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Category: Car lovers

Cars are not so environmentally friendly. The latest CO2 emissions data (2017) puts the U.S. as the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gasses, only second to China. And one-third of that contribution is from transportation. We all need transportation to get to and from work and other activities, especially here in the sprawling land of Texas. Often, cars are among the least eco-friendly.

But just because transportation is problematic doesn’t mean we can’t use it while reducing our carbon footprint. There are many steps we can take to reduce emissions while driving.

First, take the quiz to see how much you know about being an eco-friendly driver. Then, read more about these questions (and their answers) below.

Are you an eco-friendly driver?

In 2015 transportation emissions accounted for about a third of total emissions in the U.S. Passenger vehicles make up 60 percent of this. New technology has allowed for lower emissions in vehicles, but there are other ways your drive can impact the environment as well.

Take the quiz below to see how much you know. Then, read more about these answers below.


As you can see, being efficient isn’t always straightforward. Here are our answers and why they’re important.

1. What is the best way to conserve energy on the road?

There is some truth to each of these statements. Turning the AC off and rolling the windows down can reduce your fuel consumption, but only when going about 40 mph or under. And even then, it depends on your type of vehicle.

Going an average of 55 mph is an agreed-upon speed for optimum efficiency, but not 65 mph. And turning off headlights can save a bit of gas, but, this too, depends on the type of headlights. The effects of both can be marginal.

The one consistently useful tactic of conserving energy is to start and stop gently. Gas is wasted on sudden increases or decreases of speed. While slow stops and starts may not be viable in every situation on the road, it’s a good rule to drive by.

2. What sort of car is the most eco-friendly?

Your best bet for an eco-friendly car is going to be an entirely electric sedan. Some all-electric options include the Audi A3 e-Tron SUV, the Chevrolet Bolt, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, the Kia Niro EV, and, as mentioned in the answer, the Nissan Leaf.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are recently-recalled Volkswagen models that include the 2014 Jetta. Several VW models faked their emissions test results and actually produce more emissions than recommended by the EPA.

3. Which of these has an impact on your fuel efficiency?

All of these answers had big impacts on fuel efficiency. Cars vary greatly on MPG. Hills and rough roads can contribute to a lower fuel efficiency because your car will have to work harder against the elements of friction and gravity.

One factor you may not have realized, that impacts your carbon footprint, is the kind of electric grid your city has. However your state fuels electricity determines whether that energy is high or low emissions in the long run. If you’re charging up your EV in West Virginia, odds are you’re doing more harm than you would using gas-powered vehicles. Why? Because 92% of West Virginia’s power grid is fueled by coal-fired electric plants, and coal emits more CO2 than gasoline.

4. Which of these is not a direct fuel source for cars?

This is a little more straightforward. There is no way to power your vehicle via wind (at least not yet!), though some cities partly power their electric grid with wind energy. This energy is more eco-friendly than coal-produced electricity.

5. A typical passenger vehicle produces about how many tons of carbon dioxide per year?

The average vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of CO2 every year. That’s over 10 thousand pounds just for one family vehicle.

6. Which of these is not helpful in reducing your transportation footprint?

There’s no advantage to keeping a low vehicle occupancy except for the extra weight causing a bit of drag. Overall, it’s more eco-friendly to carpool when possible to reduce the number of trips taken.

Talking about reducing trips, doing all your errands in one go will save gas, as opposed to taking several separate car rides.

Idling through the drive-thru is taking a greater toll on the environment as lines for fast food grow. In 2018, an average of 234 seconds was spent in drive-thru lines. That’s several minutes you could be saving gas by walking in the door.

Another way to reduce your car emissions is to unload unnecessary weight and/or drag. Especially if you have an outside weight like a kayak loaded on the luggage rack or a tow trailer attached.

7. Which of these car maintenance items can help you get your best MPG?

Car maintenance helps make sure your car isn’t using more energy than it needs to. For things to run smoothly, you’ll want to keep it in top condition.

 8. Which is a benefit of electric vehicles?

People may actually wave at you on the street, but it’s not likely. The biggest advantage to an electric vehicle is that they quickly make up for their (typically) high price tag in energy savings. Unfortunately, their emissions do not fight CO2 emissions, but we can’t have it all, can we?

