4 Ways To Increase Automotive Performance

In these days of high gasoline prices, it may seem ridiculous to consider ways to increase your car’s performance as they are almost always associated with increased fuel consumption. However, there are four ways to increase performance that does not have to negatively impact your gas mileage. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

1. Reusable Air Filters. Landfills are stuffed with items we use once and then throw out. Auto air filters are one such item and through the life of a car you can go through 6-12 of them with no problem. For approximately three times the price, washable and reusable air filters are a great alternative. When you purchase one it likely will be the last air filter your car will ever need. Reusable air filters enable you to gain slight increases in horsepower and acceleration as well as to impact the environment in a positive way.

2. Performance Chips. All new cars are operated by a computer chip that tells how much torque and horsepower can be displaced. Performance chips or recalibrations of your current chip can produce significant increases in horsepower and torque for your vehicle.

3. Performance Exhaust Systems. Cat-back or “catalyst-back exhaust systems” are a great way to free up trapped torque and to unleash horsepower. Keeping all the important emissions parts in place, a cat-back system incorporates large width exhaust pipes and low restriction performance mufflers into your car thereby lowering exhaust back pressure. A side benefit is a really awesome sound emitting from the exhaust system.

4. Cold Air Intake. A cold air intake is an under the hood mod that helps to reduce the temperature of the air entering the car for the sole purpose of increasing the power of the engine. Side benefits include enhancements to the appearance of the engine bay as this part can be attractive and colorful; the sound the unit makes is also appealing.

Costs for each of these performance enhancements can vary greatly. Shopping online with a trusted wholesaler is one of the best ways to find top quality parts at the lowest possible prices. By doing the work yourself, you can save a bundle and enjoy the fruits of your labor in no time.

How To Save On Car Insurance For Teens

No matter how well you prepare for it, the cost of insuring a teenage driver can result in major sticker shock. Car insurance for teens can be quite expensive. Adding a single teenage girl can cause your premiums to double immediately, and adding a boy can increase your rates by as much as three times what you’re currently paying. It’s almost enough to make you wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to just put up with another year or two of driving your teen around town.

That’s not to say that there’s no hope, though. There are definitely steps you can take to find affordable car insurance for teens and minimize the effects on your wallet.

Before You Buy:

Choose your teen’s car with insurance in mind. That means striking a careful balance between getting a car that’s new enough to have modern safety features and yet not so new that repairs would be unusually expensive. In general, look for small or mid-sized cars that are a few years old without being brand new. Sporty cars and SUVs will generally cost significantly more to insure.

If you’re not sure what to buy, call your insurance agent and ask for some recommendations. He or she should be able to list numerous makes and models that are known for their affordability when it comes to insurance rates.

As You Approach D(riving) Day:

As your teen approaches driving age, take a close look at his or her academics. Most insurance companies offer some form of good student discount, usually available to all teens with a “B” average or better. If that’s at all attainable, encourage your teen to put in the extra time necessary to do it. Depending on your provider, the discounts can be as high as 20-30%.

Even if you’re not able to benefit from a good student discount, you’ll find that many insurance providers are willing to extend additional discounts if your teen completes extra driver’s education. While private driver’s education classes can be costly in their own right, you’ll also get the satisfaction of knowing that your teen received extra supervised practice. If that’s prohibitively time-consuming or expensive, you can also check out our Online Driver Training Courses Guide for additional alternatives.

Regardless of whether you’re getting discounts, it may also be worthwhile to get quotes from a couple of new companies. Don’t assume that a good rate now means that your existing provider is going to have the best rate once you add new drivers.

You may also find that your agent can offer helpful suggestions about which driver should use each car to realize maximum savings. By listing your teen as an “occasional” driver (if it’s true) or on one of your older cars, you could see significant savings.

Last Resort:

If you absolutely can’t afford the addition of a new teen driver, there are a couple of more extreme alternatives. First, if your teen is driving a fairly old car with a clear title, you can consider purchasing just the minimum legal liability insurance. As a general rule, this is inadvisable due to the fact that it doesn’t provide good coverage in the event of an accident, but it can be done as an absolute last resort.

Even more extreme, you could consider delaying your teen’s license by a few months while you save. Many companies don’t require you to purchase additional insurance for a teen with a learner’s permit.

With proper planning, you should be able to find some way to make your teen’s car insurance rates bearable. Further, by taking cost-reducing measures like purchasing a safer car or taking extra driving classes, you’re also taking steps that reduce the likelihood that your teen will be injured in an accident – and that’s the most important thing of all.

