Sunday, December 27, 2009

Jet lag

Jet lag is a combination of fatigue and other symptoms caused by travelling abruptly across different time zones. Another name for jet lag is ‘time zone change syndrome’.

The body is synchronised to night and day by the action of sunlight through brain chemicals or neurotransmitters, especially melatonin. Many bodily processes are timed on this 24-hour physiological ‘clock’. These include temperature, hormones, digestion, heart rate, blood pressure and brain states. This changing rate of activity over each 24-hour period is called the circadian rhythm (‘circadian’ means approximately one day).

Travelling to a different time zone disrupts the circadian rhythm. Lack of sleep can also contribute to jet lag. There is no cure for jet lag, but its effects can be reduced with careful planning.

The symptoms of jet lag include:
  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness
  • Digestive upsets
  • Impaired judgement and decision making
  • Memory lapses
  • Irritability
  • Apathy.
Flying east or west makes a difference:

Your circadian rhythm (body clock) is less confused if you travel westward. This is because travelling west ‘prolongs’ the body clock’s experience of its normal day–night cycle (the normal tendency of the body clock in most of us is slightly longer than 24 hours). Travelling eastwards, however, runs in direct opposition to the body clock. If you suffer badly from jet lag, it may be worthwhile considering a westerly travel route if possible.

Strategies while travelling:

There is no evidence that popular strategies, such as fasting or eating complicated diets, have any effect. Suggestions to reduce the impact of jet lag while travelling include:
Make sure you have had enough sleep before you leave. Sleep deficit or ‘debt’ will make jet lag worse.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Try to nap whenever you feel sleepy.
  • Eat small meals frequently, choosing lighter foods like fruit and vegetables.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
  • Whenever possible, walk around the cabin.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Walking in Traffic

Walk on the Sidewalk

Stay on the sidewalk and crosswalks. Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks or crosswalks.
If you have to walk on a road that does not have sidewalks, walk facing traffic.

Cross at Intersections

Most people are hit by cars when they cross the road at places other than intersections.

Look left, right, and left for traffic

Stop at the curb and look left, right, and left again for traffic. Stopping at the curb signals drivers that you intend to cross. Cross in marked crosswalks and obey the signal.

See and Be Seen

Drivers need to see you to avoid you.
Stay out of the driver's blind spot.
Make eye contact with drivers when crossing busy streets.
Wear bright colors or reflective clothing if you are walking near traffic at night.
Carry a flashlight when walking in the dark.
Do not let kids play near traffic or cross the street by themselves. Kids are small, and drivers may not see them if they run into the street.

Watch your kids

Children should not cross streets by themselves or be allowed to play or walk near
traffic. Kids are small, unpredictable, and cannot judge vehicle distances and speeds.
When kids get older, teach them three things to do before they cross the street:
1) Try to cross at a corner with a traffic light. 2) Stop at the curb. 3) Look left, right, then left
again to make sure no cars are coming.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Battery Electric Vehicles

Electric CarBattery electric vehicles (EVs) run on electricity stored in batteries and have an electric motor rather than a gasoline engine. EVs are often confused with conventional hybrid electric vehicles which combine an internal combustion engine with a battery and electric motor. However EVs are zero emission cars because they have no internal combustion engine so they have no tailpipe exhaust and no evaporative emissions from the fuel system.

Over the years, manufacturers have developed a wide range of EV types that include:
  • Neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) that can be used for short trips around town.
  • City EVs with 50-75 miles range also for around town use.
  • Full function EVs which can go up to 80 miles an hour and have a longer range.
How it Work:

An EV has three main components: the batteries, the electric motor controller, and the electric motor. The controller converts direct current (DC) from the batteries to alternating current (AC) for the motor. The most common battery types available are, Nickel metal hydride, Lithium Ion, and Lead acid. To recharge the batteries, there is a charger on the car which takes the electricity from a power source (ultimately the power plant) and converts the current from AC to DC for the battery.


Battery electric vehicles will always have a Global Warming Score of 10 and Smog Score of 10 on their Environmental Performance Label. This is even taking into account the power plant emissions from making the electricity to charge the cars. Here are more battery EV benefits:
  • No tailpipe exhaust
  • No evaporative emissions
  • No emissions system which can degrade or fail with time
  • No emissions from the refining of fuel and service stations
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduced exposure to toxic air contaminants such as benzene when refueling with gasoline
  • Reduced oil consumption and dependence on imported oil
  • When factoring in power plant emissions - EVs are 90% cleaner than the average new gasoline vehicle.
  • EVs are 3 ½ to 4 times more efficient than their gasoline counterparts.

EVs meet all federal motor vehicle safety requirements. The batteries are sealed and all high-voltage circuits are protected from accidental contact. High-voltage circuits are color-coded orange and posted with warnings to advise of their presence. These vehicles pose no additional risks over a conventional vehicle.

Friday, December 18, 2009

AntiTheft Devices

Engine Disabler or Kill Switch:

This well hidden switch is installed so when turned on, it cuts power to your starter.
Engine Disabler
Armor Collar:

A metal shield that locks around your steering column, which prevents tampering with the ignition switch or starting mechanism. This prevents "hot-wiring" a car because the area is inaccessible.
Armor Collar
Hood Lock:

A hood lock prevents a thief from stealing parts under the hood or disconnecting anti-theft devices.
Hood Lock
Fuel Switch:
When turned on, this mechanism stops the flow of fuel from the fuel pump so the car will only go a short distance and then quit.
Fuel Switch
Time Delay Switch:

This is a power cut-off device which, unless a switch is turned off, will disable your car shortly after it's started.
Time Delay Switch
Time Delay Ignition:

This device will activate your ignition only after a preset time has passed. There is no way to activate the ignition before the preset time has elapsed.
Time Delay Ignition
Clutch and Brake Lock:

This mechanism, used only on manual transmission vehicles, locks the brake pedal and the clutch pedal together so one can't be operated without the other.
Clutch and Brake Lock

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Winter Maintenance and Safety Tips for Car

Tire Chains - Weather and road conditions can change suddenly if you are traveling in the mountains or the foothills. Always keep chains handy and learn how to install them.

Winter Safety Kit - Whether you're heading for the mountains or planning a long road trip, it's a good idea to store a few items in an old duffel bag or backpack in the trunk of your car in case of emergency:
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Large flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid supplies
  • Extra blanket and some warm clothing
  • Battery-powered radio with spare batteries
  • Basic tool kit (screwdriver, pliers, adjustable wrench)
  • Bottled water and non-perishable food
  • Highway safety flares in good condition
  • Windshield ice scraper
  • Replacement electrical fuses (check owner's manual for specifics)

Cooling System - Flush and refill the radiator according to the manufacturer's specifications. This service should include replacing the pressure cap and adding anti-freeze if necessary. A quality repair shop has a tool that can check your car's antifreeze/coolant to make sure that it will provide adequate freeze protection.

