The “Check Engine” Light: Should it be a cause of worry?

The “Check Engine” Light, also known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp, is usually a cause of worry for many car owners. It is designed to activate in instances when the car’s computer system notices something wrong with the electronic control system. But what else does this warning device tells us aside from the fact that there is “something wrong” with our vehicle? Below, I have listed some specific malfunctions that would activate our car’s Check Engine Light (CEL).

Check Engine LightOxygen Sensor: It is the sensor that keeps track of how much oxygen in the exhaust has been burned. A busted oxygen sensor may cause a decrease in gas mileage an increase is harmful fuel emissions. If this incident is the cause of the CEL, replace your oxygen sensor as soon as you can. Damage to such sensors can be caused by oil ashes that cover it over time.

Loose Gas Cap: A faulty gas cap is probably the last thing one can think of when it comes to finding the reason for CEL’s warning. And although it’s as simple as it sounds, this problem should considered seriously as not replacing a loose gas cap could lead to excessive fuel vapors, resulting to a decrease in gas mileage.

Worn-out spark plugs: Like the engine, radiator, and alternator, the spark plug can be identified as an essential car part. Worn-out spark plugs cause major issues with the car’s acceleration power, causing the CEL to activate. When you encounter such cases, simply replace your car’s spark plug with a newer piece and things should be back to normal in no time.  So there. Faulty spark plugs should not be a cause of worry to car owners, but it should be addressed once identified.

Catalytic Converter: The combustion process of this car part converts the gasses within the engine to a less harmful exhaust. Once you realize that the CEL is pointing to the failure of the catalytic converter, make it a priority that you have it repair or replaced; further damage would mean more expense for the owner. That would be a real bummer. So act quickly.

Airflow Sensor: The airflow sensor incorporates proper distribution of air intake and fuel in the engine system. A busted airflow sensor can cause a decrease acceleration power, an increase in emission and an increase in gas consumption as well. An improperly-installed airflow sensor could be the cause of such a malfunction.

The problems listed above shouldn’t be that much cause of a worry as they are usually very easy to fix. As long as you are always conscious with your car’s warning devices, you won’t suffer any serious accidents. So the moment you notice that your Check Engine Light is flickering, take your car to your trusted automotive shop.

Things to Consider before Changing your Horn

Have you ever thought of actually changing your car horn? I myself have been contemplating whether or not I should replace the horn of my vehicle, which, by the way, still functions properly. But if you compare the power of my car horn with recent models, mine would definitely pose no match. But hey, it’s still doing its job, right? So why change it? Below I have listed some reasons why it is necessary for car owners to change their car horn.

Replacing your Car HornIn certain emergency situations, fellow drivers and defenseless pedestrians would not know that your car would be running their way unless you hunk your horn at them. Though it can be irritating when drivers honk their horn more often that they need to, we cannot deny the fact that it an essential car tool, and that it needs to be kept in tip-top shape.  Maximizing the principle of safe driving involves the maintenance of your car horn, for it gives better precaution for the vehicles and pedestrians in your presence.

If the sound of your horn has significantly weakened, then change it! This particular action is quite obvious, and its principle is applied to a lot of our lot other things in our life. When something is broken, our natural response is to fix or replace it. Remember, a broken or faulty car horn is something that you should take seriously; you’ll never know when you might get into a complicated or dangerous situation. Don’t delay its replacement. Act quickly.

Distorted horn sounds are not a good sign. If your car horn has started to emit ominous noises that it shouldn’t be making, consider contacting your trusted supplier of essential car parts for the needed replacement. If you think that the problem is only a result of faulty wiring, then you may try to get it fixed. But if the answer remains to be a mystery, then go right ahead and replace the horn. Remember, a horn that is working excellently, accompanied by responsible driving and obedience to traffic rules, will always lead to safer trips.

How to Drift your Car

Drifting is one of those ways in which a race car driver is able to make huge, sharp curves without having to greatly decrease their speed. It is a method that has been utilized in the sport of car racing for years now, but it has recently developed a popularity in the world of street racing through the 2006 movie, “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.” Most of those who have seen the movie were surely amazed on the epicness of the stunts. However, I’m sure that there are few people out there have wondered if the drifting done in the movie could be done in real life. Of course some of the more extreme stunts belong to a level of impossibility that can only be done in the movies. The question I ask is a realistic one: How can we do a perfect basic drift in real life?

