How to Deal with Foggy Windows

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No matter what the climate is like where you live, keeping the temperature comfortable inside your car often means battling foggy windows. If you live in a climate with cold winters, staying warm in your chilly car means turning on the heater — and battling the resultant fog on the inside of your windows. In warm, humid areas, turning on the AC can cause the opposite issue — fog blurring your windows from the outside.

The reason for foggy windows has to do with temperature and the air’s moisture content. On a cold day, any moisture in the air inside your car — from passengers exhaling, from snow on your boots, etc. — turns to condensation when it hits air next to the windows that’s below a certain temperature, called the dew point. The condensation is what makes your car’s windows appear foggy. On a hot, humid day, the opposite happens, when the muggy air outside your car reaches the dew point against your windshield after it’s cooled by your AC system.

Whether the fog is on the inside or the outside of your windows, any time you can’t see clearly in all directions, it’s dangerous. So, it’s important to know how to make sure your windows are clear — no matter the weather.

When It’s Colder Outside Than Inside Your Car…

When you’re dealing with cold weather outside and you turn on the heater inside your car, the fog typically will start to form on the inside of your car windows. Here are some options to clear those windows up:

  • For a quick fix: Lower the temperature inside your car rapidly by turning on the defrost vent with cool air or cracking a window; don’t turn on the heat. This will make the inside of your car cooler and help reduce the fog. Also, turn on your car’s rear-window defogger to help clear up the back window. Though this is a fast and effective method, it could leave you shivering.
  • For a more comfortable solution: Lifehacker advises those who want to be snug and warm whileCar-Recirculation-Thinkstock driving to turn on the defroster and blow warm air across the windshield to evaporate the accumulating moisture. If your vehicle’s ventilation system has a recirculate feature, turn it off. When this feature is on, your car’s heat or AC reuses the air inside the car, instead of continually pulling in air from outside.  If you’re trying to defog the windows in cold weather, you want your car to continually take in the dry air. (Not sure if your car has recirculation? Look for a button on the dashboard that has an arrow going in a circle or a semi-circle. Sometimes, it will feature an icon of a car with this type of arrow inside it.)
  • Plan ahead: Keep your car glass as clean as possible — on the inside and the outside. That way, when your glass fogs up, you know the problem isn’t just a dirty windshield. You may also want to think about using a product that you can spray or wipe onto the inside of your windows in order to help prevent fog from forming.

When It’s Warmer Outside than In Your Car…

When the temperature and moisture level outside are greater than inside the car, moisture will condense on the exterior of the car glass. In this situation, the trick is to increase the temperature on the inside of the car to accumulate less moisture on the outside. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • For a quick fix: Use your windshield wipers. This will help get rid of the condensation until you’ve balanced out the temperature.
  • Warm up your car: Turn down the AC to the lowest (least-cool) setting to increase the temperature without it becoming too uncomfortable. If this doesn’t work, turn the AC off completely.
  • Leave recirculation off: As stated above, it’s a good idea to turn off your car’s recirculation feature to battle foggy windows, so the temperature and moisture levels in your car begin to equalize with those outside.

Trying to see through fogged-up windows is a driving hazard, but with these tips, you can help increase your driving safety—no matter what the weather.

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Gas Tanks: Why Aren’t All Fuel Doors on the Same Side?

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Quick: On which side is your vehicle’s fuel door?

Must you look at the little diamond-shaped arrow on the fuel gauge EVERY time you fill up to know whichFuel-Gauge-Arrow-iStock side holds the fuel filler? Have you ever pulled to the fuel island to discover you’re on the wrong side? Did you utter bad words before or after you said, “Why don’t they put fuel doors on the same side of every car?!?”

The answer to that question is complicated, if not convoluted.

Based on my research into the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, I came to the conclusion (a conclusion later supported by my contacts at both the Ford Motor Company and Nissan North America) that no U.S. government regulation concerns which side on which the fuel door must be positioned. Much to the chagrin of many motorists, the fuel door can be on either side.

With no legal or marketing motivation, and scant ownership enjoyment implications, car-company engineers are free to place fuel doors on whichever side offers the easiest packaging, according to Ford spokesman Mark Schirmer. He added that there’s not enough room — and no demand — for dual fuel doors.