Wiper Blades - Replace dry and cracked wiper blades and top off the wiper fluid. (Do not use water!) Check them before the first storm of the season by turning them on and making sure they evenly wipe the windshield.

Battery and Battery Cables - Have your battery tested, especially if it's near the end of its warranty. Inspect the battery cables for corrosion, cracks and dirt.

Brake Pads and Linings - Have your brakes checked by a licensed adjuster.

Tires - Regularly check the air pressure in your tires (including the spare) and inspect them for signs of excessive wear. Uneven or excessive tread wear is an indication that it may be time for rotation or replacement.

Lights - Properly functioning lights are crucial for driving in winter fog. Test them to make sure they work, especially brake lights and turn signals.

Heater and Defroster - You may want to have a professional inspect the entire heating system, as well as the belts and hoses.

Belts and hoses - Inspect the hoses and belts for cracks, soft spots or bulges. If you find a problem, have the hose or belt replaced.

Check Engine Light - Often ignored, your car's "Check Engine" or "Malfunction Indicator" light is the first sign of a problem. Have your car checked by a qualified technician if the check engine light is on.

Gas - Try to keep your tank at least half-full, particularly when driving at night, in bad weather or long distances.

Cell Phone - If you carry a cell phone for emergencies, make sure the battery is fully charged.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kids and bicycle safety

Before using your bicycle, make sure it is ready to ride. You should always inspect your bike to make sure all parts are secure and working properly.
  • Wear a Properly Fitted Bicycle Helmet: Protect your brain, save your life. For more information see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publication. “Easy Steps to Properly Fit a Bicycle Helmet.”
  • Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit: Stand over your bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top tube (bar) if using a road bike and 3 to 4 inches if a mountain bicycle. The seat should be level front to back. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat.
  • Check Your Equipment: Before riding, inflate tires properly and check that your brakes work.
  • See and Be Seen: Whether daytime, dawn, dusk, foul weather, or at night, you need to be seen by others. Wearing white has not been shown to make you more visible. Rather, always wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors when riding day or night. Also wear something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, or flashing lights. Remember, just because you can see a driver doesn’t mean the driver can see you.
  • Control Your Bicycle: Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items in a bicycle carrier or backpack.
  • Watch for and Avoid Road Hazards: Be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs. All these hazards can cause a crash. If you are riding with friends and you are in the lead, yell out and point to the hazard to alert the riders behind you.
  • Avoid Riding at Night: It is far more dangerous to ride at night than during the day because you are harder for others to see. If you have to ride at night, wear something that makes you more easily seen by others. Make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle (white lights on the front and red rear reflectors are required by law in many States), in addition to reflectors on your tires, so others can see you.
Many bicycle-related crashes resulting in injury or death are associated with the bicyclist’s behavior, including such things as not wearing a bicycle helmet, riding into a street without stopping, turning left or swerving into traffic that is coming from behind, running a stop sign, and riding the wrong way in traffic. To maximize your safety, always wear a helmet AND follow the rules of the road.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Driving More Efficiently

Drive Sensibly
Drive Sensibly

Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.

Observe the Speed Limit

While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.

You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.

Observing the speed limit is also safer.

Remove Excess WeightRemove Excess Weight

Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2 percent. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle's weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.

Avoid Excessive Idling

Idling gets 0 miles per gallon. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than do cars with smaller engines.

Use Cruise Control

Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.

Use Overdrive Gears

When you use overdrive gearing, your car's engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


A moped, sometimes called a "scooter," is a motor vehicle with the engine as an integral part of the vehicle. If the engine is an add-on it's likely the vehicle is a motor bicycle, which has limited operation on highways different from motorcycles and mopeds. A moped engine may not exceed 50 cubic centimeters (CCs) in size with an automatic transmission, or 130 CCs in size if it is a bicycle type vehicle with fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power.

Traditionally, mopeds had fully operative pedals but modern mopeds are usually more like small motorcycles with an automatic transmission and no pedals.

Differences between a moped and a motorized scooter

A motorized scooter is similar to a traditional foot-propelled scooter with two small wheels except it is powered by either an electric motor or gasoline engine. A person operating a motorized scooter typically is in the standing position although some scooters are equipped with a bicycle seat.

MopedsUnlike mopeds, which may be driven legally on public roads, a motorized scooter may not be operated legally on public roads or sidewalks within a roadway’s right-of-way.

Motorized scooters do not meet federal safety equipment standards for motor vehicles and are not designed for operation on roadways. Therefore, the law treats motorized scooters like lawn tractors, all-terrain vehicles, go-carts, mini-bikes and other off-road motor vehicles that are not allowed on public roads.

In addition, anyone operating a motorized scooter on a street or sidewalk without a valid driver’s license could receive a citation for operating a motor vehicle without a driver’s license. For juveniles, such a violation could result in their being ineligible for a driver’s license when they turn age 16.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Diesel vehicles

Diesel Car
Diesel vehicles may be making a comeback. Diesel engines are more powerful and fuel-efficient than similar-sized gasoline engines (about 30-35% more fuel efficient). Plus, today's diesel vehicles are much improved over diesels of the past.

Better Performance

Improved fuel injection and electronic engine control technologies have
  • Mercedes ML320 BlueTECIncreased power
  • Improved acceleration
  • Increased efficiency
New engine designs, along with noise- and vibration-damping technologies, have made them quieter and smoother. Cold-weather starting has been improved also.


Today's diesels must meet the same emissions standards as gasoline vehicles. Advances in engine technologies, ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, and improved exhaust treatment have made this possible.

Although emissions of particulates and smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) are still relatively high, new "clean" diesel fuels, such as ultra-low sulfur diesel and biodiesel, and advances in emission control technologies will reduce these pollutants also.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Frontal Air Bags

Like first and second generation frontal air bags, third generation advanced frontal air bags inflate in a fraction of a second to prevent occupants from striking the interior of the vehicle during a moderate to severe crash.

However, in a lower-speed frontal crash, where full-force air bag deployment would not be necessary or could cause injury to smaller occupants, an advanced air bag system provides the appropriate level of protection by:

• Inflating a frontal air bag with less force (referred to as low-risk deployment), or

• Shutting off a frontal air bag entirely (referred to as suppression.)

