Off Road Racer

How Often Should I Change My Tires?

barbara terryI have always liked the little tricks of the trade. When I first started driving, my mom helped me out with this one. You are going to love the simplicity of it. Take a standard US penny with Abe Lincoln’s head on it. Insert the penny into a space between the tread of the tire. If you can see the top of his majestic head, you better take a trip down to your local tire joint and slap 4 spanking new ones on your mode of transportation. A more conservative approach would be to pay attention to the mileage allotted for the life of the tire or if you think the tread is getting a little weak, then get your tire store to inspect them and give you their opinion. I would recommend spending an little extra dough and get the Road Hazard Warranty offered, it will save you in the long run pertaining to the life of your tires, also it is very important to have your tires balanced and rotated every 5000 to 7000 miles.

I would love my readers to write in with any other little tricks of the trade that I may not be aware of. Looking forward to checking them out!

Question: Sent in by Tom Brown. My bright lights are not working on my car.
Answer: Hi Tom, Okay, a few things may be wrong here. First of all I would check to see if it was just the bulb, then I would recommend replacing whichever headlight you is not illuminating. If the problem still exists you will need to venture into the bright light switch on your steering column, or if you are driving around in your grandparents car, you will have to check into the switch on the floorboard, you know the one down on the floor by your left foot.

Question: Sent it by Rebecca Chung. Hi, My car seems to have a hard time starting and not stalling in wet weather. Will you please tell me why?
Answer: If you car runs great in dry weather but is impossible to keep running in wet weather, it is more than likely a crack in your distributor cap. I do not know how dirty you want to get your hands under the hood performing mechanical repairs. I would suggest next time it is damp, pop your hood, locate your distributor cap, unscrew it, take a clean dry cloth and wipe off the under belly of the cap making sure it is very dry, then replace it by screwing it back on. If your car starts right up, then we have figured out the repair that will need to be addressed. Keep in mind though that as soon as a little moisture works its way back to that cap, the problem will reoccur. Most importantly always think safety first. I am all about being very careful and safe when I am working on anything related to my car. Always make sure you turn your engine off, engage your emergency brake before attempting any chore. Keep in mind that those parts under the hood that resemble a jumbled mess of metal get very hot so be extremely cautious and careful not to burn yourself.


Barbara Terry

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Dangers At The Gas Pump

ImageBelieve it or not pumping gas is not the safest daily routine out there. You might think that I am going to discuss the obvious hazards of smoking at the gas station. I believe that you can figure that one out. There should be clear warnings about static electricity posted at your local gas station stating the risks involved while pumping the fuel that gets us down the road. The Petroleum Equipment Institute is campaigning to make us more aware of the dangers associated with static electricity at gas pumps. Being a woman trying to multitask, while pumping gas I usually get back in my car, adjust the radio to my favorite song, call my boyfriend to remind him to pick up my dry cleaning, and of course check to see if I am in need of more of what most of us women love most,…quality makeup. Static electricity can be created while getting in and out of your car and then finishing filling your tank. Fires have been started and deaths have occurred. I will warn you to never use a cell phone and please avoid getting back into your car until you have finished your duty at the gas pump. If you absolutely have to get back into your car while the gas is pumping, make sure you get out, shut the door, and touch the metal on the door before you grasp the nozzle. This will discharge whatever static electricity may be lingering around your body. On the other hand, we should simply be more like the men in our lives and stick with the procedure until your fuel tank on your vehicle is full.

Question: Sent in by Randy Sciletti. My wife’s 1996 Dodge Neon blows a ton of white smoke as she is driving, what do you think the problem is?
Answer: Hi Mr. Sciletti, Dodge had a serious problem with the motor they put into the Neon, starting with the first year it came out in 1995, you more than likely have a blown head gasket or as some mechanically oriented people refer to it as a “cracked head”. Basically, compressed air from a cylinder is mixing with the fluids in your cooling system and it creates a white colored steam. You can either fix the cracked head if extensive damage has not been done to the motor or I would suggest checking into a rebuilt motor that will fit the year and the make of your car, preferably not another Neon motor.

Question: Sent it by Tammy Frankel. I noticed the other day that I had a bubble like thing on one of my tires, what is this and is it dangerous?
Answer: Okay, the store where you purchased your tires should without an argument take the defective tire back and replace it at no charge, provided of course that they are still under the warranty subject to mileage limitations. The bubble is a weakness in the tire usually caused by an error in manufacturing or as a result of unusual contact (e.g. a curb). As far as it being dangerous, picture this, you are on the highway doing 80 mph and the tire blows out because of the weak spot which has now formed a bubble. This could be a life threatening situation. I strongly suggest replacing the defective tire ASAP.


