Archive for May 2015

The Right Way to Tow a Trailer

The trailer is doing a lazy samba behind your SUV as you drive down the highway, swaying side to side far enough to intrude into the neighboring lanes and tug at your truck’s rear end. It feels spooky and is, in fact, unsafe. Funny, the thing was as stable as an alpaca on a mountainside when you left this morning. Since then, the only changes you made were to fill the camper’s water tank and to load the rear with camping gear and luggage.
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Towing a trailer can be a trial. Seemingly minor details—like adding a couple of hundred pounds to the rear—can make profound changes in the rig’s stability. But by following a few simple guidelines, you can stay on track, towing with the utmost ease and safety.
The Right Gear

All hitches are not created equal. The weight that your vehicle can tow is specified by the manufacturer and listed in the owner’s manual. Find two numbers: the gross trailer weight (GTW) and the maximum tongue weight. With those figures in hand, you can then pick the appropriate hitch; they are split into five classes based on weight:

Class 1: 2000 pounds GTW/200 pounds tongue weight

Class 2: 3500 pounds GTW/350 pounds tongue weight

Class 3: 5000 pounds GTW/500 pounds tongue weight

Class 4: 7500 pounds GTW/750 pounds tongue weight

Class 5: 10,000 pounds GTW/1000 pounds tongue weight

My advice is to install a hitch receiver that’s heavy-duty enough to match your vehicle’s GTW and tongue-weight spec, even if you’re planning on towing only a small trailer. Don’t forget to factor in the weight of the trailer’s contents—including the capacity of the fresh-, gray- and black-water tanks—when you’re shopping hitches.

Most hitches employ a removable drawbar, which holds the hitch ball. The bars come in two sizes: 1.25 inches (for lightweight pop-ups and bike racks) and 2 inches (for heavy loads).

Hitch balls come in three main flavors: 17/8 inches, 2 inches and 25/16 inches. Generally, the bigger the ball, the more weight it can support. If you own two or more trailers that call for different ball sizes, I recommend buying separate drawbars with the proper balls permanently attached.

Install the ball onto the drawbar to the proper torque—generally, several hundred foot-pounds. You’ll have to use big tools and lots of muscle, and a generous squirt of threadlocker, which will keep moisture from penetrating the threads and freezing them up, allowing for easier removal.
Merce Iglesias

1. Cross the Chains for Safety

Chains serve as the hitch of last resort: If the tongue ever loses its grip on the ball, the chains will keep the trailer from vaulting the guardrail into oncoming traffic or something equally inconvenient. Cross the chains under the tongue—if it slips free, it’ll land on top of the crossed chains rather than hitting the pavement. A bonus of the X configuration: The chains won’t come up short in tight turns.
Merce Iglesias
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2. Check the Trailer-Wiring Harness
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This industry-standard plug and socket wiring and color-coding scheme should make it easy to install the connector properly to the tow vehicle’s harness. Spray the contacts with dielectric grease to prevent corrosion.
Merce Iglesias

3. Always Check the Brake Battery

Trailers with electric brakes rely on a small gel-cell battery to initiate stopping when the breakaway lanyard is pulled. Normally, the battery charges whenever the truck engine is running. But it’s smart to check it before hitting the road; faulty wiring or lengthy storage can sap the juice. Use a test light or voltmeter to make sure the battery is alive; if not, hook it up to an external charger to ensure the brakes are in working order.
Merce Iglesias

4. Set Your Tongue Weight

Swaying trailers are almost always the result of insufficient tongue weight, because adding tongue weight adds stability.

If there is zero tongue weight, the trailer’s center of gravity (CG), the point around which it pitches, yaws and rolls, is centered between the tires’ contact patches. This will provide no stability, specifically in yaw, or sway. Adding tongue weight, by moving cargo in the trailer forward, pulls the CG forward of the tire contact patches. The drag of the tires will tend to pull the CG back onto the centerline of the truck and trailer. The more tongue weight, the farther forward the CG goes, and the more stability in sway, right up until you add too much tongue weight for the tow vehicle’s rear suspension to handle. Industry-wide, the target recommendation for tongue weight is 10 to 12 percent of total trailer weight. Here’s how to check tongue weight if your trailer weighs so much that your bathroom scale won’t read high enough. With the tongue resting on the beam one-third of the distance between the pivot and the scale, a 140-pound reading means that the total tongue weight is 420 pounds, just about right for a 4000-pound trailer.
Merce Iglesias
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5. Set Up an Equalizing Hitch
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Once you’ve dialed in enough tongue weight for stability (about 10 percent of the trailer’s weight), there may be too much pressure on the vehicle’s hitch. Equalizing bars (right) induce a rotational force around the hitch and pivot horizontally, transferring some of the tongue weight to the vehicle’s front axle. The stiffness of the bars needs to be correct for your particular trailer, so consult the manual or a trailering specialist. I generally adjust them so that when the equalizer bars are installed, the trailer hitch rises back to within 1 inch of its unladen ride height.

On The Road >>>
Daniel Hennessy
Daniel Hennessy
Setting the Hitch Height

It’s important that the loaded trailer be level to the ground when it’s attached to the vehicle, and that you trim the trailer’s flatness either with an adjustable drawbar or by finding one with the right offset. (If you end up using an offset drawbar, make sure it’s rated to handle the trailer weight.)

