Posts

Cars stuck in Snow Storm

Cars stuck in Snow StormOn February 12, 2014, a big snow storm hit the east coast. The storm brought snow almost all day, followed up by ice at night. It was a traffic nightmare. People were stuck in their cars, for 6+ hours. Some even had to abandon their cars and walk home in the snow. Lucky for me, I was off work that day. My wife and I stayed home all day, and watched the new reports. Today I want to talk about some things folks could have done to put themselves in a better position if something went wrong.

Snow in the south is different than snow in the north!
Before we move into the main topic, I need to talk about this. I lived in the suburbs of Chicago until I was 24. I remember driving in snow all the time. Here in the south it is very different. It is not just that we do not have the equipment to maintain the roads. We also see more ice than snow. We also have the people that “grew up in the north” and think they can drive on ice. I admit I was that guy when we first moved here. Now I LOVE the fact that the town shuts down. Now we can move on and get to things that can help anyone in this situation.

Avoid the situation
The easiest way keep yourself out of trouble is to avoid it all together. That means when it snows you stay home. For most of us, this is not an option. My dealers policy is “we are open, get here if you feel safe”. I have only called in a few times. Like I said yesterday, I am an old school type dude. So this is not my first thought. I always try to make it in. But if you do not have to go out, don’t go out.

Keep your vehicle ready
This time I am not talking about maintenance. I am talking about having things you store in your car to be ready for a situation like this. You don’t need to have a giant SUV to keep a few extra things in your car.

Cars stuck in Snow Storm

Photo c/o News&Observer

  • first aid kit
  • safety triangle
  • flashlight
  • water
  • snacks
  • boots
  • cellphone charger
  • get home bag
  • full tank of gas
  • weather appropriate gear, coats gloves, hats, socks, socks, socks
  • A reflective jacket.
    This advice comes from my buddy Lucas at TriangleTactical.com. It is something I never even thought about.

Everything on this list, other than the get home bag, will fit in a small bag in the trunk of your car. Having a get home bag might make you seem like a crazy person. I can’t tell you how many people I seen get interviewed say they walked 2 miles, 5 miles or more. That is a long, cold, wet walk if you are not somewhat prepared.

I am sure that some of those “walkers” did not have to abandon their cars. But it is not always about YOU and YOUR can. It might be the 10 cars in front of you, and 40 cars behind you that are stuck. I think back to something my mom always said to me. “It’s not you that I don’t trust, it’s all the other crazies”.

I hope that you all will take 15 minutes tonight and evaluate your car kits. If you got stuck in the snow, would you be able to make it home 3 miles? What if you stayed in your car? Would you be freezing, hungry, and with out cell phone communication?

I used this event to evaluate my own 3 cars. Here is the results:

  • CabbyCars stuck in Snow Storm
    Well, the Cabby is not running right now. So I have nothing in it. More updates on the Cabby later this week.
  • Passat
    The Passat is pretty well stocked. I have everything on the list, other than a reflective jacket. I will be adding that ASAP. I do need to restock my water and snacks
  • Frontier
    The truck is about 50/50. We have first aid kits, flashlights, chargers, and water. But we need a get home bag. This will be done this weekend.

I really do want you all to take some time and evaluate your car. Most of what you need can be found around the house. What you have to buy, think about hitting the Dollar Store. It is a great place to get things you will keep in your car. I would recommend buying a good quality flashlight.

Did I forget anything? What do you keep in your car to keep you out of a jam? Post it up in the comments. It can help all of us safe.

Today we are rounding home on this 3 part road trip prepping series. I know what you are thinking, “Charles, my car is ready to go. How much dang prepping can one car get?” Wells friends, you can not over prepare.

It is now a day or two before the big trip. You got your car serviced, and running great. All your gadgets are ready to go. You have the route planed, and your tunes all set. Before you pack up the car, we have a couple of things left to do.

Clean the car

If you are like me, you hate riding around in a dirty car. Just think of how annoying it will be riding around in a dirty car for hours on end. I would also wax the car. It will make cleaning all the bug guts a little easier. I will also be throwing some glass cleaner and a rag in the trunk. When we stop for gas I can get the windshield clean.

I will most likely be taking my Passat to work today and getting it cleaned up.

Snacks

A MUST when taking long trips. In Prepping Your Car Part 1, Gezika suggested bringing a cooler with some drinks on ice. I totally agree with her. Pick your favorite snacks and load them into the cooler. If you want to keep everything from getting soaked from the melting ice, try dry ice. It will keep everything nice and cold, and dry. (shocking something called dry ice would do that) 😛

Make sure you have some drinks for yourself as well. I keep a few bottles of water in my car all the time. Both for drinking and for topping off coolant if needed. Don’t forget the coffee! A lot of coffee.