Barbara Terry

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Purchasing A New Car with Paintwork

What I mean by “Paintwork” is a vehicle that has been painted by a body shop somewhere on the car’s hood, door, fender, etc. A car should not be overlooked simply because it has had repairs that include painting. Frequently my customers ask “Has the car ever been in an accident?” As they ask this question, it appears that they have a preconceived idea that if it has been in accident, then I will not buy it. Would I buy a car for myself with paintwork or even one that had been seriously smacked around to create frame damage? Yes, as long as the repair was performed properly and the car isn’t driving down the road sideways. Paintwork can be minor, such as a car that had been keyed from a scorned partner in a relationship or a fender bender or major as a result of a smash-um up collision where a compact import meets a one ton dual pick-up truck (when the two vehicles have had a very intimate conversation on the freeway swapping paint and metal). Don’t walk away just because there has been some repair work. My most interesting personal experience was colliding with a bull Elk about the size of a thoroughbred racehorse one night in Colorado. I was driving a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee about 70 miles per hour when the two of us met eye to eye. After the impact most of the front end of the Jeep was sitting right in the passenger front seat and the elk was pretty toasted and twisted up in the motor. I walked away with a concussion, (took about a week to feel better). The point is that after some extensive repair, that Jeep it is now driving down the road just fine. So just because you learn that your next potential vehicle has been in an accident because there has been paintwork, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the vehicle was run over by an 18 wheeler and now has major problems. I would definitely have it inspected, run a history report on it if you like and see it through. You will likely get a good deal on a vehicle that you will be happy with for a long time.


Barbara Terry

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2005 Scion TC – Review by Barbara Terry

Barbara TerryThe first time I spotted the Scion TC across the parking lot on the morning my crew and I were scheduled to tape a segment on this cute little beauty I was skeptical and wondered if its manufacturer, the Scion Division, would be as successful as their affiliate, Toyota. I have driven everything from an unidentifiable piece of junk to the highest-powered machines made by man. If the Mercedes Kompressor and the older model Volkswagon Scirroco got together to produce a cool looking baby….the Scion TC is it!. When my hand hit the gearshift and my foot hit the gas I was more than impressed. This cosmetically appealing 2.4 liter 4 cylinder comes loaded with standard equipment that many manufactures would call options and charge extra.

Barbara Terry is a female car expert. 2005 Scion TC (Interior)To list a few…dual airbags, power windows and door locks, power outside mirrors, outside temperature gauge, cruise control, alloy wheels, Pioneer AM/FM/CD unit and satellite compatible, anti-lock brakes, a first-aid kit and my favorite a Panorama Moon roof with a power slide…wow!!! Do I have any complaints? Only those associated with every compact car out there on the market. I am curious to see how this new model will endure after its first year on the market (e.g, interior components etc.). Many manufactures have had nightmares on their hands with their new model’s first year release. I will more than likely do a follow up to this article after this cutie has been rolling down the streets with input from the multitude of consumers that will be attracted to the Scion TC. If you are looking for a sporty look with loaded standard equipment (including the option of 5 speed or automatic transmission) this car has tremendous value power. Priced at less than 18,000 dollars, you are getting a lot of bang for your buck. Scion has a progressive marketing program and a unique way to let you custom design your own model to your liking. If you haven’t taken a gander at their products I highly encourage you to do so.


Barbara Terry

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Taking Time Out to Remember – Barbara Terry

Is it possible that today’s technology is limiting the enjoyable experiences associated with tinkering under the hood and manipulating the motor?  As I look back to a less complicated time growing up in Texas, I picture a rumble and tumble 10 year old girl sitting on a stack of phone books enabling her to see over the steering wheel of a 2 ton hay truck with a four on the floor.  It seemed so easy to pop the clutch to get the truck engine started so that we could get back to delivering hay or my favorite pouring gas into the carburetor in order to restart the engine after running out of gas. Remember when the mechanics fixed your car? Now they just replace the part(s) that the computer tells them are defective. As I got older, I learned to change the oil, replace spark plugs, change the thermostat and performing other routine maintenance functions. Today’s engines are so jam packed with electronics and sensors that we don’t do this much anymore.  You don’t get the same rewarding feeling of knowing your engine and taking care of it by taking it to the dealership. The “factory recall” has become a modern day phenomenon. It seems too often that we find ourselves inconvenienced as we are forced to visit the local dealership because of a factory recall.  Factory Recalls are in fact a manufacturer’s apology for being technologically incorrect. It is difficult to admit that there has been a major screw up in the factory as a result of a failure to properly engineer your complex modern vehicle and please excuse the resulting major pain in the butt and possible endangerment that we are causing you. Growing up in a time without all of today’s modern bells and whistles when we used our brains instead of an on board computer, I do not remember my parents having to take any of our vehicles in for such a repair.  Many of these defects occur in vehicles that are a first year model in the market. My advice is to shy away from buying the first year of the new model if you can. Let the manufacturers deal with getting all of the kinks out of this new design; that way you will be able to enjoy it more on the road instead of staring at it while it sits all alone up on the repair lift.  Perhaps that is one reason why we love our classic vehicles along with the fact that they remind us of our youth. This is why I ooohh and ahhed the other day as I spotted a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Super Sport triple black convertible driving down the freeway with the top down watching the slobbering dog sitting in the passenger seat!  The technology that we all benefit from today is amazing; however, I do have to say that in some respects it contributes to the throw away and don’t fix it lifestyle most of us lead today in this fast paced world in which we live and drive.

