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What Causes A Car To Overheat? 7 Possible Reasons And How To Keep Your Car Cool

Couple having a heated argument over a broken down car

Your car’s engine needs to remain at an operating temperature of 195 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit to function normally. At the same time, your combustion engine can produce temperatures upwards of 4,500 degrees. If your engine overheats, it spells trouble.

What causes a car to overheat? Usually, a vehicle overheats if one of the many components of your engine’s vital cooling system either begins to struggle or fail. Low coolant levels, faulty thermostats, water pump leaks, and damaged belts can also cause your engine to overheat.

An overheated engine is a serious problem. Just as your body needs to remain within its core temperature range to complete vita functions, so too does your car’s engine. Overheating can lead to:

  • Decreased combustion power
  • Higher emissions
  • Short engine component life
  • Poor fuel efficiency
  • Failed engines

If your car overheats, you need to find the source immediately. We’ll show you why your engine’s temperature soars and how to keep your vehicle cool.

Man wearing black shirt looking at car engine

Image via Pexels

Seven Reasons Your Car Overheats

Has your car overheated in the last few days or weeks? It could be one of these issues. Some of these reasons your engine overheats are easy fixes that you can do at home, but others require the keen eye of your mechanic.

Cooling System Issues

The combustion engine in your vehicle can reach 4,500 degrees Fahrenheit. It goes without saying that your car needs a way to cool down to avoid periodically bursting into flames. The cooling system does just that by pushing the heat away from the engine and outside your vehicle.

Problems with your cooling system, or even failure, is a common culprit in engine overheating. Let your cooling system fail, and you could risk severe damage and even engine failure. Engine failure, in this case, isn’t an if but a when.

Low Oil

Motor oil minimizes the friction between the engine’s moving parts, which in turn manages the temperature. If your oil needs a top up, your engine may start to overheat. Oil leaks are another common culprit and require both repairs and regular oil top ups in the interim.

How do you know if your oil needs a top up? You should check your oil levels weekly to make sure it never gets too low. You’ll check it by turning off your car, waiting for a few minutes and then removing the dipstick. Wipe the dipstick clean and then replace it into its holder and pull it out again. You have enough oil if it falls between the two marks on the dipstick—it varies by model.

Low Coolant

Low levels of coolant contribute directly to issues with overheating.

Your coolant begins and ends its cycle in your radiator, but you don’t need to go into it to check your coolant levels. Instead, look at your coolant reservoir and make sure the liquid reaches the “full” line.

If you need to add coolant, add a mix of one part coolant to one part water and fill it up until it reaches the line.

Person touching gray metal rod on vehicle engine

Image via Pex​​els

Water Pump Failure

Your water pump moves the engine coolant through your cooling system, which absorbs the heat and passes it on to the radiator.

Problems with your water pump (and subsequent issues with your cooling system) contribute to overheating issues. The most common issue is a leak in the water pump, which can cause it to fail.

How do you spot a leaky or failing water pump? If you spot steam pouring out of the radiator and a leak under the front of the car (coolant, not water), then you have a water pump problem. Fix it immediately to avoid cooling system failure.

Faulty Thermostat

Your engine features a thermostat that measures temperatures and regulates your cooling system according to what it sees. It governs the coolant to ensure the engine gets what it needs at the right time. If your thermostat fails, it can’t efficiently manage the coolant, which results in overheating.

Hose And Belt Problems

Three out of four of the noted issues related either directly or indirectly to the cooling system. However, belts and hoses are common causes of overheating that are easy to spot, maintain, and replace.

Your belts and hoses contribute to the cooling system, charging system, and air conditioning by distributing power appropriately. If it fails, these systems struggle. Your heater or radiator hoses in particular also send coolant around the engine.

If the belt snaps or your hose gets blocked, they can’t function as intended.

You can check your belts and hoses on your own, but it’s also good to look at them whenever you change your oil.

Person repairing a car

Image via Pexe​​ls

How To Keep Your Car Cool: What To Do When Your Car Overheats

Regular maintenance of your engine including and especially your cooling system is the ticket to stopping overheating and preventing damage to your engine. Your goal always needs to be the prevention of overheating because even once can damage your engine.

Here’s what to do when your car overheats and how to keep your car cool.

Check Your Fluid Levels Before Any Long Trips

Before you embark on any long-distance driving, make sure your oil and coolant levels are suitable for the road.

Remember that you should check your oil weekly to avoid any surprises and ensure your engine is well-lubricated.

Ideally, you should also store the items you need to complete this task in your car. You should have a tool kit, flashlight (and batteries), and extra coolant or oil for those just in case moments. Don’t forget to store food, water, and blankets as well in case your car overheats and you need to wait for help.

Pull Over Immediately

If your temperature light comes on or you see steam or smoke while driving, pull over and turn off your engine immediately. Ideally, do so in a safe space such as in a layby or another area suitable for parking.

Don’t immediately hop out and pop the hood. You’ll want to wait until the car cools or the temperature drops to cool, check to make sure the road conditions are safe, and then get out.

Young man pushing broken down car

Image via Pexe​​ls

Go Through The Motions

Let’s go back to the reasons your car can overheat. You can check man of those on the road on your own.

First, check your coolant level as described above. If you don’t know where your coolant (or antifreeze) reservoir is, check your owner’s manual or use Google. If the coolant levels look good, move on.

While the hood is up, check on your hoses, particularly the upper and lower radiator hoses. Look for disconnected hoses, punctures or potential blocks.

Re-Start Your Engine

With all obvious items checked, re-start your engine.

Most older cars are more likely to overheat if run in sweltering weather (90 degrees Fahrenheit and over). The phenomenon is far less common among newer vehicles, but in some cases, your engine only needed a break to cool down. Letting it sit and cool down, and then restarting it might clear your problems.

