Brake Pad Replacement: What Are Anti-Lock Brake Systems?

Many people know Anti-Lock Brake Systems as ABS. This is a system that has been installed on most cars since the early 1920′s that was developed for aircraft. Vehicles only experienced the first ABS in the 1960′s.

The purpose of them was to control the car easier around corners. It also has various electronics that prevents the car experience wheel lock up. ABS is known to be a safety feature on all cars and it is standard to have the system installed by law to protect drivers.

ABS usually comes into place when the wheels lock up when applying the brakes rapidly. This system allows you to steer even when you are braking. This gives you the control you need as a driver.

Anti-Lock Brake Systems also prevent the car from skidding whilst braking. Any driver will know how dangerous this could be especially to pedestrians. Whilst skidding you also lose the ability to steer which removes your title as the driver but with ABS you get can grab hold of the wheel and avoid hitting what you were avoiding in the first place.

ABS works wonders as a traction controller. Sometimes in harsh weather conditions such as rain and snow, the wheels struggle to grip the road. The system helps the car to gain traction to continue driving comfortably.

A new system is also being developed for most cars. With the electronics and intelligence of the ABS engineers have invented automatic or self-braking. This uses the ABS software and a radar located in the front of the car to detect if the vehicle is about to collide with an object or another car. Of course, the system will alert the driver but if the driver does not react to the stationery object, the car will automatically stop.

Did you know that off-road cars have the function to turn the ABS off? The system doesn’t work so well on terrain such as sand and rock. The off-road car also needs to grip onto the rocks and the Braking system prevents the driver from doing this effectively.

All systems on your car have to be maintained and serviced at all times. ABS allows a smoother drive and a safer car in the end. To get the Anti-Lock Brake System checked you need to visit your closest brake pad replacement workshop to ensure that you and your passengers are safe on the roads.

Electric and Hybrid Cars – The Wave of The Future

It seems like we’ve been waiting forever for electric cars to come along, but after more false starts than you’ll see at the London Olympics this year, it looks like the electric car is finally here to stay.

Now, we need to start with some boring terminology: A true electric car (EV, for Electric Vehicle) has no petrol engine as backup, so you are reliant on the batteries having enough charge to get you to where you need to go. The Nissan Leaf is the best-known (and best) electric car currently on sale.

A regular hybrid uses an electric motor and/or a petrol motor, depending on the circumstances. You don’t plug it into a wall socket as the batteries charge while you are driving. A typical journey, even a short one, will use both electric and petrol power to drive the wheels. The Toyota Prius is the most popular and best-known hybrid on sale around the world.

A plug-in hybrid, “range-extending” electric car, is technically more of a fancy hybrid than a true EV although it drives more like an EV than a regular hybrid. In practice it might be a huge difference or none at all, depending on how you use the car. A range-extender, or plug-in hybrid as it’s more commonly known, has a petrol engine which can be used to power the electric motor once the batteries have drained, but the petrol engine does not directly drive the wheels*. The Vauxhall Ampera/Chevrolet Volt twins are the leading example of this type of car, and they claim an urban fuel consumption of 300mpg (yep, that’s three hundred. Not a typo!)

A car running on an electric motor is usually very quiet (eerie silence or a distant hum instead of a clearly audible petrol engine) and smooth (no vibrations from engine or gearbox). The response from the car away from rest is both immediate and powerful, as electric motors generate huge amounts of torque instantly. They’re quiet from the outside to, to such an extent that the EU is considering making audible warnings compulsory in the future as pedestrians simply won’t hear an electric car coming.

In terms of exciting handling, electric cars are usually not brilliant, it must be said. They tend to be very heavy and usually run tyres & wheels more beneficial for economy than handling. But as a commuter vehicle around town, they are zippy and efficient. Plus they generate less noise, heat and pollution into the street so a traffic jam of Nissan Leafs in the city would be a lot more pleasant for passing pedestrians.

The batteries on a typical electric car only give it enough range for a few miles (although a true EV will have a bigger battery pack as it doesn’t have to fit a petrol engine & fuel tank as well), so the cars use various means to charge the battery while driving. Usually this involves converting kinetic energy from coasting and braking to electric energy to store in the batteries. The Fisker Karma even has solar cells in its roof to charge the batteries as well.

However, a longer journey will inevitably mean that the batteries are drained. In a fully electric car that means you have to stop and charge the batteries, so hopefully you parked near a power socket somewhere and have several hours to find something else to do. In a hybrid, the petrol engine will start up to provide the power. In a regular hybrid like a Prius, the car effectively becomes an ordinary petrol car, albeit with a fairly underpowered engine pushing a heavy car around so it’s not swift. In a ‘range extender’ like the Ampera/Volt, the petrol engine provides energy to the electric motor to drive the wheels, which is more efficient in both performance and economy. Depending on how you’re driving, any spare energy from the petrol engine can be used to charge up the batteries again, so the car may switch back to electric power once charging is complete.

So what does this mean in the real world?

Well, how much of the following driving do you do? We’re assuming here that the batteries are fully charged when you set off.

Short trips (<50 miles between charges).

These sort of journeys are ideal for electric cars and plug-in hybrids, as the batteries will cope with the whole journey and also get some charge while you drive. A regular hybrid will still need to use the petrol engine, although how much depends on how you drive it and how much charging it is able to get along the way.

Medium trips (50-100 miles between charges).

These are the sorts of trips that give EV drivers plenty of stress, as the traffic conditions may mean you run out of juice before you make it to your charging point. A plug-in hybrid or regular hybrid will be fine because they can call on the petrol engine. In a regular hybrid, this means the car will be petrol powered for most of the journey. In a plug-in hybrid, it will be mainly electric with the petrol engine kicking in to top up the batteries if needed late in the journey.

Longer trips (100+ miles between charges)

Not feasible in a fully-electric car, as you will almost certainly run out of electricity before you get there. The regular hybrid is basically a petrol car for almost the whole journey and the plug-in hybrid is majority electric but supplemented by petrol in a far more efficient way than a regular hybrid.

The pros and cons:

Let’s summarise the three types of electrically-powered cars:

Regular hybrid (eg – Toyota Prius)

PROS: cheaper, no charging required, no range anxiety, regular petrol engine makes it feel like a regular petrol car

CONS: only very short journeys (a few miles at best) will be fully electric, small battery pack and weak petrol engine means relatively poor performance compared to a normal petrol car or a fully electric car, poor economy when driven hard (like most Prius minicabs in London…), not very spacious for passengers and luggage due to carrying petrol and electric powertrains in one car

Fully electric car (EV) (eg – Nissan Leaf)

PROS: powerful electric motor gives much better performance than a regular hybrid, larger battery pack means longer electric running, no petrol engine reduces weight and frees up a lot of space, £5000 government rebate, electricity is cheaper and usually less polluting than petrol, privileged parking spaces in certain public places

CONS: Still expensive despite rebate, minimal range capability due to lack of petrol engine backup, resulting range anxiety is a real issue for drivers, question marks over battery life, technology advances will make next generation massively better and hurt resale value, some driving adaptation required, lengthy recharging required after even a moderate drive

Plug-in Hybrid / range-extender (eg – Vauxhall Ampera)

PROS: powerful electric motor and backup petrol engine give best combination of performance and range, most journeys will be fully electric which is cheaper than petrol, no range anxiety, privileged parking spaces in certain public places

CONS: Very expensive despite rebate, question marks over battery life and resale value, wall socket charging is still slow, lack of space and very heavy due to having petrol engine and fuel tank as well as electric motor and batteries.

