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!

 

New Year’s Car Care Resolutions

As we head into a brand new year we find ourselves thinking about starting or getting back into some good habits. For 2015, why not add a commitment to car care to your list? Not only does good car and tire care make sense for protecting and prolonging the life of your vehicle and tires, it also means that you and your passengers will be safer on the road.

Here is my suggested list of simple car and tire care actions:

Check Tire Pressure & Tread Depth

At least once a month, make it a point to check your tire pressure. You can find the proper pressure for your vehicle’s tires listed in your owner’s manual. Keep in mind that the maximum pressure is not the same as the recommended pressure.  Don’t forget to also check the pressure of your spare tire.

Two or three times a year you can check the tread depth by using the penny test. Hold a penny so you can read “In God We Trust” across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire and look at Lincoln’s head.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are excessively worn, and it is time for a new set of tires. If Abe’s head is covered to about the forehead hairline, the tread is in good shape and you probably do not need new tires.

Tire Balancing & Rotation

Tire balancing and rotation should be part of your regular service and done according to your owner’s manual recommended schedule. Tire balancing provides a smooth ride and assures even tire wear by properly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle. Tire rotation is an important maintenance step that will greatly extend the life of your tires. Manufacturers have specific recommendations, so it is advisable to refer to your owner’s manual tire rotation guidelines to ensure proper tread wear.

Keep Up on Regular Maintenance

To keep your car running properly and performing at peak levels, it is essential to stay up-to-date with recommended regular maintenance services. Like us, our vehicles need regular check-ups to maintain good health and catch potential problems before they become serious issues. The following is a list of typical services – consult your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s recommended 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

Once you establish a solid car care routine, you can drive with added confidence that you are traveling safely and cost efficiently wherever the road takes you. Happy New Year!

Home for the Holidays – Make it a Safe Trip!

Image courtesy of Pintrest

The American Automobile Association Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast reports that 98.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more over the holidays, and that year-end holiday travel volume will reach the highest peak since AAA began recording holiday travel stats in 2001.

According to the AAA forecast, nearly 91 percent of all travelers will celebrate the holidays with a road trip, which is an increase of 4.2 percent from last year. With today’s national average price of gas at $2.53 per gallon (70 cents less than last year), the report also says that lower gas prices will help boost disposable income this holiday season.

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

  • Make sure your vehicle is ready! Get a service check including: battery, brakes, wipers, lights, oil, coolant, fluids, and tire pressure.
  • Download an app like GasBuddy to help you find the best gas prices along the way.
  • Whether it means updating your GPS, printing a fresh set of Mapquest directions, or picking up a paper version from a gas station, make sure your maps are current.
  • As you pack the car, you might be tempted to remove things you normally keep in the trunk in order to make room for packages and luggage. Be sure not to leave behind roadside emergency items such as jumper cables or a folding shovel.

Whatever your plans might be, have a Merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

After what has seemed like an extra long winter, Memorial Day weekend is finally here. First and foremost, Memorial Day is all about gratefully remembering those who have given their lives in service to our nation. It is also a time for gathering with family and friends to enjoy fun and relaxation. For many, the long weekend provides the opportunity to take a road trip.

If you are planning to travel this weekend, take some time to make sure your vehicle is ready for the road.  Check your tires, and confirm that they are in good condition and properly inflated. Not only will you be safer on the road, you will also get better gas mileage.  Here are a few additional tips:

  • Test your battery
  • Check your lights to make sure all are working
  • Make sure wiper blades are in good shape
  • Check fluid levels
  • 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 along the way
  • 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 Memorial Day Weekend!

Nothing Says “I Love You” Like Tire Safety

Image courtesy of www.vintagevalentinemuseum.com

Valentine’s Day is this Friday – don’t forget to treat your special someone right! And remember that one of the best ways to show folks you love them is by taking care of their tires. Not only will you be keeping them safer, you will give them the gifts of better gas mileage and longer tire life!

Properly inflated tires are the key to tire care. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual to confirm the manufacturer’s recommendation for proper tire pressure. While you’ll see a tire pressure number on the tire, remember that number is the maximum pressure.  The number specified in the manual will be the ideal level of inflation.

Remove the valve cap and press the tire gauge on the valve stem. The hissing sound you hear will stop once you press all the way down. After only a few seconds, you can get an accurate reading. When you hit  the right pressure, replace the valve cap. Repeat this process for the remaining tires.

When the tires need air, they can be filled with a portable compressor or one of the air pumps available at most gas stations. The process of filling the tires is similar to checking the pressure. Rather than pressing the gauge to the valve stem, you will press the fitting on the air hose to the stem.  Watch  the pressure gauge until it reaches the right pressure level. If you happen to over inflate, you can easily remove the excess air from the tires by applying pressure with the gauge and rechecking the tire. The more you check your tires, the better you will be at knowing how long you need to inflate to get the right pressure.

