(BPT) - The open road lies in front of millions of drivers who are ready to lower the windows and feel the warm breeze. Nothing curbs the excitement of a spring drive more than car issues that could have been avoided by simple maintenance to combat the lasting effects of driving through winter.
Many people consider spring the perfect time to clean their homes, but it is also important not to forget the vehicle. The average vehicle stays on the road nearly 11 years, according to a study by Polk Research. This trend of consumers holding onto their vehicles longer than usual continues to grow.
To help protect what is typically the second largest investment for any consumer – your vehicle – here are simple tips to make sure you are ready for a successful spring travel season.
* Seasons change ... so does tire pressure: As temperatures change, so can tire pressure. Proper tire inflation is essential for increased automotive safety, optimum driving performance and significant cost savings, including better fuel mileage. Tires should be inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations printed on the vehicle door placard or in the glove box, and should be checked at least monthly. Over-inflation can lead to premature or irregular tire wear and under-inflation reduces a vehicle’s fuel efficiency by an average of 3.3 percent, according to fueleconomy.gov.
* Keep hydrated: Many fluids require attention, including the engine oil, transmission fluid and power steering fluid. Spring is the perfect time to make sure they are all clean and at the proper levels. Additionally, to help ensure maximum engine life, change the oil and oil filter every 3,000 miles, or as directed by your owner’s manual.
* Breathe free: Replacing a dirty air filter can increase a vehicle's life expectancy and fuel efficiency by reducing the strain on the engine, especially during warmer months. Over the winter months, salt, sand and other impurities may build up in a vehicle’s air filtration system, and replacing this air filter can improve acceleration time by around 6 to 11 percent, according to fueleconomy.gov.
* April showers bring May flowers, and wet roads: Many times, consumers postpone tire purchases, but after enduring a harsh winter and looking ahead to the wet spring weather, it is not the time to have low tread on your tires. The lower the tread depth, the less traction you will have on wet roads, and the greater the distance you will need to stop. For drivers in need of “new shoes” for their vehicle, every tire in the Goodyear Assurance family offers confident all-season traction plus a relevant benefit that enhances the driving experience – ultra traction, refined handling and comfort, and fuel efficiency.
For more helpful car care advice or information on tires for cars, light trucks, SUVs and more, visit your local Goodyear retailer or go online to www.goodyear.com.
(BPT) - Bundling insurance products with one company – and scoring cheaper premiums as a reward – isn’t a new concept. But, according to a recent study by J.D. Power and Associates, not only is bundling still popular among consumers, it also results in higher customer satisfaction.
The study found that nearly 60 percent of customers bundle auto and homeowners policies with the same insurer. When customers need additional products – such as motorcycle, boat and life insurance – 77 percent of them choose to bundle. The study notes that insurance bundlers also tend to be more satisfied with their insurers overall, not just with the premium discounts they’re getting.
Charles Valinotti, Head of Underwriting & Product with insurer QBE, says bundling insurance policies offers other benefits besides lower premiums.
“Customer convenience is one advantage,” says Valinotti. “It’s easier to manage insurance policies when you don’t have to work with multiple insurers. And if you have a claim, you just need to call one company.”
Bundling might also give you an edge when you file a claim. Valinotti says insurance companies are interested in keeping your business and will be open to renewing policies when there’s a loss – unless it’s something extreme.
How can you get the biggest bang out of your insurance bundle? Valinotti suggests:
* Take a look at all your insurance policies. If they’re not with the same insurance company, you could be losing as much as 25 percent in bundling discounts on each car, as well as on your homeowners policy. Think about including your life insurance, as well, which could result in another 2 to 5 percent in savings.
* Consider adding an umbrella policy. If you own your home, an umbrella policy gives you extra liability protection on your home and car, and might earn you even more discounts to your homeowners and auto insurance.
* Research options for renters. If you don’t own your home, bundling may still be an option. Look into bundling a renters policy with your car insurance, which might result in as much as a 20 percent discount on your auto coverage. Because renters insurance is inexpensive, it may almost pay for itself by savings through bundling.
* Investigate bundling with business policies. If you have a business, find out whether bundling your business policies will qualify you for discounts on your personal insurance.
Valinotti cautions that some auto or home insurance bundling discounts might not be available to people with poor driving records. He also advises not to base decisions on price alone. “Customer service is just as important to consider,” he says.
Valinotti adds, “Make sure you speak with your agent about all available bundling options and choose those you’re most comfortable with.”
While most Americans know that drastically improving automobile fuel efficiency will reduce gasoline consumption and tailpipe emissions, it may be less clear how today’s cars and trucks are evolving to make that happen.
The U.S. government recently announced stringent new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards: the nation’s cars and light trucks must average a whopping 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The standards not only will help reduce auto emissions, but they also could save some serious cash at the pump.
So how will automakers meet these goals? Through more aerodynamic design, improved engine efficiency – and a greater reliance on plastics. That’s right, plastics.
Perhaps unnoticed by most drivers, automakers over the past few decades have dramatically increased the use of tough, lightweight plastics, displacing heavier materials. Due to their positive strength-to-weight ratio, plastics make up an astonishing 50 percent of today’s cars by volume, but only 10 percent by weight. This “lightweighting” results in less strain on the engine and improved gas mileage. In other words, more plastics lead to less fuel use.
And lucky for drivers and passengers, lightweight plastics also play an integral role in many auto safety features: seat belts, air bags, interior cushioning, crumple zones and bumpers, to name a few.
And that’s just the beginning. To satisfy CAFE standards – and Americans who still want large cars – automakers are expected to turn even more toward using plastics throughout more of the car, including innovations in plastic “composite” materials.
Composites combine plastics with glass fibers, carbon fibers or other materials to create car parts that often are stronger and lighter than metals, as well as corrosion-resistant. Composites already are in use today on some high-end vehicles, such as the Corvette Stingray with its sleek carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic hood and roof.
And recent manufacturing breakthroughs are projected to catapult carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics into the mainstream, along with similar tough, lightweight composites, by speeding production time and reducing costs. The U.S. government, auto companies and plastics makers are investing heavily in this technology, so these composites should soon make their way into the cars Americans drive every day.
Many experts predict even broader applications of plastics in future models – including plastic composites in the chassis and engine – leading to ultra-lightweight cars with even better gas mileage and lower emissions.
While all these new cars may not look as cool as the Corvette Stingray, averaging 54.5 miles per gallon will reduce auto emissions dramatically, and allow American drivers to spend a whole lot less at the pump.
