Welcome to Performance Unlimited BLOG
Topics of interest are entered almost weekly.

Reluctant Reggie is penny wise and dollar foolish on maintaining his McHenry car

McHenry car broke down
He thought he would save a few dollars and neglected proper
maintenance of his car. Now he's paying the price with his
car broke down on a McHenry road.
Reggie’s attitude is ‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.’ In terms of how he applies this principle to his 2003 Honda Accord, this means that, if the car starts, goes into gear, has some air in the tires and will eventually stop before he runs into the intersection at Route 31, not far from his McHenry home, he figures everything is just fine.

Of course, even with Reggie’s overly optimistic approach, from time to time, his car has broken. Take, for instance, the time his car overheated on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago this summer. Had Reggie checked the coolant more frequently, he might have noticed that it was getting dangerously low. He might have been inspired to take a look to see where the coolant was going.

The leak that Reggie didn’t notice wound up costing Reggie more than the simple replacement of his lower radiator hose; when he broke down in traffic, he paid the price of receiving the scorn of drivers who had to go around him for the hour and a half that he waited in the sun for a tow truck to arrive.

Reggie also had to pay for the tow. And then, having it towed into a strange auto repair shop, where he didn’t know anyone, it’s no wonder Reggie came away feeling as though he was taken for a ride. A lot of reliable shops would have charged him more than $100. At a shop in McHenry, he might have paid less than that. As it was, between the radiator hose, clamps, a gallon-and-a-half of coolant and the tow, Reggie probably spent more than $500, not that he’ll admit it.

In Reggie’s case, this is a common scenario. Last winter, he paid for a tow when his car battery went bad out by Madison. Once again, he paid for a tow. And, once again, he paid an inflated price for a battery and for the labor to install it.

There are quite a few 2003 Honda Accord’s on the road yet. Reggie’s is one of them but it may not be for long. Here the problem is that Reggie thinks timely oil changes are overrated. He thinks the oil-change schedule prescribed for his car in the Owner’s Manual is designed to make drivers bring their cars in for unnecessary oil changes so the dealer where the car was purchased can make some more money.

While there are some less-than-honest auto repair shops, there are far more that are honest and true. If Reggie would listen, they would tell him that change the car’s oil on schedule is one of the best things he can do to maintain his vehicle for the long haul while also maintaining its resale value. But Reggie isn’t listening.

Maybe Reggie just can’t hear over that blown muffler under his car. But, the car still runs, even if it’s more than a bit rough and not at peak performance. If his car ran better, he would probably increase his gas mileage, which would help to offset the cost of proper maintenance.

There is one bright side for Reggie. He’s on a first-name basis with tow-truck drivers from McHenry, to Madison, to Chicago, and other points we haven’t mentioned.

How well do you know your McHenry car?

Fortunately, the car in your McHenry driveway doesn't have a dashboard as complicated as this 787. But, you still
want to get to know your car well.

When you purchase a new car, whether a new car from one of the new-car dealerships in McHenry, or a used car from a used-car lot or private owner, there is an acclimation period. You have to get used to the car.

This doesn’t mean you have to learn how to drive the car, though there are areas where this applies. What it does mean is that, for instance, the nobs and controls are in different locations compared to your previous car, unless you’ve bought the same car. Even when you buy the same make and model of car, you may find significant changes in where the controls are in the new car based on differences in the years the cars were made.

In your previous car, when it rained in McHenry, you found the wiper control arm mounted on the left side of the steering column. In the new car, you may find it’s on the right side of the steering column. And, where you would move the lever up to turn the wipers on before, now you have to pull the lever down. And, how does the intermittent wiper control work?

While you adjusted the seat positions manually with the old car, you may find that, with the new car, you adjust the seats with power buttons. You’ll have to learn how to operate the heater and air conditioning. And then you have the sound system. Is it an older style stereo, possibly with CDs?

Some cars come with subscription options for music, radio and gaming in the car. Some cars come with video options (for those who aren’t driving). Newer cars come with navigation systems. All of these systems come with a learning curve. The more complicated the system, the higher the curve.

Once you’ve figured out how to operate and adjust all the systems in your car, then you have to learn the nuances of how your car drives. This includes getting used to the way your new car accelerates. Your new car may have more or less power than your old car. But, how it accelerates also includes how responsive it is to pressure on the accelerator.

How does your new car handle? If the car sits higher, such as would be the case if you’ve moved up to an SUV or pickup, it may be more top heavy. It may not handle the turns the way your old car. You may also find that your new car handles the bumps in the road differently.

Then there are the brakes. When you first buy your new car, it’s a good idea to find a McHenry parking lot somewhere and find out how it reacts in a panic-stop situation. Better to find out in a parking lot before you have to deal with an actual emergency braking situation.

One last piece of advice – read the Owner’s Manual for your new car. Even after years of driving, had you read the Owner’s Manual for your old car, you might have found there were controls you never knew about. Why wait until you’ve owned the car for two or three years before you discover you can, for instance, change the color that lights your dashboard? That’s a minor thing but, the more you know about your car, the better you’ll be as a driver and operator of that vehicle.

