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Winter driving and tire tips

Tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires. Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool—not hot from driving.

Tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires. Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool—not hot from driving.

(NAPS)—Conditions such as snow-covered roads and black ice can make winter driving unpredictable. The good news is that preparing early for winter weather and anticipating and avoiding dangerous circumstances can help drivers maintain control and stay safe on the road.

To help, here are some tips from the experts at Cooper Tire & Rubber Company.

• Drive cautiously: For starters, double the anticipated stopping distance when braking anytime conditions are not dry. It will take longer to come to a stop in snowy or icy conditions.

• Do not assume a four-wheel-drive vehicle will stop faster than a two-wheel-drive vehicle—four-wheel drive offers no braking advantage.

• Always reduce speed during winter conditions.

• When purchasing winter tires, replace all four tires. Due to the different grip capabilities of summer, all-season and winter tires, the driver will not get all the handling and traction benefits if all tires are not replaced.

• Examine tread: The only part of a vehicle to touch the road is the tires, and tire tread is a vital part of handling, cornering, accelerating and braking.

• For winter weather driving, a general rule is the more tread depth, the better. A tire’s minimum tread depth should be more than 2⁄32 of an inch deep all around the tire. Drivers can check tread depth by using a U.S. penny. Insert the edge of the coin into the tread with Lincoln going in headfirst. If the top of his head is visible at any location on the tire, the tire is worn out and it’s time to replace it.

• While examining the tread, also look for signs of uneven wear or damage such as cuts, cracks, splits, punctures and bulges. These conditions shorten the life of tires and, if not corrected, further tire damage, tire failure or air loss may occur.

• Find tires made for the season. For example, Cooper Tire has been a proven winter tire brand for decades, providing high-performing and extensive product lines that cover more than 90 percent of vehicles, such as the Weather-Master S/T2, the Weather-Master WSC and the Discoverer M+S. All Cooper winter tires include a patented snow groove technology that retains snow in the tread grooves, capitalizing on the higher traction of “snow on snow” versus “snow on rubber.”

• Test air pressure: Tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires. Underinflation creates excessive stress on the tire, while overinflation can cause uneven wear in addition to handling and braking issues.

• Tire pressure decreases by about one pound per square inch for every 10-degree drop in outside air temperature, so it is vital that drivers check the air pressure regularly as winter weather approaches.

• Drivers should follow the guidelines found in the vehicle owner’s manual or tire placard (or sticker) attached to the vehicle door edge to determine the correct air pressure for their vehicle’s tires. A common myth is that the tire pressure listed on the sidewall is the optimal pressure, while in reality it is the maximum pressure.

• Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool, meaning they are not hot from driving even a mile.

• Should any of these checks reveal the need for required maintenance—or when in doubt about the condition of their tires—drivers should take vehicles to a tire dealer for a professional inspection.

• For more information on proper tire maintenance, visit www.coopertire.com.

 

 

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Drivers could be stuck in an emergency if they only have junk in their trunk

Only one in 10 drivers keep emergency supplies in their vehicle

-CAR-Trunk-junkFinding yourself stranded in your car due to treacherous conditions like snow, ice, poor visibility and slick roads only to discover you have junk in the trunk, rather than the necessary roadside emergency supplies, can place you and your family in jeopardy.

According to a new survey by State Farm® and KRC Research, more than 60 percent of drivers had some sort of “junk” (non-emergency supplies) in their trunk ranging from extra clothes and shoes to used food or drink containers. While 99 percent of drivers had at least one emergency supply in their vehicle, such as spare tire or jumper cables, a mere nine percent carried all the essential emergency roadside supplies, including:

• Jumper cables

• Spare tire

• Hazard triangle/road flares

• Flashlight

• First aid kit

• Water

• Blanket

“Even on a relatively short trip, you can find yourself stranded for several hours. From icy waters splashing up on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago to fog covering the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, it’s important to be prepared,” said Robert Medved, safety expert, State Farm. “These new findings highlight the importance of having the right emergency equipment so people can safely get back on the road faster.”

Medved also recommends drivers check at least twice a year to ensure the equipment is in working order. This means spare tires are properly inflated, first-aid supplies are current, all other supplies are fully stocked, and the cell phone charger is compatible with either a power outlet or an USB port in your car. Communication capability can be the number one lifeline in some roadside emergency cases.

How your junk stacks up:

New survey findings also revealed that sedan drivers (63 percent) are less likely to carry emergency supplies compared to SUV and truck owners (75 percent and 73 percent respectively). Also, only two in five drivers said they check that the emergency supplies in their vehicle are working at least twice a year, in line with what State Farm recommends.

