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Teen Driver Safety

Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicates that teen drivers are almost three times more likely to be killed in motor-vehicle crashes than those who are 20 or older. And the younger the person behind the wheel, the worse the numbers look: Drivers aged 16-17 have a fatal crash rate that’s nearly twice as high as those that are between 18 and 19. Moreover, for the first time since the IIHS began posting data about teen driving deaths in 2005, its most recently published annual statistics show an increase in fatalities. The goal of National Teen Driver Safety Week – which runs through October 22 – is to help get those trends moving in the other direction.

Teen Drivers and Smartphones: A Dumb Combination
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracks the number of fatal crashes with its Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The most recent data covers 2014, and according to this data, more than 2,600 teenagers died in motor vehicle crashes that year.

TeenDriverSource.org reports that another 243,000 were injured enough to be treated at hospitals. At the same time, it’s just three “critical errors” that lead to 75 percent of all serious teen driving crashes: drivers failing to adequately scan their surroundings, going too fast for the road conditions, and getting distracted.

Of course, there’s one distraction that does seem to be worse than others, and that’s the driver’s smartphone. Consider: Just this month, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute blogged results from a three-year study in which sensors and cameras had been installed in teen’s cars, to look at how they drive in real-world situations. What they found was that roughly one third of the teen drivers who crashed were actively using their phones at the time. About half of those drivers were texting. Engineer and study co-author James N. Megariotis wrote that “teens not only crash more frequently than adults, but also experience significantly more severe crashes at much higher speeds.”

Teens and Impaired Driving
Although teens generally don’t drink and drive as often as adults, TeenDriverSource.org says those that do make up some 27 percent of the annual crash deaths for individuals aged 16 to 20. Also, while 90 percent of teens surveyed said they “rarely or never” drive while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, 50 percent said they saw other teens drive while drinking, and 41 percent reported seeing other teens drive after smoking marijuana.

A more significant issue for teen drivers may be impairments caused by lack of sleep, especially since being awake 18 straight hours can have the same effect on them as a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08.

Yet Stanford University experts say that teen sleep deprivation has reached “epidemic” levels in this country, and one national poll noted that 87 percent of U.S. high school students receive “far less” than the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Indeed, TeenDriverSource.org also advises that young drivers need more than 9 hours of sleep each night for optimum driving alertness during the day. Teens who get less than 8 hours are one-third more likely to get into a car crash.

Teen Drivers and Peer Pressure
Having additional teen passengers in the car then adds to the risk of a crash. Thus, when a teen driver has two or more teen friends in the vehicle, a fatal crash is three times more likely to occur. There are differences between female and male teens, too. The statistics from TeenDriverSource.org show that both were distracted before crashing at approximately similar rates. But girls were four times more likely to be distracted with passengers in the vehicle than if they were driving alone. Boys were six times more likely to make an illegal driving maneuver with friends in the car, and twice as likely to have “acted aggressively.”

What You Can Do
TeenDriverSource.org provides resources for adults as well as teens, with information tailored toward educators, researchers, policymakers and parents and guardians. For example, if you have teen drivers of your own, provide them with ongoing support to develop good habits.

Setting ground rules and making sure they’re followed is particularly effective, based on a recent National Young Driver Survey. In that report, teens with involved, “authoritative” parents were 70 percent less likely to drink and drive, 50 percent less likely to speed, 30 percent less likely to use a phone while driving and twice as likely to wear their seatbelts. But stay positive, as trying to scare teen drivers into better behavior “rarely works,” and they may end up either feeling overwhelmed or tuning you out entirely.

What the Automakers Are Doing
It’s also worth pointing out that a growing number of automakers are launching new technologies specifically engineered with teen driver safety in mind. These systems already are available from the likes of Ford, Chevrolet and Hyundai, and they offer a variety of strategies to encourage safer driving, including the ability to limit the vehicle’s top speed and audio volume. Others can alert owners with text messages if the vehicle leaves a certain geographical area, or prevent key safety features from being deactivated. In-car alerts also can be set to remind drivers to use their seatbelts and to provide a longer advanced warning before running out of fuel.

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When Should I Change my Oil

An engine oil change is a relatively simple service. It’s widely touted as the single most important part of your car’s maintenance schedule.

There is a good reason for this. Nothing will shorten engine life faster than missed oil changes.

But how can you tell when you should change your oil?  

