Mass California Outage Raises Questions About Emergency Fuel Supply

Two SCL Fueling Stations Offer Fully Functioning Backups to Maintain Reliability

After nearly 800,000 California businesses and residents experienced up to five days without power due to a voluntary shutdown by Pacific Gas & Electric, utilities have now been almost completely restored throughout the state’s northernmost reaches to the Silicon Valley.

The outage, which came in response to the high winds and dry conditions ripe for wildfires, has been attributed to the $30 billion in liabilities PG&E is currently facing after downed equipment caused wildfires in 2017 and 2018.

Controversy surrounding the decision remains, especially in light of short notices and a failure in communication to customers. Those questions notwithstanding, however, the mass PG&E outage raises another important issue — how are residents, first responders, and businesses expected to get gas when their fuel providers are without power?

An SCL Investment for Emergencies

Short of keeping gasoline on hand, it’s essential that all customers know what fueling stations have backup power sources. Without fully functioning generators, it’s impossible for anyone to fuel vehicles or keep businesses running smoothly, regardless of whether tanks at local stations are fully stocked.

In 2016, SCL invested over $100,000 to ensure Vista and San Marcos fueling stations are fully functioning in the event of emergencies. Providing two fully operational fueling options for North San Diego and all of San Diego County helps to ensure commercial and retail operators, as well as the general public, always have access to fuel — regardless of the situation.

“We can’t control what our state’s utility providers do in the face of wildfire threats or the threat of other natural disasters, and we certainly can’t control the occurrence of natural disasters themselves,” said SCL General Manager Travis Becktel. “What we can control is the level of reliability that we provide to our customers. Regardless of whether that means letting go of some of our profits, it’s important for us as a company to be there when our first responders and customers need us most.”

Maintaining Reliability for Southern California Customers

SCL currently has partnerships with several local municipalities that utilize the Vista and San Marcos locations. Allowing them to continue operating and responding to any and all emergencies, Becktel said, could quite literally mean the difference between life and death to affected residents.

The investment by SCL is especially crucial as the Santa Ana winds continue to move south, bringing the same concerns and ideal wildfire conditions to southern California. When PG&E announced its decision to shut off power in the north just one day prior to the outages, officials at Southern California Edison stated they were also considering the same preventative measures in some areas.

As many as 173,000 customers in nine Southern California counties could be affected with temporary outages in the near future, Southern California Edison officials told the Los Angeles Times.

“When and if there is an issue, we will be here — open and available to service the needs of our customers, and possibly the general public, with our emergency generator resources,” Becktel said. “These systems have been stress tested to maximum capacity, which means we can be a constant to our customers regardless of the circumstances.”

Contact an SCL Consultant Today

In a wide range of industrial sectors, if there’s metal touching metal, oil is involved. At SCL, we’re here to protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving and we pride ourselves on providing superior logistics and solutions, extensive product and industry knowledge and total performance satisfaction for our customers. As a safety precaution we highly encourage our partners to periodically re-evaluate their emergency response and contingency plans in the event of a natural disaster or power outage. For more information on how to access your emergency response plans, contact an SCL consultant today.

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All-Weather Tires vs. Winter Tires: What’s the Difference?

Car driving down icy roadRain is weather. Snow is, too. So, that must mean that all-weather tires work for both raindrops and snowflakes, right? As with almost everything else, the answer is: it depends. As seasons change and road conditions worsen, it’s essential to understand the differences between all-weather tires and winter tires.

What Are All-Weather Tires?

All-weather tires, also known as all-season tires, offer a mix of the benefits that you gain from summer and winter tires. To maintain their signature well-roundedness though, all-season tires compromise on some features for more extreme conditions like heavy rainfall or significant road icing.

For example, all-season tires can be louder and less responsive than summer tires because they have deeper treads. On the other hand, all-weather tires’ treads are not quite as deep as winter tires’, which reduces their stopping power and traction on icy roads.

All-weather tires offer many benefits for drivers who live in areas with milder seasons. For example, drivers with all-season tires can enjoy the convenience and cost-savings of not needing semi-annual tire changes. Plus, all-season tires offer a quiet ride and more than enough traction for everyday driving! Although all-weather tires are great for many people, motorists in places with particularly harsh winters or extra-long rainy seasons should look for more specialized options.

