Car Insurance Discounts You Might Not Know About

Work from home? Live on a farm? Got a college degree? All of these can score you a discount on your next  car insurance policy.

Work from home? Live on a farm? Got a college degree? All of these can score you a discount on your next car insurance policy.

While you probably see or hear advertisements from auto insurance companies every day, you rarely hear the details about how you can get extra discounts. Companies love to draw you in with promises of savings. What they do not tell you is that even more savings may be available to you. All you need to do is ask.

  • Low mileage drivers: If you only have a short commute to work or work from home frequently, you may not put many miles on your vehicle throughout the year. While the mileage numbers and discounts vary by company, drivers with low annual mileage can save about 10% on their insurance. Discounts may also be available if you only drive a couple of days each week.
  • Stick with them and renew early: The longer you stay with one insurance provider, the greater your discount. If you have been with your provider for more than three years, it’s worth asking about. Many companies also reward drivers when their policies are renewed a couple of weeks before the expiration date.
  • Bundle it: Most individuals know that having a homeowner’s or rental policy with the same company will provide them with a discount. However, having a life insurance policy with the same company can also give you a discount. In addition, if you own your residence, you can save another 5% or so with some insurance companies.
  • Good student or college graduate: If you have younger drivers on your policy, ask about a discount for higher grade point averages. Some companies also provide discounts to drivers with a four-year degree or higher.
  • Farm vehicles: If your vehicle is used primarily for transportation on a farm, you can save an average of 10% extra on your premiums.
  • Club memberships: Organizations like AAA offer insurance. If you are an AAA member, you will save even more on your all of your insurance needs.
  • Pay it in full: If you can pay your annual policy in full each year rather than opting for monthly payments, you will save money. When you make payments monthly, interest or finance charges are added to your bill. If you cannot pay in full, arrange for an automatic payment from your bank. This could give you a small discount on the monthly payment.

Happy insurance shopping, E3 Spark Plugs fans!

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Renting a Car for your Thanksgiving Day Trek to Grandma’s House? E3 Spark Plugs Urges You to Know Your Coverage

Should you pay for that supplemental insurance coverage on your rental car? E3 Spark Plugs tells you how to know if it's worth it.

Should you pay for that supplemental insurance coverage on your rental car? E3 Spark Plugs tells you how to know if it’s worth it.

If over the hills and through the woods to Grandmother’s house you go in a rental car this Thanksgiving Day, or anytime during the holiday season, we here at E3 Spark Plugs have a word to the wise for you – find out what’s up with rental car insurance coverage before you sign the dotted line and take that set of keys.

No doubt it happens thousands of times a day nationwide – Americans traveling in rental cars decline the auto rental company’s insurance offer, either believing that their credit card or personal insurance policy covers them (with little to no intention on finding out to what extent that hunch is actually correct) or simply wanting to save that extra cash for dining out, seeing the sights or buying that pricey, totally impractical but cool souvenir. After all, what are the odds you’ll actually get into a car crash, right?

Turns out, wrecks in rental cars do happen. After all, you’re typically driving on unfamiliar roadways and, if you’re a Southerner headed across the Mason-Dixon Line or thereabouts, you just may hit some snowy weather and icy roads. Would you know how to avoid or maneuver a slip-&-slide down an iced-over exit ramp? If you’re not covered for what may happen in such a situation, well, your holiday cheer can take a fast and furious nosedive.

To help keep your holiday travel happy, E3 Spark Plugs offers these tips:

