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Archive | Auto Life

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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

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Simple steps so save gas without driving less

Fuel economy is directly related to vehicle care and driving behavior.

Fuel economy is directly related to vehicle care and driving behavior.

(NAPS)—Just because gas prices go up, that doesn’t mean your driving has to go down.

You can’t control the price of gas but you can control how much you use with some simple and inexpensive vehicle maintenance.

Save Gas And Cash

Consider these simple steps to save gas without driving less:

• Keep your car properly tuned to improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.

• Keep tires properly inflated and improve gas mileage by 3 percent.

• Replace dirty or clogged air filters on older vehicles to improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

• Change oil regularly and gain another mile per gallon.

• Check the gas cap. Damaged, loose or missing gas caps let the gas just vaporize into the air.

• Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly above 60 mph.

• Avoid excessive idling. Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Warming up the vehicle for one or two minutes is sufficient.

• Avoid quick starts and stops. Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in the city.

• Consolidate trips. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much gas as one longer multipurpose trip.

• Don’t haul unneeded items in the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces fuel economy by up to 2 percent.

“Some motorists think they are saving money when they put off needed vehicle maintenance,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “What they don’t realize is that neglecting routine maintenance can end up costing a lot more. Keeping your car running efficiently and modifying your driving behavior is the best way to improve your vehicle’s fuel economy and keep more money in your pocket. Fuel consumption is directly related to vehicle care and driver behavior and both can have a significant impact on how much motorists pay at the pump.”

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.

Learn More

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

 

 

 

 

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Traveling with kids—be car seat smart

Protect your precious cargo: Be sure your child’s car seat is properly installed and remember to use it every ride.

Protect your precious cargo: Be sure your child’s car seat is properly installed and remember to use it every ride.

(NAPS)—Road trips with children can be daunting, but with AAA’s expert advice, your next family car trip can be both safe and fun:

• Involve your children early on when planning a road trip. Let them help decide places to stop.

• Give kids a map so they can see where you are and how far it is to your destination.

• Remember, loose items in the car can be dangerous in a crash or just a sudden stop. Keep loose items in the trunk, a console or under a cargo net.

• Be sure children are secure in the proper car seats. Each year, more than 1,000 kids die and 170,000 are injured in car crashes—but giving them the proper protection will help keep them safe.

Following these best practice recommendations will ensure your children are as safe as possible on the road:

First, remember that the backseat is the safest place for all kids under 13. Toddlers should be kept in rear-facing seats for as long as possible, until reaching the height or weight limits of the car seat, typically around age 2. Children who have outgrown the harnesses on their forward-facing car seats can use a booster seat to help position them so the lap/shoulder belt fits properly across their hips and upper thighs and across their chest and collarbone. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children should remain in a booster seat until they have reached 4’9” in height, which is typically between ages 8 and 12. A child is ready to move from a booster seat to a lap/shoulder belt if the following criteria are met:

• The child can sit all the way back against the vehicle seat;

• The child’s knees can bend comfortably at the edge of the vehicle seat;

• The lap/shoulder belt crosses the child’s shoulder between the neck and arm and the lap belt remains low across the thighs and hips;

• And, the child can remain in this position for the duration of the ride.

Before heading out on your trip, be sure that your child’s car seat is installed properly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, three out of four car seats are incorrectly installed. It’s important to read the owner’s manual for both the vehicle and the car seat before attempting the installation. Fortunately, Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians are available to advise you. You can find them through an AAA office, by calling (866) SEAT-CHECK or by visiting www.seatcheck.org. Another way to protect children all over the country, the experts at AAA say, is to strengthen child passenger safety laws. Learn more at www.SafeSeats4Kids.AAA.com.

 

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Car Buyer Beware

In the U.S., a car accident occurs every 60 seconds.

In the U.S., a car accident occurs every 60 seconds.

