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Maximize Value Protect Your Engine Preventive Maintenance Winter Driving Greener Autos Car Care Don't Text And Drive Recharge Batteries

Auto Repair Advice: Learn To Speak "Auto Tech"

(NAPSI)-You may be better able to stay on the road to safety and savings the next time you need to have your car repaired if you select a quality facility and learn to speak a little "auto tech."

When communicating with an automotive technician, AAA recommends motorists do the following:

• Before taking the vehicle to a repair facility, write down the symptoms and any performance issues so important information is not overlooked or forgotten.

  • Describe the symptoms to the technician. Explain what has been seen, smelled, heard and felt while driving the vehicle. For example, does it vibrate or pull to the left? Explain under what type of driving conditions the problem takes place and how long ago it started.
  • When describing symptoms, refer to the driver side and passenger side of the vehicle rather than the right or left side.
  • If the vehicle has been serviced recently, bring copies of the previous repair orders rather than trying to explain what work was done.
  • Ask questions if the technician uses jargon you don't understand or if something is not thoroughly explained. Quality technicians will take the time to clearly explain the problem before offering a repair solution.
  • Always read the repair order before signing it and authorizing any work. Look for specific instructions detailing the maintenance to be done, the problem to be corrected and the work to be performed. If the language is vague or unclear, ask that it be rewritten.

To help motorists get good repairs, AAA, the country's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, has more than 8,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America.

These shops must meet and maintain stringent quality standards for customer service, training, equipment and cleanliness. To find an approved repair facility near you, visit AAA.com/repair.

For a wealth of helpful information about cars, driving, auto repair, safety tips and much more, visit AAA.com.

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Seven Tips To Make Sure Your Car Is Ready For Harsh Weather

(NAPSI)-Winterizing your car can help prevent the problems caused by freezing temperatures and difficult driving conditions.

"For most of the country, winter is the harshest time of year for vehicles," says Jim MacPherson, car care expert and automotive radio host for WTIC in Connecticut. "Simple preparation can go a long way toward making your car safer during the winter months. Following a winterization checklist before the cold settles in will save you headaches and money."

Here's a quick list to be sure to check twice if you want to give your vehicle the best chances of a smooth, safe ride through winter.

  • Check the battery. At 32 degrees Fahrenheit, batteries lose a significant amount of power, and continue to get weaker as the temperature drops. Keep the surfaces of the battery clean and make sure all the connections are tight. If your car is a few years old, you may want to have a technician check the charging system to ensure it is ready for the cold.
  • Check the oil. Synthetic oils are specifically designed to protect your engine in all operating temperatures. For faster engine start-ups during cold weather, use a synthetic such as Mobil 1 5W-30, which flows significantly faster than conventional 5W-30 oils at 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Mobil 1 has the ability to provide protection and performance in demanding conditions even at temperatures as low as negative 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Check the antifreeze. The level and freshness of your vehicle's antifreeze are crucial during the winter, protecting the engine from freezing as well as from rust and corrosion damage. Make sure the engine and coolant system are cool before you begin checking; opening a hot radiator is dangerous. If the antifreeze is low, add a 50/50 mix of approved antifreeze and distilled water.
  • Check the tires. As the weather cools, air in your tires will contract. Make sure your tires are inflated properly. Too little pressure can increase wear and fuel consumption; too much pressure can reduce traction, especially in icy conditions. To maintain proper tire pressure, fill them up to their recommended PSI rating, which can be found on the driver's side doorjamb, inside the door that covers the gas cap, on the inside of the glove box door or in the owner's manual. Also, make sure you have plenty of tread left and replace any tires that look worn.
  • Check rubber belts and hoses. In low temperatures, rubber tends to stiffen and is prone to breaking and cracking. Check the tension on the vehicle's belts and make sure they aren't dry-rotted or too tight. Next, feel all the hoses once the engine has completely cooled and make sure they aren't soft and spongy, too rigid or leaking.
  • Check the wiper blades and heater settings. Most windshield wiper blades are only good for a year. Check and clean the wiper blades. If the wipers are worn and smudge the windshield, they need to be replaced; frost or freezing rain mixed with worn wipers hinders your visibility and is extremely dangerous. Also, be sure to test out the heater and defroster. Make sure all settings are working properly before the harsh winter weather strikes.
  • Stock the car with "winter" items. Be smart and prepare ahead of time for unexpected problems. Be sure the following items are stocked in your trunk, especially if you live in an area that frequently weathers winter storms: ice scraper to clear the windows, headlights and taillights; battery jumper cables; first-aid kit; small shovel; blankets; gloves; and a bag of salt or sand to add weight and improve traction.

