Ten Tips For Warm-Weather Driving

(NAPSI)-If you aren’t diligent about preparing your vehicle for the warm-weather driving season, you might be saying goodbye to cruising down the open road…and saying hello to waiting for a tow truck in 95-degree heat.

“The summer season is one of the best times to get out and explore the open road, but before you do, make sure your vehicle is ready,” says Jim MacPherson, who writes for the Hartford Courant, has served as an expert on cars and driving for Inside Edition and hosts a car-care radio show on WTIC-AM in Connecticut. “After taking your vehicle in for a routine inspection, a simple inspection of your tires, engine fluids, belts and hoses can help you avoid expensive repairs.”

Don’t let an unexpected breakdown ruin your trip. Following these tips can help you prepare for the heat:

1. Cooling system-When your engine is cold, check your coolant and make sure your radiator fins have not been clogged by dirt or debris. Be sure to keep fingers away from the electric cooling fan while doing this and never remove the radiator cap if the engine is warm. In addition to coolant, keep an eye on the oil level and the fluids for power steering, brakes and transmission.

2. Temperature gauge-If your temperature gauge moves into the red zone or the high-temperature warning light goes on, pull over to a safe location and stop your engine. Do not open the radiator cap. Driving a car while the engine is overheated can cause serious damage.

3. Oil-When the temperatures are high, you need oil that provides extra protection for your engine. A fully synthetic oil such as Mobil 1 makes a good choice; it’s designed to protect your engine at any temperature and provides fuel economy benefits. Fuel economy grades provide excellent fuel savings compared to higher viscosity grade oils. (For more information about Mobil 1, go to www.mobiloil.com.)

4. Belts and hoses-Inspect all belts and hoses, looking for signs of wear, such as blistering or cracks in the rubber. If they show signs of wear, replace them now.

5. Tires-In high heat, under-inflated tires are more likely to blow out. Once a month, check the pressure of all tires. To find the correct pressure rating for your vehicle, look inside the driv-er’s doorframe or your owner’s manual.

6. Windshield wipers-The rubber on your wiper blades is susceptible to the summer heat. Examine your blades, and if they show signs of wear, invest in a new set.

7. Battery-Hot weather can shorten the life of your vehicle’s battery. Inspect the battery and battery cables for corrosion, cracks and dirt. Many service centers can check the condition of the battery and charging system. If the battery is weak, replace it.

8. Lights-Check your headlights on low and high beam, as well as your brake lights, turn signals, side marker lights and emergency flashers. If you’re towing anything, check your connections to ensure your trailer lights are working properly.

9. Vehicle exterior-Wash your vehicle regularly to preserve the finish. After it has dried, apply a coat of wax to the exterior to protect the surface.

10. Emergencies-Keep an emergency kit in your trunk with some basic items in case your vehicle breaks down. Be sure to include a quart of oil, a gallon of drinking water, jumper cables, windshield washer fluid, basic tools, gloves, a flashlight with some spare batteries and a first aid kit.

“Avoid getting burned by a costly breakdown,” says MacPherson. “Take care of your vehicle now, and it will be more reliable.”

For more information on vehicle maintenance, visit www.mobiloil.com.

Before You Hand Over the Keys: Teaching Your Teen to Drive

By Adam Eisenson*

As every parent’s stomach knows, teen drivers are very much at risk. In our
neck of the woods, it seems like every high school student attends at least one classmate’s car-related funeral.

In fact, car accidents are the #1 killer of our children. Nationwide,
there were 5,400 such funerals in 1993. Another 519,000 teens sustained
injuries … some quite serious.

Over 40% of drivers get their first traffic citation, or are involved
in an accident during their first year of driving. Yet most Driver’s
Ed courses are way underfunded, and teens rarely get the 25 to 45
hours of behind-the-wheel training that experts recommend.

Chances are, you learned to drive from your parents … not from trained
instructors. Now it’s your turn. (Some things never seem to change.)
Will you have the patience and skill for the process?

