Category Archives: Car Services

Car Paint Restoration Tips and Techniques – Paint Stripping and Sandblasting

Auto body Repairs Using Sand Blasting Equipment:

A restoration requires you to make a choice as to which method you are going to use. In order to do this you really need to categorize the levels of restoration.

Category One – Light to Medium fix ups

Mechanical repairs and repainting

The basic mechanical work is done first to ensure safety of the vehicle components. This followed by minor body works and refinishing touch ups.

Mechanical repairs with replacements and refinishing

Some mechanical parts are replaced as needed. Little more detail is required in the bodywork.

Category Two – In Depth Restoration

Similar to the mechanical repairs with replacements with the refinishing more in depth. Some taking apart of the vehicle is required to attend to rust and corrosion of key parts. Items have to cleaned, refurbished or replaced such as drive train parts, suspension and underbody parts. Close color match of body is required and trim may need replacing. Cars restored under this category are often pampered and not used on a daily basis.

Category Three – Just off the Assembly Line

Restoration here entails making the car look like it’s just been manufactured. Showroom quality. No body fill can be used in these restorations as well as fiberglass body panels except for some Corvettes.

Category Four – Show Piece

This is the museum category and is really not applicable because they are those that are only found in the Museums.

Getting Down to Sandblasting

Sandblasters work off of compressed air and are either pressure feed or suction feed which are the cheaper of the two. The only drawback is that part of their energy goes into drawing up the material however; they don’t require an expensive pressure tank. Pressure feeds do require a pressurized tank, but they work extremely well.

Sandblasting is effective cost saving and messy. Should only be done outdoors. With the right grade of sand the results taking it right down to the metal and removing the rust pits. It works effectively on other parts as well. Make sure you apply a flash rust treatment to prevent rust till you get the primer on.

The one thing to remember about sandblasting is do not over do it. As soon as you hit the bare metal stop.

You can use silica sand for various other grades just be sure to be careful with what you use. For light touches, you can use the ground or English walnut shells.

The siphon blasters are a lot less expensive than the pressure blasters. Remember to remove the hardware and trim before blasting and make sure you wear the proper body protection as well ensuring you have a proper hood and gloves. Preferably, a supplied air hood would be ideal.

Sandblasting can be extremely effective provided the right techniques, tools and materials are used in a safe environment. Many individuals are against sand blasting because of the damage it can cause. They are right it can work against you but only if you go beyond what is required. The whole key to success is stopping when you hit the bare metal.

Tips For Buying Auto Parts Online

The Internet is a wonderful place for buying many things. You will often have access to options that you never knew existed. You will also have many more choices and can often find a better deal on items online than in a brick and mortar store. One area of items that are advantageous to buy online are auto parts. With the ability to search millions of websites and many different stores, you may be much more likely to find the right part for even the most obscure type of vehicle online than in the offline world. You may also find a better price at the same time.

Here are a few tips for buying auto parts online:

Major Stores

Pretty much every major auto parts store has an online version, where you can search their entire nationwide database for parts availability, order the part and have it sent to you wherever you are. It’s highly convenient and makes it easy to compare prices. Some major chains that have sites include, NAPA Online, Advance Auto Parts, Auto Parts Warehouse, AutoZone, CARQUEST, Pep Boys and many more. Nearly all of them offer online search and shopping options. Some of them even offer a low price guarantee on certain parts and provide you with news, information, rebate deals and special online only deals.

Manuals & Auto Repair Information

There are many resources online that may help you install your auto part. Check out 10w40 for manuals and information for many makes and models of vehicles.

Auto Forums

You can find information on your make or model of vehicle as well as ask questions and get answers about repairing and maintaining it. You will also be able to talk with other auto enthusiasts. Some popular auto forums are Automotive Forums, AutoForums, CarForums, Autoforum Universe and the forums at Automotive. You may be able to get advice on where the best place to get parts is for your specific make and model. There are also forums available for specific makers which should also have excellent information on where to get parts.