First, you need to find the height of the trailer’s tongue when the trailer is level. Set up the trailer on flat pavement. Run the tongue jack up and down or prop it up on some scrap lumber until it’s level. You can determine this by placing a carpenter’s level on the tongue or by eyeballing the trailer from the side from a distance of about 50 feet. Measure from the ground to the top of the ball socket. Park the vehicle you’ll use to tow the trailer on level ground too. Then measure from the ground to the top of the hitch receiver and add 3 inches to accommodate the height of the ball.

Typically, the ball is a good bit higher than the trailer tongue, so the difference is the approximate amount the drawbar will have to be lowered. I say approximate because the weight of the trailer will compress the vehicle’s springs. Hook up everything (with the trailer loaded) and again measure the trailer’s attitude. You’ll likely have to adjust the drawbar height again. I keep a few different drawbars on hand, but an adjustable one is a good investment.
Loading Up

Sure, you know how much the trailer weighs, because it’s printed right there on the registration, right? Don’t believe it, as the listed weight probably doesn’t include a camper’s furniture or the cargo on a utility trailer. Accessories added at the dealership, like an auxiliary battery, ramps, tie-down rails and whatnot, can make the gross weight climb substantially. (Don’t complain to the trailer manufacturer—if your state charges by weight for the registration, you’re saving a couple of bucks. ) The only real way to know is to weigh it, which you can do for a minimal fee at most stone-and-gravel yards, feed stores and truck stops.

Before you head to the scales, load up all the items that you plan to haul, and fill the water and propane tanks. After you arrive, first get the overall trailer weight by disconnecting the trailer and resting the entire rig, wheels and tongue jack on the scale. Next, find the tongue weight by hitching up the trailer and leaving only its tires on the scale. The difference between the two measurements is the tongue weight. You want roughly 10 percent of the ­trailer’s weight on the tongue. Shift the cargo fore and aft until you get the correct weight distribution. Note the position of the load (a camera phone comes in handy for this) so you know for next time. And if you’re changing cargo but don’t have time to visit the scales, use our home-brew method (see “Set Your Tongue Weight”) to get an accurate measurement.

Don’t trust anything to stay put in or on a trailer once you’re under way. Clip or bungee cabinet doors and drawers. Use ratchet tie downs to keep stuff in place.

Inflate the tires to the trailer manufacturer’s maximum recommended cold pressure. Heat is the tires’ enemy, and a properly inflated tire will run cooler. Be even more careful of the small tires on light-duty trailers—the tiny outside diameter means they spin faster. A high-speed run on a hot day with a ton of bricks on board could overheat the tires or wheel bearings.
Hooking Up

Whenever you hook up the trailer, check that all of the lights are working. You can do this without making four trips up to the cab and toggling on all the turn signals and brake lights in succession. Turn on the parking lamps and the hazard flashers. Walk to the back of the trailer. If the parking lamps and flashers are on, you’ve got turn signals and brake lights, because they’re the same filaments as the hazards. This assumes, of course, that the truck’s brake lights are working.
On the Road

Regardless of how tightly you cranked the tie downs on that car, bike or ATV, road vibration can loosen them. So, about 10 to 20 miles after you depart, stop and check their tension. After a few hours on the road—and every time you stop—inspect the trailer. Make sure the hitch and wiring are secure. Kick the tires to see if they’re properly inflated. Tire pressure and properly functioning wheel bearings are crucial. Heat is the telltale sign: You just don’t want any tire or wheel bearing to be significantly warmer than the others. I use an infrared thermometer—or my calibrated palm—to check the temperature of both. A tire becomes hotter if it has less air pressure than the others, so check for a leak. A toasty wheel bearing is on the verge of failing. At the very least, pop off the bearing cap to see if there’s sufficient grease in the bearing cavity.

Every morning, check the tow vehicle and trailer tire pressure, as well as the trailer lights and brakes. Ditto for any tie downs. Don’t forget to shut off the propane at the tank and the electric water pump at the breaker. If you’ve got an auxiliary battery, be sure it’s turned off and connected to the vehicle charging circuit so it’ll charge while you’re under way.

One last tip: If you’re trailering to a campground, leave the freshwater tank empty until you’re on-site. No sense in towing several hundred pounds of water cross-country. Ditto for breaking camp: Empty the black-, gray- and fresh-water tanks at the campground instead of towing all that extra weight around.

How Often Should You Rotate Your Tires?

By Rick Popely  on May 6, 2013

A good time to rotate your tires is when you get the oil changed, assuming you do that at least once a year and more often if you drive, say, more than 10,000 miles annually.

Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that the tires be rotated on the same schedule as oil changes. In most cases that means every 7,500 miles or six months, though some have stretched the oil-change interval to 10,000 miles, such as on many Fords, Volkswagens and Toyotas. BMW allows up to 15,000 miles between oil changes, but that is too long to wait to rotate the tires.

Unless you drive fewer than about 7,500 miles per year, you should probably rotate tires every six months or so.

The tires mounted on the drive wheels of any vehicle perform extra duty because they apply the power to the pavement. On front-wheel-drive vehicles that is amplified by the weight of the engine and transmission, and because the front tires do most of the work in turns. Rotating the tires between front and rear a couple of times a year spreads out the burden so they wear evenly. Automakers that offer all-wheel-drive cars also recommend rotating tires. Subaru, for example, says to do it every 7,500 miles or 7.5 months, whichever comes first.

