Dear Car Coach: For years I’ve griped at the way people (and my wife) set their side-view mirrors by seeing the sides of the car, essentially missing the true rear-quarter blind spots they are intended to reveal. Can you highlight the correct way to set these very important safety devices? – G.C., Amherst

Dear G.C.: This is a common problem, as it is NOT taught in driver’s education. Changing lanes when on the roadway may seem like an easy task when driving, but many accidents can be avoided with the very simple steps of adjusting your side- and rear-view mirrors properly.

By properly adjusting your mirrors you can see what’s behind you and see those cars that are hiding in your blind spots, too.

To adjust your driver’s mirror properly, lean your head next to the glass (on the left side) and adjust that mirror just beyond where you can see the edge of the car. This will allow you to see the lane next to you and not your car.

For the passenger side mirror, lean over as far as you can and adjust the mirror so you see just beyond your car again. This allows you to see the blind spots on your passenger side. This is a common area where you don’t see another car.

Adjusting the rear-view mirror is simple – just adjust the mirror to see the opening in the window behind you.

Your turn signal is the only way you can communicate with other drivers, so it’s important to be able to see other vehicles on the road.

You can also turn your head and look before you change lanes, which can also help see in those blind spots. Always use your mirrors and turn signals and look before you change lanes.

These steps seem so basic but when ignored often cause accidents that were so easy to prevent.


Dear Car Coach: The only replacement tires listed for my 2011 Mazda CX-7 are 215/70-17 of which only one tire is available (the same tire that came from the factory which I and others are not happy with). I have read that using a 235/60-17 would be compatible and would offer me a lot more choices. What do you think?

– R.R., Buffalo

Dear R.R.: Bridgestone is the factory tire for your vehicle. When installing new tires, it is always recommended to use the manufacturer’s original equipment (OE). If you don’t like the original and wish to change sizes, note that because of an unusual OE size, performance needs, load rating requirements or budget restrictions, it is usually acceptable to remain within a 3 percent, positive or negative, variance of the OE diameter. It is crucial to remain as close to the OE size as possible to ensure safety, reliability, operation and correct speed readings.

When replacing tires that are not a factory size, there are a few factors to consider. First is outside diameter, which will affect your speedometer, odometer, ABS braking sensors and other safety systems. So if you don’t like the tires on your vehicle and you want to look for other options, you can check out as they offer great prices.


Dear Car Coach: When the gas “changes” to winter blend, do I still need to add gas line antifreeze? I usually only add it to our vehicles when it looks like an extreme cold period for several days. Thanks. – K.K., Arcade

Dear K.K.: Gas line antifreezes are made from ethanol, methanol or isopropyl alcohol to absorb water in the fuel and keep it from freezing. That one little bottle of gas line antifreeze is about 0.3 percent of the volume of a full gas tank. With a 10 percent ethanol blended fuel, it’s percent so it will absorb a lot more water and you’ll never have to worry about a frozen fuel line. Now you don’t have to worry about buying it, keeping it in the trunk and adding it to the tank when you fill up when it gets really cold or if your vehicle sits outside in very cold temperatures. If you are concerned and prefer to use it anyway, it will not hurt the fuel system. Keeping your gas tank full on cold nights will help avoid fuel line freeze up as well.

Fuel economy drops during cold weather mostly due to the increased friction caused by the thickening of the fluids that lubricate a car’s engine and drive train. Also, a vehicle’s tires have increased rolling resistance when extremely cold because the rubber is stiffer, and air pressure drops significantly as temperatures get colder. Additionally, fuel burns less efficiently until the engine gets up to its optimum operating temperature.