Top Tailgating Essentials

Tailgate Party PhotosWhen it’s time to tailgate at the big game, I know as well as anyone that you’ve got to have the right gear. We’re huge sports fans in my house, and nothing will take the wind out of your sails like showing up without the proper tailgating accessories.

Now, you might think that you’ve already got all the gear you need, but let me tell you, times have changed. I remember when a tailgate party just meant some cans of your favorite beverage, but these days, folks have taken tailgating to a whole new level. My family always wants to have the coolest tailgate party in the parking lot, and that means keeping up with the latest innovations. If you do it right, trust me, you’ll end up having more fun at the party than ever before.

What I want to do today is share with you what I’ve learned over the years, because I think our household has figured out all the vital pieces of the modern tailgate-party puzzle. Here are my top tailgating essentials that make every game a win for your crew.

Cooler

Need I say more? Cold beverages are the foundation of any great tailgate party, and you’ve got to keep them cold for the whole game. Plus, you need to bring more than enough for everyone involved. So get a big old cooler, fill it with ice, and keep it stocked with your favorite libations. That’s Job No. 1.

Grill

Arguably just as important as the cooler — well, let’s go with “almost” — is the portable grill. You can get all sorts of newfangled grills nowdays, but if you ask me, why mess with success? Just pick up a standard portable grill and a bag of charcoal, and you’ll get great taste and reliable performance, time after time.

Generator

This one’s for when you’re ready to take your tailgating game to the highest level. Anyone can bring a cooler and a grill, but it takes true dedication to bring your own portable generator, too. With a generator, you can power all sorts of handy appliances (including the final two items on this list), and some of the newer ones even have USB connectivity for recharging electronics. You’re in the tailgating big leagues when you show up with one of these.

Inverter

If you don’t want to go with a full-blown generator, consider an inverter, which (if you haven’t heard) is a nifty device that uses your car’s battery power to provide auxiliary power with household-style three-prong outlets. The downside is that if you don’t turn your engine on, you’ll drain your battery after a while — and if you do turn your engine on, the tailgaters might take a bit too much exhaust smoke to the face. But if you think you’ll only need electrical current occasionally at your tailgate parties, an inverter could be a perfect solution. It’s tiny relative to a generator, and it’s just the thing if partiers may need to plug in for short periods.

Blender

The bottles and cans in your cooler are all well and good, but imagine the possibilities if you had a blender, too. You’ve already got ice in the cooler, after all; how about some margaritas for the adults and smoothies for the kids? Plug it into your generator/inverter and you’re good to go. Warning: you might get some unwanted attention from neighboring parties wishing they had a blender of their own.

Wi-Fi Hotspot

Can you imagine a tailgate party without the Internet? I can, of course, because that’s the only kind we used to have! But I know we’re all spoiled today with our phones and iPads and what-have-you, and the best way to ensure that everyone can connect is to bring along a portable wi-fi hotspot. You can find a nice selection at Best Buy, for example, and they’re more or less giving them away if you sign up for a monthly plan. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to have a smartphone that doubles as a hotspot (check with your provider), you’ve already got a solution in your pocket.

Coffeemaker

You’re potentially solving two problems with this generator/inverter-powered machine. First, the games aren’t always exciting from start to finish, so napping partygoers can be a common sight. A cup of joe could be just the thing to help them stay alert. Second, tailgating season stretches through the winter months, and not everyone comes prepared with their subzero jackets and gloves. If you’re not already the most popular tailgater in town, you’re going to be when your friends find out you’re serving piping hot coffee on demand.

Your Turn

I know I’m not the only seasoned tailgater around these parts. What are your top tailgating essentials that I didn’t mention? Let’s hear about them in the comments.

Editor’s note: Visit Advance Auto Parts for a top selection of generators and inverters, plus the essential parts to help get you to the game.

Top 10 Winter Prep Tips for Your Vehicle

Windshield WipersUse this checklist to avoid getting left out in the cold.

Don’t make winter any harder than it has to be – on yourself or your vehicle. To keep your car running reliably this winter, spend a little time on preventive maintenance before that chill in the air turns into a polar vortex.