Drifting CarAt times when you are driving on a straight path with a sharp curve coming ahead, go to a full speed, preferably 4 notches lower than the top speed of your car. Once you are almost at the corner, (if it’s a corner turning to the right), suddenly turn your wheel towards the angle of the curve and shift your gear to a lower level (from 4th to 3rd gear for example). Once the head of the car turns to the direction of the curve, you can switch back to your previous gear. Now pound the gas pedal by flooring it.

To point out the obvious, the particular technique shown above is only applicable with stick shifts. Cars with an automatic transmission would have another way of actually doing a drift. The Drifting Method I just talked about is actually also applied to automatic transmissions, only this time we also involve the function of the Hand Break. If you want to drift your automatic car, you would also have to turn your steering wheel at a full speed to the direction of the curve. Although in this case, while you are turning your car, you should put your hand break to use if you want a smooth and successful drift. Once your car is turned to the direction of the curve, let go of the handbrake to regain the full speed of the car.

Did this article made drifting sound easy to do? Well, truth be told, it can be rather difficult to pull off if. So before you even go to the details of doing complicated drifts, be sure to be able to at least perfect a basic one.

The Most Stolen Cars in the Metro

Recently, I have watched the news and saw that there have been a very big number of stolen car cases in the metro. It’s actually quite alarming as I have already set my mind in buying a car. But if this is the case, then I should probably rethink my options. Poverty in the Philippines might be one of the main reasons why people commit such crimes. Excluding times when Manny Pacquiao is engaging in a boxing match, crime rates have been consistently increasing,

One decision that might prevent the rise of carjacking is to purchase a car that won’t call the attention of car thieves. The above statement may suggest that I’m persecuting drivers for owning luxurious cars, but I assure you that that isn’t the case. The less glamorous a car is, the less likely that it’ll be stolen from a packed parking lot. I was surprised in my research when I found out that car thefts are statistically more prone to certain models of cars. Number one in the list would be Toyota Fortuners.

Car TheftThe Toyota Fortuner is a Sport Utility Vehicle that is considered to be one of the most efficient vehicles of its generation, thanks to the superiority of its quality car parts. The Philippine National Police – Highway Patrol Group has recently declared this vehicle as the most stolen car in the metro. It is said to be sold at half of its original price of 1.3 Million, which is a price that very much cheaper compared to buying a brand new model from a car dealer.

Commonly used as a public transportation vehicle and a school bus for students, the second car model to be included in the list is the Nissan Urvan. I did not expect this particular vehicle to at 2nd place, considering that its look is not that elegant in terms of prestige. And because Nissan parts are very expensive compared to other car brands here in the Philippines, I cannot fully understand the reason behind this fact. Oh, well. Either Nissan Urvan drivers tend to not lock their doors, or some car thieves just don’t know what a great car looks like.

Next up on the list of the most stolen cars in the metro: The Toyota Vios. Its popularity amongst car thieves could be due to the fact that it could be transformed into a taxi, which would cover up the car’s original look.  Last on our list is the Honda City. It is one of the more fuel efficient cars, even more efficient than its counterparts in Toyota. And though its parts are more expensive than those of Toyota’s, it consistently fulfills the job that it’s expected to do.

Truth on Myth: Stick Shift Cars Going out the Door

Manual Transmission CarIn you take a look at today’s first world countries, you’ll see that stick shift cars are no longer commonly used. The comfort of not having to shift gears has definitely provided a lot of ease to anyone who owns an automatic vehicle. Those who just want to take things easy should have no complaints with their automatic cars, but when it comes to the “need for speed”, stick shift cars really do break necks!

Stick shift cars, which can also be referred as Manual Transmissions or Manual Gearboxes, have been used for several decades in motor vehicles. It uses 1) a clutch to transfer torque from the engine to the transmission of a car and 2) a gear stick that regulates what gear the car would be in to. Perfect Shifting is known to be the best way to maximize the speed of a car. The maximum speed of manual gearboxes can never be matched by automatic transmissions, because the “Perfect Shift” concept would not take place without the help of a driver’s manual shifting.

Right below is a list of reasons why stick shift cars are very much more versatile when compared to its counterpart.

More Power: Manual transmissions will always overpower the capabilities of automatic cars. If the driver of a manual transmission times his shifting perfectly, he or she could reach speeds that could make Flash dizzy.

Stick Shift PedalsClimber: The superior power of manual transmission lessens the difficulty of having climbing steep roads and hills. During driving circumstances that involve “climbing”, experienced drivers will shift their car down in order to match the speed the car is actually going in to.

