Race Fans Road Trip: Charlotte Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Hall of Fame

Aerial view of downtown Charlotte, NC.

Charlotte, NC, Source | Erick Lee Hodge/Unsplash

There’s nothing quite like a road trip to Charlotte, NC, to get immersed in the world of NASCAR and racing. Right off the line, the majority of NASCAR race teams are based in the area. Then you have the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. For race fans, the Queen City is hard to beat. So tune up the car and drive on down (within the legal speed limit, mind you) to check out these unforgettable experiences.

Charlotte Motor Speedway

NASA Firecracker Run at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Source | James Willamor/Wikimedia Commons

May is a popular time to visit the Charlotte Motor Speedway, thanks to spring weather and big races like the Coca-Cola 600 over Memorial Day weekend and the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star. Located in Concord, just north of the big city, Charlotte Motor Speedway (formerly Lowe’s Motor Speedway) is a 1.5-mile quad-oval track. Race fans are ensured a great view from anywhere in the 89,000-seat stadium, thanks to a massive, nearly 16,000-square-foot HDTV. For a different kind of race experience, jaunt across the street to watch drivers tear it up at the four-lane zMax Dragway or get a taste of North Carolina red clay at the Dirt Track.

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Classic NASCAR car

Source | Flickr

At the NASCAR Hall of Fame, there’s more to see than famous cars like the Fabulous Hudson Hornet and Lee Petty’s Oldsmobile Super 88 (#42). You can retrace the history of NASCAR on a 64-foot-wide projection screen in the High Octane Theater. Then try out for the pit crew, and sit in the driver’s seat. With the Hall of Fame’s interactive, loud-as-life exhibits, visitors get a front-row seat to the best NASCAR has to offer.

Richard Petty Driving Experience

NASCAR Petty Driving Experience. Dodge Charger

Richard Petty Driving Experience, Source | Wikimedia Commons

Along with parachuting out of a plane and bungee jumping off a bridge, the Richard Petty Driving Experience is on the bucket list of every adrenaline junkie. Roar along the Charlotte Motor Speedway in a stock car at up to 160 mph. Just watching the in-car video is enough to make your palms sweat. Of course, this experience doesn’t come cheap. A little more than a hundred bucks will get you a shotgun ride in a stock car for three laps. If you want to take the wheel like a rookie, and race eight heart-pounding laps, it’ll cost you around $450. Bring friends and family to watch. And maybe a change of pants.

Race shops

Richard_Childress

Richard Childress, Source | Wikimedia Commons

Some of the biggest names in NASCAR call the Charlotte area home, including Richard Petty Motorsports and Dale Earnhardt Inc. The racing shops feature a variety of tours, museums, showrooms, retail stores, and fan experiences. Visitors to Richard Childress Racing, based in aptly named Welcome, NC, can visit the RCR Cup and XFINITY shops. They can also tour a 47,000-square-foot museum housing nearly 50 race vehicles.

Childress Vineyards

two wine glasses

Childress Vineyards, Source | Courtesy Childress Vineyards

If you’ve been to a race during your visit to North Carolina, chances are you’ve gorged yourself on a foot-long hotdog and cheese fries, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if your ears are still ringing from the track and your palette needs cleansing from the grit and exhaust, then check out Childress Vineyards. Owned by NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, the 72-acre vineyard and winery is located in Lexington, 10 minutes from RCR’s shop and museum. Tour the vineyard and taste a selection of the winery’s 30 award-winning varietals. Then settle back on the covered bistro patio with lunch and a glass of Cabernet, and toast to the checkered flag at the end of your trip.

Have you visited any of these Charlotte race venues? Tell us about your experience in the comments.


Heads up: You can win a VIP trip to the Coca-Cola 600 in May! Enter now for a chance to win:

  • Air travel and hotel for each grand prize winner and their guest
  • VIP access to track, hospitality suite, and paddock over race weekend
  • VIP access to the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert and a meet & greet with the band

Our Forefixers: Influential Women Innovators of the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry has a reputation (fairly or unfairly) for limiting women’s roles to posing for pinup calendars next to super-fast cars. But since the very beginning, women have been an important yet underrepresented force in the industry. These innovators laid the foundation for future generations, male and female, often with little recognition. In honor of Women’s History Month, here’s a look at three important female forefixers, and their modern torch-bearers.

Photo portrait of Bertha Benz as a young woman.

