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Tremec TKO Transmissions Part 4 – How to Choose the Right One

So you have decided the advantages that the TKO five speed provides are worth the expense and effort. Now, the question is which one is the best match for your car? Do you want the extra deep first gear in the TKO-500, or would the closer gear spacing of the TKO-600 be a better match for your combination? Should you opt for the 0.82 overdrive ratio in the TKO-600 instead of the 0.64? If you have a Ford, which input shaft do you need?

The first determining factor when choosing a TKO is going to be your engine’s power output. Keep in mind that transmissions are rated for torque, not horsepower. The peak horsepower number doesn’t really matter much, it is torque that breaks things! The TKO-500 is rated for 500 lb.-ft. of torque, and the TKO-600 is rated at 600 lb.-ft. Even though both TKOs will stand up to considerably more torque than they are rated for, you still need to keep the torque capacity rating in mind.

The second thing you need to consider is your rear axle ratio. The general rule of thumb, with exceptions, is anything with a rear gear in the high twos or low threes (2.73, 3.08, 3.23, 3.36, etc.) will be a good candidate for the TKO-500. The low 3.27:1 first gear in the TKO-500 will give you much better off the line acceleration than a typical four speed, and help compensate for the “highway gear” in the rear axle. Anything with an axle ratio in the high threes and up (3.73, 3.90, 4.10, 4.30, 4.56, etc.) would be better suited to the TKO-600. With a rear axle ratio of 3.73:1 or higher (numerically), your car doesn’t need as much “help” off the line as the numerically lower axle ratios do, and the slightly taller overdrive of the TKO-600 with the 0.64 fifth gear will lower your highway RPM a little bit more than the 0.68:1 that is in the TKO-500. If you have an axle ratio in the mid-threes, (3.42, 3.50, 3.55 you could go with either one, and the right choice will depend on the third and fourth factors.

The third factor you need to look at is your rear tire size. If you have a really tall rear tire, the reduction in effective gear ratio that the tire provides needs to be taken into account. A tire that is 26-27″ tall is considered fairly normal for a muscle car. If you are running 30″ tall Mickey Thompsons, however, your tire height will make a 3.73:1 rear axle ratio perform more like a 3.25:1 axle ratio would with a 26″ tall tire!

The fourth thing to consider is your engine’s temperament, along with your driving habits. Do you have a relatively mild engine that is happy when cruising at 2000 RPM, or is your engine more high-strung and doesn’t really start to run cleanly until you hit 2800 RPM? Do you frequently drive long distances on the interstate at 75 MPH, or do you stick to secondary roads where you rarely go more than 60 MPH? It is very possible to get too much overdrive, and end up with a car that you can’t put into fifth gear unless you are running at least 80 MPH because at lower speeds the overdrive drops your engine RPM too much. That is when the TKO-600 with the 0.82 overdrive may be the best choice. Many people who participate in road racing prefer the TKO-600 with the 0.82 overdrive, because it keeps their engine in its powerband on a road course in fifth gear, and the 0.64:1 ratio would drop their RPM too low.

The last question to answer only applies to Ford owners. There are four different input shaft patterns available for the TKO in a Ford: 10 spline and 26 spline, short or long. The TKO-500 is available with either a 10-spline Ford pattern input shaft or a 26-spline GM pattern input shaft. The TKO-600 is only available with the stronger 26-spline GM pattern. For the input shaft length, basically you need to know what size and year engine you have, and what depth your bellhousing is. Ford has used several different bellhousing depths over the years, and there are more variations than I have room to get into here. Most Tremec distributors can help you determine what input shaft you need if you have the above information.

When choosing a TKO that is right for your car, you need to consider your engine’s torque output, your rear axle ratio, your tire size, your engine’s temperament, and your normal cruising speed. If you have a Ford, you will need to know the engine size and year, as well as the bellhousing depth. Once you understand how all these work together, you are ready to choose the transmission that suits your needs the best. For more information on TKO specifications, options, and the benefits of an overdrive, take a look at my other articles in this series.

