Auto Detailing – Save Your Knees and Find a Knee Pad Solution

A couple of years ago, I talked to a gentleman at Starbucks who was on disability. He had worked for a carpet installation company and had blown out his knees, both of them and could hardly walk, and one could not be repaired, although they tried by putting in some titanium. He admitted it did help for a while, but his knee was simply to tore up inside. You see, those that install carpets often use their knees to help pound the nails in the baseboard during installations as he explained it to me. Interestingly enough, I understand how important it is to save your knees because previously I was a tack star and later had raced street motorcycles, and also had done quite a bit of auto detailing. Okay so let’s talk shall we?

If you are in the auto detailing business you will be on your knees quite a bit cleaning wheels, under carriages, and putting on wax of vehicles which are very low to the ground, like most exotic sports cars. This means you have to get down and dirty, but in doing so you will be working in a parking lot if you are doing mobile detailing with gravel around, or you will be working on a cement floor inside of an auto detailing shop, those are very hard surfaces, and they can be quite challenging if you are in that position on your knees for long periods of time.

There are several auto detailing catalogs which have very small cushioned mats which are between six and 8 inches wide and 2 feet long with a handle on them, on one end. These work perfectly, and they are an ideal solution for an auto detailer. Best of all you can clip them to a work cart using a carabiner that rock climbers use. Another strategy is to get ahold of the type of knee pads that soccer players use from a sports store. Although they are not as good, they will save your knees. If you are an auto detailer you may put one on only one knee, and kneel down on that each time. Every few days you might wear it on the other knee, so you are not favoring one leg over the other. Always buy the fabric washable kind.

It’s amazing how simple things and proper ergonomic procedures can help you in your auto detailing this. If you are detailing aircraft, especially light aircraft, or small business jets, it is often very hard to clean the underbelly, or the bottom of the wings with one knee on the ground, either on the flight line or in a hangar on the hangar floor. Protect your knees so you don’t have to become a disabled auto detailer. Please consider all this and think on it.

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My Red Pontiac Firebird – Babe Magnetic With an Attitude Problem

Before I talk about my Firebird, let me mention I once owned a brand spanking new Pontiac Fiero. It was black and racy, sexy and cool. I felt like a super hero in it as I zipped down the street and flew around corners. But I had trouble with that car; in short, I couldn’t drive, eat a donut, and shift all at the same time. That irked me a lot. But the car never broke down. Of course, it only had 30,000 miles on it before somebody used it as target practice for Terrorist Training by ramming their car into it and totaling it. I knew a Terrorist did it because nobody else would accidentally run smack in the back of a parked car. So at 22 years old, I ran down to my Pontiac dealer and bought what I really wanted in the first place: A Red Pontiac Formula Firebird! Picture my ear-to-ear smile as I drove off the lot with all 8 cylinders humming, a box of donuts at the ready, and my automatic Transmission doing the shifting for me.

It was a really fast, shinny red car that you could see coming for at least 135 miles. I knew it would draw in the babes. As I drove home, I figured I’d finally be able to get a girl to talk to me now that I had this fantastic car. I remember the excitement as I ran low on gas after that first tank. I’d been waiting for this day. I’d have to stop at the gas station where I’d quietly and sexily get out of my man-o-musk metal outerwear so all the ladies could longingly admire me, the owner of this fabulously sexy, magnetizing machine.

The first ten times I got out of the car, girls didn’t look at me much though. I thought nothing of it. I was aloof and on top of the world. I figured they were just being coy as I was. I lived my fantasy for many station stops later. I even stopped to fill up every 5 gallons to improve me odds of admiration. Over 100 stops later the results were in; no ladies looking. Adding insult to injury, 15 your old boys always came over to me to say something like, “dude, how many horses does that baby have under the hood”. Ok, so it took me another ten years to figure out that I’d need something like a BMW, Mercedes, or other expensive car to get the ladies attention. I learn life’s lessons very slowly.

Anyhow, the reason for this story really has nothing to do with how sexy I am, but actually about my Firebird’s mechanical problems. Sorry it took me so long to get to it. I tend to ramble. In short, one morning my Firebird had developed a attitude problem that revolved around a sleeping disorder. That is, it wouldn’t wake up. The starter was pronounced clinically dead at the scene.

So I towed my 60,000-mile old Babe Mobile down to my local neighborhood franchised garage and they had a deal for me. They could replace my starter with a Rebuilt part and save me some money on the repair (versus using new parts like the Dealer wanted to do). It came with a glistening 90-day warranty. I figured, the original part lasted 60,000 miles and 4 years, the rebuilt one would surely last at least half that long.

