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What does an automotive engineer really do?

Automotive engineering is one of the most exciting professions you can choose. From the global concerns of sustainable mobility, and teaching cars to drive themselves, to working out how we’ll get around on the surface of Mars, automotive engineering is all about the future.

The challenges facing personal mobility are endless. Automotive engineers work in every area of the industry, from the look and feel of current cars, to the safety and security of new forms of transport. Attempting to make cars as fast as possible whilst keeping them fuel efficient may seem like an impossible task, but this is the kind of problem automotive engineers deal with every day.

The work of an automotive engineer breaks down into three categories:

Design: Designing new products and improving existing ones

Research and Development: Finding solutions to engineering problems

Production: Planning and designing new production processes

So what does an automotive engineer really do?

They study

They think big

They work in a global profession

They do more


They study

One of the first steps in becoming an automotive engineer is going to university. Most automotive engineers start out by studying Mechanical Engineering, but increasingly more specific Automotive Engineering degrees are becoming available.

Don’t just look to apply in your home country – the automotive industry is truly international, and studying abroad might be your way into this popular job market. For a growing list of courses available world-wide please take a look at our Global University Guide.

If you’re not sure that university is right for you, you could also explore apprenticeships as your route into automotive. If you want to know more about either option, have a look at our university advice page, and apprenticeship advice page.

Once at University taking an internship can be a really important step on your route into automotive. Having the right internship on your CV is an announcement to the industry how passionate and dedicated you are to your career. If you decide to take an internship in another country don’t forget to take advantage of the FISITA Travel Bursary

They think big

The automotive industry represents some of the largest companies in the world, from car manufacturers to fuel specialists. As an engineer you can expect to work for one of these industrial titans. FISITA’s Honorary Committee is made up of some of the most diverse and dynamic automotive companies, and if you are looking for a good place to start your career take a look at the graduate programmes offered by these companies.

They work in a global profession

Automotive engineers and automotive companies exist all over the world, based in completely different cultures and speaking totally different languages. The automotive engineer needs to know how to communicate on a global level and have a horizon broader than just their own culture.

A great way to be a part of this international community is to join an automotive engineering society in your county. FISITA exists as the global voice of the automotive engineering profession and aims to bring this community together and encourage the discussion and development of issues facing the international industry. To get involved and join your national society, take a look at FISITA’s list of member societies.

Work experience at an automotive company is highly desirable on a CV, and the FISITA Travel Bursary is designed to help fund such an endeavour.

They do more

Automotive engineers are forward thinking people. They are dynamic, visionary, and are employed based on their ability to think outside the box. One way to expand your horizons, engage your passion, and to start thinking like an automotive engineer is to get involved with extra-curricular activities and competitions.

Additional skills and activities:

The variety of skills and tasks automotive engineers get involved with are almost endless Here are some examples to get you started.

  • developing new test procedures, using both conventional and innovative methods
  • bringing new products to market and being involved in problem-solving and project management
  • devising and organising tests, to answer questions from clients, consumers and other engineers involved in vehicle development
  • anticipating vehicle or component behaviour in different conditions with computer modelling software
  • analysing and interpreting technical data into reports or presentations and answering any queries about the results
  • building an individual specialism within a larger team and working independently
  • contributing to regular team meetings to update colleagues on progress, problems and new developments
  • managing all details of projects, including projected costs
  • recognising the benefits of engineering developments to related departments in order to market projects and secure internal funding
  • negotiating costs of development and engineering work with commercial departments
  • monitoring any related systems or engineering issues associated with the component and final product
  • supervising technical staff, engineers or designers (dependent upon specific role)
  • Operating in cross-functional or internationally-based teams to design experiments in order to test the validity and competence of new technology.

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15 Car Myths That People Still Believe

Most American adults can drive, but that doesn’t mean we understand everything about our cars.

And it turns out, much of what we think we know is totally wrong.

For the purposes of education, we’ve compiled 15 common car myths.

Some are outdated, some are misunderstandings, and one or two are dangerous.

They’re all total bunk.

1. Manual transmissions offer better fuel economy than automatics.

This used to be the case, when automatic transmissions were relatively new.

But recent advances in the technology (like the continuously variable transmission, which offers an infinite range of gear ratios) eliminates the advantage of manuals, and in some cases puts automatics ahead.

2. You can make your car much more powerful by filling it with jet fuel.

Definitely not — in fact, your gas-powered car won’t go anywhere at any speed if you put anything but gas in the tank. Conventional car engines can’t combust kerosene.

Last year, a fuel delivery service accidentally delivered kerosene jet fuel to a New Jersey gas station. Some cars were filled with the fuel, and promptly stalled.

3. A bullet to a car’s gas tank will lead to a big explosion.

A common trope in action movies is the moment where a well-aimed shot turns a bad guy’s getaway car into a flaming wreck.

Discovery’s “Mythbusters” proved that in real life, bullets go right through the tank — without fire. There’s no ignition, and no explosion.

car explosion fire belfast northern irelandREUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

4. Turning on the air conditioner is better for fuel economy than opening the windows.

This one’s harder to pin down. Mythbusters found an SUV with open windows will go farther than one with the A/C on. Consumer Reports looked into it, and found that A/C leads to a “slight decrease in fuel economy,” but recommend using it anyway, to keep the driver alert and comfortable.

For the final word, we looked to a 2004 study by GM and SAE. It found that for both sedans and SUVs, at a variety of speeds, turning the A/C on (at medium power) gobbles up more fuel than driving with the windows down.

5. Using your cell phone while pumping gas can trigger an explosion.

I was once scolded by an aunt who was convinced that my checking my email while she filled her gas tank would engulf us both in fire.

The Federal Communications Commission investigated “rumors” that a wireless signal can ignite fuel vapors, and concluded: “There is no documented incident where the use of a wireless phone was found to cause a fire or explosion at a gas station,” and “scientific testing, however, has not established a dangerous link between wireless phones and fuel vapors.”

6. You get more for your money when you fill your gas tank in the morning.

The logic behind this one is that when temperatures are cool, gasoline is denser, so you get more fuel per gallon pumped.

But, as Consumer Reports explains, gasoline is stored in underground tanks, where the temperature hardly fluctuates. So the gas coming out of the nozzle is basically always at the same density, whenever you decide to pump.

7. Hiding behind a car will protect you from gunfire.

Another common movie move is to hide behind your ride when the bullets start flying. Some bullets may not be powerful enough to cut through the steel, but it’s not a safe bet.

As Business Insider reporter and former Marine Geoff Ingersoll has written: “Cars are not cover! They are concealment. This isn’t the movies. Bullets go through cars. Quietly find some earth, stone, or steel to hide behind.”

car bullet holes guatemala cityREUTERS/Jorge Lopez

8. Off-brand gas will hurt your car.

Actually, there’s no good reason to avoid “off-brand” gas stations that charge less. Name-brand stations like Mobil and Shell may put extra engine-cleaning additives in their gasoline, but using generic gas won’t harm your engine in any way — it has to meet the same standards as the pricey stuff.

9. Electric cars are more likely to catch fire after a crash than conventional cars.

Stories of Fisker Karmas and Chevy Volts catching on fire have spread, but the truth is that gas-powered cars can ignite too, in the right (or wrong) circumstances.

In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigated the crash-related fire risk in the Chevy Volt, and concluded: “The NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles.”

10. The Toyota Prius gets worse gas mileage than a BMW M3.

This one comes from a 2009 episode of “Top Gear,” which ran a test in which the powerful BMW actually got more miles per gallon than the little hybrid. But what people forget is that that test was done on a track, with the Prius driving as fast as possible, and the BMW just keeping up.

Yes, the M3 is more efficient than the Prius in very specific conditions. But if you drive on public roads and want to save on fuel, take the hybrid. Host Jeremy Clarkson explained, “It isn’t what you drive that matters, it’s how you drive it.”

11. You need to change your oil every 3,000 miles. Or never change it at all.

That rule may have held for older cars, but it’s now a thing of the past. By now, it’s been so thoroughly debunked, it has its own Wikipedia page. In turn, that has spawned another myth: You never actually need to change your car’s oil.

But while most modern cars can go as far as 10,000 miles without fresh oil, the occasional change is still necessary. Taking on the question, “What if I never changed the oil in my car,” How Stuff Works answered: “Eventually, as the oil gets dirtier and dirtier, it will stop lubricating and the engine will quickly wear and fail.”

12. A dirty car is more fuel efficient than a clean one.

The thinking here is that mud caked on the side of a car works like dimples on a golf ball, reducing drag. Mythbusters checked this one out, and found that dirt particles actually create more drag — and can reduce fuel economy by a whopping 10%.

old car ad mud13. Premium fuel makes your non-premium car run better.

More expensive gas isn’t purer or cleaner than the regular version. It is less combustible, which makes a difference for powerful engines, but has no effect in your Camry.

The Federal Trade Commission puts it simply: “In most cases, using a higher octane gasoline than your owner’s manual recommends offers absolutely no benefit.”

14. Red cars are pulled over for speeding more often than non-red cars.

When it comes to cars most likely to get pulled over, color doesn’t make a difference. A study by Quality Planning, published by Forbes, revealed the most-ticketed car is the Mercedes-Benz SL Class convertible. That’s no surprise, as the 2013 version goes from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, according to Edmunds.

15. Circuses use trap doors and other tricks to fit all those clowns in those tiny cars.

We can’t guarantee there aren’t some frauds out there, but the true clown car doesn’t use any sleight of hand.

Greg DeSanto, executive director of the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center, explained to Car and Driver that the key is taking everything possible out of the car, “then it’s a matter of shoving in the clowns.”

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5 Tips for Finding Used Car Parts Online

Last winter, I busted the passenger mirror off my 1996 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon. Inspection time has arrived again, and I needed to get it fixed. My local junkyard went out of business, so I did something I’ve never done before: I bought a used part online. Here’s a primer on how find parts for your car.

One of the things that’s hurt used parts suppliers online is an image of junkyards that probably needs some updating. I spent a lot of time running around junkyards as a kid, and they were universally disorganized and barely on this side of legal.

Used Auto Parts - RoadmasterMy vision of junkyards is stuck in 1985, when I went searching for parts for my 1976 Camaro. You took the parts off yourself and you negotiated the price at the garage out front. In those days, most of my transactions were with a guy standing in a grease pit under a Chevy C30 wrecker.

These days, most good auto recyclers are highly organized, computerized and legit. They have an accurate inventory system and pick cars clean before sending raw materials back to be recycled. Take a look in the video below to see how modern auto recyclers do business:

According to the Auto Recyclers Association, the auto recycling is a $22 billion business today. “Professional auto recyclers use computer and satellite communication systems that enable for direct inventory assessment as well as locate parts across town or across the continent by simply entering the appropriate data into their computer system,” says the Association. “This technology allows recyclers to maximize their inventories and provide quick and efficient service to their customers.”

Still, you might have some trepidation about buying used auto parts online. We’ve got a few things to think about before you do:

Go Local

There are a couple of ways to find auto recyclers in your area. The most obvious is a Google search for “auto recycler in Your Town, USA.” Most of those recyclers are online and equipped with computerized inventory systems so you can locate the parts you need pretty easily.

The vast majority of auto recyclers are using a common online inventory system. For example, one of the local auto recyclers in my area — Smith Auto Recycling — has a system that allows you to search for parts using the year, make and model of your car.

Then it’s a matter of finding the part you want. I did a quick search for a rear door on my wagon and Smith Auto Recycling matched the part. The search result page includes information about the condition, the price and how to purchase it.

At that point, you can call the recycler directly, or click “Live Chat” if the recycler has that option.

Search Nationwide

We’re all for supporting local businesses, but not every auto recycler is going to have the part you’re looking for. The cool thing about the inventory system that Smith Auto Recycling uses is that it’s provided by My pal Jim O’Clair writes the Parts Interchange column for Hemmings Motor News — and provides an awesome list of recyclers specializing in vintage car parts in this article — has been a devotee from the get-go. has been online since 1998.

The beauty of is that you can search for parts nationwide, but you can focus locally to avoid the shipping cost of larger parts. You select your year, make and model the same way you do with the local page in the Smith’s Auto Recycling example, but now you’re searching 160 million used parts all over the nation. Unless you’re searching for something completely obscure, you’re likely to find it with

Using, I got a whole range of mirrors from local recyclers. The prices ranged anywhere from not listed to about $100, but I found a $50 mirror assembly from a Murray’s Auto Recycling in Londonderry, New Hampshire. I selected that one because the condition was listed as good, and the color even matched. The more information that a recycler puts in their listing, the better.

Paying For Your Part

When I found the mirror I was looking for, I called Murray’s directly. We spent five minutes on the phone. I paid for the part with a credit card. That’s a lot easier than roaming around a scrapyard hoping to find what I’m looking for.

Picking Up your Part

For bigger parts — rear differentials, engines, doors, etc. — the shipping would throw the whole price equation out the window, so you can pay for the part on the phone and then go pick it up locally.

IMG_0907My mirror is light and easy to stick in a box, so for five bucks, Murray’s bubble-wrapped it and shipped it out to me. I called on a Saturday and the package arrived on Wednesday.


If you buy parts this way, you’re not dealing with, so you’ve got to get some sense of trust before you decide whether to make the transaction. My five minute call with Murray’s led me to believe that I was dealing with a legitimately family operation. The yard has been in business since 1955, and they offered me a 60-day warranty on the part. Not much more you can expect out of an online transaction.

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Tips to Becoming a Race Car Driver

Do you fancy yourself as the next Jeff Gordon or Danica Patrick? Professional race car driving is highly competitive and typically involves massive amounts of hard work, training and money, but there are a few tips that can help you along the way.

Race car driving takes years of practice and commitment.

Get Behind a Car Early

According to Jim Altemus of the Skip Barber Racing School, most Formula 1 drivers begin training by the age of 14 or 15 at the latest. Many racers also start out at a young age by racing go-karts until they can qualify for driving school, according to professional race car driver Mario Andretti. Beginning with go-karting can help propel a young adult to an eventual path in race-car driving, and many facilities feature “slick tracks,” which use polished concrete or asphalt to more closely mimic a real racing surface. These polished tracks cause drivers to lose control more easily, and can take hundreds of hours to master; Check with your local racetrack to determine what their minimum driving age is.

Understand Race Car Mechanics

While there are no education requirements for becoming a race car driver, former race car driver Mac Demere encourages all aspiring drivers to pursue a self-directed study program in race car mechanics to understand a race car both inside and out. Make a priority of reading, watching and absorbing all you can on race car functions, strategy, engineering and technology. Begin by searching for courses at a community college on auto mechanics, watching races on television and in person, searching the Internet for racing guides and, if possible, speaking with people who work on the track. The more you know about the way the race car works and the strategy behind driving it, the better you’ll be behind the wheel.

Pay Your Dues

As with any professional sport, you won’t be in the big leagues right away; it takes years of practice, hard work, commitment and a good bit of luck. Demere advises that one of the best things to do is to spend as much time as you can learning the ins and outs of your local racetrack. Before making it into the driver’s seat, Demere volunteered to wash cars, sell tickets, load equipment and help out around the track. Though he wasn’t paid, he notes that it was easy to find teams eager for extra help, especially if he brought beer. Volunteering at the track will help you to learn more about the back-end of racing, and you’ll get the opportunity to talk with professionals in the field and pick up tips along the way.
You can also attend a professional racing school, such as the Skip Barber Racing School or the Bourdant School of High Performance Driving. According to professional racer, Mario Andretti, it’s typical for drivers to work their way up from go-karting to racing schools, where they can then participate in the school’s races. These schools teach students about the mechanics and methods of driving. Courses generally last just a few days, and range between a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Start Small

Making it to the professional racing circuits takes both time and momentum. Don’t shy away from smaller races sponsored by a driving school, as those are typically cheaper. You may not have a sponsor at first, in which case you’ll have to pay your own way as far as a car, equipment and racing fees. As you start winning races you may catch the attention of a sponsor and be able to move up to a professional circuit. Above all, be patient, commit fully and continue to work hard until you achieve your goals.

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Top 10 Car Design Software for Absolute Beginners

Are you looking for car design software that won’t intimidate you as a non-experienced designer?

If you are having a dilemma on where to start, it is now the perfect moment to set your worries aside. We bring you the latest software available for automotive designing. Here are the best, both free and premium, tools for newbies.

10. AutoCAD Revit LT Suite

AutoCAD Revit LT SuiteThis is a premium software which you can buy for $1,300 or rent for $75 per month. It will give you helpful tools for 3D product designing. You can easily assemble automotive parts because the software is now more simplified compared to the previous versions. Premium subscription will also entitle you to an outstanding support for beginners.

9. 3Ds Max

3Ds MaxAnother software brought to you by AutoDesk is the 3Ds Max. This software costs $3,675 but you can rent it for $195 per month. It features sophisticated and realistic 3D simulations, allowing you to simulate man-made and natural forces against your design. Subscription also online training materials for starters.

8. SketchBook Designer

SketchBook DesignerIf you plan to draw your concept designs first, then you need to have this software. Adobe Photoshop users will feel more comfortable with this because it features paint tools and vectors. You can add layers, styles, and masks as well. This premium software costs less than $500.

7. DrawBerry (Mac)

DrawBerry (Mac)Macintosh users can use this free software as a starting step in car designs. It is a powerful tool which gives you unlimited possibilities with vector drawings. It features simple and user-friendly interface with more promising development. You can create both complicated and simple designs with the use of this software.

6. Rhinoceros

RhinocerosYou can try this software for free or you can buy it for $1,300 – $1,700. The latest Rhino software features enhanced 3D designing tools that guarantee high quality designs. It is also compatible with 3D printing and digital fabrication in case you need to create a physical model of your design. You can also access its wide array of tutorials online.

5. Lightwave

LightwaveAnother popular car designing software is the LightWave which you can try for a month or buy for $1,500. It features standard modeling tools together with numerous 3D packages. You can also create highly detailed car surfaces with the software’s nodal system. Absolute beginners will also benefit from its real-time online support.


CATIA V6When it comes to solid modeling and car design surfacing, you can always rely on CATIA. V6 is their latest release and you can get both price quote and software trials by contacting Dassault Systemes. You can reverse engineer any designs to remodel its surfaces and create new prototypes. Dassault Systemes also provide online resources for new users of CATIA.

3. Google SketchUp

Google SketchUpThis free software can be used to create different 3D automotive designs. It features simple tools that can make outstanding 3D images like structures and car models. You can even save your project in several formats such as PNG, JPG, TIFF, and BMB. There are also unlimited user-based resources available online, allowing beginners to easily learn the tricks of car designing.

2. Adobe Photoshop

Adobe PhotoshopIt may sound absurd once you hear Adobe Photoshop for car designing but nevertheless, newbie 3D designers can take big steps by using this software. It cost less than $700 yet features a lot of tool sets for image editing and 3D modeling. The advantage of using Photoshop is the unlimited resources available online. Newbies can quickly access step-by-step tutorials on how to create car models using Photoshop.

1. Blender

BlenderBlender is an open source 3D designing tool which gathers excellent rating from both users and software developers. It features tons of tool sets, options, and designing functions to cater all your needs. You can even download extra features made by advanced users or you can develop your own in the future. Because it is open source software, you can easily access unlimited support from experts and other users.

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Decorating Your Home on an Insurance Salesman’s Income

Well, it is that time of the year again. The holidays are swiftly approaching and the family will be coming over again. If you look around your living room and the carpet is looking bare, the throw pillows dumpy, and the couch a bit threadbare, you may want to think about working on your home décor just a bit. Of course, if you are an auto insurance salesperson, you are not always making top dollar. We know that better than most – while the industry is good, sometimes it sees lean years. Ever since the 2008 recession, folks have been a bit hesitant to purchase a new car. But do not let that downturn deter you from sprucing up your home.

If you are wondering just how you will be able to afford refurbishing your home on a reduced budget, take some time to look into the options available. By that, we do not mean head to the cheapest furniture store on the block. There is no need to buy repossessed furniture or frequent a pawn shop just for a deal – in fact, many of these items were poorly maintained and are actually now of inferior quality. Rather than let yourself, and your budget, down, find the best deal around, at the most affordable prices.

If you are looking for fantastic quality items, Bed Bath & Beyond offers some of the highest quality items you will find on the market. But do not be put off by the phrase “highest quality items.” You can also find some of the best deals on the market at Bed Bath & Beyond. Especially if you take advantage of Bed Bath & Beyond’s partnership with Groupon. Right now, the two are jointly offering 20% off any one item, 50% off all clearance and closeout items, and even a free $50 gift card. It does not get much better than that, so even if your income is down, you can still stay within your budget, while letting your visiting family members enjoy new, high quality home furnishings. There is no need to put your feet up on a beat up old couch, thanks to Bed Bath & Beyond’s Groupon coupons.

Jaguar XF – finds out further

The Jaguar cars are produced by the Jaguar Land Rover Private Limited Company of UK, a subsidiary of the Tata Motors Limited. The Jaguar Land Rover India after its formation has brought many luxury Jaguar cars to the Indian market. The Jaguar XF is a premium saloon launched in India in 2009.

Variants and prices

The jaguar XF comes in 3 petrol and 3 diesel variants. The petrol variants are the XF Petrol 2.0, the XF Aero-sport and the XF R V8 priced Rupees 51.19, 52.25 and 74.21 lakh respectively. The diesel variants are the XF 2.2 Diesel, the XF 2.2 Diesel Luxury and XF S V6 priced Rupees 47.67, 51.52 and 59.97 lakh respectively. All the variants have 8-speed automatic transmission.

Also Check about Tata Zica Price in India Specification, Photos, Mileage



The stylish exteriors of the Jaguar XF has features like a perforated front grille with metallic treatments, slim head lights with DRLs, a stylish front bumper with three air intakes, LED tail lamps and 10 spoke alloy wheels. The Aero-sport variant has a glossy black radiator grille with chrome surrounds and a sporty bumper with fog lamps. The RV 8 and SV 6 variants have electric sun roof.


The spacious cabin of the XF is loaded with comfort and safety features. The lower variants have 6 air bags, ABS, EBD, BA, ESP, Hill Hold Control, Traction control, tilt and telescopic steering column, an automatic AC, leather seats, body coloured electric ORVMs with blinkers and a music system with LCD display, GPS and Bluetooth connectivity. The top variants have parking assist with camera and automatic head lights.

Engines and performances

Two of the petrol variants have 2L, 236 bhp and 340 NM torque engines giving mileages of 10.5 kmpl. The V8 variant has a 5L, 503 bhp and 625 NM torque supercharged engine giving mileages of 12.0 kmpl. The 2.2L diesel variants have a 2.2L, 190 bhp and 450 NM torque engine with fuel efficiencies of 13.53 kmpl. The S V6 variant is powered by a 3 litre, 271 bhp and 600 NM engine with mileages of 13.53 kmpl. The V8 petrol variant takes 5.7 sec for 0 to 100 kmph acceleration with a top speed of 250 kmph. The 2.2 litre diesel variants take 7.9 sec and the 3L variant 6.4 sec for 0 to 100 kmph acceleration with top speeds of 220 kmph.


The Dimensions of the Jaguar XF are 4961 mm length, 1877 mm width, 1460 mm height and 2909 mm wheel base. The wheels are R20 for the V8 variant and R17 for all other variants with ventilated disc brakes at the front and the rear.

Facts about Jaguar XF

  • The best selling Jaguar car
  • XF Facelift expected in 2016

Also check Mahindra Xylo on and Honda India Bikes at and Auto Expo 2016 on Facebook

The Best Sites for Buying Used Cars Online

There are many outstanding online car dealers that make purchasing a car easier than it has ever been before. Therefore, here’s a quick list of some of the best car shopping sites on the web:


CarsDirect is one of the most comprehensive used car sites on the Internet, and allows you to browse vehicles from hundreds of reputable CarsDirect network dealers. Furthermore, CarsDirect can help you with quick online financing and even help you get low car insurance quotes. When shopping for a new or used car, CarsDirect helps you with every aspect of buying a vehicle.

Auto Trader

Auto Trader is one of the largest used-car dealer on the Internet, and currently has over half a million used cars and trucks listed for sale. Auto Trader allows dealers and individuals from all over the country to post pictures, specifications and other relevant information on used vehicles for sale on their website.


