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Do You Really Need to Change the Transmission Fluid?

 The manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for many automatic transmissions doesn’t call for fresh fluid until 100,000 miles or, with some Ford transmissions, even 150,000 miles. A lot of mechanics say that is too long and it should be done at least every 50,000 miles. Manual transmissions may be on a different schedule, so it’s best to consult the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual.

Like other vital automotive fluids, transmission fluid deteriorates over time. Hard use — such as frequent stop-and-go city driving, hauling heavy loads, trailer towing — will accelerate the deterioration. That kind of driving raises the operating temperature of the transmission, and heat puts more strain on the transmission and the fluid, which helps facilitate gear shifts, cools the transmission and lubricates moving parts.

If you do a lot of driving under high-stress conditions, you should check the transmission level more often and have a repair shop check the condition of the fluid. Transmission fluid often is red but can come in other colors, and as it deteriorates it tends to turn darker. It may also acquire a burned odor that could indicate it needs to

Is Cheap Gas Bad for Your Car?

 Gasoline is expensive and you’re looking for every way possible to save money at the pump. You already shy away from premium fuel, knowing that your car doesn’t require it. You’d like to save a few pennies per gallon more by going to an off-brand gas station. But you can’t get rid of the nagging fear: Is the cheap gas going to damage your car’s engine?

Edmunds.com put this question to experts in several fields, including an automotive engineer at a major carmaker, gasoline manufacturers and two engineers with the American Automobile Association (AAA). It boils down to this: You can stop worrying about cheap gas. You’re unlikely to hurt your car by using it.

Because of the advances in engine technology, a car’s onboard computer is able to adjust for the inevitable variations in fuel, so most drivers won’t notice a drop off in performance between different brands of fuel, from the most additive-rich gas sold by the major brands to the bare-bones stuff at your corner quickie mart.

Still, spending a few extra pennies per gallon might provide peace of mind to someone who just

How Old and Dangerous Are Your Tires?

 More recently, an investigation into the cause of the accident that killed the actor Paul Walker revealed that the Porsche Carrera GT in which he was riding had nine-year-old tires. The California Highway Patrol noted that the tires’ age might have compromised their drivability and handling characteristics, according to the Los Angeles Times.

These incidents illustrate not only the potential danger of buying used tires but also the perils of driving on aging tires — including those that have never spent a day on the road.

For years, people have relied on a tire’s tread depth to determine its condition. But the rubber compounds in a tire deteriorate with time, regardless of the condition of the tread. An old tire poses a safety hazard.

For some people, old tires might never be an issue. If you drive a typical number of miles, somewhere around 12,000-15,000 miles annually, a tire’s tread will wear out in three to four years, long before the rubber compound does. But if you only drive 6,000 miles a year, or have a car that you only drive on weekends, aging tires could be

3 Things That Can Wait Until You Are Done Driving

We live in a do-it-now society

Remember when phones were connected by a cord? When you needed to call someone, you waited until you got home. Or perhaps you had those family vacations where dad drove all day and you stopped for a picnic lunch and for supper in a roadside diner.

Not anymore. We live in a do-it-now society. When you think of something, you do it. We have access to a variety of very convenient things that allow us to multitask. It’s not always bad. But the temptation is to multitask when driving.

Here are four things that you shouldn’t do while driving. Wait until the vehicle is stopped before you do these things

Calls: Increasingly, laws are being passed to ban handheld mobile devices while driving. This is a good idea. Our attention is diverted and so is one hand while driving. Wait until you stop the vehicle before making or taking a call

Eating: Who needs a side-of-the-road picnic anymore when you have fast food that is carefully wrapped and ready to eat? Unfortunately, we end up more focused on our burger and cola (and perhaps finding that dropped pickle)

What to Do After a Collision

Statistically, nearly everyone will be involved in some form of collision in their lifetime. Thankfully, most accidents that occur are minor and involve minimal injuries and auto body repair. Getting into a vehicle accident can be an overwhelming experience. However, having vehicle insurance in place, protect you from repair expenses to your vehicle and may cover you in case of injury.

If you get into a vehicle collision, there are a few things that can be done post-collision to ensure your safety and minimize stress during the insurance claim process and to ensure a seamless collision repair experience.

Move Your Vehicle

At the time of the collision; most drivers feel that it’s best to leave the vehicle where the accident took place. However, if it’s safe to do so, the vehicle should be moved out of the flow of traffic, as this can help avoid further collisions (by pulling onto a shoulder or side street). Be sure to turn off your vehicle as soon after the collision as possible to prevent further danger from potential leaking fluids which can be combustible. Be sure to turn your hazard lights on to warn drivers of the collision

5 Tips for Driving at Dusk

The Challenges of Driving At Dusk

One time of day we don’t think about is dusk. Unfortunately, dusk is a very difficult time to drive. Here are five top tips to drive at dusk:

1. Be aware of the quickly changing light conditions. One moment might be extremely sunny so we are forced to wear sunglasses, but within moments, the sun can darken and our sunglasses end up doing more harm than good. If we don’t have sunglasses, be aware that the rapidly changing light conditions can be very difficult on our eyes (which have a hard time adjusting to those fast-changing conditions). There isn’t a lot you can do about it but awareness helps.

