Daniel Susco
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HGTV Star Chip Wade Discusses Overheating Cars, Road Trips, His Grandfather’s Pickup Truck

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Recently, we here at The News Wheel were contacted by Liberty Mutual Insurance through a PR agency, offering us an interview with an “HGTV star” who they only referred to as “Chip.” After some brief searching and a quick email, it turned out they were offering us an interview with none other than Chip Wade, veteran of many, many television shows, including: HGTV’s Curb Appeal: The Block, HGTV’s Designed to Sell, Ellen’s Design Challenge, HGTV’s Showdown, HGTV’s Design Star, HGTV’s Wise Buys, Oprah, and CNN. Wade is best known, though, as the star of Emmy-Award-winning series Elbow Room, shown on both HGTV and the DIY Network.

Chip Wade from HGTV and DIY Network's Elbow Room

This handsome guy
Photo:Chip Wade

More recently, Chip Wade has become a consultant for Liberty Mutual Insurance (among “several national brands” according to the bio on his website), for whom he is an occiasional source for their “MasterThis” series of articles. This was how we ended up being offered this interview, on mostly heat- and road-trip-related car topics.

I wish I could say that I played it cool when accepting the offer, but I was super pumped. My emailed questions are below in bold, with Chip Wade’s responses underneath them. We discussed car overheating, general road trip preparation, summer car maintenance, and his own history with trucks.


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car overheating causes and solutions

Summer Heat

[Some quick background, here: Chip Wade and his family live in Atlanta, Georgia.]

How would you go about preventing your car from overheating (particularly since it can’t be chilly down there in Georgia)?

A survey from Liberty Mutual Insurance found that over one third of American car owners worry most about an unexpected mechanical breakdown. During the summer taking precautions to help prevent your car from overheating and breaking down is definitely a concern of many drivers!

Luckily, there are some guidelines you can follow to help prevent your car from overheating, including parking in the shade, using a windshield sun shade, and keeping an eye on your coolant level. Refer to your owner’s manual to learn how to determine if your engine coolant level is correct, but never open your radiator cap while the engine is hot or turned on. Almost all cars now have a coolant tank with markings that will show if the fluid level is OK, so make sure to add engine coolant if it’s low. It’s also important to always keep an eye on your car’s temperature gauge on the dashboard. It will alert you if your car is running hot and will indicate a range of your car’s normal operating temperature.

If your car were to overheat and break down, what should you do (aside from calling for help, of course)?

If you sense your car might be overheating, pull over right away and turn the engine off. Allow it to completely cool before attempting to locate the problem. Look for signs of a fluid leak under the vehicle and the hood. Once the engine is cool enough to drive, take your car to a mechanic for a diagnostic because driving a severely overheated engine can do serious damage!

If you can’t pull over right away, make sure the air conditioning is turned off to reduce stress on the engine. You can also turn on the heater to pull some of the heat out of the engine bay and into the car’s cabin. Turning the heat on acts as a radiator to help cool the engine quicker.

If you do have car trouble it’s important you are covered. For example, Liberty Mutual Insurance offers Emergency Roadside Assistance. I also keep important phone numbers on a notebook in my glove box. If my cell phone dies, I’ll always have a backup.

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Vehicle Maintenance

An Ounce of Prevention

On a similar note, I saw you mentioned on Twitter that you keep your own car emergency kit in a milk crate – what do you keep in yours?

As a dad of three, anytime we get into the car we have a lot of stuff so I like to keep my emergency items in a milk crate, because it’s sturdy and keeps all of the items in one place with minimal shuffle. I fill mine with household items such as a small flashlight, water bottles, a first aid kit and duct tape. Also, make sure you have jumper cables and a multipurpose tool in your car.  I recommend keeping a towel that you don’t care about in your trunk, this way if you ever have to look under the car you’ll have something to lay on.

What are the biggest mistakes you would say that people make before going on a road trip?

The most commonly overlooked aspect of planning a road trip is emergency car essentials! Liberty Mutual Insurance found that 45 percent of Americans don’t check to make sure they have emergency items in the car.

Another tip people often forget is checking the air pressure in their spare tire. Imagine getting a flat only to find out your spare tire is also flat! If you need air, most local gas stations have an air compressor.

And, as someone who is famous for doing things for yourself, what tips would you offer for summer car maintenance?

If you haven’t kept up with your car’s maintenance schedule, doing so before a summer road trip is a great place to get back on track!

Check your engine oil level if you haven’t gotten an oil change in a few months. Doing so before a long trip is always a great idea. At least check to make sure the level is OK. Many newer cars have a way to check the percentage of oil life that is left. Others have the usual dipstick that must be read while the engine is cold to get an accurate reading.

Additionally, top off your windshield wiper fluid before any road trip — be sure to use the type of fluid recommended by the car manufacturer. Use a type that that is appropriate for the driving conditions you expect to encounter.

It’s also important to check your tire pressure. Ensuring correct tire pressure can help to avoid serious accidents while also saving fuel and maintaining your car’s handling characteristics. Look in the owner’s manual or on the inside of the driver’s side door for the standard tire inflation pressure recommended for your vehicle type. Do NOT inflate your tires to the pressure marked on the tires. Always check your spare tire pressure, too!

[Chip Wade originally included a link to Liberty Mutual’s “Master This” series here, but to keep it from distracting from the interview, I moved the link to the Sources list below if you would like to check it out.]

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Chip Wade Talks Trucks

What was your first vehicle? 

1994 Ford Ranger

I saw on your Twitter you were driving around in a 1972 Ford truck. That is a very cool truck, would you like to tell us some about it? For example, what’s the story behind how you got it? 

It was my grandfather’s… my dad fully restored it.  I have pictures of me as a 2 year old standing in the driver’s seat in the driveway. It’s amazing how a restored old truck gets more attention than the new ones! And it has a story.

Also, is that a period-correct truck, or a modern engine in an old body?

Everything is restored original; part of the appeal is hand cranking down windows, no power steering and the sound of that old rumble, and the infamous oooga horn.

Chip Wade slamming truck tailgate

Photo: ChipWade.com

And, since the truck you are slamming the tailgate on in slo-mo on your website looks to be a Ford King Ranch F-Series, would you say you are a Ford guy when it comes to trucks? And if so, what do you like about them over the other trucks out there?

Well I guess my choices over the years have swayed towards Ford. I really like the interiors.  The King Ranch was the best interior available when I got it. That saddle leather and luxury accommodation is the rustic man’s Cadillac.

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Good Ideas: Here are some good preventative maintenance tasks you can perform on your vehicle


News Sources: ChipWade.com, Liberty Mutual’s MasterThis, Chip Wade via Twitter

Daniel Susco is a native of the Dayton-Cincinnati area, and has written on a multitude of subjects. He can discuss Shakespeare, expound on Classical Mythology, and even make witty jokes about Pliny the Elder (More like “Pliny the Rounder,” right?). In his free time, Daniel enjoys reading, cooking, woodworking, and long walks on the beach (just kidding – sunburn is no joke). See more articles by Daniel.