There are exceptions to these examples, particularly with performance models that may have different schedules for tire rotation. We suggest you follow the recommended schedule outlined in your owner’s manual, but rotate the tires (and change the oil) at least once a year. You don’t have to go to a car dealership to have this done, and many tire dealers and other repair shops will perform both jobs for about $30 total.

Top five ways the heat affects your car – and what to do about it

Have your hoses and belts checked regularly – alongside a 3-5,000 oil change is a decent interval – paying particular attention to areas near connections and clamps. Also, have your cooling system pressure tested for leaks, then flushed and filled regularly.
View all 5 photos

Greetings fellow Washingtonians and welcome to Hades. Summer is in full swing, and the mercury is rising faster than the federal deficit. The heat is hard on us humans, but it takes an even greater toll on our cars. Here are the top five ways the high temps can wreak havoc on your ride – and what you can do mitigate the damage, save some money, and maintain your car’s long-term value.

Replacement cost: $100+ each on average, plus mounting and balancing
Maintenance cost: <$30 annually for checks, protectant

We are most concerned with avoiding road hazards like nails, glass and other debris that could cause punctures, but heat is a comparable enemy. In addition to the heat generated by rolling resistance and friction of your tires, summer pavement temperatures can exceed air temps by 10-15 degrees. The extreme heat increases stress on tread cracks, sidewall bubbles, bald spots or other structural deficiencies that could cause a blowout or disintegration, especially at highway speeds.

Dealing with it: Have your tires inspected during each oil change for proper inflation, tread depth and signs of wear or damage. This also applies to older tires with low miles but for whom age may have compromised their structural integrity. Regular vehicle cleaning can also help protect your tires, specifically the use of protectants like Armor-All that often contain UV protection and help maintain the elasticity of the rubber.

Replacement cost: $100+, plus towing when you’re stranded
Maintenance cost: Virtually nothing

Like sub-freezing temps in the dead of winter, summer’s extreme heat can render your all-important car battery useless. In fact, high temperatures actually accelerate your battery’s chemical operation and cause its internal fluids to evaporate, causing it to burn out quicker. And the last thing you want on a 90+ degree day is a dead battery and no air conditioning.

Dealing with it: Keep your battery functioning properly during the summer and all year-round by keeping it clean. The terminals should be free of corrosion and if not, apply a solvent of water and baking soda with some steel wool to get rid of it. Like other periodic maintenance items, have the battery checked at regular intervals by a professional mechanic. A battery that does not hold a charge can also indicate a malfunctioning or inoperative alternator.

Belts, Hoses, Cooling System
Replacement cost: $300+, radiator
Maintenance cost: <$50 annually for checks, fluid replacement

Even today’s modern vehicles have traditional systems of belts and hoses to help move essential fluids like oil and coolant and turn fans to maintain proper engine operating temperature. Frequently, a basic visual inspection of these items may not reveal harmful damage occurring inside hoses and on the undersides of belts. Prolonged exposure to excessive heat can cause cracks, leading to radiator failure and engine overheating.

Dealing with it: Have your hoses and belts checked regularly – alongside a 3-5,000 oil change is a decent interval – paying particular attention to areas near connections and clamps. Also, have your cooling system pressure tested for leaks, then flushed and filled regularly.

Paint & Upholstery
Replacement cost: $2000 minimum for a professional, factory-finish job
Maintenance cost: <$200 annually for regular cleaning and waxing

Vehicle paint processes have evolved, offering more vibrant colors, brighter finishes and improved corrosion protection. The bad news is that some manufacturers have directed production cost-savings into the paint booth, resulting in thinner paint coats that are more susceptible to external damage. Constant, direct sun exposure can damage your vehicle’s clearcoat and cause paint, rubber and plastic trim to fade, crack or peel. Similarly, high temps inside your car result in a greenhouse effect (a 90 degree day can cause temps inside your car to exceed 120) causing your dash and upholstery – whether leather or cloth – to fade, dry out and crack.

Dealing with it: In the absence of a garage, many car detailing experts recommend covers to protect your car from oxidation, bird droppings, acid rain and other contaminants as well as sun damage. The same cover will help keep the direct sun away from your interior and lower cabin temperatures, protecting interior surfaces and materials. Waxing your car is also an essential process that helps protect your paint. Applying a liquid sealant and a carnauba-based wax (Meguiar’s, Mother’s and Turtle Wax are popular brands) once per year will help maintain your paint and protect it from the elements. Inside, a generous application of low-gloss protectant like Armor-All will help protect those interior surfaces as well.

Replacement cost: $3,000+
Maintenance cost: <$100 annually

In concert with the engine (referred to as the powertrain), the transmission is the functioning heart of your car. This critical component is under increased stress during summer’s high temps and its labyrinth of internal parts is subject to failure if overworked or not properly maintained. This is especially critical for individuals like contractors, couriers, newspaper deliverymen, carpoolers or boat owners who carry loads that may exceed their transmission’s capabilities.

