You can never have too many car care tips, right?
You can never have too many car care tips, right?
Forget the number of models available, the number of body styles alone can be overwhelming: coupes, sedans, station wagons, crossovers, SUVs. How do you decide what you need?
Coupe/Convertible: If you want a car that makes a statement about you, coupes and convertibles are typically the most expressive designs, but restricted access to the back seat (if the car you are considering even has one) seriously limits their practicality.
Sedan: If there are kids in the picture or in the near-future plan, four doors are a likely requirement. Even if children are small enough to ride comfortably in the back seat of a coupe with any regularity, consider the difficulty of constantly climbing into and out of the back seat to tend to a child before committing to just two doors.
Hatchback: If you add another door—bringing the total to five—you’re looking at hatchbacks and station wagons, which offer SUV-like space without the dynamic and fuel-economy compromises of heavier vehicles. As manufacturers get increasingly creative and design ever more stylish hatchbacks—their roofs are sleeker than wagons’—the market is warming to the segment.
SUV/Crossover: Jack up the ground clearance of a hatchback or station wagon, and you have a crossover or an SUV. Do you need that ground clearance? Probably not. When was the last time your road didn’t get regularly plowed or cleared? Sure, it happens—most often to those in the northern part of the country, and that’s a few times a winter—but the fuel-economy penalty of opting for a taller and heavier vehicle is something that affects you every time you start the car.
Those who tow regularly already know they need something with that capability. But if you need a truck only to tow a few times a year, perhaps renting in those instances is a better alternative to living year round with the fuel-economy penalties of a truck.
Minivan: Those with large families—or dreams of such—often resist the practicality of the van, but if you routinely haul five or more people, there is no vehicle short of a school bus that will better accommodate six, seven, or eight passengers. A jumbo SUV like a Chevrolet Suburban or Ford Expedition EL has more cargo space, but passengers will find greater comfort in a minivan.
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When it comes to winter car care, many motorists think of antifreeze and batteries, but vehicles need extra attention in winter, especially when a bomb cyclone hits and temperatures drop.
“Most people never heard of ‘bombogenesis” until heavy snow and dangerous cold recently hit many areas of the country, including several states that usually don’t experience this type of severe weather,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Making sure your vehicle is properly prepared for the elements will help you avoid the aggravation of an unplanned road emergency.”
The non-profit Car Care Council offers six quick tips to help your vehicle perform at its best during cold weather months.
Drivers should stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, extra clothes, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication. The Car Care Council also recommends a thorough vehicle inspection by a trusted professional service technician as winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
First of all, check your gas cap! Believe it or not, it’s been estimated that nearly 17% of cars on the road have broken or missing gas caps. What’s the big deal? Escaping fumes not only hurt fuel economy but release smog-causing compounds into the air.
While you’re at it, slow down. For every 5 mph you reduce highway speed, you can reduce fuel consumption by 7%. Avoiding jack-rabbit starts and stops will improve fuel economy as well. Don’t believe it? Lousy driving on the highway can add as much as one-third to your gas bill.
The non-profit Car Care Council recommends that motorists perform a six-point winter maintenance check of areas that have direct impact on winter driving.
“Harsh winter weather can stress out a vehicle, as well as its driver,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “A vehicle that is properly prepared for the elements can help you avoid an unplanned road emergency when the weather takes a sudden turn for the worse.”
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Many states in the U.S. have passed laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving. The reason is the number of deaths attributed to this seemingly harmless activity: 2,600 deaths nationwide every year, by some estimates. In fact, those numbers may actually be too low, due to the continued rise in cell phone use behind the wheel. If you think that talking and texting while driving isn’t a big deal, consider this: One researcher compared the reaction time of a 20-year-old driver talking on a cell phone to that of a 70-year-old driver. What’s more, working a cell phone behind the wheel can delay reaction times by as much as 20 percent.
It isn’t just cell phones that cause distractions, however. Eating, applying makeup, fiddling with electronic devices or interacting with passengers also diverts a driver’s attention in potentially deadly ways.