Monday, January 13, 2014

Car Emergencies

We've had some people asking “What to put in a winter car kit?” Let’s start with the basic kit first. Having a kit for winter (covered in the next blog) can be very important but if you don't have the basics that you should already have in a year-round kit, the winter kit would not be a lot of help.

The Basics:
Spare Tire: Is it inflated to the proper psi? You may think this is a silly question, but when is the last time you checked yours?  It’s a good idea to check it on a regular basis. A good rule of thumb is to check it with each oil change.  The idea here is you’re already at a service station of some sort, be it public or your own private garage, and if it’s low or needs air- you can get it. This also helps to remember to do it regularly. Do you have all the necessary equipment to change your tire; jack, spare, lug wrench, key (if you have locking lug nuts)? Do you know how? If not, you should learn!

Tow Strap:  While towing a vehicle with a tow strap may be against local laws, having one to use for being pulled out of a ditch, the mud or a snow drift is a good idea. Make sure you have/get a strap that is designed for the weight of your vehicle.

Road Flares or Triangles: Some sort of cautionary device to put out to give advance warning to others that you are there and notify others to slow down and be careful. I also suggest having a brightly colored vest or jacket and reflective tape to be worn while working on your auto.

Flashlight:  One for the passenger compartment as well as one in your trunk or toolbox for when you are working on the auto. Head lamps or lanterns that allow you to be “hands free” are a good idea here. Check the batteries on these as well at oil changes.

Fire Extinguisher: I always get a good size one. Here, bigger is better but get one in a size you can handle and be sure you know how to use it. Due to temperature changes, check it regularly as well.

Jumper Cables:  These are good for your own use as well as being a good samaritan and helping others who need help. Never use these if you have no idea what you're doing! Always
refer to the owner's manual before attempting jump start any auto. Today’s cars can have computer systems attached to the electrical system and a small mistake can become very costly.

Basic Tool Box. If you’re not mechanically inclined, don't attempt anything that you’re not sure of but almost anyone can tighten a hose clamp. I know everyone jokes about it but duct tape can serve many purposes. If you have loose trim flapping or a pinhole in a hose, this will work long enough to get you off the highway and sometimes to the garage. Wire or coat hangers can be used  if your exhaust pipe of muffler drops. You can wire it up to get you home. (Remember to beware of hot parts that can burn you!) While you don’t want to drive with clear plastic or a clear trash bag on your windows and may be illegal to do in some places, putting it over broken or busted out windows until the rain passes will keep you and your interior dry.


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