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New Year Resolutions 2017: Driving Edition

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It wouldn’t be the start of a new year without making resolutions. Even if we know deep down in our heart that we have no intention of keeping said resolutions, we still make them. Consider them a rite of passage at this point.

From cussing less to going to the gym more, we’re normally pretty good until late January, and then the wheels come off. Unless, that is, you’re one of those annoying individuals who actually manages to keep their resolutions. In which case, this article isn’t for you, and we all resent you.

So keeping in the spirit of the new year, the GarageFly team has come up with resolutions for driving and our vehicles that we sure hope we abide by, but aren’t going to beat ourselves up over come February:

  1. We will no longer be backseat drivers.
    I know, I know, we’re starting off with a biggie. How is it that even though we all complain when someone else is being a backseat driver, we ourselves are backseat drivers? There is no use in denying it; we all do it. And in some ways, it makes sense. When someone isn’t driving the way you think everyone should drive, you have to speak up…right? Not in 2017. No, in 2017 we are going to sit in the backseat (or front seat, for that matter) and keep our mouths shut. Unless an accident is imminent. Then definitely speak up.
  1. We will no longer see how long we can drive on empty.
    The gaslight turns on. You are dangerously close to empty. What does the 2016 version of you do? Wait until you actually hit E and then estimate how far you can go on fumes. But that’s the old you. The new version of you sees the gaslight turn on, and immediately finds a gas station on your route. Sure, it might be freezing out and close to midnight, but you’re committed to your 2017 driving resolutions.
  2. We will actually start using our turn signals.
    This resolution is hard to make because it means we have to admit to doing it, or not doing it in this case. It’s not like the 2016 version of us never used our turn signals. There’s just room for improvement. So in 2017, we’re going to be perfect. We’re going to use our turn signal when changing lanes, when we’re in turn lanes, heck, we’ll even use it when pulling into a parking space. This is the year of the turn signal.
  3. We’ll get our car washed more than twice a year.
    We can’t be the only ones who only got our car washed when a weird funk took over the interior, or when we had guests coming in from out of town to visit. It’s not like we don’t love a clean car. Honestly, is there anything better? It’s just one of those things that the 2016 version of ourselves felt like we could put off until six months had passed. The 2017 version of us will only wait three months, though. We won’t go too crazy, but once a quarter wouldn’t kill us, right?
  4. We will merge when it says to merge, not wait until we’re forced to.
    It’s a sick game we play. We wait to see just how many cars we can pass before we’re forced into a merging situation. Even though we know this is one of the leading causes of traffic (the inability to merge when told, that is), we still wait and see just how long we can make it in the current lane we’re in. In 2017, we’re going to be proactive. No more cruising by until the last minute. Nope, not us. When we see that yellow sign to start merging, we are turning our blinker on (you didn’t forget about resolution #3, did you?) and heading into the appropriate lane.

So, who’s with us? We may not be able to keep all of these resolutions, or even any of them past February 1st, but it’s worth a shot.

From GarageFly to you, Happy New Year! Let’s make it a great one.

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Auto BodyLifeStyle

The Future of Online Review Platforms

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Do the names John and Jen Palmer sound familiar? If they don’t already, you’re about to take notice. This Utah-based couple is the reason President Obama signed the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 into law earlier this month.

The story begins in 2008. John purchased an item for his wife, Jen, from an online company called KlearGear. After the product never arrived, and after numerous failed attempts to work it out with their customer service department, the Palmer’s posted a negative review online about the company.

Fast-forward four years, and the Palmers were being harassed by KlearGear to remove the review, saying it went against the ‘non-disparagement’ clause in their terms of service. If they didn’t comply, they’d be hit with a $3,500 fine.

The couple refused, and a few months later noticed that the fine had been passed on to a collection agency, and their credit had taken a major hit. With the help of Public Citizen, a consumer rights advocacy group, the Palmers won a default judgment in federal court and had their credit restored.

This KlearGear case attracted significant media coverage, and led to legislators around the country to take action. California led the charge by outlawing non-disparaging clauses back in 2014.

President Obama signed the Consumer Review Fairness Act into law on December 14th, and it states that a contract is void if it “prohibits or restricts an individual who is a party to such a contract from engaging in written, oral, or pictorial reviews, or other similar performance assessments of analyses of, including by electronic means, the goods, services, or conduct of a person that is also a party to the contract.”

While this law sets out to protect the consumer, other online-based companies are doing their part to ensure the brands are protected, as well. For example, online marketplace Amazon has placed a limit on the number of reviews shopper can leave on the site.

