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Updated: 39 min 53 sec ago

Catch a glimpse of fall colors on these awesome off-road trails

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - The fall months are a great time for families to enjoy the great outdoors with the changing of colors and much cooler temperatures. If you don’t already have a fall escape weekend planned, you might want to consider scheduling one soon.

Interest in outdoor adventures is on the rise, especially for women, with more than 80 percent of women surveyed by Polaris considering themselves adventurous.

There’s no better way to experience the vibrancy of fall but to immerse yourself and the family in the brilliance, and an off-road vehicle provides a front-seat view. For family members of all abilities who want to drive their own off-road vehicle on the trails, the single-seat Polaris ACE is designed with the comfort and capability people want in an ATV, but with the security of a UTV for additional confidence when riding the trail. The high-backed, adjustable bucket seat is combined with an adjustable steering wheel to ensure the ride is about experiencing the outdoors in comfort.

If you’re interested in seeing some of the best colors America has to offer, check out these off-road trails designed to showcase vibrant reds, shimmering golds and deep purples that will have you catching your breath in awe of the beauty.

Copper Harbor, Michigan – This small town was given the best of Mother Nature’s talents overlooking Lake Superior. The drive to the tip of the Upper Peninsula is long, but Cooper Harbor provides an extensive system of off-road trails running along the lake’s shoreline. Keep in mind, fall colors change earlier in the UP along the shore, so consider planning your fall trip for around the first weekend in October.

Rock Run Recreation Area, Patton, Pennsylvania – The Allegheny Mountains combine a beautiful combination of oak, cherry, yellow poplar, ash and maple trees for a colorful fall blend that starts around the last week of September and peaks around the second week of October. Rock Run has 140 miles of trails to keep your family entertained for a long weekend, and you can easily find a camping spot in the three campgrounds spread around the recreation area.

Paiute Trail, South Central Utah – As the largest trail system in the nation, this is an opportunity your family can’t pass up, especially if you want to see some gorgeous fall colors. Many of the trails weave their way through Fishlake National Forest, which has a blend of deep green coniferous trees mixed in with the colorful orange and gold hues of aspens. The trail system is so extensive, your family will always be looking around the next corner from your Polaris ACE to capture a glimpse of new canyon, lake, scenic overlook or quiet valley.

Hatfield-McCoy Trails, West Virginia – With 700 trails ranging from easy to the most difficult, your family will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the off-road riding, the scenery of the mountains in Southern West Virginia and spend some quality time together. There is no camping allowed on the trail system, but there are plenty of bed and breakfasts, cabins and campgrounds, as well as hotels and rental homes scattered throughout the six counties the trails cross. The second and third week in October tend to offer peak fall colors, so be sure to book your lodging early for your family excursion.

Clark and Jackson Counties, Wisconsin – With 227 miles of ATV and UTV trails available in these two counties, your family will have no difficulty filling a long fall weekend with fun and sightseeing. Clark and Jackson counties are known for their beautiful rolling hills, wandering streams and plentiful wildlife. Oaks, maples, birch and pine trees are common, providing a beautiful backdrop of color along the trails.

These are just a few of the many off-road trail options scattered across the country. Start planning a fun, mini fall vacation for your family to experience the colors in a whole new way, from the seat of an off-road vehicle.  With two power options, 32 and 45 horsepower, the Polaris ACE provides just enough power for beginners and a spirited ride for the more advanced rider ensuring a fall colors experience like no other.

Categories: Lifestyle

Shopping for a new vehicle? 5 questions to ask yourself before signing on the dotted line

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - It’s that time again - time to buy a new car. Maybe you’re excited because you’ve been dreaming of getting new wheels for a long time now. Or maybe you’re nervous; buying a car is a big financial commitment and you want to make sure you do your homework. If you fall into this second group, don’t worry; these five simple questions can help you find a vehicle that fits your lifestyle.

* Is it a lemon? When you purchase your vehicle, the last thing you want to do is shop for another car in a couple of years. Picking a reliable vehicle is key. So how do you do it? Make a list of the vehicles you’re interested in and head to the Web to research previous vehicle recalls. If you are buying a used car, websites like CarFax.com and others can also show you the history of that particular car, giving you insight into just how reliable it will be.

* Where’s the value? Whether safety is your top concern or you want the most vehicle for your money, it’s all about value. USAA, which provides car buying guidance (or help) and recommendations to its members, recently released its fourth-annual Best Value list identifying the top vehicles for 2014. The list includes vehicles that finished at the top of USAA’s preferred propriety rating system, which evaluates safety, reliability, cost and other factors. There is also a list of the top 10 vehicles for teens, which you can review if you’ll soon be sharing a garage with a new driver.

* How will you pay for it? Behind safety, financing is probably the most important thing to consider when buying a new car. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you’ve thoroughly researched your financing options. And remember, you have other options besides what the dealership offers you.

* Are there any physical concerns you need to remember? Not every vehicle is perfect for every person. Think about yourself and who will most often ride with you. If you or your passengers are very tall, a smaller sedan may not make sense. Likewise, people who have mobility challenges may not be comfortable getting into a large pickup truck.

* Will it grow with your family? Sure it fits your needs now, but what about next year? The year after that? Whether it is children, pets or joining the office carpool, consider the fact that the space you need presently might not be the space you need even a year from now.

