Staying Visible While Driving This Winter

Heavy-Traffic-On-Snowy-Road

From blowing snow to driving sleet and rain, winter weather conditions can make driving a challenge. Maintaining visibility no matter what the weather throws at you goes a long way to keeping you and your passengers safe on the road.

Being able to see and having others see you takes on increased importance with the types of inclement weather that winter brings. Read on to learn what you can do to keep your lights shining bright all winter long.

BE PREPARED

The time to prepare your vehicle for winter driving is before a single snowflake falls. This means checking your lights on a regular basis to ensure that they are in working condition. Before you pull out of your garage in the morning or when you pull into the garage at night, take a few moments to check your lights.

Your headlights and front turn signals will be reflected on the wall in front of you while taillights, brake lights and rear turn signals will be reflected on the door behind you. Promptly replace any burned out bulbs.

CLEAN YOUR COVERS

Dirt and debris can become caked on your headlights and taillights, reducing their brightness. Take a moment to clean off the headlight and taillight covers with a damp soft rag. During snowstorms, be sure to clear off any snow or ice that may have built up on the headlights or taillights.

Also, over time your covers may become cloudy or yellowed which can diminish the effectiveness of your lights. You may be able to restore them to showroom shine with the help of some common household products like dish soap, baking soda, vinegar or toothpaste.

UPGRADE YOUR HEADLIGHTS

To get a better view of the road, consider upgrading your headlights from the standard bulbs that came on your vehicle. Most vehicles on the road today come standard with halogen headlights. Cost effective, a typical halogen bulb has a lifespan of about 1,000 hours. However, halogen bulbs can be dim as compared to other options. You might think about replacing your headlamps with HID or LED headlights.

High intensity discharge (HID) bulbs are approximately two to three times brighter than standard halogen bulbs. That can make a big difference when you are driving in a snowstorm. HID bulbs not only use less power than halogen bulbs, but they also have a longer lifespan. On average, you can expect to get about 2,000 hours from an HID bulb. Although they cost more than halogen bulbs, they could be a worthy upgrade for your vehicle.

Many car manufacturers are offering a choice between HID light and LED headlights on some models. LED headlights are brighter, have a longer lifespan that can be over 25,000 hours and consume less power than HID headlights. However, they’re much more expensive than HID lights. As prices decrease, expect to see more vehicles come standard with LED headlights. Note that aftermarket LED conversion kits are available, but beware of cheap, low-quality kits.

SWITCH TO LED TAILLIGHTS

Make sure other drivers can see you from behind by replacing your standard taillight and brake light bulbs with LED bulbs. In low-visibility situations, the brighter light that LED bulbs emit can help approaching drivers see you sooner.

As with LED headlights, LED taillights are energy-efficient and use less power. They also have an impressive lifespan of up to 10 years. Because LED bulbs light up faster than traditional bulbs, they can give that driver behind you a little extra time and distance to avoid an accident if you have to suddenly hit the brakes.

 

Taking A Road Trip With A Teenager During The Holidays? Here Are Some Tips To Stay Sane

You would think that when your kids get to be around 13 or 14 road trips would be so much better. They can feed themselves, tell you when they have to go to the bathroom, read, and occupy themselves. They should be used to sitting in the car and deal with it.

You would think..but you would be wrong. They get bored like anyone and sometimes all that teenage angst just comes out. It is enough to drive you crazy. BUT I have tips to help you keep your teens sane and occupied!

DVD Player

If you don’t have a DVD player in your car bring a portable, complete with headphones. Bring a lot of movies because you never know what they may want to watch. Just because they love Star Wars right now, doesn’t mean they will when you leave.

iTunes or Google Play Gift Card

A great way to keep your teen occupied is with new music or apps for their phone. Something new always guarantees at least 2 hours of peace.

Books

Books are a great way to pass the time. If you have a book lover surprise them with some new titles or with a gift card to Amazon so they can buy their own.

Handheld Game System

When all else fails whip out the handheld game system with some teen-friendly games. They will have fun and you will too because then you can read your own book you brought!

Traveling with teens is totally different than traveling with kids but with a little planning it can be a great experience!

