Check Your Tire Pressure Yourself

Image via Flickr by First Stop – Bridgestone UK’s Tyre Retail Network

The high cost of routine car maintenance can tempt many Americans to skip their scheduled services. However, this can be a costly mistake, as the annual bill for accidents resulting from poorly maintained vehicles tops two billion dollars. You can stay safe and save your money with these easy and essential DIY jobs for car owners.

1. Check Your Tire Pressure

Your tires are your contact with the road, so it’s vital that they’re in good shape. However, they lose at least one or two pounds of air every month. Because of this, you should check their air pressure every other time you fill your car to ensure your tires are handling well and wearing evenly. Maintaining the correct pressure will make your car safer and improve your gas mileage.

A cheap tire air pressure gauge will tell you whether your levels match those recommended in your owner’s manual. Remember to check the pressure cold for the most accurate reading. If your tires are underinflated, you can add more air at the gas station. continue reading…

Not performing oil changes can damage your car

Image via Flickr by AJ Hill

So you finally purchased a new car. Now what? Unfortunately, for many car owners, that question never gets answered. Bad maintenance habits alarmingly depreciate the value of cars. Not to mention, purchasing a car, especially if opting for a new car, generally falls second only to a home in investment purchases. However, waiting for something to go wrong on a car before examining it makes it one of the worst investments a consumer can make. Here are a few signs that you’re sending your vehicle six feet under:

Not Performing Oil Checks and Changes

Oil changes are a relatively cheap security measure for your car, ranging anywhere between ten to forty dollars, with many auto repair shops offering frequent discounts or coupons. However, one of the most common and costliest mistakes drivers make is to extend an oil change past the recommended date. The ultimate guide to reference is your owner’s manual, which provides exact mileage or monthly estimates for oil changes. Ignoring the manual’s guidelines could mean permanent engine damage, and replacing an engine often straddles the cost line of replacing the car entirely.  continue reading…

Reasons to love cars

Image via Flickr by Mel Silvers

Back in the early 1900s, people instantly fell in love with cars. It all started with the mass-produced Model T Ford. Since then, people have relied on cars to get them from point A to point B and have practically made their cars part of the family. People love cars for all sorts of reasons. Take a look at these four reasons why this love affair isn’t going anywhere.

Freedom: I Can Go Wherever I want

Public transportation is a useful tool for students, commuters, and the environmentally conscious, but most people aren’t too keen on the idea. That’s because it’s a hassle, takes longer than a car, and there are limitations on where you can go. Cars provide people with freedom to go wherever they want. continue reading…

Things to Consider Before Trading In

Image via Flickr by David Hillowitz

If you’ve never had the humbling experience of trading in your vehicle, it helps to have a few things figured out before heading over to your local car dealership. The next few tips can push your trade-in value higher.

What is Your Car Worth, Really?

There are many sites that can take the make and model of you car and give you an estimate on how much your car is worth. Kelly Blue Book is the most well-known resource. It will give you a price range that you should expect in your area. It does warn against the following conditions that will affect your trade-in. continue reading…

Knowing When to Replace Your Tires

Image via Flickr by omninate

Knowing when to replace your car’s tires isn’t an exact science. A lot of factors determine when you should buy new tires. Generally, though, you can follow these four tips to know when your car needs new tires.

Replacing Tires by Mileage

The average tire can handle about 40,000 miles of travel before it starts becoming unsafe. That number depends on the vehicle’s weight, weather conditions, the types of surfaces you drive on, and how many nails you run over. In other words, don’t take this number as a certainty. If your tires are reaching 40,000 miles, though, it’s time to take a close look at them. They’re probably due for a change.

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Since the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) announced its recommendation to slash the amount of ethanol that’s blended into gasoline, the Internet has been in overdrive trying to either defend or condemn the suggested reduction. The EPA aims to reduce the required amount of ethanol added to gasoline, but some members of the senate are calling for an end to the mandate altogether via the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act of 2013 (CEMEA). Read on to learn about the most important aspects of the ethanol mandate and how, if at all, it impacts Americans.

1. It’s Old News

corn

Image via Flickr by fishhawk

The ethanol mandate is nothing new. The bill was bundled in with the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005 and expanded in 2007. The mandate largely dictates how much ethanol (alcohol typically produced with corn) oil companies must purchase to create gasoline. The mandate’s initiative was to ensure a renewable fuel source was used in the production of all biofuel. The mandate also aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, there is little evidence the mandate has actually accomplished its initial goals.

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Image via Flickr by DrivingSpirit

Image via Flickr by DrivingSpirit

Car wheels, also known as rims come in all sizes, designs and materials. It can be confusing for some to understand the difference between the various types of wheels. Here, we provide you with a short education car rims and wheels.

The Reason for the Confusion

Google has long been known for offering alternate suggestions to Internet searches. Search for “car wheels” and Google will recommend:

  • Custom car rims and wheels
  • Alloy rims
  • Aluminum rims
  • Steel car rims
  • And more!

The type of metal materials used in car wheels varies quite a bit. Most auto manufacturers now use alloy wheels—a combination of metals, but what metals? Let’s dig in a little deeper.

The Favored Alloy Wheel: Aluminum and Magnesium

Alloy rims are made from a combination of metals—aluminum and magnesium or both. According to Auto Universum, these wheels became popular in the 1980s although they were first utilized as far back as 1924 on modified racing vehicles.

