Inspections Show Most Vehicles Need More Care

16427616621 bb62355888 Inspections Show Most Vehicles Need More Care
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Do you have your vehicle’s oil changed every 3,000 miles? Do you regularly check the air pressure in your tires or have them rotated on a set maintenance schedule? Are your vehicle’s fluids checked regularly?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you’re not alone.

According to the Car Care Council, 87 percent of vehicles inspected during National Car Care Month earlier this year failed one or more aspects of the annual inspection.

“Compared to the 90 percent failure rate last year, the 2004 inspection results indicate that the motoring public is beginning to understand the importance of maintaining their vehicles and is starting to take action to reduce vehicle neglect,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “While we are thrilled to see the numbers decrease, an 87 percent failure rate is too high.”

Even if you aren’t mechanically savvy, there are things you can do to keep your car in safe and working order.

Checking your car’s fluids is the first step in keeping it running smoothly. Low fluid levels can affect the safe driving performance of the vehicle and damage internal parts if not properly maintained. Twenty-three percent of cars inspected had low or dirty power steering fluid while 26 percent of vehicles had low brake fluid.

Checking tire pressure and tread depth is equally important. During the Car Care Council’s inspection, 25 percent of the vehicles were found to have improperly inflated tires and 10 percent of the tires had worn tread and were in need of replacement.

Low tire pressure decreases gas mileage and tire life, and tires with worn tread are at greater risk of losing traction on wet roads. Check tire pressure every time you fill up the gas tank.

Many roadside breakdowns can be avoided by motorists periodically checking their cars belts and hoses and replacing them when worn. At least one belt was reported as unsatisfactory in 25 percent of the vehicles inspected, and 12 percent of the vehicles required at least one new hose.

Drivers also should pay attention to the condition of their car’s battery, air filter and vehicle lighting (such as brake lights, tail lights, headlights and turn signals).

Banish Boredom With Water Sports

15812668403 35f458bf1e Banish Boredom With Water Sports
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Been there, done that.
Even the most ambitious hobbyists may find it hard to put a new spin on their favorite sport. Why not check out something new -like learning your way around a personal watercraft?

Personal watercraft (like the popular Kawasaki Jet Ski brand) have become hotter than ever and, compared to most boats, are less expensive to own and easier to operate. While the idea of motoring around the water on one of these machines may seem a little daunting at first, it’s easy to learn with proper instruction.

Once you’re on the water, there are plenty of ways to mix up your time so that you’ll always look forward to the next outing. Try these simple suggestions for making the most of your machine:

* Many towns have local personal watercraft clubs that offer tons of activities. These organizations host family oriented events and provide groups with which to go exploring.

* Get friends and family in on the act by towing them around on water skis, wakeboards or inner tubes at nearby lakes.

* Renting a houseboat? Take along your personal watercraft for exploring coves, cooling off during the hot noontime hours or making quick trips dockside to stores and snack shops. Your personal watercraft can provide just the transportation you need when it’s necessary to make contact with the rest of the world.

* Feeling adventurous? Put on your explorer cap and check out that slightly remote river that you have always wanted to hit. Take a day-long run – there are mysteries and memories to be found on hundreds of rivers nationwide.

* Whether you’re on the East or West Coast, there are endless marinas and bays to explore on your personal watercraft. Keep things interesting by visiting a new spot each time you ride.

* For the environmentally minded, the good news is that these machines are also safer for the planet. The Kawasaki Jet Ski STX-15F, for example, is powered by a high-performance four-stroke engine and has earned the highest “Three-Star Ultra-Low Emission” rating, abiding by the Environmental Protection Agency’s strictest standards, as well as the California Air Resources Board standards for 2008.

Isuzu Rodeo at Royal Welsh Show

The Isuzu Ltd. in the United Kingdom has surely made sure that the new Isuzu Rodeo Denver Max 2.5 would be known by the motoring public in the mentioned region. And with the assistance of local dealers in the area, this new vehicle would be made available for viewing and for discovery at the Royal Welsh Show this coming 24th of July up until the 27th of the same month.

