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Sport Mode: Using Little Known Features

Many modern cars come with a range of different “modes” to alter their performance. If there’s one mode many drivers don’t understand, it’s sport mode. Therefore, it’s helpful to know what this mode does, how it works, and when it’s best for you to use it…

Sport Mode: Optimize Car Performance

What it does

Drivers can usually turn on sport mode by pressing a button or twisting a dial. You might wonder, then, just how much the mode can change? In fact, it actually does change your car’s performance in three distinct areas: the engine, transmission, and suspension.

In this mode, your car’s engine will be more “sensitive” to the throttle, increasing its acceleration. It’ll also increase revving capacity by extend the automatic shift points in your car’s transmission. You’ll notice too that the suspension tightens up and will feel a bit more “stiff.” This improves performance on paved surfaces, especially on highways.

Use in cars

In the past, you’d usually only find sport mode as an option in higher-end cars. The most common usage was in sports cars, hence the name. However, recently many other cars have had this mode included stock. For instance, tucks, SUVs, and even minivans can all be found with sport mode features!

No matter the car, the results of the mode are generally the same: your car becomes more responsive than when you drive it regularly. This is why so many manufactures are including it in all their vehicles. Plenty of drivers describe the mode as “fun” or “thrilling”, so having it included gives them another feature to draw customers in with.

Potential downsides

While sport mode does come with some improvements, it also has some downsides. The increased engine power will mean more gas consumption. This will lessen the usual MPG that your car gets compared to when driving it normally. Plus, the extra performance can mean extra wear on your engine and tires.

You also need to make sure that you’re aware of when you should use sport mode. Using it in poor weather conditions and on roads with sharp curves/turns can be risky. Instead, it’s safest to use it on days with clear weather and on more open and straight roads.

Driving Safety: RV and Motorhomes

With airports and cruise lines being closed around the world due to Covid-19, many people are turning to domestic road trips this year. Recreational Vehicles (RVs) and Motorhomes are quickly growing in popularity due to safety concerns and regulations associated with public transportation, hotels and restaurants. RV driving safety is very important to familiarize yourself with. These vehicles are much larger than what many people are used to driving.

Driving Safety: RV Driving Tips

Get Familiar with Your RV for Your Safety

Just as you practiced when you first started driving a car, it’s important to practice driving safety in an RV. You should definitely do this before taking it on a long road trip. Find a wide open parking lot, and practice driving, turning, backing up and parking. For inexperienced drivers, it may be necessary to have someone stand outside of the RV and help direct you while navigating into a parking spot. In the meanwhile, get familiar with its size and weight. Since an RV is heavier than a car, they will be harder and slower to stop when breaking. The turning radius will be bigger as well, so practice getting comfortable with wider turns.

Also, make note of your RV’s height. This will be important when deciding if there is enough clearance to pass under an overpass or overhang. Oftentimes, bank and fast-food drive-thrus are not tall enough for an RV to pass under. A quick tip is to write down the height of the RV and tape it somewhere it will be easily visible while driving. 

Practice Safe Driving Habits in an RV

Since RVs are taller and have a different weight distribution than a car, be you may have to adjust your driving habits. Taking sharp turns too quickly could cause an RV to flip over or lose control. This could also cause pull behind camper vans could fishtail, which could lead to an accident. An important driving safety tip is to be mindful of speed limits and weather conditions. Keep in mind that oftentimes RVs may need to drive slower than other cars on the road. 

Gas Station Safety in an RV 

Driving safety is important to remember at gas stations. This can be a tricky pit stop for inexperienced RV drivers. First, gas stations often have tight turns and small spaces. In addition, canopy height may be too low for your RV to fit under. Plan gas stops carefully, keeping in mind that truck stops may be more RV friendly than traditional gas stations. 

With more people hitting the road in RVs this year, it’s important to make sure to be comfortable with RV safety before heading on a trip. By taking time to practice, following road rules and adjusting to road conditions, and knowing where your RV can and can’t fit, you’ll set yourself up for a safer and more enjoyable vacation.

Electric Vehicles versus Hybrid: Understanding Options

With the rise in popularity of clean, renewable energy, many people are looking at the differences between electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. Lately, almost every car manufacturer is making a hybrid or electric option. There are pros and cons to each of these type of vehicles, so it is important to learn more about each of them.

Electric Vehicles versus Hybrid Vehicles: A Comparison

Power Source

Electric cars are fully battery-powered while hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are gas-powered with a smaller battery. The braking process of the car actually recharges the battery. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are another type of vehicle. These are HEV’s, but have a larger battery. This battery can be charged like a fully electric vehicle. This can be done at a charging station or any plug that would work with your car.

Refuel and Recharge Times

One difference of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles is refueling or recharging time. Since HEV use fuel as their primary source of energy, the time to get a full range of travel takes far less time than charging an electric vehicle. It would just require going to a gas station and taking a few minutes to refuel the car. The battery recharges with energy while you’re driving. Plug-in HEV refuel with gas in the same way. However, it may take a plug-in hybrid electric up to several hours to fully recharge the battery. Of course this depends on the battery size and power source.

Depending on the electric vehicle model, a full charge can take between 30 to 90 minutes on a fast charging network. Tesla’s Supercharging network provides very fast charging speeds for Tesla drivers. These charging times certainly make a road trip take more time. However, most charging stations (and all Superchargers) are in a place where you can get some food and relax. You do want to keep that in mind if you plan on going on long road trips with the EV, since charging stops will add time to your trip.

