking on the phone? Or is it the other way around? I don’t know.
PPSS On behalf of the Kicker Blog staff, we apologize for how Mike (and all New Yorkers) pronounce the word, “Oregon.” Please feel free to mock him in the comments below. (He loves that.)

Garage Floor Coatings

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Garage floors are unfortunately overlooked and ill-maintained. It is one of the few spots in your home (or mechanical garage) where problems are not noticed until they get out of hand. Check out your garage floor, and you will likely be surprised by how stained, dirty and perhaps even cracked it may be. Garages have a big job, including holding up against the weight of vehicles and recreational equipment. It is no easy task to hold the weight of your SUV, commuter car, barbeque and ATV year-round. Garage floors need some upkeep, and one of the quickest and most affordable solutions is with a garage floor coating.

There are some garage floor systems that can instantly transform your garage floor into a veritable work of art. You personalize the color, pattern and look of your garage floor based on your tastes and needs. Any garage can become a showroom that showcases your rides, all while increasing the strength and durability of this critical flooring. By utilizing epoxies that are solid and specifically engineered to be tough enough to stand up against anything you can throw at it (or drip on it), the value of your home or business automatically increases.

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Your Latest Car Accessory

Lab-engineered products like Elite Crete Systems products feature polyurethane and polyaspartic resins that are just as good looking as they are durable. Your imagination is the only limit when it comes to designing your new garage. Add in a logo, choose a wild design, keep it subtle and classy or make an enormous chessboard in your garage—the Elite Crete Systems products can do anything your heart desires. This is not a paint or stain that will fade or chip over time. The system becomes part of your existing garage floor, strengthening it and beautifying it.

Your entire project will be customized to perfectly suit your needs and ideas. Plus, the end result is a floor that is incredibly resistant to salts, oils and heavy weights, which are all common occurrences in garages. Depending on the size of the garage, most installations are complete within one or two days, and can be applied during the construction of a garage or afterward.

These products are a fantastic addition when repairing a garage, ensuring this critical part of the home is as durable as necessary. Give your garage the added protection it needs, and never worry about stains or spills again. With this system, your garage flooring can be just as gorgeous as the rest of your home.

 

The Car Lover’s Guide to Long-Term Vehicle Storage

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You wouldn’t leave your child with a suspect babysitter or drop your dog off at a subpar doggie daycare, would you? Don’t do the equivalent with your car. Whether you’re buying a classic car that needs constant protection or you’re simply heading out of town for a long stretch and want to ensure your ride is cared for, how you store your car is just as important as where. Any time your car will be sitting more than two weeks, there are best practices to follow and make sure it’s safeguarded.

And if you don’t? You might be signing up for a lot of mechanical issues. Start by getting a filter and oil change—specifically, make sure additive-free oils are used. Caustic detergents are often fine when you’re driving a car, but can be damaging if it’s just sitting there. Next, fill up the tank. Yes, it sounds counterintuitive, but filling it with premium fuel prevents condensation in the tank. To play it extra safe, add some gas stabilizers (often sold for lawnmowers) and seek out premium fuel without ethanol if possible.

Check, Check

Have your mechanic check all fluids and oils in the car, including the coolant levels. Also, take a look at the tires—how is the pressure? Was there a patched leak that could really do with a tire replacement? This is especially crucial for those in regions with rough winters. A slight overinflation can be helpful, and remember to thump tires every ten miles once a car is taken out of storage.parking-932921_1920

Next, wash and wax your car even if you know it’ll collect dust. Clean thoroughly under the hood and in the wheel wells. The interior also requires some TLC, especially when cleaning up food scraps which can lure in pests. However, steer clear of any products with water (such as Armor All) since it can trap moisture.

Prep Work

Some people put a piece of plastic beneath the car’s floor just in case there are leaps or buildup of vapor. If you’re storing your car indoors (as you should when possible), crack the windows slightly. Convertibles should have tops up with a rag in the air intake/exhaust to keep animals out. Metal screens are also useful for all types of cars. It’s also a good idea to pick up a battery maintainer so you don’t need to hunt down someone to jump your car when taken out of storage.

