Category Archives: Automotive

Houston We Have a Problem: The Onyx 1828 3/8″ Nano Impact Wrench Breaks Its Retaining Clip

Well, after only moderate use my Onyx 1828 3/8″ Nano Impact Wrench has a problem.  On the nose is a small retaining ring, that holds sockets in place.  It came out of its groove and bent.  At first I couldn’t figure out why it was so hard to put sockets on or take them off the wrench.  The last one I had to hammer off and then saw what the problem was:

The retaining ring that holds the sockets on the nose had bent!  It was so bad that I didn’t even try to see if I could get a socket on as you can see in the above photos.

First, I checked Amazon to see if I could return it but could not – no worries – I bought it back on January 25, 2018 — about eight and a half months ago.  So, I Googled Astra Pneumatics, found their warranty page and they said to call  (800-221-9705) with the model number of the unit (The 3/8″ Onyx I have is model # 1828)  and the part that I needed from their breakdown sheet located on the main product page – so I got that too:

I circled it in red above for reference – it’s part number 1822-04 and called the 800 number.  The phone was promptly answered and the lady I spoke to was very professional.  They knew there was a problem with a previous generation of the wrench sold earlier by Amazon that they had since fixed.  She said she’d be very happy to send me a new ring for free.  “Cool – I don’t have to send it in” so I gave her my info.

Here we are two weeks later and still no ring.  I called again and this time wrote down the name of the customer service agent and she gave me a reference number, which the last agent did not.  I told her I was bummed because I needed the wrench and the sockets just fell off when I was trying to do odd position work – which was true.   The sockets were just falling off on work with any downward angle.

So, I talked to her on September 11th and we’ll see how things go.  I’m hoping the ring comes this time or I will call back and escalate matters.  I really like the wrench – it’s light, powerful and can get in tight spaces but that all doesn’t matter if it can’t retain its sockets.

So, I wanted to pass this along in case you are having a similar issue and you want to know who to contact and what to request.  I’ll update this post once I have the ring and the unit back in operation … or, worst case, I have to call a third time and escalate but I think things will get resolved this time as the customer service agent made sure (literally) that I wrote down both her name and the reference number.

We’ll see.

Update 9/29:  They sent the wrong size retaining ring!!!  The replacement unit must be for the 1/2″ model.  It’s 8:07pm and they closed at 3:30 Pacific so I left a general voicemail as Marcy’s voicemail box in customer service is not accepting messages.  I’m now getting irked. 


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon to buy something.   With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.



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Astro 1828 ONYX 3/8″ Nano Impact Wrench 450ft/lb (Automotive)

The Astro Pneumatic Tool 1828 ONYX 3/8″ Nano Impact Wrench – 450ft/lb allows for the shortest profile possible when paired with 3/8″ impact sockets. This makes it ideal for use in restricted spaces such as engine, transmission, and suspension work. It is constructed with 3 forward and 3 reverse settings, a full length of less than 3-7/8″, and is incredibly light weight at 3lbs Specifications: Free Speed: 10,500 R.P.M, Hammer Design: Twin Hammer, Max torque: 450 ft-lb, Working torque: 400 ft-lb, Drive Size: 3/8″, Avg. Air Consumption: 5.6 CFM, Noise Level: 85 dB, Overall Length: 3.85″, Net Weight: 2.98 lbs, Air Inlet: 1/4″, Sug. Air Pressure: 90 Psi, Exhaust System: Handle Exhaust.

Features: 

  • Ideal for use in restricted spaces such as engine, transmission, and suspension work
  • 3/8″ model allows for the shortest profile possible when paired with 3/8″ impact sockets
  • 3 forward and 3 reverse settings
  • Full length of less than 3-7/8″ and incredibly light weight at 3lbs
  • Compact yet powerful design at 450ft/lbs

List Price: $98.00 USD
New From: $95.00 USD In Stock
buy now

The EWK Vacuum Fluid Extractor is Darned Handy to Drain Engine Oil and ATF Through the Dipstick Tube!!

Folks who know me also know that I am always tinkering with something – cars, trucks, tractors, firearms, you name it.  A few years ago a guy showed me how he could change fluids in his car using a vacuum siphon and I was intrigued but let it slide.

