Why Balancing Your Wheels Is Important

While the wheels on your car are quite precisely engineered when they are made at the factory, there’s no such thing as perfection. The wheels may not be “perfectly” round in every way, and the quantity of the alloy used in the construction may not be uniform across every surface. What can be done about this in order to ensure that you get a smooth ride?

The Effect of Daily Driving

Not only are wheels essentially imperfect when they leave the point of manufacture, but they can also pick up additional imperfections through use. In other words, when you drive down the road every day and hit a pothole or glance a curb at the side of the street, tiny imperfections can develop, and these imperfections then throw this wheel out of balance.

Driving Forces That Affect Your Wheels

Why are these imperfections so important, and why is it crucial to have a “balanced” wheel on your vehicle?

Your wheel and tyre will rotate at high speeds and under pressure. This assembly will encounter a myriad of different challenges as you drive on a variety of uneven surfaces, take corners at speed and go uphill and downhill. If things aren’t balanced correctly, it can cause a rough ride and in some cases extreme vibration through your steering wheel.

This is why you need to get your wheels balanced whenever you fit new tyres as well as periodically get them checked to see whether any adjustments are needed.

Consequences of Inaction

Whenever a wheel is not perfectly balanced, that imperfection can be magnified many times due to an increase in centrifugal force at speed. This will mean that the wheel will not spin perfectly around its axis and will usually cause a lot of wear on the tyres.

The Balancing Process

A wheel and tyre combination is balanced by putting it onto a special machine at your fitter’s shop. While it is possible to do this job manually, the machine is a lot more precise.

Firstly, the wheel is placed over a central spindle, and a special cone is added to make sure that it’s centred perfectly. Then, the machine will turn the spindle (and tyre/wheel) at very high speed to find out whether there are any imperfections. This will be indicated on the dashboard and will direct the mechanic where to place balancing weights in order to compensate. Usually, this is directly opposite where the imperfection is located.

The Importance of Regular Checks 

It’s important to remember that the wheel is being balanced with the tyre attached. The tyre does, of course, degrade over time, and as a consequence this will affect how the wheels perform in terms of balancing. This is why it’s important to get your wheels balanced whenever you have a mechanic rotate your tyres or put on new ones.

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How Does Car Manufacturer Involvement in Rallying Help Me with My Road Car?

A number of major manufacturers invest considerable sums of money each year in a world rallying program. From the outside, a casual observer would question the millions of dollars spent to pursue this pastime, but the manufacturer has very real reasons for this involvement. How does this benefit you when you buy a ‘normal’ car from one of these manufacturers?

Involvement for a Reason

The model of car that you drive today owes a lot to motor sporting heritage and technology. Many of the components that are either taken for granted, or are now helping to revolutionise the driving experience, originated on the testbed of world rallying at one point: a tough development program as the world rallying scene pits drivers and cars against the toughest driving conditions around the globe.

Lighter and Cheaper

For example, you will notice that carbon fibre has been used to construct your car. It’s extremely strong and has the benefit of being lightweight. It used to be quite expensive and complex to work with, but now it can be used to great benefit in terms of strengthening your vehicle and making it cheaper to run. This originated in the cauldron of motorsport. Ford parts are just an example of such innovations.

Energy Conversion

Your vehicle will also likely benefit from systems developed to harvest energy. These systems allow the rally car to enjoy boosted power settings for competition, but commercially these systems are used to reduce fuel consumption by harvesting wasted energy from braking in road cars.

Everything to Hand

Have you noticed that there are a number of control switches on your steering wheel? This is also something that was developed in the world of competition, where the driver needed instant access to various components. Today, you don’t have to take your hands off the wheel in order to access the controls for all the major functions and this is thanks to development in the world of motorsport.

Safety First

Perhaps one of the greatest developments to transfer from the rally stage to your production vehicle is in the realm of traction control. Complex electronic systems were developed on the rally stage for the last couple of decades. The versions on your car of today allow the central computer to determine when you are losing grip on a slippery road and reallocate the power to the other wheels in order to maintain as much traction and control as possible. While this would help to score special stage wins on the rally track, it’ll also keep you safe on the road today.

