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How to Choose a New Car

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Research All Options to Find the Best Vehicle

Every year, the major car companies compete for business by boasting the lowest prices, the most safety features and the all-around best deals.

With so many of these claims from television, radio and magazine ads, choosing a new car is often confusing and even intimidating. Even car shopping novices can make an informed decision about what kind of car to buy. Coming armed with information helps you get the best deal at the car lot.

Research Different Makes and Models of Cars

Should you buy a family-friendly SUV or a sporty two-door sedan? With so many makes and models from which to choose, it is hard to know which one is right. The best way to narrow the choices is to consider lifestyle and plans to for future use of the car. For commuters or frequent travelers, a fuel-efficient model is a good choice. Large families may be better served by a spacious, kid-friendly minivan. To decide exactly which type is the way to go, ask these questions.

  • Does the driver commute or travel frequently?
  • Will there be only one main drive or shared driving responsibility?
  • Does the car need to accommodate small children or a large family?
  • Will the car need to carry or haul heavy loads?
  • Are you willing to pay extra for optional safety or convenience features?

With these questions answered, several vehicle options that meet these requirements should become apparent. With these in mind, start comparing more specific features of each make and model.

Compare Different Cars and Features

Once several cars are under consideration, it is time to compare what each has to offer. Thorough research on these important features.

  • Safety
  • Reliability
  • Fuel economy
  • Warranty coverage
  • Overall price

Use the Internet to find an abundance of information on all makes and models. The websites of car manufacturers provide a wealth of information on their models. They describe pricing, vehicle specifications and options packages. Most manufacturers’ sites also have build-your-own vehicle applications, which allows buyers to get an estimated price including all additional desired features. Also, check out the websites for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Consumer Reports for more complete data on the safety and reliability of new cars.

Informed Car Purchases Leads to Satisfied Consumers

When it comes to choosing a new car, some people have been dreaming about their selection for years. They purchase it without considering its intended use, price or safety features. While this may be gratifying at first, it is not the best decision in the long run. By carefully researching all options and comparing features, buyers remain satisfied with the car even after the newness wears off.

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Guides

Surviving Long Car Trips with Babies & Toddlers

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Travel Activities for Infants and Tots during Family Road Trips

Traveling with kids, particularly babies and toddlers, requires a lot of planning and preparation. Older children on long car trips can be distracted with a variety of activities due to their ability to read, write and count. But for babies and toddlers, the activities are somewhat limited. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be good traveling companions.

What parents need are some essential items for the car such as a diaper bag, tissues and wipes, first aid kit and food as well as a few fun car games to keep the little ones happy and occupied while on long car trips.

Baby Toys

Babies and toys get along just fine. And that’s why it’s a good idea to bring several small toys along. Don’t take them all out at the same time, though. Take them out one at a time so that they all stay “new”. When the baby seems to have grown bored with one toy, put it away and present her with another one. Parents can also buy some cheap and small toys when making stops during the journey.

Playing Peekaboo

Babies are often fond of playing peekaboo. Adults or older children in the car can all take turns to play peekaboo with the baby. Pulling funny faces is also highly entertaining for babies!

Dealing with Crying

The good news is that most babies can sleep through most of their journey. The bad news is when they get cranky, they may cry non-stop for a long while. Here are some tips to deal with crying while on the road.

  • Make sure the pacifier, blanket, and favorite toy are within easy reach.
  • If the crying continues, stop the car and check for rashes and other signs of discomfort.
  • Maintain the baby’s routine, particularly when it comes to feeding time and sleep time.
  • If the journey takes a few days, lodge at hotel rooms with a small kitchen or at least a microwave oven to heat up milk and cook simple, fast meals.
  • Assign someone who can tolerate loud and incessant crying for more than 10 minutes as the driver.

Surprise Goodie Bag

Toddlers will enjoy surprise goodie bags. Give each toddler a small bag filled with five to seven items such as small toys, stickers, balloons, picture books, coloring books, crayons, pencils, and erasers. Don’t open the bag and let them see the contents. Instead, get them to feel the bag and guess what the things inside are. Ask the children to guess the item one by one.

The guessing game itself will have eliminated a few minutes of boredom in the car. And when all the contents are revealed, the kids can get busy with them. To make drawing and coloring activities easier, invest in a snack and play travel tray for each toddler in the car.

Naming and Counting Objects

This is a good and fun way to learn new words and grasp numeracy concepts for toddlers. Use the objects you see as learning tools. Watch out for cows, horses, sheep, rivers, farms, houses, hills and other vehicles on the road. Name and count them as the car passes them by. However, be sure not to count to more than 10. Keep things simple and fun for the kids.

Singing and Rhyming

What’s a car trip without singing and rhyming? Get some CDs with children’s songs and nursery rhymes and sing along. Again, it’s a great way to learn new words. No children’s CDs? No worries! Just belt out any song to keep things alive in the car. Kids will love it too if Mum or Dad can sing off-tune or make silly sounds when singing.

