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 Post subject: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:37 am 
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We've seen this come up a few times over the years. I figured I’d write a guide to driving and surviving in snowy conditions. For those of us who live in snowy climates, this should all be pretty routine, but it may be helpful to someone unfamiliar with handling snowy conditions. I speak from my experience in the Car business at the dealership level in both Sales and Management, and also from my experience as a Canuck (Snowback)

This guide will come in 4 parts.

Preparing for Winter
Winter Emergency Kits
Driving in Snow/Ice
Unexpected Problems


Part 1: Preparing for Winter or: What the hell is all this white stuff?

Up here in the northern climes, each year starting anywhere from early October to the middle of November, it starts to get cold. Often really cold. We get snow, slush, ice, rain, freezing temperatures, blizzards and occasionally The Wendigo. The first 6 are easy to deal with because we expect them, and know they are coming. This gives us the option of preparing for them in advance. When it comes to your vehicle, there are a few things you should do. These should be done normally, but are doubly important in winter.

Winterize your vehicle

Basics

-Tires: Make sure they are inflated to the correct pressure. Inspect them to make sure they have enough tread. Make sure they are not damaged. This is also a good place to discuss winter tires. I get asked all the time if winter tires are worth it. The answer is totally, unequivocally YES. They make a HUGE difference. Gigantic. Not only do they give you the traction you require to get moving, but they help you stop as well. There's even a handy illustrated picture from the government of Ontario that shows it. They really do make a difference, and are well, WELL worth it.

Image

-Fuel: Keep your gas tank full. Yes I know this is a pain in the butt. Do it anyway. Top it off every 2 days or as soon as it hits 3/4 of a tank (Half tank at the BARE minimum) Having a full tanks helps you avoid fuel line freeze and you never know if you will be stranded by a storm. If you are you will be happy you had the gas to stay warm for the extra hours. You also never know when there is going to be an outbreak of Zombies, and you might need to skip town. If you do you'll be happy you had a full tank of gas.

-Belts and hoses: Inspect them or have them inspected. They're more likely to fail in the cold.

-Oil change/coolant: They make oil that is suitable for operating at lower temperatures. Same goes for your antifreeze. Purchase the correct product for your area, and use it. You will avoid damaging your vehicle and the small extra cost now is far better than thousands of dollars in repairs later.

-Wipers: 1) Make sure you have good, working Windshield Wipers. 2) Make sure you have good, working, windshield wipers. Yes I know I repeated myself. It bears repeating. Many lives have been lost because some poor fool didn't want to spend $12 on a new pair of wipers. When driving in winter conditions, slush spray is a problem. You're on the highway and a truck passes you, it's going to throw slush onto your windshield. If you follow too close to another car, you'll get slushed. You can hit a big puddle and slush yourself. The only answer to this is good windshield wipers, and LOTS of wiper fluid. The value of being able to actually see out your windshield is immense. If you do not believe me, try hitting a pole or two and then get back to me.

I prefer flat blade wipers because the ice and snow won't build up on them the same way it does on conventional ones. That said, normal ones work well too when you clean the snow off them. So long as they work well (By fully cleaning the window in conjunction with washer fluid) then you're set. Be aware that if you do not fully clean the windshield off with a scraper before using the wipers, the chunks of clinging ice will shred the hell out of your wipers.

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Horatio's Winter driving guide: http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... =6&t=82858
My story-blog, with 500% more violence and coarse language: http://horatio-tyllis.livejournal.com/2004/07/31/
The story of A man and His Moose: viewtopic.php?f=113&t=95992

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:37 am 
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Winter Emergency Kits or: Hey guys, check out my cool gear!

This thread has been covered fairly well in some other threads, but I will comment a little on what you should have and why.

Links:

Winter car kits: http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=45&p=1596142
Stuck in a blizzard: http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=32&p=1613791

What you need in your kit.

-Blankets. With an s. Keep several blankets in your vehicle. Extra layers will help keep you warm. One can get wet. You may have a passenger. You might need to use one to get traction. There are a million reasons to have more than one blanket.

-Flashlight. I keep 2 LED headlamps just wrapped around the head rests in my car. It's a great place to stash them and out of the way. Flashlights are useful for light and for signalling in an emergency.

-Food, Water. Do I need to explain? I keep a couple of MRE's, as well as a 1 gallon jug and a few 500ml bottles that I drink and replace regularly.

