Sergey Petrov – Russian Billionaire, Automotive Oligarch and Prisoner of the KGB in this year

I recently had the opportunity to interview Sergey Petrov, Deputy of the State Duma, and member of the “Spravedlivaya Rossiya” (A Just Russia) political party, member of the Russian Budget and Taxes State Duma Committee and the founder of the ROLF Group, the first diversified automotive business in Russia.

Sergey Petrov is an exception to the rule: a Russian billionaire who built his business from nothing as opposed to benefiting from the privatisations in the early 1990’s. An independent straight talker, with a remarkable personal history; he reflects the changes and turbulent times of post and pre Soviet – Russia.

He is a pragmatic and passionate about his country and a vociferous critic of the status quo in Russian politics; and of Russia’s leaders.

Graduating from school in 1971 he entered the Higher Military Aviation School in Orenburg, southern Russia. In 1975 he was commissioned and qualified as a pilot in the elite Soviet Strategic Air Force. Flying Tupolev Tu-16 BADGER aircraft, a twin- engine, strategic nuclear bomber, he often challenged NATO skies.

“I remember these days, flying the big planes and making the (NATO) fighters accompany us” recalled Sergey.

Retraining on fighter aircraft he became an Instructor, won the Soviet TOP GUN at Fighter School, Orenburg and looked set for a meteoric military career as he made Major at 26, a decade earlier than most of his peers. And, like a meteor, his career in the military crashed.

He recalled “It was in 1982 when I finished my military career as I fought against the KGB and the Communist Party.”

Whilst it became possible to challenge authority in the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s the earlier era of Brezhnev and Andropov (1964 to 1985) were a different case entirely. Soviet justice was swift and severe. Andropov, the former KGB leader who led the Soviet Union between 1982 and 1985, was a hard liner whom played a key role in crushing the Hungarian Revolution in 1956; the ring leaders were arrested and executed.

In 1982, if you were not part of the ‘system’, it was an intimidating environment.

“The KGB had been watching us and decided to bring us into custody. Not only me, but 12 colleagues as well, living in different cities as we had now scattered across the Soviet Union”.

Sergey Petrov had started his protest against the ruling Communist Party at the age of 21 and had tried to influence his colleagues and students highlighting the injustice of the system.

“I had many targets and goals. I had to teach the students to fly the aircraft, to hit the targets and to indoctrinate them with Soviet propaganda. No one asked me to fight against the Soviet system. It was not in my job description. It was why they decided to kick me out.”

By 1982 his war of ‘propaganda’ had been noticed and he was dismissed from the Soviet Army and expelled from The Communist Party of the Soviet Union for anti-Soviet propaganda and participation in secret democratic organizations.

Unable to find work in Orenburg, Petrov along with his wife and baby, made their way to Moscow. Petrov’s anti- Soviet activities precluded him from working for any elite organisations like the military, security or diplomatic corps.

Between 1982 and 1989 he worked for the Mosinzhstroy, the Moscow construction company and studied at the Soviet Trade Institute. He graduated in 1987.

“When the market economy became a reality I decided to stop working for nothing and to open my own company. But first, as I had nothing I decided to acquire experience. I got a job in a joint venture with Rosek for a small period of time, maybe a year and a half and gained experience”.

In 1991, as the Soviet Union fell apart, Petrov joined thousands of Russians at the barricades around Bely Dom, the Russian White House, resisting the attempted coup d’état by Soviet hardliners loyal to the crumbling regime.

“On the day of the Coup I spent the night in the crowd outside the White House. It was my dream. I was dedicated to the democratic process, democratic rules and future”.

The coup attempt failed and led to the annulment of the 1922 union treaty that established the Soviet Union, led to the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the beginning of radical Russian economic reforms. The new reality for its citizens was a fight for survival in the new Russia.

“We were in an awful environment in the 1990’s but we had hope. Every year it was getting better and better.”

Sergey Petrov’s first foray into his own business was with a car rental business.

“I decided to set up my own company “Rolf”. The Company was registered on the 5th August 1991 but we had already been working in that year. A successful business, especially if you consider the unfriendly environment we had in Russia. In the beginning we worked for foreign companies. When we expanded into the home market, we immediately lost a lot of cars. People rented the cars and went to Kavkaz (to export them).”

He laughed as he recalled the situation.

“No one could find the cars. The people renting them had a good business!”

