Driver turnover has been above 90 percent for more than nine consecutive quarters and shows little sign of slowing down. What’s more is that issues related to management and workplace policies and communication have caused 30 percent of drivers to leave their job.

Keeping your drivers safe, recognizing them for doing the right thing, and offering a solid feedback loop are key to increasing driver engagement — and retention.

If the people who drive your products from one place to another do not feel like you have taken extra measures to keep them safe, then they will leave for jobs that do. Where does this leave you?

The more drivers you lose, the more difficult it will become to transport your products. This slows your operations, leading to monetary loss. Even worse, your organization will have a reputation for its low driver retention rate.

Losing drivers also creates a need for new recruits. Unfortunately, the recruitment process is time-consuming and expensive. The cost of onboarding new drivers and getting them up to speed on the company culture and policies may not seem like a lot when it’s just one driver, but as you hire more drivers over time, these costs pile up.

Poor driver safety affects the overall company culture, leading to a decrease in productivity, employee happiness, and the feel of the company. Poor employee morale is a leading cause of high turnover rates in any industry, so incorporating good safety practices into the foundation of your company is important.

Incorporating Driver Safety

Although the current turnover rate is far from positive in most transportation segments, you can break the cycle by incorporating some simple features to make your drivers feel safe, secure and valued.

If you don’t have a safety program in place, you may be thinking that starting one involves constantly monitoring your drivers. You may also be thinking about the time and money involved in monitoring the many drivers in your organization.

For a minute, let’s imagine what that would be like. You would probably have to use a manual video device to record your drivers’ every move, and then have people check hundreds of paid hours of recordings to look for common patterns.

This is expensive, inefficient, and does not make your drivers feel safe; if anything, it accomplishes the opposite. Having someone breathing down their necks to monitor their driving habits takes away a driver’s autonomy and contributes to a feeling of insecurity. Constant monitoring would also cost any company a lot of money, and do nothing to stop turnover.

A better way to ensure driver safety is to find a solution that focuses on keeping your drivers motivated, focused and recognized — while using technology to keep them safe.

Motivation can be accomplished through rewards and other incentives, especially to those with an outstanding driving record after successful completion of numerous routes. Rating systems can be put in place to reward high-performing drivers and find out about the difficulties that lower-performing drivers face. This creates a focal point in any communication between drivers and management.

Continuous communication is necessary for any organization to thrive, and it is no different when it comes to drivers. Ask yourself the following questions:

How easily can your drivers voice complaints relating to their performance and safety?

Is it normal at your company to subconsciously shut drivers down when they voice these complaints?

Are there systems in place to swiftly address these complaints, or do drivers have to follow up several times before anything is done?

These are important factors when creating a working environment in which drivers can safely carry out their jobs. Your company should make it an official policy to provide a direct channel of communication — this will encourage open dialogue and driver improvement.

Driver Safety

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On the technological side of things, one way to boost driver safety is to have a solid performance analytics system in place. Such a system would collect traffic and driving data during each driver’s typical workday.

This can help companies to get a better view of how their drivers operate, what risks they may face, and how the changing road conditions affect their work. Based on this data, you can make informed decisions on how to improve the safety of your drivers.

Drivers also need the right technological tools to perform their jobs. Such tools protect them from “grey area” situations in which other vision-based tools don’t accurately assess or capture the context of things.

As far as safety goes, legacy systems have done the best they can; however, we believe that it is time to set them aside and implement better systems.

The need for driver safety transcends the usual risk mitigation measures that have been employed in the past. Modern challenges call for smart systems that record and process data in real-time. These issues also call for a system that allows you to tackle both the human and technological aspects of driver safety on the same platform.

This offers the chance to save millions of dollars in overhead costs while ensuring that drivers stay safe enough to do their jobs. Driveri, our standout product, offers these benefits and more.

Technology to Keep Drivers Safe

Our goal is simple: “Make bad drivers good, and good drivers outstanding in a supportive, collaborative environment that leads to improved yield in driver recruitment and retention.” More importantly, our goal is to keep drivers and by extension, other road users, safe.

When choosing technology for your fleet, you’ll want to find a platform that combines the potential of artificial intelligence with advanced video technology to collect and analyze critical data points.

The importance of data collection in any transport cycle cannot be overstated. It is essential for the following reasons:

There are many blind spots that drivers may miss on a daily basis. These could be anything from a misunderstood situation to minor performance issues that they only catch subconsciously. The right vision-based safety solution will pick up minute details that may escape the drivers in their work environment.

Relating issues to managers can be difficult for drivers due to different things. Issues can be taken out of context, exaggerated or understated since there is no specific data to work with. When you’re able to see the entire picture, you can form an objective opinion.

Transparent data cancels out any type of bias that may surface. For example, a driver who has made several mistakes in the past may be shut down due to biases even when pointing out a valid issue. The right technology ensures that the data speaks for itself no matter what a driver’s previous record is like.

Data collection also leads to better risk management by helping you pinpoint the issues your fleet is facing.

Here at Netradyne, we want technology to empower drivers to take more control of their safety.

Your drivers must feel protected and valued as an employee. By providing a platform for voicing concerns, and showing that you care about how your drivers fare on the job, you are showing them that the work they do is important. You are also showing how important their safety is to you. This motivates them to keep working for your organization.

