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Is it safe to stay at rest stops

Is it safe to stay at a rest stop on a road trip?

Whether you’re driving across Ontario or on the Interstate highway in the U.S., you’ll likely come across a number of rest stops throughout your trip.

While rest stops can present a perfect opportunity to stretch your legs, do your business, and grab a bite to eat, it’s likely not in your best interest to stay at one for an extended period of time.

Safety danger

Many people tend to confuse rest stops with cheap hotels. They fall asleep without taking the proper precautions, and leave themselves in potential danger.

Many U.S. cities have outright banned sleeping at rest stops since drivers are so vulnerable. If you do want to stop at a rest stop for a quick nap, make sure to lock all doors and windows and drive away immediately if you sense any potential danger.

While you never want to be on the road when you’re tired, you should look for a nearby motel instead if you’re desperate to catch some zzz’s. You can even look for a cheap campground if you’re really not interested in spending a lot of money.

Due diligence

Before pulling your car into a rest stop, you should look at online reviews to get a feel for how safe the area is. Since you’ll be coming from out of town, you really won’t know what the reputation of the area is, so it’s important that you perform the proper due diligence beforehand.

Stay in the light

If you want to decrease the chances of having your car broken into, you should always make sure to park in a well-lit area. If you’re having trouble finding good lighting, consider parking closer to the building.

In general, it’s always better to stop at a rest stop during the day as opposed to at night.

Carry your cellphone with you

If something actually does go wrong, you’ll want to make sure you can contact the police as quickly as possible. Keep your cell phone charged and with you at all times, in or out of the vehicle.

Don’t stay if it’s not busy

The more secluded the rest area is, the higher the chance for problems. If possible, always park near other vehicles. A thief will be less likely to try to break into a car that’s in a crowded area.

Go to a restaurant instead

If you’re worried about leaving your car outside a rest stop, it may be in your best interest to avoid them altogether. Instead of stopping at a rest stop, you could always find a nearby restaurant if you’re looking for a quick bite or washroom facilities.

 

Tips for Driving Abroad

Tips for driving in another country

Most drivers have no issue being behind the wheel when they’re in familiar territory. However, stress and fear of the unknown can begin to creep in when they’re driving in a foreign area – particularly if they’re in another country with unconventional traffic laws.

If you’re planning on taking a trip abroad and intend on renting a vehicle, it’s recommended that you familiarize yourself with these helpful tips below:

Apply for an IDP

Before you do anything, you must ensure that you secure an International Driving Permit (IDP) prior to leaving for your destination.  An IDP allows you to drive in a foreign country without completing any further tests and will offer proof that you possess a Canadian license.

Contact the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) to apply for an IDP today.

Book ahead

If you want to ensure that the car you’re renting is suitable for your trip, you’ll want to make sure you book it ahead of time. Don’t wait until you arrive in a foreign country as there’s a reasonable chance that they won’t have a vehicle available that meets all your requirements.

If you want to play it safe, it’s probably best to complete your booking through a prominent international chain.

Do your research

Depending on where you go, the traffic laws could differ considerably from here in Ontario.  Do your due diligence beforehand and see which laws you’ll need to look out for. For example, you’ll need to know that in Italy, the speed limit is reduced by 20 km/hour in wet weather conditions.

Stay in the slow lane

If you’re not comfortable sharing the road with other vehicles, it’s in your best interest to stay in the slow lane. Sure, it may take you a little longer to reach your destination, but it’s important to you feel relaxed when driving abroad.

It’s possible that you’ll find the driving style of many locals to be more aggressive, which could make things difficult at first. Stay calm, and don’t rush into anything.

Bring a GPS system

Assuming you don’t want to spend money on data for your smartphone overseas, you should either bring your own portable GPS system on the trip or rent one with your vehicle.

If you’re driving abroad, you’ll want to focus all of your attention on the surrounding traffic and road signs. Worrying about where you’re going will quickly become a distraction and will likely increase your chances of getting into a collision. Leave the navigating to the GPS.

Only drive when necessary

If you’re not entirely comfortable with driving overseas, it’s likely a good idea to limit your driving whenever possible. Save your time behind the wheel for when you’re going from destination to destination. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with walking or taking public transportation when you’re exploring a new city itself.

