Blog posts of '2018' 'December'

Car Paint Protection Tips For New & Old Cars

One of the best things about getting a new car is the paint. Your car arrives with pristine paintwork, free of scratches, dings, stains, chips and discoloration. Once you drive it off the lot, it’s up to you to protect that paint to maintain that new car look.

Protecting your paint is about more than aesthetics, your car's cosmetics are 30% of its value, and so protecting your paint is also about protecting your investment in your car.

If you’re looking for the best way to protect your car’s paint, consider the following options:

  • Waxes
  • Sealants
  • Covers
  • Coatings
  • Clear Film
  • Keep it Clean
  • All of the Above

All of them have pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses. To understand how to best protect your car’s paint, here’s a breakdown for you to consider.

1. Waxes

Traditional car waxes, often referred to as Brazil wax or palm wax, are made from Brazilian carnauba. Other wax products can include other ingredients such as beeswax, petroleum distillates or linseed oil.

Car wax has traditionally been used to provide a car with a warm glossy finish and gives a car’s surface a natural glow. When properly applied, it also provides excellent protection for a car’s paint.


  • Gives your car a warm glow and even softens the feeling of the paint
  • Protects against rust, dirt, salt and other pollutants
  • Repels water
  • Fills in and covers light scratches


  • Waxes only last for 1-3 months on average
  • Application is a time-consuming process
  • Dark colored cars in hot climates are susceptible to hazing and streaking

2. Sealants

Sealants are liquid compounds that are designed to bond to the finish of your car and protect it from sun, dirt, weather and other pollutants.

Like waxes, sealants are applied to the surface in layers to bond with a car’s paint. Unlike waxes, sealants are made from synthetic polymers. In fact, most over the counter 'waxes' are actually sealants.


  • Sealants are more durable than waxes and can last from 1 month to a year
  • More affordable and readily available
  • Easier to apply than waxes


  • Doesn’t always provide the warm glossy finish of a wax. This is especially true for darker cars
  • Sealants don’t usually provide effective UV protection, however they will protect your car’s clear coat, which does

3. Covers

A car cover is one of the easiest low-maintenance ways to protect your car’s paint. Whether you store your car in a private garage, a parking lot, the street or a driveway, a quality cover can protect your car from anything mother-nature or human nature can throw at it.

Car Cover Protection


  • Affordable over the long term, a quality cover can last up to 7 years.
  • A well-designed car cover should be waterproof, UV-resistant, stain-resistant and be breathable to prevent mold.
  • Covers can serve as a theft deterrent


  • You can’t drive your car with your cover on

4. Coatings

Coatings are relatively new compared to waxes and sealants, but work in the same way. Made from resin or quartz-based ceramics, coatings are applied to the surface of your car and bond with the finish.

Normally, coatings are thicker and give a candy-coated look to the vehicle. Pricing on coatings can vary from several hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on your installer.

Coatings essentially create a tough shell over your car’s painted surfaces.


  • Coatings can last over 5 years
  • Hydrophobic
  • Resistant to UV
  • Durable and able to protect against scratching, etching from water, bug impacts and bird droppings


  • More expensive than waxes or sealants
  • Require a thorough cleansing of the surface
  • You need to have surface defects removed prior to coating

5. Clear Films

Clear films are like plastic wrap for your car. A thin protective film is custom cut and applied to specific car panels that are most likely to suffer damage from scrapes, rock chips and airborne particles.



  • Long lasting and require minimal maintenance
  • Have self-healing properties which can allow some light scratches to be 'healed' with time or heat exposure.
  • UV resistant


  • Can cost as much as $900-2500 per panel
  • Only protects specific panels
  • Sap and other environmental pollutants can eat through the film if left on over time
  • Require a thorough cleansing of the surface
  • You may also need to have surface defects removed prior to coating

6. Keeping it Clean

One of the simplest ways to protect your paint is to keep your car clean. Whether you take it to the car wash, or detail it yourself, regularly cleaning your car can remove salt, tree sap, bird droppings, dust, dirt and more. Many car washes will also apply a wax or sealant to help your car maintain its shine.

If you decide to clean your car at home, stay away from dish detergent, it will hurt your car’s paint. Instead, use a high-quality car wash chemical and apply it with a foam pad applicator. Then, rub the body with a fine-grade car wash mitt or microfiber cloth and rinse thoroughly with clean water.

If regular washing is not possible, at least wipe down the car every day with a duster to prevent unexpected sanding of the paint.

Even something as simple as having a rule to not run fingers along the surface of the car can make a difference. Fingernails can leave deep scratch marks on the body and your finger will act like a sandpaper, grinding the dirt into the paintwork.

Love Your Car's Finish

7. All of the Above

The best thing about these solutions is that many of them can work together to protect your paint. A clear film can be covered with a sealant or coating to add an extra layer of protection.

Consider how you use your car when making a decision.

  • If you commute on a highway where there is a significant danger of rock chip damage, using a clear film and a coating may be the best option.
  • If you park your car under a tree where sap or bird droppings may be an issue? Using a wax or sealant and an outdoor cover may fit your needs.
  • If your car is a “show car” that stays indoors except when taken out for auto shows, a wax combined with an indoor cover may be sufficient.

Finding the Best Method to Protect Your Car’s Paint

Whatever method you choose, one of the most important things to remember is that protecting your car’s paint isn’t a one-and-done situation. It requires regular maintenance and care. However, when you see your car, gleaming in the sunlight, looking like it rolled off the factory floor, it should all be worth it!

Be Prepared for the Road & 17 Awesome RV Road Trip Ideas

Whether it’s a quick trip across town or a multi-week excursion across the country, when you drive an RV, the country is yours to explore. Having a great RV trip isn’t about simply picking a road and driving, it takes a little planning, both to make sure your RV is in good repair, and also selecting a trip worth taking.

Basic RV Maintenance

Before you hit the road, follow these seven tips to make sure your RV is ready to roll.

  • Change Your Oil
  • Check Your Generation and Batteries
  • Keep It Covered
  • Inspect the Seams and Seals
  • Maintain Your Brakes
  • Plan Ahead
  • Join a Caravan

1. Change Your Oil

RVs need their oil and filters changed at regular intervals to keep your engine running properly. If left undone for too long, it could eventually cause your engine to seize costing you as much as $10,000.

Most manufacturers suggest an oil change every 3,000 to 4,500 miles, but you should check your owner’s manual for advice on your specific vehicle.

2. Check Your Generator and Batteries

One of the great things about RVing is having electricity for appliances and entertainment while you’re on the road. That’s why servicing your RV generator after a long trip and replacing your batteries every 3-5 years is important.

Remember to run your generator regularly when your RV is stored. Otherwise the build-up on the unit’s carburetor can easily cost you $400.

Also, store your battery in a warm place during the winter months. This keeps it from freezing and breaking and voiding the warranty. Otherwise, you’re on the hook for a new battery.

3. Keep It Covered


Properly storing your RV during the winter or off-season months is critical, especially if your RV will be stored outside. Rain, snow, wind, sun, bird droppings, dirt and other debris can be a heavy burden on your RV and a costly fix. An RV cover is the most cost-effective way to ensure that your mobile home stays in the best possible shape, so it will be ready to use the next time you want to take a road trip.

4. Inspect the Seals and Seams

Water damage can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to repair if it’s not taken care of immediately, so inspect the roof seals and seams of your RV every six months. 

