Car won’t start after sitting for a while? Here are some tips.

Hopefully you’ve stayed safe during this time of crisis. If your car hasn’t been started or has been driven very little, here are some tips to get it back on the road.

  1. Charge the battery slowly. Even if a battery is completely dead, it can often come back to life if you charge it very slowly (around 2 amps for 24 hours). 
  2. Check the fluids if you know how. Small leaks become big problems when left for a month or more without driving.
  3. Once you do get it started, make sure the engine gets up to operating temperature on the temperature gauge. This allows all of the parts to get proper lubrication and allows water vapor to burn off (preventing rust).
  4. Drive it around the block at minimum. This helps for a number of reasons: prevents tire flat spots, transmission and axle lubrication, etc.

Helpful links: 

  • Need a battery charger? Here is a good one: Amazon Basics battery charger
  • Need a battery? Get one at Wal-mart. They inexpensive and surprisingly good.
  • Need something else fixed? Give us a shout! Get a quote

We’re here to help you get back on the road. Let us know if we can do anything for you.

We’re now in Ft. Worth!

Hi all,

Quick update! We’ve now added Ft. Worth to our list of cities. Here’s our current list:

  • Austin, TX
  • Houston, TX
  • Dallas, TX
  • Fort Worth, TX

San Antonio is coming soon!

Why You Should Change your Oil every 9,000 miles

There’s a lot of religion and dogma about motor oils – both on the street and on the track. We thought we would apply some science to it. We’ll explain why it’s okay to change your oil every 9,000 miles with some oils and every 5,000 with others. The differences will surprise you.

When you pull apart an engine that’s had super cheap oil changes at the manufacturer’s recommended interval (normally 6,000 miles or more), you can instantly tell. Some engines will have clumps that feel like canned mushrooms in your oil (gross!). In spots, it will burn and deposit a thick coating on parts (think about the bottom of a pot of chili that was left on the stove too long). Clumps or solids are REALLY bad for the engine. The engine needs oil at the proper thickness to function. If it’s clumpy, it won’t flow to all the parts. Small passages might get blocked entirely.

Better performing conventional oils do the same but break down at much higher temperatures and over longer periods of time.

Also, remember the old myth that states you should change your oil every 3,000 miles? Even the worst oil will last 3,000 miles in your average car. But why not spend a few dollars more and change the oil half as often?

What about synthetic oil?

Marketers will have you believe it’s up to 15,000 miles or more. While that might be true for some engines, heat and chemical breakdown normally isn’t the limiting factor for synthetic oils. The limiting factor becomes contaminates.

Newer engines are much better at burning everything and leave less “stuff”. So, while I wouldn’t go 15,000 miles between full synthetic oil changes in a 1964 Cadillac, I might consider it in a new hot hatchback.

So, what do we recommend?

Thanks to attorneys, I can’t tell you which oils are terrible. I can tell you that Castrol GTX is a good conventional oil for daily drivers without turbos. There’s a reason why you see it called out by name on the refill cap of some high-end cars. I use Mobile1 for full synthetic when it’s needed, but I haven’t tested a lot of other oils. We’ve found that it’s the only oil that holds up.

 

Why Some Engine Oils Are So Much Better Than Others – The Differences Will Surprise You.

There’s a lot of religion and dogma about motor oils – both on the street and on the track. We thought we would apply some science to it. We’ll explain why it’s okay to change your oil every 10,000 miles with some oils and every 5,000 with others. The differences will surprise you. We’ll deep dive into the differences.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Don’t believe the marketing of oil companies. Talk to an engine rebuilder. Often, companies that market the most have the worst oil.
  • Conventional oils vary widely. Some are terrible, some are good. Pay 5 or 10% more and get decent conventional oil that will last at least twice as long, or longer.
  • Don’t switch from conventional to full synthetic on an older car, it will leak – a lot.
  • If you have a turbo or supercharger, always use full synthetic.

Okay let’s dive in:

There are three basic types of oil on the market.

  1. Conventional
  2. Semi-synthetic
  3. Full-synthetic

So what does this mean? Let’s go through each:

Conventional: It’s made from oil that comes out of the ground. It’s natural and since nature doesn’t usually make anything pure, it has a whole lot of other stuff in it. The “stuff” depends on where it was drilled (for example Texas versus Canada) and how much of it was “cleaned” or refined. Most people also add some other ingredients, giving marketing something to talk about.

