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29 posts from June 2009

June 30, 2009

Three Key Tips to Fuel Savings at the Pump for Fourth of July Travelers

Fireworks With summer travel season half over and the Fourth of July weekend approaching, drivers know it is more important than ever to properly maintain their vehicles to ensure maximum gas mileage. To get the most out of a tank of gas, experts suggest that, in addition to properly inflating tires and practicing conservative driving habits, motorists should be diligent about changing their worn and dirty spark plugs, replacing clogged air filters, and maintaining a clean fuel system.

"These three easy, low-cost routines can help motorists save quite a bit of money at the pump," says Jay Buckley, Honeywell's technical training manager. "The last thing we want is for our vehicles to work harder than they have to... it's just throwing money down the drain."

Continue reading "Three Key Tips to Fuel Savings at the Pump for Fourth of July Travelers" »

June 29, 2009

Why Synthetic Motor Oils Are Recommended for Today's Advanced Automotive Engines, Part 1

CheckEngineLight From changing consumer demands, to regulatory requirements calling for greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions, the global automotive market is constantly evolving. At the heart of this evolution is the ongoing transformation of the traditional, internal combustion engine, which has powered vehicles around the world for much of the last century.

Over the past decade, manufacturers have made extraordinary advances in automotive design and engine technology. Now these engine design advancements, such as turbochargers, gasoline direct injection, variable valvetrain systems, clean diesel engines, and hybrids, are increasingly making their way into the mainstream automotive market.

Mobil_1_Advanced_Fuel_Economy_oilCompared to traditional combustion engines, these new engine types are typically smaller, deliver more power and better fuel economy, and produce lower CO2 emissions. 

Along with changing the current landscape of automobile offerings, these technologies serve as a valuable preview of the future, where various engine styles and types will be used by manufacturers to meet rapidly expanding consumer and marketplace needs.

As these advanced engine designs and future engine technologies continue to become more common, drivers will need to know how best to protect and maintain their vehicles. And particularly why, when it comes to protecting today's engine types, using a fully synthetic motor oil is a far better option than relying on a conventional, mineral-based oil. 

Continue reading "Why Synthetic Motor Oils Are Recommended for Today's Advanced Automotive Engines, Part 1" »

June 27, 2009

Larry's Auto Works is a Certified Green Business


At a Santa Clara County Green Business conference last year, I first heard Larry Moore of Larry's Autoworks in Mountain View share his thoughts about being a green business. They have been in business for 30 years and became green certified by Santa Clara county in November 2006, the first certified green business in Mountain View, the town famous for being Google's headquarters. Their environmental motto is, "Keeping our environment safe and healthy is an important part of Larry's AutoWorks. This applies to both our daily work environment and the world environment." What a great example of how a small business can take on big issues and play a role in being a leader in protecting the environment.

Well, obviously as an emergency room for cars, they are most concerned with quality service and customer care. In fact, they have been voted as the best-of in the city in their service area for three years in a row. A customer once said that Larry's is the cleanest and most pleasant auto shop to wait in while your car is being serviced. So green could go hand-in-hand with profit and service. Still, what does a green business certification mean? Well, in Santa Clara County, it covers the following areas:

  • Compliance with environmental regulations
  • Energy Conservation
  • Water Conservation
  • Waste reduction & recycling
  • Pollution Prevention

There is a checklist that businesses must complete and prove, but the process itself is free. An auditor will visit your shop and ensure that you do what you claim (e.g. installing low flow faucets, recycling paper and cans) after which you get all the benefits of the program including a green business logo.

Continue reading "Larry's Auto Works is a Certified Green Business " »

June 26, 2009

GPS For A Directionally Challenged Woman Driver

Nuvi I navigate by landmark, so directions can be very challenging. Landmarks work well when you are already familiar with a place. The bank is right next to the big old city hall that is painted yellow and I can see its big dome from afar. The entrance is right down the road that passes the front of city hall, flanked by two tall, distinctive-looking redwood trees. As I cruise around neighborhoods I know, familiar buildings, houses, and intersection corners pop up regularly. I know what to expect next. And I feel comfortable knowing exactly how to get to where I want to go.

