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How-to Avoid Hydroplaning: Driver Safety

Rain and slick roads can cause your car to hydroplane. This can be very scary if you are not prepared, as you have very little control over your car. Hydroplaning happens when your vehicle loses control in wet conditions. This is because your tires don’t have enough traction on the road since the water is not thoroughly pushed away from your tires. It can happen in an instant, so it is very important to know what to do if you find yourself hydroplaning.

How-to Avoid Hydroplaning: Taking Action

How to React 

If you notice your car hydroplaning, stay calm. First, ease your foot off of the gas. Also, hold firmly onto the wheel, but do not slam your foot on the brakes or turn suddenly. In the event that your car starts to skid, make sure to turn your steering wheel in the same direction that you are sliding. The reason that you do this is to align your tires in the same way that your car is going in order to regain control.

Vehicles with anti-lock brakes and traction control are less likely to spin under hard braking. Brake gently with a pumping action if you don’t have anti-lock brakes. As you slow down, keep adjusting your steering wheel to be going the same direction your car is moving. Typically, you will regain control within a few seconds. However, during a scary situation, a few seconds can feel like forever. Whenever you regain control, stay alert and drive defensively. Then, you may want to find a safe spot to pull over and catch your breath.

How to Avoid It

It is possible to end up hydroplaning on any wet surface. However, there are ways to help avoid hydroplaning. First, watch your speed and drive carefully on wet roads. If you need to brake, do so with smooth, light touches. Also, turn off cruise control so that you can react more easily. Try and stay away from standing water or piddles of water. Remember that intersections can be especially dangerous since this is the most likely chance for engine oil to be on the road as well.

Prepare Your Car

If you prepare and maintain your car correctly, you will be less likely to end up hydroplaning. Your tires should have at least 2/23 inches of tread remaining. Check your tire tread regularly. When they get close to wearing out, it is time to replace them. Make sure to check your tire pressure around once a month, especially if your car does not have a built in tire pressure monitor. Properly working brakes are very important for being able to stop, so make sure your brakes are in good condition too. 

Hydroplaning may be scary, you can make it through safely by staying calm and reacting appropriately. A properly maintained car will help reduce the risks of driving in wet, slippery conditions. Keep these tips in mind so that you are better prepared if you find yourself in this situation.

How-to Prepare for Winter Driving: Get Your Car Ready

Although it is summer now, winter weather will be here before you know it. Keeping this in mind, it is good to be thinking through what you will need to do prepare for winter driving. Depending on where you live, winter weather could look very different than in other parts of the country. Some areas will have mild winters, and others could have blizzards. Even if winter just means cooler temperatures outside for you, there are things you should do to make sure your car is road ready.

How-to Prepare for Winter Driving: Things to Check

Battery

Car batteries can really be affected by cold temperatures. To prepare for winter driving, you should definitely test your battery. To do this, you can use a voltmeter to make sure it’s in good condition. A healthy battery should have a reading of 12.4 volts or more.

In older batteries, certain substances that the battery needs to function may freeze if temperatures get too low. Also, some grades of motor oil can thicken in cold weather. Thick oil could make the battery and starter have to work harder to turn the engine over. Having a healthy battery could help prevent overcome this problem.

Tires

Next, to prepare for winter driving, you will want to check your tires. If you live in an area that gets snow or ice, consider putting winter tires on your car. These tires have a deeper, more flexible tread, and will give you better traction in slippery conditions. On the other hand, if you decide to stick with all-season tires, check your tire tread regularly. Tires should be replaced if the tread is anything less than 2/32 of an inch. If a tire is bald and worn out, it will not have good traction.

Another thing to keep in mind is to check the tire pressure. As the outside temperature drops, tire pressure usually drops as well. If tire pressure is too low, too much of the tire’s surface area will touch the ground. This could make tire wear out too quickly. Additionally, it could cause your tires to overheat. If a tire overheats, your tire tread could separate, which could be dangerous.

Windshield Wipers

Your windshield wipers are something you should check in order to prepare for winter driving. Make sure they are in condition, and replace them if needed. If they are not properly removing rain or snow from your car windshield, you could have a difficult time seeing out. Also, add wiper fluid that is rated for -30 degrees. This will help to keep your windshield wiper fluid from freezing up in cold weather.

