Consider these five things you might wish to keep in the car. Some will keep you organized, others keep you on the road, while one item may be able to save your life.…
While you never want to be caught in a break down or accident, it is inevitable that these situations will arise when driving your car. Whether you are in the middle of downtown or in the middle of nowhere, having a car kit in your vehicle can ease a lot of the anxiety of a breakdown. Keep these 10 things in your car at all times and you’ll follow the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared”!
1. A fully charged phone or a car charger. The first thing you’re going to want to do in an accident or breakdown is make a phone call. Keep a cheap prepaid phone with minutes on it stored in the car for emergency situations, or just make sure that you have a charger on hand in case your phone needs a charge.
2. A first aid kit. Many first aid kits come fully stocked, but it should include bandages, gauze, painkillers, antiseptic and an analgesic of some kind. Make sure to check this every few months, just in case it is running low on any one particular item.
3. A blanket or extra clothes. In case you are trapped in cold weather or in case an accident happens and someone is in shock, having a blanket in the trunk could be a lifesaver.
4. Reflective warning triangles. These are standard warning signs to any vehicles, especially if you are in a place with no defined shoulder to pull off to, to warn other drivers that you are stopped ahead. The highway safety website recommends a minimum of three triangles, but at least one will benefit you in the long run.
5. Flashlight and extra batteries. Ideally the flashlight should be water-proof. Again, check this every few months to make sure it is still functional.
6. Jumper cables. This should go without saying, but they should be in every car.
7. Multi-tool. These tools contain knives, screwdrivers, hammers, and several other tools for every situation. These can mean the difference between life and death in certain scenarios such as if you are trapped in a seatbelt or your car is going underwater.
8. Snacks and water. At least a water bottle or two and some protein bars just in case you are stranded in the middle of nowhere.
9. Gas can. It is not recommended that you store gasoline in your car, but if you have a spare gas can, most gas stations no longer keep loaners on site due to fire safety regulations.
10. Duct tape. It is the universal fix-it solution for a reason. If you need a quick fix just to get you home, or you can purchase the reflective variety as a warning to other drivers of your car’s location in the dark.
There are a multitude of other items you may want to consider having on hand depending on where you travel and the time of year, such as tow ropes or chains, tire pressure gauges, ice scrapers, and a set of gloves, but just the ten items above will put you miles above the rest and ready to handle whatever comes your way.
As the weather moves from cold to hot now that spring has arrived, you might find yourself asking whether your car is ready for the hot weather. Many new drivers don’t know how to check their antifreeze and coolant, or what those two things do at all.
The short answer is yes, antifreeze and coolant are the same thing. But you might be interested to know why and how they work.
Antifreeze is the colored fluid (usually green or red) found in your radiator. Antifreeze serves a few purposes. The most important is keeping the water in your radiator and engine from freezing in cold temps. It also keeps that same water from boiling over in the summer. Radiators are normally filled with a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water. The third function of antifreeze, or coolant is lubrication — it lubricates the moving parts it comes in contact with, like the water pump.
The key chemical component in today’s coolants is ethylene glycol. Mixed correctly, this stuff can keep your radiator fluid from freezing even if the temperature is less than 30 degrees below zero! That’s cold. The amazing thing is that it can also keep the same fluid from boiling at as much as 275 degrees F. Antifreeze can really get control of those water molecules!
So while coolant keeps your car from boiling in the hot summer heat, antifreeze keeps your car from freezing up in winter. Though we use two different names the truth is they are the same amazing liquid that helps keep your car running.
Be sure to check your antifreeze and coolant levels frequently, especially during temperature changes. Many automotive parts stores have quick tester kits that are inexpensive and could save you a bundle down the road.
It’s almost time! The snow is melting, the air is clearing, the sun is shining, and you’re finally washing off 3 months of salt, ice, and dirt from your car. While you might think that a thorough car wash is enough to get your car ready for the hot months to come, you might be interested to know that there are quite a few things you can do to prepare your car to run a little better in the months to come.
1. Remove your snow tires. Snow tires wear out faster on dry pavement, so save them from frequent replacing by having them removed as quickly as possible in the spring.
2. Check your tire pressure. One of the biggest keys to good gas mileage is to ensure that your tires are at the correct pressure at all times. Prevent uneven wear and possible blow-outs by checking the tire pressure in the spring and summer months. If you aren’t sure what your tire pressure should be and you don’t have your car manual, most tires have the pressure on the label, or you can find it on the inside of the driver’s side door, on the tag with your VIN number.
3. Change your oil and check the viscosity. This might sound complicated but it really isn’t. Viscosity refers to the thickness of the oil. For example, maple syrup has a higher viscosity than water. Engine oils are sold with different levels of viscosity, and many of them are also multi-viscous, which means the oil’s thickness can change depending on its temperature. Generally speaking, the warmer the oil is, the thinner it will be. If the oil is too thin, the engine might not get the proper lubrication.
4. Have the belts and hoses checked. The belts and hoses in modern cars last a long time. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to fail. Before summer begins, have the belts and hoses inspected on your vehicle. And if you’re not sure when they were last replaced, consider having them changed, especially before commencing a long road trip.
5. Inspect your wiper blades and fill your wiper fluid. Now that all the ice is gone, you might find that your windshield wipers aren’t ready for the first heavy thunderstorm to roll in in the summer.
6. Check the battery. You know that in the winter the cold weather can wreak havoc on a battery, but did you also know that hot weather can put just as much strain on it as cold? Have your battery tested at a certified facility so you don’t walk out one morning and find your car is dead.
7. Check your coolant and anti-freeze. The ideal mixture of coolant and water inside your vehicle’s radiator is 50:50. If the mixture deviates from this norm, then hot-weather performance (and cold) can be compromised. You can check the composition of a radiator’s mixture by using an antifreeze tester. You can find these at all auto parts stores, and they are inexpensive and easy to use. If the mixture’s balance is off, adjust it by adding either coolant or water.
With these simple steps your car will be ready for long summer road trips, late summer nights, and generally enjoying the warm weather after all the ice and snow we suffered through!
There’s a reason that mechanics are a valued commodity in our car-centric world. Most people when opening up the hood of their car have no idea what they are looking at. We rely on mechanics to be experts in car maintenance and repair. But there’s a difference between complicated repairs and maintenance and basic care of a vehicle.
Some people believe that certain things should be a requirement on driver’s training courses for teenagers. At the very least, every driver should know these ten things about taking care of their car. [Read more…]