Alas, this approach is unusable when you don't know or can't see the landmark - for example, in navigating a new town, or finding a place in the dark. Another situation that I found particularly tough is when well-laid driving directions have to be tossed out the window because of wrong turns that land me in completely unfamiliar neighborhood. I really hate these situations, because they make me a very nervous driver. Trying to cut across several lanes on short order is an exercise that incurs a risk level that I'd rather not engage too much in. Trying to find your way at night in unlit neighborhoods where you can't read signs of roads you already don't know the name of is a little annoying not to mention dangerous if you are in a not-so-desirable neighborhood.

I had been eyeing GPS systems for a long time. I always knew it would help me a lot by providing a sense of security when I get lost. No more driving round and round till I find something familiar enough to be what I recently passed to find my way back to the well-laid written directions. However, I have always thought the price too high and the user-interface too difficult to use. Recently my girlfriend, who visited from abroad and never drove in the U.S. rented a car from Avis equipped with the "NeverLost" GPS system. It did fine listing the directions and even had a 3D-map. It definitely helped her navigate successfully in a totally unfamiliar city, not to mention road system. However, I found it did not update quickly enough when she took a wrong turn and we had to slow down to allow the device time to recalculate a new route. Not a great way to drive when there is a line of traffic right behind you! I also found that the interface took a while to figure out and the simple map look quite a bit different from a real road. Being directionally challenged, my criteria for investing in a GPS system quickly became:

(a) it has to make driving easier, not harder. Having to wait for the system to respond was unacceptable because it would stress me out even more when I get lost.
(b) it has to have maps that look like the real world I am driving in. When I navigate an unfamiliar terrain, I need to focus on the road, not the GPS.
(c) its user-interface must be easy to figure out and pleasant to look at. Something as user-friendly and readable as the iPhone would be good.

So I passed. No GPS for me. I continued to assiduously type in my start/end points into Google Maps, and write down the directions at the back of envelopes from my recycle bin. Of course sometimes I forget to bring the paper, just as I frequently forget my shopping list when going shopping. Duh! But on the occasions it made it to my dashboard, I would try to memorize it, but more often than not, I would hold up the piece of paper - while driving - trying to read what's next. (Nervous laugh.) That makes me crazy - navigating with one plus hand(s), and one plus eye(s) - I don't recommend this. But I survived on it for a year, sometimes supplemented with a phone call to friends to look up Google Maps on their internet at home. (Sheepish grin) So now you see the "direction demons" I fight when driving. I wish I can tell north, south, east, west in seconds not minutes, but it is one of those limitations I have come to accept and live with. Even in Manhattan where the streets are laid out in grids, and increases either numerically or alphabetically, I used to get out of the subway station and make a complete 360 around the block to find the right direction to go to. Okay, maybe I need to wear those glasses my optometrist recommend, but directions still make me nervous!

When the iPhone came out, my driving life took a turn for the better. Google Maps actually lived on it. Hah - now I have a portable mapping system - not a GPS, mind you, but simply free maps that are downloaded instantaneously over the cellular network right into my hands. Now I can stop the car somewhere whenever I am lost, then pan around the map and find where I have ended up in. Then I can manually figure out how to drive to get to the end point. It was a lot safer, but it was still time-consuming and required way too much ad-hoc planning while driving. I frequently wish my iPhone would talk to me to read out those pesky turn-by-turn directions. Recently, Google Maps on iPhone was upgraded to be able to triangulate your location. It wasn't completely accurate - especially in dense cities where many tall buildings would reflect the signals - but it was a step-up.

But I was getting tired of all these charades. It took a lot of coordination. It made driving less pleasurable. It wasn't completely safe. It added some amount of stress too. Even my friends were getting sick of me calling. I was ready for a Nigel to talk to me in the car. (Nigel was the British sounding name my directionally challenged male friend gave to his British-accented GPS unit. He was stolen and we are still very sad for losing a named friend.)