As you can see, there are small steps that you can take to make sure that you are safe on the roads when the weather gets cold. These tips will help you prepare for driving in winter weather.

How to Handle a Hit-and-Run Accident

Being in a hit-and-run accident can really ruin your day. No one wants to be in any kind of car accident. However, when you realize the car that hit you just kept going without stopping to exchange information, you will feel really upset. Although this can feel overwhelming, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself physically and financially. These steps are things you should think about before you leave the scene of the accident. 

Hit-and-Run Accident: What to Do

What are Hit-and-Runs?

If one of the parties involved in a wreck flees the crash, the accident is considered a hit-and-run accident. This is true no matter how minor the accident is. Every state is different, but in some, there can be serious consequences for fleeing the scene of the crash. This could include criminal charges or fines. This could result in you having your license revoked or even going to jail.

The reasons a person may decide to leave the crash could be many things. For example, they may not have auto insurance. Additionally, they may be driving a stolen car, breaking other laws, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Immediate Reactions

If you are in a hit-and-run accident, do your best to stay calm. Being in a car crash can make you feel a lot of strong emotions. It is important to have a clear head since you are solely responsible for documenting the accident. Also, do not try and chase the other driver. You may be leaving valuable evidence behind if you leave the accident site. Move to a safe area off the road and check yourself and passengers to make sure medical care is not needed. 

Try your best to remember as many details as possible. Try to make note of the make and model of the other car that was involved in the accident. If you get a chance to see the license plate number, try to remember it as well. Every detail you can remember will be helpful when speaking to the police or your insurance company

Communicate and Document 

When you are in a hit-and-run accident, you will want to call 911. This is especially urgent if there are any injuries. The police will come and write up an accident report. If there was anyone around, see if the witnesses will confirm what happened. This will be helpful when you are telling your story to the police. 

You will also want to take photos of your car. Make sure to take pictures of every angle, including a full shot and close up pictures. Also, you’ll want to contact your insurance agent to learn how to proceed. They will walk you through the next steps and how to file a claim.

Sport Mode: Using Little Known Features

Many modern cars come with a range of different “modes” to alter their performance. If there’s one mode many drivers don’t understand, it’s sport mode. Therefore, it’s helpful to know what this mode does, how it works, and when it’s best for you to use it…

Sport Mode: Optimize Car Performance

What it does

Drivers can usually turn on sport mode by pressing a button or twisting a dial. You might wonder, then, just how much the mode can change? In fact, it actually does change your car’s performance in three distinct areas: the engine, transmission, and suspension.

In this mode, your car’s engine will be more “sensitive” to the throttle, increasing its acceleration. It’ll also increase revving capacity by extend the automatic shift points in your car’s transmission. You’ll notice too that the suspension tightens up and will feel a bit more “stiff.” This improves performance on paved surfaces, especially on highways.

Use in cars

In the past, you’d usually only find sport mode as an option in higher-end cars. The most common usage was in sports cars, hence the name. However, recently many other cars have had this mode included stock. For instance, tucks, SUVs, and even minivans can all be found with sport mode features!

No matter the car, the results of the mode are generally the same: your car becomes more responsive than when you drive it regularly. This is why so many manufactures are including it in all their vehicles. Plenty of drivers describe the mode as “fun” or “thrilling”, so having it included gives them another feature to draw customers in with.

Potential downsides

While sport mode does come with some improvements, it also has some downsides. The increased engine power will mean more gas consumption. This will lessen the usual MPG that your car gets compared to when driving it normally. Plus, the extra performance can mean extra wear on your engine and tires.

You also need to make sure that you’re aware of when you should use sport mode. Using it in poor weather conditions and on roads with sharp curves/turns can be risky. Instead, it’s safest to use it on days with clear weather and on more open and straight roads.

Driving Safety: RV and Motorhomes

With airports and cruise lines being closed around the world due to Covid-19, many people are turning to domestic road trips this year. Recreational Vehicles (RVs) and Motorhomes are quickly growing in popularity due to safety concerns and regulations associated with public transportation, hotels and restaurants. RV driving safety is very important to familiarize yourself with. These vehicles are much larger than what many people are used to driving.

