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Saving the World, One Car at a Time

carsIn the search for cars that are efficient, fast, and earth-friendly, a lot of car makers have attempted to create unique vehicles that can help lower pollution without the risk of slowing down transportation for drivers and passengers alike. Some have failed and some have come up with brilliant ideas that most of us have embraced today. One of these ideas is the methane powered cars – cars that use biogas that has effectively helped in lowering air pollution throughout the years. (more…)

Transporting Large Used Car Parts With a Hire Trailer

trailerIf you are repairing or restoring a vehicle there will come a time when you need to transport the parts required for repair. In most cases, repairs require a few small parts that are easily transported, but what about a larger repair where car body parts or larger mechanical parts are needed? This isn’t a problem if you have a large vehicle or truck, but not all of us have this type of vehicle. In this situation a standard vehicle may have trouble transporting these parts and you may need an alternative. This is where a hire trailer could make the job much easier. (more…)

How I Decided To Salvage A Used Car And Rebuild It

My son recently graduated from college. Before taking a job overseas, he decided to come home and spend a few months with his old man.

My son is a smart kid. He stepped into the world of entrepreneurship when he started an online store to sell the best vacuum for dog hair. By the time he graduated, his store was a hit and he was already making big bucks. We would often sit after dinner and look at the kinks in his online store system. Being a software engineer, I had valuable advice to offer to him. One day, while educating him about cheap penny hosting options available for his website, we decided it was time to get away from internet and take on a real life project. The next day, we went to a yard sale and bought a used car.

Tips to run a successful project:

The idea was to refurbish the car into a sleek vehicle for fun, and give my son the garage lessons he never got to have before. However, before getting into deep, we thought it best to lay some ground rules that would be useful to any budding mechanic looking to remodel a used car. First of all, we thought it would be best if we kept the difficulty level low. Taking on a complicated project would just kill our enthusiasm as we wake up each day to find a wreck lying in our garage that we can’t fix. We had limited time on our hands as my son was here for a few months only, thus we decided to take on a simpler project and build our confidence as it moves along.

The next thing mandatory before starting remodeling of a car is creating a budget. Make sure how much extra cash you have to spend on the project, account for all the parts you are going to buy and leave some flexibility for mistakes. You don’t want to spend all your money at the start and realize midway that the car needs more repairs or extra parts. Getting stuck halfway through the project is the most frustrating phase. You certainly want to avoid that and plan your budget smartly and efficiently.

As we started working on the car, we learnt that it was better to document every step. We discussed the pros and cons of every part we decided to replace, we did our research and talked to some mechanics to get their take on several matters and we took notes. That way, when we got back from the garage, we would look over the notes with fresh eyes and find out if any mistakes were made before it was too late.

The end note:

Last, but not the least, find your motivation. My motivation behind this project was to spend time with my son and build something extraordinary out of an ordinary used and run-down car that was good for nothing. Once you know the value of the project, let it be monetary or sentimental, you invest yourself into the project and don’t lose interest halfway!

5 Tips On Car Maintenance For Beginners

When you’re underneath the hood, car maintenance can feel like a jungle sometimes. A car is a being in itself, and it needs lots of love and care if it’s going to live as long as you’d like it to. Car mechanics can be cheap, and take you on a run for you money, so learning some basic DIY maintenance yourself just might save you a fortune. Regardless, it’s a fun hobby to take up, and it adds a more intimate bond with the device that gets you around and enables you to live your life.

Here are five beginner’s tips for car maintenance.

1. Checking your oil level.

One trick that’s easy enough, and most rookies should be capable of, is checking the oil level. You’re engine needs oil to survive, it’s more of its water than gas. Oil keeps everything working and running smoothly, and, like a plant, too much or too less of it is going to cause you some serious problems. To check the oil – the best time to do this is when you have not driven in a while, the engine needs to cool down to get an accurate assessment – find the dipstick and pull it out. Wipe the dipstick clean with a clothe and push it all the way back in. Once you pull it out again you’ll notice two dots with an “H” and “L”. This will tell you how much oil and to what level is in the vehicle.