Along with that plastic used under the car, put a sheet between the windshield and wiper blades to prevent sticking (another option is just taking the blades off). Removing the spark plugs yourself (if you’re comfortable) is a good idea to stop rusting. You can also jack it up on axle stands in order to prevent flat tires. However, the less mechanically inclined owners can simply release parking brakes so pads don’t cling to the rotors.

Finally, leave a note on the driver’s seat with everything you’ve done so you know where you stand when you return. Lock the doors, and remember that a car cover is only appropriate for cars stored outdoors.

 

Used Car Buying? Take a Look at the Goods…

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(Editors Note: What other topic could we possibly cover on Friday the 13th?–that’s rite, buying a used car…)

You can get a used car salesman’s costume off eBay, which might consist of dodgy hair, dark glasses and a Hawaiian shirt. Perhaps the trousers are white Teflon. There are tales of plaid jackets, multicolor shoes and much more. In the old days, they would include a half-smoked cigar, but this might be the one thing that has changed.

As for the dealerships, they seem to crowd into the same corner of the wrong side of town. It becomes a metaphor for the whole experience. We know that we shouldn’t be going down there across the railroad track; we feel likely to get robbed, but we go anyway, and never do shake the feeling even after we buy. But what choice do we have?

This idea of a used car salesman with all the patter, who will rob you blind, seems to be an old one. Of course there’s a big difference between one used car dealership and another, but there’s a few things in common–they all know more than you do about the car business, they all use negotiation tactics in their daily lives when you probably don’t and they are all in the business of making money.

When it comes to buying used, our fowl impression may also be linked to so many things going wrong with second-hand cars. It seems some used car dealers in this country have given up. “You buy something used, it is bound not to go right” is their mantra.

They may have a point. You could try buying new if you can afford it—then at least its under warranty. Though the moment you buy it, it becomes a used car and half the value is gone. So we’re all looking for the same thing–an effective second-hand car at a good price.

Even dealerships which sell new cars make incredible profits from back-end deals, having you pay for warranties, organizing a loan and so on. This is hardly a new story though for the big money in selling cars is not taking the customer’s cash, but how to organize the deal.

road-sign-464654_1920Most people feel that they will always be sold a car in the same way, but it doesn’t have to be. There are hundreds of effective ways to sell a car and the most effective words occur in the closing argument or pitch. So no matter what type of car they are selling, or the type of customer you are, you can learn the gist of their tactics and avoid being taken.

Some good ways to avoid the hucksters include:

  • Don’t let the dealer know you are desperate for a new car. (Don’t say you need to get one for work on Monday for instance!) Keep your guard always up and plan to outlast them. They will ultimately meet your price but it might take a couple hours.
  • Don’t talk payments, talk actual total price. Talking installments means talking about the combo of price and financing. The price of the car shouldn’t depend on your credit score.
  • Don’t just buy the first car you see from the first dealership you see. Shop around. In fact, if you want to see your salesmen sweat, use your cell to look up the actual value of the car in front of you. (https://www.truecar.com/#/ )
  • Get to know what you might actually get for your buck. This may be a lengthy process, but it is ultimately worth it. Look up the type of car your looking for in advance. Know that the salesman will introduce extra factors like, undercoating, ignore this entirely.
  • Don’t let your trade-in become part of the negotiation about the price of the car you’re buying. They may offer to value your car higher than KBB said it was worth even. But this is a bargaining tool in their toolbox. After a couple hours of sticking to your price and turning down extras you say, “so we’re agreed this car is $XX,XXX.” They say yes, you say, “now you said my trade in is worth…”
  • Make sure you go for a test drive before paying for the vehicle. You may need to visit the lot a couple times. When they’ve determined that you’re wasting their time they may turn you over to a junior salesman who might give you an advantage when you’re actually ready to buy.
  • Get the history of the exact vehicle through an internet search of Carfaxx.com or similar  But the trick here is that you may not be able to interpret what you’re looking at. Was the car sold at auction? What’s that really mean?
  • Get a pre-purchase inspection at an independent inspection service. An inspector can run the reports above, along with a visual inspection and test drive to paint a picture of your vehicle’s condition. Know the car your buying better than the salesman and your negotiations will go your way.

