Which Type of Brake Pads Is Best for Your Needs?


Brake pads provide the muscle you need to stop your car, so their composition is important. Brake pads are composed of several different substances but can be put into a few major groups. Below is more information about the various brake pad groupings and some of the advantages and drawbacks of each type.

Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

A common type of brake pad in use with passenger vehicles, semi-metallic brake pads are composed of metals and a special binding agent. Some of the metals used in semi-metallic brake pads include steel, copper, and iron, though brake manufacturers may add more exotic metals for special applications such as racing.

Semi-metallic brake pads also contain their own special sub-classification, low-metallic brake pads, which are a hybrid of semi-metallic and organic brake pads and have characteristics of both major groups.

Though the exact percentages vary depending on the specific product, the usual composition of semimetallic brake pads is half metal and half binder. Semi-metallic brake pads offer numerous advantages that make this type of brake pad the favored choice for a lot of vehicle owners:

  • Economical to produce and buy
  • Good heat dissipation characteristics during average driving
  • Firm, confident braking "feel" when pedal is depressed
  • Average to above-average durability

Semi-metallic brake pads do have a few drawbacks, most notably their tendency to make squealing or grinding noises under certain circumstances. In addition, semi-metallic brake pads tend to generate more wear on rotors, which may necessitate more frequent rotor replacement.

Organic Brake Pads

Organic brake pads are another major group of brake pads. Organic brake pads originally consisted of asbestos bound with other fibers and resins, but knowledge of the dangers of asbestos have nearly eliminated its use in automotive products, including brake pads.

Today's organic brake pads use safer fibers, such as glass or Kevlar, mixed with a binding agent. These pads excel in several areas, including the following:

  • Extremely affordable cost
  • Quiet braking action
  • Most environmentally friendly of brake pad options
  • Relatively low levels of wear and tear on other braking components

Organic brake pads aren't perfect for every application, as they do have a few disadvantages, including a less certain feel to braking action. In addition, organic brake pads tend to wear out much faster than other pad types and are more sensitive to overheating.

Ceramic Brake Pads

Ceramic brake pads make up the third major group of brake pad types. As their name indicates, ceramic brake pads are composed primarily of ceramic materials, but the pads also have metallic fibers interspersed throughout.

Ceramic brake pads are the newest, but they represent a major stride forward in braking technology. Ceramic brake pads offer several advantages to vehicle owners and operators, including:

  • High durability and longevity
  • Extremely quiet operating characteristics
  • Lower levels of brake dust production
  • Stable heat-dispersion characteristics

Since ceramic brake pads are a fairly new technology and also require more attention during manufacturing, one of their chief disadvantages is cost. Ceramic pads are the most expensive brake pads to make and sell, though the longer lifespans do help offset the upfront costs.

If you have questions about brake pads and what type might be best for your vehicle, then it is important to talk with automotive repair professionals for assistance. They can make recommendations on brake pad types as well as perform replacements that will match your driving needs and available budget.

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What You Need to Know About Tax Deductions for Donating Cars in Minnesota


When you donate a vehicle to charity, you can receive a tax deduction on your income tax return. Wondering how that works? Here's an overview of what you need to know.Deductions for your donation

1. Charitable Tax Deductions

The Internal Revenue Service allows you to claim a deduction on your tax return for charitable donations. Essentially, the value of the donation lowers your taxable income. As a result, you owe less tax. To put it simply, let's say you have $60,000 of taxable income and you make a donation of $5,000. That $5,000 lowers your taxed income to $55,000.

2.   Qualifying Charitable Organizations

A 501(c) (3) organization is the most  common non-profit organization.  The majority of them are operated in support of religious, educational, literary, and scientific purposes.  The advantage of donating a vehicle to a 501 (c) (3) organization is that you may use fair market value for your tax deduction, if the donation is used to support the charity's mission.  For example, donating a car to a school will qualify for a fair market value deduction when the car is used for training purposes and is substantially improved in the process.