If you have a rubber roof, make sure to have the roof treated at least once per year. This prevents the sun from doing damage. You should also have a roof inspection at least twice a year.

5. Maintain Your Brakes

Brake damage could cost as much as $2,000, so keep your brakes maintained for your safety and the safety of everyone else on the road.

6. Plan Ahead

Planning a route isn’t simply about knowing your destination, it’s about being able to access the resources you and your RV need to get there.

Planning a route means knowing that you’ll be able to access RV Friendly Gas Stations and Campgrounds.

Don’t overestimate how long you can drive during a single shift behind the wheel. Food breaks, calls of nature and a desire to stop and see the sights can easily throw off your schedule.

Also, don’t forget to make reservations. Too many RV trips have ended in disappointment when a preferred campsite, concert, sporting event or attraction sells out just before you arrive.

One great way to plan your trip is to use software designed with RVing in mind. One of the most popular is RV Trip Wizard []. The software helps you pinpoint campsite locations, attractions, track distances and analyze the cost of your trip in advance. Best of all, there’s nothing to download, it’s web-based and easy to use.

7. Join a Caravan


Don’t want to RV alone? You don’t have to. Many tour companies offer the opportunity to caravan with other RVers on specialized trips. The company provides detailed itineraries, reservations at campsites, tickets to events and attractions, meals and even a travelling mechanic who can provide support in case of emergencies. All you need to do is drive, they take care of everything else. Best of all, you get to travel along with fellow RVers who can appreciate the joy of the open road.

Hit the Open Road

Now that you’re ready to go, where do you want to go? The following are 17 ideas for road trips that you can do over the course of weeks, months or days and can appeal to a wide range of interests.

Best Multi-Week RV Vacations

1. Deep South

From South Carolina to Louisiana, the American Deep South is a fascinating part of the USA, and land with its own culture and history. Friendly people, home cooking (and portion sizes!). A rich trove of American history and culture from the Civil War to the civil rights movement and gospel to gumbo make this a fascinating place to visit.

2. Gulf Coast


From Florida to Mississippi, the Gulf Coast is not only a beautiful spot for a beach vacation but an important ecosystem that thousands of sea turtles, birds and other wild creatures call home. The Florida panhandle has beaches welcoming visitors to appreciate the beauty of this beautiful but delicate ecosystem.


3. New England

Driving your RV around the six states that make up New England – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island – can take you to some breathtaking mountain views and serene lakeside accommodations. Pack up the cooler, fold up the lawn chairs and head for the great outdoors and its many wonderful campgrounds.

4. Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest has much to offer to anyone traveling by RV. Whether it’s the Sequoia Forests of San Francisco, Mt. Rainer in Seattle or Voodoo Donuts in Portland. Mountain ranges, vast pine forests, hiking camping and fishing await, along with some of America’s most vibrant cities.

5. Rocky Mountains

Play some John Denver and experience the breathtaking beauty of America’s continental divide. Cities, towns, wildlife and natural wonders await as you traverse mountains, cities, towns and Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks.

6. Route 66

One of America’s most iconic highways, the historic Route 66 was 2,451 miles long and became the most popular road for those travelling west, or simply seeking adventure. While the historic Route 66 was replaced by the interstate highway system, it’s still possible to follow its path. Starting in Chicago the route winds through Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona coming to an end at the Santa Monica pier overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Best Weekend RV Road Trips

If you’re looking for a quick trip that you can do in a weekend and be back at your desk on Monday, these are some great areas to explore that may be in your own backyard.

7. Florida Keys

This chain of islands are connected by US Highway 1 and extends over 100 miles from the southern tip of Florida out into the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean and average temperatures in January run between 65-75 degrees.

Visit Hemmingway’s’ house, enjoy fishing, great seafood meals, the rich island culture and of course, a big slice of key lime pie.

8. Death Valley

At 282 feet below sea level, the Death Valley desert of California is the lowest point in North America. Known for its extreme summer heat, when daytime temperatures can reach 120°F, there is much more to Death Valley National Park for those who are interested in exploring its diversity. Explore the badlands its ever-changing colors, see the snow-capped mountains, and enjoy the wildflower bloom.

Visit in the winter months for pleasant temperatures and sunny days, and when you’re done, there may still be time to visit Los Angeles or Las Vegas.

Best Festival RV Trips

The United States hosts a wide range of annual festivals, events that are perfect for a weeklong RV trip with the family.

9. Albuquerque Balloon Festival


For nine days in October, the Albuquerque skies are colorfully painted as more than 500 balloons lift off from Balloon Fiesta Park. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®, is the world’s largest balloon festival, and one of the most photographed events in the world. Fun for the whole family.1

10 . Kentucky Derby

Sip your mint julep, pin on your fascinator and giddy up for the crown jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown. Before the horses reach the gate the two weeks preceding the Derby are filled with all of the excitement of the Kentucky Derby Festival which includes the Kentucky Oaks stakes race, and the Thunder Over Louisville fireworks display is the largest annual fireworks display in the country. Of course, all of the excitement of the celebration preceding the Derby is just a warm-up for the main event.

11. Mardi Gras

New Orleans loves to celebrate before the start of lent and Mardi Gras is the ultimate street party. The city sizzles for nine days every spring as the world converges on the Crescent City for hot jazz, fabulous food, and scandalous behavior. So roll into town and ‘Laissez les bon temps roulez!’ Need a break from the party? There are lovely old towns, stunning wilderness areas, sumptuous plantation homes, and spooky old cemeteries to visit.

12. Rose Parade/ Rose Bowl

On New Year’s Day, the country focuses its attention on Pasadena, California, for the annual Rose Bowl football game and the amazing Rose Parade. Equestrian units, marching bands and floats covered in blooming flowers make their way down Colorado Boulevard to welcome in the New Year. This is an iconic event and a great trip for the end of the winter holidays.

Best Themed RV Trip Ideas

Whether you’re a sports buff, a wine buff, a history buff, a music buff, or just looking to explore a new interest, these RV trips offer opportunities to explore the country and your passions at the same time.

13. Civil War Battlefields


Whether you’re a history buff or learning about The Civil War for the first time, taking an RV trip to the sites of famous and infamous battles can help bring the history home. From Fort Sumter (South Carolina), to Antietam (Maryland), to Gettysburg (Pennsylvania) to the Appomattox Courthouse (Virginia), these national historic sites are filled with displays, living history presentations and walking tours that will fascinate and educate young and old alike.


14. Ballpark Bonanza

Take me out to the ballgame. In an RV you can celebrate the boys of summer all across the country. Follow your hometown team, or try to check some of the great historical ballfields off your bucket list. Either way, it’s a great way to enjoy America’s pastime.

15. American Music

Whether it’s Dixieland, Country and Western, Jazz, Blues, Folk or Rock and Roll, the American South and Midwest is the cradle of popular music. RV from Nashville to Memphis to New Orleans to Detroit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and experience the best of American music firsthand.

16. Wine Country

While most of us think of wine country as Napa Valley, California, there are many other areas that are home to incredible wineries, restaurants and much more. Whether you visit Willamette Valley, Oregon, Walla Walla Washington, Traverse City Michigan, Long Island’s North Fork or Loudon Country Virginia, there are plenty of vintages to experience. Just remember, no drinking and driving.

17. Roadside Attractions


From Paul Bunyan Land to the world largest Catsup Bottle, to Cadillac Ranch or Dinosaur Park, the U.S. has its fair share of weird wonders and roadside attractions. Find your favorites and plot a course for the unexpected.

