2016 Patrick Long Pro-Am Kart Race: Making a Difference for All Children’s Hospital

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For the fifth year in a row, professional drivers and weekend racers gathered the day after the Mobile 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with one goal, to raise money for All Children’s Hospital, a pediatric hospital located in St. Petersburg, Florida that specializes in providing pediatric care for those with challenging medical problems.

On Sunday, March 20th, seven pro drivers joined a team of countless donors and volunteers on the Andersen RacePark track for a 1.5-hour endurance race, on go-karts. The event presents a rare opportunity for fans to team up with and meet some of their favorite professional drivers.

Will Reilly, event committee member, is an enthusiastic advocate of the Kart Race mission, stating, “After visiting All Children’s Hospital a few times for the planning meetings and seeing where the money was going; I knew it was going to be worth it to be part of this event.”

Race Day: A Well-Oiled Machine

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Donations came in all forms, from cash to entry fees. A silent auction of donations from the pro drivers and collectibles contributed by local dealerships and race teams were combined with a live auction. Items up for bid ranged from peculiar to heart-warming: race shoes worn by pro drivers in historic Petit Le Mans races, the skinny front tires from the famed DeltaWing racing car, and framed paintings done by patients of All Children’s Hospital.

On the track, the competitive spirit was in full swing. Most of the teams started their pro drivers first while the karts were cool and running quickly. Then, in the blink of an eye, the driver changes began, in true endurance race fashion. The karts alternated amongst the teams as they cycled through the drivers. In turn, no advantages could be introduced. Each driver had to participate a fair amount, meaning amateur entrants and pros alike had to pull their own weight to secure a win.

A Thrilling Finish

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The fifth year of racing brought seasoned drivers with experience and strategy to the race, along with plenty of memorable moments. There were some healthy jousts at the start. Patrick Long jumped in for a driver that couldn’t make it and Jordan Taylor (who started the race for his team) qualified first. He cycled back through the driver changes and helped his team keep first place for the win.

Andersen RacePark, Patrick Long, the volunteers, drivers and donors raised $60,000 to benefit All Children’s Hospital.

The Future Ahead

“Aside from the fun and excitement from the event, it’s really the kids that keep me coming back year after year,” said Reilly.

Reilly’s right. Besides creating a fun, adrenaline-satisfying atmosphere, the event created a positive impact on the families whom will benefit from the funds raised.

We’ve been before and will return again. This event shows what these great drivers and people are truly capable of – making a lasting impact on their community.

To make your own contribution to the charity, visit their site.

Cool Stuff about Camaros

Photo Courtesy Chevrolet

Photo Courtesy Chevrolet

With the recent introduction of the sixth generation of Chevy’s famous muscle car, there has been a great deal of renewed interest in Camaros, a performance favorite for nearly 50 years. The car has a long, rich history filled with fascinating details.

From a last-minute name change the year it was introduced to the exciting changes in the recently introduced 2016 model, the Camaro has a rich, wild history.

Let’s take a look.

First, How Is the 2016 Version Better?

While your initial impression of the 2016 model may be indifferent from that of the outgoing model, your opinion is bound to change once you’ve entered the driver’s seat.

  • New and lighter chassis – The 2016 Camaro rides on the same platform that is used in the Cadillac ATS sedan and coupe. Using more aluminum components, the designers have trimmed about 200 lbs. compared to the last incarnation.
  • Easier to park (at least in theory) – The body is 2 inches shorter than before. The wheelbase also shrinks by about 2 inches.
  • Deep, deep seat gauges – Front and center for the driver, and a must-have in a classic muscle car. Plus, you’ll find a larger infotainment screen.
  • More gears – An 8-speed Hydra-Matic replaces the 6-speed automatic across the Camaro range, shortening 0-60 mph times, and contributing to improved fuel economy.
  • Amazing light show – If you like, choose the optional Interior Spectrum Lighting that allows you to choose from 24 colors of accent lighting on the dash, door panels, and foot-wells. There is also a mode that cycles through all the colors.
  • Turbo power – For the first time, there is a turbocharged Camaro. The entry-level model is motivated by a turbocharged 4-cylinder, which delivers 275-horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque from 3,500-4,000 rpm. This generation also represents the most powerful Camaro SS of all time, with a 455-horsepower 6.2-liter V-8, coupled to an 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual.

If It Had Been Called “The Panther,” Would It Still Be a Favorite?