Safe travels!

 

Driving on Old Tires

The hidden dangers of driving with aging tires are significant

Everyone knows that tires don’t last forever, but the majority of drivers don’t bother checking them for wear and tear as they age.  While it may not seem like a huge deal, driving with aging tires can actually be quite dangerous, especially in inclement weather.

Below are several things you should be aware of to ensure you’re not driving with aging tires:

Tread isn’t everything

Just because your tires still have tread doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe to use. Even if the tread looks fine, the rubber compounds in a tire can still deteriorate over time – even if your car isn’t being used.

Even if you haven’t driven a vehicle in a year’s time, the tires will have still aged during this period, which could turn into a safety hazard.

Hot weather plays a part

The average life span of a set of tires is roughly five years in length. However, they could wear out much sooner if they’re being exposed to the hot sun on a regular basis.

Don’t buy used

If you want to avoid the risk of driving with aging tires, it’s recommended that you always buy new. Even if your tires are just a year or two old, they can still be considerably damaged if they weren’t properly maintained.

Used tires may be cheaper, but new ones are ultimately a longer and safer investment.

Also, it’s important to note that even if a tire hasn’t been used on the road doesn’t mean it’s truly “new.” Some tires are sold as “new” tires even if they were actually made years ago. Make sure to check the manufacturing date prior to purchasing.

Checking the date

If you want to check the date that your tires were made, you should be able to find a four-digit identification code in the sidewall of the tire. The first two numbers represent the week of the year it was made, while the last two digits signify the year it was made. For example, if the number is 1014, your tires were made in the 10th week of 2014.

Inspect regularly

In addition to doing constant inspections on your own, it is highly recommended that you have your tires checked by a professional on an annual basis every year after the fifth year.

 

 

Road Trip

6 car features that will make your next road trip more relaxing

Road trips can be some of the best vacations you’ll ever take, but they can also be quite stressful, especially if your vehicle isn’t in tip-top form. If you want to ensure that everyone in your car is happy, it’s important that you make sure that your vehicle is a fun and safe place to be.

Here are six features you should look for in your next vehicle if you’re a big road-tripper:

Extra cargo space

The more room everyone has to spread their legs, the happier they’ll be. If your car is crammed with luggage and other items, a five-hour drive can go from enjoyable to miserable in a hurry.

Get a vehicle with some extra room so you won’t have to worry about putting everyone’s bag between their legs.

Up-to-date safety features

If you’re going to be driving for hours on end, you likely won’t be as focused compared to your regular commute. To mitigate the chances of getting into a collision, you should drive a vehicle that’s equipped with the latest safety features, including blind-spot warning, lane-departure assist and collision avoidance.

A quality navigation system

It should really go without saying, but it’s vital that you have either an up-to-date GPS system and/or a navigation app with you before you leave for your destination. Even if you think you know the route relatively well, there’s no harm in having a backup plan. You’re bound to make a mistake or two without one, especially if you’re deep in conversation with another passenger.

There are also great phone apps like Waze to help with navigation and real-time traffic/road delay avoidance.

If you’re well prepared, you won’t have to waste time getting lost and tracing back your steps.

Top-of-the-line audio system

If you’re going on a road trip, you’re probably going to spend a fair amount of time listening to music, podcasts or audiobooks. If you want to ensure everyone is enjoying your playlist, a great set of speakers is a big plus.

Climate control

Air conditioning may be a standard feature in modern vehicles today, but it’s really not suitable for a long car ride, especially for passengers sitting in the back. If you want to ensure everyone in the vehicle is comfortable, you should shell out a few extra bucks for climate control.

Instead of continually changing the air conditioning button at someone’s request, you can set a temperature and stick with it.

Rear-seat entertainment

If you’re going with a group of four or more, you’ll want to make sure your passengers in the back are happy. Consider investing in a rear-seat entertainment system to allow those behind you to watch their favourite movies and tv shows while you watch the road ahead.

You may also want to include some charging ports in the back in case anyone’s phone or tablet runs low on battery.

Safe travels!

 

Test Drive tips

Many drivers fall into the trap of buying a vehicle that is a good deal from a financial perspective but doesn’t fit their needs. Whenever you’re in process of purchasing a new car, it is vital that you take it for a comprehensive test drive prior to acquisition.

