Category Archives: maintenance

Hazy Headlamps

I have noticed that many of the cars on the road have inadequate head lites and this is being caused by cloudy headlight lenses. Since 1990 many cars have polycarbonate lenses. This is a clear plastic that will survive an impact, better then glass, as it bounces back upon impact. The problem with polycarbonate is it will yellow and cloud from UV exposure. A number of products are available to repair this haze. All the products work pretty much the same not unlike using rubbing compound on paint. Clean it and then polish. Depending upon the severity it can take several minutes to under a half hour and with the cost of replacement it is time well spent. A drill is almost a necessity, there are claims it can be done by hand by some manufactures, but I doubt this. I have heard of using rubbing compound and polish for the same results but I have not tried it and I would not suggest it.If the assembly has a leak IE crack or hole and has corroded on the inside it will require replacement I would recommend used, and after the clunker program, I have read there are a ton of used body parts. FYI Mequirs has a plastic polish that will work if the lenses are not too bad. I have used it to just clean up lenses both tail, park and headlamp. It really puts a nice finishing touch on a cleanup actually it is amazing what it does to make a car look sharp. It will also work on bug deflectors. Turtle wax has a new product that is wax and a light rubbing compound that works great with very few swirls.

Hands Free Toys

Ford motor Co. along with Microsoft have developed Sync which allows voice commands to receive cell calls and text messages along with MP3 control. I am against texting and cell phone use in general while driving even hands free distracts and they all should be made illegal. I don’t know how many times I have followed a car that failed to use its turn signals because the drivers did not have enough hands to steer hold the cell and operate the turn signals. Ford is working on a number of improvements to this system but is the public willing to pay extra for them. The sync by itself is $395 and is installed on about 70% of their vehicles. It is standard on many hi line models and Ford feels it helps sell the more expensive, and more profitable, models. With voice activated GPS, and cell phones along with other toys on the market I am surprised this is as successful as it is when you are able to customize your options, at a lesser cost, but I imagine the fact it is built in is a huge selling factor. Kia is announcing a Microsoft based system next year. Kia has been selling well and keeping the cost down has been a factor behind this. I don’t know if I would stray from a successful business model in this economic climate. Everyone is looking for the edge that will put them ahead of the competition without a significant increase in cost.

Weekend Project

This is one of those weekends where you came to the realization that all the summer projects that were not done by Labor Day probably will not get done till next year. It is too early to tear up the gardens and flower beds, too late to start painting the house.So take this time to learn about your vehicles before the weather turns nasty. If you bought a new one it is time to see where all the fluids are checked, many new vehicles do not have a transmission dipstick and some have the battery under the back seat, on many the oil dipstick is even hard to find. This is all a result of a crowded engine compartment. If you have the same vehicles check the fluids have you been lack in servicing check the coolant does it need flushing, how does the PS and brake fluid look, a check of the tranny fluid and don’t forget the washer fluid. Take a walk around check the tires, if they look worn it is time to replace. I don’t believe in the penny theory that is really close to no tread at all. Check the lites and wiper blades. Get out the hose and wash the wheel wells and engine or better yet take it to the pressure wash, be careful under the hood you may get water in a connector if you are slight on auto knowledge maybe best to stick with the hose in the engine compartment. Look on the bright side you will stay busy for awhile so the woman in your life won’t mention the honey do list. Having 4 vehicles I can usually make this a 2 day affair.


