Your Car Battery Could be Bad If…

If your car battery is dead, you are in trouble. Without a properly working battery, a car isn’t going anywhere. It can be very frustrating when a car battery dies. Here are some signs to know that the car battery is on its way out:

Car Won’t Start
This may seem obvious. If you try to turn on your car and hear a “tick, tick, tick” and the car starter doesn’t turn over, the battery could be the culprit. If the car doesn’t start it could also be a problem with the alternator. So it’s important to determine the root of the problem and then go from there when getting the car fixed.

It’s Older Than 5 Years
The typical life span of a car battery is four to five years. Keep track of the battery life of your car. If it’s over 5 years it’s advisable to replace it. A car battery is not meant to last 10+ years or over 100,000 miles, like your car might. It’s normal for a car to go through two or three batteries throughout its lifetime.

Cold Climate
Four to five years is the average life span of a battery, but that can be less if the car drives in extremely cold weather climates. The cold weather takes more out of the battery because it has a harder time recharging and uses more energy to start the car in the cold.

Additional Wear
We can all be forgetful sometimes, but leaving the headlights, interior lights, or alarm system running can affect the shelf life of the battery, even if it does get recharged.

If the car was in a front end accident, the battery may have been affected. Check the battery for damage like cracks. Cracks can cause leaks of acid and other chemicals which are dangerous and diminish the battery quality.

Dashboard Warning
Most modern cars include warnings in the dashboard when a component of the car isn’t working properly. A check battery light will appear if the battery is failing. Of course, this means that it needs to be fixed quickly. This isn’t a light to ignore for days.

Electrical Components Not Working
A healthy car battery should allow the car to use many electrical components at once. If you find that the radio, lights, heating, air conditioning, etc. aren’t working properly there could be a battery issue.

Follow These Steps after a Car Accident

No matter how safe of a driver you think you are, car accidents happen and they can happen at any time and to anyone. That’s why it’s important to keep a first aid kit, other safety devices, and important information and documentation in your car at all times. All of these items will come in handy in case an accident does happen. So that a bad situation doesn’t become worse, follow these steps after an accident:

#1 Remain Calm
After a car accident it’s easy to become angry and stressed, which won’t help the situation and may result in making some bad decisions following the accident. Instead of panicking, try to stay calm throughout the aftermath of the accident.

#2 Get out of the Way
If possible, move the vehicle to the side of the road and warn oncoming traffic. Turn on hazard lights and set out cones, flares, and warning triangles which should be kept in your car for safety purposes at all times.

#3 Call 911
Always call the police after an accident, even if there aren’t any injuries.

#4 Exchange Information
Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance company names, insurance company policy numbers, divers license numbers, and license plate numbers with the other party. It’s easy to get distracted and frustrated after an accident, but don’t forget to write down any of this information.

#5 Document Everything
As time goes on you may forget all of the little details that could matter down the road. While it’s fresh in your memory, write down the exact location of the accident and how it happened. Include descriptions of each car, including the year, make, model, and color. Using your cell phone, take photos of both vehicles for future reference.

#6 Look for Witnesses
If nobody is taking the blame for an accident, a witness to the accident can help the authorities determine who is at fault. If you believe you are not at fault, ask witnesses for their contact information.

#7 File an Accident Report

No matter how minor, always file an accident report so that it is on file. This document can help speed up the insurance company claims process.

Get This Information Before Buying a Used Car

Many people prefer to buy used cars instead of new cars. The primary reason is due to cost. You can find some very good used cars at reasonable rates while brand new cars are often much more expensive. The major drawback to buying a used car is that you don’t know its history. For some, this can be a scary thought. That’s why it’s important to find out as much information as possible before deciding to purchase the vehicle.

The first thing to find out about a used vehicle is why it is being sold in the first place. If you are purchasing from a dealer, this may be obvious. But if you are talking to a private seller, the reason behind the sale may be able to help you leverage a better price. For example, a private seller may have bought themselves a new car or maybe they are selling it on behalf of a relative that can no longer drive. When this is the case, they might just want to get rid of it and will settle for a lower price so that they don’t have to deal with it anymore.

When purchasing a used vehicle it’s important to always find out what the car history is and get access to the service records. How many previous owners did it have? Was it a rental car at one point? Was it in any documented accidents? If purchasing from a dealer, find out whether it was a trade-in vehicle or if it was bought at auction. Always get access to the CarFax report.

If purchasing through a used auto dealer, find out if any work has been done since acquiring the car. A dealer wants to sell a car at its highest value, so it may fix up and upgrade a used car before putting it on the lot. Knowing this information will help determine what a fair value of the car is. Don’t be afraid to ask if the seller can add anything else to the deal, such as new tires or a few oil changes.