The final check

The night before a road trip, I do one final check. I recheck

  • All the lights~I found 2 lights that were out.
  • All the fluids
  • tire pressures
  • wiper blades
  • tool kit
  • first aid kit
  • car registration and other car documents
  • Spare tire~When I checked mine last week, I found it was flat. Glad I checked 😉

With all that done, you should be as ready to go as you can. There are countless things that can happen on a road trip. You might not be able to prep for all of them, but the better you prepare your car, the easier dealing with a problem will be.

One more thing. Make sure you have your bags properly checked. I have went on road trips before and realized I messed that up.

Me and a buddy drove to the beach a few years back. I picked him up from the airport, and we headed out. The trip was about 3 hours. We rolled into the hotel about 11pm. I opened the trunk to find that I forgot my bag. I only had the clothes I was wearing. I had to swing by Walmart and get a few things. Luckily we were only there for 2 nights.

There was also the time when my wife and I drove to Richmond, VA for a concert. My lovely wife told me to leave my stuff out, and she would pack it for me. I set out my stuff for her. She met me at work and we rolled out. We got checked in to the hotel. I opened the bag to find none of my stuff. Somehow she forgot half of both of our things. HA (sorry honey but it was really funny)

Moral of the stories, make sure you pack all your stuff, AND put it in the car!

Well, that pretty much wraps up the Prepping for a road trip series. I hope you all enjoyed, and can use some of the tips to plan your own really great trip. If you have not “liked” the Facebook page, or don’t follow on twitter, now is the time. I will be posted from the road over the next few days!

Last week we talked about prepping your car before a big road trip. Now we are going to talk about the things that need to be done about a week before your trip.

So it’s one week before the trip. You have taken your car in or DIY’d all the maintenance. Your just ready to hit the road right? Well, not so fast, we still have some things to get dialed in.

Get your route in order

If the trip is one that you don’t make often, you will need to get the route down. I don’t mean you need to know it by heart, but an overview of the trip is important. Here are the things that I do when I plan out a driving route.

  • “Map Quest” the route. To be honest, I don’t even know if you can Map Quest anything. 🙂 I generally use Google maps. I will print out the 2 main routes for my trip. This way, you have a back up if your GPS fails.
  • Make sure the GPS is up to date.
  • If you have a smart phone, you can save the route to the phone. I am pretty sure that there are a lots of route guidance apps out there.

I know that might seem like overkill, but a few minutes of work can help if your GPS dies.

Share your plans

I remember being a kid and taking road trips to Missouri. My grandparents would always have the neighbors keep an eye on their house. They lived in a really cool court with great neighbors. It was strange that there was a really old, like early 1900s, cemetery right behind their house.

Today we still do the same with our neighbors. With all the cool technology, we can take it a few steps further. I will be emailing the route to the neighbors, and to my family. It’s just like sharing where you are going when you take a really long wilderness hike.

Now, don’t be foolish and advertise that you are not going to be home. THAT would be silly.

Get some entertainment

I generally do most of my road trips solo. I can be boring. I am kinda nerdy, so I survive the drive on podcasts! To me, podcasts and talk radio seem to make time fly. I also dig audio books. The first audio book I listen to was some strange “doomsday 2012” book. It talked about the Mayas coming from outer space and stealing your children, or whatever it was. HA, the book was awful.

This time, I get to road trip it with my wife. She is a podcast pro! We will be enjoying The Nerdest, Stop Podcasting Yourself, and Doug Loves Movies. I am sure if there was a Dr Who podcast, we would be listening to that too.

Loading up the Ipod with music, podcasts, and audio books will help avoid skimming radio stations trying to find something tolerable.

Make a backup plan

By the end of this post, you might just think I am crazy, OCD, or just plain nuts. The truth is, I try to make sure that I am prepped for things, especially when it comes to a road trip. Let’s face it, things can go wrong when you are on a 900 mile trip. So here are a few other things that I will be doing before a trip.

  • Print out a list of important phone numbers. Family, friends, anyone that you might need to contact in case of emergency.
  • Get a list of a few hotels along the way. If you get tired, you will have information on a place to stay. It beats the heck out of some sleazy roadside motel, or paying $300 for a night.
  • Make sure you have all your auto insurance information. If something bad happens you can’t just run home and get it.
  • Same goes for your bank account information and phone numbers.
  • CASH! Having some extra cash is always a great idea. On a road trip it is crucial. It be as simple as paying cash for the bag of Chex mix.
  • Make sure you have your car registration! Why would it not be in the car in the first place?

The cool thing about most of this stuff is, it’s one and done. Once you do it, you have the information. You can keep it in a safe place in the car.

