October is here and there’s nothing quite like carving a pumpkin to get you into the Halloween spirit. Steve Dahlke — a professional pumpkin carver for more than 20 years — demonstrates a few tips, tricks and hacks which might come in handy for you this Halloween. Happy carving!
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From carving jack-o’-lanterns to trick-or-treating, Halloween can be a fun night for kids of any age. To help ensure your evening is full of planned scares and frights, here are some road safety tips for you and your kids to consider.
Make sure your child takes along a working flashlight or an abundant number of glow sticks to help ensure they’re visible to others.
Don’t let your kids leave home without a fully charged cellphone so they can call for help in the event of an emergency. You may also want to remind your children to keep their heads up and put their phones and other devices down, especially when crossing the street.
Tell your kids to walk only on sidewalks and, if there is not a sidewalk available, to walk against the flow of traffic and as far away from the road as possible.
Be sure that any costume your child wears on Halloween night doesn’t impede their vision or pose a tripping hazard.
Don’t send your kids under the age of 12 out trick-or-treating by themselves. If they resist because they don’t want to be seen with mom or dad, wear a costume. It’s Halloween. You can get away with it.
Set a curfew for your older children, and decide on a predetermined route so you’ll know their approximate whereabouts.
Helping ensure safety on Halloween isn’t entirely up to the kids doing the trick-or-treating. If you’re going to be out on the road on Halloween night, keep your eyes peeled and be alert for kids who may be excited about the holiday and out later than usual. Consider slowing your driving down, especially when making your way through suburban neighborhoods. Never assume that a child in a costume can see you. Make sure to also eliminate any distractions while driving so you can better focus on the road, adds the NHTSA.
Being cautious and following these road safety tips may help everyone enjoy the spooky festivities of this ghoulish night. Happy Halloween!
It’s a beautiful day and you’re out for a drive. There’s nothing but open road and blue skies ahead, until…d’oh! A deer. And it’s standing right in the middle of the road, squarely in your car’s path. A split-second reaction is crucial to ensure the safety of the animal on the road and the passengers in your vehicle, while keeping your car intact.
Each year in the U.S. there are between 1 and 2 million collisions involving vehicles and large animals such as moose, deer and elk, according to a study from the Federal Highway Administration. These kinds of crashes almost always involve only one vehicle and typically occur on low-trafficked, straight roadways with dry surfaces.
The good news is, some of these collisions can be prevented. James Solomon, program development and training director at the National Safety Council, offers his tips on how to best handle encounters with wildlife on the road.
1. Know your environment.
Are you in the city or out in the country? Your answer will determine how large the animal you encounter might be. In urban and suburban areas, smaller animals such as dogs, cats and squirrels can sneak in front of your car. In rural areas, keep an eye out for horses and cows that could stray onto the road.
Solomon warns drivers to stay extra cautious when driving in a wooded area where trees are near the roadway — that can signal an increase in the likelihood that animals like foxes and deer could be in close proximity. Also be aware of signs for animal refuges such as petting zoos, game farms, state parks, etc., where animals are likely to roam freely. Areas with horse trails are also potential danger zones.
2. Learn how to “read the road.”
Along with staying focused on the street in front of you, the National Safety Council recommends keeping close tabs on road shoulders. There may be animals nearby that could dart into a driving lane, so stay in the middle lane when possible. Slow down below the posted speed limit in areas where your vision of the side of the road is blocked or limited.
3. Keep your poise.
If you encounter an animal on the road, do not speed up to scare it off the road. Doing so may confuse the animal and cause it to act unpredictably, especially in an unfamiliar setting like a road that’s lit up by a car’s bright headlights. “It may actually result in the animal coming through the windshield,” says Solomon.
Stay calm. “Closing your eyes or taking your hands off the steering wheel are big errors,” says Solomon. “Be prepared to steer out of trouble, preferably to the side of the road, without making a violent stop or hitting an object on the side of the road.”