What’s a parent to do?

Our research on training teens to be safe drivers, turned up little
of value either in print or on video. But we persevered, and have
compiled these life saving tips:

1. Monkey see, monkey do. The best teaching has always been
and always will be by example. After years of watching you violate
every rule of the road, why should your child take your “safety”
instructions seriously?

If your kids have been observing a careful, considerate driver, they’re
ahead of the game. If not, it’s time to get your own act together
… before they develop your bad habits.

2. There’s one! Point out drivers who are tailgating, changing
lanes without signaling, losing their cool, slamming on the brakes,
and so on. Make sure to also accentuate the positive … drivers who
know what they’re doing. Make a game out of spotting the good, the
bad, and the idiots.

3. Space — the fatal frontier. Teens are three times as
likely as adults to be involved in rear-end collisions. Therefore,
it’s vital that your child tune in to the “safety zone” between
cars — and how that distance should vary with speed and weather.
Current thinking is that you should allow 3 seconds between yourself
and the car you’re following. When that car passes a marker … perhaps
a sign or utility pole … start counting one one-thousand, two one-thousand
… . If you pass the pole before you’ve completed three one-thousand,
you’re too close. Back off!

4. Hidden dangers. New drivers need to know that blind spots
lurk on both sides of every car. A good way to teach your teens about
these invisible danger zones is to walk completely around a parked
car while your new driver tries to follow you in the mirrors. There’s
nothing like not seeing something with your own eyes, even when you know it’s there. Try it!

5. Terrain training. Explain that you have to accelerate when
climbing a hill … and really work to keep your speed steady when
heading down.

6. “But everybody’s speeding!” Studies show that most drivers exceed the speed limit. Still, discourage your young ‘un from developing a “lead foot.” Otherwise, flashing lights will almost certainly appear … maybe on an ambulance. Speed kills!

7. Cover to cover. You and your teen should read your state’s
driving manual. We asked each state to send us one, and 31 responded.
While none read like Gone With the Wind, they all presented
the basics. It’ll be a good refresher and update for you, and a vital
introduction for your teen.

8. Mañana. Before heading out for a lesson, make sure you’re both in the right frame of mind. If either of you is angry, tired, or “not in the mood,” the lesson is doomed to failure. Do it another time.

9. Start slow. Begin with practice sessions of 15 to 20 minutes.
Stop if your teen gets upset, or if you get testy. Gradually lengthen
your sessions up to an hour during the day. Don’t practice in heavy
traffic, bad weather, or at night … until you both feel “ready.”

10. “But you said to turn!” Tell your teen where to do something before you say what to do. For example, say “When you get to the next corner, turn right.” Or else a nervous new driver might turn immediately.

Speaking of “right,” take it out of your vocabulary except for turns. Use the word “correct,” instead, so there’s no confusion about when you mean “go right.” Watch how you use the word “stop,” too. Unless it’s a dire emergency, try saying “bring the car to a stop,” rather than “STOP!” You don’t want to panic the new driver.

Another helpful expression — and one that’s absolutely confusion-proof
— is “great job!” Say it often.

11. Join the Kissinger school of driving … watch how you say things. “I’d feel better if you’d give that car in front of you a little more room,” will almost certainly be better received than “How many times do I have to tell you to stop tailgating? You’re gonna get us killed!”

12. Surprise! Train teens to watch out for drivers exiting directly
into traffic from a parked car — and for cars pulling out suddenly.
Teach them the clues: lit brake and reverse lights or turn signals,
smoke coming out of exhaust pipes, and/or someone in the driver’s
seat.

Two other likely surprises are pedestrians — especially children
— and animals darting into the road. It only takes a fraction
of a second to end a life.

13. Head straight to turn left.Teens are five times as likely
as their elders to get into left-turn accidents. So it’s especially
important that young drivers be wary of the left, behind the wheel
at least. Teach yours to stop or slow down (as required), look all
ways carefully, and keep the wheels straight, until it’s safe
to go — otherwise a tap from behind could push the car into oncoming
traffic.