Now that you have your car ready, and your mind ready, it’s just about time to hit the road. We will have one more set of checks before we leave. For that, you will have to wait until part 3! In part 3 we talk a couple of last minute car inspection, and my personal favorite, snacks and drinks.

I realized I forgot to tell you guys about the trip.(thanks Garrett) My wife and I will be traveling to Chicago for 4 days, 2 of which will be spent in the car. We will be visiting family and friends. We will also be visiting a few beer breweries. It will be nice to visit the city, see some friends and family, and enjoy some Chicago beer.

I also want to do something cool while we are on the road. I need some ideas. Post pictures to Facebook? Instagram, Twitter? How can we make this really fun? I did set up a ZELLO channel. It works like a walkie talkie for your smart phone. I will have it turned on the entire trip. Feel free to download it, and check out Humble Mechanic channel.

Hey everyone! Today I want to share some tips on preparing your car for a road trip. My wife and I are taking a road trip soon, so this is perfect timing.

What I really want to get into today is, things we should do about 2 weeks before a big road trip. What is a big road trip? Well for us it will be driving a little over 2000 miles in 4 days. That is a lot of time on the road, so I want to be sure that my car is

  • Up to date on all the maintenance
  • Functioning properly
  • Safe
  • Clean

Maintenance

This one is pretty easy. About 2 weeks before your trip, make sure your car is 100% up to date on all the maintenance. That might mean you are a little early for an oil change, but it is better than being 1000 miles past due.

This is a time where taking your car to the dealer is going to be the best choice. Dealer mechanics see all the common issues with your car. They know to look for leaks in certain spots. Spots that a Jiffy Change place might not. For those of you that “hate” taking your car to the dealer. I would really consider it before a long road trip.

Taking your car in a couple of weeks before your trip will give you time to make any repairs your car will need. It will allow plenty of time for your mechanic to order parts. It will also give you a day or so to really consider the repair. You can use the tips listed in “How to tell if a mechanic is ripping you off“. I would really recommend getting the following services done.

  • Oil and filter change
  • Tires rotated and balanced, this will also give a mechanic a chance to look for strange tire wear or nails, screw ect.
  • Not a MUST, but really consider a 4 wheel alignment. That slight pull is not a big deal around town, but imagine 12 hours dealing with it.
  • Cabin air filter, you will be in the car a long time. You don’t want to A/C to be smelly
  • Top off ALL fluids
  • Replace windshield wipers
  • Full inspection of car for leaks, and any other maintenance issues like brakes and belts.

Again, doing these things about 2 weeks before the trip will give you time. If you are a DIYer make sure you do a full inspection too.

Is Everything Working?

Now is the time to make sure everything works. Go ahead and push all the buttons. Make sure things like your windshield washer sprayers work. Do a walk around and inspect your lights. You don’t want to get pulled over in the middle of the night, in another state for having a light out do you?

This is also the time to break out the tool kit that came with the car. Make sure your jack works, and that you have all the items needed to change a tire. DON’T FORGET THE WHEEL LOCK!

If you are planning on using a GPS, a power inverter, a phone charger make sure they work. I would consider getting a backup phone charger in case one stops working. You will be relying on these during your trip make sure they work. Also check and make sure all your 12v outlets work. You can have 100 chargers, but with something to plug them into they are worthless.

Safety Check

This is something you do with out even knowing. This time I want to make sure you are knowingly checking. Look at all the things like your seat belts, air bags, brake system(again) light(again). For me, part of my drive will be through the mountains. I need to make sure my car is 100% safe.

Also when it comes to safety, make sure your first aid kit to good to go. I would take it out of the car, and inventory it. Be sure that nothing is expired, or ruined by heat/cold. Or that something didn’t spill inside the kit. If you don’t have a first aid kit, check out “Building a vehicle first aid kit“.

I would also take the tool kit you built out and make sure everything is cool! If you carry a “bug out bag” or a “get home bag” I would do the same with that bag.

Remember, this is just part 1 of the series on prepping your car for a road trip. We will get into more things you need to do to prep your car in part 2 and maybe part 3.

Is there any rituals you guys have for road trips? Other than hitting the road at 3am I don’t think I do. Well that an obsessing about the trip for weeks. But that is just me!

Don’t forget Shop Shots tomorrow. If you want your car featured in the Reads Rides section, email me a couple of pictures and some detail about your car. Send them to Charles(at)HumbleMechanic(dot)com Put something like READERS RIDES in the subject so It doesn’t get filtered into spam.

Hey everyone!

I hope you are all enjoying a nice Saturday. It’s warm and raining here. As you know, I have been on vacation from work this past week. I just wanted to give you a little recap of my week off…In no particular order.