Here’s a checklist of 10 important maintenance items to take care of now, so your vehicle can take care of you later. While you may be familiar with several, there may be some surprises on the list.

1. Radiator cap – while it’s a simple and inexpensive part, the radiator cap plays a critically important role in your heating and cooling system – not the least of which is keeping the antifreeze in your vehicle, where it should be. A leaking radiator cap can cause the engine to overheat and allow antifreeze to leak, neither of which are good scenarios for winter-weather driving. Take a close look around the radiator cap for signs of leaking fluid. To be on the safe side, if the vehicle radiator cap is several years old, replace it with a new one. The five or six bucks you may invest are well worth the peace of mind and performance you get in return. There is a lot more information available about a radiator cap’s importance.

2. Thermostat – another inexpensive, yet critically important component of your vehicle heating and cooling system is the thermostat. If it’s not functioning properly, you might find yourself without heat. That’s because thermostats can fail, particularly if the coolant hasn’t been changed regularly and corrosion has appeared. Change the thermostat, and change your odds having a warm interior all winter long.

3. Undercar – your vehicle ground clearance could decrease this winter, but only because the road surface might be rising up to meet you in the form of snow drifts or boulder-like chunks of snow and ice. Take a quick look under your car and search for any loose plastic panels related to aerodynamics that might have come loose and are dangling, as well as any exhaust system parts that look like they’re hanging particularly low.

4. Tire Pressure – temperatures aren’t the only thing going down in winter. For every 10-degree drop in air pressure, it’s estimated that tire pressure decreases by one pound. In a tire that’s only supposed to hold 35 pounds of pressure, colder temperatures can translate to a significant tire-pressure deficit. Underinflated tires wear faster, hurt fuel economy, and can reduce handling and traction. Check them with a tire pressure gauge.

5. Headlights – even if they haven’t burned out, it may be time to replace them. Did you know that headlight bulbs dim over time? Couple that with the haze that may have developed on your plastic headlight covers and you could be driving with significantly less light, and reduced down road vision. Change your headlights and restore your headlight covers, and see further.

6. Oil – if you’re not using synthetic oil, consider switching. It flows more freely at lower temperatures, making for easier starts and less engine wear.

7. Tire Tread Depth – tires that are showing their age with the telltale sign of little to no remaining tread depth aren’t a good way to head into winter. Tires are your first line of defense when it comes to gaining traction in snow and ice, and worn tires make that job harder. Take a minute to measure your tire tread depth.

8. Windshield deicer – decrease the amount of time you’re out in the cold, trying to scrape your windshield, and increase your visibility with windshield deicer. To see clearly, you need an ice-free windshield, and this is the quickest way to get it.

9. Antifreeze – not only will it help prevent heating and cooling system corrosion in every season, antifreeze also protects your engine in frigid temperatures, if it’s at the proper level and strength. And that’s not all. Having the proper level of antifreeze is a must have if you want the level of heat you’ve come to expect.

10. Emergency Kit – even a new or well-maintained vehicle can experience trouble, and if it does let you down, you should be prepared with an emergency kit to help see you through in case you’re stranded for a few minutes or even a few hours.

As an experienced driver and quite possibly someone who’s pretty seasoned at working on their own vehicle, you’re probably already familiar with the usual suspects that can cause winter driving problems. Even so, it doesn’t hurt for a quick review of your battery and  windshield wipers as the final step in your winter driving preparation checklist.

Chances are, you and your vehicle will get through winter just fine. All it takes is a little time and commitment in the garage now, instead of wishing you had later on.

Editor’s note: Drive safe and warm this winter with parts and accessories from Advance Auto Parts. Buy online, pick up in store, in 30 minutes.

The End of the Honda VTEC Era

2001 red Honda PreludeI gotta admit, I’m biased when it comes to DOHC VTEC Hondas, because I’ve owned two of the best. I got my first taste with a 1995 Acura Integra GS-R, and I still can’t get the sound of that little 1.8-liter motor with the 8,100-rpm redline out of my head. Then I moved on to the “luxury coupe,” a 2001 Honda Prelude, which redlined at a comparatively meek 7,400 rpm but had other stuff going for it that the Integra lacked. These were great, great cars — stylish, fun and relentlessly reliable.

