Grundy Classic Car Insurance – A Review

May 16th, 2010

Specialty insurance from a classic car insurance company offers a number of benefits for those who own and drive antique or collector cars.  Companies that specialize in antique car insurance can offer better coverage with lower premiums than a standard auto insurance company can, but the better coverage and lower premiums come with some restrictions.  There are a lot of points to consider when choosing a classic auto insurance provider and policy, so it is important that you do your homework in order to find the antique auto insurance provider that is the best fit for you.

 


 

Grundy Worldwide is one insurance company that specializes in collector car insurance.  They have been in business since 1947 in Horsham, PA just north of Philadelphia.  Since their beginning, Grundy Classic Car Insurance has covered over 1.5 million collector vehicles, and they are one of the fastest growing classic car insurance companies.  The owner is a car collector and restorer himself, having won awards at several of the major collector car events in the US.  His involvement in the hobby helps him to understand the wants and needs of other automotive enthusiasts.

Grundy Classic Car Insurance is the originator of the Agreed Value policy, in which the insurance company and the vehicle owner set an agreed value on the vehicle before the policy is initiated.  If there is a total loss, the vehicle owner receives the full value of the car, instead of what the insurance company decides the vehicle was worth after the fact.  Grundy will insure any year vehicle, even late model cars as long as they are used for show, hobby and pleasure purposes only.  Many other collector auto insurance companies will only write policies for vehicles of a certain age or older.

Grundy only uses underwriters with an A.M. Best rating of A+ or higher, which means the companies are very stable financially.  They offer liability up to one million dollars, and have a single liability charge for collectors with more than one vehicle, which lowers the total premium.  Grundy’s antique auto insurance policies have a number of built-in coverage perks, which include towing and labor expenses, car show medical reimbursement, automatic 30-day coverage for new acquisitions, and coverage for the loss of spare parts.  They even have “Trip Interruption” coverage for costs incurred from a breakdown on the way to a show (such as transportation, lodging, and meal expenses).  One feature that Grundy provides that many others do not is their “Inflation Guard”, which automatically increases the amount your vehicle is insured for by 4% each year to help cover inflation.

 

 
Like any other vintage car insurance provider, Grundy has some restrictions.  Your vehicle must be stored inside a locked garage when not in use; you must have a daily driver for each licensed driver in your household in addition to the classic vehicle; and the vehicle must be in excellent condition.  The vehicle should only be used for collector activities, exhibits and parades, but one feature that sets Grundy apart from many other antique auto insurance providers is that they do not have a mileage limitation.  Many other antique classic car insurance companies have limits ranging from 1,000 miles up to 6,000 miles per year, but with Grundy’s coverage you can drive the vehicle to as many distant car shows as you like without worrying about exceeding a yearly mileage limit.

Grundy also offers specialty insurance for restoration shops and professional car builders.  It provides Agreed Value coverage for the Garagekeepers portion of the policy, instead of the Actual Cash Value coverage that other providers offer.  Since they don’t offer this policy to mainstream collision repair shops, the premiums are lower than they would be for the often inadequate protection a specialty shop gets from a standard insurance provider.

Grundy Classic Car insurance has a lot to offer for the car collector.  Whether you need muscle car insurance, antique car insurance, or collector car insurance for a late model specialty vehicle, Grundy can provide an Agreed Value policy that will most likely suit your needs.  However, they are just one of many different classic auto insurance providers out there.  Do some research on several different specialty insurance providers to find the one that is right for you.

To learn more about classic car insurance, visit American Classic Car Insurance. For directory of the most popular specialty car insurance providers, go to Classic Car Insurance Companies.

Overdrive Transmissions – The Top Five Benefits

April 11th, 2010

Prior to the 1980s, most domestic cars and light trucks had transmissions with a 1:1 ratio in high gear, which means that the car’s driveshaft will turn the same speed as the engine.  This 1:1 ratio served us well for fifty years or more.  As oil prices rose and the country as a whole became increasingly concerned about the amount of air pollution coming from our vehicles, automakers began to look towards overdrive transmissions as part of the solution.