Electric Car Economics – is it all worth it?

For most people, an electric vehicle is difficult to justify on pure hard-headed economics. Even with a £5,000 rebate from the government, an electric car is expensive. A Nissan Leaf starts at £31,000, so after the government gives you £5K you have spent £26K on a car which would be probably worth about £15K if it had a normal petrol engine. That could conceivably buy you a decade’s worth of fuel! And there are still question marks hovering over the long-term reliability of batteries and resale value, which may bite you hard somewhere down the line

Electric Cars and the Environment

Buying a hybrid or electric car because you think you’re helping the environment may not be helping that cause as much as you think, if at all. Producing car batteries is a dirty and complicated process, and the net result is that there is a significantly higher environmental impact in building an electric or hybrid car than building a regular petrol or diesel car. So you’re starting behind the environmental eight-ball before you’ve even driven you new green car.

Beware of “zero emissions” claims about electric vehicles, because most electricity still comes from fossil fuel sources (like gas or coal) rather than renewable sources, so you are still polluting the atmosphere when you drive, albeit not as much and the effects are not as noticeable to you. If you have your own solar panels or wind farm to power your car, this is much more environmentally friendly.

Range anxiety

The biggest electric car turn-off for car buyers (other than the high purchase price) is the joint problem of very limited range and very slow recharging. In a petrol or diesel car, you can drive for a few hundred miles, pull into a petrol station and five minutes later you are ready to drive for another few hundred miles. In an electric car, you drive for 50-100 miles, then have to stop and charge it for several hours to drive another 50-100 miles.

If you only take short journeys and can keep the car plugged in whenever it stops (usually at home or work), this may never be a problem. But you can’t expect to jump in the car and drive a couple of hundred miles, or get away with forgetting to plug the car in overnight after a journey. You have to be much more disciplined in terms of planning your driving, and allow for recharging. Away from home this is still a big problem as there are relatively few power sockets available in public parking areas for you to use.

A plug-in hybrid like the Vauxhall Ampera/Chevrolet Volt gets around the range anxiety problem, as does a normal hybrid like a Toyota Prius, but you are carting a petrol engine (and fuel) around all the time which you may not need, adding hundreds of kilos of weight and taking up lots of space, so it’s a compromise.

So as you can see from all of the above, it’s not at all straightforward. You need to carefully consider what sort of driving you will be doing and what you need your car to be able to do.

*there is a complicated technical argument about whether the Ampera/Volt’s petrol engine directly drives the wheels under certain circumstances, but it’s really boring and doesn’t really make any difference to how the car drives.

Stuart Masson is founder and owner of The Car Expert, a London-based independent and impartial car buying agency for anyone looking to buy a new or used car.

Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for nearly thirty years, and has spent the last seven years working in the automotive retail industry, both in Australia and in London.

Stuart has combined his extensive knowledge of all things car-related with his own experience of selling cars and delivering high levels of customer satisfaction to bring a unique and personal car buying agency to London. The Car Expert offers specific and tailored advice for anyone looking for a new or used car in London.

Upgrade With an Android Navigation Head Unit – Say Goodbye to the Factory Car Stereo

Does your factory car stereo look plain and boring or maybe it lacks important features such as navigation? Outdated car stereos don’t serve much of a purpose. Most of them don’t have navigation systems and play only radio and CD music. Upgrade your factory car stereo with an Android aftermarket navigation head unit to experience the best of today’s technology.

Replace your outdated head unit for more high-tech functionality. Automotive navigation systems are an essential part of today’s modern vehicles but don’t worry, you don’t need to buy a brand new car for these commodities. The aftermarket offers a variety of multimedia Android head units, which are convenient devices and allow you to connect your Android phone to your dash and control some of the most important features. With an Android head unit, you can play music, use Google Maps navigation which is far more advanced than the basic BMW navigation, make calls and send messages.

Having an Android head unit has tons of advantages.

This is not just a typical car stereo, we are talking about a multi-functional device that will make your car rides pleasant and relaxing. Your Android phone is connected to the dash via USB which does not mirror every app you have on the device. Only the apps that are authorized by Google Play can be visible on your unit because of drivers’ safety regulations. You will be able to use Google Maps as a reliable navigation system as well as play music from your phone’s database.

The audio goes through the USB which does not damage the quality of sound like Bluetooth does. The second most important feature after navigation is the hands free phone calls. Making calls while driving is not recommended, unless you have an Android head unit which allows you to talk hands free. This is important for your safety as well as the safety of others on the road.

The downsides and how to deal with them

The aftermarket offers a variety of Android unit models with phone interface that is easy to navigate, even while driving. Replacing your factory car stereo might cause you to lose some of the factory features such as steering wheel audio control, satellite radio, Bluetooth integration systems and rear seat entertainment systems.

The key is to choose a compatible head unit off the aftermarket that will provide you with the features you want to keep. Depending on which feature you want to keep, you will need to get an appropriate adapter. We can take steering wheel audio controls as an example because it is one of the basic features that everyone wants to hold on to. In this case, look for a steering wheel audio control adapter and a navigation unit that is compatible with this adapter. In today’s aftermarket, you will find plenty of head units with the SWI (steering wheel input). It is important to look for this specific feature because otherwise your head unit might cost you a few commodities. Other than that, there is not a single reason you should not upgrade your vehicle with an aftermarket head unit.

It is certainly more affordable than buying brand new wheels and with the aftermarket you can get a high-tech Android head unit at a fair price and say goodbye to the old factory car stereo.

Cheap Car Rental: Booking Holiday and Business Car Rental in Advance

When seeking cheap car rental, many people prefer to book holiday or business car hire in advance. Car hire is usually a must for most business trips, unless you are being picked up at the airport. Driving a company car is fine for short trips, but when you have long distances to travel, or even overseas, then you have to hire a car and you want something appropriate for your needs.

Holiday car rental can be even more important to most people, particularly if they have large families involving two adults and three or four children. It’s bad enough having two children in the back of a small car let alone three! You likely know what I mean!

On vacation you might need a 4×4 or even a people carrier (strange name) that can fit your whole family comfortably and without complaints the whole way! These are not always available at airports, so you could have a problem if you don’t book in advance. The same is true of more prestigious business cars such as 7-Series BMW, Mercedes or similar, and for these you will almost certainly have to book your business car rental in advance.

That’s fine if you are seeking cheap car rental in your own country, but you may have difficulty doing so when traveling abroad. It’s difficult enough booking a car in Hawaii when you live in Colorado, but try making an advance booking in Kenya when you live in Australia! Wouldn’t it be great if you could find a simple way to book business car hire or a car for your holidays from your own home? Or have your secretary do it for you without tearing her hair out?

Most people prefer to book their car in advance when going on vacation or for business trips. Cheap car rental is easier to get by booking early online, and by doing so they make sure they get the car they need, and not just ‘what’s available’. Others don’t seem to bother about forward booking of hire cars: they will book air tickets and train tickets in advance but leave their cars to luck!

