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Smooth sailing with proper tire safety

(NewsUSA) Don’t wait until there’s nothing left between you and the rain-slick pavement to check your tires. The likelihood of accidents skyrockets when combining wet, seasonal weather and poor tire maintenance.

Proper tire and pressure maintenance can prevent all kinds of road accidents, but drivers must be aware of the warning signs and ongoing maintenance needs to ensure driving safety. For example, an underinflated tire might not “look” flat to the eye. A tire can lose up to 50 percent of its air before it begins to show visually. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tire pressure literally changes the way the rubber meets the road, affecting traction, handling, steering, stability and braking. Similarly, NHTSA estimates that nearly 250,000 accidents occur in the U.S. per year due to low tire pressure.

Statistics like these remind drivers how quickly collisions occur under preventable circumstances. Schrader, a global manufacturer of sensing and valve solutions that protect and perform, recommends the following advice to keep your tires road-ready in all conditions:

* Check your tire pressure regularly, especially before any long trips. Inflation pressure changes depending on the temperature. Tire pressure drops about 1 psi for every 10 degrees F drop in ambient temperature. Additionally, tires can lose as much as 1.5 psi per month as air escapes the tire and rim naturally. It’s best to check tire pressure when the car is off and tires are coolest.

* Heed the TPMS warning symbol. All passenger vehicles and light trucks sold in the U.S. from 2008 onward have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) system installed. If the TPMS warning symbol lights up on your dashboard, one or more of your tires is 25 percent or more underinflated — a significant loss in pressure. Take caution, and do not ignore the TPMS warning symbol.

* Find a safe place to pull out of traffic to stop and check your tires. If you are not having a blowout, use a tire gauge to check the pressure of each tire against your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure level. Inflate tires to correct pressure at the nearest service station or repair facility. The recommended pressure level can be found on the tire placard, a label located just inside the driver’s side door.

* Don’t forget the spare. Before long drives, always check your spare for any injuries or punctures.

For more tips on how TPMS ensures driver safety, please visit www.TPMSMadeSimple.com


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Has your car been feeling left out in the cold?

Your car is a big investment, so it’s wise to give it a little TLC every now and then.

(NAPS)—It’s always there when you need it and it gets you through all sorts of rough weather. So you may want to give your vehicle a little something back. Consider setting aside the time to care for your car by following three simple steps:

• Keep your vehicle clean. Regular car washes and waxes protect the paint and body of your car from corrosive debris. If you’ve been driving on salted roads, regular washing is even more important.

• Keep your car on schedule. Every vehicle has a manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule. Whether you choose to do your own maintenance or patronize a repair shop, following a routine service schedule is essential to keeping your car in safe and dependable working order.

• Keep an eye on the little things. Are your windshield wipers cleaning as well as they should? Is your gas tank missing its cap? Is there a warning light lit on your dashboard? When you see that your car needs attention, don’t delay. Repairing small things now can help avoid more-costly problems down the road and add years of useful vehicle life.

“Many vehicles end up neglected and could use a little extra care to get them ready for driving season,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

“For most Americans, their vehicle is their second-biggest investment and they rely on it every single day to get to work, school and everywhere in be-tween. Taking a little time for car care now can save headaches and money in the long run.”

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.

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


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Don’t let winter weather catch you by surprise

(ARA) – Millions of American drivers will be hitting the roads this winter and facing cold temperatures, along with the snowy and icy conditions winter weather brings. These factors are not only a nuisance, but at times, very dangerous, even for the most confident and experienced drivers. Simple driving maneuvers, such as starting, stopping and making turns can become very challenging if vehicles are not properly prepared for inclement weather.

After their homes, the second-largest financial investment for most is their vehicle; helping it stay in good working order during the colder months of the year should be a top priority. Because money is often tight in the given economy, you may be reluctant to spend on services or maintenance that could be put off, at least for the short term. Such decisions, however, could potentially shorten the life of a vehicle, decrease its fuel efficiency or even help create unsafe driving.