Originally the automotive press was full of stories about the new Chevrolet Panther. In fact, the Camaro was the Panther right up until the car’s debut. Chevrolet even had the molds made for the emblems.

GM (and the press) had called the new model a variety of names, including Nova, Panther, Chaparral, and Wildcat. It is also rumored that Chevy considered using the letters “GM” in the name, and came up with G-Mini, which evolved into GeMini, and finally Gemini. As the story goes, they killed that name because they didn’t want the letters “GM” to be used, in case the car was a flop.

When all was said and done, over 2,000 names were considered while the car was in development.

Chevy reps defined the name as “a small, vicious animal that eats Mustangs” since, of course, it was introduced to counter the success of Ford’s Mustang.

Many sources suggested the name comes from a French word meaning “friend.” Ford representatives found an alternate meaning in an old Spanish dictionary: “a small, shrimp-like creature,” and another journalist dug up a translation that meant “loose bowels.”

The Camaro’s questionable naming history was all but forgotten upon its impressive introduction on September 21, 1966. That introduction included a 30-minute movie detailing its development, a complete cutaway car replica, a women’s clothing line called the Camaro Collection, and even a Camaro road race game.

Camaro “Outpaced” Nearly All the Rest

Even though the Camaro came two-and-a-half years after the Mustang, it has a healthy lead in the Indianapolis 500. The Camaro has been the official pace car at Indy six times, versus just three for the Mustang. Only the Corvette (with twelve) has paced more 500’s than the Camaro.

Limited to Just 100…the Neiman Marcus Edition Camaro

Sold during the 2010 holiday season, the Neiman Marcus version of the Camaro convertible came with an exclusive tri-coat deep Bordeaux exterior paint with ghosted stripes. The exclusive automobile came loaded with all the performance, smart technology, and luxury you would expect, including:

  • 6.2-liter V8 engine 426-horsepower six-speed manual or 400-horsepower six-speed automatic transmission
  • 21-inch five-spoke wheels with brilliant red detailing
  • Bordeaux-hued convertible top
  • Silver painted windshield surround
  • Amber leather-appointed interior with brilliant red accents on the center console, steering wheel, and shift knob
  • Acoustics premium eight-speaker, 245-watt sound system

It sold for $75,000 and the 100 units were gone in less than three minutes.

The Camaro as Hero Starring in the Transformers Movies

A yellow version of the American muscle car, redesigned around the release of the first Transformers movie, plays the hero Bumblebee, first depicted as a 1977 Camaro and later as a fifth-generation model. Further cementing the Camaro’s place as a pop culture icon, Chevy gave director Michael Bay a new version of the fifth-gen Camaro to show off in each of the three movie sequels.

Bay has long directed the automaker’s commercials and Super Bowl spots.

After the 2007 film went on to earn nearly $710 million worldwide, GM saw interest in the Camaro skyrocket, including a 10% gain in sales for yellow Camaros. Yellow typically accounted for less than 5% of any model’s sales, prior to that first movie.

It Takes 18 Hours to Assemble a Camaro in the Plant

Or at least that’s how long it took to assemble fifth-generation Camaros in the Oshawa Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada. The last one came off the line on November 20, 2015. When the assembly line was ramped up, it was common to see a new Camaro roll off at a pace of one per minute.

Some assembly details:

  • 734 robots handled the nearly 5,000 spot welds needed to create the body shell for each Coupe.
  • The outer body side panel was transformed through strikes by four die sets, with the initial forming press generating nearly 1,400 tons of force, and creating seven body sides per minute.
  • The Oshawa paint shop was capable of delivering 150 painted vehicles per hour.
  • The Camaro engine was produced at a different plant, then shipped approximately two hours to the assembly line.
  • That last car off the line marked the end of an era of Canadian production that stretched back to 1992. Prior to that, Camaros were built in California, Ohio, and several foreign plants.
  • The 2016 models will be built in the Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant in Michigan.

 

Shop Advance Auto Parts for all the auto parts you need: top quality, trusted brands, every time.

Airbrushing: Art on Wheels

Some artists prefer paper, others canvas or wood. But for those wielding an airbrush, sheetmetal is ideal. Despite its seeming like a relatively recent movement, airbrushing artwork on vehicles has been around for over half a century. And for those car, truck and motorcycle enthusiasts looking for the ultimate in expressing themselves through their ride, it’s hard to top a custom airbrush graphic or mural.