Plan Ahead and Explore with These RVing Travel Tips

When you’re ready to RV, a little preparation can mean the difference between a trip you’ll always remember, and a trip you’ll want to forget. Apply these ideas and enjoy the open road.

7 Tips on Parking and Storing a Motorcycle to Prevent Theft

Knowing where and how to park and secure a motorcycle can make all the difference if you want to be able to enjoy your ride.

Unfortunately, motorcycles make appealing targets for thieves because ownership has increased and also because motorcycles are easier to transport than cars or larger vehicles.

The key to keeping your motorcycle safe is understanding that no one solution can protect you. Thieves can cut a chain or break a lock in seconds. Instead, the solution is to make your motorcycle a less attractive target by applying multiple layers of protection. The more layers of protection that you use, the less likely it is that thieves will want to target your motorcycle.

These layers of protection include

  • Knowing the Risk Factors
  • Knowing Where to Store Your Motorcycle
  • Using a Cover
  • Knowing Where to Park
  • Locking onto a Stationary Object
  • Locking the Brakes
  • Using a Kill Switch
  • Installing an Alarm

If you want to keep your motorcycle from being stolen, the following tips can help you to enjoy your ride for years to come.

1. Know If You’re At Risk

The only place where thieves ride off on their stolen motorcycle is in the movies.

Most motorcycle thieves aren’t looking to ride off on your bike. Instead, they use a van or truck for a quick, low-profile getaway. Then all they have to do is break the lock, roll it away, and toss it in the back and go. Because thieves are looking for parts, they don’t mind damaging the motorcycle in the process, so don’t assume your dented and scratched motorcycle is immune.

Recent statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau also show that the biggest targets for bike thieves are powerful Japanese models with street-racing capabilities and profitable parts. Be extra careful if you ride a Honda, nearly one out of every five motorcycles stolen is a Honda.

Where you live can also make a difference with warmer states like California, Florida, Texas and the Carolinas reporting the most thefts.

Also, according to insurance reports theft risks increase during the summer months between July and September, so you’ll want to be extra diligent at this time. Knowing when and how you’re at risk, can help you to take the appropriate steps to prevent your motorcycle from being stolen.

2. Know Where to Store Your Motorcycle

Where you keep your motorcycle when it’s not in use can affect whether or not it will be stolen. Never store an uncovered motorcycle out front at home; it’s far safer in a garage or shed. Even if you have a garage, keeping a motorcycle parked on the street during the day makes it more of a target, and if you’re not riding daily, try to put a physical barrier between the motorcycle and the door.

If you don’t have access to a garage, or you park in a public garage, avoid parking your bicycle in the open. Remember, the more visible the motorcycle, the easier it is for a thief to see it as a target. Look for someplace out of the way like a backyard or an alcove, and if possible, park somewhere in sight of a security camera.

3. Use a Cover

Putting on a cover is another simple way to deter thieves. If they can’t see what kind of motorcycle you’re using, they’re less likely to target it. Having a motorcycle cover made from durable materials and built-in hardware for a security chain can also serve as an impediment. As an added bonus, your motorcycle will be protected from dust, grime, rain, environmental pollutants as well as scratches or dents.

4. Know Where to Park on the Street

If you’re taking your motorcycle out to run errands or out for a quick bite, your strategy should be the opposite of the parking at home strategy. Parking in areas with heavy foot traffic means potential thieves will be discouraged due to the increased risk of witnesses, security guards and police presence. If you’re in a quiet area without hi-visibility options, look for a parking space within the obvious view of a security camera.

5. Lock your Motorcycle to a Stationary, Immovable Object

Having an expensive lock and chain is great. But if you use it to lock your motorcycle or scooter to a chain link fence that can easily be taken down by bolt cutters, it won’t do much good. While they may be hard to find, look for objects that are anchored to the ground and immovable.

Also, when you connect your chain, make sure it goes around the frame and not the wheels. Thieves can remove wheels in a matter of seconds and walk away with the rest of your motorcycle.

6. Lock the Brakes

While a chain lock may slow down a thief, they’re even more likely to be slowed down if they can’t roll your motorcycle away.

Disc locks are a great way to keep your motorcycle in place. They’re small, but these heavy-duty locks can immobilize your wheel. For a thief, even seeing a disc lock may provide enough discouragement that they’ll move on to another target.

7. Install an Alarm

Everyone hates car alarms. They’re loud, bright and hard to ignore. While they can be annoying when they go off on your street at night, they serve a purpose. They give thieves an incentive to get away quickly.

The good news for motorcycle owners is that there are now many security systems available on the market. This may include:

  • Flashing lights
  • Siren
  • Early warning system
  • Keyless locking system
  • GPS Tracking
  • Remote Engine Disconnect

Any of these options can make life difficult for a thief and discourage them from giving your motorcycle a second look. Most of these systems can be wired into your motorcycle with minimal effort, and even a sticker or label that warns of alarmed locks or a GPS tracking system can sometimes deter thieves. 

You Can Keep Your Motorcycle from Being Stolen

Applying a combination of these strategies can help you to protect your motorcycle and keep it away from thieves. Don’t forget to reach out to your insurance company, they may offer you an anti-theft discount depending on your coverage and the type of measures you apply.

Easy Guide to Loading Your Motorcycle

Between 2002 and 2017, the number of motorcycles registered in the U.S. has doubled from 4 million to 8 million. And why not? Whether it’s the back trails or the open highway, there’s nothing more liberating than sitting astride a powerful piece of machinery.

Of course, if you want to transport your motorcycle, you’ll often need to load it onto the back of your truck or trailer.

Given that the average motorcycle can easily weigh 600 lb. it’s not something to be taken lightly.

Looking for the best way to transport a motorcycle? Follow these tips for loading, tying-down and transporting. Then, check out our suggestions on how to deter thieves and keep your motorcycle safe.

You can also watch this quick video showing the best way to attach your ramp.

1. Use a Ramp

One of the biggest mistakes that motorcycle owners make is that they skimp on a loading ramp. In fact, the internet is full of videos of unfortunate individuals who attempted to load their motorcycle using wooden planks. They don’t end well.

Instead, invest in a good quality loading ramp. Many are made from aluminum which makes them strong enough to support the weight and light enough to transport on your own. Also, many can fold to fit in the back of your truck or trailer.

When looking for a ramp, keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure that it’s the correct length. A ramp that’s too short can lead to loading accidents such as stalling and slippage on inclines that are too steep.
  • Determine optimal ramp length, using a Motorcycle Ramp Calculator, you'll simply need to provide your Loading Surface Height, Ground Clearance and Wheelbase.
  • If you have low ground clearance (under 4”), you may be at risk of having the under-body of your vehicle hit or scrape against the bed of your truck or trailer. Using an arched or curved ramp allows your vehicle to load at an angle parallel to the ground. This allows for a smoother transition that protects both your vehicle and your truck or trailer.

2. Attach the Ramp Properly

When you’ve unfolded your ramp, attach the end with the rubber tips to the tailgate. This will help prevent scratching and keep your motorcycle in place. If your ramp has hooks or connectors that will lock into your tailgate, make sure they are securely connected.

Next, use a ratchet tie-down strap to secure the ramp to the truck. Most ramps will have a hook intended for this use. Place one hook from a ratchet tie down through the hook on the ramp and secure the other end to a loop or hook in the bed of the truck. Use the ratchet to tighten the strap until the ramp is held firmly in place.

