Friday, October 31, 2014

Tips for Driving in the Snow

Winter driving is not without its own unique set of challenges, dangers and frustrations. When ice or snow begins to build up on the roadways, your driving abilities are put to the test. And while no one, not even the most experienced driver, is completely safe when road conditions are deteriorating, the following list of tips for driving in the snow may help to improve your chances of arriving at your destination safely.

  • Tip #1: Stay Home: The best advice is to stay off the roads. When the roads are icy and snowy, avoid making unnecessary trips in your car.

  • Tip #2: Clear the Snow from Your Car:  While this may seem obvious, this is a rule too many drivers ignore. Do not be content with simply wiping away a strip of snow from your windshield. Instead, to ensure optimal visibility, clear the snow from every window as well as the headlights, taillights and side mirrors. Snow that has collected on the roof and windshield of your car will also affect visibility. So it is best to take the time to remove this as well.

  • Tips # 3: Practice: If you are an inexperienced driver, or if this is the first snowfall of the year, consider taking a moment to practice in an empty parking plot. This helps you get a feel for how the vehicle will handle, stop and start during slippery conditions. 

  • Tip #4 Go Slow: It’s better to arrive late than not at all. So do not be in a hurry, even if other vehicles are speeding on past you. Remember that rapid movements lead to skids and loss of control. Counter this by concentrating on making sure every movement is slow and fluid.

  • Tips # 5: Make Room: Simply put, when the road is slick, stopping can take more time than you suspect. To avoid ramming the car in front of you, be sure to allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the other cars on the road.

  • Tips #6: Scan the Road Ahead: Road conditions can deteriorate quickly, and black ice can be next to impossible to spot.  Don’t let a clear road lull you into a false sense of security. By continually scanning the road ahead, you can anticipate any trouble spots and put yourself in the best position to successfully maneuver through any situation.

Tips #7: Go Easy on the Pedal: This includes both the gas and the brake pedal. When braking, start your stop earlier than normal. This will allow you to gently push the gas pedal, which can offer valuable insight into how the car is responding to any slippery road conditions.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Preparing An Emergency Kit | Auto Sales & Finance

Anything That Can Go Wrong, Will
Imagine you're on a road trip with your family. You have planned and prepared for this trip for weeks, and you're finally on your way. The car is packed to the roof with suitcases and various other vacation essentials, but as you wind your way along that steep mountain road deep in the hinterland of your favorite national park, you hear a terrible sound, feel a thump, thump, thump, and realize that you have a flat tire. 

You pull to the side of the road, unload the suitcases that are covering the spare tire in the back, only to discover that the tire is flat and the jack is missing. As the sun slowly sets behind the mountain ridge you began to scramble around looking for that flashlight. As you flip open your cell phone to call for a tow truck, you see that the battery is almost dead... 

OK, this may be a worst-case scenario, but it might have even been worse. The adage that says, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," while cliched, is true. Had this family taken a bit of time to assemble a basic roadside emergency kit, their journey would have been far easier that day. 

What to Put In Your Kit

Your trunk space is limited―especially while traveling ― but there are certain items that you really should carry with you in the event of an emergency. 

You can assemble these items yourself at an auto supply store, or department store, or purchase a pre-assembled kit online. The American Red Cross offers an emergency kit, and the website Outdoor Lodge recommends the following list of items:
  • Flashlights and extra batteries.
  • A folding camping (Army) shovel.
  • Jumper cables (8-12 feet long).
  • Set of tire chains. Know how to install these beforehand.
  • Fuses. There are several types, so make sure you have the right ones for your car.
  • Tools: pliers, flat and Phillips-head screwdrivers, and an adjustable wrench.
  • Wool blanket.
  • All the necessary fluids for your car, including 2 quarts of motor oil, brake fluid, power-steering fluid (if applicable), automatic transmission fluid (if applicable), a gallon of water, and a gallon of antifreeze. Also include a funnel, and keep a few rags handy in case of spills.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Road flares.
  • Gloves, wool socks, and a pair of boots.
  • Electrical and duct tape.
  • WD-40.
  • Knife.
  • Bright cloth or emergency road sign to display in your window in case of trouble.
  • Other items to consider are:
  • Non-perishable food items and a can opener
  • Rain gear
  • Extra clothes
  • Folding chair(s)
  • Pillows
  • Sleeping bags
  • Snacks
  • Books and games
  • Toilet paper
As our example illustrates, it's important to make sure your cell phone is charged up before you hit the road on a long trip. Having a car charging cord is a great idea if you will be driving for several days at a time. Another item that would be useful to have in your car in case of emergency is a first aid kit. A small manual with instructions on how to do some basic roadside repairs is a good thing to have in your kit, as well. 

Be sure to walk through changing a tire in the safety of your driveway, so you know how to do it before you are called upon to do it in the dark in the driving rain. 

Check the contents of your kit when the seasons change. The blanket, chains and ice scraper are important for winter driving conditions, but you may not need them in August.
Keeping a roadside emergency kit in your car will arm you with both peace of mind, and the tools you'll need to rescue yourself in the event of an emergency during your travels.