Do you know how to handle a tire blowout?

If you’ve never experienced a tire blowout, let me just tell you that it’s beyond scary. This is especially true if you don’t know how to handle the vehicle in this situation. There are several reasons a tire may blow out. The two most common reasons have to do with the air pressure.  Too low of pressure causes the tire to flex more than they are designed to, and if the pressure if too high, the tires a stressed beyond the designed limits.

The easy way to avoid a blowout, is to check your tire pressure at least once month (especially during the summer). However, checking the tire pressure is not a sure-fire way to avoid a blowout. There could be a defect in the tire itself or the wheel, in which case you’d be none the wiser.

The best thing I can suggest to you is to be prepared. Know what to do and what to expect when it happens.

Step 1: Stay cool.

Ignore your natural instinct to hit the brakes or jerk the steering wheel when you have a blowout.

Step 2: Accelerate slightly.

Accelerate slightly to maintain control of the vehicle. Keep going straight.

Tip: Hold the steering wheel firmly with both hands at 10 o’clock and two o’clock on the wheel to avoid losing control.

Step 3: Decelerate.

Ease off the accelerator slowly.

Step 4: Coast.

Maintain your course while the vehicle slows.

Step 5: Apply brakes.

Apply the brakes gently when your car slows to 30 miles per hour.

Step 6: Turn on right turn signal.

Tip: Never stop on the left side of the road, if possible. This is the most dangerous place to be.

Step 7: Pull over.

Pull your vehicle off to the side of the road, and breathe a sigh of relief…you’ve just survived a blowout.

[How Cast]

Are Self-inflating tires a myth?

Science Fiction, or Science Fact? The self-inflating tire: I know we’ve all heard of it’s purported existence, but now it looks like it may come to fruition. That means no more loud compressors, say goodbye to leaky hoses and inaccurate tire gauges. The good people at the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company have apparently developed a system which will allow tires to self-inflate automatically.

The technology that Goodyear has developed is called Air Maintenance Technology (AMT) and is completely self-contained, without any need for external pumps or electronics.

“While the technology is complex, the idea behind the AMT system is relatively simple and powered by the tire itself as it rolls down the road,” said Jean-Claude Kihn, Goodyear senior vice president and chief technical officer.

Here is some theory behind the science.

Now that you know that self-inflating tires are indeed Science Fact don’t bother searching the net just yet for this new tire technology, Goodyear has yet to provide any costs, or even an estimate when the technology will become available to the public. However, don’t let that crush your self-inflating dreams. Goodyear has received grants from the United States Department of Energy’s Office of Vehicle Technology to help further development.

Aside from the “cool” factor, keeping your tires at optimal operating pressure delivers lower emissions, longer tire life, enhanced safety and improved vehicle performance.

Stay tuned for further details. I’ll keep an eye on this topic for a future post. How great would it be if keeping your tires at optimal pressure just meant a quick trip to the corner store for some milk? It’s just one less maintenance issue you will be responsible for in the future.

What you SHOULDN’T do when encountering a tornado on the road

…to seeking cover under an overpass during a tornado

The misconception is that the wind associated with a tornado is confined to within the visible funnel cloud. Unfortunately, a tornado is not a vacuum cleaner hose hanging out of the sky. One possibility why many people think that being under an overpass offers protection is that with something above them, the bridge will prevent the wind from going ‘up’ underneath the overpass. This simply is just not true.

There is no doubt that essentially living at the southern tip of tornado alley we get to see our fair share of destructive tornadoes. Being in your home is one thing, you can take shelter in an interior room. However, what do you do if you are caught out on the road? I know every one’s first instinct is to protect their car and themselves and their first instinct is to take shelter under the nearest immovable object like an overpass. If you know anything about physics, you should rethink this tactic. The fact of the matter is that you may have just made your situation much worse.

Actually, the interaction between a tornado and an overpass is much more like this.

…and here’s a visual reference behind the science.

This is why one of the first and foremost rules in general tornado safety is to get as low as possible, because that is where the wind speed is the lowest! By climbing up underneath the overpass,  you are moving into a place where the wind speeds are typically higher. In addition, under an overpass, it is possible in some situations that when air is forced through the narrow passage underneath the bridge, this might cause an increase in the wind speeds (as mentioned earlier). Further, under different circumstances, the area beneath and just downstream of an overpass might become a debris deposition zone, where piles of debris accumulate. Think a hard rain is uncomfortable? Try being pelted with glass, shards of metal, splintered wood, hail and everything else that’s been hurled into the air.