So it was with tremendous relief and jubilation that I received a GPS unit for my birthday. My friend worked at one of those high-tech firms where people buy and toss electronic toys in quick succession, and he got a brand-new Garmin Nuvi 660 at half-price. I was elated. It was the line I had been eyeing for a while, because of its superior graphics and easy-to-use interface. When I first tested it, I felt that it would definitely reduce my stress level with directions. I had eyed a lower model, because I didn't really need the extra fancy add-ons such as the MP3 player, audio book player (through Audible Books), Bluetooth wireless for hands-free calling (it doesn't support my iPhone), language translator, and FM-transmitter. But I loved the slimness of it, and most of all, I love the bright screen that displayed bright, colorful 3D maps with geographical feature.

Afterusing it for a couple days, I have found that driving is a whole new experience. For one, the system knows when the car is moving, and will not allow you to punch in directions unless you override the "Safe Mode". Secondly, I just drive on roads that I know are faster even if the GPS thinks otherwise and it adjusts within a split second to accommodate my decision. Thirdly, IT TALKS TO ME. Yes, it talks to me and that's my favorite feature. Sometimes Vincent V. interrupts my conversation with fellow passengers and I suppose it could get annoying in the future, but I will just turn him off. Fourthly, I can now "see" that I am passing the San Andreas Lake when driving on 280, even though I can't really see it. The 3D map shows parks and other geographical feature and it makes me more aware of the unseen landmark all around me. (It wasn't a great feeling though to learn that the San Andreas fault lie next to my favorite highway which runs not too far from my home....) In addition, driving more smoothly also saves gas, and being an environmentalist, it makes me feel better.

So, at this point, I think my personal struggle with driving direction is probably over. Heck, I can take this gadget with me on vacation and hiking. I may have to buy additional maps internationally and for topographical information, but that's easy. I am looking forward to exploring the world with a little less trepidation, and a lot more random "wrong turns". Life is good with Vincent V. my little GPS navigator. I just hope he doesn't get stolen - the special NPR segment on the string of GPS thefts around the country is making me nervous. I guess I will just have to unplug him every time I step out the car and put him in my purse.

Extrazoom Marn-Yee Lee
Contributing Editor

Marn-Yee Lee is pursuing an MBA in Sustainability at the Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. After spending a decade in I.T. and on Wall Street, she is now pursuing her passion for the environment. She sees business as a partner for creating innovative solutions to pressing environmental issues. In her spare time, she writes a blog to inspire others to consider the impact of their daily lives on the environment at

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June 25, 2009

Road-Ready Chevy Volt Hits The Streets

2011_CHEVROLET_VOLT_FRONT Just a little more than two years after the Volt was first introduced as a concept to journalists at the 2007 North American International Auto Show, the first pre-production versions of Chevrolet's extended range electric vehicle have hit the asphalt.

Until now, we've only seen test cars that don't run on their own power, or test powertrains running inside other vehicle bodies. These are the first versions of the actual vehicle consumers will be able to buy, and they look pretty similar to the photos we published back in September.

2011_Chevy_Volt_plug In case you've been living inside a cave for the last couple years, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt is a front-wheel-drive, four-passenger Extended-Range Electric Vehicle that uses electricity as its primary power source and gasoline as its secondary power source to propel the vehicle. The goal is to remove "range anxiety" that is common with traditional electric-battery-powered vehicles. The Volt can be charged at home overnight to runs on battery power alone for short trips (up to 40 miles), and for longer trips, additional electricity can be supplied by a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine or a fuel cell.

Continue reading "Road-Ready Chevy Volt Hits The Streets" »

Michael Jackson's Last Ambulance Ride

Mjacksonhospital062509_x17online Pop star Michael Jackson was pronounced dead by UCLA doctors this afternoon. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.

As reported by,  paramedics responded to a call at Jackson's Beverly Hills home during the lunch hour.

Apparently, paramedics arrived to find the Man in the Mirror was not breathing, administered CPR, and rushed him in cardiac arrest to UCLA Medical Center, about six minutes from his Carolwood Avenue rental.

2009_Ford_E450_Ambulance_590 A report made about two hours later at the Los Angeles Times  says he arrived at a hospital in a deep coma, and that doctors were not able to revive him.

In case you're wondering about his last ride, Los Angeles area paramedics utilize ambulances manufactured onto Ford E-series heavy-duty truck platforms.