  1. If you pay for your rental with a credit card, you may be covered: Assuming you charge the entire amount for your rental on your credit card, you may already have primary or secondary coverage. Be sure to find out which, if either is offered. Primary coverage means that your credit card is the first source for payment of damage to your rental car and likely will cover the full amount. Secondary coverage means you’ll have to go through your personal auto insurance company first and your credit card will pick up the difference in what your insurance company offers and the actual damage costs. Note that credit cards will cover only your rental car, not the other party’s vehicle damage or medical costs.
  2. Your personal auto insurance policy may cover your car and/or the other party’s: Comprehensive and collision damage for your personal car covers costs of theft or damage to your personal car regardless of who is at fault, and that coverage typically extends to your rental car as well. Liability insurance covers damage to the other party’s vehicle and their medical costs up to whatever amount you chose when you purchased your policy. Anything higher you’ll be responsible, as your credit card won’t pick up the difference for liability. And, you both credit card and personal auto insurance policies may involve deductibles.
  3. If you’re not already covered or just not sure, you may want to pay for that supplemental insurance: We certainly understand the temptation to dodge any extra fees you can. After all, those average $20-per-day fees can add up quickly. But even if you are covered by your insurance company, the supplemental coverage from the auto rental shop can make you exempt from having to fork out your personal policy’s deductible.

It’s important to note that any of these three types of coverage may have certain limitations. For instance, credit card coverage may exclude certain types of vehicles like passenger vans. And supplemental coverage from the auto rental shop may last a certain number of days.

In any case, be sure to check out all the possibilities before you head out on the open road. It just may turn out to be something you’ll add to your “thankful” list.

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Road Tripping for the Holidays? E3 Spark Plugs Offers Money-Saving Tips

Roadtripping it this holiday season? E3 Spark Plugs offers tips to save you gas and money on your way to Grandma's.

Roadtripping it this holiday season? E3 Spark Plugs offers tips to save you gas and money on your way to Grandma’s.

Planning to travel this holiday season? No doubt your wallet’s gonna feel it. Though gas prices of late have shown us a little mercy, they’re still far above what they were several years ago. So, E3 Spark Plugs offers a few gas and money-saving tips for your holiday road trip.

  • Plan your route: You know how women are always picking on men for their reluctance or downright refusal to ask directions, lest they lose a few points off their man card? Well the ladies are right. And all that running around looking for the right exit, the right road, the right turn and that landmark Waffle House wastes both fuel and dollars. Instead, plan your trip ahead of time. Websites like can help you plan like a pro, offering suggestions for food, hotels, attractions along the way and scenic routes. It also allows you to calculate estimated gas prices and avoid tolls.
  • Lighten the load: Unfortunately this probably does not mean you can leave your mother-in-law behind, so don’t even go there. Instead, chuck all that extra junk in your trunk, like those beach chairs you’ve been hauling around since last summer. And if you’re planning to stay several nights, pack as lightly as possible. Remember that vehicles weighted down with heavy, unnecessary stuff can burn through fuel at a rate of one to two percent per 100 pounds.
  • Roll up the windows: Open windows can boost the drag on your car, forcing it to use more fuel to compensate. Use your AC instead.
  • Keep the spark alive: Cleaning or replacing your spark plugs before heading out on a long roadtrip can help minimize your car’s performance and fuel economy. And switching to E3 car spark plugs gives you an extra economical boost. The patented Diamondfire Flame technology allows for a cleaner, faster, burn that increases fuel efficiency and saves you money – all while reducing harmful emissions, too.

So where are you headed for the holidays? Post your stories on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.

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E3 Spark Plugs Digs Video that Captures Pure Joy of Dogs in Cars

Does your dog love to ride shotgun? There are a few things to look for in choosing a pet-friendly car.

Does your dog love to ride shotgun? There are a few things to look for in choosing a pet-friendly car.

If you’re a dog lover with a vehicle of any sort, you know that pooches love to take rides, preferably shotgun with the windows down. So, we here at E3 Spark Plugs bet you’ll appreciate this beautifully produced video by director Keith Hopkin.

With a camera mounted on the hood of an SUV, just outside the passenger window, Hopkin produced this slow-motion video that perfectly captures the pure elation of a dog going for a cruise with his/her human. We dare you to try to watch without cracking a smile. Meanwhile, if you’re in the market for a dog-friendly ride, here are a few features to look for:

