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Jun
20
2014
0

Four Things That Will Leave You Stuck in the Driveway

Car won't start? The reason might be an easy fix.

Car won’t start? The reason might be an easy fix.

You jump in the shower, scarf down an energy bar, grab your stuff and slip into your car, psyched for a busy day at work when – Oh, no! You turn the key and nothing happens. Looks like you’ve got an unexpected day off work. Why? E3 Spark Plugs has a few ideas.

Here are the top 5 reasons you’re your car wont’ start:

  1. Bad battery: This one’s probably the most common culprit of them all. A quality battery typically will last about three years before it needs replacing. To make sure you get the most of yours, keep your battery posts clean by periodically scrubbing them with a wire brush. Apply a little petroleum jelly to the posts to keep them lubricated. And make sure the camps and connections remain secure.
  2. Bad fuel: Mucked up fuel can cause your engine to go into a coughing spaz, particularly if your ride has been sitting in the garage for a while. If you hear engine pings or knocks, it could be a sign that the fuel in your tank lacks enough octane or has too much water. Drain it, dispose of it properly and refill your tank with new fuel. If this doesn’t do the trick, it might be an issue with the oxygen sensor.
  3. Bad spark plugs: If your car seems sluggish when accelerating, stalls or idles roughly, it might be time for a new set of spark plugs. The recommended intervals for replacing spark plugs vary dramatically depending upon the make and model of our ride, and its age – from 12,000 miles to upward of 100,000 miles. And while there are plenty to choose from, only E3 spark plugs sport the patented DiamondFire open ground electrode design, which allows for a stronger, cleaner more fuel efficient drive.
  4. Engine problems: If the battery is strong, the fuel is clean and your spark plugs are firing up beautifully, the issue might be your engine. But before you freak out and assume you’ve got something as dramatic as a cracked cylinder head, relax. It could be something far simpler and cheaper to fix like worn belts or hoses. Check for cracks or peeling and replace them if needed.

The good news is that unless you’ve got a bad engine or oxygen sensor, each of these issues is an easy fix – perhaps even a DIY job for the mechanically inclined.

Written by E3 in:
Jun
17
2014
0

Best State for Teen Drivers? Believe It or Not, New York

Turns out the safest teen drivers are in New York. We've got tips to help keep your teen drivers safe wherever you live.

Turns out the safest teen drivers are in New York. We’ve got tips to help keep your teen drivers safe wherever you live.

The traffic accident rates for 16- to 19-year old drivers are higher than those for any other age group. And we’re not just talking fender-benders. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers nationwide, and the vast majority of them are preventable.

Results of studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pinpoint immaturity and inexperience as the primary factors contributing to deadly crashes with young drivers. Other, and often related factors can include poor hazard detection, poor risk perception, speeding, driving with a carload of friends, night time driving and texting while driving. But it appears that some states do a far better job than do others at keeping their teen drivers safe.

Wallethub, a social media site dedicated to helping members make better financial decisions, recently published results of its study titled Best & Worst States for Teen Drivers. Researchers reviewed a combination of 16 different metrics and ranked each state by how well or poorly each of the 50 states fared when it came to three primary issues – safety conditions, economic environment and driving laws. When it all played out, it was teens in New York who proved the safest in the nation.

Here are the top 10 safest states for teen drivers:

  1. New York
  2. Hawaii
  3. Illinois
  4. Oregon
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Maryland
  8. Delaware
  9. Washington
  10. Nevada

And the 10 worst:

  1. South Dakota
  2. Mississippi
  3. Nebraska
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Wyoming
  6. Arkansas
  7. Montana
  8. South Carolina / Missouri (tie)
  9. Arizona
  10. North Dakota

So how do parents help assure their teens will be safe behind the wheel? E3 Spark Plugs offers these tips:

  1. Get all up in their grill: Which, in teen terms, means get in their business and stay there. Don’t just leave the job of teaching your teens to drive in the hands of the local high school’s Driver’s Ed instructor. Get in the passenger seat and let them practice driving in real-world situations including heavy traffic, rain, unfamiliar roads and nighttime driving. After all, real-world roadways are a far cry from the fenced-in, cone-dotted school driver’s range.
  2. Make ‘em wait: Teen drivers are three times more likely than drivers 20 and older to be involved in a fatal car crash, according to statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control. Luckily, it’s becoming far less uncool to lack a driver’s license. A University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study showed that fewer than 30 percent of 16-year-olds and only about 45 percent of 17-year-olds were licensed in 2010.
  3. Track ‘em: When it comes to keeping an eye on your kids when you’re not in the car with them, options abound. Many insurance companies provide devices that plug into a car’s computer system and record data on your kids’ driving habits such as speed and sudden stops. And if your teen constantly has his or nose pointed directly at a smartphone screen, apps like DriveSafe Mode allow you to block calls and texts on your teen’s phone while the car is in motion.