The business, sold off by MBO, still flourishes today.

Sergey moved into the automotive retail sector.

“Mitsubishi created a tender for its first car dealership in Russia. We participated and we won. We started the business and we were very successful. We had a very ‘soft’ approach with Mitsubishi, asking them to teach us. We were not arrogant, unlike the other participants in the tender process, who tried to teach the Japanese how to sell cars.

I remember the Japanese, in charge of the tender, losing his cool with the other participants. Leaning forward, he banged his hand on the table.

“Thank you very much! We shall not work with you”.

It was a very successful day for us”.

In 1992 ROLF started sales of Mitsubishi new cars, managing to sell 192 that year.

In 1994 the company opened the first purpose built Mitsubishi show room in Moscow.

When asked about his choice of industry and his thoughts that the automotive sector in the 1990’s being heavily criminalised with gangsters and oligarchs a like carving out chunks of cash and areas to control he says “The industry was like a toy for an oligarch. We had absolutely different aspirations. They only had the target of earning money and gaining political power. We were focused on how to build a nice Company, a great Company. We had the dream to build our company to be like the best companies in the world.

Sergey Petrov built his business around core values of openness, honesty and transparency which will have presented more than a few challenges in an environment renowned for its opaqueness. His goal was to recruit people who believed in his vision.

By 1999 ROLF was the largest foreign car importer in Russia, with revenues of $100 million, a not insignificant figure for a start up business only 9 years old.

In 2000 Sergey Petrov enlisted Matt Donnelley, the charismatic business leader,promoted him Chief Executive in 2004 and took the post of “Honorary President” himself. Thus began the second Epoch, the ‘Donnelley years’. The success of the new management team from 2000 was reflected in the position Rolf continued to enjoy its dominant position as the premier importer and distributor of foreign cars in Russia.

“You recruit people who bring efficiency in the long run, if they share your core values then they can run the business without making any big mistakes and you don’t have to keep telling them what to do”.

In 2001 Rolf opened its first non Mitsubishi Dealerships as the company started sales of Audi and Ford cars. In 2006 as ‘Best Brand in Russia’ it sold approximately 124,000 cars with 155,000 cars the following year. The ROLF machine, by now the 5th largest in Europe by new car sales, seemed unstoppable. In 2007 the Avtomir organisation, ROLF’s closest Russian rival, managed to achieve less than half of ROLF’s sales. In September 2008, Rolf Import had landed 15,000 Mitsubishi cars for the Russian market through Kotka and St Petersburg.

Halcyon days, indeed.

However, changes were in the offing and the entrepreneurial flair went from the business as both Sergey Petrov and Matt Donnelley exited the business. Sergey was nominated to the Duma in December 2007. Matt Donnelley had overseen Rolf’s stratospheric growth and had been instrumental in taking Rolf from a $100 million turnover to over $ 5 billion in 7 years.

Sergey recalled “I had completely left the business at that point. I was elected to parliament and tried to change the whole environment. I tried to help. It did not make sense to make another billion if the powers that be can take away the first one. I decided to spend my time and energy to improve Russia’s business environment.

In 10-years we built a good company but discovered it is impossible to build the world’s greatest company in this country. It is not a business friendly state… all the officials are dedicated to history. We, the people, need to fall down a few times and learn lessons that we should be more concerned about ourselves, our family and friends and co-fellows… than being a super power. It needs to be overcome and will take two generations”.

The end of the second Epoch ushered in a new ROLF.

Sergey Petrov recalled Nick Hawkins, the new ROLF CEO 2007 to 2010, asking when ROLF was strongest. Sergey’s response “between 2004 and 2007.”

This period saw ROLF revenues double in size year on year, a colossal achievement with remarkable profits, and the envy of similar groups worldwide.

“The best years for Rolf were after I handed over to Matt Donnelley as Chief Executive. Matt compensated for my imperfections. He contributed his professionalism, made sure the company remained focused on our core values and gave us our greatest mutual success”

A privately owned company, with one single-minded shareholder and a very strong CEO, reflects both the character and personalities of those business owners. The abrupt removal of these characters from ROLF and the knock-on changes in leadership led to an emergence of a different company with a changed ethos; and an end to the runaway success of previous years.

“The Company started to deteriorate after 2007. Even before the crisis, the Company was not so strong.”

