Happy Kids on Road Trips

This helpful post is sponsored by Hiley Volkswagon of Arlington.

Kids in the Car

There is nothing that spoils a road trip like an unhappy child – cooped up, cranky, bored and the kid’s aren’t too happy either. If you are going over 50 miles with kids under 12 you are going to want to have a game plan and load the car with plenty of kid friendly gear, food bribes, and fun activities. These tips are sure fire tools for success.

  • –  Comfort. At this point in parenthood you probably don’t need to be told to make sure the kids empty their bladder before leaving but just in case you need the reminder this is #1. If they say they don’t need to go, don’t trust them…MAKE THEM GO! After that is out of the way, be sure and dress them comfortably and cut out some of the complaining by putting them in loose, comfy clothes. Avoid tight waist bands, collared and buttoned up shirts, and anything that doesn’t support total comfort.
  • –  Snacks. Next you are going to want to pack snacks – Preferably items that won’t completely destroy your vehicles interior. Nothing sticky, oozing, or hard to clean.  Dried fruit, fruit snacks, pretzels, goldfish, and  juice boxes. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer are also must have items. Let them pack some items they want to have along for the ride-grab a small backpack or basket that will fit in the backseat and let them choose items like crayons and paper, their favorite book, doll, or handheld game (don’t forget the headphones). Dollar store cookie sheets make great activity trays for the road, throw on some magnets and you have a busy board that will keep kids from toddlers to tweens busy.
  • –  Music and Movies. Let them have a turn choosing music and the movies if you have portable dvd players in the car.  Keep in mind that it is their trip too and allowing them to have some say so will lead to increased cooperation (just choose movies ahead of time that you can tolerate, if not enjoy).
  • – Play games WITH them.  Punch Buggy, License Plate Bingo, anything to pass time and keep their minds occupied.  Who can spot the most pickups in 20 minutes?  How many yellow cars are in the state of North Carolina? Make them up as you go, be a part of the fun and you might find the trip goes faster for you too.
  • – Sing songs together.  Justin Robert’s music is our all time favorite.  If you have kids and HATE “kid’s music” you have to check this out!  Fun music that will have you reminiscing of your own childhood and singing the songs to yourself when you’re not even around your kids.
  • –  Stop occasionally. Kids are meant to move, it is cruel and unusual to strap them in and expect them to stay within the confines of a seat belt or car seat for 10 hours. Every once in awhile find a rest stop or even a park, let everyone out to stretch their arms and legs, have a run or quick game of catch if possible to get the blood pumping and burn off some energy (be sure to pack a football, a jump rope, or a Frisbee for stops).  This will make the time in the car a little easier to handle.

If you’re a pro traveler with kids I would love to hear what tips and tricks that have worked for you!

Car Maintenance Checklist

This helpful post is sponsored by Hiley Mazda of Arlington.com.

Used Car Tips

How well do you know your car? Perhaps you need reacquainted and to spend some one-on-one time with each other. Setting some “dates” with your car could continue the relationship a bit longer!

Every month you should check your:

  • – Oil level – Add oil if it’s low, and take it in if it’s very low as there may be a leak.
  • – Hoses – Replace them if they’re brittle.
  • – Belts – Replace them if they’re worn or frayed.
  • – Tire pressure – Check the pressure and add air if it’s too low.
  • – Coolant/antifreeze – Add more if it’s low.
  • – Air filter – Replace if it’s dirty.
  • – Tires – Looks for damage or uneven wear.

Every 3 months you should check your:

  • – Oil and oil filter – Change every 3,000 miles or as is recommended by manufacturer.
  • – Windshield washer fluid – Add fluid if it’s low.
  • – Power steering fluid – Add fluid if it’s low.
  • – Transmission fluid – Add fluid if it’s low.
  • – Battery terminals and cables – Clean if corroded.
  • – Lights – Check to make sure all lights and turn signals work. Easy one!

