According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 20,000 people require medical attention every year as a result of crashes involving trailers towed by passenger vehicles. These recreational outings don’t need to go sideways — nor does whatever you may be towing. Here’s a safety checklist to ensure you are towing the right way.
(BPT) - The onset of warmer weather means taking to the outdoors, be it boating, camping or simply tackling big jobs in the backyard. The result is a heavy increase in traffic on the roads — and often tagging along with the extra vehicles are the trailers, boats and campers that can put motorists at risk.
In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 20,000 people require medical attention every year as a result of crashes involving trailers towed by passenger vehicles.
These recreational outings don’t need to go sideways — nor does whatever you may be towing. Here’s a safety checklist to ensure you are towing the right way:
Get hitched: A starting point to towing is knowing the pulling capacity of your vehicle, as too much weight can cause a load of problems, no matter how much power your engine has.
When it comes to connecting a trailer to the towing vehicle, a critical component, of course, is the coupler — the part of the hitch system that is attached to the trailer. The coupler needs to be secured, tight and locked.
On the towing vehicle, avoid using a ball mount and hitch that is rusted, cracked, corroded or poorly designed — anything that can compromise its integrity. A safe answer is applying a new hitch, like the Ultra-Tow Complete Tow Kit, which is a durable and easy solution to pull whatever you’re towing.
Bottom line: Always reference the “coupling to tow vehicle” section of your vehicle manual to make sure it is done right.
Feel the (tire) pressure: An often forgotten element on the trailer towing checklist is making sure the trailer’s tire pressure is at the right level. In addition, inspect tires for wear or trauma — and be sure to have a spare.
Be a chain agent: Once you place and pop in the coupler over the ball mount, the next step is applying the safety chains, which need to be rigged to the tow vehicle. Avoid the common mistake of rigging the safety chains to the hitch or ball mount itself. Safety chains are federal law and will keep the trailer from drifting in the event the trailer coupling separates from the ball mount.
Light it up: No matter what you’re driving, communicating with other vehicles is paramount to safety — and that means having properly working brake, tail and turn signal lights. Before departing, sync up the trailer lights with the tow vehicle and test it out so that other motorists will know your actions.
Locked down and loaded: Once everything is hitched, it’s time to load up the cargo. It’s best to be balanced with weight distribution, but put heavier cargo in the front of the trailer. And of course, do not overload.
This pre-departure checklist is only a start. Once on the road, remember the basic safe driving practices when towing a trailer: Drive at moderate speeds, avoid sudden stops, don’t use cruise control and allow more distance for stopping.
No matter how much of a rush you are in to hit the road this summer, don’t take any shortcuts when it comes to towing safely.
(BPT) - The idea of a new car or truck is exciting. What’s even more exciting is making that new vehicle your own.
There are countless ways to personalize a vehicle, but one of the easiest ways to spruce up a vehicle is by adding a new set of wheels. In fact, wheels are typically the first thing vehicle owners upgrade on a car or truck after purchasing it from the dealership.
According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) in its 2017 Market Research Report, wheels are among the most purchased items by consumers in the $42 billion aftermarket industry. Because there are many wheel options, SEMA recommends researching the various wheel types available for your specific vehicle and learning about the different wheel finish options, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages.
Here are basics about wheel finishes to keep in mind:
Painted: Opting for painted wheels will give you an endless amount of options when it comes to colors and effects, allowing you to personalize your vehicle exactly how you desire. Painted wheels are typically primed before wet paint is applied, and they are finalized with a clear topcoat to protect the paint. To minimize damage or discoloration due to heat or dust brought about by daily use, painted wheels should be cleaned with a non-acidic and non-abrasive soap that should not be allowed to dry onto the wheel.
