What to do when you get a flat tire

Flat tires suck and are often unpredictable and unavoidable.

Sure you can take all the precautions that you want like buying expensive new tires to handle all kinds of weather conditions. But if you run over something sharp while going 70 on a highway you’ll probably going to have to pull over.

Hopefully you’ll never run into this issue, but if you do, changing a flat isn’t that hard as long as you have the necessary tools, a spare tire and this step-by-step guide on what to do.

Steps:

1. Pull over somewhere safe:

You’re going to need a level and solid surface to make sure your car doesn’t start rolling while you’re changing your tire. If you’re near a road, park as far away from traffic as possible and turn on your hazard lights (emergency flashers) to warn other drivers. Avoid hills and soft ground at all cost since you should never change a tire on an incline.

We reached out to Robert Sinclair, Manager, Media Relations at AAA New York, to find out what people should do if a driver can’t get over to the side of the road while on a highway.

“If a driver gets a flat on the highway and there’s no safe place to pull over, they should pull to the right lane, turn on their four-way flashers and drive on the flat tire until they reach a safe place,” said Sinclair to AutoWorldNews. “It’s true the tire will be ruined, and there may be some damage to the wheel and, perhaps, some other components. But, that’s better than being dead!”

“Being in or around a broken down car in the midst of fast moving highway traffic is a formula for disaster,” he added. “The number one cause of death for a law enforcement officer is a traffic mishap by the side of the road, far more than shootings or stabbings. Tires and even vehicles can be replaced. A life cannot.”

Get the rest of the steps here.

10 Green Cars to Look Out for this Year

Next Green Car has identified the greenest, most innovative cars that are expected to launch in 2015.

This year will see the strengthening of the electric vehicles (EVs) market, both pure electric and plug-in hybrids. With over 17,000 EVs already on UK roads, Next Green Car forecasts almost 40,000 will be in use by the end of the year.

New low emission petrol and diesel models will also be launched in 2015 with a shift to petrol cars reflecting the increasing concern about air quality. While diesel vehicles can offer lower CO2 emissions, petrol units provide lower NOx and particulates which are associated with poor respiratory health in urban areas. Look out for fuel-frugal petrol two- and three-cylinder turbo engines which can now offer the driving performance of larger engines.

As noted by Dr Ben Lane, Managing Editor of Next Green Car: “2015 will see a continuing roll out of battery electric and plug-in hybrid models as UK motorists become more accustomed to electric drive-trains. This year will be the year when EVs start to considered as ‘normal’.

“If an electric car isn’t right for your driving requirements, an ever increasing choice of sub-100 gCO2/km petrol and diesel models will become available with zero car tax and high MPG. You will need to choose a conventional model wisely, however, as the official MPG figures of some brands are increasingly at odds with the real-world fuel economy data.”

To mark a year which will bring high quality, high-tech, low emission models to UK showrooms, the following ‘Top 10’ list highlights some of the most important models due for launch and delivery in 2015.

See the list here.

China Extends Green Vehicle Subsidies to Fight Pollution

China’s green vehicle incentive plan that was set to expire at the end of 2015 has been extended to 202o.

The policy represents China’s latest effort to fight severe pollution and snarling traffic and is a boon to firms such as BYD Co., the country’s biggest maker of electric vehicles.

Subsidies will be granted to buyers of EV, highly electrified plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, with the amount of subsidies gradually scaled down during the period from 2016 to 2020, according to the draft rules posted on the Ministry of Finance’s website.

China has rolled out a series of policies to encourage sales of green vehicles, hoping the industry can help China fight pollution and reduce the country’s reliance on imported oil.

Production of such vehicles in China has jumped five-fold during the first 11 months of this year compared with 2013, but the industry still far lags Beijing’s goal of putting 5 million new-energy vehicles on Chinese roads by 2020.

Read the full story here.

10 Cool Green Cars

Green cars are not typically known for their cool factors, but there are some that are actually pretty stylish.