Synthetic: This doesn’t come from the ground, it’s made in a factory. This means that it comes out very pure. Most vendors will add good stuff back depending on the vendor and the application (for example street or race use, etc.).

Semi-synthetic: This is just a mix of both.

How do they vary among the brands?

Some brands are more refined than others (making them more pure). They also have different additives or different amounts of additives. The differences make a significant impact on the way the oil behaves with time and heat.

It’s kind of like saying boiled chicken feet and premium fried chicken are the same because they come from a chicken.

They’re both from a chicken, so they should be the same right?

The quality of the oil determines how long this process takes or how much heat is necessary. We should emphasize that heat dramatically accelerates the process, but it can happen with time alone. Conventional oil that sits in a stored engine for decades is just like driving for 30,000 miles without an oil change.As background, all oils breakdown with heat and time. Eventually, the oil starts to change thickness (or viscosity). It will begin to get clumpy, start to burn and leave a coating on everything.

When you pull apart an engine that’s had super cheap oil changes at the manufacturer’s recommended interval (normally 6,000 miles or more), you can instantly tell. Some engines will have clumps that feel like canned mushrooms in your oil (gross!). In spots, it will burn and deposit a thick coating on parts (think about the bottom of a pot of chili that was left on the stove too long). Clumps or solids are REALLY bad for the engine. The engine needs oil at the proper thickness to function. If it’s clumpy, it won’t flow to all the parts. Small passages might get blocked entirely.

Some gross, clumpy oil that is obviously past due for a change. Source: Quora (link)

Better performing conventional oils do the same, but break down at much higher temperatures and over longer periods of time.

The difference in performance between good conventional oil and poor conventional oil is dramatic. If you’re pulling apart a motor, it’s hard to tell if an engine had good conventional oil or full synthetic (assuming oil changes at 6,000 miles or less and no turbo or supercharger – more on that later).

Also, remember the old myth that states you should change your oil every 3,000 miles? Even the worst oil will last 3,000 miles in your average car. But why not spend a few dollars more and change the oil half as often?

What about synthetic oils?

Synthetic oils are really “stable” compounds. That means they take a lot of heat to break down or burn. As I recall, synthetic oils must get almost twice as hot to burn compared to conventional oils.

What does that mean? Some cars have engines that run really hot such as race cars, powerboats, or anything with a turbo and supercharger (especially if they are oil cooled superchargers or turbos). These cars really need full synthetic oil. Anything less will burn up and clog the oil system. Ever hear of a turbo that died with very few miles on it? Chances are cheap oil had something to do with it.

In most engines, the oil never gets hot enough to start burning high-end conventional oils. Therefore, the engine doesn’t know the difference between good quality conventional and synthetic oils – assuming reasonable (less than 10,000 mile) oil changes.

So how often do you have to change synthetic oil?

Marketers will have you believe it’s up to 15,000 miles or more. While that might be true for some engines, heat and chemical breakdown normally isn’t the limiting factor for synthetic oils. The limiting factor becomes contaminates.

Not everything burns in the cylinder. Some stuff gets left behind and can end up in your oil. The oil will absorb some amount of this “stuff” – like of like water will absorb salt up to a point. The amount of “stuff” oil can absorb is called “solubility”. With enough miles, the oil becomes so dirty that it needs to be changed. The oil can’t hold any more “stuff”. The stuff is also generally too fine to be caught by the filter.

Newer engines are much better at burning everything and leave less “stuff”. So while I wouldn’t go 15,000 miles between full synthetic oil changes in a 1964 Caddilac, I might consider it in a new hot hatchback.

One more important thing: Synthetic oils also have a low “solubility” when compared with conventional oils. That means they can hold less dirt. Diesel engines are very dirty. Because of the dirt, they are better off with a conventional oil that will absorb more dirt.

Should I switch to synthetic oils?

