Need more clarity? Boost your visibility this season.

Winter driving safetyReduced visibility can play a key role in traffic accidents. Lowered visibility can occur because of darkness or weather conditions such as snow or rain. No matter the cause, motorists often aren’t as careful as they should be.

The bottom line: driving in poor weather adds to the risk factor, boosting the possibility of skidding off the road, being involved in a crash and other similar events. However, there are things you can do to reduce the possibility of an accident.

Twenty-five percent of the average person’s driving is night driving, which is a more challenging time to travel.

According to PennState Environmental Health and Safety:
• Car crash fatalities happen three times more often at night
• More than half (55%) of fatal accidents happen at night
• Pedestrian fatalities happen much more often after dark (62%)

Some useful safe driving tips in times of reduced visibility, such as night driving, include:
• Slowing down
• Staying alert
• Using headlights
• Putting a safe distance between your car and the vehicle ahead of you; this is especially important when it’s a large truck, as their spray can cause additional problems with visibility
• Choosing the middle lane during wet driving conditions
• Taking advantage of tracks in the snow made by other vehicles and driving in those tracks
• Avoiding puddles

What should you do now?

• Set up a regular schedule to check your windshield wipers. New wipers are available at Advance Auto Parts. Get free installation with purchase.*
• Always keep a supply of extra windshield washer fluid.
• Check your car lights periodically.
• If your headlights are foggy or dim, purchase a headlight restoration kit.
• Use Rain-X on your windshield. Rain-X acts as a repellant on your windshield for rain, sleet or snow.
• Always carry an emergency car kit.

Editor’s note: Wow, that’s a lot to think about. Make it easy on yourself by heading to your local Advance Auto Parts store for safe driving tips and answers on how to keep your vision in check this winter. 

*Most vehicles, most store locations.

A road trip 18 years in the making

Ladies, if you’re behind the wheel, you better know the basics supporting that steering device. That wisdom from my dad still resonates with me. Dad never shooed me away whenever he was bent over the engine of our lime-green station wagon, coaxing a new timing belt into that behemoth V-8 motor. I credit him for my fondness of cars and hope to instill the same with my own kids, starting with my first baby (well, she’s actually 18, but you know how Moms are).

She starts college in a about a week—five states away. Too many borders to cross, too far away from me. Rather than weep all summer, I’m planning ahead: she and I will be hauling her things to the dorm this coming weekend. We are a bit on the late side, but this final summer travel session should be good for some mother-daughter bonding time.

I expected her to cringe. Instead, she loves the idea of us driving late in the summer, just before the semester starts. Her dad said it’ll be a long haul during the summer travel season, especially with our neighbor David’s trailer hooked up to our car. Given that she hasn’t been doing a lot of driving, that’ll require some safe driving techniques that may be new to her. I’ve got that covered—part of my bonding plan is to instill all sorts of safe driving tips as we take turns driving.

The three of us went over the car maintenance schedule to ensure mishap-free late summer travel. David later joined us to show how to: engage and disengage the trailer’s ball-and-hitch; ensure trailer lug nuts are tightened correctly and bearings are greased properly; install the trailer lights, connect safety chains from the trailer to our car. He discussed good driving tips for trailer hauling and what to do at every rest stop, such as safety inspections and checking car and trailer tire pressure.

A few more safe driving tips we talked about were:
• Use the side mirrors constantly
• Reduce speed gradually
• Keep a steady hand on the steering wheel
• Never slam the car brakes!

My daughter and I put our safe driving tips to use during some short practice runs across a few cities, from wide, traffic-jammed highways to thin, two-lane roads in the hills. We even took a drive during a rainstorm–something you don’t really expect when driving during the summer! It got to the point where wild winds forced us to use every safe driving tip in the book.

With good driving tips under our belts and a car maintenance schedule list checked off, I’m looking forward to driving across five states, peppering our conversations with my mind’s vast library of driving safety tips, with my baby at my side (yep, she’ll always be my “Baby). Maybe this is how Dad felt when he, that V-8 station wagon and I were driving during the summer of ahem, late 1970-something, hauling my things to the dorm for my freshman year? I’ll have to ask him, that is when I’m done cleaning up the mess I made in the garage!

Editor’s note: You’ll score high marks in car maintenance when you’ve got the best tools and quality auto parts on hand. Advance Auto Parts can help. Check out our site for latest coupons and deals.

Summer’s almost gone – now let’s hit the road!

Man oh man, has this been a quick summer. I’m not worried. In fact, now that most folks are getting back into their routines, I’m thinking it’s a good time to actually hit the road. It’ll be less hot (hopefully) and far less crowded out there, and that’s never a bad thing.

If you plan on still hitting the road, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First off, even if you’re not a seasoned mechanic, it’s good to know a little about how your car works and how to do basic maintenance. It helps build your confidence during summer travel, and let’s face it: It never hurts to get your hands dirty. When I met her, my wife didn’t know a dipstick from a lipstick, but she’s paid attention to my tips and I’ve taught her some basic car maintenance. She feels more confident and feels more confident on the road. Heed this, ladies. The more you know, the better prepared you will be when it comes time to bring your car in for service. You’re a lot less likely to get ripped off, too.

End-of-Summer Driving

Traveling is stressful enough. You don’t need a breakdown. Keeping an eye on some basic things and adhering to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule will keep your car or truck running smoothly and best of all, keep you from breaking down. Bear in mind that none of these things equate to rocket science. The suggestions I make are important, but also easy to do.

Tire Pressure

The first thing I’m gonna cover is checking tire pressure, because it’s not only vital to your car’s health, but easy to do. Your tires are, after all, your car’s connection with the road, so it’s very important to keep the pressure correct and even. Low tires can affect the car’s handling, wear unevenly and need more frequent replacement but also negatively affect your fuel mileage. This affects not only your wallet but the environment. And if your wife is anything like mine, she’ll appreciate both saving money and doing something good for mother earth.

First, check what your pressure is supposed to be. This information will be in two places: in the owner’s manual and on a sticker on the body of the car behind the driver’s door, measured in psi (pounds per square inch). The psi may be different for the front and rear tires.

Get yourself a tire gauge (shouldn’t be more than $15; I’m partial to the simple digital LED models) and keep it in your glove compartment. Unscrew the rubber cap over the air nozzle on the tire and stick the gauge over it firmly and straight. You’ll hear a quick hiss as a tiny bit of air comes out, but if you stick the gauge on correctly it will stop after about a second.

Read the number on the gauge, pull it off and then do it again. It takes a couple times to do it right before you get the handle of it. Do it for all four tires. If any of them is off by more than 2-3 psi, put some air in and then recheck. You can fill the air at any gas station.

Most importantly, make sure to do this first thing in the morning. The heat of the day and particularly driving will inflate your tires a little and you want to check them when they’re cold. And get in the habit of doing this every few weeks, as tires naturally lose some air pressure. Maintaining the right air pressure is not only good for the car but it’s key to safe driving, particularly driving in the summer.

 

Remember: Drive safely, enjoy your travels, and check back for more basic car maintenance tips.

 

Editor’s note: Car maintenance is easy at Advance Auto Parts. We carry a wide selection of quality auto parts, from tire gauges to car brakes, car batteries and more.