štvrtok 23. marca 2017

How to Determine When a Car Brake Service is Needed

Since brake pads (and shoes) are actually wear items and not maintenance items, they don’t need to be replaced at a specific mileage or time interval. However continues driving on brake pads that are worn out could result in additional component failure, resulting in additional repair expense. How much additional expense depends on how long the car owner takes to replace worn out pads, as well as the type of vehicle.

The Pitfalls of Worn Out Brakes

When the brake pedal is applied, the brake pads are hydraulically applied to the metal rotor. The pads have a material that wears as they are applied to the rotor. If the pads go unchecked, the wear material will eventually disappear and the pad will become bare metal. The bare metal on metal reaction can damage the rotor to the point they need to be replaced.

Due to the added heat caused by the metal-to-metal friction, other brake components could also be damaged. Some of the additional components that may be determinately affected include
  • rotors
  • drums
  • calipers
  • cylinders
  • bearings
Routine Maintenance and Brake Inspection

Naturally one of the best methods to determine if your pads need to be replaced is to have an automotive technician inspect them. The best time for a tech to inspect your brakes is when the tires need to be rotated during a routine maintenance visit. Most auto shops will inspect the pad thickness for free since they already have the wheels/tires removed for the rotation.

During an inspection, the pad thickness is measured (in inches or millimeters) and should be replaced if they fall below a specific measurement. The measurement can vary but usually should be replaced if they fall roughly below 3/32nds of an inch or 3 millimeters. If the measurement is greater than this amount the technician should give a rough estimated of how many miles are left on the pads.

Tell Tale Signs of Worn Out Brake Pads

Some (not all) vehicles have a wear indicator that will give an audible sound when the pads wear to the point they need replacement. More sophisticated vehicles may have a ‘visual indictor. The owner’s manual should indicate if a specific vehicle has brake wear sensors.

If the pads or shoes are worn down to the metal, a metallic grinding sound will usually result when applying the brake pedal. If this type of noise is apparent when the pedal is applied, the vehicle should be inspected immediately. A metal-to-metal condition will also result in less effective braking condition. This condition can often be felt when applying the brake pedal.

nedeľa 19. marca 2017

How to Choose Good Car Tires: The Technology Behind Tires is More Complcated than Most Think

So, a tire is a device to keep alloy wheels from being scraped on the ground? Guess again, because tires are by far the most important thing on a car. The four hand sized contact patches of rubber are the only things between a car and a crash, so it is advisable to always purchase the best tires that can be afforded.

Unfortunately the usual route taken by people wanting to dress up a car is to buy the best alloy wheels and then opt for the cheapest possible tires.

Construction of a Car Tire

A tire isn’t just a big hoop of rubber that keeps the air in. Each tire is constructed from many layers, and it is a laborious process to make a tire. First there is the basic carcass, which is the underlying structure of the tyre and the sidewalls. Over that is laid a sequence of belts, usually made of steel, to give the tyre strength and allow it to withstand punctures without blowing out.

It is the number and layout of these layers that gives the tire most of its flexing qualities. On top of these belts is laid the outer rubber of the tire, which is then stamped in a huge press with the tread pattern.

Why are There Patterns in Car Tires?

The best gripping tire is a racing slick, with no tread at all, but when the road gets wet the rubber will not grip anymore. The primary reason for the tread is to allow the water to run onto the grooves so it doesn’t get trapped between the tyre and the road, which can lead to aquaplaning.

What is Aquaplaning?

Aquaplaning is just like taking a boogie board to the beach and sliding along in the wash between waves. It slides along on a thin layer of water and while it’s fun on a boogie board it is to be avoided in a car.

When the front tires are aquaplaning the driver cannot steer at all, even to the point of spinning the steering wheel to full lock either side – the car will continue in a straight line. That’s why tires have grooves, most of which actively pump the water out from between them.

Directional Car Tires

Many tires these days are directional, which means they have to rotate in one direction in order to effectively work. This is largely due to the water clearing ability, because the curved tread patterns channel water away from the centre of the tyre to the outside. Directional tires usually have big arrows on the side, so ensure that the tires on a car are always turning in the correct direction.

Making Car Tires Less Noisy

Tread design goes further than that. As air is trapped between the grooves and the tread blocks, it makes noise as it compresses and then expands. This is tyre roar, and all tyres do it.

Most designs these days apart from very high performance applications are designed to be quieter than older generation tires, all through the shaping and pattern of the grooves and tread blocks. Staggered tread blocks help by breaking up the frequencies of the air passing between the tyre and the road.

Car Tire Pressure is Very Important

And finally, tire pressure is important. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on what pressure to run the tires at. Not only will grip be maximized, fuel efficiency will increase as one of the largest causes of excessive fuel consumption are underinflated tires.

piatok 10. februára 2017

Surviving Long Car Trips with Children: Travel Activities for Kids during Family Road Trips

In addition to keeping some essential items in the car and ensuring car safety, parents should also suppply children with adequate entertainment while on a long family road trip. Read on to check out fun travel activities for kids and survival tips for the road.

Travel Games and Activities

These are great boredom busters and are particularly useful for older children in the car. Many magnetic games and puzzles are now available. Check out some travel games on the FamilyTravelGear website. Alternatively, you can print out travel games and activities such as bingo, dots and lines games and tic tac toe. Try the FamilyFun and Momsminivan websites for some great ideas.

Best Routes to Travel

Give children the challenge to figure out the best and fastest way to reach a destination. Make copies of relevant pages on the street directory, for example from the house to the beach or theme park or ski resort. Then give the kids the task to work out the best routes and jot down what streets to use and important landmarks that the car will pass by. It’s fun and trains kids to be good map readers and navigators!