The Early Days of Airbrushing
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According to some historians, the first fully functional airbrush was invented by Charles Burdick, who, via Thayer and Chandler Art Materials company, presented his small paint spraying device at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The basic design still continues to this day, and consists of pressurized air that runs through a venturi, creating suction that pulls paint in from a reservoir and atomizes it into tiny droplets. The resulting fine spray of paint can be precisely released and controlled via a trigger on the sprayer and used to provide the artist’s most minute detail.

When car customizing really started to take hold in the 1950s, having a “flame job” done to the front of a car was about the coolest thing a hot rodder could do to jazz up his ride’s looks. Back then, nothing gave off the impression of potential speed like flames igniting and spreading out over the front of the car.

1930s Ford Hot Rod
If the van’s rocking, don’t come knocking
Airbrushing seemed to reach its zenith in the 1970s with the custom van movement. In addition to their love den interiors outfitted with huge beds, wood paneling and plenty of deep shag carpeting, these massive, nearly windowless boxes on wheels provided the perfect blank canvas thanks to their large expanses of flat sheetmetal.

Wolves howling at the moon, dragons soaring through the air, and Sorcerers doing their thing were popular van art themes of the time. Some were literally out of this world as they depicted Star Trek or Star Wars scenes, as well as moonscapes and other extra-terrestrial visions.

This era also saw low riders hitting their stride and getting artsy. Typically an early-mid 1960s American car, a low rider was exactly as its name implied with its suspension lowered to the point of the car nearly scraping the pavement. More modern versions use adjustable air or hydraulic suspensions. These allow the driver to raise the car up for normal driving, slam it to the ground for “low and slow” cruising or even rapidly raise and lower the car to the point of hopping around. Chevy Impalas are usually the vehicle of choice here, and the airbrushed graphics typically depict a beautiful, scantily-clad Latina on the hood or trunk.

1964 Chevrolet Impala Lowrider

Dude, those are some sick graphics
In addition to those classic themes, modern day graphics — as with much of the clothing and jewelry nowadays — seem to have a preoccupation with skulls. The variety of these “boneheads” won’t be denied as they range from whimsical to downright scary. There are also paint schemes that pay homage to certain ethnicities. And flames haven’t gone out of style either, with “ghost” flames — those usually done in a slightly lighter or darker shade of the car’s primary color — being quite popular.

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Getting ink…we mean paint…done
If you’re looking to customize your ride with airbrushed art, you have plenty of options as even a cursory Google search brings up plenty of talented artists and samples of their work. Should you be artistically inclined and want to give a go yourself, you can take a class or even get tutored via YouTube. The Airbrush Museum site is a good source for all things airbrushing.

Crucial Cars: Mazda RX-7

From timeless icons to everyday essentials, Crucial Cars examines the vehicles we can’t live without.

For this installment, Street Talk puts the spotlight on a sports car with a strong, well-deserved fan base – the Mazda RX-7

 

Back in the fall of 1978, Mazda put out a rather bold print ad in the car buff magazines. It pictured Mazda’s new, rotary-engined sports car, the 1979 RX-7 sitting proudly in front of sports car icons that had debuted before. The 1947 MG TC. The 1953 Chevrolet Corvette. The 1970 Datsun 240-Z. “This year, it’s the Mazda RX-7.” A brash statement, certainly. And one that time would reveal to be more than justified.

1979 MazdaRX7 ad

Those car mags — Road and Track, Motor Trend and Car and Driver — had high hopes for the car. Expectations that were met, if not exceeded, once they laid their collective driving gloves on Mazda’s light, sleek and well-rounded sports car. Those basic tenets of light weight, a free-revving rotary engine and an athletic chassis carried the RX-7 through, essentially, four generations, as the last version was dubbed the RX-8. What has also carried on is the unabashed enthusiasm the RX-7s fans have for this very unique sports car.

 

Getting it right the first time
A sleek, pointy-nosed silhouette with flip-up headlights was what one first noticed upon seeing Mazda’s new 1979 sports car, dubbed RX-7. Yet under the handsome form was the big news. For there lay a powerplant and suspension that could put an ear-to-ear grin on the Grinch, were he a road test editor. And it started at under $6,500, though by the end of that first model year the still-crazy-bargain price had crept up to around $7,000.