Bertha Benz, Source | Automuseum Dr. Carl Benz

Bertha Benz

In 1888, Bertha Benz snuck out of the house with her two sons and her husband’s invention—the world’s first automotive vehicle. Karl Benz was reluctant to release his darling to the larger world. Bertha, however, believed that what her husband needed was proof of concept and an excellent marketing plan. She was motivated by more than tough love, though. She’d poured her significant inheritance into the family business, and she was ready for a return on her investment.

When Bertha drove the Benz motorwagen around 65 miles to visit her mother that day, it was the first journey of its kind. Along the way, she invented the first brake pad when she stopped to ask a cobbler to add leather to the brakes to improve performance. Her journey captured the attention (and imagination) of the world. She also secured a place in history and the Benz company’s first sale.

Modern Trailblazer: Mary Barra, the first female CEO at a major global automaker, GM, and one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People.”

Alice Ramsey stands next to her Maxwell automobile.

Alice Ramsey, Source | Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress

Alice Ramsey

Alice Ramsey may not have had the right to vote in 1909, but that didn’t stop the 22-year-old from making history. She drove from New York City to San Francisco with three female traveling companions. Only 152 of the 3,800 miles she drove in her 30-horsepower Maxwell runabout were paved. She navigated with road maps and by following telephone wires from town to town.

During the journey, Ramsey changed flat tires, cleaned spark plugs, and fixed a broken brake pedal. She arrived in California to great fanfare—59 days later—as the first woman to drive across the U.S. Over the years, she did the trip more than 30 times, finishing her last journey in 1975 at the age of 89. Ramsey accomplished one more first for women, posthumously. In 2000, she was the first woman inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

Modern Trailblazer: Emily S. Miller, founder of the Rebelle Rally, a seven-day, all-female, off-road navigational rally across more than 2,000 kilometers of California desert. No GPS here either. Just a compass and a map to get to the finish line.

Source | Motorcities.org

Suzanne Vanderbilt

Suzanne Vanderbilt got her start in automotive design as one of six women dubbed GM’s “Damsels of Design.” Yup, it was the ’50s. The female designers were GM’s attempt to appeal to an increasingly powerful female demographic. They were limited to interiors, but they developed a series of innovations still in use today, including retractable seat belts and glove boxes.

By the 1960s, only Vanderbilt remained at GM. She stayed for another 23 years, eventually advancing to chief designer for Chevrolet. She was never able to break into the all-male field of designing exteriors. But she was responsible for three patents—an inflatable seat back, a safety switch for automotive panels, and a motorcycle helmet design.

Modern Trailblazer: Michelle Christensen, Acura’s first female exterior design lead and the first woman to lead a supercar design team. She’s responsible for the design of the second-generation Honda NSX.

Know of an innovative woman who made or is making automotive history? Leave us a comment.

Road Trip: Super Bowl LI in Houston

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Source | Augustinedelosdolores2002/commons.wikimedia.org

Super Bowl LI takes place on February 5th in Houston, Texas. The last time Space City hosted the Super Bowl was 2004 (do the words “wardrobe malfunction” ring a bell?), and a lot has changed in the past 13 years. The growing metropolis has poured money into updating its public spaces and developed a reputation as a culinary capital. It also has a plethora of Super Bowl–related activities planned for the days leading up to the big game.

So even if you can’t get your hands on tickets, a road trip to Houston during Super Bowl week is a stellar way to absorb all that energy. Here are a few of the can’t-miss attractions and events.

Pre-game events

The city is planning a Texas-size “Super Bowl LIVE” celebration with 10 days of free concerts, culinary experiences, and fan events. Discovery Green, a 12-acre park that was just a parking lot during the 2004 Super Bowl, will serve as the event’s headquarters, and activities will span the surrounding 35 blocks. Event planners are expecting 1 million visitors to the area over the 10-day period. As you can imagine, parking will be an issue. So plan ahead.

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Source | AndyH54889/commons.wikimedia.org

Top sights to see before Super Bowl LI

Space Center Houston

If the crowds at Discovery Green are taking the jelly out of your doughnut, drive 25 miles south on I-45 and pay homage to the source of Houston’s official nickname, Space City. Space Center Houston is the official visitor center of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Visitors can view Apollo 17, touch a real-life moon rock, and then tour the Johnson Space Center. Plan ahead and you can even lunch with an astronaut. That way you can ask pressing science questions, like, “Can you see the NRG Stadium from space?”

