Behind the Wheel

How Do I Know When My Car Is Out of Alignment?

February 14, 2020
Potholes: The unavoidable bane of every driver’s existence. Hitting even the smallest little divots in the road can pop a tire, damage your suspension and throw your alignment out of whack. And once your vehicle’s wheels get misaligned, a whole slew of new problems will begin to arise.

However, wheel alignment problems don’t always rear their ugly heads the moment you run through a pothole. In fact, because there are no warning lights to indicate a problem with your alignment, it can take an entire pothole-hitting season before you begin to notice the telltale signs and symptoms. So how can you tell when your car is out of alignment and in need of some professional TLC?
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Car Culture, Car Reviews

Good or Bad Car? What to Look for in Vehicle History Reports

January 23, 2020
Vehicle History Report
If you’ve ever purchased a house, you know how important the initial home inspection is to identify potential problems. Without one, you run the risk of buying real estate’s version of a “lemon.” The same logic applies to used cars and vehicle history reports: Although you can buy a pre-owned vehicle sans a Carfax or AutoCheck report, it’s never in your best interest.

Getting a vehicle history report is one thing, but understanding its contents is another story. Here are some red flags to look out for as you dig up dirt on a used car’s past. Continue Reading…

Best Subscription Boxes for Valentine’s Day

January 21, 2020
Candies and roses are classic Valentine’s Day gifts—but it’s 2020, not 1947! Step outside the box this year by buying your special someone something unique. If you need a gift idea for a man or woman this V-Day, there’s now a wide variety of subscription box services to start the creative ideas flowing. The best part? As Cousin Eddie said of the Jelly of the Month Club in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, “It’s the gift that keeps on givin’ the whole year.”

Let’s look at some of the year’s finest subscription box options so you aren’t left handing your valentine a tired, old “classic” gift on February 14.

Top Subscription Boxes for Men

Men are notoriously difficult to shop for. A subscription box offers a bit of niche-y variety to guarantee he has a few choices. (It’s the spice of life, after all.) Here are a few of my favorite subscription boxes for the man in your life.

Tuner Box

What’s in the box? This automotive subscription box is a great gift idea for any gearhead or car enthusiast. Tuner Box packages include everything from branded clothing and hats to car cleaning products and unique collectibles. Month-to-month boxes cost about $55, and you can choose the best “style,” or box theme, for your Valentine, including “Muscle,” “Euro” and “JDM.” Continue Reading…
Behind the Wheel

Road Salt Damage: Your Car’s Corrosive Nightmare

December 29, 2019
Every winter, our quaint, Midwestern town of Kansas City spends $20 million and employs anywhere from 100 to 200 salt trucks to de-ice the roads. That’s a lot of dough and hard work to ensure we commuters can drive safely. Yet, as necessary as road salt is for drivers’ safety, it’s a certifiable, rust-raving catastrophe for vehicles. Short of becoming a hermit or moving to a warmer area, you can’t avoid road salt—but you can reduce the chances of it damaging your car.

Why does road salt damage vehicles?

It’s all science, really.

Road salt—typically sodium chloride—mixes with ice—solid dihydrogen monoxide—to lower the molecules’ freezing point and melt ice and snow. But as sodium and chlorine ions disengage to do their oxidation jobs, they become food for metals, particularly iron and steel. The addition of free hydrogen molecules, as well as other chemicals, only increases the corrosive effect road salt has on a vehicle’s frame. Continue Reading…
Car fun

51 Hilarious(ly Bad) Car Puns & Dad Jokes

December 17, 2019
There’s no denying the power of a good “dad joke.” They’re gut-wrenchingly awful and otherworldly corny; but, as cringe-worthy as they are, dad jokes have a certain charm that can’t be denied. Here are 51 of my favorite car-related puns and dad jokes to help brighten your day—because who isn’t tired of these 4:57 PM sunsets already? I know I am.

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Auto News, Car Reviews

Top Candidates for “Best Vehicles of 2020”

November 25, 2019
By the time December arrives, most of the industry’s most respected critics hit us with their “best vehicles of the year” lists (what is it about lists that make us so giddy, anyway?). But for now it’s my turn to entice your list-loving eyes. Here are my top nominees to snag their class’s “best of the year” vehicle awards.

