Category: Automotive

NASCAR and Its Fan History

Millions of racing enthusiasts tune in to watch their favorite NASCAR drivers every weekend. Whether filling the stands in person or watching on television, NASCAR fans are drawn to the action and the sport’s storied history. It is believed that what would ultimately evolve into car racing began during Prohibition times when “runners,” or those who delivered moonshine, souped up their cars to evade federal tax agents. These runners took pride in evading the law and would hold informal races to determine who had the fastest car and greatest racing chops. Eventually the need for smuggling booze waned, and car racing became a more respectable sport. On February 21, 1948, the National Association for Stock Car racing was officially incorporated, although the first official NASCAR race took place six days earlier. The sport would go on to be one of the most popular spectator activities in North America and is now a multibillion dollar industry.

NASCAR owes its beginnings to mechanic and auto-repair shop owner William “Bill” France, Sr. of Washington, D.C. France became interested in racing after relocating to Daytona Beach, Fla., which he discovered was a hotbed for racing enthusiasts. France involved himself in racing cars and promotion. France felt there should be a sanctioning body to govern the sport, so in 1947, he organized a meeting in Florida to discuss the future of stock car racing and conceived the notion of NASCAR with other members of the racing community.

As NASCAR amassed its legions of fans, it also helped solidify the star status of many drivers. Richard Petty, David Pearson, Dale Earnhardt Sr. (and later Junior), Jimmie Johnson, and Jeff Gordon are just a few of the notable drivers who have torn up tracks. In 1998, amid 50th anniversary celebrations, NASCAR put together a list of the organization’s 50 Greatest Drivers. Living members of the group were honored during pre-race festivities for the 1998 Daytona 500.

NASCAR has built its reputation not only on quality races, but also through sponsorship. In the history of NASCAR, there have been only three naming rights partners: RJ Reynolds, Sprint/Nextel and Monster Energy, which took the reins in 2017.

Those unfamiliar with NASCAR may think that the NASCAR season never ends. However, there is a defined season. The race season, comprising 38 races, starts in February and ends in November. Races are conducted on privately owned race tracks, all of which are asphalt or concrete. Although NASCAR has southern roots, tracks were built in California and Las Vegas to tap into newer audiences. NASCAR has been around for decades, and new stars and fans are made each year.

How to Safeguard Your Vehicle from the Elements

In a perfect world, all vehicle owners would be able to park their cars and trucks in garages. In such a world, automobiles would not be vulnerable to sun, storms and other natural elements that, over time, can contribute to wear and tear. But many drivers cannot or choose not to park their cars in garages.

Some are content to let their vehicles brave the elements, while others look for ways to protect their cars and trucks as much as possible. Drivers who count themselves among the latter group can take these simple steps to protect their cars and trucks from whatever Mother Nature has in store for them.

Park in the Shade

Parking in the shade can protect both the interior and exterior of a vehicle. Shaded areas protect upholstery and dashboards inside the car from sun-induced fading, while also limiting the damage sun can cause to exterior paint. Faded paint may hurt the resale value of a vehicle, prompting prospective buyers to walk away or at least wonder if a vehicle with a faded exterior was well maintained.

Wash and Wax

Washing and waxing a vehicle helps to minimize damage that’s inevitable regardless of where drivers park their cars. Dirt and debris litter roadways, and over time cars can collect a large amount of these unwanted stowaways. If dirt and debris are not removed, they can cause long-term damage to vehicle exteriors. Washing and waxing a car can ensure its exterior looks good and reduce the likelihood of rust and other corrosion from occurring.

Don’t Write Off Bird Droppings

Some drivers, especially those who do not park their cars and trucks in garages, may write off bird droppings as an annoying yet harmless side effect of vehicle ownership. However, bird droppings are acidic and, if left to their unsightly devices, can cause permanent damage to vehicle paint. Tree sap is an equally formidable foe, potentially causing scratching because it can be very difficult to remove without spreading. Specially formulated sprays can help drivers remove bird droppings and sap from their vehicles.