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Make Sure Your Windshield Repair is the Best Possible

Driver’s Ed classes have long been famous for images of windshields with passenger and driver sticking out of them at wrong angles. In those cases, windshield repair is fairly irrelevant, but just as it is important to practice defensive driving – and wear a seatbelt to keep yourself intact – making sure that you do the best to avoid repeated auto glass repairs is vital too.

Repairs Should Be Done As Soon As Possible

The exact items covered before they let us take our driving tests vary between states and organizations, and of course, no one has the time or budget to teach everything, but far too many important things get left behind in the rush to drill in rules and regulations. Proper vehicle maintenance often gets short shrift, and care of your car glass even less.

Any time you drive, you probably see several cars with plastic or cardboard where a piece of car glass should be. It’s true that even the best auto glass specialist can’t always get to you immediately – if your vehicle is old or specialized or both, there may be cross-country shipping involved – but so many things are at risk when you put off repairs.

Consider It See-Through Security

Not only is a car with a broken window that much more tempting to a thief, but wind, weather, insects, and noise get in too. You never really appreciate how important your auto glass is until it isn’t there.

This applies even more directly to windshield repair. For starters, this is the one piece of glass you can’t cover with plastic and keep driving – at least not without getting into an accident or arrested while having an accident. It is your most important piece of glass as far as visibility, security, and structural integrity.

The windshield keeps you in the car. It’s not fun to whack your face against the glass in an accident, but when you consider the physics of even a fairly slow speed crash, without your windshield, it would be far worse.

Little Problems Get Bigger

Just because it’s easy to ignore chips in your windshield doesn’t mean you should. Chips grow into cracks. Believe it or not, the same thing applies to scratches; they may start out small, but with time and pressure, they will grow into a much bigger problem.

While not a lot of car windshields last long enough without getting broken to be sufficiently scratched to impair vision, it can happen. We all know how annoying the reflections of sunlight off the road or the dash can be and how they impact safe driving. Imagine that compounded by dozens of tiny scores all over. That is an accident waiting to happen.

Most car insurance allows for replacing your auto glass simply because you’re having a hard time seeing out of it, meaning that your windshield repair shouldn’t cost you that much out of pocket.

Furthermore, any good auto glass repair company offers mobile windshield replacement, meaning that they will come to you. So, whether the little chip is now a crack across your field of vision, or scratches are ganging up on you, the cost is minimal compared to the risk of not getting it done.

The Importance of Ambulance Services in Society

Certain situations in life require immediate medical care and a fraction of a second delay can drastically change somebody’s life. The ambulance service and paramedics are very important in society as they save hundreds of lives daily by responding to emergency calls. They operate from ambulance stations located in various areas with control centres that respond to emergency calls and dispatch them when needed. Whether the patient is in rural retreats, busy seaside resorts or large urban conurbations, they reach the emergency scene within minutes of the call.

The emergency ambulance service crew includes a technician and a paramedic. Once the paramedics arrive at the emergency scene they evaluate the situation and the condition of the casualty and decide whether to take them to the hospital or just treat them there. One of the important roles of the ambulance crew is to stabilize and treat patients quickly to prevent any mishap before the patient reaches the hospital.

They provide immediate and effective life-saving care in a safe and clinical working environment with maximum mobility. They are well trained in first aid skills to be able to deal with profuse bleeding, crush and fall injuries, cardiac arrests, road accidents, and much more.

During earlier times they were used to transport patients after the doctor or fire department rescue squad applied simple first aid. Mostly the patient would ride alone however, in some cases the doctor rode along in the ambulance. Today, ambulances come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes equipped with a huge range of essential pre-hospital emergency machines including heart defibrillators, intravenous drips, splints, oxygen, drugs and much more. All ambulances have radios installed in them. Many times ambulances also transport non-emergency patients that might be transferring to another hospital or treatment centre.

