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Behind the Wheel

Behind the Wheel, Car Culture

Headlights FAQ: “What’s Wrong with My Car’s Lights?”

February 28, 2019
Having problems with your car’s headlights? Millions of car owners around the world are right there with you, shoddy headlamps and all. But if you’ve got questions related to your vehicle headlights, I’ve got answers—and solutions—that should put those problems in your rearview.

Why are my headlights so dim?

You’re in some automotive Twilight Zone episode, sitting between “headlights quit working” and “headlights are too bright” dimensions. Fortunately, getting out of this paranormal predicament is fairly simple. Although bad headlight switches and alternators can cause issues with hazy headlamps, dim headlights are usually caused by either old-bulb filaments or corroded ground wires.

  • To diagnose your headlight ailment, open your headlamp assembly and inspect the bulb. Notice any gray, brown, or black residue inside? If so, purchase new lights from your dealer or at a headlight store, and replace those suckers.
  • If your headlight bulbs look clear, check under the hood. Follow your headlight’s wires back to where they connect to the vehicle. With a wrench, unscrew the ground cable from its point of connection. Use a wire brush to scrub away any corrosion or dirt. Reconnect the cables and inspect your light’s brightness.
  • If neither solution solves your problem, consider taking a trip to your auto service center. They’ll help.

Why are headlights so bright?

If you feel like car headlights are getting brighter each year, you’re not crazy. With LED, halogen, HID, and xenon technology becoming a new norm, high-intensity headlights on the road today can cause temporary blindness, or “road dazzle,” putting other drivers at risk. Continue Reading…
Behind the Wheel

4 Vehicle Maintenance Skills Every Car Owner Should Learn

January 30, 2019
Tinkering with the car is a favorite pastime for some individuals. But most of us just want the car to start when we turn on the engine, stop when we hit the brakes, and get us to where we are going with no hassle. Owning a car requires a little more from us if we want to avoid frustrating delays, total dependence on road service, and being stuck in sticky situations. Here are the most important car maintenance skills anyone can and should learn.

  1. Check Tire Pressure

Checking your tire pressure is a critical skill to have. Regular pressure checks are the best way to ensure your tires are running at the optimal PSI and are not leaking air, which would obviously mean a flat tire is in your future. Continue Reading…
Behind the Wheel

Where to Report Curb Damage Near Kansas City

January 16, 2019
Potholes cause approximately $3 billion in vehicle damage per year, but let’s not forget about what curbs can do to tires, rims, and suspensions. One round with a busted curb has the potential to cause some serious damage to your vehicle. We’re talking about misaligned wheels, perforated mufflers, broken tie rods, pierced transmission cases, punctured tires. Do you really want to deal with those problems? I think not!

If you’re concerned about a specific pesky curb damaging your car in Kansas City or a neighboring city, it’s in your best interest to report it pronto. Here’s a HUGE list of official contacts and websites to submit street repair requests in Blue Springs, Sugar Creek, and everywhere in between. Continue Reading…
Behind the Wheel

Printable DIY Roadside Emergency Kit Checklist

November 15, 2018
You’ve got your phone and tunes, a travel mug full of coffee, and (probably) a spare tire in the trunk—but we’re here to talk about your roadside emergency kit. Oh, you don’t have one? Like thousands of other Americans and Kansas Citians, your lack of a car emergency or safety kit is fairly typical. Most drivers don’t even have jumper cables stored in their car, let alone a full emergency kit. You can imagine how problematic that can be, especially in the winter.

Let’s turn your unpreparedness into super-preparedness. Build your roadside kit for winter now using this checklist as a guide. (Printable PDF can be downloaded here.)

Jumper Cables A long pair of jumper cables is essential for any emergency car kit. Try to have at least 15-feet of cable to work with—just in case.

First-Aid Kit You don’t need a fancy medic bag, but your first-aid kit should be well equipped. Include Band-Aids, antiseptic, tweezers, bandages, gauze, super glue, and aspirin. If you have severe allergies, your first-aid kit should also include epinephrine to treat allergic reactions. If you suffer from other common illnesses like diabetes, be sure you have an adequate amount of medications available.
Continue Reading…
Behind the Wheel

Do Windshield Chip Repair Kits Actually Work?

