Sick Cars – Millions May Be on the Road

What is a sick car? I am referring to cars that are lacking normal maintenance and/or may need some type of mechanical work. Routine maintenance of a car consists of things like regular oil change, keeping your brakes in good condition, and enough tread on the tires to be considered safe on the road. Some more serious items of repair would be radiator, belts, or even transmission problems. The longer routine and more serious repairs are delayed, the more likely your sick car will either run poorly or just stop running at all.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June, the number of unemployed persons was 14.6 million; the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent. We also have thousands of people that have given up looking for work, as well as families working in minimum-wage jobs. That being said, we have a lot of folks with a limited amount of money trying to maintain their vehicles.

It should be especially noted that this is a catch 22 situation for the unemployed. Without transportation, it’s difficult to find and keep a job-but without a job it’s difficult to pay for maintenance and repair of a car. If you have a sick car or finances are tight, here are some suggestions that may help:

1. Baby Your Car–This is very important. Run your car either at the speed limit or just below. Don’t slam the brakes on at stops; ease into braking. These two things will slow down the wear on your tires and car. It will buy you time until you can get the needed repairs and maintenance done. Jack rabbit starts burn more gas and use more tread on the tires.

2. Phone Calls–Make phone calls instead of driving whenever you can. An example would be calling beforehand for store hours instead of driving to the store only to find out they are closed. If you conserve mileage, you preserve the life of your car. This actually makes sense even for healthy cars.

3. Car Pool–When going to gatherings or church, you can car pool. Nobody needs to know you are eliminating some of the trips your car makes. Take turns now and then with your friends to drive. If you do have a job, this is still a great idea to cut down on the usage of your car and high gas prices.

4. Do- It-Yourself–Of course, this is not for everyone. If you can do mechanical work, change your own oil and filter. Many specs and repair manuals can be found online for those wanting the challenge. This will save labor costs. Also look for discounted parts, including parts found at junkyards. Don’t forget eBay also has cheap pricing on many auto parts.

5. Ask a Friend–Local mechanics may do small jobs for a minimal amount of money either out of their home garage or tucked away in an unadvertised locale. Sometimes, even retirees enjoy doing this type of work at a very reasonable rate. So, ask your friends for personal recommendations. This worked for me when I moved to a different state.

6. Barter or Exchange Services–If you have some type of talent or services you can trade off for car repair, try it. Perhaps you are good at cleaning. Offer to clean in exchange for car repair. You would be surprised these days what works!

7. Walk or Bike–Yes, don’t always hop in the car when you can easily walk to wherever you are going. Biking to your local store is also an option; attach a small basket to your bike for the groceries. This is a real winner since you also benefit greatly from the increased physical exercise.

8. Public Transportation–Taking the bus is another great way to cut down on the usage of your car. If you live in a big city with a great transportation system, this may be the answer. This is another favorite of mine. I met some of the most memorable and lovable people riding public transportation. I saved a lot of money too.

If you have a sick car and a limited budget, you may be able to implement some of these tips depending on your circumstances or where you live. Whatever you do though, make sure levels are full-such as oil, water, and transmission oil. Levels too low can result in engine shutdown. I know; it happened to me.

Also be aware that your car may become “unsafe” for the road if certain repairs are delayed. However, sometimes without charge, a good mechanic can tell you if your car has reached that stage. Chances are your car will not get to that point. With a little bit of ingenuity and some of these tips, you may be able to return your car back to good health.

Beware of Hurricane Damaged Vehicles!

Nearly a half million cars were destroyed by two of this past season’s biggest hurricanes, Katrina and Rita. Some of these cars may not have received much apparent damage but they were totaled nevertheless because of water, mud, and debris which flooded engine bays and the interior. Damaged cars are supposed to make their way to the junkyard for scrap, unfortunately some unscrupulous parties are gaining a hold of the vehicle titles and turning around and selling damaged cars to the public. Should you be concerned? Absolutely! Read on to learn more about this problem and what you can do to avoid being stuck with a vehicle that is certain to be a lemon.

Let me just say this: it is not illegal for weekend mechanics to buy a salvaged vehicle, repair it, and sell it to you. What they must disclose to you is this: you are buying a salvaged vehicle. This is where most of the problems begin: the dishonest purveyors are not sharing this information.

Only 22 states require that the titles of flood damaged vehicles [which were totaled by insurers] be stamped with that information. So, if you live in any one of the 28 other states, be extremely cautious about buying any used car [check your local laws to see which group you belong to].