Employ a Car Cover

Drivers who have garages but use them to store things other than their vehicles can use car covers when parking their cars in their driveways. Covers protect cars from the elements and can be quickly and easily removed. Nature can be harsh on vehicles. Protecting automobiles from the elements should be a priority for drivers, especially those who do not park their cars and trucks in garages

8 Tips for Maximizing Garage Storage

Most people are pressed for garage space, regardless of the size of their house, from DIYers overwhelmed with tools to moms searching for places to store holiday decorations.

Toter, a leading manufacturer of carts, cans and containers for use in a wide range of home and work waste management and storage solutions, is offering the following tips for making more of precious garage space.

Keep trash in its place.

To keep trash and odors contained, select a mobile trash cart with a tight-fitting lid that’s compatible with your haulers’ pickup requirements and comes with a warranty. Some manufacturers also offer cart and can liners and deodorizers to keep your garage smelling fresh.

Invest in a multi-purpose job box.

Most people tend to have the wrong size toolbox for their needs. Consider the shape, capacity and compartments needed for your tools. Rolling options are great for work done only at home, while a job box may be better for those who do work elsewhere. If portability is important, look at lighter-weight options. New plastic job boxes, such as the Toter HardHead, combine the strength, durability and security of a large metal box with enhanced maneuverability.

Build up, not out.

Ceiling storage racks are an excellent way to use what would otherwise be dead space. Many racks are designed to fit directly above the area where an automatic door goes up and down. Peg boards for tools and stackable totes are also good choices.

Choose multipurpose storage.

Needs can change over time, so invest in storage that can be used for a variety of items in multiple ways. For example, large, durable totes can hold lawn gear, tools or camping equipment.

Think mobility.

Being able to move containers within the garage is important. However, the ability to move them into your vehicle and hit the road quickly also makes life a lot easier.

According to Jeniffer Coates, director of product development and warranty for Toter, “Heavy metal containers are difficult to move, and cheap plastic bins are often too flimsy to stand up to long-term or outdoor use. Consumers will get the most mileage from durable, impact-resistant plastic containers.” These can cost a bit more upfront, but will stand the test of time.

Protect items.

Moisture and pests cause problems in even the cleanest garage. Look for durable storage containers with tight-fitting, critter-resistant lids.

Categorize.

Assign and color-code dedicated areas for each type of item — tools, decorations, lawn equipment, etc. — to avoid the hassle of searching.

Allow room to grow.

While it can be tempting to stuff every square inch, try to leave room for future additions. To ensure everything deserves the space it’s occupying, do a yearly purge of unneeded or unused items.

For more information on finding the right storage solutions for your needs, visit toter.com/storage-solutions.

Keeping the garage in order is a necessary evil, but with a solid game plan and the right equipment, it’s easier than you think. (StatePoint)

Prepare Your Vehicles For Harsh Weather

As the seasons change, motorists must take steps to safeguard their vehicles, especially when the season changes from fall to winter. Each winter, many vehicles are subjected to sub-zero temperatures, snowfall and icy roads, and such conditions can take their toll on vehicles over time. Taking steps to prepare vehicles for winter weather is a vital step that can make cars and trucks safer for drivers and their passengers.

Battery

Old batteries should be replaced before winter begins. Without a strong, properly functioning battery, engines cannot turn over. Most batteries last between three and five years. However, extreme cold can compromise batteries, especially those that have been around awhile. Batteries are made up of acid and water, and cold temperatures can freeze the water, thereby affecting battery performance. According to AAA’s Automotive Research Center, at 32 F, the average battery loses 35 percent of its strength. Newer batteries can be protected by starting the vehicle each day to warm up and recharge the battery. Let the car run for at least 10 minutes if you cannot take an extended drive.

Exterior Maintenance

Keeping a car waxed and sealed can help maintain a durable exterior finish. This includes not only the paint, but the rubber and vinyl parts of the car’s exterior. Winter is a good time to switch to a heavy-duty synthetic wax that can shield against water and road salts. High-quality sealants can be used on bumpers, trim and rubber door seals as added protection. Speak with an automotive retailer or even the car dealership if you are unsure which products will make your car’s parts most durable for winter weather. Do not stop washing your car just because the weather is cold. Slushy, wet roads and snow-melting salts can speed up the formation of rust or other decay on the undercarriage of the vehicle. These materials will need to be periodically cleaned off. Flush the underside of the vehicle whenever possible, taking advantage of any dry, slightly warmer days.

