Caution is King When It Comes to Winter Driving
(BPT) - With the winter in full swing, ensuring your tires — the last line of defense between your vehicle and harsh conditions — are in working order may be the difference between an enjoyable or stressful travel season. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 17% of all vehicle collisions take place during winter conditions, many of which can be attributed to underinflated, over-worn or out-of-season tires.
“Being on the side of the road due to a preventable vehicle issue is both inconvenient and dangerous,” said Brandon Sturgis, product manager, BFGoodrich Tires. “Before winter arrives, make sure that your car is in its best condition to handle winter weather.”
Below are a few simple tips from BFGoodrich Tires to help ensure your vehicle and tires are better prepared for safe driving this winter.
Tire pressure will change with the weather
Many drivers neglect their tires until it’s too late and experience a tire issue, an inconvenience that only increases during the winter months. To avoid a winter accident caused by unsafe tires, drivers should proactively take measures to maintain their tires. An easy first step is to check the air pressure of all four tires at least monthly. This is especially important during the colder winter months as a drop in temperatures can cause tire pressures to decrease below a vehicle’s recommended inflation levels. To find the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure, look at the decal in the driver’s door jamb or in the owner’s manual.
Checking your tread should be routine
Many drivers try squeezing as much life out of their tires as possible and run them even after the tread has worn below 2/32 of an inch — the minimum tread deemed safe under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. If this is you, be sure to stay honest about checking your tread. To do so, find a penny and insert Abraham Lincoln headfirst into the lowest tread on your tire. If any portion of Abe’s head is covered, your tread depth is sufficient. If Honest Abe is still fully visible, your tread is below 2/32 of an inch and the ability to perform in wet and winter conditions is substantially reduced.
The importance of seasonal tires
Understanding your driving environment is as important as understanding which tires best suit your circumstances. Geography is the most intuitive factor playing into one’s driving environment, but certain locations create a more nuanced experience. Do you know which tires are best for your situation?
For example, all-terrain tires such as the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 are suitable year-round tires designed to give you superior grip both off and on the pavement thanks to innovative tread design, tough sidewalls and long-lasting durability.
If you drive in an environment that is regularly below freezing with snow and ice, winter tires may be your best choice. For those yet to treat their vehicle to winter tires during the cold months, consider the BFGoodrich Winter T/A KSI a good starting point. Offering extreme traction in winter conditions and reassuring steering control and durability, your next set of winter tires may keep you from becoming another winter driving collision statistic.
“Tires play a key role in your winter weather mobility. Knowing what kind of tires you have on your car and knowing their condition are part of being prepared,” says Sturgis.
Parents and caregivers want to keep kids safe in the car, but keeping up with the latest recommendations can be tricky, especially as your child grows and their needs change. It's sometimes hard to know if you're doing everything you can to keep children as safe as possible. Regardless of your child's age and how often they ride with you in the car, you'll want to follow these guidelines to help you find The Right Seat.
(BPT) - Parents and caregivers want to keep kids safe in the car, but keeping up with the latest recommendations can be tricky, especially as your child grows and their needs change. It's sometimes hard to know if you're doing everything you can to keep children as safe as possible.
Regardless of your child's age and how often they ride with you in the car, you’ll want to follow these guidelines to help you find The Right Seat.
1. Under 13? Don't let them sit up front
Whatever a child’s height or weight, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises that children under 13 should never sit in the front seat, even for a short trip. Car safety standards and features like airbags are developed and tested for adult bodies, not the growing body of a child. Air bags can be inflated at speeds of 200-400 mph, which could seriously harm a child if deployed. Most car crashes impact the front of the car, so keeping kids in the back seat can help protect them from injury.
2. Tethers add extra protection
Most forward-facing car seats have tethers to secure them to the vehicle, in addition to using the vehicle’s seat belt or lower anchors. Tethers help keep car seats from pitching forward in a crash, reducing injury to the child’s head and neck. You can find the tether at the top of convertible, combination and all-in-one car seats. They’re adjustable straps that have a hook that connects to your vehicle’s tether anchors. Review your car seat’s instructions and vehicle’s owner manual to identify the correct tether location in your vehicle.
