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Archive | Auto Life

When The Check Engine Light Is On, Don’t Ignore It

Don’t be in the dark about your engine’s problem when the check engine light goes on: Get it looked at soon.

Don’t be in the dark about your engine’s problem when the check engine light goes on: Get it looked at soon.

(NAPSI)—Don’t take this lightly: One of the most vital signals of an improperly functioning vehicle is the check engine light and, when illuminated, it alerts the driver to a variety of existing potential problems. Nevertheless, vehicle checkups during car care events throughout the country reveal that the check engine light is on in nearly one out of 10 vehicles.

Some common malfunctions that can cause the check engine light to illuminate include a faulty oxygen sensor, mass airflow sensor, or spark plugs and wires. If the light flashes, the condition is more critical and must be checked immediately to prevent severe damage, which may include catalytic converter damage.

“When the check engine light comes on, it means that a vehicle system such as the ignition, fuel injection or emission control is not operating properly, even if the vehicle appears to be running normally,” explained Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council, the source for the “Be Car Care Aware” campaign promoting regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair.

“A glowing check engine light doesn’t mean you have to immediately pull the car to the side of the road, but it does mean you should get the car checked out as soon as possible. Ignoring the warning light could result in costly repairs. At the very least, the light could alert you to an engine problem that is negatively impacting fuel economy,” he added.

When scheduling service, make sure the automotive shop that examines your vehicle has professional technicians who are trained and certified in OBDII diagnosis and repair. The technician will connect your vehicle’s computer system to a diagnostic scan tool, which will indicate why the light was activated.

At the same time, the technician can analyze idle speed, throttle response, engine temperature, fuel system pressure, manifold vacuum, exhaust emission levels and many other key indicators. Once the problem is fixed, the car’s computer is reset to initiate its release process. The technician should then be able to tell you what needs to be done and discuss potential warranty coverage and further testing, if necessary.

Learn More

For a free “Car Care Guide” or for further information, visit www.carcare.org.

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Prepare for Holiday Travel Season 

 

Place emergency preparedness kits in vehicles 

 

The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) encourages Michigan citizens and visitors to prepare for the holiday travel season by placing emergency preparedness kits in their vehicles.

Michigan winters can produce extremely cold temperatures, large amounts of snow and bursts of freezing rain. In the event of an emergency, help may not be immediately available. By having an emergency preparedness kit in a vehicle, a person can survive until help arrives.

“Road conditions can quickly change for the worse during the winter months,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “A vehicle emergency preparedness kit adds a sense of safety and security when traveling to destinations this holiday season. If an incident does happen, you will be prepared and ready.”

Michigan weather is unpredictable any time of year, but especially during the winter months. If you are stranded in a winter storm, do not leave your vehicle. Stay with the vehicle and wait for help.

Essential items to include in a vehicle emergency preparedness kit include:

Hand-crank radio

Hand-crank flashlight

Cell phone charger

Windshield scraper

Blanket and extra clothes

Tire repair kit and pump

Emergency contact list

De-icer and extra anti-freeze

“Call Police” or other “Help” sign

Jumper cables

Tow chain or rope

Fire extinguisher

Cat litter or sand for better tire traction

Shovel

Flares

First aid kit

Bottled water and nonperishable, high-energy foods (e.g., granola bars, canned nuts, raisins, hard candy, trail mix, peanut butter and crackers)

In addition to having a vehicle emergency preparedness kit, the MSP/EMHSD reminds motorists to take extra precautions when stopping and driving in the winter weather.

Remember to brake before the turn and take the proper line of travel through the turn to reduce the potential for a skid to occur. If your car begins to skid, let off the throttle and brakes and use a quick hand-over-hand steering technique to turn the front tires in the direction you want to go.

“A vehicle’s handling capability is drastically reduced in winter weather, so take it slow on ice and snow,” Kelenske said. “Be sure to leave enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Always keep your focus on the road and avoid cell phone use while driving.”

Safe winter weather travel tips:

Check the weather before leaving for a destination. If the weather forecast looks dangerous, reschedule or postpone the driving trip.

Keep tires at the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure and routinely check tire pressure during cold weather.

Keep windshield solvent at full strength and make sure the reservoir is full, and keep new wiper blades on front and rear wipers, if so equipped.

Wash your vehicle for better visibility to other drivers, and remove ice and snow from all lights, windows and the license plate before driving.

Periodically check all lights and replace when necessary.

Have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic before making long-distance trips.

Travelers are encouraged to go to www.michigan.gov/roadconditions and www.michigan.gov/drive to check road conditions before traveling. Road conditions are also available by calling the MSP Travel Hotline at 1-800-381-8477. The MSP/EMHSD asks that you view these websites or call the Travel Hotline rather than calling your local MSP post or 911.