Here are some helpful tips for test-driving a new vehicle:

Comfort

If you’re going to be spending hours upon hours driving, you better make sure you’re comfortable in your vehicle.

Take the time to ensure your vehicle fits your body type. If you’re a tall individual, you may notice your head touching the roof of a small vehicle when you sit up straight. If you’re on the shorter side, you could have difficulty seeing over the dashboard. These things should be considered a red flag, as they’re usually unsuitable to work around.

A minor annoyance may not seem like a big deal when you test drive, but it will likely turn into a bigger problem the longer you spend behind the wheel.

Even if you intend to drive the vehicle the vast majority of the time, you should try to bring other family members with you when you go for a test drive. If your passengers aren’t comfortable, you could be in for some long and painful road trips. Make sure everyone is happy.

Test out different terrain

Unless you live and work in the heart of the city, you’ll likely be driving on different terrain on a daily basis. Therefore, you should try driving in the city, on the highway, and on side roads. If all three feel comfortable, you’re good to go.

How difficult is it to operate?

As you’re well aware, some vehicles are just easier to drive than others. When you go out for a test drive, make sure to test out your full arsenal, from completing a three-point turn to parallel parking. If driving seems a lot more difficult than normal, it may not be the car for you.

It’s also important that you pay close attention to how the car feels. Did you feel comfortable when turning or driving over uneven terrain? Did anything change when you sped up on the highway?

Visibility

It should really go without saying, but it’s extremely important that you can see the road clearly when you drive. This means reducing blind spots to a minimum and not relying on backup cameras to see nearby vehicles.

Ideally, you should test drive the vehicle twice: once during the day and once at night.

Drive more than one

Even if you’re completely satisfied following the test drive, there’s no need to get ahead of yourself by buying the car right away.

Consider test driving a second vehicle to see which one you like better. Compare the pros and cons of each before arriving at your final decision.

 

What is a Drivetrain

Understand the differences in your vehicle’s drivetrain

When you’re considering a new vehicle there are several things to take into consideration. One of the most important is to find the right drivetrain for you to find new roads. Each has advantages and disadvantages and it’s important to understand each in order to make the right decision for you. The four different types of drivetrain are all-wheel-drive (AWD), front wheel drive (FWD), rear wheel drive (RWD), and 4WD (4 wheel drive).

Front Wheel Drive

FWD means that the power from the engine is delivered to the front wheels of your vehicle. With FWD, the front wheels are pulling the car and The rear wheels don’t receive any power on their own. The pros of a FWD vehicle are that they typically gets better fuel economy and emits less carbon dioxide. Since the weight of the engine is located over the driving wheels, a FWD vehicle can maintain better traction in the snow. However, performance enthusiasts have claimed FWD vehicles are less fun to drive.

Rear Wheel Drive RWD

Rear Wheel Drive

RWD means that the power from the engine is delivered to the rear wheels and the rear wheels push the car forward. The front wheels do not receive any power and are free to manoeuvre the vehicle. Due to the weight of a RWD vehicle being more evenly spread than a FWD vehicle, creates a better balance of weight. This is why most sports cars such as the Corvette and Camaro are RWD and are more exciting to drive. The disadvantage of a RWD vehicle are that they do not perform well in poor weather conditions such as rain or snow because they are more prone to loss of traction on slick roads.

Four Wheel Drive 4WD

Four Wheel Drive

4WD means the power from the engine is delivered to all 4 wheels all of the time 4X4 is engaged and has an option to operate in a RWD format to conserve fuel. The biggest advantage of a 4WD vehicle is that it provides the versatility and power to take on any terrain or weather condition. The con of a 4WD vehicle is that it operates in RWD format most of the time and has less traction then a AWD vehicle.

All-Wheel Drive AWD

All-Wheel Drive

All-wheel drive: A drivetrain that employs a front, rear and center differential to provide power to all four wheels of a vehicle.

As the name implies, all-wheel-drive systems power both the front and rear wheels all the time. But in practice, there are actually two types of drivetrains that are called AWD. One does, in fact, drive all the wheels continuously, and some manufacturers refer to this as full-time AWD. The second, often called part-time AWD or automatic AWD, operates most of the time in two-wheel-drive mode, with power delivered to all four corners only when additional traction control is needed.

