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SafetyTrending Automotive News

The Dangers of Driving on Empty

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We’ve all done it—and probably more than once. The gas light went on the last time you drove your car, but you should be able to make it to your next destination without filling up. For some of us, it’s even a game we play. Just how far can I make it before I have to fill up?

Most of the time, we get by completely unscathed, even if we putter in to the gas station. However, if you might think running out of gas on the side of the road is the worst thing that can happen, you are surely mistaken.

When you’re cruising in your car and the gas light goes on, this means that your fuel has reached the reserve level, which is 10 to 15 percent of your tank’s total capacity. Knowing that percentage will allow you to calculate how many miles until empty you actually have. Some newer cars calculate it for you, too.

It’s crucial to avoid draining your tank and running on fumes in order to maintain vehicle health, and keep you and your passengers safe. Read more about both below:

  1. Save your fuel pump. The fuel pump in your gas tank sends the fuel from the tank to the engine. This pump relies on gas in your tank to stay cool and lubricated. Without enough gas in your tank, you run the risk of overheating your fuel pump. Once that happens, you have a much bigger problem, and an even bigger bill to pay.
  1. Save your passengers. If you run out of gas, and your engine stalls, you can become completely immobilized in the middle of the road. This greatly increases your chance of being hit, or causing a collision around you. This applies to both side streets and highways. Even if you coast onto the side of the freeway or road, some cars may not see you pull over until it’s too late to slow down.
  2. Save on your insurance bill. Calling for roadside assistance is never fun, especially when you know the problem could have been avoided. While great companies such as AAA are available to help you out, you may end up paying for it in the long run. Insurance companies take into account these call outs when your premiums are due to be renewed.

Taking time to fill up at the pump can be time consuming and cause you to go out of your way. However, taking 10 minutes at the gas station can save you a bigger headache down the road.

With gas prices at record low prices, now is the time to take advantage and save both your car and a few bucks!

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SafetyTrending Automotive News

The ‘Red Light Camera’ Debate

red-light-2

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), red light cameras are making a significant difference. Their recent study, published in July of this year, found that red light camera programs in 79 large U.S. cities saved nearly 1,300 lives through 2014.

The number of car accidents not only decreased in red light crashes, but in overall fatal intersection crashes. The belief is that drivers are more cautious around intersections when they know cameras are around.

Whether red light cameras are effective is something that some cities still aren’t convinced about. However, IIHS claims that shutting down these programs, as was done in Arizona earlier this year, increased red-light-running crashes by 30 percent.

While the solution to running red lights is highly contested, the problem is widely accepted. In 2014 alone, 709 people were killed in red-light-running crashes, and 126,000 were injured.

While having red-light cameras seems like a no-brainer for the IIHS, many cities believe the reasoning behind these cameras is less about saving lives and more about revenue for the city. For example, since 2003, the city of Chicago has brought in over $500 million from red-light camera tickets.

In March 2016, Governor Doug Ducey had red-light cameras in Arizona turned off as he believed the photo-enforcement company operating in Arizona needed to obtain a private-investigators’ license since they work with citizens’ personal information.

However, in May 2016, those cameras were turned back on as Redflex, the city’s photo-enforcement contractor, began to comply with the licensing requirements. Phoenix has red-light cameras located at the city’s most dangerous intersections based on collision data from crash reports. You can find a list of all of the cameras in Arizona online.

Other cities continue to keep the cameras turned off, or are coming up with creative ways to reduce the number of tickets issued. For example, the city of Tampa, Florida found that lengthening yellow-light times led to fewer accidents and reduced ticket revenue. At one intersection, yellow lights increased from 3.9 seconds to 4.8 seconds, which dropped citations 79 percent.

Whether we agree with the approach or not, it appears that red-light cameras are here to stay in Arizona. With a red-light camera ticket costing $165, it’s best to follow the rules of the road and avoid the ticket altogether. You’ll be saving yourself the money, and potentially saving lives, as well.

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How-ToSafety

The Keys to Success: Teaching Your Kid How to Drive

teens-and-driving

You didn’t think it would sneak up on you as quickly as it did. There’s even a part of you that assumed he/she wouldn’t pass on the first—or even second—try. But here you find yourself, standing in the parking lot of the Motor Vehicle Department, with your kid holding their permit.

If your child is bold, they may ask you on the spot if they can drive you home.  Even for more timid teens, it won’t be long before they’re ready to get behind the wheel of the car and start practicing everything from driving on the freeway to parallel parking.

As most parents know, teaching your child how to drive is not a task to be taken lightly. But with the help of these tips and easy-to-follow steps below, you’ll be better prepared to hit the road with your teen in the driver’s seat.

Step 1: Make sure your car is in mint condition.

Between working full-time, picking your kids up from one activity to take them to the next, and still managing to find time for yourself, life is busy. While keeping your car in good condition is on the top of most people’s priority list, life sometimes gets in the way, and suddenly you’re a few weeks overdue for an oil change.

Before you assume your new position in the passenger’s seat, it’s important to find an auto repair shop near you to make sure your car is up for the challenge. Have them change your oil (if you need it), fill your tires with air, and make sure the steering wheel alignment is right on.