Rain-X has a new application system out. It is like a bar of soap or deodorant so it is easier to apply then the spray, which I always put on uneven, and ended up with streaks. The new system also has a buffing towel to finish the application, so it is a lot easier to use. The new system is a breeze to apply compared to the old. Rain-X has been around for years many race car drivers use Rain-X instead of wipers and they seem to have no problems. Before applying Rain-X be certain you have a clean windshield. I use bon-ami it does a super job and there is no fear of scratching as with many other products. While you are at check the wipers and washer system we are not that far from sloppy roads

Expensive Autos

Some say we are in a recession but that was not the case at Pebble Beach. The most prestigious car show in the world, in my opinion, there was top dollar paid for some rare cars. 2.5 mil for a 52 Jaguar C-type 5.1 mil 62 Ferrari 2.7 for a 58 Ferrari but top dollar still goes to a good old American muscle car 7.6 for a 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe . There were only 6 made by the man himself Carroll Shelby.I just cannot believe the money some of these vehicles are bringing, the odd thing is the Corvettes and some of the other cheaper collector cars are going for a lot less then top dollar. One that seems to hold its value is the Cuda and Challenger of the 70s vintage. Of course I only see the vettes and others on TV so it is hard to tell if they are in excellent shape or not, mainly with the Corvette and small cracks, as they tend to have do not show up on TV. An invitation to Pebble Beach would be nice but my letter of credit would not cover the cost of the invite.

Car Shopping

My wife has been looking at a new vehicle recently and I have to say I have been disappointed in what we have seen. I won’t buy new as I hate the depreciation the first couple years. She at first was interested in a Buick Rainer A really nice SUV but a little bigger then what she had in mind and it has no third seat, it is not offered as an option it did have an excellent ride and was very quiet. We have 4 grandchildren in town and she hoped to have room for them all. Next was the Buick Rendezvous, it has a third seat but neither the rear nor third seat should be called seats as they are so small and tight, and it rode like a truck. We also drove a Lexus and a Mercedes and we were very disappointed in them both. Nothing I could put my finger on I just was not impressed with them for the money they wanted for them. She bought a Pontiac Bonneville 2005 with 35K and every option available it is very similar in ride to the Rivera she is dumping. They are both excellent road cars with great gas mileage. This will be our 3rd Bonneville. I won’t drive it that much but I look forward to the heated seats this winter. I don’t know which my grandfather would hit the roof higher over heated seats or buying bottled water. The automotive sales game has changed a lot since I was last involved with it. No more high pressure in fact one salesman never even gave us a card just told us to ask for grandpa. Most just gave us the keys and said come back whenever. One had so little gas we didn’t have much of an option. Most cars we looked at we in very good shape and well prepared for sale there are a ton of vehicles out there with over a 100K.

High Mileage Vehicles

Many of the vehicles listed for sale that have high mileage often say it is mostly highway miles. Does this make a difference in the life of the vehicle? When you ask a tech it is like asking them which oil, tool brand or blonde brunette or redhead they prefer. It does cause less wear and tear on the doors and the interior and the brake system but as far as the engine goes there are several factors that come into play. Cold starts are when most of the engine wear occurs but synthetic oil eliminates a lot of this wear. Also the service or TLC in general the vehicle has had plays a major role in the life of the vehicle. Most drivers that put on a lot of miles tend to take better care of their vehicles as they want them to last and a breakdown would cost them valuable time. So it would play a role in the purchasing decision but many other items should also be considered. Cars with high mileage are usually used in business so most of the expenses are deductible and the owner should be able to provide a record of service. I tend to buy a car a I like and live with the repairs, my Bonneville has a new GM engine that runs great but the rest of the car is having problems, water pump, alternator, wheel bearing Etc. My is presently looking at a 2005 Bonneville and it is a nice ride, thought she wanted a SUV but she likes the Pontiac.


