web analytics

Archive | Auto Life

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.

Posted in Auto LifeComments (1)

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.

Posted in Auto LifeComments Off

National Teen Driver Safety Week is Oct. 20-26

Nighttime and after school are high crash risk times for teens

When it comes to new and inexperienced drivers, nighttime and after school are the most dangerous time of day for traffic crashes nationally and in Michigan.

According to Michigan crash data, nearly 30 percent of crashes involving drivers age 16-20 occur in the after-school hours. More than 15,000 people were involved in a crash with a teen driver from 3-6 p.m. in 2012.

The highest numbers of fatal crashes involving teen drivers happen between 9 p.m. and midnight. In 2012, 34 people were killed, including 11 drivers who were 16-20 years old.  “After school tends to include more travel for teen drivers, whether for school activities, jobs or hanging out with friends, so it is not surprising this time period has the highest number of crashes,” said Michael L. Prince, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP).  “National Teen Driver Safety Week is a good opportunity for parents and teens to talk about reducing common crash risks by limiting the number of passengers, putting away cell phones, obeying traffic laws and wearing a seat belt.”

Teen drivers with Level 1 or Level 2 licenses under the Graduated Driver License program are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.  Teens with a Level 2 license also have enhanced driving restrictions after 10 p.m.

The data also show teen drivers have higher incidents of speed-related crashes than older drivers. They are also more likely than any other age group to crash because of following too close and being unable to stop in time.

Nationally, driver error is a contributing factor in two-thirds of fatal teen driver crashes.

To help reduce teen traffic crashes, fatalities and serious injuries, Michigan’s Strive For A Safer Drive (S4SD) program expanded in its third year. So far 35 schools in 15 counties are signed up for the program for the 2013-2014 school year including 14 first-time participants. The final deadline for applications is Nov. 1.

A public-private partnership between AAA Michigan, Ford Driving Skills for Life and OHSP, S4SD provides funding and resources to help teens talk to other teens about safe driving. For a list of participating schools, visit Michigan.gov\S4SD.

 

Posted in Auto LifeComments Off

Simple ways older drivers can save money on auto insurance

_CAR-Simple-ways-older-people (BPT) – Are your auto insurance premiums too high? Maybe they are, but not for reasons you might think. Insurance companies aren’t charging you higher premiums because you’re in an over-50 age group. You may be paying too much because you haven’t done anything to lower the cost of your premiums. Check out these money-saving tips – they could be right up your alley.

* Comparison shop. You don’t need to stay with the same insurance company forever. Prices vary from company to company. Just be sure you discuss the identical coverage with each company representative. Also, don’t go by price alone. Consider the company’s reputation, customer service and available discounts. Look online at customer reviews to get a better picture.

* Combine policies with one carrier. You may save money if you insure all your vehicles on a single policy. Your premium may also go down if you have life or homeowners’ insurance with that company, too.

* Consider asking about higher deductibles. In some cases, if you increase your deductible, you could lower your premiums. Of course, that means you’ll have to pay more money out-of-pocket if you’re in an accident.

* Take an AARP Driver Safety course. Available both online and in the classroom – in English and Spanish – this course teaches valuable defensive driving techniques and provides a refresher about the rules of the road. When you complete the course, you could qualify for a multi-year discount from your auto insurance company (check with your insurance agent for more details). Visit www.aarp.org/drive to find a course in your area.

* Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage. It may not make financial sense to pay premiums over many years to maintain collision and comprehensive coverage. If your car is worth less than 10 times the premium, purchasing the coverage may not be cost effective, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). But don’t drop your liability coverage, which can help cover expenses for property or bodily damage you cause while driving your car.

* Take advantage of low-mileage discounts. Some carriers offer discounts to drivers who put less than a predetermined number of miles on their vehicles each year. If you’re only using your car to drive to your kids’ houses, the grocery store, the mall and the gym, this could be a money-saving opportunity.

* Ask about car-safety discounts. Some insurers give discounts for having certain safety devices in your car, such as air bags, automatic safety belts, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, or even an approved alarm system. In addition to lowering your premium, these features will help keep you safe on the road.

