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Archive | August, 2009

Are 3,000 mile oil changes really necessary?

(ARA) – For years, drivers have been hearing about changing their motor oil every 3,000 miles, but times have changed, and the 3,000-mile mantra may or may not apply to you and your car.

The 3,000-mile oil change is a conservative approach to maintaining your vehicle that, according to General Motors, dates back to 1968. It’s also an oil change interval that continues to be encouraged by the automotive oil change industry.

Automobile manufacturers cite modern oil and engine technology as the reason why oil change intervals can be extended. Numerous factors come in to play in determining the oil change interval you should follow including: The car you drive and the way you drive it, oil and filter selection and whether your vehicle has an oil life monitoring system.

Every automobile manufacturer establishes recommended oil change intervals for each model they manufacture. Oil change intervals are now between 5,000 and 7,500 miles for many new cars.

You should follow your car manufacturer’s recommendations on oil change intervals while the car is under warranty. If your car is no longer under warranty, you can extend your oil change intervals by upgrading to synthetic motor oil. This will reduce the number of oil changes saving you time and money, and reducing the amount of oil purchased and disposed.

There are a number of quality synthetic motor oils available to choose from. Most lubricant manufacturers will give a recommended number of miles you can drive between oil changes under normal conditions. The number of miles you can allow between oil changes will depend on the way you drive and the oxidation stability (useful oil life) of the motor oil.

Oxidation stability can be measured by international standards board ASTM’s rigorous Thin Film Oxidation Uptake Test (TFOUT). The test is so severe that it lasts 1,300 minutes. Conventional motor oils typically last less than 300 minutes. Synthetic motor oils typically last less than 500 minutes. One high performance synthetic motor oil, Royal Purple has been shown to outlast the duration of the test. Royal Purple motor oils are recommended to extend oil changes intervals to as much as 12,000 miles under normal driving conditions. The motor oil has also been shown to improve fuel economy. You can find out more at www.royalpurple.com.

If you elect to upgrade your motor oil, you should also upgrade your oil filter. Low quality filters are often made with the 3,000-mile interval in mind and may go into bypass mode shortly thereafter. There are a number of premium oil filters on the market from manufacturers such as Wix, Purolator and Royal Purple. Check the recommended filter change interval on any filter your purchase.

A fairly new technology impacting oil change intervals is the oil life monitor. Many people are unaware that oil life monitor systems are simply computer software algorithms that determine when to change oil based on engine operating conditions. An oil life monitor looks at mileage, speed and idling time to calculate when you should change the oil. A better name for the oil life monitor might be oil life predictor.

There is no actual oil condition sensor or a chemical analysis of the oil. In fact, you could drain the oil and replace it with any fluid and the oil change monitor would have no way of knowing it. Additionally, the oil life monitor does not monitor how well your oil filter is filtering the oil in your system. Contaminated oil is just as, if not more harmful than oxidized motor oil. The bottom line is that an oil life monitor is a useful tool that should be used in concert with common sense and good judgment.

Whether or not you have an oil change monitor, if your car is still under warranty, stick with the car manufacturer’s recommended oil change intervals. If your car is no longer under warranty, you can go beyond the typical 3,000-mile oil change or beyond the oil change monitor’s recommendations by upgrading to a high performance synthetic motor oil and high performance oil filter.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Posted in Auto LifeComments (1)

Green your car from top to tires

(ARA) – “Green” is in, and everyone’s jumping on the environmental bandwagon. But if you don’t drive a hybrid, how can you make your car more environmentally friendly? Try looking at where the rubber meets the road: your tires.

Admittedly, tires aren’t the sexiest things, but recent technological advances have made them easier on the planet.

The dB Super E-spec tires from Yokohama Tire Corporation are made with orange oil, which replaces much of the normally-used petroleum. This new tire represents one of the biggest breakthroughs in tire making since the more than century-old discovery of vulcanized rubber. It certainly gives new meaning to the common auto phrase, “peel out.”

“We’re trying to help save the planet, one orange oil tire at time,” says Yokohama’s Mark Chung. “Essentially, the Super E-spec blends renewable natural rubber with the orange oil extracted from peels at juicing plants. This combo makes the tire 80 percent petroleum free, which is great for the environment.

“Folks can also save cash at the gas pump because the orange oil tires are lighter and more fuel efficient. Every gallon of gas saved by the Super E-spec means 20 fewer pounds of CO2 released into the atmosphere,” says Chung.

Another way fuel efficiency is achieved is through proper tire inflation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that approximately 37 million cars and 29 million trucks have underinflated tires. A motorist, according to AAA, who drives an average of 12,000 miles annually on tires that are underinflated by five to eight psi (pounds per square inch) is wasting up to 50 gallons of gasoline, equating to $141.50 (at $2.83 a gallon) a year. That’s more than half the cost of a week’s worth of groceries ($226) for a family of four, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If there are two drivers in the family, that total comes to $283, well over a week’s worth of food for the family.

