Sunday, December 14, 2008

Defensive and efficient driving: A roadtripper’s key to road Zen

Defensive and fuel efficient driving are the ultimate keys to road safety and the optimum operation of your car’s system for a long time. By being a defensive and fuel efficient driver, you’ll also add up more on savings from frequent gas ups. Follow these simple and easy steps to become a defensive and fuel efficient driver.

Become a Defensive driver

1. Before starting your car, be sure that you have buckled up everyone, including children and pets (if any)

2. Stay in the speed limit. In some areas, (especially highly urbanized zones) driving too fast or too slow will increase your chance of a collision.

3. Be cautious of changing situations on the road and be prepared to respond quickly. If you notice a car that’s straddling, weaving, making wide turns, stopping suddenly or not responding to traffic signals, then know that the driver may be impaired or distracted. Probable causes could be alcohol, distraction or on the phone.

4. Stay away from impaired drivers. Slow down a bit to increase following distance. If the driver is behind you, turn at the nearest corner. Always remember to never let or encourage an impaired driver pass you. If a vehicle crosses over into your lane, pull over the roadside. Sound your horn or flash lights to attract attention.

5. Maintain presence of mind to quickly respond to any situation. Never drink and drive. Never use your mobile phone while on the road.

5. Always follow traffic rules and regulations. Never contest right of way or engage racing on busy roads.

6. Always observe courtesy and respect for other drivers.

Drive Efficiently

1. Regularly tune-up your gasoline / diesel engine to keep it in top fuel efficiency condition.

2. Start and keep your engine running at the normal idling speed. Running more than the recommended “warm up” will affect your fuel burn.

3. When driving, always keep within the speed of 70 to 90 kph. Driving below or higher than this bracket will result in less kph traveled for the same amount of fuel.

4. Plan your trips ahead in order to maximize the load factor of your car.

5. Always be aware of alternate routes in your trip to avoid traffic hassles.

6. Always keep in mind when to shift to a higher gear. This will avoid stress on your engine.

7. Fill your tank early in the morning will result in your being able to load 3-6% more fuel than filling it at noon when the temperature is much higher.

8. Never overfill your tank. Always see to it to keep your fuel cap tight to prevent spillage or evaporation.

9. If you tune up the operation of your car at close to sea level, it will be less fuel efficient when you’ll get to a higher elevation and vice versa due to the difference in density altitude.

10. Always maintain gradual acceleration. This will save you as much as 1 kilometer to the liter compared with rapid acceleration.

11. Minimize your load. Unnecessary weight in your car will add up to as much as 10% in your car’s fuel consumption.

Practice these basics and you’re off to a safe and smooth ride.

Buckle up.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Knowing the Blood and Lifeline of your Car’s System - Brake, Power Steering, Battery and Radiator Coolant Fluids

Now that you’ve known the other car care basics, perhaps it’s time we take a look at the fluid essentials that are literally the life giving blood of your car.

1. Brake Fluid- Is a type of hydraulic fluid that is used in hydraulic brake applications of your car, motorcycles and trucks. This type of fluid is used to transfer force under pressure from its point of origin among hydraulic lines to the braking mechanism close to the wheels.

Most brake fluids today are composed of glycol-ether but several types with mineral oil and silicone composites are also out in the market. This type of fluid should meet stringent requirements set by organizations such as SAE and the US Department of Transportation (DOT) - hence you get ratings on labels such as SAE or DOT 3 and 4 compliance.

As a rule of thumb, brake fluid should always be replenished if the levels in its container decrease with every drive. Fluid level in the master cyclinder will drop as the linings, brake pads and shoes wear and the calipers extend further to compensate. Brake fluid level may also be low because of leaking, which can lead to loss of hydraulic pressure and the most dangerous- brake loss.

It is very important to constantly monitor your brake fluid levels to ensure safe driving and fill according to the set level. Flush and change your brake fluid every 1-2 years to further ensure reliability and take note to never mix brake fluids with different DOT ratings as this can result to poor fluid performance.

2. Power Steering – Is another type of hydraulic fluid that transmits the power steering system of cars, trucks and other modes of transportation.
This is the fluid that guards your power-steering pump and rack from wear and tear. It requires constant monitoring and refilling from time to time according to the required level in its cylinder.

A way to notice that your steering system is about to have a problem or that your power steering fluid is running low is when you turn the steering wheel and you hear whining noises. Have your car checked when this occurs to prevent serious damages to your power- steering system.

Note: There are products out in the market today that contain the combined properties of Power Steering and Automatic Transmission Fluids (ATF). Use any of these products to save and be protected more.

