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Behind the Wheel, Car Culture

FAQ: Support System

January 31, 2017
The support system in a vehicle serves many purposes and can be known by a couple different names. You might be familiar with the “suspension system” in a car, which can be interchangeable for the overarching “support system” terminology. The main functions of this system contribute to the road handling, safety, and comfort of any vehicle. To understand the purpose of these functions, let’s delve into a better understanding of some different parts that make up the suspension system that contribute overall to support your car. The frame. This is the structural, load-carrying component that supports a vehicle’s engine and body which the support (suspension) system then reinforces. Springs. Nowadays, spring systems pretty much have four basic designs that contribute to the car’s balance and passenger comfort. The most common type of springs found in the support system are either coil springs, leaf springs, torsion bars, or air springs. You can find most springs located between the wheels and the frame of a car. Overall, they serve to compress and expand to absorb the motion of the wheels, thus contributing to the road handling and comfort results.   Dampers (i.e. shock absorbers). You just learned about springs, which allow the wheels to move up to absorb bumps in the road and improve the handling of the vehicle. Now we’re talking about dampers, which are commonly called shock absorbers and/or “shocks” or “struts”. They go hand-in-hand with springs to prevent your car from bouncing up and down. While the springs are necessary to deflect the bounce, your car would continue to bounce up and down if the reaction from these springs was not dissipated by dampers being in place. The “shock absorber” is a device that helps control this spring motion through an overall process known as “dampening.” Thus the term, dampers. Stabilizers. These are found in most cars, however, not all. You can hear many different terms when it comes to stabilizers, such as anti-sway bars, sway bars, stabilizer bars, and anti-roll bars. These are all essentially the same thing. Stabilizers serve as a bar between the front wheels and rear wheels that provide another dampening function and overall structural car support. Stabilizers serve to prevent leaning/swaying of your vehicle during turns and resist the swaying movement to keep your car’s wheels at the same height. Depending on the make and model of your car, these bars will vary from a thick/stiff bar to less rigid bars (which are better for off-roading). Tires and wheels. These obviously are an essential component that support your car. They help provide the traction, grip and friction that make movement of your vehicle possible.
Behind the Wheel

FAQ: Electrical System

January 14, 2017
Just like a human, a car is made up of different systems that coordinate to keep the car functioning. The electrical system is an important part of any vehicle. It consists of the battery, starter, and alternator. If any one of these parts stops working your car won’t start or run properly. The battery is responsible for providing the electricity needed to power all of the electrical components of your car. This small part converts chemical energy into electrical energy think of it as the heart of a vehicle. When the battery isn’t pumping electricity out, then the car will not start. Screen Shot 2017-01-27 at 4.52.45 PM The electric power from the battery is transported to the starter which is what really gets the engine up and running. The starter rotates the flywheel to get the engine’s pistons moving. Think of the starter as an artery transporting blood to an important part in your body. Without the heart (battery) pumping blood to the artery (starter) the important body part (engine) cannot run. An alternator keeps the battery charged while your car is running, and supplies additional electric power throughout the electrical system. Think of an alternator as the blood that is flowing through the artery (starter) and heart (battery) to keep it going and able to perform its duties. Now you have it! The electrical system is essentially what powers the vehicle. It’s important to make sure these parts are always checked. When they begin to wear out, your car battery will weaken and/or die, causing problems to other electrical system parts. Some signs that indicate attention needed to your battery include the check engine light, a slow engine crank, and low battery fluid level. If you are experiencing any of these issues, schedule your next service appointment now!  
Behind the Wheel

A Guide to Avoiding Blind Spots

January 3, 2017
Properly adjusting your rearview and sideview mirrors can be one of those things that is easily missed. It can be confusing and frustrating trying to get the mirrors as precise as possible in order to get the best view. It is important to know how to fix the mirrors accordingly so that you are fully aware of what is behind and on the side of you while driving. Here is what you need to do to properly adjust your mirrors: Adjust the Driver’s Sideview Mirror To adjust the driver’s sideview mirror you’ll need to be sitting in the driver’s seat. While seated, place your head against the window and set the mirror to where you can barely see your car in the right side of the mirror. Adjust the Passenger’s Sideview Mirror While seated in the passenger seat you’ll need to lean your head against the window. Begin adjusting the passenger mirror until you can just barely see your car in the left side of the mirror. Adjust the Rearview Mirror To adjust the rearview mirror make sure you are seated in the driver’s seat while doing so. Move the mirror around until you are able to see the entire rear window from where you are sitting. Now you’re good to go! Follow these easy steps to make sure your mirrors are adjusted properly for your surroundings.
Behind the Wheel