2. Be aware of the setting sun. Have you ever had momentary blindness after a camera has flashed? The same thing can happen if we look into the sun while. This can happen if we are driving west during sunset or if we are driving east (and see the sun reflected in our mirrors). If possible, use your vehicle’s shades and adjust the mirrors. Consider pulling over to the side of the road to wait for sun to set, or

Top Reasons to be a Safer Driver

There Is A Disconnect Between What We Say and What We Do

Not because we are necessarily hypocritical by nature, but when we are behind the wheel, we might be in a hurry and therefore have an “incentive” to rush and make riskier driving decisions.

One of the ways that you can be a safer driver, is to provide an incentive to be a safer driver. This needs to be greater than the incentive to rush when we get behind the wheel.

How can we create a stronger incentive?

Here’s one:

Take out your wallet. Now pull out the pictures of your spouse and your children. Before you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, think about them. Consider how your safe decisions behind the wheel right now will ensure that…

  • You get to see them today
  • You get to see the joy on their faces when you drive them to play sports
  • You get to continue to provide for them by going to work
  • You get to go on family vacations with them

Now consider the opposite… the “cost” of making unsafe driving choices…

  • You may become hurt or killed and therefore

How to Preparing for Winter Driving

Be Prepared!

  • Pack the appropriate gear in your vehicle (like survival gear for longer trips and salt or sand plus a shovel for in the city). If you never need it, great. But the one time you do need it will make it worthwhile.
  • Winter driving requires extra time. Plan to leave an extra 15 or 20 minutes earlier whenever you drive. You’ll need a couple of minutes to brush the snow off the car and the roads will require a little extra care when navigating.
  • Be extra careful at intersections. Intersections are extremely dangerous in the winter! Leading up to the intersection, the roads become polished from constant braking so they can be extra slippery. As well, snow banks can block your vision… and keep other drivers from seeing the stop sign! Brake early when approaching an intersection, assume that other drivers aren’t going to be able to stop on time, and edge out slowly when snow banks keep you from seeing clearly around corners.
  • Remember that it is slippery out! This might be a “no brainer” to you, but even the most careful drivers need to remember that other drivers are less careful. Therefore, even if you are

Five Ideas for an End-of-Summer Road Trip

Here are a few tips to enjoy one last end-of-summer weekend road trip

These iseas won’t break the bank or require that you burn up any more vacation time, but will put the finishing touches on a great summer.

• The explorer. Get out the map and sit down with your travel partner and find a place that is a three to six hour drive away… but it must be a place that neither of you have ever been to. Call ahead to locate a place to stay. On Saturday morning, head out on your trip and discover an entirely new place! Return home Sunday morning but take a different route.

• The scavenger hunt. This is a day-long in-town road trip! You and your travel partner each write out a secret list of 20 or more things you might see around town and put each item on a separate 3×5 card. (Some ideas include: a pond, a cathedral gargoyle, a sequence of street address numbers, a cell phone tower, a mailbox of a specific color, etc.). On your “road trip”, the driver pulls a card from the secret list created by the passenger and

Tips to Organize a Local Car Show

Tips for Organzing Local Car Show

• Decide on a theme. Do you want a classic car show? Do you want a motorcycle show instead? Do you want an antique car show? Or maybe just a general car show that auto enthusiasts of any type can participate in?

• Gauge interest. Talk to potential participants to see if they are interested in taking part. Check a calendar of local events to make sure that there aren’t other car shows at the same time.

• Choose a charity or local cause to raise money. You’ll also need to decide how to raise support — will you charge admission? Will you hold a raffle? Will you take donations? Remember, it doesn’t have to be financial support; your local food bank will probably welcome donations of canned goods.

• Find a good location. Your location should be central to the area you hope to draw a crowd from. Talk to the owner of a restaurant, ice cream shop, or coffee shop; they might welcome a car show in their parking lot if it will draw crowds to their establishment.

• Start advertising! You’ll need to advertise

Tips to Stay Safe While Driving in Winter

So how do you drive more safely in the winter? Here are some top tips to help

  • Keep a greater distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. In the summer, your vehicle might be able to stop on a dime but in the winter, your vehicle takes much longer to stop as ice and snow reduce the friction of pavement. It gets even worse around intersections. By maintaining a greater stopping distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, you give yourself room to stop if the road is icy
  • Ease out at every intersection. All intersections get icy in the winter. In many jurisdictions, snow plows push snow onto the corners to clear it off the roads. So visibility is dramatically reduced. Slowly ease out of each corner and listen for vehicles as you go
  • When you hit an icy patch, steer into the skid. This is one of those lessons that every Canadian is taught but it’s so easy and instinctive to forget. When driving (and especially when turning) your back tires can start to slide around to one side or the other. When this happens, turn into the skid to correct
  • Carry a snow shovel