While some dogs love riding in cars, others fear hopping in the backseat and riding around town. Thankfully, most dogs are able to get over their fear of car rides with a little help from their owners. But how do we get dogs comfortable in the car? This guide from Auto Simple is going to offer you some advice on helping your pup adjust to trips in the car.
Heading out on a long road trip can be exciting, but after a few hours in the car it is easy to get agitated as the hours seem to drag on. Road trips can be especially hard on kids, as sitting buckled into their seat can make it hard to have any fun. That is why we at Auto Simple have put together a list of the three best car games for kids during long road trips to help occupy some of the time spent on the road. Read the rest of this entry >>
With the help of popular ride-share apps, catching a ride has never been easier. But how do we know which ride share app we should use? This mainly depends on where you’re located, where you are going, and what time of day it is, but each of these popular apps has their perks and their downfalls. This guide from Auto Simple is going to break down the good and the bad of Uber and Lyft to help you choose which one is right for you.
With the holidays coming up it is time to start thinking of gifts for friends and family. Enhance your friend’s drives with the perfect road trip sidekick with a gift from this guide to holiday gift ideas for drivers on the go from Auto Simple.
If you aren’t fighting for airline tickets this holiday season, you’ll be fighting for a spot on the road.
According to AAA, around 50 million American will journey 50 miles or more this Thanksgiving (defined as Nov. 23 to Nov. 27). And nearly 90% of these Thanksgiving travelers will be driving (around 44 million)!
AAA also predicts that they will be rescuing more than 370,000 motorists due mostly to dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts.
In addition to the increased risk of motor accidents and breakdowns, stress and travel anxiety will also be on the rise. Whether by air, water, or highway, it can be extremely stressful and anxiety-reducing to travel during the holidays, especially during such high-travel periods as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Whether you are going on a long road trip or making a more local drive to Grandma’s, these tips and tricks will help ensure your trip is safe, fun, and stress-free.
10 Holiday Road Travel Tips
Prep Your Car
Most holiday travel is made by personal vehicle. In addition to winter weather conditions, the drives tend to me a lot longer. In order to reduce your risk of incident, make sure your vehicle is properly maintained.
Whether your trip is a long or short one, you don’t want a breakdown to ruin the holidays. Schedule a pre-trip tune-up to check your fluids, tires, battery, wipers, and everything else. Even if your maintenance is up-to-date, do a quick tire and fluids check at least a day in advance of the trip.
Here are some things you’ll want to check before hitting the road:
Portable jump starters are also great for recharging phones and other electronics. Some even have emergency radios, lights, 12-volt outlets, and air compressors. Don’t forget to charge your portable jump starter before the trip!
Additionally, it’s a good idea to double-check your spare tire before any road trip. To save time and impress your traveling companions, learn how to change a tire beforehand.
Enjoy the Moment
We’re not going to try to mislead you about holiday travel—it can be extremely stressful. However, you do have a lot of control and choice in the matter.
Instead of being all up in your head, worried about traffic, being late, anxieties, judgements, what-ifs, predictions, and the unremitting stress of work, family, and society, transform that anxiety into laughter and joy. You probably have family around you. Be sensitive to the present moment and enjoy it.
Nobody knows you better than yourself. Bring the things that will help make your time more enjoyable and less stressful. Whether that means noise-cancelling headphones, a good book/podcast, or comfy clothes, focus on the things that bring you and your companions happiness.
Make a List and Check It Twice
One of the best ways to reduce travel stress and enjoy the moment is by making a list and checking it twice.
Pack whatever you can at least a day in advance of the trip. The last things you should pack are items like your toothbrush, phone, and wallet. This should be a separate “final” list of items. Place this list on top of your packed suitcase so you don’t forget anything.
In addition to your packing list, there should also be a household chores list—things like washing the dishes, taking the trash out, and making sure the iron isn’t plugged in. There’s nothing worse than coming home to a filthy, smelly home.
Don’t forget to look up the weather and bring plenty of cold-weather items. And if you promised, don’t forget your famous casserole or pie to do for.
Wake up early and get some coffee and a good bite to eat. Then, make sure the car is packed with everything for holiday trip, including these essential vehicle items. Double check your “final” list of items and household chores list. At last, leave in complete confidence and enjoy the trip.
Leave Early (or Late)
This is true no matter how you are traveling, but it’s especially true for drivers. Although most drivers try to leave early to “beat traffic,” many fail to achieve their goals. If you wake up early enough and already have everything packed the night before, you can beat the masses. Another option is to leave in the evening or night, however, if nighttime driving tends to be less safe.
The worst traffic usually occurs between 12pm and 5pm. Try to avoid the afternoon if possible.
You may also want to avoid the busiest travel days, which is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after. Consider traveling on Thanksgiving morning and heading home on Friday or Saturday to beat the travel rush.
There are so many amazing Podcasts and audiobooks available at the press of a button that there should be no excuse of boredom during a long car trip.
If you don’t want to fight over every single song that gets chosen (that’s a lot of potential arguing and discomfort), choose long-form audio in the form of audiobooks or podcasts. Try to agree on what you will be listening to before the trip begins. Nothing’s worse than a road trip starting off on a bad note (pun intended) because you’re arguing about what to listen to.
