5 Reasons Your Cooling System Might Fail

automotive-air-conditioning-1382378-mAh!  The warm weather has finally arrived throughout the United States and with it comes plans for a fun-filled summer.  Unfortunately, all too often unexpected car repairs or Tampa auto accidents can ruin those plans.  One of the more common car failures involves the cooling system.  This is the essential component of any vehicle that maintains normal operating temperatures and keeps the engine safe from overheating.  When the cooling system fails, the heat gauge on the dash will quickly hit its limits and the car can begin to misbehave or even start smoking.  It is essential to stop driving an overheating vehicle to prevent lasting damage to the working components within.

There are several reasons that the cooling system can fail, including:

Low Coolant Levels. If your system is leaking or there has been excessive evaporation, the coolant levels can dip down to dangerously low levels, which can lead to overheating on your road trip.  This is exactly why you should regularly check fluid levels in your car.

Fan Failure. In addition to the coolant, this system depends on fans blowing air when the car isn’t travelling fast enough to create proper air flow through the radiator.  When the fan fails to come on, temperatures can climb quickly.

Thermostat Closed Tight. A thermostat is used to gauge the temperature and, when that measure has reached a certain level, to open for the release of coolant.  If it fails to open, coolant won’t be flowing and overheating is likely.

Bad Belts. Like so many components of a vehicle, in many cars the cooling system fan depends on a belt.  If the belt is damaged or worn out, then the fan won’t turn and the engine temperature will reach dangerous levels.

Flush-Ready Fluid. The coolant in your vehicle should be flushed and replaced annually because it can begin to gum up and cause trouble in the radiator as you tack on the miles.  By 50,000 miles, it can wreak havoc on the cooling system.

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Bus Safety: Teaching Kids to Save Their Own Lives

emergency-exit-835400-mThe recent news story breaking out of California is leaving millions heartbroken as they learn of the car accident that killed seven students and three adults.  When a big rig FedEx truck crossed the median, it ran head-on into a bus carrying high school seniors.  The collision was so intense that it led to explosions and a sea of flames.  Fortunately, many students were able to get out of the bus by jumping out the windows.

It is horrible to think of the consequences of this accident, but it is also important to remember that it could take place anywhere.  What would your child do if he or she was involved in a Tampa auto accident or bus accident and you weren’t there to help?

Bus safety is often an emphasized topic at the beginning of the school year, but it can take a back seat to other, seemingly more important matters as the year wears on.  Though this incident was almost certainly unpreventable, it should serve as a reminder that lives are precious and fragile.  Knowing where to locate emergency exits, how to operate them, and how to react should unexpected circumstances arise is just the type of information students should be provided on each and every trip. Though many schools throughout the country are required to run bus drills a certain number of times each year, it is important to realize that kids change after-school patterns frequently.  It is possible that, at the time of a crash, the driver will be contending with at least one child that has not been through those drills.

More than 30 people were rushed to hospitals after the bus and truck accident, some were in flames as they leapt through windows and sought help.  As mentioned above, ten did not survive.  This is just the type of story that makes you want to rush home and hug your own children tight.  Let it also serve as inspiration to remind your children regularly how to react in a bus or car emergency.

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Preparing Your Car For Summer: The Emergency Kit

first-aid-kit-545391-mMany people think that winter is the time for stocking the car in case of an accident, but the summer can be just as detrimental to those involved in an auto emergency.  As you prepare your vehicle for the warmest months of the year, be sure that you have safety in mind.  That means keeping an emergency kit on hand.

First Aid Kit. Don’t confuse a first aid kit for an emergency kit.  This is only a piece of the puzzle, but it is an important one.  A proper First Aid kit should contain Band-Aids, adhesive tape, non-stick gauze, aspirin, antiseptic ointments, small scissors, and instant ice packs.  It is also wise to consider the possible emergency needs of your family members.  For instance, EpiPens, inhalers, and other such life-saving medications may be necessary as well.  However, be sure to check manufacturers’ guidelines for safe storage temperatures as it can get very warm inside cars during the summer months.

Warning Triangles and Flares. Most experts agree that you should have at least four warning devices in your vehicle in case of an emergency.  These can be set up at several yard intervals in both directions to warn oncoming traffic.  If you do not provide this notice and a collision results, you could be held accountable by a personal injury attorney in court.

Tire Gauge, Sealant, Spare Tire, and Jack. Tire trouble can make it very difficult to get from one place to another.  Be sure that you carry a gauge to check tire pressure if you start to notice performance problems and sealant that will allow you to temporarily patch tire defects.  When you can’t patch it, a spare will be needed to get you back on the road and to a safe place.