Burn Out: A manual can actually have a burnout stage that could result in a Lightning Start. This will grant manual transmissions a hefty advantage over automatic transmission when it comes to acquiring an agile head start.

Edgy Corners: Since the driver using a manual transmission would have total control of their car, they can squeeze through tight turns and swerve through harmful potholes as long as they time their shifting correctly. When faced with such tricky turns, shift down to make the perfect turn and shift up again so you can accelerate in style.

The abovementioned practices are ways in which a driver can maximize the full speed of their car. Remember that you can only make the most of your car when using a manual transmission! So if you are a driver that has a BIG need for speed, stick shift cars are the best for you!

LPG Gas Conversion Procedure

Oil price hikes have recently become very frequent. Because of this, car users have thought of several ways on how they would be able to cope with the rapid rise of oil prices. A few brilliant minds have come up with innovative ideas over the years. A popular example of such an innovation would be the electric-powered car. Some are patiently and eagerly waiting for the water-powered car, which is rumored to be only a few years away. Others, on the other hand, are currently opening up to the idea of the LPG-powered car. All these inventions sound pleasing to the ears, but what are their pros and cons?

LPG CarThe electric powered car has not exactly reached a heightened popularity as it demands to be recharged over and over again. (You do not want to run out of power while you’re driving in the middle of nowhere.) Electric cars has a number of advantages (reduction of consumer’s dependency on fossil fuels, the decline in Greenhouse Gas), but consumers would not be able to make use of it on an everyday basis for their convenience.

Since the water-powered car is still far into the future, the best option for those in the present is definitely the LPG car. LPG, also known as Liquefied Petroleum Gas, is a form of gasoline that is more environmental-friendly, which is commonly used on public vehicles (e.g. taxis). LPG is made of natural hydrocarbon fuels: propane and butane.  One great advantage of this type of gas is that it can be stored as a liquid if compressed moderately, which can be transformed into its original gas form once pressure is relieved. This will result in the reduction of pollution.

Before I go any further, I must state the important fact that LPG cars are not bought! Whether your car is brand new or second-hand is not a factor. If you want this kind of gas to power your car, you would need to convert your car first before you are able to make full use of the convenience of LPG Fuel. Although one would need a professional mechanic to do it for you, I have listed some steps and guides that could act as your trusty reference.

Choose a tank: The very first step in an LPG conversion procedure is to choose a tank that would best fit the trunk of your car. Tanks could come in different sizes or shapes, and for as long as you get the kind of tank that would be able to cope with your driving needs, you are fit to go.

Fill-in point: This is where the refills of the LPG pass through. It should be made somewhere near the gasoline to make minimal piping an advantage. Some fuel lines have their own limitations in terms of their flexibility. So before it’s too late, be sure to match the location of the fill-in point with the location of the gas tank.

LPG Tank for CarsLPG/Solenoid Valve:  Here is a component that should be installed. This kind of valve should be placed in a fuel line that’s in between the engine and the tank. It will help remove dirt after the engine has been used.

Regulator/Vaporizer: This part of the process is the most essential as it transforms the propane into the actual gas that makes the car go, “Vroom!”   

Mixer: Its function involves controlling the amount of gas that is sent to the cylinders.

The entire collection of parts mentioned above should all be wired into the car’s electrical system. This then would make an operational switching between propane and gasoline. All of this should be well wired as well in to the gas gauge for one to be able to see the status of its tank. Also, an electronic emulator would be needed to determine the right amount of gas you’d need for your tank.

Above, I have listed the things and steps you would have to consider in performing an LPG conversion. You can try this out for yourself, but if you want to play safe, consult a professional mechanic! Be sure though to take a look at the parts and process that I’ve listed so you won’t get lost in the process.

Seven Reasons Why You Should Read Your Owner’s Manual

Instruction ManualHave you already bought your dream car? If so, have you come to understand the essence of its function and anatomy? How about its pros and cons? What about the basics of it? If you lack the fundamental knowledge that pertains to your car, then it is highly advised that you start reading your “Owner’s Manual”, which is also known as the “Instruction Manual”. I know it might sound boring, vague or even useless to read or just browse through it, but trust me. In the end, you will find its tips and information to be useful and applicable. Below, I have listed seven reasons why you need to read your owner’s manual.

BasicsKnowing the basics of your car is a requirement, most especially for first-time car owners. This section of the manual will identify the locations and function of all the parts of your car.

