63
votes
17answers
97k views

Does Downshifting (Engine Braking) Cause Extra Wear and Tear?

Does the act of downshifting to slow your vehicle down have any negative side affects? I don't downshift more than one or two gears at a time and I let out on the clutch slow enough that I don't rev ...
58
votes
9answers
24k views

What are the benefits of premium (high octane) petrol?

Here in the UK it's common for petrol (gas) stations to offer both regular and "premium" unleaded petrol. The premium stuff is (naturally) more expensive, and I've often wondered what the actual ...
56
votes
9answers
37k views

Does the amount of fuel in the tank matter?

As long as there is some fuel in the tank, does the fuel level matter? In other words, is it advisable to make sure the tank is mostly full most of the time, or is this just silly? In other words, are ...
49
votes
15answers
230k views

Should I resurface or replace my rotors everytime I replace brake pads?

I have heard it is proper practice to replace or resurface your brake rotors every time your do a brake pad replacement. Does this need to be done every single time or is it overkill? Maybe it is ...
46
votes
7answers
6k views

What to check when buying a used car?

I'm looking to buy a used car. What do you think I should check (mechanically) before buying it (especially if it's diesel)?
44
votes
6answers
2k views

How to maintain a sometimes-used vehicle?

My daily commute changed from 9 miles to 9 feet when I started working remotely. That means I very rarely drive my car much. After a particularly hectic month, I didn't drive for about 4 weeks and ...
41
votes
5answers
148k views

Why does my A/C blow foul smelling air when it first turns on?

Most of the time when I first turn on the A/C in our 2008 Toyota Sienna, the air that blows out has a very distinct chemical - nasty smell. After a while it seems to go away. I'm not sure if I just ...
38
votes
5answers
100k views

How long does it take for gas to go bad?

Approximately how long does it take for unleaded gasoline in the tank and fuel lines to become unusable in a car that is not being used? What causes this, and what can be done to prevent or remedy ...
36
votes
6answers
6k views

Why do heavy vehicles almost always use diesel engines?

I have always wondered why heavy vehicles such as large trucks and buses almost always use diesel engines, whereas in light cars there is a choice between diesel and gasoline engines. Engine ...
35
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the most efficient method of getting your car unstuck from snow?

If your car is stuck in snow and you don't have any chains, what can be done to get it out? This can be an unnerving problem to have and it happens pretty easily with normal driving on ice. You wind ...
34
votes
12answers
4k views

Best way to clean inside of windshield?

The inside of my windshield has a thin layer of grime. When the light hits it a certain way, it drastically reduces my visibility. I have used glass cleaner with clean microfiber car cloths and ...
32
votes
4answers
28k views

Reviving a vehicle that has been idle for a long time.

Some related topics: How to maintain a sometimes-used vehicle? How long does it take for gas to go bad? The first related topic addresses preparing a vehicle for long-term disuse, and maintaining ...
31
votes
3answers
30k views

Is there a way to put Prius with dead battery into neutral?

I own a 2010 Prius. It has a dead battery, front facing forward in my garage. I do not have long enough jumper cables. I’ve searched the Internet. Did Toyota really create a car that cannot be put ...
29
votes
5answers
6k views

Is tire rotation important?

I just bought new tires for my car and included was free tire rotation every 7,500 miles for the life of the tires. I have heard many things about tire rotation, including: it's a worthless ...
28
votes
9answers
6k views

What actually happens when there is not enough oil in a car engine?

When a car is topped up with oil, it clear to most people that you are supposed to fill it to the recommended amount as specified by the manufacturer (normally on a dip stick). What exactly are all ...
27
votes
9answers
40k views

Is it necessary to 'burn in' or 'break in' a new car?

I've just bought a new 2011 plate car. I've heard stories of people 'burning in' engines for the first few hundred or couple thousand miles using methods such as: Not driving above 50 mph. Varying ...
27
votes
3answers
10k views

Difference between FWD/RWD/4WD/Part-Time 4WD/AWD?

I'm curious as to what are the particular difference between the various drive systems available in modern vehicles. FWD and RWD are pretty straightforward - Front Wheel Drive cars put the power to ...
26
votes
3answers
9k views

Jump starting a dead battery: Connect black wire to negative pole of battery or grounded metal?

