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28 posts from July 2010

July 31, 2010

AskPatty Receives Top Women In Business Blog Award

Circlebadge2 I'm excited to announce the Ask Patty Automotive Advice for Women blog has been chosen as a winner in the 2010 Top Women In Business Blog Awards, sponsored by Online MBA. I am so honored to be included with the other amazing women blogging winners.  Thank you to my readers for this honor and your loyal readership over the years.

A special thank you to all my gifted guest writers and editorial staff for the great blog article content you produce covering the auto industry from a woman's perspective!

Jody DeVere
CEO, Inc.
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July 30, 2010

Low-Tech Device Designed to Save Thousands of Lives, Millions in Liability

HandstandsHandstands Eight people will die today in a crash related to cell phone distractions, while related auto accidents will inflict incomprehensible suffering to families. For business owners, the impact can reach beyond the painfully personal and into the financial as well, with crash-related lawsuits potentially bringing their company to a screeching halt.
HandStands' new No Phone Zone auto accessories line is designed to save lives, reduce corporate liability. For more information, visit Today, more smart companies require employees to forego phone and text usage while driving, thanks to the nationwide “No Phone Zone” campaign – a safe driving initiative recently championed by Oprah Winfrey. But even those participating businesses risk liability if a rogue staffer ignores the rules.

HandStands, one of the nation’s leading auto accessories manufacturers, has introduced nine new “No-Phone Zone” brand-ready reminders for businesses. These clever, affordable and functional car accessories include Sticky Pad and Gadget Grip non-slip dash pads that secure cell phones to a dashboard; as well as a line of car air fresheners that fit in a vent, or hang in easy view. Each of the new No Phone Zone pledge reminder products can be customized with the company’s logo and given to staffers when the program is introduced or used as goodwill promotional products to share with clients and vendors.

Handstand According to the , “On the job crashes cost employers $24,500 per crash, $150,000 per injury and $3.6 million per fatality.” By providing a constant, visible reminder of a company’s “No Phone Zone” commitment, employers not only reduce the likelihood of an employee using a phone in transit; they potentially reduce their corporate liability.

The safe driving initiative is supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation, GHSA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Safety Council, FocusDriven, a non-profit group combating the problem, and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions).
HandStands is backing its commitment to a No Phone Zone in every car by requiring its employees to go phone –free while on the road.

HandStands No Phone Zone awareness efforts have been endorsed by Jennifer Smith, founder of Focus Driven, a non-profit organization dedicated to building awareness of the dangers of mobile phone distracted driving and champion of the No Phone Zone movement. HandStands is donating a portion of each No Phone Zone product sale to Focus Driven.

Distributors looking for further information or to order samples of Handstands’ No Phone Zone product line, visit

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July 29, 2010

Summer Senior Citizen Road Trip with my Parents

Toyota Avalon My parents wanted to see their youngest grandson graduate from high school.. so driving my Dad's '02 Toyota Avalon I took my parental senor citizens, ages 86 and 84, on a thousand mile road trip to visit my sister and her family. We traveled from Palm Desert up the Central California Coast to San Luis Obispo and back, with a few excursions to some favorite spots.

Some of our road trip highlights:

The drive up the coast from Ventura to Santa Barbara was clear and gorgeous, Morro Bay and Cayucos State Beach were breathtakingly beautiful but too chilly for my sun-dried raisin, desert rat parents! They do not get to the beach very much anymore and that was a real treat for them.

Fish and Chips at The Galley Bar and Grill on Morro Bay.

Anderen's Split Pea Soup Andersen's Split Pea Soup in Buellton, CA for pea soup and eggs for breakfast, a family tradition to stop here on road trips.

Apple Farm's apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream, almost as good as my Mom's!

The quaint Peach Tree Inn, our hotel. A classic car club was staying there so I had my own private "car show" parading in and out all day.

The "Seniors" of San Luis Obispo High School talent show performance at the SLO Performing Arts Center.