Look for straps that are rated to support the weight of your motorcycle. Look for sturdy, anodized or coated hooks and cambuckles. These will better support the weight, lock in place and prevent rusting over time.

Do not use a bungee strap to secure the ramp. Bungee straps may give, allowing the ramp to fall.

3. Put It In Neutral

Before you load, make sure your motorcycle is in neutral. It’s found between first and second gear and most motorcycles have a neutral light, that lets you know when you when your motorcycle is in neutral.

Also, avoid loading your motorcycle on soft or uneven ground. These might give way when weight is placed on the ramp while loading. Instead always load on blacktop or concrete. If neither of those are available look for a patch of dry, even ground.

4. Get Help Loading

You wouldn’t lift 200 lb. at the gym without a spotter, so why would you try to do the same thing with a 600 lb. motorcycle? Get a friend to help you when loading and unloading your motorcycle, otherwise, the motorcycle could tip and hit the ground, or even worse, fall on you. When loading have your friend push from behind while you steer.

Before the motorcycle has cleared the ramp, use your right hand to squeeze the front brake lever on the handlebars. This will keep the motorcycle from rolling backward. Then your friend can climb into the bed of the truck and help you pull the motorcycle in the rest of the way.

5. Secure your Motorcycle


Once your motorcycle has been loaded into your truck, it’s time to secure it for travel.

At minimum, you should have three ratchet straps with at least one “soft loop” or heavy duty loop that won’t damage the paint on your motorcycle.

How you tie down your bike will depend on the model of the motorcycle and the dimensions of your truck or trailer. However, it’s advisable to use either the frame or a solidly mounted part on the frame as an attachment point.

The first step is to get your truck or trailer as level as possible. Then, set two ties up front and two on either side. This should be adequate for most street bikes, but if you’re concerned, you can always add an additional two ties in the front hook.

Connect the tie-downs to your floor or frame loops and extend them out as far as you need to attach to your motorcycle (and where you can reach them).

A good rule of thumb is the 45-degree rule. All straps should form a 45-degree angle between the bike and floor and at a 45-degree angle from the motorcycle to the anchor points.

If you’re using a motorcycle ramp, don’t forget to strap it down as well.

6. Use a Wheel Chock


Another option that you can use is a wheel chock. These are curved blocks or metal frames that can keep motorcycle wheel from shifting.

Some chocks are simple rubber bricks, others have aluminum frames with locking mechanisms to keep your wheels straight and secure. Also, while some can secure to your truck without needing to drill holes in the truck bed, others cannot.

7. Use a Cover


Once your motorcycle is loaded and secured, you want to protect it from road dust, grit and insects. One easy way is with a motorcycle cover. Ideally, you’ll want a cover that can be effectively secured to your motorcycle while allowing your motorcycle to stay securely in place. Your cover should also be durable enough to withstand the high winds from the road and waterproof to keep your motorcycle dry.

Load, Secure and Transport Your Motorcycle Safely and Enjoy the Road

When the time comes to haul your motorcycle, following these steps will make it easier to load, secure and transport your motorcycle. They will also help protect your motorcycle from being scratched or getting dirty before you get to enjoy your ride.


The 10 Best Ways to Protect Your Truck Bed

Whether you’re hauling materials to the job site, transporting your motorcycle, ATV or off-road vehicle, or moving your drum kit to the next gig, your truck bed is constantly taking a beating.

The good news? By using a combination of bed liners, covers, hardware and accessories, you can not only protect your truck bed, but you can also move your cargo around with greater ease, keep it safe and even improve the value of your truck.

First, let’s looks at all your options.


  •  Truck Bed Mats
  •  Drop in Bed Liners
  •  Rug Liners
  •  Spray On Liners


  •  Truck Covers
  •  Tonneau Covers
  •  Truck Bed Organizer
  •  Anchor Points


  •  Loading Ramps
  • Loading Accessories

Bed Liners

1. Truck Bed Mats

One of the easiest and least expensive options available to protect your truck bed and prevent cargo from shifting is to use truck bed mats. These are removable mats made from rubber, plastic or other durable materials. Simply unroll and lay out across the bed of your truck. Truck bed mats are also popular because they are flexible and can be used outside of your truck bed.


  • Offer some short-term protection
  • Easy to clean
  • Affordable compared to a bed liner
  • No installation, just roll and go
  • Removal is simple, making them a good non-permanent solution
  • You can pair the truck bed mat and a tailgate mat together for more protection


  • They are a lower quality and don’t last as long as bed liners
  • Cargo might slip as the bed mat moves around.
  • If the mat doesn’t fit properly, it might shift while you’re in motion which can cause damage to your truck bed and its cargo
  • Truck bed mats don’t offer protection to the sides of the bed
  • Corrosion can build up beneath the mat, as it’s not watertight, so moisture and water get trapped, leading to rust

2.  Drop in Bed Liners


Probably the most common solution, a drop in bed liner uses pre-cut plastic or rubber sheets to provide a protective cover for your truck bed. These can often be purchased in sizes that fit most commercial trucks.


  • Protects your bed from dents and dings when cargo is loaded and unloaded
  • Inexpensive, can be purchased for less than $200 in many cases
  • Easy to install and can be attached with adhesive or tie-downs
  • Removable/transferable to your next truck


  • Poor quality liners can leave voids between the liner and bed, which can crack over time
  • Water can seep into the gaps between your liner and your truck bed, leading to rust and damage
  • Non-adhesive or non-textured surface means your cargo can slide around during transport
  • Liners can buffet in the wind or shift when cargo is in the bed, scuffing the paint underneath

3. Rug Liners

Rug liners work much the same as the drop in liners. The key difference is that they are made from polypropylene and covered in carpet-like polyester fibers. This gives them the advantage of being durable and weather-resistant, while the carpet-like surface provides extra protection for your cargo. Rug liners are a good choice if you use your truck bed to transport potentially fragile objects, musical instruments or pets.

4. Spray On Liners


A spray on liner uses a polyurethane elastomer spray to create a rubber-like second skin that covers your truck bed. There are various colors, styles and textures available for spray-on bed liners, from a hard surface to a softer surface with greater grip.



  • Spray on bed liners are incredibly durable and resistant to corrosion
  • The second skin of a spray on liner helps to reduce traveling noise
  • Will last much longer that mats and liners
  • A spray-on bed liner has excellent adhesion, making it watertight and preventing rust underneath the liner

  • Increases the resale value of your truck


  • Spray on liners are expensive and may require professional installation
  • To apply the liner, you need to strip away the paint, voiding the warranty
  • Unlike mats or drop-in liners, once the spray on liner is in, it can’t be removed and re-used on your next truck

Covers and Hardware

So far we’ve been looking at the benefits of bed liners, but what about the top of your bed? There also are options available to protect your truck bed before anything touches your bed liner.

5. Truck Covers

One of the easiest ways to protect your truck bed is to use a quality cover. Using a cover when your truck isn’t in use is a great way to protect it from rain, snow ice, UV-radiation and as well as environmental pollutants like dirt, grit, pollen, tree sap, bird droppings.

Look for covers that are breathable or have air vents sewn-in, this will help prevent condensation from contributing to mold, mildew or rust. Also, make sure your cover is designed to stay in place in windy conditions.


