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February 2014
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4 entries from March 2014

Cars in the Mist: Tips for Driving in the Fog

Driving in the fog
Photo: iStock

I was reading on CBC the other day about how most of southern Manitoba kicked off the first day of spring shrouded in fog.

Not a great way to begin the season, but spring is often a misty time of year; so as the earth warms up and loosens its icy, icy grip on us all, I thought that some driving in the fog safety tips might be in order.

  1. Before heading out in the fog, be sure your mirrors and windows are as clear and clean as possible. Use your defroster if necessary to get a clear view.

  2. Leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you in case the car ahead brakes suddenly.

  3. Try not to drift - use the right edge of the road as a guide, rather than the centre line. This can help you avoid drifting into oncoming traffic or being blinded by oncoming lights.

  4. Use your low beam headlights rather than high beams, which actually reflect off the fog, making visibility even worse. If your vehicle is equipped with fog lights, make sure those are on as well.

  5. Gorillas aren't the only things lurking in the mist. Keep an eye out for cyclists, rogue pedestrians, dogs, cats and other critters, especially in residential areas.

  6. Don't get cocky and speed up if the fog lifts a little. Stay cautious and do not speed up too quickly, as you may just be propelling yourself in other another patch of dense fog ahead.

  7. Avoid distractions; keep the music low or off, don't snack on anything and no phone calls.

  8. If you're braking or turning, begin to signal a little earlier than usual, to give the people around you a head's up on your next move.

  9. If the fog becomes too dense to drive safely, pull all the way over to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers that you're there.

Do you have any tips for safe driving in the fog? Leave them in the comments!

- Rose R.

The Spring Tire Switch - Storing Your Winter Tires

Tire storage

Spring is fast approaching and if those snowstorms back east finally give it a rest, you'll be swapping out your winter tires soon (fingers crossed!)

After a winter like we've had, you'll want to take some extra time to store your winter tires properly, in order to prolong their life (and help save you money).

Here are some FAQ about tire storage.

How should I prepare my tires for storage?

  1. Thoroughly clean the winter grime from your tires and make sure to remove any brake dust, which can be corrosive. If your tires are mounted on wheels, be sure to clean the wheels as well with a cleaner approved for use with that type of wheel.

  2. Make sure your tires are completely dry. Then, seal each tire up in an opaque plastic bag, removing as much air as possible (some folks use a vacuum cleaner to get the air out).

  3. Be sure and mark each tire bag with the tire's original position (Front Left, Back Right, etc.), so that you can replace or rotate your tires come next winter. Now your tires are ready for storage!

How should I store my tires?

It's always best to stack your tires rather of resting them on the tread - resting them on the tread can create flat spots. You can store your wrapped tires on the floor and stack them up to four high.

Where should I store my tires?

Any cool dry space will do - ideally you'll be able to store them indoors where the temperature and humidity level is controlled and they won't be in the sun.

You should also try not to store your tires near any appliance with an electric motor, like a furnace or hot water heater. These motors produce ozone, which can be very bad for tires.

More tire questions? Every other Tuesday, tire expert John Mahler shares his vast tire knowledge with us on the Ultra 94 Facebook page and answers reader questions. Be sure and check it out - and happy spring driving!

- Rose R.


Labour of Love: Caring for a Classic Car

1995 Chevy
Photo: Roadside Pictures on Flickr

As a kid, one of my most vivid summer memories is playing in - and, once, taking a drive in - my uncle's vintage 1955 Chevy. The seats were hard and slippery and the thing looked like something out of a movie. My uncle would join in our games by saying fun things like "No ice cream in the car!" or "No popsicles in the car!" and we would laugh and laugh.

As an adult, my uncle's finicky-ness around his classic car makes a lot more sense - if I had a beautiful car like that, I would want to do everything I could to preserve it.

As the winter thaws and the roads clear, the time is ripe for vintage car buffs to start revving their engines for the season. If you're gearing up to get your classic car out of winter storage, here are some great resources around classic car restoration and maintenance for the fun season to come!

For some basic tips and ideas for getting your classic car purring, check out Five ways to keep your vintage car running smoothly, which includes this tip about electronic ignition:

Electronic ignition: There are several aftermarket companies which manufacture electronic ignition systems that replace the mechanically activated contact-points arrangement. […] Installing an electronic ignition system in a vintage car makes a world of difference; it runs better, starts easier, is easier to tune and delivers better fuel economy. And most of the time, it preserves the vintage character of the car.

The Hemmings Daily blog not only has amazing photos and write-ups about vintage cars, but they have have an extensive archive of tech and tool tips for the classic car enthusiast. Vintage windshield wipers, identifying and replacing automotive hardware and choosing the right brake friction materials are just some of the topics they cover.

Classic car restoration is a labour of love; whether you're rebuilding the suspension or restoring the upholstery. Old Cars Weekly has a great collection of articles on restoration topics, ranging from assembling doors to avoiding wire and hose chafing. Everything the vintage car buff needs to know!

Do you own a classic car? Have any vintage car care tips or sites you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments!

- Rose R.

Spring Forward: Safety Tips for Daylight Savings Driving

Tired driver

It's always a bit of a thrill to get that extra hour of sleep in the fall when the clocks turn back…but I'm always really bitter in the spring when the clock jumps ahead.

Unfortunately, shifting the clock doesn't simply lead to my personal disgruntlement; losing that hour of sleep can mess with the human body, which can in turn make driving the day after "springing forward" a dicey situation. In fact, according to a study done at McMaster University entitled "Sleep Deficit, Fatal Accidents and the Spring Shift to Daylight Savings Time", traffic accidents increased by 17% on the Monday after Daylight Savings Time (compared to an average Monday).

Disrupting our circadian rhythms can lead to slower reflexes and poorer decision-making ability - not great when you're commuting. So what can you do about it? Well, you can't control the other drivers on the road, but here are a few tips to help you stay alert after DST this weekend.

Go to bed early all weekend. Start going to bed early on the Friday and Saturday before Daylight Savings Time kicks in - it will help your body adjust sooner.

Telecommute. If you have the option to telecommute, the Monday after Daylight Savings Time is the time to do it. Enjoy a little more sleep and avoid potentially sleepy drivers going to and from the office.

Acknowledge that your body is out of whack and take a little extra time. Take a moment when you get into the car to really focus on the route you're about to take.

Cut down on in-car distractions. Consider leaving the music off and if you're a coffee drinker, enjoy that java before you leave the house or after you get to work - no sipping on the road!

Continue reading "Spring Forward: Safety Tips for Daylight Savings Driving" »