Under the Hood

What's the one thing you wish you understood about cars?

November 19, 2009

 We all wish we better understood or knew how to fix something on our car. I would love to know how to change a tire.

Have you ever found yourself on the side of the road, in the middle of the night, with a flat? I have! And it is not a good feeling. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to be home snuggled up on my couch, instead of off the shoulder of the highway in the dark of the night. What about you? I wanna hear what you think. What’s the one thing you wish you understood or knew how to fix on your car?

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  • CKELL November 20, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    It would be a good idea to invite female customer’s to your dealership for seminars on vehicle maintenance. You could demonstrate how to change the spare tire, check your oil, how to use jumper cables when your battery is dead. I know that there are a lot of Dad’s that worry about their daughter’s being stranded on the side of the road day or night!

  • Lauren McCarthy November 21, 2009 at 9:50 am

    I think that is a great idea! All of those things are fairly simple, but are a definite “need to know”! My father would agree with you…And for my own personal safety-I would like to know, as well.
    Thanks for the suggestion!
    I’d be curious to know…What’s the one thing you wish you knew how to fix on your car?

  • mnaines November 22, 2009 at 8:08 am

    One thing I would like to learn how to fix is the engine itself – not just routine maintenance, but also installing performance parts.

    The main issue I have with cars is the factory warranty. I am hesitant to buy new cars because all the stuff I want to do to the cars would void the warranty – my goal is to build cars for car stereo competitions and for car shows, but most new cars don’t come with competition-ready stereos. Everyone is bragging about having satellite radio, but I am more of the HD Radio type of person. Every automaker is bragging about having subwoofers in the car, but those subwoofers don’t do much at all. 8 inch or 6 inch subwoofers are pointless. You won’t get the full low-frequency sounds unless you have a ten or twelve inch subwoofer. Most car stereo competition cars have two tens or two twelves with an amplifier on both the speakers and on the subwoofers.

    The typical car stereo competition setup is high-end speakers with multichannel amplifiers between the stereo and the speakers, two 10 or 12 inch subwoofers (10 inch for sound quality competitions or 12’s for decibel competitions) with a mono amplifier (kilowatt amps for decibel competitions which can require amps upwards of 6,000 watts; 300 watt amps for sound quality competitions), a 160-ampere or 180-ampere alternator to power the whole thing, an Optima Yellowtop battery to provide deep-cycle capability, 8-gauge wires from the alternator to battery, chassis to ground, and engine block to ground, and shielded speaker wires to provide the best sound quality.

  • Lauren McCarthy November 23, 2009 at 10:09 am

    I shared your comments with my Parts Manager, Mike:

    It’s going to depend on what you’re installing…what you’re replacing…and which parts you’re using.
    GM Performance Parts will not void your warranty…

    But, if you do anything specific to the drivetrain or engine. Yes, you will void your warranty.

    If there is something specific that your are referring to, I may be able to give you a more direct and specific answer…let me know where I can help…

    Good luck in your next USACI competition!

  • mnaines November 24, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Lauren, the specific thing I was referring to…Generally when cars are built for USACI competitions, the alternator is usually upgraded to the largest alternator that can fit in the car, and that usually requires going aftermarket. Other than that, the only other modifications in the engine bay are using an Optima Yellowtop battery, wiring for a Capacitor, and upgrading the “Big Three” – Alternator to Battery, Engine Block to Ground, and Chassis to Ground wires to either 8 gauge or 4 gauge. My question is, would the aftermarket alternator void the warranty or would GM Performance Parts have a 180A alternator available for any of its models so I could take the car to USACI?

  • mnaines November 24, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    Another question I have, but I don’t know if you or your dad could do anything, is see if Chevy could create a specific model or option package for USACI competitions. Like taking a Camaro or Cobalt and making a variant of either model or option package that would come equipped with dual 10 inch or dual 12 inch subwoofers, an upgraded alternator, upgraded wiring, a top-of-the-line sound system, amplifiers, and interior LED or Neon lighting that dances to the beat. To be honest with you, if Chevy offered such a package or model, I would not hesitate to save up money to buy it. I am sure Chevy would easily make much more money than they do now if they cater to that market.

  • Lauren McCarthy November 25, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Here’s your answer: GM Performance Parts offers a 90-AMP (competition use) (proven in Nascar use)…
    Not quite your 180-A alternator.

    Also, just simply adding or replacing a part does not void the warranty. However, if it causes a failure to something else, it will void your warranty.

    Thanks for all the questions and comments! I do appreciate it!

  • brightadventure November 30, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    I vote yes, on the knowing exactly how to jump a car…though I’ve been present with it being done many a times, I’m a bit scared of the whole electricity thing. Everyone seems to have a different idea on what should be connected where (e.g. one going on the frame to ground it), which car should be started first, and for how long…

    • Lauren McCarthy December 2, 2009 at 12:55 pm

      It’s definitely a YES in my book, as well. Especially during the cold weather.
      I spoke to one of my service managers here — The correct way to jump a car is this:
      1. Locate Positive and Negative terminals on both vehicles (may be located in different spots)
      2. Hook the battery cables up on the ‘running vehicle’
      3. Positive with positive post
      4. Negative with negative post
      5. Hook up the battery cables up on the ‘dead vehicle’
      6. Positive with positive post
      7. Negative with negative post
      8. Now start the ‘running vehicle’ and run engine for a while
      9. Try to start ‘dead vehicle’

      FYI: Do not let the cables (positive and negative) touch each other – will cause a spark and damage battery. Be careful!