Valentine’s Day: Ditch the Date – Treat Your Car

Love is in the air for Valentine’s Day. If you don’t have a date you probably aren’t thrilled about the holiday.

So forget human companionship. Ditch the chocolates, candlelit dinner and oversized teddy bear. You can have an even better time with the real love of your life: your car.

valentines(Photo Credit)

Enjoy a Massage

Pick up some wax and treat your car to a nice rubdown. Don’t go cheap. Splurge a bit. Pick up one of the nicer brands. We suggest Liquid Glass, Mothers or Meguiar’s.

car-waxing(Photo Credit)

If you want to treat yourself too, go ahead and schedule an appointment with your local auto detailer. Sit back and relax while you watch your sweetheart get pampered.

Take a Bubble Bath

Nix the candlelit bathtub and head to the carwash. If you’d rather bathe at home, pick up one of the top rated car wash soaps. You can also pick up some fancy tools like a wash mop stick kit, foaming sprayer or professional water hose. You can get some ideas here.

car wash(Photo Credit)

Dinner and a Movie

What’s better than an old-school night at the drive-in? Pick a flick and park your baby right under the screen. On the way there, grab a meal from your favorite drive-thru restaurant. Perfect date night!

 Digital Drive Ins(Photo Credit)

Present Her with a Single Rose

Like on The Bachelor, present your love with a single rose to tell her she’s the one. Purchase an auto vase, which clips to your vent and holds a live flower. Place a rose inside for Valentine’s Day and then switch out new flowers according to the season!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Photo Credit)

Spend Some Alone Time

Take your sweetheart out for a spin on an open country road. Crack the windows, crank some Marvin Gaye and enjoy quality time together. Plan ahead so you can pull over and enjoy a beautiful winter sunset.

sunset (Photo Credit)

As always, we encourage you to use protection. To learn more about our vehicle protection plans, give us a ring at 1-877-CARCHEX.


8 Winter Must-Haves for Your Vehicle

Are you prepared for the next round of winter weather? Before the next snowstorm hits, it’s vital to stock  your car with essential items.

CARCHEX’s Consumer Auto Advocate appeared on WBAL to share the eight winter must-haves for your vehicle.

  1. Full Gas Tank: You should have at least half a tank of gas in your vehicle. This will help prevent fuel lines from freezing.
  2. Ice Scraper and Brush: This might sound obvious, but it’s important to clear all of the ice and snow off your car (including lights). We’ve all been behind the car who has snow flying off their roof and onto our windshield. Don’t be that person.
  3. Shovel: Keep a shovel in your trunk to clear additional parking or dig out from around your wheels.
  4. Tire Gauge: Dropping temperatures will cause tire pressure to do the same. Make sure your pressure is at the appropriate level for your vehicle.
  5. Salt (or Kitty Litter): Apply this around your tire for better traction on an icy driveway or your parking spot. This also helps to melt the snow.
  6. Blanket and Cold Weather Gear: During the blizzard, we heard a lot of nightmare stories about drivers stuck in their vehicles. This is important for maintaining your body temperature if you’re trapped in your car.
  7. Jumper Cables: Car batteries hate the frigid weather just as much as we do, so have these handy in case you or a fellow driver need them. 
  8. Emergency Roadside Kit: This is actually something you should have year-round, but its critical in the winter when car issues seem to pop up more frequently.

8 Winter Driving Life Hacks

Winter weather makes driving tough. Freezing temperatures and precipitation are recipes for disaster. Just look at this New York “ice car.”

ice car(Photo Credit)

But winter weather doesn’t always have to win. We’ve put together a list of life hacks that make winter weather driving more manageable. Some of these tips might sound crazy, but we challenge you to try them!

Use Hand Sanitizer to Unfreeze a Door Lock

If your car door freezes, drip some hand sanitizer onto your key. Hand sanitizers typically contain 60% alcohol, so the alcohol will successfully melt the ice. Make sure that your hand sanitizer isn’t alcohol-free before you try.

