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Auto repair shop hosts breakfast and business discussion for chamber connection group

The auto repair shop at Performance Unlimited in Ringwood is usually full of cars, SUVs and pickup trucks as they receive the skilled attention of the auto repair technicians who make Performance Unlimited one of the premier auto repair shops in the region. Wednesday morning, Sept. 26, however, in the center of the shop were tables, chairs, breakfast and coffee.

By 7:30 a.m., the chairs were full of business owners who belong to MC3, the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce business connection group. Denny Norton, owner of Performance Unlimited, is the president of the connection group.

“We usually have the meetings at Green Street Café,” Norton said. “Once in a while, though, we hold the meeting at a member’s place of business. Today, it was my turn.”

Norton said that holding the meeting at Performance Unlimited was a great way to really showcase his business for other members of the group.

“You can tell them about the auto repair services you offer, and your commitment to quality, but it helps when you actually show them,” he said.

Performance Unlimited was started more than three decades ago. Now, it has a well-deserved reputation for quality and an honest concern for the welfare of the customers they serve.

Along with a couple of guests visiting the group for the first time, other members of the MC3 group in attendance included:

Dick Jess, 3D Painting
Michael Goodman, A-PC computers
Janet Domrase, Aldens Kennels
John Matthesius, McHenry Water Well & Pump
Greg Mayer, Country Financial
Bill Zeng, Freedom Mortgage
Fran Lambert, Impressive Images
Michael Kutnick, Prudential First Realty
Richard Rostron, Rich Publicity and OnTarget Resumes
Barbara Bishop, SendOutCards
Wayne Seely, Visual Horizons
Kathy Sierminski, Picker and Associates, CPAs

Each business owner/operator at the meeting shared 30 seconds of information about their business. Norton, as the host, spoke for 10 minutes. The focus of his presentation was on proper vehicle maintenance.

As Norton put it, “There are a lot of qualified auto repair shops in the area and most of them do a very good job. However, if you’re feeling uncomfortable with what your mechanic is telling you, trust your instincts and get another opinion.”

Most of the members of the group, however, do bring their vehicles to Performance Unlimited. As Seely put it, “We consider ourselves very fortunate to have someone of Denny’s caliber in our group – both in terms of the expertise he offers and in his strong business ethics.”

For more information about Performance Unlimited, call 815-728-8343 or visit www.4performanceunlimited.com.

Leaves slippery when wet – good reminder to check your brakes

This time each year, we welcome the return of that seasonal panorama of multi-hued reds, yellows, oranges, browns and greens as the leaves begin to change color. First on the trees, then descending to the ground, it’s a visual gift that softens the blow of an impending winter to follow.

While it’s hard to compete with the natural aesthetic value of the changing autumn leaves, a mat of wet leaves on the pavement can pose a hazard to drivers and those in their vicinity. Almost as though a layer of silicone was laid between two surfaces, tires can have difficulty grabbing the road at critical moments.

While this probably isn’t the greatest road hazard you’ll face throughout the year, it is worth noting. It’s also a useful reminder to check your brakes. After all, if your car will slip on wet leaves, imagine what it will do on a patch of ice in a few months.

It only takes a few minutes for a qualified mechanic to check your brakes. Most auto repair shops, such as Ringwood based Performance Unlimited, are more than happy to check your brakes at no additional charge while changing your oil or performing other maintenance or repairs.

Safety is the best reason to make sure your brakes are ready whenever you need them. However, Denny Norton, the owner of Performance Unlimited, said there is at least one other good reason to check your brakes on a relatively regular basis.

“Once your brakes wear down to the point where you’re riding metal on metal, you risk ruining your rotors or drums,” he said. “If you stay on top of your brakes you can usually replace the pads or shoes before you do additional damage.”

With modern brake systems, there are other concerns, such as the ABS anti-lock brake system. This is the system that rapidly pulsates the brakes when you stop hard so that the car doesn’t skid uncontrollably. However, the ABS system doesn’t require maintenance with the regularity of your brake pads and shoes.

For more information, call Performance Unlimited at 815-728-0343 or visit their Web site at www.4performanceunlimited.com.

Automotive child safety isn’t what it used to be … thank goodness

I remember when I was young. Our family car was a station wagon. As far as my brother, sister and I were concerned, that was just great. We were free to roam throughout the back of the car at our leisure.  We’d climb over the seat and back again playing games of tag and who knows what else. No seatbelts – nothing.