And we’ll never see the likes of them again, because Honda has turned its back on that whole scene. The Prelude was quietly put out to pasture in 2001, having become too refined and expensive for its own good. The Integra kept kicking for a while as the Acura RSX (it was still called “Integra” in other markets), but 2006 marked the end of the line. For a few more years, the Honda Civic Si carried the torch with its sweet 2.0-liter motor, a high-revving marvel that reminded me very much of the Integra GS-R’s 1.8. But these days the Civic Si uses a warmed-over Accord engine. FAIL.

The Honda VTEC era is gone, and it’s not coming back.

But we can still remember the good times, right?

Ride along with me as I reflect on what made my DOHC VTEC cars so special.

1994 Acura Integra GS-R

1994 Acura Integra GS-RFirst of all, as soon as the second-generation GS-R came out in ’94, I remember lusting after those shiny five-spoke wheels. Man, Honda knew how to do alloy wheels back in the day, didn’t they? Admittedly, the rest of the car’s looking a bit dated. It’s got that bubbly 1990s look going on from some angles. But I actually dig the four round headlights, even though a lot of owners swapped them out for the JDM lenses. And from the back, the GS-R still looks pretty purposeful with its standard spoiler and wide taillights.

Inside, my GS-R had flawless leather buckets, but let’s face it: this car wasn’t about creature comforts. The road noise at speed was literally deafening, at least temporarily — I’d be a little hard of hearing when I got out after a long trip. As for the ride quality, a friend of mine once called it “skateboard-like.” Really, the best thing about the interior was the hatchback trunk; you could fold those rear seatbacks down and fit your whole life in there if you had to.

VTEC Acura IntegraBottom line, the Integra GS-R was all about what was under the hood. The dual-overhead cam (“DOHC”) 1.8-liter inline-4 was rated at 170 horsepower, falling just short of the magical 100 hp/L threshold. Torque was a paltry 127 pound-feet, and that was always the knock against the DOHC VTEC motors, but let me tell you, it didn’t matter in this car. The power ramped up steadily all the way to 8,100 rpm, with the VTEC crossover at 4,400 rpm producing a growl that gave way to a motorcycle-like scream toward to the end. Known to fans by the internal code “B18C1,” the GS-R’s engine was only offered with an incredibly precise five-speed manual transmission, and they were a perfect pairing — the short gears helped keep the revs high, and the pedals were ideally placed for heel-toe downshifts.

Nowadays, turbocharged fours are all the rage because of their supposed fuel-economy benefits, but did I mention that I got 37 mpg on the highway in my GS-R?

Throw in legendary reliability and low maintenance costs, and you’ve got an all-time great. There’ll never be another car like it.

2001 Honda Prelude

2001 Honda PreludeThe angular, understated Prelude was a different beast — a gentleman’s  sport compact. With its long nose and short deck, the 2001 ‘Lude could almost pass for rear-wheel-drive, its extended front overhang being the only real giveaway. It was a classy car, especially with the beautiful alloy wheels shown here. With the Integra, you expected a kid to be driving it, and it was normal to see an enormous spoiler tacked on the back. But the ‘Lude appealed to everyone. I’ve seen a handful of white-haired old guys driving bone-stock models, and that doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Inside, the fifth-gen Prelude served up an inviting mix of quality materials and subtle, ergonomic design. You had all the controls you needed, and no more. People used to say Honda was the Japanese BMW (hard to believe today, right?), and this dashboard is a case in point. Everything was right where it needed to be, and the simple layout aged really well — I never felt like I was driving an old car, even when it was an old car.

VTEC Honda PreludeOn the road, the Prelude was significantly quieter than the GS-R, though I wouldn’t exactly call it quiet per se. The general comfort level was a lot higher. Really good stereo, too — so much better than the Integra’s clock-radio-quality sound. But it still handled great, albeit with slightly slower reflexes. I wish I’d been able to find a suitable Type SH with its torque-transfer system, because my base car understeered a lot if I entered a corner too hot. But I always had a blast on twisty roads nonetheless.