Books

You can easily order any of the auto repair manuals you need online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. This may be more convenient for people who don’t have a bookstore or auto parts store near them. The most popular and reliable publishers of auto manuals are Chilton’s and Hayne’s. Buying the manual online, you may be able to save money by comparing prices at numerous book sellers, you can use AddAll to do this.

Auctions

Auction are a great place to search for your auto parts and eBay Motors is where you will want to begin your auction search. Currently there are a staggering 546190 listings on eBay Motors under Car & Truck Parts alone. You will want to drill down to the specific category for your desired part, then try to narrow the search under that category.

More Tips

Make use of the many price comparison search engines, coupon code sites and be sure to watch out for shipping costs. Some sites, such as Autopartswarehouse offer free shipping, so be sure to take advantage of those offers.

In summary, buying auto parts online has many advantages, from better availability, to the ability to compare prices much more easily to the wealth of auto repair and maintenance information at your fingertips.

Tips For Choosing a Digital Storage Oscilloscope For the Automotive Technician

Next to a good scan tool, I think having a good scope is vital to diagnosing today’s cars. A scan tool will tell you what the control module is “seeing”, but a scope will tell you if the module is being told the truth by allowing you to see the actual input from the sensors.

The scope you choose should be in line with your needs and your budget. There are a variety to choose from, but they generally fall into 2 categories: handheld, or PC-based.

Let’s take a look at the two.

What Is A Scope?

When measuring voltage, there are three tools that immediately come to mind. The first is the Digital Volt-Ohm Meter, or DVOM. This tool simply measures voltage and displays it on the screen. Most have a variety of features that allow you to record minimum and maximum readings as well, and certainly they have their place in diagnosing electrical problems.

The next tool is a Graphing DVOM. This tool now allows the measurement to be plotted on a graph over time, allowing the user to see the variances in the signal as they occur.

Last is the DSO, or Digital Storage Oscilloscope. The DSO, too, graphs the voltage signal over time. The BIG difference between all three is the rate that each samples and records these signals. Let me back up a bit. Each tool “samples” the signal and then plots the average to the display screen…whether in a numerical value or as a graph. The accuracy of the reading is impacted, therefore, by how many samples per second the tool records and averages. The more samples taken, the more accurate the reading. Of course, there are variances inherent in each tool as well that need be taken into consideration. The typical DVOM may sample at the rate of 200-400 samples per second, as compared to a good DSO with a sample rate of 20 MILLION samples per second.

Now consider the speed at which some input signals occur. As a reference, the typical spark plug takes 1.5 milliseconds to “fire”, and we’ve all seen a spark jump it’s gap. The graphing meter or DVOM just can’t sample fast enough to catch imperfections in signals operating at this kind of speed. And that is just one area where a scope shines!

In addition to measuring voltage, a scope can be used to measure pressure, vacuum, and current with the right accessories. These abilities allow a good scope user to perform engine diagnostics faster and easier. Imagine, for example, testing the mechanical health of a modern transverse V6 in a matter of minutes, rather than hours!

HandHeld Scopes

Handheld scopes are more convenient than most PC-based scopes and often more user friendly, with built in databases and testing methods. The Vantage PRO, by Snap-On, is probably the most popular and most capable of the handheld offerings out there. Cost, however, may be a factor for most, with the PRO 2-channel costing more than many PC-based 4-channel units. The key is in how much help you really need…Do you want all the “bells and whistles”?

If cost is the primary factor, then the UEI scope/scan tool may be the choice for you. Having experience with the original UEI ADL7100 scope (I still have it!), I think most beginning scope users will find this scope more than sufficient for most testing needs.

If it’s real diagnostic power you want, though, then PC is the way to go

PC-based Scopes

There are PC and PDA scope options available today, and all offer more power for diagnostics than the conventional handhelds. The ability to utilize higher sample rates, view on a larger screen, and store/record more information allows the user to find those elusive “glitches” that a handheld may miss.