In some cases patients may be transported in an air ambulance which is basically an aircraft specially designed for providing emergency medical assistance in critical medical situations. An air ambulance is used when the patient has to be transported over a long distance or terrain or if the patient has to be quickly transported to a treatment centre. Air ambulances are equipped with basic equipment like ECG monitors, ventilators, medication and stretchers.

For more information regarding ambulance services in the UK refer to SearchMe4 online business directory.

Choosing a Driving School Which Is Right for You

So you need to choose a driving school for yourself or one of your family members and you wonder – what driving school would be right for you? While most of driving schools would do their job well, each school however might target their specific audience and support their specific set of services which might not work for you individually.

Below are the main checkpoints to consider when selecting a best driving school for you.

  1. License Types Your Driving School Supports. Check if your school provides training for car drivers, motorcycle drivers, commercial truck drivers and so on. Note, that school bus drivers usually require special training.
  2. Target Audience. Check if your school provides special courses for first-timers, teen-drivers, seniors and drivers with disabilities. Teen-drivers usually require special training approach which is different from training for seniors. If you are a handicapped citizen a car for your driving training might need special equipment as well as instructors skilled in training of that kind of students.
  3. Your School’s Total Years in Business. While the longest work history doesn’t necessarily translate to the best training services, years in business could be considered as a valuable indicator that your Driving School knows how to adapt to the turbulent market and can withstand competition well.
  4. School Status in DMV. Many states provide up-to-date information about local driving schools, their ratings, customer feedback etc. In Canada, for example, you can get a list of not-recognized Canadian driving schools in provincial DMV web sites, so you could filter out obvious mismatches right away.
  5. Pricing Your School Offers. Compare your school’s pricing to the pricing offered by other schools with the similar driving training services. To avoid unexpected expenses pay special attention to the fine-print. Make sure that you understand all hidden fees and charges. Ask for special offers. Many schools offer special packages with discounts which you might find interesting.
  6. Languages of Instruction Your School Supports. We are a nation of immigrants. If you are not the native English speaker getting training in your first language could be crucial for you. Check what languages other than English are supported in that driving school.
  7. Requesting Male or Female Instructor. If your family has strong cultural ties with your back country it might be important for you to request male or female instructor for your kid training. Make sure that the driving school of your choice addresses your needs here.
  8. Formal Training in Classes. Does your school provide formal training in classes? If yes – how many hours of formal training is included into your fee? Note that while being beneficial, in class training is not mandatory and often can be done online.
  9. Behind-the Wheel Training. Check how many hours you will get in behind-the-wheel training with that school. This is very important checkpoint. Too few hours might not be enough to pass the test in DMV. Too many hours might look like a “money-oriented” school.
  10. Free Pick-up and Drop-off Services. Most driving schools provide free pick-up and drop-off services for their students. However these free services normally apply to specific locations only (usually expressed in miles from driving school’s main office). If your pickup/drop-off location is outside of the supported area you still can get pick-up/drop-off services but with some conditions – for example, the time an instructor drives from the school office to your location could be counted towards your driving lesson time. Make sure that you double checked this rule with your school of interest.
  11. Success Rate. Most driving schools would proudly state that the success rate of their students is %99.99. Take these statements with a punch of salt. As of today – the success rate statistics is not officially tracked by DMV; hence the most of such optimistic statements are the subject of good faith only. Get a second opinion – ask your friends, colleagues or associates about your school of interest. You can also check on-line resources, forums and web communities to get the broader opinion pool.
  12. Free, No Obligation Initial Driving Lesson. Some schools provide free, no obligation one hour training lesson for new students. Ask if your school has this offer – try it for free and only then make your final decision.
  13. Auto Insurance Discounts. Many driving schools provide auto insurance discounts for their students. Check if your school is one of them.
  14. Car for Driving Test in DMV. By law, it is the duty of the candidate to provide safe, operable car for his test in DMV. Addressing this issue some schools provide discounted or even free car rent to their student for their test in DMV. Ask for this option from your school if you cannot provide your own car for DMV test.
  15. Car Fleet. Ask what types of vehicles your driving school will be using for your training. Old, worn out vehicles decrease the morale and won’t help to progress your driving skills in a timely manner. Besides that newer vehicles are usually safer. However don’t be over impressed by new cars proudly advertised by some schools – new car alone won’t replace instructor’s experience and his professional skills. So, use this checkpoint with caution.