If you added coolant and things now seem to function well, then carry on driving and keep an eye on your temperature gauge. Be sure also to schedule a tune-up for your car to make sure there’s not a problem flying under the radar.

Is your engine still acting up? Continue to the next step.

Drive To A Nearby Service Station

Adding coolant often buys you enough time to get to the nearest gas or service station safely.

While on your way, keep an eye on your gauges, any steam, or fluids. All these factors inform the mechanic and help them identify the culprit much faster.

If your engine continues to overheat, do not drive it further than the nearest service station. If at any point you feel that driving is no longer safe, pull over and call roadside assistance.

Remember, it is incredibly important not to drive an engine that is overheating.

It will cause incredible, irreversible damage to your engine. If you worry about the cost of a tow truck, know that replacing your engine will always cost most. Plus, you will risk your safety as well as the safety of other drivers on the road.

Mechanic repairing black and white vintage vehicle

Image via Pe​​xels

Regular Maintenance Is The Antidote To Overheating

An overheated engine isn’t a regular occurrence for drivers because it is usually a sign that something—usually in your cooling system—is either very broken or missing. Routine maintenance, as well as double-checking your fluid levels before long trips, helps prevent overheating on the road.

If your engine does overheat, don’t panic. Find a safe place to pull over and turn off your engine. The best-case scenario is that the event is a fluke and caused by heat. However, you should double check your fluid levels before driving on.

Remember, driving with an overheated engine leads to expensive damage, like blown head gaskets or increased wear and tear. If in doubt, protect yourself and your vehicle by calling a tow truck.

Fram Oil Filter Review: Assessing the Performance of This Well Known Brand

the filter oil of the car engine

Driving across problematic terrains and highways puts your vehicle to extreme tests. You can now enjoy efficient running engines in family cars, sports cars, and trucks. Quality engine oil is vital if you’re looking to enjoy a functional engine. What’s more, you need an oil filter that can sieve out any particles and leave your oil clean. 

The type of filter you select depends on your type of vehicle. Fram Oil Filter is one of the renowned oil filters in the market.

Below is a detailed Fram Oil Filter review and some of its pros and cons.

What is the Fram Oil Filter?


Fram Oil Filter is a device with a design that works to decontaminate the engine for up to 5,000 miles. The filter works well with conventional oil. Don’t use it with synthetic oils if you have a modern car. 

It has a contaminant-trapping efficiency of 95%, making it one of the best conventional and affordable oil filters in the market. Most users love that it has a larger than average dirt holding capacity. 

You’ll love its special grip coating that allows you to install and remove the filter with ease. Its precision coil spring also comes in handy. The valve boast of reinforced nylon that has glass fiber, something that makes it reliable, but not as durable as silicone.

Its performance is impressive compared to its price range. The filter can trap and hold dirt quickly. You can use the filter for approximately 5,000 miles, making it ideal for drivers who maintain their vehicles regularly.

Furthermore, the filter can withstand severe weather conditions thanks to the tough guard. Another fantastic aspect is that the Tough Guard is optimized for a go and stop traffic and towing. It’s also engineered to work with synthetic or premium conventional oil.

What Makes Fram Oil Filter Unique

FRAM XG7317 Ultra Synthetic Spin-On Oil Filter with SureGrip
  • Ultra Synthetic is the filter for consumers looking to get the most out of their investment in full synthetic oil
  • Proven extended protection up to 20,000 miles
  • 99%+ dirt removal efficiency at greater than 20 microns

Some of the standout features of the Fram Oil Filter include:

  • Engineered for Use With Synthetic or Conventional Motor Oils
  • Internal Lubricated Sealing Gasket

The Fram Oil filter has an internally lubricated sealing gasket that works to filter removal. 

  • Premium Silicone Anti-drain back Valve

The Anti-drain back valve works to eliminate dry starts. You can be sure of a safe start-up when getting the ignition on. The valve has three times the hot oil resistance. 

  • Blend of synthetic and Cellulose Fiber Traps

The traps help to hold dirt and prolong the life of the filter

Price of the Fram Oil Filter

The Fram Oil Filter retails at around $8-$10 depending on where you purchase it. 

Fram Oil Filter Specifications

  • Brand: FRAM
  • Manufacturer Part Number: PH10600
  • Assembled Product Weight: 1.05 oz.
  • Dimensions: 3.17 x 3.17 x 5.59 inches

How Fram Oil Filter Compares to Other Filters


Below is a look at how the Fram Oil Filter compares to other filters in the market.

Royal Purple Oil Filter


No products found.

Although Royal Purple Extended Life Oil Filter hasn’t been around for long, the brand is synonymous for its excellent quality. The company makes the filter for various engines and automobiles. Most users love the filter’s ability to block particles and sediments.

When handling particle remover, the filter offers a 99% filtration efficiency at 25 microns with 100% micro-glass, something you won’t find in the Fram Oil Filter.

You don’t have to worry about punctures as the filter boasts of heavy and thick shell material. Also, the bypass valve allows for correct oil flow when there’s a restricted element flow. You’ll find a nitrile rubber base gasket that provides a leak-free seal. It’s also lubricated to lower torque during removal and installation. 

Unlike the Fram Oil Filter, the Royal Purple extended oil filter has a silicone anti-drain back valve that staves off dry starts by ensuring there’s no oil drain back in case of a shutdown. Moreover, the silicone material works in both cold and hot temperatures. 

The only downside is that the oil filter is expensive compared to other filters. However, you will find its value worth every coin

Price: Around $20
Ease of Use: 4.6/5
Build Quality: 4.6/5

Bosch Premium FILTECH Oil Filter


Bosch 3330 Premium FILTECH Oil Filter
  • Bosch recommends the use of Castrol motor oil
  • Exclusive FILTECH media technology screens out more harmful contaminants for greater engine protection
  • Strong steel base plates and housings prevent warpage, leaks, and poor fit

Bosch is a favorite brand when it comes to various household items like washing machines and fridges, but you may not know it’s also a leader in the best oil filter brands. The FILTECH utilizes a blended media with 99.9% efficiency. It sports a combination of glass materials and cellulose to get to this rate. 

