Experts estimate that over 30 million Americans will hit the road this Memorial Day weekend. If you’re one of those determined drivers, check out our infographic below for a few helpful tips.
Download your own copy of Rules for Road Trips. Feel free to share with friends and family.
Wherever you plan on driving, we wish you safe travels and a fun-filled long weekend.
Editor • DIY’er
This isn’t your average weekend car show. This is SoWo 2013.
“SoWo” is short for Southern Wörthersee, a car show specifically for VAG (Volkswagen Automotive Group) enthusiasts. VAG cars include the following: Volkswagen, Audi, Lamborghini, Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti, SEAT and Skoda, among others. So, if these kinds of cars appeal to you, then this is the show for you. The name of the Georgia car show comes from the Wörthersee Tour in Reifnitz, Austria, an event that draws the largest group of VAG fans in the world who come each year to see the newest innovations. Because the town of Helen, Georgia has the same quaint Bavarian feel as Reifnitz, it is the perfect location for the United States tribute to the VAG car show. The 2013 show just took place on May 17th-19th, with free admission to all activities. This year, a special emphasis was placed on the Volkswagen/Audi vehicles.
Arriving at SoWo 2013
The Helendorf Inn was already roaring with activity as SoWo 2013 kicked off. Car enthusiasts from as far away as Japan traveled to Georgia to show their cars during the three-day festival, which included two vendor areas and an expansive showfield. Registrations for the event sell out quickly, turning the town of Helen in a showfield of its own. The Helendorf parking lot alone featured spectacular examples of creativity and originality.
Cars in the spotlight
Some people simply attend the event, while others register a showfield spot to highlight their vehicles. For the latter group, every night and weekend during the months leading up to the event was spent planning a build and working on their cars. For SoWo, owners try to think of something that hasn’t been done before such as an impossibly low suspension setup, a new vehicle vinyl wrap or an improbable wheel / car combo.
Hotel and cabin reservations are typically made eight months in advance (which means that, if you’re thinking about attending SoWo 2014, then you should start looking for a room over the upcoming summer months). SoWo threads on Internet forums buzz with activity as veteran attendees share stories of the Lowdown Showdown at Bigg Daddy’s or inside tips on getting a free bar glass from Forge Motorsport.
While SoWo is essentially all about cars, it’s the friendships that are made during this spring weekend that attendees remember most. Year after year, new friends and old share meals and drinks, form large convoys for spirited mountain cruises and/or circle chairs in the Helendorf Inn parking lot to just talk.
While 2013 is now behind us, planning for SoWo 2014 is already well under way. Armed with new ideas and fueled with inspiration, enthusiasts have already started their next build, even if it’s only in their heads.
A car show award for placing in the top 50 would be nice. But, for most, the 50 new friends they’ll make is even better. See you there in 2014?
Editor’s Note: If you’re looking to trick out your ride, text “Spring” to 36898 for a hot deal now. Up to 5 messages per month; message & data rates may apply.
In honor of the new Star Trek: Into Darkness flick, check out our blog, as translated in Klingon!
Have a great weekend, and may the force be with you…uh, sorry, wrong film!
Editor • DIY’er
Let it be known among all in the land that Advance Auto Parts will soon source parts for Klingon Cars!
Well, as long as they are made like this one—from good ‘ol cars made in the USA!
Here’s hoping that all Star Trek fans enjoy the premiere this weekend!
Advance interviews Danielle McCormick, co-author of Essential Car Care for Women.
Danielle McCormick may be the least likely person to write a wildly successful book about car care. “I was a typical girly girl,” she said, “and I didn’t know much about cars. I took my driving test, passed it, put gas in my car and then took it to the mechanic every once in a while. I didn’t know how to maintain my car and I didn’t understand the noises my car would make. Neither did my friends.”
When Danielle was hit with an expensive car repair bill and was told that she wasn’t maintaining her vehicle properly, she was shocked. “I didn’t even know how I was supposed to maintain my car! So, I went to the bookstore and asked for a book with pictures and easy language about car maintenance, and I couldn’t find anything.”
This was in 2008, when Danielle still lived in her homeland of Ireland. “I started thinking about my friends, who are all smart girls with their own careers and I realized that we all had horror stories about silly things that had happened, like a flat tire on the way to an important meeting, causing someone to be two hours late.”
