Tag Archives: truck

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.


See larger image

Additional Images:Img - B0046CZKIA
Img - B0046CZKIA
Img - B0046CZKIA
Img - B0046CZKIA
Img - B0046CZKIA
Img - B0046CZKIA

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.

List Price: $59.99 USD
New From: $59.99 USD In Stock
buy now

Have an older car or truck with slow power windows? This simple fix will speed them up

My truck is a 1996 Toyota Landcruiser that is showing its age and I’m always finding ways to keep it going.  One problem I had was that the power windows were very slow to go up and down because the rubber around the glass was oxidizing and not as soft.  This was especially a problem in the winter when plowing as I would sometimes have to use my hand to help the window go back up.  I had been using silicone spray but it’s benefits were pretty short lived.  A friend told me to use silicone grease and WOW what a difference.

  

Now, one tip, get a flux brush or some disposable brush with relative small stiff bristles so you can wipe down all the rubber window channels where the glass slides.  Your brush is going to get old rubber and other debris on it.  If you put it back in your silcone grease container, you will have a mess – guess how I know this? 🙂  Instead, put some grease on a paper plate or something as an intermediary to dip your brush in.  This will not take much – maybe a tablespoon or two at most.  I can do all four power windows on my truck with probably right around a tablespoon or just over.  You aren’t looking to leave gobs and gobs of the stuff – just a good coating.

So, a warm day helps.  Put all the windows down and apply it.  Then run each window up and down a few times to get a good coating on everything.  You will see a remarkable improvement with the 2nd or 3rd cycling of the windows as everything gets coated.  Then just wipe off any residue on the window frames (I leave it on the glass edge myself).

That’s it.

Please note to use silicone grease and not petroleum grease. The petroleum grease can cause the rubber to break down or at least make quite a mess.  Silicone grease was designed intentionally to lubricate and protect rubber parts such as seals.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements. EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed. Doing so will help us fund continued development of the blog.


By the way, this might be an example of being able to save quite a bit by purchasing the silicone grease online.  You can check the price of the Mission paste I’ve been using below and others on Amazon compared to what you will pay for silicone grease at your local auto parts store.


See larger image

Additional Images:Img - B016E5E59G
Img - B016E5E59G
Img - B016E5E59G

Mission Automotive Dielectric Grease/Silicone Paste/Waterproof Marine Grease (8 Oz.) – Excellent Silicone Grease (Kitchen)

The highest quality dielectric grease available, our silicone-based compound meets or exceeds the standards of other similar products from a variety of competitors (based on in-house testing). Stable consistency from -55 to 570 F, chemical resistant with extremely low volatility. With a variety of auto uses, this is an essential grease to have when doing work on your car. For general purposes, the grease is excellent for lubricating the threads of bolts / screws that thread into plastic. It can be used to lubricate O-rings, rubber hoses, weather-stripping, rubber chassis, steering bushings, rubber grommets, rubber and plastic hole plugs, seat tracks, window tracks and window regulators. Useful for eliminating squeaks in instrument panels caused by plastic-to-plastic contact. Cover battery terminals with the paste to protect them from corrosion. Use to seal electrical connections from moisture / corrosion on vehicles without weather protective connectors. Use to lubricate tight fitting plastic / rubber parts during re-assembly. For engines, it can be used on ignition parts, distributor cam lobes, spark plug wire terminals, distributor cap terminals, distributor rotor tips, heat-sink membranes. For bulb bases, including tail lights, turn lights, marker lights, stop lights, convenience lights, and trailer lights. For brakes, our synthetic brake caliper grease / brake grease serves as a general purpose lubricant for metal-to-rubber applications, caliper guide pins, outer caliper seals, and outer wheel cylinder seals. Useful in the marine environment as a marine silicone grease / marine dielectric grease (as a waterproof grease) with waterproof connectors / marine terminal grease. For many applications, it’s a great alternative to silicone spray lubricant. Meets MIL-S-8660C specifications. NSF H-1 Registered (No. 122830) and KOSHER Approved. PLEASE NOTE: The applicator brush is pre-bent. When quality matters, choose Mission Automotive Silicone Paste!

Features: 

  • SEALS AND PROTECTS: Our dielectric grease is a thick, long lasting waterproof synthetic silicone lubricant (lube) that prevents oxidation, inhibits corrosion & seals out contaminants such as salt & dirt; non-melting, stable consistency from -55-570 F
  • MULTITUDE OF USES: Silicone paste / silicone grease is perfect for a variety of automotive, electrical and marine uses and compatible with a variety of materials, including metal, rubber and plastic; prevents voltage leaks around electrical connections
  • GREAT FOR MANY COMMON TASKS: Most common uses of marine grease including changing spark plugs, lubricating brake caliper pins, lubricating and preserving rubber gaskets, O-rings, hoses, weatherstripping, etc., and fixing sluggish car windows
  • APPLICATOR BRUSH FOR EASE OF APPLICATION: Applicator brush attached inside lid at an angle; product will be clear/transparent/translucent to slightly milky-white. PLEASE NOTE: Applicator brush intentionally bent to maximize reach to jar edges
  • TOP QUALITY: Produced to the highest industry standards

List Price: $17.99 USD
New From: $17.99 USD In Stock
buy now

How to read engine codes with your smart phone – welcome to the new age

Guys, I remember tuning a car by ear with a timing light, vacuum gauge, feeling things out literally with my hands and so forth.  Boy has the world changed.  As the vehicles got smarter and smarter, someone decided to add On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) in the early 1980s first with the idiot “check engine” light and then it got more and more involved.  Modern cars and trucks in the US have an OBD II jack where you can plug in, read and clear fault codes, access real-time information and so forth.