(BPT) - Summer is the time for road trips, whether they cover thousands of miles across the country, or are “staycation” day trips. As we head into the summer months, gasoline prices continue to fluctuate and are expected to average $3.56 per gallon for regular-grade gasoline, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Whether you’re driving for hours or sitting in traffic, you will want to make sure your vehicle is ready for the road.
The most important component that makes your vehicle run is the engine. Your vehicle will last longer if you take care of the engine by following regularly scheduled maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer. This includes oil changes, replacing the air filter and keeping a detailed history log of the work that has been done.
Just as important to the engine itself are the components around it that help it run. Check the hoses that are connected to the radiator. They help pump coolant to and from the engine. Look for cracks, leaks and loose connections, paying special attention to where hoses are clamped. Make sure the engine is cool when you touch the hoses. They should be firm and not soft.
Belts that help cool the system should also be checked for cracks and damage. A visual inspection is good enough, but for the more mechanically inclined, you could also remove the belt to make sure the material inside isn’t separating into layers. Cracked hoses or a belt snapping will result in your engine overheating, leaving you stuck on the side of the road.
Another way to help cool your engine and protect it is to use a radiator coolant additive like Purple Ice from premium synthetic lubricant manufacturer Royal Purple. A high performance radiator conditioner, Purple Ice can help reduce engine temperatures, protect against corrosion and provide improved vehicle performance. For use in both gasoline and diesel engines, Purple Ice can be mixed with antifreeze or straight water, and is compatible with factory fill and major brand antifreeze.
Taking the time to maintain your engine and its components will get your further down the road and on your way to a great summer vacation.
(BPT) - Auto shows dotting the country paired with rising temperatures leave many people longing for a new car or truck. But purchasing a new vehicle is a complex process – one that doesn’t start with finding the right car, but with making sure your finances are in order. It’s important to plan ahead so there are no surprises during the loan application process that leave you stranded without options.
Long before you hit the dealership, sit down and go over some important variables. First, determine your budget and what you can realistically afford. Remember, your car payment may be the largest consideration, but it’s only one part of the total monthly cost of owning a new vehicle. You must factor in gas, insurance premiums and regular maintenance to get an accurate amount. Once you know your magic number, stick to it so you don’t get in over your head.
After you have a general idea of what you can afford, you should check your credit to see if you are a good candidate for a loan before you start shopping. A good first step is to check your credit reports. Is everything accurate? What is your debt-to-credit ratio? Are there items you want to work on before applying for a car loan?
While proactively reviewing what’s on your credit report is one of the fundamental ways to get a loan with preferable terms, it doesn’t tell you what your credit score is. To obtain your credit score and stay on top of your financial health, become a member of TransUnion Plus. TransUnion Plus gives you access to your credit report, your credit score, and the ability to track all your finances, such as your checking, savings and 401(k) accounts, so you can manage your money seamlessly, plus you get credit and identity theft protection.
Once your credit score and credit reports are in order, and you can feel confident about your ability to get a loan, there is another thing that financially savvy drivers should do: research financing options. Many people find the car they want and finance through the dealership, but these drivers may be missing out on other options that could save plenty of money. Shop around to see who has the best interest rates, determine how much you want to put down and decide what length of loan term works best for you. Also, remember to ask about pre-payment penalties – you shouldn’t be punished for paying your loan off sooner than promised.
Before you take your first test drive, take some time to decide between new and used vehicles. While a brand new vehicle with a great warranty has its appeal, it also has a high level of future depreciation. Because the rate of vehicle depreciation tends to be steeper during the first year or two, purchasing a slightly older car may be a better value in the long run, depending on how long you plan to own it. Research your options before making any decisions, including certifications and extended warranties.
If you’re young or are recovering from poor credit, you may find that even after going through all these steps, you still don’t qualify for a car loan, or if you do, it’s not enough or the interest rates are incredibly high. One option for people in these situations is to get a co-signer for the loan. Consumers should be cautious when co-signing a loan because a co-signer accepts the same responsibility for the loan, so if one person defaults, it can affect both people’s credit. Make sure if you need a co-signer, or even if you’re asked to be one, that you know the person well and he or she is trustworthy and reliable.
After you get yourself in shape financially, it’s finally time to hit up the auto shows and car dealerships to negotiate a deal. The only thing better than driving your new dream car is having the ability to pay for it without extra financial stress.
(BPT) - If you worry about the kind of car your teen will drive, you’re not alone.
In a survey commissioned by USAA, 81 percent of parents put reliability first when choosing a vehicle for their teens, followed by a high safety rating. The good news is that teens also want cars with the latest safety features.
“Being safe is the new cool,” says Shelby Fix, a 21-year-old safer-driving advocate and automotive journalist. “There are cool colors and options, but side-impact air bags and hands-free devices – that’s what’s in the new, cool cars.”
Fix, known as The Car Coach 2.0, says new technology turns teenagers’ heads almost as fast as slick makes and models.
The daughter of automotive expert Lauren Fix, Shelby raced go-karts at age 7 and was raised on talk of crash-test ratings. She grew up hearing the mantra of a mother who loves cars, but loves her kids more - “You can replace cars, but you can’t replace a child.”
That’s why the decision parents and teens make about that first set of wheels is so crucial. “Your car is like your outside shell when you’re in it,” Shelby says.
She’s learned six key factors to look for:
* Newer cars with newer technology. A used car may lack the technology that could save your child’s life. In addition to electronic stability control – which helps drivers keep control of the vehicle – and side-impact air bags, base prices for newer cars are including built-in rearview cameras and park-assist systems.
* The right size. Avoid sport utility vehicles, which have higher rollover rates and can prove tougher to maneuver; and tiny cars, which may offer less protection in a crash. Shelby recommends moderate-size vehicles for more stability and easier, more predictable handling.
* Sedan style. Don’t give your teen more power than he or she can handle. “Even though sports cars have a strong performance image, a lot of accidents are speed-related,” Shelby says.
* Crash-test ratings. Check the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Picks each year on its website, www.iihs.org.
* Accident history. If you’re in the market for a used car, get a vehicle history report. It can alert you if a car’s been in an accident or damaged in a flood.
* Mechanic’s signoff. Have an Automotive Service Excellence-certified mechanic check the vehicle to make sure the used vehicle you’re purchasing is a good one.
Check out the vehicles that made USAA’s 2013 Top 10 for Teens list. They had to be USAA Preferred vehicles and have an MSRP below $25,500. In addition, each vehicle’s safety, reliability, insurance cost and overall value were considered. The cars are:
1. Dodge Dart
2. Dodge Avenger
3. Honda CR-Z
4. Chrysler 200
5. Honda Insight
6. Volkswagen Golf
7. Hyundai Elantra
8. Nissan Versa
9. Kia Optima
10 Chevrolet Malibu
There was a time when buying a hybrid constituted a small leap of faith. Despite all of the potential benefits, you were still buying into a new technology with an unproven track record. Now that hybrids have demonstrated their staying power, many of the original hesitations about buying one no longer exist.
