Part Comparison: Old Idler Arm vs. New MOOG.

Idler Arm Comparison.

Over the past 6 years, I have slowly but surely replaced the majority of the steering components on my truck. The latest part that I swapped out was the Idler Arm. Mine was totally smoked, and may have even been the original one that came with the truck 22 years ago. As you can see in the picture, there is nearly zero bushing left inside where it attaches to the bracket. I am sure that the fact that it was ungreasable lead to its demise, but it was the gigantic car launching pot hole near my house that really finished it off. Let’s hear more about it!

In the moment before I hit the unavoidable paved crevasse that was racing toward me, I began saying “oooooohh” very loudly and immediately clamped my jaw shut. I figured that if I did this, maybe I wouldn’t bite my tongue off when I rolled my truck deep into the nearby woods while on fire. I then double checked my seatbelt, and began mentally preparing for impact. The mating of my right front wheel with this hole in the road, was time bending. In reality, it may have lasted less than 1 awful millisecond, but it felt like an eternal sentence in Destructionville. Oh gosh the sound was atrocious. Imagine what it sounds like to crash a medieval castle into an equally large, yet fragile, glass tank full of anchors. That is close to the sound that my truck made when contact was made. Each and every part of my truck separated for a split second and then came crashing back together again. When my brain turned back on and all wheels were touching the ground again, I was miraculously still driving down the street. I pulled into my driveway, twitching just a little bit, and noticed a fantastic new clunk in my steering to track down. Alas, the idler arm had given up the ghost. Read More

Automotive Tips & Tricks: Suggestion #4

Tip #4

The Automotive lesson today is:

When you drop your cut off wheel on the ground, or step on it, the wheel is going to break and leave you standing there surprised…. again. No matter how many times you try, you can’t just fold it back and use the broken blade because you know it flies off dangerously every time.  Seriously? You gotta stop trying that.

Today’s Lesson: Decoding VIN Numbers

Einstein Vin #'s

VIN numbers allow ordinary people to be detectives, and who doesn’t want to solve a mystery?

FACT: In 1981, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration forced the standardization of VIN’s (Vehicle Identification Numbers) on all of the car manufacturers.  From that point forward, all VIN’s were a 17 digit code, each digit representing an important detail about that car.  LIES!! BLASPHEMY!!  Ok, fine…. 16 of them are important car details, blame Einstein for the seventeenth digit. We will cover that later….

FACT: I, O, and Q are letters that are not used in VIN’s because they could be confused with 1 & 0. Letters U & Z aren’t used for the 10th digit. Crazy, I know.

FACT: Albert Einstein never owned a car, so he likely knew nothing about VIN numbers or their meaning.  Does that make all of you guys smarter than Einstein? Yes, it absolutely does. Read More

MIG after the test. (FAIL!)

Experimenting: TIG Welding, Balloons, and Advice?

I have been MIG welding since I was about 15, which is darn close to half of my life.  I really wanted to step up my welding game,  and after saving forever, I finally bought myself a TIG welder about a year ago.  The welder came with a pressure regulator and after some trial and error, I decided that much like MIG welding 15-20 psi seems to work alright for most TIG welding situations.  I have since used up what seems like an EPIC amount of Argon & Argon/CO2 mix (compared to MIG welding).  I assumed that was normal…

So I’m talking to my friend the other day who is also new to TIG welding, and using what seems like an exorbitant amount of gas (sound familiar?).  He told me that his welding supply store just informed him that he was supposed to be using a FLOW meter not a PRESSURE meter.  Ooops.  They told him that once he swaps over from pressure regulated (only) to flow regulated, his gas tanks would last far longer. They even gave him a free tank filling.

I was confused by this because why would both of our TIG welders come with pressure regulators if we really needed flow meters?  Seems stupid right?  I decided that I needed to do a test.  I got my tank filled, because it was obviously empty again, grabbed some party balloons at the local pharmacy, and into the garage I went!

I began by attaching the balloon to the TIG torch with a zip tie.

TIG torch before the test.

Then I attached the Flow meter to my newly filled tank, and set it to flow 15 CFM with the TIG pedal fully pressed.

TIG flow meter

I then grabbed the stop watch and hammered the foot pedal to the floor for 5 seconds.  The welder was set to 3 seconds of post flow for the entire test as well for a total of 8 seconds of gas.

