Car Talk

But Seriously! -

What about a high mileage car?

There are many good used cars available that have clocked over 100,000 miles. While these cars must be thoroughly checked by a mechanic (preferably one who is experienced with the specific model) some cars have much more usable life left in them, and the price will be right!

How can I verify that I am getting the right deal?

One way to ensure that you get a good deal on your next vehicle is to arm yourself with information. The three guides you see below contain a wealth of information on buying a car including wholesale and retail pricing and ratings on just about any car or light truck you might consider. There is also a section on buying vs. leasing. You can pick up a copy at most bookstores

Fix any small problems

If there is any problems with your engine, such as irregular noise or smell, or performance problems, leaks or smoke, or "check engine" light is on, etc., have your car inspected with a mechanic. It's always better to fix any small problem right away before they can cause engine damage. Be aware, some mechanics will try to scare you because they always want to sell you more job than your car really needs, so always ask to explain everything, to show you what exactly is wrong and why.

Only a few basic things are necessary for engine operation
1. Fuel (To be exact proper air/fuel ratio, normally it is about 14/1)
2. Spark (in appropriate moment)
3. Proper timing (the valves should open and close only in appropriate time)
4. Compression in the cylinders (the engine won't start if the compression is lower than 60 - 70 psi.)

Plus, to start the engine, the battery, the starter and the starter circuit should be OK.

If the engine won't start - there's no magic - one of these things is probably missing. Most often it's a spark- or fuel- related problem, but often it could be very simple things like dead battery.
If the car won't start, check simple things first:
Make sure you have a fuel in the tank and the battery is OK

What can damage your automatic transmission
Most of the transmission troubles start after overheating.
Under heavy load, such as towing a heavy trailer, rocking the vehicle from the snow, having continuous stop and go traffic in hot weather, racing, etc. transmission overheats.
[A friend of mine burnt the transmission after he was accelerating too hard freeing his shiny Audi from the snow on the next day after he bought it!]
At higher temperature the transmission fluid burns loosing its lubricating qualities and becomes oxidized leaving deposits all over inside the transmission. Exposed to the heat the rubber seals and gaskets inside the transmission become hardened causing leaks. The metal parts warp and loose their strength. All this, sooner or later, results in transmission failure.
However, this is not the only reason - sometimes transmission break down just because of poor design, or after being rebuilt by inexperienced technician. Few other cases that can cause an automatic transmission damage:
- bad driving
- too low or too high transmission fluid level
- wrong transmission fluid type

How to prevent the transmission from damage
- Always check your parking space for leaks. Doesn't matter is it the engine oil leak, power steering fluid or transmission fluid - if you discover any, get it fixed before it caused something serious.
- Once in a while check the transmission fluid level and condition.
- If the level is too low, there is a leak somewhere that needs to be fixed.
- Change the fluid as often as it said in your owner's manual or when it becomes too dark (rather brown than red) or dirty.
Also, keep in mind that an automatic transmission can not be drained completely - there is always some transmission fluid left inside the transmission (the torque converter, in the valve body, etc.) which means you only can change about %60 of the fluid at once. This is one more reason to change it more often.
- Use only the same type of the transmission fluid as specified in the owner's manual or on the dipstick. Some vehicles (eg. Dodge Caravan) are very sensitive to fluid type
- Never shift to the Reverse or Parking until the car comes to a complete stop.
- Never shift from the Parking mode when engine rpm is higher than normal idle.
- Always hold a brakes down when shifting from Parking.
- The automatic transmission can be damaged if towing with the drive wheels on the road. Always use a dolly or place powered wheels on the towing platform (if the vehicle is front wheel drive - tow it from the front living rear wheels on the road.

Why do we need to take care of car body?

How old, do you think, is this vehicle in the upper picture? looks nice, isn't it? This Mercedes-Benz is 15 years old with almost 300,000 km (186,000 miles) behind! And more than that, it has never been repainted - this is its original painting. And there is no even a tiny spot of corrosion! Now look at the lower image, this three years old car is already corroded through. Big difference, eh? So, how to keep your car shiny and protect it from corrosion? Read below


Wash your car
Wash your car often (at least once a month). When it's clean, all the moisture dries up quickly, but when it's dirty, the moisture accumulates in dirty areas causing corrosion. Make sure to wash off all the places where the dirt and salt may be accumulated; for example inside wheel arches, under the bumpers etc. Don't forget to wash the area under the battery, it's always rusty. At least once in a few months use pressure wash - it removes the dirt from difficult to reach areas.


