You may take care of the outside of your car by washing it, but what about the germs inside?
The steering wheel, gear shifter, space near the cup holder, window switches and door handles are areas where bacteria and other germs are commonly found in cars, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Germs left by one person may be transmitted to others, which is why it’s a good idea to consider disinfecting your car.
Here are some tips to help tackle germs in your car:
Clean the Steering Wheel
Using disinfecting wipes or a clean rag and some interior car cleaning solution can help clean up your steering wheel, The Family Handyman says.
Disinfect the Cup Holder
Some cup holders have small crevices that can be hard to reach with a cleaning rag. The Family Handyman suggests dipping a cotton swab in cleaning solution, then swiping small areas. If the cup holder is removable, it may be easier to take it out and run it through the dishwasher for a more thorough cleaning, Good Housekeeping says.
Wash Door Handles and Window Controls
Plastic parts inside your car can be washed with household hard-surface cleaner, Consumer Reports says. Use a clean rag to wipe down your door handles and window controls. You may also want to disinfect the dashboard, which can be another place prone to bacteria, Good Housekeeping says.
Other Car Sanitation Tips
If you bring your own bags when you shop, don’t store them in your car, FoodSafety.gov suggests. Reusable bags used to carry food may come into contact with bacteria like Salmonella and E.coli, and those germs tend to grow faster in higher temperatures, such as in a car or trunk. FoodSafety.gov says it’s best to store reusable bags in a cool, dry place and wash them often.
Bacteria can also grow on food that’s spilled in your car, according to the Healthy House Institute (HHI). In one study, food spilled on a dashboard had 10 times the bacteria than the seat belt or radio dial, according to the HHI. Cleaning up spills promptly may help keep germs to a minimum.
Bacteria and other germs can gather in the areas of your car you and your passengers touch the most. Regularly disinfecting key areas of your car may help keep germs at bay, and allow you to ride in a cleaner and healthier environment.
Originally published on October 7, 2013.
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One-finger driving leaves you vulnerable to the unexpected.
Driving during the winter can pose challenges for any driver. But if you have an electric car, there are some additional factors to consider — especially when it comes to the battery. The cold may affect your electric car’s range — and the last thing you want is to be stranded with a dead battery.
Here’s what to know about your electric car and how to maximize your battery’s range during the winter months.
Why Is the Range Reduced in Cold Weather?
The cold temperatures slow down your electric car battery’s chemistry, according to Car and Driver. That slowdown means the battery pack has less energy to move the electric car, effectively shortening the driving range. Additionally, cold batteries take longer to charge and do not hold the power as well, according to Energy.gov.
In a study of electric car batteries in different climates, researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory found the lower the temperature, the longer it took to charge the battery. For example, when the temperature was 77 degrees Fahrenheit, it took about 30 minutes to charge the battery to 80 percent capacity. But at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, it only charged 51 percent in half an hour. Under the coldest conditions, the Idaho National Laboratory said, charging took about three times longer than it did at warmer temperatures.
Another big factor that may affect your electric car is the heater. Using the heater in the cabin, especially in electric cars, uses more energy from the battery than is needed in more modest temperatures, according to Energy.gov.
How Do You Get More Range?
Here are a few suggestions for maximizing the range in your electric car’s battery.
Use Seat Warmers Instead of Cabin Heater
According to Energy.gov, heated accessories such as seat warmers and heated steering wheels use less energy than the cabin heater, because the cabin heater heats the entire inside of your electric car. Using these accessories can help minimize the need for that while still keeping you warm.
Preheat Your Car While It’s Still Plugged In
Warming up your battery and cabin while the car is plugged in allows your car to use electricity from the grid, rather than from the battery itself, Energy.gov says. The Idaho National Laboratory suggests that charging your car in a warm garage may also help avoid the inconvenient effects cold weather has on charging your battery.
FuelEconomy.gov suggests checking your electric car’s owners manual for the best ways to maximize fuel economy, driving range and battery life. Energy.gov recommends keeping your tires properly inflated, and FuelEconomy.gov advises using your car’s economy mode.
You’ll also want to avoid hard braking whenever possible, says FuelEconomy.gov. Electric cars have a regenerative braking system, which converts your car’s momentum to electrical power and returns it to the car, according to U.S. News and World Report. Hard braking causes the car to use its conventional friction brakes, which do not return energy to the vehicle.
Avoid Extra Weight on Your Car
According to Energy.gov, extra weight — such as snow or ice — requires your battery to work harder, affecting the range. So be sure to clear off any ice and snow from your vehicle before driving. It can also help to avoid carrying heavy cargo on the roof of your vehicle.
Now that you have some tips for maximizing your electric car’s range, you’re more prepared for safe winter travels.
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Shuttling between multiple jobs and day to day priorities, regular car maintenance is the last thing on anyone’s mind. In other cases, getting a reliable opinion can be hard - especially when you’re short on time.