Be Afraid of Driving on Old Tires!

Be Afraid of Driving on Old TiresNever mind ghosts, witches and zombies, do you know what is really frightening? Driving on old tires!

It is critical to your safety on the road that you are able to recognize the signs of worn out, dangerous tread. Even if old tires look okay, they could be seriously compromised and pose a serious a safe driving hazard.

Old tires may not show any obvious signs of deterioration. While they may appear to be safe, usable tires, cracks can develop both on the inside and the outside of the tire. Since the rubber compounds used in tires degrade over time, cracks will develop in the rubber, regardless of mileage and wear. Ultimately, this cracking leads to the steel belts in the tread separating from the rest of the tire.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association reports that putting an expiration date on a tire can be difficult since factors such as heat, driving, and storage conditions can greatly impact the usable life of a tire. The recommendation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is to refer to the guidelines set by the specific tire manufacturer when it comes to tire aging and usable life.

Not unsure how old your tires are? In 2000 the U.S. Department of Transportation began requiring tires to have a DOT code. With this code, you can learn details about the tire, including its age. Decipher the code by downloading a free app offered by the Tire Safety Group. Available for Android and iPhone, the app enables you to get to get a free Tire Facts Report by simply entering the DOT code from your tire.  The report lets you know if a tire is old, defective, or has been the subject of a recall. The app shows you where to find the code on the tire and even includes a flashlight function to help you see the code clearly!

If your tires are damaged, old, worn or otherwise compromised, don’t risk the scare of a blowout or a wreck! Buy some new tires as soon as possible!

Be Prepared for Dead Car Battery

dead car batteryFall is here and soon the temperatures will be getting colder. Since low temperatures lead to sluggish batteries, your chances of experiencing a dead car battery will be increased. As the colder months approach, you will not only want to be equipped with a quality set of jumper cables in your car, you will also need to know how to use them safely.

Jump starting a vehicle isn’t difficult, but because jumper cables transmit electrical current from one car to another, it can be dangerous if not done correctly. It is necessary to take precautions to prevent dangerous electric shocks.

Once you have purchased your jumper cables and have them stowed in your vehicle, take some time to review these steps so you will be prepared to use them!

Getting Ready to Jump Starting the Car:

  1. Park the running car so the cars face each other, about one to two feet apart. Make sure that the cars are not in contact with each other.
  2. Set the parking brakes on both cars. Turn off both cars and take out the keys.
  3. Lay out the jumper cables on the ground, making sure the clamps do not touch each other.
  4. Open the hood to both cars. Locate the batteries and battery terminals. (See your owner’s manual for details). The two terminals on each battery are usually covered in red or black, with a + or – sign on top. Confirm you are able to identify which is positive, and which is negative, as this will be crucial to the success of your jump. Dirty or corroded battery terminals should be cleaned off with a rag or wire brush.

Attaching the Jumper Cables to the Car:

  1. Attach the red, positive cable clamp to the positive (+) battery terminal of the dead battery. Make sure you have a solid connection to the battery terminal.
  2. Attach the red, positive cable clamp on the other side of the jumper cables to the working battery’s positive (+) battery terminal
  3. Connect the black, negative cable clamp to the working battery’s negative (-) battery terminal. In the vehicle with the dead battery, attach that clamp to a metal part of the car that is unpainted, as far from the battery as the cable will reach. This will ground the circuit and help prevent sparking.
  4. Once you have one end of the jumper cables connected to a car, it is critical that the other end of the cables do not touch the metal clamps to anything other than the specified components on the other car. Make sure that none of the cables are in contact with moving engine parts before starting the engine.

Performing the Jump Start:

  1. Start the engine of the car with the working battery.
  2. Let the car to run for several minutes. The time required to get the jump to work may vary depending on the age and condition of the battery.
  3. Attempt to start the car with the dead battery. If unsuccessful, allow the working car to charge the battery for a several minutes longer and try again.
  4. As soon as the disabled car is running again, you can disconnect the jumper cables, starting with the black, negative cable clamps. Never allow the clamps to come in contact with each other while any part of the cables is still attached to a vehicle.
  5. Taking the charged car for a short drive lets the battery to build up a charge to ensure the battery doesn’t die again once you turn off the car.

