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Second Place Winner, December 2011 Photo Contest
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Discussion Starter #1
Auto Tip
September 3, 2004

Fluid Check
How often should I change my transmission fluid?

Transmission fluid must be changed three or four times before it is completely replaced, and this should be done every 30,000 miles. Overheating because of worn-out fluid causes 90% of all transmission failures. Rebuilding a transmission can cost thousands of dollars, so be sure your service includes a fluid and filter change, as well as a leak check. If your new car says it comes with a lifetime fluid and filter, well, the jury's still out on that one. Just to be sure, have it changed. :thmbup:
 

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Second Place Winner, December 2011 Photo Contest
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Discussion Starter #2
September 4, 2004

Slow Start
What can a faulty starter really be blamed for?

What a sinking feeling to start your car and hear nothing. No turn-over, not even a click. First, is your battery dead? Are your cables loose or corroded? Test your ignition switch to see if it's getting voltage. Maybe it's a bad solenoid. These are the most common reasons your engine might not respond. If there's total silence when you turn the key, that means your starter is getting no juice at all. A clicking sound indicates there is voltage, but it's either not getting to the solenoid or it's not enough. An undercharged battery is the most common problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
September 5, 2004

Changing Oil, Sparkplugs and Filters

By Scott Roush
Despite the fact that today's automobiles are becoming increasing complex for the average do-it-yourselfer, there are still small maintenance projects you can tackle yourself. These will help save you some money and give you the satisfaction of getting the job done yourself.

Changing oil, replacing sparkplugs and air filters are simple tasks that should be done on a regular basis to help keep your car running smooth. These are all easy projects that don't require an extensive knowledge of automobiles like replacing a transmission or diagnosing engine problems. A weekend afternoon is probably all you need to get these tasks completed.

It should be noted that the manuals often recommend servicing your car based on "normal" driving. Most people these days, with stop-and-go traffic and short errands, do not drive normally. These types of driving are some of the toughest situations your car will face because they usually include lots of cold starts followed by short trips that don't allow the engine to warm up completely. Unless you really feel your car only gets "normal" driving, it's best to follow an accelerated maintenance schedule.

When looking for replacement parts, your best bet is to go to an auto parts store first in case you have questions. The employees at these businesses most likely have a better understanding about automobiles than people who work at general department stores. If you feel like you can get a better price at one of these larger stores such as Wal-Mart or Kmart, then buy your parts there after visiting an auto parts store.

Changing Motor Oil

The oil in your vehicle is the lifeblood of your engine. A thin layer of oil keeps the metal parts inside an engine from rubbing against each other. Without proper maintenance and regular changing, you can do serious damage to your car. Some people have even had to have their engine replaced because they neglected to change their oil. A very expensive repair could have been avoided by a simple oil change.

Now that you understand that you must change your oil, your next question will be: How often do I need to change it? The term, "on a regular basis," is vague at best. Most oil companies recommend every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first. Automakers may say to wait longer before changing oil, but you can be sure that changing your oil every 3,000 mile won't accelerate wear.

Despite the advanced technology of today's automobiles, changing oil is still an easy-do-it-yourself project because it is simple and inexpensive. Before starting the task, make sure you have everything you will need.

First of all, you need oil. Not just any kind of oil, but the right lubricant for your vehicle. If you are not sure what kind of oil your car or truck uses, check the owner's manual. Also see what kind of oil filter fits on your car. You will want to change the filter when you change the oil.

Equipment you will likely need includes: car jack, funnel, jack stands, oil (usually five quarts), oil drain pan, new oil filter, oil filter wrench, plastic container, old rags, ratchet set, rubber gloves and socket set.

Before starting the project, run your car for about 10 minutes. Warm oil drains better than cold oil. If you can get under your vehicle to change your oil, make sure it is parked on level surface. If there is not enough clearance, use your car jack to raise the car and the jack stands to keep it secure.

After the vehicle is firmly supported, crawl under it and locate the oil drain plug. It's usually in the front center of the vehicle. Place the oil drain pan under the plug. Then loosen the plug and with a socket wrench. Remove the plug with your hand and be ready for the warm oil draining out.

Once all the oil has drained out, wipe off the drain opening and plug with an old rag. Reinstall the plug by hand and then tighten with the socket wrench.