Cheap Car Rental Cost Advantage

There are several advantages of booking your holiday car rental in advance, not the least being cost. Most car hire firms will charge less for an advance booking than if you simply turn up at the desk, so booking your vacation or business car rental in advance will probably save you money – particularly if you book a car online. Sometimes that’s not possible with business trips, but you should at least know when your flight is due to arrive at its destination. You can book your car online in advance for that time and likely get a better price than somebody walking off the plane and trying to get cheap car rental at the desk.

Better Choice of Cars

There are other advantages though, not the least being the choice of cars you may be offered. Booking car hire in advance enables you choose the car you want – at least up to a point. If you hire a car from the airport you are restricted to what they have available: not just what is available for airport car rental, but to what is left, particularly if you are near the back of the queue!

It’s not easy to find a car to suit you if you have five or six in your family, and lots of luggage. In fact, you might not find anything and have to pay for a couple of taxis to your hotel so that they can help you out with renting a car big enough for your needs. It is far better to have booked your holiday car rental in advance.

Cheap Car Rental Price Comparisons

If you know the type of vehicle you need, you should be able to compare cheap car rental prices across car hire firms and also across models that meet your specifications. By hiring a car in advance you should be able to achieve that by entering your needs into a search engine and be offered a range of vehicles in order of price for any country you want.

Perhaps you have different collection and drop-off points, so how would that affect the cost of your car hire? Is it easy to search over a number of car hire firms or do you have to visit the web pages of each separately? How about searching over a range of countries? If you live in the USA and are traveling to Austria or Switzerland for some skiing, wouldn’t you like to be able to book the car you want and be able to get the best price for it?

3 Kids and a Mini!

These things are not easy to do and people generally settle for trying to get as near the head of the queue as possible at immigration and customs, and reach that car hire desk as quickly as they can. Then you have the problem of how many others have hired cars that day, and is the type of business car rental you need still available. It’s all worry and stress you can do without. What if you can’t get a car? It doesn’t bear thinking about! 3 kids and a wife, and you failed to get anything but a mini! That might be taking cheap car rental a step too far!

You can find a world-wide cheap car rental service along with rail booking service if you need it, on Global Car Rental that offers you a photo and specifications of the cars available from a range of vacation and business car hire firms from which you can choose your ideal car.

Autocross Buying Guide – Select the Right Car

In my experience, autocross can be a very fun and exciting sport. I have participated in several events in my local area. I found the hobby to be very addictive as well.

Out of all my other hobbies, I think this one is the best “bang for the buck” as far as thrills go with your car. Everybody can participate. Every car (some clubs have exceptions to this though like no SUV’s, no Trucks) can race. The nice thing about this kind of race is that you are competing against others in your class usually defined by the SCCA, however, you are on the course alone so there is minimal chance of hitting other cars.

The hardest part about autocross (aside from learning how to race) in my opinion is finding the right car. Sure, you can use a daily driver, but that is not recommended if you are going to participate in several events a year. Autocross can create wear on the tires and other components very quickly and can get expensive very fast. I would recommend to get a vehicle that you can use for autocross. This can be a “trailer car” or a car that you can still drive on the road, but use only for this hobby.

There are 4 key components to consider when selecting a car for autocross:

1) What type of car to get
2) The Price of the car
3) The overall condition of the vehicle (if used)
4) Aftermarket upgrades/modifications

WHAT TYPE OF CAR TO GET FOR AUTOCROSS:

For autocross racing, some people would assume that the car has to be very powerful, small, 2 doors and modified. This is not entirely accurate. While that type of car would be nice, it is not required to be competitive in autocross.

Remember that most autocross events and clubs have the cars grouped in to some sort of class. The club I participate with follow the SCCA Class guidelines. The classes help group the cars so the same “level” of vehicles can remain competitive within each class.

This is done to avoid the “biggest and fastest is best” state of thought. It would be unfair to put a heavily modified Porsche GT3 up against a stock Ford Focus. This is why they do that.

So, to pick the right car for autocross, you would probably want a coupe or convertible FIRST if possible. Sedans can work well too, but some sedans are not geared for modifications, although, the sport sedans of today are really starting to take over.

Manual transmission would be recommended, however, if you have an automatic that is OK too. You may want to consider trading it for a manual in the future to remain competitive. Again, there are still “sport shift” type automatics out there that are getting better and better each day.

Ideally, you would also want a rear-wheel drive car for autocross. RWD cars typically provide better control and handling in most cases. I know some enthusiasts out there will disagree with me, but that’s OK. On the other hand, I have used several front-wheel drive cars that run with the best of them.

PRICE:

The price of buying a car for autocross is always the factor for me. I, like many others, cannot afford an expensive vehicle for autocross. There are, however, those that can afford it and price is still something for them to consider.

The $0-$5000 range:

This is the range most of us beginners want to start. Of course, free is GOOD, but consider the 3rd component (overall condition) when this option comes to mind. Several cars that can perform well and have a lot of upgradable options are the following:

1989-1997 Mazda Miata – Very nice power to weight ratio. It is VERY popular at autocross. 1979-1991 Mazda RX7 – Fast small car, handles well. Many upgrades available. 1989-1998 Nissan 240sx – Several aftermarket upgrades, handles very well. 1990-1999 BMW 3 Series – Very versatile car. You can find very nice models in this range now. 1988-2000 Honda Civic/CRX – I have seen several models compete well in autocross. 1984-1999 Toyota MR2 – Low center of gravity, great performance, mid engine. 1990-1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse/Eagle Talon – Many upgrades, some models Turbo AWD. 2000-2007 Ford Focus – Very competitive cars. SVT models available in price range. 1997-2003 VW Golf – Hatchbacks always like autocross. VR6 models available in range. 1990-1999 Acura Integra – Like the Civic, very competitive with many upgrades out there.

There may be a few more cars that I missed that fall under this price range. The method I use to hunt for cars can vary depending on the type I am looking for. I will use local classified ads, Craigslist. I will also use the bigger car searches and expand my general “hunting” area. I have successfully found great cars using VEHIX, AutoTrader as well as Government Auction Sites.

But what about the autocross cars above the $5000 range? Well, I am glad you are think that because I am about to list them below.

If you have some money to work with and want to get something newer, you can consider the following cars:

The $5,001-$20,000 range:

This range can include newer cars as well as pre-owned cars that are no more than a few years old. Remember, cars usually depreciate very fast, so as the years go by, some of the newer cars can be within reach for less money and are great for autocross. The cars below come to mind in this range:

1998-Current Mazda MX-5 – Still same basic car, but more power as they got newer. 2003-Current VW Golf – Even more modified than the previous versions, compete well. 1992-1997 Mazda RX7 – 3rd Gen is twin-turbo and can compete in autocross. 1992-2006 BMW M3 – M3′s are designed for racing. Some newer models will fall in this range. 1998-2003 BMW M5 – M5′s are very powerful and compete in their class well. 1994-Current Ford Mustang/Cobra – Very versatile car. Competes well in class. 1994-2002 Camaro/Firebird – Competes well in class. Many autocross upgrades. 2007-Current Mazda Mazdaspeed3 – Turbo, hatchback, competes well in autocross. 2003-2008 Nissan 350z – Great autocross car, very popular on the track. Special Autocross Kit cars such as the V6 Stalker fall in this range as well.

Now, this price range can vary in vehicles. A lot of these cars are still new and may require loans to purchase them.