* If you’re in the market for a new car, consider purchasing a low-profile vehicle. It’s more expensive to insure a vehicle that’s expensive to repair, popular with thieves or known for not having a good safety record. To find out vehicles’ risk levels, visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website.

Everyone’s trying to save money these days. By following these tips, you’ll be in the driver’s seat when it comes to auto insurance premiums.

 

Posted in Auto Life, FeaturedComments Off

Police inspect 1,200 commercial vehicle brakes

From The Michigan State Police

 

When commercial vehicles and passenger cars collide, the result can be a deadly and costly mix of injuries, property damage and death. In an effort to reduce these crashes, Michigan State Police (MSP) motor carrier officers teamed up with enforcement officers from across North America to participate in Brake Safety Week.

During this year’s enforcement period, which ran from Sept. 8 – 14, 2013, MSP motor carrier officers conducted 1,273 commercial vehicle safety inspections on vehicles with air brakes. Officers checked 10,697 individual air brakes and identified 562 brakes out of adjustment. Based on officer’s findings, 130 vehicles were placed out of service for brake adjustment and other brake component deficiencies.

MSP motor carrier officers’ efforts also resulted in 693 citations for various commercial vehicle traffic, equipment and driver violations including speeding, hours-of-service and prohibited hand-held mobile phone use. Including brake violations and other equipment defects, a total of 116 vehicles were placed out-of-service due to serious equipment safety violations.

Brake Safety Week is part of the Operation Air Brake Campaign, an ongoing effort since 1998 that is dedicated to improving inspection, compliance, maintenance and performance of commercial vehicle brakes throughout North America. Throughout the week, specially trained inspectors checked vehicles for critical safety violations and talked with drivers and others about how important brakes are to the safe operation of large trucks.

Posted in Auto LifeComments Off

Driving with dogs: Tips to keep everyone in the car safe

CAR-Driving-with-dogs(BPT) – It’s only natural for man’s best friend to stay close by his master’s side, but for dog owners who drive frequently, bringing Fido along for the ride can be risky. The problem is particularly worrisome for older drivers; a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham showed that for people 70 years and older, crash rates were higher among those who frequently drove with pets in the car. But for many drivers, leaving precious pets behind isn’t an option. The best compromise is to find solutions that will get you from point A to point B without compromising the safety of human or animal passengers.

Distracted driving is a growing concern and a loose pet in the car certainly numbers among the potential hazards that can take your eyes – and mind – off the road and lead to accidents. While older drivers might not be as likely to be distracted by texting or smartphone surfing, even those who have spent many years navigating the roads need to honestly assess how having a pet in the car can divert their attention away from the road.

To stay safe on the road when Fido is with you, remember these tips:

* Don’t allow pets in the front seats. Having a pet sit on your lap is obviously distracting, but if he’s in the front passenger seat, the problem can be just as bad. In the front seats, your pet is more likely to be within your line of sight and obstruct your view of the road. An unrestrained dog in the front seats could also be easily injured if you have to slam on the brakes or swerve, or are hit from behind. The force with which airbags deploy also poses a safety hazard for dogs in the front seat – if you’re in an accident and they inflate and hit your dog, he could easily sustain an injury.

* Create separation. There are a variety of pet barriers on the market that can keep your pet from moving between the front and back seats of your car. Installing a barrier will help keep your pet out of your way and diminish concerns about him being propelled forward in case you have to make a sudden stop.

* Restrain your pet. There are a number of options for pet restraints in your vehicle. Pet seatbelts and car seats will help keep a dog safely in place. Keeping a crate in the car is also a good option. Make sure it’s secured and large enough so that he can stand up, turn around and comfortably sit or lay down. Add a soft pad in the bottom of the crate and it might just become your pet’s favorite new way to travel.