Tire Pressure

According to the automotive retailer Pep Boys, vehicle tires lose a pound of air pressure for every 10-degree drop in temperature. Many modern cars will alert to changes in air pressure, and drivers should be diligent in maintaining the proper tire pressure. Fuel economy as well as handling ability can decline when tires are not inflated properly. Tires can be refilled at many gas stations for little cost.

Wipers

Visibility is key in hazardous weather conditions, and keeping the windshield clean is a priority. This means ensuring there is enough windshield wiper fluid in the car and that it is a product that will not freeze. Wiper blades can freeze and crack in the winter. Older blades may be more susceptible to damage. It’s a worthy investment to replace existing wiper blades at the start of each winter. When vehicles are parked, pull the wipers off of the windshield to safeguard them from sticking and cracking.

Cold weather requires drivers to amp up their vehicle maintenance routines. Consult with a mechanic or automotive retailer for more ideas and products that can help your vehicles operate safely and efficiently this winter.

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How To Avoid Hot Weather Automotive Breakdowns

When the weather warms, many people take to the outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and rising temperatures. Summer road trips or vacations are the norm, but it is important to realize that hot weather can take its toll even on a new, well-maintained vehicle.

High temperatures can cause all sorts of damage to a vehicle, from zapping battery power to overtaxing the cooling system. Recognizing potential hot-weather risks and performing routine checks on the vehicle are the keys to keeping vehicles in top form.

Battery

Excessive heat can shorten the life of a battery because it causes battery fluid to evaporate more quickly. This, in turn, can damage the internal structure of the battery. AAA reports that car battery issues are the most common breakdown calls.

It’s a good idea to top off a battery with distilled water if it is the kind that requires it. Low-maintenance batteries may not have filler caps and will not require water. Inspect the battery for corrosion and leakage of battery acid. This could be a sign that the battery is getting old and will need to be replaced.

Cooling system

Cooling systems work hard to keep the flow of air to the engine and prevent it from overheating during warm seasons. Compromised cooling fans or lack of coolant can be troublesome. To avoid overheating, check coolant levels before getting on the road. In addition, have the cooling system checked by a trained mechanic prior to the summer driving season. It’s a small price to pay to avoid extensive engine damage from overheating.

Tires

Hot weather causes the pressure inside of tires to rise. Overinflated tires can wear down prematurely or result in blowouts. The Car Care Council recommends checking tire pressure routinely in the summer, when tires are cold. Follow the guidelines in the owner’s manual for recommended air pressure. Look for improper tread wear, weak spots or other tire damage that may end up causing flats.

Fluid levels

Hot weather can put extra demand on all fluids and engine components. Check transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and engine oil levels. Top off or change when necessary.

Pack with breakdowns in mind

Plan ahead for potential summer breakdowns by bringing along water, snacks, sunscreen, and an emergency medical kit. Be sure mobile phones are fully charged and that the number of a tow service or roadside assistance crew is entered into your list of contacts in the event of an emergency.

With warm-weather road trips beckoning, it’s time to plan accordingly to prevent breakdowns that can derail fun.

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A Key Component of Spring Check-Up

When warm weather arrives, many people enjoy a collective sigh of relief. Just as people welcome the end of the cold, snow and ice, cars and trucks also can benefit from more moderate temperatures.

Salt, grime and pot holes can take a toll on tires over the course of a typical winter. Drivers will not get far this spring and summer without tires in good repair, which is why tire maintenance should be part of any seasonal repair checklist.

Inflation levels

Now is the time to use a tire pressure gauge to see if tires are at the ideal inflation levels. Many tires indicate the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) on their sidewalls. Cold temperatures may cause tires to deflate a little. Esurance states that winter weather can cause tire pressure reduction at about one PSI for every 10 degrees the temperature drops. Driving on improperly inflated tires can be dangerous, potentially affecting handling and braking distances.

