Unhaggle | How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Spring/Summer Driving

Posted by Unhaggle | March 05, 2014
Written by Elliot Chan
See original post at Unhaggle

Summer driving, having a blast! Summer driving happened so fast!
Okay, I’ll stop there, but as someone who is genuinely excited for sunshine, patio time and road trips, there is nothing like the arrival of spring. But just because the icy streets have thawed doesn’t mean you can start neglecting your vehicle – the heat can cause problems for the Ford Fusion that you take to work every day or the Dodge Avenger that you plan on driving to the cottage.
Get rid of your winter tires
Summer often feels too short, and it’s easy just to shrug the shoulder and say it might be better to keep the winter tires on all seasons. Don’t do that!
First off, winter tires are made to last for two to three seasons, so by driving it on occasions that don’t require it, you’ll end up wearing them down.
Winter tires are designed with deeper treads from a formulated compound that helps it stay soft in cold weather. If you drive with winter tires on wet spring roads or hot dry summer roads, the car may have difficulty stopping.
After you have swapped your tires, check all five of them – don’t forget your spare – to make sure they are clean, aligned and not under or over-inflated. Poor tire pressure can be a hazard in hot conditions.
Take that salt and sand out of your trunk
Remove all the unnecessary weight from your vehicle. There is no reason to keep a bag of salt and sand in your trunk during the summer. It will only cause your vehicle to lose energy – energy you can be spending on the air conditioner instead.
Consider what you need for your daily commute or your weekend road trips. Invest more space for a first aid kit.
Check fluid levels before towing a trailer or a boat
Whether you have reached the specialist recommended 12,000-km mark or not, you should always check your oil level before loading up a trailer or a boat.
It doesn’t have to be a complicated trip to the mechanic; checking your fluid level is something you can do on your own. Simply park your car on a levelled surface, let it run for five minutes and then turn it off. Then open up the hood and find the oil dipstick. Remove it and inspect two things: the level of oil and the hue.

If the oil is too low, consider adding another quart to it or changing the oil completely, depending on your situation. As for the colour, the oil should be a yellowish brown. If it is too dark or has a noticeable amount of dirt or grime, then it is time to get the oil changed or its filter replaced.
Other fluids to consider are the brake fluid, power steering fluid and windshield washer fluid. Consult your manual to locate them under the hood.
Concerning the brake fluid, a car does not consume any, so if there is not enough, it can mean there is a leak in the brake line or the brake surface is worn down. Without an adequate amount, the car will have trouble braking.
Power steering fluid can be easily checked through the plastic reservoir. Follow the guidelines and fill an appropriate amount, which you should base on the condition of your vehicle.
Wiper fluid won’t hinder the car’s performance on a nice summer day, but for the sake of visibility, it is better to have more windshield washer fluid than none.
Check your a/c system, hoses and belt
A lack of air conditioning can turn a nice trip into an agonizing heat wave inside a traffic jam. The best way to see if the a/c is performing up to standard is by testing it out. Turn it on and feel if it can maintain 10 degrees Celsius below the temperature outside. If it can’t keep you cool, then there might be a low level of refrigerant and will require a professional to check it out.
In addition to keeping you cool, it’s also important to keep the car engine cool as well. So checking up on the hoses and belts is as important as checking on the radiator and coolant. The hoses pump the coolant from the radiator to the engine, and the belt turns the fan – which also helps avoid overheating.
The hoses shouldn’t have any leaks or cracks. The weakest part is where it clamps to the radiator and the engine – if a break is to happen, it’s likely to be there. Aside from that, it should always feel firm to the touch.
Professionals believe that the belt will start deteriorating at approximately 58,000 km and may become a big risk. To check the belt you can just look to see if there is any damage and if it looks too smooth, or you can take a step further and remove it to see if it is separating into different layers.
Check and clean your car battery
There is no need to explain the importance of the car battery. But what you should know is that summer heat can be as damaging to your battery as the deep freeze of winter. The heat can cause your battery to overcharge or by evaporating the battery fluid, it can shorten your battery life significantly.
Cleaning it is the best way to keep your battery performing well and holding charges. Take it out, detach it from the cables and give it a good inspection. Then make sure it’s placed back in tightly and all the cables are connected securely. If you suspect the battery is giving up on you, take it into a service shop and have professional mechanics inspect it.
Change the air filter
The professional recommendation for a filter change is every 19,000 km, but after winter the filter may be clogged by salt, dirt and other debris. If you have driven through many dirt roads or dusty trails, consider taking it into a shop and seeing if it is in need of replacing. Changing an air filter may be a gut call in many cases. Since replacing an air filter can improve gas mileage by 10%, it should not be overlooked.
Yes, we are all ready for summer, we have been ready for a long time now – but it’s more important that your car is ready. After all, it’s the one taking you to all the fun.