* Brush up on your driving skills. Today’s driving environment is probably very different than it was when you first got your license. A refresher course, like those offered by AARP Driver Safety, is an ideal way to ensure that your skills are up to date. Brushing up on defensive driving techniques and the essential rules of the road will help keep everyone in your car safe – and you may even qualify for a multi-year automobile insurance discount from your insurance company (check with your agent for details). AARP Driver Safety courses are available in a classroom or online setting, in both English and Spanish.

Pets are important members of the family, so it’s only right that drivers consider their safety, just as they would for any other passenger. For more safe driving tips and information about AARP Driver Safety, visit www.aarp.org/drive.

 

Posted in Auto Life, FeaturedComments Off

Beat the heat with these 10 summer driving tips

With the arrival of summer, more drivers will hit the American highways for summer vacations. Here are a few summer driving tips to help prepare your vehicle and ensure it is in optimal driving condition for your summer getaway or your day-to-day driving in hotter weather conditions:

1. Change your motor oil regularly.
Regular oil changes with the correct grade of motor oil can improve gas mileage up to two percent.* Synthetic oils are best for high temperature driving conditions and for added protection when towing.

2. Check your tire pressure.
Keeping your tires properly inflated can help improve gas mileage up to three percent.* Be sure to check your tire pressure before you begin driving for the day. This allows you to get a cold pressure reading (the number commonly referenced in your owner’s manual).

3. Clean your fuel system.
This helps improve fuel economy and maximize engine performance by removing dirt and deposits from the fuel system.

4. Use cruise control on highways.
This will help you maintain a constant speed, which in most cases helps improve fuel economy.

5. Do not idle.
It requires less gas to restart a vehicle than to let it idle.

6. Park in the shade or a garage.
The sun zaps fuel from your gas tank. Parking in the shade or garage will lessen the amount of evaporative emissions.

7. Check your cooling system (radiator).
It protects your engine from overheating in hot summer conditions. Follow your owner’s manual for regular maintenance.

8. Check your serpentine belt.
Replacing the serpentine belt when needed helps prevent breakdowns. It keeps your vehicle’s power steering, alternator, water pump and AC running.

9. Check your air conditioning system.
Nothing makes the summer heat more unbearable than traveling with an air conditioning system that will not cool properly.

10. Check your windshield wipers and wiper fluid.
The combination of bad wipers and a summer downpour can leave you with no view of the road. Be sure you have plenty of wiper fluid to help keep your windshield clear of dirt and debris.

Also, remember to follow the vehicle maintenance procedures outlined in your owner’s manual. These can help improve your fuel economy and prolong the life of your vehicle. The following should be included:

Check your transmission fluid: Changing the fluid when needed helps restore your vehicle’s operation by protecting the gears from grinding.

Rotate your tires regularly: This prevents uneven wear, which can shorten the life of your tires. It also improves vehicle handling and traction.

Check your gearbox fluid: Changing the fluid when needed restores additives to protect the gears from grinding. This is especially important for four-wheel drive vehicles because they have three gear boxes.

Follow these Summer Driving Tips and your vehicle’s regular maintenance schedule to get optimal driving conditions and good fuel economy for your vehicle this summer. So, get out there and enjoy your summer vacation, or at least, you can feel better about driving during the dog days of summer. To learn more or to find a Valvoline Instant Oil Change near you, visit vioc.com.

* As cited from the U.S. Department of Energy at fueleconomy.gov

Posted in Auto LifeComments Off

Save time and money with easy DIY auto maintenance tips

CAR-DIY-auto-maintenance1

(BPT) – Vehicles are a big investment for families – usually the second highest valued item in a household after the home itself. While the purchase price for cars, trucks and SUVs keeps going up, the cost of maintenance is holding steady or even dropping for most vehicles. Better materials, sophisticated computers and other advances increase reliability and allow less frequent oil changes, tune-ups and other service.

Owners can do some of the work themselves to lower maintenance costs even further. Anyone interested in saving money and increasing pride of ownership by doing their own work can spend just a few minutes and accomplish the following four maintenance tasks easily, without any expensive tools or training.

