Automotive

5 tips to ready your ride for winter

10/5/2017

(BPT) - The winter driving season is ... unique. No matter where you live, these aren't the same road conditions you enjoyed in June or July, and that means you can't handle your car in the same way. A winter-ready vehicle requires extra preparation. To get your vehicle ready for the season's unique driving conditions, apply these five tips.

1. Start with a tune up.

If it's been awhile since your last tune up, now's the perfect time. A tune up with a certified mechanic is a great way to be sure your car is operating at tiptop shape and to identify any small problems that could become larger as time goes on. Be honest with your mechanic about your driving experience and ask plenty of questions. Your comments could help them identify a problem you both may have missed.

2. Apply your winter tires.

If you live in a region where temperatures regularly fall below 45 F and winter weather brings snow, sleet and ice to your roads, then you'll want a good set of winter tires. What makes a winter tire special - and important - is the tread design and tread compound which work well in cold sloppy conditions. A good example is the Yokohama BluEarth Winter V905 which is specifically designed to maintain traction during unfavorable conditions by diverting snow and moisture away from the tires to improve your stability and prevent sliding. If winter road conditions are a problem where you live, don't leave home without your winter tires.

3. A quick top-off.

Even if you've just had your car in for a tune up, there are still benefits to establishing a maintenance check-in regimen during the winter. Start by checking your air filter and fluid levels, including your power steering, transmission and brake fluids. From there move on to check your windshield washer fluid as well as your coolant and refill any/all of these if they are not to proper levels. Set a date to check all of this on the first of each month and your car will be ready when you need it most.

4. Your tires need a maintenance plan as well.

Like the rest of your car, your tires need maintenance throughout the season too. Checking your tires' air pressure and tread depth is important during the winter because tire pressure naturally drops in colder temperatures and a shallower tread depth will worsen the traction of your tires. You can find the proper pressure for your tires in your vehicle's owner manual or on the inside jamb of your front doors. To check your tire tread, all you need is a penny. Insert the penny into your tire tread upside down. If you can still see Lincoln's head, your tires are worn and it's time for them to be replaced. More info here.


5. Pack a winter preparedness kit.

Accidents happen, and they're an even bigger concern in the winter. That's why it's good to be prepared. Pack a bag with a blanket, flashlight, batteries, gloves, water, boots, snacks, a battery-powered cell phone charger and a first aid kit. Any or all of these items will be invaluable if you become stranded. And to keep your car running in winter conditions, be sure your trunk includes an ice scraper, jumper cables and a bag of cat litter in case you need some impromptu traction. Plan ahead and you'll be ready for whatever the year's most unique driving season has in store.


5 late-summer road trip tips

8/2/2017

(BPT) - Last call for your summer road trip. Grab the family, call your friends: The Great American Road Trip still awaits. Don’t let summer fade into the sunset without a last hurrah.

According to the Auto Club, you won’t be alone: 37.5 million Americans hit the road during the Independence Day holiday this year, up 2.9 percent from 2016. And to no one’s surprise, the Auto Club says the old-school, family-type road trip and visits to national parks and theme parks remain the most popular types of vacations for families.

They say getting there is half the fun, so before you head out on a “roadie,” here are a few tips to make the trip safer and more enjoyable.

* Be flexible: It’s always wise to plan ahead, and leave a little extra time in the master schedule, especially if you’re traveling with kids. But it’s also fun to be spontaneous, so don’t plan too far ahead. Maybe you want to stop and see the world’s largest thermometer in Baker, California. Make time for the fun stuff that’s off the beaten path.

* Lost and found: There’s nothing more frustrating than being lost, especially while on vacation. Use apps like Waze and Google Maps to help you get around traffic and get to your destination.

* Must-haves: Don’t forget to bring: the cell phone charger, flashlight, batteries, bottled water/juice, first-aid kit, snacks, music and toys/games/videos for the kids.