For more information about being prepared before, during and after an emergency or disaster, go to the MSP/EMHSD’s emergency preparedness website at www.michigan.gov/beprepared or Twitter at www.twitter.com/MichEMHS.

 

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Teenager danger: Five rules for young drivers

CAR-teenager-danger_driving_infographicCAR-Teenager-Danger(BPT) – If you’re feeling nervous about handing the car keys to your teenager for the first time, you’re not alone. It’s a common sentiment given some sobering statistics. According to teendriversource.org, 20 percent of all 16-year-old drivers will be involved in an accident during their first year behind the wheel. And studies show more teenage motor vehicle fatalities happen during the summer than any other time of year. But there are some things you can do to help keep your teenager from becoming a statistic. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has some tips and tools to keep your teen safe.

Though auto accidents are a fact of life for most drivers, even a minor fender bender can impact insurance rates, costing parents and teens for years to come. The good news is research shows teen drivers who follow rules are half as likely to get in an accident. Before your teen hits the road, consider establishing some simple guidelines to protect his or her safety and your wallet:

1. Set a driving curfew. More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Set a curfew to keep your teen off the road during these times.

2. Limit passengers. A teen’s relative risk of being involved in a fatal crash increases with each additional passenger. More passengers equal more potential distractions.

3. Make the cell phone off limits while driving. Talking and texting can double the likelihood of an accident. If your teen must use the phone, instruct him or her to pull over before doing so and be sure to set a good example when you are behind the wheel.

4. Empower your teen to exercise his or her rights as a passenger. Only 44 percent of teens say they would speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them. Remind your teens they are just as vulnerable in an accident as the driver, so they should speak up if they feel unsafe.

5. Be Prepared. Arm your teens with the knowledge of what they should do if they do get into an accident. Mobile apps such as WreckCheck can help take the guesswork out of a tense situation, guiding users through a step-by-step process to create an accident report. WreckCheck uses your device’s location service, camera and audio recorder to document all pertinent information about the incident and provides tips on how to file and follow up on a claim.

A Teen Driver Contract is a simple way to keep your teen accountable. It establishes basic driving ground rules and clearly lays out the consequences associated with driving privileges. The NAIC has developed an online tool to guide parents through building a customized Teen Driver Contract. There’s also a downloadable sample contract to help get you started. Just visit www.insureuonline.org/insureu_special_teendriving.htm.

Educating yourself and your new driver about the risks and insurance implications of unsafe driving can save lives and money. As your teen begins his or her journey on the roadways, take time to speak openly and candidly about your expectations for behind-the-wheel behavior.

 

 

 

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Named your car? Then treat it like a good friend with these tips

CAR-NamedYourCar

(BPT) – When cousins Bo and Luke Duke from the television series The Dukes of Hazzard named their car “The General Lee,” they had the famous General Robert E. Lee in mind. Why? The show was set in the South, so perhaps it was to capture the Southern vibe of the Duke lifestyle. Maybe it symbolized rebellion against authority. Who knows? There are as many reasons for naming a car as there are drivers, and the Dukes were in good company when they named theirs.

Thirty-five (35) percent of Americans have named their car in the past, proving that our cars can have a deeper emotional hold on us than just a way to get from point A to point B, according to Hankook Tire’s quarterly Spring Gauge Index.

Gender influences choices. The Gauge showed that women are more likely to consider the car they drive a female, and men are more likely to consider their car male. On the other hand, approximately half of those surveyed stay gender-neutral when it comes to cars, considering their vehicle neither male nor female. Some of the most popular names were “Betsy,” “Bessie,” and “Baby.” On the other end were the more unconventional, exotic titles including “The Accordion,” “Petunia” and “NellyBelly.”

Whether or not you name your car, treat it like a friend and it will take better care of you. This season, treating your car right includes:

Anticipating slick surfaces – Stopping on a wet road can take up to four times the normal distance on a dry road. During wet weather conditions, drive slowly and keep in mind that stopping distances will be longer. Tires like the Hankook Ventus V12 evo2 have circumferential and Aqua Jet lateral grooves that promote efficient water evacuation from the center of the tire’s contact patch to enhance hydroplaning resistance and wet traction.

Learning to change a tire – Whether it’s from a class, a friend, or dear ol’ dad, take a few pointers on changing a tire. And always make sure you pack a spare tire in your trunk. You never know when you’ll find yourself in an unfortunate situation on the road.

Rotating your tires – Tire rotation extends the life of your tires and ensures optimal performance. Many don’t do this routinely, but when done correctly, tire rotation promotes even wear and improved tread life giving you the maximum life out of your tires. A professional tire dealer can get the job done for you in a quick visit.