The 3rd Epoch saw a changed and expanded management team, hungry to benefit from big bonuses and the success of Russia’s accomplished automotive group. Ultimately the evolution was ephemeral, expensive and doomed as it ran head long off the cliff in 2008.

Welcome to the global financial crisis.

In Petrov’s words “ROLF became more and more bureaucratic and more and more inefficient… and not flexible enough to face the future”.

One can sympathise with him as he underwrote the largesse with over $300 million losses. The ROLF pendulum swung far, in a relatively short space of time and the cash burn was prodigious.

The management team went into crisis mode: free hold sales and lease backs, the cancellation of all new projects and scale backs on others, a fire sale of stock (new vehicles were sold for less than the wholesale prices leading to one European manufacturer recalling an entire model range from the Russian market).

A desperate grab for business began across all the business sectors. Belatedly, business unit managers recognised the scale and severity of the crisis. The actions were too little and too late as other, more agile businesses, took available contracts and more direct measures of cost reduction.

Sergey Petrov returned in 2010, leading to a mass exodus of top management, and heralding ROLF’s rapid resurgence. The business had survived the greatest financial crisis since the 1930’s; but at a cost, as Petrov sold 40% of his company to the Mitsubishi Corporation.

ROLF is a different company now to the one that entered the global crisis in 2008. The management team has changed and again, led by its founder. The ethos is now on efficiency and rebuilding profit whilst focusing on the car retail sector. None core businesses may spun-off. The market is changing as IPO’s will see a swathe of mega-groups retailing cars in the Russian market.

Sergey Petrov, “receiving purchase offers every other day” has no intention of following suit and intends to remain the owner of a “family business” albeit a large one. Rolf has been, since its inception, one of leading companies in the Russian automobile market. Now it is the official dealer of 13 brands, with 30 Moscow and Saint Petersburg dealership centers and remains one of the largest automotive concerns in Russia.

“We will be chasing efficiency as government will put more burdens on business.30% social taxes are high so we have to become the most efficient”

What was the pivot moment?

“It was not my decision that changed my life but the KGB’s; when they arrested and kicked me out of the Air Force. I couldn’t find a job in the city where I lived so I had to leave Orenburg and go to Moscow with my wife and 1-year old son. I think that changed my life, drastically.

I could not do anything except fly my fighter jet and I thought that this was a big problem. But, I was young and it allowed me a restart. I lost 7-years but I retrained and I graduated from Moscow University. All the diplomatic and military careers were closed to me. The KGB watched me and accompanied me everywhere’.

What are you most proud of?

“I think it is the people around me. Like Tatiana (Lukovetskaya) and others. We brought up a lot of people who are working now in different companies but they absorbed some of our core values. The most profitable business is the most honest business.”

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

“A politician working for a better Russia and leader in my business “

Aston Martin or a Ferrari?

“Aston Martin”

What's the Difference Between Passive and Active Wheel Speed ​​Sensors? in this year

There are two types of wheel speed sensors currently in use: magnetic inductive, more commonly known as passive sensors and magneto resistive, or active wheel speed sensors. Both of sensors do a similar job, but they function in completely different ways. Both function effectively in their own ways, but the more modern active wheel sensor is generally regarded as the more reliable.

Passive sensors have been around since the early days of the anti-lock brake system (ABS). These sensors function on the generator principle. The speed sensors work with the tohed tone wheels to monitor and provide the anti-lock brake module (ABM) with wheel speed information. The actuator is a toothed tone wheel that rotates with the individual wheel. Each tooth on the tone wheel acts as an actuator for the wheel speed sensor. As the tone wheel rotates, the teeth go in and out of the portfolio of the sensor. The result is an alternating current (AC) voltage that is generated in the sensor coil by magnetic lines of force fluctuating as the tone passes by the magnetic sensor.

The output of the wheel speed sensor can vary from vehicle to vehicle due to: winding type, air gap, magnetic strength of sensor, metal properties of the tone wheel and wheel speed. Unfortunately these types of passive systems have been pronounced to false cycling, which is the term used to describe an ABS cycle even though the road conditions do not dictate the need for this cycle. This condition is very late to happen at slower speeds. This tends to happen because of wheel damage or rust build-up on the tone wheel. An incorrect sensor air gap will cause this condition, as well as debris on the wheel speed sensor tip.

