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Archive | Auto Life

April is Financial Literacy Month

What to know before buying or leasing a vehicle

CAR-Auto-Financing(StatePoint) Buying or leasing a vehicle is an exciting decision. For many consumers, it’s the first “big ticket” item they acquire. Knowing what to expect before making this important financial commitment will help you feel confident about your decision for years to come.

“To make wise decisions, it pays to understand the tools available to educate yourself on financing a vehicle,” says Mike Kane, vice president of Consumer Credit Operations at Ally Financial. “The internet has made it easy for shoppers to access these tools, which can help you get the most for your money during the financing process.”

This April, which is Financial Literacy Month, Kane is offering some auto finance tips to help you make sense of the process.

• Ways to Pay. There are a few different options when it comes to buying or leasing a vehicle, such as paying cash, getting a loan from a bank or credit union, or negotiating a retail contract or lease through a dealership. It’s important to choose the option that works best for you.  Visiting different dealerships is a way to learn more about the options available.

• What to look for. When financing the purchase of a vehicle, the total amount you pay during the term of the retail contract will depend on several factors including the price of the vehicle, the amount you finance and the Annual Percentage Rate (APR).

• The length of your retail contract matters. Retail contract terms typically range from two to six years, or longer. The longer you take to pay, the lower your payments will be, but your total cost to finance will increase. The length of your retail contract may also impact your options to trade in your vehicle, should you have an outstanding balance. Choose the terms that best fit your financial situation.

• Negotiation may be part of the transaction. The terms of the financing — such as the APR, vehicle selling price, down payment, monthly payment amount and term — may be negotiable with the dealership. Ask about any incentives the dealership offers, such as cash rebates or low APRs.

• Do your homework. Using free online tools like payment calculators or vehicle valuation guides will give you the information you need when it comes to negotiating with the dealer.

• Stick with your budget. There are ways to stay within your budget after all the negotiations are over as well. For example, once you have your vehicle, you’ll need insurance. To get a lower premium, consider increasing your insurance deductible, should it fit your financial situation.

For more auto-related financial advice and for free resources, visit www.allywalletwise.com.

Remember, there is no one “right” way to finance a vehicle; only a series of choices you can make to get the most for your money. If you’re planning to finance or lease a vehicle in the near future, improve your financial knowledge to better understand the process.

 

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Three easy DIY tips to maintain your vehicle

CAR-DIY-tips(BPT) – When it comes to vehicle maintenance there are two schools of practice: the “do it for me” and the “do it yourself.” The majority fall under the first category, meaning they opt to take their vehicle in for maintenance, mostly because having the ability to lift your vehicle for an oil change or having the proper tools for a tire rotation are not common in an average garage. We all know about the basic maintenance you should be doing like getting your oil changed and checking the belts and hoses for wear. But did you know there are other aspects of your vehicle you can easily maintain and, by doing so, will extend the life of your vehicle?

Spark plugs – The role of the spark plug is to ignite fuel in the cylinders. Spark plugs that aren’t working to their full capacity can reduce gas mileage or cause damage to other parts of the vehicle that can result in expensive repairs. If you choose to replace your own spark plugs instead of having the shop do it, the cost is less than $10 per spark plug.

Fuel injectors – Similar to spark plugs, fuel injectors are an important component to the life of your engine and car, particularly if you make a lot of short trips or have many miles on your vehicle. Fuel injector openings are half the size of a pinhole and can become blocked from sediment that gets into your vehicle via the gasoline. Why keep your fuel injectors clean? Driving with dirty fuel injectors can lead to poor acceleration, lower power, reduced fuel economy, rough idling and high carbon monoxide emissions. An easy way to maintain your fuel injectors is to use a fuel injector cleaner and stabilizer like Royal Purple’s Max-Clean. Use a bottle of Max-Clean by simply pouring it into your gas tank before your fill up at the gas station. Good for both gasoline and diesel vehicles, it can restore fuel economy and clean injectors.

Air filter – How often you change your air filter depends on where you drive. Regular travel in rural areas will require you to change your air filter more often than you would if the majority of your driving is on the highway. Driving with a dirty air filter can cause a pressure drop that restricts airflow, reducing fuel economy, performance and emissions. A good way to determine if your air filter is dirty is to remove it and hold it up to the light. If it is caked with dirt you should replace it. Shaking or blowing it out will not clean it, but only embed the dirt further into the fibers.

In addition to following a regular maintenance schedule for your vehicle, checking less thought of items can result in better fuel economy, and therefore result in money savings and longer life of your vehicle.

 

 

 

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Avoiding air bag fraud

It’s a good idea to check any used car for properly functioning air bags.

It’s a good idea to check any used car for properly functioning air bags.

(NAPS)—The next time you’re thinking of buying a used car, remember, what you don’t see can hurt you.

