(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.
(BPT) - As you drive down the street, the threat of potential distractions is everywhere. Federal research shows that distracted driving is a factor in one out of every six crashes, and accounts for 5,000 automobile crash-related fatalities each year.
While teens are commonly associated with distracted-driving issues — particularly texting — the issue affects drivers of all ages. To help reduce distracted driving crash-related injuries, and loss of life, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Auto Alliance) offer these tips to help drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
* Gear up before you go out. Whether it’s your sunglasses, your Bluetooth(R) earpiece or your favorite hat, putting accessories on before starting your car allows you to keep your hands on the wheel, and not your wardrobe while driving.
* Stop for a bite. A quick bite for lunch should be enjoyed in a restaurant, or your non-moving vehicle, instead of on the go while you're driving. This allows you to take a break, enjoy your food and not worry about spilling beverages on yourself.
* Don’t be afraid to pull over. If another matter begs your attention — such as settling a disagreement between your children — pull the car over to handle the situation properly rather than trying to attend to it while you are driving.
* Have a plan in place. Sometimes this is easier said than done. However, if you are traveling somewhere for the first time, you should understand your route before starting the drive. Program your GPS, or share printed directions with your navigator before you depart.
* Call them back. Cell phone usage is one of the leading causes of distracted driving-related crashes and not all of them are related solely to texting. If your phone rings while you’re in the car and you do not have a hands-free headset already on, let the caller go to voicemail. You can always call them back when you arrive at your destination or your next stop.
* If you don’t need it, store it. Sporting equipment, kids' toys or groceries, your car is the transport home for many things and sometimes those items can jostle back and forth while you're driving — particularly on those sharp turns. And when things start moving, your natural reaction is to take your eyes off the road and reach for them. Instead, secure items in the trunk or in another storage compartment before the drive.
Keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel is one of the most important things you do every single day you choose to drive so be sure to apply the tips above and make driving your No. 1 priority. Your loved ones and those you share the road with will thank you for it. For even more helpful tips and strategies to minimize driving distractions, visit www.decidetodrive.org.
As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road. To help stay safe on the road this winter, follow these four tire safety tips.
4 Tire Safety Tips for Winter
(Family Features) The same temperature you can begin to see your breath – 45° F – is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.
As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.
Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45° F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.
To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts at Discount Tire recommend following these four tire safety tips:
Your safety is important, that’s why Discount Tire encourages drivers to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.
To locate a tire store near you, or search for winter tires specific to your vehicle’s make and model, visit discounttire.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
(BPT) - New to ridesharing? So are most people, both drivers and passengers alike. Ridesharing matches you with a nearby driver who will pick you up and take you where you need to go. Calling a ride is as easy as opening up a ridesharing app and tapping a button; a driver will then arrive within minutes. By using a ridesharing service, you can help your community by reducing traffic, connecting with your neighbors, and keeping your local economy strong.
One major player is Lyft, the fastest-growing on-demand transportation service in the U.S., covering 94 percent of the U.S. population. Once you have the app downloaded, all you need to do is enter a prepayment method, designate your pickup and dropoff location, and you’re set! In just a few minutes your driver will be at your location ready to go. The app allows you to track the location of your driver so you will always know exactly when to be ready, and if you can’t find your driver you can easily send them a text or give them a call.
1. Riding shotgun -- Front seat or backseat? That is entirely up to you! Looking to be social and connect with your driver a little more? The front seat is the place for you. If you prefer a little more solitude, then the backseat might be best. There isn’t a wrong answer — just go with whatever feels right. Here is an easy conversation starter: Drivers often make excellent recommendations if you’re visiting a new city. As a local, they know the hot spots best.
2. Feeling TIPsy? — After a night of socializing, you should rely on ridesharing to get you home safely. And if your driver provided stellar service, got you to your destination in record time or had a sick ride, you might want to tip them for their hard work. Tipping is always optional but always appreciated.
