car hacks

Brake Light Replacement Essentials

It is easy to fall in to the trap of thinking that replacing a faulty brake light is simply a minor detail and that it doesn’t warrant immediate attention and priority, but this just isn’t the case! Remember that it’s incredibly important to your safety that you replace your burnt-out brake lights as soon as you know it is an issue. Not only is it a safety hazard, it’s also illegal to drive without properly functioning brake lights. With that being said, here are some easy steps to replace your brake light on your own.

First, you will want to be sure that you have a replacement bulb as well as a proper screwdriver. The next step is determining the access point to the lens cover. You are looking for a set of screws that hold the lens cover in place. Most newer cars have the access point on the inside of the car which means you will likely need to open the trunk of the car and access the screws from inside the trunk. One pro tip is that some cars will have the access point hidden beneath the carpet that lines the trunk. Simply peel this back to gain access to the lens cover. Many older cars have the screws on the outside of the car, meaning it can be accessed from the exterior.

Next, you will want to remove the screws from the lens cover. From personal experience, we can tell you that it is very easy to lose these screws—and a pain to replace—so take precaution when fully removing them from the lens cover. Once the screws are out, the lens assembly is ready to be removed. We recommend using the tip of the screwdriver to pop the lens cover out. Once the cover is off, it is time to identify the brake light. In some cars, it can be very confusing to determine which is the brake light and which is the tail light. Simply hold the lens assembly up and see which bulb lines up with the bottom socket where your brake light goes. Twist and pull to remove the brake light socket. This will expose the bulb that is ready to be replaced. When removing the bulb, be sure to grip it lightly to ensure that it doesn’t shatter in your hands. Most bulbs can be pulled straight out, while some rare cases require twisting the bulb as your remove it.

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Once the bulb is removed, check the socket to be sure that there are no visible burn marks. If there are burn marks in place, it may mean that there is a more serious problem than simply a burnt-out bulb. If there are no burn marks in place, insert the new bulb until it fits snugly in place. You will then twist the socket back in place and place the lens assembly back where it originally rested. At this point you will want to test the bulb before fastening the cover back. Have a friend help you monitor whether or not it’s working. If no one else is available, one life hack is to set your phone to record for a few seconds while focused on the brake light. Play the recording back to see if your applic ation of the brake yielded any results. Once the bulb is working, use your screwdriver to reinstall those pesky screws.

Congratulations on changing your own brake light!

5 Ways to Be Prepared in a Car Emergency

A good rule in life is to expect the unexpected. This is especially true when operating a motor vehicle. Auto emergencies can happen to anyone. A common misconception is that you only need to be prepared for these types of emergencies when taking long trips away from home. Emergencies can happen anywhere to anyone, and it’s important to be prepared should they come your way. Whether it’s due to an accident, inclement weather, or mechanical failure, we’ve listed 5 tips below to help you be prepared before auto emergencies come your way.

1. Have an action plan in place

This means that you, as the driver, know in advance what to do if an emergency should occur. Often times, this means having a roadside assistance service in place. If you do not have this service available to you, it’s important to know what to do in case of common auto emergencies such as a flat tire, a car breakdown, or running out of gas. For some that opt out of a roadside assistance service, this may mean knowing how to change a tire or add coolant to an overheated transmission. Another tip is to have an ICE (in case of emergency) number saved in your phone in case of an unthinkable incident with severe injuries involved.

2. Stock your vehicle

Keep useful items useful in case of unexpected occurrences. Plan for the worst! Imagine being stranded on a desolate road in the cold of winter. Useful items could include a flashlight, a blanket, towels, some water and even a spare phone battery or charger. Having these items stocked in your car can provide peace of mind before an emergency occurs and can provide invaluable comfort during an emergency.

3. Know proper roadside safety during an auto emergency

When you're able, pull far off on to the shoulder of the road with your hazard lights on. It’s vital to be pulled as far off the road as possible especially if on the highway. Immediately call a friend or family member to let them know your location as it’s always possible that other motorists will be stopping, and you as the driver will never know their intentions.

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4. Know what to do in inclement weather

Sometimes auto emergencies present themselves because of inclement weather. Whether it’s heavy rain, ice, snow, fog or thunderstorms, the weather can prove menacing to drivers. One of the best tips that can be offered for inclement weather is to educate yourself on how to navigate these conditions. There are many helpful videos and reputable articles that teach how to best drive in a specific type of weather.

 

5. Familiarize yourself with what to do in case of an accident or a police stop

It’s always a good tip to routinely confirm that your license and registration are with you. Remember that if you are being pulled by an officer, you have the right to put your hazard lights on and cruise into the nearest business with lights on; this is for YOUR safety. Also remember to document any accidents with pictures and a police report before moving your vehicle.

Ways to Break in a New Car

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So you finally decided to buy that brand new, shiny car but have big concerns about
how to properly break it in? There are certain tips and tricks that are easy to follow
and will go a long way to properly braking in your new car.
Breaking a new car in is a long standing practice, recommended by all auto
manufacturers. It involves different processes such as: correct driving techniques,
precautionary measures, maintenance tasks and general care. What this will do is
prolong the life of your new car. It sets the foundation for how the car will perform for the
rest of its useful, working life. The basic idea behind the new car break in period is to
allow all moving parts to settle in properly and begin to work together as a team in the
right way.


1. Low Revolutions
Initial driving style should be gentle, avoiding extremely high engine revs (the so
called red lining). This will prevent your car’s moving parts from overstressing
during this initial, crucial period. The revolutions of the engine should be kept
below 3000 revolutions per minute (RPM). This can be monitored via the
dashboard tachometer.


