Fall & Winter
CAR CARE NOVEMBER 2012 A special supplement from Logan area businesses & The Utah Statesman. Snow tires, antifreeze, winter driving, new cars you need to know about ... it's all here!
Fall CAR CARE, 2012 Page 2
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Fall CAR CARE, 2012 Page 3
Get ready for winterâ€™s chill with baby steps Itâ€™s hard to say goodbye to summer, but as every motorist north of the Sun Belt knows, itâ€™s just a matter of time before youâ€™ll be driving on rain-slicked streets, not to mention ice and snow-covered highways. If youâ€™re savvy, you wonâ€™t wait for that first flake to melt on your windshield to get your car in shape for winter driving. In fact, the best time to start the process is now. â€œIf vehicles are not adequately prepared for winter, driving can be more stressful and treacherous. To ensure safety and reliability during the upcoming winter months, itâ€™s best to take a proactive approach to preventative maintenance while the temperatures are still mild,â€? said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council, part of a consumer campaign to help people be more
aware of their cars and the care they need. Unfortunately, according to a study the council conducted, most motorists arenâ€™t ready. More than 70 percent admit that they do not have their cars winterized in preparation for inclement weather, even though below-freezing temperatures can stress out both a vehicle and its driver. If you donâ€™t want to be lumped into that statistic, here are some things you can do now -- and a few you can wait to do before the snow flies: * Stock up: Now is the time to create a winter car emergency kit. It could save your life if you get stuck on the road when the temperature drops. The basics include:
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Ask plenty of good questions to crack the mechanics’ code Power control modules. Rear differentials. Intake manifold gaskets. Confused? It may sound like your mechanic is speaking a different language, but with a little knowhow, you can find common ground. “Your vehicle is probably the most important mechanical device you have, and the value is only realized when it’s out of commission,” said Rick Jorgensen, general manager of NAPA Auto Parts in Goodland, Kan. “If you can’t communicate with your repair professional, if you don’t understand what your technician is doing to your vehicle, your technician is not doing his job correctly.” To get the most from your mechanic, communication is key. Don’t be afraid to ask questions -- a lot of questions. “Today’s automobile is an extremely complex machine,” said Joe Erickson, territory manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Approved Auto Repair Network.
“Be informed. Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions, including specific component names and how they relate to the repairs.” What repairs are needed now? What will happen if the repairs are not done now? Does the vehicle need any further inspection or disassembly? Are there any preventative repairs needed at this time? What will the repair cost when finished? How long will the repair take? Forget about overkill. The more questions you ask, the more information you have to make informed decisions about your vehicle’s care. “Most technicians are extremely good at explaining why repairs are recommended or needed. If you’re not sure what your technician is telling you, stop them and ask them until you feel comfortable,” Erickson said. It also helps to have a basic understanding of key automotive repair terms. Read the owner’s manual and know the following: * Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL): Also known as the “check engine” light, the MIL lights up when one or more monitored systems send improper information to the vehicle’s computers. Make a mental note when the light comes on, and see your technician as soon as possible. * Power Control Module (PCM)
You may not feel like you speak the same language as your mechanic, but asking questions will help you get there./Creators Syndicate photo
and Body Control Module (BCM): These internal computers monitor performance and help mechanics make an accurate diagnosis as to what repairs are needed. * Preventive maintenance: This refers to basics like oil changes, cooling system flushes and transmission service. The owner’s manual will outline a suggested maintenance schedule. Stick to it -- and keep good records. Your mechanic may want to know when your car was last serviced. * Needed vs. Recommended Service: Needed repairs indicate one or more components have failed, and chances are you won’t get very far without addressing the problem. Recommended repairs are based on manufacturer mileage guidelines or a pending component failure. If you’re having trouble making a connection with your mechanic, review the estimate with a customer service representative
who can explain the complex details in easyto-understand terms. “A good repair facility will have people who are good at communicating with the lay person and explaining what needs to be done to your car and why,” Jorgensen said. That being said, communication is twoway street. To get the most information from your mechanic, they need plenty of information from you. “People are afraid of being taken by their repair person, so they don’t want to appear that they do not know what’s going on,” Jorgensen said. However, a good mechanic will know when you’re bluffing, so be honest. “Be specific. No one knows your vehicle the way you do,” he said. “Every little detail will help the repair person find out what is wrong.” Be prepared to answer questions like the following: * When did the
problem initially begin? * When does the malfunction occur? Does it occur when the car is idle or moving? * Does the problem occur at high speeds or in stop-and-go traffic? * Is it an isolated event? For example, does it occur only when the air conditioning is running? * If the car won’t run, is the starter turning over the engine? * Are there any odd sounds coming from the vehicle? Above all else, take your time. Be patient in your efforts to understand your mechanic, and don’t hesitate to hit the Internet for additional information. “If you have any reservations, don’t be afraid to hold off on repair approval until you’ve had a chance to do some research and collect your thoughts,” Erickson said. — Creators Syndicate
Fall CAR CARE, 2012 Page 5
YWinter From page 3
-- Jumper cables -- An ice scraper, snow brush and folding shovel -- A flashlight with fresh batteries -- A blanket, hand warmers, extra clothing -including heavy gloves, a hat, socks and boots -- and a rain poncho -- Candles and safety matches -- Bottled water and high-energy dried food snacks -- A first aid kit -- Flares, a whistle and tow rope -- Plastic garbage bags, hose bandage, tire sealant and small tools -- including pliers, screwdrivers and a utility knife. Make sure you have plenty of window washer solvent, too. If you’re going on a long trip or regularly do a lot of distance driving -- especially on less-traveled roads -- you should double up on the snacks, water, blankets and clothing, and be sure to take extra prescription medication in case you face an extended wait for help. Every vehicle should stash two inexpensive plastic “Call Police” or “Call Tow” emergency banners in the glove compartment. They can be placed in the front and rear windows to alert other drivers to your plight.
