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Bad Habits that could Damage Your Car

A car is a major investment and as a car owner, it’s your responsibility to keep it running for as long as possible. Of course, just like everything in life, a car breaks down at some point usually due to everyday wear and tear. But did you know that certain bad habits can shorten the lifespan of your car? Here are some of the most common mistakes that are damaging your vehicle:

You Don’t Use the Parking Brake

Engaging the parking brake is important because the weight of your car will be concentrated on the parking prawl if you don’t. The parking prawl is a tiny piece of metal fitted in the transmission. Unless the load is evened out, the extra weight will eventually break the parking prawl and that requires costly repairs.

You’re Always Low on Fuel

Do not wait until the fuel gauge goes red before giving your car a refill. Keeping your fuel tank full will extend the life of your fuel system. The fuel pumps have to be submerged in the fuel to keep them cool. By keeping the fuel level up, the fuel pumps stay nice and cool, eliminating the need for constant fuel pump replacement.

Accelerating Too Quickly

It’s tempting to flick the shifter to accelerate when the coast is clear but don’t. Changing directions suddenly causes damage to the drivetrain, transmission system, and the axle. Our advice is to stop completely before shifting to a different direction.

Revving the Engine during Warm Up

Warming the engine is a long-held tradition, a must to keep the engine running smoothly before a trip. Warm up helps circulate the engine oil and tune the engine block. But, do not shorten the warm up process by revving the engine because this will cause sudden change in the temperature, which will stress the smaller components of the engine.

Hard Acceleration

Most car owners love the idea of going full throttle whenever the situation presents itself but know better. Mashing on the brakes does more than burn more fuel, the weight of the car will be shifted suddenly to the drivetrain, causing brake pad and rotors damage.

Mashing the Clutch

Do you keep the clutch pushed to the floor to move several inches as the traffic moves? You could be wearing out your release bearing, release arm, and pressure plate each time you abuse the clutch. Pushing the clutch to the floor when you’ve stopped causes the components to scrape against each other, damaging the release bearing and pressure plate. Instead of hitting the clutch, go on neutral before stepping on the clutch.

Packing Unnecessary Junk Inside the Car

Yes, filling the trunk to the brim with junk is bad for your car but how? The heavier the car is, the more stress is placed on the suspension, brakes, and drivetrain. In addition, a heavy load requires more fuel to move. Our advice is to clean out your car, remove all unnecessary junk and sticking to the essentials especially for short trips.

Cleaning Your Car? Don’t Miss These Steps

A car has a lot of nook and crannies and it’s totally normal to miss a spot or two while you clean. If you want to keep your car looking spick and span, achieve a beautiful sparkle, and be clean from the inside and out, don’t forget to keep an eye on these details too:

Car Interior

This may seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at how often the car interior has been ignored during cleaning. And no matter how shiny your car is on the outside, a dusty dash or a mud-ridden carpet will ruin the look of your car. So bust out the vacuum, get your soft microfiber cloths and give your car’s interior a good wipe. And to finish up the look, thrown in an air freshener to keep your car smelling fresh and clean.

Window Screens

It’s hard to tell if the window screen is clean until you drive into the sun and see unsightly traces of thick dust on the surface! To achieve a gleaming clean, get a glass cleaner, spray the product on the screen and give it a good wipe to remove deep-seated dirt on the surface. When left dirty, green muck will start building up on the edges of the screen so to keep your windows spick and span, don’t neglect the edges too!

Door Shuts

Sure, you vacuumed the interiors of the car, cleaned the windows and gave the exterior a nice coating of wax but what about the door shuts? Door shuts are the strip of painted metal on the insides of the car doors. These areas are always neglected and need some love. Again, it takes a keen eye for details to achieve an overall clean in and out of the car so get your microfiber cloth and wipe the scruffs off the door shuts. Do not stop until all grubby marks are removed!

Black Trims

The plastic trims of the tires and car can look grey and unsightly from neglect so keep these spots clean too! You can use a variety of cleaning products to restore their dark finish, remove deep-seated dirt, and accumulated grime. When the black trims are clean, they give a good contrast to the car’s gleam.