Ask whether trade-ins are accepted. If you are purchasing a vehicle, it’s likely that you will be getting rid of another one. Unless it is no longer drive-able you probably want to get some money for it. Ask the dealer what the trade-in policy is and how much they would offer you. This is a lot easier than trying to sell it on your own.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about the used vehicle is whether or not there is a warranty. Because the car is used, you want to make sure that you are buying something that will last a reasonable amount of time. Many certified used vehicles come with the remaining manufacturer’s warranty. You should feel comfortable with how many years or miles are left on the warranty before purchasing it.

If you are able to pay for the used vehicle with cash, ask if you can get a discount for doing so. Since the seller will get the payment immediately, they may be more likely to give you a deal.

A Checklist for Storing a Car for the Winter

A car is meant to be driven. However, there are sometimes reasons that a car needs to be taken off of the road and stored for the winter months. Sometimes the car owner lives in a warmer climate during the winter or maybe the car is too fancy to subject to the cold winter elements. Whatever the reason, there are certain precautions that should be taken when storing a vehicle to minimize the effect it can have. Follow these steps when storing a car for the winter months:

Cover It
Preferably, store the car inside a garage while it isn’t being used during the winter. If possible, the car should be kept away from rain, snow, wind, sun, and other elements. If the winter is bad and there is lots of snow, it can quickly pile up on the car, which isn’t good for it. Even if it’s in a garage it’s still worthwhile to invest in a car cover to protect the car from dust. If a garage isn’t available, at least cover it with a car cover.

Protect the Tires
If a car is sitting idle for long periods of time it can really take a toll on the tires. If they aren’t moving and are left in the same position for months it can potentially cause damage or ruin the tires. Remove the tires and store the car on jack stands. If that’s not possible, park the car on wooden boards which are better for the tires to sit on for months than the cold cement floor of a garage. In addition, let some air out of the tires to reduce the strain on them.

Take Care of the Liquids
As liquids sit idle in a car over time it can prevent damage. Add fuel stabilizer to the gas tank, fully drain the cooling system, and change the oil before leaving a car for an extended period of time.

Keep Animals Out
Animals and other small critters seek shelter during the cold winter months and an unused vehicle is a prime place to hide out. To keep animals out of the car put mothballs inside the vehicle and cover the tailpipe.

Lock It Up

This seems obvious, but is worth mentioning. When storing a car the car and the garage should be locked. A car that isn’t being watched over is more likely to be stolen so it’s important to be as cautious as possible.

Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Tires

The quality of your tires is very important. As tires begin to age the tread on them wears down meaning that they are less effective and a lot less safe. Tires aren’t meant to last forever. Once the tread starts to wear on the tire it loses performance ability and tire failure can lead to serious accidents and even death. Don’t ignore the warning signs and take the time to check your tires on a regular basis. Here are a few ways to know that it’s time to replace your tires:

Failed Penny Test
Put a penny upside down in the center of the tread of the tire. As long as you can’t see the top of Lincoln’s head, the tire is still OK to use. If you can see Lincoln’s head, it means that the tread is too worn and the tire should be replaced.

Failed Tire Tread Gauge Test
The penny test has been criticized for not being 100% accurate. If you are looking for more accurate results, purchase a tire tread gauge at an auto store for a few dollars and test that way.

Tread Wear Indicator is Visible
The tread wear indicator is located inside the groove of the tread. It should be located below the groove. If it is even, or almost even, with the tread around it, it means that the tire is no longer safe to use.

Follow Owner’s Manual
Every car is different so use your owner’s manual as a reference. Typically, 6 years is the shelf life of a quality tire. This can vary depending on the driving style of the car owner, but 10 years should be the absolute maximum for using the same tires. The age of a tire starts when it was manufactured, not when it was first used because they can deteriorate even while just sitting in a store.

Use Common Sense
Sometimes just looking at a tire can let you know that there is a problem. Keep an eye out for any deep cracks or bubbles and take a look at the wear. If it’s uneven on the front it could mean that there is an alignment issue. If the tire doesn’t stay properly inflated and loses air quickly or doesn’t maintain correct tire pressure, there is obviously a problem.

If the tread of a tire is down to 1/16 of an inch it’s time to replace the tires. In fact, in some states it’s a legal requirement that tires have proper tread above 1/16 of an inch. Another thing to keep in mind is your environment. Tires can age faster in warmer climates.

Keep These Emergency Items in Your Car at All Times

As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Anything can happen when you hit the road, including break downs and accidents. It’s important to always be prepared and have the following essential emergency items in the car at all times:

First Aid Kit
A first aid kit can come in handy after a minor accident. It can be purchased or home made. Be sure that it includes items like bandages and gauze pads.

Flashlight & Batteries
Breaking down or getting into an accident is bad enough, but it’s even worse when it happens at night in a dimly lit area. Always store a flashlight in the car with an extra set of batteries, just in case. If the batteries don’t work the flashlight is useless.

