There comes a time in every car owner’s life when your car needs a service or repair. While there are some maintenance items you may be able to take care of yourself, more often than not a licensed mechanic will be required to handle more complex car repairs.
When choosing a car repairer you should look for a mechanic who is trusted by other vehicle owners and has the required skills and experience for the job. Once you’ve found your mechanic, however, you might find they use industry jargon that doesn’t make much sense.
By learning some of the basic terms a mechanic may use, you can have a better understanding of what information they’re providing and what it means for you.
Common technical terms used by mechanics
One of the first steps to understanding your mechanic is to understand your car. By knowing the various parts of your car, you’ll already be a step ahead of the game. Knowing your car make and model, its features and different parts will help you to understand what your mechanic is discussing with you.
One way to do this is to read the owner’s manual of your vehicle. This will help you learn the location of different parts, the functionality of different buttons, and much more.
Here are some key terms which your mechanic will commonly use to describe any repair work which may be required.
A misfire is what happens to a car engine if one or more of the cylinders inside the engine fails to fire correctly. There are three components to fire a cylinder, including the fuel to ignite, oxygen, and a spark to ignite the engine. A misfire results in a loss of power and fuel efficiency, and an increase in CO2 emissions.
Camshaft, crankshaft and timing belt
An engine’s camshaft controls the operation of pistons in the cylinder – so without the camshaft, the engine wouldn’t work. The camshaft is connected to the crankshaft by the timing belt.
A crankshaft converts vertical movements of the car’s pistons into a rotation – to be transferred through to the flywheel and the transmission. What happens is the camshaft spins once, and the crankshaft (controlling the valves) rotates twice in the four-stroke cycle. This relationship is known as ‘mechanical timing’.
The timing belt is a rubber belt which controls the mechanical timing. Without the timing belt, the pistons and valves fall out of sync and collide. If this were to happen, it would be extremely costly for you.
As a rule of thumb, the timing belt will need to be replaced every 100,000 kms or after 5 years.
But, check the service guidelines in your manufacturer’s logbook, as there are no warning signs that the timing belt is worn out.
What you should look out for
As well as knowing common mechanical language, it’s also important that you know what to look out for in your car, so you know when to get it looked at by a professional. Here are some common hazards to be aware of.
Is the tread on your tyres worn out?
Did you know that it’s illegal to have a tread depth of below 1.5mm on your tyres? But, for optimal safety, it’s recommended to never let your tyre tread fall below 3mm.
To check the tread depth on your tyres, you can check the tread wear indicators on the tyre. But, if the tread has fallen below 3mm, you may not be able to visibly see this indicator. So, you’ll need some additional tools. You can try the coin test. Get a 20 cent coin and place it in the main tread groove of your tyre. If the tread doesn’t reach the bill of the platypus, there’s less than 3mm of tread left on your tyres and you should replace them.
Do you need new brake discs?
A brake disc removes kinetic energy from the car in order to stop it. Here are 5 warning signs that you’ll need to replace your brake discs:
- You hear a high-pitched or grinding noise when you brake
- There’s an unusual vibration when you brake
- The brake pedal feels softer to press than normal
- The stopping distance has increased
- The vehicle pulls to one side when braking
Are your brake pads worn out?
Brake pads use the part of the brake which contracts and applies pressure to a vehicle’s brake rotors. So, they are the part which slows and stops the wheels. Brake dust is the most obvious sign of pad wear – the heavier the car, the more brake dust you’ll see on the wheels of the car. Also, if you hear a screeching noise when you brake, this can be another indicator of wear.
Why learn mechanical language?
Learning technical jargon is important for understanding how your vehicle works and knowing how to maintain it. By understanding some basic mechanic issues, parts and technical jargon, you will ensure your vehicle is maintained correctly and that only essential repairs are completed.
When talking with your mechanic, there’s a fine line between speaking their language and getting in over your head. You may want to learn about the car issues you’re having and feel confident in telling the mechanic what you think the problem may be, but remember that at the end of the day, they’re the expert.
Your mechanic will likely have a lot of experience in fixing cars, so don’t take their knowledge for granted. When there’s an issue with your car, let the experts take a look and analyse the situation for themselves.
If you need to, offer to take the mechanic for a drive to show them what issue you’re having or allow them to listen to any problems you’ve been experiencing. Chances are, having hands-on experience of your issue can help them to narrow down the problem quicker and easier.
