Our company would like to begin by stating that there is no connection with any of the brands recommended; nor does our company receive funding, free product or any other means of compensation for endorsing their products. They are recommended because they work.
|Motor Oil & Filter||Shocks|
|Gasoline & Gasoline Filter||Brakes|
|Transmissions / Differentials||Interiors|
|Tires & Wheels||Exhaust System|
The drive train is the heart and soul of your car, the following will all but eliminate driveproblems allowing you to drive your car indefinitely. of an automobile and drivetrain dysfunction is the main cause of owner dissatisfaction.
Motor Oil & Filter:
All oils are not created equally. As a matter of fact they are not even close in most cases. The following is a ‘primer’ on oils and will cover mineral oils and all of the synthetics that are used for automotive application.
Distillation of crudes gets us gasoline, petroleum distillates, asphalt and lubricating oil. All crude oils have molecules of various sizes; some of these shear easily and some do not shear easily. Also, they usually have different boiling points. Multi viscosity oils are usually a blend of several of these base stocks with viscosity index improvers and other additives.
NOTE: In 1996 the phosphorus content of all energy conserving oils was dropped from approximately 1600 PPM to 800PPM. As a result, there have been some valve train wear problems with many oils. Before the 2004 models, all energy saving oils will have their phosphorus dropped to approximately 400PPM in order to insure catalytic converter life for 150,000 miles. This will exacerbate the problem. As of this writing (April 2003) Mobil1 with SuperSyn in 0w-40, the European spec oil, still has over 1000 PPM of phosphorus. There are no valve train wear problems with this oil. It is a combination of the patented SuperSyn technology and the added phosphorus. If you car requires an energy saving oil we suggest that you stock up on this before August of 2003 when the formula must change. It is available only from AutoZone. We should note that the non "energy saving" oils will always have 1600 ppm of phosphorus and we have used Mobil 1 in this weight (15w-50) since 1986 with no problems. Two cars presently get the European spec oil for warranty considerations as they must have energy saving oil. As such, these LS's get the European Spec 0w-40. When the warranty is out they will be converted to 15w-50 and the only car that will still use the 0w-40 will be the drag race car which is run dead cold and shifted at 7300RPM's. With this forewarning, read about synthetics and make your own choice.
Having stated the very basic differences in oils, it is recommended that all automobiles with relatively low mileage, under 25,000 - 50,000 miles, depending on the care previously given to the oil change frequency, use a PAO synthetic.
Our company recommends MOBIL 1 synthetic and only MOBIL 1 synthetic motor oils. Even in 15-50w, MOBIL 1 will flow at —55F and will not coke until temperatures are in the 500F range while giving a lubricity that virtually eliminates all engine wear. Varnish and sludge formation become almost non-existent as do lubrication related engine repairs. We have seen engines with over 200,000 miles that had all internal components meet new specifications! One final point: MOBIL 1 is the oil of choice for most Formula 1 cars and road racing vehicles. The red line for Formula 1 cars is between 17,000 and 18,000rpms. Think about this, it says quite a lot.
During the warranty period one should use the viscosity recommended by the manufacturer. In reality the 10-30w will protect at any temperatures encountered in all fifty states.
The oil change interval should be every 3,000 to 5,000 miles depending on the severity of your driving conditions. Remember that city driving is far harder on the oil than highway driving as is towing and extended high-speed motoring.
The oil filter should be replaced at, every oil change and only quality filters should be used. OEM filters are recommended, or the following aftermarket brands: MOBIL 1 and PUROLATOR. Other equally good brands may exist.
Finally, a word about additives - NO. To be direct most modern additives are directed at engine wear and protection and they are probably beneficial with conventional oils. The lubricity of the MOBIL 1 is so great that these additives have virtually no effect besides costing you your money.
An area often overlooked is gasoline. Many people give no thought to their car’s fuel tank and what they put in it. They are under the impression that if the gas has the recommended octane rating that everything will be o.k. - not so. When buying gas, buy only gas from one of the major refining companies. Companies like EXXON, CHEVRON, AMOCO, MOBIL, SUNOCO etc. are all fine in that they have the necessary additives to keep your fuel system clean.
A word about octane ratings - they are not linear. That is a 92 octane is not one percent less that 93 octane. That one point is considerably more and you need to remember this point. Generally speaking, one should use the octane recommended by the manufacturer or one higher. Where high octane is a requirement the highest octane available at ALL of their stations here on the east coast is SUNOCO with a minimum of 94. In reality here it tests 95 to 95.5 on a regular basis.