Personally, I am grateful for what we have today and yet I miss the simpler times!

Barbara Terry

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The Similarity between Humans and Cars – Barbara Terry

barbaraterryAs I was going for my daily run yesterday, I came to the conclusion that we as humans are very similar to the cars we drive and covet.  Humans come in different years, makes, models and color.   Humans also vary between simple, eccentric, expensive and some of us have that flair for the wild side and others are more on the conservative side.  So if a car is considered a classic after being 25 years old, should a human be considered the same after 25 years of age?  Okay now lets talk about the cars that we gander at.  We have economy, sporty, luxury, high-line, exotic…and yes some cars have a history of getting banged up a little, in which that would and should be considered “baggage”… just like the human race.  By the time we are in our 30’s, we typically have accumulated some kind of “baggage”.

If you shed (or in car lingo, “buff off the paint”) the different colors of skin off of us humans, we all have the same mechanism and components, just like the automobiles. If you remove the exterior whether it is metal, thin tin, or fiberglass, all autos have very similar mechanisms and components to get it down the road.  We also learn through life from our mistakes, like the personal relationships we experience after the first time we fall in love.  We also learn in life from the mistakes that we make from those terrible decisions when we purchase our dream car and shortly after that, hate it for many reasons.

For example, we lose respect for it after it breaks down on us, the fact that it seems to bankrupt us for its expenses, and what about the fact that we love our cars a lot more than the love they show us…sounds like the way I felt after my first long term relationship….”frustrated”.  Another comparison….some humans organs fail them throughout the process of life, just like some of our cars components go bad after a few years.  With all of the recent technology being introduced to us in the automotive field, cars that can tell the mood of the driver from special sensors placed in the steering wheel to cars that wink at each other with special headlights that a Japanese Manufacturer is introducing to us, so should cars be able to have relationships and get married also?

I do have to say my boyfriend now is the best decision I have ever made when it comes to buying a car or acquiring a boyfriend.  His exterior and interior are awesome he comes fully loaded with all the luxury accessories, and when you bathe him his exterior coat/skin really shines, I swear he almost has that new car smell about him.  Most importantly his resale value will always remain the highest in my book!  The question is, should I consider him a classic or not…he is over the age of 25!
It is very interesting to me that when a car passes away we take it to the junk”yard” and when a human passes away we take it to a grave”yard”…who knew that these two words would be so similar?  So to make the questionable comparison…Are humans comparably similar to cars?  Both need love, attention and insurance, food or a good diet for humans (we don’t run well on junk food) can be considered gas for cars and a fresh oil change every 3000 miles.  My favorite analogy:  Autos needing a good tune-up once a year could be considered an annual vacation once for us humans!

Barbara Terry

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2013 Lexus ES300h – Review by Barbara Terry

What a surprise when the “Lexus ES 300h” was dropped off in my driveway this week! Years ago if anyone would have told me that the Auto Manufacturers would come out with a Hybrid Luxury Sedan, I would have had a hard time getting my thinking around that concept. But there it was, a shiny metallic Cashmere 2013 Lexus ES 300h that will get you 40 MPG combined city/highway! I could not wait to take it for a spin and see what surprises that it had to offer.


Driving the Lexus ES 300h was like riding on a cushy cloud on these sometime bumpy South Carolina roads. I settled down in the comfort of the new 10-way adjustable seat and went for a drive along the coast. The soft color of the Parchment interior, the music from the Satellite Radio, the smell of the new leather made the drive a joy. The interior was beautiful with the metallic and leather-trimmed shift knob, piano black trim on the instrument panel and the three-spoke steering wheel.