With an overdrive transmission, the top gear is less than a 1:1 ratio, which means that the driveshaft will turn at a faster speed than the engine.  For example, if you have a car without overdrive and a 1:1 top gear ratio, a 3.08 axle ratio, and a 26″ tall tire, your engine speed at 70 MPH is about 2750 RPM.  The typical overdrive in a domestic car is about a 0.70:1 ratio, which means that in top gear the driveshaft will turn 42.9% faster than engine speed (1 divided by 0.70 = 1.42).  In the same car with an overdrive transmission and a 0.70:1 top gear ratio, engine speed at 70 MPH is reduced to 1925 RPM!

This reduction in engine speed has several benefits:

1.)  Lower fuel consumption – on the highway, your engine will use roughly one-third less fuel.

2.)  Lower emissions – on the highway, your engine will emit roughly one-third less pollution.

3.)  Longer engine life – all other things being equal, your engine theoretically has a life that consists of a certain number of revolutions.  You are going the same distance as before, but using fewer of those revolutions to get there.

4.)  Longer accessory life – your water pump, alternator, power steering pump, A/C compressor, and smog pump (if equipped) are all turning at a lower RPM and should last longer.

5)  Less cabin noise – an engine turning at a lower RPM will be quieter, making the trip less stressful.  It is easier to have a conversation, and you can actually hear the radio!

There are a few minor trade-offs, though.  The engine will have less power for passing and going up hills when the transmission is in high gear, so downshifting will be necessary at times.  Most overdrive transmissions are slightly heavier than their non-overdrive counterparts, too, but this difference is negligible in most cases.

All in all, overdrive transmissions have been one of the biggest improvements to be made to domestic cars in the last thirty years.  They have made a larger difference in highway fuel economy than fuel injection and computerized engine controls.  There are a number of companies such as Keisler Engineering that have made a good business out of providing overdrives to retrofit into classic musclecars and street rods!  Given the benefits of overdrive transmissions, my biggest question is why the automakers didn’t offer them sooner!

Classic Car Driveline Vibration Troubleshooting Part 2 – Tips and Tricks

March 29th, 2010

A driveline vibration can be tricky to diagnose, because you can’t get under the car and see what is going on while it is driving down the road at 60 MPH.  If you have read my Part One article, you have a pretty good way of narrowing down the list of possibilities based on if the vibration is engine speed related, vehicle speed related, or engine load related.  Here are some other considerations to keep in mind when diagnosing a classic car vibration.

The first thing to consider is the overall current situation.  If this is a new build that has never been run before, then everything is suspect.  You may have total faith in your engine builder, but could one of his tools be out of calibration?  Is the engine supposed to be externally balanced, and you ordered the correct flywheel but actually received one for an internally balanced engine?

Are your driveshaft angles out of spec?  Could you possibly have a defective pinion or axle bearing, a bent axle, a warped wheel, or a tire out of balance?  Is your exhaust touching the body or another component at any point?  Are all the suspension bolts, body to frame bolts, and steering linkage nuts/bolts tight?

If this is a modified car, there are so many more things to think about.  If you have 1968 Camaro (my favorite year!) with a Detroit Speed subframe, a late model LS3 engine with home-made engine mount towers, a Keisler transmission, a Currie 9″ rear end, and a Hotchkis rear spring and shock package, there are a number of different opportunities for incompatibility. Not to mention the fact that the car is almost 40 years old and the production tolerances back then were considerably “looser” than they are now.

Aftermarket companies usually design their parts to fit a completely stock car, and their parts will usually fit an otherwise unmodified car very well.  When you start to combine aftermarket parts from different manufacturers, you sometimes run into driveline vibration problems.  The aftermarket front end may be designed to improve cornering ability, which changes some geometry that the aftermarket transmission system also changes due to tunnel interference with the transmission. Then the rear end manufacturer also takes a few liberties with their design to make the rear end fit several different cars, and the rear suspension supplier modifies the geometry for maximum traction when drag racing.

Each part by itself works perfectly with an otherwise stock car, but when all are combined you can end up with a car where the transmission touches the car body and the driveline angles are unacceptable.  This of course isn’t always the case, but if you run into a driveline vibration problem on a heavily modified car you need to take this possibility into account.

If it is a recent restoration that was vibration-free before, then first look at anything that was changed, and the relationship all those components have with other systems on the car.  If you just swapped a Ford 9″ rearend into your Chevy, the rearend itself may be fine, but you could have altered the driveshaft angles.  An angle that was barely acceptable before might be slightly beyond the limit now, creating a driveline vibration.