Conclusion

Go through the selection check list provided above and you will get the best driving school you are looking for.

Note, that many from above discussed questions can be answered without leaving your home.

For example, you can find all driving schools in your location using online driving school directories.

Try online driving license tests if you prefer to skip optional in-class-training classes in driving school office. Those tests are available in the web for free or for very reasonable cost if you are looking for more in-depth training.

Get comprehensive reference of U.S. road signs with explanation of each sign by visiting online road sign web references.

And finally – know your state’s of residence DMV/DOL web site and make sure to visit it regularly for recent updates.

Vehicle Safety Alert: Faded Plastic Headlights Can Be Very Dangerous!

Many of today’s modern vehicles headlights are made from a hard plastic called Poly-Carbonate. The plastic is very lightweight and very strong, and most importantly, much cheaper to mass produce. Today’s modern vehicle designs call for dramatic looking headlight styles and the automakers love using plastic for the headlight lens for more than one reason: First of all, plastic is much cheaper to mass produce. Just as important, the plastic lens is also very strong and lightweight. The days of using real glass for the headlight lens are all but gone. The main reason is that it would simply cost a heck of a lot more to make the lens out of glass. Also glass is much heavier than plastic and can be much more dangerous in a collision. The lightweight plastic lens is what the all automakers will continue to use these days mainly because they are always trying to keep the vehicles production costs low, and the automakers also want to keep the vehicle lighter and more economical. While the plastic lens has its many plus sides, the major down side is that the plastic lens will fade dramatically in time. Fading plastic headlight lenses are a problem here to stay, and if the cloudy headlight lenses are not fixed, it can be very dangerous to the driver, (and other motorists) and that is the simple fact of the matter.

Do all plastic headlights fade? The answer is yes! Due to UV exposure, the plastic lenses on all headlight assemblies will become cloudy in time. There is just no way around it! If a plastic headlight lens is exposed to the sun, it will eventually get cloudy and fade. Most automakers will cover the cost for replacement within 3 years, but after that, you are on your own. A cloudy looking lens condition can get much worse in time if not restored. A headlight that is neglected can turn yellow, or even brown, or perhaps a combination of both. This will have a great effect on the ability of the headlight to project light properly. Translation: Poor light output! A faded headlight lens can cut the drivers visibility distance to less than half in some cases. This is a very dangerous position for any driver to be in! Would you drive at night with your sunglasses on? A poor working headlight is basically the same thing. Less light means less visibility! It is very dangerous if the driver cannot properly see the road ahead. With less light output, the driver will have much less reaction time because the headlight beam is simply not projecting enough light to safely see the road ahead.

Please check your headlights! Are they faded? Are they cloudy? Do they appear oxidized? Do they have a yellow or brown tint? These conditions are all caused by UV exposure and age, plus the condition will become worse as the vehicle is subjected to more sunlight. Simply put: The UV rays from the powerful sun will fade the headlight lenses just as it will fade exterior paint. The sun is just too strong for the plastic and it is very important for you to maintain your headlights! There are some simple inexpensive do it yourself kits on the market that can save you some of your hard earned cash, however the results can be very poor. The much smarter choice is using a professional headlight restoration service. First of all don’t let anyone convince you that your expensive headlight assemblies need to be replaced. The only reason for replacement is if there is some really bad sand pitting, or if there are major cracks in the lenses that would allow moisture to get inside the assembly. Also, don’t be fooled by some of the products on the market that claim to be quick restoration kits for headlights. Most of these kits are garbage! Again, I recommend using a professional headlight restoration service that guarantees the restoration to last. Please be safe out there at night, and please check your vehicle’s headlight condition as soon as possible!

