just clueless

Customize your vehicle!

Few of us really want to blend in to a crowd. That’s why we spend a lot of time and money customizing our homes, wardrobe, and even our phone cases!

And if you’re struggling in the parking lot trying to figure out just which car is yours, then maybe it’s time you start giving your automobile that same customized treatment. 

Break away from the crowd with these customizable ideas that are sure to make your vehicle stand out and make passers by say “wow”!

Change up the headlights! : Unless you have a higher end car such as an Audi, the factory headlights on your vehicle are probably pretty plain and boring. Try finding some halo projectors or other great looking headlights for your car instead to instantly change up it’s look! Halo projectors, for instance, will also will be an improvement for night driving. 

Play with interior lighting: every vehicle I have owned has had led lights inside, giving the car a nice glow. This is especially great if your car has a dark interior. You’ll never have to worry about losing pennies and small items to the bottom of your car again. You can find interior led kits for as low as $20 online, and the process of installation isn’t too difficult. And I do have to say, most people who ride in my car at night are definitely jealous. 

Tint it up: Tinting your windows is a great way to instantly make your car look a lot fancier than it actually is. But beyond the visual appeal, it also will protect you from prying eyes and the beating sun. It can be pricey getting them done professionally, and even more of a pain in the ass to do it by hand, bu window tinting services is often on Groupon for a fair price. 

Change up the Rims: This one can be tricky. If you do it right, your car will look fresh, updated, and fancy. But, do it wrong and you’re going to look like a total idiot. I can’t tell you how many times I have laughed at moronic people who put chrome rims on a minivan. Pick out new rims that will compliment your car, not rims that are meant for a Lamborghini. 

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DIY: fixing minor scratches

Last tuesday I overslept, quickly got changed into my work clothes, and headed out the door with a bagel hanging out of my mouth.

So basically, it was a normal tuesday.

That is, up until I somehow grazed the side of my car while backing out of the garage. I heard the scratching of the paint and instantly let out a slew of expletives that are too vile to even bother listing.

Luckily I didn’t bend or dent the frame, but I was left with a scuff and a nice sliver taken out of the paint. Oh, and some extremely annoying white residue.

My Mustang – my child – damaged!

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I took her to the local auto body shop to get an estimate, and they told me it would be over $700 dollars to just fill in some chips on the front bumper and repaint it (something I’ve actually been wanting to do for a while, because my car has road chips that are bugging the living hell out of me).

…But over $700? Are you kidding? For that price I could buy an entire new bumper. And I just spent $1500 on a new puppy, aint nobody got money for dat.

The silver lining here was that they informed me that most of the white residue could actually come off, meaning that my side fender (which was also scratched where it connects to the bumper) wouldn’t have to be repainted at all. And if they could easily get that off, then why can’t I?

This weekend I had some free time before work, So I spent my time trying to fix the damage. And honestly, for a DIY job, it turned out pretty well. My dad helped with the process, and gave me a few good ideas on how to treat the area, including using nail polish remover. Honestly, that idea scared me… not for the fact that i’d be putting something so corrosive on my car, but actually because my nails were recently done.

So, without further adieu, here are my steps for getting some minor scratches and blemishes off your precious ride:

1. Prep the area. Wash down the area that you are trying to fix. For me, I just washed the entire car because she needed a good wash.

2. Bring out the nail polish! The white residue on my car was due to the fact that I grazed a white garage. If you’ve grazed something (or something grazed you) it’s usually going to be the color of whatever that object was that made contact with your vehicle. Apply nail polish remover to a clean rag, and slowly (but with some pressure) wipe the affected area in a circular motion. If you’re lucky, you should see the residue disappear. But if you have nail polish on like I did, yeah… that’s also going to disappear.

3. Wash down the area again: You don’t want the nail polish remover to stay on your paint. As soon as you are done, QUICKLY wash down the area again with soap and water to get the remainder of the nail polish remover off.

4. Time for a wax! No, ladies, not for you. Car wax does a wonderful job of getting rid of blemishes that your car has, such as light scratches and annoying circular patterns.It fills in the scratches and not only evens the paint out, but protects it. If waxing your car isn’t something you are already doing, then I highly recommend making it a habit. Time consuming? Yes, but you’ll see wonderful results.

5. 3M scratch remover. Available at auto stores and sorta like wax, 3M scratch remover fills in the scratches and bonds to your paint. Put some on a rag and firmly rub into the affected area until its dry. You may have to do this a few more times before you see the results you want, depending on the extent of the damage.

6. See the results!

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As you can see from my car, all that ugly white residue has disappeared. All that’s left unfortunately is the deep scratch that I can’t really fix, and another scuff. I will still be getting my front bumper professional fixed and repainted, but at least for the mean time the damage is less noticeable.

Thoughts or suggestions? Leave a comment! I’m always interested in seeing new and innovative ways to fix up my car.

Change your own damn oil: PT 2

I recently had a post titled “Change your own damn oil”, where I spoke about the importance of doing the job yourself compared to going to Jiffy Lube (aka hell on earth).