Regardless on your choice of driveline remember it is always important to have a good set of snow tires in the winter.

 

Caring for vehicle sunroof

Caring for your vehicle’s sunroof

With summer officially in full swing, now is the perfect time to take care of your vehicle’s sunroof. While sunroofs can make your drive more pleasurable – particularly on a nice, sunny day – they require regular care.

Here are some quick tips for maintaining your car’s sunroof:

Remove debris

It is crucial that you clean your sunroof on a consistent basis to ensure dirt and debris don’t build up. While this may not seem like a huge deal, too much debris can end up clogging your drainage tube and cause a leak.

How to clean

Cleaning your sunroof should be fairly straight-forward. In order to remove all dirt and debris, you should use a cleaner when wiping down the glass portion. Avoid using any products that contain ammonia, as these can be unsafe to use in warm conditions.

Next, open your roof and wipe down the gasket and seal using a damp cloth. This will remove any build-up and lower the chances of any leakage.

While it’s important to you remove all debris, it’s critical that you ensure all rocks and stones are discarded. If one gets stuck in there and you don’t notice, you could end up breaking your sunroof.

Test for leakage

If your vehicle is leaking, you’ll want to assess the problem as soon as possible. Close your sunroof and pour water over top of it. Have someone inside your car look for leaks, cracks or mold to determine where the leak is coming from.

While you may be able to fix the issue yourself, it’s still recommended that you take your vehicle in to have it looked at.

Listen closely

Whenever you open or close your sunroof, you should be listening intently for any strange sounds. If you hear any scraping noises, you should try to clean it right away to see if the problem persists.

If you hear a popping sound, you should have it looked by a professional right away, as this could be a sign that your sunroof may be about to shatter.

Take it in to a professional

Even if you consider yourself a do-it-yourselfer, it’s never a bad idea to take your car in to have it looked at. If your sunroof isn’t operating at all, there could be an electrical issue, such as a blown fuse. In this case, it’s better to have a professional fix the problem instead of trying to fix it yourself.

If you live in a particularly dry area, it’s recommended that you have your sunroof detailed on a bi-annual basis at minimum. Not only will a professional be able to remove any debris that you may have missed, but they’ll also be able to inspect for any leakage.

It may seem costly, but it will be less expensive than replacing your entire sunroof.

 

What happens to my lease or loan if my car is totaled?

Accidents can happen to even the best of drivers. For many motorists who have just been in a serious collision, one of the first thoughts running through their head is determining how they’re going to pay for the damage. Fortunately, this can be a quick and easy process if you have the right insurance plan.

WRITE-OFF

For your vehicle to be deemed a write-off, a claims adjuster must determine that the cost of repairing the vehicle is greater than the current value of the car. If your vehicle is deemed a total loss, an insurance company will pay you what they believe the car is worth. If you don’t agree with the evaluation, you have the right to file an appeal under the Insurance Act.
While an insurance company is required to pay you back the value of the vehicle (minus any deductible), this doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t owe any money yourself.

LOAN

If the value of your loan is greater than the value of your vehicle and you don’t have gap insurance, you’ll still be required to pay back the difference to your bank/financial institution.
For example, say that an insurance company deems that your vehicle is worth $10,000, but you still have $12,000 left on your loan. You will still need to pay back the difference ($12,000 – $10,000 = $2,000) in addition to any deductible.

If you get into a collision shortly after signing your loan, the amount you owe will be significantly higher than someone who totals their car near the end of their loan agreement.
If you have GAP insurance, you can simply ignore the above.

LEASE

If your car is totaled, you will still be required to make normal lease payments until the claim is settled. Just because your car doesn’t work, doesn’t mean the lease is suddenly void.
Also, just like for a loan, if the market value of the vehicle is less than the amount owed on the lease, you will still need to pay the difference unless you have gap insurance. Fortunately, many financial institutions require gap insurance with any lease, so you’ll likely be saved from owing any extra cash yourself.