-Sand, Salt or ballast: This adds extra weight to the rear end of your vehicle for traction, as well as gives you a way to get traction if you're ever stuck on ice (By pouring it down) I've used all different types, and now have settled on a 25 pound bag of road salt. Your mileage may vary.

-Shovel: A folding snow shovel will dig you out. A folding camping shovel is useless. Trust me from experience.

-Jumper cables: Should have these anyway, but in winter batteries die more often. I've taken to carrying a battery jumper from work in my trunk in the winter. This is the one I use. http://www.wagan.com/index.php?page=sho ... Itemid=101

-Warm clothes: This should also be self explanatory. Keep extra warm clothes in your vehicle. You should be wearing some anyway, but extra clothes are good for you or your passengers. You will want clothes suitable for getting outside in the snow and working to dig out your car. Snowpants, waterproof jacket, gloves, hat. An extra pair of waterproof boots if you're not wearing some already, and extra socks are good. If you don't normally wear thermal underwear, some of those are good too.

-Ice scraper: Up here every vehicle has a plastic ice scraper/snow brush. If you have risk of snow, get one.

-Flares: A few emergency flares, or even the emergency LED beacons are good to have, just in case.

-Candles, fire. Small metal tin: A candle can give you light at night if stranded. It can provide some heat, and with a small metal tin or cup, you can melt snow (Guide to melting snow, there's more to it than you think. viewtopic.php?f=92&p=1603302) I use a standard US army mess kit in my trunk.

-Cell Phone: Always carry one. If you like, carry a deactivated one with charger that can only be used to call 911. If you are out driving around in the winter, you should have a cell phone with car charger. Period.

-Onstar: This service may only be available to GM vehicles, but it's a great thing to have. It acts as a built in emergency cell phone in your vehicle that not only lets you contact help, but will contact it automatically for you in event of an accident. I've had customers who were Firefighters and Paramedics who have seen how it works from the other end, and that's what convinced them to buy my product. It may come with a subscription fee, but I find it well worth the money.

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Horatio's Winter driving guide: http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... =6&t=82858
My story-blog, with 500% more violence and coarse language: http://horatio-tyllis.livejournal.com/2004/07/31/
The story of A man and His Moose: viewtopic.php?f=113&t=95992

I MISSED ZOMBIECON 2013 AND I HATE MYSELF FOR IT


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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:37 am 
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Driving in Snow/Ice or: Wheeeeee!!!

Driving basics

-clear the ice and snow off your windows, mirrors and lights. Don't get lazy. These areas severely affect visibility. I do however do things the slightly lazier way. I have remote start on my vehicle, so I pre-heat it before going out. That lets the ice just brush off the windshields. If you have the luxury of heated side view mirrors, awesome. I don't, so I make sure to scrape them off every time. Same goes with head and tail lights.

-Lights: On the topic of lights, turn them on. I keep my headlights on all winter. Anytime I'm driving I turn them on. Visibility helps.

-4x4: A good 4x4 with high clearance will get you moving through snow where many smaller vehicles will get stuck. 4x4 does not make you invincible. It will get you moving just fine, but it does not help you stop. Decent brakes and good winter tires help you stop. Don't drive like an idiot just because you have 4x4.

-Low gear: Putting an automatic transmission vehicle into low/first gear will give you more torque and more traction at low speeds and may help you get moving. It not as good as 4x4, but it is the next best thing.

-Ice: In winter conditions, bridges, overpasses, on ramps, and dips freeze early. Also be careful on seldom used roads. These are the places where ice will develop. You can’t' always see it.

-Speed: Accelerate slowly. Drive slower. Leave some following distance. Normally you'd want a 4 second following distance minimum. In really bad weather I'd go as high as 8. Everything will take more time in snowy conditions, plan accordingly. In summer I am a 3 minute drive from work. In winter I allow 15.

-Brakes: Brake lightly, and try to do so as well in advance as possible. Suddenly slamming on the brakes will spin you out of control. ABS is helpful in that it prevents your brakes from locking up. You will feel your brakes pulsing. This is normal. If you do not have ABS, and you feel your brakes start to lock up, let off a little. If you're panic braking, you can try pumping non anti lock brakes. In that case, good luck.

-Skids: If you begin skidding on ice or snow, you have to do the counterintuitive thing and steer INTO the skid to regain control. If you start going left and try to steer right, you will continue left. If you've never done this before I suggest you try. Next snowfall, go find a big empty parking lot. Be cautious and stay safe, but test out some skidding in snow. The best way to learn is to try. I said be careful, I am NOT responsible if you hurt yourself or cause damage.