Add a Layer of Protection

Washing is not enough to achieve a long-lasting shine; you have to add a layer of protectant in between washes to achieve a beautiful shine that lasts. A quality wax or sealant works to boost shone and make car cleaning a little less of a hassle on the next wash. These products also keeps the paintjob smooth and vivid.

Summary

Hand washing your car is definitely one useful skill that will save you hundreds of dollars on professional cleaning. Of course, there’s always room for improvement. Even the most advanced hand wash experts will come across hiccups along the way. To ensure a thorough clean, keep all these detailing tips in mind and say hello to a perfectly fresh, clean car!

How to Change a Car Battery

While car batteries can take a beating and they can be recharged several times once they’ve died, there are times when the vehicle requires a fresh battery. Just like anything in life, car batteries need regular replacement. To reduce the chances of being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a severely damaged battery, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to remove and replace your old battery with a new one:

You will need:

Adjustable wrench
Lint-free towels or clean cloths
blanket
1 pair disposable latex gloves or working gloves
Water
Baking soda
Battery brush
Safety goggles

To Remove Old Car Battery

To begin, park your vehicle in a shaded area, set it to park and shut off the engine. Wear your safety gears before opening the hood. Pop the hood and place a blanket over the fender to protect the finish from battery acid. With your adjustable wrench, loosen the nut and bolt of the battery’s negative ground clamp. If your vehicle has a positive ground, loosen the cable with the “+” or “POS” first.

Now, remove the cable from the post and set it aside in a safe spot. Proceed by removing the other cable and setting that side as well. If say, you don’t want to remove the bolts, just loosen them to release the battery clamps.

After removing the bolt or screw, remove whatever component that’s holding the old battery in place. Make sure to give the wrench a firm grip so the smaller components won’t be lost inside the engine. Once the battery is free, lift it out of the battery seat and set aside. Use baking soda to remove mineral deposits or rust on the battery tray.

To Install the New Car Battery

Make sure the battery tray is completely dry before placing the new battery because whatever’s left on the tray can cause corrosion. Start by planning the new battery on the tray, making sure that it is facing in the same direction as the old battery to keep the cables in order.

Once the new battery is set in the battery case, use new components to hold the battery in place. The same thing goes for battery cables on the terminals. Check if the battery is hooked in place by wiggling it.

For cars with a negative ground, install the positive cable first, making sure the clamps on the battery terminal are gripping the post. Once everything’s put back together, test your car to make sure everything’s in order.

What to do with Old Car Batteries

Because car batteries are filled with toxic chemicals that may pollute the water and the soil, dispose of it properly by taking it to a recycling center. These service centers will make new batteries out of the old ones, which is great for the environment. Some battery shops also offer to take care of old batteries but ask about it first. You can also call your local recycling center for a referral so you don’t have to pay a single cent to get rid of old batteries.

5 Essential Tools Every Car Owner Should Own

Regardless if you’re a DIY expert or you don’t like getting your hands dirty, having a kit of essential tools is important when you’re a car owner. While there’s no need to spend thousands of dollars on extensive toolkits, there are basic tools that you should never be without, especially during long drives. These tools will come in handy during emergencies so we recommend investing in these items:

Jump Cables

Also known as jump leads, jump cables are a godsend if you’re dealing with a problematic battery. A dead battery may come out of nowhere and it will hit you just when you’re itching to go home. With a set of jump cables, you can ask a friend, a neighbor, or a good Samaritan to help you charge your battery in a jiffy and be on your way. Also, you never know when someone else needs a good jump so keep a set of jump cables in the trunk just in case.

Battery Booster

A dead battery is every motorist’s nightmare but it doesn’t have to be. If you don’t have jump leads, you can get battery boosters as an alternative. A battery booster will keep your car battery fully charged via an electric plug. Just hook your battery into the booster, plug it and you’re done. Most battery boosters come with extras that will prove useful during emergencies, including a torch light or a tire inflator.

Tow Rope

A tow rope will always come in handy during trips so don’t drive without one. It’s easy to use too; just hook one end to the dead vehicle and the other to the moving vehicle to tow. A tow rope is affordable, portable and multifunctional, it can be used to tow your car to your home, move another person’s car in case you’re rescuing another motorist or to move your car in case it broke down on a busy highway.