Here’s the interesting part. Conventional oils have all sorts of nasty stuff in them (some more than others). That nasty stuff makes your engine seals swell. If you switch to full synthetic, all the seals will probably shrink. Your car will leak from places you didn’t know it had. So, we wouldn’t recommend changing unless the car has few miles on it. If you’ve made this mistake, that’s okay just switch back and the seals will swell again.

What about blends or semi-synthetic?

This is hard to discuss. We haven’t seen enough engines to know whether the oil they’re selling is 1-part boiled feet and 10 parts premium Church’s fried chicken or the other way around. We suspect it’s probably 10 parts feet and 1-part Church’s.

What’s the difference between race oil (AMSoil makes some) and full synthetic street oil

Street oils must conform with emissions laws. In other words, they can’t put anything they want into the oil (for example lead) that will burn off and cause problems. For street use, there are some common industry specifications that oils must conform too. For race oil, the door is wide open (and often your pocketbook). These additives often increase temperature tolerance of oil and sometimes leave an anti-wear coating on parts. The difference can be tiny, if any, between the two. Plenty of race teams use street oil.

So, what do we recommend?

Thanks to attorneys, I can’t tell you which oils are terrible. I can tell you that Castrol GTX is a good conventional oil for daily drivers without turbos. There’s a reason why you see it called out by name on the refill cap of some high-end cars. I use Mobile1 for full synthetic when it’s needed, but I haven’t tested a lot of other oils. I stuck with Mobile1 after I asked an Indy car mechanic which oil they used. Their response was, “because we’re sponsored by an oil company [other than Mobile], we can’t tell you that we use anything else … but I can tell you that we have plenty of Mobile1 around the shop. We’ve found that it’s the only oil that holds up.” For old cars (60’s era), I use a zinc additive to keep my flat tappet cams from wearing – a problem that popped up after the removal of lead in gasoline.

In our customer’s cars, we never allow mechanics to use anything but quality oil – just like other any replacement part.

Stay tuned. In future posts, we’ll talk about what picking the right viscosity (in some cases ignoring the manufacturer), filters, and gas mean.

Expansion Tubes Vs. Orifice Tubes

Most people think that when testing an air conditioner, if the high pressure is low and the low pressure is high, then the compressor is bad – end of story. When you replace the compressor, as a best practice, you should also replace the expansion valve. Now, when the system starts back up, the AC will be fixed. There you go, it needed a new compressor.

The reality isn’t that simple. It isn’t always the compressor. Sometimes the compressor is fine (or at least has some life left in it) and the expansion valve is stuck open. However, if you have an AC system with an Orifice Tube, the compressor is always the case.

 

How can that be?

Some “expansion valves” aren’t valves. They are a fixed size hole, properly called an Orifice Tube. The hole creates a pressure drop from the high side of the air conditioning to the low side.

Some are more complicated. These are called Thermostatic Expansion Valve (TXV) or a True Expansion Valve. The TXV hole gets smaller and larger as necessary. TXV are almost always installed in any vehicle with multiple evaporators.

 

So, what does a TXV do?

As Freon flows through the evaporator, it flows from a liquid to a gas. If everything is working correctly, the TXV(through some tricky chemistry) will open just enough so that the Freon coming out of the evaporator is just barely all gas.

For the air conditioner to work as well as it can, the evaporator should be as full of liquid as possible without letting the Freon leave the evaporator as a liquid. That produces the best heat transfer and makes the car as cold as possible. Liquid is, of course, much better at transferring heat than a gas.

If it’s opened too little, the high side will be super high, and the low side will be super low:

  • The evaporator will freeze up.
  • The compressor won’t be able to pump much fluid (since it’s working so hard pumping against a high pressure drop)
  • Flow of Freon will reduce (because the pump can’t pump)
  • Less flow means 70 or 80% of the evaporator will be all gas and not transfer much heat.

If it’s open too much: the low side will be high and high side will be low (just like a bad compressor with an orifice tube, as mentioned earlier). Also:

  • The evaporator will be too warm (since Freon needs the pressure drop to get cold)

As you can see it’s a careful balance. The valve is constantly moving to make sure the flow of Freon is just right. It also makes for the coldest AC system.

 

How can you tell them apart?

Orifice valves are really cheap. Generally, a few dollars or less. Expansion valves are larger, generally look like a metal block, and cost $25 or more.