I recently went through all our old Toyotas and changed the transmission fluid to Valvoline Max Life and it dawned on me that it would be real nice to have a way to more precisely get the fluid right where I wanted it in the transmissions because I had slightly overfilled one car.  Then I remembered the vacuum siphon and hopped on Amazon.

The EWK 6.5 liter (1.71 gallon) pneumatic or manual fluid extractor looked like just the tool for the job.  I always pay close attention to reviews and this unit really had good ones – 277 reviews and a score of 4.4 out of 5 stars.  That’s pretty good statistically – I like to get well past 30 reviews and the more the better.

At any rate, thanks to Amazon prime, I ordered it and the unit arrived two days later.  I must say that I was impressed.  The plastics are all well done and it worked like a charm.

In this next photo you can see the little adapter and hose extension that comes with the unit.  They say three in the ad and the first hose is attached to the cap with a strain relief.  The hose is about  .39/.31 (OD/ID) and 39.3″ long.  The other two hoses are basically extensions via a soft rubber connector.  I am using the medium extension that is .26/.21 OD/ID) and also 39.3″ long.  That diameter has worked fine for Toyota T-IV ATF, Valvoline Max Life ATF  and also 10W30 engine oil.  When I say it can suck, that is a compliment in this case 🙂

The next photo shows the pump handle and also the venturi vacuum generator.  I have that air line on my dryer system and is running 90PSI off a 60 gallon IR two stage compressor.  It really didn’t use too much air.  No vacuum generator will win awards for air use but you don’t need to run it for very long – just while you are pumping the fluid out and that will probably be about 2-3 minutes for most engines and transmissions.

The first time I used it, I did so with an air line (it can use compressed air to create a venturi vacuum) .  It actually pumped way faster than I realized and I had over a quart out of the car before I realized it.  You can definitely reduce the air flow to reduce the vacuum – it was just faster than I thought it would be, which is good news.

I was so impressed that I used the extractor to remove all the ATF from a 94 Corolla in very short order.  I let it pump until nothing else came out — no problem.

I recently needed to change the oil in my tractor – again, used the siphon and it drained it very quickly.  This is noteworthy as I used the hand pump to create the vacuum and it really was effortless.  This was also when it dawned on me I better take some photos 🙂

In this next photo, you can see the unit with the hose cap off – it just twists off – and this is the pour spout to empty the unit also.

In summary, it’s a great unit.  I’ve not had any problems at all and recommend it.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.



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EWK Pneumatic/Manual 6.5 Liter Oil Changer Vacuum Fluid Extractor Pump Tank Remover (Misc.)

●Customer Service:
1. Office hours: Monday to Friday 9:00am to 3:30pm (Pacific Time).
2. We will reply your message within 24~48 hours.
● Shipping:
1. Monday to Friday (orders placed before AM8:00) will be shipped within 24 hours.
2. Orders placed after Friday AM8:00 or national holiday will be shipped on the coming business day.
3. Buyers responsible for all custom and brokerage fees for shipments outside of the United States.
●30 Days Money Back Guarantee:
1. Customer MUST contact us within 30 days after the purchasing.
2. Item must be sellable condition with the original packaging. Fees may apply if item is determined as not original condition.
3. Buyer should be responsible for the return freight.
4. 20% restocking fee is NON-REFUNDABLE under any circumstances.
● Warranty:
1. Most of items which were marked “warranty” on the selling page apply to the warranty policy. Some item is not included.
2. Warranty period: 1 year
3. The warranty only covers the defects under normal use.
4. The warranty DOES NOT cover the defect was subjected to misuse, negligence or accident.
5. The warranty DOES NOT cover consumable parts.
6. EWK reserves the right of final decision.

Features: 

  • MULTIFUNCTION OIL CHANGER MANUAL & PNEUMATIC MODEL – Quick Extraction On Pneumatic Mode, 1.6L/Min. – Oil Changing Anywhere Without Compressor On Manual Mode.
  • WIDELY USED FOR FLUID EXTRACTION – Engine Oil, Gear Oil, Brake Oil, Coolant, Water, Etc.
  • PIPE FITTINGS FIT MOST EQUIPMENT – Connected Hoses Fits Car, Marine, Lawn Mower And Industrial Machinery.
  • EXTRACTION WITHOUT CAR LIFTED UP – Special Angle Spout Design Makes Everything Clean. Changing Oil, Your Best Partner!
  • REPLACING HOSES CAN BE PURCHASED SOLELY – The Nylon Hoses Are Consumables In The Set And Should Be Changed When They Are Worn Out Get New Ones By Searching【 EWK Extractor Hose 】You Can Also Get An Extra Brake Hose For Bleeding Use.

