Beyond the Oil Change

The oil and filter change is the backbone of automotive maintenance. Everywhere you look, this seems to be the lone ingredient to keep your car on the road. But beyond the items that your local oil change shop advertises, there are items that are just as crucial to check and change as your car gets older. In fact, ignoring these items is just as bad as not changing your oil at all.


“Don’t Know What You Got Till It’s Gone,” helps explain the importance of headlights and how little attention we pay to them when they work. Sylvania recently took Bullz-Eye out to New Hampshire to explain that headlights can go bad before they necessarily go out. Even though they might not go out, a headlight loses about 20 feet of light distance every year. If you have HID headlights, these usually change to a shade of purple before going out.

Although headlights last about 3 years, you should check or replace them in about half that time. When it comes to replacement, they are probably the most DIY friendly replacement item on this list. Sylvania even offers a guide on their website to help you install the bulbs correctly, plus tips and tricks to ensure lasting performance. You can also take the chance to upgrade your lights with better bulbs, such as with Sylvania Silverstars. These lights offer HID quality lighting for halogen applications. Don’t be driving in the dark by checking and changing your light bulbs before they go out.

O2 sensors

The O2 sensor measures the oxygen from your car’s exhaust to make sure the engine’s computer is supplying the right amount of fuel for the engine. However, when the O2 sensor stops working, havoc occurs with how the engine performs. The mixture of air and gas runs wild. This can affect your mileage, your engine’s lifespan, and the emissions it spews.

That’s why you should pay special attention to your O2 sensor’s lifespan. They don’t need replacing often, usually 30,000-50,000 miles, but once you hit the end of its lifecycle, fixing it could save you many costs down the road.

Fuel Filters

Repair shops will often tell you to replace air filters with due diligence, but they usually don’t advertise the other big filter in the car, the fuel filter. The fuel filter is crucial in keeping debris in the gas from getting into the engine. When it gets clogged, fuel may stop getting in to the engine, or dirt enters the motor.

Fuel filters usually last 50,000 miles, but do vary between cars. Some are easy to change yourself, others not so much. Try to find a guide online guide about your specific car, or get it changed at a repair shop. Changing your fuel filter is necessary in ensuring fuel mileage and keeping your engine and fuel system clean.

Timing Belts

The timing belt in most engines keeps the engine from destroying itself from the inside out. Without the timing belt, the pistons punch a large hole in the top of the cylinders. With a timing belt, they are pulled back right before contact is made. Because of their importance, timing belts last a long time, usually around 100,000 miles.

However, it is vital to check your timing belt every so often for cracks and stretch marks. If your car has reached 100,000 miles, or is past it and never had the belt changed, you should probably look into making an appointment with your mechanic. It is a little bit pricey to get your timing belt changed, but not nearly as much as getting your engine replaced.

Timing belts, fuel filters, 02 sensors, and headlights are the unsung heroes in car maintenance. They don’t need changing or checking very often, but if ignored will hurt your car and your wallet in some big ways.


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Over the Wall: The Job and Workout Regime of a NASCAR Pit Crew Member

New Hampshire is quite an idyllic place in the fall, full of trees with changing leaves, mild weather, and sleepy small towns; until the baritone crackle of NASCAR V8’s roll into town that is.

Twice a year, the NASCAR circus comes to New Hampshire to race at the Sylvania 300. However, unlike most other tracks, New Hampshire Motor Speedway special is the fact that is a 1-mile oval. Because of this, the racing action is condensed as opposed to the larger tracks like Talladega. Imagine putting 50 angry bears into one boxing ring, and letting them loose, that is what NASCAR racing on a short oval looks and sounds like. While here as guests of Sylvania, had the opportunity to find out the type of physical dexterity needed to be on a racing team as well.

Many people might think NASCAR and fitness should not be in the same sentence. Images of beer bellies and Cheetos fill their heads as they think of some man named Bubba screaming himself to near cardiac arrest for his favorite driver. However, that belief isn’t true.

Behind the scenes of every NASCAR team, there is a group of dedicated individuals that work on and off the track to achieve a race win. These individuals are the pit crewmembers. I spoke to TJ Fleming, front tire carrier of the Menards 88 truck in the Camping World Truck Series, on just how a pit crew member prepares for his job.

For those unfamiliar with racing, think of a pit crew like an offensive line, and the driver as the quarterback. Although the quarterback shoulders pressure from the media and responsibility for executing plays, it’s his offensive line that protects him so he can be effective. Just ask Jay Cutler of the Bears on how important a functioning offensive line is.

A pit crew does the same job. The driver goes out and collects the attention and race wins, but without his crewmembers, he would never have a chance to reach the podium. A pit crew keeps their driver competitive by completing a driver’s pit stops. During a pit stop, tires are changed, gas is refueled, and a car may be slightly repaired (usually with the delicate tools of hammers and duct tape). The faster a driver can get in and out of the pits, the greater his chances of winning. To get out fast, a pit crewmember must be well trained and in good shape.

Changing a tire may not seem like an activity to train for, but you probably have never had to change a tire in less than 30 seconds in front of a screaming crowd with a race win on the line. Not to mention, these tires way anywhere from 45-75 lbs. each that need to be lifted and fitted in a moments notice after sitting on the wall waiting for a driver to pit. Like an offensive linemen, you need to immediately and quickly spring into action to get the job done.

The person I spoke to about the importance of fitness for a crewmember was T.J. Fleming. T.J. and his teammates are responsible for keeping Matt Crafton’s truck competitive on the track in the Camping World Racing Series. Instead of cars, the Camping World Race Series features pickup trucks hauling ass on the racetrack that you would normally find at Home Depot hauling lumber.

Unlike NASCAR pit crews, whose teams have more money and resources, he and his crew pull double duty both working on the truck at the shop, and themselves in the gym. Since his job requires double duty, his workout regime focuses on all around strength. If you want to stay in shape like a crewmember, focus on these lifts:
• Squats
• Romanian Deadlifts
• Core Training
His exercise regime focuses around functionality, not necessarily what makes you look like a greased Guido.

Off the cameras, and out of the spotlight, is where pit crewmembers do their jobs. Pumping gas and changing tires is easy during a daily commute, but doing it quickly and effectively in a racing setting takes and hours of preparations. Without their help, the wins won’t come for the driver and neither will the spotlight or attention. Just like without an offensive line, your quarterback is just an expensive smear on the football field.