10 Things That Make Other Drivers Mad

If you’re learning to drive or teaching a new driver the rules of the road, you need to understand proper driving etiquette. Because you’re rarely on the road all by yourself, it’s important to get along with your fellow drivers. So, check out this list of 10 driving behaviors that are sure to annoy everyone else on the road…and don’t do them!

1. Blinker Blindness: Your turn signals are not part of your portable psychedelic lightshow. They are solely to be used when you intend to make a turn or enter a road. Example: At a 4-way stop, you reach the intersection at the exact same time as the car across from you. Since neither of you have your turn signal activated, you continue straight (assuming they’ll do the same). All of a sudden, this moron makes a left turn and you almost crash into him. Don’t be that guy. A corollary to this is the person who forgets to turn their blinker off after making the lane change. This confuses every driver around you.

2. Lane Sharing: White dashed lines on the roadway indicate the separation of lanes. Do not straddle lane lines for longer than is necessary to change lanes. If you must occupy two lanes to avoid hitting something, then do so quickly and shift back into your single lane as soon as possible.

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3. Boxing Other Cars In: There is nothing worse than coming out to your car to find it “boxed in” by other cars on the curb. If a curb parking spot does not have a two foot margin on the front and rear, then you shouldn’t park there. By inching up to the cars around you, you’re leaving them with no room to get out. This is sure to infuriate other drivers.

4. Slow-poke Driving: Highways have a slow lane and a fast lane. If you are a slow driver, then please stay in the right-most lane (which is usually the slow lane). Do not drive in the fast/passing lane for any reason other than to perform a pass. Clogging up a faster lane is sure to send other drivers into a fit. Simply move over and let the crazy speedsters pass.

5. Tailgating: Tailgating is one of the most annoying driving habits. Don’t do it, ever. It frustrates other drivers and will not get you to your destination any faster. Tailgating a car to try to force them to move over can result in a road-rage incident or a crash. If you hit someone from behind, it’s always your fault for following too closely. So, think about the dangerous and wallet-shrinking consequences of tailgating before you do it.

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6. Being a Portable Snow Dispersal Unit: After a snow storm, wipe off any snow that has collected on top of your car, on each window (front, back, and sides), as well as over the headlights and tail lights. If you leave this snow in place, it can blow off while driving and blind the person behind you.

7. Driving with One Foot On Each Pedal: Unless you have a manual transmission car, driving is performed solely with your right foot. Riding the brake confuses other drivers because your brake lights are illuminated, but you’re not slowing down.

8. Poor Stop Light Etiquette: I see this often; the person who stops about 3 feet past the white line at stop lights. Not only can you end up blocking the intersection and get hit by cross-traffic, but you’re not allowing any room for pedestrians to cross safely.

9. Being a Pace Car: This usually only occurs on rural 2-lane highways. If you are driving alongside another car at the same speed, you are blocking all traffic from being able to pass. The right lane is meant for slower cars, therefore only use the left lane when passing.

10. Excessive Braking: Have you ever been in heavy traffic when the car in front of you keeps slamming on his breaks to avoid hitting the car in front of him? Or, when a car keeps tapping his breaks every minute for no apparent reason? Not only is this annoying, but it’s confusing to drivers around you. If you do this for an extended period of time, a “crying wolf” syndrome could occur. Other drivers may not react to your brake lights until it’s too late.

Ways To Update and Improve Your Car

You might think of your car as simply a conveyance that gets you from point A to point B, but maybe it’s a few years old and you are ready for an upgrade. Buying a new car may be an option, but it’s no small expense and may not be practical for you to add new or potentially higher car payments to your monthly bills. Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can upgrade your car’s appearance and features without spending a ton. Check out the six low-cost or do-it-yourself car upgrades below to learn how to make your car feel newer, inside and out.

1. Clean It Up

One of the best things about a new car is that it’s clean, shiny and has that new-car smell. You may be able to get some of the new car aroma back via an inexpensive air freshener, but scrubbing your old car from top to bottom can give it a newer look. Start with shampooing the carpet and upholstery, vacuuming the seat cushions and floor, and clearing out buildup from the engine bay. If you have the proper cleaning products, you can also clean many of the actual engine parts including the battery connections. Then, wash and wax the outside.

2. Remove Dents

Detailing your car may reveal dents and scratches you might not have noticed before. Purchase a DIY Dent Kit. These can be purchased online for as low as $20 and offer all the tools you need to flatten out dents. But keep in mind, the smaller the dent, the trickier it is to fix.

Minor dents and dings, the kind your car might receive from a hail storm, for example, can be repaired by one of two methods: paintless dent removal or the traditional body shop repair/paint method.

Because dent repair can vary in difficulty, it may be a good idea to contact a professional auto body shop or dent repair shop to fix any dent, big or small.

