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Planning tips for a perfect summer road trip

Summer is here and it’s time to hit the open road. Whether you’re road tripping with friends or family, planning is essential for a safe and enjoyable adventure for all.

Road trips—where you take a long car ride and hit many stops on the way—present a unique set of challenges (and opportunities). Here are a few things you should keep in mind as you plan.

Plan your route and stops in advance

You know your destination, but deciding on your route and stops can really depend on your travel style. HowStuffWorks suggests you make sure everyone is on the same page before you leave to avoid being stuck in a car with unhappy passengers for 8 hours a day. If you have to travel with someone who’s style doesn’t mesh with yours, consider planning a shorter trip.

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and stress if you map out how you’re getting to your destination before you leave (obviously). These two services can help you plan.

  • Roadtrippers: We’ve talked about Roadtrippers before. The service uses Google-Maps based directions to lay out your route and helps you find all the stops along the way. You can now save trips and edit them too. With Roadtrippers you can also calculate fuel costs, time, and distance.
  • OnTheWay: Another app we’ve talked about before is OnTheWay, for iOS. The app can show you stops and restaurants along your route, but it can also help you find interesting things like museums, parks, and roadside attractions.

There are a lot of other apps you can use too, but these are two of the best. If you’re interested in some non-road-trip-specific travel planning apps, you can see what else we think is the best.

Get more helpful tips here: http://lifehacker.com/how-to-plan-the-perfect-road-trip-1581847075

Automotive industry jobs continue to change as carmarkers focus on technology

The traditional carmaker as a manufacturing giant may soon be a thing of the past. With the advancement of automotive technology, car companies are starting to look a lot more like tech startups.

That’s the impression given by a list of the auto industry jobs of the future released by General Motors GM -1.15% this month, a roster stacked with roles that may seem more likely to be found at a search engine or app designer than a Big Three automaker.

According to Ken Kelzer, GM’s Global VP of Vehicle Components and Subsystems, many of the auto industry jobs for which demand will increase over the next several years will be focused on integrating consumer electronics–tablets, touchscreens, mobile technology–into vehicles.

“What we have to do is go from consumer electrics into vehicle electronics,” said Kelzer. “If you think about a TV or a radio at home, it sits on a countertop. You put that into a vehicle, you have to transform it into a vehicle environment. Many times that means it’s got to hang out at minus-30 on our dash in the hills of Arizona, or out in the parking lot at minus-20. You have to transform the electronics into what a vehicle can handle.”

As a result, hiring is beginning to favor the professionals with skills in electrical, versus mechanical, engineering.

“If you look at our hiring statistics,” said Kelzer, “15 years ago it was by far mostly mechanical engineers, now you’re seeing that change significantly to the electrical side.”

It’s no surprise that it remains a great employment climate in which to be an engineer.

Read the full story here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathryndill/2015/05/18/the-auto-industry-jobs-of-the-future-and-why-they-sound-more-tech-startup-than-carmaker/

Performance vehicle sales up 70% in the United States since 2009

Despite tightening emissions laws and fuel economy requirements, sales of performance cars and truck in the U.S are on the rise.

Sales of high-performance models in the U.S. have outpaced global growth since the teeth of the recession in 2009, according to Dave Pericak, director of Ford Performance.

“Performance vehicle sales around the world continue to grow — with sales up 70 percent in the United States and 14 percent in Europe since 2009,” Pericak said.

Demand for some vehicles is so white hot that automakers can’t keep up: Dodge recently announced it was suspending new orders for its 707-hp Challenger and Charger Hellcat models until it could validate orders and fulfill its backlog. And at the New York auto show, traditionally a bastion of luxury car reveals, automakers touted performance models in virtually every segment, from the affordable Ford Focus RS to the new McLaren 570S supercar.

It’s not just a desire for magazine covers and 0-to-60 bragging rights driving this trend; automakers and analysts say performance cars are good business. They offer fat profit margins and draw different, younger buyers who can spend more, and they cast a high-performance halo on an automaker’s more prosaic offerings.

Read more here: http://www.autonews.com/article/20150531/OEM/306019983/automakers-race-to-meet-sizzling-demand-for-performance-vehicles

Vehicles that last the longest

Americans spend a lot of time driving. In fact, data from the Department of Transportation confirms that Americans spend an average of 13,476 miles on their cars annually. So next time you’re in the market for a new vehicle, you should consider how many miles it will get you without major problems.

iSeeCars.com, a website that aggregates 30 million used car listings from all around the country, recently looked for all of the vehicles housed on its website from 1981-2010 that have more than 200,000 miles on the odometer in order to see which models are really going the distance for their owners. The findings, which list the 12 models with the highest percentage of 200,000-mile travelers, are quite interesting. Only one car made the list, the Honda Accord. All the rest are either trucks or SUVs.

Here are three that make the list:

  • Honda Accord
  • GMC Yukon
  • GMC Sierra

Read more for the full list.

8 dangerous things drivers admit to doing behind the wheel

Distracted driving is no joke, it has become a leading cause of accidents in recent years. But it’s not only texting, yelling at the kids, changing radio stations, singing along to a favorite song and munching on a Big Mac that are to blame. Drivers also admit to doing some pretty bizarre (and dangerous) things that take their attention off the road.

