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Tom & Erin's Car Care Blog

June 2017

Safety Around Schools

It’s about time for school to finish up for the year. But don’t get too excited, because it’s still critical that you’re focused when you’re driving to pick up your kids or passing by a school. Every year, pedestrians are injured because both they and a driver weren’t paying attention. Around a school, it’s important to be extra alert. The younger they are, the less likely they are to be alert to what’s going on around them.

Kids, ideally, are taught to look both ways when crossing the street, but if something else has drawn their limited focused, they might dart across the street suddenly and without looking. Because they’re small, you can’t always see them coming, either, so when you’re passing by cars, be aware in case a child steps out from behind one. Or, if you’re backing up, make sure there are no children around your car because some children don’t always know what the reverse lights on a vehicle mean.

Pay attention to the time of day, too. If you’re driving by as school is getting ready to begin or just ending, expect there to be plenty of pedestrian traffic. But even during evenings, and throughout the Summer, remember that there might be other events going on at a school. If you see a lot of cars parked, expect that there’s at least potential for there to be ample pedestrian traffic. If you see school buses, parked or in motion, that’s an even more obvious sign. Don’t forget, when a school bus puts out its stop sign, that means traffic in both directions stops.

Remember to make pedestrian’s lives easier by not blocking crosswalks. And when you see a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk, it’s probably stopped for pedestrians, so don’t change lanes and zoom by it. Many people don’t know this, but in Oregon, all intersections are considered crosswalks. According to this State of Oregon publication:

“A crosswalk exists at any public street intersection, whether marked with paint or unmarked. Crosswalks also exist between intersections (mid-block) only if they are marked with white painted lines.”

“Under Oregon law, a pedestrian is crossing the roadway in a crosswalk when any part or extension of the pedestrian, including but not limited to any part of the pedestrian’s body, wheelchair, cane, crutch or bicycle, moves into the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed.”

All the usual good driving advice applies here as well. Get off your phone, and leave plenty of space for braking. The penalties for breaking the law in a school zone are increased, and you’re not likely to get sympathy from the legal system when you’re breaking the rules in a school zone. But you’re not alone in this; everyone else needs to be responsible too. And while you can’t force good behavior on the part of other people around you, one thing that you can do is talk to your kids about traffic safety. They need to be alert as they moving around outside schools just as much as you do. It’s important for them to understand that they need to pay attention just as much as drivers.

May 2017
Tom and Erin Watson

What To Do If Your Vehicle Overheats

One thing we’ve been dealing with lately at Tom’s Bulldog Automotive in Coos Bay, is overheated vehicles. These vehicles have cooling system issues, often caused by a failed head gasket. If your vehicle has a blown head gasket, for example, it can cause catastrophic damage. There is an excellent blog article here that describes the symptoms of a blown head gasket that explains everything in great detail.

But what should you do if you’re ever in a situation where your engine becomes overheated? Here are a few safety tips to consider:

Safely pull over and shut off your engine. -- If you’re driving along and your dashboard indicates the engine temperature is dangerously high, pull over immediately and turn off your car. The longer your force your vehicle to drive while it’s overheated, the higher the risk of catastrophic damage to your engine.

Don’t touch the radiator cap or remove it. -- Unless you have the desire to suffer major burns, stay far away from the radiator cap, and never try to remove it. An overheated engine can hurt you, or anyone standing near the engine compartment, if you are foolish enough to remove the radiator cap. Don’t do it.

Allow your vehicle to cool down. -- Yes, you may be inconvenienced because your car overheated, but you must allow your vehicle to cool down first before trying to drive it again. Plus, it will easier to address the problems when the engine has a chance to cool.

Determine if you should call a tow truck. -- Your safety should be your biggest concern. A tow truck can move you and your vehicle to a safer destination. Better yet, a tow truck can drive you and your vehicle straight to Tom’s Bulldog Automotive in Coos Bay for a complete cooling system inspection and auto repair.

Fill it with coolant fluid. -- After your vehicle cools down to room temperature, you may remove the radiator cap and fill it with antifreeze. Most common vehicles do not recommend you add water. Instead, refill with coolant.

Check your hoses. -- Do your hoses show any signs of tears, leaks, or clogs? Are any of the hoses disconnected? If you’re not sure, our ASE-Certified technicians can inspect the hoses for you and give you a full report of what needs to be replaced.

Keep an eye on the temperature gauge. -- If you opt out of calling a tow truck and you’re determined to drive your vehicle to your favorite mechanic, pay attention to that temperature gauge. If you let the engine overheat again, you’ll be back at square one, pull over to a safe spot, and turn off your engine.

Maintain your vehicle. -- Truth be told, when you maintain your vehicle on a regular basis, chances for you to have a cooling system failure drops exponentially. Preventive maintenance is not only your most affordable option when it comes to auto repair costs, but it also provides peace of mind. In our experience, having peace of mind is worth far more than saving a couple of bucks by delaying your vehicle's’ regular service. Procrastination has the potential to become very expensive.

If you ever have cooling system, head gasket, or engine repair issues, we invite you to come and see us at Tom’s Bulldog Automotive in Coos Bay, OR. We service all vehicles that operate on gasoline and diesel, but we also service medium duty vehicles, like Sprinter vans, F-450-F750, Fed Ex trucks, Cab over Isuzu, etc. At Tom’s Bulldog Automotive, our first priority is to listen to you and your needs, and then we listen to your car. That’s what has allowed us to build solid, long-term relationships with our customers.

Tom’s Bulldog Automotive: Where we take a bite out of breakdowns. You can find us at 63075 Highway 101, Coos Bay, OR 97420. Schedule your appointment or call us today at 541-269-0399. You’ll be glad you did!

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