So, about 91 days later I was towed back into the shop again with my car’s same attitude problem. The shop manager figured we had adjusted the car’s attitude right the first time, and the failed starter was surely just a fluke. So we agreed to put another rebuilt starter in there. Yes, I skulked back in to the same shop about 92 more days later. I think we may have put a new one on it that time, but I don’t really remember (bad memories are blocked by the brain after the trauma gets serious enough).

So now a little tech talk as to why this might have been happening. Rebuilt parts usually come with a 90 day warranty and fail far more often than remanufactured parts or new parts. In the process for a rebuilt part, they generally clean, test and replace what has to be replaced – but nothing else. Think about that for a minute. You are only fixing what actually broke, not necessarily the design or assembly flaws that may have caused the failure in the first place.

You can also go with a remanufactured part where you throw away all the wear items, test the rest, resurface all relevant surfaces, replace all the thrown away wear items, and test the final assembly. In this case you are definitely improving your odds at staying on the road longer. These parts will fail a lot less often than the rebuilt parts and they generally come with a 12 month, 12,000 mile warranty. Of course, you could go with the full Monty and buy a brand new part and also get a 12 month, 12,000 mile warranty and (arguably) get the best results.

Now that I’ve helped you understand the tech talk the shop guys tell you when they’re listing out your options, keep in mind I have little to no good advice regarding women in general. But this story ought to help you with that one little problem I had driving a Pontiac Firebird. You see, today my wife is smarter than me and she’s also way more beautiful than me. And you guessed it. I met her long after the Firebird was buried.

Are You A Street-Smart Consumer – Take This Quiz

The ability to find the lowest price and best value is both an art and science. The science comes from the ability to comparison shop prices, quality and value for the dollar.

The art comes in your skill at smelling out good bargains others walk over without noticing. The art also comes from your ability to negotiate down the price or negotiate up extra-unadvertised services or other perks.

To find out where you stand on the Street-Smart consumer ladder take this short quiz.

1. I use a shopping list before going to the supermarket.

2. I get at least 3 estimates before making a buying decision.

3. I purchase at least 25% on merchandise that’s out of season?

4. I am a label reader most of the time.

5. The larger of a quantity I buy – the more of a discount I expect most of the time.

6. The cheapest price is not always the best value.

7. The best way to tell if a business has any complaints against it is to contact the Better Business Bureau.

8. Laws don’t protect you if you neglect protecting yourself.

9. I check my credit reports at least once each year.

10. I avoid buying clothes that force me to buy expensive accessories with them to look decent.

11. I avoid buying clothing whose styles change from year to year.

12. I check clothing labels for fiber content, care and cleaning instructions before buying.

13. The easiest and most effective way to reduce auto repair cost is through preventive maintenance.

14. Regular oil changes is the most important action you can do to protect your car’s engine and make it last longer

15. Buying a dependable used car can save you several thousand dollars off on new car depreciation.

16. Before signing any contract, I make sure I have all promises in writing.

17. I know the importance of negotiation and do it on big-ticket items.

18. I save money on insurance by carrying a larger deductible than the minimum.

19. I avoid buying items with my credit card I can’t pay off in 30 days or less.

20. I have a monthly budget and stick to it each month.

21. I review my monthly budget each month to see how well I did.

22. I avoid trying to keep up with the Jones.

Now that you’ve finished, review each question and give yourself 1 point for each yes answer. See the graph below for your results.

15 -21 yes answers

You are a street-smart consumer.


You are moving in the right direction to street-smart consumerism. Pay more attention to how you approach your purchases and how you spend your money.


You’re missing opportunities to save more money by a lack of information and/or desire to save. Take the time to get and practice the money saving information that’s available.


It’s hard to save money if you ranked in this category, but all is not lost. If you pick up the pace now by reading and studying solid money saving information you can get on the road to bigger savings.


If you landed in this category, either you have your own software company, you’re a distant cousin of Bill Gates or you don’t like money. However, if you like to have more money in your pocket you have to make a commitment to saving money. It doesn’t just happen. Find someone to help you, a mentor, a financial counselor or one of the many free financial services offered in most cities.

Congratulations on taking the time to take this quiz. Wherever your result or the category you landed in, it was the goal of this message to inform you. Now you can make any mid-course corrections to get on the road or further down the road to saving more money.

What Is Considered A Junk Car?