Unhaggle | 10 DIY Hacks to Make Driving More Enjoyable

Ghostwritten by Elliot Chan| February 18, 2014 |
Published in Unhaggle.com
DIY-Car-Maintenance
You are a handyman; a crafty individual and every time you find a car and look upon it, you know you can improve it. Sure, you can pay a greasy mechanic to tinker around and add some gizmos and gadgets or you can do it yourself, because hey! You are a handyman; a crafty individual.When it comes to DIY projects, it’s important to think resourcefully. Like art, you must find possibilities in your limitations. Here are some hacks you can apply to your car to impress your passengers and enhance the way you get from here to there:

Shoe Organizers

shooe organizer

A car can succumb to clutter quickly, especially on long road trips or during busy intervals where you don’t have time to clean. Consider draping a shoe organizer over the back of your car seat to add pockets for provision. Suddenly, everything you need is within the arm’s reach, and your belongings, whatever they are, won’t go tumbling under the seat every time you make a dramatic left turn.

Trash Can

trashcan

Continuing on the subject of messes: keeping your car clean is an endless battle between convenience and remembering to pull up next to your dumpster. So, if you are sick of shoving your candy wrappers, empty drink cups and fast food bags to the side, put a garbage bag inside a plastic-closeable cereal container to create a portable trash can. You can also keep a supply of garbage bags inside an empty container, so you can make the changeover at your leisure.

A Car Seat Hammock For Pets

hammockforpets

Cars are not designed for pets and often they end up under the seat or up top of your lap. By attaching a car seat hammock (a fabric that suspends over the gap) to the backseat, your best friend will have a safe and comfortable ride to the park, and you can simply wash the hammock after the furry, muddy excursion.

Go-Anywhere Cup Holder

cupholder

Regardless of whether you have an old car or a new one, sometimes there just aren’t enough cup holders. Don’t panic; you don’t need to give your friends the important responsibility of holding your beverage – instead, grab a large roll of tape. The hole will function as a cup holder. And it’s never a bad idea to have a roll of tape in the first place. Be careful with the Big Gulps.

Unconventional Cleaners

cleaners

If you want to be a true DIYer brand name cleaning solutions are a definite no-no. There are many alternatives to give your car a shine and to help you see clearly on the road. 1) Combine a quarter cup of baking soda with a gallon of water and add a quarter cup of dishwashing solution to create your own car soap. 2) To remove streaks from your windshield by placing a towel on the bottom of the windshield and then pouring cola onto the glass. The carbonated fizz will burn off the grim. Give it a good rinse afterwards to remove the stickiness. 3) Windshield wipers will get filthy over time and you’ll just end up rubbing stains back and forth. Add a quarter cup of household ammonia with one litre of cold water, rub the wiper blades with the solution and dry it with a cloth.

Toothpaste

Toothpaste

It doesn’t just help you keep your pearly whites healthy, but it can also clean your headlights and remove scuffs. Take a tube of toothpaste and squeeze some onto a rag. Locate the dirty spot on your car and give it a firm scrub. The result is something to smile about.

Pool Noodle Bumper

poolnoodle

If you have a tendency of squeezing into tight spaces, like I do sometimes in my condo’s parkade, it might be a good idea to create your own little bumper to avoid those heart-wrenching scraps. Use apool noodle – you know those limp floating summer toys – cut it in half and stick it to the wall. There you go: now you’re just like all those celebrities.

Tennis Ball Marker

tennisballmarker

If you find having bumpers comforting, you might also want to consider having a marker to help you park your car. Find a happy spot for your vehicle in your garage and then hang a tennis ball down until it touches the windshield. This will help your park job be consistent with zero dings.

Binder Clip Smartphone Mount

A new GPS costs money, but why buy something that your smartphone can do as well. All you really need is a mount for it in your car. Get a two inch binder clip, a string, a rubber band, and some duct tape (I told you tape will come in handy). Take the binder clip apart and then use a plier to bend the round top part (where the two wire pieces meet) upwards into a lever shape. Tie the string around the wire pieces for protection and grip. Put the wires back into the clip with the bent round ends facing each other. Then duct tape the exposed wire. Finally, wrap the rubber band around the wires to create a reverse tension. Then clip it to your car’s air duct or somewhere accessable, place your phone on it and off you go.

Unhaggle | How to Get Your Car Ready for a Winter Apocalypse

Posted by  | January 22, 2014 |
Ghostwritten by Elliot Chan. Originally posted on Unhaggle.com

snow-car_2122166i

Winter is not just the time when you bundle yourself up and brace for the cold. Your car needs the same treatment, especially if it’s a new car. Sure, it may not look as good as you do with a scarf and a toque on, but little additions to your ride during these winter months can make all the difference, especially if you’re in the middle of a deep freeze.

A checklist for winter driving may not only improve your car’s deal come resale time, but it may also save your life during less than ideal driving conditions. If you wish to commute through the ice and snow, it would be wise to set aside a winter budget for your car— just look at it as buying a nice jacket for your vehicle. Here are some key areas to focus on:

Tune Up Your Car for Optimum Performance

Routine Checks

Preparing for winter is a year-long endeavour, but so is owning a car. Car degradation can happen in May, but with the extreme elements of winter, that shouldn’t be the best case scenario. So, bring your car in to a mechanic for a routine check up. They will make sure your battery is in good shape, your tires are capable and that your ride will be able to get you through the havoc.