What Are Winter Tires?

Winter tires are designed to meet the challenges of rough winter weather, thanks to their softer rubber, specialized tread design, and traction-enhancing biting edges. If you live and drive in a climate that experiences severe cold, ice, and snow, then winter tires definitely can come in handy.

Wondering how differences in rubber and design impact winter tires performance as compared to all-season tires? Here’s how these components set the two types of tires apart.

Tread Rubber

Most winter tires contain softer rubber than all-season ones. The purpose of such rubber compounds is to prevent tires from stiffening in low temperatures, which reduces traction when you need it most. Winter tires’ unique rubber compounds are designed to remain flexible, enabling them to grip the road better. That’s one reason many technicians recommend switching to winter tires when the temperature consistently dips below 45°F, even if the forecast calls for clear skies.

Tread Depth and Design

Winter tires come with deeper tread depths and more detailed tread patterns than all-weather tires do. The deeper treads of winter tires grip the road, enhancing traction. The unique tire tread patterns channel snow and slush out and away from the tire.

Biting Edges

“Biting edges” are tiny, shallow slits within a tire’s tread blocks. Each slit “bites” the road as a tire turns, improving traction on snow and sleet. While both all-season and winter tires have biting edges, winter tires have more than all-season tires, giving them additional traction in wintry road conditions.

Overall, winter tires have an advantage in areas where winter temperatures regularly hit 45°F or below. In a test conducted by Popular Mechanics, winter tires improved performance in braking (up to 5%) and cornering (up to 20%) on snowy and icy roads compared with all-weather tires.

Are you getting ready to truck through a harsh winter? Visit your local Firestone Complete Auto Care for excellent winter tires like the Bridgestone Blizzak and the Firestone Winterforce. (And don’t forget to properly store your regular tires!)

All-Weather vs. Snow Tires: Which Should You Get?

The decision of whether to equip your vehicle with winter tires or all-season tires depends on where you live and drive.

If you drive somewhere that rarely gets hit with snow or ice, all-weather tires should be just fine. But if snow, ice, and freezing temperatures are a common occurrence, it’s best to invest in a reliable set of winter tires.

Dashing through the snow takes on a whole new meaning when you do it with the right tires. Shop tires online or visit your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care today!

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The Best Motor Oils For 2019

1) Valvoline – Best Conventional Oil

From $5 per quart
When looking for a motor oil, why not choose one from the company that invented the product? Valvoline founder Dr. John Ellis is credited as the inventor of motor oil, creating products for steam engines and later worked with Ford to make a formulation for the Model T.

The company’s in-house development team continues to be at the leading edge of lubrication technology, working together with motorsport teams to meet the demands of their engines while also spearheading the development of formulations that improve the performance of high mileage engines.

Valvoline NextGenvalvoline-nextgen meets all the standards for a conventional oil, but it costs less than many major brands and is made with 50 percent recycled oil.

When Scientific American reported on the oil when it first came to market, they found that the refining techniques used to create this formulation allowed it to meet all the API requirements as a standard motor oil. Since then, other options using recycled base oils have hit the market, allowing buyers to maintain their vehicles while having a lower impact on the environment.

Valvoline is one of the few oil manufacturers who backup their high mileage oil with a guarantee. If your engine has under 125,000 miles on it, you can register it in a program that will give you some valvoline-maxlife-5w30warranty protection from the company provided that you keep up on maintenance records and only use their oil.

Valvoline MaxLife SAE 5W30 – Using the latest breakthroughs in distillation, this engine formulation is engineered for the issues facing high mileage engines. This oil helps by reducing friction, removing corrosive deposits and helps prevent oil leaks.

2) Mobil 1 – Best Synthetic Engine Oil

From $5 per quart
mobil-1-10w30-synthetic-oilThe best synthetic motor oil (just beating out the Amsoil mentioned below), is Mobil 1 10W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil.

Many of the cars in top level motorsports use Mobil 1. The company prides itself on its motorsports partnerships. They make the official engine oil of NASCAR and they’re the oil sponsor of McLaren-Honda’s F1 team. Their testing and development of oils designed for demanding racing conditions has worked its way into their consumer products.

