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Putt-Putt, the Posse, & Me

The year was 1990. I was a very young mother highly frustrated with the enormity of it all. I had just recently started driving and after a particularly harrowing day with my infant sons and my idiot husband, I snatched up the car keys and went for a joyride through rural Georgia . I got more than just a little bit nervous whenever I would see a car coming from the other direction, so I was very lucky not to run into much traffic as I carelessly drove through several adjoining counties.

It was very late at night, or early in the morning depending on how you looked at it, and my eyes began to get heavy with sleep. Before I knew it, I had run over something. I immediately slammed on the breaks and got out to take a look.

All I could find were the remnants of a large branch, but I convinced myself that I had hit an animal and the poor wounded thing crawled off somewhere to die alone. So frightened was I by the ordeal that I shakily made my way back home and didn’t get behind the wheel again for eleven years!

Flash forward to 2001. I was divorced and now had two daughters as well as my two sons to care for. I was also a non-traditional college senior majoring in social work, about to begin my field placement.

Only two things stood in the way of me graduating and securing a job in the field that I loved: number one was I had no vehicle. Number two was that I was afraid to drive. I had never gotten over what I perceived to have happened all those years ago, but I couldn’t let a little thing like fear keep me from realizing my dream.

Right before I was set to start my placement at the local hospital, I found a cheap and dependable car. It was a red 1984 Chevy Chevette, which I nicknamed “Putt-Putt,” because I still was not a strong driver, but I did manage to “putt putt” all around town.

The fact that my car was old and unsightly was not lost on me. I was more than happy to be driving as opposed to walking, but whenever my class would meet to discuss how our placements were going, I would park off campus and walk to the social work building so no one could see what I was riding in.

One day, it began to rain heavily. I drove “The T-4 Posse” (a nickname for my kids) to school and headed to work. It rained heavily and steadily all day and by the time I got off work and school got out, a tornado had been spotted in town.

Because we lived in a small trailer and had nowhere else to go, my children and I were not safe. The closest family we had was 40 miles away. I didn’t believe there was any way that we would make it in Putt-Putt, but I had to take a chance. The well-being of my family depended on it. So, I bundled up The Posse and we headed for the highway.

As we headed away from town, the sky was almost pitch black behind us and rain water began to seep into a hole in the floorboard and pool around my feet. The windshield wipers all but blew off and at times the little red car hydroplaned as if it would leave the road completely, but by the Grace of God, we made it to safety.

So while my car was nothing pretty to look at, it was a real trooper and worthy of being parked on campus every day after that until I graduated. I eventually traded my car for something more fashionable, but it didn’t take long for me to regret that decision. When the chips were down, Putt-Putt really came through for The Posse and me, and I will never forget it.

High Quality Stereo Systems For Cars

There are many different kinds of stereo systems that are available for cars. Since high quality stereo systems are becoming more popular for cars, many manufacturers have started putting these kinds of stereo systems inside of cars straight from the factory. Some people also choose to add on components to increase the quality of stereo systems.

With so many stereo systems to choose from, it can be difficult to select the ones that are best for the type of cars that you wish to install in. More than likely if you are looking for the after market kinds of stereo systems, you are looking for one that is of high quality. The higher the quality of the stereo systems, the better sound it will have when music is played inside.

Cars that have high quality stereo systems will always provide the ability to adjust the amount of treble and bass that the radio will play. Some cars come equipped with stereo systems and have a fully customizable equalizer allowing the listener to totally customize the sound that they hear from their radio.

These kinds of stereo systems are of higher quality because the sound can be adjusted based on the genre of music that is played. Different genres of music sound better with variations on the highs and lows that are played. Cars with stereo systems that allow the listener to totally customize their sound are of higher quality.

In the past, cars did not come equipped with stereo systems with amplifiers. The amplifier is a part of a stereo system that basically amplifies the sound that is played in the stereo. The sound that is produced by stereo systems that have amplifiers is vastly better than stereo systems in cars that do not have an amplifier. Even if your car did not come standard with an amplifier, you can purchase one from an electronics store for a reasonable price.

