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RepairPal Blog:

Tips & Tricks

Helpful car maintenance advice and useful tips on all things car-related

In a crash, a simple pen sitting harmlessly on the dashboard can be as dangerous as a knife. In a front-end collision, a can of beans stacked at the top of the grocery bag can be propelled forward with more force than a Nolan Ryan fastball. At 55 mph, a twenty-pound object can hit with a thousand pounds of force—so powerful that a suitcase can literally dismember the arm of a crash test dummy.

 

Last week, we reviewed highway driving habits. This week, let’s review some city driving issues. City driving is generally done at a much slower pace due to traffic lights, stop signs, and crosswalks. Over the past twenty years, as city traffic has increased, we have all noticed that many people do not take these three traffic control measures as seriously as they have in the past. This has increased the danger for drivers and pedestrians alike.

Here are some reminders for each …

When you're a parent, you tend to worry about anything and everything when it comes to your kids. It's hard enough watching Billy go to Kindergarten the first day or deciding if young Maggie is ready to date, but watching your teenager get behind the wheel and driving away has to be one of the most stressful moments of parenting. Here are some tips that will help both you and your teenager when he or she is ready to drive.

1. Come up with a contract

A recent weekend getaway got me to thinking—what makes a “good” driver? A good driver is not only a safe driver; he also does his part to help traffic flow smoothly, thus easing congestion. Are you a good driver? Here’s a little quiz; let’s see how you do.

Do you slowly make your way up the acceleration lane when entering the freeway, forcing others to slow down or move over to the next lane to allow you in?

When I first got my car, I loved everything about it except for the automatic door locks. When I reached 9 mph, all of the doors would lock. I had to press the unlock button on the keyless remote three times to get the doors to unlock. When I shifted into “Park” and shut off the engine, the doors remained locked so all of my passengers would frantically pull on their door handles while I tried to find the unlock button on the driver’s side door.

I began to worry. What if my car fell off the Golden Gate Bridge and I had to make a watery escape? Would I be able to unlock the doors in time for everyone to swim away? What if I was in an accident and the locked doors prevented me from exiting the vehicle? This “safety” feature was starting to me make feel … unsafe.

According to the National Association of Attorneys General, complaints about auto repairs consistently rank among the top ten grievances filed by consumers. In 2008, auto repair complaints ranked #6 on the list. One of the major reasons why? People think that repair shops are trying to sell them services they don't actually need and overcharging them for those services.

Since the average person knows little about car repair, it easy to feel overwhelmed when talking to your mechanic, especially now that car manufacturing has become so sophisticated technology-wise. If it was hard to grasp what a head gasket is, it’s almost impossible to comprehend computerized systems.

According to AAA, 94 percent of Thanksgiving travelers are choosing the roads over the skies this year. While gasoline prices are still rather high, it’s still cheaper to drive once you factor in those extra baggage fees, taxes, and tacked-on costs that come with air travel. Also, by driving, chances are you will avoid the full body scanner and invasive pat-down you might receive at the airport.

Whatever the reason, those of us who are driving to our turkey dinners should consider the following tips to ensure a safe passage and a timely arrival at our destinations.

I owed my best friend a phone call, so last night, I picked up the phone and gave him a ring. The minute he answered, I knew by the tin-can distant timbre of his voice that he was in his car. He is a salesman and is in his car a lot, so he was speaking to me hands-free, but it still makes me nervous. I would rather wait to talk until he gets home, but with his wife and two kids at home, he probably is less distracted talking to me while he was driving.

Sure enough, as we neared the end of our conversation, he takes a wrong turn and starts laughing about it. “I can’t believe I took just went down the wrong street—and I live here!” I can believe it. Just because he isn’t holding a phone to his ear doesn’t mean he is paying full attention. But if you asked him, he wouldn’t say he was distracted while driving since he was hands-free. I beg to differ.

Buying a new car is stressful—Can you afford it? Is it the right car to buy? Are you getting the best price you can? Should you go for the upgrades? How much will maintenance be? It stresses me out to even buy a plane ticket, so the thought of purchasing a new car makes my stomach hurt.

Back in the late 1990s, my best friend bought a new Honda Civic. It was a huge decision, especially considering we were right out of college. But she needed a car and Hondas are always reliable, right?

Yesterday, my partner’s sister came over with her daughter, who was born a few weeks ago. While they talked, I was watching Isabel, who was sleeping in her car seat. Of course, within five seconds of being under my care, she woke up and started to cry, so I thought picking her up and comforting her would be a good idea. I unbuckled the little seat belt, pulled the straps to the side, and reached in.

And then I stopped.