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36 posts from February 2009

February 27, 2009

Don't get caught out in the cold with a dead car battery!

When the temperatures dip below 0-degrees F, my auto repair shop receives early morning phone calls crying for 'help' because of cars not starting. Here are some illuminating statistics by the Battery Council International that explain why so many car batteries die on those frigid winter mornings:

  • At 32-degrees F, a fully-charged battery has only 65 percent of its power available.
  • But at temperatures of 0-degrees F, this battery has only 40 percent and at -32 F it only has 25 percent of its available power.

Automotive batteries don't last forever. If your headlights are dimming, it's been three to five years since you got a new battery, or the car needs a jump-start,  it might be time for a new battery. But, before you spend time and money installing a new battery I think it's a good idea to make sure the battery is the culprit. It could be that your battery, is all dirty with corrosion and the terminal connections are poor. If you left a light on the battery could just be run down. Your car could also have a problem with the electrical system, the alternator, or the starter and you wouldn't know unless you had it tested by an auto technician. Similar problems can arise during extremely hot weather as well.

Bs_4262-grungy-batteryCan You Change The Battery Yourself?
Sure you could. Changing a car's battery is no harder then replacing a tire or changing the oil of your car.  You only need a good wrench, latex gloves, rags and goggles. You can find instructions and a video tutorial at The only real problem with changing your own battery is that nine out ten times the battery dies when the weather is frigid cold and snowing. This means that you would have to change the battery out in the winter elements. Not my idea of a good time.

Four important factors to help you choose the right battery.

  1. Size: Batteries come in different sizes to fit the car's battery tray based on height, width and length of the battery. It is really important that the battery fit snugly and securely. To find out the appropriate battery size for your car look in the owner's manual or consult the reference guides provided at auto part stores.
  2. Reserve Capacity: Reserve capacity rating (RC) refers to the amount of minutes the battery can continuously supply minimum power to keep your car running if the alternator stops working. Again, the owner's manual tells you the exact RC rating that your car can handle.
  3. Cold-Cranking Amps: Choosing a battery with a high number of Cold-Cranking Amps (CCA)  is very important in Vermont. CCA indicates how much electrical power the car battery has to send to the car's starter at zero degrees Fahrenheit. A higher CCA assures that your car's engine will start on those super cold winter mornings.
  4. Replacement Warranties: Most batteries come with a free replacement period, which after expired, gives you a   prorated credit. It's important to choose a battery with the longest free-replacement period you can get. A battery warranty code of 24/84, for instance, indicates a free-replacement period of 24 months and a prorated warranty of 84 months.

Car_battery_artistic_flickr.com_photos_joshuarothhaas_3099635231  Automotive Basics: How Batteries Work
While I won't bore you with the inner workings of how a car battery actually works, I will tell you that basically a car's battery converts chemical energy into electrical energy. It is amazing that lead-acid batteries used in today's modern automobiles have remained largely unchanged since Raymond Gaston Plante invented them back in 1860 - over 140 years ago!

Every time you put your key in the ignition, turn on the car and hear the sweet sound of an engine running you can thank your car's battery.  It also has the job of keeping itself recharged and powers the car's lights and other accessories.

Car batteries have the highest recycling rate out of all recycled materials!
According to Battery Council International, a typical new battery contains anywhere from 60 to 80 percent recycled plastic and lead, reducing the overall consumption of raw materials that would be required otherwise. This is a wonderful thing because the lead in car batteries is very toxic and not something we want floating around in our environment.

If you get your car battery replaced at a service center, they will recycle it for you. If you buy a car battery and install it yourself, the store where you buy it will charge you a core-deposit that will be given back to you when you bring them your old battery to be recycled.

Before you take a long trip or once a year at your car's annual exam have your battery tested. Replacing it before it dies will save you a lot of time, stress and money down the road.

Safe and Happy Motoring,

Amy-Mattinat-with-a-tool Amy Mattinat
Owner: Auto Craftsmen Ltd. Automotive Expert Advisor
Check out my blog at

Amy Mattinat is on the advising board of Her career in the automotive industry began at Auto Craftsmen Ltd., an independent Import Dealership located in Montpelier, Vermont. Over the years Amy has done almost every job in the place. From cleaning lady to mechanic's helper, bookkeeping and marketing, to salesperson and service advisor; from part-time to full time, she took on more and more responsibility until she became so integrated in the life of the business and the customers that she was asked to become a business partner. Amy is passionate about creating Automotive Excellence within her business and feels that good communication is the essence of being able to explain, suggest and fix any problem her clients may have.

