Posts Tagged Tips

10 Essential Tips for Good Driving Etiquette

In a perfect world, the road would be a relaxing place where no one was ever in a hurry and everyone drove considerately.  Unfortunately, we all know that this is not the case, but it never hurts to strive for perfection.  Next time you’re behind the wheel, keep in mind our 10 tips below for friendly driving etiquette.  Not only will your commute be safer and stress-free, but you may just inspire a fellow driver to pay it forward.

1. Merge smart.  If someone is merging in front of you on the highway, slow down and let the car in front of you.  This will make barely a dent in your travel time, but will make your fellow driver’s journey less stressful, and keep the road safer by keeping traffic moving uninterrupted.  On the other side of the coin, when you’re the one merging into traffic, keep up your speed and ease into traffic rather than stop or slow down.

2. Use the left lane for passing only.  This is probably one of drivers’ biggest pet peeves when it comes to sharing the highway.  Unless you’re passing someone, drive in the right lane and leave the left lane open for those who want to pass.  This will not only keep traffic flowing better, but will cut down on tailgating and road rage from those who want to get to their destinations faster.

3. Yield to pedestrians.  Pedestrians in crosswalks always have the right of way, even when you’re in a hurry, so follow basic etiquette and let the pedestrian cross before you continue on your way.  Conversely, stopping for pedestrians trying to cross in the middle of the road without a crosswalk is not recommended, as it stops traffic unexpectedly and can cause accidents.

4. Don’t multitask.  When you’re behind the wheel, focus on the road, not your cell phone, radio, GPS, eating, makeup, or any number of common distractions.  Your attention to driving is not only courteous to your fellow drivers and passengers, but makes the road an overall safer place.

5. Mind your brights.  When driving at night, be considerate and dim your high beams when an oncoming car is approaching.  The simple gesture makes everyone’s drive safer.

6. Don’t tailgate.  When you’re in a hurry, it often seems like even getting a few inches closer to the car in front of you will get you to your destination quicker.  However, it’s both rude and unsafe to tailgate the car in front of you, and should there be a collision, it will almost always be deemed the fault of the car behind.  Leaving ample space between you and the car in front of you will make everyone’s drive safer and less stressful.

7. Use your turn signals.  There’s nothing more frustrating than drivers who do not use their turn signals to let others know what they’re about to do.  Your signals are one of the best tools for safe driving.  Set a good example for courtesy and safety by putting on your turn signal before changing lanes or making a turn.

8.  Use your horn for safety, not personal expression.  Your car’s horn is there as a safety tool, to alert other drivers and pedestrians in an emergency situation.  Using it to express anger or annoyance toward your fellow drivers only perpetuates rudeness on the road.  Next time you get the urge to honk at someone for annoying you, take a deep breath and remember your etiquette!

9.  Don’t hang out in a blind spot.  Always anticipate that your fellow drivers might not be fully aware of their surroundings and minimize the potential for accidents by avoiding driving in another car’s blind spot.

10. Acknowledge when others are courteous.  Help spread the road etiquette gospel by acknowledging when a fellow driver sends some courtesy your way.  A simple wave when someone lets you in can go a long way in spreading the road friendliness.

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Top 7 Preventative Maintenance Tips for Your Car

A car is not only a big investment financially, but it’s also something you rely upon to get you around reliably and safely.  There’s no better way to protect your investment and avoid unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs than preventative maintenance.  Performing simple preventative maintenance on a regular basis can keep your car running longer and save you money.

1.    Oil and Filter:  Changing your oil and filter is one of the most basic yet most important components of preventative vehicle maintenance.  An engine’s oil keeps all its moving parts lubricated, and changing it regularly ensures proper levels and keeps the oil clean.  Your owner’s manual will tell you how often to change the oil for your vehicle, but most recommend oil changes every 3,000 – 5,000 miles or every 3 to 6 months.

