Cars? Mom knows all! Advance Auto Parts Blog

Top 5 Cleaning Products For Both Car And Home

Woman kneeling at the floor cleaning while smilingCleaners do double duty! Our DIY Mom explores the handy dual uses of common car cleaning products.

If you think maintaining your car is time-consuming, let me tell you, it’s nothing compared to keeping your house in order. Between my car, my house and my kids, I’ve got three full-time jobs, and none of them pays a dime! But what if you could use some of your car products to maintain your home, too? There are a lot of dual-use car products out there, and I want to introduce you to a few of them today.

1. Brake Cleaner Brake cleaner has always been an indispensable piece of the home mechanic’s arsenal, allowing you to prolong the life of your brake components by keeping oil, dirt and other contaminants at bay. But did you know that it can also remove tough grease and oil stains from your driveway or garage floor? Think about it: if it’s strong enough to get in there and clean your brakes, a little grease is child’s play. So next time you’ve got an industrial-grade spill to clean up, save yourself the trip to the hardware store and just pull out your brake cleaner instead.

2. Automotive Upholstery Cleaner Have you ever heard of a specific product for cleaning your couch? They’re out there, of course, but chances are you don’t already have a bottle in your cabinet. What you do have, though, if you’re into DIY car maintenance, is automotive upholstery cleaner. And if you think about it, the only difference between cloth automotive upholstery and the stuff on your couch is where it’s located. Here’s another fun trick, by the way, and I speak from experience: automotive upholstery cleaner also works great for carpet stains. Give it a shot before you spend a bundle on renting a carpet cleaner or having a professional stop by.

3. Car Wax I know what you’re thinking: “What could I possibly use car wax for in my house?” This one’s definitely not obvious, but when you think about it, it’ll make a lot of sense. What I want you to do is try applying some car wax to your kitchen and bathroom counters. Why? Because food’s less likely to stick to a waxed surface, for one thing, and also, if you spill anything, the liquid will bead up for easy cleaning. Moreover, with that layer of wax in between your counters and whatever’s on them, the likelihood of staining is greatly reduced.

4. Automotive Glass Cleaner Next time you’re about to buy some Windex or a comparable cleaning product, pause for a moment and ask yourself if you’ve already got some automotive glass cleaner in your garage. If so, guess what — it’s basically Windex for your car. So why not bring it inside and use it on your mirrors, windows and other indoor glass surfaces? In some cases, the automotive formula might even work better, because it’s specially formulated to cut through dried bug residue and all the other nastiness that ends up coating windshields over time.

5. Metal Polish Metal polish is a must-have for car collectors, and even if you just like to keep your car spic and span, it’s a good product to have around. But your car isn’t the only thing in your life that needs its metal polished. Think about all the metal in your house, whether it’s stainless steel surfaces, metal door knobs or handles, door hinges, cabinet knobs, even sink and shower faucets. You can use that automotive metal polish on all of the above, and just like the glass cleaner, it might even do a better job than an actual household product, since cars really need high-strength formulas to deal with all the grit and grime.

It’s time to get busy!

You all know I’m big into DIY, so I would love to hear your ideas. What are some dual-use car/house products that I didn’t mention? Let’s get creative and help each other get the most out of our car products. Happy cleaning!

Editor’s note: as you get ready to buff and polish your prized possessions, count on Advance Auto Parts for the best values in cleaning supplies, tools, accessories and more.

The Top 3 Minivans for Your Family

Phot credit: De Swert Nicolas.

Phot credit: De Swert Nicolas.

As a mom who knows a thing or two about cars, I can only shake my head when I see yet another growing family squeezing into a three-row crossover SUV. There’s a better solution out there, folks, and it’s called the minivan. Whereas those crossovers have conventional rear doors and cumbersome seat-sliding mechanisms for third-row access, minivans have dual sliding doors that make ingress and egress a cinch. Plus, they don’t ride as high, which makes them easier to load — and when you do load them up, you’ll find they can hold nearly twice as much stuff as many crossovers.

I’m telling you, moms across the country need to band together and get a minivan movement going. When it comes to family vehicles, function should be more important than form, am I right ladies? Moms know best, and minivans are undoubtedly the best vehicle type for families who need more than two rows.

