September 29th, 2016
Believe it or not, many new vehicles come without a spare tire. Manufacturers have a few different reasons for that, including weight savings, space efficiency, and cost. When you're stuck by the side of the road, though, none of that really matters much, does it?
Instead, these vehicles come equipped with an inflation kit and/or a can of sealant.
Sealant is a gooey substance in an aerosol can that's designed to coat the inside of the tire due to centrifugal force once you get rolling again, hopefully sealing the puncture. These products, such as Fix-A-Flat, have been on the market for decades and tend to work pretty well on a minor puncture. They're not a permanent fix, however. Your speed should be limited after using ...[more]
September 21st, 2016
Engine problems can quickly get expensive -- here are some signs to watch for.
September 15th, 2016
Buying a used car is somewhat less of a crapshoot than it was at one time. You can get detailed information on a vehicle's history via the CARFAX report, and a technician can use onboard diagnostics to get a good picture of what's going on under the hood and what problems might be coming up.
It's always a good idea to get a mechanic to look over any prospective purchase, but there are things you can get a look at yourself before you spend the money for a professional inspection. These are things which will give you a pretty good idea of the kind of use and maintenance a vehicle has seen before you got it.
-- Put your head against a fender and sight down the side of the vehicle with one eye. Look out for ripples or ...[more]
August 25th, 2016
There are so many tire designs on the road -- all-season, high performance, touring, light truck -- and even within a specific tire design, there may be several choices of tread patterns. What differentiates them, and what are the pros and cons of each tread design?
-- Directional tread has a pattern of grooves and chevron shapes, all pointed in one direction. This design makes it easy to direct water away from the tire's contact patch and prevent hydroplaning in wet weather, and also offers low noise and great road manners. The directional design means tires can only be rotated front-to-rear and not side-to-side or diagonally.
-- Symme ...[more]
August 20th, 2016
Transmission problems never get better on their own...here's a list of trouble signs to watch out for.
August 11th, 2016
For some, the idea of an "organized car" is almost blasphemous, but having your vehicle set up so you can actually find things can be pretty nice. The bigger the vehicle -- minivans, SUVs -- and the more people they haul, the more disorganized they can get. Don't let your minivan turn into a rolling dumpster -- here are some great ideas for keeping it organized.
-- While newer vehicles have come a long way in terms of driver and passenger ergonomics and an abundance of cubbies and cupholders, you can use a simple shower caddy across the back of a seat and make it easier for back seat passengers to keep toys, snacks, and other stuff within easy reach.
-- Doesn't it always seem like you have way, way too many plastic groc ...[more]
July 28th, 2016
The tire is such a commonplace item -- it's on every car, every truck, every bicycle, every aircraft. It's easy to not give the tire a second thought, but like every other technology, the tire has an interesting history of advances and failures.
In the 19th century, carriages and wagons used steel strips for "tires" on their wheels, with the punishing sort of ride that you'd expect. In later years, they were shod with strips of natural rubber, which was an improvement but was still problematic. Solid rubber still rode pretty rough, and the natural, uncured rubber would get gummy in hot weather and shrink and harden in cold temperatures. Charles Goodyear was able to help with the invention of vul ...[more]
July 22nd, 2016
No need to get confused by technical jargon -- here's a brief glossary of terms you'll hear around an auto repair shop.
July 14th, 2016
You go out to your car, start it up, pull out of your parking space and see a puddle of...something...where you were parked a moment ago. This is never a good feeling. What could it be?
Fortunately, some automotive fluids are dyed different colors to make this a little easier to narrow down.
Does it appear to be water? Were you recently running your A/C? Chances are that's just condensation from the A/C system, which drips out through a rubber tube and is perfectly normal. No worries there.
For years, antifreeze was dyed a bright green to make it easy to identify. Today, other antifreeze formulations can be colored pink or orange, but it's still not hard to figure out -- antifreeze has a swe ...[more]
June 30th, 2016
Believe it or not, the A/C system in your vehicle is fairly simple in principle and design. Like your refrigerator, it operates on a cycle of compression and expansion of a gas, known as refrigerant. The compressor turns the gas into a liquid, and as the gas evaporates it provides cooling. Like your refrigerator, its main components are:
- Thermostatic expansion valve
The good news is most automotive A/C systems have become very robust and reliable compared to cars from a generation ago. Most of the time, poor performance is due to low refrigerant levels due to lea ...[more]
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