We all love our cars, but oftentimes we come across unavoidable problems and issues on the road that need a quick fix. Below, we collected a slew of handy car hacks to make driving a breeze and tide you over until your next maintenance appointment. Read on, and share these tried-and-tested tips from Shift with your friends!
From national parks to wineries to beaches, the Golden State is home to endless options for outdoor adventures that are easily accessible by car. We collected some of our favorite picks for the most swoon-worthy romantic getaways in California to add to your West Coast long weekend agenda. Cue the wanderlust!
While this one is perfect for a romantic getaway with your significant other, we also love this spot for a fun solo expedition and camping with the crew. “Get back to nature and escape to the wild and rugged coastline of Big Sur, which offers stunning views of the Pacific along miles and miles of dramatic cliffs. Visit a few ‘jewels’ of California’s state park system and walk among the redwoods to discover secret beaches and waterfalls. Soak in natural hot springs, pamper yourselves with a massage or spa treatment and enjoy a romantic dinner for two perched above the endless blue ocean.” (CBS Los Angeles)
Perhaps the quintessential romantic getaway in California, Napa is a no-brainer. “It’s an interesting experience; peaceful and quiet floating through the sky intermittently interrupted by the roar and flames, only to have the propane turned off abruptly and be wrapped by the cool air and silent drifting once again. […]Hot air balloon rides are on many travelers’ bucket lists of vacation activities. I can’t think of a better way to check that item off your list than to enjoy the sun rising over Napa Valley. ” (The Vacation Gals)
“There’s no sunset quite as spectacular as a desert sunset. From the red-hued rocks to the yucca trees and tumbleweeds, Joshua Tree is a serene escape with sparse beauty all around. Rent a design-forward home in the middle of it all, and soak in the sights and sounds of the high desert. Explore the wilderness during the day and cozy up and star gaze with your S.O. at night.” (Refinery29)
“The village area of downtown La Jolla oozes luxury and has many romantic restaurants, bars, and cafes ideal for couples looking for a romantic getaway, but La Jolla’s main romance factor can be found at the La Jolla Cove. Curving around the Pacific Ocean, the La Jolla Cove is one of the most spectacularly stunning stretches of coastline in California. With a wide grassy area ideal for a picnic and a meandering walking trail along the perimeter of the cove, its an ideal place to spend a leisurely romantic afternoon.” (One Day In A City)
If you’re making the trek between Northern and Southern California, this is a can’t-miss spot. “The air feels fresher and the ocean more serene in Santa Barbara, which offers great hiking and mountain views amid historic 1930s architecture and terra-cotta paved streets.” (LA Weekly)
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
One of our all-time favorites, “Yosemite National Park is sort of like a theme park plunked into the great outdoors: visitors can choose any number of activities during their trip, including hiking, climbing, trail rides, photography tours, live theater, and fine food.” (CN Traveler)
BONUS: Last but not least, one of the easiest romantic getaways in California requires almost no planning: a simple cruise along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, spanning San Diego to San Francisco. The sweeping views are unforgettable.
Your car is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make—second only to purchasing a home. It can be stressful, and it’s easy to forget the basics. So we’ve put together a list of things to check on a used car before you buy.
Check under the hood
This is one of the most important things to check on a used car, and should be top of your list of steps when performing a pre-purchase inspection. Check all of the accessible fluids—not just the engine oil.
All of the fluids should be filled to their full marks and clean. You can read up on how to check car fluids, but in general, this is what good fluids should look like:
- Oil: should be honey colored. It should not smell burnt
- Brake fluid: should be clear to honey colored
- Power steering fluid: should be honey colored
- Transmission fluid: should be pink and not smell burnt
- Coolant: should be green, yellow, blue or red depending on the manufacturer
When inspecting your future ride, you’ll want to take a look at the coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid and automatic transmission fluid. Some modern vehicles have electric power steering and lack a dipstick for the transmission, but check what you can. While you’re poking around under there, you’ll also want to check for fluid leaks.
SAFETY TIP: Hot exposed metal can reach temperatures hot enough to burn errant hands, and opening a hot radiator cap could burst off and cause severe injury. Before your test drive, pop the hood while the engine is still cool.
Pay attention to the gauges
Once you’ve checked all the fluid levels, the next thing to check on a used car is the gauges. Not all drivers pay close attention to them, but they’re really important—they provide valuable information about the health of the vehicle.
During the test drive, pay particular attention to the oil pressure and temperature gauges. Allow the vehicle to reach operating temperature and drive it at different speeds and on a variety of roads.
Be sure to idle the car and observe its behavior. Engines are more prone to overheating at idle and low oil pressure is also more likely to be apparent. This is because the oil pump is driven off either the crankshaft or camshaft, meaning the oil pump turns faster at higher RPMs, and builds more pressure.
Listen for noises
Turn off the radio and instead listen to what the car has to say. Listen for clunks, rattles, groans and any other abnormalities. Make sure to test drive the vehicle at various speeds, both in town and on the highway. Some of the most important noises to listen for include:
- Engine noises: knocking, rattling, or pinging from the engine indicate potential big-time problems.
- Transmission noises: whining, growling or rattling noises from the transmission area could quickly empty your pocket book.
- Differential and transfer case noises: whining or growling noises from the rear end and/or transfer case (if the vehicle is a four-wheel drive) are a very bad sign.
A general rule of thumb is no news is good news; quiet is good.
Check the vehicle history
A Carfax report will provide insight as to whether a vehicle has been in an accident, if it has a clean title and how many owners it’s had. Don’t buy a used car without one.
Check the undercarriage
Unless you’re buying a truck or SUV, you probably won’t be able to get completely under the vehicle for a lookie loo. However, you should still make a point of getting down to peek under the vehicle, looking for fluid leaks and damaged parts.
While you’re at it, take a look at the condition of the tires. After all, paying for a new set of tires is an ugly expense after shelling out significant money for the car itself. Tires should have at least 5/32” worth of tread (2/32” is the minimum to pass safety in most states), should be free of sidewall cracks and bulges, and should have a production date less than 10 years old. On all tires produced since year 2000, the last two digits of the DOT number listed on the sidewall will list the production date. For example, in the image below, the tire was manufactured in 2007.
There, that’s it! You’re now a pro and won’t have any trouble inspecting your next used car — right?
Over the past month or so, El Niño has been sweeping the nation. No, it’s not a hip boyband, although it did make a famous appearance back in 1998. Reactions to this millennial incarnation of El Niño are mixed. Flourishing gardens, wicked surf, and the perfect atmosphere for days-long cuddle sessions have left many Americans singing El Niño’s praises. But drawbacks to this unique weather pattern are serious, especially when it comes to driving. Slick, puddle-filled highways and byways may be an unfamiliar and dangerous challenge to California drivers.