Knowledge is power. One of the stereotypes in the automotive business is, "The mechanic is going to rip you off". This stereotype comes from a fair amount of truth, unfortunately. Not everyone is honest, in any industry. To safe guard your self, learn a little bit about auto mechanics. You don't have to go to school or be expected to actually be a mechanic. Just learn some basics, so no one can tell you that your muffler bearings are bad or that you're low on blinker fluid. (Lesson one: Those are not real things) Browse through some of the topics and learn. Don't see what you'd like to know, feel free to email with topics you'd like to see.
Whether you are planning to go on vacation with an RV trailer, taking a boat out or just have to haul a trailer to the dump, be prepared. Know what your vehicle is capable of towing and that it is properly equipped for what you plan to do. Consider this, exceeding capacity can cause premature failure of brakes, axle bearings, transmission and engine due to overheating. Don’t just think about yourself, not having proper trailer brakes (when needed) can impair your ability to stop and could cause an accident.
Here is a complete guide to towing from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Guide in PDF format
Auto Outlet can advise you with the capacity of your vehicle and equip it to keep you safe. Auto Outlet installs receiver hitches, 5th wheel and gooseneck hitches, brake controls and any wiring you may need.
The changing colors of coolant. It used to be quite simple, coolant was green. Now there is green, dark green, orange, pink, yellow, red and even blue. What does it all mean? That’s a good question since there isn’t really a standardization yet. The green is still the same ethylene glycol but the others are propylene glycol with either organic or inorganic acid technology. The acid technology is designed to inhibit the electrolysis and corrosion of aluminum, since most newer cars are using aluminum core heaters, radiators, water pumps, not to mention, aluminum heads and blocks are more common as well.
Here is a technical service bulletin about the changing colors of coolant – TSB in PDF format
Auto Outlet can determine what coolant is best for your vehicle and perform any cooling system service or repair. Auto Outlet stocks the common coolants but can order whatever your vehicle needs.
Oil Change Intervals
What you don't know about your car's oil is probably costing you time and money.
Too many dealer service lanes and quick lube places still make you feel like a bad parent if you don't change your car's oil every 3,000 miles, But the 1970s are over and so is that requirement.
Engines are built to more precise tolerances today, meaning there is less internal slop that leads to wear and less need for oil to operate as a cushion between warring parts. Oil is absolutely vital, but advanced machining and metallurgy ensure longevity more than ever.
Modern cars often have adaptive indicators on the dash that monitor your drive time and frequency, temperature cycles and engine RPM over time to deliver an adaptive oil change interval recommendation. If you use your car to make pizza deliveries in Manhattan during heat waves, it may suggest an earlier oil change. Most other driving behavior will fall under the standard recommendation.
The main way oil itself fails is viscosity loss, when it becomes thin and less cushioning due to its molecular chains breaking down under heat and pressure. Your oil effectively becomes a lower viscosity rating when that happens, offering less protection. But today's common synthetic oils simply resist that kind of breakdown far better than the old non-synthetics.
The modern car doesn't subject oil to high temperature swings the way cars did a few decades ago; You almost never see one boiling over on the side of the road today. These bulletproof cooling systems mean engine oil is seldom cooked the way it once was.
Aside from all this engineering, there are some interesting market factors to think about.
A few car buyers are intent on keeping a car until it has 300,000 miles or until they die, whichever comes first. Have at it. Most of us won't want a car that obsolete down the road; it would be missing too many safety and technology advances.
There's an old-school theory out there that carmakers want your car to wear out sooner than later so they can sell you a new one. I can't imagine many consumers buy the same kind of car after a systemic engine failure. Quite the contrary.
The growth of leasing is also a huge factor. 3.9 million cars will come off lease and often be returned to carmakers in 2018, needing to sold or leased again with an extended factory warranty. Carmakers don't want a bunch of time-bomb engines on the lot that they'll be on the hook to fix down the road. We all think engineers and designers run car companies, but CFO's really do and these kinds of costs are very much on their minds.
There was a time when changing your oil much more frequently bought you meaningful insurance. That was also when seat belts were optional.