Choose one of the following podcasts and you’ll be able to spark interesting conversations for the entire duration of the trip. Hopefully everyone will agree and nobody will be bored!
Here are some of the best podcasts suitable for kids and families:
Tumble Science Podcast for Kids – Kids’ science podcast for the whole family.
The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian – A very entertaining serialized science fiction story.
Dream Big Podcast – The entrepreneur podcast for kids on pursuing dreams and making them a reality.
Story Time – Best for younger audiences, around ages 2-12. Great for those who love bedtime stories.
But Why – Kids ask why, and adults find the answers. Topics are wide and varied.
Brains On! – In-depth discussions of interesting questions with scientific answers.
If you have an older crowd in the car (teens and older), you may want to listen to some of these podcasts:
Lore – Creepy, real-life stories hosted by (now a TV show on Amazon Prime).
Welcome to Night Vale – A brilliant mixture of comedy, mystery, and horror (a la Twilight Zone).
Lux Radio Theater – Radio shows of old movies. Great for classic movie fans.
This American Life – If you are a fan of NPR and PBS storytelling, you’ll enjoy this one (also a TV show).
Radiolab – Stimulating discussions on a wide range of philosophical and scientific topics.
The Moth – Award-winning show about real-life stories from real-life people.
Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! – NPR game show with plenty of laughs.
Hardcore History – For the history buffs.
You Must Remember This – Intriguing stories from Hollywood (start with the Charles Manson episodes).
If you are looking for a serialized podcast that leaves you hanging at the end of each episode, consider Serial, S-Town, and Criminal.
If you are looking for the fastest way to get to your destination, a GPS app is a must. Even if you know where you are going, today’s GPS apps can give you real-time traffic updates, road conditions, custom navigations, and other major benefits. The most popular ones are Google Maps and Waze. For more usability, go with Google Maps, but Waze will probably get you there faster.
And don’t worry about data. You can download maps to your phone via WiFi before heading on the road.
Use Waze, GasBuddy, and other apps to find the cheapest gas on your route.
If you’re going to make it to your destination with minimal stops, you will need to pack some drinks and snacks.
While you don’t want to ruin your appetite, you also don’t want to arrive “hangry.”
Consider these nutritional snacks to avoid highway stops and arrive happier and healthier:
Fruit and Vegetables
Cheese and Crackers
Stop If You Need To
Sometimes a break is needed. If someone wants to stop, stop. Don’t cause yourself back pain or unwanted aggression by fighting the urge to make a pit stop.
Also, stops can serve as a nice refresh button when things are getting tense. Stretch, walk around, use the rest room. It’s a great way to feel better on long trips.
When traveling with children, teach them to avoid strangers and consider giving them a whistle if you should get separated.
You may even see a roadside attraction you want to squeeze in. If you left early, you should have no problem arriving on time.
Above all else, be safe!
You can reduce your chances of an accident with the following vehicle and road safety tips:
Get a good night’s sleep. Never drive while drowsy!
Buckle up, follow all rules of the road, and do NOT drive impaired!
Do not use the phone while driving. Either pull over first or have a passenger relay a message for you. Otherwise, it can wait.
Make stops to stretch, snack, and rotate drivers if you need to.
It’s Halloween weekend and for those of us who are too old to trick-or-treat, we’re probably going to binge-watch horror movies, go on haunted pub crawls, or if we’re daring enough, take a trip to the spookiest roads and places in our state.
If you want to visit some of the most haunted roads and places in Tennessee, look no further. Whether it’s ghosts and grave robbers or cult ceremonies and cryptic messages, your primal terrors are sure to be awakened. Just remember to have gas in the engine, check your tires, and have these essential car items when you go… if you dare.
5 Haunted Roads and Places in Tennessee
Take a scary tour of Tennessee’s most haunted roads and places. Thanks to Civil War burial sites and rich folklore from Irish and Scottish immigrants, there are plenty of scary stories and settings to experience this Halloween. Ironically, many of the following haunted places can be both creepy and serene at the same time. You may get goosebumps from the fright or the beautiful sight.
Filled with Civil War battlefields, historic graveyards, and old-fashioned Southern lore, Tennessee is home to some of the scariest roads in the world.
Considered by many to be Tennessee’s most haunted road, Roaring Fork Motor Trail won’t disappoint. To get there, head into the Smoky Mountains National Park via the Cherokee Orchard Entrance (off the main street in Gatlinburg at traffic light #8) and you will see the cars-only Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail after you pass the Rainbow Falls trailhead.
Drive on this 5.5-mile trail located in the Smoky Mountains for a spooky but scenic drive filled with old cabins and mills, beautiful waterfalls and wildlife, and maybe young Lucy — an alluring ghost who wanders around the park looking for help.
According to legend, Lucy and the rest of her family died in a tragic cabin fire at the beginning of the 20th century. There are lots of places to pull off, but don’t wander for too long. The mountain mist might just swallow you up.
Even if you don’t run into a ghostly emissary, you can still hear whispers and murmurs from the popular roaring waterfalls. As Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes stories, once said, “Where there is no imagination there is no horror.”