Locate the oil filter. It's typically on the side of the engine. Position the drain pan under the filter to catch any remaining oil. Use the oil filter wrench to unscrew the old oil filter. Wipe off any old oil where the filter mounts to the engine. Put some new oil on the rubber seal of the new filter and screw the filter into place by hand.

When adding new oil, first locate the oil filler cap on top of the engine. Place the funnel in the opening and pour in the new oil. Replace the cap, run the engine, then check the dipstick. Add more oil if you need it.

Wipe away excess oil with a rag. Pour the old oil into plastic containers and dispose of it properly. Take it to either a recycling center or an auto repair shop that takes used oil.

Come back tomorrow for information on changing your air filter and spark plugs!

 

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Discussion Starter #4
September 6, 2004

Changing Oil, Sparkplugs and Filters - Part 2
By Scott Roush


Replacing an Air Filter

This task is easier than changing your oil. Just as with oil, check you owner's manual to make sure you are buying the right air filter for your car. Air filters, which keep dirt out of the engine, should be replaced about every 15,000 miles.

The air filter is usually on top of the engine. Unscrew the top to the air filter housing. Lift out the old air filter.

Clean any dirt, debris or bugs from the housing with a rag.

Then simply replace the old filter with a new one and secure the cover. That's it, you're done!

Changing Spark Plugs

This procedure is done less frequently than changing oil or air filter but it can be the most difficult depending on the location of the plugs.

Most spark plugs last well beyond 20,000 miles while ones with platinum tips don't need to be changed until the reach 100,000 miles. Check your owner's manual before you buy replacement plugs to make sure you have the right spark plugs.

Make sure your engine is cool before starting. You will need a gap gauge, spark plug wire puller, spark plug wrench, small paint brush, and, of course, new spark plugs.

Before starting, you need to set the gap between the center electrode and the ground electrode for each plug. It must be the exact distance recommended by the automaker. You will find this information in your owner's manual or consult with your mechanic. A gap gauge will determine the exact distance, if it doesn't match the specifications, carefully bend the ground or wire electrode until it does.

Locate the spark plug wires and follow them down to wear the plugs attach to the engine. If the plugs are hard to reach, use the spark plug wire puller to separate the wire from the plug.

Using the spark plug wrench, carefully remove each plug by turning it to the left. Take the paint brush and carefully brush away any dirt from the spark plug cylinder holes. Don't get any dirt in the holes.

Install the new plugs by screwing them to the right. Start by hand and then use the spark plug wrench to tighten them. Don't overtighten! Plugs can break.

There you have three easy tasks that you can do on a weekend afternoon that will save you money and give you the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

 

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Discussion Starter #5

September 7, 2004

Surviving Rush Hour :relieved:

By Scott Roush

Veterans of rush hour traffic, raise your hands. You know what I'm talking about. It's like a stock car race out there. Bumper to bumper traffic. Cars right on your bumper even though you going as fast you can. A typical rush hour: Speed up as fast as you can and then slam hard on the brakes when traffic slows.

The problem with these scenarios is that the people in the cars are not professional drivers, they are ordinary people like you and me who often take unnecessary risks during rush hour so they can get to their destination as fast as possible.

In addition to people driving unsafely, you can also add road rage to your list of rush hour worries. The stories seem to come right out of a Hollywood movie. A man throws a dog of another driver into oncoming traffic because he was mad at the driver. A student knifes another driver after a fender-bender. A retiree shoots a teen-ager for taking his parking spot.

It's almost like a war zone on today's roads; and during rush hour it only gets worse. So, what can you do to survive the perils of rush hour?

Turn the Other Cheek

It's tempting when someone cuts you off; maybe you want to speed up and do the same thing to him, or perhaps you want to give that person some type of hand signal (and I don't mean a friendly wave, either).

However, to avoid trouble, don't respond to these road bullies. If you decide to tailgate the person or make obscene gestures, you are only amplifying the problem.

Negative reactions to situations like this may result in the driver upping the ante by following you too closely or getting in front of you and slamming on his brakes. If the other driver does something like this, move into the next lane and slow down. This will usually defuse the tense situation.

Tailgating Dilemmas

Say you are just driving along, minding your own business when you look in your rearview mirror and notice a car following way to close to you. What would you do?