To prepare vehicles for the winter months ahead, here are some simple tips to help you arrive safely at your destination.

Traction is key: The economy has forced many to postpone tire purchases, but with wet weather and unpredictable winter conditions ahead, now is not the time to have low tread on your tires. Your tires need good traction to help keep your car on the road. It’s important to have the correct tire tread and in particularly cold climates, drivers should consider investing in winter tires.

Feel the pressure: As temperatures change, so does tire pressure. Proper tire inflation is essential for increased automotive safety, optimum driving performance and even good fuel mileage. Tires should be inflated to the vehicle manufacturer recommendations printed on the vehicle door placard or in the glove box and should be checked at least monthly. Over-inflation can lead to premature or irregular tire wear and under-inflation reduces a vehicle’s fuel efficiency by an average of 3.3 percent.

Keep it clean: Consumers’ cars, trucks or SUVs are likely weathering the harsh conditions and corrosive elements associated with winter, including freezing rain, snow, ice, sand and salt. Keeping vehicles clean will help protect them from the chemicals and dirt that may attack the car’s finish and undercarriage. Be sure to use quality cleaners and waxes specifically designed for handling a car’s finish.

Keep it flowing: Oil is the lifeblood of the engine, helping to keep it running efficiently and effectively. Not sure what oil to use? Defer to a professional or use the grade of motor oil recommended by the vehicle manufacturer to achieve optimum engine protection and fuel efficiency.

Be prepared: Keep a survival kit handy. A flashlight with fresh batteries, a blanket, water bottles, cellphone charger, jumper cables, flares, a “help” sign, and a first aid kit will prepare you for emergency situations or unexpected breakdowns.

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Tips to prepare your auto for winter travel

(ARA) – The cold snap has arrived and the stormy winter days and dark evenings are here. It is time to prepare your car for the winter months to minimize the risk of a breakdown. Such breakdowns could be avoided by carrying out regular checks, so motorists are advised to follow these steps to minimize the risk.
“There’s nothing worse than breaking down on a cold winter night, stranded on the side of the road,” says Jim Fults, auto insurance leader at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company. “A few basic and regular checks can dramatically reduce the risk of getting stuck on the road.
“We urge motorists to set aside some time to carry out a series of simple checks,” says Fults. “Some may seem like common sense, but you’ll be surprised at how many drivers forget after the summer. For example, it is crucial to ensure all your lights are clean and working properly. Always replace any broken bulbs immediately. If you don’t, you will not only find it difficult to see the road clearly, you run the risk of not being seen by other drivers.”
Make sure you minimize the risk of breakdown this winter by following some tips from Fireman’s Fund:
Fireman’s Fund winter auto safety tips:
* Get your car checked: A professional check is worth it, for added peace of mind.
* Check your tires: Rain, snow and ice can make roads lethal. Check your tire tread and make sure the air pressure is okay.
* Light the way: Keep lights clean and make sure they are working.
* Get charged up: A dead battery is the main cause of breakdowns, so get it checked and replaced if necessary.
* Cooling system: Ensure this is checked and that the anti-freeze content meets the manufacturer requirements.
* Wipers: Check windscreen wipers and replace if they fail to clear the screen correctly.
* Fuel: Ensure you have more than enough for your journey.
Be prepared and take the following items with you:
* A fully charged cell phone
* Shovel in case of snow
* De-icer and a scraper for windows
* Blanket and warm clothing in case the worst happens
* Sturdy shoes or rubber boots
* Some snacks, such as energy bars
* Extra fuel
In addition, it is a good idea to put together an emergency winter survival kit so that you are prepared should you breakdown. Remember to include a flashlight, blanket, ice scraper and a first aid kit.

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Seven vehicle maintenance tips

Professional preventative maintenance can help keep your car on the road to safety and savings.