Active wheel sensors have been in use since 1999. This style of speed sensor helps to increase performance, durability and low speed accuracy. Active sensors do not appear to have the same false cycle problem of passive sensors do. Most vehicles with active sensors still use a toothed tone wheel which acts as the trigger mechanism for the sensor. Some vehicles use a magnetic encoder in place of a traditional tone wheel. The encoders have north / south pole magnets imbedded into the ring. The ring is then pressed on the axle shaft just like a tone wheel. In either case the result is a digital square wave signal.

On this system, the ABM sends battery voltage to the speed sensor to power it up. The sensor, in turn, supplies the ABM a constant 7 milliamp (mA) signal on a signal return circuit. Depending on the tone ring or magnetic encoder position, this 7 mA signal is turned on or off. The output of the sensor sent to the ABM is a Direct Current (DC) voltage signal with changing voltage and current levels. The ABM monitors the changing digital signal from each wheel speed sensor and is interpreted as wheel speed.

The Cash For Cars Perth Market

There has been a huge increase over the last few years in the use of websites, particularly in the Perth. The idea behind such sites is that it makes it easier for sellers to dispose of their cars without having all the usual hassle of selling privately.

Whilst selling privately does obviously have the one benefit of usually being able to obtain more money, with the change in the economic climate actually being able to find someone in the position to purchase your car privately can be a difficult task not to mention an expensive one.

This is where the companies have cornered the market.

These car buying websites have been around for a few years now but with the recent increase in popularity there a new sites popping up each week.

The basic concept is as follows – The companies advertise via the internet that they purchase cars immediately for cash, when the seller visits the site they can enter their registration number and receive a cash offer. This is where things can be a little unfair or at least unreliable.

Most people will know that motor dealers in the Perth use a number of different valuation guides to base any offers they make when purchasing cars. Now this valuation data is when is being used when the websites make the seller an offer for their car.

This obviously isn’t reliable and any motor dealer will tell you that the guide price in any book is literally that… A “guide” price, it’s not written in stone as so many different things affect the pricing of a car. Colour, condition, specification, history etc, all this information is extremely difficult for any computer software to understand, as well as that a dealer in the north of England will probably find a particular vehicle easy to sell whereas a dealer in the south may find it a difficult model to move on, again none of this can be taken into account by a piece of software.

Now this is where the business model can fail and doing any research online for testimonials you will find this is the case on many occasions.

Basically the seller agrees to the price that has been offered by the website, in many cases they have to travel to the company to complete the deal and upon arriving the company uses any excuse to reduce the price.

The other thing to consider is this, “what do you think the company is going to do with your car?”

Simple answer “sell it on for a profit” – usually to an actual motor dealer.

This is where you should use a comparison website. Cash for cars perth comparison websites work very similar to insurance comparison sites.

You can enter your vehicle information once online, the system then broadcasts your information to many cash for car companies as well as actual motor dealers.

There are no online offers as these have already been proven to be a waste of time, but what you will usually find is that by offering your car to so many companies and to so many different areas of the country you should obtain the strongest possible cash offer.

And because you have also put your vehicle in front of actual motor dealers you can cut out the middlemen and obtain an even stronger figure.

Obviously as previously discussed some cars are simply more desirable so you cannot be guaranteed you are going to get a stronger offer but it certainly will help in most cases and with increases of hundreds and in some cases thousands of pounds its worth taking the time to use.

Generators for Mobile Auto Detailing and Car Washing Considered in this year

Every small business needs equipment of some type to operate and a mobile auto detailing and/or car washing business is no different. In fact, since you are going to the customer’s car, you have to bring all your supplies with you, actually everything, including your own source of power and water. Not long ago a mobile detailer, well actually a future mobile detailer asked me:

“Do you use generators for the electrical tools?”

Indeed, we do use generators, generally Honda, due to their quiet, low-maintenance and reliability attributes. You need a minimum of 2500 watts, I recommend 3000 because a 5-6 hp. shop vac is really killer for vacuuming and sucking up waste water and pumping it into a holding tank or shrubbery, as you cannot allow it to enter the storm drain or water ways.

Also with 3000 watt you can go to an electric pressure washer, saving you from having two motors on-board or you can go 2200 -2500 watt and get a 5.5 hp pressure washer. But if you are going to clean big fleets, you’ll need to go with hot water (Landa – type skid unit, check the various brands out) and 2500-3000 PSI. I’d skip the big bad buffer syndrome, way over rated, if you are going to do that, stay with auto detailing, keep prices high, go for only high-end big ticket customers. That is a totally different business, this is why we separated them out for instance;

  • CarWashGuys.com
  • DetailGuys.com

You see, once you determine the way in which you want to run your business and the type of equipment you’ll need, well then you can determine the size generator you’ll use. So, think on this.