State Farm encourages responsible driving every day of the year, and especially during cold weather months when inclement weather is more common. If you are stranded on the road, follow these tips:

• Pull off the highway (if possible), turn on your hazard lights and use a road flare or reflectors to signal attention.

• If you have a cell phone, call 911 and describe your location as precisely as possible. Follow any instructions from the dispatcher.

• Remain in your vehicle so help can find you.

• Run your vehicle’s engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm.

• Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Don’t waste your vehicle’s battery power. Balance electrical energy needs—lights, heat and radio—with supply.

• At night, turn on an inside light when you run the engine so help can see you.

• Keep emergency supplies like road flares, a flashlight, blanket, windshield scraper, jumper cables, spare tire and a first aid kit in your vehicle or trunk at all times.

• Keep your fuel tank at least 1/2 full at all times during bad weather.

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Better late than never when it comes to winterizing your car

The last thing any driver needs is a vehicle that breaks down in cold, harsh winter weather. It’s not too late to have your vehicle checked, saving you from the cost and hassle of unexpected emergency repairs when severe weather strikes.

Battery – Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail completely so it’s wise to replace batteries that are more than three years old.

Antifreeze – Antifreeze (coolant) should be flushed and refilled at least every two years in most vehicles. As a reminder, do not add 100 percent antifreeze as full-strength antifreeze actually has a lower freeze point than when mixed with water.

Brakes – Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item and is key while driving on icy or snow-covered roads.

Tires – Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires will lose pressure when temperatures drop.

Oil – Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to low-viscosity oil in winter, as it will flow more easily between moving parts when cold.

Wiper Blades – Cold weather can affect the life of windshield wipers. Wiper blades that are cracked or torn, or that chatter, streak and don’t properly clean your windshield, should be changed. Check the windshield washer reservoir in case it needs fluid.

Be sure to keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full as that decreases the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. If you’re due for a tune-up, consider having it done as winter weather magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling. To help you drive smart and save money, visit www.carcare.org and check out the free digital Car Care Guide.

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Driving tips for winter weather

-CAR-Winter-driving-tips(BPT) – Snow, ice, slush and other winter driving challenges can threaten both driver and passenger safety, and adding distractions into the mix only exacerbates the situation. So instead of dashing through the snow in your four-wheeled “sleigh” and ending up o’er the hills, it may be best to simply drive with caution and focus, to stay on the road this winter.

Before heading out to the ski lodge or embarking on a winter road trip, take the proper precautions to ensure the safety of yourself, your friends and your family, as well as others on the road. According to Hankook Tire’s latest Winter Gauge Index, 68 percent of those surveyed are worried about skidding across winter’s icy roadways. Try these simple tips for staying safe while driving in winter weather:

Put distractions on ice: Despite many recent public service announcements and news articles on the dangers of texting and driving, drivers between the ages of 18 and 35 say texting is their top distraction while on the road, according to the Hankook Tire 2012 Fall Gauge Index. Other distractions include talking on the phone, talking to other passengers and eating while driving. Whether driving to a New Year’s party, heading back to school after winter break, or road tripping with a group of friends on a ski trip, it’s important to keep your eyes on the road so you can reach your destination safely.

Check your tire tread to prepare for snow: Worn tread is the No. 1 cause of skidding during the winter season, so it is important to make sure your tires are up to the task 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 grooves. When a tire’s tread is worn down to these indicator bars, it’s time to change to a new set of tires.- If your winter driving plans include putting on a set of dedicated winter tires like the Winter i*cept evo, be sure to put them on your vehicle one to two weeks before the next anticipated snow storm.

Check your tire pressure: Every 10-degree drop in air temperature can actually cause a vehicle’s tires to lose up to 2 pounds per square inch (psi) in tire pressure. Improper tire pressure can result in increased tread wear and lowered performance, factors that are highly detrimental to one’s safety in undesirable weather driving conditions.

Be prepared and stock up: Getting stuck on the road is also a major concern during the winter season. Before heading out, check to make sure your engine coolant, no-freeze windshield washer fluid and your gas tank is topped off. Also make sure there are no blockages or obstructions to your heating or window defroster vents. Be sure to pack extra water, a spare tire, ice scraper, snow shovel and brush, blanket, booster cables and a flashlight in your car for emergencies.

With proper preparation you can keep your slipping and sliding confined to the ice rink and make winter pit stops in front of the fireplace instead of in the breakdown lane.