It’s That Time – Back to School Safe Driving

Back to School Safe DrivingEven if you don’t have students in your home, back to school time effects everyone when it comes to driving. Now is the time of year when the school buses and backpacked pedestrians begin appearing everywhere and we all need to think about back to school safe driving.  While we all can relate to the frustration of being “stuck” behind a school bus, it is important for everyone’s safety that we exercise patience and also know school bus traffic laws. It is equally important that we pay attention for students in school zones who may be excited or distracted as they make their way to and from school.

The National Safety Council reports that school buses are one of the safest forms of transportation for students. They caution, however, that more children are hurt or killed outside of the bus when they fail to watch where they are going, or when a motorist does not pay attention and illegally passes a stopped school bus.

The council offers the following points to remind drivers of school traffic safety laws and procedures:

  • In all 50 states it is illegal to pass a school bus that has stopped to pick up or drop off children.
  • In all 50 states traffic in both directions is required to stop on undivided roadways when students are being picked up and dropped off.
  • State laws vary on divided roadway requirements, however in all cases, vehicles driving behind the bus, and moving in the same direction must stop when the bus does.
  • Flashing yellow lights on a school bus indicate the bus driver is preparing to stop to load or unload passengers. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals that the bus has stopped and children are exiting or entering the bus.
  • A required distance of 10 feet around a school bus must be observed to allow sufficient space for children getting on or off the bus.
  • Be on the lookout for children who may run or fail to observe safety rules when moving to and from the bus stop.
  • Drivers should never block crosswalks when waiting to turn or stopped for a red light.
  • In school zones be alert for warning flashers, and while you are in an active zone, be sure to yield the right-of-way to students crossing in the marked crosswalk.

If you know your morning route includes an area with school bus stops, come up with ways to help you safely share the road. Listen to music or a podcast to help you exercise patience with frequent stops. Leave  a little early so you won’t have to stress about delays. Remember, the most important thing is that EVERYONE arrives at their destination safely!

New Holiday Travel Record Expected for 4th of July Holiday

4th of JulyAre you planning a trip for the 4th of July holiday? If so, you are definitely not alone. According to AAA, a record-breaking 46.9 million people in the U.S. will travel 50 miles or more to celebrate the Independence Day holiday. This number represents not only a 5 percent increase over last year, it is the highest volume ever projected over the 18 years that AAA has been tracking these figures.  If you are taking a road trip, AAA cautions,

“For the 39.7 million Americans planning a Fourth of July road trip, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be twice as long than the normal trip, with Tuesday being the busiest day.”

If you are hitting the road this 4th of July holiday, take some time to make sure your vehicle is safe and ready for the road.  Here are a few tips:

– Test your battery

– Check your lights to make sure all are working

– Make sure wiper blades are in good shape

– Check fluid levels

– Check the pressure on all tires including your spare

– Pack roadside emergency items like jumper cables and travel compressor

Here are a few additional suggestions to consider for a smoother trip:

– Download an app like GasBuddy to make sure you find the best gas prices

– Check out the Waze app for real-time traffic info

– Pack snacks and drinks for the car to save time and money

– Make sure your maps are up-to-date – whether paper or GPS

– Plan your route and stops before you leave

– Bring along a cell phone charger with a car adaptor

– Bring an umbrella – no matter what the forecast says

Whatever your plans are, have a fun and safe 4th of July Holiday!

 

Beware the Dangers of Distracted Drivers

Distracted DriversSchool is out and summer is here! That means more people are out on the road, making plans, and driving while distracted. Not only do we all need to be on the alert for distracted drivers, we need to make sure we avoid becoming one. As people depend on their smart phones for looking up information and connecting with friends, the temptation to use the phone and drive is overwhelming. Unfortunately, no matter how adept someone thinks they are at using their cell phone, driving requires 100 PERCENT of a driver’s attention. Driving while distracted can be fatal!

On average, it takes about five seconds to send or read a text message. That might not seem very long, but did you know that at 55 miles per hour a car travels the length of a football field during that five second interval? A lot can happen during the five seconds of that distracted driver’s journey, including a life-changing accident.