You can find more tips about dealing with the unscrupulous car dealer: https://adequateman.deadspin.com/how-to-buy-a-new-car-without-getting-ripped-off-1682148797

http://www.urbo.com/content/car-salesman-secrets-to-know-before-you-buy-a-car?rtg=mhwhm-4Mc13R&param4=urbo-fni-fbss-2856-demo

Kicker recommends that you have the car inspected by a professional (that is not just the dealer/ mechanic) before you buy the car so you have a nonbiased idea of what the car is worth. If you do a bit more digging you can prevent the common problems that most people who buy used cars run up against.

If you follow this advice, you will be better prepared against anyone trying to take advantage of you!

Car Hacks (Vlog 18): How-To Clean Up

Hello, fans and fellow travelers. This week’s VLog from our intrepid video dude is neat and surprising. By that I mean the topic is cleaning cheap sunglasses (which you should have in your car), and surprising in that he has no head! Click the video and see for yourself–he has no head this week.

PS The real reason he has no head is that we gave him less than no time to prep and film this weeks installment. Its fun to throw him curveballs, what can I say. while we’re on that topic, please send us ideas you’d like to have Mike cover (off the wall is great) and if you’re a sponsor who’s wanted to get your product in front of a crowd contact us through the page. We’d love to get some product that Mike has to figure out how to review…tune in again this month to find out if Mike gets his head back.

The Safety Benefits of Tinted Windows

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By Kyle Kotecki

The mere mention of tinted windows may call to mind images of those sound-systems-on-wheels parked by teenagers at beaches across America. Though many view them as little more than a fashion statement, tinted windows can actually make your car safer in multiple ways. Read on to find out how.

Shatter-Resistance

Aftermarket tinting is accomplished by applying a thin film to the inside of a vehicle’s windows. In the event of an accident, the film helps hold the glass together, preventing shattering. Car accidents are bad enough without shards of glass flying every which way.

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Tinted windows block harmful UV rays, which not only prevents the fading and cracking of a vehicle’s interior but also protects the driver’s skin. Some forms of skin cancer are more often found on the left side of the body, and researchers think exposure to UV rays while driving is to blame. Window tinting can protect your interior, but more importantly, your skin, from sun damage.

Fighting Glare

Few things are as irritating as driving toward the blinding sun, leaning, squinting and adjusting the sun visor as you make your way down the road. This is not only annoying but also dangerous. It goes without saying that reduced visibility hinders one’s ability to commute safely. Window tinting reduces distracting glare and allows you to keep your hands off the sun visor and on the wheel, where they belong.

Obstructing Prying Eyes

A would-be thief may lack the motivation to break into your car if he is unable to peer through your window and see any valuables you may have in your car. Why risk arrest when, for all he knows, there could be little more than an eight-track player and some crumpled up fast food wrappers in there? While I still wouldn’t recommend leaving your bulging wallet atop a mountain of valuable Beatles memorabilia, tinted windows have the potential to serve as a theft deterrent.

In Conclusion

Tinted windows offer more than just style. They make driving not only more comfortable, but safer, too. One can view window tinting as an investment that helps keep both you and your car on the road for many years to come.

Tech Out This Pony!

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Tech Out This Pony!

Muscle car enthusiasts might have a penchant for respecting classic styling and nostalgia, but there’s no need to be left in the dust. Gadgets, gizmos, and apps galore can all help you trick out a ride like no other. Whether you’re in the business of supplying parts to consumers or are simply looking for new ways to upgrade your own powerhouse, you’re in luck.

Check out some of these latest and greatest inventions and accessories to make life easier (or at least more impressive). There’s only so much new Mustang valve covers can do. When it comes time to figure out Mustang gift ideas, look no further than a cool techie toy. Those new car scented fresheners are so tired.

