Category: Car technology and efficiency
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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Jump starting a car is something all car owners have to do at some point in their lives. Whether we left our headlights on overnight, or just need a new battery, it’s important to know how to start your car when it dies.
The good news is that the jumping part is pretty easy. The hard part is (often) finding another car to jump your own. But once you do, just follow these easy steps.
What you need:
The stalled car, a car with a working battery, and jump cables
Step 1: Make sure both cars are turned off: So the cables can reach, you want the engines of both cars near each other, but NOT touching.
Step 2: Connect one end of the red (positive) cable to the positive terminal (POS or +) on the car battery stalled. Do the same with the working battery.
Step 3: Connect the end of the black (negative) cable to the negative terminal (NEG or -) of the working battery.
Step 4: Connect the other end of the black (negative) cable to an unpainted metal surface on the car with the bad battery. Do not connect to the negative terminal of the car with the bad battery. This could result in the battery exploding.
Step 5: Start the car that has the good battery. Let the engine run for a few minutes before starting the car with the dead battery. If the car doesn’t start, let it run for a while longer. It may help to rev the engine of the good-battery car a bit to give it a boost.
Step 6: When it starts, remove the cables in reverse order and let the jumped car run for some time to give the battery a chance to properly recharge.
If your car does not start, you likely need a new battery.
For safety on the highway, we recommend you using a portable battery jumper. The process typically the same as mentioned above, except you won’t have to rely on another car for battery recharge power. This way, even if there is not another car available, or a safe place for another car to stop and help, you can get back on the road quickly.
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It’s been a full 8-hour workday and you’ve got to get to that family event back in your hometown tonight, several hours away. All you feel like doing is crashing on the couch with Netflix, but you brew yourself a fresh thermos of coffee and haul yourself into the driver’s seat. But with caffeine coursing through your veins and your favorite music blasting, you still feel your eyelids trying to close and your mind wandering from the road in front of you.
It’s not an unusual scenario, taking a trip after a long day, knowing you *probably* shouldn’t be driving? Sometimes it feels unavoidable, but we can, at the very least, do what we can ahead of time to make that trip safer and take care of our own well-being in the process.
And although long drives can be tough, the risk of falling asleep at the wheel can happen at any time, even in a 10 minute drive from work. Here are a few ways we can take care of ourselves to make sure we stay safe on the road.
This might be one of the most important factors of self-care driving.
Did you know that inadequate amount of sleep is equivalent to BAC of .08 or higher? Without proper rest, the areas in the brain responsible for concentration and memory are also affected. We start to have disconnected thoughts and become unaware of our surroundings.
Try to drive earlier in the day, or even take a nap midday, if you’re able. Even a short nap can make a big difference to your attentiveness. According to a NASA study, sleepy pilots who took a 40-minute nap experienced a 34% performance increase and a 100% increase in alertness.
Eat and Stay Hydrated
Always stay hydrated! Long drives are an opportunity to make sure you stay hydrated, but being hydrated ahead of time is just as important.
We want to be able to focus while driving and hunger is a big distraction. In addition, if you haven’t eaten, you probably don’t have enough of the nutrients you need to stay focused for the drive ahead. Don’t eat anything too heavy though, a food coma won’t help your focus.
We want to avoid as many distractions as possible while driving, and part of that looking after your driving needs ahead of time. Part of your self-care can be to keep your snacks and water within reach, and open difficult packaging ahead of time. If you don’t already, get a pair of comfortable sunglasses that reduce glare. If you’re driving in the winter, you might take off your top coat layer for a long drive (since the heater is probably going to warm things up before long).
Your phone is also a distraction while driving. You might use the GPS feature on your phone a lot, but instead of having to keep picking it up and looking at it, use the air vent mount for cars. This is one of the best purchases for hands-free driving, since it is easy to take on and off the mount, and is within your line of sight so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.
And for those other distractions on your phone, turn notifications off. If you have Bluetooth connectivity in your car, use it to pick up calls instead of holding the phone to your ear. Limit the things that make you take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. These self-care methods work to keep you safer and happier.
We want to feel comfortable while driving, especially during long drives.
Make sure you have comfortable clothes that don’t restrict your movement and shoes that are comfortable while operating the pedals. You don’t want to be in pain or feel like you can’t breathe or move freely. If this happens, we start to think about how uncomfortable we are, which means we are not focusing on the road 100%.