It may have made just 100 horsepower, but the RX-7’s tiny 1.2-liter rotary engine, when looked upon as power per liter, was a monster. However, fuel mileage was also more like a larger engine, with 17 to 19 mpg being about average. More notably, it was a delight to drive, thanks to its ultra-smooth, eagerly revving nature that, coupled with the car’s light weight of just 2,400 pounds, provided sprightly for the day acceleration. Though 0-to-60 in about 9.3 seconds and a 17 second quarter mile time aren’t exactly scorching asphalt, consider that a 1979 Camaro Z28, with its 5.7-liter V8, took about 8 seconds and 16 seconds, respectively, for the same sprints.

But the RX-7 was designed more for unwinding curvy roads than juvenile stop light drags. Yes, it may have been somewhat unsophisticated with recirculating ball (rather than rack and pinion) steering and a solid rear axle (rather than independent suspension), but no matter. With its small, light engine set behind the front axle line, the RX-7 sported ideal 50:50 front to rear weigh balance, which, coupled with the car’s low center of gravity, relatively quick steering and firm suspension provided tons of fun on one’s favorite deserted stretch of twisting blacktop.

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1981 Mazda RX-7 S

Initially available in just base S (4-speed manual, steel wheels) and up-level GS (5-speed stick, fancier interior) trim levels, the first RX-7 lasted until 1985, by which time one could also choose plush GSL and top of the line GSL-SE versions. The latter in particular, available only in ’84 and ’85, is the one that first-gen RX-7 fans lust for, as it sports a larger (1.3-liters versus 1.2), more powerful, 135-horsepower engine, four-wheel disc brakes (versus front disc/rear drum) and larger (14-inch versus 13-inch) wheels along with all the luxury features of the GSL. A GSL-SE could dash to 60 mph in just about 8 seconds and fly through the quarter mile in around 16 flat.

1984 Mazda RX-7 GSL-SE

1984 Mazda RX-7 GSL-SE

Growing upmarket
For 1986, Mazda brought out the second-generation RX-7. A ground-up redesign seemingly inspired by the Porsche 944, the new RX-7’s styling featured flared out fenders that closely resembled those of the German sports car. The rear, wrap-around glass hatch was now one piece, rather than three as before, lending a cleaner look, as did the smoothly integrated bumpers. Inside, the design and materials were both improved, with thicker, well-shaped seats and large instruments and controls all within a wrap-around cockpit theme.

Under the sleek hood of all RX-7s, be they the base model or fancy GXL, was a 1.3-liter rotary with 146 horsepower, a sizeable boost over the previous base engine and still more than the previous, alphabet-soup RX-7 GSL-SE. The steering was now rack and pinion, all models had four-wheel disc brakes as well as a five-speed stick standard (automatic still optional) and the suspension was more refined, being all independent.

Yet despite the more generous features list and the more sophisticated underpinnings, the new RX-7’s curb weight only increased by about 150-200 pounds (depending on trim level). As such, the new RX-7’s performance was spirited, with the old 0-to-60 and quarter mile contests being done in around 8.5- and 16.5-seconds, respectively. As before, though, this car’s real appeal lay in the way in could confidently dispatch a series of S curves and switchbacks. Drivers in the know kept the rotary humming above 5,000 as they got their kicks slicing through and powering out of the turns.

More power is always good, so for 1987, the RX-7 Turbo debuted. Force-feeding the 1.3-liter rotary pumped output up to 182 horses, good enough for 6.5-second 0-to-60 and 15.0-second quarter-mile times, very impressive for the era. The Turbo also featured larger (16-inch) wheels and tires, firmer suspension tuning and plenty of luxury features including full power accessories, a sunroof and an upgraded audio system complete with cassette deck and graphic equalizer. It was the ‘80s, after all.

1988 Mazda RX-7 Convertible (with Turbo hood)

1988 Mazda RX-7 Convertible (with Turbo hood)

For 1988, a convertible joined the lineup. Sadly, the Turbo was not offered in drop-top form but could be had in a special 10th anniversary RX-7, the latter celebrating 10 years of RX-7 production via unique color scheme with white paint, white wheels and white bodyside moldings.

A mild, mid-cycle update for 1989 brought more power for the non-turbo RX-7s, now up to 160 hp, as well as more thrust for the Turbo, now rated at a full 200 hp. The increased muscle shaved a few tenths off the acceleration times, while color-keyed bodyside moldings and new wheels dressed things up a bit. That year also saw the GTU version debut, essentially a base model with some performance enhancements such as firmer suspension and larger, alloy wheels fitted with performance tires.

