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Getting Your Car Prepped for the Winter months.

Getting Your Car Prepped for the Winter months.

If you live in a cold-weather state, or perhaps if you are planning to visit loved ones in a colder climate over the winter holidays, the following tips literally could be life-saving!

And even if you’ve been living in somewhere like Maine for many years now, these tips can serve as handy reminders of simple steps you can take to stay safe and keep your vehicle in good working order this winter.

  1. Get the right kind of oil change. Are you approaching the time for a 30,000-mile full service for your vehicle? If so, don’t procrastinate! Among other things, the service should include an oil change, and the oil used should have the right viscosity, or thickness, for your vehicle at this time of year. Oil tends to thicken as it gets colder, and if it’s too thick it won’t do the best job of keeping your engine lubricated. Check your owner’s manual for guidance about which oil to use in different climates and temperatures.

  1. Make sure you can see. When’s the last time you replaced your windshield wiper blades? They usually work effectively for about one year, so be sure to invest in some new ones if you’re due. Here’s another important step to take before you find yourself struggling to see in a blinding storm: Fill up your windshield washer reservoir with windshield washer fluid. (Plain water won’t do the trick at this time of year because it freezes.) Also check to see that your heater and defroster are working properly so you can keep the windshield nice and clear.
  1. Give your battery a little TLC. This is an ideal time of year to make sure your battery’s posts and connections are corrosion-free and that your battery has all the water it needs. If your battery is more than three years old, have a certified repair shop test its ability to hold a charge. Granted, you might be able to find a Good Samaritan to help you jump-start your vehicle in the middle of a blizzard — but wouldn’t you rather avoid such a scenario altogether?
  1. Examine your belts and hoses. When you have that full service done on your vehicle, make sure the belts and hoses get checked for wear and tear — even if you’re driving a modern car. Cold weather can do a number on belts and hoses, so they deserve attention.
  1. Check your tire pressure. Your tires must be properly inflated to ensure you’ll have the best possible traction as you drive along — and traction is often severely jeopardized in wet, snowy or icy conditions. The air pressure in your tires has likely dropped as the weather has gotten colder, so it’s important to see where things stand now. (You can generally expect that you’ll lose 1 pound per square inch whenever the temperature drops by 10 degrees Fahrenheit.) Again, your trusty owner’s manual will tell you what your target tire pressure should be.

 

  1. Think about switching to snow tires. Do you live in a hilly place that gets its fair share of snow? Then you might want to improve traction even more by investing in winter tires and using them over the next few months instead of your usual all-season tires. When shopping around for snow tires, ask about all the fees that might come into play, such as fees for mounting and balancing. You can accomplish this easily and make accurate cost comparisons by asking each store for the “out the door charge.”
  1. Do you have four-wheel drive? If so, it’s important to check the status of your four-wheel-drive system and be sure it’s working correctly — especially because most drivers don’t use their 4WD systems in the pleasant summer months. Be sure that the system engages and disengages easily, and that all drivers in your household know how and when to activate the system.

 

  1.  Get the antifreeze mixture just right. Aim for having a 50-50 mix of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your radiator. This will prevent the mixture from freezing even at ridiculously cold temperatures. It’s easy to check the status of the mixture with an inexpensive antifreeze tester, which you can pick up at any auto parts store. If the mixture is off, your cooling system should be drained and refilled or flushed. Be sure you’re equipped to dispose of your old antifreeze properly if you do this job yourself. It can’t just be poured down the drain.
  1. Prepare an emergency kit. Store this stuff in your trunk during the winter months, especially if a road trip is in your future:
  • a blanket
  • extra boots and gloves
  • an extra set of warm clothes
  • extra water and food, including hard candies
  • an ice scraper
  • a small shovel
  • a flashlight
  • windshield washer fluid
  • windshield wipers
  • flares
  • jumper cables
  • a tool kit
  • tire chains
  • a tire gauge
  • a spare tire with air in it
  • tire-changing equipment
  • a first-aid kit
  • paper towels
  • a bag of abrasive material such as sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter, which can provide additional traction if a tire gets stuck in snow.

Also, keep the gas tank as full as you can to prevent the gas lines from freezing.

  1. Know what to do if you get stranded. Don’t wander away from your car unless you’re completely sure about where you are and how far away help is. Light two flares and situate them at each end of your vehicle to call attention to your plight. Put on the extra clothes and use the blanket to stay warm. If you have enough gas in the tank, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes for each hour you’re waiting for help. Leave at least one window open a little bit so that snow and ice don’t seal the car shut. Suck on a hard candy to prevent your mouth from getting too dry.
How Germany's Famous Autobahns Came To Be

How Germany's Famous Autobahns Came To Be

The idea for the construction of the autobahn was first conceived in the mid-1920s during the days of the Weimar Republic, but the construction was slow, and most projected sections did not progress much beyond the planning stage due to economic problems and a lack of political support.


One project was the private initiative HaFraBa which planned a "car-only road" crossing Germany from Hamburg in the north via central Frankfurt to Switzerland. Parts of the HaFraBa were completed in the late 1930s and early 1940s, but construction eventually was halted by World War II. The first public road of this kind was completed in 1932 between Cologne and Bonn and opened by Konrad Adenauer on 6 August 1932.