* Cabin air filter replacement – The air conditioner is cranked up on those hot summer days. The cabin air filter keeps the air blowing through the heat and air conditioning ventilation system clean, and it should be replaced at least once a year. But in areas of the country where there is a lot of pollen or dust – from dirt roads, construction projects or even arid conditions – it’s a good idea to replace this filter more frequently.

“Cabin air filters are usually easy to install, but installation will vary between cars,” says Tom Taylor, engineer and vice president of RockAuto.com, an online auto parts retailer. “Some filters are behind the glove box, and others are accessed through the cowl panel below the windshield.”

Check your owner’s manual to see if there is information on replacing the cabin air filter, or visit RockAuto.com to find installation instructions provided by filter manufacturers.

* Headlamps and tail lights – When a headlamp or tail light burns out, you may be surprised to discover how easy it is to replace these bulbs. For most vehicles, installation of headlamps is from the engine compartment. Just unplug the electrical connector on the back of the bulb, unscrew the large plastic ring that holds the bulb in place and pull the bulb out. Because headlamps are usually halogen lights, be sure to wear gloves or use a cloth to avoid getting fingerprints on the bulb. Oils from your hands can shorten the life of the bulb.

Tail lights are similar – usually you can gain access through the trunk of the vehicle underneath the trim material.

CAR-DIY-Auto-maintenance2* Wiper blades – Trying to see the road through a streaky window is almost as bad as trying to see the road in a heavy rain shower. The quality of the blade purchased will determine how long the blade will last and how well it will perform in clearing the windshield of rain.

“It is now easy to choose wipers that are better than what originally came on the car,” Taylor says. “There are longer-lasting blades, winter blades that resist freezing to the windshield and beam-type wiper arms that hold the blade more firmly on the glass.”

Higher quality blades tend to cost more, but drivers will appreciate the durability and clarity they provide.-RockAuto.com is promoting a wiper wholesaler closeout for top-quality blades at extremely low prices. Once you have your blades purchased, just follow the included directions on how to install them.

* Engine air filter – These air filters keep the oxygen supplied to the engine’s combustion chambers free of dirt and other contaminants. Clean air is needed to optimize the engine’s performance and extend its life. Manufacturers recommend replacing an engine air filter every 12,000 miles driven.- However, it will also depend on the car’s model and how dusty the environment is. This filter is typically located under the hood in a large, rectangular, plastic air filter housing. Remove the four bolts or clips around the edges and then lift the dirty filter out.

These maintenance tasks are ongoing, but they become even easier with repetition. DIYers save money and time when they handle them at home.

 

 

 

Posted in Auto Life, FeaturedComments Off

Simple ways older drivers can save money on auto insurance

_CAR-Save-on-auto-insurance

(BPT) – Are your auto insurance premiums too high? Maybe they are, but not for reasons you might think. Insurance companies aren’t charging you higher premiums because you’re in an over-50 age group. You may be paying too much because you haven’t done anything to lower the cost of your premiums. Check out these money-saving tips – they could be right up your alley.

* Comparison shop. You don’t need to stay with the same insurance company forever. Prices vary from company to company. Just be sure you discuss the identical coverage with each company representative. Also, don’t go by price alone. Consider the company’s reputation, customer service and available discounts. Look online at customer reviews to get a better picture.

* Combine policies with one carrier. You may save money if you insure all your vehicles on a single policy. Your premium may also go down if you have life or homeowners’ insurance with that company, too.

* Consider asking about higher deductibles. In some cases, if you increase your deductible, you could lower your premiums. Of course, that means you’ll have to pay more money out-of-pocket if you’re in an accident.

* Take an AARP Driver Safety course. Available both online and in the classroom – in English and Spanish – this course teaches valuable defensive driving techniques and provides a refresher about the rules of the road. When you complete the course, you could qualify for a multi-year discount from your auto insurance company (check with your insurance agent for more details). Visit www.aarp.org/drive to find a course in your area.

* Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage. It may not make financial sense to pay premiums over many years to maintain collision and comprehensive coverage. If your car is worth less than 10 times the premium, purchasing the coverage may not be cost effective, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). But don’t drop your liability coverage, which can help cover expenses for property or bodily damage you cause while driving your car.

