Category : Entertainment

RP50FJC Fruit Juice and Oil Filter Crusher by Ranger

March 29th, 2017

Click here to view the product page.

You’ve seen oil filter crushers before. Ranger Products makes several, such as our renowned 25-ton monster crusher, the RP50FC. What you haven’t seen is an oil filter crusher that doubles as a fruit juice maker. Finally, no more switching from kitchen appliance to garage tool, and back to kitchen appliance. Who has the time? No one in our kitchen. The high-capacity RP50FJC allows operators to crush up to 10 small pieces of fruit at once!

This combo fruit juice and oil filter crusher is the first and only tool of its type, so the world-class safety certifications and quality standards of virtually all other Ranger products are less than an afterthought—to us, they don’t even apply! This idea has been rejected so many times, it’s even become a punching bag for the industry. The testimonials say it all!

One guy wrote, “Why are you doing this?”

Another said, “Is it safe for fruit to be crushed by the same device that removes hazardous oil from used oil filters?”

Within five minutes of seeing the crusher demoed in his store, one of our distributors said, “Get the hell out of my office.”

The RP50FJC is new, so we’re not surprised that no one really understands it yet. New things are often scary and hard to understand, like making fruit juice with a converted oil filter crusher. Think of what it was like to be one of the first people to see math. “Numbers?” They must have said. “That’s not going to catch on.” Well, look around you! Math is everywhere nowadays!

We have no reason to believe the RP50FJC is going to revolutionize the industry the way math revolutionized numbers, but we’re counting on it! In fact, we’re so sure you’ll love your new combo fruit juice and oil filter crusher, we’re devoting most of our earnings from 2016 into marketing the RP50FJC. If this doesn’t work out, we won’t even be able to afford therapy. YIKES!!!

But that’s confidence. And confidence means juice. It’s good business to be confident, and it’s good juice to be in business. And that spells R-A-N-G-E-R. Whatever you do, don’t overlook the cost RP50FJC combo juice and oil filter crusher. Only $9,999.99!!!

Is it safe?

Just repeat after me: Ranger makes juice!

5 Impressive Auto Tech Ideas and Innovations You Missed in 2016

December 30th, 2016

2016 was a strange year, in many respects. It was a year of celebrity passing, election drama and outright Civil War.

Captain America Civil War poster

“Civil War.”

It’s wasn’t just Tony Stark’s unexpected rebellion against the Avengers that caught our attention, though. The auto industry saw some of the most interesting tech inventions and ideas to date. As a standalone achievement, SEMA 2016 was chock full of product unveilings, which only figures to increase next year. As we look forward to 2017, we’re taking a look at five fresh products and ideas you might have missed.

  1. Ford finds its groove with record number of patents

Long-considered one of the lesser companies for innovation, surprise and registered patents, Ford has spent the last few years reinventing itself, and in 2016 the company showed off its impressive tech contributions yet. According to mlive, “The Ford Motor Co. led all automakers in granted U.S. patents for the first time in the company’s history in 2016.” Considering how long Ford has been around, that’s a pretty major accomplishment. There are some things in their wheelhouse that it’s safe to say no one else is thinking about. Their eChair is a self-loading wheelchair that makes driving easier and more comfortable for disabled persons and wheelchair users. Ford engineers are even refining a water purifier that recycles and purifies condensation from the car, funneling drinkable water through a faucet in the cabin. We can only imagine the implications for developing countries and travelers in need of a clean water supply. Not sure what vehicular condensation water will taste like, but if it’s potable, that’s impressive.

  1. Goodyear’s spherical concept tires

The Eagle-360 concept tire by Goodyear looks like the bottom part of the BB-8 droid from J.J. Abram’s Star Wars reboot. The physics behind spherical wheels make them tough to master. In a way, it’s kind of embarrassing to call this one of the best ideas of 2016 because there are so, so many flaws in both Goodyear’s pitch and concept (i.e., floating wheels powered by magnets), but whatever—it’s still cool. Lots of question here. How will the “magnetic levitation” concept work? How is water repelled off the tire through “centrifugal forces” when any physics tells us centrifugal forces don’t actually exist? Alright, it’s a ridiculous concept as of this moment, but Goodyear claims to be working on it, and companies don’t like to waste money on cool ideas that don’t stand a chance of coming to light. So, maybe there’s hope?

  1. Ford Mustang 2.3L Ecoboost Turbocharger by Turbonetics
Turbonetics Mustang 2.3L turbocharger

Turbonetics Mustang 2.3L turbocharger

Taken out of the shop, the 2017 4-cylinder Mustang is capable of 310 HP. Mustang fans have been turbocharging their rides for decades, but Turbonetics has made the process simpler and more streamlined than ever. The real advantage to this turbocharger, and the reason it makes this list, is because their direct drop-in installation does away with the need for adapters or installation modifications. With a full suite of mods and custom tuning, your 2.3L Mustang will be capable of 520 HP. That’s pretty great in a drop-in device, wouldn’t you say?

  1. The Chevrolet Bolt EV
Blue 2017 Chevy Bolt

2017 Chevy Bolt

Welcome the most affordable and drivable electric vehicle to hit the mass market. Unlike Tesla vehicles, a Chevy won’t cost you an arm and a leg for basic parts and repairs. A lot has been said about the Tesla III coming out for about $35,000, but Tesla repair locations are far less common, and parts are far more expensive, meaning Tesla remains an expensive investment. Meanwhile, the Chevy Bolt is about $30,000 after federal tax rebates and boasts a driving range of 128/110 MPGe. Obviously, this isn’t a turbocharged dream machine, but it gets the job done, saves money, helps the environment and has all the techy frills of a modern road warrior, including 10.2” touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and 4G LTE Wi-Fi. We have a feeling this is going to be a top seller for 2017, especially if the mileage turns out to be as strong as they claim in variable driving conditions.

  1. Hundai Sonata augmented reality app

Hundai is giving us a glimpse of the future of auto care. Their augmented reality app, if you haven’t seen it, is just a tiny step into the next wave of auto tech that will soon become standard. Users simply download the app and point their phones at different parts of the car. The app can tell you simple things like what the radio tuner is used for (tuning the radio, as it turns out), and more useful applications, such as engine oil and wiper fluid levels. The device is a maintenance helper and user manual all-in-one. We imagine that as more companies put resources into expanding the tech in their car, apps like these will follow and become more useful and sophisticated. Imagine and entire engine diagnostic with visual aids.

How to Survive Snow, Cold, Fire, Zombies and Everything Else This Winter

November 29th, 2016

defense-gov_news_photo_081014-f-4127s-200Survival has been around almost as long as human beings have been on the earth. For thousands of years, we were pretty bad at staying alive. We ate twigs and berries. Our fires were too small to stare into and think about stuff. Our tools were basically regular rocks that happened to be pointier than other rocks. Our species was on the verge of total disaster.

But suddenly, as if overnight, we grew tired of dying from things like lions and the common cold, so we invented guns and medicine. We realized we didn’t need to walk everywhere, so we invented wheels and put them under metal boxes, and we called the boxes cars. In olden times, people needed friends just to survive, so we invented Mark Zuckerberg, who invented Facebook, which saved us from the time-consuming effort of making and sustaining real friendships. We liked it.

Since the past, mankind has even settled in Northern Canada, which goes to show how far people will take things once they know how to survive. A few surviving records even show how we survived without power steering, but how this was possible remains a mystery to Millennials.

Despite how good we have become at surviving, many of us still experience an event called winter.* Winter brings many challenges to survival, including snow, cold weather, zombie armies and interestingly enough, more house fires. You need the proper tools at hand if you want to live through these things. Lucky for you, BendPak has put together the ultimate winter survival guide to get you through anything.

*Reference page included for residents of Texas, Southern California, Florida and Hawaii. Also see: snow.

Snow tire chains wrapped around a car tire in the snow.

Snow chains

Get your tires ready for snow
Some states limit the use of winter tire chains. There’s something about steel on concrete and asphalt multiplied by a hundred thousand cars that just doesn’t “mix.” (And yes, we think that was a pretty “concrete” joke.) Tire chains just might come in handy, especially if you’re being chased by an axe-wielding maniac through a blizzard and need a quick getaway through a snow-blocked mountain pass… but that might just be The Shining. Anyway, if you live in snowy, or remote areas, make sure your tire chain situation is appropriately covered.

