Monthly Archive: November 2015

14 car hacks every driver should know

For as long as there have been cars on the road, there have been innovative car owners who have thought of some truly ingenious solutions to their car woes.

We came up with 14 awesome car hacks that may make your next car ride a little more pleasant (thanks to Farmers Insurance for the idea).

1. De-ice your locks with hand sanitizer.

Car locks can ice over in the winter. So squirt a little waterless hand sanitizer on your key and insert it in the lock. The same alcohol content that kills germs on dirty hands also melts away the ice in the lock.

2. Remove dents with dry ice.

The extreme cold of dry ice can help pop out dents. Pick some up at your local grocery store. Remember to pick it up with gloves, since dry ice can hurt your skin. Then apply it to the dent repeatedly until it’s gone.

3. Clean your engine with soap and water.

A spotless engine is easier to service. Clean it often with water and a little dishwasher detergent (degreaser works well, too). First, cover all the sensitive areas (electrical parts, battery, air intake, and distributor) with plastic bags, then scrub and rinse the engine with a soft rag. Remember to remove all plastic bags once you’ve cleaned all the necessary surfaces.

4. Fix scratches with nail polish.

Touch-up paint always works best, but if you’re in a pinch, clear nail polish helps to fill in scratches and cover up exposed metal to avoid rust.

5. Unlock your car with a shoelace.

Locking yourself out of your car is always frustrating and a little embarrassing. But don’t let it ruin your day. Tie a loop in a shoelace large enough to wrap around your door lock. Work it into the space between the car and the door, then move it until the loop fits around the door lock. Lasso it, and lift up the lock. This only works for cars with upper lock mechanisms. You can always call a roadside assistance service to help get your door unlocked, too.

6. Substitute a scented candle for an air freshener.

Place a scented candle in an unused cup holder on a hot day. As the candle melts, it will slowly release its scent. Be sure to use a candle in a glass container to avoid destroying the cup holder and other parts of your car’s interior (via reddit user churninbutter).

7. Improve fuel economy by “hypermiling.”

Like clipping coupons and scoping out deals, there are thrifty ways to save on fuel economy, too. Try giving the car in front of you more space. Then you can coast to a stop instead of slamming on the brakes. You can also turn off your engine whenever you’re stopped for more than a few minutes, and use cruise control to maintain your speed.

8. Remember where you parked with smartphone photos.

Parking lots and garages can be endless mazes. So take out your smartphone and snap a few pictures of your location and markers around your car, and you’ll find it again in no time.

9. Clean foggy headlights with toothpaste.

Over time, headlights get oxidized and dirty. But the same stuff that makes your teeth shine can help make your headlights bright again, too. Slather plenty of the toothpaste on your headlights, buff it in with a dry cloth, rinse with water, and wipe clean for clear headlights on the cheap.

10. Use a staple remover on tough key rings.

We have all had to deal with difficult-to-open key rings. One way to get around that is to use a staple remover to prop open the key ring as you slide the key on or off. Be sure not to stab yourself.
11. Clear your windshield with a razor blade.

Dead bugs, sap, and other gunk can spot up your windshield. Sticky stuff like that won’t come off with washer fluid, so scraping it off with a razor blade. Be extremely careful not to cut yourself or others in the process.

12. Lighten your keychain to protect your ignition.

A heavy keychain can weigh your pocketbook down and make your jeans look bulky and awkward. But it can also weigh down your ignition switch, causing premature wear and tear. Keep your keys lean to protect your car’s ignition.

13. Clean out the mess in your trunk to increase gas mileage.

Many of us live out of our cars. But you may not know is that all of the “stuff” in you car is costing you money. According to the EPA, every extra 100 pounds of weight can reduce your fuel economy by 2%, or roughly seven cents per gallon ( at $3.70/gallon). Seven cents may not sound like a lot, but it can add up to as much as $73 a year for someone who fills up 20 gallons a week.

14. Keep kitty litter on hand for icy roads.

If you are ever stuck on an icy road, spread some kitty litter around the drive wheels of your car for added traction. Since most kitty litter is made of a mixture of either bentonite clay or silica, it will give a car’s tires something to hold onto. For those in rear-wheel-drive cars, the added weight of a big bag of kitty litter in the trunk will also help improve grip on a slippery road.

