Most cars are a good deal if you pay what they’re worth. The trick is full disclosure. Don’t overpay for your next vehicle. Get a pre-purchase inspection from a professional like Tire Kickers.
Looking at yuletide and seeing problems doesn’t seem quite right but as a car driver, you need to be practical. As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder you are much more likely to succumb to drowsiness in your vehicle. This is something all drivers should take seriously.
We know what you’re thinking, “Bah humbug!”
But knock it off for two minutes and we’ll make it easy for you with a quick list of what might make your commuting more difficult and a couple ideas to make it better.
Instead of thinking like a Grinch, think like a super-hero. Not only are problems more likely, but the situations can become more drastic, more quickly than in other seasons. This is your chance to be the one who’s ready, who makes safety look easy, and who protects the family.
Maybe you are full of holiday cheer. Maybe you love all the fancy decorations you drive past. Maybe you don’t but the person in front of you does. We’ll get back to road conditions in a minute, but it’s important to start off a list like this with the fact that you need more following distance between you and the car in front of you than ever.
Having a flask of hot coffee in the car will also give you a bit of a pick-me-up in a freezing cold day.
Many people start getting terrible quality of sleep in the fall. Sunlight, temperature, and activity level all affect the quality and quantity of sleep. Heck, you can sleep too much and become groggier, especially if you’re resorting to a sleep aid.
With the retail season in full swing, most of us are busy at work. Most of us are shopping whenever we can fit it in. AND let’s face it, holiday traffic sucks. Now is the worst time to drive groggy.
This is why it is important to get enough sleep and maybe not work too hard (though this could be easier said than done in the Christmas period). Iron and Vitamin D supplements might help.
It’s hard to drive when you’re sick. Running nose, headache, and the dreaded sneeze can really do a number on your ability to operate a car safely. Get lots of sleep (see above), and take vitamin C. Try elderberry extract, ginger tea, and don’t neglect hand washing.
It might not just be you that’s sluggish in the cold, by the way. Cold makes it harder to start your car in the morning. Believe it or not, this is due to oil being slightly thicker in cold weather and the battery taking slightly longer to react.
The best thing you can do about this is to leave extra time for your journey to start up the engine and scrape your windows. If you do find that you’re getting a late start, just call into work and make amends up front. Most employers we’ve encountered may grumble, but they’d rather have you late than dead.
Some places get fog, others get glint from the sun off ice cycles. The sun comes in at a lower angle and can create a lot of glare…if you live somewhere the sun shines in the winter.
One of the biggest issues we warn of about this time every year is not fully cleaning your windshield. It takes two seconds longer to scrape the whole thing than to try to guess which part you won’t need to see through on your way to work. You may need to apply de-icer to the windscreens and other windows. Chemically speaking, this is known as propylene glycol. The alcohol in the substance is what makes the ice melt.
When it comes to de-icing roads this may be done with salt (usually rock salt) spread by dumper truck or snow plow. It may not pure salt – it may be mixed with sand or gravel, or indeed both.
On the west coast, plowing and de-icing are generally done by the state transportation crews. In the Northeast U.S., it’s more common for private individuals to own a plow or attachment to clear roads the community resources don’t get to quickly enough. (One of our writers brags about always trying to buy a house near such an individual so he isn’t late to work in the winters.)
Back to the rock salt on the roads, because it’s not all that reliable, there is a threshold where it will not work at all; the snow will stay on the roads. This is when the temperature goes below -18°C. There are other problems with salt as it is toxic to many plants and animals. This is why calcium chloride or magnesium chloride works better; they create something that has a lower freezing point than salt water.
The best solution in bad weather, or at least the first few days of bad weather, is to work from home. It can create stress of its own, but it beats dying.
If your boss resists letting you work remotely as him/her if you can do it on a trial basis. Then just make sure to make that your most productive day all month. When your boss sees that its safer and more productive you have a 40% chance of doing it again in the next bad weather situation. (BTW in our experience %60 of all bosses are so against remote work that they’d rather you come in late, work slow, and leave early. Yes that’s stupid!)