4. Consider some “bells and whistles.”
Solomon says a bumper-mounted deer whistle that you can find at your local auto parts store may help reduce the chances of a collision. The frequencies of the whistle are inaudible to humans but can be heard by deer, antelope, moose, and other wildlife, warning them of a fast-approaching vehicle. Proper maintenance is important to make sure the whistle functions properly over the long term. “You must clear the whistle hole out after each car wash,” says Solomon.
The bottom line is: Stay alert. Just like many other potential road hazards, animals can be unpredictable. Defensive driving techniques like those detailed above can help you avoid an unfortunate animal encounter.
Tires that are not inflated properly may wear excessively, which is one of the reasons it’s important to know how and when to check your tire pressure. Cars.com says tires with the incorrect pressure may lead to lower gas mileage and negatively impact your car’s handling. Here’s how to check your tire pressure, from finding your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure to filling tires with air.
How to Find the Recommended Tire Pressure
Your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure can typically be found on a sticker inside the driver’s door. It’s also usually listed in the owner’s manual, says Cars.com. Tire pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (psi).
You may also notice that the sidewall of the tires lists a tire pressure. Consumer Reports says this is the maximum tire pressure allowed. You should go with what’s listed on the door sticker or owner’s manual, as this is the ideal tire pressure for your vehicle.
How to Check Tire Pressure
You will need a tire pressure gauge, which you can find at most service stations or auto parts stores. Edmunds states you should check the pressure when the tires are cold, as the friction from driving causes them to heat up and affects the pressure. Check them first thing in the morning or, if you’re already driven the car, Consumer Reports recommends waiting at least three hours for the tires to cool down.
Once you have a tire gauge in hand, Edmunds says this is how to check your tire pressure:
Remove the cap from the air valve on the tire, and put it somewhere you won’t lose it.
Press the tire gauge against the open valve stem for a second or two. It’s normal to hear a hiss of air.
Read the air pressure gauge. For manual gauges, a dial points to the pressure or a bar indicates the pressure by how far it was pushed out. The pressure will appear onscreen on a digital tire gauge.
Compare this number with the recommended tire pressure.
Replace the tire’s air valve cap. (Hold off on this step if you need to adjust the air pressure.)
Repeat this process for each tire.
How to Inflate Your Car’s Tires
If your tires are lower than the manufacturer’s recommendations, follow these steps from Edmunds to inflate the tires:
Park close enough to the air compressor so you can reach all four tires with the hose.
If the valve caps are still on, remove them.
Press the hose nozzle down on the valve stem. Air may flow automatically or you may need to press a lever. You should notice the tire inflating and feel air flowing through the hose.
Remove the hose fitting or release the inflation lever. Check the air pressure, as described above, using the gauge on the hose or your own tire gauge.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 as needed until the tire is inflated to the correct psi.
Repeats steps 3-5 for the vehicle’s other tires.
Once the tires are inflated properly, replace the valve caps.
Tip: If you hear or feel air coming out of the hose nozzle while you’re trying to fill the tire, Cars.com says you should check that it is properly connected to the tire valve stem.
How to Release Air from Tires
You don’t want to have tires that are overinflated, as this can lead to poor handling, says Cars.com. The Family Handyman notes that overinflated tires are more prone to skidding and hydroplaning.
If your tires are reading more than the recommeneded psi, Cars.com recommends the following steps to release air:
Briefly press the small dot or bead on the back of the tire pressure gauge into the center of the valve stem on the tire. You should hear the air escaping the tire.
Use the gauge to check the tire pressure.
Repeat these steps until you’ve released enough air to reach the correct psi.
Tip: As you near the correct pressure, release smaller and smaller amounts of air until you get to the appropriate psi, says Cars.com.
When You Should Check Your Tire Pressure
Tire air pressure should be checked once a month using the same tire gauge, says The Family Handyman. Remember to check when the car has been parked for at least a few hours and the tires are “cold.” Tire pressure can vary 1-2 pounds per square inch (psi) for every 10-degree difference in ambient temperature, says Car Talk — the psi typically rises in the summer heat and drops when it’s cold outside. If you’re in the habit of checking your tires every month, you can adjust the pressure as it fluctuates throughout the seasons.
