Maintaining Your Windshield

Driving around during heavy rainfall can be stressful and dangerous. It doesn’t matter how good of a driver you are, you will have a tougher time getting around when the surfaces are slick and your vision is impaired from the rain. To ensure that you’re as safe as possible when driving during the rain you need to have good visibility. There are some steps you can take to give you the best possible visibility when driving during the rain, and today we will cover these. 

Before we go into what you should do to rainproof your windshield, you must understand the importance of having good windshield wipers. Having new, high quality windshield wipers is one of the most important steps to ensuring your safety. If you have old windshield wipers you should consider getting new ones and changing them out. We previously discussed the process of changing your windshield wipers, which you can read here.

Now, onto the importance of your windshield. Your windshield is your defense against the outside elements, and is your primary view outside of your vehicle. Your windshield serves more than just being a big window, though. It also supports the frame of your car, providing additional structural integrity, and can save your life in a car crash. It’s important to give your windshield proper maintenance during seasons that have heavy rain, such as winter and spring. 

Check your windshield for cracks. Cracks can happen very easily and can occur for a variety of reasons. The temperature outside can also increase the size of the crack, and it can increase it quicker than you might think. Do a check to see if there’s any small cracks that would be hard to notice, that way you can catch the problem before it gets out of hand. If there’s a large crack you should consider getting it fixed, or getting a new windshield.

One of the best methods to rainproofing your windshield is to apply a waterproofing barrier. You can find these waterproofing products in automotive stores, and they allow your windshield wipers to be more efficient and help get the rain off your windshield faster. Make sure you follow the application instructions thoroughly. We recommend cleaning your windshield with an ammonia-based cleaner before application.

The last thing we recommend to ensure your safety while driving in the rain is to manage your washer fluid levels. Washer fluid sprays onto your windshield and will help clean off any dirt, insects, or debris. You don’t have to check the washer fluid very frequently, but you should check every few months, especially if you use it often. Washer fluid can also help keep your windshield wipers lubricated, which is important to maximize their efficiency. 

Hopefully these tips help keep you safe during your rainy drives. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 785-789-4347. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff here at Briggs Supercenter would love to assist you.

Basic Safety Tips for Winter Driving

Winter Driving Basics

The deeper we get into the winter months the worse the weather gets, and the more dangerous it becomes to drive. Today we’ll be going over tips for winter driving, and hopefully you can apply them when you find yourself on the roads during the cold Kansas winter. 

Our first tip: try and avoid driving when you can. Now obviously you’ll likely still have to drive every day, but the less time you’re on the road the less of a chance you’ll get in an accident. If you’re not going to do something that is necessary, maybe just stay home, especially if the roads are icy or if it’s snowing hard. 

Now, for the tips that you can use when you have to drive. Make sure you give people in front of you plenty of room. Brake times can increase if the roads are slick. Next tip: manage your expectation of how long it will take to get places. When driving during the winter you need to drive slower than you normally would. It’s likely that most everyone else on the road will be driving slower than normal, there will probably be more accidents due to the bad weather, which will create more traffic, and the pace of getting around town will inevitably be slower. It’s best to give yourself a couple extra minutes to get anywhere, that way you don’t feel rushed and you aren’t inclined to speed, putting yourself, and others, in a dangerous situation. 

We recommend you drive with your lights on, even if it’s during the day. Usually, during the winter visibility is impaired, whether it’s rain, snow, sleet, or it’s just a dark gray day. Driving with your lights on gives you a much higher chance of people seeing you, which in turn gives you less of a chance of getting in an accident. Next, use a lower gear that way you have better traction. Now this tip mainly applies to those of you driving a manual transmission vehicle, as an automatic should do this for you. When you drive in a lower gear your vehicle is less likely to accelerate quickly if it begins to slide on an icy road. Going along with this, never use cruise control when the road is slick. 