Preference

Americans prefer left-mounted fuel doors, said Schirmer, referencing a Ford study. A driver’s-side fuel door makes it easier for drivers to place the car’s left fender close to fuel pump. Still, fuel door location is typically not part of the buying decision, added Schirmer.

Those in Japan, India, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and countries in southern Africa drive on the left side of the road and sit on the right side of the car, and it appears they prefer right-mounted fuel doors, given the tendencies of cra manufacturers. For at least 25 years, the conventional wisdom among auto writers has been that Europeans like right-side doors. However, when I posed this to my industry co-horts, no car company would speculate if or why that might be true.

Nissan, like most automakers, produces some vehicles with left fuel doors and some with right doors.

Reasons

“The placement of the fuel door is mainly a factor of fuel tank design, location and underbody packaging,” Nissan’s Steve Yaeger wrote in an email. “With all of the structure and components located underneath the vehicle, (engineers) would quickly encounter restrictions in trying to route the filler tube to the same side on every vehicle.”

If mechanisms such as a “big, honkin’ speaker” must be placed on the left side, engineers put the fuel door on the right, notes Schirmer.

The bottom line: Fuel door position is not a random choice, but if engineers have a good reason to place fuel doors on the right, that’s where they go.

If you can’t remember the location of your fuel door, don’t be ashamed to look at the little diamond-arrow on your fuel gauge … BEFORE you pull up to the pump.

Seeing is Believing When it Comes to Road Safety

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It’s no secret that properly functioning vehicle lights, wipers and mirrors allow for better visibility while driving, yet these items are often forgotten or ignored when performing basic auto care.

Making sure that you can see and be seen on the road is essential to avoiding motor vehicle accidents, yet many motorists overlook simple maintenance steps that can improve driving visibility. For example, community car care events held throughout the country reveal that nearly one in three vehicles inspected had insufficient wiper fluid. This simple auto care service can make a world of difference on the road.

Following a few auto care visibility tips can be illuminating, helping to ensure the safety of you, your passengers and other vehicles around you.

  • Replace any exterior or interior lights that are dimming, rapidly blinking or non-functioning, and be sure headlights are correctly aimed.
  • Make sure that vehicle mirrors are clean and properly positioned.
  • Check windshield washer fluid level and when it gets low, replace it.
  • Replace wiper blades if they show cracking or if they chatter or streak when operating. Don’t forget to check the rear wiper blade.
  • When in doubt, turn your lights on to help you see and help other drivers see you. Some states have laws that require headlights to be on when windshield wipers are operating.
  • Don’t overdrive your headlights. Maintain a speed that will allow you to stop within the illuminated area, otherwise you create a blind crash zone in front of your vehicle.

Basic Auto Care Many Drivers Miss

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Fluids and lubricants rank among the most neglected items when it comes to basic auto care.

Community car care events held throughout the country found that the top-three fluids most likely to be low or contaminated are windshield washer fluid in 26 percent of inspected vehicles, followed by engine oil at 23 percent and coolant at 19 percent.

Windshield washer fluid keeps dirt and debris from collecting on a vehicle’s windshield, allowing the driver full visibility and making it an essential safety item. Windshield washer fluid should be checked monthly and drivers should use a fluid that is specially formulated for their climate. Continue reading

A Little Auto Care Goes A Long Way

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Basic auto care goes a long way toward improving the safety and dependability of a vehicle. Whether you do it yourself or visit a trusted professional technician, here are 10 Fall Car Care Month maintenance procedures to help make sure your car is operating at its best before winter arrives.

Fall Car Care Month in October is the ideal time to give your car some extra attention before harsh winter weather sets in. Taking a little time for auto care now can help you avoid the headaches of a costly emergency breakdown later.

  1. Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  2. Check the hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
  3. Check the battery and replace if necessary. Make sure the connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
  4. Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
  5. Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.
  6. Check the engine to make sure it is delivering the best balance of power and fuel economy and producing the lowest level of emissions.
  7. Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and safety reasons, such as defrosting.
  8. Inspect the steering and suspension systemannually, including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.
  9. Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  10. Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.