Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How To Clean Your Hubcaps

The rain poured and you drove through a virtual flood. You thought your car might be swept away as shrubs and branches floated past you on the highway. Of course the waters subsided and the sun came back out. Your hubcaps are those once-beautiful formerly shiny discs on your wheels. They are now caked in mud and the build-up of dried on grime makes you think two things. How in the name of all that is good am I going to get those things clean again and wouldn't it be way easier to just buy a new set of hubcaps or wheel covers altogether?
Sure, the automotive industry is filled with online retailers offering these gorgeous car accessories at reasonable rates. They are still affordable on just about any budget. You don't even have to worry about sacrificing quality or style because you can get high quality merchandise in the latest designs.
If you need a complete set of hubcaps all you need to do is check the size of your tires. The code should be marked on the side of your tire wall, it ends in the letter "R" and another number.
The number after it should be 13, 14, 15 etc and corresponds to the size of your wheel cover. For example, the code that ends in R15 means that you need 15" hubcaps.
Yes, size matters but it's not all about the size of your hubcaps the material they are made of also makes a difference to the aesthetics and can completely change the appearance of your car. If you already have chrome on other parts of your vehicle already, either under the hood or on the outside, it gives a greater uniformity in showing as the pieces are dramatically tied together. Meanwhile, the use of black hubcaps tends to add a touch of intrigue and mystery and they are now becoming more prevalent as people get more adventurous with their customizations.
If you want to get your hubcaps sparkling again you will need to use a bit or a lot of elbow grease depending on how dirty they are. If you drove through lots of mud, there may be caked-on dirt, debris, grass and twigs lodged in that area of your vehicle and a power hose may be needed. If you can remove muddy messes early it may not take as long to wash off. You'll want to soak a rag in a soapy solution and scrub in a circular motion using a toothbrush to tackle any stubborn dirt. Meguiar's All Wheel Cleaner is perfect for factory coated or painted wheels while there are also specific Wheel Cleaners for Aluminum and Chrome Wheels. Meanwhile, you can always add the finishing touch and extra shine with Meguiar's Chrome Polish.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Staying On Top of Problems to Avoid Transmission Repair

Transmission repair can run the gamut from minor to extensive and from relatively cheap to exorbitantly expensive. While there's nothing even the most vigilant car owner can do to prevent things from going wrong, there are usually things you can do to make sure you stay on the former end of the spectrum. Proper car maintenance goes a long way, but simply making sure you pay attention to troubling signs can often save you a great deal of money in the long run. People like to pretend that ignoring problems will make them go away, but this just doesn't work. Here are some of the problems you might find. When you do, pay attention and get it addressed early.
Gear Shifting
If you're driving a vehicle with a stick shift, it's very important to stay on top of transmission repair and the problems that can arise during the operation of your vehicle. To drive a standard, you need precise timing in shifting gears. If you start to notice this timing slip, or if you simply can't get the shifter to go into the next gear, it's time to have it looked at by a professional. Manual parts are often a bit cheaper than their automatic counterparts, but they can get expensive if you need a rebuild. Check your fluid levels and get your car checked out to make sure the cables don't need adjustment.
Never ignore strange smells coming from your vehicle. The burning of fluids could definitely be a sign that something is wrong. You may have a leak or something could be overheating under the hood. You need your fluids to keep everything running smoothly and to keep those precision instruments from burning up and burning out. If you smell something burning, it could be your fluid. Take it in to a transmission repair and find out what the problem is. If you can catch a problem like this early on, it could save you hundreds of dollars in shop bills.
Check Engine Light
Car owners get endlessly frustrated with the check engine light. It means almost nothing, and yet it means everything. It can indicate anything from impending engine failure to the fact that you didn't screw your gas cap on tight enough. In the future, we may have computer banks in our dashboards that will tell us exactly what's wrong with our cars, but for now we have to take them in and have them diagnosed. The check engine light can mean you need transmission repair work, so take it in immediately when it comes on. Well, maybe check the gas cap first.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Grand Theft Auto: The 10 Worst Cities for Auto Theft