Dealing with it: Keep on top of scheduled transmission maintenance, including fluid and filter changes at least every 20,000 miles. If your vocation or lifestyle requires carrying heavy loads, check your owner’s manual to ensure it is within the vehicles towing capacity. And for the everyday driver, keep unnecessary cargo out of your vehicle that can build up and add taxing weight.

If you have other questions about vehicle maintenance or care, drop me a line at

The TOP 10 Auto Body Repair Shops in the Virginia Beach Area VA

Click link below!

The Best Auto Body Shops in the Virginia Beach Area VA Are the Ones Verified As Safe To Hire
Auto body shops in the Virginia Beach Area Virginia bearing The Prime Buyer’s Report TOP 10 symbol are those collision repair services verified by our independent research to have met any State licensing requirements for reliability and professionalism, carry liability insurance as protection for you the customer, and for whom our staff has called previous customer to verify high satisfaction with them for auto body repair in the Virginia Beach Area VA, including dent removal, auto painting, frame straightening, and more.

Opening Panel2

Holiday Road-Trip Survival Tips

Are you and your family planning to drive to a holiday get-together this year? Whether you’re heading to Grandma’s cottage or a favorite vacation spot to celebrate holidays with family or friends, AAA has simple tips to help make your drive a smooth one, so you can arrive at your destination safely and without incident.

Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Go with them on bathroom breaks and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
In case of an emergency, keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.

With a little prep, you can leave the road-trip stress at home and enjoy your holiday with family and friends.

Protect Your Car from Sun and Heat

The sun and heat can be very damaging to a car. During testing conducted at the State Farm Vehicle Research Facility, interior air temperatures have been recorded well in excess of 145 °F and vehicle interior surface temperatures on areas exposed to direct sunlight in excess of 195 °F.

But it’s not just the dashboard and seats that you need to look out for, a car’s finish and engine are also at risk. So whether you live in a warm climate year-round or just need protection during the summer months, it’s always best to be safe and prepared.
Protecting Your Interior

Park in the shade. It is the easiest form of protection. By avoiding direct sunlight, you’ll help keep your dash from drying and cracking. If it is safe to do so, crack the windows to help lower the interior temperature and equalize the air pressure.
Use a windshield sun protector. It’s a great way to keep your car cool and prevent sun damage. They may look a little cumbersome at first, but they are really quite easy to use.
Wipe dash with a microfiber cloth. Dust and dirt can cause tiny scratches that can become worse over time. Wipe down the dash frequently to remove all particles. A low-gloss detailing product will also protect it and reduce glare.
Install seat covers. They not only protect leather and fabric seats, but they also help keep them cool.
Protect leather seats with a conditioner. The sun and heat can really do a number on them. To help avoid cracks or tears, keep seats clean and apply leather conditioner often.

Tips for the Exterior

Wash and dry often. Sun and heat can fade and crack the paint. Frequent washing and hand drying help remove dirt and dust particles that can cause micro scratches and dull your car’s finish.
Wax your car. A layer of wax between your car’s finish and the sun’s ultraviolet rays is a great way to help protect it. How often a car needs a wax job varies, but it is best to do it on a regular basis.
Check tire pressure. Hot pavement and under inflated tires can be a dangerous combination and may lead to a blowout. Even good tires can lose about one pound of air pressure a month, so it’s really important to check often when it’s hot. Make sure you follow your vehicle’s manufacturer recommended tire pressure.

Under the Hood

Cooling system. In order to help protect your engine from overheating, make sure it is in good working order. Have the belts checked and antifreeze/coolant drained, then replaced on a regular basis as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
The rest of the fluids. The possibility of overheating greatly increases when fluid levels are below recommended levels. Regularly check motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid. If any need to be topped off, check your owner’s manual about the types of fluids recommended.
Battery. High temperatures and high accessory loads (use of the vehicles air conditioning) can cause it to wear out and fail quicker. Have the vehicle’s battery and complete charging system checked regularly by a professional mechanic to make sure it’s functioning properly.
Air conditioning. Staying cool not only keeps you comfortable, but can also help you stay alert when driving. If your car’s interior temperature isn’t cool enough, the refrigerant charge level in the air conditioning system may be low or there may be a more serious problem. Have it checked by a professional.

Be sure to stay cool and safe no matter how hot it gets. A little preventative maintenance and simple upkeep can keep you on the road and out of your mechanic’s garage.
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About I-CAR, What is I-Car?

About I-CAR

I-CAR, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the information, knowledge and skills required to perform complete, safe and quality repairs.

Formed in 1979 out of a collaboration across the six segments of the collision repair Inter-Industry, I-CAR serves — and is represented by — all segments of the Inter-Industry:

  • Collision repair
  • Insurance
  • Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)
  • Education, training and research
  • Tools, equipment and supply
  • Related industry services

I-CAR’s focus is to provide everyone involved in collision repair with access to high-quality, industry-recognized training solutions. I-CAR also encourages and supports ongoing conversations in the industry on issues that impact collision repair.

Funding for the organization is primarily derived from student tuition. This assures that I-CAR can remain unbiased in developing programs and services on an industry-wide basis. I-CAR delivers its services and training throughout the United States. I-CAR training content is also licensed for distribution in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Protecting Your Car From Road Salt

Protecting Your Car From Road Salt

Although road salt is necessary for safe transportation when snow and ice accumulate on roads and highways, taking active steps to protect your car from road salt is necessary to avoid rust and corrosion and general loss of your investment.

