Teaching Your Child To Drive Responsibly

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Working with a bored teenager? Homeschooling a young child?

It’s never too soon to teach someone the basics of auto maintenance. Alternatively, to respond to common auto repair questions.

But, you ought to be careful in which you begin.

Teaching a youngster (who may well not even know how to open the hood! ) on how to replace a timing belt isn’t a smart move. Your youngster can easily become overwhelmed, and feel that do it yourself auto repair projects are far too difficult.

That’s the wrong message to convey.

On the other hand, when you start with an easy project, your son or daughter can gain some confidence, along with a sense of accomplishment. That’ll help make your child more eager to understand the next lesson.

Try these “starter” auto maintenance projects.

– Test the fitness of the wiper blades. If possible, install new blades.
– Look into the air pressure of the tires, along with the tread depth. Explain signs of tire wear. Rotate the tires if it’s time.
– Inspect the air filter. Insert a fresh one if it’s clogged.
– Check the fluid levels-such a soil and brake, windshield wiper, coolant and transmission-and top them off.
– Complete an oil, lube and filter job.
– Demonstrate how to put on the spare tire. Check its tire pressure.
– Try out your battery, and appearance its fluid levels.
– Inspect the belts for signs and symptoms of fraying or cracking.
– Put together a car emergency kit.
– Execute a tune-up (a little more advanced task).
– Continue your car maintenance 101 lesson at our stores.
– Let’s say you checked the air filter as one of your teaching lessons. You find that it’s filthy.
– Next, you could take your child to your nearby Advance Auto Parts store where you can get all your auto repair questions answered. Show your child how you can look up the correct size air filter to your vehicle, pick the right brand and bring the filter home. By replacing the old filter together with the one you just bought, then complete your lesson.

Again, completing these relatively simple do it yourself auto repair projects can give your kids some confidence-and spark a desire to battle more complicated tasks down the road. Plus, if your child or teen is part of a homeschooling group, you could potentially give lessons to all of them, positively influencing an entire selection of young people and teach them valuable real life skills.

An Italian Jeep: the Fabulous Fiat Campagnola

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If you saw one cruising down the road today, you might easily mistake it for an original WWII Jeep. They look that much alike. First generation Fiat Campagnolas are very rare in this country though, so such cases of mistaken identity are few and far between. If you looked closely, you’d see the Campagnola has its own distinctive Italian styling and is actually a unique take on the classic US Army Jeep of World War II. You currently won’t find any new ones at your fiat dealership Los Angeles, but who knows about the future? With Jeep and Chrysler being owned by Fiat these days, maybe that will change someday. Let’s take a closer look at that unique Italian “Jeep” called the Campagnola.

Fiat Campagnola 1101 (1951-1973)

The original Campagnola was introduced by Fiat in 1951 as a straight-up Italian answer to the American Jeep. Like the wartime Jeeps, it was four-wheel drive and had a small four cylinder engine. The inline-four cylinder overhead cam engine could be had with a single carburetor or as a diesel—unlike the Jeep. This made a lot of sense for military use as diesel vehicles are notoriously less flammable than gas-powered ones. Fiat didn’t fail to mention it in advertising. The modest horsepower of 53-63 bhp was similar to the adequate, if uninspiring-by-modern standards power found in wartime Jeeps.

Fiat immediately set about promoting their new 4×4 workhorse with an epic trek across Africa. In September, 1951 Paolo Butti and Domenico Racca set out in their Fiat Campagnola and drove from Algeria to Capetown, South Africa and back in a record 11 days, four hours, 54 seconds. It was a stunning vindication of the new vehicle’s durability given the road net (or lack thereof) found in much of Africa at the time.

Fiat 1107 “Nuova” Campagnola (1974-1987)

In 1974 the Campagnola got a major redesign. The engine now used was the same gas engine of the Fiat 132, but with an increased capacity of 1,996 cc courtesy of a longer stroke. The military variant was christened the AR 76 and later the AR 79 (for the years of their introduction) and has been used by every segment of the Italian military in the years since. The vehicle has earned an enviable record in Italian service for sturdy durability and has been favorably compared to the Land Rover in trials. The Campagnoloa also achieved the dubious notoriety of being used as the “Popemobile” Pope John Paul II was riding in when he survived an assassination attempt in 1981.

Today

Collectors lament that keeping a first generation Campagnola going these days (at least in the Sates) can be an uphill battle. Head gaskets are said to almost be made of unobtanium. Still, for those who persevere the payoff is a unique 4×4 unlike any other. The Campagnola owner knows they aren’t likely to run into another Campagnola at the grocery store or the collector’s car concourse. That unique Italian style and charm always attracts favorable attention.

You can always find a great selection of modern Fiats at great prices at OC Fiat. Check them out today.

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The Comfort That Every Driver Has Been Looking For With Nissan NYC’s Taxi of Tomorrow

CARPHOTO-3If you’re driving into rural areas to spend time with nature, there’s nothing more noticeable than a bright yellow The Big Apple taxi cab to do it in.

Several months ago, we had a chance to try out Nissan’s new Taxi of Tomorrow for New York City, based upon its NV200 small commercial van–however with a whole lot of updates.

Another outlet had already done the ideal article on using a NYC taxi to transport your friends, and then we went in the other direction: up to the mountains.

Whilst the NV200 Taxi is really meant mostly for city use, we covered our usual test route–267 miles this time–comprising two-thirds highway, one-thirds around-town stop and go errands and suburban traffic.

We achieved a combined fuel consumption of 24.2 mpg, right on the nose for that 24-mpg combined EPA rating assigned to the 2014 Nissan NV200 cargo van (24 mpg city, 25 mpg highway).