2. Changing a tire.

First of all, you need to stabilize the car by making sure it’s entirely even on the ground, this is especially true with 6+ passenger vehicles. After doing this, take the jack and find the nearest jacking point to the tire you’re expecting to change. After you find the point you work the jack until the car is up in the air enough to take the tire off – then you work off the lug nuts, remove the tire, put on a spare, or new tire, and work the lug nuts back on.

3. Tire pressure.

Tires can be expensive, and keeping an eye out on your tire pressure will mitigate the cost of new tires. On the inside ledge of your driver’s door you should find the correct pressure rating for your vehicle. After find the pressure rating you’ll remove the dust cape and apply the pressure gauge. This will tell if your tire is over or under inflated; if the tire is under-inflated, you’ll need to add more air with an air pump; if the tire is over-inflated, you’re going to need to let some air out.

4. Checking your coolant level.

Another thing your engine cannot go without, the Coolant level is something else to watch out for an relatively easy to check. Every engine has its own set-up, but if you check your vehicle’s handbook you should find where the coolant reservoir is located. In most cases, you’ll find it bolted to one side of the engine bay or another, and will likely be a white, semi-transparent bottle. This is another task you should do when your car has had the opportunity to sit for a moment as it’s best to do when the engine is cool. An important thing to remember is not to take the radiator cap off to check coolant levels. If you do this and the coolant system is still hot, then it is still under pressure and you run the risk of releasing this pressure that could very easily, and intensely, burn you.

5. Adding engine oil.

After checking your handbook to see what kind of oil your car requires, you can purchase the oil from most supermarkets and gas stations. Find the oil cap, unscrew it, and poor a quart or whatever the recommended amount in the vehicle. You can use the above mentioned to check the oil. Overall adding the oil is pretty self-explanatory, just remember to screw the cap back on or you’ll run the risk of a fire.

Formula One World Champion Races a Lawn Mower

Formula One racing driver Kimi Rakkonen, whom has won 1 World Championship and 20 races over a total career of 203 races decided to take a modified lawn mower tractor for a race. Check out the video on Car & Driver’s blog here. It looks pretty fun, hey? Anyways, since I like learning new things about cars I wanted to make some comparisons of the fastest lawn mowers (obviously modified ones) and the fastest cars. I’m mostly going to look at top speed. First I’ll look at regular riding lawn mowers and regular cars… And then I’ll take a look at F1 style cars and racing mowers.

Regular Riding Mower: 5.2 MPH

The best riding mower for most people is probably the Husqvarna that has a top speed while mowing of 5.2 MPH and can mow 2 acres in 75 minutes. This mower has 20 HP and costs about $2000. So compare that with a normal car that has usually 150 HP and cost about $20k. But then again a lawn mower is designed to cut grass and not to take you from the mall to your son’s soccer game.

Regular Commuter Car: 122 MPH

The regular commuter car I’ve chosen to use is the 2015 Toyota Camry with a top speed of 122 MPH. It costs $23k USD and looks sleek and classy. I wouldn’t buy one but I’m sure someone with a family would. Toyota is known to be very reliable and a very good deal.

Fastest Mower: 116 MPH

Honda, this year, modified a Honda lawn tractor to go fast. And they achieved a Guinness World Record of 116 MPH. The mower was fully modified from the ground up. The steel was replaced with carbon fiber and the engine re-designed to go much faster. However, since it was a fastest lawn mower record the mower still had to cut grass. And could it ever. It could cut grass at a speed of 15 MPH – much faster than any of the top range zero turn commercial mowers that max out at 12 MPH.

Formula One Racecar: 200 – 240 MPH

A Formula One car is meant to go around a track as fast as possible. Going around a track includes slowing down for turns and speeding up again for straights. For these reasons a Formula One car never really reaches its full speed potential. So for comparisons sake we’ll estimate the top speed to be 240 MPH since the top speed they reach in the Championship is usually around 200 MPH.

Comparison

What’s quite surprising to me is that the world’s fastest lawn mower is still slow than a regular run of the mill commuter car like the Toyota Camry. You would think that a heavily modified lawn mower should be able to go faster than a Toyota Camry. But I guess when you incorporate the need to mow grass you have to engineer it to do more than just go fast.