September 27, 2018
There you are, driving westbound on I-70, passing the familiar sign for WinterStone Golf on your way to Kansas City. Pink Floyd fills the cabin as you delicately sip that scalding mug o’ joe. Then — wham! — the truck in front of you kicks a pebble into your windshield, leaving a gnarly chip right in your line of sight. In most instances, those kinds of windshield chips only affect the surface, rarely causing damage to the internal layer of tempered glass. This type of damage is frequently correctable by your standard DIY windshield repair kit. Hooray!

But we don’t all get to live in a “most instances” world—sometimes we must survive in a “why me?” world, which means your windshield damage could be unfixable by amateur hands. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of common windshield chip repair kits, shall we?

Continue Reading…
Auto News, Behind the Wheel

5 Safety Features Every Parent Should Look for When Buying a Car

August 31, 2018
While researching the best vehicles to keep your family safe and sound, you’ve likely read dozens of reviews, browsed IIHS ratings, and looked at NHTSA grades. But as safety technology improves, so too do the number of recommended vehicles on those “safest car” lists, leaving you with more of a selection than ever before.

We call that scenario a “double-edged sword.” With too many options at your fingertips, how do you know which vehicle is right for you? Do you go with a Top Safety Pick+ SUV? What about that 5-star minivan? Ahhh!

Allow me to help you, stressed-out parent. Here are 5 essential automotive safety features you should look for when picking your family’s next vehicle.

Safe Exit Assist An exclusive feature designed by Hyundai, Safe Exit Assist is the guardian angel every parent of a toddler needs. As your kids gain independence, they’ll begin doing things on their own—including opening the car door without assistance. Safe Exit Assist automatically locks the rear doors when approaching vehicles are detected, eliminating the risks of a nightmarish catastrophe. Continue Reading…
Behind the Wheel

How to Respond to Emergency Vehicles

May 30, 2017
We’ve all encountered emergency vehicles on the road. When you see those flashing lights, sometimes it seems like every car on the road has a different reaction. There is general protocol you can follow when you see an emergency vehicle approaching you, in order to ensure that it gets to its destination as quickly as possible. First of all, let’s establish what constitutes an emergency vehicle. They could be any of the following: fire trucks, ambulances, police vehicles, and life support agency vehicles. If you hear sirens and flashing lights, just be courteous and assume they are responding to an emergency. If you notice any of these vehicles behind you or around you, a clear path needs to be made. Follow these steps to remember how to react!
  • Stay alert. Be sure to listen to your surroundings when you drive. If you hear sirens or horns, look around to find the source while remaining conscious of the road you are on.
  • Investigate. You’ve located the source of the sirens and flashing lights, now determine the emergency vehicle’s speed and the speed of the other vehicles around you. This will help you decide what to do next.
  • React. This is where you clear a path for the emergency vehicle. If the vehicle is approaching your vicinity, let it pass you. Depending on where you are when you encounter an emergency vehicle, a couple different scenarios can come into play. If you are at an intersection, simply wait to move until the vehicle passes by. If you are driving on a road or highway, safely merge to a lane out of the vehicle’s way or pull over to the side of the road. This doesn’t mean you have to come to a complete stop, stay observant of how other drivers around you are reacting and gauge what you think the safest action is.
  • Enter. Ensure that the emergency vehicle has completely passed you, and that there are not more on the way, and re-enter the roadway you were driving on. Make sure it’s safe for you to resume driving and use your turn signals. Be extra cautious and careful when entering back onto a road at high speeds.
  • Never. Don’t just pull over and stop. There isn’t always enough room for this, nor is it always the safest option. Also, never follow the emergency vehicle or try to pass one. Try and remain at least 500 feet behind the moving emergency vehicle that actively has its sirens and lights on.
A simple way to remember these steps is to remember the acronym SIREN: Stay alert, investigate, react, enter, never!
Behind the Wheel

