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Carlisle, Pa. • Sunday, March 2, 2014 • Day 3 of 3

TRANSPORTATION

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Annual — Transportation

H2 • The Sentinel

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weak infrastructure gets new life By Andrew Carr The Sentinel Pennsylvanians familiar with road construction projects in the Midstate should expect to see even more crews out improving the infrastructure due to new transportation legislation that was recently passed. Mike Keiser, district executive for PennDOT District 8, which covers Cumberland, Perry, Dauphin, Franklin, Adams, York, Lancaster and Lebanon counties, said new projects are in the works thanks to the “Decade of Investment” projects funded by Act 89, the transportation bill. Pennsylvania is home to the nation’s fifth-largest state-maintained roadway network, the fourth-highest number of interstate miles and has the sixth-highest number of registered vehicles. Following decades of under-investment in infrastructure, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed a plan that would inject nearly $2 billion of additional funding into Pennsylvania’s transportation system. The plan aimed to offer a sustainable increase in public safety, drive commerce and create jobs while ensuring reliable funding without leaving the bill to future generations. “There is a pretty good argument that we have been underfunding transportation here in Pennsylvania for a few decades,” Keiser said. “With the district the size of District 8, we have over 5,000 miles of stateowned roadways, we have over 3,400 bridges that we are responsible for. We are at a point prior to the passing of the bill, we were starting to lose ground. If you look at our interstates and expressways for example, a lot of those have reached the 40, 50 (year mark) and perhaps even more in terms of being older facilitates. At some point in time, you have to focus on reconstruction. In

Jason Malmont / The Sentinel

Wolfs Bridge Road, Middlesex Township, is closed at the bridge. the end you may get maybe 10 or 12 years additional life out of it, but at some point in time you have to look at reconstructing the roadway from subgrade up, and this is going to give us that opportunity.”

Keiser said the goal, which will take many years, is to fix serious problem areas in need of repair, as well as widen and increase highly traveled areas. One of those areas, which i n c l u d e s a s i g n i f i ca n t amount of miles of Interstates 81 and 83, will increase lanes around the Capital Beltway to six lanes, allowing traffic to more freely move in and around the state’s capital. “All you have to do is drive these facilities every day, it just seems like congestion get a little bit longer, more periods of the day,” he said. Keiser said while current projects “paint the picture,” the new funding will allow PennDOT to continue its goal of replacing and repairing problem areas. Keiser said a significant amount of investment will be made on I-83 around Harrisburg, to the tune for $800 million, which includes areas of I-81 from Routes 114 to exit 72, at $29 to 30 million, as well as $15 million for areas from exit 72 to the 83/81 split. “Given the volumes out there, we desperately need that,” he said.

Funding needed Greg Penny, community relations coordinator for PennDOT District 8, said the bottom line is that these projects could not have been performed without the funding provided by the new legislation. “The bottom line is we were facing continually shrinking budgets, which was challenging our ability to do new projects and just really have enough funding to take care of basic maintenance. That was the trend we were on,” Penny said. “The new law has put us in a much better position to maintain the existing system that we have ... And to undertake much needed improvements that have been postponed for years.” Many of the problem areas will see an influx in work to modernize and update the problems inherent with an aging infrastructure.

Projects postponed Many of these projects had been postponed for years due to lack of funding, he said. “As an agency and a department, we have to work within the revenues that we have. Over the last few years, we have completed some microresurfacing on I-81 in Cumberland County,” Keiser said. “And again, the purpose of that really is just to extend the life of the pavement that we have out there in place. Its not a 10to 12-year fix. It is not ideal, but it is kind of where we were at to hold together our infrastructure. We have an awful lot of needs.” Included in the projects are improvements to many of the structurally deficient bridges in the area. “Pennsylvania still has the largest number of SD (structurally deficient) bridges in the nation,” he said. “It is a product of the age of our infrastructure and the size of the commonwealth.” Starting in 2009, District 8 began an Accelerated Bridge Program, which set a goal

of improving 1,045 bridges in three years and since has been increased. “We have made a lot of progress in that area,” he said. But “we still have about half of our bridges in the state that are over 50 years old so there is still a lot of work to do.” District 8, which constitutes about 10 percent of Commonwealth PennDOT programs at about $150 million, will double within the

next five years to more than $300 million, and allow for the completion of the projects, Keiser said. “We are working pretty hard. We want to make 2014 an important year for us. We will probably be rolling out some of the other projects we expect to do in 2014,” he said. Email Andrew Carr at acarr@cumberlink.com or follow him on Twitter @SentinelCarr

