Money Saving Automotive Tips on Repairs, Car Buying, Leasing
"When your vehicle is running well, you feel good. When you just beat the salesman, you feel even better. But when your car isn't running well, and you just got taken by the garage or dealer, you feel lousy." This site wants you to be a winner, to feel great.
This may seem pretty simple and it is! Yet it is the most important step. As with anything, have a purpose for what you want to achieve and a plan for achieving it, buying a used car is no different. We recently bought a former company leased car. The husband used it in outside sales. When the lease was up, he paid it off and the car was his. The wife drove it for a few years and sold it to us. My sister also bought a former lease vehicle at a weekend car flea market saving over $5000! Sometimes they just want a quick flip. Consider that option. Check out consumer reports.
>Decide What You Want to Spend!
Write this down too! Over $1,500.00? Do you want to pay cash or make payments? Private sellers are easier to work with than institutions. The person you buy from might allowed you to make monthly payments, with a modest down payment. You also may want a bargain, but be reasonable. You really do get what you pay for. Expecting to get a great car for $600.00 probably does happen, but not often.
Decide That You Want a "Problem Free" Car!
Car Facts - Check the history of the car before you buy from various Internet sites. It could be from Katrina, or it might have any number of problems. Vehicle History Reports
This is very important. You don't want a car that you have to pay through the nose to maintain. This would defeat the purpose of buying a used car. If you have to spend a few hundred dollars the first year, your winning. Check the Newspaper, Credit Unions, Military Bases, Friends and Co-Workers!
When In Doubt, Have It Checked Out!
While a mechanic can give you a pretty good idea of just what shape your used car choice is in, they will not be able to detect all of the repairs that may arise in the future. However, they can certainly help you to know if you are buying a peach or a lemon.
Just the Facts!
Will you make payments to the person who is to sell the car? What are the payment terms? Do you have any recourse if something happens to the car? Will the seller have any recourse if you do not live up to your agreement? It just makes good sense to sit down with the seller and make a list of your concerns about the purchase and sale of the auto. This will be your contract and in order to protect you both, its is best to get it all down in writing.
Decide on a Good Mechanic!
A mechanic can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Like friends, it is up to you to choose one carefully. Ask around. Friends will tell you about reliable mechanics that work on their cars. Go to one and ask questions. Observe how he or she responds to you, if they are friendly and know their business. The first mechanic may quote you on repairs that total $800.00. A real nice fellow, but a second mechanic may say most of the repairs recommended by the first mechanic weren't even necessary. It happens all the time. Which only goes to prove that one must be ever vigilant and prepared when dealing with repair facilities!
Decide to Be Diligent In Maintaining Your Car!
This requires being proactive in taking care of your car. Change the oil faithfully and the car will purr like a contented cat. Ask the mechanic questions about the car.
Decide What You Can Do Without!
Concentrate on safety and dependability. Prioritize. You can't have everything.Pray! Whether you believe in a "higher power" or not, what is it going to hurt? Besides, aren't your safety, comfort and convenience worth a little extra insurance? Be patient that all your research and diligence will pay off because like all worthwhile endeavors, it will. The most important negotiation tool is information. The more you know about the type of car or specific model, the more comfortable the discussions. It will be obvious when you've found a good deal. It will also be possible to identify inaccuracies in the seller's commentary and logically argue the value of the specific vehicle you are contemplating. You'll also know what the right car is worth to you. Do you want to keep looking or is the current deal one you can live with? Spend a month studying the particular make and model you want to buy and become an expert. The research also helps to decide which product you want and to know when a good deal crosses your path. For instance, someone was looking for a particular model and the ones found were in different states of disarray, all for around $4,000. When one was found garaged in perfect condition for $2,500 - pay dirt. You can then confidently say: "I'll take this vehicle off your hands." Automotive TipsHere are a few tips to help you keep your car running in top condition.Never try to start your car for more that 20 seconds at a time. It causes extreme amperage draw and can sometimes damage battery cables (even melt the protective insulation down). But more important than that is, it can ruin the starter. The starter is only designed for running short intervals. So take a one minute break between every 20 second interval of using the starter.
