Automotive









 
Preventative Maintenance Check Your Tires Don't Text and Drive

Stop Texting
Start Driving

Engine Repowering Driving Pet Safety Moving Made Easy Buying Used Cars


Stop Vehicle Problems Before They Stop You

(NAPSI)-Whether you're taking a road trip or just commuting to work, the likelihood of your vehicle leaving you stranded is greater than you think.

Each year, AAA rescues 29 million stranded motorists. In 2010, the motor club expects it will jump-start or replace nearly 5 million auto batteries with its AAA Mobile Battery Service, and estimates it will change more than 3.5 million flat tires. And while AAA's well-trained roadside technicians will be able to get three out of five motorists back on the go, more than 11 million drivers will have problems that require their vehicles to be towed--many of which could be avoided with proper maintenance.

Taking care of your vehicle now can cost far less than a major repair later on. AAA recommends two fundamental things you can do to find and fix problems before they happen.

1. Identify a quality repair shop and use that facility for all your vehicle repairs and maintenance so you develop a good working relationship with them and they get to know your car.

One way to find quality auto repair facilities that meet and maintain high professional standards for training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service is to look for the AAA Approved Auto Repair sign. You can also search online at www.AAA.com/Repair.

2. Have your car serviced regularly based on the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule. While some maintenance and repair tasks are best left to certified automotive technicians, there are a few basics you can easily check yourself:

• Engine Air Filter--Check the air filter every six months or 7,500 miles by holding it up to a 100-watt lightbulb. If light can be seen through much of the filter, it's still clean enough to work.

• Battery--Check the battery cables to ensure they are securely attached to the terminals. Clean the terminals if there are any signs of corrosion.

• Tire Pressure--Check and adjust tire pressures at least once a month when the tires are cold--including the spare. The manufacturer's recommendations can be found in the owner's manual or on a sticker on the driver's doorjamb.

• Tire Tread--Check the tread depth by inserting a quarter upside down into a tire groove with Washington's head facing outward. The tread should cover part of Washington's head.

• Windshield Washer Fluid--Check the windshield washer fluid reservoir monthly and test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim.

• Windshield Wiper Blades--Check the blades at every oil change or whenever they fail to wipe the glass clean in a single swipe. The rubber inserts usually last six to 12 months.

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Check Your Tires Before Your Trip

(NAPSI)-Keeping your car on the road to safety and savings can start with something as simple as well-maintained tires.

According to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, about 11 percent of vehicles on the road have at least one bald tire, and 55 percent of vehicles have at least one underinflated tire.

Ongoing preventive maintenance--which can take less than 10 minutes--at least every month or before long trips is the best method to maximize tire performance, say the experts at Cooper Tire. Before hitting the road, drivers should conduct do-it-yourself maintenance checks, examining tires for proper inflation, damage or excessive wear and tear.

• Treading firmly. The only piece of a vehicle to touch the road is the tires, making tire tread--a key factor in handling, cornering, accelerating and braking--a vital part of overall tire maintenance. Tire tread depth should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep all around the tire, and drivers can check this by using a penny.

Insert the edge of the coin into the tread with Lincoln going in head first. If the top of Lincoln's head is covered by tread, there's an acceptable amount of tread; if the top of his head is visible at any location on the tire, the tire is worn out and should be replaced.

• Wearing well. 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, may do further damage to the tire, or air loss may occur.

• Putting the pressure on. Tire pressure also plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires as underinflation creates excessive stress on the tire, while overinflation can cause uneven wear in addition to handling and braking issues. A common myth is that the tire pressure listed on the sidewall is the optimal pressure, while in reality it is the maximum pressure.

Drivers should follow the guidelines found in the vehicle owner's manual or tire placard (or sticker) attached to the vehicle door edge, doorpost, glove box door, trunk or fuel door.

• Professional help. 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, suggests Chuck Yurkovich, vice president of global technology for Cooper Tire.

Learn More

To obtain more information on proper tire maintenance, visit www.coopertire.com, or follow Cooper on www.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.

 

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Drivers Are Getting The Message About Texting

(NAPSI)-A growing number of people are paying attention to the dangers of driving while distracted. According to a recent survey, U.S. drivers say they are talking and texting less while driving than they did a year ago, and they say it's because they are more aware of what can happen if they are driving while distracted (DWD).

The survey shows that 20 percent of drivers with cell phones say they text while driving and that number jumps to 47 percent for drivers under the age of 35. Of those who admit to texting behind the wheel, 40 percent say they do it less often than they did last year. The survey was sponsored by Nationwide Insurance.

According to the telephone survey of 1,005 U.S. adults conducted by Harris Interactive, 67 percent of drivers admit to talking on their cell phone while driving. Of those who do, 30 percent say they do it less often than they did last year.

