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Five Things You Never Knew About Car Washes

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Toyota automatic car wash

There’s nothing better than a shining car and the feeling you get when you drive away from the car wash. In some families, a trip to the car wash is the final treat on a fun day out and it’s for these reasons that automatic car washes have been popular ever since the first one opened in Detroit back in 1914.

Chances are you’ve driven through hundreds, but it’s less likely that you knew these five facts about them.

1. Keep rolling

As soon as your car enters the car wash tunnel, it’s placed on a conveyor belt by a system of rollers that line up the wheels with the belt. Given the amounts of water used in a car wash, it’s amazing that the belts don’t rust, but and similar manufacturers are designed to withstand water and harsh chemicals.

2. Eyes on you

While in the tunnel, the car passes between two infra-red “eyes” on either side. As soon as the light beam is broken, the digital control system (which controls every automated function in the car wash) knows a car is passing through and measures how long the beam is broken for, which determines the length of the car. This means the DCS can change the wash settings to suit the size of the vehicle.

3. Whipped into shape

Everyone knows about the car wash scrubbers – the spinning pillars of cloth strips that clean and polish the car body. These pillars rotate between 100rpm and 500rpm, so even though the cloth is very soft, you really wouldn’t want to get caught up in them as they would feel like hundreds of whips.

The scrubbers have to be cleaned regularly, as they may pick up pieces of grit that could damage the finish on cars.

4. Under pressure

So-called “touchless” car washes don’t use scrubbers; they rely on powerful detergents and highly-pressurised jets of water to remove dirt, grease and debris from car bodies. The nozzles are arranged in pinwheels, which spin rapidly as they squirt water out. This force and the circular motion provide a scrubbing action and the water in some systems comes out at 1,000psi, which is enough to blast a person off their feet.

Touchless systems use a lot of water with each wash – up to 1,500 litres in some cases. This water is held in a pressure tank and almost all systems in the UK and send it back to the tank. Only the final rinse uses completely clean water, to remove all detergent residues from the bodywork.

5. Cleaner car, cleaner world

Most car washes use less water than is used in a home wash. A car owner can use up to 530 litres of water per wash, but a scrubber car wash uses just 170 litres. Of course high-pressure washes use more per wash, but the water is recycled. Additionally, all the detergents used “at home” end up in the ground or in the sewer, whereas car washes have to dispose of spent chemicals in an environmentally-conscious manner.

If you found this article useful, also read our tips on washing your car by hand.

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Follow These 5 Tips Before Heading Out With Your Car In Winter

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Severe weather conditions can be really dreadful for travelers of all walks.

Driving should never be taken lightly. Winter storms and other bad weather conditions in particular can prove difficult for any driver or vehicle, so if you are planning a trip during the winter months, it’s crucial that you check the condition of your car beforehand.

In this article, we look at five important car checks you must make to ensure a safe drive during winter.

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1. Get Your Car Serviced

One of the most important things is to have your car serviced before you heading out with it. Regular servicing and maintenance checks can be very helpful in detecting any sort of issues, and if you’re in the United Kingdom or any other country with a similar requirement, the annual MOT test to assess vehicle safety, exhaust emissions levels and other aspects of roadworthiness will bolster your peace of mind.

Needless to say, from a reliable car service centre should be a mandatory part of your check list.

Car engine coolant

2. Top Up Engine Coolant With Antifreeze

The engine coolant should be a mix of 50/50 water and antifreeze. Antifreeze becomes diluted over time, so you need to top it up every now and then.

People often make the mistake of topping the antifreeze with water, which makes it over diluted and causes it to freeze during very cold weather. This could potentially lead to you engine overheating and, consequently, a huge repair bill. Don’t be that guy or gal!

Car Floor Mats

3. Install Floor Mats Correctly

Driver-side floor mats that are installed improperly could interfere with the operation of a vehicle. The can jam the brake pedal, accelerator or the clutch, possibly leading to an accident.