How To Tell If Your Car Needs A Tune Up

f your engine misfires, hesitates, stalls, gets poor mileage, is hard to start or has failed an emissions test, it clearly needs something, though a tune-up in the traditional sense might not be the cure.

If you tell a repair shop you need a tune-up, the mechanic should ask why you feel you need one before recommending any service. Just like a doctor should ask what symptoms you’re experiencing, a mechanic should seek to diagnose the problem. And just as a doctor may recommend some tests, a mechanic may do the same.

You can speed the process by being ready to describe what happens and when (such as whether your car hesitates when the engine is cold or when passing at highway speeds), any sounds you hear and what you feel when your car’s “illness” shows up.

One caution about lower fuel economy: You should expect it to go down at least a little during the cold months, and maybe a lot. Colder temperatures make your engine and charging system work harder. In addition, winter gasoline blends have slightly less energy content than summer blends, so they don’t deliver as many miles per gallon. A tune-up won’t make Old Man Winter, or his effects, go away.

What are symptoms that might make you think you need a tune-up?

* A misfiring engine (when spark plugs ignite at the wrong time) could be caused by worn or fouled spark plugs. Bad spark plugs can also cause low fuel economy, hard starting and sluggish acceleration. Most plugs, though, should last 100,000 miles or more, and engine computers do a remarkable job of compensating for worn plugs, so that might not be the main or only culprit.


* A dirty or clogged engine air filter is more likely to reduce acceleration than fuel economy, according to tests conducted by the EPA. Because filters get dirty gradually over time, you might not notice a small but steady loss of performance until your car is accelerating like a turtle. But if you haven’t changed the filter in a couple of years (or sooner in areas that have a lot of soot in the air), that could be part of the problem.

* Engine deposits caused by low-quality or contaminated gasoline create drivability problems, and the cure for that might be a fuel system cleaning, either by a repair shop or with a gas-tank additive.

* An illuminated check engine light signals when something is amiss in the emissions control system, but depending on what the issue is it could also affect fuel economy or engine performance, so don’t ignore it. A faulty oxygen sensor, for example, leaves the engine computer in the dark about how to set the air-fuel mixture, and that can result in poor fuel economy.

* An old oxygen sensor (say, 90,000 miles or more) may still work well enough that it doesn’t trigger the check engine light but could still hurt fuel economy. Engine performance can also be reduced by more serious internal problems, such as valves that don’t seat properly or worn piston rings, or by restrictions in the exhaust system.

Because the same symptoms can suggest different problems, and there are often several possible causes and cures, it’s better to consult a professional mechanic than to try to be one if you have neither the experience nor the right equipment to diagnose drivability problems.In short, rather than ask for a tune-up, tell a mechanic what you’re experiencing and ask him or her to find the cause.

Simple Tips To Keep Your Car In Tip Top Shape

A car is an expensive investment, so knowing how to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape can save you tons of money. Overall, the cost of owning a car is a lot higher than many might think – there is the cost of car insurance, taxes, interest on the car loan, repairs, fuel costs, and the cost of the vehicle itself. By implementing all or some of these car care tips, you can begin to save a significant amount of time and money.

Just a little time spent on research can save you future repairs and tons of money. You don’t need to be mechanically savvy to detect common vehicle problems. You just need to be able to use your sense of smell and sight.

Take a Look Around

Are there stains under your vehicle? Do you see drips? They may not be a problem but if you see wet spots, it can be a symptom of something far more serious. What color is the liquid you are seeing? Is it blue, orange, yellowish green? Then it could indicate a radiator leak, damage from an overheated engine, or a water pump that needs repairs. Leaks such as these should be addressed quickly.

Black oily fluid or dark brown could indicate an oil leak on the engine. A bad gasket or seal can cause this type of leak. These types of repairs can quickly run into a lot of money so it’s a good idea to take your vehicle to a mechanic you trust.

A red oily spot could indicate power steering fluid leak or transmission leak. Sometimes you will see clear liquid, which is usually just condensation and nothing to worry about. If you see light smoke coming from your wheel while you are driving it could mean you have a brake that’s stuck and you should pull over. Any type of smoke means you need to see a mechanic regarding a vehicle repair.