These were some basics that we all often don’t see applied, or we simply don’t think about after months of driving in perfect conditions. Mentally prepare yourself for the upcoming sleet, slush and snow, and take it easy out there.

Replacing Your Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers are one of the easiest and fastest parts to replace that you can do at home on your vehicle. It’s incredibly important to have properly functioning windshield wipers, especially in Kansas’ ever-changing weather systems. Today we’ll go over how to know which windshield wipers your vehicle needs, and a step by step guide to replacing them.

There’s a wide variety of different types of blades and different sizes. So how do you know which ones are right for your vehicle? Your owners manual will tell you this, and if you don’t have access to your owners manual you can look online, or ask an employee at your local auto parts store. If you drive a common make and model of a car you’ll likely be able to find the size you need very easily, and if you drive something a little more unique you may have to get the wipers specially ordered.

Replacing windshield wipers is pretty straightforward, and for most cars you don’t need any tools to do it. Usually they’ll hold themselves in place under spring tension, allowing you room to easily switch out the blades. On some vehicles, you may have to lift the hood to gain access to the arms. It all depends on the make and model of your car. Your owners manual will show you the exact process to replacing your windshield wipers.

Step 1: Protect The Windshield

When replacing your windshield wipers you’ll have to prop the wiper up, and if you accidentally bump the vehicle it’s possible the wiper will slam down on your windshield. Windshield wipers are made of metal, so this could possibly crack your windshield, which is an expensive fix. We recommend either laying down a towel or blanket on the windshield, which will protect it from possible cracks or scratches.

Step 2: Replace The Old Set

Take the old wipers and lay them next to your replacement set. Confirm that the new wipers are the same size as the old set, and proceed to attach them by doing the opposite of what you did to take the old wipers off. Gently lay the wipers down, and get in the car and turn them on to verify they work properly. And you’re done! This should only take you 10 minutes, and can make a huge difference when driving in the rain.

Spark Plug Issues?

Spark plugs are a small but very important piece to making your car run. The role of the spark plug is fairly simple. It creates a spark to ignite the air and fuel in your vehicle’s engine cylinders to create combustion that engages the engine. Without a functioning spark plug your vehicle won’t work. 

Spark plugs need to be replaced every so often, and there’s some specific signs that your spark plugs are getting worn out. The general recommendation is to replace your spark plugs about every 30,000 to 90,000 miles. As you can see, this is a wide window of opportunity for your spark plugs to wear out, so be sure to check your owner’s manual for recommendations. Regardless, there are many factors that go into a spark plug lasting longer or not so long, such as the vehicle you drive, the quality of the spark plug, and how often you drive.

It may be gradual at first, but once spark plugs have reached their life expectancy and are worn it will be easy to identify when it’s time for a replacement. You’ll experience your vehicle having a rough idle, trouble starting your vehicle,higher than normal fuel consumption, and misfires. If you experience any of these you should take your car in and see the state of your spark plugs, especially if you experience any of these problems in tandem with each other. If you neglect getting your spark plugs replaced you could cause serious damage to your engine. 

Replacing your spark plugs can be done at home, however it could be difficult as there may be obstructions such as large components or parts that will possibly be hard or even impossible to remove without special tools to loosen them. Again, consult your owner’s manual to see if it mentions anything about the process of replacing your spark plugs.

If you suspect that you may need some new spark plugs you can bring your vehicle into any Briggs location and we can check it out for you and replace them if needed.

How to Make the Most of Your Test Drive

Going through the test drive process can be stressful, especially if you’re not sure how to do it effectively. There are some steps that you can take to help you figure out if the vehicle is really the right option for you. Let’s break down what you should do when taking your possible future vehicle out for a test drive. 

First, you must understand the importance of a test drive. The goal of a test drive is to determine if the vehicle is a good fit for you. Purchasing a vehicle should not be taken lightly, as you are getting prepared to spend thousands of dollars and potentially own said vehicle for years of your life. Don’t let your emotions take over when trying out a vehicle, it’s easy to fall in love with the vehicle because it’s new and pretty, but you need to weigh out the pros and cons and figure out if the vehicle is really for you. 