The stunning body style of this model turned the heads at the local grocery store as I pulled up and parked. A nice woman with her young granddaughter was putting her groceries in her trunk and stopped to admire the new Lexus. She commented on how far the four-door Sedans has come since she owned her first family car years ago. I took the time to show her some of the incredible safety features.  The Lexus ES 300h has a collapsible steering column, front and rear side-impact-beam, front and rear side curtain airbags and even airbags in the front to protect your knees!  She was impressed with the safety of the child restraint system because she has four grandchildren that always ride in her car. I think I could have sold her the 300h that day. The 300h earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick Award in October 2012 and in December 2012 it received a five star rating from the National Highway Traffic Administration.

I have driven numerous Sedans, Hybrids, and Hybrid Sedans but the Lexus ES 300h far surpasses them all. The Warranty is fantastic and has a 48-month/50,000mile basic limited warranty with roadside assistance for 48 months/unlimited miles. The Warranty also includes power-train and resistance coverage for 72 months/70,000 miles and corrosion perforation protection for 72 months, regardless of mileage. I would recommend the Lexus ES 300h to anyone who has a family and wants a luxury sedan that is both stylish and has fuel economy.

Barbara Terry

2014 Toyota Corolla – Review by Barbara Terry

From first glance the exterior of a cool/deep green with a warm brown interior is an interesting color combination, very unique to say the least so huge kudos to the designers!  I hopped into this little ride which is much lower than my daily driver but immediately felt the powerful force of the engine and thought back to when I was in High School and would take my brothers Corolla for a spin around the block.Barbara Terry

As I approached stop lights I actually noticed that most of the cars on the road this morning were compact cars, funny I typically do not pay much attention. Driving this little Corolla started me thinking about how much money I would save in gas by achieving high 20’s to high 30’s in miles per gallon if I were to buy one for myself.  My daily driver guzzles gas as fast as a parched construction worker working outside on a steamy hot summer Texas day would guzzle water!  Later that day I found myself driving home in a pouring rain storm and was impressed with the grip and control on the road. I would drive this Corolla in any type of weather, anywhere!

Speaking of back in the day…I remember when Toyota started making a presence here in the United States. A few of my brothers had one and how different I remember that these little cars looked compared to the big trucks and boat type cars that my brothers and parents drove. I also remember that they were the most dependable and would always start when the other vehicles on the ranch would not for some reason or another.

One of the most attractive points is having what Toyota calls “Toyota Care”. With this you will receive a complimentary maintenance plan with the purchase or lease of every new Toyota, for 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. Every new Toyota will be covered for all normal factory scheduled service, as well as 24/7 roadside assistance!

We spend a lot of money on our second largest purchase in life “our vehicles” and we need for them to be dependable, fuel friendly and easy to park especially in large cities with small parking lots!

As we drive through life, we drive ourselves into different chapters of our lives. Interesting though that we reach a certain age and for most of us the vehicles that we were attracted to in our younger years no longer have the appeal that they use to. What appeals to us now is a good bang for the buck, saving money on gas mileage and repairs and simply a dependable car that will get us from point A to point B.

The new Corolla comes in 4 different grades, the L, LE, S and LE Eco. This gives you plenty of different set-ups to choose from.  Toyota is also giving to us with the new Corolla a 6 speed manual transmission which I absolutely love! I miss driving a car with a stick and it seems so hard trying to find a shift stick in a car nowadays! You can comfortably seat 5 people in the new Corolla, the trunk has 13 cubic feet of space giving us plenty of room for golf clubs, potting soil, tons of groceries, suitcases and shopping bags from our favorite clothing sale!

Drive yourself to your local Toyota dealer, test drive the Corolla and you will find that it is a few steps above and beyond the competition.

Barbara Terry



2013 Scion FR-S – Review by Barbara Terry

What a sweet 2 door sports car to be spoiled with for 7 days. Driving around town not only captivated the locals but made me feel like I was on vacation. I remember when Toyota first introduced all of us to their Scion brand and now years later they are continuing to woo and wow the public. This particular version was candy apple red with a black interior and dual colored seats. Not only was it sporty on the outside but oh so sporty on the interior.

Features like 17 inch rims, Pioneer stereo with 8 speakers, all power options, Bluetooth with USB, Tire Pressure Monitoring System are a few of the amazing options. I also like that it is available in both automatic and manual transmissions.  I wish all Manufacturers would give us the option of driving a stick especially with their sports car models…Scion does!barbaraterry

Scion is without a doubt the only Auto Manufacturer that offers consumers above and beyond out of the box thinking with their unique models.

Scion is also giving qualified new and recent college grads a $750.00 rebate on the purchase or lease of any new Scion to help launch them into the next chapter of their lives. Scion has more than 130 accessories you can choose from in order to personalize your ride.

If you are looking for a sporty ride that won’t break your bank account this is definitely one to go test drive and seriously consider purchasing.

Barbara Terry