Every 6 months you should check your:

  • – Wiper blades – Replace them if they’re worn out and brittle.
  • – Horn – Beep, beep!
  • – Brakes – Have them inspected for unusual the wear and tear.
  • – Spare tire – Make sure it’s fully inflated and accessible.
  • – Exhaust system – Inspect for damage or loose parts.Shocks – Inspect for wear.

Winter Auto Maintenance

Winter Auto Maintenance

This helpful post is sponsored by Hiley Mazda of Hurst

With winter fast approaching, your first thought might be to go out and buy a new coat and hat. Dig out your gloves and double check the pipes are wrapped on your house. While these are all important, don’t forget your winter auto maintenance.

Cold weather is hard on your car and winter driving can take a toll on your auto. Some basic preventive maintenance will ensure that you have a stress free driving experience and make it safely home each trip rather than frantically checking if you have enough gas to keep the heat on until the tow truck arrives.

1. Get Your Oil Changed
Never underestimate the value of this one simple maintenance task. Don’t procrastinate it and wait for the check engine light to come on. Keeping your engine lubricated with clean oil will help ensure that it fires up every time you jump in. Most professional oil changes come with complimentary fluid checks.

2. Check and Replace Windshield Wipers
Driving in tumultuous weather on dark cold days is challenging enough without trying to see through a 6 inch smear on your windshield. Check and replace your wipers early to allow for the extra precipitation that falls during the cold winter months. If you need new wipers, refer to your owner’s manual as to correct size to ensure a clear driving experience.

3. Check Tires
Have your tires checked to ensure that you have sufficient tread left to grip slippery roads. Replace them as needed. If they are still in good shape, inquire if they are due to be rotated and balanced for optimum performance.

4. Get a Break Check
While they are checking your tires, have them do a break check. Most tire dealerships will check automatically with a rotation and balance, but if not ensure that your breaks are checked and any needed replacements are completed before the weather turns icy.

5. Stock a Blanket and Water in the Trunk
Even if you don’t live in northern parts of the U.S. a break down can often lead to a lengthy cold delay until the tow truck arrives. Ensure that you and your family don’t suffer if you are left waiting for a period. Small children especially are susceptible to the cold.

With a little pre-planning, you can ensure that you and your family arrive safely to all of your winter travel destinations.

America’s Best Road Trips

This post is brought to you by SheridanFordSales.com

There’s nothing like a good old fashioned road trip with your windows cranked down and the music cranked up.  What better way is there the see the beautiful United States of America (excluding a flight to Hawaii of course!)?  Now that that’s settled all that’s left to do is take off work, pick where to go, and head out on that open road.  To help you choose I’m listing a handful of America’s Best Road Trips!

Grand Canyon

  •  –  The Grand Canyon, Arizona.  Ever since the Brady’s visited there on TV Land I’ve wanted to visit. I’ll just make sure not to get lost like Bobby and Cindy did.

Amish Country

  • –  The Amish Country, Homes, OH.  If you’re wanting to get off the grid for a while and enjoy life a the slower place this is a great place to visit.  Their food is delicious and their craftsmanship is to be admired.

The Blue Ridge Parkway

  • –  The Blue Ridge Parkway which stretches 469 miles along the Appalachian Mountains and connects two national parks, North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains and Virginia’s Shenandoah.

Overseas Highway

  • –  Key West, Florida by way of U.S. Route 1 or better known as the Overseas Highway.  This is a gorgeous stretch of road that I would love to visit some day!

Maine's Coastline

  • –  Maine. I would love to visit Maine in the fall but I hear Maine’s coastline is lovely all year long.  There would be plenty of fun spotting light houses and enjoying fresh lobster.

Red Rock Scenic Byway

  • –  Red Rock Scenic Byway, starts at Sedona, Arizona.  This 7.5 mile stretch is a beauty!

Route 66

  • –  Route 66, Illinois to California.  Go get your kicks on Route 66.

Million Dollar Highway

  • –  Million Dollar Highway, Silverton to Ouray, Colorado.  This section of U.S. Highway 550 reaches more than two miles above sea level as it weaves its way between two historic gold-mining towns. It’s breath-taking because of the view and the altitude.