The problem with remote working is how are you going to do your Christmas shopping? That’s what the internet is for, eh?
Be sure to carry traction devices and a winter safety kit. You don’t want to break down in the winter with no blanket or flares. Also, make sure to carry a cell phone, even if you just buy some minutes for a pay as you go plan. It’s a good idea to get your car, especially the tires checked before the really bad stuff sets in.
Sadly, the title of “deadliest day of the year” is actually Thanksgiving. Over 500 Americans are killed every Thanksgiving, and that doesn’t include the thousands of others who are injured. Compare that to 102 fatal accidents, which is the daily average on any other given day. While fortunately, most collisions (even on Thanksgiving) don’t result in a fatality, the resulting damage—to people and their vehicles alike—can be extensive.
You’re much more likely to get into a minor fender bender rather than a deadly accident when making a mad dash for that forgotten bag of cranberries en route to your family’s big event. While everyone involved in the minor accident may be okay, the same might not be true of your vehicle. Even a seemingly small tap can cause massive body and bumper damage, especially to a collectible car.
After the turkey’s carved, the stretchy pants are being tested and the pumpkin pie is devoured, you still have one last challenge: Get your car repaired as quickly and beautifully as possible before the next holiday creeps up.
And You Thought the Turducken Would be the Worst Part of the Weekend
Since Thanksgiving is a magnet for crashes, that means you can expect a long wait to get into a quality body shop than normal. Plus, many shops are generous with holiday time off. While you’re number 20 in line for a paintless dent removal procedure, you’re having to tool around town with a busted taillight or massive dent. Rely on a local body shop that puts the “customer” back into customer service.
You deserve a collision repair shop that offers free walk-in estimates, a reasonable turnaround time, and friendly, knowledgeable staff who’s seen it all before. Seek out a shop with state of the art technology including computerized paint matching so nobody can tell your car’s paint job is anything but the factory original. Mix in a lifetime guarantee on services and the ability to check your car’s status online, and suddenly that Thanksgiving collision is just a bad memory (kind of like your aunt’s “special” stuffing that just never pans out).
Giving Thanks for Fast Fixes
Collisions big and small both deserve an expert touch. From window and glass replacement to custom paint jobs, trust your ride to only the best. Don’t settle for a shop that doesn’t offer rental car assistance or specialize in express repair services. Auto body work is part skill, part talent and part having the right technology at hand. However, once your ride is back in tip-top shape, why stop there? Treat yourself to a little holiday indulgence.
Splurge on some detailing or have a pro install an auto accessory you’ve had your eye on. Get that “slightly off” alignment and suspension taken care of, or repair that torn seat cushion that keeps snagging on your gym clothes. From wheel repairs to headlamp restoration, getting your car in its best shape before the winter months doesn’t just make you feel better, it optimizes your safety on the road. After all, Christmas and New Year’s Eve might not be the deadliest time of year to be on the road, but they’re right around the corner and very close runners-up.
(Note: Thanks for enjoying our post, but don’t forget to set your clocks back this Sunday 11/4 or something really spooky could happen–like losing your job when you’re late for work!)
Do you really need to fix that tiny crack in the windshield if it’s not spreading and doesn’t impact your vision? Is it really necessary to fix that dent in the bumper if you have no hopes of selling your old faithful for a decent profit? The answer “it depends” applies for many repairs and maintenance, but there are some auto TLC steps that should never be skipped. You might be able to skate by with a scratched fender or dent from losing a shopping cart battle in the parking lot, but other fixes, repairs and maintenance are crucial.
A reputable collision repair shop won’t push you to do anything that isn’t necessary. However, don’t assume that just because an issue looks superficial and unimportant that it is. A good “trust test” is to see if a shop offers free walk-in estimates, and whether or not you get a “sales-y” vibe while there. You should be able to get a preview and estimate of what’s in store without committing yourself (and your cash) to a shop.
