Car and Driving Solutions Blog

Written from the perspective of a mom who traveled weekly with her daughter on long drives - things to watch for, prevent, fix, and how to survive in questionable and perhaps somewhat dangerous situations.
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Car Research and Pricing at Edmunds

Four Way Stops 06-27-09

Car Inspections 05-25-09

Gear Shifting Hard? 02-06-09

Bad Gas 05-30-08

Accessories Losing Power 03-29-08

Be Ready When Servicing Your Car 11-25-07

Don't Drive While Sleepy or After Drinking 10-22-07

Count to "4" 10-12-07

Pay Attention to the Lights and Other Traffic! 09-18-07

Vapor Lock 08-29-07

Vapor in the Gas Tank/Don't Top Off Tank 08-20-07

Leaving Your Car Home While on Long Vacations 08-10-07

Spring Car Care 06-04-07

Windshield Wiper Care 05-22-07

Check Your Fluids and Filters 05-08-07

Sluggish Brakes Brakes 04-09-07

Using Your Brakes 04-03-07

Give an Emergency Car Care Kit Gift 03-23-07

Wash Car Even in Winter 02-20-07

Driving Over Potholes 02-08-07

Load Up on Windshield Wiper Fluid in Winter 02-01-07

Keep a Touch-Up Bottle of Car Paint 01-25-07

Keep Insurance & Registration up to Date 01-12-07

Can You Really Beat Them? 01-08-07

Tinted Window Care 01-02-07

Condition the Interior 12-14-06

Winter Driving Tips 12-05-06

Keep a Maintenance Schedule 11-27-06

Car Giving Off Emissions? 11-16-06

Car Not Driving Straight? 11-10-06

Rotate Your Tire Regularly 11-04-06

Check Your Lights 10-31-06

Different or Odd Noises? 10-14-06

Careful With Iced Windshields 10-5-06

Wipe Your Windshields 9-26-06

Keep Your License Plates 9-21-06

Dirty Gas 9-19-06

Does Radiator Fluid Boil? Car Overheat? 9-12-06

Buy After-Market Parts 9-11-06

Slow Down With Your Gears 9-5-06

Pay Attention to Indicator Lights 8-29-06

Don't Go Too Low on Gas 8-23-06

Gas Saving Tips 8-19-06, 9-12-06

Beware of Car Heat 8-15-06

Warn Those Behind You 8-9-06

Car Accident? 8-6-06

Keep the Car Locked Up 8-4-06

Keep an Eye on Your Dash Lights 8-1-06

Keep Valuables Out of Sight 7-29-06

Emergency Essentials 7-17-06

Check Your Oil & Fluids 7-11-06

Change Your Wiper Blades 7-6-06

Change Your Oil 5-30-06

Tire Care 5-19-06, 9-12-06

Condition the Dashboard 5-16-06

Buying a Car? Best Times to Buy 5-9-06

Find the Lowest Gas Price 5-4-06, 9-12-06

Fuel Economy 4-28-06, 9-12-06

Stay Calm 4-22-06

School Zone Fines 4-12-06

Air Conditioner Not Working? 3-31-06

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Four Way Stops 06-27-09
I'm not sure why the concept of a 4way stop is so difficult for people to grasp. This is the same for any situation in which there are stops in 3 or 4 directions - whether blinking red lights, stop signs, no signs, etc. The first car to stop at the intersection will be able to go first, unless cars get there at practically the same time (when each person may believe he is the first one). At this point, cars must yield to the car on the right, then the flow of the traffic rotates clockwise. That means for you car - if there is a car to your right, let it go before you. If no car to your right, and no one challenges you (never assume you have the right of way if someone else takes it - just let the wrong driver go), then you go, and then the car to your left goes, and on around the intersection. Always let the car to your right go before you, then you go. Only one car at a time in each lane may go at the turn - not multiple cars from any one lane. If no one is turning, most drivers will go at same time from different directions, which may not be totally correct, but it doesn't really hurt the flow. No matter how many times this is stressed, people still don't "get" it. the main thing is not to challenge another car or driver - don't cause an accident just to prove a point.

Car Inspections 05-25-09
I remember when my parents used to have to take their cars in annually or so to get a required car inspection. This would check out various components of the car - including checking the speedometer for accuracy, running smoothly, etc. At this point no such inspection is required anymore, but emissions testing is. The responsibility is on the car owner to get inspections done via the suggestions given by the car dealer instructions. Many, if not most, people do not follow the schedules, and thus cars may not be working as well or as safely as they ought. Make sure to follow the schedules and if you notice anythign different, have it checked out. Even in these tough economic times, if you take care of your car and do preventive maintenance, it will help assure you that you won't have a car breakdown, which will require either much more money to repair, or money to buy a new car. Take care of the one you have so it will last longer.

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Gear Shifting Hard? 02-06-09
If you have a hard time shifting into a gear without grinding the gear, or if you are stopped and have the clutch in while in gear, but the car shakes and rattles, you may want to call the mechanic, but first check this out. My husband gave me a gift of new floor mats from a nice place - but guess what? They are extra plush and won't let the clutch go all the way down to fully engage. So I cannot let the mat climb up under the clutch pedal so it can go all the way to the floor when I step on it. No more problems, unless my husband drives my car because he won't keep the mat down and out of the way.

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Bad Gas 05-30-08
When you notice something doesn't seem right with your car when driving, and can't figure out an obvious problem or solution - you might want to suspect the gas. Sometimes water is added into the gas tank (whether on purpose or by faulty equipment seals) - it can cause havoc with your car performance and may even cost you a lot in repairs. Go to a mechanic and check out your car - have him check out the gas in it as well. If it's sub-standard gas - do not fill up at that station you were last at and do report the station to authorities. Water-filled gas tanks cause a lot of damage to the car system. Your car may just quit on you. You may have damage to the engine - find out what is wrong right away.

Accessories Losing Power 03-29-08
When driving, if you start to notice things like: windows opening or closing sluggishly, the radio cutting in and out, your headlights or dashlights or clock lights start to dim or flicker - you should get to your destination as soon as you can. It is likely that your alternator may be going out or has gone out, or your battery is going bad. Your driving the car isn't charging the battery anymore - just all the car accessories and parts are sucking the battery power down.

Once you get to your home, or a service station, have the battery checked - see if the terminals are connected well, and they are not dirty. If the contacts don't make a good connection, then there is no circuit from battery to car. If the battery is low, try charging it back up. If it charges, you can use the car for as long as it takes the battery to run down again. This means you cna only do essential drives, and very short, and the place you go needs to be able to charge the battery. If your car dies en route, you won't be able to start it up. If the battery has no charge, you can't start the car up.

