Monthly Archives: October 2013

  • You Can Fix A Flat Tire!

    It can happen to anyone, no matter how new or old your car. And, it can happen in the most unlikely of places in the most inconvenient circumstances. A flat tire is something that everyone should know how to fix and/or change, especially in cases where you are not a member of a travel club that can come out and fix it for you or you are in a remote area where you cannot call for help. Read the following tips of what to do from pulling off to the side of the road, to driving away with your doughnut.

    Find a flat, stable and safe place to change your tire. You need a solid, level surface that will restrict the car from rolling. If you are near a road, park as far from traffic as possible and turn on your emergency flashers (hazard lights). Avoid soft ground and hills.

    Apply the parking brake and put car into "Park" position. If you have a standard transmission, put your vehicle in first or reverse.

    Place a heavy object (e.g., rock, concrete, spare wheel, etc.) in front of the front and back tires. This is an extra safety step.

    Take out the spare tire and the jack. Place the jack under the frame near the tire that you are going to change. Ensure that the jack is in contact with the metal portion of your car's frame.

    • Many cars have molded plastic along the bottom. If you don't place the jack in the right spot, it will crack the plastic when you start lifting. If you're not sure about the right place to put the jack, read your owner's manual.
    • For most modern uni-body cars, there is a small notch or mark just behind the front wheel wells, or in front of the rear wheel wells where the jack is intended to be placed.
    • For most trucks or older cars that have a frame, look to place the jack on one of the beams of the frame just behind the front tire or in front of the rear tire.

    Raise the jack until it is supporting (but not lifting) the car. The jack should be firmly in place against the underside of the vehicle. Check to make sure that the jack is perpendicular to the ground.

    Remove the hub cap and loosen the nuts by turning counterclockwise. Don't take them all the way off; just break the resistance. By keeping the wheel on the ground when you first loosen the nuts, you'll make that you're turning the nuts instead of the wheel.

    • Use the wrench that came with your car or a standard cross wrench. Your wrench may have different sizes of openings on different ends. A correctly-sized wrench will slip easily over the nut, but will not rattle.
    • It can take quite a lot of force to break your lug nuts free. If all else fails, you can use your body weight or stomp on the wrench (be absolutely certain you are turning it the correct way - counter clockwise).
    • A cross wrench will give you much more torque than a standard single-handled wrench.

    Pump or crank the jack to lift the tire off the ground. You need to lift it high enough to remove the flat tire and replace it with a spare.

    • As you lift, make sure that the car is stable. If you notice any instability, lower the jack and fix the problem before fully lifting the car.
    • If you notice the jack lifting at an angle or leaning, lower and reposition it so that it can lift straight up.

    Remove the nuts the rest of the way. Turn them counter clockwise until they are loose. Repeat with all lug nuts, then remove the nuts completely.

    Remove the tire. Place the flat tire under the vehicle so in the event of a jack failure the vehicle will fall on the old wheel, hopefully preventing injury. If the jack is placed on a flat, solid base, you shouldn't have any problems.

    • The tire might be stuck due to rust. You could try hitting the inside half of the tire with a rubber mallet to loosen the tire, or use the spare tire to hit the outside half.

    Place the spare tire on the hub. Take care to align the rim of the spare tire with the wheel bolts, then put on the lug nuts.

    Tighten the nuts by hand until they are all snug. They should turn easily at first.

    • Using the wrench, tighten the nuts as much as possible using a star pattern. To ensure the tire is balanced, don't completely tighten the nuts one at a time. Going in a star pattern around the tire, one nut across from another, give each nut a full turn until they are equally tight.
    • Avoid using so much force that you risk upsetting the jack. You will tighten the lug nuts again once the car is down and there is no risk of it falling.

    Lower the car without applying full weight on the tire. Tighten the nuts as much as possible.

    Lower the car to the ground fully and remove the jack. Finish tightening the nuts and replace the hubcap.

    Put the old tire in your trunk and take it to a mechanic. Get an estimate for the cost of repair. Small punctures can usually be repaired for less than $15. If the tire is not repairable, they can dispose of it properly and sell you a replacement.