Although aftermarket parts for Isuzu Rodeo would not be available at the said show, interested show goers could surely find time to go through the new Isuzu Rodeo model. In fact, at the mentioned show, visitors and guests could discover and see for themselves just what this new vehicle has to offer. And yes, the company has also presented to the public a new deal that most Isuzu owners would surely not want to miss. All customers are actually offered a free upgrade on all 3.0 Isuzu Denver Max models. Come to think of it, customers and Isuzu owners would surely save around $2,000.

What is the Isuzu Rodeo, you may ask? Well, this vehicle also is known as the Opel Frontera, Vauxhall Frontera, as well as the Holden Frontera. Different names may be confusing but all these only refer to the Isuzu Rodeo. Manufactured by the Isuzu auto manufacturer, this vehicle has certainly been in production since 1991. It took the spot that used to belong to the Isuzu Ascender and this new vehicle has been made to be a midsized sport utility vehicle. It has most certainly been built as a wagon that holds four doors. Competition in the auto market for this SUV includes the Toyota Highlander, Hyundai Santa Fe, Nissan Xterra, as well as the Jeep Liberty.

And according to Kenyon Neads, “Isuzu UK are delighted, yet again, to support the Royal Welsh Show and Welsh Farming. The Rodeo is particularly popular with the farming community due to its torquey engine and its bullet proof reliability.” Neads is the brand manager for Isuzu UK.

Temperature Sensors – Replacement Time Again?

15927987639 5fe9013394 Temperature Sensors   Replacement Time Again?
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When people in the office talk about temperature sensors they are almost certainly talking about part of a car emission control system. The engine control system adjusts the fuel and air-flow to the combustion chambers of an internal combustion engine depending on its temperature. If the temperature sensor is faulty, then the engine will not run correctly, if it runs at all.

Older drivers may remember the manual choke control that you pulled out to start the engine when it was cold, and how this was superseded by the automatic choke. Somehow the manual choke never went wrong, unlike its new and allegedly better replacement.

Temperature sensors are one of the most frequently replaced parts in an automobile.

Temperature sensors away from the world of motoring are designed to measure the temperature at different stages of a chemical or other industrial process and feed back that data to a control center. Pyrometers are specialist temperature measuring devices with a very fast response time and a very high operating temperature range.

Pyrometers may have a response time as low as 5 milliseconds and can measure the temperature without contact with the material. These features mean that a pyrometer is essential where a manufacturer wants to measure the temperature of a rapidly moving steel rod or even of a molten steel stream.

A pyrometer works by analysing the thermal radiation emitted by a hot object.

All black bodies emit radiation of the same frequency at the same temperature. An optical pyrometer the frequency emitted by an electrically heated filament is matched with the frequency of the radiation emitted by the hot object/material under test. When the two match they are the same temperature. The temperature of the filament is obtained by referring to tables of data and operating conditions.

In a radiation pyrometer the radiation emitted from the object/material under test is detected using sensor such as a thermocouple.

Show Me – Tell Me: The New Technical Checks of the Irish Driving Test.


The latest round of changes to the Irish Driving Test were implemented on, Feb.14th 2005, as part of a chain of E.U.Directives.

Test Candidates are now required to have a basic level of mechanical knowledge, which any good professional School of Motoring would have been teaching from day one in any event.

The car of today is a very different beast compared with its grandparents and any driver, young or old, should have a range of skills that enable them to identify problems and take the necessary remedial action.

The Driving Examiner will select three questions at random from a list of technical aspects which will include opening the bonnet. While it is not exactly space technology, the ability to identify this range of equipment and to describe how individual checks would be performed, does require some thought and a little practise. Some of the equipment will have accompanying warning lights on the instrument panel some does not, so some of the requirements will already be known (hopefully!)

Candidates will be asked to explain how they would perform checks on three out of the following list:-
Engine Oil: Coolant: Steering: Brakes: Horn: Indicators: Lights: Tyres: Reflectors: Windscreen washer.

The under the Bonnet checks relate to:-Power Steering Fluid; Brake Fluid; Engine Oil; Engine Coolant; and Windscreen washer Fluid. In a newer car all of these pieces of equipment are easily identifiable by coloured tops to the various reservoirs, which have an easily recognisable icon painted or etched into them. The location of these five essential items does vary a little from model to model so if you have changed your car in the lead up to the Driving Test then spend a few minutes double checking.