While the problem of DWD remains one of the deadliest risks facing drivers, this survey shows that drivers are changing their behavior due to awareness and legislation.

"This is the first survey we've seen showing drivers making positive changes in their behavior, but there are still too many drivers who either don't realize just how dangerous distractions behind the wheel are or are willing to take that risk," said Bill Windsor, Nationwide's associate vice president of Consumer Safety. "The stigma now associated with distracted driving may also have fewer people willing to admit they do it, but studies continue to indicate that DWD causes one out of every four U.S. crashes."

Hands-free not used widely

While hands-free technology is readily available, two-thirds of drivers surveyed say they rarely or never use the devices. Most drivers who do use a hands-free device report feeling safer when doing so, although nearly one in four of these drivers say they talk more often since they started using the hands-free device.

"This survey shows that it is likely that when handheld cell phone laws are passed that a number of people will switch to hands-free devices and their usage of the phones will actually go up," said Windsor. "More research needs to be done on the extent of crash risk related to the cognitive distraction aspect of cell phone use. We need to be sure that for this segment of heavy users it does not actually result in increased crashes."

To learn more, visit www.nationwide.com.

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Stop Texting, Start Driving

(NAPSI)-The urge to text while driving has become a commonplace in the United States. In fact, more than 25 states have signed or implemented texting-while-driving laws. That's good news, since a distraction of any type--whether you are taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel or your mind off your driving--can have very serious consequences. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as recently as 2008, nearly 6,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than half a million were injured.

Although the spotlight's on cell phones and texting, distracted driving encompasses many other activities--from tuning the radio, eating, putting on makeup, reading, looking for something on the floor or in the glove box, and talking or refereeing disagreements in the car. You can do a number of things to break the habit and cut down on your own distracted driving incidents, such as:

• Be prepared before you start your car--If you put on makeup, eat, or program your GPS before you hit the road, you'll cut down on some distractions. If you organize what you need for your final destination before you leave, you won't need to search while driving.

• Go hands free--If you must use the cell phone when driving, invest in technology that will help you keep your eyes on the road. Several installation-free kits are available that can help you go hands free for less than the cost of a ticket.

• Take a break--Even with a hands-free device, the best idea is to pull over if you must make calls, answer texts or deal with issues involving other passengers.

One way to go hands free is the Parrot Minikit Slim. The speakerphone clips onto your car's sun visor, and once paired via Bluetooth with your mobile device, it automatically downloads your contact list. Using voice commands, it can dial up anyone in your phonebook and can be turned off and on with the push of one button.

In addition to portable options, another way to go hands free is with an installed product such as the Parrot MKi9200. Installed products are fully integrated into the vehicle's existing stereo system so phone calls can be heard with the same sound quality as music. In addition, music players such as iPods can be played through the vehicle stereo system via an installed solution.

To learn more, visit the website at www.parrot.com.

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Why Repower Rather Than Replace

(NAPSI)-Here's a way to keep your car on the road to safety and savings: If the vehicle ever develops serious engine trouble, ask yourself whether you should repower or replace the vehicle. The choice can mean a difference of thousands of dollars.

An Apt Analogy

If you had a serious plumbing problem, would you repair your current plumbing or install all-new plumbing? What if covering the cost of the new plumbing meant you had to apply for a loan that would take you years to pay off? What if your homeowner's insurance rate would increase significantly if you bought the new plumbing?

"This may seem like an absurd scenario, but when engine trouble hits, many vehicle owners don't even consider repowering their engine instead of taking on the financial burden of buying a whole new car," said Ken Carter, chairman of the Engine Repower Council, a nonprofit organization that supports the "Be Car Care Aware" consumer education campaign.

Cost Comparison

For example, to replace a worn-out engine with a remanufactured/rebuilt engine in a 1980−1995 full-size V-8 domestic pickup would cost $2,700−$3,450 compared to an average cost of $30,000 to purchase a new vehicle. "The cost savings is significant and that's without taking into account auto loan interest and increased insurance rates," continued Carter.

A Look At Repowering

With repowering, a vehicle's engine or an identical one from a similar vehicle is completely disassembled, cleaned, machined and remanufactured or rebuilt. Unlike used or junkyard engines with an unknown performance and maintenance history, repowered engines are dependable, reliable and backed by excellent warranty programs.

Learn More

To learn more about engine repowering and view a cost comparison chart for many popular vehicles, visit www.enginerepower.org and click on Cost Comparisons.