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Automotive 101 | Tips on What to Do With Your Old Car

Your road unworthy car is not completely useless since you can earn some few coins from it. Instead of letting the old car lie around in your compound, probably eating up the parking space of your estate and posing as a safety hazard, here are some few things you can do with it.

Call in a wrecking yard

One of the one of best things you can do is selling it to a wrecking yard. These are companies that buy old cars and sorely run scrap yards. When you sell them your unwanted car, they wreck it, resell the parts that still have value and recycle the scrap metal.

The good thing about selling the old junk to a wrecking yard is that you will not have to worry about transport since the yard will take care of this. But first, remove all your possessions from the car before letting them tow it away. Remember to take your registration papers with you and leave them a copy. This is because you will need to sign a declaration form to change your car’s ownership. Additionally, ensure you retain the plate number as you don’t want it falling into the wrong hands.

Sell the vehicle or its parts

Selling your vehicle is a good way to gain value. However, if you want to gain maximum returns, organise yourself well and plan before time. Collect all documents such as manuals, titles, bills of sale, warranties and service records. Buyers might need to take advantage of warranties and having these documents will speak well for you.

Service the vehicle and make it look as new as possible to give it an appealing look. Dust and thoroughly clean the interior and exterior of the car. Remember to fix the things that will increase your car’s value and appearance such as scratches and dents by making low costs repairs yourself.  Alternatively, you could also sell your car in parts. That may give you a lot more returns if the interior components are functioning well.

Donate it to charity

Contrary to common practice, you can donate your car to charity. Simply call in a charity organisation that accepts old cars and have them tow away the old junk from your compound. They can then sell it at a profit and use the money to fund their charity projects. If you want to benefit financially, ensure you itemize your returns, which you will use to claim fair market value for your donation.

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Three Potential Risks of Towing Your Own Heavy Equipment

If you need to move a heavy piece of equipment, you may be able to tow it to its new location. However, there are some risks of towing, and to avoid those risks, you may want to turn to a heavy machinery transport company and let them move your equipment. Here are a few of the top reasons you don’t want to tow your heavy machinery yourself.

1. Potential damage to your towing vehicle

Unless you have a vehicle designed with the strength to tow a piece of heavy machinery, you risk damaging the vehicle you are using to do the towing. Overloading a vehicle by attaching a heavy load to the back of it can cause a lot of issues ranging from breaking your suspension to overheating your transmission and blowing out your tyres. In most cases, the risk outweighs the potential reward, and you should protect your vehicles by never towing anything they aren’t designed to handle.

2.  Risk of damage to the vehicle being towed

Unfortunately, even if you do have the right type of vehicle for towing, you still risk damaging the heavy equipment you are towing. This is especially true if you don’t have a lot of experience with towing. In particular, if you are towing a piece of heavy equipment and its brakes are not connected correctly, it may not stop when you stop the lead vehicle. As a result, it may hit the lead vehicle, damaging both vehicles.

Additionally, the equipment being towed could be damaged if you took a corner too tightly or misjudged the length of the towing vehicle and the heavy equipment and hit something. Finally, attaching the tow hook to the heavy equipment could damage its body or the undercarriage if connected incorrectly.

3. Unnecessary tyre wear and tear

When you tow heavy equipment rather than having a heavy equipment transporter put it on a trailer, you expose the tyres to unnecessary wear and tear. The treads on the tracks or tyres of most heavy equipment are integral to their safety—they help to give these vehicles a lot of traction in rugged environments such as construction and mining sites. If you want to preserve the tyres or tracks on your equipment, you may want to transport it on a trailer rather than by towing.

To learn more about the potential risks of towing your heavy equipment or to talk about the advantages of transporting heavy equipment on a trailer, contact a heavy equipment transporter.