Check tires when they are cold for the most accurate reading. Properly inflated tires also will improve fuel economy, so drivers may even save a little money by inflating their tires.

Tire rotation/realignment

Examine the tires for tread wear. Any uneven or abnormal tread wear could indicate that the tires need to be rotated and the wheels realigned at the very least. Take the vehicle to a qualified mechanic to get their opinion on how to remedy the situation. Mechanics may recommend rotating tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles, or about every six months for the average driver.

Wheel realignment may be necessary after a season of driving over potholes and other irregularities in the road. Misaligned wheels can cause handling problems, like the car “pulling” to one side.

Tire replacement

Drivers may discover extreme tread wear, bulges or even cracks in the sidewall during a tire inspection. These signs indicate that it’s time to replace the tires. Failing to replace old, worn down tires can increase the risk of automobile accidents.

Thorough cleaning

Once tires are inspected and possibly serviced or replaced, treat the car or truck to a washing and thorough detailing. This will help tires shine and get the vehicle road-ready for spring trips.

How to Stay Safe on Wintry Roads

Many people will remember the winter of 2013-14 for all the wrong reasons. Record low temperatures and heavy snowfall were the story last winter. With winter now on the horizon once again, many motorists are looking for ways to ensure their daily commutes or holiday trips to visit family and friends are as safe as possible.

When wintry conditions, including snowfall, compromise driving conditions, it’s best for motorists to stay home. But avoiding roadways altogether is not always an option, so motorists who simply must venture out onto the roadways this winter can employ the following strategies to ensure they safely arrive at their destinations.

  • Consider winter tires. Many drivers are unsure if they need winter tires. All-season tires may suffice for those drivers who live in regions where heavy snowfall is uncommon. But winter tires are designed to perform when the temperatures are especially cold and in driving conditions featuring ice, slush and snow. Drivers who live in regions where snowfall is significant or even expected to be significant may want to install winter tires just to be on the safe side. Some drivers mistakenly believe that vehicle features such as anti-lock braking systems and traction control make their tires more capable of handling wintry roads. But such features do not provide more traction. ABS and traction control only prevent drivers from over-braking or overpowering the traction of their tires. Only better tires will improve traction.
  • Drive slowly. Many drivers mistakenly believe they only need to drive slow when snow is falling. But winter weather can make roadways unsafe even in areas that have not witnessed a single snowflake fall from the sky. Wet winter roads can quickly turn into icy winter roads, and no ABS system or traction control device can prevent a car that’s traveling too fast from skidding out. Poor visibility is another reason to drive slowly in winter. Peripheral vision is often compromised when driving in winter, as dirt, salt or sand buildup on windshields and side windows and mirrors can make it hard for motorists to fully view their surroundings. Even if your vision is not compromised, a fellow motorist’s might be. So ease up on the gas pedal in winter so you have more time to react to potentially adverse conditions.
  • Don’t drive too closely to other motorists. In addition to driving slowly, motorists also should leave extra room between their vehicles and the vehicles in front of them. In such conditions, for every 10 miles per hour drive a minimum of four car lengths behind the motorist in front of you. So if you are driving 50 miles per hour, be sure to leave 20 car lengths between you and the car ahead of you. This gives you ample time to react and builds in some extra response time should your visibility be compromised.
  • Maintain your vehicle. A vehicle should be maintained regardless of the season, but it’s especially important that your vehicle perform at its peak in winter. A vehicle’s battery and windshield wipers are a winter driver’s best friend, but only if they are operating at optimal capacity. Being stranded on a roadside in winter is more dangerous than in any other time of year. That’s because driver visibility is more compromised in winter, and it can be hard for motorists to see or avoid vehicles on the side of the road. Maintain proper fluid levels and make sure your battery is charged and the gas tank is full before making any winter trips.

Wintry conditions often make driving especially hazardous. But drivers who adopt certain habits when driving in winter can greatly reduce their risk of accidents.