Speaking of video games, with California topping the list with 8 out of 10 worst cities for auto theft, it is a no-brainer as to the setting of the PlayStation game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
For many non-residents, the "Golden State" appears to be an ideal place to reside given its continuously warm tropical climate, numerous celebrity occupants and a shot at stardom. Flip through a celeb magazine or tabloid and stars almost always seem to be somewhere in California. Many occupy the more glamorous cities such as Hollywood, Montecito, Toluca Lake and Los Angeles. On the flip side of the glitz and glamour, California is also known for its high crime rate, magnified by television documentaries such as MSNBC's Lockup: Raw.
Recent Violent Crime Statistics
Recent national crime data statistics indicate California's average crime rate is 187 (a coincidental number based on its slang definition) for every square mile. This number significantly exceeds the U.S. national average of 34. California may be high up on the list of states to reside, but given the violent crime ratio, those considering may want to reconsider: one out of every 178 Californians is a victim of a violent crime.
Auto Theft Statistics
Though auto theft is not classified as a violent crime, the numbers are alarmingly high, especially in California. California holds 8 out of 10 spots for the ten worst cities for auto theft, up from last year's 6 out of 10. Additionally, the state's auto theft average is nearly double the national average. Recent information compiled by NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) reveals that auto theft is a worsening problem. However, others suggest there is a decrease in auto theft for the following reasons:
•Tougher laws-New and improved laws with stiffer punishments in addition to better enforcement practices have proven effective. Video and audio-equipped bait cars with tracking devices are more often utilized resulting in more captures. When jackers enter a bait car, they are recorded on video. Officers are then able to slow the vehicle with special remote control equipment or even lock the jacker inside the car before apprehending. 
•Improved factory-installed anti-theft devices-There is a commonality among car manufacturers to include anti-theft devices in newer vehicles. Sync (Ford) and OnStar (GM) are location tracking technologies that help find and recover stolen cars. 
•Securing vehicles-Locking doors, rolling up windows, closing convertible tops, not leaving keys in the car and parking where there is adequate lighting.

The information gathered to compile the list of top 10 worst cities for auto theft was taken from NICB. This nonprofit organization is located in Des Plaines, Illinois. Its mission is to deter insurance fraud and auto theft. Data was collected from population standards from the U.S. Census Bureau with zip codes tied to vehicle crime reports for metropolitan areas.
Top 10 Worst Cities for Auto Theft
The top 10 worst cities for auto theft are as follows: 
10. Yakima, Washington 
9. San Francisco/Oakland/Fremont, California 
8. Visalia-Porterville, California 
7. Stockton, California 
6. Sacramento/Arden-Arcade//Roseville, California 
5. Vallejo-Fairfield, California 
4. Spokane, Washington 
3. Bakersfield-Delano, California 
2. Modesto, California 
1. Fresno, California

With the highest auto theft rate at 812.40 (Fresno) for every 100,000 people to the lowest rate at 29.87 (State College, PA), the numbers reveal a wide gap between the top and bottom. Interestingly no metropolitan areas east of the Rocky Mountains made the top 10. Laredo, TX topped the list last year but didn't make the current list. Spokane, Washington moved from No. 18 to No. 4, a fourteen point difference. And while Albuquerque, New Mexico saw a decrease in auto theft, making its way off the list, Yakima, Washington also saw a decrease and went from No. 6 to No. 10.
California's Auto Theft Rate Imbalance
Some may wonder why California is disproportionately affected by auto theft, making up most of the top 10 list in comparison to other states. There are a few different reasons for its seemingly disproportionate statistics, which include the following:
•Cities neighboring Mexico and cities located centrally where drug and weapon trafficking business is especially high 
•Enormous population-As one of the largest states in the U.S., California also has the largest population. Thus, the more residents, the higher the rate of incidence. 
•The consistently warm temperature-California is also known for its ideal beach weather. However, this makes many of its residents prone to carelessness. Drivers leave windows down, doors unlocked and even tops down on convertibles for convenience or relief. These carefree attitudes present perfect opportunities for car jackers.

While there is no solid evidence that shows that crime rate increases as the economy worsens, common sense is necessary to help prevent auto theft. And though the numbers seem to indicate auto theft is on the decline-perhaps more so for the first time since 1967-and due to the tougher laws and practices, car thieves still find way to cash in on pettier auto-related incidences. Rims and tires remain a hot commodity. Airbags are worth $200. Profits aside, many thieves continue to steal vehicles to get from Point A to Point B. FBI statistics reveal that the financial cost of auto theft on consumes and insurance companies is at $ 8 billion per year with over one million vehicles stolen every year. Less than 60 percent are found.
How about that new car?