Taking a road trip with senior citizens can be trouble free, relaxing and fun if you plan and prepare for every contingency. Here are a few items we did to make our trip a success:

1. Have your senior citizens go see their doctor and get approval no more than a week prior to travel.

2. Take along a list of all medications and a few extra days worth in case of an emergency extended stay.

3. Plan for frequents rest breaks along your route and visit the cleanest possible public restroom locations.

4.  Take along plenty of hand sanitizer and use frequently to combat germs.

IMG_2506 5. Book hotel reservations with ground floor  easy access or rooms or that have handicapped access as these rooms are designed to help prevent falls.

6. If they are unsteady walking on uneven ground, offer your arm for support and plan your walking routes with safety in mind.

7. Be the chauffeur and do "curb-side" service to save steps and help them not get too fatigued.

8. Try to stick to a healthy diet, offer snacks and remind them to drink plenty of water, keep cold bottled water in the car.

9. Find the major hospitals or emergency rooms on your route and understand what is covered in their health plan.

Morro Bay California 10. Take a well stocked first aid kit, extra sweaters and a blanket along with your emergency road side safety kit.

11. Have your car checked and serviced before departure.

12. Plan to do as much driving as possible during off-peak traffic times.

13. Schedule outings for the time of day when your senior citizens energy level is highest. Stick to regular meal, medication and sleep times.

14. Go online and use GasBuddy to find the best gas prices on where to fill-up at the pump, resort town gas prices can be treacherously expensive!

Jody-devere-0510_1784x800I'm going

Jody DeVere
President and CEO

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July 28, 2010

Renting a Car Overseas - Great Tips from the Experts

100_0649For many of us, summer is synonymous with "road trip": The simple and joyful act of packing your family into your car and driving to new and exciting destinations.

It gets a little less simple when you plan a "fly and drive" excursion involving a rental car. And it can be downright complicated when your destination is overseas.

Our family just returned from a two-week visit to the United Kingdom, where we covered a lot of ground in England, Scotland and Wales. It was an adventure that began when we started scouting the web for a vehicle to get us around the country.

That's when we discovered that passenger cars in Europe have funny names (to Americans, anyway). I was familiar with Vauxhall, which is a make owned by GM... but would their Corsa be large enough to transport three adults, a teenager and baggage? And what the heck's a QashQai?

Hertz "Super Agent" Berry Ross offered us some guidelines for selecting a rental car overseas.

"Many European vehicles are smaller than what we’re used to in the U.S., but then again, the roads are often narrower too!" he says. 

Berry notes that:

• Vehicles described as "Economy class" typically have two doors and a hatchback, accommodating two adults, and three standard pieces of luggage

• Compact vehicles typically have four doors plus a hatchback, accommodating two adults plus two children, and 3 standard pieces of luggage

• Midsize cars are typically are four door vehicles with a trunk, providing room for four adults (or two adults and three children) and four standard size pieces of luggage;

•  Full size vehicles often can accommodate the same amount of passengers and luggage as a midsize, but have a larger engine, providing more horsepower if you’re driving through a region with hills;

•    And a station wagon typically can accommodate as many passengers as a midsize or full size, but can fit five standard pieces of luggage.

We ended up with a Ford Focus Titanium wagon, which was a somewhat more luxurious vehicle than the Focus models I've driven in the States. It was also large enough to handle our family and our luggage as we made our way through London, Cardiff, Liverpool, Blackpool and Cumbria (in the northwest corner of England).

If you plan a road trip in another country, you need to find out if it's actually legal for you to drive there. We've never had a problem in the UK (which is where my husband was born). It's one of many nations where a valid US driver's license is sufficient for visitors. However, the State Department suggests it might be worth your while to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) as a supplement to your license. The Automobile Association of America (AAA) is the only authorized provider of IDP's in the United States.

100_1107 I briefly contemplated getting behind the wheel myself this time, but chickened out (as I have on the previous dozen times we've visited my husband's family in Wales). I'm terrified that I'll forget to stay on the left-hand side of the road.

This is something to keep in mind when traveling to many former lands of the British Empire (like Australia, New Zealand and India). But the Japanese roads are left-sided, too, so again, you need to do your research before you go.

Fortunately, my husband is ambidextrous when it comes to driving. That's a good thing, because it's not just left-right disorientation that frightens me away from the driver's seat in Britain. The narrow, windy roads are different there, beginning with the circular intersections and funny-looking road signs.

