Why a Clean Car Matters

For the busy professional, a clean car may be the last thing on your mind. Meetings, family commitments and hitting the gym usually rank way before getting your ride spic and span. But what happens if you get elected to drive to lunch with your boss, or business associates? What impression would your car leave? The old saying “A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind” won’t work when it comes to your car, even if you are a traveling salesman and your car is your office.

Let’s look at some other benefits besides aesthetics…

  • Better Gas Mileage: Your car will slip through the air better if it’s clean. Sound crazy, it’s not, it’s science! Check out the Myth Busters getting 2MPG better in their tests of a clean vs. dirty car. YouTube Video Link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNKMOqpfM20
  • Longer Lasting Paint: Your paint is more delicate than you think, and keeping it clean will keep it shining for years to come. Modern paints are made from Urethane and consist of a base color coat and a clear top coat that provides the shine. Dirt can become embedded in the top clear coat and cause damage over time. Small metal particles like rail dust and brake pad dust can eventually oxidize (rust) and stain the top layer of paint unless cleaned off regularly.
  • No annoying “Wash Me” graffiti phrases across the window from neighbor kids or your own offspring. Case in point, one of my twin daughters thought she would be cute and write on one of my latest projects…
  • Clean duds: Nothing sucks more than getting in or out of your car in business attire and rubbing up against a dirty car. In the winter road salt is also very easy to get on pant legs and jackets.
  • Less Rust: Speaking of road salt, (or ocean salt spray) it speeds up the oxidation process and will leave your car a rust mess if not cleaned off! Don’t forget the under carriage of your car too, as the road salt and ocean spray gets in every nook and cranny.

Hopefully I don’t have to further convince you of all the benefits of a clean car. Whip out that hose and bucket, or read more in our Car Care Section.

Posted: 16th April 2014  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Body, Car Care

Autobody Repair – What You Need To Know

It’s a fact of car ownership; you will be involved in an accident or parking lot incident that will lead you to a body shop for paint repair. Being an educated consumer is the best way to assure you get the best service and your car leaves better than new!

How to find a body shop?

Most insurance companies will have a list of recommended shops in your area. If insurance is covering the bill, ask them if they have a preferred shop. Most shops use the same estimation software and quotes usually vary very little between shops but it cannot hurt to get 2 – 3 quotes to make sure you are getting the best deal.

If you are paying for the entire repair and insurance is not involved, shop around. Many shops turn down non-insurance work, because quite frankly they get paid more when dealing with an insurance company. Insurance companies have a book of rates which they pay for each type of damage and it’s usually a higher payout than if you were to pay out of pocket. The same scenario plays out with health insurance too, paying cash usually results in a lower bill for the job at hand.

The quote.

Make sure the person estimating the work has all the information at hand. They should know how the accident happened, and any other issues the car has had after the accident. If the impact was hard enough problems with the engine, suspension or transmission could pop up and the estimator should know this to get an accurate quote.

What to expect when taking your car to a body shop…

First remove all valuables from the interior of the car, and any extra stuff in the trunk. I am not too concerned about theft, but body work is dusty, and your valuables may come back to you with a coating of dust or overspray. Most minor body work can be completed in 2 – 3 days so if you don’t have alternative transportation, get a rental car. Your insurance company or the auto body shop can often help you arrange for a rental car and have it waiting for you when you drop off the car.

Picking up your car at the autobody shop.

ALWAYS inspect the work. Look at the repaired area in a well-lit area, preferably in the shop if it’s raining outside or dark. Look for overspray, dry areas where the clear coat was not applied well, and any sanding marks which may not have been gotten out before final paint. You or your insurance company is paying a lot for the repair, so make sure you are happy with it!

Also pay attention to the body shops recommendations for “after care”. Modern paints and paint booths leave a durable finish, but often times washing and waxing your car should only be done after 30 days when the paint is fully cured. Following these tips, your car should be as good as new, and when it comes time to resell, or trade-in, your investment will be protected.

Posted: 7th April 2014  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Body

Ford Freestar high pitched noise?


I have a 2004 ford freestar. They replaced the rotors,pads,tires ect..
I replaced the power steering hoses..

my question..

while driving at higher speeds (over 80kms on the freeway) I hear this high pitched squeal sound coming from the front end. It doesnt do it when I drive under 60km p/h or when I stop, just when I go really fast.

My hubby thought it might be a belt, but I dont know..




It could be a belt, but you would hear it at upper RPMs as the van goes through the gears and gets up to speed. It could be the air vibrating some of the body work, if something is loose in the front end. Does the van click when turning sharp left or right? A bad CV joint could be the culprit, but it would be a very loud whining. I would have a mechanic look at it ASAP since at high speeds things happen fast and if its a CV joint, you dont want to chance it.

