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Archive | Auto Life

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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Keeping your eyes (and tires) on the road

(BPT) – Have you ever thought about all of the distractions associated with driving? Weather, kids, pets, eating, cell phones, billboards, the radio and even a friend riding shotgun all compete for the driver’s ever-shrinking attention span.

Keep eyes and tires on roadSome distractions like cell phone usage—whether talking or texting—pose a greater risk than others in keeping the road a safe place. At any given time, more than 600,000 people in the U.S. are using their phone or other electronic device while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency. If that’s not scary enough, a study by the University of Utah reports the impairments associated with cell phone usage are similar to intoxicated drivers. In short, distracted drivers, much like drunk drivers, are more likely to drive aggressively, tailgate, hit the brakes harder, have slower reactions and cause accidents. Now more than ever, defensive driving has become critically important.

“One way to battle distracted driving is to be extra attentive to what’s around you as a driver,” says Andrew Briggs, director of marketing and product planning for Yokohama Tire Corporation, maker of a variety of truck and car tires. “Pay attention to what’s in front of you, behind you and to your sides. Keep enough distance between you and the other vehicles. Try to anticipate the action of the other drivers. These defensive driving techniques are already familiar to many of us, but practicing them in our daily driving, especially these days, can help determine whether one will be in an accident or avoid one.”

The ability to stop quickly or change lanes is another essential technique and that’s where your tires can play an important role. “Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that grips the road,” says Briggs. “The first line of defense, even before you get on the road, is to make sure that your tires are properly maintained. You always want to make certain your tires have enough tread depth to ensure ample traction.”

Checking your tires’ tread depth is easy, Briggs says. “Tires should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch to help prevent skidding and hydroplaning. Simply place a penny upside down into a tread groove. If part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, you’re driving with at least that 2/32 of an inch that is a minimum amount of tread required. If you can see all of his head, you should buy new tires.”

Briggs offers more tips that will keep your tires road-ready:

* When the tires are cold (at least four hours after the vehicle has been driven), check tire pressure with a reliable tire gauge. Be sure the valve stems have a plastic or metal cap to keep dirt out and a seal against water and foreign objects. The tires’ proper inflation level, as recommended by the car maker, can be found on a placard in the glove box, on the car door or in the owner’s manual.

* Check tire alignment once a year. Misaligned tires create unnecessary tire wear and lower mileage.

* Rotating your tires will prevent uneven wear and promote a better ride. Because the weight distribution on your car or truck can vary, it’s best to rotate your tires a few times a year, like every time you get your oil changed.

* Balancing act: Tires that are balanced correctly will give you a smoother ride and help prevent improper wear. You can get your tires balanced at the same time as your regularly-scheduled rotation.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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Running on empty: How far can you really go?

driving on empty(BPT) – Whether intentional or purely circumstantial, it’s likely that most experienced drivers have seen the low-fuel light illuminate their vehicle’s dashboard at least once. For some drivers, the fuel light is a source of anxiety as they search for the closest gas station. For others, it can be a bragging right, proudly boasting how far they push their gas tanks to the limit.

It’s no secret that an automobile can continue to run after the fuel light comes on, but should drivers rely on the extra mileage it allows?

It’s likely most drivers would agree that the fuel light often comes on at inopportune times. Stuck in traffic on a freeway; running late for an important appointment; or driving on a country road with no towns or gas stations in sight, is when drivers decide to push the fuel gauge past the ‘E’ signal.

Some popular car models can make it between 30 and 50 miles after the fuel light goes on, according to a study by Pick Analysis. The average Chevrolet Silverado will continue for about 33 miles beyond empty. Smaller cars like the Volkswagen Jetta average about 43 miles and the Toyota Corolla tops the list at 47 miles.

Knowing how far a vehicle can drive with low fuel may be reassuring, but the effects of low-fuel driving can be damaging to the car.

“When you’re running low on gas, it’s best not to push your luck,” says Neil Hoff, a refined fuels specialist with CHS, which supplies more than 1,400 Cenex branded gas stations. “Stopping to fill up before your gas gauge hits ‘E’ could save you stress, damage to your car and time spent on the side of the road.”

Hoff explains that by allowing a car to run on empty, dirt and contaminants are more likely to become suspended in the fuel and block the fuel filter. When fuel is extremely low, the fuel pump is no longer suspended in fuel and can overheat. In some cases, low fuel can even affect power steering and brakes.

To avoid an expensive trip to a mechanic, Hoff advises taking a proactive approach to fueling, advising drivers to always keep at least a quarter tank of gas in the tank at all times. Running out of gas in heavy traffic is not only inconvenient but also dangerous, so Hoff recommends fueling up before getting on highways or major roads. Also, becoming familiar with where gas stations are along a driving route will also help prevent running out of gas on long trips. Always keep a gas can in the trunk in case of emergencies.

“Keeping your car fueled is cheaper and safer, in the long run, than driving on empty,” Hoff says.

For more helpful automotive information, visit www.cenex.com.

 

 

 

 

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Tire maintenance is key to safe summer driving

 

As you head out on your next summer journey, take five and check your tires.

As you head out on your next summer journey, take five and check your tires.

(NAPS)—Tires are the only thing between you and the road, so it’s imperative motorists stay on top of tire maintenance. Proper tire maintenance is important all year, but especially in the summer months as the temperature starts heating up and the frequency of tire blowouts increases.

Improper tire care contributes to 195 fatalities and 6,300 injuries each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency also estimates that about 11,000 tire-related crashes occur annually. Simply checking your tire pressure can help you and your passengers stay safe during your next summer journey.