Why Road Salt?

Salt was first used in snow and ice control in the 1930s to make roads safe and passable by creating a lower water freezing temperature. Salt is the most available and cost-effective de-icer and is easy to store, handle, and apply. Unfortunately, road salt also promotes rapid corrosion.

Removing Road Salt at the Car Wash

When salt is on the road, washing your car is the major factor in combating corrosion and maintaining the value of your car. Salt that remains on a vehicle surface and undercarriage for any length of time can;

  • damage your car’s clear finish.
  • promote rust.
  • affect the mechanics of your vehicle.

Preventing Salt Damage to Your Car

  • Wash your vehicle every 10 days or less.
  • Wash your vehicle whenever the temperature reaches 40 degrees F. or higher.
  • Wash your vehicle during the day to allow it to dry completely before freezing evening temperatures begin.
  • Immediately after washing the vehicle, open and close all doors, the trunk, and other parts of the car with locks several times before parking it to prevent locks from freezing.
  • Avoid driving through deep snow. Deep snow can become packed into the undercarriage and contribute to corrosion and even cause drivability problems (reduced braking action, vibrations, inhibit airflow, etc).

Snow and sleet contain corrosive road salt and rain and snow collects pollutants in the air and drops them as acid rain which can damage the protective finish of your car.

  • Wash your vehicle as soon as possible after a snow or rain shower if you live in an area subject to acid rain.
  • Wash the underside of your car often during the winter months in a car wash that does not use recycled water.
  • Avoid driving through large puddles of standing water where road salt collects.
  • Repair paint chips that are larger than the tip of a pen to avoid corrosion.
  • Wax your vehicle at least every six months to give your vehicle a strong protective coating.
  • Wax your vehicle before winter to protect your paint from corrosive salt.

Vehicles are one of the biggest investments we make in our lifetimes and protecting them from the ravages of the environment, such as salt and rust is important. Certain vehicle problems are inevitable, but rust from road salt is one that can be prevented.

Some of the areas of vehicles that are most affected by rust are body panels including doors, fenders, the hood, and tailgate. The reason for this is that they inherently have areas that retain moisture. Depending upon the model of vehicle, there are many other areas that can retain moisture as well. Certain cars retain more moisture just due to the way they are designed, so you have to be especially careful and vigilant with them. Some factors that you have no control over include the environment in which you live. If you live in a coastal area you are exposed to more salt air for example. If you live in an area where there is snow and ice on the road, the authorities usually use salt on the roads which can result in rust on your car’s undercarriage.

Rust prevention tips:

  1. Keep your car clean and coated with a finish protectant at all times.
  2. Keep the underneath of your car rinsed continually when you are in an area where a lot of salt is present as mentioned above.
  3. Keep your grill, cowl, tires, and wheels clean and free from moisture holding material like leaves.
  4. Make sure any drainage holes in the frame, floor, and the bottoms of the doors are clear so that any moisture can get out.
  5. Always open your doors after washing your car to allow any accumulated water to drain out.

Rust Proofing Tip

Rust proofing only works on new vehicles. Rustproofing a pre-owned vehicle may trap dirt and moisture beneath the product resulting in an increased risk of rust and corrosion.

Top 5 ATVs for Hunting

hunting atv

Hunting for the Ultimate Hunting Companion
by Jason Giacchino

We use the word “specialization” a lot when describing the ATV market of late, and with good reason. There was a time in the recent past when manufacturers offered up maybe half a dozen models to cover the entire spectrum of ATV riders’ needs. Yet these days, it isn’t uncommon to find that many trim packages offered for a single model! In short, these are good days to be involved in the sport, but we can understand how having so many viable options to select from could become overwhelming to a prospective rider.

As always, your ATV Connection editors are here to help. Today’s buyer guide will concentrate on those ATV’s specialized for hunting. And while it’s tough to even begin to narrow down the plethora of models available to just 5, we will do our best to steer hunters into the right direction when selecting an ATV.

Before we just start rattling off names and models, it’s important to realize that these days the first decision to be made will be to determine whether an ATV or UTV (side-by-side) would be adequate for your needs. UTVs are generally graced with additional storage capacity not to mention the ability to transport passenger(s). The downside is that they are heavier, larger and certainly more expensive then their ATV counterparts. For the sake of this article we will assume you have weighed your options and decided that the ATV is the choice for you. (Be on the lookout for the UTV options soon!)

That said, the question then becomes what makes an ATV a good hunting companion in the first place? Hunting ATVs should provide easy access to locations that are hard to get to by foot and impassable for a truck. Hunting ATVs should be capable of hauling materials and supplies, such as tree stands, into isolated areas. Finally, having the power to transport harvested game back to your vehicle after a hunt is an important consideration.

So where would we start our search for a machine capable of meeting such criteria? Without further ado:

polaris sportsman

#5) Polaris Sportsman 850 H.O. EPS

A liquid cooled 4-stroke single-overhead-cam twin cylinder 850 provides the juice for the big Sportsman while a large 5.25 gallon gas tank assures passage to the most isolated areas and back again.

Features like all-wheel-drive (and 2wd select-ability), electronic power steering, electronic fuel injection, cast aluminum wheels, rear storage box and a standard passenger seat sweeten the pot. As if all of that weren’t enough, driver hand and thumb warmers mean hunting on cold mornings a lot less miserable.