Figure 1: orifice tube

Figure 2: a true Expansion Valve

 

How do you know if the TXV is working?

You can measure the “super heat”. The Super Heat is a temperature measurement of the gas leaving the evaporator past the “Evaporator Saturation Temperature”.

Saturation Temperature: The temperature of the Freon boils given the “low side” pressure. This is generally listed on the gauge. On the gauge below, 100 psi (most outer set of numbers) correlates to a saturation temperature of 30F° (most inner set of numbers). THE PICTURE BELOW IS NOT A R134A GAUGE SET, SO YOUR GAUGES WILL SHOW DIFFERENT NUMBERS.

Figure 3: low side gauge with pressures and saturation temperatures. This is a home AC gauge, so your gauges will have different numbers on them. The relationship between pressure and saturation temperature is refrigerant dependent.

Here’s how you measure Super Heat

  1. Look at the low side gauge. Read the saturation temperature from the R134a scale.
  2. Measure the actual temperature on the outside of the line leaving the evaporator. The best way is to use a wired sensor. Cable tie the sensor to the line, then wrap a rag around the outside of the sensor (this is to make sure it’s measuring the line temperature and not the outside air). Wait a minute or two. The rag should cover at least an inch in both directions. If you’re using a shop rag, it should be wrapped a few times.
  3. Subtract the number from #2 from #1. If the temperature difference is less than about 7F°, you have a TXV problem.

 

Why do TXVs’ fail?

They generally get stuck open because of debris. The debris often comes from a failing compressor that sends metal shards in the condenser then into the TXV. That isn’t always the case.

 

So, what you should do if the TXV is stuck open?

It’s hard to know why the TXV stuck open. If you replace just the valve, another bit of metal could come out of the condenser and go right back into the TXV. On the other hand, it could also last for a long time. It’s hard to say.

If you take apart the TXV and see debris, the safest plan is the replace the TXV, condenser, and compressor. If the valve is clean, it may have been just a bad TXV and the customer may be okay for a while.

Generally, you can leave this up to the customer. The way to be sure that it won’t happen again is to replace the condenser, compressor, TXV, and filter (drier). However, that can be expensive.

 

The Car Savior is a car repair concierge service, finding you honest, quality car repair services without all of the games, mumbo jumbo, or gotchas you find elsewhere. When booked with our service, we allow only the best parts and best mechanics. Then we let mechanics bid against each other to get you the best deal – without sacrificing quality. That’s The Car Savior way. Visit us here!

 

How to Tell if your Oil Change Shop is Crooked

 

Of all mechanics, oil change shops can be some of the least honest in the car repair business. They play the age-old game: lure you in with a cheap price and then gouge you with additional services once you arrive.  

 

These are common scams: 

  • Cheap oil: As discussed, the cheapest oil isn’t worth it. Buy decent oil and you can safely change it every 9,000 miles or more. We aren’t talking about using only synthetic oil. Conventional oil is fine (or even better in many cases). Just make sure it’s a decent brand. Like anything you buy, some brands are better than others (here’s more detail). 
  • Recommending changes every 3,000 miles: This was true in 1980. Now it’s excessive – as long as you use decent oil. Engines burn cleaner and oils are better (blog post here). 
  • Unnecessary air filter changes: Engine air filters need to be changed every 30,000 miles. No more. Look at the last time you changed your air filter before agreeing to a new one. 
  • Dirty power steering fluid: This is my favorite. It is very, very uncommon for a car to need the power steering fluid changed. Generally it’s near 200,000 miles or more. It is normal to be dirty. If you hear this, don’t respond. Get up and walk out. You’ve found a crook. 
  • Cabin air filter: This is for personal comfort only. You should get it changed every 50,000 miles unless you drive down a lot of dirty roads. I own a vehicle with 200,000 miles and it’s never been changed. It’s still fine (however, I really should change it). 
  • Windshield wipers: Can you see when it rains? Then yours are fine. 

 

How the scam works: 

Shops that specialize in oil changes are the worst. They have technicians that change the oil and a fear monger that works the front desk. The fear monger is on commission. They more they sell you, the more money they make. Worst of all, the fear monger generally has little to no knowledge of cars before starting to work there. The fear monger probably doesn’t even know how much BS they are selling. They are only reciting the information they saw in a training video the day before. 