There’s an App for That

Ford went app crazy a couple of years ago and enthusiasts are still reaping the benefits. There are a series of apps, like the Twitter hit, that allows your phone to connect with the car’s Sync system so that data is delivered right to your ride. Talk about hands-free innovation.woman-1446557_1920

Scroll through apps that you need from checking tire pressure to finding the nearest gas station with the lowest costs. It’s all about saving you time, stress, and cash. What’s better than that?

Open Pandora’s Box

Your favorite free music feed can be enjoyed in the driver’s seat. Ford’s unique Sync system also allows for the internet-based app to directly feed into a car’s stereo system. There’s no more of the same old Top 40 for you. Options like HD Radio might give you more than FM, but at a cost so why not get the same thing for free?

Don’t forget to take advantage of Pandora’s latest features. Link your Pandora to your Facebook friends to find out what others are listening to. HTML 5 utilization means it’s faster than ever. The improvements for creating lists and browsing for new music are welcome and make rocking out a breeze.

Speak Up

Ever since the first Mustang rolled off the assembly line in 1964 ½, Ford has been a leader in improving how you get around. The company pioneered advanced voice control options to allow for better overall control of the car while staying safe. Sync’s “flatter” feature means less restrictions and easier navigation.

The Only REAL GPS

It usually doesn’t matter how fantastic your GPS navigation system is. What good is it to know where you’re going and how many more miles if there’s a rollover causing hours of delays? Providing real-time traffic updates has long been an obstacle.

Inrix came on the scene as part of MyFord Touch system to provide actual traffic conditions on both highways and surface streets. Inrix is also on your iPhone with a Traffic Pro app. Is it worth it? It depends if you like being stuck in gridlock for hours on end or not.

 

Studded Tires: Time to take them Off!

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The reason states require removal of studded tires is two-fold:

  • It destroys roads incurring greater repair bills
  • The lead from the studs and asphalt dust are hazardous to your health

There are two dates that matter, the date range when studded tires are allowed and the date when they are prohibited. The idea is that bad weather can last later in some years than others. Some states do choose to make a special provision, like Georgia, which only allows studs some years but generally prohibits them.

Most states that allow studs provide a little flexibility by having a second date after the allowed date range that represents when it’s actually prohibited. That’s the date when they’re going to start handing out fines.

States that prohibit Studded Tires entirely (obviously not needed):
Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, and Texas.

States that prohibit Studded Tires entirely (that surprised us):
Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

Below is the best information we could find about studded tires by state. This information comes from Washington State Department of Transportation–be sure to look up your local state Department of Transportation. Also, some cities have statutes that are different than the state. According to AAA.com most states begin passing out fines for driving with studded tires on April 2nd.

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The Peak and Decline of Route 66

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To find the hay day of Route 66, we need to find out when the song Get Your Kicks On Route 66 was composed. Most people attribute it to Chuck Berry, though covers have also been done by Perry Como, Them and The Rolling Stones. There has been a myriad of versions. However n, t many people know the first version was recorded in 1946 by the King Cole Trio (which featured Nat King Cole and was created about a year before by Bobby Troupe.

Unsurprisingly, the idea of the song came from a road trip across America using the infamous route. Troup wanted to write about the Route 40, to begin with but was persuaded to write about the Route 66 instead. (It seems strange if he was on the Route 40 to write about the Route 66 as they go to different places. Such is the story of songwriting I suppose.)

This post isn’t about how the road inspired the song but how the road has sadly declined since the song was written. It’s understandable. Nothing lasts forever, and roads are more fragile than they seem.travel-2463912_1920

Since a route is really a collection of shorter roads chained up, some of those shorter roads rose and fell in need or popularity. So they swapped them in and out which had an impact. For example, in 1930 parts of Route 66 was shifted east to fit in with what would become the Interstate-55. In Downton St. Luis MO, Route 66 went down Market Street and up Manchester Road but this was changed. In the 1960’s Route 66 abandoned Oatman in the Black Mountains, in effect killing its main thoroughfare. There were too many alternations to list them all.

