Monthly Archives: July 2018

7 Summer Car Maintenance Tasks You Shouldn’t Ignore

Summer is synonymous with road trips, beach days and barbeques. There’s one thing most of us need to enjoy these activities: a car. Winter can take a toll on your vehicle. Summer is the ideal time to perform vital maintenance tasks that will keep your car running in tip top shape.

Here are seven maintenance tasks you shouldn’t ignore.

1. Re-inflate the Tires

Air pressure can be affected by storms and outdoor temperatures, which can impact your tire pressure. Air is constantly leaking from your tires, slowly and steadily.

For every one PSI drop in tire pressure, you lose 0.4% gas mileage.

Re-inflating your tires at least twice per year can help prevent this from happening. And if you use seasonal tires, spring or early summer is the time to switch them out.

Along with saving you money at the pump, keeping your tire pressure at the right level can help prevent tire failure, which can lead to an accident. In 2015, there were 914 motor vehicle fatalities in Illinois alone. Faulty vehicle parts contribute to many of these accidents.

2. Check and Replace Fluids

Summer is a good time to have your fluids checked and replaced if necessary. Check to see if any fluids are leaking or breaking down.

If you can time it right, you may also want to get your oil changed.

3. Inspect the Coolant System

A car’s coolant system can take a beating in the summer. The engine runs much hotter than the outdoor temperature regardless of how warm the weather gets.

If you live in a cooler climate, your vehicle’s coolant system doesn’t have to work as hard during the winter. The summer heat can shock the system, so have it checked before the heat waves roll in to ensure there are no issues.

4. Inspect the HVAC System

Just like the coolant system, your car’s HVAC system doesn’t work as hard during the winter months. When warmer temperatures arrive, it’s important to run your A/C for 10-15 minutes to work out the kinks and get rid of strange smells.

If something seems off about the A/C, even after running it for a while, have the air ducts and A/C system looked at by a mechanic.

5. Wax

It’s easy to forget to wax your vehicle, especially during the winter months. But between the salt used on the roads in the winter and the hot summer temperatures, your car’s paint can suffer greatly.

As a general rule of thumb, you should be waxing your vehicle once per season, or about every three months.

6. Check the Radiator

Salted winter roads can corrode the radiator’s core, which can cause leakage and an overheated engine. This is a job for a mechanic.

Mechanics will be able to check for clogs and damage, and also flush the cooling system if necessary.

7. Test the Battery

Cold weather can drain your vehicle’s battery. The heat can be just as harsh. Hot temperatures can cause battery fluid to evaporate, which can eventually lead to corrosion.

Have your mechanic look at your battery to make sure that everything is in tip-top shape.

8 Tips to Make International Travel Easier

There is nothing more exciting than planning a trip abroad. The thrill of a world of new sites, sounds, and tastes is alluring. Then, you land. To hit the ground running on your exotic adventures, here are 8 tips for smooth sailing (or flying) overseas.

Documenting Your Travels
It goes without saying, but do document your trip. However, what we are actually talking about here are your travel documents.

Make sure your passport is up to date, and this means more than 6 months from expiration. There are countries that will deny entry when the passport is due to expire soon. The State Department has lots of great information on passports.

Money, Money, Money
Check with your bank, but most chip-enabled plastic (almost all debit and credit cards these days) will work overseas. It never hurts to notify your bank anyway, so that they don’t flag overseas transactions for fraud.

It also never hurts to have some good hard cash on hand. Obviously, you don’t want the bulk of your travel funds in physical money, but some pocket change is a good idea. Almost all international airports, both here and abroad, have exchange desks, but you will probably get a better deal at your own bank.

How To Medicate
This one is easier, unless you get sick or hurt overseas. It is highly unlikely that would happen, but it case it does, you should look into travel insurance that covers medical expenses. Make sure any policy you take out covers transport back to the United States.

Check with your own health insurance first, but travelers usually need to take out a separate policy. It is also important to stock up on necessary medications; pharmacies abroad may not carry the same medicines, prescriptions or OTC. Also, familiarize yourself with emergency services and numbers wherever you are going.

What’s Happening?
While unlikely, emergencies and natural disasters do happen. Keep an eye on the news, and the State Department provides up to date alerts for all international locations. It is also valuable to keep a list of contacts for all U.S. embassies and consulates on your itinerary.

Shocking Culture
Culture shock is a real thing. If you are going overseas, you will be in a place with a different set of rules and customs. It is important to research and prepare for what to expect. For many travelers, this is the joy and adventure of traveling. Others find it harder to adjust, so preparation is key.

The food scene varies from country to country. Being open-minded helps, but try visiting a local grocery store after your arrival. This is a great way to find a few things you are familiar with.

It’s usually not hard to find someone who speaks English, but it is helpful to learn some key phrases in the local language. There are even mobile apps you can download to help translate.

Learning To Communicate
Language has already been covered; this is about using the extensive communication apparatus you are probably bringing from home. Phones and laptops will no doubt come in handy, so bring electric adaptors designed to fit the grid wherever you are visiting. Check with your mobile service provider for overseas plans. If it is affordable, a data plan will come in handy for maps and information. Finally, if you plan on accessing your favorite American sites, you may need to invest in a proxy service, or VPN.

Mapping Your Trip
This one is dependent on whether you will a data plan. If you are purchasing an international plan, then your map apps will be readily available, and very helpful. If you won’t have access to data, then it’s easy to find hundreds of guidebooks for sale, or you can download maps online.

The Jet Lag Cure
Jet lag is, for most travelers, the worst part of any trip. Sadly, there isn’t actually a cure for jet lag, but there are ways to minimize its impact. It’s impossible for many travelers to sleep on an airplane. When you arrive, tough it out that first day. Your instinct, and weary body, may draw you to bed, but the entire rest of your trip hinges on your ability to get into the local time zone. Also, be sure to drink lots of water while inflight. Planes are notorious for their dehydrating effects.