Gasoline additives are generally not needed except to clean a dirty system. Most gas does a good job of keeping fuel injectors clean however some cars seem to have particularly sensitive injectors. One product that works exceptionally well in keeping injectors 99% clean is RED LINE SI - 1 & SI - 2 Injector and Valve detergent. It has been added to a 92 Corvette’s tank at about 20,000 miles and the car felt more responsive. Using this at 5,000 mile intervals for the health of your fuel system is recommended.
RED LINE injector cleaner is available at Pep Boys and various other outlets.
There are two other items that have a great effect on your fuel system: the gas and air filters. Gas filters should be changed every 20,000 miles as should the air filter. For gas filters we recommend OEM filters particularly in fuel injected cars. Most modern fuel injection systems operate at high pressures and a dirty filter will reduce the level of performance and efficiency. Also remember that cars burn oxygen and the more oxygen an engine gets the more efficient it becomes. In cases where the maximum amount of air flow is needed we recommend using a K & N air filter. These filters flow better that any other filter available and they can be cleaned and oiled for indefinite use.
The ignition system of a modern car is electronic and almost worry free. There are only really two items to be concerned with: spark plugs and ignition wires. For optimum performance spark plugs should be changed every 10,000 miles and we recommend using either OEM spark plugs or another major brand of the same heat range. A.C., CHAMPION, AUTOLITE, BOSCH and NGK all make good spark plugs and you may have a preference however, we would advise against some of the ‘gimmick’ spark plugs. Platinum plugs do offer a longevity advantage over standard spark plugs. Do not leave a spark plug in for more than 20,000 miles be they platinum, gold or whatever.
If you talk to an engine builder, specifically a performance engine builder, they will tell you that there is virtually no difference in power produced from one spark plug to another. The big differences are in heat range accuracy. Heat range is critical for optimal performance, especially in a high performance application. Here we can recommend three brands of spark plugs in the order of preference: Champion, Autolite and Bosch. The reason heat range is so critical has to due with engine detonation which can destroy an engine instantly. Any of the above plugs are quite accurate in their heat ranges but Champion seems to be the most consistent in heat range accuracy. This is quite a turn around for Champion as in the late 60’s and 70’s they were not held in particularly high esteem.
Finally, avoid any plug that uses a ‘welded on’ exotic electrode substance such as platinum. If you are going to use platinum, make sure that the entire electrode is fabricated from platinum. One last plug tip; ask around in the better auto supply houses and you will find that one company makes a lot of their competitor’s products to their competitors specifications; you will be surprised.
Ignition wires are almost a specialty item especially with the new ignition systems. They carry a great voltage load and with time they will break down. Replace these every 50,000 miles with OEM ignition wires. Aftermarket ignition wires can fry an ignition system due to incompatible resistance that overtaxed the ignition system.
There is an exception to this advice, and that is the addition of an aftermarket ignition system. Many street cars and virtually 100% of the racecars use an aftermarket ignition system. The reason has to do with two things: spark energy and energy delivered over a broad RPM range.
Finally, your car’s antifreeze should be changed every two years to insure the desired protection from the cold as well as acid formation that can be destructive. At this time your hoses and belts should be examined and replaced if necessary. When replacing antifreeze we are going to recommend that you use only TEXACO/HAVOLINE antifreeze. The Texaco formula is free from abrasive silicates that are found in many popular brands of antifreeze. These silicates can harm your water pump and cause other damage. TEXACO antifreeze is compatible with either aluminum or cast iron engine components and can be used in all automobile applications.
Most people ignore their transmission and their differential until they have a problem. Our objective is to eliminate the problems before they surface.
Automatic transmissions require very little service. We recommend changing the transmission fluid and the filter at 5,000 miles and then at every 25,000 miles. Baring abuse, this should allow your transmission to go at least 100,000 miles without any problems. Regular towing or other severe use will necessitate a fluid change at least once a year or at 15,000 miles.
