Safety Tips For Teen Drivers

While getting a drivers license is an exciting rite-of-passage for teens, it can make a parent frantic—with good reason. The first years that teenagers spend driving are very risky. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds and research shows that more than half of teens who die in crashes are passengers, most of whom are not wearing a seatbelt.

Immaturity and lack of driving experience are the two main factors leading to the high crash rates among teens. Even the best teenage drivers do not have the judgment that comes from experience. It affects their recognition of, and response to, hazardous situations and results in dangerous practices such as speeding and tailgating. Teens also tend to engage in risky behavior—eating, talking on their cellphones, text messaging, talking to friends in the car—and they often do not wear their seatbelts.

If you’re the parent of a new driver, take the following steps to ensure the safety of your teenager.

Pick a safe car

You and your teenager should choose a car that is easy to drive and would offer protection in the event of a crash. For example, avoid small cars and those with high performance images that might encourage speed and recklessness, or trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which are more prone to rollovers.

Enroll your teen in a drivers education course

The more driving practice the better; experience will give your teen confidence behind the wheel, and he or she will be better able to react to challenging situations on the road. Furthermore, a teenager who has learned to drive through a recognized drivers education course is viewed more favorably by insurers and may earn a discount.Enroll your teen in a safe driver program

Check whether your insurance company offers a “safe driver” program. Teen participants in these programs sign parent-teen driving contracts that outline the young driver’s responsibilities (for instance, not having teen passengers in the car, being home by a certain hour, etc.) and the consequences of failure to meet those expectations. If your teenager completes the program, not only will he or she be a safer driver, you may also be eligible for a discount.

In addition, many insurance companies are helping to reduce the number of accidents involving teen drivers by subsidizing the cost of electronic devices, such as GPS systems and video cameras, which can monitor the way teens drive and alert parents of unsafe driving practices by email, text message or phone.

Enroll your teen in a graduated drivers license program—or create your own

Many states have successful reduced teen accident rates with graduated drivers license (GDL) programs and other laws that allow teen drivers to develop skills and gain experience behind the wheel. With these, new drivers are restricted from certain activities—such as late night driving, having passengers in the car or being on the road unsupervised—until they have had their licenses for a set period.

In states without a GDL program, parents can institute the same policies. Take an active role in your teenagers’ driving practice and expose them to driving in a wide variety of driving conditions to build experience and confidence as you introduce privileges gradually. Allow independent driving only after continued practice, including night driving and driving in inclement weather.

Discuss the dangers of drug and alcohol use

Advise teens never to drink or do drugs, and not to get in a car if the driver has used drugs or alcohol. Encourage your teen to call you if such a situation arises to ensure they have a safe way home.

Understand the dangers of distracted and impaired driving

Talk to your teen about the importance of not driving while distracted. Distractions include phoning or texting while driving, as well as listening to the radio and chatting with friends who are in the car. Teens should also be responsible passengers when in their friends’ cars. New drivers should wait 1,000 miles or six months before picking up their first teen passenger.

Be a good role model

New drivers learn by example, so if you drive recklessly, your teenage driver may imitate you. Always wear your seatbelt and never drink and drive.

And, finally, keep in mind, teenagers mature differently—not all are mature enough to handle a drivers license at the same age. Parents should consider whether teens are easily distracted, nervous or risk takers before allowing them to get a license or even a learners permit.

Important Keys To Car Safety

There are more vehicles on U.S. roads than ever before. With an estimated 240.5 million cars and light trucks crowding our roads as of 2011, your safety and that of others is at risk when your vehicle isn’t stopping and steering at its best. Reducing your vehicle’s stopping distance by just an inch or so could make the difference between a minor scare and a major fender bender.

Crowded roads aren’t the only concern. The roads themselves are often in a sorry state of repair. Portions of our highway system (including many bridges) haven’t seen much in the way of maintenance or repair since they were built.

In cold climates, the freeze/thaw cycle enlarges cracks and holes in the pavement. In sunnier spots, the heat, heavy cargo hauling and years of neglect take their own toll on roads. The result can be a moonscape of potholes that can affect the handling of your vehicle. Bad roads can cause suspension components, so vital to steering control and handling, to grow old before their time.

