Look Out for Flying Turkeys & Other Travel Tips

While some are preparing to host a Thanksgiving feast , many are planning on making a road trip so they can share the holiday with loved ones. If you are in the latter category, please make sure  you are safe and prepared. After all, depending on where you are, the Weather Channel is reporting that things could be a little dicey in some areas. Before you head out on the road this holiday, consider these tips:

Prepare your vehicle for the drive

It is a good idea to have your regular maintenance done when the seasons change, but if you haven’t done that yet, do it before you leave town. Be sure to check: battery, brakes, wipers, lights, oil, coolant, fluids, and tire pressure.

Know gas prices and plan your fuel stops

You certainly don’t want to spend all of your Black Friday shopping cash on gas. Save time and money by using a gas price app like GasBuddy to help you find good gas prices along the way.

Know where you are going and how to get there

The best way to spoil holiday fun (and possibly start a big fight with your passengers) is to get lost on the trip. Be certain that your maps are current, whether it’s updating your GPS or getting  new paper maps from AAA.

Be ready for anything on the road

Don’t let anticipation of that turkey and stuffing distract you from your scout training – be prepared! Make sure you have all of  your roadside emergency items like flares, blankets, and jumper cables – especially if you’re heading into bad weather.

Don’t let pumpkin pie become a dangerous projectile

Are you contributing to the Thanksgiving feast? You have probably decided on what you are taking, but have you thought about how? Not only do you want to avoid spills, you want to be safe. Did you know a 20 lb turkey could hit someone with 600 lbs of force if traveling in a vehicle involved in a 35 mph collision?  This blog post from cars.com has some helpful advice to make transporting food a little safer.

Whatever your plans, always be safe and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

7 High Speed Holiday Gift Ideas

Next week is Thanksgiving, and many will be starting their holiday shopping in full force on “Black Friday.” For those of you out there with car enthusiasts on your gift list, here are some ideas to rev up your creativity.

Kind of a Shady Gift

If you have any Star Wars fans on your list, they will appreciate having Jedi knights protect their car from sun damage while it is parked on sunny days. Those who aren’t George Lucas fans might simply prefer to keep an eye (or two) on their vehicle.

Creative Chrome

Best Mufflers lets drivers express the love they have for their vehicles with heart shaped custom chrome exhaust tips. Nothing says love like a heart-shaped exhaust cloud.

Pressure’s On

This digital tire pressure gauge from Accutire has a large, easy to read LCD display that provides pressure readings from 5-150 PSI in 0.5-pound increments. Ergonomically designed, easy to use, and accurate, this simple gift keeps on giving by extending tire life.

An Empowering Gift

A must for tailgaters and campers, this heavy-duty 12-foot extension cord plugs into the car cigarette lighter and powers  cooking appliances, coolers, heated blankets, or any 12-volt devices.

Peace of Mind

The Battery Tender Junior 12-volt/.75-amp battery charger keeps vehicle batteries optimally powered when the vehicle is not in use. The charger connects to a battery and assures the battery is ready to use when needed.

Keep it Clean

Chemical Guys Poly Clay Bar and Lubricant Detail Spray easily and safely removes stubborn contaminates that do not wash off during the normal washing process.

Here’s a Hot One

Bummed because you can’t afford to give someone you love a new car with fancy features like seat warmers?  Just give ’em the seat warmers! That’s right, Grandma can have the luxury of warm bum, even in her 2000 Corolla.

All Season Tires Really For All Seasons?

Dear Tracy,

I am from southern California and college freshman now living in Michigan. This will be my first winter driving in an area that gets ice and snow. While I don’t do a lot of driving, I do have to drive across town several days a week to get to a part time job. Do you think it would be worth it for me to invest in a set of snow tires for the coming months? Is there really much difference between the performance of snow tires and all season tires?

James B.

Dear James,

Michigan winter driving  will definitely be a very different experience than what you are used to. Navigating ice or snow covered roads is very challenging, and nothing really prepares you for it other than experience and a properly equipped car with the right tires. Snow tires are without a doubt worth the investment.

Contrary to what the name suggests, all season tires are really not the best tire choice for driving all seasons and weather conditions. All season tires are designed to provide the best ride and driving performance in a variety of temperatures. Snow or winter tires are made to perform optimally in cold temperatures, and driving on snow or ice.

The reason snow tires are better for winter driving lies in the design and the type of rubber used. The rubber in snow tires is developed to grip better in low temperatures. Additionally, snow tires feature small tread blocks and siping, which means that the treads are cut for better traction and to prevent hydroplaning. Since the rubber used in winter tires is softer, it wears faster than all season tires. Winter tires may need to be replaced every three or four seasons, and it will be important to switch back to those all season tires as soon as winter is over.

Ready For Winter?

Be Prepared with these Five Winter Maintenance Jobs

Even if you aren’t ready for the coldest time of the year, at least make sure your car is! These five winter maintenance jobs will help get you ready for winter weather driving:

  • Check your antifreeze
    Fresh, quality antifreeze provides your vehicle with essential winter protection. Make sure your vehicle has a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. The antifreeze amount should be kept at the full line.
  • Check Your Tires
    The pressure on all tires, including the spare, should be checked monthly, with a reliable gauge and when the tires are cold. Though it may seem logical, do not go by the pressure stamped on the sidewall of the tire. To find out the proper pressure levels for your vehicle, check the owner’s manual or the sticker that is most often located on the driver-side door jamb. Pre-winter is also a good time to check your tire tread depth. Your tires need at least 2/32″ of depth to be safe, but more is even better. Use the penny test you make sure your tread depth is okay. If you have any doubts, check with your tire dealer to be sure your tread is safe.
  • Make Sure Your Battery is Charged
    Extreme weather, including cold temperatures, can  break down 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. It is a good idea to check the battery cables and ensure they are securely attached to the terminals. Clean the terminals if there are signs of corrosion.  Typically, car batteries have a three to five year service life, depending on local climate and vehicle usage patterns.
  • Check your windshield washer fluid
    We tend to use more washer fluid as salt, sludge and snow sprays continually bombard our windshields. You don’t want to be “that person” with the car that looks like it’s just been pulled from a lake. More importantly, you want to make sure you can SEE so you can drive safely. Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with winter cleaning solution that contains enough antifreeze components to keep it from freezing.
  • Replace your wipers
    In order for the wiper fluid to do its job, you need wipers that are in top shape to keep your windshield clean and safe. The blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. In regions where snow is common, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade frame in a rubber boot to reduce ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the blade and the glass.

You can perform these maintenance steps yourself, or you can stop by your auto service shop to make sure everything looks good. Just make sure you get it done before Jack Frost gets here!