The term is thrown around quite often, you hear it all the time in conversations or in anger for times when a car is not performing as well as it should, but what is actually considered a junk car? Many people picture an orange rusty old little car sitting on a lawn or in the driveway, I mean that was the first thing that used to come to my mind before I became so fondly familiar with this field. It never occurred to me that anything beyond that mental picture could be called, and let alone considered a junk car. Just some old parted out “thing” that had no purpose for anyone whatsoever, see I still can’t get that image out of my head, but in many peoples eyes a car can be considered junk because of numerous different reasons or conditions.

Besides the image ingrained in my mind from way, way back when, a car that simply doesn’t run anymore is considered junk by many as well. You could probably just imagine a person kicking the tire of their car because it just stopped working in the middle of a highway. It’s the car on the side of the road because the transmission started grinding and just broke down, or the radiator just blew because something caused the car to overheat, or the car in the driveway for some odd reason that just doesn’t seem to want to start. Also cars that have been in accidents can be considered junk cars too, especially when they appear to be beyond repair.

Generally, any car that has little or no value to its owner is considered a junk car. Whether the car won’t run, got wrecked in an accident, or the cost to fix a broken down car exceeds the owners perceived value of the car, it is considered to be a junk or salvage car. Besides peoples perceptions, many states have the power the declare a car junk, salvaged, rebuilt, etc as well. Normally this happens after a car has been in an accident and was sold by an insurance company to a dealer because the total amount of damage and cost for repairs exceeded 75% of the current value of the vehicle. Most people don’t know this, but when a car is bought from insurance companies it is considered totaled, and most if not all states will be declared junk and be branded with a junked, salvage, or rebuilt title, and to get a car with this type of title registered in many states requires a separate anti-theft inspection on top of all other state requirements which is not a fun task at all.

I hope you found this article useful and have discovered how many people, businesses, and even states can perceive a vehicle as being junk, salvaged, or rebuilt.

Can You Extend the Life and Mileage of Your Car’s Exhaust and Muffler System?

Most auto owners do not give the exhaust system of their vehicle one minute though. That is until they hear a loud boom, exhaust hissing or rattling noises coming quite scarily from the rear of their car or truck. On top of that there are health and safety concerns from exhaust gasses. You can almost bet by the time they get to that point that they are going to be recipients of a large muffler or exhaust system repair bill. Is their any way that most motorists can extend the life and driving span of their exhaust and muffler system or systems?

Basically put your car or truck’s exhaust system includes the exhaust manifold, muffler, connecting pipes and in some cases a resonator. Any automobile made in the last 30 years will definitely have a catalytic converter you can bet. Single exhaust setups use an exhaust manifold of a single exhaust pipe, muffler assembly and tail pipe that extends under of just short of the rear bumper whereas on a dual exhaust system arrangement two exhaust pipes and a muffler assembly are used together with two resonators, two tail pipes. Each assembly is connected to it s own exhaust manifold and carries the exhaust gasses to the rear of the vehicle.

The life of the mufflers and pipes is dependent largely on the type of service in which the vehicle is used. If it is driven mostly in city type stop and go traffic with few trips exceeding five miles, you can bet that the muffler will soon be rusted out, have a shorter life span and that the automobile owner will be making a visit either to his local mechanic at their garage or to his dealership service center. Since installing mufflers and exhaust systems is a specialized job many garages themselves as well as those auto owners often have the work done at shops and garages that specialize in exhaust system and muffler repair and replacement.

The reason for such short muffler life spans is that on short trips the mufflers and pipes will never get warm never mind hot enough to evaporate moisture in the system – that in the end works to rust out any steel metal components of mufflers and exhaust systems. This moisture not only clings to the metal components and is rust causing by it but wore me highly acidic in nature and most corrosive – mixing with the exhaust gas remnants and left over residuals from the internal combustion engine’s combustion process. As a result the pipes and mufflers are soon corroded and have to be replaced.

If the car is driven mostly on long and longer mileage trips, or mainly at good speeds on freeway travel, then conversely the mufflers and the pipes that it is attached to will soon get hot enough to simply evaporate this moisture, similar to how a hot kettle boils off water. Consequently corrosive action (that is rusting and the formation of rust on the metal parts and surfaces of the muffler) will be slowed down and retarded. Consequently your vehicle will have its muffler and exhaust system will last longer and have a longer life span.

