Keep Fido Safe on Your Next Road Trip with These Simple Tips

In just a few short weeks, people will start planning their summer road trips. Or maybe you’re ahead of the game, and already have your trip planned. Either way, one thing is evitable: you WILL be taking a road trip this summer.

But before you hop in your car and take off, give Fido some consideration. Instead of leaving your pooch at home or dropping him off at doggie day camp, think about taking him with you! And here at Jim Shorkey, we can help! Check out some tips below on how to protect your dog (and car) on road trips.

Buy a Ramp. It can be difficult for dogs to leap into SUVs and trucks. Consider investing in a ramp that extends from the ground to the vehicle’s load floor. This easy stroll into and out of your car can prevent unexpected injuries and expensive vet bills that may keep you in park for longer than intended. Bonus: Most ramps currently on the market fold up for easy storage.

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New Threads. Consider a tight-fitting, Velcro-closing shirt specifically designed to calm anxious canines by making them feel hugged and comfy. Therefore, if they start to panic on the road, you can calm them down without any major catastrophe.

Harness your Hound. You (hopefully) wouldn’t let a child ride in the backseat without a seatbelt, and your pooch is no exception. Keep your dog safe with a harness—most include some sort of padded vest with dog-to-car anchor points that distribute crash forces evenly over a dog’s body. They also offer several options for securing your dog in place, from a single lockdown for riding in a cargo area to two latch child-seat anchors with a human three-point seatbelt looped through the harness.

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Ahhh, That’s the Life. If your dog is traveling on vacation with you, chances are he is already living the dream. Why not make his time in the car even better with a hammock! If you can believe it, there are various hammocks for dogs available on the market that provide a comfy, waterproof berth for your dog while keeping the backseat clean.

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Keep your Distance. As all dog owners know, dogs are very excitable, especially when out of their element. To keep them from treating your car like their playground, you may want to confine them to the backseat with a partition. Most partitions currently on the market are model specific, but offer adjustable feet and sliding crossbars that allow you to customize the partition to your liking.

 

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Common Car Problems in the Winter

With the temperatures warming to the 40’s and 50’s this past weekend, everyone was thinking spring. Unfortunately, those thoughts were short lived with the return of snow showers and single-digit temperatures at the beginning of the week.

And the wrath of winter weather doesn’t stop with us. It extends to our cars. The good news is, though, there are a number of things you can do to safeguard your car.

Batteries

One of the most common problems faced by drivers in the winter is failed batteries. Some contributing factors to a battery’s demise in the winter are how long you’ve had the battery and the quality of the battery going into winter. At Jim Shorkey, we suggest stopping by one of our Service Centers and having your battery checked before the winter starts.

According to AAA, your car’s battery can lose about 35% of its efficiency when the temperature is around 0 degrees.

Frozen Lines

The fuel lines carry gasoline from the tank to the engine. When you drive, the gasoline runs through the lines and keeps them clear. Sometimes, condensation can build up in these lines and, if left in cold weather too long, can freeze. To prevent this, you should take special care in keeping your gas tank at least half full, or between 3/4 to full throughout the cold months.

Winter Car Breakdown

If you have questions about how to keep your car safe in winter, contact our maintenance experts at any of our Jim Shorkey locations. If you run into problems, our service professionals can help.

 

Tips to Avoid Distractions While Driving

We can all admit it – we’ve been distracted while driving. We don’t realize that we have stopped at a green light because we were distracted by something else. That’s why we’re here with helpful hints on ways to avoid distractions while driving

Distracted-driving

  • Give the road your undivided attention. Don’t let anything divert your attention, scan the road and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Make sure everything in your car is secured. Anything that is loose in the car can roll around and cause distraction. If everything is stored away you wont feel tempted to reach for them on the floor and seat.
  • Make adjustments before you head out on your adventure. Address vehicle systems like your GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound system. Decide your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time.
  • Put away that phone! Don’t use cell phones while driving – hanndheld or hands-free – except in the case of emergencies. Never use text messaging, email functions, video games or the internet with a wireless device.
  • If there is another activity that requires your attention, pull over to a safe place instead of trying to attempt it while driving.
  • Snack smart. Eat meals or snacks before or after your trip, not while driving. On the road, avoid messy foods that can be difficult to manage.
  • Don’t let your passengers distract you! Instead, enlist their help so you can focus safely on driving.

Tips for Driving on Black Ice

The winter season is here, and for as pretty as the snow is when it covers the trees and roads, it brings many dangers for motorists, with one of the most threatening being slippery and hard-to-spot black ice.

Black ice forms when the air is at 32 degrees or below at the surface and rain is falling. The ground temperature causes the precipitation to freeze upon impact, thus creating the ice.

Due to complexion, black ice is very hard to spot, but using a car thermometer as an initial gauge can be helpful in determining the road conditions. A car thermometer is made to find the air’s ambient temperature. So if a vehicle’s thermometer is close to freezing, the car driver should be cautious on the roads.