Be Ready When Servicing Your Car 11-25-07
When you call your automobile service station - make sure to have all your notes - listen to noises and describe them, pay attention and describe times of loss of power or hard running, or high exhaust or other smoke, drips, leaks, fluid levels, smells, warning lights or odd readings on gauges, fan running hard, etc. Keep track of gas mileage usage - if the mpg changes, especially if it drops lower. Is there any change in acceleration? Do you see any worn or loose areas - hoses, belts, tires? Are there times or speeds at which the car starts vibrating? Are your brakes noisy or sluggish? Anything unusual about your steering? Any other handling problems or changes?

When did you notice the problem - when did it start acting up? Does it happen all the time or at certain times or temperatures or speeds or gears? Was your car running with the engine heated up or was it cold when the problem began, or does the problem happen all the time? Was it while accelerating or when shifting or braking or accelerating?

You might want to write up a list to give to the service people when you take it in - but keep a copy for yourself - the problem may come back but perhaps with different circumstances than before.

Find out how long it will take to look over your car - and bring work or a book or something to do if you need to wait. If it will be several hours, see if they can give you a ride to another place - your home or work, or a coffee shop, perhaps - or arrange a ride with a friend. Sometimes you can even get the service department to pay for a rental car for a couple days - they want to keep you as a customer and may have overlooked a problem at a prior visit - so perhaps their guilt kicks in. I've had my service station pay for a rental car for me at least twice - when they couldn't get right on the problem and knew it was inconvenient for me to be without a car. Make sure you can be reached by phone wherever you are so they can tell you when you can come get your car, or explain to you what is wrong and what the recommended course of action is, plus the cost.

Ask questions, and ask about the symptoms - whether these are consistent with the diagnosis - what will change once a repair or adjustment is made? Make sure to ask about the cost - if it is capped at the estimate or if it might get added onto. Are there guarantees after the work is done - either on parts or on labor? Find out how long it will before you run into critical problems in driving with the condition - how long can you safely keep driving the car as is until you have to bring it in for service? Weigh the priority - maybe you just cannot wait - you might end up stuck on a lone raod at night with a dead car - don't risk it.

Most of the time the service station will try to work with you if you are good at communication the problem and are not pushy about it. Don't tell them what to fix - give them the symptoms and let them figure out the repair - they can rely on the car computer giving codes that may tell exactly what is wrong, and see if a fix will be consistent with fixing the symptoms you have described. Perhaps you have yet another problem that needs to be investigated. Let them figure it out, and if the problem does not repeat itself for them, you may have to drive it around and be ready to call them when it happens, then take it straight to the service station as it is acting up.

Understand that they do the best they can, and rely on your complete and correct information to diagnose a problem. Work with them as they work with you. If there is lack of communication on their part or higher charges than they had promised, you might consider changing to a different service station for your car. Be comfrotable with whom you are working with. And don't put off getting your car looked at when you notice a problem. If you have a good history with your service station, they are more likely to look at your car without charge, to see if it needs repair or adjustment.

Don't Drive While Sleepy or After Drinking 10-22-07
If you feel tired, or impaired in any way - don't drive! People doze off, have delayed reactions, lose sense of traffic around them - and can easily cause an accident. Recently the news showed a woman driving on the highway for many miles, virtually dozing in and out of sleep, while traveling about 70 mph and weaving around in traffic. She could have run into another car at that speed, bumping into the car next to it, or she could have hit the median and other cars would have slammed into her and piled up, or she could have jumped the mdian and slammed head first into oncoming traffic - any of which could have been fatal, not only for her, but for other people!

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Count to "4" 10-12-07
When driving, especially in higher speed traffic (perhaps 45 mph and above), leave a 4 second gap between you and the car in front of you. I remember this rule when me parents were driving us around. The car in front of you - when you see the back of it pass by a sign, a light, a mile marker, or some sort of landmark, count to 4 (4 seconds - not a fast count - 1 mississippi, 2 mississippi, etc.) and that is when you should reach that landmark. This is the amount of space you would need to react in case of emergency - an accident, or fast stop in front of you, etc. Yes - most people drive much closer than that, and when you leave such a gap, others will merge in between, but if you can get the hurry off your mind, you can handle the annoyances and be much safer with driving. At lower speeds you can safely count to "2" and be ok with the law. I know people rudely use that space to squeeze in front of you, but try to drive without caring about others - be safe and couteous, patient about getting where you're going. The more angry and stressed you get, the more likely you will drive badly. Let things go.

Pay Attention to the Lights and Other Traffic! 09-18-07
Too many people try to outrun the traffic lights - to get to their destination earlier. Really, it won't save you more than a couple minutes overall - even with speeding and running lights. Thing is, one day it will catch up to you - in a ticket from the police, or in an accident, or in a case of road rage against you. With those three options, you will not get to your destination in time, if at all, or ever if you get injured or worse. Try to stay calm and respect the rules of the road - they were made for safety's sake, not just to irritate you.

This week we witnessed an accident where a car ran through a light while one was turning - they smashed into each other and one went screaming across the road and smashed backwards into a traffic light pole. It could have been very serious, but only minor injures, thankfully. But the car which was thrown into the pole couldn't close its trunk anymore, and one of the back tires was totally 90 degrees from what it should be - its wheel axle was completely ruined - it will cost plenty to repair. The other car smashed its entire front driver's side bumper and light area, plus its airbag had inflated. The car was stranded in the middle of traffic, going nowhere, for some time. If they had both watched the lights, and looked out into the oncoming traffic, they could have averted the accident. As it was, neither got to his destination, and both have extensive car damage (one will not drive until the axel is replaced).

Another incident was when I was at an intersection, trying to turn right. At first there was a "no turn" light on, so I waited until it was out, then watched the heavy traffic for a safe place to merge in. As I was looking, with no luck, a big bus pulled into my left viewing area, so I crept up a little, enough to see the traffic coming, and it was way too heavy to merge into. Meanwhile the truck behind me started honking at me to go, and after a couple blasts, he laid into his horn. Well, not only did he not succeed in moving me out of his way (I'd be crunched up if I did merge into traffic), but he got his stress level WAY up, and had me and everyone on the bus thinking of what a jerk he was. Doubt it was worth that. If he couldn't see the traffic (the bus took up his viewpoint as well), he should not try to get a car to go into dangerous traffic (moving at 40-45 mph).

