Tuesday, October 29, 2013

More tips to keep your car in shape

So far we have covered a few large scale tips to help preserve your car. While there are still many more steps that can be taken to keep your car in tip-top shape, let's cover a few smaller details that can sometimes be overlooked. As mentioned in our previous article regarding auto cleanliness, the following tips follow the same theme.

1.      Preserve Door and Window Seals:
Reliable door and window seals are a must during the rainy season. Additionally, a poor seal can also lead to noisy wind whistles during driving. Maintaining door and window seals is an easily overlooked aspect of maintaining our cars. Luckily seals are easy to preserve. Wipe a rubber protectant (such as Armor-All) or silicone on the door and window weatherstripping. Avoid using oil based products such as WD-40 because oil can damage the rubber and worsen your problems. In particularly cold weather, well preserved weatherstripping can help prevent the likelihood of your door sticking to its rubber seal, a common cause of damage to the rubber.

2.      Don't Let Bad Weatherstripping Worsen
If bad weatherstripping is leaking water into the interior of your car it is best to address the issue as soon as possible. Decided whether you can fix a small leak with a brush-on seam sealer or the stripping needs to be replaced. If there are loose sections in the door trim you can re-secure them with trim adhesive. Torn or worn sections of weatherstripping can be preserved with special calking and foam inserts found in automotive stores. If you decide to replace the stripping be sure to buy stripping that is shaped for the model of your car. For information on the proper weatherstripping profile consult your dealership, website, or local automotive store.

3.      Maintain Your Leather
While leather seats are quite durable and require little maintenance throughout the years, they eventually collect dirt. When seats become dry and soiled they can begin to crack and tear, and if this problem is not addressed it can quickly lead to a slippery slope of deteriorating leather. Use a leather cleaner to remove dirt and stains. Then, apply a leather protectant formulated for leather car upholstery. Leather protectants and sealers can make cleaning easier in the future. Furthermore, applying a leather conditioner can help keep your leather soft. 

4.      Maintain Your Upholstry
If your seats are a fabric upholstery you can use the household upholstery cleaners. Use a clean cloth to wipe away foam and scrub the fabric. Applying a fabric protectant, such as Scotchguard, will make seats more resistant to dirt and stains and make them easier to clean in the long run. Be sure to test your product in an inconspicuous area to be sure it does not discolor your fabric.

5.      Place A Towel and Plastic Under Baby Seats
Let's face it, if you have children chances are car upholstery and leather will get soiled. All manners of food and liquids can accumulate under baby seats and permanently stain upholstery. Furthermore, maintaining car seats may be the last thing on your mind at the end of the day. Luckily, this can be avoided by simply placing a sheet of heavy plastic (e.g. a garbage bag) and an absorbent towel under the seat first. Then when your children graduate from college you might consider removing the protective barrier to reveal a nice clean car seat.

Thanks for reading and check back shortly for more automotive insight!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fixing up vs Buying New

Some might say that the best way to save money on cars is to keep and care for the ol' clunker and drive it until the drops. However, after some point, this becomes untrue; the money you save from not buying a new car is being eaten up by the costs associated with keeping the old one on the road. Whether to fix up or buy new is up to you, but here are some points to help you make an informed decision.

For fixing up:
  • Except for the most disastrous of damages, repairs are almost always cheaper than buying an entirely new car. You might be able to buy a used car for a few thousand dollars, but keep in mind that a used car comes with its own set of issues.
  • Insurance premiums, registration fees, and personal-property taxes go up with new cars, and your financial situation might not be ideal.
  • New cars depreciate drastically within its first couple years on the road. Your old car has already taken the hit.
  • Everyone has a little sentimental attachment to their old cars. Perhaps it was your dream car, or your first car, or a gift from a beloved family member; your car can be like an old friend, associated with unforgettable memories of journeys long gone, and that can be something that is difficult to give up.
For buying a new car:
  • You don't have to worry about future breakdowns, or at least not for a while. 
  • Trips to the mechanic cost you not only a hefty sum of money, but it also eats away at time better spent on work, friends, and family.
  • You're tired of your old car and ready for a change. Perhaps it looks like it's scratched and banged up like it's gone through a war, or it rattles like it's about to fall apart at the next trip to the store, or you have to bang on A/C to get it to work. 
  • You want something safer, since new cars come the the most up-to-date safety features and equipment (side airbags, tire-pressure monitors, electronic stability control, and more). 
  • A nicer looking car might could potentially boost your credibility in the eyes of your clients, for certain professions such as lawyers or salesmen.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How To Protect Your Aluminum Wheels