The $20,001 spectrum will consist of some of the current-day models as well as the obvious “super cars” we all respect such as the Corvette, Viper, Porsche, Ferrari, Lotus and others. I will not include a list for those because if you are buying one of those for an autocross car, you did your research.

OVERALL CONDITION OF THE VEHICLE (USED):

When buying a second car for autocross, treat it like when you are buying your daily driver car. You want the car to be relatively free of major problems. Autocross racing can put stress on the car’s frame, the suspension, the brakes, the tire and the overall body of the car.

You want to be sure that the car has not been in any major accidents. Frame repair or frame damage can be very dangerous mixture when you autocross. That is the MOST important thing to check for when buying a car for autocross. I have experienced and used the service by Experian called AutoCheck. They offer an unlimited number of VIN checks for one of their service options and the price is way better than the other services out there. I have used it when shopping and comes in very handy when you are checking the history of a vehicle.

The next important item to check on the car is major component problems such as smoke coming out of the back of the exhaust, major oil leaks (small leaks are expected on most used cars) slight/major overheating of the engine. Autocross is outside and you push the car to the limit. You want the major components to be in the best shape they can be. The mentioned problems can leave you stranded at the track if you do not look out for them.

I usually have some expectation to do minor repair or preventive repairs on my vehicles when I am buying to autocross them. As I stated above, small oil/fluid leaks are “OK” and can usually be fixed very easily. Small leaks tell us that the car is just used and may not be suffering from the leak as a result. Large/major leaks tell us the car may have been neglected by the previous owner and may carry residual problems unseen at the moment. When looking at a car, start it up, drive it around with the A/C engaged (even if it doesn’t work). When you are finished with the test drive, leave it idling while you walk around the car continuing to inspect it. If the car has an overheating problem, often this is the time it will show. This tip has helped me avoid several beautiful autocross cars that had an overheating problem.

Belts and hoses are my most frequent “preventive” repair I do, even if they are not a problem. It is always best to know when an important component has been replaced rather than to “guess” and trust the previous owner. Water pumps, too, fall in this category sometimes.

One thing people always check when buying a used car are the tires. Yes, this is important for an autocross car, but not to see how “good” the tires are, but to see if the car needs an alignment. Autocross is about handling and you need to be sure the car’s stock “handling” ability is where it should be.

Why not worry about the tires? Well, tires should be one thing to consider buying for your autocross car to begin with, so the existing tires should be removed anyway. Tires are probably the most bought wear item an autocross member will buy. A lot of autocross racers will bring a set of tires for racing, one for driving home (those who do not use a trailer) and some will even bring spares for the racing tires. This is so common that Tire Rack offers tires just for autocross. I have used them and they are the best place to get tires for this.

AFTERMARKET MODIFICATIONS FOR AUTOCROSS:

If you ever look into the aftermarket world of the auto industry, you know that there are literally thousands of places to look and buy. I will list a few spots that most people do not think to look, but surprisingly have things for the autocross fans.

First and foremost, autocross cars do NOT always need major upgrades to be competitive. A driver can use a stock vehicle and compete against fellow stock vehicles and remain competitive. Once you start to modify or upgrade heavily, you may start to move into different classes and compete with other cars that are equally modified. Keep that in mind when you want to change something.

Usually, I say modify the easy things first: Intake, exhaust and general tune ups. Most autocross drivers do not go far from that. These should be the first things you try to upgrade while you participate in autocross to get the most performance out of your vehicle.

If you decide to go further to be more competitive, my next recommendation would be suspension and body roll modifications. Please remember, certain upgrades in this area may change your class. Be sure to check your club or groups rules with these modifications.

Usually, the fastest upgrade to an autocross car would be front and rear strut tower bars/braces. They are usually inexpensive to buy and easy to install. They are also very modular meaning that when you buy these, they will work with other suspension components in place (usually). This modification helps stiffen the car’s suspension and frame and helps with cornering.

The next modification recommendation would then be the front and rear sway bars and links. These parts also help the body roll while cornering and handling and can sometimes be modular to the suspension system as a whole.

The final suspension upgrade is usually the most expensive: The struts (shocks/springs). This upgrade usually works well with the above items, but ads more stiffness, more response to the handling and sometimes lower the car overall for a lower center of gravity.

Once you have modified the entire suspension, my next recommendation would be to upgrade the brakes (at least the pads). This will help your stopping ability for those moments where a tap of the brake is needed during a lap. Please keep in mind that high performance brake pads usually wear much quicker than OEM.

One of the last things I recommend to upgrade is the tires. Now, I’m not saying that you should not FIRST buy new tires when you autocross, but I am saying not to UPGRADE them to an autocross/race tire just yet. Most autocross enthusiasts will tell you to get used to the stock/regular tires on your car first.

Once you get used to stock type tires, modifying them to a race tire or softer tire will actually improve your lap times (that’s the theory anyway).

One last note. I recommend replacing the fluids in your car with as many synthetics as you can. Synthetic fluids have higher heat resistance and can take the intense moments you will be putting on the car during the autocross laps.

Some of the places I have bought aftermarket modifications and upgrades are from the following: Tires- Tire Rack, General maintenance items/Oil/Filters/Performance, MyAutocross Store, Auto Warehouse

Model and make specific forums are also a great place to find parts for your specific car. Usually people on those forums are experts with that model and are constantly modifying it and selling the used items.

Now that I have provided this information, I hope it is useful to at least one person out there interested in autocross racing. I know when I started I had to learn my lessons the hard way and ended up buying cars that either were no good or were not “for” autocross. Please keep in mind that these opinions are based on my experience and knowledge. I am open to changing or adding items I may have missed. Please comment if you’d like.

Plastic Recycling From Cars

Plastic is one of the most extensively used materials in the car body. It is gaining popularity among car manufacturers these days. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that lightweight of plastics makes the vehicle more fuel-efficient. Fuel efficiency is an attribute that addresses the economic and environmental concerns. The reasons are that a fuel-efficient vehicle releases a lesser quantity of exhaust and also reduces the consumption of fuel. However, when the car reaches its end of life, it is this plastic that becomes a challenge to dispose of as it is non bio-degradable.

Three of the most used types of plastic in a car include polypropylene, polyurethane, and PVC. Approximately 10% of a car’s body weight is constituted by plastic. An auto wrecker can recycle this plastic to generate an income from it.

Let us understand the how plastic is recycled from cars:

• When the car is sent for dismantling, the functional parts are detached from it.
• After this, the hazardous material is eliminated so that it doesn’t pollute the environment.
• After this, the body of the car comprising plastic and metallic parts is sent to a crusher.
• After they are flattened by the crusher, these parts are sent for shredding.
• The shredded plastic and metallic parts come out as a mixture of clumps. These need to be separated.
• Metals, plastics, and fibers are separated using different techniques. Some of these methods are floatation, magnetism, size filtering, and manual filtering, etc. These not only separate plastics from metal but also enable grouping different polymer types.
• After grouping, the plastics are fed to extruders. These melt the plastic into a liquid which can be formed into shapes.
• Some recycling centers shape the plastic as per the requirement of the client. While others produce plastic pellets which are sold in the market. These are used to form products of a variety of shapes.
• Depending on the usage the plastic is further processed. For instance, food packaging industry warrants the plastic to pass purity standards. Hence, it goes through extra processing to ensure that there is no contamination. Consequently, it is priced high.