Friday, December 04, 2009

Tire Traction

Traction grades are an indication of a tire's ability to stop on wet pavement. A higher graded tire should allow a car to stop on wet roads in a shorter distance than a tire with a lower grade. Traction is graded from highest to lowest as "AA", "A", "B", and "C".

diagram of tire showing traction designation

Of current tires:

  • 3% are rated “AA”

  • 75% are rated “A”

  • 22% are rated “B”

  • only 1 line of tires rated “C”

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Tire Ratings-UTQGS

Temperature grades are an indication of a tire's resistance to heat. Sustained high temperature (for example, driving long distances in hot weather), can cause a tire to deteriorate, leading to blowouts and tread separation. From highest to lowest, a tire's resistance to heat is graded as “A”, “B”, or “C”.

Of current tires:

  • 27% are rated “A”

  • 59% are rated “B”

  • 11% are rated “C”

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tire Maintenance

There is a close working relationship between your tires and other mechanical systems in your vehicle, such as the wheels, brakes, shock absorbers, steering and suspension systems. To ensure you have a safe, comfortable ride and good tire mileage, click on the areas of interest below.
  • Tire Size
  • Tire Tread
  • Balance & Alignment
  • Rotation
  • Repair

Tire Size

To maintain tire safety, purchase new tires that are the same size as the vehicle's original tires or another size recommended by the manufacturer. Look at the tire information placard, the owner's manual, or the sidewall of the tire you are replacing to find this information. If you have any doubt about the correct size to choose, consult with the tire dealer.

Tire Tread

The tire tread provides the gripping action and traction that prevent your vehicle from slipping or sliding, especially when the road is wet or icy. In general, tires are not safe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch. Tires have built-in treadwear indicators that let you know when it is time to replace your tires. These indicators are raised sections spaced intermittently in the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear "even" with the outside of the tread, it is time to replace your tires.

Another method for checking tread depth is to place a penny in the tread with Lincoln's head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, you are ready for new tires. The tread on this tire covers the top of Lincoln's head, so it's not yet ready for replacement.

Penny in Tire

Balance & Alignment

To avoid vibration or shaking of the vehicle when a tire rotates, the tire must be properly balanced. This balance is achieved by positioning weights on the wheel to counterbalance heavy spots on the wheel-and-tire assembly.

A wheel alignment adjusts the angles of the wheels so that they are positioned correctly relative to the vehicle's frame. This adjustment maximizes the life of your tires and prevents your car from veering to the right or left when driving on a straight, level road.

These adjustments require special equipment and should be performed by a qualified technician.


Rotating tires from front to back and from side to side can reduce irregular wear (for vehicles that have tires that are all the same size). Look in your owner's manual for information on how frequently the tires on your vehicle should be rotated and the best pattern for rotation.

Examples of common rotation patterns (for vehicles with tires that are the same type and size):

Tire rotation diagram


A plug by itself is not an acceptable repair.

The proper repair of a punctured tire requires a plug for the hole and a patch for the area inside the tire that surrounds the puncture hole. The repair material used - for example, a “combination patch and plug” repair - must seal the inner liner and fill the injury to be considered a permanent repair.

Punctures through the tread can be repaired if they are not too large, but punctures to the sidewall should not be repaired.

Tires must be removed from the rim to be properly inspected before being plugged and patched.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Toyota Announces Fix for Accelerator Pedal Entrapment Problem

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today announced that Toyota has identified a vehicle-based remedy to fix a sudden acceleration safety issue involving floor mats trapping accelerator pedals in various Toyota and Lexus models. Toyota announced the recall of these vehicles in early October and said it would soon develop a vehicle-based remedy to reduce the risk of a crash due to accelerator pedal entrapment.

The models involved in the recall are: 2007 to 2010 MY Camry, 2005 to 2010 MY Avalon, 2004 to 2009 MY Prius, 2005-2010 MY Tacoma, 2007-2010 MY Tundra, 2007-2010 MY ES 350, 2006-2010 MY IS 250, and 2006 to 2010 MY IS 350.

NHTSA said Toyota plans to reconfigure the accelerator pedal, and in some cases the shape of the floor surface under the pedal, to address the risk of pedal entrapment due to floor mat interference, particularly with regard to inappropriate or improperly attached floor mats. At the same time, Toyota will develop replacement pedals for these vehicles, which will become available for some models in April 2010. Toyota will provide owners with the new pedal, when it becomes available, even if the vehicle has already received the modified pedal under the recall.

In addition, vehicles with any genuine Toyota or Lexus accessory all-weather floor mats will be provided with newly-designed replacement driver- and front-passenger side all-weather mats.

NHTSA also said that Toyota will, in addition to these announced vehicle-based remedies, install a brake override system on the involved Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES 350, IS 350 and IS 250 models as an “extra measure of confidence.” The brake override system would ensure the vehicle would stop if both the brake and the accelerator pedals are simultaneously applied. NHTSA is particularly pleased that Toyota is taking this additional step.

NHTSA said that Toyota intends to notify vehicle owners on a rolling basis, starting with owners of the ES 350, Camry, and Avalon vehicles. While awaiting Toyota's notification, NHTSA urges owners to remove all removable driver's side floor mats and not replace them until their vehicles have received the remedies being provided by Toyota. Toyota will begin making the necessary fixes to the recalled vehicles beginning early in 2010, perhaps in January. Initially, Toyota dealers will be instructed on how to reshape existing accelerator pedals. Later, replacement accelerator pedals will be available for installation on vehicles not yet remedied or, if the owner so chooses, even to replace the modified pedals.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jet-powered Ford guns for 300 mph

Jet-powered Ford guns
oe Wilkins knew there was only one way to give his supercharged, alcohol-injected Hemi-engined hot rod more power: Put a jet engine in the trunk.

"It started as a hobby and turned into a monster," said Joe Wilkins, the motor madman behind what might be the wildest 1939 Ford ever built. He's an inventor and defense department contractor, and the idea of goosing the Ford's ability to turn heads and shred tires came when he bought a used gas turbine engine.

"I got hooked on the simplicity and power that this thing produced, and I decided one day I want to put it in a car."

