All posts by Scott Huntington

Scott Huntington writes all over the internet about cars. He was (probably accidentally) interviewed to be the host of the next Top Gear USA.

6 Things to Know Before Junking Your Car for Cash

No matter how well you take care of your car, there comes a time when it just won’t run anymore, at least not without work that will cost way more than the car is worth. At that point, you have several options, one of which is to sell your car to a scrapyard for cash.

Here are 10 things you need to know before junking your ride.

1. What to Remove From the Car

Don’t bring your car to a scrapyard without first going through it and removing all your belongings. Check the glove compartment, the trunk and under the seats.

You should also be sure to keep any documents you have in the glove compartment, as well as your license plate, before you leave your car at the junkyard. Also, you may want to take out any especially valuable parts, which may include catalytic converters, GPS systems, batteries, radios and bumpers.

2. The Preferences of the Scrapyard

Before bringing your car to the yard, ask about their requirements and preferences for how they like to receive cars. Some buyers are pickier than others.

Some, for example, might only take cars that have been stripped down to the bare metal, which means you’ll have to remove the seats, fluids and all plastic parts. Even if this isn’t required, you may be able to make more money by doing some of this work yourself.

3. What Your Car Is Made Of

Before junking your car, take the time to find out what metals it is made of. That way, you can ensure you’re getting a fair price.

Do your best to determine what alloys your car’s components include, and whether any of them are plated with other metals. Electroless nickel plating, for example, protects parts such as cylinders, pistons and fuel injectors. Some parts may even be gold-plated.

4. The Market Price

2014 BMW All-Electric i3 Press Drive.

Once you know what kinds of metals you have in your car, you should find out what the typical market price for it is. Junkyards may list prices on their website, but do some Internet research and call around to various yards to determine what the average rate is. Remember, prices may vary in different parts of the country.

5. Local Scrap Metal Laws

Legal requirements for scrap yards differ from state to state. Some states require them to have active licenses to operate. Look up the laws in your area and check that the scrapyard you’re thinking of selling to is licensed, if necessary. This can help you ensure you’re working with a reputable business and help you avoid potential legal trouble in the future.

6. The Details of Your Transactions

When the junkyard weighs your scrap metal, ask for its weight in pounds. Some yards will give you this measurement in other standards, which can be confusing if you have no reference for how much they are.

Getting the weight in a measurement you understand will help you ensure you’re getting fair compensation. After the transaction is complete, be sure to ask for a settlement report. This document should list the details of all your transactions.

Thinking of junking your car for cash? It can be a smart option if you have an old car you need to get rid of. Just make sure you’re prepared before you head to the local scrap yard.

What You Should Know About Window Mods and Tinting

Thinking about tinting your windows? Doing so has numerous benefits, but there are somethings you should be aware of before you commit.

Tints Have Benefits Beyond Looks and Privacy

Alot of people want tints because of their aesthetics and the privacy they provide, but they also have many other practical benefits. Window films can block solar energy, keeping you and your car cooler. This effect is especially noticeable when you leave your car parked in the sun on a hot day. Blocking the sun’s UV rays also protects your skin and your car’s interior.

Not All Tints Are the Same

You have several different options when it comes to window tinting. There are numerous types of films, including the following.

  • Dyed window films consist of three layers of materials: an adhesive, dye and protective layer. They are affordable, though not as durable as other types. They protect against UV rays, but not heat.
  • Metalized films protect against heat and UV rays. They are more durable and expensive than dyed window films. Because they contain metal, however, they can interfere with your cell phone, radio and GPS signal and your car’s electronics.
  • Hybrid films are a combination of dyed window and metalized films. They have less metal, so they’re less likely to cause electronics interference.
  • Ceramic films block UV rays and heat, but won’t interfere with your electronics. They are one of the most expensive options.
  • Carbon films also block UV rays and heat and won’t cause interference. It is moderately expensive and in the middle of the road regarding performance.

You can also choose between different percentages of tint. The higher the visible light transmittance, the more light the film lets through. Seventy percent tint lets in 30 percent of the light. Fifty percent allows in 50 percent.

Laws Vary by State

Each state has different laws about what percentage and types of tinting they allow. Different rules also apply to different parts of the car. Make sure you check your local laws before modding your windows.

