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Archive | Auto Life

10 tips to safely sell a car online

CAR-Ten-tips

(BPT) – Looking for a new set of wheels? Need to raise some cash for a home improvement project? Heading back to college?

Last year, a whopping 42.5 million used cars were sold in the United States, many by private owners. And 94 percent of those transactions involved an online search, according to leading online car website CarSoup.com.

While the Internet has made it easier than ever to buy a used car directly from a private party, buyers and sellers need to take precautions to ensure their safety and to prevent fraud.

The new e-book, “How to Safely Sell Your Car,” available on Amazon as well as through CarSoup.com, offers a number of specific tips on how to safely sell your car online, as well as suggestions on selling your car faster and for top dollar.

“Thousands of people safely sell their cars online every day, and you can too,” says Brian Bowman, chief technology officer of CarSoup.com. “Selling safely is the best way to make the most money and ensure a great sales experience for you and your buyer. The key is trust. The more trust you can build, the more satisfaction both parties will experience with the transaction.”

To sell your car safely and quickly online, Bowman offers these tips:

1. Go where the serious car buyers are. Avoid rummage-style websites and advertise your car on well-known, trusted websites that appeal to serious auto shoppers. For example, 54 percent of the active shoppers on a dedicated auto website like CarSoup.com buy a vehicle within 90 days.

2. VIN numbers reduce risk. Advertise your car with dedicated auto shopping websites that require a vehicle identification number (VIN). These websites help prevent fraud by matching the VIN numbers of cars advertised on their websites with public records to spot cars that have been reported stolen or cannot be legally sold.

3. Write an honest ad. The secret to preparing a great online ad, says Julie Spira, America’s cyber-dating expert, whose online advice is featured in the book, How to Safely Sell Your Car, is to clearly state what’s in it for the buyer and why you’re selling. Like online dating ads, Spira says, use lots of photos, add a heart-warming or funny story, and be honest to avoid surprises.

4. Ask lots of questions. Ask the buyer lots of questions, both by email and phone. Carefully listen to find out if your car will help fulfill their needs. Listen for evasive answers to questions about the buyer’s current driver’s license and auto insurance. Do a quick online search for the buyer’s name and location to check for any legal problems.

5. Don’t get too personal. When talking to a potential buyer, avoid revealing your address and other personal details. Don’t post photos of yourself with your car, or photos that show your home or valuable contents in your garage.

6. Get your paperwork ready. Have all of your paperwork (title, bank lien, driver’s license, car insurance, etc.) in order before meeting a buyer to finalize the sale. Tell the buyer to bring a current license and proof of auto insurance.

7. Meet in a public spot. Suggest meeting in a neutral public spot, during the daytime, to make you both feel safer. Invite a friend along and let the buyer know this ahead of time. If the buyer doesn’t have, or won’t let you review, their driver’s license and auto insurance card for the test drive, skip it. There will be plenty of other buyers, but there is only one you.

8. Remove personal items. When you clean your car for the test drive, clear out all valuables, including items in the trunk. Do not leave your wallet or smartphone in the vehicle.

9. State, up front, the test-drive route. Clearly state the test drive route and allotted time you have before getting into the car with the buyer. Sit in the backseat of the car to make the front of the car feel less crowded for the buyer during the test drive.

10. Complete the sale at the DMV. The sale of your car is not complete until you transfer the title of your car to the new owner, says Bowman. If a buyer takes possession of your car before the title is legally transferred, you will be held liable in the event that the buyer gets into an accident.

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Are your car seat fears founded?

CAR-Car-seat-fears

(BPT) – Driving your newborn home from the hospital is when you know your life has changed. Car safety before kids is relatively simple, but after your first child is born, it becomes more complicated, especially when it comes to proper car seat installation.

More than 50 percent of new fathers and 40 percent of new mothers expressed concern over mastering the proper car seat installation as one of their top fears when bringing home a newborn from the hospital, according to research from Cars.com and Toluna QuickSurveys.