Interestingly it seems that Mufflers and pipes used on a single exhaust system, will generally last longer than dual muffler installations because all the hot exhaust gasses are propelled and pass through one single pipe – that is the one solitary muffler. As a result in a single muffler system temperatures generally reach a higher value sooner rather than later. Hence the corrosive moisture has a better chance of being heated up and evaporated into the atmosphere with less of a chance that will linger on metal surfaces and components to do its rusting job.

The general rule of thumb from experienced auto mechanics and automotive dealership service writers is that mufflers and pipes should be replaced before they are rusted completely, for if there are any leaks in the system what so ever, the exhaust which are poisonous and injurious to health will escape into the interior of the vehicle where they can potentially cause the death of the occupants and riders or a serious accident if the driver becomes affected by exhaust gas and gasses.

Is College Debt Really Necessary? What Parents and Students Should Know

“Had the people who started Facebook decided to stay at Harvard, they would not have been able to build the company, and by the time they graduated in 2006, that window probably would have come and gone.” – Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal.

Ever since I can remember, I was inculcated with the belief that in order to truly succeed in America, you have to get at least a 4 year degree from a prestigious university; even if it means taking on a ton of debt that you may work your entire adult life to pay off.

I also came to believe that if you really want to stay on the top of the heap, then you need to take on even more debt and get a graduate degree, hence my own post-graduate alphabet soup, including law school.

In high schools across the nation, statistics are still being trotted out by guidance counselors to “prove” that young people have no chance of success without that high-priced sheepskin, or that, if they somehow manage to land a job without one, they will never get promoted and will be stuck in bottom-of-the-ladder limbo land for all eternity.

Twenty years ago, the idea that “you have to go to college to make good money” might have been more truth than myth.

Now, though,, the ever-escalating cost of tuition, fees, and books at America’s universities means that post financial collapse parents might want to take another, perhaps more jaundiced view of the entire higher education system even as the old school narrative continues to be shoved down their throats by university marketing departments.

As a financial educator, I have had numerous concerns about my own clients taking on the costly burdens associated with financing their child’s college education. Truthfully, it makes me more than a bit queasy when I see clients raiding their savings and retirement accounts to send Junior to a fancy private school.

This is especially true in a financial system in flux, where, for the first time ever, over 50% of the unemployed and underemployed have college degrees. To make matters worse, there is a bubble on the horizon; large, paper-thin, and waiting for one tiny pin prick to explode it.

This bubble comes in the form of easy-to-obtain student loans that many are finding are not so easy to pay back. A 2012 article on CNN’s website reported that, at a time of record high unemployment for college grads, student indebtedness had reached an average of nearly $27.000.

“… Two-thirds of the class of 2011 held student loans upon graduation, and the average borrower owed $26,600, according to a report from the Institute for College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt. That’s up 5% from 2010 and is the highest level of debt in the seven years the report has been published.” (1)

Beyond the expense of college there is also the thornier issue of whether most college kids are learning anything of real value that can be applied to the new economy. The education cartel, always in need of fresh blood and fresh wallets, has systematically smeared those who work in the trades as “blue-collar,” or “uneducated,” and thus somehow inferior to those with Ivy League degrees.

Matthew B. Crawford, a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, and author of the bestseller, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work, has posited that the degradation of manual labor and the rise of so-called knowledge-based jobs was wrongheaded and that the future will belong to those who actually know how to do things such as build custom furniture, repair a car, or install heating and air conditioning units.

Says Crawford:

“While manufacturing jobs have certainly left our shores to a disturbing degree, the manual trades have not. If you need a deck built, or your car fixed, the Chinese are of no help. Because they are in China. And in fact there are reported labor shortages in both construction and auto repair. Yet the trades and manufacturing are lumped together in the mind of the pundit class as “blue collar,” and their requiem is intoned. Even so, the Wall Street Journal recently wondered whether “skilled [manual] labor is becoming one of the few sure paths to a good living.”

Crawford also observes that “If the goal is to earn a living, then, maybe it isn’t really true that 18-year-olds need to be imparted with a sense of panic about getting into college (though they certainly need to learn). Some people are hustled off to college, then to the cubicle, against their own inclinations and natural bents, when they would rather be learning to build things or fix things… ” (2)

The Cartelization of Education

We need only look, says bestselling author and trend forecaster Charles Hugh Smith, to the advent of the higher education cartel to see the reason for our obstinate addiction to the “old school” higher education system and the instance that insistence that everyone needs to go to college. There is a lot of money to be made, says Smith, and an elite cadre of cartel bosses who stand to profit by promoting that myth.