PICO scopes are at the forefront of automotive PC-based scopes, and are competitively priced to handhelds. Unlike the databases in most handhelds, updates for the PICO are free. Because of their early relationship with Tom Roberts, PICO has become the top choice of techs looking for PC scope applications.

There are also other choices in PC scope software/hardware, and I encourage you to do your homework when comparing. Remember, tools are an investment in your productivity and their cost should be compared versus their benefits. Keep in mind, too, that any scope is only as good as the user. Make sure the tool you choose…and the company you choose to purchase it from…will be there to help you learn how to get the most out of your new scope!

Tips and Tricks for Buying Your Next Car From a Car Dealer

Whether you are in the market for a brand new $120,000 sportscar or a new-to-you $2,500 commuter, all consumers want a “good deal”. Nearly every dealership will spend thousands of marketing dollars on stressing this fact to you, all before you ever step foot on the asphalt. It is up to you, the informed consumer, to utilize your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, and do the uncomfortable dance to get behind the wheel of your dream vehicle at the best possible price. Following some or all of these pieces of advice will give you the best chance to do just that.

1. There is always a “Big sale and promotion”, but the biggest are at the end of the month.

If you get nothing else out of this article, get this: Do NOT go car shopping outside of the last 5 days of the month. Manufacturers create monthly incentives to attract customers to the dealer’s lots. Normally, these incentives run through the end of the month. However, every dealer (from the dealer principle to the newest salesperson) is trying to sell the most cars possible. As a result, they will be a lot more flexible and eager to earn your business on the 27th, as opposed to the 7th.

2. There is a lot more markup on used cars than new cars.

Don’t expect for the dealer to come off the advertised price on a new vehicle by much at all! What would you guess is the average markup on a new vehicle? $3,000 or maybe ever $5,000? Let’s try negative $256.00. I’m not kidding. Out of a group of 80 franchised dealerships, they lose an average of $256.00 gross by selling this specific model. When looking at used cars, pay attention to any pricing trends. Do you see some common endings, such as $XX,995 or $XX,986? Ask the salesperson in very general terms how long some of these vehicles have been on the lot and you might be surprised what you can learn. Most dealerships shoot to “turn” or sell used vehicles within 45 or 60 days. If the vehicle is older than that, you have quite a bit more leverage.

3. Be polite, seriously!

Everyone has dealer horror stories that they love to tell when they hear that their neighbor or coworker is going to buy a new vehicle. Here is a great piece of advice: if you don’t like the way you are treated at a dealership, then get back in your car and leave! There are good dealerships in your area that have good salespeople. The best part about it: you can get the same price on a new vehicle, since there is so little markup. However, please be polite. Car salesmen are people too. They get their feelings hurt and are simply trying to make a living. If you treat them with the same amount of respect that you hope to receive, you will make the entire buying process better for everyone involved.

Buying a vehicle doesn’t have to be a scary experience. As you start this process next time, please keep in mind these key points. They are guaranteed to help you as you go through this process. Remember, an informed consumer is a powerful consumer. Use all of the tools at your disposal before going to the dealership and be polite once you are there. Most of all, enjoy the car buying process and congratulations on the purchase of your new vehicle!

5 Tips Help You Buy Car Sun Shades

1. Is there a standard size?

That’s a perfectly rational question, as windshields come in a variety of dimensions. A car sun shade won’t fit the windshield of an 18-wheeler. The dimensions for standard size are 24″ x 58″ and fits most compact to mid-size vehicles, while the dimensions for the large are 27″ x 67″ and are perfect for SUVs and RVs. Its best to start by measuring your car’s front windshield to determine the exact size you need.

2. Should I still buy them if I already have tinted windows?

Yes, yes and yes. Now we cannot stress this point enough. The fact is that even if your windows are tinted all the way around, if you tint your car’s entire front windshield you’re screwed – your car is pretty much useless. At best most front windshield tints only cover a tiny sliver at the top, leaving about 95% of your windshield and dashboard exposed to direct UV rays and merciless heat. Until manufacturers find a way to install transition lenses as front windshields, drivers will have to rely on the car sun shield is.

