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April 2011

April 18, 2011

Maintain the New Car Look

Keep new car look You have a new car, or at least, a newly repainted car. It looks new. I probably even smells new. But soon the new will wear off. That special look and smell will fade, or will they? There are ways to keep a car looking new for a long time.

Waxing a car 30 days after a new or first paint job is important for protecting the paint job from scratches. Waxing can even help restore an old paint job. A new material, called a gloss enhancer, can also be used to add shine and more protection to the paint.

Remember to treat the wax job kindly. Do not use strong detergents to wash your vehicle. Always rinse dirt off of the vehicle before cleaning with a soapy rag. Make sure to use a soft rag; coarse rags can scratch the paint.

Learn about more ways to keep that new car look here.

April 13, 2011

How to Find a Certified Mechanic

National Standards Help Consumers Locate
Qualified Automotive Technicians

Car owners know they should keep their vehicles in good operating condition, but often do not know where to turn or what to look for in a repair shop.

Some choose a repair shop based solely on its convenient location or an advertised special. Not the best move, according to officials with the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, also known as ASE. “Look for the ASE sign,” says Martin Lawson, Editorial Director at ASE. “It indicates the repair shop employs one or more ASE-Certified technician.” According to Lawson, finding a competent auto technician need not be a matter of chance. Much of the guesswork has been eliminated, thanks to a national program conducted by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. “Qualified technicians are the backbone of any repair establishment,” notes ASE’s Lawson.

ASE tests and certifies automotive professionals in all major technical areas of repair and service. With almost 400,000 currently certified professionals, the ASE program is national in scope and has industry-wide acceptance and recognition. ASE-certified technicians and parts specialists can be found at every type of repair facility, from dealerships, service stations, and franchises to parts stores, independent garages, and even municipal fleets.

[Full Story]

April 12, 2011

7 Tips for a Safe Trip to Mexico

While the hot sun, blue waves and white sand make Mexico a tropical paradise, many Americans are scratching any plans for a south of the border getaway because of rising concerns over safety.  However, there are still safe ways to visit Mexico for a carefree vacation.

“You certainly shouldn’t throw caution to the wind, but Manzanillo and many other tourist destinations are still safe places to travel,” says Howard Alper, a property owner in Manzanillo, Mexico.  “The majority of violent crimes are isolated to a few border towns, a thousand miles away.  If the crime rate increased in Los Angeles, would you avoid visiting Chicago?”

To travel wisely, make sure to pack your common sense with the bathing suit and sunscreen and follow these tips for a safe yet relaxing vacation. [7 Tips Here]

April 11, 2011

2011 Dodge Nitro Road Test Review


By Bob Plunkett

We're tracking across a river of sand in a wadi that winds through the California desert, all four 245/50R20 Goodyear Wrangler HP all-season tires scratching for traction in a four-wheeling edition of the Nitro, a boxy-square SUV by Dodge.

Measuring up to the mid-size segment with cabin space for five passengers, Nitro possesses the smooth-riding traits of a car-based crossover wagon as well as the rugged characteristics of a brutish sport-ute capable of taking a cross-country tack over off-road terrain like the sand-coated Borrego wadi.

That unusual combination of attributes -- easy to drive on pavement but also sure-footed off pavement -- makes Nitro a rare vehicle of multiple personalities.

For the 2011 editions Dodge casts Nitro in three different trim editions, each with traction choices of rear-wheel two-wheel-drive (2WD) or part-time four-wheel-drive (4WD) with a system which works when driving on pavement or trekking through dirt, gravel and sandy tracks. [Full Review]

April 08, 2011

Used Cars Finally Get MPG Stickers, the U.S. government’s official source for vehicle fuel economy estimates, has added a new tool to help used car buyers make informed fuel economy decisions. Until now, used car buyers, who outnumber new car buyers by 4 to 1, have not had the benefit of an official fuel economy window sticker.

Now, used car sellers can print a window sticker showing their vehicle’s EPA fuel economy estimate to display on their vehicle. The database supporting the new tool includes all vehicle models sold in the United States since 1984. 

Consumers may not know that a vehicle’s fuel economy changes very little over the course of a typical 15-year life, provided it is properly maintained. As a result, the EPA fuel economy estimate remains a good indicator of a used vehicle’s average gas mileage. [Full Story]

April 07, 2011

Motion Skills for Teen Drivers

Motion Skills 1

Inspired by Every Parents' Worst Nightmare

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths in America, and with all of the distractions teens experience today, the number of accidents is destined to rise. This alarming statistic sparked Kris Rolfson and his wife, Christy Rolfson to do something about this tragic reality, so they set out to create a beacon of hope for parents and teen drivers. Through pure passion and determination, Motion Skills was born.

