6 Tips for Teen Car Care and Safety

This time of year many teenagers will be on the road heading off to college. For many parents, it can be scary to have a child behind the wheel and on their own.

Our own Consumer Auto Advocate, Owen Murray, was recently on WBAL-TV giving parents advice for making sure your student, and car, is safe this school year. Here are some important tips:

  1. Preparation is vital. Make sure your son or daughter is hitting the road in a safe and appropriate car. Have the vehicle examined by a certified mechanic to make sure it is in good condition. Specifically, be sure to check the tires, battery, lights, engine and that the oil has recently been changed.
  1. Get the Driver Involved. Your child should know the basic anatomy of the car they’re driving. Make sure they understand things like: the recommended maintenance schedule, the meaning of dashboard warning lights and the proper course of action and key features of the car’s mechanics.
  1. Get Schooled. Consider signing your teenager up for a defensive driving class that offers behind-the-wheel instruction. You can often recoup the cost of the class through discounts on your auto insurance.
  1. Basic Car Care 101. Before heading off to college, you may teach your teen personal safety tips, cooking and how to do their laundry, but they should also understand basic car care. Take time to teach them how to change a tire, check the tire pressure, monitor and refill wiper fluid, antifreeze and monitor oil and how to jump a dead car battery.
  1. Have the Right Equipment. Make sure there is an emergency roadside kit in the car with all of the essentials. Having the right equipment will help your teen be prepared even with the unavoidable breakdowns or emergencies.
  1. Distracted Driving is Dangerous Driving. Currently, 20% of accidents are caused by distracted drivers. Educate your child on the importance of keeping their eyes and mind on the road. An inexpensive dash mount for their cell phone allows them to keep their hands on the wheel.

And finally, it’s important to talk with your kid about the safety behind the wheel. Limiting the number of passengers, never drinking and driving or getting in the car with someone who has, never texting while driving and staying alert are all really important things to stress to your teen drivers.

Back to School Driving Tips

For many parents, the start of a new school year is a glorious thing. The kids are back on a schedule after running wild all summer. Whether it’s more time in the gym or at the office, it’s wonderful to have a few extra hours to yourself after those long summer months.

While parents might be eager to get their crazy kids out of the car and through the school doors, it’s important to take extra caution on the roads during this time of year. As kids crack open their new textbooks, we suggest you do a little reading yourself. Here are our top back-to-school driving tips.

Back_to_school(Photo Credit)

Beware of walkers and bikers

In most school districts, kids who live nearby don’t take the bus. That’s why many kids end up walking to school each day, with or without a parent. While the weather is still warm, there will be many children riding their bikes, too. When it comes to elementary and middle school aged students, pedestrian and bike safety isn’t the first thing on their minds.

Young bikers are more concerned with riding fast and doing tricks, not looking both ways and stopping at crosswalks. Drivers must keep an eye on driveways and alleyways since kids tend to zoom from these areas in a hurry. Also, be sure to come to a full halt and look both ways at stop signs since kids likely won’t do the same.

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Keep your distance

School buses make frequent stops. The rule-of-thumb is to keep the 10 feet surrounding a school bus clear. Never pass a school bus when it’s stopped to pick up or drop off children!

Beyond school buses, cars will be making more stops, too. With crossing guards halting traffic at a moment’s notice, the last thing you want to do is tailgate the car in front of you.

bus stop(Photo Credit)

Mind your manners

Being courteous can go a long way when you’re in a school zone. Remember that honking, yelling and other aggressive behavior might scare a youngster. Even if you have the right-of-way, try and refrain from honking or revving your engine.

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Also keep in mind that you should limit passing when around a school. Many times, the car in front is slowing to avoid a pedestrian or bicyclist. By passing, you run the risk of striking whatever (or whomever) that car was trying to avoid.

Set carpool rules

If you’re part of a carpool (and even if you’re not) make sure your kids understand the importance of seatbelts. More importantly, be sure that all other carpool drivers enforce the same rules and set a good example. You might even want to assess the other drivers yourself. Do this by taking a ride with other driver and take mental notes of their driving habits. If the driver texts or is aggressive while driving, perhaps you should join a different carpool.

Boy fastening his seatbelt(Photo Credit)

Brushing up on your safety tips each school year is just as important as your back to school shopping. Stay safe on the roads this year, and don’t forget to enjoy that extra time away from the kids!

Summer Road Trip Safety Tips

As summer winds down during the month of August, many families are gearing up for their summer vacation. Recently, our Consumer Auto Advocate shared summer driving tips with Fox 45 in Baltimore. Check out the video to learn how you should prepare for your summer road trip!