It is important to note that even if  tires look good, that does not mean the pressure is right. By the time a tire looks underinflated tire pressure is too low – be sure to catch it before then!

Season’s Greetings!

Santa Driving Car Vintage Postcard

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season full of great times and plenty of cheer. If you are traveling, remember to be prepared for winter roads and drive safely. Before you leave:

• Check your battery, wipers, lights, oil, coolant, and fluids
• Make sure your jumper cables, flares, and other emergency items are packed
• Charge your cell phone, and don’t forget to bring your car charger, if you have one
• Make sure you have up-to-date maps
• Put some gloves and a blanket or two in the car

And of course, make sure your tires are inflated to the right pressure! Happy Holidays!

Look Out for Flying Turkeys & Other Travel Tips

While some are preparing to host a Thanksgiving feast , many are planning on making a road trip so they can share the holiday with loved ones. If you are in the latter category, please make sure  you are safe and prepared. After all, depending on where you are, the Weather Channel is reporting that things could be a little dicey in some areas. Before you head out on the road this holiday, consider these tips:

Prepare your vehicle for the drive

It is a good idea to have your regular maintenance done when the seasons change, but if you haven’t done that yet, do it before you leave town. Be sure to check: battery, brakes, wipers, lights, oil, coolant, fluids, and tire pressure.

Know gas prices and plan your fuel stops

You certainly don’t want to spend all of your Black Friday shopping cash on gas. Save time and money by using a gas price app like GasBuddy to help you find good gas prices along the way.

Know where you are going and how to get there

The best way to spoil holiday fun (and possibly start a big fight with your passengers) is to get lost on the trip. Be certain that your maps are current, whether it’s updating your GPS or getting  new paper maps from AAA.

Be ready for anything on the road

Don’t let anticipation of that turkey and stuffing distract you from your scout training – be prepared! Make sure you have all of  your roadside emergency items like flares, blankets, and jumper cables – especially if you’re heading into bad weather.

Don’t let pumpkin pie become a dangerous projectile

Are you contributing to the Thanksgiving feast? You have probably decided on what you are taking, but have you thought about how? Not only do you want to avoid spills, you want to be safe. Did you know a 20 lb turkey could hit someone with 600 lbs of force if traveling in a vehicle involved in a 35 mph collision?  This blog post from cars.com has some helpful advice to make transporting food a little safer.

Whatever your plans, always be safe and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

7 High Speed Holiday Gift Ideas

Next week is Thanksgiving, and many will be starting their holiday shopping in full force on “Black Friday.” For those of you out there with car enthusiasts on your gift list, here are some ideas to rev up your creativity.

Kind of a Shady Gift

If you have any Star Wars fans on your list, they will appreciate having Jedi knights protect their car from sun damage while it is parked on sunny days. Those who aren’t George Lucas fans might simply prefer to keep an eye (or two) on their vehicle.

Creative Chrome

Best Mufflers lets drivers express the love they have for their vehicles with heart shaped custom chrome exhaust tips. Nothing says love like a heart-shaped exhaust cloud.

Pressure’s On

This digital tire pressure gauge from Accutire has a large, easy to read LCD display that provides pressure readings from 5-150 PSI in 0.5-pound increments. Ergonomically designed, easy to use, and accurate, this simple gift keeps on giving by extending tire life.

An Empowering Gift

A must for tailgaters and campers, this heavy-duty 12-foot extension cord plugs into the car cigarette lighter and powers  cooking appliances, coolers, heated blankets, or any 12-volt devices.

Peace of Mind

The Battery Tender Junior 12-volt/.75-amp battery charger keeps vehicle batteries optimally powered when the vehicle is not in use. The charger connects to a battery and assures the battery is ready to use when needed.

Keep it Clean

Chemical Guys Poly Clay Bar and Lubricant Detail Spray easily and safely removes stubborn contaminates that do not wash off during the normal washing process.

Here’s a Hot One

Bummed because you can’t afford to give someone you love a new car with fancy features like seat warmers?  Just give ’em the seat warmers! That’s right, Grandma can have the luxury of warm bum, even in her 2000 Corolla.

Street Smart Ideas for Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat night is such a fun time in my neighborhood! We always have lots of takers and weather-permitting, the neighbors all  sit outside to watch the parade of giddy kiddies. It probably will not surprise you to learn that I always give EXTRA candy to the kids that come to my door in auto-themed costumes! Lightning McQueen  has been a very popular choice in recent years.

If you are still working on costume ideas and are a do-it-yourself type, here are some clever ideas to help you along:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the components of this cute car costume can be found around your home.

This costume just requires a little dressing up of ordinary clothing items, and has the added benefit of being warm!

Coolest Homemade Costumes has an entire page full of high speed costumes like this fresh idea!

Looking for a family costume? This one covers the entire crew!

And this amazing transformer concept just has to be seen. Here are two awesome examples:

If you don’t have the creative skills to make your own car themed costume, there’s a wide variety ready-made options to choose from.

Have a fun and safe Trick or Treat night!