(NAPS)—A good way to drive down the cost of keeping your car is to have a professional check it regularly, at least seven ways:
1.    Check Tires. Tire wear is a good indicator of how the steering and suspension are performing. Excessive edge, center or shoulder wear suggest other maintenance is needed. Check air pressure on all tires, including the spare, as incorrect tire pressure can cause tires to wear prematurely. Tread and sidewall areas should be inspected for uneven or irregular wear and replaced if worn or damaged.
2.    Check Brakes. Pads, shoes, rotors, calipers, fittings, brake hardware and parking brake should be checked. If your brakes squeal, it may be time for replacements.
3.    Check Fluid Levels. Engine oil should be changed or replenished and all vehicle fluids and lubricants checked and changed at factory-recommended intervals. Low or dirty fluids can damage your engine.
4.    Check Engine Belts, Ho­ses and Fuel Filter. In today’s vehicles, a single drive belt provides power to many engine accessories and hoses carry vital fluids under high pressure. Prevent a breakdown or serious engine damage by replacing belts and hoses at recommended intervals.
5.    Change Air Filter. The air filter is designed to protect your engine from airborne contaminants. Poor airflow to the engine inhibits performance and can mean greater fuel consumption. A new air filter lets clean, unrestricted air flow into the engine for proper performance and longer car life.
6.    Check Battery. Whether for starting up in the morning or running the air-conditioning and other accessories, the battery is critical. Corroded terminals or a bulging or cracked case are signs it’s been subjected to extreme conditions. Each battery has a limited “life” to it. Test yours and replace it if necessary.
7.    Check Wiper Blades. Worn wiper blades can affect your ability to see the road and vehicles in front of you. For greater visibility and smooth operation, Mopar all-season wiper blades are built for the long haul and feature a strong, all-metal superstructure for durable, reliable performance. An innovative wear indicator gradually turns from black to green to yellow as the blades wear. Mopar is Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand.
According to Mopar’s Jim Sassorossi, “Performing preventative maintenance is critical for maintaining the safety and performance of your vehicle. Our technicians have the expertise, tools and factory-backed parts for these vehicles. And they work on them every single day.”
Learn More
More information and a complete list of accessories and performance parts are at www.mopar.com.

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Getting more enjoyment from your RV

An RV that’s mechanically sound will be less apt to break down. Do an inspection every time you get behind the wheel.

(NAPS)—Whether you are a rookie or a veteran when it comes to the pleasures of traveling in a recreational vehicle—or RV—GEICO professionals say that a review of the basics can help to keep you on the road to safety. Here are some tips:
Realize your size. Many road mishaps occur because of an RV’s additional size and weight. For instance, operators accidentally drive under an overpass without enough clearance because they forget about the additional height.
Know your RV’s height and keep it handy. Also know the clearances of the bridges and tunnels along your route—especially on back roads. A road atlas specifically for RVers or semi drivers can help.
Maintenance is important. An RV that’s mechanically sound will be less apt to break down. Be meticulous about maintenance. Make a pretrip checklist and do an inspection every time you get behind the wheel.
A proper maintenance program should include:
• Inspecting all belts and hoses for cracking and replacing where required;
• Checking headlights, brake lights and turn signals;
• Making sure your tires have the correct air pressure and sufficient tread depth.
Have a plan if you do break down. Carry your cell phone and know the emergency numbers to call. Also, leave your itinerary with relatives or friends so they can contact you in case of emergency.
Always wear safety belts. Passengers should be belted in also. Laws don’t require RVs to have safety belts in all areas where passengers can sit, but it is better to be safe, so buckle up!
Avoid these common causes of RV accidents:
• Fires that occur from leaking LP gas (propane);
• Tire blowouts due to overloading or to under inflated or worn-out tires;
• RV awnings and steps—Make sure RV outside steps are put away before traveling. Store them during travel and questionable weather;
• Clearance and height driving mistakes—RVs hitting bridges and gas station overhangs;
• Overloading—uneven weight can cause restricted braking and steering problems.
Make sure your coverage is up to date and fits the RV lifestyle. Not all insurance companies understand the needs of RV drivers, so it is wise to pick one that specializes in RV coverage. For example, GEICO has a dedicated team of RV insurance agents who are experts in issuing and servicing insurance policies for all types of RVs.
To learn more, visit the websites at www.rvsafety.com and www.geico.com/information/safety/rv/

