Category Archives: Car Care

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.

7 Ways to Winterproof Your BMW

Cold, winter weather doesn’t have to stop you from driving your BMW, but you should take certain steps to get it ready for winter. With a few preparations, such as the following, your BMW will be ready to face the cold.

Checks and Maintenance

Winter can be tough on certain aspects of your vehicle, so before the winter weather arrives, do some basic maintenance and check that everything is in optimal condition. Check the following things:

  • Check your brakes: Checking your brakes should be a top concern. In wet weather, bad brakes are more likely to slide and squeak. Many dealerships offer brake checks for free.
  • Check your battery: Cold weather reduces battery capacity. Have your battery life, cables and fluid checked.
  • Check your tires: Have your tires checked and rotated. Replace them if they’re too worn down because worn tires offer little traction. If you live somewhere snowy, you should get snow tires.
  • Check your wiper blades: If your wiper blades are dull, replace them before the first snow arrives.

Protect Your Interior

You may also want to protect your interior from any mud or snow that could get tracked inside. Putting in some rubber floor mats can help. While it might not look especially slick, you’ll be happy when you take them out at winter’s end, and your floor is pristine. You may also want to get a bag for your trunk to put ice scrapers and other winter tools to prevent them from getting the inside of your trunk wet and muddy.

Top Off or Change Fluids

You should also take the time to check your car fluids and top them off or change them for a winter fluid if necessary. Check your oil, brake fluid, window washer fluid and coolant.

Make sure you use the right mixture of antifreeze and water for your coolant so that fluid does not freeze in your radiator. You should also use a wiper fluid formulated for winter use so that it does not freeze. Right before winter is also an ideal time to change your oil. You might also opt for a lighter oil, which works better for winter.

Cover It Up

The best way to prevent damage from snow, ice and road salt is to stow your car away during and after storms. The ideal way to do this is to park it in your garage. You may want to make some upgrades to your garage, such as improving insulation to help protect your car from cold temperatures as well as snow. Garage door improvements are also cost-effective and have an average of an 85 percent return on investment.

If you don’t have a garage you can use, consider getting a winter car cover made for your car’s make and model so that it fits snugly and protects the car fully.

Protect Your Paint

To protect your paint, consider doing some detailing right before winter so that you have a fresh coat of sealant. You can use a wax or polymer to help protect your car’s finish. If you might have to drive on snow or salted roads, consider investing in mud flaps for your front and rear tires to prevent salts from eroding your paint.

Pack an Emergency Kit

Create an emergency kit and keep in your trunk in case you get stuck during a winter storm. In your emergency kit, place some road salt, a first aid kit, snacks, a change of clothes, a blanket, an extra coat, a flashlight and anything else you might need. You should also have jumper cables, car jacks and other tools as well as an ice scraper and a shovel.

Protect your car and help ensure that you can get around safely by preparing your BMW for winter. When you follow the above tips, you’ll be able to drive your BMW during the winter months worry-free!