The fifth-gen Prelude’s engine was a torque monster by DOHC VTEC standards, cranking out 156 lb-ft along with a healthy 200 hp. To be honest, I liked the GS-R’s engine better. The ‘Lude’s 2.2-liter four-cylinder, a.k.a. “H22A4,” had a Jekyll and Hyde character, coming on real strong all of a sudden at 5,200 rpm. I preferred the way the GS-R’s motor smoothed the VTEC transition out. But the H22 made a great snarl, and the five-speed shifter was lighter than the GS-R’s, gliding friction-free from gate to gate.

If you wanted genuine Honda performance without the boy-racer looks, the fifth-gen Prelude was the ultimate solution.

Epilogue

Honda VTECs used to rule the street, and for good reason. It’s sad to me that those days are never coming back. Did you ever have a DOHC VTEC car? I know we’d all love to hear your story in the comments.

Editor’s note: If you’ve got a street import in your driveway, hit up Advance Auto Parts for the best values and selection. Buy online, pick up in-store in 30 minutes.

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.

 

 

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.

If you’re an automotive obsessive…read on!

What does it take to own one of the finest performance automobile collections in the world? We sat down with Ken Lingenfelter to find out.

Photo credit: The Lingenfelter Collection.

Photo credit: The Lingenfelter Collection.

Many of you will recognize the name Ken Lingenfelter from the bonkers twin turbo Corvettes bearing his surname and family legacy that have dominated drag strips and track events for more than 25 years. But what you may not know is that he is the owner of one of the most comprehensive collections of performance automotive engineering in existence–The Lingenfelter Collection.

Ken Lingenfelter was–in his own words–“destined to be a car guy.” Today he owns more than 225 of the world’s most awe-inspiring cars, from a Bugatti Veyron to a Ferrari Enzo and from a Lamborghini Reventón to much, much more.

So, it’s hard to dispute his destiny. But, we at Advance Auto Parts wanted to delve into that statement a little more deeply–and here’s what we found out.

It all started with Matchbox cars

“By the time I was four or five,” Ken tells us, “I knew the make and model of every car that drove by and I may have had more Matchbox cars than any other kid in the country.”

His father was an executive at General Motors. He would come for dinner and then, afterwards, Ken would go back to the factory with him, where he absorbed the atmosphere of car development and testing.

“And then,” Ken says in a reverent voice. “And then, when I was ten years old, I saw a ’63 split window Corvette. If I wasn’t a 100% car guy before that, I sure was then.”

Ken’s love of vehicles continued through high school, when he was suspended for drag racing in front of the building (true story) and where he loved tearing down engines and rebuilding them in shop class. And, once that kind of passion hits, you just can’t, as Ken puts it, “shed it.”

From a few cars in a garage to a car collection

Some of the earliest cars that he owned include a ’77 Corvette Coupe and a 1969 Jaguar XKE (the latter of which is now gone to make room for other spectacular vehicles).  Before he knew it, he had 25 cars that he stored in a warehouse.

“I had a pretty successful business,” he says, “and I sold it in 2003. I then bought Lingenfelter Performance Engineering [in 2008] and that gave me the opportunity to do much more and I ramped up collecting at that point.”

Lingenfelter Performance Engineering was previously owned by a distant cousin of Ken’s, John Lingenfelter–who won 13 NHRA national titles before dying of race-related injuries.

At the same time that Ken was purchasing Lingenfelter Performance Engineering , he decided he wanted a venue to help raise funds for charity, so he added to the warehouse, going straight back, so that the 12,000 square foot space was now 40,000 square feet. “My goal was to have a space big enough that we’d never have to move one car to get another one out,” Ken says. “But, that didn’t last long.”

Not 150 cars, 225 cars (but who’s counting?)

Although many sources online state that Ken owns approximately 150 cars in his car collection, he says that is inaccurate. In fact, he has more than 225 world-class vehicles; perhaps the confusion arises because only 160 to 170 of these cars can fit into the main warehouse during non-profit events. The rest need stored in an overflow facility located down the street.

Photo credit: The Lingenfelter Collection.

Photo credit: The Lingenfelter Collection.

