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Are you ready to scrape the frost, ice and snow off your car this winter?

Here are some tips to get your windshield clear and keep it clear

What is that they're using to scrape the frost off their
windshield? Is that a credit card or something? More
importantly, are you ready to clean the frost, snow and ice
from your windshield this winter?
Now that the weather is beginning to cool off a little, those who were holding out hope to the contrary, are probably coming around to admit that another McHenry winter is approaching. That means cold, snow and ice. It means you’ll need to spend time sweeping snow, and scraping ice and frost from the windows of your car.

Actually, we are probably only weeks, or days, away from that first morning when you’ll need to break out your window scrapper. YOU DO HAVE A WINDOW SCRAPPER IN YOUR CAR?!!!

We apologize if we panicked but the thought that you might not have a window scraper ready for that first frosted-windshield morning is disconcerting. It’s not the end of the world. This time of year, you probably won’t have to heat the car too long before the defrosters have a chance to soften the frost so the wipers can sweep them away. But, until you warm up the windshield enough, you won’t get too far clearing the frost from your windshield.

You could try using your fingernails to scrape the frost away. Be prepared, however. Those little digits will get darn cold in the process.

You might think to use a substitute ice scrapper. Be careful if you decide to go down this path. For instance, if you tried to clear the frost off your windshield with a putty knife you’re liable to discover that you’ve scratched the glass beyond repair. You might as well clear the frost off your windshield by busting the glass out with a hammer; either way, you’re going to need a new windshield. Depending on the car, the cost could range to almost $1,000, though most installed windshields will cost considerably less than that.

A good window scrapper is the first step in reducing the aggravation of clearing ice and frost from your car’s windows. Make sure it has a good hand grip and a long enough arm that you can reach to the center of the windshield. This is particularly important if you’re car is actually a pickup truck with big tires and a lift kit; getting at the windshield may require a ladder.

You’ll also want a snowbrush. You may purchase a dual window scraper/snowbrush for the job. One end has the scrapper and the other the brush. If you do, just make sure you can still get a firm grip on the tool when you’re trying to scrape stubborn ice and frost.

Another essential tool in the war to keep your windows and windshield clear in the winter is the defroster. You want to make sure your car will produce enough heat to soften ice and frost in a relatively short period of time. You may feel the temptation to test your defrosters yourself. You’ll go out to the car tomorrow, turn on the heat and defrosters, wait a little while and then put your hand up above the dashboard. Even if the air coming out feels good and hot, remember that it’s still warm out.

If you want to be sure that the heater will be up to the challenge in the winter, you may want to bring your car to a professional to have it checked. You don’t want to find out, one cold winter morning, that your defroster doesn’t work as well as you thought it did.

Another tip is to warm the engine before you go. Even if the defrosters can put out some serious heat on a 20-degree-below morning, it takes the car a little while to warm up the coolant/antifreeze.

It’s also a good idea not to recirculate the air in the car. You’ll probably have a button or control that looks like an arrow making a U-turn on your climate-control console. If this button is engaged, the car circulates the air that’s in the car and this, when combined with your own breath, tends to add humidity to the air that can condense, and even frost up, on your windshield.

Finally, once you’ve got the frost and ice off your windshield, you’ll want the ability to keep your windshield clear while driving. This means that you’ll want plenty of windshield solvent in the reservoir and a good set of wiper blades that operate properly.

The basics of headlight bulbs and lenses – the benefits of vision on Wonder Lake roads

Wonder Lake headlight lens is foggy
The lense of this headlight is all foggy.
Vision is not overrated, especially when driving on a Wonder Lake road at night. If you can’t see well, you’ll have a harder time reacting to an emergency. For instance, if a dog runs across the street in front of your car, and you’re doing 55 on East Wonder Lake Road (we won’t tell the police you were speeding), will you have time to avoid hitting the dog? Or, at the last minute, will you try to avoid the dog and spin out and into a tree?

Obviously, headlights are essential to good vision at night. If your headlight bulbs burn out, obviously, you want to replace them. But with what?

Chances are, you’ll be in good shape if you replace a burned-out headlight bulb with the OEM option. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. This is the bulb that is recommended for your vehicle. If you go into a dealership’s parts department, or an auto parts store, they can look up the OEM bulb, or provide you with an aftermarket version that is about as good.

how to clean Wonder Lake headlight
This headlight is coated with toothpaste
as the car owner clears the fog out
of the headlight lense.
Some people like to upgrade their headlights. The Original Equipment Manufacturer option may call for a Halogen or an LED bulb. You, however, may prefer a brighter HID, or High-Intensity Discharge bulb. The clerk at the auto parts store can cross reference to find the appropriate HID bulb for your car.

You may also want to put brighter bulbs in your car’s headlights. Be cautious doing this, though. For one thing, car’s come with high beams and low beams. Low beams work better in some situations, such as when driving in fog. More importantly, high beams can blind an oncoming car. And, if that oncoming car loses control, it may come across the road into you.

If you install a bulb with higher wattage, you may blind oncoming drives even more. Most cars have 55- or 65-watt bulbs. You may install a 100-watt bulb. You’ll see better but, quite possibly, at the expense of other drivers.

