AUTO

Numbers at the Gas Pump

Vehicles at College Back-to-College Move Healthier Car Ride

"Shockmobile"

Ethanol Teens and Tire Maintenance Title Washing

Find Out The Meaning Behind The Numbers At The Gas Pump

(NAPSI)—Are you one of the millions of Americans who will load up their car this summer and head out for a weekend getaway? If you are, you might be paying the price at the gas pump. Across the U.S., consumers paid the highest average price for gas on the Fourth of July since 2008. Like many, you may question why gas prices peak in the summer. What goes into the price of gas? To understand why, you need to consider the whole story.

Futures Fundamentals (www.futuresfundamentals.com), the new online resource brought to you by CME Group-the world’s leading derivatives exchange—now provides visitors with an easy-to-follow road map of just how and where the decisions are made that determine the price of fuel.

Futures Fundamentals’ latest tutorial, “Story of Oil,” takes learners on a journey from the ground to the pump through an engaging video and infographic. From extraction to price discovery at the exchange, and finally to the gas station, the journey of gasoline broadens visitors’ understanding of how the world around us works.

The “Story of Oil” is just one of the concepts made simple on the site, which also tackles complex topics like food prices and mortgage rates. “Futures Fundamentals is a relatively new site, but we’re already hearing from teachers that it’s helping their students understand complicated issues. We’re going to continue developing this type of useful content that helps people understand the economics of the world around them,” said Anita Liskey, CME Group Managing Director, Corporate Marketing & Communications.

Visit Futures Fundamentals today to uncover the story behind oil and start learning how the marketplace impacts the world around you.

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Back-To-School Budget Tips

(NAPSI)—Preparing to go back to school used to be as simple as stocking up the latest textbooks and grabbing a calculator. Today, college students and their parents regularly spend an average of over $800 on apparel, electronics, dorm furnishings and more. As a nation, that means spending for back-to-college reaches over $45 billion. When you add in monthly fees for Internet access, phone data plans and other ongoing technology-related expenses, the "basics" are more costly than ever before.

These costs, however, are dwarfed by the rising costs of tuition that often follow students well into their post-grad life. The average student now leaves school with nearly $30,000 of debt, making it hard to get ahead in post-college life-but there are ways you can save.

Budgets and Transportation

Students, and even post-grads, can go far toward putting a dent in their debt by finding smarter ways to budget their personal transportation.

For example, bringing a car to campus or into the city comes with high costs and hassles that go beyond the initial price tag. Parking rates, gas, maintenance and repairs can add up quickly for a car that may often sit unused up to 90 percent of the time. Insurance, especially for young adults, can cost more than the car itself.

Redirecting even a few hundred dollars per month from car costs could knock off nearly half the average student debt by the time graduation comes around.

The good news is that it's never been easier to get on, off and around campus without owning a car. To help maintain a budget-friendly university lifestyle that can also translate to reasonable post-grad living, here are four easy ways to cut transportation costs without sacrificing convenience.

Tips To Lower Transportation Costs

• Shuttle Services: Seek out free shuttles both on-campus and around town, or university provided transit tailored for students.

• Wheels By the Hour: Check out a car sharing service such as Zipcar, which lets students pay for a car by the hour, with gas, insurance, 180 miles per day and 24/7 assistance included in the cost.

Zipcar is on more than 350 campuses across the U.S. at a discounted student price, and continues as a benefit after graduation for smarter city living.

• Get Fit and Get Where You're Going: Alternative transportation, biking or walking when a car isn't needed is a financially savvy and healthy transportation option. Bike sharing is another great option for occasional use with more than 21,000 shared bikes in at least 36 urban areas throughout the U.S.

• Mobile Transportation Apps: Smartphone owners can often use mobile apps to find the best option for transportation in seconds. Download the RideScout app to view all of the transportation choices in your area.

To learn more about what cost-saving options are available on campus, visit your university transportation website or check out zipcar.com to learn more about car sharing.

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Making That Back-To-College Move Easier

(NAPSI)—As the new school year approaches, college students everywhere are preparing for their trip back to campus.

Whether you are a freshman making the journey into a college dorm for the first time or a senior headed to an apartment off campus, here are some tips to help ensure a smooth, easy and affordable move. They’re courtesy of the experts at Penske Truck Rental:

• Go with the truck that best fits your needs. Experience has shown that in most cases the 12- or 16-foot truck is adequate for moving into a college dorm or efficiency apartment.

• Have a reservation. Fall is peak moving time for students and family, so it’s best to reserve early. You should reserve your rental truck and order any moving accessories at least two weeks in advance. At Penske, a reservation guarantees that a truck will be available.

• Using accessories can make a difference. Boxes, packing tape, Bubble Wrap, moving blankets and hand trucks are essential moving tools. Look to pack electronic items in their original cartons, and reinforce the bottoms of all boxes with extra tape for support.