* Check up: Now is also the time to look at all things mechanical and structural on your car -- including the heater, defroster, interior lights, headlights, belts, the exhaust system and the battery and charging system. Have your car put on a lift so that a technician can inspect the trunk and floorboards. They should watch out for small holes that create a pathway for deadly carbon monoxide fumes to enter the passenger compartment. “Also check to see if your spark plugs and battery need replacing. You don’t want to have a stalled vehicle in the dead of winter,” advises a “Preparing For Winter” online advisory from Mr. Lube Canada at mrlube.com, the Canadian chain of franchised auto service centers. “If your battery is more than two years old, take it to your technician to have the charging system completely checked. Older batteries are less likely to start in winter temperatures than newer ones.” Since cold weather magnifies existing performance problems, you should take the time now to eyeball fuel, air and transmission filters -- or, even better, get a complete tune-up. An inspection of brakes and tires should also be on your must-do list. It’s also a good time to have the car waxed to protect the finish from the elements. If you live in an area subject to sub-zero weather or heavy snow and ice, switch to lighter motor oil for easier start-ups and less wear and tear on the engine. You may also want to replace your regular wipers with a rubber-clad winter version that prevents the snow
and ice from clogging the blades. While all-weather tires work well in any climate, if your streets are filled with ice and snow, shift to studded snow tires. — Vicky Katz Whitaker, Creators Syndicate
Fall CAR CARE, 6 When you2012 havePage lemons,
How do you avoid buying make lemonade -- or so the one in the first place? saying goes. It may be tried A lemon, purely as it and true for some of lifeâ€™s relates to cars, is â€œa vehicle roadblocks, but not every that has a defect that sour situation has such a cannot be repaired within sweet outcome. a reasonable When you have lemons, Meyers, managingamount partner of When it comes to buying time or amount of repairs,â€? make lemonade -- or so the for Weisberg & Meyers, a law a car and finding out itâ€™s a according to Marshall saying goes. It may be tried firm specializing in lemon circumstances partner andlemon, true forthe some of lifeâ€™s lawMeyers, litigationmanaging headquarted in result inbut more for Weisberg & Meyers, roadblocks, notthan everyjust soura Arizona. bad taste in the mouth. aDefects law firm situation has such a sweet thatspecializing determine outcome. a carlaw is a litigation lemon How do you know if you whether in lemon When comes to buying considerable problems have ait lemon, and what can include: headquarted in Arizona. a caryou anddo finding a do? causedDefects by the manufacturer aboutout it ifitâ€™syou that determine
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whether a car is a lemon include: considerable problems caused by the manufacturer jeopardizing safety, affecting the market value of the car ability to useoffer the forand sure.the â€œState remedies vehicle. Recurring brake refunds or replacements from or doors that use,problems market value or safety donâ€™t operate properly due defects, and federal remedies to manufacturer error are provide cash compensation examples of this. from diminished value,â€? MeyersThe said.owner of a lemon Eachbe state has its own rules can compensated regarding qualifies, with a what refund or a carbut
replacement if it is covered under law. Itâ€™s important to research both state and federal laws to know for sure. â€œState remedies offer refunds or replacements use, market value lawfrom summaries and statutes or safety defects, for each state, as welland as federal remedies provide information on the Federal cash compensation from Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, diminished value,â€? enacted in 1975, whichMeyers â€œmakes said. of warranty a federal breach law.â€? IfEach the car doesnâ€™t qualify state has its as own a lemon your state,what the rulesin regarding sitequalifies, lays out but othergenerally resourcesthe
Protect yourself from a defective vehicle
lemon, the circumstances result in more than just a bad taste in the mouth. How do you know if you have a lemon, and what can you do about it if you do? How do you avoid buying one in the first place? A lemon, purely as it relates to cars, is â€œa vehicle that has a defect that cannot be repaired within a reasonable amount of time or amount of repairs,â€? according to Marshall
