Tips for the Car or Van Dweller Newbie

Depending on how much or little money you have to spend and how long you will be utilizing your vehicle to live or camp in, consider a few of the following basics to help you make your situation a little easier to navigate as you jump into vehicle/vandwelling. OK let’s get you started!

Your #1 priority: Does everyone have space to sleep? In most vehicles you can lay the front seats down to allow more space if needed as well as utilizing the back seat(s). For older vehicles some even choose to modify their vehicle so that the seats in back can recline to utilize the trunk area for additional sleeping space. In this way you can generally sleep two people instead of one (even in a small car). In SUVs of course the back seats lay down allowing a larger amount of space to sleep two (& possibly additionally a small child). In a van it gives you additional options. If it is one or even two people a bed can be constructed, or you can utilize the floor in addition to the reclining front seats if they are critically needed. Many vans also have a bench seat in the rear that can make an excellent bed option. Top with a comforter & few pillows and whallah!!!

Your priority #2 – Staying clean and having a place to take care of basic hygiene needs. One easy option (particularly if you stay in one area or geographical region) is to join a cheap fitness center. Planet Fitness is one fitness center with locations in many states that offer monthly fees as low as $15, and they do not require monthly contracts. There are others as well. These fitness centers and most gyms have wonderful bathrooms with large showers and electrical outlets to blow your hair dry et cetera. They are generally open from very early, typically by 5 a.m., and stay open late, most until midnight or later. Some of these fitness centers/gyms also have indoor pools, free classes & programs, and other amenities including fitness equipment parked in front of rows of flat screen TVs to view as you run on that treadmill! For a family, inquire to see if they have any type of family rates. Also, look up your local YMCA as they not only have a wide array of programs, but also family plans in most areas. Do be careful to check into all the details (read the fine print) of any option, before making your selection. If you have no other options, you can always utilize rest area bathrooms or even a fast food place to clean up until you find a better solution. Another option that I personally use is Passport America ($40 to $44 annual membership fee), an annual 50% off RV/Camping Club. They currently have right at 1800 RV Camping locations throughout the USA, Canada & Mexico. It makes a huge difference to pay $12.50 instead of $25 a night or $15 vs. $30! If you stay one night per week you are looking at an average cost of $60 per month to utilize their showers, electric and amenities. One more mention for those who travel is Travel centers. Although it is not my choice many love them for their showers (typically $7 to $10) in addition to many other options for those on the road such as wifi, coin laundry, TV lounges and though certainly not common, occasionally even a Jacuzzi!

Note: For “In-Between” showers: If you camp/overnight in more private areas (National Lands et cetera) you will want to get a sun shower bag for an easy, cheap, effective solution.

To keep hair nice and clean you may want to consider spray and/or foam hair shampoos. TREsemme’ and Suave both have products that work well and are priced $4 to $5 per can/bottle.

Other tips to get you started:

>One inexpensive way to plug in AC devices to charge (laptop, cell phone, etc.) is to get an inverter. An inverter is a small unit that plugs directly into your cigarette lighter in your vehicle. Once plugged in & turned on, it draws power directly from your car battery, so especially when you are driving somewhere, you can easily utilize that time to also be charging devices. You can find a good quality 350W to 400W inverter on amazon.com or at Walmart or many other stores for as little as $30. If you decide you will be vehicle/van-dwelling for a more extended time period and/or want to do some travel and/or camping in your vehicle/van, you will want to check into setting up a simple battery system in conjunction with your inverter. The battery can be wired to draw power to recharge itself only when the engine is running so as to keep the battery charged without drawing down your auto/truck battery. But to get you started an inverter to use in your vehicle will be a cheap easy option to utilize.

>Utilize public libraries & wifi spots to not only be able to access the internet, but also charge up laptops, cell phones & even a portable power station if you have one! If you do have a portable power unit you can power it through your vehicle or possibly at the fitness center! This option will allow you more portability when you are in or outside of your vehicle.

>Where do you park? Walmart parking lots and Travel Centers are no-brainers, but there are actually a number of other free legal places you can park, in addition to many no or low cost sites in parks & public lands. Following are three of the numerous excellent resources available, to identify some of these areas.

~FreeCampsites.net http://freecampsites.net Online directory of free and cheap (under $10) campgrounds across the USA. This site has some real finds in public forests & natural settings with some great options near water sites.

~Recreation.gov – “Explore Your America” http://www.recreation.gov/ This official site features online comprehensive listings and searches for U.S.A. recreation on public lands; includes fish hatcheries, fishing areas, historic places, campgrounds + more!

~Allstays Camp & RV is currently available for both Apple iPhone/iTouch & Android devices. I love this app and use it often! I paid $4.99 for it a couple years ago and it is hard for me to function without it! Before I go to a new area I always check it out on this app as far as Walmarts and Travel Centers there, where I can legally park overnight. Lots of info included in this app & I highly recommend it. You can also utilize Allstays free camping info on their website.