Next, make sure to do some research before you show up to the dealership. It really helps to know what you want before you get there, that way you can narrow down your options. Doing research will also help you from being swayed one way or another, as you have a more firm idea of what you really want. Don’t mix up what reviews say about the vehicle with what you want from a vehicle as well. Personal needs and desires from a vehicle can vary widely from person to person, so someone’s opinion on a vehicle could be poor, meanwhile the vehicle might actually be a great option for you. 

Yes, it’s essential to form your own opinion about the subject of the car you want to purchase (such as seat comfort or handling characteristics), but researching car reviews is still an essential part of car shopping. Experts can offer insight into many things that can’t be experienced in a test drive. Don’t completely dismiss the idea. You should also drive the vehicle like you already own it (you know, within the boundaries of the law). You want to treat this test drive like you’re going on your every day commute. If the daily/weekly routine has stretches on the interstate, cramped parking lots, or navigating narrow city streets, make sure that your test drive has similar situations. Don’t be afraid to ask to take the vehicle home either, that way you can make sure it works with your parking situation.

Finally, make sure you don’t overlook the comfort of the vehicle you’re test driving. Make sure the vehicle you’re thinking of getting has all the amenities you desire. We recommend putting a short list of amenities and technological features that are important to you together, that way you have a concrete idea of what you want. Bring someone else with you to the test drive as well, such as your partner, child, or friend, that way you can get a second opinion. It’s easy to get excited and fall in love with a car quickly, but there could be something about the car you discover you’re not too fond of later down the line. Bringing someone else along with you can help give you a different point of view.

Remember, keep a level head while deciding what vehicle to purchase, and make sure you get the vehicle you really want!

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

The Importance of Waxing Your Vehicle

It’s important to take care of your vehicle, whether it’s getting regular maintenance, regularly changing out different fluids, and even keeping it clean. Something that you may not be doing, or even realize that you should do, is waxing your vehicle. Today we will be going over the importance of waxing your car and why you should consider doing it.

Regularly waxing a car is essential because it helps preserve the clear coat over a vehicle’s paint. That clear coat is the layer that protects the paint from corrosive elements, including snow, rain, street salt, ultraviolet rays, bird droppings, and tree sap, among other contaminants. The clear coat is also what gives a vehicle its shine. When the clear coat wears away the paint becomes far more susceptible to fading, discoloration, and worst of all, rust. If you want to preserve the paint on your vehicle you need to wax. Waxing regularly is also important to maintain the resale value. No one wants to purchase a vehicle with chipped and dull paint.

Before you do anything in regards to waxing your vehicle you need to make sure that the vehicle is clean. Waxing over dirt can cause the wax application process to grind dirt and other particles into the paintwork, which as you can imagine is not good. Wash your vehicle with soap and water first, then after it dries use a clay bar to remove any lingering dirt or grime. A clay bar is either a natural or synthetic engineered resin compound designed to remove or ‘lift’ contamination from your vehicle’s surface to provide a contamination free, smooth surface to apply protection to.

You may be wondering; how often should you wax? There isn’t just one clear cut answer, it can vary from person to person. For people that live in the Kansas area where we experience all different types of weather, it may be more necessary to wax every three to four months with the change of season. If you live in a more harsh environment you might want to wax more frequently. If your vehicle spends most of its time in a climate controlled area, such as a garage, waxing frequency could be less, such as only twice a year. You can perform a simple test to see if your wax is in need of replacement. Put some water on your vehicle and observe how the water beads. Due to surface tension, wax will cause water to bead up and roll away. If the water doesn’t bead, it’s time for a new layer of wax.

