Category Archives: Handful of advice

Good advice, some tips and observations.

Handful of advice

Driving safe in summer

Having read the title of this article you probably want to raise your hand and ask: „Hey! What’s that about? What unsafe can there be in driving in summer – the season when the road condition and the visibility are very good?” Well, this question is already also the answer. The point is that most of people take it for granted that driving in summer is safe. Probably very few people are aware of the fact that there are more car accidents in summer as compared to winter.

How is it at all possible? This is due to a number of factors which will be described in details in the remaining part of this text. Note that even if you are living in a place where there is little to no winter (like Texas) or little to no summer (like Anchorage) you might still find the topics mentioned in this article useful.

How to make safer summer holiday trip

Summer road trip
Summer road trip

So, where does the problem lie? One of the major issues related to summer on road (not only in the context o safety) is increased traffic. This is closely related to holiday season. Many Americans go on holidays by car, don’t we?

The other thing is that going on holidays or even on a short weekend trip usually means long driving of at least a couple of hours. This is very different from our usual usage of the car to simply go shopping or to get to the office. Since most of us aren’t used to this kind of driving, we often do commit errors which can result in quite bad consequences. Those errors are often related to fatigue. This is generally recommended to take frequent breaks. What does it mean? Experts say that a short break every second hour is a minimum. This is also a good idea to have another driver with us in the car and share driving duties.

As always, it is also highly recommended to inform someone from our friends or relatives about our plans when we plan driving long way. This can really help in emergency situations.

On top of that, when winter comes we hear everywhere around us: “The winter has come. It is dangerous. Be careful. Slow down. Etc.” So we are careful. We do slow down. And we do follow all those other guidelines aimed at increasing safety on the road in winter. And the winter finally goes, summer comes (I’ve skipped spring to make it simpler, especially that it usually takes just a couple of weeks at maximum in the place where I live) and then… We sigh from relief. We say: “At last”. And we feel like master and commander of the road. Should we? I don’t think so. At least as long as the safety is concerned. Therefore please resist any temptation of breaking the speed record you might have. The old proverb says that the slower you go to further you will be. Wise and true.

Prepare car for driving safe in summer

We should also remember about preparing our car to summer when the winter is over. This includes checking the technical state of the car, especially when it comes to the light, brakes, and the wipers. We should also exchange the wheels and the windshield washer fluid. What is worth underlining here is that although many people believe that the winter windshield fluid can be equally well used during summer, this is not fully so, because the winter fluid contains alcohol which quickly evaporates in higher temperatures which in turn deteriorates the quality of the fluid. Finally, the level of the coolant should also be examined.

The road ahead sun
The road ahead sun

The next thing worth keeping in mind is that summer means the need for special tire care. This is because of the additional stress related to higher speeds and higher temperatures as well as longer trips. Although most of us remember about ensuring that tires are properly inflated, there are also other guidelines to follow that are often skipped or ignored. This includes but is not limited to checking the tires for visible signs of wear or damage, checking the tread on tire and not overloading the vehicle. Please remember that tire failure can result in a very serious injury. Ensure also that you don’t confuse the recommended inflation pressure which you can find for instance in the manual with the maximum inflation pressure.

Accident risk increase by insufficient attention

The last thing to underline here is that many accidents are caused by insufficient attention. This is therefore critical to avoid distractions. In order to increase your chances of reaching the destination safety and without issues don’t use your cell phone while driving, don’t eat nor drink while driving, don’t clean the windows while driving, don’t play with your radio too much while driving and most importantly: do focus on driving while driving.

Moreover, summer is a good season for fresh-drivers, seldom-drivers, and even those without permission to drive. They all risk increase. Not only for themselves but also for the other users of the road. Summer also means motorcycles and bikes on the road and as much as I like them, they rather don’t contribute to the overall safety.

Having said all the above, driving in summer can be a real pleasure. All we need to do is to ensure that this pleasure is safe.

Handful of advice

Why you should change winter tires to summer tires

Drivers who are living in the colder States of USA should change car tires twice each year – before winter and summer. Winter tires are designed for tough road conditions like snow or ice. Summer tires are prepared for heat and high temperatures.