Carmax is one of the largest used car dealer groups in America, and has 100 Carmax used car dealerships around the country. The Carmax website allows you to browse the current inventory of all of them, and if you find a vehicle you like Carmax will deliver it to the nearest Carmax location to your area with no charge. Carmax makes it simple to find a quality used car or truck and offers low no-haggle pricing.

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10 Tips for Online Auto Dealer Marketing

Online marketing is an essential part of your automotive marketing, and the online world is constantly changing. You need to stay up to date, and connect with your customers over multiple modes of communication in order to be effective. We have some tips to help you out.

auto dealer marketing

1. Connect Effectively with Online Leads

Many dealerships do not know how to reach out to online leads that visit their website or their social media pages. In order to draw in online visitors, place calls to action and signup forms on multiple pages of your website and on your Twitter and Facebook pages. Signup forms should allow visitors to subscribe to your marketing emails or text messages. Calls to action can encourage customers to download any inbound marketing resources that you offer, such as a car buying guide, or to click for a special promotional offer.

2. Keep your Social Media Pages Up to Date

Don’t try to be on every social media site online. Instead, focus on distributing quality content on a few of the most popular sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. If your social media pages are stagnant, visitors will think your auto business is lazy or doesn’t care about its customers. An automated marketing solution can help you keep your pages current, without you having to manually update it all the time. Create posts and tweets in advance and schedule them to post over time.

3. Provide Useful Auto Dealership Marketing Resources

In order to truly engage your online customers, you need to provide valuable, relevant resources. These can include informative emails, text message coupons, auto maintenance tips, industry news, whitepapers and so on. These resources help to establish your auto dealership marketing as an automotive authority and create ongoing interest in your customers.

4. Use Automated Marketing to Personalize Marketing Campaigns

An automated marketing solution can be used to make your marketing campaigns highly personalized for each of your customers. A customer profile is created which stores customer preferences, vehicle history, purchase and auto maintenance history and individual customer dates. This information is used to send personalized promotional messages and maintenance reminders at exactly the right time. Personalized campaigns help to drive business back to your dealership and boost customer satisfaction.

5. Respond to Online Feedback Promptly

Just as you would quickly follow up with an in-person customer complaint or other feedback, you must also follow up with any online feedback. If a customer posts a comment on your Facebook or Twitter page, reply in a friendly and professional manner. Don’t ever start an argument with a customer on social media or it will come back to haunt you, and can even seriously damage your auto dealership reputation.

6. Gather Feedback Easily through Surveys

One of the most important aspects of any type of marketing, is to continually analyze your campaigns and see how they can be improved. Gaining useful customer feedback through online surveys is a simple way to learn what your customers want. Try to make survey questions simple and straightforward so your customers will be able to answer them clearly. Surveys can be sent out to customers after they visit the dealership in order to gauge their opinions about the service. Survey distribution and the gathering of information can be made much easier and more efficient with an automated survey tool.

7. Offer Special Marketing Promotions

Promotions and contests are very effective ways to engage customers. Many customers will go to your dealership over a competitor dealer if you have a special promotion going on. You can easily promote your contests, coupons and auto sales on your website and on your social media pages. Promotions are a great way to draw new and repeat business to your auto dealership.

8. Interact with Your Customers Online

This tactic is an excellent way of connecting with your customers, and works as a form of indirect marketing. Online communication, especially social media, is all about two way interaction between businesses and their customers. Pose questions, such as “What is your favorite song to listen to in the car?” Join conversations on Twitter by using hashtags (relevant keywords or phrases with the # sign in front of them) and contribute useful auto information. Communicating actively with your customers online shows that your auto dealership is active and engaged with its customers, and that you value your customers’ opinions.

9. Integrate Your Marketing Efforts

Your online marketing campaigns should go hand in hand in order to make the most of your budget and your efforts. Post signup forms on your website and social media pages that encourage visitors to subscribe to your email marketing newsletters and text message campaigns. Your email marketing newsletters should have social sharing and social following buttons that allow subscribers to easily share your content with a wider audience. Whenever you send out marketing messages, think about how you can integrate that message in with your other marketing efforts.

10. Create Videos

Videos are some of the most engaging things you can put on your website and social media pages. They are engaging, informative and interesting to your auto customers. Your auto videos can advertise your newest vehicles or special sales you are having, or they can be all about automotive tips and can provide your customers with information they can really use. Videos can also be easily shared so more people see them and you will bring in new business for your dealership.

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Cam Gear Combination Increase Power

Making a race car go fast entails many compromises, as we all know. For instance, a huge carburetor that may produce prodigious amounts of power at 9,000 rpm won’t pull your Street Stock off the corner for beans. This situation must reach a compromise for the best overall performance around the track. Throttle response, low-end power, and sufficient power at the end of the straight are factors that must be balanced.

One of these relationships that is sometimes overlooked is that of the cam to the gears. There are any number of places that grind cams. There are a few that can knowledgeably recommend a cam for your engine. Fewer still are able to practically put themselves at your track and see what you need. It is not unheard of for a racer to tell a cam grinder that he needs more cam than he really does. The racer will say he has big ports and a large carb (wishful thinking), when in fact he has somewhat less-all in an effort to select the larger cam he thinks he needs.

Sometimes the racer listens to another racer’s advice about a cam. If both the racers’ cars were identical with identical driving styles, this might be OK. Driving style makes a difference. Some driving styles keep rpm up, while others depend on torque out of the corner. Both can work quite well. Again the trick is to select a cam and the appropriate gear to get the desired results.

As with just about everything in racing, the cam-gear combination is important. A 9,800 rpm Daytona motor might not pull your Street Stock out of the pits without destroying the clutch.

I see a lot of Street Stock/Hobby Stock racers that don’t know what gear they have. Oh yeah, they know they have a 3.73:1 in the rear end and run in First in the transmission. But what gear do they really have? The final drive is the key figure. But one also needs to know tire size. Not the tire size designated by the tire manufacturer, but the circumference, or roll-out, as it is sometimes called.

Here is the way tire size affects gearing and speed. Select a tire: say, a 90-inch circumference DOT Street Stock tire. Then, let’s say you have a TH350 transmission with a 1.52:1 low gear and a 3.73:1 rear end gear. This gives you a 5.67:1 final gear. Now, if you have a 7,000 rpm engine, the 5.67:1 gives you a tire speed of 1,235 rpm. With the 90-inch tire, your top speed will be 105 miles per hour. If you change to an 81-inch diameter tire, keeping the same engine rpm and final drive ratio, then the tire rpm will still be 1,235. Yet your top speed will have dropped to 94.5 mph.

You likely won’t have a situation where all things stay the same except tire size, but this exercise should explain the relationship of tire size to gear ratios. Look to the chart on page 82 if you like math. This is the formula I use for turning engine rpm, gearing, and tire size into speed numbers.

The camshaft in your engine can be considered part of your gearing. A cam will make its power in a range that the cam grinder designs. Cams are seldom ever ground incorrectly. By the same token, there are few bad (new) cams. The wrong cam is only wrong in being improperly selected by the user. A cam is designed to make power in a certain rpm range. This power range can be wide or narrow as well as high or low. This power range must be realistically matched to your car and its performance

Higher horsepower numbers and higher rpms are always the focus of a racer. In some forms of motorsports where engine speed remains fairly constant, that focus is OK. In a stock car application the operating range can be quite wide. Most racers will see the tach at the end of the straight. Few will glance at the rpm in the turn just before getting back on the throttle. The high and low tach readings will give you and your cam grinder the rpm range of your engine.

I spoke with several cam grinders. From these conversations I found that the ideal would be to rev the engine right to peak power at the end of the straight. In practice, in order to make the best use of power, revving to about 10 percent over peak is often where you want to be. Also, keep an eye on the bottom end. The cam’s power range should come in close to the lower rpm found in mid-turn. You probably won’t achieve this unless you go about 10 percent over peak power.

This lower speed range is where the engine must pull hard to accelerate the car off the turn. Ideals such as these will be difficult to achieve because we don’t have infinitely variable gear ratios. Thus, you could be asking for such a wide power range that the amount of power will not be sufficient. A cam can only be asked to do so much.

A cam designed with a narrow power range, say 7,500 to 7,900 rpm, can make a lot of power right in that range. However, it may have trouble getting a car pulled up to that range. The obvious point is that maximum power is not the answer.

So if a wide power range is too wide and a narrow range too narrow, then we must reach a compromise. This compromise is going to have a lot to do with the car’s performance. The cam’s compromise should be reached along with the gear’s compromise.

Final drive gearing (transmission gear ratio multiplied by rear-end ratio), must be tailored to the power range of the cam and vice versa. It works something like this: A cam with only a slightly narrow powerband can be combined with lower gearing. This allows the engine to be revving a bit higher, say 10 to 15 percent higher, at the top end and be at the bottom of its power range when coming out of the corner. At the end of the straight the engine will be revving above its peak at the shut-off point, but little time is spent at the very top end of the straight.

The other way is to gear the car higher and use a cam with a wider power range. Doing this can keep the engine in the range where it makes the best power. With a smooth driver this can work well. The problem comes when, in traffic, the preferred line is not available. This can move the engine out of its best power range. Remember also that a wide range cam is more forgiving of driver error. A wide power range allows a driver to drive out of situations such as being sideways, where a narrow power range might slow the car tremendously.

The bottom line of all this is the engine’s cam needs to be matched to the car’s gearing for the best overall performance. I prefer to call a cam grinder and ask him what I need-not tell him what I want. He should have information and experience with many tracks and classes. He gets feedback from racers every day about what works in a given situation.

Your responsibility is to have all the proper information at hand when you make the call. This means information about the car, the engine, and the track. One thing I like to have is the low rpm number from the middle of the turn. This is something few drivers look for, but it can be important in selecting cams.

Finding the correct gear to match your cam can be difficult unless you have some experience to draw from. Your’s or a friend’s best guess might be the best place to start

Now run the car at the track. If the rpm is, for example, 10 percent below the power peak of the cam, then you will need to change the final drive gearing by 10 percent. If your cam grinder told you to rev the engine 10 percent above peak, that indicates the need for a total final drive change of 20 percent.

An example would be when your final drive ratio is 5.67:1 with an rpm of 7,000. Changing to a 6.80:1 ratio would increase the rpm to 8,400, a 20 percent change. The wheel rpm (the speed of the car) would be the same in both cases, and you would have moved the engine’s power range to where you need it to be.

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How Not To Design A Great Race Track

Now that this attention-grabbing headline has done its job I’ll make it simple for you: The only way not to design a great a racetrack is to “design” it in the first place. The more you design a track, the worse it is.

The idea for the post came to me during a nice sunny afternoon overlooking the Caribbean Sea, I was sitting on a gently reclined beach chair on the edge of a little island paradise known as St. Maarten — a common retreat for modern race car drivers.

Oh, wait, sorry that is where I would have liked to have been. I was actually sitting in a dark, shades-drawn closed room in my apartment sitting in my “race simulator” and talking to a friend on the popular “gaming” chat tool known as TeamSpeak.

That’s right, most race car drivers are nerds just like you.

How Not To Design A Great Race Track

This friend and I were discussing current events in the F1 world when he said ” I can’t wait till F1 gets back to the Circuit Of Americas” to which I responded “Why?”

Other then the fact that F1 will return to the greatest country in the world, I was a little curious why he cared so much about F1 racing at COTA? Before he could defend himself I said: “Look, it’s another Herman Tilke “parking lot” track, nothing special, tons of run-off, no risk for going off the track,” etc.

I even challenged him to a test. I said, having not studied the track, that I could tell him what the layout was. “I bet it goes something like this: A long pit straight leading to a tight 70 degree left hander, there will be a series of meaningless esses, then there will be at least one decreasing radius corner and lastly another long straight with a tight 180 degree hairpin at the end.”

My friend then started to laugh uncontrollably and exclaimed “My God, I think you just described the race tracks in China, India, New Hockenheim, New Nurburgring, Bahrain, Circuit of the Americas and Malaysia.”

It’s a sad fact.

How Not To Design A Great Race Track1

To truly understand how not to build a great track we must look at how the best were built. I’ll start with a famous little circuit just outside the outskirts of Toronto, this race track starts with a truly frightening and very fast turn one right hander that is constantly changing the banking level and width, with a wall on the inside and a wall to the outside, it gives you the illusion that you’re on a street course.

Turn two is one of the most famous corners in all of racing and is truly death-defying each time, as you approach it up a hill you realize you’re looking into the sky, another wall directly to the inside and a wall directly to your outside, you drag your left front tire as close to the inside wall as you can stand and suddenly realize you are dropping what feels like 5 stories to the bottom and before you even can process what has just happened you are fighting to feed more throttle as it compresses at the bottom of the hill and causes the car to gain über grip.

Now, if you were to suddenly get it wrong (up until the repave) you would find yourself feeling like you were accelerating down this same hill as you are in the grass hurtling towards a wall head-on. Two corners this intense can define a track and, for the famous Mosport (now Canadian Tire Motorsport Park), they do.

How Not To Design A Great Race Track

Now for the best part. The folklore of Mosport has always been that a farmer at the time was contracted to build a track, so what did he do? He pulled out a bull dozer and weaved and mowed around until the legend that is Mosport was created. No engineers, no designs just a “Hammer twice and measure once” attitude.

Is the story true? Not exactly. Yes, Mosport was built on a farm but it did have a track designer. The real story is almost as great as the original design was so fluid that when Sir Stirling Moss came to visit, during the building phase, he had them create what is now “Moss Corner” because it would take greater “driver skill.” Nothing about numbers, run-off or safety. The only concern was that it would be harder. That’s how you build a racetrack.

Another favorite racetrack of mine on the oval side is nestled in a small town in South Carolina and was one of NASCAR’s first real purpose-built speedways. The track was built by a man named Harold Brasington, a retired race car driver, who went to the 1948 Indianapolis 500 and saw the huge crowds gathered and decided right then and there he was going to do the same in South Carolina.

How Not To Design A Great Race Track

So after purchasing 70 acres of land from a farmer, he went about building his speedway and ended up with one of the most unique designs in all of NASCAR after he realized that one side of the track would have to be a lot tighter radius, higher banked corner because he had promised the farmer that this race track wouldn’t disturb the farmers beloved minnow pond.

So in turns one and two you have the fast, sweeping corner he wanted and in turns 3 and 4 you have a truly tricky and unique corner that forces you to drive inches from the wall to get the most speed. The best part of Darlington Speedway was not designed; it was just built to accommodate a farmer’s desire for tranquility.

The list goes on. Spa Franchorchamps has Eau Rouge, one of the greatest corners in all of motorsports. How was Eau Rouge created? Two guys got really drunk in 1920 and decided it would be cool (or because it was the only way through the two hills on either side, either way).

How about the Circuit De La Sarthe, which is a track that some claim has you on the throttle flat-out for 85% of a lap? It combines a street course and purpose built race track with a mind-bending four-mile straight that sadly has been split into three segments to connect it all.

Even with the shortening of the Mulsanne straight that had some cars in the FIA Group C era clocked at 250MPH, if you get it wrong in the Porsche Curves section, you will hit a wall. No miles of run off, no safety enhancement, just true racetrack.

How Not To Design A Great Race Track

Lastly, there’s Bathurst in Australia, known to many of you as Mount Panorama. A four-mile race track that literally winds you up a mountain and then just as you reach the summit, send you plummeting back down the mountain to end up where you started.

Technically a street course, much of the mountain part of the track is just a canyon of concrete walls that you must skim with your car each lap to achieve the best lap time. It can only be described with the title of one of my favorite movies: “The Englishman That Went Up A Hill But Came Down a Mountain” The slightest mistake up that hill or down the mountain usually results in terrifying images of torn car shrapnel and ejected parts strewn through the walls of the monster that is Bathurst.

At this point you’re probably thinking: Well, Mr. Know-It-All-Race-Car-Driver, how would you build a race track?

First off, I’d pick the most undulating piece of land I could find. I would ask “how big?” and “where do you want the pit straight?” That’s all I need to know.

How Not To Design A Great Race Track

I don’t care what type of car is going to be driven on it. I don’t care where the fans go. If you build it right, the fans will have places to see the track. You can build bridges or tunnels to get them where they want to go.

I wouldn’t have paved run-offs so large you could land a 747 on it (or so someone like Charles Pic can lose control of his Marussia and continue racing). If you make a mistake or push it too far on my track, you will pay the price.

My corners would come from my favorite corners from the streets around where I grew up, like all gearheads who have that perfect set of corners where you drop a left front a bit over a curb because the car is so loaded and think to yourself ‘yup, I am the best at that.’ Those segments of road that in High School you would drive and say to yourself “Man this would be one helluva race track.”

Other parts of it will just happen as we realize we need to move a corner because there happens to be a boulder sitting where we wanted to build a certain section or, you know, a damn minnow pond. No leveling, just maneuvering. Oh, and lastly, will it get bumpy?

You bet it will, and each time the F1 drivers go on Twitter and complain about their manicure being destroyed or the engineers with $400 million budgets complain about it upsetting the car I’ll just grin a most gratifying grin, because it should always be: “You build it, we’ll race on it.”

Now there will be the argument of “we can’t race on that.” Nothing in my racing life annoys me more than to hear someone say “we can’t race on that.” Racers are racers. I don’t care if you give them a tricycle and a track in a swimming pool. If the prize is big enough, you will race.

Do you think the drivers at the famous Targa Florio liked racing at speeds upwards of 150 MPH only inches from certain death? Probably not, but did they do it? Of course. I don’t like hearing about how it’s too bumpy, or too tight, or even too dangerous. The idea of motor racing was to prove the fastest driver and car combination, but unlike other sports with standardized playing fields. Our fields are beautifully dynamic, beautifully unique, so don’t say “it cant be raced on” because, as Bill France Sr. said in 1969, when then drivers in NASCAR at the time had a strike over the safety of Talladega: “No problem, we’ll just find someone else to race” and they did.

So if you want to build a racetrack, don’t design it, don’t think about it. Just build it. It’s how the very best were made.

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12 Car Maintenance Mistakes

In order to work optimally, vehicles require regular preventative maintenance. While not all maintenance schedules are the same, all vehicles require maintenance to help ensure a long life. However, it isn’t always easy to have preventative maintenance measures performed regularly. Besides the obvious cost implications, we have life obligations that can sometimes prevent us from having time to maintain our vehicles as stated in our owners manuals. To help you prioritize and plan here is a list, in no particular order, of the top 12 car maintenance mistakes a person can make and what you can do to avoid them.

Ignoring the Check Engine LightIt can be easy to ignore the Check Engine light. The light comes on and your car seems to be operating as it normally would and you might figure, “Well, everything seems fine, I’ll take care of it soon.” But other things come up, it gets put off, and one day your car could breakdown. As difficult as it might be to find the time to have your vehicle seen by a mechanic when that dashboard light first comes on, it really is best to have it seen as soon as possible because the longer you wait, the higher the costs could be for repairs. In other words, a little time spent having it fixed right away could save you a lot of money in the long run.

Not Checking your Tire PressureIt is a common mistake to forget to check the air pressure in ones tires because, from the looks of it, the tires are properly inflated. Looks can be deceiving. Even when tires appear to be properly inflated, they could be low on air. While the tires may not blow out, low tire pressure could lead to poor fuel economy so your wallet could still be affected. It is also easy for tires to lose air pressure – as easy as running over a pothole. The weather outside has a big effect on your tire pressure. Tires lose 1 to 2 lbs. of air pressure for every 10° the temperature drops outside. Therefore, it is best to check your tire pressure regularly because you never know when it might be low. After all, the last thing you want is a flat tire and/or poor gas mileage.

Ignoring your TPMS LightIf your Tire Pressure Monitoring System light activates, check your tire pressure. Your TPMS light serves as a warning system informing you when one or more of your tires is deflated beyond what is considered safe by your vehicle’s manufacturer. If this light comes on while you are driving, pull over somewhere safe, preferably your closest open gas station, and verify whether your tire is losing air. If applicable, add air. Occasionally your TPMS sensor may require replacement. If your TPMS is indicating a loss of air pressure, but when you check your tire, all is well, consider TMPS sensor replacement. In addition to the aforementioned benefits of checking your tire pressure, balanced tires promote even tire wear, resulting in a longer tire life and better fuel economy. If you believe your TPMS light is faulty, your local Pep Boys offers a Free Tire Pressure Monitoring System Check-up.

Skipping Oil ChangesMotor oil and car engine technology has advanced so much over the years that, depending on the recommendations of your vehicle’s manufacturers, it may no longer be necessary to get an oil change every 3,000 miles – the average oil change interval is around 7,800 miles for today’s cars. This is great news because it means less time and money spent taking your vehicle for an oil change. However, this does not mean that oil changes can be skipped. Your vehicle’s engine needs motor oil to operate properly and without it, the engine seizes up and dies. In order for motor oil to keep your engine running, it can’t be too old. Case in point: if motor oil is left in an engine for too long, the oil begins to break down, which can lead to nasty deposits of sludge in your engine. Instead of lubricating and cooling the engine parts, the oil sludge can damage the parts, which is something you want to avoid at all costs. Getting regular oil changes will help to ensure a long engine life.

Neglecting Fluid ChecksIt’s a common misconception that motor oil is the only fluid in the car that needs to be checked and changed. It’s true that motor oil is one of the more critical fluids in your vehicle but there are many other fluids in the car that should be checked, exchanged, and/or topped off. Brake fluid, transmission fluid, engine coolant, and power steering fluid should all be checked and serviced as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Doing this helps to avoid leaks and keep your vehicle operating properly.

Still Driving when the Engine is OverheatingEven automotive experts have admitted to being guilty of this. They also say that this is not the wisest thing to do. An engine, by nature, gets extremely hot when it runs, requiring a cooling system to avoid overheating. When that system fails (and it can happen to anyone), the vehicle needs to be stopped immediately. In this situation, the best idea is to turn the car off and call for a tow.

Not Using Filters as RecommendedFilters need to be as clean as possible in order to work optimally. Clean filters keep dirt particles and other contaminants from entering your vehicle’s fuel, engine or air conditioning systems. Dirty air filters can lead to a host of issues ranging from causing poor gas mileage to making your engine seize or wearing out system components. Have your filters changed as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer, and you’ll be glad you did.

Not Inspecting the BrakesIt’s easy to ignore that squealing noise that comes from worn-down brakes. It is easy to convince yourself that the noise is coming from another car or that there is time to spare before you check. The truth is that the brakes are one of the most important components of your car. If they are worn down or not working properly, your vehicle becomes unsafe for you and your passengers. So if you hear a squealing or grinding noise when you brake, have your brake system evaluated as soon as possible.

Not Rotating Tires/Neglecting to get A Wheel AlignmentThis can be a simple thing to overlook because you can drive for quite a while without getting an alignment or rotating your tires. Although it might seem like everything is fine, having misaligned wheels can result in real issues. There is only one way to be positive that your tires are properly aligned and that is to have your vehicle’s alignment checked. If a wheel alignment is recommended, it is in your best interest to have it performed. As for tire rotation, most manufacturers recommend that tires be rotated every 5,000 to 10,000 miles but check your owner’s manual to make sure.

Servicing your Own Vehicle without the Proper Know-HowThe cool thing about cars these days is that they’re very computerized. There is a computer that monitors various sensors inside the car and uses those sensors to regulate things like idle speed, spark plugs, and fuel injectors, to name a few. If something goes wrong, the computer can sense it and will activate your vehicle’s Check Engine light to alert you to the fact that there is an issue. Since your vehicle is computerized (i.e. complicated), it can be tremendously difficult to fix something yourself if you don’t have the proper tools, knowledge, and diagnostic equipment. As much as it might cost to have a professional technician take a look at your car, you can rest assured that your vehicle will get serviced and/or repaired correctly.

Not changing your Windshield WipersWindshield wipers degrade over time. They chatter, they tear and, as a result, leave a streaky wipe behind. The trick is changing your wipers as soon as they don’t clear the windshield well. As they age, wiper blades will leave behind streaks, indicating that it is time to change them. Rain, snow, and other precipitation can severely cut down on your ability to see the road and other vehicles clearly so changing your wipers when they wear out is very important. Take the wiper blade challenge to determine whether it’s time to replace your windshield wipers.