Most of the advice I've seen for jump starting cars instructs to connect the black wire to a bare piece of metal on the car with the dead battery. However, I've always just hooked up both poles to the ...
24
votes
4answers
45k views

How far can I drive with 1 gallon too much oil?

I have way too much oil in my Acura TSX. Do I need to take care of it without turning it on or can I drive it to a service station? If I need to do it in place, I don't have the ramps or a pan or ...
24
votes
2answers
7k views

Do I have an oil leak if I have to add oil?

I don't change the oil all that often (maybe every 8000 miles) and on my 10 year old car the oil light comes on and I need to add a quart or two (and then I start thinking I practically changed the ...
24
votes
7answers
238k views

what is the difference between DOT3 and DOT4 brake fluids?

What is the difference between DOT3 and DOT4 brake fluids? What could possibly go wrong if I use a (4 times cheaper) DOT3 brake fluid instead of the DOT4 which manufacturer recommends (but allows ...
24
votes
2answers
2k views

How to deal with rust

I accidentally drove my car over a curb a while back. As you probably already know, the car suffered from minor scratches and dents on the bottom side, near the rear tyre. Now, I've noticed that it's ...
23
votes
1answer
11k views

Why does the reverse gear in manual transmission cars sound different

When I got a manual transmission car (2003 Kia Rio) I noticed that it makes a winding sound in the reverse gear. Here is an example video that I found that demonstrates the sound. ...
23
votes
1answer
1k views

Why are the blades of old car radiator fans unevenly spaced?

Fans that look like this: Is it to somehow help the balance of the engine?
22
votes
6answers
78k views

Pros/cons of higher capacity car battery?

I'm shopping for a new car battery for 1998 Subaru Outback (2.5l). For the physical dimensions the battery has to match, I see some variance in capacity (Ah) rating, and in price too, of course. The ...
22
votes
3answers
3k views

Why does a gas engines torque and horsepower curve always meet at 5252 RPM?

I'm watching a TV show called Tech Garage and they just made the claim that an engines torque and horsepower curves always meet at 5252 RPM. Assuming this is true, why does this happen? Is it ...
22
votes
3answers
97k views

What does a water-like drop coming out of the exhaust of the car signify?

Sometimes while driving in the traffic, I come across a car or two which would be dripping water-like drop from it's exhaust steadily in a break of 4-5 seconds. I tried to ask a couple of people at ...
22
votes
6answers
1k views

When is a cold air intake system beneficial?

Cold air intake must be one of the popular mods there is, and one subject to the most controversy as well. Manufacturers of such systems advertise 5-20 HP gains, yet there are claims that this mod ...
22
votes
1answer
3k views

What's the Purpose of Park on an Automatic Transmission?

When one wants to park a manual transmission (MTX) vehicle, one puts it in neutral, and engages the emergency / parking brake. With an ATX vehicle, the practice I've learned is to put it in Park, and ...
22
votes
1answer
2k views

Changing Firing Order in a 4 Cylinder Car

Backstory In motorcycling you can get cams that change the firing order and time from a traditional 1,3,4,2. It's was very common in American roadracing in the 1990's to hear 4 Cylinder engines that ...
21
votes
8answers
198k views

What is the difference between normal, platinum, iridium plugs?

What is the difference (besides price) between normal, platinum, and iridium spark plugs?
21
votes
8answers
60k views

Will higher octane fuel improve gas mileage?

I've heard from some people that high octane fuel will increase gas mileage. Around here, we have the basic unleaded(87), mid-grade(89), and premium(93 or 91). I've been using the basic 87 unleaded ...
21
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the technical reason the engineer decided the motorcycle gear pattern as follows?

The gear pattern is selected by clicking a lever with your left foot, and is typically laid out as follows: 6th gear (if applicable) 5th gear 4th gear 3rd gear 2nd gear NEUTRAL 1st gear What ...
20
votes
10answers
311k views

How should I remove a paint scuff on my vehicle?

