6 Things Shady Mechanics Don’t Want You to Know

A trusted mechanic can be a great resource for car repairs. “Trusted” is the key word there. As with any business, there are some mechanics who will put a quick buck ahead of what’s best for you, the customer. We’ve pretty much all dealt with someone like that at some point. The best way to protect yourself is by educating yourself so you can make more of your own decisions. Here are some things you should know, even if your mechanic doesn’t want you to.

1. They Don’t Have Automotive ESP

Mechanics don’t have psychic powers that tell them what’s wrong with your car. You can apply some of the same skills the pros use to diagnose your own problems. A good mechanic knows plenty of tests to find out what went wrong with your car, and although you may not reach the level of expertise of a pro mechanic, you can definitely learn some basic tests.

First, if your check engine light comes on, a mechanic will use a device called an OBD scanner to check for trouble codes that will point out the problem. You don’t have to take your car to a shop to get it scanned, though. Many parts stores will rent you a scanner, or you can buy one, sometimes for as low as $20. If you have an older car with frequent problems, an OBD scanner can be a good investment.

You can also learn how to test parts for wear and tear yourself. You can easily visually inspect brakes for wear and you can test suspension parts like hubs and struts by hand.

In some cases, your shop is just trying to figure out your problem by educated trial and error. They may try one part see if it works, and move on from there. Of course, with a little know-how about your car’s various parts and symptoms, you could do your own process of trial and error much cheaper, as our DJ Butler describes. No, it’s not the ideal way to fix your car, but sometimes it’s your least worst option. Read More

7 New Year Resolutions for Your Car

Two mechanics working on car part

The new year brings a new opportunity for some lasting changes. While it’s always a good idea to work on ourselves, working on our cars can also set you up to have a great year.

When you work on your car, you not only save money, but you also gain experience, learn more about your car, create confidence to do other repairs, and feel accomplished. You’ll also learn how easy some repairs are and wonder why you never tried them before.

Tackle basic repairs

There are plenty of easy repairs you can do that only take minutes. Changing windshield wiper blades, filters, spark plugs, and on some cars the headlights and tail lights, are so easy you’ll wonder why you ever paid to have them done for you to begin with.

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Do I Really Need to Warm Up My Car?

rear view mirror covered in snow

If you live in a cold climate, you’ve probably heard how essential it is to let your engine warm up before driving.  You might even be in the habit yourself.  But is it really necessary?

It turns out that there’s a lot of debate on that subject. Some say letting the engine warm up will make it run better and will reduce engine wear. Others say that leaving the car idling in the driveway wastes gas and is bad for the environment. Of course, some people just don’t like to sit in a cold car.

The Case Against Warming Up Your Car

The Environmental Protection Agency does not want you idling your car much.  Their primary concern is the carbon dioxide and other exhaust gasses that the car gives off while idling.  The engine is also at its least efficient when it’s idling.  It’s using gas without going anywhere, so, as Chris M0oney at the Washington Post points out, you’re getting 0 miles per gallon.  The engine also tends to run richer, using more gas, when it’s cold.  Over time that puts a hit on your wallet.  The rich running can also put more strain on your catalytic converter, which might mean you have to replace it sooner.

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Tips You Should Know About Strapping a Christmas Tree to Your Car

Blue van with christmas tree tied to hood
Ole Betsy, the family van doin’ what she does best

Growing up, once a year we’d collectively jump in the van to go pick out the family tree. This was an important decision. You had to pick one that wasn’t too plump and wasn’t too bare, and also one that was tall enough to fit the tree-topper on without scraping our 9 foot ceiling. It couldn’t be too short either, because we had lots of garland and ornaments to put on, and if it was too small our dog would steal the softer, lower hanging fruit and bury them off somewhere.

Usually we’d just drive down to the local flower shop and peruse the trees, debating over minor issues like our perceived height of it and its plumpness. We kept doing this until we grew tired and finally agreed on one that was “good enough”.

Thankfully, we’ve never had a mishap. Our van, Betsy, is at almost 200,000 miles and she’s still going strong. She’s never left a tree stranded on the road, and honestly, that’s how it should be.

Tie It with Sturdy Material

For everyone’s safety on the road, you can face serious fines for having an unsecured tree or one that obstructs your vision.

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Gifts for Mechanics, Classic Car Lovers, & Your Favorite Car Guy

Holiday gift guide: Gifts for every car enthusiast on your list!

Do you have someone on your Christmas list who’s crazy about cars? A Dad who’s into classics, an uncle who’s an off-roader, a brother who’s a wannabe racer, or even a kid who likes to crash his Matchbox cars? We have gift ideas for every car lover this holiday season.

Some of the gifts included in this list can be purchased from 1A Auto. However, there are many included that you can buy from another online retailer, such as Amazon or Gamestop.

Gifts for Classic Car Lovers

People who collect classic cars get really attached to them, and why not? Those designs were timeless and bring back a lot of memories. If you know a car enthusiast with a cool classic, why not help them keep it in tip top shape with a new car cover? A car cover can protect the exterior of the car, and a new set of floor mats can help protect the interior.

Some classics are meant to be kept pristine; others beg to be remade in the owner’s image. A custom shift knob is a fun way to spice up the interior of any classic or hot-rod. Skulls are always in fashion, but there’s lots of other options.

Or maybe your mechanic uncle talks wistfully about the one that got away. My Dad had a ’67 Riviera and ’64 Impala back in the day. I have to say, I’m pretty jealous. Since American muscle is a little bit outside my budget, the old man might have to settle for reminiscing vicariously. My Dad Had that Car is a book of photos brochures, and other pieces of automotive history.

Unique Gifts for Car Racers

If you know someone who wishes they were a racing driver, you’ll want to give them some safe ways to indulge their need for speed. There are a lot of great racing games out now, from Gran Turismo Sport, to Forza Horizon 3, to, yes, a new Need for Speed game, Need for Speed: Payback.

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Winter Maintenance Checklist – Is Your Car Prepared for Snow?

Living in a cold weather state means there’s plenty of snow coming your way in the next few months. So what better time to prepare for it than now? Here’s a list of the most crucial parts to check to ensure your car is ready for the winter. Most are quick and easy and shouldn’t take much time.

Examine windshield wiper blades

Wiper blades can become worn from usage. Look at the blades for wear and tear and possible splits on the blade. They’re affordable and you can replace them in minutes, giving you better vision and a safer drive during snowfall. Changing wiper blades is so easy, you might even be able to do it blindfolded.

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Five Racing Technologies You Might Find in Your Passenger Car

Timeline showing racing technology milestones

There’s an old joke that auto racing was invented at the same time as the second car. Racing has always been popular with enthusiasts and engineers alike. And not just because it’s exciting, but because it’s been the proving ground for new technologies. The racetrack has spawned many ideas in automotive history that performance and sometimes even passenger cars have adopted. There are many examples, but here are six of the best:

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