(NAPS)—There are several ways to buy a used car, but whether you choose to buy from a dealer, online or from someone you know, it’s always a smart idea to protect yourself. These tips can help:
Ask for an independent inspection. Be sure the car has no major problems that you will have to deal with later.
Find out if the car was involved in an accident. In the U.S., a car accident occurs every 60 seconds. You need to know when buying a used car that it is safe to drive and will protect you. If the car was in an accident, ask a mechanic to make sure it was fixed properly.
To help you make an informed and confident decision, ask for a Carfax Vehicle History Report. These reports reveal prior damage reported to Carfax, such as accidents and subsequent repairs. Pay extra attention if you find a salvage title or air-bag deployment. To get Carfax Reports and learn more, visit www.carfax.com.

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Wash away the effects of rough weather

Keeping your vehicle clean protects your valuable investment. The task takes very little money or effort but provides huge returns.

Keeping your vehicle clean protects your valuable investment. The task takes very little money or effort but provides huge returns.

(NAPS)—When it’s time for spring-cleaning, remember to include your car. Cleaning your vehicle inside and out prevents the buildup of damaging chemicals and dirt, reduces the potential for rust from road salt and helps ensure proper visibility needed for safe driving.
How To Clean Your Car
To get started, remove any clutter from inside the car, including items that have accumulated in the trunk that can add extra weight and reduce fuel efficiency. The next step is to thoroughly clean and vacuum the interior and wash the windows.
When washing the outside, include the tires, wheels, underside and fenders to eliminate any road salt or grime. Wheels and tires should be cleaned with a mitt other than the one used to wash the body. This will avoid contaminating the vehicle’s paint with debris from the wheels and tires.
Wash in the shade and with a product sold specifically for cars. Wash one section at a time, thoroughly rinsing away the soap as you go. Work your way down toward the front, sides and rear of the vehicle. Clean the fenders and bumpers last since they will have the most dirt and grime that can contaminate the wash mitt.
Give the car a final rinse. Remove the spray nozzle from the hose and let the water cascade down the surfaces of the vehicle. To avoid water spots, dry your car with a chamois or other product made for drying.
The last step is to wax the car. This should be done out of direct sunlight and every six months. It goes a long way toward protecting the vehicle’s finish and makes subsequent washes easier.
If you found any stone chips, rust or other problem spots while washing your vehicle, the experts at the Car Care Council recommend having these taken care of immediately to prevent further damage.
The 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.
For further facts and tips, visit www.carcare.org.

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Driving around flooded roadways

CAR-Flooding
Think floods are only a risk for homeowners? Think again. Floods are also a hazard to motorists. Many people die each year while attempting to navigate flooded roads.
Here are a few tips from State Farm to help deal with flooded roadways, and also some ideas on how to handle your vehicle once the waters have receded.
Flooded Roadways
The Federal Alliance For Safe Homes has partnered with the National Weather Service to warn motorists about the dangers of flooded roadways. They recommend the following safety tips:
If you can, simply avoid flooded areas—especially those with rapid water flow. Keep things safe and simple: reschedule your plans if you’re aware of flooding in the area.
If flooding occurs when you’re on the road, stay on high ground. Experts also advise against driving in deep water, especially when the water could be fast-moving or the depth is not known.
If your vehicle stalls, DO NOT attempt to restart it, as your engine may be damaged. Leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly when threatening conditions exist.
After The Deluge
The floodwaters are going down, but your car may have been exposed to the water. Experts say high water can damage vehicles. Here are some tips to help limit the damage to your car after water exposure:
DO NOT start a flooded vehicle until it has received a thorough inspection by a qualified mechanic.
Record the highest level of water exposure on your flooded vehicle.
Contact your agent or insurance company and advise them that your vehicle has been flooded.
The sooner the vehicle can be evaluated and dried out, the less damage the vehicle will sustain. If you don’t have the right training and personal protective equipment (PPE), it’s safer, in most cases, to leave the cleaning up to professionals. Some floodwaters contain raw or untreated sewage and other contaminants that may pose serious health hazards during cleanup. The Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov offers more information on this topic.

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How to improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency

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Fuel system maintenance can improve fuel efficiency and re­duce the need for repairs.