I know I’ve had to have left off some superior destinations because our country is so vast and beautiful! Please let me know what else I should have included in the comments below!

How to Winterize Your Vehicle

This post is brought to you by Earnhardt Chrysler Jeep Dodge

Winterize a Vehicle

Preparing your vehicle for the cold winter months is essential. You don’t want to risk breaking down in the snow or ice. You also want to make sure your car is safe for winter driving. Read on to find out how you can winterize your vehicle to avoid any problems!

1. Check the battery and cables.

Make sure there is a good connection between all of battery cables. Look for any cracks or breaks in the cables as well. Remove the cap of the refill hole to check the fluid level of your battery. If needed, refill with distilled water.

2. Get the right tires put on your vehicle.

If you live in an area where there is lots of snow, make the switch to stronger tires in the winter. Make sure you change all four. It’s not a good idea to drive with two winter tires and two summer tires. If you live in a very rural area, you may want to look in snow tires with studs so you can make it to work safely every day during the winter.

3. Replace washer fluid and wipers.

Driving in the ice and snow can make it difficult to see where you are going. This is especially true if you get behind a vehicle that is slinging the mushy ice and dirt your way. Replace your wipers so you have fresh, strong ones to take on the winter. Refill the washer fluid basin with an antifreeze solution, to keep your windshield clean at all times.

4. Create an emergency kit.

If your car were to break down in the cold of winter, there are a few things you need to have on hand. Water, non-perishable food, blankets, boots, and a change of clothes are all things you need to include in your winter car kit. Keep these items in your trunk all winter, just in case.

5. Don’t forget the ice scraper!

You don’t want to sit in your cold car for several minutes, waiting on the ice to thaw. Especially when you need to get to work or home! Place an ice scraper in your glove compartment or door pocket, so it’s easy to grab every morning when you need to use it.

6. Switch the oil.

Make sure you get an oil change when it is recommended for your car. In the winter, your vehicle needs thinner oil. So, for example, if you usually use 10W-30 oil in the warmer months, switch to 5W-30 oil during the winter.

Car Accessories for Girls

This post is brought to you by Beck Chrysler Dodge Jeep.

Car accessories are an easy and fun way to express yourself.  These are some adorable accessories that girls may like…and guys too, of course.

Gold Cell Phone Charger

  • –  Cell Phone Charger – First up on the list is the one car accessory everyone needs, a mobile cell phone charger!  This gold beauty is from Amazon for $6.99.

Rear View Mirror Cell Phone Holder

  • –  Rearview Mirror Cell Phone Holder – If you’ve given up your GPS for your phone’s Maps app then you’ll want this genius cell phone holder that mounts easily to your rearview mirror.  This is only $11.99 on Amazon.

Seat Gap Filler

  • Seat Gap Filler – This accessory is a practical one.  It keeps things from falling between your seats.  What a fabulous and simple little invention!  This set is only $19.99 on Amazon.

DIY Car Fabric Interior

  • –  DIY Car Interior Fabric – There is a fun tutorial on Builders for Eternity on how to redo the fabric interior of your car.  Who would have thought?  I love the idea and the writer said they held up well!  Price of fabric varies but this should be a pretty inexpensive project.

Sassy Southern Gals Car Mats

What car accessories do you just love to have?

5 Tips to Make a Used Car Look New

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll Chevy.

Tips to Make a Used Car Look New

So you picked out that perfect used car. It’s the one that ran well, had less miles, and you hate to admit it, but the biggest reason you chose it over the one at the other dealer is because it was prettier. Follow these five tips for keeping your used car looking new, so your car keeps being as pretty as the day you picked it out.

1. Wash the car often throughout winter, and even more often if you live near salt water. This helps prevent rust caused by salt on the roads and in the air. Be sure to get an undercarriage wash in winter, since most of the damaging salt will be under your vehicle.