In the event of very bad weather (rarely a feature of the Irish climate) it is unlikely that the Examiner will ask for the bonnet to be opened but since he or she has already spent time outside the car, checking brake lights and indicators and paperwork, it’s not impossible. If he or she is a fisherman or a boating enthusiast then a few drops of rain will be water off a duck’s back. Just keep an eye on the weather and ensure that your heater or demist controls are pre-set .Two persons in the car during rainy weather will mist up the windows extremely quickly and the candidate needs to be equally deft with the controls.

Questions on brakes will cover both the footbrake and handbrake, and on steering will deal with cars that both have power steering and those that don’t .Of course there are still a few older cars out there without P.A.S. It’s worth adding to the list , one more item of importance to the Driver—that of the Alternator and it’s drive belt .The fact that all the above need to be demonstrated on the Driving Test should not detract from the need to perform these checks on a regular weekly basis. It is precisely because of the importance of all these pieces of equipment and their monitoring, that it was deemed essential to include them in the scope of the Driving Test.

Show Me –Tell Me……..Below is an example of the question and answer technique to one of the Test Questions .The full questions and answers will be provided in another follow up article and on the Astral School of Motoring website shortly.

Checking the Oil Level.
“Show me the Oil filler cap and tell me how you would check for the correct level of Oil in the Engine”…Examiner
“Here is the oil filler cap and to check the oil level I would first withdraw the Oil Dip Stick, wipe it clean and then replace it momentarily. I would then withdraw the dip stick again and ensure that the level of oil showing was between the minimum and maximum marks on the base of the dip stick, preferably nearer the maximum mark. In the event of the oil level being lower than the half way mark I would top up to the maximum level”…Candidate

This latter sentence has been put in for good measure since it’s not much good knowing how you would check the oil if you didn’t then follow through on the result!

Since all equipment in your car needs to be in tip top shape and regularly inspected if we are to stay safe and avoid accidents, look on the acquisition of these technical skills as two sides of the same coin ….Safety and Economy .If you look after your equipment you will be both safe and economic. In a number of future articles we will explore the advantages of correct techniques and the impact they will have on your safety AND your bank balance.

Tools Women Can Use to Impress Their Auto Technician

Trust, reliability and good communication are not just key ingredients to a healthy and successful relationship with your significant other. They are also instrumental to a balanced and sound relationship with your automobile and its technician.

At some point in a vehicle’s life, most women will have to take their automobile to a repair shop because it has, unfortunately, let them down.

AAA, North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, is helping women motorists jump-start their awareness in automotive maintenance with a checklist they can use to boost their car care confidence and automotive self-reliance.

“If women put off visiting an auto repair shop because of fear, it could be a recipe for disaster,” said John Nielson, director of AAA’s Approved Auto Repair program. “The more you know about your vehicle and how it operates, the better.”

AAA offers the following tips for women:

* Become familiar with your automobile’s maintenance schedule. This information is provided in the owner’s manual of your vehicle.

* Don’t wait for your car to break down to identify a repair shop. Be proactive and research where you want to take your vehicle when it’s time to be serviced.

* Gather recommendations and opinions from friends and family about auto repair shops. This will help streamline the decision-making process.

* Check with local consumer agencies to identify if the repair shop in question has any unresolved disputes.

* Find out if the shop employs ASE certified automotive technicians that are experienced working on the type of car you own.

* Select an AAA Approved Auto Repair facility. These shops undergo an extensive investigation before being allowed to enter the program and AAA is confident that they will provide competent and professional repairs.

* Communicate your vehicle’s symptoms effectively by using simple everyday language or demonstrating the problem during a test drive with the technician.

Road Safety Guides – What To Do If You Break Down

16239772356 c24ef245f2 Road Safety Guides   What To Do If You Break Down
Source: Flickr


If your vehicle breaks down, think about safety, first: Here’s a straightforward safety guide from GEM Motoring Assist, the leading UK driver based road safety association.

Consider your own safety

– get your vehicle off the road if possible

– ensure your passengers are safe and that animals are kept under control.