"In addition to following these winter survival tips, you should always drive gently while your vehicle is warming up, and be sure to drive more slowly when there's snow or ice on the ground," says MacPherson. "Being cautious and doing simple maintenance will keep yourself and your vehicle stress-free."

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Preventive Maintenance Is Key To Saving Down The Road

by Matthew Marquez

(NAPSI)-Your vehicle is one of the biggest investments you'll make, so protecting it by keeping up with its maintenance needs is important. While everyone is looking for ways to cut costs, denying your vehicle regular maintenance could end up costing you more money down the road from unexpected repairs.

Regular oil changes can help ensure that your vehicle runs properly and stays on the road longer. However, it's important to understand and consider the conditions in which you operate your vehicle. According to a Harris Interactive poll, 92 percent of drivers operate under "severe" conditions.

Cars operated under severe conditions, including inclement weather, need maintenance more frequently--sometimes twice as often. It's important to check your owner's manual for service recommendations based on the conditions you drive under.

Affordable Maintenance

Some drivers may be inclined to perform vehicle maintenance themselves to save money and time; however, quick lubes can offer a solution for your vehicle's needs when you may not have the time or expertise to do it yourself. Quick lubes offer the speed and convenience that dealerships often lack and can provide value beyond a simple oil change. Jiffy Lube, for example, offers its Jiffy Lube Signature Service® Oil Change that includes more than a dozen services such as a tire pressure check and fluid top-offs, among others. Most drivers also don't realize that they don't need to visit their dealership to maintain their warranty.

Quick Tips

Keeping your vehicle on a sound preventive maintenance program is a good way to prevent potentially costly repairs--keeping money in your pocket. Here are some key things to have checked regularly:

  • Engine air filter--The air filter is like the vehicle's lungs, and a clean filter will maximize the engine's performance. Refer to your owner's manual to see when it should be swapped out.
  • Engine oil and filter--Engine oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle, helping it run smoothly. Check the oil level regularly and check your owner's manual to learn when to change the oil and which grade to use. Using the proper grade can increase fuel economy, while regular oil changes can increase your vehicle's longevity.
  • Tire pressure--Tires, like your shoes, are where the rubber meets the road. Under- or overinflation can weaken your tires, reduce traction and impact gas mileage, among other things. You can find the proper tire pressure in the vehicle owner's manual or on a decal in the doorjamb or glove compartment.
  • Tire rotation--Rotating tires as recommended by the manufacturer will help tires wear more evenly, helping extend their life.

For more information, visit www.jiffylube.com.

  • Mr. Marquez is Vice President of Operations at Bay State Ventures, a Jiffy Lube franchise.

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Editor's Note: This article was funded and reviewed by Jiffy Lube International.

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Traction Crucial For Winter Driving

(NAPSI)-Keeping your car safely on the road when the weather gets chilly could depend on four things: your tires.

It's a good idea to replace the all-season tires you may have with winter-season tires before the mercury drops below 45 degrees. All-season tires are not really designed for severe cold weather. Snow and ice can collect in treads, and tires lose their flexibility in temperatures below 45° F. All this affects traction.

Fortunately, today's winter-season tires are much more technologically advanced and safer than "snow" tires of the past. They are engineered with chemical compounds made to maintain their flexibility, which keeps more rubber connected to the road. Winter tires also have special tread designs that "bite" into the road to deliver 25 to 50 percent more traction than all-season tires.

The more traction and control you have, the better you're able to brake without skidding. The braking distance of a winter tire can be as much as 10 percent shorter--about two car lengths--than that of all-season tires.

The experts at the largest independent tire and wheel retailer in the U.S., Discount Tire Company, say it's best not to mix winter and all-season tires, especially on wet or icy roads. Different tires can create a traction mismatch and difficult handling. Rather, they recommend you install four winter-season tires for optimum safety and handling.