Automobiles are one of the major sources of waste plastic. Plastic is non-biodegradable and can harm the environment. With the growing concerns for environmental protection, plastic recycling has become mandatory. Hence, plastic recycling is a great means to conserve the environment. Recycled plastic finds applications in a host of areas producing a wide range of products.

Parts Locator is a leading magazine where car parts for sale can be listed. Buyers can connect with the sellers through this site. To know more visit here.

OBD Car Tracker Plug & Play GPS Tracking Device

Car tracking has become the need of the hour, and car owners certainly want their car to be safe. When people look for these devices, there are lots of options available in the market. This is not about the brand, but the various categories options can place one in a dilemma. Here is a detailed description of the types of trackers available in the market, and accordingly you can choose as per your needs and convenience.

There are 3 types of trackers available in the market.

• Hardwired
• Portable
• OBD

Hardwired Trackers

This kind of GPS trackers is for monitoring a single vehicle. These are mostly used in the vehicles of earlier than 1996 where the OBD II ports were missing. It is preferred for the car owners who want to hide the installation for greater security. The electrical system of the vehicle is used for power, and there is no need to charge the device manually.

Portable Devices

These are perfect for individuals to use on their cars, and who travel more frequently. This is a real time tracker that caters to the need of many users. These are modern devices, and the accessories are included in the package like a micro USB cable, lanyard and waterproof case.

OBD Plug and Play Chargers

This is a perfect choice for tracking not only a single vehicle but a fleet of vehicles. Using the OBD car tracker has lots of advantages for the users.
• The installation is simple, and it takes only a few seconds, say about 30 to 45 seconds.
• The plug and play real time tracking device can be fitted to the OBD II port of the car’s dashboard.
• There is no need to charge this device manually.
• Telematics is captured immediately, and the same is informed to the fleet owner. This helps the owners to ensure that the car is safe, and out of troubles.
• Any misuse of vehicles will be notified with no delays to the users.

Apart from these advantages, many features are alluring about the OBD plug and play tracking device.

• The operating expenses are reduced, as the shortest routes can be chosen.
• The company’s productivity can be increased as the employer can always oversee if the employees are misusing the vehicles.
• The vehicles can be effectively monitored round the clock, and the money saving is made easy, as fuel consumption is lowered.
• With the OBD car tracking device the vehicle utilization is maximized.
• The field staff can be managed with ease, and corrective actions wherever and whenever required can be taken.
• Route planning can be done with ease.
• The exact location of the vehicle can be traced at any given point of time.
• Dispatch inaccuracies can never happen, as the vehicles can be tracked for all reasons behind the delay.
• Administration account is single and managing the same is easy and non-complicated.

Precautions

Finding the right OBD port is a must, and for a few vehicles, these may not be compatible. But compared with the downsides of the hardwired devices which include the requirement of an auto electrician to fix the device, and the device being not portable, the disadvantages of the plug and play devices are negligible.

How to Buy Used Cars? A Definitive Guide to Buy an Excellent Used Car Without Overpaying

Before we answer this commonly asked question, just think about what is better for you. It is obvious that you have 2 options; a brand-new car or a used car. As a well known fact, buying a brand-new car can make you lose some money because the price of the brand-new car will be depreciated as soon as you buy that new car, but buying a used car can make you avoid that depreciation.

With a large selection of used cars nowadays, there is no greater value than buying a used car. However, it is also the highest risk, especially if you have no idea about what you should do to get the best deal without getting scammed by the unscrupulous people who are ready to cheat you. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you arm yourself with all the needed research and collecting the most possible information about the specific used car you wish to buy.

Buying a used vehicle is a big challenge, especially if you have no idea about the car you are going to buy, so it’s highly recommended that you take your time to collect the needed information and research via the internet to arm yourself before going into the battle of buying used cars. To avoid the pitfalls of buying used cars, do your research online and through multiple dealerships and used car lots.

According to my research there are easy, but powerful steps that will enable you to buy the used car you need. Read them carefully and imagine yourself doing them while reading to memorize them quickly and to be able to implement them effectively in the real life to get the best deal like never before.

Consider the benefits of buying a used car

According to the experts at Kelly Blue Book, “In three years a brand-new car could depreciate by as much as 73 percent of its value. At the best it will retain only 62 percent of its value after three years. That’s one major advantage to buying a used car.”. Therefore, why do you throw money away with buying a brand-new car while you can get a high-quality and recent model used car.

Here are some other good reasons that encourage you to do that:

Skillful used car buyer can explore bigger deals.

Certified used cars are widely being sold nowadays, such as certified pre-owned cars which you can purchase with peace of mind because they have been thoroughly inspected and are covered by warranties.

Used cars are now more reliable than ever before.

Used cars from 1 to 3 years old are generally still covered by factory warranty.

You can find the history of the used car by using the car VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and by using the vehicle history report. And you can get that report easily from CARFAX or Autocheck.

Online, you can check the safety ratings and crash tests for almost any used car.

Set a budget for your purchase

Next, you will need to consider how to finance the car before you go for shopping. Use online tools to help you with that and make a financial plan that suits your budget. Experts at edmunds.com say “Make sure that your monthly payment does not exceed 20 percent of your salary”. It is essential to see how much your specific car really costs. Tools like True Market Value (TMV), True Cost to Own (TCO) on edmunds.com and website like kbb.com will help you with that.

By using affordability calculator and other online calculators, you can determine how much you can pay as a monthly payment. Determine how much you can pay as a down payment for the car if you are going to take out a car loan. It is important to realize that you will not pay only the car price, but you should also consider the other costs of vehicle ownership, such as insurance rates, extended warranties, maintenance, and fuel costs.

There are two ways to buy a used car; either you pay cash or you take out a loan. Taking a loan to buy a car is also called financing the car. You can finance for your used car through a bank, online lender, credit union, or a dealer. It is highly recommended that you finance through the first three, especially bank and online lender.

Choose the right used car

Used car buying has become very popular nowadays, so you will find a large selection of car models to choose from. Search on T.V, magazines, internet or at used car dealerships. Consult friends or relatives. Nowadays the Internet has become the most valuable tool. You can research the large selection of different car models and prices.

Make a list of several used car models that you are interested in and then narrow your list down to 3 or 4 cars. Before you take your list of preferred cars and go to the dealership or private party to purchase, research the car and collect as much information about the car as you can to arm yourself with all the needed knowledge that will save you money and make you get the great deal without getting scammed.

Before you decide on the car model, you should decide whether you will pay the price of the car in cash or you will finance on the car and pay monthly payments. Ask yourself does that car suit your needs? How big you want the car? Does it have headroom and legroom for you and the other passengers? How many passengers will ride in it? Do you need cargo room or towing capacity?

Once you have decided the right model or body style that is excellent for you, you should start collecting detailed information about that specific used car using its VIN. The VIN is included in many online car listings. Websites such as CARFAX OR Autocheck can help you do so easily. Use this VIN to get the vehicle history report which is vital to know the overall condition and history of the car. You will know whether that specific car has ever been totaled, flooded, stolen or whether the odometer has been rolled back.Those are essential information when you consider buying used cars.

If you want to save money, read the consumer reports and car reviews of the model that you are interested in. Compare Kelly Blue Book values, research resale values. By doing your research up front, you can avoid any model if it has a potential issue.