Posted: 11th August 2009  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Body, Suspension

Winter Car Care Tips

It’s getting to be that time of year, time to break out the Halloween costumes and get ready for the cooler weather. Now is the time to start thinking about your car and what it needs to survive the bitter cold of winter.

The most critical and often overlooked part of your vehicle is the cooling system. Without the proper protection, your coolant can freeze in the winter temperatures and destroy your engine. The coolant in your engine is a mixture of water and anti-freeze, which is supposed to lower the freezing point of the coolant. If the ratio of water to anti-freeze is wrong, the coolant mixture will freeze. Since water is one of those goofy liquids that actually expands as is freezes, it can exert extreme forces on your engine and actually crack the engine block. You can check your coolant’s freeze point with a simple tool called a Ball-Type Tester. You suck up a little bit of coolant into the instrument and count the number of balls that float. Then using the legend on the tool, you can determine the freezing point. There are also testing strips available, which you dip into the coolant similar to a pregnancy test to check the freezing point. If your coolant is more than 2 years old or you have over 30,000 miles it should be changed regardless of the freezing point.

The last thing to check on your engine is the fuel system. A bottle of gas line anti-freeze should be run through the system before the first flake of snow falls. The gas line anti-freeze will absorb any residual moisture in the system and keep it from freezing your fuel lines. Water can get into your fuel tank from a bad batch of gasoline at your favorite gas station or a faulty gas cap.

Once your engine is protected, you should turn your attention to your tires. Check the tread depth and pressures before wintertime hits. The pressure in your tires can drop as the temperatures plummet. If your tires are getting worn, I would suggest replacing them to get the best traction in the winter months. You may even want to consider getting an inexpensive set of steel wheels with dedicated snow tires for the winter months. All-Season tires do every season well, but none of them excellent. By running a set of winter tires, you will get the best winter traction possible and keep your car on the road where it belongs.

Your paint will also need some protection from all the salt and chemicals on the road. Make sure wash your car well, and then apply a liberal coat of wax over the entire car. You can also wax your wheels if you have aluminum wheels, which will help to stop pitting and keep the wheels clean. The biggest mistake I see people make when washing a car is to not rinse their wash mitt or sponge, or rinsing it in the wash bucket. Make sure you rinse off the sponge or mitt outside the bucket with your hose. This will keep the dirt that you just wiped off the car from becoming sandpaper and you clean the rest of your car.

A good first aid kit is valuable any time of year, but what else should you have in your trunk? A good ice scraper, bag of salt or sand for traction and a blanket incase you are stranded and need to keep warm are all vital. If you have a rear wheel drive vehicle, extra weight in the trunk will help with traction. A bag of cement or sand can give you the needed traction in the winter months.

Good luck and safe driving,

Kevin Schappell

Posted: 4th October 2006  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Body, Cooling, Site News

Little Black or Brown Spots on Car

Image Courtesy of Donnan.com


Brown speckles began appearing all over my white yukon. The dealer said rail
dust, fix with claybar treatment, $300 thank you! The spots started to come
back within 2 weeks. The GM dealer now does a tap dance and with lot of BS.
Who can I take this vehicle too to find out what is really happening to
this paint job. No other cars where I park this car are similarily
afflicted. Thanks


I am guessing you are in the mid-atlantic region. I too have seen the little black spots on my car. My spots looked like little balls of tar and you can scratch the tops of the ball off, but a small spot still remains which is hard to remove? Is this what you are seeing? If it is, you problem is not rail dust, but Artillery Fungus ! Yes I said fungus. In the mid-atlantic region there has been a real problem with this little known fungus which shoots a sticky liquid from it’s insides up to a couple of feet away. The wind can then carry them even further. They grow in rotting wood and mulch. It may not be from your place of business, but rather from your house, or even the gas station you may visit every morning for coffee. (if they have mulch around)

For more information, Dr. Donald D. Davis of Penn State is currently doing research on this annoying fungus http://www.personal.psu.edu/faculty/d/d/ddd2/

My method of removing the spores is this… I wash the car first, then use bug and tar remover with a 100% cotton towel, as to not scratch the paint. This works well with spores that have not been on the vehicle for a long time. Older spores need to be removed with a clay bar, as your dealer did the first time. You can purchase a clay bar kit in most auto parts stores, under the Mothers brand. A word of caution with the clay bar, keep folding it over, exposing new clay, to prevent built up dirt from scratching your paint. It’s a great way to clean your car, but if not used properly, it becomes like sand paper. I have also had limited success with latex paint remover sold under the M-22 label, but I do not believe this is sold anymore.

To prevent the spores from coming back, you can try to re-mulch the area that you park next to, or replace the mulch with stones as I did at my business.

Good Luck,


What’s Next???

Learn how to wash your car properly, wax it and clean your paint to keep your car looking it’s best.

Posted: 19th August 2006  |  Author: Kevin Schappell  |  Category: Body, Car Care

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