BLACK ICE

However, dude to the restrictions of a car’s thermometer, the best way to know if the roads are icy before heading out is to be aware of how, where, and when black ice forms. The prime time for ice to develop are around dawn and in the late evening, when temperatures are typically the lowest. During the day, the best thing to do before getting in a vehicle is to take a look at the pavement. If the pavement is dry but you see spots of pavement that look dark and glossy, there is a great chance that it is black ice. The most common locations for black ice to appear are shaded or tree-covered parts of driveways and roadways due to the lack of sunlight and bridges and overpasses because of their ability to freeze quickly.

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While driving on black ice is similar to snow, the big difference between the two is the amount of traction the vehicle retains. Due to lack of traction a car has on ice, the basic rule for driving is to stay calm and let the vehicle pass over it.

Other tips for driving on black ice:

1. Do not hit the brakes, instead keep the steering wheel steady

2. Lift your foot off the accelerator.

3. Do not overcorrect your steering if you feel your car sliding

4. Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses

5. Never use cruise control

6. Avoid unnecessarily changing lanes

7. Drive, turn, and break slowly

8. If you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump the pedal

9. Use your low-beam headlights

10. Remember, four-wheel drive doesn’t help you stop any faster.

Our service departments are here to get your winter ready

Bizarre Traffic Laws Around the World

Generally, laws establish order and make places safer to live and thrive. But what happens when laws don’t make sense? Check out these bizarre traffic laws that will have you scratching your head! What’s the weirdest law you’ve ever heard? Let us know in the comments.

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United States

In Denver, Colorado, you cannot drive a black car on Sundays.

In California:
1.Women are prohibited from wearing a bathrobe while driving.

2.It’s illegal to shoot at wild game from a moving vehicle, unless your target is a whale.

In Milford, Massachusetts, you’re not allowed to peep into another car’s window.

In Alabama, you’re not to operate a vehicle barefooted or blindfolded.

Asia

In Singapore, it’s against the law for a driver to come within 50 meters (approximately 164 ft.) of a pedestrian.

In Thailand, shirts are required when driving.

In Japan, if you splash muddy water on a pedestrian while driving, you will be heavily fined.

Europe

In Switzerland, you can’t wash your car on Sunday.

In Russia/Romania, you’ll be fined if you’re driving a dirty car.

In Spain, if you don’t have extra pair of glasses in the car at all times, even if you’re already wearing a pair, it is against the law.

Safety First: Tips to Stay Awake While Driving

Whether taking a road trip, driving to work, running errands, or stopping by any of our Jim Shorkey locations,  it is extremely dangerous to drive a vehicle when feeling sleepy or tired. But what can you do to stay awake? We offer some tips to help make North Huntingdon a safer place for you and your family!

tips to stay awake when driving, driving tips, alert driving

  1. Caffeine

Whether you brew your coffee at home or buy it on the road, drink it black if you can tolerate it. The coffee’s bitterness will provide a quick jolt before the caffeine even enters your bloodstream. As a backup, keep something like a 5-Hour Energy drink or NoDoz pills in the glove compartment.

  1. Healthy Eats

Keep a few snacks within reach, but make sure they’re healthy. Treats with less sugar tend to distribute energy at a more constant, even pace— rather than a jolt followed by a food coma.

  1. Bring a Buddy

A road companion is probably the best thing you can bring with you on a trip. Have your friend DJ or read to you throughout the ride, but mostly have your pal keep you honest when the sheep want to start jumping overhead.

  1. Be Cool

Warm, cozy temperatures are synonymous with the arrival of the sandman, so keep the vehicle just a few notches below your ideal temperature—though not enough to make it too uncomfortable.

  1. Facercise (Facial Exercise)

The hype around facercise is about reducing wrinkles and toning lax facial muscles, but it’s also great for waking up. Here are some techniques to get you started: hyper-extend your lower jaw, then wiggle it side-to-side; suck in your cheeks; open your mouth very wide, then tightly purse your lips; hyper-open your eyes, then raise your eyebrows; and then repeat the above or create some facercises of your own.

  1. Lane-Departure Warning Systems

For those with extreme road doze, consider investing in a car with a lane-departure warning system, which will notify you when the vehicle drifts out of its lane without a turn-signal indication.

  1. Take a Break

Even if you’re running late and still have a long stretch of driving ahead of you, make time for a break. When the scenery starts to lull you into a stupor, pull over—at a rest stop, preferably. It’s always better to arrive late than never at all.

What to Do If Your Car Starts to Overheat

We’ve all been there—driving down the road and suddenly your car is overheating. Don’t panic! Just remember these helpful tips as you steer your scorcher of a car to one of our Jim Shorkey Service Centers.

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1. The first, and most important, step is to make sure that you always carry an extra bottle of coolant (antifreeze) in your car, as well as a jug of water. Engines typically overheat because the coolant is low, so topping off the coolant will usually solve the problem.

2. If your air conditioner is running and you see the temperature gauge slowly creeping into the red, or a notification goes off, turn off your AC immediately.