Vapor Lock 08-29-07
This should be no problem in modern cars, but happens when the gas overheats and boils in the fuel pump or carburetor - and then the gas won't flow. The your car stalls out, or won't start, or starts hard. This typically happens in hot weather, and you may be sitting in traffic, starting and stopping a lot. You'll just need to let the car sit, off, and cool down - pull off the road.

Vapor lock happens when the vapor pressure of the fuel is higher than its surroundings - the gas starts to boil and then becomes vaporized. Then the fuel pump tries to suck the vaporized gas - but it can't handle it and your engine won't run. This is why it's called "vapor lock." This is not the case in most modern cars - there are now features on cars that will prevent such happening.

Vapor in the Gas Tank/Don't Top Off Tank 08-20-07
Perhaps you have tried to fill your gas tank and the automatic shut off kicks in right away - your gas tank may be full of gas vapors, and the sensor on the pump feels the pressure and assumes the tank is full. You'll need to try to open the tank flap to let those vapors out, if you can. I hold the pump handle and let the nozzle push the flap open for a few minutes, then try to fill the tank. This doesn't happen often - only once or twice to me in 16 years, but not a reason to panic. Just be sure not to breathe in any of the vapors - these are harmful.

Also - do not "top off" your tank after the nozzle clicks off - this tells you the tank is full. You should leave the little bit of extra room in the tank to allow expansion of the gasoline - if you take away that room, the gas might evaporate into the vapor collection system of your car. This can foul up the system and then it won't work correctly, which may contribute to emissions from your car. In addition, the extra gas you add may be drawn back into the station's tank if your tank is full - and you won't know the difference - but the pump may not work correctly for the next customer. The gas station pumps may have vapor recovery systems that draw back gas vapors into the tanks to prevent them from escaping into the air (which contributes to pollution).

Leaving Your Car Home While on Long Vacations 08-10-07
When you take a long trip, as we did for the last 3 weeks, you might want to think about your car a bit before leaving. Short trips are no big deal, but if gone for a couple or more weeks, you might want to arrange for someone to come start your car to just let it run for a few minutes, or even take it out for a short drive. The gas settles in the tank and the gunky stuff drops to the bottom - you can also put gas tank cleaner into the tank to help with that. Your battery may run down, especially in winter - you need someone to drive your car to recharge the battery before it dies. When you get back it might not run as nicely if it just sat. When you leave, make sure to leave windows cracked open a bit - it can get very musty in the car if left airtight - if there is any old spilled food or drink in the car, it can smell quite rotten when you get back, and you may have inside condensation, which may even allow some moldy growth. If you must park the car outside for a time, you probably don't want to leave the windows down at all. In that case, have someone come and open up and air out your car at least every week, or every few days. Don't leave your garage opener os house key in the car, either - anyone breaking into it can have easy access to your home, and with being on vacation, might not be noticed. If your car does seem run a bit rough when you get back, just drive it on a highway and get it up to a higher speed to work out its kinks. Fill the gas up so it's not just running on old fuel. And air it out!

Spring Car Care 06-04-07
Winter driving - lots of crud on the roads that splashed up onto the car. Some areas use salt or other corrosive agents to melt ice and snow. Even just road dirt and mud layered up should be washed off. You should use a high pressure washer to clean off the surfaces underneath your car.

There are things you should check after a winter's worth of driving. Change your wiper blades (replace them) and have plenty of wiper fluid on hand to refill from - backsplash from cars in front of you on wet roads will throw mud up on your windshield and you can use the fluid up pretty fast. Keep reading for more.

See if your owner's manual has recommended service milestones coming up. You should adhere to what the service schedule is. Listen to your car and notice the noises and how rough it runs. Have these corrected before the temperatures go up - or you might get more problems in performance.

Flush out and refill fluids as needed, plus the air filter. Check to see if your radiator coolant is needing replacement or filling of level. Check that the fluid is at the right concentration. Change the oil every 3000-5000 miles. Check or replace the other filters in the car.

If you air conditioner doesn't work correctly, have it checked. It could indicate a radiator problem or a water pump problem - you might be able to find and correct a problem before it becomes a huge bill or repair.

Check your tires for wear and alignment, plus proper pressure. You might want to take it in for realignment from all those potholes you hit over the winter. Check the tire pressure while tires are cold, not after running the car. Check your spare tire, as well.

Check your dash hazard lights, and all your lights. Turning signals, brake lights, emergency lights, headlights, etc. Replace or fix the areas that are not working (or the hazard lights that won't go off - you might have a car problem).

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Windshield Wiper Care 05-22-07
Springtime - season with lots of rain. Are your wipers working well? One of mine does but the other, on the driver side, is somewhat smearing the water across and not pushing it off. So - it's time to replace the set, not just one - give both the same lifetime opportunity. The other one will wear out shortly, no doubt.

Wipers build up, over time, a layer of grime, and this prevents the wiper from contacting the glass surface of your windshield. This causes the wiper to smear rather than clear, and makes it tough to see through. The wipers could also be coming loose (check that they set in correctly and tightly), or even be wearing down.

To maintain your wiper blades, wipe them down with a damp cloth, either water or better yet, moistened with rubbing alcohol. This would help wipe off the grimy build-up. Pick up the blade and wipe the edge with the cloth. Do this often, and before you get caught in a rain storm.

Replace your wipers every 4-6 months for best results. For the winter months, if you live in snowy areas, replace with winter blades - heavier duty, with a cushion to keep snow and ice off the mechanism. For normal months, you can use regular wiper blades.

Check Your Fluids and Filters 05-08-07
Regularly check your fluids and filters - replace or top off those as needed. You should check how dirty your air filter is occasionally - check it every time you get the oil changed. When you get your oil changed, about every 3000 miles, check the other fluids - brake, transmission, windshield wiper - everything. If something is running low regularly, there might be a leak. Look under your car where you park - pull it away and then step out of the car and look under where it was parked - you might never see a leak if you always park on top of it.

Sluggish Brakes Brakes 04-09-07
If your brakes seem sluggish - you put your foot on the brake and your car stops, but then the brakes push farther down without tension, or don't seem to be stopping very fast at all - rolling to a stop - you'd better check your brake fluid. It may be low (hopefully) or your brakes may have a problem. Don't drive the car until you get the brake fluid topped off or have a mechanic check your brakes - it's dangerous, plus you do not want to cause any damage to your brakes or the fix will be quite expensive. If filling the brake fluid, make sure all surfaces are very clean - clean the cap and the reservoir on the outside so nothing has a chance of falling in when the cap is removed, not even dust. Use a new, un-opened container of brake fluid and open it when ready to pour - make sure no dust is in the area first. Pour it in until it is at the right level. Close everything up. Get in your car and push the brakes - see if it feels better after pushing them a few times - does the resistance build up? Now go look at the fluid level - do you need to fill it again? If so, do it carefully again. If not, close everything up. Make it a habit to look at your brake fluid level every 2000 miles - and if your car tends to use a lot of brake fluid, check for a leak. If you have checked the brake fluid and the brakes are still acting up, take it to a mechanic right away.