 

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MSP offers tips for safe winter driving

With winter weather now upon us, the Michigan State Police (MSP) Hart Post is reminding motorists to be aware of several factors during winter driving.

Officers remind motorists to take precautions when stopping and turning in winter weather. Remember to do all of your breaking 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 quick hand over hand steering technique to turn the front tires in the direction you want to go.

“Michigan weather is unpredictable any time of the year, but especially during the winter months,” said F/Lt. Kevin Leavitt Hart Post commander. “The most important factor to remember is the handling capability of your car is drastically reduced in winter weather so it is best to use a slower speed to compensate for decreased handling.”

Safe driving tips:

• Keep tires at the car 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 car 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.

• Prepare a winter driving survival kit with items such as: an extra winter coat, pants, hat, boots and gloves; a flashlight with batteries; candle and candle holder; dry container of matches; jumper cables; tow strap; first aid kit; shovel; salt or kitty litter; road flares; and a spare tire and jack.

• If you are stranded in a winter storm, do not leave your vehicle. Stay with the vehicle and wait for help.

The MSP encourages travelers to check the Winter Travel Advisory web site at http://www.ohsp.state.mi.us/rw/home.htm to check road conditions before traveling. The public can also access weather and road conditions by calling the MSP Travel Hotline at 1-800-381-8477. The MSP asks that you utilize the web site or the Travel Hotline rather than calling your local MSP post.

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Don’t get caught in the cold: Know the facts about winter gas mileage

(BPT) – Winter and colder temperatures are notorious for creating difficult driving conditions that can place strain on drivers and their vehicles. And as the temperature drops this winter, so will your gas mileage.

Colder temperatures mean cold oil, tires and cold air in the carburetor – all factors that reduce gas mileage. With higher prices lingering at the gas pumps, a few fuel-saving tips can help protect your miles per gallon (MPG) this winter.

*Warm your car up the right way

Many people believe the myth that you must warm your car up in the winter. The truth is that idling your car actually destroys your MPG and isn’t necessary.

Modern cars don’t require a warm-up, even when the temperatures drop below zero, according to AAA. Modern engines, those built since about 1990, have fuel injection systems rather than carburetors and need no more than 10 to 30 seconds to get oil moving through the engine properly.

Auto experts recommend driving moderately in cold weather to allow the engine and other systems to warm up slowly and reduce wear and tear. So even though many people choose to warm up their car in the winter for personal comfort or to defrost windows, idling a vehicle for more than even one minute is simply wasting gas.

*Get your car winter ready

From changing the oil to checking the tire pressure on a regular basis, improving your winter gas mileage is easier than you might think.

“Your vehicle’s motor oil becomes thicker in colder temperatures, which adds stress to the engine,” says Jim Rossbach, CHS director of technical services and quality. “Try a thinner grade of oil to keep your engine running smoothly in the colder months.” Rossbach recommends using a high-performing synthetic oil like Cenex Maxtron, which is designed to perform well in low temperatures and improve fuel economy.

Proper tire inflation can also improve fuel economy by up to 3 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. It is important to check tire pressure several times throughout the winter when colder temperature can reduce tire pressure at a rate of one pound per square inch (PSI) for every 10 degrees change.

*Lighten the load

Extra weight from cargo or snow also reduces fuel efficiency. Cleaning out your car and clearing off heavy snow is an easy way to get better gas mileage.

In the past, carrying sandbags in the trunk was a common method for gaining more traction and helping rear-wheel drive cars perform better on snow and ice. Today, most cars are front-wheel drive with the engine over the front wheels, creating that same grip. Carrying extra weight does not add traction on snow and ice, but simply lowers your fuel economy.

For more gas-saving tips and to learn how you can nominate someone for a free tank of gas, visit www.tanksofthanks.com.

 

 

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Driving green for dummies: It’s easier and cheaper than you think

(ARA) – Green driving is easier and more important than many people think. It’s important because, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, highway vehicles account for 28 percent (1.5 billion tons) of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions each year.

The good news is that you don’t have to buy a new car or dramatically change your lifestyle to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. Just follow these easy steps:

* Upgrade lubricants. Next generation lubricants such as Royal Purple motor oil are formulated with unique advanced additive technologies that allow for longer intervals between changes. This means fewer oil changes, which saves you time and money, and helps the environment. Additionally, Royal Purple motor oil has been reported to improve fuel economy by as much as 5 percent compared to ordinary lubricants. It’s also been reported to increase horsepower and torque, so you can switch to an environmentally friendly product without sacrificing performance.