But you don’t have to be an automotive expert to keep your vehicle’s stopping and steering systems safe.

Pay a little now, or a lot later

Putting off repairs for too long results in growing costs. For example, let’s look at a typical brake job. Not only will you have to buy new brake pads, but add in new brake rotors as well to replace the ones that were ruined by procrastination.

New rotors can range from $50 to $250 or more, depending upon the vehicle application — and that’s for each wheel. Even if normal wear dictates rotor replacement, the upside is that it could be the last time you’ll ever replace them before you trade in the vehicle.

It’s important to perform needed maintenance early. Allowing the situation to bloom into an expensive repair threatens the practicality of keeping your paid-for wheels on the road. If you made 36, 48 or even 60 monthly payments without flinching in order to buy the car, but don’t like to pay for maintenance, try considering it as a short-term “car payment” that only has to be made occasionally.

Safety tips for brake service:

  • Invest in a top-quality brake pads.
  • If any rotors are marginal for continued service after refinishing (too thin or very close to the minimum thickness specification), have them replaced. An ASE-certified technician can compare the specification dimension and your rotors’ actual thickness for you on request. If you own an older vehicle equipped with original equipment (OE) rotors, be prepared to replace them at this time.
  • Have the brake calipers inspected to ensure that any moving parts, such as slides and bleeder screws, haven’t corroded and frozen up.
  • Don’t always jump at the lowest quoted price for your brake job. A low price quote can mean that you’re not getting the complete brake system serviced.

Remember, there are cheap jobs that use basic components. There are also more-expensive jobs that use premium components. When evaluating the cost of any vehicle repair or maintenance, consider the quality of work and the parts. What’s the cost difference between the two? Which one would you trust most?

Beyond basic brake pads and rotor replacement or resurfacing, ask for quotations on the following expanded parts and services if you own an older vehicle:

  • If your brake hydraulic system has never been flushed, consider having it serviced to remove moisture and impurities from the fluid reservoir, lines, calipers and/or wheel cylinders.
  • Have rubber-type flex brake hoses replaced when they’re hard, cracked or simply old.
  • When rotors are being resurfaced for reuse, request inspection of the wheel bearings.
  • On rear-wheel-drive cars or trucks, have the front wheel bearings inspected and repacked with new grease, along with replacing the seals. Don’t take the chance of being stranded over an inexpensive bearing or seal.
  • For drum brake applications, ask to have a new brake hardware kit installed when the brake shoes are replaced and the drums are refinished. The technician should ensure that each assembly’s wheel cylinder pistons, starwheel adjuster and bleeder screw aren’t sticking or seized.
  • Have your emergency brake assembly tested periodically. Have it repaired or adjusted if necessary.

This approach to vehicle maintenance may cost a little more up front, but if you make the investment now, you can be sure that-old or new-your car or truck will stop in the shortest distance possible-and be able to steer around trouble.

Gas Saving Tips For The Summer

Gas-Saving Tips for Your Auto

While it is always wise to conserve natural resources, the recent price of gasoline has made even the most wasteful people think twice. Whatever your motivation, here are some gas saving tips from the pros at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

Monitor tires. Under inflated tires or poorly aligned wheels waste fuel by forcing the engine to work harder. (Let the tires cool down before checking the air pressure.) Out-of-line wheels, as evidenced by uneven tread wear, should be aligned by a professional.

Remove excess weight. Remove unnecessary items from the vehicle. Store only essentials in the trunk. Less weight means better mileage.

Consolidate trips and errands. Some trips may be unnecessary. Also, try to travel when traffic is light so you can avoid stop-and-go conditions.

Avoid excessive idling. Shut off the engine while waiting for friends and family.

Observe speed limits. Speeding decreases your miles per gallon.

Drive gently. Sudden accelerations guzzle gas. Anticipate traffic patterns ahead and adjust your speed gradually.

Use windows and air conditioning wisely. Your mileage should improve if you keep the windows closed at highway speeds, since air drag is reduced. This is true even with the air conditioning on-assuming that the system is in good working order. But turn the air conditioning off in stop-and-go traffic to save fuel.

