Posted tagged ‘cars’

Cash-For-Clunkers – Good Idea or Bad Idea?

July 21, 2009

The Government website for the CARS program

The Government website for the CARS program


Now that the cash-for-clunkers bill (also known as the Car Allowance Rebate System or CARS) is law and goes into effect July 24 until November 1, 2009 (or until the program runs out of money) I have been reading a lot of comments from people online regarding its usefulness.

The program was initially implemented in order to allow you to trade your gas-guzzler in for a more fuel efficient vehicle. Similar to the plan put in place by the German government, it is also said that the program was created to jump-start the ailing auto industry. Some of the eligibility requirements include:

Your trade-in vehicle must

• have been manufactured less than 25 years before the date you trade it in
• have a “new” combined city/highway fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon or less
• be in drivable condition
• be continuously insured and registered to the same owner for the full year preceding the trade-in

Check out cars.gov for more information.

One of the things many people wonder about is how much mpg does their vehicle get? You can go to /www.fueleconomy.gov, put in the information requested and it will give you the mpg. The mpg will be what the government says it is, not what you think you are getting now.

Government allowances will be $3,500 or $4,500 depending on the difference in the fuel economy between the car you wish to purchase and your tradein. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price cannot exceed $45,000. Many dealers are offering to increase the money allowed by the government with special incentive deals. You’ve probably already seen these on your television.

One of the things most people do not consider is that the vehicle they trade in will be scrapped. Yes, that means no used vehicle resale, nothing to be parted out, no vehicle re-use at all except as recycled materials. Also, if your vehicle is worth more than the trade-in allowance permitted by the government, you do not get the difference. Your vehicle will be given a scrap value, so think about this before considering trading in your vehicle.

Some people say that the program does not do enough to help the environment, but that at least it’s a start. Some say it’s bad to junk good cars and why not sell them as used cars or part them out. Some wish it were going to be a longer program. Some have said that it’s not fair to people who already have vehicles that get over 20 mpg. Some are just upset that their taxes are being used at all. What do you think? Let us know your opinions.

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Summer, Children and Hot Cars

June 5, 2009

Summer time temps can lead to even hotter car interiors.

Summer time temps can lead to even hotter car interiors.


I want to take a moment to remind people that summer is almost here and in some places has arrived already. Your car is equivalent to an oven when the sun is out. Open your car door on a summer day and it feels as though you just opened the door to a blast furnace. It doesn’t matter if it’s even 65 degrees out, your car’s internal temperature can reach alarming and deadly temperatures, even in the shade. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “a locked car sitting in the summer sun quickly turns into an oven,” and “temperatures can climb from 78 degrees to 100 degrees in just three minutes, to 125 degrees in 6-8 minutes.” That’s only 3 minutes to go from 78 degrees to 100 degrees, people. 3 minutes – time enough to run inside a store to grab a gallon of milk… time enough to drop off a bill inside the utility company’s office. Imagine what just 3 minutes can do to a child – time enough to send your child’s temperature soaring, leading to heat stroke, dehydration, seizures, stroke, and even death. But it’s only a moment, you say. It’s a lifetime to them.

I don’t know how many times I have seen this same act repeated year after year. Every summer there are stories reported about parents doing exactly that. And it’s not just the idea of leaving them in there to run an errand. Unfortunately, sometimes it is forgetting the child is in the back seat, thinking that the other parent has taken the child inside, or even a child getting into an unlocked car to hide. Sure, you may say it will never happen to you, but so many others have said the same thing only to wind up grieving at the loss of a child.

I read one of the most heart-wrenching stories from the Washington Post, Fatal Distraction. I highly recommend all child-care givers read it. Hopefully it will stick in your mind and make you more vigilant. Here’s the link. Keep some tissues around, you’ll need them.

Here are some safety tips this year from Vincent Iannelli, M.D.:
• don’t leave kids in a car, which can quickly heat up, especially on a hot, sunny day
• always lock your car and secure the keys so that your kids can’t get to them
• warn your kids about playing in the car by themselves without adult supervision
• install a trunk release mechanism, so that they can’t get trapped in the trunk
• get your kids out of the car first, and then worry about getting the groceries, etc., out of the car when you get home
• make sure that child-care providers and day-care workers have a plan to make sure that kids aren’t left in the day-care provider’s car or van

If you are afraid that you might leave your sleeping infant or toddler in their car seat when you get out of the car, place a reminder on the dashboard or do as some parents do and put a teddy bear on the passenger seat of the vehicle when the child is in the back seat. They say it makes a great reminder. Some parents even make sure that they put their briefcase, purse, cell phone or other reminder in the back seat when they have their child in the car. It forces them to look in the back seat.

Also be on alert for cars that might have an unattended child left inside. If you see a child alone in a car, be sure to call 911 and help make sure the child gets out as soon as possible.

If you think it’s OK to leave your child in the car while you run that quick errand as long as the air conditioner is running, think again. Your child becomes an easy target for kidnappers; your child may put your car into drive; or if your car has power windows, they could even get themselves caught in it. Take your kids inside, even if you think it’s only going to be a few minutes. In fact, don’t ever leave your kids alone in the car. It’s not safe and it is actually against the law in many states.

Here is a site with some great public service announcements and information on hyperthermia: kidsandcars.org
They also have some great tips for parents or other care-givers. Check them out.

One of these years, I hope that there will be a summer where news channels will actually say, “this year, there were no reported deaths of children due to overheating in a car, truck, or van.” One of these years…

Thank you, Mom

May 8, 2009
Thanks, Mom!

Someday you will miss this?

  • “Stop kicking the front seat!”
  • “Don’t put your feet on the car seat!”
  • “Make sure you put the towel down before getting in the car with that wet swimsuit!”
  • “Don’t spill your drink on the seat!”
  • “We’ll turn this car around RIGHT NOW if you don’t stop (Insert Annoying Activity Here)!”
  • I’m sure you can add more such statements to that list. My mother still says those to her grandchildren. It makes me smile.

    I can recall her helping me out when I was learning to drive. I think she had more patience and fortitude than my father. Well, “helping” is a nice term. At least she kept all her hair in spite of my mistakes.

    My mother did not learn to drive until the mid-60s. Like many women of her time, she did not feel it was necessary to learn to drive. Fortunately, my father had her go to driving school so that she could get her license as he, being on active military duty, was not available to take us to many places.

    I can still recall picking her up from her classes. We had an Oldsmobile at the time. It is really amazing that my mother only had her license for about 11 years before I started driving.

    Over the years, we have had many cars. My mother named each and every one. Yeah, they all had unique names. One of them stands out – Gravel Gertie. Yes, Mom named her (All of Mom’s cars are female. Oddly enough, all of my aunt’s cars were male. Go figure.) after the wife of B.O. Plenty in the Dick Tracy strips. She was pink and gray and rode like a tank. My father may have bought the cars, but she gave them personality.

    Over the years, we have gone from burning our legs and sticking to vinyl upholstery, to sitting in relative comfort on cloth seats. I think it was probably a woman that told her son or daughter to come up with a better material to keep from having to peel herself off a car seat. I know my mom would have made such a request had any of us ever gone into vehicle design.

    So thank you to all the moms out there who have kept us in line, helped us learn to drive, and have pushed us to become something better than we would have been without their guidance. Happy Mother’s Day. And yes, Mom, I have stopped kicking the seat back.