However, I didn’t focus much on the actual process of changing your oil.

If you’re still feeling clueless about how the job is actually done, check out this awesome video tutorial below!

How to change a flat tire

There’s nothing I love more than driving around with the windows down, drinking my tea, and singing (poorly) along to Pharrel’s “Happy” on the radio. That is, until a vicious encounter with a hidden pothole makes me the opposite of Pharrel’s hit jam.

Normally when this happens I just splutter a few expletives, hope I didn’t damage the car, and go on my merry way. But occasionally, I hear that dreaded thump that means only one thing: I have a flat.

Honestly, It’s really not that difficult to change a tire. It’s more of a pain in the ass than anything, especially when you’re dressed nice and you just got your nails done.

But I was honestly shocked at how many of my female friends have absolutely no clue how to change their tires.

So, if you find yourself in the same spot, check out this blogger’s post about how to successfully change your tire. This post does a fantastic job in outlying the steps that are required in order to do the job right.

The post does mention that you may need to pry off the hubcap, but this is only on some vehicles that make it difficult to get to the lug nuts. For my car, for instance, all i need to do is twist off my lug nut covers and then use a tire iron to remove the lug nuts. Don’t pointlessly rip off your rims.

If you don’t already have a car jack and tire iron stored in your car, I would highly suggest investing in that. I keep both stored in the trunk with my spare tire just in case the situation arises where I need to fix my own flat or help out a more unprepared friend with theirs.

It’s better to be prepared. After all, if you’re a woman the last thing you’re going to want to deal with is being stranded in a sketchy place (I’d rather not be kidnapped, thanks).

It would be best to practice taking off your tire and putting it back on at home when you get a chance. This will get you familiarized with the process, and you can get back on the road A LOT quicker.

Still a pain in the ass, but feel free to reward yourself with a nice drink later!

 

In Memoriam: Ford Mustang, 1964-2014

It is with great sadness that I must announce the end of not only a friend of mine, but an era. For years, she set the standard for what an American muscle car should be:  intimidating, powerful, and, above all else, mean.

She had been the apple of my eye since childhood, and was my main goal throughout my teenage years.

But now she no longer exists. She is lost to us, stranded in the echelons of cliched curvature and design.

A new car emerges from her absence that dares to take on the title of “Mustang”, yet we, lovers of Mustangs all over, know exactly what has replaced her: the Ford Fusion coupe (seen below).

As paining as the loss of our once glorious Mustang is, her memory shall indeed still live in the hearts and minds of owners and lovers everywhere. So today, I leave with you all a visual reminder of her days, and hope with you all that one day, Ford will bring the Mustang back to it’s former, unique glory.

Farewell, my once loyal friend… I knew thee well.

WTF Wednesday: Brake Calipers

I previously attempted to feature new insight into wheels and how they work with “Wheels Wednesday”.

But in all honesty, it was a lazy attempt, not to mention a monotonous one. So for now on (aka for as long as I remember) I’ll be doing “WTF Wednesday” instead.

I often come across many part names and concepts about cars that honestly, I just don’t know what the fuck they are. So I’m going to research these foreign concepts and share with you all my new found knowledge. I feel it my duty to let you all know just what the fuck these concepts are so that we can all be a little more fucking knowledgeable about cars.

Oh, and I may be a little late but…

CAUTION: F-bombs ahead. Proceed to fallout shelter. 

But just like my parents would say… less swearing, more learning.

So without further adieu, I present to you all…

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… this weird, red… thing.

These are called brake calipers. And judging by the title of this blog post, I’m sure most of you already figured that out.

Now, this may be because I’m female, but I always assumed that calipers were more or less a fashion statement for your car. Just like we bring a pop of color to our outfits with bold, statement necklaces, guys bring a little color to their wheels by the means of calipers. So I, looking to add a pop of color to my ride, set out to purchase a pair of bright blue calipers to compliment my car’s dark gray exterior.

Imagine my surprise to find out that calipers have absolutely nothing to do with fashion. And actually, they’re an extremely important component of the car.

Our car’s calipers are more or less responsible for our ability to brake. They create friction with the rotor of the wheel (what makes it spin), which slows it down.

Howstuffworks.com explained it best:

The brake caliper fits over the rotor like a clamp. Inside each caliper is

a pair of metal plates bonded with friction material — these are called brake pads. The outboard brake pads are on the outside of the rotors (toward the curb) and the inboard brake pads on the inside (toward the vehicle). When you step on the brake, brake fluid from the master cylinder creates hydraulic pressure on one or more pistons in the brake caliper, forcing the pads against the rotor. The brake pads have high-friction surfaces and serve to slow the rotor down or even bring it to a complete halt. When the rotor slows or stops, so does the wheel, because they’re attached to one another.

That color we see is actually from the caliper cover, not the caliper itself. Their purpose is to protect the car from brake dust. Not too many cars come equipped with them, and typically you see them most on sports cars.

You can purchase them aftermarket, but expect the same sticker shock that I did when I searched for them. Almost $200? Are you kidding me? If you’re looking for just the color and not really the protection, then purchase a specific spray paint to give your calipers some pizazz.

