Car maintenance made easy with simple tips from “Top Gear USA” host Rutledge Wood

Everyone knows car maintenance is important, but if you’re not a gear head – someone who loves working on vehicles – the idea of doing routine car maintenance can be very intimidating.

Whether on the set of “Top Gear,” at NASCAR races or just in my garage at home, I’m fortunate enough to be around cars a lot. I love driving them, repairing them and tinkering with them. However, for a lot of people, cars can be a confusing and even intimidating piece of machinery to work on.

To help people feel more comfortable in maintaining their vehicles, here are some simple tips that can make anyone feel like a gear head.

Change your oil

While many don’t find the prospect of being under a car messing with greasy filters their idea of a fun Sunday afternoon, changing a car’s oil isn’t as daunting a task as it seems.

1. Make sure your engine is cool before you start, then safely jack up your car and support it with jack stands. Lay a piece of cardboard under the engine, just in case you spill any oil.

2. Position a recycling container under the oil pan that’s on the bottom of your engine, then undo the drain plug and let the old oil pour into it. When the old oil’s out, put the drain plug back on and tighten it to your car’s torque specification.

3. Next, remove your old oil filter using an oil filter wrench; turn the filter counterclockwise until it’s free, but watch out you don’t spill the old oil that’s still in it. Make sure the rubber gasket comes out with the old filter.

4. Then, taking your new oil filter, lubricate the rubber gasket with some new oil and fill the new oil filter with oil to about two-thirds full.

5. Carefully screw the new oil filter clockwise into place (holding it upright); tighten only as much as you can with one hand, don’t overdo it or else it can cause a leak.

6. Now it’s time to fill the engine with oil, so unscrew the oil fill cap on the topside of the engine and insert your funnel. It’s smart to check your owner’s manual to find out how much oil your engine holds if you’re unsure, then pour a little more than three-fourths that amount into the engine.

7. Finally, start your vehicle and let it run for about a minute. During that minute, take a peek underneath to make sure you don’t have any leaks. After a minute, turn off you vehicle and check the oil level on the dipstick, adding more if necessary.

I use and recommend Valvoline NextGen Oil. It works great, and since it’s made with 50 percent recycled oil, it’s good for the environment as well. To sweeten the deal, they’ve even come out with a Close the Loop program where they’ll give you a $20 mail-in offer if you return your used oil at participating auto parts stores and buy five quarts of NextGen for your next oil change.

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RIM launches the Challenge Council Project with a little help from the BlackBerry Bold 9900

Although it’s still a staple of the business world, the BlackBerry has fallen pretty far behind the iPhone and Android devices with most other consumers, prompting the team at RIM to demonstrate that they’re not as far out of touch as it might seem. Enter the Challenge Council Project, a new campaign led by Amir Blumenfeld and Streeter Seidell of College Humor (along with a mix of celebrities, bloggers and BlackBerry lovers across the country) with one mission in mind: to turn misconceptions on their ear and prove that the BlackBerry brand has the goods to make believers out of everyone.

For the next three months, Streeter and Amir will be presenting a series of funny videos designed to highlight a core feature of the latest BlackBerry smartphones. In addition to cameos by special guests like Dax Shepard and LMFAO’s Sky Blue, each webisode will also feature a challenge designed to let the online community experience what the new BlackBerry line-up is capable of. Participants can upload their content entries to the site where the Challenge Council will determine the winners, with prizes ranging from event tickets to cool trips for you and your friends. The first challenge is already underway and will be accepting submissions until April 18th, so be sure to visit the official Challenge Council Project website on the following dates for details on the remaining challenges.

Challenge 2: 04/26/2012
Challenge 3: 05/10/2012
Challenge 4: 05/24/2012
Challenge 5: 06/07/2012

We were sent the new BlackBerry Bold 9900 to check out some of the latest features that RIM has implemented, but despite some noteworthy improvements – including the BBM Music app, a faster processor and one of the better physical keyboards on the smartphone market – unless you were a BlackBerry user before, chances are pretty slim that the Bold 9900 will change your mind. Though I did like how easy it was to navigate through the system menus using the ultra-responsive trackpad, it only made the touchscreen display seem that much more useless. At a size of only 2.8 inches, browsing websites is practically futile, while those with fat fingers are likely to run into some trouble pressing the intended icon.

With that said, however, RIM shouldn’t be too concerned about competing with the likes of Apple and Android, because although the Bold 9900 lacks a large screen, a decent web browser and a comparable app store (among other things), it’s still a great tool for businessmen who just want a reliable email/messaging device without all the fuss. That may not sound like a glowing endorsement, but as a longtime iPhone user, it’s hard to see any advantage to using a BlackBerry when it’s so limited by what it can do.