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The Sentinel • H3

Sunday, March 2, 2014

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Smart Works. Investing in a safe, modern infrastructure system is one of the most important things that can get our economy rolling and we’re proud to make equipment that is part of that. At Volvo Construction Equipment we’re doing our own investing right here in Pennsylvania. In the last few years we’ve invested over $140M to expand facilities and and add local production in Shippensburg. Local production creates business for North American suppliers, helps to reduce lead times for our customers and further supports the U.S. economy. Here’s to building smart. Here’s to building America. Find out more about us at volvoce.com/smartworks.


Annual — Transportation

H4 • The Sentinel

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Costs of road project planning Fixing problems can come at a price By Tammie Gitt The Sentinel Highway and bridge projects aren’t inexpensive endeavors. A quick look at projects in the pipeline for Cumberland County for the “Decade of Investment” outlined in the Act 89 transportation plan shows a wide range of prices. The low end of costs sits at $400,000 to replace a structurally deficient bridge over a tributary to Doubling Gap Creek in Lower Mifflin Township, and the higher end hits $29 million for a project widening the merge lanes at Interstate 81/Route 581 in Hampden and Silver Spring townships. Labor costs — both construction and pre-construction — play into those expenses. P e n n D O T e s t i m a te s 50,000 new jobs will be created as a result of the $2.3 billion transportation bill, and another 12,000 will be preserved.

Planning the projects Non-construction costs associated with transportation projects vary depending on the size and type of the project, said Erin Waters-Trasatt, spokeswoman for PennDOT. “For example, maintenance-type projects involving asphalt overlays typically involve nominal planning and design costs, averaging about 5 percent of the construction cost,” she said. Major projects require more extensive planning, design and inspection, which carries highly variable costs. “These costs can reach 20 percent of major project costs,” Waters-Trasatt said. Planning studies alone fall into a wide cost range. Tim Reardon, executive director of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, said

Jason Malmont / The Sentinel

The Harvey Taylor Bridge that connects the East and West shores of the Susquehanna River was one of the bridges studied in the Cross-River Connections study released in December 2013.

“The decisions that we make now are for the future. What is the need, and is that need going to be there 75, 100 years from now?” Tim Reardon, executive director of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission the commission has conducted planning studies for as little as $5,000 or for as much as $600,000, depending upon how extensive the study is. The $400,000 CrossRiver Connections study is one of the more extensive studies, and it shows how complicated study funding can be. The study, conducted by the commission through the Harrisburg Area Transportation Study in cooperation with PennDOT, evaluated the four bridges connecting Harrisburg and the West Shore. In its 100page draft final report released in December 2013, the study recommended a number of near-, mediumand long-term safety and mobility improvements to the bridges. “The decisions that we make now are for the future,” Reardon said. “What is the need, and is that need

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the staff’s work on the project. Firms such as GannettFleming should get a boost from the transportation funding plan. “For many of our members, transportation funding is the bread and butter of their business,” said Eric Madden, executive vice president of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania, noting that there has not been a revenue increase since 1997. The council is comprised of more than 125 member firms throughout Pennsylvania that offer engineering expertise in a wide range of disciplines. Stagnant funding has challenged engineering companies, said Dave Lowdermilk, president of the council. The work wasn’t there to hire or invest in recent graduates. Now, the companies will work to bring new graduates on board, and train them to do the work planned as a result of the transportation bill.

