Keep Your Car In Check This Winter

Welcome to Winter! Snow, ice, and cold can be especially challenging to the body and mind, as well as to important items in your life, including your car. Is your vehicle ready for winter? If not, there are some things you can do to help ensure that your car will start on cold mornings and survive even the nastiest winter weather.

Check under the hood. Make sure that your battery and all of its connections are clean and fastened; hoses and belts securely in place; your oil and oil filter changes up to date; your air filter clean; the radiator flushed and refilled; and your engine well tuned. One of the biggest contributors to a car not starting is the battery. If it is old and needs to be replaced, do it now before you take that long trip.

Look at the windshield. Besides obvious cracks in your windshield which you can have replaced, make certain that the wiper bay is free of debris. Ice and snow can freeze your wipers in place making them completely ineffective. Never pour hot water on a windshield to remove ice. You will remove ice all right and crack the glass in the process!

Observe the tires. Properly inflated all season tires are usually all that you need for winter driving. In some areas, however, chains may be required. Keep a set in your trunk for emergency purposes.

Carry an emergency kit. It doesnít take much to get stranded during winter. Even the best-maintained vehicle can get caught in a snow bank or stuck in a ditch. Carrying a fully charged cell phone for emergency purposes is essential when driving anywhere uninhabited. The following items should be a part of an emergency kit you have stored in your vehicle at all times:

*Flash light with spare batteries
*Jumper cables
*Tire chains
*Ice scraper/brush
*Sand or kitty litter for traction
*Auto tools
*Wire coat hanger
*Flares
*Candles, matches
*Distress sign
*Medical kit
*Gas line antifreeze; ice lock antifreeze spray

If you frequently travel back roads and find yourself in remote areas, carrying an extra set of hats, gloves, and coats as well as several blankets is wise. Some people carry chocolate with them at all times which can be a great [and delicious!] energy booster as well as fresh water [donít leave it in the car as it will get frozen].

If you find yourself stuck in snow, make sure that the exhaust pipe is free of all snow if you run your car while idling. Keep a window cracked open to allow for air to circulate; turn the engine off every ten minutes for a half hour or more to prevent carbon monoxide build up inside of the car.

You can survive the hazards of winter by taking a little extra care and caution. Properly equip your car today to ensure that your next trip is a safe one regardless of the prevailing road and weather conditions.

Winterizing Your Car

 

Depending on where you live, getting your car ready for winter may be a matter of chaining up your tires or simply flicking on the heater. There are some basic tips in terms of preparing your vehicle for winter that can help in most conditions, however, and can ensure that you can avoid those slippery moments on the sleet, ice, snow, and slush of even the harshest of winters.

The first thing you’ll need to do is be sure that your car has been serviced and has had its oil changed. It is always best to service your vehicle regularly. Have a full service done about every 30,000 miles or so, depending on manufacturers specifications. The best way to determine this is to check your owner’s manual for more information about oil changes and regular check-ups and servicing. As your car is being serviced, ensure that the coolant is flushed and the coolant is replaced with a product suitable for the environment in which you will be driving. Your car needs different coolant for winter than summer, of course.

Also replace the windshield wiper blades. Your wiper blades will be your best friend during those snowy nights on the road and you’ll need to ensure that you can properly see the road. Windshield washer fluid should be fully topped up as well and should be up to manufacturers specifications. Regular water can and will freeze, so avoid using water for wiper fluid.

The battery should be serviced. The posts and terminal ends should be checked by a professional and any water should be added if necessary. The battery should also be load-tested and its ability to hold a charge should be monitored. If the battery is more than four and a half years old, it is recommended to change it before the winter months strike.

Check your tire pressure. This will ensure that your tires have enough pressure to handle the road. Tires may become low as the temperature drops, as the air in your tires can contract due to the temperature. This is also a good time to ensure that you have a good set of all-season tires or winter tires with plenty of tread for the road. Also double check that your spare tire is, first and foremost, in the trunk and, second, filled with enough air. You should also have all of the proper tire-changing equipment in the trunk for effective servicing should you need to change your tire.