Their synthetics are great at maintaining a low viscosity in very cold temperatures, and they’ve led the way in developing oils formulated for turbocharged engines. Turbocharged motors are notorious for high oil consumption due to the extreme heat generated by the turbo bearings, and with their adoption across the industry as a way to increase fuel efficiency, this is becoming an issue for not just sports cars, but regular consumer cars and trucks as well.

The best engine oils are synthetics like Mobil 1, Valvoline SynPower and Castrol Edge. Despite being highly refined and processed, they can be fairly affordable if you keep an eye out for sales and rebates.

There are also higher-end synthetic oils like Royal Purple, Motul and Amsoil. While they’re often touted by armchair enthusiasts on online forums for their supposed superior protection, there is little concrete evidence to back up these claims. However, they offer at least the same level of protection as more affordable, widely available synthetics.

All that said, if your car and driving habits don’t demand the added protection of a synthetic, there’s no harm saving money by using a conventional oil.

3) Castrol GTX HM – Best Motor Oil for Older, High Mileage Cars

From $6 per quart
castrol-gtx-high-mileageNo matter how well lubricated the inside of your engine is, the metal components will wear down and internal seals will dry and shrink over time, allowing oil to get into places where it will burn away or leak out.

It used to be common practice to use thicker oils as engines got older, but these formulations cause extra strain on the oil pump and don’t reach all the pathways to fully lubricate the engine. That means rather than fixing the problem, they can actually accelerate engine wear.

Contrary to popular belief, a synthetic won’t slip through these spaces more easily and burn faster than a conventional oil. Synthetic and conventional oils with the same viscosity will flow exactly the same way. For high mileage engines, there’s a better alternative to either of these: semi-synthetic oil.

Castrol GTX HM doesn’t just work better in older engines, it adheres to parts longer, offering better protection when starting an engine after a long period of sitting. This makes it a great choice for older vehicles that are only used occasionally such as antique cars and winter beaters.

4) Royal Purple Synthetic Motor Oil – Best Oil for Diesel Engines

From $8 per quart
royal-purple-5w30-high-performance-oilRoyal Purple is almost unheard-of outside of racing circles, but independent tests show their oils are able to keep up with oils offered by the industry’s leaders. Hot Rod magazine has experimented with their lubricants and managed to get more power out of a classic car and improving the fuel economy on a late model Ford pickup by switching to their oil and transmission fluid. While not a thorough test of their products’ capabilities, these tests are much better than the speculation surrounding most oil claims.

5) Quaker State

From $5 per quart
Valvoline and Castrol may offer semi-synthetic high mileage formulations, but Quaker State has gone the extra mile, creating conventional, synthetic blend and full synthetic oils all designed for older vehicles, allowing buyers choose the trade off between price and performance that works for them. There are many supporters of their Defy High Mileage blends who have run the oil in vehicles that have anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 miles on their engines.

6) Total Motor Oil

From $8 per quart
total-quartz-5w30Total may not be a big name in the U.S, but they’re a major player in Europe thanks to their extensive petroleum operations.  If you follow any motorsports outside of America, you’re probably familiar with the brand as they’ve sponsored Red Bull’s F1 team since 2009. That’s the same team that won the constructor’s championship title, and whose driver, Sebastian Vettel, took the driver’s championship title that same year.

They’re also involved in rally racing, supporting Citroën’s efforts for over 20 years. Here in the states, they recently became the top sponsor for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) racing series, a top level North American-based motorsport that was formerly known as Grand-Am racing. Like Mobil, they’re able to apply their experience developing oils for severe racing conditions to create formulas that meet the demands of regular consumer vehicles.

7) Pennzoil Motor Oil

From $4 per quart
pennzoil-platinum-5w30-full-syntheticWhile other manufacturers concentrate on lubrication performance, Pennzoil’s development aims at reducing the formation of sludge to keep the inside of the engine as clean as possible. That translates to lower friction, maintaining power and fuel economy.

There’s more to this strategy than just marketing. The brand works hand-in-hand with automotive manufacturers to develop oils for their engines and recently became the official oil supplier for Ferrari. There could be few better endorsements than the approval of one of the world’s top supercar manufacturers, and even if you aren’t going to run out and buy one of these vehicles, the resulting marketing campaigns with IMSA driver Rhys Millen tearing around Barcelona in a 488 GTB are great fun to watch. Using Pennzoil may not turn your commuter into a V12 sports car, but there’s no doubt it will protect your engine.