-Plows: None shall pass! When it comes to snow plows and salt trucks, just give them a wide berth. If you're behind them, stay well behind. If you're in front, your best bet is to get out of their way (When it comes to highways, I’d get off and then get back on after they have passed. Never, EVER try and pass a snow plow. They can’t' see you. Passing a snow plow is a good way to die on highways.

-Cruise Control: Never use cruise control in snowy conditions. Ever.

-Music: Keep your radio down to hear emergency vehicles. Get out of their way. Your dubstep My Little Pony remix may be awesome, but it's no good to you if you get in a crash.


Getting stuck in snow and ice:

This usually happens when parked, but can happen at other times.

1. Spinning your wheels: don’t' do it. Rarely will brute force get you out of snow, it will just dig you deeper. Turn your wheels side to side to force any snow away from them, then lightly give it some gas to ease your way out. If your tires don’t' spin at all, you may have electronic traction control on. You'll need to shut it off for the time being. It's a great safety feature, but useless here.

2. Digging: If this does not work, grab your handy folding snow shovel and dig out the snow in front of your tires. Try again. If this does not work you can then try some of the kitty litter, sand or road salt you have in the trunk poured in front of your tires to give you some grip. I've seen people have success with a piece of plywood too. You could try a blanket or tarp, but it will probably end up wadded under your tires and destroyed.

3. Rock and roll. (Lock and Loll?) Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your manual first — some vehicles can sustain transmission damage from shifting in this manner.) Shift from reverse, give it some gas, then shift to forward and hit it again, repeat as necessary to rock your car out of the snow. Don't do this unless you're confident in your ability to do it without screwing up your car. Again, this is a liability thing. It can work, but it can also cause big damage. Use at your own risk.

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Horatio's Winter driving guide: http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... =6&t=82858
My story-blog, with 500% more violence and coarse language: http://horatio-tyllis.livejournal.com/2004/07/31/
The story of A man and His Moose: viewtopic.php?f=113&t=95992

I MISSED ZOMBIECON 2013 AND I HATE MYSELF FOR IT


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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:37 am 
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Unexpected Problems or: Is that supposed to be on fire like that?

If something goes wrong and you get stuck: stay with your vehicle. It's very easy to wander off and get lost in a blizzard. If you are stranded and you've left your vehicle, there's a chance emergency personnel will miss you, and you won't be rescued. Your vehicle provides shelter, and if you have it set up correctly, it can be downright comfortable. Assuming someone knows where you are, just stick with it. You can run your vehicle for short periods so long as you have gas to help warm up, just make sure you dig out well aorund the tail pipe or you will gas yoruself with carbon monoxide.

Know how to change a tire, check your oil, change fluids etc. It helps to have a roadside assistance package. These are usually available both through your manufacturer and through CAA/AAA. Keep a fire extinguisher and first aid kit in your vehicle.

Prior to travelling in winter, Watch the weather report. This goes anytime you're taking a long trip or driving in isolated areas. You could be 10 minutes outside of town, if you're on an old barely used country road, no one is going to find you.
Delay trips if needed, especially when bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let someone know your planned route, destination and estimated time of arrival. Call and check in.

Stay home.

Really.

If don't really have to go out, don't. Even if you know what you're doing when it comes to driving in winter conditions, not everyone else does. Don't tempt fate: Any idiot can take you out at any time on the road. Don’t' give them that chance.

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Horatio's Winter driving guide: http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... =6&t=82858
My story-blog, with 500% more violence and coarse language: http://horatio-tyllis.livejournal.com/2004/07/31/
The story of A man and His Moose: viewtopic.php?f=113&t=95992