Not surprising to me is just how much faster an F1 car is to a regular car. Easily 2x. But again, even when saying that, it is surprising that a Camry for $23k is only that slower than an F1 which costs 5 to 10 million dollars.

How to Better Manage an Auto Parts Collection

As someone who is firmly into cars, I end up gathering a ton of car parts. I don’t know how but they just keep piling up and piling up. I usually have to clean up my collection on a yearly basis so that I can open up some space for newer items coming in. I lived my life like this for years and it had gotten so bad that at times some of the parts actually end up spilling into my home, where I often have to walk around them to get places.

When I had my personal injury a couple of years back, I actually finally decided (much to the relief of my family) that I would go ahead and clean up my stock–it had truly spiraled out into a mess and I needed to get it all organised or risk being invited to show up on that TV show about hoarders.

As I was organising everything I realised a few things that could really help you too when it comes to organising your stash. Have a look at my tips below, maybe it will help you to fix up your storage shed (or garage, or warehouse) so that you won’t have to scratch your head as you try to find those parts anymore!

Heaviest at the bottom, lightest at the top
When I was organising everything I couldn’t really lift much because of my bad back. So I decided that I would put everything heavy down at the bottom instead of heaving it up and putting it on shelves. It’s a good idea to do it this way so that your shelves will also be more stable. To bring those heavier parts out, I just use a dolly with wheels–not a lot of lifting to do. Saves my back injury, does it not?

Bigger items at the bottom
The bigger items should be at the bottom, as with the rule above. It makes it easier to keep everything balanced and stable, so your shelves won’t sway or topple over at the slightest bump. I personally also like to put the bigger items at the bottom so I could just roll them onto my dolly if I need to bring them out of storage. Why make things any harder for me when I could do just that? Of course it’s a good idea to label the bigger items too.

Have bins for the smaller items and label them properly
To make sure that you do not lose smaller parts, you should have bins to put them in. Personally I bought bins for cheap at thrift shops. They had some on clearance and I was able to snag a bunch that were all the same so my shelves look nice and uniform. I put them all there with the smaller items within. I make sure that my bins are all labeled so that I don’t have to dig through everything just to find that one little part that I need for a repair or restoration.

Have a Filing System
Now that I had everything organised and inventoried, the next thing that I actually did was to go ahead and get all my items filed into a system. It doesn’t have to be anything special. For me I just encoded everything into an Excel document so that I could actually keep track of where things are and how many of an item I have left. I have it all in my system, down to the very last screw. Someday when I have the spare time I think I actually might create a program for my file system!

Think You Could Drive A Formula One Car? Think Again…

Many people seem to think that driving a racing car can be done by anyone, all you need is skill right?… Wrong! To be the best you also need to be extremely fit. Formula One is at the very pinnacle of racing tech, with cars reaching speeds of up to 225 mph and exerting huge forces onto their drivers. Some of the tighter, faster turns in the racing calendar can generate up to 3.5 g of force onto the driver, which over time takes its toll on the body and for the average driver could even be enough to make them lose consciousness. This is why all drivers in Formula One need to be physically fit, in both cardio vascular performance and strength.

Exercise

In terms of exercise most F1 drivers do running or swimming, with a few choosing to cycle and even one who prefers to roller blade to keep fit. This is normally combined with a weight lifting program that targets the main muscles used when driving. The problem for F1 drivers is that it’s difficult to prepare their muscles for the stresses that occur when driving just by doing weight lifting. All teams will have a special ‘rig’ that their drivers can use to replicate driving conditions by applying ‘loading forces’ onto them, particularly the neck, shoulders and arms. Not only are these muscles important when driving the vehicle, they can greatly reduce the risk of injury in the event of a crash, which depending on the nature of the accident can normally cause huge pressure on the neck from the sudden movement of the head during an impact.

Nutrition

Formula One drivers are no different to any other professional athlete and need to have strict diets that regulate their intake of carbs and protein to help keep them in great shape. Their diet can also change for race days, where they will need to eat extra carbohydrates to keep them alert and will give them enough energy throughout the race, with pasta being a popular choice. Dehydration is also a factor that is very important, and drivers will need to drink a lot of water before they start a race because they will sweat as much as someone who has ran a marathon.