1990 Mazda RX-7 (with Turbo hood and custom wheels)

1990 Mazda RX-7 (with Turbo hood and custom wheels)

The next three years, 1990 through 1992, saw little change for Mazda’s exciting two-seater, apart from the GTUs version debuting. Essentially a Turbo model minus the turbo engine, it benefitted from the top dog RX-7’s top shelf underpinnings, such as the upgraded brakes and suspension components.

After seven model years, the second generation RX-7 had run its course. Those wondering how it could be topped would be stunned with what followed for 1993.

Look for Part Two in this series coming soon.

New Podcast – Under The Hood

Blair Garner, host of NASH/America’s Morning Show and newly-named inductee to the Country Radio Hall of Fame, has partnered with Advance Auto Parts to create Under the Hood, a new, custom podcast that is all about cars.

New episodes are released on the last Wednesday of the month, with occasional tips or quick stories released as Blair learns of auto news.  Subscribe to the podcast using the subscribe button below.

Surviving the Rolex

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Surviving the Rolex 24 at Daytona

Enjoying a race on any normal day is an easy task. Scorching heat, pouring rain or similar environmental inconveniences won’t prevent you from enjoying the race. After all, you want to be there. When it’s over in a few hours, you’ll just head home or head out for a bite to eat while traffic dies down. But what happens when the race is more than just a few hours? How about considerably more … such as 24 hours.

Endurance races like the Rolex 24 at Daytona are notorious for being unpredictable. That’s part of their mystique and part of how they’ve earned their place at the top of motorsports totem pole.

Today we’re sharing our top tips for making the most of Rolex, which this year (2016) runs Jan 30 – 31. Common sense helps, except this race is anything but common.

Ponchos. Bring them.

Rain seems to be an every-other-year occurrence, perfectly timed to catch everyone off-guard. Nothing says, “Let’s do this!” like starting off the race drenched to the core. You have 24 hours of racing ahead, and in the lottery that is Florida weather patterns, the potential for wet weather mishaps is real.

Water. Drink it.

While you are busy keeping dry, remember to hydrate. Start well before you get to the track. A $6 concession stand water isn’t fun for anyone, but neither is passing out. There’s a theme here – water can both make and break your Rolex 24 experience, so be prepared.

Sharpies. Leave your mark.

You could use Sharpies for autographs, if you are into that sort of thing. But at Daytona, Sharpies serve another purpose. Use your Sharpie to sign the track, not a hero card. About two hours before the race, find out when and where you need to be to get out for the fan grid walk. See the cars up close, meet the drivers, get some pictures and then go see those high bankings for yourself. And don’t forget to sign the start/finish line.

An old-school battery-powered radio.

Two creature comforts are scarce when you are trackside in Daytona – power and cellular signal. More than 50,000 people will show up to this race, which can overwhelm nearby cell towers. This can make communicating with friends difficult and accessing the IMSA live stream nearly impossible.

However, there is still an old-school AM station you can use to get a more complete picture of the race. If you are parking in the infield (a very popular and highly sought after ticket) just be careful not to drain your car’s battery. Getting roadside service inside the track from an external source can leave you waiting for hours.

Sunscreen. And a good hat.

Lots of people forget that just because it’s nice outside doesn’t mean that the sun can’t get you. A solid sunburn from Saturday makes Sunday morning miserable.

Cash.

While the vendors try their best to take plastic, there’s nothing like going without lunch because no one can get cell service on their wireless card readers. We’ve also seen a few well-placed dollars buy VIP seats on top of enterprising fans’ Winnebagos.

Family and friends.

Bring your friends, family and kids. It’s time to make some memories. 24 hours of racing is best enjoyed with entertaining people by your side. No one believes you when there’s no backup for a crazy race story, so you better have someone along to corroborate those tales. Keep in mind that race cars are LOUD so ear protection for the family is a good idea as well.

Maximize your smiles per hour at this year’s Rolex 24 by getting out there and exploring. We gave you our tips for getting ready, but it’s up to you to explore the new views Daytona built this year. Don’t dwell on the loss of the Party Porch, take the chance to get up high in the stands and find a new view for you.

Look for our reporting from this year’s event, and check out our coverage of last year’s Rolex 24.

 

Editor’s note: Whether you drive a race car or only dream about it, visit Advance Auto Parts for the best in savings and selection for your ride.