“Why does the old style system still persist even though it is already demonstrably inferior? In addition to the financial disincentives, there is another reason: the current system retains a monopoly on assessing student learning and granting credit for demonstrated accomplishment. The schools are able to do this because they have arranged a monopoly on accreditation. This is ultimately a grant of state power.

As a result, modern colleges and universities have collectively become a rent-seeking cartel, an alliance of nominally competitive institutions that maintains a highly profitable monopoly of accreditation. To grasp the power of the cartel, consider a typical Physics I course even at MIT is almost entirely based on Newtonian mechanics, and the subject matter is entirely in the public domain. Only a cartel could arrange to charge $1,500 and more per student for tuition and texts, in the face of far lower cost and superior quality materials, for subject matter that is no more recent than the 19th Century.” (3)

Jeffrey Tucker, CEO of the startup and publisher at Laissez Faire Books, agrees with Smith and maintains that cartelization has ensured that a return on investment in higher education is far from a sure thing for most students and their parents.

… even if the teen does everything right-every test trained for and taken five times, every activity listed on the portfolio, a high GPA, top of the class, early applications and admissions-you are not home free. You are going to spend six figures, but there is also a high opportunity cost: you remove your child from remunerative work for four years, and this is after four years of no employment in high school. That means both lost income and lost job experience. College is costly in every way. (4)

Citing what economists refer to as “inelastic demand,” Tucker writes that the cartel is exceptionally aware of, and deliberately contributes to, parental unwillingness to forego a four-year college education for their children, even if it means putting themselves in the poor house.

“Parents would gladly step in front of a bus to save their children, so facing debt and financial loss for a few years seems just part of parental obligation. This is why, in economic terms, the demand for college is relatively inelastic: Parents keep paying and paying no matter how bad it gets,” he argues. (4)

I see a lot of angst concerning this issue among my own clients. As the parent of a high school student, I understand it. The idea of college “no mater what” is so ingrained in our thinking that when a child tells us they are considering postponing college or even not going at all, parents tend to panic.

However, the stakes are higher than ever before and the potential for damage to the parents’ own financial well-being is enormous, not to mention the contribution education debt makes to our national economic malaise.

Parents and students need to ask themselves honest questions about the value of a traditional four-year degree, what the potential return on that investment will be, and whether or not there are viable alternatives.

Student Debt and Wall Street

As of this writing, current student debt stands at around $1.2 trillion dollars, more than the entire gross domestic products of some nations, including Canada.

After what we’ve discussed in previous chapters, it should come as no shock to you that many banks have turned these college loan obligations into (surprise, surprise) “investments” and are busy shopping them on Wall Street as subprime debt.

The market for these educational loans is relatively small compared to the market for home loans, so I doubt that it will be as massive a bubble as we had during the housing market.

However, if the Fed continues to hold interest rates down, investors might be desperate enough to snap more of them up. Then we could have another potential economy-damaging event on our hands.

Teresa’s Takeaway: Alternatives to Traditional 4-Year Degrees

Many of my clients are able to fund their kids’ education without incurring any debt due to their diligence in creating and maintaining their own private finance system using specially-designed insurance policies. In fact, I set up many of these policies that have as their express purpose the funding of a university education.

That being said, however, I never think it is a good idea to spend money simply because you have it available.

If you are a young person considering college or graduate school, do your research and question your motivations. Before saddling yourself or your parents or grandparents with a lot of debt- consider alternatives to four-year colleges, such as online degrees, community colleges, and trade schools. Ask yourself if what you really love and want to do

Find out if what you want to do really does require a college degree in the first place. Amazingly there are lots of high-paying jobs that don’t require 4-year degrees.

Look into local and community colleges, where your expenses are often a fraction of what private universities charge.

If you’re a recent high school graduate, take a year to “cool off,” work, save and travel. Gain a better understanding of yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. Learn what you have to offer to the world. Contribute to the global conversation in a meaningful way as a volunteer.

A bright spot in all of this is the fact that there are some great alternatives to the traditional sheepskin; alternatives that might actually broaden a students’ understanding of the world and give them skills that are needed in the new economy without bankrupting mom and dad.

Bestselling author James Altucher, a longtime proponent of re-thinking college, provides a few real alternatives to college.

Altucher suggests that some college prospects might be better off taking their college savings and starting a business.

He also suggests traveling to a country such as India and immersing your self in a culture completely different than your own.