Advances in technology and increased consumer awareness have created some confusion to how often this needs to happen.

Visit our Car Maintenance Forum and discuss with others

The Easy Answer

For most of us, all we need to do is follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for oil change intervals. Their guidelines are designed to keep your car in good running condition for a long time.

Where can you find your car’s service schedule for oil changes and other recommended maintenance?

You can check the owner’s manual that hopefully you have kept in a handy place like your car’s glove box. You might also visit the manufacturer’s website and do a search to download it.

Quick lube shops have their own recommendations. One thing to remember is that these shops are speaking to a wide audience, addressing cars of every age, every mileage, and some with different needs.

While there is no harm done by too frequent oil changes, if your car doesn’t need them, that money could be better spent on other maintenance needs.

Don’t Put It Off

If you have ever put off a trip to the grocery store or waited a couple of weeks longer between haircuts, don’t do that with oil changes.

Your oil’s primary function is to cut friction.

Over time, oil accumulates contaminants and loses viscosity (the ability to flow into every nook and cranny). Contaminants cause friction as parts rub together. Friction wears out those parts faster.

The damage caused by these conditions is largely irreversible without an engine overhaul or replacement.

Waiting for the low oil light to come on can be the worst thing you can do to your engine.

You shouldn’t see that light unless your oil level is low. So you don’t want to see it. Whatever amount of oil you do have left almost certainly has lost its ability to function properly.

The good news is that your service schedule is written to have this service done long before disaster is on the horizon.

Cars are Smarter Now

For a very long time the gold standard for oil changes was 3,000 to 3,500 miles.

There are still many adherents to this philosophy, but it may not be necessary;

Advances in engineering to both engine mechanical parts and especially to oil itself have extended the oil life cycle by more than double the old number.

Do you use synthetic oil? 

Automakers recommend it for some models. It cost a little more than regular oil, but it has had the biggest impact on oil life.

The life cycle for synthetics is typically 7,000 to 10,000 miles, a big change from conventional oil.

The type of driving we do also affects our oil change needs;

Frequent cold starts, extreme heat, and towing, are all examples of types of driving that can shorten our oil life.

Also, repeated short trips (under 4 miles) is one of the most overlooked enemies of oil life.

Any of these driving conditions can create the need to shorten your service interval by 25-40% depending on the severity.

oil change indicator percentageOil change indicator in a Honda Civic.

If your car is equipped with a maintenance reminder on the dash, some of the guesswork is eliminated for you.

Can you trust it?

For the most part, yes.

In the early days of automobiles the only way we had to track our vehicle’s aging was the odometer. But miles traveled is not always a good indicator of actual use for many urban environments.

With the inclusion of computers in the modern automobile we now have a way for the car to track time AND mileage. Time is important to this discussion because running time affects oil life.

But not all maintenance indicators work the same way:

Some use an electronic sensor to measure the oil quality, while others use an algorithm based on driving metrics to determine life expectancy.

If your car is not equipped with maintenance light or gauge, the owner’s manual should still be your guide.

Don’t Buy Cheap Oil

All of these scenarios assume you are using the factory-recommended lubricant.

If you have opted for something inferior you may be adversely affecting the recommendation.

It’s not worth a few dollars to shortcut on the oil.

Track Your Maintenance

Because time is important as well as mileage, it’s nice to try and plan your service visits.

The little sticker in the corner of the windshield was a small, important innovation to help us plan. Before that, many people kept a paper record in their glove box as well.

But now, with many of us carrying smart phones and having home computers, it’s gotten even easier..

MyCarfax is a website – and a free smart phone app – that will track all of your car’s maintenance needs, making it even easier to keep track of, and plan, your next service.

10 Cheapest (and Most Expensive) Cars to Insure

10 Cheapest (and Most Expensive) Cars to Insure

Related: Which City Has the Most Expensive Car Insurance Rates?

The Odyssey averages an annual insurance premium of $1,112, the website found. That's a fraction of the insurance premium for the priciest car — a Mercedes-AMG S65 convertible, for which annual insurance costs average $3,835, or nearly three and a half times the Odyssey's. It's doubtful anyone who owns the $250,525 droptop cares about insurance premiums given a typical S65 lease would outstrip the annual coverage costs in all of one month. (And there's no way it fits all that soccer gear. So there.)

The website notes that minivans are often the least expensive cars to insure, but SUV-heavy Jeep held many slots for 2017, accounting for five of the 10.