In Briceville, there is a scary bridge that is made even scarier by local lore. There are many different accounts of the Drummond legend, however, it seems the real story is that a 25-year-old miner was hanged in retaliation for the murder of William Laugherty during the Coal Creek War (Karin Shapiro, A New South Rebellion).
The Coal Creek War was an armed labor uprising that started after the Coal Creek Mining and Manufacturing Co. started sending prisoners from the Tennessee state prison system to work in the mines (the Tennessee State Prison is a haunted spot in its own right — watch this drone film for a virtual tour). This saved the company money but left many Briceville men unemployed. On October 31, 1891, coal miners took up arms and revolted. The war resulted in many deaths, and although the revolt was squashed, the convict labor system was eventually abolished.
Dick Drummond was one of the many laborers who were killed by militiamen sent by the Governor John P. Buchanan. Legend has it that the ghost of Dick Drummond still wanders the area looking for revenge against the soldiers who dragged him to the railroad trestle and hanged him. If you are one to connect with the spirits, you may be able to see a shadowy figure hanging from the bridge’s trestlework or walking the tracks.
As part of a spooky game, kids dare each other to walk across the bridge at midnight. Apparently, at this witching hour Drummond walks across the bridge and then vanishes into thin air. Whether it’s a local trickster or the ghost of Drummond himself, the trip will surely scare the wits out of you. Bring your camera, you may just be able to capture it.
If you don’t think that’s scary enough, try driving through Circle Cemetery Road, up the hill on Circle Road, which causes the chills even during daylight. Also be sure to check out Red Ash Cemetery (official name is Turley Cemetery), around 10 minutes away from the bridge, located off Old Tennessee 63 in Caryville, TN (GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 36.365900, Longitude: -84.271475).
The entire Red Ash area is suspected of being haunted, including reports of giant goat-men and hell-hounds. From Satanic rituals to murder, stories and hauntings abound. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Located in a beautiful hamlet in Kingsport, Tennessee, Sensabaugh Tunnel and Sensabaugh Hollow Road are surrounded by primitive forests and valleys.
Since Sensabaugh Tunnel was first built in the early 1900s, people have been reporting screams, baby cries, and other phantom sounds coming from the tunnel. According to legend, a homeless man broke into the Sensabaugh family home and kidnapped their child. Ed Sensabaugh chased the man into the tunnel, but he was too late. The kidnapper drowned the baby in the tunnel before Ed had the chance to stop the thief.
Another version of the story claims that Ed was the murderer. Ask some Tennessee locals about the tale and you might hear a story of Ed the Madman, who went crazy and murdered is wife and child. He took their lifeless bodies and hid them in the tunnel.
Other folklore says there was a woman who was driving through the tunnel when her car stalled and she went searching for help. As you might expect, she was never found again. Another story tells of a young pregnant woman who was chased into the tunnel. She gave birth to her child before dying soon afterward. The baby’s cries can still be heard today.
If you are too afraid to go walking around, don’t assume you are safe inside your car. Tennessee folklore also warns of a ghostly woman who will appear in your backseat if you try driving through. Others claim that if you drive into the tunnel and turn your car off when in the middle, you won’t be able to turn it back on again until you have manually pushed the vehicle out of the tunnel first.
Even though the Sensabaughs and the women in the tunnel are long gone, their spirits are said to be lurking, scaring off anyone who dares to enter. Needless to say, Sensabaugh Hollow Road and Sensabaugh Tunnel are terrifying places to visit, especially on a dark autumn night.
If you want to step out of your car and experience history and folklore told by master storytellers, consider Franklin on Foot, an in-depth ghost tour founded by Margie Thessin. According to her interview with Williamson Source, the most haunted street in Franklin is 3rd Avenue.
Located just south of Nashville, downtown Franklin is home to some great cemeteries and Civil War sites. You can choose among the many tours available, including the Classic Franklin, Civil War in Franklin, Grave Matters in the Cemetery, and Ghosts of the Battlefield at the Lotz House. Just remember to make reservations in advance on the website (available Monday through Saturday).
Watch this video from Williamson Source to learn more:
Meeman-Shelby Forest is a beautiful state park sitting on over 13,000 acres and bordering the Mississippi River just north of Memphis. Full of camping spots, hiking trails, reflective lakes, and surrounded by the Chickasaw Bluffs, the park is home to many magnificent plants and animals. In addition to bald eagles, songbirds, foxes, bobcats, and other endangered species, there’s a different sort of creature that is said to stalk the grounds.
According to legend, a man was horribly disfigured after an accident at an underground powder and explosives production plant during WWII (Millington Ordnance Works/Plant). Shunned by his coworker and the local residents and known simply as Pigman, the popular Tennessee tale says that a man with the face of a pig haunts the Shelby forests looking for his next victim.
He is most spotted at night near the “Pigman Bridge” in the nearby town of Millington, but has also been spotted at the state park. Just look for the smoke stacks near the Chicakasaw Ordnance Works. For the best chance at seeing the Pigman, wait for the full moon and park your car in the middle of the bridge at midnight. Turn your lights and engine off and roll down your windows. Then, flash your lights three times while calling “Pigman, Pigman, Pigman” at each flash and wait. Don’t worry, he’ll come to you. Oink!