Using Home Glass Cleaner to Clean your Rear WindshieldThis is a big no-no. Most home glass cleaners use ammonia as a chief cleaning agent. Over time, ammonia will break down the heating elements in your rear windshield. The thin red lines you see are actually small wires designed to bring heat to your windshield to assist with defrosting. It is much safer to use window cleaner designed for automotive glass.

It’s true – car maintenance can sometimes get in the way of life. However, making sure that your vehicle is properly maintained when it needs to be will help to ensure that you don’t spend precious time stuck on the side of the road when you could be spending it on things you cherish. Being aware of these 12 common car maintenance mistakes will help you in the long run.

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Become an Automobile Designer

Automobile designers are industrial designers who use both art and engineering to research and create new car designs. Their designs must ensure the safety of the vehicle and operate within regulatory parameters while still creating a great looking, comfortable product that appeals to consumers. Automobile design is a creative but highly competitive career choice.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

A few schools offer 4-year bachelor’s degree programs in transportation design, and some have programs in industrial design with a transportation design concentration. Typical coursework includes design fundamentals, 2-D and 3-D drawing skills, car technology, research skills development, model-making, and computer aided drafting or CAD. Since both transportation and industrial design programs are rare, admission can be quite competitive. Students can consider earning an associate’s degree in industrial design before applying to an automobile design program. Students should begin building a car design portfolio during this time.

Success Tips:

  • Complete an internship. Internships, sometimes paid, may be available for advanced students. These provide an opportunity to gain work experience with professional car designers at major automotive companies. A portfolio review is often part of the selection process for internships.
  • Learn CAD. With the increasing use of computer-aided design (CAD), car designers who are fluent in this technology may improve their job prospects.
  • Learn another language. Since the automobile industry is an international one, car designers may travel to other countries in the course of their work. Speaking a second language increases versatility and could provide an edge when applying for jobs.

Step 2: Build a Portfolio

A professional portfolio of high-quality, innovative work is essential throughout the career of an automobile designer. It is used to show the designer’s creativity and capabilities and can help with gaining employment and/or entrance to graduate school. Bachelor’s programs include creation and development of a portfolio, but it’s important to keep working on and adding to it over time.

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

Job prospects for graduates holding an automobile design degree come mainly from car manufacturers and design companies specializing in automotive design. A college with close ties to such companies can be helpful in placing recent graduates. According to the BLS, industrial designers are expected to see a 4% job increase during the 2012-2022 decade, which is slower than average for all occupations. Consumer demand for innovative designs, however, should ensure the continued need for all types of industrial designers.

Step 4: Consider a Graduate Degree in Automobile Design

After completing a bachelor’s degree and/or obtaining some professional experience, returning to school to earn a graduate degree in automobile design may demonstrate a designer’s dedication to the profession. For example, earning a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Transportation Design advances design skills and contributes to portfolio work. An MFA or Master of Industrial Design (MID) degree program can take 2-4 years and requires rigorous research, emphasizing real-world experience with commercially-oriented projects. Classes, design labs, and internships or externships improve the designer’s overall knowledge of design practices and further develop innovation skills, which can lead to career advancement.

Five Myths About Stick Shifts

Cars with stick shifts and clutches have their ardent defenders, but some of the reasons they cite for their superiority and desirability aren’t supported by facts. Here are five myths about stick shifts:

1. Cars with manual transmissions always get better fuel economy than cars with automatics.
In the past it was pretty much a given that vehicles with manual transmissions would be more fuel-efficient than their automatic counterparts. But as automatics become more advanced and gain additional gears, they are often now overtaking manuals in terms of fuel economy.

For an example of when the myth is based in reality, there’s the fuel-sipping 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Eco. The manual version of this small Chevy gets 33 mpg combined (28 mpg in the city/42 mpg on the highway). Equipped with an automatic transmission, the Eco is slightly less fuel-efficient: 31 mpg combined (26 city/39 highway). The manual will cost you about $100 less per year in fuel, according to

With the 2014 Ford Focus, it’s the six-speed automatic version that performs better, getting 31 mpg combined (27 city/37 highway). (If you spring for the Super Fuel Economy option package, which also uses the six-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy rises to 33 mpg combined [28 city/40 highway].) A Ford Focus with a conventional manual transmission can’t match the automatics. It gets 30 mpg combined (26 city/36 highway).

There are other examples as well. For the 2014 Versa, Nissan actually offers three transmissions: a five-speed manual, a four-speed automatic and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The manual and automatic get the same combined fuel economy (30 mpg), but the CVT blows both of them away with 35 mpg. And it’s not just economy cars where you can find this trend: A 2013 BMW 328i sedan will get the same combined fuel economy (26 mpg) whether you opt for the manual or automatic transmission.

2. A car with a manual transmission costs less than the same model with an automatic. 
In most cases, the manual version of a car will indeed cost less, but in some instances, it’s the same price as an automatic. Examples include such GM vehicles as the 2013 Buick Regal GS and 2013 Cadillac CTS-V. Among BMWs, the manual is often the same price as the automatic. Further, you can’t always get the car you want with a manual transmission: 67 percent of 2013 model-year cars came only as automatics.

3. The coolest sports cars only come with manual transmissions. 
This depends on your definition of “cool sports car.” The seventh-generation 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and many flavors of the 2014 Porsche 911 offer a choice of a manual or automatic transmission. But if your choice is the 2014 Porsche 911 GT3, which Edmunds editors call “the baddest Porsche on the block,” you can only get an automated manual transmission. The same goes for the 2014 Jaguar F-Type the 2013 Maserati GranTurismo,2013 Lamborghini Aventador and the 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. No manual gear shifting ballet for you.

It’s no loss, says Ken Hill, a professional racer, driving educator and vice president of operations for Automotive Adventures in Bellevue, Washington. “Some people are stuck on the mindset that a driver is faster with a manual box,” Hill says. But there’s a reason why some major performance-car manufacturers, including Ferrari and Jaguar, no longer offer traditional manual transmissions, he says. “They just aren’t as good.”

4. If your dream car comes with a standard manual transmission, you can always get an automatic as an option. 
Like the previous assumption, this one isn’t true either. A small group of cars (mostly sporty models) only come with manuals. The list includes the Audi TT RS, Fiat 500 Abarth, 2014 Ford Focus ST, 2014 Ford Shelby GT500,Mazdaspeed 3 and Volkswagen Golf R.

5. Teenagers really, really want to learn to drive stick shifts. 
Not so, says Hill, who teaches teen driving programs. Because there are so few manuals out there, young people don’t get exposed to them, and so they have little interest in learning how to drive them, he says.

“It’s a complication they don’t need,” Hill says. “Kids have the advantage of not being burdened with nostalgia.” And as a result, he adds, “Ninety-plus percent are perfectly happy with the automatic they have access to.”

10 Things You Should Know About Buying Auto Insurance

  1. How is Your Insurance Rate Determined?
    Two factors determine what you pay for auto insurance. The first factor is underwriting and the second factor is rating. Insurance companies underwrite to assess the risk associated with an applicant, group the applicant with other similar risks and decide if the company will accept the application. Based on the results of the underwriting process, the rating assigns a price based on what the insurer believes it will cost to assume the financial responsibility for the applicant’s potential claim.

    Each company adopts its own rating system, although there are general guidelines that all companies follow.
    The single greatest influence on the rating process is claim frequency. This does not mean how many times you specifically have made an insurance claim, although that will have an additional effect. Claim frequency measures how often an insured event occurs within a group relative to the number of policies contained in that group. Persons sharing characteristics with high claims groups will be charged more for insurance coverage.

  2. Specific Factors that Affect Your Rate
    • Your driving record – drivers with previous violations or accidents are considered to be higher risk
    • Your geographic territory – urban areas have more claims than rural areas
    • Your gender and age – males have more accidents; certain age groups have more claims
    • Your marital status – married people show lower rates of claims
    • Prior insurance coverage – if you have been cancelled for non-payment of premiums
    • Vehicle use – higher annual mileage results in higher exposure to risk
    • Make and model of your vehicle – luxury and sports cars average a higher number of claims
  3. Ask Your Agent About Discounts
    Discounts are awarded because the insurance company sees you as a “better risk.” Here are some discounts you should look for: multiple vehicles, driver education courses, good student, safety devices, anti-theft devices, low mileage, good driver/renewal, auto/home package and dividends. Not all states offer all discounts, so check with your agent to see if you qualify.
  4. Tort System vs. No-Fault System
    Each state must implement either a tort system or a no-fault system. The system your state has implemented will determine what kind of insurance is available to you. The three basic coverages sold under the tort system are bodily injury liability insurance, property damage liability insurance and uninsured motorists coverage. In a no-fault state, coverages will vary, but under a no-fault system your insurance company pays you directly for your losses as a result of injuries sustained in an accident, regardless of who is at fault. Check with your state insurance department for questions concerning tort or no-fault state systems.
  5. Check Into Optional Coverage
    The most commonly recognized coverages, in addition to the basic liability package, are collision and comprehensive coverages. Collision coverage pays for physical damage to your car as a result of your auto colliding with an object such as a tree or another car. This is relatively expensive coverage and is not required by law. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your auto from almost all other causes, including fire, severe weather, vandalism, floods and theft. This coverage will also cover broken glass and windshield damage. Comprehensive coverage is less expensive than collision, but is also optional. Other optional coverages include medical payments coverage, rental reimbursement coverage and towing and labor coverage.
  6. Where to Go for More Information
    Information is available to consumers from a number of unbiased sources. These sources include public libraries, state insurance departments, online resources, consumer groups and consumer publications. Every state insurance department has personnel available to answer questions regarding auto insurance coverage and many departments publish premium comparisons to make shopping around easier.
  7. Shop Around Before You Buy
    When shopping for auto insurance, premium quotations are a useful tool for comparison of different companies’ products. When asking for price quotations, it is crucial that you provide the same information to each agent or company. The agent will usually request the following information: description of your vehicle, its use, your driver’s license number, the number of drivers in your household, the coverages and limits you want.
  8. Where to Shop
    Check the newspaper and yellow pages of the telephone directory for companies and agents in your area. In addition, ask your neighbors, relatives and friends for recommendations on insurance companies and agents. In particular, ask them what kind of claim service they have received from the companies they recommend. Remember to shop around to get the best price and service.
  9. For Your Protection
    Once you have selected the insurance coverages you need and an insurance agent or company, there are steps you can take to make certain you get your money’s worth. Before signing an application for any insurance coverage, call you state insurance department and verify that the company and the agent are licensed to do business in your state. It is illegal for unlicensed insurers to sell insurance, and if you buy from an unlicensed insurer, you have no guarantee that the coverage you pay for will ever be honored.
  10. Read Your Policy Carefully
    You should be aware that an auto insurance policy is a legal contract. It is written so your rights and responsibilities, as well as those of the insurance company, are clearly stated. When you purchase auto insurance, you will receive a policy. You should read that policy and make certain you understand its contents. If you have questions about your insurance policy, contact your insurance agent for clarification. If you still have questions, turn to your state insurance department.

7 Best Sites to Buy and Sell Your Car Online

Over the past few years I’ve used the following four online services to buy a car. Here’s how it went, followed by three other options.

eBay Motors

I bought my 1998 BMW M3 convertible on eBay. Lesson learned: Make sure it’s such a good deal that you’re okay with any foibles undisclosed by the seller. So how do you know you’re getting a nice price? Do an advanced search and look at the completed listings. You’ll see what sold. Maybe even more important, you’ll see what didn’t.


TrueCar is a great tool for removing the mystery of the MSRP. Say you want a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500. 
For that truck, TrueCar has more than 10,000 actual -transaction prices that help you see what you should pay -(probably $2,000 under invoice). Be forewarned that if you do sign in and search a particular model, dealers 
will begin calling you within about three minutes.


This is an aggregator that covers a number of the popular car-buying sites. The key feature, though, is Craigslist aggregation. I used it to locate and buy a truck that ended up being 800 miles away. And manually searching an 800-mile Craigslist radius is a little masochistic even for hardcore used-car junkies. is useful simply because it’s so huge that it quickly exposes outlier prices—both high and low—thanks to the national sample size. It’s also great for finding leftovers, since you can search new cars and then sort by oldest first. Did you miss out on the Pontiac Solstice GXP back in 2009? Not to worry, Malouf Buick GMC in New Jersey still has a new one. Although they’re evidently not in much of a rush to sell it.

A few other options:


360-degree views reveal features and flaws. Most cars are delivered the next day, with a seven-day test drive. If you live in Atlanta, pick up your car at the eerie but fantastic car vending machine.


If you’re selling, Carlypso comes to your house, inspects your car, and installs a device that lets potential buyers take (authorized) test drives. ­Available only in California.


If your car passes a 185-point inspection provided by Beepi, it will list and sell it within thirty days or buy the car from you. Buyers get a ten-day money-back guarantee.

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5 Tips for Creating Big Auto Show Buzz with Online Shoppers

The tips are based on U.S. market and auto show data from Jumpstart’s recent Post-Auto Show Roundup Report and its Online Car Shopping by U.S. Region Study that evaluated online vehicle shopping trends across the company’s portfolio of sites, including Car and Driver, U.S. News Automotive, J.D. Power Autos, and NADAguides, to help marketers more effectively reach new car shoppers—79% of whom turn to the Internet to research their vehicle purchase.*

omotive Group’s five key auto show marketing tips:

1) Know the audience.

Compacts and electric vehicles unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show last year, for example, drove the most online shopper interest across Jumpstart’s sites, while luxury vehicle unveilings in New York generated the biggest online interest among shoppers there.

From fuel efficiency to in-car technology, auto show season showcases the latest and the greatest the auto industry has to offer. For example, the Connected Car Expo at the LA Auto Show this year promises to include some major global technology announcements. Should your message be the same at every show? You may decide to highlight your product’s connected dash technology at the LA Show then switch gears and play up your product’s luxury features at the New York Auto Show.

“Our studies show a direct correlation between vehicle interest based on specific U.S. markets and the auto shows held within those markets,” said Libby Murad-Patel, Jumpstart’s senior director of strategic insights. “Smart marketers use this data to tailor their messages within particular regions, to create online and offline campaigns that resonate best with the consumers who live there.”

2) Challenge conventional thinking.

Numerous unveilings during limited windows of time make it challenging for marketers to cut through the clutter. It’s not appropriate for every show, but for a big launch Jumpstart suggests marketers challenge conventional thinking when revealing their latest products. Make a bold statement by staging a memorable off-site event or a dramatic on-site event—one that connects with human emotion (e.g. Daniel Craig’s drive through Midtown Manhattan earlier this year to reveal the Range Rover Sport) versus one that attempts to cram an hour’s worth of vehicle details into 30 minutes or less.

3) Remember your online followers.

Because auto show content generates traffic surges to Jumpstart’s portfolio of auto sites, the company’s experts say it’s important for marketers to remember a brand’s online followers—many of whom never attend the show—to create offline experiences that successfully translate online.

“Marketers should pay attention to how an ‘on-the-floor environment’ translates with online shoppers,” said Laura Schooling, chief marketing officer of Jumpstart. Are video clips of the unveiling readily available and worth watching? Are digital assets quickly accessible for online consumers eager to learn more? And can you use those assets in a media campaign to get more scale? Creating an offline experience that gels online is always the best approach.”

4) Turn online enthusiasts into influencers.

Nick Matarazzo, chief executive officer of Jumpstart, cites Ford’s 2011 Explorer reveal—an auto industry first performed exclusively and solely on Facebook—when demonstrating just how critical online enthusiasts are to influencing in-market car shoppers.

“Ford used videos, photos, and live chats between enthusiasts at Facebook and various Ford employees to generate hype about the Explorer months before it was available on dealer lots, to increase build-and- price app completion prospects. Matarazzo said. “This is an excellent example of how an automaker’s enthusiasts can become its greatest brand ambassadors among in-market car shoppers.”

5) Stay true to your brand.

Matarazzo also says that no matter the event, campaign, or collateral, marketers need to stay true to their brand.

“Stay focused on the core strengths of your product and create key takeaways that are on-point with who you are, that resonate both offline and online, and that last long after the show is over. The show may draw them in, but it’s the product that gets them to buy.”

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Pro Advice on Dirt Tires

Do you start a race with lower pressure in your tires, in hopes ofbuilding heat after a few laps? If so, will you experience excessivewear in the process and risk a failure? Understanding the tires’ roleand how to manipulate it to your advantage is critical to the setup andoverall performance of your race car. We spoke with Race Tires Americaand Shanon Rush and Craig Cowan of Hoosier Tire to find out the top tipson what every dirt track racer must know about dirt tires.


This tip may seem obvious, but a lack of attention to air pressure cansignificantly affect your race car’s performance. According to Cowan,air pressure significantly determines dirt tire characteristics.

“Because they are bias-constructed, air pressure determines the majorityof the spring rate within a tire. Therefore, it is imperative that tiresare treated just as any other part of the car setup,” he explains. “Toomuch air pressure generally makes the car loose off the corner, whiletoo little air pressure gives the car a tight feeling on entry. Unlikeasphalt tires, it is not as crucial to balance tread wear across theface of the tire with air pressure. Concentrate on using air pressure toaffect the behavior of the car, not the tread wear.”


The task of compound selection is complicated when you consider trackconditions and driver preference for a particular compound.

“This is by far the hardest part of tire management to master,” saysCowan. “Selecting the proper compound depends so much on reading theracetrack and knowing what your driver likes; it often takes years tofind the proper combination.”

According to Cowan, it’s smart to begin with the basics: one soft, onemedium, and one hard tire. When the track is greasy, wet, or cold, runthe soft tire. Switch to the medium tire when the moisture disappearsand gives way to dry, slick conditions. When the dust is gone, so is themedium tire, so bolt on the hard one. Once you have a handle on thethree types, check out the in-between compounds for certain clay typesor wear patterns. Most importantly, take good notes on your choices tomake the selection process easier the next time.

“When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the local tire dealer or trackchampion for their recommendations,” he adds.


This can be built into a bias-ply tire by adding air pressure andincreasing the circumference, which aids in turning the race car. Or,buy a tire set with a certain amount of stagger already built in.Hoosier Tire features a marking system that enables racers to choose,from a pile of tires, the stagger they need without mounting three orfour sets.

“The key is to remember that the marks are not what the tire willactually measure,” advises Cowan. “They are guidelines to assist inpicking the proper tires. As a general rule, right-side tires willrollout 2-21/4 inches smaller than the mark, while left-side tires willgo 3-31/4 inches below the mark size. Air pressure is the main factorthat determines how much size differential you see from the markedsize.”


This simple tip will have a significant impact on the amount of biteyour race car will get.

“A sharp edge is always more effective, no matter the track condition,”Cowan says. “Most of a tire’s traction capabilities come from leadingedges of blocks (tread) grabbing the track surface and pushing the carforward. If an edge is sharp, it bites harder. If not, the edge slipsand limits forward traction.”

He adds that to get fresh edges, grinding tires is a smart alternative,because it reduces loose rubber and dull edges that break contact withthe track. Another advantage is that it freshens the top layer of rubberon the tire, so it fires quicker on restarts.


This is an area in which you have to figure out what tirecharacteristics will benefit you the most, depending on your race car’ssetup.

“Our rib tire (only circumferential grooves are molded in) isconstructed softer than our LSB (Large Stagger Blocks molded in), so youalways know which tire you have,” explains Cowan. “We have found overthe years that softer tires make the car tighter through the middle ofthe corner while stiffer tires loosen the car at the same point.”


Tires, as tough as they may look, are quite sensitive to weatherchanges. Keep your tires out of direct sunlight and excessive moisture,as these may cause cracks in the sidewalls and ruin the tread compound.


Although choosing the right tire compound is important, the ability tomanipulate the tread pattern to suit your needs for a particular trackor set of conditions is just as crucial. When done correctly, groovingcan help you get better traction and allow your tires to dissipate heat,which allows you more control over tire temperatures. Cowan and dirtLate Model driver Scott Bloomquist compiled the following.

* Grooving Soft Tires: While not common in longer races, groovingsoft tires may be effective for qualifying or short heats on a wettrack. Softer tires are generally used on tracks that have a lot ofmoisture but not a lot of abrasion. Loose dirt can be cleaned off bycutting more grooves, which improves traction because of the increasednumber of edges available to dig into the track’s surface. To preventweakening the structure, only groove about halfway across the blocks ofa soft tire.

* Hard Tires: If you plan to run the high line or cushion andneed to move some dirt, grooving the tread shoulders is helpful. Grooveson the shoulders help clean off some of the loose dirt to get atmoisture beneath it. Siping the shoulders is recommended if you arerolling the tire under when running lower tire pressures on a slicksurface. The sipes can help prevent the shoulder area of the tire fromglazing over and losing traction.

* Groove Widths: On some tracks, you can groove the tires twiceas much with a narrow groove, or half as much with a wide groove, andaccomplish the same thing. It depends on the track surface and howabrasive it is, or if it contains rocks that will tear up the tire. Youdon’t want a lot of grooves on a rocky or highly abrasive track. Widergrooves stand up to these harsher conditions better.

* Groove Shapes: There are three basic shapes used in grooving:square, V, and sipes. Square grooves are the same width through itsentire depth. V grooves start out wide at the top and taper to nothingat their bottom. Sipes are thin slits cut by installing the blade upsidedown in the holder and using the separate ends of the blade to cutslices in the tire.

* Groove Angles: The angle at which grooves are cut determineshow much of the edges are exposed to the track when the car is invarious degrees of slide. The more the car will be sideways, the moreangle should be put into the grooves. As a dirt car travels around thetrack on a given line, the body is actually pointed toward the infieldin varying degrees. If the driver is consistent, you can determine anangle for the tire grooves that will work best for your combination.

* Grooves and Heat: Some tracks naturally put a lot of heat intoa tire and can actually cause the tire to melt or blister. On thesekinds of tracks, grooving helps cool the tire. The grooves (and sipes)help move air across the tire’s surface, which keeps the treadtemperatures down. Grooving also produces more surface area, which helpstransfer heat out of the tire to the air. To help a tire dissipate heatwithout weakening the tread blocks too much, cut grooves in the centerof each block instead of cutting all the way across it.


Race Tires America strongly discourages this practice as a method forreducing lap times.

They advise against: (1) chemical alteration of the tread carcass and ortread compound, such as tire “soaking;” (2) use of tread softener; or(3) the physical defacement (removing, altering, or covering) oftire-sidewall markings in any manner. Failure to comply with thiswarning could result in premature or catastrophic tire failure that mayresult in serious injury or death.

Tire manufacturers are obviously sensitive to the liability of thispractice, but certain products on the market claim to help you reduce afew tenths off your lap times by softening the compound of your tire.Some tracks and sanctions have outlawed “soaking,” while others stillallow it or turn a blind eye. While the practice of soaking tires iscommon, you should evaluate the level of risk you’re willing to endureto possibly pick up a few tenths versus the chance of an untimely tirefailure.

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The L.A. Auto Show Design Challenge

The purpose of the L.A. Auto Show Design Challenge is to highlight the innovation and imagination of automotive designers from around the world. The challenge is part of the L.A. Auto Show’s Design Los Angeles, a professional conference for automotive designers. It’s a chance for the people who literally shape what our cars look like to discuss challenges, share breakthroughs and generally strut their stuff.

The Mitsubishi MMR25

For the fifth design challenge, teams from Audi, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mistubishi, Toyota and Volkswagen submitted designs for the types of race cars they imagine competing in 2025. In some cases, the designers not only imagine a totally different type of car, but also a totally different type of car race.

Designers from Audi picture a car race with banks and tunnels that allow the cars to invert and pass someone by driving on the ceiling of a tunnel. Mazda’s team imagined a racing series for electric cars, while General Motors imagined an eco-triathlon racing series. Honda’s team stretched the limits of space, time and imagination by coming up with a race where competitors must circumnavigate the globe in 24 hours on land, air and sea — and they must do it all in the same vehicle. Volkswagen’s team imagined a fairly conventional Baja race track, but with the added rule that racers may only use 10 gallons (37.9 liters) of fuel to complete the entire course. Toyota didn’t change the rules of Le Mans racing, but imagined a car reaching speeds of 350 miles per hour (563.3 kilometers per hour) that can change shape for optimal handing and also uses virtual reality to help the driver stay on-track.

