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Driving in A Winter Wonderland….Part 2

Posted by carsdiva on November 18, 2013

Tis’ the season for winterizing your car! I covered this topic last year, right about this time, but it’s always good to be reminded of what to do to prepare your car for cold weather.  I’m delighted to say that this year’s rendition is from a “guest” author.  (Special thank you to Doug Climenhaga!)  And now, without further adieu……

As the holidays approach we all know it is “that time of year” to get the coats, hats and gloves ready. And while we prepare ourselves to compensate for the colder temperatures we must remember to prepare our vehicles for sub-freezing temperatures as well. Your safety on the road from December to February can be greatly increased with only a few steps.

winter wonderlandYou don’t need a garage full of tools or grease under your fingernails to prepare your car for colder weather. Follow these simple tips to winterize your car for three months of warm and safe winter driving.

Check Windshield Wipers and Wiper Fluid

Remember that time you were driving and couldn’t see through the salt, slush, and grime on your windshield? What saved you? Pressing the wiper fluid button. Too many people forget how important wiper fluid is for safe winter driving, so be sure your reservoir is full every two weeks.

Checking your wipers is easy, too. Look for cracks in the rubber coating and make sure they glide easily over the glass with no hopping or bumping. If you need to replace them, simply remove the blade from the wiper arm and take it into an automotive store. The clerk will find you a new set and you will be ready to wipe away anything winter throws at you.

Check Antifreeze Levels and Mixture

Although radiator fluid is important year-round to regulate engine temperature, the name “antifreeze” clearly signifies its importance in the winter. A 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze ensures your engine starts and runs smoothly in subzero temperatures.

Every vehicle has an antifreeze reservoir in the engine. There will be a fill line for you to reference and your family mechanic will most likely check your antifreeze mixture for free. Your mechanic may also recommend a coolant flush to drain the old antifreeze, clean out the system and add a new mixture. Old coolant is full of dirt and rust particles that can damage your cooling system.

Inspect Tire Pressure and Tread Depth

Sleet, slush and ice are no match for a quality set of tires. Before winter starts be sure to check the tire pressure and tread depth to ensure optimal performance.  Under-inflated or bald tires offer no help on slick and dangerous roads.

Check the inside of your driver’s door or your owner’s manual for the correct tire pressure. You can find a tire gauge at any automotive store. The “penny test” is an easy way to check the tread. Place the penny upside down into several areas of the tread. If you see the top of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires. If you don’t, you should be good to go.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Nobody expects his or her vehicle to break down, slide off the road or get in an accident. Things just happen. But when you find yourself on the side of the road with no warm vehicle to sit inside of, how do you protect yourself from the winter driving elements?

It’s always wise to prepare for the worst and a Winter Emergency Kit can easily fit in the corner of your trunk. Buy a plastic container with a lid and fill it with the following items: First Aid kit, blankets, gloves, hats, water, energy bars, a flashlight, reflective markers, matches, an ice scraper and jumper cables.

Keep Gas Tank Half Full

Nobody wants to run out of gas during the winter but the reason for keeping a half tank goes far beyond inconvenience. Shifting temperatures in the winter cause condensation to form on the walls of the gas tank that eventually drip down into the gas. And since water is heavier than gas it sinks to the bottom of your tank.

The more water-to-gas ratio in your tank the higher chances you have of introducing water to your fuel lines, and if they reach 32° or below they will freeze and block your engine of the fuel it needs to start and run properly. By keeping at least half a tank you will always have a dominant gas-to-water condensation ratio. Fill your tank now and refill when you get to half a tank—it’s that easy.

About the guest author:

Doug Climenhaga is president of SVI International, Inc. (http://www.sviinternational.com/), a leading supplier of parts for industrial lift equipment. With more than 20 years experience in the hydraulic and automotive lift industries, he holds two patents and has designed scores of problem-solving products.

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Driving in a Winter Wonderland…

Posted by carsdiva on November 19, 2012

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner, and with that comes cold weather, and probably snow.  Sure, if you live in a place like Cali or the sunshine state, you probably don’t have to worry about this, but for those of us in the north, central or eastern parts of the country, it’s inevitable.  If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to winterize your car. Well, at least if you want to [try to] avoid the hassles that accompany driving during the winter season.