For more information on Meeman-Shelby Forest, click here. Don’t forget your flashlight!
Haunted Cemeteries in Tennessee:
Arney Hill Cemetery – Elizebethton, TN
Bethel Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery – Atoka, TN
Warning: Many of the areas require permission to visit. Check with the local authorities to make sure you are allowed to go. Trespassers will be prosecuted.
Avoid the Real Horror This Halloween! Learn Car Safety
The worst horrors are the real-life ones. While you are extremely unlikely to experience any kind of physical injury or death from the paranormal, the odds aren’t so good when it comes to getting behind the wheel.
According to NHTSA data, Halloween is the 3rd deadliest day of the year for pedestrians, and the 2nd most dangerous day for motorists.
Car crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths. In the United States alone, there are around 38,000 deaths on the roads every year, an average of approximately 102 deaths per day.
Learn essential driving safety tips to stay safe on the roads:
Pay extra attention to pedestrians and kids darting into the road.
Looking for a safe vehicle for your ghost huntings? We carry a large inventory of Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, each of which go through a comprehensive 180-Point Quality Inspection before they are listed.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:
Car technology is moving at a pace we’ve never seen before. Self-driving cars will inevitably take over the roads, but not for a while. In the interim, we can learn important safety tips from self-driving cars to make our world a lot safer.
There are many reasons why self-driving cars are safer than humans behind the wheel. We text, talk on the phone, get distracted, let emotions take over, nod off, fail to signal, drink alcohol, take prescriptions, and much more.
Since cars were first invented, we have added safety features that help reduce the chance of accidents, injuries, and fatalities—seat belts, anti-lock brakes, air bags, etc.
But no matter how safe we make cars, the least safe variable is always the driver.
Over the last two decades or so, engineers, scientists, and car manufacturers have focused on removing the human element completely.
In doing so, we can learn many tips for improved driver safety.
1.3 million people die on the world’s roads every single day. That’s equivalent to over 8 commercial jet airliners (Boeing 747s) crashing every single day and killing everyone on board. In the United States alone, 37,000 people die in road crashes every year (ASIRT).
Traffic is also a huge problem. It’s substantially worse than it was just 10 years ago. According to 2014 Census data (The Washington Post), American workers spend 29.6 billion hours commuting every year. That’s a collective 3.4 million years driving to and from work. Wow!
Google’s self-driving car project, now called Waymo, has published reports based on its tests of over 3 million miles of self-driving vehicles on real roads in cities like Mountain View (CA), Austin (TX), Kickland (WA), and Phoenix (AZ). This is in addition to the billions of miles driven in simulation.
The millions of miles driven on real city streets have taught Google a lot about driverless vehicles and have taught us a lot about how drivers can improve their driving habits for increased safety on the roads.
This technology will come to market soon. Watch this video to learn what a driverless world could look like:
Self-driving cars will make the world a safer place, but it will be a long time before prices drop low enough for the majority of people to be able to afford one.
Luckily, there has been a lot of information gathered from driverless cars that can make our own driving behaviors a lot safer.
How does a self-driving car see the world?
Self-driving vehicles create a rich, logic-filled map of their surrounding area using 360-degree sensor systems, including lidar (laser and radar), GPS, odometry, and cameras. They not only see what’s around them, they also anticipate what’s going to happen.
“The two red rectangles are cyclists; the red trails behind them indicate the path they’ve just traveled. The cyclist on the left had entered the left turn lane, but veered back into our path to continue straight across the intersection. At the same time, the cyclist on the right entered the intersection, traveling against the flow of traffic. That cyclist then took a sudden left turn, coming directly at us in our lane. Our car was able to predict that cyclist’s path of travel (turquoise line with circles) so we stopped and yielded. This happened at night, when it would have been very difficult for a human driver to see what was unfolding.”
This map not only knows where things are at the moment, it also works with other complicated parts of the car to predict what might happen in the near future.
It’s extremely complicated how these pieces of machinery can detect different types of objects—cars, bikes, cones, debris on the road—and anticipate and react to what’s going to happen 1 second, 3 second, 10 seconds from now.
Not only does the self-driving car need to know about the lane change up ahead and what the truck in front is going to do (quickly merge), it also needs to know about the goings on of everything else.
After taking everything around it into account, the car then needs to know how to act—which trajectory to take, how slow or how fast it should move. Then, the car must make the executive decision to steer left or right, press on the brake or hit the gas.
Driving Safety Tips Learned from Self-Driving Cars
Anticipate the behavior of other drivers
While you don’t have the amazing ability to detect objects in a 360-degree radius, you still have an amazing amount of computing power in your head. Use it to keep track of the objects around you and what they are going to do.
For instance, a vehicle inching out of a driveway may not be able to see you. A vehicle at high speeds is approaching a red light—you can guess that it will barrel through the light.
Despite what’s supposed to happen, you can tell what actually is happening and prevent an accident by anticipating future actions.
Forget about what’s supposed to happen, anticipate what actually is happening.
Pay attention to everything around you. Predict future movements based on the unique circumstances around you, such as construction zones, pot holes, objects in the road, distracted motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, school zones, etc.
