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Behind the Wheel

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.
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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?

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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.
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.