So, Danielle decided to write the book she couldn’t find at the bookstores, a “girl’s ownership manual” with step by step pictures with easy to understand instructions. She self published the guide, using “fun pink” as the cover’s color. She did some PR outreach, but also needed to maintain her day job. In Irish tradition, because Danielle considered this an auto manual, she didn’t even put her name on the book’s cover.
Huge demand for author interviews!
People went crazy for this “auto manual” as soon as it came out, all 10,000 copies selling out in five days. “Even though I didn’t live with my parents,” Danielle remembers, “journalists were calling them, trying to track me down, once the word got out who wrote the book. I was all over the news and the book was on top 5 charts. I sure didn’t expect this reaction! The reality is that the time was right for a book like this and it came out shortly before Christmas, and everyone seemed to know someone who could use this book.”
And, what about the men? They tended, according to Danielle, to buy the book online. “The cover was really pink,” she says, “so, if they bought it at a store, they needed to sneak it to the counter.”
Her success quickly spread, as publishers began “banging on my door.” Editions were soon available in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand–and, after Danielle accepted a new job with a start-up company in San Francisco, the possibility of an American version of the book loomed.
“This was a fun opportunity,” Danielle says. “Other people had written something like my book, but the books were light on pictures and heavy on text. It might read, ‘find the jack’ while the reader is thinking ‘what is a jack???’”
One problem: the publishing playing field is more competitive in the United States, as compared to Ireland; there are differences in language, punctuation and the like; and Danielle’s Irish accent might be difficult to understand on interviews.
The solution: an American co-author.
Search for a co-author begins
After reviewing possibilities, the choice was Jamie Little of NASCAR and X Games reporting fame. “Girls like Jamie,” Danielle says, “and men want to date her. She is the nicest person, so professional. Her success is no accident.”
Essential Car Care for Women
In the American version of the book, released earlier in 2013, Jamie added chapters and instructional photos to the book, changing the language to make it more United States-friendly. Tips share how to save money, how to avoid wasting money, how to be smart when you talk to a mechanic, and what to do when something goes wrong. “The tone is not patronizing,” Danielle says. “It’s more like–let’s do this together. The book fits in your glove compartment and is meant to be a fun, easy- to-understand reference manual.”
Watch for the author interview of Jamie Little, coming soon on the DIY Garage Auto Blog.
Editor • DIY’er
In 2012, at community-based vehicle inspections held across the country in April and October, a full 77% of inspected vehicles needed service or parts. The biggest car maintenance issues uncovered were:
- 22% of the cars needed their oil changed
- 20% of the cars had problems with their cooling systems
- 18% of the cars needed brake services
Other issues found included:
- 8% of the vehicles had the “check engine light” on
- 19% of the vehicles needed new air filters
- 14% of the vehicles needed at least one belt changed
- 11% of the vehicles needed maintenance with the battery cables, clamps and/or terminals
- 10% of the batteries in the vehicles were not properly held down
For even more service and parts issues uncovered, see “Three Out of Four Cars Need Service.”
Car Care Council offers plenty of car care tips
To keep your vehicle running well during Car Care Month and throughout the year, the Car Care Council has identified the 10 most important car maintenance priorities. And if you, like a growing number of Americans, want to be more “green” in your driving habits, here are tips to increased green driving, even if you can’t buy a new, more environmentally-friendly car right now. Ready to go even greener? Here are tips on what’s the newest, latest and greatest in green car technology.
With that, we look forward to seeing you on the road this driving season!
Editor’s note: To get service reminders, car care tips, recall alerts, and help in finding the right mechanic, sign up for an Advance Auto Parts account. For info on the best parts and tools for your maintenance and repair projects, visit the Advance Auto Parts store nearest you.
According to the American Petroleum Institute and quoted by the Environmental Protection Agency (AAP), “Recycling just 2 gallons of used oil can generate enough electricity to run the average household for almost 24 hours.”
This recycled oil can be, according to the EPA:
- Redefined into lubricants
- Processed into fuel oils
- Used as raw materials for the refining and petrochemical industries
- Used as scrap feed for steel producers
If you don’t recycle, the oil could end up clogging up sewers and storm drains, taking up unnecessary space in landfills, or seeping into your own back yard. Improperly disposed of motor oil can contaminate soil, groundwater and drinking water. And, in many places, improper disposal is a criminal offense.
