Posts Tagged ‘tips’

How to steer clear of poor visibility

fog on roadPoor driving visibility is another problem which is taken lightly by most motorists. The problem is aggravated by a lot of environmental factors that increase poor visibility even for drivers who may have excellent eyesight. Here are some of the most common factors and some tips on how to neutralize them.

5 factors that increase the instance of poor visibility

  1. Very few governments the world over are strict when it comes to testing the eyesight of those applying for a driver’s license. Even the UK which has one of the most stringent eye exams for new license applicants don’t require a re-test until the driver reaches the age of 70;
  2. Many motorists today are unaware that they have vision problems and more than half of those who wear corrective glasses and contact lenses admit that they take them off while driving;
  3. Very few drivers regularly check if their windshield wipers and washers are fully functional before driving the vehicle;
  4. When driving during twilight, there is a short period of time when our vision is very poor while we try to get accustomed to the darkening environment;
  5. Natural conditions such as the sun’s glare, dust, rain, snow, etc.

10 tips on how to improve visibility for these situations

  1. Take the time to have your eyesight checked regularly, even when the law does not require it;
  2. To relieve or prevent the strain of eye fatigue, move your eyes from time to time and refrain from staring too long at a fixed point. Some contact lenses can actually increase the chance of eye fatigue. It is better to wear glasses instead of contacts while driving;
  3. It is a good practice to keep a spare pair of spectacles in your car;
  4. To reduce glare from the lights of incoming traffic and even from the sun, light tint and anti-reflection coating can be applied to your spectacles or even your windshield;
  5. Of course, never wear tinted glasses or visors after dark or during conditions of poor visibility such as heavy rain, fog or snowfall;
  6. When taking medication, ask the doctor whether such medicine may impair your vision or slow down your reflexes;
  7. Keep your windows clean. Make sure that your defogger and windshield wipers work and that windshield washers are filled correctly;
  8. Be wary when driving during twilight and turn on your running lights for other people on the road to see you better;
  9. When driving at night, adjust your rear view mirror to avoid the beam of the headlights from the vehicles behind you from hitting your eyes directly;
  10. And last but certainly not least, if you have someone sitting in the passenger seat, let that person help you watch out for road signs and incoming hazards.

When it comes to the problem of road visibility, you can’t be too complacent. Regularly test your eyesight, slow down when necessary, always take care and don’t be embarrassed to ask help. Just remember, as Dave Barry says:

The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above-average drivers.

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By Natasha Joseph


AutoTerminal.com Africa - premier distributor of new and used quality RHD and LHD vehicles from Japan, USA and Thailand

The soaring inflation rate and high petrol costs may have put the brakes on the market for new cars, but the prices of used cars have been “driven down quite significantly”, says the Retail Motor Industry (RMI).

People looking to purchase used cars are entering “a buyers’ market”, says RMI CEO Jeff Osborne.

“There’s a huge value in used cars; there’s never been a better time to buy,” said Osborne. “There’s a surplus (of used cars) that dealers need to sell.”

He said there was a great deal of “consumer choice” when it came to the variety of cars available on the second-hand market, and that prospective used car buyers were in a good position to negotiate with dealers for lower prices.

Pierre Carstens, manager of Auto-Pedigree in Bellville, said that because the dealership specialised in one- or two-year-old cars, it was “doing fine”.

“Our prices are lower than new cars, and people are going for something close to new,” Carstens said.

Heinie Brink, a salesperson with Burchmore’s Car Auctions in Milnerton, said the company had seen “an increase in vehicles coming through for auctions”.

“There are more people on the floor (at auctions) looking for bargains, using the repossession market,” Brink said.

Osborne said that although banks had been repossessing up to 6 000 cars a month over the past nine months, this number seemed to be “stabilising” as more people entered into restructured payment plans with their banks before being threatened with repossession.

Absa’s managing executive of vehicle and asset finance, Marcel de Klerk, said the company had repossessed 1 360 vehicles in August, and had repossessed, on average, between 1 300 and 1 400 vehicles each month this year.