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Check These Five Things Before Taking Your 4WD Through the Desert

If you’re planning to take your 4WD off-roading through a desert, you should schedule some maintenance before you start your journey. Wondering what you should get serviced? While a basic tune up can work, these are the things you should have the tech look at in particular:

1. Cooling System

Your cooling system is going to go through a lot in the desert, and to ensure it’s up to the task, have a 4WD expert look it over. Your gauges should be functioning correctly, your radiator and fan clutch should be doing their jobs, and all your fluids should be topped off. If you see any fluid under your vehicle in the days or weeks leading up to your desert drive, check it for sweetness. If it’s sweet, it’s probably coolant, and that needs to be addressed so your engine doesn’t overheat.

2. Air Filters

The soft sand of the desert is everywhere, especially when it’s dry and dusty. As a result, your vehicle may end up filtering a lot of sand. So that nothing gets clogged, you want to ensure your air filter is clean, new and ready to tackle sand.

3. Battery

Make sure your battery is nice and strong. The heat of the desert can take an extra toll on your battery, and if it stops working in a remote location, you may have a hard time finding someone to help. Replace your battery if it’s knackered, and remember to bring lots of water and survival gear just in case anything goes wrong.

4. Tyre Pressure

In addition to checking your tyres for roadworthiness, your 4WD drive mechanic should also show you how to measure and lower the pressure of your tyres. When driving across sand, it can be helpful to have lower tyre pressure than normal. It spreads out the weight of the vehicle and prevents the tyres from digging into the sand too much. Ask the 4WD repair person which battery-powered pump they recommend. So that you can easily re-inflate your tyres after deflating them, you need a pump, and a hand pump may not be strong enough. Also, buy an extra full-size tyre in case of a flat.

5. Oil

Finally, have the 4WD drive repair shop check all the levels of oil in your vehicle. You need ample oil so that your engine is lubricated and ready to plow through sandy areas. If you have any leaks that you cannot afford to address, make sure to stock up on whatever oils you need so that you can refill on the road.


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3 great tips to follow when buying a caravan

Nothing beats the fun of camping with friends and family. So if you intend to have a good time outdoors with the comfort of a modern living space, you should definitely get yourself a caravan. However, acquiring a good one is not that easy. Below are some great ways to help you get the best value for your money.

Attend multiple caravan sales

Normally, people just look at one or two caravan sales and leave it at that. An excellent way to find a good caravan is by participating in many caravan sales, so do not stop at one. To find the latest sales, look out for any available advertisements online or from your local caravan dealers. The good thing about such events is that there will be a pool of sellers. This not only gives you a wide array of design options, but it also increases your chances of acquiring one at a throw away price.

Attending more than just one sale will also enable you to carry out a more practical and extensive research on caravan options and make a better comparison of the different prices out there. Moreover, being face to face with sellers will also make bargaining easier and enable you to score a much lower price. Additionally, all dealers at caravan sales should be licensed, thus assuring you of a legitimate transaction. Remember, the more the sales you attend, the more interactions with experts you shall have, thus the more refined caravan advice you’ll receive.

Go for pop tops

When looking for a caravan, go for pop tops. These are low-profile small- or medium-sized caravans that can easily fit in the average garage or backyard. They are characterised by an innovative fold-down roof section that offers great shading for relaxation. As a plus, they are fairly affordable. In addition, they are also lighter and require less towing force. This in turn enables you to save on fuel costs for transportation.

Buy based on tow vehicle

You need to purchase your caravan based on the size of the vehicle you’ll use to tow it. A large caravan would look better on an equally large vehicle than on a small one. On the other hand, a very small caravan would look awkward at the back of a huge vehicle. Furthermore, it would be difficult to tow a big heavy caravan using a small vehicle. So, remember to check the tow capacity of your vehicle so as to avoid stressing it.


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How To Tell If A Caliper Is The Culprit Of A Faulty Brake System

The brake system is made up of various parts including the brake caliper. Calipers are devices that push the brake pads against the rotor so that the wheels can slow down. You can easily spot the caliper housing around the wheel section because it appears like a disc attached to the rotor (the round metal that rotates to turn the wheel). When the calipers malfunction, they can bring the whole brake system down. So how can you tell that the calipers are the culprits of a faulty brake system?

