Winter Driving Myths

There are real automotive mechanics and then there are “mechanics.” You know, the ones who can do a few repairs in the driveway, but who think they’re in a NASCAR pit crew. They spout off half-truths about maintenance and repair issues that they heard third-hand from someone or that their grandfather told them 50 years ago when cars were much simpler machines.

Much of the time, their “advice” is harmless. But sometimes, listening to these wannabe Crew Chiefs can actually damage your vehicle or put you in danger behind the wheel.

Here are three myths you might hear about winter driving, and the truth behind them.

Let Your Car Warm Up Before Driving

This is one you always hear. The conventional wisdom is that on cold days, you need to let your car warm up 5-10 minutes before driving. The thought is that your engine, oil, transmission and other essential parts under the hood need to be warm in order to safely drive.

This is simply not true.

Think about it for a minute. Your engine, when fully warm, operates at several hundred degrees. No matter if it’s summer or winter, it takes a few minutes to get to that temperature.

But you don’t let your car warm up in summer, do you? So why would a change of 30-50 degrees in external temperature make that much of a difference on how your engine performs?

It doesn’t.

The only things you’re doing when you let your car warm up in the winter are:

1. Wasting gas.
2. Inviting thieves to steal your vehicle.
3. Making yourself feel better with a nice, toasty interior.

Your car will drive fine without being warmed up as long as you don’t peel out and stress the engine before it gets to normal operating temperature (something you shouldn’t do at any time of year).

car_exhaust(Photo Credit)

Snow Tires

Some people try to convince you that you need different tires for every season.

There is some legitimacy to this line of thinking. But, unless you live in someplace like Rochester, NY, Green Bay, WI or Tahoe, chances are the all-season tires you have will be fine for the winter months.

The major difference between all-season tires and snow (or winter) tires is the type of rubber used. Winter tires are made with rubber that doesn’t harden in colder temperatures. So, they remain flush with the road, giving you better traction in cold, icy or snowy conditions.

But for most of us, it just doesn’t get that cold or snow that much for the investment in winter tires to be worth it. The one exception would be if you have high-performance or racing tires. These do need to be changed out in colder months.

For the rest of us, as long as we keep our tires properly inflated (check them when cold once a week), make sure that the treads are in good condition (use a quarter to check on tread depth) and drive with caution in bad weather, all-season tires should work just fine this or any winter.

Snow_Chain_Honda(Photo Credit)

Use Hot Water to De-Ice The Windshield

No one likes de-icing a car. All the scraping…back and forth, back and forth. It takes forever, it’s cold, you’re half awake and have to get to work. There has to be an easier way, right?

Whatever you do, DON’T follow the advice of pouring hot or boiling water across your windshield and other windows. The massive and sudden temperature change will put large thermodynamic stresses on the glass, possibly resulting in cracking or even shattering.

The water could also seep down your windows or into your locks, damaging electrical systems. Or, worse yet, it could refreeze before you get a chance to dry it off, leaving you no way to open your doors or unlock your vehicle.

icy-windshield(Photo Credit)

 

As with most things, a little common sense about driving in winter goes a long way. And if you still have questions, please, contact your local trained mechanic for an educated opinion on the best course of action.


New Year’s Driving Resolutions

2015 is here and it’s time again to make New Year’s resolutions. In your personal life, you might commit to getting in shape, traveling more, taking better care of finances or starting your own business.

But what about your car? What can you do this year to keep your vehicle running smoothly and reliably while also saving yourself some money (so you can fulfill that “travel more” resolution)?

Here are four automotive resolutions you should keep in 2015.

Take Care of Routine Maintenance

Little things add up to something big. Sometimes it’s good, like saving a few dollars here or there that turns into a nest egg. Sometimes it’s bad, like neglecting the routine maintenance on your vehicle that leads to a major repair.

Spending 10-15 minutes or $20-$30 dollars here and there on routine maintenance can be the difference between keeping your car on the road for five or 15 years. Make it a priority to stay on top of the maintenance schedule laid out in your vehicle’s factory manual.

On top of these scheduled checkups, you can do a lot at home like:

  • Changing wiper blades every six months.
  • Keeping your tires inflated to the correct pressure and checking them as the weather changes.
  • Check important fluids (oil, transmission, brake, etc.) once a month.

Routine Car Maintenance(Photo Credit)

Help Your Car Lose Weight

Notice how crowded the gym always is in January? That’s because of all the people who’ve resolved to lose weight and get in shape.