Information from tornadochaser.net

If on a road, hide under an overpass if a tornado approaches.
The sad fact is this idea has caused many deaths of motorists already. The worst thing you can do is hide under an overpass. Winds can actually be worse under an overpass which makes it a bad place to go. Please listen, never use an overpass for protection.  

Open your windows during a tornado?
Scientists once thought that the low pressure in a tornado caused the normal air pressure in
houses to explode out. It turned out that the strong winds from the tornado destroyed the
houses, not the pressure change. If the tornado wants your windows open, it will open them for you.

The southwest corner of a basement is the safest place to go during a tornado.
The best place to go during a tornado is in a center room of the basement, like ones that are usually found under the stairs that lead down to the basement. I was once thought that the SW corner was the best place to go, but it was found the debris collects it the corners which makes it a bad place to go.

Tornadoes can’t cross water or where rivers meet.
Many tornadoes have crossed rivers & lakes, with out any effect to the tornado.

Tornadoes can not cross big hills or mountains.
Tornadoes have made damage paths up and down the side of 10,000 foot mountains, in Wyoming so the hills in eastern Kansas will not protect you.

Tornadoes can’t/don’t hit big cities.
Miami, FL, Nashville, TN,  Wichita, KS, Fort Worth, TX, and Oklahoma City  have all been hit by tornadoes in the past few years. Take shelter if a tornado warning is issued for your city.

To see what happens when you take shelter under an overpass take note of the people the pass before under the overpass and again after they drove back through.

So far, this has been the deadliest year for tornadoes across the US. North Texas and specifically DFW (none of us forget the tornado that his Fort Worth) are susceptible to extreme weather. It’s my responsibility to make sure that all of you are provided with the best information possible about your car, driving, etc. However, it’s just as important , if not more-so, that you understand the appropriate action to be taken should you ever encounter a tornado while on the road…What you decide to do or not do can potentially have fatal outcomes. I hope you will remember this article if you ever are in this situation.

What would your vanity plate say?

“You’re so vain!”

We all seen them. You may actually have one. The Vanity license plate. It can say a lot about the driver who owns the plate. I’ve personally never owned a vanity, but I’ve certainly seen my fair share.

Well, as it turns out, the vanity plate has come a fairly long way in a relatively short period of time. What was once an fairly low cost way to personalize your vehicle has now become big business.

After years of selling vanity plates as a modest sideline — charging as little as $5 — states think there’s more money to be made in whatever drives people to buy them. Facing budget crunches, states are raising surcharges or proposing annual fee hikes for custom plates.

Texas has gone a step further. It hired a private company to raise $25 million over the next five years by auctioning off vanity plates.

“People like to express themselves, especially in Texas,” says a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.

In fact, vanity plates can boost self esteem for the simple reason that vanity plates say “who I am and what I want people to know about me”. It’s like a mission statement.

In turn, a paper published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology in 2008 found that drivers with vanity plates, bumper stickers and other “territory markers” were far more likely to use their vehicles to express rage — by honking, tailgating and other aggressive behavior.

This year, at the nation’s first such auction, Texas sold 33 plates for $139,400. That’s a hefty chunk of change!

However, don’t think that you can just get anything on those plates. I believe all states who allow vanity plates also regulate what you can and can’t express. States have long denied certain combinations of letters or numbers considered obscene or inappropriate, sparking battles with motorists….and well, some are just down, right dumb like: “3XWYVS,” “H8CATS” and “TROFYWIF.”

So, if you were going to get a vanity plate, what would it say? Leave me a comment below, let’s see how creative you can get!

What’s the right Child Safety Seat for your Baby?

Researching information regarding safety for children, I came upon an article written by the American Academy of Pediatrics on car seats and wanted to share it with you.

All parents have the same worry when traveling with children – safety. What happens if I am in a car accident, will my child be safe? Every year we have accidents that injure or kill young children.  It goes with out saying that the proper use and installation of child safety seats have helped keep children safe. Now, the question is, with so many safety seats being sold, which no doubt overwhelms most new parents, which seat is the right one for your child? The article helps with many questions a parent may have regarding safety seats.

