Spring Time Is Clean Your Car Time!

Many of us live a significant portion of our lives in the car, so we might as well consider it a mobile living room. Except it’s a living room that comes in constant contact with the germs and grit of the outside world. When considered as an extension of your home, you’d hope it would benefit from the same cleaning routine. But, we know this isn’t always the case.

If it’s been a while since the inside of car has seen a vacuum, there is evidence to suggest that your car may be carrying some unwanted passengers – of the microscopic variety. Freshen up the inside of your ride by trying out some of our clean-car tips below.

Conquer clutter.

It’s difficult to do a deep-clean of your vehicle with a vacuum and scrub brush when clutter is in the way. Clutter not only gives dirt and bacteria more surfaces to live on, but it can be distracting to drivers. And stressful. Removing excess clutter is the very first step to taking pride in your ride.

Resist the road snacks.

We can all appreciate the value of a good car snack. And with your eyes on the road, you may not notice just how many crumbs are getting lost in your car. These crumbs, and yesterday’s half-finished coffee (it’s ok, you don’t have to admit it), fuel the growth of bacteria. If you can’t resist the road snacks, try to minimize the evidence. Remove food wrappers or trash right away, make sure drink containers are spill-proof, and vacuum in the deep cracks and crevices with a thin, telescoping vacuum attachment.

Keep your child seats clean.

Fun fact: those iconic fish-shaped crackers are the number one item found in children’s car seats. On a smaller scale, car seats also carry an average of 100 different types of microscopic passengers. Always check with the car seat manufacturer prior to cleaning, and pick a time when it won’t be needed for 12-24 hours, so it has ample time to dry. Take a picture of the set-up before removing from your vehicle, and rely on the manufacturer’s guide and your picture to be sure the car seat is re-installed correctly.

Let the fresh air in.

When your cabin air filter is dirty or clogged, it actually makes the air quality inside your car worse than the air outside. A dirty filter traps dust, pollen, and exhaust fumes inside your vehicle. What’s more, over time a restricted air filter can cause issues with the vehicle’s HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) system. Ask your dealership or take a look at your owner’s manual to determine how often your cabin air filter should be replaced. Most should function well for 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Make an appointment with your dealership to get a new filter installed.

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.

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.

Extensive List To Make Your Road Trip Safer and Fun

I talk a lot about road trips on the blog. I guess it is because I take a lot of them when the weather starts to turn warm. Now that my girls are teens it is so much easier to just hop in the car and hit the road. I have also had a couple of lists for road trips but thanks to you, my readers I have another list for you! Thank you so much for sharing your tips with me!

  • Make sure your vehicle is in sound working order – a cracked timing belt could be the difference between a great road trip and a hellish nightmare. Have your vehicle inspected before pulling out of the driveway; Or, do it yourself if mechanically inclined. Check the lights, directionals, wiper blades, and fluid levels and closely inspect the belts and hoses for wear and tear.
  • Check that you have a fully intact car jack. A flat tire is not the time to discover you have a car jack but no lug wrench.
  • Carefully examine the spare tire, ensuring that it’s fully inflated and the treads are in good condition.
  • Organize an emergency kit stocked with: bottled water, first aid items (band aids, gauze pads, sterile pads), rain jacket, blanket, lightsticks or flashlight, pocket knife, and one or two energy bars. Pack only essentials. The more compact, the easier it is to store.
  • Check that your mobile phone is in sound working order. Also, be aware if your provider charges roaming fees. If roaming fees are a concern, consider using a phone card.
  • Carry either a road atlas or a GPS device. If you know your route, check ahead for possible construction delays. Department of Transportation websites are great sources for road information, providing construction updates, weather forecasts and sometimes live webcams.
  • Peace of mind is a good thing to have on the road. Subscribe to a car club that offers roadside assistance. If your vehicle breaks down 700 miles from home, it’s comforting to have access to a list of trusted mechanics and towing companies.
  • Download road apps. GasBuddy, for example, directs you to the cheapest gas prices along your route.
  • If you intend on camping, call ahead and inquire about reservations. This is especially important if you’re traveling during holiday weekends.
  • Anticipate rush hour traffic when traveling through major cities. Either alter your route or change your timing so as to drive through during late morning or early afternoon. Especially in LA. Rush hour is an absolute nightmare!
  • Make sure you’re carrying all important driving documents: proof of car insurance, vehicle registration. and driver’s license.
  • Be aware of state texting and cell phone laws. Maryland, for example, has a strict no texting, no cell phone use while driving. I know people that have gotten some hefty fines for breaking this law!
  • Make sure all traffic tickets are paid. The cleaner the driving record the better for you if stopped. If you have too many you may be arrested and have your car impounded. That would definitely not be fun!

5 Amazing Picnic Recipes

 

Are you tired of winter yet? I am! It is getting colder here and tonight there is talk of snow! Of course, we couldn’t get snow during Christmas. It has to snow when we don’t want it to! All I can do is dream of spring, getting in the car with the windows rolled down, and taking off for a picnic in one of our amazing parks!

If you are going on a picnic you need a couple of things!

  • A blanket
  • Plates, napkins, and silverware
  • Amazing food!

I have you covered in the food department and have found 5 of the best picnic recipes out there! Any of these are sure to please and will make your picnic extra special. So leave all the cold and snow behind and dream a little with me!

  1. Sweet BBQ Chicken Sliders– These are perfect for a picnic because not only do they taste great but they scream spring and summer! So even if you don’t live in the BBQ capitol of the world, you can feel like you do!
  2. Tarragon Chicken Salad– Whether it is served on rolls or in a lettuce cup, this chicken salad is sure to please! It would give any food truck a run for its money!
  3. Classic Southern Fried Chicken– Nothing screams picnic like fried chicken! Sure you could stop at KFC on your way there but why? You can make beautiful, golden, delicious chicken at home! You can even serve it the way my Grandmother did. Cold with a glass of ice-cold lemonade. Nothing beats that on a spring day!
  4. Mediterranean Pasta Salad– You can’t have a picnic without an amazing pasta salad. This is BIG step up from Macaroni salad!
  5. Pinata Cupcakes– You can’t have all this amazing food without dessert! You need something easy and portable. These Pinata Cupcakes are easy to make with a fun surprise in the middle! It is sure to make your picnic extra fun!

A great picnic is only a drive away! You just need good food and good people!