Car and SUV Winterization

Protecting your pride and joy and one of your largest investments this winter. The automobile has become an extension of its owners personality as well as representing a huge chunk of our hard earned income. Lets face it, as Americans we love our cars. We want them to look good, cruise smoothly and last a long time. Then of course there is the weather. Man is constantly adapting to his environment and adjusting to his climate. We put stuff on the roads so we can drive in any weather without fear of becoming the next human driven hockey puck.

During the Winter Months different agencies apply different things to the roads to keep them drivable like salt, sand and chemicals such as de-icing chemicals, which are environmentally friendly but can destroy a regular wax job. Magnesium Sulfate works great to keep cars from sliding into the guardrails and ditches, but it plays hell on an automobiles finish. With rust and corrosion threatening to destroy your investment and reduce the value of your car by thousands of dollars the stakes become high. We may not be able to control the weather quite yet, but we can give you the tips from years of experience and industry knowledge to help you minimize your risk, fight back against jack frost and work with mother nature to co-exist and cruise successfully through winter. How can you win the war on winter?

Winter is coming and will soon be in full swing. Roads will be packed with vacationers and outdoor sports aficionados. You and your car need to be ready. We know from experience that bare metal will rust when exposed to moisture and harsh elements. Take a look around your car, are there paint chips? Even small chips can allow moisture to get underneath your cars finish and work its way all the way through the metal. Holes in your car needless to say will not improve your chances for good resale value. And if your car is on a lease they will be hitting you hard on its return. There are several things you can do to take care of these chips now. To find a chip repair person go to Paint Bull’s website and find one of their 500 mobile chip repair dealers. If you have a fiberglass body or a primarily plastic car such as a Saturn it may not be as critical if you have a chip or two.

Every car that drives through harsh winter climates needs some type of undercoating. There are many options. You can go down to your local auto parts store, buy a can of undercoating and spray it on yourself or you can go to any auto detailing company and have it done for about $80-100. There are a few detailing companies who have a number of stores throughout the country as well as mobile units, which can provide this undercoating for you. You can also go ziebart’s website, they have 216 stores Nationwide. They have been closing stores at a fast rate of about 30 per year. They charge about $200-300 and will touch up the undercoating job free each year. They use this as a gimmick to get you in their store next year to sell you more stuff. Their guarantee is of questionable value since if the store closes then who will do the guarantee wok. Another problem with the lifetime guarantee is that most people do not own their cars for their entire life.

If you own a truck or a cargo van you may consider a lining. There are a few different types of linings. Rhino Lining at Rhino Lining Wesbite has a rubber like lining. An average bed runs about $300. There is Line X, which is a harder liner at Line-X website and Permatech which has a really good liner that is between the hard Line X liner and the softer a Rhino Lining. All these brands have hundreds of franchisees and dealers. You can conveniently search their websites to find a location near you. The going rate is around $300 for an 8 ft bed and you can negotiate a little with your local dealer.

What can you do to protect your cars paint? Several things. It is important to understand the different types of wax and how they perform against salt spray tests. Carnauba the most popular wax name amongst consumers, will not hold up well under harsh salt conditions, de-icing wetted areas or on magnesium chloride soaked roads. It does however work well against roads, which have been covered, with sand. Teflon and silicone waxes do not work well in any of these conditions or in colder climates.

So what is the best modern wax for these Winter environments? Polymers work best, but are usually put on in a liquid form and therefore goes on in thinner coats. It may take several coats to insure that the protection last longer than three months. It is best to put on several coats and then re-apply in three months. If you do not feel that you want to do this yourself you can call several companies that provide onsite service at home or office. National Detail Systems has over 300 dealers.

Ask for polymer wax and ask for a multiple coat discount. Expect to pay $65-90 plus $15-25 for each additional coat from National Detail Dealers. It will vary significantly from dealer to dealer. The Car Wash Guys have standard pricing and charge $35 for an exterior polymer coat and charge $10 for additional coats. Many car washes also have express detailing service starting at anywhere from $35-55. To get a listing of car washes and the new J.D. Powers Car Club website. This site is quite helpful. The website will give you a map to the nearest carwash based on the zip code you put in. You can print it out and drive down and get your car waxed. Fixed site carwashes vary so much from operator to operator it is hard to say what additional coats might cost, it may even depend on the day of the week you go, which manager is working and how busy they are that day. You should try to go on a Tuesday.

You may wish to put a protective coating on your cars carpets. The very popular product ScotchGuard was taken off the market this year due to environmental problems in manufacturing and is no longer available. Blue Coral does make a similar aerosol product although not as good as the former 3M leading brand. With new genetic woven splicing of nylon into cotton plants we are seeing a new breed of interior carpeting in vehicles. It is more durable easier to clean and holds up well under multiple steam cleaning passes. Perhaps a simple plastic cover over the carpets might be your best bet. Most modern day min-vans come standard with plastic covers and if yours did not, you can buy plastic covers for next to nothing at any auto parts store.