For More Information

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tire Pressure and Loading

Tire Pressure and Loading
Tire information placards and vehicle certification labels contain information on tires and load limits. These labels indicate the vehicle manufacturer's information including:
  • Recommended tire size
  • Recommended tire inflation pressure (usually given in PSI cold)
  • Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR):
    • the maximum occupant and cargo weight a vehicle is designed to carry
  • Gross axle weight ratings (GAWR) for front and rear axles:
    • the maximum weight the axle systems are designed to carry

Both placards and certification labels are permanently attached to the vehicle door edge, door post, glove-box door, or inside of the trunk lid. You can also find the recommended tire pressure and load limit for your vehicle in the vehicle owner's manual.

* Understanding Tire Pressure
* Checking Tire Pressure
* Maintaining Tire Pressure

Understanding Tire Pressure and Load Limits

Tire inflation pressure is the level of air in the tire that provides it with load-carrying capacity and affects the overall performance of the vehicle. The tire inflation pressure is a number that indicates the amount of air pressure– measured in pounds per square inch (psi)–a tire requires to be properly inflated. (You will also find this number on the vehicle information placard expressed in kilopascals (kPa), which is the metric measure used internationally.)

Manufacturers of passenger vehicles and light trucks determine this number based on he vehicle's design load limit, that is, the greatest amount of weight a vehicle can safely carry and the vehicle's tire size.The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is referred to as the "recommended cold inflation pressure."

Checking Tire Pressure

It is important to check your vehicle's tire pressure at least once a month for the following reasons:

* Most tires may naturally lose air over time.
* Tires can lose air suddenly if you drive over a pothole or other object or if you strike the curb when parking.

Purchase a tire pressure gauge to keep in your vehicle. Gauges can be purchased at tire dealerships, auto supply stores, and other retail outlets.

The vehicle manufacturer's recommended tire inflation pressure is the proper psi when a tire is cold. The term cold does not relate to the outside temperature. Rather, a cold tire is one that has not been driven on for at least three hours. When you drive, your tires get warmer, causing the air pressure within them to increase. Your tires can get warm after just 1 mile of driving.

Therefore, to get an accurate tire pressure reading, you must measure tire pressure when the tires are cold or compensate for the extra pressure in warm tires.

Steps for Maintaining Proper Tire Pressure

Step 1: Locate the recommended tire pressure on the vehicle's tire information placard, certification label, or in the owner's manual.

Step 2: Check the tire pressure of all tires.

Step 3: If the tire pressure is too high in any of the tires, slowly release air by gently pressing on the tire valve stem with the edge of your tire gauge until you get to the correct pressure.

Step 4: If the tire pressure is too low, note the difference between the measured tire pressure and the correct tire pressure. These "missing" pounds of pressure are what you will need to add. At a service station, add the missing pounds of air pressure to each tire that is under inflated.

Step 5: Check all the tires to make sure they have the same air pressure (except in cases in which the front and rear tires are supposed to have different amounts of pressure).

If you have been driving your vehicle and think that a tire is under inflated, fill it to the recommended cold inflation pressure indicated on your vehicle's tire information placard or certification label. While your tire may still be slightly under inflated due to the extra pressure of a warm tire, it is safer to drive with air pressure that is slightly lower than the vehicle manufacturer's recommended cold inflation pressure than to drive with a significantly under inflated tire. Since this is a temporary fix, don't forget to recheck and adjust the tire's pressure when you can obtain a cold reading.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Consumer Advisory: Lerado Recalls 5,540 Mia Moda Seats and Bases

Mia Moda SN Locator 1

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is alerting consumers to immediately stop using Mia Moda Viva and Viva Supreme infant child restraint systems due to safety defects. Owners will need to obtain another seat; young children should never be transported in a motor vehicle without a proper safety restraint system.

Lerado, the manufacturer, is recalling 5,540 seats and bases because they could fail to adequately restrain a child in the event of a crash. The restraint’s harness splitter plate located on the rear of the seat has sharp edges which could cut the harness straps. In addition, the restraint’s base is vulnerable to cracking during a crash.

The affected model numbers include the 5000 (seat), 5001 (base), 5050 (seat), 5051 (base), 5070 (seat), 5071 (base), 5080 (seat), and 5081 (base) manufactured in 2006 through 2009. The models and serial numbers can be found on the infant seat or car base as shown in the illustrations below. The company will also offer a full refund of the purchase price of the affected seat. For more information, contact Lerado toll-free at 1-877-546-8437.

In addition, parents and caregivers are encouraged to sign up with NHTSA to automatically receive updates about child seat recalls via email. Consumers may sign-up for recall notifications from the federal government by visiting and clicking on the “e-mail” or “RSS” option to register.

Consumers with questions about this or any other safety recall campaign may call NHTSA’s toll-free Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153).

Keeping Kids safe in Car

Many children are killed or seriously injured in backover incidents. A backover incident typically occurs when a car coming out of a driveway or parking space backs over a child because the driver did not see him/her. These backover incidents typically involve toddlers that wander unnoticed into the path of a vehicle moving in reverse.

Prevention Tips:

  • Teach children not to play in or around cars
  • Supervise children carefully when in and around vehicles
  • Always walk around your vehicle and check the area around it before backing up.
  • Be aware of small children-the smaller a child, the more likely it is you will not see them.
  • Teach children to move away from a vehicle when a driver gets in it or if the car is started.
  • Have children in the area stand to the side of the driveway or sidewalk so you can see them as you are backing out of a driveway or parking space.
  • Make sure to look behind you while backing up slowly in case a child dashes behind your vehicle unexpectedly.
  • Take extra care if you drive a large vehicle because they are likely to have bigger blind zones. Roll down your windows while backing out of your driveway or parking space so that you'll be able to hear what is happening outside of your vehicle.
  • Teach your children to keep their toys and bikes out of the driveway.
  • Because kids can move unpredictably, you should actively check your mirrors while backing up.
  • Many cars are equipped with detection devices like backup cameras or warning sounds, but they cannot take the place of you actively walking around your car to make sure your children are safely out of the way. Do not rely solely on these devices to detect what's behind your vehicle.

What you need to know, now:

  • Every vehicle has blind zone areas. As the size and height of a vehicle increases, the blind zone area does as well.
  • The elevation of the driver's seat, the shape of the windows and mirrors, and the slope of the road or driveway can affect the size of the blind zone behind the vehicle.
  • Light trucks, SUVs, and vans, are more likely to be involved in backovers than cars.
  • Backovers are often a result of a child following a parent or guardian to the driveway without the parent knowing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How Does the Small Engine Rule Work?

The regulation (commonly called Phase 1) sets allow- able exhaust levels for hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and NOx from small engines of 25 HP or less. The rule applies to all small engines produced after September 1, 1997—with some earlier and a few later. Allowable emission levels vary depending on engine size and use.

