Archive for the ‘spring’ Tag

It’s Pothole Season: You May Be In For A Bumpy Ride

As the weather gets warmer, motorists will see more potholes on the roadways and avoiding them can be a real challenge. If you hit a pothole, the non-profit Car Care Council recommends watching for three warning signs to determine if your vehicle has been damaged.

Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car’s ride and handling.

Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear, are symptoms of an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.

Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the wheel rim will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible, as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road.

If you feel your vehicle has suffered damage from hitting a pothole, it is wise to have it inspected by a professional service technician. Potholes occur when water permeates the pavement – usually through a crack – and softens the soil beneath it, creating a depression in the surface of the street. Many potholes appear during winter and spring months because of freeze-thaw cycles. Potholes can also be prevalent in areas with excessive rainfall and flooding.

“Pothole season may last longer these days as many municipalities do not have the resources to fill potholes as fast as they should, leaving drivers to dodge them well into late spring and summer,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Because hitting a pothole can put a big dent in your wallet, making necessary repairs right away could save you from more costly ones down what could be a very bumpy road.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council’s Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2016/03/pothole-season-may-bumpy-ride/

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Springtime Auto Tips

Spring is one of the prime times for auto maintenance. That first wash-n-wax on a warm Saturday afternoon is liberating. Winter’s gloom (to say nothing of grit and road salt) is literally washed away. Take out the snow shovel, the gloves, and heavy boots and store them ’til next season. Surely summer can’t be far away.

Some preparation now will help ensure that your summer driving plans go as smoothly as you envision then now. ASE offer the following tips on getting your vehicle ready for summer.

– Read the owner’s manual and follow the recommended service schedules.

– Have hard starts, rough idling, stalling, etc. corrected before hot weather sets in.

– Flush and refill the cooling system (radiator) according to the service manual’s recommendations. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically.

– If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, look for repair facilities that employ ASE-certified automotive technicians.

– The tightness and condition of belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a qualified auto technician.

– Have a marginally operating air conditioner system serviced by a qualified technician to reduce the likelihood of more costly repairs.

– Change the oil and oil filter as specified in owner’s manual. (Properly dispose of used oil.)

– Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended.

– Check the condition of tires, including the spare. Always check tire pressure when the tires are cold.

– Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs.

– Replace worn wiper blades and keep plenty of washer solvent on hand to combat summer’s dust and insects.

Read more at: http://www.ase.com/News-Events/Publications/Car-Care-Articles/Springtime-Auto-Care.aspx

Spring is finally here: Now is the time to learn How to fix the 5 most common lawn problems

It looks like Spring has finally Sprung! Now is the time you are probably thinking about getting your lawn in shape!

If the lawn outside your window is giving you the blues, join the club. After a brutal winter walloped much of the country, our Facebook and Twitter feeds have been buzzing with lawn care woes from exasperated homeowners (#moles #barespots, anyone?). Fortunately, many of the most common problems have fairly straightforward fixes, as you’re about to read. And just in case your yard is already the envy of the block, our experts have advice on money-saving tips, the right and wrong ways to fertilize, plus results from our latest tests of mowers, tractors, and more.

Problem: Lack of sunlight
Solution: Look for lawn alternatives

Even so-called shade-tolerant varieties of turfgrass won’t do well in dark corners of the yard. And pruning trees too aggressively to create sunlight can end up harming the tree. You’re better off cutting your losses and replacing the sun-starved patch of grass with a shade-tolerant ground cover, such as bishop’s hat or sweet woodruff. Or you might convert that part of the lawn with gravel or a perennial bed.

Problem: Crabgrass invasion
Solution: A multi-pronged defense

You’re smart to tackle this pesky weed. Besides being an eyesore, crabgrass typically dies off at the first frost, promoting soil erosion. Applying corn gluten meal, a natural alternative to chemical herbicide, in early spring can help contain the problem. Follow with a spring fertilizer. As the mowing season begins, don’t cut the grass too short, since this can open the door again for crabgrass. Set the deck on your mower or tractor to around 3½ inches. Most decks have notches, not inches, so getting the height just right can take some trial and error.