  • Car-B-Que, Engine Cooking Part II

    The second part in our series in “How to Cook a Thanksgiving Dinner on Your Vehicle’s Manifold” may be the most important. No, we are not really going to cook an entire bird on our car engine – although you probably could if you were traveling far enough.  Since we are only anticipating cooking our turkey on the way to Grandma’s house we are going to use boneless turkey cutlets.

    Now let me remind all of our readers out there that there is no exact way to time this type of cooking.  Too many variables could affect the cooking time such as placement of the food on the engine, the speed you are driving, and the length of the drive you are taking.  Please make sure, especially with any type of meat, that you thoroughly check the temperature of your food before tasting it.

    Before we dive into the recipe let’s review the basic steps to a successful Car-B-Que.  First, make sure the specific part of the engine that you are placing your food on gets hot enough and is clean.  Next, make sure you have wire ties to secure your food to its given position underneath the hood.  Also plan to wrap your food in aluminum foil at least three times – remember, you are cooking on a car engine and no matter how well you think you’ve cleaned it – IT’S STILL AN ENGINE!  Another important tip is to use as little liquid as possible.  Liquid can seep out causing smoke to come off of your engine and possibly even cause a fire.  Lastly, things under the hood get hot, sometimes very hot.  The easiest way to prevent a trip to the local E.R. is to use oven mitts to remove food packages from your car’s engine.              


    2 lbs. Turkey Cutlets

    4 Tablespoons Butter

    2 Sprigs of Rosemary

                                                            Salt & Pepper to Taste

    Place the turkey cutlets on the aluminum foil.  Top with remaining ingredients.  Fold foil tightly sealing all ends.  Repeat several times to protect the food and your engine.  A guesstimate is that you must drive a minimum of 40 minutes at 50 MPH to reach the desired internal cooking temperature of 170 degrees.  Use the drippings and make a pan gravy when you reach Grandma’s!

  • Truck Accessories, Add A Rack

    It can be tough to keep your truck organized, especially if you use it for work. If you don't have the proper truck accessories in place, your ride can quickly become a disorganized mess. If you want to keep your truck highly organized, you should consider using some of the following truck accessories listed below.

    Ladder Racks-Anyone that uses their truck for work knows that one of the biggest problems is the large amount of equipment, tools and general stuff that tends to build up in the back. Besides just being messy, equipment gets damaged if it is left loose in the back of your vehicle, especially equipment such as ladders that are longer and lightweight. Installing one of the many different types of ladder racks will not only keep things organized but it will also extend the life of your tools. When equipment is secured and not moving about there is much less chance of damage to either the truck bed or the tools themselves. Both of which can be extremely expensive if you have to replace or repair.

    Cab Guards- This is a mesh or barred type piece of metal that extends between both sides of the rack against the front of the bed and the rear window. Having this extra protection means that ladders or other long equipment won't accidentally knock or be pushed against the window causing breakage or damage to the glass.

    Roof Racks - If you have a truck cap on your ride, you may want to consider getting a roof rack. This is a nice way to haul items on road trips. It's also great for ladders and other large cargo. Be sure you properly tie down items when using a roof rack.

    Of course, you really don't need to have a practical reason to put an accessory on your truck. Many people buy truck racks or cab guards just because they like the way they look. Whatever your reason may be these are some of the most versatile and useful accessories you can buy!

  • Car Manufacturers Help Towards A Cure

    The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and most of the car manufacturers hope to drive one point home and that is to help raise awareness of breast cancer as a life threatening disease for women everywhere. Check out what many of the top automakers have done this month to raise awareness and aid in research and community outreach.


    The car manufacturer shows its warm and fuzzier side with the Warriors In Pink campaign. Ford’s commitment in the fight against breast cancer runs well beyond raising funds. The company is dedicated to making a difference 365 days a year by encouraging women to become informed and visit their doctors, educating them about how early detection saves lives. 2013 marks Ford Motor Company’s 19th year of support to date, Ford has dedicated more than $120 million to the cause, the campaign contributes to Ford's national sponsorship of Race for the Cure. Apparel and accessories are available to women, men and kids, with 100 percent of net proceeds going to the cause.