 

 

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Simple Tips to Be More Efficient  in Your Garage

Visit http://bit.ly/GarageHacks for inspiration and use the hashtag #GarageHacks to share your own creative tips. PHOTO SOURCE: (c) JR Motorsports

Visit http://bit.ly/GarageHacks for inspiration and use the hashtag #GarageHacks to share your own creative tips. PHOTO SOURCE: (c) JR Motorsports

(StatePoint) Most everyone has a couple of tricks up their sleeve that make chores and tasks simpler. You likely have a few of your own — and once you develop a superior method of ticking off a to-do list item, it can be difficult to remember what your life was like before.

Here are a few such “lifehacks” straight from automotive experts, that you may not have thought of yourself, that can make your time in your garage more efficient and effective.

• Better organization: A well-maintained garage is a more pleasant place to work and can boost your efficiency. If your shovels, spades and other yard tools are stacked in a precarious pile, it’s time to create a better system.

Freelance automotive writer and photographer Maxwell Matthewson suggests screwing a ripped sheet of plywood to the studs of your shop or garage to hold yard and auto tools vertically and out of the way.

• Spark plugs in a snap: It can be tricky to remove spark plugs from hard to reach or extreme heat locations. The experts at JR Motorsports suggest attaching a vacuum to a length of rubber hose. With the proper size hose, this same method also works for nuts and bolts.

• Play favorites: Working on your vehicle? Don’t dig to find your favorite tools, says Tom Gerrald of Tripp Gerrald Motorsports. Save time when looking for the right wrench by using tape to color code the tools you reach for first.

• Stay in place: The professionals at JR Motorsports mark their nuts and bolts with a paint pen to ensure they haven’t moved or become loose.

• Share: Have your own DIY tips for the garage? Don’t keep them to yourself. Valvoline, the producer of automotive products, is spotlighting the creative “hacks” DIYers around the country are using to make life easier in the garage.

Submit your best ideas, tips and tricks that demonstrate how to improvise and boost efficiency, using the #GarageHacks hashtag at www.Facebook.com/Valvoline, www.Twitter.com/Valvoline and www.Instagram.com/Valvoline.

Check out the full album of Garage Hacks at http://bit.ly/GarageHacks for inspiration.

Is your time in the garage well-spent? With the right tricks, you can innovate the way you restore your ride, make home upgrades and maintain your yard.

 

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Online resource for new drivers 

CAR-New-drivers

New drivers should understand how preventive maintenance can keep a car running well.

(NAPS)—Most young people look forward to the day they get their driver’s license, but they should know that with the newfound freedom also comes the responsibility of caring for their car.

To help new drivers become more comfortable with the auto service and repair process, the Car Care Council, the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” campaign promoting regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair, has a variety of online resources including a video entitled “Auto Service and Repair: What to Expect.” It provides valuable information on such topics as finding the right auto repair facility, what happens at the shop and what questions to ask. The video also covers consumer rights and the manufacturer’s warranty.

Also available at www.carcare.org/car-care-guide is a free 80-page booklet in English and in Spanish. The popular guide uses easy-to-understand language and includes descriptions of major vehicle systems, questions to ask a professional technician, and a checklist to remind drivers what vehicle systems need to be maintained and when service or repair should be performed. Special sections on fuel economy and environmental awareness show new drivers how to get better gas mileage and make their vehicle more environmentally friendly.

The Council’s online custom service schedule and e-mail reminder service can also help young people remember to include car care in their busy schedules. This free, easy-to-use resource can be personalized to help make auto care more convenient and economical. There’s also a general service schedule that can be printed and followed. New drivers should be sure to consult their vehicle owner’s manual for specific recommendations by the carmaker.

“Before handing over the keys to new drivers, it’s a good idea to take some time to educate them on the importance of preventative maintenance and how proper vehicle care relates to the reliability and safety of their car,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council.

For a copy of the council’s “Car Care Guide” or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.

 

 

 

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MDOT reminds motorists and bicyclists to share the road

CAR-Fast-FactsCAR-motorists-and-bicyclistsThe Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) wants to remind motorists and bicyclists alike to be courteous and share the road.

Schools are now in session, but that doesn’t mean the bicycling season is over. Many people are riding bicycles, either individually or in groups, taking in the fall colors on scenic roadways or shopping for farm fresh produce at roadside stands. Motorists are reminded that bicyclists are legal users of the roadway and groups of bicyclists are legally allowed to ride on the roadway without special event permits or accommodations, while following all applicable laws.

In early 2014, MDOT and the Michigan Department of State (MDOS) released a “share the road” video, showing the wide range of bicyclists everyone must share the road with. It features cameo appearances by State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who remind bicyclists to follow the rules of the road, and motorists to pass bicyclists at a safe distance.

A recently released report on the economic benefits of bicycling estimated that organized bicycle events and bicycle-related vacations contribute $38 million to the Michigan economy. These organized group events are important contributors to our communities and states economy.