Amateurs

Like all sports there are many amateur racing championships all over the world, but even these leagues are fiercely competitive and only the drivers who keep fit and eat healthily will be able to consistently perform well.

I regularly race in a local stock car championship that is great fun but still requires a professional approach if I wanted to stand a chance of winning. The previous seasons I reached the top 10 drivers in the championship but this off-season I decided to improve my fitness to try and win. I ended up reading lots of treadmill reviews and got the best I could find then completely changed my diet to mimic the pros and it has really paid off, I’m currently in 3rd position in the drivers’ championship and only 2 points behind the leader. So if you are looking for ways to improve your racing skills then just hit the gym and start eating right, it really works!

Quality Service Will Become More and More Crucial

How do car dealers differentiate themselves with others? How do they compete with those who sell their cars or auto parts for less than the price you bought them for? It has become more and more difficult to compete in this highly competitive industry but in this article you’ll find out how you can compete within this chaos of pricing wars. A great, and funny, example video to begin with…

Have you ever driven a Mercedes, BMW or an Audi? I did and it’s an amazing ride. Furthermore, I probably won’t have to tell you that every single one of those cars has something unique. And we know that a true BMW fan won’t buy a Mercedes and a true Mercedes fan won’t buy a BMW. But is their product the only thing what differentiates them with other car manufactures? The answer is no. Now a days, businesses don’t differentiate themselves on products only any more. It’s more. It’s much more than that. It’s all about a customer service oriented approach. For more information about customer service strategies please visit: ThinkCustomerService.com.

In the year of 2020 it is not just new items and vehicle sections that will guarantee further development, but also their value proposition to changing client wishes. At the Mercedes-Benz Brand Laboratory in Neuhausen auf sanctum Fildern near Stuttgart, Dr. Joachim Schmidt, Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing Mercedes-Benz Cars, exhibited the key parts of their development strategy entitled “Mercedes-Benz 2020 – Best Customer Experience”. This solidifies various new methodologies in marketing, sales and after-sales under a focal saying: offering clients a steady premium-brand experience at whatever point they come into contact with the brand.

(If you need a solid customer service plan, please see this list of customer service skills for your business for more information.)

“Within our growth strategy Mercedes-Benz 2020 we are also systematically developing our marketing and sales activities further. The paths to Mercedes-Benz are as varied as the personal preferences of customers. Among other aspects we are therefore making contact with the brand even more attractive, especially for new, modern target groups. This also includes addressing these directly in their personal environment with innovative, differentiated sales formats. At the same time we systematically employ digital elements during all customer contacts. To this end we offer our dealer network solutions that can be rapidly implemented,” Schmidt said during the presentation of “Mercedes-Benz 2020 – Best Customer Experience”.

As you can see the world is changing in more service oriented instead of only product oriented. If one wants to differentiate themselves from others now a days one needs to change their approach as stated above. If you know you haven’t yet tweaked your strategy you should do so right away. I hope this article has convinced you to take a serious look at your level of service given to your customers. Remember that there’s always more to give and your customers will appreciate you for that – wouldn’t you?

Building a Radio Controlled Car with my Son

I have always had an interest in cars since I was young, and I was lucky to be able to spend time at my uncle’s auto repair shop when I was a kid. This was the time when I learnt the basics of how cars worked and I had a lot of fun too. My son is almost 9 years old and is interested in cars too, even though I never forced him to come help me when I have been working on my car he has the same excitement I did when I was young seeing a fancy car in the street.

Our RC Car Project

My son’s birthday is in a few months and this year I thought we’d do something different. He has wanted an RC car for a while so I thought it would be a great idea for us to build one together so that he can have it ready in time for his birthday. When I suggested the idea to him I was worried that he might not want to build it but just want to buy one. Thankfully he wanted to build it, and was so excited he has already cleared a space in the garage for our project to begin.