While the teams come from a diverse group of automakers, each company has a racing heritage. Mercedes-Benz has perhaps the deepest racing heritage of the group, having raced cars for most of the 20th century. But even smaller companies like Mitsubishi are well respected on the rally-car circuit, while cars from General Motors have long been staples on American stock car racing tracks.

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Engine Performance Warning Signs

When your vehicle experiences failure, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly from where the issue is stemming. The major systems in your vehicle generally exhibit unique warning signs which act of signs of failure. Whether the issue is stemming from your shocks or struts, electrical system, brakes or heating and cooling system, knowing what to look and listen for will help you get the issue resolved quickly and with the minimum amount of inconvenience.

As the performance of your engine starts to diminish, the system might exhibit warning signs that are unique. Understanding these signs will assist you in identifying when they occur and what to do when it happens. Remember that your engine is an extremely complicated system and, as such, requires preventative maintenance. Keep your engine properly tuned up for maximum performance.

Check Engine Light Activates

An activated check engine light is a powerful tool that is designed to inform you of potential engine trouble. This light generally illuminates when detecting engine issues stemming from loss of power. These issues range in type, severity and implications to your vehicle. If your check engine light activates, we recommend getting an engine diagnostic service to determine the issue.

If you do not have your own diagnostic equipment, your local Pep Boys offers a free code pull. If you know how to use an engine scanner, write down your fault code and bring it with you when you speak to your technician.

If your check engine light is flashing, we recommend stopping driving immediately and calling for a tow. A flashing light indicates that something potentially serious could be occurring within one of your vehicle’s systems. Stay on top of all of the systems in your vehicle by decoding your dashboard.

Loss of Power

Most gas-powered vehicles are designed with an internal combustion engine. These car engines use a four-stroke combustion cycle to convert gasoline into the power needed to make your vehicle move. The four strokes are the intake stroke, compression stroke, combustion stroke and exhaust stroke. The loss of power you are experiencing could be stemming from a hiccup from any one of these four steps (strokes) in the combustion process.

Gas Mileage Drop-off

If you notice the distance your gas tank takes you is not what it used to me, it could be an indication that there is an issue in the compression stroke of your engine. In this instance, using a fuel cleaner, or having a fuel system service performed, may clear up the issue. Depending on how long it has been, it might be worth considering a tune-up. If these two recommendations do not help the gas mileage front, having an engine diagnostic performed might provide you with the information and options you are looking for to correct the issue.

Noises Galore

Knocking, backfiring, hissing, spitting and popping are all sounds we do not want to hear when we start our vehicles. These noises can occur when there is an abnormality in the combustion flow. If you are hearing engine knocking, popping, spitting or your vehicle backfires, have it serviced ASAP.

Engine Stalling

Many of us who has learned to drive on a manual transmission understand the nature of an engine stall. For those who are unfamiliar, when the clutch pedal and gas pedal are not engaged at the right speed, your car will stop and require a restart – a most frustrating and embarrassing event… especially in traffic.

The frequency of stalling for an automatic transmission is far less common and generally serves as an implication that something is wrong with an engine component. This “wrong” can vary but is usually due to the intake stroke not receiving the right spark or air/fuel mixture. If your manual transmission is stalling (and that stall is not due to human error – don’t worry, it happens to the best of us) or your automatic transmission is stalling, have it seen by a professional as soon as possible. This stalling can lead to greater issues and the fix might be as simple as having a tune-up performed.


When the exhaust stroke of your internal combustion engine is starting to fail, it could give off a noxious odor from the exhaust. Much like the familiar sounds of imminent failure, this odor is a tip-off that your vehicle needs attention from a professional.

Engine Continues to Run after Ignition is Turned Off

This occurrence, also known as run-on and dieseling, is most common with high-performance vehicles and usually happens when the octane in the gas is incorrect. Other culprits could be a failing solenoid or an over-active carburetor. If this is happening with your vehicle, your local Speed Shop will have the answers you need to get your vehicle back to maximum performance.

Rough Running Engine

If your engine is running or idling rough the fix might be as simple as a tune-up. The most common cause of a rough running engine is clogs in the system or old spark plugs. Other issues could be an incorrect octane in the gasoline or a low battery.

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How to Become an Automotive Engineer

There is more than one path you can take to become an automotive engineer. Everyone thinks you need to get a degree in automotive engineering to get yourself right into an automotive job. While this is the focused path to becoming an automotive engineer, there are other, much more flexible ways that anyone can get themselves into an automotive career. Automotive engineering is a fast, competitive industry but the salary and indirect perks of the job can be very rewarding. If you are just starting out on your quest to get into the automotive industry, or are an engineer looking for an awesome change let us help you achieve your goal.  Here at Automotive Engineering HQ we will discuss a few different paths on how to become an automotive engineer. We have laid out the most common path below.

High School – the foundation:

Those growing up with automotive passion are probably figuring out how to become an automotive engineer around high school. In high school you must have a main focus on your science and math subjects. You don’t have to truly love math or physics to get into engineering, but you should have a basic knack for the scientific subjects. After all, these are what you will base your automotive knowledge on as you move on in your career. Keep in mind, good grades are a must to get into engineering school.

You should apply to a few engineering schools and take some time to visit and learn about their programs. Don’t think that you need to get into MIT or Harvard to get into automotive. Just make sure that the program you choose has a good reputation and accreditation in your engineering subject. Your objective should be to learn as much as you can, and you don’t need an Ivy league education to do that. Most of the engineers I have worked with went to medium-size private or state universities. Go to a school that you are comfortable with, and where you can learn the most.

High School tips for success:

  • Math is your foundation; physics is your focus. Learn as much as you can about these.
  • Ask your parents if they can teach you to change the oil on a car. This is a great beginner’s task and is a great way to gain familiarity with a vehicle. (If your parents don’t know how, just search for it online by the make and model of your vehicle; its easier than you think!
  • Start taking notes on all the details and mechanics that go into your car.
  • Watch Top Gear on BBC – This fun show gave me the love of cars that I have today – I promise you will like it.

College Education – your best asset:

High school is your foundation for these skills, but once you get to college these courses go into overdrive. An engineering degree is critical for becoming an automotive engineer (duh), but you should look and see which branch of engineering you want to go into. The most common degree for automotive is mechanical engineering. While it does not necessarily show you how to become an automotive engineer, this major will cover the basics of mechanics, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, and high level math. Your studies consist of how the physical world works and is great for anyone who wants to learn about mechanical systems. If you were that kid who always took things apart, or played constantly with Legos, this is the major for you.

CertainTeacher with students in mechanics working on bike Automotive Engineering Courses are very important for setting yourself up for a great career in automotive.However, you do not have to go the mechanical path to get into automotive. If you find you are better at another discipline, or that mechanics are not that interesting, definitely try another route. . Electrical, software, and chemical engineers are found throughout automotive engineering, and although fewer in number, they are a crucial presence in the field. Also, there are more specific disciplines like systems and materials engineering that can really get you into a great specialized job. These are highly sought after positions and are a great niche to get into. The good thing about

any of these engineering degrees is that you have your choice after college of entering any related field, not just automotive. (But trust me – Automotive is the best!)

Every field of engineering is very hard and will require a lot more work than your average degree. However the reward will most likely be a high paying job in a high demand field. There will be moments where you feel like you are trying to learn everything there is about the universe, but stick with it and you will be ahead of the game in the job market.

Focusing on your course work is important, but don’t stop there! Doing an extracurricular automotive activity will get you on the fast track to becoming an automotive engineer.  There are many programs out there such as Baha Club, automotive mechanics clubs, and many others. Some activities like the Supermilage Team, where students develop a car that gets over 1000 MPG, really get you noticed by the automotive community. Joining programs like this gives you a huge leg up when it comes to getting into an automotive career.

The other must-have piece of experience is an internship. You must focus on getting an engineering internship while you are still in college. An automotive engineering internship position will make you golden. Working as an intern in the automotive field shows that you have experienced what it is like in this industry, and that you have what it takes to make it as a full time engineer.

Tips for College:

  • Get good grades – should be obvious but the automotive world is very competitive.
  • Make sure to take electives that focus on design, tolerance, manufacturing and quality. Courses that focus on statistical process control are also critical.
  • Do at least one club focused on automotive – this will really help you later on.
  • Apply for automotive internships in college.
  • Think about what you can do in college that would be great to talk about during an interview – another reason the clubs are important.
  • Check out our guide on the 5 most important college experiences for future automotive engineers.

Getting your masters (optional):

If you have your bachelor’s and know you want to get deep into automotive, one option is to go out an get your master’s. Here you should focus solely on Automotive Engineering or a direct interest of yours, like acoustics or materials. There are very good Automotive Engineering Schools all over the US. An automotive masters degree is almost a guarantee that you will be able to land a great job after school!

Landing the Job

automotive engineer looking at repairing toolsIf you want to become an automotive engineer and are a recent graduate, entry level engineer or in another engineering field altogether, you are already on your way.   There are several things you can begin to focus on now that you have your foundation established.

For recent grads and entry level engineers, you should begin to apply to positions within the automotive industry. What you apply to should be up to the quality of education and grades that you received. I can tell you from experience, applying directly to an OEM is very difficult.  It may only result in a contract position initially since you have no work experience. However, these contract positions are huge resume builders and usually result in getting a great position afterword, either at the OEM or at a supplier.  Another good path is to apply to  a tier 1-3 supplier job to build experience in the industry. There is a large work culture difference between a large automotive company and a smaller supplier and you may find that you like the automotive supplier job better (like me!).

For where to apply, sites like Indeed and Monster are good routes. However, to get faster results, it is wise to see how each company does their hiring. Many automotive companies use recruiting firms to do their hiring. These recruiters act as gate keepers for the internal HR departments. Do some research and find out who does the hiring, and then apply directly to the recruiter. This will help your name get in faster, and will help you build a relationship with an automotive recruiting company. These recruiting firms usually have several different automotive companies as clients.  Even if you do not get the job, you will now be in their database and be considered for other opportunities in the future.

If you are looking for what to put on your resume, sign up for my email list to receive our free guide – 5 Things You MUST Include in Your Automotive Engineering Resume.

If you are in a different field of engineering, you may already have the necessary experience to translate into the automotive world. I am often asked how I got into automotive engineering. For me, it was not a direct focused path but a series of small decisions I made along the way that got me into the field. I went to school for mechanical engineering and did a basic path. When I got out of school, I didn’t start right away with an automotive job. I actually started the electrified rail industry. However, it was here that I realized I wanted to join a more dynamic field and automotive was always my interest. Even if you absolutely want automotive, it is okay to take a job in any industry to find out what you like an what you are good at. The key is focusing on the skills in college or your entry level position that will translate well into automotive.

Tips for landing your first job in automotive engineering:

  • Apply, Apply, Apply – Focus on automotive suppliers and OEM positions and see what opportunities are out there.
  • Focus on the  skill set that can be applied to getting a job as a Design Engineer, Quality Engineer, or Manufacturing Engineer.
  • Research the the companies and see if they use an HR recruiter.
  • Apply to a position directly through the recruiter to be more effective, and build a relationship with these firms.
  • Learn the most important Automotive Engineering Terminology.
  • If you are in another engineering field, look for skills and projects that translate well into automotive.
  • Make sure your resume is well written and has good related experience.

Be sure to keep checking back into this site for more information on how to become an automotive engineer. We also have great inside information on the automotive industry and how to thrive when you get in. Good luck!

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11 Easy Steps To Design A “Concept” Car

Concept cars, once used by designers to hint at the distant future, are now used mostly by carmakers to preview cars already designed. In order to generate more news coverage most companies “disguise” the final model with a few predictable alterations to make the “concept” seem futuristic. As a PSA for automakers, here’s eleven steps to follow to turn your new model into a “concept car.”

11.) Feature Hand-Cut Tires On Giant Wheels

11 Easy Steps To Design A "Concept" Car

As evidenced by the production Honda Insight, production cars and concept cars roll in majorly different ways. Concept cars get gigantic, futuristic-looking wheels on slick hand-cut tires which, by comparison, make the production versions look like they’re driving around on steel donuts.

10.) Give It Super-Tinted Glass

11 Easy Steps To Design A "Concept" Car

Whether it’s because they want to obscure what’s going on inside or because it just looks cool, you’ll find few concept cars without darkly tinted windows. In some cases, as with the Soueast X1 Hybrid GT, it obscures the fact that the car has no interior.

9.) Place LED Lights Everywhere

11 Easy Steps To Design A "Concept" Car

LED lights are awesome but, in most cases, they end up being relegated to service at the rear of production versions of the car (except for everything from Audi). The Honda Insight Concept was nothing but LED lights, which were dropped for the 2010 Honda Insight production version because those things are seriously expensive.

8.) Add Futuristic Doors

11 Easy Steps To Design A "Concept" Car

No one in the future will ever open a door by using a handle. Either you press a tiny button (as with the Insight) and the door opens itself or you think about it and the door leans forward in some sort of Gullwing-scissor door combination. Or, as with the Land Rover LRX Concept, you just don’t put any door handles on at all.

7.) Don’t Forget The Obnoxiously Expensive Paint Job

11 Easy Steps To Design A "Concept" Car

When cars go into production you get mostly basic choices like red, black, blue, sliver, green or white. Rarely do these colors end up on a concept car. You’ve got your electric blues, magical greens and lacquered creams. Volvo, for some reason, always paints cars like a surf rescue vehicle because the Germans love Baywatch.

6.) Make Sure You Have Overly-involved Apple Product Integration

11 Easy Steps To Design A "Concept" Car

Apple products, like the iPhone and iPod, are the measure by which all modern design is measured. They’re also considered “cool” by almost everyone. Therefore, every concept has to work in conjunction with an iPod. The LRX uses one as a smart key. The Hummer HX records your off-road videos and downloads them to an iPhone. In the case of the Volt, the entire command console looks like an iPod.

5.) Design Impossible Seating

11 Easy Steps To Design A "Concept" Car

No one in the future will have legs or working spines, at least if you’re to believe concept cars. The seats are slung impossibly low and the back seats fit together in ways even Cirque Du Solei performers would find uncomfortable.

4.) Throw In A Whimsical Steering Wheel

11 Easy Steps To Design A "Concept" Car

Look at a concept car steering wheel and you’ll wonder if the government hasn’t repealed the airbag requirement on new cars. Though most follow the standard three-spoke design, these futuristic wheels are made of leather, metal and typically clean and smooth even though the production version will almost certainly be black and covered with buttons.

3.) Do Something Strange To The Roof

11 Easy Steps To Design A "Concept" Car

The high-angle, three-quarter perspective is the one typically used for news articles and press shots. Why not throw on a panaromic glass roof? It worked for the Ford Verve. In the case of the Maybach 62 design study they just removed the roof outright.

2.) Use Expensive Materials

11 Easy Steps To Design A "Concept" Car

Concept vehilces, especially for premium automakers, are designed to encourage buyers to see themselves in the brand’s luxurious appointments. For the Lincoln MKT Concept, this means a dash inspired by Swarovski crystal. For the Nissan above, it means headlights that look like Jewels. For the ConceptFASCINATION from Mercedes, that means actual crystal glasses and a jewel-encrusted humidor. Fancy!

1.) Surround It With Models

11 Easy Steps To Design A "Concept" Car

Designers and marketers understand that sticking a pretty piece of flesh in front of a not-so-attractive piece of metal is an easy way to draw attention to your car. If it’s an expensive luxury car put a woman in a gown in front of it. If it’s an exotic sports car make sure she’s wearing a cocktail dress. If the concept is hip and urban make sure the model looks like she’d give you the clap.

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What are Real Advantages You can Get from Our Car Design and Car Engineering Design?

What are the real advantages you can get when you have car design and car engineering design from us? The benefits you obtain when you have our design involve: you will get free design from us for evaluation; you can return the design we have already sent; you can independently develop the design we have already sent; you can ask us to develop the design we have sent to you; you can apply the patent for the design you have been purchased with the settlement; payment can be made in cash or several terms.

It is known that car design is a creative work from time to time. But, it is not for the design of car engineering. Engineering design of the car can be creative or mathematical. Car engineering design we make is a creative work. Creative design is an unique work. Products of one and other designers always have differences, even for the similar problem.

Creative design can also be referred as a finding. The finding is also considered as the product of intellectual work. There are various methods used to perform intellectual work transaction. However, in principal, an agreement should be made between the designer or inventor with customers’, either directly or through third parties.

How to have a design from us? We design our products based on our own initiatives and customers’ orders. How to get the design that we make based on our own initiative is different from the way of obtaining design based on customers’ orders. The difference lies in the problems that enable us able to produce the designs, who is entitled to have the designs we produce and how to decide the total cost.

To get a design that we make based on our own initiatives, we try to find the problems for our design. Who is entitled to have the designs we produce and the total cost is decided through an auction process. One with the highest offer will be the best bidder that is entitled to have our design, and the price offered is considered as the total cost.

To obtain designs based on customers’ orders, the problems that allows us to design derives from the customers. Who is entitled to have the design we produce is one who has given us with problems to solve. However, if the design product we produce is not accepted, we entitle the product we have made. Total cost will be under agreement between the customers and us.

In addition to the problem, who is entitled to have the designs we produce and how to decide the total cost, there are still other procedures that we have set to obtain our designs. We called it as the evaluation and development period. During the evaluation and development period, customers are able to perform evaluation, research, return, develop or to ask us to perform development of the design that we have already sent. The period of evaluation and development reflects our high responsibility of not leaving as is where is the designs we have already sent.

Besides the procedures already mentioned, we still have financing procedures. The financing procedure consists of three types, namely advance payment, evaluation and development cost, and total cost.

We can send our design for free to you for evaluation purpose with special terms and conditions. Such special terms and condition can be seen on the page of how to get free car engineering design for evaluation purpose.

You can get free design from us for evaluation purpose. More than that, other fees will be charged. Advance payment is required to make us able to send approval on design that we created for evaluation, research, development, asking us to develop the design we have already sent for one month.

During the evaluation and development period, customers can perform evaluation, research, return, development or ask us to develop the design we have sent. Evaluation and development costs are required to make customers can perform evaluation, research, return, development or ask us to develop the design we have already sent for more than a month.

Who will become the patent owner of our design? The customers are entitled to apply patent for the design obtained from us provided the customers have already sent us the payment for all costs incurred. Therefore, the customers will hold full control of the designs fully paid. We are simply referred as a designer or inventor in terms of matters related to patent.

When customers prefer to make cash payment, of course, the customers will only make a single payment for the total cost. After payment is made, customers have full authority on the design paid. Customers are able to perform evaluation, research, development, to ask us to perform development and patent application for the design paid.

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Common Myths Among Young Drivers

Young drivers often become the victims of myths — from bad maintenance advice to mistaken safety tips. Here are eight common misconceptions among young drivers and what to do instead. To you older drivers: No one’s watching, so feel free to take a peek.


Myth No. 1: Change your oil every 3,000 miles. Various service stations advertised the 3,000-mile oil change for years, making believers of many of us. While it doesn’t hurt to change the oil that often, it’s a waste of money in most cases.

Modern vehicles generally recommend an oil change every 7,500 miles — more than twice the distance those service station ads warn you about. One type of synthetic oil even claims to last as long as 15,000 miles, though that’s probably stretching it. The best advice is to follow the recommended schedule in your car’s owner’s manual. If you often tow trailers or drive in stop-and-go traffic or extreme weather conditions, then change the oil more frequently.

Myth No. 2: Vehicles that require regular fuel benefit from a tank of premium gasoline once in a while. Years ago, leaded gas and high-compression engines demanded the occasional tank of premium gas, which included detergents to clean out fuel injectors. Today, the EPA requires detergents in every grade of gas. Stick with your vehicle’s recommended octane level and you’re sure to get the adequate detergents to keep your fuel system clean; 87, 89 and 92 correspond to regular, midgrade and premium gas, respectively.

Some gas companies put extra detergents in their premium grade, which might warrant an experimental tank or two to determine whether there’s improved performance. Many premium-grade “improvements” are just marketing gimmicks, so do your research. Before experimenting, ask yourself if you really need premium gas. Has your engine’s performance significantly deteriorated? A tank of premium might seem necessary, but realize you might be masking a more serious problem. It’s often best to follow your owner’s manual.

Myth No. 3: Keep your dashboard and tires shiny by frequently wiping them with protectant compounds. Dashboards gather dust and tires lose their shine; it’s inevitable with use. Frequent use of various protectant compounds available to consumers, however, can actually do more harm than good. Many dashboard cleaners leave a shiny glare and slippery surface, which are hardly the results you want.

Although various compounds can restore a glossy black appearance to your tires, they may strip the rubber of important protectants.

Although various compounds can restore a glossy black appearance to your tires, they may strip the rubber of important protectants.

Some experts even say these treatments cause the dashboard material to dry out or age faster. Also, tires become discolored as a side effect of their built-in chemicals — the waxes and antioxidants that form a protective coating against airborne elements. Aftermarket shiners can restore a tire’s color, but they strip the tire of its original protectants. The result? Over time, cracks form in the rubber. As an alternative, use mild soap and water with a good brush on the tires. We suggest simply wiping down the dashboard with a wet cloth; there’s no need for chemicals.


Myth No. 4: It’s best to drive cars with automatic transmissions around town in “3” — or in “D” with the overdrive button off — and save “D” for the highway. The original idea was that drivers needed to lock out the highest gear for more responsive performance in stop-and-go driving. Most modern vehicles employ transmissions that are quick to kick down into a lower gear, so driving without the topmost gear around town only lowers gas mileage.

Shifting into Neutral at stoplights does minimal benefit for your vehicle. In fact, it may actually cause harm over time.

Shifting into Neutral at stoplights does minimal benefit for your vehicle. In fact, it may actually cause harm over time.

Myth No. 5: It’s best to shift an automatic transmission into Neutral at red lights. This myth stems from the idea that keeping the transmission in Drive while stepping on the brake wastes fuel and causes unnecessary wear on the driveline. In fact, actual engine wear and fuel loss are minimal.

Regularly shifting from Neutral and back into Drive when the light turns green, then immediately stepping on the gas, can wear — albeit slightly — on the transmission, driveline and engine mounts. Ultimately, these stoplight antics probably won’t amount to any measurable harm or good; they’re likely just a habit by folks who need to keep their hand busy with the gear selector. Our advice? Get a stick shift.


Myth No. 5: Talking on a hands-free headset while driving is a safe alternative to holding a cellphone. We’re not going to debate the lesser of two evils. Here are the facts: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that one in 12 18- to 24-year-olds on the road at any given time is also on a cellphone. One-quarter of all police-reported accidents are caused by driver distraction, and cellphones play a significant role. The culprit isn’t holding a cellphone or one-armed driving; it’s taking your mind off the task at hand: safely piloting 3,000 pounds of steel to your intended destination. A headset does nothing to mitigate this; pull over or put it away. Enough said

Most modern vehicles have shoulder belts for all three backseat occupants. Getting people to use them, however, is a different story.

Most modern vehicles have shoulder belts for all three backseat occupants. Getting people to use them, however, is a different story.

Myth No. 6: You don’t have to wear a seat belt when you’re sitting in the backseat. Few people explicitly advocate this, but actions speak louder than words: Fewer than half of all rear-seat passengers wear seat belts, compared with the 80 percent average for all vehicle occupants, according to NHTSA. There are two risks that unbelted backseat passengers can incur: First, they’re unable to take full advantage of the vehicle’s safety features, and accidents — especially rollovers — put them at high risk. Second, they become projectiles toward others during the collision, increasing the likelihood of injury among their fellow occupants.

Besides deterring carjackers, locked doors add a protective measure against occupant ejection during a collision.

Besides deterring carjackers, locked doors add a protective measure against occupant ejection during a collision.

Myth No. 7: Keep your doors unlocked so rescuers can get you out after an accident. This seems reasonable, right? No. Unlocked doors are more likely to open during a collision and allow occupant ejection — and ejections kill 10,000 people each year. The doors in many modern vehicles automatically unlock following airbag deployment, and even if they remain locked, rescuers can break the windows to get to passengers. This is a far better prospect than tracking down victims ejected during the impact.