Jumper cables locked and loaded
Your backseat or trunk should always have a pair of jumper cables. If you lent yours to a buddy this spring, now is a good time to ask for them back. It’s one of those items everyone seems to forget about until after-the-fact. Having them increases the odds you won’t have to wait very long on the side of the road for a jump. Plus, if one single person happens to rescue another single person simply by being prepared, and the rescuer says something original like, “Hey, guess you owe me a coffee,” well, that’s a great story to tell your grandkids. They’ll love hearing you tell it too many times.

A set of red and black jumper cables.

Jumper cables

Battery health
Check that battery rust and grime. Clear it off. Roadside emergencies won’t be so bad if you have a working battery (i.e., heat). Battery cleanings are often complimentary at service stations when you order a tune-up or get other work done. If you own a multimeter, in addition to cleaning, you can check for yourself that your battery voltage is between 12.4 and 12.7 volts.

Zombies
Male zombie with greenery behind him.Don’t get bit. Aim for the head. Close range weaponry preferred for maximum effect. Trust no one.

Candles and other fire hazards
According to Allstate Insurance™, the holly, jolly holiday season is a not-so-jolly house-on-fire for an average of 67,500 homeowners. That’s a 15% seasonal increase compared to the rest of the year. Why? Because for some reason, people forget about surviving this time of year and do foolish things. For one, they light millions of scented candles and put up in their homes these big, flammable trees, and all of this has the potential to spell disaster. It seems like common sense to keep candles away from curtains, drapes, pine needles and carpet, but accidents always find a way to happen. If you’re using candles in your home, treat each little flame as if it were an open, roaring fire: clear the area of flammables and make sure it’s clear of walkways, just in case someone trips and falls near it. Additionally, people consume more alcohol in the winter (probably sad they don’t live in Southern California), which historically isn’t good for survival, either.

Bad choices and distractions
Don’t drink and drive, and try to stay off the road late at night, if at all possible, especially during the holidays. For many households, winter means more distractions, less attentive behaviors, etc. In general, we all just need to be a little more careful. Also, never light an open candle in your car. December 25th is not the Fourth of July; midnight on New Year’s Eve is not a fireworks parade.

People get robbed more frequently
Robberies/break-ins spike 7% during the holidays. After all, the kids aren’t the only ones trying to guess what’s wrapped under the tree, especially when the tree—and everything beneath it—is in plain view of a large, street-facing window. Keep your presents out of sight or else close the blinds. Be especially careful to lock every door this time of year, especially at night. If you can’t pull your car indoors, two things need to happen. One, don’t leave anything valuable in your car. Two, if there is something in there that you can’t or won’t remove, keep it out of sight. Purses and wallets go without saying, but bags of any kind should be hidden or removed. Sunglasses, your GPS device, etc. should be kept out of sight.

Snow brush and ice scraper
The dual-purpose winter car tool is virtually essential for winter living, not just emergencies. They’re cheap, effective and will grant you three wishes to make you rich and famous beyond your wildest dreams.

Snow scraper getting snow off windshield.

Snow scraper

Survival kit items
The best way to survive an emergency is to have something on hand that literally has the word “survival” in the name. Depending on where you live, some of these items may be mandatory winter accessories, not necessarily reserved for emergencies. In any case, a winter roadside survival kit will get you through most emergency situations with all nine of your remaining toes intact. Survival kits are actually pretty easy to make and should include the following:

woobie

Military-issued “woobie”

Blankets
Take those old winter coats, hats and gloves that are a little beat up, covered in a permanent layer of dried winter snot or don’t fit perfectly anymore and store them in the trunk, enough for several passengers. Add blankets and/or sleeping bags, depending on how cold it tends to get around you.

As it turns out, those thin, shiny “space blankets” aren’t what they’re sometimes cracked up to be. They are essentially heat reflectors, and the wind and rain blow right through them. If you’re stuck in your car in an overnight emergency situation, this blanket type might work, as long as it keeps dry and close to your skin. If you start to sweat, however, the blanket will reflect your cooled body temperature back at you, making it less effective, possibly useless. Arguably, the best blanket item you can spring for is the so-called U.S. military “woobie,” or dual-purpose poncho liner and emergency blanket. Woobies melt the hearts and minds of the most tested and experienced soldiers. Why? Because anything this perfect is worth melting for. They’re waterproof, windproof, comfortable and fully insulated

Flashlight and extra batteries
Some form of battery-powered light is ideal. This could be an electric lantern, flashlight, etc. Extra batteries should be considered mandatory.

Flares
This is on the fancy-extreme side of the survival kit, but wouldn’t it be great to have if you rolled your SUV down a hill, broke your leg and needed some way to signal for help? Yes, that’s unlikely to happen. In general, flares aren’t the most necessary emergency item, but if you’re in a remote area without a lot of human contact or traffic, you might think twice before going without one.

Fire
Hopefully, it never comes to the fire-building stage of your survival adventure, as this means things have gotten pretty dicey. Still, a little flame-based warmth can be the difference between life and death. If you’re really fancy, you can pull some of the dryer lint from your home dryer, store it in a plastic baggie, and with a few matches or a lighter, you now you have the best fire-starting kit in town. If you’re stranded somewhere remote, you can actually use small fires to heat rocks (like in a sauna).

Food and water
Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty obvious. Don’t store fruit and vegetables in your car, unless they’re of the dried or dehydrated variety. High-energy foods like trail mix and protein bars are your best bets. As lovers say, “Honey, bring the chocolate.” You can never have enough water bottles, either. Ever.

First aid
You can buy one ready-made or put it together yourself. The American Red Cross has its own guidelines for a good first aid kit, and for $250.00, you can purchase the whole shebang: a full emergency kit with first aid, food, water, first aid, blankets, light, etc.

Full emergency kit with food, water, lights, etc.

Full emergency kit

TL;DR: Prepare for the cold this winter by adhering to a few common-sense survival tips. Make sure you have tire chains, if necessary, and get your car trunk stocked with blankets, flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, food, water, etc. Furthermore, lock your doors to protect your home from robberies, and be wary of open flames in the household this holiday season.

The Worst Car Lifts Ever Built

October 7th, 2016

We searched the Internet to find the worst car lifts ever built, and they come from all over this great nation of ours. Seriously, folks. Buy a real car lift before you attempt to replicate any of these hilarious-yet-stupid makeshift heaps of beautiful junk.

1. 101 Ways to Use a Lead Pipe You Found Sticking out of the Ground
Keep an eye on the back-right chassis corner when he lifts it up. It totally doesn’t scare us one bit.

2. Do Away with Pesky One-Touch Button Controls
Ancient man probably lifted his chariots this way. Ancient man also had a life expectancy of 35 years.

block-lift

3. “I’m Not Saying It FELL… I Feel Like You Aren’t Listening.”
We shared this photo with our engineers, sales team and customer service reps, and no one is in total agreement on this one. Is it Photoshopped? Is the bed supposed to be… bolted on? Someone help us out here.

broken-lift

4. But… they said I should use frame cradle pads on my truck!

We’re all about the frame cradle pads. But, did we say smash them against the vehicle chassis, nowhere near the lifting point, without using the necessary truck adapter set? How long do you think it took for them to go from “well, it’s still crushing the frame, better lift it higher,” to whatever the opposite of that thought is?

lift-points

5. “Honey, Your Car is on the Fritz Again. Grab my Log. And my Really Big Stick. And My Tractor. No, the other Tractor.” 

We’ve probably said all we need to say.

log-lift

6. Just in Time for Halloween

This looks like something you’d see in a zombie movie when they try to rebuild society using PVC pipe and duct tape. Someone get this guy a scissor lift, please.

pipe-lift

7. Caught Playing Transformers on the Side of the Road

Never mind that the truck is perfectly capable of towing the car. Ignore the incredibly unsafe center of gravity this rig creates. Forget about the immense effort, timing and planning it must have taken to get it up there in the first place. Let us focus on the achievement. Let us argue over whether they called the police or got pulled over. And yes, let us remember the time two grown men tried to make a real-life Transformer out of their cars. In the rain. We give thanks to the person who pulled over to capture this moment.

roadside

8. 50% Ramps, 5% Blood Alcohol, 100% Worst Car Lift Ever Built

We’re not saying it’s Redneck. Someone else said that.

This link will take you to a place where you can rest your eyes. If you have more crazy car lifts that you think represent the worst ever built, share them with us, and we’ll all have a laugh.

