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10 simple ways to get your car ready for winter 1-

1. Get the right kind of oil change. Are you approaching the time for a 30,000-mile full service for your vehicle? If so, don’t procrastinate! Among other things, the service should include an oil change, and the oil used should have the right viscosity, or thickness, for your vehicle at this time of year. Oil tends to thicken as it gets colder, and if it’s too thick it won’t do the best job of keeping your engine lubricated. Check your owner’s manual for guidance about which oil to use in different climates and temperatures.

2. Make sure you can see. When’s the last time you replaced your windshield wiper blades? They usually work effectively for about one year, so be sure to invest in some new ones if you’re due. Here’s another important step to take before you find yourself struggling to see in a blinding storm: Fill up your windshield washer reservoir with windshield washer fluid. (Plain water won’t do the trick at this time of year because it freezes.) Also check to see that your heater and defroster are working properly so you can keep the windshield nice and clear.

3. Give your battery a little TLC. This is an ideal time of year to make sure your battery’s posts and connections are corrosion-free and that your battery has all the water it needs. If your battery is more than three years old, have a certified repair shop test its ability to hold a charge. Granted, you might be able to find a Good Samaritan to help you jump-start your vehicle in the middle of a blizzard — but wouldn’t you rather avoid such a scenario altogether?

4. Examine your belts and hoses. When you have that full service done on your vehicle, make sure the belts and hoses get checked for wear and tear — even if you’re driving a modern car. Cold weather can do a number on belts and hoses, so they deserve attention.

5. Check your tire pressure. Your tires must be properly inflated to ensure you’ll have the best possible traction as you drive along — and traction is often severely jeopardized in wet, snowy or icy conditions. The air pressure in your tires has likely dropped as the weather has gotten colder, so it’s important to see where things stand now. (You can generally expect that you’ll lose 1 pound per square inch whenever the temperature drops by 10 degrees Fahrenheit.) Again, your trusty owner’s manual will tell you what your target tire pressure should be.


10 simple ways to get your car ready for winter 6-

6. Think about switching to snow tires. Do you live in a hilly place that gets its fair share of snow? Then you might want to improve traction even more by investing in winter tires and using them over the next few months instead of your usual all-season tires. When shopping around for snow tires, ask about all the fees that might come into play, such as fees for mounting and balancing. You can accomplish this easily and make accurate cost comparisons by asking each store for the “out the door charge.”

7. Do you have four-wheel drive? If so, it’s important to check the status of your four-wheel-drive system and be sure it’s working correctly — especially because most drivers don’t use their 4WD systems in the pleasant summer months. Be sure that the system engages and disengages easily, and that all drivers in your household know how and when to activate the system.

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8. Get the antifreeze mixture just right. Aim for having a 50-50 mix of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your radiator. This will prevent the mixture from freezing even at ridiculously cold temperatures. It’s easy to check the status of the mixture with an inexpensive antifreeze tester, which you can pick up at any auto parts store. If the mixture is off, your cooling system should be drained and refilled or flushed. Be sure you’re equipped to dispose of your old antifreeze properly if you do this job yourself. It can’t just be poured down the drain.

9. Prepare an emergency kit. Store this stuff in your trunk during the winter months, especially if a road trip is in your future:

  • a blanket
  • extra boots and gloves
  • an extra set of warm clothes
  • extra water and food, including hard candies
  • an ice scraper
  • a small shovel
  • a flashlight
  • windshield washer fluid
  • windshield wipers
  • flares
  • jumper cables
  • a tool kit
  • tire chains
  • a tire gauge
  • a spare tire with air in it
  • tire-changing equipment
  • a first-aid kit
  • paper towels
  • a bag of abrasive material such as sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter, which can provide additional traction if a tire gets stuck in snow.
  • Also, keep the gas tank as full as you can to prevent the gas lines from freezing.

10. Know what to do if you get stranded. Don’t wander away from your car unless you’re completely sure about where you are and how far away help is. Light two flares and situate them at each end of your vehicle to call attention to your plight. Put on the extra clothes and use the blanket to stay warm. If you have enough gas in the tank, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes for each hour you’re waiting for help. Leave at least one window open a little bit so that snow and ice don’t seal the car shut. Suck on a hard candy to prevent your mouth from getting too dry.