Keep your engine “tuned up.” A well-maintained engine operates at peak efficiency, maximizing gas mileage. Follow the service schedules listed in the owner’s manual. Replace filters and fluids as recommended; have engine performance problems (rough idling, poor acceleration, etc.) corrected at a repair facility. Given today’s high-tech engines, it’s wise to have this type of work done by auto technicians who are ASE certified in engine performance.

These conservation tips will not only save gasoline, they’ll help extend the life of your vehicle. Win-win, indeed.

How To Survive A Flood When Trapped In Your Car

One of the scariest scenarios drivers and passengers can experience is being trapped inside a car when flood suddenly covers the streets. If you have no knowledge of how to handle this situation, your predicament would be so much worse. Should you stay inside until help arrives? Or, is it necessary for you to go out immediately and find help? Since there are a lot of possible solutions, some of which are completely wrong, we are here to guide you on what to do in a flood when you are inside a car.

Just a bit of advice before we proceed on what to do in a flood: never underestimate shallow waters. Based on a certain natural hazard guideline released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, six inches of water can already contribute to a steering failure, making it hard for you to control your car. Meanwhile, one foot of water can surprisingly make cars gradually float away. Lastly, two feet of water is enough to quickly sweep away vehicles – even big ones such as SUVs and pickup trucks.

See, as soon as the car is surrounded by water, you have all the right to be concerned but never panic. Do not wait for the flood to rise to a deadly level. You really have to remember the following guidelines on what to do in a flood if it is still rising around your car:

BE VISIBLE.

No, we do not mean going to the roof of your car and wave your hands up in the air. You can stop ridiculous ideas such as this one by staying calm. The first thing you have to do is to make your car visible by turning on the hazard lights and the headlights. If you can already spot emergency personnel, you are so lucky. These modern heroes will surely notice the lights from your car and help you immediately. Wait for them to reach you.

DO NOT SECURE YOURSELF INSIDE.

Ironically, you have to be 100% free from any constraint inside the car. We are specifically referring to your seat belt. Do not believe the notion that the seat belt would keep you safe when the vehicle starts floating away. After all, once the car floats, you are already in big trouble. As soon as you see water surrounding your car, stop the vehicle and release yourself from the seat belt immediately. Also, unlock all doors. If there are authorities nearby, they can easily open your car door and save you.

REMOVE LAYERS OF CLOTHING.

If you are simply wearing two pieces of clothes, top and bottom, disregard this tip. However, if you are wearing a jacket and other types of layers, immediately remove them all. This initiative keeps you from sinking if you have to swim.

OPEN A WINDOW.

Now, let’s start thinking about worst-case scenarios. What if you are stranded in the middle of the flood without safety personnel around you? Before you even get to this point, it is always a good idea to stay indoors whenever it rains.

However, when push comes to shove, lower one window but not in an abrupt way. Just do it slowly. As long as the car is not yet underwater, electric windows usually work even in a flood. Once you successfully lower the window, climb out straight away. Find a high ground and contact 911.

GO TO PLAN B IF YOU CANNOT OPEN A WINDOW.

Worse, there is a possibility that you cannot open the windows anymore, especially if they are electronic ones. So, you have to resort to car doors. Forget about the passenger compartment getting wet. That is the least of your worries in emergency situations. If you are too weak to open the car door, break a window. Make sure to bring a glass breaker with you at all times. It is hard to forcefully shatter a window inside a compact space if you use other tools. Just a heads-up, these tips are only applicable if the water is still at low level.

Of course, you may suffer from wounds when you climb over a shattered glass window. However, your number one priority is to keep breathing. Wounds are nothing compared to drowning.

Unfortunately, car doors are impossible to open when the water level is already too high. Why? Two words: water pressure. You cannot open a car door if there is massive pressure outside. A solution is to equalize the pressure between the inner and outer part of the car. To achieve this, there is nothing left for you to do but wait for water to fill your car. Hold your breath once submersion is complete and open the door at once. That is why we told you to unbuckle your seat belt, unlock the doors, and avoid waiting for water to rise up unless the car is already submerged. As you can see, not only do you have to take driving lessons. Knowing how to swim is essential.