February 26, 2009

Volvo's New XC60 Tours the United States, "From Sweden with Lov"

2010-volvo-xc60-front AskPatty had the opportunity last week to experience the so-new-you-can't-have-one-yet XC60 crossover in Volvo's "From Sweden with Lov Tour" at one of its stops at our local Volvo dealership in Calabasas, California. What an amazing car! It's not just beautiful, though; it's full of the cutting-edge safety features for which Volvo is known, including a new technology called "City Safety" which is so amazing it will actually STOP THE CAR for you!

Volvo_three-point-seatbelt_5691 Volvo has dedicated its entire automaking existence on building amazing safety into its beautiful vehicles. Did you know that the "Volvo Saved My Life club" has more than 100,000 members?   Here's another interesting tidbit: Did you know that it was Nils Bohlin, a Volvo engineer, who invented a particular type of three-point seat belt which became standard equipment on Volvos in 1958? What's even more cool, is that Volvo shared his patented safety technology with all automakers so that all drivers could benefit from the additional safety that has since become standard equipment in all cars sold these days! Volvo estimated the three-point seatbelt technology had saved more than a million lives in its first 25 years of use!

2010_volvo_xc60-rearVolvo's Love Tour is being presented by product specialists Celesta Davis and Jason Megalizzi, who are visiting a total of 50 dealerships along the West Coast. The team is transporting three XC60 crossover vehicles as well as interactive multimedia exhibits, to give consumers first-hand demonstrations of the Volvo that stops itself using City Safety, the world's first standard automatic braking system.

Continue reading "Volvo's New XC60 Tours the United States, "From Sweden with Lov"" »

February 25, 2009

Women Everywhere Read This: Top Auto Accident Statistics

800px-Car_Accident According to Online Lawyer Source, vehicular accidents pose a serious threat to the public and auto accident statistics are the leading cause of death for people under the age of 34. Leading cause? This is something serious to consider. For all the moms out there, you need to pay attention for a few minutes while we review these stats. And heck, grab your kids and sit down and read this together. Judging from the available auto accident statistics, all Americans will be involved in at least one car accident in their lifetimes. That’s scary.

How many car accidents have you been in? I have been in two in my lifetime. One of them left my mother with a disability and  we walked away from the other without harm, even though it was a gnarly accident.

Nearly 43,000 people died in car accidents in 2002, according to auto accident statistics available through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This figure has increased by 1.5% from the previous year. Although the number of traffic-related injures has declined from 3.03 million to 2.92 million, auto accident statistics show that the number of fatalities due to drunk driving has steadily increased. More than one-quarter of Americans have been involved in a car accident in the last five years.

Additional auto accident statistics:
•About 26% of drivers have been involved in a car crash in the last five years.
•There were 17,419 alcohol-related fatalities in 2002.
•More than half the fatalities reported --59%--were not wearing seatbelts.
•Deaths from rollover crashes totaled 82%.
•For the past five years, motorcycle fatalities have been steadily increasing.
•Deaths of motorcyclists aged 50 and over have climbed by 26%.

Every 13 minutes, there is a death caused by a motor vehicle accident. Auto accident statistics show that Americans from the ages of 1-33 are more likely to die from a car accident than from anything else. On the other side of the spectrum, elderly adults aged 75 and up are most affected by motor vehicle crashes. The good news is fatalities of children seven and under have dropped, most likely due to safety seats. Also, pedestrian deaths have declined by 1.9 percent.

Woman_with_cell_phone_500 Most car accidents are entirely preventable. Recent auto accident statistics reveal that the drivers involved in accidents are most likely distracted, tired or possibly drunk. The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration reports that most drivers engage in activities that take their attention away from the road.

 These activities include:
•Talking with other passengers: 81%
•Playing with the radio or CD: 66%
•Eating or drinking: 49%
•Using a cell phone: 25%

So please, play it safe. Wear a hands-free or Bluetooth when using your cell phone, or don't use it at all. Keep the radio dialing to a minimum and try to eat that bean and cheese burrito BEFORE you start driving. This way, we'll all stay safer on the road.

Drive safe out there!