 

“There are themes in my collection,” Ken says. “For example, I like GM products. I’m a GM guy. So that’s one theme. Approximately 30% of my vehicles are muscle cars and 30% are exotics. I love Corvettes and Lingenfelter race cars, especially ones that set records. We currently have two drag cars that attract a lot of attention. When people come to our place for charity events, they’ll say that those cars look familiar–and they should, since they’ve been out at the drag strips.”

Because he owns more cars than can fit comfortably into the main building during an event, he can customize which ones appear at a particular get-together. “We’re looking to display cars that will attract people, so if a Corvette group is having an event, as just one example, we’ll show more Corvettes.”

Did we say 225 cars? We meant 225+ cars (and growing!)

So, is Ken done buying? The short answer is “no.” The longer answer is as follows: “I’m going to keep going. I’m always looking, always trying to find something unique, such as one-off cars, something that’s a little wild in styling or a car that raced and set records. Because of that, eBay is tough to stay off of.”

One car in particular that has his eye, at the time of writing this post, is the 1988 Callaway Sledgehammer Corvette that his cousin John drove to set a world record in speed for a street driven, street legal car: 254.76 miles per hour. “John put his life on the line to set that record,” Ken says, “so I’d really like it. But it may go for more at auction than I’m willing to pay. We’ll see.”

The Callaway Sledgehammer is up for auction by Mecum Auctions in Kissimmee, Florida.

Using the car collection for good

“I’ve seen a lot of need in my life,” Ken says, explaining why he decided to build a venue that could be opened up for charitable events, “and now we have a venue where charities can hold fun events. I’m pleasantly surprised that all has worked out so well. We often focus on kids’ charities and hold major holiday events. Overall, these events range from black tie affairs to a Saturday night car club hangout.”

During one event that lasted from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., approximately 4,000 people filed through to ooh and aah over the cars. “That was pretty overwhelming,” Ken admits, “and a little scary at times. Fortunately the group kept moving through and now we know to limit the number of people.”

So, what does Ken do while these events go on? He helps, of course, however he can–and then does one more thing. “Since I’m a car geek,” he admits, “I like to look at people’s cars as they come in.”

Sometimes he sends cars to showcase at events, such as local car shows and charity events. “I get asked quite a bit,” he says, “and it’s hard to say no. Plus, you can’t just have cars sit. It can ruin them.”

What are Ken Lingenfelter’s favorites?

 

Photo credit: The Lingenfelter Collection.

Photo credit: The Lingenfelter Collection.

 

Ken loves Ferraris (the Ferrari Enzo is “truly” one of his favorites), he loves Corvettes, he loves the Porsche. “There is a car called LaFerrari that is coming out this year that will be a supercar. Ferrari selected people to sell them to and I was on the short list. In fact, I was one of the first 20 people to be picked so I’ve got one coming. It’s the ultimate in supercars.”

The LaFerrari is not just another supercar. It’s a hybrid 963 horsepower hypercar limited to only 499 planned production models. Looks like Mr. Lingenfelter’s car collection just even got more bonkers.

Editor’s note: What types of cars do you (or would you) collect? Let us know in the comments below. Also, visit Advance Auto Parts for the best tools and parts to keep your ride running right–whatever it may be.

Tips on how to jump start a car

Advance Auto PartsBefore missing that important meeting, being late to pick the kids up from school or enduring first date embarrassment when you need to call to ask to be picked up, take the time to learn the basics of how to jump start a car battery yourself.

Many people are surprised at how easy it is to learn how to get car batteries running again, and quickly become confident in what to do if a battery gives out at a bad time.

Jump start with the following steps:

1)   First, park a working vehicle next to your car. It’s best to line them up side by side or hood to hood, but be sure they don’t touch. Then, turn off your car’s ignition and also turn off any accessories in your car such as a CD player, phone charger, dome light and so forth. Check to make sure your external lights are off, too, which can drain car batteries further.

2)   Then, with your jumper cables, connect the red positive clamp to your dead battery’s positive post. This is clearly marked by a plus sign on your car’s battery. Then, connect the other red clamp to the positive post on the good battery in the other vehicle.

3)   Next, make sure the cables are out of the car’s hood components and not tangled in any way. They should run along the ground and not rest on the battery itself, the engine or any other internal component of either vehicle.

