Maintenance is Safety

Kyle K_maint 1.jpg

Owning a car costs money. Car payments, fuel, and insurance can put tremendous strain on one’s finances. The one cost too often neglected, however, is the cost of automobile maintenance.

Oftentimes, a car lets its driver know it needs attention subtly. Almost too subtly to attract attention, unfortunately. A small puddle on the driveway. Uneven treadwear. A slight grinding noise while braking. Symptoms often come on too gradually to jar one to action. Car owners may choose to wait it out, opting to allocate funds for fuel instead of a brake job. You can’t drive without fuel, after all.

Regrettably, postponing car maintenance can not only cost more money in the long run, it can be dangerous to yourself and others. Here are some aspects of maintenance that are too often neglected, along with the dangers of doing so.

CJ_Auto Safety 2Tires

Like middle-aged men, your tire doesn’t go bald overnight. Treadwear occurs so slowly you are unable to notice it day to day. Therefore, it can be hard to motivate yourself to replace your tires, so you instead try to squeeze a few thousand more miles out of them. However, a worn-out set of tires can be extremely dangerous. They make braking more difficult, increase the likelihood of hydroplaning, and are more prone to catastrophic blowouts.

The general rule of thumb is to replace your tires when only about 4/32” of tread depth remains.

Lights

Your car’s lights not only allow you to see but allow you to be seen. Therefore, they are important to your safety. Any bulb that burns out should be replaced immediately. Furthermore, headlights are prone to fading and yellowing over time, and are better replaced or restored sooner rather than later. While toothpaste has been used in a pinch to restore an ageing headlight to its former glory, an actual headlight restoration kit may prove to be a safer bet, if you aren’t compelled to replace the headlight entirely.

Brakes

Reduced performance, squeaks, leaks, and more are issues that can arise within a vehicle’s braking system. While no one would dispute the importance of brakes, the repairs can be costly, leading many to put off repairs and often store a bottle of brake fluid in the glove compartment to top off the fluid reservoir as needed.

A leak should be taken seriously, as there is nothing worse than stomping on the brake pedal for an emergency stop and having it go all the way to the floor because your chronically dripping brake line or wheel cylinder finally gave up the ghost.

Worn-out pads and previously overheated rotors can increase stopping distance. At the first signs of decreased braking performance, your system should undergo inspection. You never know when that truck is going to pull out in front of you, and when it does, you’ll be grateful for your well-maintained braking system.

Windshield Wipers

Windshield wiper blades and arms can be affordably replaced, but due to the fact they are only used when the wet stuff is in the air, it is easy to tolerate sub-optimal wiper performance. However, as wipers allow you to see, it is imperative they are in sound working order.

In Conclusionworkshop-2104445_1920

If you take care of your car, it will take care of you. This is by no means a comprehensive list of parts prone to wear that can make your driving more dangerous. A vehicle’s engine, suspension, transmission, and more should all be kept in good working order for the well-being of everyone on the road. Auto repairs can be pricey, but driving in a dangerous car can cost you much, much more.

 

 

The Pros and Cons of Spoilers

Mehta_Spoilers

Adding a rear or chin spoiler is one of the necessary accessories for many drivers. What are the benefits? Some just prefer the look and consider it an extra dosage of muscle in the Pony. Of course, spoilers are “supposed” to add performance to the car, but whether or not any downforce is added is up for debate. Some pros say yes, some say no, so it’s up to what research strikes your fancy – but really, it’s what you think of the look.

One thing to consider is whether or not your specific model is “supposed” to have a spoiler. Some cars, like the 2008 Shelby GT, have ducktail spoilers made by Shelby for Shelby. Other models come straight from the manufacturer with a low wing rear spoiler. There are some enthusiasts who belong to the camp of believing only real Ford Mustang parts belong on these machines. On the other hand, there are others who enjoy thinking outside the box and are up for creating a one of a kind powerhouse with whatever spoiler floats their boat.Mehta_Spoilers2

The Downside

Adding the “wrong” spoiler will not negatively impact the performance of a car. However, choosing to modify a Mustang with a spoiler obviously costs money. Prices of spoilers can range drastically, so it’s important to do a little research to find one that fits a budget. More importantly, adding a spoiler – especially one that is not made specifically for a particular Mustang model – might make a difference when (or if) it comes time to sell. Will the new owner be a fan of your choice?

What Some Fans Say

Regardless of what you believe, the “real” reason spoilers were born was to increase a car’s grip on the road. How much downforce a car has is extremely important in the racing world and most of the time the only thing keeping a Mustang on a track is the weight of the car. One way to help with grip is to increase the weight of the car – but that negatively impacts how a Pony performs in turns. Spoilers are basically upside down airplane wings that are meant to add grip without the added weight. Does it work? That’s up to you to decide.