Myth No. 8: For maximum airbag protection, reposition everything. This sounds vague, doesn’t it? That’s because it isn’t actually a tip, but rather a collection of them. It seems everyone has advice: Aim the steering wheel at your head. Aim it at your chest. Sit close to the wheel so you pay better attention to the road. Sit far away for more room in a collision.

Let’s set the record straight: NHTSA advises that the steering wheel should be aimed at your breastbone, positioned at least 10 inches away and tilted away from your head. But watch out, as a low-slung wheel prompts one-armed driving with the hand draped over the top of the wheel; in a collision, the airbag can shatter that arm from below. Remember to keep your hands on the wheel at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions, with the seatback upright and the wheel 10 inches from your chest. It might not be comfortable at first, but you’ll get used to it — and some day it could save your life.

Car Insurance Money-Saving Tips

Auto insurance can be a major cost for motorists who already face high fuel prices, paying for regular MOTs and services and of course covering the cost of the vehicle they drive each day.

If you’re looking to find cheaper auto insurance, try these tips for lowering your car insurance costs.

1. Compare car insurance online

Shopping around for auto insurance is often a simple but effective way to reduce the price you pay for cover. Insurance companies rarely offer their very best deals to existing customers, instead reserving their cheapest possible prices for new customers. Use our car insurance comparison tool to see how much you could save by switching insurers. Just remember to make sure you are comparing like for like cover, with voluntary excesses set at the same level and including any extras that you’d usually add on.

2. Increase your excess

Opting for a higher voluntary excess when setting up your car insurance cover is another way to reduce your premium. As a general rule of thumb, the higher your excess, the lower your premium – so experiment using our car insurance comparison tool to see how much difference an increased excess could make to your annual auto insurance costs. Remember, though, that you must be able to afford your voluntary excess. If you need to make an insurance claim, you’ll be required to stump it up before your insurer will pay out.

3. Go no-frills

Think carefully before adding extras, such as legal expenses cover, windscreen cover or use of a courtesy car to your car insurance package. While insurance companies are often enthusiastic about their value and they might come in handy, they are not strictly necessary – and including too many add-ons could significantly bump up the price of your policy.

4. Think about the distance you drive

Before buying car insurance, think carefully about how far you really drive in your vehicle each year. If it’s possible for you to agree to a lower annual mileage cap than you did last time you bought insurance, it’s possible you’ll save money. This is an especially helpful tip for two car families, where one vehicle is likely to do more miles in a year than the other – but where this sometimes isn’t obvious until both cars’ odometers are checked.

5. Don’t pay by direct debit

While spreading the cost of your auto insurance might feel less painful than paying for your premium in one go, it will probably cost you more in the long run. Many insurance companies charge interest when customers opt to pay for their insurance monthly, so check before you sign on the dotted line. If your insurer’s policy is to charge interest but you would like to spread the cost of your cover for free, you could consider using a 0% purchase credit card to pay for it – just be sure to clear your balance in full before the 0% period ends.

Tips for Choosing Auto Parts Online

Quite a few car repairs don’t actually require a visit to your mechanic. You can find automotive parts and accessories online to get the job done yourself, for less. You can find a lot of great deals on garage and automotive accessories online because online stores have fewer overhead costs than brick and mortar stores. Before you start searching for auto parts online, check out a few of these quick tips for finding and choosing car parts online.

Happy customers riding in style with auto parts from

Selecting Automotive Parts:

  1.  Know your year, make and model. You may need to know more than just the year and model of your vehicle. Each model may have several versions, which may have a majority of their automotive parts in common, but not all. Auto parts associated with nonstandard features might be included in one version, but not another. You can find information in your user manual about your car’s automotive parts and systems.
  2.  Learn some auto terminology. You can avoid wasted time and costly mistakes by knowing not just the name of the automotive parts that you need, but what they do and how they work with the rest of your vehicle. Write down and look up names of automotive parts and terms that you aren’t familiar with. The more information you have, the better.
  3.  Save with generic auto parts. You don’t always need to purchase automotive parts from the original manufacturer. There are a lot of other companies producing compatible auto parts for your vehicle. Price isn’t everything, however. Be sure to check the construction materials and see if you can get a warranty for any automotive parts you buy online.
  4.  Not all parts may be available. In the first two or so years of a car’s life, certain automotive parts may only be available through a dealership. The car parts simply haven’t been made available on the aftermarket yet, so the dealer may be your only option.
  5.  Check the specifications. Automotive parts are very specific. If you order the wrong part, it may be for the wrong car model, have the wrong voltage or simply not fit in your vehicle. Check your user manual for exact names, terms and part numbers before you drop that automotive part in your shopping cart.

4 Tips on Online Automotive Mobile Marketing

What is your Online Automotive Mobile Marketing strategy for your car dealership? Do you even have one? You better, otherwise you are going to be left behind in the dust.

Tablet and smartphone use is literally dominating the scene and continously gaining grounds as a major access point to information and entertainment. However, for many dealers, the world of online automotive marketing is challenging enough without even thinking about the mobile side of the spectrum. We are going to give you a turbo boost with these four tips on how to win the automotive online mobile marketing race.

1. You must have a mobile responsive website and/or app. 
Your website needs to look great from mobile devices, no exceptions. Mobile responsive simply means that your car dealership website looks the same when viewing it from any device, tablet, smartphone, laptop or desktop PC.

To achieve this, you can have a separate website created that matches the design of your traditional site or you can have your traditional site built responsively – which means it automatically resizes according to the device used to view the site. No matter which option or a combination of these options, navigation from mobile devices needs to be smooth and simple with ”click to call” button, easy-to-locate directions to your dealership,  and easy-to-use inventory search.

Are you interested in really getting ahead in the competition? If so, consider adding a an application for your visitors. The more functionalities the better. You can give buyers the option of paying online, setting up test drive appointments, service appointment scheduling, coupons or offers and more. It is important to keep in mind that if you decide to build an app, you must consider the costs of programmers to build an app that works with Android, iPhone and Microsoft operating systems.

online mobile automotive marketing

2. Keep up on the competition. If you want to stay ahead in the race, you need to pay attention to what the competition is doing. Want to hear some of the latest trends your competition is already hip to? Let’s review.

  • Purchasing Adwords and strategically using other paid ad campaigns with Yahoo, Google and other networks.
  • Providing cell phone numbers and giving shoppers the option to text your dealership or sales associate for a more immediate response. More than 68% of online users use text messaging regularly.
  • Using paid ads on social media platforms with a specific vehicle or model you are advertising and not just a generic vehicle ad.
  • Promoting specific sales events and featuring a ”call to action” back to the site.

3. Use analytics to track mobile users. Measure your mobile conversions by taking an in-depth look at which mobile users generated a lead, took a deeper look into your site or made a purchase with your company.

You can also track how many users use the ”click to call” feature or the text feature on your mobile site. Probably the most popular option to track this data is Goole Analytics, but some companies also use Clicky Web Analytics or the free W3 Counter Analytics.

4. Take advantage of social media platforms. Social media websites are some of the most popular areas mobile users spend their time surfing. In fact, according to Automotive Digital Marketing, 154 million Americans are active monthly on social media websites. You need to be targeting these users with your car dealerships’ social media accounts.

Study each individual platform and post the appropriate content in the form of videos, posts, articles and more. Use your social media accounts to establish yourself as an expert by posting maintanence and service tips, car buying advice, and vehicle information.

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12 Tips for a Safer Race Shop

Maintaining a safe race shop is an issue at all levels of racing, from the weekend racer competing as a hobby to the top professionals whose lives revolve around having a safe work environment.

Stock Car Racing spoke with a pair of shop foremen from the ranks of NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series—Wood Brothers Racing’s Randy Merriman and Ganassi Racing’s Roger Mears—who offered their input on maintaining a safe shop.

“Most of it is common sense, just basic common sense and paying attention,” says Merriman, shop foreman for the No. 21 Ford of Elliott Sadler. “If you’ve got people who don’t pay attention, that’s when you have accidents.”

Not paying attention can also foster two common workplace traits—negligence and complacency—which can be two of the worst enemies a racer or shop employee can have.

“It’s just so easy to get in the habit—the bad habit—of picking up hand tools and neglecting safety issues, like small grinders and drills and these kind of things we use on a daily basis, even welders,” says Mears, shop foreman for the No. 40 Dodge of driver Sterling Marlin and the No. 01 Dodge of Jason Leffler. “I see welders a lot of times grab up the stingers and weld a few shots with their eyes closed, just because they’re in a hurry.”

Mears says experience has taught him some simple lessons in safety.

“I was a local racer in Bakersfield, California, for years and years, so I know from coming up that I did a lot of things that you shouldn’t do,” Mears says. “And it’s things that come with age and experience where you finally figure out just a few seconds of preventive maintenance could make a difference with your whole life, of losing an eye, of having a fire and getting burned seriously. It’s not worth it. That’s what the local race guys, the new guys starting up, a lot of times have to learn the hard way. You just hope they don’t have to.”

Hear are some tips offered by Mears and Merriman:

1. Eyewear

“First and foremost, the thing we really stay on top of is the eyewear, especially in the fabrication area of the shop with all the cutting and grinding and working with grinding materials and things,” says Mears. “That’s where we really focus on the face shields and the eye protection. Guys tend to get in a hurry and not want to throw their safety goggles on. That’s probably one of the biggest issues that seems to be ongoing and one that we have to stay on top of these guys about.”

Merriman calls the use of safety goggles his top reminder to co-workers. “I stay on them pretty hard about that.”

2. Fire extinguishers

Merriman has one purchase at the top of his priority list in setting up a race shop.

“First thing (a local racer) needs to buy is fire extinguishers,” he says. “That’s the first and foremost thing he’s got to have, proper fire equipment to put a fire out in case you catch anything on fire. Then make sure your fire equipment is up-to-date and kept up-to-date, which we do. We also have our fire extinguishers properly marked.”

3. Fire prevention

“One thing we do is make sure we don’t get any sparks in the race car,” Mears says. “When the cars come back from the race we make sure all the lines—oil lines and fuel lines and plumbing and seat covers and anything that’s flammable or that sparks could hurt—is taken out of the cars before they go back to the departments to be turned around for the next race.”

4. Proper attire

Gloves are also a significant part of accident prevention. Well-protected hands can mean the difference between consistently having minor hand injuries and having virtually no hand injuries.

“Gloves get worn out a lot in our shop,” Merriman says.

5. Secure welding area

OSHA inspects welding areas to make certain they’re kept safe and secure, free of flammable materials and mislabeled containers.

“You don’t want a 55-gallon drum of gas sitting there beside you while you’re welding tailpipes together,” says Merriman. “Another thing OSHA is big on is spray-paint-can lids. They always want a lid kept on spray cans.”

6. Proper disposal system

A disposal system for waste products is a must in a race shop. “If you’re building a car from the ground up, you’re going to need everything there to do the job from the ground up, which would mean generating paint residue and stuff like that,” says Merriman. “You need to have all that taken care of. You just don’t throw it out in the environment any more. You can’t do that. Plus your oils and gases, you’ve got to have some way to dispose of those properly. And while you have them there, you have to have something that they can stay contained in, containers that are properly labeled.”

7. Cleanliness

Having a clean race shop and having a safe race shop go hand-in-hand.

“Cleanliness is something we work really hard for,” says Mears. “We believe in promoting cleanliness and that the cleaner you keep things the better job you’ll do. Clean floors means keeping oil and liquids off the floor, things you could step on and slip and fall on. By the floors being painted and clean, you can always tell what’s on the floor and keep it clean that way. You should also keep things picked up so you don’t fall on them.”

8. Communication

Simply letting shop employees know basic rules of safety or giving them periodic refreshers is a key to having a safe work environment. This can be accomplished with scheduled safety meetings.

“We also send out memos and reminder fliers once in a while, especially about wearing goggles,” Mears says.

Verbal communication on site is a key as well.

“I try to keep a close eye on everything and make sure we have no problems. I make them aware of their problems if I see somebody that’s not paying enough attention,” Merriman says.

9. No distractions

A distracted worker is one prone to make mistakes, so shop etiquette should be maintained at all times.

“In the machine shop we’re really careful about not walking up and talking to someone while they’re running a piece of equipment,” says Mears. “We’re always reminding these guys to always wait until a guy is finished or steps back from a machine before you walk up and say something to them.”

10. No horseplay

One of the most basic rules to be observed in a race shop is one straight from grammar school.

“No horseplay,” says Mears, “because every piece of equipment you’re running in here is really serious, especially around the mills and lathes and drill presses and that kind of stuff.”

11. Jackstands—always

“When working on a race car, we never, ever let anybody under a car without the jackstands under them,” Mears says. “That’s a big, big rule, that jackstands are in place—all four of them—before you let anybody underneath the car. We don’t let them cheat either by just raising up one end to get under there real quick to do something without jackstands. That’s a have-to situation.”

12. Proper ventilation

Another basic rule is to be careful with the air you breathe.

“Of course, in the paint booth where we have a lot of chemicals and on the wash rack, we also have safety issues in those places,” Mears says. “It’s the same issue with clean-up. Then we make sure they wear ventilators and masks for any of the painting and around the heavy bondo, where you have bondo dust. In the wash rack we also have harsh chemicals for cleaning, so they use ventilator masks there also, and goggles.”

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Race Driving Techniques

It is very easy to get caught up in the showmanship and prestige of expensive parts for your car, but the best investment you’ll ever make in road racing is the time you spend tuning your driving skills.

In this section, our goal is to introduce you to many of the basic driving techniques used in race car driving. There are numerous details to be conscious of while racing on a track, and it will be difficult and overwhelming to remember them all the first few times out. Focus on one or two techniques each time you go out on the track. As each technique becomes second-nature, you can work on a new one. After you have studied each of the techniques, how best to go about practicing them is covered in the next tab section Practice Sessions.

No matter how much country- or mountain-road hot rodding you may have done, or how good a driver you think you are, driving on a race track is an entirely new level of driving that requires very specific skills if you want to be good at it. Good drivers, like all good athletes, have a natural skill, and yet are also smart and/or humble enough to know that there are known techniques they must practice if they are to be proficient. Even if you have natural talent, don’t make the mistake of thinking all you need is a better car to improve your performance. Your driving skills can always be improved. Even the Gordon’s, Andretti’s, and Schumacher’s of the pro-driving world continually analyse their driving so they can improve.

Many of the race driving techniques explained here can be practiced on the street, others simply cannot be. Where appropriate (meaning safe and useful), we will point out how to practice these skills during everyday street driving. As with any skill, “knowing” what to do is not the same as “doing” it. Practice, practice, practice. Time in the car, on the track, repetitively performing these techniques is the only thing that will make you good at using them. Often you’ll find yourself thinking you’re doing something right, only to recognize several months later, that you could do it even better.

Because there are so many things to rememeber and practice, be sure to read these sections often–you will forget a lot of its content.

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Service Repair Maintenance Tips

Follow the helpful tips below to maximize the life of your car or truck.

  • Today’s cars are controlled by on-board computers, complicated ignition and fuel injection systems. Have a Pep Boys technician perform a diagnostic service to ensure all systems are “go”.
  • Quick starts use more fuel than smooth, steady acceleration. Adjust your style and you’ll save gas.
  • Dirty air filters can cause your engine to run at less than peak efficiency. It’s easy to spot a dirty air filter, and the replacement cost is minimal.
  • If there is an external cooling system leak, tighten, repair or replace leaking parts. A pressure test can determine if and where a leak exists.
  • Tune up an engine that is not running perfectly and it will help start your car during the winter. Have any problems diagnosed and repaired before the onset of colder weather.
  • Check your car’s heating system. Carefully check the radiator for leaks and debris. Also, check the radiator and heater hoses, and replace any that are worn, cracked, brittle or mushy.
  • Take time to locate your fuse box, and have a slit handy of the circuits each fuse protects. Make sure you have spare fuses for all amperage ratings.
  • Oil is our car’s lifeblood, and winter is especially hard on your engine oil. Make sure you change your oil and use the correct weight for you car and climate. This will aid in starting.
  • Top off your windshield fluid regularly. You’d be surprised how much you use in the winter and early spring.
  • Tune up an engine that is not running perfectly and it will help start your car. Have any problems diagnosed and repaired.
  • Check and top off fluid levels in your transmission, master cylinder, clutch cylinder and washer solvent reservoir. Give the oil a quick check, change it and install a filter according to the manufacturer’s recommended interval.
  • Gas treatment may boost the cleaning performance of your gasoline. A complete fuel system cleaning can help restore peak engine performance.
  • A complete fuel system cleaning can help remove deposits throughout the entire fuel system including fuel injectors, intake valves and combustion chambers.
  • May is a good month to take a close look at your tires in preparation for upcoming summer travel. Check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s proper interval and rotation sequence.
  • Do your brakes feel as sure as they did when they were new? Brakes should be inspected at least twice a year. The best times are just before summer and winter to prevent problems in extreme temperatures. Pep Boys provides free brake inspections.
  • Replace the coolant in your cooling system every 30,000 miles or according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation. Replace the coolant with the proper proportion of water and coolant when low. (50/50 mix.)
  • Oil additives work to protect your car’s engine. A quality oil treatment helps to protect against engine wear and reduces oil consumption.
  • Engine coolant protects a vehicle’s cooling system from temperature extremes and helps prevent the radiator form overheating during hot weather, or from freezing during cold weather.
  • Check your automatic transmission fluid. It protects against transmission breakdown and contains additives that prevent corrosion system wear and oxidation.
  • Engine oil should always be change according to manufacturer’s recommended intervals. Understand what “Severe Service” means. Your intervals could be shorter.
  • Oil that does not have a “W” in its thickness rating might make the engine crank too slow to start. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended thickness for the coldest temperature expected in your region.
  • Windshield wiper blades should be capable of completely clearing the windshield in three passes. Replace the blades if cleaning the edge of the blade does not help.

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5 Tips For Tackling Your First Big Car Repair

Instead of paying a mechanic to mend my Miata, I decided to try replacing the engine myself. I did it—eventually—though I made plenty of rookie mistakes on the way. Here’s what I learned.

Do Your Research

Aftermarket shop manuals are great for learning the tools and parts you’ll need, but they sometimes read like a general overview (step one: remove radiator, front bumper, and windshield washer reservoir). Internet forums can offer detailed instructions and tricks specific to your car, usually with step-by-step photos. Unless you drive something really outlandish, there’s probably a site like VWvortex or JeepsUnlimited to help you. But don’t forget that Web forums, while helpful, are just Web forums. Get a factory service manual from your manufacturer if you’re diving deep into a big repair.

Set Up Your Workspace

I started my teardown in the corner of my parents’ two-car garage. I got all set to pull the engine when I discovered I had no room to maneuver my engine hoist. Even with two muscular brothers, moving a half-disassembled car was a masochist’s game of Tetris. So don’t make my mistake: Clear plenty of space before you start the job, and position your car for maximum elbow room. I found the best spot was right in the center of the garage, though not everyone in my family shared this view.

Expect It to Take Time

The first time doing a repair always takes the longest. Tinkering on nights and weekends, my adventure lasted nearly a month, far beyond what I’d anticipated. There were lots of trips for parts, tools, and advice, and times when sheer frustration halted my progress. Make alternative transportation plans before taking your car out of commission so you don’t get fired when your Saturday project is still in pieces on Monday morning.

Take Pictures, Make Notes, Label Everything

When you’re on step two of a big job, it’s tempting to think you’ll remember which bolt goes where, but by step 14 you’ll have a plethora of fasteners, washers, and clips lying around that give no indication where they came from. Save yourself a thousand headaches by being organized from the start. Use sandwich bags, empty egg crates, and plenty of labels. A phone camera and a dry-erase board are indispensable for noting the layout of wires, cables, and brackets, and neither one will blow away behind the workbench when you open the garage door.

Use a white-paint pen on metal parts to indicate where parts came from or their orientation. Choose a universal reference point, like “front of the car,” “passenger side,” or “driver side,” and label things with arrows and sides. Label clearly based on situation too. Don’t be afraid to write notes directly on the part, or leave yourself notes about how things go back together, such as the orientation of the distributor relative to the block. Masking tape is also a great tool as well. Loop it around a hose, wire, or connector and close a nice 2-inch flap on the other side that you can use to label what it does or where it goes.

Make a Final Checklist

There’s a natural excitement to putting everything back together. You’ll be tempted to hustle through the final touches. Don’t. The last bit of wire routing, bolt tightening, or body-panel aligning is what separates a pro-quality repair from an embarrassing hack job, and if you slap it together for a test drive, you might never get around to correcting it. (Nobody’s impressed by a guy in a Miata with no hood, front fenders, or bumper—in case there was any doubt.)

So make yourself a exhaustive final checklist, including everything you need to inspect, double-check, torque, and test before you put that machine back on the road. Go over it at your desk or at the dining table—not in the garage, where you’ll be anxious to get going on your first drive.

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Founder of United States Car Shows Talk About Auto Design

Sherry Wheelden

Quick Look Bio

  • Name:
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  • Sherry Wheelden
  • Orrington, ME
  • United States Car Shows
  • Sherry Wheelden

Understanding My Career Path

  • During my adolescent and teen years my father had a business purchasing salvaged insurance vehicles at auction. I did the detail and finish work. I learned body work, fill and introductory customization at this time. By this time, I was an expert detailer.
  • In my late teens my prized Camaro was totaled by a drunk driver. I kept the car and did all the bodywork myself.
  • As an adult I worked in the business field. Learning financial and sales techniques helped me to develop solid relationships with automotive vendors. I use vendors to help me build products that I customize. It takes many back and forth conversations and prototypes to build something, and it often takes a lot of patience as well. Even now, it typically can take a couple of months to get a solid item completed that is usable for show.
  • I build prototypes for engine parts, body panels, emblems, screw-on covers, and even floor mats that are customized. 3D printers can be great. I now show my customized, sponsored cars on the car show circuit for the international detailing company, Meguiar’s, as a Brand Ambassador, featuring and demonstrating their products as I show the vehicles. I also have a new book coming out shortly that will be available on Amazon entitled, Organizing Car Shows.


On whether or not she recommends a formal education
I say with hesitation that yes, a formal education can help, but there really is no substitute for due diligence. I don’t believe you can walk out with your degree and walk into a sweet and perfect position. Anyone now can design exotic vehicles with a PC or Mac. This doesn’t qualify a person to be a car designer; a cartoon designer or video game designer perhaps. You have to understand more about the engineering of automobiles and how to speak about that in order to have big companies listen.

Stay focused and strong
I believe you have to continue to work at what you want and not give up. If it’s something you want, it will be a never-ending pursuit. So, you may need to seek unpaid internships, several mentors, and fight off negative people. I have had many negative people (and still do) as I go along my path. Somehow, just one negative person has a lot of power, so you really have to work hard to overcome that.

Recommended Organizations

  • ASE – ASE is short for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. They are an independent, non-profit organization that maintains the ethics and standards of vehicle repair by testing and certifying automotive professionals. They have many different testing criteria, and you should be certified by one or some to give yourself credibility.
  • Specialty Equipment Market Association, or SEMA. This trade association consists of a diverse group of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, publishing companies, auto restorers, street rod builders, restylers, car clubs, race teams and more. Each year, an annual expo is held, which can be a great place to make contacts once you’ve gotten a little experience.
  • The third depends on your area of expertise, and being certified in that. I am a master detailer, and went for additional training for certification. Not only was this important to me in my field, but it was also important for me as I presented myself to Meguiar’s and eventually became Brand Ambassador.

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A DESIGNER’S VIEW: beautiful car design benefits society

Designer Satoshi Wada asserts that cars are an essential element of a city's beauty. “Making beautiful cars is a way of contributing to society.” (Kazuyoshi Sako)“Maestro, what exactly is design?” Satoshi Wada, posed the incisive question to the man seated directly in front of him, Giorgetto Giugiaro, legendary designer of many great cars such as the first Volkswagen Golf.

The two men were on the stage at a launch event for the latest VW Golf model on May 20 in central Tokyo. They were also joined by Walter de Silva, the current head of design for the Volkswagen Group, who Wada worked under during his time with Audi.