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Cars that avoid crashes

(NAPS)—Cars, trucks, buses and even bikes and motorcycles may soon be able to “talk” to each other to detect dangerous situations and help drivers avoid crashes before they happen.
“Connected vehicles will alert drivers if another vehicle is about to run the red light, when a car in their blind spot drifts too close for comfort, if there’s a crash ahead or even if the next bridge is getting icy,” explained Scott Belcher, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, who noted that vehicles can also be equipped with pre-emptive braking systems to help drivers slow down.
In addition, connected vehicles can provide real-time information and navigation to avoid traffic, find better routes, check transit schedules, locate and reserve a parking space and pay tolls.
To find more good ideas, the Research and Innovative Tech­nology Administration launched the Connected Vehicle Technology Challenge, a national com­petition seeking ideas for ways to use connectivity between vehicles to make transportation safer, green­er and easier. More at www.Challenge.gov and www.itsa.org.

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How to spend less on fuel when gas prices rise

(ARA) – Remember when $4 seemed like an outrageous amount to spend on a gallon of gasoline? Now that number doesn’t seem so far-fetched. While you can’t do anything to control the unrest in the Middle East or oil rig explosions that could lead to gas prices spiking at a moment’s notice, there are a few things you can do to help ease the pain of high gas prices.
While buying a more fuel-efficient car might be an option for some, new and used cars that get more miles per gallon tend to be more in demand – and more expensive – when gas prices are high. If a new car isn’t an option for you, implementing the following changes can help ensure that you get the most from the fuel in your gas tank:
* Keep the gas you buy in your car. When gas prices are low, stealing gas would likely be more trouble than it’s worth, but when prices are high, it’s not uncommon for thieves to siphon gas from vehicles, especially those with larger tanks. Adding a locking gas cap can be done for much less than the cost of a tank of gas. In addition to preventing theft, locking fuel tank caps can also prevent anyone from tampering with your gas tank.
* Keep your tank full. While you’re looking to reduce the amount of gasoline you are using, constantly running your car with the tank close to empty can wear down your fuel pump. “The gasoline in the tank keeps the fuel pump cool. Take away the gas and the fuel pump runs hot and has a shorter life,” says Tom Taylor, engineer and vice president of RockAuto.com. If you have an older car that has accumulated dirt and rust at the bottom of the tank, keeping a full tank can help your fuel burn cleaner.
* Keep your car in shape. Keeping your engine properly tuned improves fuel efficiency by an average of 4 percent and repairing a major issue like a faulty oxygen sensor could improve efficiency by up to 40 percent, according the U.S. Department of Energy. The RockAuto.com parts catalog has oxygen sensors from $10 to more than $100 depending on the car,” says Taylor. Especially if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you could quickly recoup the cost of an oxygen sensor or other repair after as little as one tank of gas through improved fuel economy.
* Keep your tires inflated properly. Keeping your tires at the optimal level not only keeps you safer, but can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent, according to the Department of Energy. Your owner’s manual should tell you the proper psi (pounds per square inch) levels for your vehicle.
* Drive for optimal gas mileage. How you drive can affect how much gas you use. Most cars run at peak efficiency at around 60 mph, with fuel economy decreasing sharply when traveling faster. Aggressive driving with rapid acceleration and slowing will also have a negative effect on your fuel economy.
* Reduce weight and drag. Getting rid of items such as roof equipment when they aren’t being used can help your car become more aerodynamic and run more efficiently. Keeping unnecessary items in your car, especially if they are heavy, can also make your car work harder and use more fuel than it needs to.
By adding up the small savings gained by each of these tips, you can really notice a difference on how much you are paying at the pump, especially over a long period of time.

