3 out of 4 Car Seats Installed Wrong

car seatInstalling a car seat for your child may seem like a simple task, but it should be taken very seriously. These devices keep children safe in vehicles, and it’s scary to think that roughly 75% of car seats could be installed improperly.

AAA shares the top six car seat installation mistakes:

1. Not using a safety seat.

Safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Additionally, using a booster seat with a seat belt for older children reduces the risk of injury by 59 percent.

2. Not reading safety seat instructions.

With so many parents incorrectly installing car seats, it’s important to read the seat’s manual, as well as the car’s owner manual.

3. Using restraints for older children too soon.

Toddlers should not be turned face forward until they are at least two and the maximum weight for the seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children under age 13 should sit in the back seat.

4. Installing safety seats too loosely.

A properly installed car seat should not move more than 1 inch in any direction. You should use your car’s seat belt or LATCH system to secure a safety seat, but not both (unless stated by the manufacturers).

5. Adjusting seat harnesses incorrectly.

According to AAA, “Safety seat harnesses should always be snug and lie flat without twists. Harnesses should be at or below the child’s shoulders when rear-facing and at or above the shoulders when forward-facing in order to hold the child’s body upright and against the seat. The chest clip should be positioned at armpit level.”

6. Keeping loose items in vehicle.

Secure all loose items in a car, including purses, umbrellas, groceries, etc. If you are forced to make a sudden stop, these items could harm a child.

Here’s some tips from the NHTSA:

  • Determine if your child is in the right seat for his or her age and size;
  • Read the instructions and labels that come with your child’s car seat and read the vehicle owner’s manual for important information on installing the seat in your particular vehicle;
  • Go to your local car seat inspection station to have your seat checked by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician;
  • Use the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) restraint system or seat belt to install your car seat and use the top tether to secure forward-facing car seats;
  • Register your car seat and booster seat at SaferCar.gov so you will be informed if there is a safety recall on your model; and
  • Always wear your seat belt to set a good example. Unbuckled drivers are more likely to have unrestrained children in the car.

What are the biggest mistakes that you think people make with car seats?

Beware of Potholes

PotholeAlthough it’s nice and sunny today, not too long ago snow blanketed the streets. We’re happy to see that cold weather go, but now we’re left with the annoying aftermath — potholes.

In March 2014, AAA responded to 27,639 tire-related calls and from the looks of things, this year could be just as treacherous. Actually, pothole damage cost our nation $6.4 billion last winter. In order to avoid damaged tires, bent axles, ruined wheel alignment, and costly repairs, AAA has a few tips for motorists:

  • Keep an eye on traffic patterns. Cars that slow down or move quickly to other lanes may be a sign of major potholes or road damage ahead.
  • Beware of snow, ice or water that may be concealing a deep pothole.
  • Report major potholes or road damage to your state or local transportation department.
  • Avoid swerving. Swerving can cause a loss of vehicle control.
  • Slow down. Carefully avoid sharp impact with potholes.
  • Roll through. Rolling through the pothole is better than braking rapidly.
  • Inflate tires properly. Over inflated and under inflated tires increase risk of tire and wheel damage.

Be sure to take these tips seriously, but make sure you stop and think if your vehicle does get damaged as a result of a pothole. Remember that filing a claim with your insurance could affect your rates in the future. According to a survey by Trusted Choice® and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) , 65% respondents who needed repairs opted to pay for them out of pocket.

For more about pothole repair in our area, check out this article by CBS Philly.

Winter Car FAQs

There are so many myths when it comes to proper car care in the winter that it’s pretty hard to keep them all straight. We often have customers ask us about the best ways to start their cars and get moving on cold mornings, so we decided to compile them all into one FAQ post.

Q. Should I let my car warm up before driving?

A. Unless your was built before 1990, the answer is no. Modern cars don’t have carburetors that need to warm up. Post-1990 vehicles should be ready to go in just 30 seconds. For more information, refer to a previous blog post.

Q. Should I start my car every day that it’s cold, even if it’s not being driven?

A. This is not necessary. In fact, there’s evidence that starting it without driving or taking short trips could cause damage to the vehicle. In any case, you’ll be needing more frequent oil changes.

Q. Do I need to drive around after getting a jump?

A. This one is true. After getting a jump, you should drive around for about 20 minutes to allow the battery to continue charging. Otherwise, you may have a hard time getting the car to start on your next errand.

We hope these answers put some family arguments to rest and allow you to operate your car confidently through what is left of winter. If you do get stuck out on the road, don’t forget to call Bob & Joe for a tow!

car in snow

Auto Insurers Pressuring Repair Shops to Use Cheap Parts

Broken HeadlightIn a new article released by CNN, auto repair shops throughout the country are making claims that major auto insurance companies are pressuring them to use cheap or damaged parts for repairs or risk losing business.