NEGOTIATE

Many people don’t realize this, but you are under no obligation to accept the settlement number for your vehicle. Feel free to negotiate with the insurance company to find a figure that works for both parties. Sometimes, insurance companies may not have all the required information to determine an accurate settlement figure.
It’s also important that you take the time to do the proper research prior to making your counter offer. Look online and at various dealerships to see what your vehicle is selling for. It’s important that you stay professional and make an offer that’s sensible.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to make a convincing case.

 

How Sunlight Damages your Vehicle

How excessive sunlight can damage your vehicle

If there’s one thing car owners should be worried about this summer, its protecting their vehicle against the hot sun. Believe it or not, there are a number of ways that sunlight can damage your vehicle and negatively affect its long-term viability.

Read ahead to learn more:

It will fade your paint

Your car’s paint will begin to fade and crack if it’s left out in the hot sun for too long. Your bumper and fender can also begin to fade if they’re exposed to sunlight for too long, so make sure to take the proper preventive measures to keep your car’s exterior in tip-top shape.

It could damage your interior

Not only can the sun harm your car’s exterior, but it can also damage the inside of your vehicle. Your upholstery could begin to fade over time – especially if its leather. When leather is left in the sun for too long, it begins to dry out, causing it to stiffen and crack.

Other parts of your interior could also become damaged, including the dashboard.

It could harm your tires

Tires – especially those that are underinflated – are more likely to blow out in extreme temperatures. If you leave your car out in the sun regularly, it’s a good idea to continually check your tires to ensure they’re properly inflated. Not only could you prevent a potential accident, but you can also save a few bucks on gas with this trick.

Tips for protecting your car

The easiest way to protect your car against the sun is to make sure your vehicle isn’t bathing in the heat for hours on end. This means parking in the shade whenever possible. If there is a parking garage available near your work, it may be a good idea to leave it there during the summer months.

If no parking garage is available, you should consider purchasing a windshield protector and seat covers at the very least. This isn’t a foolproof solution, but it’s better than leaving your car with zero protection while you work for eight-plus hours each weekday.

Regularly washing your vehicle will help remove any dirt that has accumulated since your last rinse. If you fail to wash regularly, any debris could begin to cake into the car from the hot sun. You should also consider adding a layer of wax to help resist cracking or fading.

Finally, make sure your fluids are topped off to lower the risk of your vehicle overheating. Otherwise, you could end up doing some serious damage to your car.

 

road construction

How to drive safely through summer construction zones

The recent warm weather means a number of construction projects will soon commence throughout Ontario’s roads and highways. While these projects may be a necessity, they also make for more dangerous conditions, meaning drivers across the province could be putting themselves in harm’s way if they’re not careful.

Here are a few quick tips for navigating through construction zones this summer:

Drive slowly

The most important thing you can do to mitigate the risk of an accident is to drive slowly through construction zones. Lower speed limits are often posted to increase driver safety and the well-being of the workers.

You should be on the lookout for any work-zone speed limits as you enter the area. If weather conditions are poor enough, it is recommended that you drive even slower than the stated limit.

It should be noted that Ontarians caught speeding in a designated construction zone will receive a fine that is roughly double what they would normally be given.

Keep a safe distance

The odds of a rear-end collision increase considerably in construction zones since many unprepared drivers are often forced to slow down suddenly as they enter the zone. If you know that you’re nearing a construction zone, increase the distance between you and the car in front of you.

Watch for workers

Not only are construction zones less safe for drivers, but they can also be quite hazardous for workers if the surrounding motorists aren’t careful.  Always make sure you’re keeping a safe distance from the nearby workers to ensure they can do their job worry-free.

When entering the zone, make sure to follow the directions of the flag person. They could tell you to slow down or stop entirely to help reduce the risk of a collision. It should be noted that following their directions is mandatory and could result in a serious fine if not obeyed.

Be patient

Remember that any kind of road construction will ultimately benefit you in the long run, so it’s a good reminder to be patient.

Sure, it may be frustrating if you’re rushing to work and are forced to stop a minute or two to wait for the traffic to clear, but it’s important that you don’t allow any frustration you feel to negatively affect your driving.

Find an alternative route

The easiest way to reduce the odds of an accident are to avoid construction zones entirely.  Many times, highway agencies will post alternative routes for those who want to avoid construction. While the detour may not actually save you any time, it can help diminish the stress and worry that comes with driving through construction zones.