The right safety seat for your child depends on several things like child’s size and type of car you have.  Below is a quick guide produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics on the different types of car safety seats to help you start your search.  But you still need to read more about the features and how to use your car safety seat.

Age Group Type of seat General Guidelines
 

Infants

 

Infant seats and rear-facing convertible seats

 

Infants should ride rear-facing until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer. At a minimum, children should ride rear-facing until they have reached at least 1 year of age and weigh at least 20 pounds. When children reach the highest weight or length allowed by the manufacturer of their infant-only seat, they should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible seat.

 

 

Toddlers/preschoolers

 

Convertible seats and forward-facing seats with harnesses

 

It is best for children to ride rear-facing as long as possible to the highest weight and height allowed by the manufacturer of their convertible seat. When they have outgrown the seat rear-facing, they should use a forward-facing seat with a full harness as long as they fit.

 

 

School-aged children

 

Booster seats

 

Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing car safety seats. Children should stay in a booster seat until adult belts fit correctly (usually when a child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age).

 

 

Older children

 

Seat belts

 

Children who have outgrown their booster seats should ride in a lap and shoulder seat belt in the back seat until 13 years of age.

 

 

If you have any questions about proper car seat installation, you can always swing by and I’d be more than happy to show you the right way to secure the seat and keep your child safe.

How to Escape a Sinking Car

how to escape a sinking car

This is something we hear on the news from time to time. A car loses control, crashes through a retaining barrier and into a body of water. Would you know what to do if this happened to you?

This type of accident is rare, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you. Thinking back on what you know or what you’ve heard, do you think that you would have the presence of mind to recollect the escape tactics that you’ve “heard” about and not panic? For sake of argument, I’m going to say “no”, you won’t. That’s OK, because until I did a little refresher research, I would have fallen into the same category as you: Knowing the theory of escape, but that’s about it.

Check out the video for a visual refresher:

Here’s a website dedicated to this very subject written from a person who’s experienced being trapped in a submerged car first hand. It’s definitely worth looking at.

The bottom line is that you have to remember to stay calm and memorize this simple course of action:

Here’s one more thing to consider. There are small, inexpensive, and convenient-to-carry tools available to the public that are made specifically to shatter a car window to free a trapped victim. I suggest you look into getting one for your vehicle.

From Saveyourlife.us

One is called a LifeHammer. It is only 7 ½ inches in length and weighs 4.9 ounces. It is shaped like a small hammer but with a dual conical shaped hardened steel point at one end. A strike with medium force will shatter a side window. I had my 10 year old daughter try it and she broke the window on the first try. The LifeHammer also has a seatbelt cutter built into the other end. The LifeHammer should be mounted in the vehicle either on the side of the console or anywhere it can be easily reached in an emergency. You can view one by clicking anywhere you see the word “LifeHammer”.

The other tool is called ResQMe. It performs the same functions as the LifeHammer but it is only 3 inches long, weights just over ½ oz. and easily attaches to your keychain. One advantage of ResQMe is that it can go with you wherever you go as long as you have your keys. You can view one by clicking anywhere you see the word “ResQMe”. The Life Hammer is a little more robust and can be used to clear out some of the shattered glass once the window is broken. I keep ResQMe on my key chain and a LifeHammer in my car.

Be prepared, stay calm and know your escape routes. If you have any questions or comments, let me know. If you’d like to share any experience you may have had that is similar, tell us that too…you may save some one’s life one day with your information.

Everybody, drive safely.

“Learn to turn” out of that skid

Sooner or later it’s going too happen to you, the dreaded “SKID”. Losing control of your vehicle suddenly is never any fun, but with a little reeducation you should be able to react without thinking and come out of the spin unscathed.

There is no secret to successfully navigating your way out of a “fishtail”. I’ll bet the phrase “turn into the skid” jumps to mind and that is absolutely correct. Take a look at the video below for a good reminder

Better yet, if you have a new driver in the family go and grab them and watch the video together. There is no substitution for having a good grasp on defensive driving and evasive maneuvers.

Remember, when you lose control of your vehicle staying calm is absolutely essential. Losing your composure could lead to over-correction and a total loss of control of your vehicle…at that point you might want refer back to this blog for a refresher. If you have any question, comments or need the number of a good body shop (kidding), give me a call.