Should you use synthetic products in place of the present lubricants? If there is a compatible product available then the answer is yes. If you have an older 4X4 then I would definitely replace the lube in the differential and transfer case the transmission is a matter of personal choice, the jury is out if synthetics will displace heat as well as transmission fluid, if you have a cooler or do not do heavy hauling then this is not a problem. I use Lube Gard,, increases the ability of transmission fluid to dissipate heat, in all my vehicles and do not use synthetic in the transmission. My 4X4 Dodge Dakota has a slight leak at the transfer case and I know synthetic would only make it worse, also I drive it only on occasion, or else I would change it. The differentials are synthetic. Synthetics will not in all cases increase a leak but it will in some cases IE the metal to metal seal on the transfer case split. First check your owner’s manual for the fluid that the manufacture recommends then go to the synthetic of choice web site and check that there a is a product available as a replacement. I binged, I use this instead of Google, and found the majority sites were Amzoil. I do not use Amzoil as it is hard to find in my area. Mobil one would be my choice. A little more money than most but they have the most experience and the largest product line. There are also some synthetic products available from the manufacturer. I would search the web for these as they are cheaper than from your local dealer. I would also check with the dealer if the vehicle is still in warranty to be sure this would not affect the it. When you first change the fluid in any gear driven part of the drive line you may at first hear a slight increase in gear noise. This is caused by a film on the gears from the old lube and this prevents the synthetic from adhering to the gear as it moves out of the fluid. This will go away in a very short period and if it does not then add a high pressure lube additive this will also help with a differential whine with regular fluid. If you rebuild a differential and replace the ring and pinion I do not recommend synthetic as a refill. The gears are self polishing from the metal particles in the lube and synthetic will not hold these in suspension. Synthetic can be installed after 3 or 4 thousand miles. Many of you who read this on a regular will be surprised by my mentioning several additives and I will explain this in greater detail at a later time.