Museum District

Relax. Visiting Houston’s Museum District doesn’t mean staring at swirls of paint for an entire day—unless you want to, of course! The Museum District is home to 19 cultural attractions that appeal to a variety of interests. Did we mention that many of them are free?

Hermann Park

After checking out Museum District art, take a break from driving to stretch your legs in the adjacent Hermann Park, a 445-acre park that’s seen $46 million in renovations and additions since 2004. Enjoy shady walkways lined by 80-year-old live oaks, manicured gardens, an outdoor theater, a zoo, and scenic McGovern Lake. Oh, and a municipal golf course if you’re so inclined.

Waugh Bridge Bat Colony

OK, this one’s fairly weird, so we recommend checking it out—from a distance. Each evening at sunset, 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats erupt from beneath the bridge on Waugh Drive. The colony is large enough to be seen by weather radars when they emerge to feed on insects (hey, a bat’s gotta eat). The bats are less active when the weather is especially cold, so pick a warmer night. The bridge is about a 10-minute drive west of Discovery Green.

undefinedSource | eflon/flickr

Fueling up for the big game

Food trucks

Sightseeing is hungry work. No matter where you spend your days before the Super Bowl, keep an eye out for some of Houston’s best meals on wheels. Dozens of food trucks roam the streets, dispensing everything from cupcakes to banh mi. Curious about what goes into engineering a mobile kitchen? We were, too.

Restaurants/Pubs

H-Town is a food lover’s dream. In fact, it was named one of the Top 10 food cities in the country by the Washington Post in 2015. High-profile chefs and unexpected culinary experiences are as abundant here as brisket and BBQ plates. If the Super Bowl has you in the mood for big screens, bar food, and craft brews, you’re in luck. But call ahead if you plan to watch the big game at a pub, as normal hours of operation and admission may vary.

So there you have it—a short list of cool stuff to do in a city that’s long on options.

Taking a road trip to Houston for Super Bowl LI? Tell us about it!

Road Trip: Hot Spring Havens

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Source | Flickr

When it comes to winter road trips, you could go one of two ways. Either embrace the snow and head to mountain slopes or flee to warmer waters. But why not combine the two with a soak in a natural hot spring?

These gems boast steamy, mineral-enriched waters to soothe your muscles and snowy views to feed your soul. Best of all, you don’t need an expensive membership with an exclusive spa to enjoy them. The only choice you need to make now? Which to choose.*

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Mammoth Lakes, California; Source | Robson Hatsukami Morgan/Unsplash

Mammoth Lakes, California

Mammoth Lakes owes its network of natural hot springs to its volcanic past. Once upon nearly 800,000 years ago, a volcanic explosion laid the foundation for the network of hot springs that stretches from Bridgeport to Mammoth Lakes. Today, several commercial hot springs in the area are open to the public, including Benton and Keough. Plenty of undeveloped hot springs exist as well, like Travertine and Buckeye, but finding them will take a little legwork. Some of these sites are threatened with overuse, and not all of them are safe for dipping. So talk to locals and stop in at the Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center

for the full skinny.

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Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Source | iStock

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool is fed by the Yampah spring—one of the hottest natural hot springs in the world. The water from the spring is so hot (122° F to be exact) that it has to be cooled down for bathers. The 1-million-gallon main pool is kept at a balmy 90° F, and is perfect for the entire family. Adults looking for peace and quiet may want to retreat to the “smaller” 100-ft by 400-ft hot tub, which is cooled to a pleasant 104° F. Book an overnight stay at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort or purchase admission to splash around for the day.
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Bagby Hot Springs, Oregon; Source | Indigo Fairy/commons.wikimedia.org

Bagby Hot Springs, Oregon

Nestled in Oregon’s Late Successional Reserve Forest, Bagby Hot Springs is a rustic escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Pay a small fee to park and then hike a 1.5-mile trail over river footbridges and beneath old-growth forest to the primitive cabins. Inside you’ll find a number of whiskey-barrel style tubs and 8-ft-long, hollowed out cedar logs. The water is hot; the soak is free; the view is…primordial.