Wheel Wrench

Most cars come with a free set of wrenches and these tools are very versatile. You can use them to tighten wheel nuts or to change tires. Always throw in a couple of wrenches before your trip just in case you get a flat tire and you need to change it. The last thing you want is to be stranded in the middle of nowhere simply because you forgot your tire wrench! Better yet, invest in a set of high-quality wrench set so you’re always ready to make simple car repairs anytime.

Tire Pressure Gauge

A tire pressure gauge is another affordable yet extremely important car tools every motorist should never be without. Improper car pressure can cause irreparable damage to your tires so do not go on a trip without checking the pressure. This handy tool makes it so easy to check the pressure and it only costs so much less than a set of new tires. It’s also a good idea to get a tire depth gauge so you can always keep an eye on the state of your tire but you can also perform a penny test.

How to Change Your Car’s Spark Plug

Changing a car’s spark plug may seem daunting for the uninitiated but the process itself is surprisingly simple and straightforward. In fact, you can change the spark plug in an hour or less. The key to trouble-free installation is to work on one spark plug at a time. Why? Spark plugs are installed in a proper firing order so each one has to be replaced on the same order. Each spark plug wire should go from the spark source to the spark plug. This means you will only remove the wire from one plug at a time so you don’t disconnect both ends of the wire.

Also, a car has several spark plugs and not all of them requires a replacement at the same time. As such, inspect each spark plug and see if it’s worth saving before replacing it before moving on to the next spark plug. To replace your car’s spark plug, consider this step-by-step guide how:

You will need:

2 lint-free cloth
Oil dipstick
Silicone lubricant
Protective gloves

Start by zeroing in on the spark plug hole located in the cylinder block. Clean the spark plug hole using a lint-free cloth, carefully wiping dirt away from the hole. With your oil dipstick, lightly dab a little oil on the threads of the new spark plug but avoid the getting any oil on the sides or center of the electrodes.

Next, start threading the spark plug into the engine with your hand, turning the plug clockwise to seat the plug. If you cannot hold the plug properly, which is quite normal, try attaching a piece of thin plastic tubing or vacuum hose to the plug get a better grip.

It’s important that you seat the plug by hand so you don’t end up with a crooked spark plug or damaging the threads of the plug or the spark plug hole! It will take about two full turns before the spark plug is secured. Once secured, you can start using the spark plug socket and ratchet.

Put the spark plug socket over the plug and attach the ratchet handle. Continue turning the plug until you feel a resistance. It’s equally important not to turn the plug too tightly or the porcelain component might crack. Stop turning once the plug is no longer wiggling. In addition, the plug should stick a little when you try to loosen it. This is why working with your hand is ideal when changing spark plugs, so you get a feel of the thing as you turn.

After you’re done turning the spark plug, check the cable before attaching its boot to the plug. If the cable looks saturated with oil, frayed, or it’s general gnarly, replace it. Apply a small amount of silicone lubricant on the insides of the boot then push it over the new spark plug has exposed terminal by pressing it in place and you’re done. Now repeat the same process until all the damaged spark plugs are replaced with fresh ones.

How to Condition Leather Car Seats

Leather car seats give the interiors of a vehicle an even more luxe appearance. Unfortunately, this material is prone to scruffs, scratches, and cracking that’s why it’s essential to condition the leather to extend its life and give your car a clean, fresh appearance on the inside. While you can always drive to your local dealer for professional cleaning, you can condition your car seats on your own! Here’s a step-by-step guide how:

Step 1: Clean the Seats

You can’t condition your car seats if they’re dirty so clean them first. If you don’t, grime and contaminant buildup will be sealed into the leather, giving your car seats an uneven finish. Use a leather cleanser and work the product in according to the manufacturer’s direction. Don’t forget to pay careful attention to the folds and creases in the seating because these spots are the dirtiest!

Leather cleaners help get rid of marks and grime on the surface of the material. As far as performance goes, some leather cleaners can remove scruffs and old stains others don’t so we suggest reading various reviews before making a purchase.