Drive conservatively around cyclists. If there is a cyclist up ahead, keep in mind that they may need to swerve into your lane to avoid doors (aka dooring), glass or other obstacles in the road. Leave plenty of room for these sudden movements. Learn more driving safety tips when sharing the road with cyclists.
Look at the driver as well as the vehicle. If the driver is paying more attention to their phone than the road ahead, you can exercise extra caution. Pay attention to distracted drivers—they are more common than ever.
Before you make a lane change, use your mirrors and look over your shoulder to see what the cars around you are doing. Someone else may be trying to merge at the same time. Look at the driver for clues as to what they may do.
Don’t trust turn signals. Some people learn this the hard way when they start driving in a different area of the country. You may live in a town that has great drivers who reliably use their turn signals, but move to a different town or city and you’ll be in for a rude awakening. Not everybody does. A driverless car doesn’t trust turn signals for reliable predictions of future movement and neither should you. If you are at a stop sign and see a car coming towards you with their right turn signal on, do NOT assume they are making that right turn. Wait until they commit to their turn before you commit to your next move. Use turn signals whenever turning/merging and watch for them, but NEVER trust them.
Don’t tailgate. You The DMV handbook says to use the “three-second rule”—look at the vehicle ahead pass a specific point in the road and then count a full three seconds. If you reach that point before the three seconds are up, you are too close. Use the four-second rule during adverse conditions, such as rain, snow, darkness, gravel roads, and metal surfaces. Extra room should also be given if you are being tailgated from behind, a driver wants to pass you, towing a large load (extra weight makes it harder to stop), following large vehicles that block your view, a driver wants to pass you, or when merging onto a freeway.
Admit that other drivers are fallible and so are you—prioritize safety
This isn’t a judgement of how good or bad you drive—we all make mistakes. Driverless cars assume this as fact and so should you.
For at least the next decade, most drivers will still be human and like you, they want to arrive at their destination as fast as possible. Mistakes will be made.
Don’t let your emotions cloud your better judgment. This relates to the former point about tailgating. Just because you don’t want anyone cutting in front of you doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t leave a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. This not only slows down traffic, but can also cause an accident. And it’s usually because of emotion and your belief in fairness and the ethics of line-cutting. Driverless cars don’t have this problem and you should do your best to avoid it. Let the driver pass you and leave enough room to do it safely.
Yield to the right of way, but be aware that others might not. Knowing when to yield can save you from countless accidents. Chances of a collision increase dramatically at intersections. If another vehicle fails to yield, however, let them. Better safe than trying to prove something and cause an accident. Learn right of way rules on the DMV website, but don’t assume others have this knowledge. Like a self-driving car, look for behaviors and intent; don’t assume knowledge and execution of the rules.
Make up for the fact that your vision is inferior. While you have the very helpful ability of object permanence, you cannot see in all directions at once like a self-driving car. This is why you should constantly be checking your mirrors, at least every five seconds (including rearview and side mirrors). This gives you a much better understanding of everything going on around you. It’s also a good idea to scan the road and periodically check the left and right of your vehicle. This can help you identify a person running a red light, stop sign, or a kid running into the street. Using your mirrors properly and scanning the road will help you spot a potential accident before it happens. You can be like the future-seeing precogs from Minority Report.
Always prioritize safety. Self-driving cars don’t have egos, emotions, or amygdalas like us fallible humans. Yes, they will have Emotional AI to make the automotive experience more pleasant for humans, but this won’t affect their driving habits. While humans may make a risky move to cut down on travel time, self-driving cars will always prioritize safety. You can learn from this. Many drivers hate slow drivers who drive the speed limit, slow down when kids are around, and make other “grandma” moves. This is the kind of attitude that causes accidents. Self-driving cars are like “grandma” drivers—they drive the speed limit, don’t accelerate quickly, and are overly cautious when it comes to merging and intersections.
You are a human, not a robot. Emotions are deeply imbedded into your decision-making process. But, prioritize your emotions of fear over aggression, and love over anger. Learn from self-driving cars and always rank safety over timeliness in your algorithm. Cutting a few minutes off your commute or trying to beat the GPS’s estimated arrival time is never worth the potential ramifications of a deadly or injurious accident.
Collect data from the roads
Know your route before you start driving. Self-driving cars plot their trajectories well in advance. Get in the habit of looking at directions before heading out on the road. This allows you to have more confidence on the road and stay on the side of the freeway where your exit is.
Glance at GPS for traffic updates. Google, Waze, and other GPS apps tell you about upcoming traffic, construction zones, and other useful information. Even if you know your rout by heart, you can increase your road knowledge by mounting a GPS in an easy-to-view area near your dashboard. Glance at it like you would your odometer, and take note of any upcoming road warnings. Of course you’ll never have access to the rich, data-filled maps of self-driving cars, at least you’ll know the basics. And you may even save time by finding a better alternative route home.
Take different routes. Have you ever forgotten what happened on your commute? When you take the same route every day, you start to go into autopilot mode and tune out your surroundings. The more familiar your world, the less you remember and the quicker time seems to pass. That’s why time seems to fly by as we get older and why taking the same route every day can lead to accidents. Switch things up, change your route, and increase your powers of observation. Try leaving 10 minutes early and taking the scenic route instead. You’ll discover new things, increase your happiness, and reduce the risk of an accident.
