Friday, August 27, 2010

To Hybrid or Not

If you're like me and you find yourself recycling, composting, buying green products and figuring out ways to use our energy more wisely, then you've probably thought about a hybrid vehicle. While more and more manufacturers are making hybrid vehicles....unfortunately it's going to be a while before they replace our gas driven motors. I guess the question is, are the hybrids that are available now really saving us money and the environment....or not.

Brandy Schaffels, a contributing writer for Ask Patty wrote this article to answer some of your questions.

What you always wanted to know about hybrid vehicles

This article on How Stuff Works talks about 5 reasons not to buy hybrid.

I like to weigh my options. While I'd like to 'Go Green', it comes with a cost. Sometimes it's more than what you can afford. I would say that if you are contemplating buying a hybrid your research. Make sure you weigh cost, economy, practicability and even how driving where you live will play into it. It's a tough decision...trying to decide what is the right thing for you and the environment. That's when I get on my motorcycle and ride.  Good luck!

Radical Wrencher

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is That Smoke coming Out of My Tailpipe?

In the perfect world, water vapor would be the only thing we see coming out of our tailpipes....but, we're not quite there yet. So what does that smoke mean?

Obviously when it's cold out and you start the vehicle you'll see smoke. This should go away after the vehicle warms up.If you're finding that this smoke continues, then it's time to get it checked out. There are some general reasons why you may have smoke, and the color can help you diagnose your problem.

Here's a pretty good description of some common issues from RepairPal. I also talk about it a little in my video of what to look for when buying a used vehicle.

As always, I recommend that you have a technician properly diagnose your problem. These tips of what to look for will give you an idea of what could be wrong and help steer you in the right direction....and you'll feel like you know a little bit more of what could be wrong. Empower yourself with knowledge and you'll feel more confident when it comes to talking to your service personnel.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Taking Care of Your Battery

Remember the days when you had to add water to your battery? And not just any water, but distilled. Now our batteries are "maintenance free".....well, for the most part. They still require a little tender love and care if you want to get the maximum life out of them however.

When was the last time you opened up your hood and took a look at your battery? Okay, it may not always be under your hood, check your owner's manual to see if it might be in the trunk or under a seat. Most likely if it's under the hood it's going to get dirtier and should be checked.

What are you looking for? White powder that's caked up around the terminals. It's fairly easy to clean this off by using a simple household product of baking soda and water. All you need is an old toothbrush and a 50/50 mix of the water and baking soda.

Better yet, watch my quick tip video on how to do this yourself. It's easy and a great way to save you money.
Remember, to disconnect the battery you want the key to be off, remove the negative side first and then the positive. When you re-attach the cables you do the opposite, positive first and then the negative.

Battery Cleaning Video

As I always say, don't be afraid to get your hands's a great way to learn.

Radical Wrencher

Thursday, August 5, 2010

How Old is Your Truck?

I often get asked how old my truck is. Even though it looks nice on the outside, one look inside the cab with it's crank down windows, sliding levers for the heat and vents and few gizmos on the dash makes people wonder. For the record, I drive a 1988 Toyota 4WD truck. It doesn't even have a name really...but it later became the Tacoma.

It now boasts 295,000 miles. Unfortunately a burned valve forced me to replace the engine at 292,000, but I'm not complaining. I remember when I was going back and forth about getting a newer vehicle or replacing the engine. Well, for $3000 a 3yr/100,000 mile warranty, the new engine won hands down. I have loved this truck since I bought it new in '88'. I installed my own A/C, which still works, have had multiple radios..currently Sirius, and even replaced the bench seat for buckets.

Once people find out how old it is they always say "Well, you're a technician so you take care of it". I never really understood this. While it's true, I've done all my own's all about maintaining your vehicle. I haven't done anything special, I just take care of it and fix the things that need to be done. I think the most important thing I did was change the oil every 3000 miles without fail.

I grew up watching my father wash and wax his vehicles so they always looked like new. I understood that if you took care of them, they could last for a long time. That's all I've done. I guess what I'm trying to say is that anyone can keep a vehicle for a long time if they just properly maintain it.

What do I mean by this? Change your oil regularly at the scheduled times. Check your owner's manual if you're not sure when that is. Don't let those little noises become loud expensive fixes. If you decide to keep your vehicle for many years you need to understand that it will cost you money. I suggest that you take that car payment you no longer have and put it in a repair account. This way the money is already there when you need it.

You need to understand that vehicles break down when they get older. If you don't have the tolerance for this, then you should probably try to own a newer vehicle with less repair possibilities. It's true, it's easier for me because most of the time I can fix it myself, but most recently I've moved and currently I don't have access to a I have to pay like everyone else now.

Sure, there are times that I get frustrated with the nit picky things that go wrong, but my truck owes me nothing. I couldn't replace it for what it gives me, especially for what I'm paying. So think about what kind of person you are. Do you mind doing repairs more frequently to maintain an older vehicle, or is it easier to own something that always has a warranty?

I can't imagine not having my truck. I tell my friends that when it's time, I'll have it crushed. I really can't imagine anyone else driving her after 22 years. Oh and don't worry, that's not going to happen any time soon...she still gets me where I need to go and is worth every penny I paid for her!

Radical Wrencher