Hertz's Berry Ross advises travelers to remember that in Europe, "the color red on a road sign signals negative information such as a warning or prohibition while the color blue is positive in that it signals an obligatory action or some feature that you can take advantage of – such as a bicycle lane, a rest stop or a parking garage." 

Berry says that when you match color with shape, some other standard sign formats include:

•    Diamond signs that indicate priority
•    Red triangles that are warnings
•    Red circles that are restrictions
•    Blue circles that are requirements
•    Squares and rectangles that give guidance

Berry also points out that in Europe, dashed center lines mark passing zones while solid center lines denote no-passing zones (just like the United States). But while in North America yellow markings separate opposing traffic flows and white lines separate traffic moving in the same direction, in Europe, white lines are used in both cases.

Finally, like Boy Scouts, drivers should always be prepared. The emergency number to call in the United Kingdom is 999;  if you get into an accident in a European Union country, 112 is the number to dial. Many cellphones are already pre-programmed with both these numbers, as well as 911.

For more information, check out the Hertz European Drivers Guide.

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July 24, 2010

Win Prizes at Motor Oil Matters #CarCare Twitter Party Tuesday 7/27 6pm PDT


Quick Links: | Motor Oil Matters

Official Facebook | Official Twitter

Register here for the event:

Ladies, come ask questions and get answers about:
  • Car care
  • Tips and maintenance
  • Car buying and selling.
Prizes_new Hosted by female automotive experts:
  • Debbie Van Schalkwyk, Pennzoil
  • Kristin Brocoff,
  • Jody DeVere,
  • Joanne Helperin,
  • Many Automotive Expert Women
  • Play fun trivia games!
  • Win prizes

 Twitter Hashtag: #carcare

Tuesday July 27, 2010

What time?
9PM - 11PM EST

Register here for the event:

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July 23, 2010

Women in Motorsports Blog Carnival - July 23 rounds up the women in motorsports news from across the interwebs.

Newstjames Legendary female racer Lyn St. James has a new project: Accelerate with Lyn St. James. It is a syndicated automotive program targeted to women, set to debut in January.

James will use a format of two-minute segments covering driving safely, auto maintenance and ownership. She'll also give viewers a sense of what it's like to be behind the wheel competing in some of the most famous motorsports events in the world.

"I have so much fun with that because I can play dumb with the best of them," she said. "Once, my air conditioning went out and this guy was not treating me so well at the dealership, giving me the run-around. I just needed Freon. I didn't need a new system. Then he looked at me strangely and noticed who I was. His whole demeanor changed after that, which is a sad story."

Syracuse-nationalsBea Wilson and her daughter, Melissa Wilson are two of the few women owning and exhibiting cars in the Syracuse Nationals. They are also in Flames ‘R’ Us. Their cars are have a system that can shoot 75 foot high flames out the back.

Kristenbumbera Kenny and Cheri Bumbera don't spend their weekends with the kids anywhere but at the track.

The Bumberas children — Kristen, 22, Kendall, 17 and Boyd, 12 - have been racing since they were little.

"When they (Kristen, Kendall, and Boyd) were little, I figured they would be more into the mechanical end, but Kristen loved the driving, Kendall was on the outside, Boyd loved the driving," he said, mentioning that Kendall was more involved in showing horses until she was 12. "Then one day Kendall popped up and said she wanted to do it. It was easier than most people do with taking their kids to baseball and softball. We would always go to the racetrack. It was a way to have all my kids with me."

Danica Things didn't go so well for Danica Patrick at Watkins Glen last weekend.

Patrick failed to advance out of the first qualifying group and ultimately finished a dismal 21st.

"I was feeling really confident going into qualifying … , but I just didn't have the speed I needed to get the GoDaddy car out of the first group," she said. "The field gets more and more competitive and when you're just a tad off the pace it can end up costing you more than ever.

"It was a pretty tough day for the GoDaddy team," she said. "The car itself was solid, but we just couldn't make up any ground. My guys did a great job this weekend, so I wish we had more to show for it."

Milka Trouble for Milka?

IndyCar Series chief executive officer Randy Bernard says they are closely monitoring the dangerously slow Milka Duno.