"The E-Series Super Duty has been the historical market leader in the ambulance segment," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of Global Product Development.

2009_Ford_E450_Ambulance_590_red While it's difficult to know exactly which model transported Jackson to the hospital, Ford's most current E-Series Super Duty Ambulance package is powered by a 6.8-liter Triton V-10 gasoline engine, and features a comprehensive array of heavy-duty components specifically developed to meet the extreme service needs of ambulance use. This proven powerhouse delivers 305 horsepower and 420 ft.-lbs. of torque for responsive acceleration in critical emergency run situations.

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June 24, 2009

Obama Approves "Car Allowance Rebate System" (CARS) Law

Artistic_Obama Thanks to Suzuki for sending us the most recent news on the highly anticipated Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), formerly referred to as the "Cash for Clunkers" initiative signed into law by President Obama today.

The new CARS law allows consumers to receive up to a $4,500 voucher to trade in their old gas guzzlers for a more fuel-efficient new vehicle.  Qualifying vehicles are considered passenger cars, mini vans, SUVs and small light-duty trucks that get less than 18 mpg, and large light-duty trucks that get less than 15 mpg city/highway combined.  For passenger cars, if the new vehicle is at least four mpg more fuel efficient than the old vehicle, consumers will receive a $3,500 voucher toward a new vehicle.  If the new vehicle is at least 10 mpg more fuel efficient than the old vehicle, the voucher is good for $4,500.

"We applaud President Obama on signing this extraordinary bill, which will help provide financial relief for Americans across the country and further assist with the economic recovery of the automotive marketplace," said Kevin Saito, president of American Suzuki.  "With an added incentive for new car buyers to focus on fuel-efficient vehicles, Suzuki is poised for an increase in dealer traffic thanks to the CARS program.  Better yet, we not only offer these people more efficient vehicles, we offer cars, trucks and SUVs that are fun to drive and look great on the road."

Continue reading "Obama Approves "Car Allowance Rebate System" (CARS) Law" »

June 26, 2009, is the 9th annual 'Drive Your Corvette to Work Day'

Drive_your_corvette_to_work_sign I know many collectors would not want to risk driving their prized Corvette in rush-hour traffic, but Friday, June 26th is the 9th Annual Drive Your Corvette To Work Day, sponsored by Mid America Motorworks. On this special day, enthusiasts across America are invited to make "America's Sports Car" their commuter car for the day, so suck it up and prepare yourself -- and your car -- for the trek across your favorite roads. 

"Drive Your Corvette To Work Day is held on the Friday closest to June 30th, when the first Corvette rolled off the assembly line in 1953 in Flint, Michigan. MidAmerica Motorworks encourages every Corvette owner to drive his or her car on June 26th because it is the perfect way to say 'Happy Birthday' to America's sports car," said Mike Yager, founder and "Chief Cheerleader" of Mid America Motorworks, the world's leading supplier of Corvette parts and accessories.

Continue reading "June 26, 2009, is the 9th annual 'Drive Your Corvette to Work Day'" »

June 23, 2009

91 years old and 557,000 miles, and still going strong together

Rachel_and_chariot Everybody is talking about this little old lady and her lifetime partnership with her Mercury Comet Caliente. She's more than 90 years old, and has been driving her "Chariot" since 1964.

Now with 557,000 miles on the odometer, the spunky pair has had their fair share of adventures together over the last 45 years. The two of them are inseperable, and after more than a half-million miles together, this little old lady wants no other car.

Rachel_Veitch In her first video segment created two years ago at,
Rachel Veitch demonstrated her detailed service records and explained how she meticulously cared for her car for its first 540,000 miles. For as long as she owned the car, she explained, she purchased lifetime parts and warranties whenever possible and has already received 16 replacements through the lifetime battery warranty from JC Penney, three sets of shocks and seven mufflers from those warranties. None of her three husbands ever proved to be as reliable as her motorized life partner!

In the second segment posted earlier this year, Rachel defended her car as "mine all mine," and proudly said "Nobody is gonna take care of that car the way I have," promising it would go into a museum after she passes. Unfortunately, at the time of this segment's creation, her Chariot, with 557,000 miles on the odometer was operating a little under the weather and needed a mechanic's magic touch, but plucky Rachel had not lost faith in her treasured transportation.

