My First…. Motorcycle!

I know this is supposed to be an Automotive Blog, but I thought I would share this anyway.  I bought this motorcycle yesterday!  It's a 96′ Yamaha Virago 250cc with only about 4,500 miles on it.  It's a perfect bike for a beginner motorcyclist.  I hope this gives me many years of great riding!

Premature Brake Wear

A few days ago my Mom complained that her Van was making “A loud noise!”  I took it around the block, and after hearing Screeeeech coming from the front….. I immediately knew it needed new Brakes.

Yesterday I replaced the Front Pad and Rotors.  Pictured below you can see I clearly marked the Left- Side and Right-Side Rotors.  As you can see in the pictures, the Left-Side Pads and Rotor were completely worn out.   You should be able to see the grooves in the Rotor, which happens when your Brake Pads wear down and are Metal to Metal.   If you notice on the Right Rotor it is smooth, the way it should be.  The Left had Premature Brake Wear, due to a seizing caliper.

Premature Brake Wear is serious.  If your Brakes get Metal to Metal, your stopping power seriously decreases.  This is a good example of what happens if you don't get your Brakes checked and maintained frequently!

LEFT

 The Rotor has grooves in it, and the top Pad is seriously worn down!

RIGHT

 These look ok, but needed to be replaced as well!

Synthetic Oil

In my last post I suggest getting your Oil changed every 3,000-4,000 miles.  If you feel that's just to often for you there is a solution…. Synthetic Oil!

Regular Oil, that you most likely have in your car right now, will only last for 3,000-4,000 miles.  Synthetic can last 2 or 3 times longer.  Meaning you could go 10,000-15,000 miles between Oil Changes!  Imagine saving all that time and hassle!

Synthetic Oil cleans and protects your engine better.  Your car's fuel economy can improve.  It will make your engine last longer.  It has higher boiling point, so if your engine is overheating Synthetic Oil won't burn up as readily as Regular Oil.  On cold days, it will provide more even lubrication.  Many people argue that it's also better for the Environment, because you use less Oil over the life of your car.
      
Are you asking yourself “Why hasn't anybody suggested Synthetic Oil before?”  There might be several reasons, but the main reason is Price!  Synthetic Oil lasts longer, but is more expensive.  A typical Synthetic Oil change at a shop might cost $70-90, not including disposal fees and taxes.  Many people just don't want to spend that much.  Actually… most shops don't even carry Synthetic Oil, because there isn't much of a demand.

I put Synthetic in my Toyota Camry!  I feel it's worth it.  Usually Auto Parts Stores have special deals to buy 5 quarts of Synthetic Oil with a high-quality oil filter for $30.  It saves me time, since I only change it every 10,000 miles instead of 3,000 miles.  I checked my dipstick yesterday, and 6,000 miles later Synthetic Oil still looks new! 

Even though Synthetic Oil is great, I wouldn't suggest it for cars with 100,000+ miles.  I tried using it in my Mom's Van…… it leaked out.  Synthetic Oil is so viscous and cleans so well, it tends to leak through older engines that have used Regular Oil.

It's better to switch to Synthetic early in a car's life.  You'll prevent any problems from switching over if you do.  Many high-end manufacturers, Ferrari, Aston Martin, etc factory fill cars with Synthetic Oil.  So why not your car?     

Do I Need to Change my Oil every 3000 Miles?

This is probably the most common question I get asked.  My short answer is usually, “No! However it’s a good idea to get it changed often!  Getting it changed every 4000 miles is reasonable if you prefer, but it's good to try to get it changed around 3,000 miles.

Many then argue that in their Scheduled Maintenance Booklet, it might say change the oil every 5,000 miles or even 7,500 miles.  Why spend money every 3,000-4,000 miles?  Modern oil might be able to last that long, but that cheap oil filter you have on your engine won’t!  In my experience I haven't seen these cheap oil filters last long.  Many mechanics I’ve talked to agree on this as well.  Many of the oil filters out there just don’t last long enough to truly filter out contaminants and work properly!

That mileage figure they tell you in that booklet might work in labs, but in the real world it doesn’t!  Check your oil just after it’s been changed.  Then check again 3,000 – 4,000 miles since you last changed it.  You’ll noticed a significant difference.  The new oil will have a Golden-Honey color.  The old oil will look Black and Dirty.