8) Amsoil Synthetic Motor Oil

From $7 per quart
amsoil-signature-series-5w-30When did you first hear about synthetic oil? The 2000s? The 90s? Amsoil led the way, bringing lubrication technology developed for fighter jets to the automotive market in the 1970s, beating their competitors by almost two decades. Their synthetic formulations were the first to be recognized by the American Petroleum Institute, the same API that formulates all the standard performance tests for oil that automakers design their engines and lubrication systems around. Despite this leading position, the company has remained a small, family-owned enterprise with a focus on quality over sales.

Since it was founded, the company has stayed at the leading edge of oil development, concentrating on motorsports applications. Instead of working with a single high high profile series, they sponsor a wide range of racing events in the U.S. and Canada including motocross, Sprint Cup, Canadian Snowcross Racing and numerous off-roading events.

Conclusion

According to promotional materials and advertisements, each brand and formulation of engine oil is the best oil, offering unparalleled engine protection, fuel economy and performance. The truth is that almost every motor oil on the market these days meets the same API standards and can provide the protection our vehicles need, so long as they meet the specifications of the automobile’s manufacturer.

Since oil manufacturers do their testing internally and secretly and there’s no standardization other than the API’s requirements, any advantage a particular formulation may have is hard to determine as the information available is speculative at best.

No matter what oil you choose, always compare the manufacturer’s recommendations with the API “donut” seal on the back of the oil container. This seal will include the service category, oil viscosity, and whether or not the oil formulation is “energy conserving,” which means it reduces friction for improved fuel economy. As long as the requirements of your engine are met, the oil is safe to use in your vehicle.

Bridgestone to Supply Solar Car Tires in the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge

Now more than ever before, you’re likely to see more hybrid and electric cars on the road. If you’ve noticed this trend during your commute, don’t expect it to slow down any time soon!

Environmental awareness has become the name of the game, and the most significant players are the passionate and ambitious engineers making the gears turn on alternative energy sources. To some people, fully solar-powered cars may seem like a distant reality or the plot of a sci-fi movie. However, thanks to initiatives like the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC), solar-powered transportation may be right around the corner.

Solar car models The BWSC is the world’s foremost solar car race. For the competition, Bridgestone supplies solar car tires with fuel-efficient technology to 32 participating teams. This year’s event will run from Sunday, October 13 to Sunday, October 20 in Australia. A total of 53 teams from 24 different countries will compete in the Land Down Under, racing from Darwin, on Australia’s northern edge, to Adelaide, on Australia’s southern point. The course is a total of 3,000 kilometers or 1,864 miles — as we’d say in ‘Merica!

Solar cars starting a raceAs the naming rights sponsor of the BWSC, Bridgestone will be outfitting the solar-powered vehicles with “Ecopia ologic” tires. Ecopia tires are one of the Company’s best-selling fuel-efficient tires, engineered for a lower rolling resistance than a standard tire.

For everyday drivers, Ecopia tires mean fewer trips to the gas pump (and more cash in your pocket!). The BWSC-exclusive “Ecopia ologic” tires will give race teams the durability, fuel efficiency, safety, and reduced air resistance needed for competition.

Slim Ecopia tiresThe ultimate purpose of this event — aside from the excitement of competition — is to support engineers (and aspiring engineers) pursuing the future of sustainable travel. Each team is responsible for designing and building, a solar-powered car to carry them across Australia — fast! Think of it like a high-tech, long-distance soapbox derby.

Red solar car in the desertFor Bridgestone, supplying tires for the race was an easy decision. After all, the race’s purpose aligns perfectly with the company’s corporate social responsibility commitment, Our Way to Serve, and embodies their Priority Areas of Mobility, People, and Environment.

Stephen Roche, managing director of Bridgestone Australia and New Zealand says, “Bridgestone is committed to the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge on a global level because we share the same values.” Roche goes on to say, “We are delighted that this year’s Bridgestone World Solar Challenge boasts the largest field ever, and we are encouraged to see so many students sharing our passion for the pursuit of sustainable mobility.”Blue solar car on the highway

You don’t have to be racing across Australia in a solar-powered car to do your part for the planet. Installing Bridgestone Ecopia tires on your car, CUV, or minivan could help you save fuel and cash, mile by mile. And saving fuel means conserving resources, making Ecopia tires better for both your bank account and the planet.