To find a smart, efficient vehicle, visit the EPA’s website.

For more helpful car and safety information, follow us on Facebook.

A red classic convertible sits on the side of a road with the sunset in the background
These bad habits could be getting your car to the end of the road sooner than you think.

Whether your car is your beloved baby or simply the reliable way you get around, it is an important tool and a big investment. The longer you can keep your car on the road and avoid spending big bucks on a new vehicle, the better.

But many people unintentionally make mistakes that shorten the length of their car’s life. Here are the five most common ways people reduce their car’s lifespan and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.

  1. Making a mess

How your car looks shouldn’t affect its lifespan, right? Actually, grit and grime can lead to excess wear and tear on a vehicle, on both the interior and exterior of the car. What’s more, having a messy car can affect how you take care of it in other aspects. Keeping a car looking nice and clean can motivate you to be more aware of the vehicle’s care, and more likely to take it into a shop when it needs professional attention.

  1. Putting the pedal to the metal

Are you a little too eager to lay on the gas or the brakes? Not only can reckless driving be dangerous, but it can also cause greater wear on your vehicle. You’ll do your car a favor (and keep the streets safer) by staying a calm, safe driver.

  1. Not scheduling regular check-ups

Just like you have regular doctor’s visits for preventative care, your car should get check-ups too. Have a professional take a look at your car twice a year to ensure that everything is running smoothly. This step can save you money in the long run and can add years to the lifespan of your car. In Texas, yearly inspections help make sure cars are in good running condition.

  1. Being lax on level-checking

While it is important to get your car in for regular maintenance, you shouldn’t leave it all to the professionals. Take a few minutes every couple of weeks to check things like tire pressure, oil levels, and transmission fluids. Many people skip this simple step in car care, and it can cause serious damage in the long haul.

  1. Shrugging off symptoms

If you hear or feel a strange rattle in your vehicle – don’t ignore it. If you catch and solve a small problem early, you can often prevent it from becoming a major issue and a huge expense. So when that rattle shows up, go pay your mechanic a visit and get some professional advice.

By taking care to not make these all-too common mistakes, you can keep your vehicle running like a dream for miles and miles.

For more car care tips, follow us on Facebook.

Here is an easy-to-make organizer to keep the backseat from lapsing into chaos on the road. This will hold snacks, toys, books, and necessities like sunglasses or umbrellas.

Here are the steps to make it:

1. Buy a hanging shoe caddy with cubby slots. These are typically long, so you’ll want to clip it to size. Binder clips should be sufficient here.

2. Thread a ribbon or string through the holes at the top. Make the loop fairly small, so that it’ll hold it right up to the top of the seat. Put it around the base of the headrest holder, then put the headrest on after.

3. Put your kids’ necessities in the organizer and hit the road!

*Pro-tip* If the organizer moves too much, you can hook the clips to the base of the seat with small Command Hooks.

 

See more kid-friendly road trip hacks on the blog.

This card game is not only simple, but it’s engaging for all members of the car, including the adults. They are durable and spill-proof for the inevitable backseat messiness and chaos.

Here are the steps to making this fun addition to your road trip:

1. Print questions

Find “Would-You-Rather?” questions on the web. Some have different tones than others – make sure you’re getting child-friendly questions. If your kids are older, you might find some that get a little more difficult.

Put these on a piece of paper divided by 6 squares. You can write them by hand or copy and paste them onto a document to print out. Double-sided allows you to pack more questions into your card stack.

2. Cut and laminate

Cut out the squares, then place them on a sheet of laminate (get the self-laminating sheets if you don’t have access to a laminating machine). Follow the directions to laminate, then cut the squares out again, leaving a border of laminate around the edges of the cards to keep them sealed in.

3. Hole punch and loop

Hole punch the top left corner of your cards and put them all on a binder ring. Clasp the ring shut and you have a compact card game that’ll entertain the car for hours.

See more kid-friendly road trip hacks on the blog.

A toyota SUV sits in a campground
Family road trips are fun but also complicated. Make it a little easier with these hacks for the kids.

Road trips are hard. There’s so much prep for a long excursion, and keeping the kids entertained isn’t the most of your worries. We’ve put together a few “life-hacks” for keeping the kids organized and entertained on the road.