  1. A backdoor or hatch that opens up so your pet can easily jump into and out of the vehicle;
  2. Backseats that fold flat or are removable so Fido and Fluffy will have plenty of room, especially if they’ll be taking the trip in a crate;
  3. Waterproof seat covers because accidents happen. And they stink;
  4. Spacious cargo areas with attachment devices, so your pups and all their stuff (crates, dog food bags, water, etc.) will have lots of room and can be harnessed so they won’t slip and slide all over the place when you swerve or hit the brakes. In-floor storage bins help tremendously, too;
  5. A pet barrier or cargo divider that keeps your dog from lunging into the front seat while you’re trying to drive;
  6. A low profile so your short-legged and elder pets can climb in and out easily. Bonus points if the car has a built-in, fold-out ramp (if not, you can buy them separately, too);
  7. Back windows that roll down and/or a sunroof or moonroof. A dog’s gotta breathe, after all;
  8. Rear AC vents, so your dog can keep his cool;
  9. A removable cargo liner and non-carpeted walls and floors to make cleaning out your car and removing that funky dog smell a whole lot easier;
  10. Childproof windows and door locks so your beloved pet can’t accidentally (or on purpose, as some are super smart) open them and bolt.

Got great pics or video of your pet enjoying a car ride? Post them on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.

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Hey Parents – Here’s a Novel Way to Get Through to your Teens about Driving While InTEXTicated

SMS Racing, a free downloadable video game, can help get the point across to your teen about texting while driving.

SMS Racing, a free downloadable video game, can help get the point across to your teen about texting while driving.

Teens text – a lot! In fact, statistics show that 87 percent of American teens age 14-17 own a cell phone. Sixty-eight percent of them send at least 21 texts per day and 18 percent send more than 200 in a day’s time. Unfortunately, an awful lot of that teen texting gets done behind the wheel.

In 2011, at least 23 percent – 1.3 million – car crashes involved cell phones. Texting takes away a minimum of five seconds of your time while you’re texting and driving. While that figure may sound miniscule to your kids, consider that if he’s driving 55 miles per hour, he’ll travel the length of a football field in that measly five seconds – and it only takes an average seven seconds for a car crash to happen. There ain’t much a kid can do in that spare two seconds.

Despite those scary figures…

  • 34 percent of teens admit to having texted while driving;
  • 77 percent are very confident or at least somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving
  • And a full 55 percent even cockily claim that texting while driving is a breeze.

Never mind the fact that teen drivers spend 10 percent of their driving time outside of their lane while texting. After all…

  • “I just read texts while driving, which is way safer than composing and sending one,” they say;
  • “I hold my phone up near my windshield so I can see both the road AND my texts,” they say;
  • “I slow down so I’ve got more room to stop if I need,” they say;
  • “I only text at stop signs and red lights,” they say.

Don’t buy that jive, Mom and Dad! Instead, show ‘em what’s up with a free download of the new SMS Racing video game. Designed to drive home the dangers of “diving while intexticated,” the game challenges players to drive a car around a track while receiving and responding to text messages. Gamers are penalized if they don’t respond to messages within ten seconds. But when they do respond, chances are their car’s hoof is about to make nice with the dirt at the bottom of a ditch.

It ain’t exactly Grand Theft Auto in terms of graphic sophistication, but it does a jam up job at getting the point across – without putting the lives of real-life fellow drivers, pedestrians or your teens at risk. A study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute proved that visual-manual tasks while driving, such as reaching for a phone or texting , boosts the chances of getting into an accident three times. reports that in 2011, 387,000 Americans were injured due to distracted driving, and more than 3300 were killed. Don’t let your teen be one of them.

How do you keep your smartphone-addicted teens safe behind the wheel? Post your tips on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.

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Teen Driving to School This Year? Tips for Choosing the Safest Rides

Teen getting behind the wheel this school year? E3 Spark Plugs helps you choose a safe ride that (hopefully) won't embarrass your ultra-cool brood.

Teen getting behind the wheel this school year? E3 Spark Plugs helps you choose a safe ride that (hopefully) won’t embarrass your ultra-cool brood.

Buying a car for a teenager always starts with good intentions. Safety, reliability, and ease of use make the initial list. Unfortunately in today’s marketplace cost rears its ugly head, and a teen’s first car frequently ends up being a used compact that could fold up like a tin can on the first real impact with another car. It’s not what any loving parent wants for his or her child.

