Car tips

Adil M

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Gimme some good car tips.

-Zmax does it work?

-Better spark plugs = better mileage, HP, really?

-Always get your (blank) checked during services?

-Best motor oil is?

-This gasoline additive is good

-General tips on engine care and optimization.

I'm a car idiot, spell out the basics.
 

Philip Hamm

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-General tips on engine care and optimization.
Are in your owner's manual. Change the oil regularly is the single most important thing you can do for your engine. At about 80K miles or more (depending on the car) make sure you change out the timing belt.
 

Todd Hochard

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Zmax does it work?
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2001/02/zmax1.htm What do you think now?

-Save your money on the spark plugs. They only work better, if the old ones weren't working properly. I've built 600hp engines, and I always use plain old resistor plugs. Dr. Jacobs agrees with me (or more correctly, I agree with him). The platinums are good for extended change intervals, but have slightly reduced spark energy (which is not a bad thing, if the engine isn't misfiring.)
-I use Mobil 1 for two of my three cars. My 1980 Z28 sees heavy duty use (sometimes a 1/4 mile at a time)-changed every 4000, and my Acura TL-S sees a few trips to redline (7000rpm) now and then- changed every 5000-5500. I prefer the peace of mind. My '95 Accord EX gets Pennzoil, and at 111K miles, it is spotless under the valve cover (changed every 4000-4500 miles).
Redline, IMO, is probably the best synthetic on the market, but, of course, you PAY!
-I've never put a gas additive in the TL-S or Accord. I've never had so much as a misfire in 111K miles on the Accord. Modern gas formulations have enough detergents/additives in them.
-Optimization? With modern cars, with tightly computer-controlled engines, they typically run more optimally than any human can improve upon (in terms of efficiency). Now, if you wish to talk performance modifications, I could go on for days. How deep is your wallet?

What type of car do you have?
 

Adil M

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Ummm... it could be fairly deep, but my hands not going in deep for my car which is a Infiniti Qx4, 80,000 miles if that helps any.

SUV's are big, slow gas drinkers, but I'd also like to fix-up my parents old 84 Mercedes which also has 79,000 miles on it. Last time I checked it started, but it's only been turned on three times in the last five years. I want to fix it up and learn a bit about cars.

So, I don't need the chevron techron fuel injection cleaners or the octane boosts?
 

JasenP

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I throw a can of Restore in the crankcase every time I change the oil in my 91' Cavalier w/ 144,000 miles. It really does restore compression and it has had a noticeable performance increase since I started using it.
I also run premium through the beast every 6 or so tanks of gas just to clean it out a bit. I can't say this works for sure or even does anything, but I feel better having done it.
 

Philip Hamm

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I also run premium through the beast every 6 or so tanks of gas just to clean it out a bit. I can't say this works for sure or even does anything, but I feel better having done it.
Good thing you feel better because you get absolutely nothing at all in the way of real benefits from doing that.
 

John Garcia

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Jasen - Restore does exactly the same thing as running a thicker oil. It is MASKING a problem, not FIXING it. This is a common trick for used car lots to make a car seem like it runs better than it actually does.
I agree with Philip on pretty much everyting.
Plugs: With stock ignition, timing and compression, different spark plugs will make exactly ZERO difference.
Always check: Fluids, belts, brakes, etc... as mentioned. If you take it to the dealer, this is a given. If you take it to a *competent* mechanic, it should also be a given. YOU should not have to tell them what to check.
Motor oil: I also swear by Mobil 1, but changing just about ANY oil regularly will still give you no problems at all. This has been proven.
Gasoline additives: Snake Oil. Waste of money.
Tips:Nissans frequently have timing CHAINS these days, so your QX4 may or may not have a belt to change. As Philip said, look in your manual, it will tell you exactly what needs to be done and when. At least every few years, change ALL the fluids - none of them last forever.
 

Scott Merryfield

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Lots of great advice here. As mentioned above, change all your fluids at the recommended mileages. However, if you do not put many miles on your car, then you should change the oil by duration intervals -- I would recommend 4 months.

Also, do not forget to check the brake pads and tire pressure regularly, and rotate those tires if you want to extend their life.

I do not use any oil or gasoline additives. I change the oil every 3,500 - 4,000 miles.

If you follow all this advice, your car should last a very long time. I just sold a '93 Camry V6 with 114,000 miles that still ran almost as good as the day I drove it off the showroom floor. If the new owner takes the same care that I did, the car will easily double that mileage.
 

Philip Hamm

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Great point Scott. Oil ages. Even if it just sits in the engine it should be changed every 4-5 months.
 

Todd Hochard

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For the QX4- keep doing what you've been doing, which, I hope, is regular maintenance. Follow the owner's guide. Most SUVs are heavy, aerodynamic bricks, so there's not much to be done about the mileage (so long as it's not below your "normal.")

For the Benz- If the car hasn't been started in a while, BEFORE you start it-

1. Change the oil and filter.

2. Pull the plugs, squirt a bit of oil (couple of cc's) into each cylinder with a syringe. Change the plugs if they look worn.

3. Drain the gas tank, if possible. If not, put some gas stabilizer in it, and fill it with fresh gas.

4. Clean the battery terminals, then check the battery charge. It should be reading about 12.5-12.6 volts. If it's below 12.3, charge it slowly (2amp-hr) for a few hours, then check again. Once up to around 12.6 and stable (without the charger on it), it should start the car, and not kill the alternator.