    The FIAT brand teamed up with The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) to produce 250 “Pink Ribbon" limited-edition Fiat 500 model cars and for every one sold $1,000 was donated to the organization. The limited edition vehicle sports a pink line on both sides, a pink ribbon that slightly overlaps the car’s symbol and a specialized interior design. The Italian automaker has also committed itself to a $50,000 minimum donation for the cause.


    The Detroit automaker has recognized National Breast Cancer Awareness Month from the top of its Renaissance Center by featuring a pink ribbon and turning pink the LED sign at the top of the building.

    As part of Chevy’s partnership with the American Cancer Society, the brand has encouraged its dealers, employees, customers and fans to help save lives by participating in one of the hundreds of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks being held across the United States. The walks are family friendly events that honor breast cancer survivors, raises awareness about the disease, and help save lives by raising money. Since 1993, nearly 7 million people have participated in a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, raising more than $400 million.

    Individual dealerships from Hyundai, to Honda, to Toyota, to Mercedes-Benz, dealerships across the country have also participated in major awareness raising efforts to bring attention to this dreaded disease. Check out your local car dealership to see how you can contribute to their efforts in the fight against breast cancer.

  • Time For An Oil Change

    Is it time for an oil change, regularly changing your car’s engine oil and filter is one of the most important things you can do to keep your car running well. Over time your oil breaks down and your filter becomes clogged with contaminants. Depending upon your driving habits and type of vehicle, this may take as few as 3 months or 3,000 miles, or be as long as 20,000 miles or 24 months. Fortunately, changing your oil is both easy and inexpensive. Try these step by step instructions and you will be amazed just how easy it is and it will also save you money.

    1. Gather all the necessary supplies and equipment. You don’t want to be under your car and discover you forgot something. It also helps to have everything close at hand.

    2.  It helps if you heat up the car a bit to get the oil warm. Before draining out the old oil, you may want to open the hood of the car and open the oil filler cap on the top of the engine. This will help the oil drain easier because air can flow in as the crankcase drains. Locate the drain plug on the bottom of the oil pan. It is normally towards the back of the engine

    3. Loosen the plug counter-clockwise using the proper sized socket (or wrench). You should also remove and replace the circular paper (or felt) drain plug gasket, but a metal washer can be re-used if in good condition. Be careful not to drop the plug in the oil, it’s a messy job trying to find the plug in the black stuff.

    4. Some vehicles (such as BMW, Mercedes, newer Volvos, etc) may have a filter element or cartridge as opposed to the simpler spin-on type. They require you to open the cap of a built-in reservoir and lift out the filter element itself.

    5. Locate the filter assembly. This can be a tough part. Filters are not put in a standard position, and they can be on the front, back or side of engines. Look at the filter you purchased to replace the old one and look for something similar. Once you have located it, remove it from the engine. Once you get a good grip slow and steady twisting can sometimes get it to begin to spin. If you can’t get it off by hand, use an oil filter wrench. Keep trying. It will eventually come off. There will be oil in the filter, so be careful not to spill it and have a pan underneath to catch the drips.

    6. Replace the drain plug on the oil pan. Don’t forget to install a replacement gasket or washer. Start threading it with your fingers so as not to cross the threads, and it should be snug, but no need to be super-tight.

    7. Carefully screw on the new, lubricated filter, being careful to not cross the threads. With the paper cartridge filters, they will always come with at least one o-ring, sometimes as many as four different ones. Make sure to replace all of them to ensure that they will not leak. The filter will generally say how tight to tighten it. Go until the gasket touches, then tighten however far it says it should be. This is usually 2/3 or 1/4 of a turn after the gasket touches but could be more.

    8. Add new oil to the car at the fill hole. The amount you need is in the owner’s manual, usually listed under “capacities”. Don’t always rely on the dipstick for an accurate measurement; it can be off, especially if the engine has just been run

    9. Replace the fill cap, check around for tools, and close the hood.

    10.Start the engine, watching to be sure the oil pressure light goes off after start-up, and be sure to look under the car while the engine is running (put car in park or neutral with the parking brake on) to check for any drips. If the filter and drain plug aren’t tight, they may leak slowly. Run the engine for a minute or so.

    I thought it was important for my son to know how to do this, why pay someone else for something you can do on your own. He followed this list while I supervised and he was done in no time.  Next week he will learn how to change his breaks, he will appreciate this when he gets older.

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