No matter how much your other car windows are tinted, the majority of heat and damage will come through at the front, while your backseat passengers get hit with a blast of heat the moment they open the car door. Eventually you will have to replace your car’s entire dashboard when it becomes cracked along with any electronics and gadgets in your vehicle that got fried. Online retailers make it affordable and easy to own car sun shields, so you can pay almost nothing for a car accessory that will protect your largest investment apart from your home.

3. Do they really work?

Yes, feel free to try them sometime.

4. I have a car sun shade with one side reflective and the other side matte white. Which side of my car sun shade is supposed to face out?

Most shiny surfaces reflect both light and heat, while matte surfaces absorb light and heat. Initially the answer might not seem so obvious but it’s the reflective or shiny side of your sun shield. Note to the rookie, please make a point of removing your sun shade before driving off into the sunset.

5. Which design is best?

Now this one is perhaps the easiest question of all. All of them, from charming Eyes Sun Shades that make your car come to life, to Zebra Stripes that bring out your wild side. With a cornucopia of innovative car sun shades out there you can’t go wrong.

4 Useful Car Detailing Tips

Car detailing is an essential process to clean and restore the interior and exterior of the car. This type of work is a deep, top-to-bottom clean that leaves the car looking like new. It can even include removing wheels or other parts to reach the otherwise unreachable parts like the brake components, arch liners, and suspension. Here are a few simple car detailing tips to leave the interior and exterior of the vehicle looking like new:

Leather upholstery

Cleaning the leather upholstery as soon as a spill or mark is left behind can significantly increase the likelihood of a complete cleanup. If any marks like dye transfers from clothing, ink, or lipstick are left for 24 hours or more, the stain can easily set in permanently. There are plenty of purpose-made leather-cleaning kits in the market that can be left in the car to help with the timely cleanup.

Air vents

Brush out the air vents at regular intervals. The vents are a great dust magnet and easy to clean using the brush attachment on a vacuum cleaner. But, if the brush attachment isn’t small enough to collect all the dust, a simple artist’s brush can be used to collect any dust that is left behind.

Deep-clean

Give the carpet and upholstery a deep-clean. A high-quality carpet cleaning machine can quickly lift the deep dirt that has been left to build up over time. Most of the cleaners will spray a cleaning solution to help leave the carpet looking like new while also sucking up the grime and dirt. The hardware to deep-clean the vehicle is widely available to rent for a day or two, or buy outright, which will likely be the most cost-effective option in the long-term.

However, for the carpet that is too ingrained with dirt, the best option is simply to have it replaced with new. It is relatively easy to buy the replacement carpet to match a specific make and model of car.

Squeaky doors

Car doors with an annoying squeak can quickly be rectified with a few squirts of WD-40 or a similar lubricant. Once the doors are moving freely, add a small amount of motor oil or lithium grease to keep away the squeaky noise and avoid issues with corrosion. Also, it is worth inspecting other parts of the vehicle, such as the door latches for the early signs of corrosion. A quick squirt of the silicone spray can help to maintain the condition of these parts.

Practical Tips for Choosing the Best Car Amplifier

You want to enjoy the best audio entertainment in your car. This is perfectly possible with the right car amplifier. There are numerous models to select from so you have to evaluate each model’s benefits and drawbacks. Here is some essential advice which you will need for making the right choice.

Determine the most suitable type of car amplifier for your sound system.

There are models which are designed to boost the signal sent to two, four, five or even six speakers. You should choose the number of channels based on your current system or on your plans for expanding this system. If you plan to upgrade, you should definitely go for a model with more channels.

You should know that there are two types of channels. The stereo ones deliver either a left or right-side signal while the mono ones provide both left and right audio. If you have a subwoofer, you should certainly consider a car amplifier with two or more stereo channels and one mono channel which will give you the super deep bass that you want to enjoy.

