Should You Change Your Own Brakes?

If you have the know-how to do your own brake work or know someone who does and is willing to share their expertise for free, the do-it-yourself approach to replacing pads and rotors can save you lots of money. But be sure you know what’s wrong before you get started, or you could waste a lot of time and money.

The cost of brake parts varies widely by brand and model, and you should certainly expect to pay more for brake work on a BMW than on a Honda.

Doing it yourself also means you choose the parts that go on your car, you’re in charge of quality control and you do it on your own schedule.

If that was all there was to it, we would recommend that anyone with a little mechanical skill perform their own brake repairs. Brake maintenance, though, isn’t always as simple as just removing and replacing parts.

For example, unevenly worn brake pads could be the result of sticking caliper slide pins, the calipers themselves might need cleaning, lubricating or replacement, and excessive brake pedal travel might be the result of air in the hydraulic brake lines, not worn pads.

If you don’t have the knowledge to diagnose what might be wrong or the tools or experience to correct it, you might be wasting time and money by replacing parts because they’re the usual suspects. You might know your car better than anyone, but a good mechanic probably knows much more about brakes than you do.

Repair shops also guarantee their labor as well as the parts they install, so if something doesn’t seem right after a brake job, they usually stand behind it and fix what’s wrong.

If you decide to do the work yourself, be sure you’re addressing the root causes of your brake issues, and make sure pads, rotors and other parts really do need replacing before you buy new ones.

Above all, know your limits, because brakes are what stop your car and you don’t want to make a dangerous mistake.

How To Improve Your Gas Mileage In 2019

There are a lot of reasons to improve your automobile gas mileage. It starts with the costs that you pay at the pump, with fluctuating gas prices reminding consumers that spending time on the road isn’t always cheap. Then there is dependence on foreign oil (which affects countries with higher use or without vast reserves), not to mention peak oil projections that lead to a lot of people wanting to cut back, in order to benefit the community at large and for the future of the planet. If any of this resonates with you, you can use some of these handy tips to get the best mpg (miles per gallon) possible out of your vehicle.

Improve MPG with Easy Changes

Here are some of the top ways that drivers improve the mpg of their cars, SUVs, trucks and other vehicles.

  1. Unload Vehicles: Driving around with extra weight requires your engine to burn a lot more gas. Take out heavy extras when they’re not needed for a trip, and you’ll be cutting down your overall fuel consumption.
  2. Keep Tires Properly Inflated: Well inflated tires can help you avoid some kinds of road accidents, and save you gas money at the same time. Studies have shown that vehicles get significantly better mpg when all four tires are inflated to capacity. Seasonal changes and other factors mean that your tire inflation can change over a month or two, so keep monitoring your inflation levels for the best results.
  3. Use the Right Motor Oil: Other research has shown that using the correct grade of motor oil can also help with fuel economy. This is as easy as spending that few extra seconds looking for the right grade of oil, or requesting it for your ‘instant oil change.’
  4. Maintain Your Fuel Economy System: Many newer vehicles have sophisticated electronic systems that are made to ensure good mpg by optimizing the fuel mix and other engine performance factors. Letting this system fall into disrepair will cause your vehicle to burn more fuel on every trip. Don’t just ignore your broken O2 sensor or clogged catalytic converter. When the check engine light comes on, get the issue fixed even if it doesn’t impair your use of the car, and you’ll be contributing to better long-term maintenance and fuel economy.
  5. Drive Slower: Charts of fuel consumption by speed show that your fuel economy maxes out around 50 mph and then gradually goes down until at 70 to 80 mph. At the average speed on some highways, you may be getting pretty poor mpg. Some drivers who have decided to use the slow lane on long trips have found that they save quite a bit of gas this way.
  6. Drive Consistently: Some environmental advocacy groups recommend using the cruise control on your vehicle to maintain a constant speed, which lowers the amount of fuel use and improves mpg. To drive efficiently, avoid those quick acceleration moves that make your engine work a lot harder.

These are just some of the ways you can improve the fuel economy of a vehicle without swapping it in for a more expensive high-mpg model. Eventually, newer cars will have better fuel economy built into them, but for now, lots of conscientious drivers are choosing some of these popular fuel-saving approaches.

Secrets To Car Warranties

Car warranties ensure that if your car breaks down, you will have the necessary funds available to repair it. There are numerous companies offering car warranties today, but not all of them are created equal. To get the best deal on a car warranty, you must arm yourself with information that helps you pick the good warranty companies from the bad. To help you in the process, here are 4 secrets of car warranties that everyone should know before putting money down on one.