MDOT reminds drivers: Lives are in your hands – always pass cyclists at a safe distance.

 

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Treat Yourself To A Healthier Car Ride

Replacing your car’s cabin air filter is a simple way to be sure you and your passengers can breathe easier while driving.

Replacing your car’s cabin air filter is a simple way to be sure you and your passengers can breathe easier while driving.

(NAPS)—Allergies are nothing to sneeze at. Fortunately, your car can protect you from the pollen, dust and pollutants that are drawn inside through air-conditioning and ventilation systems.

The cabin air filters clean the incoming air, removing allergens. For your part, you should replace these regularly.

Expert Advice

“A dirty or clogged cabin air filter can cause contaminants to become so concentrated in the cabin that passengers actually breathe in more fumes and particles when riding in the car than when walking down the street,” explains Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council—the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair.

A restricted cabin air filter can cause musty odors in the vehicle and impair airflow in the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, possibly causing interior heating and cooling problems. Over time, the heater and air conditioner may also become damaged by corrosion. In addition to trapping pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust gases, the cabin air filter prevents leaves, bugs and other debris from entering the HVAC system.

Cabin air filters should not be cleaned and reinstalled. Instead, they should be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or per the owner’s manual. Most filters are accessible through an access panel in the HVAC housing, which may be under the hood or in the interior of the car. An automotive service technician can help locate the cabin filter and replace it according to the vehicle’s owner manual. Some filters require basic hand tools to remove and install the replacement filter while others just require your hands.

Free Guide

To learn more about cabin air filters, view the Car Care Council’s Car Care Minute video or free digital “Car Care Guide” at www.carcare.org. There, you can also order a free printed copy of the guide.

 

 

 

 

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Top three auto repair red flags

RepairPal.com provides drivers with referrals to certified mechanics who do quality work at fair prices with no hidden fees.

RepairPal.com provides drivers with referrals to certified mechanics who do quality work at fair prices with no hidden fees.

(NAPS)—Finding an auto re-pair shop you can trust can be a challenge. Here are three warning signs to watch for on your next trip to the mechanic.

• While no one likes to be overcharged, beware of estimates that are well under market rate. This can be a sign the mechanic is using low-quality or even used parts. Some mechanics use lowball estimates to lure you in for additional repairs that they will tack on later.

• Automotive technology is rapidly evolving and some shops fail to keep up. Without up-to-date diagnostic tools, a mechanic could misdiagnose your problem, which means you’ll pay for unnecessary repairs that don’t even fix your original problem.

• If a mechanic employs scare tactics or treats you in a condescending way, move on. A reputable mechanic will take the time to explain your options just as a doctor guides you to make the right decision for your health.

Fortunately, there’s a free service called RepairPal that can help consumers find a trustworthy local mechanic. RepairPal independently certifies auto repair shops nationwide for superior training, quality tools, fair pricing standards and a minimum 12-month/12,000-mile warranty.

RepairPal also provides car owners with a tool that brings transparency to repair costs—the RepairPrice Estimator. Cited as a resource by Consumer Reports, AOL Autos and Cars.com, this patented calculator generates fair price quotes based on the user’s automobile, location, and the service requested. All mechanics in the RepairPal Certified shop network honor these estimates to give consumers peace of mind that they’ll never be overcharged.

To learn more, visit www.RepairPal.com/estimator.

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July is vehicle theft protection month

Protect yourself from being a victim

During National Vehicle Theft Protection Month, the Michigan Automobile Theft Prevention Authority (ATPA) is seeking to educate the public and raise awareness on auto theft and carjackings.

“July and August are the top months of the year for vehicle theft in Michigan and throughout the country,” said Mr. Dan Vartanian, executive director of ATPA. “Motorists can avoid becoming victims by taking some simple precautions.”

The ATPA suggests the following tips:

• Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.

• Keep your keys with you at all times. Never leave your keys in or on your vehicle.

• Close and lock all windows and doors when you park your vehicle.

• Always park in well-lit areas or in a garage, if possible.

• Never leave valuables in your vehicle, especially in view.

Additional information on how to prevent becoming a victim can be found by visiting the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security at http://www.state.gov/m/ds/rls/rpt/19782.htm.

Since the inception of the ATPA in 1986, auto thefts in Michigan have decreased by over 65 percent.

The ATPA assesses the scope of the problem of automobile theft, analyzes various methods of combating the problem, establishes a plan for providing financial support to combat automobile theft and grants funds for theft prevention teams. The authority is governed by a seven-member board of directors appointed by the

Governor, which includes representatives of law enforcement, automobile insurers and consumers of automobile insurance. Each year the board awards grants to law enforcement agencies, prosecutors’ offices and nonprofit community organizations to prevent auto theft, catch auto thieves and put the thieves in jail.

For additional information about the authority, visit www.michigan.gov/atpa.

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