            Wheels come in many different size, shapes, colors, and prices. However, what most people forget about when maintaining their car is maintaining their wheels. Keeping your wheels clean and corrosion free is just as important as maintain other parts of your car.
            Most original equipment manufacture's aluminum wheels are painted with a clear coat for corrosion resistance. To maintain this clear coat you can used any wax product that is formulated for base coats or clear coat finished. Additionally, there are specially formulated waxes designed for alloy wheels. However, DO NOT use any wax or polish that contains abrasives. The abrasives in chrome polish, rubbing compound, and restorative waxes will scratch and dull the clear coat on aluminum wheels.
            For those of you whose wheels are not as new as you'd like them to be, don't fret. There are wheel polish kits that can help restore dirty and rusted rims. Using a fine steel wool brush, wheel polishing compound, and a little bit of elbow grease you can remove surface oxide and anything that is remaining of the old clear coat finish. Once your wheels are looking shiny and clean you can re-apply a durable clear coat epoxy or paint, thus protecting your wheels from future damage.
            Road debris and salts can quickly corrode and pit unprotected aluminum wheels. Over extended durations of exposure, corrosion can cause more permanent irreversible damage to the wheels. Using some sort of wax, sealer or paint can protect your wheels from the elements.
            Another problem that may not seem so apparent to owners is aluminum wheels' ability to “weld” itself to another piece of metal. When Aluminum is in contact with a steel brake or drum rotor, the difference in metal compositions can lead to an electrolytic corrosion. As a result the aluminum literally becomes stuck to the steel wherever it comes in contact for a long period of time. This is really not an issue that should concern you on a daily basis as it can take quite a long time to occur. Furthermore, OEMs usually apply a clear coat on the aluminum that prevents this from happening. Another alternative to prevent electrolysis is to apply a light coat of silicone or synthetic break grease to the back of the wheel where it comes in contact with the rotor or drum.
            Ultimately, taking a little time to touch up your wheels now and then can save you the trouble of unsightly rusted and dirty wheels. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

All About Motor Oil

What type of motor oil is best for my engine?
            The short answer to this question is, the type specified by the vehicle manufacturer in your owner's manual. For most passenger vehicles, almost any oil that meets the American Petroleum Institute's ratings can suffice, be they synthetic or petroleum based. However, there are many reasons why one might choose a certain oil viscosity over another.

Oil Viscosity
            The oil viscosity required by vehicles depends on the climate the vehicle is being driven in. For example if your car is constantly in very hot weather a slightly thicker oil may be suggested to stand up against the heat. Conversely, a thick oil would not be recommended in colder climates where it may be more prone to freezing. Most new engines today require a multi-viscosity oil. This means  the oil is a mixture of both thin oil and thick oil. Because there is a mixture of oil viscosity they are more suited for all-round driving. Some options for multi-viscosity oils are listed here, from less thick to more thick, [5W-30], [10W-30], [10W-40], [20W-40].
            Lighter oils such as [ 5W-30 ] contain friction reducing additives that help improve fuel economy and also allow the oil to quickly reach critical upper valve-train components when a cold engine is first started. It is important for this lighter oil to quickly reach engine components because engine wear is most prominent during cold temperature starts.
            Thicker oils such as [40w] work well in very hot weather or engines that sustain a long period of drive time. The thicker oil can hold up better under high temperatures, increases oil pressure and reduces oil consumption in high mileage engines.

Synthetic Oils
            For the most effective protection, durability and all around performance, synthetic oils are recommended. However, because these oils are man-made and not refined from petroleum their superior performance comes at a slightly higher price.
            Synthetic oils can withstand higher operating temperatures, up to 450 degrees, compared to petroleum based oils, which only operate up to 300 degrees. Therefore, synthetics are well suited for high output engines and turbo applications.
            Conversely, synthetics work just as well at sub zero temperatures. Where ordinary oils would normally freeze at 40 or 50 degrees below zero, synthetics flow freely making them easier for cold starts. There is no need to worry about engine wear as the synthetic oil can quickly provide upper valve-train lubrication.
            Another strong selling point of synthetic oils is their ability to resist oxidation and viscosity breakdown. As a result oil change intervals can be safely extended without break down or sludge up. However, one should note that failing to follow the Original Equipment Manufacture's scheduled change intervals could void the vehicles warranty.
            Ultimately the premium-priced oil is best for turbocharged or supercharged engines, performance or high output engines, vehicles used for towing, vehicles operated in extremely hot or cold climates, or those who want superior lubrication and protection.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Even more tips to keep your car in great shape

We have now covered large and small tips, inside and out, but there is always more to be done. Let's continue striving towards our goal of keeping our car in top-notch shape by adding some exterior maintenance tips to our repertoire.

1.      Protect car paint from the sun:
There are many factors that contribute to the decomposition of paint but there are also many precautions that can be taken to prolong the wear and tear of your ride. While a great paint job is aesthetically pleasing, it does more than just appeal to you eyes. It acts as a first line of defense against rusted body panels. The easiest and most effect means of protection is to park your car in a garage when available. When you are away from home note that parking in shade can also be effective. The sun's ultraviolet rays increase the rate at which your paint job will deteriorate. If the garage is not an option, protective car covers can be used. These covers also work nicely because they can protect your car from bird droppings, dust, moisture, sun, and sometimes light impacts.