To minimize or even eliminate this risk, use properly-sized floor mats that fit your vehicle, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation, and make sure they are secured with any applicable retention clips.

4. Check Condition Of The Tyres

Like the steering wheel and brakes, car tyres play a critical role in operating your car safely, so it’s important to ensure that they are in good condition.

Check tyre condition for the right air pressure and tread depth. Compared to the minimum of 1.6mm for any other season, a minimum depth of 3mm is required for sufficient grip during winter. Ideally, you should replace your summer and even all-season tires with winter tyres for superior grip in slushy or icy roads.

5. Keep A Safe Distance

One of the most important driving tips to follow regardless of season but especially during winter is to leave plenty of stopping distances (#StoppingDistance ) between you and the car in front to ensure that there is enough room to stop when the road is slippery and / or the snow and slush start flying onto your windshield.

You must also accelerate and decelerate slowly to avoid spinning your wheels, which requires that you understand your car’s driving characteristics (e.g. is it front wheel drive, rear wheel or a all-wheel drive?). And don’t forget to clean your lights, wash the windscreen and wipers, and check the condition of the battery before beginning your journey.

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5 Car Warning Signs That You Shouldn’t Ignore

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Ignoring these car warning signs could cause you a lot of money and your peace of mind.

We’ve all been there — one day you’re driving along worry-free when suddenly you notice a small problem with your car. Everything else seems to be fine though and you don’t really have the time or money to have the issue addressed, so ignore it, hoping that the problem isn’t big enough to warrant immediate attention.

However, what may seem like a small problem could actually be a large one. If you notice any of the signs mentioned in this article, it’s better to get your car checked out sooner rather than later. Doing so can help prevent further problems and even save you money in the long run.

1. The Check Engine Light is On

One of the most commonly ignored problems is the check engine light. This little light seems to turn on in the instrument cluster even though everything with the car seems to be fine, so we leave it alone and hope that it turns itself back off, which usually doesn’t happen.

If your check engine light is on, it’s imperative that you figure out the cause as soon as possible. You can do it yourself by buying an engine code scanner and then looking up the retrieved code online, or you can take your car to the shop. Many places will read engine codes for free or allow you to borrow a tool to .

Once you figure out why the light is on, you can decide on an appropriate course of action to take to repair the issue and get that light off.

The check engine light could be on for something minor or the first warning sign of a major issue, but you wouldn’t know without looking into it. Don’t put this off once the light turns on.

2. There’s An Odd Smell

Next, if your nose picks up any odd smells from the car, this is typically a sign that something is wrong. The type of odor you detect will help you to pinpoint what exactly is wrong with the car.

For instance, if you smell something sweet, this could mean that you’re leaking antifreeze. If the smell is more like burning rubber, there might be an oil leak.
All leaks are bad, so , have a professional figure out the issue to have it addressed pronto.

3. You Hear A Loud Squeaking

Besides using your nose to detect problems, you can also use your ears. If, while driving along, you hear a loud squeaking sound, this is often an indicator that you have a problem with your brakes.

According to this “Your vehicle’s brake pads may be equipped with a small, thin piece of metal to act as a warning indicator when the pad material is getting low and the brake pads should be replaced. This device makes a high-pitched sound on brake application, letting you know it’s time for brake service.”

The sound may be audible while you’re driving and disappear when you apply the brakes, or vice versa. Either way, you don’t want to drive along past the point where your brakes are no longer working, so get yourself some new brake pads as soon as you can.

4. Black Smoke Coming From The Car

A major sign that there’s an issue with your car is when you see and/or smell smoke. The smoke could come from the exhaust, from under the car, or from inside the hood, but no matter the source, it’s an indication of a major problem.

The best course of action when you smell smoke i.s to stop driving and get the problem taken care of. Not doing so could result in your car catching fire, posing a risk to everyone inside the vehicle and even in close proximity to it.

While the appearance of smoke could result from simply needing an oil change, the problem is usually more severe. The only way to know is to have a mechanic check it out.