Since the majority of newborns spend multiple hours in the car, knowing how to properly install a car seat is essential, and all too often done incorrectly. Seventy-five percent of children ride in car seats that aren’t properly installed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Although car seats (and the children in them) are all unique, Cars.com editor and expert mom Jennifer Newman offers these simple steps that are generally applicable to most car seat installations:

* Once you purchase a car seat, perform a car seat check in your own vehicle to see if your new car seat and car are compatible. Some stores will even let you try it out in your car before you buy.

* Make sure you’re using a car seat that meets the latest federal safety requirements and the height and weight of your child.

* Read both the car seat’s owner’s manual and your car’s owner’s manual to make sure you’re following the recommendations regarding installation.

* Locate your local child car seat inspection station, offered throughout the country to teach parents, both new and experienced, how to properly install any car seat.

* Car seats can be installed with either the latch system – the lower latch and tether anchors often found in the backseat – or with the seat belt. Use whichever is easier for you but never use both at the same time – this setup hasn’t been crash-tested and it could put too much stress on the car seat.

* After connecting the seat, using either method, make sure to push down on the seat as you tighten the latch straps or seat belt. The seat shouldn’t move more than an inch at the belt path.

* Register your car seat with the manufacturer and sign up for recall emails to ensure your child is not riding in a defective car seat.

* Visit Cars.com to learn more tips on child driving safety.

“Even seasoned parents should take some time to learn how to properly install the new car seats on the market. This will lower the risk of any injuries and will help keep your child protected if you ever get into a car crash,” Newman says.

Although many precautions should be taken by any parent before driving with a child, new parents should not be worried to take their child for a ride. By taking the proper steps parents should feel comfortable and confident while driving with their newborn so they can focus on the road and keep their child protected.

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Defeat drowsy driving dangers: Tips for staying awake at the wheel

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(BPT) – One in five fatal accidents in America involves a drowsy driver, according to a recent report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Unfortunately, driving while fatigued is common in today’s business world. Yet the consequences of driving when you’re tired can be tragic.

“Drowsiness is similar to alcohol in how it compromises driving ability by reducing alertness and attentiveness, delaying reaction times, and hindering decision-making skills,” says Dr. Nathaniel Watson, president-elect of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and national spokesperson for the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, which is raising awareness of the dangers of driving while fatigued. “Drowsy driving is deadly, but it can be prevented.”

The Healthy Sleep Project has issued a Drowsy Driving Health Advisory, which urges every driver to take responsibility for staying “Awake at the Wheel.” Drivers should make it a daily priority to get sufficient sleep, refuse to drive when sleep-deprived, recognize the signs of drowsiness, and pull off the road to a safe location when sleepy.

“Rolling down the windows or turning up the music will do little to increase your alertness while driving,” Watson says. “You can drink coffee for a short-term energy boost, but if you catch yourself drifting into other lanes or nodding off, it’s absolutely time to pull over and take a nap.”

Getting seven to nine hours of nightly sleep is the best way to prevent drowsy driving, according to the Healthy Sleep Project. Drivers should also avoid driving late at night or alone, and they should share the driving with another passenger on long trips.

How do you know if you’re too sleepy to drive? If you experience any of these warning signs, you should pull over or have another passenger take the wheel:

* You keep yawning or are unable to keep your eyes open.

* You catch yourself “nodding off” and have trouble keeping your head up.

* You can’t remember driving the last few miles.

* You end up too close to cars in front of you.

* You miss road signs or drive past your turn.

* You drift into the other lane of traffic.

* You drift onto the “rumble strip” or onto the shoulder of the road.

The Healthy Sleep Project also encourages transportation companies to promote public safety by adhering to hours-of-service regulations, scheduling work shifts based on sleep need and circadian timing, implementing an evidence-based fatigue management system, and screening commercial drivers for sleep diseases such as obstructive sleep apnea.

“There is no substitute for healthy sleep – it’s essential to promote personal safety and optimal alertness behind the wheel,” Watson says. “Evaluate your sleep habits, address potential problems with a board-certified sleep specialist, and make sleep a priority to protect yourself, your passengers and other drivers from avoidable, life-threatening accidents caused by drowsiness.”

