Seven Tips For Finding Excellent Car Service

The best car service is preventative, not patchwork. The last thing car owners need nowadays, with increasingly busy schedules, is frequent trips to the mechanic. It’s especially frustrating with easily fixed or recurring problems. Here are some tips to avoid breaking the bank the next time your vehicle breaks down.

Check Out Reviews First

With the spread of customer reviews on the internet, it’s quite easy for a consumer to find personal accounts of a business with a quick search. On occasion, reviews will be staged or not representative of the service, but a perusal of a range of reviews may give you a reasonable expectation of what to expect. An old fashioned review from a trusted friend – especially a car lover – never hurts, either. You can’t put a price on experience.

Shop Around

Most mechanics will offer free estimates. It helps to get the estimate for your car service on paper as proof. This document can also be used as leverage with other mechanics. Sometimes the cheapness of the price can suggest poor workmanship, but you certainly don’t want to be swindled.

Ask To See A Certification

ASE is the most common certification, and a trustworthy business should have no issue presenting you with such certification. This will establish a baseline of experience and knowledge. A shop that possesses an American Automotive Association rating is a good sign too, as it guarantees that they have been pre-screened by an objective source.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions, Even If You’re a Novice

Beyond a price estimation, it is very helpful to ask questions that you may consider basic. Such as, which parts will need to be replaced? How long will the work in question take to complete? Can I see the problem area of the car? Even more intensive questions about the process of fixing the vehicle should not fluster a reliable mechanic. These questions will make you feel comfortable with the car service and prove to the mechanic that you take your car’s care serious.

Go With Your Instinct

This tip is harder to pin down, and will mean different things to different people, but it remains relevant. Simple things, such as the cleanliness of the shop, may be symbolic of the overall service. Furthermore, if a mechanic is giving vague answers or treating customers in a hostile manner, it’s probably a clear sign to get out while you can. Getting a car fixed is rarely a pleasant experience, so there’s no need to add extra stress to the process.

Find a Location Near Your Home

This is especially important if you don’t have a friend or family member to follow you to the mechanic and drive you home. Finding a route home or to work via public transportation may be pivotal, depending on how long the car will be out of commission.

Warranties and Specialists

This tip will mainly pertain to people whose cars need to be fixed at a dealership. It also applies to those who own a car that has to have specialty parts replaced. Do research and determine whether a mechanic has expertise in your particular make and model. Additionally, an honorable mechanic will supply warranties on new parts. Make sure to establish this warranty before they get to work on your car.

Tips on Extending the Life of an Ignition Coil

The ignition coil is an important component of a car. It converts power of a few volts from the battery into as much as 25kv which is essential to create a spark to ignite fuel. Optimal functionality of the ignition coil is affected by multiple factors. You can extend the life of the coil up to 80,000 km by following a few tips. Read this article to know more about how you can extend the life of the ignition coil.

Battery should be well charged

Make sure to charge the battery optimally. If it is below optimal level, the workload on the coil is unlikely to create sufficient spark to ignite fuel.

Check for oil leaks

Check if there is any damaged sealant. This condition may lead to the leakage of oil. Often, oil damages the insulation in wires and exposes them. This causes sparks and rules out coil ignition.

Prevent formation of moisture

Look out for any breakages where the ignition coil is located. Make sure you seal such cracks with an adhesive. This prevents moisture from entering into the system.

Avoid engine overheating

In summer, the climate is hot and you may like to sit in your car with the air-conditioner on. Running the air-conditioner puts excess workload on the engine. The engine component gets hotter and hotter. Unless the heat is facilitated to move out from the engine, it might cause excess heat. This heat may reduce the durability of the ignition coil.

Limit vibrations

Occasionally, you may get a knocking noise that is unusual. Such noise is an indication of damage of the part where it comes from. If the noise becomes frequent, it damages the housing. It might also lead to short-circuit in the coil and ultimately failure.

Maintenance of spark plugs

Over time, spark plugs wear because of workload. Get the spark plugs replaced as recommended by the manufacturer. While replacing spark plugs, see that the cylinder head threads and spark plug threads are free from moisture, dust and debris. Make sure to follow maintenance of the coil as recommended by the manufacturer.

Proper maintenance of engine parts

It is important that you take proper care of the engine parts. For this, you need to use engine oil of the right grade and appropriate fuel. You should also replace air filters, fuel injection pump, spark plugs and use right level of coolant (it should be between ‘high’ and ‘low’).

Make sure to replace the belts (in driving the pulleys) in the engine (replace them at 80,000 km), and get the vehicle serviced by expert professionals. Also, for optimal fuel economy, inflate tires to pressure recommended by the manufacturer.