If you’ve always admired the potential benefits of owning a hybrid, but haven’t been able to get past some of the perceived drawbacks, it’s time to put your fears to rest. Here are four reasons that now is a better time than ever to buy a hybrid.
* They’re more affordable than ever. Hybrids were once in an entirely different price class, but with more on the market now, their price has dropped considerably. Options like the 2013 Kia Optima hybrid sedan compare favorably with most affordable new car models on the market as well as other hybrids.
* Batteries are less of a concern. Since batteries that reduced a car’s reliance on gas were the main piece of innovation when hybrids were introduced, many buyers were concerned about their ability to hold up over time. Time has shown that hybrid batteries are reliable, premature battery replacements are usually covered by the car’s warranty, and replacement batteries are becoming more affordable. For example, the Kia Optima Hybrid uses a lithium polymer battery, which is lighter, more compact, and more powerful than other hybrid batteries. So, fretting over eventually having to replace your battery is no longer such a concern when buying a hybrid.
* Improved looks. When hybrids were first introduced, everyone knew at first glance that you were driving one. Engineering has improved to make hybrid cars look like any other car on the road. In cars like the Kia Optima, which comes in both standard and hybrid options, there are only very subtle differences between the two.
* Proven record. Having been on the market since 2000, buying a hybrid is no longer taking a risk on new technology. Hybrids have proven to be a reliable option and are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
If you’ve been contemplating buying a hybrid but were held back by any of these preconceptions, there’s no reason to hesitate. With so many automakers offering hybrids and technology continuing to improve, they remain a good investment.
(BPT) - One of the easiest and most fun ways to enjoy everything the water has to offer is on a personal watercraft (PWC). Personal watercrafts have taken great strides toward modernization; the PWCs of today are quiet, run on clean four-stroke technology engines, include significant safety features, are more stable, and are designed to accommodate up to three passengers.
Because advances in technology have made personal watercraft options from brands like Sea-Doo, Jet Ski, Kawasaki and WaveRunner more accessible and easier to use, more people are enjoying them each year. PWCs are also incredibly versatile and are becoming popular for towing wake boarders, tubers, and water skiers, exploring waterways and fishing. They can even be used as transportation to and from overnight camp sites.
To fully enjoy a PWC, riders must be responsible, safe and educated about operating one. Before you insert the key into the ignition, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
* Are you of legal age in your state to operate a PWC?* Do you know your craft and the specific ways it operates compared to other PWCs?* Have you read all instructional materials and labels from the manufacturer?* Do you know the “rules of the road” on the water?* Are you wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) and neoprene shorts?
If you answer “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to head back to the dock.
Responsible riding isn’t just about personal safety. It also includes being considerate of those around you. Be mindful of other vessels in your vicinity and how your rate of speed or wake affects them. And don’t forget about marine life: Respect ecologically sensitive areas.
The Personal Watercraft Industry Association offers important safety tips, rider rules, local laws and PWC etiquette for riders of every skill level. Information on instructional courses and downloadable safety materials, including a brief handbook titled Riding Rules for Personal Watercraft and PWC Orientation Checklist can be found at www.pwia.org. Additional information can also be found through the United States Coast Guard. Getting educated about riding a PWC responsibly will ensure you’re equipped to handle the vessel and can enjoy a fun-filled day on the water.
Before you get your feet wet, remember to ride responsibly. Visit www.pwia.org to learn more about riding responsibly, or visit us on twitter @PWIA_News.
(BPT) - With summer just around the corner, it’s time to get your car in tip-top shape to withstand hot days and long road trips. Summer driving requires your car to run differently; some adjustments and inspections are important to ensure your vehicle lasts season to season. Follow these five fast fixes and inspections to cruise through the summer and avoid roadside headaches.
Tire careTires perform differently in different weather conditions, so as the weather changes, it’s important to check tire pressure and tire tread. To check tire tread, see if the built-in "wear bars” are visible. These are narrow strips of rubber across the tires that appear when the tread is worn down to one-sixteenth of an inch. If you can see wear bars, your tires need to be replaced.
Now that you’ve put in the effort to make your tires safe, make them shine. The Tire Shine Coating from Dupli-Color will keep your tires looking like new all season long. It’s easy to apply and features Shine-Last technology. Its formula lasts five times longer than silicone-based tire dressings, so tires will keep their shine through rain and other harsh elements. Simply spray it on your tires and hit the open road in style.De-winterize your carDe-winterizing your car is easy and affordable. First, check all the fluid levels – coolant, transmission, differential, power steering and brake fluid – to make sure there aren't any leaks. It’s also a good idea to change the oil between seasons, as oil gets thick and collects condensation if it sits in the engine all winter.
It's also important to thoroughly clean the undercarriage of your car after a long winter, especially if you live in a snowy climate. To avoid spending extra money on detailing, clean the undercarriage yourself using a basic water hose or high-pressure cleaning system. In just a few minutes, you can ensure your vehicle is ready for the new road conditions and help you avoid any unnecessary issues.
Paint protectionWinter can be tough on a car’s exterior and sunshine will reveal every nick, chip and scratch in your vehicle’s paint. Restoring your ride’s original factory finish takes only minutes with the easy-to-apply Dupli-Color ScratchFix 2 in 1. This innovative touch-up paint product is available in hundreds of Exact-Match colors for domestic and imported vehicles.
Simply use your vehicle’s make, model and year to find your guaranteed matching color code, and use one of the two applicators to fix any scrapes or nicks in no time. With a roller ball tip for precision and a tapered brush for full coverage, ScratchFix 2 in 1 will not only make your car look great, it will also protect the damaged surface from rusting and becoming a big, expensive problem.
Check the ACYour air conditioning system will be working overtime in the summer, so take time to test it to make sure it’s working properly sooner, rather than later. Since the vehicle’s refrigerant is under high pressure and harmful to the atmosphere, it’s best to leave any inspection or maintenance to a qualified professional. Mechanics can easily trap and recycle used refrigerant with the proper tools, and you can drive off with confidence you’ll stay cool all summer.Inspect hoses and beltsThe key to comfortable, safe summer driving is keeping the engine cool, and hoses and belts play a huge part in helping your engine run properly. Hoses pump coolant to and from the engine block, and belts run the fan that cools the system further. If the hoses crack or the belts snap, the radiator will quickly overheat, leaving you stranded. Check hoses for cracks, leaks and loose connections. Hoses should be firm, never soft and malleable, and belts can be visually checked for damage. If anything is noticeably wrong, get it fixed immediately, before you’re stranded in the summer heat.