5. Difficulty Starting The Car

Finally, if you’re having trouble starting your car, this is often a warning sign that one or more of its components are failing. If it takes your car a few tries to start up, but it eventually does, you may be tempted to ignore the problem and assume it’s just a one time thing. However, there’s a good chance that the next time you turn on the ignition, it won’t turn over.

A car may have difficulty starting for a number of reasons. Maybe the battery is dying or there isn’t enough gas. May a major component like the distributor or starter is failing. Regardless of the cause, trouble starting up is a symptom that should never be ignored. It’s better to get it taken care of right away before your trusted car dies for good.

Don’t Wait for Problems To Get Worse

While it may be an inconvenience now, driving around a car with problems will only make your life more difficult in the long run. Putting aside time for proper car maintenance could save you some money, keep safer on the road, and provide you with peace of mind.

The next time you detect one of the warning signs above, don’t wait — get it taken care of right away. You’ll be happy that you did.

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7 Modern Car Features That Make A Difference

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Is your car up to snuff? You have a lot to consider if you’re planning to upgrade.

Expanding on our earlier piece on 5 Cool New Car Features you probably couldn’t live without, here are seven more that make a difference on the road.

Some of the features improve overall safety, while others enhance ride quality and driving enjoyment. Does your car have any of them?

1. Blindspot Monitoring

A disadvantage of driving bigger cars is that they usually possess glaring blindspots that make them hard to see out of. Thankfully, engineers have mostly remedied this problem with electronic blindspot monitoring systems that can sense when a car or another object is in your blindspot.

We ed our tech consultant at and learned that the Chrysler Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) system, in particular, uses two radarbased sensors located inside the rear bumper to detect vehicles (automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, etc.) that enter the blind spot zones from the rear/front/side of the vehicle.

Like the system offered by most other automakers, BSM system sensors operate when the vehicle is in any forward gear or REVERSE and enters standby mode when the vehicle is in PARK. The detection zone covers approximately one lane on both sides of the vehicle.

2. Brake Vectoring

Brake vectoring is an interesting technology that helps a car maintain its grip on the road. It works by braking the inside of the wheel during turns, simulating a limited-slip differential.

allows for a better distribution of torque, and therefore, more grip. Most of the time, the system works seamlessly, meaning you won’t feel it operating at all. All you experience when driving in slippery conditions are the results.

3. Electronic Limited-Slip Differentials

Mechanical Limited-Slip Differentials (LSD) are a proven technology that works well, but there is room for improvement.

High-performance electric differentials are the future because they are better able to handle different road conditions with appropriate amounts of slippage control. Depending on where you are in a corner, they can lock, unlock, and send power to a designated wheel that needs it most.

4. Dual-Clutch Transmissions

For car jocks, nothing beats the feeling of shifting gears yourself. Problem is that if you get a car with an old-fashioned stick shift, many of your friends and family are not going to be able to drive it. Enter the Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT).

DCTs shifts are like an automatic but seamless and lightning quick. They take most of the hard work and, sadly, fun out of manuals.

5. Magnetic Ride Control

There’s a new type of suspension system on the road and it’s smart. Unlike the suspensions of yesteryear, uses a magnetic fluid that stiffens and softens based on the amount of electricity pulsing through it. Developed by General Motors, it’s incredibly clever and used on a lot of high-end performance cars, even from the likes of Ferrari.

6. Radar Cruise Control

Radar-based adaptive systems function just like regular cruise controls and maintain a car’s speed on the highway. However, they kick things up a notch by utilizing front-mounted lasers that detect the cars in front and adjust the speed accordingly to maintain a safe driving distance.

Go with radar cruise control when given the option.

7. Exterior Cameras

Backup cameras are required on all passenger cars sold in the US starting May 1st, 2018, which means you’ll have at least one camera in your new car whether you like it or not.

Cameras make parking and maneuvering through tight spaces a whole lot easier and safer for everyone. Some models even us intelligent algorithms to allow you to back up trailers like a pro.

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