Winter tire symbol
Winter tire symbol

Winter tires

Winter tires are made with specific materials, which help car to drive safely on ice and snowy roads. Did you know that in winter breaking distance of a car moving with speed 30 mph on summer tires is 44 meters. On winter tires this distance falls down to 36 meters. This 8-metre difference between both types of tires it’s quite a lot. In some situations this difference can save your life.

Winter tires are usually marked with a snow symbol. They’re made with special low temperature resilient rubber and have deep treads that help to drive on ice and snow. Deep treads allow you to start easily up on a hill and maneuver in a deep snow. It’s impossible to do these actions quick and safe with summer tires.

What about places where winter is cold, rainy but there is no snow? Do drivers living there have to change their tires each winter and summer? Of course! The basic rule of winter tires is that you should use them if for longer period of time temperature is below 7°C and there is a lot of rain. Structure of winter tires will help you to drive safe and comfortable.

Remember that also 4X4 cars need to use winter tires. They have much better traction but still the winter performances of a 4X4 are different on winter and summer tires. You may also ask yourself – if winter tires are so good, why shouldn’t I use them whole year, even in summer? Well the answer is simple – no, you can’t. The structure of winter tires is not prepared for hot summer conditions.

Summer tires

In April or May, when the average daily temperatures are over 7°C you should think about changing winter tires to summer tires. They’re made with different rubber compounds and are optimized for a higher temperature range. As I said winter tires can’t be used in temperature higher than 7°C. Due to materials used in winter tires design, they tend to overheat and fail. You must know that winter tires are not typical speed-rated tires like summer ones. It means that they can’t handle the heat of higher speeds. Of course it doesn’t mean that they’ll blow up or something but they’ll be damaged. Heat is a worst enemy of a tire.

Of course you can risk and drive on winter tires 12 months on a year but you must know that you’ll have to change your tires completely sooner. So it’s always better to spend some money and change winter tires. You will feel the difference after few minutes of ride. They’re made with harder rubber, so they work better in higher temperatures. Their construction allows on a better water drain. Due to that a car has a much better traction, especially on bends. With summer tires you’ll feel safer and comfortable driving in summer months.

Choose the right size

When you need to buy new summer tires you must bear in mind few things. The most important is right size of tires. You’ll find information about correct size for your car in owners manual. Or you can just tell salesman what kind of car you’re driving. They should help you to choose right.

Choose tire tread

There’re few types of tire treads. You can choose between many tire producers from around the world. The most common tire treads are:

Symmetric tread pattern – the most common pattern. It features continuous ribs or independent tread blocks across the entire tread. Both inboard and outboard halves feature the same pattern. Due to that you can put them on the shaft in any position. That’s the biggest advantage of this pattern.

Asymmetric Tread Patterns – these tires on both sides of a car have different pattern. You can’t change them from one side to another (symmetric pattern allows to do that). Construction of this tire is high advanced. Outboard is built with harder rubber and it works much better on bends and in sudden stops. Unfortunately bigger tread cause bigger fuel consumption.

Directional Tread Patterns – this popular type of tread has a characteristic pattern with V letter in the middle. They have deep ditches so they can remove water very quickly. Due to that these types of tires is the best for difficult road conditions, on rainy days and on off-road races. Directional Tread Patterns tires are recommended for sports and premium cars.

As you can see, there are many types of tires. You can choose the one you need. Just think about in what conditions your car drive the most often and then just buy it.

Used tires

You can find many shops with used tires in good prices. But remember that only buying new tires you’ll get warranty certificate and of course the best quality. The choice is yours. We suggest to always buy a new one when the old tires are damaged.

Handful of advice

Driving at night

Driving at night
Driving at night

Whenever covering a long distance of several hundred or even thousands miles, there is often one important decision that needs to be made: Whether or not to drive at night. If we decide for driving, we need to ensure that we fully understand what it means and that we are prepared. (This includes our car). At the end of the day driving at night is very different from driving during the day.

