AUTO

Top 10 Coolest Cars

Sell Or Trade Vehicles Online Summer Battery Care Protecting Children Be Mindful Of Motorcycles Fueling Good Contest Shock Strut Options Electric Cars

The Top 10 Coolest Low-Cost Cars

(NAPSI)—In any economy, consumers like to drive a bargain, especially when shopping for a new car. An inexpensive new vehicle, however, may not provide everything a driver wants and needs. Fortunately, you may not have to sacrifice features, technology or even street cred, if you consider a select few cars that are reasonably priced, as well as engaging and enjoyable to drive.

To help, Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com compiled a list of cool cars that also are affordable for drivers on a budget.

The experts at kbb.com had two criteria for each car named on the popular annual list—fun-to-drive and fun-to-own. Once passing the decidedly subjective “cool factor” test, each car also was judged on the same criteria many consumers use: safety, fuel economy, interior size, comfort and technology.

“There are great deals to be had on many new cars under $18,000 but only a handful of them really possess that cool, difficult-to-describe ‘it’ factor,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com. “In ranking our top picks this year, the 2012 Fiat 500 took the top prize as our No. 1 choice.”

Top 10 Coolest New Cars Under $18,000

10: 2011 Hyundai Elantra

9: 2011 Nissan Cube

8: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta

7: 2012 Ford Focus

6: 2012 Honda Civic

5: 2011 Kia Forte Koup

4: 2011 Honda Fit

3: 2011 Ford Fiesta

2: 2011 Mazda3

1: 2012 Fiat 500

Each car is available for $18,000 or less, based on actual new-vehicle transactions updated weekly for changing market conditions.

Learn More

For more information, visit www.kbb.com/car-news/all-the-latest/10-coolest-cars-under-18000-_-2011-edition.

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New Ways To Sell Or Trade A Vehicle Online

(NAPSI)—With the auto industry on the upswing, Americans are buying new cars again. The National Automobile Dealers Association estimates new car sales to reach 12.9 million in 2011, an increase of nearly 12 percent over 2010. Rising gas prices may also spur folks to look for a newer, more fuel-efficient car. According to a recent AutoTrader.com survey, 53 percent of car shoppers said they would consider a more fuel-efficient car than the one they are currently driving. But before slipping into that new ride, most drivers need to unload an existing vehicle.

Fortunately, with today’s technologies and new resources, disposing of a car is easier than ever. No longer is it necessary to put a sign in the car window and hope for the best. From online tools to get your car the most exposure to instant price quotes taking the mystery out of the trade-in process, new options for selling a car help drivers get the best price with the least hassle.

Experts at AutoTrader.com offer six tips on how to prepare that old car for sale or trade-in to make room for a new one:

1. Do online research before posting an ad to understand the market and determine a reasonable sale price for the car in its current condition.

2. Get the car professionally cleaned before posting it for sale or visiting a dealer and fix easy items such as broken tail lights, chipped paint or small dents. These won’t cost you a lot and if the car doesn’t look clean and well maintained, buyers will wonder what bigger surprises might be under the hood.

3. Once the car is presentation-ready, include multiple photos in an online ad. Get exterior and interior shots, plus detail shots like tires, stereo, sunroof—whatever makes the car special. Create a virtual walk-around for the people viewing the ad, so they’ll want to see the car in person.

4. Write a descriptive listing. The mileage, model and color are givens but highlight what makes your car stand out. Does it have a great stereo system? Were the tires just replaced? Does it have ample cargo room? Emphasizing these features will separate the vehicle from competition.

5. Use AutoTrader.com’s new Trade-In Marketplace service to take the guesswork and hassle out of the trade-in process. Entering the vehicle’s information at http://tradein.autotrader.com will result in an instant value that can be redeemed at a participating dealer for trade-in or cash.

6. To dispose of a used car quickly, consider donating it to charity. A quick online search will turn up charities that take car donations. This provides the person donating the car a tax deduction, but be sure to research prices for similar cars and take an appropriate tax deduction to avoid tangles with the IRS.

For more information and tips about disposing of any car fast, check out AutoTrader.com’s “Sell Your Car” center.

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Hot Tips For Summer Battery Cares

(NAPSI)—More automobile batteries fail in the summer heat than in the winter cold. Summer conditions cause more stress on a battery than frigid winter temperatures. The Farmers’ Almanac anticipates widespread extreme heat and humidity for the latter days of summer 2011, with about two-thirds of the country experiencing above-normal summer temperatures. This summer, Interstate Batteries encourages motorists to protect and care for that part of the vehicle a driver depends on most every day.

Extreme heat affects the corrosion factor within a battery. Battery temperatures under the hood of an automobile can reach 175 degrees to 200 degrees in extreme conditions. This is why it is important for motorists to take necessary precautions of having their vehicle battery checked on a regular basis.

Gale Kimbrough, Interstate Batteries’ hot weather expert, has some helpful guidelines to follow when caring for the automobile battery:

1. Wear protective eyewear, remove all jewelry and wear long sleeves to protect the skin from an explosion of battery acid.

