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.

Gas Tanks: Why Aren’t All Fuel Doors on the Same Side?

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Quick: On which side is your vehicle’s fuel door?

Must you look at the little diamond-shaped arrow on the fuel gauge EVERY time you fill up to know whichFuel-Gauge-Arrow-iStock side holds the fuel filler? Have you ever pulled to the fuel island to discover you’re on the wrong side? Did you utter bad words before or after you said, “Why don’t they put fuel doors on the same side of every car?!?”

The answer to that question is complicated, if not convoluted.

Based on my research into the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, I came to the conclusion (a conclusion later supported by my contacts at both the Ford Motor Company and Nissan North America) that no U.S. government regulation concerns which side on which the fuel door must be positioned. Much to the chagrin of many motorists, the fuel door can be on either side.

With no legal or marketing motivation, and scant ownership enjoyment implications, car-company engineers are free to place fuel doors on whichever side offers the easiest packaging, according to Ford spokesman Mark Schirmer. He added that there’s not enough room — and no demand — for dual fuel doors.

Preference

Americans prefer left-mounted fuel doors, said Schirmer, referencing a Ford study. A driver’s-side fuel door makes it easier for drivers to place the car’s left fender close to fuel pump. Still, fuel door location is typically not part of the buying decision, added Schirmer.

Those in Japan, India, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and countries in southern Africa drive on the left side of the road and sit on the right side of the car, and it appears they prefer right-mounted fuel doors, given the tendencies of cra manufacturers. For at least 25 years, the conventional wisdom among auto writers has been that Europeans like right-side doors. However, when I posed this to my industry co-horts, no car company would speculate if or why that might be true.

Nissan, like most automakers, produces some vehicles with left fuel doors and some with right doors.

Reasons

“The placement of the fuel door is mainly a factor of fuel tank design, location and underbody packaging,” Nissan’s Steve Yaeger wrote in an email. “With all of the structure and components located underneath the vehicle, (engineers) would quickly encounter restrictions in trying to route the filler tube to the same side on every vehicle.”

If mechanisms such as a “big, honkin’ speaker” must be placed on the left side, engineers put the fuel door on the right, notes Schirmer.

The bottom line: Fuel door position is not a random choice, but if engineers have a good reason to place fuel doors on the right, that’s where they go.

If you can’t remember the location of your fuel door, don’t be ashamed to look at the little diamond-arrow on your fuel gauge … BEFORE you pull up to the pump.

DIY: How to Change Windshield Wiper Blades

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What Needs To Be Done:

Windshield wiper blades need to be inspected and replaced, if needed, on a regular basis.

Why Do It?

  • Windshield wiper blades are made out of rubber, which can wear even with limited use.
  • By being certain that your windshield wiper blades are in optimum condition, you are ensuring the safety of your vehicle and its passengers.
  • If you are driving your car in pouring rain, snow or sleet, worn-out wiper blades can impede the wipers’ ability to clean the windshield, which can limit your visibility.
  • Making sure your windshield wipers are newly inspected and replaced, if necessary, can help ensure safety.

How Often?

The frequency at which your windshield wiper blades need replacement depends, in part, on the conditions where you live and drive.Some general information is listed below, but always defer to your car owner’s manual and the information that comes with your wiper blades for advice on maintenance.

Avoiding Traffic Tickets

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In an accompanying story, “Beat your Ticket”, we give you some tips on beating your traffic ticket in court. We now have some overdue advice to offer: It’s far easier to avoid getting tickets in the first place.

In this article, we’ll tell you how to drive so the cops won’t stop you. And we’ll also tell you what to do and say if you are pulled over. Your behavior — and your attitude — could mean the difference between a ticket and a warning.

For answers to these questions, we talked to Walter Meyer, a teacher in a comedy traffic school and a freelance writer living in San Diego, Calif. He has collected a lot of information by studying the traffic laws and doing “ride-alongs” with traffic officers. But he has also gathered interesting anecdotal evidence from his students — harrowing accounts of traffic accidents, police stops and other driving mishaps. Continue reading

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

Holiday Road Trip Three Ps That Won’t Bust the Budget

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With the holiday season upon us, many Americans are stretching their dollars to make a trip home for the holidays. While driving is the thrifty option, unexpected vehicle repairs can bust your budget this time of year. Motorists planning a road trip over the holidays should follow the three Ps – prepare, prevent and plan – to save money and avoid breakdowns.

  • Conduct a pre-trip vehicle inspection. If you find your vehicle needs repairs, be sure to address them in a timely manner so they can be performed by a trusted technician before your journey. While it may be tempting to put off repairs until after the holidays, it is not worth the risk and added expense of more extensive work down the road.
  • The last thing any driver needs is to break down in cold, harsh winter weather. A pre-winter vehicle check is a sensible way to avoid the inconvenience of being stranded out in the cold as well as costly emergency towing and repairs.
  • Before traveling longer distances, plan your route and review the council’s steps to better fuel economyto maximize savings at the pump. Pack a road emergency kit, including jumper cables, a road atlas, first-aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries, water, non-perishable food and blankets, and be sure your cell phone is fully charged.

Taking proactive steps to prepare, prevent and plan in advance of your holiday road trip will help you avoid the hassle and expense of unplanned car trouble away from home.