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Posted by Mike Hornok
August 31, 2017 at 7:24 pm

Which Antifreeze is Right for Your Vehicle?

Vehicle antifreeze used to be simple. You went to the parts store, picked up a jug of green liquid, mixed it 50/50 with water and poured it into your radiator. But now with yellow, orange, blue, pink and red antifreezes covering the shelves, it can be hard to know what to get. This overview will help you make the right choice for your vehicle.

Determine the right antifreeze for your vehicle

Green and Yellow Antifreeze: Photo by Anthony Easton

Types of antifreeze

For all the available colors, there are three basic types of antifreeze. Traditional green antifreeze uses Inorganic Acid Technology (IAT) and is fortified with silicates and phosphates such as ethylene glycol (EG) or propylene glycol (PG), which prevent acid buildup and prevent metal corrosion. This needs to be replaced every three years or 36,000 miles, as the additives are eventually consumed.

As for modern antifreezes, Organic Acid Technology (OAT) coolant is red or orange, is silicate- and phosphate-free, and is good for up to five years or 150,000 miles. However, it can only be used with aluminum radiators. The newest formulation is Hybrid Organic Acid Technology (HOAT), which uses nitrates to combine IAT and OAT coolant. This “universal” antifreeze is yellow or red, and can be used in most vehicles from 2002 or later. (Any antifreeze color other than the ones mentioned is the result of a company trying to make theirs look proprietary.)

Which one should I use?

When replacing antifreeze, the safest thing to do is use what came with the vehicle, which can be found by consulting your factory manual. It is sometimes possible to replace one type with another, but you’ll need to research your vehicle first – for example, using OAT antifreeze with a copper or brass radiator will cause extensive corrosion. If you are changing your antifreeze type, make sure to completely rinse out the old coolant first.

As for topping up with a different type of antifreeze, nothing disastrous will happen immediately. However, this combined antifreeze can eventually become gel-like and clog up the cooling system. It will also reduce your antifreeze’s lifespan to whatever the lower number is of the two types. If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation where you have to mix, make sure to completely change the coolant as soon as possible.

Learn Car Restoration
Posted by Mike Hornok
May 31, 2017 at 7:31 pm

How to Learn Car Restoration

Car restoration is a leading passion among many vehicle enthusiasts – and is a booming industry in its own right. But how, exactly, does one learn the process of rebuilding an automobile? This guide from The Motor Bookstore offers a number of tips and places to look for information as you pursue your newest hobby.

  1. Start small. Get a cheap-but-working clunker from a junkyard or auto auction that you can use to learn the basics – oil and filter changes, brake systems, etc. You’ll gain a lot from working on your own vehicle, and if you do make any big mistakes, they at least won’t be expensive ones.
  2. Get help from – and help – your friends. You’re sure to have at least one or two friends or family members in your circle who likes working on cars, and they usually have car-minded friends as well. Offer to help out on their next project, and consult them whether you run into a roadblock on your own project. Car enthusiasts are a tight-knit community, and they’re almost always happy to share knowledge.
  3. Read books. There are a number of automotive repair manuals available for vehicles of all types. Aftermarket DIY manuals such as Haynes, Bentley and Chilton Total Car Care are good for beginners, while factory OEM manuals get down to the nitty-gritty for advanced mechanics. If money is tight, check your local library for books and other resources.
  4. Unleash the power of the World Wide Web. There are oodles of internet resources available for people interested in vehicle restoration. YouTube is loaded with how-to videos that can teach you about everything from engines to transmissions. Online vehicle forums and blogs also offer a wealth of information, including build threads, step-by-step guides and tips – often with pictures included. Just remember to use your discretion and disregard anything that’s obviously wrong.
  5. Take classes. If you’re looking for formal training, many local vocational schools or community colleges offer inexpensive classes on various aspects of vehicle mechanics. Some schools, such as Lincoln Tech and McPherson College, even have degree and certificate programs that include extensive hands-on experience.
Posted by Mike Hornok
April 29, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Toyota Camry Head Light Bulb Change Guidance Tips

The Toyota Camry is the best-selling car in North America, and one of the biggest reasons is that they’re easy to maintain. Oil changes, filter changes and other basic maintenance are easy to do in your own garage or driveway. Changing head light bulbs is no exception, and with this guide, you’ll learn how to do it without a trip to your mechanic.