However, being too comfortable can have severe effects as well. We want to avoid creating an environment in our car where we just want to sleep instead of drive.
Keep Your Worries Off the Road
Despite all the risks involved with driving, never forget that driving can also be really relaxing! It can be a time to focus on yourself: Self-care within itself. Listen to an audio book, podcast, or some music you enjoy. You can find a way to use this time to unwind from your long day. Putting yourself in a relaxed, but enjoyable head-space can also reduce stress and make you less likely to react/act negatively toward other drivers.
Put all your worries behind you and off the road. You’ll be more focused to your surroundings and have a safer (and relaxing) drive!
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In-car screens, often referred to as vehicle infotainment systems, are becoming a common built-in feature on most newer cars. Like many other devices, including cell phones, these are adding to driver distractions, and consequently leading to accidents.
The AAA Foundation conducted a study recently that showed while the technology is convenient in some ways, it results in some startling statistics related to distractions while driving.
No-texting law in the Lone Star State
The most commonly talked about distraction while driving is a cell phone. That’s why legislation was created in Texas, and other states, to address this issue. As of September 1, 2017 in Texas, it is against the law to text, read, or write messages on your phone while driving. This law refers to handheld communication devices and does not address the in-car systems.
As with any device, officials urge drivers to only focus on the road while operating a vehicle.
Greater chance of having a collision
In the past, AAA has conducted studies on driver distraction and discovered that if a driver stops focusing on the road for just two seconds, it can double the chance of having a car wreck.
The recent study found that when drivers use the in-car technology systems, they had more than 40 seconds of mental and visual distraction. And about 40 percent of drivers nationwide use these systems.
The study compared drivers using 30 different types of systems, including those that allowed web surfing and checking social media sites. Any of these can lead to a serious car accident.
No one wants to experience an accident caused by distracted driving. If you do get into an accident, AMM Collision is here to repair your car so you can safely get back on the road again.
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Quality has always been a top consideration for collision repair shops when purchasing paint. But recently, many have had a growing concern for the effects of our products on the environment.
Choosing a body shop that will provide quality and be friendly to the environment takes research. When it comes to paints, ask body shops if they use water-based, or waterborne, paints.
Using waterborne paint
Waterborne paints have benefits beyond being safer to the environment than lacquer-based paints. Waterborne paint has heavier viscosity which means it provides about three coats of coverage in nearly half a millimeter of thickness. This means less clear coat is needed to even out the surface, and less materials is better when it comes to using resources.
Only technicians trained to use waterborne paint should apply it to a vehicle, for a quality result. Imperfections are easier to spot with waterborne paint, and it is tricky to work with in humid conditions.
The difference of waterborne paint
Many auto body shops use solvent-based paints, despite harsh toxins. This type of paint has higher levels of organic solvents and when it dries it releases Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the air. VOCs are known for being harsh on our health, as well as adding to smog conditions.
Water-based paints have improved over the years and are quickly replacing the use of solvent-based paint. Waterborne paints feature acrylic emulsions that now offer a faster drying time, similar to solvent paints. It also has less odor and greater durability.
Our team at AMM Collision is trained to provide an exceptional paint job to your vehicle using waterborne paints. Give us a call today for a free estimate.
Texas implemented a state no-text law for drivers in September 2017. While many counties already had cell phone bans, this new law bans reading and writing text communications across the state.
For some, it is an adjustment to wait to text or use hands-free devices, which is why we’re providing some tips.
Understanding the new law is not only important to avoid a fine and ticket, but also for safety.
Out of sight, out of mind
If you are a driver who feels the need to immediately respond to a message, it is time to kick the habit. The easiest way to avoid the temptation is to commit to safe driving and place your cell out of reach. Either put it in the glove box on silent, or put your phone on airplane mode so you can’t receive messages. Removing the temptation from your immediate reach will encourage you to wait until later to check your phone.
Mount your phone, but don’t touch it when moving
Though it’d be ideal to turn your phone off or put it out of sight, some people use their phones for navigation or screening calls. For this, we recommend a magnetic dash mount for your phone, placed in a spot that’s close to your line of vision. This way, even if you need to look at your phone for navigation, you aren’t taking your eyes far off the road.
Your message alerts will still pop up if you’re using your phone or navigation features, however. Some phones have the option to turn off alerts for specific apps. If you’re most tempted by your messaging app, turn off the alerts when you’re about to drive.