BreanneBoylesmall90120 by Breanne Boyle
Contributing Editor
Roaring Corgi

February 24, 2009

Ladies Who Drive Fast Will Enjoy this "Need for Speed" Experience For Women Only!

Lyn_st_james Auto racing legend Lyn St. James  has announced her first-ever "Lyn St. James Need for Speed Experience," combining classes in high-performance race car driving with physical, mental, and life skills coaching by leading national experts. Lyn is the first woman to be named Indy 500 Rookie of the Year and she has logged seven Indy 500 starts. This amazing woman has held 31 international and national closed circuit speed records over a 20-year period! Her "Need for Speed Experience" is scheduled to be held in the fall, from September 24 - 27, 2009 in Chandler, Arizona.

Lyn says, "There are many quality opportunities in the market for women's adventure experiences, but there is nothing available that combines a high-performance, world-class race car driving experience aligned with the mental and physical skills that relate to performance in life."

Women_in_the_winners_circle_logo Lyn is involved with many nonprofit organizations specifically empowering women in racing, most notably the  Women in the Winner's Circle Foundation, which encourages professional development for aspiring young women race car drivers; Project Podium,  which provides funding to enable women drivers to realize their potential; and the Women in the Winner's Circle Academy, which is an educational training program for women racing drivers. Since its inception, more than 230 women drivers, including Danica Patrick, Erin Crocker, Melanie Troxel and Sarah Fisher, have participated in this invitation-only Academy.

Continue reading "Ladies Who Drive Fast Will Enjoy this "Need for Speed" Experience For Women Only!" »

What is the Difference Between a Car’s Emergancy Brake & the Parking Brake?

There is no difference between the emergency brake and parking brake. Same system just different names. BUT, if you don’t set the parking brake you could have an emergency with your car.

FOR EXAMPLE: A newish Subaru Outback Wagon, deluxe top of the line model was parked on a hill. The Owner ‘thought’ he had put the car into gear and set the emergency brake… only to later find his car missing from where he had parked. He finally found it down the hill SMASHED, CRASHED AND BASHED into a tree.

GOOD NEWS: As the car rolled down the hill, it did not hit anything else. No pets, people, cars, houses, not even a mailbox. Plus, it was not totaled.

Continue reading "What is the Difference Between a Car’s Emergancy Brake & the Parking Brake? " »

February 23, 2009

So Cal Mom Car Review: Saturn Vue Hybrid

Baby_you_can_drive_my_car This is another in a series of posts I'm writing about my search for a new car to replace my current leased Volvo, which I have to give up in June.

Catch up with the entire series here.

One of the standout low-mileage models at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November was the hybrid version of the Saturn Vue, and I was disappointed when the show rep told me I wouldn't be able to test drive one until Spring 2009.

Saturn_vue_front So you can imagine my delight when GM contacted me just before Christmas and asked if I'd like to drive one around for a week. (This is proof that folks at the good companies actually READ what we write about their products!)

As it turns out, the Vue I saw at the Auto Show was GM's new 2-mode model with a V6 engine. That's the one that will be coming out in the spring.

Continue reading "So Cal Mom Car Review: Saturn Vue Hybrid " »

February 22, 2009

Would You Help a Child Left Alone in a Car?

It's a hot summer day. You're walking down the street, and you hear a child crying. Searchingbabyinhotcar.jpg for the sound, you see a baby in a car. No one's inside with the child. The windows are rolled up and the doors are locked. Only the sun roof is open. What would you do?

ABC News recently explored this situation by putting a lifelike doll in a car and watching to see what passersby would do. Some observers called 911 and waited until the "mother" (an actress) came back (police knew about the setup). A few people yelled at the woman, while most were a little more polite in explaining why she was wrong.

And many people didn't know what to do.

Babies heat up faster than adults by about three times. Temperatures that would cause you to overheat in 30 minutes would only take a baby 10. Even when temperatures outside aren't soaring, a car's interior quickly heats up in the sunlight. During ABC's experiment, outside temps didn't pass 80 degrees, but the car interior got as high as 120. A baby could die of hyperthermia (more commonly known as heat stroke) in a matter of minutes in a situation like that. And if you don't know what to do, a child could die by the time you figure it out.