Arm yourself with knowledge and confidence
Learning more about your car and what is required to keep it running can leave you feeling confident to take your car to your local mechanic knowing that you have a better understanding of what is going to be fixed and how.
At the same time, you’ll be able to make sure you’re not breaking your budget by being overcharged for services that aren’t required.
7 Reasons Why Its Important to Have a Niche
A niche is a focused, targetable segment of the market. You are a specialist providing a product or service that focuses on the specific needs of an identified client group, which cannot or are not being addressed in such detail by the dominant providers in your industry.
But it is important to understand that there is, in fact, a difference between your identified niche and your target market.
Your target market is a specific identifiable group of people you work with, e.g. women in the city, technology start-ups, creative agency owners, small and medium businesses in a particular revenue range.
Your niche is the service you specialise in offering to your target market.
For example, standing desks are aimed at professionals who work in front of a computer for long periods of time. This is a well-defined niche.
Here are 7 reasons why it is important to have a niche:
To avoid spreading yourself too thin
Instead of the risk of spreading yourself too thin in saying that ‘everyone’ is your potential client, niche marketing will help you to focus on a specific grouping of people, and particularly on what their needs and wants are.
You will unlikely to be able to serve everybody, so it is important to focus on what you do best and aim it at a specific group of people who will likely buy what you offer.
It is important to find out what is important to them, what blogs they read, their beliefs and attitudes, who the main influencers in that network are.
Having these insights means that you can develop products or services specifically aimed at this group, based on your thorough knowledge and understanding of what they are interested in.
It’s easier to identify and target potential clients and partners to work with
As the pool of people that exists for a niche is smaller than its mainstream equivalent, it will be easier to identify potential clients and partners to work with, as you can be much more targeted and laser-focused with your marketing efforts.
It’s easier to become an expert and well known in your niche
Niching means it will be much easier for others to understand ‘what you do’ and ‘for whom’, which will make it easier to position you as an expert in your field. As this group is more targeted and of a smaller size, you can rapidly become well known within this group of people.
Your profile and overall visibility will increase within this group. It is a small world after all!
More and better referrals
Since it will be easier for others to understand what you do and for whom, it, in turn, becomes much easier for them to refer more and better quality clients to you that fit the profile of your ideal client, as you have built up trust, credibility, visibility, and it is very clear as to what your specialism is.
The more unique you are, the less competition you will have
There will be less competition, as you will provide the specific services or create the specific products for the specific people you are seeking to help in a specific way that meets their needs. The BIG advantage of becoming more unique is that usually it can’t be easily replicated by your competition!
Marketing becomes much easier
Effective niche marketing should really help with your marketing, positioning and branding as you will attract the ‘right people’ much more easily and quickly. People with similar interests tend to behave and are attracted to similar things. This means that many of your clients will do all the hard work for you as they will refer you more and more because your profile, credibility and influence are readily apparent within your tribe.
More repeat business
As you are able to provide an increasingly better service or product, based on your specific client’s needs, it is likely that you will get more repeat business – people will come back for more, and as an added benefit will often start spending more with you as your relationship grows with them.
How to Increase the Loading Speed of Your Website
Imagine this: your e-commerce site is losing visitors on Black Friday or the recent record-setting Cyber Monday – traditionally the two biggest shopping days of the year.
What’s worse is that this situation is totally unnecessary. You could have kept those visitors if you had just reduced your website’s load time.
By neglecting something so important, you are losing a significant amount of money and will continue to lose revenue until you tackle this problem.
Why Speed Matters
Speed matters first because it is one aspect of an efficient, high-functioning website. Nowadays, when most people access the Internet on the go from mobile devices, site speed has become especially important.
But site speed also matters because people’s attention spans are getting increasingly shorter. Data shows that almost half of all internet users expect website pages to load in less than two seconds. If your site takes longer than three seconds to load, 40% of users will move on. And speed matters to Google.
Ever since the introduction of Google’s Mobile-First Index, site speed is Google’s official ranking factor. This means slow load time means decreased rankings, hence poor site visibility.
Site speed has a huge effect on usability and conversions. If people are leaving because your site is too slow, they are not converting.
No wonder many companies are focusing on improving site speed nowadays. Pathwwway, a product design and development growth-oriented company, names load time any business’s top priority.