We also have to go over the different types of wax. The type of wax you use is important, as it is a determining factor to how often you need to reapply a new coat as well, due to the different formulations for each type of wax. Let’s look at the different types of wax:

  • Paste Wax – The most widely used wax, this formula creates a protective layer over a vehicle’s clear coat. Due to its thick consistency, paste wax takes longer to apply, but it also lasts longer on a car’s surface than other options. 
  • Liquid Wax – Composed of a blend of natural wax and synthetic polymers to offer a good defense against UV rays. This wax will give the vehicle a good shine, but the coating is thin and may not last very long. You may have to reapply as often as eight weeks.
  • Carnauba Wax – This natural substance is known for giving the paint a great shine. However, it does not last very long and requires reapplication more often than other waxes on this list. Carnauba wax is found in combination with other forms of wax, such as the paste and liquid wax we mentioned above.
  • Liquid Polymer – This product is made from man-made chemicals but has the same properties as wax. It is often considered a synthetic wax. Although it is easier to apply and offers a similar protection level as wax, a polymer does not result in the same level of paint shine. 

We would recommend that you look for waxes with carnauba in them, as they will be higher quality and give your vehicle the shine you’re really looking for. 

How to Replace Headlights at Home

Have a headlight burned out? It’s best to fix it sooner than later, especially before drawing the attention of the local law enforcement, or much worse: having the other light go and trying to navigate a dark road at night. Let’s get a replacement in there, and keep you safe, pronto!

The first step is to check your owners manual to see what type of bulb your vehicle needs. If you don’t have this for some reason, you can go to your local parts store and tell them your vehicle’s make, model, and year, and they’ll be able to tell you which type of bulb you need. Now that you have the right bulb, you’re ready to replace the old light. In most cars you can gain access to the bulb by opening the hood and removing the lamp connections at the back of the headlight housing. If this isn’t possible in your vehicle you may have to remove splash shields, air-cleaner housings, and even washer-fluid bottles for full access before you can change a headlight. 

Now, for the step by step instructions;

Step 1: Turn Off Your Vehicle and Pop the Hood

To ensure the process of switching out your headlights is as safe as possible, shut down your vehicle’s engine. Next, you’ll want to pop the hood and locate your vehicle’s headlight compartment.

Step 2: Disconnect Headlight Bulb Power Wires

There’s typically three wires attached to the base of the lightbulb. Push down the clip or cap holding them in place.

Step 3: Take Out the Old Headlight

In most vehicles you can just remove the lamp connections at the back of the headlight housing. Be careful when removing the headlight, as there will likely be clips that are fragile. Do not touch the glass part of the bulb either, the oils on our hands can reduce the lifespan of the bulb or even cause the bulb to burst if it gets too hot.

Step 4: Screw in the New Headlight Bulb

Again, don’t touch the bulb with your bare hands. Gently screw in the bulb, then close the hood of your car. Verify that the new headlight works by turning your lights on. 

You can save a good amount of money and time by changing your light bulb on your own. Hopefully these tips help you through the process, good luck!

Tips for Driving in the Rain

Driving in the rain is a common occurrence, and if you don’t know proper techniques it can be dangerous. You could skid out, hydroplane, or get in an accident due to the roads being slick. Today we’re going to give you some tips and techniques for safer driving when it’s raining.

First, don’t drive if you don’t have to. During heavy rain conditions you shouldn’t go for a drive unless it’s necessary. Wait for the storm to pass before leaving to go run errands. The next most important tip is to slow down! Hydroplaning most often occurs when vehicles are driving too fast, so slowing down would be a wise decision.To go along with the higher risk of hydroplaning, it can be dangerous to go fast while raining because the rain will bring out the oils on the road, causing the road to be more slick. Also, never use cruise control while it’s raining. Cruise control can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. You may need to reduce speed by easing off the accelerator to prevent traction loss, but this is not possible when using cruise control. 

