Winter Driving Safety Tips

When winter hits, so does a lot of difficult driving dilemmas –  from heavy snow and ice to below-zero temperatures.  According to the National Weather Service, icy roads can lead to an increase in traffic accidents. To help stay safe on the roads, brush up on your winter car driving know-how with these safety tips.

This post is sponsored by East Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.

1. Build a Winter Car Emergency Kit
It’s always good to be prepared for emergencies while you are on the road. Keep a winter emergency kit in your car with necessities such as a snow shovel, a brush, warning flares, reflective triangles, a bag of kitty litter (or sand), extra clothes, gloves, hand warmers, hats, thermal blankets, snacks, water, and an emergency battery for your cell phone. Also make sure you have a first-aid kit (that’s been updated). Put it in plastic container and keep it in your trunk!

2. Check Your Tires
When temps fluctuate, so does the pressure in your tires. You have to make sure that they are inflated properly, and check your tire pressure at least once a month. Depending on your area, you may want to invest in winter tires. If not, ensure you have a safe enough tread depth for road conditions.

3. Avoid Spinning Out on Ice 
As you know, slick surfaces require a longer stopping distance  – so make sure that you keep a greater-than-usual distance between your car and others when on snowy and icy roads. This will give you ample time to respond to the road and weather hazards; make gentle accelerations and practice braking to maintain a consistent traction. If your wheels begin to spin, release the gas until traction returns. Do not hit gas or brake until you have control of your car again. . and stay calm!

4. Maintain Your Car’s Battery 
Engine’s oil thickens as temps drop – the thicker the oil, the more power your battery requires, especially if the battery is over 3 years old. I keep a battery booster in the car for emergencies, and it’s came in handy more than once.

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How to Remove Salt Stains from Your Car Mats

When roads get icy, road salt or ice melt can help make driving conditions safer. But that salt and ice melt can reek havoc and make a disastrous mess when it’s tracked in your car.  Thankfully, there’s an easy way to remove salt stains and ice melt from your car mats.

This post is sponsored by Central Avenue Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.

Step 1: Combine the Ingredients
Stir together 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of warm water in a bucket, AutoFocus recommends. Pour into a spray bottle using a funnel.

Step 2: Test the Mixture
Before you try this cleaning method, test it in an inconspicuous portion of your car mat to help ensure it doesn’t stain or damage it. Allow the test spot to dry completely before using the mixture on the rest of your mats.

Step 3: Spray the Mats
Remove the mats from your vehicle and spray them with the mixture.

Step 4: Scrub Away
Use a scrub brush to remove the stains, says.

Step 5: Dry the Mats
Blot the mats using a clean, dry towel.

Step 6: Repeat as Necessary
If stains remain, repeat the process.

Step 7: Allow Mats to Dry
Let the mats air dry, then return them to your vehicle. You can also try this method to remove salt or ice melt stains from the carpet inside your car, too.

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Things to Look for When Buying a Used Car

This post is sponsored by Marburger Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.

Many consumers (like myself) prefer to purchase used cars versus new. Since buying a used car is sometimes a sensible option, you still need to be smart about your choices.

Sometimes used cars are sold with hidden damages that can be a very costly problem – to avoid purchasing a “lemon” , here’s a checklist to help check the condition and value before buying a used car.


Here are some steps to take when inspecting a used car for mechanical issues:

  • Look carefully at the car’s exterior and interior.
  • Go for a test drive.
  • Perform a leak test.
  • Have a trusted mechanic inspect the vehicle.

The Car’s Exterior and Interior

The exterior and interior condition of a vehicle can play a significant role in the value of the vehicle. You need to check over it carefully, checking for rips, rust and for any repairs that might need made. Open the hood, get a good look at the engine and parts – dirty and rusted parts can be a sign of trouble down the road.

Take it for a Test Drive

ALWAYS ALWAYS take your car on a test drive – on local roads and highways. You need to see how the car responds and performs. On local roads you can feel how the car shifts and responds to sharp turns. You can also get the condition of the breaks with stop and go conditions. On the highway you can see if the engine runs smoothly. Keep your eyes and ears open – listen for unusual engine or break noise – and check to see how the electronics are working.

Perform a Leak Test

Any car with leaks is generally a RED FLAG. During your test drive, take a moment to park in a clean area and let the car run for a few minutes. Then move the car and do a visible inspection for leaks. Black fluid can be leaking oil, green fluid anti-freeze and pink fluid , transmission.

Take it to a Trusted Mechanic

A lot of people won’t take the time to have a mechanic inspect their car before purchase – and you may wish you would have in the future. Having your trusted mechanic take a look, or even paying a mechanic for an inspection, can be worth every penny. They can help find hidden problems that you might not be able to see, and help you get an idea if it’s worth what they are asking. If there were – or may be – any major problems especially with the engine or transmission, they can let you know.



Once you feel the car is in good condition, consider these steps to further research the vehicle:

  • Read reviews on the make and model.
  • Figure out a fair purchase price.
  • Make sure to decode the VIN.
  • Review the vehicle history report.
  • Consider looking at certified pre-owned vehicles.
  • Take your time to help avoid buyer’s remorse.

Following these simple steps should help assure that you have gotten a good deal and aren’t stuck with a lemon!



