New for Advance Auto Parts from the Advance Auto Parts Blog

Sink your teeth into this: a car-themed orthodontist office!

Car themes

Photo credit: DJM Orthodontics.

When orthodontist Dr. David J. Myers from Conway, Arkansas was looking for new office space, he was tempted to locate in a building that had served as a gas station since the 1940s and was being revamped. Although that didn’t work out, he and his staff did decide to go with the car motif in his new office, with:

  • the front desk built out of the front end and fenders of a wood-grained 1947 Mercury
  • the doctor’s desk crafted from a 1959 Cadillac
  • couches formed out of the back ends of vehicles
  • a vintage gas station theme with awnings and restored gas pumps
Photo credit: DJM Orthodontics.

Photo credit: DJM Orthodontics.

“Parents love the office,” Dr. Myers says, “and there is no other office like this in the area. At first, when we were planning the décor, my wife and worried at night that maybe the office was too much ‘boy.’” Fortunately, for those who want something different, there’s always the pink Cadillac couch!

Photo credit: DJM Orthodontics.

Photo credit: DJM Orthodontics.

Dr. Myers lists his hobbies as “rebuilding old cars, and an avid collector of ‘junk.’” When it was time to decorate his new office, he already owned a couple of cars that could be dismantled for parts, although he needed to buy more vehicles to complete the look.

Another patient favorite is the area that looks like an old movie theater with a light up sign. “On the day of someone’s first appointment,” he explains, “his or her name is on the sign as being part of the featured movie. This also happens on the day someone gets his or her braces off. When that happens, the patient takes photos and usually posts them to Instagram for friends.”

Photo credit: DJM Orthodontics.

Photo credit: DJM Orthodontics.

So, he’s done decorating, right? Wrong! “I now have a seven-foot sailfish,” the doctor explains, “and I’m looking for the right place to hang it. A local toy store went out of business so I bought a great big train to hang from the ceiling and I’m trying to figure out its location, too.” Oh, and he also has his toys from his childhood and his father’s model airplanes, both of which graced his first office, and he still needs to find a home for them in his new office. “I want,” he says, “to make the patients’ experiences more fun.”

Find even more photos of this incredible work in progress here.

Editor’s note: As you’re salivating over the cool vintage looks at Dr. Meyers’ pad, check out a full line of automotive accessories to keep your ride looking right at Advance Auto Parts.

It’s coming…Google’s driverless car

Google driverless car

Photo credit: John Green

If you’re a Sci-fi fan, the concept of the driverless car is nothing new. But, seeing it actually happen in real-time is a completely different thing.

It turns out that Google’s driverless vehicles have now logged close to 700,000 miles in autonomous driving. That’s nothing to sneeze at, and has probably saved the company at least a few thousand dollars in coffee and caffeine pills alone. But there are many other potential benefits to be had.

Mercury News reporter Gary Richards had this to say about his recent test drive:

“Google’s grand experiment picked me up at home in West San Jose and ferried me to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Later other cars took me and numerous other media types on a 25-minute tour of city streets.

There were two Google workers along for each trip, but for the most part, there were no hands on the steering wheel.

Got that? No hands. The car made a few abrupt moves into left-turn lanes. And once it shuddered at another turn when a nearby bus seemed to confuse the onboard computers.”

Safety is a primary concern and selling point of the vehicles. “We actually haven’t had any at-fault accidents while the car is in self-driving mode,” said Google spokeswoman Katelin Jabbari. “The only at-fault accident was caused while a driver was in control.”

To tackle that, Google has packed these vehicles with $150K in specialized equipment, which includes a radar system with a price tag of $70K alone. All these gadgets enable the car to generate a 3-D map of its surroundings and can detect other vehicles, pedestrians and other things that lay in its path.

Per that, we still don’t know how much these cars are going to cost, but one can imagine. Stay tuned for more on that aspect.

For now, check out Gary Richards’ full review.

 

 

Brushing up on Hellaflush

HellaflushOur Street Talker gets down and dirty with one of today’s hottest car trends.

