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Fall will be upon us before you know it, and with that is getting prepared for the challenging driving conditions that come with living in Edmonton!
Fuel Consumption Soars in cold weather – sometimes by as much as 50%. That’s hard on your wallet and hard on the environment
Warm Up By Driving
Once a vehicle is running, the best way to warm it up is to drive it. With computer-controlled, fuel-injected engines, you need no more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days before driving away. Anything more simply wastes fuel.
Besides, more than the engine needs to be warmed up. So do the wheel bearings, steering, transmission and tires, and that can only happen when the vehicle is moving. For a typical vehicle, it takes at least 5 km of driving to warm everything up.
Although it is important to drive away as soon as possible after a cold start (but not before the windows are defrosted), you should avoid high speeds and rapid acceleration for the first 5 kilometres or so. The goal is to bring the whole car up to peak operating temperature as quickly as possible while maximizing fuel economy.
Use an automatic timer to switch on your block heater two hours before you plan to drive your vehicle. This is all the time needed to warm the engine.
Snow and vehicle weight.
You already know that extra weight increases fuel consumption. Snow building up in wheel wells and under bumpers adds weight and rubs against tires, further increasing rolling resistance. And snow piled on top of the vehicle increases drag and vehicle weight. For safety as well as fuel economy, clear snow off your vehicle before you drive away.
To prevent your windows from fogging up, open a window as soon as you enter the vehicle. Clear snow from the air intake on top of the hood. Otherwise, the defroster will draw moisture into the system and fog the windshield.
Your tires need special attention during winter. Cold temperatures decrease the air pressure in tires. Each tire that is under-inflated by 2 psi (14kPa) causes a 1% increase in fuel consumption. Check tire pressures regularly, and especially after a sharp drop in temperature. Before adding air to your tires let some air out of each valve and blow some air out of the hose. This prevents moisture from gathering in the valve, where it can freeze and cause the valve to leak. If possible use your own tire gauge, since the gauges built into air pumps are often inaccurate or missing.
Snow Tires vs. All Season Radials
For some Canadian drivers, all-season tires are sufficient for winter driving. Tires that do not have the ‘3 peaked mountain snowflake symbol’ may provide safe performance in most weather conditions, but are not designed for snow or ice-covered roads. If your roads are regularly snow-covered, snow tires will improve traction, reduce slippage and improve safety and save fuel. All-season tires do not provide the same grip below -15° C.
Take It Easy
One last tip for winter driving – take it easy. The more your vehicle slips and slides and spins its wheels, the more fuel you waste and the more you increase the chance of an accident. And we can all do with a little less stress!!
Pack your car with safety and convenience
Anyone who has ever packed a car for a road trip knows that loading properly lies somewhere between science and art. As the last item is loaded, you can judge your packing success by how accessible items are as the kids ask them
Loading your car safely doesn’t mean stuffing everything but the kitchen sink into the trunk and hoping for the best. Proper loading requires careful planning and a lot of common sense.
Consider the following:
Can your vehicle handle the load
This is very important to consider, especially when pulling a trailer. If you’re not sure how much your vehicle can handle, ask your automotive technician for advice. Overloading can affect your car’s handling, stability and could damage your suspension.
Preparing your vehicle for the road ahead
- A tune-up is in order, especially for long excursions. The last thing you want on vacation is a breakdown that could have been prevented by simple maintenance
- Make sure your brakes are in good working order. Having that extra load in your trunk or with a trailer, will demand more from your brake system
- Make sure your headlights are property adjusted. Loading your trunk can cause the front end of your vehicle to raise slightly. You don’t want to blind oncoming drivers.
- First and foremost, plan your packing! You don’t want the kids’ toys and travel games underneath the luggage. Ensure that items you will need along the way are easily accessible (this includes the spare tire, jack and first aid kit)!
- If you own a vehicle like a station wagon or mini-van, with an open cargo area, make sure none of the items packed could become dangerous projectiles in the event of an abrupt stop.
- Visibility is essential – don’t overfill and limit the driver’s ability to see out of the windows.