The Engine

Most RC cars come with electric motors that vary greatly in size, cost and speed. While there are many advantages to having an electric motor for this RC car I thought it would be best for my son to learn how a basic combustion engine works, so we opted for that instead.

When I started looking for a cheap RC car gas powered engine I found nothing under $300, which was about double the budget I had set out for the engine. I eventually stumbled across a blog post of someone who had used a weed wacker engine in his RC car build and had some great results. So I started searching online for the best weed wacker for the money and settled on a cheap 2 stroke one for around 130 bucks.

Chassis and Wheels

After choosing the engine I started looking online for some RC car kits that would have enough space to accommodate my weed wacker engine. I initially considered building the chassis from some lightweight steel I had left over from another project but quickly realised that it would take far too long to weld together so the self-build kit was the best choice.

As for the wheels I purchased a set that included the suspension which was compatible with the chassis kit so the only parts left to buy were for the servos and remote controller. I’ll be the first to admit that I know nothing about the ‘radio controlled’ parts of an RC car, but thankfully I have a good buddy of mine who is really into RC airplanes so I will send our weed wacker car over to him once we finish building it so he can set it up.

An ugly briefcase in the Formula 1 paddock

Well it has been a couple of weeks since the Formula 1 test in Jerez (Spain) finished. But now the Formula 1 circus is ready for another race this weekend.

This weekend the race at Monza is on the program. It’s a circuit with a lot of historic baggage in Formula 1. A lot of world champions have won this prestigious car race. The location is close to Ferrari’s Maranello base. So you can sure that the Ferrari Formula 1 car drivers want to show something to the local Italian fans.

So what will happen this weekend? Since the beginning of this silly formula 1 season we’ve seen Mercedes dominate. Both Mercedes drivers have scored almost the same amount of points. But currently old Formula 1 Champion Lewis Hamilton is on top of the charts. So he’s the man to beat upcoming weekend.

The question remains if the competition will only come from his teammate at Mercedes, Nico Rosberg, or if other teams have found some way close the gap with Mercedes.

When we were at the testing days we saw Lewis Hamilton in the paddock who looked very relaxed. He was giving interviews and next to him was this guy holding an ugly blue briefcase that probably costs him loads of money. That guy should have better bought one of these briefcases as they are much cheaper and way better looking.

A little later we spoke to some drivers of Ferrari and Renault Formula 1 teams. They all thought that they did good work back at factory. They were convinced that those 2 weeks would not yet close that gap but would bring them a step further. If not it would be very hard to still be competitive for the rest of the season.

As we walked off the circuit me and my friend went for a coffee. He grabbed his wallet. It was a nice looking wallet. He bought it at this website about wallets one night when he lost his wallet. He told me it had RFID blocking which helps him to prevent thieves stealing his identity. I still stick with my old wallet.
Anyway he paid and we drank our coffees. While sitting there on a corner close by the circuit we talked about the new Formula 1 engines. We agree with the fans that the new turbo engine makes an awful sound. So we really think that they should get the old engines back. We want to hear the cars drive. It’s just all part of the big show that the Formula 1 circus is.

So we had a good visit at the Formula 1 testing days. And we are curious to see what will happen next weekend when the lights turn green at the Monza Grandprix. One thing is for sure: The other teams haven’t been asleep and they will try everything in their power to stop the domination of Mercedes. Will they close the gap this Sunday? I don’t know, but we’ll see if they did. Otherwise the season might get boring!

How A Van Owner Converted His Van To Be A Fully Functioning Recreational Vehicle

Straight off the bat I’ll tell you the difference between a van and a fully functioning recreational vehicle. A van is an automobile that has a large amount of volume for people or cargo. They’re marketed for families because they have easy access to the back seats with their sliding doors. Specialty vans might be fitted out with shelves for electricians… Or fitted out for police to transport criminals… Or fitted out with refrigerators to transport food. A recreational vehicle, on the other hand, is a home on wheels. It is fitted out with home amenities like a sink, fridge, toilet, TV and maybe an oven and stovetop. Here I’ll tell you about a friend of mine that made his common everyday van into a fully functional home on wheels.

