Important Items to Keep in Your Car

car-organizerMaybe you are one of those people who know all the things that they need to have in their cars. Quite a good number don’t know what they need and some don’t care. No matter how well you maintain your automobile, things could go wrong anytime, especially when you least expect things to go wrong. There’re a lot of things that you could carry in your car when you are traveling. Different people will suggest different things that you should carry. If you listen to everyone, you’ll end up carrying almost all your home accessories and all your workshop tools in your car. This article will help you to know the most important things that you need to carry and why you need those things.

Bottled Water

Before you set off for a trip, fill a few bottles with clean water for drinking. Alternatively, buy a couple of clean water bottles from your nearest supermarket or a trusted shop. This is one of the things you should not forget. This will help to keep you well hydrated as you drive. You need to make sure that you drink about two liters (8-ounce glasses) per day. This water is not only meant to keep you hydrated but it could be used in many different ways depending on the situations that you may encounter on your way. For example, you may want to clean your hands at some point.

First Aid Kit

You can buy first aid kits as a package which is already assembled or you can assemble one for yourself. You could also buy a ready package then you top it up with things that you feel are very important. Whichever route you take, ensure that you have the following in your kit:

  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Sterile absorbent packets
  • Sterile pads
  • Tweezers and scissors
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Disposable gloves
  • Roller bandages
  • Non-glass/non-mercury thermometer
  • First aid booklet

It is advisable to add more items which are relevant to you or your family. For example, for Asthma patients, you may want to add Asmol, Ventolin (Albuterol), or Airomir inhaler (consult your doctor). Do not wait to read the first aid booklet until you are in trouble. Read it in advance. You can also go ahead and take an online first aid course!

Fire Extinguisher

car-fire-extinguisherIf you take good care of your automobile, you don’t expect fire, at least not in your car. Regular car maintenance will do a good job to keep you away from fire outbreaks. However, in an accident good maintenance or expecting no fire won’t do you any good. You need to have a fire extinguisher that can extinguish fires that are caused by flammable liquids such as fuel, as well as fires caused by electrical fault. For personal car, 2lb/1kg to 5lb/2.3kg cylinder would be enough; you don’t want to stuff your car with extinguishers. Always service the fire extinguisher; at least as often as you service your vehicle.

Fully charged phone

It is a good practice to charge your phone at night when you are not using it, such that you always have your phone fully charged every morning before you go to your work place. You should also have a charging cable and a power-bank device in your car which can charge your phone in case the battery goes low. In addition to this, you should have another phone (it doesn’t have to be Smart) which is fully charged and switched off. This comes in handy when you are in trouble and all the above options have failed. Switching off ensures that it takes the longest possible time before discharging. This phone shouldn’t have passwords and should always be in your car.

Jumper Cables

jumper-cablesThese are two insulated copper cables (usually red and black) with crocodile clips at the ends. If, for some reason, your car battery goes low when you are in the middle of nowhere, it will be easy to get help from a Good Samaritan. Using these cables, you tap power from the Good Samaritan’s car battery and that will help you to bring your car back to life. You could also be the Good Samaritan, but don’t give away your cables! They should always be in your car, unless you know what you’re doing.

Cash

Set aside some good amount of money and hide it safely in your car. This money should only be used during emergencies and not normal day to day activities. The actual amount varies widely depending on your status; otherwise any value from $100 to $1000 could turn out to be very helpful some day. There is no need to keep more money in your car than you can manage or maintain. You don’t want to keep thinking about the amount of money which is hidden in your car.

Spare Tire

This should be well inflated and in good condition (ready for use). Spare tires usually go hand in hand with car/tire jack. You should know how to change the tire otherwise carrying these things may not help you. Under this category, also carry a small pressure gauge, a tire inflator, car manual, gloves and a tire sealer (fix-a-flat). These items will help to keep you on the road in the event of an accident or an incident involving the tires.

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Reflective Triangles

These triangles are also called hazard triangles. They are usually made of red reflective material. You should have at least three of these. If your vehicle develops a problem by the road, on a straight two lane highway, you normally switch on the 4-way emergency flasher lights then place one of the hazard triangles about 10 feet on the traffic side of the vehicle (behind) and the other two about 100 feet away from the vehicle; one in front and the other one behind the vehicle. All this should be done within 10 minutes (check with your local traffic rules).