Here are the 10 least-expensive cars to insure, ranked by average annual insurance premium:

1. Honda Odyssey LX ($1,112)
2. Jeep Renegade Sport ($1,138)
3. Jeep Wrangler Black Bear ($1,148)
4. Honda CR-V LX ($1,170)
5. Jeep Compass ($1,183)
6. Subaru Outback 2.5i ($1,187)
7. Jeep Cherokee Sport ($1,188)
8. (tie) Buick Encore ($1,190)
8. (tie) Jeep Patriot Sport ($1,190)
10. Subaru Forester 2.5i ($1,196)

The Jeeps listed are entry-level models and trims, Insure.com notes. That's a recurring theme among the cheapest cars; most of them are lower trim levels of their respective models. The group is generally capable of family hauling, too — a factor that may tend toward safer drivers.

At the other end are a litany of expensive, high-performance cars. The list shouldn't surprise you, though the frequency of Mercedes-Benz models might: The German brand accounts for six of the priciest 10 cars to insure, according to Insure.com, and four of those six come from the brand's high-performance AMG division. Hoi-polloi drivers: Next time an AMG blazes past, temper your jealousy by knowing its owner likely pays a lot more for insurance.

Here are the 10 most expensive cars to insure:

1. Mercedes-AMG S65 convertible ($3,835)
2. Dodge Viper GTS ($3,779)
3. Mercedes-AMG S63 convertible ($3,624)
4. Maserati Quattroporte GTS ($3,547)
5. Mercedes-Benz S550 convertible ($3,502)
6. Mercedes-AMG C43 convertible ($3,418)
7. Mercedes-Maybach S600 ($3,355)
8. Mercedes-AMG SL65 ($3,322)
9. Nissan GT-R NISMO ($3,313)
10. Audi R8 5.2 V10 ($3,267)

To compile the numbers, Insure.com says it acquired quotes in all 50 states from six major insurance companies for more than 2,800 cars (all for the 2017 model year) under the same scenario: a 40-year-old male who commutes 12 miles to work each day with typical policy and deductible limits. Not every car was available, the website says, particularly exotics. So it's possible a Ferrari or Lamborghini would cost even more. (Again, we doubt its owner cares.)

Repair costs, claim rates and vehicle type can influence insurance rates, Insure.com says, but so can many factors — including credit rating, age, driving record and location

How Often Do I Need to Change My Brake Fluid

How Often Do I Need to Change My Brake Fluid?

Replace brake fluid

CARS.COM — The recommended intervals for changing brake fluid are all over the board depending on the manufacturer, from as often as every two years to actually never. Wait, never? Really, never.

Related: Can Brake Fluid Go Bad?

For example, Chevrolet calls for a brake fluid change on most models every 45,000 miles, but Honda says to do it every three years regardless of the vehicle's mileage. Three years is also the recommended interval for most Volkswagens, but Mercedes-Benz vehicles typically call for fresh fluid every two years or 20,000 miles. In contrast, on the Ford Escape, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Camry and other models from those manufacturers, there are no recommendations for replacing the brake fluid, only instructions to inspect it periodically.

This leaves it up to the owner to consult what the manufacturer says in their car's maintenance schedule and rely on the advice of a trusted repair shop.

Brake fluid lives in a sealed system and can survive for years, but moisture from the surrounding air can work its way in through hoses and other parts of the brake system. If your brake fluid has become dirty or contaminated, it can change how your brake system operates — brake pedal feel can be affected, as can heat dissipation in repeated stops. Water in the brake lines lowers the boiling point of the fluid, so stopping ability can diminish in hard stops as heat in the system increases. In addition, over time the moisture can cause internal corrosion in the brake lines, calipers, the master cylinder and other components. 

Flushing and replacing brake fluid might cost $100 or less on many vehicles, but replacing rusted brake lines, brake calipers and other brake parts can run several hundreds of dollars, so clearly there's value in keeping up with maintenance. As a rule of thumb, it's wise to have the brake fluid inspected and tested for moisture content every few years, and no more than every five if you live in a high-humidity area. Drivers living in areas that get winter weather should also inspect their brake system frequently, as salt and other contaminants can get into the brake fluid. 