Thanks to a recent post by shopautoweek.com, along with a few of my own tips, here’s a list of items to check or perform on your vehicle before the heart of the cold season hits:

  1. Tires.  Check the tread depth of your tires.  Summer driving tends to wear out the tread depth quicker than winter, and the last thing you want is to feel like you’re on a slip and slide during a snow fall.  Furthermore, if your vehicle is equipped with low-profile tires, it’s time switch to either all-season or snow tires.  They provide more traction and can be the distinguishing factor as to whether you’re smooth sailing over the river and through the woods, or stuck fish-tailing.  Trust me, I can tell you from experience I’ve been there before and it’s a slippery slope— no pun intended.
  2. Wheel Alignment.  Most of you probably know what it feels like when your wheels are misaligned– you loosen your grip on the steering wheel and the car drifts left or right, or if it’s really bad, you find yourself struggling to keep your vehicle on its intended path.  Imagine this combined with slippery conditions— double-trouble.  Avoid the headache and get your wheels properly aligned.
  3. Fluids.  Time to check your fluid levels. If you drive an automatic transmission vehicle (like the vast majority of Americans), this is especially pertinent to you.  Cold weather is harsher on your transmission, and besides, it’s suggested that you change the fluid and filters every 30,000 miles for optimal performance and protection.  Also check your antifreeze, (aka coolant), which keeps the water in your radiator and engine from freezing in cold temperatures.
  4. Wiper Blades.  No explanation necessary.  Check your blades, and if necessary, replace them.  They always seem to malfunction when it’s down-pouring, or worse, during a snowstorm.  It’s also a good idea to check your windshield washer fluid at this time.  As outside conditions worsen, and salt and dirty snow cover your windshield, you’ll need an abundance of fluid to keep it clean.  Otherwise, you’ll find yourself with a frost-bitten face, as you hang your head out the window to see what’s ahead.
  5. Battery.  It’s one thing to jump your car in the summer, and another when the temperature is below zero. Be sure to keep cables in your car should the need arise, especially if you drive an older vehicle.  (Note: batteries lose power in the cold.)
  6. Service.  Do you have any “check” lights on that you’ve been procrastinating to investigate?  Get your car serviced immediately.  If you’re having car troubles now, you can be almost guaranteed that they’ll really surface with the drop in temperature.
  7. GAS. Keep your tank full (and no, I’m not talking about increasing your intake of beans, folks.)  Should you follow steps 1-6 and your car still breaks down, you’ll thank me.  If you’re stuck on the side of the road during inclement weather conditions, you’ll want to keep your car running for the heat.

A couple of additional reminders to add– keep a snow brush and ice scraper on hand, and your cell phone (in case of emergencies, of course.)  Though you can’t control the winter weather conditions, you can certainly do your best to prepare for them!

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Where & How to Sell Your Ride

Posted by carsdiva on July 11, 2008

Looking to sell your car? Whether you arent satisfied with the trade-in value at the dealership, or you need the cash before you can shop for a new ride, it can be a long and frustrating process. To alleviate some of the stress, I thought Id give you some tips on how and where to get started!

Things to Consider, Research & Do First

One of the first things to consider is the time of year/season that could affect the sale of your vehicle. For example- you may have a sporty convertible in excellent condition, but the chances of it selling for a competitive price during the snowy winter months in the Midwest are pretty slim. (Naturally, use your common sense!)

Check out Edmund's True Market Value pricing.

The next step is to decide on a selling price for your vehicle. Survey online and newspaper classified ads for the same or similar vehicles, making sure to note the mileage, trim level and condition of the vehicle. You can also check other internet sites like, Autotrader.com and Cars.com to see what your car is selling for in your area, and how many are in the market. The more like-vehicles listed, the more competitive you’ll have to be with your pricing. I’d also recommend checking out Edmund’s True Market Value pricing system. The system adjusts depending on key factors such as color, mileage, and specs to give you fair value for the vehicle. And keep in mind that if you’re contemplating a fair number, you can always lower the price at a later date, so be sure that you’re comfortable with what you choose.