14. Play 20 questions. Once your teen has the basics down pat,
ask questions about what’s going on around you. For example, without
looking in the rear-view mirror, can your child describe the car behind
you? On your left? Does your teen know how fast s/he’s driving, or
how much gas is left in the tank? Would you?

15. On the night before … put your teen through a simulated
driving test. Can you remember yours? I remember all 3 of mine! Now’s
your chance to be as tough, gruff, and directive as you want.

16. Go over it again and again. I know they’ve heard it before
but it bears repeating: drivers aged 16 to 19 who’ve had just 1 or
2 drinks are seven times more likely to be killed than sober drivers
of any age. At 3 to 4 drinks, they’re 40 times more likely to be killed.

Example really counts here. If you’re “perfectly fine” after
a few drinks (you’re not!), your child will incorrectly believe the
same. Work out strategies together for dealing with situations that
involve drinking.

At a minimum, let your child know that you’ll play chauffeur at any hour — no questions asked. And make sure they’ll reciprocate, by coming to where you’ve been partying — anytime you call — to safely drive you home!

17. Listen to the new driver. Once they have their licenses, young drivers are perfectly happy to tell you everything you’re doing wrong. Listen to them, keep discussing defensive driving, and remember all the mistakes you made soon after pocketing your license. The life you save may be mine … or your own.

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Safety Tips For Teen Drivers

“While adults drive to get somewhere, teens often see driving as a social event.”

(NAPSI)-Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death of teenagers and young adults. One National Highway Safety Administration study indicated that 16- to 24-year-old drivers accounted for 25 percent of all traffic deaths. However, parents can help their teenagers stay safe behind the wheel in a number of ways.

“While adults drive to get somewhere, teens often see driving as a social event,” explains Jim Kaster, CPCU, an expert with the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Society. “That attitude can contribute to the likelihood of a crash. But there are ways parents can help.” He offers these tips to help parents keep their teens safe behind the wheel:

• Limiting distractions is a key factor in driving safely. This should include no cell phone usage while driving as this is as dangerous as drunk driving. The list of potentially dangerous distractions also includes teenage passengers, iPods, eating food and putting on makeup.

• Consider the maturity of your teen. Not all teenagers should receive their license the minute they become eligible. Not getting a license at age 16 is not the end of the world. Remember that teens mature at different ages.

• Teens tend to learn driving habits by observing their parents and, as a result, we become the behind-the-wheel role model for our teen long before he or she reaches driving age. If the parent drives fast and reckless, what is this telling the young driver?

• The fact that your teenager received a driver’s license does not mean he or she has become an expert. The more parents stay involved, teaching and encouraging good habits, the more they lower risk. Parents should set clear rules and consequences and stick with them.

• Create ownership in the vehicle they drive by having them pay half or all of the cost of insurance, gas or maintenance.

Robin K. Olson, CPCU, an employee of the International Risk Management Institute, Inc. (IRMI), and a CPCU Society member says that supporting a statewide graduated drivers licensing (GDL) system could help, too. The system, already in place in a number of states, requires a teen to pass through three driving stages before an unrestricted license is issued. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, GDL laws have reduced automobile accidents involving young drivers.

To find an insurance agent who has the CPCU designation, visit www.cpcusociety.org and access the Agent & Broker Locator-a database of CPCU Society members searchable by location or company. You can also call (800) 932-CPCU to learn more.

It Can Be Easier Than You Think To Cut Motor Vehicle Costs

(NAPSI)-The cost of vehicle ownership is increasing and now more than ever, it’s important to find ways to stretch your fuel budget. According to a new survey from Shell, 78 percent of drivers believe it is possible to increase fuel economy by following driving and vehicle maintenance tips; however, four out of 10 drivers are not using the tips available. Eighty-one percent of Americans say they are interested in doing anything they can to stretch their fuel budgets. Here are some tips from Shell on how to stretch your driving dollar:

• Drive smoothly, avoiding heavy acceleration or braking. Speeding, rapid acceleration and braking can lower your gasoline mileage by 5 percent at lower speeds around town and by 33 percent at higher highway speeds.