Read more for how-to’s and details.

1. Shoe organizer for toys

a pair of hands puts an umbrella, a cat toy and a rainbow pencil pouch in a hanging shoe organizer hanging in the backseat.
Use a shoe caddy to organize your child’s toys and road trip necessities.

Your kids use a lot of toys and accessories when it comes to a road trip, which can end up all over the backseat (and under the seat). This organization caddy allows for easy access to your kids’ stuff, which is not only easier, but safer when it comes to you reaching into the backseat to grab something they need.

Most shoe organizers are quite long (meant to hang the length of a door), so you’ll need to either cut it to size or (what we prefer) clip the excess back. Then, use a ribbon to hang it on the headrest of the front seat. Next step: Fill with toys, books, sunglasses, water bottles, snacks and more.

Here’s our video on how to make it.

2. Road trip bingo

A traffic-themed bingo card
Use a laminated bingo card to entertain your children

This game is easy to play for kids of all ages and simple enough that you only need one sheet and a marker.

You can make your own using online design tools, or you can buy one ready on Etsy, like this one from Rainbows and Rainboots. Keep your bingo card neat and erasable with a laminate sheet.

Give your kid a dry-erase marker to cross off squares, and they’ll easily be able to wipe it clean and start over again. Washable markers work in a pinch, but don’t stay on the laminate well.

3. Question card game

a stack of laminated question cards sits on a purple clipboard on a white surface
These question cards will keep your kids entertained with zero mess.

For school-age kids, they may enjoy a fun game of “Would-You-Rather?” These cards are on a binder ring for safe keeping, and double-sided cards allow for a lot of questions for discussion.

For this, print out questions, double-sided, on equal-sized squares. Cut them out. Then, line them up on a laminating sheet and seal them. Cut them out again (cutting them the first time allows more edges for the laminate to stay together) and hole-punch the top corner. Loop them on a binder ring, and you’ve got a compact, durable game for hours of fun.

See our how-to video to make them here.

4. Washable window markers

A hand draws flowers and designs on a car window with colored markers
The car window is a big canvas for kids to draw.

Is your kid an artist in the making? Pack along some washable markers for them to draw on the window. Don’t worry – they wash off easily, and if your kids need a fresh canvas, they can wipe it clean and start over.

5. Marker and art supply storage

A child sits and draws on a window with a marker, and a clear shower caddy holds a colorful array of markers
Store your kids’ markers in a handy shower caddy.

Worried about losing all those washable markers? Get a little shower caddy for the window. These cheap little caddies will keep your kids’ markers in one place.

Want more car tips and fun facts? Follow AMM on Facebook.

An all-way stop sign set against a blue sky and white clouds.
There are a lot of weird laws out there.

Honestly, with America being a sprawling nation, it’s practical for different areas to have different driving laws. Some terrain requires different safety than others, some cities are prone to different (bad) driving habits, and people in different areas have different takes on what makes drivers safer.

With that in mind, there are some driving laws that are just plain wacky. Here are a few of our favorites.

A sepia photo of a one way sign in front of a brick wall with a window.
Going down a one-way is OK in Alabama, on one condition.

Alabama

An old law says that drivers can go the wrong way on a one-way as long as they have a lantern attached to the front of the vehicle.

Arkansas

Don’t honk your horn at a sandwich shop in Little Rock – it’s illegal for drivers to honk “at any place where cold drinks or sandwiches are sold after 9 p.m.”

California

It is illegal in CA for women to drive in…a bathrobe?

It’s also illegal to shoot animals from a moving vehicle. Unsurprising, but quite specific.

A car with a black interior has the front driver door open, showing the steering wheel and dash panel
You might need this vital car part in Illinois … or if you want to drive at all.

Illinois

Just in case you didn’t know the steering wheel is of vital importance, Illinois made it illegal to drive without one.

A man leads a camel down a paved, dusty desert road.
Is this normal, Nevada?

Nevada

It is illegal in NV to drive a camel on the freeway. But not on city streets, where you’re free to hold up traffic to your heart’s content.