Issue #1: Tiredness
Regardless of how well you prepare your body and your mind for night driving do not expect to be fully rested and/or feel as good as during the day. This will not happen. We are ‘day animals’ and we won’t change it. Obviously it does not mean that you should not rest well before the night driving. You should. Even more. Actually you must. But don’t expect miracles.
Although I know it is pretty devastating for the organism you many consider using energetic drinks, coffee and fresh supplies of sugar in the form of chocolate, sweets and the like. It may help. It does in my case.
Supported by energetic drinks and the likes or not, you should listen very carefully to your own body. Some people think that they are capable of driving without stopping for 5, 10 or even 20+ hours, but this is wrong. They cannot. Experts strongly recommend 15 minutes breaks every second hour. During such a break you should get of the car, stretch yourself a little bit, and have a short walk. For the safety reasons you should stop at some well lit place with parking. Gas station is usually a good option.
What is of paramount importance here is that if you feel that you can hardly drive such a short break will not help much. Instead, you should find a place where you can spend a night, go to sleep and continue the drive from the morning. Safety goes first.

Issue #2: Low visibility
Let’s face it: we are neither owls nor cats. Our seeing at night is not impressive. Therefore, unless you have a super modern car with the electronic systems improving the view at night by means of sophisticated electronics, low visibility will be most likely the most significant challenge for you to overcome during the night drive. This challenge will consist of two factors.
Firstly, you won’t see much because it is dark. Just like that. It means that you will have very limited time for reaction in case of some unexpected events. So remember to adjust your speed or to put it more simply and direct: slow down.
Secondly, seeing at dark will cost you a lot of energy which will further increase your tiredness already mentioned above.

Issue #3: Monotony
Driving at night is quite simply very boring most of the time. Nothing happens. Nothing draws your attention. There is little to no traffic. There are few (if any) cars on the road. There is little to nothing to focus on. There is probably nothing interesting on radio either. There is no one to talk to (Note that even if you are not alone in the care, the others will usually sleep. Even if they are full of promises that they will be with you and talking the whole night, the practice shows very clearly that it usually won’t happen). This resembles the situation of the goalkeeper in the soccer game, whose team is attacking most of the time and therefore he has nothing to do most of the time. And then 90th minute come and the other team counterattacks, someone shots and…..And everything depends on how well our goalkeeper was prepared that something actually might happen. The same rules apply to you as a night driver. And better be prepared since the stake here is higher than just conceding a goal or not.

Issue #4: Using full beam headlights
Although full beam headlights can be very useful, their effective usage is not that trivial as it might seem. The tricky point is about other cars. You need to mind them and they need to mind you as well. If you are on unlit road and no cars around then feel free to use them. However, when some car is approaching the other way, you need to be prepared to switch them off. What is usually less obvious, you should also be switching them off when you are approaching from behind some car going the same way as you do. This is because the light beam will reflect in the rear mirror and also can dazzle the other driver.
There is one useful hint worth mentioning here. In order not to be blinded by the full beam headlights from someone from behind one should adjust the rear mirrors accordingly.

Issue #5 Drunk drivers
At night there is a higher risk of encountering a drunk driver. This is true especially during weekends when people are coming back from different parties. Therefore you should remember about the proper distance between the cars and be always prepared for some totally unexpected manner of another driver. Also, if you notice a potentially drunk driver (usually judging by ‘strange’ or dangerous way of driving) you should immediately call the police. It really can save someone’s life.

As you could probably notice none of points outlined above is a rocket science. They can however make a real difference. Therefore take them seriously. Please.

Handful of advice

Car like a gas guzzler

Gas guzzler
Gas guzzler

It is certain that owning a car has plenty of advantages. Definitely we can say that it is a very useful and helpful invention. I would go even further and make a short statement: Nowadays car is a essential thing which every person on this planet should have to live properly. According to Wards, 980 million vehicles were registered in 2009, and last year that number reached 1 billion and 15 million cars. However, most of car users, especially young ones, have the same problem to deal with. That problem is fuel consumption. No matter if you have a diesel or a petrol car, fuel prices will always be on the top of your worries list.