If your engine has ever overheated, the transmission has likely overheated too. Make sure to change the transmission fluid promptly. It is important to your transmission's longevity. Once the transmission fluid overheats, it loses much of its protective properties.If you feel a pulsation or vibration during braking, many mechanics will automatically machine your front brake discs. Sometimes this vibration can be your rear drums. To tell the difference, try to notice if the vibration is coming through the steering wheel or through your seat. The steering wheel indicates front brakes, your seat indicates rear drums. You can use this method to also determine the front or rear location of other general vibrations.
Keep in mind the oil pressure light on the dashboard is not a foolproof system. If the light does come on, the engine has been without oil long enough to do severe damage.If the water does not bead up on the car's exterior after it has rained, it is time for a wax job. Your Car should be waxed twice a year; more if you drive near salt water or park your car outside.
If white smoke flows from your exhaust after the engine warms up, it could indicate a leaky head gasket (this is commonly referred to as a blown head gasket). The coolant leaks into the combustion chamber and burns to make the white smoke. Other symptoms to look for are oil in the radiator fluid or water in the engine oil. Also be aware that white smoke can also just mean that the car is running rich. However, a rich running engine will usually emit white smoke immediately after start-up and continue thereafter.When adding oil to the engine, make sure to wipe away any oil that spills on the ignition wires. Oil destroys the insulation on the wires, making them weak.Symptoms of piston ring wear are: hard starting in cold weather, blue smoke from the exhaust, and power loss going up inclines or when accelerating. If you are experiencing these symptoms, be prepared for a "ring job" (expensive). However, worn valve stem seals could also show the same symptoms. If there is constant blue smoke it is probably the rings. If the blue smoke is only during deceleration, it is most likely a seal.Most people ruin their door locks without knowing. Never use lock de-icer without re-lubricating the lock. De-icer contains alcohol that melts the ice but also dilutes the lubricant in the lock; therefore causing the locks to stick and finally fail. Do not use regular penetrating oil, it washes out the lubricant in the lock. Make sure to use a graphite lubricant or sewing machine oil.
How do I get the musty odour out of my car? A deodoriser will mask the problem temporarily and steam cleaning will get rid of it for a while, but it will come back. The trick is to get the carpets and upholstery steam cleaned and then remove the carpets and under-padding to wash the floorpan (the musty smell usually comes from the moisture between the floorpan and the carpet. Don't forget to wash the floor, seats, carpet, headliner and all upholstery with a disinfectant such as Lysol. If you have access to an ozonator, (I have an ozonator/ionizer) it can help to destroy the odors as well. But you must not run it too long or it will also eventually oxidize anything rubber or plastic. Several hours should be enough to kill the odor-causing bacteria and mildew. Incidently, the latter is also excellent for removing the mildew odor from boats, and a must for sterilizing your ducting in home or office.Never rest your hand on the gear shift knob, it causes increased wear and premature failure to the synchronisers. The synchronisers are what stop the gears from grinding every time you shift.A little safety tip: make sure to clean dirt off your headlights. The road grime in winter tends to coat the lights when following other cars and reduce visibility. This may sound unnecessary but try it, it makes a big difference. This is also common in the spring and autumn months with wet dirt roads.To get the haze off your windshield that your wipers or washer fluid won't remove, wash the windshield with vinegar, rinse with water, and dry.If you get stuck in mud or snow, the best way to get out is to gently accelerate back and forth to produce a rocking motion. Note that 15% tire spin gives you maximum traction, so do not "gun it". Also, do not rock more than a few times as you take a chance of damaging your automatic transmission.One of the simplest and least expensive horsepower gains comes from a tuned free-flowing exhaust. A set of exhaust headers with a low back-pressure muffler will normally increase horsepower by up to 15%.If you are buying an older used car with an automatic transmission, be very careful which one you choose. The horsepower loss between different transmissions varies dramatically. The local transmission shop will be able to quote you exact figures on different transmissions and their horsepower "robbing" capabilities. The percentage can range from I 0% loss of power all the way up to 35%, although the latter is very rare. Most newer cars are only 4-8%, but watch out for some of the older years.Another great way to get low cost horsepower is to make sure your engine gets the air it needs to bum the fuel. This can be accomplished by installing a performance air cleaner like ones offered by K&N or installing a secondary air cleaner to