  • Affordable
  • Easy to use and store
  • Keeps the whole truck clean


  • Can’t be used on the road

6. Tonneau Covers


These covers act like a cap that fits over your truck bed. They can be made of hard or soft materials and their purpose is to protect cargo in the bed of a pickup truck from the elements and from prying eyes. The cover is also used to conceal items stored in the truck bed when the vehicle is unoccupied.


  • Acts like a convertible top for your truck bed, providing extra protection from the weather
  • Serves as a theft deterrent, especially if you have a locking cover
  • Adds extra style and value to your truck


  • While prices may vary, they typically run between $200- $1,000+.
  • You may not be able to add or access other truck accessories, such as tool boxes or bed rails
  • Require careful installation or you run the risk of the cover not working properly. If you’re unsure of how to install the cover, you may need to pay a professional

7. Truck Bed Organizers

Truck bed organizers are a bit like the under-bed storage system in your home or the dividers in your tool drawers. Made from metal, steel or plastic, they create a series of compartments in your truck bed that keep your cargo from sliding around. That way, you don’t have to worry about tipped over boxes, loose tools or spilled grocery bags.


  • Great for organizing your truck
  • If you use your truck to transport smaller items on a regular basis, a bed organizer can help you find what you need in a flash.
  • Can be custom built to fit your truck bed
  • Can include slip-proof mats to further protect your truck bed


  • Once installed it may be hard to remove an organizer. If you have an especially large load, it may get in the way

8. Tie-Down Anchors

If you haul any kind of large cargo, or if you transport off-road vehicles like ATVs, UTVs or dirt bikes you will have to secure it with some kind of tie-downs.

To attach these tie downs to your truck, you’ll need to have secure anchor points. Some of these can be attached temporarily, while some will need to be permanently connected to the bed or rail of your truck. This may require drilling holes that connect with a backing plate.

Types of Anchors and Anchor Systems

Clamp to a pickup truck or trailer rails and can be positioned anywhere along the rail

Mount in pickup truck stake pockets to create an easy-to-access tie-down point

Attach to a flat surface and provide a tie-down point for rope. They usually have a ring or open hook to attach a tie down

Attach to the surface of a truck bed or trailer and have D-rings that fold or retract out of the way when not needed

  • Track systems

Use strips of track that can be mounted on flat surfaces of trucks. These strips can receive special, snap-in connectors.

Ramps and Accessories

9. Loading Ramps

Protecting your truck bed starts before you load it.


If you’re transporting heavy vehicles like motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, golf carts or snowmobiles, you can easily damage your truck during the loading and unloading process. One key way to prevent damage is to use a good quality loading ramp.


When selecting a ramp, you’re buying more than a piece of metal. Having a well-constructed ramp allows you to avoid injury while loading and can help protect both motorcycle, ATV, UTV and other vehicles as well as your truck or trailer.

Using a well-designed loading ramp can also help you to avoid scratching or denting your tailgate and truck bed during the loading process.

There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting a loading ramp, so to help you we’ve created a more detailed guide.

10. Straps and Accessories

Having the right straps and accessories can also make a difference. Using straps with galvanized ratchets allow you to create a taut connection between your cargo and your anchor points.

If you’re transporting a motorcycle or dirt bike, you might also want to consider using a wheel chock to keep your vehicle in place.

Build a Better Truck Bed

If you’re ready to put your truck to use while protecting your truck bed, using these options will help you to load, unload and hit the road with a minimum of damage to your truck and your cargo. They will also provide the peace of mind knowing that you’re preserving the long-term value of your truck.

9 Winter Car Care Tips To Protect Your Ride Through Cold Weather

It happens every winter.

It’s freezing outside and you rush to your car to get warm. You can’t get your door unlocked, or you have trouble starting your car because of the cold weather…

Or maybe you’re running late for work, find your car has been covered in snow and need to use a shovel and scraper to rescue your car. Or maybe you’re on the road and you run low on wiper fluid, which makes it even harder to see because your headlights are dim.

The simple truth is that winter is a terrible season for your car. In some areas AAA has seen a 200% increase in help requests during the winter. If you don't take preventative measures to take care of your car, you may be waiting in the cold for a while.

If you want to protect your car and yourself, it’s a good idea to perform a round of winter car maintenance before the season begins and to exercise care when maintaining your car throughout the colder months.

To get you started, here are 9 winter car care maintenance tips that can not only protect your car from Mother Nature, but can also save you time, frustration and money throughout the colder months.

These are the top winter car care tips:

  • Fight for your finish
  • Check your car’s battery
  • Keep your car covered
  • Get new wiper blades
  • Evaluate your headlight brightness
  • Replenish the fluids
  • Don’t tread lightly
  • Maintain control
  • Be prepared for emergencies


Next, we’ll get into specific details about each of these topics, and offer specific recommendations to help you through the winter.

1. Fight for your finish

During the winter, your car’s finish is at greater risk than any other time of the year. Cold can make your paint brittle, rock salt can stick to your car and corrode your finish. Even the simple act of removing ice and snow in the morning can leave scratches.

Investing in a thorough waxing or paint sealant can make a big difference. Also, while it may seem counter-intuitive, it’s a good idea to get your car cleaned during the winter months in order to remove rock salt and other corrosives. This may be the time to splurge on the occasional trip to the car wash.

Also, be careful when cleaning your car. While a scraper may be necessary to remove ice from windows, your paint can be scratched by nylon snow brushes. Instead, invest in a foam brush. It can quickly remove snow and won’t damage your car’s exterior.

Of course, if your car is covered, you won’t need to scrape at all. Just remove the cover and go.

2. Check your car’s battery

When the temperature drops, your battery is more likely to fail. In fact, a battery that's merely weak during the summer could die in the winter.

This is because the chemical processes that make your battery work are weakened by the cold. In the winter, a car battery can lose between 35% to 60% of its strength. If your battery is reaching the end of its life (3-5 years) it’s more likely that your battery will fail.

To prevent getting stuck with a dead battery, it’s a good idea to perform a volt test to ensure your battery is in good working order. You can do this yourself or have it tested at a service station, auto parts store or repair shop.

If the charge on your car battery is weak, buy a new battery as soon as possible. That way, you won’t have to worry about being stuck at home, in a cold parking lot or worse with a car that won't start.

3. Keep your car covered



There’s another way to keep your car protected year-round. Use high-quality car covers  or truck covers. The right cover can keep ice and snow from accumulating on your vehicle, protect your finish and make it easier to get your car started in the morning.

For all-weather protection, look for a cover with:

  • Hydrophobic coating that repels water including ice and snow
  • Straps, buckles or elastic hems to secure your cover in place and ensures that your cover won’t get blown away by the wind
  • Durable construction and sealed seams to keep moisture from coming through
  • UV resistant coating to protect your car from fading in bright winter sunlight

4. Get new wiper blades

In snowy conditions, you need your windshield wipers to keep your vision clear. Having the right wiper blades can make all the difference. 

Testing by Consumer Reports has demonstrated that even the best-performing wiper blades can lose their effectiveness in as little as six months. Streaks or missed sections of glass are sure signs that the blades are ready for retirement.

We recommend replacing wiper blades as often as twice per year. Most wiper blades are easy to install, and some stores will perform the replacement work free of charge.

Also, don't try to use the wipers to remove ice from the windshield. Instead, use an ice scraper and/or a de-icing solution on frosty mornings. If you park your car outside, place the wipers in the raised position. That will keep them from freezing to the windshield.