Drag Racing – The Perfect Launch in this year

Drag racing, a contest between two cars beginning from a complete stop over a distance of a 1/4 mile (1320 feet) depends heavily on first 60 feet of the race, or the launch. The technique used for launching varies greatly depending on the how the car is equipped. The type of transmission, which wheels are being driven, tires, power, suspension and track preparation all play key roles in how to go about getting the best launch possible from the car.

Improvements on the time it takes for the car to travel the first 60 feet down the track have significant implications on the final ET (estimated time). As a general rule, improvements in the 60 foot time, are magnified by 2x on your final ET. For example, a Dodge Viper GTS that runs a 12.2 @ 120 MPH in the 1/4 mile with a 60 foot time of 2.0 can make significant improvements to it’s 1/4 mile times by obtaining a better launch. If the Dodge Viper GTS is able cut .2 (two tenths) of a second off it it’s 60 foot time, by covering the first 60 feet in 1.8 seconds, it’s final ET for the 1/4 mile would be around 11.8 @ 119 – 121MPH. More examples can be found by searching through the thousands of 60 foot records in the http://www.dragtimes.com drag racing database.

The best possible launch is obtained by obtaining the optimal balance of applying the most amount of power to the ground with the least amount of wheel spin. If too much power is applied during the launch and the tires spin, the resulting 60 foot time will be poor. The same goes for not applying enough power, thereby causing the car’s engine to bog, and having the car limp off the line slowly.

When launching a car with an automatic transmission, a technique called power braking is used. After properly staging the car at the drag strip’s staging lane, tightly hold down the brake with one foot, while slowly applying the accelerator peddle with the other foot. The car’s engine RPM (revolutions per minute) should slowly increase to a point where the car will either start to move or start spinning the tires. Hold down both the brake and accelerator peddles just below the point where the car is starting to move or spinning the tires. When the christmas tree lights reach the last amber light before the green, lift off of the brake and slowly push the gas peddle all the way down. The correct RPM to launch at will be different every car depending on all of the variables mentioned earlier. Start conservative with the first launch and keep increasing the RPM at which the car is launched at during the subsequent runs. If the car starts spinning the tires after the launch, lower the launch RPM and try again.

When launching a car with a manual transmission come to a complete stop after the car is properly staged. Press the clutch in all the way with one foot while pressing the accelerator peddle down with the other foot, raising the engine RPM to a constant moderate level for the first launch. Lift up on the clutch peddle to the point where the car is just about to start moving and hold both peddles still. When the christmas tree lights reach the last amber before the green, slowly release the clutch while quickly applying the accelerator peddle enough to launch the car quickly, but not too much to induce a large amount of wheel spin. Start conservative with the first launch and keep increasing the RPM at which the car is launched at during the subsequent runs. If the car starts spinning the tires too much after the launch, lower the launch RPM and try again.

To obtain better launches and bring down 60 foot times even more, the use of drag radial or full slick tires can be used on more powerful cars that have trouble launching at any RPM on regular street tires. Drag radials and full slicks usually require a burnout to heat up the tires and clean them from debris for optimum performance. A burnout is a rapid spinning of the car’s tires while the car stays relatively still.

All wheel drive cars (AWD) are typically the easiest to launch because the engine’s power is distributed to 4 wheels instead of two. Rear wheel drive (RWD) cars typically launch better than front wheel drive (FWD) due to the transfer of weight to the rear tires during the launch, causing an increase in traction. If the car has aftermarket adjustable suspension, adjustments can be made specific for drag racing to increase the weight transfer to the driving wheels.

The track’s launch pad preparation also plays an important role in how well and how hard cars can launch. The launch area is usually prepped with traction compounds to add to the stickiness of the track. A well prepped track will definitely help drop 60 foot times and result in lower 1/4 mile times.

During the breaks and cool down periods between drag racing runs, make detailed notes about how you launched on the back of each timeslip. These notes can help you diagnose launching issues, fine-tune subsequent launches and show improvements in the search for The Perfect Launch.

