Most cars are a good deal if you pay what they’re worth. The trick is full disclosure. Don’t overpay for your next vehicle. Get a pre-purchase inspection from a professional like Tire Kickers.
(Note: Thanks for enjoying our post, but don’t forget to set your clocks back this Sunday 11/4 or something really spooky could happen–like losing your job when you’re late for work!)
Do you really need to fix that tiny crack in the windshield if it’s not spreading and doesn’t impact your vision? Is it really necessary to fix that dent in the bumper if you have no hopes of selling your old faithful for a decent profit? The answer “it depends” applies for many repairs and maintenance, but there are some auto TLC steps that should never be skipped. You might be able to skate by with a scratched fender or dent from losing a shopping cart battle in the parking lot, but other fixes, repairs and maintenance are crucial.
A reputable collision repair shop won’t push you to do anything that isn’t necessary. However, don’t assume that just because an issue looks superficial and unimportant that it is. A good “trust test” is to see if a shop offers free walk-in estimates, and whether or not you get a “sales-y” vibe while there. You should be able to get a preview and estimate of what’s in store without committing yourself (and your cash) to a shop.
Like Whitney Said, Crack is Wack
It might not seem like that crack in the windshield is getting worse, and you may not think it impairs your vision, but both things are probably happening. Just like the crack happened suddenly, it can spread suddenly. It’s much easier and cost-effective to fix a smaller crack than replace an entire pane of glass. Plus, you owe it to yourself, passengers and other drivers to have a clear vision of the road in front of you.
As an added bonus, glass replacement and repair is often much more affordable than you imagine. A lot of the time it will be even less than your deductible, which means you’ll avoid changes in your auto insurance because of it. It’s possible you’ll wake up one morning to find a tiny crack has spider-webbed across the entire pane, so get it taken care of now.
Wheels vs. Tires
These words are often (wrongly) used interchangeably. Tires are the black rubber that actually touches the roads, and wheels are the metal or plastic pieces that hold tires in place. You know it’s paramount to have good tire traction and pressure, but aren’t wheels just for looks? Not at all, and a broken wheel might be causing you to lose tire pressure or even impact steering capability.
Wheels are the frames of your tires and need to be in great working condition at all times. Wheel repairs can help improve safety, ease driving and help keep your vehicle aligned. It’s important that both your tires and wheels are in great shape because when they are flawed they can certainly lead to a sudden accident. If your wheel is dented and pushing into the tire, it can suddenly puncture it while you’re going 70 mph on the freeway with disastrous consequences.
When to See a Pro
For wheels, windshields, frame straightening, alignments, suspensions and headlight repairs, it’s crucial that you get these problems taken care of right away. Even better, if you locate a shop that offers a lifetime guarantee, you’ll rest easy while rocking out on your commute knowing that you’re covered.
In the age of the microchip and the microcomputer, it is understandable that other areas of technology are looking for smallness. In the case of cities, this makes sense as a microcar, for instance, is easier to park and maneuver, though creating something like a microbus, for example, would just be silly!
Microcars are designated as smaller than “city cars” or “subcompacts”, although the term is used rather loosely, a microcar can also be a city car. In the UK a microcar has to have less than 700cc worth of power or be powered by a battery. The lowest amount of cc this type of car can have is 49cc, which is the same amount you’d find in electric bike. The wheels must be between 6-8 inches.
Other differences include: Many microcars don’t even have a reverse gear. Some don’t technically have a door–it is, in fact, the bodywork that lifts up (seems rather cool). Microcars may be treated as motorcycles for insurance purposes. In some countries such as Austria, Belgium or France someone who banned through driving can still drive a microcar, though this is not currently the case in the US. Another advantage of microcars is parking. They are easier to park and easier to find a spot for.
Please note that some types of microcar are banned from highways altogether, for instance, quad bikes (also known as quadricycles).
Microtrucks are slightly more powerful than microcars (total power up to 1000cc). They are most popular China and Japan, as in the U.S. they’re not considered road legal. One of the most popular is the Japanese Kei truck, which weighs about 700Kg (1543lbs), about half the weight of VW Beetle, according to Conceptcarz.com. Another popular model is the Daihatsu Midget which slightly resembles the more well-known Tuk Tuk truck.