3. Upgrade Your Sound System

If your car is 5-7 years old (or more), there’s a good chance your sound system is out-of-date. You can get a new radio head unit that integrates with mobile devices or satellite radio and has Bluetooth capabilities for less than $100 online.

4. Turn Your Cigarette Lighter Into a Power Source

Whether you upgrade your sound system or already had one that was compatible with mobile devices, certain features will only be useful if your electronics have battery life. If you are stuck in traffic or taking longer trips, you may run out of juice before you can charge again. Add a power source through your cigarette lighter. There are units available that plug in to the cigarette lighter socket and offer USB plugs for charging electronic devices. With one of these gadgets, you don’t have to worry about your phone dying before your maps app can get you to your destination.

5. Cover up Scratches

Unsightly scratches and chips in your car’s paint may make your vehicle look aged and worn. To give your car a newer look from the outside, Consumer Reports suggests hiding the wear and tear by applying touch-up paint. Many auto dealers and some auto-parts shops have small bottles of matching paint you can purchase for a low cost. If the scratch is shallow and doesn’t hit the primer or bare metal, you may be able to just dab the paint on the scratch with a paintbrush, let it dry for a couple of days, and then polish the area with a microfiber or foam applicator pad to make sure it blends.

6. Docking Stations for Electronics

Even if you can use your electronics in the car, it may not be practical, safe, or even legal, in some cases, to hold them while you drive. However, using your phone’s navigation system may require your phone to be in clear view all the time. If your older car doesn’t have a fancy, big-screen navigation system installed in its dashboard, you can purchase a mount for your dash, center console or cupholder for your GPS-enabled phone for approximately $10 to $20.You could also create your own DIY electronics dock using a 6-inch by 6-inch piece of stiff plastic and self-adhesive strips of hook-and-loop fasteners.

While these updates and car improvements will not make your vehicle new again, they may help you see it in a new light. Knowing how to improve your car with functional upgrades or some minor body work may give you what you want in a vehicle, without having to spend a hefty amount

Need A Tune Up? Find Out Here

If your engine misfires, hesitates, stalls, gets poor mileage, is hard to start or has failed an emissions test, it clearly needs something, though a tune-up in the traditional sense might not be the cure.

If you tell a repair shop you need a tune-up, the mechanic should ask why you feel you need one before recommending any service. Just like a doctor should ask what symptoms you’re experiencing, a mechanic should seek to diagnose the problem. And just as a doctor may recommend some tests, a mechanic may do the same.

You can speed the process by being ready to describe what happens and when (such as whether your car hesitates when the engine is cold or when passing at highway speeds), any sounds you hear and what you feel when your car’s “illness” shows up.

One caution about lower fuel economy: You should expect it to go down at least a little during the cold months, and maybe a lot. Colder temperatures make your engine and charging system work harder. In addition, winter gasoline blends have slightly less energy content than summer blends, so they don’t deliver as many miles per gallon. A tune-up won’t make Old Man Winter, or his effects, go away.

What are symptoms that might make you think you need a tune-up?

* A misfiring engine (when spark plugs ignite at the wrong time) could be caused by worn or fouled spark plugs. Bad spark plugs can also cause low fuel economy, hard starting and sluggish acceleration. Most plugs, though, should last 100,000 miles or more, and engine computers do a remarkable job of compensating for worn plugs, so that might not be the main or only culprit.


* A dirty or clogged engine air filter is more likely to reduce acceleration than fuel economy, according to tests conducted by the EPA. Because filters get dirty gradually over time, you might not notice a small but steady loss of performance until your car is accelerating like a turtle. But if you haven’t changed the filter in a couple of years (or sooner in areas that have a lot of soot in the air), that could be part of the problem.

* Engine deposits caused by low-quality or contaminated gasoline create drivability problems, and the cure for that might be a fuel system cleaning, either by a repair shop or with a gas-tank additive.

* An illuminated check engine light signals when something is amiss in the emissions control system, but depending on what the issue is it could also affect fuel economy or engine performance, so don’t ignore it. A faulty oxygen sensor, for example, leaves the engine computer in the dark about how to set the air-fuel mixture, and that can result in poor fuel economy.

* An old oxygen sensor (say, 90,000 miles or more) may still work well enough that it doesn’t trigger the check engine light but could still hurt fuel economy. Engine performance can also be reduced by more serious internal problems, such as valves that don’t seat properly or worn piston rings, or by restrictions in the exhaust system.

Because the same symptoms can suggest different problems, and there are often several possible causes and cures, it’s better to consult a professional mechanic than to try to be one if you have neither the experience nor the right equipment to diagnose drivability problems.In short, rather than ask for a tune-up, tell a mechanic what you’re experiencing and ask him or her to find the cause.