Tag Archives: Crossover Segment

Planning a Road Trip

At this exact moment, thousands of parents are thinking about hitting the highway for a family road trip this summer. Destination? Anywhere but here. It’s an exciting prospect for kids, but it’s also fraught with difficulties, including sudden back-seat fights and frequent retreats to the iPod Zone.

Kids think road trips are cool, at least in theory. The mere suggestion that the family might be heading out on a week long odyssey usually ignites serious excitement. As soon as the wheels roll, of course, the anticipation instantly morphs into “Are we there yet?” The challenge parents face is to keep the excitement and sense of wonder alive, even on the long, potentially boring stretches.

Here are 12 tips gleaned from my own childhood memories and from conversations with parents, children and grown-up kids with road-tripping pasts.

PLAN AHEAD

Dredge up some family lore. Think of your road trip as a time to share some “family lore.” Every family has its own oral history, and road trips offer lots of together time, making them ideal occasions for storytelling. Dredge up those old favorite songs and games, too. As a child, I was an impatient traveler, and I am sure my folks find it amusing that I now make my living writing about the “magic” of taking road trips, but much of my enthusiasm for the road comes from those early family jaunts. Not only do I love the driving and the scenery, I can also sing dozens of vintage songs, play every car game known to man, and tell all the old stories passed down through generations of my family. I’m sure I whined, “Are we there yet?” often enough to drive my parents nuts, but those aren’t the memories that linger.

Brush up on your history and geology. Another gift you can give your children is a basic appreciation for the history and geology of the areas you travel through. Even if they grumble, squirm and roll their eyes, they’ll listen. I’m not the only one who can attest to the lifelong value of such discussions, including the sense of personal patriotic pride that arises from actually seeing purple mountains majesty, fruited plains and spacious skies. As an adult, I’ve became aware of just how precious this brand of knowledge is, and I now consider those family road trips some of the best education I received during my first 16 years on the planet.

Get low-tech. Which leads me to my next topic: DVD players, iPods and other electronic gadgets Call me a curmudgeon, but if these devices are used too often on a road trip, you might as well stay home. Nothing insulates people from their surroundings better than ear buds and a video screen. Take electronic gear along if you must, but limit its use if you want to create lasting road trip memories.

GET READY!

Hold a family planning session. Get a big map and plenty of highlighter markers, and then talk about the cool places that would appeal to all members of the trip. Gather information about your route from guidebooks and the Web. Discuss the scope of each traveling day, including how much time in the saddle and how much spent sightseeing and hanging out by the pool. Consider making each child responsible for a one day’s stopping places and restaurants. Including everyone in the planning process invests everyone in the trip and helps ensure a fun adventure for all. One of the most important topics to cover in the planning session is how often the kids will be able to rotate into the front seat. Make the right front seat, the “official navigator’s seat” and whoever is sitting there is designated as being “in charge” (at least for a few moments). The real treat is that it is much easier to see from the front seat and gets everyone involved. Of course, very young children should not be in the front seats because of the inherent air-bag dangers.

Make a trip clipboard. I recommend creating a trip clipboard to hold printed directions to the motels where you plan to stay; these are especially handy if you should reach a city after dark. (I use this technique myself on every road trip.) You can also include directions and information about specific sites and restaurants that you’re planning to see.

Check out your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is reliable and ready to go. Of special importance is a check of the tires, coolant and engine oil.

GET SET!

Pack a “Go Kit.” Include bottles of water, a fire extinguisher, beach towels, personal pillows, maps and atlases. And here are some more suggestions.

Pack a “Car Kit” for each child. Choose age-appropriate items including crayons or markers, pads of paper, bandanas, personal travel pillows, games, small toys, a few treats and the first day’s “travel allowance.” Travel allowances allow kids to shop in gift stores and tourist traps without begging for money at every stop. Maps of your route are also good for children old enough to read them. They can trace their progress, learn to navigate and even stop asking “Are we there yet?” quite as often. Put everything in a bag or other container that the child can also use to hold souvenirs, interesting “finds,” and so on; nylon lunch bags or small daypacks work well. Let the children know that they’ll be getting their Car Kits the day you leave home. That will give them one more thing to look forward to, and you won’t have any trouble at all getting them out of bed. You can add to the Car Kits as the trip progresses, giving the kids a little something to look forward to each morning.