In an effort to put an end to false feedback, individuals can now only write five reviews a week for items they did not purchase on Amazon. The new rule is meant to make it very difficult for people who are trying to make money by selling fake reviews.

When it comes to fake reviews, both brands and consumers are to blame. Kellogg’s was the latest brand to be ousted for using individuals to promote their brands on social media and review sites. Referred to as the “Breakfast Council,” the group included nutritionists and other experts who received an average of $13,000 a year to “review Kellogg’s products, post favorable reviews on social media, and use ‘talking points’ provided by the company in their reviews.”

So where does this leave brands and consumers? With 84 percent of online customers trusting online reviews, it’s imperative that brands pay attention to their online reputation. It’s also crucial that reviews be verified, as they are on GarageFly.com, to ensure that the individuals leaving the review have actually received the service or product.

The new law, as well as changes made by large online companies, is just the latest in the story of online reviews. What we do know is that they are here to stay, and new regulations must be made to ensure both brands and consumers are protected and receiving accurate information.

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LifeStyleUncategorized

Experience the Holidays in Your Neighborhood

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For many, this truly is the most wonderful time of the year. With the weather finally cooling off in Arizona, we’re able to unpack our sweaters, turn on the fireplace, and make a cup of hot cocoa.

While the spirit of the holidays is most certainly alive in your household, communities in Arizona are joining in on the fun! Check out events happening in your neighborhood to maximize the festivities for your family this season:

  1. Christmas at the Princess (Scottsdale): At this point, most of us have gone to ZooLights either at the Phoenix Zoo or Reid Park Zoo in Tucson. But did you know that the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort has one of the best light displays in Arizona? With 2.8 million LED lights, a skating rink, and magical snowfalls, you won’t want to miss this one!

  1. Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair (Tucson): This Winter Street Fair is home to more than 400 arts and crafts booths, food and drink vendors, musicians, and so much more! With over 60,000 fair goers each year, this is a great community event!
  2. Luminaria Nights (Phoenix and Tucson): The Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix and the Tucson Botanical Gardens both host Luminaria Nights during the month of December. With live music and over 7,000 luminaries, this event is especially great for those who love the gorgeous landscape of Arizona.
  1. Holiday Nights at Tohono Chul (Tucson): On Friday and Saturday nights at Tohono Chul Park, individuals can enjoy live music, tasty hot chocolate and baked goods, and over one million lights. You can also peruse the Museum gift shop to find the perfect holiday gifts for your loved ones.
  2. CitySkate Ice Rink (Downtown Phoenix): Love to ice skate but can’t find a place outdoors to do it? Look no further! Downtown Phoenix is home to the CitySkate Ice Rink. Smack dab in the middle of downtown, you’ll be surrounded by great restaurants, lights, and music.
  3. The Polar Express (Grand Canyon): Board a magical train and sip hot chocolate, munch on chocolate chip cookies, and listen to the story of the Polar Express as you head to meet Santa and his reindeer. Perfect for children, and children at heart, this is a great way to build excitement for Christmas morning.

  4. Hometown Christmas Parade (Glendale): On Saturday, December 10th, block out your calendar for the Glendale Hometown Christmas Parade. With American Idol winner and Arizona native Jordin Sparks serving as the Grand Marshall, you’ll be wowed by the colorful floats and live music!
  5. The Nutcracker (Phoenix and Tucson): Are you a fan of the ballet? Or simply consumed with the magic of the holidays present in the Nutcracker? Join Clara and her Nutcracker Prince as they embark on a thrilling adventure of dancing toys, mischievous mice, and sparkling snowflakes.
  6. Fantasy of Lights Boat Parade (Tempe): Do you love food trucks, face painting, and selfies with Santa? Then this parade is for you! See 50 festively-lighted boats of all sizes, and a firework finale when you attend this free event in Tempe!
  7. Glendale Glitters (Glendale): Illuminating 16 blocks of Historic Downtown Glendale, 1.5 million LEDs can be enjoyed for free by any and all. Making it the largest free holiday display in Arizona, Glendale Glitters has everything from holiday gifts to a petting zoo! Great for all ages.

These are just a few events happening in Arizona this year! What are some of your family favorites? Be sure to comment below and add yours!

From the GarageFly team to you, happy holidays!

