Ways of Jumping Your Car

In the winter it’s important to that everything is working as normal. If it is not, you might walk out to your car one morning and find it doesn’t start. It’s especially likely on a very cold morning. There could be another reason for the drained battery, such as the lights being left on it, but whatever the reason, car batteries do get run down.

Warning! Not all Cars are Alike!

A word of warning though, it is vital that you check the procedure in your manual carefully before attempting it. What follows is merely a guideline, because auto makers sometimes crowd the battery into a space that won’t allow you to access both posts. So, you may need to verify the exact procedure for your model of car.

Also worth noting, you would not jump start an electric car, but if you are attempting to jump a car with an electric car, you’ll need to follow the specific directions for that vehicle.

Before attempting to jump a car make sure the battery isn’t completely dry, frozen, corroded, leaking, or damaged.

Never let the metal leads touch each other, and never hold the leads by the metal parts.

Procedure

Boosting a car battery (also known as a safety jump) is done by attaching red and black cables correctly. You may think that both sides of the dead battery should be attached to the live battery in the other car but if you do that it will cause an explosion.

  • First, clamp the plus (red) wire to the dead car battery by clipping it onto the metallic + post (aka terminal) at least 30cm up the post from the battery top.
  • Second, connect the plus (red) wire to the donor car (the live battery) by clipping it onto the metallic + post (aka terminal) at least 30cm up the post from the battery top.
  • Third, clamp the black, negative wire to the dead car battery in similar fashion.
  • Forth, clamp the black, negative wire to the live (donor car) battery.

You then start the engine of the car, obviously the donor car, and let it idle and feed electricity to the dead car’s battery for a few minutes. The car with the dead battery will not start straight away after a boost; it is more like a car starting in cold weather. If it still doesn’t start you may need to start pushing it, or revving the engine on the giving car.

There is a possibility for complications for the car which is being boosted, such as having their battery drained. It could even cause some kind of electrical issue with your battery. It is vital that you check the procedure carefully before attempting it.

The Electrical Charge Gauge

In some cars the dashboard may have a gauge for the alternator. This gauge will indicate what you might think of as electrical pressure (not a technical term), when a boost is taking place. These could be found in various places such as near the radio slot or on the “side pillar” near the driver. It is similar in looks to the speedometer. Functionally, most of the time you’ll easily start the car and not engage with this gauge, but if you aren’t able to start your car this gauge may help in diagnosis.

Turbo Chargers

Then there is the turbocharger. It consists of two small fans, one called the turbine and one called the compressor. To make things simple, a turbocharger steels the energy found in a crankshaft. Not all cars and trucks have turbochargers as they are rough on your fuel economy. They also make the engine much more complex than it would be otherwise.

Turbochargers are more typically found in sports cars, and race cars, but if you have one it makes it harder to get a jump.

Here’s The official Recommendation from The Kicker—carry a portable jumper with you, to avoid needing to jump a stranger’s vehicle engine to engine.

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Taking Someone’s Else’s Car For Spin…legally!

If you love, love, love to drive, but you don’t want to put a lot of road trip miles on your car, there are ways to drive other people’s cars long distances. For several reasons, people will drive a vehicle somewhere, like a vacation, and end up flying home. They’ll need to hire a service to get that car back to them and because truck routes are limited it can be less expensive to hire someone to drive it back to you.

Many car and motorhome companies require drivers to take the vehicles back and forth for these road trippers. This occupation seems to be especially strong in Florida where many drivers want to take their car north in the spring. No wonder that there are vacancies for people who want to deliver these vehicles.

You have to be at least 23 years and have a valid driver’s license to become a courier. Please note that some courier companies have a higher age threshold and some may require you to undergo background checks. It is free of charge, but unsurprisingly you need to pay a deposit of $350 before you can deliver a car.

There’s probably a number of weeks spent waiting around for you to get a job, but the jobs may well provide the adventure Americana to scratch your itch.

Motorhome companies with a similar need for couriers. As do ambulances, busses, small fire/rescue vehicles, limousines, and hearse’. What do they have in common? They are too big to fit on a car carrier.