The 850 starts at ,999. More information can be had at the following URL:

kawasaki brute force

#4) Kawasaki Brute Force 750 EPS

A liquid-cooled, 90-degree, 4-stroke SOHC (four valves per cylinder) V-twin powers the Brute Force, while an upgraded fully automatic, dual-range continuously variable transmission (CVT) is mated to the V-Twin. Electronic power steering and fuel injection and easy-access storage round out the goodies.

A new high gear ratio and a thicker belt made of stronger material are designed to contribute to longer CVT belt life and reduced maintenance requirements. Kawasaki boasts revised converter weight and drive spring tuning which offer improved acceleration characteristics and increased control during low-speed operation. Also, a new layout and revised placement of the CVT air duct is designed to be more effective at helping keep out water and mud.

We’re partial to the Realtree APG HD edition, which is covered in Realtree APG HD camouflage for hunters and outdoorsmen who require more stealth in the woods.

The Kawasaki Brute Force 750 EPS Realtree APG HD retails for ,349. More information can be found at the following URL:

Arctic Cat 700

#3) Arctic Cat 700 Super Duty Diesel

A 686cc liquid cooled I-Twin SOHC 4-stroke 2-valve diesel engine powers the Artic Cat 700 Super Duty. Such interesting features as front and rear speedracks, on-the-fly 2wd/4wd w/diff lock, and a 2″ receiver round out the goods.

The unique engine is made for Arctic Cat by Lombardini, an Italian company with an 80-year tradition of building some of the best medium-size engines in the world. Here’s the kicker, this ATV runs on six kinds of fuel: DF1, DF2, DF Arctic, JP5, JP8 and ti B20 Biodiesel. Diesel is 50% more fuel-efficient than comparably powered gas units.
The Artic Cat 700 Super Duty Diesel goes for ,299. More information can be found at the following URL:

Yamaha Grizzly 700

#2) Yamaha Grizzly 700 FI 4×4 EPS

A fuel injected 686cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled single, SOHC, 4 valve Raptor-based combustion chamber design produces a potent combination of low-rev torque, instant throttle response and high horsepower. The compact engine design features a 35-degree cylinder angle for ground clearance and lower seat height for quick steering and maneuverability.

Industry-exclusive, fully automatic Ultramatic transmission is the most advanced drive system in ATVing. An automatic centrifugal clutch maintains constant belt tension for reduced belt wear and uses a sprag clutch for all-wheel downhill engine braking in 4WD mode and a three-position On-Command In/Out 4WD feature lets you switch between 2WD, limited-slip 4WD and fully locked differential 4WD, all with the simple push of a button.

Fuel injection, electronic power steering, and the best power-to-weight ratio of any Yamaha utility ATV make the biggest Griz a bear to consider.

The Grizzly 700 FI retails for ,499. More information can be found at the following URL:

Can-Am Outlander

#1) Can-Am Outlander 1000

An 82-hp Rotax 1000, V-Twin, liquid-cooled, SOHC, 8-valve (4-valves per cylinder) powers the massive Can-Am. Additional features include a new SST G2 frame, Torsional Trailing arm Independent rear suspension (TTI), a new high-strength multi-function rack design with exclusive LinQ quick-attach accessory system and a 5.7 US gal (21.4L) water-resistant rear storage box.

A 2-inch receiver hitch, large 5.4 gallon fuel tank, and a factory digitally encoded security system (DESS) round out the goodies that separate the Outlander from the competition.

The Can-Am Outlander 1000 starts at ,449. More information can be found at the following URL:

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Self-driving Cars Are No Longer a Thing of the Future

But how long will it be until your car no longer needs you? Click this link to watch video

Driverless automobiles made flashy appearances at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, although nobody expects them to take over the roads anytime soon. And I know one big reason why that won’t happen. The Department of Motor Vehicles. I recently became one of the first people on the planet to earn an all-new license from the California DMV that allows me to drive a car that drives itself. Just one of the wacky bits of bureaucracy that comes with disruptive new technologies like self-driving automobiles.

Technically, my license is an “autonomous vehicle testing” permit. That sounds a bit less sexy that a driverless license, but actually it means that I’m one of the first people, ever, to be allowed to not touch the steering wheel of a moving car for extended periods of time.
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Cool, right? Texting, iPad movies and long naps—here I come. Maybe not—at least not in the foreseeable future. Even though I was chauffeured earlier this week by a prototype Audi from Silicon Valley all the way to Vegas, I still had to pay attention when I was behind the wheel—because in a Stage 3 autonomous car like the Audi (there are five stages, the fifth being a completely robotic taxi) things could still go very wrong. “Really, this is an important responsibility,” Volkswagen group senior engineer—VW owns Audi— and co-passenger Daniel Lipinski told me sternly. “In an emergency you have to take control immediately.”
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It may all sound futuristic, but driverless autos are already here. Carmakers such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla are testing them on public roads around the U.S., readying technology that will change the way we commute, not to mention pizza deliveries. Audi timed its road trip, and our exclusive first drive, to the start of the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, where Mercedes-Benz and Ford also made announcements about autonomous technology.