2. Inspect the battery case for signs of extreme bulging, cracking or leaking. If so, it’s time to replace it.

3. Clean up the connections by removing any corrosion, lead oxidation, paint or rust from the top of the battery with a scouring pad or brass brush. Be sure to brush the corrosion away from the body.

4. If the battery has removable filler caps, open the caps and check the water level in each cell.

5. Make sure the plates are at least half covered. This prevents sulfation and reduces the possibility of an internal battery explosion.

6. If the water level is low, add distilled water (avoid tap water) until the plates are covered.

7. Avoid overfilling, especially in hot weather, because the heat can cause the solution inside to expand and overflow.

8. Have the battery and electrical system professionally tested every three to six months and especially prior to heading out on a trip.

In just 30 seconds, Interstate All Battery Center locations provide motorists with a free printout analysis of the vehicle battery condition.

To find information and a local Interstate Batteries dealer or Interstate All Battery Center, visit www.interstatebatteries.com.

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Protecting Children From “Backover” Accidents

(NAPSI)—Backing up a motor vehicle is inherently difficult and potentially dangerous. That’s why Congress recently passed the Kids Transportation Safety Act. It requires that automakers install backup cameras and related video displays in all new vehicles in the U.S. by September 2014. Such systems help prevent pedestrian injuries and deaths from accidents that happen when a vehicle is reversed. Young children are especially vulnerable to such accidents as they are often too short to be seen. As it stands today, the regulation requires the rear camera display to turn on in two seconds or less from the time the vehicle is put in the reverse gear, and the brightness of the display must be at least 500 cd/m2. However, not all rear camera displays are equal, say the experts. When it comes to choosing a rear camera display, go for:

Mirror integrated. The mirror appears to be a safer location for the display, likely because it is in the driver’s natural line of sight, can be viewed while maintaining a heads-up posture and is in a logical, intuitive and ergonomic location that the driver is already accustomed to viewing regularly—especially when backing up. Recent independent studies reveal that displays in the rearview mirror are more effective in helping drivers to detect obstacles and avoid backover accidents when compared with drivers using in-dash displays. Having the display in the mirror also prevents sunlight from washing out the display, which may be a problem with dash-mounted designs.

• Faster. Mirror-integrated rear camera displays tend to turn on faster than those sharing a display with the navigation or infotainment system, as those systems can require significant time to boot up. Gentex Corporation (NASDAQ: GNTX), the leading supplier of automatic-dimming mirrors with integrated electronic features, provides automakers with rear camera displays that respond in two seconds or less.

• Brighter. Gentex display mirrors are bright, too--300 to 500 percent brighter than in-dash displays. The mirror display consists of a bright, high-resolution display that works with a video camera to provide a view directly behind the vehicle when backing up.

• Cost effective. Mirror-integrated displays also tend to be less expensive than those mounted in the dash or center console. The mirror’s “plug and play” design allows automakers to avoid the significant expense of tooling each vehicle’s dash to accommodate a display. In addition, they allow consumers to purchase the feature without having to also pay for expensive navigation or infotainment systems.

For more information, visit www.gentex.com.

 

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Be Mindful Of Motorcycles

(NAPSI)—An average of three lives a day could be saved, experts estimate, if motorists and motorcyclists were more careful at intersections. In fact, crash data reveals that motorcycle crashes happen more often at intersections than anywhere else, relative to the amount of time riders spend in them.

To help, one major insurance company is putting up caution signs on roads all over the country. The yellow, diamond-shaped signs feature a motorcycle silhouette and are inscribed with the word “LOOK” to encourage motorists to look for motorcycles before crossing an intersection. It’s all part of Allstate’s “Once is Never Enough” (ONE) program, designed to remind drivers and riders that looking once at intersections is never enough.

“In the time it takes to blink an eye, a life could be saved,” said Keith Rutman, vice president of Allstate’s consumer household unit.

Fortunately, there are things drivers, riders and others can do.

Tips for Motorists

• Be cautious when going through intersections.

• Look left, right and left again for motorcyclists. Also, be aware that because of a motorcycle’s small size, a bike can easily hide in a car’s blind spot.

• Allow for greater following distance. Most motorcyclists do not activate their brake light when slowing down. They slow down by downshifting.

• Don’t assume motorcyclists are speeding. Due to their small size, motorcycles may seem to be moving faster and appear farther away than they really are.

• Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane. This helps them be seen more easily by motorists. They also tend to avoid the center of the lane because of liquids that leak from car engines, transmissions and radiators.

Tips for Motorcyclists

• Be cautious when going through intersections.

• Be visible when you ride. Try to avoid blind spots, wear bright-colored, protective clothing, activate turn signals early and always use your headlights.

• Flash your brake lights when slowing down. This helps others on the road know your intentions.

• Leave enough space between you and the car in front of you. You’ll have more time to react to other motorists’ actions.

• Ride within your limits. If you’re a new rider, consider taking a training course. Rush hour is not the time to learn how to maneuver your motorcycle. All riders should avoid extreme temperatures and inclement weather.

