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Auto Maintenance & Care

  • All vehicles rely on a specific set of fluids to operate, and each system carries its own maintenance requirements. Luckily, most of these fluids are very easy to check and top off if needed. Let's go over the most commonly encountered types.
    August 06, 2020
  • Even though we're all driving less than usual due to coronavirus restrictions, many of us will be relying on our vehicles for a vacation or extended road trip. Being stranded anywhere is an unpleasant experience, but it's even worse when it happens in an unfamiliar environment. To minimize the risk of that happening, we can perform a series of inspections to identify potential issues before they have a chance to ruin a much-needed getaway.
    July 31, 2020
  • Compared to planes or trains, cars are a great way to see the country while maintaining a high degree of social distancing. The surrounding atmosphere may seem surreal, but that won't change the basics of making sure your ride is prepped for a long road trip. Since there's a fair bit of information to digest, we've split it up into several parts.
    July 28, 2020
  • If you love your car, almost nothing is more satisfying than washing it yourself and admiring the finished product. Sure, you can take it to an automatic car wash, but no one will take better care of it than you. Properly washing your car is key to the paint's longevity as well as its resale value. Although there are countless products on the market to help make car washing faster, easier, and more convenient all around, the proper steps to washing your car hardly ever change. This article will help you properly wash your car with some of the best products on the market to keep it looking new for years to come.
    April 28, 2020
  • Synthetic oils have become ubiquitous in modern cars, and it's getting increasingly uncommon to find a new vehicle that doesn't come filled from the factory with synthetic oil. Most experts agree that the main benefit of using synthetic oil is the convenience of longer oil change intervals. While conventional non-synthetic oil is recommended to be changed every 3,000 miles, you can typically go 5,000 7,500+ miles on synthetic without worry. And though synthetic is much more expensive, it's worth the extra cost for drivers that dont want to change their oil as frequently.One of the most notable automotive trends in the past decade is the widespread adoption of turbocharging. What was once a niche technology reserved for high-performance sports cars and top-spec race cars can now be found in popular mainstream models like the Honda Accord and Chevy Equinox. Turbochargers are a great way to boost power output from smaller engines, but the extreme heat and high turbine speeds tend to place heavy demands on the oil used to lubricate and cool their inner workings. If your car is equipped with a turbocharged engine, it's important to make sure that the synthetic oil you select will function well with turbochargers.That said, when shopping for oil, it's hard to go wrong if you use a brand approved by the manufacturer and the correct viscosity. We've narrowed down our selection based on performance and availability, and factored in user feedback including used oil analysis results. Our picks for the best synthetic oil show consistent performance over long drains.
    August 28, 2019
  • "Jack of all trades, master of none." This is the perfect description of modern all-season tires, which promise to offer reliable performance year-round. Unlike what their name implies, all-season tires are heavily biased towards dry and wet road conditions, sacrificing winter traction for longer tread life. With a few notable exceptions, drivers who deal with snow, ice, and slush in the winter months are better off equipping winter tires.
    August 27, 2019
  • Car batteries are often overlooked during general maintenance. While this may not be much of an issue with modern-day maintenance-free battery designs, the real problem may not show up until the temperature drops and your battery cannot supply enough cranking amps to start your engine. If your vehicle is already displaying signs of struggling to start, you may want to preemptively replace the battery before you're left stranded.
    August 09, 2019
  • As the name 'summer tire' implies, these tires are best suited for high performance driving when the weather is good. Important characteristics for a summer tire are overall grip and steering response above all else, with road manners coming in second. That's not to say you have to live with an unbearably loud or harsh-riding tire to get maximum performance - the best summer tires manage to blend both high traction levels with refined road manners. Less important are factors such as treadwear and price, while winter traction is not considered at all.
