In many parts of the country, winter can take a toll on your car’s tires. Here are three tire maintenance tasks you should perform every spring
1. Change your tires
Winter tires perform poorly on hot, dry roads. If you used them over the last few months, now’s the time to switch back to all-season or summer tires.
2. Check the pressure
Cold air causes the pressure in your tires to decrease, deflating them and making them unsafe to drive on when the weather is warmer. Check the owner’s manual to verify the exact pressure range that’s best for your tires and inflate them accordingly.
3. Inspect the tread
No matter what type of tires you use, it’s their tread that provides the necessary traction to stop your car from slipping and sliding in wet and icy conditions. Many tires have tread wear indicators inside the grooves. If your indicators are flush with the grooves, the tires are no longer safe to drive on.
Finally, visually inspect your tires. If you notice uneven wear, cuts, bulges or other irregularities, it may be time to replace them.
Traffic accidents down dramatically as people stay at home
It might not be safe to hug a stranger, but driving on freeways is safer than ever.
All over major U.S. cities traffic is down, pollution is down, accidents are down.
According to a study by the University of California, Davis, California traffic accidents have fallen by 50 percent since March 19, when the populace was ordered to stay at home.
Typically, there are 1,000 collisions and 400 accidents that result in injuries or fatalities every day on the congested freeways of California.
Now the numbers are 500 collisions and 200 injury/fatality accidents.
The study measured these highways: I-5, both north of Los Angeles and toward Oceanside, U.S. Route 101, U.S. Route 99, state road 152 toward Los Banos and I-280 toward Daly City.
Pollution is also down worldwide. A Stanford scientist studied satellite imagery and found a dramatic decline in air pollution. Marshall Burke, assistant professor in the Stanford Department of Earth System Science, predicted that quarantine might save 77,000 lives in China.
In Los Angeles, as April began, residents were enjoying their fourth week of smog-free air.
In fact, the air is clearer from Los Angeles to India, which has 21 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities. Major cities in India, something new is in the sky: blue. Living with such badly polluted air makes dwellers in such cities uniquely at risk for viruses like Covid-19.
However, scientists say with the resumption of factory work and traffic, blue skies will once again be replaced with gray.
Car warranties 101
One of the advantages of purchasing a new car is that it comes with a warranty. It’s important, however, for buyers to understand what exactly it covers. Here’s a brief rundown of what you get with both a basic and an extended warranty.
Also called a factory warranty or a manufacturer’s warranty, a basic warranty is standard with the purchase of any new vehicle. Typically, it comprises multiple warranties. This includes a bumper-to-bumper warranty, which, as the name suggests, covers just about everything between the front and back bumper. It also includes a powertrain warranty, which applies to the engine, transmission, and drivetrain and is usually more limited.
Note that warranties don’t cover cosmetic damage or normal wear and tear; they cover manufacturing defects that were the fault of the automaker.
A standard warranty lasts between three to five years or 36,000 and 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.
When you purchase a vehicle, sometimes an extended warranty is given as a bonus, but more commonly, it comes at an extra cost. In most cases, an extended warranty from the automaker is simply an extension of the factory warranty.
However, you may also opt for an extended warranty from a third-party provider, which may offer more comprehensive coverage and perks like roadside assistance.
Note that nothing forces you to purchase an extended warranty right away. You can wait until the factory warranty is about to expire before getting this extra protection.
Warranties differ between car makes and models, so always take the time to familiarize yourself with any car warranty you receive or purchase.
Top 5 driver-assistance technologies
Driver-assistance technologies contribute to your safety on the road. Here are five handy features available in many newer cars.
1. Traction control
This technology is designed to prevent loss of traction when the car is accelerating. It senses when one wheel is spinning faster than the others and automatically engages the brake on that wheel. This is a useful feature to have in winter driving conditions when a loss of traction can cause the car to slide.
2. Blindspot detection
This feature uses sensors to monitor the sides and rear of the car and alert the driver when another car enters into their blind spot. Most systems warn the driver of the potential hazard with a flashing light mounted on the side-view mirrors or rear-view mirror. However, some systems use audio alerts or cause the steering wheel or driver’s seat to lightly vibrate.
3. Automatic emergency braking
This technology detects upcoming obstacles and automatically reduces the car’s speed or brings it to a stop when there’s a risk of collision. The sensors are able to detect slowed and stopped traffic and, in more advanced systems, pedestrians, cyclists, and large animals.
