Be Afraid of Driving on Old Tires!

Be Afraid of Driving on Old TiresNever mind ghosts, witches and zombies, do you know what is really frightening? Driving on old tires!

It is critical to your safety on the road that you are able to recognize the signs of worn out, dangerous tread. Even if old tires look okay, they could be seriously compromised and pose a serious a safe driving hazard.

Old tires may not show any obvious signs of deterioration. While they may appear to be safe, usable tires, cracks can develop both on the inside and the outside of the tire. Since the rubber compounds used in tires degrade over time, cracks will develop in the rubber, regardless of mileage and wear. Ultimately, this cracking leads to the steel belts in the tread separating from the rest of the tire.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association reports that putting an expiration date on a tire can be difficult since factors such as heat, driving, and storage conditions can greatly impact the usable life of a tire. The recommendation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is to refer to the guidelines set by the specific tire manufacturer when it comes to tire aging and usable life.

Not unsure how old your tires are? In 2000 the U.S. Department of Transportation began requiring tires to have a DOT code. With this code, you can learn details about the tire, including its age. Decipher the code by downloading a free app offered by the Tire Safety Group. Available for Android and iPhone, the app enables you to get to get a free Tire Facts Report by simply entering the DOT code from your tire.  The report lets you know if a tire is old, defective, or has been the subject of a recall. The app shows you where to find the code on the tire and even includes a flashlight function to help you see the code clearly!

If your tires are damaged, old, worn or otherwise compromised, don’t risk the scare of a blowout or a wreck! Buy some new tires as soon as possible!

New Holiday Travel Record Expected for 4th of July Holiday

4th of JulyAre you planning a trip for the 4th of July holiday? If so, you are definitely not alone. According to AAA, a record-breaking 46.9 million people in the U.S. will travel 50 miles or more to celebrate the Independence Day holiday. This number represents not only a 5 percent increase over last year, it is the highest volume ever projected over the 18 years that AAA has been tracking these figures.  If you are taking a road trip, AAA cautions,

“For the 39.7 million Americans planning a Fourth of July road trip, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be twice as long than the normal trip, with Tuesday being the busiest day.”

If you are hitting the road this 4th of July holiday, take some time to make sure your vehicle is safe and ready for the road.  Here are a few tips:

– Test your battery

– Check your lights to make sure all are working

– Make sure wiper blades are in good shape

– Check fluid levels

– Check the pressure on all tires including your spare

– Pack roadside emergency items like jumper cables and travel compressor

Here are a few additional suggestions to consider for a smoother trip:

– Download an app like GasBuddy to make sure you find the best gas prices

– Check out the Waze app for real-time traffic info

– Pack snacks and drinks for the car to save time and money

– Make sure your maps are up-to-date – whether paper or GPS

– Plan your route and stops before you leave

– Bring along a cell phone charger with a car adaptor

– Bring an umbrella – no matter what the forecast says

Whatever your plans are, have a fun and safe 4th of July Holiday!

 

Happy Holidays!

If there is anything I love as much as vehicles and tires, it’s the holiday season. With that in mind you can imagine how delighted I am to find any combination of cars and Christmas! I recently happened upon a real treasure trove of holiday automotive artwork on the classic auto enthusiast website, Petrolicious. In honor of the season, I wanted to share some of these beautiful paintings.

Automotive Scenes

Image Courtesy of Petrolicious.com

So, who is the artist behind these amazing images? I was intrigued by the question and looked up Ken Ebert. He is an American artist from the Bronx, New York City. At an early age he developed tremendous talent as a painter, as well as an affinity for automotive street scenes.

Automotive Scenes

Image Courtesy of Petrolicious.com

In 1965, Ken Eberts was recruited by the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan to join a design team working on the design of several new vehicles. A year later he worked for Lockheed Aircraft on the design of a new aircraft.

Automotive Scenes

Image Courtesy of Petrolicious.com

A few years later he focused his career solely on painting, and began showing his artwork at shows and galleries. Using techniques he developed using watercolors and gouache, he was able to realistically portray chrome, glass, and leather in amazing, life-like detail.

Automotive Services

Image Courtesy of Petrolicious.com

Throughout his career, Ken Ebert produced a multitude of works used to promote high profile auto industry events, and his work is included in several important museums. Today, Ken Ebert continues to paint automotive scenes as a prestigious and award-winning artist.

To see more of Ken Ebert’s work, check out the Petrolicious blog post, or look up his work on Google.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and the happiest holiday season!

Be Thankful for a Safe Trip

This time of year finds everyone busy preparing for holiday celebrations, shopping for Thanksgiving Road Tripgifts, and making plans for holiday travel. Odds are you are not thinking about your car. But you should be.