A few things that make your car a Gas Guzzler

Have you ever wonder what can cause a higher fuel consumption in your car? I will give you a few simple answers, so read carefully:

– First of all, a short distance driving.
If you often run an engine be aware that before it reaches the right temperature, it uses a higher dose of fuel. It also might be bad for your engine’s condition. So from now on, when you have to get to the shop which is located comparatively not so far away from you, leave your car in the garage and go there by foot! You’ll save some money and our environment in the same time!

– Second of all, driving with low tire pressure.
Low tire pressure in your car will cause it to use more gas than normal. In this condition it takes more energy for your car to initially move and also to keep going. It has also an influence on our safety on the road because it decreases traction and vehicle stability. So try to check your tire pressure every week, even just to make sure that it is set as it should be.

– Thirdly, using low-profile tires.
Low profile tires are usually made of rubber compounds which cause higher rolling resistance. Generally they are wider than the standard wheel which cause an increase in fuel consumption.

-Fourthly, driving with luggage on the roof or with unnecessary luggage.
Everything that you have inside your car or on the roof makes it heavier. Obviously the heavier the car is the more fuel it needs. So check your car and throw out every unnecessary things to make it lighter. Do not use a roof rack if there is no need to do it.

– Fifthly, driving with the windows open.
It reduces aerodynamics of your car and it increases air resistance when the speed of our vehicle is over 100 km/h. That forces your car to use about 4% more fuel. So remember to drive with closed windows, and open them only if it is really necessary.

– Next thing, driving with the air conditioner on.
The air conditioner in your car can increase the fuel consumption up to 20% in some vehicles. It is because AC draws its power from the engine which uses gas. Driving with the air conditioner on is more fuel efficient than driving with the windows down, though. My advice for you is simple. Before you get into a hot car, roll down the windows and let the hot air out. It will help the car cool down much quicker, and your AC will not have to run for so long. You should also remember to switch off AC when you do not need to use it.

– Lastly, dirty air filter.
A common symptom of a dirty air filter is a decrease in gas mileage. It also can degrade the performance of the engine. Your car can emit more harmful chemicals into the atmosphere as well. So remember to change it when it should be changed!

As you see those simple things can cause a higher fuel consumption in our cars. Now, when fuel prices are higher than ever, we are starting to take precautions and do what we can to make our cars as economic as they can be. I hope that my short advices would give you an opportunity to save some money and would give you some satisfaction out of it. It works for me, so you should notice some difference in your wallet as well.

Handful of advice

Eco driving

Eco Driving
Eco Driving

Recycling, organic food, CSR – those concepts can decode any average person. Increasing number of people are aware of how the economy and the industry impact on our surrounding and nature. Global organizations, companies and associations are trying to implement various environmental programs and keep us from ecological disaster. In the environmental care are increasingly engaged automotive concerns. Puts more people on the ecological means of transport. Due to the growing demand for these types of vehicles, each major in the market brand cars, introduces to its offer cars powered by hydrogen fuels organic, electric motors or with hybrid drive. Unfortunately the price is not appealing to them buy for everyone. What to do if we can not afford ecological car? The best way to reduce your carbon dioxide emissions is to leave the car in the garage. Yes, you can change to another means of transport, ride a bike or go on foot. But it is not always possible take with you your family beloved dog and baggage consisting of several suitcases. Nowadays driving a car is often more a need than a luxury. Therefore, with the increase of eco – consciousness, Eco Driving was invented.

Eco Driving precursors are Finns. They began to promote it more than 10 years ago. At present, they teach the principles of Eco Driving on driving courses. The drivers from Scandinavia are considered to be the drivers with the highest culture of driving and excellent technical training of. Example might be motor sport riders from that region of Europe, who for years have been leaders of the rally routes are and racing.