Vehicles need updating and maintenance through the changing of the seasons, but a few easy steps can prevent a summer of unexpected issues and repairs. Start now on these preventative maintenance tips and you’ll be cruising smoothly all season long.
(BPT) - With a brand new truck decorating your driveway, you’ve probably got plenty of ideas of how you’re going to use it for towing a boat, transporting large and heavy loads and conquering rugged terrain. Or maybe you just want to feel powerful while driving it down the road.
But before you get too comfortable, think about what could make your truck even better. What can you add that will help your truck last longer, handle more tasks and look even stronger? Here are the five must-haves for all new truck owners to add to their vehicle.
1. Mud flaps – This detail is both a decoration item – show some style with a powerful diamond plate pattern or cheer on your favorite sports team everywhere you drive – and a safety item. Mud flaps help prevent your truck from throwing moisture and rocks back at vehicles following you, and they also help to keep the back end of your truck cleaner – so other drivers can see you in inclement weather.
2. Protective bedliner coating – A spray-on truck bedliner will give the bed additional protection from corrosion and abrasions, resist damage from chemicals and water, and keep objects stored in the bed from slipping and sliding around during travels. The LINE-X PREMIUM is a spray-on bedliner that provides UV protection to prolong the life and look of your truck bed. With this protective coating, your truck bed will look good for years to come.
3. Tie-down equipment – What is a truck better for than transporting large and heavy objects? Equip your new truck with tie-down anchor points and straps or ropes so they’ll be handy whenever you need them. Be sure to attach the anchor points at strategic places in the bed or along the bed rails so you can secure both large and small loads.
4. Tool box – Just like the tie-down equipment, you never know when you’re going to need a tool while you’re out and about with your truck. Sometimes the tools are for the truck itself – lug nut wrench, jack, screw drivers, etc. – but a wide assortment of tools can come in handy for many other uses as well. Store these tools in a box in the bed of your truck, and consider lining the box itself with LINE-X PREMIUM to keep the tools from sliding around and becoming damaged.
5. Cover – For better fuel mileage with your new truck, install a hard or roll-up cover over the bed to help give the truck better aerodynamics, and to help protect what’s stored in the bed from the elements. Some covers are lockable, allowing you to securely store more valuable equipment as well.
With these five must-haves, your truck is now ready to handle any task you assign to it, with plenty of power. By adding a cover, LINE-X PREMIUM bedliner and mud flaps, you’re also helping to extend the life of your truck.
(BPT) - With more than 300 million vehicles on the road today, motor oil is the lifeblood of any engine and can help protect and prolong its life, whether you’re driving a compact car, pickup truck or SUV. However, not just any motor oil will ensure the healthy life of an engine and, unfortunately, discounted deals for an oil change may not be such a deal after all.
With consumers looking to reduce their automotive maintenance costs, service locations can be quick to offer discounted services to capitalize on value seekers. How can a consumer be sure he or she is getting a quality motor oil and filter as part of the deal? A promise of “up to five quarts conventional oil” doesn’t really tell the consumer much about the quality of the oil being installed.
“I can’t stress how important it is to be ‘in the know’ when it comes to motor oil changes and to understand that there is a big difference between a value and just a cheaper deal,” says automotive expert Lauren Fix, or the “Car Coach” as she’s known around the nation. “If drivers choose to have a professionally installed motor oil in their vehicle, it’s a must for them to confirm what that shop is actually pouring into their car.”
Motor Oil Matters (MOM), a new consumer education and industry watchdog program by the American Petroleum Institute, has been established to stress the benefits of quality licensed motor oils and call onto the carpet those who engage in deceptive practices.
MOM and Fix recommend consumers arm themselves with a simple checklist of questions to help them make informed decisions about motor oil:
Time for a change?
The bottom line: Follow the oil change recommendations in the vehicle’s owner’s manual. Pay close attention to the oil life monitor if a vehicle has it. When the monitor says it’s time for a change, it’s time. Drivers need to pay close attention to their vehicle usage because vehicle manufacturers sometimes recommend oil drain intervals based on driving habits.
Do you know what you’re getting?
Your service provider should be happy to supply you with the brand, viscosity grade and performance level of the oil they use before it is poured into your vehicle. It’s also important to ask for that information in writing or on the receipt. Drive away from locations that don’t know or won’t confirm in writing what they’re pouring into your vehicle.
Who can you trust?
The American Petroleum Institute certifies oil change locations under the MOM program. Service providers that are MOM-certified have had their quality control procedures independently audited and have made the commitment to always tell their customers exactly what oil is going into their cars.
Does the oil meet the performance level recommended for my car?
Motor oil matters. Any motor oil poured into a vehicle should meet the level of performance recommended by the vehicle manufacturer in the owner’s manual. For many vehicles, manufacturers recommend oils that comply with the latest ILSAC (International Lubricant Specification Advisory Committee) or American Petroleum Institute standards. The American Petroleum Institute independently audits and licenses motor oils that meet its standards. Licensed oils carry the American Petroleum Institute’s Starburst or Donut certification marks as a representation and warranty that these oils meet the institute’s standards.
Getting a full change?
Make sure the oil change includes a fresh filter. Your owner’s manual likely recommends a particular type of oil filter, so make sure the right one is included with your oil change.
Not sure how to find an MOM-certified oil change location in your area?
Consumers can find a MOM licensed location near them by visiting www.MotorOilMatters.org or looking for the MOM mark. This website is a great resource to find more information about quality motor oil and how it helps protect your vehicle. MOM is also watching out for the “bad guys” and consumers are encouraged to confidentially report any oil marketer, distributor or service location that they suspect is misrepresenting the quality of the oil being marketed, supplied or installed. Just go to the MOM website and click on the Report Abuse button. Be sure to also check them out on Facebook and Twitter (@motoroilmatters) for the most recent updates and news.
(BPT) - The weather’s heating up and that means one thing: road trips.
Before you grab the family and hit the highway, make sure your vehicle’s ready to roll. And the first place to check is actually what rolls – your tires. Often ignored – except when they are flat – tires are one of the most important components on any vehicle, and have an enormous effect on braking, steering, comfort, handling and fuel efficiency.
“Today’s tires are designed so well, you never really think about them,” says Theresa Palang, public relations manager for Yokohama Tire Corporation, maker of a variety of truck and car tires. “Even though they can capably handle all manner of surfaces in all kinds of weather, it’s still a good idea to become familiar with your tires, especially if you’re going to be on the road a good amount of time.”
