Articles:

Easy ways to avoid a highway breakdown

Looks like weather in Overland Park, Kansas will be great for the holiday weekend! If you’re packing your bags to go on a road trip there are a few things you can do to help ensure your safe arrival. Don’t ignore warning lights! If your engine maintenance light or any of your preventive maintenance auto dash lights are on, now is not the time to hit the highway. The stress of a long-distance drive at high summer temperatures may be what pushes the reminder to a full-blown auto repair emergency. Check your tires. Really—when was the last time you took a good look at your tire wear? Or checked the pressure in your spare tire? Check your fluid levels. The proper amount of oil, transmission fluid, coolant, or washer fluid could be the difference between a great weekend and a day at the auto repair shop. Pack an emergency kit. Nothing is more miserable than a car full of hungry/thirsty passengers who are wishing to be anywhere but on the side of the highway. At the v ... read more

Perfect gift for the motoring mom

If you’re reading this a day or two before Mother’s Day, I’m pretty sure you’re desperate for something quick and/or cheap for a special mom. I have an idea that is guaranteed to fit and probably won’t cost a thing: a vehicle safety check. If you don’t even know how to lift the hood of a car you can still do this. Start by checking her tire pressure. Even the most un-mechanical mom has a tire pressure gauge in the glove compartment. If she does not, you can pick one up at any local discount store or drugstore. The tire pressure the engineers designed the car for can be found on the sticker on the driver’s doorjamb. If it’s low, run to a gas station and fill it up—but be careful not to overfill, especially with the hot days we have in the forecast next week. Check her wiper blades for wear. If they are faded, splitting or tearing find an auto parts store and get the best pair you can afford. Quality does matter here and you want to be sure she can see in any blinding Overla ... read more

Four easy ways to avoid pothole damage

Four easy ways to avoid pothole damage

When you’re tooling down the highway (or even an Overland Park thruway like 87th Street near New Concept Auto Service) and suddenly see a pothole looming up ahead, what do you do? Do you hit the brakes? Do you swerve? Do you brace yourself? Do you curse? Do you pray? Here are four easy ways to avoid hitting those dastardly holes and creating a need for costly repairs to your vehicle. Be an eagle eye. The best way to spot a pothole is to watch the cars in front of you (like you are supposed to be doing). Cars will dip, swerve, and/or brake. In spring in Kansas City, if you see cars hitting their brake lights, or everyone is making the same move at the same spot, there’s likely a pothole ahead. Go full speed ahead. If the impact is inevitable, resist the urge to hit your brakes. When you apply your brakes the front of your car will dip and the car experiences what’s called weight transfer. This means if your car weighs 4,000 pounds when you are driving at a steady spee ... read more

Is your classic ready to hit the road?

Is your classic ready to hit the road?

Although I heard the mention of snow in the Overland Park forecast for next week, I’m going out on a limb and guessing you are more than ready to get your classic car prepped for warm weather driving. There is more to it than removing the tarp and checking the oil! First, do a visual inspection. Walk around the car checking for anything amiss, like leaking fluids. Check under the hood for popped connectors or hoses because this may indicate damage caused by frozen water. Look for cracks or even hoses that are too hard. Be sure to remove any rodent blockers you cleverly installed last fall like paper towels stuffed in the exhaust pipe. You don’t want the mice to have the last laugh when you forget to remove that! Take a good look at your tires. Check for wear—it may be time for an alignment. Also look for dry rot and foreign objects which may have lodged in the tire over the course of the winter. Top off to the correct PSI and make sure the spare is ready to use! While you ... read more

Categories:

Classic Cars

Changing a tire safely (Part II)

Today, at my Overland Park auto repair shop, we have the luxury of using five-ton, two post hydraulic lifts which are very safe provided the vehicle is staged properly. We even use custom-made hickory blocks to safely set a vehicle just right. If we use a floor jack or bottle jack, we always place a metal jack stand under as a backup, whether we are crawling under the car or not. All our floors are level, so if you are doing this at home on a slope, always block the wheels at the other end. A front wheel drive will roll if you jack up the front, a rear wheel drive if you jack up the rear. Here is something else to think about. A three-legged stool is steadier than a four-legged one, but a car is shaped like a rectangle. So if you raise a car in the air and place a jack stand at each corner under the solid frame, you may find one of the jack stands is not holding anything. Very unsafe! This is because car frames are stronger than one might think and the floor may not be perfectly leve ... read more