Now that the case for recycling has been made clear, what are the best ways to recycle your used motor oil?
How to recycle motor oil
Basically, though, you remove the drain plug beneath your car and then catch the draining oil into a pan that’s strong and big enough to hold it. After your oil has completely drained out, replace the oil filter and re-secure the cap. Then add your new oil.
Once your oil change is complete, take the old oil and pour it into a container that is secure enough to prevent any leaks. It’s important when recycling motor oil to use a container that you won’t mind getting ruined, knowing that it can likely be reused for other oil changes but not much else.
Finally, bring your old oil to a service station, repair facility or quick lube. You can also call your city official to find other places and ways to recycle in your town. And, really, that’s how to recycle motor oil.
The benefits of recycling motor oil
The only downside to recycling motor oils is the time it takes to change your oil at home. However, everything else is a bonus for you and the environment. Benefits of learning how to recycle motor oil properly include keeping chemicals out of natural water supplies like rivers, streams and lakes. It also prevents contamination of local ground water supplies, which equals cleaner drinking water. Taking the time to recycle motor oil also saves energy and is the first step in a process to creating a lubrication oil to produce cost-effective and environmentally friendly power.
Your recycled oil goes into furnaces to heat homes and businesses or to power plants that provide electricity for all. It can also be used for marine fuels and even be “re-born” into new motor oil. Re-refined motor oils are just as safe and effective for your car’s engine as fresh oil, and meets all of the same API specifications.
Editor’s note: Bring your used motor oil to an Advance Auto Parts store for free recycling. (Most locations; see your local Advance store for details.)
There’s never a convenient time to have a broken-down vehicle, and it usually seems to happen right when you need to get somewhere quickly. Fortunately, there are things you can do to hurry along the process of turning “my car won’t start” into “whew . . . my car is back on the road.”
First, call or text a friend with your current location. Whether it’s to push your car out of the way of oncoming traffic or to keep you company as you wait for a tow truck, friends make great road side assistance!
If you can’t handle a certain car-related task such as changing a tire or jumping a battery, your friend may come in handy for this as well. Sometimes that person with greater physical strength (or one who isn’t panicking about car troubles, like you might be) can make a world of difference.
Perhaps your friend belongs to an auto club that has transferable free road side assistance. Or, he or she can give you a ride after your car has been towed away, if that’s the outcome.
If your car has a manual transmission, maybe you can push start.
Here’s another situation where a friend can be helpful because it’s impossible to push start on your own. First, make sure your car’s inability to start up is the result of a faulty starter. When you turn on your engine, you should hear a “clicking” sound. If you hear a revved up sort of roar, then a push start may not work with your car.
If this is an option for you, then put your transmission in second gear before turning on the ignition. Put your foot on the clutch and then ask your friend to push the car, or vice versa, to hopefully get it started.
If none of these help, call a tow truck or perhaps the police.
It may seem like you’re overreacting if you call the police as a result of a dead battery, but you may need to if you’re alone and stranded without a functioning vehicle. A police officer can help get your car out of a dangerous lane of traffic, help you push start your car or offer other types of assistance.
Finally, you can call for a tow truck to take your car to a garage/repair facility. Verify where they are taking your vehicle before they drive off. Some tow yards are not as close as you may think.
What about the pros and cons of hitchhiking?
Some consider hitchhiking to be a viable option when their car won’t start or road side assistance is not available. Here are some thoughts about the pros and cons of hitchhiking.
One pro is that you might get where you need to go. Another is you may meet interesting people on your journey. That’s pretty much it. The rest of hitchhiking history shows plenty of “cons,” including people who have been injured or even killed. There is also no guarantee your drivers will go where they say or that you can protect yourself from being robbed or having your identity stolen once you are in a stranger’s vehicle.
That said, if you are a frequent hitchhiker or find yourself in a situation where you feel you have no other choice, then follow these guidelines.
If you insist on hitchhiking:
- Always carry ID with you, but conceal it well.
- Have your hand on your cell phone at all times in case of emergency.
- Approach people at gas stations or stores rather than sitting on the side of the road.
- Try to select a car with a family or other combination of individuals that appears to be safer than a single person or a more suspicious combination.
Editor’s note: Fixing your car is always a better option than hitchhiking. Count on Advance Auto Parts to all of your DIY needs, and save!