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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

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

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

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
Car Culture

Six Test Driving Tips You Need to Know

October 25, 2016
You’ve been researching getting a new car. You’ve done your homework, and now it’s time to finally see if that car you have been staring at on paper is actually what it seems. Make the most of your test drive by simply using careful observation and just knowing what to look for! I’m here to help you prepare yourself for when you finally take that new car out for a spin! Get acquainted. Come prepared to the dealership knowing what it is you’re looking for. Let the salesperson know you’re there to test drive and that you’ll be comparing models and prices at other showrooms. Starting off with this out in the open will help you to focus and respectfully let the dealer be aware you’ll take your business elsewhere if need be. Stay focused. Don’t bring the whole entire family to test out the car and crowd the place. While the car may be for them too, you need to focus on your drive. Bring the kids a second time for them to check out the back seats and see if they notice anything you didn’t. But, limit the amount of people that attend with you for the test drive so you can remain focused. If dealerships seem like a scary abyss to you, bring someone that can support you and ask questions you forget. Just remember what you came prepared with, and your visit will go smoothly!   Inspect the exterior. Don’t rush into your drive. Walk around the vehicle and observe it head to toe. Kick the tires, open the trunk, take note of the finish and general quality of the build. You want to make sure you don’t overlook something that could potentially bother you down the road. Inspect the interior. Now you’re finally inside the car, where you’ll be spending most of your time. So, take a moment here observing all the features and the general feel that surrounds you. Here’s some points to keep in mind when inspecting:
  • Was it easy to get in and out of? You’d hate to bump your head entering your car every day.
  • How is the leg room? Are the seats adjustable to your liking?
  • How does the steering wheel feel in your hands? Can you adjust the height?
  • How are the technological features? Actually plug in your music and see how it sounds.
  • Check out the cup holders, storage options, windows, wipers, and lights. You don’t want to overlook something that seems so simple, but could become a nuisance later on.   
  • What safety features is the car equipped with? How many airbags does it have?
Take your time. Now you’re ready to actually get behind the wheel and drive off. Be sure to try and test out the car on all road types, like highways, country roads, and hills. Also, be sure to try varying speeds. Stay focused, be observant of how the brakes, gears, and AC feel. How is the visibility? Are there blind spots that you notice? Is it comfortable for you to drive? Keep your eyes on the road, but try and stay conscious of these other aspects simultaneously. Don’t rush the actual drive. Reflect on your drive. Are all your questions answered by now? If not, ask them. Don’t be swayed to make a deal right when you step out of the car. Take your time. If you’re wanting to test out multiple cars, try and drive them as close together as you can so that you can compare each drive while they’re fresh in your mind. Sleep on it and see if you wake up the next day with any unsettled thoughts. Yes, buying a car can be a stressful, overwhelming experience… but keep these tips in mind as you’re testing the waters and it will make the process smoother. As long as you remain intentional and diligent with your search, it will make you more confident when reaching a final decision.
Car Culture, Uncategorized

Driving Around the World: South Africa

October 16, 2014
I’ve covered what it’s like to drive in China, Australia, and Russia. So now let’s move on to a new continent: Africa! Lauren McCarthy Driving Around the World South Africa I picked South Africa to research specifically, and driving may differ vastly from country to country in Africa. But in South Africa, much of the driving culture is similar to European countries in many ways. Read on to learn more about this fascinating place! XzMKyr5F6Ffu0HgBFApn1lUbD7z0xhmqX4rV9PHCZwI,WxjkzDBQKJ8JvrMqXxYWgJYQdzWVav_f8_GsM1g8Uzo
  • Safety laws are more strict. If you head to South Africa any time soon, you better be ready to completely surrender your phone while on the road! Hand-held phones are not allowed under any circumstances while driving. Blood alcohol levels are also more strict: in the U.S. the maximum level is 0.8 percent, but in South Africa it’s 0.5 percent.
  • Be on the defense. Perhaps the laws are more strict because the roads can be pretty crazy! In South Africa, there is a high rate of traffic accidents, so drivers are always on the defense. Taxi and bus drivers can also cause more chaos on the road (similar to NYC!) and in rural areas, chickens, horses or cows might pop up on the road!
  • The roads are full of “robots.” One funny thing that could get lost in translation is the word “robot.” In South Africa, they call traffic lights “robots,” so don’t be alarmed if someone tells you to look out for “the next robot.”
  • Another hazard: Antelope. Here’s one thing we don’t have to worry about in the United States: antelope crossings! Antelope are quite common in South Africa, so you may find “antelope crossing” signs in certain areas. When you see those signs, take extra precautions!
  • Road tripping. South Africa has advanced, well developed road infrastructure, so you can easily travel long distances between cities and towns. However, South Africa is a very large country, so plan your trips wisely and make sure to stop for rest!
  • Thieves can be tricky. When driving in South Africa, always keep your windows rolled up and don’t stop to talk to strangers…thieves there have been known to come up with all kinds of excuses to get you to stop so they can rob you! It’s a sad situation, but you’ll have to be very cautious about talking to strangers. One common ploy for thieves is to put large rocks in the road to try to get you to stop!
  • A different kind of garage. If you hear South Africans talking about garages, you might get confused. They actually call fuel stations “garages,” and unlike most American stations, they are not self-help! So sit tight and wait for an attendant to come to your car to fill up!
  • Keep it Euro-style. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, driving in South Africa has similarities to Europe. People drive on the right hand side of the car and remain in the left lane, then pass in the right lane. Distances and speed limits are measured in kilometers, so you may need to take a minute to translate while on the road!
Car Culture

Which States Have the Best & Worst Roads in America?