I change the oil on my Mom’s van about every 3,000 miles.  It has over 100,000 miles on it, and I feel it’s the best way to ensure the engine will last a long time.  Even if you only drive a few thousand miles a year in your car, get it changed at least twice a year.  Getting your oil changed isn’t expensive, so do it often.  Your car's engine will reward you with a long life if you do.  Remember….. Oil is Cheap, but Engines are Expensive!

Checking Tire Pressure

I realized that many people might not even really know the proper way to check their Tires Pressure. 




  1. Check what the correct Tire Pressure is for your car, and ignore what it says on the Tires sidewall.  Those tolerances are usually the Maximum for what the Tires will tolerant, and not what the Tires should be inflated to.  There should be a sticker with The Correct PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) that will be located inside of the door or on or around the doojamb.  
  2. Touch your Tires with the back of you hand to see if they are hot.  If you've been driving obviously they will be, which most likely will give you an incorrect PSI reading.  Wait, a few minutes to let the Tires cool off.  It's always good to check cold tires.  
  3. Use a Tire Gauge, and check to see if you Tires are inflated properly.  Make sure to push the Tire Gauge as straight as possible onto the Valve Stem.  Make sure to check the Tires Pressure at least 3 times!  Many times you will check once, but many factors could affect your readings.  You will get an inaccurate reading by not pushing in on the Valve Stem straight or correctly, and get a PSI reading that is wrong.  

     

  4. If you've determined the PSI in your Tires are too low, get out your Portable Air Compressor and pump your tires up.  Many Portable Air Compressors are have a Gauge right on them, but many tend to be inaccurate.  I'd suggested checking again with a Tire Gauge. 

 
5.  If you've determined the PSI in your Tires are too high, release some of the air by pushing in the needle for only 1 or 2 seconds.  It's annoying to let out too much air, and then having to pump it up again.  Although if you have an Portable Air Compressor it's not a problem!

If you don't have a Tire Gauge, I recommend you go buy one at your local Auto Parts Store.  Pencil Gauges are only $1 are work fine for most people.  However, Pencil Gauges break quickly, and then can give bad readings.  Dial Gauges are around $5, but are more accurate and last longer.

Again, Don't Check Hot Tires!  Think back to your 6th grade Science class.  Remember what the pictures of heated molecules looked like.  They were bouncing all over the place!  The same thing happens to your Tires if you've been driving for a long time.  The air gets hot inside, bouncing around all the air.  If you check Hot Tires you will get inaccurate readings!  It's best to Check Tires Pressure in the morning when you haven't driven on them.  If you don't think this makes a difference… it does!  I've done tests myself.

I hope this helps you keep your Tires inflated properly!

Buy a Portable Air Compressor!

Portable Air Compressors are definitely worth $10-$30. Many Gas Stations will charge for using Air Pumps. If you are like most people, I assume you don't carry quarters. (Definitely not enough to pump up your tires!) I also assume you hardly check how much Air is in your tires too. I'm I right? Yeah, most likely! It's just to inconvenient to worry about!

If your tires are only a few psi low, your handling will be different. Handling in wet conditions will be even worse! A tire will lose .5 psi-1 psi every month of regular driving. Every 10*F change in Temperature will make your tires lose about 1 psi (usually happens when it gets colder.)

A Portable Air Compressor you keep in your trunk will not only save you the hassle, but time and money as well. Your tires will last a lot longer if you keep them properly inflated to the correct pressure.  The Fuel Efficiency of your car will also be much better with properly inflated Tires.  If you aren't sure about the correct pressure, check inside the door or around the opening. Don't follow what it says on the sidewall of your tires!

You can find Portable Air Compressors in big-box stores or a local Autoparts Stores.  Buy a Portable Air Compressor! Trust me, you won't regret it!

Pictured below is my Portable Air Compressor.  I bought it at Target for $20, and it's served my family and I well.  I've used it on all of the cars we have, including many people's cars who needed some Air when they've stopped by.  I'll always have one handy!

Welcome to Adam’s Auto Advice!

Welcome to my blog! My name is Adam, and I will be giving advice about cars. I've found that even though people have intimate relationships with their cars, many are lost when it comes to any real knowledge about their car. The advice I will write will help educate and inform. This blog will be geared toward the “Average Person” who knows little about the vehicle they drive. I will do my best to explain in simple terms.

So….. have no fear because Auto Adam is right here!