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Winter driving – Storm Survival Tips

winter drivingWinter driving and staying safe is important. Winter is here, and in many parts of the country, there is a great chance that a snow storm will hit. This is not only annoying, but also life-threatening for people. Thus, before winter starts to pour down heavy snow with high magnitude wind, you must be ready to face it head on and survive. You want to make sure that you have all the resources for safety and survival ahead of a worst case scenario.

What to do when stranded

People can get stranded in the winters, and regardless of what you may think, it can happen to you as well. There are times that big snow storms emerge unpredictably and you can either get stuck on a ditch, get caught in heavy snow, or get stranded due to zero visibility and dead battery.

One of common mistakes people make when they cannot start their car, especially if they are with family members, is to leave the passengers seated and head out into the snow storm. This only puts your life at risk even more. Staying put in the car increases your odds of being noticed by emergency workers or other cars.

This is why everyone in the car should stay put and try to contact rescue services. When it comes to putting on the heater, you want to make sure that you do not freeze to death in the car, but also not run out of fuel at the same time.

Experts say that the best formula for the heater is that you should run it only ten minutes an hour. This does not have to be the same ten minutes, and you can intermittently blast the heat in the span of that hour for a total running time of ten minutes.

Winter Driving and the Essentials

Whether you are expecting a snow storm or not, always travel with a water bottle, and snacks. Other important essentials include first aid kit, medicine, blankets, hand warmers, flash lights, and more. Hand warmers and blankets can be critical in keeping you warm for the time that you do not have the heater on.

Keep Tailpipe Clear from the Snow

You want to make sure that your tail pipe does not undergo blockage from the snow. If you get stuck, and there is snow against your tailpipe while it is on, then harmful gasses such as carbon monoxide can seep into the air vents and cause fatal instances. This is why, it is incredibly important for you to run back to the rear side of the car and clear the snow.

Winter driving and Rock Salt Alternatives

Ideally, you want to make sure that you are equipped with rock salt. However, if you do not have that, you can use a homemade alternative to clear ice from your pathway. It involves mixing rubbing alcohol and dish soap with hot water, which provides you with an effective solution for melting the ice.

When in possession of the right resources, and with the knowledge of the right tips and tricks, you can survive a stranded occurrence. So make sure you are prepared for winter.

Winter Safety Kit for your Car

winter safety

Safe driving in the winter time is a serious consideration for drivers. The dire cold temperatures and iced up parkways and roads lead to situations that are unfavorable for cars, drivers and commuting. Despite the critical conditions, drivers still need to fulfill their commuting needs. When driving in the snow, you need to be very aware of all the nuanced danger threats that could be lurking.

Winter preparedness is all about anticipating the threats and dangers prior to driving and equipping the car with maintenance and gear that will help against hazards and unwanted occurrences. Another important step when heading out in the snow involves planning the route and scheduling the commute according to weather forecasts.

Sitting back when the weather is expected to become hostile can be a life-saving decision. When stranded in the snow, having sufficient supplies and gear can be pivotal. This is why you must build a winter emergency kit and stock it with the necessary supplies.

Creating a Winter Safety Kit

Safety professionals highly recommend people to have a winter safety kit inside every vehicle. Every winter kit should include a bag pack. This bag pack should hold essential items for your winter safety. These items include gloves, food, matches, lighter, water and more.

Food and drinks are important in the occurrence of being stranded in the snow. When stuck, it is crucial to stay hydrated and nourished so that you can make the right decisions. When it comes to gloves, it is very important that you keep extra pairs since they are not only beneficial for keeping you warm, but they also help protect your hands when you are performing maintenance checks.

Other Important Considerations

Not to mention, you should also include some sources of light in the bad pack. This can be in the form of flashlights or flares. Keep in mind that when driving in the winter, you are more likely to be driving in the dark. Having a high beam portable flashlight is an excellent way to enhance your visibility while on the road.

Other than that, when stuck inside the snow overnight, temperatures can drop to deadly levels. You cannot keep the car functioning because of limited fuel. It is best to switch the car on for ten minute intervals every hour and wear extra layers to compensate for the time you spend without the heater. Thus, always be ready with additional jackets, wearables, and blankets in the car.

Air compressors can also serve as incredible additions to your survival kit. It is very important for your tires to be in optimum air pressure so that they can facilitate your car with the right amount of traction. An air pressure gauge and compressors are therefore incredible choices to pick from.

The above mentioned items are more specific to winter hazards, and it is important that you do not forget about items that are critical year round. These include jumper cables, extra fluids, scrapers, brushes and shovels.