When technology shows the full picture of each driver from start to finish, it can serve as a mediator during a conflict. Accusing a driver of being at fault, especially when they can’t prove their innocence, is a huge morale killer. You can avoid this by checking your safety system’s artificial intelligence-backed database to see where errors occurred. This way, allegations can be substantiated with proof and drivers will not feel like they have not been given the benefit of the doubt.

A system like Driveri uses GreenZone — a score that highlights each person’s driving capabilities, allowing you to reward those who perform well and find out where others are lacking. It also sets the foundation for peer mentorship programs in which drivers can be paired with peers to learn new skills. It can also form the basis for rewards systems that make drivers feel more appreciated.

Most importantly, you need technology that keeps drivers safe and protected against any issues, other drivers or accidents that may occur on the road. Letting them know that they have an extra layer of protection is a great way to keep drivers motivated and boost driver retention.

Final Thoughts

The US Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released a set of guidelines to keep employees safe on the road. Among these guidelines is the need to put a good driver safety system in place.

Not only does this keep drivers safe and motivated enough to do their jobs, but it also saves companies millions in damages, training costs, and any other costs incurred. It also has the potential to improve driver retention.

Driveri was created by Netradyne to serve as the type of safety system recommended by the government. Using HD video, artificial intelligence, a solid communication system, and WiFi, it works as an excellent safety companion for any fleet. Want to see what Driveri can do for your fleet? Learn more about the product here.


This article was originally published on netradyne.com

Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

The high frequency of road accidents makes driver safety one of the biggest challenges fleet managers face each day. In the US alone, 6 million car accidents every year happen every year from driving, with more than 40,000 motor vehicle accident-related deaths in 2017.

Several factors come into play when looking at the cause of traffic accidents. It could be the weather, changing road conditions, or the fault of other road users such as another driver or pedestrian.

Apart from the risks posed by accidents to drivers, companies face significant losses when such accidents and traffic violations occur. Road accident claims are among the most expensive, almost double that of other types of workplace injuries — especially if the accident includes fatalities.

Up to 68% of companies recorded recent accidents, according to popular reimbursement platform provider Motus in its 2018 Driver Safety Risk report. These road accidents often lead to millions of dollars in claims and other costs. In 2017 alone, road accidents cost companies over $56 billion.

The stats on individual crashes are just as shocking. A report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) found that vehicle crashes can cost employers between $16,500 and $74,000 for each injured driver.

US collision insurance claims have also risen over the past five years. Although companies plan for accidents through insurance, there is still a significant loss of time, productivity, and money when they occur. Some direct effects of crashes include:

  • Severe injuries
  • Expensive property damage
  • Reduced productivity, slow operations and missed revenue opportunities due to decommissioned vehicles and injured drivers
  • Third-party liability claims that cost a lot of money to settle, depending on the severity of the accident.

In many accidents, one of the drivers is at fault; a significant number of traffic crashes happen because of driving infractions such as drunk and distracted driving. In many cases, these infractions are not easy to detect until they’ve caused accidents.

Common Driving Infractions

Several studies have been conducted to measure the frequency of road accidents caused by different infractions. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has shown insights into the severity of some common driving infractions and their threat to driver safety.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving refers to any behavior that takes a driver’s attention off the road. This could include texting, making a phone call, eating, talking to a passenger and looking off the road, or drowsiness.

Drivers are expected to be alert and fully focused on the road with a forward view. Any deviation from this position could lead to easily avoidable car accidents.

According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving accounts for 16.7 percent of drivers who contributed to road accidents. Accidents caused by distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017.

As the following statistics by the National Safety Council show, texting is the most common distracted driving behaviors. Texting while driving accounts for up to 390,000 injuries and up to 25% of accidents annually. It is also 6 times more likely to lead to accidents than drunk driving, because it takes a driver’s attention off the road for up to 5 seconds.

Eating or drinking while driving is another distracted driving behavior that poses a serious risk to drivers. The NHTSA estimates that eating or drinking at the wheel accounts for up to 6 percent of near-miss crashes annually.

Driving and Texting

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Drowsy Driving

Just like distracted driving, fatigued driving is also common and fleet managers must make it a priority to prevent it.

Drowsy driving due to fatigue, illness, or other conditions led to 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. According to a report by the Center for Disease Control, drivers who are at risk of drowsy driving include those who work long shifts, do not get enough sleep, have untreated sleeping disorders, use medication that causes drowsiness, or are overworked.

Intoxication

Among the most dangerous driving infractions, driving while intoxicated on substances such as alcohol or marijuana accounts for a significant number of accidents each year.

According to research by Australia’s Transport Accident Commission (TAC), alcohol negatively affects a driver’s vision, perception, alertness, and reflexes. This makes it difficult to navigate roads or avoid accidents, presenting a plethora of safety issues that could easily be avoided by staying away from the driver’s seat.

The CDC puts the death toll of alcohol-related driving crashes at 10,497 in 2016 alone. In addition to the risks posed by drunk driving, narcotics were also found to be involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes.

Speeding

Speeding is one of the most common causes of fatal road accidents. A study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) showed that speeding caused 112,580 deaths between 2005 and 2014.