3. Value of Vehicle Donations

When you donate a vehicle, the amount of your deduction can vary based on the selling price of the vehicle. As of 2017, if your donated vehicle sells for less than $500, you can claim the fair market value of the vehicle up to $500. To illustrate, imagine the fair market value of your vehicle is $1,000. The vehicle sells for $399. In this case, you can claim $500. On the other hand, if your vehicle sells for $399 but the fair market value is only $300, you can claim only $300.  If the charity sells your vehicle for more than $500, you can claim the sale price as a tax deduction. For instance, let's say your vehicle sells for $3,000. That is your tax deduction, regardless of the actual value of the vehicle.

4. Qualifying Donations

To claim a tax deduction, you need to donate the vehicle to a registered  501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. If you give the vehicle to a relative, a friend trying to start a business, or to a local organization that is not registered as a nonprofit yet, it is considered a gift and does not meet the tax deductible guidelines .

5. Paperwork

Once you donate your vehicle, you should receive a receipt (form 1098-c) so you are able to claim the deduction on your tax return. Most organizations mail this receipt to you within 30 days after they sell the vehicle, but some organizations can give you a receipt when you drop off your vehicle.
You also need to provide your title -and lien release if necessary - to complete the process.

6. Claim for the Deduction

To claim a deduction for a donation on your federal tax return, you need to itemize your deductions. This means that you take several deductions such as the home mortgage deduction and others rather than just taking the standard deduction. Generally, only homeowners fall into this category. Unfortunately, if you claim only the standard deduction, you can't claim charitable donations on your federal tax return.
Luckily, Minnesota lets you claim a special deduction on your state taxes if you don't itemize and can't claim the donations on your federal taxes. You can claim half of your donation over $500.

7. Trades

Finally, if you get a benefit in exchange for your donation, you will have to subtract the value of that gift from your donation. Imagine you donate to a charity and receive a free radio for your donation. In this case, you will have to subtract the value of the radio from your donation. This is also true if you donate a vehicle and receive a "thank you" gift.
If you're interested in donating your vehicle and receiving a tax benefit, contact  Newgate School today. Because we are a registered charity that has been accepting car donations for years, and we make the paperwork easy and the process simple for you. Best of all, when you donate a vehicle to Newgate, you help support our tuition-free mechanic training program and our mission to help low-income adults become self-sufficient.

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Everything Vehicle Owners Need to Know About Fluid Leaks



Engine Fluids Safety

Your car relies on a variety of fluids to keep the engine cool, powered, and well-lubricated. Sometimes, you find these fluids in a puddle underneath your car instead. Certain fluid leaks require immediate attention and repair, while others aren't as serious.
In this blog, we give you the basics that you need to know when you notice a vehicle fluid leak. 

Types of Fluid That May Leak

While you may assume that the liquid dripping from your car is gasoline or engine oil, several different varieties of vehicle fluids can leak.
Common fluids found in leaks include:
• Brake fluid. This oily liquid usually ranges in color from yellow to brown. Brake fluid leaks are rare in most modern cars.
• Coolant. Also known as antifreeze, coolant may appear pink, orange, or green. This sticky, sweet-smelling liquid is one of the most frequent vehicle leaks. 
• Engine oil. Depending on how old your oil is, the puddle may look dark yellow or brackish brown. Engine oil leaks may smell like burning rubber.
• Gasoline. If your vehicle's leak smells like a gas station, the liquid is probably gasoline. A puddle near the back bumper may indicate a faulty tank, while a leak near the front bumper could be due to fuel pump damage.
• Power steering fluid. Power steering fluid leaks may look reddish. If you have one of these leaks, you may also notice that it's harder to take sharp turns in your vehicle.
• Transmission fluid. Like power steering fluid, transmission leaks are usually red. Your car will usually spring a transmission leak near the front or middle of the vehicle.
• Water. Most steady dripping leaks under a car are water from the climate control system.
The severity of the leak often depends on what the puddle under your car consists of, so identifying the possible fluids involved is an important first step.

Common Signs of Fluid Leaks

While an active drip or standing puddle can clue you in to the presence of a leak, not all leaks are immediately visible. If you suspect a leak, but haven't seen the problem in action, first check your fluid reservoirs.
Slow or small leaks may affect your fluid levels over a long period of time, so it's important to know what fluid consumption is normal for your vehicle. If your dashboard lights recommend fluid changes too often, this issue may also indicate the presence of a leak.
If you suspect a leak, place a ground covering underneath your car overnight. If there is a strong odor of gasoline, you may wish to move it outside the garage to protect against a potential fire hazard.  Coverings like aluminum foil or even paper may work because motor fluids show up clearly on the surface.
If you can't explain why your car loses fluids so quickly, visit a mechanic. You may have an engine inefficiency or other mechanical problem rather than a fluid leak.

