AUTO

Travel Rewards

Child Safety Seat

Vehicle Maintenance

Cabin Air Filters Properly Inflated Tires

Car Buying and Selling

Safer Behind the Wheel Green Your Vehicle

Things To Know Before Your Next Trip

(NAPSI)—Investing a little time and effort when preparing for your next trip can pay big dividends when it comes to safety and convenience.

To help, here are some tips:

• Avoid exchange lines, and unfavorable exchange rates typically offered in airports, hotels and foreign banks, by purchasing foreign currency before leaving the United States .

• Always have local denominations to pay for taxi fares, tips and meals.

• When using ATMs, use the same caution you would when you're at home. Don't flash your cash after leaving the machine. Use only ATMs in safe locations and from reputable financial institutions—such as large, well-known foreign banks.

• Carry only the funds you need for each day's outing.

• Keep photocopies of your key documents separately. Photocopies might not always be accepted but they can speed the process of getting replacements and/or be better than nothing.

• To get extra financial protection when traveling, carry and use a credit card. To minimize risk of theft or loss, take only the cards you will need, not every card you have.

• Consider using a card that offers travel-related consumer rewards. For example, if you use the AAA Member Rewards Visa SignatureŽ credit card* to book your vacation, you can earn three times the dollars spent on travel purchases in benefit points, plus double points on gasoline purchases and one point on purchases everywhere else.

Other benefits include:

—Travel and emergency assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

—Auto rental collision damage waiver

—Lost luggage reimbursement

—Common carrier travel accident insurance, automatic common carrier travel accident death and dismemberment insurance, up to $500,000.

• Before you depart, make a list of the account numbers of the credit cards, debit cards or prepaid travel cards you plan to take and the numbers on your traveler's checks. Keep the list with you. Give copies to a traveling companion and to someone at home who you can call in case of trouble.

• Keep cards in a safe place where they won't bend or scratch. Never write a PIN on the card or carry it in your wallet or purse.

• In Europe, you should plan to cash traveler's checks at a bank in the country you are visiting, rather than presenting them to the merchant.

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

*For information about the rates, fees, other costs and benefits associated with the use of the AAA Member Rewards Visa Signature credit card, visit www.AAA.com. This credit card program is issued and administered by FIA Card Services, N.A. Visa and Visa Signature are registered trademarks of Visa International Service Association and are used by the issuer pursuant to license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.

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Choose "The Right Seat" For Children In Cars

(NAPSI)—U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently announced the launch of a series of new public service announcements (PSAs) released in partnership with the Ad Council that promote child car safety among parents of children ages newborn to 12.

According to the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1 through 12 years old. From 2006 to 2010, 4,028 children ages 12 and younger were killed in crashes and another estimated 660,000 children were injured in crashes involving a passenger vehicle. However, NHTSA reports that child restraints in the vehicle saved the lives of an estimated 9,611 children ages 4 and younger from 1975 to 2010.

"While safety is our top priority for everyone on our roadways, we're calling on parents to do everything they can to protect our most vulnerable passengers," said Secretary LaHood. "These new public service announcements will encourage parents to choose the right seat for their children and properly secure them every time they get behind the wheel."

Working with the Ad Council as part of an ongoing campaign to ensure child car safety, NHTSA unveiled new PSAs that will air on television, radio, online and in outdoor advertising nationwide. "The Right Seat" effort aims to make sure all parents and caregivers are properly securing children ages 12 and under in the right car restraint (rear-facing, forward-facing, booster, seat belt) for their age and size. Targeting parents and caregivers who think their children are already using the right car seats, the key message of the PSAs is "Parents who really know it all, know for sure their child is in the right car seat."

"The proper use of a child seat is the most effective way to keep a child safe in a moving vehicle," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Parents and caregivers should always use a child seat and, based on NHTSA's updated guidelines, should keep their children in their current seats for as long as possible before moving them up to the next type of seat."

Coinciding with the release of the new PSAs, NHTSA also launched "Parents Central," a new one-stop-shop website with tools and resources for keeping children safe in and around cars.

For more than 25 years, the Ad Council and NHTSA have worked together on consumer safety PSA campaigns. Previous campaigns targeted individual stages of child passenger safety; i.e., the LATCH system, booster seats and seat belts. The English-language PSAs were created pro bono by advertising agency Gotham, Inc.

"We are proud to partner with Secretary LaHood, Administrator Strickland and NHTSA to extend our more than 25-year partnership with NHTSA by releasing new PSAs that address the absolute importance of child car safety," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council.

For more information, visit www.SaferCar.gov/TheRightSeat.