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Hot Springs State Park, Wyoming; Source | Jonathan Green/ commons.wikimedia.org

Hot Springs State Park, Wyoming

Tour Hot Springs State Park and take in the steam- and snow-drenched landscape. Wonder at the majestic, free-roaming herd of buffalo. Traverse the swinging bridge across the Bighorn River. Then (thanks to a treaty signed with the Shoshone and Arapaho in 1896), you can also partake in the park’s namesake. The hot springs’ bath house is free and open five days a week, barring winter holidays. The soaking pool is maintained at an optimal 104° F.

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Jefferson Pools, Virginia; Source |iStock

Jefferson Pools, Virginia

If you’re looking to soak in hot water and more than two centuries of American history, then few hot springs can best the Jefferson Pools. Owned and operated by the nearby Omni Homestead Resort, the pools were named after Thomas Jefferson, who raved about the springs during his visit in 1818. The octagonal Gentlemen’s Pool House was built in 1761 and looks it. But the 40,000-gallon pool features crystal-clear, untreated spring water so rich in mineral content that bathers nearly float. The Ladies’ Pool House was added later and allows for separate bathing. Combined family soaks are also available during scheduled times.

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Chena Hot Springs, Alaska; Source |Punk Toad/Flickr

Chena Hot Springs, Alaska

Imagine soaking in three-thousand-year-old, geothermal waters while gazing up at the northern lights. That’s what you’ll find at Chena Hot Springs in Fairbanks, Alaska. For a daily fee, the outdoor Rock Lake features unadulterated hot spring waters at a consistent 106° F. Visitors also have access to indoor hot tubs and a heated pool. Having too much fun to leave? Book a yurt (or a room if you’re more inclined) at the Chena Hot Springs Resort, which includes unlimited swim passes during your stay.

* For all locations, call ahead to confirm availability and access with winter conditions.

Have you visited a natural hot spring we didn’t mention? Share your experience with us.

Enjoy a Happier, Safer Road Trip With Your Pet

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Source | Andrew Pons/Unsplash

The holidays are a time for visiting with family and friends. When those friends live far away, many motorists choose to take their pets along for the ride. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), more than 15 million Americans travel with pets each year. And since January 2 is National Pet Travel Safety Day, here are a few road-worthy tips for safe holiday travel.

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Source | Kate/Unsplash

Visit Your Vet

Before you go, make an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian. Discuss any travel concerns you have, including how to calm your pet if he or she becomes too anxious. Make sure your pet’s vaccinations and ID tags are up-to-date, and be certain that he or she is in good physical health. Ask for a copy of rabies vaccination papers, in case they’re required while you’re traveling.

Take a Practice Run

Does the thought of travel leave you feeling both excited and anxious? Your pet feels the same way. If car trips are a foreign concept, take your pet on practice runs. Gradually increase the length of the trips to help your pet grow accustomed to your vehicle and the sensations involved with travel.

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Source | Matthew Henry/Unsplash

Pack a Pet-Pleasing Travel Kit

Include familiar comfort items like a special blanket, as well as grooming tools, portable food dishes, and water from home to avoid stomach issues. Don’t forget a leash or harness for those leg-stretchers and a scoop or plastic baggies for bathroom breaks. If you’re traveling with a cat, a plastic container with a locking lid and a few inches of litter can serve as a litter box. And, of course, pack plenty of treats!

Use a Vehicle Restraint or Carrier

As happy as a dog looks hanging its head out the window, chops flapping in the breeze (we couldn’t resist including a photo), it isn’t the safest way for your pet to ride. The ASPCA recommends using a proper restraint or well-ventilated carrier to safely transport your pet. A pet partition can also create a safe barrier between your pet and the driver. Also helpful: seat protectors help you care for your pet and your upholstery at the same time.

Stick to a Normal Routine

The same advice that works for humans applies to animals: We do best when we stick to a familiar routine. So take breaks at your pet’s normal meal times for food and water. Let your pet get some exercise while on a leash and sniff out the new locale. If you’re traveling with a cat, this is a good time to get out the litter box. When your cat is finished, scoop the box clean, replace the lid, and store it away in the trunk for the next rest stop.

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Source | Erik-Jan Leusink/Unsplash

Plan Ahead for Pet-Friendly Hotels

Whether you’re staying at a hotel at your destination or along the way, don’t leave finding a pet-friendly nest to chance. Do your research ahead of time with a site like petswelcome.com. If you’re traveling with a cat, ask if the beds sit flush against the wall and floor. Your back will thank you when you don’t have to crawl under the bed to retrieve your furry recluse. Also, secure your pet in a crate in the hotel when you have to leave for non-animal-friendly meals and excursions. They may not like it, but it prevents them from launching a prison break when housekeeping comes.