How to Get an Almost New Car For Next to Nothing!

How would you like to get a great, almost new car for a very reasonable price? It is becoming more and more common for ordinary consumers, even those with bad credit, to be able to purchase a nearly new car at a very economical price. How, do they do that? They simply buy a car from one of the many car auctions that are cropping up all over the country.

So now people that are in need of a newer car have the choice of buying and owning a superb, expensive auto while not paying much at all by attending one of these auto auctions. This makes the dream on owning an almost new vehicle a reality for many consumers that become the highest bidder at one of these auctions.

Instead of paying an inflated amount to your neighborhood car dealer, you can buy direct from a source that sells cars at reasonable pricing. Yes, auto dealers do have to make a living so they offer you a price which includes large markups that must be passed on. Obviously these markups are going to increase the price you must pay and this makes the car expensive to purchase.

The majority of these auto auctions are organized by insurance companies, lenders, banks and government agencies, both local and federal. The vehicles are usually brought into a very large, central area from different parts of a state, or even from many states. The most numerous amount of cars are the ones that have been seized by the bank for the failure of the owner to make timely payments. There are also many vehicles of all kinds that have been seized by assorted government agencies from people who owe back taxes or have been put in jail for drug charges.

The preponderance of these vehicles are normally in excellent condition and may even include brand new models with a still valid warranty period. The auction will try to raise as much as possible so the lenders can be reimbursed for the defaulted amounts.

Did You Know?

There are auctions where only used cars are sold and then there are others where a large number of products, including new and used cars are being sold.

These auctions are affordable seeing that the selling amount of the vehicle is decided by the purchaser who wins the bidding session. The price of the car is exempt from any sort of supplementary amounts that were additional when the auto was initially bought from the dealer. The bidding in this variety of auction starts from a low price and depending on how many people in the crowd are interested in the car, you potentially can pick up a really,

Many of these auto auctions are advertised on the net so you can get an idea of what’s coming up in your area of the country. The easiest and most convenient way to find these auto auctions is to look for a car auction directory. There are huge databases and announcement boards of vehicle auctions, both current and in the future. This way you may be able to find an auction near your home and check out the cars in person.

Without exception, you need to do your homework on the type of vehicle you’re seeking, peruse the blue book prices for the cars you may want, make a listing and go for it! Who knows, you could acquire a brand new Hummer or Harley Davidson for half or less than it’s original market price!

Car Emergency Equipment: Must Haves for All Seasons

Emergencies arrive without notice at the most surprising time and in unexpected places. Imagine yourself driving in a desolate area at 1:00 am and suddenly something went wrong, driving and handling your car seems difficult and your tire just exploded. You also remember that the last house you passed by was almost more than 10 kilometers away. In this situation, preparedness is the only way out.

Having a roadside emergency kit can take you out from being stuck for a long time and even save your life. Either short or especially long distance driving, your vehicle must have some stuffs to help you in emergency situations. However, not all people carry an emergency kit and truth is, most actually don’t have one kept in their trunks. To come prepared for any emergency that might happen along your way, keep the items on this list as part of your emergency roadside kit.