Some Tips For Your Car Conversion Project

Having a car has been the symbol of status from the years and will continue for many more years to come without any dispute. But, in recent years going through regular hike in the prices of fuel and gas across the world, maintaining the car is becoming quite difficult for lots of the owners and they are finding alternate ways to minimize their investment on fuel. Moreover, with increasing concern of the government’s ruling in different countries towards the pollution free vehicles, day is not away when there will be no fuel vehicles running on the roads.

Going through all these concerns, not only the car owners, but also the manufacturers have started developing strategies for manufacturing vehicles that do not run on any type of fuel. As an impact of this, endeavors for manufacturing electric vehicles has gained momentum in recent years throughout the world and today every manufacturer is launching the electric variant of its newly launched car in the market along with its regular versions running of both petrol and diesel.

Although this is an interesting and revolutionary step towards the pollution free environment and has succeeded in receiving the huge support by the people within the world, but on the other side has also developed the lines of tension on the heads of owners having luxurious cars parked in their yard. Because, in the future when there will be no fuel or the government of their country will strictly restrict the use of fuel, will their car be waste material that is of no use for them and will their money go into the waste box?

Interestingly, these owners need not have to get tensed for their car, as going through their concern lots of repairing experts are offering the facility of car conversion, and converting their existing car into an electric vehicle which is not only fuel-efficient like their existing car but also pollution free. Besides this today, you can also find conversions kits available in the market that are easy to use and can be easily used by the person having little knowledge about car mechanism. In-fact use of the electric car conversions kit is gaining huge popularity among the drivers struggling with the problem of increasing fuel consumption by their car. The power generation efficiency of the electric cars is measured in kw rather than bhp as measured for the car running on the fossil fuels.

Tips for car conversion: Now the question arises how to convert your existing car into an electric car? Before installing the kit into your car make sure that you have removed useless accessory items like powerful sound system, or powerful lights etc from your car. In simple words you have minimized the weight of your vehicle so that it doesn’t consume much of the power. While converting the car into an electric car only the gasoline component of your car will be removed with electric motors and the other components like brakes, steering wheel, safety features etc will remain unchanged.

Advantages of car conversion: Some of the advantages related with electric car conversion are referred below:

1. As the car conversion is do it yourself project, if you have appropriate knowledge about car mechanism you can easily change it without giving a singly penny to the mechanic for conversion.

2. You will not have to fill any type of petrol and stand in the queue for filling, but you can charge it at home without consuming much of your time and electricity.

3. There will be a decline in the level of emission generated by your existing car.

4. You will be able to drive at the speed of 65 miles an hour.

5. Finally the last but not the least, an interesting feature of the electric car is that it doesn’t make any type of sound while driving. Therefore, if you are irritated from the irritating sound of your existing car, then converting it will get you relaxed from this problem also.

Survival Tips – How To Build The Best EDC Kit

How To Build The Best EDC Kit

An Every Day Carry Kit, or EDC, is comprised of the everyday carry gear, including emergency items, that you might need to face challenges or dangers, that come between you and home. In the strictest sense, we all take an EDC kit with us each day. Our wallet or purse, keys, money, cell phone; these are the things we’ve decided we need each day to ensure that we can do what we need to do and get home safely. But is it everything you need?

Identifying Your Everyday Carry Gear Needs

If only we knew exactly what situations we would face on a given day, we would never leave our house unprepared. There are no warnings given for disasters. You have to try to anticipate your needs before they arrive. Your daily routine can give you some ideas about the types of situations for which you need to be prepared.

Where Do You Live? Do you live in an urban, suburban, or country community? Or do you live so far out in the boonies that, without a four-wheel-drive truck, you’d need a 72-hour pack to make it home alive?

Work Environment? You may live in a gated community but work in a dangerous part of town. Consider where you’ll be spending time, especially outside of your car, as a part of determining likely risk.

Long Commute? People who commute long distances have a higher likelihood of certain challenges like car trouble, or dangers such as car accidents.

Responsible For Others? If you often have children with you, you may need to consider their needs as a part of your every day carry gear.

Unique Medical Needs? Do you suffer from a food allergy, bee allergy, asthma, high blood pressure or diabetes? Rescue medications like back up inhalers, epi-pens, blood pressure medicine, insulin, and needles would need to be a part of every kit you prepare.

Assessing What Challenges or Dangers You Are Likely to Face?

There are three types of scenarios for which you need to be prepared.

Challenges: common situations like a flat tire or a dark parking lot, a power outage; things that won’t kill you, but a little preparation goes a long way toward making things easier.