One organization is doing its part to help fight the problem. The National Insurance Crime Bureau [NICB] this past summer and fall sent teams to flood damaged areas in affected states to work with local police authorities. What the teams did was try to catalog all of the flood damaged vehicles and enter that information in a database, which is accessible online. Because of their diligence, nearly 200,000 car identification numbers are now available for car buyers to search at http://www.nicb.org

Car shoppers should always invest in obtaining a car history report from an independent company, such as Car Fax, as a back up source to verify information about a vehicle. Although the information supplied by these types of companies isn’t always 100% accurate, it can usually reveal whether a car has been salvaged, rebuilt, is a lemon, or has been flood damaged. Some guarantee their information so check the individual contract/agreement before you use their services to see what recourse you would have in the event a lemon sneaks by them and you purchase one.

So, how can we know for sure that there will be problems? Well, if Hurricane Floyd is a measuring stick then the potential for fraud is huge. In 1999, nearly 80,000 cars were damaged by Floyd and taken off of the roads due to storm damage. About half of that number were repaired and resold, many to unsuspecting consumers.

You don’t have to be a victim, so get informed. If a car is priced well below book value that can be a big clue that a problem exists, however don’t rely on price, instead do some research first before buying your next used car.

How Easy Online Payday Loans Saved My Life!

It may be hard to believe, but easy online payday loans did in fact save my life. I’m sure there are other stories out there similar to mine, but this one is definitely an eye opener — as it shows what can happen when simply “waiting” for your next paycheck.

A few weeks ago, my car broke down and I was left without transportation. This was terrible because I, like most people, rely on my car to get to & from work. I didn’t have any money saved and it turned out that I needed some major work done on the car — it’s the price I pay for not paying enough attention to my automobile.

I had but 2 options to choose from: hitch a ride from a friend & co-worker whom lived in the opposite direction of my job & home, OR borrow the money from somewhere and take care of the repairs immediately. Like most would do, I simply decided to wait until my next payday to take care of the repairs and have my friend cart me from & to work.

When he pulled up the first day, I was already feeling guilty, especially considering that he was going WAY out of his usual routine just to pick me up. That guilt only increased when he told me he was up an hour earlier than usual in order to pick me up. Suffice it to say, I was feeling pretty bad and decided that this wasn’t going to work out for an entire week.

That following afternoon, after I got off work, I started looking into payday cash advances and short term fast cash loans. It turned out that I could apply and have the money I needed within just a few hours. Like most, I was a bit skeptical and decided not to be “suckered” into this likely scam too quickly. Rather than just believe what I read, I did a bit of research and found out that these same day cash advances weren’t scams at all and they actually help a lot of people all over the world.

In all honesty, I was blown away at how virtually anyone could apply for one of these loans within minutes — all they needed to have was a valid social security number, a checking account, and a job.

After discovering this, I started my search for a payday lender and found one in less than 10 minutes. I applied online for a loan of $500 and was approved in under an hour! I was then told that the money would be deposited into my checking account within a few hours and I would be able to use it that same day, if not the next morning. With this news, I called up a local car repair service and had them tow the car down to their shop and repair it. A few hours later, the car was completely repaired and I was handed a bill for $446.84 — which was just shy of my $500 loan. I wrote them a posted-dated check for the following day, thanked them for the repairs, and then I DROVE my car home.

How did this loan save my life? Well, you’re about to find out…..

Just 2 days later, my friend — the one that was driving me to & from work — was killed in a horrendous, freak car accident. What happened was a huge semi truck plowed into the PASSENGER side of his compact car and he was killed instantly. Had my vehicle not been repaired, I would have been in the car with him at the time of the accident. Hence, I would NOT be telling you this story right now.

Used Radiator Vs New Aftermarket Radiator

If your radiator has more holes than a slab of Swiss cheese and left you high and dry, then it’s time for a replacement. If you’re on a tight budget you might be considering a used radiator or an aftermarket radiator, but which is a better choice?

Obviously buying used can have a huge cost benefit. Unless you have a rare or high-end luxury or sports car, a salvage yard special will be between $25 and $50. Not bad compared to the cost of a new cooling system from your local dealer.

The problem with buying used is that you have no idea what condition the unit is in. Appearance is not a good indicator and you have no way to do a pressure test. So, what do you do?

If you must buy used, be sure to do a thorough visual inspection. That means you need to look inside and out. Inspect for internal corrosion and damage to the cooling fins and hose connections.

