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September 2014
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November 2014

5 entries from October 2014

Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: Safety Tips for Hallowe'en Driving

Halloween safety tips

Tomorrow night is Hallowe'en and the streets will be full of kids seeking the ultimate score - candy!

These kids will be high on sugar. They will be running around excitedly. And even though we all know that dark costumes make it more dangerous, there will always be kids wearing Dark Knight and ninja costumes. Scary!

Here are some driving safety "tricks" to remember if you're on the road tomorrow evening.

  1. If possible, avoid driving in residential areas.
    between 6pm and 9pm, the hot times for treat or treating.

  2. Stay below the speed limit and allow yourself extra time to get wherever you're going.

  3. Don't use your cellphone or try to have a snack in the car - keep your focus on the road at all times.

  4. Be careful passing stopped cars, as little ghouls and goblins may be exiting.

  5. Use caution when pulling out of parking spots or driveways.

  6. Be extra alert about your surroundings as your drive - weather permitting, roll down your window so that you can hear what's going on around you.

If you have little ones heading out this Hallowe'en, Health Canada has some great tips on keeping your kids safe on Hallowe'en. And if you're donning your Princess Leia buns and hitting a party yourself this Hallowe'en, make sure you have cab fare or a designated driver lined up to get you home safely.

All of us here at PumpTalk wish you a safe and spooktacular Hallowe'en!

- Rose R.

Monthly Poll: Do you "trick out" your car for Hallowe'en?

Zombie fighting vehicle
Photo: iStock

Hallowe'en is right around the corner but don't worry! There's still time to plan a costume - for your vehicle.

With the rise in popularity of Hallowe'en "trunk and treat" family events and with so many great photo-sharing sites like Pinterest and Instagram, it's never been easier to find car decor inspiration.

If you're looking to trick out your trunk in particular, this Pinterest user has gathered some of the most creative ideas for Hallowe'en car decor around.


Follow RHonda Fuller-Osborne's board Trunk or Treating Ideas on Pinterest.

Of course, not everyone wants to decorate their car for Hallowe'en. Our neighbourhood is generally pretty decor-free this time of year; but recently, our neighbour bought an orange VW beetle, so my fingers are crossed that she'll gussy it up with some Jack o' Lantern stickers.

Over to you - what are your plans this Hallowe'en? Do you dress up your car or just your kids and pets? Take our poll below!

- Rose R.

Help! My Car Has Been Invaded by Rodents!

Car-loving rodents
Photo: iStock

Brrr .. it's a wet, snowy day out there. I just want to curl up someplace warm and dry where it's dark and quiet and I'll be relatively undisturbed. Maybe with some tasty snacks nearby for when I get peckish.

Sound like a nice afternoon cozied up by the fireplace? Nope. This is what mice and rats think about your warm car engine!

Mice, squirrels and other rodents have been the source of expensive and sometimes dangerous damage to car engines. Mice like to gnaw the wires to help sharpen their teeth plus they are attracted to the chemicals in the wiring. Squirrels have been known to store a cache of nuts in a car's air filter. And aside from the damage they cause to the car, deer mice are also carriers of the hantavirus which can be fatal to humans.

So how can you keep those pests out of your car?

  • If you're parking outside, try not to park near shrubs, wood piles or anything that has a food source (e.g. bird feeders or compost piles) that rodents might enjoy.

  • If you're parking inside, leave your hood open and a light on; the less dark and cozy you can make it, the better.

  • If you're storing your vehicle for a long time, put cedar balls or moth balls under the dash or on the engine; mice don't like the smell. Just make sure to remove them before starting your car up again.

  • Talk to your mechanic about installing fine mesh over the air intakes to prevent rodents from coming in.

If you do find evidence of mice or other rodents spending time in your vehicle, exercise caution when cleaning up after them. Rodents can carry disease, particularly deer mice who carry the banta virus. For more information about preventing and getting rid of rodents, HealthLinkBC provides some good tips and detailed information.

Have you ever found mice or squirrels nesting in your car?

- Rose R.


Stuck in the Mud - Tips for Getting Your Tires out of the Mire

Stuck in the mud
Photo: iStock

In some parts of the country, getting stuck in mud is a more likely scenario than getting stuck in snow. Ultimately, it's the same root cause: lack of traction under your tires.

Luckily, similar tips can be used to try to get out of both. And remember in these situations that pushing hard on the gas and spinning your tires will make the situation worse.

  • If it's safe, get out of your car to assess the situation. To lighten the load, ask any passengers to get out as well.

  • If possible, dig out the mud from in front of and behind your power wheels (front or rear, depending on what kind of drive you have).

  • When you dig away the mud, fill the space with twigs, some wood, small rocks, cat litter or even your floor mats (nap side down). You're trying to provide traction for your car's tires.

  • Get back in your car. Shift into the lowest gear possible and gently accelerate forward, then in reverse. Avoid spinning your tires; try to gain some traction. If you happen to have passengers or bystanders who can help push, make sure they are pushing on the end of the car away from where you have placed the materials under your tires - the material could get pushed out by the acceleration and become a hazard.

  • As you repeat the gentle forward/reverse acceleration, you should build up some momentum and be able to drive forward and out of the mud.

As in all emergency situations involving vehicles, safety is the most important concern. If you are stuck too deeply or it is not safe for you or others to get out of your vehicle to assess the situation, the best course of action is to call for road side assistance.

Any other tips for getting out of a sticky situation? Share them in the comments!

- Rose R.


Time for Winter Tires

Winter Tires
Photo: iStock

It's October. I know you don't want to think about it .. neither do I. It was just yesterday we were enjoying a BBQ party out on the patio.

But it's time to face reality ... winter is coming (Game of Thrones fans, anyone?). And nothing says winter like the annual tire switch most of us go through.

John Mahler, our tire expert on our Ultra 94 Facebook Page has this to say about winter tires:

"Remember that all tire design is a compromise between competing great characteristics. You can have great cold pavement handling, ice traction, snow grip, slush bite and high-speed stability, but not all at once in the same tire. For ice grip, a tire has to have lots of little sipes (tiny cuts in the tread blocks); for snow traction, the tire needs lots of sharp edges on its tread blocks; and for slush removal it needs wide open channels between the tread blocks. So, figure out what your personal driving scenario is and choose a tire accordingly."

The Automobile Protection Association in Canada has done a comparison of several brands of winter tires that you may find helpful in putting John's advice into practice.

We've also done several posts here on PumpTalk about winter tires and related driving issues, including:

Are you ready for winter on the road? When do you typically switch out your tires? Let us know in the comments!

- Rose R.