According to ZipRecruiter.com this job should fetch you between $27K and $54k per year. AutoDriveway is one such company that employs drivers to deliver a car.

Of course, if you just want a local job instead of the long haul you can check out your local auto dealership or port where cars are imported. Rental car companies also employ people to deliver cars to and from repair shops and the like.

Expect any of these employers to require a little customer service skill and to require you to fill out a checklist before you pick up and after you deliver the vehicle.

Tire Problems

Most of the population think tire problems start and end with a “flat” and “incorrectly inflated tires” but there are other problems that can occur. A good rule of thumb is to compare the front left tire to the front right tire and a similar way with the back tire as tires don’t tend to become worn at the same rate.

Bald tires: A tire becomes bald from overuse which may make the tire blowout in hot conditions. This will mean that you are more likely to lose condition in extreme conditions. Such tires are much more likely to lose pressure. There should be exposed indicator bars if your tires need to be replaced.

Bubbles: External bulges in the tire. A rubber tire consists of “cords” which are at 90 degrees to the tire’s run (It might help to think of it in similar way to a piece of paper, it is harder to tear left to right than tear downwards). A forceful object can separate the cords and create a bubble. Having more than bubble or bulge is rare but occurrences have been spotted, probably due to manufacturing defect.

Flat spots: A worn part of the tire, caused by parking for long periods in the same place or by locking your brakes. You should fill your tires to capacity; drive at least 150 miles (which will solve the problem if the difficulty was being parked in one place). If it is not fixed, release some of the air in the tire through use of a valve. And if it still seems a problem, take it to a mechanic.

Squealing: This tends to occur when the vehicle is cornering. This is due to an uneven tread – some peeling may become apparent when examining the tire. Again it can be fixed by increasing the pressure in your tires. It may be even be due to loose wheels, in which case the wheel nuts should be tightened.

Underinflation: Generally, tires not being at the correct thickness which as well as making them hard to drive with may also create a burning smell due to excess heat. You can obtain Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems to check the problem or you could just check it at a service station. It’s a good idea to do this before going a long journey as you are likely to be stuck somewhere and it might be dangerous to stop.

Vibrations: This are generally felt when you operate the brake pedal or when the brake caliper sticks (these are used to slow the vehicle). Problems similar to vibrations which might be undetected by passengers in the car may be found by using a roller device called a Tire Problem Detector over the tire. Apparently they are due to an out-of-balance wheel, as it relates to the axel and its partner wheel. It’s quite usual for a tire which is more than a year old to become uneven on one side. It can be fixed by loosening a wheel weight. 

What is a Tune-up?

A tune-up is something that car with a non-electric ignitions need to go through either every year or every 10,000 miles or so. If your car has an electric ignition and maybe a fuel injection system it should be all right for 25,000 to 100,000 miles.

A tune-up makes sure that your car is working at its peak and if you only travel for short distances or you pull a trailer (for example a boat or camper) it may be that your car needs to be tuned more often than the norm.

You can probably tell if the car is not working to its peak, but here are a couple of things to watch out for.

  • A stalling engine, which will be a problem if you need to move away quickly from the lights or similar. This may be due to worn spark plugs; it’s recommended that they should be replaced. Or it could be from a weak battery or maybe a faulty electronic component. Generally a car stalls of extremes of hot or cold, but if you can’t find the problem it’s best to have a mechanic look at it.
  • Engine running rough. This is when shaking and bouncing happens more often than you might reasonably expect. Again it may be linked to the spark plugs but it could also be a vacuum leak (a car is full of a number of hoses for air to travel through and these may have become worn) or dirty parts.
  • Black smoke from the carburetor. Only older vehicles use carburetors and black smoke is a sign something is wrong. A carburettor cleaner should be employed to remove excess amounts of carbon from this part of the car.

An engine working to its best of its ability shouldn’t make excess noise but it’s just possible that it is caused by tyres rubbing against metallic parts or something similar.

When you tune up your car you should begin by checking the oil. Helpfully for the beginner the cap in the engine is marked “oil.” Only do when the car has cooled down. The dipstick should be wiped with either a rag or a paper towel. If the towel looks especially black or it has noticeable “chunks” the oil may need changing.