Problem: Persistently thin, patchy grass
Solution: Get a soil test

Chronic lawn problems are often about the soil, not the actual grass. Having a soil test done is the best $10 to $15 you can spend. Home and garden centers sell DIY kits, but we recommend working with your local cooperative extension (use the national directory listed at http://www.csrees.usda.gov/extension), whose experts will pinpoint your soil’s pH level and identify any missing nutrients. They’ll also prescribe the best course of treatment, for example spreading limestone if the soil is acidic or sulfur if it’s overly alkaline. It’s prudent to do a soil test every few years, though if you just moved into a new home, you may want to do one annually, at least until the desired results start to show.

Problem: Grub sightings
Solution: First assess, then address

These milky-white beetle larvae feed on grass roots, which can lead to dead spots in the lawn. Grubs also attract moles and raccoons. But a few here or there might not be a problem, says Kyle Wickings, a turfgrass entomologist at Cornell University. Ten larvae per square foot is a common threshold for treatment, however, this can vary by species. A very healthy lawn can tolerate higher densities.

If there are signs of damage, say dead or wilting turf, ask your cooperative extension for the best treatment, which will depend on the species of grub. Preventive insecticides are applied in spring, and curative measures are done in the fall. In some regions, chemicals are illegal or must be applied by a certified pro. Organic alternatives, such as Heterorhabditis nematodes, are often effective.

Problem: Ugly bald spots
Solution: Start from scratch

Weeds love bare patches, so if you don’t act quickly, they will. Spring’s cool, wet weather is conducive to growing many types of turfgrass. Start by digging up the damaged section, plus 6 inches of surrounding, healthy lawn, cutting about 2 inches deep. Then level the soil and add a small amount of soil amendment, such as a plant-based compost, and starter fertilizer. If you’re using seed, cover it lightly with straw and keep the ground moist until germination. For sod, which is about 10 times more expensive than seed but tends to work better, cut a section to fit, press it into place, and water frequently until it takes root.

5 ways to save on lawn care

Add compost. This will improve your soil and eliminate pests and diseases, which means less money spent on fertilizer and water. Apply a quarter-inch of top-dressing compost once or twice a year, including right after your lawn has greened up. Going over the lawn with an aerator first will help mix the organic matter into the soil.

Water wisely. An established lawn needs about 1 inch of water per week in the growing season. A light daily watering will encourage shallow root systems. Instead, water thoroughly once a week, using a 1-inch deep empty tuna can as a makeshift measuring device. Early morning is best, say before 8 a.m., when evaporation rates are low and more water is absorbed into the soil. Also, don’t be afraid to let grass turn brown during dry spells. Most species can easily go a month without water. It’s time to water again when the grass goes from tan-brown to straw-colored.

Mulch, don’t bag. Your grass clippings are a free source of slow-release fertilizer, so let the mower discharge the clippings back onto your grass rather than bagging them. This can cut fertilizer costs by up to 30 percent. The only time to bag clippings is when your lawn is having a disease breakout, often signaled by irregular brown patches or rings in the lawn.

Try low-maintenance grass. Slow-growth, drought-resistant grass species save water, fertilizer, and time. Your local cooperative extension can help you find species that are right for your climate, soil, and lifestyle. Tall fescue is a low-maintenance alternative in the Northeast that can withstand heavy foot traffic, good for homes with active kids. Zoysia and seashore paspalum are easygoing newcomers in the South, while buffalo grass is popular west of the Mississippi.

Maintain your mower or tractor. Sharp blades cut cleaner and faster, and along with basic engine maintenance can reduce fuel costs by up to 25 percent. Dull blades also stress grass, making it more susceptible to disease. For best results, sharpen and balance the blade three times during the growing season.

The do’s and don’ts of lawn fertilizer
Most lawns need extra nutrients, but there’s a right way to choose and use them, especially when kids and pets are present. Here’s what to avoid, and what to do instead.