There are also some very high tech solutions to automotive protection. For window glass there is a hydrophobic treatment called Diamon Fusion. It prevents chips in the window and allows you to drive in heavy rain without use of wipers. A simple solution may be RainX, which can be purchased at any auto parts store for about $5. All of the companies listed in this article can also put on RainX for you. Be sure to ask them to apply it to the interior windows also because it prevents unnecessary fogging when you do not have your defroster set exactly right. The coating industry has evolved and out of the NASA Space Program came a glass coating used on the tiles on the bottom of the Space Shuttle, which can be put on at room temperature. It is put on 2 to 4 milimeters thick. Glass of course is impervious to moisture.

This new revolution in ceramic technology is also being perfected by the Japanese. PP&G, the leading automotive paint company, is also on the cutting edge of this new field and we may soon have a new and more advanced clear coat for cars for the 21st century. That is the good news. We may see a new clear coat for cars coming out which will make waxes obsolete in the next few years. The bad news is that for now there is no substitute for waxes, coatings and undercoating. You can pay now or pay later. You really should consider protecting your investment. If you neglect to take this opportunity to plan your winterizing strategy, Mother Nature already has a plan of her own and she is coming soon.

Many people are only going to keep their car for two years on a lease and then trade it in for a new model. So if there are no chips in the paint, you may only need a single coat of polymer wax and new windshield wiper blades before Winter. If you are going to keep your car for many years however protect your investment against the inevitable Winter. Please realize that most manufacturers warranties on bodies and paint do not cover salt or environmental damage. If you pay attention to these simple things you can cruise through winter with no problems providing your tires dont get recalled and you can still afford the gas.

Basic Wheel Concepts: Guide in Buying Replacement Car Wheels

Wheels are among the most vital parts in the car. They are the

ones that keep it moving and thus, they are indispensable in a

vehicle. The size and the quality of the wheels significantly

affect your ride quality and handling so always make sure they

are in perfect shape and condition. Taking care of them is a

must so as not to sacrifice your vehicle’s performance. They

also need special attention since they are closest to the road;

hence, they are exposed to a lot corrosion-causing elements.

Aside from contributing to ride quality and handling abilities,

the wheels can also make the car look better and a lot

sportier. People have always been concerned with how their

vehicles should look and thus they replace or customize some of

the parts to make it different from the rest on the road. The

wheels are among those that are often replaced to achieve their

desired appearance. Accessories are also added to the wheels,

such as the hub caps and wheels covers. These auto accessories

are designed to match the user’s various driving needs and

moods.

In buying replacement wheels

for your car, there are important things you need to know,

especially if you are new to driving. You cannot just choose

any kind of wheel in lieu of the original wheel of your car.

There are different wheel specifications for every kind of

vehicle and car model since suspension design varies from one

vehicle to another. Take note that the wheels work hand in hand

with the suspension system whose job is to keep the tires in

tight contact with the road as the vehicle turns, brakes or is

driven down the road without sacrificing comfort of the

passengers.

Three aspects of the wheels are relevant to the suspension

design: wheel offset, aspect ratio, and tire width. All these

should be considered in choosing the best replacement wheels

for your vehicle.

Offset refers to the distance from the very center of the wheel

to the mounting surface of the wheel disc at the hub. Wheel

offset can be positive, negative or zero. A “0” offset means

that the mounting surface of the wheel is in the center of the

wheel. This measurement is very important in positioning the

tire. This also provides for adequate dual spacing.

Aspect ratio is the ratio between the width of the tire and the

height of its side wall. A tire specified as “205/60/15” for

example, has a width of 205mm and 60% aspect ratio. The “15”

refers to the size of the wheel to which it is fitted. You

shouldn’t buy wheels or tires with lower aspect ratio than what

is required because this will wear them out easily as ride

quality will deteriorate. However, this could also result to

more precision in turning.

You might be thinking of getting wider wheels to give your car

a racing car look. Better think about this again. While is it

true that wider wheels and tires can give your car a chunk of

gutsy looks, they can also ruin your driving satisfaction. This

is because the weight of the vehicle would not be evenly spread

over the wheel and tire width. Resistance is also increased,

thus you wheels and tires could wear out fast.

If you want to know more about car wheels, you can search for

car enthusiasts’ sites that feature different kinds of wheels

or go to the car manufacturer’s site and check out your car

model’s wheel specifications.

How to Buy a Quality Car Seat – Seven Tips

Car seats are mandatory baby equipment. I know that you’ll be tempted to cuddle your little bundle in your arms while driving, but please don’t! It’s just too dangerous and besides that, against the law.

Here are seven tips to buying a quality car seat for your child…

1. Buy a quality car seat. Make sure that the seal of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety is present on it. Make sure it’s constructed well with no sharp edges or loose parts.

2. Look for a car seat with travel system. The seat, infant carrier and stroller are all part of one convenient unit.

3. Make sue that you check for safety recalls. There are many safety recalls on car seats yearly. You don’t want to purchase one of those!

4. Choose cloth. It is generally more easily cleaned and is more comfortable.

5. Be positive that you choose the correct size. A small baby could slip out of a seat that is too large for him. It’s important that tiny babies under 20 pounds ride only in rear-facing seat. Only after the child is over 20 pounds should he be switched to front-facing seat.