Know the law
City ordinances that were in effect prior to the state law are still enforced, including hands-free ordinances. Invest in a Bluetooth device if your car is not equipped with this feature. This will allow you to talk and also send messages through a voice-to-text app or feature on your phone.
With the no-text law, drivers can still make and receive phone calls, however, if you are making a call while driving it must be hands-free. Use a voice-activated feature on your phone to dial the number for you.
The no-text law does not prevent you from texting or reading while stopped, but once the car is in motion you must put the cell phone down. If an officer sees a driver in motion with their head looking down, or the car not maintaining a lane, the officer can pull the car over.
Texting and driving accidents can be prevented. Share these tips with other Texas drivers and make our roads safer.
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We live in a world with constant distractions, including while we are driving. Smartphones not only consume our attention while we work or at home, but also behind the wheel. Starting September 1, 2017 in Texas, it will be illegal to text and drive.
Campaigns are also in place by several organizations nationwide and major cell phone providers to send a constant reminder that using a phone while driving leads to injuries and fatalities.
Types of distractions
There is a long list of what can distract a driver, but there are only three types of distraction that interfere with concentration – cognitive, visual, and manual. An example of a manual distraction would be a driver removing hands from the steering wheel. Cognitive distractions take the driver’s mental focus elsewhere and visual takes the driver’s eyes off of the road.
Other actions that keep someone from focusing solely on driving include changing the radio station, looking at a map, talking on the phone or to others in the car, and eating. A recent survey showed that more than 60 percent say they have watched a driver apply makeup while driving, more than 50 percent witnessed someone reading, and more than 20 percent have seen a driver take a selfie while behind the wheel.
Although these tasks were not high scoring in the survey, people also witnessed drivers putting in contacts, flossing teeth, and actually putting on a costume.
A few seconds of a distraction behind the wheel can be deadly. Nationwide, there were 3,477 people who died in accidents in 2015 that were caused by a distracted driver. Since distractions can be anything and everything other than focusing on the road, it’s difficult to prevent.
How to drive safer
Most distractions are preventable. It starts with the driver making a conscious effort to focus only on driving.
Here are a few tips:
- Make seat, mirror, GPS, and radio adjustments when you get into the vehicle, before you drive.
- Put your phone on silent and out of reach. Taking the temptation away from your immediate access will force you to wait to check it until later.
- Use hands-free features on your phone if you must make a call.
- Finish grooming/dressing before getting into your car. Running late isn’t an excuse: It’s better to arrive late than not at all.
- Eat before you drive. If you must take food with you on the road, choose snacks that are easy to manage with one hand and easy to contain.
- Get your passengers to help you out. If they’re being distracting, ask them to quit the behavior causing the distraction. If you want to check something, change the radio station, navigation, etc. enlist the help of your passenger instead of doing it yourself.
- Find a noise background that helps you focus. For some people, this could be ambient music. It could be listening to an engaging podcast for others. It could be simulated background noise like rain or white noise. Figure out what audio distracts you and what engages your focus.
When it comes to collision repair, it may seem as though repairs to most cars would be the same, but not all cars are created equal. That is why many auto technicians go through regular training and earn certifications on the latest industry standards, including electric vehicles.
Electric vehicles and hybrids have tremendous benefits including fuel efficiency. But with that cost savings comes a trade-off to potential higher costs in other areas, including collision repair.
The cost of electric vehicle repair
One of the few drawbacks to owning an electric vehicle is that collision repair could cost more. This is partly because of the expensive battery packs that can be damaged in an accident.
Some parts of hybrid vehicles are also harder to find, making repair more costly. Plus, the complex hybrid drive components cost more to not only manufacture, but also to assemble.
If the battery packs were not damaged but panels near the packs were damaged and need paint, the battery packs have to be removed for safety which leads to additional labor.
Auto technicians should also go through specialized training to repair an electric vehicle. Their technology and build are different than those of regular vehicles, and therefore require new skills. There is also an increased risk of electrocution because of the extremely high voltage in EVs that technicians must know how to avoid.
Finding electronic vehicle repair
If you own an electric vehicle, you should get several recommendations for a quality auto body shop. It is important to ask about any training the technicians have completed specifically related to EV and hybrid vehicles. Since EV and hybrid technology is constantly changing, it’s important to find a repair shop that regularly undergoes training to work on these vehicles.
AMM Collision undergoes yearly I-CAR training to keep our techs up-to-date on the latest technology and industry trends. Call us for a free estimate on your EV or hybrid vehicle.
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