Tag Archives: auto

The Kiwi Love Affair with Utes and Old Cars

Old CarIf you visit or move to New Zealand, one of the first things you’ll probably notice is the rarity or lack of shiny new cars. Utes, or utility vehicles and old cars dominate even the most urbanised areas.

A study reports that the average age of cars passes fourteen years, suggesting that Kiwis are reluctant to dump their old cars. Let’s take a look at how this aged fleet epidemic took shape.

Why Kiwis love utes so much

Coupe utility, better known as a ‘ute’ in Kiwi and Aussie vocabulary, is a utility vehicle that looks like a pickup truck. Laden with beastly engines and a spacious cargo tray, Kiwis love this vehicle so much simply because it suits their rugged lifestyles.

Because there is a big overlap between city and country living, Kiwis don’t usually feel the need to own two cars for city and off-road driving. The ute is a lifestyle business owner or hobbypreneur’s best friend. And car dealers have learned to adapt to this seemingly eternal trend.

The good news, according to Rapid Loans, is that over the past five years, in order to meet safety and emissions standards, city-friendly and economic ute models are increasingly becoming a top choice among new and veteran buyers.

Why Kiwis hold on to old cars

It does not mean, however, that Kiwis are ignoring the warnings about safety and environmental risks associated with old vehicles. The reluctance to dump their old bangers seems to be deeply rooted in the national sensibility.

Kiwis are generally practical and environment-friendly people who believe that by buying used car imports or holding on to their cars longer are eco-friendlier choices. Affordability has also become an issue.

The cost of living in the major cities has become so challenging that buying a new car would drown low to middle-income residents in debt. But government incentives are under way to encourage locals to buy newer models to modernise the fleet.

Though it may seem that New Zealanders’ relationship with their old cars will endure in a few more years, the situation is improving. While they hold on to their utes and old cars dearly, they are very much willing to let go of the long-held perception that older vehicles are cheaper and friendlier to the environment.

Wheel Alignment And Its Effects On Handling

Wheel AlignmentWheel alignment is some sort of an afterthought to many drivers. Some even liken it to visiting the dentist for a teeth cleaning. Not exactly. There’s good reason for car equipment dealers, including JMCAutomotiveEquipment.com, to sell computerized wheel alignment systems. It’s because the alignment of a car’s wheels affect how it handles.

Toe Angle

The toe angle refers to the wheels being either turned inwards or outwards, as viewed from the top. A “toe-in” angle means that the wheels’ front portions are nearer to each other, while the rear ones are far apart. A “toe-out” angle is the complete opposite. It’s imperative to correct the toe angle because it affects turning response, tread life, and directional control.


Camber refers to the wheels tipping either inwards or outwards when viewed from the front or back. “Negative” camber means the wheels’ top portions tip inwards; “positive” is the reverse. In terms of cornering, a negative camber is ideal because it contradicts the suspension’s tendency to lift the contact patch. In other words, a car is less likely to tip over during a tight corner if the camber is negative. But, there’s a catch: uneven tire wear is imminent. As for the most “general” setting, factories go for zero or positive camber.


Otherwise known as the steering axis angle, caster points to the link between the car’s upper ball joint to the lower one as viewed from the side. All vehicles must have a positive caster angle, wherein the upper suspension’s pivot tilts “backwards.” If this angle is zero, there’s little to no steering wheel response. In other words, it’s quite unsafe. The same issue results from a negative caster angle.

Recommended Angles

Different alignment settings are available for varying driving preferences. Touring requires a negative 0.25 to 0.5 degree camber — positive 2.5 to 5.0 degree caster, and 0 to 3/16” inch toe. For autocross, these numbers are ideal: negative 0.5 to 10 degree camber, positive 2.5 to 5.0 degree caster, and 1/8” to 0 toe. Lastly, road racing requires negative 0.5 to 2.0 degree camber, positive 2.0 to 7.0 degree caster, and 0 to 3/16” in. toe.