 

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Road To Safety

(NAPSI)-When planning your next getaway, remember that safety begins before you pull out of the driveway. Here are some hints that can help:

• Be sure your vehicle is ready for the trip by having all recommended services performed, with particular attention paid to tires, engine coolant and fluids, windshield wipers and the air-conditioning system. Check your automaker's website--many manufacturers, such as Subaru of America (www.subaru.com), post seasonal maintenance tips online.

• Stay safe while driving--take regular breaks, switch drivers periodically if possible, and pull over in a safe place to rest if you feel drowsy. Avoid distractions by using a hands-free device if you must make a call, and never text while driving.

• When traveling with kids, keep them busy with an assortment of games and entertainment. Happy kids means fewer arguments, which will help the driver focus on safe driving. Take along personal electronics, such as MP3 players and portable DVD players, but don't forget about some of the classic "unplugged" road games, such as "license plate alphabet."

• Exploring the outdoors is often a big part of any road trip, no matter what time of year you travel. For sun safety, bring sunscreen and apply it before getting in the car. Even an arm propped on the windowsill gets sun, as do faces and foreheads from an open sunroof.

• Keep pets safe--be sure they are secure in a well-ventilated crate or carrier or see your automotive dealer for a divider that safely separates pets and cargo from the passenger area. Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle; even on a cool day, it can become dangerously hot inside. Visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website at www.aspca.org for more tips on safe pet travel.

• If your vehicle doesn't have all-wheel drive, as all Subaru models do, consider making it a "must-have" feature in your next car or crossover. While well known for great traction in snow and ice, all-wheel drive can also provide excellent traction in the rain and on dirt and gravel roads, as well as sports car−like handling on dry roads.

 

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Do-It-Yourself Moving Made Easy

 

(NAPSI)-In today's economy, many families are choosing to move themselves to save money. These quick tips from Penske Truck Rental can help ensure that your move is smooth and easy.

"Moving is one of life's most stressful moments," said Don Mikes, vice president of consumer truck rental for Penske. "Our goal is to help guide people through their journey."

Select Smart. A 12- or 16-foot truck is ideal for moving a few large items or the contents of a small condo or apartment.

Reserve Early. Book your rental truck at least two weeks in advance.

Pack Wisely. Load your heaviest items first. Avoid injury by always bending your knees and lifting with your legs.

Use Accessories. Boxes, Bubble Wrap, moving blankets and hand-trucks are essential to protect your items and make your move more enjoyable.

Mark Boxes. Label as you pack. It makes it easier to put the boxes in the right room while unloading.

Think Safety. Trucks are taller, wider, heavier and require more stopping distance than cars. Pick up your truck early. Practice driving. Take precautions when the truck is loaded. Beware of low-hanging branches, overhangs and when cornering. Park in well-lit areas. Padlock the rear door. Penske Truck Rental has 24/7 emergency roadside assistance and optional protection plans.

Get Oriented. Ask the truck rental associate to walk you through the features. It should be a clean and well-maintained vehicle.

Drive Green. Use a truck rental company affiliated with EPA's SmartWay program.

A little preparation goes a long way to ensure an easy move. Get more free moving tips at www.GoPenske.com.

 

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Tips On Buying A Great Used Car

(NAPSI)-About half of all used cars purchased in a year are bought during the few summer months.

To stay on the road to safety and savings, there are a few facts you need to know first when it comes to buying a used car.

• Paperwork. Have the seller provide as much documentation as possible, including registration and title documents, service receipts and proof of insurance.

• Odometer rollbacks. Digital odometers can be easier to tamper with, and the tampering harder to detect. Make sure the wear and tear on the inside and outside of the car matches what the mileage reading says.

• Flood damage. More than half of the cars damaged by floods get cleaned up and returned to the road.

• Curbstoners. Illegal dealers posing as private sellers sell lots of cars either on the side of the road or through classified ads. Many of the cars have hidden problems and the seller typically disappears after the sale.

• Open recalls. Estimates are that 30 percent of all recalled cars go unfixed. Check for open recalls at www.carfax.com/recall and get more details about a specific recall at www.safercar.gov. Franchise dealers will fix open recalls at no cost.

• Certified Pre-Owned (CPO). Perhaps the best value for many used-car shoppers, certified cars are the closest thing to new cars at used-car prices. Most manufacturer programs, such as those from Honda, GM and Toyota, include a rigorous mechanical inspection and a free Carfax Vehicle History Report with every CPO vehicle.

• Cars sold online. Sites such as AutoTrader.com and Cars.com let you expand your search area and compare vehicles to find the best deal. Use discretion when buying from online classifieds and auction sites.

• Inspection. An inspection by a mechanic or body shop and a Carfax Report is your best one-two punch to find the right used car and avoid costly hidden problems. Shop at reputable dealerships and say, "Show me the Carfax."

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