The speakers are perhaps the most important component of stereo systems. Usually there are two kinds of speakers in cars that produce a high quality sound. These are tweeters and subwoofers. The tweeters are usually placed in the front of the car on the door panel or the dashboard.

These small speakers play the high sounds in the music allowing you to hear even the slight ching of a symbol or the background flutes in a song. Subwoofers in stereo systems are responsible for playing the bass and other low tones in songs. These are usually place in the trunk of the vehicle. Some cars come with stereo systems that have separate controls for the subwoofer.

Whether you are purchasing a new vehicle or adding components to your existing vehicle, try to listen to the stereo system to decide if it is the one that you would like. Bring along your own CD’s in order to get a more realistic idea of what the stereo systems sound like in the car.

Some Parallel Parking Techniques

Parallel parking is probably the toughest way to park a car. You’d have to skillfully and accurately guide your car into that parallel space between 2 other cars. In my experience, if you ask drivers what type of parking they are having the most difficulty with, most would probably say parallel parking. I agree that it isn’t easy compared to parking forward or backwards. Here are the things that I usually do to accurately park my car into a parallel parking space.

You should estimate the actual parking space first. If it’s just enough for the exact length of your vehicle, I suggest you do not take it and look for another parking space. Ideally, there should be at least a distance of 2 feet between you and the car in front and behind you (4 feet total) so that it would be easy to get in and out. That’s in my opinion and experience.

A good trick in parallel parking is to use the vehicle in front of the parking space as your starting point and guide. Stay beside the car in front of you and make sure your rear bumpers are parallel to each other. 1 ½ feet away from the car would be fine. The farther you are to the vehicle beside you, the harder it seems to get into the space unless the parking space is really wide and open. Now, straighten your wheels and reverse slowly.

Now, stop when your side mirror is beside the adjacent vehicle’s rear bumper. Turn the wheels into the parking space first then reverse. This is if your engine is in front of the car. Or better yet, if your car is already three-fourths behind, that’s when you turn your wheels in. Just make sure that you are at a full stop before turning the wheels.

Once fully turned, reverse again and when your car’s rear is around 6 inches away from the gutter or the wall, you may begin turning the wheels around to the other direction. Just be careful so that you don’t hit the rear bumper of the car in front of you while turning.

Once you’re clear of the rear bumper of the car in front of you, fully turn into the space making sure that you don’t hit the car behind you. Again, 2 feet in front and behind you is ideal and more than enough for you to get out afterwards. This will be beneficial to you and the other two cars.

Now what should you do if you’re still jutting out of the parking space? Don’t worry though since this scenario is really common and it happens. Just move forward a few inches near the car in front of you then turn the wheels into the space while your vehicle is at a complete stop. Reverse after turning the wheel.

Now, before turning the steering wheel the other way around, make sure you stay closer to the gutter or the wall. As soon as you’re not jutting out anymore, give enough distance in front and behind you. It’s perfectly fine if you jut out a little especially if you don’t have enough room to maneuver.

As you have seen, I always reiterate turning your wheels while at a complete stop. This will make sure that your vehicle is already in the right direction before you reverse. If you turn while reversing, you’ll probably run out of room and move forward and try again.

Most parallel parking spaces have enough room for vehicles and have guide lines to help you park properly. The problem is that sometimes, you may run into a space wherein the car in front of you or behind you is really big or did not park properly and went over the line or something similar. If you have doubts, don’t park at all. Don’t try to squeeze if it it’s really not possible.

Why The Market Of Small Car Is On Such A Rise

The small compact car market in North America is flourishing for quite some time. People in Europe always have preferred the small compact cars as they realize the merits of these cars. SUVs are very popular in North America for more than a decade, and you find them parked in every parking place.

Now the trend has changed recently with the increasing fuel prices. There is lot of uncertainty about gas prices in the future. This has led the people to go for small compact cars. The small compact cars are more fuel efficient. There is a lot of bustle in this sector.