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Do I Need To Get A Wheel Alignment And Tire Balanc

During my years at the service counter customers who purchased tires often asked me, "Do I have to have them balanced?" And that was inevitably followed by, "Does it need an alignment, too?" I understand why consumers ask these questions. Tire balancing coupled with wheel alignment can be expensive. So let's look at why balancing new tires and performing a wheel alignment are necessary.

Tire balancing
Despite advanced tire manufacturing processes and advanced rubber compounds used today, some weight imbalance can still be evident in new tires. Therefore they should be balanced with wheel weights to achieve smooth rolling of the tire. An imbalanced tire expresses itself as a wheel shimmy (rocking back and forth of the steering wheel while driving, usually at a specific speed).

To balance a tire, it must first be mounted in the proper rim and then inflated to the proper air pressure and a new valve stem installed. Next, the complete tire/wheel assembly is affixed to a machine that is designed to spin the tire and identify the location and severity of the imbalance. The tech must then affix the proper weight to the rim in the location designated by the machine. Finally, the wheel is spun again to ensure that the tire is properly balanced. A tire is balanced based on the mass of rubber present at the time of its first balance. As the tire rolls down the road, rubber wears off, causing the tire to become imbalanced again. For this reason, when tires are rotated on the vehicle every 5-6,000 miles or 6 months, they should be checked and rebalanced if necessary.

Wheel alignment
The average price of a newly mounted and balanced tire with a new valve stem is roughly $125 per tire. That's $500 for the set of four. If your wheel alignment is out, you could lose that $500 in short order. That's why you should – at the very least – have your wheel alignment checked before driving out on a new set of tires.
So how could you lose money by not having an alignment done? By significantly decreasing the life of your new tires you'll be losing money. The steering and suspension of your vehicle have wear points: bushings, ball & socket joints, and miscellaneous mechanical links. When the steering and suspension system is new and adjusted according to factory specs, the rate at which the tires wear is minimized and the vehicle corners and handles smoothly. Over time, the steering and suspension systems are jostled and hammered, often a result of America's deteriorating infrastructure. This produces wear in these parts, causing the alignment to deviate from factory specs. And that variation results in poor cornering and handling, and a significant increase in tire wear.

There are three alignment angles that must be in line for the vehicle to handle properly and for minimal tire wear. Carmakers have built adjustment points into the steering and suspension that allow for re-alignment of the front end. Are you looking for a facility to do the work, and how much it will cost? Find out how much it will cost here.

Here, then, are those three:

Camber is the angle of wheel alignment that measures the tilting in or out in reference to the top of the tire. If a car's camber angle on a tire is too positive then the top of the tire is tilting outward. If the camber angle is too negative then the top of the tire is tilting inward. This angle is adjusted mechanically. Conditions that cause excessive camber are worn ball joints, control arm bushings, strut bearings/mounts, or excessively worn wheel bearings. These parts must be 'tight' (not sloppy) to ensure accurate alignment of the camber angle.

Toe: The best way to explain how this angle affects wheel alignment is to look down at the tops of your feet. Imagine that you're hovering above the hood of your car and you can see through the body of the vehicle. Your feet represent the tops of the tires. Now slowly turn your feet inward to an excessive degree. That's what your tires look like when they're toed-in. Now turn your feet outward excessively. That's what your tires look like when they're toed-out. This alignment angle is adjusted through the lengthening or shortening of a steering linkage part called a tie rod (found in both conventional and Rack & Pinion Steering systems). Obviously when this angle is out or in too far, tires wear out quickly! This angle also affects whether your car's steering wheel is straight. If the steering wheel is crooked, the toe's probably way out. Excessive toe can be caused by worn tie rods, loose rack mounts, worn idler arm/s (some vehicles have two), Pitman arm, drag link assembly, or a worn rack or steering box. Before you can accurately set the toe angle, you must have tight steering linkage parts.

Caster is adjusted either by mechanical adjustment or by bending a suspension part. The caster angle can be best illustrated by the bicycle of your childhood. Remember when you rode your bike with no hands? Remember how the handlebars returned to the straight-ahead position when you leaned right or left to turn a corner? This is the caster angle expressing itself. The caster angle of your car expresses itself when the steering wheel returns to the straight-ahead position after making a turn. It is also expressed when the car wants to wander right or left.