Today, that road is the Bundesautobahn 555. This road was not yet called Autobahn and lacked a centre median like modern motorways, but instead was termed a “Kraftfahrstraße” ("motor vehicle road") with two lanes each direction without intersections, pedestrians, bicycles, or animal-powered transportation.


Just days after the 1933 Nazi takeover, Adolf Hitler enthusiastically embraced an ambitious autobahn construction project, appointing Fritz Todt, the Inspector General of German Road Construction, to lead it.


By 1936, 130,000 workers were directly employed in construction, as well as an additional 270,000 in the supply chain for construction equipment, steel, concrete, signage, maintenance equipment, etc. In rural areas, new camps to house the workers were built near construction sites. The job creation program aspect was not especially important because full employment was almost reached by 1936.


Contrary to popular belief the autobahns were not primarily intended as major infrastructure improvement of special value to the military as often stated. Their military value was limited as all major military transports in Germany were done by train to save fuel. The propaganda ministry turned the construction of the autobahns into a major media event that attracted international attention.

The autobahns formed the first limited-access, high-speed road network in the world, with the first section from Frankfurt to Darmstadt opening in 1935. This straight section was used for high-speed record attempts by the Grand Prix racing teams of Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union until a fatal accident involving popular German race driver Bernd Rosemeyer in early 1938. The world record of 432 kilometres per hour (268 mph) set by Rudolf Caracciola on this stretch just prior to the accident remains one of the highest speeds ever achieved on a public motorway.

A similar intent in the 1930s existed for a ten-kilometre stretch of what is today Bundesautobahn 9 just south of Dessau—called the Dessauer Rennstrecke—had bridges with no piers, meant for land speed record cars like the Mercedes-Benz T80 to have made a record attempt in January 1940, abandoned due to the outbreak of World War II in Europe four months earlier.



During World War II, the median strips of some autobahns were paved over to allow their conversion into auxiliary airstrips. Aircraft were either stashed in numerous tunnels or camouflaged in nearby woods. However, for the most part during the war, the autobahns were not militarily significant.

Motor vehicles, such as trucks, could not carry goods or troops as quickly or in as much bulk and in the same numbers as trains could, and the autobahns could not be used by tanks as their weight and caterpillar tracks damaged the road surface. The general shortage of gasoline in Germany during much of the war, as well as the low number of trucks and motor vehicles needed for direct support of military operations, further decreased the autobahn's significance.


As a result, most military and economic freight was carried by rail. After the war, numerous sections of the autobahns were in bad shape, severely damaged by heavy Allied bombing and military demolition. Furthermore, thousands of kilometres of autobahns remained unfinished, their construction brought to a halt by 1943 due to the increasing demands of the war effort.


In West Germany, most existing autobahns were repaired soon after the war. During the 1950s, the West German government restarted the construction program. It invested in new sections and in improvements to older ones. Finishing the incomplete sections took longer, with some stretches opened to traffic by the 1980s. Some sections cut by the Iron Curtain in 1945 were only completed after German reunification in 1990. Others were never completed, as more advantageous routes were found. Some of these incomplete sections to this very day stretch across the landscape forming a unique type of modern ruin, often easily visible on satellite photographs.

The autobahns of East Germany were neglected in comparison to those in West Germany after 1945. East German autobahns were used primarily for GDR military traffic and for state-owned farming or manufacturing vehicles. The speed limit on the GDR autobahns was 100 km/h; however, lower speed limits were frequently encountered due to poor or quickly changing road conditions. The speed limits on the GDR autobahns were rigorously enforced by the Volkspolizei, whose patrol cars were frequently found hiding under camouflage tarpaulins waiting for speeders.

Everything you need to know about The Circuit De Monaco aka Monte Carlo

Everything you need to know about The Circuit De Monaco aka Monte Carlo

The Monaco Circuit is a street circuit laid out on the city streets of Monte Carlo and La Condamine around the harbour of the of Monaco. It is commonly referred to as "Monte Carlo" because it is largely inside the Monte Carlo neighbourhood of Monaco.


The circuit is used on two weekends in the month of May of each year to host the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix and Formula E Monaco ePrix (odd years) or Historic Grand Prix of Monaco (even years).

The idea for a Grand Prix race around the streets of Monaco came from Antony Noghès, the president of the Monegasque motor club, Automobile Club de Monaco, and close friend of the ruling Grimaldi family. The inaugural race was held in 1929 and was won by William Grover-Williams in a Bugatti.


To date, only three local drivers have won a race at the Circuit.


Louis Chiron did it at the non-championship 1931 Monaco Grand Prix; 82 years later, Stefano Coletti crossed the line in first position at the sprint race of the 2013 Monaco GP2 Series round. The third driver to do so was Stéphane Richelmi at the sprint race of the 2014 Monaco GP2 Series round.


The building of the circuit takes six weeks, and the dismantling after the race another three weeks. The race circuit has many elevation shifts, tight corners and is narrow. These features make it perhaps the most demanding track in Formula One racing. Although the course has changed many times during its history, it is still considered the ultimate test of driving skills in Formula One.