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Source | Vladimir Kudinov/Unsplash

Go Beyond Fetch

Lastly but perhaps most importantly, leave time in your itinerary for activities that your pet will enjoy. Search sites like dogfriendly.com and gopetfriendly.com for adventures, attractions, beaches, dog parks, and restaurants that welcome pets. Call ahead to confirm with management to ensure the best experience for everyone.

Roadtrips with pets can be twice as fun and half the hassle with some careful planning and consideration. So go for it! And leave a comment to tell us your pet-travel road trip stories.

5 Hacks, Tips, and Tools to Warm Your Winter

Whether you love winter or dread it, one thing you can’t do is ignore it. Unless you live a ways south of the Mason-Dixon line, in which case, carry on. For those remaining cold few (or many), let’s talk this winter’s best hacks, tips, and tools for staying warm.

Stay warm in winter

Source | Oliur Rahman

Tip: Heater System Tune-up

Level: Easy to Experienced

If your cabin remains lukewarm at best, your heating system may need a tune-up. Before you head to the shop, though, check your antifreeze/coolant. A car’s heater works by passing radiator fluid through your hot engine to a heater core. A blower passes air over the heater core and directs the heat into the cabin. Problems with your heating system can originate at any point along the way, but checking for sufficient antifreeze is an easy place to start and might save you money.

Problems with your heating system can originate at any point along the way, but checking for sufficient coolant is an easy place to start and might save you money.

First, make sure your engine is cool. Then check the quality of your current antifreeze using an inexpensive antifreeze/coolant tester. This video shows you how. If the tester indicates that your antifreeze isn’t up for the challenge of winter, you may need to flush your radiator.

Otherwise, go ahead and top off your coolant with fresh antifreeze. Be sure to check your coolant reservoir as well, adding antifreeze to the cold fill line. Now, take your vehicle for a drive and see if adding coolant was a simple solution to the problem. If not, the issue might be with the thermostat or even your heater core. Experienced DIYers can tackle the full tune-up, but others may want to visit a trusted mechanic.

Tools: Winter Tool Kit

Level: Easy

A well-stocked tool kit can go a long way toward making your winter more comfortable (and safer). Save time and elbow grease with windshield spray de-icers or de-icer windshield washer fluid. Keep lock de-icers handy to prevent winter from freezing you out. In case of roadside emergencies, stash a flashlight and reflectors or flares in your glovebox and a spare shovel in the trunk. Add thermal foil blankets and chemical hand warmers to stay warm without giving rodents a place to nest.

Hack: Remote Start Kits

Level: Experienced/Consider Hiring a Professional

Vehicles with a remote start feature have been around for decades, and so have aftermarket remote start kits. On the upside, these kits could cost thousands less than purchasing a new vehicle. They also allow you to warm and defrost your car before you even step out into the snow. Remote start kits only work on automatic engines, however, and require a working knowledge of your vehicle’s electrical system. Purchase a quality kit, and read the instructions carefully. If in doubt, hire a professional to finish the job.

Hack: Heated Seat Kits

Level: Easy to Experienced/Consider Hiring a Professional

If your vehicle isn’t equipped with heated seats, you may be facing the dreaded cold-bum conundrum. Is there anything worse? We don’t think so. For an easy solution, use one of the many heated seat warmers on the market. These usually slide over top your existing seat and plug into your vehicle’s 12 Volt outlet. Installing universal seat heaters can also bring much-needed relief. Unless you relish the thought of removing your vehicle’s seats and disassembling them though (and you DIYers might!), installing universal seat heaters may be a job for your favorite aftermarket shop.

Tool: Portable Micro-Boost Battery Chargers

Level: Easy

Nothing beats a fresh battery when it comes to powering your vehicle through the cold season. That said, life and extreme drops in temperature happen. Should you find yourself in a dark, snowy parking lot with a dead car battery, a portable micro-boost charger can get you back on the road. Use a micro-boost to jumpstart a dead battery or power accessories like smartphones, reducing the overall demand on your vehicle. Keep a portable battery charger in your trunk or glove box, and check its charge level on a regular basis.

Is winter a force to be reckoned with where you live? Leave a comment below about which winter tips, tools, or hacks keep you warm.