To get the most from your tires this summer, here are five maintenance tips from the world’s largest independent tire and wheel retailer—Discount Tire:

1. Get Pressure Right— Low tire pressure can decrease fuel economy. Tires may lose up to one pound PSI (per square inch) of air pressure per month. The specific inflation pressure number may be found on the vehicle placard located inside the driver’s door. Don’t forget those trailer tires. Checking the tire pressure for boat, travel and utility trailers is as important as your car or truck.

2. Don’t Overload—Overloading your vehicle or trailer decreases fuel economy due to increased cargo weight. Handling, control and braking are also negatively impacted.

3. Rotate Before You Go—Regular rotation helps achieve uniform tire wear and improves road performance. Tires rotated every 5,000 miles have longer life and will help maximize your tire investment.

4. Straighten Up—Proper wheel alignment provides safe, predictable vehicle control and helps tires wear evenly and last longer. If your tires squeal when you turn or if you notice your steering wheel veers to one side while driving straight, it’s time to get your wheels re-aligned.

5. Bald Isn’t Beautiful—Lack of tread affects the tire’s ability to grip the road, especially in wet conditions. Make sure tires don’t have uneven wear, which indicates something is wrong with the tire. High or low spots or unusually smooth areas may decrease traction and increase the risk of road accidents.

“Maintaining tire pressure is one of the most critical things motorists can do to improve road safety while getting the most from their tires,” said Mark Marrufo of Discount Tire. “Improperly in-flated tires lead to decreased steering and braking control as well as excessive tire wear and fuel consumption. Taking five minutes each month to inspect your tires will go a long way in keeping you and your passengers safe.”

A Five-Minute Fix

Checking tire pressure and tread is easy and can pay dividends when it comes to fuel economy and handling. Don’t go by appearances. Use a tire gauge to check the pressure since a tire can be 50 percent underinflated but still not appear flat.

Make it a habit to check tire pressure every month and always before a long journey. Use the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure and don’t forget to check the spare and trailer tires.

“Most people forget to check the pressure in the spare tire and come to find that when they need it, the spare is flat,” said Marrufo. “This simple check could keep you from a costly tow if you get stuck with a flat.”

Road trippers should also check tire tread depth by using the “penny test.” Insert a penny upside down into the tread. If you see Abe Lincoln’s entire head, it’s time to replace the tire.

To learn more about tire safety, visit www.discounttire.com.

 

 

 

 

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Potholes pack a powerful punch

Potholes occur when water permeates the pavement—usually through a crack from wear and tear of traffic—and softens the soil beneath it, creating a depression in the surface of the street.

Potholes occur when water permeates the pavement—usually through a crack from wear and tear of traffic—and softens the soil beneath it, creating a depression in the surface of the street.

(NAPS)—Hitting a pothole can be more than a momentary jolt. While the tires and wheels should be visually inspected as soon as possible, you should know there could be damage to the steering, suspension and alignment systems that you can’t see. To help determine if hitting a pothole has damaged your vehicle, watch for these warning signs:

• Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads. These indicate that key safety-related systems—the steering and suspension—may have been damaged. They largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Key components are shocks and struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack or box, bearings, seals and hub units, and tie rod ends.

• Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear. These mean an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for safe handling and long-lasting tires.

• Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the rim. These problems should be checked out as soon as possible as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road.

“If you’ve hit a pothole and suspect that there may be damage to the tires, wheels, steering and suspension, or wheel alignment,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council, “it’s worth having a professional technician check out the car and make any necessary repairs.”

As a general rule of thumb, he advises, steering and suspension systems should be checked at least once a year and wheels should be aligned at the same interval. Motorists who drive in areas where potholes are common should be prepared to have these systems checked more frequently.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.

Free Guide

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

 

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Clever tips and tricks to save on auto insurance

CAR-Tips-and-tricks(BPT) – Car insurance can take a bite out of your budget. On average, consumers shelled out nearly $800 for auto insurance for each vehicle in 2011, according to a recent report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. In some states, the annual cost to insure one car topped $1,100.

To cut insurance costs, the first thing to do is talk to your agent. Your agent can tell you about discounts and other painless ways to reduce your premiums, says Charles Valinotti, a senior vice president with insurer QBE North America.

“Insurance companies reward drivers for behaviors that reduce risk,” Valinotti says. “But you have to ask your agent which discounts and savings apply to your situation. You may be surprised to learn the number of ways you can lower your premiums.”

For example, if one of your teenage drivers earns As and Bs in school, you may be eligible for a good student discount, Valinotti says. You may also be eligible for a discount if your son or daughter attends college more than 100 miles from home, and does not have a car at school.

Other ways to save include:

* Owning two or more cars and covering them on one policy.

* Owning a vehicle that’s outfitted with safety equipment like anti-lock brakes, air bags or a security system.

* Having a passive anti-theft device, such as a “smart” chip embedded within a car key.

* Paying the full cost of the premium up front.

* Safe driving. Keep your driving record accident-free for 36 months.

* Buying your auto and homeowners, renters or condominium insurance from the same company.

Whatever you do, don’t cut corners with coverage. While it may be tempting, it is best not to buy a policy that offers bare bones coverage. A savvier way to save money would be to increase your deductible, Valinotti advises.

“Rather than buying minimal coverage, think about increasing your potential out-of-pocket cost if you have an accident,” Valinotti says. “If you can handle it, raising your deductible can lower your premium without reducing the amount of coverage on your vehicles. Your agent can tell you exactly how much you’ll save in premiums by choosing a higher deductible policy.”

Don’t focus strictly on cost when choosing an insurer. A company that offers auto insurance at rock bottom prices may not be your friend if it takes forever to handle claims. Do your homework on a company’s record of claims service before you buy coverage.

 

 

 

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