When to Worry About a Fluid Leak

Certain fluid leaks are considered normal. For example, water condensation often drips from underneath cars that use their air conditioning in warm weather. In most cases, leaks that do not cause sudden and dangerously significant drops in fluid levels or large puddles aren't serious.

Potential dangers of fluid shortages:
Brake  fluid.  A shortage of brake fluid is a potential safety hazard.  If you suspect a leak, have your car towed to a shop as soon as possible, regardless of how much fluid actually escapes.  Do not attempt to drive a car with a suspected brake fluid leak since a drop in fluid pressure can cause your brakes to stop functioning unexpectedly.
Coolant.  A shortage of coolant will affect your engine's ability to perform in a safe operating temperature range.  Look at your instrument panel to determine if your vehicle is running at an abnormal temperature.  An overheated engine will soon fail and the repair is extremely expensive.
Gasoline.  Easily recognized by its odor, gasoline is explosive, and an accumulation is extremely dangerous and a safety hazard.  Call your mechanic immediately to determine the level of severity so that its repair can be expedited.
Engine oil.  A shortage of engine oil will result in internal engine components not receiving sufficient lubrication and the engine will overheat and eventually fail - an extremely expensive repair.
Power steering fluid.   Insufficient power steering fluid will make your vehicle difficult to steer which has potential for a driving safety hazard.  Have it checked out immediately by your mechanic.
Transmission fluid.  If you feel any abnormality in your vehicle shifting, it may be a result of low transmission fluid.  If it is not replaced to the appropriate level, an expensive repair will likely ensue.
Always refer to your owner's manual to determine appropriate fluids and your car's maintenance schedule.  Timely care and attention to your vehicle's operating symptoms can save you a lot of money and allow you to avoid downtime.
If your car springs a leak and you decide to trade up, consider donating your current car to Newgate School. We use vehicles in varying conditions to teach our students the basics of car mechanics.

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Beyond The Oil Change: 3 Important Car Maintenance Tasks


Car that needs maintenance

Every car owner knows regular oil changes are an expected part of vehicle ownership, and most are also aware of other necessary tasks that need to be done, including tire, brake, and battery replacement. However, there are several other important maintenance tasks besides these. Many of these other tasks are just as critical as oil changes.

While each specific make and model has its own maintenance schedule, many of the following tasks are common across all vehicles. Below are three maintenance items you should be aware of and address as needed to protect your substantial investment.

Air Filter Replacement

Just like any device that burns a fuel to produce energy, your car depends on oxygen to complete the combustion cycle. However, the air coming from the road is often full of dust and debris and can cause damage to the internal parts of your engine if it enters in this state. Your car contains an air filter that removes the contaminants that could harm your vehicle; this filter is a simple component that is usually made of paper and is placed in its own special compartment between the intake and motor.

Over time, this filter becomes clogged as the engine continues to draw air from the outside. If you ignore a clogged filter, the lack of adequate airflow will cause your engine to run poorly and cost you extra money at the gas pump. Should you continue to ignore your air filter, it will eventually disintegrate and admit harmful debris into the engine directly.

As with all maintenance tasks, it is important to check your owner's manual to see when replacement is warranted. However, most air filters should be visually examined for signs of excessive debris at every oil change; if it looks dirty, then it probably needs to be tossed and a new one installed. They aren't expensive, and it is well worth the low cost to replace a clogged filter.

Engine Coolant Replacement

The coolant in your car serves a critical role by preventing your engine from overheating. The liquid, which consists of a mixture of water and special chemicals, absorbs heat from the motor and releases the heat when it enters the radiator. If anything disrupts this cycle, heat levels will build beyond an acceptable limit and cause significant engine damage.

Engine coolant needs replacement on a regular basis; newer vehicles may not need fresh coolant more often than every 100,000 miles, but this can vary depending on the make and model. If you fail to replace the coolant as necessary, then it will eventually stop readily absorbing heat and could allow engine temperatures to rise to dangerous levels.