List Price: $77.49 USD
New From: $77.49 USD In Stock
buy now

Valvoline Max Life ATF Works Great in 2002 Toyota Camry XLE

We are a Toyota family and most of our cars were bought either used or very used from private parties.  At any rate, a few years ago I bought a 2002 Toyota Camry XLE with a 4-Cylinder engine.  The other day my older daughter said it was making a funny noise in reverse so I checked the dipstick.  Wow.  Not only was it low but the ATF looked awful.  For comparison, the below photo with the brownish ATF on the white paper towel is on the left and brand new ATF is on the right.  Wow!!  (Yeah, I wrote wow twice because I was stunned.

So I told my daughter to ride with her sister in our old 92 Corolla and that I needed to work on their car.  First thing I did was to look at the fluid a couple of times – it was brownish but not black, no metal flakes and no bad smell.

In reading the manual, Toyota wrote that the transmission fluid should be good for the life of the car … right.  I guess it depends on how you view that, or at least how they view it.  I’m sure I checked the fluid when we got the car and it wasn’t this color but I’m not in a habit of checking it regularly unless I see drips or a puddle under a car or truck.

This car had almost 195,000 miles on it and we put about 50,000 of those miles on it.  I figured a change was past due.  So, before I did anything, I decided to do some reading first.

Picking Valvoline Max Life ATF

I knew there were a ton of different automatic transmission fluids (ATF) out there and that getting the right one was key.  The transmission was designed to use Toyota ATF T-IV and there are different brands that claim to meet the spec.  The problem is that the wrong one can cause headaches.  One particular formulation kept coming up as I read about what others used – Valvoline Max Life ATF:

Note in the next photo you can see that Valvoline says this can replace Toyota T-IV as well – it’s not just guys on the Internet.  By the way, if you feel uncomfortable with what I am saying, definitely do your own research and you’ll see tons of favorable posts about using this fluid.

Okay, so I bought two gallons of the above.  The automatic transmission in the car uses about 4.1 quarts.  I used a 10mm allen bit in my Onyx 3/8″ impact wrench and drained everything I could from the pan.  I then put the plug back in and added two quarts of fresh Max Life and let it run for about 30 seconds and shifted through the gears (I was up on 6 ton jack stands with rubber wheel chocks and the parking brake on).

I then removed the plug again and drained the fluid.  I then removed the return line, started the car for maybe 30 seconds if that – I turned it off when nothing else was coming out.  I then buttoned it all back up.

In  theory the transmission was empty.  I’ve had issues in the past where I assumed that was the case but it was not so I didn’t want to assume anything.  I added two quarts and moved it to a perfectly flat spot on my driveway.  I could just barely see a hint of ATF on the tip.  I added a bit more to get it short of the cold empty mark.

I don’t trust the cold measure on the dipstick.   With an automatic transmission it must be up to its operating temperature to get a good reading in the hot zone (the bottom mark is for cold is a ballpark – get it hot and then test as you absolutely do not want to overfill an automatic transmission).  As it gets hot the fluid expands hence my wanting to know at temperature where I was at.

How to Check the Automatic Transmission Fluid Level

Now, to check the ATF level, Toyota does not tell you in the operator’s manual and I frown on that.  With the car flat, let it idle (or drive it 10 miles if you have fluid in it – I had an unknown level so I didn’t want to get on the road) and let the engine and transmission come up to operating temperature (158-176F).  Then, with your foot on the brake, shift the gear selector from park through all the gears, stopping at each one and then back up.  With the car idling and the transmission in park, check the dipstick.

To make sure the engine and tranny were hot enough, I used my BAFX plug in OBD II probe that connects to the Torque app on my Android phone via Bluetooth.

