Showing posts from May, 2014

Brake Jobs are ripoffs

Perhaps you've seen the Midas commercial that offers a complete brake job for $99? Is it really possible to get brakes done this cheap? Most people's experience would suggest no. We must remember, that for Midas, their advertisement is just that: an advertisement. It's marketing to get you in the door. While not a lie, there's probably very few vehicles that can be serviced for that price.

So what's a good price for a brake job? If it's only pads that you need, and a common vehicle, you should not expect to pay more than $150-$175. This amount represents the cost of parts plus an hour of labor, and should include servicing (turning) your current rotors. Rotors do wear out though, and that may cost an additional $100-$150 if they've fall below minimal service thresholds.

But what if I told you a secret? What if I told you most brake jobs involve removing only two bolts (not including the lug-nuts on the wheels)? What if I told you that you could probably sourc…

Dead Car Battery + Epsom Salt = Revived Battery?

Can adding Epsom salt to your car battery revive it? Maybe.

The automotive urban legend goes like this:

She came out of the grocery store, tried to start the car, but the battery was dead. With no jumper cables and no one around, how would she get home? Remembering she had just purchased Epsom salt for a deep rejuvenating bath, she adds some to her battery, waits 30 minutes, and the car magically starts.

Ignoring the fact the grocery store employees were complete douches, you may be wondering if this is even possible. Interestingly, with a recent alternator problem, I had the opportunity to partially test this urban legend with my own car. Did it work for me? No, but I later found out I had a 3 amp draw due to bad diodes (I also have a huge 3.8 liter to start). Could it work for you? Quite possibly.

Before I knew what the problem was, I assumed it was a bad battery. Hoping that this internet legend was true, I documented my process of adding the Epsom salts to the battery. To my surprise,…

Can you mix R-12 Freon and R-134a? Yes.

Can you mix R-12 and R-134a? The answer may surprise you. No doubt this is a very controversial subject, and only you can decide what is right for you and your car. The simple answer is yes, you can mix them. For the most part, you can add a R-12 to R-134a retrofit valve (for about $8), buy a hose with a gauge ($19), and a can of standard R-134a, and simply top-off your system. Of course this is when someone will barge into this conversation screaming, yelling, and declaring that you can't do it, so let me explain.

First we need to accept there's a lot false information on the Internet. This subject is no different. I'll be honest, I don't have a good reason to tell you exactly why the EPA recommended complete retrofits, instead of mixing the two refrigerants, other than the scientists who made the recommendation decided the "average person" might not understand  the complexity of the consequences in such a decision, or simply the powers-that-be anticipated R-…

What Oil Filter is the Best? (or Why you shouldn't buy Fram)

Let me tell you the story of my Mazda MX-3. I loved, loved, loved this car. One day I decided to change the oil, long before I knew there were people on the internet cutting filters open. I started the car after the oil change, and it immediately began to smoke. What happened? Valve damage from a Fram oil filter that collapsed in on itself.

If you're not up to speed on the problem, Fram, one of the most popular oil filters uses cardboard instead of metal filter ends to separate the clean oil from the dirty. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why that's a problem. However it's a inexpensive product that has a generally low failure rate, that has only become the center of attention since the dawn of the internet, now that individuals can share their experience. Mine is not unlike others who have posted online.

Fram defends their manufacturing process and materials, who, for the most part, suggest that cardboard and their glue is more than adequate for the job, and that…