A number of these vehicles were “high ticket cars”, indicating that their owners fell into a high income bracket. This indicated that not only South Africa’s “middle market” was hard hit by the rising cost of living, he said.

However, De Klerk said, there had been “a definite stabilisation” in the number of people falling into arrears with their car payments since April, and this trend had been consistent up to August.

“I firmly believe (repossessions) will start to decline by the end of the year,” he said.

He said Absa was restructuring clients’ accounts and only granting vehicle finance to people “if they can afford it”.

“The last thing we want to do is repossess. The bank and the client lose money. The motor industry will remain under pressure. I don’t see an increase in sales until 2010.”

Osborne said that even the new car market appeared to be stabilising. It was 20 percent down from the same period last year, but this seemed to be “levelling off”, he said.

“We sincerely hope it won’t drop more, and we’re not expecting a recovery (of sales) inside of a year.”


Source: http://www.iol.co.za

This article was originally published
on page 6 of Cape Times on September 02, 2008

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Tahoe Hybrid

Next generation "American" car

Let’s face it, American brands like Ford, Chrysler and GM are notorious for their gas guzzling SUV’s and economy models with often shoddy quality – but all that is about to change. If you are planning to import used left hand drive (LHD) cars from the US, your options just got better.

To survive against the manufacturing efficiency of the Japanese, the design brilliance of the Germans and their ongoing struggle with the unions, Detroit’s Big Three are striving to decrease overheads, increase productivity and improve product quality. This frantic struggle for competitiveness, coupled by aggressive investments of foreign auto makers in the country has led to a surge of relatively cheaper, more reliable and not to mention better looking LHD cars.

LHD buyers who crave for the quality, safety features and fuel efficiency of Japanese cars used to import directly from Japan and then have the right hand drive (RHD) units converted to LHD. Steering conversions can present certain disadvantages. Incompetent conversions can compromise the road worthiness, safeness and even performance and handling of the vehicle. Not to mention the fact that it entails an additional cost.

Fortunately, original LHD’s by popular Japanese makers like Toyota, Honda and Nissan are widely available in the US. In fact, the “Made in USA” label which used to be proudly flaunted by American brands like Ford and GM is now more appropriate for Toyota, Nissan and Honda.

The Toyota Camry has more US-made components (80%) than the Ford Fusion (30%)

The Toyota Camry has more US-made components than the Ford Fusion

Consider these cars as examples. Only 35% of the components of the Chrysler’s PT Cruiser are made in the US. And this distinctively “American” car is produced in a car factory in Mexico. Then we have the Ford Fusion which contains only 30% US-made components. On the other hand, Toyota Camry contains 80% US-made components, Honda Accord 70% and Nissan Altima 65%. They are also produced in car plants across America.

Although it gets harder to define what an “American car” is nowadays, what is more important is that excellent cars from the US – both Japanese and American brands – are finding their way across the globe as new or used car exports. If you factor in the current weakness of the U.S. dollar, then a lot of great bargains can be had for car dealers as well as end users in countries fortunate enough to use left hand drives.

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A regular person’s dream ride, no matter what type of car, will have high tech features just short of James Bond’s vanishing Aston Martin.  It wreaks havoc on our sense of proportion when we find a used car with an entertainment system, navigation, and all the gadgetry that we associate with the car of our dreams.  A vehicle priced too high could end up looking like a rare bargain.  If you want to buy a used car like a pro, you may want to steer clear of these new car features.

Navigation Systems. Many authorities on assigning used car values consider this as an additional asset.  The fact is that this accessory usually only works in the vehicle’s country of origin.  Some of them only require you to upload maps of your area for the system to work.  But downloading the maps to your flash drive still presents an extra cost.  So do your homework and find out the type of navigation system you are buying and if maps of your area are indeed available.