You can do the same thing for your vehicle. Carrying around a little extra junk in the trunk isn’t good for either humans or cars.

According to the EPA, reducing the weight of a car by 100-lbs will increase fuel economy by one-to-two percent. And the smaller your car is, the bigger the impact.

Extra weight in your car also puts unnecessary strain on parts like shocks, struts and brakes. Think of them like your knees and ankles. Gain an extra 50-100 pounds, and they’ll hurt more and break down sooner.

So, clean out all the extra junk (boxes, batteries, bowling balls, bricks) in your car and help it be leaner and meaner in 2015.

Trunk(Photo Credit)

Keep It Clean

New Year, new clothes, new haircut, new style. Many people use the change in calendar to reinvent themselves and maybe “dress for success.”

Your car can also benefit from a greater emphasis on hygiene. All that salt and de-icing solution spread on the roads during the winter can really damage your vehicle, inside and out. It can corrode paint and exposed metal parts. Tracked in on your shoes, it tears up or stains floor mats.

Take some time to thoroughly vacuum your car at the end of the winter. Steam clean floors and seats if needed. To easily clean the underside, put a common yard sprinkler under your car. Leave it for a few hours and let it soak off all the salt built up from winter storms.

The summer sun also takes its toll on your car’s looks. The hot sun fades and cracks leather, plastic and paint. Spend a warm spring day applying protectant to the inside of your vehicle to help mitigate the damage caused by UV light. And give the car a good wax job once you’ve gotten all the salt and grime off it.

Winter Grime(Photo Credit)

Don’t Run It Ragged

Are you a lead foot driver? One who stomps on the gas, even if there’s another stop sign just a block ahead?

Or do you wait until the last seconds to stop and slam on the breaks, causing your coffee to spill all over the center console?

Try to fix these bad habits in 2015. Your car and wallet will thank you. Sudden acceleration and last-minute braking puts extra strain on your car’s most important parts: engine, brakes, transmission and tires. It wears them down much faster and increases the chances of expensive repairs.

Also, the smoother you drive, the less gas you use and the more money you save. Is it really worth it to arrive to work two minutes earlier if it costs you an extra $5 in gas?

Lead Foot(Photo Credit)

 

Follow these simple automotive resolutions throughout 2015 to start on a lifetime of better automotive health. If your car could talk, I’m sure it would thank you.


Happy Holidays from CARCHEX!

Santa in Car

(Photo Credit)

The CARCHEX team wishes you a very Merry Christmas! We hope that all of your holidays wishes come true.

As always, remember to drive safely today.


December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

Season’s Greetings! During this festive time of year, you will likely be spreading cheer at a number of holiday parties. With these gatherings usually comes an alcoholic beverage or two. December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, and we want you to get home safely, so here are a few suggestions on how to celebrate responsibly. You’ll certainly make Santa’s “nice” list if you follow these rules!

Find a Designated Driver

Choosing a designated driver is a cost-effective solution for getting home after drinking. However, it is vital to make this decision in advance. Take turns so that everyone shares the responsibility and has a chance to enjoy themselves this holiday season. For example, your friend might be the designated driver for the Christmas party while you’re the DD for the News Year’s party.

Make sure that you remember your etiquette lessons if someone else is driving. If the gathering is far away, offer to share the cost of gas. Also remember to watch your volume level if your driver is taking multiple people. You want to be sure your driver is not distracted by the passengers.

designated_driver_x_mas_campaign_max_3-4-scaled1000-300x200(Photo Credit)

Use a Transportation App

You’ve likely heard of Uber, the app for on-demand car service, but check out these other apps that allow you to book a ride from your phone. While transportation apps are becoming a popular alternative to calling a cab, remember that you might be waiting a while on a night like New Year’s Eve.

  • Lyft: request a ride through the app and get picked up by one of Lyft’s community drivers. While these drivers aren’t professionals, they have passed a phone screen, an in-person meeting, and had their background and DMV records checked. Lyft cars are outfitted with a pink mustache on the front of the car and drivers also greet passengers with a fist-bump. Passengers are urged to sit in the front seat and chat with the driver instead of sitting in the back of the vehicle.

 

Lyft-Car-300x210(Photo Credit)

  •  Sidecar: Like Uber and Lyft, but rates are generally lower. While an average ride costs $20 with Uber and $15 with Lyft, according to their website, Sidecar runs around $9-$12. Sidecar allows you to choose a ride based on price so that you know what you’ll be spending before you even book the ride. Like Lyft, drivers are not professionals.