Evaluate the power of the device extremely carefully.

The technical capabilities of the device are among the most important factors which you should base your choice on. There are two types of power measures to watch out for. The root mean square power or RMS power measures the amount of continuous power which the device delivers to the speakers. The RMS power of the amplifier must match that of the speakers.

The other measure is the peak amplifier power. It indicates how much wattage the device is able to use for short and unexpected increases in sound. This number is always higher than the RMS power number. The higher it is the better the device will perform so that you can enjoy even better sound quality.

Look for capabilities and features, which match your needs precisely.

Since your stereo system has a built-in amplifier, you have to choose the additional one in line with the capabilities of the original unit. Take into account the amplifying power of the built-in unit and ensure that the additional one provides between 75% and 150% of the power limit of the speakers.

If you want to get super deep bass, you should go for a device with low-pass filter and built-in bass boost. That way, you will literally feel your heart pounding with the beat of the music. If you want trebles with amazing clarity coming out of your tweeter speakers, you should go for a device which features a high-pass filter. That way, you will protect the speakers and ensure that they will have a long useful life in addition to enjoying music even more.

Get all the accessories which you need for installing the device.

Most amplifiers designed to be used in cars do not come with all accessories which are necessary for their installation. That is why you should check what is included in the package and get the rest of the items separately. Alternatively, you can consider purchasing a complete car-wiring kit.

Finally, you should certainly consider buying a car amplifier from a brand, which has solid market performance and excellent reputation. That way, you will not have to worry about quality. Besides, you will get a warranty which is comprehensive and sufficiently long.

Car Buying Tips – Watch Out for the Curb Stoners

Chances are you have never heard the term curb stoner. However, you might have met one and not even known it. A curb stoner is a “professional” used car seller who poses as a private individual selling his or her own car. You can find curb stoner’s cars everywhere; parking lots, people’s front yard, parked in a parking lot with a for sale sign on it. These types are especially menacing to the average car buyer.

Not to say that buying a car from an individual is bad. However when you run into people who are posing to be something that they are not (telling you that they are selling their personal car when it is just a car that they bought at auction), that is when the problems begin.

There are two surefire ways to beat the curb stoners at their own game. First make sure that you get a CarFax report on the car before you even think about giving them your money. This is simple and costs about $30. It will be the best $30 that you will spend for this purchase. Simply go to the CarFax website and enter the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). You will receive a report that will tell about the odometer history, any wrecks or title abnormalities and a host of information about the car that you are looking to buy. You will have to ask the seller to give you the VIN. A sure sign that there might be something fishy with the seller is if they refuse to let you have the VIN number. At that point, I would just walk away.

Second, make sure that when you are buying a car from an individual (or used car from a dealer for that matter) you have it checked out by a certified mechanic. Like the CarFax report, it will be the best money that you could spend. There might be hidden problems that will not show themselves for several months after you bought the car.

As with all used car purchases, just be aware of any red flags that pop-up along the way. And just remember you can always say, “no I don’t want to buy the car”.

Advice and Tips on Repairing Your Car’s Upholstery

As an owner of a vintage car that has needed complete restoration, I know the value of do-it-yourself projects. By doing the car repairs or restorations yourself, you can save thousands of dollars. One of the most often needed repairs for vintage cars is the upholstery. Let me give you some easy tips for repairing it yourself. First of all, you should always clean the upholstery before starting any repair projects. Use an upholstery cleaner that is made specifically for the type of upholstery you have and always follow the manufacturers instructions to the letter. I prefer to spot test the cleaner in an out-of-the-way place just to be sure. You will be amazed at what a good cleaning can do for old upholstery! Sometimes it will reveal potential problem areas that you can repair before they become a big problem.