I kept adding smaller and smaller amounts of ATF and moved the selector lever per the above before I would test the level again.  I got it close to full in the hot range and then stopped.  As mentioned, I did not want to go past full.  By the way, when you are reading a dipstick with during filling, you must wipe it off each time to get a good reading and you may find that you get a better view of the fluid level on one side or the other of the dipstick.

In case you are wondering, I did not do the transmission filter.  It would have taken a ton of time and I figured I would start with the fluid and see what happened.

The end result – it shifts beautifully.  I could not be happier — even my wife thinks it shifts smoother and feels better.   To wrap this up, I wrote this post in case one of you has questions about what transmission fluid is a good substitute for Toyota Type T-IV, and also how to properly check the automatic transmission fluid level.

9/10/2018 Update – The Camry XLE has been on a number of 200-400 mile highway road trips at highway speeds and shows no signs of shifting problems.  The family agrees the car shifts smoother.  I have now replaced the ATF in our 2004 Solara SLE and 1994 Corolla with Max Life ATF also and all are running well.  The Solara has close to a 1,000 miles on it now.  I’m very pleased with Max Life and will continue using it in my Toyotas.  By the way, I now use an EWK Fluid Evacuator for getting the ATF exactly where I want it.  Here’s the post about that tool.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.



See larger image

Additional Images:Img - B06WD64H8Z
Img - B06WD64H8Z
Img - B06WD64H8Z
Img - B06WD64H8Z
Img - B06WD64H8Z
Img - B06WD64H8Z
Img - B06WD64H8Z

EWK Pneumatic/Manual 6.5 Liter Oil Changer Vacuum Fluid Extractor Pump Tank Remover (Misc.)

●Customer Service:
1. Office hours: Monday to Friday 9:00am to 3:30pm (Pacific Time).
2. We will reply your message within 24~48 hours.
● Shipping:
1. Monday to Friday (orders placed before AM8:00) will be shipped within 24 hours.
2. Orders placed after Friday AM8:00 or national holiday will be shipped on the coming business day.
3. Buyers responsible for all custom and brokerage fees for shipments outside of the United States.
●30 Days Money Back Guarantee:
1. Customer MUST contact us within 30 days after the purchasing.
2. Item must be sellable condition with the original packaging. Fees may apply if item is determined as not original condition.
3. Buyer should be responsible for the return freight.
4. 20% restocking fee is NON-REFUNDABLE under any circumstances.
● Warranty:
1. Most of items which were marked “warranty” on the selling page apply to the warranty policy. Some item is not included.
2. Warranty period: 1 year
3. The warranty only covers the defects under normal use.
4. The warranty DOES NOT cover the defect was subjected to misuse, negligence or accident.
5. The warranty DOES NOT cover consumable parts.
6. EWK reserves the right of final decision.

Features: 

  • MULTIFUNCTION OIL CHANGER MANUAL & PNEUMATIC MODEL – Quick Extraction On Pneumatic Mode, 1.6L/Min. – Oil Changing Anywhere Without Compressor On Manual Mode.
  • WIDELY USED FOR FLUID EXTRACTION – Engine Oil, Gear Oil, Brake Oil, Coolant, Water, Etc.
  • PIPE FITTINGS FIT MOST EQUIPMENT – Connected Hoses Fits Car, Marine, Lawn Mower And Industrial Machinery.
  • EXTRACTION WITHOUT CAR LIFTED UP – Special Angle Spout Design Makes Everything Clean. Changing Oil, Your Best Partner!
  • REPLACING HOSES CAN BE PURCHASED SOLELY – The Nylon Hoses Are Consumables In The Set And Should Be Changed When They Are Worn Out Get New Ones By Searching【 EWK Extractor Hose 】You Can Also Get An Extra Brake Hose For Bleeding Use.

List Price: $77.49 USD
New From: $77.49 USD In Stock
buy now

Very Compact Astro 1828 ONYX 3/8″ Nano Impact Wrench Is Great For Tight Quarters

This past winter I had the fun of changing the starter motor twice in 15 degree weather in my Landcruiser.  It was a bear getting to the starter bolts with my full size Ingersoll Rand 1/2 Thunder Gun.  It’s an awesome impact wrench and I had trashed a few cheap Harbor Freight ones before taking the advice of my friends and buying it.  To make a long story short, with a long extension and a universal joint, I was able to get the two bolts out.

