Addco Sway Bars

When I bought my first car, I bought Addco sway bars to help it corner better. They were inexpensive, but better than the factory bars. Flash forward to July 2004. I bought a pair of sway bars for my 1998 Camry. I installed the rear bar in about an hour. It wasn't shaped exactly like the factory bar. The factory bar had a big dip near the end where the bar bolted to the suspension. After driving a few miles, I noticed some loud clunking. The Addco bar was hitting the suspension arm. The factory bar's curve was there to avoid hitting the suspension arm. I contacted Addco. I sent them some photos of their bar too close to the suspension, and the factory bar's curve. I send back my bar, and they said they would make a new bar with more curve, and send it to me. At this stage, I had installed the new bar, and then removed it, and installed the factory bar.

Now it isn't so easy to bend a steel bar, but sway bar makers know how to do it. I once bought a 1.5 inch diameter sway bar for my 442. If a 1.5 inch bar can be bent, a thinner bar can be easily bent. When a company makes a bar for a car, if there is an existing bar, they can pretty much copy it. There are plenty of 1998 Camry's in the world.

The new bar had more curve. I installed it, but it still hit. I removed it and sent it back. Now I was up to 4 bar installs. They sent me a new one, but it still hit. I don't understand why they couldn't copy the curve of the factory bar. So I was up to 6 bar installs. I tried installing the front bar, but it was such a different shape, that it couldn't even be installed. No idea why it was so far off. I contacted them, and told them the front bar was the wrong shape, and the rear bar still hit. I was told they were working on new bars and to contact them in a few months. After a few months, I contacted them. They said they were not going to make bars for the 1998 Camry. I said, ok, please send me back my money. Addco asked me where I had gotten the bars from, and I told them. That company had gone out of business. I don't blame that company, as they were selling Addco parts that were supposed to be for a Camry. Addco did not get back to me. A few months later, I send them another email, which they ignored. I have been very patient, as this has been going on for 5 years. I ended up with a pair of bars that don't fit my car, no improved performance, and my money was totally wasted.

It would have been nice if Addco had made the bar fit the car in the first place. You expect when you order something specifically for your car, that it will fit. It would have been nice if they would have fixed the problem. I ended up installing bars 8 times, 6 times for the rear bar, and 2 times for the front bar. It would have been nice if Addco would have refunded me the money I paid for the bars. It would have been very nice if they would have paid me for helping get the bars correct for the Camry. As a result, I do not recommend any Addco products, as they can't seem to make parts fit a car, and they refuse to refund money for parts that are completely useless.

KYB Shock Absorbers

On my 442, I bought KYB shock absorbers. They were really great. Reasonably priced, lifetime guarantee, nice and well damped. When my 2002 Camry needed struts, I decided to buy KYB struts for it. Within a week, one was making a terrible noise. It wss defective. I returned it for another one. The problem with struts is that they are much harder to replace than shocks. I can switch a shock in less than an hour. With a strut, you need a strut compression tool. Often lots of other stuff attaches to the strut, and it all has to be removed and reattached. The cost of the strut is often significantly less than the labor to put it in. I had to pay the labor of having the defective strut removed and reinstalled. Over time, I noticed that the struts weren't well damped. I called KYB and they said that I had the correct ones and that they were 10% more damped than the OEM struts. I told them that mine sure weren't. They said I could remove them, and send them back where I got them from for inspection. This would cost me several hundred dollars to remove the struts, and the car would be unmovable. Then I would have to mail 4 bulky and heavy struts back to the mail order store where I got them from. It would be about the same price to simply buy replacement struts. On the net, I saw that KYB stood for 'Keep Your Bilsteins'. I fear that is true. Unfortunately for me, Bilstein doesn't make struts for my car. I have Bilstein shocks on my Tacoma. When the rear shocks got weak, I sent them back to Bilstein and they rebuilt or replaced them without any fuss. I won't be buying any more KYB products.