Mix pious intentions with dreary mechanical bits and then stir in some driving misery, and the result is a “green car.” Green not in the color of its paint, but in the environmental virtue of its engineering and marketing. Green as in economical with fuel but stingy on fun, great with emissions but lousy to pilot. Green cars are hybrids, diesels, and electric cars stripped to the point of making a rotted ox cart seem luxurious. Except that was then—you know, like, three years ago—and this is the green car now.

The first- and second-generation greens sacrificed enjoyment on the altar of efficiency. But we’re into the third generation, and the technologies that have defined the greenies are being leveraged to produce better-driving cars—and even exciting ones. Some of the best cars in the world right now are bright green.

So with optimism beating in C/D‘s stainless-steel heart, here are 10 current production cars (arranged alphabetically) that mix all sorts of politically correct goodness with solid driving excitement. But wait, there’s more: We’ve also included two more cars from the 1980s that were ahead of their time. None of these green cars suck.

Audi A3 TDI Diesel
The sweet-driving A3—it beat both BMW and Benz in its first comparison test—begat the excellent S3 performance sedan. All A3s are based on the same MQB architecture as the equally good seventh-gen VW Golf. The TDI engine is the same 150-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel used in so many other VW Group products. Plus, the A3 sedan looks adorable. No, we haven’t driven it as of this posting, but there’s no way this car sucks. (It’ll be available here as a five-door hatch next year, too.)

BMW i3
Since BMW introduced its “Neue Klasse” back in 1962, the company has zealously tried to—and largely succeeded—sustain a consistent character across its lineup. A 3-series drove much like a 5er that was a lot like the stately 7. But the new i3 throws all that out and starts over without any assumptions about what a BMW is or should be. The i3 has skinny tires on large diameter wheels, uses a structure made up of carbon fiber and aluminum, and the interior looks as if it were ripped out of a glass house perched over the Pacific at Big Sur. No, it’s not M3 fast, and the twin kidneys slapped on the front are just ironic, but this car is innovative and interesting in the ways all cars should be. All that and it still feels like a BMW at its core.

Read the full story here.

Falling Fuel Prices Have More Consumers Choosing SUVs Over Electric Vehicles

Sales of Toyota’s hybrid Prius have reportedly dropped alongside gas prices, which aligns with findings in a recent Automotive News. The report shows that consumers may have short memories, falling prices at the pump are already cutting into hybrid and plug-in sales, and Americans are starting to buy more trucks and SUVs.

One Toyota dealership general manager told Automotive News that since the price of fuel fell, customers have been more interested in the trucks and SUVs in the showroom than in the brand’s iconic Prius hybrid.

Gas prices are the lowest they’ve been since February 2011, and analysts are forecasting that the drop is more than just the usual autumn fall, instead indicative of a larger trend of lower prices–and more price stability–thanks to better American oil production, lower global demand for oil and cars and trucks that are more fuel-efficient than ever.

Not long ago, hybrid options stickered for more than comparable traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, but now dealers and manufacturers are using incentives to move the metal. According to Automotive News, Kelley Blue Book data shows that Toyota increased incentives on the Prius by almost $1,000 since last year, and Ford did the same by more than $2,200 on the C-Max hybrid.

Read more here.

Report Reveals U.S. State with Most Plug-In Cars

The state of California tops the charts for most plug-in cars. More than 100,000 rechargeable cars have been sold in California over the last four years, representing about 40 percent of the domestic plug-in market.

Sales of hybrid and battery-only cars in the Golden State totaled 102,440 in the period from December 2010 through last month, the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative said today, citing figures from the California Air Resources Board, Hybridcars.com and Baum & Associates. Over the same time frame, about 250,000 rechargeable autos were sold in the U.S., according to industry researcher Baum.

California since the 1970s has pressured automakers to offer vehicles with lower tailpipe emissions to curb smog and poor air quality. From 2009, the state has set tougher new standards requiring cars that emit less carbon pollution under its Zero-Emission Vehicle program, leading to a new generation of plug-in models from General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Tesla Motors Inc.

“Automakers are proving on a daily basis that they can rise to the challenge to meet California’s clean vehicle standards, advance the technology, and provide a wide range of affordable cars,” Mary Nichols, who chairs the California Air Resources Board, said in the statement.