It seems the decline of the Route comes down to the signing of the Interstate Highway Act by Dwight D Eisenhower in 1956. The whole purpose of the act was to create improved highways, based on Eisenhower’s experiences with the autobahns of Germany. The route that Route 66 just wasn’t direct enough, and it made more sense to bypass slow city streets and chain up the bypasses.

route-66-2472502_1920It would be a long process; however, taking until the late 60s before most of Interstate-40 was completed as far as New Mexico. Although there were plans to turn the section between St Louis and Oklahoma into “Interstate-66” it never came to fruition. The final nail in Route 66’s coffin didn’t come until 1985 with the decertification of the road by the American Association of State Highway and Transport Officials.

The American Autobahn dream didn’t happen either. Business execs and travelling salesmen began to fly instead and the fascination with seeing this great land for yourself, one diner/motel/ local attraction at a time declined. For those who did want ground travel as a past time made due with “little” Interstate highways.

The loss of tourism for the little towns was nothing short of disastrous. Once glorious Route 66 became littered with empty gas stations and abandoned small towns. Sadly, much of Route 66 stopped being road completely, becoming wild. Others were turned into what are known as “sidewalk roads” in other words roads only suitable for hikers.

friends-1255442_1920Nowadays people travel sections of Route 66 for nostalgia even if they never travelled the route when it was open. Route 66 embodied a spirit of pride in America that’s been niche partitioned out of the way by business. When you travel slower you see more, and some would argue, that you live more. It would be sad to think that airplanes and highways helped disconnect Americans from the heartbeat of their national identity. Hopefully, the decline of Route 66 is not a harbinger of a larger sense of American culture.

There is hope of course. Workampers and Newmads are showing a greater interest in exploring life on the road. Perhaps soon we’ll see fall in love again, with small towns, fields of grain, unique bridges, and giant balls of string. We can hope.

 

Is High-Performance Exhaust Necessary?

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Is High-Performance Exhaust Necessary?

“High-performance exhaust” certainly sounds like one of the must-have muscle car accessories, but is it necessary? That depends on what you’re using your car for. Let’s take a look at what exactly these Mustang parts do. An exhaust system provides a path for exhaust gases to escape (basically the lungs of the machine). The quality of an exhaust system controls how well your car “breathes” so when it’s subpar, vehicles might be using a lot of power simply to expel gases, power that might be better used elsewhere.

It’s true that a high-performance exhaust system can free up some engine power to increase performance. How much higher performance? Well, simply adding a high-performance system won’t turn a 200 horsepower car into a 600 horsepower speed machine. However, it can be advantageous to racers.

The Superficial Effect

The word “superficial” gets a bad rap, but everyone wants their vehicle not only to perform superbly but look good while doing it. Adding an upgraded or modified exhaust system can create that deep rumble that is reminiscent of pro race cars. However, don’t go solely by sound. The higher-end exhaust systems only slightly increase the aggressive note of the exhaust, but that’s actually a sign of a better system. Many high-performance systems also add to the looks of a car by using shined mufflers.

The Way it Bends

There are two ways an exhaust pipe might bend, and it’s critical to know the difference. The traditional “crush-bend” is what’s used in the factory and might also be found in some after-market exhaust systems. These pipes have an accordion-like look which unfortunately decreases the amount of gas flow. Anything that takes up space in the pipe, including a seemingly meaningless crinkle, slows gas and negatively impacts performance.

The more highly desired mandrel bend is completely smooth and allows for the best gas flow. The diameter of the pipe is consistent throughout, which means higher performance. When considering upgrading to a higher performance system, making sure a pipe is mandrel is the first thing to check.

What’s It Made Of?

The type of pipe is just the first consideration. Chances are your pony’s factory pipe is made of steel – which can deteriorate after a few years. A high-quality system uses aluminized steel that is stronger, less prone to deteriorate, and can provide years of high performance. Another option is stainless steel which is more expensive but lasts much longer than even aluminized steel.

Do I Need It?

Whether or not you “need” a high-performance system depends wholly on what you use your Mustang for and how often. Racers and car show regulars can definitely benefit from increased performance. However, for the average driver whose Pony has never seen a race track, it’s probably not worth it.