So that will get you started, and if you choose to use your vehicle for an extended camping or living option, there are many more options you have to make it a quite comfy home and enjoyable experience! ~See ya down the road!

Blessings for Your Journeys, Brenda

7 Tips to Help You Buy a Car

If you have a good paying job, you may be looking to buy a car. Before you buy one, make sure you check out the following important tips. This will help you reduce your stress when making your first purchase. Read on.

1. Do Your Research

Knowledge is power. You should not head for the car lot without doing your research about the car that you are interested in buying. On the internet, you can find out anything about your desired car. If you want to buy a second-hand car, you may read the latest resale prices for your desired model. With this data, you will have some bargaining power.

2. Pre-financing Options

You can get the funds from the car dealers, but this may not be a good option for you. As a matter of fact, dealership rates of interest are a lot higher than the loan rates you get from credit unions and banks. As a matter of fact, your credit union or bank is a great place to get information about the rates of car loans.

3. Shop Around

It’s a good idea to shop around when buying a car. This will help you find out the rock-bottom price. Aside from this, it makes sense to check out other car dealerships. Most dealers price their cars based on their location.

4. Negotiate Terms

Buying a car is like a chess match. As a matter of fact, buying a new car is a greatly important investment in anyone’s life, and you may have to pay for your car for years to come. Don’t let the salesman cheat you. What you need to do is do your best to negotiate the loan and reduce the purchase price. Ideally, you may want to start off with a ridiculously low price working backwards.

5. New and Used Cars

Buying a slightly used vehicle was a great way of saving money. Actually, what happens is that new vehicles depreciate faster than older ones. Unluckily, the supply of second-hand cars has come down significantly. Aside from this, more people have been sticking to their cars prior to looking for a new one. As a result, the prices of second-hand cars have gone up significantly. So, new cars have become a better option. But you may want to consider both new and used cars.

6. Purchase Price

Usually, car dealers offer good monthly payment options to potential purchasers. You should not be misled. It’s better to negotiate on the basis of the purchase price instead of the monthly payments. Aside from this, make sure that you have the knowledge of the purchase price of the car. Actually, the price of the car may have some hidden or extra costs, such as dealership costs and delivery fees.

7. Use the Internet

Buying a car online is a good option. First of all, you don’t have to deal with the annoying salesperson. Another benefit is that you may get a lot better price. So, it’s a good idea to buy your favorite car online.

Hopefully, these 7 tips will help you buy the best car.

Tips On How To Prevent Car Lockouts

One thing which happens with almost everyone is that they forget their car keys inside the car. People lock their cars and leave the keys in the ignition. This way it is easier for someone to break inside, get the keys and drive away with the vehicle. It is a real pain for you to get back inside the car and get your keys. You cannot go anywhere without getting your car keys back and that is only possible when you try to break in or get the help of a car mechanic or locksmith. In order to prevent lockouts there are few suggestions listed below.

Do not forget to take keys before leaving home-

Once you plan to leave home, take the car keys with you and once you park and leave the car take the keys out of the keyhole and keep them with you. Instead of leaving the car and forgetting the keys in the car ensure that you have them with you all the time. If you forget to take your keys out and leave, someone will do it for you and take your car away. Once you park the car and turn the engines off, if you hear any beeping once you open the door, it means the car keys are still in the ignition. The beeping sound gives you a reminder to take the keys out instead of leaving them behind. You should always keep the keys with you.

Get a spare key-

In order to avoid any bad event on your way out, make sure you have an extra pair of keys at home. People who have this problem of forgetting things and leaving car keys behind should get an extra pair of keys. This way you can avoid lockouts. You can use this key to unlock your car and get inside easily. But people usually keep this key in their houses; under doormats etc. you need to carry this key with you all the time. Just keep it inside your wallet without any key ring attached to it.

Get your lock fixed-

Car lockouts not always happen because of leaving your keys inside, sometimes it occur due to a defaulted lock. To avoid such thing you should contact a locksmith or car mechanic or else you have to face this issue every time you try to lock your car. There is another option of leaving your car without locking it, but then you do not want to risk losing your car. If someone finds your car unlocked he might try to get inside and steal it. Do not waste time and get the lock fix before it’s too late.

Attach a noisy key ring-

Do attach some noisy key rings with your spare keys and even with your original car keys in order to avoid losing them. If incase, your keys ever fall to the ground you will be able to notice it immediately due to the noise they make.

Recheck your keys-

Keep on checking your keys after every few hours, if they are still on you or not. Keep them in a fixed spot so you know where they are.

12 Amazing Car Care Tips You Should Know About

Whether you are a person using public transport or a person who has your own vehicle, either way transportation is such a pivotal component of each of our day-to-day lives and certainly it is a dream for anyone who doesn’t have his own vehicle to one day own a vehicle that belongs to him or her. It’s a goal for most of us to eventually own our own car and once we do it’s important for us to know how to maintain our car so that we can use it without problems and in good running condition which will make our day to day activities a lot easier.

We have gathered together for you some expert car care tips which not only can be done by anyone but will only take a little bit of time and it certainly will improve the service that your car gives you.

