Sunday, July 8, 2012

Synthetic Oil or Not

Synthetics are really just natural oil refined to a much higher degree, with more complex additive packages for improving performance in both everyday and extreme conditions.

Many sports cars come filled with synthetic to offer the best possible protection. Ron Sullivan, Pennzoil's technology manager, broke things down for us. "For most applications, stick with the manufacturer's recommended oil. But if you want to better protect your engine over the long term, especially against extreme abuse like towing or constant stop-and-go traffic, synthetic might be for you." According to Sullivan, a high-quality synthetic flows better at all temperatures, which makes cranking easier in the cold and gets lubrication to critical components faster. It also resists high heat much better, something very critical in the latest turbocharged engines. "When you stop these engines, the oil has to resist being baked by the heat in the turbo's oil bearing," Sullivan says, "And synthetics are better at that." These are bold claims and may be worth considering when choosing oil, but we can't remember the last time an engine failed on conventional oil, so going synthetic when you don't have to may be a waste of money. If you abuse your engine, consider synthetics; otherwise follow the manufacturer's suggestion and use what the manufacture recommends.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Test of Xtreme Fuel Treatment

TEST OF Xtreme Fuel Treatment 2011

I received a free sample of Xtreme Fuel Treatment for testing purposes from a distributor wanting me to test it fairly. Here is the result of my test on a 1999 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner 2.7 Liter 4 cylinder with A/T and 124,000 miles on the odometer. Truck runs perfectly and was tuned up at 100,000 miles. Tires were at 32 psi and A/C was never run during this test.

Fuel Mileage 1999 Toyota

10 Tanks of Regular 87 octane Shell

Tank 1 without treatment = 19.5 mpg

Tank 2 without treatment = 20.3

Tank 3 without treatment = 20.8

Tank 4 with treatment 1/2 ounce = 16.9

Tank 5 with treatment 1/4 ounce = 17.4

Tank 6 with treatment 1/4 ounce = 19.4

Tank 7 with treatment 1/4 ounce = 20.0

Tank 8 with treatment 1/4 ounce = 19.0

Tank 9 with treatment 1/4 ounce = 20.1

Tank 10 with treatment 1/4 ounce = 19.8

As you can see in the beginning it actually hurt my mileage and then on the 3rd treatment I was getting basically what I was getting before I used this product. Notice the first treatment when my mileage dropped by almost 4 mpg over the previous test without the treatment. I tested this product honestly driving as I normally do about 75% city and 25% highway. I was not trying to get good mileage nor was I driving hard to hurt mileage. The bottom line is that the product does not work and in fact in the beginning it hurts your mileage. This product is a 100% total waste of money as I suspected but I was open minded and gave it a fair test. The results are here for all to see. No hype, no fake testimonials, and no bull. This is like all other products that make these claims. They simply do not work so save your money.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jumper Cable Safety

You have a dead battery and need a jump start. There is the right way and the wrong way to accomplish a jump start safely. 
Because of the potentially severe hazards due to improper use of jumper cables it must be done correctly. Auto batteries contain Sulphuric Acid which can blind you, or at the very least burn your skin. Also auto batteries vent off Hydrogen Gas which is highly explosive even from the slightest spark. Because of this danger it is critical to attach the jumper cables in a precise sequence. 
1. Park the vehicle with the GOOD battery close to the vehicle with the BAD battery but do not let the vehicle touch each other. Make sure the cables are not routed so as to touch any moving parts, such as a fan blade.
2. Attach the jumper cable Positive + terminal to the GOOD battery Positive + terminal.
3. Attach the other end of the jumper cable Positive + terminal to the BAD battery Positive + terminal.
4. Attach the Negative - jumper cable terminal to the GOOD battery Negative - terminal.
5. Attach the last jumper cable Negative - terminal to a heavy metal ground part of the engine and NOT to the dead battery Negative - terminal. Reason being this last connection will cause a spark, and you do not want a spark next to the battery where it could ignite the Hydrogen. 
6. If the engine of the donor vehicle with the good battery was not left running, start the engine and let it run for 2-3 minutes to put a charge in the bad battery.
7. Start the vehicle with the BAD battery and then remove the jumper cables from the batteries in the exact opposite order you installed them. 