5. Evaluate your headlight brightness

As the temperatures get colder, the days also get shorter. You need to make sure your headlight bulbs aren’t dimming with age.

Headlights should be changed every 2000 miles, and you might want to consider upgrading to brighter, more eco-friendly bulbs. You’ll see better and these bulbs can last even longer.

6. Replenish the fluids

During the winter, it’s always a good idea to make sure that all of your car's fluid levels are full.

This may include:

Gasoline: You should try to keep your gas tank full for several reasons, like the fact that a full tank may prevent accumulated water from freezing inside your fuel pump. This can help you stay warm in other ways, like by keeping the engine running when you get stuck in a snowstorm.

Washer Fluid: Need to keep your windshields free of ice, dirt, mud and debris? A full windshield-washer reservoir is tremendously important, as messy road debris from a snowstorm can necessitate constant window washing to see where you're going.

Antifreeze: This keeps the engine from freezing in cold temperatures, so make sure your car isn't low on coolant and that there aren't any leaks that could cause coolant to drain out. Want to get the most from your antifreeze? Mechanics recommend drivers use a 50/50-mix of coolant and water in their radiators, which usually results in a lower engine freezing point than just coolant.

Before the season starts, check your fluid levels. Many garages or oil change locations will do it as an added service.

7. Don’t Tread Lightly

Investing in winter tires or snow tires is a good idea if you live in an area where the temperature regularly drops below 45 degrees. These tires are better at staying flexible in low temperature. This provides improved traction and control.

It's incredibly important to keep track of your tire pressure as temperatures get colder. Driving around with low tire pressure could mean premature tire wear or potential tread separation, which could lead to a major accident. Also, your car handles less predictably with underinflated tires.

It's also good to make sure your spare tire is in good condition and that you have your change kit available.

8. Maintain Control

It’s already hard to keep your car warm in the winter, if you can’t control the temperature inside your car it’s even harder. Another good winter car care maintenance tip is to check your car's window defroster, your climate control system and if applicable, your car’s built-in window defrosters.

Make sure these items are still in operational condition and that your dashboard controls are working properly.

If your dashboard warning lights are blinking, it’s also a good idea to get them checked before a simple warning becomes a big problem.

9. Be prepared for emergencies

When Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head, it never hurts to plan for the worst. Have an emergency kit in your car. This may include:

  • Lock de-icer
  • Hand warmers
  • Extra blanket and/or extra clothes
  • Rock salt, kitty litter or gravel for traction
  • Jumper cables or a battery charger
  • Cell phone charger
  • Fix-a-flat

Hopefully, you won’t need to use any of these items, but it’s still always better to be safe than sorry.

Protect Your Car with These Winter Maintenance Tips

The winter can be tough on any vehicle, but by taking the appropriate preventative measures, you can ensure you and your car are safe even through the worst conditions. Follow these tips, be safe and enjoy the ride all the way through the spring.

Where & How To Store Your Boat During The Off-Season

As temperatures get colder, the day must come when you need to come up with some ideas to store your boat for the season.


Whether it’s your first time storing your boat or if you’re an experienced boat owner, you’ve probably asked yourself these questions before: 

Where do I store my boat? What options are available? Will it be safe? Will it be weather-controlled?

There are plenty of options available, but before you store your boat it’s a good idea to do your homework and make sure your boat is ready to be stored.

Before You Store Your Boat

We’ve mentioned many of these points in our article on boat maintenance, but here are a few key tasks to take care of when preparing your boat for the winter.

1. Take One Last Trip

Your last trip of the season should be one to enjoy, at the same time you should also take advantage of the opportunity observe your boat while it’s in motion to see if anything could stand to be repaired or replaced before you commit to your boat to winter storage.

Even if a problem seems small, cold winter temperatures can exacerbate many small problems and make them worse by winter. Getting necessary repairs done before you place your boat or Jet Ski into storage is important.

2. Spit and Polish

Once you have hauled your boat out of the water for the season, make sure that you give it a thorough cleaning.

While every boat has different needs, the following are some good first steps:

  • Remove your boat's bilge drain plug.

  • Scrub your decks and hull to remove slime, grime, barnacles and other gunk that has built up over the season.
  • Clean the strainers and thru-hulls
  • Drain your boat's seacocks
  • Give your boat a thorough internal cleaning, and check your refrigerators, nobody wants to start the season with the smell of something that has spoiled over several months.

3. Keep Your Boat is Covered in Storage

No matter how you prepare your boat or where you choose to store it. One of the most important things you can do to store your boat for the winter is to  keep it covered with a high-quality boat cover.


Whether you’re looking for a  standard boat, pontoon boat cover or bass boat cover, if you’re storing your boat outdoors, make sure that your cover is strong enough to protect it from all the elements. This doesn’t just include wind and rain but also fading from the sun and exposure to environmental pollutants such as pollen, tree sap, leaves, bird droppings and more. Ideally having a cover that can keep out insects, rodents and other pests is also a plus.

Covers should also be designed so that the inner layer doesn’t scratch or damage your boat’s finish. They should also be designed to promote air flow to keep moisture from accumulating. This can help prevent the build-up of mold and mildew and also prevent rust and corrosion.

Of course, a cover is only effective if it stays securely connected to your boat. Having a cover with tie down straps, grommets for cables and/or an elastic hem can keep your cover in place even in the windiest conditions.

Even if you store your boat in a garage or indoor storage facility, putting on an indoor cover can help protect your boat from grit, dust and other pollutants that can build-up in closed spaces.

In addition to covering the boat, consider separate covers for your outboard motors and even for your seats. Every bit of coverage contributes to a boat that will be ready for you when it’s time to take your boat out again.

4. Go High and Dry

Once your boat is clean, you need to get it as dry as possible before it can be stored. This means draining all water away from the boat. To do this, raise the bow to drain out all the water.

Once that’s been done, allow time for any additional moisture to evaporate before you put your boat into storage. Otherwise, you run the risk of mold and mildew.

5. Wax On

Once you have finished all the above steps, give your boat thorough waxing. It will protect your finish and also help prevent rust and corrosion.

Ready, Set, Store Your Boat

Once your boat is ready there are many options available, both for outdoor boat storage and inside boat storage. In either case, options will vary based on location.

1. Park your boat in the Driveway

The most cost-effective place to store your boat is your own driveway. Before you settle for this option, check to see if there are any neighborhood restrictions that may result in fees or fines.

Once you’ve parked your boat, you’ll need to make sure it stays protected from the elements and from environmental pollutants such as pollen, tree sap, dust and leaves.


2. Store your boat in the garage

If you have a garage that is large enough to fit your boat, that’s obviously a great low-cost solution. While you won’t have to worry about protecting your boat from the elements, there is still a risk of your boat getting scratched or damaged by insects, rodents, dust or other potential hazards in the garage. It also means less room to store your car.

3. Dock your boat for the winter


This may only be an option in warmer climates, but if you can keep your boat in the water year round, then you can access it at any time without going to the trouble of transferring it from dry land to water.

On the other hand, boat owners should factor in docking fees and security into their decision. Also, having a boat in the water means that, in addition to sun, weather and environmental pollutants, boat owners need to remember that long-term exposure to water can erode their paint and contribute to rust and corrosion. It can also cause blistering and warping of the hull. Of course, your boat will also be susceptible to barnacles, slime and everything else in the water that can stick to your hull.

4. Dry Rack Boat Storage


Another popular option in coastal areas are dry rack storage facilities. These indoor and outdoor facilities use forklifts to stack multiple boats on top of enormous racks.