Stay Calm Behind the Wheel

May 24, 2017
We all see the billboards and advertisements telling us to avoid road rage. If you’re like me, you glance at these ads and never think they apply to you. But, take a minute to stop and think about how aggressively you might be driving. From speeding to tailgating, these actions all contribute to aggressive driving behaviors. There are differentiating opinions on road rage vs. aggressive driving, but both have negative effects on drivers’ safety and your overall health. Many elements factor into aggressive driving. One of the main sources is traffic. Congested roadways and slow traffic causes everyone frustration on the road. Next time you’re stuck in a traffic jam, try and be conscious of how you react. Do you find yourself yelling at the cars around you to move faster? Do you rush through the yellow stop lights? Stay observant of your actions and reactions while you drive, and you might just discover you have some aggressive driving tendencies. Follow these simple tips to help reduce your stress level on the road and stay calm behind the wheel!  
  • Get enough sleep. We all know how cranky people can get when they’re tired, which can translate over onto the road. I know this is not the easiest task to complete sometimes, but getting in those eight hours of sleep is so important. This will help reduce your stress level and improve your overall health.
  • Breathe. If you notice yourself tensing up or clenching the wheel, loosen up. Focus on your breathing and relax.
  • Plan ahead. Don’t try and make up for time on the road just because you left late. Give yourself enough time to get where you’re going and avoid speeding.
  • Turn down your music. While blasting your favorite song might be therapeutic for you in some fashion, turning down the volume will benefit you in many ways, even if you don’t realize it. It will reduce your stress level and improve your safety on the road!
Behind the Wheel

5 Things Every Driver Should Do

March 25, 2017
After so many years of driving, it seems as if it becomes second nature to you. You’ve gotten into the habit of driving the way you always have, and unless you’ve been pulled over and ticketed for anything, you most likely won’t consider adjusting and changing what you do when you drive. Whether you are new driver or a seasoned veteran in the driving field, there are at least five things that every driver should do. Perhaps you already do it, but if not, I suggest you add them to your driving routine.   1. Don’t focus on the car in front of you Having tunnel vision while driving is one of the worst things you can do. If you are focusing on the car in front of you, you aren’t paying attention to things that are going on around you. To stay alert as a driver, it is important to pay attention to what is going on behind you and on both sides of you as well, as what is going on in front of you. If all of your attention is focused on the car in front of you, you could potentially miss traffic signals and signs. 2. Make sure your mirrors are adjusted properly As I mentioned in a previous blog post, it is extremely important that the mirrors in your vehicle are properly adjusted. When you’re driving, you want to make sure that you can look in all of your mirrors and see what is behind you and to the side of you clearly. If your mirrors aren’t adjusted, you run the risk of getting to an accident. 3. Always use turn signals Please, please, PLEASE always use turn signals! So many people forget or don’t care to use turn signals, which can be very dangerous. The last thing you want to happen is to get into an accident because you didn’t use your turn signal to alert the drivers around you. If you don’t use a turn signal, try getting into the habit of turning it on whenever you plan on making a turn. 4. Use your headlights When it’s dark outside, make sure to turn your headlights on. It is important that you can see while driving, and more importantly, that other drivers can see you. If it helps, there should be an auto setting available that will automatically turn your headlights on and off when necessary. 5. Keep your distance between vehicles If you stay at least 4 seconds behind a vehicle, you have a greater chance at avoiding an accident. Keeping distance gives you enough time to brake, should the car in front of you stop abruptly.
Behind the Wheel

How To Survive Car Sickness

February 28, 2017
There is nothing more unruly and annoying than suffering from car sickness. Imagine planning a fun getaway road trip with friends, but dreading the actual car ride due to the motion sickness you know you will endure. Not fun! While it may be impossible to prevent car sickness from taking over, there are plenty of remedies that you can try to get yourself feeling better and able to enjoy a long car ride. Here are some ways you can survive car sickness: Keep Air On You At All Times It helps to have a vent pointing directly at you or have some sort of fresh air whenever you are experiencing motion sickness. The air keeps you cool and also helps distract from the nauseating feeling you may have. Drink Cold Water Better yet, sip cold water. The cold water will help to keep your stomach settled and keep you from vomiting in the car. Do Not Read While The Car Is In Motion If you’ve ever felt what it’s like to read in a car and look up and have a sudden wave of dizziness come over you, then you know that it is not a feeling that you want to experience again. For some reason when you are reading in a car while it is moving, it is hard for your brain to decipher what it sees versus what it is feeling. If you suffer from car sickness then it is best to avoid reading during a road trip altogether. There are other ways you can help pass time on the trip that most likely won’t result in you getting sick. Try Meclizine-Type Medications Over the counter medications like Dramamine will help suppress and relieve nausea and vomiting you experience from motion sickness. Most of these medicines can be taken at least an hour before a trip and help to prevent you from suffering through any motion sickness.