How to Deal with Foggy Windows

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No matter what the climate is like where you live, keeping the temperature comfortable inside your car often means battling foggy windows. If you live in a climate with cold winters, staying warm in your chilly car means turning on the heater — and battling the resultant fog on the inside of your windows. In warm, humid areas, turning on the AC can cause the opposite issue — fog blurring your windows from the outside.

The reason for foggy windows has to do with temperature and the air’s moisture content. On a cold day, any moisture in the air inside your car — from passengers exhaling, from snow on your boots, etc. — turns to condensation when it hits air next to the windows that’s below a certain temperature, called the dew point. The condensation is what makes your car’s windows appear foggy. On a hot, humid day, the opposite happens, when the muggy air outside your car reaches the dew point against your windshield after it’s cooled by your AC system.

Whether the fog is on the inside or the outside of your windows, any time you can’t see clearly in all directions, it’s dangerous. So, it’s important to know how to make sure your windows are clear — no matter the weather.

When It’s Colder Outside Than Inside Your Car…

When you’re dealing with cold weather outside and you turn on the heater inside your car, the fog typically will start to form on the inside of your car windows. Here are some options to clear those windows up:

  • For a quick fix: Lower the temperature inside your car rapidly by turning on the defrost vent with cool air or cracking a window; don’t turn on the heat. This will make the inside of your car cooler and help reduce the fog. Also, turn on your car’s rear-window defogger to help clear up the back window. Though this is a fast and effective method, it could leave you shivering.
  • For a more comfortable solution: Lifehacker advises those who want to be snug and warm whileCar-Recirculation-Thinkstock driving to turn on the defroster and blow warm air across the windshield to evaporate the accumulating moisture. If your vehicle’s ventilation system has a recirculate feature, turn it off. When this feature is on, your car’s heat or AC reuses the air inside the car, instead of continually pulling in air from outside.  If you’re trying to defog the windows in cold weather, you want your car to continually take in the dry air. (Not sure if your car has recirculation? Look for a button on the dashboard that has an arrow going in a circle or a semi-circle. Sometimes, it will feature an icon of a car with this type of arrow inside it.)
  • Plan ahead: Keep your car glass as clean as possible — on the inside and the outside. That way, when your glass fogs up, you know the problem isn’t just a dirty windshield. You may also want to think about using a product that you can spray or wipe onto the inside of your windows in order to help prevent fog from forming.

When It’s Warmer Outside than In Your Car…

When the temperature and moisture level outside are greater than inside the car, moisture will condense on the exterior of the car glass. In this situation, the trick is to increase the temperature on the inside of the car to accumulate less moisture on the outside. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • For a quick fix: Use your windshield wipers. This will help get rid of the condensation until you’ve balanced out the temperature.
  • Warm up your car: Turn down the AC to the lowest (least-cool) setting to increase the temperature without it becoming too uncomfortable. If this doesn’t work, turn the AC off completely.
  • Leave recirculation off: As stated above, it’s a good idea to turn off your car’s recirculation feature to battle foggy windows, so the temperature and moisture levels in your car begin to equalize with those outside.

Trying to see through fogged-up windows is a driving hazard, but with these tips, you can help increase your driving safety—no matter what the weather.

Time to Change Your Vehicle’s Cabin Air Filter

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Before winter sets in is a good time to check your cabin air filter, after it’s been working hard all spring, summer and fall. Cabin air filters clean the incoming air and remove allergens, and according to the Car Care Council, should be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, or per the owner’s manual.

The cabin air filter helps trap pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust gases that may find their way into a vehicle’s air conditioning and heating and ventilation systems. The filter also prevents leaves, bugs and other debris from entering the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. Continue reading

Tire Safety: Check Your Tires for Wear and Tear

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It only takes a penny to see if your tires are worn or losing tread. Examining your tires for wear and tear, along with checking tire pressure and alignment, are essential to ensuring your vehicle’s safety on the road and helping to improve gas mileage and performance. The non-profit Car Care Council recommends that motorists be car care aware and check tire condition and pressure regularly.

“The penny test is a simple, yet effective, way to check tire tread. If you see Lincoln’s head above the tread, you are ready for new tires,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Tires are critical to a vehicle’s handling and traction, and maintaining proper pressure is vitally important to vehicle safety. Underinflated tires are under stress and will wear unevenly, causing them to need to be replaced sooner. Routinely checking tire balance and wheel alignment reduces tire wear, improves handling, and increases fuel economy.” Continue reading

October Is Fall Car Care Month

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Basic auto care goes a long way toward improving the safety and dependability of a vehicle. Whether you do it yourself or visit a trusted professional technician, take a look at these 10 Fall Car Care Month maintenance procedures to help make sure your car is operating at its best before winter arrives.

Fall Car Care Month in October is the ideal time to give your car some extra attention before harsh winter weather sets in. Taking a little time for auto care now can help you avoid the headaches of a costly emergency breakdown later.

  1. Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  2. Check the hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
  3. Check the battery and replace if necessary. Make sure the connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
  4. Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
  5. Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.
  6. Check the engine to make sure it is delivering the best balance of power and fuel economy and producing the lowest level of emissions.
  7. Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and safety reasons, such as defrosting.
  8. Inspect the steering and suspension systemannually, including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.
  9. Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  10. Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.

Vehicle Warning Lights

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Safety on the road is no accident. For example, when a warning light illuminates on a car’s dashboard, it is alerting you to a situation that requires your attention. While not all warning lights are a sign that disaster is imminent, no warning indicator should ever be ignored.

That’s the word from the experts at AAA, who encourage motorists to read their owner’s manual and know what each of the warning lights in their vehicle means. To help, they offer the following tips:

Oil Pressure Light

The oil pressure light is usually an oilcan symbol , although on older vehicles it may be a light with the word “OIL.” It comes on when there is a drop in engine oil pressure. Of all the warning lights, the oil pressure light indicates the greatest potential for serious mechanical damage.

If the oil pressure warning light comes on and stays on, pull off the road at the first safe opportunity, shut off the engine and call for assistance. Continue reading

Are Your Brakes Trying to Tell You Something?

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If your brakes are trying to tell you something, you should pay attention. A properly operating brake system helps ensure safe vehicle control and operation and it should be checked immediately if you suspect any problems.

While an annual brake inspection is a good way to ensure brake safety, motorists should not ignore signs that their brakes need attention. Knowing the key warning signs that your brakes may need maintenance will go a long way toward keeping you and others safe on the road.

Motorists should look for the following warning signs that their brakes need to be inspected:

  • Noise: screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.
  • Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.
  • Low Pedal: brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.
  • Hard Pedal: must apply extreme pressure to the pedal before brakes engage.
  • Grabbing: brakes grab at the slightest touch to the pedal.
  • Vibration: brake pedal vibrates or pulses, even under normal braking conditions.
  • Light: brake light is illuminated on your vehicle’s dashboard.

Because brakes are a normal wear item on any vehicle, they will eventually need to be replaced. Factors that can affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material. Be sure to avoid letting brakes get to the ‘metal-to-metal’ point as that can mean expensive rotor or drum replacement.