* Clean sweep: Since your family or friends will be in your vehicle for several hours a day, be courteous and throw out the ancient Big Gulp cups, food wrappers, empty sugar packs, old gym clothes and all the junk you’ve tossed in your backseat the last few months. Besides, you’ll need to make room for all the silly souvenirs you’re going to buy along the way.

* Check, please: One thing you definitely need on a road trip is a reliable vehicle, so you’ll want to make sure yours is in excellent, road-worthy shape. Pre-check everything, from all the fluids to your tires. Especially your tires even the spare.

I can’t say enough about the importance of your tires, especially if you’re heading out on a family road trip,” says Fred Koplin, senior director of marketing and motorsports for Yokohama Tire Corporation, manufacturer of a variety of tires for passenger cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks.Tires are the only part of a vehicle that actually touches the road and they affect everything from braking and steering to comfort and handling.

Koplin says while it doesn’t matter what type of vehicle you drive, it’s super important that you have the right tires to get the best handling, ride and treadwear.

For a fun summer road adventure and daily driving, too Koplin recommends a touring tire, which combines the comfort and tread life of a passenger tire with the handling and sports-like feel of a performance tire. “The Avid Ascend is a great example of a touring tire,” says Koplin, because it offers exceptional all-season performance, remarkable treadlife and excellent fuel efficiency.”

To learn more about touring tires, Koplin says to check tire company websites like www.yokohamatire.com or your tire retailer’s website for more help.

Koplin offers more tire tips that will help you throughout the year:

* Check tire pressure at least once a month this takes about five minutes. Always use an accurate tire gauge and make sure the valve is free of debris and water. Consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual or placard on the driver’s door to determine proper tire pressure. The correct tire pressure is specified by the manufacturer of the vehicle, not the tire manufacturer. Tire pressure should be checked when the tires are cold at least four hours since the vehicle was last driven.

* Check your tread depth by placing a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tire’s tread has worn down to the legal limit and you need to buy new tires.

* Tires should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 2/32 of an inch, the lowest legal limit. It’s best to replace them before they reach 2/32 for optimal performance, especially in bad weather.

* Rotating your tires regularly promotes even wear of the tread. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

* Check your alignment at least once a year or sooner, especially if the vehicle is pulling to one side. This will help avoid uneven wear on tire tread. Tire balance should also be monitored.

For more tire care and safety tips, visit www.yokohamatire.com/tires-101 or www.USTires.org.



Road salt means safe roads

10/2/2017

(BPT) - State and municipal departments of transportation are gearing up their winter maintenance plans to prepare for snow and ice. In addition to plows, road salt is an important tool to keep roads clear. Every year these agencies stockpile sufficient salt to last the winter season and store it in strategically placed barns.

"Snowfighters" (those responsible to clear snow from roadways) are out in force in salt trucks before snow and ice is expected. They pretreat the roads with salt brine, a mix of road salt and water. This brine sticks to the road surface and helps prevent ice from forming in the first place, making winter travel safer. And the safety issue is a substantial one. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that there are about 115,000 people injured every year on snowy, slushy or icy pavements and more than 1,600 people killed each year on winter roads.

The good news is that a Marquette University study showed that a good winter maintenance program that uses road salt reduces accidents on winter roads by about 88 percent and can reduce injuries by up to 85 percent.

A key goal for many agencies is tracking their winter maintenance actions in great detail and ensuring that their actions are optimized to meet their goal of safe roads for the driving public. In Idaho, for example, new salt-spreading units allow them to track how much salt they apply to the road, and other sensors allow them to check that the road is responding as expected to the salt application, and is not getting slippery. This also helps reduce costs. They have seen a 29 percent reduction in annual winter maintenance costs since introducing the new technology.

Maintaining mobility is also a big concern, as people need to get to work or the grocery store and kids need to get to school. Clear roads allow ambulances and other emergency vehicles to perform their life-saving services. A study for the American Highway Users Alliance found that the cost of having roads closed down is substantial - between $300 million and $700 million a day for a state in direct and indirect earnings. One study suggested that the costs of maintaining the road system during a winter storm are completely recovered in the first 25 minutes of winter-maintenance activities, because of the improvements in safety and mobility that the improved road conditions bring about.