Using Your Brakes 04-03-07
When driving a different car, always get used to the brakes before actually needing them. On your own car - make sure the brakes act right - not sluggish or noisy. If anything seems wrong, check them out. Give your brakes a break - let your gears slow down your car. If you shift down and let the car slow down more easily, you can save life on your brakes. Do this only when it's practical and safe.

Anti-Lock Brakes - put your heel on the floor and your toe on the pedal and keep it down - don't pump the brakes or let up on the pedal. When you push the pedal and feel the wheels lock, you might be tempted to let up on the brake, but keep it firm for as long as you need - the system will do the "pumping" action automatically for you. Trust your car brakes in a slip - they do a better job than you can in stopping.

Non Anti-Lock Brakes - when braking in wet or slick conditions, shift into neutral in an automatic car, or push the clutch down to release the gears when stopping. This allows a controlled stop. Again, keep your heel on the floor of the car and your toe on the brake pedal. Use your toes to keep a steady pressure on the pedal, but slowing the car down, not locking up the wheels - get to that point a bit more gradually - not stopping "on a dime." Stop on a slippery surface by pumping on the brakes - just hit them and let up several times until you slow down under control. If you brake hard, you'll go into a slide.

When driving in wet or snowy, icy conditions, keep more room between you and the other cars - everyone needs more reaction room. If you can't see the road well, concentrate on the road marking on the right side of the road, or the left - depending on which you can see better. Don't try to drive by looking far ahead - it's easier to drive more slowly and accurately by looking down in front of your car.

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Give an Emergency Car Care Kit Gift 03-23-07
For Christmas I had given my sister an emergency car care kit. She seemed ok with it but didn't react too much - more of a laugh over it. This past weekend she said it was one of the best gifts she could have gotten - her car died and she could use a couple things in it - but especially the jumper cables. She learned to use them and now knows why every car should have them. She was very happy about getting her car started, where she had no good options since the car that jumped her didn't have any jumper cables itself. I can bet that she'll be giving such kits to her friends come next Christmas - but I won't need one as I have everything I need myself (barring a rare occurence break-down that no one prepares for). Think about such a gift for your family members and friends.

Wash Car Even in Winter 02-20-07
Clean winter crud & chemicals from your car - in the winter there is much more that can corrode your car finish and get extreme dust into the air filter when it dries and cakes off. Snow melting chemicals or salt or sand and dirt - it all makes a mess of your car. You should wash your car on a nice day - including the underside of the car. Spray it all down and wash the outside paint and bumper surfaces with soap. It's so easy to let it go, but for the health of your car, give it a good washing even in the winter.

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Driving Over Potholes 02-08-07
Winter is the season when potholes abound, though they can happen year-round due to old pipes collapsing and such. When you hit a pothole, you get a really rough jolt. This can cause car damage - to the suspension, or the tires, or the shocks, or your wheel alignment or other components. Try to avoid them if you can - don't follow the car in front too closely so you can see the pothole before you hit it. Do keep control of your steering wheel and car if you do hit a pothole. Before hitting a pothole that you can't avoid, try to slow down, rather than braking hard - or your front tire will hit the pothole with greater force. Make sure your tires are fully and properly inflated - the fuller they are, the better a cushion the tire will be if you hit a pothole. I am dodging these potholes everywhere in our city - the blizzards and remaining snow have done bad things to our streets - and between water and remaining snow, some potholes are hard to avoid since they can't be seen until you are hitting them.

Load Up on Windshield Wiper Fluid in Winter 02-01-07
In winter, keep a couple or more gallons of windshield wiper fluid around - one in your trunk, the other(s) in your garage. When snow starts to fall, many places run out of the fluid - people use it so much more to knock the muddy dirt off the windshield. When passing cars splash on your car, much will be the water mixed with the dirt from dump trucks - and your vision is gone from the windshield. When your supply starts running low, pull off the road where it is safe, and refill the reservoir. Many stores run out of the fluid when there are blizzards, and if it snows every week, the demand is higher - and even a store such as
Wal-Mart can't get supplies restocked enough. So keep your own emergency supply, or you'll have to really look hard to find a place that still has any. If you really need some, try a gas station - they tend to be able to bring in some supplies even when the big stores can't.

Keep a Touch-Up Bottle of Car Paint 01-25-07
Get a small touch-up bottle of matching paint for your car from the dealer, and keep it around for when you need it. Keep it in your home rather than in the car (too extreme in temperature changes) where you can easily find it. When you ding up a part of the car, or something scrapes across the car, just brush on a bit of the paint and protect the metal, plus get the car looking good again. If the metal is exposed, you risk it getting rusted, and then the rusting spreads further along the car. After a few years, it's hard to get matching color of paint, so it's good to have a small amount for quick touch-ups.

Keep Insurance & Registration up to Date 01-12-07
Don't let your insurance lapse - keep making payments so you don't lose coverage. If you must pay late, inform your insurance agent so you can try to work something out. You might be able to split the payments into 2 - or you might be able to post date a check to match up to your payday, and if you turn it in to the office, they can mark your policy as having paid, but hold off in cashing the check. They want their money, as well, and would like to work with you - at least they will if they are reputable and care about the clients. If they won't work with you, perhaps you should look for another agent or company. Do this before you lapse on your current insurance - a new company might not accept you if you are not up to date. If you lapse, especially without notifying your agent (that you will pay), and you get into an accident or some other car hits yours, etc., they need not cover you or the damage. Many times there is a grace period of a certain number of days - find out when the absolute latest date you need to pay before losing coverage. Even if you do lapse, speak to your agent ASAP - they might be able to work out a plan to re-instate your coverage.

Make sure you also keep your registration up to date - if you don't, you can get stopped and ticketed, not to mention what else if you do not get it taken care of immediately. I got a registration notice which was completely illegible from a printer malfunction, and I couldn't make sense of it. I put it aside to call about it, and of course, it got stacked on and I didn't notice it again. I got stopped - not for speeding - because my tags were expired. I told him what happened and that I didn't realize it was late - he just told me to get it taken care of at the courthouse as soon as I get back into town. I did just that and everything was good again. I could just as easily gotten a ticket, but as I had no other stops on my record, he tended to believe me and gave me the benefit of the doubt.