• How you pack it is important. Load the heaviest items on the truck first. And to avoid injury, always bend your knees and lift with your legs, never your back. Better yet, get a friend to help with any heavy lifting.

• Think safety and security. Plan on picking up your truck a day early so you can practice driving it. Remember, trucks are taller, wider, heavier and require more stopping distance than cars. When traveling, be sure to park in well-lit areas and padlock the rear door.

In the unlikely event a breakdown occurs, Penske offers around-the-clock emergency roadside assistance every day.

• Sharing is a good thing. Sharing the ride with a friend can help to defer some of your truck rental costs and provide some extra help with your boxes.

• Discounts can help. When moving, costs can mount up, so every little bit of savings helps. Look for discounts that may be available through various memberships. For example, Penske Truck Rental is the exclusive truck rental partner of AAA and offers AAA members a discount.

• Keep things in easy reach. Finally, before you leave, create a travel bag for moving day to keep important paperwork, credit cards, identification, clothes, drinks and snacks close at hand.

For additional moving tips, visit www.PenskeTruckRental.com.

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Treat Yourself To A Healthier Car Ride

(NAPSI)—Allergies are nothing to sneeze at. Fortunately, your car can protect you from the pollen, dust and pollutants that are drawn inside through air-conditioning and ventilation systems.

The cabin air filters clean the incoming air, removing allergens. For your part, you should replace these regularly.

Expert Advice

“A dirty or clogged cabin air filter can cause contaminants to become so concentrated in the cabin that passengers actually breathe in more fumes and particles when riding in the car than when walking down the street,” explains Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council—the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair.

A restricted cabin air filter can cause musty odors in the vehicle and impair airflow in the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, possibly causing interior heating and cooling problems. Over time, the heater and air conditioner may also become damaged by corrosion. In addition to trapping pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust gases, the cabin air filter prevents leaves, bugs and other debris from entering the HVAC system.

Cabin air filters should not be cleaned and reinstalled. Instead, they should be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or per the owner’s manual. Most filters are accessible through an access panel in the HVAC housing, which may be under the hood or in the interior of the car. An automotive service technician can help locate the cabin filter and replace it according to the vehicle’s owner manual. Some filters require basic hand tools to remove and install the replacement filter while others just require your hands.

Free Guide

To learn more about cabin air filters, view the Car Care Council’s Car Care Minute video or free digital “Car Care Guide” at www.carcare.org. There, you can also order a free printed copy of the guide.

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Giant ‘Shockmobile’ Latest Hit In Mobile Marketing

(NAPSI)—From giant rolling hot dogs to a 65-foot-long “backyard barbecue grill,” huge mobile marketing exhibits are bringing their messages—and, sometimes, tastes—to millions of consumers who might otherwise be focused on much smaller mobile devices. In fact, these rolling marketing exhibits have become so effective that at least one vehicle components manufacturer has joined the parade to communicate the importance of car care.

Consider, for example, the 25-foot-long, 12-foot-high translucent “Shockmobile” that is visiting scores of North American cities during its inaugural tour this year on behalf of the Monroe Shocks & Struts brand.

“A mobile marketing vehicle can be a very effective way to engage consumers in a conversation about your product. In our case, relatively few vehicle owners understand the role shock absorbers can play in protecting their driving safety—so we set out to capture their attention in a big way,” said Richard Alameddine, vice president of marketing for Tenneco, the manufacturer of Monroe ride control products.

The Shockmobile is certainly hard to miss. From its massive black fiberglass tube, angled upward like a rocket, to its glow-in-the-dark lettering reading “Everything Gets Old. Even Your Shocks,” the rolling exhibit has amazed motorists and pedestrians everywhere it has appeared, including New York City’s Times Square.

The point of the “Everything Gets Old” message is to remind consumers to have their shock absorbers and struts inspected at 50,000 miles/80,000 kilometers. Failure to replace worn units could negatively impact vehicle steering, stopping and stability in certain driving situations, according to Tenneco.

“We don’t expect consumers to immediately run to their local service garage and ask for new shocks,” Alameddine said. “We do hope, however, that when their repair provider tells them it’s time to replace worn units, they will be aware that, yes, shocks and struts do wear out and it’s important to install new ones to help stay safe behind the wheel.”

The Shockmobile joins a legion of mobile marketing vehicles that can be seen on North American highways, in parades and at other seasonal events. It might not yet be as iconic as a rolling hot dog, but it is turning heads and driving consumer engagement via social media, the Monroe website (www.monroe.com) and, most importantly, at local repair businesses.

“There’s simply no way a 25-foot-long glowing shock absorber won’t get your attention when it passes you on the road,” Alameddine said. “We get thumbs-up signals, smiles, waves and lots and lots of questions. But most people quickly realize it’s a shock and come away from the experience with important knowledge about their driving safety. And that’s what this vehicle and the Monroe brand are all about.”