While I’m a fan of modified imports, drifting, and car culture in general, I have to admit, that I didn’t know much about this thing called “Hellaflush” when I got my first tweet on it a while back. But I’ve been a quick study, and one of the best places to check it out is on the buzz-worthy site Fatlace.

Ask anyone what Hellaflush means and you’re bound to get different answers. What’s it mean to you? In general, it entails the tire and wheel being flush against the fender. Flush being something that’s even with or level with something else – sharing the same plane – or having direct contact with.

While one online description of Hellaflush says the tire has to be flush with the fender, another goes further and states that that the top part of the tire also has to be up inside the wheel well so that the tire sidewall actually contacts the fender when a bump is encountered, making for a very unique and noticeable car display, not to mention driving experience.

I’ve seen the term’s origination credited to both Fatlace, where it’s now one of their brands, and also to a San Francisco neighborhood where it was used as local slang to describe something that was “very” or “crazy,” in terms of an amount. Loosely translated, Hellaflush just means your tires are very flush with your fenders. For a great visual example, check out this BMW 328i with wheels that are a mere millimeter from the fenders!

Hellaflush is also a form of stance – how a vehicle sits – and this type of car display is achieved, generally, with rims that are wider than seven inches, stretched tires, and an aggressive amount of negative camber. It’s common to see Hellaflush associated and discussed along with JJDM Car Culture and VIP styled. JDM refers to Japan Domestic Market while VIP Style refers to the practice of taking large, usually Japanese, luxury vehicles and altering their stance through modifications.

But let’s be honest, even though Hellaflush is popular right now, it’s neither practical nor inexpensive to pull off…but since when does that matter? Being that low to the ground and having tires so close to the fender doesn’t make for easy driving—especially where potholes or inclined driveways are concerned. And it also holds the potential for a lot of wear and damage to the vehicle. But, it does look killer.Hellaflush 2

Taking Hellaflush to another level is the practice of making everything on the vehicle flush, not just the tires. In these instances, it’s as low as it can go, and anything that keeps the body from being completely flush, such as door handles, key holes, etc., are shaved down until they are flush with the rest of the body. That’s commitment. (And one that I personally don’t see making anytime soon.)

Do you know any Hellaflushers? Or, are you planning on going there yourself? If so, share some pics that show just how Hellaflush you are, and let us know how you got there, and more importantly, how it’s working out!

 

 

Editor’s note: Visit Advance Auto Parts for the best in parts and tools for any ride. Buy online, pick up in store.—in 30 minutes. 

Graphics courtesy of Fatlace.

The Cost of Car Ownership Declines, says AAA

Car ownershipIt’s music to our ears over here at Advance HQ.

But is it true that owning and operating your car has gotten cheaper? So says a new AAA study.

 AAA released the results of its annual Your Driving Costs study today, revealing a 2.7 percent decrease in the cost to own and operate a sedan in the U.S. The average cost fell 1.64 cents to 59.2 cents per mile, or $8,876 per year, based upon 15,000 miles of annual driving.

“Despite increases in maintenance and registration fees, American motorists are experiencing an overall decrease in the cost to own and operate a vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “A large decrease in fuel costs, [plus] lower tire, insurance and depreciation expenses are saving owners more than one and a half cents on every mile they drive.”

Here at AAP HQ, we wondered about the fuel costs part of it…do they really seem lower? It turns out that while gas prices haven’t actually tanked, overall they are less than they were in last year’s study, says AAA. Per that, we’ll take what we can get.

The study covers aspects such as fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance and more. You can read more about the study and download the 2014 Your Driving Costs brochure, courtesy of AAA.

And, don’t miss out on great tips for saving gas that you can easily put in place before hitting the road this summer.

 

Kickstart my heart: one man’s rocky relationship with his vehicle’s starter

Toughone_Starter_SStarterThe starter and I have long had an uneasy relationship. We hit rock bottom a few years ago, but since then we’ve patched up our differences and things have been going pretty well. At least up until last week. But that’s ok. Every relationship is going to have its ups and downs, right?