2. Wax your car to give it a nice clean shine. The wax will also prevent dirt buildup, and even protect from salt damage. I suggest going even further and applying a window treatment like Rain X as well. The windows will be less likely to fog or ice up, and rain and snow will slide right off.

3. Clean your headlights. There are numerous tips and tricks online for clearing up your headlight lenses, but a store bought kit is best. A kit will contain not only what you need to clean and clear the lenses, but also treatments to preserve and protect them from weather and UV damage so they don’t cloud up again in a month.

4. Keep plastic bags in the car. Their uses are endless – keep your trash tidy, collect your things when heading in the house, put wet clothes from the beach or gym in them – all help keep your car sparkling clean. With all the work we do outside and around the house, bags get the most use as shoe covers when dirty or muddy feet have to ride in a clean car.

5. It would be a shame if you did all that hard work, only for the elements to wear down your car’s appearance anyway. To protect your car’s looks, park in a covered or shady area as often as possible. Don’t park under trees for long periods of time or you’ll have wet leaves and tree sap sitting on the paint. Parking in the shade of a building or in a garage will even protect your interior materials from the sun. If you don’t have access to a garage, tint your windows within the legal limits of your state and use a sun visor for the windshield. This will keep the fabric, leather, and plastic inside the car from breaking down, cracking, or fading.

These simple protective measures will keep any used car looking like new for years to come. Do you have any easy tricks for keeping your car sparkling and fresh?

6 Ways to Prepare Your Used Car for Winter

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll Subaru.  

6 Ways To Prep Your Used Car for Winter

It’s that time of year now, where just when you think it can’t get any hotter, the next month is hotter yet.  With all this heat, followed closely by back to school excitement, sports and extracurricular activities, and countless holidays, it’s easy to forget the cold season ahead.  Make sure you’re prepared for the first cold bursts ahead of time with these 6 ways to get your used car ready for winter.

– Keep a cold weather kit in the car.  Hand warmers, a scarf, warm hat and gloves will all be needed if you have to change a tire in winter.  Blankets will help the whole family if you’re stuck on the roadside a while.  Sand or ice melt will help you get out of a slippery situation, and make sure there are jumper cables in there in case your battery gives out from the cold.

– Speaking of the battery, have the battery and oil checked and replaced if necessary.  A battery on the brink of death will not last through winter, and a freezing day is not the time to be stranded in a parking lot with no power.  Old and dirty oil can thicken and prove harmful when it’s cold,

– Windshield washing fluid is a necessity at all times of the year.  In the winter months, you’ll need a fluid that will not freeze.  While you’re at it, get a fluid that acts as a de-icer to help clear your windshield in the morning.

– Wax and wash your car before the ice begins to form on roadways.  This will help protect against the elements as well as the salt that will cover the roadways.  Wash your car regularly after snow storms or periods of ice, and be sure to get an undercarriage wash.  Keeping the salt off will prevent rust and extend the life of your car.

– A preowned car means someone else cared for it before you.  Have moving parts, such as bearings and joints, inspected before winter.  A good starting point would be to check the parts that should have been serviced by the current mileage per the manufacturer’s suggestions in the book.  Moving parts need lubrication to prevent wear, and cold weather is hard on these parts.

– Changes in temperature cause condensation.  Condensation in gas lines is a bad thing.  Make sure to keep your car half full or more at all times.  A low gas tank can allow condensation in the lines, and introduce water in the engine.  A low gas tank will also leave you without heat if you happen to be stuck on the side of the road in the cold.

6 Things to Watch Out for When Buying a Used Car

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll Jaguar.

Things to Watch Out For When Buying a Used Car

When shopping for a pre owned vehicle, it’s easy to get swept up in that “new car fever” and forget to ask the important questions. But someone else has driven that car, and you don’t know where it’s been or what it’s been through. Don’t let that dissuade you, though! Six simple tips will get you through the process with a car you can trust, whether you’re buying certified pre-owned or from the classifieds.

