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Updated: 9 min 5 sec ago

Home on the road: Insight and advice about America's driving habits

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Our homes may be our castles, but as we do more and spend more time in our vehicles, our four-wheeled chariots are not too far behind.

We eat, talk, work, and sometimes even dress in our vehicles. We do things we’re not supposed to – specifically, texting. And we’re increasingly imposing the same behavior on our cars that we do on our houses.

Eating: These days, the comfort of a dining room or a kitchen table with dishes is no longer a meal requirement; Americans are taking it to the streets! The Hankook Tire Gauge Index revealed that 30 percent of Americans eat at least one meal a week in their car.

Cleaning: Surprisingly, despite the potential mess from the occasional road meal, most American drivers are still managing to keep their little home on wheels in good condition. The Gauge also found that 71 percent of drivers are keeping their car well-managed and 12 percent say they keep their car pristine.

Smoking: Much like in a house, Americans are enforcing the “no smoking” policy in their cars, as 71 percent of Americans say smoking tobacco is their biggest pet peeve in a car. Next to the smoker, 38 percent believe the backseat driver as the biggest car irritant.

Texting: Bad habits in our homes can sometimes be transferred to the car and can be equally hard to break. Nobody likes texting at the dinner table and it should certainly be frowned upon behind the wheel. However, Hankook Tire’s quarterly Summer Gauge index found that despite the strict laws against it, as well as the obvious dangers, 16 percent of Americans text while driving.

Time alone in the car is important for some so it is no wonder so much is being done during that time. But certain habits like multitasking, namely texting while driving which can divert attention from the most important tasks in the car such as driving and safety, should be left at home.

Pay attention to these factors to reach your destination smoothly:

Play it safe: Mute the sound or turn off your phone every time you climb into your car. According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting while driving increases the risk of accident 23.2 times over unimpaired driving.

Keep a spare tire handy: According to the Hankook Summer Gauge Index, in the past month, only 41 percent of Americans have checked that their spare tire is ready to use. Before embarking on any road trips, make sure your spare tire is neatly packed in your trunk, inflated to its proper setting, and in working condition if needed in an emergency.

Maintain steering and suspension in proper alignment: Whether it’s the front or rear of your car, misalignment of the steering and suspension can seriously affect the safe operation as well as the stability of a vehicle. Additionally, it can cause rapid and uneven tire wear. When alignment is not corrected, the lifespan of a tire is vastly diminished.

Select the right tires: It can be easy to forget just what kind of tires you have on your vehicle. Be sure to check to see if you’re using the appropriate tires. The new Hankook Ultra-High Performance Ventus V12 evo2 and High Performance All-Season Ventus V2 concept2 tires are perfect for handling varied road conditions.

Categories: Lifestyle

Smart ideas to get your car running, and looking, its best before your next road trip

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Are you a self-proclaimed road warrior who loves when other drivers do a double take to admire your well-cared-for car? Do you like to make others envious of your engine’s soft purr, your car’s immaculate finish, manicured curves and polished accents? Even if you’re not a car connoisseur, summer travel is upon us and now’s the time to get your vehicle road trip ready – inside and out.

Tune in to tune up

Before you hit the gas, it’s important to make sure your car is running properly so you don’t end up stranded on the side of the road. First, check the fluids – oil, coolant, brake and windshield washer. If it’s almost time to get the oil changed, get ahead of the game and do it before you leave. A long road trip can put additional stress on your motor, but clean oil can keep things working properly.

Another way to keep everything running smoothly is to maintain the health of your tires. This not only creates a much safer driver experience, allowing you to handle the car better, but also saves money on fuel. Review your vehicle owner’s manual for the correct air pressure for your specific tires.

The condition of the exterior tire surface should be cared for as well. Driving on bald tires can be extremely dangerous and can cause you to lose control in slick conditions. Tires also tend to heat up on long trips and thin tire walls can result in unnecessary blow-outs. To make sure you have proper tire tread, insert a penny in between several different tread grooves across the tire with the bottom of Lincoln’s head facing down. If the tire tread doesn’t touch honest Abe’s head, it’s time to invest in a new set of tires.

Lastly, check to be certain all lights and signals are functioning properly. Sit in the car and turn each light or signal on and off while a friend observes. This will ensure you can properly communicate with other drivers on the road, especially during night time travel.

Primped and polished

Now that the inner workings of your ride have been tended to, it’s time to give the outside a makeover.

First, give your car a quick wash and then some personality. A fast and affordable way to enhance the look of your ride is with Custom Wrap Removable Coating from Dupli-Color. Change the color completely or simply add a racing stripe or modify your wheels in a few steps.

Whether you’re cruising in a car, truck or motorcycle, the spray on, peel-off formula provides a smooth finish that lasts months, perfect for an extended getaway. Plus, it can be removed in a matter of minutes without the need for tools or solvents.

Custom Wrap comes in six matte finishes – Carbon Black, Graphite Metallic, Performance Red, Arctic White, Patriot Blue and Jet Grey – and even shields against surface scratches from dust and dirt, while protecting from rain, snow and UV exposure. If you happen to notice any pre-travel nicks and chips on the finish, use an exact-match touch-up paint tool, like Scratch Fix All-in-1, to quickly and affordably conceal, cover, seal and protect.