* Take care of your tires. Underinflated and/or misaligned tires can increase fuel consumption by as much as 4 percent, according to the U. S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Making sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure will maximize fuel economy and improve the safety and longevity of your tires.

* Replace a clogged air filter. If you have an older vehicle with a carbureted engine, replacing a clogged air filter can improve your fuel economy by up to 6 percent. Air filters keep impurities from damaging the interior of the engine, so replacing the dirty filter will save gas and protect your engine.

* Stay tuned. Keep your car in shape by following the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance. Fixing a vehicle in need of a tune-up can improve gas mileage by up to 4 percent.

* Recycle. If you do your own oil changes, find a place that will accept your used motor oil by visiting www.earth911.com.

Learn more at www.fueleconomy.gov.

 

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Warning Lights Send Messages You Can’t Ignore

(NAPS) Safety on the road is no accident. For example, when a warning light illuminates on a car’s dashboard, it is alerting you to a situation that requires your attention.

While not all warning lights are a sign that disaster is imminent, no warning indicator should ever be ignored.

Thatís the word from the experts at AAA, who encourage motorists to read their ownerís manual and know what each of the warning lights in their vehicle means.

To help, they offer the following tips:

Oil Pressure Light

The oil pressure light is usually an oilcan symbol or the word “OIL.” It comes on when there is a drop in engine oil pressure. Of all the warning lights, the oil pressure light indicates the greatest potential for serious mechanical damage.

If the oil pressure warning light comes on and stays on, pull off the road at the earliest safe opportunity, shut off the engine and call for assistance.

Engine Temperature Light

The engine temperature light is usually a thermometer symbol or the word “TEMP.” It comes on when the engine temperature is unsafe for your vehicle. Unless the engine temperature is quickly brought under control, major damage may occur.

If there are any signs of a cooling system leak, pull off the road at the earliest safe opportunity, shut off the engine and call for assistance.

Be careful when opening the hood in the presence of steam, and never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot.

Charging System Light

The charging system light is usually a battery symbol or the word “ALT” or “GEN.” It comes on when the vehicle electrical system is no longer being supplied power by the alternator.

If this light comes on, shut down all unnecessary electrical loads such as the radio, heater or air-conditioning, then drive the vehicle to a repair facility immediately for further inspection.

Check Engine Light

The check engine light comes on when there is a problem affecting the vehicleís exhaust emissions.

If the light comes on and stays on, make an appointment with an auto repair shop to have the problem checked in the near future.

However, if the check engine light begins flashing repeatedly, the catalytic converter is over-heating. Should this occur, drive the vehicle to a repair shop immediately for further diagnosis.

Disregarding a flashing check engine light could start a fire, destroy the catalytic converter and result in necessary repairs that could easily exceed $1,000.

To learn more, visit www.AAA.com or call (800) AAA-HELP. To locate an AAA Approved Auto Repair shop, visit www.AAA.com/repair.

 

 

 

 

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Driving smart can mean significant savings at the gas pump

(NAPS)—As gas prices continue to fluctuate, it’s always a good time to evaluate your driving habits and take steps to keep yourself and your car on the road to savings at the pump.

To demonstrate the 10 common mistakes that drivers make to affect fuel economy, General Motors conducted a driving test. Two of their fuel economy engineers, Ann Wenzlick and Beth Nunning, drove identical Chevrolet Cruze LTs on a typical workday commute. They each drove 20 minutes with city and highway driving, including a stop for coffee.

Wenzlick averaged 37 miles per gallon using efficient driving habits and by maintaining her car and Nunning averaged 21 miles per gallon. On average, that was a $100 price difference at the pump. Here are some of their tips based on what they learned:

• Get out of the drive-through lane. Idling for 15 minutes burns through about a quarter of a gallon of gas. Parking your car and going into the store to get what you want can actually help to save money on gas.

• Take it easy. Jumping on the gas at every light, only to hit the brakes, isn’t going to get you home any faster. However, driving smoothly can improve your mile­age by 20 percent.

• Drive 70, not 80. It may not sound like much, but it’s likely a 10-mph difference can save you up to four miles per gallon when driving on the highway.

• Use cruise control. It turns out that maintaining a constant speed over time is much more efficient than speeding up and slowing down over and over again.

• Roll up the windows. At slower speeds, turning off the air-conditioning can save you a little, but on the highway, it’s better to roll up the windows. If the windows are down, the increased air pressure can slow the car and consume more energy than air-conditioning will.

• Get rid of that extra stuff in the trunk of your car. Every 100 pounds of weight you carry in the car can reduce fuel economy by 2 percent.