Sometimes you have to “think outside the box”.  I once corrected a “vibration” in a two year old, 25,000 mile Buick Lesabre that had a vibration complaint since day one.  It had been to three different dealerships, where they had rebalanced and replaced the tires and wheels several times, had multiple wheel alignments, and even had the shocks and struts replaced.

I noticed on a test drive that the vibration was only in the steering wheel.  I could not feel it in the seats, the armrests or the dash, or see it in the mirrors.  I took it back to the shop and ran over some speed bumps at about 10 MPH to see what happened, and the steering wheel moved about three inches up and down!

I was a service writer at the time, and all of the technicians refused to believe that the steering column could be loose from the factory, so none of them would work on it.  I dug into the dash and found that two of the four bolts that secure the steering column to the dash were about three turns shy of being even finger tight!  It had come that way from the factory, and none of the previous technicians had taken the time to pay attention to what was actually happening with the car.  I tightened the loose bolts, and I had a customer for life!  Sometimes you have to open your mind a little, and throw all assumptions out the window.

The bottom line is to take your time and consider all the possibilities.  Assess the overall situation, drive the car, and think about what is happening.  Don’t make any assumptions, and realize that aftermarket parts from different reputable companies aren’t always designed to work with each other.  Have an open mind, and with patience any driveline vibration problem can be diagnosed and corrected.

Classic Car Driveline Vibration Troubleshooting Part 1 – The Three Types of Driveline Vibration

March 25th, 2010

There are a number of different possible causes for a driveline vibration.  Your wheels, tires, axles, driveshaft, transmission, clutch or torque converter, flywheel or flex plate, and engine components are all rotating at a high rate of speed. Any one or more of these components can create a vibration if they are worn or out of spec.

Worn or broken engine or transmission mounts can transmit normal vibrations that usually aren’t ever felt, and accidental body contact with the engine, transmission, or exhaust could also be misinterpreted as a driveshaft vibration.  The first step in diagnosing a classic car vibration is to determine exactly when and under what conditions the vibration occurs.

 
There are three basic types of vibrations:

1. Engine RPM related – If the driveline vibration is related to engine RPM, it will occur in all gears (and possibly even sitting still) at a particular engine RPM or above.  This vibration usually can be attributed to the engine itself or anything else that turns at the same speed as the engine, such as the harmonic balancer, flywheel or flexplate, pilot bearing, pressure plate, torque converter, or transmission input shaft.

It is also possible for body contact with the engine, transmission, or exhaust to cause an engine RPM related vibration.  Worn or broken engine or transmission mounts can contribute to this problem.  When driving the vehicle with the vibration present, maintain vehicle speed and try shifting to a lower or higher gear.  If the vibration changes or goes away while maintaining the same vehicle speed, then the problem is not related to engine RPM.

2. Vehicle Speed related – If the vibration is related to vehicle speed, it will not be present until you reach a certain speed, and then it will usually start gradually and then become worse as speed increases.  In some cases, it will decrease at some point, and then come back again at a higher speed.  This type of driveline vibration could be related to your wheels, tires, axles, differential, driveshaft runout, balance, or angles, universal joints, or transmission output shaft.

Try the same driving test as above.  If the vibration is present in third gear at 50 mph, but shifting to fourth gear at 50 MPH makes the vibration go away, then it is not going to be vehicle speed related and you can usually rule out any rotating component that is further back than the transmission output shaft.  At a given MPH, your output shaft, driveshaft, axles, wheels and tires are all turning at a constant speed, no matter what gear the transmission is in.

3. Accel/Decel/Cruise related –  A vibration that changes depending on whether you are accelerating, decelerating, or cruising at a steady speed could have quite a few different causes.  Generally, this will be related to driveshaft angles or a worn or broken part, instead of something being out of balance.

Think about what changes when the engine is under load.  The engine and isolator mount loads shift; the load on the pinion bearing changes; your driveshaft angles change, possibly more than they should due to a broken engine or transmission mount; your exhaust, shifter, transmission, etc. could be contacting the body only on accel or decel; if the car has been lowered (or raised), your suspension snubbers could be contacting the body prematurely.

 
A vehicle works as a system, and you have to understand the relationships between all the different parts when you are trying to diagnose a vibration.  Determining if the driveline vibration is related to engine speed, vehicle speed, or engine load will help you narrow down the list of possible culprits, and keep you from wasting your time looking in the wrong places.