“I’m going to get myself in trouble on this one, but I’m going to tell you,” Bernard said on Saturday at the Honda Indy Toronto. “It’s very, very important for the credibility of the IndyCar Series that fans know they’re (the drivers) the best in the world. And if someone can’t maintain and compete with that, I really think that’s what we have a ladder system for.

“I’m behind our chief steward, Brian Barnhart. He has to make the assessment who is allowed on and who isn’t. I’m sure at the end of this year, Brian and I will sit down and determine what’s in the best interest of the sport.”

Monaejab At a small dusty field just outside the West Bank city of Ramallah, mostly male spectators cheer and wave flags as a car speeds though a turn on the racetrack.

The car comes to a halt and the racer, 24-year-old Mona Ennab, jumps out. When she slides off her helmet and smiles at the crowd, it's not hard to see why she was a contestant for Miss Palestine, the West Bank's beauty pageant.

She's part of a team of Palestinian women competing in the West Bank's burgeoning professional car racing scene.


by Linda Przygodski
Contributing Editor

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July 22, 2010

Ford’s Curve Control Technology Offers Drivers Added Safety

062810Curve_Control_11 Ford Motor Company is taking the Explorer to the next level in safety technology. The 2011 Ford Explorer will now include Curve Control, a new crash-avoidance innovation designed to aide driver control during sharp turns.

Taking a curve too quickly and causing rollover accidents is a common issue for SUVs and unfortunately contributes to about 50,000 accidents in the U.S. each year. Freeway interchanges are among the more dangerous sites for these types of accidents.

In a 2004 survey of over 1,100 urban freeway interchange crashes conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, speed was the primary cause for crashes. Roughly 50 percent of the accidents in the study occurred when the driver was exiting the freeway, while an additional 36 percent occurred while entering  interchanges. With this new technology, the new Explorer takes drivers a few steps closer to precision handling by allotting them an extra few seconds to react. When a driver speeds through a turn, Curve Control is said to reduce the vehicle’s speed by up to ten mph in one second, in order to help drivers maintain control and continue driving safely.35832_415171551600_381809751600_4821284_7799869_n

What makes this new technology unique is that it senses dangerous turning situations, automatically reduces the engine’s torque, and applies four-wheel braking faster than the typical driver reaction. The system is effective on both dry or wet road conditions and is especially useful for freeway on- and off-ramps.

Curve Control is an extension of Ford’s AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control (RSC), using sensors to measure a variety of factors, including yaw rate, lateral acceleration, wheel speed, role rate and steering wheel angle. More than 100 calculations are made every second in order to determine if the vehicle is turning more than the driver is steering.

This new system will be a standard addition to all 2011 Ford Explorers, and the company anticipates that Curve Control will be available to 90 percent of its vehicles by 2015.

Alyse Business 2_2 Alyse Speyer
AskPatty Contributor

Alyse Speyer has been an independent Internet marketing consultant for the past four years. She has a wealth of experience in content creation and management, social media marketing, brand positioning, SEO, SEM, email marketing and web strategy. Clients include: The Cobalt Group, Online Marketing Summit, AskPatty, Sipe & Associates, LLC. Connect with Alyse via Facebook and LinkedIn.

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July 21, 2010

Keeping Your (Car) Cool During Hot Summer Temps

auto sun shade

As summer temps continue to soar across the country, it gets harder to keep your automobile cool. Once you've burned your hands on a hot steering wheel or seat belt buckle, you start looking for ways to cool things down a bit without spending a lot of money.

One affordable way to reduce car temperatures is to use a simple auto sun shade that sets in your front window. Not only does it cool your vehicle, but it protects your dash from cracking due to sun damage. For as little as $9 you can find a shade for your car. A couple of recommendations to help you with your choices:

  • Make sure you get a shade that will fit your car windshield fully. A too-small shade isn't going to help much (I know this from experience).
  • Get a dark or reflective shade. I once bought a cute, decorative shade, but it was thin, light-colored and let a lot of heat in. After switching to a reflective shade, I found the temperature difference quite noticeable.
  • For an even better fit in your vehicle, think about a custom shade such as HeatShield - it's made to conform to specific makes and models of vehicles.