In addition, coolant also accumulates more particles as time passes; these particles consist of minute bits and pieces of metal as well as other small debris. While these particles may be largely harmless, there is a possibility they can clog internal lines and block areas of the motor off from the coolant. Obviously, this could be destructive to your engine, so be sure to follow whatever written guidelines are in place for your specific vehicle and replace the coolant as specified.

Timing Belt Replacement

When a car engine runs, a lot of internal moving parts must move exactly in sync for the engine to function. For example, multiple valves allow fuel to enter the motor while other valves permit exhaust to leave. The timing belt is connected to each of these parts and keeps everything moving in rhythm. It is important to know that not all vehicles contain timing belts; some use what is known as a timing chain, but the function is the same.

Unfortunately, timing belts are made of rubber and will eventually wear out and break. Should this occur, there is a high likelihood that unsynchronized parts inside the engine will collide and create catastrophic damage. In fact, the damage can be so substantial that engine replacement is often the only remedy.

It goes without saying that timing belt replacement is critical and should not be ignored. Each vehicle has its own schedule for timing belt replacement, but generally, it's performed once every 100,000 miles. Your vehicle's owner's manual should tell you when replacement is necessary.

Also, keep in mind that timing belt replacement is usually quite extensive and will necessitate a mechanic's assistance, so be sure to consult a reliable automotive specialist for help.

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Commercial Car Wash Vs. Self Car Wash: Which Should You Choose?


Car being washedEvery month or so, it's time to give your car a good wash. But the question arises: should you wash your car at home or in a commercial car wash?

Commercial car washes and self car washes each offer different advantages and drawbacks. Here are several factors to consider.

Quality of the Wash

Washing your car yourself has some drawbacks. Your hose simply doesn't generate enough water pressure to remove tough dirt. Also, the towels, rags, and sponges you use can spread particles that scratch your car's paint.

But are commercial car washes actually more effective than self car washes? Commercial car washes offer many thorough washing options, from in-bay automatic machines to tunnel wash systems. One drawback is the water spots sometimes left behind by commercial air dryers.

Commercial car washes are typically stronger and more comprehensive than self car washes. However, washing your car by hand lets you address all the little details that a quick commercial car wash might ignore.

Impact on the Car

In the past, many people thought commercial car washes harmed their cars. They feared that the harsh brushing could damage a car's finish. Fortunately, modern improvements to commercial car wash equipment reduce the likelihood of car damage. Many car washes use softer brushes and devices that spray water rather than directly touching the car.

Washing your car yourself can lead to damage. Some people make the mistake of using dishwashing detergent, which can leave residue and remove wax. Plus, if you wash your car in direct sunlight, you can burn spots in the paint.

You're probably less likely to harm your car if you use a commercial car wash, as long as you choose a car wash without rough brushes.

Impact on the Environment

When you wash your car yourself, the water runs down your driveway and into your storm drain. Metals and sediment from your car travel through this water, polluting the water and endangering wildlife. On the other hand, commercial car washes trap these contaminants in a drain. The contaminants are then removed by a water treatment system.

Thus, commercial car washes are safer for the environment than self car washes.


Basic commercial car washes cost between $5 and $30. The price increases based on other services, including vacuuming, waxing, and detailing. More expensive companies are mobile car wash services that bring their equipment to your home. While commercial car wash costs usually aren't astronomical, they can add up over time.

Washing your car on your own is very affordable. You do need to pay for the equipment, such as the soap, sponges, and microfiber cloth. Your water bill may increase slightly, depending on how much water you use to rinse your car. However, in the long run, self car washes are still cheaper than commercial car washes.


A commercial car wash takes about 10 minutes, while a self car wash can take up to an hour. No matter which automatic wash you choose, it's sure to save you time and hassle.

When all the factors are weighed, commercial car washes are generally your better option. However, they can be costly and they lack a certain personal touch. It's probably a good idea to rotate between commercial washing and hand washing.

If you want an option that's a cross between the two, a self-serve car wash is a good bet. You park your car in a station, where you can pay for soap and a water rinse. You may even be able to choose options like car vacuums and wax. You then do the washing work yourself.

Make sure to wash your car about once a month to keep it clean and attractive. If it's time to trade in your car, donate it to Newgate School.   Your car provides our responsible students with hands-on automotive training.

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