Best Cars & Sedans of the Year

Top 3 Compact Car Nominees

  1. Toyota Corolla – Redesigned for 2020, the new Toyota Corolla earns great ratings for fuel economy (31 city/40 hwy), reliability, and standard driver-assist and safety features. It’s one of the most well-rounded vehicles in the pack, and thanks to a base price under $20k, it’s also one of the most affordable small cars in America.
  2. Hyundai Veloster – Perhaps the most unique vehicle on this list, the new Hyundai Veloster, following a full redesign last year, is a pleasure to drive. Its handling is composed, its 201-horsepower turbo-four is powerful, and its cargo space is surprisingly excellent to boot. The 2020 model can also be equipped with a manual transmission. (Hooray!)
  3. Chevrolet Sonic – Featuring agile handling, comfy seats, and plenty of cargo capacity, the 2020 Sonic—which teeters on the “subcompact” and “compact” line—is well worth its $15,420 MSRP. It’s a cozy little commuter that moves around better than you’d expect of a smaller, affordable car.
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Behind the Wheel

7 Best Car Maintenance Reminder Apps for Android & iPhone

November 13, 2019
Here’s the deal: As someone who lives and breathes automotive, I should be caught up on all my car’s maintenance tasks. After all, I realize that getting my vehicle serviced regularly is the best way to keep it on the road. But life, as it turns out, always moves too quickly around the time my next service is due, resulting in a missed service appointment or two. Shame on me, I know.

But that was before I really embraced that phone I keep in my back pocket. With an auto maintenance app, I’ve learned that I can get by with a little help from my AI friends. (Thank the techie gods for smartphones!)

If you’ve been neglecting your vehicle, it’s time to overload it with some TLC. These 7 car maintenance apps for iPhone and Android should help with the “C” part—the “T” and “L” are all on you.


Free myCARFAX app

1. Free myCARFAX

CARFAX’s free car maintenance app alerts users when it’s time for any scheduled maintenance, including oil changes, tire rotations, and routine service. Users can add and track service for up to 8 vehicles by searching their VIN, making it a very simple auto maintenance reminder apps to use. And when it’s time to visit a mechanic or service center, the application can point you toward your car dealer or the closest auto repair shop near you.

Best for: Personal

Price: Free

Download: Android | iPhone

AUTOsist Car & Fleet Maintenance

2. AUTOsist Car & Fleet Maintenance

An amazing app for commercial vehicle fleets, AUTOsist micromanages everything so fleet managers don’t have to worry about downtime, costs, or inefficiencies. Users can manage multiple vehicles—this includes cars, trailers, boats, and any other asset—and receive reminders when service is due. Records are synced to the cloud, too, so service history is always backed up, shareable, and exportable. Its monthly subscription fee is nominal, making it a great choice for businesses. (The free version is a great choice, as well.)

Best for: Business & Fleet Owners

Price: Free-$49.99

Download: Android | iPhone

Digital Glovebox

3. Digital Glovebox

Like most applications, Digital Glovebox provides a paperless service history of multiple vehicles (up to 3). What sets Digital Glovebox apart from other car maintenance apps is its user-first approach. Some apps require users to utilize an in-network auto repair facility in order to track service and maintenance records. Digital Glovebox enables users to create records no matter how or where maintenance was performed. With the program, you can even schedule an appointment at a service center or shop of your choosing, and track service for anything, including machinery and motorcycles.

Best for: Personal

Price: Free

Download: Android | iPhone

Simply Auto by Mobifolio

4. Simply Auto by Mobifolio

Simply Auto: Car Maintenance & Mileage Tracker is a quality app that acts as your vehicle’s know-it-all buddy. The application allows you to manage nearly every aspect of vehicle maintenance. You can set recurring service reminders based date or mileage, attach fuel receipts for business expense reports, and analyze your vehicle’s gas consumption over time. The app, with its cloud-sync feature, also allows users to track multiple vehicles. And when it’s time for resale, these reports can be transferred to new owners.

Best for: Commercial or Fleet

Price: Free – $10

Download: Android | iPhone

motolog Mileage Tracker, Vehicle Log & Fuel Economy

5. motolog Mileage Tracker, Vehicle Log & Fuel Economy

Easily track your fuel and service expenses with motolog’s Mileage Tracker, Vehicle Log & Fuel Economy App. Solely available for Android devices, this vehicle maintenance app not only keeps records of service and fill-ups, but it also features GPS tracking software that can be paired straight through your car’s Bluetooth. Best of all, the GPS software automatically starts and stops when your vehicle does, so you’re always recording accurate data. When service is needed, the Android app notifies you.

Best for: Personal & Business

Price: Free-$0.99

Download: Android

Auto Care 1

6. Auto Care 1

For just $5 a month, you can track and manage as many vehicles as necessary via your iPhone or iPad tablet. Everything’s backed up on Apple’s iCloud, including refueling reports, service history, costs, and fuel economy statistics. Service reminders are provided at customized intervals. It also supports multiple languages and Family Sharing, the latter of which allows up to 6 family members to use the app in its entirety.