5 Ways to Wiggle out of Life and Finally Work in the Garage this Weekend

September 30th, 2016

Men, there’s something about that period of time between Labor Day and Thanksgiving that gets kind of… repetitive. The holiday season is still a ways off, the weather is suffering from an identity crisis and the work week is really starting to drone. Your motorcycle has been covered on a parking lift in the garage all summer. Your Corvette’s suspension needs a little tuning. The Honda needs an oil change. Your Camry’s spoiler has graffiti all over it and needs a paint job because Camrys with spoilers are super sweet, you keep telling yourself. Basically, you need a reason to get out of all that life stuff they’re making you do and chill in the garage. If they can’t handle that, doesn’t matter, ‘cos they’ll have no idea where you are or what you’re doing. When you can’t find another way out, here’s how to get it done without getting caught.

  1. Call in sick

Level of difficulty: Easy
Risk of getting caught: Low – Medium

screen-shot-2014-11-09-at-6-00-40-pm-1024x417

The old Ferris Bueller routine. Of course, this only works as a “weekend getaway” if you actually work on the weekend, but you can always choose to extend your weekend into Friday or Monday. It’s easy to pull this one off; most of us have done it at one point or another. A simple email or phone call is all it takes. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t even need to “sound sick,” and you should never provide excessive detail. Don’t make up a long story you have to stick to, remember and defend later.

Hi [Manager/Supervisor],

I woke up with a sore throat and have a doctor appointment this afternoon. I won’t be able to make it in today but expect to be back Monday. Thanks.

The less you say, the better. If you don’t have any sick days to use, this probably isn’t the best option, but those sick days are yours, so you might as well use ‘em! (Just hope you don’t need those days in case you actually get sick.)

The beauty of the call-in, especially if it’s a weekday, is that most distractions are avoided: friends and family all assume you’re at work, and the kids are at school, so no one is there to bother you. Still, we’re calling this a medium-risk operation because your story may depend on a few factors. If you live alone or manage to get everyone out of the house, it should be no sweat. If you’re married, hopefully the wife understands and lets you have the day without offering a list of life chores she feels you might as well accomplish if you’re going to be home, anyway.

If you need to hide this little thing from everyone, spouse included, you run a few extra risks. For one, your wife loves you (hopefully) and might come home at lunch to check up on you. She might even take off early. It’s not like you’re cheating (hopefully), but it won’t look good if she hears Toby Keith blasting halfway down the block and finds her supposedly sick hubby happily covered in grease and oil. Low places, indeed.

For an easy operation, however, the sick day is a classic for a reason. It’s easy to pull off and probably won’t carry many risks. Whatever you do, just don’t over-explain yourself at the start. Think how you are when you’re truly sick: you don’t say much, life sucks and you hate everything. Channel the rage, men. Channel the rage.

  1. Arrange a sleepover or playhouse-type for the kids

Level of difficulty: Easy
Risk of getting caught: Low

It might be that your partner is totally cool with whatever you do in your free time. That’s why you married her, right? But those kids! They’re needy, loud, unpredictable and gosh, we just love ‘em! We’d do anything for them, of course. So why not get them out of the house while also being the cool dad? That’s two dad wins right there. This one’s easy to set up, but it may take some planning. Getting a parent you trust to host a sleepover isn’t really a big deal, and you’ll have an extended period of peace to get things done in the garage. Life is on hold when the kids are away. Holding your brand new, zinc-plated steel coil over spanner wrench, that is.

As an alternative to the sleepover, look to the playhouse for escape! If there’s another parent who can supervise the rug rats as they run around Chuck-E-Cheese, for instance, they’ll get to sip watered-down light beer and nibble on the yellow-stained cardboard they pass off for cheese pizza until those repetitive, goofball songs blasting out of an old set of dying speakers jammed inside four or five horrifying human-sized animatronic dolls actually start to sound like something that resembles real music. If you need to close this deal badly, offer to pay for the whole thing and offer to supervise the next favor. Of course, it might be that your kids are old enough to handle themselves without adult supervision. A simple drive out and back, and you’re golden!

Yeah, nothing creepy about that.

Yeah, nothing creepy about that.

This one’s low-risk because you’re not really sneaking out of anything. However, we could increase that risk to medium if it’s actually your turn to chaperone. If this is the case, we recommend hitting the sick button. Use whatever’s realistic for you: if you’re prone to migraines, fake migraines. Sore throats, green tummies, locked bathrooms, etc. are all good options to sell the falsehood. Just know how much time you have to work with and don’t get caught under the car, or you’re in the doghouse for a long, long time.

  1. All-day spa treatment & massage for the wife

Level of difficulty: Low
Risk of getting caught: None

The only downsides to getting the wife out of the house this way are (1) it costs a bit of money, and (2) you have to align your garage time precisely with when she goes. At the same time, you can always use your gift to her as leverage for getting time alone in the garage. You can’t get “caught” when you’re not lying, so there’s no risk involved here. We don’t recommend framing to your beloved that you need her out of the house so you can get some time to yourself, obviously. Just enjoy the husband points and play it off like it’s all a loving token of your appreciation. There are certainly worse things than this, gentlemen.

  1. Just fall off the grid

Level of difficulty: Medium
Risk of getting caught: Medium

This may be our personal favorite. Falling off the grid is the easiest thing to do in the age of the smart phone. At first glance, it seems difficult. For one, people assume you’re available on your phone 24/7, 365. If you don’t answer, they might get suspicious, offended, worried, etc. Two, it’s just kind of hard to keep away from the tech that surrounds us because it freaking surrounds us. But here’s how to fall off without being caught.

Option 1: Turn off message receipts on your phone. If people can see what time you open their texts, don’t open their texts! Alternatively, just turn off that feature in your settings menu, or it will be obvious that you’re ignoring them. Like how you know last week’s Tinder date who blew you off last night without a word isn’t “just seeing this text now” because you can see she certainly opened it two days ago and posted random stuff all last night on Facebook from the bars when she said just two days ago how she was all excited to hang out with you but you know what forget it you don’t need her anyway she’s not even that hot so it’s totally whatever just tell the truth you know? We’re not getting off topic, are we? Naaaaw.

jokerOption 2:  Turn your phone off. Simple if you have the discipline, or you can invest in this Kickstarter campaign aimed at getting people off their phones by literally locking them (the phones, not the people) in a timed lock-box for a set period of time. The horror, though, of being without your phone for several hours at a time.

Option 3: Tell people you dropped your phone in the toilet and had to dry it out all day in a bag of rice. “Works great now, Dad!”

Option 4: Likewise, maybe you “left it in an Uber,” and the driver “took a few hours longer than you thought” to get it back to you. If you’re gonna fib, keep it short, simple and ultra-believable.

  1. Plan to attend a group outing and bail out last-minute

Level of difficulty: Hard
Risk of getting caught: Medium – High

This is where you get to play Ocean’s 11 with everybody you know. Maybe that’s intimidating. Maybe it’s the most exciting thing since sliced bread. Either way, this method is not the recommended path to take if any others are available. If we’re being totally honest, though, sometimes enough is enough. Last week you visited the in-laws; the week before was your cousin’s wedding; the week before that you had a family vacation to the Dells; the week before that you tried to get some work done, but your youngest came down with the flu and required constant attention. Etc. Etc. Etc. You know how it goes. The world is always playing hardball with your time, so sometimes you need to play a little hardball back to settle the score.

The risks here are substantial. If you can’t get out of it, you’re gonna look like the big jerk who always tries to bail last-minute on your commitments, which, let’s face it, you sort of are doing, but let’s not think about that right now. Let’s just work on getting your plan sealed like the valve chamber in your car lift’s hydraulic cylinder: no leaks.

First, make sure the event is something your partner/kids/friends won’t cancel as a result of you bailing on them. Day trips are the best events to bail on because you can always make it up later that evening. Letting less than 24 hours pass between the thing you were supposed to do and the make-up event is the smart approach. You’ll come off as still being interested and engaged, and ultimately, there’s less risk of you damaging your personal relationships. There is one very important detail to consider, however: whether you say you’re going to be out of the house or at home at the time you bail. There’s pros and cons to each choice, so you’ll have to decide which fits your situation.

Staying in-house

“Sorry man, my grandma’s coming over, and she’s like, ancient, so I can’t get out of it.” If someone swings by your house, you’re going to have some ‘splainin’ to do, especially if your garage door is open and your feet are sticking out from under your portable car lift. Good luck redeeming yourself from that one. On the other hand, if you’re home, it might be less of a problem to be spotted because you’re right where you said you’d be. Up to you to work out the kinks.