6. Choose a car seat that has been given good reviews by other parents. Many online stores allow people to post reviews about their purchases. Why not check these out to see what other parents have to say?

7. Don’t use a used car seat unless you are able to borrow it and try it first. You want to make very sure that the parts are still functioning well, so your baby will be safe.

Proper child restraints are important. You don’t want to find that out the hard way.

Remanufactured Transmissions Vs Rebuilt and Used Transmissions

Transmissions can sometimes be very costly to repair if they require a complete rebuild. When they require a rebuild, you are often asked to spend quite a bit of money to have a problem fixed that you probably don’t understand very well.

Transmission Repair Cost

Getting an accurate price quote for a remanufactured or rebuilt transmission is important. There are many different types of transmissions and each type requires different parts and different rebuild kits.

When a transmission requires an overhaul, there are generally three options that you have. The first is to remove your existing transmission and rebuild it, then put the same, newly rebuilt unit back in your car. The second option is to replace your existing unit with a remanufactured transmission. The third is to replace your existing unit with a used transmission.

Rebuild / Rebuilt Transmission

In an overhaul typically done at a transmission shop (also known as rebuilding a transmission), the transmission is removed from the vehicle and completely disassembled with the parts laid out on a workbench. Each hard part is inspected for wear and damage and then either cleaned in a special cleaning solution, or replaced with another part depending on its condition. Parts that have friction surfaces, such as bands and clutches are replaced as are all seals and gaskets. The torque converter is also replaced, usually with a remanufactured one. Upgrades are typically performed to fix any original design defects from the year of manufacture. Automobile manufacturers often make upgrade kits available to transmission shops to resolve these design defects.

Remanufactured Transmission

The remanufacturing process brings a transmission back to as “new” as possible (original equipment). Most internal transmission parts are replaced and any worn parts are brought back to original production specifications. Technical service bulletins are checked and performed. The remanufactured transmission is fully tested and usually comes with a 3 year or longer warranty. There are several brands of remanufactured transmissions sold by auto parts stores and repair shops.

Used / Junkyard Transmissions

Used transmissions normally have high miles and no guarantees. Added to that, the exact make, model, engine size and computer coded transmission has to be installed in your vehicle. Many times, you will be responsible for the labor costs (several hundred dollars) and fluid costs (around $50) of removal and reinstallation if the first unit does not work properly. For every unit that does not work properly, the costs of installing a junkyard unit will double. If the unit is found to have high mileage (there is no way to tell), the unit will fail at any time.

Choosing An Option

When choosing an option, try to be as informed as possible. There are many honest transmission shops and remanufactured transmission companies. But just remember one last piece of information: “Cheaper is not always better”.

Buying Auto Parts Online

Purchasing auto parts online can be economical, and you can even choose from among a wide selection of used and reconditioned parts that are practically as good as new to save even more money. Whether you need to replace larger items like transmissions or differentials, or small details such as taillights or hood ornaments, you can find virtually any auto parts you may need online.

When it comes to buying a car, there are really only two strategies to choose from. First, you can buy or lease a new car and then trade it in every two or three years for the latest year model. Alternatively, you can purchase a car and drive it for 7 to 10 years to “get your money’s worth from it.”

Obviously, the most economical of these choices for most people will be to keep your car for a number of years, instead of constantly trading in for the latest model — and losing money in the process. But keeping your car for an extended length of time means that you will have to be vigilant about its upkeep, and from time to time you will likely have to replace some parts and have other maintenance and repairs performed.

But when it comes to replacing auto-parts, anyone who has visited a mechanic lately can tell you that costs have skyrocketed. Auto parts, and especially original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, auto-parts can be prohibitively expensive for many makes and models. As a general rule, the more exotic or expensive your car is to begin with, the more expensive the replacement parts will be.

This is especially true if you purchase auto parts from the original manufacturer. But there are several solutions to the high cost of replacing auto-parts. For example, you can choose to purchase so-called third-party parts online. These are auto-parts made by other companies, not the automaker; and they are normally quite a bit less expensive than buying OEM parts.

Third party parts are readily available for nearly any model of car or truck, and often the price difference will be substantial. For example, replacing a radiator for a standard American-made sedan can cost as much as $800 if you purchase original equipment manufacturer parts. But when you buy a replacement radiator for the same car from a third-party manufacturer, it is possible to pay as little as $250. Obviously, that’s a huge savings, and something you will definitely want to consider the next time you need to replace auto-parts for your vehicle.

But there is another option as well: used auto-parts are available to fit most American and foreign made cars. Used or “reconditioned” parts are often sold for a fraction of the price of new, and in most cases they are just as reliable to use.

Although you can find used auto-parts at specialty dealers, auto shops and parts stores, by far the best prices are to be found online. There are several big-name auto-parts stores online that specialize in used or reconditioned parts. Most of these sites have an easy to use search function that will allow you to see if they have the part you need in only a second.

This will save you an enormous amount of time over the “old way” of doing things: driving all over town and asking if the part is available at each different location you hit. For this reason, buying auto parts online is much more convenient and can also save you a great deal of money.