Tag Archives: tires

Winter Ready

December 1, 2013 by

It would be nice to be able to call in to work every time we had a little bit of snow, but that just isn’t realistic. We have to get out there and brave the snow and ice in the winter months. Still, there are a few things you can check to make your winter driving safer:

Wiper blades – Your wipers should clear the dirty slush that continually flies onto your windshield without leaving a smeary mess. If not, they need to be replaced. Keep in mind that it’s recommended to replace wiper blades annually. Always having enough windshield wiper fluid is important, too, particularly fluid that withstands freezing temperatures.

Battery – If your battery is more than three years old, it’s a good idea to have a certified battery shop or mechanic test the battery. You don’t want to be stranded due to battery issues that could have been avoided.

Tires – Monitor your tire pressure and tread frequently throughout the winter. Your tire pressure may have dropped along with the temperatures. For every ten degrees the temperature drops, tires average a loss of one pound per square inch. Your tires should also have adequate tread on them. Having them checked out by a professional before a big snow is a good idea. Always have a spare tire and jack with you as well.

Belts and Hoses – Have a professional check them to make sure there are no leaks, bulges, or fraying. The cold weather will only exacerbate these issues, making the hoses and belts more brittle.

Radiator – Make sure that your radiator is filled with the proper water/anti-freeze mixture that is recommended by your vehicle manufacturer.

Gas tank – Always keep a quarter to a half-gallon of gas in the tank at all times to prevent moisture buildup in the tank.

It’s also a good idea to have a winter weather kit in your vehicle. To make an emergency kit, include a blanket, boots and gloves, an extra set of warm clothes, food and water, an ice scraper, a small shovel, a flashlight, windshield washer fluid, flares, jumper cables, a first aid kit, and an abrasive material to help if you get stuck (such as sand or kitty litter).

Preparing for Road Trips

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Road trips can be a lot of fun, but they can also turn into a nightmare if you aren’t prepared. There are a few items that should be checked before you set out for your destination to ensure that your vehicle is as ready for the drive as you are.

  • Make sure to check all fluids—antifreeze, power steering, brake, transmission, and windshield wiper.
  • If you aren’t current with your oil changes, get it changed before leaving.
  • Inspect your hoses and belts for wear and tear. If something looks askew, take it to a trusted mechanic and have them take a look.
  • Check all tires, including the spare, to make sure that they’re in good shape and that the tire pressure is correct.
  • Be certain you have a jack and lug wrench in case you need to change a tire.
  • Check your battery to make sure there are no corrosions, cracks, or leaks.

I recommend doing all of these things a week in advance in case there are any problems. This should give you adequate time to take care of any repairs. There are also some items that are important to have along with you in case you do have car issues.

  • Gas can. Don’t wait until the tank is too low to fill up. On a road trip, it can be hard to know how far the next gas station will be.
  • Water. Make sure to have plenty of bottled water; the summer heat can be extremely dehydrating.
  • Phone charger. This should be used your entire trip to ensure your cell phone has a full charge.
  • Shade. Bring window shades, towels, and hats.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses. Just because you’re in the car doesn’t mean your skin and eyes can’t get sun-damaged.
  • Flashlight. Nothing is worse than being stranded in the dark.
  • Maps. We often use phones or the GPS on our vehicles, but having an actual map is necessary in case our electronics fail.
  • Walking shoes. Make sure you have shoes that are comfortable for walking in case you have to “hoof it.”

Be sure to prepare for your road trip and carry along a few extras just in case. With these few tips, you should be well on your way to a fun, safe trip.

Spring Cleaning

March 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It’s that time of year again. Spring cleaning not only applies to our homes but to our vehicles as well. After the long winter, it’s time to give your vehicle some TLC. After all, the best way to avoid having to spend a lot of money on your vehicle is by doing regular upkeep.

All of the sand, salt, and other chemicals that are thrown on the streets during the winter can really wreak havoc on your vehicle. To begin with, an extremely good wash is in order. This doesn’t just mean rolling through a carwash on your way home from work. That will not get the areas that are in desperate need of cleaning.

It’s extremely important to clean underneath your vehicle as well. That’s where the majority of all of the gunk is hanging out. Also, the wheel wells need to really be cleaned and scrubbed. This is a prime spot for rust to start. Open your doors and make sure that you clean the door jambs, where the hinges are, and the bottom of the interior door. This is another place that salt and chemicals hang out and can begin to create rust issues. Anything that can be done to prevent the beginning of rust needs to be done. Once it starts, there aren’t a lot of great options.

After giving your vehicle a good wash, paying close attention to all the “hot spots,” you should be in good shape to begin the spring. My last advice is that if you notice your vehicle driving a little funny, pulling one way or another, you may need an alignment. The potholes can create this issue very easily, and it’s better to get it taken care of right away than to drive around with your alignment off. One result of driving with your alignment off—it can wear your tires unevenly, possibly causing you to need new tires.