Top Five Signs You Need to Pull Over

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Sometimes it’s obvious you need to pull over, like if your tire blows out.  Other times, you might think it’ll be fine to power through and stop when you’re safely home.  Or you might even think you can take care of whatever the problem is while you’re driving.  Don’t make guesses when it comes to your safety.  Here are the top signs that you should pull over:

Smoke, flames or steam

Obviously if your car is on fire, you need to get off the road.  Smoke or steam can be just as dangerous.  If steam is coming out of your engine, it probably means that your coolant is leaking.  If it’s a small leak, it might not be that bad, but if it’s a large leak, it can overheat your engine.  Not to mention the steam can block your view and cause a fender bender.  Pull over.  Don’t open your hood to have a look though; when you open the coolant, it might spray up and burn you.  Call the mechanic and have them fix it.

Strange Noises

You should be familiar with the sounds your car typically makes.  Turn off the radio now and then so you can learn what your car sounds like on a normal day.  That way, if anything out of the ordinary suddenly pops up, you can take your car to the mechanic and prevent serious damage.  If you hear any sudden loud noises, pull over and address it.  You might have just run over something harmless in the road, like a milk jug or other trash, or there might be something seriously wrong with your car.

Medical Emergency

If you’re in pain, don’t try to hold out until you get home or to the hospital.  Driving during a heart attack will put your life even more at risk.  Even smaller concerns can still be dangerous – like a headache, or something in your eye.

Lack of Visibility

Sometimes storms come out of nowhere, and suddenly it’s pouring buckets and you can’t see the road.  Don’t try to keep going, it’s useless.  If it’s foggy, or your wipers are broken, or the spray from the road is blocking you from seeing the car in front of you, pull over.


No, it’s not okay to bend over and pick something off the floor or change your jacket while you’re cruising at 65mph on the highway.  If your kids are fighting in the back, pull over.  Anything can happen, and it only takes one negligent moment to cause an accident. Those few seconds you take to reach over and grab your CD, or take your hands off the wheel to slip out of your coat, could make the difference between a safe stop and a fender bender.

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SUV vs. Minivan Showdown: Which Should You Get for Your Family?

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Is your family looking for a new car? Can’t decide between a minivan and an SUV? While the minivan has a stigma to it – and maybe you are hesitant to give in and get one – it actually might be a better fit for your family. Car manufacturers are trying to update and refresh the minivan to make it more appealing. However, there are some times that simply call for the SUV.

So which is better? That’s going to depend on the needs of your family. Check out our showdown below to find out which car is your family’s match.


Round 1: Style

A “soccer mom” stigma unfortunately puts the minivan at a disadvantage to start with. People just don’t think it’s “hip.” Especially teenagers. On the other hand, you have the rugged SUV that practically screams fun and adventure. Despite the fact that car manufacturers are attempting to jazz up minivans and make them a little more appealing, this round has to go to the SUV.


Round 2: Handling

The minivan makes a comeback in this round, with smooth handling and better maneuverability. The SUV puts up a fight, though, with off-roading capabilities. Bad weather? The SUV says, “No problem.” In an SUV, you can handle hills and potholes.


Round 3: Space

The minivan dominates this round with seating for 7 or 8 people and cargo space to spare. While some SUVs do have a third row – like the Honda Pilot, for example – for the most part, you’ll get more space in a minivan. Minivans also allow you to take out the back seat if you need even more space in the back. Sliding doors make it easy for your entourage to pile in.


Round 4: Fuel Efficiency

With better gas mileage, this is another round for the minivan. Large SUVs in particular have a reputation for being gas-guzzlers.

Round 5: Capabilities

With 4×4 capability and towing, the SUV is a great multipurpose vehicle. While the minivan can also haul, SUVs generally get better tow ratings than minivans.


Overall, they seem to come out even. Looking for good handling and space? The minivan’s got your back. But if you need something a little sportier, that can handle off-roading or harsh weather conditions, you might find a better friend in the SUV. If you have a lot of kids, or are planning on heading up the local carpool, a minivan might be better. If you live in a harsh climate, the SUV might be better. Ultimately, determine what your family needs, and make your decision based on that.

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6 Tips for Driving in the Rain

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Tis the season for rain and weather so we thought it would be helpful to post some safety tips for driving in the rain.  Decreased visibility and slippery roads increase the chances of being in an accident while raining.  Stay alert and follow these tips to stay safe in the rain.

1. Leave Earlier

Traffic will move slower in the rain, so it will take longer for you to get to your destination. Plus, you don’t want to be in a hurry or rushing to get somewhere when the roads are slick. Give yourself extra time, and leaver earlier.

2. Brake Sooner

Sudden braking can cause you to hydroplane and lose control of the car. Brake earlier than you would typically, and use less force on the brakes.

3. Turn On Your Headlights

Even if its day time, turning on your headlights will not only help you see better, but it helps other drivers see you. However, avoid using your high beams; the light will reflect off of the water droplets in the air and make it even more difficult to see.