Palang says the first thing to know is what type of tires you have and what they can do. “Most people have no idea and get confused because there are so many types and performance categories. By educating yourself about tires and how to maintain them, you will be able to save money and fuel, vastly improve your vehicle’s ride and handling, and better prepare yourself for the road ahead.”
According to Palang, tires are defined according to whether they are summer, all-season or winter tires. Summer tires offer excellent handling in dry and wet conditions. All-season tires are designed for varying road conditions that include moderately cold or low temperatures. Winter tires are best for conditions that call for improved cold weather and snow/ice performance.
To best match the type of tire with your driving needs, look for the performance category that meets your requirements the most:
* Ultra high-performance: Deliver superior high-speed traction and control with a firmer, sportier feel.
* High-performance: Engineered to provide crisp handling, responsive feedback and allow the tire to operate at higher speeds.
* Touring: Provides the ride and noise comfort of a standard passenger car tire.
“There’s a lot to consider when deciding on tires,” explains Palang. “You have to take into account how you drive, how far, weather and road conditions, how you want the vehicle to perform and so on. Plus, there are new tire technologies, such as the use of orange oil we put in our AVID Ascend, which creates a special compound resulting in a balance of long tread life, all-season handling and great fuel economy.”
For road trips or the daily commute, driving smart and maintaining your tires can save money at the gas station. Here are some of Palang’s tips:
* Keep your tires properly inflated. Once a month, when the tires are cold (at least three to four hours after the vehicle has been driven), check tire pressure with a reliable tire gauge. Be sure the valve stems have a plastic or metal cap to keep dirt out and seal against leakage.
* Tires must be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch to prevent skidding and hydroplaning. An easy test: place a penny upside down into a tread groove. If part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, you’re driving with the proper amount of tread. If you can see all of his head, you should buy a new tire.
* Tire alignment should be checked once a year. Misaligned tires can cause the car to scrub, which lowers mileage and creates unnecessary tire wear.
* Slow down. All vehicles lose fuel economy at speeds above 55 mph. Driving 55 mph instead of 75 mph can reduce fuel costs by up to 25 percent. Driving 65 mph instead of 75 mph can save up to 13 percent.
* Turn off your engine if you're stopped for more than a couple of minutes. Fuel efficiency savings of up to 19 percent are possible by not letting your engine idle too long while stationary.
* Blasting off from a stoplight and then slamming on the brakes to stop uses gas at a much faster rate. Accelerating less and slowing moderately can increase fuel efficiency by more than 30 percent. Also, many traffic lights are timed for efficient traffic flow, so you'll hit more green lights in a row by maintaining the speed limit.
For additional tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com or www.rma.org.
(BPT) - Freedom. The open road. There’s nothing quite like the big sky ahead of you and feeling the rumble of your motorcycle. It’s motorcycle season across the United States and Canada. Warm weather accompanied by clear roads means it’s time to seek adventure, even if that means ditching your car for your daily commute to and from work.
But before heading out, motorcyclists should take heed, because in our automobile and truck-dominated society the odds are not on the side of motorcyclists, according to FindLaw.com, the nation’s leading website for free legal information. Motorcycle operators account for about 2 percent of the vehicles on the road, but account for 14 percent of all road traffic deaths, according to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety.
“For freedom of the road, motorcyclists take on greater risks,” says Timothy D. McMahon, a personal injury attorney who specializes in motorcycle cases for the San Jose law firm, Corsiglia McMahon & Allard.
“But you can reduce your risks by doing four simple things,” says McMahon. “Make sure you’re properly insured, wear a helmet, make sure your bike is in good working condition and keep learning, so you are always improving your riding skills.”
Here are some additional tips for motorcycle operators and their passengers from FindLaw.com:
Drive defensively: Regardless of how long you’ve been riding, always ride defensively, especially when approaching intersections, where, according to Allstate Insurance, 46 percent of all motorcycle crashes occur. On the highway or in the city, avoid an automobile or truck’s blind spot. Ride with your lights on. Use hand signals in addition to your lights. Avoid swerving in and out of traffic, and put some space between you and other riders on group rides.
Wear your helmet: If you want to enjoy riding for a very long time, wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-certified helmet. Next to your bike, your helmet is a rider’s most important piece of equipment. Know the helmet laws in your state and the states to which you’re traveling. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 19 states and the District of Columbia require helmets to be worn by the motorcycle operator and his or her passengers at all times. The laws in other states vary, such as requiring helmets to be worn by minors.
Check your insurance: All but three states, Washington, Montana and Florida, require motorcycle insurance (typically liability). Don’t assume your auto insurance covers your use of a motorcycle, scooter or moped. McMahon says to review your auto insurance carefully. And always have proof of insurance on you in the event that you’re involved in a crash.
Check your bike: Conduct a quick inspection before you head out. Check tire conditions, lights, controls, the oil level and the kickstand. If your bike has been stored for the winter, make sure it’s tuned up and in good working condition.
Upgrade to anti-lock brakes: Consider upgrading your next motorcycle purchase with a bike equipped with anti-lock brakes. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, “motorcycles with anti-lock brakes have a 37 percent lower rate of fatal crashes than the same models not equipped with anti-lock brakes.”
Strap on some leather: Leather jackets and leather pants or chaps offer excellent protection for riders and their passengers. Pair your leather with tough, leather boots that go over your ankles and have a thick rubber, grooved sole for better traction. And don’t forget to wear proper eyewear and gloves.
Watch the road: Look down the road to anticipate changes in the road surface. For motorcyclists who live in the northern half of the continent, take extra care in the spring when roads may have patches of sand and gravel, and potholes are common.
Be seen: Black may be cool, but bright colored outer clothing increases your chance of being seen by other drivers. In addition, position your bike on the road to make sure you’re seen. Make eye contact with car and truck drivers, especially at intersections, to make sure they see you. Motorcyclists in the northern part of the country should take extra care in the spring – after a long winter, other drivers are not used to seeing motorcycles on the road.
Know your bike: Every bike is different. Take the time to get to know your bike before you head out on the road. If you’ve just purchased a new bike, practice with it so you understand how it reacts, such as in an emergency stop situation. Study your owner’s manual and don’t be afraid to improve your skills with a refresher course.
Ride straight: Don’t mix riding with alcoholic beverages or other substances that could impair your ability to operate your motorcycle, put your passenger at risk and put you at risk for a DUI.
To learn more about your legal rights and responsibilities of operating a motorcycle, visit FindLaw.com.
