6 Driving And Car Maintenance Tips For Busy Parents

Life doesn't always have to be in the fast lane

6 Driving And Car Maintenance Tips For Busy Parents

6 Driving And Car Maintenance Tips For Busy Parents

There are only 24 hours in a day, right? How many of us are trying to squeeze every last second out of it? As a wife, mom, and business owner, I struggle with effective time management—but I'm working on it.

To start, I’ve shed a few responsibilities and I've gotten better at saying no...but to be honest, there are a lot of other things I still need to add to that list. I’m sure you can relate!

When it comes to driving with efficiency in mind and taking care of my car in a way that will save me the unwanted stress of costly repairs, here are a few things I have managed to master.

1. Plan your routes

Where I live, it seems like every turn I take there’s construction. Completion of a road I use often is expected to end next year and construction just started this past summer. Needless to say, I’ve had to look up better routes to get around town and plan the timing of my errands so I’m not caught in the middle of rush hour.

2. Combine trips

Trips of less than 5 kms don’t allow your car's engine to reach its peak operating temperature. So by the time you reach your destination, you’ve shut the engine off just as it was about start cleaning the engine. This also leads to higher fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. Sometimes, oil residue builds up in the engine because of short driving tips, which can cost you.

Most times, I try to multi-task when running errands. For example, this past Sunday, I stopped to fuel up at Shell and at the same time, I grabbed coffee at their Java Café station for my group. I needed 6 cups and when the gas station attendant noticed that there wasn't enough coffee, he brewed me a fresh pot right away. Talk about service! They had free flavour shots available (hello, hazelnut!) and I took advantage of their current offer to earn 5 bonus AIR MILES reward miles with every 16oz Shell Java Café purchase (offer ends November 9, 2014!). So I got gas for the car, picked up coffee for my group AND earned rewards in one trip. Now that's effective multi-tasking!

Shell Java Cafe

3. Stick to your car's maintenance schedule

The average Canadian spends about $1200 per year in vehicle upkeep, but as busy parents, we're always on-the-go and sometimes too busy to stick to maintenance schedules. Inevitably though, the car will have to be brought in because of a safety issue and at that point it’s an unexpected hit to the budget. Taking your car in for regular maintenance will save you money down the line. A good auto repair shop will take the time to properly inspect your car and help make your car reliable for four to six months at a time.

4. Drive smoothly and Measure your tire pressure once a month

Did you know that you can increase fuel consumption by up to 25% with a combination of bad driving habits like speeding, quick acceleration, and hard stops?* Be mindful of these things when driving to save yourself money at the pumps and decrease fuel consumption.

Making sure your tires are properly inflated is another way to decrease fuel consumption. Having your tires at incorrect pressures also poses a safety risk, and lessens tire life. Make sure you inflate your tires to the proper recommended pressure according to your vehicle’s manual and/or driver side door jamb. DON’T inflate it to the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall of your tires. If you have older kids, have them check tire pressures as part of their chores — get the family involved in your car's maintenance!

5. Fuel your car wisely

It’s important to give your car the correct fuel it requires. If your engine needs an octane rating of 91, don’t put in a lower rating! All three grades of Shell Nitrogen Enriched Gasoline contain five times the amount of federally-mandated cleaning agents. This gives Shell gasolines the ability to clean up gunk on intake valves and fuel injectors. A clean engine is more fuel-efficient, produces fewer emissions and allows your vehicle to perform at its best.

6. Lighten your load

One of my clients used to carry cases of bottled water and dumbbells in her trunk; she just never got around to bringing them inside her house. That’s a lot of extra weight and it causes excess fuel use which is an unnecessary cost to you. Other things that will increase fuel consumption include roof or bicycle racks and having improper tires on (for example, driving on winter tires in the summer).

* Natural Resources Canada Office of Energy Efficiency Auto$mart Thinking program



Are You One Of The 86% Whose Headrest Position Is Wrong?

How You Can Reduce Whiplash Related Injuries By Up To 40%

Are You One Of The 86% Whose Headrest Position Is Wrong?

Headrest Adjustment

Want to know how to reduce soft-tissue, whiplash-related injuries by as much as 40%? Make sure your headrest is at the proper height!

Chances are, most of us haven’t touched our headrest in a very long time. In fact, the Insurance Bureau of Canada found that only 14% of drivers have their headrests properly adjusted. Most if not all vehicle owner’s manuals will have explanations on how to properly adjust the headrest. Below is a sample from the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze. I know you all read your owner’s manual word for word, right?

Chevrolet Cruze headrest

When you jump in someone else’s car (like your spouse or parent’s) do you adjust your headrest? When we spoke with some of our clients, they couldn’t recall the last time they checked their headrests.