Red solar car on the highwayWant to learn more about the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge Event? Visit BridgestoneAmericas.com. Want to give your car an eco-friendly boost? Find more fuel-efficient tires at your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care.

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5 Things To Do Before Your First Winter Road Trip

Heavy highway traffic in a snowstormThe holiday season is finally here, and with it comes many things: comfort food, holiday parties, and spending time with family and friends. With everyone traveling to reconnect with their out-of-town nearest and dearest, it’s no wonder the holidays are the most traffic-heavy time of year. Over 100 million people took to the roads for the holidays in 2018! How many will be hitting the highways in 2019?

Traffic isn’t the only concern drivers have while traveling during the holiday season. Snowstorms, rain, and sleet can roll in any time. Thankfully, these threats don’t have to slow you down, or worse, leave you stranded. Before you hit the road this holiday season, here are some ways to prepare your vehicle for that first winter road trip.

1. Get your battery tested.

Everything from the engine to the radio relies on your battery, and cold can impact your battery more than you think. A cold battery is not only trying to warm itself up, but it’s also trying to get everything else in your vehicle running as well, such as your engine.

Plus, your engine’s oil thickens as temperatures drop. The thicker the oil, the more power your car battery requires to move it to where it needs to be. With all this strain, it’s no wonder your battery has a higher chance of kicking the can during the winter months.

Luckily, a battery test at Firestone Complete Auto Care can give you a comprehensive look at your battery’s charge. This quick and simple test can save you a lot of heartache down the road. Imagine your car not starting after you stop for gas, halfway between grandma’s gravy and who-knows-where.

2. Check your windshield wipers.

Nothing is more frustrating than driving down the highway and turning on your wipers, only to realize they’re making it harder to see! Old wiper blades can smudge your view, make horrible scraping noises, and even scratch the windshield glass. Layer on dirty road slush and flurries of snow and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Replacing your windshield wipers is an easy thing to overlook. But when you need a clear view of the road, the quality of your wipers makes all the difference. Have your wipers blades replaced every 6-12 months.

The correct windshield wipers should sit firmly against your windshield and apply even pressure. Bring your vehicle to Firestone Complete Auto Care for TRICO® wiper blades and we’ll top off your wiper fluid, too.

3. Get an oil change.

Many technicians will tell you that changing your oil is the easiest way to extend the life of your vehicle. This is especially important during winter. Motor oils are rated for cold resistance. So, having a less-than-ideal oil in your engine during a cold season could mean sludgy oil and poor engine performance.

Before embarking on your winter road trip, schedule an oil change to get the best cold-rated oil for your vehicle. Even if you aren’t due for an oil change, it might be best to go ahead and get fresh oil that’s designed specifically to withstand lower temperatures. This simple to-do will better prepare you and your engine for the long (and potentially icy) road ahead.

4. Get winter tires.

If you thought winter tires are just regular tires that say “Winter” on the side, think again! There are many benefits to installing a complete set of winter tires on your vehicle, especially for a long drive or winter road trip. Here’s a quick look at the differences between winter tires and other tires when put to the test in low temperatures.

Non-winter tiresWinter tires
Stopping PowerLow stopping power due to decreased traction from shallow treadsIncreased stopping power from deeper, cold-weather optimized treads
TractionPoor traction, as normal rubber hardens in the cold and will struggle to grip the roadBetter traction, since the rubber in winter tires remains pliable in low temperatures, keeping the tire from hardening and offering better grip
HandlingUnreliable handling since the tread is not designed for icy conditionsSteady handling, as deep tread grooves help maintain traction and handling in wet, snowy, or icy conditions

Knowing the benefits of winter tires is important. Winter tires can help reduce the risk of a blowout and increase your steering control in icy conditions. When freezing temperatures hit, winter tires can help you get to your holiday destination safely.

5. Get a Courtesy Check at Firestone Complete Auto Care.

Before embarking on your holiday travels, give yourself peace of mind by having your entire vehicle inspected. There’s no easier way to do that than with a Courtesy Check from Firestone Complete Auto Care. We’ll check your battery, tires, wipers, fluids, belts, and more so you can hit those snowy roads with confidence. Schedule your appointment and stop by your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care today!

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