Mary: Oh, let’s hope you don’t need any of those this summer, right? We’re looking at jumper cables and we are talking about road trips. Of course August is a very big month for summer vacations for those road trips. If you have been putting off the preparation for your vehicle, for instance for that road trip, now is the time before you head out on the road. Before that emergency comes up, for instance. So Owen Murray is here with us this morning to talk about all the things you need to stock the car with, all the things you need to know before you set out on the road. You’re here from CARCHEX, so where should we start? Talk about prepping your car or all the items you brought with you today? It’s a good list!

Owen: Well first and foremost, you should always start with prepping your car. That is vital. It’s great taking it to a certified mechanic to have all the most important things looked at starting with your headlights, engine, wiper blades, tire pressure. Especially the spare – a lot of people forget about their spare tire, so make sure your spare tire has the proper air pressure as well. And of course prepping for your trip with the most important emergency roadside stuff. So, you have here your jumper box just in case you’re alone on the roadways. You have the jumper cables…

Mary: Great, so you don’t have to rely on someone else.

Owen: Exactly. It also has a charging socket as well, so you can plug your cell phone right into it.

Mary: Hey, fantastic! Anything that does double duty we’re on board for.

Owen: Exactly. First aid kit, side of road safety jacket. This is just as important as well. You can also use this – this is a tire pressure gauge. So, it also takes the tire pressure to tell you the actual pressure itself. It also blows up the tire, and you can use it for your family to blow up a raft and/or beach ball.

Mary: Again, another triple duty item this morning! Fantastic.

Owen: Also, some food and things in case you get stranded on the roads. For a bottle of water, you should have at least a gallon for each person that’s in your vehicle for sanitary purposes.

Mary: We always hear about folks getting stranded and not having enough to eat and drink. So, drinking most importantly.

Owen: Flashlight, most importantly. If you’re out at nighttime, you definitely want to be able to see. Jumper cables, just in case. Have an extra just in case.

Mary: An extra set, sure.

Owen: And maybe a tow rope or some duct tape to do some minor repairs on the side of the road if anything happens to you. You know it’s very important – especially nowadays – with six out of ten families traveling over 50 miles this summer for a trip, so we’re seeing an influx of traffic. So, you want to make sure to stay alert, stay off your phone. No cell phones, no texting, no anxious children. So stay alert, stay aware. And there is also a lot of traffic in the summer months due to…

Mary: Those cone zones.

Owen: Exactly, exactly.

Mary: You gotta watch out for them and keep your speed down. And yes, absolutely. Some great information, hopefully we’ve planted a seed for you this morning if you’re headed out on that road trip. Really important to do these things before you jump on the road and realize you forgot. We’ll post all the information for you. Owen, thanks so much for being here this morning.


How to Protect Your Car from the Sun

July is here and that means a few things – Independence Day, fun in the sun, Shark Week and, of course, blistering summer heat. While getting close to the shark-infested waters might be your biggest fear at the moment, we’re here to tell you about something equally frightening…. the damage the sun is having on your car.

In summer heat, we’re constantly reminded to protect our skin with SPF and our bodies by drinking lots of fluids. And yet, we rarely think of the effects of the sun on our poor vehicles.

It’s about time we started treating our cars as well, or better, than we treat ourselves in the heat. Here’s how you can start.

Make sure the mechanics are running smoothly

It takes more to keep your car’s inner-workings healthy than just taking it to the shop for an oil change. While that’s important, you’ll also want to check that belts are working, the coolant level is satisfactory and all hoses are in good condition. In addition, you should check your transmission fluid and change it if need be.

The sun can also damage the part of you car that you don’t want to be without in the summer – your air conditioning system. Minor leaks often go undetected, so you’ll want to check on that regularly. If you don’t catch the leak in time, the AC can stop working altogether.

Protect the interior

There are a few simple tools you can buy to protect your car from sun damage. Perhaps you’ve laughed at people who put a reflectorized panel in the windshield when they leave the car. But this can dramatically lower your car’s interior temperature and keep the sun from bleaching it. You can even purchase funky panels like this one.

small_lightning mcqueen sunshades

(Photo Credit)

While we sometimes forget to dust our cars, it’s especially important to keep the dash and console dust-free in the summertime. You know how the sun can cook an egg on the sidewalk if it’s hot enough? Well, it’ll cook the dust in your car too, making it nearly impossible to remove later.

Check your tires

During the hot summer months, you need to check your tire pressure first thing in the morning when the tires are cool and haven’t been rolling over the scorching pavement. The combination of hot pavement and a deflated tire can lead to an ugly blowout. And that’s the last thing you need to happen when you’re driving to the beach.

CheckTirePressure(Photo Credit)

Think about where you park

If you can, park in the shade. Seems like a pretty common sense tip, right?