In some cases, these faulty parts can make a vehicle dangerous to drive. However if the shop refuses to make the cheap repairs, the insurance company will steer business away and point their clients toward a shop that is willing to go along with the program. While most major insurance companies deny these claims, more than 500 garages from 36 states are joining in a lawsuit against them.

According to CNN, an auto body shop owner in Monroe, Louisiana showed one of these “junkyard parts” to reporters. The insurance company sent a replacement headlight for a Toyota Tacoma that had clearly been damaged, then glued and screwed back together. CNN reported that he had taken the headlight out of the wrapping in that condition.

What does this mean for the customer?

Although an insurance company may provide you with a list of recommended repair and body shops, it is ultimately your choice where you take your vehicle. It’s against the law for an insurer to steer you toward a garage you don’t want to use.

After you’ve been in an accident, call your insurance and let them know where you’d like the car to be repaired. Next, ask for your claim number and provide to your trusted shop. At Direct Paint & Collision, we’ll take care of everything else.

For more information, read the entire CNN report.

Do You Need to Worry About Car Hackers?

Car TechnologyWe live in a world where our cars now know very much about us — everything from our favorite radio stations to our home addresses. Have you ever wondered what’s keeping this information safe when vehicles are connected to the internet? Or how easy it is for someone to gain access to this information?

According to computer engineers, access to your vehicle isn’t as secure as one might think. In fact, one day hackers could possibly have the ability to crash your car. According to CNNMoney, a report was compiled by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey’s staff that included inquiries from most major car manufacturers. The report found that although 100% of modern cars have wireless technology baked in, many of the access points to this technology are insufficiently protected.

The Findings

According to the source, you should think of your car like you would a smartphone. At least five major auto makers track your physical location, your car’s fuel and speed, and details about how you steer, use your seat belt, and apply the brakes.

Additionally, the report says that 50% of car makers collect driving history and transmit it to computer servers. Many auto companies assert a right to share this information with marketers. The report found that only two car makers allow drivers to disable data collection, five companies allow you to delete data from your dashboard, and two auto makers don’t collect personally identifiable information at all.

Now, Senator Markey is asking federal regulators to promote clear safety and privacy standards.

Keeping Your Car Clean in the Winter

winter carIn the winter, it’s common to see cars driving around covered in road salt. This white dusting is unsightly, and often lasts long after the snow has melted. However, you don’t have to be stuck  with this corrosive coating all season. Here are some tips to keep your car clean even when the weather’s cold.

Invest in Rubber Floor Mats
Your slushy, salty wet shoes are bound to soak the carpet in your car. If you don’t want to be left with stains and a musty scent, it’s a good idea to lay down towels then place rubber mats on top. this way, you’re protecting your floor and can throw the towels in the wash if they get dirty.

Keep Up with Regular Washes
Most people are hesitant to wash their vehicles in the winter, but regular washes are really the only way to keep them clean. Whether doing it yourself or going to a car wash, be sure to do it in the daylight when the temperature is at least 40 degrees. Use warm soapy water, and a dash of baking soda may help to get rid of the salt.

Dry, Dry, Dry
We can’t stress this enough. After you wash your car, be sure to dry it thoroughly to avoid freezing. You’ll even want to leave the doors open while you dry so that water doesn’t pool in the crevices and freeze them shut.

Be Mindful of Where You Park
Instinct might tell you to park your car in a heated garage. However, these garages often cause slush to melt and corrode your car’s paint quicker. While parking on the street opens your car up to the elements, frozen salt may actually be the safer choice.

Are You Still Idling Your Car on Cold Mornings? Don’t Believe the Myth.

Automobile_exhaust_gasFor many, winter mornings begin by letting the car warm up while they finish breakfast. While this time does allow for the cab to get toasty warm, are you aware that there is no actual need for that idling? In fact, unnecessary idling could be hurting your health and wallet.

Before the 1980’s, idling was a necessary practice for American drivers. Back then, carburetors needed time to warm up in order to get the right mix of fuel and air to start. However, automakers began swapping carburetors for fuel injector systems in the ’80’s. Modern fuel injector systems regulate the air to fuel ratio using oxygen sensors. The 1990 Subaru Justy was the last car sold with a carburetor. If you’re driving a post-1990 model car, your vehicle is ready to drive in just 30 seconds.

Here are some additional reasons you may want to give up idling for good:

  • A car idling for five minutes can increase fuel consumption by 7 to 14 percent, wasting gas and money.
  • Over time, idling reduces the engine’s performance and mileage.
  • Your car releases 1 pound of carbon dioxide for every ten seconds it runs. Idling greatly contributes to your carbon footprint.
  • Breathing too much car exhaust can increase your risk of cancer, heart and lung disease, and asthma.