Nissan NV200 ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’ in New York City livery, road test, Dec 2013Nissan NV200 ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’ in New York City livery, road test, Dec 2013

The taxi differs from the cargo van version of the NV200 in many ways.

Amongst other things, the mandatory NYC taxi bulletproof partition is installed (by taxi specialists). Luckily, the wheelbase is still for long enough to provide decent legroom for rear-compartment passengers–and proper operation of your side airbags and crash structures.

Nissan notes that its taxi is the only one that’s been crash-tested with the bulletproof partition in place, a move that’s long-overdue for the wide array of converted passenger vehicles now serving as taxis all over the country.

Externally, the Taxi of Tomorrow is [ahem] not the handsomest vehicle on the roads.

It’s very tall and slab-sided, visually quite narrow, and it sits on extremely small 16-inch wheels that make it look top-heavy.

2014 Nissan NV200 Taxi, New York City’s Taxi of Tomorrow2014 Nissan NV200 Taxi, New York City’s Taxi of Tomorrow

It’s also not so powerful, using a 131-horsepower 2.-liter four-cylinder engine driving the top wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) in a heavy vehicle.

It is actually tuned to supply decent, if not speedy, acceleration up to about 50 mph. Above that range, it actually starts to run out of breath–and get noisy too.

And even below that speed, the combination of lots of body roll and a lack of power meant that we were closely followed and then overtaken on a twisty uphill mountain road by an aggressively driven Toyota Prius hybrid.

More random impressions from driving the taxi for five days:

The driver’s seat is extremely good, and seems to be far more supportive and better-padded than the passenger’s seat–it was actually as comfortable as those who work in pricey German sedans

The contrasting yellow stitching about the black vinyl seats, and also the very visible bright-yellow seat-belt receptacles in the rear passenger compartment, are stylish and smart design

The door mirrors are large and provide superb visibility, unlike the shrinking door mirrors found on many cars these days to reduce resistance to the wind

But among small windows, vertically split rear doors, the glass roof for passengers, and reflections through the bulletproof glass, rear vision was minimal and compromised

The rear-view camera helps address that

The driver gets a 12-Volt power outlet, a USB port, and so on our test vehicle, even satellite radio–sweet!

Nissan NV200 ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’ in Ny City livery, road test, Dec 2013Nissan NV200 ‘Taxi of Tomorrow’ in New York City livery, road test, Dec 2013

We also tested the taxi by riding around in the rear, where it is clearly head and shoulders above any converted Ford Escape or C-Max, Toyota Prius, or any crossover or sedan:

Asymmetric rear doors–the curb-side right-hand door is over the left–make access easy

There’s an intercom to communicate with the driver, rather than yelling from the change slot cut in to the bulletproof glass

The now-mandatory heat/air-conditioning vents for the rear compartment worked fine

The existence of a USB port to charge smart phones finally brings NYC taxis into the modern day

Steps that automatically slide out from beneath the cab once the door is opened were a nice touch, though they seemed unnecessary to us given the low floor

The 24-mpg rating seems justifiable even if the cabbie has a heavy foot, though overall, our test cycle isn’t established to replicate taxi duty.

And they’re far better from the back seat than any other cab–not that taxi owners much care about that.

Looking Good – But Does Your Car Smell Nice?

Never under-estimate the power of a subtle odor – the smell of baking bread as you enter the supermarket, it really isn’t wafting from their subtly placed kitchens you know, it’s being pumped at you through the air con to make you hungry and buy some.

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So how can you stop your car from smelling like last week’s burger take-out and spilled milk from a shopping trip more than a month ago? Even when you buy used cars in Ontario or anywhere else they come smelling sweet, fresh and clean, something which is not always easy to maintain or replicate after a minor disaster.

Here are a few tips on how to make your car not just look good but also smell as fresh as a daisy:

1 – Make sure that when you do clean your car (which really ought to be a weekly routine for best results) that you do it properly. We’re not talking about a quick shake of the floor mats and a squirt of polish to try and mask the smell of stale pizza – we’re talking vacuuming the seats, polishing the plastic surfaces and even steam cleaning upholstery every once in a while to keep it fresh. There are also some great de-scenting sprays you can buy for immediately afterwards – not to be used on leather – which can leave our car smelling citrus fresh.

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2 – A cup of vinegar can help to remove any bad smells which have been hanging around for a long time. Just fill up a cup and pop it into your car overnight, make sure that it’s somewhere level and don’t forget a large note on the steering wheel to stop you from driving off with it still in place. Vinegar is great for plucking nasty smells from the air – you might need to use it for a couple of nights in extreme cases.

3 – Buy some sweet smelling air fresheners but be careful not to impede your vision with lots of smelly trees dangling from the rear view mirror. The sticky variety can be stuck out of sight so that you don’t even know that they’re there except for the pleasant odors. You could even pop something under the front seat, out of sight but not out of smell – something like a handkerchief with a few drops of sweet smelling aromatherapy oil can make a massive difference.

4 – While you’re busy cleaning your car and popping nicely smelling cloths under the seats you’d better check for anything offensive which may be lurking there. You are going to have real trouble making your car smell sweet if there’s a handful of month old chips hiding under the driver’s seat – it just ain’t gonna’ happen. Check the pockets behind the seats too, particularly if you’ve got children – these are a terrific place to hide half chewed sweets or blobs of unidentified food.

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5 – Don’t forget about the trunk of your car – bad smells can come from just about anywhere so make sure that the trunk is included in your vacuuming and steam cleaning routine.

6 – Keep a spray bottle handy filled with top quality odor neutralizing spray. You should only use this when you’re in a well ventilated area with all of the doors open but it can help to make the interior of your car smell clean, fresh and fabulous, just like it was the day you bought it.

There’s a great selection of motors at http://www.mountainviewchevrolet.com – all clean, sparkling and smelling fresh. Why not go and see for yourself.