Interview
On Wednesday, I was featured on a really cool automation blog. Matt over at CashDollar.biz and I talk about car technology. We get a little more techie than I normally do here, but I think it turned out pretty great. Swing by and check it out.

Video
I hope everyone got to see yesterdays video post. It is just a quick video showing you How to check and replace a fuse. I did that video after a conversation with a customer, who had no idea how to replace a fuse. Remember, we all start somewhere.

Article Mention
An article I wrote a while back was mentioned on a preparedness site called Prepsted.com. Shawn wrote a really post about vehicle maintenance, and brief How-to on changing oil. Head over and check out Shawn’s site. He has TONS of great information on homesteading, and some around the house tips.

Around my house
Since our travel plans were cancelled, I used the time off to work around the house. My big accomplishment was getting a blueberry patch started and finished. I know its not cars stuff, but just something else I am into.

POST POST POST
I love the weeks where I can get 5 good posts done. I also had some time to work on another site. It is not fully up and running yet, but as soon as it is, I will let you guys know.

I will be back in the shop next week. I am looking forward to getting back to wrenching, but I have enjoyed the hell out of being off work. Not to mention the fact that I will be catching up for about 2 weeks. 😉

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Charles

Hey guys, I wanted to give you a slightly different perspective today. My good friend Kristin is medical professional. I was able to sweet talk her into writing a post for us. We get to hear from her about building a small med kit for your car. PLEASE post any questions you have for Kristin in the comments below. AND thank her for the great information that she has given us!

Hello, my name is Kristin. Charles asked if I would write a blog post for him about a simple first aid kit to put in your car in case you come across an emergency and want to help out before the EMT’s get there.  I have been a CMA, Certified Medical Assistant, for the past six years and I have always carried a first aid kit in my vehicle and unfortunately I have had to use it on several occasions. I will include pictures of my kit so you can see how easy and simple it can be to put together.

First and foremost you should take a first aid and CPR class through a local organization like the Red Cross, they are cheap and could save someone’s life and if you are going to help in an emergency it is good to know what to do.  A charged cell phone is also a vital item to have so that you can call for help and get the professionals to the scene.

The kit does not have to be anything fancy or expensive the professionals will have all the good equipment to help the person, you are just trying to keep them stable until someone can arrive.  I have my kit in a small tool box that I purchased on sale for about ten dollars, there are also a few larger items that won’t fit in the box but are easily stored in your trunk.

  • Gloves are very important and should be worn at all times when touching someone else especially if they are bleeding.
  • Alcohol pads, preferably individually wrapped ones, are good to have to clean up any blood or to get debris out of wounds.
  • A bottle of aspirin is a cheap thing that could literally save someone’s life; again a first aid course so you know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack is helpful.
  • I keep some Band-Aids in my kit just for small cuts, the ones I have are latex free but I don’t know if this is really necessary, I just don’t want to do more harm to someone if they have an allergy.
  • I also keep some cheap dollar store feminine pads in my kit, this may seem strange but they are good for wrapping larger wounds and are absorbent and cheaper than getting a bunch of large gauze.
  • I have some tape, wrap and some old t-shirts in my kit to use for wrapping splints or to attach the absorbent material to the person.
  • A flashlight can be an important part of the kit if you are stopping at night or need to check someone’s eyes.  You should already have a flashlight in your kit that the Humble Mechanic showed you in the post “Building an Affordable Tool Kit for Your Car”.
  • The parts of the kit that will probably not fit in your kit are a couple of towels or blankets and some large wooden sticks that they use to stir five gallon paint buckets with at Lowes or Home Depot.

You may have some of these items already and most of these items can be bought at a Dollar Store for very cheap or obtained for free.  The most expensive part of my kit is a CPR mask, this is not necessary really unless you are planning to do mouth to mouth , I have never had to do mouth to mouth on anyone and they now have a hands only version of CPR that would work well until an ambulance can arrive.

I hope this is has been helpful so you can put together a cheap kit that could make you feel more comfortable stopping at a scene and helping.  Feel free to ask questions in the comments section and I will try and answer them. ~Kristin Donadeo, CMA

Thanks Kristin~ This is not the last you guys will hear about this topic. 😉 I will be building 2(one for each car) and show you guys how easy and affordable this car be!

Here is the complete kit!

Happy Friday guys!

Today I give you some tips on changing a tire. I also show you how the heck to use that jack for your Volkswagen. The usage of the jack is VW specific, but the tips and tricks will apply any time you have to change a tire.


I am still working out the kinks of shooting videos, but I think this came out pretty good.  No editing at all..  That is my goal, shoot and post!

Here are some close up pics of the jack, the tool kit and the proper place to put the jack!


[slideshow]