The Best Ways to Organize Your Car

December 21, 2016
It seems like cars are always super easy to clutter. Perhaps it’s the fact that once you’re on the go, it’s easy to accumulate and misplace things over time when you’re not paying attention. Being that I am venturing down the straight and narrow path of cleanliness, I found some cool and easy ways to keep your car organized and clutter free! Here’s what I found: – Organizing Your Glove Compartment If you are like me, you find it easy to just shove important documents, receipts, and/or miscellaneous papers in your glove compartment. An easy way to organize this area is to get an expandable tabbed folder, label each tab, and place the appropriate document in the right tab. Not only will this give you a lot of space in your glove compartment, it will also help you maintain and access important documents when needed.   – Keeping Kleenex at Bay I hate driving and not knowing where to quickly and safely find a tissue. Fortunately, there are handy devices that help you keep the tissue box in one place. Using a visor tissue holder not only allows you to easily access your Kleenex, it also eliminates clutter throughout your car. – Eliminate Trash Place a mini trash can, box, or cereal container for trash in the backseat of your car for you and your passengers to dispose items in. You’ll see how quickly your car becomes less cluttered once you put a trash can in your car. – Make Extra Storage Space Shoe organizers are perfect for extra storage space. By placing one of them on the back of the passenger seat you can access it easily while driving and keep things such as snacks inside of the pockets. These are just a few ways I found to be helpful in organizing my car. Do you have any car organizing ideas? Let me know what you do to keep your car clutter free!
Behind the Wheel

Car Accident? Now What?

December 19, 2016
There’s no doubt that car accidents are terrifying for everyone and something we all strive to avoid, but as the saying goes: accidents happen. Although it’s hard to think straight after you’ve been involved in a car accident, there are necessary steps to take afterwards.
  • Get to a Safe Area
            If your car is at all drive-able after an accident, pull over to a safe area to avoid holding up traffic or causing another accident.
  • Check to See if Everyone is Okay  Check to see if you and/or your passengers have any major or minor injuries, then check to see if those in the other vehicle are okay as well.
  • Call the PoliceReport the accident to the police and let them know where you are located. It is important to call the police even if the other person involved in the accident doesn’t want you to. Most states require you to call the police and they are there to help protect you from fraud and establish a liability.
  • Collect Information from Other PersonMake sure to exchange your names and addresses, insurance information, vehicle information, and licenses plate numbers. Collect as much information as you can to help protect yourself as much as possible during this accident. Also, take pictures of the accident. Get photos of both your car and the other vehicle(s) involved.
  • File a ClaimContact your insurance company as soon as possible to file a claim! As soon as you have all of the information from the other person involved, call your insurance company to make sure you will be covered.
Behind the Wheel

How to Drive in Inclement Weather

December 2, 2016
Winter is upon us which means happy holidays, pumpkin pie, spending time with loved ones, and unfortunately horrible weather. Driving in bad weather is very hard. Each year there are thousands of accidents because of bad road conditions due to severe weather. Though frustrating, it is possible to drive in inclement weather and still make it to your destination in one piece. Here are some tips I know will help you get over your fear of driving through the rain, sleet, and snow: – Stay Informed
  • First and foremost it is super important that you double check the weather reports before you venture out. Listen to warnings from your local TV and radio stations and use your best judgement.
– Keep Your Distance
  • I’m sure you’ve heard the rule-of-thumb that you should keep at least 3 seconds distance between you and the car in front of you. When driving in snow and heavy rain, it is important to keep at least 9 seconds of distance between you and the driver ahead of you. You never know if you or the car in front of you will hit black ice and begin spinning out of control. Keeping a safe amount of distance will lessen your chance of getting into an accident.
– Be Cautious
  • When driving in inclement weather there’s a huge possibility that you will run into black ice. Take precaution especially when driving on bridges and overpasses because ice and black ice form faster there. Drive extra slow, brake lightly, and hold onto your steering wheel tight while paying attention to your surroundings at all times.
 – Be Smart
  • If the conditions get too bad and you know you wouldn’t be able to drive through them, make the wise decision to pull over until the roads are clear again. It is better to sit and wait out a storm than end up in serious danger by trying to drive through it. Keep your trunk full of things in case of an emergency situation such as this. That way, should you be stuck on the side of the road, you’ll have everything you need. Not sure what emergency equipment you need? Check out a list of essential items here.
  – Make Sure Your Car is Prepared for the Winter
  • This is one of the most important tips on this list. With each season comes different responsibilities with your car. During the winter time your car needs extra care and attention to ensure your safety while on the road. If you take care of your car, your car will take care of you. You can find out how to best prepare your car for winter here!
Behind the Wheel