Going elsewhere

This is tricky because you’re not going to be where you said you’d be. If you’re spotted at home, game over. On the other hand, people are less likely to be in the area if they don’t think you’re around. No one’s going to make that last-ditch effort to show up at your doorstep and try to convince you to come out.

pinocchio_lyingThe above scenarios work with friends, but what about escaping family? They’re in your house, after all, and are pretty hip to everything you have tried, are trying or might try to do. Lying to family is risky and less advised for many reasons, but among them is the fact that you don’t want to set a bad example for your kids. You also don’t want a suspicious wife. Like we said, if you’re making the decision to play hardball, you need to go all out. No halvsies.

  1. Don’t use your friends as an excuse. Friends stick up for you no matter what, and they’ll gladly place a well-timed call to get you out of a jam. You know that thing people do when they want out of a bad date, so they have their friend call with an emergency that requires their immediate attention? Yeah, basically just never do that. It’ll create and/or reinforce the idea that your friends take precedence over your family.
  1. Use work as an excuse. Nothing is sure but death and taxes, right? Your work is your livelihood and takes precedence over virtually every social call outside weddings, funerals, birthdays and anniversaries. You can’t pull on this string all the time, or the thick, wooly sweater that is your lie will unravel and leave you naked and exposed. So what should you say? It really depends on the situation.

For the office employee: “Ugh, my boss needs me to come into the office for a major project. If I don’t show, I’ll never get that promotion.”

For the teacher: “The entire curriculum is changing and I have to make new lesson plans to accommodate. This is ridiculous. They treat us so bad there.”

For the salesman: “I forgot about a mandatory training on a new product. I can’t miss it. I’m so sorry.”

You get the idea. Again, you probably only get one work-related excuse per year if you really want to stay under the radar, so fib wisely.

Word to the wise
If you’ve ever watched Jerry Springer, he ends each episode with a “Final Thought,” a reflection on life, love and/or relationships. The moment stands in stark contrast to the rest of the show because it’s quiet, kind and everyone keeps their clothes on. Here’s our “Final Thought” moment. Lying your way through life is the way to unhappiness and sets you out on a pattern of selfish behaviors that compromise your character, as well as your relationships. Sometimes we need to get away with little things here and there for our own sanity, but don’t overly abuse the light-hearted advice we’re offering to the point it has a damaging impact on your life. That being said, definitely find some time to work on your car this weekend. You’ve earned it.

8 Awesome Things for your Car and Garage that need to be on your Holiday Wish List

September 21st, 2016

You don’t have to be a DIY’er to enjoy the amazing car tech of 2016. In fact, of the eight wish list items featured here, only a couple of them are really geared at the DIY community. Sometimes you need a break from “doing it yourself,” and you just want the tech to do all the work for you. More importantly, it’s never too early to think about the holiday season, so this list is just in time to get you thinking… and saving. BendPak auto service equipment makes a great gift, but we’ll keep ourselves out of the equation.

We kept a few things in mind when making this list:

Keep it classy, not trashy
We tried not to include the *cheapest* items out there. Like, come on. TREAT YOURSELF. (Note: if the wish list item we like is too expensive, there are always other models of the same concept you can look into.)

Never a phone charger
For whatever reason, cutesy phone chargers seem to be the latest craze in car tech. At the end of the day, charging your batteries isn’t really much more exciting than doing your laundry (guess it depends on the laundry, but we digress).

Stupid

Stupid

It genuinely makes life better
If you put this wish list item in your vehicle or use it while driving/working, it should measurably improve your life. It should be cool (i.e., not just a phone charger).

  1. The Automatic Pro 3G Car Adapter
$129.95
There are quite a few engine diagnostic tools out there, some of which are relatively inexpensive, some of which have neat features, such as a driving coach, fuel efficiency tracking, car locator, dashboard indicator diagnostics, and more. As an alternative, Hum is an interesting OBD reader that features a lower sticker price but requires a monthly subscription fee. The Automatic Pro really caught our eye due to just how much stuff it has available to you.
Automatic Pro screenshots

Automatic Pro screenshots

We like just about everything about this car adapter. Their website is clean, easy-to-navigate and helpful in directing you to the app’s purpose and features. There are dozens of integrated apps to choose from: parking locator, car/driver tracker (for the teen driver in your life), gas mileage recorder and more. Plus, the app design is among the most user-friendly made up to this point, and in 2016 (going into 2017), convenience is the name of the game. Even if you never thought you’d need something like this, the clean design makes it so, so appealing. In the event that your check engine light turns on unexpectedly, the Automatic Pro provides an easy-to-read diagnostic on your phone screen.

In the age of augmented reality (not talking about Pokemon Go), we can literally point our phones at our cars, and our phone can tell us how to conduct a repair, or they can explain the function of a certain feature. This is the direction car tech needs to take, and we love it. For a neat example of augmented reality,

For a neat example of augmented reality that’s unrelated to the Automatic Pro (but in the same ballpark), see the video below:

The Automatic Pro isn’t quite at this level of user-to-world interaction, but it’s getting us close. It’s an awesome tool that will keep you connected to your vehicle in a way that’s non-intrusive and feels fun.

  1. Wide Angle HD Car Dash Cam by TaoTronics

$55.99

Is a full-HD dash cam a bit excessive? Obviously not. When you’re in an accident or become a victim of insurance fraud, you want full proof and evidence of what went down. While there are certainly more expensive options out there, we tried to think big-picture with this one. First off, the 30 fps, 150-degree camera angle is crystal-clear and offers a full view of the road. It looks great at night, as you can see in the video above, and it contains a microphone for full sound recording. Its accident detection feature will lock in data from being overwritten, so there’s no risk of losing that crucial moment due to mindless technology. More expensive options don’t really offer much more by way of features, although some, like the Garmin Dash Cam 20, let you take still images (but the Garmin costs $244.95).

Perhaps the biggest reason to go with a less expensive dash cam model is the fact that a single dash cam only protects you from one angle: what happens if you get bumped in the rear? You can buy two of these babies for a little over $100. Place one in the front and one in the back, and you’re covered for just about everything the road can throw at you.

  1. Torras Aluminum Magnet Center Console
Torras sticks right to your dashboard

Torras sticks right to your dashboard

$20.00
Okay, so this one is a little more on the budget side, granted, but there’s just something so insanely practical about a magnetic center console that we felt it belongs on this list. There are a number of devices out there designed to keep your phone from sliding all over the car (e.g., sticky pads, seat gap fillers), and most of them are a bit on the tacky side. You know what no one ever said? “That sleek, almost invisible magnet that lets you position your phone upright is just too ugly.” The Torras magnet console features a slim base with an attached magnetic plate; a magnet that’s essentially flat sticks to the back of your phone, and it works through a case, as well. What Torras offers is simple and effective. There are a few color options: gold, red and gray, so you can kind of blend your device in with the look of your car. Plus, for 20 bucks, it’s the perfect grab-bag gift at work. Looks like somebody’s doing Secret Santa this holiday season, right? Just look at you, participating socially in things…

  1. TrapTap – Wireless Legal Speed Trap Detector
TrapTap can be virtually invisible in your car

TrapTap can be virtually invisible in your car

$83.00
While we do include an amazing trap/radar/laser detector further down on this list, the TrapTap is an affordable device that does something a little different. If you’re not quite ready to drop a few hundred on a top-end radar detector, the TrapTap offers some unique middle ground. It doesn’t actually detect radar and laser devices, but rather contains a community-driven database of highly ticketed zones across the world. School zones, red light cameras, speed traps, etc. can all be added to the database to help out both you and your fellow drivers. Because it doesn’t actually look for radar or lasers, you’re on your own if you get unlucky on the road, away from the designated trap zones. Still, for the price, you’re getting heads-up access to those high-percentage pull-over zones, and that’s worth the price of admission. If you already have a radar detector that doesn’t recognize the trap zones, this is a great purchase that will get you into the 21st century of car tech without costing you an arm and a leg. Not to mention, it’s barely bigger than a quarter and sticks to just about any surface you can think of. Thanks, TrapTap!

  1. Hudly – Full Color Heads-Up Display for All Cars & Phone Apps

$249.00

Unfortunately, it’s hard to exactly know how to feel about Eric Lee’s labor of love. He and his company Hudly recently launched a Kickstarter for this awesome-looking HUD phone display but only raised about half of their goal before the pledge period expired. We’re not sure where this leaves Hudly or the company, but we’ll update here as information becomes available.

