Keep Your Car Safe From Mother Nature

Mother Nature has it out for you your car, that is. The moment you bring your vehicle home from the dealership, the assault has begun. Sun, rain, snow, hail, dust, birds, debris, pollution, and a host of other elements and items can doom your new car look in no time. What can you do? Fight back, that’s how. Let’s take a look at some smart ways you can protect your vehicles finish and keep it from looking old before its time.

Wash and wax. Okay, so you don’t have a hose handy. If you go to the car wash, make sure that it is brushless, otherwise, the circular marks on your finish will certainly do a number on the appearance of your car in no time. As far as waxing your vehicle, polishes made by popular brands including Turtle Wax should do the trick. Yes, I know, a friend recommended a particular brand that can give your car a look that is better than new. Go ahead and use itÖjust follow the directions on the bottle precisely!

Keep it covered. Yes, driving down the street with a car cover on your car will certainly get you some attention! I do not recommend that you do that, but having a car cover available for your vehicle makes sense even if you keep your prized possession garaged. Dust and indoor pollution can take its toll even when your car sits in your garage while bird crap, moisture, hail, tree sap, the sun, and small impacts can hurt your cars finish when parked outside. The more layers your car cover has, the better the protection it will offer too. Select one that has mirror pockets for the best fit.

Minor details. Other accessories that offer protection for your vehicle include floor mats and liners, seat covers, vent shades, hood protectors, and brake dust shields. If you carry pets regularly then a pet pad or pet box can protect your interior like nothing else.

When purchasing cleaning products make sure you read all labels carefully. That cleaner you use may not be the best thing for your wheels and the interior of your car should have its own type of cleaner. Check manufacturer’s recommendations to make sure that the product you use is the right one; some cars come with an initial supply of cleaning materials to help you properly treat your brushed aluminum or burl wood interior.

Teaching Your Teen Basic Auto Maintenance

Buying a car is a huge responsibility for an adult and probably a teenagers first real investment. One thing that teens need to learn, besides making car payments, insurance payments, and paying for gas, is how to maintain their car. Sometimes they think they can just get in and go, never thinking about what is going on underneath the hood. It can be a scary, and costly, realization when something goes wrong.

Here is a great checklist for your teen. This is something you should ask them to follow, so they get in the habit of taking great care of their car:

Check Every Month

  • Oil Level
  • Hoses
  • Belts
  • Tire Pressure
  • Coolant/Antifreeze
  • Air Filter
  • Tires

Check Every 3 Months

  • Oil and Oil filter (should be changed at least every 3000 miles)
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Transmission Fluid
  • Battery Terminal and Cables
  • Lights

Check Every 6 Months

  • Wiper Blades
  • Horn
  • Brakes
  • Spare Tire
  • Exhaust System
  • Shocks

Performing maintenance on your car will ensure that it will serve you well many years to come.

What You Should Think About When Buying A Used Car

Buying a used car is almost like a rite of passage. A lot of times, especially with the cost of living so high, a used car is the only option. I have a teen looking into buying a car right now and let me tell you, it has been really stressful. So I listed some advice I was given through research and it has helped tremendously. So I want to pass them onto you.

Get Pre-Approved for Financing

Dealerships have professional finance departments set up to make the whole loan process easier. You can fill out a pre-approval form right on their website, letting you have an idea about what your budget will be. Its a good idea to get pre-approved, so you know exactly what price range you should be looking in.

Factor in Insurance Costs

When I bought my first used car I didn’t think about all of the other fees I would have to pay each month. I bought the car based on my budget and at the end of the month I had $50.00 left. Try buying tags and insurance with that. Needless to say it was a complete nightmare and I ended up almost working myself to death to pay for it. Always factor in your cost of insurance, tags, and any other fees. If you are not sure about what the insurance is going to cost, get a quote online or call your existing insurance company. They will guide you through the process.

Buy Based on Purchase Price, Not on Monthly Payments

Be sure to always negotiate based on the purchase price of the car, and not the monthly payment. Also make sure that you know the “full” purchase price of any car that you buy. There could be extra costs factored into the price including various taxes, car preparation and delivery fees, and dealership costs that you won’t know about unless you ask.

Buy a Car You Can Afford

You can’t just think about the monthly payments or insurance costs. You have to also think about the upkeep. Does the car have parts that are easily available? Will this car need constant Maintenance. If you find your dream car and can afford a mountain of repairs, then by all means buy it. But if you are on a budget and can’t factor in that cost, keep that in mind.

Look at Both New and Used Cars

Cars are built much differently today, than 15 years ago. People are holding onto their cars longer than ever and that has dramatically increased the price of used cars. While buying a used car may be your only option, it would still be viable to look into a new car. You may find it is cheaper in the long run!

Buying a used car doesn’t have to be confusing. Just take your time, get the deal you can afford, and then enjoy that first drive in your “new” car.

Tips For Winter Driving

Winter driving can be hazardous and stressful. Wind, snow, ice and blizzard conditions increase the normal dangers of driving. There is a lot you can do before the winter driving season and during a storm to protect yourself and your family.