(NAPS)—Your car can go farther for less if you take a few steps to keep it efficient.
It helps to take meticulous care of your vehicle by following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedules and using the right products inside and out. This includes getting your oil changed, rotating your tires, checking hoses and belts for wear, replacing worn windshield wipers and keeping your vehicle clean.
Another way to extend the life of your vehicle and improve fuel efficiency is to make sure your fuel system is clean.
To help, here are a few fuel system basics.
What does a fuel system do? A fuel system’s job is to properly maintain fuel demand. The fuel is eventually sprayed from the fuel injectors into the intake stream and into the combustion chamber.
What does a fuel system con­sist of? Depending on whether it’s a return or a returnless fuel system, it can consist of the fuel tank, fuel pump, sending fuel lines, fuel rail, fuel injectors, fuel pressure regulator and returning fuel lines. If you have a returnless system, there is no fuel pressure regulator or return fuel lines.
How do I know my fuel system needs to be cleaned? If your fuel injectors have become clogged from deposits, they are not able to provide the wide and fine spray of fuel needed for the spark to ignite it. There are a few signs that may indicate you need to clean your fuel system.
•    You are getting lower gas mileage.
•    There is a hesitation when you put your foot on the gas pedal.
•    You are experiencing a loss of power when driving your vehicle.
One easy and convenient solution is to use a total fuel system cleaner such as Max-Clean by premium synthetic lubricant manufacturer Royal Purple. It can clean fuel lines and injectors, restore fuel economy and reduce both engine buildup and tailpipe emissions by deeply penetrating and cleaning injectors, carburetors, intake valves and combustion chambers. The lubricant works in a variety of en­gines whether new or old, gasoline or diesel. One bottle will treat 15 to 20 gallons. You just pour it into a nearly empty tank and refuel.
Fuel system maintenance can easily be added to your regular vehicle maintenance routine. Not only will it improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, it can save you from having to make costly repairs that may be needed when fuel deposits are left to build up.
Learn More
For further advice and information, visit www.royalpurpleconsumer.com.

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Still texting while driving?

Quitting might be easier than you think

 

CAR-texting(BPT) – Most Americans know texting and driving is dangerous but it continues to be a problem, especially for young drivers. While 97 percent of teens agree that texting and driving is dangerous, 43 percent still admitted to continuing to do it, according to a recent survey.

The 2012 AT&T survey of teen drivers also found 75 percent of teens say texting while driving is common among their friends and the majority of respondents said they have texted when stopped at a red light and often glance at their phones while driving. While teens might be the worst offenders when it comes to texting and driving, plenty of adults are guilty too. As the evidence continues to mount concerning the dangers of texting while driving, 39 states have made it illegal. Whether it’s legal or not in your state, here are three good reasons to quit once and for all:

* Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be in an accident, according to Virginia Tech Transportation Institute research.

* Texting while driving is distracted driving. Distracted driving is a factor in 15 to 25 percent of all crashes, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

* Each day, an average of more than 15 people are killed in crashes that result from distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

How to stop texting while driving

To help people break the perilous habit of texting and driving, technology companies are coming up with unique and practical solutions for drivers. For instance, Xperia SmartTags by Sony give you the ability to turn off all distractions from your smartphone with just a simple touch. These small tags can be put on a dashboard or a set of car keys and allow you to change your phone’s settings for driving by simply touching your NFC-enabled smartphone to the tag.

Smartphone applications can make this process even easier. When paired with AT&T’s free Drive Mode app, you can automatically disable your phone’s texting and calling capability. The app can also be programmed to include an automatic message that’s sent to anyone who texts you while you’re behind the wheel, letting that person know that you’ll respond when you are finished driving. You can program this app to run when you tap your phone to your SmartTag, while also setting your phone up to automatically run GPS programs and engage your car’s Bluetooth system for both safety and convenience.

While messages from your friends and family are important, nothing should take precedence over safely getting yourself and your passengers to your destination. To help make your driving experience safer, outfit your car with tools such as SmartTags, which you can learn more about at www.sonymobile.com, and don’t forget to take the pledge to never text and drive again at www.itcanwait.com.

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