Put the dipstick back and remove it for a second time. You should be able to notice the notch on the dipstick which tells you how full the oil compartment should be. If it’s noticeably low add oil to the engine, making sure that the oil is of the right quality and the right type for you engine. It’s best to use a funnel in order to avoid spilling the oil. Ask if you don’t know what kind of oil is appropriate.

Next move onto the tires, are they at the right pressure? You should be able to find a pressure gauge at most garages. It is best not over-inflate the tires.

Other fluids such as brake fluid and radiator fluids should also be checked. You should next check the battery, brakes and lights. Looking at these items is especially important if you are traveling a long way, but should be part of your regular routine. People do forget though.

Cars made out of Carbon Fiber

Most cars on the road are mainly steel and other metals, but when it comes to racing, it’s a different matter. A car is almost unbelievably heavy; a sedan weighs about 3,000 pounds. In animal terms this falls short of an elephant (where you’re talking 10,000 pounds or more) but it roughly equivalent to an average sized giraffe—which are not known for their maneuverability.

Where you find Carbon Fiber in a car:

In racing, it’s all about reducing the weight of a car. Materials such as carbon fiber can increase performance while also reducing weight—which by itself increases performance. Most people think of the body of a racer when you say carbon fiber, but the truth is you use it more in the suspension of the vehicle.

For example, in something like an Aston Martin Valkyrie the carbon fiber body might shave off a couple of pounds, but still weighs 2,200 pounds (which is the equivalent of a heavy bison). The engine powerplant is the big selling point here—854 watts. Okay, 854 watts is roughly the power of a commercial coffee grinder, so let’s talk horsepower. How does 1,145 hp sound? Better right?

Another reason for using carbon fiber is that a car remains strong and robust despite the decrease of weight. The engineers speak of high “strength-to-weight ratios.”

Many twin turbos are made of carbon fiber as this is currently the best way to get maximum thrust from them. (A twin turbo is just a car with more than one turbocharger in its engine.) Examples of cars with twin turbos include the Koengigsegg Agera and the perhaps more well-known McLaren Senna. But without the carbon fiber these cars wouldn’t able to handle high speeds.

Body/Shell

Okay we can’t ignore the body, or shell, for ever. The composite materials used to make cars may be described as a polymer. As well as being more suitable for racing, these cars are more fuel efficient. But if shedding weight alone won races, you’d see a lot of dune buggies on the track and you don’t.

Another place carbon fiber helps is aerodynamic coefficient or Cx. Also known as a drag coefficient it’s about with how an object react the air around it. Put simply, engineers want cars that do not have too much drag otherwise it will be resistant to moving a high speed. When your drag goes up with the speed, you’re fighting a losing battle.

A final biproduct of carbon fiber composite is that there’s no chance that they will rust or corrode. Of course, a race car driver probably destroys his body shell long before it would get a chance to rust.

The total change of the dynamic of the car is one reason that race drivers need special training, after all it doesn’t move like a metal car and the levels of acceleration in these vehicles take most people by surprise.

A Look at Car Health

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In January, we take a look at how we might change our lifestyle. So why don’t we look at our cars as well? Nowadays you don’t even need a mechanic–you can diagnose the problem itself.

Well, the word “diagnose” is a bit strong. Look at it this way. You see the light on your dash that says something is wrong? You still don’t know what’s wrong. Well you can, if you have a car health monitor.

They’ve had code readers for a long time. Think of it this way. Your car has a number of sensors on critical parts. If you have low oil pressure for example it triggers the engine light. So all these sensors are triggering the same light, but your car knows which one was triggered and if you get a code reader, it will tell you which one.

External Diagnostic Devices

Aside from getting a better description of a problem than just a dash light, the other reason to get some sort of car health monitor is peace of mind at the mechanic. How much more confident would you feel walking you’re your mechanic and saying, I’m pretty sure my alternator is shot,” vs saying, “my car sometimes won’t start.”