  1. Cash instead of credit cards or ATMs will be a lot of help as not all places have ATM machines and stores that accept credit cards.
  2. Bottles of water, for drinking and repair purposes. Water will definitely help during engine overheating and when your battery water runs out.
  3. Ready to eat food like crackers, peanut butter, oatmeal, granola bars or other energy food. Don’t include foods that spoils easily as you wouldn’t know when an emergency would happen.
  4. First aid kit with some medicines like aspirin and Tylenol, bandages, scissors, gauzes, hot and cold compresses, burn cream, and antibiotic ointments
  5. Extra blanket for those living in cold places and during cold season.
  6. Extra clothes so you won’t have to wear one you’re wearing for the whole time you got stranded.
  7. Flash light and spare batteries to help you properly repair your vehicle when it’s dark.
  8. Battery Powered Radio for updates in cases where there is a typhoon or other calamity.
  9. Knife, preferably a Swiss army knife can do more other than simple cutting and slicing.
  10. For drivers who always bring their kids along, diapers, toys, and other children’s necessity
  11. Jumper cables, preferably 12-foot in length to help when you drain your battery because of turning on the lights or your other car features.
  12. Spare tire and jack can help you get back to the road if your problem is damaged or flat tire.
  13. Spare fuses will help restore your lights on after a blown fuse.
  14. Duct tape can temporarily fix many things like broken hoses, windshield wiper, windows, and act as temporary cover to some tanks, and many others.
  15. Headlamp or tail light for extensive travels to replace lights that might go out during the lengthy travel. In construction, LED lights live longer than halogen ones.
  16. Basic tool kit with pliers, screw drivers, hammer, wrenches, and a socket set fitting your car
  17. A set of flares will help you alert other drivers that your vehicle has broken down. It might help prevent accidents and will save your life and the life of the passengers in vehicles that may come across yours.
  18. Pocket warmers or small propane burners for snowy places or during winter season.
  19. A gallon of antifreeze is a must especially if its winter. Low level of coolant can cause severe engine damage so it’s best to always have a refill on hand.
  20. Rain Coat, umbrella, and other rain gear will help you not to get sick when get off the car when it’s raining or when the winter wind is blowing.

You may find this list filled with so much stuff to bring, but you surely can put everything in a nylon bag or at least in a plastic container. Your trunk is big enough to keep your only way out of roadside emergencies.

Auto Glass is More Complicated Then You Might Think

There are days when everything’s just right and there’s absolutely nothing better than driving down the highway. Tunes cranked, speed… reasonable, the wind whipping your hair as it races up behind you through your broken rear window to fill the cabin of your car with sound and fury signifying that it’s time to look into auto glass replacement; past time really.

Imagine What The Rock That Hit Your Window Could Do To Your Eyes

With all the debris that’s flying around roads surfing the wake of cars, trucks, and bikes, it’s a wonder your auto glass doesn’t break more often. Anyone who’s driven for even a relatively short time has tensed when the distinctive “chink” of a stone getting kicked up by the vehicle ahead of you sounds off your windshield. Drive long enough and you will do a lot more than tense up when physics and gravity get it just right and a hit becomes a chip, and a chip a crack that snakes across your windshield.

While it is so easy and tempting to ignore a little chip in your windshield, you never should. Sooner or later it will become a long crack creeping into and obscuring your vision. Just because auto glass for the front of your car is safety laminated, doesn’t mean several bad things won’t happen once the stress becomes too much and it gives way.

Car Windows Serve Many Purposes

Keeping bugs and road flotsam out of your face and eyes is really only the least of its purposes. Everyone has almost certainly seen something on television showing one of those ancient cars that had to be hand-cranked to start. In those days windshield glass – or window, or any kind of auto glass really – was a luxury, and until the invention of laminated, safety tempered glass, potentially quite dangerous. If you were one of the few to have a car, you drove with goggles, a scarf, your mouth shut and only in good weather.

Part of the reason for that was that there was no way to put a roof on a car or enclose it until the development of window glass that could serve as part of the load bearing structure. This is one reason why, though every window in your car but the windshield can manage for quite a while on duct-tape and plastic sheeting, security isn’t the only reason to find a reputable auto glass repair company and get it fixed.

The structure of your vehicle can eventually be compromised without that support and having a car cave-in is just too embarrassing.

