January, 1 2019

Shaving cream, cat litter and other household items help in cold weather

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THE PROBLEM:

People often find themselves unprepared for the challenges brought on by winter driving.

THE SOLUTION:

Use everyday household items in new ways to solve common cold-weather vehicle problems.

WHAT WE LEARNED:

While nothing beats specialized equipment, these winter driving hacks save time and money and can cut the hassle of getting stuck without the right tools on hand.

1. Socks

Wearing socks over your shoes can increase traction on ice. While not as effective as cleats, socks are smaller, less expensive and easier to find. Socks also can be used as windshield wiper covers – place a sock on each wiper to prevent it from freezing before a winter storm.

2. Cat Litter

Bags of litter in the trunk or cargo area add traction in rear-wheel-drive vehicles. Spreading litter under tires adds friction, helping tires roll. Litter, like road sand, bites into snow and ice. It can also make sidewalks and driveways safer for walking. But use sparingly: When ice melts, litter can become a clumpy, foul-smelling mess.

3. Shaving Cream

Shaving cream carries many of the same ingredients as commercial defoggers but is less expensive and can be found nearly everywhere. Thoroughly clean the inside of your windshield. Place a small amount of shaving cream on a clean, dry towel and wipe across the windshield. Apply just enough for a visible layer, then wipe off.

4. Rubbing alcohol

A simple solution of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle can thaw icy windows in seconds. Shake the solution and spray a think layer across the ice. Once the ice melts, use windshield wipers or a clean cloth to remove it. Thick layers of ice may take multiple applications.

5. Winter Survival Kit

An emergency kit is especially important during cold months. Include jumper cables, a blanket, first-aid kit, flashlight and road flares. Consider including warm clothing, hand warmers, non-perishable snacks and bottled water.

By Chris Teague

December, 12 2018

When Temperatures Drop, It’s Important to Make Sure Your Vehicle is Ready

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THE PROBLEM:
Preparing your vehicle for driving during the winter. Modern cars are designed to handle inclement weather, but cold winter months put stress on a vehicle – and on its driver.

THE SOLUTION:
Winterizing your car can improve performance, extend engine life and prepare you in case of an emergency. This process begins with regular maintenance, whether you’re the do-it-yourself kind, or you take your car to a trusted mechanic.

WHAT WE LEARNED:
Proper maintenance, seasonal checkups and winter-specific upgrades will help you winterize your vehicle and make it ready for rain, snow, sleet, ice or any combination of those conditions.

Step 1: Inspect Your Battery

Check your battery and charging system, including voltage (use a hydrometer) cable lines (for cracks or breaks), terminals for a snug fit, and fluid level. Replace low fluid with distilled water. An unusual amount of corrosion means a trip to a mechanic for inspection and cleaning.

Step 2: Check and Refill Fluid Levels

Radiator coolant should be a 50-50 mixture of antifreeze and water. Use an antifreeze tester to check composition. Keep wiper fluid filled. If wiper blades look frayed or cracked or don’t function well, replace them. A thinner-viscosity oil that flows through your engine more easily will help keep moving parts lubricated.

Step 3: Consider Buying Winter Tires

Be sure tread depth and tire pressure are adequate on all tires, including the spare. Keep tires properly inflated to maintain road traction. If roads are frequently icy and snow-covered, consider winter-specific tires. Some winter tires are studded for driving in the worst conditions.

Step 4: Emergency Preparation

A safety kit is good to have in your car all year, but it's key in winter. For the cold weather months, be sure to include an ice scraper and brush, winter chains if you don’t have snow tires, gloves and a bag of kitty litter or sand in case you get stuck and need to improvise traction.

Step 5: Visit Your Mechanic

Finally, we recommend a general physical inspection of all engine components. Check belts, hoses and spark plugs. Make sure exterior and interior lights are working. Take your car to a mechanic if there are any underlying issues such as hard starts, rattling or unusual engine noises you’ve been putting off addressing.

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