Best for: Business & Personal

Price: $4.99

Download: iPhone

Aurum Car Management

7. Aurum Car Management

If you don’t mind a few grammatic errors — we all make missteaks, right? – this free car maintenance reminder app for Android may be your cup o’ tea. The app tracks service and replacement parts, of course, and adds visual cues (car meter indicators) when service is needed. It even informs you of upcoming insurance renewals, registration renewals, and emissions inspections. Its unique software utilizes an algorithm to detect service dates based on your input and the vehicle’s make and model. Or, if you’d prefer a more hands-on approach, you can even add service reminders manually.

Best for: Personal

Price: Free

Download: Android

Other Car Service Reminder Apps

Newer vehicles have advanced systems in place that make vehicle maintenance simpler—and those systems are all accessible via a smartphone app (typically). Take a look at these few examples:
  • NissanConnect® – Available in select Nissan models starting in 2016, NissanConnect provides Scheduled Maintenance Notifications, Maintenance Alerts, and Vehicle Health Reports.
  • Hyundai Blue Link® – Hyundai’s On-Demand Diagnostics and Alerts feature allows you to run a full vehicle diagnostic check-up and schedule service with the tap of a button. Maintenance notifications are delivered by email, as well.
  • myChevrolet – GM’s car maintenance app has a Vehicle Status feature that monitors and tracks everything from oil life to tire pressure. When service is due, easily schedule an appointment through the app.
  • Toyota Owners – Access model-specific info, locate dealer service offers, and keep track of maintenance or parts through the Toyota Owners app.
  • MySubaru – Subscribed users can utilize SUBARU STARLINK® to receive vehicle service notifications in real-time, among other perks.
  Whether you’re too busy to remember oil changes or you feel like keeping a vehicle maintenance log is adult-sized homework, I promise there’s an app that’ll keep you on the straight and narrow. You’ve just got to pop into the app store for a test drive (or ten).

Did I miss your favorite? Hit me up with any other awesome apps that you’ve used to ensure your spare tires stay spare tires. I’m all ears.


Sources & Photos:
Behind the Wheel

11 Things to Do Immediately After a Car Accident

October 25, 2019
You’ve just been in your first automobile accident. Take a deep breath. Don’t panic. Collect yourself. Over 6 million people get through car crashes every year, and you can too. Here are the 11 most important things to do immediately following a car accident or collision:

1. Don’t Leave!

Even if the accident seems minor, don’t flee the scene of the accident. This is illegal, and you could be cited for a misdemeanor hit-and-run even if you weren’t the cause of the crash. This misdemeanor will come with a large fine and potentially even jail time, and if someone has been injured in that accident, you may be charged with a felony.

If you see a car speed away from the scene, go full Sherlock Holmes and mentally jot down the vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number. With any luck, police will investigate and substantiate your claim of a hit-and-run. Continue Reading…
Behind the Wheel

Locked Out? Here’s How to Unlock Your Car with a Smartphone

October 10, 2019
In your rush to make that hot yoga session in time, you grabbed your smartphone but accidentally locked your keys in the car. Now you can see them on the driver’s seat, mocking you. Yep—you’re in quite the pickle.

Hey, don’t beat yourself up, mon ami. Millions of drivers lock themselves out of their cars every year. Heck, I’ve even made that mistake before. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Still, there’s the task of unlocking the car to see to, and it’s certainly not an easy one. Here are some options to unlock the doors so that you can give your car keys a stern talking-to.

Unlock with a Smartphone App

There’s an urban legend going around that you can magically unlock newer cars by calling someone who has your spare key fob. Sorry to burst your bubble, but this doesn’t work. Like, not at all. Remote keyless entry systems operate at a certain frequency, much lower than that of mobile phones, which makes it impossible for a phone to transmit the key fob’s signal to your car. The talented Mythbusters even proved this, and who would dare argue with them?

However, if you’ve got a new-ish vehicle with a remote keyless entry system, you may be able to use a smartphone app to unlock your car. (Thank you, technology!) Here are the most popular car apps to help you on your way. Continue Reading…
Money Matters

How to Get the Best Car Insurance Rates & Discounts

September 23, 2019

All auto insurance companies have competitive rates. However, some companies are catered to low-risk drivers, and others are cheaper for high-risk drivers. Although Sally from Accounting swears by Insurance Company A, you may find that Insurance Company B offers better rates. It’s not because Sally is a terrible person who wants you to pay more for insurance; it may just be that she’s a high-risk driver while you’re a low-risk driver.

To ensure you’re getting the best and cheapest auto insurance policy possible, don’t just rely on Sally’s advice. Instead, do your research and read these people’s anecdotes. Car insurance discounts are in your future—I can feel it.


Take a Defensive Driving Class

“Years ago, I took defensive driving classes at a local police department. The classes ran about 90 minutes each, once per week, for a full month. After completing the course, I received a certificate and faxed it over to my auto insurance agent. That discount knocked about $25 off my monthly premium, and the class was $25.” – Jacob

Check for defensive driving courses in your area here.

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