We’re talking about air bags. Be sure they’re present and working properly.

As many as 250,000 counterfeit air bags may have been used to replace deployed ones, according to the federal government. But that’s not all.

Air bag fraud also can involve:

• Stuffing things in the air bag compartment (newspaper, packing peanuts)

• Air bags found in junkyards

• Stolen air bags

• No air bags at all.

What To Do

Start by simply turning the ignition. If the air bag indicator doesn’t come on at all or stays on, there may be a problem.

Also, check Carfax for reported accidents and air bag deployments, and get a mechanic’s inspection.

Learn More

For further facts and reports, visit www.carfax.com.

 

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How to extend the life of your car or truck

Following your manufacturer’s recommendations can help you extend the life of your vehicle.

Following your manufacturer’s recommendations can help you extend the life of your vehicle.

(StatePoint) Your vehicle is one of your biggest investments, so taking care of your car or truck just makes good sense.

While regular wear and tear cannot be avoided over time, there are some important steps you can take to keep your vehicle on the road longer:

Wash Your Car

Regularly washing your car may keep you riding in style, but a clean vehicle is not just for appearances.

Keeping your car or truck clean and free of debris and detrimental road salt will prevent rusting and costly repairs down the line.

Oil Changes and Filters

To protect your engine, follow your manufacturer’s recommended oil change intervals. Instead of conventional oil, consider using high performance synthetic motor oil designed to reduce wear, heat and fuel consumption.

Just like motor oil, not all oil filters are of the same quality — filters can be classified as “economy,” “better,” and “best. Since the oil filter prevents contaminants from circulating through the system and causing damage, opting for a premium oil filter will extend the life of your vehicle.

For example, Royal Purple oil filters use micro-glass filter technology. Advanced micro-glass oil filters are designed to extend the life of vehicles and equipment. In addition to superior filtration media, the other internal and structural components are of higher quality materials, making for easier installation and removal as they are much less prone to crush while installing or removing.

More information on motor oil and filters can be found at www.RoyalPurpleConsumer.com.

Smoother Driving

The way you drive can affect your vehicle’s performance and longevity. Take care to accelerate and decelerate smoothly. Not only will you increase your fuel economy, but you’ll extend the life of your brake pads.

Avoid feel-good driving maneuvers like revving the engine and try not to drive on a nearly empty gas tank. Neither of these behaviors is good for your engine, and could result in costly repairs.

By following a maintenance routine and practicing good driving habits, you can extend the life of your vehicle well after driving it off the lot.

 

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New laws emerge as technology impacts cars and driving

CAR-Technology(BPT) – Have you ever felt that new technologies, from smartphones to Internet apps, are moving so fast that it’s hard to keep up?

You’re not alone. Many Americans feel overwhelmed by new technology. One-third of adults in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and China said they felt overwhelmed by technology in a 2011 study conducted by the University of Cambridge.

As it relates to public policy, lawmakers may also be feeling overwhelmed as they try to keep up with researching, writing and passing legislation to regulate new technologies to maintain public safety or prevent the invasion of privacy. According to the WestlawNext, the leading online legal research service, more than 100,000 new or changed statutes, 160,000 new or modified regulations and 285,000 new judicial opinions were incorporated into the U.S. legal system in 2013.

“New technology can create a debate,” says Rachel Utter, manager of Legal Editorial Operations at Thomson Reuters. “As regulators come to understand the impact of a new technology on our day-to-day lives, they may be challenged with balancing the benefits of a new technology with public safety concerns. In some cases, such as fuel mileage mandates, government regulation can force the development of new technology, such as hybrid engines and electric cars.”

Among the new wave of enacted or proposed legislation involving technology and cars conducted via WestlawNext through Jan. 30, some of the most prominent include:

* Texting and driving – Forty-one states and the District of Columbia ban texting with smartphones and cellphones for all drivers – and all but four have primary enforcement, allowing law enforcement in those four states to only ticket someone for texting while driving if they were stopped for another reason such as speeding.

* Wearable technology – With the recent introduction of Google Glass and other evolving wearable technology such as the smart watches and smart contact lenses, lawmakers may need to develop new laws about the use of these technologies while a person operates a motor vehicle. Ten states – Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming – have enacted or have proposed legislation prohibiting the use of wearable computers with a head-mounted display while driving. In October 2013, a California woman may have been the first person in the United States to receive a citation for operating a motor vehicle while wearing Google Glass. The citation was later thrown out of court.