TIG torch 15 CFM for 5 Seconds.

Then I swapped balloons, zip tied it the same way, and hooked up the Pressure regulator to the same new tank. Read More

MAP Sensors: What They Are And What They Do.

Remember science class when the teacher shouted “Pay attention! You might need this someday!” ?  Well, as much as I don’t want to admit it, that teacher was right.  Lets touch upon the basics and see if it rings a bell?

The Basics:

  • First off – MAP is an acronym for Manifold Absolute Pressure.  MAP sensors measure the air pressure in your intake manifold which helps the engine’s computer determine air / fuel ratios.  MAP sensors are set to “zero” from the factory. So with the car off, and the key on, the MAP sensor will read “zero” at sea level.
  • On earth, we have 14.7 Pounds per Square Inch (PSI) on us at all times at sea level.
  • “Bar” is a measurement of pressure.  1 Bar = 1 atmospheric pressure, which is 14.7 PSI.
  • The absence of pressure is measured in “Inches Of Mercury” (in. hg). (Finally we get to use the periodic table of elements in real life!)
  • -1 Bar = -29.4 in. hg
  • 1 Bar = 29.4 in. hg
  • Naturally Aspirated = without a turbocharger or supercharger. Also known as “N/A”.
  • Forced Induction = with a turbo or supercharger
  • In forced induction applications “Boost” is automotive slang for PSI
  • Stoichiometric Air Fuel Ratio = The ratio of the exact amount of air it takes to burn a fuel completely.
  • Stoichiometric for Gasoline Engines = 14.7 : 1 (14.7 parts air to 1 part fuel).

Now some of that good stuff:

With a N/A engine running, the MAP sensor may see readings Read More

The 3000 Mile Oil Change: Why I Do It, and Why I Always Will.



Oil Antifreeze Milkshake
Oil Antifreeze Milkshake


Every few months, some article pops up on the internet talking about how people don’t need to change their oil at 3000 miles “anymore”. This article on Yahoo News is a great example of this, and it bothers me.  To save you some time, I’ll give you the cliff notes of the linked article.  They basically tell people that 73% of California drivers are changing their oil too often, and wasting their money (I’m still cringing).  Then the article goes on to say to look at your owners manual, and do oil changes at whatever mileage interval it says.  Seems like a good idea right?  Well, sure in a fantasy world, yes.  In the real world, no.  Also, how does the author of this article knows that people are changing their oil too often if he doesn’t know the oil change intervals of all of their vehicles. Seems odd to me, but I’ll move forward anyway.

About 9 years ago…. when I was a technician at a dealer, it was a frequent occurrence for customers to come in for an oil change with less than half of their recommended oil left in their car.  The majority of cars that I did oil changes to held 8 quarts of oil, and 3 quarts frequently came out at the manual-recommended oil change interval.  The manufacturer of this particular car claimed that it was “normal” for these types of engines to burn 1 quart of oil every 1000 miles.  Nice! So even if you did a 5000 mile oil change, you’d likely only have 3 quarts left.   Read More

The Best 6 Tips For Buying A Used Car

When buying a used vehicle, there are many things that you can do to prevent yourself from purchasing a lemon.  If you do the research, know all the tricks, and play the game properly, you will almost always come out on top. I have bought and sold 20+ of my own personal cars and helped friends and family buy and sell many others. I think I have it nailed down pretty well.  Today we are talking about buying cars, but these tips can be flipped around to help sell your vehicle if necessary.

1 – Know the vehicle:

More important than other any clever tip or trick that I can share, is to know the vehicle that you want to buy. Look around for a while and decide what that special year, make, and model is. Once you decide what you want, go out and test drive several of them to make sure you definitely enjoy driving it. There are plenty of people out there that have bought “the car of their dreams,” before realizing that it is not at all what they wanted. At this point they are stuck with their unwanted “dream car” because they can’t get back what they paid for it, and don’t want to lose money on it.

2 – Research:

Do some research online to find out all the common problems of that year, make, and model, along with its suggested maintenance intervals. All vehicles have their own common problems; no make or model is perfect. If you are looking at a vehicle that just happens to be a few miles shy of a major maintenance interval (timing belt, transmission service, brakes), be sure to Read More