Some people will tell you to use a lighter to heat up your key in this situation. In reality, this will cause more harm than good. Check out the below video to find out why.

Cover Your Headlights with Toothpaste

Are your headlights dim on dark winter nights? Coat the outer glass of each headlight with toothpaste and then rinse it away with warm water. This will make your car’s headlights appear brighter to oncoming cars.

Buy Lots of Cat Litter

Cat litter is one of the greatest tools you can have on hand in the winter. Placing a 20-pound bag of cat litter in your trunk will give you extra weight to help prevent skids. You can also place a stocking or sock full of cat litter in your car overnight to prevent frost. The cat litter absorbs moisture and even eliminates car odors!

cat litter(Photo Credit)

You can use cat litter to increase traction if you’re stuck in snow or ice. Cat litter is an excellent natural alternative that won’t harm pets.

Cover Side-View Mirrors with Ziploc Bags

Place gallon-sized plastic Ziploc bags over your side-view mirrors. Secure them with rubber bands and you’ll have clear mirrors when winter weather hits.

 mirror(Photo Credit)

Make a DIY Deicer

You can combine three parts vinegar and one part water to create a natural (and affordable) deicing agent. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and squirt it onto your windshield and/or windows to clear the ice. You can also spread vinegar on the windshield the night to prevent icing.

DON’T Pour Hot Water on Your Windshield

Many believe that you can quickly clear ice by pouring hot water on your windshield. This can work if there is absolutely no crack in the glass, but if there is even the smallest crack your windshield will shatter. Patt Goss explains the reasoning behind this in the below video.

Use Pam to Keep Your Doors from Freezing Shut

Grab some Pam and paper towels from the kitchen and head out to your car. Spray down the edges of the door, rub it in with a paper towel and your doors will be virtually freeze-proof.

Find Some Old Socks

Socks can do more than keep your feet warm when winter weather hits. Place socks over your wiper blades to prevent them from freezing to the windshield overnight. You should also store a pair of old socks in your glove compartment. If you get stuck in a snowdrift, wear the socks over your shoes while pushing your car out. The socks will give your feet better traction.

socks(Photo Credit)

Use these life hacks to avoid hacking through the ice this winter. As always, play it safe when it comes to driving in snow and ice!


Celebrate Safely This New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is one of the most festive days of the year across the globe – just check out this infographic! For many, New Year’s Eve is one last holiday hoorah before it’s time to set those New Year’s Resolutions and get back to work.

But New Year’s isn’t all fun and games. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, New Year’s Day is the second most deadly day of the year for drivers. In fact, during the Christmas holiday, an average of 45 fatalities involving alcohol-impaired drivers occur each day and this number increases to 54 per day over the New Year’s holiday.

designated driver 1(Photo Credit)

As we wrap up National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, make plans to get home safely on New Year’s Eve. Here are some tools you can use whether you will be a passenger, designated driver or the host of a New Year’s Eve bash.

Passengers

Now is the time to talk with the group you’ll be traveling with and put a plan in place. A few key questions to ask are:

  • Will someone volunteer as designated driver?
  • Will you use a transportation service?
  • If the party is at a friend’s place, is there room to stay the night?

Keep in mind that on holidays, transportation services like taxis, Uber and Lyft have surged rates due to the high volume of requests. If you plan to use one of these services, be aware that your ride might be costly (but worth it).

taxi(Photo Credit)

 If your group has trouble choosing a designated driver, do some research and see if there are designated driver services in your area. You can also check out the National Directory of Designated Driver Services (NDDDS) for a full list of designated driver services nearby. In larger cities, alcoholic beverage companies often sponsor these programs and even provide free or discounted rates on holidays.