EPA works directly with the engine manufacturers to assure they comply with the regulations. Before an engine manufacturer can sell a regulated engine model in the U.S., it must obtain a certificate of conformity from EPA. To obtain a certificate of conformity, the engine manufac- turer must provide test data along with other information demonstrating that the engine model meets the applicable emission standards.

The Agency requires that the engine manufacturer label each certified engine to indicate compliance with the small spark-ignition engine rule. The language may read “this engine conforms to Phase 1 U.S. EPA regulations for small nonroad engines.” Some engine labels, however, will feature language indicating compliance with both EPA and California regulations. Emission labels will be found on the engine, or if the engine label is obscured, on the piece of equipment itself.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Alternative Fuel Vehicles

China encourages the development of clean and fuel efficient vehicles in an effort to sustain continued growth of the country’s automobile industry. By the end of 2007, China plans to reduce the average fuel consumption per 100 km for all types of vehicles by 10%. The proportion of vehicles burning alternative fuel will be increased to help optimize the country’s energy consumption. Priority will be given to facilitating the research and development of electric and hybrid vehicles as well as alternative fuel vehicles, especially CNG/LNG. Major cities like Beijing and Shanghai already require Euro III emission standards.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

U.S. Department of Transportation Releases New Action Plan to Address Motorcoach Safety Issues

The U.S. Department of Transportation today released its Motorcoach Safety Action Plan which lays out concrete steps for improving motorcoach safety across the board. The action plan addresses major safety issues such as driver fatigue and inattention, vehicle rollover, occupant ejections and oversight of unsafe carriers.

"We are committed to making sure that bus travelers reach their destinations safely," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "These improvements will not only help reduce the number of motorcoach crashes, it will also help save lives and reduce injuries."

While motorcoach travel is a very safe mode of highway transportation in the United States, carrying 750 million passengers annually, an average of 19 motorcoach occupants are killed in crashes each year according to data collected by DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Additional fatalities result among pedestrians, and occupants of other vehicles involved in these crashes.

To address this issue, Secretary LaHood directed DOT's agencies to take a fresh look at motorcoach safety issues, identify actions to address outstanding safety problems, and develop an aggressive schedule to implement those actions.

The comprehensive action plan announced today proposes enhanced regulatory oversight of new and high risk motorcoach operators, as well as the increased use of new technologies. To address driver distraction, it proposes to initiate rulemaking to prohibit texting and limit the use of cellular telephones and other devices by motorcoach drivers. It also discusses requiring electronic on-board recording devices on all motorcoaches to better monitor drivers' duty hours to address fatigue, and enhanced oversight of unsafe carriers.

In addition, the action plan proposes to better protect motorcoach occupants by requiring the installation of seat belts and discusses additional measures such as the establishment of performance requirements for enhanced roof strength, fire safety, and emergency egress. It also calls for safety improvements using technologies such as electronic stability control to prevent rollovers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dealer Sales in Buying a Used Car

User Cars

Used cars are sold through a variety of outlets: franchise and independent dealers, rental car companies, leasing companies, and used car superstores. You can even buy a used car on the Internet. Ask friends, relatives, and co-workers for recommendations. You may want to call your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General (AG), and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to find out if any unresolved complaints are on file about a particular dealer.

Some dealers are attracting customers with "no-haggle prices," "factory certified" used cars, and better warranties. Consider the dealer's reputation when you evaluate these ads.

Dealers are not required by law to give used car buyers a three-day right to cancel. The right to return the car in a few days for a refund exists only if the dealer grants this privilege to buyers. Dealers may describe the right to cancel as a "cooling-off" period, a money-back guarantee, or a "no questions asked" return policy. Before you purchase from a dealer, ask about the dealer's return policy, get it in writing and read it carefully.

The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Used Car Rule requires dealers to post a Buyers Guide in every used car they offer for sale. This includes light-duty vans, light-duty trucks, demonstrators, and program cars. Demonstrators are new cars that have not been owned, leased, or used as rentals, but have been driven by dealer staff. Program cars are low-mileage, current-model-year vehicles returned from short-term leases or rentals. Buyers Guides do not have to be posted on motorcycles and most recreational vehicles. Anyone who sells less than six cars a year doesn't have to post a Buyers Guide.

The Buyers Guide must tell you:
  • whether the vehicle is being sold "as is" or with a warranty;
  • what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty;
  • that spoken promises are difficult to enforce;
  • to get all promises in writing;
  • to keep the Buyers Guide for reference after the sale;
  • the major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the major problems you should look out for; and
  • to ask to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy.

When you buy a used car from a dealer, get the original Buyers Guide that was posted in the vehicle, or a copy. The Guide must reflect any negotiated changes in warranty coverage. It also becomes part of your sales contract and overrides any contrary provisions. For example, if the Buyers Guide says the car comes with a warranty and the contract says the car is sold "as is," the dealer must give you the warranty described in the Guide.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Insurance Commissioner Poizner Announces Southern California Man Arrested in Connection with Auto Insurance Fraud Charges

Insurance Commissioner Poizner announced today the arrest of Ronald Velasquez, 25, of Mentone. Velasquez was charged with filing a fraudulent auto insurance claim and booked at the Orange County Jail. Bail was set at $30,000.

"Defrauding an insurance company is illegal and will get you a one way ticket to jail," said Commissioner Poizner. "CDI fraud detectives work around the clock to stop criminals who defraud insurers and drive up the cost of insurance for everyone."

According to CDI detectives, on June 8, 2008 at approximately 3:15 p.m., Velasquez rear-ended another vehicle while driving uninsured. At approximately 3:56 p.m., Velasquez purchased insurance online from Esurance Property and Casualty Insurance Company. On June 11, 2008, Velasquez filed a claim online that he was involved in a traffic collision on June 11, 2008.

On August 1, 2008, Esurance denied Velasquez's claim after concluding that his purchase of the policy occurred after his traffic collision. The potential loss of this claim would have been $10,000.00.

The Orange County District Attorney's Office is prosecuting the case.

Commissioner Poizner oversees sixteen CDI Enforcement Branch regional offices throughout the state. Close to 1900 insurance fraud-related arrests have been made by the Department of Insurance's enforcement division since Commissioner Poizner took office in 2007 - more arrests than have been made during any other two year period, under any previous insurance commissioner.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Car Details in your Mobile

blackberry showing
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have launched a new Web site designed specifically for mobile Internet devices!