• Replace dirty or clogged air filters. Replacing a dirty or clogged air filter with a clean one can improve gasoline mileage by as much as 10 percent. Your car’s air filter can protect your engine from impurities.

• Keep your engine well-tuned and repair any problems immediately. If your car has failed an emissions test or is noticeably out of tune, repairing the problem could improve your gasoline mileage by 4 percent on average.

• Make sure your tires are at the correct pressure and not over- or underinflated. Proper air pressure cuts down on fuel used while driving. Keeping tires at the correct pressure can improve your gasoline mileage by about 3.3 percent.

• Check your vehicle gas cap. About 17 percent of the vehicles on the road have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.

• Keep your car servied. Replace worn spark plugs. A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat, electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug causes misfiring, which wastes fuel.

• Minimize vehicle drag. Keep your trunk and back seat clear of unnecessary items that only add weight. Removing excess weight can improve your gasoline mileage.

• Use cruise control on major roads and in free-flowing traffic. Maintaining a constant speed can improve gasoline mileage.

• Avoid idling. When you idle, you get 0 miles per gallon.

• Avoid higher speeds. Gasoline mileage usually decreases when driving at speeds over 60 mph.

• Plan your outings to avoid separate trips. Combine your errands into one outing to avoid short separate trips. This helps avoid unnecessary cold starts and keeps your car’s engine running warm and more efficiently.

• Reward yourself by using a rebate credit card. Choosing the right card can help you save money at the pump. For instance, the Shell Platinum MasterCard® from Citi® Cards offers a 5 percent rebate on Shell gasoline purchases and a 1 percent rebate on all other purchases. At the national average of $2.91 per gallon for regular- grade gasoline, cardholders earn 14 cents per gallon back on their gasoline purchases.

“We all want to be more fuel efficient, and incorporating Shell FuelStretch principles into your daily routine is an easy way to get the most out of every gasoline purchase,” says Shell Engineer and ASE-Certified Technician, Mark Ferner.

To find more program tips and information, visit www.shell.com/us/fuelstretch.

Provided by Shell Oil Products U.S.

As part of the “Be Car Care Aware” education campaign, the Car Care Council offers a free service interval schedule to help take the guesswork out of what vehicle systems need to be routinely inspected and when service or repair should be performed.

The schedule can be printed at www.carcare.org.

How to Get Better Fuel Economy

by Mark Salem

(NAPSI)-Poor fuel economy can put a costly damper on any summer vacation taken in the family vehicle. But there are a few simple things you can do to enhance your fuel economy no matter what type of vehicle you drive, which means you’ll buy less gas and have more money to enjoy the summer.

Let’s go through a few ideas that are proven to improve your fuel economy.

Get the junk out of the trunk. I own an auto-repair facility, and you’d be amazed at the amount of stuff I find in trunks of cars these days. I’ve seen junk in the trunk of cars equivalent to a full-size man. Why haul the dead weight? Remove unnecessary winter supplies such as bags of salt and tire chains from the trunk of your vehicle. Get that bag of old newspapers to the recycling bin. Your vehicle will require less energy to move without the dead weight. So ask yourself if you really need to be transporting around that card table, set of golf clubs or storage container, and unload any unnecessary items from your trunk.

Keep air in your tires. Remember what it was like riding your bike as a child with half-flat tires? It was hard to get the bike moving. Once you inflated the tires, your bike was like a new sports car; it went faster with far less effort. Your car feels the same pain when the tires are at, say, 28 psi instead of the recommended 35 psi. (Just to be clear: Not every tire should be inflated to 35 psi. Look for the recommended psi rating on a label on your driver’s door or in the glove box.)

