AUTOMOTIVE:

Save On Car Insurance Defensive Driving Efficient Fuel Frequent Maintenance Car Shoppers Online Two-Seaters Valuable Car Care Hands-Free Headsets

Three Easy Ways To Save On Your Car Insurance

(NAPSI)-While looking for ways to save money, many Americans may overlook their car insurance premiums.

That could be a costly mistake. Taking a few minutes to review and adjust your auto insurance policy could save you hundreds of dollars per year.

Saving on your car insurance is easier than you might imagine. Here are three ways to reduce your costs, as well as an estimate of potential savings based on the national median rate of about $1,400 per year reported by InsuranceRates.com. If you pay more than the median rate, you could save even more.

     1) Take a hard look at your deductible. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), raising your deductible from $250 to $1,000 could reduce your collision and comprehensive coverage costs by up to 40 percent. You'll incur higher costs should you need to file a claim, but the amount you'll save on your premiums may be well worth it.

     Estimated Savings: $170 per year

     2) Combine your auto insurance policy and either home or renters insurance policy with a single insurer. According to the III, converting to a multiline policy could save you as much as 15 percent on your auto premium. Plus, you'll have one fewer bill to pay each month.

     Estimated Savings: $210 per year

     3) If you can afford to, pay your auto insurance premium in one lump sum. Many insurers charge a fee to break up your premium into monthly payments, and even a few dollars a month could amount to a hefty surcharge.

     Estimated Savings: $60 per year

In addition, make sure you shop around and speak with agents from several different companies. Insurance providers often specialize in different types of drivers, and depending on your personal circumstances, it's probably worth your while to compare quotes.

To learn more ways to save and to compare rates online, visit www.InsuranceRates.com.

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Tips To Avoid Being Driven To Distraction

(NAPSI)-Texting while driving has received a great deal of attention lately, and with good reason: Keeping your eyes on a tiny keyboard rather than the roadway ahead is a disaster waiting to happen. However, texting is just the latest in a long list of distractions that could have deadly consequences on America's roadways.

"Safe driving is about focus," said Bill Moore, president of MetLife Auto & Home®. "Many accidents could be avoided if the basic principles of defensive driving and driver attentiveness were observed."

To stay focused on safety, drivers may want to ask themselves the following questions:

  • Are you keeping your eyes on the prize? With cars more than ever resembling mobile offices and entertainment centers, it can be easy to forget you're behind the wheel. Most accidents occur in seconds and distractions delay your reaction time.
  • Are you awake enough to drive? Driver fatigue leads to inattentiveness, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 100,000 crashes are caused each year by drivers literally being asleep at the wheel. Recognize the signs of drowsy driving, which include difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, irritability and frequent yawning--and then, take action.
  • Are you more interested in your cell phone conversation than the road ahead? Even in states where it's permissible, talking on a cell phone increases the likelihood of getting involved in a motor vehicle accident. If you need to call, pull off the road.
  • Do you have a designated deejay? Simple things like changing the radio dial or finding that "perfect song" on your MP3 player may seem harmless, but they can be a big distraction.
  • Are you being lazy about changing lanes? It's critical to look briefly over both shoulders before changing lanes. Even if you have onboard technology installed in the car, such as blind-spot and rearview indicators, the basics you learned in driver's education will always apply: signal your intention, check your mirrors and then glance back both ways to be certain that no one--or nothing--is in your blind spot.
  • Are you day driving or daydreaming? Even without external distractions, it's easy to get caught up thinking about personal problems or work assignments. If you feel yourself losing focus, give yourself a wake-up call and set aside your problems. They can wait until the ride is over.

For the free brochures "Driving While Distracted: Be a Safer Driver" and "In the Driver's Seat: About Driving Safely," call (800) 608-0190.

For more information, visit www.metlife.com.

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Fuel Additives Help Keep Engines Healthy

(NAPSI)-In a down economy, we've all been trying to be a little more cost conscious, but your vehicle's upkeep is no place to pinch pennies. Most drivers know about basic car care. Change your oil and filter. Check tire pressure. Maintain proper antifreeze levels and change your antifreeze on time to protect your cooling system. Have you thought about using a fuel additive to help improve overall engine performance, leading to reduced emissions, unburned wasted fuel and a smoother idle?

Fuel additives can improve fuel quality (the octane level) and/or help keep injectors and combustion chambers clean. Without the use of fuel additives, unsightly deposits may start to build up in the engine. Using fuel additives can help improve and maintain the efficiency and performance of your car's heart-the engine.

If your car's injectors are clogged, the buildup of these deposits can deprive an engine of its power, fuel efficiency and overall drivability. Drivers might notice these deposits forming when their vehicle starts to experience hesitation, rough idling and increased starting difficulty. Adding a specially formulated fuel additive can help resolve these problems and won't end up costing drivers that much.

"Using a fuel additive is simple enough that you don't have to be a car junkie to do it yourself," said Jay Buckley, Prestone training manager and ASE-certified master mechanic. "Plus, adding a fuel additive on a regular basis for preventative maintenance is worth the investment."