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Can You Really Beat Them? 01-08-07
When you speed and pay no attention to the stop signs, how much time do you really think you save? In all truth, not much. often the cars you are trying to speed ahead of will be in virtually the same position as you when you get to a common stop light. The time it can really hurt you is the time that a police car sees your infraction and you get stopped and ticketed. Truly - just leave 5 to 10 minutes earlier, feel less stress, and get to your destination both in one piece, and get there in time.

Tinted Window Care 01-02-07
If your car has tinted windows - take care of them - they aren't cheap to re-tint. If your windshield is tinted - it should be the glass that's dark - not an applied tint. You really shouldn't have a tinted windshield, however, because other drivers cannot see your face - they don't if you see them or they can't tell what will do - turn or go straight or whatever. It's dangerous to have a tinted windshield most of the time.

The other windows that are tinted are probably coated with a film. Take care not to scratch the film, or let it peel off. You can make your own cleaning formula that won't harm the film - dilute Joy dishwashing detergent with water (I use a spray bottle - just a little of Joy and mixed with distilled water so it won't go bad as fast as with tap water) and just wipe the windows with a soft cloth. If you window is soapy, you need to mix more water to dilute it more - there should be no need to rinse off the soap. Chemicals may harm or melt your film coating, depending on how harsh it is.

Condition the Interior 12-14-06
Make sure to regularly, perhaps every 2-3 months, clean and condition the interior - the dashboard, the seats, the leather, the vinyl, the rubber and plastic parts. It will add life to the interior of your car. Don't you hate the broken and split dashboards on cars? Prevent it - condition it often and use a sun visor to protect it from the sun's rays. Seats come apart when not taken care of. Take pride in your car - if you feel no pride in it, you need to clean it out well and then keep it up.

Winter Driving Tips 12-05-06
* Make sure your tires have plenty of aggressive tread for driving on ice and snow. If bald, you'll slide around dangerously.
* If you get into a slide, don't react quickly - steer into the direction of the slide so your tires can catch their grip again. Then slowly straighten out your direction to where you want to go.
* Start slowing down plenty ahead of where you need to stop. Pump the brakes unless you have an anti-braking system which will do this action for you. Give yourself at least a full car length in from of you when you stop - it will give you some room to pull ahead if the car behind you starts to slide into you.
* Check your car battery - have your mechanic tell you if the battery is good or getting low. You don't want to get stuck somewhere in the winter with a dead battery.
* Keep a supply of emergency items, in case. Include snacks, water bottles, blanket, spare jacket & gloves, flashlight, small shovel, perhaps a small bag of sand in case of need for traction in ice if you get stuck. Keep a battery powered radio and do carry a cellphone with you.
* Keep extra windshield wiper fluid in the car, and refill often. With all the mud and crud that gets thrown up on your windshield from snow, melting snow and road chemicals, you use up the reservoir pretty quickly.
* More tips to come - check back often.

Keep a Maintenance Schedule 11-27-06
Get out your maintenance manual and figure out when you need to get things changed - write it down where you will see it. There are oil changes, air filter changes, worn belts to replace, major check ups at certain mileage markers and much more. You should also pay attention to notices your dealer sends out that recommend certain actions or maintenance items. The more pre-care you take, the less the expense is than after something breaks down.

Car Giving Off Emissions? 11-16-06
If your car is suddenly putting out smoke that is quite visible, you need to check things out. Is your oil leaking and burning from underneath your car? Is there something wrong with your sensors? Could your fuel injectors be going bad? There are so many possibilities that it is unlikely you can figure this out on your own - you should take your car to the shop for the mechanics to diagnose. It could be a simple fix, or could be a major expense. In any case, the sooner you take care of it, the better (and before you get stopped by a patrolman for emitting too much visible gas).

Car Not Driving Straight? 11-10-06
When you are driving straight ahead, does your steering wheel not line up correctly? It is likely you need to get an alignment done. This should be done every time you get new tires, or when you rotate your tires, but might need to be done in between. If your car tends to drive off of center when going straight, you should get an alignment. You may have hit a bad bump, a curb, or something that knocked the tires off their alignment. If you continue to drive the car, you'll cause wear on the tires. It will also cause you to use more gas - it's not operating in the most efficient or aerodynamic way. Save your tires and drive more efficiently by scheduling an alignment.

Rotate Your Tires Regularly 11-04-06
As you drive, certain areas of your tires get worn out, and then you start getting bald areas on the tires.
First, make sure you keep them properly inflated, and check for bald areas. You should have your tires rotated on a regular schedule, which will depend on the type and amount of driving you do, and according to the tire manufacturer recommendations - read the paperwork you get with the tires (or ask for paperwork when you get your tires changed). The areas of wear will go to other areas in which there isn't much wear, and so you will lengthen the lifetime of your tires, and not have to buy new ones as often. If you keep the wear on the same spots (typically on the curving edge from when you are making turns), you will need new tires when those areas get worn out, rather than when the tires wear out more uniformly, as they will if you rotate them. It's really important to keep your tire treads aggressive in the winter - they will grip better for you in slick areas.

Shop for tires. Select vehicle to see sizes that are right for you. Review performance categories, test results. Read customer reviews and survey results.

Check Your Lights 10-31-06
Regularly check all your lights - perhaps monthly at least. Have someone help you - one person in the car, one outside. The person in the car should operate the turn signals, the brake light, the headlights, the lights that go on when the car is started, the emergency lights, etc. The other person watches that the appropriate lights come on. If any do not come on, you should replace the bulb, or there could be a wiring problem, or a burnt or popped fuse. Check the fuses first, before taking the car to the shop. You may eventually get pulled over for having non-working headlights or brake lights or turn signals. Get the lights taken care of and it will help you stay safe, so the other drivers on the road know what your intentions are.

Different or Odd Noises? 10-14-06
If your car makes any noises that are different, or louder, or bothersome, than what you are used to, pay attention to it so you can describe it, and try to narrow down where the noise is coming from. If anything else feels different about the way the car drives, note that. Call your mechanic to ask about the noises and such. There could be a problem - minor or serious. It could be the start of a major problem - you might be able to fix a small problem before it gets bigger. You don't want to pay for an expensive fix when you might be able to fix a small problem for much less before it becomes serious!