You feel the difference? You might not have a clue what an alternator is, but how much faster are you going to get answers to simple questions like, “when could you have this done,” or “what’s it going to run me to fix this?”

With the old method your mechanic grins broadly and says, leave it with me for the day and I’ll call you when I know what’s up. Then he hooks up the same machine you could buy…when he gets around to it…later today.

Another place that has a car health monitor is the auto parts store. Although they have their own health monitoring service it will save you a trip if you purchase one of your own. If your problem doesn’t need to be fixed right now you’ll wait for the weekend, if you have to go to the store to find out what’s wrong, you’ll end up buying the part while you’re there.

Is there a difference between a simple code reader and a diagnostic? Yes! An external diagnostic can read into the code or even double check the reading that are causing the diagnostic. Some are even programmed to check against the way that engine type is meant to operate. It’s a language interpreter of sorts.

OnBoard Diagnostics

This type of monitor is the OnBoard Diagnostics which started in the early 1990s. It could be said that these tools are in the second generation of development, though having said that OBD-II came out as early as 1996.

There are various different types of device, the most common of which is a type of scanner which operates by plugging into your scanner and displaying the car’s info on a little screen. The simplest of these can only show the Check Engine codes, but the more advanced models can give a whole variety of codes for whatever predicament.

If you’re confused about why we’re talking about plugging something in when it’s called an OnBoard Diagnostic it’s because there is a port where you engines computer can attach to an external code reader or diagnostic, and an OBD can just stay plugged into that port, then broadcast wirelessly to your phone or other device.

What all does my ODB monitor?

Things that can always be shown on the scanner are fuel rate, the voltage of the O2 sensor, the voltage level of the battery and the time that your engine has been running, even for something like a loose fuel cap. The idea of the scanner is to show you information beyond the simple flashing lights on the dashboard.

OBD Ports

It has been illegal since 1996 to not include an OBD port in a vehicle, though of course older vehicles will have to rely on the older type of scanner. The port has sixteen pins and it is regular practise for mechanics to use the port in order to work out the fault with the car.

There are various protocols associated with these ports. A protocol is dependent on what type of vehicle it is, for instance is it a Ford or a General Motors vehicle? In 2008 the Controller Area Network was introduced and all vehicles have to use the same protocol.

With a special USB adaptor attached to the port you can read these codes from your laptop, rather than a scanner screen. Most of these tools do work the same way though. Alternatively some of them work via an app on the regular type of tablets and smart phones. Some produce current data (also known as “live data”) so you know that there is a problem as soon as it occurs. The phrase “peace of mind” must surely be mentioned here.

Secret Updates and Prototypes.

Prototype Cars

Now that cars are connected, your automaker will often download updates remotely, but even cars that aren’t on-line often receive a small upgrade during manufacturing that cars the month before didn’t get.

Why would you hide the improvements in a car? Well it’s all to do keeping things from the competition. If things are the development stage it might be that the improvement is not carried into production, in which case it may well be snapped up by the competition.

Take the BMW which has updated headlights and taillights. The only reason that anyone knows about it is that BMW released this information. So BMW didn’t make a big promotion around their new concept lights, they just quietly upgraded their production model and then later in the year they announced that it had been done. This could be because they had many units on show room floors with the old type of light, that wouldn’t sell if people knew the upgraded lights were on their way.

Industrial Espionage

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There is such a thing as industrial espionage, but it tends to be about stealing technological advantages. The kind of corporate espionage that leads to releasing information to the public revolves around safety issues etc.

Prototypes

 

By far the most common type of secret upgrade is the upgrades to the design being considered for future production models. The reason for keeping these prototypes secret may seem obvious. Of course, they don’t want competitors to steal the design, but also car makers also test out ideas that don’t actually go into production. It’s hard to get the public to feel warm about a car if a popular potential feature disappears before the real production design is decided.

Things Automakers do to Hide Upgrades

Sometimes part of a vehicle is obscured, as is the case with this new BMW, when a cloth was placed over the dashboard when the car made early public appearances. It created rumors of a new infotainment system, but it seems the manufacturer isn’t giving that much away.