We hope these tips are enough to convince you to quit idling. For more reasons, check out this article from the Havertown Patch.

Winter Driving Awareness Week

Econ_Salt_SpreaderAfter the first bad winter commute of 2015, PennDOT announced Winter Driving Awareness Week (Jan. 11-17) and supplied safety tips for PA drivers.

PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch reminded drivers that it is our own responsibility to ensure that our vehicles are prepared for winter driving before we hit the road. Schoch recommends having vehicles serviced by a trained mechanic, who can check the condition of the battery, cooling system, wiper blades, hoses, and tires.

PennDOT also warned to be extra cautious when driving around snow removal equipment. The following tips came from a PennDot news release:

  • Stay at least six car lengths behind an operating plow truck and remember that the main plow is wider than the truck.
  • Be alert since plow trucks generally travel much more slowly than other traffic.
  • When a plow truck is traveling toward you, move as far away from the center of the road as is safely possible, and remember that snow can obscure the actual snow plow width.
  • Never try to pass or get between several trucks plowing side by side in a “plow train.” The weight of the snow thrown from the plow can quickly cause smaller vehicles to lose control, creating a hazard for nearby vehicles.
  • Never travel next to a plow truck since there are blind spots where the operator can’t see and they can occasionally be moved sideways when hitting drifts or heavy snowpack.
  • Keep your lights on to help the operator better see your vehicle. Also remember that under Pennsylvania state law, vehicle lights must be on every time a vehicle’s wipers are on due to inclement weather.

For more winter driving tips, check out this article from the Havertown Patch.

Senior Drivers Support Tougher Driving Laws for Themselves

Grandpa's_first_car,_Model_T_coupe,with_artillery_wheels_Edward_a_O'DIt’s well known that, statistically, senior drivers tend to support stricter laws against texting while driving and driving under the influence. A lesser known fact recently revealed by the AAA Foundation is that more than seven out of ten drivers 65 and older favor a more thorough license renewal process for seniors over the age of 75.

Additionally, the AAA Foundation report found:

  • Nearly 80 percent of drivers over age 75 favor medical screenings for drivers ages 75 and older

  • Nearly 90 percent of older drivers (65 and older) reported no crashes in the last two years

  • Similarly, 90 percent of older drivers reported no moving violations

  • 65 percent of drivers age 75 and older reported never using a cell phone while driving compared to only 48 percent of the younger “older” drivers (those age 65-69) who never use a phone when behind the wheel

Earlier this year, the AAA Foundation also released the Understanding Older Drivers: an Examination of Medical Conditions, Medication Use and Travel Behaviors report that found:

  • 86 percent of those age 65 and older still drive
  • 84 percent of Americans age 65 and older hold a driver’s license compared to barely half in the early 1970s
  • 68 percent of drivers age 85 plus report driving five or more days a week

It seems that the generation who gets arguably the worst reputation as drivers is actually pretty hard on themselves. Also, these senior drivers may not have earned such infamy.

This information was gained from a AAA press release. For more information, visit this site.

Gifts to Give Your Car this Holiday

giftOur cars take a beating throughout the year — especially in winter. While you’re out getting gifts to spoil others this season, don’t forget that your car needs love too. We’ve put together a list of gift ideas for the vehicle (or vehicle lover) in your life.

1. All-Season Floor Mats

One of the worst things about driving in the winter is when snow and rain make their way inside your car. Not only will your floor end up soaked, often it stains and begins to grow mold. Rubber floor mats will protect your carpet from the weather, as well as any other spills that might occur.

2. New Tires

We often fail to check the condition of our tires until there is a serious problem. However, we have to seriously rely on our tires when driving in bad weather. As winter approaches, be sure to check the condition of your tires and replace them if the tread is too bare. Head into the snow with your best defense.

3. An Auto Detail

Sleet. Sludge. Salt. All of these things take a toll on your vehicle. If not properly taken care of, they could cause some serious damage. It’s especially inconvenient to perform a thorough cleaning yourself in the winter, so you might consider purchasing a professional detail.  At DPC, our detailing services include carpet vacuuming and shampooing, wheel and rim polishing, paint touch ups, and buffing.

4. New Windshield Wipers

Even if it never rains, windshield wipers only last six months to a year. Don’t wait until you’re squinting through a snowstorm to decide its time to replace yours. Your car deserves better than deteriorating bits of rubber, and so does its driver.

5.  Auto Care Kit

Of course, another great gift is the catch-all kit of odds and ends you’re bound to need at some point during your travels. This might include road flares or an empty gasoline container, or things to keep it clean like a new microfiber cloth and cleaning solution.

When you’re loading your car with gifts this holiday, don’t forget your vehicle may deserve a few of its own.