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What to Do When Your Car Breaks Down

breakdown_push   Nobody likes to have their car break down or be stranded on the highway. However, it can happen to the best of us, as even owning a brand new vehicle is not a 100% guarantee that it will never happen to you. After all, the highest quality automobile is still a mechanical contraption designed and built by humans (okay, with a few robots thrown in for good measure), to take you from point A to point B in relative comfort.

As such, you should be aware there may come a time that you will be the unfortunate victim of a breakdown. If this happens, you will need to take some basic precautions to minimize damage to your vehicle and, most importantly, keep yourself and your fellow passengers safe. Your reaction to what is happening to your vehicle in the early moments of a vehicle breakdown is crucial to your safety. First of all, remain calm. If you are traveling on a multi-lane highway, you may have to cross several lanes of traffic to get safely to the side of the road. Using your turn signal, indicate your intention to pull over. Check for traffic in the lane(s) you need to merge into then pull off the road safely and away from other traffic. Do not pull into the carpool lane because it is “empty” or “convenient,” even if you have the minimum 2-person-per-vehicle requirement for occupying that lane! Doing so all too frequently adds another term to the breakdown scenario – the term being “deadly.” Determine the basic nature of the vehicle problem – flat tire/blowout; running out of fuel; engine stalled, or an unknown cause; if you think there is a possible fire or worse yet actually see flames – get out of the vehicle and away from it as quickly as possible once you have stopped. Make sure you take your passengers with you! Remember, personal items can be replaced, the kids and pets can’t. If there is a fire, call 911. Call the Auto Club for assistance – Get professional help “on the way” as quickly as possible. Even if you don’t have a real clue as to why you are sitting on the side of the road, being able to describe what happened, and what you see now can be of real assistance to the emergency road service provider dispatch personnel in getting the right type of help to you, as quickly as possible. Their job is to help you by getting aid to you in a timely manner. The best description you can give them regarding the nature of your vehicle breakdown makes the job a lot easier. If your vehicle breaks down at night – pull over in a well-lit area if available, as far away from traffic lanes as possible for your protection. Use your vehicle’s emergency flashers. The safest place for you to wait is in the car. If you absolutely insist on getting out of your vehicle, then you may wish to set up reflective highway markers (red triangles) or other types of warning devices to alert oncoming drivers of your presence. Be careful when setting up emergency markers that you don’t wander into oncoming traffic lanes and become a statistic yourself. Determine if it is safe for you to open your vehicle’s hood – feel the hood for presence of fire or extreme heat (too hot to touch!). If you can feel scorching heat, DO NOT open the hood! If you see flames under the vehicle or emanating anywhere near your vehicle, get away from it! Know how to open your vehicle’s hood. Newer model year vehicles have an internal hood release, usually down by the kick panel on the driver’s side, or as a pull lever attached to the bottom side of the instrument panel. Once you release the hood with this lever, you will need to release the secondary hood safety latch (usually accessible) at the front of the vehicle. You may have to raise the hood slightly to gain access to this latch with your fingers. Hood prop rods – some vehicles have them, while others don’t use them. Determine ahead of time how to support your vehicle’s hood if you have the prop rod version. Be sure you can reach, support, and raise the hood high enough to engage the end of the prop rod. Most hoods are heavy and frequently not easily held open with one hand. Be sure you use the correct rod support location for the prop rod. Do not use a broom stick or a rake handle because “it works.” Even if your vehicle’s hood is designed to stay open without a visible means of support, be sure the hood is open all the way (and that the springs/torsion bar will in fact hold it open!) A partially-open hood can come crashing down by its own weight, often painfully pinning the driver (or their fingers) underneath. Make sure the hood is properly supported before you stick your head underneath to see “what went wrong.” If you feel you are in danger because of the location where your vehicle broke down (bad area of town, dark and deserted highway, you’re alone or traveling with small children), call 911 for assistance. Do not get out of your vehicle. Lock your doors, close all the windows for your safety, and wait for help to arrive. If you feel it is safe for you to do some exploratory investigation as to the cause of a vehicle malfunction, have a flashlight with good batteries handy.Get a little light on the subject! Nothing is perhaps as hard as trying to identify a problem under the hood of a vehicle when it’s dark outside (why is it that Murphy’s Law always seems to cause your car to break down late at night?). A good flashlight is very handy during the day as well. Many times it is fairly easy to spot a broken hose or fan/accessory belt with some additional artificial lighting. Don’t forget to also look underneath the vehicle with a flashlight. Telltale signs of a coolant leak (usually green, but may be red), transmission fluid leak (can be varying shades of red) or an engine oil leak (brown to dark brown are typical colors) may help pinpoint the area of malfunction. Since a vehicle breakdown is never scheduled, it is important for drivers to be prepared for breakdowns or emergencies by outfitting their vehicle with a fully charged cell phone, food, water, tools, blankets, appropriate foot gear, clothing and other gear in a roadside emergency kit. If traveling to snowy areas, tire chains, and basic tools to affix the chains are also recommended. An emergency kit is also very beneficial should you become lost. Properly stocked, an emergency kit will help occupants possibly survive, until help arrives. Original Article Posted on AAA So Cal
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Tips for Selecting a Good Towing Company