The filter can capture a particle that is 20 microns out of engine oil. Its media is 40% thicker when compared to standard Media. At the heart of the filter, you’ll find a metal spiral wound, which boosts internal strength and durability. 

You’ll love the stable build quality of the Bosch oil filter. Like the Royal Purple oil filter, the Bosch filter has an anti-drain back valve to reduce dry starts. You don’t have to worry about the filter drying out. 

The pre-lubed gasket makes installation straightforward, which helps to save time. Its reasonable price is another reason why the filter is popular and highly-rated. 


Ease of Use: 4.6/5
Build Quality: 4.8/5

Mobil 1 M1 Extended Performance Filter


Mobil 1 M1-110 / M1-110A Extended Performance Oil Filter
  • Provides long-life performance for today's longer drain intervals
  • Effectively removes contaminants, with a 99.6 percentage Multi-Pass Efficiency Rating and an advanced synthetic fiber...
  • Holds double the contaminants compared to other filters, with 28.0 grams of total capacity

The Mobil 1 M1 Extended performance filter comes from a leading oil manufacturer, and it doesn’t disappoint. You can expect to cruise through a substantial amount of miles before your filter is exhausted. The extended performance filter allows you to go longer between oil changes.

You’ll want to get this filter if you’re a long distance driver.  The filter on the inside has a synthetic media that reaches 99.6% efficiency levels. Furthermore, it can trap particles that are as small as 25 microns. Unlike the Fram Oil Filter, the Mobile filter can withstand over ten times the standard operating pressure. 

What’s more, the filter has 25 grams of capacity for contaminants, which gives it a 15,000-mile maximum life for frequent drivers. Its silicone anti-drain back valve prevents dry starts through removing any internal leaks during a shutdown. In case of any clogs, the filter’s bypass valve keeps the oil flow intact.

Although you may find the filter’s price costly, you can relax knowing that you won’t have to go through regular oil checks and enjoy the durability of the filter.


Ease of Use: 4.8/5
Build Quality: 4.98/5

Purolator Premium Oil Filter


No products found.

Purolator has been around for decades and boasts of quality oil filters in the market. If you’re looking for a budget oil filter, you should check this one out. 

Its high-density synthetic blend media gives you 99% efficiency with over 9,000 miles of usage when working with synthetic oils. Experts recommend oil and filter changes after 5000 miles; this filter will help you reduce your costs.

Like previous oil filters, the Purolator has a silicone anti-drain back valve. Other features include end caps, metal bypass valve, and metal center tube. 

One thing to note is that you may experience a reduction in maximum oil flow rate because of the high density of the media. You should opt for a different filter that works with high-performance engines if that’s your need. 

Also, the Purolator isn’t wire backed. However, car experts don’t find it a critical factor as synthetic blend media is simpler to old and stable than synthetic filters. It’s worth noting that Purolator has two other line filters, the Purolator Boss and Purolator Classic.

The Purolator Boss has similar features to Purolator One but boasts of a durable design. However, it’s expensive, but you can be sure to cover 15,000-miles with a 99% efficiency with this oil filter. The classic version is cheaper and a beginner filter that gets you 5000 miles. Its 96.5 efficiency isn’t as impressive as what you would find in the Purolator One.

AMSOIL Ea Oil Filter


No products found.

AMSOIL is a leading manufacturer of synthetic filters and lubricants. If you’re looking for a premium standard in filters, AMSOIL oil filter is what you’re looking for. Its silicone, metal, and wire-backed synthetic media gives you a 98.7% filtration efficiency at 20 microns. 

Unlike Fram Oil Filter that only covers 5, 000 miles, the AMSOIL oil filter gets you at least 15,000 miles without the need for frequent oil changes. What’s more, the EaO filter gets you to 25,000 miles with AMSOIL synthetic oils. 

The filter is expensive compared to the Fram Oil filter. However, it has the same features as the Royal Purple oil filter. Also, it’s only available from a few vendors. 


Ease of Use: 4.7/5
Formulation Quality: 4.7/5

WIX Spin-on Lube Filter


No products found.

WIX is a reputable brand famous for its air, oil, and fuel filters. The company has three types of oils for light and regular trucks. The Spin-On filter stands out for its value and efficiency. It has a nitrile sealing gasket that’s hydrogenated to enhance durability in high temperatures.

Other notable features include the metal center lube, steel base plate, and the metal end caps. Its coil spring has durable bypass material. Its silicone anti-drain back valve is durable and works well in low or high temperature. 

You can expect a 99% efficiency thanks to the wired backing. The Spin-On is a must-have if your vehicle goes through highway driving or stays idle for long times. 

You’ll appreciate the quality components that assures you won’t be stranded. On the downside, it has an odd shape which requires you to use a specific wrench to screw the filter on. However, after screwing, the gasket stays attached to the vehicle.


Ease of Use: 4.5/5
Formulation Quality: 4.6/5

Fram Oil Filter Pros and Cons


The Fram Oil Filter features simple installation and removal thanks to its grip coating. Its reasonable cost is another reason why most people find it convenient when driving for a longer distance. You’ll love how the filter can withstand extreme weather conditions whether you’re driving in the desert or snowy weather. 

Unfortunately, the oil filter only works for low mileage cars.

Pros

  • Impressive effectiveness rate
  • Reasonably priced
  • Simple to install and remove
  • Comes with lubricated gasket

Cons

  • Only works for low mileage cars

Final Thoughts

The Fram Oil Filter is engineered to work with conventional or synthetic motor oils. It features a blend of resin and fibers that work to create a proprietary filter media that gets 95% of the dirt particles that could lead to engine wear.