Put Your Nose to Work Don’t be afraid to sniff around and see if you can detect a problem with your vehicle. If you smell burned toast it may be burning insulation or an electrical short. Don’t risk driving it. If you have a rotten egg smell it’s likely the catalytic converter and it will need to be repaired.

A thick sharp odor is often a symptom of burning oil. Have a look under the car to see if you can spot a leak. You may also see a bluish smoke coming from your vehicle’s tailpipe – you need to have this looked at as soon as possible.

If you smell gas after your vehicle fails to start the engine may have become flooded. Wait a few minutes and try again. If you continue to notice a gas odor you may have a leak somewhere in your fuel system, which can be dangerous, so have your vehicle taken to a mechanic as soon as possible. These simple tips will help to alert you of a potential problem with your vehicle that should be addressed.

Be A Good Car Owner And Keep Your Car Serviced

Tires

Use all-season tires. These tires should carry you safely from season to season, but it is imperative that you check the tires regularly for wear or damage. Ideally, tires should be checked on a weekly basis. If you live somewhere that there is a lot of snow and ice, winter tires are a must.

Brakes
The brake system serves one main purpose: to slow down or stop the car when it is needed. If you step on the brake pedal and it goes all the way to the floor, you’ve got trouble. Late model automobiles are equipped with a brake warning light. This dashboard indicator will light up if something is wrong with your brake system. If your brake warning light indicates trouble, it is imperative that you check the brake system immediately. Consult your owner’s manual for maintenance advice, and call an experienced mechanic for repairs. Brake repairs or replacements are no jobs for a weekend or hobby mechanic.

Headlights
In 2005, over 2,300 pedestrians died because drivers suffered eye problems or had faulty headlights in the automobiles. Properly maintained vehicle headlights help you drive safely, and see more clearly. Replace your headlight bulbs at least once per year.

Wipers
Many people don’t think of changing their wiper blades until it is too late. This is one of the easiest and most inexpensive parts of the car to maintain. Change your wiper blades twice a year, in the spring and just before winter.

There are 10 common reasons why automobile owners visit the mechanic:

1. Electronic/Ignition control
2. Suspension/steering
3. Electrical problem
4. Brake system
5. Oil change/filters/lube
6. Exhaust system
7. Radiator repairs
8. Fuel system/carburetor
9. Clutch/transmission
10. Air conditioning system

Routine check-ups and proper maintenance of a car be expensive, and budget restrictions are often the leading factors in keeping car owners from living up to their responsibilities. This does not need to be a problem. The key is in knowing how to save on car maintenance and repairs. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) confirmed that $20 billion has been wasted on unnecessary auto repairs due to fraud and incompetence.

If your car is not performing to its full potential, remember the following tips to help you save money on repairs:

Preventive Maintenance
Be your car’s best friend, and you can save a bundle. By conducting regular preventative maintenance, such as regular oil changes and radiator flushes, you prevent unnecessary damage to the car and save a lot of money in the long run. Regular check-ups by a qualified repairperson will keep your car running better, longer.

Conserve
Even automobiles need to take a break now and then. If you drive your car every day the miles will add up quickly, and damage can occur prematurely. To avoid this, consider carpooling with friends and coworkers. Ask around to form your own carpool group. You’ll all save on maintenance, and you’ll be able to pool your fuel and parking expenses.

Estimate
Before choosing a mechanic to repair your car, be sure to get a written estimate. If the mechanic wants more than your budget can afford, shop around. Compare estimates to find the best deal. Just be sure that you are paying for quality service.

Do It Yourself
You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish after doing a little research. Read over your owner’s manual from time to time. Learn as much as you can about your car. Understand potential problems and how to solve them. For example, that mysterious clunking noise might be bothersome but could be as simple to fix as tightening a bolt. Regular maintenance tasks like oil changes and radiator flushes are fairly easy to do if you understand your vehicle and take the time to do the job properly.

As an automobile owner, you have a responsibility to keep your car properly maintained at all times. Consider it an investment in your car’s future, and remember that it could save a life.