Signs Of A Faulty Caliper

One sign that the calipers are the reason behind your poor braking system is the production of abnormal sounds around the wheels when you are pressing the brake pedal. Calipers tend to generate thud sounds and high-pitched noises when they stick or loosen. If the calipers stick to the brake pads, you may also be able to observe premature wear on the brake pads. Another sign that the calipers are faulty is manifested by the tendency of the vehicle to pull to the right or left. When you press the brake pedal, heat is generated by friction mechanism and this heat may cause the caliper piston to seize. The effects of a piston seize is a drag on the wheels, which will begin to pull to the side

The manner in which you step on the brake pedal may also hint about a defective brake caliper. If the braking feels spongy or soft, or if the pedal goes all the way to the floor easily when you step on it, it could be an indication of a faulty brake caliper.

Checking the caliper itself is also a way of telling if the caliper is defective. As you are applying the brakes, have someone else observe the motion of the caliper. If the caliper isn’t moving when you are applying the brakes, look at the brake pads. If the pads are moving, it means that the caliper is not floating properly.

What You Can Do About The Defective Caliper

If the calipers are completely damaged or worn out, the best option is to have a car mechanic replace them. A mechanic can either lubricate the caliper sliding pins if sticking is the problem or the mechanic can replace the caliper if it is broken or heavily damaged.  Do not ignore the signs of a faulty caliper as the brake system is one part of a car that can be life threatening if it is not attended to. 

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Car Rentals: 3 Things You Overlook that Could Save You Lots of Money

Getting a rental car can be the most convenient solution when going to a new place for a short while, since it gives you the convenience of dictating your own schedule and routes. However, many people still don’t know how to go about the entire process, including valuable tips that could help them make significant savings off their car rentals, and so they end up making these costly mistakes.

Buying insurance when you don’t need to

Car rentals typically offer insurance to cover you during your trip. Even though it’s a good idea, sometimes you may not need the insurance they offer. Check with your auto-insurer first; if you have comprehensive coverage, the policy considers rentals a replacement car (because your own is unavailable). This applies even if the rental car isn’t the same model as your own, so you don’t have to worry about getting a car that’s exactly like the one you own. However, claiming insurance on a rental car after an incident may increase your premiums.

If you don’t have comprehensive cover, the next place to check is with your credit card company (of course, it has to be the card with which you’re paying for the rental). Some credit card companies provide insurance that’s just as good as the insurance policy you’re paying for, but then you wouldn’t have to incur the additional cost of paying a premium. Before taking up the insurance offered, check with your auto insurer and the credit companies of the cards you own to see if you’re already protected.

Not taking the inspection seriously

This applies to inspection prior to and following departure. It’s important to have a camera with you, as well as a member of staff from the rental company to inspect the vehicle with you at both times. Give it a thorough going over inside and out, looking out for scuffs, scratches, loose parts, mirrors and operation of power windows among others. Don’t just walk around the car perfunctorily. Take lots of pictures or even a video in the presence of the staffer, so that you have them as evidence when you return the car.

This also applies to your final inspection. Do not just return the car and leave without having an agent inspect to ensure everything is in place. If you do this and there’s a dispute over damages (these will come later on), it will be your word against the company since you cannot prove that you returned the car in the condition you took it in. Always ensure that an agent signs off on the condition of the car before you leave. Again, take pictures or a video in their presence.

Paying for fuel in advance

Paying the rental company to fuel the car for you can increase your convenience, but it can also shave a lot off your pocket. Even though most car rentals have metres that charge only for the fuel you use, they’ll also charge extra to cover the cost of the service. There are fuel stations virtually everywhere; bear the inconvenience of fuelling the car yourself, which allows you fill up only as much as you will use. You can also shop around cheaper fuel stations, or take advantage of coupons and deals, e.g. those offered by credit card companies. Unless you’re on a strict timeline or headed for the middle of nowhere, prepaying for fuel is a cost you can avoid.

For more information, talk to a professional like 1300 Meteor Rentals.