4. Lane departure warning
These systems detect the lines on the road and warn drivers anytime they move out of their lane without using the turn signal. Some systems use flashing lights on the dashboard to alert the driver, while others use a vibrating steering wheel or driver’s seat.
5. Backing aids
These systems detect objects in the car’s path when it’s reversing and alert the driver using a warning light or warning sound. Some newer cars also have a backup camera, which gives the driver a clearer view of the obstacles behind the car.
Some additional driver-assistance technologies worth asking your local car dealer about are adaptive cruise control, driver monitoring and adaptive lighting.
5 key steps for taking your car out of storage
Spring is here, and if you happen to have a summer vehicle tucked away, now’s the time to take it out of storage. Here are five essential steps to take before you hit the road.
1. Check the fluids. If you didn’t change the oil before putting your car into storage for the winter, do it now. You should also check the other fluids, including your coolant, brake, transmission, and windshield wa¬sher fluids. Top these up if necessary.
2. Inspect the tires. Even if they look fine, check the pressure in your tires as it may have dropped over the winter. If necessary, inflate them to the manufacturer’s requirements. Visually inspect them for wear, cracks and bulges, and repair or replace them if necessary.
3. Connect the battery. If your battery wasn’t connected to a maintainer or tender over the winter, charge it fully. Before reconnecting it, check the wires and terminals for corrosion.
4. Perform a visual inspection. Check all visible electric wires and hoses for damage. Ensure that there are no foreign objects or signs of pest infestation under the hood, in the trunk and in the cabin. Finally, look for signs of damage to the paint and body.
5. Replace worn out parts. Air filters can accumulate dust over the winter and windshield wipers can become dry and cracked from disuse. If necessary, install replacements before driving.
When driving your car for the first time after an extended period in storage, it’s normal for the wheels to vibrate for a few minutes until any flat spots have rounded out. Similarly, the brakes may be noisy the first time you use them. If these things don’t go away after driving for about half an hour, or you notice other irregularities, bring your car to a professional to have it inspected.
What affects an EV’s range?
If you purchase an electric vehicle (EV) with a 125-mile range, can you reasonably expect to drive that distance between each charge? Unfortunately, the answer is no. This is because the battery does more than powering the engine. In fact, there are many factors that contribute to the battery’s range, including the following:
• The electrical system. An EV’s battery is responsible for all the systems in the car. As a result, running the fan or entertainment unit will require some of the battery’s power.
• The weather. Cold or windy weather can reduce an EV’s range by up to 30 percent. This is largely due to the need to heat the car’s cabin and engine. Hot weather also affects range, but not to the same extent.
• Where you’re driving. Because many EVs use the power generated while braking to recharge the battery, driving in the city increases a car’s range while driving at a steady pace on the highway reduces it.
• The load you’re carrying. As with any car, heavy loads are less economical to carry. In order to optimize your car’s range, don’t stow unnecessary items in the trunk.
If you’re worried about running out of juice, your car’s information system will warn you when the battery’s charge is low. However, it’s important to plan ahead to be safe. Always know how far you’re going and make sure that your battery is sufficiently charged to get you there and back.
5 things you can do at an auto show
If you plan to purchase a new car, consider attending an auto show in your region (hopefully soon). In addition to being a great opportunity to scope out your next ride, these events offer a rich experience. Here are five things you can do at an auto show.
1. Discover the latest cars
Top automakers showcase their latest models and prototypes at auto shows. Enjoy seeing them all in the same place and in the span of just a few hours. Plus, gain bragging rights by learning about and snapping pics of the next generation of cars before all your friends.
2. Talk with experts
The staff working at the various car booths will know all the ins and outs of the vehicles that they’re displaying, and they’re there to answer any questions you have. Become a more informed car buyer by picking the brains of these product specialists.
3. Take a test drive
Become familiar with a bunch of exciting new cars. You may even be able to test drive some of them, including electric and luxury vehicles.
4. Meet the stars
Rub shoulders and take a photo with:
• Actors, musicians and other celebrities who are at the show representing various marques
• Racecar drivers from a range of motorsports (formula racing, rallying, NASCAR, etc.)
• Car journalists and bloggers
5. Enjoy the extras
Auto shows usually host live car auctions, keynote presentations, live music, marketplaces, and signing sessions. Moreover, most events are family-friendly, with many of the automakers offering games, interactive displays and other activities for kids.
If attending an auto show sounds like a good time, be sure not to pass up the next one in your region.