2.      Touch up scratches as soon as possible:
Be sure to keep some matching touch up paint in your glove box or at home to touch up any minor scratches or nicks. Unattended scratches that expose the underlying sheet metal of your car can quickly become rusted. When rust forms touch up paint won't adhere well to the rust. If rust does occur you may need to seek a professional automotive touch up painter.

3.      Fixing Windshield Chips:
Windshields occasionally acquire chips and cracks from rocks and other road debris. Often, these chips and cracks start small but can quickly grow larger and begin to run the length of you windshield. If however you notice a crack or chip in your windshield you can take it into a repair shop to be fixed. Repairing your windshield can prevent cracks from growing and cost far less than replacing the entire windshield.

4.      Use tape on light covers:
If you notice a cracked external light cover a bit of tape can help save you some trouble. If left unattended the light compartment can fill with water and moisture and cause additional damage. Use the red or orange tape designed for this purpose found in automotive stores.

5.      Keep an old blanket Handy:

If you often carry loads on the roof of your car keeping an old blanket in your trunk can come in handy. Laying the blanket down on your roof before tying down luggage, bicycles, or Christmas trees can help protect your rooftop from all sorts of scratches.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Paint Protection Film

Chances are you probably haven't heard the term Paint Protection Film (PPF) thrown around too often. However, you probably have seen this unique thermoplastic urethane clear film before. Initially designed to protect military helicopter blades, this protective film has now made its way into the hands of the everyday consumer.

If you haven't heard of PPF before chances are you have seen it already because it has become a popular cell phone protection screen. But, did you know PPF can also be found on sections of your new car? Original equipment manufacturers have begun placing PPF in certain vulnerable areas of the car (e.g. leading edges of a car, hoods, front/rear bumpers).

Paint Protection Film helps maintain the beauty and integrity of automotive finish. This urethane film is significantly durable and even helps protect paint from stone chips, scratches, weathering, acidic bug damage and other abrasions. The film is nearly completely invisible and does not alter the appearance of the vehicle. Furthermore, after the Paint Protection Film had taken an extensive beating, it can easily be removed and replaced with a new film. The benefits of this film are instantly apparent as the integrity and resilience of the automotive paint job are intact and in great condition. Additionally, the benefits can be seen in the long run as maintaining the paint job can increase trade in value of your car.

Finally, it is exciting to note that Paint Protection Film is being manufactured and cut for thousands of car makes, models, and years. Additionally, film is being cut to mold to more sections of the car thus protecting more than just the leading edges and vulnerable places. Now you can rest assured knowing that there is another durable means of protecting your vehicle.

You can order Paint Protection Film from manufactures online and install the film yourself or find a certified application shop. The application process is consumer friendly and there are many videos and instructions provided by manufacturers. There are also alternative protective films that can be applied by spray bottles. For more information ask your local dealership about Paint Protection Film or enter Paint Protection Film into your favorite search engine.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Automatic Transmission Fluid Service

Do You Need An Automatic-Transmission Fluid Service?

Does your vehicle's automatic transmission experience:
  • Hard Shifting
  • Slippage or Chatter
  • Frequent Trailer Towing
  • High Operating Temperatures
  • Late or Infrequent A.T.F. Services? 
The Problem
More than one-third of all transmission problems are caused by fluid breakdown. More than just a lubricant, Automatic-Transmission Fluid (ATF) is actually a vital component in the operation of an automatic transmission. Under normal use, heat and friction in the transmission are a catalyst for oxidation and acid buildup. The result is the formation of sludge and varnish deposits in the system.
Once this process starts, these contaminates along with eroded metal particles, can build up in critical areas and clog filters, restricting the flow of transmission fluid. Traditional ATF services only remove about 30% of the old, oxidized fluid, leaving behind large amounts of contaminants and debris. If the transmission is not serviced properly, serious malfunction or even system failure can occur, causing costly repairs.
To learn more about the condition of your transmission look closely at the fluid on the dipstick.

Condition of Fluid
  • Dark Color
  • Varnished or Tacky
  • Pink, Milky Color
  • Metal Particles in Fluid
  • Burnt Odor

Possible Cause
  • Clutch-Pack Slippage
  •  Overheating
  • Water/Coolant Contamination
  • Internal Damage
  • Transmission Overheating and/or Slippage
An experienced technician, using a specially designed machine, will perform an Automatic-Transmission-System Fluid Exchange Service. First, ATF Cleaner is added to the old fluid system to clean and suspend residue, wear particles and varnish deposits. The vehicle's automatic transmission system is then attached to the machine.

The machine evacuates the contaminated fluid from the entire system, including the torque converter, housing, cooler and lines. Simultaneously, new, clean, ATF is introduced into the system. To complete the service, ATF Supplement is added to help fortify new fluid, resist oxidation breakdown, and keep seals soft and pliable.

An ATF service can help to:
  • Extend Transmission Life
  • Revitalize Seals & O-Rings
  • Reduce Hard Shifting & Slippage
  • Avoid Costly Repairs