That said, trying to find the right balance when choosing a safe first ride can be a challenge. So what really makes a safe car but still allows the sticker price to come in at an affordable level? While the idea of having your teen drive a tank may satisfy the safety factor, knowing he or she is driving a big bore V8 makes most parents go pale in the face. And for good reason — horsepower can quickly get an inexperienced driver in way over their head.

The Compact

While a compact car is cheap and fuel efficient, its small size makes it a major risk right from the start in terms of crash protection. The basic laws of physics apply. Mass plus speed creates velocity, and bigger vehicles have more velocity at the same speed than smaller ones. That means compacts go “crunch” more often. So the major risk factor when considering a smaller vehicle is where and how the vehicle will be used.

The Large Vehicle

SUVs and big vehicles like trucks are not the best choice either. A high center of gravity impacts both stability and control, meaning larger vehicles are more prone to rollovers. However, the newer models of low profile SUVs do offer much better control and could be considered as a viable choice because of their protective size.

The Midsize Sedan

The midsize sedan (oh yuck!) tends to be a highly-recommended choice. It provides size for protection but not at a higher risk of rollover and most have fuel efficient engines that do not have excessive power. Further, there is plenty of room for a teen’s stuff, whether it be the team’s sports equipment, the team or both.

The Engine Size

Regardless of vehicle’s body size, it’s a far better bet to place a teen in a four-cylinder engine. While your teen will hate the idea, most teens just need a car that gets from point A to point B. A V4 engine will work just fine and the added fuel efficiency will be easier on the wallet. Rare is the teen who needs an all-wheel drive V8 engine to make a cross-country trip through the snow and ice.

All major manufacturers make a good mid-size sedan that balances the need for reliability and fuel-efficiency, which meets the basic driving needs for most teens. But depending upon your budget, these aren’t the only safe cars for teens to use. At E3 Spark Plugs, we encourage parents to research size and engine types, and match a safe car to their teen’s needs versus matching a teenager to a specific car.

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The Lyft Car – A Different, Fun Kind of Taxi

Why take a boring ol' taxi ride when you can take a mustachioed, Disco-themed sing-along experience to your destination instead?

Why take a boring ol’ taxi ride when you can take a mustachioed, Disco-themed sing-along experience to your destination instead?

At first mention, “Lyft car” might give a person an impression of some sort of cargo hauler. In reality, it’s a growing type of big city taxi service minus the yellow, impersonal cab feel and plus the kooky and weird ride. Lyft car rides for short destinations are available today in Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston and are scheduled through Facebook from user to driver. What the passenger/customer gets when the car arrives depends on what sort of theme the driver has decided to go with in his Lyft car.

For example, one Lyft car could incorporate an entire disco theme, including fog machine and disco lights in the back seat as well karaoke to sing along to while cruising through town. Disregard the pink mustache on the front grille of the car on the outside. It’s for passersby to take notice. While the disco version, dubbed DiscoLyft, is one possibility, many other Lyfts taking on the passenger market in their own unique way are popping up.

The Lyft experience is not a loosely-connected affair either. Lyft drivers do go through an orientation and training on how to prepare their vehicles and provide added extras for passengers. Whether candy, music, freebies or some other kind of swag, the driver is expected to provide more than just a ride from point A to point B. On the other hand, drivers are given full freedom to accessorize their rides, making them clearly visible and recognizable on city streets.

The unique car theme can range from a car that doubles as a chalkboard for anyone who wants to write or draw on it with chalk, to a poetry-themed car, to the drivers themselves dressing up as well. Los Angeles has its own version of Batman driving around a Lyft car.

From the customer perspective, a Lyft ride is aimed at being more than the straight-forward, no-frills transportation that any other taxi could provide. It should also make a customer feel like he or she is enjoying a personal favor from a friend. It should be a comfortable, fun and memorable experience, even if it is just a ride from North Beach to Golden Gate Park. And customers don’t get to hide in the back seat either; many Lyft car drivers operate on the theme of total engagement, pulling customers into the shotgun position and engaging them in sing-alongs, games, contests, trivia and more.