Careful With Iced Windshields 10-5-06
In the winter, when your windshields ice up when driving, pull over and deal with it. You can't drive safely with limited vision, or with your arm sticking outside trying to scrape it. Stop and put your emergency lights on so people know you are there, but make sure you are safely away from the road where a vehicle won't slide into you (not on a decline or a corner that a car might not be able to turn into). Take your ice scraper and scrape it - don't bang on the windshield - it is too cold and the brittleness can crack it. Don't blast your car heater - the difference in temperature from inside to outside can crack the windshield. If you know your windshield is starting to ice up, make sure to clean it off early, before you drive into a place where it's more difficult to stop. Gradually increase the heater to blow on the windshield so that it can adjust slowly to the temperature change.

Wipe Your Windshields 9-26-06
Keep your windshield clean - inside and outside. The inside gets so oily from residues - perhaps your dashboard treatment evaporates and gets on the glass. Or any oils within the car that heat up and rise to land on the windshield. This becomes quite apparent when you drive toward the sun - the glare is awful. The outside needs to be cleaned for sun glare, for ability to see out of it, for safety reasons. It also needs to be replaced if there are a lot of pits (or well-placed pits that make the glare bad) or a crack running through it. Clean the inside with a good grease-cutting cleaning formula, and wipe it for as long and as often as it needs.

Keep Your License Plates 9-21-06
When you sell a car, or get rid of your car in some way (perhaps donating it), make sure to take your license plates off of the car. Do not let the new owner keep your license plates. The car is still registered to you with those plates, and whatever the new driver does can be tracked to you from the license plates. Keep your bill of sale, as well, so if you need to prove that someone else owns the car, you can. The problem with the plates being on the car is that you can be liable for anything the new driver does. If you cannot prove you are no longer in possession of the car, you may have to pay for damages done by that car. Even if you can prove new ownership, you may still have liability issues with damages done by the new driver. Even when you keep the plates, put them in a safe place so that no one else has access to them. Many people would like anyone's old plates to put on their cars. It's not a good idea for you.

Dirty Gas 9-19-06
Some parts of the country have gas that is more dirty than in other parts. Land-locked areas tend to have worse gas, so you need to use gas cleaner solution in your gas tank periodically. Make sure you don't run the gas much lower than 1/4 tank, because you'll start pulling the muck and the worst of the gas into your engine - ugh - your car won't like it and it can start to cause problems over time.

Does Radiator Fluid Boil? Car Overheat? 9-12-06
If you notice a puddle of radiator fluid (often green) under your car, or if you can hear a boiling noise under the hood when you get done driving, there is a problem somewhere in the cooling cycle (and the car temp may or may not show that it's hot - the boiling may take place in the system prior to the temp gauge picking it up). It could be that the radiator itself is bad, or perhaps the radiator cap is not sealing tightly. If you cannot fix it right away, keep an eye on your temperature gauge so that your engine is not overheating. Try not to use your air conditioner - that will stress the cooling system and the boiling could start. If you do use your air conditioner system, make sure to turn it off at least a full 10 minutes before you stop driving - this will allow the radiator to stabilize and will minimize the boiling effect - you might get by for awhile if this works. If your car does overheat, turn the heater on and stop driving as soon as you are able.

Buy After-Market Parts 9-11-06
When needing to repair your car, check with the service department to see if after market parts are available, and if they are "good enough" to be a good fix for your car. Getting after market parts can save significant amounts of money in many cases. Always check with your service department to be sure they are appropriate in your case. Once a car gets to a certain age or mileage, it's not worthwhile to put the best and most expensive parts into your car, since the lifetime left on your car won't justify a brand new part that may last 10-15 more years. It will depend on your particular car and your driving habits.

Slow Down With Your Gears - September 5, 2006
Help extend the life of your brakes - downshift your gears to slow down rather than braking hard and you'll save wear on your brakes. This is best with a stick shift car. You'll be able to keep your brakes working for years longer by not braking hard all the time.

Pay Attention to Indicator Lights - August 29, 2006
While driving, keep an eye on the indicator lights - and make sure to familiarize yourself with what each means. Know which are the most critical lights to watch for - such as the oil light, or the check engine light. Your car may have other critical lights you need to watch for. Also keep an eye on the temperature gauge - make sure it doesn't climb toward hot. You should know the critical actions that you need to do in the case of any trouble lights coming on. You may just have to fill the oil level up, or you may have to get it to a mechanic right away, or you may have to stop it immediately. Don't attempt to drive to a mechanic until you know if it's safe to drive the car at all. You might need to figure out a tow or other way to get it to the mechanic, or come up with a "limp solution" to just get the car going safely a little further. Call your mechanic first, to see what is the safest thing to do. No sense running your engine to failure by driving it further than is safe.

Don't Go Too Low on Gas - August 23, 2006
Don't let your gas get too low - when running near empty, or even less than 1/4 of you car's gas tank, your car is running on all the muck that accumulates on the bottom of the tank. Not good to pull that muck up into the engine. You should occasionally put some gas tank cleaner into the gas tank to clean out the gunk in the bottom.

Gas Saving Tips - August 19, 2006, 9-12-06
To save on gas, take note of the following. For one thing, gas stations get their gas from primarily the same 2 or 3 suppliers - one gas station doesn't have better gas than another (unless the station is watering down the gas). Buy from the lowest cost station. Check that the gas meter on the pump is accurately clicking over when it's supposed to - like at the stated price of $2.99 per gallon - does it show $2.99 on the pump at the same time is shows 1 gallon? Some stations (with unethical owners) may try to take advantage by posting one price and metering another. If you see that, try to get a witness and call authorities to check it out.

Take out all unnecessary loads from the car - do you keep summer sports stuff in the car after the season is over? Do you have a bunch of chairs in the back in winter, or winter chains in the trunk when it's summer? Take out any weight that is not needed - it will help your gas mileage rate.

Get your car tuned up - new oil, air filter, check spark plugs, make sure emissions are ok and the sensors that regulate oxygen intake and such are working properly. Look for oil leaks (and any other leaks) and get those taken care of.

Come back and we'll put more tips for you as we figure them out.

See the blog entries at Find the Lowest Gas Price, and at Fuel Economy.

Accelerate steadily, not hard - keep your speed more consistent. You can lose nearly 40% in gas mileage by accelerating hard.

Change the oil on schedule, and routinely change the air filter. Have your oxygen sensor checked, as well. My sensor is starting to go bad - the "check engine" light comes on every so often, then stays on for about 1/2 day. It is doing a good job most of the time, but not all of the time. It will cause problems if it fails to work more often.