Step 2: Apply a Color Restorer

If say, the leather seat is badly stained or the color is no longer even thanks to extended exposure to sunlight, you need to use a leather color restorer after cleaning the seats. These products will stain the material for a uniform color. The key here is to choose a color restorer’s hue that closely matches your seats and leather trims. There’s no need to search for an exact match because color restorers contain ingredients that will blend with your seats’ color over time.

When applying the color restorer, apply thinly, layer the product slowly and work the product carefully so you don’t overdo it and come out with patchy results. Read the manufacturer’s instruction before applying the color restorer.

Step 3: Apply Leather Conditioner

There are two types of leather conditioners, one that soaks into the material to recreate the look and feel of new leather and another that restores the shine of the leather.

The leather conditioner that soaks into the material is often called an “intensive” leather conditioner or a restorer conditioner. These products work on a micro scale to bond with the leather itself, strengthening and protecting the material to achieve “as new” look, smell, and feel.

On the other hand, the second type of leather conditioner is formulated with a glossing agent to give the material a beautiful gleam. Because of the glossing agent, there’s no need to coat the seats with a leather polish after cleaning. Whichever type of leather conditioner you’ll use, make sure to pay careful attention to the creases and folds to achieve an even, thorough clean.

Step 4: Finish Up with a Leather Polish

After cleaning and conditioning the leather seats, seal off your hard work with a leather polish. As the name implies, leather polish gives the leather seats a gorgeous sheen, acting almost like a varnish. Do not apply leather polish unless the material has been cleaned and conditioned completely because the product will seal old stains, making them almost impossible to get rid of!

How to Prep Car for the Winter Season

Winter is upon us and that means it’s time to prep your beloved car for the cold season. Because of the cold, dry air, the engine’s small components are prone to damage. The tires could crack, frozen oil could be lodged into the pipes and battery fluid could evaporate especially if the vehicle is not prepped and stored properly. To keep your car working better as the season gets colder, keep these tips in mind:

Switch to Winter Tires

Once the climate starts getting nippy, it’s time to bust out the winter tires and replace your normal tires. Unlike your average tires, winter tires are heavier, tougher, and more resistant to damage caused by sleet, salt, and snow as well as the dropping temps. Roads are also slippery once winter season sets in and winter tires have better traction, making your car responsive and nimble as you drive.

Check Tire Pressure and Tread Depth

Well-maintained tires are key to road safety in any season, more so during the winter season. This goes especially if you live in a place that gets a lot of snow. Before and after every trip, make a habit out of checking your tire pressure and tread depth. You can use a pressure gauge to check the pressure level. If the pressure is off, go to the nearest gas station and fill the tires up. Consequently, check the tread of your tires via a penny test. Replace the tires if they are worn.

Use Heavy Duty Winter Windshield Wipers

Your wipers are working harder to eliminate snow, slush, and ice off your windshield during the winter season so invest on a pair of high quality, heavy-duty wipers. Before your trip, check if your windshield wipers are working perfectly because you don’t want them to conk out in the middle of a torrential downpour. In addition, use winter wiper fluid during the cold season to keep your windshield clear and clean.

Regular windshield fluid will freeze when exposed to cold air, leasing to a blurry windshield. Because winter fluids are designed to work during the colder season, they will not solidify on your windshield and potentially cause an accident.

Use Winter-Grade Oil

To prepare your engine for the cold weather, use winter-grade oil at your next oil change. As you know, oil and cold don’t mix so you want the engine oil to be as thin as possible so it won’t clog the engine. Winter-grade oil has lower viscosity grade so it won’t clog the system and cause engine trouble. This means if you use 10W-30 oil during the spring to fall season, switch to 5W-30 before the winter season starts.

Checking the Coolant and Anti-Freeze Fluids

As the name implies, antifreeze keeps your engine from freezing during the cold season while coolant helps keep your engine working at its peak all year round. Make sure you have ample amount of coolant and antifreeze before your trip to prevent engine trouble in the middle of a snowstorm.

Keep a Winter Kit

Get a small to medium-sized tool box or even a large cooler and fill it with essential supplies you need in case you get stranded on the road: flashlights, road flares, batteries, first-aid kit, blankets, radio, an extra cell phone (charged, of course), an ice scraper, and several energy bars, beef jerky and other snacks. Put the kit in the trunk.