From the driver perspective, the Lyft ride is the perfect way to meet new people and operate with a flexible work schedule. Many Lyft drivers go beyond their basic need for work, and operate their cars fulltime because it’s fun. Imagine that – work that is fun!

Interested in starting your own Lyft car business? Visit the website for more info. Then, post your wacky Lyft car theme ideas on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.

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July, August Top Month for Car Thefts – E3 Spark Plugs Offers Eight Great Tips for Rebounding

Empty parking spot where you're sure you left your ride? E3 Spark Plugs offers tips on what to do if your car is stolen.

Empty parking spot where you’re sure you left your ride? E3 Spark Plugs offers tips on what to do if your car is stolen.

July and August are top months for taking the fam on a summer vacation, lounging at the beach and getting your car jacked. That’s right – According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau more cars are stolen in July and August than any other month of the year.

Common sense moves can help protect your car from thieves in the first place – Park in a well-lit area, hide your valuables, keep your spare key with you, avoid leaving your car running and immobilize it if it will be parked for an extended period of time. But what happens when your car does disappear? E3 Spark Plugs offers a few tips:

  1. Make sure your car really is gone. Multi-level parking garages and large mall parking lots tend to cause parking amnesia in hurried or wearied drivers. Are you SURE you parked outside Sears – Or was it JC Penney?
  2. Consider whether your ride might have been towed. Accidentally parking in a loading zone, a reserved spot or too near a fire hydrant might have gotten your vehicle towed. If it looks like that might be the case, check with the police impound lot before you freak out.
  3. Call police. Once you’ve confirmed that your car really has been stolen, call the cops immediately. The sooner they start looking for it, the higher your chances for getting it back and getting a crook off the streets.
  4. Call your LoJack or OnStar service if you’ve got one. Depending upon your package features, these services can track your car’s location, or even shut down the engine and lock the crook inside. He’ll have some ‘splainin’ to do when the cops show up.
  5. Look for witnesses. If your car was parked in a spot visible to store workers, hot dog vendors, etc., ask if anyone remembers seeing your car pull away or any suspicious activity. If there’s a surveillance camera nearby, contact the property owner or manager to see if anything was caught on video. Thieves often will give away their nervousness by lingering a little too long or looking over their shoulders excessively.
  6. Call your insurance company. Insurance paperwork takes a notoriously long amount of time. If your car can’t be recovered, you’ll want to get started on the insurance claims process quickly. The sooner you get the ball rolling, the sooner you’ll be back on the road. Plus, your policy may allow for a rental vehicle while the police investigation and claims process take their course.
  7. Look for your car online. Check eBay, Craigslist or other regional car sales websites regularly. Of course, if you’ve got a common car in a common color, this may prove relatively useless. And the VIN number likely won’t help, as thieves tend to alter or remove them. But if your car is identifiable, say via custom seats and a dent in the rear quarter panel, you may luck up on a thief’s effort to make a quick buck at your expense.
  8. Go shopping. If there’s a silver lining in the horror of having your beloved car jacked by an unscrupulous stranger, it’s the fact that you’ll soon be rolling in a brand new ride. Take your time, choose wisely and perhaps invest in a few anti-theft features to help ensure you won’t have to go through it all again.

Were you able to recover your stolen ride? Post your own tips on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.

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How a Shyster Mechanic Can Sell Your Car – Spark Plugs and All – Right Out from Under You

Shady mechanics are using fraudulent liens to sell unwitting customers' cars.

Shady mechanics are using fraudulent liens to sell unwitting customers’ cars.

There’s a new racket in operation among some less-than-ethical auto mechanics, and it could cost you your ride, right down to the spark plugs.

A recent report on Sacramento, CA’s CBS13 exposed the increasingly common, highly illegal practice of mechanics faking liens or actually filing bogus liens against customers’ vehicles and selling them right out from under them. The story featured Daniel James, who says Sacramento’s MK Auto held his 1986 Ford Mustang for three years, calling every few months to explain that they were struggling to find a new engine for the classic car.

Finally fed up, James with the ridiculous delay, James demanded his car back. That’s when a mechanic told him that the company had filed a lien on the car three months before and sold it.