The benefits are that by keeping your boat off the ground, you can protect it from the elements and by keeping in near the water you have easy access. In addition, there is added security in the fact that it’s harder to steal a boat from these facilities without a forklift.

However, boat winter storage costs can equal hundreds of dollars a month and demand for spaces can make it hard to find. It’s also important to remember that if you want to retrieve your boat, you’re at the mercy of the storage staff.

Also, every boat is different, so before you store your boat make sure the available racks can support the weight and shape of your boat.

5. Self-Storage

If rack storage isn’t available in your area, there are many self-storage facilities that can accommodate boats as well as other large vehicles.

One of the big questions to ask at a self-storage facility is the level of security. Does the facility offer gated entry? What kind of onsite management and security coverage can the facility offer? Are alarms or other security measures in place?

Like a rack storage facility, you also need to make sure that your boat rack can handle the weight and shape of your boat, especially when the weather changes.

Keep Your Boat Protected with these Winter Storage Tips

The winter can be tough on your boat, but by preparing and storing it properly, you can ensure that your boat will be ship shape and ready to enjoy when the weather gets warmer.

Boat Maintenance Checklist For First-Timers & Seasoned Captains

Owning a boat can be wonderful. It gives you the ability to get on the water, spend time with family and just get away from it all.

However, many first-time boat owners may not be aware of the maintenance necessities that come with owning a boat.

One important first step is to put together a boat maintenance checklist. This will provide you with guidance and accountability when you’re performing regular and seasonal boat maintenance.

To get you started, the following are some key items to consider when building your boat safety checklist. We’ll go into each in greater detail below, but before we get started, let’s just go down the list.

Boat Maintenance Checklist

This is a good general list to get started, but your checklist should develop over time. You can try our templated version or make your boating maintenance a little more custom depending on your needs.

Here’s the list:

1. Give it a good cleaning

One of the easiest boat maintenance tasks is to clean your boat.

If you boat in salt water, rinse with fresh water after every excursion. Not only will salt will corrode metal, fasteners and hardware, but it will also eat away at your boat’s gelcoat.

Even if you sail in fresh water, giving your boat a regular cleaning will make it look good and extend its life.

Ideally, you should use a soft-bristle boat brush and Marine Boatwash. In a pinch, car wash soap is a good back up option, followed by laundry soap.

2. Check your fuel system

A simple rule of boating is that your boat can’t go if it isn’t getting any fuel, and when you’re on the water you can’t walk to the nearest service station.

Inspect your fuel system for leaks or damage. Today’s small leak can be a big problem if left unattended. Also be sure to pay attention to fuel hoses, connections and tank surfaces, check for corrosion and look for evidence of softness, brittleness or cracking.

Don’t be shy about replacing these parts when necessary and then double-check to make sure all fittings and clamps have been properly secured.

Another piece of advice is to keep the tank nearly full when you’re on land. As temperatures fluctuate throughout the year, moist air can seep into an empty tank. Keeping your tank full keeps this moist air out. This helps preserve your fuel mix and keeps contaminants from building up in your fuel tank.

3. Cover and store properly

When you’re not on the water, one of the easiest ways to maintain your boat is to put a cover on it. Whether it’s a motorboat, pontoon boat or bass boat, a well-designed cover doesn’t just protect your boat from the elements, it can also prevent condensation from building up and contaminating your boat’s engines.

Having a cover that can be secured to your boat while trailering is an added bonus. This provides an extra level of protection that can keep your boat running longer and with fewer maintenance issues.

4. Maintain belts, cables and hoses

When the temperature drops, belts, cables and hoses can become brittle and crack or swell. Cracks or swells on the outer jacket of the throttle, shift and steering control cables may be a sign of internal corrosion and an indicator of imminent failure. This can cause a vital system to fail when your boat is in motion.

Also, check to make sure that belts are tight around pulleys so that they don’t slip. A good way to look for black residue near the pulley. This is often the sign of friction caused by a loose, worn or misaligned belt.

5. Evaluate your electrical system

It’s a basic rule of science that water (especially salt water) metal and electricity don’t mix.

That’s why it’s important to perform regular checks on your boat’s electrical systems. Take the time to inspect all electrical connections to ensure that they’re clean, tight and corrosion free. If you find a corroded terminal, remove them and use a wire brush to clean them, along with all cable ends.

In our winter car maintenance article, we talked about the importance of keeping your car battery charged. This is even more important for your boat. Remember to charge your battery and have it tested regularly to ensure it can hold a charge.

Even if you’re comfortable with routine maintenance, it’s always a good idea to hire a professional. An inspection by a qualified technician can help identify problems that you might have missed otherwise.

6. Check all fluid levels

We already talked about keeping your gas tank full, but it’s also a good idea to regularly check all of your fluid levels including engine oil, power steering, power trim reservoirs and coolant.

Lower than expected levels may also indicate a leak in the system. Performing regular oil changes can also help keep contaminants out of your system and allow your engine to run cleaner.

7. Replace damaged propellers and hull

Boat maintenance is an inside and outside proposition, so it’s important to perform regular checks on your propellers. Look for dings, pitting, cracks and distortion. Chipped paint is okay, but damage to your propeller can affect performance and reduce your fuel efficiency. In addition, a damaged propeller can vibrate which puts stress on the bearings and seals, leading to additional damage.

During the season, it’s a good idea to check your propeller as a part of your pre-launch routine. Also, remove your propeller and inspect it several times during the season. This gives you an opportunity to put waterproof grease on the shaft to prevent corrosion from “freezing” the shaft. It also provides you with the opportunity to re-tighten the assembly so that it performs with maximum efficiency.

Also, make sure that your propeller shaft isn’t wrapped up by any fishing lines, they can cause gear case leaks that will need to be repaired by a professional.

8. Perform outboard motor maintenance

If your boat has an outboard motor, don’t forget that it needs the same level of maintenance as every other part of your boat.

In particular, it’s important to flush out your outboard motor after every excursion, whether it’s on salt water or fresh water.

To do this, simply start up the engine and the water pump will do the rest

While you're doing this, check the water pump to make sure it has good water flow. Outflowing water should be warm, not hot.

If the water output is not strong, there may be debris stuck in the outflow tube. To remedy this, shut down the engine, insert a small piece of wire into the flow tube, then work it back and forth to clear the pipe. Then start the engine again and check the output. If that doesn't solve the problem, consider a new water pump.

Once you’ve flushed the engine, you should also do the following:

  • Disconnect the fuel line and allow the engine to burn all the fuel in the carburetor.
  • Take the engine cowling off and check for fuel or water leaks. If you find leaks, consult your boating mechanic.
  • Wipe down all metal contact points and spray with an anti-corrosive like WD 40 or Quick-lube.
  • Lubricate all the moving parts, such as the shift, throttle cables and carburetor valves.
  • Replace the cowling and wipe it down.

At the end of the season, it’s a good idea to drain your tanks. Then take the fuel to the proper recycling authority.

It’s also a good idea to keep your outboard motor covered between trips. This prevents condensation and debris from accumulating and keeps your outboard motor cleaner.

9. Review and update your boat safety checklist

Before and after every trip, there are a number of steps that are advised by the U.S. Coast Guard.

These safety checklists cover a wide range of topics including:

  • Equipment requirements
  • Operating procedures
  • Law enforcement procedures
  • Safety checks
  • Safety and survival tips
  • Float plans
  • Emergency notification

Make sure that you have an updated guide, and make it a part of your overall boat maintenance checklist.