The study also showed that drunk driving and speeding are similar in their likelihood to cause fatal accidents for drivers and other road users. This is why the NTSB recommends more serious charges for speeding. Currently, it carries a lesser charge than driving under the influence of alcohol. Drivers would do well to keep a safe speed to avoid a hefty fine and keep themselves and others out of harm’s way.

Other driving infractions that lead to accidents include angry driving and ignoring stop signs. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 72 percent of crashes occur at stop signs.

Mitigating Driving Risks

Driving risks will always be present in a driver’s transport cycle; however, some of them can be mitigated with preventive measures in place. Since liability claims and damages are suffered by the company, not the driver, the onus lies with employers to ensure that accidents are avoided. Some ways to ensure safe driving include:

Training Drivers to Avoid Risky Driving Behaviors

Risky driving behaviors, such as distracted driving, seem harmless when they do not result in accidents. Since many driving infractions are within the driver’s control, proper training is necessary to prevent them from showing these behaviors. Drivers should be trained to avoid using cell phones, eating, fiddling with the stereo or doing anything else that takes their concentration off the road.

Companies should have policies that highlight the negative effects of these driving infractions, such as accidents which could lead to death, injury, and liability claims. Each driver should be mandated to sign this policy and adhere to it at all times. Rules prohibiting these risky behaviors should be displayed around the workplace to serve as a reminder.

Reducing the Drivers’ Workload

In addition to training, drivers should be given adequate rest periods between shifts to avoid fatigue or drowsy driving. They should also be monitored for signs of intoxication and encouraged to avoid driving when sick.

Many drivers who work long shifts show signs of fatigue with effects similar to those of drunk drivers. These effects include poor vision, perception, judgment, and reflexes. Drowsy drivers may fall asleep while driving and veer off the road or collide with other road users.

Introducing a Driver Rewards System

Another great way to mitigate these risks is to recognize and reward good drivers. A common model is the leaderboard/rating system in which drivers score points for good driving which add up over time.

As drivers amass points, they can rank higher on the leaderboard. You could raise the stakes by encouraging drivers to score a certain number of points to earn a reward. This reward could be a bonus, tuition reimbursement, extra paid time off, or other benefits.

Platforms like Driveri have a GreenZone system that updates a driver’s score in real-time. A system like that could be used to monitor a driver’s rating without any bias.

Correcting Infractions as They Occur

Another way to reduce the occurrence of driving infractions is to correct drivers with penalties. These penalties can range from losing driver points to taking serious disciplinary action. Platforms like Driveri have an app that sends real-time notifications when risky behavior happens so fleets can promptly correct the issue.

Implementing Reliable Driver Safety Technology

The world of driver safety has evolved, leading to the adoption of technological tools that aid drivers and fleets in mitigating risks. Several of these tools combine emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data to provide insights to drivers. Their functions span data collection and analysis, video recording, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and accurate vehicle fault diagnosis.

Advanced automated fleet management systems such as Netradyne’s Driveri act as an all-purpose platform for fleets. In addition to serving as an onboard driving coach, they handle driver rating systems, offer access to road data which can be used to make informed decisions, and monitor drivers for distracted driving behaviors.

Data is essential to every process. The study of past data influences how events occur in the future. In the automotive vehicle industry where a large number of accidents owing to many different factors happen every day, it is important to collect data.

This task is tedious without the use of advanced technology especially due to the number of miles traveled daily and how often road and driving conditions change.

Data analysis is also necessary because it tells you how past data is relevant to future events. Legacy systems that collect data for humans to analyze are slowly giving way to smart systems that analyze data and provide insights in real-time.

Another application of technology in driver safety is driver monitoring. As much as it is possible to train drivers on which behaviors to avoid, there is still a chance that they manifest these behaviors when no authority is around.

This is why driver monitoring is necessary. Constantly monitoring drivers via video cameras may be perceived as invasive and antagonistic. Instead, Driveri monitors signs of distracted driving behaviors such as yawning, head turns and drowsy eye movement to report in real-time. Its artificial intelligence system includes:

  • Internal lens for the detection of distracted or drowsy driving behaviors such as yawning. After detecting such behaviors, the application adjusts a driver’s greenzone score (rating) in real-time. This ensures that managers are aware and can take immediate action.
  • A comprehensive database and data analytics system. The platform has also analyzed over 1 million unique miles of US roads to date and makes this information accessible.
  • A real-time video capture system consisting of forward, side, and interior HD cameras that capture high-quality videos of internal and external road events. Also, fleet managers can access up to 100 hours of video playback for records. This can be used as evidence during legal proceedings in the case of accidents.
  • Access to 4G LTE / WiFi / BT connection within fleets for data transmission, analytics, and communication
  • Location mapping using OBDII and GPS technology
  • Vehicle Speed and Orientation mapping using a 3-Axis Accelerometer and Gyro Sensor
  • A single module installation system.

Final Thoughts

Driving infractions are responsible for a significant number of motor vehicle accidents annually which cost employers millions of dollars in damages. Infractions such as distracted driving, intoxicated driving, speeding, and drowsy driving, account for the most crashes.

Fortunately, these behaviors can be prevented through driver training, the introduction of policies, rewards systems, and the use of technology.

Driver safety technology is necessary for data collection and analytics which helps fleets mitigate the risks associated with accidents. It also serves as a navigation and monitoring system while coaching the driver.