How to drive eco and saving the environment and own wallet

CO2 emissions reduction
CO2 emissions reduction

This method of driving a car allows you to drive more economically and at the same time reduce CO2 emissions by up to 25%. The energy that is needed to ride the vehicle is often wasted by a number of behaviors and unwanted activities for which almost every driver is affected. However, there are ways to combine saving the environment and your wallet, without requiring many sacrifices. An average driver who wants to get lower fuel consumption does not have to follow all the Eco Driving rules. Often, peaceful ride and the ability to anticipate various situations on the road is sufficient.
Here are some rules that is worth to use to make your car ride more ecological:

• Start the engine without pressing the accelerator pedal.
• Accelerate in a dynamic way and as far as possible, keep the engine speed low and constant speed. Eco Driving does not necessarily mean slow driving style.
• Switch off the engine at each long stop and give up the engine heating before driving, even in winter
• The air conditioner is the biggest Devourer of energy from on-board equipment. So try as rarely as possible and as briefly as possible to use the air conditioning, for example, to evaporate windshield, then you can disable it.
• Avoid unnecessary burden.
• Choose a two wheel drive. A car’s engine works harder to power a vehicle with an all-wheel drive.
• Take care of appropriate tire pressure or use energy efficient. tires
• During driving close the windows, and tiltable roof, that will increase the aerodynamics of the car.
• Take care of the competent technical condition of the car. Not only would this affect to reduce fuel consumption but also will improve your safety.
• Avoid driving short distances – you will save money, protect environment and burn a few calories at the same time 😉
• Anticipate situations on the road and expect to ride in order to avoid unnecessary acceleration and braking. Any such action causes extra fuel consumption.

When you will follow these guidelines, there is nothing else, how to practice peaceful ride and safely drive. Sacrifices is few and we will feel the benefits at the first refueling. So let’s go ECO.

Handful of advice

Driving in winter

Cars remained stranded on New York’s Long Island as heavy snow fall rapidly covered the roads.
Cars in snow on New York’s Long Island

This year, spring appears to have completely forgotten about the place, where I live. Winter is everywhere including the roads. It is therefore of vital importance that we don’t forget about all those rules about safe driving during this time. Let me remind the key ones.

Note that in these days when sudden climate changes are something normal and people move very often you never know when you will find yourself in the situation when the below would be applicable. Therefore even if you are a happy citizen of hot Texas and the only snow you normally see is on television, I still recommend that you familiarize yourself with the guidelines outlined below.

Be prepared “winter is coming”

Hundreds of cars are seen stranded on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago after a winter blizzard.
Cars after a winter blizzard in Chicago
© Kiichiro Sato

First of all you should be prepared. The very worst that can happen is to be suddenly surprised by ‘sudden and unexpected’ winter attack. It is very seldom the case that it is really completely unexpected. Do spend some time monitoring the announcements (radio, television, Internet) from the National Weather Service. It can save you a lot of problems.

Prepare car for driving in winter

Secondly, the car should be prepared. Actually, it MUST be prepared. What does it mean in practice? A number of things: having all the key systems (like the radiator system) serviced or checked, clean windows, wintertime windshield-wiper fluid, proper air pressure in the tires, gas tank near full (this is to help avoid ice in the tank and/or fuel lines). We are all usually very busy, but skipping the above is not a good time saver at all. Just imagine how much time you may lose if you run into some issues due to lack of proper preparation.

Be ready with your Winter Survival Kit

Next, there is a long list of things that you just have to take with you. Note that some of that are not that obvious at first moment. The list is often called the Winter Survival Kit and comprises the following items:

• a mobile phone (It really can save your life.)
• first aid kit (which should contain bandages (non-adhesive ones, elastic and butterfly strips), gauze, medical tape, instant ice pack, tweezers, swabs, antibiotic ointment, and some pills for pain relief (e.g. with ibuprofen)). A first aid instruction book can also be very useful.
• a toolkit
• road maps
• a tow rope
• a flashlight (Don’t forget about spare batteries.)
• a windshield scraper
• booster cables
• a shovel (a collapsible one will do)
• some water and food
• blankets
• brightly colored cloth
• a compass
• something to put on ice or snow to improve traction when needed (e.g. sand)
• a pump or canned compressed air (to be able to fix a tire in emergency situation; obviously we should always be equipped with a spare tire as well)

Watch out more when you drive in winter or simply stay home

The next thing to remember about is that before going anywhere it is wise to notify someone from your family or friends about your plans. Should you then find yourself in troubles without the possibility of calling for help, they will be in position to raise the alarm.