Stopping Frequently

Even with games and fun stuff to keep kids occupied, they will get restless after a couple of hours stuck in the car. So make pit stops every two to three hours. Ideally, stop at places with a playground or restaurants with indoor playground. It’s a good idea to leave a ball, frisbee and skipping rope in the car too. Breaking up the journey allows the kids to eat, go to the toilet, rest and run around for a while before going back into the car. They are less likely to complain and whine if they’ve had their share of fun outside the car.

Travel Scrapbook

This is great for road trips that last more than a few days. Give each kid a big notebook or sketch pad, pencils, markers and crayons. Ask them to draw things they see along the journey or write down events as they happen. They can paste polaroid photos, ticket stubs, brochures and other small souvenir items on the scrapbooks. These scrapbooks are better than mere photos as they tell stories of the journey.

License Plate Game

Ask children to look for other license plates with the same number as your family car. To make things a little easier, the number sequence doesn’t have to be the same. They only need to find license plates containing all the numbers on your own license plate. For instance, if the family car’s license number is 938, the kids can look out for license plates with the number 389, 983, 398 and so forth. The kids will be too busy looking out for license plates of other vehicles that they won’t have time to whine and complain about being bored, hot, cold or restless.

Making up Stories

This one is easy because there is no need to bring anything. Get someone to start a story and let someone else to continue. Get each child tell her part of the story for five minutes and pass it to the next child. Parents can join in the fun too. Allow the story to be passed around for half an hour. The storytellers can go as crazy and as imaginative as they wish. Everyone will have a good laugh when the story ends. Guaranteed.


This is an old favorite and never fails to lift up the spirit on long car trips. Make sure everyone has their favorite CDs in the car, play them and sing along. Can’t remember the lyrics? Search for them online and print them out. Prepare some drinking water for the parched throats after long periods of singing.
Keeping children occupied and entertained is key to a successful family road trip. Try some of these ideas and the journey will be just as fun as the destination itself.

Make an Everyday Emergency Car Kit: Carry Supplies In the Auto and Be Prepared for Daily Life Hassles

Everyday life and auto emergencies happen all the time. Cars get stuck in traffic behind a wreck for hours (especially fun with bored children), one forgets to take essential morning medications, the kids are "dying" of thirst, someone breaks a nail or gets a cut, someone gets car sick, there's no change in one's wallet for a parking meter... the list goes on and on.

Having a couple of sweater-sized plastic containers in the back or truck of the car, filled with useful everyday emergency items, can often stave off otherwise uncomfortable situations.

Of course, everyone needs to carry the basic auto items (oil, flares, jumper cables,etc), but these emergency boxes will be for helping with those smaller daily annoyances.

Look over the lists below and decide which items relate to the commute, family or daily situations encountered. If there is no baby in the family, for instance, it's doubtful diapers will come in handy. Each car owner can pick and choose to build a personalized everyday emergency car kit

Items Many Everyday Emergency Car Kits Need for Personal Needs
  • Small plastic or paper cups
  • Emergency long-storing packets of water (available at a survival or camping store)
  • Snacks that will not melt or be destroyed by heat or cold (camping or military food packets are a good idea)
  • Regular snacks and water bottles can also be used, if rotated (to stay fresh)
  • Gallon-sized seal-able plastic bags (for a million reasons)
  • Several quarters and dimes (for parking meters, phones, vending machines, etc.)
  • A small pack of tissues
  • A half-roll of toilet paper
  • An overnight kit (toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair gel, disposable razor, soap, comb, shampoo, etc)
  • One pair each of spare socks and underclothing for each family member.
  • Flashlights and fresh batteries or a wind-up or shaking-powered flashlight
  • A good quality pocket knife
  • A nail file
  • A pack of baby wipes (for spills on clothing, in the car, sticky hands, etc)
  • Sanitizing gel
Extra Car Items for Bored Kids and Adults
  • A pad of paper and pencils
  • A crossword or puzzle book
  • A couple very small but engaging toys
  • Hard candy
  • Dry sugared drink mix
First Aid Supplies to Keep in the Car
  • A basic first aid kit for minor cuts, etc.
  • An instant-cold first-aid packet (available at a pharmacy) for a twisted ankle or such
  • Pain relievers
  • Spares of prescription or often-used over-the-counter medications (like allergy pills)
Odd Emergency Supplies in Case of being Stuck or Lost in the Auto
  • Emergency heat-preserving silver blankets (comes in a small pack at a camping store)
  • Duct tape
  • A mirror (for signaling for help, shaving or fixing lipstick)
  • Matches and flint
  • Instant hand-warming packets (comes in a small pack at a camping store)
  • Flashing emergency light
  • A small crack-operated radio
  • Rope (it really comes in handy lots of times)
For Women and Teen Girls to Keep in the Car
  • Spare makeup
  • Feminine needs
  • Spare pantyhose
Car Supplies Especially for Babies and Infants
  • Formula mix and/or baby food
  • Diapers and Wipes
  • Extra outfits, socks, and jammies (for messes and late nights at Grandma's)
All these things should be compact and organized into the two boxes. Much more than that will take up a lot of car space. The plastic boxes will keep items fresh, clean and dry. If there is room, a couple thin backpacks are also nice to carry in case one has to walk for help.
Whether commuting day to day or traveling with kids, it's nice to be prepared when life's little emergencies pop up. Making simple and easy emergency kit for each car, truck or other auto is a good idea.