Car Battery Issues and Preventative Solutions

The cost of car batteries is only going to increase as time goes on. This is why you want to make sure that your battery lasts as long as possible, especially in the cold weather. To keep the battery working efficiently, make sure to follow regular maintenance and replacements. If you want your car battery to not trouble you this winter, follow these recommendations.

Car Battery Usage

The car batteries are not like the batteries inside your cell phones. When you use your smartphone, you notice a drain in the battery and it runs out if you do not plug it in. However, car batteries function differently. They help power your car so that it can start, and once your car has started, then the alternator recharges the battery and runs the engine.

Car batteries are supposed to discharge, start the car, and get recharged by the alternator. If you let a car battery rest without working, then you can expect it to stop functioning. If you do not use your car much, then you can use tools that charge your battery without you having to drive it.

Tools such as these can be very useful in the colder seasons when most people like to stay indoors and car usage decreases significantly. You want to keep the battery running so that you do not have trouble starting it when you need to go somewhere due to an emergency.

Keep the Terminals Clean

You want to make sure that your battery terminals are clean and corrosion-free. This is because corrosion or lose terminals create more resistance. The more resistance inside the electrical circuit, the more stress on the battery when it tries to push out electricity.

Ultimately, corrosion will lead to quicker battery wear. This is why you should invest in corrosion cleaners and scrape off any corrosion that you spot on the battery terminals. After you scrape the corrosion off, you should spray some electrical cleaner on the terminals.

The spray will help get rid of the entire corrosive residue that is lying around on the batteries. Once the spray liquid dries, you can use a terminal protector spray on the terminal. This helps seal the battery acid vapor from escaping and causing corrosion. This way the corrosion will not come back, and you no longer have to worry about drain due to corrosion or terminal wear.

The above-mentioned solutions are two of the easiest ways to keep your battery in good condition for a long time. The first helps you make sure that your battery does not run out of charge, while the second ensures that it does not burn out because of working too hard.

Your Car’s HVAC System and Cabin Air Filters

air filtersCabin air filters should always be inspected. Not many people realize, most of the cars that have come into production after the year 2000 are equipped with a sophisticated HVAC system. This HVAC system is responsible for the car’s ventilation, heating, cooling and air conditioning. Due to this system, you can safely sit inside the car’s cabin, roll the windows up, and not have to worry about suffocation.

HVAC System

There are many components that contribute to the car’s HVAC system. One of the few major components include the vents, heat box, blower motor, fans, heat exchanger, and cabin air filters. All of these components are systematically aligned to circulate the air that enters and exits your car’s cabin.

The HVAC system is compartmentalized inside the car at a location which is away from the combustion engine. This helps the heat from the combustion engine from influencing the air that enters into the vents. These vents are located under the windshield and on top of the bonnet of the car.

The reason why the vents are placed on this location is because this is the part of the car that experiences the most air pressure. This helps the air take in most amount of fresh air. Once the air enters into the vents, it comes into contact with all the components, and in the end has to pass through the cabin air filters before it can come out of the interior air vents and into the nostrils.

Cabin Air Filters

The cabin air filters are parts of a car that most car owners have neglected. Not only that, some car owners are yet to find out about their existence. Hidden behind the glove box, these air filters are similar to all other air filters. The difference between them and the filters that you have inside your engine is that one protects your car from contaminants, while the other protects you.

Their Importance

Thanks to cabin air filters, passengers and drivers enjoy breathable air. They also get to experience a car environment that is safe from the raw, unfiltered pollution of the outside world. For people that struggle with allergies, cabin air filters are pivotal.

Their porous design protects passengers from contaminants that are as small as 2 microns. Microns are the unit in which you measure microbial particles that are suspended in air. Not only that, they also eradicate all musty and bad odor on the outside from entering the car.

Replacement Air Filters

Overtime, these filters, like all filters get clogged and you have to make sure to replace them. If you do not replace them in time, it can lead to all sorts of issues with the car. One of these issues involves the decline of the HVAC’s system to circulate air. Ultimately, they are key components that, if not changed, can lead to undesirable outcomes. As you can see, timely cabin air filter replacements is a preventative way to ensure that your car stays in good shape, and your cabin’s atmosphere never has to slump.

How to Improve Nighttime Visibility when Driving?

improveImprove your visibility this winter. Driving in the middle of the night can be very intimidating. Not just because the dark evokes fear, but also because it drastically decreases your visibility on the road. Not to mention, it also makes your car less visible to others. However, with full functioning and optimized car lights, you can decrease your risks of running into an accident.