The problem is that for a while there, the starter was letting me down, consistently. I couldn’t count on it when I needed it most, and that kind of behavior will put a serious damper on any relationship in a heartbeat. If I want this relationship to work, I know I need to look ahead and stop dwelling on the past injustices starters have inflicted upon me, but someone needs to hear my side of the story.

There was the time before the 18-inch snowstorm. We were going on three winters without measurable snow, and I was itching for a big one so I could go out and plow my driveway, my neighbors’ driveways, the roads in the neighborhood, and pretty much any other flat, snow-covered surface that would give me an excuse to keep plowing, and playing. The old Massey Ferguson 65 tractor had its tank filled with off-road diesel, battery charged, and the block heater plugged in. In the morning, I’d be ready to push some snow. Unfortunately, my tractor starter had other ideas. That’s the time it picked to fail. After I finished clearing the driveway, by hand, I removed that tractor starter and found it filled with an oily, watery mess. No surprise it had stopped working.

Then there was the time I was selling my riding lawn mower at our moving sale. It was well on its way to being sold, until the prospective buyer went to start it. Yep, you guessed it. The tractor starter failed and needed to be replaced before he’d complete the sale. The nerve!

How about the Valentine’s Day dinner in the city that never was because the car starter on the old ’85 Chevy Caprice that grandma was kind enough to pass on to us newlyweds picked that night to die. Not feeling the love.

And finally, there was the long-running battle of three consecutive truck starter failures, each about nine months apart, on my ’99 F150. Turns out my neighbor really didn’t know how to rebuild a truck starter. Once I wised up an replaced it with a quality truck starter, the problem was solved.

If there’s a silver lining to these experiences, it’s that the starter and I are still together (like I have a choice), I now know how to replace a starter; I know the importance of buying a good replacement starter, and I can usually hear when a starter is getting ready to check out of a relationship. Oh yeah, and I can usually get a malfunctioning car starter to work a couple more times simply by banging on it with a hammer.

If the starter in your life is giving you grief, here’s some relationship advice.

  • The end may be near. If you hear an odd metallic grinding sound from under the hood, or if there is just a clicking sound when turning the key before the engine finally cranks, your car starter could be on its last legs.
  • Diagnose the problem. If you suspect the starter might be bad, get it tested. Stop by your local Advance Auto Parts store for free testing. If the vehicle won’t start, just bring in the starter instead.
  • Bang on it. If the starter has indeed failed and left you stranded, try banging on it with a hammer. Oftentimes this will get it working again, but it’s not a trick you should rely on more than once. Instead, make a note that reads “replace starter” and put it somewhere you’ll see it.
  • Replace it. Swapping out a malfunctioning starter with a new one isn’t rocket science. First, check out this video for some quick tips. While this procedure can vary depending on the vehicle year, make and model, here are the starter-replacement steps, in a nutshell:
    1. Locate your starter.
    2. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
    3. Label and disconnect the wires on the starter.
    4. Unbolt the car starter, being careful not to drop it as it may be heavy.
    5. Install the new starter.
    6. Reconnect the wires.
    7. Reconnect the negative battery cable.
    8. Start the vehicle.

Since I started purchasing quality replacement starters,  instead of asking my neighbor to try and rebuild them for me, the starter and I have had a much better relationship. I’m hoping it stays that way, and not just because they’re calling for 12 to 14 inches tonight.

Editor’s note: If you and your starter are going through a bit of a rough patch in your relationship, Advance Auto Parts can help. Buy online, pick up in store–in 30 minutes.

Oh, the horror…the story of monster trucks!

Shotgun Harry. Photo credit: International Monster Truck Museum.

Shotgun Harry. Photo credit: International Monster Truck Museum.