4. Watch for Pedestrians

A pedestrian might be too distracted fiddling with his umbrella to notice you, so it’s up to you to keep your eye out for someone crossing the road. With decreased visibility, they may be harder to see, so stay alert and keep an eye out for them.

5. Avoid Puddles

Stay close to the middle of the road. Puddles tend to form on the shoulder and the sides of the road, so hug the yellow line. Don’t try to cross large puddles in the road if you can’t tell how deep they are – your car could get stuck. Try to find a different way around.

6. Know how to handle Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning is when your car skids on the surface of the water, and could cause you to lose control of the car. If your car starts to hydroplane, do not brake suddenly or turn the wheel – this could cause you to lose control of the vehicle. Instead, slowly take your foot off the gas and steer straight. If necessary, tap the brake gently.

Forecasts predict scattered showers until Wednesday. A flood watch is in place through the evening, so please stay safe on the roads!

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Car Seat Safety: How Safe Are Your Children?

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Do you follow the recommended car seat installation procedures?  A properly installed child seat could save your child’s life.

Recent studies show that most parents don’t follow the proper guidelines for installing car seats for their children – or that they don’t use the right seat at all.  Understandably, children don’t want to be stuck in a car seat – they want to feel like a grown up.  But even seven or eight year olds should be in a booster seat.

The purpose of child safety seats and booster seats is to protect your child in the event of a collision.  While the death rate has declined, car crashes are the main cause of death for children ages 3 to 14, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Child seats can decrease the risk of death by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers, and decrease the risk of injury by 59%.


If you have a child under the age of 13, here are some safety tips:

  • Children under two should be in rear-facing child seats.
  • Use the tether straps to secure the child seat. These will keep the tops of the child seats secured in crashes.  They are intended to make installation easier.
  • Follow the installation guidelines to make sure the seat is secured properly.
  • Strap the child seat in the middle of the back seat.
  • Do not use the LATCH anchor for children over 48lbs.
  • Children under 13 should be buckled up in the back seat.
  • Reinforce good seat belt usage while your kids are still young, so that once they get older, and go out on their own, they will continue to buckle up.


It’s very important that children up to seven or eight years old be properly secured in a booster seat.  Seat belts are designed for adults, and therefore won’t provide proper protection (or comfort) for your child.  A booster seat will ensure that the seat belt fits your child properly, so it’s very important that when you buy the booster seat, you check to make sure it fits the booster seat and your child comfortably.

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How to Find the Best Car for Your Family

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How to Find the Best Car for Your Family

Looking for the best fit for your family, but don’t know where to start?  Finding the car that pleases everyone – especially if you have a large family – can be challenging.  Here are some points to consider when searching for that perfect car.


Space and Storage

With kids, you’ll need a large cargo area to store everything – whether you need to pack up strollers and diaper bags for your baby or sports equipment for your teen.  When you’re shopping, open the trunk and see how much space you’ll have.  Also check out the interior and make sure there’s enough space for your family to sit comfortable.  Can you fit your child safety seats comfortably in the second row?  Are the latches secure?  As one final quick check, also look for any storage spaces and cup holders in the seating area that your children will be able to reach.


Built in Entertainment

Kids can be distracting if they’re fighting.  They also get bored on long car trips.  When you’re looking at vehicles, check to see if they have any built in entertainment to keep your children occupied and give them something to do.


Assistance Features

Small features can add up to be a huge help when you’re an on-the-go mom or dad.  Automatic sliding doors help you save time if you’re carrying a large load.  A built-in GPS is easier to start up than having to attach your GPS to the windshield, plug it in, etc.  If you’re in a rush and not paying attention, a reverse-sensing system can save the day and prevent crashes or accidents.  A conversation mirror – a convex mirror that allows you to see the entire cabin – can also help you keep an eye on your kids without having to turn around.


Ultimately, determine what you really need, versus what you think you need or want.  Evaluate the needs of your family, and find a car that matches that.  With a family, you’ll need to save as much as you can, so don’t go crazy about extra features you won’t end up using.  Look up the safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find the safest vehicles.


If you have any questions, one of our helpful staff members at Penske Automotive would be happy to assist you and find the perfect fit for your family.




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Today, with better, quality tires, blowouts are less common. Unfortunately this means that many don’t know what to do in the event of a flat tire. Instinctively, people might try to brake or take action that could actually put them in more danger and lead to a collision.

If you’ve never had a flat before, here is how to handle a flat tire:

Do Not Brake

This is the most important thing to remember, and possibly the hardest thing to do. Your instincts and reflexes will want you to move your foot off the gas and slam on the brakes. However, braking suddenly will cause the car to be unbalanced, and you will lose control of your vehicle and possibly cause an accident.

Instead, keep your foot on the gas and adjust your steering to stabilize the car. Once you are driving straight, slowly ease off the gas and make your way to the shoulder of the road. Still avoid braking – your flat will help slow down the car. Definitely do not stop in traffic. Slow down slowly until you can stop safely on the side of the road.

Stay Safe

Use your turn signal and change lanes carefully. If you can, aim towards the side of the road that is the same side that the flat tire is on. Move your car off of the roadway if possible to avoid rear-rend or side collisions. You don’t want to be close to fast moving traffic once you exit your vehicle.