Flares & Reflective Triangles
Flares and reflective triangles are important because they warn oncoming traffic that there is a disabled vehicle on the side of the road. If the car is stopped near a bend in the road or in an area that isn’t very well lit there is always a chance that a driver won’t see it and may hit it.

Jumper Cables
It’s easy to make a simple error like leaving an interior light or the headlights on, which will drain the battery. Sometimes all you need is a quick jump from a friendly neighbor to get the car up and running again. Having jumper cables in the car can get you out of a jam. Just make sure that you know how to use them properly.

Air Compressor
Driving with low tire pressure isn’t safe. If the warning light is displayed on the dashboard it’s best to address the issue as soon as possible. Since it’s not always easy to find a gas station quickly, or to find spare change to pay for the air at a convenience store, it’s advisable to have an air compressor that can be plugged into the cigarette lighter.

Winter Items
Depending on the time of year and where you will be doing your driving, items like a shovel, winter gloves, a blanket, and sand or kitty litter can be helpful during the winter months if the car gets stuck in the snow or ice.

Tips for Transporting a Christmas Tree

Of course everybody likes the look of their Christmas tree once they get it set up and put the lights and ornaments on it. Unfortunately it takes a lot of time and effort to get it looking that way! Perhaps the hardest part of the whole ordeal is getting the Christmas tree back home from the farm or stand. Here are 4 tips to follow to make the process as smooth as possible:

Bring the Right Materials
While the place that you get the tree might have these items available, it can’t hurt to be prepared. You should have on hand: gloves, a sheet, bungee cords, rope, and a stepladder if you aren’t tall or are strapping the tree to the top of a large vehicle. Christmas tree needles can be sharp and a tree is difficult to maneuver without gloves. Depending on how the tree will be transported home, the sheet can be placed in the back of the trunk or on top of the roof to protect the roof from scratches. Obviously, bungee cords and rope are needed to secure the Christmas tree so that it doesn’t fall out of or off of the car en route home.

Inspect It
Check the tree for loose branches, insects, or even bird’s nests. There’s no sense in taking that stuff home with you or putting it in your car.

Get It Wrapped
Before leaving, get the tree wrapped in plastic netting. A Christmas tree is much easier to handle when it has been wrapped. Many Christmas tree dealers offer this service free of charge.

Consider the Size
Small trees can go in the backseat and medium trees can go in the trunk. If you are putting the tree in the trunk, put the backseats down if you can and position the tree at an angle. The base of the tree should be inside of the car, with the top of the tree sticking out if necessary. Since the base is the heaviest part, this will help keep it secure. Use the bungee cords and rope to shut the trunk gently on top of the tree. If you are putting the tree on the roof, place it on top of the sheet with the base facing forward. That way, the wind will blow off less needles and limbs.

How to Get Your Car Ready for Winter

Just thinking about driving around during the winter is enough to make any driver shudder. During the cold, long winter months it’s important to be that much more careful when driving and take extra precautions. This means that all car owners should spend the necessary time and money to get their vehicle ready for winter. Here are 5 important ways to do so:

Buy Snow Tires
Think about all that you drive through in the winter: snow, ice, slush, hail, freezing rain, sleet. It’s not a pretty picture and it always results in slippery road conditions. Depending on where you live and how bad the conditions can get, all-season tires might not be up for the job. Consider purchasing snow tires that will improve your traction. If you can’t make the investment, check the tire pressure of your existing tires often throughout the winter months to ensure that they are properly inflated. Tire pressure can drop in cold weather which can be dangerous.

Replace Wipers and Washer Fluid
Windshield wiper arms are only at their most effective for about a year, so consider buying new ones before winter. Lots of dirt, sand, and salt is going to end up on the window as you drive and you obviously can’t drive safely if you can’t see. Most people use more windshield fluid in the winter than any other season, so be sure to keep an extra bottle in your car at all times to fill up when needed.

Change the Oil
It’s important to get regular oil changes no matter what the season, but it’s a smart idea to get one before winter. Oil can get thicker in the cold air which diminishes its quality. Tell your mechanic that you want to use oil that works well in the winter.

Make Sure the Heat is Working
Driving around in a car without heat in the winter is uncomfortable but it’s also unsafe. The heater blower motor is what heats the car and defrosts your windshields and without a defroster you will have severely limited visibility. Check that the heat is working before it gets too cold and get it checked out if you notice a funny smell or noise.

Stock Emergency Items
It’s important to have an emergency kit in your car no matter what season it is, but there are certain items that should be added in the winter like a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, gloves, boots, and blankets. You may even want to keep some extra clothes in the trunk. While this may seen excessive, it will come in handy if you break down during a snowstorm!