Is Your Car Ready For Fall Driving?

Cooler weather is finally here. You’ve brought out your sweaters and jackets and stored your summer attire. Your wardrobe is all set to enjoy the crisp, cool days but what about your vehicle? Is your car ready for cooler-weather driving?

If you’re not sure if your vehicle’s ready or aren’t sure what needs to be done, here are a few things you’ll want to take care of before you hit the open roads this fall.

How to Get Your Car Ready for Fall Driving

1. Give Your Car a Bath

Chances are your summer driving routes took you to a beach, at least once. Whether it’s sand from a freshwater lake or salt from the ocean air, you’ll want to rinse it off before you start any fall road trips. The salt, sand, and other grime from summer drives can collect on the vehicle’s undercarriage. If left on too long, it can cause corrosion.

To prevent this from happening, rinse all of the salt and other grime off your car. A garden hose can be just as effective as a car wash.

2. Check Tire Pressure

Did you know that every time the temperature fluctuates 10 degrees your tire pressure changes as much as one pound per square inch? This means that when the temperature changes you want to check tire pressure.

If you’re not sure what is recommended for your vehicle, optimal tire pressure will be listed in the owner’s manual. You can also look your vehicle up online or ask a mechanic if the manual is lost.

3. Replace Windshield Wiper Blades

You might not have to replace the windshield wiper blades if they weren’t used during heavy spring and summer downpours. However, if you spent a lot of time parked at the beach the salt air can corrode the rubber blades.

It is recommended that you change the blades every six months. Drivers in colder climates may want to plan on replacing them every fall. The last thing you want is to find out your windshield wipers aren’t effective in the middle of a rain or snowstorm.

4. Check the Oil and Filter

Checking your oil levels should be a part of your regular car maintenance. Depending on the type of oil used, mileage, and driving conditions, it might not need to be changed. If it’s measuring low and still looks clear, it’s okay to just add to the existing oil.

If it’s time to change the oil, often to a lighter-weight one, you also want to replace the filter. Lighter oils are often recommended for fall driving since it can help the engine perform more efficiently in cooler temperatures. A new filter can do what a dirty one can’t; keep the oil clean and debris out of the engine.

5. Change the Air Filter

The air filter is an important component and it’s often overlooked. It prevents dust and other small impurities from entering the cylinders’ combustion chambers. This can lower fuel efficiency and reduce engine performance. Like your oil filter, it should be changed every six months.

6. Flush the Cooling System

Your vehicle’s cooling system should be flushed and refilled every 2-years or 24,000 miles. It’s part of good car maintenance and an easy item to add to your spring car maintenance checklist.

You will need a radiator cleaning product to flush away oil, grease, and collected sediment. After flushing the radiator, refill with a mixture of water and coolant. The percentage of water and coolant will depend on the climate. Severe climates require a higher mixture of coolant than water.

7. Check the Spark Plugs and Battery

This is something you should already be doing regularly. Checking the battery and connections helps ensure that you won’t be stranded. Make sure that the connections are tight and that there aren’t any signs of corrosion. You also want to make sure that the battery housing is solid.

The final thing you want to do before heading off on your first fall drive of the season is to clean out the car’s interior.

Building Up A Car Toolkit and Other Car Equipment.

You know the old adage, there’s two kinds of people in the world…well it seems to be the case when it comes to keeping gear in your car so you’re prepared for a breakdown. Either they keep nothing at all except the number to roadside assistance, or they keep enough to survive a zombie apocalypse.

So, we’re dedicating this post to the middle ground. Honestly what should you keep in your car in case of emergency.

Starting with a car toolkit.

No need to have a second kit for your motorcycle if you only drive one or the other—just adjust the size to fit motorcycle and move it back and forth. Then again you may need different tools and it’s a lot easier to just store this in your vehicle and not have to remember to move it.

A mobile car toolkit should include such items as screwdrivers, hex keys, a socket set, two sets of pliers-both adjustable and locking, wire cutters, ratchet straps, tire gauge, zip ties and duct tape.

  • Hex keys, AKA Allen wrenches, come in a range of sizes, it is vital to find the right hex key for your job. We recommend getting a folding hex key set like the one pictured here because hex keys tend to wander off or fall in tiny cracks.
  • Socket sets are used for the tightening and loosening of fasteners. It should be noted that they come in a range of sizes, but not all sizes are needed.
  • Rachet straps are tie-down straps used to tie down equipment or cargo so as to keep construction materials in place. They need to be both tough and flexible to do their jobs.