Today, that’s not allowed. By law, all children in Illinois must be securely belted into their seats or, if younger, strapped into an approved child-safety seat.

My dad told me about the child seat they used when I was young.

“It was just some fabric strung between a frame made of conduit,” he said. “The conduit had hooks on the end that hung over the back of the front seat so you sat between your mother and me.”

By description, it sounds like we were loaded for launching in case of an accident: hardly the ideal way to ensure safety.

Using proper safety equipment in a vehicle is an idea Denny Norton, owner of Ringwood based auto repair shop Performance Unlimited, heartily agrees with. Norton has driven in stockcar races and other automotive competitions. He swears by using the best available safety equipment.

“If you have a wreck and you’re not prepared, you could be seriously injured or worse,” he said. “You have a roll cage so you won’t be crushed if the car rolls. You wear a fire-retardant suit in case you have a fire. All the safety equipment in a car has a specific purpose. It’s all designed to keep you safer and it’s often the difference between walking away from a wreck or being carried away.”

In terms of children in passenger vehicles, Norton said he can’t imagine why any parent would want to shortchange safety.

“Years ago, we didn’t know any better,” Norton said. “Seat belts weren’t even standard equipment on most cars. If you wanted seatbelts, you had to special order them with your new car.”

Today, all cars come with seatbelts. Cars also come with 2-Stage air bags to cushion the blow in an accident. And yet, “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children of every age from 2 to 14 years old (2001 figures),” according to a 2003 National Highway Traffic Safety Association report. Take away the safety features and the number is likely to go much higher.

According to the Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act, revised January 1, 2004, parents are “responsible for providing for the protection of such child by properly securing him or her in an appropriate child restraint system.

The point is that, with proper care, and use of approved child-safety restraints, children stand a much better chance of surviving an accident without significant injury. Driving with appropriate caution further improves each child’s chances but even that isn’t an iron-clad guarantee.

Can your engine oil handle 33 revolutions per second or more?

Drivers with tachometers in their cars know that, give or take a little, their car’s engines spend a lot of their time running at about 2,000 rpm. That’s 2,000 revolutions per minute. That’s a lot of revolutions.

To better understand that number, let’s break it down to revolutions per second. That works out to more than 33 revolutions per second. Count one-one-thousand and, by the time the last syllable is out of your mouth, the crankshaft in that engine has revolved 33 times. Now that’s moving.

If you consider that red line for most engines, the maximum rpm the engine is recommended to safely handle without breaking, is generally 5,000 to 6,000 rpm, that 33 revolutions per second increases to as much as 99 revolutions per second. That’s faster than a hummingbird flapping its wings. And a hummingbird merely has to move its wings up and then back down.

With a 4-stroke combustion engine, every revolution of the crankshaft translates to, not just the crankshaft turning, but the bearings at the connecting rods absorbing that revolution. And, each time the crankshaft makes a revolution, each piston has made a complete pass, from the top of its stroke to the bottom, in each of the cylinders.

Consider the kind of heat that generates in an engine. Clearly, if the engine oil isn’t up to speed, the engine will quickly experience some level of damage.

“There’s nothing you can do to maintain your car that’s more important than changing the oil on a timely basis,” said Denny Norton of Ringwood based Performance Unlimited. “Oil is the lifeblood of your engine.”

To prove the point, consider the effect of all that metal-on-metal friction without the benefit of oil. Without oil, we can most likely measure the amount of time an engine will run before a catastrophic breakdown in minutes. That’s why you’re father probably always told you, “If the oil light comes on, pull over right away.”

He knew that an engine light was a potential indicator of a problem in the heart of the engine – the oil.

Norton said that owners should change the oil in their vehicles within factory specifications in the owner’s manual.

Of course, drivers don’t have to change their oil that often but, considering the benefit-to-cost ratio of timely oil changes, it’s hard to imagine why they wouldn’t.

“Most auto repair shops are pretty economical in terms of what they charge for an oil change,” Norton said. “For instance, we only charge about $25 for a basic oil change. You can consider that low-cost engine insurance.”

For more information or to setup an appointment at Performance Unlimited, call 815-728-0343 or visit www.4performanceunlimited.com.

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