 

How to get an honest deal 

  • At least at the dealer, they will sell you decent oil. However you may leave with a quote for $2,000 in unnecessary work. 
  • Avoid shops that specialize in oil changes. I’m sure there’s an honest one out there, I just haven’t found it. 
  • Find an honest, independent shop that does all repairs. Not all are honest. But your odds are better than a Lube shop. 

The Car Savior is a car repair concierge service, finding you honest, quality car repair services without all of the games, mumbo jumbo, or gotchas you find elsewhere. When booked with our service, we allow only the best parts and best mechanics. Then we let mechanics bid against each other to get you the best deal – without sacrificing quality. That’s The Car Savior way. Visit us here!

 

7 best ways to save money as a Lyft/Uber driver!

Car troubles can happen to anyone, especially if you’re driving around all day getting passengers from point A to point B. Rideshare drivers put immense amounts of miles driving around their customers, inevitably leading to the slow deterioration of your vehicle’s components. Fortunately for you, small hacks and tricks can be used to improve the longevity of your car and save you big bucks on upcoming car repairs. These tips are so simple to implement you won’t even break a sweat. Without further ado, here are 7 tips that can help you save money on car repairs:

  1. Shop around. Different shops are always running discounts. The trick is finding who’s got the best deal coming up. Luckily, we can do that for you! 
  2. Use better oil, but only change it every 6,000 miles. It’s 10% more expensive, but it only has to be done ½ as often. 
  3. Don’t buy the tires that came with the car. Get something cheaper. Tire manufactures sell tires on new cars at or near a loss. Then they mark them up to the aftermarket, knowing that people will default to the tires that came with the car.  
  4. Know when you can ignore a repair and when you can’t. Contrary to what your local mechanic says, not all repairs are urgent. Some can wait a while. Others don’t have to be fixed at all! Knowing which you can ignore will save you a lot of money. KarSavior can tell you when a repair is really serious or when it can be ignored. 
  5. Use reputable mechanics. “Bargain” mechanics get you to come in for a cheap oil change, then they insist the car needs a new air filter, even though the user manual says it’s good for another 20,000 miles. Thankfully KarSavior shows you the recommended maintenance in straight forward manner. Simply click to find out what you need and don’t get anything done that’s unnecessary. We also only work with the best mechanics. 
  6. Make sure your car gets good, quality parts. Some mechanics try to buy the cheapest possible parts to make the most money. However, it’s often penny wise and pound foolish. For example, just a small amount more money could buy you an air filter or oil filter that’s a whole lot better. 
  7. Don’t buy premium gas. For most cars, it doesn’t do anything. The car should require it. If your car does require it, chances are the car is expensive and the depreciation is too high. You should sell it, buy something with less depreciation, and make more money! 

The Car Savior is a car repair concierge service, finding you honest, quality car repair services without all of the games, mumbo jumbo, or gotchas you find elsewhere. When booked with our service, we allow only the best parts and best mechanics. Then we let mechanics bid against each other to get you the best deal – without sacrificing quality. That’s The Car Savior way. Visit us here!

Why You Make More Money With Ride-Sharing Apps Driving an Older Car

I once rode with a driver driving a brand new $60,000 Lexus complaining he wasn’t making any money because his car was depreciating so quickly. Really? I thought. That’s not higher math! 

  • Put 161 miles in an 8 hour shift. That makes depreciation and insurance a significant cost 
  • Figure out the cost of insurance and decreased resell value. 
  • Multiply the numbers out 
  • Determine the cost per mile. 

Assume 50,000 miles per year. 

We should do it for Ford Focus (new and 3 years old) and Hyundai new and 3 years old. 

  • Price to figure out how much age costs (same car same mileage (maybe 50k, getting older and older) 
  • Then price to figure out how much mileage costs (start with a 5 year old car, price to very high mileage) 

Worried your car is going to be in the shop for a week? Think again. Schedule your repair with KarSavior. You can likely get your car repaired at your house!  

Why Driving Like Vin Diesel is Actually Good for Your Car

Burning fuel isn’t always a perfect process. The best known example is soot in a fireplace or campfire. It occurs when combustion isn’t complete.