Water pressure is also the reason why you cannot break a window during your car’s submersion. The explosion of shattered glass will severely hurt you.

LEAVE YOUR POSSESSIONS BEHIND.

Unless the water level is still low, forget about your belongings inside the car. You cannot swim properly if you are busy carrying your bag. If you can still walk on water, prioritize your phone so you can call for help anytime.

DO NOT SAVE YOUR CAR.

Just because you can still stand on water does not mean you can push your car towards a safe place. The main reason why we are advising you to get out of your car immediately is to find a high ground. Flood can still rise to an extreme level so better avoid that pronto. So what if your car is expensive? As a car owner, you should be totally updated about storm signals.

LET THE AUTHORITIES TOW YOUR CAR.

When the flood finally subsides, do not go back to your vehicle. You might use a lot of time starting or pushing your car until the water level rises again. Besides, emergency personnel always use proper means of taking cars to a safer place.

WHAT TO DO IN A FLOOD WHEN YOU’RE IN A CAR

In summary, the first solution is to keep calm. When you are calm, your mind easily remembers what to do in a flood when you are inside a vehicle. Your main goal is to get out of the car and go to a higher place if there are no authorities around. Never wait for the water level to rise up. In case you haven’t noticed from our guidelines, the solutions progress from the easiest ones to the worst-case scenarios. Do not let yourself be exposed to a more dangerous situation. Lastly, always catch up with weather updates and learn how to swim – just in case.

DIY Garage For Your Home

You can save hundreds of dollars on garage fees every year by carrying out minor servicing and maintenance jobs on your car yourself. Armed with a selection of widely available automotive tools, a garage manual for your car, and enough time and patience to get a job done properly, pretty much anyone can carry out the routine tasks needed to keep your car on the road and running smoothly.

One of the most satisfying aspects of carrying out maintenance tasks on your vehicle aside from saving money on expensive garage bills is that you are able to get an understanding of how the car works, and the more you understand about the vehicle, the easier it is to put things right in the event of a breakdown.

Any home garage requires a good selection of automotive tools to carry out work on a car. Some vehicles from certain manufacturers have non-standard machining and sizes used throughout their construction, and you will need to get automotive specialty tools designed for the purpose of working on that particular car from a motor store. No home workshop is complete without a trolley jack and axle stands to allow you to get under the car and do things like oil changes and exhaust checks.

For most small jobs, such as changing the oil or replacing filters, changing the spark plugs and brake pads on your vehicle, general tools such as a wrench and a screwdriver are all that is required, and these are widely available in most hardware stores. It is a good idea to keep your automotive tools separate from other tools you may have, because if you begin a job and then discover that the tool you want to use is missing, it can cause major headaches.

Twenty years ago, cars were much simpler to maintain and understand than they are today. Computerised engine management systems and adjustable fuel injectors are now commonplace, and special automotive diagnostic tools are required in order to make adjustments to the engine timing and fuel air mix, whereas in the past, these jobs could be done quite simply.

Areas of the car that almost anyone can handle the regular maintenance of are the interior and exterior panels. Simple scratches and dents to the bodywork are easy to repair using a soft mallet for panel beating and abrasive paper, spray paint and filler for paintwork repairs.

If your car is well used, the interior is likely to start to look tired and dated and in need of a little tender loving care. Thankfully, there are many automotive upholstery tools available to help you to tidy up the interior of the car and bring it back to its sparkling best. You can repair small tears and burns on the seats by darning them or applying a repair patch over the affected area. The trim of the car can be brought back to life with a good buffing using a polisher, while using specialist tools it is possible to repair the carpets or even replace them.

Of course there is much more to owning and maintaining a car than just tightening nuts and sewing up split seams, and you may find that you want to add non-stock parts such as a more efficient air filter or new exhaust to improve performance, and once you understand the basics of automotive maintenance, upgrades and tuning will become more accessible, saving you even more money in the long term.

Doing small jobs yourself can save you plenty of money on garage bills, and having the right automotive tools to get the jobs done is an excellent idea that will save you time and effort in the long run. However, one of the most important things for any mechanic to know is when to pass over a job to an expert, and rather than potentially do more damage than good, to get a qualified mechanic to carry out work on a car.