Let me tell you about the three best minivans on the market today.

 

2014 Honda Odyssey1. 2014 Honda Odyssey

If you read car reviews, you’ll hear a lot about how the Odyssey has “sporty handling” or something like that. Let’s be honest: no one buys a minivan for the way it handles, whatever that even means. But the Odyssey does have a carlike feel from the driver seat, at least, and that’s no mean feat considering how large it is — the maximum cargo capacity is 148 cubic feet, dwarfing the Ford Explorer’s 80 cubes. The 2014 Honda Odyssey also comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth streaming audio for your phone, and even a rearview camera. And its 248-horsepower V6 is rated at 28 mpg on the highway, making it considerably more fuel-efficient than most V6-powered crossovers.

2014 Toyota Sienna2. 2014 Toyota Sienna

The Sienna is similar to the Odyssey in many ways, but it’s got a trump card that sets it apart: optional all-wheel drive. That’s a pretty big deal, because all-weather capability is something that clinches a lot of sales for crossover SUVs. With the Sienna, you can enjoy a minivan’s superior versatility along with the security of AWD. It’s also got the best engine in the business, a 3.5-liter V6 that can really whisk this van along. If you’re looking for entertainment options, the 2014 Toyota Sienna offers a nifty split-screen monitor that flips down from the ceiling and allows two different inputs (a video game and a DVD, say) to display at the same time.

2014 Mazda5 13. 2014 Mazda5

Here’s a dark horse candidate for moms who think the Odyssey and Sienna are just too darn big. With three rows and six genuinely usable seats, the 2014 Mazda5 is a real-deal minivan, yet it’s barely larger than a compact crossover SUV. That makes it super simple to park and maneuver around town. On the fuel-economy front, it gets the same 28 mpg as the Odyssey on the highway, but it trounces the bigger van with up to 22 mpg in the city. You can even get a six-speed manual transmission if you ask nicely. If a full-size minivan just doesn’t fit your lifestyle, the Mazda5 is a great alternative.

What Do You Drive?

Do you all drive any of these minivans? Got a different family vehicle that you really swear by? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Editor’s note: Got a minivan in your driveway? You’ll find the best in parts and accessories at Advance Auto Parts. Get back to the garage fast—buy online, pick up in-store in 30 minutes.

Give Your New Used Car a Clean Bill of Health

Used car buyingDid I ever tell you about the time my husband brought home an old Toyota Tercel? I didn’t ask for it, believe me, but there he was, puttering into the driveway in that gold 1985 hatchback. I don’t know about you, but while my husband is smart, educated and ultra-handy, he can still be pretty darn clueless sometimes.

Anyway, I don’t want to cast any aspersions on the Tercel itself. Properly maintained, it was one of the most reliable cars ever built. But my husband just trusted that it would keep running fine, so he didn’t take these three simple post-purchase steps that could have saved us some headaches down the road.

Change the Oil

When you’re buying a used car, I don’t care how convincing the previous owner is when he or she tells you, “I changed that oil religiously every 3,000 miles!” I like to assume the best of people, but in this case, I always assume the worst. It takes time, energy and money to keep up with car maintenance, and folks don’t necessarily have all three at once.

So here’s my advice: pretend like that oil hasn’t been changed since the car rolled off the assembly line, and change it immediately, whether you do it yourself (my preference, of course!) or pay for the service. My husband dragged his feet on this for a while with the Tercel, since the oil level looked fine on the dipstick, and we had some strange engine issues that cropped up down the line. I don’t know for sure that old oil was the culprit, but I wish we’d just handled it and changed the oil right away. Today, tens of thousands of miles later, the Tercel’s running great with regular DIY oil changes, thank you very much!

Get Fresh Tires and an Alignment

Unless the existing tires are fairly new and a high-quality type that’s properly fitted to the car, I always advise starting from scratch with a new set. Hey, you’ll have to buy tires at some point, right? Why not do it right away? It’s the same idea as the immediate oil change: you want the car to be yours from the get-go, and that means buying a set of top-notch tires yourself. As a fringe benefit, the tire shop will balance the wheels, which should minimize any vibrations you’re feeling on the road.