Many car manufacturers are jumping in order to make use of this opportunity. For instance, Hyundai has launched its new version of Accent. Toyota has brought in Yaris, while Kia and Honda have introduced Rio and Fit respectively. Nissan is bringing its Versa. Apart from it, you cannot ignore the xA and xB by Scion.

Introducing a new car in the subcompact section is a sensible decision for many reasons. It attracts new young people in the market as buyers to purchase these small compact cars. If they like the vehicle and are satisfied by this car, they will get attached to this brand.

As they become older and grow in their profession, they will like to purchase the higher models in the brand. All the big makes like Honda, Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Nissan, Mazda, Volkswagen and so many other manufacturers have entered this sector of small compact cars.

Moreover, during the economic recession, small compact cars provide a relief and safety against the downtrends, to the owners. The unforeseen escalation in the fuel prices will not have much impact on them, as these small compact cars are far more fuel efficient and economical to keep. For instance, the Honda will give an average of 33 mpg in city and 38 mpg on a highway.

It is to be noted that in order to reduce the price, the small compact cars offered in the market have a couple of things compromised. These cars are not meant only for one time use. Besides their fuel efficiency, these small compact cars provide an effective and reliable performance over the long run.

The Yaris from Toyota develops 106 bhp, which may not appear enough. The car weighs only 2315 lbs. The ratio of weight vs. bhp works out over 220. This car is capable of carrying anything. If you fold the back seat, Honda has a capacity of 21.3 cft while at the same time Fod Crown Victoria has a capacity to carry 20.6 cft of cargo in its back.

The US manufacturers have not yet come forward with the investment in this sector on small compact cars. For instance, Chevrolet Aveo is typically a remake of Deadwoo and has nothing exciting to provide at par with the improvements which other makes are offering.

Ford Focus is larger and expensive also. It is also true with Dodge Caliber. It is expected that with the present economic trends and the uncertain fuel prices likely to soar high, the brands like GM, DaimlerChrysler will definitely enter this competitive segment of the small compact car market and attract new customers towards their brands.

The small compact cars have helped many car makers to flourish on their business. They have been successful in developing their brand loyalty in the customers. Some people are now coming forward in Detroit to do it.

Is Rebuilding Classic Cars Falling By The Wayside

Classic Car rebuilding is indeed falling by the wayside, assuming by classic car your considering cars from about the early 1970’s and going back as classic cars. Usually a car that is 25 years old would be eligible for collector plates.

Lets face facts, 1982 didn’t produce any American made cars that could be called collectible classics. Of course this is a generalization and there may be one or two that would be considered possibly collectible. But for the most part, the past 25 years has left us with a bunch of cars that all look the same and are less them spectacular in performance or appearance.

Availability of good old muscle cars from the 60’s or 70’s is a factor in lose of interest. What few can be found are usually so badly dissolved from rust that it becomes very costly, or even impractical to try to bring them back.

The average high school kid of today doesn’t’t have the financial means to attempt this level of project. Realistically if a kid is going to get interested in classic cars it will be while he’s in high school, and now he is priced right out of that market.

Tuners, Honda Civics and similar cars are what the young mechanically incline person is going for today. Restoring classic muscle cars has become a past time of the aging Baby Boomer trying to recapture his youth. They’re the ones with the resources to attempt such a project.

Of course they want that 69′ Camaro they had way back when. That’s why if you have enough money, you can buy every part to build a complete 1969 Camaro. Just like what came off the assembly line, only no rust and complete with up to date reliable running gear, disk brakes, etc. etc.

Today’s cars will never become classics. Plastic cars that all look the same just don’t warrant the attention. There is no style, nothing to make one stand out from another. They just don’t catch your eye.

If you go back to 1970, every teenage male could correctly identify every American brand, model and year of car seen on the road ranging from 1950 to current year. Without fail, we knew them all.