Options Abound

So, you’ve decided a spoiler is a right option for you. Now comes the tough part – there are seemingly limitless spoilers out there. Cobra styles come with or without lights. Maybe you want to replace that factory low wing rear spoiler with an F-40 high wing spoiler with a red light. An AIT racing spoiler is a popular option for drivers looking to improve on the track. No matter what you decide, remember that spoilers require some serious changes to the car (like holes in the trunk), so choose wisely.

 

Will Self-Driving Cars Really Make the Roads Safer?

BenRoussey_Will 1

Americans have traditionally been the pioneers of futuristic development. No wonder, the idea of the driverless car originated here. But when an automated Tesla car crashed last year, resulting in the owner’s death, it raised many eyebrows. Elon Musk remarked on this accident that people are killed because negative writing by journalists dissuades them from using automated vehicles.

Do we really want automated vehicles on our roads?

A survey by Pew Research Center found that 87 percent Americans always want a person behind the wheel, 39 percent never want to ride in driverless cars and 30 percent think roads would actually become unsafe with self-driving cars. (These numbers were probably higher if they saw the movie Fast and Furious 8 since that movie had an awesome high tech carjacking scene.

But if these automated cars drive like Bumblebee does in Transformers we should be good to go!

However, there are many self-driving enthusiasts out there who believe the change is inevitable. They imagine a world where the streets are safe because of reduced accidents and zero human error.

Companies like Tesla, Alphabet, and General Motors are investing billions in funding research and trials to ensure that automated vehicles become a part of our future. Musk is one of the foremost champions of driverless car technology. He envisions a time when even old and infirm can travel independently, and he looks forward to the era when humans can embrace their full potential on the roads.

Can people trust automated car companies?BenRoussey_Will 2

The automotive world shook after the Volkswagen emission scam emerged. Even companies like Toyota and General Motors (this is the company that basically stole $50 billion from the taxpayer and still owes us $16 billion) had hidden things from consumers regarding safety defects. These incidents have left a sense of mistrust in the general public.

However, experts claim that people will come around. After the initial mistrust and naysaying, people always embrace change. However, people might need a little more time with the self-driving technology because the trust is still weak and new shocks involving data breach and software hacks have occurred.

Furthermore, the automated car precision is not good enough to work on roads with low lying tree branches, bridges, as well as roads with difficult to see lane markings.

BenRoussey_Will 3

What about the law?

Technology and auto lobbyists have been busy engaging with the members of Congress. Bipartisan bills have been proposed, which will make it easier for automated cars onto the streets. The safety exemptions, which involve the performance of steering wheels and other important parts such as brakes and airbags, are just some of the concerns.

A bill was recently passed which lets manufacturers of automated vehicles sell 25,000 vehicles a year without meeting safety guidelines. And the numbers increase to 100,000 vehicles annually after the first three years.

However, Senate Commerce Committee approved a bill which has limited the cars to 80,000 and made a safety evaluation mandatory before relaxing safety exemptions.

Another issue is the underfunding of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The department will have to write new rules for these automated cars while overseeing the industry as a whole even as it struggles for more resources since America is now over $20 trillion in debt. The government has proposed a cut of 7.5 percent or $24 million in funding to this department in fiscal 2018 because America needs to get its spending under control.

Benefits

An automated vehicle future does offer major benefits; the primary being an efficient utilization of time. People that live far away from their work would not be punished as much since they could use that time now to sleep or even get some work done before they arrive at their desks.

Furthermore, traffic algorithms will be easier to predict when all cars on the road are automated. Elon Musk, too, has a point when he claims that streets would be safer with some improvisations and tweaking of existing safety measures.

Your UTV + President’s Day!

Mehta_Your UTV 1

You depended on your UTV to be your wingman (or wingwoman!) for Valentine’s Day—or maybe you don’t believe in celebrating love just one day out of the year. However, this February we have a whopper of a holiday weekend with back to back events: V-Day on the 14th and President’s Day on the 19th. If you got President’s Day off, or you simply want to make the most of this smack in the middle of the month weekend, there’s no better way to celebrate than by heading to the Badlands of South Dakota.

The Black Hills National Forest is home to 1.2 million stunning acres of land, and much of it is open to off-road lovers. Explore thousands of acres on the Motorized Trail System, which includes more than 3,600 miles of roads and 600 miles of trails. Both are UTV-legal and many offer a peek of Mt. Rushmore. You’ll find more than 90 miles of single-track options for motorcycles, as well as 347 miles designed just for UTVs that are less than 62 inches wide.

