car tuning

14 Nov 2007

Hesitant drivers.

These really wind me up and are a complete nightmare. They are a danger to themselves and all that they encounter. The typical profile goes something like this:-

  1. They will not pull out onto a main road if they can see another car coming. (The road has to be completely empty for them!)
  2. They will start to pull out and then stop halfway causing an obstruction or overhanging part of the main road.
  3. They will see you coming on the main road, wait, and then pull out in front of you. Rather than picking up speed they will dribble along at a really slow pace with a long line of cars behind them.
  4. At night they will slow to a crawl if there is an oncoming car. Then when the road is clear and you have an opportunity to overtake they pull out into the center of the road!
  5. On roundabouts they will start to pull away then stop dead and will frequently have other drivers going into the back of them. (I know the other drivers are at fault but some blame must be shared by the hesistant driver who stopped for no apparent reason!)
  6. Joining the motorway the hesitant driver will park at the end of the slip lane because he hasn't taken an opportunity to pull out and wait for a long gap in the traffic.

I accept that we all make mistakes and will not admit to being perfect. On a daily commute you often encounter the same cars and when they consistantly do the same things you really start to wonder.

I wish that all drivers were retested every 5-10 years and this will help to keep driving standards focussed in peoples minds. We all pick up bad habits but I'm sure we would all be a little more studious if we knew that we were going to have to face a retest every few years. This test will also get a lot of old (incapable) drivers off the road. It is a hard thing to give up your licence, but when you face a danger to yourself and all those around you it is time to concede that it is time to hang up your driving gloves and hat and take the Bus instead.

13 Nov 2007

Cars don't like sitting around in storage.

One thing I have noticed with all of the cars I have owned is that they like it when you use them regularly. Having owned 2 cars for much of my driving career there was generally a daily runaround and a fun car for the weekends and summertime. Of all the cars I have owned as weekend only cars there were problems attributable to not using it often enough.

Silly things like corrosion acceleration where the rust seems to accelerate quicker, pipes start to split and crack and even quick deterioration of brake disks. When a car is used often it seems to keep all of these things at bay.

Tyre pressure also mysteriously decreases when a car is left standing. Fuel tanks empty. Fuel pumps fail. Doors get stiff and creaky. Electric windows seize up. Air-conditioning systems just refuse to reactivate themselves.

The list goes on and on. I can only conclude that cars are meant to be driven. Now I am running just 1 car my servicing and maintenance costs for the year are less than 30% of what they were for 2 cars.

If you are storing a car. Leave it in a dry garage with the brakes off and chock up the wheels. Running the car once a week and revving the engine to simulate road use rather than letting it idle will help to keep the car in a good condition.

6 Nov 2007

Lambswool car cleaning mitt

Torquecars members like to keep their cars looking clean and shiny. I recently splashed out and bought a lambswool mitt for cleaning my car the other day. I didn't realise that lambs had mitts!

You've probably noticed, especially in sunlight that the surface of your cars paint has swirls and scratched. Very very light scratches are actually caused by the cleaning process. The big culprit is usually the sponge that most people use.

The dirt builds up on the car and then we slap a sponge on it and rub the grit and dirt around and then wonder why it acts like sandpaper. The key is to use something that lifts the dirt away from the cars surface where it can't scratch it and this is where the lambs wool mitt comes in.

If you drop your sponge on the ground this is another opportunity for small particles of scratchy grit to get embedded in it. Also the lower down the body work the larger the grit particles so start at the top and work down the car doing the roof, windows then bonnet and boot then top half of doors and bumpers and finally the bottom quarter of the car. All the while you are moving around the car.

Nothing looks better than a clean car and making sure you have the correct tools will make all of the difference to the finish you get. If the car has already got scratches then you can improve this a little with some cutting polish. In the worst cases though the only thing you can do is get the car resprayed and look after it properly.

5 Nov 2007

Headlight bulbs

The bulb went on the Audi for the second time in a couple of weeks. That will teach me not to use a second hand replacement bulb. This though forced me to go to the shop and buy a new one.

I didn't realise there were so many to choose from. There were economy bulbs, expensive bulbs, high power bulbs, off road bulbs, bulbs with a whiter light and bulbs with a blueish light. This is starting to sound like a washing powder commercial!

To say I was confused would be an understatement, I hadn't even got to the part where I had to get a bulb which was compatible with my car yet. I decided that the blue tint didn't work - the light still looked white. I also rejected any that were not street legal because of the hassle of changing them again at MOT time. I went for some Phillips 80% brighter lights after an hours indecision reading the box and seeing what other people were buying.

I asked if this was the right bulb for my car, and was told it wasn't. When they showed me the recommended bulb I could tell it would not fit my car. So having looked at the 3 sizes available we decided between us that this was the correct one for my car.

Now came the part I always hate, paying for them. I was a little surprised that they cost so much. I could fit energy saving bulbs to my entire house for less money, and still have enough left over for a bag of chips, but I hoped that "one gets what one pays for" applies here also. I fitted the bulb, and although I brought a pair, I just replaced the defective one and left the other bulb in.

I wanted to see if the extra money was actually well spent. I turned on the lights to compare them and walked away from the car. They both seemed pretty dim to me! I had forgot to run the engine. The car only puts its sidelights on without the engine running. So back I went, started the engine and went back to my vantage point.

Was it brighter? Yes, I could clearly determine from a number of angles that the new bulb was indeed brighter! Was it 80% brighter? To be honest I haven't a clue, I might get a light meter on it sometime but visually it was brighter. Now the crunch question was it worth the small mortgage?

I had been hoping for something so bright that people would be opening their curtains and waking up in the mistaken belief it was morning. Alas this did not happen. It was just another car with its headlights on. So in conclusion it was better but probably not £30 better. Go for something better than standard bulbs but bear in mind that nothing is going to be worth more than 30% over the cost of the standard bulb.

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