“Everybody tends to want unconventional designs, but making drastic changes isn’t what’s important. It’s about working your way into people’s hearts,” Giugiaro replied.

Grinning, Wada shouted to the crowd, “Did you hear that?” He looked out at the art school students and other prospective designers in the audience, whom he had urged to attend the event.

In Wada’s view, Japanese design constantly seeks only that which is new, and doesn’t make an effort to learn from the past. He wanted these young people, who represent the future of the industry, to learn as much as possible from the two masters.

“Design must preserve elements that have been carried on through the years.”

“There’s no way you can create something good if you keep shifting your attention every few months.”

Statements like these were exactly what Wada had hoped for to inspire his audience.

“Today is the first page of your textbook. If you design things with a belief in what these two men have said, you’re bound to make a more beautiful society,” Wada said.


From an early age, Wada was always surrounded by foreign influences. Whenever he rode a tram to a municipal pool in Yokohama, he would see several large American cars parked at the U.S. military base at Honmoku. His father, an engineer, had a thing for German cars such as Volkswagen and Audi.

Upon entering university, he and future architect Takahiro Terasawa, 53, rented a “beigun” house (U.S. military house) in Tachikawa, and began living there together. Yokota Air Base was in neighboring Fussa, so there were rental houses for U.S. military personnel scattered around its vicinity. Terasawa remembers that Wada’s room “showed his strong dedication to design.”

The downtown areas were lined with signs written in English and garishly illuminated by neon lights at night, creating a unique atmosphere that was a blend of Japanese and American elements. “The foundation of aesthetics that I have today was created in that era,” recalls Wada.

In his second year at university, he and his older brother bought a used first-generation Volkswagen Golf. It had a simple exterior and a checkered interior. Giugiaro’s sensibility was light years beyond Japanese cars. Wada felt that car design was the province of the elite and far out of his reach, but after riding in his Golf, his mind was set.

He landed a job with Nissan, and the first car he bought with his wages was a first-generation Fiat Panda. Naturally, it had been designed by Giugiaro.

Later, after building a solid track record that included the original Cefiro, Nissan gave Wada a chance to continue his studies in the United States. However, he felt that if he was going to study overseas, he should do so in Europe. To lay the groundwork for entering the Royal College of Art (RCA), he traveled to London without his company’s knowledge. Once he had everything lined up, he finally told his employer and gained their permission.

One of Wada’s classmates at RCA happened to be a designer for Audi, which led to him being headhunted by the company a few years later. He and five other designers from the United States, France, and elsewhere were recruited to redesign its midsize A6 sedan.

Wada’s designs were well received by his colleagues, and he had confidence in his own abilities. However, the company president thought otherwise. He said, “They’re new and stylish, but I’m not going to choose them. Your designs lack substance.”

Wada was shocked, but he remembered how he had once compared a car of his own design at Nissan to a German rival and felt that it was missing a certain something. He then vowed to himself to create the most beautiful car in Europe.

It was soon after that de Silva joined Audi and became Wada’s boss. De Silva advised him to “listen to Audi’s past.”

Adjacent to Audi headquarters is a museum that exhibits the company’s vehicles ranging from its early days through to the present. As Wada made daily visits, he gradually became aware of the weightiness of Audi’s pedigree. Instead of simply revolutionizing the company’s design, it would be necessary to introduce a new interpretation of what had been produced in the decades before. If not, the result would look at odds with its history-steeped surroundings, just as Europe is full of buildings and other objects that have existed there for several centuries.

Inspired by race cars from the 1930s, Wada ultimately arrived at the “single frame grille.” The unified front grille that would serve as the “face” of Audi’s vehicles had a powerful presence, and it immediately became a common feature of all its models.

“He must have had a few sleepless nights,” said de Silva. “Even so, Satoshi has a grown as a person. That’s become evident in his designs.”


In his 11th year with Audi, Wada attended a lunch with designers including Jonathan Ive of Apple in the United States. As he talked with them, he felt some dissonance. “The automotive design industry was male-centric, but they had a somewhat feminine sensibility.”

Perhaps there was a need to design cars with that kind of fresh aesthetic sense. Wada felt as if a new era was dawning, so he decided to quit Audi and return to Japan.

What he saw in Japan surprised him: gigantic high-rise buildings, expressways running in every direction, flashy neon lights. It was stimulating, but had none of the cultural beauty of European cityscapes. “Japanese aesthetics are deteriorating,” he recalled thinking.

When Wada rode the subways, almost every passenger was staring at their mobile phone. “None of them were looking at reality,” he said.

Japanese manufacturers have come to be highly regarded in a postwar domestic society that revolves around mass production and consumption. However, in Wada’s opinion, all they do is churn out wave after wave of new disposable products without an understanding of the essential meaning of design.

Today, Wada utilizes the experiences he gained in Europe to design a diverse range of goods that includes cars and watches. He hopes to provide the spark for a renaissance in Japanese design.

“If we can spread Japanese aesthetics and traditions globally, I’m sure the world will come to respect us.”

* * *


Born in 1961 in Tokyo. He began playing baseball in elementary school, and worked toward qualifying for the national high school championship at Koshien Stadium. After graduating from Musashino Art University, he joined Nissan in 1984, where he designed enormously successful vehicles including the original Cefiro and Presea. Wada studied at the Royal College of Arts (RCA) from 1989 to 1991. Recruited by Audi in 1998, where he was senior designer and creative manager. He designed the company’s A6 that was launched in 2004, and came up with the idea for the “single frame grille” that went on to symbolize Audi vehicles. He also worked on flagship models such as the Q7 SUV (sport utility vehicle) and the A5 coupe. In 2009 he became a freelancer and established his own design studio, SWdesign. His creations include watches for fashion brand Issey Miyake.

New CO2 Rules May Benefit Car Design

Proposed changes to how fuel economy and emissions are measured could mean the end of useful-but-ugly side mirrors and other design changes on cars.

Steve Remondi, CEO of U.S.-based aerodynamic modeling software firm Exa, told me that EU and the U.S safety regulations have been adapted so that side mirrors can be replaced by cameras that feed the information to screens inside the car.

At least one top-level European car designer is keen to make this change happen as soon as possible. Murray Dietsch, program manager for Land Rover, told me that the brand’s design director, Gerry McGovern, “is pushing me all the time to take wing mirrors off cars.”

Exa’s Remondi said there are other significant changes that are likely to happen to make cars cut through the air better.

“You are going to see smaller and narrower wheels,” he said. Future cars also will have more “active aerodynamics” such as grille shutters that automatically close when the there is enough cool air getting to the radiator, he said, The Ford Focus already offers this in Europe.

Renault’s super-efficient Eolab subcompact concept that debuted at the recent Paris auto show is 30 percent more aerodynamic than the automaker’s Clio subcompact because of design elements such as side panels designed to reduce air resistance by optimizing the airflow around the front wheelbase.

Remondi says Renault used Exa software to design the Eolab. Exa also helped Jaguar make the XE sedan its most aerodynamic vehicle yet without ever putting it into a wind tunnel.

All of these changes are happening ahead of the proposed start of the World Light Duty Test Procedure (WLTP) in 2017 to replace today’s New European Driving Cycle (NEDC).

Remondi says the new rules put more a lot more emphasis on aerodynamics as a way of reducing fuel use and emissions.

The advantage of computer modeling is that designers can quickly adjust the car’s virtual bodywork to compare airflow that shows up as so-called “glyphs” on a screen. Remondi says carmakers are striving to reach a drag coefficient of 0.20, down from an average of 0.32 now. That would reduce CO2 by up to 20 percent, he believes.

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Myth: Red Cars Cost More to Insure

Whether you drive a candy-apple red roadster or a blue minivan, you’ve probably heard from someone (who also heard it from someone) that red cars cost more to insure. While the color of your car can reflect your personal taste, it will not have a direct impact on your car insurance rate. Here’s why.

the origin of the myth

It’s hard to pinpoint how this urban legend came into being. Some argue that red cars are more likely to be ticketed because of their arresting, bright color. After all, police officers are more likely to notice a vermillion hotrod cruising down the highway than a sedate white sedan. Others point out that because red cars have historically been associated with sports cars, Speed Racers, and higher accident rates, car insurers now penalize all red-car lovers everywhere due to statistical “facts.”

the truth about car color

Color psychologists and chromotherapists would argue that color has an effect on mood, behavior, and health. And some point out that certain car colors are more conspicuous than others, making them more noticeable and therefore safer in low-light situations.

However, because very few scientific studies have focused on the relationship between car color and crash risk, conjectures about car color remain just that: conjectures. To date, no conclusive study has been done in the U.S. to prove or disprove any suppositions about car color and its effect on safety.

In 2007, Monash University in Australia investigated the relationship between car color and crash risk (PDF). They found that, statistically, white cars had the lowest crash risk while cars with colors low on the visibility index, such as black, blue, gray, green, red, and silver, were associated with a higher accident risk. They also concluded that cars with lower-visibility colors were associated with higher risks of more severe accidents.

This study suggests that car color has an impact on safety due to conspicuousness. However, it only suggests the association rather than proves it. In actuality, the study deduced that light conditions and vehicle type had more of a direct impact on crash risk than car color.

factors car insurance companies consider when determining rates

Car insurance companies do not determine premiums based on car color. Rather, insurers look at your driving history, your claims history, your credit history (in some states), and the make, model, and year of your car to assign rates.

So if you’re thinking of buying that hot new convertible in ruby or a maroon minivan, rest assured, your car insurance rate will not be affected by your aesthetic choice. To qualify for the best car insurance rates, be a safer driver, own a safe, reliable vehicle, and look for car insurance discounts.

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5 Car Insurance Tips to Help You Buy Smarter

Buying auto insurance doesn’t have to be intimidating. There are many options to help you tailor your policy to your needs – and your budget. Armed with some basic information, you can make smarter insurance decisions. These car insurance tips can help you narrow your choices and save time and money.

1. Make sure you’re legally covered

Car insurance requirements vary from state to state, but one thing is the same virtually everywhere in the U.S. – if you drive a car, you’re required to have some form of car insurance or proof of financial responsibility. Several factors, including your driving record and insurance history, may affect your policy rates.

2. Understand your insurance options

Insurance can seem complicated with so many choices available to protect you and your car. Nationwide offers easy-to-read descriptions of various insurance coverages so you can understand the basics, such as the difference between collision and comprehensive, before you call an agent or get a quote online.

3. Get at least three quotes

Compare price and service options by getting quotes from at least three insurance companies. Make sure you request the same coverage from each to get an apples-to-apples comparison. Rates may vary from one company to another, and the lowest priced insurance may not give you all the coverage you need. Look at price, amount of coverage, benefits and claims services before you make your decision.

4. Take advantage of discounts

You might be surprised by the number of discounts available to lower your for auto insurance rates. For example, if you insure multiple vehicles with Nationwide or stay with us for at least five years, you may receive substantial savings. Be sure to ask about these and other auto insurance discounts when you shop for a policy.

5. Look for extra help when you need it

Nationwide offers extra products and services for purchase to give the drivers in your family even more protection.

  • Accident Forgiveness –With this optional coverage, Nationwide will not raise your auto insurance rates following your first at-fault automobile accident.
  • Roadside Assistance – Nationwide Roadside Assistance coverage is available in two different levels, Basic and Plus, so you can choose the one that works best with your budget. Get covered for fuel delivery, lockout service, jump-starts and more.
  • Loss of use – If you can’t drive your car due to a covered loss, this coverage helps pay for a rental car or other transportation expenses so you can get back on the road.

Dealership Internet Departments vs. Traditional Car Buying

In the traditional entrance, a customer walks onto the car lot, is approached by a salesman, hears the sales pitch and then hashes out a deal in a sales office.

The other entrance is a virtual one and leads to the dealership’s Internet department. Once car buyers have test-driven and chosen a car, they can do the rest of the deal (including financing and negotiating) online or over the phone by using the Internet department. In some cases, a dealer will even deliver the car to the buyer’s home or office. This helps buyers avoid delays and extra sales pitches in the dealership finance and insurance office.

Which of these two paths to new car ownership results in a lower price for the consumer? And which will be the more pleasant buying experience? It’s the Internet path. Hands down.

I’ve used car dealership Internet departments for more than a dozen years in buying cars for my family, my friends and for Edmunds’ long-term testing fleet. Frankly, I’m amazed that the Internet department still remains something of a secret.

What Is the Internet Department?
In the 1990s, Web sites such as began publishing invoice prices for cars, taking away what had been a powerful bargaining strategy for dealerships: the consumer’s lack of knowledge about car pricing. Dealerships then began to cater to this new breed of informed shopper by creating Internet departments. By working through Internet departments, shoppers could get price quotes by e-mail or with a phone call.

“Internet department” is a bit of a misnomer. Car buyers can’t click an “Internet Department” button on a Web site and have a car delivered to their driveway. The name comes from the fact that shoppers do research via the Internet and use e-mail for much of the communication about the car purchase.

Who Is the Internet Salesperson?
Car salespeople in Internet departments typically have different sales incentives and so behave differently from traditional car salespeople. Car dealership Internet departments focus on selling a higher volume of cars rather than on maximizing profit on each individual. Therefore, the initial price quote from an Internet sales manager is often very close to the absolute lowest selling price for a given vehicle.

Internet department salespeople also assume car buyers are informed, have shopped around and won’t necessarily “buy today.” More importantly, they are willing to give specific prices on actual cars in an e-mail or over the telephone. Recently, has taken this approach one step further by creating a new program called Price PromiseSM, which posts guaranteed, up-front prices for specific cars online.

Firsthand Experience
Edmunds editors have used car dealership Internet departments many times to buy cars for our long-term test fleet. It consistently saves us time and money.

In one case, we searched online for the car we wanted, e-mailed the dealership’s Internet department and got this response: “I have the car on my lot. Your preferred Internet price is $27,417 plus tax and license. Let me know how you would like to proceed.”

We compared the price quote to the True Market Value® (TMV®) price and saw that it was even lower than TMV. We bought the car at that price and the saleswoman delivered it to our offices, where we signed the sales contract. After we finalized the paperwork, we asked the saleswoman if we could have gotten a better deal on a new car if we just walked onto the dealership lot.

“I would never walk onto a lot to buy a car,” she replied. “I don’t want to go through all the hassle.” We took that as a no.

Besides that, she said, her dealership’s traditional sales team typically starts negotiations by trying to sell the car at sticker price. Plus, they try to make more money on the back end through higher finance charges, she said. In the Internet department, she said, “We are straightforward and disclose everything. Nothing is pushed onto a client.”

Another Internet salesperson, in Pasadena, California, described her sales approach this way: “I like to be up-front with all my customers. I show them all the numbers. I don’t try to hide things or put extras into the contract at the last minute. I don’t want any misunderstandings.”

How Much Does the Internet Save?
As an experiment, I decided to try both the traditional and Internet sales processes on the same vehicle. After walking onto a car lot and test-driving a new car, I requested a written price quote. The salesman escorted me into a sales office, where he wrote my name, phone number and address on a “four-square” worksheet, which is used to negotiate the four elements of a typical car deal.

I repeated my request for a written price quote, but didn’t get one. Soon, Paul, the assistant sales manager appeared. After an opening sales pitch that extolled the virtues of the car, he said, “What if we could discount it by $500?”

After more discussion and a trip to see his manager, Paul said he might be able to get a $999 discount if I bought the car that day. I left, even though Paul became increasingly insistent that I stay and work out a deal. Had I hung around to complete the purchase, it appeared that I might have been able to buy the car for $19,810.

The next morning, I phoned the Internet manager at the same dealership and asked for a price on the car I had test-driven the day before. “Let me look that up for you,” he said. A minute later, he was back. “Our price is $19,310.”

When I asked if there were additional fees, he said, “I can fax you all the fees and your out-the-door cost if you like.” This pleasant three-minute phone call got me a price that was $500 below the vague price quoted by the traditional sales department.

Advantages of the Traditional Way?
While the Internet approach clearly offers advantages to many consumers, some buyers are still more comfortable buying the traditional way of physically going to the car lot. There, a car salesperson greets the customer personally and leads them through the buying process. This is good for a person who wants the salesperson’s recommendations on selection of the right model and features, a face-to-face sales pitch and some hand holding during the buying process. If the salesperson truly is an expert in the car’s features, this approach can be helpful. The buyer just needs to have done his price homework to ensure the deal is a fair one.

At some dealerships, however, the salespeople employ a variety of tactics to excite buyers, hurry them toward a commitment to buy and then sell cars to them at the highest price. Other dealerships are more straightforward and skip the high-pressure plays.

Internet vs. Traditional Car Shopping: The Bottom Line
It’s difficult to accurately quantify the savings you can get by using a car dealership’s Internet department. But it’s safe to say the price will nearly always be lower than the price you’ll be quoted if you walk onto the car lot — assuming you can even get a definite price, not a vague promise of what the discount might be.

There’s no question that using the Internet department saves time and stress. When buyers are shopping in person at a dealership, they run the risk of making costly, spur-of-the-moment decisions on financing or additional products, such as extended warranties. Working via the Internet department minimizes that risk. It also is good for people who don’t have an appetite for negotiations.

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10 Tips For Buying A Car Online

#1 – Verify the Seller’s Credibility
Check the seller’s history with the Better Business Bureau, or read ratings from other sellers to ensure you’re working with someone who will deliver the car according to the terms you are offered.

#2 – Get More Information
If you have questions, email the seller for additional information on the listed car including photographs (of the interior and exterior).

#3 – Get an Auto History Report
If you’re buying a previously-owned car, get an auto history report through a vendor.

#4 Test-Drive the Car
Go out to the lot, or arrange to meet the seller in person at a safe location, to test-drive a model of the car you’re considering to see if it’s really comfortable and drives the way you’d like.

#5 – Compare Prices
Research prices on the car you’re considering through other competing online sites. Those sites will give you an idea of the sticker price as compared to the invoice price (the amount that the dealer paid for the car). If you’re buying a used car check the Kelley Blue Book value to know the average price for what consumers are paying for the car you’re considering.

#6 – Check for Incentives
Just because you’re buying online, you don’t want to miss out on any potential manufacturer incentives. Call your local dealership for potential dealer-based incentives (in case they’re not advertised online) or visit the manufacturer’s website to learn about national promotions.

#7 – Get the Best Financing. If you need a loan to purchase the car, compare the dealer financing you’re offered online with rates and terms available for a car loan through the bank you’re currently using or a local credit union.

#8 – Get it Inspected
Have an independent mechanic inspect the car in person (if you’re buying locally) or at least review the pictures and information provided online.

#9 – Confirm That the Deposit is Refundable
Find out if the deposit is refundable in the event that the vehicle is sold to another consumer, and print out any online records including emails to verify your transaction.

#10 – Make a Secure Online Payment
If you’re buying online, or even just making a deposit, use your credit card to get limited liability in the event of fraud (i.e. the seller doesn’t provide the car you intended to purchase).

Use the internet to your advantage when searching for a new or used car, and save yourself some valuable time – and perhaps money – in the process.

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Eight Things to Know About Dirt Tires

Which part of your race car talks to you more than those four black doughnuts? They may not look like much, but they have a lot to say about how your car is handling. Teams that know how to take advantage of the feedback the tires provide have a distinct edge over those teams that do not.

Do you start a race with lower pressure in your tires, in hopes of building heat after a few laps? If so, will you experience excessive wear in the process, and risk a failure? Understanding the tires’ role and how to manipulate it to your advantage is critical to the setup and overall performance of your race car. Circle Track spoke with Shanon Rush and Craig Cowan of Hoosier Tire, and Drew Banas of Race Tires America to find out their top tips on what every dirt track racer must know about dirt tires.


This tip may seem obvious, but a lack of attention to air pres-sure can significantly affect your race car’s performance. According to Cowan, air pressure significantly determines dirt tire characteristics.

“Since they are bias-constructed, air pressure determines the majority of the spring rate within a tire. Therefore, it is imperative that tires are treated just as any other part of the car setup,” he explains. “Too much air pressure generally makes the car loose off the corner, while too little air pressure gives the car a tight feeling on entry. Unlike asphalt tires, it is not as crucial to balance tread wear across the face of the tire with air pressure. Concentrate on using air pressure to affect the behavior of the car, not the tread wear.”

Compound Selection The task of compound selection is complicated when you consider track conditions and driver preference for a particular compound. “This is by far the hardest part of tire management to master. Selecting the proper compound depends so much on reading the racetrack and knowing what your driver likes; it often takes years to find the proper combination,” says Cowan.

According to Cowan, it’s smart to begin with the basics: one soft, one medium, and one hard tire.

When the track is greasy, wet, or cold, run the soft tire. Switch to the medium tire when the moisture disappears and gives way to dry, slick conditions. When the dust is gone, so is the medium tire, so bolt on the hard one. Once you have a handle on the three types, check out the in-between compounds for certain clay types or wear patterns. Most importantly, take good notes on your choices to make the selection process easier the next time.

“When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the local tire dealer or track champion for their recommendations,” he adds.


This can be built into a bias-ply tire by adding air pressure and increasing the circumference, which aids in turning the race car. Or, buy a tire with a certain amount of stagger already built in. Hoosier Tire features a chalk-mark system that enables racers to choose, from a pile of tires the stagger they need without mounting three or four sets.

“The key is to remember that the chalk marks are not what the tire will actually measure,” advises Cowan. “They are guidelines to assist in picking the proper tires. As a general rule, right-side tires will rollout 2-2¼ inches smaller than the mark, while left-side tires will go 3-3¼ inches below the chalk size. Air pressure is the main factor that determines how much size differential you see from the chalk-mark size.”


This simple tip will have a significant impact on the amount of bite your race car will get.

“A sharp edge is always more effective, no matter the track condition,” Cowan says. “Most of a tire’s traction capabilities come from leading edges of blocks (tread) grabbing the track surface and pushing the car forward. If an edge is sharp, it bites harder. If not, the edge slips and limits forward traction.” He adds that to get fresh edges, grinding tires is a smart alternative, because it reduces loose rubber and dull edges that break contact with the track. Another advantage is that it freshens the top layer of rubber on the tire, so it fires quicker on restarts.


Tire construction is an area in which you have to figure out what tire characteristics will benefit you the most, depending on your race car’s setup.

“Our rib tire (only circumferential grooves are molded in) is constructed softer than our LSB (Large Stagger Blocks molded in), so you always know which tire you have,” explains Cowan. “We have found over the years that softer tires make the car tighter through the middle of the corner while stiffer tires loosen the car at the same point.”


Tires, as tough as they may look, are quite sensitive to weather changes. Keep your tires out of direct sunlight and excessive moisture, as these may cause cracks in the sidewalls and ruin the tread compound.


Although choosing the right tire compound is important, the ability to manipulate the tread pattern to suit your needs for a particular track or set of conditions is just as crucial. When done correctly, grooving can help you get better traction and allow your tires to dissipate heat, which allows you more control over tire temperatures. Cowan and dirt Late Model driver Scott Bloomquist compiled the following.

• Grooving Soft Tires: While not common in longer races, grooving soft tires may be effective for qualifying or short heats on a wet track. Softer tires are generally used on tracks that have a lot of moisture but not a lot of abrasion. Loose dirt can be cleaned off by cutting more grooves, which improves traction because of the increased number of edges available to dig into the track’s surface. To prevent weakening the structure, only groove about halfway across the blocks of a soft tire.

• Hard Tires: If you plan to run the high line or cushion and need to move some dirt, grooving the tread shoulders is helpful. Grooves on the shoulders help clean off some of the loose dirt to get at moisture beneath it. Siping the shoulders is recommended if you are rolling the tire under when running lower tire pressures on a slick surface. The sipes can help prevent the shoulder area of the tire from glazing over and losing traction.

• Groove Widths: On some tracks, you can groove the tires twice as much with a narrow groove, or half as much with a wide groove, and accomplish the same thing. It depends on the track surface and how abrasive it is, or if it contains rocks that will tear up the tire. You don’t want a lot of grooves on a rocky or highly abrasive track. Wider grooves stand up to these harsher conditions better.