Consumers can view
  • Fuel economy ratings for all cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. back to model year 1985

  • Annual fuel cost estimates
  • Annual petroleum use (barrels of domestic and imported petroleum)
  • Carbon footprint (tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually)

Mobile Internet access means consumers can view fuel economy data at their convenience, whenever and where ever they want.

To access new mobile site, enter in your phone's Web browser.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is meant by dual-stage, multi-stage, or variable output inflation?

Dual-stage, multi-stage, or variable output are terms used to describe the operation of the air bag inflators in your air bag system that cause the air bag to fill. For dual stage or multi-stage inflators, the inflators may go off in two or more stages (steps) to tailor the amount of pressure in the frontal air bag during a crash. For a variable output inflator, the inflator can tailor the output across a range of inflation pressures.

In general, for less severe crashes requiring less inflation force, only one stage of a dual-stage/multi-stage inflator may go off, or there may be less output pressure from a variable output inflator. Both result in a lower-pressure air bag deployment. For more severe crashes, all stages of a dual-stage/multi-stage inflator may go off at the same time or there may be full output from a variable output inflator. Both result in a higher-pressure air bag deployment.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hydraulic Hybrid Research

EPA is a research leader in the application of hydraulics in vehicles. Hydraulic hybrid technology uses a hydraulic energy storage and propulsion system in the vehicle. This hydraulic system captures and stores a large fraction of the energy normally wasted in vehicle braking and uses this energy to help propel the vehicle during the next vehicle acceleration. The hydraulic system also enables the engine to operate more efficiently when it is needed.

Hydraulic hybrids draw from two sources of power to operate the vehicle - the diesel or gasoline engine and the hydraulic components. In other words, a typical diesel-powered or gasoline powered vehicle can be fitted with hydraulic components as a secondary energy storage system. The primary hydraulic components are two hydraulic accumulator vessels (a high-pressure accumulator capable of storing hydraulic fluid compressing inert nitrogen gas and a low-pressure accumulator) and one or more hydraulic pump/motor units.

Benefits of Hydraulic Technology: Hydraulic drivetrains are particularly attractive for vehicle applications that entail a significant amount of stop-and-go driving, such as urban delivery trucks or school buses. A major benefit of a hydraulic hybrid vehicle is the ability to capture and use a large percentage of the energy normally lost in vehicle braking. Hydraulic hybrids can quickly and efficiently store and release great amounts of energy due to a higher power density. This is a critical factor in maximizing braking energy recovered and increasing the fuel economy benefit. While the primary benefit of hydraulics is higher fuel economy, hydraulics also increase vehicle acceleration performance. Hydraulic hybrid technology cost-effectively allows the engine speed or torque to be independent of vehicle speed resulting in cleaner and more efficient engine operation.

Future of Hydraulics: Hydraulic hybrid systems create a unique opportunity to optimize engine operations. EPA has produced research concept vehicles that demonstrate the hydraulic technology. One concept vehicle is an urban delivery truck that uses hydraulic "launch assist." This delivery truck retains its conventional engine and transmission, but adds on a hydraulics package optimized for fuel economy. The next generation of hydraulic vehicles involves fully integrating hydraulic technology. In this configuration, the "full" hydraulic hybrid replaces the conventional drivetrain with a hydraulic drivetrain and eliminates the need for a transmission and transfer case. Using the full hydraulic drive in conjunction with EPA's clean diesel combustion technology is projected to improve fuel economy even more.

EPA also has achieved major breakthroughs in designing hydraulic accumulators and pump/motors to be more efficient, smaller, and lighter for motor vehicle applications, which will help improve fuel efficiency. EPA currently has cooperative research and development agreements with several private sector partners to further the development of hydraulics.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Flex-Fuel Vehicles

Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) are designed to run on gasoline or a blend of up to 85%

ethanol (E85). Except for a few engine and fuel system modifications, they are identical to gasoline-only models.

FFVs have been produced since the 1980s, and dozens of models are currently available. Since FFVs look just like gasoline-only models, you may have an FFV and not even know it. To determine if your vehicle is an FFV, check the inside of your car's fuel filler door for an identification sticker or consult your owner’s manual.

FFVs experience no loss in performance when operating on E85. However, since a gallon of ethanol contains less energy than a gallon of gasoline, FFVs typically get about 20-30% fewer miles per gallon when fueled with E85.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Driving eyesight requirements

Letting the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) know about eyesight conditions

When applying for your driving licence from the DVLA you should let them know if you have:

  • any visual condition which affects both eyes (not including short or long sight or colour blindness)
  • any visual condition which affects your sight (not including short or long sight or colour blindness) eg if you have sight in one eye only

If you have had sight correction surgery you should declare this when you apply for your provisional licence.

Eyesight requirements for the practical driving test

Before the practical driving test, your driving examiner will ask you to read the number plate on a stationary vehicle.

The distance requirement for the eyesight test using old style number plates is 20.5 metres or 20 metres if the new-style number plate is used. New-style number plates are easily identifiable starting with two letters eg AB 51 ABC.

If you can't speak English or have difficulty reading, you may copy down what you see.

You can’t read the first number plate

If you can't read the first number plate correctly, you'll be asked to read a second number plate, if you can't read this number plate correctly, you'll be allowed to walk forward until you're just over the appropriate distance away.

If you still can't read the number plate correctly, the examiner will ask you to read a third number plate and will measure the precise distance from this number plate. The distance will be 20.5 metres if you're asked to read an old-style number plate and 20 metres if you're asked to read a new-style number plate.

You can’t read the third number plate

If you can't read the third number plate correctly, and the examiner is satisfied that you don't meet the required eyesight standard, you'll fail the driving test, and the practical test will not continue.

This test failure will be marked on the driving test report form (DL25) with a mark in the 'Item 1' box. Your interpretation of the number plate along with the correct one will be written on the back of the form along with the measured distance.

Wearing glasses/corrective lenses to pass the eyesight test

If you can only read a number plate using glasses/corrective lenses for the eyesight test, the law requires you wear them whenever you are driving and throughout your test. You're not allowed to remove your glasses/corrective lenses when carrying out test manoeuvres (reversing etc).

If you used your glasses/corrective lenses to read the number plate and take off/out your glasses/corrective lenses during the practical test, your examiner will remind you the law requires you to wear them; if you refuse to wear them, the test will not continue.

If you have broken, forgotten or brought the wrong glasses, you should tell your examiner at the start of the test. If you don't tell the examiner and attempt and fail the eyesight test, your test will be recorded as a failure and the remainder of the test will not go ahead.