While working on the truck, it struck me that I really needed a compact impact wrench to get into tight spaces.  I did some digging and found the Astro 1828 Onyx for 3/8″ impact sockets.  I figured I wanted small and probably would not need 1/2″ most of the time.

These next photos show how much more compact the Onyx is compared to the big Thunder Gun:

The little Onyx gets great reviews – currently 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 148 reviews.  I bought it and a Hot Max 28083 Swivel adapter at the same time.   It arrived in a nice little cardboard box from Amazon and I promptly put good Teflon tape on the swivel’s fittings, installed it and then a Milton M-style plug.

So far, both are holding up great in my home garage use (I’m not a pro mechanic – more like a shade tree one with ADD and sleep deprivation).

What I find interesting is that it is a torquy little beast.  They claim 450 ft/lbs.  I have not bothered checking using a calibrated torque wrench but I can tell you it’s done a great job so far.  For big stuff / tight stuff, I still go to the Thundergun with its 625 ft/lbs of torque.  The Onyx is more of a special purpose tool for me.  By the way, if you notice it is shiny above, I had just used it to remove the drain plug off a 2002 Camry’s transmission.  They are about 18mm and use a 10mm Allen bit to come off.  My 10mm Allen bit is for a 3/8″ drive so I just stuck it on the Onyx and it whipped it right off.  Reinstalling, I set torque at 1 out of 3 and then checked it with a 3/8″ drive ratchet wrench after — it was in there solid.

In short, I am happy with the little Nano and Hot Max swivel combination.  I definitely still use my Thunder Gun for wheel lugs and big fasteners but the Nano is now my go to for tight spaces.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.



See larger image

Additional Images:Img - B016Q4Y5CM
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Astro 1828 ONYX 3/8″ Nano Impact Wrench 450ft/lb (Automotive)

The Astro Pneumatic Tool 1828 ONYX 3/8″ Nano Impact Wrench – 450ft/lb allows for the shortest profile possible when paired with 3/8″ impact sockets. This makes it ideal for use in restricted spaces such as engine, transmission, and suspension work. It is constructed with 3 forward and 3 reverse settings, a full length of less than 3-7/8″, and is incredibly light weight at 3lbs Specifications: Free Speed: 10,500 R.P.M, Hammer Design: Twin Hammer, Max torque: 450 ft-lb, Working torque: 400 ft-lb, Drive Size: 3/8″, Avg. Air Consumption: 5.6 CFM, Noise Level: 85 dB, Overall Length: 3.85″, Net Weight: 2.98 lbs, Air Inlet: 1/4″, Sug. Air Pressure: 90 Psi, Exhaust System: Handle Exhaust.

Features: 

  • Ideal for use in restricted spaces such as engine, transmission, and suspension work
  • 3/8″ model allows for the shortest profile possible when paired with 3/8″ impact sockets
  • 3 forward and 3 reverse settings
  • Full length of less than 3-7/8″ and incredibly light weight at 3lbs
  • Compact yet powerful design at 450ft/lbs

List Price: $98.00 USD
New From: $95.00 USD In Stock
buy now

How to Clean Up Oil On A Cement Driveway

I’m a gear head and am always working on a car or tractor it would seem.  Like many, I have a concrete drive way and it seems like no matter how hard I try, I get engine oil, grease, gas or whatever other crud on the cement.

I’ve seen guys post asking about how to get oil and what not out of a cement drive way and I have a simple answer – I use a degreaser called “Purple Power”.  I know it is a crazy name but it works.  I’ve been using it for probably 10 or more years and buy it by the gallon jug at Autozone.  I can’t recall who recommended to me or just when – but I’ve used it for a long time and vouch for it.

My approach is simple:

  1. If you have standing oil, pour clay cat litter or oil absorbing pellets and let it sit for a few hours to a day and then brush it up and save it to be used again.  We don’t have cats so I usually just keep a big bag of the oil absorbent stuff from Autozone and use it over and over until it gets real oily.  I just keep it in an old pail.
  2. Pour on the Purple Power full strength and let it sit 15-30 minutes.  I would recommend doing it in the morning or evening because you do not want it to dry out.
  3. Use a hose with a pressure nozzle (just something to focus the spray coming out of the hose) and rinse the stuff off.
  4. Let it dry and see how it looks.  If there is still some dark spots in the cement, you may need to do it a couple more times.  For me, it usually does the job in two passes but sometimes I need a third.