When having new tires installed, at the very least have the wheel alignment checked. If it's out, have the vehicle realigned or pay the price of another set of new tires sooner than later.



Article By Tom Torbjornsen at Autoblog.com.

Drowsy Driving

We all know driving can be dangerous. All those news reports, public service announcements and hashtags around dangers like drunk driving and texting while driving make sure of that. But there is one risk that is just starting to get the recognition it deserves – drowsy driving. The Governors Highway Safety Association partnered with State Farm Insurance to release a report Monday on the deleterious effects of driving while tired. It's not pretty. The GHSA found driving tired can be as dangerous as driving drunk.

Researchers estimate that there are 328,000 crashes each year involving drowsy driving. Of those crashes an average of 6,400 involved fatalities. The researchers also found that the sleepier the driver, the worse their driving. Going 24 hours without sleep was found to be comparable to a .10 percent blood alcohol level.

It's an incredibly common problem. The study found 84 million Americans drive tired every day. A 2015 AAA report referenced by the GHSA study found one in seven drivers admit to nodding off while driving at least once in their lives. A startling one third of drivers admitted to driving drowsy at least once a month in that study. Young people were found to be the worse offenders. More than 50 percent of drowsy driving crashes involved drivers 25 years old or younger.

Inebriated drivers are still the biggest threat on the road. Drunk driving accounted for 9,967 fatalities in 2014, or 31 percent of all fatal crashes according to the Centers for Disease Control. The study puts deaths due to drowsy driving between 2 and 20 percent of all traffic fatalities. That's quiet a wide margin, but the researchers cite some reasons as to why that number is probably low. Drowsy driving crashes are harder to pin down. Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel tend to have foggy memories due to fatigue. Police are generally not well trained to look for signs of drowsy driving as they are for drunk driving.

To avoid drowsy driving, the GHSA suggests teens get 8 to 10 hours of sleep and adults 7 to 9 hours of sleep before driving. They also advise that drivers avoid driving alone, and try not to start out trips in the early hours of the morning or early afternoon when people tend to be least alert and most tired.

by Erin Marquis at autoblog.com

Clean Your Car Without Washing It 1-3

Triage Tip 1: Clean horizontal surfaces with a spray detailer. You don't have to clean the whole car, just the obvious surfaces that catch dew or light rain and leave water marks. The eyesore areas are the hood, trunk and rear bumper.

Schultz recommends cleaning these surfaces in sections, using a spray detailer and microfiber towel, which is finely woven and makes better contact with the car's surface. For example, divide the hood in quarters and clean the four sections individually. He estimates you could even clean the entire car this way with spray detailer and only four towels.

Many car enthusiasts worry about scratching or putting swirl marks in the car's finish. The spray detailer is designed to avoid this by lubricating the dirt so it can be wiped up with a towel. But Schultz stresses the importance of flipping the towel often so you don't grind dirt into the clear coat — the transparent finish covering the car's paint.

Triage Tip 2: A clean windshield is (almost) a clean car. Glass is easy to clean and it sparkles like a jewel once you remove the haze and grime. Visibility is a huge safety factor, but a clean windshield also just makes you feel better about your car. When you're finished with the outside of the windshield, clean the driver-side window and side mirror, too. And for bonus points, clean the inside of the windshield and rearview mirror.

Keep a bottle of glass cleaner in your trunk, along with a roll of paper towels or the aforementioned microfiber towels. A foam spray cleaner also works well. For the really lazy folks, there's a squeegee. In addition to cleaning, a squeegee works well in the morning when there is dew all over the windshield. Squeegee off the morning moisture and your glass won't be left with those horrible drying marks.

Triage Tip 3: Take out the trash. It's a car, not a dumpster. Pull up next to a trash can somewhere and throw away papers, food or other junk that dates from the second Bush administration. Better yet, put a small trash bag in your car and empty it often, Pennington suggests.