 

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Know Your Numbers

Learning drunk driving statistics will make you think twice before you get behind the wheel after drinking. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration is sponsoring the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign from December 12th to January 1st. We encourage you to take the pledge to only drive sober while here, but we’ve also listed a few stats to get you thinking:

  • Drunk driving crashes cause 28 deaths every day in America
  • Every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash
  • In 2012, 10,322 people were killed on U.S. roadways due to impaired driving

 

driver_sober1_300(Photo Credit)

We hope that these suggestions will help you make smart decisions this holiday season. While attending your parties, remember to drink your eggnog and other alcoholic beverages in moderation and make plans to get home safely at the end of the night. CARCHEX wishes you a very happy (and safe!) holiday season.

 


How to Make Dreaded Holiday Travel Easy

Are you traveling for the Thanksgiving this week? We understand the amount of work that goes into preparing to celebrate with family and friends and know that the addition of traveling can make this a very stressful time of the year for those traveling to spend the holiday with loved ones. Whether renting a car or taking on the travel in your own, these suggestions can help make the drive to your Thanksgiving destination a little bit easier.

 

New Map Apps:

Google Maps and many other map applications for smart phones have been updated to take into account the heavy week of travel ahead. These apps are designed to assist travelers and make their treks to Thanksgiving destinations a bit easier. If you have access to a smart phone, you can download apps that will re-route your drive if there is heavy traffic expected or can give you minute-by-minute updates on weather in your area. Google maps recently made updates to their application that will help drivers feel prepared to tackle their travel. The app Waze tries to help drivers avoid traffic and roadblocks by asking travelers to report other problems through the app, which then can be used by other drivers. Apps that show traffic patterns are continually getting better and are worth a download this holiday week. They can help you find alternative routes and keep your travel safe, short, and fun.

google-maps-ios-screenshot(Photo Credit)

Rental Cars:

If you’re traveling out of state and are renting a car there are a few actions you should take before driving on to your destination. Early booking when renting a car is always the best way to ensure that you are getting a reasonable price for your rental. Secondly, check with your insurance to make sure that you are covered in case anything happens while you are driving the rental. Many rental companies will suggest getting insurance so it is wise to check with your insurance policy first so that you do not pay for something you may already be covered for. You can purchase supplementary insurance as needed from the rental company if you find that you are not covered through your own insurance. It is important to have a good collision-and-damage waiver (CDW) insurance before moving forward with your rental choice.

It is also extremely important to check for any possible damage to your rental car before you drive it off the rental company property. Examine the doors, windows, paint, and bumpers to be sure that there are no signs of previous damage. If you do find any dings, scrapes, or dents, take a picture with your smart phone or camera. Talk to your rental agent about the damage so it may be documented before you drive the vehicle. Many rental companies will be understanding of prior damage, but if you run into trouble, it is best to simply request a new car.

 STEWART AIRPORT INTERIORS AND EXTERIORS 9/26/07

(Photo Credit)

Hitting the Road:

AAA is expected more than 46.3 million people to hit the road this Thanksgiving holiday, the most in nearly 7 years. There are a few simple staples of good driving practices that must be implemented this week in order to keep you and the occupants in your car safe. With a higher volume of vehicles on the road this week, the chances of an accident occurring are greatly increased. Make sure that every passenger in the car has his or her seatbelt properly secured for the duration of your journey. Ensuring that seatbelts are being worn correctly is the easiest way to prevent tragic injuries that are results of unpreventable car accidents.

If you are traveling long distances and will be driving for multiple hours, make it a priority to get some good rest before you depart. Resting and leaving at a suitable hour when you know you are capable of driving carefully is the safest way to get you to your destination. It is also important to schedule breaks in your driving so that you can give your mind and body a well-deserved rest. Taking breaks helps to maintain alertness and also enhances focus during long drives.

With the large number of vehicles expected on the roads this week, let your co-pilot handle common distractions in the car such as texting, incoming phone calls, and the usage of the GPS. The roads will be crowded and it is important to be solely focused on driving. These distractions are common precursors to accidents during daily travel, but with the heavy traffic expected, they can easily be more dangerous than you would generally anticipate.

 

traffic

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This week you should expect heavy traffic and crowded roads, but don’t let that deter you from enjoying this very special holiday. If you are careful about how you travel and are aware of the dangers on the road this week, you can feel prepared to take on the drive to your destination. Keep everyone in your vehicle safe by being a responsible and knowledgeable driver! From all of us at CARCHEX, Happy Thanksgiving!

 


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