Driving Safety: RV Driving Tips

Get Familiar with Your RV for Your Safety

Just as you practiced when you first started driving a car, it’s important to practice driving safety in an RV. You should definitely do this before taking it on a long road trip. Find a wide open parking lot, and practice driving, turning, backing up and parking. For inexperienced drivers, it may be necessary to have someone stand outside of the RV and help direct you while navigating into a parking spot. In the meanwhile, get familiar with its size and weight. Since an RV is heavier than a car, they will be harder and slower to stop when breaking. The turning radius will be bigger as well, so practice getting comfortable with wider turns.

Also, make note of your RV’s height. This will be important when deciding if there is enough clearance to pass under an overpass or overhang. Oftentimes, bank and fast-food drive-thrus are not tall enough for an RV to pass under. A quick tip is to write down the height of the RV and tape it somewhere it will be easily visible while driving. 

Practice Safe Driving Habits in an RV

Since RVs are taller and have a different weight distribution than a car, be you may have to adjust your driving habits. Taking sharp turns too quickly could cause an RV to flip over or lose control. This could also cause pull behind camper vans could fishtail, which could lead to an accident. An important driving safety tip is to be mindful of speed limits and weather conditions. Keep in mind that oftentimes RVs may need to drive slower than other cars on the road. 

Gas Station Safety in an RV 

Driving safety is important to remember at gas stations. This can be a tricky pit stop for inexperienced RV drivers. First, gas stations often have tight turns and small spaces. In addition, canopy height may be too low for your RV to fit under. Plan gas stops carefully, keeping in mind that truck stops may be more RV friendly than traditional gas stations. 

With more people hitting the road in RVs this year, it’s important to make sure to be comfortable with RV safety before heading on a trip. By taking time to practice, following road rules and adjusting to road conditions, and knowing where your RV can and can’t fit, you’ll set yourself up for a safer and more enjoyable vacation.

Electric Vehicles versus Hybrid: Understanding Options

With the rise in popularity of clean, renewable energy, many people are looking at the differences between electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. Lately, almost every car manufacturer is making a hybrid or electric option. There are pros and cons to each of these type of vehicles, so it is important to learn more about each of them.

Electric Vehicles versus Hybrid Vehicles: A Comparison

Power Source

Electric cars are fully battery-powered while hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are gas-powered with a smaller battery. The braking process of the car actually recharges the battery. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are another type of vehicle. These are HEV’s, but have a larger battery. This battery can be charged like a fully electric vehicle. This can be done at a charging station or any plug that would work with your car.

Refuel and Recharge Times

One difference of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles is refueling or recharging time. Since HEV use fuel as their primary source of energy, the time to get a full range of travel takes far less time than charging an electric vehicle. It would just require going to a gas station and taking a few minutes to refuel the car. The battery recharges with energy while you’re driving. Plug-in HEV refuel with gas in the same way. However, it may take a plug-in hybrid electric up to several hours to fully recharge the battery. Of course this depends on the battery size and power source.

Depending on the electric vehicle model, a full charge can take between 30 to 90 minutes on a fast charging network. Tesla’s Supercharging network provides very fast charging speeds for Tesla drivers. These charging times certainly make a road trip take more time. However, most charging stations (and all Superchargers) are in a place where you can get some food and relax. You do want to keep that in mind if you plan on going on long road trips with the EV, since charging stops will add time to your trip.

Less Maintenance

There is a big difference when looking at the maintenance for electric vehicles versus hybrid vehicles. Electric vehicles cost less to maintain than a hybrid vehicle. This is primarily due to the engine. An electric vehicle’s engine has around 20 moving parts. However, there are close to 2,000 parts for a hybrid’s engine. Hybrid cars have an internal combustion engine in them. Therefore, they still require the same typical maintenance that a normal engine vehicle would need. This includes oil and transmission fluid changes, as well as timing belt fixes.

While there are some similarities between electric and hybrid automobiles, there are also many differences. HEVs and PHEVs also have many areas they overlap with fully gas cars. If you are thinking about getting a car that would be better for the environment, these are all things to think about. I would recommend test driving all three kinds of cars so that you can make a decision about what is best for you.