* Black boxes – Nearly all recently manufactured U.S. cars and trucks are equipped with an Event Data Recorder (EDR), also known as a black box. In September 2014, this piece of computing technology will become mandatory in all new U.S. vehicles. The EDR monitors a vehicle’s electrical systems, which includes speed, braking, driving patterns and even location at any given time. A number of legal questions have emerged about black boxes, such as: “Who owns the data that a vehicle’s black box is gathering? If a car owner is involved in a crash, do police and insurance companies have the right to review the data in the vehicle’s EDR? Can marketers buy the data to deliver ads through the vehicle’s entertainment system?” These questions are at the heart of a recent bill introduced by senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

* Driverless cars – Imagine a day when people travel by car, but don’t actually drive the car. They simply type in their destination and go. Several states have passed laws allowing automated cars. California, Florida, Nevada and the District of Columbia allow autonomous vehicles to be driven on public roads. Washington D.C. may have the least restrictive provisions: the vehicle must have a manual override feature, a driver must be in the control seat with the ability to take over operation of the vehicle, and the vehicle must be capable of operating in compliance with the District’s traffic and motor vehicle laws.

“Technology, whether implemented into how automobiles are designed or operated, has made significant contributions in making vehicles safer,” says Utter. “And as new technology is integrated, there will be questions, concerns and debate driving new regulation and legislation.”

To learn more about WestlawNext, visit www.thomsonreuters.com.

 

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MDOT warns motorists, private plows of winter hazards

CAR-Fast-FactsA private snowplow pushes snow into a state highway, causing a public plow to crash and roll over, injuring the driver. Meanwhile, in another area a motorist disregards winter conditions, traveling too fast and crashes into the rear of a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) plow, disabling it.

Those are just two cases of hazardous actions in winter resulting in crashes earlier this month in Michigan, and in both cases taking two winter maintenance vehicles out of commission.

“Slippery roads, reduced visibility, and excessive speeds greatly reduce the margin of error in winter driving,” said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. “We implore private plow operators and motorists to be extra cautious, and avoid doing anything that adds to the hazards of winter driving or roadway maintenance.”

Two main concerns are when residents and businesses pile snow at the ends of driveways along the highway shoulder, and when snow is pushed across the road, leaving snow or slush on the road surface.

The Michigan Vehicle Code prohibits depositing “snow, ice, or slush on any roadway or highway,” and “the obstruction of safety vision by removal or deposit of snow, ice, or slush.” This includes the end of driveways, where banked snow can reduce visibility for vehicles trying to enter the roadway. Leaving a trail of snow on the pavement while plowing across the road also can create an added hazard to unsuspecting motorists and to road maintenance personnel.

Motorists also should be particularly careful around winter maintenance snowplows and salt trucks. These large, powerful vehicles may be traveling at slower speeds than vehicles around them, and may be obscured by blowing snow.

“For your safety and the safety of our operators, it’s important to give snowplows a buffer to do their work,” Steudle said.

Some tips for motorists encountering snowplows:

• Snowplows have limited visibility and drivers cannot see directly behind their trucks;

• Snowplows often throw up clouds of snow behind them, reducing visibility for drivers following behind them;

• Motorists should never attempt to pass a moving snowplow on the right. With new wing plows and tow plows, the blade can clear the shoulder and the lane of travel simultaneously. Motorists attempting an illegal pass through a snow cloud on the right and/or shoulder of the road most likely won’t see the plow blade and run the risk of a serious crash; and

• MDOT snowplows throughout Michigan will be driving at 25 mph when applying salt, which helps keep more salt on the roadway driving lanes where it is most effective. Snowplows may travel at up to 45 mph when plowing only.

MDOT says: Drive like you want to make it home tonight.

 

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Tips to keep you trekking this winter

CAR-keep-trekking-this-winter-web(BPT) – Winter is in full swing, and with the magical season come the potentially unpleasant snow, ice and slippery conditions that can make driving a challenge. But, even in this less-than-ideal driving weather, Americans are ready to take on what Mother Nature throws their way. Even though 63 percent of Americans say icy roads are their top winter driving concern, 76 percent also say they are comfortable driving in snow, according to Hankook Tire’s Winter Gauge Index.

And, if Americans are right – 41 percent of all Americans polled expect more snow this winter, as compared to last year – there will be plenty of opportunity to drive through a winter wonderland.

Confident and prepared is the resounding tune among drivers, and that’s not just in the area of getting behind the wheel in slick conditions; Seventy-one percent of Americans spend less than one hour digging their car out of the snow and nearly half (49 percent) maintain their driveway themselves, according to the survey.

So, clean up that driveway, embrace the cold weather and get out and enjoy the winter season.

Before hitting the road for the ski slopes or embarking on a winter excursion, keep in mind Hankook’s top winter driving tips:

• Keep your tires ‘aired up’: Ensure your tires are properly inflated. For every 10 degree Fahrenheit change in outside temperature, your tire’s inflation pressure will change by about 1 pound per square inch (psi). Improperly inflated tires can lead to poor traction, decreased control and skidding.

• Slowly accelerate and decelerate: Applying engine power slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry, and take extra care and time to-slow down when stopping.