First off I’ll give some background about my friend. He has been converting cars for over 10 years. He’s made campers from scratch over a summer. He’s made Toyota Corolla’s into race cars. He’s basically a one man team that does things like Pimp My Ride the TV show on MTV. This time round he wanted to make an affordable RV to drive around North and South America in for the next 9 months. He plans to drive from Vancouver, Canada over to the Dakotas then down the East Coast of US then across and down Mexico. After reaching the Panama Canal he’ll turn back and up the West Coast back to where he lives – Northern California.

His goals with converting his van to an RV are: comfortable and affordable housing. He wanted at least some access to electricity without having to steal it or pull into and RV park each night. So his in his planning stage he decided to get a between 2 kiloWatt and 4 kiloWatt propane powered portable generator that could be fitted into the van under a bench and have vents to ensure no emissions enter the van. He decided on propane because it was safer to store, easy and affordable to come by and released much less emissions. There were many different generator option to choose from but he had his buying criteria and stuck with it. With this amount of power he could power a reading light, a laptop, a heater or fan or if it was the daytime an electric cooker, toaster and even a fridge. Although his plan was to have a DC battery powered fridge that would need to be charged with the generator only every 4 or 5 days.

Okay, so he had his trip plan, his electricity sorted… His next step was decided if he wanted a sink. He decided against it, and instead, he would ensure he always had 2x 16 gallon jugs of water fitted into the back for easy consumption or use.

His bed was on top of where the generator would be fitted and in the day it would act as his seat and table. The back door of the van opened up revealing a fold out bench top with electric and propane cooker, cutting board area and a sink that could be plumbed in to the 16 gallon jug of water for washing dishes.

If you’re thinking of doing something similar to your van – that’s great – but just remember this guy has 10 years of experience doing this and spent about $15k to remodel his van.

Note: The van pictured is not his – it is there to give you an idea what I mean by turning a van into and RV.

The benefits of an environmentally friendly car

Everywhere you turn these days, someone is talking about the environment and the damage that driving our cars does to penguins and humans alike. Sometimes it can take a small change to help the environment, such as sharing cars or taking public transport. How about making your journeys totally guilt free all the time? Is that even possible? A new breed of car has emerged making it possible to drive without harming the environment.

What is renewable energy?

Renewable energy is from a source that is what is considered a “natural” source. This is defined as a source that is replenished on a human timescale, for example, sunlight, wind, rain etc. It replaces the conventional sources of energy such as motor fuels and the generation of electricity.

Examples of non-renewable energy fuel: coal, oil, natural gas, biomass, nuclear, wood.
Examples of renewable energy: solar, wind, tidal, geomass, geothermal, hydrological.

Where do cars come into all this?

An alternative fuel vehicle is a car that runs on fuel instead of traditional petrol and diesel. It also means technology of any kind that powers an engine without the sole use of petroleum, so electric and solar powered cars.

These type of cars are beneficial for both the environment and the car owner for several reasons:
1. They are good for the environment as they do not use up non-renewable energy such as oil.
2. They cost less. The cost of fuel and oil is ever-rising
3. It is possible to get a car that is not all electric; so the advance technologies of the car just make the fuel that is being used go further.

These cars seem to be catching on and could become a trend in the coming years; overtaking the WAG Range Rover as the most popular car for anybody who is anybody.

By the end of December 2013 over one million plug-in electric vehicles were sold around the world. The most sales were made in the United States followed by Japan and China.

So many companies and people are now completely aware of how important it is that to ensure that the environment is taken care of, to benefit future generations to come and there are more and more ways to be kind to the planet. Fridge Hub are an example of a company who provide a list of people from all over the country that offer energy and environment advice on their database.

So, 2014 is the year of saving the environment and buying an eco-friendly car! Here are some of my personal favourite models (and remember, you will often pay less road tax in many countries if you have an environmentally car).

1. Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

This has been dubbed to be the greenest, most energy efficient car of 2014 by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

2. Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

This baby gets 95 miles per gallon and has a high green score of 55.

3. Toyota i-Road

These are yet to be released but are coming soon. The design is like nothing I have ever seen before, the downside is that it can only do 30 miles at a time.