Its lubricated sealing gasket ensures simple filter removal. However, as we’ve seen in this Fram Oil Filter review, other oil filters provide better performance. The likes of Mobil 1, Bosch, and Royal Purple boast of unmatched efficiency and ability to handle distances of over 5,000 miles.


You need to choose an oil filter based on your vehicle type, budget, durability, and the efficiency you want to achieve from the filter while driving.


Featured Image via Pixabay

The 10 Best Car Jack Choices To Get Your Wheels Off The Ground

Adult fixing the car tier and using a car jack

Time to get a new car jack? Perhaps your first jack? Or, you’ve bought a few, with no longterm success? Well, dear car enthusiast, we present you with our Top 10 best car jack picks.

It’s not an easy job to work under your car, nor does it come without some cautionary tales. Our first goal is to present you with the safest products, the most quality made, and the best bang for your buck. Read on to see just how many great models there are out there.

Table

No products found.

Product FAQs

  • ​What is a Car Jack?
  • ​What does a Car Jack do?
  • ​How does it work?
  • ​Where can you buy a car jack?
  • ​How much does it cost?
  • ​How do I decide what kind I need?
  • ​What is a lift saddle?
  • ​How many pounds/tons?
  • ​What is ASME Standard?

​What is a Car Jack?

​What does a Car Jack Do?

​How does it work?

​Where can you buy a car jack?

How much does it cost?

​How do i decide what kind i need?

​What is a lift saddle?

​How many pounds/ tons?

​What is ASME Standard?

How we reviewed

A car jack in the wrong hands is a dangerous item. We took this part of our job seriously. We want to keep our readers informed and safe when using any of the products we recommend. Below you’ll find comprehensive information about different jacks, hopefully making your job of buying a new car jack, just a little easier.

Great care and detail went into these reviews, we researched our options endlessly and have finally settled on our Top 10.

Enjoy, fellow auto-enthusiast!

Overall Price Range Of This Product

As mentioned above, there is a wide price disparity between different car jacks. What you intend to use it for is going to impact your purchase.

If you’re looking for something to keep in your trunk to fix a flat? You’ll want a scissor jack, which is going to cost you anywhere from $15 - $60.

Do you need a jack for your bigger vehicle? (Like a truck, where clearance isn’t an issue) But still, need it to be portable? A bottle jack is a good bet, with a low price and high lift capacity, you’re looking around $30 - $90.

And lastly, your safe bet for use in a garage? A heavy duty floor jack. Though much pricier, these are built to last for a long time and will run from around $80 - $250.

Top Ten Car Jacks

Red best car jack under the car without wheel

Via Amazon

No products found.

Key Features

  • ​5000-pound capacity
  • ​Swivel casters
  • ​Durable
  • ​Great for cars and lightweight trucks
  • ​Overload protection valves

Pros

  • ​Lightweight, inexpensive and great maneuverability make this a great pick from Performance Tools. Also has a few superb safety features, including an overload protection valve.

Cons

  • ​You won’t be able to use these on every type of vehicle. It’s too light to work for SUVs or trucks and doesn’t come low enough to work on low-profile cars.

Pricing:

No products found.

Where to buy

​We found this model on Amazon.

​Warranty

​Can request through the seller.

​Coupons/deals:

​There are none at this time.

No products found.

Key Features

  • ​Heavy duty
  • ​Rear castors pivot 360 degrees
  • ​Foam bumper to prevent damage to vehicle finish
  • ​Holds up to 3 Tons (6,000 lbs.)

Pros

  • ​This heavy duty floor jack is reliable and sturdy. It’s a great model for your at-home garage and is made to last. Though it is heavy, it is very maneuverable due to the pivot of the rear castors. It is low profile and will fit under cars that don’t have much clearance.

Cons

  • ​Though this is heavy duty, you’ll need to buy jack stands with this jack, especially when lifting the whole front or back end of the car. Some complaints have been issued about leaking hydraulic fluid, so use caution when having this shipped from Amazon.

Pricing:

No products found.

Where to buy

​Although these are easy to find on Amazon, you can also pick these up at Harbor Freight.

​Warranty

​Unavailable/ Please contact seller for more information.

​Coupons/deals:

​There are none at this time.

No products found.

Key Features

  • ​Compact steel jack
  • ​Lift range of 4 ⅛ - 15 ⅛ inch.
  • ​Meets ASME standards

Pros

  • ​This scissor jack is a great find when you’re looking for something to keep in your trunk. It is super light, easy to use and meets all ASME standards.

Cons

  • ​This is not a jack for the garage; it just doesn’t do what a floor jack can. Many reviewers complained of stripped screws, so be wary of the hardware included. This jack is no longer available on Amazon but might be in the future.

Pricing:

No products found.

Where to buy

​Ebay

​Warranty

​1 year limited warranty.

​Coupons/deals:

​There are none at this time.

No products found.

Key Features

  • ​Low profile
  • ​Lifts up to 3 tons
  • ​Lightweight aluminum
  • ​Saddle rotates 360 degrees
  • ​Dual side handles
  • ​Meets ASME standards

Pros

  • ​A great pick from Jegs, this is one of the best car jacks out there. It can hold up to 6,000 lbs. However, being made from lightweight aluminum for ease of movement. In this way, it is fairly versatile.

Cons

  • ​Although a great addition to any garage, this jack may take a few more pumps than other models (like say Sunex’s, who hits maximum lift with about 6 - 7 pumps). Consumers should also exercise caution when removing this item from packaging, as it can be somewhat dangerous due to the way it is packed.

Pricing:

No products found.

Where to buy

​We found this item on Amazon.