3. Don't move kids on too soon
The best protection for a child in a car is the car seat that’s right for their age and size. According to the most recent NHTSA data, nearly 1 in 10 children between 1 and 3 years old were moved on to booster seats too early. And roughly 1 in 5 children aged 4 to 7 were prematurely moved to just using a seat belt when they should have still been riding in booster seats. Booster seats help a child’s seat belt fit appropriately, which means crossing the center of their chest and not touching their neck.
4. Check car seat recommendations online
Tools and resources are available to help make it easier to check that your child is in the right seat for their age, height and weight. Visit NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat to compare car seats and get helpful installation instructions.
5. Free car seat checks are available
Whether you’ve just installed a new car seat or just want a “checkup” for a seat your child’s been using for a while, you can get help at a car seat inspection station near you. Certified technicians will inspect your car seat free of charge and show you how to correctly install it and make sure your child is properly secured. Find a car seat inspection station near you at NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat.
6. Tweens should always be buckled
According to a 2005 report by the NHTSA, most accidents in urban areas happen under 30 mph. Be consistent and stay firm if your tween or teen resists wearing seat belts. Set safe habits for life, help keep your child safe and obey the law by making sure your child is buckled up every time for every ride, no matter how few miles or how slowly you’re driving.
7. Car seats have expiration dates
Car seats expire, because technology improves and safety standards change. If you buy a used car seat or receive one as a hand-me-down, check it carefully and make sure you know the history and whether or not it has been involved in a crash. Most car seats have an expiration date stamped on the manufacturer’s label on the side or base.
Visit NHTSA.gov/TheRightSeat for more information and to search for a car seat inspection station or event near you.
Just as spring cleaning your house is a habit, so should a spring tune-up for your car, especially before that much-anticipated road trip. Even though more than one in three drivers (37%) say they want to stay on top of car maintenance this year, what many people don’t realize is that the snow, freezing temperatures and salt, as well as potholes that develop as the roads finally thaw, can do a number on your car. Make sure your car is in top shape for any trip with five spring cleaning tune-ups.
(BPT) - Americans are ready for spring weekend getaways and road trips. According to the latest Gauge Index survey from Hankook Tire, most of us are planning an outdoor getaway. The beach (51%) is the top vacation Americans are planning this spring, followed by a national park (39%) for the outdoorsy type and an amusement park (31%) for the thrill seekers.
Just as spring cleaning your house is a habit, so should a spring tune-up for your car, especially before that much-anticipated road trip. Even though more than one in three drivers (37%) say they want to stay on top of car maintenance this year, what many people don’t realize is that the snow, freezing temperatures and salt, as well as potholes that develop as the roads finally thaw, can do a number on your car. Make sure your car is in top shape for any trip with five spring cleaning tune-ups:
1) Check your oil
The survey found that a quarter of Americans would like to learn how to change their oil. While actually changing your oil is a bit more involved, checking oil levels before heading out is just a matter of looking under the hood. To do so, be sure the car is on level ground, let the oil settle for a few minutes, then pull out the dipstick — it usually has a yellow or red handle, but the owner’s manual will direct you where to look. Wipe the dipstick clean, then push it all the way back in, wait a second, and withdraw again. If the oil lands between the two markers, you’re ready to roll. Otherwise it’s time for an oil change.
2) Monitor your air pressure
A quick air check can be the difference between a bumpy road trip and smooth sailing. Begin by driving around for a couple of miles because tires that have been parked for a while won’t have as accurate of a pressure reading. Then remove the valve cap from the tire, place the pressure gauge on the valve stem, and press until the hiss sound disappears and the gauge offers a reading. This reading should match the recommended PSI, which you can find on the driver’s side door jamb or in the owner’s manual. If the reading indicates the tires need air, head to your local tire shop or gas station.
This is also a good time to check all four tires’ treads. Insert a penny with Lincoln’s head facing down — and if his entire head is visible, it’s time to replace your tires. For those who do need new tires, be sure to consider your driving habits and upcoming travel destinations, to ensure a flat tire doesn’t hold up any adventure. If you’re among the 44% of drivers who consider themselves adventurous like an SUV and are heading off the beaten path, consider rugged off-road tires, like the Hankook Dynapro AT2 All-Terrain Tire.