Some people would tap on the brakes as a not-so-subtle message that the driver is following too close and should back off. Don't do this. That response may interrupted by the driver as a hostile act and could lead to an escalation of the situation.

Chances are the driver behind you has simply taken his mind off driving for a minute and has no idea that he is right on your bumper. Wait a while and the car behind you will usually drop back and get off your bumper.

Avoid Eye Contact

It's so tempting. You finally get around the jerk and are free of his driving tactics. But before you pull away from him, you want to give him a glance and let him know you are upset.

Avoid making eye contact with the driver. Once eye contact is made; the other person has been engaged. Limousine drivers, who bound to protect their passengers, never make eye contact with other drivers. They just cruise through traffic, oblivious of anyone who might want to look at them and cut off the big, shiny car.

You don't know anything about the person you just glanced at while passing. It could be someone on drugs. Or the driver could have just had a fight with their significant other. Or the person could have a gun. A driver who is upset or mentally unstable may not let you get away.

 

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Discussion Starter #6
Surviving Rush Hour - Part 2 :eek:

By Scott Roush

It's almost like a war zone on today's roads; and during rush hour it only gets worse. So, what can you do to survive the perils of rush hour?

Don't Drive Home

When someone continues to follow you after a tense road situation, don't go home. You don't want that person to know where you live.

Instead, drive to a public place like a gas station or a restaurant. If one is nearby, stop at a police station. If you carry a cellular phone, call the police. Seeing you make a call may discourage your unwanted companion.

Stay in Your Car

Say you and the offending driver stop at a light. Do not get out of the car. That could lead to violence. The driver may be carrying some type of weapon and may be angry enough to use it.

If the other driver gets out his car and head towards you, do not get out and confront him. Remain in the car, roll up the windows and lock the doors. If the light changes, simply drive off. If you have a cellular phone, call the police immediately.

Be a Courteous Driver

The best way to deal with aggressive drivers is to not be one. Don't do anything that you wouldn't want done to you.

Don't tailgate or flash your lights at someone just because that person isn't driving fast enough for you. Don't hog the passing lane.

Realize that you could be a better driver. Many people don't think they are part of the problem. According to a national survey conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, nearly three quarters of 543 drivers questioned believe their driving skills are above average.

With vehicles of all shapes and sizes travelling at high speeds during heavy traffic, driving at rush hour is hazardous enough without people getting upset at each other. Relax while you drive, be considerate of other drivers, obey the rules and don't be in such a hurry to get where you need to be. Afterall, are you in that big a rush to get to work?
:)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
September 9, 2004

California Water Blade

By Bob Plunkett

Car buffs may point with pride to a freshly washed and sparkling clean set of wheels, but maintaining a vehicle in showroom-clean status can be a labor-intensive chore.

It involves soap and water, hoses and brushes, sponges and towels -- and lots of elbow grease. Having the right tools to wash and clean your car eases the work, and one of the best new ideas in car cleaning comes from California with the California Water Blade.

This amazing device amounts to a scientific amplification of a super-duper squeegee capable of removing 90 percent of standing water from any surface of a car in a third the time it would take if using towels and sponges. Its ultra-soft silicone blade conforms to any surface shape and whisks away water with only a single stroke of the hand. It also leaves no residue of lint or debris, as does the towel or sponge, so it's the ideal tool for cleaning glass surfaces too.

Concept behind the design of the California Water Blade is quite simple. The business end consists of medical-grade silicone in a flexible flat sheet which measures a foot wide by 2.25 inches deep, with a T-Bar leading edge to grab the liquids. The trailing edge of the silicone blade attaches to a plastic handle contoured to fit the hand. Grip the handle, drape the silicone blade across a surface of the vehicle, then draw the blade in a sweeping motion through the standing water. Miraculously, the water disappears in just one stroke.

The California Water Blade comes from the California Car Cover Company.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
September 11, 2004

Bean-Bag Trash Bag

By Bob Plunkett

Have you ever bummed a ride with a friend only to discover there's so much litter scattered around in the car that the mess leaves little room for you?

Moldy three-day-old wrappers from a fast-food joint occupy the passenger seat.

Spent aluminum cans, caked around the rims with sticky cola syrup, take up prime space on the front floor where your feet should rest.

Scan the back seat and debris seems even worse.