New Jersey

Dogs and other pets must buckle up in the car or at least be in a pet carrier. One too many drivers were distracted by pets sitting on their laps while driving.

Also, those who have been charged with a DUI cannot apply to get a vanity license plate if the incident was within 10 years of the application. Trivial, but their lawmakers’ hearts were in the right place, I guess.

a green gas nozzle is inserted into the gas tank of a silver car
Women still pump their own gas there. Rebels.

New Mexico

Women are not legally permitted to pump their own gas or change their own tire. Of course, that’s assuming there will be a man around to do it for them.

New York

In Sag Harbor, it is illegal to disrobe in your vehicle.

boy leans forward while roller blading down a paved road with green grass in the background
This isn’t legal in some states.

Ohio

Rollerblading on the road in Ohio is illegal. Get off the road, kids!

South Carolina

In Hilton Head, it is illegal to have trash in your car.

close up photo of windshield wipers on a clean windshield
Even if you’re (legally) driving without a windshield in Texas, you’ll still need these.

Texas

In Lubbock, it’s illegal to drive within an arm’s length of alcohol.

In Richardson, U-turns are illegal.

In Galveston, it’s illegal to drive down Broadway before noon on Sunday.

Also, across the state, it’s illegal to drive without windshield wipers. Though there is no law against driving without a windshield!

The interior of a Mercedes, featuring a leather steering wheel and dashboard.
You don’t have to have a luxury or new vehicle to have the features you want.

Have you ever found yourself lusting over luxury car features you know you could never afford? New technology has made cars more comfortable, safe, and connected than ever.

The good news is that many of these features can be added to your older vehicle. We’ve compiled a few of our favorite add-ons that can make your car feel up-to-date.

Seat warmers

A close-up of a front driver's seat with a black pad strapped to the bottom and back of the seat. Red arrows show where the heat goes.
Seat warmers are an easy and affordable addition to any car.

On cold days, seat warmers are the envy of every bum. These seat warmers sit on top of your seat and often have extra cushioning as well. Just slip over your seat and plug into the cigarette lighter and your buns will be toasty in no time.

Backup camera

A close-up of a florida license plate shows a small round black camera at the top middle.
This discreet backup camera fits on top of your license plate.

You don’t have to have a newer car to have a backup camera. Plenty are now available from popular electronic retailers. Just place the camera on your back bumper or license plate and you’ll be able to watch from your in-car screen. No need to be afraid to back into a parking space anymore.

Lane assist and collision warning sensors

Photo of online listing for a Garmin dash camera and description.
This dash cam doubles as a lane-assist device.

Not only are these helpful to give you peace of mind, but crash-prevention sensors are shown to reduce collisions. These are often on the pricey side, but often cheaper to add on your own than buying the car with the features built in at the dealership.

This Garmin camera works as both a dash cam and a lane-assist device. Some devices come with sensors for each corner of your car that improve the accuracy of collision warning.

Bluetooth connectivity

A photo of a small round device with three buttons.
Bluetooth connectors like this are an easy shortcut to hands-free connectivity.

There are several options for connecting audio in your vehicle, but the easiest by far is using a Bluetooth receiver. The receiver sticks to your dash via magnet and plugs into the audio input in your car. It allows you to play music or make hands-free calls through your car speakers.

Bluetooth connection is a gamer changer for both convenience and safety – and in some cities/states making a call is only legal hands-free.

Remote start

Photo of a remote start product in a yellow box labeled Viper. The box shows a phone and parked cars in the background.
Devices like this can start your car with a push of a button.

Though it requires installation, it’s easy and affordable to get a remote start system put into your older vehicle. Starting remotely can help you heat up or cool down the car before you get in. Many also come with a GPS component that can help you locate your car when you forget where your car is in the parking lot.

For more car tips and information, visit AMM on Twitter.

Whether or not you have a spare pool noodle lying around your garage, these foam tubes can be great for more than fun in the pool. We have a couple of ways to use them for your car.

Protect your paint

Photo shows a car door opened against a pool noodle, cut in half and placed on the wall.
Protect your car doors from hitting the garage wall with strategically placed pool noodles.

When you pull your car in the garage, it can sometimes be a tight fit. To prevent hitting your car door on a hard wall, cut the noodles in half and adhere a few horizontally against the wall of your garage. When your door swings open, they’ll provide a soft bumper between your door and the wall.