HomeCarTow   If you have ever been involved in a car accident, or your vehicle has simply broken down in any location, you will know the hassle of finding a good towing company to help you move your vehicle to your garage, or home. The thing is, people don’t take the time to provide themselves with a good, genuine towing companies number before leaving the home, or even leaving a number in the car to have on standby. We know that how frustrating it can be to have to call a auto towing company. However, sometimes roadside assistance is inevitable. Not all towing companies are formed alike. Though it is not a big task contacting a towing company, finding a truthful and efficient one from the many towing services available can be difficult and time consuming. Nobody wants to have car trouble. How you spend your time waiting for the tow truck can become important. First of all, keep your head clear so that you will be able to explain exactly what happened. This can help the tow truck operator and the body shop more easily assess your vehicle’s condition. Now we can see some tips to selecting a good towing company.
  • It is very imperative for the protection and well-being of both you and your car that you make the conclusion of which auto towing company you would prefer to use before you really need to call them. Doing the research and making a decision now will save you cash, time and headaches afterward.
  • You can use the help of the internet, or ask friends and family for suggestions. It is always better to use recommendations from people you trust, as you can frequently trust their recommendations. In addition to this you can get an idea of the services best avoiding.
  • Ask friends and relatives what auto towing company they desire to use. If a relative or friend has used a company that they are not happy with, they will inform you. Friends and family also are very swift to let you know if they are happy with the service that they have received from a particular company.
  • A good place to start your search is by calling your auto insurance agent, they will be able to tell you the companies that they prefer to work with.
  • Also find out the distance they are willing to tow your vehicle and if you have to pay for their services upfront or if your insurance company will be paying for the towing services.
  • Choose towing companies that are open 24/7 and offer roadside support. They also proffer additional towing services like changing of tires and jump starting your vehicle.
If you choose an unpaid to tow your vehicle, it is a possibility that you could need more clash work or even perfunctory work after the tug. There are so many things that may happen to you while on the road. In addition to pricing, you will want to look at the towing companies status with other clients. Read reviews, testimonials, and check with friends or family to find out what the service is really like you may meet with some minor mishaps like a flat tire, the sliding of your car into a ditch, running out of fuel when you least expect it or your battery running out. Whenever you encounter such situations, the first thing that enters your mind is to get out of these situations with the help of an efficient tow service. Original article posted on Towing Rankings Continue Reading No Comments

Crash Avoidance Cars Are Closer Than You Think


While the idea of an autonomous vehicle, or vehicle that can essentially drive by itself, might seem like science fiction, there are several technologies on the market today that are paving the way for the possibility of a “driverless car”. One grouping of these technologies is called Advanced Driver Assistance Systems or ADAS. Aimed at enhancing safety, ADAS use sensors and software to gather data from the nearby environment of the vehicle to either warn the driver or actively assist in avoiding collisions.