Warn other road users

– warn other traffic by using your hazard warning lights if your vehicle is causing an obstruction

– put a warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres (147 feet) behind your broken down vehicle on the same side of the road, or use other permitted warning devices if you have them. Always take great care when placing them, but never use them on motorways as this may put you in danger from oncoming traffic

– keep your sidelights on if it is dark or visibility is poor

– do not stand (or let anybody else stand) between your vehicle and oncoming traffic

– at night or in poor visibility do not stand where you will prevent other road users seeing your lights

– wear a reflective/fluorescent jacket or tabard.

Calling for help

– do not use mobile phones if there is a danger from petrol spillage or fumes

– contact the emergency services by dialing 999 or 112 (new international emergency code), or if you are a member call GEM Motoring Assist Breakdown Cover or other breakdown organisation

– give clear instructions of your general location: road number, direction of travel and specific local landmarks will aid your rescue

– also tell them your vehicle type and colour, registration number and how many persons are in the vehicle

– an indication of the cause of the breakdown will also help

– when help arrives, ask for proof of identity.

On Motorways – safety first

Leave the motorway at the nearest exit or pull into a service area. When this is not possible:

– use your indicators or hazard warning lights and pull on to the hard shoulder. Stop as far to the left as possible, with your wheels turned to the left

– try to stop near an emergency telephone (every mile on the hard shoulder) with the front passenger door as close to the phone as possible

– you must leave the vehicle by the left-hand passenger doors

– wear a reflective/fluorescent jacket or tabard

– do not cross the carriageway to reach a closer phone it is safer to wait on the verge. (Remember, 10% of motorway accidents are collisions with vehicles parked on the hard shoulder.)

– do not leave the keys in the car. If possible, lock all the doors except the front passenger door, which you should leave fully open so you can get back in quickly if needs be

– keep passengers away from the carriageway and children under control. Make sure children are safe – do not leave them in the car by themselves

– if you are an elderly or disabled person, or have small children with you, you may decide it is more sensible to stay in the vehicle. If so, park it as close to the verge as possible

– you must leave animals in the vehicle, with windows only far enough down to let in air. Only let them out of the vehicle in an emergency, but keep them under proper control on the verge

– do not attempt even simple repairs and do not leave the car bonnet open.

On Motorways – getting help

– walk to the nearest emergency telephone, following the arrows on the marker posts every 100 metres at the back of the hard shoulder. Calls are free and connect directly to the Police – they will know where you are. Stand behind the phone and watch out for passing traffic, or anyone approaching you

– give full details, also inform them if you feel vulnerable. Tell them the number of your breakdown organisation, your car registration and the number shown on the nearest marker post

– return and wait near your vehicle, preferably behind the barrier on the motorway embankment

– when help arrives, ask for ID and check that the breakdown person knows your name

– NEVER get into a car with a stranger or try to hitch a lift

– if someone offers help, stay inside your car with the doors locked (keep windows partially open) and ask them to phone your breakdown organisation for you

– if a car stops while you are waiting for help and you feel uneasy, stay in the passenger seat of your car and lock the door. Phone the Police and give them the car’s registration number

– when rejoining the motorway, always increase speed on the hard shoulder and watch for a safe gap in the traffic.

Top 10 tips to save money on your car insurance

16088187419 ce5a9c02b2 Top 10 tips to save money on your car insurance
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If you’re fed up paying too much for your car insurance duck2water (www.duck2watercarinsurance.co.uk) have put together the top ten ways you can reduce your premium without reducing the level of cover:

1.Buy online
Buying online can save you time and money. Companies who spend millions of pounds on advertising or run large call centres have to cover these costs somewhere, and they do so by adding these costs onto the price of your insurance premium. Although online insurers do have overheads, they are much less than high street and telephone insurers, which means they can offer car insurance at up to 60% cheaper than other companies.

2.Drive a cheap and less powerful car
Car insurance companies calculate their premiums on the basis of the car engine size, the probability that it will get stolen and the cost of repairing it. Although smaller cars such as Ford Fiesta’s and Renault 5’s are more prone to being stolen than larger saloon cars, they are cheaper to repair or replace and are therefore cheaper to insure.