Netradyne’s Driveri uses artificial intelligence and other features like cameras, sensors, and machine learning to achieve these functions. It offers an advanced monitoring system for risky driving behaviors and notifies managers when any such behavior has been detected. Driveri also coordinates all its functions through a simple platform that drivers and managers can use and understand easily.


This article was originally published on Netradyne.com


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

When you think of the very first automobile created, what do you imagine? Cars made out of tree branches with stone wheels, powered by Fred Flintstone’s feet? A quaint little buggy with thin, oversized tires, driven by a man wearing a top hat? What did the very first cars look like, and how have they changed over the years? They’re probably a little different than you’d think!

While some of the very first cars were powered by steam engines, dating back to the 1700s, it was Karl Benz in 1885 who invented the first gas-powered car, which he later received a patent for in 1886. Benz’s first car had three wheels, looked much like an elongated tricycle, and sat two people. Four-wheeled gas-powered cars were later introduced in 1891. The invention of the gas-powered automobile marked the beginning of the evolution.

Vintage Automobile

Image Credits

The first cars didn’t have windshields, doors, turn signals, or even a round steering wheel – a far cry from what we’ve become accustomed to. It can be said that Karl Benz’s first gas-powered car was the major catalyst for the production of automobiles, as many followed in his footsteps, trying to create their own version of a car.

It wasn’t until Henry Ford’s 1906 Model T that automobiles started to resemble what we’re familiar with today. Thanks to Ford’s invention of the assembly line, cars we able to be mass-produced, and became affordable to the general population. And, along with mass production came new features, some of the first being speedometers, seatbelts, windshields, and rear-view mirrors.

Believe it or not, the first turn signals weren’t added to an automobile until Buick did it in 1939 – that’s even after the first car with electric windows and air conditioning! Then cars started to get fancy, with power steering (1951), cruise control (1957), three-point seatbelts (1959), and heated seats (1966).

In 1973, Oldsmobile installed the first passenger airbag into their “Tornado” model. Over 20 years later in 1998, the federal government required all passenger vehicles to come standard with dual frontal airbags.

In the late 80’s and early 90’s, keyless entry systems, electric doors and windows, sunroofs, and CD players began to gain popularity.

Which brings us to modern-day cars, with MP3 players, hard drives, advanced safety systems, GPS, and even the ability to parallel park themselves. Seems crazy, but it’s true. In this age, cars come standard with features that were once a luxury (or didn’t even exist at all). It’s amazing to think how far cars have come…and the technology keeps advancing.

With technology advancing, it’s necessary to keep up with on-road techniques to keep those around you safe at all times. Check out our defensive driving course here.


This article was originally published on idrivesafely.com

Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

HYUNDAI HAS GIVEN THE EVERGREEN ILOAD DELIVERY VAN AND THE IMAX PEOPLE MOVER A NEW LOOK FOR THE 2018 MODEL YEAR.

Commercial vehicles are known for their longevity, and none more so than the Hyundai iLoad and iMax twins which were first displayed to the world at the Seoul Motor Show in April 2007.

Before the show opened I had been part of a New Zealand delegation in Korea visiting Hyundai Motor Company’s Asan plant, and Namyang research and development centre, where we briefly drove a pre-production iLoad turbo diesel auto on the company’s proving ground.

The rear-wheel drive iLoad presented itself as a friendly and comfortable vehicle to drive in 2007 and not a lot has changed in the 11 years since then, which shows that the basic design was pretty sound overall and it has been subjected to very minor tweaks.

The iLoad offers a four-star safety rating, it comes with dual front and side airbags, ABS brakes, and electronic stability control as standard. A differential lock on the rear axle provides more traction when faced with slippery terrain or challenging work sites.

Since Hyundai launched the iLoad here in 2008, there was a change to the powertrains in 2012, a specification update in 2016, and now a long overdue cosmetic makeover in 2018.

The new rectangular front headlamps, larger front radiator grille and redesigned front bumper have given the iLoad a much fresher and more contemporary appearance which can only help to maintain its popularity with fleet buyers.

Hyundai iLoad Dashboard

Inside the cabin there is a new interior trim and upholstery, there’s a new audio system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, and the addition of automatic light control. There is also a decent Bluetooth system should you not have a cable for your Samsung or iPhone to plug into the audio/telephony USB connection port.

IT STILL HAS THE FEATURES AND FUNCTIONS TO SATISFY MOST BUYERS

Interestingly in 2012 the manual version of the iLoad changed from a five-speed manual to a six-speed, but Hyundai changed out the variable geometry turbocharger (VGT) from the 2.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine in favour of a waste gate turbocharger (WGT) unit, resulting in lower power and torque output of 100kW and 343Nm from the previous output of 125 kW and 392Nm.

However the WGT engine has an earlier peak torque figure, arriving from 1500 rpm, and fuel consumption for the manual iLoad is quoted at 8L/100km. The five-speed automatic iLoad as tested retains the higher output VGT engine offering 125kW of power and 441Nm of torque, and fuel consumption of 8.8L/100km is quoted by the factory.

Ironically the lesser-powered manual version of the iLoad has the greater braked towing capacity of 2000kg but the automatic version only offers a braked towing capability of 1500kg.

The iLoad can also be optioned with a three-person bench seat in the rear compartment to turn the vehicle into a crew carrier, or for greater security and safety buyers also have the option of fitting a full-steel bulkhead between the front seat passengers and the cargo area.