Threats: a personal attack, car accident, injury, or an opportunity to help another person with one of these scenarios.

Catastrophes: Terrorist attack, natural disaster, rioting, getting lost or breaking down way out in the wilderness, anything that results in a major disruption to routine, or makes it necessary for you to survive on your own, at least for a time.

You know your routine. Only you can identify your unique needs and likely threats. It’s important to be prepared, but if you try to prepare for every single emergency that could ever arise, you could end up with an EDC kit that’s so enormous you never have it with you. The very best everyday carry gear is the gear you actually have on you when the need arises.

The Difference Between an EDC, a GHB, and a Bug Out Bag

If your initial instinct is to over-prepare, relax. At least you’re on the right track. There are several types of emergency kits that are valuable to have around, and they all serve slightly different purposes. A Get Home Bag, or GHB, carries a little more equipment than you would want to carry on your person and is designed to do exactly what the name implies, get you home. Another type of emergency kit, called a Bug Out Bag, or BOB, and is as much as you can carry (within reason) and is designed to give you everything you need to survive up to a week. The weight limit recommendation for a Bug Out Bag is 1/3 of a man’s body weight and 1/4 of a woman’s.

Preparing for eventualities with all three of these types of kits in mind can allow you to prepare efficiently and give you ultimate peace of mind. You could think of it this way: Your everyday carry gear is designed to get you to your Get Home Bag. Your GHB is designed to get you to your Bug Out Bag. And your BOB is designed to support you through a minimum of a week in the wilderness, should the need arise. Best case scenario, you never need a GHB or a BOB, but it’s nice to have them. An EDC kit, however, you are almost certain to need at least a couple of times a year.

What To Carry In Your Every Day Carry Kit

There are many recommended items that you might want to carry as a part of your EDC kit. Based on the risk assessment that you’ve already performed, you’ll need to choose the items that best help you meet those needs.

Must Have Items:

Self Defense – a knife, box cutter, credit card knife, tactical pen – any item that you can use to defend yourself.

Fire – Lighter – windproof is best, waterproof matches, fire starting kit. Depending on the size of the kit you’re creating, you can choose the size. But at a minimum, you should have at least one way to start a fire.

Light – Flashlight – You may end up with several different light sources, stored in different places, and in different kits. But you should always have some source of light on you at all times. If nothing else, a mini flashlight on your key chain is a must.

Compass – this could easily be incorporated with an analog watch, rather than as a separate piece of equipment. What you can’t count as a compass is the GPS in your cell phone. In the event of infrastructure failure, one of the first things you’ll lose is your cell service. You need an old fashioned, magnetic compass, either integrated into your analog watch, or by itself.

Cordage – a box of unflavored floss, a paracord bracelet, a bundle of paracord, or even replacing your shoelaces with paracord – too many situations will require some type of cordage. Don’t be without it.

Shelter – Mylar blankets are the easiest and lightest choice for very small kits. As you develop larger, more advanced GHBs, or BOBs, you can incorporate better shelter. But a Mylar blanket or two will go a long way in a pinch.

First Aid Kit – This can be as simple as a few bandaids, a couple of alcohol pads, and some antibiotic, or as evolved as a full fledged First Aid Kit, complete with a defibrillator. Consider the other kits you’re preparing, and carry what you think you’ll need. First aid items you may want to consider, even for a small kit, include: band aids, bandages, alcohol, antibiotic, antacids, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and certainly must include any personal rescue medications.

Food – or more correctly, a way to get food. At a minimum, a couple of fishing hooks in your daily wear hat, or folded into a piece of aluminum foil in your wallet, or a small medicine bottle full of supplies, you choose. These can be combined with your floss for fishing line.

Cash – You should always have at least some cash that is for emergency use only. It’s probably a good idea to store it separately from your normal funds.

Should Have Items:

Items you should incorporate into your everyday carry gear, if you can. If necessary, use this list to begin putting together a Get Home Bag.

Small Pill Bottle of Vaseline – Vaseline (or any petroleum based jelly) has variety of uses including treating chapped lips and hands, cuts and scrapes, and for use as a fire accelerant

Cotton Balls – first aid uses and as tinder for starting a fire

Weatherproof Matches or Fire Striker

Battery – at least AA size. Maybe you already have one in your flashlight, but carry spares if at all possible. They come in handy for other things, too, like starting fires.

Small Wire Saw – This can be included as part of a credit card size multi-tool, to cut down on the amount of gear you have to carry.

Fishing Supplies – a couple of fishing hooks in your daily wear hat, or folded into a piece of aluminum foil in your wallet, or a small medicine bottle full of supplies, you choose.