Chung offers additional earth-friendly tips:

  • Once a month, check tire inflation when the tires are cold (at least three to four hours after the vehicle has been driven) check tire pressure with a reliable tire gauge. Be sure that the valve stems have a plastic or metal cap to keep dirt out and seal against leakage.
  • Tires should be rotated at least every 6,000 to 8,000 miles and the alignment should be checked once a year. Misaligned tires can cause the car to scrub, which lowers mileage and causes unnecessary tire wear.
  • An overinflated tire changes and increases wear on the center of the tread. A tire is designed to run with the vehicle’s weight spread correctly in the road contact zone.
  • Replace your air filter. A clogged air filter blocks the air needed to burn fuel efficiently which wastes gas.
  • Keep your car tuned up according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule and you’ll keep all systems in good working order, which can optimize your mileage.
  • Slow down. For every five miles per hour you go above 60 mph, you’re lowering your gas mileage and, ultimately, paying even more for each gallon of gas.

For additional tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com or www.rma.org.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Tween and teen fashion trends make back-to-school fun and affordable

BACK-Teen-and-tween-trends(ARA) – This year’s back-to-school clothing trends are all about expressing individual personality. Just as music allows the listener to express themselves, fashion is a way for tweens and teens to let their true personality shine through.

Actress and singer Selena Gomez has teamed up with Sears to share today’s hottest back-to-school teen trends. Here’s what the coolest kids in school will be wearing this year:

Trend 1 – Be inspired by music

“For me, music and fashion are two ways I really get to express myself,” says Gomez. Like many tweens and teens, the music she likes has become a huge influence on her taste in fashion. From rock to rap styles, this year will be the year of music-inspired clothing.

For example, skate-style outfits will feature bold colors and geometric patterns. Rocker styles are edgy and use dark or muted colors. Hip-hop styles have lots of flare and feature accessories such as cool hats and belts. Pop-styles tend to be trendy and mix and match lots of dressy elements with casual pieces.

Trend 2 – Accessorize!

Accessories are an easy and affordable way to transform any outfit and make it more unique and your own. For girls, this could include necklaces, bracelets, scarves and fun colored socks. For boys, watches, sunglasses and shoes top the list.

“Unique accessories are also great because they can add so much to an outfit and dress it up or create a totally different style,” says Gomez.

Trend 3 Mix and match for success

Get the most out of your back-to-school wardrobe. Consider new combinations, interesting patterns and mixing textures to find a style that is uniquely you.

Gomez suggests, “Try to mix up your wardrobe with a combination of trendy items as well those that are classic. For instance, everyone needs a great pair of skinny jeans that you can wear with anything, but look for unique pieces such as a cool jacket, vest or scarf that are perfect for back-to-school this year and really dress up your look.”

Trend 4 – Make your style your own

The golden rule of tween and teen fashion this year is to make your style all about you. “It’s so important for everyone, especially tweens and teens, to have their own sense of style. Even if that style is constantly changing, it’s an outlet for us to tell the world who we are and what we like,” says Gomez.

She suggests trying new things and creating a different look each day. The key is to find a style that gives you the confidence to walk in a room and feel really good about yourself. “What’s great is that Sears has all the top fashions to choose from and since it’s so affordable, you can always get the hottest new items and try a variety of looks,” says Gomez.

Do you have a fashion sense that stands out? Is music part of your unique personality? Visit www.Arrivelounge.com to view all the hot new fashion trends and check out the Sears Air Band Casting Call. You’ll also have a chance to help style the band, pick a name, design a logo and more. The winner will get great prizes like a Sears back-to-school wardrobe.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Hot-weather practice information

S-Hot-weather-practice-coacWith the beginning of another high school sports season approaching, there are always concerns about physical activity in hot and humid conditions. The Michigan High School Athletic Association continues to provide its member schools educational information to assist them in minimizing the possibility of heat-related catastrophic injuries to student-athletes.

The topic of heat-related injuries receives a lot of attention at this time of year, especially when deaths at the professional, collegiate and interscholastic levels of sport occur, and especially since they are all preventable with the proper precautions. In football, data from the National Federation of State High School Associations shows that 29 high school players have died from heat stroke since 1995—four occurring last year.

Each spring the MHSAA provides information to its member schools to help them prepare for hot weather practice and game conditions in the late Summer and early Fall. Football practice can begin at MHSAA member schools on Monday (August 10), followed by all other Fall sports on Wednesday (August 12).

“Heat Stress & Athletic Participation” is information from the National Federation of State High School Associations, which the MHSAA makes available on its website for use by all Fall sports teams. The information points out that student-athletes are subject to a variety of maladies from heat cramps to heat strokes at this time of year. Preventative steps are outlined, including hydration guidelines about what to drink and what not to drink. There are links to the Fall Sports Coaches Preseason Alerts, as well as additional information about hydration and heat illness on the Health & Safety page of the MHSAA Website. A copy of the information is available on the MHSAA Web site – http://www.mhsaa.com/Schools/HealthSafetyResources.aspx.