Embrace Your Bad Self

The Badlands are home to 72 miles of trails for vehicles narrower than 50 inches, and 148 miles are a free for all. Bring all your off-road machines, from UTVs to motorcycles. Many of the trails are looped and there’s clear marking to 20 key trailheads. It’s a very good idea to pick up the Black Hills Forest Service map before your ride. It’s updated every year to identify new trails, construction areas, and any spaces that are currently off limits. Some routes aren’t clear on the trails but are well marked on the maps.

It’s absolutely required that all riders stay on the trails. This forest is for trail riding only, and cross-country drivers are strictly prohibited. Still, the Black Hills embrace the “tread lightly” mantra of many UTV riders. Always pack out what you pack in, and follow UTV social etiquette. In South Dakota, UTVs are managed by the state’s motorcycle law. This means there’s no legal age limit to drive a UTV. Follow common sense, and know that you still need a valid driver’s license when on non-trail roads.

Mehta_Your UTV 2

A Presidential Welcome

You can get an annual pass for $25, or a week pass for $20. The Forest Service is open on weekdays from 8am to 4pm, but is closed on President’s Day. Plan early and pay your fees online before arriving. Every vehicle on the trail needs an independent permit, and you will get a free route map when you purchase your trail permit.

While you’re in the Badlands, take a detour to get up close and personal with some of our most beloved of presidents. Seeing Mt. Rushmore is a bucket list item that can’t be missed! Before heading out, make sure you have all the upgrades necessary for a great President’s Day!

 

Winter Driving Tips

Kyle_Witer 2

Editors note: We have 5 Mondays this month and a lot of crazy bad weather this winter, so we’re calling an audible and publishing a post about driving in winter.

Many places have severe winters and people who live there learn to drive in those conditions or learn to get where they need to go without it. These days we can’t count on usual weather patterns and many of us who live in mild climates can be thrust into winter weather driving without much time to prepare. Many of us get stranded at home by even small amounts of snow or ice that in other places would be considered drivable.

While we at the Kicker encourage readers to use their own judgement and respect their own limitations if you do need to wander out into winter road conditions you don’t often encounter these tips can help you. For experienced severe winter drivers these might seem like common sense but for many of us, it’s a good idea to refresh yourself before heading out into the cold.

Kyle_Winter 3.jpg

Winter Driving Tips

Most nightmares are experienced under blankets. Now that winter is upon us, the roads are under a blanket of snow that can be an absolute nightmare to drive on. Here are some winter driving tips to help you get from point A to point B safely.

See and be Seen

Limited traction isn’t the only difficulty presented by winter driving. Snow and ice can hinder both your ability to see and be seen. Fortunately, you can address this issue before you even pull onto the road. Brush off your car, and scrape off any ice found on your windows, windshield, and side view mirrors. Clear snow from your headlights, brake lights, and turn signals to ensure that other drivers see you and know where you’re going.Kyle_Winter 4.jpg

When it’s particularly cold out, it can be tempting to skimp on the brushing and scraping—to simply run a brush over your windshield a few times to get out of the cold—and let the defroster clear up the ice as you go. Resist this temptation, as it is very dangerous. Not only does it compromise your visibility, but if you drive with a bunch of snow on your car, it can blow off and obstruct the view of other drivers. A little elbow grease before you hit the road goes a long way in keeping you safe.

Slow Down

When the white stuff has fallen, take it as a sign to slow down and drive deliberately. If you attempt to accelerate too quickly, your wheels may spin out. Brake too aggressively, and you may slide. Turn to sharply and your front tires may slide. When your tires aren’t gripping the road, you no longer have control over your vehicle.

Kyle_Winter 5.jpgSlow down before curves and corners, while you are still driving in a straight line. If you lose traction in the midst of a turn you run the risk of sliding off the road or into oncoming traffic. Gently press the accelerator throughout the turn. The key word being “gently. Save the fishtailing for the Dukes of Hazzard.

Resist the temptation to stomp on the accelerator during hill climbs, as doing so can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Never use cruise control during the winter. Winter driving requires a deft touch on the pedals, and using cruise control is likely to make you lose control of your vehicle.

Anticipate

Kyle_winter-1

Anticipation is crucial for safe winter driving. Getting up to speed, as well as slowing down, will take longer. You must allow for this. Give yourself more time to pull out onto roads, and leave larger gaps between you and the cars in front of you. If you must stop or yield, begin decelerating earlier so you may do so gradually. Also, be aware of the traffic around you; some drivers fail to properly adjust their driving to match the conditions and can pose a threat to your safety.

Conclusion

Winter driving can be a daunting undertaking. However, by following the tips above, you can avoid many of the pitfalls others fall victim to. And remember, if on a particularly nasty day you don’t feel safe behind the wheel, stay put. There’s no shame in staying home to avoid adverse driving conditions. Be safe.

 

Three Ways the Cold Affects Your Car

S Larson_Three winter

The cold weather affects your car’s performance. From not being able to start to serious safety concerns, the extreme weather requires some proactive maintenance. Below are three things you should know about how the cold will affect your vehicle.