Today’s teenager can tell you the characters on the current video game, if your lucky. A car is just transportation to them. To us Baby Boomers a car was our life.

How To Change Your Car’s Thermostat

One of the smallest and most needed parts of your car’s cooling system is the thermostat. Most car thermostats can be hidden in a man’s closed fist. If this small part fails in its closed setting, you will be stranded somewhere along the side of the road with steam flowing from your engine. If it fails in the open position, your car will never get warm in the winter.

Either way, it is best to just replace that thermostat every couple of years when you replace the upper radiator hose on you car.
For specific details about your car, you may need to consult your maintenance manual. For most cars, the thermostat is easy to locate.

Sometimes, it can be a little tough to get out of the engine because of hoses and other things that may be installed on your car. These things can shield easy access to the thermostat until you remove them. The way to find the thermostat on nearly all cars is to follow the upper radiator hose from the radiator to where it attaches to the engine.

Usually, the piece that sticks up to anchor the hose is part of the housing that covers the car’s thermostat. You need to inspect this housing carefully and determine where all of the bolts that hold it place are located. Most thermostat housings are held in place with two bolts. Some may have 3 or 4. If you can easily access all of the bolts, there is no reason to remove anythng else.

Purchase the thermostat at the autoparts store ahead of time. A gasket should come with the thermostat. If it does not, you will want to purchase one of these, two. Some people like to use adhesive to bond the gasket in place, but it usually is not necessary.

Having located the thermostat and secured a clear access to the housing and bolts, it is time to start removing the old thermostat. Remove the bolts from the engine. Take care not to lose the bolts. Also, as you remove them, make sure that you note if there are any differences from one bolt to the next. They are almost all just alike, but one in a while, you will find some are longer or shorter than the others.

After the bolts are removed, grip the housing and work it loose. Some coolant will spill when you raise this housing away from the engine. This is normal, and there is really no good way to capture it. Make sure to hose it off of hard surfaces when you finish the job. This antifreeze is deadly to pets and wildlife.

You should now be able to see the top of the thermostat. It will usually be brass or bronze in color. Pull the old thermostat from the engine. It will usually not look like its bad, but do not be fooled. Throw this away. Using a scraper, remove any left over gasket pieces from the housing and the engine. This needs to be bare metal for the new gasket to seal.

Drop the new thermostat into place. Lay the gasket over the rim of the seat for the thermostat. The holes on the gasket should line up with the holes on the motor. If they do not, you either have the gasket on the wrong way or have the wrong gasket. Put the housing back in place and replace the bolts.

Tighten the bolts down until they are very snug. Do not try to prove your strength because they can be twisted off. Once everything is in place and tight, it is time to replace any lost coolant and start the car. Leave the hood up so you can check for leaks. Let it run until it reaches operating temperature. If you do not see any leaks and your car seems to be running alright, you should be finished. All that is left is to clean up and put away the tools.

Chrysler Recalls Close To 500,000 Vehicles

Nearly 500,000 vehicles were recalled Friday by Chrysler, citing dozens of reports of fires in the Dodge Durano and Jeep Liberty. There have been sixty-six reported fires so far, all coming from the Dodge Durango, model years 2004-2006.

In addition to the 328,424 Durangos affected by the recall, an additional 149,605 Jeep Liberty SUV’s were recalled. These vehicles, from 2006-2007, were called back to the factory in order to fix the heating/cooling/ventilation blower motor. There had been reports of this catching fire as well.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had initiated investigations into the problems with both Chrysler-made sport utility vehicles last year. In at least two cases, Liberty drivers suffered minor burns resulting from fires caused by the blower motor in the SUV’s air-conditioning system.

And nearly 11,000 Dodge Avengers from the upcoming 2008 model year were pulled back as well, due to front door latches on both the driver and passenger side. This was purely mechanical, as according to Chrysler, no accidents or injuries have yet been reported due to the faulty latches.