2. Low Speeds
On a related topic, car’s speed should initially be kept reasonably low. There
should be no harsh accelerations, racing from the red lights (should never be
done!) or any other activity involving extreme speeds. Recommended speeds
during the break in period are between 30 and 50 miles per hour.


3. Proper and Regular Oil Changes
First oil change should take place very early in the car’s break in period, much
sooner than even the manufacturer’s manual instructs you to do. To be extra
cautious, the first oil change should happen somewhere between 50 and 100
miles, but somewhere within the first 500 miles should be very acceptable. The
reason behind such a quick first oil change is that there is a strong possibility of
excess particles and wear on the engine’s moving parts. These potentially loose
debris could pose danger to the engine, causing irreparable damage.

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4. Regular and Correct Maintenance
To further extend the life of the car, proper and early maintenance is
recommended. This includes regular inspections and simply tasks. Examples
include: changing the air filter, oil filter, checking of all fluids (level of transmission
fluid, antifreeze, oil, brake fluid, and power steering fluid). Fluids should be
topped up as needed.

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Top 8 things to check when getting a used car

Many people consider buying a used car as a way to save some money. Used cars are usually much cheaper than a brand new car. Buying a used car is also more economically conscious because over time, the car will lose less of it’s value. However, buying a new car is not always easy. There are numerous things that you have to look out for. Here are a list of the top 8 things to check when getting a used car.

 

1. Take a test drive

Test driving a car is important regardless of whether you are buying a new or a used car. A test drive allows you to get a feel for the car and see how it handles in the real world. With a used car, a test drive allows you to quickly spot any main issues with the car. These could be things like problems with the brakes or problems with the engine.

2. Look at the exterior and interior

Take a walk around the car and look for any noticeable dents or scratches. If there are any then they could significantly reduce the cost of the car. Dents and scratches are also an indicator that the previous owner didn’t take good care of the car. Take a look at the interior of the car as well. A dirty or messy interior is another place where you could get the owner to reduce the price of the car.

3. Check for a recall

Go online and check the make and model of the car you are considering buying and make sure that it hasn’t been recalled. Some owners may try to sell a car that has been recalled which is a safety issue and is very dangerous. If the make and model has been recalled, get proof from the owner that the car as been repaired and that the issue has been fixed. If the owner cannot provide proof, do not purchase the car.

4. Ask for service records

Service records are important because they tell you how the previous owner has taken care of the car. If the service records show regular maintenance then it is a good sign that the car has been well taken care of. If the records show no or very little maintenance then it is likely that you will have issues with the car in the future.

5. Have a mechanic perform an inspection

Take the car to a mechanic for an inspection. The mechanic will be able to find any issues with the car that are not obvious from the outside. If there are issues try to get the owner to cover the repair costs. If the owner is not willing to pay for the entire repair costs see if they will split the costs with you or of they will consider lowering the price of the car.

6. Check for a warranty

Check if the car has any warranty on it that could be transferred over to you. The warranty could come in handy if there are issues with the car in the future. If the owner bought the car when it was new then it is likely that there is some warranty on the car. As the owner if it is possible for them to transfer it over to you.

7. Check for any leaks

Park the car in a dry place and let it sit there for around 30 minutes. After that time move the car and check if there were any fluid leaks in the spot where it was parked. Leaks indicate that there is something wrong with the car and that it needs maintenance. If a leak is found, ask the owner if they are aware of it and if they know what is causing it.

8. Read reviews online

Buying a car is no different than buying any other item. Do your research online and read reviews about the car. See what other owners of the car have to say about it. If they think it’s a good car or if they regret purchasing it. Reviews can also tell you about possible issues with the car that you may face in the future.

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Top Reasons for Squeaky Brakes

Brakes are such a crucial part of the car, having them squeak can be both annoying and worrying. This is especially true if the squeaking continues for a long time or gets worse and worse. With that being said, noisy brakes are common and can often easily be dealt with by any auto mechanics shop.

 

Most automobile brakes today are disc brakes. This is where a pad presses against a disc (also known as the rotor) in order to stop the car. Some cars utilize an older type of brakes known as drum brakes. Sometimes, even on modern cars, the rear wheels will use drum brakes due to cost consideration. This type of brake uses a curved part called a “shoe” to press against a hollow drum, which then stops the car.

Morning squeaks

Often brakes will squeak after sitting all night. This is typically because of moisture from rain, dew or condensation that accumulated on the surface of the rotors. A thin layer of rust builds up on the surface of rotors. As the rotors turn the pads scrape off this rust. These fine particles can get trapped in the leading edge of the pad and can cause a squeaks.

Thinning Brake Pads

All pads have a built in wear indication. As the pads are used, they become worn, eventually thinning to the point of where the wear indicator becomes audible. This is a very common source of squeaks but it is not a failure, it is simply an indication that it is time to have the brakes serviced and pads replaced. These wear indicators are just small metal tabs made of steel which hit the rotor when pads are too thin, generating the noise.

 

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High Metal Content

Certain low end pads can be manufactured with a high metal content. There may be large chunks of metal embedded into the pads. These pieces will drag on the rotor and cause a high pitched brake squeak. Ideally brake pads with a higher content of non metal materials should be used. This will minimize the squeaks.

Drum Brakes Need Lubrication

If squeaking is heard from the drum brakes, it is an indication that they need to be lubricated. Shoe to backing plate contact points have lost most of their lubrication and thus need to be serviced.

Scraping From Plate

If squeaking is heard during regular driving, it may be an indication of scrapping from a plate due to damage. The typical cause of this is due to a rock hitting the underside of the car.

Brakes are one of the most important functionality of a car. It's important to know when they need to be serviced, replaced, or repaired. Have your trusted car care professional check them out if you ever have any doubt.

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