Here are some practical ideas to help you avoid becoming a distracted driver:

Mute it. Take a moment before pulling out of your parking spot to silence your phone. Once you are on the road, it will be easier to keep your mind off of your phone if it is not humming, vibrating, or otherwise beckoning you.

Stash it. Putting your phone in your purse, glovebox, or storage console is another way to help reduce the odds that you will be distracted by it.

No peaking. A lot of drivers like to sneak a quick look at their phones while stopped at a red light. The problem with this is that if you are not looking at the light, you will not know when it changes.

Tell people. Let everyone you call or text with know that you have a strict “no phone” policy while you are driving. That way you will not have to worry about someone thinking you are ignoring them.

Pull over. If it cannot wait make sure to pull over before using your phone. There are usually plenty of parking lots around that provide a great place to stop and do what you need to do.

Plan ahead. Before you press the ignition button or turn the key, do what you need to do. Let mom know you are leaving. Type your destination into your GPS app. Whatever you feel you need to do, do not do it as you are pulling out onto the street.

While everyone likes to save time by multi-tasking, it is important to understand that multi-tasking on the road too often means becoming a distracted driver. The time saved could turn into a life lost – in just an instant. Stay off the phone and stay safe!

Brake Trouble Ahead – Five Indicators

Brake system failure is one of the most dangerous situations a driver can experience onBrake Touble the road. The brake system on your vehicle is highly complex, involving an extensive number of integrated components, all of which are subject to wear and eventual failure. Brake failure can have serious and deadly consequences, so it is important to be aware of, and responsive to, any indications of brake trouble.

Your car has many ways of letting you know that brake trouble may be ahead. By paying attention to these five indictors, you can have brake system issues addressed before they put the safety of you and your passengers at risk:

  1. Hearing Weird Noises

Hearing a high, screeching sound when you apply your brakes? It could mean that your brake pads need to be replaced.

  1. Pulling to One Side When Braking

Does the vehicle tend to pull to one side when you are braking? This could be an indication that the brake lining is wearing unevenly or that the brake fluid is contaminated.

  1. Brake Pedal Feels Strange

Does the brake pedal feel spongy or sink to the floor? There may be a leak in the braking system, possibly an air leak in the brake hose or a brake fluid leak. A brake pedal that feels hard or difficult to press may indicate a blockage in the brake line or an issue in the vacuum system.

  1. Excessive Vibration When Braking

Have you noticed excessive vibration in your brake pedal during breaking, similar to the vibration you feel when the anti-lock brakes feature engages? A vibration or pulsating brake pedal can be a symptom of warped rotors.

  1. Grabbing Sensation When Braking

Have you experienced a grabbing or jerking feeling when applying the brakes? This could be an indication that the rotor is unevenly worn or that the brake fluid is contaminated.

In addition to these indicators, the warning light on your dashboard will illuminate if your vehicle’s on-board diagnostic system senses any problems. Although sometimes these lights come on even when there is not a problem, you should always take your vehicle in and let your service technician inspect your brake system.

Be Thankful for a Safe Trip

This time of year finds everyone busy preparing for holiday celebrations, shopping for Thanksgiving Road Tripgifts, and making plans for holiday travel. Odds are you are not thinking about your car. But you should be.

When Thanksgiving Day arrives, we imagine we’ll be sitting around the dinner table with loved ones, enjoying great food, sharing memories, and reflecting on all those things that make us truly thankful. You sip a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, nibble on a few more bites of pumpkin pie, and settle into that warm, cozy, holiday feeling.

But what if Thanksgiving Day comes and you hop into a car that has been woefully neglected for maintenance service? You may end up sitting in a cold, dead car, digging through seat pockets for something to eat while waiting for a tow truck to arrive. You sip a half empty water bottle, nibble on a few more bites of stale saltine crackers, and settle into that awful, regretful, why-didn’t-I-get-an-oil-change feeling.

If holiday travel is in your plans this year, make sure it is a safe trip. Now is the time to get your vehicle in for a pre-trip service check!

Be Thankful You Had an Oil Change

Putting off an oil change can cause significant damage to your engine. Be sure to follow the recommended oil change schedule as described in your owner’s manual. For fall and winter, ask your service technician to recommend the best oil to use for the season. Since cold temperatures cause motor oil to thicken, your tech may suggest a different weight for the season.