For these reasons, web developers say that increasing site speed is “an essential skill for any website owner.”
Here’s an extensive list of strategies for speeding up WordPress (WP) websites in particular.
Evaluate Your Site
First, you should objectively test the speed of your site. To do so, you can use GTmetrix or Pingdom, both of which provide a detailed analysis of what (if anything) is causing your site to lag.
These tools measure if your site is too slow and you can also use them to continually monitor its performance. Remember that your goal should be for your pages to load in under two seconds. Faster than that is even better.
Have a Good Foundation
Make sure that you have a good hosting provider. Most likely your best bet is to opt for a virtual private server (VPS).
Shared hosting will slow you down too much, and a dedicated server probably has more power than you need and is too expensive.
You should also consider managed WordPress hosting created especially for WP sites. With managed hosting, you won’t have to be responsible for the technical aspects of your site.
Keep this same mentality when selecting your theme.
Choose one that only has what you need, keeping it as lightweight as possible. One strategy is to opt for a minimal theme and then add plug-ins to add additional functionality.
You might also consider utilizing a content delivery network (CDN).
The closer a server is to a user, the faster the loading time will be. A CDN takes your static files and distributes them on various servers across the world so that your site is closer to people than it would have been otherwise.
There are even solutions that will allow you to host parts of your site through a CDN. Some CDN resources you can check out are:
- Amazon Cloudfront
- Jetpack (a plugin)
- WOT Cache
Updates and Maintenance
It should go without saying that you should keep all of the elements of your site as up to date as possible.
This includes everything from HTML and PHP to your theme and plug-ins.
Your hosting provider is responsible for your site’s primary updates, but you should still keep an eye on them.
The more up to date your technology is, the more secure your site will be and the more efficiently it will run.
Clean up your database as it gets bloated with data you aren’t actually using. You should eliminate anything you aren’t using (plug-ins, widgets, etc.).
Other Tactics for Decreasing Loading Time
Speeding up your site is about enabling it to do as little as possible. With this principle in mind, consider doing the following:
- Don’t host videos on your site – auto-embed them
- Compress your images and your website files
- Reduce server requests (e.g., limit how many posts you show on each page, break comments and posts into pages, implement lazy loading for images)
- Allow caching, WP Rocket is a great WP Caching plugin.
- Concatenate files (i.e., combine them into one larger file)
- Minify files
- Limit what you can (such as post revisions, buttons, and widgets)
- Deactivate pingbacks and trackbacks
- Include an expires header in your static resources (this determines the length of time a visitor’s browser caches content)
- Optimize CSS delivery
- Prioritize above the fold content
Use a Web Design Platform Made for Site Speed
If your current content management system or theme is giving you a bad time, speed-wise, switch as soon as possible. Don’t try to fix or adjust. Use a website builder that gets it.
Duda is a solid example of an agency-friendly website building platform built from the ground up to minimize load times. Duda CTO Amir Glatt even published a detailed article describing what they have done to get Duda’s infrastructure as aligned as possible with Google’s best practices for page speed, achieving better scores than Wix, Weebly and even the mighty WordPress.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
It’s old news that people are using mobile more and more for all of their online activities. Not only does your site need to load quickly but it also needs to load quickly on smartphones. Because of the widespread use of mobile, Google has released Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which is “a whole new way of creating web pages and effectively changes the mobile web.”
AMP is open-source software designed to boost loading speeds on mobile devices. Even before AMP, Google took steps to favour mobile-friendly sites. So the better your site’s mobile-friendliness, the better it’s ranking.
Test, Audit, Fix
Testing, monitoring and auditing how your site performs should be done on a continuous basis. Your site might be generating errors any minute due to redesign, new features, new sections/products being added, seasonal traffic spikes, suddenly social media success, etc.
Serpstat is an advanced SEO platform that can help with auditing your website and alerting you of errors on a regular basis. It will break loading speed issues into two groups for you to easily prioritize:
- High priority
- Middle priority
It will also provide explanations for each item they are checking for you to better understand any issue and easily delegate the task to a non-SEO team member.
Everyone Benefits from Fast Loading Speed
No matter what area of life we’re talking about, people appreciate having experiences that are orderly, seamless, and fast.
Optimizing your site for speed will set you ahead of the majority of websites on the internet. The result will be that you lose fewer visitors and increase your revenue.
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