How Not To Sell A Car

I hate selling cars. Actually I hate cars in general. I’m horrible at them, I don’t understand them, and I don’t do a good job of taking care of them. Luckily, I’ve been blessed the last few years by the gods of Japan, a.k.a. Nissan. I did nothing right for 6 years straight and this little thing held strong.I think it’s important as bloggers to admit when we suffer “epic” fail. I occasionally fall into the habit of preaching from a soap box (a.k.a. yesterday), but every now and then I take the time to step up and admit I suck. I sucked today. I just got lucky. I like being lucky.You can’t run a car into the ground for 6 years, ignoring check engine lights, changing oil, slowly leaking tires, broken headlights, and impending rust and expect to make a big profit when you sell. After all the car has 240,000 miles. How much longer can this thing go?Did I mention we waited until the last minute, threw up a rough ad (good picture thanks to wife, though), and just kind of closed our eyes? We thought we’d be lucky to get $1000. Actually we said told ourselves we’d take anything over $1000 and run. We put it up for $1500 “or best offer” (mistake). I was flooded with calls asking all kinds of questions, especially “what’s the lowest you’ll take”. I literally had a tough time keeping up with everything.The first 4 people who looked at it passed without even making an offer. They were out looking for a steal and weren’t willing to deal with a leaking brake line, leaking oil, power steering pump, weak transmission, dents in the body, rips in the leather seats, and 240,000 miles. Selfish pricks. I was starting to get really worried.Then the clouds parted and out dropped a young kid who just enrolled in technical school to work on cars. Guess what his dream fixer-upper was. Hallelujah! About an hour of looking under the hood and under the car, he totaled up what it would take to create the next inspiration behind Fast & The Furious and offered $1200. I countered at $1300, he declined. I thought for exactly 1.5 seconds before running away as fast as I could with $1200!I quickly sat down and jotted everything I did wrong in this process. It took up almost a full page, so I just kept the party going and brainstormed everything I could have done wrong. I’ll leave it up to your imagination which half of the following I actually did and which I made up. It’s more fun this way… News source: ManVSDebt 67 Ways NOT To Sell A CarDon’t worry when a little rust starts to form. Don’t wash the outside of the car. First impressions don’t matter. Don’t pick up trash from the back seat of the car. Who rides in the back seat? Clean the car, but don’t detail it. Don’t bother checking the fluid levels. Who cares about oil, brake fluid, and power steering? Don’t fix minor interior problems, such a knobs, switches, and vents. Don’t bother with adding an air-freshner. Let your pets have free reign over the car. Don’t worry about touching up paint. Don’t bother cleaning out the trunk. Instead assume they won’t pop it open. Add the 16th bumper sticker to your collection. Continually smoke in your car up until the day you sell. Don’t replace old, worn out floor mats. Let your kids eat food in the car. Would you like fries with that? Assume waxing your vehicle is over-rated. Sell your car to a dealer without checking the private party market. Don’t bother with keeping maintenance records. Everyone will take your word. Don’t mention that your car has been totaled… twice. Don’t bother paying off the title even if you’re able. Only advertise in one medium. Don’t bother with free online listings. They take too long and people hate the internet. Clean the car, but ignore the tires/rims. No one ever looks at the size or condition of tires. Don’t bother to check the air in all the tires. Don’t replace broken headlights. You can just sell it during the day. Don’t replace broken windshield wipers. You can sell it on a sunny day. Let people test drive your car alone. Tell everyone your reason for selling is “Time to move on from this one.” Print fliers in black and white. Forget to mention you’ve been the only owner. Grant a discount, because it’s “all the cash they have on them”. Put “Or Best Offer” on every ad. Forget to mention any other calls or appointments you may have. Sell your 4-wheel drive in the spring, right after all the snow melts away. Sell your rear-wheel drive convertible in November. Donate your car to charity without first testing the local market, solely for the tax write-off. Start your price slightly above-market, just in case. That works well for homes, too. Advertise your price as $13,000 instead of $12,900, even if you’re willing to take $12,000. Don’t bother getting that clicking noise looked at. Buyers probably won’t notice it. Don’t worry about a physical “For Sale” sign. Forget to mention that you are selling your car to family and friends. Have an annoying ring-back tone on the number you place in the ads. Everyone likes Soulja Boy. Don’t screen buyers by phone. Just put your address directly in the ad. Ignore how you look when you meet potential buyers to show the car. Sell your car on payments. Answer the question, “What’s the lowest you’ll take?” Just sign over the title, without checking your state laws. Isn’t that what Uncle Earl always does? Forget to look over the glove compartment and trunk one last time. Don’t cancel your insurance after selling the car. Don’t study the local market. Kelley Blue Book conquers all. Post an ad without any pictures. Ignore all calls from numbers you don’t know hoping they will leave a voicemail. Be the first to throw out a price once negotiations start. Accept a personal check as payment. Underestimate the leverage of an official car history report. Rush the buyer when he is looking over the car. Lose a deal over $50, with very little other prospects. Don’t list all of the obvious issues with the car in the ads. Over-promise, under-deliver. Don’t thoroughly include all the details and features. Who cares about power-windows? Fail to explicitly state that “car is sold as is” and definitely don’t get that in writing anywhere. List your car on Monday night. The weekend is usually too convenient for people. Wait until the last minute to sell your car. Don’t worry about getting seat covers for damaged interior. Lie about known problems. These things never come around. Lack knowledge of your car’s gas mileage. Grow attached to a particular buyer and forget you always have the option of walking away. Once the sale is complete, sport the Happy Dance in full view of the buyer.

Battrey Protectors

Many aftermarket parts stores are selling a corrosion preventive kit that mostly consists of a set of felt washers. Their main purpose is to insulate the cable end from the battery and to some extent they do work. You simply install the washers under the proper cable end install the terminal and you are done. Do not use any grease or petroleum jelly here as this can melt and cause problems. The only drawback is on an older battery you may block the vent doubtful if there are many batteries around that would have this problem however. The other problem may be that the terminal will not go onto the post far enough to secure properly and of course these are only for top post batteries. I would not recommend them for rice burner cables that have the thin terminal as they tend to come apart and may cause a problem when used with this application. FYI After cleaning the cables and top of the battery, always clean off the top when cleaning cables, spray some clear lacquer on the terminals you will be amazed at how long they will stay clean when sealed this way.