There are a number of ways you can improve visibility on the road. One of the ways is to check whether your car’s headlights need replacement. If you find that they do, then you can read the car’s manual on how you can replace the headlights.

This is a fairly easy procedure, which will require you to open the clips, take out the old headlamp and replace them with a new one. Despite being an easy procedure, your job does not end there; you have to follow that up by ensuring the headlight beam is aligned and aimed correctly.

Improve Aiming your Headlight Beam

If you replace your halogen headlights or LED headlights with a new bulb, you will likely blind everyone else on the road and not have the road visibility that you desire. This is largely because most LED headlights require a certain type of wiring and design.

You need to have a certain width and chip with good placement inside your headlights. LED headlight bulbs, therefore, vary with regard to car placements. If you replace your car’s headlight with one that makes an awkward beam pattern, you will never be able to aim your beams the way you want.

A beam pattern that shoots much higher than necessary will blind other drivers on the road and will not work. The beam that shoots out of your headlight is supposed to aim slightly below the oncoming driver’s line of sight. Moreover, you want the beam to give you maximum brightness when driving on the road.

Check Your Car Lights

When driving in the dark some lights are essential. They help you navigate and indicate other cars on the road at instances when it is foggy, rainy, or snowy. These lights include brake lights, indicator lights, cornering lights, and hazard lights.

Each of these lights is essential for guiding other drivers to make the right lane changes, turns and brakes. Not only that, but they also increase your car’s visibility and make them visible on dark paths that do not have street lights.

Reverse lights work the same way as brake lights, as they help alert the traffic behind your car that you are either stopping or reversing. Sometimes you need to make a sudden break if a sudden obstruction pops in front of you and the brake lights help convey that message to the cars behind. The indicator and cornering lights have a similar purpose, and all of them can be valuable when driving in the winter. Therefore, make sure that all car lights are in top-notch conditions in late fall.

 

Antifreeze for your Car? – Winter Prevention

AntifreezeThe extreme drop in temperature of the winters brings about many challenges for your vehicle. For this reason, it is crucial that you make the right preparations in late fall season, to ensure your car is ready to function in even the harshest of environments. One of the critical preventative measures involves flushing out the coolant and replacing it with a high quality Antifreeze.

Antifreeze

Some people will resort to water instead of an anti-freeze mixture as their coolant. A diluted coolant that you purchase from an auto-shop is just a concentrated anti freeze mixture that is diluted with water.

Like the name suggests, anti-freeze has properties that prevents it from freezing at extreme temperatures. Therefore, if you are currently using water as a coolant in your vehicle and the winter is expected to drop temperatures in your region close to freezing points, then it is important that you replace it with an anti-freeze mixture.

Is Water Safe for your Engine?

Water inside your radiator will not harm your engine in the short term. However, it is important to note that coolant has a higher boiling point than water, which means that it is more suitable for an internal combustion engine since there are many exothermic processes that happen inside the engine.

Furthermore, all water is not the same, which means that some types of water are more harmful for the engine than the other. Water includes many types of contaminants, including magnesium, chloride, calcium and sulphate, which can be safe for human consumption but not so much for the engine.

It is therefore important to not top off the radiator with any type of water without considering the OEM specifications. Contaminants such as chloride and sulphate lead to the formation of scale inside the cooling system. In highly oxidized conditions, they can also form hydrochloric acid or sulphuric acid and this can result in severe corrosion.

Adding water to the system can also have an impact on the glycol concentration, which decreases the boiling point and freezing point protection inside the cooling system. This in turn will make your car overheat at extreme temperature since the water compromises the efficiency of the coolant system.

Dilution as a Solution

When flushing your cooling system, adding a coolant solution along with water remains as the most effective solution. The best dilution formulation of Anti-freeze is one that provides the best glycol concentration, and moderates contamination levels.

Not using a high quality coolant will therefore affect the coolant inhibitors in the system. A decrease in corrosion protection levels will leave to corrosion, which in turn will result in heavy metal deposits in the coolant.

Now that you have a better idea of the coolant and its importance in extreme temperatures, you should consider purchasing a good quality coolant. Make sure to flush your cooling system with non-corrosive detergents as well. If you have any questions, always make sure to call us for an appointment.

Buying Tires and the Options

buying tiresBuying tires does not need to be difficult. If you have any questions, make sure to come in so we can advise you. There are many differences between summer tires, winter tires and all season tires. The differences are mainly evident in the tread patterns of the tires, and each tire consists of different compounds. Below, this article will discuss which tire performs the best in what conditions so that you can choose between the three.