3) Replace your windshield wipers
Snow and ice can really wear down the blades on windshield wipers. Look for cracks, creases or imperfections in the blade’s rubber, or if you notice streaks or grime on your windshield when using the wipers, it’s time to replace! Make sure the washer fluid is topped off by looking at the white, translucent container with a windshield or water symbol on it. Then just remove the cap and check the fluid level in the reservoir so that you’re ready to handle any weather down the road.
4) Update your roadside assistance
Spring is a good time to make sure your roadside assistance plan is up to date — especially for the 42% of drivers behind the wheel of a vehicle six years or older. Be sure your service card is valid to give yourself peace of mind for any trip.
5) Wash your car
Snow and salt can leave a lasting impact, especially within the wheel wells of a car. Give your vehicle a thorough cleaning to prevent any rust or permanent damage. Besides, everyone wants their car to look shiny and clean in those road-trip social media posts as they head out for their spring getaways!
No matter what destination drivers are steering toward this spring, a few quick tune-ups will keep things running smoothly, all season long.
If you are one of the millions of Americans looking to buy a car, here are the five things you need to know before you step foot on a dealer’s lot.
(BPT) - Car buying - It's crucial to know how to navigate what can be an overwhelming and exhausting process.
“USAA helps members find, finance and insure vehicles that are right for their personal needs and financial goals,” says Heather Pollard, vice president of Auto Experience at USAA. “We want to avoid you ever having to regret your purchase decision, or worse, lead to financial hardships where you can no longer afford to keep your vehicle.”
If you are one of the millions of Americans looking to buy a car, here are the five things you need to know before you step foot on a dealer’s lot.
Know what you can afford.
The first and most important question to answer before launching into the car-buying process is “how much can I afford?” Figuring this out will help you determine whether you are in the market for a new or used vehicle. A good starting point is to use 15-18 percent of your take-home pay as a gauge for your total vehicle budget including the loan, insurance, gas and maintenance.
Next decision, how will you pay for it? There are numerous ways to manage the financial burden for purchasing a new car, including taking out a loan. If you have decided to go the loan route, determine how much you can afford in monthly payments. Banks or another financial institution might offer lower interest rates than a car dealer. Aim to pay off the loan within three to five years.
“Get pre-approved for an auto loan amount and interest rate so you know where you stand before you begin shopping,” says Renée Horne, vice president of Consumer Lending at USAA Bank. “Look for low loan rates and flexible terms to fit your budget needs versus being steered by dealers into a decision solely based on monthly payment, which often results in paying more in interest for the overall loan term.”
Another idea is to sell or trade in your new graduate’s current vehicle. If you plan to do this, factor in the cash value of that car and then add your planned down payment, typically 15-20 percent. You can use online tools such as USAA’s Auto Loan Calculator to get an estimate of what the end price tag will be.
Determine the total cost of ownership.
It is important to understand the total cost of ownership before surprising your graduate with the car of their dreams. Everything from gas to auto insurance will be an extra expense added on to the monthly cost for a new or used car and something everyone in the family needs to consider.
When receiving an auto insurance quote, note that collision and comprehensive coverage generally cost less for used cars. If purchasing an older car, consider getting pricing for Extended Vehicle Protection coverage before you go to the dealer.
Keep an open mind.
Once you have established what you can afford and the total cost of ownership, it is time to discover what features and styles you or your teen want in a car. Prioritize a list of the features you would like to see. For the teen in your life, safety is usually at the top. Next, assess how much they will be using this car and what for. Are they commuting to school or a job? Remember to keep an open mind and be flexible — stay open to two or three models that would meet your teen driver’s needs and your or their budget.
Do your research.
Everyone can agree that dealerships can be overwhelming and intimidating. Research your market first. Try the USAA Car Buying Service to see what’s out there and find vehicles that come with exclusive member discounts.
If you are looking into the used car market, always run a background check. You can get a vehicle history report from Carfax, which can help verify ownership history, mileage and accident history. Also, make sure the used vehicle has never been salvaged by entering the vehicle identification number into the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s system.
Go for a test drive.