1. Engine Oil

What good is a man without a heart? Similarly, what good is a car without a well-maintained engine which is considered to be the heart of any vehicle. A car’s service manual usually provides information as to how often you need to change the engine oil. In most vehicles, you can test the level of your engine oil by checking the dipstick which is usually yellow in color and you can get an idea if the necessary amount of oil is present.

2. Spark Plug

This might not be a component which can be seen easily in your car but it is a tiny hidden part which plays a main role in the cars ignition. If you have trouble starting your car it may be the case that the spark plug has worn out with use and time and needs to be replaced. This too is a very useful car maintenance tip for you to keep in mind.

3. Car Battery

You can check to see if your car has enough energy to run well by taking your battery to the mechanic and getting it checked by a multi meter. It’s a good idea to make sure you get it checked once a year.

4. Tire Pressure

When refilling tires with air it is always advisable to read the manufacturer’s recommendations and follow them accordingly. The manufacturer’s recommendations are usually found on a sticker attached near the driver’s door.

5. Air Filter

This is responsible for efficient airflow and overall performance of your car. If you feel that your car’s performance is no longer as good as it used to be then it might be because your air filter is dirty and needs to be replaced.

6. Wiper Blades

Even though the significance of your wiper blades is not that obvious through the spring, it is obvious when winter comes when we can see the importance of them and their effectiveness. Just to be on the safe side it is advisable to replace your wiper blades every year during spring time.

7. Brakes

If you come across symptoms such as a squeaky noise coming from your brakes, or you are planning on going on a long distance trip or even if you have a general ill feeling about your brakes it is best and advisable to get them checked as soon as possible since they are a vital component of your car.

8. Radiator

The radiator keeps the car’s engine cool with its coolant fluid. However, say the radiator has run out of coolant and you aren’t in a position to get the fluid replaced, a stopgap is you can use still water too in order keep your engine cool when it over heats.

9. Washing and Vacuuming Your Car

Washing your car daily or at least once every 2-3 days will remove all the road salt and debris that your car catches while on the road.

10. Hoses and Belts

If you don’t check regularly you will never know when a belt or a hose in your car will break so it is advisable to get your hoses and belts checked by a mechanic at least once every three months.

11. Changing Tires

It’s quite dangerous to run your car on worn out tires, and it is very important to know how to change your tires in case of an emergency. If you get the feeling that you have a punctured tire try to stop your car on the side of the road in a place that is safe and not causing trouble for other cars. Then take your jack and make sure you place it under the metal part of the car frame. Then raise the car just enough to take the pressure off the tire so you can remove the lug nuts. Also watch out as tires are quite heavy. An important car care tip is to remember to get the punctured tire repaired or replaced because you never know when you’ll need it again.

12. Emergency Contact

Above everything else is the safety of your life, so make sure to have contact details in your car in case of an emergency. Make a contact list of the following and make sure you have a copy of it in your car and your mobile devices. Emergency contacts such as the AAM Hotline, contact for ambulances, your car insurance company, trusted friends and family. Also try your best not to panic but to keep calm during emergencies.

Advice and Tips on Repairing Your Car’s Upholstery

As an owner of a vintage car that has needed complete restoration, I know the value of do-it-yourself projects. By doing the car repairs or restorations yourself, you can save thousands of dollars. One of the most often needed repairs for vintage cars is the upholstery. Let me give you some easy tips for repairing it yourself. First of all, you should always clean the upholstery before starting any repair projects. Use an upholstery cleaner that is made specifically for the type of upholstery you have and always follow the manufacturers instructions to the letter. I prefer to spot test the cleaner in an out-of-the-way place just to be sure. You will be amazed at what a good cleaning can do for old upholstery! Sometimes it will reveal potential problem areas that you can repair before they become a big problem.

Repairing Leather upholstery tips:

If sewing or recovering the seat is not possible, you could try a leather repair kit that can be found at any automotive store. The kit will come with a plastic substance that you will tint to match as close to your car upholstery color as possible. You’ll have to apply it and then let it dry. I don’t recommend this for large areas. It is usually o.k. for small areas if the color is well matched. Black or White upholstery is the easiest to match.

Repairing Vinyl upholstery tips:

Don’t try using glue to repair your vinyl! It seems like an easy fix, but the adhesive in the glue can actually destroy the foam padding underneath the vinyl. You don’t want to create more problems! Instead, simply cut a patch of excess vinyl found under the seat and use adhesive specifically made for vinyl upholstery to patch it. Again, follow the adhesive manufacturers instructions carefully.

If it is just the piping around the seat that needs repair, use this simple trick: Take a match stick and remove the match. Add some contact cement to one end of the match and work it into the damaged area. Then apply the cement to the other end and work that end of the stick in. Fold it in as you go if necessary. Make sure you let the cement dry completely before using the seat.

Do some research ahead of time and see if this do it yourself project is something you think you can do. You don’t want that vintage muscle car looking awesome on the outside and old as dirt on the inside. With a little work you can get it in top notch shape!