(BPT) - Vehicles are a big investment for families – usually the second highest valued item in a household after the home itself. While the purchase price for cars, trucks and SUVs keeps going up, the cost of maintenance is holding steady or even dropping for most vehicles. Better materials, sophisticated computers and other advances increase reliability and allow less frequent oil changes, tune-ups and other service.
Owners can do some of the work themselves to lower maintenance costs even further. Anyone interested in saving money and increasing pride of ownership by doing their own work can spend just a few minutes and accomplish the following four maintenance tasks easily, without any expensive tools or training.
* Cabin air filter replacement – The air conditioner is cranked up on those hot summer days. The cabin air filter keeps the air blowing through the heat and air conditioning ventilation system clean, and it should be replaced at least once a year. But in areas of the country where there is a lot of pollen or dust – from dirt roads, construction projects or even arid conditions – it’s a good idea to replace this filter more frequently.
“Cabin air filters are usually easy to install, but installation will vary between cars,” says Tom Taylor, engineer and vice president of RockAuto.com, an online auto parts retailer. “Some filters are behind the glove box, and others are accessed through the cowl panel below the windshield.”
Check your owner’s manual to see if there is information on replacing the cabin air filter, or visit RockAuto.com to find installation instructions provided by filter manufacturers.
* Headlamps and tail lights – When a headlamp or tail light burns out, you may be surprised to discover how easy it is to replace these bulbs. For most vehicles, installation of headlamps is from the engine compartment. Just unplug the electrical connector on the back of the bulb, unscrew the large plastic ring that holds the bulb in place and pull the bulb out. Because headlamps are usually halogen lights, be sure to wear gloves or use a cloth to avoid getting fingerprints on the bulb. Oils from your hands can shorten the life of the bulb.
Tail lights are similar – usually you can gain access through the trunk of the vehicle underneath the trim material.
* Wiper blades – Trying to see the road through a streaky window is almost as bad as trying to see the road in a heavy rain shower. The quality of the blade purchased will determine how long the blade will last and how well it will perform in clearing the windshield of rain.
“It is now easy to choose wipers that are better than what originally came on the car,” Taylor says. “There are longer-lasting blades, winter blades that resist freezing to the windshield and beam-type wiper arms that hold the blade more firmly on the glass.”
Higher quality blades tend to cost more, but drivers will appreciate the durability and clarity they provide. RockAuto.com is promoting a wiper wholesaler closeout for top-quality blades at extremely low prices. Once you have your blades purchased, just follow the included directions on how to install them.
* Engine air filter – These air filters keep the oxygen supplied to the engine’s combustion chambers free of dirt and other contaminants. Clean air is needed to optimize the engine’s performance and extend its life. Manufacturers recommend replacing an engine air filter every 12,000 miles driven. However, it will also depend on the car’s model and how dusty the environment is. This filter is typically located under the hood in a large, rectangular, plastic air filter housing. Remove the four bolts or clips around the edges and then lift the dirty filter out.
These maintenance tasks are ongoing, but they become even easier with repetition. DIYers save money and time when they handle them at home.
(BPT) - The last thing anyone wants is for his or her insurance rates to increase. Most policyholders would be surprised to know it’s the last thing their insurance company wants to happen, too. That's why most major carriers have a department of investigators dedicated to stopping one of the primary causes of rate hikes: insurance fraud. In fact, fraudulent insurance claims are the second most costly white-collar crime in America – to the tune of $40 billion annually.
“Each year the average U.S. family is hit with $400 to $700 in increased premiums due to phony insurance payouts,” says Dan Bales, national director of special investigations for Mercury Insurance, which established a Special Investigations Unit in 1978 to help fight insurance fraud. “The goal of the SIU is to limit these payments and catch the criminals responsible.
“Think of us as the CSI of the insurance industry. We square off against mobsters, organized crime, dirty lawyers and doctors, white-collar con artists and even the occasional celebrity to help keep down costs for our policyholders.”
Insurance fraud is a game of numbers. Insurance rates are calculated using statistics and mathematics to project risk. So, by lowering the probability for costly insurance scams, insurance companies have financial flexibility to offer customers low rates.
Making the SIU’s job tougher is the fact that the culprits behind these scams aren’t run-of-the-mill criminals. “Today’s scammers are technologically savvy and have access to sophisticated equipment,” says Bales, who’s been involved in more than 35,000 claims investigations during his 27-year career at Mercury. “They routinely produce, among other things, fake medical records, duplicate checks, and false identifications and business licenses. To maintain an advantage, our SIU is constantly working to stay ahead of the technological curve.
“I don’t want to give away any industry secrets, but on any given day, the average person is caught on camera 12 to 16 times. This allows us to pull footage or images from ATMs, intersection cams, private businesses, homes, cell phones and even social media to catch criminals in the act.”
One question Bales hears quite often is, how can consumers help fight fraud? “We have a saying: If you’re not looking for insurance fraud, you won’t find it. So, I always tell people to document suspicious activity and incidents. When it comes to cracking these cases, the devil is in the details.”
There are several common schemes of which consumers should be aware. Staged auto accidents, adding damage to vehicles after a loss and switching drivers on accident reports are a few of the most prevalent scams.
Bales says regardless of the insurance provider, when suspicious activity is observed, the witness should alert the SIU and law enforcement by calling 1-800-TEL-NICB or by texting the keyword “fraud” to TIP411.
Here are some of his other tips:
* If you’re involved in an auto accident, always call the police and document unusual circumstances or activities.
* Obtain detailed bills for collision repairs, home/property repairs and medical services.
* Never sign blank insurance claims forms.
* Watch for double-billing or unexplained charges for any service received as part of an insurance claim.
* Be aware that there are crime rings that specialize in “slip and fall” schemes, which involve fake injuries and false claims.
* Always gather as much information as possible at the scene of an accident.
(BPT) - You may be dreaming about escaping on a vacation, but the sky-high costs of flights and cruises can quickly turn into a nightmare. If you’re looking to take a break without breaking the bank, a good, old-fashioned road trip could be the way to escape. Aside from packing snacks and preparing the perfect playlist, there are a few things you should consider before venturing out on the open road. A few updates and precautions can help you avoid the wear and potential safety hazards a long trip can have on your vehicle.
Winter can be hard on a vehicle’s exterior, and even seemingly insignificant cosmetic damage can become a large issue if left unattended. Many owners are aware of some scratch or dent in their vehicles but are wary of the cost to have it professionally repaired. But allowing exposed metal to rust can create an even bigger problem. Fortunately, you can avoid ugly and potentially costly issues using Dupli-Color Scratch Fix touch-up paint. This innovative solution is available in hundreds of exact-match colors for a seamless fix to nearly any vehicle paint damage. With a roller ball tip for precision and a taper brush for full coverage, Scratch Fix is the ultimate tool for any vehicle owner. Make sure to apply Dupli-Color Scratch Fix Clear Coat over the touch up paint, to ensure a manufacturer-approved color match. For a fraction of the cost, this do-it-yourself solution will help protect and beautify your vehicle before and after a long road trip.