After picking out a few of your top favorites, it is time to see how the car operates on the real road. Hit the highway to properly gauge a car’s performance, and inspect the car for mileage, tread, etc. If possible, run the car by a trusted mechanic for an under-the-hood inspection to forecast longevity and maintenance needs. Remember, factory warranties usually transfer depending on the mileage.
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.
You can celebrate springtime by spending some time enjoying the fresh outdoor air and showing your car some love ahead of upcoming family vacations and summer road trips with friends. Start with these smart and simple tips to improve your ride.
(BPT) - The colder weather is fleeting, flowers are blossoming and the grass is just a little greener, which means spring is finally here. While most of your time will be spent preparing your home, clothes and family calendars for the warmer weather, it’s important not to forget about your car.
In fact, you can celebrate springtime by spending some time enjoying the fresh outdoor air and showing your car some love ahead of upcoming family vacations and summer road trips with friends. Start with these smart and simple tips to improve your ride:
Freshen up the interior
Interior and exterior cleaning makes a big difference in keeping a car looking and driving its best, but that doesn’t solve odor issues. To finalize spring car prep and maintenance, make sure to use a product that will leave the car smelling as good as it looks. Innovative and discrete vent sticks and mini diffusers from Refresh Your Car! come in a wide variety of scents, like Lemon Lime Sunshine, and are an affordable, long-lasting way to keep a car smelling great!
Clean and protect your interior
The interior, especially leather, is the most used and abused part of a car. Over time, constant use and sun damage can result in you leather interior drying out, causing it to fade, crack and rip. A quick and trusted way to address this issue is to use Lexol Leather Cleaner & Conditioner. The easy two-step process will help clean, restore and protect a car’s interior, keeping it looking and feeling like new.
Check your battery
The colder the weather, the harder a battery and charging system need to work in a car. Start by making sure the battery is mounted correctly and the connections are free from corrosion. Also, consider replacing the battery if it’s older than five years, which will ensure you don’t get stranded out on the road.
Check and replace basic car items
Before heading out on any lengthy adventures, make sure the car is up-to-date on oil changes. During the oil change a technician should also check and replenish other fluids like the brake, transmission, windshield wiper and power steering fluids, as well as your coolant. This often forgotten about maintenance will help a car run smoothly for months to come.
Wash and wax
No matter the season, a car that is driven daily is constantly battling the elements, which can cause damage to its exterior. Washing regularly and waxing at least twice a year is an easy way to keep a car looking its best, protecting it from damaging UV rays, road debris, tree sap and rusting. When washing and protecting, don’t forget about tires and wheels. The Eagle One A2Z All Wheel & Tire Cleaner is an affordable, easy-to-use spray that clings to the dirt on the surface of most wheels and tires, easily removing brake dust, grime and grease; giving your wheels and tires a spotless, professional look.
These simple tips can keep a car clean, fresh and running smoothly throughout the hectic summer driving season.
(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) - As winter progresses, we are likely to see more visibility-reducing weather. Heavy rain, frost, ice and snow can all impair visibility while driving, including reducing the performance of windshield wipers.
Reduced visibility can quickly turn your drive into a stressful situation, especially when you have your precious cargo in the backseat. The notoriously unpredictable weather during the colder months also adds to driver anxiety, with rain and winter weather posing a challenge while behind the wheel. Ultimately, almost 90 percent of driving decisions are based upon vision, according to the official New Jersey Driving Manual, making it a top priority to have properly functioning windshield wipers.
* Inspect regularly: Whether you’re shuttling the kids to practice or running errands, safety is of the utmost importance. A quick maintenance check in your own driveway could help you and your family avoid issues down the road. To make sure windshield wipers are in good condition, check for tears, excessive noise or streaking on the windshield. These are all signs that windshield wipers have reached the end of their lifespan and must be replaced as soon as possible to ensure proper vision.
* Choose wipers for extreme weather: When looking to replace windshield wipers, consider blades that are specially developed to resist cracks from ozone exposure so you’ll have the clearest visibility when driving around town. These windshield wipers will work better in extreme weather while being more durable, providing an even and uniform wipe across the windshield. Bosch ICON beam windshield wipers are one option designed to help sharpen visibility while providing extreme weather safety.
It is important to ensure you are taking the necessary precautions for the best visibility behind the wheel. A simple maintenance check of your windshield wipers will help to keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.
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