3. Safety first -- Is ridesharing safe? Yes! Ridesharing is a safe and reliable way to get from point A to B with a little help from someone in your community. In fact, 87 percent of Lyft drivers have given a ride to a neighbor. Good thing that companies across the industry are dedicated to safety. For instance, Lyft ensures that every driver is screened before they’re permitted to drive on their platform, starting with professional third-party background and DMV checks. In addition to the background check, Lyft has a dedicated Trust and Safety team on call 24/7.
4. Ride your way — You have another wedding next weekend and you want to arrive in style, but you also want to save a little money on the ride home. Are there options in ridesharing that cover both types of service? Yes! Across the ridesharing industry there are a wide range of options to suit a wide range of needs. If you're looking to save some money, try sharing your ride with someone else. If you have a special date or an important meeting, you can splurge for a luxury black car.
5. Best of both worlds — If you happen to have a qualifying four-door car, you are totally able to use your free time and spare seats to make some extra cash. Driving on a platform like Lyft is great because you can seamlessly switch between rider and driver. Going to that hip area of town that never has parking? Call a ridesharing service! Have a few hours to spare because your mom’s flight is delayed? Open the driver app and make the most of that time.
(BPT) - Mobile phones have become an essential part of life for most people, helping them stay connected and increase productivity. However, this technology can also be a distraction when driving, which puts everyone on the road at risk.
More than one-quarter of all car crashes involve phone use, both with handsets and hands-free, the National Safety Council reports. Considering many states and countries don't yet compile and report data on cellphone use following a crash, this number is likely much higher.
Distracted driving isn't just an issue for young adults. High technology use means this is a problem across generations. For professionals in particular, the expectation to stay productive and reachable means a constant temptation to use cellphones when driving.
Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers across the country have begun implementing distracted-driving policies. Typically, these policies prohibit employees from using mobile phones while driving on company time.
In January 2017, the NSC reported that Cargill was the largest privately held company to prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company. Cargill's Chairman and CEO David MacLennan just marked the one-year anniversary of following the policy.
"I had to try the policy myself first," says MacLennan. "Once I knew what it would take to go completely cellphone free in my car, I could then make it work for our entire company."
Based on his experience, MacLennan offers these six simple steps for anyone looking to eliminate distracted driving yet stay productive and responsive to your job.
1. Auto response
Use a free automated response app to let callers know that you’re driving and can’t take the call. You can personalize the response so incoming calls or texts receive a text message saying you're on the road.
If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.
3. Block drive times
Just as you schedule meetings, use shared calendars to block times you’ll be driving. This alerts anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch.
4. Out of sight, out of mind
A study by AT&T found that 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours where you can’t see or reach it, such as in the back seat.
5. Pull over
If you must take a call while on the road, let it go to voicemail and pull over in a safe location to return the call. Plan pull-over "cellphone stops" along your route if needed.
6. Avoid all distractions
Cellphones aren't the only cause of distracted driving. Eating, grooming and reading are activities people try to tackle while driving. Be smart and simply stay focused on the road.
Driving safely should be everyone's top concern when behind the wheel. These simple steps can make it easier to resist the temptation to pick up the phone or do another activity that can wait until you've arrived, safely, at your destination.
(BPT) - Temps are higher, the days are longer and road trips are planned.
When it comes to getting our cars ready for the road, we habitually adjust our rear-view mirror and double-check fuel levels before putting the car in gear. We sometimes change our engine oil and refill the windshield fluid. Yet we often overlook one of the most important safety features on our vehicles — the tires.
With a little preparation and the right tire maintenance know-how, major issues on the road can be largely avoided. Follow these simple tips to ensure your rubber is ready to meet the road:
1. Choose the right tires for the season.
There are many different tire categories, from ultra-high performance (UHP) tires designed to ensure performance vehicles handle flawlessly at high speeds to highway tires built to provide a smooth, comfortable ride and predictable handling.
It’s important to work with a professional tire technician to decide which tires are best suited for your vehicle and style of driving.
“Today’s tires are available in thousands of fitments providing varying performance, comfort and safety features, making it absolutely necessary to discuss your wants and needs with a knowledgeable tire sales person to ensure you’re getting the desired results,” says Matti Morri, Nokian Tyres technical customer service manager.