Are you sick of a dirty and disorganized car? Whether you have kids or not, it’s difficult to maintain car cleanliness. Instead of treating your vehicle as one big storage dump, use these cleaning and organization hacks to keep things fresh and tidy all year long.
HOW TO KEEP THE CAR CLEAN & ORGANIZED
10 Cleaning & Organization Hacks
Use toothpaste to clean headlights and remove scuffs.
Foggy headlights are a safety hazard. According to AAA, restoring your headlights can increase the overall amount of light projected by 30% and reduce glare-producing light scatter by 60%.
Just as toothpaste cleans your teeth, it can also be used to polish your headlights and remove marks from CDs, DVDs, phones, tablets.
Simply wipe your headlights down with soap and water and allow to dry before going over your headlight lenses with a small amount of toothpaste on a clean rag. Rub in circular motions until clean.
The mild abrasive in toothpaste helps restore clarity and remove scratches, however, it is only a temporary fix. In 2-6 months, that hazy look will come back again.
For a longer-lasting solution, buy an inexpensive do-it-yourself headlight refinishing kit at your auto parts store. You can also pay a professional around $30-$150 to do it for you.
Not only does toothpaste help restore clarity to your headlights, but it can also be used to remove minor scratches and scuffs from your car. Make sure the surface is clean before you apply any toothpaste. Since toothpaste acts as a mild form of sandpaper, you don’t want to buff dirt and debris into the paint.
Once the surface is clean and dry, rub some toothpaste onto the scuff with a damp cloth. Use circular motions until the mark is gone.
Toothpaste has also been known to clean vinyl or leather interiors. After you vacuum the area and remove crumbs and dirt, dab some non-gel toothpaste onto the stain and wipe clean with a damp cloth.
Clean and deodorize carpets with soda, vinegar, and baking soda
Every vehicle owner knows that carpets and interiors can get really dirty, especially if you have children. If you want to get rid of stains and smells, you can restore some of that new car smell by using water, vinegar, and baking soda.
First, start out by deodorizing your car. Simply fill two bowls with white vinegar and place one on the dashboard and the other on the back seat. Leave overnight and remove in the morning. Open up doors and windows until the vinegar smell has gone away.
After the vinegar smell has dispersed, mix 1 cup of water with ¼ cup of baking soda. Use a toothbrush to wipe away all of your stains, such as ketchup and coffee. Let the mixture penetrate the stains for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, take a clean, dry cloth and blot the area dry.
Finish up your cleaning job with a spray bottle mixture of ¼ cup of vinegar, 1 cup of warm water, and a couple drops of dish detergent. Use a soft-bristled brush to wipe your upholstery clean. After 15 minutes or so, use a clean, dry cloth to absorb extra moisture.
Now, you have a clean interior!
Keep cleaning products in your car
In order to keep your seats and interior clean while on the go, carry some cleaning products in the car:
Baby wipes are great for quickly cleaning up small spills and stains. Since they don’t contain any harmful chemicals, they are a safe and effective way to keep your vehicle clean.
Microfiber cloths are great for cleaning around the house, garage, and the car. These ultra-absorbent cloths are strong, durable, and reusable. They are better at pulling away dust and dirt than paper towels and old rags, which is why they are perfect for automotive cleaning. Carry some microfiber cloths in the car and use them to wash the inside and outside of your car.
Seltzer water/club soda is a great stain remover. Keep a can or two in your car for a cheap and quick cleaning job. Use your microfiber cloths to get rid of stains as they occur.
Vinegar can be combined with soda water to effectively clean upholstery and carpets.
Coffee filters can be used to wipe up dirt and dust from your car. They are also used to create a streak-free shine on windows. Simply add a little club soda or your favorite cleaning solution and run it along your interior for a cheap and easy cleaning job.
Foam craft brushes are perfect for getting in between small spaces in your vehicle. For instance, if you wanted to clean the dirt that has collected in your A/C vents or get inside your door-side container, dollar-store foam brushes are the way to go.
Cupcake liners can be used to keep your drink holders clean. Just replace them once they get dirty.
When you are done with your cleaning job, you can also use cornstarch to soak up any remaining moisture. Just vacuum it up afterwards and enjoy your new, clean car.
Use seltzer water and alcohol to prevent windshield wiper streaks
Clean your windshield wipers and prevent streaking by periodically wiping them clean with a cloth dipped in seltzer water and alcohol.
Use a plastic cereal container as a small garbage can
Where do you toss your garbage when you are in the car? Do you use those small slots in the door?
Rather than making a mess of your vehicle and clean-up a pain, pick up a plastic cereal container for a couple of bucks. It will serve as your mess-free garbage can for the rest of your driving days.
You can easily insert a plastic bag for easy clean-up, and it also has a lid to contain any smells. This is a great way to keep trash where it belongs—in a trash bag.
Use an empty tissue box to store your plastic bags
Instead of throwing away your old tissue boxes, reuse them for your car. Put a bunch of plastic bags in a tissue box for easy access. If anybody needs an extra bag for shopping, barfing, or cleaning up, it will always be there.