Best places to find used cars

There are a lot of places where you can find used cars, such as online websites, CarMax, dealerships, Auctions, and private party. Each place has its own pros and cons.The certified pre-owned cars are the most expensive used cars. If you want to know more about them you can check out the certified pre-owned vehicle programs at edmunds.com. Make sure that you do not buy a lemon used car.

Test drive and inspect the used car

Test driving and inspecting the used car that you have decided to buy is a very important factor in determining whether or not you proceed with your purchase, you may keep this vehicle for years to come, so make sure that the car is reliable and high performance. Try it in different roads to explore any potential problems you may find later, after you will have bought it.

After you collected the necessary information about the car, contact the seller and arrange an appointment to test drive the used car.When you go to test drive the car, bring along a mechanic because it is highly recommended that you take a mechanic with you to inspect the used car.

When you test drive the car, make sure that the engine is cold because doing that will show you whether there are any chronic issues or not. Bear in mind that it is your chance to test the car, so take your time to judge whether it is a good fit and it is in a good condition or not. Consider the following:

How does it feel when you drive the car?

How does it feel on bumpy roads?

Does the car have the acceleration levels you want?

What about the suspension, is it comfortable and even?

Does the car pull to one side or another or not? If it pulls, so it may be a problem with alignment or brake. Consider trying the brake.

Does the car inside have enough headroom and legroom for everyone who will ride?

While you are driving turn off the radio or C.D player to focus on the driving experience and to be able to hear any unusual noise especially from the engine.

Make sure that you get the service records from the seller or dealer. Stay away from the used cars that have been in a serious accident or that have been undergoing major repair work such as engine overhauls, valve jobs or transmission rebuilds. You should also check the VIN of the car, it is located in many places on the car depending on the car model. Make sure that all of the VIN plates on the car are matched not mismatched. Take a trusted mechanic with you to check things more accurately and professionally for you. If it is a CPO (certified pre-owned car) there is no reason to take a mechanic with you because those kinds of cars have undergone a thorough inspection before they have been brought for sale.

Negotiate the price

Your negotiation will largely depend on your research and the information that you have collected from famous car websites and dealerships. Stick to the prices that you have on hand in your list and show the price quotes to the dealer or the private seller to make them feel that you are educated buyer, so they cannot overprice the used car.

Read carefully before you sign

Before you sign, read carefully the clauses of the contract. It is recommended that you take a lawyer with you to finalize the paperwork for you. Avoid signing “as is” when buying a used car, because once you sign that, any problem with the car becomes yours. If you have to do that, make sure that you researched the information and got the Vehicle History Report on the used car. Make sure that any promises are written not just spoken.

Finally, by doing the above steps, you will become the educated buyer who knows exactly how to buy an excellent used car and how much you can expect to pay for it.

Be Cautious Where You Take Your Classic Car or Muscle Car

Classic car owners, including those with muscle cars, street rods, hot rods, antiques and vintage trucks, are facing uncertain times as car thefts are on the rise, and actions from thieves are becoming more bold and brazen.

I recently came across a story written by a man who owned a Daytona Blue 1963 Corvette Coupe with all matching numbers. The all-original classic sport car had an immaculate dark blue interior where only the carpet had ever been replaced. The 327 engine was said to produce a rhythmic loping that not only brought a smile to your face, but got you day dreaming of having this beauty parked in your own garage. Then disaster strikes and you’re snapped out of your dream and into his nightmare!

The owner of this beautiful piece of American history took his prized car to what he called a small “backwoods” show that a friend and he decided to go to in the spur of the moment. As owner Jacob Morgan, of Bakersfield, CA described, “The event was an annual but rather unofficial gathering of classic car buffs and I was thrilled to bring my car down. Unfortunately, the part of Florida that the event was being held was extremely dry due to drought. About three or four hours after arriving, a man who owned a red GTO (I could not tell you the year because frankly I did not care afterward) decided to start up his ride for the spectators. It was just one backfire but it was enough to start the dry grass ablaze–and guess where my Corvette was parked?

Nearly thirty classic cars were consumed by the blaze started by that backfiring GTO and my Corvette was one of them. Of course I had the car properly insured but they just aren’t making 1963 Corvettes any longer and the only one I could find that was similar cost $10,000 more than my policy’s payoff. I guess if there is a moral to my sad tale, it is to avoid backwoods car shows at all costs because they are unregulated, disorganized, and very dangerous to classic cars like my beloved 1963 Corvette Coupe.”

This may not be your traditional way of losing your prized classic car, muscle car, street rod, antique car, vintage truck or other collectible old vehicle, but it does drive home the point that we need to exercise care in even the most innocent surroundings like a car show! Freak accidents like Mr. Morgan experienced can and do account for many losses to enthusiasts – not just theft or vandalism.

Sadly though, theft isn’t a rare thing and the methods are becoming more bizarre. Guy Algar and I have had pieces stolen off one of our own vehicles that we were towing back to our shop while we stopped for a quick bite to eat! We’ve had a good number of hubcaps taken over the years. And, we actually had the brake lights ripped off of our car hauler while we were in a parts store one day picking up parts for a customer! We’ve had one customer tell us the story where he had taken his wife out to dinner and had carefully parked his 1969 Corvette at a local restaurant, under a big bright light, and in what appeared to be a “safe” area, only to come out 45 minutes to an hour later to find all his emblems and trim taken right off the car! Thieves have been known to take the entire car hauler (with the classic sitting on top) right off the tow vehicle’s hitch ball and transfer the hauler to their own tow vehicle when people are on the road, at a car show, or some other type of event. These are bold moves by people who do not fear the consequences.

Other thefts that have been reported around the country have included:

Dr. Phil just had his ’57 Chevy Belair convertible stolen from the Burbank repair shop he had brought it to for repairs.

A 1937 Buick, valued at over $100,000 was taken from a gated community parking garage in Fort Worth, Texas.

Tom of New Mexico reported the theft of two of his collector cars to Hemming. Tom owns about half a dozen collector cars altogether, and to store them all, he rented out a storage unit. Unfortunately, when he went to check on them recently, for the first time in about six months, he found that two were missing – a 1957 two-door Chevrolet Belair and a 1967 Mercury Cougar GT.

There was also a report of a man from Jefferson City, Missouri, who actually recovered his own stolen car, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro that had been stolen 16 years before, after seeing it in a Google search!

In a Los Angeles suburb, a woman came home to a garage empty of her prized 1957 Chevy Bel-Air which had been valued at more than $150,000. The beautiful convertible had been featured in several magazines and TV shows and won dozens of awards at car shows around the country. A neighbor’s surveillance camera caught the actions of the thieves and revealed that the Bel-Air was pushed down the street by a pickup truck which had pulled into her driveway just minutes after she had left. The thieves likely loaded it onto an awaiting trailer. It’s thought that the thieves spotting the car at one of the car shows, followed it home afterwards, then waited for the opportunity to steal it.

A Seattle collector was the victim of a targeted “smash-and grab” from the warehouse where he kept his cars. The thieves apparently ransacked the building and drove off with a 396/425 four-speed 1965 Corvette Stingray; and a 20,000-mile 396/four-speed 1970 Chevelle SS.

