Winter Maintenance – Stay Safe

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Driving at Night

night-driving-safety_infographic

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Happy New Year

Now is the time to make change, to begin again, and to create positive intentions.

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To Idle or Not to Idle, That is the Question

idelIt is that time of the year when many motorists let their vehicle “warm up” or idle before driving. In fact, today’s modern cars are ready to drive in cold temperatures without excessive idling.

Unless you are trying to defrost the windshield or warm the interior of your car, idling is not required for today’s vehicles. In most cases, idling longer than 30 seconds is unnecessary. The best way to warm up your car’s engine is to drive gently at the start. Remember, a vehicle gets zero miles per gallon when idling and the result is lower fuel economy and wasted money.

The idea of idling before driving dates back to when cars were built with carburetors. With new fuel-injection technology, complex computer systems and thinner synthetic oils, drivers don’t need to warm up their cars before hitting the road.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “When a car idles for more than 30 seconds, it has several negative effects, such as increasing air pollution unnecessarily, wasting fuel and money, and causing excessive wear or even damaging a car’s engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs, and the exhaust system. Contrary to popular belief, idling isn’t an effective way to warm up most car engines.”

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Parallel Parking Tips

parallel_parkingFew driving tasks are as intimidating as parallel parking. Many new motorists have failed an otherwise perfect driving test on this technicality alone. How many of us avoid parking on busy streets because we’re just not good at parallel parking? Thank goodness for strip-mall parking lots the size of a small state―maybe humiliation-free parking is the real motivation for suburban sprawl.

Seek out a Space
Find a parking spot where you feel comfortable that you can safely get your car into without crunching into another car. Drive around the block until you find a larger gap if you need to; you will need a space that’s several feet longer than your car.

Check your Mirrors
Look in your rearview mirror and driver-side mirror as you approach the space to ensure another car is not riding on your tail. Signal toward the space as you approach it, slow down,and stop. If another motorist rides up on your rear, simply maintain your position and keep signaling. You might even need to roll down your window and wave the other driver around; they might not have realized you’re trying to park.

Line up your Vehicle
Get your car in line with the parked vehicle directly in front of your desired spot. Don’t get too close on the side, or you might scrape the other car when you make your move. But you also don’t want to be too far away―two or three feet will suffice. Position your vehicle parallel to the parked car, aligning your bumpers or staying two or three feet behind.

Put your Vehicle in Reverse
Check the driver-side mirror to make sure the street behind you is clear of traffic before you begin to back up. Then look over your other shoulder at the space to assess the gap. Turn the steering wheel hard right. You are about to execute the first part of the S-turn.

Foot off you Brakes
Release the brakes and slowly begin backing into the turn. Visually check in front of and around your car often. Make sure you remain far enough away from the rear bumper of the vehicle in front of you as you slide in. If your rear tire hits the curb, you’ve gone too far; just shift gears and pull forward a few feet if this happens. (Note: Even the most gifted and seasoned parallel parkers do this―often.)

Turn the Steering Wheel
Turn to the left once the rear of your vehicle is predominantly in the space, still going backward. This is the last half of the S-turn, where you snake your way completely into the space and straighten out your car at the same time. Continue in reverse as far back as you can without tapping the bumper of the vehicle behind you.

And Finally
Shift into drive and turn the steering wheel to the right again, and move forward gently toward the curb while centering your vehicle in the space.

Voila! At this point, if all went well, you should be tucked nicely in the space and parallel parked. If you aren’t, there’s no harm done. Just signal that you’re about to leave the curb, pull out and alongside the car in front of you, signal toward the curb again, and start over. You won’t be the first person―and certainly not the last―who tries parallel parking a few times before getting it right.

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Car Safety Tips for Children

From the first car ride home from the hospital on, parents are responsible for making sure their child is safe during each car trip. For young children, this starts with proper car seat installation, but there’s so much more to it than that.

car_safety_tips_02Install and use Your Car Seat Correctly
You can have it checked at a fire stations, hospital or other child safety event. Never use an old or used child safety seat unless you’re positive it has never been involved in a vehicle accident, and you have all the parts and instructions.

Young Children
Kids younger than 12 years old should always ride in the backseat and should be wearing their seat belt at all times. Never share a seat belt.

Kids in the Car Alone – NEVER
Do not ever leave you child alone in the car, not even for a couple of minutes. When parked in the sun, the temperature inside your car can rise 20 degrees and cause heatstroke. Your child is so vulnerable and could be removed from the vehicle in a blink of an eye.

Toys in the Carcar_safety_tips_03
Be selective about toys in your car. Stick to soft ones that will not injure your child. Make sure to secure loose object and toys in your car. A loose item in a crash can injure your child.

Repairs and Maintenance
Be sure to keep up with necessary repairs and maintenance on your vehicle. A broken down vehicle is always a hassle, but if it happens when your child is in the car, it can be even more difficult to deal with!

Safety First
Pull over for a dropped toy, crying baby or anything else that may distract you from the road. You are driving with precious cargo and always need to be safe.

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Autumn Car Care Checklist

falldown-5178-21Oil Change
Many motorists believe their cars’ oils should be changed every 3,000 miles, however most late-model vehicles now can go 5,000 to 7,000 miles between oil changes. Check your owner’s manual and get on a routine fore good car care.

Tires
Check tire pressure and tread depth. Check the pressure on all the tires, including the spare, with a quality gauge when the tires are cold. Be sure to look for recommended pressure on the driver’s door jamb and NOT the tire wall.

Battery
Ensure the battery cable connections are tight, and the terminals are free from corrosion. If the battery is more than three years old, it’s a good idea to have it tested to determine how much life it has left.

Wiper Blades
Wiper blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Make sure the windshield washer reservoir is filled.

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