Visibility can be diminished when it’s raining, so you should make sure your windshield wipers are working properly. Your windshield can fog as well due to the rain, so turn on your front and rear defrosters to combat that. We also advise turning on your headlights. Turning on your headlights will do two things, increase your visibility, increase other vehicles visibility of you, helping you to avoid a collision. 

It’s important to give other vehicles extra room when driving during rain, as both you and other vehicles need extra space to brake. Vehicles can’t stop as quickly when roads are slick. Going along with this, you should avoid hard braking. Take your foot off the accelerator to slow down instead, as braking could cause you to skid. 

If your car begins to skid, don’t panic. Continue to steer in the direction you want to go and avoid slamming on your brakes, as it makes it harder to control your vehicle and can make the situation worse. If your car starts to hydroplane, gently ease your foot off the gas and avoid steering. Just slow down and hold on until your vehicle regains contact with the road. Hopefully these tips help keep you safe and prepared when driving during the rain. Stay safe out there!

What to do After an Auto Accident

Unfortunately, if you drive long enough, it’s likely that at some point in your life you’ll be involved in a car accident. Though scary and stressful, it’s imperative that you know what to do afterward, and you may be surprised how often people are unsure what to do. Let’s go over the steps you should take directly after being involved in a motor accident for your own safety and that of others.

First, you need to stop your vehicle after the accident occurs, regardless of the severity of the accident. Even if it was an extremely minor accident you have to stop, it is your legal obligation. You’ll find yourself in a worse situation if you try to drive away from the accident, so do not move your vehicle unless it is blocking traffic. Put on your hazards and wait for authorities to arrive.

Second, assist any persons who may be injured or appear to require assistance. If needed, call an ambulance. Do not try and move anyone, this can cause further injury. Seek medical attention for yourself if you have any injuries. Injuries such as whiplash or a concussion may not immediately show symptoms.

If there are any witnesses you should speak to them and gather as much information as possible. This is useful when it comes to an insurance claim or settlement. Do not admit or deny fault for the accident. This information could be used against you. Only discuss this with the police or your lawyer. Make notes of where the accident occured, what time the accident occured, and take a picture of the accident. Take a lot of pictures from multiple different angles, you can’t have too many pictures. You also need to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.

Motor vehicle accidents can be life-altering. You don’t want to put yourself in a worse situation due to panic or ignorance, so make sure you follow these tips to stay safe.

How to Jumpstart Your Car

Today we’re going to go over the right way to jump start your car. 

Step 1: You need a pair of jumper cables. You can’t always rely on someone else to have them. They’re fairly inexpensive and are a necessary item to keep in your vehicle.

Step 2: Have a bystander, friend, or family member park their car close to your vehicle so the cables can comfortably reach both vehicle’s battery terminals. Make sure both vehicles are off and that their parking brakes are engaged. Next, open the hoods of both cars and locate the battery in each. Identify the positive and negative terminals on both batteries (Positive is red and negative is black). Make sure all the terminals are free of corrosion. If they are, you’re ready to continue.

Step 3: Connect the red clamp to the positive terminal on the dead battery. Next, uncoil the battery cable and hook up the other red clamp to the positive terminal on the vehicle supplying the battery power. While facing towards the good battery, connect the black end of the cable to the negative terminal. You’ll then go back to the dead vehicle and connect the last black clamp to a flat, unpainted metal surface on the car’s frame.

Step 4: Now that all the cables are properly connected you can start the engine on the live vehicle and let it run for a couple minutes. This passes a charge from the live battery to the currently dead battery. You can now try and start the dead car. If it starts up, carefully remove the cables in the reverse order you put them on. Don’t let the ends touch until all pieces have been removed. Let the car that was revived run for 10 to 15 minutes. This allows the battery to recharge. 

If the car doesn’t start, then most likely your battery simply can no longer hold a charge and it’s time to get a new one. Hopefully, this guide helps you safely get yourself, or someone you’re assisting, back on the road.