Food – hard candies, a bullion cube, anything to give you calories and a morale boost. The more the better, within reason.

Water Purification – Whether tablets or a filtration system, something to get you clean water in a pinch. There are straw sized filtration systems.

Multi-Tool – either full sized, or a credit card multi-tool that you carry in your wallet.

Whistle – For signaling, scaring away wild animals, or human attackers

Super Glue – comes in mini tubes and can serve a variety of purposes, including minor repairs, first aid, and as a fire accelerant.

Nice to Have Items:

A few things that it would be nice to have, if you can fit it in. If it won’t fit in your everyday carry gear, this could be the beginnings of a great Get Home Bag.

Small Address Book – in the event that you lose the use of your cell phone, you’ll need the emergency contact information for those closest to you. Include in it, any other information you might have difficulty calling to mind under stressful situations.

Shoes – a spare pair, in case you have to walk a long way. Hiking boots would be preferable. This is especially important for women, who might be wearing heels when they discover the need to walk.

Larger Knife or Weapon – Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.

Bright Yellow Poncho – good for weather protection and easier to spot.

Stainless Steel Water Bottle or Thermos – This can also be used as your kit container, as a weapon, or just to keep some water in.

Food – One or more high calorie energy bars or protein bars, enough to get you through a few hours of stress, at least.

Finding The Right Container For Your EDC Kit

Once you’ve assessed your needs, and chosen the items you can and will carry on you every day, it’s time to figure out how to carry it. There are a couple of ways to go. The typical method is to get a small container and fit your gear inside. You’ll need to choose a container size based on how you’ll be carrying your kit. If you have a briefcase or purse, you can accommodate a larger size. If it must go in your pocket, you’ll have to use a smaller container and be more creative in the way you carry anything that doesn’t fit.

Metal Box – If you can find something metal that fits your needs, a metal container is optimal. It will hold its shape and maintain a water tight seal better than some plastic containers. If necessary, you could also use it to cook with. Altoids tins are a popular choice, especially for an in-your-pocket EDC kit, though it is limiting in its size.

Plastic – The advantage of a plastic container is how easy it can be to find one in a size that fits your needs. Rubbermaid style containers come in a variety of sizes and are inexpensive. The downside is the lid can sometimes be too easy to remove; you may have to seal it with some duct tape.

Organization Pack – Commercial EDC organizational packs are available in a number of sizes, designed specifically to help you organize your essential Every Day Carry Gear.

Wearing Your Gear – You can distribute your gear throughout your clothing, using cargo pants pockets, your hat, key ring, wallet, a chain or lanyard, etc. Women are at a distinct advantage because they are expected to carry a purse, and by simply carrying a slightly larger one they can accommodate many more items with little trouble. Men can improve their carrying abilities, depending on their work dress code, by wearing cargo pants with a number of pockets, or carrying a briefcase or small backpack with them to work. (Maybe now is the time to consider purchasing that ultra trendy man purse you’ve been secretly eyeing.)

Self-Contained Kit – Your container could also be a part of your kit. A thermos or metal container that can be used for cooking, etc. The only downside to this container is that you still have to figure out how to carry it with you every day.

The Best EDC Kit

There’s what you should carry, and then there’s what you will carry. The very best Every Day Carry kit is the one you have with you when you need it, and includes the knowledge to use the gear you’ve carried. All the preparation in the world doesn’t do you any good, if you don’t have your gear or don’t know how to use it. So be realistic in your risk assessment, practical in your kit assembly (remember you can assemble a GHB and BOB, as well, you don’t have to carry everything every minute), learn to use the items you’ve chosen, and be faithful in carrying your Every Day Carry Gear, every day!

Don’t Get Fooled: 5 Tips For Buying A Good Used Car

Cape Town – Prices of new cars are exorbitant, at least for some, but that’s not the case for 36 794 fortunate South Africans who registered their new cars in January 2017.

Over the last five years during January, new car sales in SA remained steady around the 35 000 mark and annually, 547 442 units were sold in 2016 compared to 617 648 in 2015. That’s a considerable difference in sales of 11.4% and pundits say it’s unlikely to improve this year.

Buying a used car in SA

According to WesBank, statistics indicated that 38 343 new cars were sold in May 2016 compared to 89 390 used cars which clearly shows new vehicles sales don’t even come close to used cars.

Who doesn’t love the new car smell or the fact that you are the first owner but second-hand cars simply offer better value for money especially feature-for-feature. Used cars are also likely to ease up on your bank balance with a much lower insurance premium than a new car.

