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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
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.
Once your pressure reading is comfortably within the minimum/maximum range, disconnect the dispenser and re-cap the fill port.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.