Care for the environment is also a key issue in safe and sustainable snowfighting. Several studies have shown that when road salt is properly applied at the right time and place to keep roadways safe and passable, environmental impacts can be effectively managed and minimized. Modern roadways are not a natural feature of the environment and are specifically engineered to satisfy our demand for personal and commercial mobility - factors that are basic to the quality of life.

A comprehensive study by environmental researchers at the University of Waterloo and Environment Canada found that when best practices, as outlined in Canada's Road Salt Code of Practice, were used, chloride levels were reduced by half. Another study by the Guelph University Research Review found that recycling stormwater runoff could reduce chloride peaks in streams without adversely affecting road safety. In cooperation with the city of Toronto, researchers used the EPA Storm Water Management Model to design computer-controlled stormwater containment systems to serve as a guide for future mitigation applications.

Salt is our most important winter resource, because it saves lives and protects the economy. It is economical and extremely effective.



Riding is the new driving: How to make the most of your ride

9/6/2017

(BPT) - New to ridesharing? So are most people, both drivers and passengers alike. Ridesharing matches you with a nearby driver who will pick you up and take you where you need to go. Calling a ride is as easy as opening up a ridesharing app and tapping a button; a driver will then arrive within minutes. By using a ridesharing service, you can help your community by reducing traffic, connecting with your neighbors, and keeping your local economy strong.

One major player is Lyft, the fastest-growing on-demand transportation service in the U.S., covering 94 percent of the U.S. population. Once you have the app downloaded, all you need to do is enter a prepayment method, designate your pickup and dropoff location, and you’re set! In just a few minutes your driver will be at your location ready to go. The app allows you to track the location of your driver so you will always know exactly when to be ready, and if you can’t find your driver you can easily send them a text or give them a call.

1. Riding shotgun — Front seat or backseat? That is entirely up to you! Looking to be social and connect with your driver a little more? The front seat is the place for you. If you prefer a little more solitude, then the backseat might be best. There isn’t a wrong answer — just go with whatever feels right. Here is an easy conversation starter: Drivers often make excellent recommendations if you’re visiting a new city. As a local, they know the hot spots best.

2. Feeling TIPsy? — After a night of socializing, you should rely on ridesharing to get you home safely. And if your driver provided stellar service, got you to your destination in record time or had a sick ride, you might want to tip them for their hard work. Tipping is always optional but always appreciated.

3. Safety first — Is ridesharing safe? Yes! Ridesharing is a safe and reliable way to get from point A to B with a little help from someone in your community. In fact, 87 percent of Lyft drivers have given a ride to a neighbor. Good thing that companies across the industry are dedicated to safety. For instance, Lyft ensures that every driver is screened before they’re permitted to drive on their platform, starting with professional third-party background and DMV checks. In addition to the background check, Lyft has a dedicated Trust and Safety team on call 24/7.

4. Ride your way — You have another wedding next weekend and you want to arrive in style, but you also want to save a little money on the ride home. Are there options in ridesharing that cover both types of service? Yes! Across the ridesharing industry there are a wide range of options to suit a wide range of needs. If you're looking to save some money, try sharing your ride with someone else. If you have a special date or an important meeting, you can splurge for a luxury black car.

5. Best of both worlds — If you happen to have a qualifying four-door car, you are totally able to use your free time and spare seats to make some extra cash. Driving on a platform like Lyft is great because you can seamlessly switch between rider and driver. Going to that hip area of town that never has parking? Call a ridesharing service! Have a few hours to spare because your mom’s flight is delayed? Open the driver app and make the most of that time.



Letting go of the wheel: Why consumers should trust self-driving cars

9/28/2017

(BPT) - Driverless-car technology is advancing rapidly and the potential benefits are vast. Experts predict self-driving cars will save millions of lives by reducing accidents. Other benefits will include reduced rush-hour congestion and improved mobility for the elderly and people with disabilities.

