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November 29, 2011

Do You Need a Four-Wheel Drive Vehicle?

Do You Need a Four-Wheel Drive?
by Cameron Sloane

When purchasing a new car, you have many options to choose from, including four-wheel drive (4WD). Although cars with four-wheel drive offer performance benefits – namely, better traction on slippery roads – they’re more expensive. So, before you pay for this feature, make sure it’s necessary for the conditions you’ll be driving in.

What is four-wheel drive?
Most vehicles are equipped with two-wheel drive, meaning that the engine powers either the front or rear wheels. With 4WD, the engine can power all four wheels. This reduces the risk that you’ll lose control of your vehicle if any of your wheels lose traction. Four-wheel-drive systems are most useful in conditions when it’s difficult for your tires to grip the road – like snow. 
           
Weighing the costs of four-wheel drive
Four-wheel drive typically adds between $1,500 and $4,000 to a vehicle’s purchase price. In addition to a higher upfront cost, a car with 4WD also has higher ownership costs. Four-wheel-drive systems generally weigh between 500 and 1,000 pounds, which makes the vehicle less fuel efficient. In addition to higher fuel costs, you should take into account the extra expense of maintaining a 4WD system. Replacing or repairing your tires and brakes, both of which tend to wear faster on vehicles with four-wheel drive, can also add to your maintenance costs. If you live in an area with severe winters, the cost of a 4WD vehicle may be worth it, but in areas with mild winters four-wheel drive usually isn’t necessary. Full Article

October 28, 2011

How to Choose Best Driving School for Your Teen

How to Choose a Reputable Driving School for Your Teen

Driver's Ed Alone is Not Enough to Keep Your Teen Safe

Choosing a driving school for your teen can be a difficult decision. Use the following tips to find a reputable driver’s education course to help prepare your teen to get behind the wheel.

Get recommendations
If your teen’s high school doesn’t offer a driver’s education course, ask if they recommend a local driving school. Also check with friends, family and neighbors to see if they have recommendations for a first-rate driving school. Contact your state’s department of motor vehicles for a list of state-certified local schools.

What to look for
Look for a driver’s education course that encourages parent involvement. Some schools invite parents to attend the first class and provide regular updates on your teen’s progress throughout the course.

Find out if the driving school offers supervised lessons on a variety of road types and driving conditions so your teen can gain behind-the-wheel experience driving in different situations.

Ask about the condition of the cars your teen will be driving: Are they regularly maintained? Are all safety features in working order? Do the tires have good tread left on them?  Full story here.

October 21, 2011

How to Drive More Efficiently

Drive Sensibly
frustrated driverAggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.

Fuel Economy Benefit:

5–33%

Equivalent Gasoline Savings:

$0.18–$1.20/gallon

Observe the Speed Limit
Graph showing MPG VS speed MPG decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph
While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.
You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.29 per gallon for gas.
Observing the speed limit is also safer.

Fuel Economy Benefit:

7–23%

Equivalent Gasoline Savings:

$0.26–$0.84/gallon

Remove Excess Weight

Excess items in trunk
Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2 percent. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle's weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.

Fuel Economy Benefit:

1–2%/100 lbs

Equivalent Gasoline Savings:

$0.04–$0.07/gallon

Full story - click here.

 

October 17, 2011

How to Prepare Your Car for Safe Winter Driving

What's a buyer to do? To help answer that question, RTM presents its 2012 Green Car Buyer's Guide with various ecologically sensitive, fuel efficient vehicles on the market today without mortgaging one's future in the process. Other reasons to consider a hybrid vehicle purchase are auto insurance rate discounts. Check out these great discounts on hybrid vehicles.

Car Care MonthYou're heading down the highway anxious to get home. Suddenly you hear cling clang, putter sputter. Your car is skipping beats and spitting liquid. Your adrenaline spews. Your only choice is to pull over on the dark freeway. Now what?

If you're a man, this is a major inconvenience. If you're a woman, this could be terrifying, perhaps even life-threatening. No matter who you are, you've just become a sitting duck. Whether you work on the problem or wait for help to arrive, your time on the side of the road now makes you susceptible to the dark side of humanity.

Can this be avoided? In most cases, yes, which is why GM Goodwrench has declared October Car Care Month, an awareness campaign created to focus attention on the importance of car care and maintenance, especially for those living in states that have drastic seasonal changes. Full Story.

Road & Travel Magazine's 2012 Green Car Buyer's Guide, click here.

October 03, 2011

U.S. & Canadian Towns with Highest Speed Traps

U.S. & Canadian Cities with Highest Speed Traps


The National Motorists Association (NMA) released a list of 25 cities with the highest number of reported speed trap locations over the past two years. The speed trap sites were posted by the public on the NMA's National Speed Trap Exchange.

The drivers' rights organization hopes that motorists safely anticipate, rather than suddenly react to, ticketing operations known as speed traps. Speed traps are characterized by arbitrarily low speed limits and heavy traffic enforcement. Motorists should be alert in those areas to avoid receiving citations.

The Speed Trap Exchange identifies the specific locations of thousands of chronic speed traps in the United States and Canada. Information about each listing is enhanced by commentary from motorists who have encountered the police operations.

The following cities had the most reported speed traps since September 1, 2009. They are ranked by speed traps per 100,000 residents (per the 2010 census).

Speed traps per 100,000 residents - Is your town one of them? Click here to find out!

September 14, 2011

Is Your Car College Ready?

Vehicle Maintenance 101

Brought to you by Car Care Council

It’s easy for college students to remember to get new clothes, school supplies and dorm and apartment furniture, but what about preparing the car that’s going to haul all that stuff? The Car Care Council reminds students and their parents not to overlook Vehicle Maintenance 101.