4)   Take the black clamp and connect it to the good battery’s negative post. Then, connect the other black clamp (also known as the negative clamp) to any metal surface onto the inside of the dead car. Carefully check the cables entirely to be sure they are not lying against or tangled up with any moving parts of either vehicle.

5)   Start up the engine of the working car and let it idle for a few minutes. Then, start your dead car and wait a few more minutes for it to receive a bit more power from the good battery. If it is still unable to start up, give the battery a few more minutes to revive.

6)   When the car is started, undo the BLACK NEGATIVE clamps first. This should be the reverse order of how you placed them on the car and it’s essential you remove the negative ones first to avoid injury or damage. Continue to be careful to keep dangling cables out of the car’s internal parts.

7)   Drive your revived car around for a bit to make sure the battery is working properly. Do this in a parking lot or another area where you are safe if your car battery dies again.

8)   Do not turn off your vehicle until it’s had adequate time to run and recharge a bit on its own.

It’s really that simple to revive your car battery, and almost anyone can learn how to do it.

Also watch a video on how to jump start a car battery, created by automotive experts at Advance Auto Parts.

Editor’s note: Visit Advance Auto Parts for more info on the quality car battery options available.

Storing Your Car for the Winter

Advance Auto PartsAre the winters warm where you live? If so, you’re among the lucky few, because most of us have to deal with freezing temperatures, snowstorms, salted roads and the rest of it. That’s why it makes sense for snow-belt residents to store nonessential vehicles for the winter. You’ll still need your daily driver to get around, of course, but it’s best not to tackle winter roads in your weekend cruiser, whether it’s a classic convertible or a contemporary sports car.

So when you’re ready to put your pride and joy away till spring, check out my five essential tips for winter car storage. As long as you follow these five steps, your ride should fire right up when you’re reunited in the spring. Did I forget anything? Go ahead and tell me in a comment if you think I left out an important step.

1. Fill the gas tank and add fuel stabilizer

This may seem counterintuitive, since the car won’t be going anywhere for months. But if you store a car for the winter with a partially or mostly empty gas tank, condensation can form inside the tank, and you also run the risk of drying out the seals. So fill up that tank before you park it, and here’s another winter car care tip: don’t forget to add a fuel stabilizer like Sta-Bil so that the gas will stay fresh.

2. Connect your battery to a trickle charger

Your battery will inevitably go dead during winter car storage if you just leave it the way it is, and cold temperatures might knock it out for good, so you’ll need to take preemptive action. Some mechanics suggest taking the battery out altogether, but I’m not a fan of that; you lose all your electronic settings, for one thing, and for another, who knows what computer system you might mess up if it’s a modern car? What I recommend for winter car battery maintenance is picking up a “trickle charger” and making sure you run it at regular intervals to keep the battery charged. This lets you keep the battery hooked up in the car without any risk that it’ll wear itself out.

3. Overinflate your tires or remove the wheels altogether

If you let your car sit in the same spot for three or four months without preparing the tires, you’re bound to get flat spots. So here’s the deal: if you’ve got modern radial tires, add an extra 5-10psi of air for the winter–and if you’ve got old-school bias ply tires, put the car on jack stands, take the wheels off and stack them in a corner. For full protection, consider doing the same with radials, too. Hey, you’ll thank me come spring when you’re the only one who doesn’t need a replacement set of tires.

4. Keep the parking brake off

Here’s a little thing that a lot of people forget about. If you park a car for months with the emergency brake engaged, the e-brake could get stuck to the rotors and warp them, wreaking havoc on your braking performance. Just get some wheel chocks instead and stick one behind each wheel–problem solved.

5. Drive it ASAP!

I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, but seriously, don’t wait a minute longer than you have to. Cars like to be driven, and months of solitary confinement isn’t their idea of a good time. I’m not talking about a little trip around the block, either; when you drive a car that’s been in winter car storage, you’ll want to mix in plenty of highway driving to get the operating temperature up and circulate those fluids through the engine. Speaking of fluids, you’ll definitely want to get an oil change as soon as you take your car out of hibernation, but I’ll have more to say about that when I revisit this topic in the spring.