“He told me, ‘Hey, the car’s gone, you’re not gonna get it back,’” James told reporters. Unfortunately, his story is an increasingly common one. Prosecutors in Indianapolis are working to recover up more than 270 vehicles swiped by unscrupulous mechanics via Mechanics Liens Plus, a third-party company paid to file fake paperwork to enforce a mechanic’s lien on cars. Among those lost to the scheme was a 1965 Chevrolet Corvette that had been owned by the customer’s late father and for which the family had paid the mechanic 13,000 to fix.

Incredulously, many states’ Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) won’t warn auto owners, claiming it will only give more shady mechanics the idea. But law enforcement agencies in numerous states are starting to crack down on scammers.

If your vehicle has been or will be in the care of a mechanic for a lengthy period of time, make sure you know the laws governing mechanics liens. Laws vary from state to state, but in most cases, a facility can legally file a lien and sell your car if it has been left at the shop for 30-60 days and you have not paid your bill. However, before a mechanic cashes in on selling your ride, the facility is required to send a notice via certified mail to all owners and lienholders on the vehicle. It’s also required to advertise a notice of public auction in local newspapers. In an effort to keep mechanics honest, law also requires that submission of official notarized paperwork with a sworn signature that all legal conditions were met, along with a signed repair bill before a title transfer can be completed.

In James’ case however, a check with the California DMV turned up no lien filed by MK Auto — proof that the mechanics had lied to James and sold his classic ‘Stang illegally. When James took his complaint to the local media, MK Auto went into PR crisis mode, bought back James’ car and returned it with the same old engine still inside. Far more victims, however, aren’t as lucky.

If you’ve been a victim of a mechanics’ lien, post your story on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.

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Ford Wants Your Teen to Text While Driving – But Only on their Innovative Training Course

Ford's Driving Skills for Life program shows teens just how dangerous common behind-the-wheels distractions can be.

Ford’s Driving Skills for Life program shows teens just how dangerous common behind-the-wheels distractions can be.

Your kids call it “summer vacation,” but rescue workers call it the “100 Deadliest Days.” Car crashes are the No. 1 cause of death for teenagers in the United States, and invariably, teen-involved auto accidents spike during the three months that school is out for the summer each year.

E3 Spark Plugs urges parents of teens to consider these facts and stats:

  • Car accident deaths double during the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day over the rest of the year combined;
  • Teens are responsible for nearly 50 percent more drunk driving accidents during the summer months than during the rest of the year;
  • Teen drivers average 44 percent more hours behind the wheel during the June, July and August break than during the nine months that school is in session – 23.6 hours compared to 16.4;
  • 23 percent of teen divers are likely to drive with three or more fellow teenagers in their car during the summer, while just six percent more likely to do so during the school year;
  • 72 percent of teens regularly stay out late during the summer evenings;
  • 24 percent of teen drivers admit they get behind the wheel while they’re tired during the summer.

Consider also that 85 percent of teens admit to texting while driving and 87 percent admit to speeding regularly. If you’re the parent of a teen with a set of wheels, it all paints a scary picture. That’s why for the past 10 years, Ford has brought its Driving Skills for Life program to high schools nationwide.

The program challenges teens to test their driving skills while dealing with common distractions. And most find that it ain’t as easy as they believe.

Says one reporter who took the challenge: “We tested Ford’s distracted-driving course, tasked with texting and driving while maintaining a normal speed and dodging cones. Our text message was nonsensical, and we killed a cone.”

Ford also recommends its innovative MyKey system, standard in Ford vehicles since 2010. The system allows parents to program the ignition or push-start system in their teens’ vehicle via a separate administrator’s key. Parents can select or disable features such as muting the radio until the front passengers buckle their seatbelts, cutting off the electronic throttle at a certain speed, and blocking incoming phone calls and text messages on a mobile phone using Ford’s Sync telematics system.

To help keep your teens safe on the road this summer, visit Ford’s Driving Skills for Life website and locate the scheduled event nearest your home. Got other tips for protecting your young drivers? Post them on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.

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