Preparing for Winter Driving


Travelling during the winter months can present some significant challenges. Ice and snow-covered roads, reduced visibility and freezing temperatures can make driving difficult and even dangerous. With the holidays here, and many Canadians embarking on road trips to meet with family and friends, we would like to encourage travellers to drive with care. Here are some tips for making your winter drive as safe as possible:

Plan Your Route Ahead of Time
Know where you are going and what roads you are using before you head out. This will prevent you from struggling with maps or GPS while on the road. As much as possible, plan your route so that it uses main highways – they may not be faster, but they will be properly cleared and maintained.

Before you leave, check the road reports and make adjustments to your route as necessary. Leave a copy of your intended route with a friend or family member and call ahead to your destination with an approximate time of arrival.

Prepare an Emergency Car Kit
Transport Canada states that you should always have winter safety and emergency equipment in your car. A basic kit should contain the following:

  • Food that won’t spoil, such as energy bars,
  • Water – plastic bottles that won’t break if the water freezes (replace them every six months),
  • Blanket,
  • Extra clothing (including warm hats) and shoes or boots,
  • First aid kit with seatbelt cutter (or box cutter),
  • Small shovel, scraper and snowbrush,
  • Matches and several “survival” candles in a deep can (to warm hands, heat a drink, or use as an emergency light,
  • Wind-up flashlight,
  • Whistle – in case you need to attract attention, and
  • Roadmaps
  • Compass

In addition to an emergency car kit, Transport Canada recommends that you keep the following items in your trunk:

  • Shovel
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Sand, salt or cat litter (non-clumping),
  • Antifreeze and extra windshield washer fluid,
  • Tow chain,
  • Booster cables,
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Reflective vest, and
  • Warning light or road flares.

Have a wonderful holiday season and drive safe!

Source: https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafety/safevehicles-safetyfeatures-winterdriving-index-693.htm

 

Holiday Driving Games


As the holiday season approaches, many families will be hitting the road to spend time with loved ones. Road trips, especially long ones, can be a challenge for families when it comes to entertaining little ones. Many games come with unwieldy boards and small pieces that are easily misplaced and lost in a moving vehicle. Here are some fun games that don’t require boards or pieces to entertain the whole family on the road:

Banana Game
This game is perfect for younger children as it doesn’t require much skill. The first person to spot a yellow vehicle on the road shouts “Banana” to earn points. Points can be decided on the size or rarity of the yellow vehicle. For example, a yellow bus could be worth 5 points while an antique yellow Volkswagon Beetle could be worth 10 points. The winner can be judged as the first to reach a predetermined number of points or whoever has the highest score once you reach your destination.

License Plate Word Game
Stuck in traffic? The License Plate Word game can entertain the whole car. One by one, each passenger in the car has to come up with a word using the letters in the license plate of the vehicle in front of you. Passengers are eliminated when they can’t come up with a word in a pre-allotted time or repeat a word that has already been used. For example, if the car in front of you has “TUC” in the license plate, words that can be used are “Truck,” “Cute,” “Chute,” etc.

An advanced version of this game requires players to only come up with words that feature the letters in the same order as on the license plate. Using our previous example, players could use words like “Touch,” “Stuck,” or “Truncate.”

20 Questions
20 Questions is a guessing game that is easy to play and fun for all ages. To play this game, have one person think of a person or object. The rest of the passengers then have to guess who or what that person is thinking of by asking no more than 20 “yes” or “no” questions. Passengers can take turns thinking of people or objects for others to guess.

For added variation, try applying a holiday theme to the people/objects that passengers have to guess. Examples include mistletoe, eggnog, Santa Claus, or even specific relatives that you are traveling to visit.

Fortunately/Unfortunately
This is a great game to play with children as it encourages optimism and positive thought. Start the game by making an unfortunate statement. Passengers then have to come up with fortunate statements that demonstrate the silver lining of the unfortunate statement. For example, someone can start off by saying, “Unfortunately, the restaurant got my order wrong.” Responses to this could include, “Fortunately, I liked the dish that I got even better,” or “Fortunately, the service was excellent and they fixed it right away!”