Pack electronic devices. Consider a CB radio, portable DVD player, GPS receiver, audio books and inverters. Electronic entertainment devices can be helpful if you’re stuck in a traffic jam or you’ve exhausted all other options. Audio books are a great way to be entertained and yet remain alert and focused on the tasks of driving. Many companies now offer rental GPS units, which are both useful navigational tools and a source of information about road conditions. Portable CB radios with magnetic mounts allow you to be in touch with other drivers on the road and to get accurate weather reports.

Pack good eats. Though the kids may argue this point, it is not necessary to stop at every fast-food joint along the way. In fact, it is possible to get good nutrition on the road. Make sure everyone drinks twice as much water as they might at home. Take a good cooler along and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Prepare road trip snacks and consider packing a road trip picnic.

GO!

Eat and greet. Eat in unusual local restaurants at least sometimes, and make a point of speaking with locals or other travelers.

Keep it fun! Avoid vacationing at the same hectic pace as you live at home. A relaxing pace will be remembered more fondly than an overly ambitious one. Take the advice of a local or get off the highway at an unplanned exit and see what is to be found “around the next bend.” Drive fewer hours and spend more time lounging around the motel pool. By allowing time for serendipity, you will re-capture the wonder of the road trip adventure.

Got toddlers? Roadtrippers who are younger than five years old can sometimes present additional challenges. Consider organizing the traveling day so that you reach the motel after 8:00 pm, when the children are likely to fall asleep more easily. Pool time can be done in the morning. Spend the extra $$ to get as comfortable a car seat as possible. Plan to stop every two hours and let the little guys run, play, and blow off as much energy as possible. For more ideas, MomsMinivan.com has several good tips and suggestions.

As parents, you can design a family road trip that will give both you and your children memories to last a lifetime. Grab those markers and a map and start planning your escape!

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How to get your Vehicle Ready for Summer

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If you live near Windsor Nissan,¬†where the summer months get hot, you’ll want to take a few things into consideration regarding your car, truck or SUV. It’s important to remember that hot weather can be tough on mechanical components. For example, your cooling system has to work harder to keep the engine from overheating, tires have to perform under hotter conditions, and if you have a breakdown, you should be prepared to subsist in hot weather until some form of assistance arrives, or you’re able to repair the vehicle yourself.

While there are many similarities between getting your vehicle ready for summer and getting it ready for winter, a couple of differences do exist. These are covered below in the following numerated subjects and corresponding photos. Let’s take a look.

1. Remove snow tires. While snow tires work great in the winter, they’re not much good in the summer months when there’s no snow on the ground. Plus, you’ll wear them out much faster by using them on dry pavement. It’s a good idea to have two sets of wheels: one mounted with snow tires and one with summer or all-season tires. You can even swap the wheels yourself since you won’t have to go to a tire shop to have one set of tires removed and another set remounted on one set of wheels, which could run $40 to $50 each time you do it.

2. Check the tire pressure. Tire pressure is important at all times. It’s critical to have properly inflated tires, as this assures the best possible contact between the tire and the road. Read your owner’s manual to find the correct tire pressures, and, if necessary, adjust pressures to compensate for the hotter operating conditions — especially if you’re doing lots of high-speed driving on a summer-vacation road trip. Properly inflated tires will also last longer and improve gas mileage.

Because of summertime’s higher temperatures, the air pressure in a warm tire rises. Why? Because air is a gas, and gas expands when it heats up. Keep this in mind if you are checking tire pressures. The given tire pressure specifications are for when the tires are cold, therefore the pressure should be checked when the tires are cold.

Also, an improperly inflated tire can heat excessively, potentially leading to a blow-out on the highway.