How To Change Head Light Bulbs in your Toyota Camry

Head light bulb guide

For the 2007-2016 generation of Toyota Camrys, you’ll need H11 bulbs for the low-beam head lights, and 9005/HB3 bulbs for the high-beams. Toyota Camrys made from 2000-2006 use 9006/HB4 low-beam head light bulbs and 9005/HB3 high-beam bulbs. Older Camrys use 9003/H4 bulbs. Consult your vehicle manual for more information about how to change head light bulbs.

Change the head light bulbs

After popping the hood, locate the low- or high-beam headlight that needs to be changed. Remove the wire harness by pressing the small lever on the front of the harness and sliding it off the head light retaining clip on the base of the bulb. Carefully turn the head light bulb 1/8- to 1/4-turn counter-clockwise, then pull the bulb straight out of the head light assembly. (You’ll want to recycle the old bulb, as throwing it out increases the risk of it breaking and releasing harmful substances.)

Wearing a clean pair of cotton gloves to prevent fingerprint smudges, insert the new bulb directly into the head light assembly. Slowly rotate the bulb clockwise until it’s secure, then slide the wire harness over the retaining clip until it clicks into place. Test the new bulb by turning on your head lights and aiming your vehicle at a garage, house, or other wide surface. Close the hood, and you’re all set.

Change both, or just one?

While some people just change the burned-out bulb, it’s usually better to change both at the same time. Changing bulbs in pairs ensures that both are the same intensity, and you won’t have one brighter than the other. Furthermore, bulbs have the same general lifespan – so if one goes out, the other usually isn’t far behind, making the safe play the good one.

Posted by Mike Hornok
March 31, 2017 at 10:54 am

The 10 Best Cars to Restore

1st Gen Ford Mustang Convertible

There are seemingly endless car restoration options available for newcomers and experienced mechanics alike. But some cars stand out from the pack, whether for mechanics, available parts, resale value or available support. The Motor Bookstore presents our picks for the 10 best cars to restore:

  1. 1964-1968 Ford Mustang. With its simple mechanics, widely available parts and large support network, the first-generation Ford Mustang remains the king of car restorations and is a great first-time project.
  2. 1967-1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS. First-generation Camaros are known for being reliable, fun to drive and easy to work on. These cars share parts with same-year Pontiac Firebirds, and you can even order new bodies.
  3. 1971-1972 Pontiac GTO. While all GTOs are great restore candidates, the later second-generation models are more affordable. Interest from collectors is increasing for this classic car, giving it a high resale value.
  4. 1968-1970 AMC AMX. This muscle/sports car hybrid was one of the best handling cars of its era. Less than 20,000 were produced, so parts may be hard to find, but the final product is sure to have a buyer.
  5. 1972-1973 Dodge Challenger. These luxury muscle cars sport an appealing look and a growing supply of available parts. While they can be customized, they have far more value if restored to original factory standards.
  6. 1928-1931 Ford Model A. Affordability, easy mechanics and a large amount of experts make this a good car for a first-time restore. The amount of available performance parts is also increasing.
  7. 1951-1954 Packard. Relive the 1950s with one of the best-built cars of the decade. The body and trim may be a little difficult to find, but lots of help is available, and they’re an easy sell if restored correctly.
  8. 1978-1982 Chevrolet Corvette. The third-generation Corvette has less power than its predecessors, but is smoother and more reliable. There are dozens of companies selling reproduction parts and modern upgrades.
  9. 1963-1965 Buick Riviera. This two-door sport coupe competitor to the Ford Thunderbird is fast, powerful and well-designed, and more and more companies are producing replacement parts.
  10. 1982-1993 Chevy S-10. If you’re looking for something different, compact pick-up trucks are cheap, reliable and can be endlessly modified. In addition to the S-10, the first-generation Ford Ranger is a good restore option.

If you have restoration photos of any of the above cars that you would like featured in this article, please send the photos via comments or directly to Thank you.