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LifeStyleSafetyUncategorized

Driving Sober: The Best Way to Spread Holiday Cheer

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The holiday season, specifically between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, is all about spreading holiday cheer. As the turkey is cooking, and close loved ones begin to arrive, the bottles of wine are opened, and the festive cocktails are served.

Every holiday season, organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) stress the importance of driving sober. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that nearly 1,000 people will be injured or killed due to drunk driving between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, a rate two to three times higher than the rest of the year.

With Arizona’s ‘zero tolerance’ DUI laws, and the possibility of killing yourself or others on the road, follow these tips to stay safe this holiday season.

1. Be extra cautious the night before Thanksgiving.

Blackout Wednesday, which occurs the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, is one of the biggest drinking days of the years. With businesses closed the next day, and college kids home for break, the bars are packed. In fact, accidents from Blackout Wednesday to Black Friday account for more than 400 traffic deaths each year.

With the high volume of traffic on the road, it’s important to have a ride set up to come get you when the night ends before you have your first sip of alcohol. Whether you call a cab or appoint a designated driver in the group, this crucial step will certainly save lives.

2. Download the Uber and Lyft mobile apps.

With companies such as Uber and Lyft, there is no excuse for drunk driving. While there may be ‘surge pricing’ during the holiday season, the cost of taking an Uber or Lyft ride is significantly cheaper than a traditional cab, and definitely cheaper than a DUI ticket. Both user-friendly apps allow you to plug in your credit card information, and request a ride from your current location. You’ll know the price of your ride before you even get in the car.

3. Stay aware.

Even if you’re sober on the road, you can’t guarantee everyone else is. Take extra precautions at stop lights, waiting a few seconds after the light turns green to enter the intersection. If you notice someone driving erratically, call 911 to report the driver. Finally, make sure you’re aware of the individuals you’re at your holiday gathering with. If you notice your cousin or aunt grabbing his/her keys after a few drinks, make sure you step in for everyone’s safety.

The holidays should be a time of community, celebration, and laughter. Don’t let an unavoidable accident ruin a treasured time. Stay safe and look out for those around you to make your holiday season as merry and bright as possible!

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How-ToLifeStyle

Getting Involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Nearly 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. With a staggering statistic like that, it’s safe to say that most everyone knows at least one person who has or had breast cancer.

Breast cancer isn’t just a disease that impacts women, though. It’s estimated that in 2016, 2,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men.

Since 1985, October has been recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With different walks you can participate in, or businesses you can support during this month, there are plenty of ways to get involved in your area.

  1. Donate your car. We’re kicking this list off with a biggie! Susan G. Komen has a program where individuals can donate their vehicle to raise money for breast cancer research. When sold, 75% of the proceeds go to the local Komen affiliate in Phoenix, and the other 25% go towards research on the national level.
  1. Walk for the cure. On October 22 at Tempe Beach Park, the American Cancer Society will be hosting “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer,” a three-mile walk to raise awareness and dollars for finding a cure for breast cancer. This family event begins at 8 AM and has already raised over $192,000.
  1. Eat at the right places. Many restaurants will feature a “Pink Ribbon” item during the month of October. When these select items are ordered, a percentage of that purchase will be donated to breast cancer research. Be sure to ask the restaurants you eat at how they’re participating!
  2. Stretch it out. In partnership with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the City of Hope is hosting “Yoga for Hope” at Chase Field. On November 5, join top yoga instructors in Arizona on centerfield as they raise money for cancer! Ticket are $30 and City of Hope is aiming to raise $50,000.
  1. Encourage the women in your life to get tested. According to the American Medical Association, women 40 years and older should be getting routine mammograms. Encourage your sisters, wife, daughters, and any other women in your life to talk to their doctor and get tested. Early detection is key.

Breast cancer is something that affects all of us. Joining together with your local community to raise awareness and money for the cure is key! We can all make a difference.

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LifeStyleSafety

Back to School Driving Safety

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Yellow school buses, backpacks and children riding bicycles. That’s what’s popping up in neighborhoods everywhere, as students of all ages head back to school. Despite our rushed schedules and potentially distracted driving, it’s more important than ever to slow down and make some changes to your driving habits around schools in the morning and after school.