Even in the U.S. these trucks have picked up a following among groundskeepers on large estates, golf courses, and ranches.
A few years ago the many countries including the U.S. went through a min-moto and go-ped craze. The title of microbike seems to fit better with these vehicles as a category. As with microtrucks they aren’t suitable for the highway, which is just as well as it impossible to stay on them for any length of time. In terms of power, they range between 39 and 50cc. There are a number of opportunities to drive them on dirt tracks throughout the country or fail to drive them as the case may be.
One early minibike was the tote-goat (mini), by Bonham Corp. which packed a strong engine capable of towing fairly good sized trailers from point to point. Starting in 1959 and ending in 1970 these little beasts often topped out far below 10 mph. In the 80’s it wasn’t rare to see a pre-teen dashing about the family farm, fetching an empty hay wagon from one field to another.
A side note here: There is a number of uses of cc in this article. It can either stand for cubic centimeters or cylinder capacity, which generally speaking amounts to the same thing. It’s quite complicated to measure how much cylinder capacity an engine has, it all comes down to multiplying by pi and so on, but put simply, the bigger the engine the bigger the capacity. In other words, you need to know more about the engine that this micro-article can tell you to work it out!
Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett & A. Bunch
It does seem a shame that the moment you can afford a car, that car is out of bounds. Either the car is too big, or too sporty, or too showy, or some other reason society comes up with to disapprove of your choice. It’s the way of the world.
When you first get your license…
Previous generations just wanted a car. It represented freedom to explore the world and also not needing to borrow the family van to take your date out for pizza. Or worse, having a parent chauffer you to and from your date. If you bought your first car yourself, chances are was pretty scary and nearing the end of its life. If you’re one of the lucky few whose parents bought you a car then we recommend keeping your mouth shut. Especially if it’s something sporty, (you should know your peers hate you).
However you got your ride, just drive your chick/dude magnet up to school and remember that all that adoration won’t put gas in your tank. Better ask your date to pay for the pizza.
These days, teens seem to prefer mass transit or rideshare. They see cars as an extra expense, (and well it is, but come on) and since teens are not allowed to have jobs the only teens who get cars are those whose parents bought it for them.
At the quarter life-life crisis…
This may be in the middle of your twenties. It’s when you realize every day you wake up you’re closer to 30 than 20. There’re three schools of thought here:
1) If you can pull it off, this is the time to get the car of the dreams. It doesn’t have to be practical when you’re established in your early career and splitting rent with friends. Well, work with your budget that’s the only solution. If you can’t get something like the Ford Mustang, go with a car slightly more reasonable option. Having said that the Mustang is better on the old finances than a Beamer…
2) This is the time when you can really impact your financial future. Buy something reliable, fuel economical, eight to ten years old with a reputation for living a long time. Pay it off in four years and make that car last for a decade.
3) Go for something strange in car, truck, or motorcycle. If you dance to the beat of your own drum, well go ahead and buy that surplus meter-reader mobile that get 60 miles to the gallon and has just enough cargo space for a bag of groceries. Maybe buy that scary van from the guy down by the river so you have a place to crash if you lose your apartment. If all else fails you can buy something practical in five years when you hit your next life milestone.
When you get married…
There must be an unwritten law that you must buy an SUV. You need something with a third row of seating and you just can’t make yourself go “full minivan.” You’re not really fooling anyone. It’s just today’s equivalent of the station wagon. Unless…you go for it and get something that actually can go off-road if needed…maybe a jeep grand Cherokee, Toyota FJ, or an H2. Another option might be a crossover. Something like the Grandland X SUV which combines both agility with brilliant design. And it’s useful even if you aren’t on the school run. What you have to watch for here is gas mileage. Some of these guzzlers drink a gallon every ten miles.
In all seriousness, think about a car that can get your kids to soccer now and that you don’t mind loaning them in a few short years. Unless you’re one of those mean parents who insist on driving your teens to pizza. (Assuming they still eat pizza when our kids are teenagers.)