Changing a tire safely (Part I)

Changing a tire safely (Part I)

I started working on car repair and maintenance unsupervised at the age of 13. My uncle Donnie, who was the chief mechanic at my dad’s farm implement dealership, taught me valuable lessons on properly using jacks, chains and come-alongs. I have always been impressed by the power of leverage and hydraulics. This knowledge can be lifesaving and very handy when working on your own car in your garage or driveway. I was first inspired by watching my uncle replace a worn-out combine axle bearing in a wheat field in western Kansas. A for-hire wheat harvester AKS “customer cutter” had a front axle bearing grind itself up in the field and finally came to a halt. My uncle, being the field mechanic for my dad, assessed the situation and told the farmer to bring his massive 4×4 Steiger tractor and the longest chain he could find. We had a few short chains, come-alongs, a large (but not large enough) bottle jack, and a pile of railroad ties in the service truck. The farmer pulled ... read more

Know your tow rope etiquette (Part II)

I surely missed being around for this week’s snow. Our Overland Park auto service received record amounts of the white stuff but it appears most people took warnings seriously and stayed home. Here are a few funny stories from times when people did not stay home! One time I helped a couple stuck in a large Overland Park parking lot drift that kept getting deeper as they drove into it. (Let off the gas if your tires spin applies here– and don’t panic.) I was pulling him in reverse and soon as the van broke free he gunned it, heading right for my truck. I gunned it too, and swung my truck out of the way and he whizzed by in reverse. Luckily the tow rope fell loose and he was set free. I also ask, “Have you ever been pulled out of the snow before?” If they say, “Yes, every time it snows,” I may be dealing with a repeat offender and use more caution here. When people are a half a block from home they can get pretty frustrated and not listen. I helped one woman with ... read more

Know your tow rope etiquette (Part I)

Know your tow rope etiquette (Part I)

Growing up in western Kansas with parents who owned a farm implement dealership, I was given the job helping people get their stuck cars out of the snow. At the time it was just a chore assigned by my mother, but now I see how much fun it really was. Here in Overland Park, on rare occasion I get the opportunity to relive those times. Not for money, just for fun–and I really enjoy it. I have a four-wheel drive 1990 Ford F150 which I brought back from the dead years ago, after rebuilding the engine, transmission and both differentials, etc. It is our official New Concept Auto Service shop truck (complete with a little rust). After a big snowstorm, I like to help my neighbors out of the snow. Last Thursday, all the employees of our Overland Park auto service made it to work, but as the snow began to fiercely pile up, I sent everyone home. I hung around to monitor the phone. I did follow one of my ASE techs down 87th Street to make sure he got on I-35 toward Olathe. As he made in o ... read more

Public speaking: Facing the abyss

Public speaking: Facing the abyss

I envy people who can stand up in front of a small or large group of people and just talk. In my Kansas grade school for the Christmas play one year I was dressed like a toy soldier with short black pants, white socks and oversized cotton gloves. At the end of the performance my assignment was to face the audience and say, “Cookies and punch will be served after the play.” Not a speaking role, just more of a public service announcement. During the play, I just had to march around with a wooden rifle. One of the older boys, Tim, who liked to tease, kept telling me my socks were showing. I kept saying they are supposed to. I would walk away and inch my pants down a little with each comment. For the life of me I could not memorize the line, so the music teacher gave me a half sheet of paper with the short but informative sentence. I didn’t know how to fold it, so I just wadded it up with my big gloves. When the time came, I made my best little military “right fac ... read more

Categories:

Team New Concept

Five ways to help your car in the bitter cold

It was 14 degrees F at New Concept Auto Service when I unlocked the doors this morning. Although some might not consider that bitter cold, here in Overland Park, Kansas, I think it qualifies! Here are some tips to help ensure your car will start for your frigid morning commute: Fill your tank. Stick with regular grade fuel and make sure your engine has a good tune-up. Premium fuel is a good product and I use it in some of my personal cars. However, it has no specific benefit for cold starting. Premium fuel has a higher octane rating. Higher octane fuel creates less pre-ignition or pinging in the engine especially during hot weather. Unless your car specifically calls for premium fuel, just use regular in the cold weather. Also, ethanol works well in cold weather. Gas stations, especially in metropolitan areas, contain up to 10 percent ethanol as mandated by the EPA. Check the pump and if you have a choice, use the 10 percent ethanol in the cold weather. (E85 gas pumps ... read more

Categories:

Cold Weather