Remember the importance of "first impressions," so get to work and clean it out!

Remember the importance of "first impressions!"

Remember the importance of “first impressions.” If someone doesn’t like what they see right off the bat, well you can almost guarantee that they’re not going to take a second glance. That being said, take the time to wash the outside, clean out the inside, and if needed, detail your vehicle. If it needs a few low-cost repairs or maintenance like fixing a dent or two, getting an oil change, or buffing out a scratch, then consider doing it yourself. Spending a few extra dollars may save you the headache, and shorten the sales process. Another good idea would be to get a CarFax or Experian’s AutoCheck vehicle history report, to show potential buyers that odometer reading is correct and justify the condition of the vehicle.

How & Where to Advertise… from online & traditional newspaper classifieds to putting up a sign in your car

So now where do you advertise? Nowadays there are so many options out there- from the traditional newspaper classifieds, to online listings, to just sticking a “for sale” sign in your car window. If you don’t mind cruising around with a sign in the window, then start there. It’s cost-effective, takes virtually no time to do, and you could potentially sell the car locally, especially if you maintain a shorter radius on your daily commute.

Over 80% of the population uses the internet at some point during the car buying process, whether it’s research on a particular make/model, pricing information, or to search out a particular new or used vehicle. By utilizing online classifieds, you can reach a wider audience than you can by simply relying on your local newspaper listings or the sign-in-the-window method. Some of the top online vehicle classifieds include AutoTrader.com and Cars.com, and most of your local newspapers use one of these two services within their vehicle classifieds section. Craisglist.org is also becoming more frequently used, typically for local shoppers. You can also place a traditional ad in the local paper, but remember that most people refer to the internet, even when they’re checking out the local paper.

The key to online ads is creative writing (which I’ll go into more detail about in my next blog post.) Think of ways to make your ad stand out from the rest, but make sure to include key facts like the mileage, price, color, condition, year, make, model and trim level. It’s also good when noting the price, to describe it as the “asking price” or give a price, followed by “OBO” (or best offer.) This informs people that you’re willing to negotiate which tends to attract more potential buyers.

Be prepared to answer your phone if someone calls to inquire about your vehicle for sale.

Keep in mind that people are busy and most often would rather speak to someone right off the bat to determine if the vehicle is worth looking at. For those who don’t want to list your phone number, you can include your email, but chances are you’ll get a greater response from potential buyers if they can call you. And if you do list your number, be prepared to answer your phone!

And finally…don’t forget to spread the word! Let your friends, co-workers, and family know that you’re selling your vehicle. People always prefer to buy from someone they know, so a personal referral is a much more promising potential sale.

Something New: A Speedy & Effortless Alternative

Don’t have the time to go through all the steps, or want to avoid the phone calls and people coming to see the vehicle? Do you just want to sell the car fast and be done with it? From time to time here at CarsDiva, we check out new automotive industry services for consumers and we think we found an interesting alternative for private sellers. Check out Copart Direct. They take care of the whole process for you, from start to finish!

A speedy and effortless alternative

At Copart Direct, you call them up and work with their representative to determine a fair value and the number to expect for your vehicle. You then drop off your car for sale at one of their nationwide facilities where they inspect and photograph the car. Copart Direct uses an online technology process where your car is exposed to over 100,000 registered buyers worldwide (typically wholesalers and dealers.) After the online virtual auction, the representative will contact you to give you the low-down on the number of bids, where they came from, and the amount of the highest bid. You then decide if you want to accept the bid, and after you do, you pick up your check! That’s it- easy and hassle-free. They take care of all the paperwork, transport, etc… One thing to keep in mind is that it is an online auction, so you may take a bit of a hit on the price. However, if you want to avoid the sales process and save time, then it’s a great alternative to selling the vehicle on your own.

Got more questions? I’ve got answers! Feel free to drop me a line at CarsDiva.com and I’d be more than happy to help you out in any way I can!