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Safety in Numbers: Replace Headlight Bulbs in Pairs

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, the rule of two has long reigned among professional automotive technicians and driving safety advocates. In accordance to this rule, drivers replacing important parts in their cars and trucks, such as tires, brakes, shocks and wiper blades, should always do so in pairs.

Replacing parts in pairs can ensure vehicles are properly balanced and functioning safely. But it’s not just tires, brakes and other big-ticket components that should be replaced in pairs. Vehicle lighting plays an integral role in keeping drivers and their passengers safe, and motorists should exercise the same caution regarding their vehicles’ headlights, taillights and turn signals that they do when maintaining the rest of their cars and trucks.

Why replace aging headlight bulbs?

Few drivers include headlight bulb replacement in their vehicle maintenance routines. But old headlight bulbs can drastically compromise visibility at night, when drivers’ visual acuity is naturally reduced by as much as 70 percent. As headlight bulbs age, the effects of exposure to sunlight, ozone and pollution can significantly reduce their light output. According to Philips Automotive, a leading manufacturer of vehicle lighting components, headlight bulbs begin to project significantly less light within two to three years of their initial usage, producing dimmer light outputs that compromise the safety of drivers and their passengers. For example, new headlight bulbs capable of projecting 240-foot beams in front of a vehicle may see that projection dwindle to just 160 feet within two to three years.

Why replace bulbs two at a time?

In an effort to promote the importance of changing headlight bulbs two at a time, Philips developed the “Change In Pairs” safety campaign, which aims to educate motorists about the dangers of dimming lights while promoting the many reasons that changing bulbs in pairs makes the road safer for all travelers. To support this safety initiative, Philips also packages its Upgrade Headlight Bulbs in pairs.

Though replacing two headlight bulbs when only one is dimming may seem unwarranted, maintaining a consistent light output in both headlights makes the road safer for drivers, their passengers and oncoming motorists. When only one bulb is replaced, the resulting light output can be both unbalanced and unpredictable, providing inadequate lighting that can compromise driver visibility. In addition, oncoming motorists may experience difficulty seeing vehicles with just one headlight operating at full capacity, and some may even mistake oncoming cars and trucks for motorcycles, creating positioning issues for drivers on both sides of the yellow line.

How else can drivers improve visibility?

In addition to replacing headlight bulbs in pairs every two to three years, drivers can take the following proactive measures to reduce the likelihood that their vision will be compromised while on the road.

· Replace worn out wiper blades. Wiper blades need to be changed each season or in three-month intervals. Rubber wiper blades can grow brittle rather quickly, potentially compromising driver visibility at times when they need their vision to be as strong as possible, such as when rain or snow is falling.

· Clean interior glass and mirrors. Over time, interior glass can develop a film-like buildup that reduces vision and creates hazy reflections from the sun. Smokers may notice such buildup is especially thick in their vehicles. Periodically clean interior glass and mirrors to prevent this film from compromising your vision.

· Don’t hang accessories in your vehicle. Fuzzy dice, photos and other items hung on rearview mirrors can prove distracting and block you from seeing the road.

Learn more about the “Change In Pairs” campaign by visiting www.philips.com/automotive. SC163980

Warning Signs a Tire is About to Go Flat

Few drivers will be fortunate enough to go their entire driving lives without encountering at least one flat tire. Flat tires range from the inconvenient flats, which may interrupt a road trip or make drivers late for work or an appointment, to more dangerous blowouts, which can compromise the safety of drivers, their passengers and anyone else on the road when the tire gives out.

But as inconvenient or dangerous as flats or blowouts can be, they also can be prevented more often than not. Tires often produce warning signs that a flat or blowout is about to emerge, so drivers who want to avoid such unfortunate developments can inspect their tires for the following signs.

· Varying wear: Tires should exhibit the same type of wear. The wear on front tires and back tires may differ, but one front tire should have the same amount of wear as the other and the same goes for the back tires. Uneven tread on tires indicates that the tire with more wear could be about to go out.