Also, make sure you have a four-wheel alignment done, because a misaligned car will eat those nice new tires for breakfast. Finally, don’t forget to rotate the tires and balance the wheels at the prescribed intervals; ideally, try to find a tire shop that will perform this service gratis for the life of the tires. My husband decided to keep the tires that came with that old Tercel, since the car itself cost so little to acquire, and the result was that we lived with a jittery ride until the tires were so far gone that he had to get new ones. The difference with the new rubber was night and day. Don’t make the same mistake!

Take a Road Trip

With summer here, this one’s a no-brainer. This is the most fun DIY tip I’ll ever give you: after buying a used car, just hop in and drive! Most trips we take in cars are short, and that’s the worst thing for the engine and other drivetrain components, because they need plenty of time and heat to get properly warmed up. That’s why I think of long highway drives as spa treatments for my cars. Engines are happiest when they’re humming along contentedly for sustained stretches.

With the gold Tercel, we noticed that the more we drove it on trips like this, the smoother it felt (well, once we resolved those engine issues and put on new tires!). There’s nothing like a getting-to-know-you road trip in your “new” used car to knock out the car’s cobwebs and help the two of you get on the same page.

What Works For You?

I’m always eager to hear how you folks tackle real-world problems like “breaking in” a used car. Let me know in the comments! Are there any additional procedures you’d recommend?

Editor’s note: count on Advance Auto Parts to help keep your used car looking good and running right. Buy online, pick up in store—in 30 minutes.

Three Good Reasons to Change Your Own Oil

Oil changeSometimes, handing your kids over to another caregiver is something you can’t avoid. You need a babysitter if you’re ever going to have a night out, right? Parents can’t be parents all the time; they’re going to need some help along the way.

Still, ask any parent, and I think they’ll agree: it’s always a little nerve-wracking to entrust your kids’ welfare to someone else.

Many of us car-lovers feel the same way about our beloved vehicles. And when it comes to things you can do yourself, one of the best examples is changing your own oil.

Here are my three reasons to start changing your own oil. Think about it: if you decide to DIY from now on, you’ll never be left wondering if your baby’s been in good hands or not.

 

1. It’s Cheaper

Typical cars take 4-5 quarts of oil, and you’ll also need a new oil filter to finish the job. Guess how much these items cost at an auto parts store. $30? $40? Actually, you can get out the door for barely 20 bucks, especially if you take advantage of the “oil change specials” that always seem to be running. Cheaper than you thought, right?

Now, you may see a $19.99 oil change advertised at the local Quickie Lube or what have you, but there are a few problems with that. First, they tend to use generic, one-size-fits-all motor oil that leaves you with no choice in the matter. One of the great things about DIY is that you get to buy whatever kind of oil you want. Second, they’ll try to hard-sell you on all sorts of “important” services that are really just a waste of your money and time. And third, can you really trust those guys to do conscientious work for $19.99 a pop? Won’t you be a lot more conscientious yourself?

In short, you’re going to save money changing your own oil, and you’re also going to gain a lot of peace of mind.

 

2. It’s Not As Hard As You Think

Let me explain the two possible scenarios as far as actually changing your oil is concerned. Number one is the old-fashioned way: you actually get under your car and do the dirty work. Even this procedure is very straightforward; in fact, we’ve got a handy dandy little video on how to change your own oil that walks you through every step. It’s fun, because you feel like you’re getting to know your car like never before.

But if you go with number two, you may even be able to stay on your feet. I’m talking about using an extractor, which is a simple device that sucks the old oil out of the top of the engine, letting you simply pour the new stuff in afterward. There are plenty available on the Advance Auto Parts website, and if you make this investment upfront, you’ll still save money in the long run. The only thing to be mindful of is the location of your oil filter — if it’s on the bottom of the engine, you’ll have to get under the car to remove the oil filter, though it’s a lot less messy without all that hot oil in the tank just waiting to spill out!