​Warranty

​1 year

​Coupons/deals:

​There are none at this time.

No products found.

Key Features

  • ​Lightweight
  • ​Compact
  • ​Easy transport
  • ​Constructed for professional race teams
  • ​Equipped with foam bumper
  • ​Precision control of decent

Pros

  • ​The lightweight design and easy lift capabilities (it can reach a max height in just 3 ½ pumps) land this model by Pittsburgh in 6th our lift of the very best car jack options. Its compact design makes it super easy to store in a home garage.

Cons

  • ​You’ll need to get a set of lifts to help keep your car up safely, as you would with any floor jack. They are best suited to a tire change, as opposed to lifting the whole front or back end.

Pricing:

No products found.

Where to buy

​We found this model on Amazon.

​Warranty

​No/Contact seller for more information.

​Coupons/deals:

​There are none at this time.

No products found.

Key Features

  • ​Highly durable
  • ​Removable lift saddle
  • ​Padded lift rails
  • ​Locking safety bar
  • ​Adapts to multiple car designs

Pros

  • ​At under 200 bucks you can’t go wrong with this Heavy duty lift by Powerbuilt. Equipped with a safety bar, which eliminates the need for jack stands. It’s super adaptable and built to last. A great investment.

Cons

  • ​Complaints of leaking fluid and poor customer service are what hold this jack from placing in our top 3.

Pricing:

No products found.

Where to buy

​We picked this model up with Amazon.

​Warranty

​None/Please contact seller for more information.

​Coupons/deals:

​There are no coupons or deals at this time.

No products found.

Key Features

  • ​Rapid rise technology
  • ​Low profile design
  • ​18” throw
  • ​Equipped with a safety bar

Pros

  • ​A super jack from Sunex, it has several features which easily make this one of the best car jack buys of 2019. We particularly love the ease of use for low to the ground vehicles, a task that other jacks just can’t accomplish. It’s built tough and feels secure with a built-in safety bar mechanism.

Cons

  • ​The saddle pad on this jack is smaller than on others, giving it a slight risk of damaging a vehicle’s paint. It’s also quite weighty, and while giving it a heavy-duty feel, it’s heft and, low profile makes it difficult to move across anything but smooth flooring. (Meaning, you’re going to want to keep this handy in your garage.)

Pricing:

No products found.

Where to buy

​We found this jack on Amazon.

​Warranty

​None/Please contact seller for more info.

​Coupons/deals:

​There are none at this time.

No products found.

Key Features

  • ​Lightweight aluminum body
  • ​Rapid rise tech
  • ​Pack includes (2) 3-ton aluminum jack stands
  • ​Low profile

Pros

  • ​Another great jack by Sunex, here they give you the bonus of two jack stands at one reasonable price. The jack itself is super easy to use, coming up to its max height in just about seven pumps. It’s low profile, making it versatile in its use of vehicles. It’s got some weight, which makes it feel sturdy, but not quite as heavy as the previously mentioned 3-ton jack, also by Sunex.

Cons

  • ​Being that it's low, this jack tends to drag on the ground, it’s hard to get over gravel, or any uneven surface so keep that in mind when storing. Shipping of this item also seems to have some issues, as many reviewers have complained of crumpled boxes or missing parts.

Pricing:

No products found.

Where to buy

​We found this pack on Amazon.

​Warranty

​2 Years

​Coupons/deals:

​There are none at this time.

No products found.

Key Features

  • ​Safely lifts and holds Unibody and body-on-frame vehicles
  • ​No need for jack stands
  • ​Equipped with a safety bar
  • ​Wide steel bass
  • ​3-ton capacity
  • ​Meets or exceeds ASME standards

Pros

  • ​Safety and value on this spectacular Unijack by Powerbuilt are what lands it in the number 2 position on our list. It’s also lightweight, coming in at only eleven pounds and can lift a whopping six thousand pounds! We feel confident this car jack would be a nice addition to any garage.

Cons

  • ​This jack is tall, it’s minimum lift is about 11”, so it’s not going to work for your low profile vehicle. Some reviewers mentioned it might need a slight push to go down as it’s lowering, so be aware of that before use.

Pricing:

No products found.

Where to buy

​We found this ​jack on Amazon.

​Warranty

​30 Days

​Coupons/deals:

​None at this time.

No products found.

Key Features

  • ​3-ton capacity
  • ​Lightweight
  • ​Dual pump pistons
  • ​Reinforced lift arm
  • ​Side ​mount handle
  • ​Vehicle protection
  • ​Bypass and overload valves

Pros

  • ​So many great things to list about this model by Arcan, we can safely say it's our pick for 2019's best car jack. It is lightweight and easy to use, super heavy duty, takes minimal effort to raise and is versatile. The car jack has several safety features including the additions of two safety valves, one for overextension and the other which is for use beyond weight capacity.

Cons

  • ​Some reviewers mentioned their units leaking fluid; however, this doesn’t seem to be common.

Pricing:

No products found.

Where to buy

​We found this ​jack on Amazon.

​Warranty

​One year

​Coupons/deals:

​There are none at this time.