You will learn what poverty is. You will learn the value of how to stretch a dollar. You will often be in situations where you need to learn how to survive despite the odds being against you. If you’re going to throw up you might as well do it from dysentery than from drinking too much at a frat party, “he writes. (5)

For even more ideas of what to do instead of college, check the resource section of this book for a link to Altucher’s report “40 Alternatives to College.”


(1) Report CNN Money “Average Student Loan Debt Nears $27,000”

(2) Crawford, Matthew B. Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work

(3) Smith, Charles Hugh, Higher Education Cartel, Meet Creative Destruction, Sept. 9,2013

(4) Tucker, Jeffrey A.”Is There A Viable Alternative to College?” The Freeman, July 2013

(5) Altucher, James “8 Alternatives to College” The Altucher Confidential. January 8, 2011

How To Keep Those Pennies In Your Pocket

These ideas I have learnt through personal experience, and surfing the internet:

  • Instead of buying brand new computers and gadgets such as cables, mobiles and tablets, you can buy them refurbished. No, not badly damaged, but showroom pieces such as a computer with a small scratch or chip on the corner of the casing, or buy from a stock clearance sale, or even a used mobile that is still up to date. You can buy cables from the Sunday markets for mobiles and computers, and save there too.
  • Don’t purchase appliances too cheap, such as microwaves, as they tend to need a lot of repairs and get replaced more regularly than good quality ones. Find a brand that is reputed to be enduring, but is also good on the pocket. One such example is a Dyson Hoover which if looked after can last five times longer or more than a cheap Hoover that fails in six months to function. It is worth paying that bit more on buying the item, than forking out for expensive repairs and replacements such as washing machine drums and electrics. Shop around various stores for price differences on the same item before buying as this will save you more.
  • When celebrations come around, they can be very expensive. Why not give a small present on Xmas or Eid, and save the rest of the money till the sales that always come a couple of days after the celebration? This will not only save you money, but will spread out the fun of the occasion for the family.
  • Many people may remember to turn off their lights at night but not many unplug. Did you know that electric is still flowing into your appliance even when it is turned off at the wall switch or appliance switch? The switch on the wall does not turn off the electric. It only neutralises the current to make it safe. Therefore the only way to save your money is to unplug all unnecessary appliances directly from their sources, before going out, or going for a safe sleep. Many fires are started overnight as a result of things left plugged in overnight. This is usually caused by the electrical charge building up in appliances.
  • Shutting your doors throughout the house, not only is a safety feature at night against possible fires, but through a whole 24 hours can cut your heating bills down.Teach kids this from a young age, and you will be rewarded in your pocket, as that way you can turn the heating down.
  • Learn free courses online, and at social groups, about how to do D.I.Y, or recycle old clothes and fabrics into new items and clothing. You can even learn how to cut your family’s hair and save the expense of hairdressers, or learn to repair every day tools such as lamps. Some courses are free at colleges that teach these things. There are Council tenant groups that teach things too. I found a few free courses on Futurelearn and at the local college.
  • Having a car nowadays when you have kids can work out cheaper than public transport, if you have the knowledge. Don’t buy a brand new car, but don’t buy a scrap one as that would need regular expensive repairs. The best places to get a car are from private owners selling on Auto Trader and the like. A car should run economically to make it worth it, so look online for cars that are the most economical in petrol consumption and are about 8-10 years old. A Nissan Micra was bought about a year ago for £1000, a very economic model, and it hasn’t had any repairs or problems so far. Yet a car bought for £750 needed repairs every six months and ended up as scrap. Do be careful and examine it for rust and weaknesses. Make sure you test drive it for any faults. Ask its fuel consumption rate and price of any recent repairs. All these will reduce the cost of running it.
  • You are probably thinking ‘what about the insurance?’ Yes car insurances are expensive but use a search engine such as to find the cheapest insurance. Some companies will ask you to put a tracker under your car to reduce the insurance. You can save about £100 a year by attaching a tracker alone.
  • Printing your photos and printouts can be expensive when done in libraries and shops, especially if you print a lot like me. Buy a printer and use photo paper bought in a pack from stationers to print your photos. For printing don’t use the same brand ink as your printer. It would cost you a fortune! Buy online and in some shops where you can buy a different brand worth £60 if the same brand as your printer, but for £7.50 if different. That is the cost of not just one cartridge but 4! Individual cartridges can be as low as £2. They have the same ink. If a sign comes up on your printer that the unrecognised ink could degrade print quality or damage the computer then ignore it. You will find evidence online to prove that this is just the printer manufacturer’s way of making you give more money to line their pockets with instead of your own!
  • Finally. How many days a week do you eat meat and potato of varying forms and skip the vegetables? Vegetables should for a healthy diet take up 1/3 of your plate in each meal. They help nutrients from other foods to be absorbed and balance moods. Try having a vegetable meal three times a week to reduce the meat bill and increase your well-being. Fried vegetable rice made in a little oil, or homemade quiche are examples. Another tip is to cut down takeaways and junk food as they are not only unhealthy, but also costly. Eating in more days a week will cut those food bills too. When out for a meal ask for tap water as bottled is expensive as are alcoholic drinks that damage your liver.