3. Change the engine oil and adjust the viscosity grade. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Viscosity refers to the thickness of the oil. For example, maple syrup has a higher viscosity than water. Engine oils are sold with different levels of viscosity, and many of them are also multi-viscous, which means the oil’s thickness can change depending on its temperature. Generally speaking, the warmer the oil is, the thinner it will be. If the oil is too thin, the engine might not get the proper lubrication.

To solve this summertime issue, you can change your vehicle’s engine oil to one that is a little thicker. Even when the thicker oil is cold, it is still not too thick for proper engine lubrication.

Determining what type of oil your car should have during the summer is easy. Simply read your vehicle’s owner’s manual. The manual will list the manufacturer’s oil recommendations for different climates. If you have a dealership or local garage perform the oil change, you can ask the manager what type and viscosity of oil they are putting into your vehicle. Most modern cars have recommended oil grades of 5W-30, 10W-30 or 10W-40 which are all multi-viscous grades.

4. Inspect the belts and hoses. The belts and hoses in modern cars last a long time. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to fail. Before summer begins, have the belts and hoses inspected on your vehicle. And if you’re not sure when they were last replaced, consider having them changed, especially before commencing a long road trip.

5. Inspect the wipers and wiper fluid. Visibility is always important and our experience tells us that summer storms can be quite severe in some parts of the country. The life expectancy of a wiper blade is one year. If your car’s blades are dried out and not making full contact with the windshield, replace them.

Also check and fill your wiper fluid reservoir. A summertime thunderstorm isn’t the best time to run out of wiper fluid or to discover your blades aren’t performing properly.

6. Check the battery. A battery gives little warning before it goes dead. And it’ll likely do so when you least expect it. Hot weather can put additional strain on a battery similar to what is experienced in cold weather. If your vehicle battery is more than three years old, have it tested at a certified automotive repair facility. Also, make sure the posts and connections are free of corrosion. If you’re embarking on a long trip, consider replacing the battery if you don’t know how old it is. These days, batteries are not very expensive, and it’s cheap insurance when you’re out on the open road. We also recommend that you always carry jumper cables, as mentioned below in the emergency kit section.

7. Check coolant/antifreeze mixture. The ideal mixture of coolant and water inside your vehicle’s radiator is 50:50. If the mixture deviates from this norm, then hot-weather performance (and cold) can be compromised.

If you were to put pure water in your vehicle’s radiator, it would boil at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you combine the water with an equal amount of antifreeze, the new mixture boils at a much higher temperature.

You can check the composition of a radiator’s mixture by using an antifreeze tester. You can find these at all auto parts stores, and they are inexpensive and easy to use. If the mixture’s balance is off, adjust it by adding either coolant or water.

8. Carry an emergency kit inside your car. Things you might consider carrying include the following:

  1. A flashlight, flares and a first-aid kit.
  2. Jumper cables.
  3. Extra clothes and gloves.
  4. Paper towels.
  5. Extra washer fluid.
  6. Food and water.
  7. Basic tools like wrenches, a ratchet and sockets, screwdrivers and pliers or Vise-Grips.

9. Things to Consider When Removing a Vehicle from Long-Term Storage

Those of you who live in an area of the country where the winters are tough might store a car on a long-term basis to protect it from the elements. If you do that, you’ll want to think about a few things before pulling the car out of the garage and hitting the road.

If you changed the oil before putting the car away, then you’ll be in good shape when it’s time to start it up after a long winter in storage. Before starting the car, though, check the oil level on the dipstick first. Recheck it once the car has been idling for a few minutes.

If you have relatively easy access to the spark plugs, consider removing them and pouring two to three small drops of oil in the cylinders to prelube the cylinder walls before startup. This isn’t absolutely critical (we know that plug access on some vehicles is very difficult) but would certainly be helpful in prolonging engine life.

In addition to engine oil, check all vital fluid levels. This includes the brake system’s master cylinder, the coolant level, the power-steering fluid and the transmission fluid if the vehicle has an automatic transmission.

Gasoline stabilizer poured into the tank before the long-storage is begun is also a good idea. If this was done, you’ll be in good shape during startup after the term ends. If getting the vehicle started is a problem and you didn’t use any stabilizer, you might need to drain the old fuel and pour in new gas. Replacing the fuel filter might also be a solution to any problems related to getting the vehicle started after long-term storage.