Rain, Rain go away save your hail damage for another day!

Pretty clever title, huh?

Living in Texas, we are all too familiar with “Texas Weather”. To put it simply, it can and usually does change on a dime. Nice and sunny one moment and the next you are being pelted by penny to softball sized hail. I’d go as far as to say that the “Hail Sale” was invented here in Texas.

So what do you do of your poor new car gets pelted by an unexpected deluge ice nuggets and ends up looking like a golf ball? One of two things. You can watch the video below for a look at what it takes to get your ride back to it’s unblemished self. It shows the tools you’ll need and how you might want to go about prepping your dent removal project.

To keep it interesting, they challenged the tech to do 6 dents in under a minute. As a novice, I’d plan for a much longer amount of time for your project. Also keep in mind that this is just the hood. Chances are if you’ve sustained hail damage it will probably be on your roof and trunk as well…as this point, I’d really consider bringing it in to have a professional take a crack at it.

Check out the video:

As you can see, if you know what you are doing, restoring your car after a hail storm takes a little patience, the right tools and some mechanical ability (removing hoods, liners, paneling etc.).

If you’ve sustained any hail damage (it’s crazy weather season in Texas) and don’t want to tackle a dent removal project yourself, then don’t hesitate to give me a call and I’d be happy to help you get your pride and joy back too showroom condition.

 

Have you considered upgrading your car stereo?

One thing is certain, we all spend a lot of time in our cars, 540 hours a year to be exact. That’s right 540 hours of traffic, of red lights of sitting for hours on end. What do you do with all of that time wasted? With the crack down on cell phone usage, you’d better have a pretty killer stereo to stay entertained.

Now, for the most part, most people are totally content with their factory installed systems. However, there are some people…self-proclaimed “audiophiles” who demand only the clearest most efficient and, at times, the loudest audio systems available.

If you think you want to venture into the world of custom audio for your vehicle, there are some things you should know. First let’s start with the basics…the 3 components of your audio entertainment.

When looking for an after market system, you really need know what you are looking for: what type of sound, what features, what brand, are you going to need an amplifier…these are just a few of the questions you should ask before you make any purchase. There are any number of places you can go to research and get expert advice, including my dealership.

I guess the bottom line is, if we are going to be spending 541 hours in our cars every year, I for one am going to want the best possible audio system in my vehicle to keep my mind off the fact that I could be playing a lot Golf with those wasted hours.

Buick Expands Military Discount, Helps Veterans Pursue College Education

(This article originally appeared on Buick.com)

Buick Achiever scholarship recipient William Smith is currently pursuing his degree in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. Before he became a Buick Achiever, Smith served as an aviation electronics technician in the U.S. Marine Corps, supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa. © General Motors
Buick Achiever scholarship recipient William Smith is currently pursuing his degree in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. Before he became a Buick Achiever, Smith served as an aviation electronics technician in the U.S. Marine Corps, supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa. © General Motors

DETROIT – Today through May 31, 2016, Buick will expand its military discount program for all 21 million U.S. military veterans and their spouses in honor of National Military Appreciation Month.

“These brave men and women have done so much for our country,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president, Global Buick Sales, Service and Marketing. “Making sure all veterans can take advantage of our military discount to celebrate Military Appreciation Month is one small way we can express our gratitude.”

Buick offers the industry’s most comprehensive automotive military discount program. The military discount program is typically available to U.S. military veterans within one year of separation, active-duty personnel, reservists, retirees and their spouses. In honor of May’s National Military Appreciation Month, the program expands to include all veterans – regardless of their separation date – and their spouses.

The discount is available for popular models, including the Buick LaCrosse, Regal and Enclave. Because the discount can be combined with most current incentives, veterans can save thousands of dollars on some vehicles. For more information, visit gmmilitarydiscount.com.

Buick’s support for the U.S. military spans generations. During WWII, Buick converted all its plant facilities in support of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s call for an “Arsenal of Democracy.”

The tradition continues today as the Buick Achievers scholarship program helps many students—including deserving veterans like William Smith—become the first in their family to attend college. Between high school and starting his collegiate career, he served as an aviation electronics technician in the U.S. Marine Corps, supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa.

Read the entire article on Buick.com!

 

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