Keeping babies and toddlers happy and amused on a long family road trip is challenging but not impossible. Just be sure to bring along their toys, coloring books, and crayons, have a contingency plan to manage crying and be prepared to play silly games and sing funny songs.

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Diesel

Recycled Grease Makes a Cheap and Green Fuel for Cars and Trucks

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Powering a Diesel Vehicle on Vegetable Oil

In 1898 Rudolph Diesel showed off his invention at France’s Exhibition fair. It was the first diesel engine, and it ran on peanut oil. It’s no wonder that automotive masters are returning to these roots, popping up everywhere with new ways to power a diesel car or truck with recycled vegetable oil.

Not Biodiesel, Just Straight Vegetable Oil

Biodiesel is a great way to run any non-modified diesel vehicle on vegetable oil. But, making biodiesel requires chemicals, start-up costs, and a garage full of equipment. Users often purchase it from a professional, just like any other fuel. It’s greener, but can be more expensive than using standard diesel.

The attraction to running a vehicle on straight vegetable oil (SVO) is that the oil does not have to be processed chemically. The only processing needed is good filtering, since SVO, also called waste vegetable oil or WVO, is obtained free of charge when restaurants are done using it for cooking. The other two elements needed are adding equipment to the vehicle to enable it to run on grease, then finding an oil source.

Dual Tank and Single Tank SVO/WVO Conversion Systems

“Conversion” isn’t the best way to describe the process of altering a vehicle’s fuel system to allow it to use vegetable oil since cars and trucks that run on grease can run on standard diesel and biodiesel too. A better term would be adding a “dual fuel” system.

The fuel components need tinkering because SVO needs to be hot before entering the engine to make it the same viscosity as diesel fuel. Vegetable oil hardens more easily and tends to be thicker than diesel, and thick fuel can damage an engine.

Various SVO systems heat the oil differently. Companies like Greasecar and Dino Fuel Alternatives recommend putting a second fuel tank in the vehicle’s trunk or bed. This extra tank is specially designed to heat the vegetable oil, so it’s thin when it enters the engine. The stock fuel tank remains in the vehicle and can run regular diesel, and special controls allow the driver to switch between diesel and SVO.

Another method, the single tank system, can be used in some circumstances. Companies like Elsbett and PlantDrive offer systems that employ the stock tank to hold either diesel or SVO and instead modify the fuel injectors and other parts to heat the fuel. Although these systems save cargo space by eliminating a fuel tank, they are not as fail-safe as the two-tank system and are recommended on older diesel cars in moderate climates (for instance a 1985 Mercedes in southern California). For the latest model cars and big trucks (Ford F-250s and the like), the two tank system is the safe bet, especially if the SVO user’s hometown gets cold in the winter.

Best Places to Find Waste Vegetable Oil

The key to finding a good oil source is to pursue quality rather than quantity. Ideally, the oil will be liquid at room temperature, and non-hydrogenated. Any type of vegetable oil normally used for cooking may be used, be it canola, peanut, or corn oil. The higher quality the restaurant, the better the cooking oil is likely to be. Chinese restaurants, for example, tend to use high-quality oil and change it often. The result is liquid oil that doesn’t have too many food particles or other debris.

Steer clear of fast food restaurants, since they use mostly hydrogenated oils that could be in solid form, making it hard to filter. Getting it into a fuel tank could be even harder.

Be sure to get permission from the restaurant’s owner before taking vegetable oil. Usually, owners are happy to give it away, since they may have to pay to dispose of it. An SVO user should coordinate with the restaurant owner by setting up a regular time and method of pick up. Then the owner knows, for instance, to put a five-gallon container by the back door every Tuesday evening.

Filtering Recycled Vegetable Oil

Perhaps the most important step in using SVO is to filter properly. Without good filtering methods, the vehicle’s fuel line and filter will be clogged with food particles and debris left by the restaurant’s cooking staff.

The good news is that filtering doesn’t require expensive equipment and can be done at home or even on the spot at the restaurant. Setting up the right system of hoses, filters, and drums, along with some trial and error, will ensure good methods. For some additional equipment costs, Greasecar even sells filtering kits that mount to the vehicle and pump and filter the oil in one step, right into a container or the vehicle’s SVO fuel tank.

Get Kudos for Being Green While Saving Money Too

Recycling vegetable oil for transportation saves the environment from harsh diesel fumes while saving the driver money. After initial vehicle conversion costs, the user can save thousands of dollars in fuel costs over time. It’s true what they say, it’s not easy being green; using SVO has to be a love and a hobby since it’s not as easy as stopping at the local gas station. But the rewards are priceless and empowering, knowing how to be green and save green too.

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