A 1959 Chevrolet Impala was stolen during a Cruise Night. The owner got good news-bad news when the police tracked down because while they did recover the classic car, he had put in a claim for the theft with his insurance policy after the theft many months before, so the car went to the insurance company rather than being returned to him. Apparently detectives recovered the Impala from a chop shop nearly eight months after it was stolen, repainted and modified.

Hemmings News also reported of a reader whose 1970 Ford Maverick was stolen from his home in Missouri. The car was found and returned, but the investigation apparently revealed that the thief had been watching the owner for 2 years, with the intention of stealing it and using it to race with. Chilling thing to find out.

A 1979 Buick Electra 225 Limited Edition was stolen out of a grocery store parking lot in suburban Detroit with the thief escaping with an urn inside the trunk that contained the remains of the owner’s stepfather!

After saving for over 40 years, a man from Virginia bought the car of his dreams, a 1962 Dodge Lancer. Buying his dream car, he began his restoration project, which was about 60 percent complete when he relocated to Texas. Without a garage to keep it in after his move, he stored it in a 24-foot enclosed trailer along with a 1971 Dodge Colt he planned to turn into a race car, and kept the trailer parked at a storage lot. At the end of July, the trailer and everything in it disappeared.

The last story actually has a happy ending because it was recovered due to alert shop owners being suspicious of person wanting to unload a Lancer for only $1,500 including the many boxes of parts. After some research, the owner was reunited with his car. Guy and I have been approached on numerous occasions by people wanting to sell their vehicles. Some have hardship stories and the callers are willing to unload the car for a real bargain. We’ve always walked from these offers, primarily because we’re not in the business of buying and selling cars (we’re not dealers or re-sellers), but also because we’re cautious of a “too-good-to-be-true” price. One call in particular did make us very suspicious, as the woman caller insisted that the sale had to be completed by Monday (she called our shop over the weekend) and the price was extremely low for a rather rare model Mustang. Alert shop owners can be instrumental in aiding in the recovery of stolen classic cars.

But not all stories have a happy ending like this. Classic cars, muscle cars and antiques can make their way to chop shops, end up damaged and abandoned, and even being re-sold on Internet sites such as eBay and Craigslist!

Just yesterday, I reported on a 1954 Chevy Pickup truck which was stolen from a woman’s driveway in Oklahoma City. (Ironically this article was already written and scheduled for release today when the news hit. I’ve added her case because, unfortunately, it emphasizes how common thefts have become.) She wisely reached out to the Hemmings community of enthusiasts for help. Hemmings.com has a huge following, referred to as “Hemmings Nation”, and appealing for help to a community of enthusiasts like this can be instrumental in helping to give vital information to police and authorities who can help track and recover a stolen classic car. We applaud the work that Hemmings does.

And, the methods that thieves are using, as you can see, are as varied as the types of vehicles! Even seemingly innocent little car shows and gatherings are places you need to exercise a little caution and care. As I reported in a July article, carjackings involving classic cars are even becoming more commonplace.

Surprisingly, in some cases, the Internet has been helpful in aiding in the recovery of classic cars and muscle cars. There have been numerous stories, much like the Camaro owner above, and a man who found his 1949 Ford through a listing on Craigslist (the two men responsible were arrested and charged with disassembling a vehicle after the owner positively identified it as his) where owners have been able to locate their cars in Internet searches.

For those not so fortunate, insurance is the only consolation. We highly recommend classic car or “collector” car insurance. There are a number of companies that provide this specialized insurance, and it is generally well worth the cost. Classic Car News provided an article, Purchasing Classic Car Insurance, containing a list of companies along with links to contact them. I also recommend Hagerty Insurance’s publication, Deterring Collector Car Theft, which has tips on theft prevention.

In addition to the quick-strip thefts, thieves usually always alter, remove or forge VIN numbers, which make identification of the car or truck more difficult. Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) are serial numbers for vehicles that are used to differentiate similar makes and models. Much like social security numbers, every vehicle has a different VIN. VIN plates are usually located on the dashboard on newer cars, but are often found in the door jams of older models. VIN plates can be switched with another vehicle for a fast coverup.

The point here is to be aware of your surroundings, including where you park your car. Don’t take it for granted that just because you’re at an event with fellow enthusiasts that something bad can’t happen. Take preventive action by securing your old car or truck. Guy Algar suggests, “Don’t forget to take precautions even at home. You may feel safe parking your ride in ‘the safety’ of your two car garage, but remember, even if you don’t have windows where people can peer in and spot your valued car, thieves can also follow you home from work, a cruise, or even the grocery store and plan a theft after surveilling your home and learning your schedule. If you have a ride that catches people’s attention, remember that it can also catch the wrong attention!”

RESOURCES:

Hagerty Insurance – Deterring Collector Car Theft

Classic Car News – Purchasing Classic Car Insurance

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

The safety of your classic car or muscle car is extremely important to most owners. Everyone wants to protect their ride with methods that work, and that won’t bust the bank. We draw on the experience of experts in Classic Car News’ upcoming series entitled “Keep Our Rides Safe”, which appear each Wednesday. – Andrea

Andrea L. Algar is co-owner of a classic car performance and restoration design shop in Leesville, Texas. Motorheads Performance specializes in repairs, maintenance, performance upgrades and restorative work on cars and trucks from the 1920′s through 1970′s. Her husband Guy L. Algar is a Mechanical Engineer with over 25 years experience. He holds 5 ASE Certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and has been working on old cars and trucks for over 37 years. Together they share their passion for old cars and trucks with other enthusiasts from around the country.

Master the Craigslist – Used Car Buying Tips

Why buy used?

A used car (be it 1000 miles or 100,000 miles) is much cheaper than that same car when bought brand new off the lot (obviously). Craigslist, aka private party, lets us find these cars for the best price. Read on to learn how to become a master of the used car buying and selling process.

Finding the right car

First, find a budget that you are willing to work with. If you do not have the cash, and if the car qualifies, a bank or credit union may offer a loan.

Always refer to KBB (Kelly Blue Book) for the current private party value of the car you are purchasing. This will give you a better idea on how much you should be paying for the car, as well as potential negotiating power to lower the price.

If not familiar with cars, we suggest finding a shop to do a Pre Purchase Inspection. That way you know the mechanical condition and can use it as negotiating power. The thing to remember with all used car buying tips, you must always negotiate the price.

Pro Tip Most people expect to get lowballed, so they set the price much higher than what they would really like to get.

A Note on Smog

If you live in a state that requires a SMOG check, make sure that the seller has a smog certificate included. Verify that the smog was completed within 90 days, otherwise it is not valid for transfer of ownership (CA).

Double check to make sure the registration is current. A lot of times, people sell their car for a cheap price only because they cannot smog it due to a Check Engine Light, or other issues.

Setting up for finding the right deals

On the Craigslist page, navigate to your location’s web page, then click Cars and Trucks by Owner. In the search settings, set the range from $0 – (Your Max Limit). I like to add about 20% to my max limit to allow for cars that can be negotiated within the budget.

After you save your search settings, and refresh your page, you will see all the vehicles in your area that are for sale.

Pro Tip Save this Craigslist page to your home screen on your phone and your computer, that way its quick access and you do not have to mess with the settings again.

If you have this on your home screen you will see it more often, reminding you to check the listings and therefore increasing chances of finding the killer deal.