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Tire Old Tire

So you are going to purchase a new set of tires for that car you love. Have you gotten a great price on a new set of tires and wondered, how can this tire be so cheap when it is new? Well the answer might be that you just purchased old but UNUSED tires. You might be surprised to know that that set of tires you purchase may very well be 1, 2, 3, or even 4 years old the day you buy them. There is a term used on many auction sites called NOS. Translated it means New Old Stock. This is a part that has never been sold, and is still in it's original wrapping or box. The item is new but it is old stock. Some parts may be over 50 years old and still be considered new, or NOS. The same goes for tires although you will never see them that old. But you may very well see a so-called new tire that is 1, 2, or 3 years old. Here is how you tell the age of the tire you are buying. Look on the sidewall for the date code. In this example you see the date code. M606 This tire was manufactured the 6th week of 2006.

You may also see this type code.

In this example the tire was manufactured the 51st week of 2007. So ask to see the date code on the tires you are purchasing. the last thing you want to do is buy a set of tires that is already 1 or 2 years old. the problem is that tires, like any rubber product, degrade over time and could present significant yet hidden risks, regardless of tread depth and appearance. If the dealer is hesitant about showing you the date code, walk out. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Battery Basics

The battery on your can can leave you stranded and spending money on a jump start or tow, so buy a quality battery and do not go cheap. A quality battery will cost between $60-$100. When buying a new battery look at the date code and make sure you buy a new battery and not one that is 6 months old when you get it. If properly maintained a battery will last from 4-8 years. The battery not only starts the car but provides power for lighting, & accessories. For this reason, but a battery with sufficient reserve power and cold cranking amps for the location you live in. If you live up north, cold cranking amps is more critical than if you live in the south. One of the biggest killers of batteries is to run it dead. This is especially true of Maintenance Free batteries. Every time you run your battery down, you are talking life from the battery. A battery that has been completely discharged more than twice is probably on it's death bed. When you replace your battery remember that your radio code and presets will be lost. Make sure you have the code for your radio if it is a Anti-Theft radio. Without this code the radio will not function and in most cases you will need to remove the radio to access the serial # in order to get the code from your dealer. Remove the battery and clean the storage tray and cable connections. If you have to recharge a battery disconnect the positive cable, use a slow charge, and make sure you do not overcharge. I recommend an automatic charger to prevent over charging. Keep you battery clean and this will extend it's life. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Picking The Right Tires

Picking the right set of tires for you vehicle is more than just looking for a long lasting tire or a great handling tire. The tire you choose effects almost every aspect of how your car rides, handles, steers, mileage, and the balance of the car. Pick the wrong tire and you may upset one or more of these factors. The manufactures do not just put any tire on the car they produce. The tire is designed by the manufacture to enhance the cars abilities. The tire manufacture builds the tire to the auto manufactures specifications. Look on the sidewall of the OEM tire that came on you car. Look at not only the size but the speed rating. Is it an H rated tire or a S rated tire. You should replace your old worn out tires with ones with the exact same speed rating. This will insure the dynamics of the car are not altered. The manufacture of you car designs the suspension around the tire to give the best possible ride, handling, mileage, and braking. Change the tires and you may end up with a car that handles, or stops, poorly. Remember the tire itself is part of the suspension. The tire absorbs some of the bumps and potholes. I am not saying you have to buy the exact same brand tire that came on your car. What I am saying is stick with the OEM size, and especially speed rating. Have you ever read reviews of tires and noticed that the very same tire can be loved by one person and hated by another. Ever wonder why that is? It is very simple, one person bought a tire that was matched to their car and the other one didn't. So do your research and buy the right tire for your vehicle. You may be able to go up one size if you change the aspect ratio, but I recommend you stick with the OEM size. There are many great tires made by many tire manufactures, so choose wisely. Remember every tire is a compromise. It would be easy for a tire manufacture to build a tire that would last 100,000 miles, but that tire would ride and handle horribly, and basically be an unsafe tire. So they compromise. Do not compromise on the safety of your family. Do your research, talk to a tire expert you trust, and stick with what a tire your car was designed for. You cannot go wrong with OEM type tires. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