Car Care Schedule

December 1, 2016
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life in your car that takes you everywhere… but stay observant of how many miles you’re driving and keep a schedule of your car’s maintenance to ensure peak performance for your vehicle! Just like you buy certain gifts for certain anniversaries, you should get maintenance done for certain mile counts. Use this checklist as a guide to help remind you when to take care of your car!

Every 5,000 Miles

– Check/refill fluids for:
  •  Coolant
  •  Brake fluid
  •  Power steering fluid
  •  Washer fluid
– Change Oil – Check lug bolts

Every 8,000 – 10,000 Miles

Perform the same 5,000 maintenance tasks – Check tire tread
  • Use the easy penny test
– Inspect brakes – Check spark plugs/wires – Check/clean battery – Replace windshield wipers
  • Or every 6 – 12 months, whichever comes first
– If you haven’t yet, you should rotate your tires about every 5,000 – 8,000 miles

Every 12,000 – 15,000 Miles

– Perform all previous maintenance tasks – Schedule maintenance/inspections for:
  • ABS sensor
  • Fuel pressure regulator
  • Timing belt
– Replace these parts:
  • Spark plugs
  • Fuel filters
  • Brake pads
– Flush radiator
This checklist stands as a good measure for how often you should generally perform certain maintenance for your car, but stick to your manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and use your best judgement. If you can’t remember the last time you had something checked, then it’s probably time to schedule a check for it. Follow this checklist to help you stay on top of your car’s maintenance, check your tire inflation monthly, and make repairs (as needed) promptly!
Behind the Wheel

Master the Perfect Parallel Park

November 17, 2016
The task of having to parallel park can seem daunting for some. You might automatically think, “No way MY car can fit in THAT spot!” It might just be me, but it seems like the act of parallel parking was overlooked back in driver’s ed, and you’re faced with having to fit your car in these spots ALL the time! But this parking job isn’t as puzzling as you might actually think… it’s kind of like riding a bike–once you learn how, you’ll never forget it! Follow these steps to ease your parallel parking fear, and you’ll become a master in no time! giphy-11
  1. Use your best judgment. Will your car actually fit in that spot? If you have to question it too much, then it probably doesn’t. But it doesn’t hurt to try, as long as you’re careful. Just take it slow and steady!
  2. Drive your vehicle up alongside the car in front of the space you are aiming for. Try to get even with it and align your rear axle with that car’s bumper.
  3. Pause and steer your wheel all the way towards the curb at full lock. Make sure your car is not moving yet, you’d hate to be prepping for your parking spot and turn straight into the neighboring car.
  4. Look over your shoulder and make sure you’re aiming the right direction. Begin backing your car into the spot. With your steering wheel still fully turned, your car should simply ease into place.
  5. Back up in this position until the right-front corner of the car behind you looks like it is in the middle of your rear windshield. Once you’ve successfully parallel parked a couple of times, you should just get the feel of it and this will become more natural.
  6. Now, straighten your wheel and continue to reverse.
  7. When your car just barely clears the car in front of you, stop and turn your wheel the opposite way and straighten up your parking.
  8. Now just use your judgment to straighten up your car accordingly.
  9. If all went according to plan, you should be placed in the correct spot and successfully parallel parked!
Behind the Wheel

Dash Details

November 5, 2016

Are your car’s dashboard lights gibberish to you?