going to be there 75, 100 years from now?” Funded entirely by the Federal Highway Administration’s Statewide Planning and Research funds, the study employed East Pennsboro Township-based Gannett-Fleming to do most of the work on the study. Gannett-Fleming then used its share of the funding to hire subcontractors — Navarro & Wright Consulting Engineers of New Cumberland, which was paid roughly $24,000, and Wordsworth Communications of Cazenovia, N.Y., which was paid roughly $8,000. Wordsworth Communications are specialists in writing and editing for infrastructure projects who helped design materials for the Cross-River Connections open house. Tri-County Regional Saving money Additional investment Planning Commission also received $30,000 for the in transportation has been study to cover the cost of coupled with cost-cutting

measures in both the design and build phases of projects, which some say don’t cut deep enough. There has been some effort to standardize construction in an effort to contain costs. For example, bridges between 18 and 22 feet can be standardized to allow builders to “almost mass produce” them and bring them to the site, Reardon said. “That’s a very good approach to reducing costs,” he said. Reardon said the state is also creating public-private partnerships in which an engineer is engaged to design and build bridges in bulk. In that system, a couple hundred bridges would go out in a single bid. “That should bring the cost down on a per-bridge

basis,” he said. However, state Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-199, said the Legislature missed an opportunity to address labor costs, which would have made a “serious impact” on the overall costs associated with bridge and road work. “The bill did contain a small improvement — a very modest change — in the threshold at which projects fall under the prevailing wage act, but it was a very minor change,” he said. T h e p reva i l i n g wa ge threshold for locally funded projects, which had not been raised in 52 years, increased from $25,000 to $100,000 in the transportation bill. Email Tammie Gitt at tgitt@cumberlink.com or follow her on Twitter @SentinelGitt

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Annual — Transportation

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Sentinel • H5

Is there a link between car color, accidents?

Some common misconceptions on fuel efficiency Metro Creative Connections

• Use daytime running lights when available to make your car even more visible in all weather conditions. • Leave for trips early enough so that you’re not rushing and being aggressive on the road. • Drive with weather conditions in mind, slowing down when necessary. • Avoid distractions in the car. Taking your eyes off the road for mere seconds can result in lost opportunities for accident avoidance. • Always wear seatbelts, even for short trips. • Make sure you keep your car well maintained so that breakdowns do not contribute to accidents on busy highways. While car color may play a role in accident rates, there is no definitive answer as to why certain cars are more prone to accidents than others.

Average cost of light truck is $30,000 According to the most recent information from forecaster TrueCar.com, the average price for a new car or light truck is

$30,303. This figure represents a roughly $1,200 increase from 2011. Even used car prices have increased.

Metro Creative Connections Purchasing a used vehicle carries some risks. A used car buyer may not know the complete history of the vehicle or if any shortcuts were taken regarding its maintenance. One increasingly common problem preowned vehicle buyers are running into is odometer fraud. Consumers are estimated to lose billions of dollars due to odometer fraud, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Odometer tampering is a serious crime that can fool buyers into believing a vehicle has far fewer miles on it than it really does. Sellers are able to fraudulently market cars and trucks at higher prices based on lower odometer readings. People also might able to circumvent mileage quotas on leased vehicles by turning back the odometer. The U.S. Office of Odometer Fraud Investigations has seen an escalation in this type of illegal activity. Increased demand for lowmileage used cars has made odometer tampering more profitable. The Consumer Federation of America estimates one in 10 cars have had their odometer rolled back. According to Carfax Vehicle History Reports, “clocking” or “spinning” an odometer is relatively easy to do. While older cars had to have the odometer dial turned back by machine or manually, today’s digital dashboards enable crooks to reprogram digital odometers using inexpensive software. Many consumers do not learn of odometer fraud until it is too late.

Digital odometer fraud is difficult to detect because there are no moveable parts that can appear manipulated. Much like a hacked computer is often discovered too late, so, too, is a tampered odometer. However, there are some steps consumers can take to protect themselves from odometer fraud. • Compare the mileage on the odometer to the mileage listed on maintenance or inspection records. Check oilchange stickers on windows as well. • Look for inconsistent wear and tear compared to the miles on the odometer. An older car will have wear on the gas, break and clutch pedals. A vehicle with fewer than 20,000 miles should have its original tires. • Check the mileage listed on the title with the odometer. If the mileage notation is hard to read, this may indicate fraud. • Request a vehicle history report to determine whether odometer rollback took place. This will match up the mileage reading according to the VIN number. • If the gauge on a mechanical odometer is crooked or misaligned, this may indicate tampering. Odometer tampering is illegal. If the vehicle was sold with an altered odometer, the dealer or private seller could be liable. If others are responsible, it is the sellers’ responsibility to locate them. Unfortunately, rollbacks are usually done by a third party, removed enough from the seller as not to incriminate the person. This frequently makes prosecution difficult. It is up to the buyer to take proactive steps to avoid odometer fraud.