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Winter Road Hacks

As we in the Midwest have learned over the past few days, is that winter weather can create some inconvenient, unexpected issues. But by taking a few precautions you can prepare yourself to get through with these winter road hacks.

                      This post is sponsored by Rochester Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram.

1. De-Ice Your Locks with Hand Sanitizer

If you don’t have a garage and you park on the street (like me) it can get really icy – especially your locks! If you don’t have a commercial lock de-icer, hand sanitizer can do the trick! Since it contains alcohol – an ingredient that helps melt ice – it makes it the perfect de-icer! To help melt the ice, cover the end of your key with hand sanitizer and insert into the key hole, aiming to get as much product in the lock as possible. This should help melt the ice and help you get your car on the road.  A good idea to make sure that you always have some with you, is to purchase a key ring that holds the sanitizer, so its hooked to your keys.

2. Get Your Vehicle Out of Snow with Kitty Litter

Sometimes there is a lot of snow and sleet and it’s hard to get traction with your car – so use kitty litter! If you spread litter directly in front of the tires that are stuck, it can help your tires grip. Kitty litter is super cheap, so its a good idea to keep a bag in your trunk throughout the winter months.

3. Prevent Windshield Wipers From Freezing with Old Socks

Before I go to bed at night, and I know its going to snow or ice, I put socks over my windshield wiper blades. It helps keep them from freezing and sticking to the windshield. You can also lift the blades completely off the windshield as an extra precaution.

4. Cover Your Side Mirrors with Plastic Bags to Prevent Frost Buildup

If you are like me, you keep all your plastic grocery bags you know just in case (they are handy for several reasons). You should keep a few of those in your glove compartment to help your side mirrors from freezing. If you have freezing temps (especially if it comes with rain or snow) cover each mirror with a bag to help keep the elements from icing over your mirrors. This can help you save TONS of time when it comes to getting ready to leave!

These few hacks can help you with some of the  challenges we have to face during the winter season


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Should You Buy the Insurance for Your Rental Car?

Another call I get a lot from clients, is when they are getting ready to go on vacation and they are renting a car; they always ask me “Am I covered?” as they are standing in the rental car agency about to sign the paperwork.

A good idea is a review your personal car insurance policy prior to renting a car. In some cases, the coverage you have on your car extends over to a rental. So a majority of the time the insurance that you would buy from the rental car company would be duplicate – a coverage you already pay for.

However, sometimes the rental companies coverage is a good idea to purchase – so its good to know what is covered, and what the rental company is offering.

This post is sponsored by Zeigler Ford of North Riverside.


Your personal auto insurance policy includes liability coverage and any additional coverages you’ve opted for, such as comprehensive or collision. Those coverages may extend to your rental car.

  • Liability coverage pays for medical bills or damage to another person’s property if you cause an accident in your vehicle (or your rental vehicle).
  • Comprehensive coverage pays to repair your vehicle (or your rental car) if it’s damaged by a covered peril, such as theft, wind, fire or natural disasters. Your comprehensive coverage’s deductible will apply.
  • Collision coverage pays to repair your vehicle (or your rental car) if it’s damaged when you collide with another vehicle or object, such as a fence or a tree. Your collision coverage’s deductible will apply.

In addition to your auto insurance, some credit cards offer extra insurance if you pay for a car rental using that card – and some dealerships offer a ‘free’ rental if your car is in the shop due to repairs (especially if it’s under warranty) it’s always good to check.

If you want to check about extra rental car insurance through your credit card, call the 800 number and explain your situation so they can give you the details and what is covered. Most credit card ‘insurance’ is secondary, to your primary insurance company. I also suggest getting it in writing.


Rental car agencies typically break out their extra insurance offerings such as;

Liability coverage is the same as you have have on your auto policy.

Collision/loss damage waiver  isn’t technically insurance. If you damage the rental car, this waiver may help cover the cost of repairing it. The waiver typically excludes coverage for damage caused by speeding or driving on unpaved roads.

The biggest issue with NOT purchasing the rental agency insurance is ‘loss of use’. This is loss of rental income for the car that they would normally have rented out, while it’s been repaired in a shop due to the accident that you had. Your auto policy will NOT reimburse for this – so this would be something that you’d be responsible for. Which, in summer when most cars/vans are booked well in advance, can get costly. Be sure to read the rental agreement to clarify what kinds of charges you could incur, and if there is a max.

Personal effects coverage may help cover your personal belongings, such as your laptop or clothing, if they’re stolen from the rental car. If you have renters or homeowners insurance, the personal property coverage on that policy typically helps cover your personal items through what’s known as “off-premises coverage.” Off-premises items are usually only covered up to a certain percentage of your personal property coverage. The deductible on your homeowners or renters insurance will apply. Check with your agent about the limits of your coverage.

Personal accident insurance may help pay your and your passengers’ medical bills if you’re injured in a rental car accident. The III says if you have health insurance, medical payments coverage or personal injury protection on your car insurance policy, you may already have coverage comparable to what the rental company offers. Medical payments coverage and personal injury protection (not available in all states) may help pay for medical bills due to a covered car accident.

If you’re not sure whether buying rental car insurance makes sense for you, it can help to weigh your options prior to picking up your rental.

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