Hyundai iLoad Cargo Area

Customers can also choose to take the “blind” option where the van is supplied with solid rear steel panels rather than glazed rear windows, and the tailgate can also be swapped out for twin rear barn doors for those people who regularly load cargo into the van with a forklift.

There are a heap of dealer-fit accessory options, of which two were fitted to the text vehicle being the black front nudge bar and the custom fitted towbar.

In addition, customers can purchase a set of custom carpet mats or rubber mats, a cargo barrier, headlight covers, reversing sensors, window visors, rear bull bar, and a genuine Hyundai triple roof rack system which will carry a load capacity of 125kg evenly distributed across the three bars.

The iLoad has a traditional leaf-spring/live rear axle which allows the manual version to carry a maximum payload up to 1113kg while the automatic can take a payload up to 1098kg. The van’s 2047kg kerb weight (2062kg for the auto) betrays its robust body structure, thick load floor and large sub-frames below.

A 3200mm wheelbase translates into an overall cargo area of 4426 litres or 4.3 cubic metres, and items upton to 2500mm in length will fit into the vehicle.

There’s also 1260mm between the rear wheel housings, so it should cater for most pallet sizes with enough length to carry two onboard if required. It also features sliding doors on both sides for easy loading and unloading.

On the road the iLoad does suffer a little bit from the suspension jitters when unladen, but the rack and pinion hydraulic power steering feels sharp and responsive, and the performance from the 125kW engine is strong and lively and the five-speed automatic changes quickly and smoothly.

Not having a full steel bulkhead between the cabin and the rear compartment as a standard fit also means there is a bit more road noise transmitted into the cabin at motorway speed when the vehicle is devoid of cargo but it’s not enough to cause concern to the health and safety police.

Parking the iLoad is made easier thanks to the standard fit rear camera, and the tight turning circle of 5.6 metres kerb to kerb.

As a tool of trade vehicle the iLoad may be aging but it still has the features and functions to satisfy most buyers and no doubt the 2018 facelift should keep the popular workhorse in good heart for a few more years yet.


This article by Robert Barry was previously published on Autocar.co.nz

Featured Image Credits: Robert Barry

Thinking of repairing your own car? It’s time to do more than think about car repairs. Some DIY can save you money in the long run.

For a good chunk of car owners, the idea of popping the hood and seeing what’s wrong is more intimidating than driving through a small-town speed trap. The biggest concern is a fear of messing up and ruining your car.

Most cars, though, are pretty sturdy. You might tinker with something and need a professional to fix it, but your vehicle isn’t going to explode because you made a minor mistake while changing the oil.

Pay special attention if you’re working near your car’s gas line, since that could cause an explosion in certain circumstances. Otherwise, do your best and try to have a little fun with DIY car repairs.

Car Repairs

Image Credits: Pixabay

Read on for 10 car repairs you can do at home.

1. CHANGE A FLAT TIRE

This is one of the most basic repairs imaginable. It’s something every teenager should master when they first learn about cars. If that wasn’t part of your driver’s ed curriculum, it’s not too late to figure it out.

You’ll need a jack, lug wrench, and an inflated spare tire. Keep all those things in your car, since flat tires have poor manners and often strike when you’re out on the road. A flashlight is also a good idea unless you’re OK changing a tire at night with nothing more than your smartphone’s built-in flashlight.

You can find detailed instructors in one of two places: your car’s manual, or the Internet. Whichever source you use, make sure to apply the parking brake before you start. That will keep your car from rolling away mid-tire change.

2. CHANGE YOUR OIL

Don’t pay $50 (or more) at the quick change down the street. It might be convenient, but three or four of those changes a year can add up fast even if the employees there don’t try to upsell you on other services.

It’s a messy job, so be ready to hit the showers once you’re done. Grab an oil pan, funnel, ratchet, and oil filter wrench. Make sure you can capably use a car jack, too, since you’ll need to jack up your car and slide underneath it to change the oil.

Before you start, make sure there’s a place nearby to recycle your car’s old oil. Used motor oil has to be handled and disposed of a certain way, so you can’t just throw it in the garbage.

3. SWAP OUT THE BATTERY

This is a useful skill because every auto parts store will sell you a new battery to replace your dead one, but not every store will also agree to install it for you.

While you’re at it, consider cleaning your car battery terminals, since the sulfate that build-ups is capable of corroding the battery.

A simple baking soda and water solution will work to clean the terminals, but make sure you buy a cheap battery terminal brush from a local auto parts store with a reliable supply chain.

4. REPLACE THE WINDSHIELD WIPERS

If a rainstorm is coming and your windshield wipers aren’t up to snuff, you can do it yourself in 15 or 20 minutes. The only tools you need are your hands.

The key is to look for a tab when you’re removing the old wipers. You can press the tab to free the wipers, and if you get lost at any point in the process, there should be instructions on the package that came with your new wipers.

5. CHANGE YOUR TAIL LIGHT

Bring your burnt out tail light to the auto parts store so an employee can help you find a replacement. Once that’s done, all you need to do is go home and grab a screwdriver, plus maybe a pair of gloves.

Some car brands are known for tail lights that seem to burn out quickly, but luckily, you don’t have to know much about how to fix a car to take care of it.