    February 03, 2016
  • Often called the “secret weapon” of show car detailing, a quality glaze is used just before waxing to impart a rich depth and glow to make the finish look just so, deep. These products fill any swirl marks and/or micro fine scratches, resulting in a smooth finish with some containing a small amount of micro fine polish to remove small imperfections at the same time. Since car paint glazes are intended for cosmetic use they'll only last around a week or two without an added layer of protective wax or sealant on top.We've selected the very best car paint glazes which when properly applied, produce some of the most amazing results possible. All of our picks will reduce the appearance of light scratches and swirls, while leaving behind a glossy that’s deep and reflective. Some of these products might be easier to find than others, but each offers excellent paint rehabilitation as proven by their cult followings and continuing popularity.
    April 14, 2015
  • A lot of people use these products on their cars instead of a traditional wax because they’re easy to apply, produce a great shine, and last for months. If you’re not a car hobbyist, then one of these products is probably what you are looking for. However, you must have the car very clean before you use one of these products because they are sealants, not polish, and therefore have no abrasives. These are basically what you use after the car is clean to make it shine.These are all modern synthetic products designed to work with today’s clear coat automotive finishes. With almost no work by traditional standards, you can get an impressive shine that will last for months. Although they range in price and availability at major retailers, each of the following best non-abrasive car polishes will deliver shine and protection for your vehicle's paint. They might not be true polishes, but they all offer extra depth, shine without abrasives, ease-of-use and overall excellent results.
    November 21, 2014
  • A wax is a product designed to protect the finish it’s applied on. It’s not intended to clean, remove grit, grime, oxidation, or scum from the finish. All that work has to be done to make the finish as good as possible first, then you wax to protect and preserve it. Cleaners, polishes, and sealers go on first; then you wax.All the products here claim to be pure carnauba wax with NO abrasives. However even a “pure carnauba” product is only about 30 percent wax, otherwise it would be a wax brick. The rest is a mixture of liquefiers, oils, emoluments and whatever the manufacturer thinks will work best. That’s why there are differences of opinion.The goal with these best car carnauba paste waxes is not a blinding sharp sparkling shine as there are better products to achieve that look. What you do get is depth, warmth, and glow while at least two companies speak of a liquid look. These products also provide protection from the elements and long lasting durability.You have to pay attention to the instructions on all these products. Thin applications are usually recommended to get optimum results and to get the most for your money. It’s generally accepted that 8 to 12 weeks is the limit for any of these products to provide effective protection.
    November 21, 2014
  • Properly-functioning fuel injectors and the fuel system as a whole are vital to a smooth and efficiently running engine. The system in older and neglected cars can become clogged with corrosive deposits and contaminants over time; negatively affecting your vehicle's performance.Having the fuel system of your vehicle cleaned can be rather costly, leaving people to seek ways to improve performance on their own and with minimal effort. Fuel system cleaners are capable of removing deposits and contributing to better performance overall. These improvements include a smoother idle, better fuel economy, more power, and reduced emissions.We've chosen fuel injector cleaners proven to be effective when used properly on vehicles that can benefit from this type of product. We've also ensured each of our picks is relatively affordable, making it possible to use them as a regular part of maintaining your vehicle. Finally, most of the following fuel system cleaners are easy to find at major retailers.
    November 06, 2014
  • Radiator Stop Leak products are somewhat debated as to their effectiveness, or whether they’re worth using at all. Although they generally are able to temporarily stop a leak in some cars, they’re not a long term solution as they can cause more issues further down the line by clogging up engine systems. Some people do use these products without any issue, however, and it's worth knowing which the best are in the event that you need a stop gap measure.We've chosen the best radiator stop leak products that are well-rated for their effectiveness, and have been around long enough to note any long-term issues likely to arise following their use. Each of the following products is relatively affordable and simple to use, making them good to have on hand for emergency situations.