2.    Battery:  If your battery goes out, you won’t be going anywhere, so including this in your preventative maintenance checklist is imperative.  Most car batteries will last 3 to 4 years if properly maintained.  Simple preventative measures you can take include cleaning the battery terminals, maintaining battery fluid levels, and disconnecting the battery if you won’t be driving your vehicle for more than two weeks.

3.    Brakes:   Your brakes are central to your vehicle’s safety system and neglecting them can not only be dangerous but also costly.  Pay attention to the sounds of your vehicle.  If you hear squeaking when applying the brakes, it’s probably time to get the brake pads replaced.  Neglecting the warning signs can lead to further damage to your vehicle’s braking system.

4.    Tires:   Performing preventative maintenance on your vehicle’s tires can extend their life and keep your vehicle running more smoothly.  The easiest thing you can do is ensure that your tires are inflated to the recommended pressure.  This provides your vehicle with better traction and fuel economy, and prevents uneven wear on the tires.  Tire rotation, balancing, and alignment according to your manufacturer’s recommendations can also extend the life of your tires and keep your vehicle riding safely.

5.    Fluids:  Keeping your vehicle’s fluids at the proper levels and changing them at recommended intervals is an essential and easy component of preventative maintenance.  Check your owner’s manual, and pay close attention to antifreeze/coolant, power steering, brake, transmission fluid recommendations.

6.    Belts and Hoses:  A quick visual inspection of your car’s belts and hoses can prevent a costly repair down the road.  If your belts have any cracks or missing segments, it’s time to replace them.

7.    Air Filter:  Your vehicle’s air filter helps keep dirt out of your engine, and a clean air filter can mean increased fuel efficiency, reduced emissions, and a longer life for your engine.  Air filters are generally recommended to be changed every 12,000-15,000 miles, and it’s an inexpensive procedure you can do on your own.  Check your owner’s manual for your air filter specs.

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Top Tips for First Time Car Buyers

Purchasing a vehicle is major task, with questions to ask and decisions to make at every turn.  What type of vehicle do you need?  How much will it cost?  Can you get financed?  What kind of options do you want?  How will the purchase affect your monthly budget?

If this is your first time purchasing a vehicle, you might be overwhelmed by all the variables, but there is no reason to be.  Check out our first time buyer tips below for how you can make your first vehicle purchase a smooth and gratifying one.  With a little information at your fingertips, you can soon be experiencing the exciting moment of driving off in your very first car!

Click here for our top tips for first time car buyers.

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Tire Rotation, Wheel Alignment, and Tire Balancing: What’s the Difference?

Your tires are one of the most important components of your vehicle, and properly maintaining them is a must for ensuring a safe ride.  Like the shoes on your feet, tires are the car’s direct contact with the ground and can wear unevenly and eventually become too worn to do their jobs.  Proper maintenance measures like tire balancing, tire rotation and wheel alignment can address these issues and help your car reach its maximum level of performance and safety.  But what do these terms mean and how often should you get them done?

Tire Rotation

Tire rotation is simply the process of moving your tires to different locations on your vehicle, and it’s necessary to ensure even wear on your tires.  Tires wear unevenly through normal use of your vehicle, and can be affected by factors like front and rear axle weight differences, exertion applied from steering and braking, whether you have front-wheel, rear-wheel, or four-wheel drive, and the condition of your tires’ alignment and inflation.  Rotating the tires can evenly distribute this uneven wear.  Why is this important?  Evenly worn tires make for a smoother ride, improved handling, better braking, increased traction, and better gas mileage.  Not to mention, the tires will simply last longer, so you can achieve their maximum value.  Most manufacturers recommend tire rotation roughly every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, but check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s specifications.

Wheel Alignment

Wheel alignment is the process of adjusting the angles of a vehicle’s tires to be perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other.  It involves precise adjustment to a vehicle’s suspension components to ensure that the suspension and steering systems are operating at their desired angles.  Wheels can become misaligned through normal wear or an unfortunate run-in with a pothole.  How do you know if you need an alignment?  You’ll feel your car pulling to the left or right, your car or steering wheel will vibrate at higher speeds, and tires will wear unevenly.  Getting your alignment fixed will improve handling and gas mileage and reduce wear on your tires and steering column.  Unlike tire rotation, which should be performed at regular intervals, wheel alignments are only necessary as a repair if you notice any warning signs.