Thanks to a conversation with Natalie Nankil (Media Relations Manager at GM Canada) about car safety, I realized how few people pay attention to their headrest. So what is the right height? According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, there are 3 easy steps to properly adjust your headrest:

1 – The centre of the headrest should be slightly above the top of the ear

2 – The top of the headrest should be at least as high as the top of the head

3 – Ideally, the distance between the headrest and the back of the head should be between 5 and 10 cms (2 and 4 inches)

Poor headrest position    Ideal headrest position

Some headrests allow for horizontal adjustment - take a look at the difference in this type of adjustment in the 2014 Buick Enclave:

Buick Enclave Headrest Passenger Cabin

Forward adjustment headrest         Rearward adjustment headrest

Next time you get into your car, make a quick check on your headrest height as well as your passengers (even the kiddies)! Don’t forget to do the same when you jump into someone else’s vehicle. This may seem like a small thing, but even the little things have big payoffs when it comes to car safety.

For other auto maintenance tips, read "What Your Car's Lights Are Trying To Tell You" and "Parking Brake: Use It Or Lose It".


How A Car Lover Says Goodbye To Summer

One last hurrah in a 2014 Jeep Wrangler

How A Car Lover Says Goodbye To Summer

2014 Jeep Wrangler

As I write, there is snow falling in Western Canada. Where did our summer go? Looking back, summers have always been too short This year I decided to celebrate the end of summer instead of anxiously waiting for the colder temperatures to hit. I asked to road-test the 2014 Jeep Wrangler for a few reasons—I’ve always wanted to drive one ever since I watched Jurassic Park as a kid (yes, others were watching the dinosaurs and I was watching the cars, go figure!), plus my kids would recognize the Jeep as Sarge from Disney’s Cars. I've always associated the Jeep Wrangler as a truck that was just asking for adventure. What better way to end my summer road-tests?

Before I go into the rest of my post, let me just say this about Jeep ownersI’ve found that my clients and friends who are Jeep owners tend to be incredibly brand-loyal and committed to maintaining their Jeep for the long-haul. Here’s the interesting part, during my road-test with the Jeep, other Jeep owners would chat me up about the truck when I was stopped in a gas station, parking lot, etc. Friendly people, these Jeep owners! The Wrangler is different from other SUVs in so many ways. Here’s a few of the fun ones:

Letting the Top Down


I took advantage of all the sunshine with the easy-to-use soft top. Our kids LOVED the feeling of freedom, too, and they helped us zip the top on and off.

2014 Jeep Wrangler top down

2014 Jeep Wrangler kids

2014 Jeep Wrangler soft top

Iconic Front End


The Jeep logo is definitely a recognizable icon when it comes to car styles. The big circular headlights and grill have been consistent with the brand for decadesit’s even displayed just above the rear view mirror.

2014 Jeep Wrangler front grill

2014 Jeep Wrangler rear view mirror

The hood latches are simple, and the layout under the hood is spacious. My kids had fun poking around the engine, and we spent some time identifying the fluid reservoirs, air filter, and battery location.

2014 Jeep Wrangler hood latch   

2014 Jeep Wrangler engine bay   

2014 Jeep Wrangler under the hood

We’re All About That Bass


Ok, I didn’t agree with the placement of the front speakersthese tiny little things that sit on top of the dashit just looked awkward and I thought it would be distracting. By the end of my road test, I didn’t really notice them anymore, so it was a non-issue for me.

2014 Jeep Wrangler dash speaker

The rear speakers are mounted on the pillar above the passengers. This way, you could ride with the doors removed and still have rockin’ music to listen to. My boys thought that was cool and really tried to convince me that taking the doors off would be a good idea. I said noI’m not ready for them to be riding without doors, they’re still my babies!

2014 Jeep Wrangler rear speaker

Trail Rated


The Wrangler is just itching to go off-roading! Jeep states that any of their vehicles with the Trail Rated badge means that it has been “…designed to perform in 5 categories of off-road conditions: traction, ground clearance, manoeuvrability, articulation and water fording.”

Jeep Trail Rated

We took the Wrangler to Collingwoodwhat a beautiful drive! While we didn’t get a chance to take it officially on a serious trail, it did handle well when we tested it out in the country dirt roads. I had no doubt about its stability and power to pull us through some of the country terrain.

2014 Jeep Wrangler Collingwood

Driving Stick


The manual transmission was really fun to drive! Jeep has really kept to the old school gear shift, and I liked being in control of which gear I was in while driving . . . not that I have control issues or anything!

2014 Jeep Wrangler interior

Thanks, Jeep Wrangler, for ending my summer well!

2014 Jeep Wrangler AutoNiche

Read this Jeep Social Media tale. For other car reviews, check out how the Dodge Grand Caravan could fit in your lifestyle and watch our Mini Countryman webisode!