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A Perfect Gift for Father

As you age you tend to see things in a different light. Gift giving over the Holidays was never my thing, nor was giving on birthdays. I was glad to be on the receiving end but seldom gave anyone else gifts. Part of the reason for me not giving was for financial reasons but there was also a level of maturity that I had not yet reached. My father just recently turned 60 and he and I have developed a bond over riding. He rides a Honda Shadow and I ride a Honda 919.

Although our bikes are on different ends of the riding spectrum, we still have that bond and I know riding has brought us closer together. For his 60th birthday I wanted to do something special, I wanted to buy him something that I know he would definitely enjoy, a pair of motorcycle saddlebags.

I already knew where I was purchasing his saddlebags, from Viking Bags, I just didn’t know which style would best fit his Shadow Ace. I have purchased things from Viking Bags and I have never been let down, their selection is limited for the sport bike crowd but their quality classic bike gear is anything but.

Although I am not new to riding, nor new to saddlebags, I knew enough to know that fit is always an issue that concerns anyone buying saddlebags for obvious reasons. I have seen saddlebags installed so poorly that they look unsightly and make the rider uncomfortable as well, I didn’t want this to happen to me. I have even seen saddlebags installed backwards! I have also seen saddlebags that really didn’t fit the look of the bike and just looked out of place. If I was going to do one thing, it was be thorough in my selection process.

The selection process started by looking at the Viking Bags website. I used the drop down menu on the left and selected Honda Saddlebags. After clicking there it brought me to the Honda Motorcycle Saddlebag Page. From there was able to see which models Viking Bags has saddlebags for. This can be a blessing and a curse though, if you don’t know which model you’re looking for you can easily become overwhelmed by the amount of models available. I’m assuming it will probably be easier to stay with the left hand menu and navigate that way. I clicked on the 1100 Shadow section so it can only show me the Shadow models with the 1100 cc engines and further narrow my selection.  The next page gave me a listing of all of the saddlebags that Viking Bags has to offer.

If there is one thing I know about my father, it is that I know he’s not a flashy guy. He likes to keep things simple and effective and stays away from the flashy clothes, and accessories. Knowing his tastes, I wanted to look for a pair of saddlebags that would stay in theme with the rest of his clean bike, nothing too flashy. Since he doesn’t have anything studded on this bike up to this point, I wanted to keep that classic look by getting him a pair of saddlebags that were not studded. The last page I looked at was their saddlebags page where I was able to see which all the saddlebags available for my father’s Shadow. I picked the Charger series saddlebags because those have two simple buckles not minimal flash. They were under $200 for the pair with tax and shipping combined so I was happy and so was my father.

The opening of the present was quite a sight. My father had no idea that I was getting him some saddlebags so he was really shocked when he opened his present and saw them there. You should have seen him, he jumped for joy and ran over and gave me a bear hug, one that only a father could. We haven’t had the chance to install them yet but I’m sure that will be yet another bonding experience over the weekend. If there’s one thing that I know we can bond over it’s a passion for motorcycles.


What to do when you have a car accident abroad

The first thing you should do after being in a car accident abroad is ensure that nobody needs urgent medical treatment and that all parties are safe and not in any immediate danger. This includes clearing the road if possible but not if it puts you in danger.

The next step would be to inform the police and get a copy of the police report. If you need an interpreter now would be the time to ask for one.

You should then:

  • Make notes about what occurred during the incident
  • Take photographs of the scene to use as evidence, this should include pictures of the vehicles, number plates, damage and positions on the road. Aswell as any potential hazards that may have contributed to the accident such as ice.
  • Ensure that you exchange insurance details
  • Get contact details of any witnesses at the scene
  • It is important that you don’t apologise or admit liability as this could be used against you in a claim

If you are travelling in europe it is important that you ensure that you understand all the rules of the road relevant for the country you are visiting.

Which insurers do I call?