I hope you enjoyed learning these tips and apply them. Try for every saving action that kids do such as closing the door, or unplugging, by putting money in a piggy bank. Have one yourself too. If you are a smoker you can reward yourself with 10 pence every time you skip a cigarette. It soon mounts up. Then go and spend it on special day/days out, or that item you or the kids have longed for. Enjoy!

M. A. Fatta

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.

Top 7 Tips for Looking After Your Land Rover Freelander

Land Rover Freelanders need a little more care and attention than many modern day vehicles, but if you give it that little extra love it should reward you well by keeping away what could potentially be very costly repair bills.

So here are our top 7 pits for looking after your Freelander:

  1. Check your water regularly. This tip is particularly important with the petrol Freelanders but is certainly worth doing with any Freelander. Check your water level preferably once a week and before you go on any long journey and you will find you can soon tell if your Freelander is using more water than usual and get the problem seen to before it does serious damage to your engine.
  2. Change your viscous coupling unit (VCU) every 70,000 miles. This tip will save you thousands on having to replace other parts of the drive train because they got damage by running your viscous coupling unit (VCU) beyond its useable life. Don’t wait for any symptoms, by that time it could be too late, just bite the bullet and make sure you change that viscous coupling unit (VCU) every 70,000 miles.
  3. Service your Freelander regularly. I know this is important for any vehicle but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be reiterating it as one of the most important tips for looking after your Freelander. And don’t just give it a simple oil change service, the diesel model in particular has some very important filters that need to be changed regularly – if you don’t change these you could ruin your whole engine!
  4. Use the red coolant – no other colour! The red coolant’s composition is right for the Freelander engines, don’t put any other coolant in there, thinking they are all the same.
  5. For the 1.8 litre petrol Freelander make sure it is fitted with a multi-layer head gasket, preferably the modified / uprated ones. If your Freelander still has the old single layer gasket fitted then don’t wait for it to blow – change it NOW, it’ll be much cheaper that way.
  6. Check your oil regularly. Again a tip that should be obvious for any driver but it is amazing how often we don’t follow it! Don’t just check the level of the oil, take the cap off and check there is no water getting into it (if this is the case your oil would look creamy, and you would often get this creamy residue on the inside of the filler cap.)
  7. Check for any oil leaks on the IRD unit (transfer box) and the rear differential. I know, especially in the winter, we don’t really want to get down on the ground and look underneath our cars, but it is certainly worth doing it every once in a while. Have a quick look at the IRD unit (transfer box) connected to the front of your prop shaft, and the rear differential connected to the rear of your prop shaft, and make sure there are no leaks.

Most of these tips will take up less than five minutes once a week on your Freelander, but they could save you thousands in unexpected repair bills!

Leather Repair – How to Repair a Worn Leather Steering Wheel

I wrote a post a while back about how to repair a worn leather steering wheel and have gotten a lot of traffic to it but to be honest with you it’s what I call a quick fix, not a good permanent fix like what a person really needs in this business. So today I’m gonna write it a little different and give the right way to repair a worn leather steering wheel.

All the leather in today’s vehicles are being dyed with a water based dye. It’s not only safer for the environment, which we all know is really big right now, but it’s also more flexible and better for the leather itself.

My last post I wrote I gave you a quick fix using a solvent based dye. Now I’m not saying that if you were in a pinch that using a solvent based would be a bad thing, but like I said it’s a quick fix, nothing you would really want to do for a customer that’s expecting a long lasting repair.

The basic’s are the same as far as the use of a drop cloth to avoid over spray getting on the instrument panel, and the prepping is kinda the same too. But what I’m here to do is to show the right way to do this.

So with that said here we go.

After you’ve put your drop cloth behind the steering wheel, wrapping it around so that no over spray will get where you don’t want it to, take a scotch brite pad and my prepping solution and clean the leather steering wheel really good making sure you get the back of the steering wheel too. Nothing bugs me more the to see a steering wheel that has been repaired and all they have done is repaired the front. When you look through the windshield from the outside what do you see, umm the back of the steering wheel, so clean all the way around.