Like Whitney Said, Crack is Wack
It might not seem like that crack in the windshield is getting worse, and you may not think it impairs your vision, but both things are probably happening. Just like the crack happened suddenly, it can spread suddenly. It’s much easier and cost-effective to fix a smaller crack than replace an entire pane of glass. Plus, you owe it to yourself, passengers and other drivers to have a clear vision of the road in front of you.
As an added bonus, glass replacement and repair is often much more affordable than you imagine. A lot of the time it will be even less than your deductible, which means you’ll avoid changes in your auto insurance because of it. It’s possible you’ll wake up one morning to find a tiny crack has spider-webbed across the entire pane, so get it taken care of now.
Wheels vs. Tires
These words are often (wrongly) used interchangeably. Tires are the black rubber that actually touches the roads, and wheels are the metal or plastic pieces that hold tires in place. You know it’s paramount to have good tire traction and pressure, but aren’t wheels just for looks? Not at all, and a broken wheel might be causing you to lose tire pressure or even impact steering capability.
Wheels are the frames of your tires and need to be in great working condition at all times. Wheel repairs can help improve safety, ease driving and help keep your vehicle aligned. It’s important that both your tires and wheels are in great shape because when they are flawed they can certainly lead to a sudden accident. If your wheel is dented and pushing into the tire, it can suddenly puncture it while you’re going 70 mph on the freeway with disastrous consequences.
When to See a Pro
For wheels, windshields, frame straightening, alignments, suspensions and headlight repairs, it’s crucial that you get these problems taken care of right away. Even better, if you locate a shop that offers a lifetime guarantee, you’ll rest easy while rocking out on your commute knowing that you’re covered.
Getting a cracked or chipped windshield isn’t the end of the world (or your paycheck)—assuming you address it right away. It’s very common and if it’s a small enough chip it can be easily fixed for a low cost in less than a minute. In fact, many insurance policies cover these minor dings without it impacting your rates or having you pay a deductible at all or you can find a great windshield crack promotion at reputable shops. However, things can go bad quickly if drivers don’t take swift action.
There are many causes of cracks and chips, whether it was a rock falling off a service truck, debris on the road “kicked up” by the car in front of you, or the neighborhood kids playing golf a little too close to your daily commuter. Oftentimes, if something hits the perimeter of a windshield, it can lead to a massive crack, but if the center glass is hit, that can mean a “starburst crack.”
From Bad to Worse
Crack type is determined by where on the windshield the object hit. “Floater cracks” can happen anywhere that’s farther than about two inches from the perimeter. They can be small but spread over time. “Edge” cracks are generally about a foot long and can form at impact. Aptly named, these cracks occur close to the edge of the windshield within two inches of the edge.
Other times a chip can turn into a crack. For the most part, cracks which are smaller than six inches can be fixed so there’s no need for windshield replacement. What most people don’t realize is that there are several types of cracks, and each one might require a different approach to fix. For example, there’s the “Bull’s Eye” which happens when a circular object makes the impact, and basically looks like a bigger chip.
Types of Cracks
A Combination Break is the name for several cracks and chips. A Ding is what many people say when they mean a chip. There’s also the Half Moon, which is kind of like a Bull’s Eye but not perfectly circular. It’s officially a Long Crack when it’s longer than six inches and almost always requires a replacement. The Stone Break usually begins as a chip but is solely caused by a stone or rock.
Finally, there’s the Stress Crack. This can happen without the windshield being impacted by anything, and temperature extremes or swings are often to blame. If a car gets overheated simply idling in the sun, if the A/C is blasted too high and too long, or if you make the mistake of removing frost by pouring boiling water on it, Stress Cracks can happen. These cracks are mostly straight and can be tested with a pen—simply run a ballpoint pen across the crack and if it doesn’t dip, it’s a stress crack (with a stress crack, glass isn’t actually missing).
Seek a professional auto-glass repair tech to fix windows and if they advise you to have the window replaced, do it. Sometimes a crack can form between pre-existing chips and cause a window to fail quicker than you’d think.