5. Check all the fluid levels.

6. disconnect the distributor power, and crank the engine for 30 seconds. If the battery won't support this, get a new one. The idea is to get the oil pump primed, and slosh that oil in the cylinders around a bit.

Start it. Take it out for a shakedown cruise, but check the brakes/tires in a safe location before you do. Then, it's a good idea to change all the fluids-

1. Brake Fluid- brakes are probably spongy, from moisture absorption in the fluid.

2. Power Steering- same.

3. Trans Fluid- it's probably OLD.

4. Rear differential- everyone forgets this one.

5. Engine coolant- should be swapped every 2 years or so.

and the filters-

1. Trans filter (with the fluid)

2. Air filter

3. Fuel filter

Then, start sweating the details- does it run smooth? Need new tires? Have a shake (possible tire or alignment issue)? Once the car is roadworthy, driving it daily will help work out some of the kinks from sitting so long.

Those Techron cleaners may help clean up the fuel injectors a bit (in this particular car). Don't put it in until the tank of stabilizer is gone.

That will get you started, anyway (excuse the pun). Eventually, you'll want to change all belts and hoses, too.

Todd
 

John Garcia

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Nice Todd.
Since Todd mentioned tires, I would also, check the tire pressures if it has been sitting that long.
 

Philip Hamm

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Todd, great post!

That Benz should come back to life without too much trouble using Todd's advice. Check the tires, they may need to be replaced if they've been sitting unused for a long time.
 

Brian Perry

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Speaking of oil changes, how are those oil extractors (sold by Griot's Garage, etc.) which suck out the oil from the topside as opposed to draining it fromn the bottom? Do they work? Using one of them would be the only way I would consider changing my own oil.
 

John Garcia

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I've never tried an oil extractor, but I kind of like getting under my car and taking a look at what's going on under there...I want to see if there is any damage, loose stuff, drips, etc...

Changing your own oil is one of the easiest, least expensive things you can do for your car yourself. I've been changing my own oil for the last 10+ years. I feel that paying someone else 2.5x what it costs, to do it for me, is a complete waste of money.
 

Garrett Lundy

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Zmax: I'm not entirely sure what this product is. However, if you can find a good-condition V-max I suggest you buy it.
Better spark plugs: Spark-plug technology hasn't really advanced a whole bunch in recent decades. appearently platinum tipped plugs can last longer before fouling. As for more horsepower... 6000hp top-fuel dragsters use champion sparkplugs, just like your 12hp lawnmower. So unless your 1932 Hupmobile still has it's original plugs in it, don't waste your money on "miracle plugs".
(blank) checked at service : If it can fail, you might as well have it checked. But since most mechanics don't enjoy testing your piston-ring blow-by when you come in for an oilchange, I suggest you stick with the simple: tire tread and pressure, rubber hoses, belts, lights, washer-fluid, antifreeze, battery, spare-tire, and make sure the chassis lube-points are lubed. Also, if your mechanic recommends you have your jupiter-rings replaced, or your velocity-extender belt vulcanized, just go somewhere else.
Best motor oil : Any name-brand pure synthetic (No Sr.Slippery's recycled oil). They come standard in corvettes and porsches, they'll work for your car too. Some car magazine did a test comparing synthetics to petroleum fluids, and when the Oil, tranny fluid, and rear-axle fluid were switched to synthetic counterparts, they discovered an increase in hp! However, rebuilt engines sometimes won't propery "set in" if used with syntheics from day one, especially motorcycles.
Gasoline additives: If you run your car on a regular basis, don't addd anything that didn't come from the pump. If your cars been under a tarp all winter, you may want to try some drygas.
Engine care and optimization: Your car's instruction manual should list everything you NEED to do to maintain your car. Except when it comes to oil changes, which should be every 3,000 miles or so (Unless you drive in premium conditions, in which case you only need to change it as the manual says. But you don't and they can void your warranty). Change the oil-filter every time you change your oil. Buy the best tires you can. Buy the best wiper-blades you can. Wash your car every-time it gets dirty, and wax it every other month.
about the only easy way to improve a cars performace with little-to-no car skills are replacing the paper air-filter with a oiled-cotton variety (Holley, K&N, Etc etc etc), turning off your AC, and drive with the windows up. If your car's a mopar 1970 or older, Pay someone to put a modern ignition system in it (Mallory, MSD, Jaccob's, etc etc etc). Happy driving
 

Scott Merryfield

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Changing your own oil is one of the easiest, least expensive things you can do for your car yourself. I've been changing my own oil for the last 10+ years. I feel that paying someone else 2.5x what it costs, to do it for me, is a complete waste of money.
I have a lot of respect for people who have the discipline to change their own oil on a regular, scheduled basis. However, I know that I would procrastinate if I had to do this myself, which would mean that the oil would not get changed as regularly. Therefore, for me the added cost of paying to have this done is well worth it.
 

John Garcia

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However, I know that I would procrastinate if I had to do this myself, which would mean that the oil would not get changed as regularly. Therefore, for me the added cost of paying to have this done is well worth it.
Points well taken. It is convenience and service that one is paying for. A couple of hundred miles won't make much difference, but if you put it off for a few thousand, well...

I happen to have a floor jack, stands, pans, coveralls, tools, gloves, a place I can work on my car, etc...(and I don't mind getting dirty, I like working on my cars). An oil change is inexpensive as long as you have the gear already. If not, the first time, it will cost quite a bit more than just the oil and filter.
 

Adil M

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Thanks a lot guys.

Todd, I actually printed out what you wrote and I'm going to have some fun w/ that car in my free time.

Oh well... I'll build a pair of speakers some other days.
 

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