Good tires are an integral aspect of vehicle safety, and it is extremely important to check your tires before heading on an extended road trip. According to the Car Care Council, thin tire treads create hazardous driving conditions, particularly on wet roadways. Thin or worn treads can cause tires to hydroplane and potentially lead to loss of control of the vehicle. To ensure tires wear evenly and avoid dangerous situations, it is commonly recommended to have tires rotated every 7,000 miles. This simple routine not only makes for a more dependable vehicle, but also saves money by extending the life of your tires. Replacing worn tires before a trip is also a good idea to ensure you will have no problems while far from home – plus, you may even see better gas mileage.
Checking your brakes is an extremely important aspect of routine vehicle maintenance, and you should be sure your brakes are in prime condition before a long journey. New brake pads and fluid may not be the most appealing travel expense, but will certainly save you the hassle and cost failed brakes can incur.
Whether your trip is 100 miles or 1,000, checking your vehicle mechanics is important before heading out on the open road. This includes checking and changing your oil, coolant, brake and transmission fluids as needed. In addition to its inner workings, make sure all outside components of your vehicle are in top shape. Ensure headlights and blinkers work properly, inspect windshield wipers and review mirrors, and check windows for any cracks before setting out.
Take advantage of the preventative tips above and you will have your vehicle ready to hit the open road with no hiccups just in time for vacation season.
(BPT) - “What is that rattling? Is it serious?” We all can get a little paranoid about a new sound our car is making. Those sounds can certainly be annoying, but what people don’t realize is sometimes those sounds may be linked to something more serious.
About 7 percent of car crashes are caused by some kind of vehicle failure, with tire degradation and brake system failures topping the list, according to the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But tire and brake failure aren’t the only types of vehicle problems that can lead to accidents – engine, steering system and suspension failures also cause crashes.
“Getting your oil changed, tires rotated and brake pads checked regularly not only helps keep your car running smoothly, but it also helps keep you and your family safe,” says Matt Myers, senior vice president of claims with Erie Insurance. “It’s also important to check your car’s transmission fluids and get the 50,000-mile and 100,000-mile checks. It might sound like a lot, but regular preventative maintenance is the best way to keep those strange car noises - and accidents - to a minimum.”
Here are six common car noises people hear and what they could mean:
Humming or groaning
When you hear humming while driving at faster speeds, it’s a sign there probably is some wear on your tires, which can lead to serious issues. It could be located on the insides of your tires, which is hard to diagnose on your own, but not having it checked is a risk, because the steel belts in the tire might be coming apart.
This noise could change or even go away when you turn the wheel, but it is usually caused by a defective front wheel bearing. The change in noise could be a result of the shift in the weight of the car as you turn.
Whining and creaking
You might hear these noises backing up or turning. It could be the result of a ball joint or tie rod seizing up.
This can be a high-pitched, steady annoyance that lets you know it’s time to get your brake pads checked or replaced.
This sound means two pieces of metal are touching when they shouldn’t be. This sound could be a multitude of things: brakes, powertrain, suspension or something else. Whatever the case, a grinding sound means you need to get your car checked out as soon as possible.
A hissing sound might occur after you turn off your ignition and can sometimes be followed by smoke from under your hood.
The next time you hear strange noises coming from your car, don’t just turn up the radio to drown them out – get them checked by a mechanic. Ignoring those noises today could lead to a dangerous and expensive situation tomorrow.
Talking or texting on a cellphone while driving is taboo almost everywhere across the country. Thirty-nine states now ban texting while driving and 10 states prohibit any use of a cellphone without a hands-free device.
But that doesn’t mean drivers are using their phones any less. In fact, smartphones are more popular than ever. There are 91.4 million smartphones in the United States, and 89 percent of smartphone owners use their phone throughout the day, according to Go-Gulf.com. These phones are a lifeline, both in the office and while on the road.
Not only are states developing laws restricting the use of electronics for drivers, but law enforcement is cracking down on violators as well. According to the California Highway Patrol, California police issued 425,041 tickets last year to motorists accused of texting or talking on cellphones while driving. According to the NYPD, police officers in New York issued 141,816 cellphone tickets last year.
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the perfect time for drivers to recognize the dangers of holding and using a cellphone while driving. A recent study done by AT&T shows that adults text behind the wheel more than teens even though 98 percent of adults admit to knowing it is dangerous. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association reports that drivers are 23 times more likely to crash while texting behind the wheel.
Hands-free devices make it easier for drivers to use their mobile devices without removing their hands from the steering wheel or eyes from the road. The Plantronics M55 headset won a CES award for in-vehicle accessory. The headset is discreet, lightweight, and offers a long battery life of up to five months. If a call were to come in while a driver is behind the wheel, they only need to say “answer” to begin the conversation. Users also can orally command the headset to update their social media status on Facebook or Twitter, email, text, check voicemails and listen to music. This allows users of all ages to communicate in many different ways besides just a phone call without taking their hands and eyes off the road.
For those interested in an over-the-ear headset that allows phone use while on the go, whether it’s on foot or in a vehicle, the Plantronics Voyager Legend is another great option. The headset provides users with crystal clear audio quality and up to seven hours of talk time. This headset has smart sensor technology that allows users to just put on the headset to answer an incoming call.
Drivers need to be aware of the dangers of distracted driving, as well as how laws are changing across the nation. For more information on driver safety and current legislation, visit the Plantronics website.
(BPT) - Now that spring has sprung, drivers will be hitting the road in earnest to enjoy the warmer weather. In fact, according to Hankook Tire’s latest Quarterly Gauge Index, 56 percent of Americans are planning to take a road trip that involves driving 50 miles or more. On average, they estimate they will drive 1,025 miles. What is it about spring - besides the obvious pleasurable weather - that has so many people hitting the road?
Family time: The same survey found that one third of Americans will consider taking a road trip for family reunions. Not only is the warmer weather ideal for driving, it is perfect for picnics, barbecues and other fun outdoor activities. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are also on the horizon. Hankook Tire’s Gauge Index found that those who drive to their mother’s houses to celebrate Mother’s Day drive an average of 320 miles, and those who drive to their father’s houses to celebrate Father’s Day drive an average of 355 miles.
Music concerts and festivals: The sounds of birds chirping aren’t the only tunes filling the spring skies. From Coachella to the New Orleans Jazz Festival to Bonnaroo, music fans will rack up the miles to jam with their favorite artists.