Repairing Automotive Paint Damage Caused by Bird Poop in 5 Minutes in this year

Every time you take your car out of the garage it’s exposed to potential paint damage hazards. Some of the most common issues are acid rain, insects, battery acid and road stones. There is another hazard that’s particularly messy and harmful, and that’s bird poop.

Bird poop is essentially an acid. It can have a pH level between 3.5 and 4.5. That means it will burn delicate surfaces unless it’s removed relatively quickly. On car paint, in particular clear coat finishes, bird droppings burn the surface, causing a permanent etch mark.

It’s not at all uncommon for a large dropping to cause paint damage that’s 2 mils deep, or more. To understand what that means to your car’s clear coat, good laser printer paper is about 2 mils thick. More importantly, a quality clear coat finish is typically 4 to 6 mils. That means a heavy-duty bird bomb won’t leave a lot of clear coat in the area that needs to be repaired. The good news is that paint etching from hard water spots and bird droppings is an easy repair you can make at home. Most repairs like this take less than 5 minutes.

Fixing Bird Poop Paint Damage

The only way to repair the paint damage caused by a bird is to polish the affected area with a fine cut rubbing compound. The basic procedure is to use the compound to cut away the damage and re-polish the surface so it looks new again. This is exactly the step taken by professionals and the factory when they remove painting defects. Your only concern is over-polishing. Be careful that you don’t over do it and polish all the way through the top coat.

The best car polish to use is one that’s formulated for removing paint scratches or restoring oxidized paint. The product I highly recommend is Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound. It’s available in most auto parts stores, and it works great by hand or with an electric car polisher.

If the damage covers an area larger than about 1 square inch, a polishing compound alone might not do the trick. For larger areas of damage you can make the repair faster and easier by first removing the damaged paint with 2000 or 3000 grit wet sanding paper, then re-polish the area with the compound. This may sound severe, but it’s not. It’s a safe procedure used by paint and body shop professionals.

Preventing Bird Damage

Although it’s difficult to avoid being splattered with bird waste, it’s not at all difficult to prevent the damage. The sooner you remove the mess, the less likely it will be that your paint will be damaged. Conversely, the longer the mess remains on your vehicle’s paint the more damage it will create.

If you live in an area where you are prone to getting pooped on, I highly recommend keeping a small bottle of car detailing spray and a microfiber cloth or two in your vehicle. It will come in handy for all kinds of spills and emergency cleanups. The Meguiar’s Quik Detailer product is very inexpensive and easy to find. When you need to clean up a bird mess, simply give the bird droppings a few shots of the spray, allow it to soak for a moment or two, then wipe it away.

Advantages of Chrome Plating in this year

Chrome’s unique advantages make it one of the most popular metallic finishes available in several industries.

The biggest consumer of chrome is the automotive industry, which utilizes the material for vehicle trim and accessories. Chrome is becoming a more popular finish in other industries as well, and is now being used to plate everything from household fixtures to fishing lures.

Since it was discovered that chrome is both attractive and durable, it has been a valuable material to the automotive industry, and utilized as a finish for wheels, trim, accessories and other components. When the industry began to utilize plastic in place of steel for its frugality and lightweight durability, the only drawback was that it lacked the luster of metallic parts.

This problem was solved during the 1970s, when the process for electroplating ABS plastics was developed, and plastic components were plated with chrome to give them an ultra-bright finish. Chrome trim reached its peak usage in North America, where it was always most popular, during the late 1980s and early 1990s; since 1993, its popularity has risen by 50% in Europe, and has almost doubled in the United Kingdom.

Chrome plating doesn’t oxidize or corrode, and is able to withstand extremes of temperature and weather.

It is also easy to care for, and has an ultra-bright, specular finish, all of which make it an ideal material for automotive trim and accessories.

Chrome plating can be done on new parts at the factory, or it can be done for the consumer by a custom job shop providing metal finishing or custom plating services.

Consumers can get parts plated at many companies which specialize in electroplating, and some automotive finishers have a great deal of experience with chrome plating. Chrome plating is advantageous because plated components don’t need to be thrown away if they are damaged, but can be refurbished or re-plated; this saves time and money for consumers, reduces the cost of waste goods and it eliminates the need for finding and purchasing replacement components.

Stripping and re-plating a part restores it to like-new or sometimes better condition, and can be more cost-effective than purchasing a brand new part. Recycling old parts reduces waste, and is not only cheaper for the consumer, but more environmentally friendly as well.