 

3. It’s a Gateway to Further Exploration

If you’re like me, changing your own oil could just be the beginning. I used to be scared of working on engines, as if they were these nasty creatures just waiting to bite my hand off. But the truth is, they’re just machines, and the more you know about them, the more you’ll be able to catch little problems before they turn into big ones. While you’re changing your oil, for example, it’s easy to check the drive and accessory belts, so why not learn about those, too? Maybe your spark plugs are overdue for replacement; why not get some basic tools and do it yourself? DIY’ing can be addictive in the best way, so give the oil change a shot, and see if it turns into a bridge to more exciting projects down the line.

Have You Changed Your Own Oil?

Tell us about your experiences! What would your advice be to a first-time oil change DIY’er? If you’re a first-timer yourself, got any questions for those of us who’ve been there before?

Editor’s note: Save more when you do it yourself! Advance Auto Parts offers Oil Change Specials to help you tackle your maintenance projects—and save. We’ll even recycle your used oil, too.

Three Apps to Stop Distracted Driving in Your Family

Cel phone appHey DIY’ers, after some much needed r-n-r for the holidays, I’m back in the driver’s seat, with a slew of DIY ideas for you and yours. For this first installment of 2014 (still can’t believe it!), I wanted to focus on something we can all relate to: keeping our families safe on the road.

As a proud mom and avid safety obsessive, I know that smartphones and cars can be a scary combination. When the teen driver or drivers in your household are old enough to get behind the wheel, they’re not going to put down their phones without a fight–and the temptation to text, surf and so forth while driving is almost impossible to resist.

So here’s one of the most important DIYs I’ll ever recommend: check out the following three mobile apps that aim to minimize distracted driving, and pick one as your first line of defense. Teen drivers might tell you you’re paranoid, but you know as well as I do: anything that discourages distracted driving is in everyone’s best interest.

DriveSafe.ly

DriveSafe.ly is so family-oriented that there’s even a “Family Pack” subscription option for up to four family members. The cost is $34.95 annually (or $9.99 per month), or you can get a single-user subscription for $13.95 annually ($3.99/mo.). So what does it do? Claiming to be “the #1 mobile app for texting while driving,” DriveSafe.ly reads up to 500 words per message in a digitized voice (male or female) and sends your spoken response as a reply, so you never have to take your eyes off the road. There’s also support for native Spanish speakers as well as the default English setup. If you want to keep costs out entirely, there’s a free version that reads up to 25 words in a female voice only–and can’t send replies.

FYI: I was unable to download the iPhone version, and the website talks mostly about the BlackBerry and Android platforms. Let me know if you can figure this out!

TextLimit

The thing about DriveSafe.ly is that you’ll never know whether your kid is actually using it. For parents who want a little more peace of mind, TextLimit is the best option I found. Here’s how it works: when you enroll your child’s iPhone, Android or BlackBerry phone (for $24.99 per year; Windows Phone coming soon), you choose a maximum GPS-measured speed at which the phone will be fully functional. Above that speed, you can disable as many apps as you want, including all text/email functionality. Furthermore, you can make your own phone exempt so that you’ll always be able to get through in an emergency. Also available is a “maximum top speed” function that sends an automatic email or text to you, the parent, if that top speed — 70 mph, say — is exceeded.

DriveScribe

If you prefer positive reinforcement, DriveScribe might be just the ticket. I love the concept: rather than prevent kids from using their phones at all, give them pats on the back for choosing to be responsible drivers. DriveScribe awards points for braking gradually, stopping fully at stop signs, and obeying the speed limit, keeping a lifetime driver-behavior log all the while. If you elect to sponsor your child with a paid plan (the app is free by default), the rewards get real: we’re talking gift cards and discounts at Amazon, Sports Authority and other popular retailers. That’s the kind of stuff that my kids want. The only downside is that DriveScribe doesn’t prevent texting like TextLimit–but with any luck, your kid will be too busy driving prudently to pick up that phone.

What Works in Your Family?

Tell us what steps you’ve taken to curb distracted driving in your family, whether it’s a mobile app or something else. The more we talk about this important issue, the better off we’ll be.