Three Tips and Tricks for Interior Car Cleaning

Because the inside of a car has so many more surfaces and textures than the exterior, car interior cleaning is a relatively big job that requires a time commitment of up to a few hours if you plan to do it yourself. Whether you are interested in a simple clean car interior or something as thorough as a car interior detailing, there are a few things you should be aware of that will help you do a more satisfying job. The following tips will give you some pointers that may help you do a better job cleaning the inside of your car.

Tip 1

The first thing you should do before you even start the actual cleaning part is to collect everything loose in your car into a garbage bag. This will keep you from having to constantly move things around while you’re cleaning. Once you are done with the rest of the cleaning process, you can sift through the stuff in the bag for things you want to keep in your car and throw the rest away.

Tip 2

After you are done taking everything out of your car, the next thing you should do is vacuum, preferably with one that has a hose like a shop vac. Vacuuming is an important step because it removes excess dirt before the cleaning products are applied. Vacuum both the floor and the seats.

Tip 3

Wash hard surfaces first; they are the easiest to clean so it is nice to get the dash board and windows out of the way in the beginning. Also, that way you clean the fabric after it absorbs the drips from the hard surfaces around it.

How to Change Your Car Oil in 13 Easy Steps

1. Park your car on a flat, even, hard surface and run the engine for about five minutes. You’ll want the engine to be warmed up but not hot, so the oil flows out easily but doesn’t burn you.

2. Locate the oil plug. For most cars, a sturdy jack will make this job much more pleasant. Raise the car and look for the plug, usually toward the rear of where the engine is located. Consult your owner’s manual and double check that you’ve got the right plug before moving forward with the task at hand.

3. Drain the plug. Place the drain pan beneath the plug. With your wrench, turn the plug counterclockwise to loosen the plug. Once the plug comes off, the oil will begin to drain—sometimes quickly. You’ll probably drop the plug in your oil pan but that’s part of the fun. Take extra care as the oil can be hot.

4. Replace the drain plug and be careful not to overtighten. If your plug is looking flat or worn out, replace it.

5. Remove the old oil filter—it looks almost like a can of soda and usually bears the car’s make. Secure the grip and turn counter clockwise. It might be sticky, but give it a good twist and make sure when you remove it that the gasket comes along for the ride. There will likely be oil in the filter. Carefully empty the contents into the oil pan.

6. With a rag, wipe the area where the filter was on your engine. There’s usually a bit of sludge that collects here and you’ll want the area clean to install the new filter.

7. Take your new filter in one hand and dip your index finger in new oil with the other hand. Apply a light layer of new oil to the new gasket with your finger. The fresh oil helps create a seal for the filter.

8. Line up the threads and turn the new filter about 3/4 of a turn so it secures into place. It doesn’t take much pressure and you can do this one by hand.

9. Now add oil in the hole marked for oil. Might seem like a no-brainer, but consult your owner’s manual if you’re unsure. For quantity and type of oil, check your owner’s manual.

10. Screw on the oil cap, drop the hood and wipe off your filthy hands before you hop in the car.

11. Start your engine. Your oil light should turn off immediately. If it stays on, switch off the ignition and check that the filter and drain plug are snug.

12. After running the engine for a few minutes, shut her down and check the your oil levels to make sure there are no leaks. Pop the hood and pull out the dipstick. Wipe it clean, pop it back in, pull it out, wipe it clean (quite the routine) and check that the level is at FULL.

13. Make sure to dispose of used oil responsibly. Transfer the dirty oil from your drain pan into a leakproof container and take it to your local auto shop or gas station for safe disposal or recycling. While you’re there, don’t forget to proudly tell them you changed your oil yourself.

11 Tips for Painting Your Car

$T2eC16V,!)!E9s2fB+N5BRZzlkNmZw--60_35Of all the automotive repair jobs a home mechanic can do, painting a car can be the most challenging because it requires a well-controlled environment, a considerable number of tools and equipment, and a lot of patience. For many do-it-yourselfers, painting a car is at the top of their list of things to do because it is challenging, yet very rewarding. Before painting a car, home mechanics should know some tips and tricks that will help them prepare a work area for painting a car, prepare a car’s exterior to be painted, and apply paint smoothly and evenly. Below are a total of 11 tips for the entire painting process as well as advice on how to buy painting supplies on eBay.