Before winter arrives, have your car inspected to be sure it is ready for the road conditions. You can do this yourself or take it to a qualified mechanic. Check the battery, wipers and fluid, thermostat, brakes, ignition system, antifreeze, exhaust system, lights, oil level, heater and defrosters. Make sure everything is in good working order to keep you safe throughout the cold weather.

Check your tires to be sure they are road ready. Install tires that are appropriate for the driving conditions. In moderate amounts of snow, all weather radials will do the job nicely. If you live in a climate where you experience a lot of snow, consider snow tires. These have better tread to deal with snow and ice.

Prepare an emergency kit to keep in the back of your car. This will ensure that you are prepared in the event that you get stuck in the snow. Things to include in the kit:

Ice scraper
Small broom
Small shovel
Kitty litter or a bag of sand (to give traction if you get stuck in snow or ice)
Blankets or a sleeping bag
Flashlight with batteries
Flares or warning triangles
Plastic bags
First aid kit
Tool kit
Jumper cables
Bright cloth to use as a flag
Help sign for back window
Extra hat and gloves
Food and water to sustain you if you get stuck
A book, Bible or Prayer Cards to keep you busy and calm in the event you get stuck.
Charged cell phone (always carry this, especially in the winter)

Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times. This adds weight to the car and will ensure that you won’t run out of gas in the event you get stuck.

Driving in the Snow

Pay attention to the weather forecasts and road conditions in the winter months. If the weather is bad, stay home if at all possible. If you must venture out, travel in the daylight. You are more likely to find help if you get stuck during the day. Never warm up your vehicle in the garage. This releases carbon monoxide, which is toxic and can kill you.

When driving, always wear your seatbelt. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun reflecting off the snow. Know your car and how it handles in the snow. Features like traction control and antilock brakes can be useful in bad weather conditions. Know how these work and if your car is new, practice driving it in a snow covered parking lot before venturing out on the road.

Take it slow, especially in icy conditions. Don’t tailgate and be sure to allow a safe distance between vehicles. Do everything slowly, stopping, accelerating and turning. Leave plenty of time and space to maneuver. Sliding and skidding usually happen when turning, stopping or accelerating. Going extra slow will ensure your safety.

If the visibility is low, slow down even more. Consider getting off highways and driving even slower. This will take you out of the path of large trucks that can cause accidents. Use only your low beams, as your high beams will reflect back off the snow and won’t increase your visibility. Turn on your hazard lights to be sure other drivers see you.

In the event your car gets stuck, don’t get out. Put up the hood and tie your cloth to the antennae. This will make you more visible to emergency vehicles and other drivers. Keep the windows, air grill and tail pipe clear of snow. Wrap up in blankets and huddle up with passengers to stay warm. Run the heat for fifteen minutes each hour to keep from freezing. Move your body around to stay warm.

Keeping your car clean throughout the winter is important. Salt on the roads is important for safety, but will wreak havoc on the finish. If left on for long periods, it can cause rusting. Wash your vehicle weekly to remove salt and wax to protect the paint. Salt also leaves a coating on your headlights that can impair their operation. This will make you less visible to other vehicles. New Lite Headlight Cleaner and Restorer will return the lights to like new condition.

Winter Car Care Tips

 

The cold weather affects your car too. Along with making driving more hazardous due to ice and snow, extreme winter weather can be stressful, especially on older cars.

As winter approaches take your car to your trusty mechanic and have him check the following items: battery, wipers, antifreeze levels, heating system, brakes, defroster.

You’ll want to make sure your battery is fully charged as cold weather starting is a heavy drain on your battery. You’ll want to make sure that your windshield wipers are in good condition as they’ll get a lot of use brushing snow off, and, make sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid in the reservoir and carry an extra gallon in your car. Your windshield washer fluid will get used up quickly keeping salt off the windshield. You will want to make sure that your antifreeze is at proper levels. Antifreeze can prevent freezing of your engine to about 30 degrees below zero. It should be replaced every two years. Have your heating system checked, this will include your defroster, which you’ll really need during the winter.

Make sure you have good winter tires on your car. If you live in an area where you get a good amount of snowfall you may want to make a seasonal change from all season to snow tires. All season radials just don’t give you the same performance in snow and ice that dedicated snow tires do.

There are things that you should keep in your car during the winter. Snow scraper, deicer, blankets, extra hat and mittens, small snow shovel, sand (to help with traction), boots. At all times you should have a small first aid kit, booster cables, small tools such as screwdriver, wrench and pliers a flashlight with extra batteries, extra water. Keep a can of deicer in your home so you’ll be able to get into your car.

Remember before leaving home to make sure your car is completely cleaned off. Clear all snow and ice from your hood, roof, trunk and side. Make sure your headlights and tail lights are clearly visible. Drive slowly. The posted speed limits are for ideal driving conditions. When driving leave plenty of stopping distance between you and the car in front of you. You may need to leave more distance in icy conditions. Make any turns slowly. Brake slowly.

By following these tips above you can have a safe winter driving season.