Why Do Car Batteries Die in Winter?

Few things are more frustrating than climbing into a cold, snow-covered car or truck only to hear the dreaded “click-click” of a dead battery. It happens to the best of us. But why does a car battery’s life seem to end more frequently in winter? Read on for the reason why.

Car battery

Source | Flickr

The inner life of your vehicle’s battery

First, a quick refresher on the science happening inside a car battery. Lead acid batteries are the most common car batteries because they’re inexpensive and fairly dependable. They’re made of a plastic case that houses a series of lead plates immersed in a pool of electrolyte—a mix of water and sulfuric acid. Each pair of plates makes up one “cell.” When fully charged, each cell in a lead acid battery produces 2.1 volts. So, a 12-volt battery consists of six cells.

The lead acid battery doesn’t produce a charge, but receives and stores an initial charge through a chemical reaction between the cell’s lead plates and the electrolyte. But as the chemical reaction occurs, the positive and negative lead plates are slowly coated with lead sulfate. This process is known as sulfation, and it reduces your battery’s ability to hold a full charge.

To complicate matters, lead acid batteries experience self-discharge, a natural loss of charge over time. Left too long without a fresh charge, a battery can discharge beyond recovery.

So why do batteries fail in winter?

Extreme heat or cold can increase your battery’s rate of discharge, making winter a triple-threat to your battery. All that exposure to summer’s heat evaporates the water in the electrolyte, increasing sulfation. Then winter rolls around, and freezing temperatures slow the chemical reactions occurring inside a lead acid battery, further reducing your battery’s ability to perform.

At the same time, a cold engine and sluggish oil demand more power, while power-hungry features like heat and defrost place more demand on your battery. Although lead acid batteries last an average of four years, they can fail earlier under the right (or wrong) conditions.

Signs of a failing battery

Your battery won’t always warn you before it fails, but here are common signs to watch for:

    • Headlights dim yellow instead of white
    • Dashboard battery warning light is on
    • Electronic accessories fail
    • Engine cranks more slowly
    • Dome lights dim
    • Car horn sounds unusual
    • Battery case swollen or cracked
    • Smell of sulfur or rotten eggs
    • Battery is more than three years old

The best way to find out if it’s time to replace your car battery is to have your battery tested.

Have you had to deal with a dead battery in winter? Share your experience in the comments.

Quick Ways to Improve Your Interior Car Lights

Daylight Saving Time ends this month, which means you’ll be spending more time driving in the dark. You know what we’re talking about: long evening commutes, running errands at twilight, or starting your car before the sun shows up. While you can’t avoid winter’s shorter days, you can make them more comfortable.

One easy way to do that is by upgrading your interior car lights with simple, inexpensive LED lights. You’ll have a more brightly lit cabin for those long nights, which could do wonders for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Here’s what you need to know about choosing and installing LED lights for cars.

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Why upgrade to LED lights in my car?

We could go on and on about the benefits of basic LED replacement lights. Here are a few reasons why they’re in all our cars:

  • They produce a more vibrant, clean white light than the standard yellowish incandescent bulbs. (Pretty useful when you’re searching your trunk for that black football cleat or your pup’s favorite chew toy.)
  • LED bulbs also come in a variety of colors and kits that allow you to customize your interior to your needs and style.
  • LEDs have a longer life than incandescent bulbs and run cooler. They also draw less power, which translates to fewer drained batteries because someone left the door ajar.
  • Replacing interior bulbs with LEDs requires no special tools or experience.

How do I upgrade my interior car lights to LED?

You can upgrade your car’s dome, map, glovebox, step, and/or trunk lights. How accessible the bulbs in these areas are depends on your vehicle’s make and model. Many vehicles feature a clear, plastic lens cover held in place by plastic clips and/or a few screws. In that case, use a flathead screwdriver to loosen the screws and gently pry off the lens covers.

In other vehicles the dome and map light bulbs are housed inside a unit held into place with larger metal clips. Removing these units will take a little more time and skill, but a screwdriver will still do the trick. Once you’ve removed the lens covers or light units, replace the incandescent bulbs with LEDs.

For help selecting the correct LED lights for your car, talk to your Advance Auto Parts Team Member. White bulbs are classic and provide the best visibility for these areas, but the choice is yours. If possible, double check that the lights work before replacing the face plates. LED bulbs have positive and negative polarity, like a battery. So if they don’t light up at first, you may need to turn the bulbs around.undefined

How can I step up my LED game?