Nevertheless, we know that there are a lot of BlackBerry fans out there who swear by the device, which is why Bullz-Eye is giving one lucky reader their very own BlackBerry Bold 9900 so that you can experience some of these new features for yourself and partake in the Challenge Community Project. Click here to enter for your chance to win. The contest ends on May 9th and the winner will be notified via email.

NOTE: We received this BlackBerry 9900 from Research In Motion, but the opinion is 100% our own.


Celebrate Father’s Day with a Contest from Ram Truck

With Father’s Day just around the corner, the guys over at Ram Truck have put together a cool prize pack in appreciation of all the great dads out there, comprised of a Margaritaville Tailgate Propane Grill perfect for the upcoming (hopefully) NFL season and a $100 gift card to Omaha Steaks to get you started. Three runners-up will also receive a $50 Gander Mountain gift card, so there’s plenty opportunities to win. All you need to do to enter is head over to the official Ram Zone website and submit a picture link of you and your dad (along with your Ram truck, of course) in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Hurry, because the contest ends on June 19th.


Live chat tomorrow with Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes

The AMP Energy/WEC Hometown Takedown (WEC: Henderson vs. Pettis) is almost here – and AMP Energy is back with another opportunity to give MMA fans exclusive, unprecedented access to the sport and its best fighters.

AMP Energy is inviting fans to a live chat with superstar fighters Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes hosted by PRO MMA Radio host Larry Pepe on AMP Energy’s USTREAM tomorrow, December 14th at 9 p.m. EST.

Faber and Mendes will field questions from fans about the AMP Energy Hometown Takedown at Arena, which is the final WEC card ever, as the organization announced last month that it will be merging with the Ultimate Fighting Championship® in 2011. The event is headlined by a fierce matchup between WEC lightweight champion Ben Henderson and Anthony Pettis. Check out Bullz-Eye’s recent interview with Anthony Pettis.

The chat is just another example of AMP Energy providing fans access to fans that no other sponsor has provided in any other sport. To get fans pumped for the upcoming fight, AMP Energy partnered with earlier this month and gave two fans the chance to have the ultimate experience at WEC Henderson vs. Pettis with the “Best Seat in the House” contest and the “Walk Out With a Fighter” contest, featuring Pettis.

Winners of both contests also received a trip for two to Phoenix, two tickets to the fight, and a dinner with Faber.

This summer, WEC and AMP Energy teamed up for the Hometown Takedown contest, which gave fans the chance to vote and bring a WEC event to their area. Phoenix was announced as the fan’s choice for the December 16 fight.

Here’s a video shout out from Urijah Faber inviting Bullz-Eye readers to join the chat tomorrow night. See you there!


WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis Preview

Fans of World Extreme Cagefighting had their say and now an event of epic proportions on the MMA scale is heading to Phoenix as part of AMP Energy’s “Hometown Takedown” promotion. The promotion allowed fans to vote on which city would be awarded with a WEC event and the winner was Phoenix, which will host WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis from the Arena.

The fight card is stacked from top to bottom with the main attraction being two championship bouts, headlined by the WEC Lightweight Championship fight between champion Ben Henderson and challenger Anthony Pettis. Henderson (12-1) is looking to defend his belt for the second time as he is coming off a first round submission win over Donald Cerrone at WEC 48. Henderson has won his last 10 fights, seven of which came by submission. Pettis (12-1) is contending for the title for the first time in his career after winning three straight, including a third-round submission win over grappling specialist Shane Roller at WEC 50. Pettis is a unique striker that mixes a variety of punches, kicks and knees, and is always entertaining to watch.

In the other championship bout, WEC Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will defend his title against top contender Scott Jorgensen. Cruz (16-1) is defending his title for the second time after winning a unanimous decision over Joseph Benavidez at WEC 50. Cruz is a winner of seven straight as his speed and mobility have been difficult for opponents to deal with. Jorgensen (11-3) is contending for the title for the first time. He is a winner of five straight fights, which earned him a shot at Cruz. Jorgensen is a compact fighter that has good striking but even better wrestling ability. He will look to ground Cruz to take away his mobility.

One lucky MMA fan will have the opportunity to witness this marquee event live and in person as AMP Energy is providing two tickets and free airfare to the show as part of the AMP Energy Hometown Takedown giveaway. The lucky winner will also walk out to the cage with Anthony Pettis as he prepares to challenge Henderson for the WEC Lightweight title and have dinner with fellow MMA fighter Urijah Faber. Even better? Pettis is going to announce the winner of the contest live, on-air during WEC: Faber vs. Mizugaki on Versus, November 11.

Head on over to the official contest page to find out how to enter, and then be sure to tune in to WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis on Versus on December 16th!