Unlike cassette adapters, fuzzy dice, and automatic seat belts, the car dashboard camera – or “dash cam” if you’re one of the cool kids – is no fad. As a matter of fad-ct, these little gizmos are some of the most useful car accessories I’ve come across in all my years behind the wheel. They can be installed in any vehicle. They are surprisingly affordable. They are incredibly simple to use. And the footage they film can help drivers win their insurance claims — or sometimes even put the kibosh on an insurance scam altogether.
Yeah, my love of dash cams is (now) well-documented. But are they illegal to use here in Kansas City? Here’s everything you should know before you go and buy a dashboard camera for your vehicle.
Like any first-time purchase, buying a set of new tires can be quite nerve-racking. You’ve got to worry about things like tire brand, ratings and grades, longevity, size, tread, type, price, retailer, installer – and the list goes on. Yikes! But don’t worry, friend, because I’m here to help you make the right call. Review these 15 how-to tips for choosing the best tires for your car, and drive onward.
Check Your Tire Tread
When should you replace your tires? Perform the Penny Test (or similar) to see how much tread you have left. This will give you an idea of when you’ll need to install new tires.
Say “No” to Used Tires
Yes, used tires are cheaper. Yes, cheap tires are attractive to anyone on a budget. Yes, old tires will probably work in a pinch.
But used tires are also dangerous – you never know what they’ve been through or how much longer they have left to live! It’s always better to install new tires, even if your pockets don’t like it. Safety first.
Some goon smacked a shopping cart into your bumper. Bummer. Instead of bringing your vehicle to an auto body shop for a quick repair, you decide to go the DIY route by purchasing a retail dent puller gizmo. But do these cheap dent removal kits actually fix car dents, dings, and dimples? Or are you just wasting your money?
For the most part, these simple dent repair kits only fix minor dings in certain areas of a vehicle. They require the area around the damage to be flat, thin, and flexible, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to pull a dent out of bumpers, fenders, mirrors, and other angular parts of your vehicle. But, if you have a small depression in your hood or door, these products can save you money on repairs.
What’s black, white, and red all over? If you said, “my driveway,” then your car may be leaking…something. But what, exactly, is that hideous pool of liquid?
Don’t go dipping your pinky in a puddle of driveway-goo. There’s an easier way to figure out what your car is leaking; unless you’re colorblind, you can probably identify car fluid drips by eye. In fact, you don’t even need a particularly well-trained eye to get to the bottom of a car leak, as there are only a handful of fluids that could be the culprit.
Dark or Black Fluid Leaks
Brown, amber, or black fluids, especially when sludgy or thick, usually indicate an engine oil leak. (The smoking gun is if soaks into the ground and stains it black.)
Cars can leak oil – this is just a fact. Typically, a little drop of engine oil is not serious enough to warrant a trip to your auto mechanic. Your car’s oil may seep out of your oil filter’s gasket or seal if it’s not fastened well enough. Apply some elbow grease and you should be good to go.
However, drips can be a sign that something is awry under your car. If your car continues to leak oil, you could have a punctured oil pan, faulty oil filter, corroded drain plug, or any number of damaged car parts. A visit to your auto service center or a local oil change shop should set you straight.
Electric cars are a rare breed within the auto world. Unlike “normal” cars, EVs don’t require regular oil changes, nor do they need new spark plugs or yearly emissions inspections. Heck, it’s unusual to even change the brakes on an EV thanks to regenerative braking technology and the electric motor’s ability to stop without any mechanically based friction. They truly are works of art that also reduce auto maintenance costs significantly.
While electric car maintenance is easier and costs less than that of gas-powered vehicles, it doesn’t mean EV owners can forego trips to their local auto service center. Electric vehicles have their own list of auto service demands – some of which are shared with conventional vehicles – and if those demands are not met, you can assume a very costly repair will be right around the corner. Here are 10 of the most vital EV maintenance tasks that should never be skipped.
Can you name any of these car parts? Take the quiz; I’ll wait.
So, how’d you fare? Are you as knowledgeable as a mechanic or did you flunk your exam in spectacular fashion? If you’re part of the latter group, it’s time to enroll at the Lauren McCarthy Online Summer School, where you’ll receive an introductory lesson on the most common car parts and how they function to make a vehicle do what vehicles do.
And when I say “enroll,” I of course mean “review this huge list of car parts and terms that I’ve compiled.”
1. Turbocharger – The function of a turbocharger is to significantly increase an engine’s horsepower without affecting its overall weight. How does it work? They are a forced induction system that compresses the air going into the engine. When the air is compressed it allows the engine to squeeze more air into the cylinder. This, in turn, allows more fuel to be added, which then results in a powerful explosion in each cylinder.
Every state has crafted its own set of child car seat laws. For instance, Florida’s laws are quite lax, allowing kids older than age 5 to be fastened with a seat belt, whereas New York’s laws strictly state children through age 8 must be secured in a child safety restraint system. (To each their own, eh?)
But what about child car seat laws in Missouri and Kansas? Are you buckling up your child properly? To ensure your kids are safe in their infant, convertible, or booster seats, review the states’ most recent child passenger safety and restraint laws by age, weight, and height.
Sometimes a garage isn’t in the cards, and you must leave your vehicle to battle outdoor threats alone. But with a good deal of preparation and the proper products, you can protect your new car from bad weather, the sun, and almost every other external evil. Here are a few helpful tips to keep your vehicle from breaking under the pressure of being an outside car.
This year, it’s your turn to revel in being a mother on Mother’s Day. Congratulations! That new baby in your arms has changed you from being the one buying the gifts and cards into the one receiving them. Of course, being a mother isn’t all about sweetly sentimental presents. In fact, there’s a lot of stress involved in your new role, too! That’s why I’ve rounded up five tips to make life with a new baby in the car safer, easier, and more enjoyable.
It’s already plenty nerve-wracking buying a used car. You might wonder if there’s an underlying mechanical problem or worry about the after-effects of a previous accident. Now, with the recent flooding along the Missouri River, there’s one more thing to worry about: whether or not the car you’re considering has been damaged by a flood. It’s an unfortunate reality for some shoppers, as thousands of cars from all over Kansas City have been damaged by water, then cleaned up for sale. How do you spot one of these vehicles?
Signs of Flood Damage in a Used Car or Truck
A few specific signs can indicate an issue with past water damage:
- Water lines or condensation in the lights. Unless the lights were completely replaced, you may be able to detect the faint signs of water lines or condensation on the lens or reflector of the front or rear vehicle lights. These are hard to clean completely.
- Damp, musty carpets & mats (or brand-new carpeting). The carpets can give you a great clue about past water damage. If they were not removed right away and carefully dried, they’ll still smell like dirty water or mold. Check underneath the floor mats for any sign of unusual grime or mud. Obviously, if carpeting was just replaced, you might inquire as to why, as this is not normal.