If you want to further customize your vehicle’s interior lighting, take a look at LED strip kits. LED strip kits bathe your vehicle’s interior in a number of ambient colors, from your floorboards to your trunk space, and are also fun and easy to install. Adhere the LED strips where you want more light, then use the 12V adapter. Or hardwire the kit into your electrical system. Many strip kits also come with a remote that lets you choose from a variety of colors and modes, so you can adjust your lighting to match your state of mind and lend a more luxurious feel to your car’s interior.

Upgrading your car’s interior lighting is a simple and inexpensive way to improve visibility and add panache to your vehicle.

Pro Tips for installation:

  • Replacing interior bulbs with LEDs requires no special tools or experience. Simply follow the instructions in your owner’s manual.
  • LED bulbs have positive and negative sides, like a battery. So if they don’t light up at first, you may need to turn the bulbs around.

Have you installed LED lights in your car? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

Calling All Road Warriors: National Motorcycle Ride Day

national motorcycle ride day

October 8th is National Motorcycle Ride Day, so we hit Facebook and asked about your favorite routes (and for some photos of your rides). Many of you agreed with one poster, who said, “My favorite road is wherever that front tire leads me!” Other suggestions included lesser-known local routes—including the ones that you lucky few take every day to work. But your favorite U.S. rides were the ones with mountain views, technical roads, or backwoods peace and quiet.

Here are your top five, plus suggestions for how to spend the second Saturday of October. You may not be able to tackle many of them in a day, but is that really a bad thing?

The Easy Rider Tour

national motorcycle ride day

Some of you referenced the 1969 classic road-trip film Easy Rider. Why not watch the movie (but maybe skip the ending) and then retrace a portion of the iconic 2,500-mile journey of Billy and Wyatt, played by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda? The trip from Los Angeles to New Orleans encompasses five states and enough shorter rides to fill a lifetime. Or at least a couple of weeks. Depending on your location, you can take in the Martian-like landscape on the 161-mile Death Valley Run, loop around Monument Valley, cruise Route 66, or spend some time in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Along the way, you can pay homage to Billy and Wyatt at any number of recognizable locations from the movie. To get the full experience, trip on music from the soundtrack by artists like Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix, and the Byrds.

Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway, Black Hills, South Dakota

national motorcycle ride day

Named one of the most outstanding byways in America, the Peter Norbeck Scenic byway is 70 miles of scenic tunnels, hairpin turns, and pigtail bridges. Favorite sections like the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road will take you through some of the prettiest country west of the Missouri River. Smell the ponderosa pines, gape at two-billion-year-old monoliths and spires, and view Mount Rushmore from inside a rock tunnel roadway.

Million Dollar Highway, Colorado

national motorcycle ride day

People can’t agree on whether the Million Dollar Highway got its name from nearby gold and silver deposits or from how much it cost to build. But visitors will be excused for thinking the name comes from its million-dollar views. A portion of the San Juan Skyway, the Million Dollar Highway is where U.S. 550 stretches from Ouray to Silverton. The road reaches an elevation of over 11,000 feet at the summit of Red Mountain Pass, with plenty of hairpins and switchbacks along the way. What the Million Dollar Highway lacks, however, are guardrails, so take advantage of the many scenic turnouts.

Tail of the Dragon, Moonshiner 28, Cherohala Skyway, Great Smoky Mountains

national motorcycle ride day

The Smokies boast arguably some of the most treasured roadways for motorcyclists in the country. Bucket-list-worthy U.S. 129 at Deals Gap, N.C., also known as the Tail of the Dragon, offers 318 challenging curves in 11 miles. Want more? Extend your trip another 103 miles with the Moonshiner 28. Named for the bootleggers who once used it, N.C. 28 boasts abundant twisties and wide sweepers, mountain views, iconic spots like Bridal Veil Falls, and plenty of moonshine history. All with less traffic than you’ll find on the Tail. Or you can loop over to the 41-mile Cherohala Skyway. Drive from Robbinsville, N.C., through the unspoiled Cherokee and Nantahala forests, over 5,400-foot Santeetlah Gap, and into Tellico Plains, Tenn.