Multi-tool

You don’t have to carry a whole toolbox in your car, but at least you need a multi-tool. This is an all in one tool that contains assorted tools assembled as a single compact tool. A good example is Ganzo G302B which is a 16cm long compact tool having 12 pieces of different screw driver heads, pliers, knife, saw, scissors and others; all as one package. If you don’t want to carry a tool box, at least you should have this tool.

So there are 9 important things to carry? Of course there are many other things you could add in your car. Things like blanket, spare bulb, spare fuses, magnetic flashlight, and fuel siphon pump. Feel free to add as much as you want but make sure that you remain organized, utilizing the least space possible. You can purchase a few boxes or fire resistant bags to keep related items organized and in one place. When you are doing your regular maintenance, be sure to remove things that you no longer need or add things that have become very important.

Automobile Maintenance Essentials

auto-maintenanceYour car is one of the most important properties that you own. It is your time machine that quickly moves you from point A to point B. Whether you have a self driving car or you drive it yourself, you risk your life and the life of others by getting inside this machine; anything deadly could happen while you are moving from one point to another! This is where proper maintenance comes in handy. Maintenance involves a number of inspection and servicing activities that makes your car systems and subsystems more reliable, safer to use and have a prolonged life. In addition, proper maintenance will make you enjoy the ride. You will feel comfortable and confident, and your friends will want to know the tricks that you use to keep your car in good condition. Car maintenance should be done regularly. Do not wait until you get in trouble.

In car maintenance, there are those things you should do yourself and there are those things that you should let your mechanic do. Quite a good number of car owners don’t want to get involved in any car maintenance activity. They want to leave everything for the mechanic to do, including refilling the wiper fluid! Getting involved in car maintenance will give you a deeper understanding of your car. You will be surprised how much knowledge you will gain out of performing simple maintenance exercises. In this article, we shall discuss some of the major maintenance activities that you can do. We shall also point out the activities that should be done by a mechanic. We considered the following as the most important maintenance tips.

PLANNING

This is one of the most important things in car maintenance. It is easier to do maintenance to your brand new vehicle than to do maintenance the one you’ve had for the last five years. For you to keep doing regular maintenance, you need to have a plan. Set aside the time that you will be performing regular checkups and simple servicing. You can look for a Smartphone application that reminds you to perform maintenance. A simple application like the ColorNote for Android can do the job. Ideally, you can be checking your car every evening and have it washed thoroughly and waxed by a helper. This way, your car will always be clean and it will be taking you less than a day to detect a hidden fault.

READ THE MANUFACTURERS MANUAL

car-owners-manual

Before you start any maintenance activity, you need to read the car manual from your manufacturer! Well, what if it got lost, or you just don’t have one? You can just search for one online. Actually, you may find some interesting professional sites that have covered your car manual in details, better than your original hard copy. This is an example of such a site [http://independentmotors.net/find-owners-service-manual-car/]. To put it simply, when you are reading the manual, be sure to pick up the dos, the don’ts and the how-to’s.

OBSERVATION AND INFERENCE

This is the easiest of all. Simply pay attention to small details every time you are using your car. Listen to sounds. Any sound that is not familiar (noise) is an alert telling you that there is a problem in your system. For example, a knocking sound under the hood could mean your engine has a problem in ignition timing or it is overheating. If you ask an ordinary mechanic (question-and-answer oriented), s/he may just tell you to use a higher octane fuel. Do not be quick to consult just anyone who claims to be a mechanic. Take your car to a professional mechanic for a thorough check up. You may discover that the problem was a rare case which could not have been discovered by a question-and-answer mechanic. Besides listening, you need to take a close look at your car. Stop in a well lit environment, let your car cool down and then go round checking for anything that looks abnormal. One of the things that you may realize is that your car needs to be washed, or those tires are worn out, or your kid scratched the body. Then you know the measures to take; which doesn’t include beating your kid. In addition, you need to pay attention to scents. For example, you may detect a smell of burning oil coming from your vehicle. This could be an oil leak from the exhaust. Note it down in your Smartphone application since it needs to be checked and corrected. In simple terms, pay attention to things that you can see, touch, hear and smell. Here, of all the five senses, do not use the sense of taste.