1. Prices are Negotiable

You may think the price on the manufacturer’s extended warranty is set in stone, but think again. Like the price of the automobile, the cost to cover repairs can also be negotiated. To ensure you get the best rate on auto warranties, call a few dealers to find out what their prices are on extended warranties. Once you’re armed with general pricing information, begin the negotiation process. Don’t be afraid to low ball the initial quote, in an effort to bring down the overall cost of the warranty. You and the dealer are likely to meet in the middle between their initial quote and your counter offer

2. Costs Can Be Financed

When you are shopping for auto warranties on new vehicles, the cost of the warranty can often be folded into the car’s financing arrangement. Instead of paying a large sum when the warranty needs to take effect, you see a small increase in your monthly payment amount. However, some dealers only quote a monthly rate on the warranty. When you are planning to add the cost of the warranty to your car finance, ask about the total cost before you sign on the bottom line. This will tell you whether you are getting a fair price and assist with the negotiation process listed above.

3. Warranties Can Be Transferred

Extended used car warranties can often be transferred to the new owner of a vehicle when the car is sold. If you are selling a car with an extended warranty, this fact is a good selling feature, offering additional value to the prospective owner. If you are purchasing a used vehicle, ask about extended used car warranties, to see if you can keep the warranty currently in effect. In some cases, this transfer requires a letter from the current owner and a small transfer fee. Transfer the policy when you purchase the vehicle, to ensure repairs are covered right away.

4. Third Party Warranties

Many car purchasers turn to third-party warranties as a means of saving money. Because some auto manufacturers have closed down recently, manufacturer warranties are not holding as much attraction as they once did. However, if you decide to go with a third party warranty, thoroughly research the company and read the fine print of the policy before purchasing. This extra effort may go far in protecting you from fraud and lack of coverage when you need it most.

Car warranties can be very helpful in covering repairs to your vehicle after the initial warranty expires. By observing these secrets of the warranty industry, you can save money and ensure complete coverage of your automobile.

Should Your Teen Take A Driver Prep Course

In most states, before you can go to driver’s ed you need to get your learners permit. But in a lot of states, like Maryland, the learners permit test can be really hard. The Maryland driving handbook is over 100 pages long and sometimes it can be hard to retain that information even if you take a few months to study it.

Before your teen gets in the car or even takes the test you may want to look into Driver Prep classes. These are very different than driver’s ed and are sometimes free for parents. They really help your teen get a leg up on the learners permit test and become safer drivers before getting into the car.

This course breaks up the driver manual into easy to learn and easy to focus parts. Most will just focus on the most important points and leave the fluff aside. While you shouldn’t ignore anything in the drivers manual, you shouldn’t have to study every word either.

In addition, these courses also emphasize practice exams. Lots of them with lots of questions.

The tests resemble the actual exam you’ll take at your local Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) office. All feature multiple choice questions based on material found in your state’s driver license handbook.

Topics include:

  • Identifying traffic signals and road signs.
  • Identifying road lines.
  • Driving at night.
  • The dangers of drinking and driving.
  • Hand signals.
  • Actions to take when emergency vehicles approach.
  • Turning at intersections.

All the tests include explanations to both correct and incorrect answers, giving you a comprehensive understanding of the topic matter.

Unlike a drivers ed class, a drivers prep course is not required for obtaining a learner’s permit and/or driver’s license. These courses are strictly voluntary and come highly recommended for prospective teen drivers.

Thaw Out Your Car For Spring

Are you sick of winter yet? I know I am! But the end is almost near and soon it will be time for those glorious road trips. The windows rolled down, some good music playing on the radio, and a long stretch of highway in front of you. Hurry up spring, we miss you!


Of course you can’t go on those long road trips without getting your car prepared. Here are some quick tips to make sure you get to where you’re going and not sitting on the side of the road.


Check Your Tire Tread

Checking your tread is pretty easy. To check the depth simply place the edge of a penny into the tread of each tire. If the tread covers Abe Lincoln’s head you are good to go. If not, then you need new tires.


Check Your Battery

If your battery is more than four years old and sometimes takes a few seconds to start your motor, you should take it to your local auto parts supplier to get tested and, if necessary, replaced.


Top Off Your Coolant

Make sure your coolant is at the proper level. Most cars have a fluid level gauge, so consult your owner’s manual to find out how to check the level on your particular model. Make sure you only open the coolant cap when your car is cool. Opening the cap when your car has been driven can be very dangerous.


Check Your Brakes

Make sure your brakes are in good working order. If you they are not “catching” properly, scrub, or take longer to stop than they should take your car to a mechanic to get them checked. It may be a good idea to do it anyway just to be extra safe.


Change Your Oil

Regular oil changes can make all the difference in making sure your car has a long, healthy life. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for oil change intervals and oil viscosity, and make sure to change the oil filter as well. Some car shops offer fluid top offs, tire checks, battery checks, and even tire rotation included their oil change prices, so you can take care of almost all of your spring maintenance in just one stop.