Designated Driver

If you volunteer to be the designated driver of your group, set some ground rules ahead of time. You should set expectations for your group and they should do the same for you.

designated driver(Photo Credit)

Before New Year’s Eve rolls around, you should have your tires and brakes checked. While you will act responsibly and drive sober, others may not. If (worst-case scenario) you are involved in an accident with a drunk driver, your car’s safety features need to be up to date. You should also avoid driving between 8pm and 2am on New Year’s Eve/Day if at all possible. The highest number of drunk driving accidents happen during this timeframe.

Hosts

If you’ve taken on hosting the big New Year’s Eve party, realize that this comes with big responsibilities. If you truly want to be the host or hostess with the mostest, offer options ahead of time for getting home safely. If you have room for it, host a few guests for the night. For those you can’t host overnight, you can purchase safe rides with Uber ahead of time through a partnership between Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). In fact, for every safe ride purchased, Uber will donate $10 to MADD.

uber and madd(Photo Credit)

While you plan for your party, stock up on lots of non-alcoholic beverages and be sure to provide food so your guests don’t drink on an empty stomach. You should also be clear ahead of time that you’ll stop serving alcohol well before the party officially ends.

host(Photo Credit)

 Whether you are a passenger, designated driver or host this New Year’s Eve, we urge you to celebrate responsibly. Here’s to 2016!


Protect Your Car While Transporting a Christmas Tree

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! For many, getting into the holiday spirit includes a tree trimmed with lights and decorations. Whether you pick a tree from a lot or cut it down at a local farm, transporting the tree back home presents challenges. Preparation will limit most of those challenges AND help protect your car from damage.

We’ve put together some tips for making your tree-shopping experience painless. Follow these tips to avoid a Clark Griswold worthy memory.

christmasvacationtaurus.9572(Photo Credit)

Before You Go

Before you head to the tree lot or farm, collect a few different tools. Grab a tarp, old sheet or blanket to place the tree on. If you transport your tree on the roof, placing protective material underneath will prevent scratches and any sap damage to your car. If your tree will ride in the vehicle with you, this will protect your interior from the same.

If you transport the tree on the roof, be sure to also pack rope, bailing twine, nylon straps or a bungee cord. You will need to securely strap the tree to the vehicle. Many tree lots and farms provide twine or rope, but you shouldn’t rely on it. On busy days, they often run out and you don’t want to get caught empty handed. Remember to bring a pair of heavy-duty gloves too. These gloves will help you grip the tree while hoisting it on top of or into the car.

how-to-get-your-christmas-tree-home(Photo Credit)

While You’re There

You’ve picked out the perfect tree and now it’s time to take that baby home!

Before you take the tree to your car, give it a good shake to get rid of insects and any loose needles or branches. Once you’re ready to secure the tree, put down your protective material and get some help securing the tree. If you try and handle this alone, you might bump into the vehicle and leave a dent.

carrying tree(Photo Credit)

Before you rush back to decorate, take the time to position the tree on or in your car correctly. If the tree rides on the roof, be sure that the base of the tree faces the front of the car. Since the branches have a natural upward angle, this will prevent the wind from blowing the tree off your car.

AirFlowDirection(Photo Credit)

Lastly, if the tree is strapped to your roof, give the twine, rope or cord a tug to ensure that the tree is secure before you leave the lot.

Transporting the Tree

While you might be tempted to zoom home and pour a glass of eggnog, be sure to drive with extra caution. A heavy tree in/on the car alters the vehicle’s center of gravity. This will affect your ability to maneuver the car in an emergency.

winter road(Photo Credit)

If – worst-case scenario – your tree falls off the car, stay calm and try and avoid pulling onto the shoulder. If you are on the highway, get off at the nearest exit and contact highway patrol or the local police. They will be able to advise you on the best next steps. And if the tree hits another car, be sure to give your insurance information to the other driver. Your property damage liability insurance will likely cover their repair costs.

Follow these tips to make this year’s tree shopping experience the best yet. Happy Holidays!


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