When Thanksgiving Day arrives, we imagine we’ll be sitting around the dinner table with loved ones, enjoying great food, sharing memories, and reflecting on all those things that make us truly thankful. You sip a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, nibble on a few more bites of pumpkin pie, and settle into that warm, cozy, holiday feeling.

But what if Thanksgiving Day comes and you hop into a car that has been woefully neglected for maintenance service? You may end up sitting in a cold, dead car, digging through seat pockets for something to eat while waiting for a tow truck to arrive. You sip a half empty water bottle, nibble on a few more bites of stale saltine crackers, and settle into that awful, regretful, why-didn’t-I-get-an-oil-change feeling.

If holiday travel is in your plans this year, make sure it is a safe trip. Now is the time to get your vehicle in for a pre-trip service check!

Be Thankful You Had an Oil Change

Putting off an oil change can cause significant damage to your engine. Be sure to follow the recommended oil change schedule as described in your owner’s manual. For fall and winter, ask your service technician to recommend the best oil to use for the season. Since cold temperatures cause motor oil to thicken, your tech may suggest a different weight for the season.

Be Thankful You Had a Tire Check

Tires are one of the most critical safety features on your vehicle. Drivers should do a monthly check of the air pressure and tread depth of tires. Always be on the lookout for nails, cuts, bulges, and signs of unusual tread wear. Be sure to have a professional inspect your tires at least once a year and also follow the recommended schedule for wheel alignment and tire rotation.

Be Thankful You Had a Battery Check

Extreme weather, including cold temperatures, can degrade car batteries internally and can accelerate the rate of corrosion on battery terminals. This can lead to insufficient electrical power and the risk of being stranded. Your service technician will check the battery charge and clean the cables if there are signs of corrosion. They will also ensure cables are securely attached to the terminals.

Be Thankful You Had a Fluid Check

In order to perform at its best, your car needs several fluids in fresh and adequate supply. Your service technician will check:

  • Brake fluid
  • Coolant
  • Power steering fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Windshield washer fluid

Cold weather has an impact on your vehicle’s fluids. Maintaining the proper levels is essential in assuring dependable performance and a safe trip.

If you are planning on holiday travel it doesn’t take long to get a routine service check, so make a little time to get these services done. You will be thankful you did!

Wishing you a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Resolved: Better Tire Care in 2017

newyearnewtiresWhile making your New Year’s Resolutions to take better care of yourself, why not also resolve to take better care of your tires? Here are some easy ideas that will help your tires perform better and last longer. Extra benefits you will get include better gas mileage and greater safety on the road.

Regularly Check Your Tire Tread

Follow these easy steps to check your tire tread depth:

  1. Hold a penny so that “In God We Trust” appears across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire, taking note of the visibility of Lincoln’s head.
  2. If you can consistently see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are excessively worn, and it is time to go shopping for a new set of tires.
  3. If the top of Lincoln’s head (to about the forehead hairline) is covered throughout the tread grooves, the tread is in good shape and your tires probably do not need replacement.

 Check Tire Pressure

Take time to check your tire pressure at least once a month.  While it doesn’t take long to do, it could save you big by improving your tire life and gas mileage. Check your owner’s manual to confirm the proper pressure for your vehicle’s tires. Remember that the maximum pressure is not the same as the recommended pressure.

Tire Rotation

Rotating your tires on a regular basis is an essential part of tire maintenance that will significantly extend their service life. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manual for the tire rotation recommendations for your particular vehicle.

Tire Balancing

Make sure tire balancing is part of your regular maintenance routine.  Again, check your owner’s manual for the recommended schedule for your car, truck, or SUV. Tire balancing promotes a smooth ride and even tire wear by correctly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle.

Tire Alignment

Improper tire alignment will not only decrease the life of your tires due to uneven tread wear, it will also compromise the safety of your vehicle. Have the alignment checked any time you notice problems with your vehicle’s handling.

Spare Tire Check

Remember to check the condition of your spare tire so you will know it is ready when you need it. Check the pressure of your spare when you check the pressure of your other tires, and remember that a spare is intended for temporary use only.

 

Gift Ideas for Drivers

giftTime is running out for those of us who still have Christmas shopping to do! We all have those hard-to-shop-for people who cause us serious holiday headaches. Whether it is a girl who seems to have everything or a guy who seems to have no interests, an auto-related gift could be just the thing to please them this holiday season. Practically everyone drives, and oftentimes items for the car are things people just don’t think to buy for themselves.

The following is a list of gift ideas to consider for the drivers on your list.

