Weekly auto rail, with road trip tips, Car Q&A with Junior Damato and more.
Tip of the Week
Road trips are a rite of passage for young men everywhere, but college dudes shouldn't be the only ones who get to enjoy this uniquely American kind of adventure. If skinny neckties and big hair were in style the last time you took a road trip with your buds, it may be time to toss a duffel in the truck bed, round up your amigos and hit the highway. A few practical measures can help ensure your more mature road trip is still fun and works for everyone:
- Packing it in: Your days of cramming six guys and all their gear into a barely drivable, high-mileage sub-compact are probably over. A reliable yet fun-to-drive pickup is perfect for your grown-up road trip with the guys. And since your stuff is probably going to be worth more than what you toted around during your college days, be sure to protect it. A lockable roll-up cover will keep your belongings protected from the elements - including criminal elements - while you're on the road. As for what to pack, be sure to include an emergency roadside kit, first aid kit and any medications that you regularly need. Bring along a GPS device and your trusty mobile phone so you can stay on track and in touch.
- Finely tuned machines: In the old days, you might have motored through the night with just a few hours of sleep and several cups of coffee to keep you going - and that was part of the thrill. These days, however, you probably appreciate a more relaxed pace, which includes sleeping well and eating right. Keeping yourself "well tuned" can help ensure you enjoy your road trip as much as possible. You'll also want to make sure your vehicle is in top condition. It's a good idea to change the oil, and check the tire pressure and coolant system before you get on the road.
- Have a plan, man: How many road trips of your youth ended up at a destination other than the one you had in mind when you started out? Meandering can be fun, but having a plan can be rewarding, too. Your taste in destinations has probably matured, so consult with your traveling partners and consider spots that appeal to your current interests and finances. Use a GPS or online resource to pre-plan your route and make sure the people you love know where you'll be along the way.
Gas prices are on the rise again, so if you’re in market for the most fuel-efficient vehicle, consider these vehicles, as rated by www.fueleconomy.gov:
- Two-seater: Honda CR-Z automatic
- Mini-compact: Mini Cooper manual
- Subcompact: Ford Fiesta SFE FWD automatic
- Compact: Honda Civic Hybrid automatic, Honda Insight automatic
Did You Know
Volkswagen recently reported that fiscal year 2010 was the company’s most profitable year ever.
Q: I currently drive a 2002 Chevy Suburban. When I accelerate in the truck, the radio automatically gets louder, and when I slow down it gets softer. What could be causing this and is there anything I can do to fix it?
A: There are a couple of possibilities that can cause the problem. The speed signal getting to the radio can be corrupt. The radio can also have an internal fault. I suggest you take the car to a radio shop in your area. It may be worth either replacing the radio with a new after-market radio or a used radio from a salvage yard if the fault is in the radio.
- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist
GateHouse News Service