The summer tires, like the name suggests, performs best when the temperature is warm outside, regardless of the surface condition. On the other hand, winter tires offer maximum performance when the surface is snowy or icy. The all-season tire is instead, the combination of the summer and winter tires as it possesses qualities of both.

Summer Tires

In the summer tires, you can spot a continuous center rib that has good straight line stability. Moreover, you will also find a large contact area on the outside of the tire. The contact area allows the car to grip the road whenever you make a sharp corner turn.   Summer tires tend to have less tread depth, which helps in making the car more responsive and adds to the handling quality of the car.

Winter Tires

Winter tires have a slightly more complicated tread pattern. The design of the winter tread is one that evacuates water and snow from the roads. The grooves of the tires are also very deep grooves and an increased tread depth. This tread depth provides the car with good grip and traction on when the tires come in contact with the snow.

Some tires also have zigzag patterns across the tires that provide incredible grip on icy and snowy conditions. This pattern helps to improve the rigidity of the treads and also allows for increased traction whenever you are making sharp turns.

All-Season Tires

The design of the all season tire is somewhat of a combination between the two tires. Therefore, in the center of the tires you will find the elongated stripe like the summer tires, and for snowy conditions, you will find the tire to have stripes on the outside as well to improve traction.

Compounds

Each of these tires performs best in different temperatures. Summer tires consist of compound that is meant for temperatures that go beyond the 40 degrees Fahrenheit mark. The winter tires on the other hand can perform well below freezing temperatures, and allows for the rubber compounds to remain soft and flexible.

The all-season tire is the compromise option for both of these tires as it still remains somewhat flexible in the freezing temperatures, while still being operable in the higher temperature where winter tires are softer in quality and wear out much quicker. Now that you understand the differences between the tires, you can make the better choice when replacing your tires.

Buying Tires

In the rain and wet surfaces, summer tires perform the best, while winter tires are great for snowy and freezing conditions. Picking out the best tire for your depends on where you live, and the most frequent climate of that location.

Important Inspections that you must Make In your Car

The inner workings of your car are complex, and if you are not an automotive engineer, then you can find yourself helpless in the face of a malfunction. However, some inspections are very basic, even for the average car owner. Adhering to them every other month contributes vastly to your car’s running condition, and fortunately, they are easy to do as well.

Windshield Wiper Fluid

Not many people worry about wiper fluid, and most will ignore inspecting the wiper and the fluid inside. However, windshield wipers are components that rid you an obstruction in road visibility. This can be critical in bad weather conditions and potentially life-saving.

Thus, washer fluid helps clear your windshield from precipitation and road grime, and checking whether the reservoir is filled with washer liquid couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is pop open the hood and look for washer fluid cap and pour it in.

Fluid is not the only thing you need to inspect, but, you should also be very critical of the windshield wipers. If you find any damages, scratches and other signs of wear on the wipers, then replacing it with a new one is the way to go.

Change Engine Oil

The engine oil is one of the most crucial lubricating fluids for your car. You not only have to check whether it is at an optimum level, but you also have to check whether the oil needs replacement. Checking the oil level will require you to park your car at a level surface.

Then, wait a while and let the oil drain back into the pan completely. This will eradicate any possibilities of a false reading. After that, you have to simply pull the dipstick out of the engine, and wipe it off with a cloth so that it is clean.

Then, you have to put the clean dipstick back into the engine column and pull it out to get the reading. If the oil line appears between the low and full mark, this means that the level is perfect. Another thing you need to be aware of is the viscosity of the oil. If the oil is milky and does not have good density, then it may be time that you need to replace it.

Tire Pressure Inspections

Tire inspections are important. They are parts of your vehicle that are responsible for moving the vehicle and giving them good road grip. This is a very easy task, requiring car owners to just remove the stem cap and insert a tire pressure gauge into it.

You then want to check the reading and make sure that it matches with company-recommended PSI level. If the pressure is more than the optimum level, then you have to deflate the tire. Alternatively if the pressure is falls anywhere below, then you have to inflate it to the optimum PSI.

Making sure that your car is nourished with the essential fluids, has good tire PSI levels, and is not leaking from anywhere, allows the car to last you a lifetime.

 

Catalytic Converter Theft & How to Protect your Car

Catalytic converter theft is on the rise and over the year, the number of catalytic converter cases saw an incredible increase. The reason for this increase is various, one of the primary ones entailing to the increase of unemployment rate along with the high market value of these catalytic converters. Below are measures that you can take to protect your vehicle from catalytic converter theft.