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Anybody can take Chevy’s Chaparral 2x Vision concept car for a spin — anybody with Gran Turismo 6 for the Sony PlayStation, anyway, where the car is a playable download.
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Anybody can take Chevy’s Chaparral 2x Vision concept car for a spin — anybody with Gran Turismo 6 for the Sony PlayStation, anyway, where the car is a playable download.
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There’s no doubt that auto autos will become mainstream. But despite a chorus of sunny pronouncements from companies like Google, don’t book your robotic Uber ride just yet. “We won’t see piloted driving on the freeway until the next decade,” said Jörg Schlinkheider, head of driver assistance systems for the VW of America. “And fully autonomous driving with no human assistance is far, far away.”

This statement was a bit stark, considering I’d just spent more than two hours schussing south down Interstate 5 towards Bakersfield, Calif., in a prototype Audi A7 sedan that drove itself. Traffic was thick, and yet the Audi handled itself capably, changing lanes and keeping up with the flow of traffic. Even at speeds of 70 m.p.h., my hands were in my lap and my feet tucked out of the way. It was eerie at first, but then I relaxed. Perhaps too much. I stopped paying keen attention to traffic, even turning to chat with the unnerved passenger in the back seat. (Sorry, Daniel.)

The 550-mile road trip was a powerhouse display meant to show how far Audi’s technology has come. The car uses an array of sensors, radars and a front-facing camera to negotiate traffic. At this point, the system works only on the freeway and cannot handle construction zones or areas with poor lane markings. When the car reaches a construction zone or the end of a highway, a voice orders you to take the wheel back. You’ve got about 10 seconds to do so before an array of LED lights goes from blue to amber, and then flashing red. You need only grab the wheel or apply the gas or brake to resume control.

If the technology still needs to evolve, the laws governing autonomous cars must evolve even more. The federal government does not yet have specific laws pertaining to the subject, leaving individual states to create their own mandates. California is easily the most proactive, allowing carmakers to test cars under specific circumstances. “California is taking this very seriously,” said Schlinkheider. Still, Audi is hoping the laws will become clearer when federal agencies eventually step in. “We can’t deal with 50 different states and 50 different sets of regulations. Right now we have to take special steps for drivers in California, but anyone with a driver’s license can pilot a prototype in Michigan.”

One of California’s stipulations is that drivers receive special instruction in how not to drive. I got mine at the VW Group’s semi-secret testing grounds outside of Phoenix. (Imagine a desert spy lab surrounded by high hedges and walls.) The training included basics like turning the system on and off and learning the circumstances in which it could be used. The rest was about handling emergencies, such as making lane changes to avoid crashing. Not that anything would go wrong, the Audi execs stressed (I briefly had visions of a Skynet takeover). Better to be over-prepared, they said. In all, it was far more difficult and involved than a regular driving test.

Average buyers will not need such training. That’s because the roll-out will be slow. In Audi’s case, it will be with a program that allows the car to operate itself in stop-and-go highway traffic jams. When the jam clears, though, the driver will have to take the wheel again. We’ll likely see that within the next couple of years, said Schlinkheider. As for the kind of high-speed freeway driving that I experienced, Audi will not release it “until the next decade.”

“It makes me happy to hear a major manufacturer saying that,” said Dr. Jeffrey Miller, an associate professor at the University of Southern California who specializes in intelligent transportation systems. “We’ve got these players like Google with very ambitious timelines, but I think Audi’s timeline is spot on. Not only does tech need to mature more, so does driver acceptance.”

Even better, he also thought my license was pretty cool. “A lot of people will say licenses — and drivers — will be obsolete, but that’s not the case. The driver will always have to take over in case of a failure.”
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How To Choose the Best Car Insurance Company

Setting your priorities, checking reputations and financial standings, comparing quotes—shopping for the best car insurance company for your needs might seem daunting unless you tackle the process one step at a time.

Know What You Want

Understand what coverages and amenities you’re looking for in a car insurance company. Are you solely looking for cheap auto insurance? How might choosing the cheapest option affect your actual coverage? What about customer service—that’s important, too, right?

Know your priorities before you begin looking to buy car insurance. Ideally, you’ll want a company that offers great coverage at an affordable price from customer service-oriented agents.

Check for Reputation and Financial Standing

Once you’ve found a few seemingly compatible car insurance companies, do some investigative work and check out the companies’ reputation and financial standing.

  • First, check with your state’s Department of Insurance website and make sure the company is licensed to sell auto insurance in your state.
    • Also, take a look at complaint ratios, if available.
  • Then, look at the companies’ financial standing on reputable websites such as J.D. Power and A.M. Best.
    • Auto insurance is a two-way street: you pay for the coverage and your company provides the coverage. You need to make sure your company can pay your damages when required.
  • Finally, find out how the companies stand with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
    • The BBB ranks companies from A+ to F, and gives you a multitude of information about those companies, such as the length of time they have been in operation and information about customer complaints (including resolutions).