Built-in DVD Monitors. LCD screens that are built into the car are becoming quite popular.  Sometimes they are imbedded in the front row’s headrests, mounted on the space between the front row seats, or even on the dashboard panel.  You’d probably gladly pay a bit more for this gorgeous extra.  Don’t.   They easily malfunction and are quite expensive to replace.  Instead, buy a portable DVD player.  It has a bigger screen and is easier to use in and out of the car.

Satellite Radio Receivers. This high tech accessory is perfect for those who demand crystal clarity when tuning in to their favorite radio stations; provided, of course, that they are willing to pay an outrageous sum for subscription.  Companies which provide satellite radio service have their own specific receivers which can let you listen to their own specific radio stations, depending on your specific subscription.  As to which of these companies will continue to exist in the near future, I’m afraid there is nothing specific at the moment.

Removable Third-Row Seats. This ingenious feature, just like the SUV craze, is all but gone now.  Not just because people are now looking for more fuel efficient vehicles but because they realize that if you needed the space while you are away from home and you manage to survive removing the 50 pound third row furniture, there’s no place to store them.  If you are really willing to shell out some cash for an extra space, look for third row seats that fold on the floor.

Panoramic Roofs. Glass sunroofs that stretch from the back to the front of a vehicle are dangerous.  Debris can crack and break the glass during an accident and there were even cases when passengers were thrown through them.  Besides, a damaged sunroof is tough and quite expensive to fix.

Run-Flat Tires. If you are worried about running a flat tire, use the spare.  Run-flat tires will give you a harsher ride.  Although they can keep you from worrying about holes in your rubber, run-flat tires will still slowly but surely drill a hole in your pocket as they lower your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

Keyless Entry. Yes, James Bond never used a key.  He never worried about replacement cost in case the remote got lost or damaged either.  And when the gadget failed, the director can always call for a second take.  Because these tiny contraptions do fail; and when they do, I hope you don’t get mistaken for a burglar when you try to jimmy the lock on your car, Agent 007!

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How to rule out deceptive rollback

Odometer tampering is an underrated risk every used car buyer must contend with. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that odometer fraud results in consumer losses of more than $1 billion annually. But many countries around the world are not putting enough effort to combat this threat in terms of legislating specific laws and informing the public.

But what is odometer fraud, anyway? Odometer fraud is a common scam wherein sellers roll back the mileage reading of a vehicle. This, of course, falsely inflates its value. When vehicles with more than 100,000 miles on them have their odometers clocked back to about half of its actual mileage, buyers end up paying a lot more than the vehicle’s real worth – not just in the buying price but also in the subsequent cost of repairs that the vehicle inevitably brings.

Make sure the next pre-owned vehicle you purchase doesn’t have a tampered odometer. It can be difficult but certainly not impossible to detect odometer tampering. Here are some practical ways to do it.

  • If you are importing the vehicle and can’t inspect it in person, make sure that the company you are importing from has a reliable odometer inspection service, preferably by an independent third party;
  • Check the title and ownership history documents to see if the mileage reading on the documents have been altered;
  • Check the service records and look for service stickers inside the door or under the hood that may give the actual mileage;
  • When buying from a private seller, check if the car is being sold immediately after a new title was issued – the new title could have been obtained because an alteration of the mileage reading was apparent on the old title;
  • If you could inspect the vehicle in person, look for loose screws or scratch marks around the dashboard and misalignment of the digits (especially the 10,000 digit);
  • Check for inconsistencies: vehicles with low mileage readings usually still have their original parts such as batteries, hoses and clamps, and they shouldn’t show heavy wear on the seats, arm rest and steering;

Digital Odometers

Many new cars have digital odometers and a lot of consumers believed that these modern mileage counters were a lot more tamper-proof than the mechanical kind. The sad fact is, given the right tools – a diagnostic computer and a software program readily downloadable from the net, for free – anyone can make the alteration in mere minutes. And what makes it even worse is that an electronic rollback is much harder to detect.

