Monday, November 30, 2015

Frustrated in the Car? Here's How to Keep Calm

Unless you're fortunate enough to work at home or live next door to your office, there's nothing you can do to avoid the daily commute (no, sleeping in your office doesn't work!). For those who experience heavy traffic, the commute to and from work is a nightmare, something to dread every morning and evening.

But do you really have to hate your commute? Why not find a way to make your commute just a little bit less stressful? Here are a few tips to help you out:

  1. Unplug -- This may be easier said than done, but it's worth the effort! While you're sitting in your car on the way home or to the office, make it a point to ignore the annoying buzzes of text messages, Facebook alerts, or Tweets. Disconnect from all outside communication (unless you are waiting for something important), but focus on the here and now. Listen to music, enjoy a light snack, or practice car meditations. Be in the present, and keep all outside distractions until you get home or to the office.
  2. Listen to audio books -- Story time! What could be more awesome than listening to an epic fantasy, twisted crime novel, or action thriller while sitting in Los Angeles traffic? Audio books will give you something to focus on as you sit and drive, taking your mind off the traffic around you. Not only is it awesome entertainment, but it's great for your brain! You can even listen to self-help or motivational books, promoting education and self-improvement while fighting the stress of traffic.
  3. Leave earlier -- Who says you have to sit in L.A. traffic every day? Rush hour occurs between 7 and 9 AM and 5 to 7 PM, so those are the times you'll want to avoid driving. However, why not leave for work a little earlier? If you're out of the house by 6 AM, you can usually beat the traffic. Do the same at the end of the day (leave around 4 PM), and you'll get home before the traffic gets crazy. If your boss is okay with you shifting your schedule slightly, it will save you a lot of wasted time and stress!
  4. Aromatherapy -- Aromatherapy has been proven to help you relax, so why not try experimenting with soothing scents? You can use air fresheners to flood your car with the relaxing smells of peppermint, jasmine, lavender, and lilies. If you want something stronger, you can purchase an essential oil diffuser designed specifically for car aromatherapy.
No one says you have to hate your commute! Find ways to chill out, relax, and enjoy the drive, and you'll find that the time spent in your vehicle to and from work can be some of your favorite times of the day.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Preventative Winter Car Care Tips

You know there are preventative maintenance items your daily driver needs, but the exact list of things to look after escapes you. Don’t worry! That’s why we’re here.
We will help walk you through the best winter maintenance tips so you can survive until spring comes ‘round the corner again.
Many of today’s vehicles have either front-wheel-drive or some kind of all-wheel-drive. While both do wonderful things for traction, they cannot break the laws of physics. Sudden ice storms, low visibility, or bad driving by “the other guy” are not necessarily overcome by these drive systems. If you live in an area that’s particularly snowy, and/or are not the most confident winter driver, the number-one driver’s aid is a good set of winter tires.
Note that we don’t call them “snow tires” anymore.
Today’s rubber compounds are designed to provide maximum traction in the coldest temperatures, so it’s not just about the tread pattern.
If you plan to keep your vehicle awhile, consider getting your snow tires mounted on dedicated wheels. Although the initial cost seems high, the ease and expense of making the seasonal switch is greatly reduced. If, on the other hand, you have a leased vehicle, or will likely trade for something else soon, you can purchase tires and accept the trade off of paying a little more for the mounting and balancing every six months.


If you haven’t waxed your car’s paint yet this year, now is the time to do it. A fresh coat of wax will protect the paint, not so much from the snow, but from the sand, salt, and other stuff that gets mixed in with it. Second, most experts recommend replacing your wiper blades twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. If you forgot to do it last April, get it done now.
Lastly, with shorter days and longer nights than normal, remember that your exterior lights help you both to see and be seen. A quick walk-around will confirm if any bulbs need replacing. You’d rather do that now than in January when it’s minus 10 degrees with the wind chill.


Much of what’s needed under the hood falls into the “preventative maintenance” category. You want to take care of things before they fail. Trust us, there is no joy in being stuck at the side of the road, especially when winter’s fury is blasting you.
The DIY items here start with topping up the washer fluid. If you’ve been using a 50/50 mix during the summer, switch to 100% from the bottle. Personally, we always buy solvent in quantities of two, and keep one in the trunk. Oil and filter services should be done, as cold-weather driving is strenuous for the engine.
Check the radiator antifreeze level, as it’s the coolant which delivers interior heat.
Jobs for which you’ll likely need professional assistance include testing said antifreeze for proper temperature protection; testing the battery’s condition to help ensure it’ll get your motor running every time, and giving all under hood systems (belts, hoses, other fluid levels) a once-over.


Snow, slush, and salt on your shoes will quickly damage your vehicle’s carpeting. A good set of rubber floor liners will pay for themselves in the protection they provide. Because you can never be too prepared, be sure to carry a snow brush, ice scraper, and personal emergency kit as well. We’re not paranoid, but keeping a blanket, flashlight, portable shovel, and non-perishable snacks tucked into the trunk will make us feel better.
If you take care of only the tires, wiper blades, and fluids, you will still be ahead of most of the driving population in winter preparedness. If you attend to everything on our list, you’re almost guaranteed to make it through the winter unscathed.
Our best advice is to print out this list and use it annually as your winter check sheet.