In her third segment, posted earlier in June,   revealed more about Rachel on a personal level. For this single woman in her 90s, her beloved Chariot is the key to her personal freedom. A true red-white-and-blue patriotic American, this gritty granny certainly knows how to take care of herself: she still takes road trips, she still lives in her own home, and she owns and trains with a handgun so she can defend herself if she should have to. While this third segment is not as focused on her beloved Chariot, it certainly reveals what makes this spunky woman tick!

My little Subaru is brand new: but Brandy Schaffels, our editor has put more than 145,000 miles on her 1998 Honda Accord, and says she hopes to drive it past 200K. How many miles have you put on your own car? Please share your stories with other car-loving ladies here at CarBlabber  How cool would it be if we could get Rachel to join in the conversation?

Jody-devere_president_askpatty Jody DeVere
President and CEO

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June 22, 2009

Ask Patty's Female Friendly Blog Carnival: June 22, 2009

There's so much happening in the automotive world, whether it's exciting reports about amazing women in the industry, fun car news, or news about our Certified Female Friendly dealers and retailers, we've got something here for everyone. Have you got female friendly news or interesting automotive tidbits to share? Email Ask Patty at or use the form at the end  to include your own blog bits in our next carnival!

AP_faday_gift_guide-RC-Porsche-911-Carrera_s Father's Day was just this weekend. If you're still looking for the perfect gift for that special guy in your life, be sure to check out our Car Guy's Gift Guide. No matter what his tastes, you should find something for him in our gift guide here at, or in the companion article which has even more choices over at

Greenlings-small-post-logo At the most basic level, regenerative braking means re-capturing the kinetic energy of the vehicle's motion and turning it into another type of energy. Commonly, this is done by converting kinetic energy into electricity and recharging the car's battery with it. Find out more about regenerative braking in this installment of Greenlings by Sebastian Blanco at

Women-on-car:flickr:photos:freeparking:1020203525: June marks the 100th anniversary of the first woman to cross America behind the wheel of a car. In 1909, a decade before women would be given the right to vote, Alice Huyler Ramsey proved to the world that a woman had the necessary virtues to drive from New York to San Francisco. Read more in this article by Joni Gray at

Carmax-logo During June, hundreds of CarMax associates have been participating in volunteer efforts across the United States. Teams of CarMax colleagues have spent the month helping out at such non-profit organizations as Boys and Girls Clubs, Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity to support the communities where they live and work. How cool is that?

Ford-fiesta-spied You know that slick-looking Fiesta hatchback Ford gave out recently to 100 agents to drive? Well, here's a good look at the non-hatchback version as well. Edmunds believes this disguised car is a prototype of 2011 Ford Fiesta sedan first introduced as the Verve at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. I'm pretty certain that Ford will be offering both the sedan and hatchback versions of this Civic beater when it arrives in United States dealerships just in time for Christmas. You can see official photos, and even pre-order your Fiesta, here at

Fiesta_moab_sky_hilary Speaking of the Fiesta Movement, Agent Brooklyn Hilary has been posting her road trip adventures in her special edition Ford Fiesta here at  This woman has driven her Fiesta all over the country, putting more than 13,000 miles on the odometer in just a couple months. Hillary, how many states have you been through so far?

Sprint_solio_charger_s-150x150 Looking for an eco-friendly way to charge your cellphone while you're out and about? Sprint has released the new SOLIO Mono Hybrid Charger, which allows cell-phone users to store power from the sun or electrical socket allowing customers to recharge their mobile phone anywhere, anytime.  Check it out at

Insurance_exam For the fifth year in a row, GMAC Insurance set out to gauge the knowledge of the American driving public in the GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test, where more than 5000 respondents were administered actual questions taken from DMV tests. According to their estimates, nearly 41 million licensed drivers would fail if retested today. Think you're smarter than the average driver? Take the test yourself, and see if you pass with flying colors or if you could use a little brushing up. Then compare your scores to the national average and challenge a friend to beat your score! I took the test and got three wrong or 85%

Jalopnik_Chrissie_Morris_Sandals According to this jewel we found at Jalopnik: "Business owners in economically-depressed Metro Detroit suburbs, eager to do business with wives of Italian Fiat executives, are prettying-up their shops, discounting their $1,595 high-heeled sandals and learning Italian, all in a bid to earn some valuable Lira." The shoes and increased Rosetta Stone sales are only one indication of the way Detroit-area businesses are preparing to welcome the estimated 100-200 Fiat executives and their families expected to relocate to Detroit as dealings get ironed out.