Your tires are one of the most important parts of your car. They’re literally the place where the rubber meets the road. Regular care and maintenance can be essential to the safe and reliable performance of your vehicle.
There’s a lot to love about autumn — the changing leaves, pumpkin carving, sweater weather — but when it comes to getting behind the wheel of a car, the change in season from summer to fall can add some challenges. With the wetter, frostier conditions, fallen leaves and fewer hours of daylight, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the roads ahead. Here’s a list of a few autumn driving challenges.
In fall, rain is quite common, which can make visibility difficult and may cause hydroplaning. And if it’s an especially chilly day, rain can turn to frost. Be alert, give yourself enough space to stop and avoid breaking suddenly (unless you have to), says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If fog rolls in, use low beams and maintain an appropriate distance between other vehicles, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
School is back in session, which adds more hustle and bustle in the streets — from increased traffic, to school buses frequent stops and pedestrians crossing. Make sure to follow the speed limits and be aware of pedestrians at all times, says NHTSA. And don’t forget: Halloween brings out trick-or-treaters, so be especially alert on Oct. 31.
Loss of Pressure
Temperatures rise and fall during autumn. These changes may cause car tires to expand and contract, which can result in loss of air pressure. Check your tires regularly to make sure they’re properly inflated. Typically, you can find the proper air pressure for your tires, measured in pounds per square inch (psi), in your car’s owner’s manual.
The colors of fall leaves are a beautiful sight to see, but when they’re in piles on the road, it may turn ugly. Soggy leaves can be as slippery as a patch of ice, according to the National Center for Rural Road Safety. They can also camouflage road hazards, like potholes. If you see wet leaves in the street, proceed carefully.
Deer in Route
All fall long, but especially come November, pay attention to animals crossing the road. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, you’re 3.5 times more likely to hit an animal — especially a deer — in November than at any other time of the year. This fall month coincides with deer mating season when bucks are likely to be roaming. Pay attention to “deer crossing” signs and be extra cautious if you’re driving at dusk or dawn, the highest-risk times for deer crashes. If you encounter an animal on the road, try to avoid swerving, says the University of Illinois Extension. Ideally, you’ll want to come to a controlled stop and let the animal pass.
After a long, balmy summer, the shift to fall can feel like a nice break. Soak it up while staying alert to the driving challenges of the season.
Buying a classic car has a certain appeal for some — whether it’s for nostalgic value or the joy of participating in a tight-knit collector community. Even if you’re new to the classic-car world, you’re likely aware that older cars can come with wear and tear or mechanical issues. With some due diligence and preparation, finding the right classic car can be a little easier. If you’re in the market for a classic car, consider these tips before making the purchase:
What to Consider Before Buying a Classic Car
Owning a classic car is different from owning a newer vehicle in some key ways. Here are three important factors you may want to consider before buying a classic car:
First and foremost, you should formulate a budget so you know what you can afford. You should not only budget for the purchase price of the vehicle, but also the cost of maintenance, insurance and potential upgrades.
Maintenance and Body Shop Accessibility
AutoTrader notes that classic cars are older, so maintenance can be more costly. This is because quality parts for a classic car can be scarce, and it may be difficult to find a repair shop that works on classic vehicles. You may want to do some research to see if you can find repair shops that specialize in classic vehicle maintenance in your area. As you shop for a classic car, you may also want to consider any maintenance and repairs that may need to be completed on the vehicle, says CARFAX. You may be able to get some maintenance and parts estimates from specialty body shops so you know what to expect.
Finally, be sure to research market trends, as the cost of a classic car can fluctuate over time. The value of a classic car is usually dependent on the make and model of the vehicle, and how many of them were produced, says U.S. News and World Report. Whether the car is in its original condition or has been restored can also be a determining factor when it comes to price. If you’re looking to purchase a classic car as an investment, remember to do your research and keep these considerations in mind. Online discussion forums for your desired vehicle make, resources such as Hemmings or the National Automobile Dealers Association, and specialty car shops can all be helpful sources of insight and data, says AutoTrader.