The challenge is people are leery that a car can safely and effectively drive itself.

According to a recent AAA report, "Despite the prospect that autonomous vehicles will be safer, more efficient and more convenient than their human-driven counterparts, three-quarters of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car, and only 10 percent report that they'd actually feel safer sharing the roads with driverless vehicles."

It appears the key to turning the vision of self-driving cars into a reality depends on humans being able to trust them. Industry experts can make the perfect driverless technology, but if no one wants to use it, it won't matter.

"The idea of autonomous vehicles is as much a human and social challenge as it is a technological challenge," says Matt Yurdana, Creative Director for Intel's Internet of Things Experiences Group.

One aspect of driverless-car design that has the potential to build trust is the human-machine interface (HMI) - essentially the focus is on the way humans interact with machines to ensure a high level of comfort.

To explore HMI, Yurdana and his team conducted a Trust Interaction Study with people who have never been in an autonomous car before. Conducted on a closed circuit at Intel's Advanced Vehicle Lab in Chandler, Arizona, the study found several points that will be important to address in order to build people's trust for driverless technologies.

Machine judgment: Although participants were skeptical that driverless technology could handle unexpected situations like jaywalkers, they also believe self-driving vehicles are safer because they eliminate human error.

Personal, private time: The idea of having free time while riding in a self-driving vehicle inspired many to imagine how they might use their ride time, while a few others were apprehensive about lack of interaction with a human driver.

Vehicle redesign: For some, riding in the back seat where there were no vehicle controls makes them feel uneasy. Even the autonomous movement of the steering wheel caused some anxiety. Participants discussed removing legacy design features from cars to alleviate this nervousness.

Seeing is believing: People need to understand the technology, but seeing and experiencing the vehicle as it sensed and responded to what was happening around them - proving it works - helped participants gain confidence.

Human-like interactions: Participants expressed a desire to use their own voice to communicate with the car. Being able to converse and exchange information as they would with a driver was seen as a positive.

Although limited in scope, the study's results were unanimous. Every single participant had more confidence in driverless cars after experiencing the technology for themselves, even those who were initially apprehensive.

"Trust equals safety," says Yurdana. "It equals confidence and comfort that's not only physical but psychological."

Ultimately it's a shift in how humans trust technology, not just another human being. People trust strangers all the time. For example, we don't think twice about taxi drivers, airline pilots, train conductors, etc. However autonomous cars require people to build this same level of trust, not with humans, but with technology.

For some, this idea is nerve-wracking. But this study gives technology experts guidance on what to focus on to grow consumer acceptance - and therefore adoption - in the future.

To learn more about self-driving cars and autonomous driving, visit www.intel.com/automotive.



6 simple steps to avoid distracted driving

8/31/2017

(BPT) - Mobile phones have become an essential part of life for most people, helping them stay connected and increase productivity. However, this technology can also be a distraction when driving, which puts everyone on the road at risk.

More than one-quarter of all car crashes involve phone use, both with handsets and hands-free, the National Safety Council reports. Considering many states and countries don't yet compile and report data on cellphone use following a crash, this number is likely much higher.

Distracted driving isn't just an issue for young adults. High technology use means this is a problem across generations. For professionals in particular, the expectation to stay productive and reachable means a constant temptation to use cellphones when driving.

Recognizing the ethical and liability issues that arise when employees drive while distracted, employers across the country have begun implementing distracted-driving policies. Typically, these policies prohibit employees from using mobile phones while driving on company time.

In January 2017, the NSC reported that Cargill was the largest privately held company to prohibit the use of mobile devices, including hands-free technology, while an employee is driving on behalf of the company. Cargill's Chairman and CEO David MacLennan just marked the one-year anniversary of following the policy.

"I had to try the policy myself first," says MacLennan. "Once I knew what it would take to go completely cellphone free in my car, I could then make it work for our entire company."