Need a solid recommendation? Visit www.garagefly.com to find an auto repair shop you can trust your car with. Best part? You can read reviews of their shop before you book!

Step 2: Scope out the perfect location.

Taking your child for their first drive down a busy street during rush hour probably isn’t the best way to get off on the right foot. While this is definitely what you want to work up to, it’s better to start small. Find a high school, church, or business parking lot near you and head there with your child after hours. This is the ideal place to teach them everything from maintaining speed to backing into a parking space. And, if you’re feeling super optimistic, you can even set up cones and practice some more in-depth driving skills.

Step 3: Have your kid name the car.

We know—this next step sounds totally crazy. We promise, there is a method behind our madness! Sometimes giving something a name is the best way for your student driver to start taking responsibility for it. While it may be your car, you don’t want your child to refer to it as “my mom’s car” the entire time they’re learning to drive. Even if they aren’t the owner, they need to own the responsibility of the vehicle and respect the process of learning to drive it.

Not to mention, this is a fun way to kick off the teaching/learning dynamic. Learning to drive can be stressful for everyone, so giving your car the name “Steve” or “Betty” can be a great way to ease any tension, and help your teen see the car as their own.

Step 4: Prepare for the worst.

As much as we hate to think about it, accidents happen. This is especially true when you’re dealing with a new driver. From running into a light pole when you’re first learning to park, to knocking off one of the side mirrors as your backing out of the garage, there’s a good chance your car won’t come out of this process unscathed.

Rather than stressing out when the damage has been done, go in with a plan! GarageFly partners with amazing auto body shops all over Arizona. Before letting your kid take you for a spin, visit our website and simply enter your zip code. This will bring up a list of trusted auto body shops in your neighborhood. And just like the auto repair shops, you can read reviews and even book an appointment online! This is just another way to eliminate the stress of an inexperienced driver.

Step 5: Try to relax.

We know how elementary this step seems, but it may actually be the most crucial. When your teen is learning to drive, relaxed is probably the last thing they’re feeling. Emotions ranging from excited to scared to everything in between, your driver could use a calming force in the car.

Believe us—we know how tempting is it to pump the imaginary brake or begin reaching for the wheel, but actions like that will only spook your child. Instead, take a deep breath before getting in the car, and encourage your teen that this process isn’t as scary as it seems. When they see that you’re calm and collected, they’ll start to feel themselves relax, making them better equipped to hit the road.

While teaching your kid to drive can be overwhelming, following the steps listed above will lead to a successful and rewarding experience for both you and your teen!

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Safety

4 Overlooked Tips to Drive Safer

cars-on-freeway

On any given day, many people can spend up to an hour and a half driving in their car. Errands, work or shuffling children, it’s all part of the daily routine. The familiarity and habit of getting behind the wheel can give us a false sense of security or even a complacent attitude about the inherent dangers of driving. Here are 4 tips or reminders that can help you stay safe on the road.

  1. Don’t slam the breaks when you get a flat.
    Fight the instinct to slam on the brakes if you find yourself with a blowout. Driving safety experts say the sudden stop could cause you to fishtail or even cause your car to flip. The safest response to a blowout is to take your foot off the accelerator and coast to the shoulder of the road. You may damage your rim, but it could also keep you safe.
  2. Keep your headlights on.
    When other drivers can clearly see you they are less likely to pull out in front of you and are generally more aware of your proximity to them. Visibility creates a barrier of safety and according to driving studies, it can decrease your chances of being in an accident by roughly 30%.
  3. Proper placement of your side-view mirrors keeps you safer.
    Drivers often neglect to use side mirrors to properly. This results in larger, unnecessary blind spots. Here’s an easy check for drivers: If you can see any part of your car in your side-view mirrors they aren’t placed properly.
  4. Loud music can actually compromise your driving safety.
    It’s been shown that loud music is not only distracting, but it can eliminate your primary focus on the roadway. While common, it is routinely a contributing factor to accidents of all types.

While these tips may be vaguely familiar from years of driving, a reminder can be critical in keeping you, your passengers and other drivers around you, safe.

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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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SafetyTrending Automotive News

3 Common Car Seat Safety Mistakes

car-seat

Take a look at the cars whizzing by you. Many of them have children on board. Not a particularly shocking observation. However, what is surprising is that for every 10 of those cars, 7 have child safety restraints installed incorrectly or being used wrong. 70% is a chilling number. The good news is, a little education and the safety of the young passengers can be dramatically improved. Here are some commonly overlooked dangers:

The LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children)
This system is intended to make it easier to install car seats properly. But, many people make the mistake of using both the LATCH and the seatbelt. It’s also intended to be used only in certain seats. Here’s a little known fact according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, LATCH has not been proven to be a safer option than a properly installed seat belt on a child restraint.

SWITCHING CAR SEATS TOO SOON
This happens when parents take their 1 year olds and turn them forward facing in the car seat. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics started recommending that kids stay sitting backwards for at least two years.   This is despite the child’s weight or height. The concern is that in the event of an accident which might only cause serious whiplash for an adult, it could actually have fatal consequences for a young child.