3.Build up a ‘no claims history’
Car insurance companies give discounts for safe drivers with a good no claims record. By building up your no claims history you can benefit from a reduction (up to 60%) off your premium, and this discount can be transferred from company to company.

4.Increase your car security
More security means lower risk for your insurance company and you can benefit from cheaper rates by locking your car in a garage a night, or installing an insurance company approved immobiliser or tracker.

5.Increase your voluntary excess
By deciding to pay a higher excess it also means you’re less likely to make a small claim on your insurance and are therefore considered a lower risk.

6.Obtain more driving qualifications
The Pass Plus qualification costs between £100-150 and involves taking lessons in different driving conditions such as at night and on the motorway. By becoming a more skilled and experienced driver most insurance companies reward their customers by reducing their premium. As a result, the qualification usually pays for itself within the first year of qualifying. Another option is the advanced driving test, but this can take much more time to pass than the Pass Plus.

7.Use your car less
Clearly, the more you use your car the higher the probability is that you’ll be involved in an accident. As a result people who travel hundreds of miles every week are likely to have a higher car insurance premium.

8.Don’t get on the wrong side of the law
Insurance companies don’t like motoring convictions as they mean a driver is seen as a higher risk. Certain motoring convictions are considered worse than others, for example drink driving offences mean that your premium will be double the usual rate.

9.Reduce the number of people under your policy
The more people on your insurance the more you’ll have to pay. So, if possible try to have as few drivers on your policy as feasible.

10.Live in the countryside
As a general rule, the further you live away from a city the cheaper your car insurance is likely to be. By living in the city your car is more likely to be stolen or be involved in car accident. You can save up to 50% on your car insurance by moving from the city to a rural location.

Buying A Used Car In Australia – Two Factors You Must Consider Carefully Before Buying A Used Car

16088520219 ec60934d9f Buying A Used Car In Australia   Two Factors You Must Consider Carefully Before Buying A Used Car
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If you are going to buy a used or second hand car, what will be your main concerns?
What are the most important factors to consider if you wish to buy a used car?

I find myself asking these same type of questions when I was faced with a limited budget and a need to change to a newer, but used or second hand car to cut down on initial investment costs.

I have read from one car club for motoring enthusiasists that it should be the age of the car. Briefly, this car club recommended that I spend the most time to look out for a car that was about 3 years old to get the best value out of a used car which still looks good and has depreciation factored into it.

But essentially was that the main factor I should be concerned about when hunting for a good used second hand car?

Are there more important factors I should rightly spend more time to look at if I am looking for a used or second hand car?

Indeed, I was not too surprised when I read a report from the Monash University Traffic Research Centre and supported by the RACV, Traffic Accident Centre and several other motoring clubs that for anyone looking for a used car, the most important criteria in determining the selection of a used car is not its age, but is the safety the used car provides the driver and the people on the road!

In the world’s largest crash study conducted in 2006 (and updated recently in mid July 2007), results assessed the performance of 305 vehicle models in more than 1.7 million crashes in Australia and New Zealand from 1987 to 2004.

From the study, it is now possible to have a good understanding of how each car model correlated to its age would perform with regards to its crashworthiness (how much protection the vehicle provides the driver in a crash) and aggressivity (how badly the vehicle is likely to harm other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, in a crash).

By means of this study, if you are looking for a used car in Australia and New Zealand, it will be possible for you to have a general assessment of the protection the used car model will provide you as well as the potential harm it can cause to other road users in a crash.

Dr Newman who led the study reported that of the 305 vehicle models assessed, 87 provided an above average level of driver protection and 72 provided a below average level of driver protection in a crash.

With this report, it is now possible for you to check the make of your car and the model against the report to have a quick understanding of its car crashworthiness and aggressivity.

Further if you are in Australia and if you agree that the aspect of car safety is or paramount importance to you, then before you make a decision to buy any used car, check the make of your car and the model against this Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR) report.

From this report there are clear indications of some superior makes and models that are standout cars, and where safety is your consideration, it will be wise to give a lot more consideration to these cars when you purchase your next used car.