Many people ask questions about lighting. How can I see better at night or in bad weather? There isn't one answer to this question. Many people think just putting in brighter headlight bulbs will solve the problem. Sometimes, that can make it worse. Now days, there are many different types and colors of lights.
Let's talk about color first. As any painter will ask you, "what color of white do you want?" As many of you know this is a good question, and it goes for lighting as well. However, color is not just a preference, it effects performance as well. "Whiter" light pierces into the darkness very well and reflects off objects well, where as a more yellow light does not reflect off things as much. You say, "Give me the brightest, whitest lights". Now when there's rain, snow or fog you can't see but a few feet in front of you. That's because the light is reflecting off the moisture in the air. The incandescent and halogen lamps are a middle of the road good multipurpose lamp. To get the best for either situation will require separate lamps.
Brighter light is usually a good thing. Brighter is better for visibility for sure, but there are a few things to consider. Where is the light going? Is it in the eyes of on coming traffic? Is it way out on the sides of the road? Beam control is what I'm referring to. The effectiveness of a lamp is only as good as it's reflector and lens. Some manufacturer headlamp reflector and lens are awful, some are very good. Put your vehicle about 30 feet from a flat wall at night and see where your light is going. Is it focused on the road or everywhere? Sometimes aiming the lights will make a huge improvement. Are the lenses clear or have they discolored to a translucent whitish yellow color? Polish or replace them, you're loosing a lot of usable light there.
Types of lights. In most vehicles made since 1996, they have been equipped with halogen, HID or LED lighting. A halogen lamp functions identically to an incandescent lamp, with one notable exception: The halogen cycle. In a typical incandescent lamp, tungsten slowly evaporates from the burning filament. This causes blackening of the lamp, which decreases light output and reduces life.
Halogen lamps are largely able to eliminate this problem because the halogen gas reacts chemically with the evaporated tungsten to prevent it from affixing to the glass. Some tungsten is returned to the filament, which also serves to increase the rated life of the lamp. Because the temperature required for this reaction is higher than a typical incandescent bulb, halogen lamps must generally be manufactured using quartz. The life expectancy of a halogen bulb is about 2000 hours or 2 years.
The HID lamp functions by sending an electric arc between two tungsten electrodes which are housed in an arc tube, usually constructed of quartz. The tube is filled with an amalgam of gas and metal salts. An arc is created with an initial surge of electricity, facilitated by the gas in the lamp. The arc then heats the metal salts, and a plasma is created. This increases considerably the light produced by the arc, resulting in a source of light which is more efficient at creating visible light instead of heat than many traditional technologies such as incandescent or halogen lamps.
Since there is no filament the life expectancy of the HID is 2500+ hours and is considerably brighter than halogen. Conversion kits are available for most bulb styles.
Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are at the forefront of modern illumination for every purpose imaginable, because of their high efficiency, long life, fast switching capabilities, and vibrant color spectrum possibilities. Every year, smaller and smaller LEDs are developed that produce more and more light, as a function of the power consumed. The high brightness potential is one of the main reasons many auto manufacturers are replacing incandescent lighting fixtures with LED versions, whether it is the 3rd brake light, tail lights, interior lighting, or even the headlights. The life expectancy of LED bulbs is about 50,000 hours.
Since the introduction of LEDs, the subject of brightness has been redefined. To learn more about measuring brightness (Lumens, Candelas, and LUX) Read the full research from Diode Dynamics.
Have you ever wanted to buy new wheels for your vehicle or maybe pick up a used set of snow tires on rims for easy winter change over? Well then, you'll need to know what size and bolt pattern to look for. Size is pretty simple, most of what you need to know is printed on the side of the tire as seen here. The LT - stands for Light Truck (P - passenger and there are others). 245 - is 245 millimeters of width. 75 - is the ratio of width to height aspect. R - is the speed rating. 16 - is the rim diameter.
The rim is a different story. There is diameter, bolt pattern, and back spacing. Diameter is pretty straight forward. However, bolt pattern can be tricky. 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 bolt patterns with combinations of different spacing between them. Fortunately, here's a handy tool from the Classic Car Restoration Club to help with bolt pattern.
Back spacing is the positive or negative shift of the mounting surface of the wheel from center. This is important when fitting custom wheels on a vehicle.