Natchez Trace Parkway, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi

national motorcycle ride day

It’s easy to see why so many of you love the Natchez Trace Parkway, a road that stretches 444 miles, from Natchez, Miss., to Nashville, Tenn. The parkway roughly follows the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail, a footpath that’s been in use for centuries. Sixty miles of the trails are maintained and open to visitors today. Commercial vehicles are prohibited on the Trace, which means no dump trucks or tractor trailers and less road debris. It also means that the asphalt is smooth as a baby’s… well, you know. The parkway avoids the congestion of most major cities, so you can relax while you soak up the scenery and the history.

For even more great rides (including more northeastern roads and the popular Blue Ridge Parkway), check out our recent posts Skip the Beach: Our Top 5 Mountain Road Trips and The Appalachian Trail: Road Trip Version. Or read the hundreds of Facebook comments from our road trip thread.

Getting your bike road-worthy? Stop by our Motorcycle Maintenance Center for advice, parts and more.

Saying “Goodnight” to Summer’s Toys

winterizing summer vehiclesWinter means it’s time to say “goodnight” to cars and summer toys like ATVs, boats, jet skis, golf carts, and motorcycles. Storing your car for winter (or any of your other toys) isn’t as simple as putting it in the garage. So before you tuck your toys in until spring, here are six tips to ensure your winter vehicle storage leads to a happy summer ending.

1. Check the fluids

Changing out essential fluids and lubricants is like giving your vehicle’s engine a warm glass of milk before bed. To prevent corrosion, top off your gas tank then fortify your fuel with an additive like STA-BIL. Boat owners can use SeaFoam to stabilize their fuel. Old motor oil turns into engine-blocking sludge, so change it out too before you put your vehicle into storage. And since you don’t want your engine freezing this winter, check that your antifreeze is up to the task with an antifreeze tester. Fresh antifreeze/coolant can withstand -34′ F when mixed at 50/50 concentrate. This video shows you how.

Pro Tip: To prevent corrosion, top off your gas tank then fortify your fuel with an additive like STA-BIL. Boat owners can use Sea Foam to stabilize their fuel.

2. Maintain the battery

Keep your battery connected to a trickle charger. Trickle chargers use electricity to replenish batteries at the same rate as they lose power. That way, your battery will be ready to go when you are. A trickle charger can overcharge and damage your battery though. So be sure to use a charger that shuts off automatically, or goes into “float” mode, when your battery is fully charged. Read our post on when to use trickle chargers for more information.

3. Remove or over-inflate the tires

Tires on long-term parked vehicles can develop “flat spots.” To avoid flat-spotting, put the vehicle up on jack stands, remove the tires and store them separately in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. If you prefer to leave them on your vehicle, slightly over-inflate the tires for added protection. You can also move your vehicle periodically to even out wear. Return the tires to their normal inflation before driving again in the spring.

winterizing summer vehicles

4. Nix the parking brake

Instead of leaving on your parking brake, which can cause your brake pads to stick to and warp the rotors, use a pair of wheel chocks. Problem solved.

5. Clean and polish

You could put off spring cleaning until, well, spring. In the meantime, however, grime and bug guts will do their dirty work on your vehicle’s paint and trim. When you pull off the tarp in a few months, you may find your toy’s not as shiny as you remember. So take time now to clean your vehicle. Apply a coat of wax to guard against moisture and rust. Protect chrome accents from corrosion with a light mist of WD-40. Another benefit of mopping up this summer’s soda spills and chip crumbs: It makes your vehicle less attractive to hibernating vermin. To make your vehicle even less appealing, seal up entry points like tailpipes and lay out scented dryer sheets. Apparently rodents hate the smell of clean laundry as much as you hate the damage they cause.

Check out some more projects to do while your car is in storage.

6. Tuck ‘em in

Lastly, If you don’t have room in your garage for your favorite summer toys, store them well-covered and shielded from the elements. Your vehicle will thank you with fewer needed repairs and a longer life.

7. Drive it ASAP!

We’re getting ahead of ourselves here, but seriously, don’t wait a minute longer than you have to. Cars like to be driven, and months of solitary confinement isn’t their idea of a good time. When you drive a car (or another motorized vehicle) that’s been in winter car storage, you’ll want to mix in plenty of highway driving to get the operating temperature up and circulate those fluids through the engine. Speaking of fluids, you’ll definitely want to get an oil change as soon as you take your car out of hibernation – here’s what else to do when spring rolls around.

Have a sure-fire way to ward off mice or keep your summer toy happy until spring? Leave us a comment below.