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Behind the Wheel

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.
Behind the Wheel

Turn Around, Don’t Drown!

February 25, 2017
  While water is your vehicle’s friend when it comes to the car wash, it can easily become your enemy in many other situations. Stay safe on the roads by knowing how to drive safely in hazardous weather! You’ve all heard the message “turn around, don’t drown.” And it’s true–listen to it! More deaths occur each year due to flooding than from any other thunderstorm-related hazard. When a vehicle is driven into flood water, it rarely makes it out. Don’t underestimate the power and force of water! While some of you might think your car is indestructible, it takes just 12 inches of rushing water to carry a small car away, and two feet of rushing water can wash away most vehicles!   Not only can flood water potentially sweep your car off the road, it has many other damaging effects. Attempting to drive through water may also stall your engine and can cause irreversible damage to it. If you come upon a road that appears to be flooded, taking an alternate route is the safest solution. If an alternate route is not an option, take extra precautions:
  • Estimate the depth of the water. Use cars ahead of you as a guide, or try to gauge how deep it is with landmarks around you.
  • Drive slow and steady. This is not a race. Take your time.
  • Turn your lights on. You may even have to use your brights, but be mindful and considerate of other vehicles around you.
  • Give surrounding vehicles extra space. The more the merrier! Be sure to add at least 1-2 extra seconds of following time in hazardous weather. This allows you and those around you to have more time to react.
  • Avoid driving through water around downed power lines.
  • If your brakes seem to be wet and not stopping your vehicle like they should, you can try drying them. Press gently on the brake pedal with your left foot while maintaining speed with your right foot.
Behind the Wheel

FAQ: Steering System

February 11, 2017
Do you ever wonder how your car magically turns left or right upon your steering command? Well, there is an entire system in place that enables you to do so. The steering system converts your steering wheel rotation into a movement of your vehicle’s wheels correctly. There are three steering systems, but today we are going to focus on the two most common systems.  
  • The Rack-and-Pinion System The rack-and-pinion system is compiled of a steering column with a small pinion inside of it. When the pinion is turned it makes the rack move from side to side. The rack is attached to the vehicle’s wheels allowing for precise movement and turning. The rack-and-pinion system is a simple system and has a few parts that become worn and need to be replaced, but it’s an easy fix nonetheless.
  • Power-Assisted Steering System The power-assisted steering system is the most common system nowadays with newer vehicles. In this system, power-assisted steering overcomes heavy gearing. Oil is applied to the rack or the steering box via the vehicle’s engine. There are valves located in the steering rack or box that will open up whenever the steering wheel is turned. Once open, the oil enters into the cylinder and helps to push the steering in the right direction. When the driver stops turning the wheel then the valve shuts. The benefits of power-assisted steering is its ability to alleviate heavy steering. When the power stops working the driver can still steer, but it would just be heavier.
  The steering system is highly important because if you are unable to control where your vehicle is moving, well things could definitely end up poorly. Sometimes the steering wheel can feel loose or lock up when something in the system is wrong. If you are having one of these issues, please feel free to schedule an appointment at one of McCarthy Auto Group’s service centers today!
Behind the Wheel

Tips for Night Driving!

February 1, 2017
  Driving at night can be intimidating. With it being dark outside, you have to be even more cautious and alert while on the road. There are extra dangers to be aware of during the night, such as compromised visibility and impaired drivers. Here are a few tips that will help you to drive as safely as possible during the nighttime:   Keep Your Headlights and Windshield Clean Your headlights come in handy during the night time. Dim lightbulbs or cloudy headlight covers can reduce visibility. Keeping them clean and bright will maximize your visibility while driving in the dark. Your windshield is also an important asset when driving. If your windshield is dirty or cracked, you won’t be able to see where you are going. It is already hard enough to navigate through the dark. Therefore, you should make it easier on yourself by keeping your windshield as clean and clear as possible.   Pay Attention to Your Surroundings Stay alert at all times. Try to take extra time when waiting at a stop sign and yielding. It is also important to pay attention to road signs. It doesn’t hurt to take the extra time to make sure you are aware of what is going on around you, especially if it is dark.   Drive Carefully Try reducing your normal speed while driving at night. This will help you to be able to pay close attention of your surroundings. You should also avoid tailgating at all costs! There’s no need to rush to get to your destination. The best thing to do is get there safely, not in a hurry.   Avoid Using Your Phone Though this should be a universal rule at all times, it is imperative that you do NOT use your phone will driving at night! Phones are an easy way to get distracted and end up in a terrible accident. Avoid this problem altogether by simply avoiding using your phone while driving at night.
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!