If you were driving your own vehicle make sure you tell your insurance company about the accident as soon as you can even if you do not wish to make a claim. You should give your insurance company as much information about the accident as you can, this will help them to process your claim. Key things you should do before you travel abroad

  • Check your car insurance is valid abroad before you travel.
  • Ideally contact your insurer at least a month before taking your vehicle abroad
  • Many insurance companies offer third-party cover while overseas, not comprehensive cover. This could leave you out of pocket if there is damage to your vehicle

If you were driving a hire vehicle and have an accident you should report your accident to the local Police before you come back to the UK. Make sure you do not admit liability as this can affect your car hire insurance claim. At Claims Hull we would advise you to contact your hire car company as soon as possible, make sure you give them as much information as possible about the accident. Once you are home it may be a good idea to write to the hire car company with a full report of the accident.

Can I make a compensation claim in England?

In most cases you can make a claim in England for your car accident. You just have to ensure that you have reported the car accident you have been involved in to the relevant authorities abroad. You also need to make sure to retrieve any insurance and registration information from the third party involved.

Enjoy your holiday but always be road safe. Don’t drink and drive and be aware of all the relevant rules of the road you should follow in order to have a safe and happy holiday.



Five Ways To Save Money On Your Automobile Expenses

Automobile expenses add up over time, and sometimes people end up spending more money on their car than what it’s actually worth. Fortunately, there are a few ways to cut down on your automotive expenses.

Cut Down on Driving

Generally speaking, most people will put more money into gas than anything else for their automobile expenses. If you drive a lot, it isn’t uncommon to spend almost $100 a week solely on gas. If you can carpool with others or use public transit, that’s a great way to save you a significant amount of money. Not only do you save in gas, you will save on general car repairs that are a result of putting more miles on your car.

Do It Yourself

Taking your car to the mechanic whenever it makes an unusual sound is going to end up costing you a lot of money. Spend some time doing your own research and talk with others to see if you can find the problem first. Often times, a simple fix is very doable for you to do with the help of friends or the internet. There are times, however, when going to mechanic is necessary. Attempting to fix a transmission yourself is not good idea.

Check Your Lights

You headlights and taillights are vital to avoiding damaging and expensive accidents. If someone doesn’t see you because your lights aren’t working properly, they may not be able to stop until it is too late. It is just as important to make sure that your break lights are working, because someone is more likely to hit you from behind if they don’t know that you are slowing down. Doing these simple checks will not only save you money, it will keep you safe on the road.

Regularly Maintain Your Vehicle

Don’t let small problems become a big issue because you didn’t take care of it from the start. A lot of people end up having to pay thousands of dollars to replace something that could have been repaired earlier for a fraction of the cost. A small rock chip in your window is something that is repairable, says professionals who specialize in windshield repair in Los Angeles. If you don’t address the problem, the cracks could spread quickly and result in you having to replace your entire windshield. Make sure you are also checking the air pressure in your tires to prevent a blowout and get your oil changed regularly.

Keep Your Car Longer Or Buy Used Cars

As soon as you drive a brand new car off of the lot, it greatly looses its value. Instead of upgrading every few years, keep the car you have longer. If you keep up on maintenance checks, it should last for quite a while without having any major problems. Buying a used car that is in good condition will also save you money on car payments.

Cutting down on your automobile costs doesn’t have to be a difficult experience. If you follow these tips, you will minimize your chance of hefty bills and having major repairs needed.

Buying A New Car: 5 Tips To Help You Find The Right Car For You

Purchasing a new vehicle is an important and daunting task. You’ll be spending tens of thousands of dollars for even the most basic of cars and you will likely be driving the one you choose for the next five to ten years. Here are 5 tips to help you choose the right one.

Buying A New Car- 5 Tips To Help You Find The Right Car For You

1. Used or new?

When you’re purchasing a vehicle there are three main options: new, used, or certified pre-owned. New vehicles have never had a previous owner and are easily customizable. Used cars have been owned by another person or car rental company. They tend to have some wear and tear and the condition of the engine and interior, the model year and the mileage will determine the car’s value. Certified pre-owned vehicles are a great option. They go through a vigorous check by the dealership and usually carry the option of an extended warranty. Understanding these options and your budget will help you decide which is best.