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Fuel efficiency is an important issue for car buyers, and understandably so. Conserving fuel is good for drivers’ budgets and the planet, so the concept of fuel efficiency would seem to benefit everyone. But just because fuel efficiency is a good concept does not mean there are not misconceptions about it among drivers and automotive professionals alike. The following are some of the more widely held misconceptions about fuel efficiency. • Full tanks conserve fuel. People long believed that a nearly full tank of gas means the fuel within that tank is less likely to evaporate, and that half-full tanks are losing gas to evaporation. Although this might have been the case years ago, today’s vehicles are smarter than ever before, and fuel systems are designed with vapor recovery systems so drivers traveling around with tanks that are closer to empty than full aren’t losing gas to evaporation. • Manual transmissions are more fuel efficient. Technology can once again be credited with turning conventional wisdom on its head. In the past, manual transmission vehicles might have been more fuel efficient because drivers could more efficiently control engine revving with a 5-speed manual transmission than they could with the standard 3speed automatic transmission. However, automatic transmissions have evolved over the years, and they are now more adept at controlling revs and conserving fuel than many drivers of manual transmission vehicles. • When you fill up matters. Some drivers have long believed that filling up during the cooler hours of the day earns them more gas than filling up when the temperatures are at their peak. This theory traces its origins to the fact that liquids are at their most dense when they are cool. But today’s filling stations store their gas in tanks beneath the ground, which is why you might see a

tanker emptying its contents into the ground at the filling station. These underground tanks are insulated from temperature swings, so you aren’t likely to receive any more gas by filling up in the morning than you will when filling up at night. • An old vehicle is destined to be less fuel efficient. Any product that is allowed to fall into disrepair will prove less efficient than products that are well maintained, and cars are no exception. A poorly maintained car will not operate at peak fuel efficiency because it’s likely being forced to work harder to get down the street than it would if it were well kept. But a well-maintained vehicle should not grow less fuel efficient over time. • Shifting into neutral while stopping saves gas. This is another misconception that was once true but no longer applies thanks to advances in technology. When engines still had carburetors, shifting into neutral might have helped conserve fuel by stopping the flow of gas into the engine while the car was idling. However, fuel injection systems are now computerized and capable of sensing when an engine is revving above idle. This shuts off the fuel injectors, preventing gas from being injected into the engine and preventing gas from being wasted while the vehicle is stopped as a result. Taking steps to conserve fuel is a good way for drivers to save money and benefit the environment. However, some of the conventional means to conserving fuel are no longer viable.

play, such as usage of lights and other features. The National Safety Council has stated the safest car color to be “one that is highly visible in the widest range of lighting, weather and vision conditions.” They also indicated that white is most visible in uniform lighting but can be an unsafe color in bright sunlight, snow and fog. Furthermore, safety behind the wheel has a lot do with driver ability. Defensive driving and being observant on the roads can significantly reduce accident risk. Here are some other ways to reduce accidents. • Do not tailgate. Leave an adequate cushion between your car and the one in front of you to allow for braking or maneuvering around an obstacle.

