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Showing posts from March, 2011

Mind Your Binders

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Don't let your brakes break  Many different vehicle systems could be classified as important, but there is only one system that gets used all of the time and if it doesn’t work the way it’s supposed too only one time, serious property damage and injury is guaranteed to result. This system is the braking system. Think about how many times you have applied the brakes of your car as you are barreling off of the freeway heading straight towards another car, a pedestrian, or a concrete wall, and your 2 or 3 ton instrument of death and destruction stops effortlessly. The amount of dynamic inertia contained in the movement of the mass of your vehicle is tremendous but you are so used to the brakes working without even thinking about it, that it’s no big deal. So what’s happening when you step on that pedal? Brakes are nothing more than energy converters. The vehicle moving through space is nothing more then kinetic energy, energy in motion. In order for the vehicle to stop we cannot simpl

Be Nice to Your Mechanic

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To help you understand a few things about your personal automotive technician A few things that everyone should remember when they take their car to the repair shop. This post is written for the benefit of the customer, and in defense of the technician and the things that they are trying to do, in order to do a good job and make a decent living. Some things are small such as, not taking your car to the repair shop to have a poor running condition diagnosed and the fuel gauge is on empty. How are they supposed to test drive your car and diagnose it when it’s about to run out of gas? Other things are much bigger, but all of them are things that will help the customer to make the mechanic’s job a little easier. Even though the automobile is a man made machine, the service and repair thereof is not an exact science. Even technicians that are smart and work very hard at what they do, are not clairvoyant, and cannot predict everything, nor catch every problem. Sometimes a problem will requir

Know a Good Mechanic?

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A few things to look out for when picking a technician, in defense of the consumer. If you do, it can really make your life seem peaceful and make the universe seem more balanced. If you don’t, then nothing but pain and despair result anytime there is a problem with your car. Why is it so hard to find a good mechanic? Why does it seem like so many automotive technicians are trying to rip you off? Why is the auto repair industry so messed up? Many reasons can be cited as to why things are the way they are in the auto repair industry. The biggest problem in the auto repair industry is that most auto mechanics don’t really know what they are doing as often as they should. Many mechanics know something about most things, but they lack understanding of the fundamental operation of most vehicle systems. If the general public knew how truly clueless most technicians really are they would be 10 times more afraid then they already are, every time the check engine light comes on. Most technician

Retro and Then What

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Retro styling is something that auto engineers and designers do when they run out of ideas. A vehicle with retro styling is one that is designed to either look like a modern incarnation of its former, and perhaps more glorious self, or it’s a car is designed with styling cues to reflect the styling of the past in a more generic way. Sometimes manufacturers will resurrect a model name just for the sake of nostalgia, or to try and appeal to people who used to buy their products but no longer do. Rather then bringing something back from the past, the auto manufacturers need to worry only about the future. One vehicle that is the poster child for retro styling and all of its problems is the Chrysler PT Cruiser. This little gem was huge for Chrysler when it first hit the market for the 2000 model year. The public flocked to it with their check books open. The PT Cruiser was so well received that dealerships couldn’t keep them in stock, and could often get more than sticker price on the sale

VIN Decoding

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Numbers mean things, and so do letters. The digits that compose the vehicle identification number mean something as well, and some of the information that can be interpreted from the VIN is important to know, especially if you work around cars. Even if the automobile has nothing to do with your work day except for taking you to and from your place of employment, there are still a few things that are interesting about these seemingly uninteresting characters. The current format for the vehicle identification number dates back to 1980 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration mandated that a standard 17 digit format be used on all over the road motor vehicles sold in the U.S. The VIN can be found in a number of different places. The first place where the VIN must always be displayed on any car or truck sold in the U.S. is at the base of the windshield on the driver side of the vehicle. In this position it should always be visible from outside of the vehicle, and it will be

Your Wife's Ride

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The following post might not be serious, but then again maybe it is. Maybe it is something from a guy who knows exactly what he is talking about or maybe it’s something from a husband who has been well trained by a woman who just might be smarter than he. Either way it’s definitely something worth considering. Most married couples have at least two cars. If the couple has children then most of the time the car that the wife drives will also be considered the family car, and the vehicle that the husband drives is the commuter special. Any combination of vehicles is possible. Sometimes the wife drives the family minivan and husband drives a pickup truck. One vehicle is for hauling kids around which is the duty that often falls to the wife, so the minivan is her most practical choice out of the two vehicles. The truck is driven by the husband because it is used for making a run to the home improvement store on the weekend, or it gets used to haul the husband’s toys around. Regardless of w

Life Blood

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Engine oil is critical to the proper function of the internal combustion engine. Calling oil the life blood of the engine is fairly accurate. When oil or oil pressure is lost the engine will be damaged, and damaged quickly if it is working under load. Oil seems like something that is pretty simple and in many ways it is, but so many different types exist, and with recent advances in engine technology and lubrication technology many of the rules have changed. Of all things associated with the automobile there are perhaps more myths surrounding motor oil than anything else. One of the biggest myths is the ‘change your oil every 3000 miles myth, more on this later. Engine oil is necessary in order to keep metal parts from rubbing on other parts. The amount of friction in the engine is tremendous, and without a good lubricant that can stand up to the harsh conditions inside the engine, the heat buildup on the surface of these parts would destroy everything. The crankshaft which bears the b

CNG

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Here we go again. Is this going to be permanent or is it going to be temporary? Either way it’s going to be painful. The pain of which I speak is that pain in your wallet that you feel when you go to the gas station to fill up. Gas prices are not only high, but they are the highest they have ever been for this time of year, ever. Imagine what is going to happen this summer, which is the time of year when the price of a gallon of gas usually reaches its yearly high. Prices north of $4.00 a gallon are not only a certainty but the highest prices ever seen are very likely. What are the alternatives to gasoline powered cars? Well, you could ride a bike, or walk… that will never happen. How about buying a hybrid? That might help somewhat but most likely it will mean getting a car that’s smaller than what you are used to, and any savings on fuel that might be realized on fuel purchase, might not be worth the extra cost of purchasing the car. Hybrids still run on gasoline so you can’t complete