    November 06, 2014
  • As high mileage vehicles tend to have more wear than new engines, gaps between components can form, leading to leaks. As a car engines ages, seals and gaskets have a tendency to dry out, crack and oil begins to burn off between changes. All of this can ultimately contribute to the buildup of oil sludge and deposits in the engine, potentially shortening the life of your car's engine.High mileage motor oils are designed to include additives that provide better lubrication, help protect engine seals, and prevent sludge from building up. This minimizes engine wear and extends the life of the engine, while ideally improving performance in the meantime.We've chosen high mileage motor oils from leading companies proven to perform over time and contain all the positive traits we've described above. Price varies quite a bit depending on oil sales at the time as well as your local market, so it's best to simply pick the oil that best suits your needs.
    November 06, 2014
  • Every new car today comes with ODB2 which is a federally mandated on board diagnostics computer which is used for service related matters. OBD2-equipped cars have a distinctive port hidden somewhere in the passenger compartment, into which a diagnostic device is connected. When your car is running rough or the check engine light is illuminated, a scan tool is often the first instrument deployed to isolate the issue.While many auto parts stores will perform a scan for you either for free or for a nominal fee, nothing beats the convenience of having your own scan tool. We’ve chosen the best OBD2 scanners to keep handy in case things ever go wrong.These selections were based on each scanners overall value, although most are not packed full of features. We've also opted to select well-rated and extremely user-friendly models which allow almost anyone to perform diagnostics on their own vehicle. All of the following selections offer a good balance of features and price, providing excellent all-around choices for even novice users.
    November 06, 2014
  • Keeping your wheels clean can be a labor-intensive and messy process, with brake dust and grime seeming to get everywhere and yet stick relentlessly to the wheels. However, when not done on a regular basis, the corrosive residues can begin to damage the wheels.The best wheel cleaners need to not only cut through and dissolve brake dust and other residues, but suspend the particles to avoid scratching your wheels. We've ensured the following best wheel cleaners are safe on most surfaces, although it's important to always check if the product you want to use is suitable for your wheels.For those who regularly wash their wheels with soap and water, using these cleaners regularly is likely to be overkill. However, if it's been a while since you cleaned your wheels or your car is particularly prone to brake dust, these picks will effectively remove build-up.These products are also helpful for cleaning the hard-to-reach areas of your wheels, reducing the amount of scrubbing that is needed. However, a small bottle of cleaner can be used deceptively fast, so keep that in mind if you plan on using a wheel cleaner on a regular basis.
    November 05, 2014
  • Shopping for an oil filter can be confusing with so many different brands to choose from. It’s not uncommon for an identical filter to be sold under a number of different brand names, further adding to the confusion. However, the internal construction and the quality of the filtering element can greatly differ between two brands, and many filters from the most popular brands are of very poor quality.The following filters were picked for their objective filtering performance based on the quality and surface area of their filtering element where the particles are trapped. The construction of the anti-drain back and bypass valves is also important since they maintain hold oil pressure. Finally, we picked the following oil filters for their overall value since there's no need to purchase an expensive filter in order to have solid, basic performance.
    November 03, 2014
  • Traditionally, API rated automotive engine oils have been successfully substituted for motorcycle oils, with little or no immediate problems. However, over the long haul, automotive engine oils break down faster in a motorcycle. This is due to the higher rev range of a motorcycle engine, and the fact that an engine oil must also be used to lubricate the transmission and the "wet clutch" design inherent on most modern motorcycles. Essentially, an automotive engine oil is forced to work harder by doing triple duty lubrication when it was only designed for single duty engine lubrication. This is where a motorcycle oil fills the gap. These oils are specifically designed for the multiple tasks of engine, transmission and wet clutch lubrication. The best of them will maintain their viscosity longer, break down less over a longer period of time and limit metal on metal wear to nearly imperceptible levels.This list addresses all of those specifications for the best motorcycle oil available.