Get your gear in gear

Now that your car is prepared for the road trip ahead, it’s important for you to make sure you’re equipped with everything you need to make your getaway a success. These days, many cars come equipped with GPS but you never know when that might malfunction or a signal is lost. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to have a paper map handy in case you need to take a detour or would like to break your planned route and go exploring.

To avoid frequent stops, take tasty, filling snacks like pretzels, granola bars, trail mix or beef jerky. Bottles of water will keep you hydrated, but don’t overdo it otherwise you’ll be making several pit stops along the way. And don’t forget to make sure your glove compartment and trunk are both stocked with emergency essentials like a flashlight, jumper cables, roadside flares, blankets and a first aid kit. And, of course, no road trip is complete without a fun playlist to act as the soundtrack for your journey.

Once you’ve followed these necessary steps to make sure your car is functioning properly and looking great, consider that your green light to go. The open road awaits you.

Categories: Lifestyle

Make the most of summer: 4 easy ways to go boating

Tue, 07/15/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Itching to get on the water and have some fun this summer? Whether it’s fishing, sailing, cruising or watersports, they’re easier and more accessible than many think. Even better? Boating is one surefire way to make every summer weekend feel like a vacation close to home.

Boating is a popular American pastime, with an estimated 88.5 million Americans getting on the water each year, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. What’s more, boating is close to home with 90 percent of Americans living within an hour’s drive of a lake, river or ocean perfect for boating.

"The reality is there's a boat for every budget and for boaters, being on the water creates priceless experiences - whether it’s fishing, watersports, sailing, personal watercraft or cruising, spending time on the water with family and friends creates memories for a lifetime," says Carl Blackwell, president of Discover Boating. "Being an avid boater, I know how accessible it can be and how important it is to do your research to figure out what kind of boat fits your budget and lifestyle. One of the best kept secrets is how to get on the water without owning a boat - consider it research since it gets you on your way to becoming a boater before you own one." has four budget-friendly ways to get your feet wet this summer:

* Join the club: Boat clubs are one of the best ways to experience the boating lifestyle. There are thousands of boating clubs and organizations across the U.S. that offer everything from sailing to powerboating and watersports. Members receive access to a fleet of boats for use, plus clubs usually provide maintenance, storage and boating education. Find a club near you using the boat club finder.

* Get schooled: Boating schools and courses are a great way to take the helm and learn the rules of the water. Hone your sailing or powerboating skills by learning the basics in boat operation and have fun in the process. Check out a list of courses and find one that floats your boat close to home.

* Test the waters: Rental options have come a long way with hourly or daily rentals to peer-to-peer options making boating even more accessible. Boat renters can now rent directly through boat owners, creating an affordable way to use privately-owned boats equipped with amenities from insurance to boating education. Another popular option is fractional ownership, similar to lodging timeshares, where members can pre-schedule use of the boat online, and week-long charters that let you fully experience the boating lifestyle.

Climb aboard: Looking to captain your own vessel? There’s a boat out there for every budget, interest and body of water. Use the Discover Boating boat selector tool to narrow down the search for everything from price to number of passengers to boating activities and more. The tool matches you with boats that fit your needs, so you can do your homework and have a head start on shopping.

This spring and summer, don’t get left on the dock and take advantage of the warmer weather aboard a boat. Whether curious about boating or looking into ownership, explore opportunities to get your feet wet and experience the fun of life on the water.

Categories: Lifestyle

Keep your car cool on the road this summer

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Summer temperatures can be notoriously hard on your car. Whether it’s a summer road trip or your daily commute to work, you could potentially find yourself stranded on the side of the road with an overheated engine or driving with no air conditioning. While you can’t prevent normal wear and tear on your vehicle, it is possible to take preventive measures to protect your car from unfortunate and inconvenient break downs. Here are some simple maintenance tips for you to keep your car cool before the temperatures get any higher.

Check the air conditioning (AC) – Ideally you should have the air conditioning in your vehicle checked before the warmer months begin but chances are you didn’t notice your AC wasn’t blowing cold air until you turned it on for the first time. The key to keeping your AC working correctly is to ensure all the components are working and there are no leaks. These components include the compressor, condenser, evaporator, pressurized refrigerant, valves and hoses. Have your system inspected and make sure your technician or mechanic is trained and certified in diagnosing and repairing air conditioning systems. He or she should be looking for worn seals and o-rings, loose fittings, cracked or damaged belts and connections.

Refresh the fluids – Whether it’s a summer refresh or you’re getting the car out of storage for the first time this season, be sure to change the oil and the filter before you head out on the road. You should also and check other fluids such as transmission, steering, coolant and brake fluid that may either need replacement or topped off.

Keeping it cool – If you haven’t checked your coolant levels recently, the general rule is to flush the radiator and add new coolant at least every two years. Consider using a radiator coolant additive, like Royal Purple’s Purple Ice, during hotter months. The high-performance radiator conditioner can be used with anti-freeze or straight water. Using Purple Ice will prevent overheating, keep the system clean and extend the life of the water pump.

Taking these simple steps to make sure your vehicle is in good working order during the hot summer months will allow you to enjoy your ride instead of sweating it out on the side of the road.

Categories: Lifestyle
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