jeopardizing safety, affecting the market value of the car and the ability to use the vehicle. Recurring brake problems or doors that donâ€™t operate properly due to manufacturer error are examples of this. The owner of a lemon can be compensated with a refund or a car replacement if it is covered under law. Itâ€™s important to research both state and federal laws to know
generally the car shouldnâ€™t be older than 30 months as of the retail delivery date. There are also mileage limitations. For some states, once a car has three repairs for a problem under warranty, it may be fit for lemon territory. It is even possible a used car will be covered. First, find out what qualifies as a lemon where you live. Carlemon.com provides lemon
that will help. Meyers recommended documenting all repairs in order to have a case. â€œIf you have a problem you canâ€™t fix, bring it in for repairs and keep records,â€? he said. â€œThatâ€™s the purpose of a warranty -- to help repair your car.â€? Make sure all documentation is accurate and the problems written by both the vehicle owner and
car shouldnâ€™t be older than 30 months as of the retail delivery date. There are also mileage limitations. For some states, once a car has three repairs for a problem under warranty, it may dealership are detailed andbe fit for lemon territory. consistent. Keep all logs ofIt is even or possible used car repairs randoma breakdowns, will be covered. noting mileage and exactly First, find out what what happened. These are the qualifies as a lemon basis of determining and filing a car as ayou lemon. owner where live.The Carlemon. needs be in charge and comto provides lemon law aware of what and is documented. summaries statutes for â€œYou must describe an unfixed the same, each YSeedefect LEMONADE, page 6 time you take the vehicle in for repair, and you must make sure that your complaint is written on the repair order,â€? states carlemon.com. It also offers a vehicle repair log with detailed sections to fill, from price and odometer readings to problem descriptions and vehicle
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Avoid tows in rain or snow this winter AAA offers seasonal safety tips SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – The season of snow, rain, fog, and weather-related auto accidents is upon us. In preparation, AAA Utah urges motorists to get their vehicles ready for the upcoming fall and winter weather to reduce their chances of being stranded in the cold. “Although summer auto crashes are more often fatal, fall and winter have the highest number of weather-related crashes, deaths and injuries,” reports Rolayne Fairclough, AAA Utah spokesperson. “The combination of poorly maintained vehicles and driver error, along with loss of visibility and slick roads, causes thousands of preventable crashes each year.” There are many ways to help prepare your car for winter driving. Antifreeze Protection A 50/50 solution of engine coolant and water will provide the necessary antifreeze capability. Don’t Forget—Check hoses: Visually inspect the cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, feel the hoses to see if any are brittle or if any of them have an excessively soft and spongy feeling. Don’t Forget—Flush cooling system: Motorists should have the cooling system flushed and new coolant installed as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Depending on the type of coolant used, it may be necessary every two to five years. Electrical System The efficiency of a vehicle battery decreases in colder temperatures. Heading into cold weather, have the vehicle’s battery condition tested, especially if the battery is older than three years (AAA Mobile Battery Service will test members’ auto batteries at no charge). If the battery has removable caps, make sure the cells are filled to the proper level with distilled water and that all cable connections are tight and that the terminals and clamps are free of corrosion. Don’t Forget—Alternator belt: While the battery provides a reserve source of electrical energy, the alternator provides electrical power once the engine is running and it charges the battery. Make sure the alternator belt is properly adjusted. A loose belt is a common cause of a dead battery. While older vehicles require manual belt tightening, late models typically have automatic tensioners—but those can wear out or fail. Also inspect the alternator belt for signs of wear, such as cracks or missing segments on its ribbed underside.