While you're shoveling out your car, you might find a couple bucks' worth of change. Use it to buy a car deodorizer. Pennington says car interiors can absorb smells, but there are new products that actually absorb dreaded foul odors rather than just mask them. We've tested a few and they seem to work.

 by , Senior Consumer Advice Editor @edmunds.com

Clean Your Car Without Washing It 4-6

Triage Tip 4: Shake out the floor mats. When time is tight and you don't have a vacuum, you can simply grab your floor mats and shake off all the gravel, loose dirt, sand or — heaven forbid — used ketchup packets. The mat on the driver side probably is secured, so you'll have to work it off the anchors first. But the other floor mats are unattached and you can simply whisk them out for a quick flapping.

Triage Tip 5: Clean the wheels and tires. Pennington says that having dirty wheels on a clean car is like wearing old shoes with a new suit. So it makes sense to make the "shoes" look as sharp as possible.

The absolutely laziest way to go is just to use a cotton rag to wipe off the flat center section of your rims. (There's too much dirt on the rims for one of your microfiber towels to handle.) If time allows, work the rag into the spokes or crevices. You also can use a brush for the hard-to-reach areas.

As tires degrade, the rubber takes on a brownish hue that makes them look dull, Schultz says. So after you're finished cleaning the wheels, apply tire black with a sponge. Easier still, just use a spray product to get a quick shine.

Triage Tip 6: Clean anything you touch or look at. When you're in the car, you spend a lot of time looking at the gauges, the dashboard and the center console. So take that microfiber towel you used on the car's exterior and quickly clean off a few strategic areas inside the car. The plastic covering for the gauges is a must. Then, wipe the dust off the dashboard and sweep the fingerprints from the center console. Our experts recommend keeping car cleaning wipes in the glove compartment for quick interior touch-ups.

Now that you're finished, here's one more suggestion to make your life easier: Be very careful where you park. Sprinklers can undo all your hard work. And if you leave your car under the wrong tree, you might return to find it looking like a rock in the Galapagos Islands.


this article is by , Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ edmunds.com

Steer Clear of Distracted Driving

Limit the distractions: While it's always a good idea to have a phone with you in case of a breakdown or other auto emergency, keep distractions out of sight while driving. Switch your phone to silent, put it in airplane mode or turn it off completely before you enter your vehicle. Placing your phone in the glovebox, the backseat or the trunk (or even just in a bag) can also stop the temptation of answering your calls or texts, so you can focus on the road instead.

Just drive: Many other activities can also be distracting in the car, such as eating, drinking, managing your entertainment or even putting on makeup. Make sure your car is used only for getting you from Point A to Point B. Save the other activities for your destination.

Make it a family priority: Discuss the responsibilities that come with driving a vehicle and the hazards that accompany distracted driving. Set rules for your whole family so teen drivers know that you, too, are engaged in creating a safe zone in your own vehicle. Be a good role model even before your children are old enough to drive so they witness only good habits.

Set a reminder for safety: Place a sticky note on your phone or a photo of a loved one in a non-obstructive location in your car to remind you of your commitment to safe driving. Owners of the Apple Watch can download Edmunds.com's free app, DrivePromise by Edmunds, which is free and allows users to upload a photo of a loved one. The app will then detect if the wearer is in a moving vehicle and bring up the photo as a psychological reminder to drive safely.

Don't be a passive passenger: Spreading the message about safe driving doesn't stop when you're in the passenger seat. If you're in a car with driver who is using a phone, ask that it be put away — for everyone's safety.

Become an advocate for safe driving. Tell your family, friends, neighbors and everyone you know about the dangers of distracted driving. Check out DrivePromise by Edmunds. 

And remember that safer roads start with smart, focused driving.

5 Automotive Fixes You Can Do Yourself #1

by , Senior Consumer Advice Editor at edmunds.com

1. Check Your Tire Pressure and Inflate Your Tires
Money saved: A tire-pressure check and inflation is usually combined with other routine services, but the estimate for the shop cost of this alone is $22-$30. The biggest savings, however, is the increased fuel economy that comes with properly inflated tires: $112 a year in gas, according to an Edmunds.com study of its employees. According to the same study, the savings could be as high as $800 for drivers with severely underinflated tires. If the nearly 250 million registered passenger vehicles in the United States were only 7 percent underinflated and owners brought their tires up to the specified level, the overall savings would be about $23 billion per year, according to a 2005 Department of Transportation study.
Time required: 15 minutes, once a month
Parts required: None
Tools required: Tire pressure gauge, air pump (usually free at a gas station)

Why DIY: Keeping your tires properly inflated is important for three reasons, according to Matt Edmonds, vice president of Tire Rack, an online tire retailer. As Edmonds tells us, properly inflated tires improve safety (your car handles better during emergency braking and cornering), prolong tire life (tires wear more evenly) and reduce fuel costs. "You never notice an underinflated tire until you have to slam on the brakes or swerve around something on the highway," Edmonds says. "That's when the underinflated tire can really affect performance."