I MISSED ZOMBIECON 2013 AND I HATE MYSELF FOR IT


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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:25 pm 
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Thank you! I'm already looking forward to winter, and this has me all excited. :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:57 pm 
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Horatio_Tyllis - awesome right up

having lived in Maine my whole life there are a few more things id like to add to you lists.
-anti-freeze windsheild fluid, works amazing!
-if you know snow and freezing rain are comming put grocery store bags over your outside rearveiw mirrors and use elastic bands to keep them in place. its a lot easier than scraping
-if you know youll have to leave before durring or just after the storm, and possible, back you vehical into your driveway, its always been a lot easier for me to get out into the street when i can see whats coming without having to stop with the ass end of my vehical sticking into the road
- learn to downshift, even in an automatic transmission, this allows you to slow down without brakes and works great for long downhill slope where a stop sigh or intersection is ahead. (on a sidenote learn this before you need to use it, and dont try to use it to slowdown from fast speeds) (double side note, this technique saved my ass one crazy storm where 3inchs fell out of the sky in 15mins and the weatherman had know idea it was coming
-*this is personal opinion* kitty litter F*%^ing sucks! most now are made of clay and when clay gets wet is turns slippery, and when your already stuck all it will do is piss you off more. buy a bag of playground sand, or if you can find it the sand used as a base before laying drick walkways. personally i use the sand provided by the town for free, but this is maine and im not sure other states do that
-this was touched on before but if your running rear wheel drive vehical, put weigh in the back. the more the better but dont get out of hand on it, there is a point where to much IS a bad thing. i run around 200 pounds of (free) sand in the back of my truck, but the wifes boat...er..i mean car only gets 75ish.
- i have to disagree on folding camping shovels, i have one and love it, but YMMV

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:13 am 
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Great Thread! And good Idea!

The only thing I would like to add is that that speed limit sign on the side of the road is for optimal conditions. SLOW THE HELL DOWN!! Driving the speed limit on snowy roads will at the least get you a speeding ticket in some places (In my State, driving the posted speed limit on bad roads will get you cited).

And something I feel needs to be heavily emphasized again and again and again.

4x4's don't allow you to ignore the laws of physics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:16 am 
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m ellis allen wrote:
Horatio_Tyllis - awesome right up
-if you know snow and freezing rain are comming put grocery store bags over your outside rearveiw mirrors and use elastic bands to keep them in place. its a lot easier than scraping


Thank you. And that is a brilliant idea. I'd have never thought of it, but i think i will try. i hate scraping my sideview mirrors.

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Horatio's Winter driving guide: http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... =6&t=82858
My story-blog, with 500% more violence and coarse language: http://horatio-tyllis.livejournal.com/2004/07/31/
The story of A man and His Moose: viewtopic.php?f=113&t=95992

I MISSED ZOMBIECON 2013 AND I HATE MYSELF FOR IT


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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:05 am 
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Very good read, thank you.

But could you stress the "drive slow" part a bit more? As in "slow the fuck down!!". Last winter was a very interesting one and people seemed not to realize that going close to 80Kmh on an icy road with turns is not the best idea.

Really dear people, if you have to drive in winter, skip the dukes of hazard reeanactmend and rather drive like your aunt marble would.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:42 am 
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While we never used to get much snow here in the UK over winter, the last few have had decent amounts (although nothing compared to what you guys in the US and Canada get). This thread has some great tips and advice, especially for those of us in places where no one really seems to know how to deal with the snow!

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 9:44 am 
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Great write up with a lot of great information. Thank You!

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:57 pm 
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A few more things...
stopping if its really icy-try shifting into netrual and using brakes only.

snow tires--YES-if you can get them a little taller and narrower than stock is a plus.
those new trucks with the wide tires on them are Junk in snow!!!

weight--enough is when you can see the suspension compress a bit(inch or two).

4x4's--some people don't quite get it..if you don't know how to use it ..you will just go a little further before they get stuck!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:39 pm 
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Living in New England, it always seems to take 2-3 good storms before people come to their senses, driving wise. I think I see more spinouts with 4x4s than with any other type of vehicle. Ok, all 4 wheels turn. Great. Steering is harder. And, just because you have 4 wheel drive, and there is a foot of snow on the ground, doesnt mean that you can do 55 on the highway.
Take your time driving. If you lose control, you bump something, as opposed to crashing. A dented fender is driveable-a punctured radiator is not.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:42 pm 
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PS, I seem to notice the trend of idiots & 4x4s here....lol. Looks like we've ALL seen it!

At my old job, I used to go out to pick people up for work during storms (it was a call center that handled sensitive calls, and people had to be manning phones 24/7). They failed to understand (management) that, even though someone only lives 5 miles away, I still drive slow, even with 4wd. First, I cannot see in a blizzard. Second, everyone else is doing the SAME EXACT SPEED. And, slow is safe-easier to control when I skid.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:48 pm 
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Having lived through countless Winter storms while growing up, this is all good advice.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
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Thanks for posting this, Horatio. I have one thing I'd like to add:

Fill a spray bottle with super-cold-weather windshield washer fluid (the kind that's good down to -20F or -40F) and keep it inside your car. Spraying it on the windshield and windows while the car is warming up helps clear them faster. Spraying it on the wipers themselves when they start getting iced up or clogged with snow helps keep them clear. If you know an ice storm is coming, bring the bottle inside so you can use it to help open up your vehicle after the storm is over.

