Summer Car Deals: Buyer’s Tips

In a crappy economy, buying a new (or “new”) car isn’t always a happy event. From Forbes comes a list of four helpful tips to help you save your bank account and your sanity while car-shopping this summer. Hint: it’s not too early to start looking for back-to-school or winter wheels, and why outgoing models are often your best bet.

As inspiration, check out Gadling’s list of “Iconic Road Trips” across the U.S.

Winter Road Trip Safety: Create a car kit, and stay safe

Fortunately, most people who live in snow-prone areas are comfortable driving in adverse weather conditions. They are used to handling icy patches, putting on chains, and ultimately know how to handle most things a wintry storm can throw at them. Growing up in Southern Arizona, we didn’t get a lot of practice driving in a blizzard, but I am now learning the ropes of winter driving.

When your travel plans have been finalized, make sure to tell somebody you trust about your route, starting time, and expected arrival time. This is the most important aspect of making sure you arrive safe. If you don’t show up at the expected time, that somebody knows to begin trying to find you, and where to look.

Another important aspect of staying safe on the road in wintry conditions is to make sure you have a winter car kit. Here’s what I recommend:

Winter Car Kit

  • Several Warm Blankets or Sleeping Bags (warmth)
  • Several Plastic Garbage Bags (waterproof shelter, waste disposal)
  • Multi-tool or Swiss Knife
  • Lighter/Matches (melting snow, signal fires)
  • Candle (light a latch, light a candle…it makes the matches last longer and can melt snow)
  • Two Coffee cans (waste disposal, melting snow)
  • Flashlight (don’t forget spare batteries)
  • Gloves and Hats (warmth)
  • First Aid Kit (one should always be in the car)
  • Twenty Feet of Rope or Cord (tie to vehicle if leaving)
  • Bright Colored Cloth Bandanna (tie to antenna as signal)
  • Whistle (signal for help)
  • Small Snow Shovel (dig out and go home)
  • Several Bottles of Water (eating snow lowers body temperature)
  • Granola Bars, Trail Mix, Chocolate (high energy foods)
  • Deck of Playing Cards (wins some money from your friends while you wait out the storm)

If you do find yourself in your car riding out a bad storm, there are a few tips to remember.

Conserve gas by running your car at intervals around 10 minutes at a time.

Don’t leave the lights on and ruin the battery.

Make sure the downwind window is cracked a bit for ventilation of carbon monoxide. As the snow piles up, make sure it doesn’t block the tailpipe and flood the car with carbon monoxide.

Bundle up in those blankets and do some movement to help generate heat.

Tying a bright colored cloth to your antenna is a method to signal for help. There are also stories of people using engine oil and a coffee can to produce a dark plume of smoke. Whistles work well, too.

Leaving the warmth and shelter of a car is not advised. There have even been instances of people leaving their car and getting lost due to poor visibility in a storm. To prevent this, a length of rope should be carried, with one end tied to the car and the other to the person’s waist should they have to go outside and dig out the tail pipe. If there is no rope, seat belts can be cut and used in a pinch.

Most everybody has a mobile phone these days. Use it to notify somebody where you are and that you need help.

Do not eat snow as it will lower your body temperature. If you must, you can melt snow in a coffee can using a candle or other fire source.

The vast majority of people travel everyday through snowstorm without any problems. Being prepared for a rare incident may mean the difference between a few unpleasant hours and a news story on CNN that ends in tragedy.


Red Cross: Winter Driving Safety
CDC: Winter Storm Safety in Your Car Post on Winter Car Survival