Use a screwdriver to unscrew the tail light housing, you’ll need to either gently pull out the tail light housing or take off the outer cover. After that, remove the bulb holder, take out the old bulb, and replace it with a fresh one.

6. FLUSH THE RADIATOR

The guys down at your local oil change facility have likely offered to flush your radiator for you … for $100 or so. Tell them “Thanks, but no thanks” and do it yourself for one-fourth the price.

Some car models require an annual flush, while others can get by with a flush every other year. Check your car’s manual if you aren’t sure what your car needs.

When you’re done, make sure you take the old coolant to an approved facility for disposal. A little coolant can easily kill your dog or cat, and they’ll drink it because it tastes sweet.

7. MOUNT A NEW REARVIEW MIRROR

Rearview mirrors last a while, but older ones are more prone to loosening and even falling off if you hit a big bump or pull too hard on the work ID that you hang on your mirror.

These sort of DIY car repairs are especially simple: Go to the auto parts store and buy a rear-view mirror that comes with an installation kit. Then follow the directions.

8. CHANGE THE AIR FILTER

An air filter seems more complicated than it really is. Once you pop the car’s hood, all you need to do is find the filter, and you can look up your owner’s manual if it’s hiding.

Once you’ve located it, pop open the filter casing, make a note of how the old one fit, and then replace old with new.

9. CHANGE THE BRAKE PADS

Brake pads should be replaced every 60,000 kilometres or so, although you’ll need to do it sooner if you live in an area with lots of traffic jams.

For this, you’ll have to do things like jack up your car, break the wheel lugs, and remove brake calipers. If any of that sounds like too much, get a friend who knows about cars to assist you.

10. GET NEW SPARK PLUGS

Failing spark plugs drag down your gas mileage and may even make it hard for you to start your car. If you buy a spark plug wrench, you can tackle the spark plugs yourself.

It’s not one of those repairs you’ll have to do every month or two, though. In fact, spark plugs can last as long as 160,000 kilometres.

DIY CAR REPAIR: KNOW WHEN TO GET HELP

Car repairs are a great way to stretch your comfort zone, but don’t stretch it too far. If you feel unsafe or even just really confused, stop what you’re doing and call a professional.

Speaking of professionals: Auto Chain has what it takes to help both buyers and suppliers find quality auto parts.

We believe locating DIY car repair parts should be a smooth, efficient process, so contact us today to find out what we can do for you.


This article was previously published on Autochain.co.nz

Featured Image Credits: Imgur


Learn More About Car Repair

 

 

This article by Jim Saker was previously published on theconversation.com

Britain’s car industry has faced a barrage of bad news in 2019. Honda is the latest casualty, announcing it will close its Swindon car plant, which employs 3,500 people, in 2021. It follows notice from Nissan that it is withdrawing investment from its Sunderland plant and the announcement of job cuts by Jaguar Land Rover and Ford.

There are lots of reasons for this retrenchment. Globally, there has been a stall in car sales combined with a glut in production. Then there’s the turn against diesel – once seen as a climate-friendly alternative to petrol. The VW emissions scandal has seen sales of diesel cars plummet.

So there are clearly bigger, longer-term trends at play than Brexit. But, for the UK car industry specifically, there are no positives in Britain leaving the EU. What’s more, the government’s handling of Brexit is making it easy for global car manufacturers to decide to leave the UK.

Honda Swinden Plant

Honda’s Swindon plant. Ben Birchall/PA Wire/PA Images

How did we get here?

Japanese cars first came to Britain in the 1970s when demand started to surge. With the domestic car industry unable to increase production and meet this demand, Datsuns (now owned by Nissan) became popular – not least because of their superior build quality.

Japanese car makers went on to establish a position in the market in the UK and across Europe and opened purpose-built plants in the UK, which became some of the most efficient in the world. When Margaret Thatcher was prime minister in the 1980s she promoted Britain as a gateway to Europe. Honda set up shop in Swindon and Nissan in Sunderland to avoid the 10% tariff on car imports from outside the single market.

Honda’s announcement that it is closing its highly efficient Swindon plant is a fascinating, albeit sad, example of how companies and politicians attempt to rationalise their decision making. Honda has come out and said that Brexit was not the cause of the decision to close the plant in 2022. This has been jumped on by Brexiters attempting to either justify their position on leaving the EU or distance themselves from the ongoing negotiations taking place over the terms of Britain’s exit. But it’s incredibly hard not to see this decision, at this time, as a consequence of Brexit.

Justin Tomlinson

With Theresa May refusing to rule out a no-deal Brexit, it is incredibly difficult not to see it as a major factor pushing Honda to this conclusion. Honda is intent on developing its electric car range and is currently faced with the decision of where to do it. Why not do so at its existing factory? Swindon is based on the M4 corridor, which includes the towns of Reading and Bracknell, an area often described as Briton’s Silicon Valley – so the technology infrastructure would undoubtedly be available.

But a UK outside of the EU is not an attractive option for future investment, especially as Japan now has its own trade deal with the EU, which includes the phasing out of tariffs on cars over the next eight years. This is a benefit that will not include the UK if there’s a hard Brexit, which is still a possibility. So this uncertainty over the Brexit negotiations makes Honda’s decision totally logical.