Place a laundry basket in your trunk for easy organization
When you are driving, do you hear stuff rolling around and making noise in your trunk? If you had a laundry basket in there, you would be able to contain all of your items so they aren’t flying around the trunk.
Laundry baskets can be picked up for just a couple of dollars at your local discount store.
Drape a shoe organizer on the backs of seats to keep everything neat
You’ve probably already heard of this little car organizing hack, but have you actually done it? It’s surprisingly effective at keeping everything in your car organized and easily accessible.
The “hack” has gotten so popular that you can now buy back-seat organizers that have been specifically designed for the car. Store everything from maps and medicines to toys and coloring supplies.
Also, if you have loose colored pencils or crayons lying around, you can store them neatly in an empty DVD case.
Use a shower caddy to organize all of your vehicle’s fluids
Where do you currently store your motor oil, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid? If they are just knocking around in your trunk, now’s the time to make a simple change that will greatly improve your life on the road.
Simply purchase a cheap shower caddy and use it to organize all of the necessary fluids for your car.
Learn more about car fluids and how to maintain your vehicle here.
Consider a wheel cover
While some people argue against wheel covers, they can help keep your steering wheel in good shape. Sun and dirty hands can quickly make a steering wheel look old and raggedy. In addition to keeping your steering wheel clean, wheel covers also increase safety by improving grip and reducing driver fatigue.
Additionally, a cloth cover won’t ever get as hot or cold as your regular steering wheel, enabling you to get on the road in comfort sooner than usual.
We’d love to hear your cleaning and organization hacks for the car. Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
Why do we feel the need to name our cars? Is it because they have distinct human visages?
With headlights that leer and a grill that seems ready to snap or laugh, it’s hard not to see faces and personalities in cars and automobiles. In fact, the personality expressed in a vehicle’s “face” is often a huge reason why we choose to purchase one car over another.
Car designers know this too, which is why you see meaner, more aggressive faces in trucks and sports cars, and milder, more friendly faces in SUVs and family vehicles. Anyone who has seen the Cars movies knows that not only do the faces match the cars’ personalities (think of Lighting McQueen and Mater), but their names do as well.
Cars really do resemble people. Our brains cannot help but anthropomorphize them. It’s a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia. So why shouldn’t they be given names?
Besides, it’s your chance to go crazy with names that you might not otherwise use for your children or pets.
So, What Should I Name My Car?
“Box with Wheels” and “Mr. Car” won’t work. Sure, you can call it that, but you’re probably looking for something a bit more creative. Since naming your car is a big decision that you’ll live with for a long time, don’t rush it.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when naming your car:
1. Consider the Car’s Personality (Make and Model)
What does your car look like? This is the biggest factor to take into consideration. Does it look like a boy or a girl? Old or young?
Is it a sports car, a large car, a classic car, or a new car? Think of any distinctive character traits that it has. Does it make a lot of noise or barely none at all? Is it large or small? No matter what make or model you have, you can find something that will help you in the naming process. In fact, that’s how the Volkswagen “Beetle” got its name. The car was originally just called Volkswagen, but the obvious resemblance to a beetle or bug gave it its lasting nickname.
If you are a person who likes rhymes and puns, you can use the make/model as inspiration for a fun and quirky name for your car:
Rhonda the Honda
Jack the Cadillac
But be weary of names that get old quick. Try to stick with ones that aren’t so obvious:
Vlad (Chevy Impala)
Stacy (Chevy Malibu)
Frank (Hyundai Sonata)
2. Consider Your Personality
You don’t want to name your car Lighting, Dash, or Speedy if you are the kind of person who likes to take it slow. If you are shy, think of a more laidback name. If you are an extrovert, a quirkier name will be more suitable.
Are you a history buff or a big fan of a certain sports team, movie director, or author? Get creative! Just make sure the name matches your personality as well.
3. The License Plate
The letters in your license plate might give you a good idea for a name. For instance, if your license plate has the letters SDE, you might want to call it Sadie. MDN could be Madonna. You get the idea. It’s also a great mnemonic for remembering your license plate.
4. Consider the Color of the Car
The color of your car can put you in the right direction.
5. Consider Celebrity Babies’ Names
When you are a famous celebrity, it’s hard to name your kid Martha or Mike. Take inspiration from some of the most creative baby names:
6. Consider Fictional Character Names
These movie, book, video game, and myth-inspired names can also work for children and pets.
Game of Thrones:
Superheroes and Villains:
The Sandman Series:
Greek and Roman Names:
Additional Names Inspired by Movies, TV Shows, and Video Games:
You can also look at various card games for inspiration, such as Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Magic: The Gathering.
7. Consider Names Inspired by Athletes and Sports
If you have a favorite sport or athlete, this may be the perfect time to show your allegiance:
Naming your car should be an enjoyable experience. You’ll look back fondly on the day when it clicked and you found the perfect name for your new baby.
May 12th is National Odometer Day. While you may not be familiar with National Odometer Day, you probably know that the odometer in your car measures the distance traveled by the vehicle.