Brought to you by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Vehicle Maintenance Tips

(NAPSI)—Maintaining your car throughout the year is vital to ensure safety. These tips will prolong your vehicle's life and may save you from costly repairs.

• Change the oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on make and model, to keep the engine lubricated and prevent breakdown of engine parts.

• Inspect tires regularly to ensure they have proper air pressure, are in good condition with no puncture marks, and have a solid tread to achieve better gas mileage and avoid safety issues like hydroplaning on rainy days.

• Cleaning the engine, the heart of the vehicle, can protect it from dirt and grime buildup that can cause overheating. Using an engine-specific cleaning system like GUNK Original Engine Degreaser in tandem with GUNK Engine Protector will remove caked-on buildup from the road and leave a layer of protection, allowing the engine to run cooler and more efficiently. Cleaned and protected engines are less susceptible to salt and grime accumulation, lessening the chances of engine troubles. For more information, visit www.gunk.com.

• Check hoses and belts before road trips to ensure nothing is loose, frayed or cracked, which can cause parts to snap or break. Have a mechanic check out any parts with excessive wear to determine if they need to be patched or replaced.

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Prepare Your Vehicle To Help You Fight Allergy Season

(NAPSI)—Allergy experts predict a longer allergy season is likely this year due to the mild winter that most parts of the U.S. experienced. So it's more important than ever to jump-start efforts to reduce allergy and asthma irritants around your home—and especially inside your vehicles.

"The air inside your vehicle can be six times more polluted than the air outside," explains Paul Kortman of NAPA Filters, the world's largest distributor of light- and heavy-duty filters for the automotive aftermarket. "Without proper filtration with a clean, functioning cabin air filter, the air inside the passenger cabin can be full of allergens and other pollutants. That can mean a significant health risk for kids and some 60 million people who suffer from asthma and allergies in the U.S. "

Cabin air filters block airborne contaminants like pollen, dust, car exhaust, allergens and the smelly buildup caused by mold, mildew, algae and fungi and more. Without a clean, functioning cabin air filter, microscopic contaminants are pushed into your car, much of it through vents. A dirty cabin air filter can degrade and potentially damage your vehicle's heating and air-conditioning systems.

Breathe Easier Behind The Wheel

If you have a 2000 model year or newer vehicle, you probably have a cabin air filter. They are typically located under the dashboard or attached to the glove box, but some are found in the engine compartment. While a recent survey showed that 95 percent of vehicle owners are concerned about in-car air quality, just 26 percent said they knew there was a cabin air filter in their vehicle.

Driving conditions will determine how often a cabin air filter needs replacing. Dirt roads, dust-or pollen-filled areas and stop-and-go heavy traffic shorten a cabin air filter's life. Most vehicle manufacturers suggest cabin air filters be replaced every 12 months or 12,000 miles.

Service specialists can check the condition of your cabin air filter and install a new one in as little as 20 minutes.

"Checking and changing a cabin air filter is a simple, cost-effective way to make a big difference in the quality of air you breathe in your vehicle," Kortman adds. "We hope to help people and families with allergies become more aware of how it can help in fighting off a tough allergy season."

For more information, visit www.NAPAFilters.com.

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America Needs Inflation

(NAPSI)—High gas prices should make more Americans become pro-inflation—at least when it comes to tire pressure.

The Facts

The U.S. Department of Energy says properly inflated tires can improve fuel economy by 3.3 percent and save 1.2 billion gallons of gasoline nationally.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that underinflated tires contribute to more than 600 fatalities and 33,000 injuries a year. Yet fewer than one in five vehicles has four properly inflated tires, according to a Rubber Manufacturers Association tire pressure study. Worse, at least 15 percent of vehicles were found to have at least one tire underinflated by at least eight pounds per square inch (PSI).

What You Can Do

Heeding a few hints, however, can not only help motorists stay safe, but help them save money.

• Good driving habits help keep tires in optimum condition (avoid fast starts, stops, potholes and curbs).

• Take five minutes a month to check all your tires. Simple, regular maintenance can help drivers save as much as 12 cents per gallon at the pump and keep tires rolling longer so they don't need to be replaced as often.

To be tire smart, you need to play your PART—Pressure, Alignment, Rotation and Tread. These are the key elements of proper tire care.

Pressure: Check tire pressure monthly with a tire gauge and inflate to vehicle manufacturer's recommended pressure.

Alignment: Misalignment of wheels can cause uneven and rapid tread wear.

Rotation: Rotate tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles to help you achieve more uniform wear.

Tread: Advanced and unusual wear can reduce the ability of tread to grip the road in adverse conditions.

Learn More

For more facts and tips, go to www.betiresmart.org.