A survey conducted for Erie Insurance in Erie, Penn. found some motorists admitting to some truly indefensible activities behind the wheel, including that new scourge of Western Civilization, taking selfies with their cell phones.

In all the study found that 42 percent of all drivers admit to engaging in distracted driving behaviors, with 20 percent sheepishly admitting to such activities only when they’re alone in the vehicle.

Here’s a few of the oddest activities the motorists queried admitted to performing in traffic.

  1. Romantic encounter/PDA: 15 percent.
  2. Combing/styling hair: 15 percent.
  3. Changing clothes: 9 percent.
  4. Putting on make-up: 8 Percent.
  5. Brushing/flossing teeth: 4 percent.
  6. Taking selfies: 4 percent.
  7. Changing drivers: 3 percent.
  8. Going to the bathroom: 3 percent.

Read more here.

Takata still trying to solve defective air bag mystery

The mystery of what caused some Takata air bags to spray metal shrapnel after being triggered, killing drivers, remains unsolved after months of testing with an independent panel of engineers.

“This may not be something as simple as just one root cause,” said former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator David Kelly, who has been hired by the industry to investigate the problem.

It’s a painful, open question for families of victims and a big concern for anyone driving a car or shopping for a new or used vehicle.

Ten automakers, including the Detroit Three, are involved in a massive recall of 17 million vehicles with Takata air bags. Six deaths and more than 100 injuries have been tied to the specific air bag defect.

It’s also unclear whether the replacement air bag systems are safer. That’s because they use the same volatile chemical to inflate the bags, ammonium nitrate, that some suspect is at the heart of the problem. Other air bag manufacturers use less-volatile chemicals, but they cost more.

Chemicals are key to how an air bag operates. When the car’s sensors detect an imminent crash, the inflator — like a rocket booster — sets off a chemical charge to produce nitrogen gas that fills the air bag like a pillow. After the crash, vents in the pillow allow for a slow deflation.

Read the full story here.

Slowest states for car repairs

New car rental data from Enterprise shows which states are the slowest for car repairs following an accident.

The data comes from the Automated Rental Management System. That’s a software solution designed by Enterprise to facilitate communication between garages, customers, insurance companies, and Enterprise, “[e]nabling shops to send electronic rental reservations, vehicle status updates and automated text or email customer notifications”.

As such, ARMS is able to weed out data from folks who’ve just rented car for business trips or weekend getaways, focusing solely on those who’ve borrowed a car while theirs is in the shop. ARMS’ stats show that, on average, drivers in the Midwest receive much faster repair service than their friends in other parts of the country.

Coming in dead last is Rhode Island, a tiny state with a huge wait time for car-owners: 14.1 days. The five lowest rungs on the repair ladder include:

Texas (11.9 days)
Alaska (12.3 days)
Louisiana (12.4 days)
Massachusetts (13.5 days)
Rhode Island (14.1 days)

Read more here: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1094050_the-fastest-and-slowest-states-for-auto-repair

Want better fuel-efficiency? Trade your wheels for wings

We all want the best fuel economy. Turns out, driving isn’t the way to get it.

Although traveling by plane can be pretty daunting these days thanks to long lines at the airport and cramped quarters in the cabin, a recent study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute finds that taking flight is far more efficient than driving.

Researcher Michael Sivak bases his investigation on a measure called energy intensity, which is the amount needed to transport a single person over a distance. While cars were found to be less intense than planes in the ’70s, those numbers have completely changed, and driving had an energy intensity 2.07 times greater than domestic passenger flights in the US, according to 2012 figures.

We were still far away from making auto travel as efficient as flying was in 2012, as well. According to Sivak, the average fuel economy of the entire US light-duty fleet was 21.6 miles per gallon that year. To be in line with the energy intensity of flying, the number for cars would need to be 44.7 mpg, he calculated. We probably aren’t going to be close anytime soon, either. The UMTRI finds average new vehicle fuel economy of 25.4 mpg through March 2015 and 25.3 mpg for all of 2014.

You can keep in mind next time you’re crowded into a plane’s tiny seat that at least it’s a more energy efficient option than driving.

Read more here: http://www.autoblog.com/2015/04/29/flying-driving-energy-efficiency/

Tips for tackling your first big DIY car repair project

You’re a pro at oil and tire changes, but are you ready to tackle a bigger DIY car repair project like fixing your brakes or engine? Take the time to make sure you’re prepared.

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.

Click here for more helpful tips.

Get the best deal on your next car: here’s how

In some ways the Internet has made the task of buying a new car or truck easier, however car shoppers can still get tripped up.

It’s important to follow certain steps to make sure you get the absolute best deal on your next car and avoid falling prey to unnecessary charges and high-profit add-ons that can sour even the sweetest deal.

1. Assess Your Needs And Budget.

2. Consider Your Long-Term Costs.

3. Establish A “Target” Price.

4. Take An Interest In Financing.

5. Determine Your Car’s Trade-In Value.

6. Investigate Incentives. 

7. Get Behind The Wheel.

8. Start A Bidding War. 

9. Negotiating The Best Possible Deal. 

10. Watch Your “Back End.”

Read the full story here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2014/07/18/how-to-get-the-best-deal-on-a-new-car-without-being-taken-for-a-ride/

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