A checklist is extremely valuable before you hit the road. Here are a few items you may want to add to your own personal list
- Make sure the spare tire is properly inflated
If you have a lot of stuff to pack, a small travel trailer might be a good idea
- Consider using a car-top carrier. But remember that loading up top will alter your vehicle’s handling. Be careful around bends in the road and when taking sharper turns. Make sure that you follow the manufacturers instructions. Securely fasten all latches and knobs when transporting. Pack roof top boxes with the concentration of the weight in the middle. Periodically remove the carrier for cleaning, lubrication and inspection.
- When transporting anything on top of your vehicle, always be aware of overhead clearance. Make sure all mounting points are securely fastened.
- If the 2-door hatchback you own just isn’t going to handle the family, the dog and all the luggage, consider renting a larger vehicle for your trip. It could take a great deal of unnecessary frustration out of your vacation. Contact your local AMA club for great car rental rates.
Leaves, twigs and other organic matter can cause havoc with gutters on your house—and the same on your vehicle. Quite often when we open and hoods on vehicles, we see the air plenum (or called air cowl) below your windshield built up with this debris. This can cause all sorts of concerns. First, this will eventually plug your Heating / Air Conditioning drain tube. The drain tube vents all the moisture and condensation in the HVAC system. Also, you will receive less air movement from your air vents because of the clogged air plenum. So, open your hood and check the vents under the windshield. It only takes a few minutes to clean.
Spring is in full swing and summer is just around the corner. Here are a few things that we like to do to make sure your vehicle is in the best shape possible.
1. Find out if you need an oil change and check your fluids
Your engine in your vehicle does the same job as the muscles in your body. You wouldn’t think to starve your muscles. How would you get anywhere? Well, that goes the same for the engine in your vehicle – and the rest of the systems that need fluids! Don’t starve it of clean oil! If you don’t know how to check the fluids, we’ll show you!
2. Change or rotate your tires
Your front tires do all the steering and cornering. This adds tremendous wear to the edges of the tires. You could have plenty of tread in the middle and nothing on the edges. If you don’t want to buy 2 tires every 2 years, you should be rotating them front to back every 10,000 to 12,000 km.
3. Clean Your Car Interior
Okay, winter is now over and you haven’t cleaned the interior. Trust me, I know it’s harder to clean it when it’s -20c. I now will provide you with three reasons to get it done pronto.
- Prevent Excess Wear and Tear. When you neglect to clean the inside of your car, your vehicle’s interior surfaces could start to develop excess wear and tear.
- Avoid Health Issues. Whenever you get behind the wheel of your car, you will enter a closed environment. If your vehicle is filled with dust and dirt, these particles could create poor air quality in the interior of your vehicle. Keeping the interior of your car clean will help you avoid allergies and other problems that can be associated with poor indoor air quality. By reducing stress, a clean car interior can also promote your mental health, as well.
- Increase Driving Safety. If your car’s windshield, windows, and side mirrors are covered in grime or debris, they will affect your ability to see your surroundings as you drive.
4. Inspect Your Wiper Blades
There is nothing more dangerous than trying to drive a vehicle in the rain, and the wiper blades are smearing, streaking or chattering. In this country, they don’t last long. Get your visibility back to 100%.
5. Inspect Your Brakes
You really don’t want to find out that your vehicles’ brake system isn’t working 100% on your first road trip or vacation. The hot weather could cause a new set of problems than winter. I recommend you enjoy the open road and hot weather stress-free. The cost of missing a vacation or trip could be huge!
At Access Automotive we do a 50-point spring inspection along with your oil change to keep your car from developing any unexpected concerns, keeping your long-term repair bills lower and helping to prevent the inconvenience of a break-down on your summer road trip.
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In the last few years you may have noticed a trend of vehicles with the wiper arms flipped up when freezing weather is expected.
Every time I see a vehicle with the arms up, I ask myself “What’s the point?”. The basic premise is that by lifting your wiper arms, you are preventing the wiper blade from freezing to the windshield.
But the vehicle has a defrost mode to heat the windshield with. Maybe it’s easier to clean the snow/ice of the wiper blades. Okay valid point. But here is my view on this.
1. The manufacturer never intended for the arms to stay up for a long period of time. So eventually the springs will weaken. Check your vehicles manual….nada.
2. Damaged windshield. Ever see a wiper snap back to the windshield? Scary. It’s just dangerous because, on a windy day, the arm can snap down with enough force to crack your windshield.
3. It just looks silly….