Read more: UK’s post-Brexit trade with Japan in jeopardy while uncertainty persists


It is also why Japan’s politicians have pressed for a soft Brexit ever since the referendum result. This has been increasingly vocal as the Brexit date approaches. Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, has told Theresa May that the “whole world” wants to avoid a no-deal Brexit in January.

As well as Honda and Nissan, Toyota is the third big Japanese car maker with UK operations. It has not made any Brexit-related announcements yet and this could be linked to the fact that it has concentrated on hybrid technology since launching the Prius in 2000. This means it has been more immune from shifts in environmental thinking and has just launched production of the new Corolla at its Burnaston plant in Derbyshire. Toyota has said that decisions are not being made beyond the next five to six years.

So despite attempts to downplay Brexit as the reason for the break up of motor manufacturing in the UK, there is ample evidence that Brexit – and the uncertainty that dogs the UK’s future relations with Europe – is the last straw. Car makers across the world face myriad challenges to stay profitable; they don’t need Brexit to add to their troubles.


This article by Jim Saker was previously published on theconversation.com

About the Author:

Professor Jim Saker is the Director of the Centre for Automotive Management and a long-standing Professor of Retail Management with a close working relationship with the automotive sector.

He has been involved with the automotive industry for more than 20 years and was a co-founder of the MIRA Business Unit in 1992. He is often found in the Automotive Industry Power 100, a listing of the top most influential people in the sector, and he is a member of the UK Government’s Leadership and Management Panel. He has been elected as a Life Fellow of the Institute of the Motor Industry for his contribution to motor industry education.

Professor Saker’s research interests lie in the area of channel power relationships and strategic developments in the motor industry.


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

Tips and Advice so You Can Depend on Your Car

A car is an expensive investment, so knowing how to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape can save you tons of money. Overall, the cost of owning a car is a lot higher than many might think – there is the cost of car insurance, taxes, interest on the car loan, repairs, fuel costs, and the cost of the vehicle itself. By implementing all or some of these car care tips, you can begin to save a significant amount of time and money.

Just a little time spent on research can save you future repairs and tons of money. You don’t need to be mechanically savvy to detect common vehicle problems. You just need to be able to use your sense of smell and sight.

Take a Look Around

Are there stains under your vehicle? Do you see drips? They may not be a problem but if you see wet spots, it can be a symptom of something far more serious. What color is the liquid you are seeing? Is it blue, orange, yellowish green? Then it could indicate a radiator leak, damage from an overheated engine, or a water pump that needs repairs. Leaks such as these should be addressed quickly.

Black oily fluid or dark brown could indicate an oil leak on the engine. A bad gasket or seal can cause this type of leak. These types of repairs can quickly run into a lot of money so it’s a good idea to take your vehicle to a mechanic you trust.

A red oily spot could indicate power steering fluid leak or transmission leak. Sometimes you will see clear liquid, which is usually just condensation and nothing to worry about. If you see light smoke coming from your wheel while you are driving it could mean you have a brake that’s stuck and you should pull over. Any type of smoke means you need to see a mechanic regarding a vehicle repair.

Put Your Nose to Work

Don’t be afraid to sniff around and see if you can detect a problem with your vehicle. If you smell burned toast it may be burning insulation or an electrical short. Don’t risk driving it. If you have a rotten egg smell it’s likely the catalytic converter and it will need to be repaired.

A thick sharp odor is often a symptom of burning oil. Have a look under the car to see if you can spot a leak. You may also see a bluish smoke coming from your vehicles tailpipe – you need to have this looked at as soon as possible.

If you smell gas after your vehicle fails to start the engine may have become flooded. Wait a few minutes and try again. If you continue to notice a gas odor you may have a leak somewhere in your fuel system, which can be dangerous, so have your vehicle taken to a mechanic as soon as possible.

These simple tips will help to alert you of a potential problem with your vehicle that should be addressed.

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How to Properly Check Your Fluids

Part of keeping your vehicle in tiptop shape is to make sure you regularly check your fluid levels. In fact, monitoring of these levels is vital to the health of your car. It’s a great idea to read your owner’s manual. There should be diagrams of the engine there that will show you where to check all the important fluids. It’s a great way to get an idea of where the vital fluids can be found. You can also use the internet to pull up a similar picture that can help you.

Engine Oil

1. You’ll find towards the front of the engine a cap marked “Oil.” Check your oil with the engine off. Remove the dipstick
2. Wipe the oil off with a rag
3. Put the dipstick back in
4. Pull it out and get your reading
5. There will be two marks on the dipstick – minimum and maximum – anything in-between means your oils good. Below the minimum and you need to add oil. In older vehicles it’s a good idea to check your oil every couple of weeks. In newer vehicles check monthly.

Transmission Oil

If you have an automatic transmission you will find a dipstick to check your fluid level. It’s usually found towards the back of the engine. There are different methods for checking transmission fluids, which can be found in the owner’s manual. For most vehicles they have to be running and the transmission needs to be in neutral or park. To get a true reading the transmission should be warmed up so take it for a short drive to bring it up to operating temperature. Checking the level follows the same steps as with checking the oil. Check annually.

Engine Coolant

You should never open the radiator cap when the engine is hot. You can be splashed by the hot coolant and suffer serious burns. The majority of cars have an overflow bottler with visible level markings. You should make sure your coolant is between these markings.