You might be able to tell it's time for a change by looking to see if the fluid is still fresh in the brake fluid reservoir, usually sitting on top of the master cylinder under the hood of your vehicle. Brake fluid is often light brown in color, and in some vehicles it's clear (at least when new) but will darken with age, becoming murky from water contamination. A better way is to have it tested by a professional for moisture and see what they recommend. Oftentimes you can have this service performed at the same place that performs a rapid oil change. Since the technician is already poking around under the hood, it's easy for them to take a sample and inspect all of your vehicle's fluids. 

Brake fluid is as vital to stopping a vehicle as engine oil is to keeping it going, but it doesn't get as much attention as it deserves.

Cars.com's Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com's long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don't accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com's advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

Contributor Rick Popely has covered the auto industry for decades and hosts a weekly online radio show on TalkZone.com. Email Rick

5 Ways to Upgrade the Tech in Your Older Used Car

5 Ways to Upgrade the Tech in Your Older Used Car

Older used cars offer much value, but they lack many of the features common to today’s models, including rearview cameras, USB ports and navigation systems. If buying newer may be beyond your budget, that doesn’t mean you have to do without today’s technology. The following are affordable upgrade ideas you can make to many older vehicles.

1. Add Navigation on the Cheap

Before there were in-car navigation systems, you had to rely on dash-mounted GPS systems manufactured by companies like Garmin or TomTom. Modern versions of these systems are still available. Or if your budget allows, consider investing in a new GPS navigation radio upgrade.

But there is a much more cost-effective upgrade, utilizing a device you likely already own: a smartphone.

Smartphones offer travel apps with turn-by-turn directions, including some that are better than what you’ll find in certain cars. For as little as $10, you can invest in a cell phone mount cradle holder to place on top of your dashboard, or choose a magnetic vent mount and position your phone there.

2. Get Remote Start for Your Car

Dread heading out to a car on a cold morning to face frigid conditions? Despise scraping ice off of the windshield and other windows before you can head out? Then, to top it off, the car door is frozen shut. Or perhaps you live in tropical climes, where your car resembles an oven, even first thing in the morning.

Some new models come equipped with remote start, which allows you to activate the ignition from the climate-controlled comfort of your home. Simply have the climate control system set appropriately the night before, activate the ignition, and your hot or cold car will be ready for you before heading out.

If your ride lacks it, it can usually be added for less than $200, plus installation. Look for a system with a long range as you may find yourself wanting to start your car from inside an office building or a shopping mall. Some systems include a security feature, while others can also lock or unlock car doors.

3. Add a USB Charger

Without a USB port, you may feel like a Luddite, especially as most new cars and trucks come with two or more outlets. Fortunately, a USB car charger adapter provides an ideal solution, plugging into a 12-volt outlet or cigarette lighter. Adapters typically have two outlets and provide charging for most current smartphones. Connect your dash-mounted smartphone to keep it charged while obtaining driving directions. It costs less than $20.

4. Improve Safety with a Rearview Camera

All cars and trucks manufactured after May 1, 2018 must be equipped with rearview cameras. Some newer used cars have them, but if yours doesn’t, an upgrade can be had for about $200.

Upgrading means swapping out your current rearview mirror for a new one with an embedded color LCD monitor. Choose one that also works at night. Some rearview monitor kits include a second camera input, which is an ideal way to add front, side or cargo camera monitoring. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says, “Backup cameras reduced the blind zone by about 90 percent on average.”

5. Update Your Audio System with Bluetooth

Bluetooth, the wireless technology used to exchange data, has been standard in many new cars since 2010. You can use Bluetooth to stream audio, make phone calls and transfer data between devices. Upgrading your car’s current audio system to one with built-in Bluetooth is possible for less than $150 before installation.

Adding the Latest Technologies to an Older Car

The older the vehicle, the more likely you don’t have such features as heated seats, a head-up display, lane departure warning or a heated steering wheel.

Whatever upgrades you choose for your older used car, make sure it provides you with everything you want. A warranty for costlier items makes sense.

By | November 6th, 2017|Car Tech

2018 Ford Fusion Review

2018 Ford Fusion Review

By Charles Krome (Last Updated 4/24/2018)
Original Source CARFAX
2018 Ford Fusion photo
  1. Original MSRP$22,215 - $38,990
  2. Price Range$15,993 - $22,995
  3. Average Selling Price$19,376
  4. Fuel Economy (MPG)21/32 City/Hwy
  5. Body StylesSedan
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