“A monster truck is fascinating because it can go anywhere—and over anything in its path. Here are trucks that typically weigh 10,000 pounds or more, jumping 25 to 30 feet in the air and performing long jumps upwards of 200 feet. This defies expectations, gravity, and the laws of physics.” (Jeff Cook, President and Founder of the International Monster Truck Museum & Hall of Fame)

If you’re a diehard fan, then names Allen Pezo, Dan Patrick, Scott Stephens, Gary Porter and Army Armstrong may ring a bell, especially as each was inducted into the International Monster Truck Museum’s Hall of Fame on November 9, 2013–during its third annual induction ceremony. Pezo had the most votes, while Stephens and Porter tied for second.

The International Monster Truck Museum (IMTM) & Hall of Fame was created in 2010 with the “mission of collecting and archiving the history of the monster truck sport and related aspects of the high performance aftermarket, focusing upon capturing history from the surviving pioneers and legends.” Each year, the IMTM will also honor accomplished people who contribute significantly to monster trucks by inducting them into the hall of fame.

This museum is different from many others in that, although it does house early versions of monster trucks, it is also recording “history” as it happens, archiving photos and data of modern trucks – rather than waiting 25 years and then seeking out the information. Here’s the breakdown:

Typically, there are three to four classic monster trucks on display at any given time in the museum, along with memorabilia and other historical items. Meanwhile, the website contains excellent resources, including a monster database of vehicles and relevant info surrounding each vehicle; here are three examples:

• Aaron’s All-American Dream Machine, a vehicle that set a world speed record of 96.80 mph in March 2012

• King Kong, belonging to Jeff Dane, one of the sport’s early celebrities

• Bob Chandler’s Bigfoot, the original car crusher

The site also includes driver profiles and loads of photos.

How it all got started

“Really,” Jeff Cook says, “one thing just led to another. There is a large museum complex in Auburn, including the National Military History Center, and the founder is a friend of mine. I was visiting him one day when he asked me if there was a museum yet for monster trucks and I said ‘no.’ We weren’t sure if we could pull one off but we got together with others in the industry and we were successful.”

“We have some early trucks in the museum,” Jeff adds, “which are now the dinosaurs of the racing world. They started out big and heavy, with real pickup bodies, as people competed to have the biggest truck on the block.”

Bigfoot. Photo credit: International Monster Truck Museum.

Bigfoot. Photo credit: International Monster Truck Museum.

And, just as “one thing led to another” in the creation of the IMTM, one thing led to another in the development of monster trucking itself. Here’s what happened.

Early days of monster trucking

No one sat up one day and decided to invent a monster truck. Instead, people gradually began modifying their pickup trucks and competing in truck pulling and mud bogging events. This then evolved into competitions (informal and then more formalized) to create the biggest truck.

People and trucks (with 48-inch-in-diameter wheels) that rose to attention included:

•          Bob Chandler: Bigfoot

•          Everett Jasmer: USA-1

•          Fred Shafer and Jack Willman, Sr.: Bear Foot

•          Jeff Dane: King Kong

Not surprisingly, all of these men – along with Dan Degrasso – were in the first group to be placed in the IMTM’s hall of fame.

In April 1981, Chandler used Bigfoot to drive over and crush cars, planning to use the results as a promotional tool for his business. He then repeated the performance in the Pontiac Silverdome in 1982; this time, the vehicle had tires of 66 inches in diameter. Around this time, the phrase “monster truck” was born. As other people began using 66-inch tires on their vehicles, the vehicles themselves became heavier, ranging from 13,000 to 20,000 pounds each, with super-sized suspension.

Was Chandler the first to perform the car crushing feat? It depends upon whom you ask. Some cite Dane as the first, late in the 1970s, while others believe someone else entirely was the first. What is true is that Chandler has the earliest video and that the Monster Truck Racing Association recognizes him as the first to perform this stunt.

In 1985, monster truck racing began, typically single-elimination races on obstacle courses. As people began to race, the heaviness of early monster trucks worked against them, so they began strategizing over how to lighten their loads and to boost their power, using fiberglass for truck bodies. In 1989, Jack Willman created a vehicle that only weighed 9,000 pounds, a significant reduction.

Monster Truck Racing Association

Goliath. Photo credit: International Monster Truck Museum.