Based on his experience, MacLennan offers these six simple steps for anyone looking to eliminate distracted driving yet stay productive and responsive to your job.

1. Auto response
Use a free automated response app to let callers know that you’re driving and can’t take the call. You can personalize the response so incoming calls or texts receive a text message saying you're on the road.

2. DND
If you’re driving a vehicle outfitted with communication technology, use its “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls and texts while behind the wheel.

3. Block drive times
Just as you schedule meetings, use shared calendars to block times you’ll be driving. This alerts anyone else connected to your calendar when you’ll be out of touch.

4. Out of sight, out of mind
A study by AT&T found that 62 percent of drivers keep their phones within reach in the car. Put yours where you can’t see or reach it, such as in the back seat.

5. Pull over
If you must take a call while on the road, let it go to voicemail and pull over in a safe location to return the call. Plan pull-over "cellphone stops" along your route if needed.

6. Avoid all distractions
Cellphones aren't the only cause of distracted driving. Eating, grooming and reading are activities people try to tackle while driving. Be smart and simply stay focused on the road.

Driving safely should be everyone's top concern when behind the wheel. These simple steps can make it easier to resist the temptation to pick up the phone or do another activity that can wait until you've arrived, safely, at your destination.



Back-to-school lessons for drivers

8/29/2017

(BPT) - With Americans around the country adjusting their daily commutes and driving habits to accommodate back-to-school schedules, it is a great time to brush up on Driving 101. Take the stress out of back-to-school travel by practicing these safe driving tips.

Steer away from old habits

Even something as simple as gripping a steering wheel can impact safety. According to Hankook Tire’s most recent Gauge Index, 66 percent of drivers position their hands at “10 and 2 o’clock.” While this was once a widely instructed technique, driving safety experts now recommend keeping your hands at “9 and 3 o’clock.” In the case of an accident, this slight shift can prevent a deploying airbag from forcing the driver’s hands into his or her own head. Younger drivers are moving away from the traditional steering grip, as only 26 percent of respondents aged 18-34 drive with their hands at “10 and 2,” yet close to three out of four drivers over the age of 34 still follow the old form.

However, drivers can — and do — develop safer driving awareness with experience, despite not always being taught key fundamentals when first learning to drive. The Hankook Gauge Index found that while only 38 percent of drivers were taught to provide one car length of space for every 10 mph when driving at high speeds, 69 percent now follow that rule. Similarly, only 32 percent of drivers were taught to use low-beam lights in heavy rain, snow, sleet or fog, and now over half (51 percent) do so. While some driving behaviors have become routine, key fundamentals can have an impact on safety.

School-zone safety

Student pickups and drop-offs are chaotic and busy times, and reduced speed limits create safer driving environments for parents, students and teachers. While 71 percent of Americans drive over the speed limit in normal traffic zones, nearly the same number (73 percent) report that they slow down in school zones.

Although a high percentage of American drivers heed school-zone laws, close to 25 percent still report driving over the speed limit in school zones. Driving even a mile or two over the speed limit in school zones can result in a speeding ticket. Drivers should keep an eye out for traffic signs promoting modified speed limits to not just create a safer environment, but also to avoid traffic violations.

Back to college

Sixty-six percent of current and former college students say they had (or have) a car during their time on campus. Commuting to and from home or work and exploring the college town can add to the wear and tear of your vehicle. Checking the condition of the vehicle and its tires is especially important for college students who often neglect car care for their studies.

While over 70 percent of drivers are aware that healthy tire tread helps support improved traction and better mileage, there is a lack of consistency when it comes to monitoring. In fact, 69 percent of drivers check their tread less than once a month, including 33 percent of drivers who rely solely on their mechanic to check when the car is being serviced. There are many reliable ways for consumers to check tire tread on their vehicles and their children’s vehicles, including the use of a tread depth gauge, tread wear indicators or the “penny test.”

More awareness and maintenance of tire tread can lead to greater road safety this fall. Should tires need to be replaced, drivers can take advantage of rebate programs such as Hankook’s 2017 Great Hit promotion, which can save drivers up to $100 on qualifying tires through September 30.