Although you can ask tire experts what specific metals are used in alloy wheels based on manufacturer, for most cars, vans, trucks and SUV, aluminum alloy wheels come with the vehicle. Sportier vehicles will use alloy magnesium rims—also called “Mag wheels.”

Aluminum alloy wheels are less expensive than Mag wheels but both are now popular choices due to their durability. In addition, whether you choose Mag or aluminum alloy wheels, both tend to be lighter than the older steel material used in wheels. Alloy rims make vehicle handling more responsive including braking. continue reading…

shutterstock_105380801-ogIt’s important that you understand your car. The better you understand it, the more likely you are to be able to figure out when there is a problem. In addition, knowing your car helps you feel more comfortable with it, and with fixing it when there are small issues.

1. Spark Plug

One of the parts of the engine that you need to understand is the spark plug. Your car has several spark plugs. These are the items that ignite the fuel and air mixture that is in the engine, so that combustion happens. It’s important that your spark plugs are working properly, because otherwise the engine won’t get the spark it needs, and the car won’t work. The spark is needed to heat and cause friction in the engine. In addition, each cylinder needs its own spark plug. So, if you have a four cylinder car, you should also have four spark plugs.

2. Cylinders

The cylinders in an engine are the core of how it works. There are usually four, six, or eight cylinders in a car, and they can be arranged in different ways. They are either inline, V, or flat, and each configuration offers a different way the car runs in terms of smoothness. It can also change the cost of the car and the shape. The configurations also explain how the cylinders line up. The cylinders are the space in which the pistons are able to move, keeping the engine going. continue reading…

Image via Flickr by stephenhanafin

Image via Flickr by stephenhanafin

Before setting out on your next car-buying adventure, make sure you learn about these common mistakes. Otherwise, you’ll look like just the kind of newb that car dealerships love to manipulate into spending more money than necessary.

Mistake #1: You Focus on Monthly Payments Instead of Overall Price

Dealerships can make just about any car fit your monthly budget by extending your loan’s term. Let’s say you want to buy a car that costs about $30,000, but you want to spend less than $600 per month on the vehicle. A savvy salesperson will show you that you can afford that $30,000 car by extending your loan to five years.

With an eight percent interest rate and a $2,000 down payment, you can get the car for about $567 per month. That only sounds like a great deal to newbs who don’t think about the long-term effects of borrowing money. By the time you finish repaying the loan, you’ve spent over $36,000 on your new car. That’s $6,000 more than the original price.

If you take a three-year loan with the same interest rate and down payment, you’ll spend about $877 a month, but your total repayment will fall to about $33,500.

If you really can’t afford the shorter loan term, then you should look at less-expensive vehicles. Who says you need a $30,000 car?

Mistake #2: You Don’t Haggle Over the Details

Even newbs know that they should haggle instead of paying sticker price. Few of them, however, know how to negotiate properly.

Don’t haggle over the total cost of the vehicle (including the price, your trade-in value, and financing). Instead, talk about each of these aspects individually. When done properly you could get:

  • a lower price on your new car
  • a higher price for your trade-in
  • a lower interest rate on your loan

If you try to haggle all of those aspects as one overall price, the salesperson will always have the upper hand. continue reading…

If you think you know what a luxury car is, think again. The automobile landscape has shifted, and old definitions of luxury no longer apply. Read on to discover how times have changed and what makes a luxury car in today’s market.

Image via Flickr by Saebaryo

Image via Flickr by Saebaryo

How Has the Meaning of Luxury Cars Changed?

Price was once the greatest indicator of a car’s luxury status. However, according to Toyota Lexus’ vice president of marketing Brian Smith, “the difference is not just price.” Instead, he feels luxury has more to do with the car owner’s experience, from the treatment he receives at the dealership to the satisfaction he feels owning the car.

Don Butler, Cadillac’s marketing manager, agrees modern luxury is more to do with “the feel of the vehicle.” ”The definition of luxury changed,” he mused in an interview with USA Today. “Luxury was size, space, comfort, presence.”

While these traditional markers can still be found in luxury vehicles, they aren’t such definitive indicators.

Ludwig Willisch, the president of BMW, North America, adds “emotion” is now the intangible force which separates a luxury car from the rest of the market.

What’s Behind This Shift?

For the past two decades we’ve seen the price of luxury vehicles dropping as their sales soared. This shift to lower price points has made luxury automobiles more attainable to a wider range of car enthusiasts.

Some observers, including Canadian car analyst Dennis DesRosiers, wonder whether pricing luxury vehicles comparably to mid-range cars undermines the core brand values of these luxury labels. They argue that chasing sales may be detrimental to these premium brands’ reputations.

“I could argue that one of the kicks a luxury buyer gets out of embracing a luxury vehicle is the signal to their neighbor that they can afford to ‘overpay’ for their vehicle and their neighbor can’t,” he reasoned to The Globe and Mail.

But perhaps these labels aren’t simply aiming to increase their sales, but to compete with the mid-range labels muscling in on the luxury sector. Established luxury labels may need to adapt to the changing auto landscape to remain relevant.

Whatever the case, perhaps it’s just time to accept a new definition of luxury which goes beyond tradition. continue reading…