For more information, visit projecthealthysleep.org.

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Five winter car care tips that save you money

CAR-Five-winter-car-care-tips

(BPT) Winter is when car trouble can cause big financial problems. So how do you keep your car winter-ready for severe weather and protect your budget? The right preventive care is essential, and the good news is that there are many simple things you can do to get your car ready for extreme weather without blowing your budget.

Before severe weather strikes, make sure to check these items off your car-care list:

* Avoid the “E.” A full tank of gas provides a comforting feeling. It’s also an effective way to protect your car in severe weather. An empty tank leaves room for the moisture inside to turn to ice. Keep your tank at least half full at all times to help prevent starting issues caused by a frozen fuel line.

* Check vital fluids. As simple as filling up, make sure to check and top off your vehicle’s antifreeze and examine your brake system, which includes your brake fluid.

* Double-check the tires. Driving on underinflated or worn tires makes it even more difficult to drive in ice or snow. Use a tire gauge to test the tire’s actual pressure and apply air as needed. Your tires should have the appropriate amount of pressure printed on its side. To check the wear of your tires, insert a penny into the tread. If you can see any part of Abraham Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace the tires.

* Be ready to battle ice. Ice on the roads is one problem, but ice on your windshield is another problem entirely. Prestone’s De-Icer Windshield Washer Fluid is designed to help melt ice and frost fast for streak-free and clear visibility down to -27 degrees.

* Prep for emergencies. Sometimes even the best planning can’t prevent a severe-weather accident. That’s why it’s good to pack a winter survival kit with an ice scraper, shovel, blankets, extra clothing, bottled water, jumper cables and a first aid kit for the backseat or trunk of your car. And don’t forget the cat litter—in case your tires need a little extra traction.

Not all winter car care maintenance needs to be handled in a mechanic’s garage. Easy DIY projects can help ensure your vehicle’s performance this winter and save you time and money in the long run. Get started on your preventive list today and you’ll be ready for whatever the season brings.

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Cable median barriers: A cost-effective means to save lives

 

From Michigan Department of Transportation

CAR-Fatal-crashes-TZD-bannerMedian-crossover crashes are among the most hazardous events that can occur on freeways, often leading to serious injury or death. In recent years, high-tension cable median barriers have emerged as a cost-effective alternative to conventional barriers in preventing such crashes. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) began installing them on state freeways in 2008. A recently completed research project confirmed that cable median barriers are effective at reducing crossover crashes and improving freeway safety in Michigan, produced guidelines to help identify the best locations to install them, and developed content for public outreach materials explaining their benefit.

After the barriers were installed, crossover crash rates on those highway segments fell by 87 percent, and the barriers successfully contained 97 percent of the vehicles that hit them. Cable barriers have improved overall safety at the locations where they have been installed. The most serious crash types—fatal and severe injury crashes—decreased by 33 percent after cable median barriers were installed, according to rigorous statistical analysis. Since their installation, cable barriers are estimated to have saved 20 lives and prevented over 100 serious injuries in Michigan.

The research study confirms that cable median barriers are a cost-effective treatment for reducing crossover crashes, fatalities and serious injuries in Michigan. The guidelines developed will give MDOT a framework for determining where cable barriers are likely to have the greatest positive impact and return on investment based on crash data and site characteristics specific to Michigan. MDOT is reviewing these recommendations for possible incorporation into future updates to the department’s median treatment design guidelines.

To help educate drivers about the safety benefits of cable median barriers, the researchers also developed content for public outreach messaging, including an update to MDOT’s 2011 brochure on cable median barriers. For a copy f the new brochure go to http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/MDOT_GuardrailSystemBrochure_300385_7.pdf

For more information on the research go to the MDOT Research Spotlight at: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/RC1612_Spotlight_479486_7.pdf

The statewide goal is to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all roadways from 889 and 5,706 respectively in 2011, to 750 and 4,800 in 2016. The mission is Toward Zero Deaths on Michigan Roadways. Visit www.michigan.gov/zerodeaths for more informaiton.

 

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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

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(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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