The mid-life crisis…
This is when the temptation sets in to buy something sporty and impractical, but it’s really not worth it. I get it, your kids have left home and you want a car to relax in. If you can avoid it don’t buy either the luxury car of your dreams and the street racer. You’ll save money and avoid looking ridiculous. Kids have an annoying habit of moving home. You may not be as financially free as you think you are, and you sure don’t want to loan them either kind of car.
That Ferrari won’t hide your belly fat anyway, and the BMW won’t make your hair grow back. On the other hand, if you’re going in for a regular prostate exam, you probably deserve a comfortable ride…maybe a Mercedes is just what the Doctor ordered. You certainly deserve it.
When its time to retire…
Well, we would never tell you to wait until you retire to live your dreams. BUT in our highly unprofessional opinion, it’s finally time to be impractical. Go ahead and buy the car of your dreams. You know the one teenage you couldn’t afford because your parents wouldn’t buy it for you. Sure it’s now called a classic car but just ignore all that. The point is, it’s yours and you don’t care what anybody thinks. Enjoy it. At least until one of your kids decides you need to be chauffeured.
When looking for auto body services that are niche—such as classic car restoration—you don’t want to trust your baby to just anyone. You (and your ride) deserve a specialist. Every auto body shop has preferred projects, and it’s often reflected in the passion of the owner. Don’t trust a classic car to the skills of a shop that specializes in new cars, has never performed a complex restoration, or that doesn’t have the connections to get the right vintage parts.
Easily one of the toughest parts of restoring a classic car is simply finding the goods. Your car doesn’t even need to be particularly rare in order to make this a challenge. For example, restoring an 80s Ford Bronco can be a nightmare when it comes to finding something as seemingly simple as a seatbelt replacement. Scouring sites like BroncoGraveyard is enough to drive an owner mad, a quality shop has insider information to get that part like new for a surprisingly low cost.
Restoration is a big and dirty job. Are you sure you have the right professionals in your corner?
Securing the Value of a Classic Car
Revamping a classic car isn’t like trying out a new recipe. It’s not so easy to “start over” if you (or your body shop) messes up. This is a one-shot deal. It’s your job to secure the value and protection of a classic car by choosing a body shop that specializes in vintage cars and—preferably—has worked on a very similar model before. Ask for before and after photos, the experience of each technician who will be working on the car, check out their repair gallery, and honest assessments of results you can expect. At a renowned shop, the owners are happy to provide this information because they’re proud of the work.
Surprisingly, one sign of a good repair shop is when they say a certain result won’t be perfect. Sometimes no amount of money is going to get you flawless results. However, you should expect very, very good results that are often perfect to the untrained eye. If a shop says they can’t do something, they should be able to refer you to someone else nearby that can.
Showing Off the Goods
Once your baby is primped, pampered and primed, it’s time to take it on the road. For many classic car owners, one of the biggest thrills is participating in car shows—and there are plenty of them, get-togethers and cruise nights in spades. Coming up in September is Soda Row Cruise Night in Jordan, the Les Schwab Car Show in Oden, and the Golden Living Car Show in Taylorsville to name just a few.
There’s a space and community for every make, model, and era. Nothing compares to a leisurely desert cruise or meeting up with others who share your love for all things classic. For your oldie but goodie, depend on a local classic repair shop who will keep you, and your machine, looking good.
The two extremes in mechanics jargon, when it comes to repair work, are Running Repair and Invisible Repair. A running repair, for instance, is a repair while a car is in use. An invisible repair is one that you can’t see anything ever went wrong. Normally, repairs on vehicles are somewhere between these.
As cars tend to be so expensive most people just want a repair that works, rather than one where you can’t see any damage. Many things like dents or bubbles in the windscreen may just be ignored; though having pride in your car is a good thing in itself, there’s a good reason to get things fixed while they’re still small issues. Not unlike seeing a dentist, you can put it off but you’re not saving yourself any money, in fact, you pay more in the end.
Some repairs are cheap but may need to be done every six months. Technically we call this preventative maintenance. This includes replacing the fuel filter or battery. Many parts are replaced because they wear out quickly while others are replaced because if they fail the results are more severe.
Other repairs, however, start out expensive from the moment you find out your car needs it. The most expensive job in the car is changing the cylinders which can cost about $10,000 on a standard car. Other expensive jobs are to change a battery on a car which works on hybrid fuel, replacing the transmission and replacing the entire suspension of a car (this might come as a surprise to the layman who might not know there is more than one kind of suspension).