3. Battery Fluid- Is the electrolyte fluid found inside the cells of your battery. If you are using the regular type of battery and not the maintenance free one, then you are required to refill your battery cells from time to time with electrolyte fluid.

Standard battery for cars is 12V and usually has 6 individual cells inside it. To refill, simply remove the vent caps that can either be found on top or on the sides of the battery. Check and fill the electrolyte fluid inside.

Note: There are some brands of maintenance free batteries out in the market today that can run on dual power- meaning they also have vent caps for electrolyte fluids in case their power supply run out. Although this type of battery may not come cheap, it would be best for you to use it.

4. Radiator Coolant- Is a mixture of anti-freeze fluid and water designed to protect the radiator and cooling system all year round. Using one will protect your engine from overheating. Most coolant products out in the market today come with various additives that can further help you against rust and other forms of corrosion, lubricate or increase the cooling efficiency of your cooling system.

Simply pour out the contents of your coolant to the radiator reservoir. Add water to the set level and you’re done.

For maintenance, it is very important for you to drain and flush your coolant once a year (or depending on the product recommendations) and replace it with a new one.

Note: Never mix different types of coolant together as this can lead to damage or a reduction of your car’s cooling system. Before changing to another brand, be sure to drain and flush your cooling system of the old one.

See to it that the reservoirs of these fluids are in constant levels and refill when they’re not enough. Properly maintaining them will help ensure your safety and prolong the life of your car.

Buckle up and drive safely.

Read more money saving car care and maintenance tips @:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The truth about Lemon cars and how to avoid buying one

No, were not talking about the green, refreshing fruit we’ve all come to love- but of a defective car. The term “Lemon” has been coined for new or used cars which after purchase, has been found by the buyer to have defects not readily apparent before it was bought. Defects could range from simple design flaws to life threatening flaws due to parts installed incorrectly during manufacture.

The term nowadays, is also associated with any product which has major defects that make it useless for its purpose.

New and used lemons

In perception, brand new cars may contain technical defects or workmanship errors. This could be due to incorrect design or errors during the assembly process at the factories. Parts and wiring may have been installed incorrectly or cars may have hidden defects under the hood.

Used cars on the other hand, become lemons once they are not used according to the set standards, abused or poorly maintained, repaired or worse, has been unprofessionally rebuilt after meeting an accident. A common practice of fraudulent dealerships is the tampering of lemon vehicles to manipulate high mileage, technical and mechanical defects, corrosion and more.

The used line up may also encounter the same problems as that of their brand new counter parts, but the problems are way much worse.

A form of lemon known as “Cut and shut” a type of car body collision repair where a wrecked portion of a car is sawed off and is replaced with a section from a matching car. A car that is cut and shut is very dangerous as it will surely come apart under strenuous conditions, high speeds and road mishaps. Usually, cars that have been cut and shut are the ones that were salvaged after a serious collision.

Poorly repaired collision-damaged vehicles are also bound to be a risk with Unibody problems. A Unibody by the way, is the type of construction used in motor vehicles where parts such as the floor, roof, and panels are wielded together to produce a unit. This process has been employed in the manufacture of vehicles since 1987. It eliminates the need to construct a separate frame for every vehicle produced.

Car weight may be reduced, but its unibody parts are prone to bending as they were designed to absorb the impact of g-forces or damage in severe accidents which may cause the car not to work properly when it is still driven (even with stringent repairs) after a grave blow.

Protect yourself from lemons

As a consumer, there are legislative measures that protect you against lemons and manufacturers nowadays are very vigilant about their products that they would be willing to give you back your money, buy back the defective vehicle or exchange it for a new one right away once it has undergone multiple repair attempts yet the problems still persist or when defects caused your new vehicle to be out of service over a long period of time because of repairs.

In buying new or used cars, please take note of the following:

1. Do a research on the manufacturer or find out from the authorities if there has been a recall on your model.

2. Be in the know of your model’s safety recall and maintenance history through consumer safety groups, auto magazines, newspaper articles and website reviews.

3. Ask car shops and mechanics how often your model shows up in their shops for repairs.

4. Do a survey among other owners of your model if they are satisfied with their cars.

5. For used vehicles, always get a vehicle history report to make sure that the car you’re buying is clean with no major wrecks or any illegal activity in history.

6. Be suspicious of a model that’s being sold at a very cheap price. Ask around why the price is so. Be warned of dealers / sellers who try to close a deal too quickly.

7. Buying from an owner? Always see to it to have a trusted mechanic inspect the car. Avoid cars that have been in an accident or have frame damage.

Drive safely.