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Oil filter 101:

Choosing the right filter for your vehicle

oil change(ARA) – In today’s economy it’s more important than ever to take care of your vehicle. Engine maintenance is critical when extending the life of your vehicle. There is a lot of information available about the differences in oils and other maintenance components, but what no one explains is what to look for in an oil filter.

The oil filter serves as the lifeblood for your engine. It is important because it cleans the oil and is capable of filtering high volumes of oil with relatively low restriction. How do you know which filter to choose and what are the differences between styles? Here is some information to help you decide.

The shell is the outside casing you see when the filter is installed. It keeps your filter safe during the wear and tear on your vehicle, and protects it from punctures.

The media is the filtering component. Depending on the level of filter you chose, media can be described as a maze of cellulose, synthetics and/or microfibers that remove the harmful debris from your engine oil.

The core is the part of the filter that helps the filter keep its shape and prevents it from collapsing under extreme pressure. It is inserted inside of the filter media and can be made of a variety of materials.

The base plate is the threaded component of the oil filter. In addition to providing the threaded attachment for the filter, it directs the oil flow through the filter.

The gasket is the rubber ring that seals the filter to the engine’s oil filter base. This gasket is typically made of flexible rubber.

Now that you understand the components of an oil filter, it’s easy to see that not all oil filters are the same. There are some key differences in the quality of oil filter you are purchasing.

Most “economy” filters are very basic and last for a limited time in comparison to the higher end filters. These filters use media of natural wood fibers to sort out the debris in your oil.

The “better” filter contains media that is a blend of fibers. The majority of the fibers are cellulose with a minimal blend of synthetic fibers that enhance the media strength and efficiency performance.

The “best” or premium level of filters use micro-glass filter technology. Advanced micro-glass oil filters are designed to extend the life of vehicle 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. These oil filters can extend change intervals up to 12,000 miles.

Vehicles still under warranty should follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended filter change intervals.

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Avoiding flood-damaged used cars

A vehicle history report can help used-car buyers avoid flood-damaged vehicles.

(NAPS)—It’s important to steer clear of used cars that were waterlogged in floods, hurricanes and other storms. Experts say over 75 percent of declared federal disasters are related to floods. The vehicles can turn up in areas thousands of miles from where the damage occurred, and unknowing consumers who purchase a water-damaged auto from a dishonest seller may have little recourse.

A Growing Concern
It’s estimated that the number of waterlogged wrecks on the market has doubled in recent years, despite the fact that most flood-damaged vehicles are writtten off by insurance companies. Indeed, many of the cars make their way back to the used-car market, rebuilt and disguised as ordinary used cars with clean titles. Fortunately, there are ways to spot the telltale signs of a flood-damaged car. Carfax offers these tips:

Look Around
Check the trunk, dashboard and glove compartment for silt, mud, rust and other signs of water damage. You should also examine upholstery and carpeting closely. If it doesn’t match the interior or fits loosely, it may have been replaced. Discolored, faded or stained materials might indicate water damage.

Run A Test
Test the interior and exterior lights, as well as the windshield wipers, turn signals, DC power outlet, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to be certain they work. Also, turn the ignition key and make sure the accessory and warning lights and gauges work properly. Be certain the ABS and air bag lights come on, too.

The Nose Knows
Smell the interior of the car to check for musty odors. It’s also smart to flex some of the wires beneath the dashboard. Wet wires become brittle upon drying and may crack.

Get A Second Opinion
Bring the car to a trusted mechanic for a prepurchase inspection. Always get a vehicle checked before handing money over.

Know Your History
Ask to see a detailed vehicle history report. Thousands of dealers provide them free—just say, “Show Me the Carfax.” A Carfax Vehicle History Report can reveal any number of hidden problems from a vehicle’s past, including flood titles. Used-car shoppers worried about flood damage can also check for free at flood.carfax.com.

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