5 tire safety tips for your next road trip

7/18/2017

(BPT) - Summer travel is off to a hot start, and with historically low gas prices and declining car rental rates across the country, Americans are opting for road travel to reach their summer destinations. Whether driving to a beach vacation, visiting family or exploring the back roads, drivers should consider the following tire safety checklist prior to departure to ensure safe, smooth and fun travel.

1. Tire pressure

Tire inflation has a direct impact on driver safety and performance, so it should be effectively maintained to ensure optimized driving, tire life and mileage. Tire pressure can decrease by one psi a month, and because inflation can also fluctuate with the outside temperature, it’s imperative to check tire pressure before every summer road trip. Over-inflated tires can result in excessive tread wear and can make the tires more vulnerable to road hazards such as potholes and road debris. Underinflated tires often result in decreased performance, lower fuel economy and shortened tire life. The optimum air pressure level for tires can be found on the inner side of the car door, inside the fuel cap or in the car manual. Before using an air pressure gauge to check the pressure levels, the vehicle should be inactive for at least three hours.

2. Tire tread

Vehicle traction is top of mind this summer, as 42 percent of Americans think about their tires’ tread when driving through rain, up or down hills and through hairpin turns, according to the latest Hankook Tire Gauge Index. Ideal traction starts with healthy tread wear, as the deeper the groove (or tread), the better the tire grips to the road. To determine if a tire’s tread is too worn, simply take a penny and insert it heads-down into the tread of the tire. If Lincoln’s head is visible, it’s time for a new tire.

3. Wear and tear

While checking the tread, be sure to also inspect for bumps, bruises or other visible damage to the tires that could impact driving performance and tire pressure levels. A bulge or bubble on a tire’s sidewall is not easy to spot, but can indicate an air leak or tire defect, which can have a significant impact on performance and safety. If there is a defect, be sure to swap tires that match the driver’s vehicle, driving style and geographic location. Drivers who live in areas with varied weather should consider an all-season tire such as the Hankook Ventus S1 noble2. For drivers exposed to consistent warm weather conditions that can reach high-heat levels, a summer tire such as the Hankook Ventus S1 evo2 might be the best fit.

4. Tire alignment

Before embarking on a long trip, it’s smart to check the vehicle’s wheel alignment. Hankook recommends drivers check their wheel alignment during annual inspections or for every 12,000 miles driven. If wheel alignment is off, the tire life is shortened and mileage performance decreases. When properly maintained, wheel alignment helps prevent vibration, skidding, road noise and abnormal tread wear.

5. Spare tire

Drivers who end up on the side of the road with a flat tire will be thankful they checked their spare before leaving the driveway. Don’t take having a spare for granted. Thirteen percent of Americans either do not have a spare tire or are unsure if they have one, which can cause serious delays if faced with a flat. Check both the presence of the spare tire as well as its condition prior to departure. Since 60 percent of Americans are not comfortable changing a tire, it’s important to have a plan of who to call if pulled over on the side of the road. While 40 percent of drivers acknowledge their first call would be to AAA or an insurance company, it’s recommended to first notify local authorities who can help direct traffic and secure the area.

Take the travel stress out of vacation this summer by following these five tire safety tips.



Use a rack to haul your gear during a summer road trip

7/6/2017

(BPT) - Summer has arrived, and for many that means it's time for a road trip. In a survey conducted by the American Automobile Association, 80 percent of families surveyed said they are planning a road trip vacation this summer, a 10 percent increase from last year.

Those hitting the road may discover a need for additional space in the vehicle, whether it’s because the entire family is crammed into the car or because of the extra luggage and gear taking up space. A variety of accessories are available to make hauling gear easier. The Specialty Equipment Market Association, a trade organization representing businesses that manufacture automotive parts and accessories, recommends researching products based on one’s vehicle and personal needs.