Don’t overspend on a mobile tool kit for a couple reasons. First you may want to hand off the kit in a pinch or it could get stollen. Second some expensive kits come with items like a pull handle or swivel castors, which are useful but an expensive kit will include nonessential items which actually makes in harder to find the right item on a dark and rainy night—which when you tend to break down.

You’ll also need miscellaneous items like a first aid kits, work gloves and so on.

A garage automotive toolkit is another story:

One of the best ways to keep your mobile car kit small is to outfit your garage with a larger kit for home repairs. Don’t overspend on this tool kit either. Even modest kits sometimes have two hundred pieces (bit handles, wrenches, hammers, hacksaws and so on). Ask yourself if you really need that much stuff.

To do any serious work you’ll need a floorjack to keep a car in the air. It’s vital that you obtain a jack designed for the specific capacity to the car. If you have a light car you may be able to lift the car with an aluminum jack. It’s advisable to seek help if you are unsure on the weight of your car.

When you do get under a car you will need some jack stands which have a pyramid like shape. To work on the underside of a car you will also need a creeper-an item to rest your back on. Wheel chocks are also needed to keep the automobile in place.

The list seems to go on and on – jump starters, pressure gauges, possibly an oil drain pan to change your oil. It is important to take into account the proper regulations for disposing of chemicals if you’re going to perform many maintenance tasks.

If you want to check the electric current in a car you will also need an item called a multimeter.

Without some kind of budget the amount you will spend could go through the roof. Consider which items you cannot live without, either on safety grounds or to do the work properly.

You can try to stick to one type of tool, but honestly it never seems to go that way. Someone will give you a duplicate for Christmas, or the wrong brand, etc. So if you just let go of the idea of matching tools you’re free to take advantage of our favorite pro tip.

Pro Tip: Go around to all your friends who like to wrench and ask their advice about tools. They’ll often have extra tools they can donate to your cause when they find out you’re just starting out.

In this as with everything else, research is everything.

High Mileage Doesn’t have to Mean Low Value

So you have a car and you want to drive it, but that’s the rub – the more you drive the sooner it wears out. Well, the reality may not be so dire. Below are a few words on how to maintain your car to make it go further.

A car with a number of miles on the clock can cause problems, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a car needs to be replaced after say, 100,000 miles. In truth, it’s all about maintenance; you might be able to get your run-around to reach 200,000 miles or more.

The idea that your car cannot go above 100,000 miles is so engrained in the car industry that odometers in the 1960s and the 1970s only went up to 99,999. If you went any further, the count would reset. Irreputable dealers used to get a coat hanger up under the dash roll the odometer forward until it reset and then act as though it’s a low mileage car.

Nowadays we see it different.

People don’t like buying high mileage cars, but it doesn’t mean that this type of car cannot hold its value if looked after correctly. You just need to watch over things like the automatic transmission, battery and tread, especially after a long journey.

Recommendations for making a car last include fixing any problem which comes up immediately. Most drivers do ignore problems and they can come back to bite you. So if you see a warning light or hear a strange noise remember to check it out or get a mechanic to check it out.

Although many people don’t like being tied to the maintenance manual it’s a good idea to follow recommendation on when to check the tire pressure or looking at fluids such as oil and water.

It’s essential to keep the car clean, as foreign bodies such as road salt can damage your car. Most people don’t drive their car respectfully and this can also cause difficulty to a high mileage cars. This includes doing things like not using the brake or clutch too violently, after all you want it to last.

As with any car it is essential to have the right insurance and breakdown cover, especially if you are travelling long distances. No car is safe from breakdown, so it’s best to be careful with a well-used vehicle.

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.

Why Aluminum Alloy Wheels Crack

 

Alloy Wheels

There are a number of reasons your aluminum alloy wheels may crack. One of the most common is “hot cracking,” which is the result of high-temperatures during the welding process. Also called hot fissuring, solidification cracking, hot shortness and liquation cracking, it’s ugly and annoying, but it can be avoided. When arc welding is employed, cracking can be eliminated. Aluminum welding gets you started on the wrong foot from the beginning—even if you avoid hot cracking, hydrogen cracking (aka cold cracking) might show up.

Cold cracking can happen when welding low alloy steels and carbon steels. Depending on the type of aluminum you’re using, you might become the victim of cold or hot cracking and, either way, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of this conundrum. When dealing with hot cracking, you need to consider three major issues: The alloy chemistry, appropriateness of the filler alloy, and choosing the best joint decision.