When it comes to do-it-yourself, we find the good the bad and the urban legend. It’s not terribly difficult to replace your own air filter (at least the main one) and because this part should be replaced regularly and affects your fuel economy it’s a good candidate for a do-it-your-selfer. Things like a transmission go firmly into the category of things not to try at home.
When it comes to urban legends…there is a well-established idea that ladies’ tights or stockings can be used to repair fan-belts. This used to be essentially true. However, it might be quite hard to do in a modern car simply because it’s just so hard to find the fan belt. If you have to try this, stretch the tights or stockings as far as they can go, remove the old fan belt and run it around the pulleys that held the old fan belt. It will work better with more than one layer, so presumably, two pairs of tights work better than one. In the end, tie it up with a knot. Then drive immediately to a shop and have a proper fan belt installed.
Unless you simply can’t afford to have your car repaired always do so before selling your car. The value is restored, you’ll find buyers faster because not everyone has the ability to take on a non-running vehicle, and it’s highly unethical to not disclose things you know are wrong with a vehicle you’re selling. So avoid having to spend a bunch of ad space listing what doesn’t work.
And what about if fixing the car is too expensive or just can’t be done? Well, then it must be scrap time. An unrepairable car is issued a special certificate. Often the word “UNREPAIRABLE” emblazoned on its front. In order to obtain an unrepairable certificate, you need proof of ownership and filled in the correct paperwork, which differs from state to state. You also need to surrender the license plate which came with the vehicle. Unless you do this quickly (within ten days of when your car stops working) you may have to surrender your car.
It’s sad when a car goes to the wreckers, but that’s just the way of the world. It’ll happen to all cars one day. Even yours.
Getting a cracked or chipped windshield isn’t the end of the world (or your paycheck)—assuming you address it right away. It’s very common and if it’s a small enough chip it can be easily fixed for a low cost in less than a minute. In fact, many insurance policies cover these minor dings without it impacting your rates or having you pay a deductible at all or you can find a great windshield crack promotion at reputable shops. However, things can go bad quickly if drivers don’t take swift action.
There are many causes of cracks and chips, whether it was a rock falling off a service truck, debris on the road “kicked up” by the car in front of you, or the neighborhood kids playing golf a little too close to your daily commuter. Oftentimes, if something hits the perimeter of a windshield, it can lead to a massive crack, but if the center glass is hit, that can mean a “starburst crack.”
From Bad to Worse
Crack type is determined by where on the windshield the object hit. “Floater cracks” can happen anywhere that’s farther than about two inches from the perimeter. They can be small but spread over time. “Edge” cracks are generally about a foot long and can form at impact. Aptly named, these cracks occur close to the edge of the windshield within two inches of the edge.
Other times a chip can turn into a crack. For the most part, cracks which are smaller than six inches can be fixed so there’s no need for windshield replacement. What most people don’t realize is that there are several types of cracks, and each one might require a different approach to fix. For example, there’s the “Bull’s Eye” which happens when a circular object makes the impact, and basically looks like a bigger chip.
Types of Cracks
A Combination Break is the name for several cracks and chips. A Ding is what many people say when they mean a chip. There’s also the Half Moon, which is kind of like a Bull’s Eye but not perfectly circular. It’s officially a Long Crack when it’s longer than six inches and almost always requires a replacement. The Stone Break usually begins as a chip but is solely caused by a stone or rock.
Finally, there’s the Stress Crack. This can happen without the windshield being impacted by anything, and temperature extremes or swings are often to blame. If a car gets overheated simply idling in the sun, if the A/C is blasted too high and too long, or if you make the mistake of removing frost by pouring boiling water on it, Stress Cracks can happen. These cracks are mostly straight and can be tested with a pen—simply run a ballpoint pen across the crack and if it doesn’t dip, it’s a stress crack (with a stress crack, glass isn’t actually missing).
Seek a professional auto-glass repair tech to fix windows and if they advise you to have the window replaced, do it. Sometimes a crack can form between pre-existing chips and cause a window to fail quicker than you’d think.