There are 3 situations to be keenly aware of to keep students safe:

  1. Drop Off Times
    Be aware of drop off times at schools on your morning commute. Children will be riding bikes, busses will be stopping in neighborhoods and parents dropping off students may be rushing children to school. This combination opens drivers up to a host of potential hazards, if they aren’t conscientious about driving habits.
  2. Sharing the Road with Children
    Children will be walking and riding bikes to school. And while parents teach children to look both ways and be aware of approaching cars, young children are vulnerable because they are unaware of the behaviors of drivers. Children take unnecessary risks and drivers should be prepared for that. Additionally, drivers who illegally pass a stopped bus can result in children being struck by a car.
  3. Bicycle Basics
    Generally speaking, bicyclists adhere to the same rules as cars. But, with children they are often unaware of the rules of the road and are also smaller and more difficult to see. To keep young bicyclists safe, keep a safe distance between your car and the child riding the bike. Look for bike riders turning in front of you. Check your side mirrors and look for bicyclists darting across the street.

Here are some final tips from the National Safety Council:

  •  In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
  • Always stop for a crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
  • Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians

With a little bit of concern and caution as students head back to school, you can help keep everyone safe in school zones.

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LifeStyleSafetyTravel

Summer Emergency Car Kit: What’s In Yours?

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If the heat alone wasn’t incentive enough to drive out of town, lower gas prices certainly will motivate you to pack the car and hit the road. This summer, gas prices are expected to be the lowest we’ve seen in 13 years. And if Memorial Day’s more than 35 million road warriors was any indication of the summer travel trend, you aren’t alone packing the car with an emergency car kit.

A trip to a GarageFly mechanic before you leave town is best way to prevent problems or break-downs. But, even with a smooth running car, it’s a good idea to have an emergency car kit. Purchase a clear plastic bin that fits easily in your car and place the following in it. It’s better to have it and not need it.

  •  Water – one gallon plus one bottle per person
  • Phone charger
  •  Snacks – energy bars, unsalted nuts, dried fruit
  •  Sunscreen and/or a wide-brim hat
  •  Reflective emergency blanket – can be used for shade
  •  First aid kit
  •  Flashlight or headlamp (hand-crank flashlights are ideal for emergencies)
  •  Pocket knife/multi-tool kit
  •  Visibility equipment (flares or reflective hazard triangles)
  •  Jumper cables or portable battery charger (also called a ‘jump box’)
  •  Tire sealant
  •  Tire pressure gauge
  •  Tow strap
  •  Fuses
  •  Tool kit (assemble a kit with commonly used tools like screwdrivers, pliers and a few wrenches)
  •  Duct tape
  •  Rag
  •  Gloves
  •  Windshield sunshade
  •  Towel to place on hot pavement when changing a tire
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LifeStyleTravel

10 Road Trip Travel Hacks

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Road trips can be both beautiful and stressful. There are many things to keep track of and longer trips can create logistical challenges to keep everything organized in a moving car.

We’ve tracked down some of the best ideas to help you the next time you take a vacation by car. Call them tips, hacks or just a pretty good idea, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is how well they can work for you!

  1. Turn a plastic cereal container into a trash can for your car
    Line it with a small plastic bag to be used to gather the trash. Here are some examples: Plastic cereal containers 
  2. Take cell phone screen saves of maps and directions.
    Save the phone battery and possible charges in your data by taking a picture of where you’re headed. Then you won’t drain your battery quickly on long road trips.
  3. Consider a solar window charger.  
    Speaking of dead phone batteries, you can actually use the sun to charge your battery. We found these solar chargers which stick to the window and use a solar charge.
  4. 5-port car charger.
    If solar isn’t your thing, you can try out this charger which can ‘juice up’ 5 phones at once. Gone are the days of bickering over who can charge their cellphone. Check the multi-plug chargers here.
  5. Use the dash without things sliding.
    Sometimes you simply don’t feel like there is enough room for all the little things that accumulate during a road trip. We found Sticky Pads which can be put on a dashboard, so you can place your phone or other small items without fear of them falling and sliding.
  6. Plastic suction shower caddy = Personal Organization.
    Pick up a small shower organizer with suctions on it and adhere it to the windows of all your passengers. It’s a great place to store phones, ear buds, small toys, snacks and gum. Something like this would work great: Plastic suction caddy and here’s another option.
  7. Buy a larger shower caddy with a handle and use it to hold your fast food.
    If everyone has a small caddy, once you take the burgers and meals out of the bag, they can place the food in their personal caddy to keep it from falling all over the seats. When you’re done eating, throw the trash in the plastic cereal container. Here’s an inexpensive option: Shower caddy
  8. Create a car sick bag
    In a gallon Ziploc bag put: travel size Clorox wipes, small bottle of water, small bottle of Gatorade, hand sanitizer, motion sickness pills, saltines, a grocery bag, a larger folded trash bag, and a handful of folded paper towels. If someone gets sick in the car, you’re ready to handle it!
  9. Emergency contacts on your cell phone lock screen.
    Change your phone’s lock screen to an image of your emergency contact’s name, number and email address. If you lose your phone or have a medical emergency, the person who finds your phone will be able to contact you or someone you know.
  10. Use dryer sheets to air out the car.
    If your car needs a ‘breath of fresh air’, let the dryer sheets do the work. Stick them slightly into the vents or simply keep an open box in the car. You’ll be surprised how fresh your car can stay smelling!