Inspection Tips for Classic Cars
A classic car purchase often warrants a closer inspection and a longer test drive than newer models, so you can accurately see how it’s running, says CARFAX. As you shop for your classic car, be prepared to spend some time inspecting each vehicle you look at. In fact, you might even want to consider having a professional inspect the vehicle for body or engine issues and damage. If a seller is ever apprehensive about letting you have someone inspect the vehicle, you may want to think twice about the purchase.
CARFAX says these are some other items you may want to consider before signing on the dotted line:
Ask about the car’s history and if the current owner has any maintenance records.
Request the VIN number so you can run a search of the vehicle’s history (such as those offered by CARFAX or Experian).
Inquire about accident and repair history (a vehicle history report can help).
Carefully consider the car’s condition, history, mileage, maintenance costs and related factors when negotiating a final purchase price. For example, Men’s Journal says the lower the mileage, the higher the value will be, but issues like rust should be taken into consideration.
How to Insure a Classic Car
Traditional car insurance may not always be an available option, or the right option, for a classic car. Consider whether classic car insurance is an option for your collector vehicle. This type of specialty insurance can usually provide a greater reimbursement value for a classic car if your’e in an accident. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some classic car insurance policies may require you to limit the amount of miles you drive each year. When you find a classic car that you’re interested in purchasing, it’d be a good idea to consult with your insurance agent to talk about your options.
Buying and owning a classic car can be a fun experience, but requires some extra research and responsibility. Taking an informed approach to the purchase and maintenance of a classic vehicle may help you make a rewarding investment that you can enjoy for years to come.
If you’ve been driving for awhile, you’re probably used to encountering occasional potholes on the road — including some that can be rather large. You know that potholes can create an unpleasant and bumpy ride, but did you know that they may also cause damage to your vehicle? The tips below can help you learn how to handle potholes safely and may even minimize the impact they can have on your car.
What Causes Potholes?
Many potholes are caused when water seeps into soil under the pavement and then freezes and thaws, weakening the road. This may cause the pavement to crack, which, when combined with the weight of vehicles driving over the road, eventually turns these weak areas into potholes, says the Summit County Engineer in Ohio. Because of the role freezing temperatures can play in pothole formation, severe winter weather can often lead to the creation of potholes.
How Can I Safely Handle Them?
If you live in an area with lots of potholes, knowing what you can do to help safely maneuver around them is key. First, you should maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you so it’s easier to spot potholes ahead, says Accuweather. You should also use caution when approaching puddles of water as they could really be potholes in hiding. If you can’t avoid hitting a pothole, says Accuweather, slow down before you hit it and firmly grip the wheel to help avoid losing control of your vehicle.
To potentially minimize the impact that hitting a pothole can have on your car, ensure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended level, suggests Consumer Reports — an under-inflated tire may not have enough resistance to withstand the impact of a pothole. Lastly, you should ensure your car’s suspension is in good condition, recommends Accuweather. It may be a good idea to have a mechanic help you confirm this.
What Kind of Car Damage Can Potholes Cause?
In addition to causing damage to the tire itself, potholes may cause alignment or suspension problems to your vehicle. Below are some signs that your car may have sustained damage after hitting a pothole, according to Accuweather and Consumer Reports:
One or more deflated tires
Severe cracks or bulges in the tires
Dents in the wheel rims
The vehicle shaking and pulling to the left or right, which could indicate an alignment problem
Fluid leaks, which may mean your undercarriage is damaged
Odd noises coming from the exhaust system
If you notice any of these issues, you may want to take your car to a repair facility to have a professional check it for damage as soon as possible. If the pothole did cause damage to your vehicle, it may be a good idea to call your insurance agent to see if your auto policy might help cover some of the repair costs.