How to do it: Follow the steps in "How to Check Tire Pressure and Inflate Tires" and watch this video.

30 Essential Things You Should Keep in Your Car

30 Essential Things You Should Keep in Your Car

Some of us keep absolutely nothing in our car trunks, while others have enough packed to live in their cars for weeks. Somewhere in between is this list of thirty things we think every car owner should always have on hand

You can buy packaged emergency safety kits, like this $35 one from AAA, which includes a booster cable, flashlight, first aid kit, and many other items, but the DIY approach is more satisfying and you probably already have many of these items lying around. It's not just about emergencies or safety, either. Below I've separated the checklists by category

There's nothing like breaking down at the side of the road and realizing the spare tire in your trunk has a flat from the last time it happened. (True story.) To keep you up and running, keep these in your trunk:

  • Spare tire (in good condition), along with a tire jack and tire iron, because without them or someone else to help you, the spare tire is useless. Here's how to change a tire, in case you need a refresher. Also, if your wheels require a special security key, make sure that's always in your car too.

  • Tire inflater and sealer, like the Fix-a-Flat, which can plug a leak (and help you avoid using the above tools) just enough to get you to the auto shop.

  • Jumper cables, because dead batteries happen to the best of us. We've got a crash course on how to jump-start a car, but you should familiarize yourself with your engine just in case things are a little different. Alternatively, you can pack an emergency battery booster so you don't have to rely on a Good Samaritan coming along.

  • Your car's manual, which should be in the glove compartment already.

  • Tire pressure gauge: As our sister site Jalopnik points out: "checking tire pressure on a regular basis can improve handling, increase fuel economy, promote tire longevity, and even save lives."

  • Duct tape and WD-40. Seriously, check out these 10 heroic duct tape car repairs.

  • Car repair information. A business card for your auto repair shop, the number for AAA (if you're a member), and car insurance claim forms should also be stored in your glove compartment.

Safety and Survival

You might already have an emergency go bag or kit set up. If you spend a lot of time in your car and it's always nearby when you're home, you could just keep that kit in your trunk—or create a second, perhaps lighter version.

In any case, your safety supplies should include:

A few car-specific items:

  • Seat belt cutter and window breaker. This one's $7 on Amazon. Keep this in your glove compartment, not in your trunk, obviously.

  • Flares or reflective triangle, so you don't get hit at the side of the road in the dark.

  • Maps. Yes, the paper kind.

  • Ice scraper

  • Mylar space blanket to keep you warm during a blizzard.

  • Cardboard or carpet remnant you can place under tires for traction in the snow.

Convenience and Comfort

In addition to the basics above, you might want to keep these things around also:

  • Paper towels or a hand towel

  • Tissues or a roll of toilet paper

  • Pencil and paper

  • Umbrella

  • Spare change/emergency money

  • Recycled shopping bags for those impromptu shopping trips.

  • Blanket, which comes in handy not just for keeping warm in emergencies, but also at the park, baseball stadium, etc.

  • Change of clothes: also an emergency item, because if you get drenched in rain or snow, it's no good to sit around like that.

  • USB mobile device charger

10 Steps to Finding the Right Car for You step 10

Step 10. Time To Buy or Lease

Something shoppers often overlook when considering their next car is that one may be cheaper to buy but more expensive to own. Why? Even if two cars cost about the same to buy, one might depreciate faster or cost more to insure and maintain.

Before you commit to a car, you should estimate its long-term ownership costs. These include depreciation, insurance, maintenance and fuel costs. Edmunds True Cost to Own® (TCO®) presents this information in an easy-to-read table. It can help you make a smart decision up front that can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the car.

by , Senior Consumer Advice Editor at edmunds.com