Compare Car Insurance Quotes

Consider these tips when comparing auto insurance quotes:

  • First and foremost, never look at just one or two car insurance companies; always get and compare at least three quotes.
  • Talk with family members and friends about their car insurance providers.
    • How long have they been with the company?
    • Are they satisfied with their rates?
    • What about customer service? How has the provider handled their premiums in the events of traffic violations, at-fault accidents, and other common premium-increasing situations?
  • Look for auto insurance companies that offer discounts and good-driver rewards programs.
    • Some companies provide breaks for drivers of certain ages or for drivers with anti-theft devices.
    • Others offer rewards (e.g. lower premiums) for drivers with consistently good driving records.
  • Ask about bundling insurance policies.
    • Also known as “multi-line coverage,” some companies provide discounts for purchasing two or more lines of coverage (such as car insurance and homeowner insurance).
  • Check out the companies’ social media accounts.
    • Reach out to your potential insurance companies on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and evaluate how they respond to your questions about issues such as coverage and discounts.

Remember, comparing car insurance quotes is never just about what’s cheapest.

Periodically Evaluate Your Coverage

Getting great car insurance coverage at an affordable rate is fantastic, but don’t get complacent. Many companies decrease premiums for certain life events, such as:

  • Buying a new car. You might get lower rates if you purchase a new vehicle with great safety and anti-theft features.
  • Moving. Living in low-crime areas tends to get you lower premiums.
  • Getting older. Mature drivers (generally those who are 25 and older) often benefit from lower car insurance rates.
  • Getting married. Combining two insurance policies into one can save you money. Married drivers are also viewed as more responsible and often see lower rates.
  • Purchasing a new home. Remember multi-line insurance? You could get a discount if you insure your home with the same company.

Of course, some life events can increase your rates—which means you’ll want to talk with your agent about ways to decrease them or even start comparing quotes from other providers. Such situations include:

  • Moving. Again, moving can affect your car insurance rates, and in this case moving from a low-crime area to one with a higher crime or accident rate might cost you.
  • Filing claims. Each claim you file can increase your rates—especially claims for at-fault accidents. Talk with your agent about ways to decrease rates or avoid rate hikes, or consider shopping for another provider.
  • Traffic violations. Similar to filing claims, the more traffic violations and driving points you accumulate, the higher your premium could become.
  • Adding a teenager to your policy. Often, increased rates when adding a teenager to your policy are unavoidable; however, if you feel the premium has become too high, talk with your agent about ways to decrease it (such as teen driving courses) or start looking at other companies.

Simply put, whenever you experience a life event that might decrease or increase your rates, it’s time to evaluate your coverage and perhaps even start comparing quotes from other providers.

Consider Working with an Agent or Broker

The difference between car insurance agents and car insurance brokers is that, generally, agents work with one company while brokers work with several companies.

So, while an agent can help you get the best coverage and rates from his or her particular company, a broker can shop around and help you find the best coverage and rates from a number of companies. Keep in mind, however, they may charge you a broker fee.

Unless you feel comfortable shopping around on your own or have your heart set on one company, you might want to consider consulting an agent or broker about your car insurance needs.

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What is the Best Car Paint? Get the Facts

What is the Best Car Paint? Get the Facts

The best car paint depends on the car model that you have chosen. There are several different types of car models that are present in the market but the same car paint looks completely different on every car model. Before you choose new car paint, take a look at the best car paint products on the market now.

Are Automotive Paints Unique?

Automotive paints are made of many toxic compounds and they are manufactured specially for coating cars. All types of paint follow a simple method of application where primer is sprayed onto the surface of the car. This prepares the car for the new car paint. The application technique of the paint job, the amount of paint and the depth of color will then decide the eventual shade of the car.

Types of Automotive Paints

There are many types of automotive paints but the major ones are as follows

  • Nitrocellulose paints- these paints are one of oldest varieties of paints. The paint is made up of cellulose and was used on cars since the 50’s.  This paint formulation is particularly good to resist light and pollution and lasts for a long time. Recently, several countries have tightened restrictions on the use of nitrocellulose due to the large amount of organic solvent that evaporates into the air when you use it. You can still find this variety in the market but there are better formulations that you can choose too.
  • Acrylic lacquer is another variant that is really popular. But this paint too requires a thinner to create a really great coat on the car. The finish is smooth and appears glass like. The only requirement is regular buffing to get the paint to shine properly. This paint is still available in the market and is the best variant for beginners to practice with. The paint dries fast and mistakes can be sanded down rapidly too.
  • Acrylic enamel is one of the cheapest paints around and can be easily used by beginners.
  • 2 pack paints are used on all modern cars and are one of the best car paint varieties in the market. They are easy to use and relatively cheap too. The finish lasts long and is extremely damage resistant. The paint is made in two parts where paint and hardener are mixed to create the complete coat. This paint does contain isocyanates though which are considered extremely dangerous to human health.

Can I Mix Two Paint Brands Together?

No you cannot. This is because two different chemical structures of paint are not compatible with each other. Please make sure that you check the original paint on your car and remove it completely before attempting a repaint job.

What Are the Varieties of New Auto Paint that Are in the Market?

The latest shades of auto paint that are popular are pearlescent and metallic. Metallic paints are made by mixing aluminum flakes with the shade of paint that you want. The effect can be controlled by calibrating the amount of flakes that you add to the paint shade. Dozens of shades are available for you to choose from. Pearlescent shades are made of a solid base coat, a pearl flake coat, and a clear top coat. Pearlescent paints can also change when the light hits it causing a color flip when the light hits it. For example, the color Amaranth changes from blue to pink to pink purple depending on the light which strikes it.