It helps to stick to manufacturer’s recommendations in terms of wheel alignment. Make sure your car’s wheels are adjusted as such for maximum tire preservation and solid handling.

A Car Idling for 10 Minutes Wastes a Quarter Liter of Fuel

Red CarMost uninformed drivers assume that leaving the car idle for a prolonged time is normal and alright. This, however, is not really the case, and your exhaust engine begs to differ.

There are numerous occasions when you may end up leaving your car idle: while picking up your child from school, while stuck in nasty traffic, or just sitting in your driveway while waiting. If you leave your car idle for more than 10 minutes, though, it might be a better idea to just turn the engine off.

Waste More by Turning Off or On?

A common misconception among drivers is that starting your car wastes more gas than idling. Technically, it’s true — but for only 5 to 10 seconds.

According to the Hinkle Charitable Foundation, idling the vehicle wastes gas. Americans waste approximately 3.8 million gallons of gasoline due to voluntary idling every single day. Professionals believe that restarting an engine is more efficient than keeping it running and idle for a prolonged amount of time. Otherwise, you should just turn it off.

How Much Fuel do you Waste?

Fuel costs are unpredictable. One minute you’re enjoying the lull, the next thing you know, you are facing incremental costs. Because of the sudden ups and downs, it’s important to make the most out of every drop. Idling your car does the exact opposite.

The average driver spends an estimated 16 minutes of his time idling. Doing so amounts to around $116 a year for 4-cylinder engines. Keeping it idle for more than 10 seconds alone equates to 1/5 gallon of fuel. This offsets any cash you saved due to gas price reductions in recent months.

Other Damages by Idling

Apart from wasting fuel, excessive idling also corrodes your exhaust system. According to Hudiburg Subaru, Subaru Dealer in Oklahoma, the condensed water infiltrates the exhaust, which encourages corrosion. The replacement of the entire system costs more than $1000, depending on the make and model of your car. Further idling can also result in engine wear, which adds to unnecessary expenses.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are just sitting idly in your car, go ahead and turn of the engine. Your wallet and your car will love you more for it.


Get Smart: 3 Things to Remember When Going to Auto Auctions

autoFor practical folks, purchasing a vehicle through an auto auction comes as a good idea. Used cars can be procured for less and the automobiles are often kept in good condition, so as not to disappoint throngs of bidders.  Often, you’ll find slightly older models, but there are times when you’ll find the latest ones if you’re lucky. With a price guide and exceptional valuation services, Pickles.com.au says you can make the most of a car auction. Here’s how.

Auto Auctions are Unconventional Routes

People typically go for car dealers or used car sellers when buying an automobile. This means you won’t have a lot of competition when gunning for particular makes and models. What you can do is get to the auction early, so you can review some of the cars that will be auctioned off. By doing this, you can select targets, rank your choices and allocate bid funds for each.

Researching through NADA booklet or Kelly Blue Book is advisable, as the value guides can give you a good idea on how much to bid for each of the models you like. Match the prices with your budget and you’ll stand a great chance of not going home empty-handed.

Ask About the Car’s History

Auctioned off vehicles are often roadworthy, but it’s always better to be safe. Before the auction formally begins, you can ask about the car’s history, including repairs and maintenance. In doing so, you can see the vehicle’s problem areas and potential concerns for future repairs. You can see if a car is really worth your hard earned money.

Remember, you might be able to save from the auction, but if buying the car you like will only lead to a lengthy series of repairs, you’re better off going for a different model.

Know the Added Premiums

When bidding for a car, always take into account the premiums added to its price. By doing this, you won’t be surprised by hidden charges, which can make huge dents on your budget.  Ask the organisers of the auction beforehand, so you would know how much to allocate for each potential purchase.

Upon knowing these three simple reminders, you can now go and snag an automobile at an affordable price. Just check the Internet for car auctions in your area, and you could soon drive home a stylish coupe.