As with all tires, winter tires perform best when properly inflated. The level should be listed in your owner's manual. A 10-degree drop in temperature causes tires to lose a pound of air pressure, so in addition to once-monthly checks, test your air pressure after frosts. Check the tires prior to driving for accurate readings.

Tire Tips

More steps you can take to drive down your risk of tire trouble include:

  • Make sure your tires are properly balanced and rotated. This should be done every 5,000 to 8,000 miles or as recommended by the tire manufacturer.
  • Make sure the wheels are properly aligned.
  • Tires should have a minimum tread depth of 1/16 of an inch. Put a penny in the tread upside down. If you can see Lincoln's head, it's time for new tires.
  • Drive at the speed limit. High speeds cause higher tire temperature and extra tire wear.
  • When possible, start and stop your vehicle slowly and decelerate around corners.

Learn More

More tips and facts are at www.tires.com.

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Driving Toward Greener Autos

(NAPSI)-If you're like most Americans, you have a number of objectives when thinking about a new car-safety and fuel economy are probably at the top of the list, not to mention price. There is, however, a new concern growing in importance: the environmental "footprint" of the vehicle. In response, carmakers are learning that by making vehicles lighter--without making them smaller--they can deliver on all of these fronts.

Enter aluminum. Automotive aluminum is lightweight to help increase gas mileage. In fact, a 5 to 7 percent fuel savings can be realized for every 10 percent weight reduction by substituting aluminum for heavier steel.

To curb greenhouse gas emissions, each pound of aluminum replacing two pounds of iron or steel in a car or truck can save 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions over the typical life of a vehicle.

For example, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid provides both improved fuel economy and strength compared to the conventional version of this vehicle. Its efficiency is highlighted compared to the conventional version of this vehicle by aerodynamic enhancements and significant use of aluminum. The vehicle weighs 400 pounds less than the standard model and consumes roughly 30 percent less gasoline on average than its conventional version.

Automotive aluminum is also highly recyclable, which significantly saves on the emissions associated with primary aluminum production. Nearly 90 percent of automotive aluminum is recovered and recycled and never needs to be taken to the landfill.

Automotive aluminum helps create a vehicle that is both big and safe. Studies confirm that size, not weight, is more important for automotive safety; meaning automotive aluminum can make the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid safer by making it larger, while still boosting gas mileage.

Learn more

To learn more about auto aluminum and sustainability, visit The Aluminum Association's Aluminum Transportation Group at www.autoaluminum.org.

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Skimping On Car Care Can Get Expensive

(NAPSI)-Many Americans are finding that not buying a new car makes proper maintenance of their existing car even more important. In fact, according to R.L. Polk & Co., Americans today are keeping their cars for nearly 10 years--an all-time high.

Putting off regular maintenance could lead to engine failure, resulting in thousands of dollars spent on engine parts and labor. Here are several myths about engine maintenance that could actually threaten the life of your car's engine:

Myth 1: I'm not hard on my car, so I can change my oil less frequently. Frequent oil changes are suggested for all cars driven under "severe" conditions, which include stop-and-go traffic, driving at highway speeds in hot temperatures and driving in very hot or cold climates.

According to a recent study by the state of California, 80 percent of U.S. drivers fit the definition of a "severe" driver, though many don't realize it. Auto manufacturers' oil change interval recommendations are dramatically shorter for severe driving conditions, with the majority recommending 3,750 miles or less. To protect the investment you have in your car, be sure to change your oil every 3,000-4,000 miles.

Said Sam Mitchell, president, Ashland Consumer Markets, the makers of Valvoline, "Keeping up on Preventive auto maintenance is key to increasing the longevity of your vehicle and making it last for the long haul."

Myth 2: Motor oil quality doesn't matter; it's all the same. Many drivers don't realize that bargain motor oils may not be formulated well. According to industry studies, poorly formulated motor oil can lead to wear, excessive oil consumption, power loss and deposit formation in your engine. Using a premium motor oil can help protect your engine from premature aging and is encouraged.

Myth 3: My car is new, so I don't need to worry about maintenance services. Regular maintenance, starting when your car is new, will keep it running longer and save you money in the long run. Keeping up on car care services, such as air filters, oil changes and transmission checkups, helps you avoid major expenses in the future.

