Tailgate Season

Preventative Steps For Cold

Prepare For Winter Driving How To Pick A Repair Facility Teen Driving Skills Child Safety Seats Functioning Wiper Blades Getting To School Safely

Get Your Vehicle Ready For Tailgate Season

(NAPSI)—For sports enthusiasts, this time of year means one thing: It's tailgating time.

Whether you're planning to tailgate at your daughter's soccer game or in the parking lot of your college alma mater or favorite professional football stadium, your car or truck is the center of the tailgating experience. So why not get it ready to tailgate in style?

Small changes like repairing scratches, brightening wheels or reviving a worn truck bed can really improve the look of a vehicle. Here are some simple project ideas that any car owner can tackle:

Repair tiny nicks, chips and scratches. Car and truck doors can be easily scratched by runaway shopping carts or other car doors. But it's never been easier to repair small dings and scratches with products like Rust-Oleum Scratch & Chip Repair Markers. The squeeze bottles have a dual-applicator tip design that can be used as a brush or marker so the paint applies easily and nicks can be repaired quickly.

Roll up to the game in style. Now you can customize your wheels without the custom price tag. For less than $30, you can make your existing wheels look brand new with Rust-Oleum High Performance Wheel spray paint. Try a color like graphite to enhance the color of your current plastic hubcaps and aluminum or steel wheels. Check out the Rust-Oleum Go 180 videos on YouTube to learn how to complete this project step by step.

Revive your truck bed. It's just not classic tailgating unless you're sitting on the back of a truck. But after years of hauling everything from lumber to your neighbor's old sofa to your tailgate barbecue grill, your truck bed's finish may be rusting, peeling or just look worn. But you can revive it and make it look brand new by applying a truck bed coating such as Rust-Oleum Professional Grade Truck Bed Liner. The rubberized coating is made with recycled tires and gives truck beds a jet-black, textured, nonskid finish that will last season after season. And one kit includes enough coating to redo an eight-foot truck bed.

Don't forget the barbecue grill. If you're like most people, you've probably put a little mileage on your tailgate barbecue grill. But don't be tempted to replace it just because its finish is worn or rusted. It's easy to give it a face-lift with one coat of Rust-Oleum BBQ & Stove paint. The tough black protective enamel renews and protects surfaces up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and will keep grills looking good tailgate after tailgate.

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Ready Your Ride For Rough Weather

(NAPSI)—By taking a few preventative maintenance steps, you can keep your car on the road to safety and savings when temperatures drop.

• Check the air pressure in your tires regularly and make sure your spare tire is also inflated properly. Contrary to the popular belief that you should reduce your tire pressure in cold weather, the fact is, tire pressure usually lowers itself in winter and raises itself in summer. All you need to do is maintain the pressure at the level recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Don't inflate your tires based on the maximum pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire—you do have to make sure you don't over inflate.

• Cold temperatures can be hard on a battery. Check the condition of the battery cable, posts and fasteners for rust and corrosion. Have your battery checked by a professional who will check for corrosion and check the electrical system.

• Try using a synthetic oil, which generally contains fewer impurities and has much more consistent molecular structure compared to a comparable quality mineral oil. These differences result in better frictional characteristics (less friction), better natural cold flow and a more consistent viscosity across a wide temperature range. The better cold flow is especially beneficial at a cold start. The engine will start easier and the oil gets to where it needs to be quicker.

Viscosity is a liquid's thickness and resistance to flow and all engine oils thicken with decreasing temperature and thin with increasing temperature. With a high-quality synthetic engine oil, such as Royal Purple, the viscosity changes less with changing temperature, so the oil stays closer to the optimal thickness for engine operation. High-quality synthetic engine oils also typically have a better pour point than nonsynthetic oils. The pour point is the lowest temperature at which the oil can be poured out of a container. Conventional oils can become so thick at low temperatures they won't pour out of the bottle. Synthetics will generally retain pourability at much lower temperatures for a given viscosity grade.

• Protect your vehicle's fluid lines from freezing. Flush and refill your cooling system with a 50/50 mixture. You should have a minimum of 20 percent antifreeze concentration in a street-driven vehicle. Royal Purple's radiator coolant additive Purple Ice contains corrosion inhibitors and lubricants that condition the seals on the water pump and can be used with Dex-Cool antifreeze.

By making sure your vehicle is ready for bad weather, there's a good chance you'll arrive safely at your destination instead of being stranded by the side of the road.

For more information, visit

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Prepare For Winter Driving Before Jack Frost Arrives

(NAPSI)—Drivers should use the changing seasons as a reminder to engage in routine tire maintenance.

If you'll be driving "in areas that typically experience harsh winters," suggests Chuck Yurkovich, vice president of global technology for Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, "consider replacing all-season tires with a product made specifically for that climate. The key is to have those discussions with a trusted dealer before the first storm hits."

The company has been a proven winter tire brand for decades, providing high-performing and extensive product lines that cover more than 90 percent of vehicles, such as the Weather-master S/T2 and the Discoverer M+S. All its winter tires include a patented snow groove technology for the higher traction of "snow on snow" versus "snow on rubber."