Shopping for a new car can be an exciting experience, but it can be nerve-wracking as well. As you begin your search, remember these questions and you’ll be closer to finding the vehicle of your dreams. To learn more about USAA’s Best Value list, visit usaa.com/bestvalue.

Categories: Lifestyle

Auto insight: What makes synthetic oil different from conventional oil?

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - There was a time when you were considered a “responsible” vehicle owner if you changed the oil and oil filter every 3,000 miles and had your tires rotated every other oil change. It turns out that while it is good practice to maintain your vehicle on a schedule, breaking out of that traditional oil change mind set and utilizing premium synthetic oil can ultimately save you time and money.

What makes synthetic oil different from conventional oil? There are two components that determine how well motor oil will perform in your car. One factor is the base oil and the second is the combination of chemicals (additives) that are added to the base oil.

Mineral or conventional oils are by-products of refined crude oil. Refining helps reduce the impurities in the oil, but its end product has molecules that vary in size. This inconsistency in size can result in restricted flow when working its way through the engine. Synthetic oil molecules are manufactured and are all the same size and shape. This creates less friction in the engine and allows the oil to move throughout the engine smoothly resulting in better performance.

Additives added to the base oil are what give the oil the characteristics needed to do its job. Although additives are typically only 15 to 25 percent of the make-up of motor oil, they can impact a lubricant's performance much more than the base oil. For example, mineral-based motor oil with a very good additive package can easily outperform synthetic motor oil with a mediocre additive package. There is no easy way for a consumer to determine the quality of motor oil's additive package. Price is often an indicator of quality since the more advanced additive technologies cost more to produce. Performance is the ultimate measure of additive package quality.

There have also been advancements in additive technologies that allow synthetic oil manufacturers to offer consumers a product that will allow them to go more miles between oil changes. By going 10,000-12,000 miles instead of three, depending on your driving habits, you could be changing your oil once a year instead of four times! This benefit of using synthetic saves the owner time and money, and reduces the impact on the environment with less oil waste that has to be disposed of.

So you decide to switch to synthetic oil, but even then not all synthetics are alike. For example premium synthetic lubricant manufacturer Royal Purple offers three different types of synthetic oils to meet a variety of consumer needs.

* Warranty compliance – This API licensed motor oil is for consumers who have newer vehicles and are concerned about warranty compliance in both gasoline and diesel engines.

* High performance - High Performance Street (HPS) motor oil is ideal for vehicle owners who are no longer worried about warranty compliance and are seeking a higher level of performance and protection.

* High mileage - HMX is high mileage motor oil especially formulated with zinc and phosphorus and Royal Purple’s proprietary additive technology Synerlec in vehicles with 75,000 miles or more.

There are several benefits can you gain from using premium synthetic oil. This includes: increased fuel efficiency; better wear; and corrosion protection that will extend the life of your vehicle. Taking care of your investment by using synthetic motor oil is a money saving step that savvy owners choose.

Categories: Lifestyle

Teenagers not driving safe cars, study shows

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Taking the driving test and earning a license is a cherished rite of passage for teenagers across the country. With their license in hand, they view the road as their gateway to independence and they eagerly look forward to what’s around the next curve. In order to do this, however, a teen must have access to a car.

Many families with teens look for a used car for the family’s newest driver. Used cars can help a family stay on budget with a new driver in the family, but new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that many teenagers are not driving vehicles that have good crash-protection features. The research found that teenagers tend to drive older vehicles, which are less likely to have safety features such as electronic stability control and side airbags. Teenagers who drove a vehicle that the family already owned were even more likely to drive an older model. In a survey, two thirds of parents with teens driving a car that was already in the family said the vehicle was a 2006 or older model. Another study found that among 15 to 17-year-old drivers in fatal crashes between 2008 and 2012, 29 percent were in mini cars or small cars, and 82 percent were in vehicles at least 6 years old.

In light of these reports, here are some guidelines for providing teenage drivers with the safest vehicles:

* Avoid high horsepower – Teens may want speed and power, but this temptation can overwhelm immature and inexperienced drivers. Vehicles with higher horsepower can tempt teens to exceed the speed limit or cause them to lose control on curvy and hilly roads.

* Weight and size – Vehicles that are larger and heavier provide better protection for drivers and passengers in a crash. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did not include any mini cars or small cars on its list of best vehicles for this reason. There are some small SUVs included because they are heavier vehicles.

* Electronic Stability Control – Computer technology is helping to make cars safer for all drivers. Be sure the car you purchase for your teen has Electronic Stability Control, which helps drivers maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads. This technology started appearing in luxury cars in the 1990s, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has implemented rules requiring this technology in all new passenger vehicles sold in the United States since 2012.

* Best crash test ratings – The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides safety ratings for the most popular cars, SUVs and minivans. Vehicles for teens should perform well in these tests and those conducted by NHTSA.

Based on these guidelines the IIHS has created a list showcasing the best choices for used vehicles in several price ranges. The list of the best vehicles for teenage drivers includes vehicles that meet these safety recommendations, including standard electronic stability control, which is especially important for teens. They are also sorted by price to help parents research the best vehicles and match their own budget. The research found parents pay on average about $9,800 for vehicles for their teens, but many spend far less.

“Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to get a safe vehicle for a teenager at the prices most people are paying,” says Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research. “Our advice for parents would be to remember the risks teens take and consider paying a little more.”

Visit the IIHS to learn more about safe cars for teens.

Categories: Lifestyle
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