Car manufacturers have secured test facilities, but they’ve not had much luck keeping prying eyes completely away. So automakers often test early prototypes in these facilities and when a design gets more recognizable, like the 2020 Nissan Centra, then the new prototype is tested in the desert. In countries where this is not possible, anywhere out of the reach of prying eyes.

Back in the day, automakers would go a step further and cover the headlamps and grilles with tape to keep the exact model a little more mysterious. Nowadays they employ a process called “pattern wrapping.”

Pattern Wrapping:

What is pattern wrapping? Well it’s the equivalent of pasting a car up and applying wallpaper to it. There are a myriad of designs, starting with something basic like zigzags or diamonds and moving into something like a paisley pattern and moving into weirder shapes and patterns. You may have seen some pattern-wrapped cars and wondered why someone would want to camouflage their sports sedan. The goal is to make it difficult for a competitor to computer scan the vehicle and make educated guesses at the features being hidden.pattern 1

You might have thought that any pattern could be applied to a car, but this seems to be not the case. The pride in manufacture of a car extends to getting the best pattern to hide it!

Specialist designers are employed to do this task. While the idea of the pattern is through off the specific car its worth mentioning that certain manufacturers like certain artwork. Ford for instance tends to go for something calligraphic, while General Motors prefers a geometric pentagon design. It’s not clear whether these manufacturers like the designers or the design when they do this.

Another reason for keeping a prototype secret is that some prototypes don’t really go into production. The home office may ultimately drop the ensemble while choosing to move some of the elements to existing product lines.

For example, with something like the Cayenne Cabriolet. (A cabriolet is a car with a roof that folds down.) If you are trying to combine a folding top with an SUV, two questions need to be resolved:

  • From a design standpoint, what would it even look like?
  • Would the buying public really want it?

Porsche seem to have some plans in this direction, but as hinted to above it’s a bit difficult to work out and it’s a bad idea to show the public something if plans are going into fruition.

 

Gears and the Gearshift (for Youngsters)

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Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett and Andy Bunch

The old joke among generation X and Baby Boomers is that you can completely handicap a millennial by taking away their cellphone, giving them a manual transmission and writing the directions in cursive. Well, if you are want to understand gearshifts but don’t want to appear foolish by asking about it, here’s the skinny. Sorry, here’s the 4-1-1.

Those of us who grew up with gear shits are united by a common memory having the driver reach over and invade your space every time they needed to change a gear—which is pretty much all the time. The worst was the pickup trucks, which often had bench seats. If you had to fit in three people, and you lost the ro sham bo, you had to sit in the middle and move your legs all the time.

steering-801807_1920When car makers developed the automatic transmission, they moved the gear selector to the steering column which improved life immensely. As car makers increasingly started installing bucket seats in the front most modern cars have a “gear selectors” which looks like a gear shift, but instead of manually operating a physical gear box the way a manual stick shift does, it merely selects the gear for the automatic transmission.

(On a side note: some high end sports models allow for a manual operation of the automatic transmission by adding functionality to the gear selector.)

But by far, the biggest difference between manual and automatic is the amount of time it takes when first learning to drive a car.

To Operate a Manual

Since we know all of you can already drive a stick I know you’ll all be skipping this section, but just in case you don’t know how…

In order to engage the engine the driver must depress a pedal on the floor, called a clutch pedal. This disengages the engine from the drive train which powers the wheels. With the clutch depressed the driver must select a gear and slowly release the clutch while applying some gas to keep the engine from dying while it must re-engage the drive train. It’s a bit of an art form, officially known as “feathering the clutch.”

car-interior-1834270_1920The difficulty of feathering the cutch goes up exponentially when you’re attempting to start on a hill. The dreaded “hill start” is so bad because the moment you depress the clutch the car begins to roll backwards. The answer to going uphill is getting the engine engaged quickly. So effectively the driver must engage the engine before the car runs into another car behind it, but not so quickly that it kills the engine instantly.

If everything is going well there should be a slight vibration. Only now should you release the clutch pedal. Should you wish to accelerate further continue to take your foot off the foot pedal and put your other foot on the accelerator pedal.

