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Category: Car technology and efficiency

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.

Jumper cable clamps attached to a red battery.
Knowing how to jump a car can save time and get you back on the road.

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

Directions:

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.

A small portable battery charger with a cassette-sized battery and two small clamps.
Some portable battery jumpers are extremely compact.

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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A two-way country road surrounded by lush green trees and a rusted, short fence.
Driving can be a peaceful, enjoyable activity, but it helps to prep ahead of time for an alert, safe drive.

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.

  1. Sleep

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.

  1. 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.

  1. Attentiveness

There are three types of distracted driving: Visual, manual, and cognitive.
Distractions are everywhere. Take time to limit them before you hit the road.

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.

  1. Comfortable Driving

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.

  1. 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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distracted driving car accidentIn-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.

For more helpful content, follow AMM on Twitter.

eco-friendly car paintQuality 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.

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A man sits in his vehicle behind the wheel, looking at his smartphone.
Texas’ no-text law makes texting and driving illegal.

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.

For more helpful information, visit AMM on Facebook.

A young woman puts on lipstick in the drivers seat while holding her cell phone with her shoulder.
Applying makeup while driving is a common distraction.

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.

Real Risks

Action shot of a red/orange car crashes into the back of a small yellow car.
Distracted driving causes severe crashes.

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:

 

Close-up of a car charger plugged into a grey car.
Hybrid and electric vehicles will save you money on fuel, but may be more pricey when it comes to repair.

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

A car is parallel parked along a curb and plugged into an electric vehicle charger.
Electric vehicle technology is always changing – it’s important to find a repair shop that’s up-to-date on its certifications.

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 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.

For more helpful info, follow AMM on Twitter.

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