Safety is Priority!Whether the car you’re about to purchase is brand new or second-hand, safety measures should always be prioritized. Study the safety instructions on the car manual. Always remember that every car is subject to malfunctions, so carefully inspect the quality of its performance each time you take it for a drive.

Programming and Installation It may be the most recent touch-based car radio, flat-screen monitor, or a state-of-the-art sound system. It may even be a fancy GPS. But whatever it is, we know that most cars today have a gadget or program built into it. Going through the owner’s manual should prevent you from having any disastrous miscalculations when it comes to operating these gadgets.

MaintenanceMaintaining a car is no joke, and can sometimes be compared to the hardships of raising a baby. Every baby has their own needs, and so does cars. A car would need to be maintained once in a while for it to continuously work as it always should.

WarrantySurely, a good warranty is something a driver would love to have along with his brand new car, for it grants peace of mind. In case any damages have been incurred due to factory defects, a warranty should comfort the owner as he takes his car back to the dealership for some fixing. Although, you must remember that warranties are not in the owner’s manual per se, as it is different in terms of paper. What you need to look for in an owner’s manual is any indication of the necessary warranty.

Car ToolsSupplies Tools are nowadays being bundled with the car’s package, and it will be very important for you to know the purpose of each particular tool. The manual should make it clear that every tool is designed for a specific car part. Memorize them, and you should be fine if ever you encounter a flat tire.

Upgrades!Upgrades are most common for men, and they tend to upgrade their car every once in a while. If you among this group of drivers, you must know that certain upgrades are not compatible with every car. This is where the owner’s manual comes into play. Whenever an intent to upgrade comes along, always remember to check the owner’s manual if the desired upgrade will be compatible with your car.

All in all, even though you might think that you already know the ins and outs of you car, it is always best if you study the owner’s manual!

What is Defensive Driving?

Defensive DrivingAll drivers share mutual responsibilities that pertain to the rules of the road. The lives of his passengers, the driver’s own life, the car’s well-being, and the lives of the people around the road are part of the driver’s responsibilities whilst behind the wheel, whether it be on a furious highway or on a small, quiet street inside a subdivision. Whatever he does, good or bad, will contribute to the condition of the traffic he is in. That is why there is sadness in the thought that most drivers nowadays don’t consider these little things. It is wise to be aware of the basic principles behind driving; one of such principles is called Defensive Driving.

If I were to guess, I would say that most people know the basic meaning of Defensive Driving, especially the ones who drive their own car. Defensive driving is a philosophy that follows a principle of safe driving for both drivers and passengers. The driver who aims to apply this must commit in a style of driving that would avoid all threats of accidents and law-breaking. Defensive driving could be practiced through several ways. Below are the essential tips that, if followed, will lead to efficient and effective Defensive Driving.

Know your car! – Before taking your car on the road, knowing its limitations and capabilities is one of the most crucial practices in safe driving. Once you know what your car can and can’t do, you would be able to avoid engaging in activities that’s beyond the potential of your particular car.

Double check everything! –  Now that you have the required information about your car, it would be very important to double check everything – starting from your engine all the way to the seat belts – before any driving takes place. It avoids accidents and malfunctions that might cause you to use it improperly.

Attentiveness and Consciousness – Being attentive to everything that is happening around you while driving is another key to defensive driving. While there are the “road hazards” and “aggressive drivers” you can’t avoid, it will be very important that you do not lose track of them. Keep your distance from the dangers that they may cause to you, your car, and your passengers.

Texting while Driving

Here is an example of what you should NOT do while driving.

No to Multitasking! – Although multitasking is a common practice in today’s fast-faced world, it is an activity that should be avoided while driving. To eat, drink and engage in phone calls while operating your car is to increase the possibilities of life-threatening accidents.

Turn Signals – Turn signals, head and rear lights are made to be used. You should be able to utilize them accordingly in order to let the other driver know of your pending actions. If you are to turn right, activate the necessary signal. The same principle can be applied to the mirrors attached to your car; their inclusion is not without purpose, and to ignore them completely would definitely be reckless and unwise.

No to heavy emotions ­– Driving under heavy emotions, such as stress and depression, could cause drivers to be more aggressive as their state of mind is not on the same level as driving. Be sure that once you are behind the wheel, you have composed yourself by putting away all possible distractions.

There are numerous ways a driver can practice defensive driving. The ones listed above are the most common ways on how you would be able to avoid accidents. Remember that there are a lot of things around you which you would not be able to control, so maximize your efforts on the things that you can control. Be a safe driver – practice Defensive Driving!