Windshield Check the windshield fluid reservoir before the first freeze of the year and use a windshield cleaning solution with antifreeze components. Also, check the operation of the pump and the aim of the sprayers. Don’t Forget—Winter wiper blades: Make sure that wiper blades are completely clearing the windshield glass with each swipe. If there are streaks or missed spots, it’s time to replace them. During the snow season, consider installing winter wiper blades. These special units wrap the blade in a rubber boot that prevents ice and snow buildup between the glass and blade. Tires If any tire has less than 3/32-inches of tread, it should be replaced. All-season tires work well in light to moderate snow conditions, providing they have adequate tread depth. In areas with heavy winter weather, using snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. Don’t Forget—Tire pressure: While motorists should check the pressure in their tires at least once a month, they should increase the frequency during winter months. As the temperature starts to drop, so will the pressures in the tires—typically 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb. Also, don’t forget to check the pressure in the spare. Brakes Brakes that already tend to grab or pull on a dry road are likely to lock on ice or snow-covered pavement, resulting in a loss of stopping power and/or steering control. Make sure brakes are in properly working order before winter weather arrives. Don’t Forget—Brake fluid flush: Brake fluid absorbs water that collects at low points in the hydraulic system and causes rust, fluid leaks and even brake failure. On vehicles with antilock brakes, moisture in the brake fluid also can damage expensive electro-hydraulic control units. Most manufacturers recommend that the brake system be flushed and new fluid installed every two to three years. Check the owner’s manual for the recommended service interval. While some do-it-yourselfers might check these items themselves, others can find guaranteed, professional maintenance and repair service at a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility. AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah has nearly 600 Approved Auto Repair facilities.
Fall CAR CARE, 2012 Page 7
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Fall CAR CARE, 2012 Page 8
Most dangerous place in winter? The road you drive A not-at-all-trivial question: What’s the most likely way to get injured in a snowstorm? Answer: Drive in it. Snow and ice are beautiful to look at; ugly when viewed through a wrecked car window. About 70 percent of snow and ice injuries are from vehicle accidents. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. Storms can close highways, block roads, down power lines and cause hypothermia. If severe weather is projected to hit your area or is already in your area, stay inside. “If it’s not necessary to be out there, don’t,” said Sgt. Mike Vorreyer with the Illinois State Police. Keep ahead of the storm by listening for the latest winter storm warnings,
watches and advisories on National Weather Service radio, or commercial radio and television. Sometimes you don’t have a choice; you have to pick up a child or go to work. If a trip is absolutely necessary - and it’s possible - travel in the day, don’t travel alone, and keep others informed of your schedule. Stay on main roads; avoid back road shortcuts. Make sure your car is prepared well in advance. Make sure you have good all-season tires that can handle different types of weather. “The big thing is tire pressure,” says Bill Law, owner of Check Point Tire and Service Center in Chatham, Ill. He also advises motorists to make sure the cooling system is clean, fuel injection is working and the defroster and windshield wipers work.
ATTRACT RESCUERS’ ATTENTION - If you do get trapped in a blizzard in your car, you should set your lights on flashing; hang a piece of cloth or distress flag from the radio antenna or window, or display a trouble sign. Turn on the vehicle’s dome light at night when the vehicle is running so work crews or rescuers can see you. After the snow stops, raise the hood to indicate you need help. STAY SAFE AND WARM - Run the car’s engine and turn on the heater for about 10 minutes each hour. When the engine is running, open a window slightly. This will protect you from carbon monoxide. You may need to clear snow away from the car’s exhaust pipe. Use road maps,
seat covers, newspapers and floor mats for warmth, and huddle with the other passengers. STAY IN THE CAR - Do not leave the car to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards. You may become disoriented and lost in blowing and drifting snow. If you are stranded in a remote area you may need to leave the car on foot after the blizzard passes. WATCH FOR SIGNS OF FROSTBITE AND HYPOTHERMIA - Do minor exercises to keep up circulation. Clap hands and move arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long. Sandy McCollum, Copley News Service
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Fall CAR CARE, 2012 Page 9
Economy cars are now hip and fun ... and affordable If you equate an economy car as synonymous with deprivation, think again. Costing less than $15,000, some of the new models are not only affordable -- they’re roomy, peppy and downright hip. You need to do your homework before buying, though. Selecting the right car for your needs and lifestyle, especially one you can afford, is paramount according to two of the nation’s automobile experts: Jack Nerad, executive editorial director of Kelley Blue Book, and George Peterson, president and founder of AutoPacific, an automotive research firm. “Buying a new car is kind of like going through a cafeteria line. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Everybody aspires to more than they can afford,” said Nerad. “You have to assess the finances -- the down payment and the