Torque converters are basically a fluid coupling between your engine and transmission; some are efficient and some are not efficient. The key is to find the following combination: the most torque multiplication (efficiency) for your specific needs, stone reliability and real world longevity.There are myriads of companies that make torque converters and other after market accessories such as PROMS, exhaust systems and the like. Well how do you choose? I think that the answer is the experience of others who have hands on with the product or products that you are considering.In torque converters, we have personal experience with one in a 522cu.in., 820HP, 69 Camaro. This car has been converted from a drag race car to a 'pro street' car. We know others who have experience with the same brand in C5 Corvettes and we will soon have one in a rear wheel drive Impala. The only brand that we personally recommend is Pro Torque. This should beg the question, why? Pro Torque is a family run business and, they do one thing only, torque converters, and they do it well. They make the most power and they are bullet proof. When you buy one of their converters you often get an off the shelf unit but you will get a custom unit just as often. It depends on your needs, Horsepower, torque rating, camshaft, gear ratio, vehicle weight, converter diameter and application are all taken into consideration. Then your application is addressed; either custom built or off the shelf.Why Pro Torque? Their products work. The usual improvement is from .2-.5 seconds in a quarter mile with as much as twenty five more rear wheel horsepower, and, their are no engine modifications. As far as real world driving is concerned this means far greater responsiveness in daily driving.
If you drive a car with an automatic transmission, you owe it to yourself to talk to the folks at Pro Torque. You owe it to your transmission too.
Manual transmissions should have their lubricant changed at 5,000 miles and then at every 50,000 miles. Many standard transmissions use motor oil as a lubricant and many use gear oil ( hypoid ) as a lubricant. It is essential that a transmission designed to use motor oil is not filled with gear lubricant. Use either a synthetic motor oil or a synthetic gear lube in all manual transmissions, unless a non-synthetic is specifically indicated by the manufacturer.
There is a twofold reason for this recommendation. As with the engine oil a synthetic will greatly reduce friction and wear on the transmission components giving your transmission extreme longevity. It will also allow your transmission to run at cooler temperatures which will also aid longevity. MOBIL 1 synthetic lubricant should be used in all manual transmissions. The use of additives is not recommeded.
Differentials using gear oil should also use MOBIL 1 synthetic gear lubricant. In the case of a limited slip differential a limited slip additive must be used. Differential lubricant should be changed every 50,000 miles. If ‘chattering’ develops in a limited slip differential the lubricant should be changed and additive added immediately to prevent damage to the clutch packs.
There is little maintenance required on the rolling portion of your automobile but what little that is required should be paid attention to in order to avoid problems.
Tires & Wheels
Use a coating of P21S wax, followed by a light application of Pam. (If you use Pam remove the tire and wheel from the car to prevent getting Pam on the brake components.)
Tires will eventually have to be replaced and most people usually have a brand or a price in mind. Use a good tire, most of the name brand tires are more than adequate. MICHELIN, B.F. GOODRICH, GOODYEAR, FIRESTONE, etc. are all good tires. Avoid the no name brands often found at discount chain stores as they tend to be of lesser quality. In the long run the quality tire is less expensive and usually a lot safer.
There are also times that tires which appear to be perfectly sound should be replaced. Usually the tread is in excellent shape with more than 50% of the tread still available but the tire is reduced to junk. The reason is that the tires have vulcanized; that is, they have become very hard and have turned into a virtual plastic. When this happens, traction and strength are compromised to the point of being very dangerous. Strangely, we see this mainly on Z and Y rated tires. There is speculation that this has to do with the compounds that must be used in these tires.
The following is a pretty good way to judge the health of your performance tires. On a warm day nail the throttle is 1st gear; if the tires ‘squeal’ and go the tires are good. If the rear end of the car slides around as if you were on a wet or icy road, with no ‘squealing’, then the tires should be replaced. The bottom line is that hard tires are dangerous tires; we would all do well to remember this fact.
One of the most controversial areas of maintenance are the brakes. Most people replace their brakes with aftermarket components and let it go at that, we believe this to be wrong. Drum brakes are more forgiving than disc brakes and we believe disc brakes to be often adversely effected by aftermarket brake pads. The reason for this has to do with the hardness or softness of the brake pad and the effect that this has on the disc and brake longevity.
Most OEM brake pads are designed to work with a specific rotor material at specific temperatures and wear rates. Almost all rotor warpage or excessive wear is caused by pads that are not fully compatible with the manufacturer’s design. Staying with OEM replacement pads usually eliminates these problems and, as such, we recommend them. PERFORMANCE FRICTION brake pads are a superb aftermarket product.
Your cars finish needs to be protected be it one of the newer clear coated finishes or an older traditional finish. Paint oxidizes with time and will eventually dull and dissipate all of which can be avoided with a little care.
All paints contain ‘oils’ that are necessary. These oils are depleted by sunlight, oxygen, air borne pollutants and incorrect care. More often than not, it is neglect that destroys a finish. To protect your finish several simple steps are necessary. First, wash your car on a regular basis with any commercial, liquid car wash product. Never use household detergents, as they will strip the necessary oils from your paint.
