Perfect parallel parking IS possible

I cannot recall a downtown area of any city in which I’ve lived or to which I’ve traveled where there is a surplus of parking. At least not during peak hours, and certainly not near whatever office, store, restaurant or bar I was attempting to visit. Typically, to find parking, you have two choices – Make your way up and up and up in the nearest parking garage, hoping to find a spot that’s not too narrow to squeeze into Spot an open spot along the city streets, which of course means you’ll need to parallel park Parallel parking?!? The horror! I mean, have you tried just SPELLING parrallel paralel parallel without spellcheck or autocorrect? It’s nearly as impossible as trying to DO it. But, at some point, most people don’t have a choice. Whether it’s in the interest of saving time or not having to walk an excessive distance, parallel parking is sometimes the only option. Especially if you drive on the downtown streets of nearly any major metropolitan area. For the record, I know how to parallel park. I didn’t learn it in my driver’s education class, like you might think. Instead, my very patient dad taught me and, while I haven’t had much practice recently, I’m very confident in my ability. However, knowing how to parallel park … Read More

It only gets better with age

Most of the time when I get into a rental car, or any other vehicle other than mine, I have a process. I get in and set up the seat and the mirrors. I look around at where the important stuff is like windshield wipers, headlights, shifter and start button/keyhole. With the important, navigational stuff out of the way, I switch gears and get to know the infotainment system. Whether I’m using navigation features to get me to the right place at the right time or setting up my music preferences, understanding the features available upfront inevitably saves me time and frustration down the road. I have used a lot of different infotainment systems over the years. Uconnect is one of the few that I can just quickly set up and drive. It’s a breeze to use. So, when upgrades to the 2016 Uconnect were announced, my first thought was, “Whatever you do, please don’t make it less user-friendly.” After all, my learning curve has definitely NOT improved with age. But, like a fine wine or really good cheese, Uconnect only gets better with every update. I’m not sure how it was possible, but the updated Uconnect is even MORE user-friendly. Let me break down the five biggest changes: Drag and drop menu bar. Why is this significant? Well, let’s … Read More

Long live thought-provoking, relevant commercials

If you’re a fan of Anderson East, you’re probably familiar with his gritty, raspy, soulful style. If you’re a fan of and follow Miranda Lambert, you may know Anderson East as her current boyfriend. If you’re a football fan who watched the NFL playoff games, you likely heard East’s rendition of Bob Dylan’s classic “Forever Young.” Perhaps slightly better known for being the beau of the aforementioned Lambert, East is quickly forging a name for himself. Working with Ram trucks to air the Long Live Ram series of commercials during some of the most-watched television this year, East’s throaty version of “Forever Young” has been heard by millions. Long live Ram is a celebration of the values that keep America strong. It’s the story of hard work, determination and the people who live it every day. Long live courage. Long live valor. Long live family. Long live strength. Long live community. Long live humanity. Long live conviction. And may you stay forever young. Thank you, Ram, for another epic story of American heart and soul.

How are YOU utilizing this year’s tax refund?

It’s tax season and according to IRS.gov, the average refund for 2016 (as of December 2016) is $2,993. If you’re receiving a refund this year, have you already planned what you’re doing with the money? Realistically, there are two paths from which to choose – practical or fun. But why does it have to be an “or”? Spending your hard-earned refund can be both! Take, for example, using your rollover vacation time that expires at some point this year. Using the paid time off that you earned is practical in many ways – Most important, and as stated above, you EARNED it. Use it, don’t lose it. Taking a breather from work makes you more productive during regular work weeks. Time off from work can help reduce stress and improve your health. So, take that time off and plan that relaxing vacation you’ve been meaning to take. The best part is, instead of stashing money away to fund your trip, use your tax refund. See? Practical AND fun. Another great practical and fun way to spend that refund money is to buy a new car, truck or SUV. Whether you’ve been looking for your next new vehicle or circumstances have caused you to suddenly be in the market for a new vehicle, using your tax refund as your down payment … Read More

Has your relationship with your vehicle lost a certain spark?

When was the last time you changed, cleaned or checked the spark plugs in your vehicle? When was the last time you THOUGHT about the spark plugs in your vehicle? Do you know what a spark plug is? Simply put, spark plugs are the pieces that supply the spark (shocking, I know) that then ignite the combination of fuel and air in the cylinder’s combustion chamber. Still seem confusing? If you don’t know (and/or just plain aren’t interested in) how an engine works, it can sound complicated. So leave checking and changing them to your mechanic. But know that, without these small but mighty components, you’re not going far. Here are some simple items you can keep an eye out for so you know when it’s time to schedule a visit with your mechanic. Are you having problems starting your car? If you have plenty of gas and your battery is fine, it could be that you have one or more spark plugs that are bad. Or going bad. When your vehicle is running, does it misfire? A misfiring engine will likely cause your CHECK ENGINE light to illuminate. This is not something to ignore. Bad spark plugs can cause additional damage to your vehicle. Does it seem like your vehicle is reluctant to accelerate? If your vehicle has always … Read More

Insert coin for your next … car?