Learn More

For more information regarding motorcycle safety and awareness, visit www.Allstate.com.

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A Gallon Of Gas Can Go A Lot Further
Than You May Think

 

(NAPSI)—A gallon of gas might fuel your car so that you can get to the store or take your kids to the ballpark, but with one oil company that gallon can also put food on the table for a hungry family or help provide a new book for a student.

A program called Fueling Good recognizes and rewards heroes across the United States. There are two phases of the contest. The first will run through August 11, the second from September 1 through October 27. Each phase is an opportunity for up to 12 nonprofit organizations to win $5,000 in CITGO gift cards to support their programs. This means a total of 24 winners can win $120,000 this year for helping their communities.

Since 2009, Fueling Good has supported more than 30 charities, including Bess the Book Bus, a mobile literacy program. With support from CITGO, Bess was able to expand its reach across the United States and donate more than 60,000 books to children in need last year.

Other winners include a food pantry in Chicago, an animal shelter in Maine and a mobile children’s dental clinic in Florida. Not only do the charities win, the communities they support benefit from every gallon of quality CITGO fuel. Visit www.YouTube.com/CITGOFuelingGood to view videos of past winners.

Any 501©(3) nonprofit organization based in the 26 states or the District of Columbia served by CITGO is eligible to submit an entry at www.FuelingGood.com. The public votes online for the one believed to be doing the most good.

Doing good, the company says, is part of its DNA—from the fuel provided at its service stations to the fundraising and community efforts of the company’s employees, marketers and retailers, adding that this is aligned with the social development principles of the CITGO shareholder, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

For more information, rules, to enter for a chance to win up to $5,000 and to learn how these organizations make a difference, visit www.FuelingGood.com. For regular updates and to join the conversation, “Like” CITGO Fueling Good at www.Facebook.com/CITGOFuelingGood.

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Import Owners Have New Shock, Strut Options

For Improved Ride

(NAPSI)—With the ever-growing popularity of import vehicles, leading replacement-parts manufacturers and established North American brands are developing technologies that help enhance the unique characteristics of these cars, light trucks and SUVs.

The Problem

One key engineering battleground is ride control, where many import models’ “tight,” control-intensive steering and suspension systems can lead to increased ride harshness in some driving situations.

“There has traditionally been a trade-off between control and comfort in many import vehicles, especially those with lighter-weight chassis components and low-profile tires,” said Bill Dennie, director of ride control channel management for global shock and strut manufacturer Tenneco Inc. “There’s no doubt that consumers love the way these vehicles handle but they also complain about the ride being too harsh in many situations.”

An Answer

To eliminate this compromise, Tenneco’s Monroe brand recently introduced a broad new line of highly advanced shocks and struts for import vehicles. The new Monroe OESpectrum units feature a “Twin Technology Active Control System” that accentuates control while isolating impact-related noise, vibration and harshness before they are transmitted into the passenger compartment.

This emphasis on maintaining and improving the performance of import models is a logical response to the increasingly global face of the North American vehicle population, Dennie said.

“With the growth of foreign nameplates, we’re leveraging our global engineering resources to deliver products that address the unique demands of import vehicles,” he said. “What consumers might not realize is that we have long provided original equipment parts on many Asian and European models.”

The combination of OE manufacturing experience, import-specific technologies and tried-and-true North American brands can provide an important additional benefit: convenience. Monroe products, for example, are available through thousands of parts stores and service shops.

Learn More

For more information on ride control products for import vehicles, visit www.monroe.com.

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All Charged Up Over Electric Cars

(NAPSI)—As more electric cars get set to hit the street, one American auto company is in the forefront, working with partners to increase the usability of electric vehicles.

What Communities Can Do

Communities around the country are preparing for the arrival of new electric vehicles (EV). Some of the things they’re doing and methods involved include:

• Utility rate structures that encourage “off-peak” or nighttime EV charging to minimize demand on the existing electric grid;

• Streamlined permitting and inspection process to support customer and commercial EV infrastructure installation;

• Integrated advisory committees that include participation from electric utilities, vehicle manufacturers and dealers, municipalities, EV customers and neighborhood coalitions;

• Urban planning approach to optimize public and commercial EV charge locations.

All this can help ensure that these vehicles are a viable solution for American drivers.

What Utilities Can Do

Fortunately, this country’s electric grid has plenty of capacity to support electric transportation. It helps if utilities offer incentives so EV customers are encouraged to charge their cars when the most capacity is available.

The Power of Choice

Electrification is an important piece of Ford’s aggressive strategy to save energy and protect the planet. This includes launching five electrified vehicles: the Transit Connect Electric small commercial van; the Focus Electric; the C-MAX Hybrid; a second next-generation lithium-ion battery hybrid; and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. This wide range of electrified vehicles means the company can meet a variety of consumer driving needs while its cutting-edge technology helps ensure that drivers don’t have to sacrifice performance for efficiency.

Learn More

For more information, you can visit www.ford.com/green/technology/.

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