According to Max Gates, a spokesman for Chrysler, if drivers notice issues with the Durango’s interior lights, they should immediately take the car back to the dealer to have it inspected. This is a sign that a circuit in the instrument panel has overloaded and overheated.

“Obviously we would prefer not to do this, but we feel this is an important part of our business,” Gates said. “So we do this when we have to.

Owners of the Jeep Liberty should take caution if they smell overheated plastic. In this case, owners are cautioned to keep their blower at less than full power until it is serviced.

Durango owners will be officially notified of the recall in April, and Liberty owners will get their information in May. The Avenger recall is just underway, and owners will be notified when replacement parts become available.

This recall is the second such move by Chrysler in the past two weeks. Nearly 51,000 vehicles were called back to the factory in late February, in order to reprogram the vehicle’s anti-lock brake software. But Gates cautioned potential buyers to look at more than a two-week chunk of time in order to form an opinion about the company. “I think it’s important not to read too much into the short term,” he said.

Chrysler, which is facing a possible sale by Daimler, the German ownership group, has fallen to the fourth most popular U.S. car manufacturer. After sales plummeted in 2006, a year in which the company lost nearly $1.5 billion, Chrysler laid of 13,000 workers in an attempt to make a profit by 2008.

Women: I Bet You Know More About Cars Than You Think You Do

Do you Listen when people talk even when they are not talking to you? Do you pay attention at work and pick up little bits of knowledge that could help you in the future? I bet you do and don’t even realize it. Your head is probably filled with information that you think is useless, but you never know someday that information may come in handy and you could even surprise yourself with what you know.

My husband is a mechanic and has been since the day I met him. I have also worked in close proximity with the automotive world myself. I have learned many things over the years that many women do not know or care to know. I was never taught these things but learned them by just listening when the mechanics (and my husband) would talk with customers or their friends about cars.

What never ceases to amaze me though is that I know more than many men that I have come in contact with. I always thought all men had oil coursing through their veins. I grew up thinking that was just the way things were, that all men would eat, sleep, and drink thinking about cars.

My first real epiphany happened when I was working as a cashier at a local service station. A man came in and told me he needed to get his cars alignment checked because he had a vibration in the front end. I asked if he had just gotten new tires. Yes, he replies. Did the vibration start as soon as you got the new tires put on? Again, he said yes.

Well I would recommend that you go back to the garage that put your tires on. Have them check your tires because they were probably balanced incorrectly or you got a bad tire. He kind of looked at me as if I was a crazed lunatic and said Ok, thanks. Then he left.

A few days later, he returned. He thanked me for my suggestion and said that the tires were not balanced properly. He said that the garage where he had gotten the tires rebalanced the for free and that I had just saved him $70. Now my boss may not have been happy with my car knowledge at that point, but I had made the customers day.

Another garage I was working at did state inspections. As part of the inspection, you had to verify that all of the emission components were still attached to the vehicle. I had to show the mechanics what the emission components were and where they were located at on the vehicles.

At this same garage, I was talking to one of the mechanics and saw a Chevy Tahoe being towed around the building. I just caught a glimpse of the taillight as it passed by a small back window of the garage. I said to the mechanic Here comes customer XYZ’s Tahoe.

What is it here for? He looked at me as if I had three heads and says how did you know that was customer XYZ’s Tahoe all I saw was a blur? I looked at him and said because I saw the taillight as it came around the back of the building. He just walked away shaking his head.

Now I am not claiming that I know more about cars than all men not even most men. I am just stating my realization that not all men, even mechanics, know as much about cars as us women think they do. Or even as much as they would like us to think that they know. Take time to think about the things you know, it could surprise you and open you up to a whole new world with your wealth of information.

History Of Milwaukee Transportation

The Milwaukee Road announces that it received and placed in service the first of a fleet of 500 new wide door box cars suitable both for the loading of bulk commodities such as grain and the mechanized loading of packaged lumber, palletized loads, and many other types of freight. Built at a cost of $13,000 each, or $6,5000,000 for the entire fleet, the new cars feature doors opening to a total width of 15 feet two inches, an interior length o 50 feet, a load capacity of 7 tons, and were equipped with roller bearings.