For example, a driver looking for balanced performance on varying surfaces — from hot and dry to cool and wet — would be happy with something like the Nokian zLine A/S UHP, designed to perform safely and precisely in variable conditions.
2. Give your tires a once-over for correct air pressure.
One of the easiest ways to extend the life of your tires is to regularly check them for correct air pressure.
Low and uneven inflation will cause a number of problems for your vehicle, including poor handling and reduced comfort, increased
fuel consumption and an overall unsafe driving experience. Tire pressure should be checked once a month and always before longer trips. You should always check tire pressure before hitting the road because driving causes tires to heat up and air pressure to increase. Consult the vehicle’s manual for proper inflation pressures.
3. Check your tread depth.
Tires with inadequate tread are susceptible to poor handling, hydroplaning, reduced gas mileage and more. In fact, tires are considered legally worn out when they reach 2/32 of an inch.
“To ensure your tires will perform safely, it’s crucial to monitor for worn treads,” Morri says. “Nokian Tyres’ products are equipped with Nokian’s Driving Safety Indicator (DSI), which indicates what percentage of tread depth remains, as well as a water drop stamp that disappears when tread is reduced to the point where the risk of hydroplaning is increased.”
Pro tip: A penny and a match are both easy tools to check your tread depth. Stick a penny, facing you, upside down in the tread on multiple spots around the tire. If Lincoln’s head is completely visible, your tread is too worn and you should replace your tires.
Similarly, if you stick the head of a match in your tread and the tip is not completely hidden, your tread is too worn. These are both signs of ultimate worn tread, and you may want to consider new tires before reaching this point.
Before you hit the open road, remember that minor issues can become major roadblocks in the blink of an eye — or turn of the wheel. Take a little extra time to follow these simple tire tips and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is the wind messing up your hair.
The change of seasons is a great time to give your car some special attention to ensure you can confidently roll right through summer. Make the most of your summer on the move with these ideas for style, safety and comfort that make caring for your car a cinch.
Cool Car Care for Summer
(Family Features) Whether you’re hitting the open road for a leisurely cruise or simply spending more time in your car keeping up with a fast-paced summer, you want your vehicle at its best when it comes to safety, style and comfort.
The change of seasons is a great time to give your car some special attention to ensure you can confidently roll right through summer. Start by running through a checklist to ensure your car’s safety features are in good working order. Test headlights, tail lights and turn signals, and check fluid levels, topping off or replacing as needed. Also be sure tires are properly inflated, and inspect seat belts for any imperfections that may hinder performance.
If you’re going to arrive safely, why not go in style, too? Keeping your car sparkling clean not only protects finishes inside and out, it’s the easiest way to make your ride look great. Let your personality show with subtle touches like seat covers or license plate wraps bearing your favorite sports team or college.
And don’t forget comfort. Have visors ready to block harsh sun rays, and be sure your air conditioner is ready to deliver a refreshing blast of cool air. Add an air freshener with a subtle summery scent, and don’t forget to throw a light blanket in the trunk so you’re ready when a cool evening breeze kicks up.
Make the most of your summer on the move with these ideas that make caring for your car a cinch.
Freshen up your ride
Allergens are everywhere. In fact, the air in your car could be up to six times dirtier than the air outside. If you can’t remember the last time you replaced your car’s cabin air filter, pick up a FRAM Fresh Breeze cabin air filter and do some quick and easy DIY — in as little as 15 minutes — to protect your family from breathing dirt, dust and allergens. Visit FRAMFreshBreeze.com for simple instructions and to find the right cabin air filter for your family’s vehicle.
Style that shines
Road trip ready
A road trip is a fun way to enjoy a summer getaway, while providing ultimate flexibility to keep your own schedule and pace. Protect your vehicle and your own safety by following these recommendations from the Car Care Council and complete a thorough pre-trip checklist before hitting the road:
Easy ways to accessorize your ride
Simple accessories can add fun and function to your daily commute or a summertime trek across the state. Keep these auto additions in mind and you’ll be stocked up for wherever the road takes you.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family in car)SOURCE:
FRAM Fresh Breeze
Interested in Publishing on The Auto Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!