Fixing A Crack Prevents A Bigger Bill

While chips mainly occur in the front, any window that presents with damage should be repaired immediately. Not only is it safer, it’s usually far less expensive. The Mythbusters may have been able to put a car back together with duct tape – more than likely it wasn’t street legal – most states require a functioning windshield.

GPS Buyers Guide For RV’ers

Thinking about a new GPS? The task of choosing the one that’s right for you can be very intimidating. With so many great brands, models and features to choose from, how do you know which one to buy?

When picking a GPS, the most important question to ask is “What do I want to do with it?” Any automotive GPS unit will tell you where you are and where to go, without getting you lost. As RV’ers, we all have a set of basic needs our GPS must fulfill. Beyond that, it’s completely up to you whether you want, and are willing to pay the extra money for certain features.

Pre-Loaded Maps

The first factor to consider is what maps you need pre-loaded in your GPS. That, of course depends on where you plan to travel. Many systems come with road maps for the entire United States and Canada loaded into their main memory. Some come with all of North America and some come with Europe as well. This gives you the luxury to go anywhere without worrying about whether or not you loaded the proper maps; it also makes the device ready-to-roll, right out of the box. Pre-loaded maps occupy part of the main memory of the GPS; any excess main memory can be used for additional maps, MP3 music, or custom POI’s. This brings us to memory capacity.

Memory Capacity

How much memory your GPS can hold is very important as well. If you purchase a unit that has very little extra main memory, and can’t be expanded; you may find yourself unable to add features or points-of-interest (POI) when you want. Many GPS models only contain enough main memory to hold their pre-loaded maps, with very little left over. This is only a problem if they do not have a memory expansion slot. A memory expansion slot allows you to add memory to the GPS should you ever need it. Most take a Secure Digital (SD) card for memory expansion. SD cards are inexpensive and a great way to add memory to your unit when you need it. More expensive units typically have a considerable amount of their main memory free for your use, and also have a memory expansion slot. Less expensive units typically use most or all of their main memory for built-in features, but most of them still have a memory expansion slot.

Text To Speach

Another important feature to look for is “text-to-speech.” Most voice-prompting GPS units will give an audio notification such as “Turn left in 300 feet” or “Take next exit.” A unit with a text-to-speech function will speak not only the direction but the name of the street as well: “Turn left onto Mulberry Lane in 300 feet” or “Take Exit 23A.” This is a huge help for many people, especially RV’ers, as they won’t even have to glance at the screen to know where to go.

Live Traffic Service

A great new feature to consider is live traffic service. Available in larger cities, a subscription to a traffic service gives you real-time, up-to-the-minute updates on traffic and road conditions. Freeway’s blocked from Exit 23 to Exit 29? Your GPS will notify you and offer an alternative route. After a free trial period, traffic service typically costs about $7/month. Some Garmin units also offer XM Radio services, so that you can get not only live traffic but XM Satellite Radio as well.

Even beyond a typical traffic service is the new Enhanced MSN Direct service. Many of the upper-end Garmin units, like the Nuvi 780 come with this capability. With MSN Direct, you can check the weather, avoid traffic backups, compare local gas prices, get enhanced movie listings, stock information, news and local events when you travel with your unit. Even plan trips from the convenience of your computer, via Windows Live Local, and then wirelessly send locations to your GPS. Like a traffic service, MSN Direct carries a monthly charge after the free trial period.

Bluetooth Enabled

One of the newest additions to GPS systems is the integration of a Bluetooth chip. If both your cell phone and GPS unit are Bluetooth-enabled, you’ll be able to pair them up for hands-free calling, dial-a-POI features, and more, making your automotive electronics suite completely integrated. Many campgrounds POI lists like the CoolRVToyz Ultimate RV Parks & Campgrounds Directory takes advantage of this feature on the Garmin GPS units and allows you to dial a campground hands-free from a touch of your GPS screen.