Irish Driving Tales from the Dark side- The Diary of a Driving Instructor.

16310625312 37e1cda5f8 Irish Driving Tales from the Dark side  The Diary of a Driving Instructor.
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An alternative title for this article could be “Don’t Think buying a new car will solve all your ills because it won’t!
Fast rewind to a balmy summer’s day in 1997 and our intrepid Instructor is seen to approach his chosen Automobile supplier cheque book at the ready.
A really exciting time, buying a new car for cash for the first (and probably last) time in his life, so you would think. Think again, the storm clouds are brewing (Actually I think they may coagulate)

It’s worth while pointing out at this stage that the car had been ordered some time before and a set of OEM Alloy wheels were to be fitted. Enter showroom with big smile on face, to be met with an equally expansive smile from the Service Manager, who was an old friend and Motoring adviser from many years previously. I am sure the Salesman would have preferred to have dealt with me himself but in this world it’s who you know not what you know, if you get my drift. Back in those days, before the glistening new stainless steel and glass Emporiums that we are used to today when we visit main dealers, it was a bit rough and ready and no cappuccino on tap. Still, all was calm, friendly, and full of expectation. At this stage no hint of what was to come

Your car is ready Sir; the usual pleasantries of being ushered to the waiting Beast (and it did turn out to be just that!) and a silence while we were allowed time to gasp and smile and generally feel good about ourselves. The car did look magnificent with its metallic blue paint, gleaming alloy wheels and electric front windows and other niceties.
This was a Wednesday, in the month of August, and the sun was shining, the birds singing (no rain for a change) and all was well as we completed the formalities and prepared for our new experience. It was indeed a great thrill but I was not to last! A few hours later with just 70 miles on the clock all the electrics went and out the window went my hopes, to be replaced with a foreboding that, as it turned out was wholly justified.

The first problem with the car would not have been so bad had it not been for the fact that my two Daughters and I were booked on the Irish Car ferry to the UK on the following Sunday at 8.00am. My heart sank as I realised that there were only two days or less to get the car roadworthy. In the event of the vehicle not being ready in time, a replacement car and the necessary Insurance cover would have to be ready by close of play on the Friday and this was now 2.00pm Wednesday. Not good!

Back at the showroom, with smiles long since forgotten, campers were unhappy to say the least. I forget which car we drove home and was preparing for the worst, which did actually happen. The fault could not be diagnosed and we reluctantly accepted another replacement car, slightly bigger, to take us on our adventure. We were all extremely disappointed not to be able to show off our new machine to relatives and friends but as it turned out, the larger car was a great benefit on the return journey with all the extra accumulations that a 2000 mile trip does to a small family car.

Two weeks later, safely home from an exhausting round of Family, Friends and Motorway overdose, we looked forward to retrieving our real car; as I am sure, it too, was looking forward to its new owner (or was it?)
It transpired that two or three Auto Electrical Engineers had failed to locate the problem and with the hours ticking away fast to the arrival of the owner, some emergency action was required if a lynching (or worse) was to be avoided. Said Service Manager took the Bull by the Horns and proceeded very quickly, but quite by chance, to discover the malfunction. A simple short circuit on the steering column when the steering wheel was at the fully locked position.

Problem solved—- Happy Campers again …not for long sadly! Never having had such a debilitating situation, (at least in the motoring sense!) with any new car before, over the previous twenty seven years, I felt confident that the worst was over .It was only just beginning and it would be come a lot worse over the next twelve months and beyond.
Clearly my plans for the future which included guaranteed, trouble free motoring, had taken a severe knockdown or as Jim Edwards would say a “Friday night smackdown”. Jim, as some of you will know is a master Internet Marketing Guru and Author although he doesn’t like the term. I will put his URL in the resource box at the end, for those of you who are interested in a real life success story. I have Jim to thank for helping me to get down and dirty with my word processor and who knows maybe one day I will be able to afford to walk into a Car showroom again and buy the damn place and then maybe, just maybe, I will get some service.

It’s just too exhausting, reliving those heady days, for more than an hour at a time, so the rest of the story and it’s a long one, will follow in the next chapter. In the mean time drive safely and remember learning is a lifetime occupation.