Winter Vision – See Better, Drive Safer

Winter products for your vehicle can help you see better, drive safer.

winter visibility shutterstock_671748786519129117As you drive along a road covered with snow, slush and ice-melting chemicals, the wipers swiping intermittently across the windshield to clear the mess and your field of vision, say a quick “thank you” to Mary Anderson and Robert Kearns. Because of these two inventors, today’s drivers can see clearly during rain and snow, but only if they’re showing their wipers, windshield, and lights some love periodically.

If it weren’t for Anderson, an Alabama woman who invented and patented the first windshield wipers, drivers might still be sliding open a portion of the windshield just to have a clear view, much the same way electric street car drivers did in the late 1800s. That scenario inspired Anderson, as she rode in a street car one winter day, to design the first wiper arms. Crafted from rubber and wood, she patented the invention and tried unsuccessfully to sell the design. Her patent expired before she could profit from it however, even though wipers became standard on most vehicles by 1913.

Kearns invented and patented the intermittent wiper system in 1964 and later successfully sued Ford and Chrysler for using his technology after they declined his offer of a licensing agreement. Kearns, his protracted legal battles with the auto manufacturing industry, and the toll it took on his personal life, were chronicled in the movie Flash of Genius. His intermittent wipers first appeared in vehicles in 1969.

This winter, wipers, windshield chemicals, and lights are the key to clear vision and safe driving. Here are some tips that help deliver maximum visibility.

Wiper blades – if the wipers are more than six months old, consider replacing them. Rubber wears out with time and exposure to the environment and can become hard and cracked. Colder temperatures and ice or snow buildup on windows can also hasten the demise of old wiper blades. The trend in wiper blades now is toward the newer “beam” style blades. They’re a better choice for winter because the spring mechanism is concealed and protected from ice and snow, eliminating the chances of a buildup that stops the wiper from working properly.  Beam blades also make more contact with the windshield, reducing wiper chatter and delivering a much clearer wipe in any temperature. While you’re at it, don’t forget the rear window wiper and headlight wipers, if your vehicle is equipped with them.

Windshield chemicals and tools – a quick and efficient way to remove frost and light ice and get your morning commute off to a faster start is to fill your windshield washer reservoir with a de-icing washer fluid. Not only do these types of windshield chemicals melt frozen precipitation, they also help repel dirt and salt from road spray. Treating the windshield’s exterior with a Rain-X glass treatment product also helps repel water, snow, ice and dirt.

For heavier ice and snow, make sure you keep an ice scraper and snow brush in the vehicle to make clearing the windows easier. For SUV’s and trucks, consider purchasing a long-handled snow brush or broom. It enables you to clear the entire windshield without having to switch sides or stand too close to the vehicle and get covered in snow while clearing it. And, before the first frost, check the front and rear window defrosters to ensure they’re working properly.

Lights – shorter days and inclement weather mean more time driving in the dark. Walk around your vehicle to confirm that all its lights, including turn signals and brake lights, are working. Even if your headlights aren’t burned out, you might want to replace them. Headlights dim over time, sometimes by as much as 20 percent. Additionally, old headlights don’t include the recent advances in lighting technology, such as halogen lights, that shine more light on the road and roadsides and enable drivers to see further and with a wider field of vision.

Editor’s note: Lights, chemicals, wipers – Advance Auto Parts has exactly what your vehicle needs. Buy online, pick up in store, get back to the garage, and get through winter.

 

 

Winter Automotive Fluids

Winter automotive fluids can help you and your vehicle continue moving during freezing temperatures.

Winter. You can love it, hate it, or simply tolerate it. No matter which camp you fall into, when it comes to winter driving, we all have one thing in common – the need to be prepared. It doesn’t matter if you’re braving snow and sub-freezing Minnesota temperatures or just colder January days in central Florida. There are several steps you can take to protect your vehicle from winter’s damaging toll, and one of the first should be a thorough review of the winter chemicals and fluids your vehicle needs as temperatures plummet.

Antifreeze – The name says it all. It’s one of the most important winter chemicals because the liquid in an engine’s cooling system is composed of equal parts of water and antifreeze. Depending on the brand, either ethylene glycol or propylene glycol in the antifreeze prevents that water from freezing, expanding, and causing damage to the engine. Periodically, the antifreeze needs to be checked, however, to ensure both strength and quantity. Use an antifreeze tester yourself or take the vehicle to your mechanic to measure the antifreeze’s strength. This test indicates the lowest ambient temperature to which the engine is protected from freezing. Also check the coolant reservoir level to ensure it’s filled to the proper level.