What not to do

Don’t use fast-release chemical fertilizers. Though their high concentration of nutrients will green up your lawn quickly, they’re tough on the environment and putting down too much could actually burn your grass.
Don’t use bone meal, blood meal, and fish-meal fertilizers if you have pets. Dogs in particular find them very tasty, and ingestion can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Some are also mixed with highly toxic insecticides.
Don’t use starter fertilizer with weed control when trying to grow new grass. The seeds will not be able to germinate.
Don’t ignore the instructions on the label, including the type of drop spreader it stipulates. That will help ensure that the fertilizer is appropriately dispersed over the lawn.

What to do instead

Do use slow-release fertilizers. They won‘t have an immediate impact, but that’s better for the long-term health of your lawn. And using too much won’t damage your grass. The same goes for organic fertilizers.
Do check the label. It will likely indicate how much nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are contained, in that order. Use fertilizers with a higher nitrogen content in the spring and summer. Use a fall fertilizer that is higher in phosphorous and potassium for better root growth.
Do limit your fertilizer applications to twice a year. We recommend once around Memorial Day and again after Labor Day.
Do keep fertilizers off areas where rain might carry them into storm drains and then into rivers and lakes.

As read on: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/05/how-to-fix-the-5-most-common-lawn-problems/index.htm

Motorcycle Safety: Spring Brings New Hazards

As the snow melts away, the desire to experience the wind in your face gets stronger. Motorcyclists across the country are charging battery’s, checking tire pressure, and putting a good coat of wax on their trusty steed. Making ready for that first warm afternoon, when they can get out on the highway. Harley’s or Honda’s, all motorcycle riders look forward to the first spring ride in the country.

Before you blast out of your driveway, a few safety reminders are worth going over. In your hurry to be the first on the road, you don’t want to be the first to the hospital because you got in too much of a hurry.

We’ll assume you prepared your motorcycle properly when you put it in storage for the winter. To make sure your cycle is ready to go, check all fluid levels, check tire pressures, and add some fresh gas. Charge up the battery, and hit the start button. With a well maintained motorcycle, this is about all that’s necessary if you did your proper maintenance before winter storage.

The rest of your preparation has a lot to do with attitude. Being safe on the road depends primarily on how alert you are while riding, and how well you are paying attention to what’s going on around you.

After a long winter, with road crews working long hours to keep the roads clear of ice and snow, there is a very dangerous residual leftover from the plowing process. That is the SAND the highway department used on roads. Loose sand is everywhere in the early Spring. Corners, intersections, main roads and side streets alike. This accumulation of sand presents a severe danger to all two wheeled vehicles.

Remember when you went into that long curve last Fall. The one where you leaned way over as you went through it. Leaning allowed you to navigate that long corner at a faster speed, plus it felt cool. If you make the mistake of leaning over and powering through that corner in the Spring, when some left over sand is still on the road, your wheels will slide out from under you. Road rash is very painful, sliding on asphalt will rapidly grind skin and meat off your body. Not a good experience.

Watch out for loose sand at intersections as well. Stopping too fast on a thin layer of sand will send you sliding into the intersection. Possibly into the path of cross traffic. If your tailgating a city bus, you may find yourself doing a face plant right into the back end of that bus.

The dreaded four wheeler, people driving cars have forgotten all about motorcycles over the past few months. Even in good weather in the middle of summer a motorcycle is almost invisible to cars. Headlights on can help, but it’s vital that you ride with the attitude that everyone out there is trying to kill you. For all practical purposes they are, be it unintentional, but none the less tangling with a car is the last thing a motorcycle rider wants to do.

The inexperienced rider, new motorcycle owners will be out there in large quantities. With the price of gas reaching the stars, more and more people will be opting for the much cheaper to operate motorcycle for daily transportation. Not only should these new riders be extremely cautious as they have a lot to learn about safety, but the experienced rider can find themselves in trouble because of mistakes made by someone with little or no experience, that happens to be in their riding space.

When you head out on the road this spring, be aware. Know what’s going on around you and give yourself enough space to safely navigate around dangers. Motorcycle riding is one of the best ways to experience what our country has to offer. Be sure you enjoy it safely.

As read on: http://voices.yahoo.com/motorcycle-safety-spring-brings-hazards-1321887.html