Chilton Editors' Blog

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  • Does Your Car's Name Mean Something? How to Decode Import Car Model Names

    By Ryan Lee Price Would you drive a Ford Pastelogram? How about a Mongoose Civique or a Utopian Turtletop? These were suggestions from modernist poet Marianne Moore, solicited by Ford’s David Wallace, manager of marketing research for Ford’s...
  • How To Tell If Your Wheel Bearings Are Bad

    You Hear Noise While Driving When a wheel bearing or hub assembly is bad, it will usually make a noise. The noise can vary when you turn, and also with speed. A grinding noise indicates that your wheel bearings are bad, and you should replace...
  • Cylinder Head Gaskets - Sealing Under Pressure

    By Jim Marotta A head gasket's job is to seal combustion gases within the combustion chamber and to prevent coolant and oil from escaping the engine at the head-to-block joint. These requirements have not changed over the years, but the engine...
  • Which Antifreeze is Right for Your Vehicle?

    Back in the day, no matter which brand you chose, antifreeze was green. The glycol-based formula contained silicates as corrosion inhibitors. You mixed the antifreeze 50/50 with water and poured it in the radiator. As the engine operated, the antifreeze...
  • Maintaining and Inspecting Your Automotive Lift

    Fourth in a Series of Occasional Posts on Shop Maintenance Photography and Story by Jim Marotta Whether you use the in-ground or above-ground variety, a lift is one of the most important pieces of equipment in your shop and should be foremost...
  • Achieving Better Fuel Economy and High Performance with Gasoline Direct Injection

    By Jim Marotta Trying to choose between performance and economy is often a very difficult decision, and usually there has to be a compromise between the two. However, one technology is helping to power gasoline engines to new heights of performance...
  • Maintaining Your Shop's Computer Equipment

    Third in a Series of Occasional Posts on Shop Maintenance Photography and Story by Jim Marotta A clean temperate climate and a consistent flow of electricity Where would we be today without our computers? They power our shop management systems...
  • What You Need to Know About Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

    By Jim Marotta A tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) uses electronics to monitor the air pressure inside automotive tires. The system transmits real-time tire pressure information to the driver of the vehicle using a simple low pressure warning...
  • Why You Need to Maintain Your A/C Recovery and Recycling Machine

    Second in a Series of Occasional Posts on Shop Maintenance Photography and Story by Jim Marotta It's a sweltering August afternoon and an overheated customer comes in saying the A/C isn't working. Earlier this week you convinced him to...
  • The Air Compressor - A Most Valuable Tool

    First in a Series of Occasional Posts on Shop Maintenance Photography and Story by Jim Marotta The Compressor Room Few pieces of shop equipment are used as regularly as air compressors. To ensure that an air compressor continues to run smoothly...
  • Expect the Unexpected with Electronic Stability Control

    Story and Photography by Jim Marotta “A truly stable system expects the unexpected, is prepared to be disrupted, waits to be transformed.” ~ Tom Robbins It seems that James Bond might drive this car, with a system that unites the...
  • Kicking the Dirt to the Curb: The Never-Ending Battle to Keep Your Car Clean

    Detailing: Part One Story and Photography by Ryan Lee Price Once the water evaporates, what is left are rings of crystals bonded to the paint and crusted with dirt. The Shiny Side On the first day, God created sunlight and dirt; four...
  • How to Restore Old Bolts

    f your wheel bolts are original, go to your car, pull one out and take a look at it (just one!): It's a simple threaded iron bolt likely covered in what appears to be a thick layer of dirt and/or grease. Upon closer inspection, the dirt and grease...
  • Repairing Damaged Bolt Threads

    Story and Photography by Ryan Lee Price Strip a thread? Break off a bolt head? Nothing can halt a project on its heels quicker than a broken bolt or fastener, stripped nut or rounded off capscrew. The weakest point of any design is where two pieces...
  • Replacing CCFL Dashboard Light Bulbs

    By Gene Hannon Jr. Some dashlights, such as on some Infinitis, have CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) bulbs, which need to be carefully replaced and soldered. If you determine a CCFL bulb needs replacement , look for a qualified...
  • Ford and Lincoln 4-Wheel Air Suspension - 4WAS

    By Jim Marotta History Ford introduced 4-Wheel Air Suspension (4WAS) on the 1995 Explorer, and has since made it available on all three generations of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. These big trucks weigh about three tons, so they...
  • Why Should I Rotate My Tires? Facts, Fiction, and Benefits

    By Gene Hannon Jr. “How come every time I have service work performed the shop always wants to rotate my tires?” Tires are one of the most critical components on our vehicles and most of us overlook them. If you...
  • Hybrid Battery Service

    Story and Photography by Jim Marotta One of only a few specialized tools necessary to work on a hybrid vehicle -- hybrid electric insulating gloves -- are required for safety when disengaging the battery pack for testing. The biggest obstacle...
  • Air Pump Ailments – Secondary Air Injection Systems

    Spark-ignition engines produce the largest amount of pollution during a cold start. Until the engine and the catalytic converter reach operating temperature, more fuel is needed, producing larger quantities of carbon monoxide and unburnt hydrocarbons...
  • Ford and Lincoln 4-Wheel Air Suspension

    Story and photography by Jim Marotta Ford introduced 4-wheel air suspension (4WAS) in 1995 and has since made it available on all three generations of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator. System components: The electric air compressor...
  • Gasoline Direct Injection

    A conventional fuel-injected engine supplies all cylinders with a mist-like mixture of air and fuel that is flushed into the cylinders during the intake stroke and ignited by the spark plug. The throttle valve determines how much of the air/fuel mixture...
  • BMW Beginnings: The Crucial Years of BMW’s Infancy

    The story of how BMW began is as confusing as any story about a major company’s initial development (see Cadillac’s early history ), made even more so by the language and business practices of another country. BMW’s emergence involved...
  • Wrenches, Sockets, and More -- Automotive Hand Tool Basics

    Which automotive hand tools do you need? If you buy quality tools, they will last longer than your cars—or even you, but they can pay you back in just a few repair jobs..As you begin to perform maintenance on your car or truck, you might need to buy some...
  • A Quick and Easy Way to Bleed Brakes

    Story and Photography by Ryan Lee Price One of the most important steps in making the brakes safe and reliable for everyday use is to properly bleed the system. The concept behind bleeding a brake system is to remove any air bubbles left in the lines...
  • 75th Anniversary of the Jeep: One Man Behind the Machine -- Karl K. Probst

    “ As to the riding qualities of the Jeep, a chiropractor should be standard for each car. ” —Charles “Harry” Payne The Jeep is ubiquitous as America itself. It has been to battle, to camp, to the highest mountain and the...