Okay, here’s a photo of my drive way after working on a car and a tractor.  The big “blotch” is a combination of gas and oil.  I changed the fuel pump on my tractor and then cleaned the engine up with brake cleaner and it went on the drive way.  The four smaller blotches to the right of the Purple Power jug are soaked in oil from working on the car.

This photo is after three passes with Purple Power and letting it sit 15-30 minutes each time.  If I had done it a fourth time it would be even brighter but I literally ran out of cleaner.  You can see the big blotch is entirely gone.  Really, just a bit is left.  At some point this weekend, I’ll run up to Autozone and get another gallon and finish the job.

If I didn’t use Purple Power, my driveway would be an absolute mess.  I go through about a gallon per year sometimes two – it just depends on what all I am working on and how often I clean up my driveway.

I hope this helps you out!


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


 

 

 

Lincoln 1162 Air Operated Grease Gun (Automotive)

Lincoln’s lubrication industrial fully automatic pneumatic grease gun is designed with a variable speed trigger that provides excellent grease flow control and the advanced pump design eliminates priming issues. It features pump ratio of 150 pounds per square inch and maximum grease pressure of 6,000 pounds per square inch. The gun’s air pressure range is 40- 150 pounds per square inch. It includes 30 inches high-pressure hose with coupler and attachment clip. This gun also features a fully automatic, variable-speed trigger with a continuous operation. It comprises of an accessible check valve assembly and the gun is designed with a superior flow performance. This gun is backed by one year warranty on material and workmanship.

Features: 

  • Designed with a variable speed trigger that provides excellent grease flow control
  • Fully automatic, variable-speed trigger with continuous operation
  • Backed by one year warranty on material and workmanship

List Price: $110.05 USD
New From: $70.14 USD In Stock
buy now

Getting Unstuck With Traction Mats

Well, I parked our full size Ford Transit van at the end of the driveway on the grass to get it out of the way.  Of course, given the recent snow melt the ground turned out to be too muddy and soft to support the van’s weight – but I didn’t notice that because it took a while to slowly sink.  Yeah, I didn’t notice anything – my wife did we she went to use it!  Oh crud.  So she called my cell phone and was none too happy.  I didn’t really worry about it because my truck could pull it out – or so I thought.

I drove to the house, cockily pulled my trusty old 96 Landcruiser up in front of the van and got out one of my big tow straps and walked up to the van.   Should have been easy, right?  Wrong.  Nothing, nada to hook on to.  Ford, in their infinite wisdom does not put a tow hook, eye or anything up near the bumper!  Crap, crap, crap.  [Note, near the bottom of this blog post I added in what I found after researching how to recover a full size Transit.  I’m still irked at Ford.]

Did I mention my wife was standing their fuming?  Yeah, she was.  I should have known better than to park the heavy full size van on soft ground.  Point taken – I didn’t realize it was that soft.

At any rate, I went back and looked at the 5″ deep rut the driver’s side rear tire had dug for itself.  By the way, these photos are after removal.

I needed something long to fill the ruts and give traction.  Luckily, back in 2010 and then in 2014 I bought these things called “traction mats” from a company called OTW Enterprises who touted them as portable tow trucks.  In 2010 I bought the black ones after getting my truck stuck on ice with the plow blade buried in a snow mound.  In 2014. I bought an orange set to put in my wife’s car in case she got stuck.  Here they are after I hosed all the mud off.

Well, they bounced around in the trunks for a while and did bail me out a couple of times over the years but were actually leaning on the outside wall of my shop.  They don’t fold and while they fit in the trunk you have the little plastic spikes catching stuff so I tool them out at some point and leaned them against the wall of the shop.  At any rate,  I walked over and they were exactly what I needed.  Each mat measures 36″ long and 8″ wide.  Since I had four, I butted on up against the front of each tire and placed a second one in front of it to help the tire get up and out of the rut.  The sides are labeled by the way – the relative few long spikes go down and the side with many spikes goes up.