“Making sure the college-bound vehicle gets a passing grade will give both the student and their parents peace of mind for the drive back to school and the first semester of bombing around,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “It’s always a good idea to inspect a vehicle and have any repairs done near home, at a familiar repair shop”.

The Car Care Council recommends that the following items be checked before hitting the road:

•  Tires and tire pressure
•  Hoses and belts
•  Air filters
•  Wipers
•  Exterior and interior lighting
•  Fluid levels, including engine oil, power steering, brake, transmission, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant

In addition, a 21st century tune-up should also be performed, which includes inspecting the following systems: battery, charging and starting; engine mechanical; power train control; fuel; ignition; and emissions. To learn more, view the Car Care Council’s “21st Century Tune-Up” video. MORE INFO

August 08, 2011

Defensive Driving Tips

Defensive Driving Tips

Defensive Driving Tips: Stay Safe on te Road & Save with Car Insurance Discounts

It’s easy to jump in the car and hit the road without thinking too much about it, but driving is a big responsibility and a lack of attention can get you into trouble. You should always practice defensive driving when you’re on the road. To drive defensively, you should anticipate the behavior of other drivers and pedestrians around you. In other words, you should always think two steps ahead. Because defensive driving is the key to avoiding accidents.

Here are some fundamental defensive driving techniques.

1. Check your ego at the door.
One of the biggest barriers to defensive driving is that many, if not most, drivers think they are good drivers and everyone else makes mistakes. No one is invincible, so drive with caution.

2. Continually scan the road.
Rather than just looking straight ahead, scan the sides of the road too. If you’re driving on city streets, take notice of parked cars and pedestrians. If you’re traveling on rural roads, watch for animals that may dart in front of you.

3. Leave a two-second gap.
Tailgating may be the easiest way to have an accident. To make sure you have enough room to safely stop, pick a landmark on the side of the road and adjust your speed to arrive at that landmark two seconds after the car ahead of you passes it. [Read Full Article]

August 01, 2011

How to Escape a Sinking Car

How to Escape a Sinking Car

How to Escape a Car Sinking in Water

What would you do if your car plunged into a body of water?

If you're like a super-spy like James Bond," you really don't need to worry. After all, you're trained for this kind of thing...and you're a genius.

But what about us normal folk? Since watching a recent nail-bitingly intense spy movie where our favorite spy is stuck in a sinking vehicle, we wondered what average drivers like us should do to escape such a situation.

First things first: pop your seatbelt. You'd be surprised how many people end up dying because they panic...and forget that they're still buckled in.

Next, if you can, roll down the windows immediately although not likely electric windows will work in water but if still floating above water, rolldown the window as fast as possible. An open side window is your first means of escape. This is when those of us with manual roll-down windows are thanking our lucky stars -- if you've got automatic windows, you must act fast. In most cars with automatic windows, the motor that powers the window is located halfway up the car door. Once water hits it, you won't be able to roll down your windows and will have to find another means of escape. [Full story]

July 28, 2011

Sharing the Road With Authorized Vehicles

Sharing the Road with Authorized Vehicles

Driving Safety Tips: Sharing the Road with Authorized Vehicles

Driving laws differ by state, but some rules of the road apply nationwide. Some of these pertain to sharing the road with police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, school busses and funeral processions. These vehicles change the rules of the road, and it’s important to respond correctly and safely when you encounter them.

1. Pull over for emergency vehicles.
Encountering police cars, ambulances and fire trucks on the road is fairly common. When one of these vehicles approaches at a high rate of speed with lights and sirens, it’s important to move out of the way quickly and safely for two reasons. First of all, you don’t want to obstruct the vehicle’s path. Secondly, you will receive a ticket and face penalties if you don’t obey these traffic laws. Check with your state on specifics, but in general, here are the rules of the road you should follow when you spot an emergency vehicle showing lights and sirens.

• Pull over to the right side of the road and come to a complete stop. If you’re on a multi-lane road, get as far right as you can. It may not be possible due to traffic congestion to move all the way to the right. The same rule applies whether you are on a road or highway.

• If you see an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road with lights flashing, change lanes to move as far away from the vehicle as possible. You must also slow down. All but three states (Hawaii, Maryland & New York) require you to react this way to a stopped emergency vehicle. [Full story]

July 26, 2011

The Cost of Human Life from Texting While Driving

Cost of Texting While Driving by Keith Jensen

By Keith Jensen, CMO of Plymouth Rock Assurance

Distracted driving – particularly, using a cell phone while driving – has unfortunately emerged as the most dangerous habit of drivers across the country. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 6,000 people died on the roads in 2009 at least in part because of the use of electronic devices such as smart phones and cell phones. I’ve seen this dangerous behavior first hand here in Massachusetts, where, for example, several subway trains experienced crashes as a result of conductors using their phones while operating the trains, resulting in at least one fatality and multiple injuries.

Drivers who text are distracted, slower to respond, cannot watch the road carefully and do not have full control of the vehicle. In fact, many states including my home state, Massachusetts, have passed legislation that completely bans texting while driving and eliminates all cell phone use for younger drivers. I’m glad to see that many lawmakers are more informed about the real dangers cell phone use poses to drivers, passengers and pedestrians.  Emphasis is put on safety first by passing the bill into law.

I wanted to share with you a few tips that are helpful in avoiding distracted driving behavior.  While it is imperative that you completely avoid using your cell phone while driving altogether, these tips will make you aware of the other forms of distracted driving that will remove your attention from the road.

[Full story]