Hudly looks like a better version of what’s out there: the glass projection screen is completely transparent, and it can be placed just out of your driving line-of-sight. It sits similar to most GPS or phone setups, except the display is prominently featured on your windshield. Hudly plugs into your OBD2 port and uses your car battery for power, so it never needs charging. The full-color display just amazing, futuristic and sure to impress you and everyone who sees it. Voice control lets you text back or make calls hands-free, and you can see the screen display without turning your head. This thing is pretty underground at this point, so you’ll earn bonus points for getting into cool tech at the ground level.

  1. Escort Passport 9500ix Radar Detector

$297.98
Arguably one of the better radar/laser detectors out there, this Escort device offers the full suite of ticket prevention. While TrapTap (mentioned above) is certainly useful and budget-friendly for identifying speed traps and red light cameras, the 9500ix does all that plus full radar detection, false alarm prevention, comprehensive laser detection and an AutoLearn “artificial intelligence” feature that supposedly makes its detecting abilities better and more accurate the more you use it.

escort

The Escort 9500ix. Nice, right?

Escort is a top name in radar detection at the moment, so you’re paying for the premium quality and name-brand recognition, as well. The voice alerts are a little clearer than the other brands, the display is simple and to-the-point… we could go on here, it’s just one of those “this is it” devices. Heck, it even looks sexier than the other designs out there. If you have the cash to spend, this is the radar detector to shoot for.

  1. QuickJack

QuickJack is one of the sleekest, most awesome aftermarket car items around. It’s safer and easier to set up than jack stands, more affordable than a full-size car lift is being celebrated worldwide for doing exactly what it says it does: operators touch a button and bam, QuickJack is up 20” in 30 seconds; the safety locks automatically engage; the integrated hydraulic flow divider makes darn sure it never collapses on you.

why-invent-car-jack

People really are excited about the QuickJack portable car lift system. We recommend you check it out, and if you own a shop or fancy yourself a DIY guy or gal, you’re going to love what QuickJack offers. Its made from the same people who engineer BendPak car lifts, so quality and issue is never in question. And just like that, our self-promoting plug is over.

  1. RaceDeck

Okay DIY’ers, we’re saving the last one especially for you! RaceDeck is not one of those gifts you go and buy for just anyone. This flooring is for the serious garage professional or DIY enthusiast. If that’s you and you’ve never heard of RaceDeck, you’re about to have your mind blown. Click here to commence mind-blowing.

clean-garage

If you work on vehicles from home and your garage is what you would call your own personal getaway, RaceDeck is your high-end, one-stop shop for gorgeous flooring designs that personalize your garage space. The graphite flooring is 100% chemical-resistant, waterproof and comes in several state-of-the-art designs. Let’s face it, you’re not getting RaceDeck flooring because it’s waterproof; you’re getting it because you want to turn your garage space into a destination, a place to hang out with friends, relax, sneak that morning cigarette away from the wife, work on your cars, bikes, trucks or all of the above. The RaceDeck website does a fantastic job of showcasing the product, and whoever owns the garages in which RaceDeck does their photo shoots must be very happy. In terms of price, it all depends on the size of your garage, but it’s possible to outfit most garages for a few hundred dollars.

17 Smarter Ways to Get Value when Buying a Car Lift

September 9th, 2016

Smart buyers look for value when they shop, and value comes in different ways: price, quality, durability, etc. But how should you balance those things out? Will savings now cost you more in repairs down the road? What does that word “quality” really mean, anyway, and how should you look for it? This list will help you be a smarter car lift buyer.

  1. Good or bad, look for lots of reviews

There are many would-be “biggest and best” companies out there, but when you look them up, all you get is an old website that’s never updated, bad or broken links and more questions than when you started. That shouldn’t be the case. The sheer quantity of information on a car lift company should be staggering!

"Hi Big Bob, this is my third time calling..."

“Hi Big Bob, this is my third time leaving a message…”

Pretend you find a car lift made by “Big Bob’s Car Lifts Inc.” (This company doesn’t really exist, we promise.) It’s better to find 50 reviews from people who think this company stinks to high heaven than just one review that seems to be written by the company owner and does nothing but brag and brag and brag. Even if you’re finding a mix of positive and negative reviews, at least you have a starting point for your research to sort out the smart, experienced mechanics from the angry whiners and attention-seeking liars who don’t know what they’re talking about. Hundreds of millions of people in the country are on the Internet, and people on the Internet ALWAYS talk. If hardly anyone’s talking about a particular car lift company, stay away! Think: “Houston, we have a problem.”

  1. Know who actually manufactures the car lift

The best car lift manufacturers are proud to display their name boldly along the columns of their products. Yet, caught up in this mix of quality professionals there are lots of off-brand companies peddling cheap, generic, non-ALI Certified garbage. These lifts are made in industrial sweatshops overseas with little to no quality control. They’re “discount” for a reason. You may even see them bill their companies as “exclusive suppliers.”

Car lift branding should be loud and proud!

Car lift branding should be loud and proud!

If you’re a businessperson, go ahead and roll your eyes. There’s very little reason for most lift companies not to go through distributors (unless they’re allergic to work and money, or something). Furthermore, if the major distributors aren’t willing to even carry and market a certain car lift, that’s a huge red flag (i.e., it’s time to look elsewhere).

  1. Measure and re-measure your garage

We hope you’re as excited—more excited, in fact—about installing a car lift in your own garage as we are to supply you with one. But it happens every once in a while where an enthusiastic buyer gets ahead of themselves and winds up with a car lift that doesn’t fit their space. This means returning the big lug, which generally voids the free shipping policy on the original delivery, as well as the replacement. Car lift companies do not hold themselves responsible if you don’t report the correct dimensions of your garage. (In other words, it’s your own darn fault if you mess that up.)

Some basic garage measurements to consider

Some basic garage measurements to consider

If a friend or nearby business has the car lift you want, visit them and tour of their garage. Compare what works for them with your needs. If you have your dimensions figured out, make sure you know where your electricity is (including amps and voltage), if you need a compressor to operate the locks and if your concrete can handle the bolts should you be required to secure your car lift to the floor. Basically, it comes down to really getting acquainted with your garage. One great way to keep track of everything is with a quick-reference notebook containing some of the more important dimensions of your garage, so that you stay prepared with your installation information at all times.

  1. Research the company’s reputation

This may be the easiest step on the list. Speaking from experience, BendPak doesn’t kid around when it comes to our reputation. We are in deep with the auto repair and DIY service community. We encourage you to Google us, as well as the names of our competitors, and look for yourself! You can even call up professional garages and ask them if they’re happy with their car lifts. Have them explain why or why not.

Good news travels fast. Bad news travels faster.

Good news travels fast. Bad news travels faster.

  1. Conduct a price comparison

When it comes to “20 smart ways to get value on your car lift,” please notice that price only gets one space. It’s not the first thing you should consider, nor is it the last. Car lifts make for special purchases. For instance, when we shop at Wal-Mart for enough peaches to feed our family (no idea why it’s peaches, just go with it), we know we get the same nutrients from them as we do from the expensive, organic Whole Foods peaches, but we get them at Wal-Mart for a lower price. In the case of the peaches, the quality difference doesn’t really affect us much in terms of health (some may argue). Likewise, deodorant, laundry detergent, shampoo, etc. come in dozens of brands, prices and bottle sizes. If you can find Tide cheaper one day and the next week the store’s generic is on sale for half the price, the decision is almost made for you. Few catastrophes can reasonably occur because you went with the “cheap” option.

What happens when you go with the cheap guys

What happens when you go with the cheap guys

With few exceptions, a car lift is not a bottle of laundry detergent (warning: sarcasm detected). The vehicle(s) you raise is the second-most expensive investment to your home. Oftentimes, tens of thousands of dollars are at stake with each lift and each repair. Very few people can afford a disaster that occurred as a result of “discount shopping.”

Plus, that cheap, discount “Tuxedo” lift you see advertised everywhere is constructed who-knows-where by who-knows-who using who-can-say quality equipment. Trust your instincts: if Brand A sells a 9,000-lb. capacity two-post car lift for $2,000 and Brand B sells a lift-capacity-equivalent lift for $1,200, you need to explore the difference. It almost always has to do with engineering standards, materials used for construction, safety features, availability of customer service and the product warranty. Don’t let saving a few hundred dollars, a relatively small cost at the end of the year, be the reason you sacrifice your own personal safety, as well as the safety of your property. There are smarter ways to get value: go with the best quality car lift you can find.