Avoid silicone based products if at all possible. Go to a quality automotive painting facility and ask them about the use of silicone on your car’s paint and you will be told to avoid it at all cost.
Interiors and their care are probably the most misunderstood and the most mistreated. The single most important care that you can give your car’s carpets and cloth seats is a weekly vacuuming. This removes the majority of the grit that destroys these fabrics. For really dirty or stained interiors household carpet and upholstery shampoos work very well.
Leather, vinyl and hard plastic surfaces are often damaged or ruined by using one of the so called ‘protectant’ products. These products are usually silicone based and they have a deleterious effect in the long run. They also impart an artificial gloss to the surfaces giving them a harsh look. When applied to a steering wheel or to a leather seating surface they can be dangerous in that they are literally slippery.
There is a product that both cleans and protects these surfaces without changing their appearance or feel in any way. The product is LEXOL-ph, a leather cleaner and conditioner that works equally well on vinyl and plastics. Lexol will even remove any silicone protectants previously applied, nothing that we have tried to date will do this.
If you follow these suggestions your car should last as long as you want it to; just remember - proper maintenance is cheap, car’s aren’t, so take the time to do things right.
The following will apply to street legal ‘cat back’ systems only and does not address racing applications.
First, the two most significant improvements for the dollar are opening up both the intake and exhaust systems to allow the engine to breathe more efficiently. The intake has been addressed via the K&N filters and/or systems.
The exhaust is a bit more tricky as claims and reality are often based on mythology and, real world livability is often an issue, more on these in a bit.
For maximum efficiency, replace the restrictive exhaust manifold with a set of quality headers that bolts directly to the catalytic converters. These are usually referred to as ‘shorty headers.’ If possible, it is recommended that you purchase headers that are fabricated from stainless steel and have them coated by a reputable firm such as Jet Hot or Airborne Coatings. This coating process actually helps the thermal efficiency of the system as well as adds an attractive appearance. Finally, they insulate well and allow cooling much more rapidly then a non-coated system.
As to the cat back system itself, the market is best described as a Pandora’s box. With most systems there is a trade off, and, depending upon your viewpoint it may or may not be acceptable. We have had experience with the following systems: Borla, Corsa, Flowmaster and Tn-Flow. Based on these experiences either the Corsa or Flowmaster is recommended.
First, most cat back systems do offer more exhaust flow than a stock unit and the exhaust note can be from mellow to obnoxious. The key is to find both the performance you want and the sound that you want without in cabin resonance. Cabin resonance can be so bad as to virtually eliminate the ability to speak with a passenger or listen to the sound system. If you think that this is not an issue, try driving a couple of hundred miles with a passenger who you cannot speak to without almost shouting.
Based on such experiences there, is another consideration; systems that use any form of packing material tend to get louder and more cabin intrusive with age.
The Corsa and Flowmaster systems do not use any type of packing in their systems and each works in a different way. Our personal preference is the Corsa system. The reason for this is two fold; first, at cruising speeds the system is totally quiet, usually quieter than the stock system. Secondly, at full throttle the exhaust note is awesome. Corsa achieves this by a patented process called "Reflective Sound Cancellation". Basically their system is a straight through design that has small channels that carry exhaust pulses from and back to the inlet of the muffler. These returning pulses cancel out the next pulse at cruising speeds by meeting the next exhaust pulse 180 degrees out of phase. Each pulse negates the other giving a near silent exhaust note while cruising. However, at full throttle, the exhaust pressure is much higher and, as such, it effectively goes straight through the muffler giving a very healthy exhaust note.
The systems are constructed from stainless steel and are guaranteed for as long as you own the vehicle. The exhaust flow improvement is usually between 40-45% greater than the OEM unit; when combined with headers, it is greater yet.
Corsa offers their systems with two levels of exhaust note. One is best described as being crisp and reserved and the other is best described as being bolder in exhaust note.
Presently there is one limitation to the Corsa system. They are only available for selected models at present but they are constantly expanding their line of systems.
The Flowmaster system uses a series of baffles or chambers that offer minimal resistance to exhaust flow. They are the number one system used in most "street legal" drag racing vehicles and they offer various sound levels from mild to wild.
Flowmaster offers a wide variety of applications for almost every vehicle and they offer many custom applications too. They are constructed from aluminized steel and offer great performance.
In cabin resonance seems to vary from none to fairly intrusive depending on the system configuration that you choose. Then again, they probably offer the most variety in a true performance system