Posted by Mike Hornok
February 18, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Automotive Air Conditioner Recharging Steps, Tips and Strategies Overview

When it’s 95 degrees on a July afternoon, the last thing you need is for your vehicle’s air conditioning vents to blow warm air. Tiny amounts of refrigerant leak from your A/C system lines over time, and this eventually adds up to subpar cooling. With this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to recharge your existing A/C system and restore great cooling performance.

Do it Yourself Car Air Conditioner Recharge

Source: Haynes 10425 – Automotive Heating & Air Conditioning Guide

WHAT YOU’LL NEED: 1-2 12 oz. cans of R-134a refrigerant (for vehicles 1994 and newer); one refrigerant dispenser with pressure gauge and trigger; one pair of goggles

  1. After putting on the goggles, insert one can of refrigerant into the bottom of the dispenser and screw it in until tight.
  2. Locate the fill port for the A/C system. This is usually on the left side of the engine bay, protruding from the firewall, and has a small plastic lid with an L printed on top. Remove the lid.
  3. Attach the dispenser to the fill port. In rapid succession, grab the connector on the end of the hose; lift the outer sleeve of the connector; squeeze the dispenser trigger for two seconds (to purge air); press the connector firmly on the port; then release the outer sleeve, connector, and trigger in that order.
  4. Verify your vehicle’s A/C compressor is working. After starting the engine and turning the A/C fan to max, locate the pulley. If the center of the pulley isn’t spinning, add half a can of R-134a; if it still isn’t spinning, you’ll need to bring the vehicle to a mechanic.
  5. Locate the minimum and maximum pressure readings for the vehicle in your factory manual. Use the pressure gauge on the dispenser to get a current reading.
  6. To recharge the system, squeeze the trigger for 5-10 seconds while slowly tipping and shaking the can. Wait 30 seconds for the pressure to equalize before check your reading again. Repeat as needed.
  7. To change cans, turn the current can upside down, then hold the trigger for 30 seconds before releasing. Unscrew the empty can and screw on the new one.

Once your pressure reading is comfortably within the minimum/maximum range, disconnect the dispenser and re-cap the fill port.

Do it Yourself Car Air Conditioner Recharge - Haynes 10425 Sample Page

Copyright Haynes Manuals – Automotive Heating & Air Conditioning Guide (10425) Sample Page

Posted by Mike Hornok
January 23, 2017 at 9:13 pm

Battery versus Alternator: Which One is Bad?

Batteries and alternators go together like peanut butter and jelly, with the battery starting the vehicle and the alternator charging the battery. But if the vehicle suddenly won’t start, how can you tell which one has gone bad? The Motor Bookstore looks at how to test your battery and alternator so you’ll know which needs to be replaced.

Battery versus Alternator: Which One is Bad?

Engine Bay: Photo by BradleyOlin

The battery

You should always start by checking the battery, because this is easier both to check and replace. An early sign your battery is going dead is if you hear a low whining sound when you start the vehicle. If it’s gotten to the point where it won’t start, there are a few diagnostic options. After jump-starting the vehicle, let it run for 20-30 minutes; if the vehicle won’t start again after turning it off, the battery is no longer holding a charge.

Some vehicles have a gauge that shows if the battery is working even when the vehicle is off. A dim, flickering light means something is using battery power. If this happens, turn off all accessories, clean any corrosion off the terminals, and try to charge the battery again. You can also use a voltmeter to check the battery voltage. This should be around 12.6 volts when the vehicle is off, and 14-15 volts when the vehicle is running.

The alternator

There are multiple signs your alternator could be failing. If your interior lights fade as the car runs, it’s a sign the alternator isn’t charging the battery. Another sign is that the lights shine brightly when you speed up, but fade when you slow back down. You can sometimes hear a growling sound right before the alternator goes out, and the smell of burning rubber or hot wires from the engine might be the alternator overheating.

Two fairly reliable alternator tests can be done at home. If the battery is adequately charged, start your car, then disconnect the positive terminal on the battery. The car shutting off likely means an alternator problem. If the car won’t start, jump-start it, then disconnect the jumper cables. As with the first test, the car dying immediately is a good indicator the alternator is at fault.

Hopefully, the suggestions above will provide you with the strategies and techniques to determine if your battery versus alternator is bad.  If not, you might consider one of our DIY car electrical manuals for additional expert advice.