monthly payment -- and also decide how long you’re going to keep the car. Will it be worth it when you want to sell?” Peterson concurred. “You should definitely check out major car research sites for consumers, including the Kelley Blue Book at kbb.com and Edmunds.com,” he added. He also advised looking at credible automobile awards programs such as those based on consumer surveys conducted by J.D. Power and Associates and AutoPacific. Regardless of your ultimate choice, when you buy an economy car you can be assured you are basically getting a vehicle that will pass every federal safety and emissions standard, Nerad said. Asked what they considered a few of the top new economy cars on the road today, the auto experts both included the
Nissan Versa and the Toyota Yaris. Dubbed “the cheapest car in America” by U.S. News & World Report, the most stripped-down Versa 1.6 sedan can retail for less than $10,000. It features a fivespeed manual transmission, no air conditioning and no power windows, but it gets 26 miles per gallon in town and 36 mpg on the highway. For about $3,000 more, the subcompact Yaris sedan gives you air conditioning and 36 mpg on the open road. The Ford Focus S also was mentioned by the auto gurus, although the price is slightly above $15,000. Basing their rankings on nearly four dozen published reviews and test drives, the U.S. News & World Report’s Automotive Rankings & Reviews recently gave the Ford Focus “Good” or “Very
DRIVE A BARGAIN -- -- The Kia Soul and Soul Plus have great fea- tures, and both are under $15,000. The Nissan Versa, BELOW, has been dubbed “the cheapest car in America” by U.S. News and World Report./Creators Syndicate photo
Good” ratings for performance, exterior, interior and reliability, and an “Excellent” for safety. The Honda Fit, at just slightly under $15,000, ranks top in its class in safety
features and has been lauded for its spacious interior and cargo capability. It was also rated as the top economy car in a recent consumer opinion
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Fall CAR CARE, 2012 Page 10
Automakers put comfort, convenience in the driver’s seat If you're looking for luxury, you've found it. From theater-quality sound systems and built-in refrigerators to virtual dashboards and warnings for distracted drivers, the auto world's latest high tech offerings put comfort, convenience and safety in the driver's seat. "On the whole, innovations continue to capture the attention and imagination of buyers," said Elliot Darvick, manager of programming at Autobytel.com, a leading consumer automotive site. The latest gadgets and gear don't come cheap -- and many are available only on luxury models -- but if you're looking to wow your passengers and make that morning commute a bit more bearable, check out what automakers have in store for 2010.
Assist system, which comes standard on the 2010 E-Class, uses smart programming to monitor driver behavior based on 70 parameters. When it senses fatigue, it sends an alert. In other words, no more falling asleep at the wheel. "We like the Attention Assist because it pairs vehicle hardware that serves other purposes with programming to combat a large problem -- driver fatigue," Darvick said.
THE FLEX FRIDGE Forget the cooler. The new Ford Flex features a built-in refrigerator to chill out on the go. Unlike systems that merely keep drinks cool, this rear-seat console runs off a compressor just like the fridge in your kitchen. MOVIE THEATER SOUND Capable of chilling a room "To our amazement, the sound The latest technology provides unique amenities for your vehicle, such as the Ford Flex’s temperature six-pack of soda to 41 system arms race continues," Darvick fridge./Creators Syndicate photo degrees in just a few hours, this is said. a smart option for avid tailgaters, customize the screen to suit their preventing low speed accidents like The new 2010 Jaguar XJ has an campers and road trip enthusiasts. rear-end collisions in stop-and-go astonishing 1,200-watt audio system, with needs, displaying everything from In freezer mode, the unit drops traffic. 20 high-end speakers routed through 15 phone and audio information to the temperature to 23 degrees, and it's GPS navigation and climate control. A word of warning, though: This channels of audio processing. To the lay insulated to keep items cold even when the "It offers great flexibility for new technology could send repair person, that means theater-quality sound car is not running. bills sky high. on your favorite radio station or a portable presenting information to the — Chandra Orr, Creators.com driver," Darvick said. "While we welcome the screening room in your back seat. Mercedes, Land Rover and advancement "The Jaguar sound system is a pretty Jaguar all have plans to unveil of technology incredible option," Darvick said. "While that can detect parked, you will actually be able to watch dual-view screens in 2010 as well, though it's unclear if the technology and mitigate a DVD in 7.1 surround sound." will be enabled for the U.S. market accidents, we On the other end of the spectrum, due to safety regulations. cringe when Bose has developed its Energy Efficient "This technology allows the we think about Series set to debut in the 2011 Chevrolet driver to look at the center LCD the cost of Volt. The system combines lighter screen and see a GPS navigation replacing a and smaller components with a power map while a passenger can look bumper that system that uses half the energy without at the same screen and, from their also features sacrificing sound quality. vantage, see a DVD movie playing," cameras, radar, "It's a refreshing step in a different Darvick explained. night-vision direction for sound systems, which have and other generally been on a tear to see who can technology, so utilize the most wattage possible," Darvick CRASH PREVENTION "With regards to safety, active be prepared to explained. pre-crash mechanisms are only take this into growing," Darvick said. consideration," VIRTUAL DASHBOARDS The new Mercedes E-Class Darvick said. The Mercedes S-Class was the first sedan will feature a system to to feature a virtual dashboard, and in detect imminent collisions and ATTENTION 2010, the Land Rover Range Rover and apply up to 100 percent of the ASSISTANCE the Jaguar XJ jump on board with this braking power to reduce the impact Mercedes pioneering technology. also aims to In the new Range Rover, for example, a -- even at highway speeds. Lexus, BMW and Acura offer prevent driver 12-inch LCD screen, with virtual dials and similar systems, and Volvo's City drowsiness. The a digital information display, replace the Safety system aids drivers in new Attention traditional instrument panel. Drivers can