Up Next

…Tips for creative online ads and finalizing the sales process!

Posted in Car Shopping & the Internet, Maintain your Ride, Selling Your Car, Uncategorized, Your Money and Your Car | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Tips to Save Gas…and save your extra dollars!!!

Posted by carsdiva on April 2, 2008

I came across some very useful advice today on theDailyGreen.com and thought I’d share with all of you. Given the ridiculous gas prices, everyone’s looking for a way to save a couple of cents, so I found this rather fitting. According to the Consumer Federation of America, if you follow these guidelines, you’ll save at least 20% on fuel costs. Along with each tip, I’ve included the amount you’re estimated to save according the CFA’s studies:

CarsDiva shares tips to save on fuel costs. 1. Keep it CLEAN

Did you know that you can increase your gas mileage 10% if you have a clean air filter? AND almost 25% of all cars need a new one!

Savings: $0.28 a gallon

2. Straighten out

You all know that if your tires are poorly aligned, they’ll wear out faster (especially on rear-wheel drive cars). However, they also force your engine to work harder, using up more gas.

Savings: $0.28 a gallon

3. Tune Up your engine

Don’t ignore the “Check your engine” light. One- you’ll most likely save on gas, and two- you could prevent more costly damages.

Savings: $0.11 a gallon

4. Keep them filled

Over 25% of vehicles have somewhat deflated tires, which also results in fuel deficiency.  Soo…pump ‘em up!

CarsDiva says, keep your tires filled...Savings: $0.08 a gallon.  

5. Screw it or replace it

If your gas cap is loose, broken, or missing, two things can result: 1- your gas mileage can decrease, and 2- for those of you “green” fanatics, you could be harming the environment.

Savings: $0.02 a gallon

6. Gimme a break

Slow down….did you know you can decrease increase fuel efficiency 7% if for every 5mph you slow down on the highway? (I’m gonna be perfectly honest…this is a tough one for me!)

Savings:  $0.19 a gallon, (reducing speed from 70 mph to 65 mph)

Gimme a break...(CarsDiva)

7. Smooth ridin’

Don’t slam on the breaks or floor the gas pedal (if you don’t have to). You could save up to 33% of your gas!

Savings: $0.48 a gallon.

8. Get off it

One of my biggest pet peeves…. Don’t ride with your foot on the break! Not only do you wear out your breaks, but this is the number #1 way to waste your gas.

Savings: $0.96 per gallon

9. Lose some weight

Stick to your New Year’s resolution and lose those extra pounds! (just kidding) But seriously, get rid of the extra poundage in your car and yes, you’ll increase your fuel efficiency by 1-2% for every 100lbs you drop.

Savings: $0.04 a gallon, (based on 100lbs removed)

10. Stop putzing

Keeping your car running idle causes pollution and wastes gas. (So in other words, you really don’t need to warm up your car for an hour if it’s cold out…just throw on an extra jacket and you’ll save $$$)

Savings: $0.01 a gallon, (for every 2 min you keep it running idle)

Posted in Going Green, Maintain your Ride, Road Trips, Your Money and Your Car | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

“Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful…” (or soon will be…)

Posted by carsdiva on November 20, 2007

snow-title.jpg 

 

As the cold season approaches, keep in mind there are some things to prioritize when it comes to your vehicle in order to prevent unwanted situations.   

Priorites Please… 

First off, if you need to, get your car serviced!  Have you seen some lit up “check” buttons you’ve been procrastinating to investigate?  If it’s 75 degrees and sunny and your car breaks down, well so you get delayed a bit, but no big deal.  However, as the snow begins to fall and temperatures drop you don’t want get stuck waiting outside as your toes get frost bitten, do you?  Make sure to have the mechanic check your battery and belts.  If you’re having any issues starting your car in warm weather, well you can be almost sure that there will come a time in the cold when your car won’t start.  (Note:  batteries lose power in the cold).  It may not seem like a priority now, but when it’s 10 below zero and you have to jump your car, well, you’ll think twice about my advice.  My suggestion- take care of it now.