Once you have it clean, it’s time to address the wear that has been done to the leather.

If the leather has frayed then that frayness (not sure if that’s a word but it fits) needs to be sanded down smooth. You do this with a combination of the use of different grits of sandpaper, dry and wet sanding, and the use of leather filling compounds.

What I will do is start with a heavier grit, 240 usually but sometimes even a 120 to get there a little quicker. Wet the paper with my prepping solution and start sanding. The prepping solution will break through the dye that is already there and actually smear around bit, use this to your advantage, it kinda works as a filler and helps to smooth things out quicker. Sand until it becomes dry. Then move up to a finer grit like 400, and do the same. If it’s not as smooth as you want then move up to an even finer grit sandpaper like a 600. At this time you can still use the wet sanding technique or you can dry sand it, this will depend on the amount of damage your dealing with.

Once you have the area fairly smooth, you need to seal the leather with your water based grip base, this will not only help your compounds to stick better but make your repair easier to work with and last a lot longer in the end. I do this by taking my grip base in a small squirt bottle and put a small amount onto a folded wet paper towel then wiping it over the leather steering wheel.

After you have sealed the leather it’s time to break out your leather repair compounds. Now I have found that applying it with your finger is the easiest then trying to use a pallet knife, kinda hard to curve your pallet knife around such a tight curve. Compounds that I use the most on leather steering wheels is the old Leather Crack Filler or I’ll use Viper Products Leather Extreme Fill. Both work really well with applying it with your finger and both stay put really well too. I mostly use the Leather Crack Filler first then if I need to fill smaller imperfections then I’ll use the Leather Extreme Fill. I’ve found that the Leather Crack fill just works the best, it sands out nicely as well as stays put when sanding too.

The biggest thing to remember in repairing a worn leather steering wheel is to get it as smooth as possible, the less amount of leather repair compounds you use the better. It’s just less to go wrong later and you have a better chance of the dyes sticking in the end.

One other tip I can give you is on the Chrysler leather steering wheels and it’s on these only I have found this. Not really sure why they do this but they do. The dye actually balls up and makes the steering wheel look really rough. You can sand this if you want but I have found a better way of dealing with this without wearing your arm out trying to sand the dye down smooth. Take a terry cloth towel and some lacquer thinner and rub the dye off with the lacquer thinner soaked towel. This will take it right down to the leather and make it nice and smooth. Sometimes you will have to sand a bit after wards to get the raw leather smooth but you will surprised at the time and energy this will save you. Once your done you can fill and seal the raw leather then dye to match.

After all the imperfections are sanded, filled and smooth, you will need to prep the leather for dye. I will wipe the leather steering wheel down with my prepping solution careful not to rub the filler out then apply another coat of grip base. This ensures the dye will stick and not come off later down the road.

Now it’s time to apply your water based dye to match.

You can do this a couple of ways, either wipe it on or spray it on with either a paint gun or a preval. I almost always spray my dyes, it just seems to look better in the end and less dye is wasted, but that is totally up to you. I have found it’s easier to also run the vehicle while your dying the leather steering wheel because you can position the wheel where you need it and your not trying to dye with your gun upside down. Remember the back of the leather steering wheel too 🙂

Some people after dying will stop and call it good, which is OK because the dyes I use are ready to spray and really don’t need anything else. But I like to topcoat all my dyes with a clear water based topcoat, to me it just gives more of a barrier to wear and makes the repair last longer. I use a low gloss topcoat applied with a spray gun just like the dye.

Now I still don’t stop there either…This is a little trick I came up with kinda on my own. I found that some of the leather steering wheels after being repaired and dyed just felt dry and didn’t look natural. What I do is apply a water based leather conditioner and then I apply a leather wax or chap wax. What this does is not only restore the oils lost in the repair process but make the leather steering wheel look and feel factory. The wax also protects the leather from water and lotions that may get on there later. It just makes the leather look and feel new again!

Products that I use in all my repairs are from one of I think is the best on the market, Viper Products. I have used a lot of different products in the past and have found Viper has a higher performance dye and compounds then any other I’ve used before. So go check them out, I really think you will be impressed!

Well I hope this helps more then my last post on how to repair a leather steering wheel. Just remember to take your time when doing any repair and use a water based dye on the leather, not only is it safer for you and everybody else but I promise you it will look better in the end and last a lot longer which is what you wanted in the first place.