It contains both the slowest corner in Formula One (the Fairmont Hairpin, taken at just 48 km/h or 30 mph) and one of the quickest (the flat out kink in the tunnel, three turns beyond the hairpin, taken at 260 km/h or 160 mph).


Due to the tight and twisty nature of the circuit, it favours the skill of the drivers over the power of the cars. However, there is very little overtaking as the course is so narrow and dangerous. Nelson Piquet likened racing round the course to "riding a bicycle around your living room".


Prior to 1987, the number of cars starting the race was limited to 20, compared to 26 at other circuits. The famous tunnel section (running under the Fairmont Hotel, marked in grey in the circuit diagram above) is said to be difficult for drivers to cope with due to the quick switch from light to dark, then back to light again, at one of the fastest points of the course. As a result, race outcomes tend to be decided by grid positions as well as pit strategies, and is extremely hard on gearboxes and brakes.


Several attempts have been made to improve cramped conditions in the pit garages. In 2002, a substantial amount of land was reclaimed from the harbour to slightly change the shape of one section of the circuit; this left more space for new pit garages, which debuted in the 2004 event.


The circuit is generally recognised to be less safe than other circuits used for Formula One. Driver and former winner Michael Schumacher stated before the 2012 Grand Prix that the additional risk is "justifiable once a year". If it were not already an existing Grand Prix, it would not be permitted to be added to the Formula One schedule, for safety reasons.


The lap starts with a short sprint up Boulevard Albert Ier, to the tight Sainte-Dévote corner, named after a small church just beyond the barriers. This is a nearly 90-degree right-hand bend usually taken in first or second gear. This corner has seen many first lap accidents, although these are less common since the removal of the mini roundabout on the apex of the corner before the 2003 event, making the entrance to the corner wider. The cars then head uphill along Avenue d'Ostende, before changing down for the long left-hander at Massenet. The maximum gradient in this part of the circuit is around 12%.


Out of Massenet, the cars drive past the famous casino before quickly reaching the aptly named Casino Square. This part of the track is 44 metres higher than the lowest part. The cars snake down Avenue des Beaux Arts, the next short straight, avoiding an enormous bump on the left of the track, a reminder of the unique nature of the circuit. This leads to the tight Mirabeau corner, which is followed by a short downhill burst to the even tighter Fairmont Hairpin (was known as the Station Hairpin before the hotel was opened on the site in 1973; the hairpin's name changed depending on the name on the hotel).


It is a corner which has been used for many overtaking manoeuvres in the past. However it would be almost physically impossible for two modern F1 cars to go round side by side, as the drivers must use full steering lock to get around. It is so tight that many Formula 1 teams must redesign their steering and suspension specifically to negotiate this corner.


After the hairpin, the cars head downhill again to a double right-hander called Portier, named after region of Monaco, before heading into the famous tunnel, a unique feature of a Formula One circuit. (Until 2009 only one other circuit, Detroit in 1982–88, featured a tunnel, but the F1 series now includes racing at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, which presents a shorter tunnel at the exit of the pit lane.) As well as the change of light making visibility poor, a car can lose 20–30% of its downforce due to the unique aerodynamic properties of the tunnel. The tunnel also presents a unique problem when it rains. As it is virtually indoors, the tunnel usually remains dry while the rest of the track is wet, with only the cars bringing in water from their tyres. Famously before the very wet 1984 race, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone had local fire crews wet down the road in the tunnel to give it the same surface grip as the rest of the track. This was done at the request of McLaren driver Niki Lauda.

Out of the tunnel, the cars have to brake hard for the tight left-right-left Nouvelle Chicane. This has been the scene of several large accidents, including that of Karl Wendlinger in 1994, Jenson Button in 2003 and Sergio Pérez in 2011. The chicane is generally the only place on the circuit where overtaking can be attempted. There is a short straight to Tabac, so called as there used to be a tobacconist on the outside of the corner. Tabac is a tight fourth gear corner which is taken at about 195 km/h (121 mph).  Accelerating up to 225 km/h (140 mph), the cars reach Piscine, a fast left-right followed by a slower right-left chicane which takes the cars past the Rainier III Nautical Stadium, its swimming pool gives its name to the corner.


Following Piscine, there is a short straight followed by heavy braking for a quick left which is immediately followed by the tight 135 degree right-hander called La Rascasse. This is another corner which requires full steering lock; it will be remembered for a long time as the location of one of the most suspicious manoeuvres in recent Formula One history after the 2006 season when Michael Schumacher appeared to deliberately stop his car in qualifying so as to prevent Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber – who were both following and were on flying laps – from out-qualifying him. The Rascasse takes the cars into a short straight that precedes the final corner, Virage Antony Noghès. Named after the organiser of the first Monaco Grand Prix, the corner is a tight right-hander which brings the cars back onto the start-finish straight, and across the line to start a new lap.


Monaco is one of the two circuits which have only one DRS zone, the other being Suzuka. During the race, it is active along the pit straight from Antony Noghès to Sainte-Dévote, for a total of 510 metres.