* Take advantage of low-mileage discounts. Some carriers offer discounts to drivers who put less than a predetermined number of miles on their vehicles each year. If you’re only using your car to drive to your kids’ houses, the grocery store, the mall and the gym, this could be a money-saving opportunity.

* Ask about car-safety discounts. Some insurers give discounts for having certain safety devices in your car, such as air bags, automatic safety belts, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, or even an approved alarm system. In addition to lowering your premium, these features will help keep you safe on the road.

* If you’re in the market for a new car, consider purchasing a low-profile vehicle. It’s more expensive to insure a vehicle that’s expensive to repair, popular with thieves or known for not having a good safety record. To find out vehicles’ risk levels, visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website.

Everyone’s trying to save money these days. By following these tips, you’ll be in the driver’s seat when it comes to auto insurance premiums.

 

Posted in Auto LifeComments Off

Road trip tire tips

CAR-Road-trip-tips1(BPT) – The weather’s heating up and that means one thing: road trips.

Before you grab the family and hit the highway, make sure your vehicle’s ready to roll. And the first place to check is actually what rolls – your tires. Often ignored – except when they are flat – tires are one of the most important components on any vehicle, and have an enormous effect on braking, steering, comfort, handling and fuel efficiency.

Car-Road-trip-tips2

Palang says the first thing to know is what type of tires you have and what they can do. “Most people have no idea and get confused because there are so many types and performance categories. By educating yourself about tires and how to maintain them, you will be able to save money and fuel, vastly improve your vehicle’s ride and handling, and better prepare yourself for the road ahead.”

According to Palang, tires are defined according to whether they are summer, all-season or winter tires. Summer tires offer excellent handling in dry and wet conditions. All-season tires are designed for varying road conditions that include moderately cold or low temperatures. Winter tires are best for conditions that call for improved cold weather and snow/ice performance.

To best match the type of tire with your driving needs, look for the performance category that meets your requirements the most:

* Ultra high-performance: Deliver superior high-speed traction and control with a firmer, sportier feel.

* High-performance: Engineered to provide crisp handling, responsive feedback and allow the tire to operate at higher speeds.

* Touring: Provides the ride and noise comfort of a standard passenger car tire.

“There’s a lot to consider when deciding on tires,” explains Palang. “You have to take into account how you drive, how far, weather and road conditions, how you want the vehicle to perform and so on. Plus, there are new tire technologies, such as the use of orange oil we put in our AVID Ascend, which creates a special compound resulting in a balance of long tread life, all-season handling and great fuel economy.”

For road trips or the daily commute, driving smart and maintaining your tires can save money at the gas station. Here are some of Palang’s tips:

* Keep your tires properly inflated. Once a month, when the tires are cold (at least three to four hours after the vehicle has been driven), check tire pressure with a reliable tire gauge. Be sure the valve stems have a plastic or metal cap to keep dirt out and seal against leakage.

* Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch to prevent skidding and hydroplaning. An easy test: place a penny upside down into a tread groove. If part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, you’re driving with the proper amount of tread. If you can see all of his head, you should buy a new tire.

* Tire alignment should be checked once a year. Misaligned tires can cause the car to scrub, which lowers mileage and creates unnecessary tire wear.

* Slow down. All vehicles lose fuel economy at speeds above 55 mph. Driving 55 mph instead of 75 mph can reduce fuel costs by up to 25 percent. Driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph can save up to 13 percent.

* Turn off your engine if you’re stopped for more than a couple of minutes. Fuel efficiency savings of up to 19 percent are possible by not letting your engine idle too long while stationary.

* Blasting off from a stoplight and then slamming on the brakes to stop uses gas at a much faster rate. Accelerating less and slowing moderately can increase fuel efficiency by more than 30 percent. Also, many traffic lights are timed for efficient traffic flow, so you’ll hit more green lights in a row by maintaining the speed limit.

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

 

 

 

Posted in Auto Life, FeaturedComments Off