The Internet has been a very real miracle. I remember what it took to get information about cars and available options back in the days before the Internet. It was tough. You would find every magazine you could and scour the classified ads for something to do with your car. You would find obscure automotive newspapers like Competition Press (later to become Autoweek) for more information. Of course there was the “word of mouth” with always came across as gospel, but often lacked any meaningful substance.
The Internet isn’t perfect, but it is far less imperfect than what there was prior to its existence. One of the really great things is the diversity of sites of value to automotive enthusiasts. Since I revel in automotive re-engineering I have collected a few sites that I have found valuable and interesting.
In a previous post I offered the Miata Tire Size Calculator (http://www.miata.net/garage/tirecalc.html).
There is the Bob is the Oil Guy site (http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/). It not only provides information on oil, but all kinds of lubricants.
Oil analysis is an important part of vehicle maintenance particularly if it involves a performance vehicle like a race car or you just want to get the most out of your favorite ride. I have used Blackstone Labs for several years and am very happy with their service (http://www.blackstone-labs.com/). There are other companies out there, this happens to be the one I like.
While you are reading up on oil maybe you should read about gasoline? Here is an FAQ site on petrol: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/autos/gasoline-faq/part1/
Mopar fans will appreciate the Mini-Mopar site, but in-particular is the Oil Filter Study (http://minimopar.knizefamily.net/) which is a real eye opener.
Stop Tech has an excellent site of white papers on brakes and brake upgrades. It is a must see: http://www.stoptech.com/tech_info/tech_white_papers.shtml
Radar busters is another commercial site, but a good one for those of us that can get carried away with the joys of driving in a spirited manner on public roads (http://www.radarbusters.com/). along the same lines, but not commercial, is Speed Trap (http://www.speedtrap.org/).
If you are interested in racing or at least HPDE (high performance driving experience) track days you should know about these sites: http://www.racerpartswholesale.com/ and http://www.saferacer.com/. There are lots of these sites, but these two happen to be my favorites for now.
One very clever guy solved the problem of bleeding brakes with a very neat invention – Speed Bleeders – and here is his site: http://www.speedbleeder.com/.
Ever wonder how to do a compression test? The tool needed is easy to find and purchase and this “how to” will allow you to operate it like a professional. http://www.geocities.com/dsmgrrrl/FAQs/compression.htm. It was put together by a woman who’s home page should be read by all.
If you ever want to look up the cost of a new car, the value of a used car, or want to see how others have rated a particular car you should already know to go to two sites: http://www.kbb.com/ and http://www.edmunds.com/.
There are many many forums out there for specific makes and models of cars. Enthusiasts and owners have really leveraged the Internet. These forums can be very helpful in spreading knowledge about known weaknesses and strengths, as well as allowing you to socialize with other fanatics. Some forums are better run than others and sometimes the information shared is not worth the electrons it took to post it, but for the most part they are interesting and fun.
If you want to search for a forum specific to your interests you can certainly use Google, but try out Copernic at www.copernic.com.