Repairing Leather upholstery tips:

If sewing or recovering the seat is not possible, you could try a leather repair kit that can be found at any automotive store. The kit will come with a plastic substance that you will tint to match as close to your car upholstery color as possible. You’ll have to apply it and then let it dry. I don’t recommend this for large areas. It is usually o.k. for small areas if the color is well matched. Black or White upholstery is the easiest to match.

Repairing Vinyl upholstery tips:

Don’t try using glue to repair your vinyl! It seems like an easy fix, but the adhesive in the glue can actually destroy the foam padding underneath the vinyl. You don’t want to create more problems! Instead, simply cut a patch of excess vinyl found under the seat and use adhesive specifically made for vinyl upholstery to patch it. Again, follow the adhesive manufacturers instructions carefully.

If it is just the piping around the seat that needs repair, use this simple trick: Take a match stick and remove the match. Add some contact cement to one end of the match and work it into the damaged area. Then apply the cement to the other end and work that end of the stick in. Fold it in as you go if necessary. Make sure you let the cement dry completely before using the seat.

Do some research ahead of time and see if this do it yourself project is something you think you can do. You don’t want that vintage muscle car looking awesome on the outside and old as dirt on the inside. With a little work you can get it in top notch shape!

Tips And Tricks To Help You With Your Car-Buying Decision

There are many people that are fantastic with cars,a long with knowing the values of each model and make. Others break out into hives just by thinking about the process of shopping for a vehicle. If you’re not properly informed, you will find these tips to be of great use.

Don’t let salesmen talk you into anything that is unaffordable. Sports cars look nice and you can be sweet talked into such a purchase. Keep your budget in mind and stay in control of the situation.

Get your financing in order before shopping for autos. Talk to either a bank or a credit union about it. This can often result in better interest rates. This can allow you to visit a dealership with the knowledge of knowing the amount of money you can afford on a vehicle.

Do not pay sticker price for a vehicle. Sticker price is an over-inflated amount they don’t think anyone will pay. If you don’t think you can properly negotiate, bring along someone who can. Make sure you research the car you are interested in first, however, so you have some idea of what to offer.

Always test drive a car before you buy it. This will give you a feel of how good the car drives. There could always be something which makes you hate driving the car.

If you are looking for a new car, you need to find one that is safe. The car should have ABS or anti-lock brakes. Airbags are also crucial, and your vehicle can never have too many. It is vital that your car is safe.

As you shop for your car, think about fuel economy. For instance, you might think a big V-8 engine, paired with a towing package, is a great idea. But, is that really a need or simply a want? Are you actually going to use that feature? If not, it may not be the wisest investment.

Talk to your bank beforehand to ensure you are eligible for a loan. This is simply for safety. Often times a dealership will get you a better offer than your bank, however it’s always good to have a backup plan.

Shop for a car towards the end of a month. At most dealerships, the salesmen are trying to reach a certain quota for the amount of cars they have sold. At month’s end, the salesperson may still need to meet his quota, and he will be more conducive in giving you a better deal just to make a sale.

Shopping for new cars can be fun and exhausting. You can take some of the stress out of the process by doing much of your shopping from your home computer. Many websites offer side by side comparisons of various vehicles. This lets you narrow your options.

Plan your budget before going out and trying to buy a car, regardless of whether it is new or used. You need to have a firm idea of how much car you can afford. You need to be aware of what you can afford on a payment. Shop for a car loan before shopping for a car.

Never sign any type of auto contract until you read it. Before you blindly start signing contracts on the dotted line, read the entire contract start to finish. Whenever you sign a contract, then legally, you are bound to it. Take a copy of the contract home or have a professional look over it with you if you’re having difficulties. You might be able to ask them for a photocopy of the contract.

Research properly when you want to buy a car that is used. This can give you a better idea of what you should be paying. Kelly Blue Book is a great resource to determine the value of a car. If the dealer is selling a car for more than what these two sources price the car at, then go elsewhere.

Do not feel helpless any longer. You have the information you need to make smart choices when it comes to car buying. When you pay the right price on a car, you will love it even more. You can now enjoy shopping for your new car!