3. If the problem continues, crank your heater to full blast. This may make the next few miles brutal but the transfer of heat away from the engine may save your car and wallet’s life!

4. If the previous steps fail, and the problem still persists, pull over as soon as you can and turn off the engine. If you can, pop the hood from the driver’s seat. Do not pop the hood by hand, until the engine has cooled, especially if you see steam rising off of the engine.

5. Once the engine has cooled, check the coolant tank. If the coolant tank is empty, you may have a leak. Take a look under the car, if you notice a drip or a puddle, chances are the coolant tank is leaking.

If you do have a leak, carefully open the radiator cap. Place a cloth over the radiator cap to protect your hand, and tilt the cap away from you as it opens. Refill the cooled radiator with your spare coolant or water. Do not pour cold water into a still-hot radiator — it could cause the engine block to crack due to the sudden change in temperature.

If the coolant tank is full, the problem may be electrical or mechanical in nature, in which case a tow to the nearest Jim Shorkey Service Center is definitely in order. A leaking hose, worn or broken fan belt, bad water pump, or malfunctioning thermostat may be the culprit.

How to Store Your Car in the Winter: Tips and Advice

Do you have a car that you store away for the winter? Don’t worry, Jim Shorkey has you covered. Follow our advice, and your car will wake up in the spring with birds chirping and the bees buzzing.

car care tips, storing car for winter around Pittsburgh

Clean it Up. Your hot rod has accumulated dirt and road grime from driving it all summer long. Make sure before storing your car that you clean the interior and exterior of your vehicle. All that road grime can lead to corrosion and damage.

Keep it Covered. The ideal space to store your vehicle would be in a heated indoor space. If you don’t have a garage available, consider renting a storage facility. If that is not an option, you can also purchase weatherproof car covers that will keep your car clean and dry while it is stored.

Fill up the Tank. Don’t leave your car thirsty all winter long. Filling up your tank before storage will prevent moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank and keep the seals from drying out.

Keep the Battery Charged. A battery that is not in use will eventually lose its charge. Start your car every two weeks and if possible, drive around for a few minutes. This will allow the battery to recharge and the car to maintain good working order.

Don’t Use the Parking Break. Although it is a good thing to use your parking brake, don’t use it when your car is in storage. If the brake pads are touching the rotors for too long, there is a chance that they might fuse. Instead of putting on the parking brake, you can use a tire stopper.

Prevent Tire Flat Spots. Make sure your tires are inflated to the recommended tire pressure. If a vehicle is not driven for a long time, the tires can develop flat spots from the weight of the vehicle.

Need a second vehicle while your car is in storage? We’ve got you covered! Take a look at our inventory!

The Importance of Routine Oil Changes

Sure, every car owner knows they have to get their oil changed. But maybe you’re really busy this week, or you’re waiting for payday, or you’re trying to stretch a few more miles out of the oil you currently have? Whatever the case, oil changes often fall on the backburner in terms of car maintenance. It cannot be that bad for your car, right?

Wrong.

Check out these photos of a car engine in which the car owner neglected to get oil changes:

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Now, compare those to these photos of a well-maintained engine that received regular maintenance:

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It doesn’t take a well-trained and highly skilled auto mechanic to notice the difference between these two engines. We cannot stress enough the importance of proper vehicle maintenance, especially going into late fall and winter. Click here to schedule your service today at any of our convenient locations on Route 30 in North Huntingdon or Pittsburgh Road in Uniontown.

Five Safety Features Every Vehicle In North Huntingdon Should Have

Traction Control (TC) Systems

The traction control is also known as ASR or Acceleration Slip Regulation. This is especially useful for Pittsburgh drivers, when the roads are slippery and wet in the harsh winters. When the driver moves at an accelerated speed, this feature will help cope with the torque. The result is that friction of the tires against the pavement will be reduced.

Automatic Headlights

When driving at night, with little to no light, it is important to be cautious of your surroundings. You won’t be able to clearly see other vehicles around you. Instinctively as an experienced driver, you may turn on the bright headlights. In some updated cars nowadays, however, you don’t have to do this manually. A lot of newer car models have light sensors that detect the necessity for more light.

Tailgate Step

Tailgate steps are needed for all truck owners who are relatively older and those who have a hard time getting on the back of pickup trucks.

Anti-Lock Brakes

When you often jam the brakes, you may find the anti-lock braking system a lifesaver as the car uses electronic controls to stop your wheels from locking. So without rotating, you can steer around with longer braking distance even while applying maximum brake force. Same as the TC systems, these anti-lock brakes are more effective when driving on slippery roads. Keeping them handy gives the benefit of steering around obstacles during emergency braking.

Airbags

Airbags are essential in any car to avoid injuries when driving. When head-on collisions occur, airbags protect your head and chest as they provide buffer by instantly inflating during a frontal collision. There are also side airbags that protect your upper body, and these are deployed when there’s impact on the sides.