Picking the Right Alloy Additions

To sidestep hot cracking, consider four potential alloy additions: Silicon, copper, magnesium and magnesium silicide. By including trace amounts of one of these elements, which is common, cracking is more likely to occur. The “chemistry” of the alloy, which is dependent upon which additions are used and how much, can be a major factor in cracking. Silicon is the most crack-resistant, followed by a magnesium/silicone hybrid, but all fillers can be crack-resistant if used in the right amount.

To get the best results and resist cracking, it’s best to completely avoid very crack-sensitive materials that are also considered non-weldable. Picking the right filler or addition, while considered the crack sensitivity ranges, is step two. You should pinpoint a filler with a solidification point that’s similar to (or below) that of the base material. Edge preparation choice, root gap to allow for the filler addition, and the creation of a “weld metal chemistry” that’s suitable is also paramount.

Preparing for a Crack-Free Future

Choosing the right filler is just part of the process; you also need to choose one that has additions of grain refiners (i.e. zirconium or titanium). This will best prevent cracks, and complements the makeup of the materials. The actual welding process itself can also be a literal breaking point—utilize the highest welding speed because the faster it’s done, the faster the cooling rate. Basically, the least amount of time you spend in the “hot cracking temperature spectrum,” the better.

When welding, tap into your skill set and use assembling techniques that cut down on restraint, minimize stress and product the cleanest welds possible. A pressure application on the joint during welding can also help to prevent cracks from forming. Generally speaking, sometimes aluminum base alloys are difficult to weld at best—especially for those who aren’t exceptionally well-versed in the properties of the materials. Sometimes arc welding just isn’t possible, and that’s when mechanically joining parts via bolting or riveting is the best approach. No matter which avenue is taken, remember that cracking isn’t “just something you have to live with.” It can be addressed, but it takes knowing the materials and some serious skills to avoid it.

Auto Care Too Scary to Skip

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(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.semi-trailers-2035151_1920.png

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.

 

Repair and Disrepair – When Cars Go Wrong

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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.

garage-943249_1920.jpgOther 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.

Common Windshield Cracks & Chips

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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

child-3593655_1920Crack 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.

windshield-245281_1920Finally, 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).

Finally

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.

5 Signs of a Fantastic Auto Shop

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It takes a lot more than comprehensive repair services to snag the title of best collision repair shop in town. Look for a body shop that has built a reputation based on both excellent results and world-class customer service. Unfortunately, a few bad apples mixed with old stereotypes has customers on their guard when considering mechanic shops. Stigmas about suggesting “repairs” that aren’t needed still linger around the industry, but do your research and you’ll know the shop you choose is trustworthy.

If and when the time comes that you need collision repair or classic car restoration, how can you be sure you’re getting the best? Here are a few signs you’re on the right track. Remember—it’s not just the best price or the most five-star reviews that lead you to the right shop. There’s a lot more to it than that.

  1. Jaw-Dropping Galleries

car-engine-3623831_1920If you really want to see what’s in store for you and your car, check out the shop’s galleries. Look for an impressive online portfolio showcasing the talents and skills of highly qualified technicians. From paintless dent removal to complete overhauls—taking junkers to collector status—there’s no job too big or small. The proof is in the pictures.

  1. They Work With Youglass-1749697_1920

A quality body shop has two priorities: Give the customer exactly what they want and keep them safe. Sometimes repairs are wanted purely for aesthetics. Sometimes they’re necessary to keep drivers safe behind the wheel. True professionals treat both of these priorities equally, which is what you deserve.

  1. Endless Testimonials, Referrals, and Reviews

It’s possible to “buy” positive reviews on third-party sites, so be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true. A genuinely high ranking shop has referrals and testimonials you can fact check if necessary. Our shop has countless happy customers who will gladly share their recommendations and are quick to show off their gleaming ride.

  1. Non-Pushy Staff Members

You shouldn’t feel like you fell into a snake pit when you take your car in for a free estimate. There shouldn’t be any pushy salespeople bullying you to choose them or “upselling” when all you wanted was a quote for a single dent removal. At a good shop, every customer and potential customer is treated like family. The team is there when you need it, never pushing add-ons and always revering transparency.

  1. They’ve Been Around the Block

car-2980039_1920It’s not enough to just go local and avoid the big chains. If you really want a flawless job, choose a company that’s been around for a while. Taking pride in their work, every project is treated with the utmost care.

Trusting your car to just anyone is a big mistake. It’s your baby, your first impression on dates and your go-to vehicle to get from Point A to Point B.