ONBOARD DIAGNOSTICS

auto-warning-lights

These are visual and audio instrumental warnings which are usually located at the dashboard. These are simply actuators that are connected to different car sensors through a micro-controller. They alert the user when a certain sensor sends a fault signal from the vehicle subsystem. For example, there is a temperature sensor attached to your engine such that if it starts to overheat, the sensor will record a temperature within the overheating temperature range. You will then be alerted by a lighting LED on the dashboard. That specific LED may be labeled “Engine Overheating”. It is easy to get used to onboard instrumental warnings and eventually not pay attention to them. Seek to know the meaning of all those instrumentation warnings. Your Owner’s Manual will tell you what each light and warning means.

CHECK FLUIDS

Before you do any fluid checkups, always make sure that your vehicle is parked on a level ground and it is allowed to cool. Check the wiper fluid and make sure it is almost full; it doesn’t have to be full. Most folks don’t think of this as an important activity until a huge bird poops on their windshield when they’re driving fast. After refilling, wipe out the excess fluid spillage and leave the container looking clean. The other fluid to check is oil level. Whether your car uses an electronic gauge or a normal dipstick, you need to know how to check oil level yourself. If your car uses electronic gauge, you need to read the instructions for use in your owner’s manual.

If it uses dipstick, this is how you check the oil level [http://www.dummies.com/home-garden/car-repair/how-to-check-your-vehicles-oil-level/]. Dipstick tells you more than just oil level. A close look at the oil, you may notice some small shinny particles. This means that your engine is experiencing an abnormal wear. You might also find that the oil has become dark. Make sure it is changed. These guidelines are helpful but they should not be taken as question-and-answer. Coolant is another fluid that you should check. Ensure you have read the manufacturers manual about how to deal with coolant fluid. When you are checking the coolant level, do not open the cap. You could get burnt.  These are the steps that you can take to check your coolant level [https://www.openbay.com/blog/how-to-check-your-cars-coolant-level/]. As you do these checkups, be keen to notice if there were initial leaks. After the exercise, leave the subsystem involved cleaner than you found it. Checking fluids levels is something that you can do yourself without a mechanic. However, there are fluids such as hydraulic fluid for power steering, which I would suggest that you let your mechanic check.

THE BATTERY

car-batteries

This is a very important subsystem of your vehicle. Check your manufacturer’s manual to see where the battery is located. First, make sure it is clean and that it is well tightened. If not, then you have to remove the battery first so that you can clean it easily and thoroughly. This means that you need tools and protective gears. Yes, tools like spanner (depending on your bolt size) and protective gears such as groves. It also means that you may encounter some sparks but you don’t have to be scared. To remove the battery, you need to do it in a specific order:

  • Loosen then remove the negative terminal (black).
  • Loosen then remove the positive terminal (red).
  • Check to see that there are no leaks. Clean all the terminals using a brush. Do not clean the battery using water! You can use cotton wool or soft brush to clean or brush around the body of the battery. To return the battery back to its position, you need to follow the same order but in reverse:
  • Connect the positive terminal and tighten it just enough
  • Connect the negative terminal and tighten it just enough

What if I don’t follow these rules? You may get yourself in trouble in case the positive terminal touches the vehicle body, which is negative.

AIR FILTER

Check the two air filters: the cabin air filter and the engine air filter. The first one filters the air getting to you from the outside world, while the second one filters the air from the outside world to the engine. Change them regularly to have fresh ride and a healthy engine. Changing air filters is simple but always refer to the manufacturer’s manual about how filters should be changed and how often. Depending on your driving environment, time to change these filters may vary.

Auto Insurance

very-safe-car

We all have to have insurance on our vehicles whether it be car or motorcycle or big rig. The monthly or annual cost of auto insurance is an oft complained about expense … well, until you wreck your car! Then you find out that it is certainly worth all that money you paid in over all those years if for no other reason that it keeps you out of jail. Because, you see, driving without insurance is illegal in most states. So if you have a wreck, even if it is not your fault, and you are not insured you could be arrested on the spot.