Posted by Mike Hornok
December 19, 2016 at 11:04 pm

How to Tell if Your Fuel Pump is Bad – Tips and Strategies

Having a full tank of fuel doesn’t do any good if it can’t get to your vehicle’s engine, which is where your fuel pump comes in. But like any mechanical part, a fuel pump won’t last forever. These tips and warning signs will help you determine if the fuel pump needs to be replaced on your vehicle.

How to Tell if Your Fuel Pump Is Bad

1986 Bronco II Fuel Pump Assembly – Photo by Marion Doss

  1. You hear a whining or howling noise from the fuel tank. Electric fuel pumps make a clicking or buzzing sound when they’re functioning normally. Whining, howling and whirring are early signs the pump is going south.
  2. Your vehicle suddenly “surges” when moving at consistent speed. You’re driving at 35 mph, and your vehicle suddenly speeds up to 40 mph even though you didn’t press any harder on the gas pedal. It could be ghosts in the machine – or a sign your fuel pump has irregular resistance within the motor.
  3. You experience a loss of power when accelerating or under stress. Even a balky fuel pump can be sufficient when moving at a constant speed on flat roads. But if you lose power when accelerating, going up hills or hauling loads, your engine isn’t getting the fuel it needs.
  4. Your vehicle suddenly becomes a gas guzzler (or more of one). When the relief valve on your fuel pump doesn’t open, more fuel goes into the engine then is necessary. If you suddenly need to stop for gas a lot more often, this could be why.
  5. Your vehicle doesn’t start or has trouble starting. This is the endgame of a bad fuel pump – when it can’t even get enough fuel to the engine to properly start it.

There are two ways to test your fuel pump if you suspect it’s bad. First, put your key in the ignition and turn it to the On or Accessory positon (without starting the car); you should hear the pump start up. If it doesn’t start, attach a fuel pressure gauge to the pressure valve near the engine, and compare the reading to the recommended pressure in your OEM, Clymer, Haynes or Chilton Total Car Care manual. If the pressures are significantly different, it may be time for a new pump.

Posted by Mike Hornok
December 17, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Vehicle Service Manuals: OEM vs. DIY Aftermarket

So you’ve decided to learn more about your vehicle, and are looking for the best manual you can find. But where do you start? You’d like to get an original factory manual – but is a less expensive aftermarket DIY manual from Haynes, Chilton, or Clymer exactly what you need? The Motor Bookstore examines the upside of each.

OEM Versus DIY Aftermarket Vehicle Service Manuals

OEM/factory manuals

OEM, or “original equipment manufacturer” manuals, offers the most information you can find about your vehicle. They’re written by the company that built the vehicle and are aimed at professional technicians and advanced mechanics. Different types of OEM manuals can include service manuals, wiring manuals, unit repair manuals and owner’s manuals. These manuals are usually hundreds and even thousands of pages. While they can be expensive and harder to find for older vehicles, and the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming for newcomers, they’re an invaluable resource to have.

DIY/aftermarket manuals

Chilton, Haynes and Clymer are often referred to as “do it yourself” or “aftermarket” manuals. These books usually cover one or two vehicles spanning multiple years. (For example, one Haynes manual covers the Honda Accord from 2003-2012 and the Honda Crosstour from 2010-2014.) As a result, there is typically less information about each specific vehicle, but they do include additional instructions, photographs and illustrations for novices.

Chilton has been publishing automotive magazines and manuals for more than 100 years, and is known for their Chilton Total Care series. Haynes has been around for almost 60 years and publishes automotive manuals, motorcycle manuals and techbooks. Manuals from each are typically a few hundred pages and cover various maintenance and repair procedures. Chilton manuals also include engine torque specifications for those looking to rebuild engines. Clymer manuals focus on power sport vehicles such as motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles. Their big selling point is that each machine is completely disassembled and reassembled during the writing process, resulting in more detailed instructions.

Final thoughts

If you’re a novice mechanic, a DIY manual from Chilton, Haynes or Clymer is a great starting point, and their instructions and diagrams will be helpful on early projects. More experienced mechanics will want to make the additional investment in an OEM manual aimed at their specific vehicle.