  1. Examine the warranty
521-warranty-logo-click

BendPak car lifts have a 5-year warranty on parts/lift structure

A lot of things can go wrong with a piece of machinery. The most common errors on well-made car lifts are human errors, but we recognize that sometimes unexpected failures can occur. Either way, you should be covered by a good warranty. A warranty is an expression of honesty: some companies let you extend their standard warranty even further, and that’s always a good sign. Look at how many years the parts and structure are covered. Generally speaking, labor and hydraulic systems will be covered for a year on a good warranty, while the car lift and its components should be totally covered for up to five years.

  1. Find the ALI Certificate

We’ve done some sneaky competitor research where we’ve called up manufacturers of non-certified car lifts and asked them, posing as innocent customers, what makes their lifts safe? We heard answers like, “Because we make them ourselves to the highest standards!” When we asked what standards, they said things like, “The ones everybody uses!” Such a shame. The ALI standard exists for one reason: to make car lifts as safe as possible for people who aren’t able to eyeball good or bad mechanical workmanship from a mile away. Every single one of the large and respected auto lift brands in the world is a member of the Automotive Lift Institute and submit to ALI testing and re-testing for just about every product they develop, so clearly it’s a priority to them. Obviously, BendPak falls into this category.

The ALI Certificate is posted right on the lift!

The ALI Certificate is posted right on the lift!

It’s no easy feat to join the Automotive Lift Institute, let alone build a car lift that passes certification. There are additional expenses involved to get tested, and ALI sets extremely strict UL, ETL and ANSI manufacturing safety standards that must be met in order to qualify for certification. While you’re scouting out different cars lift, it’s very likely that you’ll find a ton of non-certified lifts out on the market. It’s just as likely that the manufacturers of these lifts will try to persuade you (con you) into believing their standards, even if they can’t name them, are up to code.

  1. “Practice call” their customer service

There’s a myth that floats around startups in the business world that smaller companies are able to provide more attention to their customers. Sometimes the owner of a small company will answer the phone when you call the so-called service line. While this may sound intriguing, it’s a bad sign for business down the road. A large company that has been dealing in car lifts for 20, 30, 40, 50+ years has dedicated teams that are ready to take your calls and provide service at all times. They rotate their shifts so there’s no “lunch gap.” They’re smart because they’re held accountable for their service through training and listening to their recorded calls. You’ll find out the difference quickly. In fact, your first contact with a company’s customer service center will set the tone for all the rest of your dealings with them. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to make a “practice call” and ask them about their warranties, return policies and what steps they’ll take for repairs and parts replacements.

  1. Understand the features offered and what you want
The little things go a long, long way

The little things go a long, long way

Once you know whether you want a four-post, two-post, mobile column, scissor or alignment lift, there are still a ton of customizable options. Car lifts come in extra tall, extra wide, short, narrow, asymmetrical and clearfloor varieties that best suit your needs. You may need truck/SUV adapters, telescoping arms, rolling bridge jacks, frame cradle pads, casters and/or frame extensions. To tie this back to #8, the customer service representative should be able to guide you through this process if you are unsure.

  1. Ask about their engineering report

This is true, even when it comes to professional mechanics: most lift buyers aren’t car lift experts any more than most car shoppers are car experts. The easiest thing you can do, if you’re not sure of the quality of the lift you want, is to look for the ALI Certification. Some companies over-engineer their lifts beyond what is required by ALI, which results in longer-lasting products with less maintenance required over the course of ownership. Reputable companies complete FEA (finite element analysis) engineering reports made with sophisticated computer programs that simulate stress loads.

A glimpse at BendPak's engineering "secrets"

A glimpse at BendPak’s engineering “secrets”

These reports are verified with long-math calculations, field testing (called quality assurance, or QA), re-designs, etc. Every aspect of engineering and testing is designed to make car lifts safer, faster, more efficient and longer-lasting.

  1. Compare lift columns, cables, hydraulics, etc.

Companies will always try to talk up the structural integrity of their lifts through their marketing efforts, but even when comparing two ALI Certified lifts, the differences can be shocking and very, very revealing. You might start to ask questions you may have never thought of:

Why aren’t their lifting cables as thick?

Why is this company’s column made from a single piece of steel while others are made from multiple pieces?

Why is their warranty so much better?

Does it matter that the telescoping arm is three-stage and not just two-stage?

Etc., etc., etc.

All of these things matter for a long-lasting lift: thick, aircraft-quality cables; single-piece column construction; wider, taller, thicker base plates; throttle valves integrated into hydraulic cylinders to regulate flow and fluid pressure; reinforced carriage/pin hole sites; a five-year parts warranty; and so much more.

  1. Don’t confuse lift capacity with safety

Mistaking lift capacity for greater safety is what we call the “rookie mistake.” If Company A makes a lift rated at 10,000 lbs., and their lift includes more of the safety features and expert engineering you really want, but Company B makes a lift rated at 12,000 lbs. for the same price, which should you get? This is a tough decision, isn’t it? On the one hand, Company A has wider base plates, a better overall warranty, thicker cables, slack-cable detection, a more durable hydraulic cylinder (with a longer stroke) and a number of other superior safety features. On the other hand, Company B’s lift can hold 2,000 lbs. more, so its engineering must be improved on some level, right? Not necessarily.

When we go beneath the surface and see how lift capacity is rated, we see that the listed capacity is only a small piece of the puzzle. We could go on all day about this, but instead, we’ll focus on one crucial aspect of four-post lifts: the lifting cables.

equalizer-cables

ALI Certification demands that different aspects of the lift structure are over-engineered to handle at least 300% of the car lift’s official lift capacity. It’s possible that Company B, rather than engineering a more powerful lift, tacked on an extra 2K to their rated capacity by staying just above that 300% mark. On the other hand, Company A uses aircraft-quality stainless steel cables rated to hold 14,400 lbs. each, meaning the lift can handle 600 – 800% more than their rated capacity by the strength of the cables alone. Company A can back up these claims with FEA reports to prove their engineering superiority and uses rigorous testing procedures to put the math to the test. Can you guess which company, Company A or Company B, more resembles BendPak? (Hint: it’s Company A.)

  1. Trust that a company’s history matters

There are companies that have been making car lifts for 50+ years. There are also plenty of cheap, discount brands that are new to the business and try to sell you on their hackneyed version of “affordability.” Real, honest value comes from trust, not penny-pinching, and trust is built over a long period of time. If a company has been around and growing for 50-some-odd years, there’s a good reason for it.

  1. Check online presence (e.g. social media accounts, blog updates)

online-presenceBusiness practices change over time. Online presence is one way of finding out what a company is like, the personalities of the people in charge, how responsive they are to their customers, etc. Companies that care will make themselves available to you. They’ll spell words correctly on their websites and fix mistakes as they come up. (Seriously, correct use of grammar and proper spelling are tell-tale signs of a company’s overall professionalism.) Most successful companies have a blog and update some portion of their content regularly.

  1. Sign up for car forums and see what people are saying

We can’t stress this enough. The DIY and professional service car communities combine to make up one of the largest, smartest and most vocal groups out there, so pay attention to what they say! These guys and gals don’t suffer fools, so make sure you understand the etiquette of the forum before you go blabbing or spouting uninformed nonsense. They’ll tear you apart in there!

See what’s being said about car lifts on the market, know your garage dimensions and lifting needs and don’t be afraid to ask questions. In our experience, these forums have been like free marketing for BendPak: we proudly make the best car lifts, and people simply rave about us on the web. It’s actually pretty awesome how that all works out.

Proud car lift owner posting on Garage Journal (great forum)

Proud car lift owner posting on Garage Journal (great forum)

  1. Expect free shipping and a fairly priced installation service

Shipping fees are a thing of the past when it comes to car lift freight. If a company is charging you shipping, it means they’re either 1) misrepresenting the actual price of their lift with hidden fees, or 2) they’re not a reputable company and have fallen behind on the times. This one is pretty simple and standard. Likewise, the certified third-party service that installs your lift should only charge a few hundred dollars. It’s a one-time cost that’s incredibly beneficial to anyone who isn’t a car lift installation expert.