Here are Buckley's tips on choosing and using the right fuel additives:

  1. When using an additive on a regular basis during fill-ups, choose a low-concentration product, such as Prestone® Gas Treatment.
  2. If you are interested in a one-time treatment every few months, consider a highly concentrated product such as Prestone® Complete Fuel System Cleaner.
  3. Some fuel additives are designed to increase engine performance. Typically, these products include the word "octane" in the name, as they're formulated to raise the octane level of gasoline.
  4. Always pour the entire bottle into your gas tank and be sure you have a full tank of gas.

"Our lab engineers actually created a new line of 6-oz. fuel additives. They deliver premium performance in a smaller, more environmentally responsible and convenient package," said Buckley.

While regular use of a fuel additive can help a vehicle run smoothly and efficiently, it should not serve as a substitute for regular vehicle maintenance. The regular use of fuel additives will help keep your combustion chambers and fuel injectors clean, allowing your engine to run at its best. Follow the guidelines in your vehicle's owner's manual for the proper maintenance schedule. For more car care tips, visit www.prestone.com.

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The Way You Drive May Call For More Frequent Maintenance

(NAPSI)-The way you maintain your car should take into account the conditions in which you drive. That's the word from AAA, which says too many drivers underestimate the severity of their driving habits. As a result, they follow the wrong maintenance schedule.

When polled recently by AAA, only 6 percent of motorists felt they did most of their driving under severe driving conditions. But when asked about the actual driving behaviors that create severe operating conditions, 62 percent of motorists admitted they drive their vehicle that way all or most of the time.

Some of the conditions and behaviors that are considered severe include:

  • Driving on short trips of less than five miles in normal temperatures or less than 10 miles in freezing temperatures.
  • Driving in hot-weather stop-and-go traffic.
  • Driving at low speeds of less than 50 miles per hour for long distances.
  • Driving on roads that are dusty or muddy or have salt, sand or gravel spread on the surface.
  • Towing a trailer, carrying a camper (if a pickup truck) or transporting items on a roof rack or in a cartop carrier.

"Manufacturers provide different maintenance recommendations for severe driving conditions because such operation increases wear on vehicle components and fluids," said John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair and Auto Buying Services. Maintenance schedules for severe driving conditions typically recommend changing the vehicle's fluids and filters more often, and include more frequent inspections of certain components.

AAA advises motorists to:

  • Read their owner's manual and/or maintenance booklet.
  • Learn what the manufacturer considers normal and severe driving conditions for their vehicles.
  • Make an honest assessment of their driving habits.
  • Schedule service in accordance with the appropriate maintenance schedule.

For additional assistance in evaluating driving conditions and determining proper maintenance intervals, motorists can visit any of the more than 8,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. These shops have undergone an extensive inspection and meet stringent standards for quality, ability, integrity and professionalism.

Since its founding in 1902, the AAA has been an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. To learn more or locate a nearby Approved Auto Repair facility, visit AAA.com/repair.

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Car-Buying Tips And Tools

(NAPSI)-If you're in the market for a car--new or used--you have more information at hand than at any other time in the history of car buying, in large part due to the Internet and the competitive nature of today's automotive market.

Automakers' Web sites are a great place to begin your quest for information. Most manufacturers have an online tool to virtually "build" your vehicle, choosing the trim levels, options and accessories that are most important to you. Is a sunroof important? Check. Leather seats? Check. All-wheel drive? Check. The automakers' Web site will also steer you to a dealer near you, so you can check out locally available inventory.

Since safety is such an important consideration when buying a car, be sure to check out the vehicle's crashworthiness ratings at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Search the Web site (www.iihs.org) for vehicles that have been named a "Top Safety Pick" by the institute, which means that the vehicle has earned the top rating in each of four crash tests. Subaru (www.subaru.com), for example, is the rare manufacturer with at least one Top Safety Pick in every vehicle class in which it competes.

If you are considering a used vehicle, arm yourself with pricing knowledge before you begin shopping for your dream car by checking out Kelley Blue Book online at www.kbb.com. The site gives typical pricing for each trim level of a used vehicle, allows you to customize by adding options and accessories, and adjusts vehicle valuations based on the condition of the used car.

One way to avoid the uncertainty that often comes with buying a used vehicle is to take advantage of a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle program. CPO vehicles are given a thorough inspection, often with well over 100 points inspected, and generally come with an extended warranty, including power train coverage. Some manufacturers, such as Subaru of America, enhance their CPO programs with additional features, including a CARFAX® Vehicle History Report and 24/7 roadside assistance.

Visit www.subaru.com to learn more.

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Two-Seater Takes You On The Road To Romance

(NAPSI)-Instead of spending another night at home on the couch with your loved one, you may want to cozy up to the idea of a special road trip.

A two-seater is just the car for such a romantic getaway. Two-seater cars are fun and sporty and let you get cozy with that special someone.