Why a Catalytic Converter is stolen

The reason why catalytic converters are such an easy target for thieves is that it does not take a person much effort to steal them. All they need to do is squeeze inside your car, use a mechanical grinder, and cut the catalytic converter from the ends of the exhaust pipe.

This process is very simple, and it can take an experienced thief only a minute to maneuver. Ultimately, to remove your catalytic converter a person requires one or two cutting tools and access underneath your car. Hence, if you want to stop them, you have to create an obstacle for them that keeps them from exploiting one of the elements.

Preventive Installments to prevent Catalytic Converter Thefts

You can find products on the market that covers your converter, blocking the exposure to your catalytic converter. Products include devices that you can install in your car that will wrap around the converter, bolt onto the ends and create a frame for the catalytic converter.

However, finding this tool for your specific car can be difficult. Some companies make them to perfect scale for certain cars and it may not fit your specific vehicle. Another option is a steel cable. Some companies manufacture steel cables for the exact purpose of theft prevention for catalytic converters.

Steel Cables

You can purchase these cables for only about 7 dollars at Home Depot, making it the cheaper and convenient option. Installing steel cables is easy, you will have to simply wrap it around the entire length of the catalytic converter. This may not offer a hundred percent protection, but it can definitely make stealing your catalytic converter a more difficult pursuit. On top of that, the low price makes it a worthwhile installment.

Skid Plate

If you are very serious about theft prevention, then you will benefit from installing a Skid Plate. The installation will be costly, but a proper plate takes away all the access to both ends of the pipe, making it nearly impossible to steal. Another alternative to the steel plate is a metal cage installment. Overall, it involves a technician installing some kind of a shield on your converter to completely cut off access.

Alarm System

If your car does not already have one, then you should consider getting an installation. Alarms can send an instant loud warning whenever the thief tries to invade your car. This will either result in creating panic for the culprit, making them flee from the scene, or, it will alert you or your neighbors so they can intervene on time.

You can find many anti-theft solutions for your converter. However, the one that suits you the best should match your price range and the probability of theft in the specific area you park your car.

Brake Pads and Signs that your Car Needs them

brake pads

 

The brakes on the car are one of the most important components. They must function most optimally when driving the car, otherwise, it can result in dire consequences. In the face of a potential accident, the brakes are your savior, which is why you must be vigilant over any signs that indicate even the slightest malfunction of the brake pads. Below are few common red flags that of your car’s poor braking condition.

Unusual Sounds When You Brake

If you hear a sound at the instance of braking, the chances that your braking pad is wearing out are high. Most of the time, the brakes will produce recurring sounds, which should alarm you that the braking pads need immediate professional attention.

Some brake pads consist of a slot, which acts as a wear indicator. This allows the brake to make a squealing noise to alarm you of any discrepancies in the brake’s conditions. The squealing noise comes from the grinding of the wear indicator against the rotor.

The Brake Pads Begin to Thin

To check whether your brake pads are in good condition, check between the spaces of your wheel spokes. The optimum thickness of the braking pad should be a quarter of an inch. Anything less than that is a red flag in regards to braking pad condition.

Dust Accumulation

If your wheel accumulates a large amount of dust, make sure to check the brake pads. Many times, it is not the thickness, but dust particles that settle on top of the brake pads and obstruct the contact between the pads and the wheels. This makes the brake pads less efficient when it comes to braking. Alternatively, a cleaner wheel is also an indication that you need to replace the brake pads. This is because when brake pads wear out, they lose their surface area, giving less space for the dust to settle.

Your Steering Wheel Vibrates When you hit the Brakes

This can happen because of numerous reasons. It can be an indication that leads to many problems in the car. One of the problems that cause the steering wheel to rotate can involve braking, while other problems have to do with the rotation of the tires. If the vibration happened only at the time when you apply the brakes, there is a high probability that your brake is at fault.

Sponginess in the Brake Pedal

In some occurrences, you will notice that you have to press down on the brakes more than usual to get the car to stop. In other words, the brakes do not provide you with the prompt response that they use to earlier. This is another sign of brake pad wear and can lead to disastrous occurrences. Even a second’s worth delay in the braking distance can be detrimental to your life. Make sure you do not ignore these signs when driving our vehicle and be swift in brake pad inspection. Prioritizing brake pad maintenance above all else can ensure a safe time on the road.

 

Lloyd’s Automotive has served the greater St Paul area
for over 50 years