 Editor’s note: Ordering from Advance Auto Parts is an easy, seamless process–from a smartphone, tablet and otherwise. (Just don’t do it while you’re driving, please!) Buy online, pick up in store.

Learn more about prepping your teen driver with this article from DriverSide.

Graphic courtesy of Vintage Mobile Phones.

The meaning of Grateful

GratefulWith “holidays” like Black Friday and Cyber Monday officially behind us, the shopping season is in full swing. With that, it’s so easy to be seduced by the sales and lured in by the luxuries that all our loved ones want this time of year. (I’ll confess: I, too, can be mesmerized. Which camp are you in? Reveal all in the Comments box below.)

For me, I am most grateful for the simple things in life. And in light of the heartbreaking images of the aftermath in the Philippines after that horrendous typhoon, I have become all the more grateful for the roof over my head, running water, electrical outlets that work, knowing that loved ones are safe and sound. You know, the things we always seem to take for granted. Also falling into that category are our vehicles.

They do so much for me and are such timesaving necessities that I truly do not know what I would do without them, especially with my big family and growing small business. I’m not knocking public transportation. I believe in it and gladly support it, but my needs require more than they can offer!

My business partner and I rely on our delivery trucks, so naturally we are grateful for the ease in caring for them, thanks to Advance Auto Parts year ‘round savings and offerings. (Heads up: great deals on K&N filters and HID headlights!)

This time of year has us on the road constantly, delivering catered meals for partying offices and numerous other events. As a result, we’re constantly proactive in keeping the trucks in working order. Now that the rain and snow have arrived, having fully functioning wiper blades and headlights (especially HID headlights) are no-brainers. From filters of all kinds, to always-needed garage tools, we’re not shy about stocking up on all the great savings. And don’t let the cold weather stop you from keeping your vehicle in check. Oh, and don’t forget to rely on Advance’s many services, from free oil and battery recycling, to free electrical testing and loaner tools, and much more. Like a guiding light in the night sky that shines with all the brightness of HID headlights, they are here to help you come through in a pinch. Now, that’s something to be grateful for in this frosty weather!

Editor’s note: In this season of shopping, giving and receiving, please take a moment to tell us some things that you are grateful for.

 

Graphic courtesy of Hdesktopwalls.

 

Winter maintenance, the best windshield wipers, a side of breakfast and more

DIY MOmAutumn weather brings out commonalities in people: hearty appetites and the need to make sure our vehicles are prepped for winter’s upcoming onslaught.

Regarding appetites, my business partner and I noticed it once we changed our catering menus to reflect harvest season. What are your favorite fall recipes? Besides striking the perfect fuel/air mixture in one of my old carburetors, I’m partial to Italian…. but that’s another story.

Regarding maintenance for a car, yet again, we’re booked solid. From office parties to the high school’s annual Senior Breakfast, we’ll be on the road, complete with the best windshield wipers guiding our way during the worst weather. Naturally, our catering truck goes through traditional winter maintenance so none of our clients go hungry.

We always include Advance Auto Parts free services as part of our truck’s winter maintenance check-up. Maintenance for a car or truck includes the most optimal windshield wipers keeping things clean and clear. This time of year, investing in a new pair of the best windshield wipers is a must; Advance will even install them for free with purchase. Same goes for when you buy a new battery, making your maintenance for a car ritual easier. They offer free electrical system checks, too. This form of maintenance for a car helps pinpoint possible future trouble spots. Avoid roadside pitfalls — conduct winter maintenance repairs.

Keeping trays of food and beverage unscathed between our shop kitchen and each destination is a must, so our truck’s shocks must be in perfect order. We got great savings on replacements with the Shocktober rebate. However, this ideal step in maintenance for a car won’t last too long: you have until October 31, 2013 to make that initial purchase in order to get the rebate.

These shortened days mean extra dependence on the truck’s headlights. Don’t be like us when we were driving back from a catering gig recently: one headlight went out, cops issued us a fix-it ticket. Now, in between changes, we keep the light quality bright and strong by using a headlight restoration kit. It spares us from prematurely replacing yellow, hazy headlights, the result of many catering drives, especially in inclement weather. Incorporating this system as part of our winter maintenance repairs, plus using the right windshield wipers, keeps us safe on the road by improving visibility.