Goliath. Photo credit: International Monster Truck Museum.

The Monster Truck Racing Association (MTRA) formed in 1988, setting safety standards. “We pride ourselves on being the safest motor sport, considering the number of events, for both participants and spectators,” says Marty Garza, director of communications for MTRA. “I credit that to the foresight of people in the association who proactively brainstorm for solutions for potential problems, rather than being reactive after an issue has happened. We risk being called alarmists, but we have a safety record that is unmatched.”

Five years later, in 1993, freestyle exhibitions began to appear at racing events for drivers to show off their fancy moves; in 2000 freestyling became a competition event.

“Part of the appeal of monster trucks,” says Marty, “is the unpredictability of the sport. Freestyling, for example, brings with it an X Games type of excitement. The height of the trucks, the amount of noise that monster trucking creates – well, it just appeals to the senses as it’s shockingly loud and highly energizing.”

Who are the fans?

Monster Truck Racing Association Online stated in 2010 that more than a million people attend monster truck events annually, with demographics matching those of people who buy pickup trucks. That makes perfect sense.

Then, according to Media Life Magazine in 2010: “Motorsports do bring in some moms and kids, but the majority of attendees are young male gearheads. The crowds are roughly two-thirds male, and more than 75 percent are age 44 or younger.”

Later in the article, though, a statistic shows greater female enjoyment of the events; according to Scarborough Research, when looking at adults who have attended a monster truck event within the past 12 months:

•          57% are males

•          43% are females

Wondering about ages?

•          22%: ages 18-24

•          28%: 25-34

•          27%: 35-44

•          15%: 45-54

•          6%: 55-64

•          2%: 65+

Income?

•          15%: below $25,000

•          22%: $25,000-$39,000

•          11%: $40,000-$49,000

•          17%: $50,000-$74,999

•          15%: $75,000-$99,999

•          12%: $100,000-$149,000

•          8%: $150,000 and up

Jeff Cook brings up another point about demographics: that children also attend monster truck events. “You see grandparents, parents and kids,” he says. “Events tend to be family oriented in that you see all ages and everyone seems to get something out of it.”

Predator. Photo credit: International Monster Truck Museum.

Predator. Photo credit: International Monster Truck Museum.

In fact, Jeff himself was one of those kids who was fascinated by big vehicles. “I was always wanting to put bigger tires on my toys,” he says, “and then I saw Bigfoot. I told my father that I wanted a truck like that someday and that I thought we should build one. Videos just don’t do monster trucks justice. You need to see them in action, in person, to see these massive vehicles going 60 to 80 mph as they do their stunts.”

The future of the sport

“All of this attention to monster trucks has boggled our minds. Ten to fifteen years ago, it seemed like nobody even knew what a monster truck was. We thought attention to events would slow down and top out, but people continue to get more and more performance out of their vehicles, with better technology and bigger stunts.

In other racing sports, vehicles are fragile, but monsters are durable. They can roll over, crash – and then keep going. So the drivers keep pushing the envelope, running it to the edge, especially since fiberglass truck bodies of today can be fixed much more easily. Monster truck racing, though, is still more of a bragging rights race. I think it will someday turn into racing for money, with more racing series and more corporate sponsors.” (Jeff Cook)

 

Snake & Mongoo$e – a tribute to drag racing’s glory days

Snake and MongooseOur resident Gearhead puts his grease gun down to review the new DVD release of this indie drag racing film.

I had a chance to drive a drag-racing car many years ago, and to be quite honest with you, I was too scared to get behind the wheel. Sometimes I find myself wishing I’d taken the plunge. But as I watched the excellent new film Snake and Mongoo$e, I was reminded of just how terrifying these cars can be. I mean, I like speed as much as the next guy — maybe more — but as early as 1970 or thereabouts, professional drag racers were turning quarter-miles in under 7 seconds at over 200 mph. Even as a daredevil teenager, which is what I was back then, that seemed a little too hot to handle.