News from our Certified Female Friendly Dealers and Retailers
A+_Japanese_auto_repair_goes_green A+ Japanese Auto Repair of San Carlos, California,  is an awesome green business with a calendar full of special events: They just sponsored a booth this weekend at the Vertical Challenge Helicopter Air Show at the Hiller Aviation Museum and have many more special events planned! Coming up right away, they are a Gold Circle Member of the San Carlos Chamber of Commerce and are a sponsor of Hot Harvest Nights in San Carlos.  This Farmer's Market/Art & Wine Festival-ish event allows San Carlos vendors to show off and sell their wares as well as all kinds of yummy fruit, vegetables, breads, etc.  A+ Japanese Auto Repair will be there Thursdays throughout the summer, July 2, July 9, July 30, August 20, and September 10, so be sure to check them out! 

Larrys_auto_works Customers of Larry's Auto Works in Mountain View, California  love being shuttled to and from their appointments in Larry's classic Checker Cab, but beyond that, the business is aggressively green and active in their community. One of their most popular affiliations is with the Annual Palo Alto Moonlight Run coming up this year on October 2. Larry's Auto Works also provides its customers with a Preferred Customer Card with a retail value of over $450 and includes such services as free rental cars with service, free car wash with service, loaner cars with service, free window treatment, and other added values and discounts. Awesome!

AAA_Car_Care_Plus AAA Car Care Plus of Santa Clara, California,  hosts AAA hybrid driving clinics to provide hybrid owners driving tips to get the most out of their vehicle "without being an annoyance" to other drivers, as well as maintenance tips to help increase your fuel efficiency. They offer a great children's area and outer cafeteria waiting room and the whole place has free wi-fi access. Plus, they are very involved with the AAA Greenlight Initative program, and AAA Members receive a 10% discount on labor.

JonLancaster_Toyota Jon Lancaster Toyota of Madison, Wisconsin,  claims to be one of the most environmentally safe service facility in the country: They recycle all tires, cardboard, paper, plastic, and metal acquired while doing business and collect oil from oil changes to be used to heat the building's interior! They post an informative eNewsletter/blog that informs their customers of ongoing service and sales specials, but their biggest recent news is about their brand new, state-of-the-art, Toyota Image II dealership which opened in May after two years of planning and construction. Congratulations on the new location!

Community-tire-logo Community Tire and Automotive Service Specialists of Arizona  have hosted several great events lately, including free tire checks for National Tire Safety Week, a special drawing for Father's Day, but most awesome was their participation as an exhibitor at the Little Pink Book Y.E.S! Women's Business Expo held in June: The Y.E.S! Women's Business Expo, at Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, was an exciting event geared toward women in business and featured seven speakers presenting on a variety of topics, 50+ exhibitors, a Networking Reception, on-site professional headshots, and great door prizes.

Isabella_at_autorescue AutoAid and Rescue of Van Nuys, California,  recently came to the aid of one of their customers -- with more than just automotive assistance! When one of their customers showed up at their business needing personal help, owners Jack and David Bulko allowed her to park her car there and watched her four dogs while she took care of business at the local courthouse. Upon her return, the customer was elated to see her family of dogs safe and eager to embrace her, and expressed enormous gratitude for their understanding and kindness, saying,"I love this place. I feel safe, it's a wonderful atmosphere and you guys are amazing, amazing!"  Certainly not the usual day at AutoAid, "but what a gratifying feeling to be able to help someone in need especially in these hard times" said Jack. Indeed!

And that's it for this edition of AskPatty's Certified Female Friendly Blog Carnival! Make sure to submit your article for our next "Automotive Advice for Women Blog Carnival" using the online form  or by emailing Ask Patty at

By Brandy Schaffels Editor

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