Do you always need a gear shaft?

Not necessarily – sports cars often have levers known as paddles. One paddle shifts up a gear and the other down. Formula One cars also have paddles but they are mounted on the steering wheel. This complicated procedure is definitely not suited for the amateur and even paddles haven’t made their way into the mainstream. However, paddle shifter on the steering wheel in place or a gear selector on an automatic transmission has made it into the mainstream, but this isn’t the same thing as a true paddle shift.

Special Accommodation

It can be hard for those with either limited mobility or arthritis to operate a manual gearshift because it requires a certain amount of force. Instead a special adaption needs to be made or purchased. One way that they work is pressing a comfort handle rather than adjusting the gearshaft itself. Clearly an automatic transmission is way to go, depending on your disability.

Automatic Transmissions have proven themselves reliable and simple to operate. They are easier to learn to operate and make the entire process of learning to drive simpler. They can also reduce driver fatigue for city, stop-and-go, driving.

So are Manual Transmissions Obsolete?

Not exactly! Manual transmissions are a bit more fuel efficient, because a human intelligence can keep the engine in neutral at stop lights. Most stunt drivers agree that manuals give them better performance when precision moves are required. Other than heavy traffic, most drivers who know how to operate a “stick” prefer them over automatic.

Here’s the real difference that no one really talks about. An automatic transmission is a complicated thing. It’s more likely to breakdown and when it does, it’s more expensive to fix. The other issue is that manual transmissions can be rebuilt from pretty simple parts. It’s possible to get these parts long after that particular car is no longer manufactured.

Automatic transmissions are so complicated inside that rebuilding them isn’t cheap and soon the internal parts aren’t available for order. Then the only source of a replacement transmission is a junk yard. Even the junk yard becomes difficult eventually. How soon depends on the popularity of the vehicle you bought, but generally things start getting hard to find after 10 or 12 years.

So when you buy an automatic you’re basically buying a car with a shelf life, which seems counter to the ethics of most environmentally conscious millennials.

Cars in Bulk

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Imagine this scene…

A salesman in a plaid suit wearing a giant cowboy hat and smile he stole from a shark, stands before his many toys; all of them have one careful owner, not scratch or ding on them…at least not on the outside. A client approaches to look over the stock and suddenly from nowhere, orders two thousand of them.

 Welcome to world of buying cars in bulk. Okay, it doesn’t happen like that. An independent used car-slinger doesn’t deal in bulk, as far as we know of. Although many new car lots have a fleet representative that takes over if a buyer wants between two and 20 cars, fleet buying and bulk-buying-are nor the same thing.

But the military, taxi cab firms, other car hire firms, the police and so on have to deal with the idea of buying more of the same car at once.

It goes back longer than you might think. Oshkosh Corporation for instance delivers specialty vehicles, mostly trucks, for access, fire, emergency or military and has been in business for a hundred years.

One recent purchase was for 6,107 light tactical vehicles for the US army – mobile command centers-for which the bill came to a cool 1.69 billion. For that price the vehicles need to be fully operational and well serviced, though having said that army vehicles do have a reputation of breaking down, maybe it’s due to attempting to squeeze the price?

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When you’re talking about emergency vehicles you also need something extremely reliable. Increasingly, these deals go to an electric motor vehicle rather than gas or diesel. Although it is a bulk buy as such there needs to be a customized design to start from.

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They may look the same to an outsider, but something as straight forward as a fire truck varies greatly from one state to another, based on their needs.

When it comes to purchasing taxis what do you go for? Ride-share vehicles are privately owned so each one is unique, but when trying to maintain a fleet of corporately owned taxi s it’s best to have all the same car. Uniformity of vehicle profile helps reinforce the brand just like the paint jobs does, but as an added bonus your mechanic can order parts in bulk as well. Every car is purchased outright, except for special circumstances when cars are leased. The contracts on leased taxis are detailed because of the wear and tear inflicted, and the high mileage added. It’s hard to imagine not going to be out of pocket leasing.

automotive-1250546_1920Another person who might buy cars in bulk is that salesman referred to above. Sure cars come in on trade, and many are purchase at auction, but when an independent car dealer finds another dealership liquidating inventory they may buy sever dozen at a time, sight unseen.