It made for a great show, though, and no two men were more instrumental to the sport’s growth than Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “Mongoose” McEwen. Initially bitter rivals, the pair formed a partnership in the late 1960s that helped elevate drag racing from fringe spectacle to big-ticket entertainment.

Their most important joint venture was probably the sponsorship agreement they signed in 1970 Snake & Mongoose 3with Mattel’s Hot Wheels franchise, which put the Hot Wheels logo on both men’s cars — and set a precedent for such agreements across professional sports. But the film goes well beyond the boardroom, of course, delving deeply into the complex personal relationship between Prudhomme and McEwen as it evolved through the years.

 Drag racing on the big screen

Now, I’m no movie critic, so when I tell you that I thought the dialogue was mostly by-the-numbers, I want you to take that with a grain of salt. But you know I’m a car guy, so you can trust me when I say that this is one car movie that got my blood pumping. I loved the split-screen cockpit closeups of the Snake and Mongoose, side by side in full protective headgear, with the drag-strip “Christmas tree” lights in the middle.

Another neat idea was the inclusion of archival racing footage from the ’60s and ’70s, reminding you that this isn’t just a popcorn movie; it all really happened. And this flick’s got some star power, too, from a barely recognizable Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy) as The Snake to Hollywood veteran Noah Wyle as Mattel executive Arthur Spear.

Sname & Mongoos 2As car films go, I still gotta give the nod to Bullitt as the best of all time, but I think Snake and Mongoo$e is right up there with Senna and another recent car movie, Rush, as far as true stories are concerned. If you’re awestruck like me at the sight of those drag-racing cars thundering down the track, you’re gonna want to take this Snake for a spin.

Snake & Mongoo$e is available on DVD and Blu-ray courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Check out a clip here:

The Ford Mustang turns 50!

Ford MustangWe wanted to tip our hats to the Ford Motor Company and its fleet-wheeled filly, the Ford Mustang.

It was 50 years ago this week that the iconic muscle car made it’s debut, turning legions of casual drivers into die-hard fans.

Over the years, the Mustang has changed–for better and for worse–but has remained a beloved staple in automotive form and function, and a symbol of Americana.

Wired Magazine states:

Fifty years ago today, Ford unveiled the Mustang. It was a sleek and sporty car, named for a fighter plane and slightly European in flavor. Company brass hoped it might be something of a hit and expected to sell 100,000 of them in the first year.

They sold 22,000 on the first day.

Those are excellent stats, even by today’s standards.

Here’s more on the history of the Ford Mustang, courtesy of Wired:

Work on the Mustang began in 1960, when Ford’s marketing Mad Man Lee Iacocca realized the company needed to attract young buyers. He wanted something new, something unique, something to tap into the era’s sense of national optimism. Most importantly, he wanted “something that would be sporty but not a sports car,” said Bob Casey, an automotive historian and former curator of the The Henry Ford Museum.

 

You can read more from this informative piece at Wired Magazine.

And, check out our own resident Gearhead’s comprehensive blog on the 2014 Mustang GT.

Kudos to Ford on the 50th Anniversary of the Ford Mustang!

 

Top 5 DIY Projects to Tackle Yourself

father_son_work_under_hoodWhen minor things go wrong with our cars, most of us just bite the bullet and consult a trusted mechanic. But have you ever considered that you might be selling yourself short? Fact is, if you’ve got a little patience, you can resolve a lot of these issues without even leaving home. And that means extra money in your pocket, not to mention the satisfaction of a job well done.

In this post, I want to share a few common DIY (“Do It Yourself”) procedures with you. Remember, even if you did every single one of these jobs, you’d still only be scratching the surface of your potential. There isn’t much about a car that you can’t fix on your own. But sometimes, the hardest part is just getting started. Read on for some simple ways to get that DIY ball rolling.

1. Headlight Restoration

If your car’s more than a few years old, chances are its headlight lenses could use some TLC – particularly if you deal with inclement weather on a regular basis. You’ll notice cloudiness on the plastic lens surface and maybe some yellowing as well. Fortunately, a number of reputable brands sell headlight restoration kits that can make those lenses look new again. I’m always a fan of Meguiar’s products, and some of my neighborhood friends have responded well to the 3M kits, too.