Engine Oil – Cold weather starts can be easier on your engine if you switch to a full-synthetic oil instead of a conventional oil. Many drivers don’t think about oil when it comes to winter driving and winter chemicals, but synthetic oil flows freer at low temperatures and doesn’t require any time to warm up, providing crucial and immediate protection to the engine’s moving parts at start up. Full synthetics – as their name implies – are composed entirely of synthetic oil. This is not oil that’s been pumped from the ground, rather it is a manmade, engineered oil that’s specially formulated with additives to provide improved wear and cleaning properties, along with other performance enhancements. Synthetic blends, on the other hand, consist of synthetic oil coupled with naturally occurring conventional oil. Check with your vehicle manufacturer or trusted mechanic for specific recommendations on which oil is right for your application.

Fuel Injector Cleaner – Winter temperatures can cause winter driving performance issues related to a vehicle’s fuel system. Prevent problems from occurring by using a fuel injector cleaner. Added to the gas tank during a routine fill up, it cleans the injectors, which oftentimes will help restore lost power, improve fuel mileage, and eliminate rough idling and difficulty starting. Water that may be present in the fuel system can also become a problem in the winter when temperatures drop low enough that this water freezes. A good way to prevent fuel-line and system freeze up is by choosing a fuel-injector cleaner such as HEET because it also is designed to be a fuel-system antifreeze and remove water from the fuel system.

If you have a diesel vehicle  remember that diesel fuel lines tend to “Gel” up in the winter time. Adding a product like Diesel 911 can help and often times remedy this issue. For normal maintenance, use our Power Service products to keep your Diesel fuel system operating at peak performance.

While we’re on the subject of diesel, don’t forget:

DEFDiesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is mixture of urea and water that reduces nitrous oxide emissions – an atmospheric pollutant produced during combustion – by breaking down the compound into harmless nitrogen and water. On many passenger and commercial diesel vehicles, a dedicated tank contains the DEF which is automatically metered and sprayed into the emissions system and which needs to be refilled periodically. Many vehicles provide numerous warnings and alerts to prevent DEF levels from being exhausted, and will also perform at significantly restricted levels, or not at all, if DEF is allowed to run out.

Deicing chemicals – You can’t drive your vehicle in the winter if you can’t unlock the doors or see out the window, which makes having lock deicers and windshield deicing fluid must-have winter chemicals. The lock deicer thaws and lubricates door locks, as well as other types of locks, helping prevent damage. The windshield deicer can be used year round, is added to the windshield washer fluid tank and helps remove frost and light ice.

Stay warm, drive safe, and be proactive this winter by taking care of your vehicle before problems strike.

Editor’s note: All the fluids and chemicals your vehicle needs to survive winter are available in one place – Advance Auto Parts. Buy online, pick up in store, and get back to the garage – hopefully one that’s heated.

 

Synthetic Versus Conventional: Which Motor Oil is Best?

shutterstock_663998558539754847As the lubricant for the moving parts of your engine, motor oil is widely considered to be the most important fluid you can use. It prevents excessive engine wear and tear, which makes it vital to keep your car running. So when the time comes to get under the hood do an oil change, you can bet you’ll want to know whether to buy synthetic or conventional oil.

 

What You Need to Know
There are three main types of oil – conventional, synthetic and synthetic blend. Conventional oil is organic—it’s essentially refined crude oil that’s been pumped up from the ground. Synthetic oil is manufactured molecule by molecule, and because of that, synthetics have fewer imperfections in their chemical buildup than conventional does.

In general, synthetic oil outperforms conventional oil on all counts:

  • Synthetic oil works better in extreme temperatures from below freezing to above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Conventional oil is highly reactive to temperatures.
  • Because synthetics have superior lubrication (they’re more slippery), they give you better fuel economy, performance, and even a longer engine life.
  • And best of all, synthetics don’t have to be changed as often. But make sure you meet warranty service mileage intervals regardless.

The only downside to synthetic oil is it costs more than the regular stuff. But before you choose pennies over performance, crunch the numbers—with longer oil change intervals, the price difference might be a wash.
Synthetic blends, or “semi-synthetics”, add synthetic additives to conventional oil and can be a nice compromise between the two. They’re less expensive but provide some of the performance enhancement you get from a synthetic.