Failing the eyesight test

Should you fail the eyesight requirement; the examiner will ask you to sign a form DL.77 –which acknowledges you were unable to comply with the eyesight requirements. The examiner (using form DL.77 form) will notify the DVLA that you did not meet the eyesight requirements and your licence will be revoked.

To reapply for your licence, send to DVLA an ‘Application for a Driving Licence’ (D1), available from the DVLA form ordering service or Post Office® branches. You can also download and complete the medical questionnaire V1 and return it with your D1 form.

When your application arrives at DVLA they’ll ask the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) to conduct a separate eyesight test for you at a test centre. If you’re successful you’ll still have to pass the DSA standard eyesight test at your next practical driving test.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Turbocharging and Supercharging

Engine with Turbocharger
Turbochargers and superchargers are fans that force compressed air into an engine’s cylinders. A turbocharger fan is powered by exhaust from the engine, while a supercharger fan is powered by the engine itself.

Both technologies allow more compressed air and fuel to be injected into the cylinders, generating extra power from each explosion. A turbocharged or supercharged engine produces more power than the same engine without the charging, allowing manufacturers to user smaller engines without sacrificing performance.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Aliphatic Polyisocyanate Paints In Automotive

Two-component, polyurethane paints containing aliphatic isocyanates are widely used in autobody spray painting. Such isocyanates can cause asthma, and skin exposure may be an important route of sensitization and may contribute to the development of isocyanate asthma. Autobody workers are frequently in contact with recently painted, dried auto parts. It is not known how fast the newly painted car surfaces are fully cured, that is, for how long unbound, isocyanate species remain on painted surfaces after initial drying. To address this question, scrap sections of auto bodies were painted and dried by autobody shop painters following regular practice. Routinely used paints were sprayed 23 different times on the parts. Drying was accomplished by baking the part in a paint spray booth by heating it with a heat lamp or air drying in the shop.

The 23 sprayed surfaces were sampled at regular time intervals after drying to determine the presence of free NCO groups using the semiquantitative SWYPE technique. Quantitative isocyanate analysis was also performed on two sprayed parts using NIOSH method 5525. Geometric mean curing time of 23 painted surfaces was 56.4 hr (range: 0.8 hrs to 32 days). Unbound isocyanate species of similar composition to the original bulk material remained present on the majority of sampled painted surfaces for up to 120 hours for typical paint formulations and for 1 month for others.

The actual curing of polyurethane paints in autobody refinishing can be a slow process. Unbound isocyanates may remain on the surface of painted car parts for prolonged periods (days to weeks) after dried. Such surfaces are an under-recognized potential source of skin exposure to autobody workers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Consumer Assistance Program Fact Sheet

The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) provides financial assistance for qualified consumers whose vehicles fail their biennial (every-other-year) Smog Check. The statutory authority for CAP is found in the Health and Safety Code and is implemented through regulations adopted by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). Participation in CAP is limited to available funds.

How do I qualify for CAP?

CAP offers two options for consumers whose vehicles fail their biennial Smog Check:

  • Repair Assistance: Qualified consumers can receive financial assistance toward emissions-related repairs to help their vehicles pass their Smog Check inspection. Approved applicants must take their vehicles to a Gold Shield repair station for repairs. Gold Shield stations are licensed Smog Check facilities that are independently owned and under contract with the State of California. There are two ways to qualify for repair assistance.
    • Income Eligible - Qualified consumers whose household incomes meet the income guidelines (derived from the federal poverty guidelines) can receive financial assistance toward emissions-related repairs. A copayment is required and will be applied toward diagnosis and emission-related repairs. The CAP application includes an income eligibility table to help consumers determine if they meet the income requirements.
    • Directed Vehicle Eligible - Certain vehicles are directed to Test-Only or Gold Shield stations for their initial smog tests. If your Department of Motor Vehicles registration notice requires a test at a Test-Only or Gold Shield station, and your vehicle fails, you may qualify for financial assistance toward emissions-related repairs at a Gold Shield repair station. Test-Only stations cannot perform repairs. A copayment is required and will be applied toward diagnosis and emissions-related repairs.
  • Vehicle Retirement: Eligible consumers can receive payment to retire their high-polluting vehicle. There are no income or Directed Vehicle eligibility requirements. Approved applicants must take their vehicle to an authorized dismantler. The vehicle must pass a visual and operational inspection before it is retired.

How do I apply?

You must first submit an application. Do not have any repairs done to your vehicle until you are notified that your application has been approved. If you applied for repair assistance, you will then receive an approval letter and a list of Gold Shield stations. If you applied for vehicle retirement, you will receive an approval letter and a list of contracted dismantlers.

Monday, October 26, 2009

FRA Train Horn Rule Fact Sheet

Purpose: The goal of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in developing the train horn rule is to ensure safety for motorists at highway-rail grade crossings while allowing communities the opportunity to preserve or enhance quality of life for their residents by establishing areas/times in which train horns are silenced.

Historical Background: Since their inception, railroads have sounded locomotive horns or whistles in advance of grade crossings and under other circumstances as a universal safety precaution. During the 20th century, nearly every state in the nation enacted laws requiring railroads to do so. Some states allowed local communities to create whistle bans where the train horn was not routinely sounded.

In the early 1990’s, the FRA observed a significant increase in train-vehicle collisions at certain gated grade crossings in Florida which coincided with a statewide whistle ban on the Florida East Coast Railroad (FECR). In 1993, FRA issued Emergency Order #15 requiring trains on the FECR to sound their horns again, pre-empting the 1984 Florida statute that created the ban. The number and rate of collisions at affected crossings returned to pre-whistle ban levels.

In 1994, Congress mandated that the FRA issue a federal regulation requiring the sounding of locomotive horns or whistles at all public highway-rail grade crossings; and to provide for exceptions to that requirement by allowing communities to establish "quiet zones." In 1996, Congress added that special consideration be given to communities with long-standing or legacy whistle bans.

Before finalizing the rule, FRA held public meetings around the country and solicited comment from scores of affected communities and stakeholders. Based upon the voluminous input received, FRA published an Interim Final Rule in December 2003, refining its original proposal and inviting additional public comment. The final federal train horn rule became effective on June 24, 2005.

The rule provides the first opportunity ever for many local communities around the country affected by train horn noise the option of silencing horns by establishing quiet zones.