Here are a few options to consider before hitting the road:

Trunk rack: If you want to take a bicycle or two along on the trip but do not have a truck to haul them, a trunk rack will do the trick. It is lightweight and mounts to the rear of a car with straps and hooks; however, this may mean trunk access is blocked until the rack is removed. Price will vary depending on its material and features, such as an anti-sway mechanism to keep the bikes from moving.

Hitch and spare-tire racks: If the vehicle has a spare tire mounted on the rear, such as a Jeep Wrangler or some SUVs, or a hitch receiver, you can use a spare-tire rack or a hitch rack. Either rack can be a simple single-bar mount that accommodates multiple bicycles or a basket to tow additional luggage. When using a hitch rack, ensure that the hitch receiver is compatible with the rack, including towing capacity, class and tongue type, among other specifications. A spare-tire rack is installed using a mounting plate, and like the hitch rack, it is easy to load.

Roof rack and cargo box: A roof rack is the most versatile option because it’s mounted on top of the vehicle — essentially out of the way — and can be adapted to transport a variety of items. However, you may need help loading the gear up top, and depending on the cargo, wind resistance may come into play. Also, while some roof racks can be attached easily, others may require some drilling. Once in place, a roof rack can accommodate a cargo box, a lockable storage unit that fully protects gear from the elements while on the road.

Truck rack: For those with a pickup, a truck rack helps increase the cargo capacity already provided by a truck by mounting above the bed, with some racks extending past the roof of the truck cabin. Installation and removal is simple, plus they are easy to load and can support a greater amount of weight.

These are but a few of the many types of racks available in the automotive aftermarket industry that can help increase the amount of cargo a vehicle can haul. Be sure to take some time to research what’s available.

Manufacturers introduce new racks and many other products annually at the SEMA Show, the leading trade-only show for businesses in the automotive industry. Consumers can connect with some of these businesses at the official SEMA Show after-party, also known as SEMA Ignited, where one-of-a-kind custom vehicle builds featuring the newest aftermarket products parade out of the convention center before making their way to the ultimate car show open to the public. For more information, visit www.semaignited.com.



3 tips to ensure you're ready to hit the road safely

6/29/2017

(BPT) - Temps are higher, the days are longer and road trips are planned.

When it comes to getting our cars ready for the road, we habitually adjust our rear-view mirror and double-check fuel levels before putting the car in gear. We sometimes change our engine oil and refill the windshield fluid. Yet we often overlook one of the most important safety features on our vehicles — the tires.

With a little preparation and the right tire maintenance know-how, major issues on the road can be largely avoided. Follow these simple tips to ensure your rubber is ready to meet the road:

1. Choose the right tires for the season.

There are many different tire categories, from ultra-high performance (UHP) tires designed to ensure performance vehicles handle flawlessly at high speeds to highway tires built to provide a smooth, comfortable ride and predictable handling.

It’s important to work with a professional tire technician to decide which tires are best suited for your vehicle and style of driving.

“Today’s tires are available in thousands of fitments providing varying performance, comfort and safety features, making it absolutely necessary to discuss your wants and needs with a knowledgeable tire sales person to ensure you’re getting the desired results,” says Matti Morri, Nokian Tyres technical customer service manager.

For example, a driver looking for balanced performance on varying surfaces — from hot and dry to cool and wet — would be happy with something like the Nokian zLine A/S UHP, designed to perform safely and precisely in variable conditions.

2. Give your tires a once-over for correct air pressure.

One of the easiest ways to extend the life of your tires is to regularly check them for correct air pressure.

Low and uneven inflation will cause a number of problems for your vehicle, including poor handling and reduced comfort, increased fuel consumption and an overall unsafe driving experience. Tire pressure should be checked once a month and always before longer trips. You should always check tire pressure before hitting the road because driving causes tires to heat up and air pressure to increase. Consult the vehicle’s manual for proper inflation pressures.

3. Check your tread depth.

Tires with inadequate tread are susceptible to poor handling, hydroplaning, reduced gas mileage and more. In fact, tires are considered legally worn out when they reach 2/32 of an inch.