Check your lights, heater, and defroster for good, solid operation. Keep your gas tank as full as possible at all times so that you can give your vehicle more weight and so that you don’t run the risk of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere. This will also help prevent moisture from forming in the gas lines. Along with this, have your brakes checked by a professional.

Finally, make sure you pack an emergency kit for the cold weather. This should include a good pair of gloves, a warm jacket, a blanket, extra boots, an ice scraper, snow shovel, flashlight, and some kitty litter for getting out of slippery situations by providing traction. By using these tips, you should be able to survive the winter on the roads and enjoy a happy and safe holiday season.

Choosing Winter Tires For Driving

Choosing the right tires is one of the most important decisions we have to make in regards to our personal transportation. It is of utmost importance during the winter, when in many areas the presence of ice and snow on roadways creates a deadly hazard. It is not a difficult process if you have the necessary information.

The very first thing you should do is check your vehicle owners manual to find the manufacturer specifications for the types and sizes of tires recommended by them.

Next, mount the appropriate mud and snow tires on your vehicle to help guard against the slickness of winter roads, these tires can be used anywhere as long as they do not have metal studs on them.
If you live in an area where ice is common in the winter, be sure to use the metal-stud tires that are available and keep your other tires(if they are in good condition) for the end of winter season as these metal stud tires are only allowed during the winter season and are banned in 10 states.

Another key to remember is to make sure that all of the snow tires you equip your vehicle with are of the same size, type and tread. This is particularly important if your vehicle is front wheel drive where using mismatched rear wheels may result in a loss of traction when braking on the icy roads of winter.

When choosing tires be aware that equipping your vehicle with oversized tires that are larger than those recommended by the manufacturer make result in difficulty steering and can rub the fender wells or suspension underneath.

As a rule, snow tires are manufactured with large empty areas in their tread so that they will have more traction on snow than normal tires where regular all season type tires are more concerned with marrying a quiet ride with a modicum of traction.

Another time tested method that can be used when conditions warrant is the use of tire chains. Installing tire chains can increase traction as much as 200%. Again, make sure that these chains are of the right size and type for your particular tire as the wrong chains can cause the tires to fail.

Following the preceding tips will help you to safeguard you and your family in the upcoming winter season.

Checking The Anti-Freeze In Your Vehicle

One of the easiest and most important tasks to prepare your vehicle for winter driving is to inspect the level and freshness of your vehicle’s antifreeze.

The Car Care Council recommends that motorists check their antifreeze every 12 months or 12,000 miles to help protect the engine from freezing and overheating as well as from rust and corrosion damage.

The most common formulation of antifreeze is green in color and uses ethylene glycol as a base with anti-corrosion additives mixed in. Ethylene glycol lowers the freezing point and raises the boiling point of the radiator fluid to keep the water from freezing on cold days and from boiling over on hot days.

Over time, these additives wear out, lessening their ability to protect vital engine and cooling system metals against rust and corrosion. Your vehicle owner’s manual will provide antifreeze usage specifications.

“Inspecting and maintaining your vehicle’s cooling system takes just a few minutes of your time, but it is well worth it when you consider what could happen,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “Cooling system failure is the leading cause of engine related breakdowns, which can cost thousands of dollars and leave you and your family stranded at the worst possible time.”

To check the level of antifreeze, you will need a few basic service tools and an antifreeze ball tester, which is available at auto parts stores.

Always make sure the engine and coolant system are cool before you begin. Opening a hot radiator or coolant reservoir can cause severe burns. If the antifreeze is low, add a 50/50 mix of approved antifreeze and distilled water. If you changed your antifreeze recently, but your level is low, use the antifreeze ball tester to make sure the antifreeze-to-water ratio is correct.

This is also a good time to inspect and replace any bad cooling system hoses. Check for leaking, brittle, spongy, cracked or rotted hoses and make sure that the radiator hose clamps are tight to prevent leaks at the connections.