Back in 2013 I saved my pennies and finally bought my own Autel Autolink Scanner for $102.  Wow – I thought was so cool.  I used it whenever fault codes popped up to figure out what it was but I had to lug the thing around and it wasn’t something you could readily update, etc.

A friend of mine came over about a year back to check on one of our cars.  He pulled a little black rectangle out of his jacket, plugged it into the car and then started looking at his phone.  I asked him what he was doing and he showed me that he was accessing the codes.  I was floored.

In June 2016, I decided to go the phone route to have a current scanner and a better interface.  After digging, I bought a BAFX Products 34t5 Bluetooth OBDII adapter for Android phones (about $22)  and I got the Torque software for my Samsung Note Android phone off the Google Play store for free.  What a difference.  The BAFX adapter was easy to carry around, I could customize the gauges I was looking at, and so forth.  For me this combo rocks.  It does all I need.  I really like it being cordless – you can walk around and so forth and still see the data.

By the way, installation is simple.  You follow the instructions to pair the scanner to your phone just like you would any other Bluetooth Device.  I downloaded Torque from the Google Play store on my phone in a matter of minutes and it is pretty much good to go.  You can create profiles for different vehicles in the software, change gauges you want to watch, their style, how they are grouped and so forth.

The following are screenshots from my phone plus you can see the little adapter that is a bit smaller than a cigarette box.

   

For example, my 2002 Camry’s check engine light is on and I could use the BAFX adapter and Torque to find out what the code was and then search using Google to decide what to do:

   

I really like the combination and recommend them.  In general, I am amazed by all the functionality that is showing up where the smart phone provides the brain and display thus dropping costs dramatically.  My recent GiraffeCam endoscope is another example.

By the way, I am so happy with this combination of BAFX scanner and Torque software that I sold my Autel scanner on eBay.


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 - B005NLQAHS
Img - B005NLQAHS
Img - B005NLQAHS
Img - B005NLQAHS
Img - B005NLQAHS

BAFX Products Bluetooth Diagnostic OBDII Reader/Scanner for Android Devices (Automotive)

BEWARE OF IMITATORS! The BAFX Products® Scan Tool works on ALL vehicles located in the USA that are model year 1996 or newer! We GUARANTEE IT! Many tools CLAIM to work on all vehicles but have problems with the J1850 & CAN protocols. Ours doesn’t. Ours works on ALL protocols AND we actually mean it! People try the cheaper ones but then buy ours, because ours works. The BAFX Products® adapter will: Last longer, have more stable connections, give faster data rates & work smoother on ALL vehicles compared to our competitors. We also provide TOP NOTCH support. Have a question? Problem? Let us know, we WILL answer or fix the problem. NOT COMPATIBLE WITH iOS DEVICES! To use the OBD reader you will need to install a 3rd party app from the Android Store or online. Apps range in price from $0 – $5 with specialty apps costing up to $60. PC programs range from $0 – $50. Contact BAFX Products® for a list of apps When used with proper software, you can: •Read OBDII Check Engine Light Codes •Reset the CEL •Pull MANY other sensor readings •Graph sensor readings •PREPARE FOR EMISSIONS TESTING •And SO much more! •2 (Yes, TWO!) Year Warranty!* Problems beyond 2 years? Still, contact us! Examples of sensor readings: O2 Readings, EOT, EGT, Throttle, Boost, Speed, Fuel Trim, DPF Temp, Balance Rates & MUCH more! *NOTE! Not all vehicles support reading of ALL sensors. Readings supported depend on what’s installed on the OBDII system by the manufacturer. Generally, newer vehicles will give more readings. IF NOT LOCATED IN THE USA: CONTACT US before ordering to ensure it will work in your country! We ONLY guarantee it will work on vehicles located in certain countries! *Warranty ONLY valid if purchased from BAFX Products or authorized dealer

Features: 

  • OUR GUARANTEE – We promise our OBDII reader to work on ALL vehicles purchased in the USA model year 1996 or newer! Unlike so many other cheaper OBD II readers that say they will work on vehicles using J1850 or CAN protocols, but don’t, ours WILL work on these & we PROMISE that! Whether your vehicle is gas, diesel or hybrid, new or old, our OBD reader will work with it. Many people buy cheap first but always end up buying ours, because ours works!
  • WARRANTY – 2 YEAR WARRANTY (YES, 2!) – Covers manufacturing defects from date of purchase. A simple & hassle-free warranty process with USA based support will leave your mind at ease so you can focus on your cars maintenance and health!
  • MONITOR & ANALYZER – The BAFX Products OBD Scanner is a must have tool for your car. With it you can read & clear your Check Engine Light (CEL) & check your vehicle monitors such as O2 Sensors, Fuel Trim, Air Fuel Ratio, DPF Temp, Coolant Temp, Oil Temp, Fuel Pressure & so much more! Professional level diagnostics at a truly reasonable price.
  • APPS & CAR BRANDS – You will need to use a 3rd party app with our scan tool. There are many apps available ranging in price from $0-$40 such as: Torque, Dash Command, Carista, Scan Master, Piston & more! Contact BAFX for a complete list. Regardless of your brand of vehicle our OBD reader will work! Chevy, Ford, BMW, Lexus, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Honda, Mercedes, GM, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep & more, all covered!
  • IMPORTANT – You must have an Android or Windows based device to use our Bluetooth OBD2 reader. Our OBD reader CANNOT be used with iOS devices such as iPhones and the like. For iPhones & iPads, please look at our WiFi version! Also, this device will NOT read AirBag, ABS, TPMS or Oil Change lights. Our diagnostics tool will only read codes for the Check Engine Light.

List Price: $29.99 USD
New From: $22.49 USD In Stock
buy now