Posted by Mike Hornok
November 5, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Things to Consider Before You Attempt to Rebuild an Engine

Rebuilding an engine can be a great way to keep your favorite vehicle on the road, and also gives you the satisfaction of doing your own repair work. But it can also be a challenging, time-consuming task and isn’t for everyone. Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced mechanic, consider the following questions before you attempt an engine rebuild:

Rebuilding an Engine - Things to Consider

Does the engine really need to be rebuilt?

There are three primary reasons to rebuild an engine: loss of compression, excessive oil consumption and excessive oil clearances. But like any symptom, there are multiple potential causes. For example, excessive oil burning could be caused by stuck oil rings – or you could just need a $6 PCV valve. Therefore, it’s important to thoroughly test your engine first to make sure a rebuild is necessary.

Does it make sense to fix it?

This is ultimately a personal choice and depends on factors such as the overall vehicle condition, how much longer you want to keep it on the road, and the cost of a new engine or vehicle versus a rebuild. Generally speaking, if you think the vehicle will give you at least 3-5 more good years – without any other major repair bills in that time – then a rebuild is a good choice.

How much time will it take?

Time spent on rebuilding an engine is time you won’t be able to use the vehicle. A relatively simple ring and valve job can be completed in a week of evenings and weekends, but if the cylinders need to be bored or the block needs to be decked, you could be talking about months. If you don’t have easy access to other transportation, the expense of a new engine could be worth the time saved.

Do you have access to all the tools you need?

Even the simplest rebuilds require a lot of tools. Most DIY mechanics have access to torque and socket wrenches, electric drills and oil pans. But far fewer have cylinder bore honing tools, piston ring compressors, or silicone gasket makers lying around. If you don’t have these tools, you’ll need to buy them, rent them, call in a favor to a friend, or pay for a machine shop to do more of the work.  The best tool that you must have is one of our DIY Engine Rebuilding Books which we offer at the lowest price possible with Free Shipping in the continental U.S.

Posted by Mike Hornok
February 29, 2016 at 8:48 pm

AAA isn’t the only show in town these days. Thanks to a competitive market and a determination to draw in consumers, everyone and his mother is offering roadside assistance programs, including dealerships, cell phone providers, auto clubs and credit card companies. This is actually great news. Nothing ruins your day more than being stuck on the side of the road with a flat, a stalled engine or being in the middle of nowhere with an empty tank.

How to Pick the Best Roadside Assistance Program

Now, the Motor Bookstore is about empowerment for car owners. Our library is filled with manuals about how to save money and getting yourself out of vehicular jams. But even we’d admit our best Haynes manual can’t help in every situation. That’s why everyone should look for the best roadside assistance program.

But, considering the market, which one? Your dealer or triple-A? The one that costs less but has the tendency of leaving you waiting for hours in a pouring rain? The affordable program that discounts services, i.e., your tow is only going to cost half the normal price? The full service program that may require financing but will bring coffee and donuts?

Always remember, the plan offered is going to be the best roadside assistance program. It’s the salesman’s job to convince you of that. But here are a few things to keep in mind when negotiating the murky waters.

  • Make sure you understand the circumstances in which your program kicks in. There are plans that won’t offer services in bad weather. One may have a completely free service and another will want payment for any service on top of membership fees. Know what you want versus what they’re offering. And do not be afraid to walk away from the table. It’s your money, your decision and there are plenty of options.
  • When it is time to look into a program, find out if you already have options. Ford provides a range of roadside assistance services with new purchases, including filling an empty tank. American Express offers emergency services to all its cardholders. Contact your credit card company or cell phone provider. Talk with the manufacturer.
  • Decide what you need and be prepared to pay for it. If you want full roadside assistance, it’s going to cost more than a company offering partial services. Another company may offer a limited number of times they’ll come out before charging. One may not do lock-outs and another will charge extra for extraction from mud and snow. Keep it affordable, but be aware the more comprehensive the package, the more you’re going to pay for the best roadside assistance program.
  • Look for extras. Focus on what the service offers you as a driver, but there can be some nice incentives, like discounts on hotels.

The web is, of course, information central. Find out what the Better Business Bureau is saying about a service, go to the forums (be fair, look at reviews and complaints; remember, people are more than happy to vent while the satisfied are more likely to stay mum) and talk with authorities like the guy you trust to work on your car.