Another way to make your vehicle last is to enroll in the Valvoline Limited Engine Guarantee. Drivers with fewer than 75,000 miles on their odometers can visit any Valvoline Instant Oil Change Center and get their engine guaranteed by Valvoline for up to 300,000 miles, as long as the oil is changed regularly.

For more information or to enroll in the Valvoline Limited Engine Guarantee, please visit www.engineguarantee.com or www.vioc.com.

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Many Support Banning Cell Phone Use By Drivers

(NAPSI)-A growing number of Americans believe that using a cell phone while driving can be a dangerous mix.

A recent survey by Nationwide Insurance revealed that 45 percent of drivers say they have been hit or nearly hit by another driver using a cell phone. The danger is also evident in the number of news stories about a deadly crash caused by someone texting behind the wheel.

The government reported that 515,000 people were injured and 5,870 were killed in 2008 in crashes where at least one form of driver distraction was reported. Driver distraction was involved in 16 percent of all fatal crashes in 2008 and was prevalent among young drivers.

The fact is, Americans are getting fed up with people driving while distracted (DWD). Another survey, also by Nationwide Insurance, found that 80 percent of Americans favor a ban on texting while driving, and more than half say they would support a ban on cell phone use while driving altogether.

"In recent months, the debate about the dangers of DWD has intensified as more and more states consider taking legislative action," said Bill Windsor, Nationwide's Safety Officer. "The survey results confirm that there is strong public support for banning texting while driving."

About two-thirds of respondents to a recent poll said they feel pressure to answer calls when on the road. Instead of waiting for the federal and state governments to make these behaviors illegal, Nationwide is working toward technological solutions that address the peer pressure that drivers get from friends and family to stay connected.

These solutions involve software installed on a phone or BlackBerry that recognize when you're driving and block incoming calls and texts, using an autoreply message to let your friends know you're driving. Nationwide even plans to offer insurance discounts to drivers who use these devices once they become available.

"Teens have this two-minute rule: Somebody sends a text message, and if you don't get back within two minutes, the other person feels you're mad at them, or something's wrong," Windsor said. "We think this technology will fill that gap."

Fewer distracted-while-driving-related crashes could also result in lower insurance costs for consumers.

"By working closely with legislators, public safety officials and other key stakeholders, we can arrive at real-world solutions to this problem and help make the roads a safer place," said Windsor.

To learn more, visit the Web site at www.nationwide.com/dwd.

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Charging Ahead In Tough Times

(NAPSI)-A surprising consequence of an uncertain economy is that Americans are now at an increased risk for being stranded with battery failure. That's because more motorists are keeping older vehicles longer, buying used cars and not getting regular preventive maintenance.

Battery-related service calls are the second most common problem for motorists during peak travel periods, according to one of the nation's largest motor clubs.

The Problem

While motorists recognize that automobile batteries are affected by cold temperatures and winter weather, few are aware that prolonged exposure to heat also accelerates the rate of corrosion and contributes to battery failure. Auto service experts place the life expectancy of a typical automotive battery at three to five years in average climates, but only two to three years in areas with high heat or extreme cold.

The Reasons

"There are many factors that can cause a battery to fail," says Alexia Hayes, a product development engineer and mother of two young children. "Motorists who take many short trips on a daily basis, those who frequently forget to turn off their lights or make commutes of less than 20 minutes are also at risk. The combination of performing many starting cycles, coupled with short run times, will leave a battery below the ideal charge specification for most of its shortened life."

Hayes notes that parents with young children, new drivers and seniors often experience these driving patterns and are therefore especially vulnerable.

The Solution

Hayes advises, "A good set of jumper cables with the latest technology will take the fear and guesswork out of dead battery concerns and make jump starts easy and safe.

"Ordinary jumper cables can cause sparking or shorting if they're not properly attached, which can result in serious injury to the user," she adds, "and traditional jumper cables can produce a power surge that severely damages a vehicle's expensive computers and electronics."

Fortunately, there's innovative patented technology now available in new Smart Jumper Cables from Michelin, which offer built-in surge protection and automatic polarity adjustment. You can connect either clamp to either positive or negative connections. There's no guesswork, sparking or shorting.

Other Michelin safety features include LED indicator lights that confirm the proper connections are made, textured grips, and heavy-duty, eight-gauge cable with insulated clamps for flexible, tangle-free, cold-weather-resistant operation.

Learn More

For more information, visit www.michelinsmartcables.com.

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