  There seems like there are a million of these little lights that pop up at the most inconvenient of times, but do you know what they all actually mean? Inspired by this article, I wanted to refresh you all on your dashboard lights! Here’s a helpful guide for you! screenshot-2016-11-07-at-11-02-36-am Check Engine – Indicates a fault that the engine computer has detected with the engine management system, usually related to emissions, but this light could have a wide range of causes.   screenshot-2016-11-07-at-11-03-11-am   Battery/Charging Alert – Voltage level is below normal and/or the charging system is not functioning properly.   screenshot-2016-11-07-at-11-02-57-am   Oil Pressure Warning – Illuminates when the oil pressure sensor has detected low oil pressure/loss of oil pressure. Immediately get your oil checked. screenshot-2016-11-07-at-11-09-42-am Temperature Warning – Indicates that your vehicle’s temperature has exceeded its normal limits with a possibility of overheating, and usually demands an immediate stop.   screenshot-2016-11-07-at-11-03-17-am Brake System Alert – This light indicates a low brake fluid level, leaks, or low brake linings. Sometimes this light illuminates when there is an ABS fault. If this stays on, you should get your brakes checked.   screenshot-2016-11-07-at-11-02-43-am   ABS Warning – Means that the Anti-lock Brake system has detected a fault. It doesn’t result in you losing your brakes, but additional safety features may be switched off and you should seek help to resolve any issues.   screenshot-2016-11-07-at-11-02-23-am   Bulb Failure – Indicates a problem detected with one or more of your car’s exterior lights.   screenshot-2016-11-07-at-11-03-02-am   Airbag Fault – This could be informing you that the passenger airbag has been turned off manually. But, if this light stays on, it means a fault has been found in the airbag system.   screenshot-2016-11-07-at-11-02-31-am   Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) – Low air pressure has been detected in a tire(s) or there may be a sensor malfunction.   screenshot-2016-11-07-at-11-02-12-am   Traction Control – This light usually illuminates along with the ABS light when the vehicle detects a system fault. It also comes on to warn the driver of hazardous road conditions it detects.   screenshot-2016-11-07-at-11-02-02-am   Powertrain Malfunction – The engine management system has detected a fault that requires your engine to be shut down. You should seek immediate help.  


Fog Lamp – This simply is telling you that your vehicle’s front fog lamps are on.

Behind the Wheel

Precious Cargo

October 29, 2016
As you prepare for that inevitable road trip coming up with the holidays, there’s probably a million things on your checklist. Is your pet one of them? A lot of times we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and the safety of our dog can get lost among the list. After all, they are our most precious cargo, so make sure you keep in mind their comfort and safety when traveling. People travel with their pets all the time, and more often than not you see a dog pacing between windows in the back seat, their heads sticking out of the window with not a care in the world, and sometimes even nestled in a truck bed. As much as your dog may love or hate car rides, enlighten yourself on what measures you can take to ensure their safety. 18419016209_5a28be4151_b There are so many what-ifs that can happen when driving with your beloved pet. What if your dog falls out of the open window when you turn? What if your dog jumps out of your truck bed? What if you get in a wreck? Not to be a debbie downer, but these what-ifs actually happen. An unsecured dog can become a distraction, interfere with your safety, and even escape if given the chance. Flying debris or unforeseen objects can severely injure your dog’s eyes or head when left to gaze out of the window. If you happen to get in a wreck or suddenly stop, your loose dog becomes a flying missile and can suffer from many broken bones, or worse. So, heir on the side of caution and make sure your dog is just as safe and secure as a child passenger would be. Secure your pet while driving to be prepared for those what-ifs. You wouldn’t let your child ride without a carseat or a seatbelt, so why let your dog? There are many options you can pursue to ensure the safety of your pet. From simply securing their crate in the trunk to using a barrier or car animal restraint, look here to find out what would best suit you and your furry friend. If you are one of the guilty ones of letting your pet ride loosely (we all are at some point),  now you know what a risk that actually poses! So take care of your precious cargo on those drives to ensure their safety, along with yours. dog-1149964_960_720