Power Steering Fluid

Your car uses oil to assist with the power steering. This fluid should be checked regularly. Often it is checked at the pump but sometimes the reservoir is separate and away from the pump.

Brake Fluid

Most of the newer cars allow you to check the brake fluid levels without ever having to remove the master cylinder cap. There marking on the side of the reservoir identifying the different levels. When you are removing the cover be careful none spills on the paint as it lifts paint quickly.

Windshield Washer Fluid

You’ll see the jug that contains the blue liquid that’s magical for keeping your windshield clean. Most of the reservoirs are visibly marked. However, in some of the newer vehicles the reservoir is buried making it hard to see. Just pull the top off and start filling – you can’t hurt anything if you it overfills. A funnel can make it much easier to fill your washer fluid and other fluids as well.

image credits: pixabay

6 Summer Car Care Tips That are Essential

Before you jump in the car and head out on that summer voyage it’s a good idea to make sure your vehicle is in ready to go condition. After all, there’s nothing worse than sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck when what you wanted to do was enjoy a day at the beach.

1. Check Your Fluids – Run your car for a few minutes and then check the oil. It should be in the ok range and it should also be clean on your dipstick. Oil changes are recommended at different intervals ranging from 3,000 miles to 7,500 miles. Check your owner’s manual for the recommendations for your vehicle. If the dipstick is at the add mark, you need to add oil. Regardless of mileage if your oil is dirty you should consider an oil change.

2. Check Your Windshield Wiper Blades – Good wiper blades will be a real benefit during summer rainstorms and thunderstorms, which can occur without much notice. Winter conditions tend to cause blades to become hard and inefficient. Check all your fluid levels including, wiper fluid to make sure everything is topped up before you leave.

3. Know Your Tires – You should know the proper inflation for your tires. You can find this in your vehicle documentation, tire documentation, or on the sidewall of the tire. Then grab your tire pressure gauge and check their inflation. The heat of summer will increase your tire pressure so it’s a good idea to test before you drive far. Remember to include your spare in your tire check.
If you are driving with tires that are underinflated you a blowout, while an overinflated tire puts you at risk of hydroplaning in rainy weather. Properly inflated tires will increase your fuel efficiency by as much as 3% so there’s a real benefit to making sure you check your tires.
While you are at it, take a minute to check the tire tread. Use a penny – stick it in the gaps with the head face down. If you can see the head it’s time for new tires.

4. Visit Your Mechanic – A visit to your mechanic is a good idea before any long trip or for your regular maintenance if you don’t do it yourself. Your car will need regular tune-ups and regular oil and filter changes.

5. Check Belts and Hoses – Check for heavy wear or cracking and replace before they fail.

6. Be Prepared – Always carry an emergency kit with you that includes a first aid kit, jumper cables, air compressors, blankets, and it is also a good idea to carry water and energy bars.

Winter Car Care Tips

image credits: pixabay

8 Winter Car-Care Tips

Winter brings along a whole new list of concerns for your automobile. The severity of winter depends on where you live. While newer cars require less intervention from us humans, they still need to be prepared for winter. By implementing all or some of these car care tips you can begin to save a significant amount of money.

1. Watch Your Tire Pressure – Watch your tire pressure, which will drop when the temperature drops. When you keep your tires properly inflated your will get better fuel economy, and it will also help against flat tires.

2. Keep Your Fuel Tank Above One-Quarter – On older vehicles, this was done to ensure the fuel lines did not freeze. While it doesn’t happen as often with new vehicles it can still happen so why not ensure it doesn’t. In addition, during winter driving it’s a good idea to be prepared in case you become stranded.

3. Check Your Fluids – Some of your vehicle’s fluids are affected by winter conditions. Take a few minutes to inspect your vehicle’s cooling system, and every year you should do a coolant flush. Cooling system failure is the main reason for engine related breakdown, which can lead to repairs costing thousands. You’ll need to add antifreeze at a ratio of 50/50 antifreeze/water. You should invest in an antifreeze ball tester so that you can check your ratios throughout the winter season and add antifreeze whenever necessary. Make sure your windshield washer fluid is topped up with winter fluid.

4. Check Your Battery – Older batteries can have trouble during the winter months with the cold. Make sure your terminal posts do not have any corrosion, because when the posts are corroded it can make it harder for the battery to start the car. When there’s extremely cold weather the life expectancy of the battery can be shortened. Finally, make sure you always have jumper cables, just in case your battery goes dead.

5. Do an Oil Change – Even if your vehicle isn’t quite due for an oil change, now’s a good time to do an oil change. With older vehicles lighter weight oil can be used to keep your vehicle’s parts better lubricated during the winter. Newer cars use lighter weight oil year-round.

6. Change your Windshield Wiper Blades – Changing your wiper blades at the start of the winter season will ensure they are new. Winter wiper blades do a better job of pushing the slush off your windshield and scraping away the ice.

7. Put Snow Tires On – Winter driving conditions mean you want to have good traction. Depending on where you live and what you drive snow tires are often a good investment. In some areas where snowfall is minimal you can away with a solid all season radial tire.

8. Carry an Emergency Kit – Your emergency kit should include cold weather gear such as hats and gloves, jumper cables, flares, flashlight, and basic tools

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