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The color drivers choose for their car may say something about driver personalities and preferences. It also may play a role in the propensity to get into an accident. Various studies have been conducted to determine if a certain car color puts a driver at a greater risk for a crash. Though it’s difficult to pinpoint which color vehicles are most likely to be in accidents, common sense suggests that certain colors that are more conspicuous on the road are more easily seen, and this may make them less prone to accidents. Daimler Benz once conducted a study on the conspicuousness of cars. White cars were the most inconspicuous, followed by black, dark red and blue. Darkcolored vehicles tend to be the most difficult to see on the road and therefore might be most prone to accidents. Another study from researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand in 2003 showed that drivers of brown cars had a higher risk of injuries in car accidents. Black and green cars also were involved in a high number of car accidents resulting in injuries. In addition, findings also indicated that people who drove silver cars had

a 50 percent less chance of being involved in accidents resulting in injury. The reason why certain color vehicles are involved in more accidents was missing from the studies. Visibility may play a role, which would make lighter color vehicles less prone to accidents. Another point to consider is that certain colors may be favored by individuals who have specific driving tendencies. For example, silver and gray cars are often seen as conservative and may be driven by an older demographic that is more cautious on the road. Black cars are often viewed as sleek and may be favored by those who like to push the envelope regarding speed. While vehicle color might play a role in accidents, other factors also come into

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Annual — Transportation

H6 • The Sentinel

Sunday, March 2, 2014

What to do when faced Drive defensively in hazardous conditions with an auto recall Metro Creative Connections New cars are purchased or leased to provide a reliable mode of transportation. But some vehicles malfunction even when they are fresh off the dealership lot. Other times, manufacturers or safety watchdog groups determine that certain cars and trucks have an issue that requires a recall to keep roads safe. Vehicle recall statistics are difficult to pin down. That’s because there is no standard rate of recalls per year, as recalls depend on safety statistics for particular makes and models. For example, in 2009 more than 40 million Toyota vehicles were recalled due to a faulty gas pedal. An automotive recall is how manufacturers inform drivers that there could be something about their cars or trucks that presents a risk of injury or property damage. The recall may be independently conducted by the manufacturer or ordered by a safety group,

such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The recall involves the manufacturer providing a free, safe and effective remedy for the faulty component. When a recall is announced, drivers might not have to immediately visit a dealership to have the problem corrected. Owners should wait for an official letter. The letter will narrow down which vehicles are affected. There should be a specific window of time presented in which the vehicle can be repaired. Vehicle owners are urged to pay attention to the performance of their cars or trucks to see if they are exhibiting any problems. If so, schedule an appointment for repair according to the recall instructions provided. The notification letter should include the risk of hazard posed by the problem as well as the free remedy and how long the repair should take. There also should be a description of what an owner can do if he

or she is unable to have the problem remedied within a reasonable amount of time and without charge. If repair work has been done on a vehicle prior to knowledge of the recall, owners may be eligible for reimbursement for their expenses, provided they kept their receipts. While reimbursement for damages that the defect may have caused are not covered by recalls, owners may be able to solicit reimbursement privately. The following are steps to take when informed of a recall: 1. Contact the dealer service manager and explain that you are inquiring about work required as part of a recall. 2. If the manager has not remedied the situation and provided the next steps, contact the manufacturer, which should be able to handle the situation. 3. If all else fails, Americans can contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www.recalls.gov.

Tips empower older drivers Brandpoint The shiny paint. The new car smell. Many aspects about buying or leasing a new vehicle can excite your senses. Once you are inside your new vehicle, you are probably asking yourself a lot of questions. Where will I put my sunglasses? Is the trunk big enough for my groceries? What does this button do? Chances are, your new vehicle will feature some new technologies, many of which can make driving safer, easier and more enjoyable. To be safe on the road, it’s important to learn how these technologies work in your current vehicle or a new one. The Top Technologies for Mature Drivers guide is a new interactive tool that outlines the top 10 new vehicle technologies that are most beneficial for mature drivers. Based on research

conducted by The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab, it has 10 animated videos that demonstrate how the technologies work. It can be found on the AARP Driving Resource Center at www. aarp.org/drc. “Learning about vehicle technology is an important component of feeling empowered, confident and safe behind the wheel,” said Jodi Olshevski, gerontologist and executive director of The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence. “The Top Technologies for Mature Drivers tool is a great way for drivers to see how these technologies can be used to enhance the driving experience.” Recent research shows 55 percent of drivers older than age 50 plan to buy or lease another vehicle in the next five years, indicating that more and more drivers will encounter new technologies in their vehicles.