Fall CAR CARE, 2012 Page 11
YLemonade From page 6
information. After documenting the car’s repair history, an informal dispute resolution through the manufacturer is an option a consumer may take. However, according to Steve Solomon, author of “The Good, the Bad and the Rest: State Lemon Laws and Protection for Consumers,” from the journal of the American Bar Association, “The major criticisms of manufacturer-funded dispute programs are that they are comparable to the ‘wolf guarding the chicken coop,’ and that the results are more protective of car makers than of the consumer.” Alternatively, you may consider hiring an attorney who works on lemon law cases and taking the manufacturer to court. The attorneys are paid by the manufacturer, not the consumer, so they have the consumer’s interests in mind. Take advantage of consultations. Some websites provide resources to find attorneys for each state,
such as lemonlawyers.net. Always be aware of state Lemon Laws before purchasing your next vehicle. Some states don’t honor leased vehicles or have lemon laws that are more business friendly as opposed to consumer friendly. Make sure a used car dealer provides a CARFAX report and documentation alerting the consumer about a lemon car. Pay attention to anything that seems “off.” If it’s a new car with low miles at a used car dealership, it may be a lemon. As Meyers said, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” If you pay attention before your next car purchase and keep detailed documentation of repairs, your lemons may turn into lemonade after all. — Lauren Baumbauer, Creators Syndicate
Fall CAR CARE, 2011 Page 12
Protection while driving includes auto insurance It’s all about protection -- for yourself and for those you come in contact with. You are responsible for any damage you may cause while driving your car, and a good insurance policy can protect you, your family and the things you’ve worked hard to have. But how much protection do you need, and what can you do if you can’t afford it? Most states have minimum guidelines regarding insurance, and carrying insurance is mandatory in most of the United States. (Alaska has several territories where insurance is only required for registered vehicles, and registration is not mandatory.) Minimum limits vary from state to state -- Florida requires minimum bodily damage per person of $10,000, while Texas requires $20,000. Vermont mandates minimum property damage coverage of $10,000 for injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident, while South Carolina requires $25,000. In the “Anatomy of an Auto Policy,” distributed by State Farm Insurance Company in Bloomington, Ill., customers are advised, “When shopping for insurance, it’s important to look at more than the total cost. Become familiar with the amount and type of coverage that is being offered. “Also, note what isn’t being covered, who is covered while driving your vehicle and the quality of customer service in the event of an accident. The bottom line is that you should understand your policy and buy the amount of insurance you think you need.” There are some basic terms you
need to know about automobile insurance when picking your policy. Each provide coverage for different elements of an accident: * Bodily Injury Liability -- Covers claims and lawsuits by people injured as a result of an accident you cause. * Property Damage Liability -- Used in claims and lawsuits for property damaged as a result of an accident you cause. * Personal Injury Protection -Coverage for injuries sustained in an automobile accident by you or other persons covered under your policy. * Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage -- This pays for property damage or bodily injury if you are in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist (a driver who does not have the minimum level of insurance required by law) or a driver who is insured, but who has less coverage than your underinsured motorist coverage. * Collision -- Covers damage to your vehicle as the result of a collision with another car or other object. * Comprehensive -- This is used for damage to your vehicle that is not a result of a collision, such as theft of your car, vandalism, flooding, fire or a broken windshield. It also pays if you collide with an animal. Most coverages, particularly those that ensure damages to someone else will be paid, are mandatory. In some states, additional underinsured motorist coverage is optional. Collision and comprehensive is almost always at the buyer’s discretion -- however, if your vehicle is financed, it may be a requirement of the finance company. There are other optional coverages
Insurance is vital in protecting yourself and your assets, but the price can go up with senior and younger drivers./Creators Syndicate
that are nice to have, such as rental reimbursement in the event your vehicle is damaged in an accident. When it comes to picking your policy, Becky McMenomy, a licensed agent with Ike Tolks in Petaluma, Calif., said, “To know what liability limits a person should carry, they need to do a quick financial analysis to determine what assets they have that can be at risk in a lawsuit -- equity in a home, savings, even their paycheck. A person should have higher liability limits than their assets.” Variables such as age, gender,