You can also put some at the front end of your garage, and you’ll never have to worry about accidentally hitting the wall in front of the car.

For the kid’s seat

Do you have a small child who still requires a car seat? If so, this hack is perfect for you.

Photo shows a rear-facing car seat secured in the backseat with pink pool noodles wedged between the seats.
Use a pool noodle or two to fill the gap between baby’s seat and the backseat.

For rear-facing car seats, most parents struggle with filling that gap between the baby’s seat and the backseat. This gap can cause the seat to wobble which is unsafe for the baby. Some car manuals suggest you use a rolled-up towel, but sometimes the towel does not fill the space tightly enough to secure the seat.

Instead, take two or three pool noodles (depending on the size of your car seats’ gap) and cut them to the width of the base of your car seat. Be sure to reference your baby’s seat manual because some car seats ask specifically ask that you don’t use the noodles.

For more tips like these, follow us on Facebook.

Photo shows the back of a hatchback car open, showing a fully-packed interior.
Before you pack up the car, take the time to do some regular maintenance checks.

Are you planning a weekend getaway, or visiting your family for the holidays? It can get complicated just to load the car up with the family just to go to the movies, let alone a long drive. And when you have a long drive, there are other concerns to address before hitting the road other than music and snacks.

This list is meant to cover all the ordinary checks you’ll want to do before an extended drive, to make sure you and your family are driving safe.

1. Check your dash and lights

Make sure there aren’t any warning lights on your dashboard. If there are, take your car to a mechanic to will check the on-board diagnostics with a scanning device. It works like a computer and reads if there’s anything wrong with the vehicle. This step will help you find out the causes behind the warning lights and how they can be fixed.

Check your headlights too. Turn them on and off to make sure they are all working. If not, head to your local auto parts store to buy some new bulbs. Being visible to other drivers is a key safety issue, and drivers who use their headlights all day have a decreased risk of being in an accident.

Also, if you haven’t driven the car recently, take it for a test drive on the freeway, listen for noises, feel for shakes, and watch for trouble signs in the gauges.

2. Tire Pressure and Tread

One hand holds a pressure dial while the other holds the other end into a car tire.
Tires are a major safety concern. Check tire pressure and tread before taking an extended drive.

Look in your car’s manual for the recommended tire pressure. People often think the numbers on the tire is pressure, but it’s the maximum amount the tire can hold. Overfilling the tire combined with hot weather can lead to a blowout.

Be sure to add the correct amount of air to your tires. Inspect the tread on your tires. Balding tires can increase your chance of a blowout and reduce traction.

3. Engine Oil and Coolant

Check your oil levels and the mileage you’re due for an oil change. If you’re nearing your mileage suggested for an oil change, go ahead and do so before you hit the road.

So be sure to check your coolant levels as well. You don’t want to be stranded with an overheated car.

4. Brakes 

Make sure to check your brake pads. If they squeal, or its been over 50,000 miles since you replaced your brakes, it’s a safe bet to just replace them before you get on the road.

You can also do a little at-home test looking at your brake pads through the spaces between the wheel’s spokes. The outside pad will be pressed against a metal rotor. There should be at least 1/4 inch of pad if you see less than that you may want to go ahead and replace them.

5. Transmission

A transmission is what changes the gear of an engine, and both your transmission and drive axle have their own lubricant. Check them before you get on the road. Look to your owner’s manual for guidance or take it to a local transmission shop for a quick refill.

6. Belt 

Most of cars have features that can’t run without the belt, like the alternator, water pump, power steering and even the air conditioning. You can easily check the belts by turning them sideways and making sure there are no rips or tears or by taking your car to a local auto parts store.

Get your belts changed out if the auto parts store recommends it. If you’re vehicle savvy, watch this video below on how to change them at home.

 

7. Battery

While it can be a bit difficult to spot if you have a good or bad battery, there are steps you can take to make sure there is a strong connection to the car’s electrical system.

Mix two tablespoons of baking soda in a clean container, use a toothbrush to clean your battery then wipe the mixture away.