  1. Look for good resale value

Every smart buyer is in a position to be a smart seller. Whether it’s been a few weeks, months, days or years, sometimes people just need to sell their lifts. The resale value of a lift is a huge indicator of its quality. We will inject here that BendPak lifts keep their value over time. It’s important, of course, to have the lift inspected to make sure all weld points are intact, the telescoping arms (if applicable) are in good condition, rubber pads aren’t torn and chewed, cables and airlines are cared for properly, etc. You might ask them to replace certain parts that have worn down over time, or you might decide to do that yourself. Like we said, a good car lift will last for many, many years, so unless the previous owner was totally careless about lift capacity and/or periodic maintenance, there’s no real reason to think a used lift is a bad idea. Know your seller! BendPak offers open-box deals from time-to-time, which is a great way to find a top-quality, discounted lift (the only time we’ll use the “d”-word).

What are some of the other ways you look for value? Drop us a comment!

9 Incredible Situations where a Dash Cam Saves the Day

September 2nd, 2016

Dash cams serve two purposes. BendPak doesn’t make dash cams, but the more we hear about them, the more vital we think they are. Dash cams are a good investment: they’re cost-effective and give you peace of mind. Dash cam footage will back you up in court when it captures crimes and other illegal acts. Because they keep recording, they reveal incredible moments that end before you can say “Snapchat.” Dash cams cost between $20-$200, with the average being around $60, which is a small price to pay for this kind of security. These are the situations where a dash cam really comes in handy.

1: Bust ’em for the hit-and-run

This has got to make you happy to see. Some dude is driving down the road, minding his own business when suddenly he’s clipped by an SUV that refuses to stop and pull over. Only a dash cam could have captured this moment and made sure justice was served. We love the list of charges that runs at the end.

2. Insurance scammers beware

Insurance scammers from across the globe are caught red-handed by these dash cams. Look for the incredible moment that they seem to realize they’re on camera and slowly just walk away like nothing ever happened. (Those guilty expressions, though!) If this happened to you and you couldn’t prove that your would-be victim screaming and clutching their would-be injuries was faking, what would you say to the police when the crowd of bystanders all say they didn’t see the accident happen, per se, but they did see a man clutching his foot underneath your car? A dash cam would clear all that nonsense right up.

Imagine if your best friend broke your two-post car lift while you weren’t there and blamed it on a faulty cable, but a camera in your garage showed that he improperly loaded the lift. Friends don’t improperly load their friends’ lifts. Everyone knows that.

3. “How’s my driving?”

angry dog

Excuse our PG-rated French, but it sucks to get stuck in front of, behind or next to a bad driver (e.g. road ragers, dangerous mergers). When someone does something as common as turning without using a blinker, we don’t recommend calling 9-1-1 and wasting county resources (as well as your time) with a full-blown report about your hurt feelings. On the other hand, if said driver’s merge is the cause of an accident, you’ll have all the proof you need to settle up without getting lawyers involved.

4. Time-lapse videos are awesome

There’s something that seems to draw us toward time-lapse videos. Take something boring, like a 1,000-mile stretch of highway, film it with your dash cam, and suddenly you have proof of a pretty amazing journey. There are many memorable stretches of road you might want to make into time-lapse, and dash cams are the perfect way to make that happen.

5. Pics or it didn’t happen

Keeping your dash cam on 24/7 is a worthwhile idea. Things always seem to happen out of nowhere, and most of the time it’s our word against people’s willingness to trust us. We’ve all seen some hilarious stuff on the roads that would make for a great story… if only we had a dash cam to prove it really happened. This video is incredible beyond words.

6. Capture what happens when you park

7. No unjust violations or citations

If you’re speeding and a cop pulls you over, you’ll probably get a ticket. After all, it’s hard to fight against radar evidence. On the other hand, what if you were scratching your ear and a police officer thought you were using your cell phone? It happened to one Brooklyn resident, and if he didn’t have a dash cam to show the cop he wasn’t on his phone, he would have been unjustly ticketed.

8. Injustice revealed

In one incredible case, a dash cam captured police officer misconduct, which was only possible because of the recording. Some of the things you see and hear in this news clip are pretty shocking. But it’s not just citizens who need a little help from their friend (i.e. dash cams). Sometimes it’s the police who need to back up their actions, especially in life-and-death situations. We’re not posting the video directly due to the graphic nature of the content, but from the link, you can choose to watch the fatal shooting, which occurs off-screen. Both officers involved were cleared of any wrongdoing. It’s powerful, convincing evidence for dash cams.

9. Assist your insurance claims on fender-benders

Insurance claims made easy! If you’re in an accident, even a small fender-bender, your dash cam will catch it all. In this video (the action starts at 1:47), the dash cam belongs to someone not even involved in the accident. His YouTube description says it all: “The guy who caused the accident told a completely different story and was pretty mad when he found out that what he did was recorded.” As soon as the accident occurs, the driver realizes he managed to capture something important. It’s great how he pulls over right away to help out.

Final Thoughts
Even though most people carry smartphones capable of recording video, dash cams bridge that split-second gap that is the difference between seeing something and missing it entirely. It’s the moment you’d otherwise spend digging in your pocket and getting the camera ready. By that point, the vehicle collision has already happened; the insurance fraud has been committed; the police officer-involved shooting already took place; the funny, once-in-a-lifetime experience has come and gone. There’s definitely peace of mind with your dash cam running, and it comes cheaper than most GPS systems, smartphones and other electronic equipment. We can’t recommend them enough.

Should I Buy Diesel, Gas, Hybrid or Electric? (Part 2 of 2)

August 9th, 2016

Part 1 of this series focused on diesel and gas options. Part 2 explores the pros and cons of hybrid and electric vehicle types.

If you’re interested in hybrid and/or electric car options, you’re probably a go-getter who finds excitement in all things futuristic, new, advanced and efficient. Can’t say we blame you! Most of the headline-grabbing advances in auto tech seem to be happening outside the realm of conventional gas and diesel. So, what can we really expect to see in the future?

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Tip of the Hat to Hydrogen (Who’s always been “Number 1”)
You got us: it’s neither hybrid nor electric, and the technology might not be mass-produced for some years to come, but hydrogen cars are simply too cool to ignore, so we’re shedding a little light on the situation.

While hydrogen-fueled cars are slowly entering the picture, with about 3,000 of Toyota’s Mirais scheduled to be released by the end of 2017, we suspect it’s going to be a while before manufacturers refine the technology, convince the public of its safety, build fueling stations, train professionals on servicing new parts and make the vehicles cost-effective for a majority of consumers. The technology lives but it’s limited. Hundai’s Tuscon is a new hydrogen-cell car that, like the Mirai, is only available in select parts of California. All this being said, things have come a long way since the turn of the millennium. The prospect of hydrogen, hybrid and electric cars makes this an exciting time to geek out over car tech.

Hybrid Pros and ConsHydrogen
The Toyota Prius may be the poster child for hybrid efficiency, but luxury, utility and SUV options are becoming as much a part of the hybrid mainstay. The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid is back after a year-long break, during which Honda shuffled manufacturing facilities. The new model looks to compete directly with the Toyota Camry Hybrid and is a great example of the trend we’re seeing in newer hybrids. The interior is sportier than the comparable Camry hybrid and costs $3,000 and some change more, but it has better fuel economy (Accord, 48 mpg / Camry, 40 mpg). Despite these differences, the most significant factor here is the overall change in direction we’re seeing from hybrid producers. Consumers want more than just bread-and-butter gas efficiency. They want style and the feel that they’re driving a real car, not a modified go-cart with a backseat bench. The best indicator of this change is the fact that more luxury hybrid vehicles are hitting the market each year.

The bottom line on hybrids is that you’re going to spend a little more to save on mileage over the life of your car. Like we said in Part 1 about diesels, if you don’t actually keep your car long enough to see the mileage rewards, what’s the point? If you want better mileage but price is the sticking point, you can always buy a hybrid used, save a few thousand and still get great mpg.

Hybrids are also smaller and less powerful than their gas counterparts. If 4-cylinder engines just aren’t your thing, there are a few hybrid trucks out there (the Chevy Silverado 1500 Hybrid comes to mind), and an upcoming Ford F-150 scheduled for 2020 that looks interesting, but other than that, you’re not touting much power and speed when you go hybrid. But you already knew that, right?

Final thought here: we talk to a lot of car guys and gals in our line of work, and not many of them get very excited about wrenching on hybrids The tech is beyond a lot of DIY-folk who grew up rebuilding old Fords and Chevys; some just prefer the simplicity of working with purely mechanical parts. Nothing wrong with that.