I really like the idea of putting grocery bags over the mirrors when a storm's coming. That's brilliant.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
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As an add on to the fire making issue, especially for those in more rural areas -

I've driven through places where, had I been stuck at night and needed to make a fire to stay warm, even with a flame thrower in the trunk I'd have been screwed. There would simply be nothing to burn. In these same places, there might've been miles in between houses and extremely little vehicular traffic, especially if we're talking a winter storm scenario.

My preventative measure was putting one of those over priced $5.00 bags of wood you see at gas stations in my trunk. On top of that, I took a couple logs I had laying around and split them into various sizes for kindling. A bundle of fat wood is also back there, as is my cheater box - lighter fluid, waterproof matches, blast match, a couple lighters, a road flare, etc.

I do indeed need to work on my fire making skills, but even if I could put Ray Mears to shame, that is not the time to be foraging for fluff. I just rolled my car, it won't start, my (hypothetical) wife and kids are cold and/or wet, and it's dark. Set up the pre cut wood, douche it in lighter fluid, and road flare that bitch, I need a fire NOW. Not to mention the fact that having pre cut and dry wood can help in less dangerous situations where it just makes starting a bonfire or something that much easier.

As for shovels, I have two. One is an e-tool. Great for breaking up ice, but crappy for actually moving large quantities of snow. My other one isn't this one, but it's the same idea. Crappy for chipping ice, but great for moving snow.

I'm also quite grateful for the plastic bags over the mirrors tip.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Tue Aug 16, 2011 6:07 pm 
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Just a note about skidding (i leaned this the hard way). When you start skidding, stop accelerating

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 Post subject: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 5:27 pm 
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Horatio_Tyllis wrote:
-Onstar: This service may only be available to GM vehicles, but it's a great thing to have. It acts as a built in emergency cell phone in your vehicle that not only lets you contact help, but will contact it automatically for you in event of an accident. I've had customers who were Firefighters and Paramedics who have seen how it works from the other end, and that's what convinced them to buy my product. It may come with a subscription fee, but I find it well worth the money.


Check out OnStar FMV. I just saw an add about it the other day.

http://www.onstar.com/web/fmv/home

It replaces your rear view mirror with an OnStar mirror.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:48 pm 
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Equuleus wrote:
Horatio_Tyllis wrote:
-Onstar: This service may only be available to GM vehicles, but it's a great thing to have. It acts as a built in emergency cell phone in your vehicle that not only lets you contact help, but will contact it automatically for you in event of an accident. I've had customers who were Firefighters and Paramedics who have seen how it works from the other end, and that's what convinced them to buy my product. It may come with a subscription fee, but I find it well worth the money.


Check out OnStar FMV. I just saw an add about it the other day.

http://www.onstar.com/web/fmv/home

It replaces your rear view mirror with an OnStar mirror.


i had no idea this existed. Thank you very much.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:00 pm 
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I love a good nasty ND winter. Here are some things that I have learned, sometimes the hard way.

Something else to think about is get a handful of lock de-icers. I leave a couple in my desk at work, one in my lunchbox (in a ziplock), a couple in the glove box, and a six pack at home.

One the topic of shovels: e-tools are worthless in snow. I do a lot of ice fishing so I keep a full sized grain shovel in my pickup. It rides in the back seat so I can get it whenever its needed. This is what I have. http://www.tractorsupply.com/union-tool ... n--4410778. Those cheesy snow pusher shovels are worthless for scooping, digging and throwing snow. Get a real shovel. I also have a second shovel in my pickup. Here is this little guy. http://clamoutdoors.com/ice_fishing/htt ... minum.html. I love the Clam alum. scoop shovel for digging under vehicles. It also rides in the cab for easy access.

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 12:12 pm 
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The mountain peaks in my area recieved their first layer of snow last night.... :oops:


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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:59 pm 
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How to drive in snow :D :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0L67qSm2E0

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 Post subject: Re: Winter driving guide
PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:27 pm 
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Free bump because driving in rain can be dangerous, too.

Also, winter is coming.


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