MP3 Enabled

Another new addition to GPS systems is the ability to play MP3 music. By loading your favorite MP3 music or audio book into your GPS you can play it either through the GPS’ speakers or your in-dash radio. Many of the better GPS units also come with an FM transmitter to link them directly to your in-dash radio so the music comes out of your vehicle’s stereo system. This is particularly useful since the GPS will automatically lower the volume of the music to give you directions, or if you receive a phone call.

Travel Guides and TourGuide(TM)

One of the most exciting new features is Garmin’s new TourGuide(TM) capability. With TourGuide(TM) you can purchase completely guided tours for your GPS. Start the TourGuide(TM) and simply follow the tour. Your GPS will guide you to points of interest, explain them and even show you photos. It’s like having your own tour guide right along for the ride.

Conclusion

Among the most popular GPS navigation systems for RV’ers are the Garmin nuvi 200, 360 and 680, the Lowrance iWAY 600C, the Garmin StreetPilot c550, the Magellan Maestro 4040 and CrossOver GPS, and the TomTom ONE 3rd Edition. So which GPS is the “best?” That depends entirely on your needs, your preferences and your budget.

Antique Car Museum Guide – Virginia Car Museums

You don’t have to go far in the state of Virginia to find an antique car museum. Virginia is home to at least eight (or nine, if you stretch your definition of “car” to include tanks!). Here is a listing of all the vintage car collections I can find information on in Virginia.

The Car and Carriage Caravan Museum at the Luray Caverns traces the history of transportation in America. Items on display include horse-drawn carriages, coaches, wagons, and early automobiles. The automotive collection includes an 1892 Benz, a 1908 Baker Electric, a 1913 Stanley Steamer, and Rudolph Valentino’s 1925 Rolls Royce. You must purchase an admission to the Luray Caverns to get in to the museum. (540) 743 – 6551

The Roaring Twenties Antique Car Museum in Hood features 32 vintage cars on display, mostly from the 1920s and 1930s. The collection includes examples from Carter, Star, Stephen, Cleveland, Hupmobile, Paige, Nash, Essex, Packard and Cadillac. There are also horse-drawn carriages, old farm implements, and period advertising on display. (540) 948 – 6290

The Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke has cars and other vehicles from nearly every decade of the twentieth century. The museum focuses primarily on the railroad industry, but also has an aviation and aerospace section. (540) 342 – 5670

Fred’s Car Museum in Appomattox holds more than sixty five antique cars, dating from 1906 up to 1980. Highlights of the collection include a 1906 Schacht, a 1914 Saxton, a 1920 Piano Box Buggy, a 1936 Packard, and a very rare 1939 Lincoln V-12 limo. (434) 352-0606

The Accomack-Northampton Antique Car Museum in Parksley features a 1922 Durant, a 1935 Auburn, a 1956 Thunderbird, and lots of automobilia. (757) 665 – 6161

Eavers Classic Cars and Collectibles Museum in Staunton has over twenty classic cars on display, including a genuine 1965 Shelby AC Cobra, Elvis Presley’s last Cadillac, and a 1959 Devin sports car. (540) 337 – 1126

Old Cranks Motor Car Museum in Galax has a unique assortment of antique cars including a one-cylinder Orient Buckboard, a Detroit Electric and a Stanley Steamer. (276) 236 – 5114.

The Wood Brothers Racing Museum in Stuart covers 58 years of racing history. You can view the 1971 Purolator Mercury Cyclone, a 1989 Neil Bonnet Thunderbird, and a 1937 Glen Wood Ford Coach. There are also trophies, racing suits and helmets, and tons of other racing memorabilia. (276) 694 – 2121

The AAF Tank Museum in Danville doesn’t have antique cars, but I couldn’t leave them out! Their collection includes 117 tanks and artillery pieces, plus over twenty thousand other military related artifacts dating all the way back to 1509! (434) 836-5323

Quite a variety for the automotive enthusiast to choose from if you are passing through Virginia, or live nearby. As always, call ahead for information on hours and holiday schedules before making the trip.