Some potholes are unavoidable, but learning how to safely handle them on the road may help you save money and frustration down the road. The next time you see a pothole ahead, remember to slow down, and call your mechanic right away if you notice any subsequent issues with your vehicle. It might also be a good idea to notify your city or county transportation authorities so they are aware of potholes that need to be filled.
Changing a flat tire can certainly be an inconvenience, but it’s also manageable if you’re prepared with the right tools and know-how. Fixing a flat is something every driver should know how to do.
Knowing these basic steps can help you get back on the road and potentially avoid an emergency.
Put Wheel Wedges in Place
Remove the Hubcap
Loosen the Lug Nuts
Raise the Car
Remove the Lug Nuts and Flat Tire
Mount the Spare Tire in Place
Tighten the Lug Nuts
Lower the Car
Steps for Changing a Flat Tire
If you have a flat, stop somewhere safe. The best area is away from traffic, on a flat, firm surface — not somewhere that has grass or soft dirt — and not on a blind spot or curve, advises Consumer Reports. Be sure to engage the parking brake (sometimes called the emergency brake) and turn on your hazard lights, even during the day, to help other drivers see you, Cars.com says.
After you’ve stopped safely, you may want to review your owner’s manual. The Humble Mechanic states that these manuals typically have great information about changing a tire on your car.
You’ll typically need the following tools to change the wheel:
Portable tire inflator
Once you have the appropriate tools ready, follow the standard steps described below to change the flat tire:
1. Put Wheel Wedges in Place
Wheel wedges, also known as chocks or wheel blocks, are triangles made of a sturdy material that you wedge under tires to help prevent a car from rolling. They go against the front and back of the tire that’s diagonally across from the one you need to change, according to Cars.com.
2. Remove the Hubcap
As you begin the process of removing the tire, The Humble Mechanic cautions that the hubcap, lug nuts and tire may be hot to the touch due to the friction created while the car was moving — you may want to wait a few minutes until they cool down.
If your hubcap does not have screws, use the flat end of your lug wrench to pop it off, says Popular Mechanics. If your hubcap has screws, undo them and remove the hubcap. (Check your owner’s manual if you’re not sure what kind of hubcap you have or how to remove it.)
3. Loosen the Lug Nuts
Lug nuts are pieces of metal that are screwed onto the bolts that hold wheels in place. Use your lug wrench and loosen — but do not remove — the lug nuts, Pep Boys advises. Do this while the car is still on the ground, as the lug nuts may be on so tight that you have to use your body weight to loosen them, according to CNN. Keep in mind that if you have wheel locks on the tires, you may need to use a special adapter to remove them.
4. Raise the Car
Look at the car’s owner manual to find out where to put the jack, says Popular Mechanics. These are called jack points, and they are often indicated by a notch in your vehicle’s chassis or frame. Using the right jack location helps increase stability and may minimize the chances of damaging your car, Popular Mechanics adds. Slowly turn the jack handle clockwise to raise the car, keeping in mind that you need enough space to put on the inflated spare tire.
5. Remove the Lug Nuts and Flat Tire
Once the car is up on the jack, remove the lug nuts and put them somewhere close by, suggests Popular Mechanics. Putting them in your upturned hubcap is a good trick so they don’t roll around and get lost. Then remove the flat tire by giving it a good pull, the site says.
6. Mount the Spare Tire in Place
Put your spare tire on the wheel by lining it up with the wheel studs — which are the threaded fasteners you put lug nuts on to secure the wheel — according to Popular Mechanics.
7. Tighten the Lug Nuts
Replace the lug nuts. Tighten them by hand but don’t use the lug wrench while the wheel is in the air, Popular Mechanics warns, as this may cause the car to fall off the jack.
8. Lower the Car
Slowly lower the car by turning the jack counter-clockwise, says Popular Mechanics. Once the wheels are touching the ground, you can remove the jack, Pep Boys advises.
9. Tighten Again
Get your lug wrench and give the lug nuts a final tighten in a crisscross pattern as described in your owner’s manual, Popular Mechanics advises. Popular Mechanics warns that not tightening them fully may create an unsafe situation.