Polished: Polished wheels are great if you want a wheel with a shiny look or mirror-like finish that is not heavy, which could aid in fuel economy. The wheel is polished to a high luster by buffing it using a machine or by hand before being protected with a high-gloss clear coat. Polished wheels can be cleaned with mild soap and dried with a microfiber towel, then coated and hand-polished with a non-abrasive wax to help it maintain its luster.
Chrome: If you want the shiniest look possible, opt for a chrome wheel. This popular and classic type of wheel finish is achieved by adding layers of metals, such as copper, nickel and chromium, to create a very reflective finish. You can easily clean chrome wheels with soap and water, then dry them with a soft cloth. To prevent dirt and dust from sticking to the wheels, add a layer of wax after cleaning them.
Powder-coated: For an extremely durable wheel finish that is resistant to scratches and fading and comes in many color options, go with a powder-coated wheel. To achieve this finish, a wheel is grounded and sprayed with a powder-coat (usually a polyester or epoxy), then exposed to heat (usually in a heating oven), essentially baking on the smooth finish. Like their painted counterparts, powder-coated wheels can be cleaned with a mild soap that should not be allowed to dry on the wheel finish. You can further protect the finish by applying a wheel sealant or coating solution.
These are but a few of the many types of finishes available in the wheel segment of the automotive aftermarket industry that can help give your vehicle an updated look. Every type of wheel finish provides variations in shine, color and required maintenance, so take the time to research what’s available. Regardless of the wheel you decide to go with, it will surely help get you on the road to creating a vehicle that meets your unique, individual needs.
Manufacturers introduce new wheels and many other products annually at the SEMA Show, the leading trade-only show for businesses in the automotive industry. Consumers can connect with some of these businesses at the official SEMA Show after-party, also known as SEMA Ignited, where one-of-a-kind custom vehicle builds featuring the newest aftermarket products, including wheels, parade out of the convention center before making their way to the ultimate car show open to the public. For more information, visit www.semaignited.com.
(BPT) - Need help finding the perfect vehicle? If you're in the market for a new car or truck, consider purchasing one you can make your own. While just about any vehicle can be transformed with a few simple products, there are certain makes and models that are more accessory-friendly than others.
To find out which vehicles those are, car shoppers can look to the winners of the SEMA Award before making their purchase. Presented annually by the Specialty Equipment Market Association, a trade association representing the automotive customization industry, the SEMA Award is given to vehicles that can easily and affordably be improved to better fit your needs.
"The SEMA Award recognizes vehicle models that specialty-equipment manufacturers believe are the best platforms for the newest and most innovative products," says Chris Kersting, president and CEO for SEMA. A variety of different products such as seat covers, wheels, tires, suspension and exhaust can all make for a simple yet immense difference on your new ride. Here are this year's SEMA Award winners:
Hottest Car: Ford Mustang
The iconic Mustang took home the Award for Hottest Car, which is no surprise considering it is one of the most popular cars for vehicle enhancement. Whether you're adding LED headlights or a new exhaust system, both the appearance and performance can easily be upgraded on the Ford Mustang. On and off the track, this vehicle continues to be reliable, customizable and in high demand among consumers today.
Hottest Truck: Ford F-Series
One of the most popular selling lines of trucks on the market is the Ford F-Series. Because of its unlimited versatility, the F-Series is the winner of the SEMA Award for Hottest Truck. Everything from tonneau covers to protect the bed, running boards for easy access or a new air intake system for instant power gains can be upgraded, transforming your truck into a bold, new ride.
Hottest 4X4/SUV: Jeep Wrangler
As the defending champion of the hottest 4X4/SUV, the Jeep Wrangler wins its sixth SEMA Award. There are a number of different ways to turn your Wrangler into the ultimate off-road ride or just personalize it as your everyday vehicle. If you're ready to hit the trails, consider a lift kit and purchasing off-road or all-terrain tires. Ramp up that rugged look while protecting the exterior with hood mounts, fender flares or rock sliders. As an enthusiast favorite in the off-road community, the Wrangler is known for its durability, unique styling and ability to be personalized in a way completely unique to you.