If you’re unsure about any aspect of cooling system service, have your car inspected by a professional service technician. Checking your vehicle’s cooling system today will ensure that it’s ready for the long winter ahead.

How To Find The Right Car For You

There is no argument that housing prices have continued to rise over the last couple of years making it the largest single purchase most people will make in their lifetime. However with the prices of the average new car now nearing $30,000 they are definitely the second largest purchase many of us will make by far. By keeping this in mind you can help ensure that this important decision should be made carefully and not in a hurried or rushed, knee jerk decision that many car dealerships seem to bully most of their customers into.

To make sure that you don’t make a mistake and that you buy the best possible vehicle for you and that it will accomplish all that you need it to you should do a little research and some soul searching as well.

To start, consider your present situation of whether you are single or have a family. If you have a family and this will be the primary mode of transportation to shuttle everyone out and around then you may want to consider a minivan. For those soccer moms and hockey dads out there the new dual sliding door or even the single sliding door minivans offer serious convenience, plenty of room and decent fuel economy considering the load you can handle with it.

If you, like many others can’t quite see yourself in a minivan you may want to consider a sport utility which are really growing in popularity. The great thing about these vehicles is that they are available in all makes and in several price ranges to cater to everybody’s budget. You can choose between a smaller, cheaper sport utility like the Ford Explorer, or get into a larger vehicle like the Chevy Suburban or maybe a Ford Expedition. Either way you get some of the convenience features of the minivan with that rugged jeep type of look.

If you are an outdoors mountain junky that enjoys going camping and hanging out with friends in the woods or going on weekend surf trips you may want to consider the sporty new Nissan Pathfinder or another 4×4 vehicle that can get you to where you need to go without the worry of how you’re getting back out. The Pathfinder is designed with the outdoor lover in mind with built in roof racks and storage standard. However with any vehicle that you may be considering don’t be talked into 4-wheel drive unless you really need it and intend to use it regularly. There are some big things to consider with a 4-wheel drive like, 4-wheel drive transmissions add thousands to the price, is much heavier, and will also cost you more money for insurance and gasoline due to decreased gas mileage.

Deciding on a color may seem easy right now but if you change your cars every couple of years then you have to keep resale value in mind. Although many will say color is a matter of personal preference there are a few guidelines you should follow for particular types of vehicles if you are concerned about resale value. Regardless what type of vehicle you purchase stay away from out of the norm colors like purple or yellow unless you plan to keep the vehicle forever. Another color that has been proven to be cold for resale in light blue or ice blue as it is known in the industry. If you plan to trade every 2-4 years you are far better off choosing a normal color like white, silver, beige, etc. If you are planning to buy a sports car you will definitely want to stay with white, red, or black.

For your interior choices you may have the choice of leather, vinyl or cloth. Although leather is really nice and smells great to most, you must be the type of person who will take the time necessary to maintain leather, also keep in mind that leather can be unbearably hot in the summer and unless the seats are heated, they are very cold in the winter. If you do plan on getting into a sports utility or something similar then check out the vinyl, its cheaper than leather but is really durable and you don’t fell you’re going to rip the seat every time you get in the car or truck.

You will also want to take insurance cost into consideration when choosing a car, especially if buying for a teenager. Overall, sports cars and 4-wheel drives are more expensive to insure, not too mention a lot more to fix if you run into any repair issues.

Another good move before you head to the car dealership is to consult a local mechanic and ask them what cars they have the most problems with. They can tell you which cars they see with the most problems and what the common problems are. Not only will you get an idea of what cars are good but more importantly, which cars to steer clear of! (Excuse the pun)

So as you can see, walking into a dealer and buying the first thing they push on you can be a bad move unless you have money to burn. Take the time to think it over and come up with some guidelines of your own that cover your present situation so that your new car purchase will be a pleasant one and not the car buying nightmare you hear about more often than not.