After parking the vehicle for storage, it’s a good idea to disconnect the battery. It’s also a good idea to remove it from the vehicle, too, if you can. Obviously, if you disconnected the battery, you’ll need to reconnect it before starting.

As mentioned earlier, you’ll also want to check tire pressure before hitting the road after long-term storage.

Finally, before moving the vehicle at all, thoroughly check underneath it to determine if there are any leaks that might need attention. Tending to this and the other basic concerns noted above will ensure that you’ll be set to go after your car has been stored for a long period of time.

And as always, Windsor Nissan’s service department is always available to answer any questions you have regarding your vehicle.

2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Recently, Chevrolet announced that the new redesigned Equinox crossover will get an estimated 32 MPG highway which is better than the predicted 30 MPG and will also receive an estimated 22 MPG city which is better than the predicted 21 MPG. Comparable four cylinder vehicles such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav4 and Ford Escape only receive an estimated 19-22 MPG City and 25-28 MPG Highway. The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is scheduled to go on sale in June 2009 and have an MSRP starting at $23,185.

2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Recently, Chevrolet announced that the new redesigned Equinox crossover will get an estimated 32 MPG highway which is better than the predicted 30 MPG and will also receive an estimated 22 MPG city which is better than the predicted 21 MPG. Comparable four cylinder vehicles such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav4 and Ford Escape only receive an estimated 19-22 MPG City and 25-28 MPG Highway. The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is scheduled to go on sale in June 2009 and have an MSRP starting at $23,185.

2009 Chevrolet Traverse

The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse, the ultimate family crossover with seating for eight, is available in three trim levels. The base LS which starts at $28,990, the LT which starts at $31,545 and the LTZ which starts at $39,810. There are also two V6 engine choices, one puts out 281 horsepower and 253 pound feet of torque, as a single exhaust and can be found powering the LS and LT models. The other engine has 288 horsepower and 270 pound feet of torque. Exterior features include a deep set grille with chrome-ringed trim, turn signals integrated in the outside mirrors, a rear spoiler over the liftgate window and a panoramic sunroof. Inside, the Traverse with available navigation system, is at the upper-center position, and seating for seven or eight adults, including two front bucket seats and a 60/40 second row bench seat or two second row captains chair and 60/40 third row bench seat.

2010 Chevrolet Equinox

2010 Chevrolet Equinox

2009 Chevrolet Traverse

The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse has shouldered its way into the competitive world of large SUV/Crossovers. The Traverse is a 7-8 seater with a mix of luxury, performance, technical features, seating flexibility and fuel economy. The Traverse sets out to be better than the rest, and with affordable pricing, a wide range of trim levels, technical sophistication and option features, the Traverse is doing just that. The Traverse comes with either FWD or AWD and in four models. The base LS starts at $29,990, the LT starts at $32,470 and the LTZ starts at $40,700. Power is provided by a 3.6 liter V6 engine with smooth shifting and 6-spped overdrive automatic transmission. It has 281 horsepower and 266 lb ft of torque, which makes the Traverse perform as though it is a V8 but with the fuel economy of a V6.

2009 Chevrolet Traverse

The 2009 Chevrolet Traverse has shouldered its way into the competitive world of large SUV/Crossovers. The Traverse is a 7-8 seater with a mix of luxury, performance, technical features, seating flexibility and fuel economy. The Traverse sets out to be better than the rest, and with affordable pricing, a wide range of trim levels, technical sophistication and option features, the Traverse is doing just that. The Traverse comes with either FWD or AWD and in four models. The base LS starts at $29,990, the LT starts at $32,470 and the LTZ starts at $40,700. Power is provided by a 3.6 liter V6 engine with smooth shifting and 6-spped overdrive automatic transmission. It has 281 horsepower and 266 lb ft of torque, which makes the Traverse perform as though it is a V8 but with the fuel economy of a V6.

Score More at Bob Maguire Chevrolet

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