Winterizing Your Car: A Check List of All the Things You Didn’t Think Of

When we think of winterizing our vehicles ice scrapers, deicing fluids, tires with appropriate tread, bags of sand or kitty liter and body and paint treatments are he common place considerations. The focus is usually on the car itself and not always on the comfort and safety of the driver and passengers.

Keeping extra blankets in the car is a fantastic idea—whether its disagreements over temperature adjustments, keeping yourself warm while the car heats up or a road side emergency having extra implements to maintain body heat is a great idea.

Not everyone prefers to wear giant snow boots to work and honestly who came blame them? Trudging around the office in snow-kickers all day isn’t exactly ideal. But keeping a good pair of warm boots, socks, a pair of heavy-duty gloves, a stocking cap and an extra winter coat in the trunk could save your life if you are stranded. Many of these items could be purchased from second-hand stores. Picking up a dozen of those oxygen-activated hand and boot warmers isn’t a terrible idea either.

Re-placing road flares is doubly important with the increase of low-visibility weather coming soon. Likewise, investing in a high-viz vest like road crews wear might be a good idea as well.

Finally, depending on how bad the snow gets and how remote the areas you drive through are keeping some food and water in the car might be advisable as well.

Joe Victor

Five Simple Tips for Better Gas Mileage

It may be an unfortunate truth that we have all grudgingly accepted the new, high price of gasoline. Though that hasn’t seemed to stop the oil business from shocking us with forty and fifty cent price jumps at the pump.

Nothing will ruin you day quicker than handing over even more of your hard-earned dollars unexpectedly. However, all is not lost. Jody’s crew five simple tips on getting the most mileage from internal combustion vehicle.

Optimal Speed It’s about the journey, not the destination, right? According to the EPA and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory anywhere from 50-65 miles per hour is going to get a driver optimal fuel efficiency. This all varies according to the weight and design of the vehicle among many other factors.

Chill out! Information from both the EPA and the Economist reported that driving habits like, hard braking, aggressive acceleration and speeding (defined by the EPA as driving over 70MPH) will significantly decrease fuel efficiency. Up to 33% according to the EPA.

Idle Engines The California Energy Commission found that 2 minutes of idling equals up to 1 mile of driving. If you think about all the idling drivers do over a year, that is a lot of gallons of gas spent not getting from point A to point B!

Tire Trouble This one is an oldie, but a goodie, keep your tires inflated to their proper PSI. Many, many tests by people like the EPA, Popular Mechanics and even the pop science geeks from Myth Busters have proven time and again that properly inflated tires saves on gas.

Lose Some Weight The EPA estimates that loosing 100lbs of weight your vehicle carries could increase fuel economy up to 2 percent. Smaller cars will benefit more from shedding pounds. All of that “stuff” you endlessly carry around in your backseat, truck bed or trunk. Get rid of it!

You can find more information here.

Joe Victor

A Tire for All Seasons or Marketing Myth?

After abusing their tires all winter driving over the crater filled terrain most Ohioans know as their local roads, some will be thinking about replacing their tires this spring. Many of us will choose what appears to be the sensible option. An “all-season” tire.

Since their inception in the late 1970’s “All-Weather” or “All-Season” tires have been a less expensive and convenient solution to America’s tread-based trepidations. While the name suggests a tire your vehicle can wear year round, Popular Mechanics suggests otherwise.

Most drivers are mistaken in believing that all-season tires provide superior performance to that of summer tires, or more accurately three-season tires, in spring and fall rainy seasons.
All-season, in reality, means a compromise. The designer has chosen a tread type and tread compound that give drivers acceptable performance in all-seasons or all-weather. However this is not the same, obviously, as great performance in all seasons. In matters of traction, all-season tires only outperform three-season or summer tires during one season, winter.

Popular Mechanics tells provides a pretty simple explanation of how this all works out for the consumer:

  • In damp or lightly wet road conditions the tread compound is the biggest traction factor. A soft, sticky compound will give you the best grip.
  • In high water, higher speed conditions the tread pattern and there-by the tire’s ability to disperse water matters most.
  • Good and bad high water tread patterns are found on all types of tires. And worn tread or improperly inflated, but expensive tires may be outperformed by newer, properly inflated tires of lesser quality.
  • Summer or three-season tires get great dry/damp traction for exactly the reason the perform poorly in the snow: a soft, grippy compound, which hardens too easily in the cold. The all-season tire trades road grip for a compound that remains flexible at colder temperatures.

So Jody, you will have to decide which type of tire you feel is best for your vehicle and when you want to drive it. Maybe keep a winter car and another car for the other seasons? Ha ha.

~ Joe Victor

Joe asks Jody Victor®: 6 Racing Tips to Make You a Better Road Driver II

Don’t get caught in the, “I don’t need anyone to tell me how to drive,” syndrome. There are experts out there who can give you some really great tips. I asked Jody Victor  to tell us the rest of them from an article by Clifford Atiyeh and msn.com.

Jody Victor: Okay, Joe, here goes the rest of the story. Here are some great driving tips from a racing expert. Even if they look obvious, follow them. You’ll become a better, more focused driver on public roads, where you should never pretend to be something you aren’t.

Trail brake when necessary

Trail braking is a fancy way of saying “braking around a curve.” However, this doesn’t refer to entering a corner too hot, realizing it midway through and stabbing the brakes. That’s a good recipe for disaster. Instead, trail braking means staying on the brakes before you enter the turn and slowly easing up on them during the turn. It’s a great way to transfer weight to the front of the car to prevent understeer, the handling term that describes how much a car pushes its front end to the outside of a curve. 

Your tires can only do so much

Have you ever jammed the brakes and yanked the wheel at the same time? Even with anti-lock brakes and stability control, a car’s maneuverability is determined by how much friction the tires can withstand on both the X and Y axis. Basically, if you brake at 100 percent, don’t expect to turn with 100 percent, or even 50 percent. Brake at 70 percent, and you’ll be able to turn at 30 percent, etc. Tires can only do so much, and if you can understand their limits, you’ll respect physics that much more. I do now.

Brake hard first and then back off

On the track, Pechnik says coasting isn’t helpful. If you’re not on the gas, you should be on the brakes, even if only a little bit. It’s tough for an average driver to get used to this, since coasting saves both fuel and brake pads. Pechnik doesn’t dispute that. But he did recommend that road drivers in an emergency brake as hard as possible to scrub off speed and then dial back brake pressure so it’s easier to steer the car. It’s also good to remember this, as leaning partially on the brakes at high speed can cause them to fade and lose pressure. This is not what you want when you suddenly decide you have to make a complete stop.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll be trying out these tips next time we drive.

Joe Victor