increase air intake volume.Nail polish remover is a great cleaner for small parts. It contains mostly acetone and can also remove tar and bugs from chrome. Keep in mind that it also removes paint; so don't get it near any.When working on a car and trying to free a rusted bolt or nut, use a propane torch to heat it then melt a little candle wax around the head. It acts like a lubricant and allows the nut or bolt to be removed easily. As corny as this tip sounds, it works great.How to fix an annoying fan belt squeal even after it is adjusted: If spraying on fan belt dressing only eliminates the problem temporarily, try scuffing the pulley with very fine sandpaper. This is another hint. Philips head screwdrivers frequently slip out of the screw groove. Try using a little valve grinding compound on the tip of the screwdriver for tough screws. The gritty compound gives the screw a little more grip which prevents you from rounding off the slots in the screw.Automotive hand cleaner works well to get the oil and grease off of ignition wires, vacuum lines, and hoses. Your engine will sparkle.Remember that some metric wrenches work on SAE (English) bolts and vice versa. They aren't exact, but they will suffice. Try the following possibilities: 1/2 inch = l3mm, 9/16 inch = 14, 3/4 inch = 19mm, 13/16 inch = 21mm.Rough idle quick-fix: Many cars with fuel injection can develop a rough idle after 10,000 miles. This may be due to a carbon build-up and can be easily eliminated by spraying some carburettor cleaner into the throttle body or air intake while the vehicle is running.Remove annoying adhesive residue from your paint (usually from a sticker you have peeled off) by using WD40, CRC or lighter fluid. Make sure to remove all the fluid after the residue is removed since it can damage the finish of your paint if left in place.If you do your own brake work, a little tip is to place masking tape over the brake shoes so you don't get grease or oil on them (which always seems to happen). Then right at the end when everything is in place, just remove the tape. Note: most people forget to remove it so right a little note to yourself and tape it to the steering wheel. If you're on the road and your car quits, most people want to check if the car is getting "spark." Testing this is easy. Take one plug wire off. Take a straightened paperclip and place it inside the plug boot so it touches the metal. Hold the end of the paperclip about 1/4 inch away from a bare metal surface (like an exhaust manifold). Have someone crank the engine over. If you get a spark between the manifold and the paperclip, you are getting spark to the fuel, unless you have a bad spark plug (very rare).
Never wear jewellery when working on a car. It can either trap your hand by snagging on a part or cause an electrical short if you put your hands between a "hot" wire and a grounded part.Studies have shown that 33% of all vehicles on the road have air filters in need of replacement. This can decrease your fuel economy by up to 10% by providing insufficient air volume to burn the fuel dispensed by the injectors. Make sure to get yours checked.Do not rev the engine before turning it off. This was a common practice for older cars, but it is not necessary for newer ones. It can cause excessive wear on the cylinder walls and contaminate the engine oil with gasoline. You should normally turn an engine off as soon as you stop. Nevertheless, there is an exception to this rule. After a long high-speed trip, let the engine idle for a minute or so before turning it off. This allows the engine to cool, eliminate hot spots, and relieve hot fuel vapours that could cause vapour lock and result in hard starting.
Excessive idling creates extra engine wear and breeds contaminants in the oil. Idling is one of the most severe modes of engine operation.To cool an engine if it is overheating in traffic, simply put the car in neutral and press down the accelerator slightly to increase the idle. This action increases the coolant flow which could bring the engine temperature down just enough to prevent overheating. If this isn't enough, try rolling down the windows and turning on the heater full blast to dissipate some of the engine heat.Run the air conditioner at least 10 minutes every week. This procedure helps avoid costly breakdowns.With a manual transmission, start the engine in neutral and engage the clutch. There is less drag on the engine and it is easier to start (especially in winter months when cold motor oil is very thick).If you find the information you have just read valuable, you may be interested in a new book called Car Secrets Revealed: Tips on Car Buying, Leasing, Repairs, Insurance, and More/with IBM and MAC software, written by Corey Rudl. There are hundreds of "insider" secrets on just about everything automotive. It covers topics such as how to reduce your car insurance by 50%, how to get free repairs after your warranty expires, how to buy cars (and parts) at wholesale prices, how to legally beat the police radar speed traps, how to avoid the auto repairs rip-offs, and hundreds more.
Disclaimer: The tips here are meant to help you with keeping your car running the way it was designed, and not to take the place of a trained mechanic. You should consult a mechanic if you are experiencing any problems beyond your skill level.