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Investing In Your Car Can Pay Dividends

(NAPSI)—When it comes to taking care of your car, keeping to a regular maintenance schedule can be like putting money in the bank.

That's because regular maintenance is an investment of sorts. This is particularly evident when an owner sells a car. Used cars with a documented history of regular service are usually worth more, to both the buyer and the seller.

That's why, in addition to getting the maintenance done, keeping records of that work is also essential.

Fortunately, a growing number of repair facilities are now reporting maintenance information to Carfax. Having this documentation appear in the vehicle's history can help sellers demonstrate that they have kept to the recommended maintenance schedule.

A Carfax Report can include the location of the facility that did the work and the kind of work performed on the vehicle.

To learn more, visit www.carfax.com.

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Car Check Keeps Families Safer Behind The Wheel

(NAPSI)—When the chatter of your wiper blades is louder than the kids in the backseat, you know it's time to change your wiper blades, and you may even add it to a pre-road-trip to-do list. But why wait? Instead, make inspecting wiper blades part of your regular vehicle safety inspection.

Spending a few minutes with your car now can help you enjoy safer driving this summer. More than a deep wash to get winter's salt and grime away, maintenance items on a car checklist should include inspecting and repairing items that wear over time.

Routine items to check include

• tire pressure

• fluid levels

• air-conditioning and engine cooling systems

• hoses and filters

• turn signal indicators

• headlights, taillights and running lights

• ...plus—one of the simplest—inspect and replace worn wiper blades.

Nationally recognized automotive expert in car care Lauren Fix, "The Car Coach," knows that an estimated 90 percent of a motorist's driving decisions are based on how well he or she sees the road. Fix and her daughter, "Teen Car Coach" Shelby Fix, agree that checking wiper blades is one of the easiest ways to improve your family's road safety.

As Shelby writes, "A dirty windshield could cause big problems. If you can't see where you are going, it's dangerous to everyone. Get a new set of wiper blades...they are worth it."

Properly maintained wiper blades are simply an easy, low-cost way to help ensure the clearest sight line in a rainstorm and improve driving safety.

Industry experts recommend checking blades periodically and replacing them about every six months.

Better Blades

Worn, torn or inefficient blades leave streaks, a film and an inconsistent view of the road that can limit vision or delay driver judgment. New blades can provide a better and longer-lasting clear view of the road, especially important for improving safety during summer rainstorms.

One option is the Michelin Stealth Hybrid Technology wiper blade, with a patent-pending, spring-loaded design for superior contact with the windshield and improved wiping performance in all weather conditions.

For more information, visit www.michelinstealth.com. More advice from Lauren and Shelby Fix can be found at www.laurenfix.com.

 

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Green Your Vehicle Routine

(NAPSI)—For more "green" in your wallet as well as a greener environment, save money and energy with basic vehicle maintenance. Here are five ways you can do so:

1. Drive Green—Recognize that how you drive has a lot to do with fuel economy. Avoid sudden starts and stops and go the speed limit. Jerky and aggressive driving decreases your miles per gallon and increases wear and tear on your vehicle. Minimize unnecessary miles by combining errands.

2. Get a Tune-up—Regular tune-ups and maintenance and having clean air filters will help your car pollute less and burn less gas. With a proper tune-up, you can save 4 percent on the cost of gas and up to 40 percent by replacing a faulty oxygen sensor. Simply changing the car's air filter can improve efficiency by 10 percent.

3. Lighten the Load—Get the junk out of the trunk and the stuff out of your car, with the exception of emergency items such as a spare tire, flares and a first-aid kit. Extra items weigh the vehicle down and cause an increase in gas usage.

4. Tire Checks—According to the Car Care Council, around 2 billion gallons of gas a year could be saved if the tires on every American's car were properly inflated. Optimal tire pressure for your vehicle is listed in the owner's manual. Tires that are not properly inflated add rolling resistance that makes the engine work harder to move the vehicle. All this increases fuel costs as much as 3 to 5 cents per gallon and increases the risk of engine damage.

5. Gas Caps and Fill-up—Check your vehicle's gas cap. Approximately 17 percent of vehicles on the road have loose, damaged or missing gas caps, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year. Topping off your gas tank when filling up your car can also release harmful vapors into the environment.

"Vehicle owners who do their own maintenance should remember to recycle or properly dispose of fluids and other vehicle components, including used motor oil, tires and batteries," advises Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

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.

More information about environmental awareness is included in the popular digital "Car Care Guide" that can be easily accessed through the council's website at www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

Learn More

For further facts on saving energy and money with proper car care, visit www.carcare.org.

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