Team Storytelling
Fun for a creative family, this road trip game involves crafting a story as a team. One passenger begins with an opening line like, “The Robinson’s were travelling to grandma’s house when, suddenly, they encountered…” From there, each person in the car can build and add to the story.

This can be an especially fun activity as, once you reach your destination, someone can write down the story and even include illustrations – making a fun holiday trip souvenir.

Choosing the Right Remote Car Starter


As the months start getting colder and the snow piles higher, some of us may start to think about finally installing a remote car starter. Stepping into a warm car when it’s -30°C outside is certainly more comfortable, but it is also better for your vehicle as well. Warming up your car prior to driving makes your engine oil more fluid –providing better lubrication once you are ready to go. However, with so many remote starters on the market, it can be hard to find the right one to fit your lifestyle and vehicle’s requirements. Here is an easy-to-follow guide to help you find a remote starter that is right for you:

Step 1: Review your warranty information

Check your vehicle warranty information.
This is always a good idea before installing any aftermarket equipment. If any damage is caused during the installation of the starter, or if the starter causes any problems with your vehicle’s electrical system – your dealership or car manufacturer may not honour the warranty in those areas.

Read the warranty on the remote starter system you are considering.
Many companies will guarantee the remote starter system for as long as you own your vehicle. However, the remote itself is rarely warranted for more than a year or two, so find out what the remote replacement cost will be.

Step 2: Select features that fit your lifestyle

Figure out the transmitter power that you need.
Range is not as important a factor as you might be led to believe. Not many people need to start their car from over 1000ft away. However, most drivers will want to start their vehicle from inside a building. This is where transmitter power comes into play.

Consider additional features you would like included.
Remote starters are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and, depending on the brand and model you choose, can do more than just start and stop your vehicle from a distance; they can also be programmed to:

  • Open/Lock your car,
  • Open your trunk,
  • Turn on headlights,
  • Turn on heated heats,
  • Turn on rear window defrost,
  • Operate windows/sun roof,
  • Monitor cabin temperature and control heating/air conditioning, and
  • Start your car at specific times.

Additional features also include:

  • Two way remote system – this notifies you when your car has started,
  • Car alarm, and
  • Panic button.

Step 3: Be Prepared to Pay for Quality

Select a remote starter system and brand that suit you and your vehicle.
When making your purchasing decision, go with a brand that specializes in remote car starters and select a model that fits your lifestyle, needs, and budget. Some major brands on the market that perform well in consumer reviews include: Viper, Avital, Directed Electronics Inc., and Bulldog. If you drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, make sure that the remote starter system you are looking at is compatible.

There are some very intuitive remote starter systems available to consumers. Some models can be controlled through an app on your smartphone and allow you to program more than one vehicle into them – making them convenient for multi-car families. However, for the budget minded, there are more basic models that allow you to control your starter system through a fob on your key chain. It comes down to what you want, the features you want to include, and how much you are willing to spend.    

Check the safety features of your car starter.
A good remote starter should always have the following safety features:

  • A hood safety switch – this prevents the car from starting when the hood is up, allowing maintenance to be performed safely on your vehicle.
  • An RPM Sensor – on a cold day, your car might not start right away. Without an RPM sensor the remote starter system has no way of knowing that your vehicle has failed to start – resulting in you arriving to a cold car. Conversely, if the RPMs of your car are too high, the starter can turn off your car and prevent any damage to your vehicle.

Purchase and Install your remote car starter at a specialty shop.
Although it can be tempting to go for the “deal of the day” online, purchasing and installing your remote starter at a specialty shop can save you in the long run. Some shops will not install a remote car starter that has been purchased at another retail outlet or online. This may be more expensive; however, there are several good reasons to purchase your starter from a specialty shop. First, you are more likely to buy a quality product as the shop is less likely to carry a brand that causes issues for them. Secondly, a car starter is an electrical product and can fail. If your car starter fails, your installer could blame the product while your car starter’s manufacturer could blame the installation – leaving you caught in the middle with no recourse.

Doing it yourself may also seem more cost effective and some remote car starters even come with an installation video, however, cars now feature electrical and computer systems that are a lot more sophisticated. Self-installation only increases the risk of damaging your vehicle.

 

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