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Ethanol Proven To Lower Gas Prices

(NAPSI)—Recently, the price of gasoline reached a six-year high. Fortunately, there’s a way to handle that cost. You can use less gas—without reducing your driving. Making that possible is one of the more promising alternative energy sources, ethanol, which is blended with regular gas—a little in most cars and a lot in flex-fuel vehicles.

Ethanol comes from corn, wood chips and grasses. Increasing America’s ethanol production could drive down demand for oil and help wean the country off the volatility and sudden price swings it can bring.

The Oil Issue

Oil is what’s known as a “global commodity,” meaning it costs the same no matter where it’s produced. So while the U.S. produces more oil than at any time in nearly three decades, oil prices still rise. That’s because so much oil comes from the Middle East. Producers there can artificially restrict supply and drive up prices.

An Answer

Ethanol producers, on the other hand, are based in the United States and increased ethanol use is reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. In 2013, ethanol production displaced the amount of oil America imports from Iraq and Venezuela—462 million barrels of crude oil.

Expert Advice

“Ethanol saves Americans money at the pump and stretches the fuel supply. Now is not the time for the Environmental Protection Agency to be scaling back our nation’s renewable energy policy. Now is the time to be expanding the use of biofuels and striking a blow for American energy independence,” noted Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

The Benefits

Ethanol is currently blended in more than 96 percent of America’s fuel supply, saving consumers an average of $1.00 a gallon at the pump.

Ethanol production is also a major job creator. A typical U.S. ethanol plant supports nearly 3,000 jobs.

“The need for American energy independence has never been so important and the solution has never been so clear—renewable fuels,” Dinneen added.

Government Action

Nevertheless, some people are trying to get Congress to repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of renewable fuels. However, many Americans are writing their legislators at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov, asking them to support the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Learn More

For further facts on ethanol, visit www.ethanolrfa.org.

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Teens And Tires: What They Don’t Know Can Hurt Them

(NAPSI)—Nearly 300,000 car crashes involving inexperienced drivers can be prevented each year with better driver’s education, recent research shows. Teenagers often lack the essential knowledge and skills that can help keep them safe on the roads.

The Problem

Of the 2.2 million vehicle accidents per year, 12 percent are among inexperienced drivers and involve tire-related issues such as insufficient tire tread or improperly inflated tires, a number that is nearly three times higher than with experienced drivers. That’s an accident every two minutes.

According to the survey commissioned by Michelin and the nonprofit FIA, the governing body for world motor sport, less than half of teens and their parents believe their driver’s education program completely prepared the teens to drive. Only 16 states require tire safety information as part of driver’s education, while only seven include tire safety information and require classroom time devoted to vehicle maintenance and tire safety.

Perhaps as a result, 27 percent of teens never check the condition of their tires; less than half check their tires monthly (the recommended frequency); and nearly three-quarters said their parents taught them about tire maintenance, although only around a third of parents consider themselves to be extremely knowledgeable about tire maintenance.

A Solution

Young drivers can take two easy, quick steps to help them avoid an accident. Tires are the only parts of a car that touch the road, so it makes sense that driving safety begins with tire maintenance.

That’s why you should check the tread by putting a penny in it upside down. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, the tires are too worn. Next, check the tire pressure with a gauge when they’re cold and be sure they’re inflated to the number posted inside the car door.

To address the safety gap, the FIA and Michelin North America launched Beyond the Driving Test, to raise awareness of tire maintenance and safety. They’re mobilizing parental involvement, encouraging peer education and working to update Department of Motor Vehicles’ education curricula. To those ends, they created a downloadable glove box guide with important tips and a new series featuring popular teen YouTube stars sharing tire safety tutorials. They’re also calling for all 50 states to include tire safety information in their official driver’s education materials by the year 2020.

Learn More

For further facts about the research findings, as well as to access educational resources, visit www.beyondthedrivingtest.com.

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Cleaning Up The Mess Made By Title Washing

(NAPSI)—A dangerous scam that hides major problems from consumers who purchase used cars is on the rise.

That’s the word from experts who say nearly 800,000 used cars on America’s roads may be part of an emerging fraud called title washing.

Title washing makes rebuilt wrecks and cars with odometer issues look like problem-free used cars on paper. Professional con men illegally alter vehicle documents to get title brands such as “salvage” or “flood” removed from a car’s title. They’ll often patch up the wrecked cars, move them to other states and sell them with a clear title to unsuspecting buyers. Victims can lose thousands and put their lives at risk purchasing used cars with washed titles.

To help, Carfax Vehicle History Reports alert people to cases of potential title washing. Every Motor Vehicle Department in the U.S. and Canada reports branded titles to Carfax. Getting an inspection by a trusted mechanic is also recommended.

You can now shop for used cars at the all-new www.carfax.com.

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