But did you know that the invention of the odometer predates motor vehicles by over 2000 years? First described by Vetruvius in 27 BCE, it is widely accepted that odometers were first used by the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Some say that the odometer was invented by Archimedes during the first Punic War (Scientific American).
While no one can say for sure who invented the device, there has always been a great desire for such a device. Odometers were and remain a great way to measure distances between two places. They literally paved the way for modern road building and travel.
An odometer (aka a roadometer) works by counting the number of wheel rotations and then multiplying it by the circumference of the tire, which is the diameter of the tire times pi (3.14…). Leonardo Da Vinci’s odometer (seen above) works by collecting small stones into a dedicated holder, which can then be counted to accurately measure the distance traversed by the wheel. Click here for more information on how odometers work.
Keep in mind that heavily worn tires and under-inflated tires can cause errors in odometer readings.
Why Are Odometers Useful?
Odometer readings are important because they give you a general sense of the value of the car. This simple number indicates:
When it’s time for an oil change (about every 3,000 miles, but double-check your owner’s manual)
When expected repairs and maintenance are due (check owner’s manual for maintenance schedule)
Never ignore strange sounds, smells, or vibrations
If you notice anything strange or wrong with the vehicle, take it in for a professional inspection. Similarly, never ignore your dashboard warning lights.
Change the oil every 3,000-3,500 miles
Regular oil changes are probably the best way to extend the lifespan of your vehicle. While 3,000 miles (around 3 months) is a safe bet, check your owner’s manual for the proper oil change schedule.
Avoid lots of starts and stops
If you mostly drive on the highway, you have a better chance of passing the 200,000-mile mark. If you can’t avoid a lot of local start-and-stop trips, try to coast as much as possible. Sudden starts and stops will diminish your vehicle’s lifespan. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Try to drive on the highway at least once a month.
Don’t turn your heating or cooling on right away
Allow the vehicle to warm up for a minute or two before turning on the heating or air conditioning. This helps everything get lubricated first, reducing the load on your engine.
Don’t make these manual transmission mistakes
Use your brakes rather than the gears to slow the vehicle down. Shoot for 2,000-3,000 revolutions per minute (RPM) to avoid stressing the engine.
Don’t depress the clutch pedal more than necessary. While it may seem cool and comfortable, don’t rest your hand on the gear shifter.
Fill your tank up with the correct gas
Check your owner’s manual to know the proper octane level for your vehicle. Filling up with the wrong octane level can diminish your vehicle’s lifespan.
Unfortunately, odometer fraud is a common problem in the car buying and selling process. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 450,000 vehicles are sold each year with false odometer readings! That’s is one reason why it’s so important to purchase a vehicle from a trusted source (learn about the risks involved when buying from a private seller).
Before changes in how odometers were made, they could be easily tampered with. Sometimes, the cable could be reversed so that the numbers ran backwards instead of forwards. While odometers in newer vehicles have many safeguards in place to prevent this kind of tampering, older vehicles are still susceptible to odometer fraud.
Luckily, consumers have a few options to detect odometer fraud:
Check CarFax Vehicle History Report
The CarFax reports will give you mileage records, inconsistencies, and other odometer problems. Compare the mileage on the odometer with the reported mileage on the vehicle maintenance and inspection reports. Since inspections normally record the mileage number any inconsistencies are a clear red flag. Make sure the odometer reading is higher than the latest record.
If the seller does not provide a Vehicle History Report, order your own using the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
The numbers are not lined up straight, contain gaps, or jiggle
Sometimes, if the odometer has been rolled back, the numbers will not line up straight. Unaltered odometer numbers are perfectly aligned. Look carefully at the 10,000 place number. This digit is the one most commonly tampered with. If the numbers jiggle when you hit the dash, contain gaps, or are misaligned, there’s a high chance they have been tampered with. Walk away from the purchase.
Estimate the odometer reading by calculating the age of the car
The average car puts on about 12,000 miles per year. If the car is 7 years old, it should have around 84,000 miles on it. If not, there is cause for concern. Investigate the causes for lower than average mileage, such as if the car is a backup or the owner has a reason to rarely use it.
Look for inconsistent wear and tear
Look for inconsistent wear and tear in the interior of the vehicle. Pay special attention to the gas, brake, and clutch pedals. Make sure they are consistent with the odometer reading. Examine other high-touch areas, such as the steering wheel, seats, and arm rests. If you are unsure, take the car to a mechanic for an inspection (you should conduct your own vehicle inspection regardless).
Check the tires
If there is less than 20,000 miles on the car, it should still have the original tires. Inspect the wear of the tires by asking a mechanic to check the depth of the tread. If there is 20,000-25,000 miles on the car, the tread should be deeper than 2/32 of an inch. If the vehicle has new tires or the tire tread is significantly deeper than 2/32 inch, then there is cause for concern. You can also measure tire tread depth yourself with the penny test.
Finally, take the vehicle to a mechanic and ask them to specifically look for signs of odometer fraud. This includes inspecting the vehicle for replacement parts. If the odometer has a low reading, there shouldn’t be many replacement parts. They will be familiar with other fraud detections as well.
Learn more about odometer fraud by visiting nhtsa.gov.
Happy National Odometer Day!
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