With only two seats, there really isn't room in these cars for kids or dogs, so you know you'll get some alone time.

The beauty, engineering and speed of these vehicles can set your heart racing down the road to romance.

The popular automotive site, AutoTrader.com, offers insight into the 10 most popular new two-seater vehicles searched for over the past year.

Even if you're just renting a car for the night, this list of popular two-seater cars can provide a great reference to determine your best option.

The top 10 most viewed two-seater cars were:

  1. Chevrolet Corvette
  2. Nissan 350Z or 370Z
  3. Audi R8
  4. Mercedes-Benz SL65
  5. Mazda Miata MX-5
  6. Pontiac Solstice
  7. Porsche Cayman
  8. Mercedes-Benz SLR
  9. Lamborghini Murcielago
  10. Dodge Viper

Visit www.AutoTrader.com to learn more about these two-seater models.

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Price Versus Value-When Premium Auto

Products Are Worth The Extra Cost

(NAPSI)-To keep your car on the road to safety and savings, it's a good idea to pay attention to what goes into and onto the vehicle. Sometimes it pays to upgrade to a premium automotive product. As the experts at the Car Care Council put it, "Small steps that motorists take today can go a long way toward improving the safety and reliability of their vehicles."

Here are a few tips on common automotive product categories to help you make informed decisions.

Gasoline--Engines are designed to use a particular grade/octane of gasoline. There's no substantial benefit to using an octane higher than recommended by the manufacturer. The bottom line is that if you use higher octane against manufacturer's recommendations, you could be paying up to 40 cents more a gallon, which could add up to over $300 a year in extra expenses with no added benefits.

Wiper blades--There is a noticeable performance difference in low-cost wiper blades versus those specifically designed for rough weather conditions. Premium wiper blades are significantly sturdier and more durable than low-priced blades. The bottom line is that the upgrade will cost you less in the long run if you live in a more extreme (rainy or snowy) climate.

Motor oil--There have been substantial improvements in lubrication technology over the past few years. The longer oil life of high-performance synthetic motor oil allows for extended oil drains, which saves time and money and reduces the effect on the environment. The bottom line is that some high-performance synthetic oils such as Royal Purple have been reported to improve mileage by as much as 3 percent, which adds up over the course of a year.

Oil filters--Inexpensive filters are typically made with the 3,000-mile interval in mind because they use low-quality paper media that deteriorate rapidly at 3,000 miles. The new generation of high-performance premium oil filters allows for extended oil drain intervals. For example, Royal Purple uses a proprietary long-life, microglass media that provides protection for 12,000 miles. It also provides an increased level of protection due to the density of the filtration. The bottom line is that the more expensive filter pays off if you plan to extend oil drain intervals or live in extremely dusty or cold-weather climates.

You can find more car-care tips and products at www.royalpurple.com.

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State Laws Prohibiting Drivers' Use Of Handsets

Have Motorists Switching To Safer Hands-Free Option

(NAPSI)-As state legislatures continue to enact new regulations prohibiting drivers from using handheld phones, hands-free devices are becoming a necessity for many motorists.

These new regulations are a direct response to research showing cell phone use can be blamed for a significant amount of accidents each year. Harvard researchers estimate that drivers using cell phones cause 570,000 accidents annually, with more than 2,500 resulting in a fatality--a figure that drops considerably with the use of hands-free devices.

Six states--Oregon, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington--now prohibit cell phone use while driving without a hands-free device. With the exception of Washington state, these laws are primary enforcement, meaning an officer may ticket a driver for using a handheld cell phone while driving without any other traffic offense.

Safe Hands-Free Options

Assorted new products are now available for safety-conscious and law-abiding drivers. One nationwide cellular phone and service provider, Consumer Cellular, offers a variety of wireless headsets and accessories ranging in price from $15 to $80.

Wireless accessory products include the LG Electronics HBM-760 headset and the Motorola Ear--bud Headset, both available from Consumer Cellular.

"Consumer Cellular is dedicated to providing solutions for our customers as their needs evolve," says John Marick, president and CEO. "With new laws and regulations in place and the safety of our customers being a top priority, it's important we offer accessories that meet our customers' needs, which include hands-free options. We want to help make the driving experience as safe and easy as possible."

Consumer Cellular has long supported providing affordable, simple wireless solutions to motorists and is now focusing even more on safety through its partnership with AAA. AAA members receive discounts on accessories, including a free earbud with a phone purchase and free calls to AAA emergency roadside service.

The company is also the exclusive wireless provider for AARP, offering members a discount on monthly fees and select accessories. Additionally, AARP members receive a 45-day guarantee period.

Consumer Cellular does not have long-term contracts or early-termination fees. Affordable rates for nationwide service start at only $10 a month and are ideal for individuals who want the safety and convenience of cellular service without paying high rates for unused features. Additionally, a 30-day, risk-free satisfaction guarantee is available to all new customers.

For more information on hands-free driving regulations, visit www.drivinglaws.org.

Learn More

You can learn more online at www.consumercellular.com.

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