2. Determine your ideal body style

There are six main body styles: coupe, sedan, minivan, SUV, truck and convertible. Deciding which body style best suits your needs will put you one step closer to choosing the right vehicle.


3. Consider the importance of the estimated MPG

With gas prices at an average of over $3.00, you may want to sacrifice the performance of a V8 or the space of an SUV for a more fuel efficient option. Spending a little more for a hybrid vehicle could prove to be your best option.


4. Understand which package options you want

Today cars and trucks come with a multitude of package options. There are built-in GPS navigation systems, heated seats, and DVD entertainment systems, just to name a few. Knowing which options are important for you to have will help you be sure you get the car you want.


5. Look for specials and promotions at dealerships

Many dealerships offer seasonal and year end specials. Holiday deals, like 0% financing, are most common around Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Christmas. Cash rebates may be offered for a particular model in a specific location, such as the Cadillac ATS in Kansas City. You may choose to buy a vehicle that can offer you the most bang for your buck.


Picking the right car or truck is important. By considering these things ahead of time, you can feel confident while you knowledgeably shop for the car you want and need.

Looking To Go Green? 5 Changes To Apply To Your Car

Going green is not about changing the color of your car’s paint job, it’s about being a responsible eco-friendly vehicle own who makes less of an impact on the environment. If you are ready to change your habits in an effort to go green, it’s all about fixing your bad habits and replacing their bad habits with ones that will not make as much of an impact on Mother Earth. While electric vehicles are much more efficient than the convention vehicle that uses gas, there are ways to go green with any type of vehicle, from the SUV to the compact mini. Here are 5 changes you can apply to save money and save the environment:

#1: Be Sure to Inflate Your Tires Regularly

Your tires are the only component of your vehicle that touches the ground. Your manufacturers will put tire style and inflation recommendations in the owner’s manual, and following these recommendations can help you improve your fuel efficiency. If your tires continue to lose air on a regular basis, replace these with a new set of Milestar tires and you can improve gas mileage and reduce your emissions.


#2: Get Oil Changes Regularly

Your warranty might require that you maintain your vehicle with regular oil changes, but that is not the only reason to comply with the requirements. If you maintain your vehicle by getting regularly oil changes, it will improve the performance of your vehicle by not putting as much stress on your engine. Less stress equals more efficiency.


#3: Try Not to Idle for Too Long

Did you know sitting in a drive-thru or waiting in your idling vehicle for 10 minutes in the morning actually burns more gas than actually pressing the gas. You should try to avoid idling as much as possible, and turn your car off if you need to sit and wait.


#4: Use Your Vehicle Features to Your Advantage

You might have considered the cruise control feature only suitable for long road trips. If you make it a habit to use cruise control, you can increase your gas mileage by as much as 15% while you reduce your monthly gas bill.


#5: Get Rid of the Dead Weight

Do you have dumbbells, sports equipment, or something you don’t regularly use in your trunk. If you have a full trunk, clean it out to lighten the vehicle. That extra weight affects your gas mileage because it puts more stress on the motor.


Your car does not have to by a hybrid just to be a green vehicle. If you keep it maintained, you change your daily habits, and you replace tires when necessary, your car can be green no matter the color or style.

3 Ways to Modify your Car: Improving its Performance and Visual Impact

At present, there appears to be one question that is going answered in the UK: is the country facing a recession or not?

Growth in the new car sales market would suggest not, as August saw demand grow for an 18th consecutive month. While economists are adamant that this alone is not proof of wider economic growth and expansion, it certainly suggests that consumers are willing to spend more on purchasing and maintaining their vehicles.

This brings us neatly onto the car modifications market, which continues to gain in popularity among British customers. Thanks to technological advancement, motorists can now enhance their car in a number of alternative ways, whether they look to improve its performance or the visual impact that it makes on others.