Be safe, teens.

Written by E3 in:
Jun
06
2014
0

Where to Donate Your Used Car? E3 Spark Plugs Offers a Few Ideas

Nonprofit homes for troubled youth use donated cars to teach young residents auto mechanic skills.

Nonprofit homes for troubled youth use donated cars to teach young residents auto mechanic skills.

Got a ride sitting in your driveway or yard that not likely to see the open road with you in behind the wheel again? Rather than let it rust and rot, why not donate it to a nonprofit organization that could use it for a positive cause? Not only will you get that feel-good vibe from doing something helpful, but you may just get a little cash for it come tax time, too.

The US government allows vehicle owners to benefit from donating used rides in one of two ways, depending upon how the receiving charity will use the donation. If a charity will actually use the vehicle itself, you may be allowed to deduct its value up to a state or federally predetermined amount when filing you’re taxes each year. If the charity will sell your vehicle and use the proceeds to serve their beneficiaries or further their cause, then you’ll be allowed to deduct the amount of money for which the charity is paid for the car.

So how do decide which charity to bless with your unused ride? There are lots that will be more than happy to take you up on your generous offer, and we here at E3 Spark Plugs have a few ideas. To choose one, first decide how you want your vehicle used. If you’d like to see a charity sell your car to someone who will be able to use it, and allow the charity to benefit financially, you’ll likely have more options. A top choice for many donors is the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Wheels for Wishes program. The organization sells donated vehicles and uses the proceeds to grant wishes to children battling life-threatening medical conditions. Thus far, Make-A-Wish has benefitted some 250,000 children worldwide.

If you’d rather your vehicle be used by the charity, you’ll need to do a little more digging, but again – you won’t have trouble finding a taker. Many group homes for troubled teens use donated cars to teach young residents auto mechanic skills. This helps prepare them for future jobs, or for working on their own vehicles. Churches and youth or senior citizens organizations use donated vehicles to transport participants to and from church services, dinners and other events. And, if you’re a pet lover, consider donating your ride to a local animal shelter or rescue organization. Via social media posting and email, shelter pets often find homes in other cities or states, and thus need to hitch a ride. Shelter workers or volunteers can use extra vehicles to transport homeless pets to their new homes, or sick or injured pets to the vet’s office.

Remember that getting the tax benefit out of your donated vehicle requires certain steps and paperwork, so do your research first.

Written by E3 in:
May
30
2014
0

Three Tips for Getting the Most from Donating Your Used Vehicle

Donating your used vehicle to a charity is a noble gesture that could benefit you as well.

Donating your used vehicle to a charity is a noble gesture that could benefit you as well.

Considering donating your used vehicle? It’s a noble gesture. And it’s one that could benefit both you and the charity you choose – but only if you do it the right way. E3 Spark Plugs offers a few tips:

  1. Do your homework: Before signing over your vehicle, make sure you do your research. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous folks out there who will set up and/or market bogus nonprofit organizations, keeping donations for themselves. Make sure that the charity you choose is, indeed, a genuine charitable organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service, in good standing and with a 501c3 designation, which will allow you to receive a tax benefit for your donation. A few great resources for doing that are Forbes’ America’s 200 Largest Charities list, your local Better Business Bureau, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and GuideStar.org. Some of these resources include financial disclosures from charitable organizations, so that you can see how they distribute the funds they raise.
  2. Know your value: Confirm the value of your vehicle and make sure that the charitable organization you choose knows that figure. Still, understand that there may be limits on the dollar value that you’re legally allowed to deduct from your taxes. For instance, if the charity you choose will actually use your vehicle, you may be allowed to deduct the value up to a state or federally predetermined amount. If the charity will sell your vehicle and use the proceeds to serve their beneficiaries or further their cause, you’ll be allowed to deduct only the amount of money for which the charity is paid for the car.
  3. Mind the paperwork: Donating your vehicle and being able to take advantage of the benefits require a little paperwork. You’ll need to legally transfer your vehicle’s title over to the charitable organization. And you’ll need to cancel the plates and tags. Laws governing this vary, so be sure to check with your state or your local DMV for all the details.

In our next blog, we’ll give you a list of great charities and causes that could benefit from your generous donation of your used vehicle, whether it’s running or not. Got more tips? Post them on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.

Written by E3 in:
Dec
21
2013
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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!

Written by E3 in:
Nov
25
2013
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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.

Written by E3 in:
Nov
19
2013
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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 roadtrippers.com 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.

Written by E3 in:
Oct
18
2013
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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.

Written by E3 in:
Sep
03
2013
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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. Distraction.gov 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.

Written by E3 in:
Jul
25
2013
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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.

Written by E3 in:
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