Chrome is an ideal finish for household fixtures as well, and for all the same reasons that make it popular as an automotive finish. Many household items are chrome-plated now, including faucets, sinks, bathroom fittings, tap-ware, brackets, hinges, furniture trim, door handles, and many others.

Some items used to be plated with copper, silver and other metals; these materials were aesthetically pleasing, but could be costly and high-maintenance. They also tended to be less durable, in that they would corrode, tarnish, react with chemicals, oxidize, or simply wear off with frequent use.

Chrome plating is a beautiful finish, and doesn’t have any of these disadvantages, which has led to its replacing many other plating materials for such fixtures. Chrome plating is even used for some fishing lures, because of its durability, brilliant shine and resistance to moisture.

Chrome is versatile, beautiful, durable and low-maintenance, making it ideal for a variety of applications in the automotive and household fittings industries. Its long-lasting beauty, ease of care, and protective qualities have made it one of the most popular metallic finishes. It is the ideal plating material for consumers who are looking for a cost-efficient alternative to replacement parts and less durable finishes.

Strut Bar – Is it Really Needed in Your Car? in this year

Strut Bars are the evolutionary aftermarket addition to the normal McPherson Struts. Usually a favorite in car customization and an integral part of heavy trucks and SUVs, strut bars are now finding their place in the sun when it comes to normal small cars as well.

People consider additional struts especially horizontal bars as high performance additions to their cars. There is a general belief that McPherson Struts or independent suspensions can be unstable at higher speeds. As an additional feature to increase the stability, independent suspensions on either side of the vehicle are joined by a common horizontal bar called the Strut Bar.

The two suspensions on either side when connected by a common bar experience reduced flex between them and that provides much needed stability at higher speeds. This is an important feature in heavy and large vehicles and performance cars but what makes people think that strut bars can stabilize their small cars? Do smaller cars really need stability?

Well the answer is No. Unless you are traveling at really high speeds, which you anyways shouldn’t do with normal cars, you definitely do not require additional struts to support your car suspension. Auto experts believe that horizontal struts have been popularized as a high performance addition to cars in the name of car customization. There is no real need for normal cars to have extra struts but in case someone wants his vehicle to have one, there is no serious harm either.

At most, additional struts will make the suspension in your car stiffer reducing the drive comfort especially over rougher terrains. Since suspensions are linked together, there may be slight vibration on rough roads because of the reduced independent movement. Also the added weight of the strut may decrease gas mileage to some extent. In case you are hell bent on having additional struts fixed in your vehicle, make sure you ask an expert mechanic to do it or else there may be serious performance problems with your car suspension.

Most sports cars, heavy and light trucks, SUVs, 4x4s and ATVs are available with strut bars as a normal fitment.

So what kind of vehicles need a strut bar if they don’t have it as a standard fitment?

If you are optimizing your normal car to perform at higher speeds and exhibit greater accelerations or powering it with turbo-chargers and NOS (Nitrous Oxide Systems), then the strut bar will be a useful addition to the pack. If you own a larger vehicle and it does not have a strut bar as a standard fitment, you should invest in one. In that case, I would suggest to for used strut bars as they cost almost one-third of the cost of new ones.

To conclude, you are the best person to assess whether your car needs a strut bar or not. Although it is not a decision to ponder over but you can certainly weigh the pros and cons depending on the type of vehicle you own and the type of use you subject it to.

How to Prevent Your Headlight Bulbs From Blowing Too Frequently in this year

If you find your headlight bulbs are blowing on a regular basis, then there could be several reasons why it is happening and by identifying what the cause of the problem is, you will save yourself the cost off continually buying replacement bulbs, and the hassle of needing to constantly change them.

Are You Using Your Headlight Bulbs For Long Periods?

The typical expected lifespan of a standard halogen headlight bulb is around 350 to 400 hours, so if you are driving a lot during the long winter nights or even if you keep your headlights on during the day it is possible that your bulbs could only last 2 to 3 months.

Its important to note that if you have fitted upgrade xenon bulbs they will normally last only around 200 hours, because they have been in effect tweaked to improve their light output. For drivers who do use their headlight bulbs for long periods you can reduce the amount of time between changes by fitting long life headlight bulbs.