Even if an area does not typically receive harsh winter weather, according to Yurkovich, it's important to conduct routine tire maintenance checks as the seasons change. Cooper Tire also advises:

Drive cautiously:

• Double the distance when braking anytime conditions are not dry.

• Do not assume a four-wheel-drive vehicle will stop faster than a two-wheel-drive vehicle.

• Always reduce speed during winter conditions.

• When getting winter tires, replace all four to achieve the handling and traction benefits.

• Check the owner's manual to see how the vehicle should be serviced in cold weather.

Examine tread:

• For winter-weather driving, the more tread depth, the better. Tire tread depth should be more than 2/32 of an inch deep all around. To check tread depth, insert the edge of a penny into the tread with Lincoln going in headfirst. If the top of his head is covered by tread, there's at least a minimum acceptable amount; if the top of his head is visible, the tire is worn out and it's time to replace it.

• While examining the tread, look for signs of uneven wear or damage such as cuts, cracks, splits, punctures and bulges.

Test air pressure: Underinflation creates excessive stress on the tire, while overinflation can cause uneven wear in addition to handling and braking issues.

• Check the air pressure regularly.

• Follow the guidelines found in the vehicle's owner's manual or tire placard (or sticker). A common myth is that the tire pressure listed on the sidewall is the optimal pressure; in reality, it's the maximum pressure.

Should any of these checks reveal the need for maintenance, take your car to a tire dealer for a professional inspection. For more information on proper tire maintenance, visit

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How To Pick An Auto Repair Facility

(NAPSI)—Automotive experts recommend 10 things drivers should consider when selecting a repair shop:

1. Facility Type: When evaluating full-service auto repair shops, drivers have three basic choices:

• Dealerships—They're very familiar with the cars they sell, have factory-trained technicians and are aware of the latest technical service bulletins and special service advisories.

• Independents—Quality non-dealer repair shops may be slightly less expensive, and their customers are more likely to deal directly with the owner or technician. This makes it easier to develop relationships with the people who service the cars.

• Specialists—Some independent shops specialize in and are experts on certain vehicles or systems.

2. Appearance: A clean, well-organized repair facility reflects attention to detail and an effort to maintain a professional image.

3. Amenities: The facility should have a comfortable waiting area and clean restrooms.

4. Technicians: The facility should have qualified technicians who get ongoing training. Look for certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) or vehicle manufacturers.

5. Equipment: A good repair shop has up-to-date service equipment and Internet access to repair information—or an on-site service information library of CD/DVD ROMs.

6. Reputation: Time in business can be a good indicator of repair shop quality. Check with the Better Business Bureau and state department of consumer affairs or Attorney General's office for any consumer complaints.

7. Discounts: Quality repair shops that offer discounts on needed services are an excellent way to stretch repair dollars. Drivers who pay for repairs with a credit card may want to consider the AAA Member Rewards Visa card. Points earned can be redeemed for vouchers good towards auto repairs. More information is at

8. Warranty: Quality shops offer at least a 12-month/12,000- mile parts and labor warranty on their work.

9. An AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) sign: The nearly 8,000 AAR facilities include dealer, independent and specialty repair shops. Every AAR facility undergoes a thorough investigation, and the shops are visited quarterly, reinspected every year and monitored for customer satisfaction. AAA members receive a free maintenance inspection, written estimates, a 12/12 warranty, dispute resolution and often other discounts. Learn more at and

10. Test-Drive the Repair Shop: Visit the shop for a minor service. While you wait, evaluate the shop using the criteria above.

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What Teen Drivers Need To Know

(NAPSI)—By improving their driving skills, teen drivers can reduce their risk of spinal cord injuries.

According to the experts at Shriners Hospitals for Children®, motor vehicle crashes are the No. one cause of death for those between the ages of 16 and 24. Motor vehicle crashes are also the leading cause of spinal cord injuries in all age groups.

Being aware of the risk factors and improving driving skills may help reduce this risk—especially for young drivers. Factors that contribute to crashes include driver inexperience, distractions, speeding, peer pressure, driving with other teens in the car, and the use of alcohol and illegal drugs.

Tips for Safe Driving:

• Give driving your full attention. Driving is a privilege.

• Follow the rules of the road and obey speed limits.

• Always wear a seat belt.

• If transporting younger passengers, properly restrain children under age 12 in the back-seat, and place children in age and height- and weight-appropriate safety or booster seats.

• Avoid distractions unrelated to driving. Distractions include texting or reading, talking on the phone—including using a headset, earpiece or speakerphone—eating, fatigue, arguing, an animal that is loose in the car, disruptive passengers, alcohol or other drugs, and loud music.

• Never get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. Even a single drink, whether you can feel it or not, can affect your judgment enough to cause a crash.

• Be aware of the side effects of prescription medications before driving.

• Use your side and rearview mirrors every five to seven seconds.

• Never write, read or send text messages while driving. Thousands of fatal accidents have been linked to distractions like texting.

• Always have a safety zone or safety hole: a space to your left or right to drive into during an emergency.