• Invest in a set of dedicated winter tires for your vehicle: Winter tires, like the Hankook Winter i*cept evo, are specifically designed to provide improved traction in cold, snowy and icy conditions. Whether your vehicle is front, rear or all-wheel drive, winter tires can offer an additional element of performance to get you through those tricky winter driving months.

• Check your tread to beat the snow: Worn or insufficient tread can cause skidding during the winter season, so it is important to make sure your tires are ready for the winter conditions before hitting the road. A quick way to do this is to check your tires’ tread depth indicators. Tread depth indicators are small raised bars that run in-between a tire’s tread blocks. When a tire’s tread is worn down to these indicator bars, it’s time to change to a new set of tires.

By preparing for winter’s snowy surprises, you can keep on rolling throughout the slippery season.

 

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Great Car Care Tips for Seniors

CAR-Senior-Car-Care(StatePoint) Car repair and maintenance can put a strain on both a senior’s budget and back. With some smart and simple preventive care, you can reduce automotive troubles down the line.

Tread and Tire Pressure

The last thing any senior needs is a blown out tire while driving. Avoid this dangerous scenario by checking the tread on your tires and the air pressure once a month. Tires with little or no tread and that are showing threads are unsafe and should be replaced immediately.  For the recommended air pressure for your tires, do not go by the numbers on the sidewall of the tires. Instead, refer to the owner’s manual or sticker on the driver’s side door. Not only does proper air pressure decrease the likelihood of a blowout, but it increases your car’s gas mileage, and gives your vehicle better traction.

Change the Oil

The truth is that oil changes take time and money. However, if this task is not done routinely, then the overall health of your engine can be jeopardized.

When using conventional oil, it’s recommended to change the oil every 3,000 miles. However you can save yourself some work and better protect your investment by using high-quality synthetic motor oil instead. For example, Royal Purple HMX is specifically designed to minimize wear and tear and restore performance in engines with more than 75,000 miles. Instead of the typical oil change once every 3,000 miles, synthetic oil can reduce the frequency to once every 10,000 to 15,000 miles, or once every 12 months, depending on how much your vehicle is used.

For more information on how you can maximize your engine’s longevity and save money, visit www.RoyalPurpleConsumer.com.

Check Lights

Don’t be the one left in the dark. Regularly check your headlights, taillights, turning signals and brake lights. Thousands of accidents a year are the direct result of failed lights. Check your lights by asking a trusted neighbor, friend or family member to walk around your car as you turn the headlights, taillights and turning signals off and on. Also, apply light pressure to the brake to make sure your brake lights are working as well. If a light is out, check the fuses. An easy do-it-yourself replacement can save you time and money.

You don’t have to be a professional mechanic or overextend your budget to increase the lifetime of your car. Some simple proactive and regular care will go a long way in keeping you and your car together, far down the road.

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Prepare for Holiday Travel Season by Placing Emergency Preparedness Kits in Vehicles

LANSING. The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) encourages Michigan citizens 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 do all of your braking before the turn is made and take 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 driving tips:

· 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. Weather and 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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Avoid a car-deer crash

From the Kent County Sheriff Department

It’s deer season, which means they will be on the move more than ever.

There were over 49,000 car deer accidents in Michigan last year.

Here are some tips to help you avoid a crash.

The two most important ways to avoid a deer-vehicle collision are: slow down and SLOW DOWN.

If you are driving through an area known for high deer populations, slow down and observe the speed limit. The more conservative you are with your speed, the more time you will have to brake if an animal darts into your path.

Always wear a seatbelt. The most severe injuries in deer-vehicle collisions usually result from failure to use a seatbelt.

Watch for the shine of eyes along the roadside and immediately begin to slow.

Use your high beams whenever the road is free of oncoming traffic. This will increase your visibility and give you more time to react.

Deer can become mesmerized by steady, bright lights so if you see one frozen on the road, slow down and flash your lights. Some experts recommend one long blast of the horn to scare them out of the road, as well.

Pay close attention to caution signs indicating deer. These signs are specifically placed in high traffic areas, where road crossings are frequent.

If you’re on a multi-lane road, drive in the center lane to give as much space to grazing deer as possible.

Never swerve to avoid a deer in the road. Swerving can confuse the deer on where to run. Swerving can also cause a head-on collision with oncoming vehicles, take you off the roadway into a tree or a ditch, and greatly increase the chances of serious injuries.

Deer are unpredictable creatures, and one that is calmly standing by the side of the road may suddenly leap into the roadway without warning. Slowing down when you spot a deer is the best way to avoid a collision. However, if one does move into your path, maintain control and do your best to brake and give the deer time to get out of your way.

Don’t rely on hood whistles or other devices designed to scare off deer. These have not been proven to work.

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