“The most important thing you can do to make the best use of new automobile technologies is to continue your education,” says Julie Lee, AARP Driver Safety vice president and national director. “Increasing your awareness of changes to automobiles, traffic laws and roadway designs and learning how they impact your driving may bolster safety, comfort and improve confidence behind the wheel.” An AARP Driver Safety course helps you learn about the latest technology options and traffic laws. You’ll learn new skills to improve your defensive driving techniques ,and completing the course could help you get a multiyear discount on your auto insurance (check with your agent for details). You’ll find all these benefits in just one class, available in-person or online.

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Metro Creative Connections Driving defensively is the best way for motorists to avoid accidents and protect themselves and their passengers from the risks of the road. But the importance of defensive driving is magnified when driving in hazardous conditions, especially when drivers’ vision is potentially compromised. Driving when visibility is poor can test the skills of even the most seasoned and careful motorists. Though even novice drivers know to be especially cautious when driving in snow or heavy rain, extreme weather is not the only thing that can make roads hazardous for motorists and their passengers. Highway construction that produces debris, poorly lit roads and driving during certain times of the day when everyone seems to be in a rush all can compromise drivers’ vision. As a result, it’s imperative that motorists take steps to protect their vision when driving in hazardous or even potentially hazardous conditions. • Replace old or ineffective wiper blades. Maintaining wiper blades is an easy preventative measure drivers can employ to protect their vision, yet many motorists are unaware of just how frequently their vehicle wiper blades need to be replaced. Wiper blades should be changed every 90 to 120 days, as the blades easily can grow brittle and ineffective over time. Depending on how frequently they are used, wiper blades can wear

out rather quickly, especially on older vehicles with pitting on the windshield. Wiper blades are relatively inexpensive to replace, and can make a world of difference when driving in hazardous conditions. • Don’t forget to maintain your windshield. A windshield can be a motorist’s best friend or his worst enemy when driving in hazardous conditions, but savvy drivers know there is no excuse for the latter. Windshield clarity is especially important when driving in hazardous conditions, and windshields that have been treated with a repellant are significantly safer than those that have not. “Driving in wet weather is inherently dangerous, and driving risks increase considerably with the inability to see clearly through the windshield,” said Dennis Samfilippo, general manager of Philips Automotive. A one-time treatment just a few times a year keeps windshields clean and visibility at a maximum. The Philips Windshield Treatment Kit is a do-it-yourself kit that can make windshield glass easier to clean for up to six months after application. Drivers can even take advantage of a new instructional YouTube video titled

“Windshield Treatment Kit Video,” which shows users the exact steps they need to take to help improve their field of vision in difficult driving conditions. The video can be found at www. philipsautolighting.com/ windshieldkit. • Check windshield washer fluid. Windshield washer fluid is one of those things drivers typically only notice when it isn’t there. Routinely inspect windshield washers to ensure they’re working properly, and top off windshield washer fluid so you know it will be there when you need it. • Clean interior glass and mirrors. It’s easy to overlook interior glass and mirrors when cleaning a car, but a dirty vehicle interior can be as dangerous as it can be unsightly. While coffee-stained cup holders or spilled snacks under vehicle seats are largely cosmetic concerns, dirty interior glass and mirrors can significantly compromise a driver’s vision. When cleaning the interior of their vehicle, drivers should remove any film that has built up on interior glass and mirrors. Such buildup, which is often thicker in smokers’ vehicles, can reduce vision and create a hazy reflection from the sun, putting drivers and their passengers at risk.

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Annual — Transportation

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Sentinel • H7

Do homework before buying car Family Features While driving one off the lot with a new can be exhilarating, many consumers wonder if they bought the perfect car at the best price. For those looking to add a new automobile under their tree, there are a few factors to consider. There is a little-known way for consumers to purchase the car of their dreams — through an automotive rewards card. A recent survey found that only 5 percent of consumers have a rewards card with automotive benefits, meaning most Americans may not even be aware of this type of credit card reward. Of course, the best way to make sure you’re getting the most for your money is by conducting a little research before ever starting the buying process. After all, car buying is fun when you know exactly what you want, how much it will cost and how you’re going to pay for it. Here are a few things to consider be-