Three Tips for Preparing the Car for Painting
The success of a paint job is often determined by the care taken to prepare a car to be painted. Many amateur car painters rush the preparation process in their zeal to see the paint job completed, which often results in unsatisfactory results and contributes to the commonly-held belief that amateurs cannot paint their own cars at home. Properly preparing the car for painting will greatly improve the likelihood that a paint job is successful. Painters should know a few important tips and tricks for ensuring that a car is prepared properly for painting, including how to deal with rust.

1. Tips for Dealing With Rust
Rust occurs when untreated steel is exposed to water or water vapor, causing oxidation. Salt worsens the oxidation process, which means that cars in coastal regions or those exposed to winter road salt are more prone to rusting. A car must have all of its rust removed or treated chemically before it is painted because rust will cause the paint to bubble, which is unsightly and increases the likelihood that the car will continue to rust.

Remove Rust
The most effective way to ensure that rust does not ruin a paint job is to remove it entirely by cutting away rusted metal and welding in new material or by replacing the panel entirely. Bumpers, doors, fenders, hoods, and trunk lids can be replaced relatively easily because they are bolt-on components. Other areas, such as door skins, floor panels, and quarter panels are more difficult to repair because they are exclusively a cut-and-weld affair. That requires additional equipment, such as a welder, spot weld cutter, cut-off wheel, grinder, and clamps. Welding can warp or damage body panels because they are often made of very thin metal, and welding creates a lot of heat. Use a heat-absorbing welding compound or stitch weld the material to reduce the likelihood of warping or damaging the body panel. A heat-absorbing welding compound will remove heat caused by welding from the sheet metal. Stitch welding involves welding metal in short sections, stopping for a few moments, and then continuing to weld. This technique will ensure that the body panel metal has time to cool down in between so it does not heat up too much and warp or have holes burned in it. Porosity (small holes) in welds can cause rust because water or water vapor can become trapped in the metal. The negative effects of porosity can be reduced by sandblasting the the area after it is welded to close up the tiny holes in the weld. A weld-through paint primer should be applied afterwards.

Chemically Treat Rust
For areas of light surface rust, chemical treatments can be applied to stop the oxidation process and prevent the rust from worsening. These chemical treatments can be sprayable liquids or gels. They all use phosphoric acid as the active ingredient. Phosphoric acid converts iron oxide, which is active rust, into iron phosphate. This stops the oxidation process, which allows car painters to paint over it without worrying about paint bubbles occurring later on. These treatments usually take between two and 12 hours to work, depending on the severity of the problem. An area that is rusted through or that flakes cannot be treated with chemicals. It must be removed by replacing the body panel or by cutting out the affected area and welding in new metal.

2. Use High-Quality Body Filler
Nearly every body panel will require body filler to smooth the surface and prepare it for painting. Low-quality body fillers are inexpensive, but they do not last as long as high-quality body fillers. They are also more difficult to sand, which increases the amount of time and effort required to make the body panel smooth. Given that this is often the most tedious part of painting a car, it makes sense to buy high-quality body filler like Evercoat. It will also ensure that the new paint job will last as long as possible.

3. Block-Sanding
A block is used to sand body filler because it applies pressure evenly across the body panel. Sanding without using a block will leave finger marks in the body filler and leave the body panel uneven. Start sanding with 180-grit sandpaper to remove high spots in the body filler and gradually use finer and finer sandpaper grits to get a smooth finish. Check the results by hand feeling for rough spots or high spots. A visual inspection alone will often miss small imperfections that will be noticeable when the car is painted.

Four Tips for Preparing the Work Area
Before painting a car, home mechanics should consider whether the area where they will paint the car will require any special preparation. Where and when a car is painted can ultimately determine whether a paint job is successful. Prospective car painters should know helpful tips for creating a safe and effective workspace for painting a car.

1. Paint the Car Indoors
A car should be painted indoors. A two-car garage works very well. Many home car painters build temporary paint booths inside their garage by hanging drop cloths from a large frame constructed from PVC piping. When the car is parked inside the structure, it is more difficult for dirt and dust to blow onto the paint. It also keeps the garage from being sprayed by paint during the painting process.

2. Clean the Workspace
A clean workspace is essential to ensuring a successful paint job. Car painters should ensure the area they plan to paint the car in is free of dirt, dust, and other impurities because they can stick to paint and cause an uneven finish. Mopping the floor of the workspace prior to painting the car will keep dirt and dust at bay.