These three types of motor oil will work fine in your vehicle as long as they meet current American Petroleum Institute (API) certification and don’t go against the manufacturer’s recommendations. The only type of engine you should never use synthetic oil in is a rotary. Rotary engines have unique seals that are engineered for use with conventional oil only.

Pro Tip: Check that you’re not voiding your warranty by using the wrong oil. Many newer vehicles require that you use synthetic oil and some synthetics aren’t approved for certain diesel engines.

 

The Final Say

When buying oil for your car, the best thing you can do is to follow your manufacturer’s recommendations. So, check that owner’s manual! When you consider that the wrong oil can cause an engine to fail, it pays to take their suggestions seriously. If you have the option to choose between synthetic and conventional and still aren’t sure which to pick, consult a pro—they’ll know what to do.

 

 

Prepare Your Vehicle For Winter

Now is the time to start thinking about winter, and your vehicle.

The temperatures are still warm, the sun still shines brightly, and even though summer has already begun its inevitable march towards fall, no one really wants to think about colder weather, winter driving or winter storage just yet. But right now is exactly when you should be thinking about winter as it relates to your vehicle. Doing so will accomplish several things. One, if you intend to drive your vehicle through the winter, preparing it now will help ensure it makes it through the colder months. Two, if you park your vehicle over the winter – whether it’s a tractor or SUV – winter prep today will enable it to start easily several months down the road.

Vehicles that are going to be stored all winter

Before you park your baby in the garage or barn for the winter months, carve out a few hours to take care of a few essentials.

Fuel preservation – gasoline doesn’t las forever, and when it starts to break down, it can make starting difficult and even damage the vehicle’s fuel system. Gas containing ethanol makes the problem worse, particularly in lawn and garden equipment. To avoid the problem, first consider switching to a fuel that’s 100 percent gasoline with no ethanol added. Second, add a fuel preservative to the gas tank and follow the instructions for using it to prevent fuel breakdown and engine or fuel system damage.

Trickle charger – a battery that isn’t being recharged regularly through everyday use may have difficulty starting several months later after it’s lost some or all of its charge. Be proactive when it comes to your vehicle power and connect the battery to a trickle charger to maintain the charge over winter. Another option is to disconnect the battery from the vehicle to prevent any power draws and to increase safety on older vehicles or lawn or farm e equipment.

Preventive maintenance – don’t wait to take care of maintenance items or something you know needs to be fixed. If you don’t do it now, the problem is still going to be there this spring, slowing you down when you would rather be using your vehicle instead of performing maintenance. For lawn equipment that won’t see the light of day again until the grass starts to green, sharpen the blades, change the oil and filter, install a new spark plug and check tire pressures. For cars, SUVs and farm tractors, test the antifreeze to ensure it will adequately protect the engine down to the lowest expected temperature.

Vehicles that are going to be driven all winter

Visibility – being able to see where you’re going is a top priority no matter what season it is, but in winter, it becomes especially important, and sometimes challenging. Check all the lights to confirm they are working. If your headlights are older, replace the bulbs with new ones that feature improved technology that enables you to see further down the road and to the sides. Replace windshield wipers with winter blades in climates where snow and ice can be expected, and fill the windshield washer tank with a deicing fluid.

Starting – summer’s heat takes a toll on batteries, and that weakness is bound to show up on the first really cold morning when your car won’t start because of a dead battery. Have your battery and charging system tested and replace the battery if it’s weak.

Heat – you and your passengers aren’t the only ones who need heat when driving in colder temperatures. The heat’s also required to defrost windows before and during travel. If you hear strange noises when you turn on the heating and cooling system, or you don’t feel any air moving, there could be a problem with the vehicle’s blower motor. Proper coolant levels and a functioning thermostat are also required for heat. Replace both according to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule.

Traction – snow and ice call for tires with plenty of tread life remaining. Check your tires’ tread depth or have a professional check them for you and consider adding tire chains to your vehicle’s trunk emergency kit.

Whether you’re driving or parking your vehicle through the winter, now is the perfect time to prepare it for spring. By doing so, you’ll save time, money and aggravation later on.

Editor’s note: Whatever parts and supplies you need to prepare your vehicle for winter, Advance Auto Parts has them. Buy online, pick up in store, and get back to the garage.