How about you–what are you planning to do when you store your car for the winter? Let me know; I always like to hear about what other mechanics next door are up to.

Editor’s note: visit Advance Auto Parts for a wide selection of quality auto parts and accessories. Buy online, pick up in store.

Graphic courtesy of Carpediem Mag.

Peace of mind with FREE electrical testing*

Advance Auto PartsWhile no one “invented” electricity, geniuses such as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla made amazing strides in harnessing it for human use and convenience. In fact, much of your car’s operation relies upon electricity, which includes your battery, starter and alternator–and much frustration occurs when any of these systems don’t have enough power.

Avoid the frustration through free electrical testing at Advance Auto Parts stores.

Auto battery testing

We’ve all heard horror stories about dead batteries, often in miserably cold (or hot!) weather and/or at a time when the driver needed to be somewhere, stat. Maybe it’s happened to you.

To prevent such scenarios, have your battery tested at Advance Auto Parts. It’s fast and it’s free, and will help to save you from being stranded.

Starter testing

If your engine is turning too slowly when you’re trying to start your vehicle and/or if it’s making some scary noises–or if you just want to be proactive about your electrical testing–stop by Advance Auto Parts today.

As far back as 1952, Popular Mechanics recognized the starter as a car’s “nervous system” and acknowledged that it’s the system that’s “most taken for granted” in a vehicle. Don’t make that mistake. Request starter testing at Advance Auto Parts today.

Alternator testing

The alternator transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy and works with the battery to power areas of a vehicle that rely upon electricity. It’s possible that your car will continue to run for a short amount of time, even after the alternator goes bad–that is, until the power stored in the battery is used up.

So, when your battery “dies,” it may in fact be an alternator problem. Ask for alternator testing at your local Advance Auto Parts store to keep track of this vital car part.

Get peace of mind by having alternator, starter and battery testing done on your vehicle today.

Find the Advance Auto Parts store closest to you now.

 

*Free services available for most automotive vehicles, most locations, unless prohibited by law. Free installation with purchase only. Visit your local Advance Auto Parts store for complete details.

Auto battery recycling made easy

Advance Auto PartsWhen it’s time to replace your battery, it’s important to recycle your old one. That’s because auto batteries are basically made from three elements: acid, plastic and lead – and, when they are improperly disposed of, the chemicals and heavy metals found within them can seep into soil and contaminate groundwater, streams and lakes. If burned, these noxious substances pollute the air.

These chemicals and heavy metals can have dangerous consequences for people’s health and the environment alike. Because of these dangers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helped to pass the Battery Act in May 1996 to encourage recycling of old batteries.

Fortunately, it’s easy to be green: you can simply drop your old battery off at the local Advance Auto Parts store (most vehicles, most locations, unless prohibited by law) and we’ll take care of the rest.

The battery recycling process

According to the Battery Council International, the first step in recycling auto batteries is smashing them to smithereens using a device called, appropriately enough, a hammermill. The pieces of the batteries go into a container, with the heavier materials, including lead, falling to the bottom and the plastic staying at the top. The plastic is removed and liquids siphoned.

A recycler then melts the plastic pieces and extrudes them into pellets. The pellets are sold to manufacturers who make new batteries out of them. Lead pieces are smelted and then poured into ingots, which are also sent to manufacturers for use in new batteries. The acid becomes neutralized with the addition of an industrial product that turns it into water; the water is treated before being released into sewer systems. The acid can also be turned into sodium sulfate that can be used in multiple ways, including glass and textile manufacturing, or in the making of new auto batteries.

This is considered a closed loop system, because it can be repeated over and over again, allowing new products to be made from the old.

Legal matters

Auto battery recycling is a great move for the environment, but it’s also smart from a legal sense. Thirty states, according to National Geographic’s Green Living site, ban people from throwing away lead batteries in their trash.

Automotive oil recycling

Advance Auto Parts also recycles used motor oil. And, according to the American Petroleum Institute and quoted by the Environmental Protection Agency (AAP), “Recycling just 2 gallons of used oil can generate enough electricity to run the average household for almost 24 hours.”

Editor’s note: Learn more more about automotive oil recycling, plus save with Advance’s Oil Change Specials.