Jumper Cables and Tow Cables. If your battery fails, you aren’t going to make it very far.  However, jumper cables can help you get the car started and to a safe place until you can get the battery checked properly.  Similarly, tow cables can help you get out of a minor predicament without needing a professional tow truck.

Rain Gear, Gloves, Rags, and a Blanket. Be sure that you can cover up, should you face an overnight emergency or one that takes place during inclement weather.  It is also wise to have gloves and rags in case you have to clean up a mess, work on the car, or tackle some other emergency scenario.

Food and Drink. If you are forced to wait for help for an extended period of time or you are forced to entertain young children while the car problem is addressed, you will want food and drinks on hand.  Bottles of water, granola bars, and other non-perishable items are a wise addition to your emergency kit.

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Preparing Your Car For Summer: The Battery

starting-the-car-1194812-mThe summer season brings with it the desire to get out and about, to explore the world around us.  In order to accomplish this goal, you will need a reliable vehicle to transport you.  This means that you should take this opportunity to inspect several car components to be sure that they are in good working order.  Among those is the battery.  Of all the parts of your vehicle, the battery is among the most likely to fail.  The average car battery will last as few as two or three years, with some lasting up to ten years.  In order to be sure that yours doesn’t fail at the most inopportune time, take the time now to give it a closer look.

Get Rid of the Dirt and Grime.  Batteries that are covered in gunk and corrosion are much more likely to fail when you most need them.  Clean this away with an old toothbrush and a mixture of baking soda and water.  It is always a good idea to avoid touching the corrosive deposits to bare skin, so wear gloves and eye protection when working on your vehicle.

Check the Water Levels.  Water is an important part of the inner workings of a car battery.  When water evaporates due to overcharging or when there is a leak, it can cause the battery to fail.  Fortunately, most batteries have removable caps that make it easy to check if these fluid levels are waning.  If water levels in the battery have dipped below the top of the plates within, it may be necessary to add distilled water to bring it back to the desired level.  If you are uncomfortable checking the levels on your own, or cannot find caps on your battery, consider setting up a regular maintenance appointment with a mechanic.

Facts About Your Battery.  Hot weather is the most trying time for your car battery.  The average battery lasts three to four years, but more batteries die in the summer than during any other season.  Regularly using the accessory mode in your car can reduce the life of your battery.  If a new battery fails, causing injury or harm, you can speak to a personal injury attorney about your rights.

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Preparing Your Car For Summer: Brakes

brake-rotor-80847-mIt will soon be the season of “cruising the strip,” family road trips, and driving with the top down, which means that this is the season of prepping the car.  Pre-season summer car maintenance can lead to a much more enjoyable and safer summer season with fewer chances for a Tampa auto accident.  So schedule a trip to the local auto shop, if need be, but, at the very least, take a close look at the brakes you depend upon so much.

Today, the majority of cars on the road are equipped with disc brakes.  This system relies on a hydraulic system creating pressure that allows the brake to be compressed when the driver pushes down on the pedal.  In addition to a fully functioning hydraulic system, these brakes rely on calipers, rotors, and pads.  The rotors are the “discs” of the disc brake system.  They allow the wheel to spin freely until the brake pedal is depressed, which causes calipers (clamps) to close down on the rotor, thereby stopping the movement of the wheel.  In order for enough friction to be created, the caliper must be loaded with a brake pad.

Look. There are three things that you should be doing to ensure that your braking system is operating efficiently.  The first is to look at them periodically.  Fortunately, through many tire spokes it is possible to catch a glimpse of the brake pads.  If these are less than one-quarter inch in thickness, then they cannot perform their task as well as they should and that means that it takes you longer to stop the car.  If you cannot see the pads through the spokes, consider removing the tire.  This will also allow you to inspect the rotors, which should be smooth and clean of any groves or pitting.  If you don’t feel comfortable performing this inspection, consult an experienced mechanic. 

Listen. Most modern braking systems are equipped with a sensor that will let out a loud squeal when the brakes are not working properly.  Additionally, grinding sounds can indicate that the pads are worn so badly that metal is touching metal when you compress the brakes. Continuing to use brakes in that condition can lead to rotor damage or a serious accident.  If you are involved in a collision because you have not properly maintained your car, you could find yourself facing a personal injury attorney in court.

Feel. Finally, feel for indications that your brakes are not working properly.  You will likely notice some vibration when attempting to stop the car.  It is also possible that bad brakes would cause your car to pull to one side or the other.  This suggests that a caliper is getting stopped in the engaged position.  Whereas, a soft pedal – one that sinks nearly all the way to the floor before slowing the vehicle – suggests that there is a leak in the hydraulic system.

If you are noticing brake wear and tear, get it fixed.  After all, brakes can save your life!