• Groove Shapes: There are three basic shapes used in grooving: square, V, and sipes. Square grooves are the same width through its entire depth. V grooves start out wide at the top and taper to nothing at their bottom. Sipes are thin slits cut by installing the blade upside down in the holder and using the separate ends of the blade to cut slices in the tire.

• Groove Angles: The angle at which grooves are cut determines how much of the edges are exposed to the track when the car is in various degrees of slide. The more the car will be sideways, the more angle should be put into the grooves. As a dirt car travels around the track on a given line, the body is actually pointed toward the infield in varying degrees. If the driver is consistent, you can determine an angle for the tire grooves that will work best for your combination.

• Grooves and Heat: Some tracks naturally put a lot of heat into a tire and can actually cause the tire to melt or blister. On these kinds of tracks, grooving helps cool the tire. The grooves (and sipes) help move air across the tire’s surface, which keeps the tread temperatures down. Grooving also produces more surface area, which helps transfer heat out of the tire to the air. To help a tire dissipate heat without weakening the tread blocks too much, cut grooves in the center of each block instead of cutting all the way across it.


Drew Banas of Race Tires America strongly discourages this practice as a method for reducing lap times.

Here is the warning issued by Race Tires America: “(1) chemical alteration of the tread carcass and or tread compound, such as tire “soaking”; (2) use of tread softener; or (3) the physical defacement (removing, altering, or covering) of tire-sidewall markings in any manner. Failure to comply with this warning could result in premature or catastrophic tire failure that may result in serious injury or death.”

Tire manufacturers are obviously sensitive to the liability of this practice, but we know of the existence of certain products that claim to help you reduce a few tenths off your lap times by softening the compound of your tire. Some tracks and sanctions have outlawed “soaking,” while others still allow it or turn a blind eye. While the practice of soaking tires is common, you should evaluate the level of risk you’re willing to endure to possibly pick up a few tenths versus the chance of an untimely tire failure.

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Michael Schumacher: Driving Tips

Legendary F1 driver Michael Schumacher is in the news again, but unfortunately, it’s for all the wrong reasons. While we hope the next wave of headlines talks about his full recovery from his skiing accident, we thought his fans might like to read some of his tips for drivers, which he shared with AskMen Australia editor Emma-Kate Dobbin in 2009.
Michael Schumacher

It isn’t every day that one gets to talk about an alcohol-sponsored driving initiative while cruising in a Maserati GranTurismo at 170 mph, around a 3.37-mile racetrack, in picturesque Ronda, Spain, with Michael Schumacher as designated driver. It is, quite literally, a sobering experience.

The seven-time Formula 1 Champion is more than just that: He is a movement, a legend and one of the most famous sportsmen in the world.

Everywhere he goes, his reputation precedes him. With a “win at all costs” attitude, Schumacher is the first and only Formula 1 driver to have an entire season of podium finishes (2002).

Here he shares with AskMen his exclusive driving tips and advice on how to be a champion who enjoys a drink.

Need For Speed? Join A Luxury Car Resort…

With a track the same size as the Bahrain circuit, Schumacher chooses the members-only Ascera Car Resort in scenic Ronda, Spain, for our spin in the Maserati because he “has never driven it before.”

“Racing, fast cars and relaxing” is the motto of owner Klaass Zwart, who created the luxurious venue in 2000 so men could speed in style. But it will cost you: It’s a cool £500,000 to join, and £5,000 per month in fees.

Focus Leads To Freedom

While waiting track-side in the pits, I actually think I might pass out from the adrenaline. The noise, the cameras and being in such close proximity to a world champion is overwhelming but Schumacher is chatting and drinking coffee, like it’s just another day at the office (which, until his retirement in 2006, it was).

As I wait, helmet on head, for my very own Days of Thunder moment, another journalist randomly yells out a super generic question to Michael as he walks toward the car. “Michael, what would you have done if you had not become an F1 driver?”

Boring question, but it is Schumacher’s response that shows his mind-blowing focus. The kind of blinkered focus that motivational sports biographies are made of. The type of focus that reads like something you’d print out and stick on the wall.

“I can’t imagine being anything else,” he says. “I have always been a race-car driver, it’s who I am, it’s what I do. I can’t imagine it any other way, it’s not productive.”

Later, as I sit on the leather seat and he goes full throttle along the bitumen road, I ask him if his mental focus has helped his F1 success. “Absolutely,” says Schumacher. “Driving is all about what you put your mind to. You need to focus, but not let that focus distract you from the driving.”

Champions Drink Responsibly. If They Don’t, Get A Cab!

“Men are often surprised when I turn up to a venue in a taxi,” says Shumacher. “They are like, ‘Which Ferrari did you bring tonight, Michael?’ In response, I’m like, ‘I want to have some drinks… I left it at home.’”

“It’s actually strange to me that people would think someone who respects speed and driving so much would ever do something as stupid as drunk driving. That’s not Formula 1, that’s the form of someone stupid,” he laughs.

In April 2008, Michael Schumacher became the Bacardi Limited Global Social Responsibility Ambassador. To date, the campaign has been running in more than 40 countries. I tell him that I am, quite honestly, the envy of almost every man I have come across and yet it is ironic to think that 90% of reoffending drink drivers in Australia are men.

Some of his biggest fans are in turn his worst nightmare. I couldn’t help but wonder if they realize this?

Know Your Limits

“Formula 1 is all about the limitations of each racetrack,” says Schumacher, putting his pedal to the metal, clocking our highest speed of 177 mph. “Knowing them, and then pushing yourself to your limit, within those boundaries.”

As I smash against the side of the car, Schumacher sits there, a bundle of core strength, hands on the wheel, chilled, no helmet, smiling… eyes on the road.

I’d been warned before my ride that I wouldn’t know how he was going to stop. That there would be moments where I would want to scream, “Brake, brake, brake!” This came from his personal publicist, so I expect to have this reaction — but I don’t.

He knows every detail of the car. He is in control. The car is not in control of him.

“A successful F1 driver sees no similarity between the racetrack and normal roads. Pedestrians change all the boundaries. Speeding on open roads just to get from A to B is stupid — no matter the type of car, who cares.”

It’s all over too quickly , but it has been a life-changing experience.

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Why Your Engine Overheats

The last place any motorist wants to find themselves is standing by the side of the road with steam pouring from under the hood of their vehicle. Making yourself aware of the reasons for a vehicle overheating and the necessary preventive maintenance routines can help you avoid major engine damage that can result.

Engine Overheating Causes:

Normal Temperature Ranges and Coolant

Your vehicle’s cooling system is designed to keep your engine running within normal temperature ranges (typically 195 to 220? F depending on make and model). Coolant will boil at 225? F, but pressure created by the radiator cap and coolant blend ratios also help to increase the temperature that can be withstood.

Coolant System Causes

The most common cause of overheating is also the most simple, coolant. If your coolant level is too low, your vehicle’s cooling system cannot work properly. Coolant levels can drop through normal use, but if you notice significant drops in the fluid level check for coolant leaks or the possibility of a clogged radiator. To learn more about the warning signs, visit Signs of a coolant leak . Also make sure to use the coolant ratio recommended for your vehicle. Consult your owners manual for the correct levels.

Fan, Pump, Hose and Thermostat Failures

A faulty radiator or radiator fan can cause engine overheating if proper cooling is not occurring. Additionally, when a water pump, one of the most important parts of the cooling system, malfunctions it can lead to leaks or bearing problems that can cause overheating. Hose damage and hose collapses can also play a part in inadequate cooling, as well was a stuck or faulty thermometer.

The Consequences of Overheating

The damaged caused by an overheated engine can be serious. Overheating can cause damage to pistons, cylinders, bearings and valves, as well as a number of other vital engine components. As a result, warning signs of overheating should never be ignored; shut down your vehicle at the first indication that your engine may be operating above normal temperatures!

Engine Overheating Prevention

Avoid overheating by keeping an eye on your vehicle’s temperature gauge and coolant levels and regularly inspecting belts and hoses. Since a working radiator cap provides the pressure needed to allow for higher coolant temperatures, make sure your cap is working properly and replace it if needed. Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot!

Professional coolant and radiator flushes are also available to help maintain a well functioning cooling system, and as always, the experts at Pep Boys are happy to discuss your specific vehicle’s recommended maintenance and offer a range of services to keep your vehicle on the road.

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Dash / instrument warning lights

check engine light

The check engine light.

Every new car now comes with OBD-II – On Board Diagnostics 2. This is a fault-registering system connected to sensors all over the car, engine, fuel and emissions system. When the check engine light comes on, it can mean many things. There are something like 4,000 unique OBD2 codes that can be stored. Handheld OBD2 diagnostic tools can be plugged in to the OBD2 port which is normally under the dash on the driver’s side. These tools can read out the fault code and/or reset the system to contain no codes. Codes are split into two categories – historical/inactive, and active. The historical codes are lists of things that have been detected in the past but are no longer an issue, whilst the active codes are things that are a problem right now. Codes are subdivided into B-codes (body), C-codes (chassis) and the biggest list of all – P-codes (powertrain).
P0440 OBD-II code. This is the most common code you’ll find and it’s the first thing you should check. P0440 is the code for Evaporative Emission Control System Malfunction which covers a multitude of sins. The one thing it covers that you can check is your gas cap (petrol cap). Most new cars have a pressurised fuel system and vapour recovery loop. If you’ve filled up with petrol and not twisted the gas cap until it clicks, you’ve not sealed the fuel system. It won’t pressurise and the OBD2 system will log a P0440 code. In fact, on a lot of cars, that code is so common they’ll actually have some way of telling you to check the gas cap. In the Honda Element, for example, if a P0440 code is logged, the dash scrolls “CHECK GAS CAP” across the odometer display. So if you get a check engine light, check the gas cap first and see if the light goes off. Note : even if the light does go off, the code will likely still be stored in the OBD system and will show up next time it is checked.
It wasn’t the gas cap. If tightening the gas cap didn’t do it, you’ll need to find someone with an OBD2 diagnostics tool or reader. Some garages will charge you just for plugging the device in and reading the code. If they do, walk away. They’re ripping you off. Better to find a garage or mechanic that will read the code and actually give you a diagnosis rather than just making you pay to find out a number. Smaller garages and local mechanics will normally do this for you for a small fee, and being independent, the diagnosis won’t be predicated on you buying some expensive parts from a corporate chain.
If you’re a do-it-yourself type used to working from shop manuals, then a lot of places that will give you the diagnostic code for free. In America specifically, the Schuck’s chain do free diagnostics checks (Checker, Kragen, Murray’s, Advance) as well as AutoZone. Drop in – don’t phone up and ask. A lot of times if you phone up they’ll tell you it’s $40. If you just turn up, more often than not they’ll do it for nothing. In the UK I’m not sure who does – if you know, drop me a line. The alternative, if you’re into maintaining your own vehicles, is to buy a reader and do it yourself.

service engine light

The service engine light / Maint Reqd light.

This might indicate “Service”, “Service Engine” or “Maint Reqd”. It’s an indicator that you’re getting close to a scheduled maintenance interval. On some cars it’s as simple as counting miles before it comes on, whilst on others it maps engine temperatures, oil temperatures, air temperatures and other indicators of probable stress to tell you when it might be time for new oil or a service. In most cars this can be overridden or reset by you, the owner. Your handbook will tell you if this is the case. If you take your car for a service, the garage should reset it for you.
Typically this light will come on when you start your car, and then turn off again as part of the self-check. If it stays on for 10 seconds then turns off, it normally means you’re within 500 miles of needing a service. If it flashes for 10 seconds, it normally means you’ve exceeded a recommended service interval.

battery warning light

The electrical fault light.

This warning light is different in every car but normally it looks like a picture of a battery, similar to the picture on the left here. You’ll see it come on and go off when you start your engine as part of the car’s self-test, but if this light comes on and stays on, it means the electrical charging system is no longer working properly. Think of it like a cellphone battery. If the cellphone is plugged into the charger, you can use it indefinitely, but when you disconnect it from the charger, there’s a limited amount of time before your battery runs out. It’s exactly the same in your car, only bigger. Every car has an alternator – the charger – and a 12v battery used to supply power to the electrical system. If the alternator becomes faulty or the drive belt to it snaps, then it will not be able to do its job. The longer you drive, the more your car will use up the remaining juice in the battery and eventually the engine will die. This almost always requires a new or refurbished alternator.

brake warning light

Brake warning light 1

Most cars nowadays have a brake warning light on the dash. Its purpose is to alert you that something is wrong in the braking system somewhere. If it comes on, check your owner’s manual to find out its meaning. The brake warning light doesn’t have a standard meaning; it could be used for multiple purposes. For example, the same light may be used to show that the hand brake (parking brake for the Americans amongst you) is on. If that’s the case and you’re driving, you ought to have noticed the smell of burning brake dust by now. The light can also indicate that the fluid in the master cylinder is low. Each manufacturer has a different use and standard for this light. Which is nice. Because it would be such a drag if the same indicator meant the same thing in every vehicle.

brake warning light

Brake warning light 2

If you’ve got an ABS-equipped car, you also have a second light – the ABS light. If it comes on, get it seen to as soon as possible. It means the ABS computer has diagnosed that something is amiss in the system. It could be something as simple as dirt in one of the sensors, or something as costly as an entire ABS unit replacement. Either way, if that light is on, then you, my friend, have got 1970’s brakes. It’s important to note that this light normally comes on when you start the car and then switches off a few seconds later. If it blinks, throbs, flashes or in any other way draws your attention to itself, then take note. It’s not doing that just to please itself. Compared to a steady light, a blinking ABS light normally indicates something more serious. In some cases it could be as bad as “you have no brakes at all.”

coolant warning light

Coolant warning light

This is normally the coolant level warning light. If this comes on it means that the level of coolant in your radiator is low and needs topping up. DO NOT OPEN THE RADIATOR CAP WHEN THE ENGINE IS HOT! The coolant system is pressurised and it could easily release pressure and spray you with boiling coolant. Do it when the engine is cold. Top up the system with either a pre-mixed coolant bought from a shop, or with distilled water. Don’t use tap water – the mineral deposits in it boil out in the cooling system and calcium gets depositted around the inside of the radiator making it less efficient (which will eventually cause it to fail). It’s always best to use pre-mixed coolant, or to mix your own rather than using neat water. The coolant mixture behaves as an antifreeze in winter as well as a corrosion-inhibitor to stop your engine rusting from the inside out.

oil pressure warning light

Oil warning light

Typically this light will come on if your oil pressure is too low. Low oil pressure is serious and if you continue to drive with this light on, eventually your engine will die. Low oil pressure can be caused by a failed oil pump, a blocked oil filter or strainer in the sump, or by low oil levels – for example if your engine is burning oil. Either way, you need to get it fixed, and fast. Low oil pressure is A Bad Thing and your engine won’t thank you for leaving this problem untreated.

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Auto Design Tips from Jon M. Quigley

Jon M. Quigley

Value Transformation LLC

Quick Look Bio

  • Name:
  • Location:
  • Years in the Industry:
  • Company:
  • Twitter:
  • Jon M. Quigley
  • Lexington, NC
  • 20+
  • Value Transformation LLC
  • @JonMQuigley

Understanding My Career Path

  • After high school I was not sure what to do for a living and worked at a fast food restaurant. After a few years of fast food, I realized that my disposition and talents were a good fit for electronic engineering. So I left work at the fast food restaurant and started my education toward engineering.
  • After school, I had two job offers. One was a large business networking firm, this was before the ubiquitous Computer Science degree and many engineers went to work at what would become Information Technology companies. The other was a very small company that developed industrial products. I chose to take the position at the smaller company that paid a little less. The reason for choosing the smaller company; they were looking for a design engineer to develop new products that required electronic hardware and software (we call that embedded) products. It was a highly collaborative organization with few engineers and I was the only one with microcontroller and software experience.
  • I continued my work developing industrial products when I was approached about a product development engineer position at an automotive embedded product development organization. This company designed new products for the automotive industry as proof of concept. Proof of concept is usually radically new ideas, and this provided me yet a larger creative outlet to create things useful. I was able to learn so much more.
  • I have gone on to work at a tier 1 supplier where I was fortunate enough to work on tire pressure monitoring systems for new vehicle platform – the Prowler and the Viper. This was the infancy of tire pressure monitoring. These cars required such a system as they had run flat tires. That is you cannot tell by looking that the tires have no air in them. I also worked with other engineers to develop a prototype run flat system for exploration with Harley Davidson. I took the system to Talladega for testing and learned much about the vehicle and the design.
  • Eventually, I moved on to what is called the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) first PACCAR (they build trucks) and then to Volvo, they also build trucks. I worked on vehicle display systems and telemetry systems. In these roles I learned more about collaboration as many of these designs are so complex and require a variety of skills to deliver. The positions were still quite creative; finding ways to solve problems and in some cases try to understand what can be the problem using both creative side and engineering analytics.


On whether or not he recommends a formal education
To get into developing, designing or creating automotive products requires some education. There are universities that offer coursework for specific engineering degrees. Think of the quote attributed to Pablo Picasso – “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Formal education will only go so far, but it is needed. Always ask questions and explore a variety of interests.

Explore internships or co-op opportunities
If you are going to a university or even a technical school, you can explore internships and co-op opportunities. Many companies provide these opportunities to learn about the industry in a controlled and incremental way. These opportunities are not only at the producers of the final product. It is possible to enter like I did, as a supplier to the automotive industry. There are considerable creative/engineering opportunities at these tier 1 suppliers (Tier 1 is the supplier that ships the parts to the Original Equipment Manufacturer.).

Study and read
It is not necessary to have a professional teacher in front of you to learn. Start early trying to understand things, not just from what you read but explore and take an active role in your education and learning. I consider myself a lifelong learner. I have 4 degrees and multiple certifications. I have studied on my own to learn things that I just want to know. Take science and math classes in high school pushing to know more. Work your way into those advanced classes.

Take up programming
Take up programming/writing software as a hobby. There are interesting kits, such as the Lego Mindstorm and other such kits for using your imagination to create and learn the fundamentals of mechanics, logic and software/programming.

Another site for high school students or younger to explore what being an engineer may be about. Spend the summer with Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM).

Recommended Organizations

  • The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is “a knowledge source for mobility engineer.” SAE is one of the automotive industry’s top organizations. This organization provides opportunities for collaboration and exploration of product use and development of product standards. For example, in the heavy vehicle industry electronic equipment there is document; J1455 Recommended Environmental Practices for Electronic Equipment Design in Heavy-Duty Vehicle Applications that describes the types of abuse the vehicle electronics may be subjected. Developing new products for heavy vehicles will warrant some time spent with this document. There is plenty more than just recommended practices at SAE, there are numerous standards to aid the design engineer in the creation of compatible and capable vehicle product. Compatible in the sense that the product will work in the context of the other vehicle systems.
  • The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) is not like SAE at all. This organization is less about the specific design attributes and more about bringing the new product to a successful launch. Instead of product design standards, there are product development standards. These are process related including the multi of quality assurance activities associated with bringing a high volume product to market.

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10 tips for aspiring car designers by Patrick Lecharpy and Luciano Bove

1 – The design industry of today

Renault Twizy - Clay model PL: Today’s design world is much more complex: students need to be internationally open. Even if the history of design is traditionally centered on Europe and United States, the future will have no boundaries.

This is an extremely important aspect, as you will be involved in international design environments. Competition will be open worldwide and not just among three or four design schools in Europe or in the States.

Things are evolving very quickly: in emerging countries like India, today it is possible to find competences that could not be found just five years ago.

Luciano Bove on the Twizy at-SPD MilanLB: I had the chance to attend the Art Center College of Design in 1984, and I came back and started working in Italy in 1989. Three years later I began teaching car design.

Back then, the first European design schools were just opening, conscious of the importance of providing a transportation design specific education, in competition with the long established schools in the United States and in Japan.

Today we have a lot of new design schools and in emerging countries like China there are also a few State universities offering transportation design courses: they are doing extremely well in a very short period of time.

When I started teaching in Italy, we launched the first transportation design department in Turin, and it took us almost eight years to reach a very high quality. Today design schools in China have managed to achieve a remarkable results in just three years.

Today competition is much, much higher.

2 – Open mindness

Renault Twizy Concept - Design Sketch PL: Sometimes it’s difficult for young creatives to realize they don’t work alone: the basis of creativity lies in the designer’s personality, however while in the past this could have been enough, it is not enough today.

In the professional world it usually takes 4 to 5 years to young designers in order to be operational within a team. During this period they are requested to interact with different competencies and mindsets.

It is important to find the right balance between having a strong personality and a charismatic attitude – which are necessary to build a creative mind – while being open minded towards diversity and not being too egocentric.

LB: In order to get a job in the car design industry you’ll need to be able to integrate in a team a lot faster than it used to be back in my times.

Renault Twizy Concept - Design SketchToday students cannot focus solely on sketching and rendering ability – which are still essential skills; they have to become manager of themselves in order to be able to manage projects and be autonomous.

If you want to survive in this competitive field, you need to be open to everything during all your career, not just during the time spent at school and internships.

3 – Teamwork

PL: Don’t forget: automotive design is teamwork. It’s difficult for us designer – especially when we are young – to accept we are not at the center of the universe.

Being proud of yourself and having your own ideas are necessary aspects, but a vehicle is so complex that it will never be only your own success.

4 – Time management

LB: Having good drawing and modeling skills is essential, but the most important thing – as a student and as a future designer or design manager – is being able to respect deadlines.

Renault Twizy presentation at SPD - Luciano BoveWhen you are in design school, you are not much concerned about time. You want to be the best, so it is important to show the teacher or the client a very good sketch or a perfect model.

But when you are in the real world and you are facing a deadline, it’s quite different.

And often the most talented and artistic designers are the ones who have the most difficulties.

However, this difficulty can be reversed and time can become your best friend when seen in a constructive way: it can motivate you and can help you to find the best solutions given the constraints and the tools you have at your disposal.

PL: [In order to succeed] you need to make a proper analysis first, and then ideas will come quickly. After that, you have to carefully choose one clear idea and go for it. Don’t spend too much time tuning the idea or trying to deliver perfect quality.

5 – Selling ideas and presenting projects

PL: The cleverness of a new concept is obviously the most important aspect of a design project, but often young designers underestimate the importance of selling their work – whether to a teacher or to a final customer.

Renault Twizy - Design Review

A new product will not produce emotions spontaneously: you’ll have to make people react emotionally and this is a very important aspect of a designer’s job.

For example, during business meetings you will face very busy top managers and it is crucial to catch their attention by creating an “advertising” on screen, better if with a short story behind, with some music and a scenario: if you manage to do it, then you “have won half the battle”.

When presenting a project to a teacher or to an interviewer, focus on one or two messages, and no more. Don’t get “everywhere”: be focused, choose and be efficient.

6 – Making design decisions

Renault Twizy - Color and TrimPL: When you create a new product or concept you need to think about what it is for and what it is not for, what you want to achieve and what you don’t want to achieve.

Making these choices will allow you to create something that gives answers to specific questions.

Don’t try to solve all problems, make choices, even if this can be difficult for designers. If you are able to make the right choices you will create a successful product, otherwise you are very likely to end with an average result.

7 – Hand modeling

Renault Twizy - Clay modelLB: Today with digital CAD models we can arrive up to 90% of the product. When you have milled a model and you put your hands on it, you will always find out areas that need changes; and when you apply a layer of paint on it, sometimes you’ll realize that reflections are not as you had imagined.

In those cases you’ll have to sculpt and work with clay: it is still a very special, artistic aspect of a designer’s talent that computers simply can’t do.

8 – Honest design

PL: Don’t over-promise by design, be honest with your customers. Don’t design a car that looks fast if it isn’t.

9. Being Curious

PL: We don’t have to overestimate our role of designers: we have the ability of visualizing ideas by sketching and prototyping, while engineers, market researchers, managers have different yet very important skills.

When you start you usually have little knowledge of these fields, and that’s something you can develop with time.

As a designer you’ll need to be curious and look at everything: engineering basics, international trends, fashion, graphic design, customer satisfaction. This will allow you to understand enough to put the elements together and to concretize the ideas.

10 – Training creativity

PL: Creativity is not spontaneous. Like every other skill, creativity needs to be trained during the whole life.