Start-Up Issues

The cold can affect how reliable your battery is. It is important to have your battery tested by a professional before winter arrives. The cold can drain your battery. On average, a battery should last about 3 years. As temperature plunge, they can make it harder for your vehicle’s battery to start. Batteries work best between 30 and 90 degrees. Anything below that is considered extreme.

Spark plugs can also have issues because of the cold. As temperatures drop, starting your car will become harder. A “hard start” with bad spark plugs can turn into a “no start” when extreme cold takes hold.

Fluids Thicken

Be sure to check your fluids before freezing conditions cause problems. Water turns to ice when temperatures drop below 32 degrees. As most fluids contain some percentage of water, they can thicken as temperature plummet. This can cause problems for your vehicle. Thickened fluid will make it harder for your car to start. Transmission fluid, for example, needs to run quickly. When it is thickened, it flows slower and can impede your car’s functions. Oil, anti-freeze, power steering, brake, and gas should all be checked. HEET, or other similar products, can be added to the gas tank to ensure any water that may be in there does not freeze and damage your tank or gas lines. Wiper fluids should also be checked. (To help preserve your windshield wipers, be sure to use wiper fluids that include anti-freeze agents. It is also recommended that you tilt your wipers off your windshield while your car is sitting. Snow and ice can accumulate and freeze your wipers to your windshield. Wiper fluid and scraping may not be enough to unstick them before the rubber lips are damaged.)

Tires Pressure

The cold can wreak havoc on your tires as well. (Note: Winter tires may be a wise investment based on safety and manufacturing materials.) As temperatures drop, the pressure in your tires will decrease. Typically, for every 10 degrees the temperature drops, your tire loses 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure. Under-inflated tires can turn hazardous conditions into deadly ones very quickly. Under-inflated tires are more likely to pop regardless of the temperature. Be sure to check your tire pressure often during the colder months to ensure you have optimal traction.

Conclusion

A fall maintenance routine will help you keep your vehicle performing as it should during the winter. However, knowing the ways in which cold weather can affect your vehicle can help you gauge your car’s performance and safety level. Aside from the things listed above, pay attention to any sounds, alerts, or slips you experience while driving. Catching issues before extreme conditions start is ideal. However, being prepared and understanding the effects of cold on your car can continue to keep you safe while driving.

Suspension Possibilities for Mustangs

Mehta_Suspension

No matter what generation Pony you have, one of the most critical Ford Mustang parts is the suspension system. Think about the last time you were a passenger in a new car. If you remember spilling your drink, a “rough ride,” or grabbing for the handle on the corners, chances are the suspension system was subpar at best. Can’t remember the details of the last time you were a passenger? Then the suspension system is doing its job. A good system gives you a smooth ride and more control – and luckily for Mustang owners, there are a few possibilities.

Breaking Down the System

A suspension system is comprised of several Mustang accessories including the chassis (frame), springs, shock absorbers, and torsion bars. Knowing what’s inside of your machine – and if it can be improved – is something worth looking into. Both coil and leaf springs absorb any shocks along the road in order to give you a smoother ride. When these parts start to wear down or deteriorate, catching it early can be an inexpensive fix. Shock absorbers work with springs in order to release the shock that’s absorbed.Mehta_Suspension2

Torsion bars are optional, and most Mustangs do not have them. These bars are designed for top-heavy vehicles, such as Jeep Wranglers, and help maintain equal weight throughout the vehicle during side-to-side motion. However, for racers who take corners at high speeds, this is a possibility to consider.

Do You Need an Upgrade?

Most higher-end vehicles built for racing, like your stang, come with impressive suspension systems. However, if you’re looking for something more, or need to replace the existing system, think about a few crucial details. The right system can put your Pony’s power closer to the ground to avoid “wheel hop” for an overall better ride. You can replace the entire system as a kit or just a few key parts like strut braces, control arms, or add a roll cage (a smart idea for convertible owners).

Do you really need an upgrade? That’s up to you. If you’re a racer who spends weekends on the tracks, then an upgraded suspension system can make a big difference. If a trusted mechanic suggests that certain parts are on their last leg, it’s best to replace things early. However, if your Pony is in good shape and you’re not a daredevil, you should have a pretty solid ride with the factory system.

What’s in a Name?

Just like Mustang is an American icon known for excellence, every part of your Pony has a different type of reputation. Some of the most respected brands for suspension systems are BBK, DDJ, and Eibach. Choosing one of these brands when replacing or upgrading your system is always a safe bet. Eibach sportline lowering springs come in the staple fire engine red since beauty is also on the inside. BBK Gripp lowering springs offer a teal blue option. After all, paying a little more for top of the line parts should also have a fun side.