On the flip side, there is that niggling feeling of breaking down in a used car and sometimes sellers don’t really help either. Anyone can get an ‘OBD2 code’ reader and shady sellers can clear codes without fixing any problems.

Rest assured, following these simple steps will help you choose your new (used) car carefully without anyone taking advantage of you.

Step 1: Use your head, not your heart

We’ve all been there and know how hard it is not to fall in love with what seems to be a bargain. Whether it’s your dream car as a child or a reminder of your first true love – be smart and make the right call. Used-car dealers thrive on infatuated customers as they are easily convinced and could end up with an absolute dud.

When you’re looking to buy a car, the secret is to search far and wide and here the internet can be extremely helpful. Consider all your options and be careful buying the first car you see. Give yourself a realistic chance of scouting around and to see what’s out there. Use the first three cars as a point of reference to weigh-up all the pros and cons going forward.

Step 2: Avoid exotic cars

If you’re buying a new car, you can buy almost anything you want as the parts are available and the car will be under warranty. Buying an exotic second-hand car is not so easy mainly because no factory warranty exists and any service or maintenance costs are out of your pocket.

A good example is parts for a Toyota Corolla or a VW Golf versus a Renault. An oil filter can cost as little as R60 but for a Renault in excess of R200. This easily escalates when you own a high-performance or exotic car.

It is more than just considering the price of parts though. You also need to find a service station that can confidently maintain your car. If your engine is more complex than that of a fighter jet, expect to pay premium rates.

In terms of performance, you should ask yourself this very important question; ‘If this Golf GTI, Type R or BMW M3 is so good, why are they selling it?’

It may not always be the case but more often than not, high-performance cars are likely to have been pushed to the limit before they are sold. Steer clear of these unless you are knowledgeable about cars, have a decent mechanic and prepared to pay a premium for parts,

Step 3: Read the seller, not the price tag

There is no hiding from subconscious cues unless you’re a trained spy. Watch the seller closely while you talk about the car and walk around the vehicle pointing out parts. Shifty or nervous behaviour is usually a sign that there’s something wrong with the car.

Keep a close eye on the seller’s body language. If they seem uncomfortable just follow your gut and walk away. Rather this than being stuck with a lemon.

I once viewed a great-looking car for sale but the private seller seemed rushed. Fortunately, I had a good mechanic with me and he pointed out a soapy residue in the oil. For those who don’t know, that’s a tell-tale sign of a blown head-gasket which can be very expensive to repair.

Step 4: Thorough inspection is vital

When the seller asks how much you know about cars, act as if you don’t know much. This means they will only focus on the good points of the car which leaves you with a great opportunity to check the things they didn’t mention.

Specifically, check brake discs for uneven wear; the colour of the oil should be golden brown and not a dark colour. Battery terminals should be clean, tyres in good condition with even wear and the body should be straight. Check the body seams in the engine bay and the boot to identify any signs of accident repairs.

Also, give the car a mighty push with the handbrake up. It should of course not move but if it does, you’ve already identified one problem.

When a car is advertised as having a “new” battery, it could mean there is something wrong with the loom or alternator. Realistically, why would someone sell a car and give you a battery worth R1000? Same applies to new tyres. They’re expensive to just ‘giveaway’ so be careful and keep in mind faulty suspension or problems with the steering.

Lastly, look for body panels where the colour seems a different shade. This could be an indication that the car was involved in an accident and a purchase not to complete.

Step 5: Give it a good test drive

Don’t just jump in and get going. Instead, get the seller to switch on the ignition and let the vehicle idle. Test the wipers, lights and listen to the engine noise. Walk around the car and once it’s been idle for a while, switch it off.

Start the car again leaving the headlights on. If it doesn’t start immediately there may be an electrical problem. Check all lights, aircon, radio, electric windows and mirror switches.

During your test drive, be sure to test all the gears and find a decent incline on your route. Feel for any “flat spots” in acceleration as this could indicate ignition or injector issues. Flat spots are where the acceleration stops momentarily and then picks up again.

Listen for strange noises. Some people are just poor drivers and the old saying comes to mind, “If you can’t find it, grind it” so check for grinding sounds when you brake or change gears especially. This may indicate a serious mechanical fault and it’s best to walk away.

High-pitched squealing noises from the V-belts are also unacceptable under any circumstances and another reason to simply walk away. After the test drive check to see if any fluids have leaked onto the ground. Oil or coolant could indicate serious problems with oil seals, engine or the cooling system.

Last on the checklist is to trust your gut. Does the vehicle “feel right” to you? If the answer is yes, it’s time to sign on the dotted line and happy motoring until the next buy.