Comparison table

My Pick:

Aluminum Floor Jack (ALJ3T) by Arcan

Price: $212.49

Warranty: 1 year

Height Range: 3 ¾ - 18 ⅛ inches

Dimensions: 30 x 13.5 x 8 inches

Item weight: 56 pounds

Capacity: 3 tons

Stars: 4.5

Prime: Yes

Amazon Top Rated:

​Pro-Lift F-767 Grey Low Profile Floor Jack - 2 Ton Capacity

Price: $52.88

Warranty: 2 years or 90 days limited warranty

Height Range: 3 ½ - 14 inches

Dimensions: 17.9 x 5.3 x 8.5 inches

Item weight: 30 pounds

Capacity: 2 tons

Stars: 3.7

Prime: Yes

​Best for Beginners:

Name: Powerbuilt 620422E Heavy Duty 4000 lb Triple Lift Jack

Price: $178.81

Warranty: None

Height Range: 8 ⅝ - 18 ⅝ inches

Dimensions: 16.38 x 26.13 x 8.13 inches

Item weight: 85.3 pounds

Capacity: 4000 pounds

Stars: 4.1 stars

Prime: Yes

The Verdict

Hand holding the handle of the best car jack

​Via Amazon

We took the time to delve into these jacks, to examine and determine which is going to be the best all-around jack for consumers. In our opinion, the Aluminum Floor Jack by Arcan is an excellent piece of equipment, and it will be something you can use for years to come. The Quality and safety of this jack are unparalleled.

Of course, car jacks are not a one size fits all piece of equipment. If you’re looking for a model that can do almost anything, the Unijack by Powerbuilt is a perfect pick. It’s light in weight, yet sturdy, and can lift 6,000 pounds!

Substantial investment into your jack is vital; you get what you pay for is always a good rule to follow. No matter what you purchase, your safety must be at the forefront of thought.

​Featured Image Source: Pixabay

Eight Handy Tips for How to Clean A Catalytic Converter With Ease

Man is going to remove the catalytic converter

The purpose of a catalytic converter is to reduce harmful emissions as exhaust gas exits your vehicle. Burning fuel produces carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons. Learn some tips on how to clean a catalytic converter below.

These gases go through your exhaust system, and your catalytic converter reduces harmful emissions through oxidation and reduction reactions. You will need to clean or replace this part if it doesn't function properly.

Do You Need To Clean Or Replace Your Catalytic Converter?

Before worrying about how to clean a catalytic converter, you need to make sure that the problem is coming from this part. Some issues with performance and exhaust gases can come from a faulty engine, O2 sensor, or even a leak in your exhaust pipe.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of a clogged or damaged catalytic converter:

  • Failing an emission test
  • Engine stalls
  • The engine doesn't respond to acceleration
  • The vehicle doesn't start
  • Change in fuel economy
  • Fuel vapor coming out of the carburetor
  • Check Engine light comes on
  • Unusual noises coming from the exhaust system
  • Changes in the exhaust, especially with the smell
  • Excessive heat under your vehicle
  • P0420 code appears on your dashboard diagnosis tool
  • Signs of damage or discoloration on the outside of the converter

A clogged or faulty catalytic converter can prevent air from properly circulating through the exhaust system. This problem can spread to the engine where it will increase pressure and impact engine performance.

You should also keep in mind that the P0420 diagnosis code can appear if there is a faulty O2 sensor or another issue in your exhaust system such as a leak.

A faulty O2 sensor can cause some of these symptoms. You should take your vehicle to a repair shop and have professionals perform an emission test with and without the O2 sensor to determine if you need to replace this part.

Cleaning your catalytic converter may or may not fix the problems you are experiencing. If there are signs of damages or discoloration on the part, you will need to replace it. You will also need to figure out what caused the clog or damage so that you can address this issue and avoid damaging the new converter.

Burning A Clog

In some cases, it’s possible to clean a catalytic converter by simply burning the deposits that are clogging this part. You might be able to clear your catalytic converter by getting the part as hot as possible.

Go for a drive on the highway. Try maintaining a speed of at least 55mph for 20 minutes or more if you can. Driving at high speed for a few minutes will cause the catalytic converter to heat up.

If you typically go for short drives or never drive on the highway, it’s possible that your catalytic converter never gets very hot and that carbon deposits build up inside of the part.

If you don’t see an improvement in performance after going for a drive, there are other methods you can try.

Safety First

Safety first signage

Image by succo from Pixabay

If you do some research on how to clean a catalytic converter, you will find guides and videos that recommend inspecting the part and removing it. Some resources recommend using a hammer to gently tap on the piece to see if there are any loose components.

Inspecting the part can help you figure out if there is any damage, and you will need to remove the part if you want to try and clean the inside. However, keep in mind that the chemical reactions happening inside of the catalytic converter can cause the part to reach a temperature of 400 to 600°F.

Catalytic converters get dangerously hot, and a clogged part can generate excessive heat. Don't get under your vehicle to inspect or remove the piece until you are sure the temperature has dropped to a safe level. We recommend waiting several hours after driving, especially if there is a risk of your converter overheating.

Remember always to wear goggles and gloves when working on the exhaust system of your vehicle. It’s also important not to engage in any repairs if you don’t have all the tools needed or don’t feel comfortable with removing car parts.

Know How to Remove Your Catalytic Converter

Some vehicles have a welded catalytic converter. Removing this part is very difficult and requires you to use a rotary saw to cut through the exhaust pipe.

We don’t recommend removing a converter welded to the exhaust pipe. Re-installing the part after you clean it will be challenging since you will have to weld it back in place. It's best to take your vehicle to a repair shop if you have a welded converter since you might need more extensive exhaust repairs.

A majority of vehicles have bolted catalytic converters that you can remove with a few simple tools. You might need to remove the O2 sensor first if it’s in the way. You will need an O2 wrench to remove the sensor without damaging it. These wrenches have an offset design that allows you to reach the sensor easily.

You can usually remove a catalytic converter by loosening some bolts and sliding this part down the exhaust pipe. The fasteners or bolts can be difficult to remove because of rust and gunk.

We recommend that you purchase some spare bolts or fasteners in case you damage them when you remove the catalytic converter. If the bolts are difficult to remove, try loosening them with heat or WD-40. Tapping on them with a wrench to create vibrations might also work.

Keep in mind that some states and local legislation make it illegal to remove a catalytic converter yourself. Contact a licensed mechanic to find out if they can remove this part for you and clean it.