Beware of Car Heat - August 15, 2006
Never leave anyone - no child, baby, pet or person, in your car when it's warm or hot outside. The heat in a car can rise 40 degrees within an hour - so if it's already 80 degrees outside, it can get up to 120 pretty fast. It won't take long to cause serious, if not fatal, problems with anyone in the car. Even if you leave the windows down, it can still get hot in the car. Dogs don't even have many ways to sweat, as humans do - so they can succumb to the heat pretty fast. Report any instances you find of a child or pet in a closed car on a hot day - it could save a life.

Warn Those Behind You - August 9, 2006
If you see a hazard in front of you, or you have hit a sheet of ice that wasn't apparent, make sure to put your emergency lights on to warn drivers behind you. If on ice, pump your brakes carefully to let those behind you see your brake lights and know there is something to watch out for. If anyone is coming from behind at a high speed, it's not easy for him to stop once they come up on you - it's better to have him slow down early, before he reaches your car. If he comes up on you at high speed, and hits ice, he'll just keep on sliding until he's right behind you - and it's up to him whether he hits you or bails off the road. This happened to us one day, and the driver behind us did bail, went off the road, flipped several times in the snow, and amazingly, he didn't get very hurt.

Car Accident? - August 6, 2006
Car accidents can leave you in a monetary jam - your car isn't working, you may have injuries, perhaps you cannot go to work. Maybe you can't afford to get the medical attention you need. Even if the insurance companies are settling, you may not get paid for quite some time, longer than you can afford. Don't let them pressure you to settle earlier, for less. You can get enough of an advance on your insurance settlement to get you by until the settlement gets paid. Don't wait until you are in deep trouble - get what you need to get over your momentary crisis, and push for your full entitled amount.

For more information, see

Keep the Car Locked Up - August 4, 2006
Keep your car locked whenever you are leaving it unattended. Keep it locked while driving so no one at a stop sign or light can open the door and grab you, your purse, your child, or control of your car. Keep it locked while in the garage - sometimes a garage door may open accidentally, or you can forget to close the garage door. Once an intruder gets in, you can lose everything in your car - including your garage opener (always keep your garage opener out of site so no one can see it - thieves like to get into cars and steal garage openers plus the driver registration, which has the home address on it). Keep all items that look valuable, including toy purses, daytimers, laptop cases (anything that looks like there might be something valuable in it), etc., out of site - put into the trunk or under the seat so not to tempt a thief. After all, even if there is nothing to steal, you'll have to deal with a broken window and perhaps vandalization of your car (thief may get angry once he knows there is nothing to steal) - and that isn't worth it.

Keep an Eye on Your Dash Lights - August 1, 2006
When driving, make sure to pay attention to any lights that might come on, on your dashboard. If the oil light goes on, quit driving and check the oil level, and add some (carry a bottle in the car at all times) if the level is low. If the engine light comes on, stop driving as soon as you can. Call your mechanic and figure out what else might be happening. My engine light goes on periodically - the electronic analysis showed it to be the O2 sensor is sluggish, and it won't make driving a problem, but it is annoying until I spend the money to get a new O2 sensor. I just have to pay attention that nothing else is happening with the car (no overheating, no leaks, no funny noises, no smoke, etc.). The hot/cold meter should be watched, as well - always be aware if your car in over-heating, and if so, stop driving as soon as possible. Paying attention to your car will pay off in the long run - catch the problems before they get critical, and expensive.

Emergency Essentials - July 17, 2006
Depending on how far you typically drive, you should keep certain emergency items in the car - we'll add to this list as we come up with more.
For in-town driving (keep these in the below list, as well):

bottled water, for radiator problems, and for you in case you get stuck
cell phone or some sort of communication device
jumper cables
maps of the areas you drive in
simple tool kit
a "Help" sign, or white flag and a hanger
paper towels, for any type of mess
wet wipes
extra fuses

For longer trips and longer commutes:

extra oil in case of leakage or high usage
non-perishable snacks
air compressor in case you need to inflate tires, or your spare
extra windshield wipers

Keep Valuables Out of Sight - July 29, 2006
When leaving your car - make sure you have nothing that remotely looks valuable in your car. Don't leave your wallet, or purse, or cellphone, or your checkbook, your laptop, or anything in sight. Don't leave backpacks or briefcases, either. A thief won't know until it's too late that the backpack is empty, or the toddler's purse has toys in it. If there is anything in your car that tempts a thief to break into your car, you'll have damage to your car, and may lose other things that were out of sight, like things in your glove compartment, or your CD player, etc. Once a thief is in the car, he'll try to find something that will have it it worthwhile to break in. Keep temptation away.

Check Your Oil & Fluids - July 11, 2006
Check your car fluids regularly - oil can burn through the system. or leak. If it gets too low you can get into trouble, not to mention the dirtiest oil from the bottom is being run through the engine. If you notice the level going lower faster than it used to - it could indicate a problem - as a mechanic to look it over. Check for other fluids, as well - radiator, windshield wiper, transmission fluid, etc. - whatever you are able to check. Look for leaks by looking at the ground under where you park your car. If there are leaks, try to determine the type of fluid that is leaking. Figure out if there is a loose gasket, or a hole, or bubbling over due to too-high heat levels. If it's not obvious, take it to a shop for a check-over. Listen for boiling noises after a good drive. Your radiator could be acting up. Try to find problems before they get worse.

Change Your Wiper Blades - July 6, 2006
Your wiper blades don't last - you need to change them, perhaps seasonally, depending on where you are. The sun wears them out, and dries them up. You need to make sure they are properly fitted to your windshield, as well. If they don't clean off the windshield properly, you need to replace the blades.

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Change Your Oil - May 30, 2006
For the life of your engine, make sure to get an oil change every 3000-5000 miles. 3000 is best, but it can go as long as 5000 without hurting much. Don't go beyond that - it can harm your car and decrease the life of your engine. You can change it yourself - make sure to get a new oil filter, or take it to a shop. Between oil changes, make sure to occasionally check the oil level with the dipstick. If it's running low, add oil - make sure to use the same oil as was put in at the oil change. It is a good idea to keep a bottle or can of the oil in your car in case the oil level goes down while you're out and about town at some point.

Tire Care - May 19, 2006
To get the best mileage and performance from your car, and to prolong the life of your tires (they are expensive to replace), make sure to keep them properly inflated and rotate them according to the tire manufacturer's recommendation. Tires wear differently according to how you drive, and they need to be rotated so that the wear is distributed and not constantly on certain spots, in which case you will have problems with thinning tires. If you are losing two PSI per month or more often, have your tires checked for a hole. Check for wear - if you can't see a well defined pattern of tread, it's probably time to get new tires - bald tires are dangerous (they can blow out at anytime when hitting a bump or a piece of glass, or they slip easily in rain, snow and ice, etc.).