Number 2- check your antifreeze (or coolant).  Do you know what antifreeze does anyway?  (I know I was a little unsure, so I’ll let you know.  AND if you know why you should do something, well it’s a bit more motivating to get it done, right?)  Antifreeze inhibits your cooling system from corrosion, and also absorbs heat from the engine, dissipating it through the radiator, preventing your car from overheating.  You really should drain and refill the coolant system to remove any dirt or rust, but if you don’t do that, at very least check the level.  No coolant in your car will prevent your heat from working.  AND make sure the antifreeze you put in has a 50/50 ratio, coolant to water, which equals a lower freezing point—important for those treacherous winter days. 

 

 gas-gage.jpg   Fill ‘Er Up! 

The next important thing to remember, though it gets more expensive every day, is to ALWAYS try to keep your gas tank full!  First off, late at night when the temperature drops and the sun’s not out, do you really want to stand outside freezing as you fill your gas to get somewhere?  And secondly, if by chance your car does break down, or you get stuck in a snowstorm, you’ll probably want to keep your car running for the heat.  And um, well if you have no gas, well then you’ll remember the importance of why I told you to keep your tank full.

Make sure to check your windshield wiper fluid.  We’ve all been behind that big semi that drives through a puddle and slops that brown, slushy snow on our windshield.  You’re frantically trying to spray fluid to clean it as you drive down the road.  Don’t get stuck without out it, or you’ll be sticking your head out your window to be able to see.  On that same token, make sure your front and rear defrosters work, or you’ll end up in the same bind.   

“Slide, slide, slippety slide…” 

For those of us (like me) that are ridiculously stubborn and insist on driving their little rear-wheel drive sports cars in the treacherous weather, well I recommend snow tires and sand bags.  (Trust me- I can vouch for the importance of these two things from personal experience.)  Putting some extra weight in your trunk (sand bags or kitty litter work best) can keep your car from fish-tailing across the freeway.  Snow tires are recommended for all vehicles, but especially smaller/lighter cars or those with rear-wheel drive.  Although they don’t work miracles in a gigantic snowstorm, they will give you more traction. 

Keep some basic supplies in your car.  I would recommend a snow brush and ice scraper.  And maybe an extra thick pair of gloves if you forget either of the two.  Also- don’t forget your cell phone!  Although I wouldn’t recommend talking on it while driving—most police officers will slap you with a fine if caught, you should have it in the car (and fully charged).  If you do get stuck, you don’t want to have to walk 5 miles to the nearest gas station.

 

woman-cleaning-car.jpg

 

Before you get in your car, make sure you clear off any frost or snow- and I’m talking the entire vehicle.  One, because most state laws require you to and you don’t want to get stuck with a fine; and two, well that snow on top of your car is very likely to slide onto your windshield once you start moving.  And trust me (again from experience) you’ll end up sticking your arm out the window, trying to brush it off with hand while your driving. 

car-donuting.jpg

 

Time for Donuts- Woo-Hoo!  (Note: we’re not talking Krispy Kremes here…) 

Most importantly, know your car!  You should know how it handles in the snow (go do donuts in a parking lot… but make sure it’s empty first); if you have front, rear or four-wheel drive, if you’ve got antilock breaks and stability control.   

And remember, (and I’ll be the first to admit I have a lead foot), slow down in icy or snowy conditions.  As well as you know your car, Mother Nature takes precedent here and you don’t want to end up in a ditch, or forced to decrease your savings to pay for a fender bender.  Stay far enough behind other vehicles and be aware at all times- even if you’re being as careful as possible, it doesn’t mean other drivers are doing the same! 

And for those of you who think you’re exempt from the hazards of winter conditions, well check out what happened to this poor lady:

“A woman on her way to hair appointment crashed her car through the hair salon. Della Miller, 73, crashed into Tina’s Hair Pros’ windows Wednesday, knocking one customer six feet across the room, Soldotna police officer Marvin Towle said.  The parking area in front of the salon was snow-covered.

hair-crash.jpg

 

Hey- at least she still got to keep her appointment.  Her car may have been a wreck but at a very expensive price, her hair looked good…     

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