· Worn tread: Even drivers who know little about cars can typically recognize when tire tread has worn down to the point where the tire is a safety risk. But drivers who are unsure can employ the quarter test. Insert a quarter into the tread of the tire, with George Washington’s head upright. If you can see the hairline of the United States’ first president, then you need to replace the tire. Perform this test on each of your vehicle’s four tires.

· Low pressure: Drivers who do not routinely check their tire pressure are more likely to endure a flat or blowout than those who regularly make sure their tires are at the manufacturer-recommended pressure, which can be found in a vehicle owner’s manual or by calling the tire manufacturer or visiting their website. An underinflated tire is under stress that can cause the tire to blowout. In addition, poorly inflated tires force engines to work harder, which negatively affects a car’s fuel efficiency.

· Vibration: A car that vibrates excessively may do so because tires are damaged. Poor suspension is another cause of excessive vibration. Whatever is behind a car that is vibrating, drivers should immediately take the car to their mechanic for an inspection.

· Physical damage to the tire: Sometimes tires exhibit physical damage like bulges or cuts, and such signs could mean a flat tire or blowout is just around the corner. Tires that exhibit such physical damage need to be replaced immediately.

Flat tires and blowouts can prove both scary and inconvenient. Drivers who want to avoid such problems should routinely inspect their tires for indicators that a flat or blowout is likely to occur. SC153005

Tips for Driving in Rainy Weather

Rainy weather can arrive any time of year. While an afternoon spent indoors watching the drops fall can be relaxing, driving in the rain is anything but. It requires extra concentration and improved reaction time. Rainy conditions can be challenging and treacherous, and drivers should proceed with caution on rain-slicked roads.

Rain is blamed for many accidents, but many of these situations are largely preventable among drivers who adapt to the weather and roadway conditions. Here are some things to consider.

* Reduced visibility occurs from wiper blades, glare (particularly at night) and heavy downpours. When you are unable to see the road ahead, including other vehicles, reduce your speed. If the rain is coming down in torrents, pull over to the side of the road and wait for a respite. Turn on your lights to ensure you are visible to other cars on the road.

highway* Recognize that rain can cause slick conditions. A film of water develops on the roadways, and that can affect the performance of your vehicle’s tires. Less traction means the car can slip and slide. Hydroplaning, or coasting on the surface of the water, is common. Another, lesser-known condition is slickness caused by grease and oil in the asphalt. During a long dry spell, these substances build up on the roads. When it rains, the oil and water doesn’t mix, bringing the oils to the surface and exacerbating slick conditions. The first few hours of a rainstorm can be quite dangerous until heavier rains wash the oils away.

* Water spraying up onto tires and brakes can compromise braking ability. That means it could take longer to stop under wet conditions. Do not tailgate and leave extra room between vehicles. If you drive through a puddle of water, pump the brakes and test them out to be sure you can stop. Brake earlier so that other drivers understand your intentions and can react accordingly.

* Avoid extremely large puddles. First of all, you cannot judge the depth of the puddle and you may end up getting stuck, especially in the event of roadway flooding. Water splashing into the engine compartment may damage electrical components. Steer around puddles to be on the safe side.

* Use extra care watching out for pedestrians. A normally observant person may be distracted by the rain, puddles and wrangling an umbrella and veer into the path of cars. Be mindful of the side of the roads and where pedestrians may be, such as around parked cars.

* Change wiper blades twice per year. You do not want to be caught with shoddy wiper blades in poor conditions. Without an effective wiper blade, rain cannot be cleared effectively from the windshield.

* Limit distractions inside of the car to focus even more of your attention on the road. While some have become accustomed to answering phone calls or fielding questions from the backseat while driving, avoid such distractions when driving in the rain. Turn down the radio if you must and encourage passengers to remain quiet until safely home.

* Leave extra time to get to your destination. Rain causes slowing down of traffic. Rushing may increase your risk of being in an accident, so always leave extra travel time when driving in wet conditions.

* Make way for emergency personnel. Accidents and bad weather are common. Slow down or pull over to allow emergency vehicles to pass by. If there are flashing lights on the side of the road, move into the left lane to give a wide girth around first responders.

Driving in the rain requires drivers to exercise caution. Making a few adjustments improves safety on the roadways.


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