You get the idea that some messy maniac has spent considerable time back there without thought to clearing out any of the trash that accumulates with day-to-day living.

You may also imagine that not a human but some kind of farm animal -- the type that belongs in a sty -- has been spending time back there.

What's missing from this vehicle, of course, is some kind of reasonable trash management, and the will to contain litter.

Developing the discipline is one thing, but to physically corral all that refuge is easier than you may think.

What you need is an organized litter bag -- like the bean-bag litter case spied in a mail-order catalog.

This sack-like container rests firmly wherever you set it in the vehicle, thanks to the novel idea of a weighted bean-bag base that conforms to the shape of the floor and sticks in place not matter how curvy the road you drive. The bag is constructed from durable Cordura nylon and has a waterproof nylon lining that won't leak -- even when stuffed with leaky cans of soda.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
September 12, 2004

Rotating Your Tires: Part I :)

Proper tire maintenance is relatively simple and can save you money and many headaches. One of the best ways to care for your tires is to rotate them on a regular basis. It can extend the life of the tires and ensures safe driving.

Whether you are going to do it yourself or take it to a mechanic, it's important to understand why tires need to be rotated. The answer is simple: Front and rear tires wear at different rates and you need to prevent irregular wear on your tires.

Whether you are parallel parking or turning into your driveway, all of those turns you make daily with the steering wheel put more pressure on the front tires. This is even more so on front-wheel drive vehicles due to the added strain of steering, the weight of the powertrain and the front wheels doing most of the braking.

This resistance from braking causes friction, which produces heat and leads to more wear on the front tires compared to the rear tires. In addition, each tire likely supports a different amount of weight, causing each one to have different amounts of wear.

Because of these situations, it is important to rotate your tires several times during a tire's life in order to equalize tread wear and maximize the life of your tires. It's a good idea to rotate your tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles, and more frequently if your do most of your driving around town or if you own a front-wheel drive vehicle. It's a good idea to check your owner's manual for the proper tire rotation schedule.

 

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Discussion Starter #10
September 13, 2004

Rotating Your Tires: Part II


By Scott Roush

Tire Rotation Pattern


Over the years, there has been debate on the best pattern to rotate your tires. Most manufacturers recommend the cross-rotation of tires as the preferred method. This allows each tire to run at each corner of the vehicle t9 distribute weight evenly and extend tire life.

Another accepted method is rotating the tire from front-to-back and back-to-front. However, some tires cannot be rotated in this manner. Such tires include uni-directional tires and tires with asymmetric tread designs. Also some vehicles may have different-sized tires mounted on the front and rear axles, so you cannot switch tires from front to rear axle. Check your owner's manual or ask you tire dealer about these special circumstances.

Elevating Your Vehicle

In this article we will demonstrate how to rotate tires from front-to-back and back-to-front. This is the easiest of all tire rotation patterns for do-it-yourselfers.

First, find a level piece of pavement to park your car. Put it in park and turn off the engine. Select which side of the car you want to work on first. Then go to the other side of the car and block both tires to prevent the car from moving as you work on it.

There are several types of jacks available to elevate your car. You may be inclined to use the one that came with your car; but be aware that this type of jack is often rickety and should only be used for short periods of time. If you are going to use this jack, safeguard yourself by placing two jack stands under both the front and rear axles and the carefully lower the weight of the vehicle on the stands.

If you have one available, either a small hydraulic jack or a floor jack will work better than the one supplied with your vehicle. Regardless of what type of jack you use, locate a point under the frame nearest the manufacturer's recommended jacking point, and position the jack there. Some vehicles have a hole at this point where you can insert the extension from the jack. If still unsure where to position the jack, consult the owner's manual.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
September 14, 2004

Rotating Your Tires: Part III

By Scott Roush

Switching the Tires

Before you elevate the vehicle, loosen the lug nuts with the lug wrench. This is easier to do while the vehicle is still on the ground because the vehicle's weight holds the wheels in place so they don't spin when you crank the lug nuts.

Once you have the vehicle elevated on the jack, spin off the lug nuts and put them in a safe place. Remove both tires and then roll them so the front will go on the rear and vice versa.

Before mounting the tires, inspect the tread wear. Manufacturers put wear indicators on tires; they are usually little bumps or nobs. Compare the height of the wear indicator to the tread around it. If the tread is wearing to a point where its height is approaching that of the indicator, you will need new tires soon.