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Preparing Your Car For Summer: Tires

tires-1372268-mIn an ongoing series of posts about the essential steps to preparing your car for summer driving, we now come to tires.  Though there is a lot of talk (especially in the north) about the importance of tire care in the coldest months of the year, the rubber is just as important come summertime.

Time to Make the Switch to Summer Tires

Chances are good, as a resident of Tampa, Florida, that you don’t worry about winter tires.  However, if you spend part of your year in another climate, or you have recently relocated, then you might need to make the switch to summer tires now.

Have Your Tires Rotated

If you haven’t had rotated your tires recently, then now is the time.  This is not so much a “summertime issue” as it is a matter of regular maintenance.  In order to preserve the life of the tires that you invested in, it is wise to rotate them.  Why?  Well, front tires take the brunt of the punishment when driving.  They are used for the execution of turns, parallel parking, and many cars on the road are front-wheel drive, meaning that the front wheel pull the vehicle.  Changing the back tires to the front, and vice versa, will keep the set in better shape for a longer period of time.

Check Tire Pressures

This isn’t something that should be done at the start of summer and then ignored throughout the rest of the year.  Tire pressure plays a big part in the performance of your vehicle and low pressure can drastically increase the odds of a tire blowout and Tampa auto accident.  So, while the tires are still cold – before you have driven very far – check the pressure and ensure that it falls within the manufacturer’s recommended range.

Examine Tires For Tread Life

Finally, pull out a penny.  That’s right!  It’s time to check your tire tread and Former President Lincoln is going to help you do it.  Stick the coin between the tread with Lincoln’s head facing downward.  If any part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the rubber of the tread, then the tires are good to go.  If not, it’s time to start researching the best new shoes for your vehicle.  Additionally, look for uneven wear (areas where the tread is worn more noticeably).  An alignment might be needed if there is uneven tread wear.  This will help keep your tires road-worthy.

NOTE: Don’t forget to check your spare tire, as well.  In case of emergency, you want to be able to rely on it.  It is also wise to take your jack out once or twice per year to ensure it operates efficiently.

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Preparing Your Car For Summer: A/C

hotcold-dial-1207958-mIn the most recent blog post, I wrote about the importance of getting your cooling system inspected before summer arrives.  Now that you have your car cooled down properly, it’s time to worry about your own traveling temperature.  Though it was once considered a major luxury, most cars today are equipped with air conditioning. Now is a good time to ensure that yours is working correctly, before the temperatures reach uncomfortable levels.

Keeping Yourself Cool

Inspecting the air conditioning unit in your car does require some basic knowledge.  However, if you have this general understanding, then you should inspect the drive belt, which keeps the compressor running.  If the belt is damaged or torn, it should be replaced.  Also, take a look at the fan blades to ensure that they are free of debris.

That being said, it is important to note that most people are not equipped to properly inspect or repair their vehicle air conditioning.  For that reason, it is wise to consult a mechanic or car care expert.

Especially if your air conditioner is not functioning properly, it is wise to consult a mechanic.  There are many reasons that A/C might fail.  However, before you call, take a closer look at the problem, so you can give an educated assessment of what happens when the A/C is turned on.

Is Air Blowing When A/C Is On?

If air is not blowing when the air conditioning and fans are turned on, then there is a definite problem.  The issue is likely with the A/C blower fan, which will likely have to be replaced or repaired before the system can operate properly.

Air Is Blowing, But It’s Not Cold

In order for air conditioning systems to work correctly, they must be loaded with a gas known as Freon. Compressed Freon is pushed through the system under pressure; as the gas expands and contracts, cooling occurs.  When a Freon leak occurs, the system is compromised and must be “recharged” to renew the levels of the gas.  At the same time, the repair shop can fix the leak that led to the problem.  Low Freon is generally to blame for air that isn’t cold.

Does The A/C Function Better When Traveling At Faster Speeds?

If you notice that your air conditioner is working, but not working as well as it once did, or works only when the car is in motion, call the mechanic.  Once again, it is likely Freon levels to blame.  At highway speeds, there is more air crossing over the system and the Freon is pumped faster and harder through the system.  An air conditioning system that is low on Freon can still feel cool at these high speeds because of the increased air flow through the engine block and over the condenser.

Though a bad A/C system isn’t likely to result in a Tampa auto accident, there is good reason to get it fixed before summer moves in.  Uncomfortable temperatures make driving a chore and driving with the windows down can be distracting and impede one’s ability to hear potential signs of trouble.  As well, if you are comfortable while driving, there’s less chance you will become an irritable driver.

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Preparing Your Car for Summer: Cooling System

mosaic-sun-1327692-mDespite the fact that cold weather is still plaguing a large portion of the country, summer truly is just around the corner.  For millions that means the perfect time to make some necessary repairs to their vehicles.  Even for those enjoying a smooth, easy ride each day, there is good reason to inspect several car components before the thermometer begins its drastic uphill climb.

