Armor All’s “What Life Did to Your Car” Contest (Enter for a Chance to Win a Camaro SS)

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Armor All for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

ArmorAllnonsampleBlogCopy.docTo enter the contest, simply go to Armor All’s Facebook page for “What Life Did to Your Car” and either Like the page or submit a photo or video of your car.

Now, normally I do sponsored articles for things I like primarily for the ancillary funds to hire people to produce more content for this site than what would have otherwise been posted.  However, a side benefit sometimes comes up like a couple weeks ago when Cooper Tires had me come test out their high performance tires on a track with sports cars and now Armor All sent me their new Extreme Shield Wax kit to try out, which even included a cloth and sponge… So money to hire Noreen from Picture the Recipe for a couple more infographics for you all to enjoy and a free wax kit for my car.  It’s win/win. 🙂  Win/win/win if one of you happens to win the autographed Camaro SS they are giving away via the above Facebook contest.

This was particularly well timed as my wife and I’s primary car was in desperate need of a cleaning with summer hitting (well supposedly. Here in Western Washington the weather has decided to attempt to live up to its somewhat unfounded reputation that it rains all the time).  In any event, our Honda has been through an awful lot in the seven years since its creation and our subsequent purchase of it, (183,000+ miles and counting in that span; another 60,000+ miles on my “old reliable” ’88 Toyota Tercel in that span as well.  We like us a good road trip.)

In any event, the highlights on the Extreme Shield Wax Armor All makes is as follows:

  • Repels dirt and grime
  • Creates an invisible protective shield between your paint and the elements
  • Enables easy removal of bugs and tree sap
  • Delivers unparalleled water beading
  • Dramatically reduces rinsing and drying time at future car washes.  Car will rinse to a shiny, almost dry surface.
  • Extremely easy application
  • No white residue or hazing
  • Can be applied in direct sunlight

Our Honda hasn’t shined this much in years, though to qualify, I don’t think I’ve ever waxed this particular car before so I don’t have much to compare it to in terms of the waxing department.  But nevertheless, the results were very good and it really was pretty easy to apply, shockingly so, in fact. If the original Karate Kid taught me anything it’s that waxing is tough and tedious, but with this it was literally just “wipe it on” then wipe away the excess, no buffing or waiting required.  I was not in a position to fully admire the resultant shine, with the complete lack of Sun this month at the foothills of the Cascades where I live, but at least I could verify that the “delivers unparalleled water beading” bit seems accurate. (Stupid historically rainy Western Washington June)  😉

Bonus Car Tips:

  • The optimal driving speed of your car to balance fuel efficiency with speed varies from car to car, but as a general rule, as your speed creeps over 50 mph, your fuel consumption will rise rapidly.  If you’re curious, the exact formula for “road load power” is r = av + bv2 + cv3, where r is the road load power; a is the rolling resistance (both from the road and certain of the car’s components such as friction in the wheel bearings); b is the power used by pumps in the car, as well as friction in various components; and c encapsulates everything to do with aerodynamic drag.  Even without perhaps knowing the exact a, b, and c values for your car and your area (air density and the like), you can see from this, the greatest effect on your fuel efficiency is always ultimately going to be “c” as you go faster, hence why driving at faster speeds on a freeway will affect your gas mileage so much.
  • A habit of idling your car for long periods is often not good for your engine.  This is because, depending on the car, when you’re idling, the oil pressure doesn’t always rise high enough to adequately circulate oil throughout the engine, particularly if you have an older car.  It also isn’t good for brand new cars where the engine is still being broken in and so it’s extremely important to make sure everything is being lubed properly.  For older cars, the oil pump might not exactly be in peak running order either.  My 1988 Toyota Tercel with over 300K miles on it, for instance, still runs like a champ despite complete neglect and ill-treatment by me, particularly in recent years as I sort of expect it to die anyways. If I leave it idling for long enough, the oil light will eventually come on, even when it has got plenty of oil.  Further, when that happens it will also start running rough and eventually will die.  It starts right back up, of course, but definitely likes it better when I avoid idling more than a few minutes at a time. Another downside of idling for long periods is that a habit of doing this regularly (like on a daily basis as you finish getting ready for work in the mornings) is that soot deposits can develop on the cylinder walls due to incomplete fuel combustion.
  • If you’re driving an automatic and you’re sitting at red lights or otherwise stopped for a relatively lengthy period, it’s generally a good idea to put your car in neutral until it’s time to go again.  When you’re sitting there in drive stopped, it puts some strain on your engine and transmission as the two are trying to make the car go, but you’re stopping it.  Like the above tips, this isn’t going to ruin anything over a short span, but if you want to minimize car maintenance costs and maximize the life span of your vehicle, it’s beneficial to develop good driving habits that take as much strain as possible off your car’s various components.
  • To help maximize the lifespan of your power steering pump, don’t get in the habit of holding your steering wheel in an extreme position to the right or left for more than a couple seconds at a time.  You’ll notice when you turn your wheel to the extreme at a certain point you’ll hear the power steering pump get much louder as it strains.  This extra strain is not a good thing long term.
  • If you’re not going to use your car for long periods (say, over a month), best to properly prepare it for storage as follows: fill the gas tank up all the way; add a fuel stabilizer and run the car for a few minutes with it in the tank; disengage the parking break to avoid corrosion and avoid having the brake pads eventually stick to the rotor, in extreme cases even perhaps needing ultimately pried off (I had this happen once); put the car on jacks to take the weight off the tires (not doing so once resulted in me having otherwise good tires that warped ever so slightly and made it impossible to drive at highway speeds); put the car in a sheltered enclosed area protected from mice who sometimes like to make a home out of your idle vehicle (had this happen once too!); remove the battery and place it on a trickle charger.
  • Normal car batteries are designed to always maintain a near full charge to maximize battery life.  As a consequence of this, they tend to not be designed to be fully discharged that many times over their lifespan (20-30 full discharges is sometimes tops they can do, even if brand new).  Given that car batteries will lose charge just sitting there every day, particularly in the winter, having your battery sit for a month or two without being charged can quickly kill the battery and then your alternator from having to constantly charge the battery when you do drive the car or when the battery won’t hold a charge, having to constantly power everything once the car is going.  This will actually also decrease fuel economy because when the alternator’s engaged, it takes power from the engine to do its work.  I’ve actually known someone who increased their fuel effeciency by about 10% on their car by simply switching to a deep cycle battery and manually wiring in an alternator cuttoff switch, so that it would never charge, rather just spin freely.  He’d then charge his battery up at home every night.  On a long trip, he could still flip the switch to have it charge or not like normal, but otherwise would leave it off.
  • On that note, an alternative to keeping a trickle charger on your battery to keep it topped off and ready is to look at Marine or Deep cycle batteries that have sufficient cold cranking amps for your particular automobile.  These tend to be physically bigger than a “normal” car battery, so make sure to measure the available space you have in your battery compartment.  This little trick worked wonders for me with my Tercel which the last couple years doesn’t get driven much.  Before I made the switch, I managed to burn out a couple year old battery and just a one year old alternator in a six months span. 😉  Since I’ve switched to a deep cycle battery, which is designed to take hundreds of full discharges, I don’t have to worry about killing the battery prematurely from sitting.  The key here is just to make sure the Marine or Deep Cycle battery you get has enough cold cranking amps and fits in your battery bay.
  • To keep your car paint job looking tip-top for as long as possible, besides waxing and the like, make a habit of parking your car in shade.  UV rays from the Sun certainly don’t do your paint any favors.  In extreme cases, it also can help certain internal components of your car, such as once when it was 105 degrees Fahrenheit where I was with my car in the sun all day and windows rolled up.  When I got in my car and tried to turn on the radio, I noticed that my radio controls had melted off.  I imagine this extreme temperature inside my car wasn’t doing any favors to other components exposed either. (As you can see from my examples, I learned some of these tips the hard way).
  • Pro-car/baby-tip, when there’s a baby on board, always put a layer of heavy duty plastic then a towel down under and around any baby seats.  Your upholstery and subsequent re-sale value of your car will thank you for it.  This is also essential when driving with dogs.
  • When airing up your tires, before putting air in, make sure the compressor you’re using (whether at a gas station or at home) isn’t putting out moisture with the air.  If put in your tires, this moisture can corrode your rims over time.
  • On that note, outside temperature greatly affects your tire pressure.  Given that optimal tire pressure is essential for maximizing fuel efficiency, as well as tire performance, it’s good to know that for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit drop or gain, in the general case, your tire pressure will go down or up by about 1-2 PSI (obviously the exact value depends on the tire).  In addition to that, your ties will gradually lose pressure naturally over time.  So it’s good to regularly check tire pressure.
  • If you happen to know you’re not going to be driving a car for much longer, but your old tires are shot, you should know you can buy used tires from many tire dealers.  They occasionally get people replacing tires when their old ones still had several months or sometimes even more than a year’s worth of driving life.  So if you ask, they are often willing to re-sell these, depending on the dealer and their current stock.  When you can get them, they are often a steal of a deal.
  • Don’t forget to replace those spark plugs periodically.  As an example of the type of neglect I’ve put my ’88 Tercel through over the years, I once realized that I hadn’t change the spark plugs in about 180,000 miles.  I only checked because my engine was starting to run really rough and sounded like a tractor and so I was looking into the problem.  I figured it was about the end of the road for the old girl, but then discovered that it was just that one of the spark plugs had completely corroded off (from the looks of it long before I got around to changing it), so at that point the engine was running off of essentially 3 cylinders.  The kicker came when another of the plugs also corroded off (in this case, the arm side that it arcs to, rather than most of the metal part of the spark plug as with the other).  This appeared to have happened very recently at that point, hence why the engine was running so rough and sounding weird, running on only two cylinders.  Despite this, I still ran it for about 1000 miles before checking into the problem, discovering the above (in my defense I was swamped with work and doing my Master’s degree).  Upon replacing them, my gas mileage shot up to levels it hadn’t been at in years (about 42 mpg on the highway and 35 mpg in town; at that point it had descended to about 32 mpg on the highway and 12 mpg in town before the spark plug change).  So, moral of the story, replace your spark plugs at the recommended times.  They’re super cheap and super easy to replace and may greatly improve your gas mileage if you’ve neglected them long enough. 😉

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