What’s a differential?
Located between the transmission and driveshaft of a car’s driving wheels, the differential is one of the most important components of a car’s engine. It performs the critical job of automatically dividing the power from the engine so the car’s wheels can spin at different speeds when you make a turn.
When you turn left, for example, the right wheels on your car have to travel further than those on the left. The differential’s gearing system automatically sends more power to the wheels with less traction (in this case, the right wheels), so that your turn is as stable as possible. When it comes to vehicles with four-wheel-drive, there’s an additional differential that separates the front wheels from the rear wheels to improve handling when driving over uneven terrain.
Since the differential helps you stay safe while on the road, you should watch for any signs that there may be a problem. If you’re having difficulty maneuvering your car around turns or hear loud squeaking or grinding noises coming from underneath your vehicle, you should visit a trusted mechanic immediately.
What you need to know about road rage
Road rage can have severe consequences and lead to fatal crashes. That’s why it’s essential to take the necessary measures to remain calm while driving and know how to react if you’re the target of another driver’s aggression. Here are some things to keep in mind.
How to prevent road rage
Staying calm behind the wheel starts with good preparation. Give yourself enough time to get to where you’re going to avoid being in a hurry. That way, you won’t get stressed if the driver in front of you is moving too slowly, for example. It can also prevent you from making dangerous maneuvers to make up time, provoking other drivers.
It’s also vital to limit irritants by following the rules of the road and showing common courtesy to other drivers. For example, only honk the horn when necessary, use your turn signals, maintain a safe following distance, and don’t cut off other vehicles.
Defensive driving tips
The golden rule? Resist the urge to retaliate and provoke an angry driver. Ignore them, or if you’re worried, go to a police station or public place. Above all, don’t pull over, get out of your car or go straight home, as you could be followed. Call 911 and describe the person and vehicle.
Finally, remember that anyone can make a mistake and unintentionally do something frustrating or dangerous. If you do something wrong, apologize. If someone else does something irritating, take a few deep breaths. Getting angry is pointless and will only make things worse.
6 dangers of summer driving
Summer driving can be fun. However, the warm season brings challenges on the road. Here are six to keep in mind.
1. Sun. Beware of glare, especially at sunrise and sunset. Adjust your speed, wear good sunglasses, and clean your windshield regularly.
2. Fog. On top of reducing visibility and potentially camouflaging obstacles, dense fog can make the road slippery. Slow down and turn on your low beams, not your emergency flashers.
3. Thunderstorms. Reduced visibility, water accumulation, and high winds are all crash risk factors. Slow down and turn off cruise control to avoid hydroplaning and stay away from power lines.
4. Flip flops. Driving with sandals isn’t against the law, but it can affect your driving. For example, one could get lodged under a pedal.
5. Propane. Summer is barbecue season! Propane is a hazardous material. Make sure you transport it in an approved container that’s secure, upright, and in a well-ventilated area.
6. Distractions. According to research conducted by Travelers Insurance, distracted driving increases by eight percent during the summer. Reduce distractions by programming your GPS before setting off, stopping to eat, and giving your passenger control of the music.
Don’t let an accident ruin your summer. Drive safe!
Tips for preventing deer collisions
Deer are common across North America and frequently cause motor vehicle accidents. Here are a few tips to minimize the risk of colliding with a deer this summer.
Be extra vigilant
Look for signs indicating deer crossings in the area. Slow down and make sure you scan the road and your surroundings. Be particularly careful on slopes, sharp turns, and in areas of dense vegetation; a deer could unexpectedly jump out of a bush.
Remember that the risk is more significant in October and November, as deer move around more during mating season. Plus, deer often travel in groups. Therefore, if you see one, slow down because there may be more.
Maximize your visibility
Keep your headlights and windows clean. Turn on your high beams when driving at night, except when passing oncoming vehicles. Ideally, avoid driving at dawn and dusk. Deer are more active at these times of day, and the low light can make it hard to see.