Cleaning Your Catalytic Converter with Degreaser

Once you have removed the catalytic converter, shake it to see if you hear any noises. Catalytic converters either use beads or honeycomb structures coated with precious metals to filter and reduce emissions.

If you have a catalytic converter with a honeycomb structure, parts of this structure can break and impact performance. You should be able to see signs of damages on the outside of the component caused by the shock that broke this structure, or hear broken parts rattling inside of the converter. If you notice signs of damage, you will need to replace the part.

Man is removing the catalytic converter

Photo by Malte Lu from Pexels

If there are no signs of damage, the part is likely clogged. Whether the converter is partially or completely clogged, the best way to clean it is to let it soak in hot water and degreaser.

Degreaser will work by breaking down carbon deposits. The cause of excessive carbon deposits inside of your catalytic converter could be an issue with the air-fuel ratio in the engine. Another sign of this problem would be poor fuel efficiency.

If too much fuel ends up in the engine, it will not burn completely, and the percentage of hydrocarbons in the exhaust gases will increase. This percentage might exceed what the catalytic converter can handle and result in carbon deposits that clog the part. Replacing old spark plugs can fix this problem, but keep in mind that there are other possible causes behind this issue.

Pinpointing the source of this issue is important. Carbon deposits will keep being an issue if you clean your catalytic converter and re-install it without addressing the problem that caused excessive carbon buildup in the converter.

Scrutinize the catalytic converter after letting it soak. Let the part dry for several hours before re-assembling it with the bolts or fasteners.

Using A Catalytic Converter Cleaner

You can purchase a catalytic converter cleaner at any auto supply shop. You will need to pour this product in your fuel tank.

Check the instructions of the cleaner you buy. Most cleaners will require you to pour the bottle in your gas tank when you have four gallons of gas left. However, quantities might vary from one product to another.

The catalytic converter cleaner will mix with fuel and spread through your engine and exhaust system. You will need to drive until the tank is empty to see a difference in performance.

You will get better results if you drive for about thirty minutes at 50 mph or faster. Driving fast will help get the catalytic converter hot and clear any existing clogs.

Using a cleaner is a temporary solution. These products can improve performance and clear clogs, but keep in mind that an issue with your engine or air-fuel mix might be the cause behind excessive carbon deposits inside of your catalytic converter.

If problems keep coming back after using a cleaner, you will probably need to replace your catalytic converter or perform additional repairs to address the issue behind the carbon buildups.

What Not To Do

Stop Signage

Image by ndemello from Pixabay

If you look for advice on how to clean a catalytic converter, you will find questionable information online. Some sources recommend using lacquer thinner to unclog your catalytic converter.

Pouring diluted lacquer thinner in your gas tank is not a wise thing to do. The active ingredient in lacquer thinner is an acetone compound that acts as a solvent. Technically, this ingredient could break down carbon buildups inside of your catalytic converter.

However, pouring diluted lacquer thinner in your tank means that this product will go through your fuel system where it will come in contact with several seals. The material used for these seals is a mix of plastic and rubber. Lacquer thinner can cause some severe damage to all these seals, which would result in expensive repairs.

Other sources recommend that you remove the catalytic converter and clean the inside with a tool. Soaking the part in degreaser is safe since you won’t damage the beads or honeycomb structure.

The beads or structure you will find inside of your catalytic converter use a precious metal coating to reduce emissions. Depending on your vehicle, these precious metals will include palladium, platinum, or rhodium.

The problem with using a tool or a brush to clean the inside of the part is that you can damage the honeycomb structure or scratch this coating. The integrity of the precious metal coating is essential since this coating triggers the reduction and oxidation reactions that reduce emission gases when heat is present.

If you accidentally damage this coating, your catalytic converter might no longer function as it should, and you might fail an emissions test.

Cleaning Might Not Be Enough

Catalytic converters don’t fail often, but you should know that you will typically have to replace this part if there are issues with its performance.

Cleaning your catalytic converter by taking your vehicle for a drive on the highway or using a cleaner can save you money. You should try these methods and see if there are any changes. 

Removing your catalytic converter and letting it soak in degreaser is time-consuming, but this method is worth trying since replacing this part can be expensive.

You should keep an eye out for signs of a bad air-fuel mix or issues with your exhaust system after cleaning your catalytic converter. The carbon deposits that cause the clog will start building up again if you don’t address the cause of the problem.

You should also keep in mind that the methods discussed above will remove carbon buildups that prevent air from flowing through the catalytic converter. However, cleaning the part won’t do any good if there is structural damage or if overheating damaged the coating inside of the part.

Catalytic converters can be expensive, but a new part will last for years. Besides, you won’t be able to pass an emission test if there is an issue with your catalytic converter.

Ask yourself if you need to replace your catalytic converter before you try cleaning it. Don’t hesitate to seek help from a professional if you can’t pinpoint the cause behind a clogged or failing catalytic converter or if you need help with cleaning it.

Featured Image via Flickr

What Is A Car Tune Up And Why You Shouldn’t Skip This Preventative Maintenance

Mercedes Benz parked in a row

Your car is one of the most important investments you make - which means you'll want to take care of it. Over the years of owning your car, you'll take it into the local dealership or garage for a tune up. What should you expect, and what is a car tune up exactly? Here, we'll cover what you need to know.

What Is A Car Tune Up?

So what is a car tune up? It is designed as a preventative measure to help prevent potential problems later on while improving your vehicle's current performance. Small elements may be replaced, belts might be swapped out, the spark plugs can be changed, and so on. A tune up will address minor problems that might not receive typical attention during other, more major inspections of your vehicle.

The exact makeup of a car tune up will hinge on a number of factors. This includes the kind of vehicle you drive and when the vehicle was last serviced (you don't need to replace spark plugs every year, so this will not be required during some tune ups). For your vehicle to run its very best, and to identify potential performance problems down the line, it is important for you to understand what is a car tune up and how it helps improve the overall vehicle performance.

