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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. (, 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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TRED this way

Posted by carsdiva on July 4, 2013

In a society that demands instant satisfaction……along comes Tred.  Couple that with the factor of limited time, and the general aversion to car shopping, and you have a genius solution.  Think about test driving a car in your comfort zone, on your own turf, without having to go to a dealership.  Yes.  It’s true.  And it was launched last month.

TRED logoTred delivers vehicles (up to four) to the shopper’s home.  For $19, the shopper gets a15-mile test drive, along with the company of Tred Auto Experts, of course.  They, much like the traditional sales consultant at a dealership, ride with the shopper to answer their questions about the vehicle, and the overall sales process.  Furthermore, Tred then provides a price report to the shopper that compares the participating dealer’s price with third-party sources— think and

So who’s involved?  Well the company is led by CEO Grant Feek, a Harvard MBA grad who grew up working as a porter at a BMW dealership.  And then [some] of the money backing the venture– $1.7 million to be exact, comes from Rick Wagoner, former CEO of General Motors.  (I’d wager to say that having his automotive background and expertise on board helped to push this along.)  Dealerships pay a subscription fee to participate, and about 40 have signed on so for, beginning in the King County, WA (Seattle area).

Brilliant.  And the car biz continues to evolve……

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Driving Under the Influence….of a Cell Phone

Posted by carsdiva on April 29, 2013

Did you know that of the 3.5 million people in the U.S. that suffer serious injuries in motor vehicle accidents, 24% involve cell phone usage?

7 out of 10 Americans talk on the phone will driving.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69% of Americans had used their cell phone while driving in the last 30 days before they were surveyed. Furthermore 31% sent or read text messages or emails while driving.

The ongoing debate of driver distraction

More and more auto manufacturers are offering hands-free/bluetooth in-car communication systems–  most people have heard of Ford’s SYNC system, and the others have followed suit:  Mercedes’ mbrace, Toyota’s enTune, Chevy’s MyLink, and so forth.  Definitely something to keep in mind when buying a new car.  If you’re not in the market for a new vehicle, well there are bluetooth ear pieces, you can pull over if you absolutely need to answer a call or text, or hec, just wait until you arrive at your destination.  Just as “don’t drink and drive” has become a commonplace advisory phrase, so now has “don’t drive and text” (or talk on your cell phone).

cellphone-carMultiple research studies indicate that texting while driving causes greater impairment than driving while under the influence of alcohol. Of course there are plenty of variables– level of intoxication vs. duration of time looking at the phone, etc…  But the point is it’s dangerous– more so than most people realize.  Would you bring your cocktail in the car while driving?  No. (Well….let’s hope not.) It puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?  Just ask yourself– Is it really worth the risk to others on the road, much less yourself, to answer that call or text right this second?

Guilty as Charged

I know on a personal note, I’ve been passing more and more billboards and signs that clearly state the ticket price if caught while either texting or using a hand-held cell phone.  Here are some interesting statistics from the Governors Highways Safety Association about the various state laws when it comes to cell phone usage:

Hand-held Cell Phone Use:  10 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, D.C., and the US Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held devices while driving.  i.e. you can be pulled over simply for this reason and get a ticket without any other traffic violation (except for Maryland & West Virginia until July 2013)

Novice Drivers:  36 States & DC ban cell phone use by novice drivers, and 19 states & DC ban cell phone use by bus drivers

Texting:  39 states, DC, Guam & US Virgin Islands ban texting while driving (45 states for novice drivers)

We’ve all heard of MADD— (mothers against drunk driving,) created in 1980 to stop drunk driving and prevent underage drinking.  Well, as the times have changed, and after looking at all the research and statistics that indicate that texting could be a more serious danger than drinking, perhaps they should revise it to MAID….Mothers Against Impaired Driving.  (To advocate against all impairments, of course.)

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