Check the Battery

A dead battery is pretty common in the early morning when it’s chilly outside. This problem is typically caused by battery fluid evaporating. Heating the battery too fast can cause battery overcharge so to prep your battery, keep the cables clean.

Just pop the hood, detach the cables, and wipe the dirt off with a dry cloth or paper towel. If you want to make sure your battery is in tip-top shape, we suggest driving to the nearest service station to check. You can also call your local mechanic for consultation and possible repairs.

Quick Prep Tips for a Road Trip

Going on a road trip? Make sure your car is in tip top shape before you pack your bags for a long drive! While you can always drive to your local mechanic for a quick check, you can prep your car on your own without spending a single cent. Best of all, prepping your car won’t take the whole day so unless your car is in bad shape, go prep your car for a long drive on your own. Here’s how:

Tires

Start by checking the tires because these will take the brunt of the entire drive. Give the tires a thorough visual check, paying close attention to the state of the treads. Use the penny test to see if the tires require replacing soon. Next, check the air pressure because the pressure will affect your car’s performance and mileage. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended air capacity and watch out for leaks. Finally, make sure your spare tire is in good condition. Again, check the air pressure, paying close attention to the state of the treads.

Cooling System

Check under the hood and visually inspect the engine to see if the cooling system is in good condition. Start by checking the radiator fluid and the reserve tank if it needs to be topped off. If it does, mix antifreeze with water and pour the solution.

Now check the radiator hose for cracks, inspecting if they are attached securely. Give your belts a check too and replace them if they are badly damaged. Depending on your car care skills, you can change the belt in less than an hour. If you cannot replace the belts on your own, let a professional handle it for you.

Oil

An oil change is a must especially if you’re about to go on a cross-country trip. Changing your oil takes only an hour and there’s nothing to it. But for the uninitiated, we recommend hitting the service station for an oil change.

We’d also recommend bringing several extra quarts of engine oil with you during the long drive. Additionally, you want to keep an eye on your pressure oil gauge just to ensure that the engine oil is at the right level.

Transmission Fluid

The automatic transmissions’ do not require extensive maintenance but you need to check if the fluid levels especially if you use your car often. Check if the fluid is low or if hasn’t been changed at all. Drain, flush and replace the transmissions fluid when the level is low. Replacing transmission fluid takes longer than an oil change and we’d recommend having a professional do this for you.

Brakes

There’s no way you’re going on a road trip with bad brakes. Check if your brake pads need replacing or if the rotors are in working order. Bad brakes require extensive repairs and getting it done may mean delaying the trip so do this a few days before the actual trip.

Air Filter

Air filters are surprisingly easy to replace. Ideally, you need to replace your air filter once every 12 months. If you live somewhere dusty, you’ll replace the filter more often than once every year. Changing the air filter is easy, just pop the lid, open the air filter box, remove the old filter and install the new one, easy peasy.

Save More Fuel While You Drive with These Tips

What’s the one thing that all car owners have in common? We just want to save more money on fuel, man. Unfortunately, spending cash on gas is inevitable especially if you drive a lot, that’s a fact. Still, did you know that there are ways to spend less on gas and maximize your fuel? Here are practical ways to squeeze every last drop of fuel out of that tank:

Keep Calm

No, this tip is not based on a meme, being calm as you drive can make your fuel last longer. How? When driving calmly, you don’t step on the brakes all the time and when you take it easy on the brake, you spend less time slowing down and speeding up. To save more gas, we’d recommend maintaining a constant speed throughout your trip. Do this often and your car will be less thirsty after every trip, try it!

Accelerate Slowly

If you’re committed to spending less money on gas, you’ll love this trick: go easy on the acceleration. It’s tempting to crank up the speed as you drive especially on the freeway but acceleration comes at a price, which is more fuel. Accelerate slowly on the road so the engine will demand less fuel. If you’re driving from one stop light to the next and the traffic light is about to go red, we suggest braking gently the rest of the way to reduce fuel consumption.