Check your tire pressure while the tires are cold, not after you've been driving (hot air expands so it won't be a true measure of the tire pressure). The proper pressure should be listed on the door (probably the driver's door) on the side when you open it.

Check your spare tire to make sure it is inflated - it will do you no good if it has a flat. If your spare tire is stored on the outside of the vehicle, check it for malicious teens slitting it.

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Condition the Dashboard - May 16, 2006
To try to keep your dashboard from splitting and looking bad, get a shade for it when parked in the sun - a car sun visor, or even a towel set across the dashboard. The sun bakes it so it is prone to splitting. You also should apply Armorall or some such conditioner at regular intervals - it will both clean and condition the dashboard for you. Do this more often in the summer, when the sun is hitting it more often.

Buying a Car? Best Times to Buy - May 9, 2006
When buying a car - there are certain times that are best for you to get the lowest price, the best deal. Try to buy at the end of the month, or end of the quarter, when salesmen are frantically trying to make their monthly quota - they are more likely to bargain with you and let the price drop for the sake of getting a sale. Also, anytime that there are less people in the store, like during the weekday in middle of the day, or on a stormy day, the sales force is more likely to try to push a sale, and more likely to let the price slide. Go into an office to talk it over - the salesman would love for you to stand next to the car as you talk to him - to keep you emotionally linked to the car - and your "want" will take over some judgment.

Buy Your Next Automobile Online at CarsDirect. Sell your car here too - new & used cars online. Or research your vehicle here and get referred to the nearest dealer to you.

Buying a Car? Avoid buying a "lemon"
Car Research and Pricing
New Car Invoice Pricing
Find Car Incentives & Rebates

Find the Lowest Gas Price - May 4, 2006
Find out where the best gas prices are in your area - just go to the below site and plug in your zipcode for the area you are looking in, and it will give you a selection of gas stations and their pricing.
Click here!

If you belong to a Sam's Club or Costco, check their gas prices - they are often among the lowest in prices. The other week, we went to Sam's and the cost of gas was $2.77 while every other station was in the $2.90 and up range, with a couple in the $2.88 cost. Also, some gas stations lower their prices on Thursdays, then raise it again on Friday - see if your area gas stations seem to do this, and buy on Thursdays if that is the case.

Fuel Economy - April 28, 2006, 9-12-06
In these days of outrageous prices of gasoline, you need to make sure your car is in good condition so it'll use less gas. Inflate your tires optimally - see the recommended pressure (usually printed on the side of your door when you open it, driver side or perhaps passenger side). Drive within the speed limit. Drive with all your stops on the way so not to backtrack or go on different days. Get your car tuned up. Change your oil and air filter regularly - oil & filter every 3,000-5,000 miles is best.

Tune up your car - An un-tuned car can cause a 40% decrease in fuel mileage.

Is your gas cap airtight? If the gas tank pressure increases when the gas heats up and gas fumes are pushing out, gas will evaporate and leak out - this can lose 25-40 gallons of gas in a year due to evaporation. You should have the cap checked out.

Stay Calm - April 22, 2006
Whatever situation you have while driving, remember to stay calm. Don't get upset or stressed out. It doesn't help you or your passengers. It will help set a wonderful example for your children, as well. I always try to stay calm with my daughter - and also when on my own. If I miss a turn, I keep driving until I can turn off and get turned back around legally (never do I try to force someone to let me in at the last seconds). I have not panicked when in bad situations. I nearly got hit from behind on ice, and just kept driving as if all was ok, not letting him push me into oncoming traffic, or off the road. Turned out the driver behind me bailed - he chose to go off the road and spared me and my daughter the hit. I had my daughter make the 911 call while I drove to the nearest town (there was nowhere for me to stop and nothing I could do myself). When I drive in winter, I stay calm, get the car back in control if I slip, drive slow enough to stay in control. I don't let much affect me, and to date, I have never had a ticket, not in my entire driving life. My daughter stays calm as well, in every situation.

School Zone Fines - April 12, 2006
When driving through a school zone - both the signs that tell times and the school flashing light dictate the school zone speed limit times. They might not match up with each other - the flashing may be at a different time than the sign times say - but you must follow both, or you might get a ticket. Some school zone ticket fines can run up to $200 - so is it worth the risk?

Air Conditioner Not Working? March 31, 2006
I've dealt with this problem several times. My air conditioner didn't keep up, and so I just rolled the window down, not really thinking about it. I assumed, in the back of my mind, that perhaps some fluid level was low. However, as I was driving, I noticed the temp gauge was showing hotter.

Thankfully I was on a downhill coming in to Vail, CO, and was able to put the car into neutral and coast to the next exit, at which time I had to drive about 500 yards to a parking place. Good thing is that since this had happened to me prior (although I was not prepared, and in fact, the car started to steam up in front of me), I had carried a bottle of antifreeze with me, plus I had bottled water in the trunk. The cause of the first incident was a bad water pump, and the symptoms appeared similar.

So my daughter and I took a walk, and came back after the car cooled off. We got the water bottles and antifreeze out and did an approximate 50-50 mix into the radiator fill area. We got it filled up and then I was able to drive the car, but kept the antifreeze stocked up plus extra water, just in case. I had another overheating episode shortly after that in going up a pass, so we stopped and did the same thing. Then I was able to get my car to the dealer in Denver and get the water pump replaced once again (although it was under previous warranty, so not out of my pocket).

The main thing I wanted to instill into my daughter is "don't panic" - just deal with what is happening. If in doubt, call someone on the cellphone and ask if it's a danger to drive - otherwise try self-help fixes, as we did. I'll add more of these self-help tips in the coming blog sessions.

Relief for your back & neck when using a laptop, and eliminate the heat
Laptops are ergonomically awful - the screen and keyboard aren't in the right places to keep yourself healthy - you have to lean over to work with it, and then there is the problem of heat - which can and does cause other health problems. One wonderful invention is the
LapGenie - it is an adjustable desk to set your laptop into the best position it can be. It folds up for easy travel, and has many other uses. Check it out. It's made a huge difference to me and a lot of people. Highly recommended!

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What's next? What comes next in this sequence: e, g, k, m, q, _ ?
The answer is "s" - arrange prime numbers according to alphabet 1=a, 2=b, etc., but starting at 5 it's 5(e), 7(g), 11(k), 13(m), 17(q), 19=s
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