• Don’t ignore the “check engine” light. Serious engine problems can cut your fuel economy by up to 40 percent.

• Try to bundle your errands. Plan ahead. An engine at operating temperature can be up to 50 percent more efficient than a cold engine. So, when possible, it’s much better to run five errands in an afternoon than running one errand every day of the week.

• Make your tires last. Properly inflated tires will improve your fuel economy and they will last longer. Also, rotate tires at manufacturer-recommended intervals.

• Use the grade of motor oil recommended for your vehicle; the same goes for the octane level of gasoline. Motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the performance symbol of the American Petroleum Institute contains friction-reducing additives that can improve fuel economy.

For most cars, the recommended gasoline is regular octane. In most cases, using a higher-than-recommended-octane gas offers no benefit—and costs more.

• Ditch the roof ornaments. At highway speeds, up to a third of your fuel is used to overcome wind resistance, so even small changes to your vehicle’s aerodynamics can have a big impact in fuel economy.

• It pays to be prudent. According to Roger Clark, manager of the GM Energy Center, “With a well-maintained car, the best drivers get up to 25 percent more miles per gallon than average. When you combine a poorly maintained car with inefficient driving habits, the fuel economy of the worst drivers can be 50 percent below average.”

Clark added, “The fuel economy of every vehicle is greatly affected by how you drive and how you care for your vehicle. Often, relatively small changes to your driving habits and vehicle maintenance can make the difference between being on the bottom or the top of the fuel-economy scale.”

To learn more and for more tips, visit www.chevrolet.com.

 

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Taking a summer road trip?

Tips for making the best of nighttime driving

(ARA) Summer is a great time for a road trip. With kids out of school and longer hours of daylight, many families will head out on the highway to a variety of summer vacation destinations. For many, nighttime driving will be an unavoidable necessity if they want to make the most of their vacation time.

It’s important to keep nighttime travel as safe, comfortable and convenient as possible for everyone who rides in your vehicle. If you’ll be driving at night during this summer’s vacation, here are some tips to help ensure you enjoy good travels:

Prepare your vehicle

Before you begin your trip, make sure your vehicle is in top shape for traveling at night. Take care of any necessary repairs or maintenance, no matter how minor they seem, including things like checking that tires are properly inflated and the air filter is clean and functioning properly.

Visibility is an important consideration for night driving. All windows, headlights and taillights should be clean and unclouded. Check headlights to ensure they’re properly aimed; poorly aligned headlights can make it difficult for you to see the road, and can blind drivers in other vehicles.

Don’t overlook the importance of comfort and convenience. Outfit your vehicle with accessories that will make operating it in the dark as easy as possible. For example, the Access Truck Bed LED Light attaches to any 12V power source in a pickup truck, SUV, boat or camper, and allows you to easily see important cargo areas at night. And, since it can be difficult to reach the far corners of a large cargo area, consider a Cargo Management kit, which includes a reaching tool to help access hard-to-reach cargo, and truck bed pockets that create extra storage to secure items that might otherwise roll around in the bed of the truck.

Look after your passengers

Before setting out on your summer driving trip, be sure interior climate controls function properly and that all passengers have the proper safety restraints. Infants and children should ride in the back seat throughout the trip.

Although it may be tempting to allow children to lay down in back seats and sleep during night drives, children should be properly buckled up whenever traveling in a vehicle. Put infants and toddlers in car seats appropriate for their weight and age. If children are younger than 12, shorter than 4 feet 9 inches, or less than 80 pounds, they should use a booster seat, according to SafeKids.org.

Do provide accessories like neck pillows, nightlights and soothing music to encourage kids to rest during nighttime driving.

Take care of yourself

As the driver, you are the most important piece of safety equipment in the vehicle. Make sure you are well rested before setting out on the road. Update eyewear prescriptions and take all necessary medications with you inside the vehicle so you’re not tempted to skip a dose while driving.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, but never drink alcohol and drive. The National Safety Council also recommends you avoid smoking while driving, since the nicotine and carbon monoxide in smoke can hinder night vision.

Finally, avoid frustrated driving by minimizing distractions. Plan your route before you leave home so that you don’t have to deal with confusion over where you’re going or the distraction of trying to figure out directions while driving. Ask your passengers to take any incoming phone calls or texts on your phone, unless you’re driving in an area that prohibits cell phone use in the car.

Families across the country look forward to summer vacation. With a little preparation and a few well-chosen supplies and accessories, you can help ensure every hour on the road is as safe, convenient and enjoyable as possible.

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