“Our coaches are so much more aware of hydration and heat issues now, but you can never let your guard down. We cannot emphasize enough that water be available in unlimited quantities at all times during practices,” said John R. Johnson, communications director for the MHSAA. “Additionally, coaching staffs need to be tuned into their student-athletes and be sure they are partaking of water. There is no excuse for any number of heat stroke deaths since they are all preventable. If schools and their student-athletes follow these guidelines, then we minimize the risk for heat-related problems.”

Johnson added that as student-athletes work out on their own individually or with a group of teammates in informal settings during the summer, they also need to be aware of their hydration.

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Rules changes announced for fall sports season

Significant rules change from a safety standpoint will be at the forefront as formal preparations for the 2009-10 fall sports season begin next week for over 110,000 students, in eight sports, at member schools of the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Practice sessions began on Monday (August 10) in football with golf, followed by all other sports on Wednesday (August 12). A major change to the calendar that begins with the new year is that all sports now have a required number of practice days before they engage in competition, to provide a framework that promotes conditioning and a legitimate window for team tryouts to be conducted in.

Practice in football must begin on August 10 for all schools wishing to begin regular season games the weekend of August 27-30. Schools must have 12 days of preseason practice at all levels before their first game, which may not occur before 16 calendar days. All football schools must also conduct at least three conditioning days of practice before beginning contact, and the conditioning sessions may not include any pads.

In golf and tennis, competition may commence no earlier than after three separate days of team practice, and not before seven calendar days. The first day competition may take place in golf and tennis is August 19. In all other fall sports, contests can take place after seven days of practice for the team and not before 14 calendar days.The first day competition may take place in cross country, tennis soccer, swimming and diving, and volleyball in the fall is August 21.

This year, two football dates precede Labor Day, and Thursday varsity games will take place both weeks. In Week 1, 41 eleven-player games will be played on Thursday, 250 contests will be played on Friday, and 15 games will be played on Saturday. The following weekend, 216 games will be played on Thursday, 86 games will be played on Friday, and 7 games will be played on Saturday.

The major football rules change by the National Federation of State High School for 2009 is that the horse-collar tackle has been added to the list of illegal personal fouls. Effective this season, it will be illegal to grab the inside back or side collar of the runner’s shoulder pads or jersey and subsequently pull the runner to the ground. The penalty will be 15 yards from the succeeding spot.

There are two other risk-minimization changes in 2009.  One change will make it illegal to grasp an opponent’s chin strap, in addition to the opponent’s face mask or edge of a helmet opening.  The national rules committee also made a significant change in an effort to reduce the risk of injury along the sidelines.  A maximum of three coaches may be in the restricted area between the sideline and the restraining line to communicate with players during dead-ball situations. Before the ball becomes live, however, the coaches must retreat into the team box. This is to keep the six-foot zone between the sideline and the restraining line open for officials the length of the field. The restraining line is also in place outside the team bench area to keep other sideline personnel—chain gangs, trainers, media, and others—back from the field during play.

The most visible rules change in girls volleyball will permit head coaches to stand during play with limitations.  The head coach may stand in the libero replacement zone during play, and shall not be closer than six feet to the sideline.  If the team bench is carded by the official at any point during the match, the head coach will lose the privilege to stand for the remainder of the match. Additionally, a change was made to allow the ball to contact any part of the body legally. Previously, the ball was only allowed to hit a player from the waist up for the contact to be legal.

Based on an increase of sponsorship by member schools in Lower Peninsula Girls Golf, the MHSAA post-season tournament expands to four divisions of plays beginning this fall.

The 2009 fall campaign culminates with post-season tournaments beginning with the Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals the week of Sept. 30, and wraps up with the Football Playoff Finals on November 27-28.  Here is a complete list of fall tournament dates:

Cross Country:

U.P. Finals — Oct. 24
L.P. Regionals — Oct. 30 or 31
L.P. Finals — Nov. 7

Football:

Selection Sunday – Oct. 25
Pre-Districts – Oct. 30 or 31
District Finals — Nov. 6 or 7
Regional Finals — Nov. 13 or 14
Semifinals — Nov. 21
Finals — Nov. 27-28

L.P. Girls Golf:

Regionals — Oct. 8 or 9 or 10
Finals — Oct. 16-17

Soccer:

Boys L.P. Districts — Oct. 19-24
Boys L.P. Regionals – Oct. 27-31
Boys L.P. Semifinals – Nov. 4
Boys L.P. Finals — Nov. 7

L.P. Girls Swimming & Diving:

Diving Quals — Nov. 17
Swimming/Diving Finals-Nov. 20-21

Tennis:

U.P. Girls Finals – Sept. 30 or Oct. 1 or 2 or 3
L.P. Boys Regionals — Oct. 8 or 9 or 10
L.P. Finals –Oct. 16-17

Girls Volleyball:

Districts -Nov. 2-4 & Nov. 5 or 6 or 7
Regionals – Nov. 10 & 12
Quarterfinals – Nov. 17
Semifinals – Nov. 19-20
Finals – Nov. 21

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