To get a good look inside you will need a flashlight, so be sure to take one to the salvage yard with you. Look for excessive scaling and corrosion. If it does not look clean, then it was not well maintained.

Check the joins, too. Look where the cooling coil connects with the tanks. If you find an accumulation of sediment or mineral deposits from external corrosion, this is a pretty good indicator of poor condition.

Look for repairs. If you see big blobs of “cold weld” cement like J-B WELD, the unit has been patched and should be avoided.

If it’s an aluminum system check for corrosion and epoxy around the tank joins. Aluminum radiators need special coolant. If it’s not used they will corrode rapidly and begin springing pin leaks. Also, a common failure with aluminum cores is separation from the plastic tank. The common repair is epoxy cement. Stay clear if you see these obvious repairs.

Before you scour the salvage yards, consider aftermarket. For just a little more money you can get a high quality, aftermarket replacement unit with a warranty. The average price for an aftermarket radiator in 2011 is $120 shipped.

Most aftermarket components are exact, original equipment (OE) specification. In many cases, the manufactures provide the parts to the car manufacturer. In other cases, the components are “multi-fit,” which means it is the correct capacity and size for your vehicle, but it will have mounting hardware or attachment points for a range of fitments.

CSF, Inc. is one of the world’s largest manufactures and specializes in multi-fit radiators. According to CSF, they provide the overall best value. All of their products meet or exceed original equipment engineering specifications. Their manufacturing plants meet ISO 9000 standards and provide parts to OE manufacturers. They make over 1,000 different models that fit 2,001 vehicle fitment applications. If that wasn’t enough, they offer an industry leading warranty. Simply put, you cannot buy a used radiator with the same quality or assurance of performance.

If used is your only choice, be sure to inspect thoroughly. For complete confidence, invest in a quality aftermarket radiator.

Anyone Can Clean Their Car, But What About Those Cloudy, Yellow Headlights?

It is a very common occurrence. We see then every day. Its like a disease – yellow, cloudy headlight lenses in drastic need of repair. I even saw them on cars at the local carwash. It befuddled me that these people would take such great care – washing, vacuuming the interior, removing the floor mats and even hand drying their cars, but they still had those yellowed, cloudy headlights. Its not just a problem on old, very used cars. It is prevalent on 2 – 3 year old cars also. It doesn’t matter if it is a Dodge, Ford, Mercedes, or a Porsche.

When questioned, most said they couldn’t afford, or didn’t want to pay the high prices of replacements from their local auto dealer. The average price for a pair of replacement plastic headlights at local auto dealerships was around $450 – that didn’t even include installation and alignment (that would be another $60-120). After market headlights do exist, but have received mixed reviews, and the savings aren’t that great, quality and fit is lagging, and then you still had to have them installed and aligned. And for what so you can do it again in another year or two?

There is another solution, there are headlight repair, cleaner and restorer kits available for under $30 (look up headlight cleaner and/or headlight restorer on Google), much less expensive than replacement lenses, and they work!

Plastic headlight lenses are the norm in the automotive industry now – every car has them. Some have fancy names like plexan and Lexan, but they all have the same problems. The sun, acid rain, harsh weather conditions, chemicals (brake fluid, power steering fluid, hot radiator fluids, hot water, harsh cleaners, etc…) will all cause the plastic lenses to degrade and weaken quickly. Some manufacturers have gone to including a protective film on the lenses. Regardless, they are all susceptible to this weakening and yellowing over time.

With these headlight repair, cleaner and restorer kits even junk yard car lenses have been repaired and restored to brand new (as evidenced on some websites). These same lenses used to be discarded and now have become new profit centers for salvage yards. The treatments are similarly applied to the exterior of the headlight lens where the damage is worst and it doesn’t take a mechanic to repair it.

These kits can easily be found under headlight cleaner and headlight restorer on Google. So now you know there is a very economic solution to the problem of yellow, cloudy, worn headlights – repair, clean and restore them to new again. There’s no excuse now to not have sparkling clean headlights. Car dealerships have been using these headlight repair, cleaner and restorer on their cars and you can too.

Auto Repair Services in Okinawa, Japan: Mechanics That Speak English

I recently visited Okinawa, Japan and found the people there are very friendly and kind. One problem, however, is that most of them do not speak English. On my first morning there, I spent the entire time looking for a person who could tell me in English where I could find a bank. I needed to exchange my US dollars for Japanese yen.