While engines have a lot of electronics to make sure combustion is well controlled, soot still builds up inside. The result is a layer of grime on everything. The grime causes all sorts of problems. Valves don’t close. Air doesn’t flow very well.

The inside of the cylinder can be particularly problematic. There is buildup, normally carbon, which is a thermal insulator. The insulation means the surface gets hotter than it would normally (since steel and aluminum are good at carrying the heat away from the surface). The thicker the carbon, the hotter the surface. Eventually the surface of the carbon gets so hot, the fuel auto ignites, causing knock.

So what’s the solution? Drive it like you stole it! High engine temperatures combined with lots of air and fuel flow often will knock carbon loose. It will probably need more than one 0 to 60 sprint. Generally four or five in close succession may do as much as a fuel treatment.

It isn’t just the engine that benefits. Transmissions have higher fluid flow at higher RPM. The higher flow blows out accumulated dirt in solenoids and valve bodies, resulting in better shifting.  Noisy brakes (due to dirt) can sometimes be cured with a hard stop. In certain Ford Focus transmissions, aggressive driving will even cure serious transmission issues!

So If you’re out driving, don’t be bashful. Step on it every once in a while! Your car might run better.

The Car Savior provides faster, cheaper, easier car repair by providing you an online diagnosis and quotes from vetted mechanics. If you’re having car issues and are looking for a deal, try us out. We are an easy-to-use service and help you learn more about your car so you can understand how to maintain your vehicle!

Car issues? Get a free diagnosis and repair bids from great mechanics: www.blog.thecarsavior.com 

 

Why 200k miles is the new 100k

People used to fear owning a car over 100,000 miles. 200,000 was uncommon unless the engine was replaced.

The truth is, most modern cars on the road will go 100,000 or even 150,000 with zero unscheduled maintenance. That’s right. Not a single thing will break. Even at 200,000 miles, most cars are still fairly reliable. A blown, well-maintained engine is almost un-heard of today.

The market reflects it. Check around for a Toyota truck with 200,000 miles or more. Chances are, it’s more expensive than you think. Why? Because people know there’s a lot of life left in them.

Cars are getting more reliable for a lot of reasons:

  • Reliable cars sell better, so every manufacturer has been fighting to make their cars better.
  • Emission standards oddly, inadvertently made cars more reliable too. Newer engines must burn gas more cleanly in order to pass emissions. Dirt and grime in the engine causes wear; so now the engines last longer.

Why did emissions standards make cars more reliable?

  • First, the EPA wanted to make sure cars didn’t accumulate a few miles and then start belching bad stuff so they implemented a rule that said a certain percentage of cars would be randomly selected after they accumulated 100,000 miles. A minimum percentage of the selected cars still had to pass an emissions test. Worn, poorly running engines won’t pass an emissions test so they were forced to be reliable. Because manufactures are often running right up against the limit of emissions, engines would have to run close to as well as they do new as they do at 100,000 miles.
  • Second, is because manufactures were forced to build engines that burn fuel more completely. One of the leading causes of engine wear is dirt circulating through the engine oil (this is discussed in detail here). The primary source of that dirt is incomplete combustion of fuel which also happens to be very bad for emissions. Because emissions laws are always stricter, combustion is getting better and better with time, wear is decreased, and engines last longer. The Chevrolet small block is a great example. A 1980’s vintage would barely survive 150,000 miles. A newer model commonly lasts 250,000 or more.

Walk through a junk yard and it becomes clear. Older cars have reasonable seats and interiors that look fine. They were sent to the junk yard because of a blown engine or transmission. Newer cars in the junk yard don’t look so good. Seats and Steering wheels are worn through to the foam. Carpets worn through. These cars didn’t die because of a blown engine. They died because of no one wanted to drive them.

-Christiaan Best
Ford F-150 with 227,000 miles (original engine and transmission)

The Car Savior provides faster, cheaper, easier car repair by providing you an online diagnosis and quotes from vetted mechanics. If you’re having car issues and are looking for a deal, try us out. We are an easy-to-use service and help you learn more about your car so you can understand how to maintain your vehicle! Visit us at: www.blog.thecarsavior.com