What Happens During A Tune Up?

When it comes to what is a car tune up there are a number of services performed on your vehicle. The mechanic will first check your car's computer to see if there are any error or warning codes. These issues will need to be looked into first. From there, the mechanic will inspect your vehicle and identify what needs to be replaced or updated to boost vehicle performance.

Some of the standard repairs you can expect during a car tune up include having the engine air filter replaced, the spark plugs replaced, having the distributor cap and rotor replaced (if you have an older vehicle), plus system checks to see if further adjustments or assistance is needed.

What Systems Are Checked During A Car Tune Up?

When looking into what is a car tune up, you'll probably have more than a few parts replaced. The mechanic will also perform a number of system checks. The checks are usually included with the price of the car tune up, but if the individual systems need attention, then you may have additional services needed.

Tire And Brake Inspection

This is a straight-forward system inspection. The mechanic will look at the tread and suggest if you should replace the tires now or if you can run on the tires for longer. The mechanic may also rotate the tires to keep the wear on the rubber the same.

Brake inspections will also be performed. The mechanic will look at the thickness of the brake pads and make brake replacement suggestions. They will also likely top off the brake fluid in your vehicle (as well as any other fluids that are low).

Air-Conditioning System

The AC in your vehicle runs not only off the coolant but there are a number of smaller features connected on the vehicle that help the AC function (unlike the heat, which is taken off the engine block, the vehicle must produce cool air, so you essentially have a portable AC unit built into the car). During the system check the mechanic will look into the individual parts to see if something is not working correctly. They may suggest a coolant flush as well (especially if you have an older vehicle).

Electrical System

The electrical system can be inspected both visually and through the car's computer system. The car will log error codes when something goes wrong. When the mechanic connects their computer to the vehicle they can download the error codes and find out if there are any electrical system issues going on. They will also perform an inspection of the electrical system. This includes looking at the tail lights, brake lights, bulbs over your license plate, and other problems you might have (and not know about).

Check Your Owner's Manual

Your vehicle's owner's manual will provide some of the best insights regarding what is a car tune up for your vehicle. This includes not only what to expect during the tune up but also at what mileage points you can expect to require certain replacements for your vehicle. The owner's manual will recommend the replacement of certain belts and filters.

If you take your vehicle into the dealership, they will have all of this information immediately on file. Most ASE-certified mechanics for your particular vehicle will have the same information, but it's a good idea to go over the information with the mechanic so you are kept up to speed on what is going on with your vehicle.

Additional Vehicle Maintenance

Beyond your tune up, there are a number of other routine forms of maintenance you need to perform in order to keep the vehicle running correctly. These include an oil change. When you have your oil changed, you should also have the oil filter changed. Your owner's manual will provide you with insights regarding how often you should have the oil changed on your particular vehicle.

While many drive-through oil change facilities will provide you with a basic mileage sticker, this is a standard number that may not be accurate for your vehicle. Always look to the owner's manual whenever it comes to maintenance schedules and concerns regarding your vehicle.

Keep Vehicle Records

Now that you know what is a car tune up and what to expect during the tune up, you'll want to keep vehicle records on hand. These records will indicate what was changed and also what to keep an eye on in the coming months. The mechanic may suggest you don't need to have the brakes replaced right away but that you should eventually have new brakes installed.

Keeping the records will provide you with two important points of data. First, you'll have the recommendations on hand so you'll know when you need to have certain areas of your vehicle inspected and corrected in the coming months.

Secondly, when you take your vehicle into a mechanic the following year, you'll already have the necessary information on file. Having the information on hand is beneficial, should a mechanic attempt to replace spark plugs or other areas of the vehicle that you know were addressed during the previous year.

Spark plugs can quickly add up in costs (especially if you have 16 platinum-tipped park plugs). So keep these papers on hand and, when the mechanic gives you the repair suggestions, make sure to look over the previous year's changes so you know if what is being doing is necessary or not.

Related Questions

How Should I Find A Mechanic For My Vehicle?

Finding a trusted mechanic is critical to the overall life of your vehicle. You want to know that you're paying for the right service without overpaying. First, you'll want to take your vehicle to a mechanic who specializes on your type of vehicle. Some vehicles can be substantially different in terms of maintenance (such as a BMW or a Chevy). So look for a mechanic who is ASE-certified and who specializes in your vehicle type. From here, you'll want to look up online reviews regarding services and pricing.

How Often Should I Get A Tune Up?

An annual tune up is highly recommended. Not all the services will be the same every year, as some years you won't need a new belt, while other years you might need new spark plugs. Make sure it isn't a one-size-fits-all tune up. The mechanic should inspect the vehicle and perform the needed repairs for that year.

How Long Does A Tune Up Take?

This completely depends on the kind of vehicle you have and what needs to be done. Typically, larger vehicles (or at least larger engines) will take longer to tune up. For example, if you have a 4-cylinder vehicle and you need the spark plugs replaced, this can be done in a short amount of time (as long as other parts of the engine block do not need to be taken apart, which is the case sometimes). For a V-8, you have 16 spark plugs, which will take substantially longer. Considering this, a car tune up can last anywhere from a few hours to the entire day.

Are There Signs I Need A Tune Up?

If your vehicle isn't performing as it should, then it's a good idea to take your vehicle in for an inspection. However, there are a handful of generalized problems you'll want to have addressed in the form of a car tune up. These signs include stalling, your steering is leaning, odd noises, fuel economy is dropping, and if a warning light comes on.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we hope this article helps inform you if you've been asking "what is a car tune up?" These days, our vehicles are important parts of our lives and it is imperative that automotive problems are promptly addressed before they lead to more serious problems.