personal driving history, region, the car itself and even the driving records of others with the same risk factors will play an important part in premium rates. “If a person can’t afford what they think they need, I work with my policyholders and prospects to find coverage they can afford,” she said. “We can use higher deductible options, lower liability limits and take off any fringe coverages. Then we can increase things back up to where they should be as the customer can afford to.” — Chelle Cordero, Creators Syndicate
A hybrid or not a hybrid? They're not for everyone Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases most people make in their lives, so it's only natural to take the time to weigh your options carefully. The unlimited amount of choices that car buyers face can be overwhelming -- black or red, sedan or SUV, import or domestic, new or used, shop online or visit a car lot. Now another question has come up for potential car buyers: What about a hybrid? The concept is simple, yet the results are significant. A hybrid has a gasoline engine just like you would find in any car, but it also has a batterypowered electric motor. There's no need to plug in the car to recharge the batteries -- the gasoline engine provides the power. Hybrids also generate
electricity from the heat that comes from the brakes, a process called regenerative braking. When the car is rolling along at slower speeds, typically up to 25 miles per hour, the electric motor does the driving without taking a sip from the gas tank. The motor turns itself off when the car comes to a stop, when a traditional car would sit idling, burning gas and fouling the air. As the car picks up speed, the gasoline engine begins to take over, the electric one shuts down and the batteries recharge. This results in miles per gallon numbers previously unheard of. Hybrids average around 40 to 45 mpg, with some peaking around 50 during optimal driving conditions -- typically stop-and-go driving around
a city when the car would be powered entirely by electricity. Burning less fuel not only means spending less money, it also results in less exhaust fumes being released into the atmosphere. "Buying a fuel-efficient vehicle is a great way to minimize your personal carbon footprint," said Jim Kliesch, a senior engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists. While saving money and polluting less should sound appealing to everyone, driving habits determine whether it makes sense to go hybrid. A
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What will your car look like in 10 years? Still waiting for that flux capacitor? You may not be going "Back to the Future" any time soon, but greener cars that check e-mail, change color with the flip of a switch and prevent drivers from running red lights are on the horizon. "It's going to be wild. The next ten years should be quite interesting," said Karl Brauer, editor-in-chief at Edmunds. com. SAFER CARS In the next 10 years, safety systems will get smart -- very smart. "One thing we know for sure -- cars will keep getting smarter and more capable of countering driver error, coinciding with greater connectivity," Brauer said. Lane departure warnings, rearview backup cameras and collision avoidance technology are already on the scene. The 2010 MercedesBenz E-Class, for example, features high-tech alerts to counter driver drowsiness and a crash avoidance system that automatically engages the brakes to avoid imminent collisions. Future versions will rely on GPS and internal "smart" computers to keep drivers out of harm's way. "Your car will have an awareness of its surroundings," Brauer explained. "Your car will not only know where it is on the planet, it will know where all the other cars are around it and be able to talk to those cars." Vehicles of the future will automatically reroute themselves to avoid accidents, steer clear of emergency vehicles and even prevent drivers from breaking the law. "In theory, we might never have a car run a red light -- the car won't let you go through a red light. It will stop itself," Brauer said.
SMARTER CARS In the coming years, GPS navigation systems will be as standard as CD players, but they'll do way more than plot your route. "Cars are becoming mobile offices. With the increasing amount of traffic in modern cities and the average commute getting longer and longer, it's becoming more desirable to be productive in the car," Brauer explained. Imagine locating the cheapest gas in town, booking a hotel room and checking e-mail all from behind the wheel, just by saying the word. Voice-recognition software might even let drivers dictate responses. Your car will likely connect with everything from your home -- pull into the driveway and the lights automatically turn on -- to the service station. Pull in for your regular oil change and the mechanic may have already downloaded service records from your car's computer. "Anything you can think of that you can do from your house with an Internet connection, you will be able to do from within your car," Brauer said. GREENER CARS Today's greenest vehicles will soon be a thing of the past. In the quest for everbetter gas mileage and lower emissions, electric/diesel hybrids look very promising. "A diesel hybrid makes absolute sense," Bauer said. "Electric motors are good at low speeds, whereas diesel engines are great in highway situations. They can hold a high speed with minimal gas usage. It's the best of both worlds." Volkswagen has been toying with the idea for years -- recent reports point to a full diesel hybrid Golf that gets 70 miles per gallon. It's been dubbed the "Prius-killer."