What should you do about a scratch in your McHenry car’s finish?

McHenry car scratched
How deep is the scratch on your car? If a stone from a McHenry road hits your car and scratches the paint, that scratch
can cut into your car's resale value.

That new car finish on your car isn’t so new anymore, is it. Oh, from a distance, it looks good enough. But, if you get close, you’ll find the spot where a truck on Route 31 in McHenry kicked up a stone that nicked the hood. You’ll see the scratch on the fender where a run-away shopping cart in the Meijer’s parking lot slammed into your car. You might even notice where you scratched the paint on the door yourself when you dropped a can of cream corn trying to close the door with your arms full of groceries.

Scratches will happen to your car; there’s no way to avoid them. But, alas, C’est la vie (such is life), into each car’s life, a few scratches must fall. You grudgingly accept them. You try to shrug them off. But, they still bother you.

You’re perfect car isn’t perfect anymore – not the way you brought it home from one of the auto dealerships in McHenry.

It’s a positive trait when you can allow a nick here, a scratch there and a little dent elsewhere to roll off your back. You’re not going to let those little things get you down. Not so quick.

Those dents can do more than get you down; they will take your car’s resale value down.

Look at it this way: that’s not just a paintjob on your car. It’s also a protective shell that is preserving your vehicle from the elements, such as the snow, ice, road salt and rain that are common in the McHenry area. A scratch is a breech in your car’s line of defense. You’d like to make your car’s paintjob look nice and new again. More importantly, however, is restoring the defensive shield your car’s paintjob represents.

When the paint is scratched, the first question is, “How deep is the scratch?” The depth of a scratch refers to the most inner layer that the scratch pierced:

  • The clear coat: This scratch is often hardly noticeable. It’s also the least likely as the clear coat is bonded securely to the paint below.
  • The base coat: This is the layer where the color of your car is found. If the scratch isn’t through the base coat, the scratch may also not be terribly noticeable. 
  • The primer coat: The primer coat is generally gray and, unless your car is painted a similar gray, a scratch this deep is usually pretty darn noticeable.
  • The metal panel: This is the actual body part of your car. If your scratch goes through this you’ll have a hole in your car.

Once you car is scratched, oxidation will begin to eat at your car’s finish around the scratch. Rust is the next chemical reaction that can transpire as a result of a scratch to your car’s finish.

For the lesser scratches, there are a number of products available to perform quick repairs. Before you use one of these, however, you should check online for comments about their quality. For deeper scratches, you may try to fix them yourself. Your best bet is to look up an online video before you take sandpaper to paint. Keep in mind, you could take a small scratch and turn it into a major blemish, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Finally, you may want to take it to a body shop here in McHenry where a professional can fix the scratch on your car the right way.

What are the considerations before adding a lift kit to your Jeep or truck?

Jeep lift kit
You don't just throw a lift kit on your truck or Jeep, not if you don't want
problems. A lift kit is an awesome way to upgrade your truck or Jeep, but
make sure you do it right.
So, you’ve decided it’s time to put a lift kit on your Jeep or truck. Maybe you want to take your Jeep or truck offroad where ground clearance is a critical factor. Maybe you just like the way it looks, not to mention the improved vision from sitting higher from the road. Whatever your motivation, a lift kit can make a significant change to your Jeep or Truck.

It’s even safe to say that a lift kit is transformative. When you’re done, your truck just won’t look the same. It will be like an entirely different Jeep or Truck. But, if you’re going to add a lift kit, you want to go all the way. That means that you want to do the job right.

The first issue presented by adding a lift kit to your Jeep or Truck is that it will move the rear differential away from the back of the transmission. This means that the length of the driveshaft needs to increase to compensate for the change. If you don’t make this critical adjustment, you may find yourself on the side of the road when your driveshaft falls out of the back of the transmission.

The next issue isn’t necessarily as mechanically critical; rather, it’s more aesthetically critical. You want larger tires. This will probably require replacing the wheels, too.

If you don’t replace the tires with a bigger set of meats, you’re probably going to find that the Jeep or Truck looks a little funny with those tiny tires under it. The tiers may not have looked so small before you added the lift kit but, you can believe, they’ll look miniature after the lift kit is installed.

It’s all a matter or proportion. Of course, as you increase the size of your tires and wheels, keep in mind that you want to make this increase based on the amount of lift you’ve added to your Jeep or truck. If you don’t give the truck that much lift but you add humungous tires, the tires may bottom out and rub on the fenders and wheel wells when you go over bumps.

You may also want to consider the offset of the wheels and tires. Larger tires are usually wider than smaller tires. For instance, you may require some negative offset to keep the tires from rubbing on the inside against the wheel wells (negative offset brings the mounting hub closer to the back of the wheel and, therefore, move the tire and wheel out away from the vehicle – positive offset does the opposite).

There is a wide array of measurements you’ll want to make before you choose the size of tire and wheel, as well as the offset.  It’s a good idea to seek the assistance of a professional before you choose a tire and wheel. Of course, it’s not a bad idea to seek the advice of a professional for the entire modification. You’re spending good money on your lift kit. You definitely want to do it right the first time.

See Older Posts...