Polish your car
I'd recommend to wax your car once in a three - four months (the often, the better). Wax protects your car's coating from sun and chemicals, so the painting won't fade plus the car looks shiny. It takes 30 minutes to polish a whole car and high quality wax polish stays on the car for three - four months (don't believe if someone will suggest you a polish that provides life - time protection - nothing lasts forever).


Rustproof your vehicle
Rustproofing will be helpful for many reasons: it protects a car body from the rust, it protects electrical connectors from the moisture, it protects the brake lines from corrosion (which is very important for safety reasons). One day a rusty brake line will burst and the car will have no brakes.


How to remove scratches from the bumper

Take the fine sand paper (1500 - 2000 grit) and damping with water, slightly sand the scratches. you only need to remove white deposits but not the painting itself, so do this very carefully.


How to remove deep scratches

Deep scratches may be repainted.
How to do it? First, buy the same color spray paint. Before you start, wash the area thoroughly and let it dry completely.

Shake the spray very well (at least 2-3 minutes). Then, spray a little amount into the cap, (don't spray directly to the scratch - will look ugly).

Now, applying it carefully to the scratch using sharpened match, but it needs to be done very carefully, try to apply as thin as the scratch is. If the painting pours down, wipe it off immediately with the clean tissue.


How to remove minor scratches
Look at the image, these scratches on the trunk were made by tree branches when I was backing up.
It's not a big problem, but...

Remove this type of scratches in two steps:
First, use polishing compound the one they use in collision repair shops to buff the scratches. It contains mild abrasive and removes very thin coat of painting. It's not necessary to use the same type. When you will shop for this kind of product, there are few grades of this compound. The difference is in the size of abrazive particles. You need the one that cointains the finest abrasive.

Put a little amount of polishing compound onto a damp sponge. Buff the scratched place in a circular motion for a couple of minutes. Check often to see if I not sand all the painting off.

[I'd suggest to try in a small are first, somewhere at the side bottom of the car, for example.]
Then I wash off the area completely.

Now it's time to use a liquid wax. Squeeze a little amount of wax onto a sponge and spread evenly on the scratched area. Wait a little allowing product to slightly haze, then using a soft towel, buff the polish for a shine.

Cars people WANT
the ones they can AFFORD

Popular but pricey: Toyota Corolla
Cheaper Alternative:
Ford Escort

Popular but pricey: Honda Civic EX
Cheaper Alternative:
Mazda Protégé SE
Saved: $2500

Popular but pricey: Toyota Camry LE
Cheaper Alternative:
Chevrolet Malibu V6

Popular but pricey: Toyota 4-Runner Ltd.
Cheaper Alternative:
Nissan Pathfinder LE

Popular but pricey: Toyota Sienna CE
Cheaper Alternative:
Ford Windstar GL

Winter Driving Tips from the National Safety Council:

Filling Gas Cans

You may notice the "no smoking" sign at the local service station, but what about signs that read, "no filing gas cans in the bed of your truck?"

Customers filling gas cans in truck beds equipped with plastic bed liners have reportedly caused some recent service station fires.

Plastic bed liners don't allow a grounding effect, so static electricity builds up, resulting in sparks and spontaneous fires. As many as 23 injuries or deaths have been blamed on such fires. So, next time you fill a gas can, remember to:

Five Ways to Use Less Gas

1. Lighten Up. Don't carry heavy, unnecessary items in your car, and remove accessory racks when you're not using them.

2. Drive the speed limit. Many communities have stoplights timed to turn green for cars moving at the speed limit. Speeding puts you out of sync with the timed lights. You use more gas idling at and accelerating from the lights.

3. Minimize passing. When you speed up to pass another car, you use more gasoline -- only to slow down to fit back into traffic.

4. Check your tires. if tires aren't rotated per manufacturer recommendations or properly aligned and inflated, fuel efficiency can be reduced.

5. Shift gears appropriately. Generally, the higher the gear, the less fuel you use.

Know the "NO ZONE"

The "no-zone" is the area near a semi-truck's side and rear where cars seem to disappear into blind spots. Vehicles lingering in the "no-zone" can't be seen by truck drivers causing a potential hazard if a lane change becomes necessary. Tailgating in the rear "no-zone" not only hides you from the truck driver, but also radically reduces your view of traffic ahead. When passing, avoid cutting in front of a truck too soon, then abruptly slowing down. Because it takes longer to pass large trucks, maintain your speed and wait until the front of the truck is visible in your rear-view mirror before shifting back into the other lane.

Ways to spot a drunk driver

A car can be a lethal weapon when operated by a drunk driver.

A driver may be drunk if the vehicle:

Remember, drunk drivers are dangerous and my not be avoidable. If you suspect someone is driving drunk, keep your distance, jot down the license plate number and call the authorities.

Click Here to view Canadian Motor Vehicle Collision Statistics
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