There are so many ways to make your road trip one to enjoy and remember. Above all, be safe driving and make sure to take care of the maintenance before you set out to travel the highways.

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LifeStyleTravel

5 Arizona Road Trips Worth Taking

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With summer break upon us, it begs for a road trip to see some of Arizona’s state gems. Grab your keys and get ready to hit the road with 5 day trips worth taking!

  1. Arizona’s Wine Country

You don’t have to head to northern California to experience the charm in a day of wine tasting. Page Spring Cellars offers weekend tours of one of their vineyards. Just drive north toward Flagstaff on I-17 North. Exit 293 and head to Cornville Road. This well-known local winery actually grow grapes across the state not only up north, from Verde Valley to Southeast Arizona. Tours at the Page Springs Cellars start at $12 and you can find out more information here.

  1. Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

This drive will take you 10 miles north of Payson off of State Route 87. Be prepared to be wowed with the size and scale of this natural bridge. The travertine structure is the largest in the world, according to AZstateparks.com at 183 feet high over a tunnel measuring 400 feet long and 150 wide! You’ll have opportunities to hike trails to the creek banks and also to an observation deck under the bridge. For more information visit azstateparks.com/Parks/TONA

  1. Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Want to see Arizona’s prized botanical garden? Then, your drive will take you roughly 55 miles east of Phoenix on U.S. 60, near Superior.   This park is home to more than 320 acres and dates back to the 1920’s. Here, is where you’ll see all that the Sonoran Desert has to boast about in desert flora and fauna. 3000 different types vegetation growing along a walking trail more than a mile long. For more information visit azstateparks.com/Parks/BOTH

  1. Superstition Mountains

This range is not only hugely popular but also breathtakingly beautiful. The drive is an easy one, by way of the U.S. 60 past Apache Junction to Peralta Road. Turn north and drive roughly 8 miles to the beginning of the trail. The Superstitions are huge, 24 miles east to west and roughly 12 miles north to south with a variety of trails for all skill levels. Peralta Trailhead draws the largest number of hikers. To find out more information visit here. 

  1. Saguaro Lake

Even for those who are avid boaters, Saguaro Lake offers a wonderful opportunity for a day road- trip. This drive will take you up State Route 87 to Bush Highway. Signs will get you to parking at the lake. You’ll find a restaurant, picnic tables, and boat rentals at the marina. You can even enjoy a trip to see the lake aboard a guided cruise starting at $12 and young children are free.  Stocked fishing is also an option with rainbow trout, largemouth bass and catfish. You can get more information here.

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LifeStyleTechnologyTrending Automotive News

5 Car Care Apps for Drivers

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You probably spend far more time traveling in your car than you really want to. But, with busy lives and people on the go, it’s a necessary evil. We tracked down 5 popular Apps that help keep you on top of everything you need to know and do for your car.

AccuFuel
This 99-cent app will help you track your fuel usage and determine which of your cars is the biggest gas-guzzler. It also works to see if your hybrid is saving you money.

GasBuddy Free
This free app helps you locate the cheapest gas near you and report gas prices to other drivers. You also get the chance to win $100 free in daily gas.

Auto Care Free
This app helps track your car’s service and gas fill-ups. It also helps remind you when you are due for service and keep track of your maintenance history. This app will cost you $5.99

GreenMeter
This $5.99 app featured in NY Times, LA Times and other national publications, measures your vehicle’s power and fuel usage to show you how efficiently you are driving your car.

Speedometer Free Speed Box
This is a free app that is a speedometer, compass and odometer for your iPhone. It also tracks your speed and distance for you. It’s free, but there is also a version for $3.99 with a few more features.

We don’t know exactly how well these apps will work for your particular make or model, but for those who like to try out new apps and also keep close tabs on their car, there might be a match in one of these for you.

Regardless, GarageFly’s mission is to help you find a shop to help you in all areas of your car care. To find the closest shop to you in 10 seconds, visit our website.

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