3 Wildly Popular Car Modifications

With this in mind, what are the most wildly popular car modifications and how do they benefit motorists? Consider the following: -

New Air Intakes and Exhausts

Drivers and manufacturers are often at odds when it comes to prioritizing what they want from vehicles, which goes a long way to explaining why modifications are so popular. Take your cars air intakes and exhaust pipe, for example, which are often designed in a way that reduces assembly cost regardless of any impact that this has on performance. Many drivers therefore look to replace these components with a view to aiding the free flow of air and delivering the best possible fuel efficiency while in transit, which has potential cost implications in terms of operation and maintenance for the future.

Reducing Weight as a Way of Improving Performance and Power

While is stands to reason that reducing weight should enable your car to go faster, this remains the easiest and most cost-effective way of improving your vehicles speed and performance. The performance of you car is dictated by a simple power to weight ratio, so a handful of elementary modifications can quickly optimise the speed and efficiency of your vehicle while it is out on the road. It is quite amazing how the removal of spare rear seats, wheels and roof linings can aid the performance of your car, and all without the need to invest a single penny of your hard earned money.

Aesthetic Modifications for Image Conscious Motorists

We all know how boys and girls can feel about their cars, so there is often a desire to implement aesthetic modifications that make a vehicle unique. The most popular of these is the addition of personalised or unusual registration plates, which are available through numerous suppliers such as Plate Hunter. Whether you wish to create a plate that bears your initials or a word that represents something that is close to your heart, this type of product offers you a unique opportunity to customise your vehicle and modify its image and visual impact on the world.

The Best Roads for a Drive in Spain

The Best Roads for a Drive in Spain
Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. From its delectable cuisine and picturesque beaches to its vibrant nightlife, Spain offers a wonderful package for any avid traveller. One of the best ways to explore this magnificent country is to rent a car and drive. Since almost all the motorways and main roads are well maintained, you will have the freedom to discover the landmarks, architecture and festivals of each city at ease.

Depending on your personal needs, make a wise choice as far as renting a car is concerned. You can use the internationally established ACRISS system to find which car suits your needs. Generally, ECMN (2-4 door economy car with manual transmission) is suitable for 2-4 passengers. However, if it’s a group of 4-5 passengers and you have extra luggage, perhaps FDAR (four-door, full size car with automatic transmission) would be more a more appropriate choice. Additionally, you must find European car insurance that covers holidays before you set out for your adventure since Spanish law requires all vehicles to have compulsory third party insurance.

There are several routes that you may wish to consider for a motoring holiday. Thousands of tourists choose to take the most popular route from the south coast of England by ferry to the northern coast of Spain. Although it may not be the cheapest or the quickest option, it does save the lengthy drive through France if you want to focus only on Spanish roads. However, if you think that the ferry is not the right option for you, the Eurotunnel can be a great way to arrive quickly with your car in Calais.

If you are aiming for the quickest journey that gets you to Spain as soon as possible, the following route is advised:
• Take A16 from Calais
• Get on the A26/E15
• After driving for about 100km, take the A1 towards Arras-Est
• Take A3 after about 150km
• Pick up the A71/E09 after 100km
• Take A75 after approximately 300km
• Take exit 60
• Get on D13
D13 eventually leads to Spain where you will find yourself either on the AP7 or A7, which directly goes to Barcelona in about 300km. According to the information provided by P&O Ferries, the journey should take about 12 hours for covering the total distance, which is approximately 1320km, so do take at least one rest stop to get a good night’s sleep along the way.

When you get to Barcelona, aim for any of the following routes for a fantastic driving experience in Spain:
• Drive along the coastline of northern Costa Brava outside the beautiful town of Cadaques. Here you will be able to see the great Roman and Greek ruins in Empuries.
• Drive along the 80km road linking the historic “five towns.” The road goes from Tauste to Sos del Rey Catolico.
• Take the road to the hills of the historic walled city of Avila from Felipe II’s monastery. This is about an hour’s drive and is one of the most scenic routes in the entire country.

Wherever you choose to go, make sure you know the route before you head off, that you are well rested, and that you have the correct car and travel insurance to keep you covered for the duration of your unforgettable road trip.