Kris Rolfson, CEO and founder of Motion Skills, was inspired by every parent's nightmare, when his son was able to get behind the wheel of his car after only completing a simple multiple choice driving test. Kris realized his son had absolutely no knowledge in regards to driving, beyond having memorized the answers to state laws and basic driving rules. Though his son knew the basic rules of the road, the multiple choice test did not prepare him to handle a multi-ton automobile in traffic on an open road. The main focus for Kris is to save lives by teaching skills that address the most frequent types of accidents today’s teen drivers are involved in. Motion Skills hopes to be another voice of reason that stresses the importance of being able to handle common driving distractions.

While Kris spent many years as an engineer in San Diego, he always found time to race go-karts and cars, both off-road and motocross. For the past eight years he’s focused teaching in public schools and as a youth minister at his church. His wife Christy has worked in the bio tech industry for the past twenty years. Together, they have two children. Christy noted that “Kris’ years teaching in public school and youth ministry provides the knowledge to connect with teens and to be an effective instructor when it comes to classroom education, comprehension and retention.” [Full Story]

April 06, 2011

2011 Acura ZDX Coupe Test Drive

Acura zdx

By Bob Plunkett

Acura describes its 2011 ZDX as a "four-door coupe" because the silhouette resembles a rakish two-door GT coupe with hatchback styling but a four-door package with cleverly concealed rear door handles.

It looks like the car stylists at Acura worked a sleek and edgy hatchback treatment on Acura's boxy five-door crossover utility vehicle (CUV), the MDX.

And so they did, as the front-wheel-drive (FWD) platform of MDX supports the slick aerodynamic structure of the ZDX which has four flank doors like a sedan and flexible seating in a plush leather-lined cabin plus 56 cubic feet of cargo space in the aft bay with access through a tail-side liftgate.

ZDX's body measures almost an inch longer but more than five inches lower at the roofline than MDX, although it shares the CUV's 108-inch wheelbase length.

Standing several inches higher off the pavement than the typical coupe or sedan for better clearance of bumpy-road obstacles, the ZDX lists as standard equipment the spry wheel control of Acura's SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive) equipment.

The computer-managed SH-AWD system can disburse the powertrain's torque not only to wheels fore and aft but the left or right ones too. It's always engaged and enables the vehicle to maneuver on wet or dry pavement with uncanny agility. [Full Story]

April 05, 2011

Top 10 Spring Weekend Getaways

The snow has melted and there's a hint of warmth and the scent of blooming buds in the air.  For a quick weekend jaunt to get a head start on spring, editors have compiled its annual Top 10 Quick Spring Break Getaways - from the Caribbean to California.  This year's picks are a just a quick flight from many U.S. cities.

Antigua and Barbuda
Constant trade-winds and idyllic harbors make these island coasts a perfect boating destination and attract a mélange of sailors, yachters, and admirers. However, on-land pursuits are just as appealing with 365 sugar-white-sand beaches and historical attractions on Antigua, and fabulous resorts, pink-and-white shell beaches, and untouched Caribbean life found on Barbuda. 

Asheville, North Carolina
This emerging destination has it all for both nature-lovers and those seeking arts and culture.  Asheville offers a thriving downtown arts scene complete with lively cultural offerings and delightful Art Deco-influenced buildings - all surrounded by the majestic Smoky Mountains bursting with spring's lively palette of wildflowers. Plus, beautiful Myrtle Beach is just an hour away. [For All 10 - Click here]

April 04, 2011

What Not to Wear to Your Dude Ranch Vacation

You’re looking forward to a week of riding in the wide open spaces, the feeling of freedom, fresh air on your face and the sounds of wildlife all around you. Instead you find yourself extremely uncomfortable and unable to truly embrace all that’s around you. And, it’s all because of the clothing you’ve packed! Yes, you do look spectacular; however, your comfort is majorly suffering!

Over the years everyone has told you what TO wear on your dude ranch vacation, but has anyone ever told you what NOT to wear? With first-hand experience, Top50 Ranches is here to alert you of What NOT to Wear on your dude ranch vacation - for your safety AND your comfort. We hope to amuse you and enlighten you! [Read Tips]