Sounding the Locomotive Horn: Under the Train Horn Rule, locomotive engineers must sound train horns for a minimum of 15 seconds, and a maximum of 20 seconds, in advance of all public grade crossings, except:

  • If a train is traveling faster than 45mph, engineers will not sound the horn until it is within ¼ mile of the crossing, even if the advance warning is less than 15 seconds.
  • If a train stops in close proximity to a crossing, the horn does not have to be sounded when the train begins to move again.
  • There is a "good faith" exception for locations where engineers can’t precisely estimate their arrival at a crossing.
Wherever feasible, train horns must be sounded in a standardized pattern of 2 long, 1 short and 1 long. The horn must continue to sound until the lead locomotive or train car occupies the grade crossing.

For the first time, a maximum volume level for the train horn has been established at 110 decibels. The minimum sound level remains 96 decibels. Railroads have until 2010 to fully comply with the maximum volume level requirement.

Establishing a New Quiet Zone: A new quiet zone must be at least ½ mile in length and have at least one public highway-rail grade crossing. Every public grade crossing in a new quiet zone must be equipped at minimum with the standard or conventional flashing light and gate automatic warning system. A quiet zone may be established to cover a full 24-hour period or only during the overnight period from 10:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M.

Local governments must work in cooperation with the railroad that owns the track, and the appropriate state transportation authority to form a diagnostic team to assess the risk of collision at each grade crossing where they wish to silence the horn. An objective determination is made about where and what type of additional safety engineering improvements are necessary to effectively reduce the risk associated with silencing the horns based on localized conditions such as highway traffic volumes, train traffic volumes, the accident history and physical characteristics of the crossing, including existing safety measures.

Examples of additional safety engineering improvements that may be necessary to reduce the risk of collisions include: medians on one or both sides of the tracks to prevent a motorist from driving around a lowered gate; a four-quadrant gate system to block all lanes of highway traffic; converting a two-way street into a one-way street; permanent closure of the crossing to highway traffic; or use of wayside horns posted at the crossing directed at highway traffic only.

Once all necessary safety engineering improvements are made, the local community must certify to FRA that the required level of risk reduction has been achieved. A quiet zone becomes effective and train horns go silent only when all necessary additional safety measures are installed and operational.

Quiet Zone Exceptions: In a quiet zone, engineers have no legal duty to sound the horn, but do have discretion to do so during emergency situations (i.e. the presence of a vehicle or a person on the track).

Under federal regulations, engineers must sound the horn to warn railroad maintenance employees or contractors working on the tracks.

Monitoring Quiet Zones: If a railroad or particular engineer is observed failing to sound horns as required or is repeatedly and unnecessarily sounding the horn in an established quiet zone, FRA will seek to remedy the situation or take enforcement action.

Effect of the Rule on Pre-Existing Whistle Bans: Legacy whistle bans were established by local ordinance or through agreements with specific railroads in accordance with existing state law, or through informal agreements honored or abided by a railroad. The new rule required communities with whistle bans to affirmatively state their intention to preserve it by submitting specific paperwork converting the ban to a "pre-rule quiet zone." Those that failed to do so by a specified deadline lost their special status and railroads resumed routine sounding of horns.

Pre-rule quiet zone communities that completed the required paperwork have been granted an extended grace period (from 5 to 8 years) to achieve compliance with certain rule requirements. During the grace period, local communities must periodically file paperwork to demonstrate their progress toward compliance or the horns will start sounding again.

The Chicago area’s numerous pre-existing whistle bans are temporarily excepted from compliance with the rule because of their unique experience with this issue. After an ongoing collaborative review is completed, the FRA will determine the final status of the Chicago pre-rule quiet zones.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Preventing your car in Winter Weather

Winterize your car, maintain a full tank of gas, and keep moisture out of the tank. Keep an emergency kit in your car to help you stay warm, visible, and alive if trapped.

You can avoid many dangerous winter travel problems by planning ahead. Have maintenance service on your vehicle as often as the manufacturer recommends. In addition, every fall:
  • Have the radiator system serviced, or check the antifreeze level yourself with an antifreeze tester. Add antifreeze, as needed.
  • Replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
  • Replace any worn tires, and check the air pressure in the tires.

During winter, keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

The new technology of door of cars

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How to Dispose of Automotive Batteries?

Automotive batteries may only be disposed of by delivery to: a) a retailer, distributor, collector, or recycler of automotive batteries, or b) the Special Waste Disposal Site, which is located on Staten Island at the Fresh Kills Complex on Muldoon Avenue. Automotive batteries may not be disposed of in the municipal solid waste system. Automotive battery retailers are required by State law to accept up to two batteries per month per person for free. There is a $5 surcharge added to the purchase price of all new auto batteries. If an auto battery is returned at the time a new battery is purchased or within 30 days after purchasing a new battery, the $5 surcharge will be waived or refunded.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Restructured GM to Build a New Small Car in the United States

Photo of the Hummer H2, a large, rugged, boxy utility vehicle
General Motors Corporation (GM) declared bankruptcy on June 1, and as part of the company's restructuring, it plans to revive one of its idled U.S. factories for the production of a future small car. The new small car will add to a group of small and fuel-efficient vehicles that the company is planning to roll out in the near future, including the Chevrolet Cruze and GM's plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Chevy Volt. The retooled plant will be capable of building 160,000 cars annually, including both small and compact vehicles, but GM has not yet decided which of its manufacturing plants will be retooled.

The plans for reviving the plant were among the few positive outcomes included in the restructuring announcement, as the company plans to close assembly plants in Wilmington, Delaware, and Pontiac, Michigan, by the end of this year, while idling assembly plants in Orion, Michigan, and Spring Hill, Tennessee (the closure of two other manufacturing plants in Michigan and New York was previously announced). GM will also close three parts distribution centers, located in Florida, Massachusetts, and Ohio, by the end of this year. By the end of 2010, GM plans to close six additional manufacturing plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia, and idle a stamping plant in Pontiac, Michigan, while a stamping plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, will be closed in late 2011.

GM will also focus primarily on its four core brands—Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC—while selling, discontinuing, or scaling back its other brands. On June 2, GM announced plans to sell its Hummer brand of premium off-road vehicles to a Chinese company, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co., Ltd. The Sichuan-based company intends to expand the Hummer dealer network worldwide, particularly into China. The Hummer H2 led the 2009 list of "meanest vehicles for the environment," which is part of the annual "Green Book" produced by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

The White House characterized the GM restructuring as a shift toward a new leaner, greener GM, which will aim to break even with annual sales of 10 million cars. GM previously had to sell more than 16 million vehicles per year to break even. President Obama declared that the restructuring "will mark the end of an old GM, and the beginning of a new GM; a new GM that can produce the high-quality, safe, and fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow; that can lead America towards an energy independent future; and that is once more a symbol of America's success."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009