Cruising Speed

Do you use cruise control often? Most cars come with this handy feature and we think it’s about time you maximize it to spend less cash on gas. If you can’t help but constantly speed up and slow down while you drive, use the cruise control to control your RPMs.

You know that your RPMs will drop when you lower your cruising speed, right? That means if you are driving slower than your average 120 km/h, your car will demand less fuel without noticeable changes in your driving time. Of course, do not depend on cruise control all the time. If you’re driving down a steep hill and your car is starting to down shift, hit the engine brake. Also, always be ready to cancel the cruise control and take over the speed whenever needed.

Keep Your Distance

Even when you’re driving on a very busy street, try to keep a large distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you. This way, you don’t have to hit the brake constantly every time the other car hits the brake. By keeping your distance, it’s much easier to maintain a constant speed and that will translate to more money saved on fuel.

Turn Off the Air Conditioning

If it’s a chilly night and you don’t mind letting the interiors breathe a little while you drive, why not turn off the air conditioning and open the windows? Sure, opening the windows will cause more drag and slow your car down a bit but you’ll save a lot of money if you turn off the air conditioning every now and then. We recommend this trick at night during short trips!

Plan Ahead

When it comes to saving money on trips, nothing beats planning ahead. If you want to use less gas as you drive, we highly recommend planning all your errands on a single trip. This may be impractical at times but your wallet will thank you for it, we promise. It also helps if you check the traffic situation of a certain place before your trip and choose weekdays instead of weekends to do all your errands so you won’t be stuck in traffic, bleeding money away in an awfully busy street.

How to Preserve Your Car Shine for Longer

So you just waxed your car and your beloved vehicle is sitting pretty in the garage, dazzling onlookers with its showroom shine. But let’s face it, all cars are almost always exposed to the elements and that can reduce the life of your car wax, leading to a dull and potentially damaged paintjob. How do you maintain your just-waxed car’s fabulous shine for longer? You can start by avoiding these major offenders:

Extended Sun Exposure

The sun’s ultraviolet rays combined with general heat could wreak havoc to your car’s finish. This goes especially if you applied the wax when the car’s surface is hot. When you take your just-waxed car out for a drive on a particularly hot day, the wax will start breaking down and evaporate, leaving the paint completely vulnerable to the elements!

Sun exposure is out of your hands especially if you need to take long drives on the daily. Our advice is to take more steps in ensuring that your car is protected from direct sunlight when it’s not in use. That includes parking your car in a shaded area, using a car cover when you don’t have a garage, washing your car regularly to get rid of contaminants and investing on high-quality auto paint protection film kits to protect the paint job.

Improper Wax Application

Did you know that improper wax application could cause superficial scratches to the car’s paint job? Over time, these scratches allow corrosion to set in, costing you thousands of dollars on expensive repairs! It’s important to prep your car properly before waxing it to ensure a brilliant shine!

Prepping your car for waxing involves washing the exterior properly to remove contaminants that may scratch the surface and damage the finish. Contaminants may also affect the adherence of any product applied on the car’s exterior, reducing its life in the process. In addition to proper wax application, give the product enough bond time to achieve a glorious shine that lasts.

Wrong Product Choice

Choosing the wrong product could be detrimental to the paint job’s overall finish and longevity. High gloss waxes may seem like the best choice to achieve a showroom shine but the high gleam will not last for long. Paint sealant will last longer than high gloss waxes but the shine will be duller. Our advice is to layer your waxes to achieve a durable and glossy shine that lasts.

Constant Car Cleaning

It’s tempting to clean your car after every trip especially if you live in a place that gets dusty or the terrain’s always muddy but hold off the car cleaning unless it’s needed. Why? Constant cleaning may thin out your car’s paint job because the chemicals from the cleaning agents will strip a layer of carnauba wax. Limit the car wash to one or twice every month if you could. Even better, consult an expert to know when the best time to give your car a thorough wash is.

Contaminants

Contaminants are inevitable that’s why it’s critical to protect your car finish from these pollutants. Bird droppings, dust, tree sap, and road debris will shorten the lifespan of the wax and even damage the paint job. Our advice is to remove and reapply a protective product on your car exterior using a detail spray. Don’t just pile the product on every time you’re reapplying.