Now you can go ahead and mount the tires. If you have a friend around, have him hold the tire while you get the first couple of lug nuts started. Once you have tighten all the lug nuts with your fingers, use the lug wrench to tighten them further. Then lower the vehicle and tighten the nuts completely once the vehicle is on the ground.

A helpful hint: You should tighten the lug nuts diagonally as though you were making a star pattern, instead of side to side. This will help the nuts settle better into their cradles.

Now repeat these steps with the tires on the other side of the car.

After rotating your tires, adjust individual tire air pressure to the figures recommended by the vehicle manufacturer for their new location. Sometimes front and rear tires on a vehicle use different pressures.

Remember, rotating your tires will not only extend the tread life of your tires, it will also provide maximum gripping power for your vehicle.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
September 15, 2004

Wheel Shields

By Bob Plunkett
Anyone who takes pride in maintaining a slick car in mint condition -- washed and waxed and polished to perfection -- knows that no matter how sparkling clean that set of wheels may be while parked, it won't last longer than the first time the brakes are used when driving.

That's because when brakes apply, the action of padded brake calipers squeezing against metal brake discs wear away the pads in the form of black rubber dust that coats the car wheel and sometimes builds up on painted sheet metal fenders adjacent to the wheel well.

Those unsightly deposits of brake pad dust can mar an otherwise clean car and, if allowed to remain on wheels and fenders, eat away at the delicate paint or pricey wheels.

And it's a challenge to remove, requiring brushes and soap and lots of elbow grease.

But here's a way to eliminate that ugly dust: Block it from reaching the wheels and fenders by simply installing a set of Wheel Shields.

These round discs, constructed of light-weight aircraft aluminum, snap in place on the inner side of each wheel and effectively prevent the brake dust from splattering on the outside of the wheel or fender. The shields fit in place like hubcaps, but because they attach to the inner side of the wheel, Wheel Shields cannot be seen and will not interfere with the handsome design of cool custom wheels.

They also do not affect the wheel balance when mounted properly because these discs are self-centering.

Mounting a Wheel Shield is a snap: Simply remove a wheel, snap the disc into place on the inside of the wheel, then bolt the wheel back into place.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
September 16, 2004

Oil Check

What kind of oil is right for my car? :scared:

Sometimes it's hard to know what to buy for your car. Oil, for instance. It is accepted among repair technicians that synthetic oil is better than conventional oil. Why? Because oils have different pour points and oxidation points. This means that the oil stops flowing and burns up at certain temperatures. Generally speaking, higher pour and oxidation points mean that the oil in your engine can tolerate a greater range of temperature, which is desirable. A synthetic oil has a higher pour and oxidation point than any conventional oil. However, the added expense may not be entirely worthwhile if you live and only drive in extremely mild and predictable climates.
:)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
September 17, 2004

Checking Wheel Alignment: Part I

By Scott Roush

Adjusting a car's wheel alignment is something that most of us look at with some trepidation. After all, it sounds like something your mechanic, in a garage with specialized equipment and years of experience, should do. In this case, you are likely right. Alignments take specialized equipment and tools as well as experience of working on cars. It is not something for an amateur mechanic to do.

That being said, some people may feel a mechanic is taking advantage of them because of their ignorance about alignments and how often a car needs them. But don't feel that way if your mechanic does recommend this service. All cars and trucks need alignment from time to time.

There are several reasons why vehicles need alignments. You should get you car aligned when you buy news tires; when you have a rack and pinion steering unit or other steering parts in your car replaced; when certain warning signs appear on your car; or about every 30,000 miles, regardless if warning signs appear or not.

What is an Alignment?

Although it may seem complicated, alignment is simply making sure the wheels are operating parallel with one another, and the tires meet the road at the correct angle.

Four-wheel drive alignment is standard service these days, and is important on vehicles with front-wheel drive and independent rear suspension. Two-wheel alignments may save you money up front, but your vehicle's handling and tire tread life may be compromised. When doing a four-wheel alignment, the rear wheels should follow the front wheels in a parallel path.

Automakers recommend certain measurement specifications for the angles created between the suspension and steering components, the wheels and the frame of the vehicle. When these angles are correct, the vehicle is properly aligned.

