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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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Adapt your vehicle and driving habits to combat rising gas prices

Looking for ways to save money at the pump? A truck bed cover can reduce drag and cut fuel consumption.


(ARA) Just as Americans are gearing up for warm-weather road trips and family vacations, prices at the gas pump are rising. For most people, driving is essential for getting to work, taking kids to school and going out to have some fun, so filling up the tank is a non-negotiable expense. However, costs add up quickly as fuel prices climb higher, taking up more of your budget.

If you want to keep your plans in place and your spending on track, it’s important to be smart about fuel consumption. Not everyone can afford to buy a new, ultra-fuel-efficient car, so making adjustments to your existing vehicle—and your driving habits—can help you stretch the dollars you spend at the pump.

* Drive mindfully: If you’re used to speeding up fast and braking at the last moment, you need to reconsider how you’re operating your vehicle. Those habits can drain your gas tank and send you back to the pump more often. Instead, make a conscious effort to accelerate and slow down gradually and use cruise control to maintain a constant speed, all of which will help to use fuel more efficiently. When possible, avoid idling and make plans for running errands, to cut down on the number of trips you take.

* Reduce drag: If you drive a truck, smoothing out the aerodynamics of your truck with a truck bed cover or a tonneau cover can make a big difference in fuel consumption. Covers are a simple solution that will give you immediate gas mileage improvement. The roll-up cover is lockable, so it protects your gear and improves the look of your vehicle in addition to reducing drag and bringing down your gas costs. Covers can be added easily with clamp-on installation and can be rolled up behind the cab when not in use.

* Choose wisely: You’re typically given three options at the pump, with a trio of gasolines with different octane levels and different prices. One of the simplest ways to cut costs is to opt for the lowest octane fuel that you can use in your vehicle. Making this change can save you hundreds of dollars per year, without sacrificing performance or gas mileage.

* Give your vehicle a check-up: Maintenance and mileage can go hand in hand, so it’s important to make sure that your car is in shape for saving fuel. Check and change your oil regularly. It’s an essential component in reducing wear caused by friction between moving parts in the engine. If it’s not clean, or if levels are low, your vehicle won’t be performing as efficiently as possible. Equally important to getting good mileage is the air pressure in your tires, which should be at the manufacturer’s recommended levels (often listed on the driver’s side door frame). Proper inflation can improve your gas mileage by up to 3 percent. A check of the air, oil and fuel filters should also be included in a check-up.

Making adjustments to your vehicle and the way you drive can be the best way to save yourself from going over budget on gasoline. Start with these tips and you’ll be able to enjoy the season the way you want to.

 

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Michigan traffic deaths fall 5 percent in 2011

Fewer people died in Michigan traffic crashes last year, driven partially by significant declines in motorcyclist fatalities, commercial motor vehicle-involved fatalities and alcohol and drug involvement in fatal crashes. Traffic deaths dropped 5 percent, from 937 in 2010 to 889 in 2011.

Statewide crash information is collected by the Michigan State Police (MSP) Criminal Justice Information Center.

Changes from 2010 to 2011 included a 1 percent increase in total crashes, up from 282,075 in 2010 to 284,049 in 2011; and a 2 percent increase in crash-related injuries, up from 70,501 in 2010 to 71,796 in 2011.

Crash data also showed a 3 percent drop in alcohol-involved fatalities, down from 283 in 2010 to 274 in 2011. Drug involvement in fatalities fell 17 percent, from 153 in 2010 to 127 in 2011.

“It is extremely good news that traffic deaths are down in 2011,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, MSP director. “Further study will take place to see if we can determine what may have caused the fairly large changes in the areas of motorcycles, commercial motor vehicles and drug involvement in fatal crashes.”

In other areas:

Cell phone-involved crashes decreased from 881 in 2010 to 821 in 2011. Cell phone-involved fatal crashes increased from four in 2010 to six in 2011.  (Michigan cannot track crashes involving texting specifically.)

Commercial motor vehicle-involved fatalities fell 23 percent, from 95 in 2010 to 73 in 2011.

Motorcyclist fatalities dropped 13 percent, from 125 in 2010 to 109 in 2011.

Bicyclist fatalities were down 17 percent, from 29 in 2010 to 24 in 2011.

Pedestrian fatalities increased 6 percent, from 131 in 2010 to 140 in 2011.

The number of car-deer crashes declined 4 percent, from 55,867 in 2010 to 53,592 in 2011.

 

 

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