W.W. Kremer, Milwaukee Road traffic vice president, stated that he expected all of the new cars to be available to shippers next month bringing the line’s total ownership of cars of this highly versatile type to 1500.

Altogether, the Milwaukee Road was acquiring 750 new freight cars of various types in I960 at a total cost of $9,700,000 Received earlier and now in service were 100 new covered hopper cars and 100 general purpose flat cars of 60-foot length.

Later that year it will take delivery of 50 “damage free” freight cars equipped with special loading devices and cushioned under frames of a type designed to further reduce longitudinal shocks in switching and tram operation “D F ” cars of this type cost $15000 each. The wide door cars being made available to shippers were also known as plug door cars, as they were equipped with both a conventional sliding door and a plug door similar to those on refrigerator cars.

When in closed position, the inside face of the plug door becomes part of the side lining of the car The sliding main door, when opened, provides a clear door opening of 8 feet. Using both the door and the plug door, the opening expands to a full 15 feet 2 inches, thus permitting rapid loading or unloading of the car trucks, by means of conveyor belt, or other mechanical devices now in general use.

The cars have nailable steel flooring which is both Irani-tight and strong enough to carry heavy pallet loads. The cars also are equipped with a steel lining extending three feet up from the floor with conventional three-quarter inch plywood lining above. These fleet of box cars helped transport many Milwaukee residents to and from work. Many Milwaukee citizens enjoyed the new box cars as it really helped them in their daily lives.

Avoid Purchasing Water-Damaged Cars

Buying a car can be a major headache, frustrating, and time-consuming. It is a major purchase for many people and along with a nice sized price tag comes a monthly payment, insurance, and eventually car repairs. However if you find that you have purchased a water damaged car, your repairs may end up costing more than what you paid for the car since water damaged cars are sold as used cars.

It has been reported that many cars from the hurricane Katrina ravaged areas are making their way to other cities and being sold to unsuspecting consumers. What is so bad about water damaged cars? Many people don’t know that high water not only prevents your car from driving causing your car to float, but high water damages major parts of your car. Water can and does damage the engine, the electrical system, and the interior if water sits in a car for longer than two days.

If a car becomes flooded, the owner collects the insurance and the car is hauled off to a salvage auction where separate working parts are sold. Since many water-damaged cars can be driven for a short amount of time, many of these cars are resold on the used car market. Every year thousands of water-damaged cars are sold to unsuspecting buyers.

Scammers purchase these water-damaged cars, clean them up, and sell them either privately or publicly without disclosing the problem to the consumer. Most of the cars are sold out of state because it’s easier to register them and get a title without disclosing water damage to the car.

The unsuspecting consumer buys the out of state water damaged car, which looks perfectly fine, yet under the hood and inside the interior tells another story. Eventually parts that were damaged will suddenly start appearing. Problems arise such as wet or cracked wires and rust on the engine or on the body of the car. Also, brakes, door locks and windows, heating, and air-conditioning stop working.

Although it would seem that selling a water-damaged car is illegal, it isn’t. What is illegal is concealing the extent and nature of the problems from the water damage. To avoid getting scammed make sure you do a thorough check on any used car. Start with checking the vehicle identification number or VIN with online services such as carfax.

You can also examine engine cracks, the glove compartment, the spare tire, and beneath the seats for water lines or signs of mud deposit or rust. Check the dashboard for accuracy and condensation. Check electrical parts, like wipers, lights, turn signals, the heater, air conditioner, and the radio. Make sure the engine wires bend easily and are not cracked, wet, or dry.

Be suspicious about new carpeting, which can be used to replace soiled carpet. To save yourself headaches, if a car has been water damaged your best bet is to not purchase the vehicle. Another red flag letting you know a car has been damaged by water is the cost; a 2006 Lexus should cost way more than $20,000.

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