This means the best possible compromise has been achieved among minimum rolling friction, maximum tire mileage, stability of the car on the road, and steering control for the driver.

Return tomorrow for Checking Wheel Alignment: Part 2.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
September 18, 2004

Checking Wheel Alignment: Part II

By Scott Roush

Signs of Bad Alignment

Detecting signs of poor alignment aren't difficult. Most of them have to do with the tires, wheels and steering wheel. The following are some common warning signs.

Take a close look at all of your tires. If one or more of them has excessive wear on one side, or wear in a cupped, scalloped or diagonal strip pattern at edges or across the tread, or uneven even wear on the treads, then your vehicle may need an alignment.

If the steering wheel feels stiffer than normal, or if it does not return to the center position when released, if it is cocked to one side when the front wheels are pointing straight ahead or if the car feels skittish, your wheels may need alignment.

Also, you should have your mechanic check out your alignment if your car pulls one side, tends to wander or weave or if you car wants to move with the rear end cocked off to one side while moving straight ahead.

Be aware about a vehicle that pulls to one side. This is not always related to wheel alignment. It could be caused by a problem with tires, brakes or power steering. A good alignment technician should be able to determine the cause.

Proper Wheel Angles

Three basic wheel angles determine whether a vehicle is properly aligned. All three of these angles need to be properly set for alignment to be correct.
Camber is the inward or outward tilt of a wheel compared to a vertical line. If the camber is out of adjustment, it will cause tire wear on one side of the tire's tread.
Caster is the degree that the car's steering axis is tilted forward or backward from the vertical as viewed from the side of the car. If the caster is out of adjustment, it can cause problems in straight-line tracking. Caster has little affect on tire wear.
Toe refers to the directions in which two wheels point relative to each other. Incorrect toe will cause rapid tire wear to both tires equally. Toe is always adjustable on the front wheels and is adjustable on the rear wheels of some cars.

 

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Discussion Starter #16
September 19, 2004

Checking Wheel Alignment: Part III

By Scott Roush

Pre-Alignment Checklist
:greed:

Before alignment, the technician should take your vehicle for a test drive to determine how it is out of alignment. The test drive should be done on a flat, straight road, a road with several bumps and dips, and a road that requires left and right turns. These drives will help the technician get the most feedback about your car's problems.

The technician should also ask you when the problem started. The more he can learn from you, the better prepared he will be to tackle the alignment issues.

The technician should also check tire condition, tire sizes, steering components, brake system and driveline items for damage and wear. He should also check under the car for parts that are loose, bent or near failure as well as check the front end and steering linkage.

Measuring the ride height is also something that should be done before adjusting alignment. A technician should measure a vehicle at various points to see if it matches the heights recommended by the manufacturer. If it doesn't, spring replacement is likely needed before wheel alignment. If your car's ride height is incorrect, and then there is no guarantee that alignment will fix all of the handling, ride and tire wear problems.

Aligning Your Vehicle

After everything else has been checked, your car should be driven onto an alignment machine. The technician will check and adjust, in order, camber, caster and toe, starting with the rear wheels. He may uses wrenches and special tools to make necessary adjustments to align your car.

Once your technician is done with the alignment, your vehicle should be taken for a test drive to determine if the handling was compromised or improved by the alignment as well as if the steering wheel is centered.

Your technician should use all the tools and equipment at his disposal to make sure your vehicle is properly aligned. If you feel as though you are still having problems with alignment, don't hesitate to take your car back to the shop. After spending your time and money on alignment, you want to make sure there are no problems.

 

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Discussion Starter #17
September 20, 2004

Don't ignore your owner's manual

Cleaning out my car before trading it in for a new one, I realized I had never opened the owner's manual in the seven years I owned It. Good car or dumb owner?

How much did you spend in repairs and maintenance that you might have saved by opening that book instead of your checkbook for the past seven years? You know, there is an entire industry of highly trained engineers and skilled writers who produce these materials to help you understand, maintain, enjoy and get the most satisfaction and service out of your vehicle.

I'll bet you a new M-class Mercedes that you have wasted significant money during that time using expensive repair shops to find and replace fuses, tell you when to service and maintain your vehicle, and to rotate or change your tires.