Check Your List and Stay Safe

Creating a checklist and using it consistently is an important part of any water safety plan. While this list can get you started, continually building and maintaining your boat.

Empire Gives - Universal Alcorn Charter School

Universal Alcorn Charter School, Philadelphia, PA

Teacher: Ms. Jane Graham, 5th Grade ELA Teacher

Project: Upgrading classroom library and giving students books that will foster their love for reading for life!

For our first Empire Gives project, we selected Universal Alcorn Charter School, which serves low-income students right here in the Philadelphia area.

Here’s the Project Request:

My Students

I recently moved into 4th/5th grade ELA position with 65 students. My students are incredibly passionate about school and their learning! They love every chance they get to read, especially during free time. I moved from a 1st grade position and do not have books for them to read on their levels. They would absolutely love a classroom library with books on their grade level.

Many of my students live in a high-need community where many come from at-risk homes.

With students living in these conditions, school does not come as a first priority. Therefore, I want to do everything I can to make a positive impact on student achievement and help them be successful.

My Project

The books and book bins that I have requested already have a "home." I have a bookshelf in my classroom waiting to be filled with genuine literature for my students to ready. I have included classic books that I enjoyed reading as a child and books that are popular now. Both, of which, I know that all of my students will enjoy.

The donations to this project will help to improve my students' fluency and comprehension abilities in reading, as well as their love for literature in general.

My students already love to read and are always asking for books to read. By donating to this project, you will be able to give them the books and more. My English Language Arts classroom will finally be complete with a classroom library full of authentic literature.

After finding this project, we decided to make this our first fundraising effort in our home state of Pennsylvania and donated the full amount requested. This allowed to provide Ms. Graham’s classroom with copies of the following well-loved books:

  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
  • Holes by Louis Sachar

…and 26 other titles.

We are excited to hear that Ms. Graham’s students will have access to these great books and are thrilled that we will be helping to foster their love of reading.

8 Do It Yourself Car Cleaning Tricks To Keep Your Exterior Pristine

Cars and trucks get dirty. No matter how much we try to keep our cars clean, they’re never as clean as we’d like them to be, both inside and out.


That’s a shame because you spend a lot of time in your car and when you have a clean car, you feel better about yourself. In fact, studies have shown that living in a clean environment can improve your mood by 50%.


More than that, keeping your car clean can increase the resale value of your car by several hundred dollars.


Also, not keeping your car clean can have a cumulative effect:


  • Tree sap, pollen, bird droppings, and other environmental pollutants can damage your paint
  • Dust can clog vents and air filters
  • Dirt and grit can wear down your upholstery
  • Sunlight can fade your finish


The good news is that a little care and a few car washing hacks can help you keep your car looking like new for years to come.


Detailing Works, But May Not Be Right For You


While an exterior car wash can help, a simple pass through the self-serve car-wash can’t deal with everything that is affecting your car, and high-powered brushes that aren’t replaced or maintained can actually scratch your finish.


Unless you can afford professional detailing on a regular basis you’re not just dealing with a dirtier car, you’re also decreasing the value of your car. At the same time, professional detailing can cost between $50 and $150.


If you’re planning to use a do it yourself car wash to save money on detailing, or simply looking for tips on how to clean your car exterior, here are a few sensible and unexpected car detailing hacks for you.


DIY Car Cleaning Tips


We’ll go into each of these in more detail, if you’re considering going do-it-yourself with you car wash regimen, the following things can go a long way.


  • Choose your cleaners wisely
  • Use microfiber cloths
  • Put a cover on it
  • Don’t spin your wheels
  • Prevent bugs from sticking around
  • Use a makeup brush
  • Consider using toothpaste
  • Use the right window cleaner


That’s the shortlist, but read on to find out the secret behind each of these tips and tricks.


1. Be careful with cleaners


You wouldn’t use laundry detergent in the shower. Why? Because it would likely irritate your skin. All too often, car owners don’t apply the same wisdom to their car care. In fact, using liquid detergent or dish cleaner can damage the paint and strip away wax.


Instead, use a car washing soap, and read the label to make sure you’re properly applying the cleaner to the surface of your car. Otherwise, you may find that your car cleaner will simply add another unwanted layer of contamination to your car.


2. Use microfiber cloths


When cleaning your car, invest in microfiber rags. Microfiber cloths are made from a synthetic material made from tiny strands that are 1% the diameter of a human hair. These strands are made from extremely strong fibers like nylon, Kevlar or polyester. This makes them durable.


Because the fibers are so fine, more dust and dirt get pulled away from the surface of the car. When you use other types of cloth, you run the risk of dirt not being absorbed, but simply re-distributed across the surface of your car. When you’ve washed your car, use microfiber cloths to dry as well.


Remember to rinse and wring out the cloths regularly. They’re tough, they can take it.


3. Put a cover on It


There’s another way to keep your car protected year-round. Use a car cover or truck cover.


Whether you store your car in a private garage, a parking lot, the street or a driveway your car is at risk from exposure to the elements. Putting the right cover on your car can keep it safe from:


  • Rain
  • Snow
  • Ice
  • Dirt
  • Tree sap
  • Pollen


4. Don’t spin your wheels


Another important DIY car hack is to make sure you’re using the right cleaner for your wheels. The same cleaner that works on your aluminum or chrome wheels can eat away at your coated, painted or anodized wheels.


If you don't know what type of wheels you have, then go with an acid-free cleaner. If you find it’s still not working, you can always upgrade to something stronger.


Keep in mind that tires get dirty, and not just from road dust. If you haven’t cleaned your car in a while, you may also want to look for a cleaner that can remove dust from your brakes.


5. Prevent bugs from sticking around


This car life hack may seem a little strange, but if your car is covered with bugs, use dryer sheets to wipe them away and the bugs come right off. Not only that, dryer sheets are a natural bug repellent.


Some suspect it may be because of the linalool and beta-citronellol that are found in these sheets, ingredients that seem to repel insects.


6. Apply your makeup (brush)


Looking for a way to get dust out of cracks and air filters? Use a makeup brush and vacuum. The makeup brush can reach into the smallest cracks and loosen the dust and finer particles. Then the vacuum can suction them up before they have a chance to resettle.


7. Consider using toothpaste


Over time, your headlights can get cloudy as dirt and grime build-up on polycarbonate or plastic lenses.


To buff these contaminants from your headlights:


  1. Wash your headlights with soap and water
  2. Put masking tape around the areas surrounding your headlight
  3. Put a generous amount of toothpaste on a soft cloth and rub in small circles.
  4. Rinse with water and let air dry


The mild abrasive in the toothpaste will buff the surface and remove the dirt and grime.


Don’t forget your toothbrush, when you’re cleaning the interior, it’s great for getting into all kinds of cracks and crevices without scratching the upholstery.


8. Windows on the world


When cleaning your car windows, stay away from Windex and other glass cleaners that contain ammonia, it can damage your window tint. Instead look for a cleaner that is designed specifically for car windows.


When cleaning your windshield wipers, rub them down with rubbing alcohol, this will prevent the wipers from leaving smears on your windshield.


DIY Your Way to a Cleaner Car


Keeping your car clean without paying for professional detailing can take a little bit of work and a little bit of planning, but the results will be a safer car that you’ll be happier to spend time in and boost in your resale value down the road.