Vending machines – the delightful (or evil, depending on your perspective), big box in your break room that, in exchange for some loose change, a dollar bill (or two) or a swipe of your card, will produce delicious, albeit not generally nutritious, snacks. In the last several years, other products have joined the ranks of candy bars and chips. From gadgets to umbrellas to cars, these days vending machines are taking over the retail world. Yes, I said cars. Thanks to a company called Carvana, the first coin-operated car vending machine made an appearance in Nashville, Tennessee, just over a year ago. A second, larger one is now open in Houston, Texas. Are car vending machines the next big thing? Check out a video of a day in the life of the Nashville machine.

Don’t fret over an increase in estimated gas prices

At $2.29 per gallon on New Year’s Day, 2017 kicked off with a $0.29 hike over New Year’s Day 2016. And much ado was made when, just last week the national average reached the highest it’s been since June 2016, at $2.37. Regardless of the recent upward trend, we are still paying significantly less than just three years ago, when on New Year’s Day 2014 it was at $3.29. And remarkably less than in June 2008, when gas prices soared over $4.00 per gallon, hitting an all-time high of $4.11 that year in July. Check out this chart published by AAA earlier this month, comparing 2014 prices to today. So, what do the steadily increasing prices mean? Are we on track to hit more record highs? How will this impact our economy? According to estimations recently released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the first to release expectations that include 2018, the future looks bright — with a 2018 estimated average of $2.41, just under the 2015 average of $2.43. Exactly how future gas prices will impact the economy is tough to say. I don’t have an economy background, nor do I have a crystal ball, so I would be remiss to even guess. What I do know is fuel economy in most vehicles is improving. The Corporate Average … Read More

Take charge of your vehicle battery’s longevity

It happens. That dreaded day when you go out to your vehicle, turn the key and … nothing. Whether it’s because you left your lights on last night, or simply because the battery is old, your vehicle doesn’t have the energy required to start, let alone keep running. The silence is deafening as you realize you’re going to be late. Can you prevent a battery from losing its charge? You can’t really prevent it. Eventually an old battery is going to go bad, and frankly, after three to five years, your car battery is living on borrowed time. But there are certainly things you can do (or not do, as the case may be) to extend your battery’s life to its fullest potential. So, what can you do to prolong the life of your vehicle’s battery? Several things, actually: Inspect the terminals monthly, keeping them clean and free of corrosion. During the monthly inspection, also ensure the cables are good and the battery is secure. Vibration can cause damage to both the battery and your vehicle. Don’t operate your vehicle’s electronics with the vehicle off. It’s best to start the vehicle and prepare to begin driving (put on seat belt, adjust mirrors, etc.) prior to reaching for the radio or using other available electronics. Extreme temperatures can impact the life … Read More

Rocking your way out of a jam

Inevitably, at some point in your driving career, you will get stuck. It happens to the best of us and when it does, there are some simple solutions you can try to get back on the road. Do you know how to “rock” your car? No, this is not in reference to turning up the music and car dancing at the stoplight. Rocking your car is gently moving your vehicle back and forth in an effort to gain some traction and move your tires out of the rut. It also happens to be one of the easiest and best ways (when done right) to get out of a jam when road conditions have you stuck. I’ve used it while driving both manual and automatic transmission vehicles and it worked like a charm. Start by keeping your steering wheel straight and slowing going in reverse as far as possible without digging yourself in further. Then, apply the brake, put your vehicle in drive and slowly go forward as far as possible without digging in deeper. Continue switching back and forth between reverse and drive until your vehicle catches and can drive out of your situation. If rocking straight doesn’t work, try rocking with your wheels turned to one side or the other. Be sure to check for obstacles first. You don’t … Read More

FCA US shares their bright idea for nighttime shoppers

If you’re shopping for your next car online, you’ve likely browsed various sites whenever you have a free moment. (Or, perhaps more accurately, whenever the boss isn’t looking.) So, let’s say you’ve completed your research and have narrowed the search to three that have held your interest. What’s next? The test drive, of course! But you can’t do that online. Work and family may dictate when you can actually get to the dealership(s) to take each of those three finalists for a spin. For most of us, that means evenings and weekends are the best time. During the late fall and winter months, heading out after work and/or dinner means shopping in the dark. Sure, you can put all the lights, inside and out, through a rigorous testing process, but checking out other things can prove more difficult after sundown. For instance, the color and exterior features of a vehicle can look very different at night. And, if you’re looking at used vehicles, inspecting the paint and tire conditions can be challenging. So, what is a shopper to do? Recently, FCA US LLC announced the “FCA Bright Initiative,” a change that will make nighttime shopping easier while saving the dealership money. “This new wave of lighting is a win for both the dealership and its customers,” said Al Gardner, Head … Read More