8. Documents

Make sure your documents are up-to-date. Carry your insurance papers, registration, driver’s license, and any other vehicle information that might be helpful during your trip.

9. Emergency Kit

Image shows emergency kit items in front of yellow background, including a water bottle, gloves, and jumper cables.
An emergency kit can easily help you in what might be an otherwise dire situation. (Photo credit: Geico.com)

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Have an emergency kit with some essential items for if you get stranded or have car trouble.

A few things to think about include a few blankets, a bright flashlight, jumper cables, and some basic tools like a screwdriver or wrench.

Family road trips are a great way to bond and see parts of the world you’ve never been before. Make sure your car is ready to safely get you there and back. To find other great road trip tips follow us on Instagram.

A clean white sports car with black leather interior sits with the door open.
Detailing your vehicle doesn’t mean you need fancy solutions or a professional cleaner. Use these simple tips to get it clean in no time.

If you spend time in your car at all, chances are it will get dirty. The good news is that cleaning your car doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. You don’t need fancy cleaning products or an auto detailing to get your car looking the way you want.

AMM Collision has you covered with these simple clean car tricks. With simple household supplies, you can get your car cleaned in no time!

1. Bumper Stickers

Do you have faded or peeling bumper stickers? It may be time to peel them off. If you’ve ever tried, you know that it’s not always easy to get them off without damaging your paint or leaving traces.

What does the job? Hair Dryer.

Illustration of a hand holding a black hairdryer, pointed at a red sticker on the back windshield.
Applying heat to a bumper sticker can help it come off easier.

Hold the hair dryer few inches above the center area of the sticker. Slowly start moving the dryer to the corners of the sticker. Heat for about 45 seconds and the corners should peel up easily. Finally, use a credit card to peel it up from the corners. If you still have sticky residue, try spraying with WD-40, wait a minute, then wipe away. Your car will look clean and well-kept without those old pesky stickers.

2. Small Crevices

Not only do the smaller areas in our cars accumulate dust, but it can also get sticky and gross over time. Plus, your car won’t look nice and clean if you have dirty crevices.

What does the job? Q-tips or Flat Screwdriver

Wrap a cloth around the head of a flat screwdriver or use a Q-tip to reach into the tight and small crevices inside your car. You’ll get all the dirt and dust out of these areas in no time!

3. Dusty Interior

Dust causes allergies, and we have enough of them in Central Texas as it is. For the larger areas, you’ll want something more than a Q-tip.

What does the job? Coffee Filter or Sponge Brush

A hand swipes a white coffee filter over a dashboard, then shows the dirt it picked up.
Coffee filters make a great duster in a pinch.

Use the coffee filter to dust out larger areas and use the sponge brush to clean the vents and other tighter areas.

4. Stains

Who hasn’t taken their coffee on the road…in a flimsy to-go cup. We all have taken food or beverages with us when we’re in a rush, and some are messier than others. Getting a stain in your car doesn’t make for a great day. Having a constant reminder lingering in your upholstery is even worse.

What does the job? Hydrogen Peroxide

Illustration shows 2/3rds cup of water and a hydrogen peroxide bottle labeled 1/3 cup.
A mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide can lift upholstery stains.

Not only is it cost effective, this solution is simple. All you need is to fill a bottle with 1/3 hydrogen peroxide and 2/3 water. Spray and scrub away the stain. There’s no better feeling than getting rid of a stain and seeing clean carpet underneath.

**NOTE: If you have dark colored carpet, test an area with the hydrogen peroxide first since it can cause discoloration. If this is a problem, just add more water to dilute the solution.

5. Dashboard Love

Why stop at dusting when you can make your car shine? Dashboards are a visually-prominent part of any car and keeping it from cracking will keep it looking good.

What does the job? Vaseline

Pictures show a hand dabbing a cloth into a container of Vaseline, then rubbing cloth on a dashboard.
Keep your dashboard shiny using a small amount of Vaseline.

Wipe away the dust with Step 3. Once the area is dry, massage a tiny amount Vaseline onto the dashboard using a rag. This will help your dashboard look shiny and new, and prevent cracking.

We hope we saved you time and money with these car cleaning hacks! Comment below with your own car hacks or how these turned out. Keep up with everything AMM by following us on Facebook.

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