    October 28, 2014
  • A clean engine air filter helps to maximize efficient engine performance. When choosing a replacement air filter, it is important to first determine your needs. If you simply want to maintain a vehicle, an economical air filter is usually perfectly adequate. If you’re looking to improve air flow with the goal of boosting the efficiency and power output of the engine, more expensive filters suit this purpose.We've focused on good all-around filters that will be suited to most typical driving needs, with good air flow and excellent filtration. With the exception of our high-performance pick, the K&N High-Flow air filter, all of the following picks are quite affordable to purchase and easy to find at most major retailers. With regular maintenance, these quality air filters can improve the performance and extend the life of your engine.
    October 07, 2014
  • Non-synthetic oil (also referred to as dino or conventional oil) is extremely cheap and performs very well as long as you change your oil every 3,000 miles. In fact, if you don’t mind the added cost and hassle of short oil change intervals, it can be difficult to justify the cost of much more expensive synthetic oils.Typically, any dino oil that has an API SM or SL rating will do well in most applications, but our top picks were chosen because they’re cheap compared to synthetic oils, and are widely available at major retailers. They also all offer consistent performance as rated by users over the course of many years, meaning with proper maintenance your vehicle will run smoothly and reliably.
    October 06, 2014
  • Too often, drivers ignore the condition of brake fluid in their cars. Not only does brake fluid have to serve as an incompressible medium within the brake lines, it must maintain a consistently high boiling point in order to function properly.Over time, the boiling point of brake fluid slowly drops due to deterioration, contaminants, and moisture. This leads to decreased brake performance, and can result in a dangerous situation where the heat generated from the brakes can cause the fluid to boil. To avoid this, using a high-quality brake fluid and performing regular changes are both highly recommended.Brake fluid is an important component in car safety, so make sure that your choice offers more performance than you are likely to need.Since brake fluids with much higher performance are often considerably more expensive, it's best to evaluate your needs first. However, not needing racing brake fluid for your driving doesn't mean an inferior product will do.These are some of the best brake fluids on the market, based on their overall performance. All of the following picks offer performance which exceeds the needs of most regular drivers, with several picks that are suited for the high demands of track driving.
    October 06, 2014
  • Spark plugs are a critical component of engine maintenance, yet many drivers remain unaware of this requirement. Old, worn, or dirty spark plugs will decrease your engine's ability to perform, as they will be unable to ignite the fuel/air mixture as efficiently as they should. Having good spark plugs will make your engine run smoother, cleaner, and consume less fuel.These best spark plugs make use of the latest technology and materials, and can achieve both high performance and durability without compromise. While these highest-performing spark plugs may come with a higher price tag, their ability to increase your engine's overall performance will be worth the added cost.
    October 06, 2014
  • One of the easiest ways to scratch up the paint or clear coat of your car is to use an unsuitable material for cleaning/drying. The rough textures of standard towels or old t-shirts leave minute scratches in the finish, leading to the characteristic ‘swirl’ marks found on many cars on the road.Microfiber cloths prevent this phenomenon by utilizing a state-of-the-art texture which is soft to the touch and gentle on paint surfaces. The name ‘microfiber’ is derived from the cloth itself, which is a texture that extends into the microscopic realm and does wonders to pick up dirt and dust without roughing up the surface that it is used on. These cloths are often inexpensive, and should always be used when washing your car as opposed to throw-away clothing or towels.We've chosen microfiber cloths which are ideal for washing cars, thanks to their softness and durability. Each of our picks is suitable for absorbing water, applying products, or simply removing dust and dirt. We've also ensured the following selections are reasonably priced and readily available, making them easy to replace when necessary.
    October 06, 2014
  • If you are serious about caring for your car, then you want to keep it clean. These car wash soaps are formulated to remove dirt and road grime without removing your car’s wax job. It's important to use the right cleaning products on your car, because using the wrong ones (such as a dish soap) will leave the finish totally exposed to the elements.The advantages of each of the following selections is they’re all designed to generate suds and increase the lubricity of the water so the soap lifts the dirt and grime without stripping the wax, scratching or creating swirls. Another critical characteristic of these best car wash soaps and shampoos is they’re formulated to rinse totally in cold water while other soaps are not which can leave a contaminated surface.