Pay special attention to bridges and overpasses. During winter the surface of the road is usually colder there which results in worse traction. Finally, when possible avoid driving in heavy conditions. Really do. Ice or snow-covered roads and low-visibility are not your allies.

If you really had to drive somewhere in winter and now you have a trouble

Unfortunately, even if you follow all the precautionary guidelines, there is still some risk of running into issues. So what to do when we are surrounded by snow, the car is down, and you cannot expect any instant help? Let’s start with what not to do? Don’t panic. Remember that many people had found themselves in similar situation before. And they did survive. Why wouldn’t you?

When the weather is really bad don’t leave your car. It is probably the safest place. Remember that the most critical thing now is about the temperature. You should focus your actions and activities on conserving the warmth before the weather improves or help arrives. How to achieve it? One of the first and fundamental things is wrapping the entire body. You can use clothing as well as blankets or even newspapers. The next hint is about moving arms and legs. This is to improve circulation. The better circulation, the warmer you will be.

If you’re not alone take advantage of other people body’s warmth. Note that it has been successfully practiced across the whole history of the mankind. When it comes to using the motor and the heater, this is fine, but you need to be very careful about it. There is a risk of being poisoned by the carbon monoxide involved. Do not forget that this gas is a silent killer. You will neither see nor smell it. It is advisable to run it for about 10 minutes per hour. This should be followed by letting some fresh air in. Additionally you need to ensure that the exhaust pipe is not blocked with snow.

Car in snow storm on road
Car in snow storm on road

Contrary to what many people believe, eating the snow is not a good idea. It may help relieving your thirst a little bit yet it will also lower your body temperature.

Don’t forget about improving the chance of being noticed. As an example you can tie some colored (preferably red) material to your radio antenna.

And last but not least stay awake.

Having said all the above, I need to confess that although I personally prefer summer to winter, the latter can also be very nice. It just has to be treated with respect.

Handful of advice

The rules about using snow tyres

The car tyre issue is an essential part of owning the vehicle. It is the equipment that allows you to use your car. You cannot imagine a car moving without proper tyres. The market of this products is growing very quickly and therefore some new regulations have resulted in an even greater interest in the assortment.

Different offers of car tyres on market

Winter tires in snow
Winter tires in snow
© acameronhuff

In the market you will find a lot of different offers of car tyres. The most popular you can use under any weather conditions. So far, there are no regulations and rules about using a special kind of it in your vehicle. Only the owner decides which product is the best for them. In addition to the universal tyres, in stores and outlets you will find summer and winter tyres, which are a specialized equipment for your vehicle. Buy it should not be a problem for any driver, if not for the fact that such products have high prices. One who had not purchased such tyres earlier must be aware of an increase of the price range of this kind of products. Unfortunately, this expense will not miss you at all.

Use winter tyre in winter

So far, there are no provisions which would require the use of specific types of tyres. However, along with the new year, you need to stock up on winter tire. Because of the growing number of car accidents, the authorities have decided to change the traffic regulations and push drivers to use proper tire during this time of the year.

The use of ‘winter’ seems to cause greater safety on roads. These are products that are adapted to the winter road conditions. A completely different design makes them much more stable and they are not influenced by the slippery ground so quickly. Winter tires perform well on snow-covered roads and icy surfaces. It is necessary, of course, to be cautious on roads and you are supposed to decrease speed. However, using it minimizes the possibility of being thrown off the road or hitting adjacent vehicles.

People do not like additional expenses, so it seems to be typical that many drivers complain about the new rules. It is difficult to admit that this is the only way we can feel safer on roads and use our cars during the whole year. Winter tyres are the best option that our government could have chosen. During the next winter, we will be able to see the results of this step. I am sure that many drivers will change their minds completely. We will be coming back home fresh and relaxed and we will not have to think how to push our cars out of another snowdrift. We will get used to the new rules and we will accept them as a normal behaviour.