Keeping the truck looking good on the outside is also vital. For this, we always keep certain prep products on hand. They ensure our truck continues to advertise our business with a clean, sharp presentation.

But enough of winter maintenance talk. And more on that upcoming High School Senior Breakfast gig. We have kids in that group and decided to do a gourmet breakfast with all the trimmings just for the seniors, our gift to the Class of 2014. Go Mustangs!

Now that your stomach is rumbling, I wanted to leave you with a parting thought for your car. By checking into a few basic things before winter fully kicks in, you will help ensure that your family stays safe on the road this season.

Editor’s note: Rely on Advance Auto Parts for the best in service, selection and helpful store services. Buy online, pick up in store.

Advance free services available for most vehicles, at most locations, except where prohibited by law. Graphic courtesy of The Berry.

Goodbye summer travel, hello autumn car care

Advance Auto PartsSeptember. Already. In our household, that translates into a whirlwind of activities. Getting the kids ready for back to school and college, creating new menus that reflect the fall harvest bounty for our catering business, flushing out our house’s gutters in anticipation of the weather change, setting the DVR to catch the new season of TV shows (anything from DIY repair to zooming away from zombies are viewing musts), and plunging into seasonal car care: focus on headlights, replace shocks, etc. Give me your best advice on how to juggle it all; Comments box is below.

This time of year is our car care Big Projects Month. Lucky for us DIY repair devotees, we can count on Advance Auto Parts for timely savings on countless key components and accessories.

Summertime travels put our SUV on more than a few semi-rugged county roads (we are fans of the road less traveled and love discovering new paths and places — no doubt the fuel for turning us into DIY repair advocates!), leaving it with a newly noticeable rough ride that meant only one thing: time to replace shocks. Though the kids enjoyed this different kind of bounce as we drove through our smooth, paved neighborhood streets, the last thing I needed was for it to escalate into “drift” mode (fine for racing tuners, but not for family SUVs). Being in a “Must Replace Shocks” frame of mind, I found Advance’s Shocktober DIY repair specials — their “Buy 4 shocks or struts for the price of 3” sale has been a budget-saver. Ever had to replace shocks on your own? How did it go? Use the Comments box below to confess how you long it really took you the first time you had to replace shocks!

This seasonal transition also brings on shorter days and that means it gets darker sooner. That’s the car care cue to see to your car’s headlights. Some simple DIY repair on your part will be a snap. Seriously, when was the last time they were replaced? Or cleaned properly? That milky, filmy layer on the lens can actually be cleared off easily with the right products. We’ve placed our confidence in Advance to provide the goods to help headlights do their job right.

That’s my short list on car care. I could go on, but I’ll save those for another time. Before I go, I want to ask: are you feeling lucky? I just entered for a chance to win the Moog Sweepstakes. I never pass up any opportunity to win something and neither should you! Speaking of Moog, if you’re experiencing any steering or suspension problems, they are the go-to brand we trust, especially when, a few years back, our minivan’s steering started to pull. Meantime, keep me posted on your Autumn car care tips and DIY repair jobs (especially that first time you had to replace shocks on your own). I love new advice; head to the Comments box below.

Editor’s note: Visit Advance Auto Parts for DIY deals, quality auto parts, accessories and more.

 

 

Graphic courtesy of HD Wallpaper Stop.

Road trips…and what to get the niece who has everything

Advance Auto PartsIt’s in the air this time of year. The heat that justifies an air conditioner set on high. That urge to go driving in the summer. That desire to tie the knot.

Lucky for our family, we’ll be indulging in them all, thanks largely to our niece. Yes, the perennially engaged niece, at long last, is getting married in a couple weeks at an outdoor resort—the kind that attracts lovestruck vacationers who love to go driving in the summer, whether it’s early, late, whenever. This destination wedding and newfound vacation spot is the perfect way for us to celebrate before sending our kids back to school.