For short trips, the car will cruise through in-town traffic using no internal combustion. A regenerative braking system will help keep the nickel-metal hydride battery charged. Hit the highway and the superefficient diesel kicks in. There's no official word on when the Golf hybrid will hit the market, but expect plenty of copycats to follow. COOLER CARS From MINI Cooper to Scion, manufacturers of today's customizable cars are gaining quite a following -- and turning heads. With swap-out panels in an array of colors and dozens of choose-your-own accents like stripes, flags and insignias, these brands bank on the public's desire to express their
individuality, and the trend will only continue. "Being able to personalize your car will be big," Brauer said. "To an extent, modern cars are all essentially the same. They're all comfortable, safe, dependable and wellengineered, so manufacturers look for ways to differentiate their brands." As burgeoning technologies get cheaper and easier to produce, drivers can look forward to changing the color of their car to fit their
THE FUTURE AWAITS The Scion iQ, pictured, tells of a future of cars where customizable cars will find many fans. / Creators.com photo courtesy of Scion
mood. "Digital screens are all over the place. They've become more durable and more affordable. I wouldn't be surprised if one day the exterior body of your car is like a rolling television set that you can alter as easily as flipping a switch," Brauer said. â€” CREATORS.COM
YHybrid From page 12
driver that spends most of the time on the highway or long stretches of country roads wouldn't be a good candidate, since the electric motor would be off most of the time. The hybrid is a city slicker, ideal for drivers that encounter a lot of stop signs, red lights and traffic jams. Knowing that you're not burning gas when you're sitting in traffic makes an unpleasant experience a little less painful. The first hybrid that arrived on the U.S. market was the Honda Insight, a small twoseater that had limited appeal to American drivers, who love their big cars and SUVs. It wasn't until Toyota unveiled the Prius and gas prices began to rise that drivers began to take notice. Unlike the Insight, the Prius is a sedan, with four seats and a larger trunk. Now on its third generation, Toyota's main hybrid dominates the market. "They made the vehicle not only more fuel efficient, but slightly larger and slightly more powerful, letting the consumer have the cake and eat it too," Kliesch said. Improving technology has also made the sticker price more comparable to a traditional car, according to Brian Moody, road test editor for Edmunds.com. "The price difference used to be significant, and now that cost has
come down somewhat," he said. Drivers considering a hybrid now have a larger selection to choose from. The Prius is king, but Honda still has the Insight, an inexpensive option that has recently been revamped. If driving performance is a major factor, the Toyota Camry is a step up. The electric motor is actually a little quicker, Moody said, and the switch to the gasoline engine is seamless. Lexus hybrids offer more comforts and accessories, like leather seats and a 14-speaker stereo. Even drivers that don't want to give up their SUVs have an option, with the Chevy Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade the best-known SUV hybrids, according to Moody. They're too big to run on the electric motor only, but they offer better mileage than the traditional models. "The Tahoe can get around 20 mpg, which is pretty good for the type of car that it is," Moody said. Hybrids are an option to consider, but Moody said that it still pays to compare. "There are several out there, but make sure that the price that's paid is not significantly more than what you could get a similar car for." â€” Tom Roebuck, Creators.com
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YEconomy From page 9
survey taken by AutoPacific. While many economy cars offer little in the way of high-tech gadgetry, Nerad cited the Kia Soul as offering some fun extras generally found only in more expensive vehicles. Under $13,500, â€œthe KIA Soul is a pretty cool car,â€? he said. The exterior appearance of this â€œboxâ€? car belies a popular high-tech entertainment system within. Here youâ€™ll find an iPod compatible USB that allows you to play favorite music with on-voice command, which is standard on the base model. Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and steering wheel audio controls also come standard in the Soul Plus, which still comes in under $15,000. The diminutive Smart Car also received a mention from Nerad. Built by Mercedes-Benz, the golf cart-sized automobile is noteworthy for its ease of slipping into unbelievably small spaces and for getting 33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. The Smart Fortwo Pure listed price is less than $12,000, with keyless entry and a rear window defroster as part of the package. Youâ€™ll also get a glass roof, sport steering wheel, CD player and power heated side mirrors when you buy the Smart Fortwo Passion, listed at just under $14,000. While â€œrakish,â€? â€œwell appointedâ€? and â€œloaded with high-tech gadgetsâ€? may not be the best descriptors for most of the autos in the economy class, many a buyer is content, and maybe a bit smug, with his or her smaller, less opulent choice in this recession-squeezed period. Driving a new car you can afford while getting up to 41 miles per gallon can be extraordinarily satisfying.
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