Dealerships who offer new vehicles do so by negotiating a bulk rate even though the cars arrive in batches across the year.

This can really help the salesman because if a customer is looking for one specific type of your brand of car they can order one through you and you still make a commission.

These dealers are also less likely to get stuck with hundreds of cars they cannot get rid of…however, they need to be pretty savvy to avoid low or high inventory. Too few cars on hand and you don’t close as many deals. Too many cars on hand and you run into a host of problems including tax issues.

What considerations do you need in order to make a purchase (or should I say several purchases?) this way? In some ways buying a car wholesale is similar to buying cars retail. You want the full service history. You want the papers to be in order. So you can put the car on your lot, and ideally, sell it. It’s that simple.

 

Installing a Sunroof

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What most of us generally think of as a “sunroof” is more accurately called a “moon-roof.” Is the distinction important or just a selling pitch? It depends. The difference is actually the level of tint in the glass. So the short cut to thinking about it is that a moon-roof tends to have a sliding transparent glass panel, rather than something opaque, or with built-in SPF. What used to be called a sunroof isn’t all that popular at the moment, though it is not clear why.

It comes down to whether you need more natural light inside your vehicle or if doing so has brought in too much heat. So one possible explanation for the latest craze of moon-roofs is this. Minivans and SUV’s have a lot of windows and easily over heat the passenger space, but also have and area for the moon-roof to be where it won’t shine a ton of direct light onto any of the people in the vehicle. So with modern air conditioning no one really notices the extra work the engine does to keep it cool.

Another reason is that its possible to add tint to a moon-roof aftermarket without impacting any warranties you might have on your vehicle. So manufacturers, who don’t know how hot or cold your climate is can send them all out with clear glass and count on your dealer to offer tinting services if that’s a hot add-on in your climate.

Adding a Sunroof

Speaking of manufacturer warranties, if your car feels too hot and/or stuffy it might seem tempting to install the sunroof, especially if you have some experience with auto repairs. Be warned though that a hobby mechanic shouldn’t attempt to create a sunroof to a “normal” car (this would just create leaks and even cause damage to the interior) and would also void any warranties you might have.

Assuming you are not a hobby mechanic there are several types of sunroofs you might look at:

A pop-up sunroof is the least expensive type of sunroof. In a similar way that a house window can be kept open using a latch, the pop-up sunroof is kept in place using a hinge.

A Sliding sunroof is the more general type of sunroof, again they have a latch system but the window doesn’t rise up.

An electronic sunroof tends to be a more expensive of type of sliding roof which can be operated by the driver of the vehicle.

The first thing that needs to be done is the measure the square space on your roof. It has to be the flat part of the roof. Using the curved spaces would make for a much more expensive sunroof and most commercial sunroofs tend only to use the flat part.

Next you need to purchase a sunroof kit. For best results, chose a sunroof which is an inch smaller (that’s what the instructions say but a square inch smaller would make more sense?) than your maximum dimensions. A complete kit includes a full template, weather proofing and even wiring (if you are creating an electric sunroof).

Don’t even think about doing it from scratch—just buy a kit. Besides if you are serious about it, you probably should study pictures and look at all the steps in greater detail, which comes with the kit.

Time to Complete Installation

With proper tools, this task surprisingly takes only 60 to 90 minutes, which you might think it is a comparatively short time, but if you think about it, it doesn’t involve the engine or making “major” changes to the bodywork (such as might be needed in the case of an accident). It’s just complicated.

As placing a sunroof in a car cost about $1,000 it might seem like a cheaper option to do it yourself but consider these three benefits to hiring a professional.

  • They already have the tools and training to do it.
  • They will get it done more quickly and if they don’t, they have to keep it out of the weather.
  • You can’t KNOW that you did it wrong until months later when your interior is ruined overnight.

Perhaps the best option is buying a car with a sunroof? It’s an excuse to get a new car, in any case.