Finally, if you see a deer, slow down and try to scare it away — and warn other motorists — by flashing your headlights or honking your horn. Avoid hitting the animal without swerving out of your lane or making a sudden turn at the last second. This could cause a more severe accident.
Get your car ready for summer road trippin’
As winter nesting gives way to summer wanderlust, your plans turn to sunny days on the open road. Before mapping your course, make these checks to ensure your car is highway ready.
• Check your car’s performance with a tune-up. Make an appointment to have your vehicle professionally inspected. They’ll check all essential operating systems so that the only travel surprises will be fun ones.
• Wash your car, inside and out. Thorough cleaning does more for your driving experience than make you look good on the road. A clean interior helps gives you fresh, healthy air to breathe and keeps your spirits high when the drive feels long. A tidy console eliminates dangerous distractions and makes maps, mobile phones, and tasty milkshakes more accessible.
• Stock up on emergency essentials. Put together the gear you’ll need in case of a breakdown. Start with your spare tire and add blankets, flashlights, a water supply, and nonperishable food. Inspect your first aid kit and replace any outdated or missing items.
• Drive in comfort with perfect AC. If you haven’t used your car’s cooling system for several months, give it a go before hitting the road. If it’s not working as well as you remember, have your refrigerant topped up or replaced.
• Back up your GPS with analog maps. Be prepared for off-grid detours or loss of mobile service. Keep a selection of paper maps in the glove box if the situation calls for some old-school navigation.
Finally, don’t forget the fun stuff. Stock up on snacks, compile your playlists, and keep a few car-friendly games within easy reach.
The easiest way to clean your car’s upholstery
Cars can get messy, especially if you have kids and pets. The good news is that there are tried and true methods of removing stains and cleaning your car’s upholstery. Here are a few.
Try this homemade solution to remove stains:
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup vinegar
• 1 tablespoon dish soap
Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and apply them to the stains. Let the solution sit for about 15 minutes, then wipe it clean with a wet cloth. You can also try commercial spot-removing solutions available at your local automotive shop.
If vacuuming doesn’t remove your car’s pet hair, here’s a simple and inexpensive solution. Use a rubber-dipped glove to brush away the fur with your hand. The hair sticks to the glove, and your upholstery will be fur-free.
Eliminate nasty smells by mixing 1 cup of baking soda with 4 or 5 drops of essential oil such as lavender or ylang-ylang. Put the mixture in a sealed plastic bag or glass jar for a day. Then shake up the baking powder and sprinkle it on the floor. After about 20 minutes, vacuum up the powder. The fresh scent will remain for days.
Visit your local automotive shop or hard¬ware store to buy the supplies you need for your DIY car cleaning day.
How to prevent your car windows from fogging up
Driving with foggy windows is dangerous. It obscures your vision, making it difficult to see cyclists, pedestrians, and animals crossing the road. Sometimes blasting your defroster doesn’t clear things up. Try these remedies to prevent your car windows from fogging up.
Keep your glass clean
Condensation forms on oil and dust particles on your auto glass. Use glass cleaner and a newspaper or paper towel to clean your windows with regular wipe-downs to eliminate streaks.
Use anti-fog products
Immediately after cleaning the glass, apply a commercial anti-fog spray. In winter, use a product designed for interior use. Use an exterior-use product in the summer.
Try homemade remedies
Apply old-school shaving foam to the glass and remove it with a clean towel. Alternatively, cut a potato in half and rub the flesh on the glass. The starches and sugars in the potato repel fog.
Turn off the recirculate switch
Most cars have two settings for the heating and cooling systems. One recirculates the interior air, which improves efficiency. The other allows fresh air into the vehicle. If you have foggy windows, turn off the recirculate switch to get fresh air inside the cabin and remove moisture from the air.
Finally, visit an auto repair shop to ensure your cabin air filter is free of dust and particles that could flow into the car and cause a foggy windshield.
Wind: 1mph ENE
UV index: 0