The same is also true for moving to the next stage of child restraints. Often, parents will eagerly anticipate the day they can move to a booster seat instead of a larger 5 point harness car seat. It’s viewed by some parents as “easier”, but according to safety experts, not safer.

EXPIRED OR RECALLED SAFETY SEATS
Your cheese has an expiration date and guess what? So does your car seat.   You can find it on the bottom of the seat. As a general rule, it’s about 6 years. So, if you have gaps in ages of your children, you may not be able to pass them down all the way to your family’s caboose. Primary reason for expirations are the plastic and other parts of it can wear out and be compromised by extreme temperatures. You also need to replace seats which haven’t expired if you have been in a car crash. Your insurance company will usually take care of the cost.

With a few of these safety tips in mind, you should also consider visiting a fire department if you have questions about installation. Generally, they have trained staff on proper installation. The most important thing to remember is that even the most expensive child safety seat can’t protect your child if it’s not properly installed.

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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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Auto RepairSafetyTrending Automotive News

5 Tips to Keep Your Tires ‘Summer Safe’

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The scorching summer months in the southwest can turn any perfectly paved roadway into a heat street with potentially dangerous results for you and the only part of your vehicle that touches the road.   Heat related tire blow-outs and flats are the cause of more than 11,000 crashes per year, a number the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says can be reduced if drivers properly care for the tires on their vehicles.

Taking cues from the NHTSA, Here are some simple maintenance measures that can go a long way to protect your safety and those sharing the road with you.

Inflation
Check air pressure when tires are not hot. Let your car sit for at least 3 hours out of the sun, in the early morning if you don’t have a shaded parking area or when the car has been driven less than a mile. Keep it inflated to the recommendations for the car listed in the manual.

Tread
Tires should be replaced when less than 1/16th of tread is left. Remember that front tires of a front-wheel-drive vehicle will wear more quickly than those on the rear axle.

Road damage
Remove foreign objects imbedded in the tire. Glass, gravel and other debris can work deeper in to the tread and cause a flat. But, if you find a nail or other sharp object stuck in your tire, have a professional remove it and seal the puncture.

Valve and rim
Each valve stem should have a cap to keep out moisture and dirt and to keep the valve core from being accidentally depressed, thus leaking air. Also check valve stems for cuts and scrapes which could cause leaks. Check the rim for dents and rust which can lead to leaks or blowouts.

Spare tire and tools
Be sure the spare is properly inflated. The temporary tire should not be used at speeds of more than 50 miles per hour and its tread life is only about 3,000 miles. Be sure all the parts for your jack are in place and you know how to use them.

Keeping your tires in good shape can be good for your wallet too. Proper tire maintenance can increase gas mileage and decrease wear and tear to your tires and car. If you need to purchase new tires, some of our GarageFly shops sell them. A look through shop detail pages can let you know if a shop near you offers this service.

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SafetyTrending Automotive News

The ‘Light’er Side of Things

cars-in-tunnel

When you think of car care, you likely think about a lot of things; tires, fluids, air conditioning, engines, and brakes. But, believe it or not, the lights on your car contribute to keeping safe when driving.

Sure, if a taillight goes out you’re not going to get stranded, but you could risk getting hit from behind. So, drivers should pay particular attention to maintaining the lights to keep their car in great shape.

There is no specific time to get your lights replaced. Often times, it’s simply when a headlamp or taillight goes out. Still, there are many other lights needed to drive your car safely.

Take a look:

  • Headlamps
  • Taillights
  • Reverse lights
  • Brake lights
  • High beams
  • Blinkers
  • License plate light
  • Emergency flashers

Another consideration to have the safest lights possible is to have clean, bright lights.   There are plenty of good products on the market to clean clouded light covers.

The best time to address your car’s lighting system is when you do your routine maintenance on your car.

To schedule an appointment with a GarageFly shop nearest you, visit our website.

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Auto RepairSafety

3 Fluids to Keep Your Car Running

oil-in-car

Whether it’s your body or your car, fluids keep you in good shape. Regarding your car, there are three main fluids to really keep an eye on with your trusted mechanic.   These fluids help your brakes and engine tremendously. Here’s an overview of the top three fluids to keep your car in good shape:

Brake Fluid
A key component to safe braking is proper brake fluid. If your car is low on brake fluid, not only will the performance of your car be compromised, your safety can too. Hydraulic braking systems use fluid to perform, so keep this in mind when you schedule maintenance.

Motor Oil
If there is one fluid that trumps them all, motor oil is it. It is perhaps the most important fluid to keep your engine running. It’s used to lubricate your engine when its running, helps keep the parts moving in it and keeps your car running longer. The two things to keep in mind are levels and frequency. You want to make sure you always have enough oil and you change it as often as your manufacturer recommends.

Antifreeze
Antifreeze is another vital car fluid which is mixed with water and added to your car’s cooling system.  Antifreeze is able to prevent your engine from freezing up during very cold weather. To maintain the performance of your car, you should be sure to check your antifreeze levels regularly.

Our GarageFly partners can help you check and maintain all of the fluid levels in your car. To find the shop closest to you, click HERE.

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