While I love my niece to pieces, I have to admit, she’s gone a little crazy with her gift requests. Seems like the couple has all of their many bases covered except for one: cars. And it’s not hard to see why. I seriously doubt that either of them has ever completed an oil change or has even checked their own tire pressure. With that, my husband and I have resolved to buying them a ratchet set and roadside safety kit for their new life together, as we agreed that those would be good places to start.

As for us, we’re going to treat our four-wheeled baby to a few things for the trip. Towing products plus A/C accessories and parts to be specific. Driving in the summer for this wedding requires these essentials. The air conditioner will protect us from the heat, the towing products will enable us to create our home away from home.

We’ll be loading up our gear, provisions and wedding gifts into our caravan: the SUV and diesel crew cab truck (borrowed from our business that my partner and I will be shuttering for two weeks; she’ll be on vacation too and won’t be doing much driving, or have need for an air conditioner or towing products: she’s sailing on an Alaskan cruise!)

Hooked to work’s truck will be those towing products. These lifelines will be securing the travel trailer. By investing in this rental, a few towing products, and a space at a great RV campground and resort (complete with hook-ups and dump stations, thankfully) that’s also close to the wedding/reception site, our vacation is set.

Couple that with seeing relatives again, bonding with my own family, and attending the wedding of a delightful couple who will finally discover all the wonders of being married. And to think that towing products, a fully functioning air conditioner and a ritual of driving in the summer all have the power to make me feel complete. 

As summer winds down, do you have any travel plans? Let us know here.

Editor’s note: If you’ve got a road trip in your future, check out this handy infographic for helpful tips.

 

Movies, motors and McQueen (Steve McQueen, that is)

Steve McQueenBetween all the multi-tasking that my husband and I do — you know, those responsibilities and obligations to our jobs, our kids, our families, our pets, our activities, our home and our vehicles — there is actually one thing that does remove the sting from the whole too-much-going-on-at-the-same-time dilemma. What is it? Making time to take in a movie. Or two when time luxuriously allows.

It’s a commitment. And one we’d never trade in for the world. It’s a simple way to carve out time together, just us two.

The latest movie titles embarrassingly escape us, and it’s no use trying to remember the numerous TV commercials for the latest crop of movies. So we head online to see what’s playing locally. Out of the handful that we barely recognize, the lone standout falls into the car movies category. I think you know the one: where today’s generation of fast and famous film cars share top billing alongside current Hollywood heavies (all of whom surely must derive some form or level of inspiration from Steve McQueen.) Fast cars, all furiously zooming around, driven by hot actors and pretty actresses, all engaging in tons of car-racing action and adrenaline-pumping rescues, fueled by a nonstop thumping soundtrack . . . and a heavy sigh from me and the hubby.

Not necessarily our style of film, but it’s how we now quell the craving for car movies. Truthfully, our style leans more toward the car movies (and their famous film cars which are now icons) from decades ago. Give us those car movies with Steve McQueen tearing around the streets of San Francisco, or Gene Hackman using the streets of New York as a high-speed obstacle course for four wheels, or, heck, even Lightning McQueen re-paving the streets of Radiator Springs for that matter, and we’ll be there with our bucket of popcorn in hand. Certain car movies are the greatest!

Famous film cars themselves will always have our attention, too. Surely, you can picture them as well. In the cool department, there’s no mistaking that 1968 moss-green 390 V8 Ford Mustang GT that has Steve McQueen written all over it. In the campy department, nothing can take the place of that late-1950s Cadillac stretch ambulance conversion that was vital in helping keep ghosts and their slimy green ectoplasm in check. And who says famous film cars have to be limited to cars? With another nod to Steve McQueen, there’s no forgetting the TT Special 650 Triumph motorcycle he used in that classic WWII escape scene.Steve McQueen

What about you? Which car movies starring your favorite and famous film cars rank as your go-to choices? Maybe it was that first R-rated movie you saw. Or that memorable drive-in movie that truly had you engrossed in what was happening on screen. There’s a story behind them all. Whether it involved Steve McQueen or any of those famous film cars, share it! Start confessing in our Comments section down below.

 

Editor’s note: As you pine for Steve McQueen and the classic car films of yore, visit Advance Auto Parts for to maintain a cinema-quality car of your own. Mustang photo courtesy of The Mustang Source.