You could combine using an auto shade with a solar powered auto vent fan. These fans reportedly pull hot air out of your car, especially when you have another window cracked slightly while you're using it. I don't have any personal experience with these, so I can't speak to how effective they are.

solar guard auto window filmThe biggest way to reduce car interior temps - and the priciest - is installing window film in your car. There are a variety of types available, from light to mirrored finishes. You can have it professionally installed, or buy some do-it-yourself film. If you do go for a film, make sure you check your state and local laws. One company, Solar Gard, makes a nearly-clear film that reflects U.V. and infrared rays. Installation costs vary, but range about $260-290. Of course, the company also makes darker tints as well.

By keeping your car temperature down, it takes less time for your air conditioner to cool your car. That saves energy and helps your a/c run more efficiently. If you don't already have at least one of these solutions in place, you should definitely think about it as summer progresses and temperatures continue to rise.

By Becky Scott, Contributor

Product recommendations based on research or personal experience and are not paid placements.Shade image by starlord under Creative Commons. Auto tint image courtesy of Solar Gard.

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July 20, 2010

How To Care for Your Car During Summer

Car care logo Brought to you by the Car Care Council

Summer can be tough on cars, especially during high temperatures when heat can destroy batteries and stress the cooling system and tires. As a precaution, these vehicle components should be checked periodically during summer to help avoid breakdowns and car problems, according to the Car Care Council.

Excessive heat and overcharging shorten the life of a battery. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which then damages the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate, which will eventually destroy a battery. To get the most life out of a battery, the council recommends having the electrical system checked to make sure it is charging at the correct rate. If your car’s battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it often, especially in hot weather and add distilled water if necessary. Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt can become a conductor, which drains battery power. If corrosion accumulates on battery terminals, it becomes an insulator and inhibits the current flow.

The cooling system also works harder during hot temperatures to prevent overheating of the engine. To keep the cooling system working effectively, the coolant and distilled water mixture for a vehicle’s radiator should be 50:50. As a reminder, never open a hot radiator cap when checking the coolant level in the reservoir. As a rule of thumb, the coolant should be changed annually on most vehicles. This will keep the cooling system fresh and clean inside, which helps prevent corrosion and assures that the coolant has the proper boiling point and protection. A pressure test, thermostat test, a cooling fan test and a visual inspection for leaks and corrosion should also be done annually. Hoses and drive belts should be checked for cracks, bulges or frayed edges. The radiator should be kept clean by periodically using a garden hose and a soft brush to carefully remove bugs, dirt and debris.

Tires also need special care in warmer weather as high temperatures put added stress on them. To maximize tire life and safety, check the tire condition and inflation pressure monthly, and have the tires rotated every 6,000 miles. Summer heat will cause the pressure within a tire to rise, therefore, it’s important to check the pressure when tires are cold. The owner’s manual includes the recommended air pressure for your vehicle’s tires.

“It takes very little time and money to make sure your car runs properly during summer, and although breakdowns happen, they can definitely be minimized by taking a few extra preventive maintenance steps,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

The council reminds motorists that the vehicle’s exterior also can be damaged by sunlight, UV radiation, acid rain, salt, dirt and air pollution. To protect the paint and finish, vehicles should be washed weekly and waxed every six months.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council’s Car Care Guide or for more information, visit

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July 19, 2010

Someone Parked Illegally in a Spot for the Disabled? Here's What To Do About It.

Handicap Space Flyer Have you ever seen someone illegally parked in a spot reserved for people with disabilities and wished you could do something? Yeah, me too. But since smashing a headlight is, well, politically incorrect, the good folks at United Spinal developed a much more genteel way to make your feelings known. Their handy “Just a Minute… is 60 Seconds Too Long!" leaflet lets the driver know (in the politest way possible) that what they're doing is unethical and illegal. Simply slip one of these informative reminders under the offender’s windshield wiper and you’ve made your point... and feel that much better for it. 

Download a "Just a Minute" PDF file for free or order 100 leaflets for $10, and learn more about our CEO Jody DeVere's commitment to United Spinal.

Joanne HelperinJoanne Helperin
Consumer Marketing Director, Blog Editor, Inc.

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