September 25, 2014
Awhile back I wrote a post about the states with the worst traffic in America. That post got me wondering about the states with the best roads in America…I’m not talking about traffic, but the literal quality of and convenience of the roads. I read up on it and found an annual report on that exact topic! The report ranks states according to things like conditions of bridges, safety of roads, amount of accidents on those roads, etc. The whole report was fascinating to check into. After looking it over, it seems that states with low populations, low speed limits and lots of wide open space have the best roads. And on the other hand, states with overcrowding and harsh weather or low funding have the worst roads. unnamed-1 Check out the list below, and tell me your thoughts in the comments! Do any of them surprise you? Top 10 Best Roads in America: 1. North Dakota
2. Montana
3. Kansas
4. New Mexico
5. Nebraska
6. South Carolina
7. Wyoming
8. Missouri
9. Georgia
10. Oregon Top 10 Worst Roads in America: 1. Road Island
2. Alaska
3. California
4. Hawaii
5. New York
6. New Jersey
7. Massachusetts
8. Maryland
9. Vermont
10. Connecticut
Car Culture

Driving Around the World: Australia

August 19, 2014
In some ways, Australia seems quite similar to the United States: they speak English, celebrate most of the same holidays, and developed into a country from British settlers. But in other ways, Australia is totally foreign! Their slang is different, their culture is different, and their seasons are literally opposite of the United States. Hence, I became curious about the driving culture in Australia and decided to investigate! Here’s what I learned about driving in the land down under: 1. Navigating can be confusing for Americans: Like many countries in Europe, Australians drive on the left side of the road in right-hand side cars, and use meters to measure distances. So that first time behind the wheel can be totally foreign as you navigate roads and read signs! kimberley_drive 2. Road trips must be well-planned: Unlike road tripping in the United States, you can’t really just get behind the wheel and wait for bathrooms and fast food locations to show up along the way. The vast Outback and comparably low population size make for some empty roads that have long stretches without any conveniences and gas stations. Coastal areas are especially prone to long distances between fuel stops, and some gas stations close overnight. 3. Seat belt laws are strict: Australians are serious about safety, and it’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure all passengers are wearing their seat belt. Children ride in car seats up to the age of 7 years old, and babies have an extra strap that goes over their car seat to keep it securely placed in the bench. Driving_in_Australia 4. Watch out for roadkill: Australia is home to all kinds of dangerous wild animals, such as crocodiles and kangaroos. Native animals become even more active in the evenings, so some car rental businesses require drivers to stop driving before sunset to avoid deadly run-ins with animals such as koalas, wombats, emus and kangaroos on the road. Even seemingly harmless animals like rabbits and cattle can wander onto the road and cause danger for fast-traveling cars. 5. E-Tags at toll booths: It seems odd that United States toll booths still require cash, so it’s nice to hear that Australian toll roads often have fully electronic booths that can be paid with an electronic tag or a pass. You can set up a pass before you leave home or up to three days after you use the road. No more stressing about getting to the ATM before crossing a toll booth! 6. Extreme weather can affect roads: In the north of Australia, months from November to March often have so much rain that remote cities become totally isolated due to overflowing rivers. Unless they have a landing strip for a plane, no one can reach the area — and you certainly won’t be driving there. Bushfires and tornadoes also can cause danger on the road. 

Why Won’t My Car Start?!

April 24, 2014

It’s a cool brisk Saturday morning and you’re excited to go shopping for yourself. You deserve it after a brutal week at work. Walking towards your car, you’re already thinking about all the stores you want to hit up.

“Maybe I’ll buy those cute strappy sandals from that boutique,” you think as you open the car door.

Hopping into the drivers seat you place the key into the ignition and… nothing! Thinking there might have been a fluke, you try it again. Dread washes over you when you realize that, yes, your car won’t start.

“I have to get those cute strappy sandals,” you yell out loud.

No worries, I’m here to help solve the mystery of why your car won’t start.

#1. Dead Battery- My first thought would be check to see if you left any lights on in your car. Even the smallest light can drain your battery if left on for too long. If you have a battery tester then that is great! If you do believe that your battery is dead then try jump starting your car. If your car starts right away, most likely the problem was just a dead battery. You can always get it replaced or have someone clean the connections. Over time battery connections can become dirty or corroded. Bad connections can make it difficult to start your car as well.

#2. Faulty Fuses- Hope that it is just a faulty fuse. It’s easy to get them replaced! You can tell when a fuse is blown, because the fine wires in the casing will be broken and there will be discoloring. (Few cars have faulty fuses related to starting systems, but your car might be one of them)

#3. Ignition Switch Problems- Your ignition switch could be the problem if it wasn’t your fuse or your battery. One sure sign that it could be the ignition switch is if you turn your key and the red warning lights on your dash don’t ever light up.

#4. Bad Starter- If you’re getting current to the starter but it just keeps spinning, it most likely needs to be replaced. I would recommend having someone help you test this, seeing as it could be slightly dangerous to do own your own.

There are some other reasons why your car won’t start, but hopefully this will help eliminate possibilities! So you can get back on the road and buy those cute strappy sandals!