1. A car listing that exclaims things like “brand new radiator” and “just had a front end alignment,” or a laundry list of recent improvements, should be a red flag. It’s possible the owners were simply upgrading their car, and then decided on an alternative. It’s also possible the car was in a collision that required replacement and repair of parts. Don’t run away just yet, but ask about the car’s history or order a history report online.

2. Postings that “need love” or “with a little TLC it could be a great vehicle” mean something needs fixing. Be diligent to find out as much as possible about what needs repaired, and make sure that when the repairs are added to the purchase price, the vehicle still falls within your acceptable budget.

3. Trust your instincts. If the car doesn’t feel right, seems a bit rough, makes a strange sound when turning, or anything you are unsure of, ask questions. When you ask a question, make sure to get an answer. A seller who only replies with “that’s normal” or “oh all of the models from that year do it,” but won’t explain the reason why, is hiding something from you. A trustworthy salesman will do his best to explain and fully answer any of your questions.

4. Take the care for a test drive even if you’re in a hurry, on a budget, and this car is the only one available now that you can afford. Don’t trust the vehicle to be running great just because a stranger said so over the phone. Don’t let yourself be surprised after your purchase. Make sure you drive the vehicle on a fast road, a slow road, around some turns. Pull in and out of parking spots to test slow, sharp turns, and test the brakes in an empty parking lot if possible.

5. While you’re in the parking lot, do a leak test. Park the car and let it run for a few minutes, with the air conditioner off if possible. Then move the car and check the ground where you’d parked for any fluids that may have leaked.

6. Don’t fall for a seller’s claims that they have other offers on the table if you don’t accept their terms right away. If they had an offer they wanted to take, the car wouldn’t be available to look at. Don’t take an offer you aren’t happy with just because they rushed you. And remember, it works both ways! You have the power to simply walk away from a sale if you aren’t happy or comfortable with the transaction.

5 Inexpensive Upgrades For Used Cars

This post is sponsored by Reedman Toll

Inexpensive Upgrades for Used Cars

Most of us have a dream car that we’d love to own one day. Maybe it’s out of our price range now, or perhaps it’s just not practical for your family. Whatever the case, we go with a reliable used car that we grow attached to. Maybe you’re so fond of your car that you’ve given it a name. But there’s still something you wish it had. Something it doesn’t do as well as you’d hope. Not to fear, there are some small upgrades you can make to make your used car even more enjoyable than you already find it.

– Replace the wiper blades. A quality wiper blade will keep your windshield clean and will keep the rain, snow, and dirt out of the way so you can drive. It seems like a small thing, but it’s important.

– Shampoo your interior. If you want that new car smell, shampooing the upholstery is how you’ll get it. Use a foaming fabric cleaner and gently scrub according to the instructions. Spot treat any stains or trouble areas. You’ll have a clean car, the new car smell, and your seats will be more comfortable without worn areas with years of embedded dirt and oils. Be sure to clean the car again after storms or dirty work so the mud from your shoes doesn’t make your car its home.

– Clean your headlights with a headlight restoration kit. Be sure to get a kit that includes a protector to apply after the cleaning. The wear from weather and the UV rays from the sun will make the headlights cloudy again if you don’t protect them. Clean headlights not only look good, they let more light through, keeping you safe when driving at night.

– So your car doesn’t have heated seats, and you want to be cozy. A heated seat pad is an inexpensive upgrade that will give you just what you want. Fit the pad to your seat, plug it in to the DC power adapter, and get as toasty as can be. You can even get a seat that massages your back from you drive!

– Pay attention to the annoying parts of your commute. Find the one thing that most commonly annoys you, and fix it! Get that one item you’ve been missing out on. It could be an auto trash can so you have a tidy place for your wrappers. Maybe you find yourself fumbling with your phone too often, and need a phone mount. If you get a lot of calls, maybe it’s a bluetooth speakerphone you need so you can talk hands free without trying to find your headset while driving. Whatever the annoyance, a quick and cheap fix can be found to make your car absolutely perfect.