Auto Mats

Life can get messy, and when life gets messy so does your vehicle. Custom fitted, all-season rubber floor mats are a great gift idea for pet owners, parents who chauffeur small children, and people that tend to eat and drink on the go.

Car Vacuum

This is another gift that will be greatly appreciated by those who drive around with dogs and messy kids. A quality portable vacuum cleaning makes keeping a clean ride so much easier.

Car Windshield Snow Cover & Sun Shade Protector

Drivers who have their car parked outside all day will appreciate this all-season windshield protection. This easy-to-install protector keeps the car cool in the summer and free of ice and snow in the winter.

Car Parking Sensor System

Trying to park a large vehicle is a small or crowded garage can be very tricky. A car parking sensor system makes the job much easier and will help drivers avoid scratches and dings.

Folding Shovel

A folding shovel is a great item to keep in the trunk along with a roadside emergency kit. Too often drivers are not prepared for roadside problems, so this gift could be a lifesaver!

Car Wash Coupons

Even those who prefer to do their own washing will appreciate having these in the winter. Keeping a clean car is especially important in the cold weather months when the roads are covered in salty slush.

Digital Tire Pressure Monitor

Keeping tires properly inflated is essential for assuring safe driving and preserving tire tread. A digital tire pressure monitor makes checks easy. This is especially great for drivers of older cars, which may not have TPMS.

Portable Air Compressor

This is not only a great emergency item to keep in your car, a portable air compressor will be useful for filling a leaking tire until it can be fixed. It is also great for other jobs like inflating a camping mattress.

 

 

 

Start the Holiday with a Safe Road Trip

safe road tripAccording to the American Automobile Association Travel Forecast, 48.7 million people will travel 50 miles or more over the holidays. More than 89 percent of holiday travelers will be driving this Thanksgiving. The 43.5 million Americans planning a Thanksgiving road trip represents an increase of 1.9 percent over the previous year. If you are among the travelers, be sure to make it a smooth and safe road trip.

Although the fuel prices travelers will pay are slightly higher than last year, those prices will be the second cheapest we’ve seen in nearly a decade. According to the AAA forecast:

“Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.16, 11 cents more than the average price on Thanksgiving last year ($2.05). Most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008, when the national average was $1.85.”

Holiday road trips can be a fun part of the season’s festivities, as long as you are prepared and have a safe road trip. Whether you are driving home or to another special destination for the holidays, here are a few preparation tips:

  1. Be sure your vehicle is ready for the journey with a service check. Things to inspect include: battery, brakes, wipers, lights, oil, coolant, fluids, and tire pressure.
  2. Download an app like GasBuddy to help you find the best gas prices along the way.
  3. Be sure your maps are current, whether it’s updating your GPS or getting the good old paper kind from a gas station.
  4. When packing the car, you may need to remove things you normally keep in the trunk in order to make room for gifts and your luggage. Just be sure not to leave behind your roadside emergency items such as jumper cables or a folding shovel.
  5. If you are traveling with kids, make sure they have something to do to pass the time. You don’t necessarily need a DVD player or a tablet to keep kids occupied. There are plenty of classic travel games for you and the little ones to enjoy together.

Whatever your plans are, have a safe road trip and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Resolved: Make Auto and Tire Care a Priority

Are you the kind of driver that does not think twice about your car unless it doesn’t start? Do you only notice your tires if they are flat? Perhaps your 2016 New Year’s resolutions should include being more committed to preventative auto and tire care. Regular car and tire maintenance not only make sense for protecting and prolonging the life of your vehicle and tires, it also means that you’ll be safer on the road.

When it comes to taking care of your tires, the two main things you want to check regularly are tire pressure and tread depth. 

Make a note on your calendar to check your tire pressure at least once a month. Refer to your owner’s manual to find the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. Don’t forget to check the pressure of your spare tire as well. 

Check the tread depth of your tires by using the penny test. Hold a penny so you can read “In God We Trust” across the top. Insert it into several different sections of the tire and look at Lincoln’s head.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it is time for a new set of tires. If the tread is in good shape, Abe’s head will be covered to about the forehead hairline.

To keep your vehicle running properly and performing at its best, you must stay on schedule with recommended regular maintenance services. It is always far less costly in terms of time and money to catch problems before they escalate. The following is a list of the services that are typically recommended, but be sure to consult your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s suggested services and frequency. 