In addition to safety, getting a routine check will also save you money.An optimal performing engine can improve gas mileage by 4.0% and properly inflated tires can make up 3.3%, whereas an under-inflated tire can lose 0.3% for every psi dropped in regards to the four tires.

Every little bit of gas helps in winter, because moisture has been proven to settle in the fuel tank due to the cold. Having a full tank of gas will reduce the moisture, thus reducing the risk of it freezing, blocking up the pick up and stalling the engine.

Winter Tires

Canada is a vast country and depending on where you live geographically, it can determine whether having a set of winter tires is mandatory or just a good idea. In temperatures less than -10 degrees C, all-season tires’ grip is compromised. Winter tires provide more traction and better braking and handling because of deeper grooves and treads.

Winter tires can cost an average of $120 per year, but that doesn’t include the cost of rotating it each season, which is around $75. An average driver commutes 20,000 kilometres a year, but they travel less than half of that distance during the winter months. Drivers with winter tires often get their money’s worth after two years, because mechanics highly recommend swapping back to all-season tires when the snow thaws and the ice melts. Winter tires will usually last 35,000-40,000 kilometres.

Avoid mixing and matching tires. Driving with two winter tires and two all-season tires will cause more harm to your vehicle than having no winter tires at all. Two different sets of tires will cause the axels to grip the road awkwardly, which can lead to fishtailing or under-steering.

Air Filter

All year long, your cabin air filter has been trapping pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust.A dirty air filtercan cause drivers and passengers to breathe in the contaminants and cause major problems for the car’s heating and cooling system. Since the HVAC system in your vehicle is working overtime during the winter, it is crucial to both your health and the car’s well-being to get it cleaned or changed.

Spark Plugs

Although we often consider gasoline to be fuel for the car, it’s nothing without a functioning spark plug. Spark plugs supply the essential element that gets the car going. When a car doesn’t start, we often focus on the engine or the battery—but the cause may be the spark plugs. If this important part of the car is neglected, many problems can arise during winter, including misfires, high fuel consumption, weak acceleration, or even a dead car.

Pack for Winter Trips

Winter is all about making lists: Christmas list, grocery list, list of people to invite for your New Year’s party and so on, but let’s not forget about the list we must make for our commutes. Anything can happen on the road during frosty conditions, so it is important to be prepared.

I know, I know, a car should not be your storage space, but these items can make ploughing out of a parking spot or waiting for double A to come save you much less strenuous.

Cellphone and Charger

Let’s be honest, we love our precious cellphones and we bring one with us everywhere. Be sure to have it handy during hazardous conditions, but don’t you dare use it while driving.

First Aid Kit

A first aid kit should be required in every car all year round, and it should have the following items: flashlight, batteries, blankets, matches, extra clothes, bottled water and non-perishable snacks. If your car does break down on a highway between two distant exits, you first aid kit will be your lifeline and it should not be disregarded.

Shovel or Snow/Ice Scraper

Having a shovel in your car can make all the difference, if spending a night trapped in a snow storm doesn’t sound like a good idea.

Bag of Sand or Weights

A bag of sand is useful during winter when traction does not come smoothly. For vehicles with four-wheel drive, a bag of sand in the truck can weigh down the rear tires, giving the car a bit more boost.

Driving Tips

Obviously, if you are driving through snowy and icy conditions, it is because you have to and not because you are going on a joy ride.So, don’t be negligent and follow these few helpful tips to get you to work, home or the market safely.

Check Weather Conditions Before Heading Out

Don’t put all your chips on  weather forecasters, but do keep their meteorology expertise in mind before you depart. Canadian winters are notorious for its sudden changes and you don’t want to be caught in the middle of a storm. Always let someone know where you are going before you head out.

Been Seen

Not only is it important for you to see other drivers on the road, but it’s important that they see you. Remove all snow off your car before you start driving and that includes areas like roof, hood and trunk. If the conditions hinder your visibility, don’t continue. Instead, find a rest stop and take shelter in a building.

Stay on Main Roads

Snowploughs might not make it down residential streets, so avoid those as much as possible. Be sure to drive with the traffic flow on main roads, avoid passing other vehicles and leave a comfortable amount of room between you and other vehicles.

Avoid Skidding

Skidding occurs when tires lose traction with the road. In harsh conditions skidding can happen to the best of vehicles.To avoid skidding, slow down and be cautious when braking, changing lanes, making turns and merging into traffic. Should your car skid, avoid harsh braking or jerking the car. Instead, release the brakes, shift to neutral, steer away from obstructions, wait for the vehicle to gain traction, shift back to drive and accelerate gently. Different type of skidding require slightly different procedure, but always remember to stay calm.

Be prepared for anything while driving in poor conditions and take on responsibility when you hit the road. Look out for your vehicle and your vehicle will take care of you.