Hottest Sport Compact: Ford Focus
Ford vehicles are known for being accessory friendly, so it is no surprise that the Ford Focus was named the winner of the Hottest Sport Compact. As the industry continues to grow, more and more accessories are becoming available for this market segment. Whether it's a body kit, wheel/tire package or suspension and steering systems, your Ford Focus can easily be transformed into the ultimate tuner ride.
The SEMA Award is intended to guide consumers towards the hottest trending and most accessory-friendly vehicles on the road. Consumers spend nearly $36 billion a year on products and accessories to enhance the performance and styling of today's vehicles, according to SEMA. Winners were selected by exhibiting manufacturers at the 2015 SEMA Show, the world's premier automotive specialty equipment trade event where the newest and most innovative products are introduced each year. To learn more about the 2015 SEMA Award winners, visit www.semashow.com/semaaward.
Take steps now to prevent your family from becoming another accident statistic by installing radar-detected forward collision warning and lane departure warning technology on your vehicle. Getting it installed aftermarket in your current vehicle at a fraction of the cost can save you money in the short- and long-term while keeping you safe.
Increasing Road Safety with Cost-Effective Technology
(Family Features) Driving conditions have drastically changed in recent years, and thanks to the rise of cell phones and smart devices there are more distracted drivers on the road than ever before. In fact, the National Safety Council reports that 1.6 million crashes each year are a direct result of cell phone use while driving.
So what steps can you take now to prevent your family from becoming another accident statistic?
Forward collision warning and lane departure warning technology can be the difference between an average commute and a tragedy on the highway. The systems use radar technology to detect if you get too close to an obstacle or another vehicle, which signals the system to sound an alarm – providing up to five full seconds of extra reaction time. That may not seem like much, but imagine how far you can go in five seconds when speeding down the freeway at 60 mph.
This technology isn’t just available in new luxury cars. You can get it installed aftermarket in your current vehicle at a fraction of the cost.
Safe Drive Systems is leading the charge in helping drivers protect themselves and their families on the road by providing affordable forward collision and lane departure technology that can be outfitted into almost any car.
Here are just a few ways that collision avoidance systems can save you money in the short- and long-term while keeping you safe:
Don’t wait for mandatory collision-avoidance technology. Government and consumer advocacy groups are attempting to make forward collision warning technology mandatory in all new cars by 2022. However, you don’t need to wait to protect your family – the technology is available now. This potentially life-saving upgrade is available to all consumers, and getting it installed in your vehicle can provide you and your family a safer driving experience years before the auto dealers will begin manufacturing the technology in standard models – at a higher price point.
Upgrade your safety features without buying a new car. Most manufacturers and dealerships won’t add collision avoidance technology to a car that’s already been purchased. However, you don’t have to buy an expensive car to be safer on the road. Drivers need to be aware of cost-effective aftermarket solutions that can be installed in almost any automobile. This technology can add up to $4,000 to the price of a new car from the manufacturer, but consumers can install it in their current vehicle for half that cost. And with some aftermarket vendors offering interest-free financing, making it even more affordable, there is no need to wait for the government mandate or purchase a brand new vehicle.
Reduce accidents and prevent hikes on insurance premiums. When drivers get into a car accident, they can often expect to pay thousands in insurance surcharges and fees over time on top of repair costs. Avoid these costs by relying on technology that assures a reduction in accidents. Some collision-avoidance vendors are even willing to pay up to 50 percent of your insurance deductible if an accident should occur.
You’re not just surrounded by other drivers when you’re on the road, you’re surrounded by text messages, tweets and apps too. With 80 percent of today’s car accidents caused by driver inattention, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there’s no reason for waiting to take necessary and cost-effective steps to make your car safer.
For more information and tips on how to make your vehicle safer and reduce accidents, call 855-826-4234 or visit safedrivesystems.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
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