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Vehicle Insurance Myths VS Realities


Red cars cost more to insure

Color is not a factor used to calculate car insurance rates — we don’t even ask you what color your car is when you get a quote from us. Factors that do matter are the year, make, model, body type, engine size and age of your car, as well as drivers on your policy.

One speeding ticket will make my car insurance rates go up

Sometimes this is true, but in many cases, you have to get two tickets before your rate goes up. Your driving history, the length of time you’ve been insured with a company and how fast you were going when you were cited can affect whether your rate increases or not. Keep in mind that a speeding ticket may not be the sole reason your rate increases, as several factors are considered when reviewing them.

Auto insurance rates aren’t regulated, so auto insurance companies can charge what they want

Each state requires auto insurance companies to file how they calculate customer rates, and insurers cannot deviate from these filed rates. Each state also has regulators who review that information and the rates companies charge.

I only need the bare minimum amount of car insurance

Many states have minimum car insurance requirements, but the minimum amount of required insurance may not cover all of your costs. If you cause an accident that results in a lawsuit and your insurance limits don’t cover all of the damages, your assets could be pursued.

Cheaper cars cost less to insure

If your cheaper car has a large engine, weighs a lot or is an unusual model, it might cost more to insure than a more expensive small car. However, if you have a cheaper car, you will pay less for Comprehensive coverage, which covers damage caused by vandalism, hail, fire or animal accidents.

If someone driving my car causes an accident, I won’t be held responsible

It’s possible you’ll be financially responsible for an accident — even if someone else is driving your car. In most states, the car insurance policy covering the vehicle is considered the primary insurance, which means that the insurance company for the vehicle must pay for damages caused by an accident. Even so, it’s still possible that the driver’s insurance company could be responsible for some of the damages. Why? If the vehicle’s insurance limits are too low and don’t cover all the damages, the driver’s insurance may be next in line to pay for the remainder of the damages.

Since policies and laws differ by state, knowing how your state’s insurance system works could influence who drives your car.

Older cars are cheaper to insure

Car insurance rates for all vehicles vary depending on several factors, such as who drives a vehicle and its annual mileage. For older vehicles, many drivers choose to carry only Liability (BI/PD) coverage, which covers injury or damage to other people or property, not damage to the insured person or vehicle. Liability only coverage may be cheaper than insuring a vehicle with Liability, Comprehensive and Collision coverage.

My car insurance rates will be higher if I’m a smoker

Your car insurance rates will not be higher if you smoke — we don’t even ask you if you’re a smoker when you get a quote from us.

My car insurance rates will be similar to my neighbor’s rates

Car insurance rates are individually determined, so factors such as age, driving record, type of vehicle and marital status are considered. Each person’s situation is unique, and car insurance rates will vary because of this.

Car insurance rates go down dramatically when drivers turn 25

Younger and older drivers typically have the most car crashes, and customers of different car insurance companies have different claims experiences. When determining auto insurance rates, insurers generally consider a variety of information about you, including age, vehicle information, claims history and the claims experience of other customers like you.

While it’s generally true that rates will go down when you turn 25 if all information about you and your vehicle remains the same, changes in one or more of the other pieces of information used to calculate a rate could lead to you getting a higher, lower or the same rate when you turn 25.

Comprehensive coverage protects drivers in all situations

Comprehensive coverage is one type of protection available on an auto insurance policy (others being Collision, Uninsured Motorist, etc.) Comprehensive coverage pays only for damage caused by an event other than a collision, including the following. Remember, there are also steps you can take to limit your risk.

  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Weather (hail, floods, etc.)
  • Vehicle collisions with animals

I can use Rental Reimbursement coverage to rent a car for my vacation

Unless your insured car is in the shop as the result of an accident, you won’t be able to use Rental Reimbursement to rent a car for vacation. Depending on the limits you selected when you bought your policy, Rental Reimbursement coverage pays for some or all of the cost of a rental car — but only when your insured car is in the repair shop because of a car accident.


People who live in the city pay more to insure their cars than people outside the city

Within a state, city dwellers usually pay more for car insurance than rural residents. Cities have a higher risk for claims due to more traffic, more people and more theft, which generally means higher car insurance rates.

An accident can make my rates go up, even if it’s not my fault

Accidents that are your fault have a direct effect on your car insurance rate. Depending on the circumstances, you also may be placed in a group of customers who receive higher rates, even if an accident isn’t your fault.

Progressive will group drivers with others who share similar risk characteristics

Common practice in the car insurance industry is to rate drivers based on data collected for other drivers who share similar characteristics, which overall is a solid predictor for car insurance rating.

Anyone who drives my car with my permission is covered if I have insurance

If you allow someone to drive your car, that person is covered by your insurance policy. Keep in mind that if the person who drives your car doesn’t have insurance and causes an accident, you could be held responsible for the damage, which could make your car insurance rate go up.

Information from my credit report is used when determining my car insurance rate

We order your credit report and use information from it to calculate your insurance score — this score is used when determining your car insurance rate. We use credit because numerous studies have shown that credit is a very powerful and independent predictor of the likelihood of future accidents or insurance claims. In fact, Progressive data shows that consumers with the worst insurance scores are twice as likely to have an accident or insurance claim as those with the best scores.

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4 Tips to Buy Used Cars Online

Following some simple tips to buy used cars online, you can get a great negotiated price on a used car found right from the comfort of your own home.

Begin Your Search with the Right Websites

A number of search engines can be used to find the right vehicle for you. These include sites like eBay,, and Craigslist, and a number of others, like your local newspapers’ websites. Most sites provide very specific searches, all the way down to the vehicle’s color, mileage, and distance from your home. Using one search site is usually not enough. Use at least two search sites to ensure you see as many different options as possible. If you are looking for a vehicle with very specific options, you may want to increase the distance you are willing to travel for the car, which will add more vehicles to your search results.

Narrow Down the Car

Once you have found a few vehicles that meet your criteria, contact the sellers. Whether it’s a dealer, or an individual seller on eBay, look at their past reviews. Investigate the extent to which past customers have been satisfied with their experiences negotiating with, visiting and buying from the seller.

Research the Individual Car

You should begin by asking to look at the vehicle’s history report. Most dealers offer a document called a CARFAX. If it is an individual selling the car, ask for the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Use this to purchase the exact vehicle’s history. The report will cost you about $35, but the information it provides is crucial. Once you have reviewed and understand the car’s history, ask the seller if the car needs any work, and if so, what type. Finally, ask the seller whether they would agree to have the vehicle looked at by an unbiased mechanic. If this makes the seller uneasy, they might be hiding something.


Inquire about the negotiability of the vehicle’s price. Even if the advertisement indicates the price is “firm,” there’s generally a little room for negotiating a better price. Use your initial search tool to your advantage. If you have seen the same vehicle elsewhere for less money, or know the seller has been advertising the vehicle for some time, you’ll have more leverage to negotiate. Generally speaking, it’s most beneficial financially to purchase a vehicle in its off season. For example, a convertible in winter, or an AWD truck in the summer. Many larger websites will email you when new vehicles are available, so if you’re not in a rush you can save even more by waiting for just the right vehicle.

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Post-Race Inspections

Being prepared is the biggest advantage any racer can have when the green flag drops. One of the best ways to be prepared is to complete a thorough inspection of the car. The idea is to stop trouble before it starts.

We spoke with a group of racers in various types of racing for their top post-race inspection tips. The common ground in their advice is safety. A good inspection is not only about being ready, but being safe as well.

Charlie Armstrong, of Alexander, Arkansas, is an IMCA Modified dirt-track racer. He has thought much about safety, especially since breaking his foot in a multi-car racing accident.

“Safety is not only a priority, it is a must,” Armstrong says.

Keep It Safe

• Check all Grade 8 SAE bolts for self-locking nuts. Make sure they are still in place and tight.

• Make weekly checks for frame damage and cracks in welding. This is more important on dirt where the track can attack a car.

• Check seatbelts weekly. Watch for rips, tears, ease-of-release mechanisms and mounting points. Check specifically for wear at points where the belts go through the seat. Look under the seat to see the mounting of the submarine belt.

• Check brakes after every race. Are the pads cooked? Are the bleed valves tight, hoses/lines not damaged/nicked? Rotors should not be discolored or cracked. Spin rotors to check for warp. Are rotor vents and calipers blocked with debris?

Parts Checks

Once all the safety checks are complete, the list is broken down to specific areas of the car.

“We go from the outside of the car to the inside,” Armstrong says.

• Spindles. Check for gouges in all machined areas, excessive play in bearings and spindle washer/nuts. Look for cracks in tie-rod holes.

• Hubs. Check for excessive play in bearings, the condition of threads on the lugs and how the lugs are mounted to the hub. Slowly spin the hub to check for out-of-round. Hubs are the first item Armstrong checks. He looks for cracks in the stud holes.

• Upper/lower ball joints. Check the mounting, excessive play and threads for damage and sufficient grease.

• Upper/lower A-arms. Check all nuts for tightness, arms for bends or gouges, bushings for wear and the mounting plate for cracked welds at the frame.

• Tie-rod ends and sleeves. Look for bends or gouges, excessive play in the ends and cracks in the sleeves. Are washers/nuts cotter pinned properly? Are the sleeve nuts tight?

• Steering box including pitman and idler arms. Use a ball-joint spreader to check the flex in each piece, look for leaks in the power steering box, pump and lines. Run through left/right turns to check for binds and less than desired travel.

• Center link. This is a piece that should be painted regularly. Paint will chip if hit by a rock or flexed enough to bend. Check holes for taper and wear, and check that the washers and cotter pins are properly attached.

• Brake lines. Check each line one at a time to ensure thoroughness. Start at the master cylinder and go to each corner of the car with a clean rag to check for leaks. Then run your fingers along each line to check for nicks and gouges. Look for kinks and sharper than normal bends that could cut the flow of fluid. All fasteners—including hold-down clamps—should be tight.

• Calipers. Are the mounting and hold-together bolts tight? Are the bleeders tight and not roughed up? Is/are the pin(s) that floats the pads without bind? Is the pad wear OK and evenly distributed?

• Radiator and cap. Is it clogged? Are too many fins bent? Check all mounts for secure fasteners. Is the cap tight and in working order?

• Shocks. Check all mountings, nuts and cotter pins (if used) for proper installation. Any dents in the outer tube? Are the shafts free of gouges? Look closely for any contact from nearby components.

• Brake fluid condition and level. Check the smell, color and texture for overheated damage. Is there enough fluid in the master cylinder? Are the master cylinder mounting bolts tight?

• Driveshaft. Check U-joints for excessive wear/play, the shaft for straightness and the welds for cracks. Look closely for how much shaft comes out of the tranny. Marking is one way to see if the two are separating. Any scratches on the main body or ends? How close is it to the safety loop?

• Lower control arms. Check for straightness and any bends. Check mounts, bolts, nuts and bushings for pullout. If you have any spherical rod endings, make sure they have the proper washers installed.

• Upper control arms/pull bars. Same as above, plus check the tension on the pullbar.

• Rear-end housing and gears. Check all cover nuts/bolts. Check for leaks at pinion and housing locations as well as axle ends of the housing. Are brake mountings tight? Are axle tubes straight? Is there too much pinion play? Are all mountings of arms and shocks tight and not cracked at the welds? And don’t forget the simple one—enough fluid in the rear?

• Track bars. Check for straightness, mounting of bolts, nuts and washers. Check mountings for cracks in brackets and welds.

• Fuel cell. Check for any new scratches or dents on the outside container. If found, check inside. Are the fittings for fuel pickup and inlet tight? Fuel filter and mounting tight? Is the cell mounted securely to the frame? Make an attempt to regularly check the ball-check valve when the cell is empty to ensure correct operation in a rollover. When the cell is out of the container, check the bladder for abrasions, rips and tears. Every time you look at the fuel cell, always check for leaks.

Engine Bay

In the engine bay, the checklist becomes more itemized because there’s more to monitor. In fact, the lists we’ve seen are more than double in numbers when it comes to checking the engine.

That was the case when we talked to Rick Knowles of Willis, Michigan, who races a pavement Late Model at Toledo, Ohio, and Flat Rock, Michigan. Knowles says his team does a very thorough inspection of the engine to make sure it is running properly.

“I tell my guys to not be insulted if I double check them and they can double check me because the idea is to find the problems first. It doesn’t matter who finds it. We use a team approach to inspecting the engine. Spark plug wires are always a problem when they come off after we check the gaps. So we use one guy to check that and he announces he has finished that part of the inspection so the rest of us know it,” Knowles says.

“We break it down to the upper and lower parts of the motor for two guys to look over. But everybody looks for oil leaks. It doesn’t matter who checks the throttle linkage, I always check that again myself.”

Such a complete inspection can require absolute concentration.

“Checking nuts and bolts is one thing we do patriotically,” Knowles says. “These things have a tendency to shake nuts and bolts loose. I also do a sort of ‘pre-flight’ at the track where I jiggle the wheels and look for loose bearings and bad joints in the car.”

Here are some other engine checks from Knowles:

• Check all hoses and clamps. Look for tears, cuts and leaks and check the tightness of clamps. Some racers use two clamps per hose end to ensure tightness.

• Check all belts and pulleys. Look for wear or irregular wear, loose pulleys and nicks.

• Check fluid levels for content and leaks. This includes power steering, oil, clutch, radiator and brakes.

• Check overflow tanks (radiator and oil) and drain if needed. Look for fluid leaks or stains from leaks.

• Check to make sure valve covers are tight and not leaking.

• Are the pulley brackets tight? Check the alignment of belts.

• Check and clean the radiator. Remove rubber and dirt, and check the condition of the fins. Look for leaks.

• Air-box seals. Look for openings in the air box. Is the seal intact?

• Radiator mounts. Are they tight and not cracked?

• Check fan blades for damage. Check the fan’s mounting bolts for tightness.

• Electrical connections. Check for loose connections including the battery, kill switch, starter, cockpit switches, terminal block and ignition. Check the condition of all wires and terminals.

• Charge the battery.

• Make sure the oil pressure light works.

• Check fuel lines from the fuel cell to the carburetor. Check for kinks, leaks, bends and wear.

• Throttle linkage and springs. Check for “no-bind” operation. Check for at least two fully operational return springs.

• Motor mounts. Check for tightness, bends and cracks.

• Distributor cap, rotor and wires. Check distributor cap for cracks and wear, rotor for chips and wear, wires for secure fastening on both ends and burnt or discolored wires.

• Shifter linkage. Are all fasteners secure? Does the shifter move freely and does it fully engage the gears?

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10 Gas Saving Tips

We have good news and bad news. Bad news first – It seems like gas is not getting any cheaper any time soon. Now the good news…. There are measures you can take to curb gas consumption and save yourself a little money in the process. Below are 10 tips to help you improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency so you can Save Gas Now.

1. Slow Down

1. Slow DownThis is simple and will do wonders for your fuel economy. Many people drive 5 to 10 miles above the posted speed limit, especially on the highway. While this will get you to your destination a little faster, it can really decrease your gas mileage. Driving the speed limit will help you to conserve fuel. It may get you to your destination a few minutes later but you can plan for this by leaving a few minutes earlier.

2. Keep your tires properly inflated

2. Keep your tires properly inflated The phrase “rolling resistance” refers to the friction created when the tires of your car roll along the road. When it comes to saving gas, you want your tires’ rolling resistance to be as low as possible. Lower resistance = less friction = less fuel consumption. You can keep your rolling resistance low by regularly checking your tire pressure and filling your tires with air when the air pressure is low. The tire pressure should especially be checked when the temperature has dropped because tires can lose 1 to 2 lbs. of air pressure for every 10°F the temperature drops outside.

3. Clean out your car

3. Clean out your car Having a dirty car may not seem like a recipe for more repeat trips to the pump but getting all the excess weight out of your car will let you squeeze every last bit of fuel economy from your vehicle. Also, all the little things you keep in your car that may not weigh much on their own – a bag of golf clubs or a stroller, for example – can add up to significant unnecessary weight if they are sitting in your car together all the time.

4. Have your car maintained regularly

4. Have your car maintained regularly  Whether it’s getting your oil changed on time, replacing your air filter, or having a tune-up done, making sure your vehicle is properly maintained is key to saving money at the pump. Simply replacing your air filter on a regular basis can improve engine performance and gas mileage. Also, using the right grade of motor oil and having your oil changed on time can result in an increase in fuel economy. Add a simple tune-up and your gas mileage could be boosted by 4%. This goes to show you that properly maintaining your vehicle can pay off in the long run.

5. Be smart about when you fill up

5. Be smart about when you fill up   There is no reason to top off your tank between fill-ups. Wait until you have a quarter tank of gas to refill it. This gives you time to find a good deal on your next refill and you can benefit from hauling around less fuel (i.e. less weight) while you do. Also, when you do hit the pump, fill up your vehicle all the way. Spending $10 here and $20 there might seem like you’re saving money but you are actually wasting fuel and time driving to the gas station more frequently.

6. Drive smarter, not harder

6. Drive smarter, not harderOnly drive as much as you need to. If you can combine trips, do it. If you can carpool, even better. If parking spots are scarce, take the first one you find. If you can take the bus or train to work and it is cheaper than driving, do it. If you can ride a bicycle or walk to your destination, get some exercise while saving gas. If you’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, take a lesson from the trucks – ever notice how they don’t stop and go but keep rolling at a very slow, leisurely pace? They do that so they don’t have to keep switching gears (most trucks have manual transmissions) but it also saves gas because it takes less fuel to keep a vehicle moving than it does to take off from a full stop.

7. Know when to run the air conditioner

7. Know when to run the air conditionerIt has been said by many that running the air conditioner can burn through gas quickly. This is true only if you are doing city driving or are in stop-and-go traffic. If you are not driving on the highway, by all means, open the windows instead of running the A/C. If you are driving on the highway, running the air conditioner is fine. Keeping the windows up and the A/C on while on the highway cuts way down on wind resistance, thus burning less gas.

8. Drive more efficiently

8. Drive more efficientlyIt can be tempting to put the pedal to the metal when the light turns green but doing that can empty your gas tank quicker than you think. Studies have shown that accelerating moderately and stopping gradually may cut gas consumption by as much as 35%. Some experts even suggest that, when a light turns green, you should take your foot off the brake, let the car get to its coasting speed on its own (if the vehicle has an automatic transmission), and then accelerate. It only takes a few extra seconds and could help you save gas.

9. Map it out

9. Map it outTechnology has gotten to the point where it can help you save gas. Before you take a trip, use a map app or a mapping website to calculate the shortest and fastest route to your destination. If you do it right before you leave, you can even check the traffic to see if you might get stuck. If traffic is heavy, you can adjust your route accordingly.

10. Be a frugal shopper

10. Be a frugal shopperWhen looking for a place to fill up, be choosy. It is perfectly reasonable to look for a gas station with the lowest price. You don’t have to drive around to do it either. Thanks to advances in technology, you can now use a smartphone to look up gas prices with cheap-gas-finding apps. If you don’t have a smartphone, there are quite a few websites that can help you find places to buy less expensive fuel. Another thing to be on the lookout for is gas stations that charge you more to pay with a credit card than cash. Keep some cash on you or hit an ATM before filling up to avoid being charged more.

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Top 10 Car Care Tips

What you can do yourself to keep your car on the road
If everything on TV were true, then keeping a vehicle running great, looking good, and lasting a long time would be the easiest thing ever. Advertising will tell us over and over that all we really need to do to keep that car or truck running forever and looking brand new for years is to pour some bottles of miracle liquid into the crankcase, sprinkle magic dust on the paint, or spray some sort of ionized wonder water on the interior. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Following the old adage that “if it sounds too good to be true it probably is” comes the news that regular, proper care and maintenance are what really keep vehicles going into the high six-figure mileage ranges. Miracle cures, magic fairy dust, mystery polymers and the like are all fine and good for infomercials, but most likely won’t do much good for your vehicle.

Regularly scheduled maintenance and lubrication using the manufacturers recommended type and formulation of oil, grease and liquids is what will do the trick. Replacing normal wear-and-tear parts such as timing belts before they break is also a good path to follow on the road to long vehicle life. Taking good care of your vehicle can make the difference between being the proud owner of a good looking, long lasting, reliable machine, and saying goodbye to a rusty, faded-paint jalopy that fell apart or broke down long before it was designed to.

The Maintenance Difference
We all know somebody with an older, high-mileage vehicle that just keeps on running year after year—that crazy uncle in the high-mileage ride that keeps on going strong. “What’s Uncle Fred’s secret?” you may wonder, scratching your head with one hand while holding a repair bill in the other? At its core, Uncle Fred’s 500,000-mile 1972 Datsun 610 is no different a vehicle than a two-year-old hulk that barely cleared 65,000 miles before it got hooked up to the wrecker truck, never to be seen again. While the short-lived heap has since been crushed, melted down, and built into another car, Uncle Fred keeps on trucking.

The secret is that there is no real secret to getting a vehicle to last a long time. The difference is maintenance. Regular fluid checks and an almost pious dedication to scheduled lubrication will keep the powertrain going strong. What kind of oil, brake fluid, and grease used is just as important as when it is changed. The best oil in the world will do your engine no good if you never change it. Cleaning and protecting the finishes of the vehicle inside and out will keep things looking good. Paint, plastic, leather, and fabric need help to survive the constant assault of sun and elements. Utilize both of these plans together and you, like Uncle Fred, will enjoy happy motoring for a good, long time. Follow the accompanying 10 handy tips for keeping your vehicle in top shape.

Tip 1
Check and change the oil. No single step will help an engine last more than regular oil and filter changes will. Conversely, nothing will destroy an engine faster than neglecting oil-level checks or fresh-oil changes.

Tip 2
Flush the cooling system and change coolant once a year. A 50/50 mix of coolant and distilled water will keep the cooling system in good shape and prevent corrosion and deposits from building up inside the cooling system.

Tip 3
Change out transmission and differential oils. While not requiring frequent service, these fluids must be changed according to service intervals. Always use transmission fluid or gear oil of the recommended type and viscosity.

Tip 4
Keep it clean. While washing the outside of the vehicle is obvious, most everything the vehicle ran over can also get stuck to the underside. Hosing off winter salt and road grime is a good idea.

Tip 5
Everything with moving parts needs grease to survive. This ball joint went into early retirement due to poor lubrication.

Tip 6
Nothing keeps paint looking good and protected like a coat of quality wax. Apply wax at least every six months.

Tip 7
Driveline components such as u-joints also require regular lubrication. The driveline may have to be removed to access the zerk grease fitting.

Tip 8
Protect the interior plastic by parking the vehicle in the shade, using a window deflector screen, and applying a UV protectant to prevent the plastic and vinyl from drying out.

Tip 9
Inspect, clean, and repack wheel bearings with wheel bearing grease according to service intervals. Wheel bearings and grease are inexpensive compared to spindle and hub replacement, or liberated wheels rolling down the road ahead of you.

Tip 10
Brake fluid is hygroscopic. This means it is adept at attracting moisture. Moisture causes components to corrode and fail. Replace fluid and bleed system once a year. Brake fluid is cheap. Calipers, hoses, and sensors are expensive.

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Alex Dudick Talk About Auto Design

Automobile Engineer and Designer

Quick Look Bio

  • Name:
  • Location:
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  • Alex Dudick
  • Detroit, MI
  • Automobile Engineer and Designer
  • adudick

On handling two roles:

It can, at times, be difficult to be both an engineer and designer, though product design and certain industries keep design and engineering positions very close, such as automotive, biomedical, and consumer products… I recommend that any designers with the aptitude for either engineering (physics too) or business, pursue degrees that appeal to both the creative and technical disciplines; this gives the best perspective and opportunities… (Also) having a good grasp and background or some hands-on experience in manufacturing helps one to understand what it takes to actually make the product, and not just one, but hundreds to millions of them.


Tips for the aspiring designer
Network and meet people whom you look up to. There are a lot of good designers out there, so it is still relatively competitive to find the right job. Developing a portfolio that showcases original designs and any other skills can definitely be hugely helpful too. Familiarize yourself with different software packages when possible; most colleges usually offer free or discounted licenses, so take advantage of opportunities to play, and get accustomed to what other great tools are available. Learn as much as you can about 3D printing and scanning, additive technologies, and anything else cutting edge, as this will be a growing part of all product design in the future (already is, really).

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