The minimum amount of insurance you must carry to be “street legal” varies from state to state, but all states require you to maintain coverage in the following areas:

  • Bodily injury liability
  • Property damage liability
  • Personal injury protection (not in all states)
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection (not in all states)

auto-insurance

Are State Minimum Coverages Enough?

A subject of much and lengthy debate. It really boils down to how much risk you are personally willing to take. For example, let’s say you are in Texas. Your required minimum coverages are $30,000 bodily injury liability per person, $60,000 bodily injury liability per accident, and $25,000 property damage liability per accident.

But let’s say you get t-boned by an uninsured drunk driver. In this example you only got the minimum coverages to be able to drive your car and nothing more. So now here you are, car totaled, you’re hospitalized for 2 weeks, and the guy at fault not only has nothing to cover your expenses for you, he’s in jail because it’s his 3rd DUI. So that leaves you covering all of your own expenses. And the state required minimum coverage is not close to being enough to take care of you and all your bills while you recover from this wreck.

So in this case, it would have been well worth the extra money out of pocket up front to have coverage under uninsured motorist and for the highest amount you can comfortably afford.

car-crash

8 Myths About Auto Insurance Debunked

  1. Your credit score has nothing to do with car or motorcycle insurance cost.
    1. Sadly, this is a myth. Insurance companies claim that checking your credit gives them insight as to how well you currently manage your financial affairs. Most insurers do factor in your credit score when pricing your auto insurance.
  2. Car color is a factor in cost of insurance.
    1. Myth! What you pay for insurance is based on make, model, body type, engine size, the age of the vehicle and the age, driving record and credit history of the driver. Premiums are also based, in part, on the car’s sticker price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record, and the likelihood of theft.
  3. Your insurance will cover you if your car is stolen, vandalized or damaged by falling tree limbs, hail, flood or fire.
    1. Not necessarily. When you buy a new car the lender requires you to have comprehensive and collision coverage which covers all of the above scenarios. However, most people tend to let this coverage go as they pay off the vehicle and as the car ages. You don’t need to pay $500 a year in coverage for a car or truck that’s only worth $1,000. But that does mean you won’t be covered if any of the above happens to your car.
  4. The state required minimum is all the insurance you need.
    1. Almost never. Most consumer watchdog groups recommend you have a minimum of $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident.
  5. The older you get, the more your insurance costs.
    1. Not usually. Most people over 55 years old can qualify for lower insurance rates by completing an accident prevention course (also known as a defensive driving course). Thes are most commonly offered by AAA and AARP and can get you a 10% discount on your annual policy rate. Also, if you are retired or only work part-time, you can get a discount just because you drive fewer miles every month.
  6. If other people drive your car, their auto insurance will cover them in the event of an accident.
    1. Not usually. In most states, the insurance policy covering the vehicle is considered the primary insurance, which means that the car owner’s insurance company must pay for damages caused by an accident, regardless of who is driving.
  7. Our military pays high auto insurance premiums than civilians
    1. Thankfully, this is a myth! If you are a soldier sailor or marine, shop around. Different insurers give better discounts than others to those of you that protect our country. You would only need to provide paperwork that shows your name, rank and dates of service to qualify.
  8. Your current auto policy covers you and your car for both personal and business use.
    1. Nope. So please be careful! If you are self-employed and use your car for business, personal auto insurance may not protect you. While commercial auto insurance can be more costly than a personal policy, you will want to pay the additional premium than to be denied a claim because you got rear-ended while driving to our from a business meeting.

get-auto-insurance

Auto Insurance Summary

Since you are required to have insurance on your vehicle to drive in most states in the U.S., you might as well make sure you are getting the proper amount of coverage at the best possible rate and with the lowest deductible you can afford. There are several websites dedicated to comparing rates from multiple companies all at once with you only having to enter your information once.

It’s worth the time, and a little bit of effort on your part, to shop around.

If you take nothing else valuable out of this blog post, please know that driving without any insurance is a risk that most people cannot afford. See my example above if you are not certain about this.

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