If you travel to a different state with stricter tinting laws, you probably won’t have a problem, but you still could get a citation from state law enforcement. If you frequently travel to a neighboring state, you may want to check its rules in addition to your home state’s laws.

Dark Tints Can Impede Your Vision

You should be aware excessively dark tints can impair your vision, especially when you drive at night or in an area that doesn’t get a lot of sun during the day. When choosing how dark to make your windows, consider when and where you typically drive. If you often drive at night or the weather in your area is often overcast, you may want to avoid tints or choose a lighter shade.

Window Films Have Pros and Cons During Emergency Situations

In car crashes and other emergencies, tinted windows differ from regular windows in several ways. If a tinted window breaks, it won’t shatter like a regular window would. Instead, the adhesive properties of the tint hold the window together in one piece, which can prevent you from being cut by glass shards.

Tinted windows, however, can also be a hindrance to emergency personnel. Rescue workers at a crash scene will look into the windows of the cars involved to assess the situation and determine how best to proceed. If they can’t see inside your vehicle because of a window film, they have less information to work with.

Tinting your windows has both pros and cons. Depending on your goals, it may or may not be the right choice for you. Consider the conditions you normally drive in, the laws in your state and these other factors when deciding whether — and to what degree — to mod your windows.

Four Things That Are Damaging Your Car’s Engine

Nobody wants to damage their car’s engine, but many of us unknowingly do so. Even those who know what to do to keep an engine in good shape sometimes forget to take care of their vehicles when life gets hectic.

Understanding some of the things that most frequently cause engine damage can help you keepyours in top condition. Here are five major problems to avoid.

1. Cold Starts

When you’re in a hurry, it’s tempting to start your car and immediately speed off to wherever you’re heading. These cold starts, however, can cause damage to your starter, battery, alternator, pistons, cylinder rods and more.

The oil in your engine needs time to warm up, thin out and form a protective coat over the engine’s moving parts. This is especially true when your car’s been sitting for a while, or when it’s especially cold out.

Instead of starting your engine and driving right away, let your car run for a minute or two. This gives the oil time to warm up and provide sufficient lubrication.

If you live somewhere where temperatures regularly dip below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, you may also want to invest in an engine heater that connects to your radiators.

2. Not Changing Fluids

You need to change the fluids in your car on the recommended schedule to keep your engine running correctly. These fluids include your oil, coolant, transmission fluid, clutch fluid, steering fluid, brake fluid and windshield wiper fluid.

Letting the oil sit for too long can result in the formation of oil sludge, which blocks oil from accessing the parts it needs and causes engine parts to retain excess heat. Running out of other fluids can also cause severe damage.

To avoid these problems, change your fluids at the recommended intervals. You can find the specific manufacturer’s recommendations in your owner’s manual.

In the past, the standard recommendation was to change your oil every 3000 miles, but today, most auto manufacturers say you can go at least 7500 miles. For automatic transmissions, you should change your transmission fluid about every 30,000 miles. For manual transmissions, you can go between 30,000 and 50,000 miles.

3. Frequent Redlining

On vehicles with a tachometer, the gauge that displays the engine’s revolutions per minute (rpm), there is typically a red line near the higher numbers on the gauge. This line serves to warn you that your engine cannot sustain going above that rpm.

Frequent high revving keeps your engine at a higher temperature than what is ideal for it, which can damage the engine, as well as components such as the transmission and valve train.

To avoid this problem, don’t rev your engine to the point of going above the red line unless necessary. Instead, try to build speed gradually.

4. Neglecting Maintenance

Ignoring regular and one-off maintenance is another common cause of engine damage. You should take your vehicle in for maintenance at regular intervals — your manual will include a maintenance schedule to help you keep your car in tip-top shape.

Routine maintenance schedule should include things like checking the tire pressure, replacing worn belts, cleaning your battery contacts, rotating your tires and changing your spark plugs.

You should also heed the warnings of your check engine light. While it can go off for small things, it can also indicate a serious problem. Always get your car checked as soon as you can when it goes off. Even if it does go off because of a minor issue, a small problem left unresolved can eventually snowball into a much bigger and more expensive issue.

Are any of these four common problems causing damage to your engine? While plenty of things can cause engine problems, paying attention to these four common issues can make a substantial difference in helping you keep your car healthy.