Be Thankful You Had a Tire Check

Tires are one of the most critical safety features on your vehicle. Drivers should do a monthly check of the air pressure and tread depth of tires. Always be on the lookout for nails, cuts, bulges, and signs of unusual tread wear. Be sure to have a professional inspect your tires at least once a year and also follow the recommended schedule for wheel alignment and tire rotation.

Be Thankful You Had a Battery Check

Extreme weather, including cold temperatures, can degrade car batteries internally and can accelerate the rate of corrosion on battery terminals. This can lead to insufficient electrical power and the risk of being stranded. Your service technician will check the battery charge and clean the cables if there are signs of corrosion. They will also ensure cables are securely attached to the terminals.

Be Thankful You Had a Fluid Check

In order to perform at its best, your car needs several fluids in fresh and adequate supply. Your service technician will check:

  • Brake fluid
  • Coolant
  • Power steering fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Windshield washer fluid

Cold weather has an impact on your vehicle’s fluids. Maintaining the proper levels is essential in assuring dependable performance and a safe trip.

If you are planning on holiday travel it doesn’t take long to get a routine service check, so make a little time to get these services done. You will be thankful you did!

Wishing you a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Dead Car Battery

Do You Know What to Do When You Have a Dead Car Battery?

It can happen at any time. You climb inside your car, turn the key or press the start Dead Car Batterybutton and nothing happens. Soon the temperatures will be getting colder so your odds of experiencing a dead car battery will be increasing since low temperatures cause batteries to become more sluggish. It is important to not only be equipped with a quality set of jumper cables in your car, but also to know how to use them properly.

Jump starting a dead car battery isn’t difficult, but it can be dangerous if not done correctly. Jumper cables actually transmit electrical current from one car to another. It is essential that you take precautions to prevent dangerous electric shocks. Once you have one end of the jumper cables connected to a car, it is critical that the metal clamps on the other end of the cable do not touch anything other than the specified components on the other car. It is a good idea to keep rubber gloves and protective eye wear with your jumper cables and wear them for extra safety.

Preparation Steps to Jump Starting the Car:

  • Park the running car so the cars face each other, about one to two feet apart. Make sure that the cars are not in contact with each other.
  • Set the parking brakes on both cars. Turn off both cars and take out the keys.
  • Lay out the jumper cables on the ground, making sure the clamps do not touch each other.
  • Open the hood to both cars. Locate the batteries and battery terminals. (See your owner’s manual for details). The two terminals on each battery are usually covered in red or black, with a + or – sign on top. Confirm you are able to identify which is positive, and which is negative, as this will be crucial to the success of your jump. Dirty or corroded battery terminals should be cleaned off with a rag or wire brush.

Attaching the Jumper Cables to the Car:

  • Attach the red, positive cable clamp to the positive (+) battery terminal of the dead battery. Make sure you have a solid connection to the battery terminal.
  • Attach the red, positive cable clamp on the other side of the jumper cables to the working battery’s positive (+) battery terminal
  • Connect the black, negative cable clamp to the working battery’s negative (-) battery terminal. In the vehicle with the dead battery, attach that clamp to a metal part of the car that is unpainted, as far from the battery as the cable will reach. This will ground the circuit and help prevent sparking.
  • Make sure that none of the cables are in contact with moving engine parts before starting the engine.

Performing the Jump Start:

  • Start the engine of the car with the working battery.
  • Let the car to run for several minutes. The time required to get the jump to work may vary depending on the age and condition of the battery.
  • Attempt to start the car with the dead battery. If unsuccessful, allow the working car to charge the battery for a several minutes longer and try again.
  • As soon as the disabled car is running again, you can disconnect the jumper cables, starting with the black, negative cable clamps. Never allow the clamps to come in contact with each other while any part of the cables is still attached to a vehicle.
  • Taking the charged car for a short drive lets the battery to build up a charge to ensure the battery doesn’t die again once you turn off the car.

 

The Best Way to Prevent Tire Failure

Tire failure is something all drivers need to be concerned about. You spend a lot of money on your tires. More importantly, when you drive, you depend prevent tire failureon those tires for your safety and the safety of those you love. The good news is that the most common cause of tire failure is a condition that is highly preventable – under inflated tires.