Keep in mind that temporary spares, which are smaller than standard tires, are truly meant to be temporary, Cars.com says. Most manufacturers recommend driving slower than 55 mph and fewer than 100 miles on a temporary spare tire.
If you encounter a problem while changing a tire, contact a professional for help. Additionally, if you would not feel comfortable changing a tire on your own, you may want to consider joining a roadside assistance plan and keeping the contact information handy in case of emergency.
Safety Tips for Changing Tires
1. Keep Your Tools Handy
Keep all the tools you need for changing a flat tire in the trunk of your car, suggests Popular Mechanics. You never know when the next flat will happen.
2. Periodically Check Your Spare Tire
Your owner’s manual should have directions and safety precautions for your spare tire, Pep Boys says. Use a tire pressure gauge to check the spare, suggests Cars.com. Most temporary or “compact” spares should be inflated to about 55 to 60 pounds of air. If your gauge won’t read pressure that high, have a professional check for you.
Practice a few times in your driveway or some other safe space with plenty of room, Consumer Reports advises. That way, you may feel more confident when you need to change a tire on the road.
Knowing how to change a flat tire is a useful skill to have in an emergency and may help you from getting stranded on the road.
Here are some common reasons why you may want to consider roadside assistance and how to stay safe if your car is broken down on the side of the road.
Most cars have a spare tire in the trunk or mounted on the back. It likely even has a small jack and tire iron. If you know how, changing a flat tire yourself is generally quick and easy, as long as you can do so safely. If you’ve never done it before, then you probably won’t want to try learning once you’re stranded. Flat tires are one of the most common reasons to contact roadside assistance.
Need a Tow
If you break down or are in an accident, you’ll need to get your car off the road and into a repair shop. Sometimes a one-time tow may be pricey if you haven’t done your research. You also don’t want to try and find a towing company while you’re broken down. Consider contacting your insurance provider if you think you require a tow. They’ll make sure to send a trustworthy company to your location.
Jumper cables are a key component in a car emergency kit. Make sure you know how to use the jumper cables properly. If you’re alone and need to jump start your car, you should call for help. Never flag down another motorist, which could be dangerous, says Consumer Reports. If your battery is completely dead or you haven’t stored your jumper cables properly, even the cables might not work, says AutoGuides.com.
Locked Out or Dead Key Fob Battery
Most cars come with two keys or key fobs. Naturally, giving your spare key or key fob to a loved one or keeping it in your home can be helpful in this situation as you can contact your friend or spouse and wait for them. But, if you’re far away, don’t have time to get a new key fob battery or need to get into your vehicle more quickly, contacting roadside assistance might be your best bet. If you don’t have roadside assistance already, some companies may provide help without signing up in advance.
Out of Gas
For safety reasons, you should not keep a filled gas can in your vehicle, says the National Agricultural Safety Database. Having an empty gas can may come in handy, but you have to get from your car to a gas station and back. Most basic roadside services include fuel delivery because running out of gas is a common problem for motorists. Keep in mind that in most cases, the gas is provided at cost to the customer.
Car Breakdown Safety Tips
Whether you’re broken down because of a flat tire or an accident, you should keep the following safety tips in mind from the Insurance Information Institute and Consumer Reports:
Pull your car over to the side of the road or shoulder as soon as it is safe to do so.
Turn on your car’s hazard lights and put out your emergency reflector triangles, if you have them, to help alert other drivers.
Don’t attempt to repair your vehicle on a busy highway.
If you’re able to safely walk to another location, leave a note on the windshield of your car with your phone number, lock your car and call for assistance once you’re in a safe location.
If you cannot walk to a safe location, stay in your car with the doors locked and your seat belt fastened. Call for assistance and wait for them to arrive.
Roadside assistance may not be as expensive as you might think, but be sure you understand exactly what is included in your plan to ensure you have the right coverage. You may not need roadside assistance often, but you’ll be glad you invested in it if a problem arises.