Well, the struts got even worse. I had to drive over bumps at about 5 miles per hour. I called KYB again, and they said they didn't take shocks back; I had to deal with the retailer. I called the retailer, and told them I needed to replace the struts. I said I would be ordering new ones, and started the RMA process with them. They said they would call me in a day or two and let me know if I had to ship back the defective status. They did call me back, and said their was no need to ship them back; they would just cut me a check. I ordered Monroe OESpectrum struts. They are supposed to be about stiff as OEM struts. I would rather get stiffer struts, but it seems that only KYB makes stiffer struts for my car, and there was no way I was going to use them again. Today I got the new struts and the check today. I will have to pay about $420 to get the struts put in and aligned. There is a Monroe $30 rebate. What is even nicer, is their lifetime warranty includes $50 per strut for the labor. To me, that means Monroe stands behind their products more than KYB does.

CoverKing Car Mats

I ordered tailored floor mats for my 2012 plug in Prius. I ordered them from CoverKing. I specified a 2012 Prius. They shipped me mats that said on the box '2010-2011 Prius'. It is pretty well known that the floor mat retainer studs on the drivers floor changed in 2012. Apparently, not to CoverKing. Needless to say, the floor mat retainer studs grommets were several inches off from where then needed to be. I contacted CoverKing, and they didn't know that the retainer studs had changed. One of their employees did have a 2012 Prius, and they said they would make a new pattern for the 2012 Prius.

When the 2012 Prius came out, WeatherTech, a maker of rubber floor mats didn't have any floor mats available. They say they have taken measurements and are in the process of making mats for the 2012. They seems far more diligent in actually making sure their mats fit, rather than assuming that a new year car has the same floor as a previous year car.

Quaker State Oil Filters

I have a 1997 Toyota Tacoma 4wd with a V6. Getting to the oil filter is a bit of a pain. You can remove a bunch of skid plates, and skin your knuckles, or you can use a 'cap wrench' for the oil filter. With the cap wrench, you can access the filter from above the motor, and remove or install it. I bought a cap wrench that fits a Fran 3614 oil filter, which is what my Tacoma uses. It turns out that the exact size of oil filters, as well as the cap flats are not standardized. Yesterday, I bought 4 Quaker State Safe-T-Screen Oil Filters , and I changed my oil and filter this morning. Imagine my surprise when I couldn't tighten it, because the can was a bit smaller than the Fran, and so my cap wrench was much too big for the filter. I called them up, and they said they make about 5 different sizes filters, and that can was just a bit smaller than the other 3614 cans made by different manufacturers. They also said they make the US version of the Toyota filters. Well, that's nice, but I had assumed that the size 3614 denoted a filter that both worked mechanically to filter oil, as well as the outside package dimensions. So now I have 4 cans, one of which is slimed with oil. Looks like I will need another can wrench or something...

It turns out that this is a very popular filter size. My Shelby CSX uses the same filter. Most Toyotas made in 1997 use the same filter. I was actually considering the Mobil-1 Filter , but it has no flats at all. They said something about no flats making the can stronger... But very tough for me to remove, and with its $10.00 price, it was easy to pass up.

Stainless Steel Locking Cable ties

I recently bought a pack of 100 11.8 inch (30cm) locking stainless steel cable ties from Amazon, made by Vktech, and sold by Apexstone. I needed them to secure a pair of reverse lights on my truck bumper. They are supposed to work similarly to nylon cable ties, but be stronger and more durable. Perfect I thought for mounting reverse lights on my bumper. Unfortunately, the ones I bought had a defective design. The 'lock' part of the cable ties is supposed to be a ball bearing that allows the stainless steel tie to tighten up but not to loosen. From the website "Once you button up the cable ties, they can't be separated". They didn't lock. I had two ties, one per side of the light. Neither would stay locked. I tried a bunch of different things to try to make them work, but I failed. I could see them loosen up while I watched. Fortunately, Amazon has a great return policy and process. They even paid for return shipping.

I ended up buying a pack of 25 12 inch long locking stainless steel cable ties from Harbor Freight. Some stuff they sell doesn't work very well, but I have bought nylon cable ties from them and they worked fine, so I decided to try their stainless steel ties, hoping for the best. They worked perfectly. They were a bit more expensive than the ones from Vktech, but they worked. You need to use a bolt cutter or something similar to trim the stainless cable ties, but that isn't a big deal. I plan on using more of them where high strength, or abrasion resistance is required.

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