Don’t get intimidated if your kit requires a power drill, by the way; that’s just because you need more power to get that crud off than a human arm can muster. In my experience, the job may take an hour or two to do properly, but there’s nothing tricky about it.

2. Headlight Replacement

Mechanics love when customers come in with blown-out headlights. I’m telling you, folks, repair jobs under the hood don’t get much simpler than this one; it’s like giving that friendly mechanic a free lunch. There are tons of replacement headlights and headlight bulbs for sale right here on Advance Auto Parts, and we’ve even got some handy step-by-step tutorials to help you along the way. Be sure to check your owner’s manual, too, as there’s often a How-To in there for the headlight replacement procedure.

A word of advice, though, and this goes for any job that involves disassembly or removal: remember the order in which you take things apart. If you have to remove your headlight assembly, for example, you may end up unscrewing and pulling out a number of pieces. Please don’t forget how to put everything back together.

3. Replace Your Wipers

This is actually a simpler job than headlight replacement, because you don’t even have to pop the hood. Windshield-wiper blades typically just snap into place, so replacing them is as easy as flipping the wiper shafts up off the windshield, popping the old blades off and snapping the new ones on. Your owner’s manual should have specific information about the removal and replacement process.

As for your blade selection, it depends on several different factors–the kind of car you have, where you live and the type of driving you do. You can learn more at this informational page on windshield wiper installation.

4. Replenish Your Fluids

Fluids are the lifeblood of an internal combustion engine. Without enough motor oil, the engine will wear down more quickly and may even seize. Without enough power steering fluid, the pump, bearings and other parts are in imminent danger. Without enough brake fluid…well, you get the point. Bottom line, it’s crucial to make sure that all fluids are always up to spec. To do it yourself, just check your owner’s manual for the location of each fluid reservoir or dipstick, and make a habit of inspecting those fluid levels. I do it every other time I get gas. If you need replacement fluids, the Advance Auto Parts website has got every imaginable variety; just plug what you’re looking for into the search field.

5. Wash & Wax Your Ride

Ever find yourself shaking your head at the price of a car wash? I’ll tell you one thing: it definitely costs more than you’d pay to do it yourself. So why not get up close and personal with your car’s finish? My favorite product is called “waterless car wash,” because you don’t need water or a bucket or anything like that — just grab a microfiber cloth and a bottle of Griot’s finest, and 15 minutes later your car will be shining like it just came from the detailer. Of course, if you want to get more serious with waxing, clay-bar treatments and so forth, there’s a whole world of at-home detailing products to explore.

“Wait, why should I DIY again?”

Let’s recap. When you do simple jobs like these yourselves, you definitely save money, and you’ll also know your car’s being treated with the love it deserves. Plus, you’re gonna learn a thing or two along the way. What’s not to like?

By the way, give me a shout in the comments if you try any of these DIYs, or if you have any other suggestions for all the aspiring driveway mechanics out there.

Editor’s note: Check out the Advance Auto Parts YouTube Channel for more great DIY project tips.

Writing off your car for business use

1040_tax_formWith tax time upon us, we thought we’d try to spread some positive news, especially as it relates to your car.

If you use your car for business, did you know you can write some of its costs off?

According to Tax Topic 510 – Business Use of Car on IRS.gov:

If you use your car in your job or business and you use it only for that purpose, you may deduct its entire cost of operation.

That’s a pretty good deal in our book. But we aware, if you use your car for personal use, you can only deduct the operation costs (gas, maintenance, etc.) for the portion dedicated to actual business use. Sorry, taking the kids to soccer games doesn’t count and neither does competing on the drag strip – unless of course, you own the team!

On another note, if you find yourself in the enviable position of getting a tax refund this year, you can maximize it by taking advantage of the great deals at Advance Auto Parts–to get all those projects done in 2014.

Cheers!