3. Keep the Workspace Dry
The car-painting workspace should be a dry and low-humidity environment to prevent water from negatively affecting the application of the paint and to prevent corrosion. Water can become trapped between the paint and the body’s metalwork, which causes rust.

4. Properly Ventilate the Workspace
The workspace must be properly ventilated to ensure the car painter does not suffer adverse health effects from painting the car. Car paint and related chemicals can be very harmful to human health. Tape a furnace filter to the rear of a standard box fan to create a budget-friendly exhaust fan. The fan should face outward from the painting area so that it sucks the fumes out and blows them outside. The furnace filter will prevent paint dust and chemical residues from sticking to objects outside the painting area.

Four Car Painting Tips
After the car’s body panels and the workspace have been prepared, the car is ready to be painted. If the tips above have been followed, car painters will likely find the painting stage to be quite enjoyable because it will be far easier to complete on smooth, rust-free body panels and within a clean, safe working environment. This is where it all comes together. Painters should be familiar with the following tips to do the job right.

1. Use Quality Primer
It is recommended that car painters use a high-quality primer. Primer protects the body from the paint, which can cause oxidation if applied directly to the body panels. Primer also helps paint stick to the body panels. Therefore, it is important to use a high-quality primer to ensure a long-lasting paint finish. Many auto body professionals prefer to use a two-part, urethane primer system.

2. Use a Base/Clear Paint System
Single-stage paint systems work well for those who are on a budget. They apply quickly because the color and clear coat are mixed together, which means the car is painted in one step. However, a quality two-stage, base/clear system does not cost much more than a single-stage system and delivers far better results. The luster of a base/clear paint job is much greater, which means that the paint looks much thicker and shinier. Not only that, but the paint will look better for longer because it can hide rock chips and scratches better than single-stage paint. With all of the time and effort preparing the car for paint, it often makes sense to spend a bit of extra time and money to finish the job well.

3. Choose the Right Paint Gun
There are two basic types of paint guns: can-style and high volume low pressure (HVLP). A can-style paint gun stores the paint in a can under the gun. HVLP paint guns store the paint in a cup above the gun. HVLP guns use less air pressure than can-style paint guns, which means they create less overspray and waste less primer and paint than can-style paint guns. Regardless of the style paint gun used, a pressure regulator and water and oil separator are mandatory when painting a car. Air pressures and flash times (time between coats) are dictated by the paint manufacturer and can be found on the paint’s material safety data sheet.

4. Use a Pressure Regulator and Water and Oil Separator
Always use a pressure regulator when painting a car to ensure that paint pressure is not too high or low. Also use a water and oil separator to ensure that the paint is not contaminated and that it is properly mixed throughout the painting process. Failure to do either will ruin a paint job.

Buying Car Painting Supplies on eBay
Buying car painting supplies is easy to do on eBay. The following section explains how to find the car painting supplies you want on eBay, how to evaluate a seller, and how eBay will protect you if there is a problem with the purchase.

Finding Car Painting Supplies on eBay
To find the car painting supplies that are best for you, navigate to eBay Motors,, and click the Parts & Accessories tab on the left-hand side of the screen. Click in the Automotive Tools filter on the left-hand side of the screen. Click in the Shop Supplies filter on the left-hand side of the screen. Click in the Body Shop Supplies filter on the left-hand side of the screen. Click in the eBay search toolbar toward the top of the page, and enter the type of car painting supplies you are interested in. If you do not know what specific item you want, try entering related keywords such as “two-stage” for the type of primer you want to use.

How to Evaluate a Seller on eBay
Evaluating a seller on eBay is an important step of buying car painting supplies. To evaluate eBay sellers, check out their eBay ratings, and read through the seller’s feedback section. If the seller has positive feedback ratings and feedback comments, you can reasonably assume the seller will be pleasant to deal with.

eBay Buyer Protection Policy
eBay Buyer Protection helps buyers resolve conflicts related to their purchase when they are unable to resolve the matter with the seller. Buyers must contact eBay within 45 days of purchase and have paid for the car painting supplies using an approved method such as Paypal or Skrill. Claims can be filed if you do not receive the car painting supplies within a time period specified by the order details or within 30 days, you receive a different item than the one described, or if the item received is not as it was described.