What to do When your Car Keys Get Lost

Lost Car KeysThe Car Keys are one of the most significant possessions of every car owner out there.  Without it, you’re driving nowhere. Every day activities like food-shopping and friend-visiting are much more comfortable within the control of our vehicle. So what if one day you suffer the inconvenience and frustration of losing your car keys? Admit it. We’ve all been there before, and we don’t like it all. Below are some tips you can do when your car keys gets lost.

Look around!

Survey every suspicious area of your house- you might be able to find a General Motors Dealership somewhere around. This is where they keep records of the keys for specific cars. Take your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The VIN is a serial number used by car dealers to identify each specific vehicles they have manufactured. Most recently manufactured cars have their VINs located right below the front part of the windshield. Usually, it is on a small square underneath the tinted area. Note that the location and appearance of the VIN will vary depending on the Year of Manufacture and Car Price. Take you VIN to a General Motors Dealership and you should be able to acquire a new set of keys for your car.

Locksmiths!Car Locksmith

Contact a locksmith nearest to your area. Locksmiths are the geniuses when it comes to impenetrable fortresses! Provide them with all the necessary information about your car. This will help them identify what particular keys are needed and how the cuts are to be made. Be sure to give the locksmith what he needs; enlighten him with all the essential information about the car that would later lead in a brand new set of keys. Remember, before you call a locksmith, be sure you have solid confirming regarding your ownership of the car.

The aforementioned ways are the top possible ways you may be able to do when you lose your car keys. Depending on the model of the car, the 2rd tip I have mentioned might not be applicable as some of the most recent manufactured vehicles has chips on it. In this case, there will be no other way but to contact your dealer and provide them with all the information they need to prove that you own the car.

Bottom line? Never lose your car keys in the first place, for it is an experience you will surely not enjoy. Be responsible, but don’t neglect to plan ahead. I myself, for example, would have several sets of keys so that in case I lose one, I will have a spare that can be used immediately.

How to Prevent your Car from Overheating

Oftentimes, when a car exceeds five years of constant usage, parts of it will naturally become more prone to malfunctions. No matter how dedicated you are in the safeguarding of your car, time will eventually take its toll on its components, including the essential engine. The engine is what keeps every car running. Without it, our car would be an “empty can”. Because of this, engines should always be taken cared of at a highest level of maintenance possible.

Overheating CarEngines are rather complex machines, but some of its most basic parts include: the cylinder, spark plug, pistons, fan belt, and the radiator. All of these parts, among many others, would have their own roles in making the car run smoothly. Hence, once the engine is “at work”, it produces heat that transforms oil into energy, causing our cars to run. Knowing this makes it clear that heat is a principle that drivers and riders of cars should be well aware of. One must know that if the engine is overwhelmed with too much heat, a lot of damage could result not only to the condition of the car, but also to the health of the car’s occupants. Below are some tips on how to prevent your car from overheating:

Brake Fluid Maintenance: Brake fluids are one of the most important fluids in a car, for it greatly contributes to the safety of both the driver and the passengers. Break fluids are not usually a high maintenance type of fluid that demands to be recurrently changed. One tip of advice though is to always check your level of brake fluid, making sure it’s always abundant in avoidance of causing hot friction on some parts of the engine.

Radiator Maintenance: If not well maintained, radiators can become a source of heat, rather than a repressor of it. Most of the old car models have this kind of problem. When a radiator runs out of water, it makes the heat spread all over the engine, causing it to malfunction in a very destructive way. One way on how to maintain a good radiator is to make sure that it is always filled with water. Also, make it a habit to always check any minor leaks that could cause the water to flow out.

Oil ChangeMotor Oil Maintenance: Motor oils are an indispensable element that makes the engine run smoothly. Its primary purpose is to lubricate, cooling the engine in the process. However, motor oils could end up contributing heat if you don’t regularly take your car out for the necessary Oil Change. The time interval regarding the cycle of your oil change depends on how often you use your car. But usually, it should be implemented on an average of every 6 months, just to be sure.

Fan Belt Maintenance: Fan belts are like the mediators in your engine in the way it exhausts heat out of the machine. A sign of a broken fan belt would be an air-conditioning system that producing very little coolness. When you discover that your fan belt has indeed stopped working, finding a replacement for it should be prioritized.

Above are just some of the things you may consider on how you could prevent your car from overheating. A lot more principles should be considered, but these factors vary on things such as: usage of car, brand of car, year model, etc. Through your own personal experiences as a driver, I’m sure you can learn more about these specifications by yourself.