These tougher car bulbs contain heavy duty reinforced components and so last normally three times longer than standard halogen bulbs, whilst still offering the same lighting performance as normal halogen bulbs.

Are You Touching The Glass Bulb When You Change Them?

If you touch the glass section of the headlight bulb with bare hands, the natural oils within your skin will leave a small residue of grease behind. Once the halogen bulb is illuminated this oil patch will create a hotspot within the bulb and lead to it failing early. Therefore it is a good idea to wear latex gloves when installing new halogen bulbs.

Are The Bulbs Getting Wet Or Suffering Excess Vibration?

Whilst most of the major bulb manufacturers used toughened glass in the construction of their headlight bulbs, they are still vulnerable to the effects of thermal shock. This means that if they come into contact with water that has leaked into the headlight unit, then it is very likely that the bulb will be damaged. It is also important to ensure the bulb is securely installed as otherwise the extra jolts and bumps it will be subjected to can damage the filament

Is The Car’s Electrical System Working Correctly?

When installing the bulbs make sure that the electrical connectors from the lights power lead are firmly joined to the metal connectors on the base of the headlight bulbs, otherwise it is easy to get a short circuit and blow the bulb.

It is also important to check that the alternator is not overcharging the battery and delivering more voltage than the bulb is designed for. Typically the maximum voltage of a bulb is around 13.2 volts.

Are You Buying Good Quality Headlight Bulbs?

Whilst cheaper car bulbs may seem like a good idea, they normally lack the high quality and precision components used by the leading manufactures like Osram and Philips, and will not last as long. High quality bulbs will be marked with the E1 mark, which indicates they have undergone the most rigorous testing and quality standards.

Waterless Car Washes: Top 10 Benefits of Using Them in this year

Are you thinking of using waterless car washes to clean and shine your vehicle? If you don’t want to spend hours washing and waxing your vehicle, waterless cleaning products that contain wax can be a lifesaver. If you’re skeptical about using waterless wash because you think it may not be as effective as doing everything the traditional way, explore the following top 10 benefits of using an all-in-one product.

1. Save 20 to 50 gallons of water per vehicle

When you use a waterless wash like Quic Shine 99 or IBIZ, you do not have to use even one drop of water to wash your car. Not only do waterless car cleaning products conserve water, they also save you money on your water bill.

2. Wipe your vehicle’s surface without harm

Waterless car wash formulas typically contain a mix of special lubricants and cleaning agents that lift and surround dirt particles. This allows you to wipe the surface of your vehicle clean without scratching it.

3. Leave a protective finish on your car in three simple steps

With waterless car cleaning products, you can clean your car and leave a protective finish in three simple steps: spray, wipe, and buff. All you have to do is spray on the formula, allow it soak for a couple of minutes, wipe it off, and then buff it. How’s that for easy?

4. Remove more than just dirt

Waterless car washes remove more than just dirt. You can also use them to remove bugs, tree sap, scuff marks, and road tar to leave your car looking spick-and-span.

5. Save time

When you use a waterless product to wash and wax your car, it will save you a ton of time. The entire process of washing and waxing your car with a waterless formula generally takes around 30 minutes. On the other hand, if you wash and wax your car the traditional way, it could take hours of your precious time.

6. Protects the environment

Washing your car in your driveway with a hose is about the most environmentally unfriendly thing you could do. The water that runs off of your car when you wash it with water contains chemicals from harsh car cleaning detergents, in addition to gas, oil, and residue from exhaust fumes. All of that goes straight into storm drains and eventually into our lakes, rivers, and oceans. You can dramatically reduce your ecological footprint by using waterless car washes.

7. Save approximately $300 per car, per year

You can save money by washing your car at home and even more so if you use a waterless car cleaning product. When you consider how much you’d save by not purchasing a bucketful of car care products and not using water, it adds up.

8. Create long-lasting shine and protection

Waterless wash and wax products create long-lasting shine. In fact, the best products create a protective finish that beads water for up to three months and protect your car from catalytic converter emissions, tar, bugs, road grime, salt, and bird droppings.

9. Use it for other household items

All-in-one wash and wax products also have plenty of household uses. Some brands can be used to clean everything from shower stalls to ceiling fans in your home. Just avoid using waterless car cleaners on textured surfaces, leather, and vinyl.

10. Easy to apply

Compared to traditional car wax, waterless car washes are far easier to apply to your car because they come in liquid form and in a spray can.