  • Coolant Flush and Replacement
  • Oil Change
  • Fluid Checks – Power Steering and Brake
  • Brake Inspection
  • Check Belts & Hoses
  • Filters – Air and Fuel
  • Battery & Cables
  • Lights
  • Exhaust System
  • Windshield Washer Fluid & Wiper Blades

Both your vehicle and tires will benefit from regulartire balancing and rotation service performed in accordance with your owner’s manual recommended schedule. Tire balancing promotes even tire wear and provides a smooth ride by properly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle. Tire rotation is an essential maintenance step that will greatly extend the life of your tires. Manufacturers have specific recommendations, so be sure to refer to your owner’s manual tire rotation guidelines.

Establishing a regular care routine allows you to drive with confidence knowing that you are traveling safely where ever the road takes you. You will also get to enjoy your vehicle and tire investment much longer.

Here’s wishing you a safe and fun-filled new year!

12 Automotive Holiday Gift Ideas

Mele Kalikimaka

For those who still have holiday shopping to do, here are some automotive gift ideas for everyone on your list!

1. For the Kitsch Lovers…

Hula Doll or Bobble Head Dog – Make anyone’s ride a lot more stylish and classic with these moving mementoes.

2. For the Safety Minded…

Car Safety Hammer – A gift you hope they will never use, but feel comfortable having in the vehicle

3. For Young Passengers…

Backseat Car Organizer – Keep all of those travel essentials, like books, crayons, notepads, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures organized and within reach.

4. For the Car Care Do-It-Yourselfers…

Armor All 78452 National Car Care Kit – For those who prefer to scrub their own hub cabs and squeegee their own windshield.

5. For the Super Heroes…

Batman Automobile Swag – If you are shopping for someone who is not afraid to flaunt their secret crime-fighting identity.

6. For the Sports Enthusiasts…

Sports Fan Auto Accessories – What better place than a vehicle to display team pride. This is an especially great gift idea for the tailgaters on your list!

7. For the Uncomfortable…

Koozam Memory Foam Seat Cushion – Anyone with chronic back issues or people who have a hard time sitting for car trips will much appreciate the gift of comfort.

8. For the Carnivore…

Accoutrements Bacon Air Freshener – If there is someone on your list who will enjoy this gift, you know who it is.

9. For the Music Lover…

Plug and Play Audio System – Those who are all about that bass, but also don’t mind a little treble will love this portable sound system.

10. For the Electronics Junkies…

Dual USB Car Charger – For some folks, one charge is just not going to suffice until the next outlet. Give the gift of unbridled power.

11. For the Short People…

Seat Belt Cover Shoulder Pad – May seem strange, but as someone who is vertically challenged, I can attest – this is a wonderful thing.

12. For Anyone You Love…

Digital Tire Pressure Gauge – Save gas! Save tires! Save lives! Give this gift and tell the recipient about the importance of properly inflated tires.

3 Important Car Safety Features To Be Thankful For

Most of us get into a vehicle every day. Automotive travel has become such an established part of our lives that we probably do not give much thought to our safety while onboard a vehicle of any kind. While safety should always be foremost on our minds as drivers and passengers, we have good reason not to be overly worried about getting into a vehicle. Through the years, automotive manufacturers have invested heavily in the development of innovative safety features, which have saved countless lives on the road.

Here is a little history on three major car safety features for which we should all be very thankful:

Safety Belts – Safety belts were first introduced as standard  by the Swedish automobile manufacturer, Saab, in 1958. Earlier, in 1946, California neurologist, Dr. C. Hunter Sheiden  first conceived of the idea of seat belts. His concern arose greatly from the high number of head injuries he saw in emergency rooms. His research was published in a 1955 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). He proposed not only the retractable seat belt, but many other automotive safety measures. By 1968, the U. S. Code, Chapter 301, Motor Vehicle Safety Standard required that all vehicles, with the exception of buses, have seat belts installed in all designated seating positions.

Airbags – American Industrial Engineer, John Hetrick was issued a United States patent in 1953 for the first of his airbag designs. His approach was to apply his experiences with compressed air from torpedoes during his service in the Navy to a device that would provide protection during automobile accidents. Although Hetrick worked with the major American automobile corporations at the time, the airbag concept’s first commercial use did not occur until 1971, when it was tested in a few Ford cars. By September 1, 1998, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 went into effect, and required that all cars and light trucks sold in the United States have air bags on both sides of the front seat.

Safety Glass Windows

The concept of shatter-resistant glass was discovered inadvertently in 1903 by the French chemist Edouard Benedictus. When he dropped a glass flask filled with a dried collodion film, he observed that the glass coated with the film cracked, but retained its shape. A few decades later this laminated glass began to be installed  in automobiles. In 1970, the U.S. government formed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Since that time, four Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for automotive glass have been enacted, greatly improving driver and passenger safety during collisions.

Whether you are traveling near or far, I wish you safe travels and a very Happy Thanksgiving!