Tire Balancing

Tire balancing is the process of ensuring that the mass of a tire is uniformly distributed around a car’s axle.  It is most important to perform this service when you purchase new tires or if an existing tire incurs damage and is repaired.  The most noticeable symptom of unbalanced tires is vibrations felt when driving at speeds over 40 mph.  Balancing your tires can make for a smoother ride and evenly worn tires, and reduce stress on your wheel bearings and suspension system.

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5 Tips to Prevent Your Car from Rusting

Preventing rust on your car is one of the most important things you can do to extend your car’s life and maintain its resale value.  While many new vehicles come with rust warranties, no car is immune to the effects of environmental elements and simple science.  When metal comes in contact with oxygen and water, there is rust.  The bad news is that once rust starts, it’s hard to stop.  The good news is that preventing rust from starting takes a minimal amount of time and money.  Ensure a long rust-free life for your car by following our simple tips:

1.    Keep your car clean:   Regular car washes shouldn’t be considered a luxury just for visual appeal but rather a necessity for car health.   Your car’s paint job is the first line of defense against rust, so it is important to keep it free of elements that can cause corrosion in the paint, which will eventually lead to rust.  Wash your car twice per month to remove dirt and road salts, and pay special attention to your car’s undercarriage and wheel wells where elements can easily build up.  Salt poses an extra risk for rust, so during winter months, take extra care to keep your car clean.

2.    Apply a wax twice a year:  Along with regular car washes, applying a wax to your car can go the extra mile in protecting your vehicle’s exterior.  Waxing your car applies an additional layer of protection between your vehicle and the elements, and can greatly extend the life of your paint job and prevent rust.

3.    Fix paint chips promptly:  A small nick in your paint job might seem like more trouble than it’s worth to deal with, but leaving your car’s metal exposed to air and water will lead to rust before too long.  Keep a bottle of touch-up paint handy, and use a reputable body shop for larger repairs.  Tending to problems quickly will save you from rust in the long run.

4.    Protect your floors:  Rust isn’t just a problem for your car’s exterior; it can begin on the inside as well.  Slushy snow and salt on your shoes can seep into your floor mats and start rust on the floorboards where you can’t even see it.  Make a small investment into heavy rubber floor mats to add a solid layer of protection for your vehicle’s floors.

5.    Park inside:  While this isn’t an option for everyone, storing your vehicle indoors is one of the best ways to protect it from rust.  Removing your vehicle from outdoor elements like sun, extreme temperatures and precipitation puts it at less risk to rust.

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7 Ways to Drive Safer at Night

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities on the road occur at a rate three times greater at night than during the day. Even more telling is that even though one quarter of all driving is done at night, more than half of all driving deaths occur then.  While you might already be an overall safe driver, taking extra precautions at night can help your odds of ending up as one of these grim statistics.  Check out our safety tips below to help keep the evening roads safe for you as well as other drivers.

1.    Maintain your headlights:  Keep your headlights clean for better visibility by wiping down your lens covers on a regular basis.  Even better, make sure your headlights are properly aimed so that you can see the road and other drivers won’t be blinded.  If you notice a light out, whether it’s a headlight or taillight, get it replaced immediately.

2.    Use your lights smartly:  Be sure to turn on your headlights even at dusk.  While it might not help you see any better, it will make it easier for other drivers to see you.  When nightfall fully settles in, do not hesitate to use your high beams for best visibility when other drivers are not around, but be mindful about turning them off appropriately.  Your exterior lights aren’t the only ones to help with visibility.  Dim your instrument panel and dashboard lights to give your eyes the best visibility, and use your reading/map lights sparingly.

3.    Allow room for error:  For safest nighttime driving, it’s best to make adjustments to account for decreased visibility.  Drive slower and leave more room between you and the car in front of you than you would during the daytime.  Typical low beams illuminate 160 to 250 feet in front of your car, but it takes more than 200 feet to completely stop a vehicle traveling 60 miles per hour.