“To ensure your tires will perform safely, it’s crucial to monitor for worn treads,” Morri says. “Nokian Tyres’ products are equipped with Nokian’s Driving Safety Indicator (DSI), which indicates what percentage of tread depth remains, as well as a water drop stamp that disappears when tread is reduced to the point where the risk of hydroplaning is increased.”

Pro tip: A penny and a match are both easy tools to check your tread depth. Stick a penny, facing you, upside down in the tread on multiple spots around the tire. If Lincoln’s head is completely visible, your tread is too worn and you should replace your tires. Similarly, if you stick the head of a match in your tread and the tip is not completely hidden, your tread is too worn. These are both signs of ultimate worn tread, and you may want to consider new tires before reaching this point.

Before you hit the open road, remember that minor issues can become major roadblocks in the blink of an eye — or turn of the wheel. Take a little extra time to follow these simple tire tips and the only thing you’ll have to worry about is the wind messing up your hair.



The new urban destination that has the web buzzing

6/1/2017

(BPT) - There was a time when cities like Paris, Berlin, New York or Tokyo were at the top of many travelers' lists. The glamour, the glitz and the history of these cities lured many, but times have changed and more people are eager to discover some of the lesser known gems. Cities that, though smaller and less renowned, are just as stunning and full of surprises.

One of these treasures is Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Also known as Mill City, the Mini-Apple, or the City of Lakes, Minneapolis is home to a vibrant music scene, miles of bike trails, a community of creative entrepreneurs and an energy that you just can't find anywhere else. It’s true that a lot of people shy away from the winters, which can be fierce, but those who go during the summer usually leave with plans to return. Here are five reasons why.

  1. The amazing music scene. With large venues such as Target Field and the U.S. Bank Stadium, big-name superstars regularly visit the city. But locals will tell you it’s the numerous smaller venues that make a night out in Minneapolis such an unforgettable experience. From the legendary First Avenue, where Prince began his career, to smaller settings like the Fine Line Music Café or Dakota Jazz Club, there’s live music for everyone.
  2. A new sports stadium. When the U.S. Bank Stadium opened last year, Minneapolis had a new home for the Minnesota Vikings and could brag about having one of the most state-of-the-art football stadiums in the country. But football is only part of the story. In this sports-crazed town you’re only ever a few miles away from world-class hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer and lacrosse.
  3. An innovative culture. With dozens of theater companies, art museums, galleries and creative agencies, Minneapolis has earned a reputation as a city oozing with creative energy. And it happens on all levels. Take the new Radisson Red Minneapolis. Located right in the heart of downtown, Radisson Red was designed to revolutionize the travel experience and enhances the stay experience through art, music and fashion. In addition to the stunning mural in the lobby by local artist Adam Turman, the re-energized rooms feature inspired designs. If guests get hungry, the OUIBar + KTCHN features freshly prepared local fare and an expert staff that can tell you all you need to know about the city.
  4. Food and brews. An epicenter of dining, Minneapolis has kept pace with the coastal dining scene and in many respects, has outpaced other cities due to the availability of local food from the surrounding area. And if you’re a beer lover, be sure to block off an afternoon or three to tour the many nationally recognized tap houses in town, including the funky Dangerous Man Brewing Co. and Young Joni, where the head chef Ann Kim was recently honored by the James Beard Foundation.
  5. A city that caters to the outdoor adventurer. Visitors are usually surprised by how many people they see biking around Minneapolis, and can enjoy the hundreds of miles of bike lanes and trails by renting a bike from one of the many kiosks around the city. If you want to mix things up a bit, numerous outfitters offer kayak tours of the Mississippi, or you can rent a stand-up paddle board at one of the many city lakes.

We could go on, but it might be more fun to make your own list of favorites by visiting Minneapolis yourself. Summer is here, so book a room at the new Radisson Red Minneapolis, stay in the heart of downtown, and discover one of America’s great cities.