Oh, and it’s actually affordable. 

Enjoy your new knowledge, and have a great day everyone!

Change your own damn oil

My daddy dearest texted me a few days ago to let me know that “the pony is going to need an oil change soon.” So, I need to go out and buy a new oil filter and oil? Fantastic!

The only plus side to that text message was that for once my dad wasn’t asking me to pick up his coffee and k-cups after work…  A futile request that he knows I will absolutely forget 80% of the time. And why he never stops after leaving his own work remains a mystery to me.

Well, not even two days after receiving that message, my car alerted me to the fact that it soon will need an oil change, and only one reasonable explanation can come forth from this: my dad is the car whisperer.

But I digress!

Truthfully, I must admit that I have never truly changed my own oil. My dad is the go-to man for that in my immediate family, and he takes care of all five of our vehicles personally. He’s always been insistent on doing the job at home by hand, rather than paying someone else to do it. Mention anything about bringing a car to Jiffy Lube to my father and he may just have a mental breakdown.

Well, not everyone shares his (and utimately, our) sentiments. Ivy, a blogger at home-ec101.com, makes the argument in her blog post that changing your own oil is simply a waste.

The regular price for an oil change at the shop I used to work at is currently $18.90. You can often find coupons for $14.90, and occasionally they have coupons for $12.90. They are set up to do oil changes very quickly, with an oil pit down below or at least on a lift. The guys that worked the oil change bay frequently could complete an oil change in about 5 minutes most of the time … Compare that to changing the oil yourself. You have to buy ramps to drive your car up on, an oil wrench, plus you have to buy the oil at about $2.50 per bottle (I’m not 100% certain on this. I haven’t bought oil by the bottle in over 7 years, but my husband who drives a car that has a slight oil leak says this is what oil costs) and an oil filter for between $6 and $10. Consider that the average car requires about 5 quarts of oil and just the oil and filter is going to run more than the coupon price.

True, it can be a little pricier, but my dad’s insistence on doing the job himself isn’t all about the cost. And actually, plenty of automotive part stores, such as Advance Auto Parts, offer bundle deals on oil change kits. You mostly always can get some money off of the filter when you purchase the oil at the same time, as well. But honestly, you could go to a shop or do it yourself, and it still is going to generally be pretty affordable.

The true reason as to why my dad prefers to do the job himself is simple: he has absolutely no trust for shops.

Anytime you go to Jiffy Lube or a similar shop, you run the risk of leaving with more than just a simple oil change. Suddenly all of a sudden that greasy guy working on your car is telling you that you are going to need a new air filter as well, and he’s offering to put a new one in for you for the low price of $50. And if you care anything about your car, then you’re willing to just pay for it right then and there to get it out of the way.

NBC affiliate Channel 4 of Southern California actually investigated into this very matter in order to get some answers in a very eye-opening segment.

They brought an early 2000’s Lexus to a Jiffy Lube for a routine oil change that was advertised as $27.99, and left with a bill over $700.

The mechanic, associate, or whatever the hell you call them at Jiffy Lube told the customer that his Lexus required premium synthetic oil, which alone tripled the price of the oil change. However, Lexus‘s standards for the car state that normal oil works fine.

Then, on top of that, they convinced the customer to let them do a bunch of little repairs on the car, ultimately bringing the price up to that shocking $700 range.

One of my friends is a former employee at Jiffy Lube, and I honestly would never in a million years let him drive my car, let alone work on it. Most of the people hired at these places have little experience (like my friend), and are prone to error. I’ve heard countless stories from friends and family members of oil changes gone wrong, where a screw was missing or they just completely messed something up, leading to hundreds of dollars worth in repairs.

Complex.com noted this problem in a slideshow where they explained the top 10 reasons why you should never go to Jiffy Lube, reason #4 being “new hires aren’t required to have any previous knowledge about cars”.

The entire reason you’re probably taking your car to a garage for an oil change is because you don’t know anything about car maintenance. So why would you leave your car with somebody who has the exact same amount of experience that you do? This is a fact direct from a former Jiffy Lube worker, as he explained you don’t need any education or prior experience to work here. You just need to show up and be numb enough to be able to rip off unsuspecting customers.

My dad has more knowledge about cars in his pinky than these employees have in their entire body. And ultimately, he knows the value of these cars. Those guys working at Jiffy Lube and similiar places are working for a paycheck and can’t wait to leave and go home – they don’t actually care about your vehicle. By doing the job yourself, you’re ensuring that not only is it done right, but with care.

And ultimately, care is what my dad puts into every vehicle he maintains.

This year, I’m going to try to do my own oil change for the first time, using my dads instructions and a little help from the internet. There are plenty of sites, such as Edmunds, that will guide you into how exactly the process is done. And honestly, it doesn’t sound too bad.

So this year, unless it’s too cold and my cowardice stops me from braving it, I’m taking matters into my own hand and getting  the job done myself.

Those guys at the Jiff can save their speech for another ignorant soul, and, hopefully, you’ll be smart enough now to not let it be you.