Passive ADAS systems include anything that alerts the driver of the possibility of a collision. Examples include forward collision warning systems, back-up sensors and cameras, lane departure warning and blind spot detection systems. Conversely, an active system is one in which the vehicle takes control to avoid or reduce the chances of a collision.

Forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking

Vehicles with forward collision use sensors to determine if there is potential for a collision when approaching another vehicle. In the case of passive systems, drivers may be alerted by a sound, a display on the dash or infotainment screen or both. An active system would go a step further and actually apply the brakes to avoid or reduce the chances of a collision. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has announced that in order for vehicles to receive 5-star ratings in 2014 and beyond they must be equipped with active emergency braking systems.

Back-up and rear-view assistance

Vehicles with this technology use sensors (such as radar) and cameras to prevent drivers from backing into other vehicles, objects or people. Back-up assistance systems alert the driver with an audio alert. In some cases, the systems are able to vary the alert depending on how close the vehicle is to a collision by increasing the frequency of the “beep”. Backup cameras provide rear-view assistance for the driver, using the screen of the vehicle’s navigation or infotainment screens, or sometimes a portion of the rear view mirror. In 2007 Congress approved legislation requiring standards for rear visibility, with the intent that eventually all vehicles would have to come standard with these systems but to date no mandate has been implemented.

Lane departure warning and lane-keeping assistance

Use of optical sensors (cameras) and advanced software to track vehicle position and proximity to other vehicles. If the system detects the vehicle drifting out of its lane or crossing in to another lane without its turn signal, it will warn the driver with an audible alert. In the case of lane keeping assistance, the system will actually “nudge” the vehicle back into its lane.

Adaptive cruise control

The adaptive cruise control system uses sensors to gauge the speed and distance of a lead vehicle and automatically adjusts the speed to maintain an appropriate distance. For example, you are driving on the freeway and have your cruise control set to 70 mph. A vehicle merges in to your lane, traveling at 60 mph. Although your vehicle is set to 70, it will automatically adjust to 60 mph to avoid colliding with that vehicle and will maintain that speed unless that lead vehicle speeds up or moves into another lane of traffic. The Automotive Research Center recently tested some of these systems, and while most of them worked properly, the implementation and information relayed to the driver varies greatly from one auto manufacturer to the next.

Blind spot and pedestrian detection

As with other ADAS systems, blind spot detection systems vary from passive to active. Some systems will provide an audible alert and or a visible warning if there is another vehicle in its blind spot. One example includes side mirrors that have an icon that will light up if it detects the presence of another vehicle. Active systems will start with an alert if there is a vehicle in the blind spot. However, if the driver turns on his or her signal the alerts will become more dramatic and may include steering wheel vibrations. Pedestrian detection systems are able to differentiate between a human and another object. The driver may simply be warned that there is a pedestrian present or the vehicle might automatically apply the brakes.

Parking assistance and automated parking

These systems have been an option on some high-end vehicles for several years, beginning with Lexus in 2006. Currently available systems take over the steering, but the driver must still work the brakes. Future systems may be capable of parking the vehicle without any human interaction at all.

Adaptive headlights and adaptive high beams

Adaptive headlights are headlights that will actually shift direction as the driver steers, turning beams along with curves in the road. If equipped with adaptive high beams, the headlights will not only adjust to movement of the vehicle but can adjust the range of high-beam lighting if an oncoming vehicle is detected. Some advanced systems are able to adjust the headlights in response to the presence of other vehicles by dipping or shading the headlights to reduce glare for other drivers.

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8 Depot Rd, Goleta, CA 93117

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