Less Maintenance

There is a big difference when looking at the maintenance for electric vehicles versus hybrid vehicles. Electric vehicles cost less to maintain than a hybrid vehicle. This is primarily due to the engine. An electric vehicle’s engine has around 20 moving parts. However, there are close to 2,000 parts for a hybrid’s engine. Hybrid cars have an internal combustion engine in them. Therefore, they still require the same typical maintenance that a normal engine vehicle would need. This includes oil and transmission fluid changes, as well as timing belt fixes.

While there are some similarities between electric and hybrid automobiles, there are also many differences. HEVs and PHEVs also have many areas they overlap with fully gas cars. If you are thinking about getting a car that would be better for the environment, these are all things to think about. I would recommend test driving all three kinds of cars so that you can make a decision about what is best for you.

Car Batteries: Replacing & Routine Maintenance

Your car battery is an important part for keeping things running properly. However, when it comes to replacing car batteries, many drivers don’t know when the time is right. Knowing the signs and factors of failing batteries can help you replace them before die for good. After all, routine maintenance is what makes a car go a long way…

Replacing Car Batteries: When is it Time?​

Signs of a dying battery

Knowing what a dying battery looks like is an important part of replacing car batteries. There are a few signs that you can check for even without going under the hood. For example, if your car is cranking slower or your check battery light is on, that can indicate that your battery is in need of change.

There are also some more obvious signs of a dying battery as well. A bloated battery case is a sign of an internal issue with the battery. Having battery leaks or residue buildup on the battery are also signs of your battery needing to be changed.

Climate implications

The climate can also have an impact on replacing car batteries. High temperatures can evaporate the water in your battery’s acid, hurting its performance and lifespan. It also can lead to increased corrosion both inside and outside the battery.

However, cold temperatures can be just as harsh on car batteries. Cold weather means your battery has to work harder to keep things running. It also can make your engine oil thicker, adding even more strain on your battery. 

Know your driving habits

How you drive certainly plays a large part in your battery’s life. Constantly taking short trips prevents your battery from having time to recharge. This can lead to an overall decrease in battery life and performance.

Even not driving can lead you to needing to change your battery. Your car batteries will continue to drain even when not in use. If your car hasn’t been used in a while, you might need to check if your battery still has some juice in it.

Driving with a dying battery can be quite risky. You run the risk of being left stranded if it dies while you’re driving. Knowing when and why you might need a battery change is helpful for avoiding this potential outcome.

Distracted Driving Types: Staying Alert

In the United States, distracted driving is the cause of over 1,000 accidents every day. In fact, many drivers aren’t aware of the different ways that they can get distracted on the road. Knowing the different ways a driver can be distracted can help one make sure they take the proper steps to fully focus when driving….

Distracted Driving: Cognitive, Visual, and Manual

The three types

Distracted driving comes in three different forms: cognitive, visual, and manual. Cognitive is when a driver’s mind isn’t focused on driving. Visual is when the driver is look at things other than the road. Finally, manual is when the driver has one or both hands off the steering wheel. Even the simplest things can cause one or a combination of these distractions. Talking to a friend, checking a GPS or reaching for something can all cause these distractions. Additionally, texting and driving is so dangerous because it combines all three at once.

Understand the risks

Each form of distracted driving comes with risks. Mental distraction increases the chance of making mistakes and accidents. Visual distractions can prevent you from seeing changes on the road. Manual distractions can cause you to not react to these changes in time. All of these increase the risk for both you and other drivers. Unfortunately, many drivers don’t understand these risks. However, taking your eyes and mind off the road for just a few seconds is all it takes for something to go wrong.

Staying safe

The largest factor for staying safe from distractions is avoiding them in the first place. Turn off your phone and other devices so they can’t potentially distract you. Keep your focus on the road and not on your passengers as well. If something needs your attention, then pull over first. Additionally, there have been many attempts to crack down on distracted driving. 46 states have banned texting and driving, along with heavy penalties for those that do. Many companies have run ads and created programs to encourage drivers to pay attention to the road. Also, insurance companies have begun offering special rewards and rates for drivers who aren’t distracted.

Distracted driving is something all drivers can prevent. Knowing that the road takes priority is important for staying safe on the road. Your phone, food, and other things can wait until your ride is over.

Driver’s License Points

At some time in your driving career, you might have faced a traffic stop or heard people talk about driver’s license points. Some may say they want to avoid them, others might talk about how they need to reduce them. Whatever the case may be, people generally want to avoid points on their license.

Driver’s License Points: What They Mean

What do the points represent?

The amount of driver’s license points you receive depends on the charge. Different charges result in different points. The points add up, and depending on the situation, you can lose your license.

  • Two Points — In order to receive two driver’s license points, your violation could be going ten miles per hour or less over the legal speed limit. Other basic violations of traffic laws could have a two point penalty.
  • Three — Careless driving, improper passing, and going eleven to fifteen miles per hour over the speed limit could result in three driver’s license points. Failure to stop for a school bus or at a railroad crossing are also charges that could result in three points.
  • Four — As the points increase, so do the violations. Drag racing and impaired driving will result in four points. If you are going over sixteen miles per hour over the speed limit you can get four points, too!
  • Six — Arguably the most serious of the infractions, six driver’s license points is a result of reckless driving, failure to stop at an accident, and fleeing a police officer. In addition, manslaughter or negligent homicide involving the use of a vehicle will result in six points.

Where are the points valid?

The points are valid in any state that uses a point system. Insurance companies are also notified of your driver’s license points. They can raise your rates as a result of your points.

Can I remove the points?

In South Carolina, you can reduce your number of driver’s license points by attending a defensive driving course. There are certain requirements for this course. You must take it in South Carolina, in person, and there must be eight hours of classroom training. In addition, it must be taken after the violation date. Additionally, you can only make a reduction once in a three-year period. Also remember that if you are in fear of a license suspension, take the course as soon as possible. Once the suspension begins, you cannot cancel the suspension.