Wonder Lake clear headlight
This is what the headlight above looks
like after the toothpaste is cleaned off -
ready for Wonder Lake roads.
Another thing you can do to improve the efficiency of your headlights so you can drive safely on Wonder Lake roads at night is to ensure that the lens is clear. Over time, the lenses that cover your headlight bulbs will grow foggy. There are numerous products you can purchase to clear the fog out of your car’s headlight lenses. They all rely on abrasives to give your headlight lenses that smooth, clear finish again.

For instance, you can use toothpaste. Brush the toothpaste on with a toothbrush, wait for the paste to dry and then clean it off. You may be startled at the difference. In one Youtube video, a young man even compares Crest to Colgate for cleaning the fog out of headlight lenses. It appears they both worked just as well.

Can you support McHenry County Police Charities and Shop With A Cop?

It’s one of the best parties of the year – the Shop With A Cop party at McHenry VFW, this year scheduled for 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18th. But it takes a lot of heart to make the party such a success. That party starts with all the people who make contributions before the event.

What do they contribute? You name it. In the past, they’ve contributed everything from dog training lessons to African safaris. Yes, you read that right – African safaris were auctioned off in the Live Auction at the event.

Prizes, such as certificates for dog training, are usually found in the silent auction or raffle sections of the events. By sections, this refers to the table-after-table assortment of prizes that attendees have a chance to win. The raffle items are won by purchasing raffle tickets and dropping them, individually, into cups by each prize. The silent auction, well, you know how that works.

The point is that there are so many prizes that it’s difficult to walk away without winning something. Of course, the real winners are the children who benefit from Shop With A Cop.

The event is hosted by MC3, a McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce business networking group and McHenry County Police Charities. But, the police make the real contribution to this charity.

The way it works is that, with the money that is raised, children from families that are struggling, receive $150 for Christmas shopping at a local retail store, along with a winter coat, hat, gloves, and boots. The children are picked up, individually, by police officers driving their squad cars. The police serve as private chaperones for the children while they shop with the money they’ve received at an area department store.

When the shopping is done, members of MC3 and other volunteers wrap the presents while the children sit down for breakfast with their police officer chaperones. But, as was indicated above, it all starts with contributions from members of the community.

If you have something you’d like to donate, please, let us know. You can give us a call to make arrangements or you can drop your donation off at McHenry Savings Bank on Bank Drive. Each donation must be accompanied by a Sponsor/Prize Form, which you can find by following this link: http://www.mc3online.com/PDF/2017-SWAC%20SponsorPrizeFrm.pdf.

Whether you’re able to make a donation or not, however, we would love to see you at the party. This is one you don’t want to miss.

Is your car ready for another McHenry winter?

Don’t allow warm weather to lull you into a false sense of security

McHenry winter driving
There are still boats out on the Fox River as cars cross the
bridge on Green Street in McHenry. But, don't let the warm
weather fool you - winter is coming. Make sure your car
is ready.
Last weekend, the thermometer hit 92 degrees. So far this week, it’s felt more like August than September and we’re almost in October. Don’t let the warm weather fool you – another McHenry winter is coming and you’ll want your car ready for the cold and snow and ice and – Brrrrrrr!

As warm as it has been lately, it’s likely we’ll see the temperatures as close to the opposite end of the thermometer in December, January, February and … well, that’s not a thought to dwell on right now. The point is that this warm spell has the potential to lull us into a false sense of security.

What guarantee do we have that temperatures won’t plunge below freezing next week (not to worry, the forecast for McHenry calls for night-time lows of 44 degrees, at the lowest, through Oct. 6)? The point is, a precipitous drop in the temperature could happen at any time. Or, we could have weather remain unseasonably warm into early December. Then, as Mother Nature brings a frozen hammer down, we’ll plunge into the frigid depths of winter.

The point is that it won’t hurt to prepare for winter, whether winter is just around the corner or waiting further down the road. And, while it won’t hurt to prepare for winter before it comes, it can hurt if you haven’t prepared your car when winter does come.

Winter tests a car. It ferrets out any weakness in your vehicle. Mechanical parts become brittle when the temperature drops. If a part is close to breaking already, winter can finish the job. That part is brittle and then you hit a pothole in the road. SNAP!!! Hopefully, it won’t cause you to lose control of your car and crash into a tree along a McHenry highway or, worse, into an oncoming car.

The cold will also test your car’s electrical system. On a frigid morning, you may find that your car won’t start. Why? Well, the oil is thicker and it’s harder for the starter to turn the engine over. This puts an additional strain on the battery. And, if the battery is already weak … well, there you go. Or, maybe I should say, ‘There you sit’ because your car isn’t taking you anywhere until you can get it started.

What if your antifreeze isn’t able to handle the colder temperatures we’ll see this coming winter? If it’s old, it’s also weak. Weak means that it won’t remain in a liquid state at the same low temperatures it would have otherwise. If the antifreeze freezes, you could wind up with a cracked engine block, and that’s not an inexpensive part to replace.

What about your own comfort when driving in the winter? You do want the car to heat up inside where you’re sitting, right? It’s a nasty surprise to discover when it’s below zero outside, that you can’t heat up the inside of your car. Well, as they say, ‘dress in layers.’

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