Archives for January 2013

Do You Drive With Shoes?

driving without shoes MinnesotaIt’s winter in Minnesota, so of course you do! But what about in warmer months? Do you ever drive without shoes? If you’ve ever kicked off a pair of flip-flops or high heels while driving, you may have wondered if you are breaking the law. If you live in a couple other states that’s the case, but not in Minnesota. While not the most safe decision, it is actually legal to drive without shoes.

Obviously having a pair of shoes in the vehicle with you is critical, in case you have car trouble and need to get out of the road to fix a tire or walk anywhere. In that case, flip-flops or high-heels may only *slightly help anyway. Here are some other interesting laws in Minnesota of which you may or may not be aware.

What Exactly is E-85 at the Gas Station?

what is E-85 fuelMany people see E-85 at gas stations, particularly across the Midwest. Unless you own a flex-fuel vehicle, however, you are not likely to ever pump E-85. It becomes something on a sign that we look past to see the other prices and options.

E-85 is a gasoline and ethanol-mixed fuel. The “E” stands for ethanol, and the “85” stands for the percentage ratio of the mix. In E-85 fuel, 85% is ethanol and 15% is traditional gasoline. Just as diesel fuel takes a specific diesel engine and vehicle to utilize, so does E-85. It requires a flex-fuel vehicle designed to burn either regular gasoline or E-85. Considered a move toward alternative or renewable energy, ethanol is produced from corn and is blended with gasoline for a new fuel option for flex-fuel vehicle owners.


Things That Can Wear on Your Tires’ Nerves

wear on your tires nervesCar tires are an investment in your safety! You cannot afford not to keep them in good condition. There are some things that wear on your tires’ nerves, causing them to age prematurely.

Improper Inflation

As the leading cause of tire-related crashes, under inflation is also a major cause of premature tire wear. When your car tires are under-inflated they begin to wear unevenly, mostly around the outer edge and extra pressure is put on the actual framework of the tire which can cause splitting in the treads. Not only is this dangerous and wears your tires quickly, but it also causes extra fuel consumption. With the price of gasoline, who needs that?

Much like under inflation, over inflating your tires also causes premature wear and is the second leading cause of tire-related crashes. Over inflation will cause wear mostly down the center of your tread pattern and can cause cracking in the sidewalls. Check your tire pressures regularly and keep them at the proper inflation level for your vehicle.

Suspension and Brake Systems

Poorly maintained suspension and brake systems will drastically reduce the lifespan of your car tires. Brakes that lock up or drag under aggressive driving conditions, or are worn will cause your tires to wear unevenly. Loose or worn suspension parts will cause your tires to rub against the road surfaces rather than smoothly roll; this can also quickly wear tread.

Failure to Rotate Tires

Not rotating tires at the proper intervals can mean unnecessary wear on tires. Since your front tires wear faster than your back tires, not rotating them means uneven wear between the tires.

Pot Holes

Living in Northern conditions, pot holes are a common occurrence and it is likely that even when trying to be careful you have run into your share of them. These can cause rapid tire wear for several reasons, the main being knocking your tire out of balance. Even what may seem like a small pot hole can cause damage to your tire (sometimes not visible damage) which can cause damage to the cords, and/or your tire to become unbalanced and wear unevenly. Car tires are also susceptible to premature wear if your vehicle’s alignment is affected by a particularly rough pot hole, sliding on ice into a curb, or a suspension component like a strut is broken or loosened by the jarring motion.

Car tires are one of the most important safety features of your vehicle and should be replaced when necessary. Following some of these simple tips will help extend the life of your tires. If you question if one of your tires has been damaged, let us take a look. We want you SAFE on the road!


Cool Travel Apps for Kids on Road Trips in 2013

Kids these days are far more comfortable with technology than any previous generation. A tablet or Smartphone can go a long way toward pacifying youngsters for a long journey. Parents who are tired of the squabbles and whining that come with road trips will probably agree that a silent back seat is one of the most significant benefits of mobile computing. One of the most important tips for traveling with kids is to get the right apps for your mobile device.

The best apps will depend on your child’s age and personal tastes. Here are a few ideas of apps that might be good for your next road trip.

For kids under six years of age:

  • Cobypic: This app comes in both free and full versions and provides pictures to color and the tools with which to do it. Cobypic is much more than just an electronic coloring book. It allows pictures taken with the device’s camera to become a part of what is being colored and implements textures into the coloring experience. Cobypic encourages kids to express themselves with color and to pay attention to details.
  • Memory Train:  Players can improve their memory with the help of Spacey the elephant. They are shown a series of objects and asked to recall such elements as their shape and color after they have gone out of sight. The game is fast paced most children should find it engaging and entertaining.

For kids ages six 6 and up:

  • Mad Libs:  Many may be familiar with the older version where ad libbed nouns and verbs are used in a story to produce funny results. The electronic version operates on the same principle.
  • The Night Sky: This app is perfect for those interested in astronomy, or it could be used to develop that interest. Simply point the device at the night sky anywhere and it will provide information on the visible constellations. It is the perfect way to make learning fun.

One of the more important tips for traveling with kids is that apps should be installed prior to trips, preferably where there is strong, reliable Internet. Mobile Internet is not always consistent and slow downloads can lead to frustration.