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Understanding What You See On Your Old Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are one of the important parts of your car’s engine. They are used to initiate the combustion of the fuel in the engine to convert chemical energy into mechanical energy that enables your car to move. This means that spark plugs are exposed to lot of engine heat and they are bound to wear out with time. Since spark plugs wear out and require replacement, it is important for you to check their condition regularly so that you can replace them in good time. In most vehicles, the spark plugs are located on the side or top of the engine in a row. Using a spark plug wrench, you should remove each spark, check it and screw it back into position. When checking the condition of your spark plugs, here are some of the things that you might find:

Spark Plug in Good Condition

If a spark plug is in good condition, they will have a grey or brownish shade on the electrode. The electrode is a small projection on the other end of the spark plug that is immersed in the engine. In such a case, you wipe the spark plug with a clean, dry cloth and put it back into position.

Spark Plugs Fouled in Oil

Sometimes, the engine oil can leak and find its way to the spark plugs. In such a case, you will find black deposits on different sections of the parts that are capped into the engine. The oil deposits may be wet. This is an indication of a leakage from loose or worn out valves and pistons in the engine. In such a case, you should clean the by scraping off the tough deposits with stiff wire brush or knife. Do not use abrasives. After cleaning, put the spark plug back into position and replace them as soon as possible. Lastly, you need to have the source of the leak checked and rectified.

Burned Spark Plug

If the spark plug is burned, you will find blisters on the tip of the side immersed in the engine. This is a sign that your engine is overheating or the fuel you have been using is too lean therefore causing too much combustion. It may also be an indication that you have the wrong spark plug and it doesn’t fit well. After inspection, put the spark plug back into position and replace them as soon as possible.

You can find different things on each spark plug. Some may be fine while others have complications. For optimal engine performance, you should replace all your spark plugs should you find a problem on any of them. For more information, contact a company that carries automotive parts like Subaru parts

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The Difference between Genuine, OEM and Replacement Parts

4X4 car drivers are known to take pride in their vehicles, having opted for more power and often sacrificing speed or (depending on the make) aesthetic appeal. Getting 4X4 parts can be a headache though, especially without knowing the basic distinctions between genuine, OEM and replacement parts.

Genuine Parts

Car manufacturers supply these parts and in most cases they have the company logo and/or marking to show this. Land Rover, for instance, has parts with company brand marks. For certain clients, this is important and a sign of trust which translates to a purchase.

OEM Parts

The acronym stands for ‘original equipment manufacturer’. Such manufacturers usually have an arrangement or agreement with the vehicle maker. They brand their own products even though they are bought and fitted by vehicle makers just like many other parts found in the vehicle. These parts are available separate from the automotive company in spite of their being in many ways identical to the original parts.

Replacement Parts

These are also called aftermarket parts. They are made by many different manufacturers as alternatives that cost less than the original parts. It has been discovered however, that the quality is inconsistent and dubious. Having said so, it is important to note that there are cases in which some replacement parts are even better than the original and those from more reputable firms.

When sourcing for parts for consumers most companies make the following considerations:

  • Are there genuine/OEM parts especially older ones for older vehicles?
  • What do the genuine/OEM parts cost? Finding new and genuine parts for some vehicles may be impossible and therefore going for a replacement part is the better option.
  • What is the part’s purpose? Parts to be used for competing or transit of heavy goods are definitely available but at a higher cost. It is still better to focus on quality than price because of safety concerns.
  • Value? Companies monitor the different parts being added to their stock and reject items that do not meet their quality standards.

These companies rely on vehicle manufacturers, other parts manufacturing companies and auction sites or even wrecking sites where 4×4 auto parts are by the plenty. This is the reason if a part cannot be found in the shop you enter, then other links are followed until that part is available for the client to use.

For more information on 4×4 parts, talk to a professional.

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About Me

Welcome to my blog. My name is Gary, and my favourite possession is my vintage car. I spent over a decade replacing parts and getting my car into pristine condition, and now, I thoroughly enjoy taking my car to shows and participating in a car club. In this blog, I am going to include a range of posts on vintage cars as well as other automotive topics. I love to write, and I am excited about creating this blog. I have a wife, three kids at uni, and a dog. Besides cars, my main hobbies are gardening and reading. Thanks for reading, and if you like my posts, share them!

January 2017
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