Some simple steps can make your car-buying experience a positive one. fore you step on to a car lot. Figure out what you can afford: Buying a new car can be one of the biggest purchases most people ever make. Some experts suggest capping your car payment at no more than 20 percent of your monthly take home pay. You can keep the cost

down by looking for dealer sales and other savings options, like the GM Card from Capital One. The card allows users to accumulate earnings and redeem them towards the purchase or lease of a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle. Consumers earn 5

percent on their first $5,000 worth of net card purchases annually and an unlimited 2 percent on all other purchases. Car buyers are offered value, simplicity and the ability to earn and use rewards with no expiration and no limits on how much they can apply toward a new

automobile. Narrow down your choices: Although a sporty twoseater might be the perfect choice for a single driver, families might be equally as thrilled with a brand new crossover or sedan. When looking for a car, write down what’s important to you. Consider such things as seating capacity, gas mileage, safety and performance. Armed with this list, you’ll be able to narrow down your choice to that perfect set of new wheels. Get the best deal: Any major purchase requires keeping an eye on the bottom line. Follow the automotive section of your local newspaper or get on the Internet to find the best sales. You should also look for incentives and rebates to lower the car’s cost. Another savvy money saving idea is to cash in the rewards you’ve accumulated on your credit card. For example, the GM Card from Capital One comes with no annual fee and offers no limits and no expirations on the rewards

consumers can accumulate. According to Capital One’s survey, nearly 60 percent of consumers who hold an automotive reward card have unused earnings. Explore your options: Few aspects of the car buying process are more fun than looking at all the bells and whistles. Luxurious upholstery, power locks, remote keyless entry and heated mirrors are some conveniences many new car owners wouldn’t want to live without. Others may covet DVD systems, high-tech audio equipment, satellite radio, hands-free phones or navigation systems built into the dash. Make a list of your must-haves. Before you step onto the showroom floor, it’s important to know exactly what kind of car you need, how much you want to spend and what options you consider necessities. Armed with this knowledge, you can then negotiate the best price and ride off in the car or truck of your dreams.

Demand for diesel rising with mileage, technology Brandpoint Not that long ago, finding a diesel car or truck — a truck with fewer than 18 wheels, anyway — on an American highway was about as rare as an icy road in July. Not so today. The era of dirty, smelly and noisy diesel vehicles has gone the way of the eighttrack tape player, clearing a path for high-profile and increasingly popular diesel sedans, SUVs and pickup trucks.

Fueling great mileage One of the main advantages of diesel vehicles is their excellent fuel economy. Diesel fuel costs about 7 percent more than gasoline at the pump but it can take

a car or truck much further down the road. On average, a vehicle running on diesel fuel gains 30 to 35 percent in fuel efficiency over a vehicle running on traditional gasoline. Diesel fuel has a greater amount of energy per gallon than gasoline, said Neil Hoff of CHS, a company that produces diesel fuel for fleet operations across the country. This is why a diesel car can average closer to 50 miles per gallon on the highway. Similar to traditional gasoline, consumers can upgrade at the pump to a premium diesel for added performance. “Using a premium diesel fuel, such as Cenex Roadmaster premium diesel, can increase fuel efficiency and power by an-

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Responding to demand Though long popular in Europe, diesel vehicles have not yet enjoyed widespread popularity in the United States. However, American automakers are taking a cue from consumers who desire an alternative to gasoline-fueled cars. For example, Chevrolet has introduced its 2014 Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel, a compact car that boasts 46 mpg on the highway; and the

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel claims to drive up to 730 miles on one tank of gas. Other companies, including Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, all offer diesel varieties that carmakers hope consumers will warm to. Trucks are not left out of the equation, with diesel pickups available from Chevrolet/GMC, Ford and Ram. Laura Anderson of Minneapolis has owned a dieselpowered Volkswagen Passat for more than a year. “I do a lot of highway driving,” Anderson said, “so the great fuel economy and the power of the diesel engine are what sold me on giving diesel a try. I’m very glad I made that decision. I love my car, and I love saving so

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Powered by technology Diesel engines, too, have undergone great advances, such as high-pressure injection technologies that promote engine health and longevity. “Diesel engines have come a long way in the past de-

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