I got in and rolled the the van back a bit and then forward to get up on the mats.  I then slowly gave it more gas (not much) and the van up and forward onto the mat and got out of ditch and I kept moving forward onto the pavement.  I don’t have any action photos – things were stressful at the time and I really wasn’t thinking about a blog post 🙂

Well, I was pretty pleased with the outcome.  Wreckers charge at least $65 to come out to our house so avoiding that charge is always a good thing.  My wife was relatively happy but gave me a hard time for causing the problem in the first place.

Are these mats perfect?  No.  They will fly out from under your car if you don’t go slow and make sure you have the correct side down.  Even then they sometimes do so I would never have someone stand behind the car.  My recommendation is to go slow – avoid your spinning tires and rock the vehicle onto the mat if need be – don’t spin your tires onto them.

My wife is so impressed she wants them back in the cars.  I just wish they had a carry case but I do recommend them as another tool to keep in your bag of tricks.

I hope this helps you out.


Comment about Ford and Their Oversight on Towing

By the way, I looked up the tow/winch location up for future reference  so if you are surfing the web trying to figure out how to tow a full size 2016 Ford Transit, here is the reference link at Ford – click here.

Look just behind the tires at the frame and you’ll see the eye rings that are part of the frame.  You can’t make this stuff up — Thanks Ford.  It drives me nuts when you look at decisions made in ivory engineering towers vs. real world needs.  Sure, let’s bury it under the van, make it hard to get to and pretty much ensure damage will occur if you actually use this to pull the van for whatever reason.

Now look how their factory winch attachment point lines right up with hitting the front radiator.  If you pull this at just about any angle where the recovery vehicle is higher than the van then the cable/strap is going to cut right into the aluminum radiator at the front.   In the next photo, you can see the silver aluminum radiator just above the lip of the bumper molding.

If you wanted to protect that radiator, you’d actually need a harness with something to push the attached cable lower to the ground – or fabricate another attachment method.   Maybe my 4″ drop hitch in my rear class IV receiver would be low enough to tie onto vs. my truck’s winch or front recovery hooks.  … Something for another day.  I didn’t buy a new van to have to worry about something people in rural areas need regularly in the winter.   They should have been in the front.


2/11/2018 Update:  The traction mats bailed me out again when I got the van stuck on ice in our yard while turning around.  I’ve come to realize the van does a fair job on the road but the tires are damn near useless on uneven icy surface,  With this van, it’s really handy to have four.  With only two handy, I could move the van forward and then get stuck, move the mats, move forward again, get stuck, etc.  I had to do the cycle about three times.  I think if I had all four handy it would have done the trick in one shot because I could have built up some forward momentum.  I now have all four stored together,  We’re nearing the end of Winter finally and I think I will keep all four in the van next year and need to find some kind of carrier bag to store them in.


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Portable Tire Traction Mats – Two Emergency Tire Grip Aids Used To Get Your Car, Truck, Van or Fleet Vehicle Unstuck In Snow, Ice, Mud, And Sand – Orange, 2 Pack

“Portable Tow Truck’s emergency traction pad provides you with the way out of messy situations. Getting stuck in mud or snow on the side of the road is a common roadside emergency. You could could call for a tow truck to pull your vehicle out, which can be expensive, or install tire chains when you’re stuck, which is messy and dangerous.

There is an alternative. The Portable Tow Truck tire traction aid provides emergency traction to your drive wheels and allows you to get back on the road. The innovative cleat design bites into your tire and allows your drive wheels to climb the mat instead of spinning in snow. No more digging and pushing and rocking back and forth. Simply wedge the Portable Tow Truck under the pulling wheel and slowly drive the vehicle to a more suitable surface . At only 2.5 pounds and 36 inches long, the Portable Tow Truck is easy to handle and consumes very little trunk space. Buy this Portable Tow Truck and a future version of yourself, stuck in the snow or mud, will be thankful you did.”


Features: 

  • Provides emergency traction for your tires in snow, ice, mud and sand. Works on all vehicles with summer, winter, or all-season tires.
  • Comes with 2 reusable polypropylene solid and virtually indestructible traction mats.
  • No installation required, making it hassle free, easier and safer to use than tire chains and snow chains.
  • Each only 2.5 pounds and 36 inches long, allowing easy storage in your trunk or under your seat.
  • Avoid the stress of shoveling, slipping and sliding, being stranded, or calling for a tow truck in emergency situations.

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