One of the best things you can do to protect your tires is to make sure they are properly inflated. Under inflation causes a number of problems in tires including increased stress, friction, and overheating. When tires do not have the proper amount of air, sidewall flexing can occur and eventually lead to a rupture. Overheating can cause the rubber to degrade, which makes tires weaker and more prone to failure.

According to the NHTSA, four out of five drivers are driving on improperly inflated tires. There are many benefits of maintaining correctly inflated tires. Not only can you greatly reduce the risk of tire failure with proper inflation, you can also save as much as 11 cents per gallon on fuel and increase tire life by an average of 4,700 miles.

The right pressure to prevent tire failure

The right pressure to prevent tire failure varies from vehicle to vehicle. The best recommendation for your specific vehicle is listed in your owner’s manual. There is a tire pressure number stamped on the tire, but that number is the tire’s maximum pressure, not the recommended pressure.

How to check tire pressure

Make sure you have a working tire gauge. Both manual and digital models are available. Check the pressure when the tires are cold – meaning the vehicle hasn’t been driven for at least three hours. Remove the valve cap and press the tire gauge on the valve stem. You’ll hear a hissing sound when you first press down, which stops once you press the gauge all the way down. Only a few seconds are needed to obtain an accurate reading. If air is needed, you can fill tires with either a portable compressor, or you can use the air pump at your local gas station. The process of filling tires is similar to checking the pressure. Instead of pressing the gauge to the valve stem you will press the fitting on the air hose to the stem. Check the pressure as you inflate until you reach the right pressure number. If your tires are over inflated, you can remove air from the tires using your gauge. Remember to put the valve caps back on each tire when you are finished.

Check the pressure of your tires monthly to greatly reduce your chance of tire failure. Since road debris or other unforeseen circumstances can still lead to tire issues, be sure to check the pressure of your spare while checking your other tires so you are always prepared.

Seven Ways to End Distracted Driving

distracted drivingDistracted driving used to just mean things like eating lunch or changing the radio station while driving. Today, distracted driving has reached a whole new level of activity that can potentially lure someone’s eyes away from the road. As a new school year begins, now is a good time to think about the problem of distracted driving. Consider your own habits and talk to the younger drivers in your life about texting and driving.

On average, it takes about five seconds to send or read a text message. That might not seem very long, but did you know that at 55 miles per hour a car travels the length of a football field during that five second interval? A lot can happen during those five seconds of distracted driving, including a life-changing accident.

The more we rely on smart phone technology, the greater the temptation becomes to focus on a screen instead of the road. How can we take practical steps to avoid the perils of distracted driving?  Here are seven ideas:

  1. Silence is golden. Take a moment before pulling out of your parking spot to silence your phone. Once you are on the road, it will be easier to keep your mind off of your phone if it is not humming, vibrating, or otherwise beckoning you.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind. Putting your phone in your purse, glovebox, or storage console is another way to help reduce the odds that you will be distracted by it.
  3. No red light sneaks. A lot of drivers like to sneak a quick look at their phones while stopped at a red light. The problem with this is that if you are not looking at the light, you will not know when it changes.
  4. Make it known. Let everyone you call or text with know that you have a strict “no phone” policy while you are driving. That way you will not have to worry about someone thinking you are ignoring them.
  5. Pull over. If it cannot wait make sure to pull over before using your phone. There are usually plenty of parking lots around that provide a great place to stop and do what you need to do.
  6. Plan ahead. Before you press the ignition button or turn the key, do what you need to do. Let mom know you are leaving. Type your destination into your GPS app. Whatever you feel you need to do, do not do it as you are pulling out onto the street.
  7. Get a connected vehicle. If you have a career that involves a good deal of car travel, consider investing in a car with onboard technology that connects to your phone. Advanced voice features will allow you to communicate or use GPS features without having to take your eyes off of the road.

While everyone likes to save time by multi-tasking, it is important to understand that multi-tasking on the road too often means distracted driving. The time saved could turn into a life lost – in just an instant.

As you focus on eliminating distracted driving habits, make sure you also correct any low-tech bad behaviors, too. Change the radio station, adjust the seat, get your sunglasses out of your purse…do it all before you even start the car. Stay safe!