For more information on safer driving, you can visit

Shriners Hospitals for Children is one of the world's largest pediatric subspecialty health care systems, helping thousands of kids every day. The health care system's spinal cord injury rehabilitation program is well recognized nationally and internationally. The hospitals change lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care. You can donate by going to

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Common Car Seat Mistakes Parents Should Avoid

(NAPSI)—Parents of young children need to be better educated in order to avoid making potentially dangerous safety mistakes when they are on the go.

The Problem

Automobile crashes remain a leading cause of death for children and it's important that parents consistently and correctly use the appropriate car seat to keep their child passengers safe. Many parents may be unknowingly endangering their children as three out of four car seats are not used correctly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Some Answers

Busy parents and caregivers may be tempted by safety shortcuts when transporting children. AAA offers simple reminders to protect parents' most precious cargo.

Shortcut: "I'm only driving a mile from home, so my son doesn't need to be secured in his car seat since it's a short trip."

Reminder: You should buckle up properly on every trip—no matter the distance—especially since most crashes occur close to home.

Shortcut: "I'm picking up several kids after soccer practice and I'm going to put my 8-year-old daughter in the front seat so all the children can fit into the car."

Reminder: All children under age 13 are safest when riding in the backseat and properly restrained in a car seat, booster seat or seat belt.

Shortcut: "We will be driving more people in our car than we have seat belts. Since it's a short trip, it's not a big deal for someone to ride on another person's lap."

Reminder: It's never safe to ride on another person's lap. Each passenger should be properly restrained on every trip.

Shortcut: "My son is 10 years old and 4'6" tall. He's big enough to use a seat belt now."

Reminder: The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends children continue to use belt-positioning booster seats until they are 4'9" and the seat belt fits properly.

Help For Parents

Fortunately, AAA experts are available to help parents with car seat installation. Visit an AAA club, go to or call (866) SEATCHECK [(866) 732-8243].

Learn More

For additional information on AAA's child passenger safety resources for parents and caregivers, visit

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Keeping Families Safe Behind The Wheel

(NAPSI)—From the hottest to coldest and wettest to driest, extreme weather takes a toll on a vehicle, including wiper blades. Rain and snowfall mean wipers should be checked for wear from use, while dry and hot weather can also damage wiper blades. Extreme heat or extended periods of nonuse can cause the blade rubber to take a set or curve in one direction, causing poor wiping performance and limited visibility through the windshield.

To prepare your car for nasty weather, inspecting wiper blades should be part of your seasonal safety check. Properly maintained wiper blades are an easy, low-cost way to ensure the clearest sight line in inclement weather and improve driving safety.

An estimated 90 percent of a motorist's driving decisions are based on how well he or she sees the road, yet many drivers overlook replacing worn wiper blades. Studies show that driver vision is a factor in more than 40 percent of all vehicle crashes.

"I can't imagine anything being more important than the ability of the driver to see clearly through the windshield," says Alexia Hayes, a wiper blade technical engineer and mother of two young children. Hayes suggests checking blades periodically and replacing them about every six months.

"Wiper blades are one of the most overlooked pieces of safety equipment," says Hayes. "But you won't find a faster or lower-cost way to make yourself and your family safer than by changing them."

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.

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


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Getting To School Safely Whatever The Weather

(NAPSI)—If you're looking for the safest way to get your children to school, consider the fact that the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Transportation agree that school buses are the safest way to transport students to and from school.

There are several reasons why school buses offer a safer form of transportation. First, traffic laws have been established to reduce school bus crashes. With few exceptions, drivers approaching or following a school bus must stop when the bus is stopped, the stop-arm is extended and its red lights are flashing. Vehicles must wait until the bus is again moving and the red lights are off before they may proceed. Secondly, school buses are manufactured with more safety equipment than any other vehicle on the road.

School buses have reinforced sides, flashing red lights, cross-view mirrors, a crossbar and stop-arms, all of which ensure that children are protected and secure on and off the bus.

The industry operates by following safety, security, health and driver qualification guidelines that meet, and in some cases exceed, federal and state laws.

These drivers submit to pre-employment background checks and frequent driving record checks; in addition, periodic medical exams and tests are required to maintain their CDL with a School Bus Endorsement.

Parents entrust their elementary and preteen children to school buses every day, but kids of all ages should take the bus for the same reason: safety. According to the Department of Transportation, school-age children are about 50 times more likely to die traveling to school when they drive or ride with friends than if they take the bus.

A startling statistic, but here is another: Recent research by Allstate Foundation found that 46 percent of teens admit to texting while driving and 50 percent said that they drive more safely without their friends in the car. Crash statistics show that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teenagers in the car. It's clear that a teen driving to school or riding with friends is at greater risk than one who rides the school bus.

When it comes to kids, the most important issue is safety. With some school districts short on funds and cutting bus routes, more students could be at risk. Every day, school buses safely transport 25 million students to school. That's more than half of America's schoolchildren. When it comes to your children's safety, don't compromise. Trust the school bus; it makes the grade.

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