Why do Gas Prices Go Down in the Winter?


Gas prices always seem to be lower in the winter than in the summer.  All the things that make gas prices rise and fall can be pretty convoluted, and a lot of factors play into seasonal price differences.  There’s higher demand in the summer, with people going on vacations, and generally getting out more and doing more driving.  The biggest factor that makes gas cost more in the summer is that the gasoline is actually different. (more…)

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The True Story of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Remember Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the kids’ musical about the flying car?  Did you know it was based on a real car?  The real one couldn’t fly (at least not in the literal sense), but it did have one thing in common with an airplane: the engine.

In the early days of motoring, there really was no replacement for displacement.  Engineers hadn’t yet figured out how to make reliable engines that ran over 3000 RPM.  The only way to squeeze more horsepower out of an engine was to increase the volume.

Many very large engined cars were designed for racing and to test land speed records in the early 20th century.  Arguably the original was the famed Blitzen Benz, whose 21.5 liter engine could output 200 horsepower at 1,500 RPM.  Not wanting to be outdone, Fiat constructed the Tipo S67, using a 28.5 liter, four cylinder airship engine.  The S67 could output 300 hp at 1,900 RPM.  (more…)

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Nine Cars That Never Existed, Even if You Thought They Did

Have you ever seen a 1996 Jeep Wrangler?  How about a 2001 Cadillac Escalade?  If you’re about to say yes, hold on and think again.  A number of models through automotive history have skipped model years.

Even though your car may have been manufactured or sold in that year doesn’t mean that’s what year it is.  If that sounds confusing, it’s because model years are confusing.  Though a car might be, for example, a 2015, doesn’t mean it was actually built in 2015.  Car companies want to have the car already at dealerships by the start of the year.  So, in most cases, the new model year is released in the last quarter of the previous calendar year.  A 2015 might be introduced in October 2014, say.

That’s not a hard and fast rule, though.  Automakers can release a new model year as early as January 2 of the previous calendar year.  That is to say, a 2015 car can be sold as early as January 2, 2014.  Sometimes car companies will make a new generation of a car an early release.  In other cases they might extend the sales of one model year into the next calendar year if the new generation is not yet ready.  That is how most skipped model years happened.  Here’s a quick chronological list (more…)

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Should I Get Snow Tires?


Winter tires, or snow tires, as some people call them, can be a big benefit in winter driving.  They give your wheels a better grip on the road, which means you’ll have better traction, handling and braking.

There are two main differences between winter tires and your standard, all-weather tires.  First, winter tires are made of a more pliable form of rubber than all-seasons.  Rubber tends to get stiff when it’s cold.  A stiff tire won’t flex to conform to the road.  That means your tire has less contact with the road when it’s cold.  Pliable snow tires do better meeting their surface against the road.

The other major difference is that snow tires have something called sipes.  If you look at a snow tire up close, you’ll notice that in addition to the treads there are tiny little inlets (much thinner than the tread grooves).  These are the sipes.  The sipes (more…)

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5 Scary Signs of Failing Shocks


You’re driving down a back country road at night. Over the howls of the wind, you can hear a rattle and clunking. Is your car haunted or do you just need to fix your suspension? Here are 5 signs that your shocks or struts might be ready to pass on to the great beyond:

1. A Sinking Feeling

Worn springs can lead to decreased ride height. Check your ride height and then compare it to specifications for your model. If you’re riding too low, it’s time to replace your shocks and springs. You might also notice that your car bottoms out on rough roads, speed bumps, or when you’re coming into or out of your driveway.

2. It’s Alive!

You might notice that your ride is livelier that you’d like it to be. (more…)

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What Does The Sleeve On The Lower Brake Caliper Bolt Actually Do?


If you have ever had the pleasure of doing a brake job on a rusty car before, you have likely encountered the engineering nightmare that is known as a “lower brake caliper slide bolt.” Now… if you have erased this hardware-laden memory from your brain, or aren’t familiar with this style of bolt, I’ll do my best to help out. This is the type of bolt that doesn’t want to come out of its hole because rust has essentially fused it with the brake caliper bracket. It’s the bolt that gives you a few hope-filled turns with a pipe-extended, half inch drive ratchet and then crushes your dreams when it becomes stuck solid for absolutely no logical reason. It’s the threaded evil that requires a chisel and sledgehammer to remove when the ratchet fails to do it’s-one-job. Yep. That’s the bolt we’re talking about here today.

If you have ever successfully removed this bolt (which not many have in the North East), you know that it has a rather cute little rubbery sleeve on the end of it as if to mock each one of your herculean removal efforts. The upper caliper bolt does not have this cute rubber sleeve, so why in the world did the car manufacturer put one on the bottom caliper bolt? The truth is, I don’t have an answer for that. However, I have spent quite a few late night hours in search of the truth, and I’m now here to share with you the one theory that makes the most sense to me.

These cute little rubber caliper bolt “sleeves” (that’s the most common name for these) are anti-rattle devices for the calipers.  The sleeve provides additional friction, which prevents the brake caliper from rattling/chattering within the confines of the caliper bracket. It works similarly to a shock absorber, where it slows down and dampens the movements of the calipers. As long as the whole system stays rust free and lubricated, it’s truly a simple and effective system. However, when that rubbery sleeve prevents the caliper bolt from sliding, or rust begins pulling the vehicle back into the earth, all bets are off.

So does this theory make sense? Do you have a better explanation of what the rubber caliper bolt sleeve actually does? Tells us in the comment box below.

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Austin Dillon Sets The #3 On The Pole For Daytona 500!

When the command is given to “Fire Em Up” during this years 56th annual Daytona 500; Austin Dillon will be behind the wheel of a number that his grandfather ran, but was also made famous by Dale Earnhardt. It’s a number that since Dale’s death had unofficially been retired until the right driver came along to carry on the legacy of the #3.

As the grandson of Richard Childress,  the time seemed right to  bring the number back to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and to place Austin behind the wheel. With a blessing from Dale Jr. and his sister Kelly, Austin had received a green light to run the number for the first time in over twelve years.

Someone may have been smiling down from the heavens, because during the time trials on Sunday, Austin Dillon went around Daytona International Speedway at a speed of 196.019 MPH which was landed the Dow sponsored Chevrolet smack dab on the Pole for Sunday’s race.

At the drop of the green flag on Sunday, there will certainly be cheers and tears from many race fans as they watch the number 3 lead the pack across the start/finish line for the “Great American Race”.

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