Contacting the seller

Remember, these used car buying tips apply for all private party car buying platforms, not just Craigslist. When I sell a car, the biggest thing I hate is when people ask “is the car still available?”.

Be polite, but do not waste anyone’s time. Contact the buyer through phone call when possible. If it’s a smokin’ deal, it will NOT last on Craigslist. The phone is the quickest and most direct method. Do not dilly dally around and have the sweet deal scooped up by a car dealer!

When buying a car, I look at the person selling me the car just as much, if not more, than the car itself. Mainly, it shows me what kind of treatment and service history the car received. If the person was older, spoke intelligently, and looked wealthy, we found that most times the car was in great shape to match.

Most Important Questions to Ask

“How long have you had the car?”
“What kind of maintenance have you done with the car”
“Why are you selling the car?”
“Are there any leaks or major mechanical problems?”

Ask these questions over the phone, and try to get a general understanding of the car’s shape before going out to see it, especially if its a long distance.

Saving time is key, you would be surprised how often people say “The car is flawless” on the ad. Asking these questions lets you determine if they are honest.

Set up an appointment to see the car if you feel like the information you’ve gathered about the car matches what you’re looking for.

Getting Ready to Meet and Test Drive

When meeting with a seller, I always bring:

Scan Tool for Monitors / Codes
Powerful Flashlight (I recommend Streamlight flashlights)
Pivoting and extendable mirror to check for leaks
My Drivers License / ID
Cash (I bring cash with me, but leave it in the car. I only do this if the amount is under $3000. Anything past that I just go to the bank with the seller and get them the cashiers check or cash when the deal is done).

Anti-Lemon Used Car Inspection Checklist

Before the meeting

Verify the sellers has the necessary paperwork, aka Pink Slip, proof of registration, and smog certificate (if required by state). Although not necessary, print out a copy of the bill of sale form.
Use CarFax or Autocheck to run a VIN background on the vehicle. This is key!
Set up personal guidelines to the maximum amount willing to spend on the car.
Make sure you have the funds ready, or instant access to them in the payment form the seller prefers.
Advise the seller you want the car to be COLD for your test drive. We want a cold engine to get a complete analysis. This is a key part to the used car inspection checklist!

At the car

Engine Inspection – Use the combination of the pivoting mirror and flashlight mentioned above to peek behind components and around the valve cover, checking for leaks. Inspect everything carefully, pay special attention to the serpentine belt area and leaks around the valve covers.

Check for Codes – Connect the scanner and make sure there are no engine codes. Make sure the monitors for smog are all completed – if not, be suspicious.

Check the body panels and paint, does it all look even? Is the texture the same everywhere? Look for panels that are a slightly different color or hue, which may indicate a sign of collision that was already repaired.

Check all the paperwork before starting the drive – make sure they own the car and that they have a pink slip with their name on it.

Check tires. Are they a matching set? Good Tread? Any signs of uneven wear? Could mean bad alignment or an accident in the past that prevents proper alignment.

Check brake pad thickness through the wheels if possible.

Check maintenance records (see if big service items have been done, like timing belt and water pump if the engine is a timing belt engine)

Check condition of oil. Open the oil filler cap and look under for any foamy, milky substances, which MAY indicate sludge or head gasket issues.

Upon vehicle start up, check the exhaust pipe for smoke. Listen to the engine for any uneven running aka “misfire” and try to smell for coolant or oil burning off which would indicate a leak.

Look over the serpentine belt(s) and all other engine components for any signs of damage, wear, or leaks.

Peek under the car to check for leaks, rust, and damage.

During the Test Drive

Engine Check – Make sure to use some power and get the engine to a high RPM (don’t redline someone else’s car). Have the windows down and constantly monitor for noise from the engine, as well as the suspension. Note how the vehicle idles, it should be smooth for the most part. Keep checking the instrument cluster for warning messages as well as overheating. Be keen to any burning oil or coolant smells.

Brake Test – Come to some stops at different speeds/intensities and try to listen for screeching or grinding noises

Alignment Check – During the test drive, while on a somewhat even road, let go of the steering wheel for a few moments and see if the vehicle drifts to one side. Keep in mind, most roads have “road crown” and will slightly cause all cars to drift to the right, but a barely noticeable amount.

Transmission Check – Make sure the test drive takes at least 15 minutes, ask the seller for permission first. This will allow the transmission to fully warm up. For automatics, issues could potentially arise online when hot, and not be present when cold. You will feel jerkiness when the auto transmission is malfunctioning. For manuals, do a clutch test by engaging 4th gear at a slow speed and go wide open throttle – see if the clutch slips (the rpms will climb extremely fast like you are in neutral).

Wiggle Test – At about 30 mph roll down your windows do a few quick left to right steering wheel maneuvers. Listen to the suspension and chassis – it should not make ANY noises while doing this.

Suspension Check – Go over some bumpy roads, and take some angled driveways / turns. Listen for any binding suspension components which will present itself with a loud knock. Also listen for failing wheel bearings by rolling up all your windows and checking for a loud whirring rotational noise.

Interior and Features – Finally, check all the features. This means A/C, reverse camera, navigation, etc. Check all window motors by rolling up and down the windows. Make sure everything is working to your desire.

During the Test Drive, DO NOT:

Drive the car like you are taking a hot lap around the Nurburgring
Go on an extended period test drive unless agreed upon with seller
Do anything that would put you or the car at risk, cosmetically or mechanically.

Remember – an honest seller will often also have a car that is in fairly decent shape. Verify that the story they tell you matches the clues you see with the car.

Ask one of the previous questions to see if the answer remains the same this time around. If something doesn’t match up, chances are the seller is hiding something, and I would investigate further.

“Gut Feeling” plays a big role in this game. Be alert to your senses and you will not buy a lemon. This is one of the key used car buying tips.

Inspecting the Car

If inspecting yourself, print out and follow our Inspection Checklist

Make sure to find a professional shop to do a Pre Purchase Inspection if you are not mechanically inclined. Anything wrong with the car, especially when NOT told about by the seller, can be potentially used to reduce the selling price or to save you from thousands of dollars in losses.

One of the used car buying tips I want you to take away from this is that any car can be a “good deal” so long as the issues within the car are discovered and price lowered to compensate.

Seal the Deal

First, before anything else, make sure they have the pink slip, as well as the smog certificate. Verify they are the owner by asking to see their ID and matching it to the name on the pink slip.

Make sure the smog certificate states that it has been completed within 90 days, otherwise its invalid for title transfer. Other states may have more paperwork so get familiar with your states requirements.

Reach a price that both parties can agree to.

Do NOT be afraid of throwing out an offer. They just spent their time showing the car, and people hate to lose time. Most times they will take a substantial amount below asking value as long as you show them things they have left out in their ad.

Sellers usually prefer cash money, but if the car is more expensive you should pay with a cashier’s check. Since there is a lot of check fraud going on, sellers are typically sketched out.

Invite them to come to the bank with you while you have the cashier’s check made out. If both seller and buyer have the same banking company, an instant transfer can also be arranged.

After completing the transaction, make sure to save the sellers phone number for any further questions. Also ask them for any sets of spare keys, and service records they have.

Thank you very much for reading

My name is Anton and I’m from California. My website CarLifeDaily.com is an auto repair and used car buying and selling advice blog. Check out the website and make sure to subscribe to receive exclusive member-only content weekly!

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