Be extra careful when buying used vehicles with digital odometers. The best way to ensure that they were not tampered with is by checking whether the mileage data on the vehicle’s ownership history report and service records correspond to its current mileage reading. A vehicle used privately runs at an average of 20,000 to 30,000 kilometers per year. If the odometer reading is inconsistent with its age, take extra care in scrutinizing its history.

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How the same vehicle models are named differently across global markets

In the vicious battle for market share and brand recognition, car manufacturers have come up with some interesting names for their vehicle models.  Some of them are quite compelling, others are simply memorable while others still are just plain ridiculous.  But if you’re wondering why some European favorites are unheard of in Japan even though they are made by Japanese manufacturers, the reason is that some car models in the Japanese domestic market get a name-change when they are released in the North American  and European markets.

Here is a useful guide on how these same models are named differently.






Lexus IS200/300


Lexus GS300/400/430


Scion xB



Caldina (earliest model)

Carina E Estate

2003 Caldina

2003 Avensis Estate

1992 Camry Prominent

1992 Lexus ES230


Lexus LS430

2004 Corolla Spacio

2004 Corolla Verso


Carina E





Fun Cargo

Yaris Verso


Lexus RX300/330

Hilux Surf

4 Runner

Ipsum (earliest model)



Avensis Verso


Scion xA

Kluger V


Land Cruiser 100

Land Cruiser

Land Cruiser 100/Amazon

Land Cruiser Cygnus

Lexus LX470

Land Cruiser Prado

Lexus GX480

1996-2000 Land Cruiser Prado

Land Cruiser 90/Colorado


MR2 Spyder

MR2 Roadster






1997 Camry


Lexus SC430

Sprinter Carib

2001 Corolla Estate

2006 Vitz

2006 Yaris


Pontiac Vibe


2006 Lexus ES300/430



Acura TSX


1998 Ascot Innova

1998 Accord

1986 City

1986 Jazz


Civic/Acura CSX


CR-X delSol

Civic del sol


2000 Domani

2000 Civic

2000 Domani

2000 Acura EL






Horizon (Isuzu Bighorn)

Acura SLX



1995-2003 Inspire/Saber

1995-2003 Acura TL


Acura RSX


Acura Integra

Integra (only Type R)

Jazz (Isuzu Mu)


2004 Lagreat

2004 Odyssey


Acura RL



Acura MDX


Acura NSX


1998 Odyssey

Odyssey/ Isuzu Oasis



Acura Vigor


1997 Avenir

1997 Primere Estate

1996 Bluebird SSS (U13)

1996 Altima

2005 Bluebird Sylphy

2005 Almera


Infiniti I30/35

Maxima QX


Infiniti Q45

FairLady Z


FairLady Z (Z32)



Infiniti M45

2004 Gloria

2004 Infiniti M45

Leopard (F31)

Infiniti M30

Leopard J Ferry

Infiniti J30





1999 Mistral

1999 Terrano 2

Primera (P10/P11)

Infiniti G20


Pulsar (earliest model)


2000 Pulsar

2000 Almera


Patrol GR

Silvia (S14)




Infiniti G35

2005 Sunny

2005 Sentra

2004 Terrano

2004 Pathfinder

Terrano Regulus

Infiniti QX4

Tiida/Tiida Latio



Almera Tino


2006 Airtrek

2006 Outlander

Chariot/Chariot Grandis

Space Wagon


Montero Sport

Pajero Sport/Shogun Sport

Delica Spacegear

Space Gear



Lancer Evolution

Lancer Evolution

Lancer/Carisma GT Evolution


Galant Estate









Pajero io

Pajero Pinin/Shogun Pinin


Space Runner



Mazda 6

1996 Autozam Revue

1996 121


Mazda 3



Cronos/Enfini MS-6



Mazda 2

Eunos 500

Xedos 6

Eunos Presso Autozam AZ-3





Millenia/Eunos 800


Xedos 9


Mazda 5




Sentia (First Model) Enfini MS-9




Grand Move





2005 Storia

2005 Sirion



Mira Gino




Atrai 7

Hijet MPV



Suzuki Forenza









Escape/Mercury Mariner








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