Tips For A Healthy Life When You Work On The Road

Being an owner-driver with haulage contracts has many benefits. You’re free to set your own schedule and can pursue other interests; you’re not tied to a cubicle instead spending your days outdoors in the sun and fresh air; and you get to see a great many places and meet new people every day. Still, despite its many advantages, one main drawback is that, on the road, staying healthy can sometimes be a bit of a challenge.

Getting Enough Sleep
Because owner-drivers with haulage contracts generally absorb all the costs involved in the transport, minimising expenses is crucial. For many owner-drivers, one of the most obvious costs they can cut is accommodation and they prefer to sleep in the cab of their trucks. However, a poor sleeping area can not only result in health problems, but can be downright dangerous for drivers. An uncomfortable bed can mean a sleepless night, and lack of sleep can result in dulled senses and poor reaction times – which can in turn result in an accident. In addition, poor back support, exacerbated by the fact that drivers spend most of their days just sitting, can result in back problems. If you must sleep in your cab, invest in the best mattress you can afford and prepare a comfortable sleeping space. A noise machine to block out outside outside interference may prove invaluable, as well as a portable heater and a portable fan.

Another reason drivers lose sleep is they sometimes prefer to push themselves, driving through the night rushing to meet a deadline. To avoid this situation, drivers need to set a reasonable schedule for themselves and manage their time wisely.

Eating Healthy
Truck-stop diners are popular because they offer hot food, fast and cheap. Many diners offer great tasting food but there may not be many healthy options available. A heavy meal can make a driver feel sluggish, which can be dangerous, and a steady diet of greasy and fatty food can result in long-term major health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. This can be exacerbated, as many owner-drivers trying to fulfill lucrative haulage contracts do not exercise as much as they should.

Having a small portable refrigerator filled with healthy snacks such as fruits and fruit juices, salad greens, and vegetable sticks can provide a nice break from all the fatty foods truck-stop fare. You can also store lower-fat and lower-sodium cold cuts and mayo/dressing either to create a quick salad with the salad greens or into sandwiches. Another good idea is to carry a portable grill-a quick stop at a local grocery for a turkey or chicken breast or a great cut of meat and some spices and you can eat like a king.

A common issue for those spending long hours on haulage contracts is back problems, due to sitting for long periods. Regular breaks for stretches and some light exercise such as walking or jogging a few laps around your truck can help prevent this and keep your muscles from seizing up at inconvenient times. Exercise will also help keep you awake and alert. Keeping a foldable bike can also be doubly useful-both as an exercise machine and in case your truck breaks down and you need to find a gas station!

Trade In Your Old VW For One That Fits Your Lifestyle Today

If you are still driving the same old VW you received as a gift from your parents ten years ago at your high school graduation, then it might be time for a change. You are surely different now. You probably have different goals and a different lifestyle.

You might love that VW. Maybe you really have babied it, and perhaps you actually took it to a dealership for all repairs. Even so, a new style will make you feel like a new person. This might be what you need to land a new job or at least help you with the old one. It might also attract the attention of the girl you were hoping would notice you. Those reasons are a little shallow, but the reality is that you should do this for you.

You might be fairly attached to your VW. Maybe you even gave it a name that you use when no one else is in the car. This decision to trade it in might be really difficult for you. If you are planning on trading in the vehicle for another Volkswagen, then you really should have one chosen. It is a good idea to have everything set up, so that that all you have to do is sign over your old car and sign yourself into a new vehicle.

Some moral support might be good too. Ask a friend to come along if you think you are going to back out. Tell him or her that you have to trade in your old vehicle, and ask him or her to not let you leave without doing this.

If you are not completely sure what type of car suits you the best, you might consider leasing. Talk to the dealership about putting the trade-in value towards a lease on a new car. This is a good option because in three years or so, you might be ready to try out a different vehicle, and around that time your lease will be up.

As you look at the VW vehicles that are available, write down your favorites from highest to lowest. You can begin leasing the one on the top of your list, and in a few years you can try the next if you did not like the first.

You might find that you like your new vehicle so much that you want to drive it for another three years, or you might actually decide to buy the vehicle you are leasing and have the payments that you have already paid applied to the overall cost.

Trading in your ten-year-old VW is not a mistake. It is a wise choice to do this while your vehicle is still trade-in worthy, so that you can move on to buying or leasing.