With all of the technological changes going on at the automakers, we may very well be on our way to the non-involved owner/driver automobile. In fact, your experience may very well advance the notion that it is already here. But even with a mechanically foolproof car in the future, will we really be able to live without the truly critical information and essential facts from the owner’s manual such as:
Loading the multiple CD player.
Operating the vanity mirror lights.
Locating the cup holders.
Installing numbers in the car phone memory.
Managing the eight-way power seat system.
Adjusting the inside/outside temperature gauge.
Sorting out the USB from the serial connectors for the computer, fax , DVD and television.
But seriously folks, as important as it is to know fuse locations and tire rotations, it is absolutely essential to read your owner's manual for service maintenance. Ignore it at your own risk.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
September 21, 2004

Grabbamat :cap:

By Bob Plunkett
Does everything slip off the dash when you make a left turn?

In our modern urban environment with automobiles used for long daily commutes to and from work or school, the vehicle becomes a virtual home for the driver for hours on end.

To make it more comfortable we commuters personalize our home on wheels with portable gear that has comfortable and practical applications -- gadgets of the road like cell phones and sunglasses, coin purses for toll gates and remote fobs for opening parking gates and garage doors.

Console bins, glove boxes and door pockets contain only so much of the gear we tote, and the overflow ends up on spare seats, floorboard or, in a personal instance, that easy catchall shelf: The dashboard up front.

Mine's always littered with such tools, and, until recently, they slipped and slid about with every twist in the road and turn of the steering wheel.

Now, though, all of this handy debris stays in place thanks to the sticky properties of the Grabbamat.

What's a Grabbamat?

Visualize a mat of rubberized mesh about eight inches square that sticks where it's set without adhesives on the horizontal front shelf of a dashboard. The tactile surface on this gummy mat magically corrals any small object with a firm grip, even when the driver swerves or brakes the car.

It works well to hold those sunglasses or a wallet, maps and even weighty objects like a cell phone. And the pliable mat yields quickly to sharp scissors so you may trim it for a custom fit to a specific dash.

 

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Second Place Winner, December 2011 Photo Contest
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Discussion Starter #19
September 22, 2004

Wide-Angle Signal Mirror

By Bob Plunkett

Those who maneuver a full-size pickup truck or hefty sport-utility wagon in traffic will not doubt admit that such a big rig consumes a wide swatch of pavement and requires careful attention from the driver for the important business of jockeying from lane to lane.

To prevent unwanted close encounters with other vehicles when changing lanes, the driver must use the vehicle's turn signals religiously and ensure that back brake lights are working properly.

Follow certain big vehicles -- like Ford's Expedition or the deluxe Lincoln Navigator sport-utility wagon -- and you'll observe a helpful addition to typical back light turn signals: Bright arrow signals show up in the big rearview side mirrors to indicate the direction of each turn.

These animated chevrons, composed of LED lamps built into each mirror, catch the eye with their blinking movement. Trailing motorists beside the vehicle can see the signals much more easily than tail turn signals.

Navigator and Expedition install these mirrors as original equipment, yet they're made by Muth Mirror Systems, which offers the same Signal Mirror in a retrofit kit for many other wagons and trucks through direct sale to consumers.

To properly rig and wire the Signal Mirror requires a professional -- a local installer of automotive audio products or detailing accessories can do the job.

Muth also has a new Wide-Angle Signal Mirror that mounts on an existing exterior rearview mirror. This small round mirror adds the chevron signal that blinks with arrow indicating direction of the turn, while the convex shape of the wide-angle reflector also allows a driver to see into blind spots most rearview mirrors miss.
 

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Second Place Winner, December 2011 Photo Contest
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94,472 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
September 23, 2004

DVD Enters the Minivan Segment

By Bob Storck

The first dealer-installed DVD Rear Seat Video® entertainment systems are available in 2002 model year minivans. The system is integrated in-dash and plays video DVDs and audio CDs.

Having the DVD in-dash eliminates the need for a separate video cassette player which leaves adults in charge of changing discs to discourage backseat passengers and children from unbuckled movement. A remote transmitter is also included for convenience and to further discourage unbuckled movement.

An auxiliary input is integrated into the middle row side window trim panel and accommodates a video camera, portable CD player and most popular home video game players including Nintendo 64® and Sony PlayStation®.
 
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