In the neighborhood where I was staying I visited a grocery store, walked the streets, and finally found a small police station outside Kadena Air Base. They did not understand English, but they had a map. I said I was looking for a bank and they said "ginkou." I thought they said "banko." So I said "yes, yes!" They did direct me to a bank thankfully.

Now if it is that hard to discuss the location of a bank, imagine how difficult it is for a US serviceman or woman to talk to an automotive mechanic about repairing their vehicle. Fortunately, I know of 2 American mechanics that are retired military who live and work in Okinawa near the Kadena Air Base. I saw firsthand the relief on the faces of customers who came in to drop off or pick up their cars.

Bill Siekert is the owner and head mechanic at B&M Okinawa. Bill explained that some of the automotive services provided on bases nearby are priced a little high because they are run under contract and frankly, they have a bit of a monopoly.

In Okinawa, some auto parts can be a difficult to find. Bill grinned as he said, "One way we have been able to help our customers is to go to the local junk yards in the area and find the parts we need." It pays to have local connections. Bill speaks Japanese and has connections with local auto body specialists. Bill can arrange for any kind of automotive work that needs to be done.

If you are stationed in Okinawa, Japan you can contact Bill Siekert about his auto repair services or you can use this map with directions to his automotive repair shop .

3 Tips On Getting Phenomenal Survival Bartering Power

Have you ever thought about the items you'll use in a survival barter situation? I've always thought that it required stacks of dollar bills packed away in my bug out bag. But something changed my mind.

Today I took my car into the local car repair shop. Paying $ 300 wasn't my favorite thing to do, but the car works now. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate Wayne a lot. If he was not nearby, then the job would surely be more expensive. But the entire experience made me think.

A disaster scenario came to mind. So, what do you think would happen if disaster struck and Wayne had to evacuate? For a minute, I thought that Wayne would be in big trouble having to leave his shop. Tools, lifts, oil, tires, everything. He would leave behind all of the stuff he'd invested in just to save himself and his family. We'd be so happy that we weren't the ones leaving the shop behind. But there's some irony to this situation. He's not in as bad a shape as you think. You see, his skills are evergreen.

# 1 Evergreen Skills

Evergreen skills are skills useable anywhere and anytime. They don't go out of style. They are commonly needed. And they will always be needed. In essence, they are 'ever' + 'green'. So how does this relate to Wayne? He's a car mechanic. Everyone owns a car. So if he leaves his shop and everything behind, he can still setup shop somewhere else. How does this relate to you? You want evergreen skills. These put you in a good position for survival bartering. But that's just one way to improve your bargaining power.

# 2 Skills Are Tradeable

In disasters you trade. But with what? You could trade old furniture. You could buy bread with those old toys your kids don't need anymore? But there's a problem with that idea. How are you going to carry boxes of toys around as currency? That makes no sense. What does make sense is to trade with skills. So instead of carrying around boxes of stuff, you carry around your skill set. Which leaves a lot of room in your bug out bag to pack other stuff. So let's cover the third thing that will give you bargaining power in survival bartering.

# 3 Skills Don't Diminish With Use

This is the big one. Let me give you an example. If you have 1 radio, and you trade it for 1 pounds of food. You now have your food. But you have no more radio. You are out. The food you will eat, and so you've eaten the value you bought. You've eaten your currency in essence. On the other hand, when you trade with a survival bartering skill, you still have that skill. After you've traded, you still have the same skills that you had before the trade.

So with my friend Wayne, if he needs food, he can fix a tire, and get 3 loaves of bread for his time. And still has just as much skill in his back pocket as he did when he started. Unfortunately, most people don't think like that. They are concerned more about things than skills.

Summary

So to summarize, to be in the best position for bartering, you'll want the best system. And to have the best system in the world for bartering, you'll want to have the best skills. And to have the best skills, you want skills that are evergreen, tradeable and that don't diminish with use.

So let's do this. Lets come up with a way to get you onto the right road to barter in a disaster. Why don't you do this. Make a list of your skills that could serve as your survival barter items. Try to come up with 10 skills that you have. Next to each one, put a rating on its value. Try scoring it from 1 to 10. So let's say 1 is low and 10 will be the highest and most valuable.

Ask yourself what others might need, and if you could see that event happening in a disaster. If you do, then that might be a 10. Do you know radio communications? How about car fixing? Are you a computer guru? Are you a good cook? What's your fire making ability like? Can you throw up a shelter real fast? Come up with your own Survival Barter List and see how much bartering power you really do have.