4.    Clean windshields and mirrors:  Give your windshield a cleaning every time you fill up at the gas station, and don’t forget about your rearview mirrors too.  Dirty mirrors can produce glare from cars behind you and make it harder to see what’s behind you.

5.    Don’t stare at oncoming lights:  Locking a gaze with the headlights of an oncoming vehicle is not only distracting but it can affect your vision, even after the vehicle has passed you.  If it’s safe to do so, avert your gaze toward the white line on the shoulder of the road until the car has passed you.

6.    Watch for fatigued and drunk drivers:  Even if you are being safe, you can’t count on other drivers to do the same.  If you’re traveling late at night, look out for drivers who might be impaired and exercise extra caution.

7.    Stay alert:  Just as you should watch out for other impaired drivers, don’t forget to watch out for yourself!  If you feel fatigued, get off the road to avoid endangering yourself and others.  Fresh air, stretching your legs, and coffee are good remedies, but don’t get back behind the wheel if you are still sleepy.

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10 Simple Ways to Extend the Life of Your Vehicle

Whether your car has 1,000 or 100,000 miles on it, it’s never too early or late to establish a routine for making it last as long as possible.  Following these simple tips can not only extend the life of your vehicle, but also minimize your repair bills and maintain your car’s resale value.

1.  Change your oil regularly:  Changing your oil improves gas mileage and protects your engine, and is one of the most important factors in ensuring a long life for your car.  Recommended time between oil changes is 3,000-5,000 miles or every 3 to 6 months.

2.  Don’t neglect your fluids:  Oil changes are typically no-brainers for car owners, but don’t forget about your vehicle’s other vital fluids.  Antifreeze, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid are all important to proper functioning and can harshly affect your car’s life if not tended to regularly.

3.  Heed your “Check Engine” light:  No one likes to see that ominous “Check Engine” light illuminated on the dashboard, but ignoring it could mean bigger trouble and bigger costs down the road.  Get yours checked out as soon as it comes on to prevent small issues from becoming bigger ones.

4.  Maintain your tires:  Your tires are one of the most important components of your car, and a few simple maintenance measures can make them last longer.  Be sure that your tires are properly inflated, and get your tires balanced and aligned according to your manufacturer’s recommendations.  Not only will these steps provide you with the safest ride, but they’ll extend the life of your tires by many miles!

5.  Perform scheduled and preventative maintenance:  Pull that owner’s manual out of the glove compartment, and check out your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule.  Keeping up with regular maintenance to some of your car’s vital systems can not only extend the life of your vehicle but can help avoid costly problems.

6.  Keep it clean, inside and out:  Wash your car’s exterior regularly to help maintain the paint job, and spring for a wax from time to time for extra protection.  Bird droppings, road salts and grime can all eat away at your vehicle’s finish and lead to rusting and corrosion.  Don’t forget about the interior either.  Clean spills promptly to prevent stains and upholstery damage, and invest in all-weather floor mats to protect your carpeting from dirt and corrosion.

7. Park smart:  Park indoors as often as possible to protect your car’s exterior from fading, rust and corrosion.  If this is not an option, park in the shade or use a car cover.  When you’re out running errands, park in a secluded area of the parking lot to prevent dings from careless drivers.

8.  Drive kindly:  Aggressive driving, abrupt accelerations or stops, and riding the brakes or clutch can wear out your car’s components quickly and lead to costly repairs.  Drive smoothly and your car and wallet will thank you.

9.  Don’t drive on empty:  Make an effort to fill up your tank before the gas gauge dips below 1/4 full.  Driving on low fuel can increase the likelihood of dirt, rust, and debris forming the fuel system.

10.  Don’t fill up if you see the fuel truck:  If you pull into the gas station and see a fuel truck refilling the tanks, drive off to the next gas station.  When gas station tanks are refilled, this stirs up sediment in the underground tanks which can get into your engine and lead to performance problems and costly repairs.

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