Donating Your Used Car To Charity: Pros, Cons, And Tips

used_carWe donate our used clothing and other items to charity, so why not other items that we no longer have a use for? You can make a difference in a big way by donating big ticket items like boats and cars to charitable organizations. The increase in charities accepting vehicle donations has led to a mutually beneficial and booming business, wherein the donor saves by claiming the donation on income taz returns and the charity is able to sell the vehicle and use the funds to further its cause. While this might seem like a straightforward way to do good in the world, there are some associated risks with donating your car. 


  • Many charities have started to accept vehicles as a form of donation, so you can most likely find a charity that supports your favorite cause to donate to.
  • You can claim a huge deduction on your income tax returns when you donate your car to a charity approved by the IRS.
  • You get to save yourself the hassle of trying to find a buyer for your used car.
  • Donating a car makes it much easier to make a big difference for your charity with less financial impact to you than a cash donation.


  • Intermediaries that accept your car donation and then donate the proceeds to the charity of your choice often take a substantial cut away from your chosen cause. If the charities you support don’t accept car donations directly, you may be better off finding one that does.
  • To get a tax deduction, you’ll need to follow up with the charity to get paperwork that proves the vehicle’s value. Your estimate or the fair market value probably won’t cut it if your car is worth over $500.
  • The same paperwork to get rid of the car is still necessary- if you don’t formally re-title the vehicle, you could risk parking tickets and more down the line.


  1. Avoid 3rd parties and try to donate your car directly to the charity of your choice.
  2. Choose a charity that means a lot to you and has a big impact in its line of work. If the charities you usually support don’t accept car donations, take time to investigate alternatives instead of just picking the first charity you find. The Better Business Bureau can help you to evaluate charities whose activities you aren’t very familiar with.
  3. Make 100% sure that your chosen charity is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is qualified by the IRS for donation deduction purposes. 
  4. If you have to use a middle man, do your research to find out how much of the proceeds from the car’s sale will actually go to the charity. Do they take a percentage, or a flat fee? Using an intermediary not only limits the effectiveness of your gift, but can also have tax implications.
  5. Keep a thorough paper trail for tax purposes in order to claim the donation on your tax returns.
  6. Deliver the car to the charity yourself so they don’t have to take money out of your donation to pay someone to come pick it up.
Featured images:

Jack Lovegood is a automotive expert and a contributing blogger for Chrysler Group LLC, where you can purchase a Jeep extended warranty at a discounted rate. 

5 Essential Maintenance Tips For Your Tires

After spending good money on tires, most drivers fail to give them adequate maintenance. Tires play an important role in driving safety, so making sure they’re in road-worthy condition is essential. Below are a few tire tips and tricks to follow. Properly purchased and maintained tires will last longer than neglected ones, saving you money, and most importantly, keeping you safe.

1. Buy Quality Tires from a Reputable Brand

First and foremost, when you purchase new tires, make sure they’re from a reputable company and of premium quality. You and your car depend on them. Buying internationally known brands like Goodyear and Nokian tires ensures safety and affordability. Remember, your purchase should reflect your driving style, driving environment, and vehicle. After buying a new set of tires, try driving the vehicle initially for at least 200 miles at medium speed on dry roads.

2. Maintain the Correct Tire Pressure

Find out the right air pressure for your tires and make sure you maintain it. Check the pressure before and after long drives, during cold driving conditions, and when carrying heavy loads. Otherwise, check every month regularly on a fixed date.

Under-inflated tires can overheat, causing excessive and irregular wear from over exertion. This might even lead to a blowout. Besides, tires that have been riding around with the improper air pressure need to be replaced more often. Over-inflated ones lead to loss of proper road grip and less traction on braking, the consequences of which are obvious. Maintaining optimum tire pressure is even good for the environment as the correct pressure helps in making the vehicle more fuel efficient.

3. Select the Right Tire Tread

More tread just means more grip. Although legal limits are 1.6mm, driving with anything under 3.0mm can be risky. Do not just buy tires based on how the tire looks. Use a standard tread gauge and ensure tread depth is sufficient on all four tires. Check the inside, outside and center portions. How long tires will last with good tread in the end depends on the brand.  For example, the usual length of service for quality Nokian tires can be as long as 60,000 miles.