Hybrid Verdict
As you might expect, we think hybrids are awesome and keep getting better. They retain their value pretty well, and the higher upfront cost compared to conventional gas is well worth the long-term savings. Just don’t expect a nice return on investment if you’re going to swap cars every couple of  years for the newer, prettier model. Hybrid drivers, especially those who find the premium 40+ mpg range, make significantly fewer trips to the gas pump but may have increased repair costs. Unless you somehow rack up crazy repair bills, this sort of financial give-and-take should still work in your favor if you decide to go hybrid.

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Tesla Model S charging at home

Electric Pros and Cons
Let’s first briefly (and non-politically) cover the controversial price of “going green.” It’s appropriate to put quotes around the “green” label, as carbon emissions come in many forms, including the way your grid produces electricity. In fact, the Devonshire Research Group, an investment firm that attempts to put “true value” on tech companies, believes Tesla has an overvalued stock and an image whose eco-friendliness is over-hyped. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that it takes energy to produce our electricity, which sometimes means carbon emissions (especially if your electricity is produced from coal), and we know that auto manufacturing is likely never going to be 100% green. When all is said and done, the gas we burn in conventional engines is still leaving a larger eco footprint than electric vehicles. If being eco-friendly is important to you, an electric car is definitely a step in the right direction. (And run your dishwasher at night, take shorter showers, don’t let the water run when you brush… you know the drill.)

But let’s look into that other price: the one you know is waiting for you on every sticker on every car in every dealership in America; the one your frugal father used to have vivid nightmares about; the one that made you stop car shopping altogether. Yeah, that one.  There’s a wide price range in the electric field (no pun intended), but you’re looking at spending at least $25,000 – $30,000 for a new electric car. That link should give you a sense of what hybrid and electric cars cost.

Price aside, one of the biggest drawbacks of electric vehicles is the limited driving range they offer. The upcoming Tesla 3 is getting a lot of hype for it’s 200+ mile range, whereas many other cars, like the Chevy Spark, are getting about half that distance per charge. If you have a garage that you can plug into every night and don’t travel much beyond the daily commute, you’re probably fine!  Apartment renters might be out of luck, unless you see yourself waiting at a charging station every other day. (Pro tip: don’t do that to yourself.)

We would be remiss in writing this article if we didn’t point out the obvious: you’re going to save a lot of money with an electric car. The IRS offers tax breaks for many electric cars (including some hybrids, as well), which can save you up to $7,500. Additionally, charging an electric car costs a fraction of what you pay at the pump. It’s hard to pin down what you’ll pay because the price of electricity is always in a state of flux, and different states have different rates, etc. etc. One government estimate says you’ll pay $25 – $107 per 1,000 miles (Hawaii being on that high end). Those are hefty savings compared to gas. How electric vehicles are serviced is another question, however. The repairs are more expensive, as they are with hybrids. How you drive and how often you wind up in the shop should be taken into consideration, as well.

Electric Verdbaby-with-a-laptopict
Buying a car is kind of like deciding when to have a baby, isn’t it? You’ve got to plan out every need and obstacle you may face along the way, brace yourself for short-term down payments and expenses, and have a reserve for incidents that might occur down the road. And like a baby, now may not be the right time. This is especially true when it comes to electric vehicles. You need a house with a garage to get your charging done, so forget about electric if you can’t house and charge the thing properly. Extended road trips might not be feasible unless you plan accordingly and find charge stations along the way, but this is likely to become less difficult with time. And last but not least, electric cars tend to have a higher sticker price than comparable gas models.

For now, weigh your options and conduct thorough research. With the exception of our little nod to hydrogen tech, the all-electric car is the most significant, and potentially difficult, purchasing leap to make. If it’s worth it to you and not a deep hassle to make the switch, we wouldn’t be shocked if you wind up loving your new electric car. Pun intended.

Should I Buy Diesel, Gas, Hybrid or Electric? (Part 1 of 2)

July 22nd, 2016
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More free, public electric charge stations are popping up… but is an electric car the best vehicle for your needs?

Part 1: Keeping With Tradition
By all accounts, we live in the age of choice. Thanks to an extremely competitive new and used car sales market, there are more car options than ever before: diesel, gas, hybrid and electric options are sold in every price range, and there are pros and cons to every type. Electric car manufacturers like Tesla draw their public appeal from being a sport/luxury vehicle that offers elite style with a smaller eco footprint than a Toyota Prius, but the upfront cost is beyond most buyers. On the other end of the spectrum, tried-and-true gas staples like Toyota’s Corolla and Camry lines offer users product familiarity, gas economy and renowned durability, but they’re not necessarily making waves in terms of what lies ahead in the “the future.” Of course, Toyota, Honda, Ford, Subaru and many other companies are manufacturing hybrids to keep up with the demand for more eco-friendly solutions. If getting the best fuel economy for your money is a top priority, we can help you sort through and evaluate your choices. So let’s look at the pros and cons of buying diesel, gas, hybrid and electric vehicles.

Part 1 of this series will focus on diesel and gas options, the more “traditional” engine types. Part 2 will explore the pros and cons of hybrid and electric vehicle types.

diesel meter

Diesel pros and cons
The term “deferred gratification” applies well to diesel engines and represents an important life lesson when it comes to saving money. Deferred gratification is the idea that you get more from an investment if you wait months or even years after investing to see the benefits. Retirement policies are the best example: it takes decades to turn tens of thousands of invested dollars into hundreds of thousands, and it happens slowly over the course of a lifetime. Smart investors know that while it feels like you’re losing money in the present, the earnings down the road are well worth the wait. Consider that the average diesel engine lasts over twice as long as a conventional gas engine, but the diesel sticker price runs about $1,000 to $3,000 more. Diesel engines get more our of each gallon, which easily translates into more savings and fewer trips to the pump; however, the immediate cost at the pump is higher for each fill-up. This turns some people away from diesel.

In the short term, a diesel car is going to cost a little more. The savings don’t come in the form of big “blowout-this-weekend-only-everything-must-go-buy-now-or-miss-it” sales, the likes of which car dealerships, malls and businesses across America try to lure you into with the illusion of saving your wallet from the evil “other guy.” Diesel engines, like any investment, will earn you savings over time. If you don’t plan on running keeping a diesel car for at least seven years and 200,000 miles (or more), you might not benefit enough to make it worth the cost.

Diesel Verdict
Diesels are an excellent solution for car buyers who are looking to stick with their vehicle for the long-term. And unlike electric charging stations, diesel pumps are found at virtually every conventional gas station. If you’re more into leasing or purchasing new/used vehicles every five years, you’ll enjoy better mpg (than most conventional gas engines), but it’s a little harder to say if you’ll make up for the higher upfront cost to get the long-term cost benefits.

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The gas-run 2016 Ford Fiesta gets 31/43 mpg

Conventional gas pros and cons
There’s more room for debate here than in any other category. We can say right now that if you’re into most sports, luxury, race and muscle cars, and certainly if you’re into classic cars, then conventional gas engines are probably your go-to option. Being the most common car type, service shops are most equipped to service engine parts (along with diesel), so parts/labor costs are often lower. Likewise, the expert DIY’er will benefit from paying less for parts.

Gas engines offer such a range in mpg that it’s safe to say the biggest factor in determining the life of your gas engine is you. Do you want a big truck? Then you’re not going to get top mileage. Do you want a turbocharged V8? (And we ain’t talking vegetable juice.) No argument here, but you’re not going that route for the mpg. If muscle isn’t a concern, a lower-cost gas-run vehicle can save you on the sticker price and get you at or around 40 mpg. It’s harder to say if the quality of the vehicle and durability of its parts are up to snuff, but much of that will be determined by how you drive and maintain your vehicle. All this being said, conventional gas engines have improved significantly in the past few years, and virtually every major car company is offering new-and-improved models that feature better gas mileage than past models.

Gas Verdict
It just depends what you’re looking for. If you want to get the most mileage per gallon, as well as a lower sticker price, a gas engine may be for you. That being said, when it comes to mileage, the best gas engine will always fall short of the best hybrid engine. As the technology stands today and at least into the near future, gas vehicles are cheaper hybrids and electrics (comparing vehicles in a similar class). The cost savings over time are hard to quantify down to a science, so keep the gas option on the table if you’re looking to save money and get good mileage.

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Gas fuel sticker example. Gas engine mpg varies greatly.

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