Checking the Cooling System

For obvious reasons, a vehicle’s cooling system is put under greater strain during the warmest months of the year.  With all the work that the engine is doing to keep your car moving, and with temperatures hitting 90 degrees and above, it is understandable that this system would be put under a lot of strain.

The goal of the cooling system is to keep the engine temperature at or below 200 degrees Fahrenheit (F).  If that is exceeded, the engine can overheat, leading to serious complications.

It is possible to predict cooling system failure.  Often, leaks in the radiator or connecting hoses spring prior to an event that might lead to a highway emergency.  Even if puddles are not apparent on the ground, checking fluid levels can point to the problem.  Beware that adding coolant or antifreeze to the system is, typically, only a temporary fix.  It is wise to have the system inspected by a professional, so leaks, tears, or breaks can be detected and fixed.

What To Do If Your Car Is Overheating

If your car begins to overheat while you are driving, it is essential that you know what to do.  First, you will likely notice that the temperature gauge shoots up toward hot or that the temperature sensor begins to sound an alarm and a light illuminates on your dash.  When this happens, turn on the heat and crank the fans in your car.  This will blow some of that heat off the engine until you can get to a safe place.  Do not drive very far, just far enough to get out of harm’s way, avoiding an unnecessary Tampa auto accident.  Then pull over, turn off the car, and give it some time to cool.  If you can easily get to a mechanic, without driving your engine at excessive temperatures, do so.  Otherwise, call for a tow truck.  Your vehicle is going to need some professional repair.

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Is Social Media Becoming Overly Influential In The Courtroom?

balance-875413-mIn the past two posts, I have mentioned a bit about how social media is influencing the lives and court cases of people today, but what about in lawsuits of the future?  How is the use of social media by jurors, plaintiffs and defendants during a case having an impact on the judicial system?

The Ongoing Controversy. Not long ago, headlines were discussing the morality of employers asking for social media login details from potential hires.  The issue, of course, is that some people set accounts or certain details to “private” so that they cannot be shared with unwelcomed eyes.  Yet, employers countered that having a look at that information can give a rather clear picture of how reliable a person is.  Is it moral?  It’s a question that many are still debating, but taking precedence over the employer-employee dilemma is the issue of private social media content in the courtroom.

It is possible that personal injury attorneys could ask for a defendant’s social media account info for the purpose of catching a guilty party in a lie or coming across character-destroying evidence.

What About the Jurors? It has long been known that jurors are not supposed to communicate with the public about the facts of a case, yet social media makes the public instantly reachable at any given moment.  When jurors get bored or are unhappy with their roles, they are more likely to let their attention veer to the online arena.  A juror sharing or seeking case information online can be grounds for a mistrial, meaning that a win in the Tampa auto accident case, for example, can be overturned and the entire legal process must be pursued all over again.

Though social media and use of cell phones is forbidden in most courtrooms, there have been jurors who have been involved in the banned practices before.  Not long ago, a juror was released during a case after it was discovered that he was posting to Twitter and Facebook from the jurors’ stand.

It is important to note that, regardless of your part in a lawsuit, boredom and frustration must be controlled and one should never turn to public arenas for an outlet when your responsibility lies elsewhere.



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How Can Bad Social Media Behavior Impact You?

friends-1338872-mIn a recent post, I wrote about the impact of social media on lawsuit outcomes.  The results can be highly devastating for those who have invested time and money in a case that might have otherwise turned out differently, which is exactly why it is very important to be careful about one post’s in the public arena.  However, the outcome of a Tampa auto accident case is hardly the only thing that can be affected by what you write online.

How Much Do You Want That Raise and Promotion?  If you are applying for a new job, asking for a raise, or vying for a promotion, then you may want to take a closer look at what you have posted online.  Not long ago, a survey was published, which suggested that more than 90 percent of employers search out Facebook, Twitter, and other such accounts when trying to judge the reliability and overall character of potential hires and those seeking a promotion.

Are You Broadcasting Your Schedule or Vacation? While losing a case in the courtroom with a personal injury attorney can be devastating, it would likely be a small issue compared to the invasion and destruction of your own home.  Posting the dates, times, and locations of your upcoming trips, business meetings, and/or vacations is like announcing an invitation to burglars.

Do You Really Want Competitors or Clients Interacting With You Online? Though some professionals do well to be social in the online environment, there are other careers that can make it difficult to be so social.  Remember, while participating in such a public forum, it is possible for others to write nasty remarks, to post unwanted photos, or otherwise create reputation-destroying materials about you.  Regardless of how untrue or “out of context” these statements might be, they can be very persuasive to those who don’t know you.

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