Monthly Archives: December 2015

Make Your Car Safer in Bad Weather Conditions

According to the American Journal of Public Health, bad weather is a factor in up to 30% of all car crashes in the United States each year. This can add to the general displeasure of driving in the rain, sleet, or snow: you’re way more likely than before to end up in an accident and become hurt or hurt someone else. Accordingly, it makes sense to do your best to lower these risks as much as possible. Now that we’ve worked through the Why, here’s an article that can walk you through how to do this:

bad driving conditionsIt all starts with basic maintenance; keep your brakes working at top capabilities, keep your oil changed, make sure you have enough brake fluid, all that stuff. In general, a tune-up before each winter is a good, if expensive idea. That extra money could go towards saving your life… you never know. What you do know is, you don’t want to be broken down at the side of the road when the weather is poor and visibility is bad for fellow drivers. As we already learned, their chances of colliding with you are tripled in these conditions. So yeah, check your oil, transmission, coolant/antifreeze and brake fluids. Get your windshield wipers replaced if they’re looking old or you’ve noticed that they’re not as effective as they used to be. Check your tires and be sure to rotate them and replace them if and when they need it. Balding tires can increase your chances of skidding and/or hydroplaning in bad weather or getting a flat tire and ending up on the side of the road in the same dangerous situation we already discussed earlier.

If you’re wondering how to inspect your vehicle’s car for road-readiness, you’ve got a good question brewing. Tire inspections allow drivers to diagnose problems like lodged sharp objects, worn treads and poor tire pressure before they become dangerous problems. To check the tread, find where it looks most worn and slip a penny into a groove with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see the top of his head (because the treads are too worn down and short to extend any further), you may want to buy new tires.

If you’re living in the snow, you need to invest in snow chains. Make sure you understand how to fit them onto your tires and which ones are your drive tires so that you put them on the right pair. They’re not meant to be used on dry surfaces or to be used at high speeds, so make to use them appropriately and safely!

snow chainsKeep road salt, sand or kitty litter at hand. If your tires can’t get traction on an icy surface, a healthy dose of any of these three products ought to either melt the ice or provide enough traction to get you off and moving.

Keep an Emergency Car Kit on hand. You can buy these complete in stores or online, or assemble them yourselves. Just make sure to have bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, tape, an instant cell phone battery recharger, reflective triangles, road flares, a distress sign, a small tool kit with basic tools like a crescent wrench and adjustable screwdriver, jumper cables, a battery recharger, an ice scraper, a small shovel, a tow rope, an emergency radio, a blanket or sleeping bag, winter clothing, high-energy foods, etc.

Are Secondary Batteries Right for You?

Today’s RVs are more decked out with charge-hungry appliances than ever before; people are hauling around refrigerators, TVs, blenders, washer/dryers, and all kinds of other technological tools that never knew the nomadic lifestyle until very recently. How do they supply the necessary power for all this stuff? Originally people would sap the precious energy from their car’s starting battery, but now the needed power is so substantial that people would quickly drain the starting battery completely.

The solution? Purchase an auxiliary battery that can be charged using your car’s alternator. ¬†Although you may have never heard of it, the alternator is the your car battery’s right hand man, and they are a package deal.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

The alternator is named in reference to the term alternating current (AC). They are generally installed near the front of the engine and are driven by the crankshaft, and create AC power through electromagnetism, which is then channeled into the battery so it can provide voltage to run your car’s electrical components.

An automotive charging system is actually made up of three major parts consisting of the battery, the alternator, and the voltage regulator. The alternator helps the battery to generate power for services like the lights in your dashboard and the power that comes from your cigarette lighter when you plug in a phone-charging adaptor.

Back to alternating currents: your car battery emits direct current (DC) power, which isn’t as powerful or far-reaching as alternating current power. The alternator uses diodes to convert AC power to DC power so that your car battery can use it.

Ok great, so how do you use it to charge your auxiliary battery? First off, you have to find the right sized auxiliary battery; generally it’s recommended to find the largest one that can fit in your engine so that it can provide the most possible power while also lasting for the longest possible time.

So you get one of those, and then you buy a battery isolator, which is a device that allows your car’s alternator to recharge the auxiliary battery while protecting your car’s starting battery from discharging. Without this, you’re likely to discharge energy from both batteries at once which can eventually leave you in a situation in which your car won’t start and you have no way to power your cell phone or any other appliance to be used in that emergency situation.

battery isolatorBattery isolators are generally made of solenoid, which is a coil wound into a tightly packed helix so that it can create a nearly uniform magnetic field. There are many ways to operate the battery isolators, and the most highly recommended tends to be the VSR (Voltage Sensitive Relay). VSR battery isolators can sense what level of voltage implies that your car is on and what level implies its off and automatically links the batteries for charging purposes when your car is on and isolates your auxiliary battery when the car is off, keeping you from accidentally draining your starting battery.

With the proper equipment, you can charge your auxiliary battery just as you drive along, and with no risk to your car’s function.