Can new car technologies, even those designed to help the driver, be dangerous? Some safety and cognitive science experts think so.

In this age of technology, we’re constantly seeing cool new gadgets and gizmos all across the automotive industry. Some technologies are for convenience and entertainment, while others attempt to actually make the driving experience safer. All have their pros and cons.

One controversial technology is Ford’s SYNC with MyFord Touch voice-controlled/steering-wheel-controlled driver interface, which uses a smartphone-supplied Internet connection to access and control various applications (ranging from entertainment to news to navigation to phone communications). Catch up on news or sports, call a friend, and retweet someone’s happenings while keeping your hands on the wheel.

Ford believes this technology increases driver safety by minimizing some distractions that could take your eyes off of the road (such as tuning the radio or thumbing an entry into your smartphone). However, some experts feel these non-driving activities are inherently dangerous distractions regardless of whether you’re participating with your hands or with your voice.

Earlier this month, the National Insurance Crime Bureau released their analysis of vehicle thefts ranked by holiday, and New Year’s Day was at the top of the list.  Just another reminder that while you may be relaxing and enjoying your holiday, vehicle thieves are working overtime.  Here are some theft-protection tips that hopefully will prevent thieves from receiving a four wheeled holiday gift at your expense.

First, let’s not make it too easy for them.  Lock your vehicle.  By inviting thieves into you unlocked car, you’re just making it so much easier for them to get their job started.

Park in well-illuminated, high foot-traffic areas.  Theft can happen almost anywhere, but it’s not as convenient for someone to steal in highly visible, well-lit places.

When shopping, store your packages covered or (better yet) in the trunk.  Make a habit of putting your packages in the trunk as soon as you get to your car (instead of transferring them to your trunk at your  next stop – where you’re effectively announcing to any onlookers that you’re leaving something potentially valuable in the trunk).  Of course that’s true for any valuables, not just gifts or packages.  Don’t tempt the thieves with visible cash or other goodies.  Be conscious of mail you might have around too (you don’t want to wind up with a stolen identity in addition to your stolen car).

Don’t leave an extra set of keys in the car or in a magnetic container under the car.  Thieves who are good at their job can be pretty good guessers when it comes to finding your clever hiding spots.

Remove your electronics whenever possible.  Take that GPS device or stereo faceplate with you, or at least hide it away.  Be aware of marks on windshields from suction GPS mounts.  If you can see the mark, they can see it, too.  And if they see it, they might be tempted to break in to see if that GPS is waiting for them in the glove box.  And if you do leave the GPS in the car, make sure you don’t program the “home” location to your own address.  Thieves who have enjoyed stealing your vehicle might consider visiting your home for a second helping of your generosity.

Tailgate Party TipsYour tailgate party doesn’t have to break the bank.  Here are five frugal tips for a successful tailgate bash on a budget:

1. Save money by using reusable materials. Instead of disposable plates, utensils and cups, buy items you can reuse.  It’s not only gentler on your wallet but also good for the environment.

2. Buy ahead of time and buy in bulk for better savings. By purchasing in advance, you’ll have time to shop for the best deals and take advantage of coupons and sales.  Buy in quantity for better savings, taking advantage of wholesale clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club for bulk foods and supplies.

Watch as TruckChamp Annie tries to heave herself up into this big ole truck!

Towing MirrorsFactory-installed vehicle side mirrors don’t take into account much of the extra range of vision drivers require while towing large objects such as boats or campers. An easy fix for this safety concern is to replace the original mirrors with those specifically designed for towing. If you’re towing anything, especially if on a regular basis, it’s definitely worth your peace of mind to invest in a good pair of indispensible towing mirrors. But what’s so special about them? Are there specific mirrors for specific towing needs?

Towing mirrors are special because of the way the glass is shaped. According to Wikipedia, in a flat, everyday glass mirror, also known as a plane mirror, objects appear at their true size—an exact replica of the subject being reflected. Towing mirrors, on the other hand, are convex in shape, resulting in a wider field of view. Can’t remember those terms from high school algebra class? Here’s your long-awaited chance to use math in the real world, starting with a simple orange sliced in two. (more…)

Stainless Steel Round Step BarsBenefits of Nerf and Side Bars…

Nerf and step bars are an excellent option for many vehicles, particularly in today’s market where trucks and SUV’s are taller than before and/or are lifted due to the owner’s choice.  At , we offer only the top options in Nerf bars and step bars for any vehicle.  Nerf bars have a number of benefits and features, including:

  • A smooth, safe step in any weather condition
  • A customized look for your vehicle
  • A number of shapes and styles
  • Stainless steel options to maximize rust protection
  • Side protection for your vehicle
  • Work as brush guards for the off-road enthusiast (more…)

You Are too Old to drive – It takes more than four minutes to get out of your car.
– When backing in to a sparking spot, you just back up until you hit something.
– Your bumper sticker endorses Eisenhower.
– Your turn signal has been on since 2003.
– Your turn signal hasn’t been used since 2003.
– By the time you’ve found a parking space you’ve forgotten where you are.
– You use cruise control because your leg fell asleep.

Safe driving in winter snow
Photo Credit: Jabzg on Flickr

Hopefully you are lucky enough to live in the land of palm trees and beaches this winter season. But for the rest of us, winter means cold, snow, ice, and extra care for our vehicles to keep them safe and running properly. Hope these five simple tips help you out!

1. Always leave in plenty of time. Guilty of being the world’s greatest protagonist, I have to force myself, in the winter, to always head out for my destination with time to spare. Driving too fast on icy roads puts you and others at risk. You will need to brake earlier than normal, and start out slow from stop lights. Trust me, revving the engine and letting others watch your tires spinning is not considered a winter sport.

2. Keep your windshield and windows clear of snow. Of course, if you are not running late (see tip #1, above for appropriate preaching on that subject), you will have plenty of time to scrape ice off the windows, and knock snow from the vehicle. We have all seen the driver who is hunched over the steering wheel, trying to see through a 10″ clearing on the windshield. A much-deserved back ache is not the only risk here. Driving safe means having 100% visibility to the road and your surroundings. (more…)

Christmas Wish List

1. Snap Tonneau Cover Starting at $179.99! Keep your truck bed and its cargo safe and protected from the elements with this top-quality, economical cover. Easy to install and remove, allows full bed access.

OOPS- so sorry Facebookers! The link to this tonneau cover will not work from your FB page.  But don’t despair, Santa is patient with cyber-errors.  Simply paste this link in your post and ask your friends to click it instead!

Snap Tonneau/Truck Bed Cover

2. Step/Nerf Bars starting at $127.99! Get a step up and save money with these TruckChamp brand stainless steel step bars. Easy to install, comes with all the necessary hardware. Sold in pairs for drivers and passenger sides, with molded steps pads for your safety at each door. (more…)

Photo credit: omniNate on Flick

Scroll down and see our Nov. 11 & Nov. 19 posts of the top 20 Iconic & Classic Cars. Then look at this next group of 10, ranked 21-30 out of 60.

1932 Ford Roadster

The Ford Model B was a new Ford automobile that began production in 1932, a much-upgraded version of the Model A and the precursor to 1935’s Model 48. The Model Bs came in two versions: one with a four-cylinder engine and one with a V8 flathead. The latter version of the car had the distinction of being the first commercially successful example of a car featuring a V8 engine. (more…)