Sporting events: With America’s favorite pastime in full swing, many people will be traveling to their local ballparks to take in all the action. But why stop there? Avid fans also pack up and follow their teams to opponents’ stadiums.
There is no shortage of reasons for taking a drive this spring, but before cruising away you will want to take care of a few items.
Spring cleaning - Carry your spring cleaning efforts to your vehicle and make sure it is tidy before heading out. Hankook Tire found out that 49 percent of American drivers polled stated they plan to clean their cars before their closets this spring, compared to 32 percent who said they will first clean their closets. The survey also uncovered that not all Americans share a spring cleaning mindset. Nineteen percent do not intend to clean their cars or their closets.
Check that tire pressure – Drivers should check tire pressure at least once a month to ensure proper inflation. When tires are underinflated, they wear out faster, are less efficient and waste energy and fuel. Properly inflated tires save you money at the pump. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires
Avoid potholes - Potholes are prevalent in the spring, when temperatures rise and high moisture levels cause sinkholes. Try not to drive directly over potholes to mitigate any damage to your tires.
Be prepared for any weather – Spring isn’t all sunshine, as rain is often sprinkled into weather forecasts. Tires like the Hankook Ventus S1 noble2 have an advanced silica tread compound for improved traction in both wet and dry conditions. They also offer lower rolling resistance, delivering improved efficiency and fuel savings by minimizing wasted energy.
(BPT) - For baby boomers and beyond, a lot has changed since they first received their drivers’ license, from car technology and traffic rules, to even road conditions. Many older drivers are taking a proactive approach to staying safe on the road. Most wear a seat belt – 77 percent of drivers age 65 and older according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – and most obey the speed limit and avoid the road when conditions are bad. But a few surprising steps can help older drivers stay even safer.
Here are some top safety tips drivers age 50 and older should consider:
Enhance your exercise.
It’s no secret that exercise is an important part of aging well, but did you know that the benefits extend to safer driving? Exercise can enhance flexibility and range of motion for older drivers, according to recent research by The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and MIT AgeLab.
How can fitness help you become a better driver? Drivers in the study who exercise regularly reported greater ease in turning their heads to see blind spots when changing lanes or backing up. The study also found that drivers who exercised were able to rotate their bodies further to scan the driving environment while making right hand turns and they were able to get into their cars more rapidly, demonstrating increased overall flexibility.
Exercise for your health, as well as your safety on the road. Try strength exercises like bicep curls and squats, range-of-motion exercises like back stretches and heel drops, flexibility exercises like shoulder stretches, and coordination exercises such as rotating leg kicks. More information on the connection between fitness and safe driving, including an exercise guide and informational video, can be downloaded at www.thehartford.com/lifetime.
Take a driver safety course.
The rules of the road are constantly changing. Even experienced drivers can benefit from brushing up on their skills. Taking a safe driving class is a simple way for older drivers to keep their skills sharp so they stay safe on the road.
One popular option is the AARP Driver Safety course. Available across the country in a classroom setting as well as online, the course serves as a refresher about the rules of the road and provides valuable tips about defensive driving techniques. AARP membership is not required and there is no test to pass. Plus, some states require insurance companies to provide a multi-year discount for those who complete the course. Consult your insurance agent for more details. Visit www.aarp.org/drive to learn more.
Prioritize your vision.
Driving well means seeing well, so it’s smart for older drivers to prioritize their vision needs. Starting at age 40, individuals are more likely to experience blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night and changes in color perception, according to the American Optometric Association. Start by scheduling an appointment with an optometrist who can examine your eyes for and medical conditions like glaucoma and macular degeneration as well as provide you with a current prescription. When driving, always wear up-to-date prescription glasses with narrow side pieces that don’t block peripheral vision. Keep sunglasses in the vehicle as well, so bright days don’t deteriorate your visibility.
In addition to high-quality glasses, position yourself to see as much as possible in your car. Adjust the seat so that you are at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel, and can see at least three inches over the top of the steering wheel. Adjust rear and side mirrors appropriately to minimize blind spots. Keep headlight and window glass clean – dirt and grime can make the road appear hazy.
These little-known tips can help keep older drivers safer when behind the wheel. From taking a course to staying healthy, older adults can enjoy the freedom of the open road while keeping themselves and others safe.
(BPT) - Hitting 100,000 miles on the odometer for most people means it’s time to start car shopping. But for others it’s a personal challenge to go the extra mile, save a little cash and take their cars another 100,000 miles.
Racking up miles can evoke pride in some, but it is more than just bragging rights. Many people are driving cars tens and hundreds of thousands of miles further simply to keep their wallets a little fuller. For Dave Neil, a professional bus driver and a pastor in Minnesota, going the extra mile has meant saving money by collecting more than 200,000 miles on each of his family’s last four vehicles and driving his current car a whopping 430,400 miles.
“It takes patience and luck,” says Neil of hitting the high mileage. “It can be a difficult decision to pay for repairs on older vehicles, especially when those costs are comparable to the value of the car. But, repair costs are a small price to pay compared to monthly car payments.”
For those who plan on taking a car past 150,000 miles, routine maintenance starting early in a car’s life can help mitigate hefty repair costs further down the line. Inevitably though, drivers of high-mileage vehicles will sooner or later face repair costs that challenge their willpower.
“We’re seeing professional trucking companies, small business owners and everyday drivers looking to keep their vehicles running longer,” says Andrew Hamilton, director of lubricants for CHS, which manufactures and markets Cenex fuels, lubricants and propane through a network of over 1,400 Cenex brand retailers in 19 states. “Regardless of the size or type of vehicle, it’s almost always more affordable in the long run to make repairs rather than to replace a vehicle. And in today’s economy, more and more people are doing just that.”
Using a good motor oil and changing it frequently and consistently throughout a car’s life is essential for getting the most miles from it. High-mileage oil is available with added protection for older cars, but it doesn’t necessarily benefit newer cars. Hamilton recommends a high-performing synthetic oil, such as Cenex Maxtron, which can help take a vehicle that extra mile and improve fuel economy no matter how many miles it has.
Smart driving is another simple way to keep a car running smoothly into the higher miles. Vigilant driving not only helps prevent accidents that could shorten a vehicle’s life but also is less taxing on an engine and brake system. To keep a car running well, make a habit of accelerating slowly, using cruise control on the highway and easing up on the brakes.
To learn more about going the extra mile, Hamilton recommends visiting tanksofthanks.com. The website provides consumers and business owners with useful information from fuel and maintenances experts, and allows visitors to nominate people they know for a free tank of gas.