The painted edge of a side mirror on another car recently scraped the side of my vehicle, leaving a scuff of paint about half a meter long. There is no indentation or scratch, but the other vehicle ...
20
votes
3answers
4k views

Will engine braking damage my transmission? How can I tell?

I drive a manual transmission '08 Honda Fit. On my daily 17 mile commute to work, there are three long hills that I can coast down, each about a half mile long. Going down these hills, I've done two ...
20
votes
4answers
4k views

Why do pickups and large SUV's use 4x4 and generally not AWD?

In almost every case I can think of, the larger vehicles with four wheel power are 4x4, and the smaller ones AWD. As far as my experience goes, AWD is much more convenient, and also works at least as ...
19
votes
4answers
3k views

How do I test my car battery?

My car still starts fine but when I turn off the car (just the motor . . the key is still in and "on") I noticed the headlights dim to almost off. It's and older car and the headlights don't turn off ...
19
votes
3answers
6k views

Static vs. Effective compression: Why does higher effective compression not require higher octane gas?

Background I've been trying to do a lot of research on boost lately because I'm planning on running a moderate turbo setup on my daily/light-duty-autox car in the future. I'm trying to get into the ...
19
votes
7answers
112k views

Running with straight water as coolant in the summer. Is it fine?

I grew up flushing the coolant twice yearly. In the Spring, you drain the antifreeze and fill with straight water for the summer. In the Fall, you drain the water and put in a 50/50 antifreeze/water ...
19
votes
2answers
1k views

Why do two-stroke engine exhaust pipes look so strange?

Two stroke gasoline engine exhaust pipes are shaped strange. They expand into a wide diameter and then shrink down to a very small diameter where the exhaust gasses emerge into the environment. Why ...
19
votes
6answers
21k views

Is Start & Stop technology good or bad for my car? (Alfa MiTO)

I was recently in the lucky position to obtain an (almost brand new) Alfa Romeo MiTo, Progression. Like many new cars coming out these days, it has "Start & Stop" technology that turns the engine ...
18
votes
8answers
124k views

What's the point of the D3 gear in an automatic transmission?

My Honda Civic has a D gear and a D3, which apparently prevents it from going into 4th. Why would I want to do this? What is it good for? Does it make my fuel efficiency better or worse? Does it ...
18
votes
3answers
5k views

What differences between synthetic and dino oil?

What are the main differences between synthetic and dino oil, and is one always better than the other?
18
votes
2answers
8k views

Why doesn't anyone ever repair an automatic transmission?

I am old enough to have had about four transmission failures spaced over about 40 years and at no time did any mechanic ever offer to “fix” it; the only diagnosis has been a complete rebuild. This is ...
18
votes
6answers
16k views

How old is too old for a new tire?

When shopping for new tires from tirerack.com, the production date of the tires is listed. I'm considering tires from a 2007 production run, which would make them around 5 years old today (after ...
18
votes
2answers
27k views

Is starting your car with the A/C on bad?

I was always yelled at by my father when I was first starting to drive when I left the A/C on when I turned off the car, and then later turned it back on, with the reasoning that I was ruining / ...
17
votes
11answers
141k views

What happens if a single spark plug unexpectedly goes down in a multi-cylinder engine?

AFAIK vehicle manuals say owner must replace spark plugs every N miles. Suppose he fails to do so and a single spark plug unexpectedly dies in an engine with multiple cylinders right in a freeway. ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

How do you un-seize an engine?

I have an older engine that is seized. It is a 1953 Desoto Hemi. How can I un-seize it? I have sprayed Sea Foam Deep Creep down the plugs and let sit for weeks. As well as transmission fluid. To no ...
17
votes
9answers
62k views

What is the best way to remove a stuck/rusted exhaust bolt?

I'm trying to disassemble the exhaust system on a 2000-2003 nissan maxima and I'm having trouble removing one last bolt.. its got a 14mm head and its just plain STUCK. I've tried soaking it overnight ...
17
votes
7answers
89k views

Is idling bad for your engine?

If I sit in my car for 30-40 minutes with the AC and the car idling, does that "hurt" the engine, or does it simply waste gas and pollute the air? Would it be better if I turned off the car? A ...

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