4. Pay Attention to Balance and Alignment

Improper wheel alignment is the main reason for premature tire wear. Poor alignment and balance issues also contribute to over-consumption of fuel and loss of road grip. Check the alignment immediately if you sense the vehicle pulling towards either side while driving or if the steering wheel shakes when driving at high speeds.

5. Stay on Top of Tire Rotation

If you’re only buying two tires, always fit the new tires in the back. Having the better tires in the back means more driving control and directional stability. Also, be sure to have your tires rotated every so often – many people like to have this done at the same time as an oil change – in order to ensure even wear. In addition, replace the valves every time you change your tires. Properly tightened and functioning values with well fitted dust caps make sure the tires remain safe. Check for tears on the side, cracks, bulges, and damage to the wheel rim. Sub-standard products damage easily, but high-quality tires will last longer.

These five tire tips are extremely important to follow, primarily because they concern the safety of the car and its passengers. On top of being a smart car owner who properly maintains his or her vehicle, remember to avoid rash driving, excessive speeds, and frequent braking. Take good care of your car and it will take good care of you!

Featured images:
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source:|

James Cash is a master mechanic and part time writer.

Keeping Your Vehicle Safe In New Jersey

The Garden state is a wonderful place to explore, raise a family, or settle down. It offers the upscale pace of cities, beaches and shore living, woodlands and farms, and family-friendly suburbs. There is an environment for everyone, and a different feel to each part. While its diversity in living arrangements is beneficial, one thing to remember is that the laws of the state are all the same, no matter which environment you choose to live in. For your own safety, New Jersey holds high standards and regulations on most of their state laws. Motor vehicle regulations are no exception to these rules. Expect to cruise around in your car with style, while upholding a strict degree of safety. While most states can be fairly lenient in their safety inspection rules, NJ makes sure their residents are in tip-top shape while cruising on their highways.

NJ Inspection
If you plan on driving around with your Toyota in NJ, be prepared to meet all of the necessary requirements to do so. While it may seem like a lot compared to other states, it’s all for safety’s sake! The rules of a NJ inspection have gone through some changes in recent years. Due to budget cuts, decisions needed to be made on what was most important for the vehicles of the Garden state. As of August 2010, residents will not have to worry about working lights, turn signals, or other mechanical safety aspects during their cars’ inspection. Although a damaged brake light or turn signal can still land you a ticket while driving, it won’t flunk you during a mandated inspection test. It’s up to you as the responsible driver to check and fix your lights and signals.

Emmissions Test
The biggest test for your vehicle to undergo in a NJ inspection is the emissions test. While some states negate this portion all together, New Jersey adheres to a strict guideline when it comes to the quality of our environment. While efforts are being made every day to meet the air requirements set by the National Clean Air Act Standards, New Jersey still has not reached its goal. This is why the emissions portion of the inspection process is so crucial, not only for the safety of the vehicle but also for the safety and cleanliness of the environment.  Vehicles that exceed national health standards will fail to pass the inspection, and must be assessed by a mechanic to have the emissions problem fixed. Gas caps will also be inspected to assure that it limits the escape of fumes into the environment.

Inspection Sticker
If you pass the regulations of a New Jersey state inspection, you get shiny new sticker on your windshield saying to come back in another two years. Fortunately for people who reside in New Jersey who purchase a used, non-commercial vehicle inspection does not have to be done until the vehicles model is five years old. The inspection of motorcycles has also been cut and it’s up to the driver to keep their bike safe and secure while braving the roads.

Just like any state, safety and security is a top priority for the vehicles of New Jersey. The laws may vary, but they still exist. When making the move to the popular east coast state, be sure to review the laws and regulations necessary to reside there. It’ll make the transition much less stressful and much safer! Enjoy your ride into Jersey!

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Ashely is a New Jersey resident and has been through all the strict New Jersey inspection laws. To see more, check out her Twitter @ashelymarie1985.