Dear Car Coach: My kids are living out of town and travel a lot for their jobs. I want to get them some sort of car-related gifts. Last year you gave a list of a few items that sounded great. Can you offer any ideas for this year? It makes shopping easier. – C.M.S., Amherst
Dear C.M.S.: Every year I try to create a short list of automotive holiday gift items to consider.
• Flare Alert LED Light Sources are safer than striking a flare; they are magnetic and can be used over and over again. They also are handy when you just need some light. Unlike striking flares, Flare Alert beacons can be used without the risk of inhaling toxic fumes, starting brush fires, igniting spilled fuel or oil or burning equipment or yourself. The Flare Alert Beacon generates its own light, is visible day or night, works in all weather conditions and is even magnetic. It’s ready to go with a push of the button. Price: $9.99 each. Available at Lowes, Home Depot and online.
• The Bag Fix: The Bag Fix is an innovative product that permits drivers to keep their purse or bags off the floor of the car and prevents bags from falling on the floor and spilling their contents when the driver must brake hard. This simple hanger also eliminates straining your shoulders or neck as you reach into the back seat. The Bag Fix fits easily between the headrest posts on almost any vehicle and promotions say it is strong enough to hold shopping bags, coats, briefcases, laptop bags, workout gear, back packs and more. The Bag Fix can hold more than 40 pounds and is ideal for having your purse handy for a drive-thru or easy access to a diaper bag. For children, this hook holds toys and keeps back seats organized. The cost is two for $19.95. Available at www.thebagfix.com
• Auto Emergency Kit: Many people are confused when it comes to finding an emergency kit that fits their lifestyle. This emergency kit has what drivers need and a few extra bonus items too. It comes in a bright orange bag with Velcro on the bottom so the bag doesn’t roll around in your car. It’s compact and includes 55 pieces needed for most roadside emergencies. The first aid kit detaches from the bag for glove box storage if desired. It also includes a Car Care Guide that answers most of the hows and whys of car parts and where and when to get them replaced, plus an LED light source that is safer than a flare. The Emergency Road Kit includes: 8-foot, 10-gauge battery booster cables; a 2-in-1 screwdriver; 10 cable ties, cloth gloves; a flashlight; two D batteries; a rain poncho, a first aid kit and more. It’s $29.95 and is available at www.laurenfix.com
Also check out these websites: www.autosportcatalog.com and www.calcarduster.com. Surprise the drivers in your life with these hot car gadgets or splurge on a car accessory or two for yourself this holiday season.
Dear Car Coach: I just got my oil changed at the dealership. When my husband left for work, there was a small pool of oil. I was surprised.
Could this be from the oil change and should I be concerned, or is it no big deal?
– K.H., Buffalo
Dear K.H.: This is something that could be a big deal. If there is a small pool or large pool of oil under a car after an oil change, you should have some concern.
If you notice it before you drive away, open the hood and pull the dipstick, wipe off the dipstick and place it in the dipstick tube again to get a clean reading. If you are not in the range, you should not drive the car – especially if there is NO reading on the dipstick.
If you have the correct oil for your engine on hand, add the necessary amount until the oil is within the proper range.
Your next step is to call the place that changed the oil and inform them of the problem. They should show similar concern, especially if there is a lot of oil under your auto.
If the shop cross-threaded the oil pan plug, then it should pay to repair or Heli-coil it.
A dealership may even offer to transport the vehicle back to its shop. If the dealer claims it’s on you, try to locate the receipt, as you may have to take legal action or contact the Better Business Bureau to help sort out the dispute. Most auto repair shops should be willing to make good on the problem. Here’s one last tip. Don’t drive any vehicle that is low on oil, you can burn up the engine and cause expensive damage.