Checking Fluid Levels

A regular part of maintenance is to check all your fluid levels. To check your oil level park you vehicle on a level surface. An un-level surface will give you a false reading. Let the vehicle set for at least 30 minutes before checking the oil level. Remove the oil dipstick and wipe it clean. Fully insert it back into the engine and then remove it an look closely at the level of the oil. You will see Full & Add. If you are close to full do not add any oil. The amount between full & add is normally around 1 quart but may be 1/2 quart depending on your vehicle. When adding oil do not overfill. Add a slight amount wait a few minutes and check again. 

To check your brake fluid normally you can just look at the master cylinder located on the firewall driver's side. Normally they are clear and you can see the fluid. It is normal for the fluid level to go down as your brake pads wear. So if you see that the level has dropped significantly and you have over 35,000 miles since last replacing the brake pads, you need to take a look and see if they need replacing. Of course if you hear a squeal or grinding noise during braking, you pads are worn out. Only add fluid if the level is at the add mark. And then add DOT3 brake fluid or whatever is listed on the master cylinder cap.  Only add fluid from an unopened container. Brake fluid absorbs moisture so discard that unused fluid. I know this sounds wasteful, but old fluid stored in a can that has been opened, is not what you want to add to your master cylinder. 

To check the Power Steering fluid you have 2 choices. You can check it cold or hot. Pull the P/S dipstick out and look for the 
marks. One should say cold and one hot. Add only the correct P/S
 fluid as listed in your owner's manual. It takes very little to bring it to full. Do not overfill.

To check the Automatic Transmission fluid look in your owner's manual or on the dipstick itself for the correct procedure. They are normally located at the rear of the engine near the transmission. Do not mix the A/T dipstick up with the Oil dipstick. Some A/T you check hot, engine running, in park or neutral, others cold, engine off, some you can check both cold or hot, others you simply cannot check at all, as they are sealed units. Whatever way you check it, make sure you follow your owner's manual directions to the letter. Normally to go from low to full only requires you add 1 pint of fluid or less. Use the exact transmission fluid listed in your owner's manual. DO NOT SUBSTITUTE or OVERFILL! It is critical you use the correct fluid or you may damage the transmission. For instance if you own a Honda, you must use Honda ATF and no other. Most GM vehicles require Dexron 1, 2, or 3. On some vehicles you have no way of checking the fluid level as the A/T is sealed. When you check the fluid level look closely at the fluid an smell it. If it looks and smells burnt with a very foul odor, you need to have the fluid changed by a professional. You will need a long neck filter in order to add
 fluid. If the fluid level is low, this indicates a leak as A/T fluid is not used up. You may want to consult a professional about the leak. I also recommend you have the A/T fluid changed every 50,000 miles or the interval listed in your owner's manual. 

To check the coolant level, look at the coolant recovery tank, engine off and cold. Add a 50/50 mix of Antifreeze & Distilled Water, if it is below the full mark cold. You can purchase this pre-mixed or mix it yourself. Add only the coolant listed in your owner's manual. If you notice you are regularly loosing coolant, look for a leak. If you see no apparent leak, be aware you may have an internal engine problem. If you see white smoke which smells sweet, or your oil level is over full, suspect you have a blown head gasket which is very serious and must be repaired ASAP. Stop driving the vehicle until this is repaired. 

To check the windshield washer fluid, locate the WW reservoir. Do not mix this up with the coolant recovery tank. Normally the WWR will have a blue cap. Add only commercially available WW fluid and do not add plain water. 

I suggest you have your manual transmission and differential checked by a professional. It requires special lubricants and tools to service these which you normally do not have on hand. 

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Mayfield, Ky, United States
Retired and have been working on automobiles for over 50 years. I have learned that the best way to care for your car is to DIY. I personally do not trust the kid working at Spiffy Lube to change my oil. If, I want it done right I do it myself. Automobiles today are very complex but some things you can still do yourself. I have years of experience working on all kinds of vehicles and want to pass along what I have learned to those wishing to DIY.