A Woman’s Guide to Buying a Good, Cheap Used Car

Having been married to a car dealer for many years and also worked a lot in the automotive industry myself, I can offer you a few hints you’ll find quite useful if you want to buy a low-cost used car that should give you decent value for your money.

Don’t go for a flashy model

Flashy cars that have a cool image are likely to have had the guts thrashed out of them by boy racers and other pond life. Choose a make and model that may be uncool and boring, but will probably have been driven well and cared for properly.

How many miles? Think of a number and triple it

Frankly, to look at the number of miles on the clock is an utter waste of time. Much as it’s illegal and everything there can’t be a used car dealer in the world who hasn’t given cars a “haircut:” trade jargon meaning that the mileage readout has been wound backwards. You’re more likely to gauge a car’s age by assessing a combination of factors. (See below)

Mileage: a highish one is not necessarily the end of the world

If the car you’re after has been a company car and driven by members of the sales force, say, there’s a good chance that most of its miles will have been accumulated on motorways (high speed highways), and it will have been serviced regularly. Within reason, such a car may be a better bet than a very low mileage car that’s been driven to the mall and back once a week at high revs in low gear and only serviced when the motor was burning blue smoke.

Condition of interior

Although the interior might have been “spivved” i.e. British slang for being cleaned up nicely, you’ll still be able to see signs of wear and tear on the dashboard, central console, steering wheel, and also whether the seats feel and look like soggy pancakes. That will tell you more about the age of the car than the outside which could have been resprayed (see below).

Condition of interior – foot pedals

Bearing in mind the general look of the interior, check the foot pedals. If they’re as worn as the interior is that’s OK, but if they look very new that means they have been replaced. The pedals, condition of interior and mileage should all agree with each other – if they don’t, be warned.

Bodywork – all-over paint job

Be guided by commonsense. Too bright and new looking and it’s likely to have been resprayed, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it has been done properly. Open the doors and see if the colour is the same on the panel ends, and check if the inside of the bonnet (hood) reveals any discrepancies. You may also see evidence when you look inside the engine (motor) bay.

Bodywork – paint job here or there

Especially if the car is red or a metallic colour, it’s usually very easy to see if one part of the bodywork (e.g. a fender) has been resprayed, suggesting some repaired accident damage, because the colours hardly ever match up exactly. The odd panel that’s slightly different shouldn’t be a worry because if it has been hit, one panel suggests a minor collision. More than one panel, though, and you should think twice: boot (trunk)/hatch and both rear quarters suggest a hard rear-end impact, and bonnet (hood) plus both front quarters, front panel etc. suggest a front-ender. See engine (motor), below. Another reason for partial respray is that the panel/panels concerned were badly rusted – avoid. Rust comes back again quickly.

Bodywork – filler

If the paint work looks like it’s suffering from slight cellulite it could be that damage and/or rust has been “pugged up” (slapped over with stuff that’s a little like the products you use before painting your walls) and painted over. This means that, because the metal underneath is damaged, moisture can creep into the cracks and rot the panel underneath the filler. There are two ways to check for filler: 1) tap around the panel with your knuckle or blunt piece of jewellery. The sound will be different on the filled areas. 2) Take a small magnet with you to view the car. It will stick to metal but not to filler.

Bodywork – gaps, creases and wobbly bits

Here’s where you really can freak the salesman out because unless he has fairly in-depth knowledge of post-accident damage repair he won’t know what the heck you’re doing. So smile. Have a slow walk around the car. Stand at one end and look along the roof towards the front. Can you see any dents or slight creases? If you can, it may mean the car has been in a hard collision and the structural integrity could have been compromised. Check the sides of the car for any wavy or wobbly sections which may have been cause by the same thing. Then, look at the gaps between panels – e.g. either side of the bonnet (hood). Are they equal in width? If not, it suggests the bonnet (hood) has been removed. Why? For painting, or because of an accident? Similarly check the gaps either side of the boot (trunk) or tailgate. If they are unequal that suggests a not-too-good repair. Beware of driver and front passenger doors that look saggy on their hinges, especially in a 2 or 3 door car. They’ll drop eventually and it may cost quite a lot to fix them.