While parking in the back of the lot under some trees might increase the walk to your destination, this simple act can go a long way. When parked in direct sunlight, your car can reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit on a hot day. Of course, you’ll want to be aware of summer storms and the damage a fallen tree could do.

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Wash and wax it yourself

Even though it can be fun, washing the car usually feels like a chore. But, using the right soap and drying the car correctly will keep your car looking better, longer.

Make sure you use specialty car washing soap and then hand dry. It’s best if you use a soft chamois for drying.

The other big rule-of-thumb is to plan on washing your car when it’s cool out. If you wash your car during the day, the sun will dry the car and give it a dull finish.

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You can also protect your car’s shine by waxing it regularly, which locks in the paint’s natural oils. The wax also protects against staining, which can be especially fatal in the summer when the stain will set in quickly. It’s a good idea to wax your car around twice a year or at the end of every season.

Think about tinting those windows

Tinting your windows is an easy way to cool the inside of your car and protect from sun damage. Doing it yourself can be tricky, though, so it might be a good idea to take the plunge and leave it to a professional.

You should also be aware that many states have laws and regulations when it comes to tinting windows. Make sure to do some research beforehand and make sure that tinting your windows won’t lead to a ticket or fine!

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“Summerizing” your car is just as important as winterizing it. Your car – and wallet – will thank you for the special attention!

Famous Father-Son Relationships in the Auto World

In case you haven’t marked your calendar, Father’s Day is this Sunday, June 21. Before you scramble to buy Pops a tie or maybe a case of beer to help him achieve that Dad Bod, let’s take a second and think about what’s really important: your relationship.

It’s important to remember all those bonding moments and words of wisdom that Dad has provided over the years. We put together a round-up of our favorite father-son relationships in the auto world to get you thinking happy thoughts about YOUR poppa.

ricky bobby(Photo Credit)

Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr.

Perhaps the most famous father-son duo in NASCAR is Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr. Growing up in Kannapolis, North Carolina, Dale Jr. often felt he’d forever live in the shadows of his superstar father. In 2012, Dale Jr. appeared on CBS This Morning in their “Note to Self” segment. He read a letter he wrote to his sixteen-year-old self and admitted that his relationship with Dale Sr. was often strained, but that it developed into something incredible over time.


No NASCAR fan can forget the sad day in February 2001 when Dale Earnhardt Sr. died after crashing his car on the final lap of the Daytona 500. In the years that have followed Dale Sr.’s untimely death, his son has upheld the Earnhardt legacy and has become a racing celebrity.

The Petty Family

If there’s a royal NASCAR family, it’s The Pettys. Patriarch Lee Petty started the family tradition and is considered one of the sport’s pioneers. A three-time NASCAR championship winner, he was one of the first superstar drivers.

After Lee came Richard, then Kyle and then Adam. Richard “The King” Petty won the Daytona 500 a record seven times and is statistically the most accomplished driver of all time. Kyle competed in the NASCAR Spring Cup series, was formerly the CEO of Petty Enterprises and is now co-host for NASCAR American on NBCSN. Adam, the first fourth-generation driver in NASCAR history, began racing at age eighteen and won his first ARCA race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

LEE PETTY(Photo Credit)

Sadly, Adam Petty died much too young when he crashed in a practice session for the Busch series Busch 200 race in May of 2000. In Adam’s honor, the Petty family has partnered with Paul Newman and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to begin the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

Henry and Edsel Ford

The only non-driving duo on our list, Henry and Edsel Ford, are key to the auto world as we know it. Henry Ford founded the Ford Auto Group and developed the first affordable automobile for middle-class Americans. The development of this more affordable model transformed the automotive industry forever.

ford family(Photo Credit)

Edsel was Henry’s only son, and the father and son rarely saw eye-to-eye. When Edsel became the president of Ford in 1915, he and Henry almost never agreed on major decisions. While many say Edsel didn’t leave any lasting impressions on Ford Motor Company, others disagree. He founded and named the Mercury division, strengthened the company’s overseas production and introduced hydraulic brakes to Ford automobiles just to name a few of his accomplishments.

The Andretti Family

Mario Andretti has become a racing icon over the years and his name is often used to connote speed. In the racing world, though, the Andretti name is associated with the Andretti Curse. The Andretti family has had four generations of drivers: after Lee came his sons Michael and Jeff, nephew John and grandson Marco. The Andretti Curse began after Mario Andretti won the Indianapolis 500 in 1967, and the family hasn’t been able to reclaim the title since. Maybe Marco will be the one to finally break it…

Mario-Andretti-with-family(Photo Credit)

Nevertheless, you can’t ignore Mario Andretti’s impressive career. He was one of only two drivers to win races in Formula One, IndyCar, World Sporscar Championship and NASCAR. Plus, we’re fairly certain his name is mentioned in more songs than any other race car driver.

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