    October 02, 2014
  • Let’s face it, no matter how well you try to take care of your car, scratches are bound to happen. Whether this happens due to careless people in parking lots or something as simple as accidentally grazing your car with a sharp object, scratches on the paint show up sooner or later.While deeper scratches extending into the bare metal of your car require professional attention to repair, lighter ones can often be taken care of with a good scratch remover. These products work by polishing the surface of the scratch until it blends in with the rest of the paint, making it nearly unnoticeable. However, the quality of the repair varies depending on the person performing the repair.We've chosen scratch removal products that require minimal effort while producing maximum results. Suited for light surface defects, each of the following picks will effectively reduce the appearance of scratches, swirls, and other minor paint issues. Most are also quite affordable, making them a no-brainer to have on hand for when the inevitable scratches and scuffs happen.
    October 02, 2014
  • It's no secret that the Honda Accord is seen as a more sporting choice than its archrival, the Toyota Camry. This is due to livelier engine options and suspension tuning which trades what some would consider excessive isolation exhibited in the Camry for a more driver-oriented feel. Thus, it's important to match the tires to suit the car's characteristics.As with any tire recommendation, individual drivers will have different preferences when it comes to what they like their tires to do. Consider any of the tires listed here to be top picks for your Accord, though some may not be available in the size needed for your car. All of our selections will complement the relatively sporting nature of the Honda Accord, while maintaining a quiet, comfortable, and compliant ride.
    September 30, 2014
  • While no single tire is the “best” for the Toyota Camry, different drivers have different preferences. Many drivers live in areas where winter traction becomes an issue when the seasons change, while those who live in warmer climates have the luxury of leaving summer tires on year-round.The tires listed here should not be viewed as first, second or third best. Rather, all of these are excellent choices for the Camry. Depending on your personal needs and wants, any one of these tires can be considered best tires for your Camry. However, each of our selections offers excellent overall performance, featuring high levels of grip, comfortable and quiet ride quality, and good tread life.
    September 30, 2014
  • Buying tires for your Prius can turn out to be quite a bit more difficult than anyone could have imagined. Tire selection for this car has to be very specific in order to not wreck the delicate balance of fuel economy and road holding that Toyota has achieved.Though the Prius is no sports car, installing ultra low-grip tires which give up traction in exchange for low rolling resistance and maximum fuel efficiency can become dangerous in critical situations. On the flip side, it makes absolutely no sense to install maximum performance summer tires on the Prius.If the tires on your Prius are worn out, consider the options listed here. We've selected tires that offer good basic traction and handling in most conditions, while having a smooth, quiet, and comfortable ride. We've also included tires to fit a variety of budgets.
    September 30, 2014
  • Antifreeze, or engine coolant, is a liquid solution designed to regulate engine temperature within a vehicle and wick away excess heat to the radiator. This auto maintenance product is used with internal combustion engines, although some engines require specialty formulas to comply with vehicle regulations, especially newer engines. Antifreeze is poured into the coolant chamber, typically found under a vehicle’s hood although often installed in different configurations based on the model of vehicle. The best antifreeze products below were chosen based on their wide temperature range of performance, their compatibility with many car models and for their long service life.
    August 15, 2013
  • A tire pressure gauge is an important tool that can help improve fuel efficiency on a vehicle and promote a longer service life for tires. Auto tires should be kept to an optimum range of air pressure, measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), so the treads wear evenly and the car doesn't waste fuel. All of these tire pressure gauges fit directly onto valve caps and can take measurements of at least 10 PSI to 99 PSI. These tire pressure gauges were chosen for this list based on their ability to provide clear readings, attach easily to a valve cap, their cost-effectiveness and their accuracy; all gauges listed are accurate within 1 PSI.
    August 07, 2013