At least 10 percent of rechargeable car sales in California belong to Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla, which was started in 2003 and produces the luxury $71,000 Model S. Sales of the sedan have totaled 10,834 over the 18 months through June 30.

Read the full story here.

Does Driving a Convertible Mean You’re Smarter?

A new study claims that if you drive a convertible you are probably highly educated and making lots of money.  If you do drive a convertible the  chances are good then that you are an affluent baby boomer with at least a bachelor’s degree. Oh, and your ragtop of choice is probably a Ford Mustang – which you park in the driveway of your million-dollar-plus home.

That’s according a recent trends analysis conducted and released Tuesday by Experian Automotive, a data research company located in Schaumburg, Ill. It found that 50 per c

The analysis, profiling buying habits from the first quarter of 2014, revealed that 19 per cent of convertible consumers had an average household income greater than $175,000 (all figures U.S.) and 11.7 per cent owned a home worth more than $1 million. Only 10.7 per cent of average new car buyers had a household income that rich and only 4.4 per cent owned a house that valuable.

Not surprisingly, the top three states for registration of convertibles in the first quarter of the year were in the south: California (13.4 per cent), Florida (9.6 per cent) and Texas (7 per cent).

The Ford Mustang was “the convertible vehicle model of choice across all 50 states,” according to Experian, followed by the Chrysler Sebring, Mazda MX-5, BMW 3-Series and the Chevrolet Corvette.  This is a interesting trend and one that will probably continue.

Read full article here 

From Ketchup to Cars, Ford Innovates

After using coconuts, soy, rice hulls and recycled blue jeans, Ford has found another unexpected material that it can use to make car parts. It’s a byproduct in the production of ketchup.

Ford says it has a deal with H.J. Heinz to use study whether the stuff left over from making ketchup, like dried tomato skins, seeds and stems, can be used to make composites. Sounds crazy? Well, Ford thinks the skins alone could make wiring brackets or center console storage bins. Heinz has a lot of skins. It processes 2 million pounds of tomatoes a year.

The idea is being researched and part of a two year collaboration between Ford and Heinz.

Read the full article here.

Phone Apps to Prevent Distracted Driving

Authorities cited distracted driving as the cause of more than 3,300 deaths nationwide in 2012, the latest year available, and thousands more injuries. Despite media attention and public outcry asking drivers not to text and drive, distracted driving continues to be a major cause of motor accidents.

Surveys show that drivers recognize the danger of distracted driving, and 43 states and the District of Columbia forbid texting while driving, yet large percentages of drivers — including roughly three-quarters of teens and other young drivers — continue to do it anyway. We have not managed to put down our devices long enough to get from point A to point B, even under threat of death or injury

For all of us who know better, but can’t seem to police ourselves nor our driving-age children, a market has emerged for apps and other aids that limit distracted-driving for us.

Cellcontrol, of Baton Rouge, La., is one of a growing number of third-party suppliers of systems that let an administrator, likely a parent, to limit their child’s phone use while the car is in motion. Cellcontrol charges $119 to $129 for its device, which either plugs into the car’s diagnostic computer or adheres to the windshield in the form of a small black transponder.

The device determines when the vehicle is in motion and disables phone functions to the administrator’s preset customized levels, such as enabling only calls to emergency numbers or preventing texting. The device can determine who is driving, so if the driver hands the phone to a passenger, that passenger can access the device’s regular phone and web functions.

Hopefully apps like these can help drivers resist texting and driving when their willpower fails.

Read the full article here.

Cautious Optimism About Increase in Auto Sales

U.S. auto sales picked up steam halfway through March and ended strong with an increase of 6%.  That may not seem like huge growth. But after a 3% decline in January and a flat result in February, any sign of momentum is a good one for the industry.

Coming after many months of strong growth, the sluggish results earlier this year raised a troubling question in many investors’ minds: Was it just the weather keeping buyers away from car dealers, or was the economic tide starting to turn for the worse?

Several automakers made a point of saying on Tuesday that the pace of sales improved significantly in late March — a sign that maybe it really was “just the weather.”  With summer around the corner, we hope to see sales continue to accelerate.

Read the full story here.