Use the right motor oil for your vehicle. I can’t overstate the importance of using good motor oil. To illustrate what I mean, try a little exercise. Take your hands and place them together with palms touching. Then rub the palms against each other quickly. Feel that warmth generated by friction? That’s exactly what is happening inside your engine. If you rubbed your hands together like that for an hour, you’d probably do some damage to your hands (which means you can stop rubbing your palms together now). And you’d also have to work much harder to rub your hands together.

Now you know why motor oil is so important to the efficient performance of your engine. If you put motor oil between those two sliding surfaces, a lot of that friction goes away, and the engine doesn’t have to work as hard. As a result, your engine is more fuel efficient.

But not every motor oil is created equal. Some last longer than others. While certain motor oils may lose their effectiveness after a few thousand miles, others are designed to last for a very long time. ExxonMobil makes an oil, Mobil 1 Extended Performance, that is actually guaranteed to protect and perform for up to 15,000 miles.

Keep your vehicle clean. Believe it or not, that layer of dirt on your exterior creates drag that, over long distances, hurts your miles-per-gallon count. Keeping your vehicle washed and waxed will improve your vehicle’s aerodynamics, improving your fuel economy. And you’ll feel good about driving around in a clean vehicle.

Consider the best option for ventilation. Conventional wisdom says that cars are always more fuel-efficient when the air conditioner is off. On long trips or highway driving, however, using the air conditioner is actually more fuel efficient than rolling down the windows. When driving fast, open windows create a drag that forces the engine to work harder to maintain speed. If you’re driving on short trips or in city traffic, roll down the windows and enjoy the breeze, but on the highway, turn on the air.

For more information about car care, visit www.mobiloil.com.


Mark Salem is the host of “Under the Hood,” a car-care show on KTAR 620 AM in Phoenix. He is an ASE Certified Master Technician and the owner of Salem Boys Auto, an auto-repair facility in Phoenix.

Mark Salem, ASE Certified Master Technician

Fuel-Saving Suggestions

(NAPSI)-If going to the gas station fuels your concerns these days, you’re not alone. Many factors have caused gasoline prices to fluctuate, including rising global demand for crude oil, tighter supplies and instability in some major oil-producing nations.

The good news: Automakers are working to squeeze more miles out of a gallon of fuel and still meet customers’ demands for powerful, fully equipped vehicles. The average vehicle today is 900 pounds heavier and twice as powerful as an early ’80s model.

According to one major American car company, the best way to save the most fuel and preserve performance is to combine advanced technologies into larger, higher-fuel-using vehicles. These include:

• Active Fuel ManagementTM, a technology developed by GM, which automatically lets the engine run on half of its cylinders when full power is not needed, such as at a stop light.

• Six-speed transmissions, which save fuel and boost performance because of their wider gear ratio spread.

Besides making more vehicles that get 30 mpg or better on the highway, GM can help us reduce the use of gasoline and greenhouse gas emissions. GM is a leader in producing vehicles that run on E85 ethanol, a fuel mix of 85 percent U.S.-produced, renewable, grain-based ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

Nearly 2 million of these are now on sale or on the road. E85 helps promote U.S. energy independence because for every 20 gallons of E85 fuel used, 17 of those are ethanol and only three are gasoline. More stations are selling E85, and more ethanol producers are getting into the business.

The carmaker’s hybrid vehicles include the Saturn Vue Green Line (available this summer) and the Saturn Aura Green Line, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon Two-mode Hybrid, all available next year.

You can save fuel by carpooling and combining errands, and following these tips:

• Drive the speed limit to save fuel and your driving record. Higher speeds force your car to overcome more wind resistance, which eats more fuel. Every 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional 21 cents per gallon for gas.

• Aggressive driving can cut gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in town. Chill out and watch the savings heat up.

• Use cruise control on the highway to improve fuel economy by up to 10 percent.

For more information about fuel economy, visit www.gmability.com.