Turn on your emergency flashers. If you are safely away from traffic and know how, change the tire. If not, call for roadside assistance. Stand away from your vehicle and wait for help to arrive.

Later, after help has arrived and your car is safe at home, take it to a mechanic to check to make sure there’s no residual damage. Our service department at Penske Automotive would be happy to assist you and check to make sure your vehicle is in tiptop shape.

What causes tire blowouts?

Sometimes, the cause of a flat is obvious – a nail or something in the road causes a gash. In other cases, most people think that overinflated in tires cause them to blow out, but it’s actually the opposite. An under-inflated tire will cause the rubber to flex beyond its normal elasticity.

This is why it’s incredibly important to check your tire pressure monthly. Buy a pressure gauge and put it in your glove box. It will only take you a few minutes to do, and can prevent more serious trouble further down the line. You can usually find the recommended tire pressure inside the driver’s door.

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Volvo Working on New Auto-Braking Technology to Prevent Deer Crashes

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It’s a common scene: the deer in the road stops, turns and stares, eyes flashing in your high beams, and the screech of your brakes fills your ears.  For some, the brakes prevent what could have been a terrible accident.  Others are not so lucky.  Deer may look harmless, but they have cost Americans $3.5 billion in damages.

Who should come to the rescue but Volvo?  In recent years, the Swedish manufacturer has focused on increasing safety.  In 2010, Volvo introduced a system in the S60 sedan that brakes for pedestrians.  This system includes a lane departure warning and pedestrian detection.

Now, the company is developing an Auto-Braking safety system that will detect movement on the side of the road and brake when a collision is imminent.  Swedish automakers studied moose and deer movements and analyzed that data to develop their technology.  Using infrared and radar technology, your Volvo car will be able to pick up motion off the side of the road and help you stay safe.

Although the safety system won’t be implemented for a few years, the announcement comes just in time for the fall, which is the worst season for deer collisions.  October, November, and December are deer mating and migration season, making the roads even more dangerous.  The news will surely be on the minds of many as they’re driving through deer-populated areas.

Deer collisions have dropped in the past couple of years, but Montana is still sixth on the list of states that have a high number of deer collisions.  The odds of hitting a deer are 1 in 93.  Hopefully Volvo’s new detection system will help decrease those odds in years to come.


In the meantime, while waiting for this technology to be perfected and implemented, here are some tips for staying safe:

  1. Slow down and stay alert
  2. Be wary around 6-9pm: this is when deer are most active
  3. Look for deer crossing signs
  4. Be careful in wooded areas
  5. Brake when you see a deer; swerving will confuse the animal and increases your chances of hitting another vehicle
  6. If you see one, look for more: deer travel in groups
  7. Wear your seat belt


If you do hit a deer, pull over carefully and call the police or animal control.  Do not attempt to touch the animal.  Call your insurance company when you get home.

Always be careful when driving and stay alert!

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How to Save the Most on Gas

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Since September, we’ve seen a steady decline in gas prices, but apparently they’re not falling fast enough.  Falling gas prices are typical in fall.  Compared to this time last year, the national average price of gas is about $0.70 more per gallon.  In Fall 2010, the average cost of gas was $2.71; this year, it’s 3.41.

While gas prices should continue to decrease over the next week, drivers will undoubtedly still be looking for ways to save money on gas.  Overall, drivers can save money by practicing safer driving and following their car maintenance guidelines.

Here are some tips to help you increase fuel efficiency:


Don’t Idle

While your car does use a little bit of gas to turn on, in general, if you are stopped for more than a minute, you’ll use more gas standing than you would use if you turned your car off and back on.  So if you are picking up your kids from school or waiting with them at the bus stop for longer than a minute, turn off the car and save gas.


Keep Your Tires Inflated

Properly inflated tires will reduce friction between the tire and the road, allowing you to get better gas mileage.  Make sure you fill up to the recommended tire pressure, and then continue to check your pressure with a tire gauge every month.


Follow Maintenance Guidelines

Your car was built to work a certain way, and if you skip getting your vehicle serviced, you might run into more problems than just poor fuel efficiency.  Check your driver’s manual to see when you need to change your oil, filter, etc.


Compare Gas Prices

…but don’t go crazy.  Look for the cheapest gas prices in the area.  However, if you have to drive ridiculously out of the way just to save a couple more cents per gallon, then you’ll probably waste more gas than you end up saving.


The Most Important Tip: Drive Safely

Tailgating is not only dangerous, but it consumes more fuel.  Every time the car accelerates, it uses more gas.  So when you have to slam on the brakes suddenly, then accelerate suddenly, you’re using more gas than you need to use.


Instead, keep a safer following distance. That way, when traffic ahead slows down or stops, you can ease off the gas and, if necessary, brake gently. Once you have reached the speed limit, the car does not use as much fuel to keep going, since inertia will carry it forward.  When you let the car slow down naturally, you won’t waste all that gas you used to accelerate in the first place.  Using cruise control can help you maintain your speed.



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