Drive behind it if you can

This sounds silly, but if you can talk the salesman into driving it up the road with you following behind in your own car. Be sure you or your passenger has a square view of the used car. If it looks like it’s going along crookedly or in crab fashion, don’t touch it – its chassis may be twisted after a bad collision which could even be dangerous, never mind wearing tyres down at the speed of light. Also, while you’re driving behind the car you’ll see if it’s burning oil (blue smoke, suggesting worn engine/motor) or overheating (white steam) suggesting more mechanical problems.

Engine (motor) bay

Commonsense is key here and you don’t have to be a trained technician to see that an engine (motor) bay (compartment) that’s covered in filthy oil and muck is likely to have been around the block a few times. Get hold of some soft paper, pull out the dipstick and take a look at the oil level. If it’s very low and/or dirty it suggests neglect. Engines (motors) which are run on low and/or dirty oil don’t last very long. While you’re under the bonnet (hood), check along the sides and back of the area for any evidence of buckling or fresh welding – basically, if one part looks different to the rest, beware.

Get a “mechanic” to check it – worth it?

This depends. If you’re only paying a relatively small amount for a used car, one of these all-singing, all-dancing checks by the this-or-that automobile association is going to cost you a lot of money and only really point out all the little niggles that you would expect from a car of that age anyway. If you want to buy the car and you’re in the UK, it’s well worth saying you’ll have it conditional to its passing the UK’s MoT test, even if it still has time to run on its previous one. That will pick up any goofs in its emissions which can be expensive to fix and will check brakes and other safety issues.

Check it’s not on finance or lease

If the car only appears to have one set of keys and (in the UK) the logbook/V5 and other documentation have been “lost,” that could be because it’s either on finance or an unfinished lease. If you buy a car in these circumstances you could find yourself minus the car with no comeback on the dealer. Although it may not be worth spending money checking the mechanicals of the car, if you have any qualms about keys and documentation don’t touch it without first checking with a company like HPI in the UK, who charge about £20 (USD around $32.00), and there are even free services available. Find the best one for you by Googling “how to check if a car is on finance.”

Maintaining Your Car’s Electrical System

Today, more than ever, cars are reliant on a car’s electrical system to run properly. It used to be that voltage swings in cars, or even a thrown alternator belt, were things that could be shrugged off temporarily, and you could still get to a service station or your destination with only mild discomfort. Now, an under or overvoltage condition can cause your car to go into limp mode or even shut down completely. The sensors and electronic modules in today’s cars are sensitive to a specific voltage range, and the wrong voltage can send a wrong signal to the ECU, causing problems. And with the tendency of many owners to add aftermarket accessories to their car, it’s more important than ever to look after this system.

Basic care for your car’s electrical system is actually easier than caring for the mechanical components in the car. This is because all you need to do is visually check for corrosion or unusual signs in the system’s components, of which there are but the battery and the alternator. The starter is also one component of the electrical system but it’s rare for it to be cause of an electrical fault.

The most obvious component to the electrical system is the battery. Often, it sits on a tray in the engine compartment. In sports cars or cars with sporting purposes, the battery can be located at the rear of the car, where it helps with weight distribution and is isolated from temperature extremes. Wherever their location, batteries should be securely held down as a loose battery is a dangerous component to have flying around inside the engine. Poorly secured batteries will also be subject to more vibration than necessary, which could damage the plates inside, thereby shortening its life, often drastically. Check the terminals every couple of months for corrosion or loosening. If you see a whitish residue on them, remove the terminals and clean them with soap and water. It helps to put an anti-corrosive coating on them to prevent the condition from returning. Plain grease works. Minimizing heavy loading will also help your battery’s life. Many owners start the engine with A/C switched on. Or a high-powered sound system or their HID lights for that matter. With these turned off, the load on the battery, as well as the starter, will be less when you start the car.

The alternator is driven by a belt connected to the engine. It generates electricity when the engine is running and tops up the battery to the proper voltage. Normally, you don’t need to do anything to an alternator. As with the battery, visually inspect the connections for signs of corrosion and clean them accordingly. Important note: Always disconnect the negative terminal of the battery when cleaning the electrical system. You may damage an expensive component if you short a circuit inadvertently. Unless you’ve made some changes to the engine compartment in terms of ducting or intake tract mods, you will not need to check for obstructions to the alternator’s airflow, the lack of which could cause overheating.

Lastly, check your belts for proper tension. A loose belt may cause slippage which can cause an undervoltage condition from the alternator. An overtightened belt on the other hand will stress your bearings shorten their life. Check the underside of the belts for cracks. If you see any, replace them as soon as possible.