Continue reading "Would You Help a Child Left Alone in a Car?" »

February 21, 2009

My Recent Rental Car Adventure

Chrysler_PT_Cruiser_front_s I recently had to attend a family affair out of state. The first leg was by airplane, and then I rented a car to drive another hour to reach my final destination. The rental company made renting a car a very simple process, almost too simple for my taste.

I had reserved my car online, so they had all my information in the computer when I introduced myself to the counter help. The young man did an up-sell and put me into a PT Cruiser for only a $20 extra one time fee. "Sure, why not!" I replied. Figured I might as well have a little fun cruising back to the old home town. He was all smiles as he tried to get me to purchase the company's insurance policy. "No thanks. My car insurance covers rent-a-cars." He swiped my credit card, handed me the keys and asked me to sign, sign, sign, initial, initial, initial the contract. As I began to read the contract, he kept making small talk. "Nice weather, did you see the game on TV last night, where are you headed, etc." Little did he know that I have a teenager and am well versed in listening to "yada yada yada" in the background.  The only change I had to make was that I did not want to pre-purchase a full tank of gas from the rental company at a higher price per gallon. I was very capable of re-filling the gas tank myself, thank you very much!

Once the paperwork was finished I was pointed in the right direction to pick up my car. They had it ready and waiting for me. The gas tank was full and the car was sparkling clean. The trunk was open for my luggage to be stored, and the front door was open for me to jump in and drive away. The young women handed me the keys, said "have a nice day," and started to walk away.


Continue reading "My Recent Rental Car Adventure" »

February 20, 2009

Credit Scores and Your Car Insurance

20 dollar bills We all know that our credit scores and credit histories can affect our buying power: home loans, car loans, renting an apartment, or even buying a cell phone plan. But did you know that your credit score can affect the price of your car insurance premium?

Why Credit Scores?

Car insurance companies use credit scores as risk indicators—better credit, better driver, they say.

The Insurance Information Institute says that the average cost of a claim for a person with below average credit is 53% higher than average. For a person with above average credit, the average cost of a claim is 23% lower than average. So having a higher credit score means you should cost less to insure, and should get better car insurance rates.

Continue reading "Credit Scores and Your Car Insurance" »

February 19, 2009

Who Let The Dogs Out at the Chicago Auto Show?

Ap_Bark_buckle_up_dogs_Chicago_GMC_Acadia_15 For the second year in a row, the Chicago Auto Show was invaded by an assortment of furry, four-legged friends as the Bark Buckle Up campaign announced its Pet Safe Choice Awards. An adorable group of canines was also in attendance, demonstrating skills they'd learned after graduating from the American Kennel Club S.T.A.R. program and modeling select pet travel/safety products.

Ap_Bark_Buckle_Up_Awards_Chicago09 Bark Buckle Up is dedicated to pet travel safety, and as the leader in pet safety education travels the country to work closely with first responders, safety experts, and pet industry leaders to educate and promote awareness for pet safety while traveling with our pets. The recognized leader and experts for pet travel safety, Bark Buckle Up announced the Pet Safe Vehicle, Hotel, Airline, and Retailer of Choice awards in a presentation of the center stage at the Chicago Auto Show. The Pet Safe Awards are earned by premium products and services each year and are tested and selected by judges including first responders, pet experts, safety, and travel experts.

Bark_Buckle_Up_Award-Logos So who won? Here are the 2009 Bark Buckle Up Pet Safe Awards Winners:
Pet Safe Vehicle of Choice: GMC Acadia
Pet Safe Hotel of Choice: Hilton Hotels & Resorts
Pet Safe Airline of Choice: American Airlines
Pet Safe Retailer of Choice: PetSmart

Ap_Bark_buckle_up_dog_Chicago_GMC_Acadia_01 More then a dozen graduate dogs and adorable puppies from the American Kennel Club S.T.A.R. program were invited to demonstrate a variety of dog safety products presented at the 2009 Bark Buckle Up Pet Safe Awards. Besides the special doggy guests, the presentation also featured special first responders Kane County Sheriff Patrick Perez and Fire Chief John Schuldt; distinctive executives Christina Selter Pet Safety Expert-Bark Buckle Up; Cheryl Catton Executive Director of Advertising & Promotion, Buick, Pontiac & GMC; Robert Allegrini Vice President Communications, The Americas Hilton Hotels Corporation; and Judi Gorman Manager Sales Promotions & Community Relations, American Airlines.

Continue reading "Who Let The Dogs Out at the Chicago Auto Show?" »

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