Woman behind the Wheel

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Driving alone as a woman comes with its own set of challenges. Of course, driving is liberating, and is fully capable of helping you channel your independence, it is also true that the roads out there are not exactly safe, and that women are vulnerable to impediments to their safety. Everything from car crashes to car-jacking, from impersonation and rough drivers on the road, there are plenty of things one should be safe about. Here are a few things women drivers should keep track of.

  • Park appropriately: Whether you are at a public place or a private neighbourhood, always park your vehicle in a place where there is sufficient lighting, and where you cannot be ambushed by anyone simply because the space is opportune. Lock your car and remember exactly where you parked, and make sure that when you come back to the place, no matter the time of day, you do have enough lighting to take the vehicle out without any difficulty.
  • Always keep your keys accessible in your purse, so that you don’t stand outside your car door and fumble for them. The more you fumble for the keys, the more it tends to appear like you are vulnerable and susceptible. It is a perfect opportunity for a criminal to pull off a mugging or a carjacking, or even to grab your purse and run.
  • Make note of the vehicles parked around and near your own. It is a useful way to remember your own vehicle’s spot, while also getting a good idea of what your vehicle was surrounded by.
  • Don’t jump at every opportunity to help – especially if you are being stopped or waved at by a lone man in a remote location. Always be sure to keep your phone handy, so that in any unwieldy situation, you have access to help at the earliest. The same goes for suspicious police officers, or police officers who don’t appear to be founded in their claims of stopping your car.
  • Always keep a map handy, so that you have a full idea as to where you are going, and what your route will comprise. Indulge in a GPS device in the car, rather than to use a map if you are driving by yourself.
  • Make sure that your vehicle is in good condition – having been serviced at the right time, especially if you know that you are making a longer trip. This will help you avoid the eventuality of your vehicle breaking down midway, and avoid having to approach strangers to help fix it if you can’t do it yourself.
  • Keep someone fully aware of your whereabouts, so that the moment you are lost, or you find yourself deviating from the path, or even find yourself in trouble of any kind, help is at hand.

Sources:

http://www.edmunds.com/car-safety/women-driving-alone-how-to-protect-yourself.html

http://www.gonomad.com/47-womens/5739-road

http://www.timeslive.co.za/lifestyle/motoring/2011/04/14/12-vital-saftey-tips-for-women-driving-alone

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Miles to go before you hit the road – Your Road trip Checklist!

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Going on a road trip? You’re probably pumped about all the things you’re going to be seeing and doing, and perhaps all the music you’ve stocked up on to listen while you’re cruising on the highway. But before you do that, make sure to check in on all your essentials, so that you have a smooth, happy ride!

Here are a bunch of things you should be absolutely careful about, before hitting the road:

  • The last thing you need when you’re on the road is to be stuck with an angry, overheated car that just doesn’t want to cooperate. If you were Fred Flintstone, I’d say you’d make a dash for it and run with your feet on the floor of the car, but you’re not. So, make sure that all your fluids are in order. From engine oil to coolants, transmission fluid to brake fluids, power steering fluids and windshield washers, always make sure that you have enough of them all. Remember, lacking any of these fluids can throw your driving plans into disarray.
  • You are going on a road trip, not a suicide mission. So even if you think you’re a boss on the highway and speeding is awesome, you need to be safe while you do it. Check all the belts, hoses and wipers to ensure that they work well. The v-belts, serpentine belts, coolant hoses, windshield water hoses, vacuum hoses and even the timing belt if you know that your car is due. Your wipers should be able to work appropriately at all the speeds that the car provides for. Check on the pulleys and all the hoses to see that there are no leaks whatsoever. Your windshield wipers shouldn’t have any cracks, and should make proper contact with the window.
  • So you’ve worked out like crazy to look awesome in your road trip pictures – great, you’re in shape. But wait! Your tires need to be in shape! It’s not enough if you look at your tires and conclude that there are no flats – make sure that your tires have the recommended amount of pressure, and there is plenty of tread left. There shouldn’t be any unusual wear on the tire. Make sure that the spark plugs are in order, too. The best way to test the thickness of the tread is to use a one-rupee coin. Place the coin upside down, and if the tread surpasses the top of the three lions, you are good to go!
  • Check all your electrical stuff in the car. Bright lights, day time lights, horns, night lights, indicator lights, reverse lights and brake lights are all vital. Make sure that your interior lightings are also in order. Look to see if your low beams, high beams and hazard lights are in order.
  • Check the batteries in the car, as also the air filter. The battery terminals should be free of all corrosion, the cables should be tight and snug to the battery, and the air filter should be best suited for appropriate gas mileage. Be sure to check that the terminals of the battery are both free and clear from each other, and check the terminals for corrosion, and the wires for rub-through.
  • Air cleaners should also be in order. Make sure that you check the filter and clean it up of all possible dust and dirt. If it is black and sooty, you should be replacing your filter, or at the very least, ensure that the filter is fixed.
  • Always keep your spares in hand. A spare tire, some spare parts, some tools and an emergency kit are all necessary. The spare tire should be full of air, the emergency kit should have all the components, the tolls should be in order – particularly the jumper cables and a jack.
  • Finally, come to what you want to take with you for the road trip: a GPS navigator (so you don’t get lost, or if you do, you get lost in style), a map (ditto), a cell phone (you need a reason?), a phone charger (because you have a cell phone in hand!) that can also double up as car compatible (yes, because where else will you use it?), an insurance and registration document set, a flashlight (because), a first aid kit, water and car freshener (well…)!

Sources:

https://snapguide.com/guides/prepare-for-a-roadtrip-ultimate-car-checklist/

http://www.askmen.com/top_10/cars/top-10-road-trip-checklist.html

http://blog.caranddriver.com/road-trip-pre-departure-checklist-last-minute-items-that-can-make-or-break-your-trip/

The Most Iconic Indian Cars Of All Time!

Think of automobiles on the road, and your mind goes to some of the iconic vehicles that have held public attention and awe for the longest time. International legends may come and go, but our own desi automobile market has been filled with some of the best four wheelers that have held people’s awe. Here are 6 of the most iconic cars of all time on Indian roads:

  • The Good old Ambassador:

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Hindustan Motors rolled out the Ambassador in the 1950s. Undoubtedly fully deserving of the epithet of The King of Indian Roads, the car holds many childhood memories within even till date. It was, for the longest time, the official car of the governments, the official vehicle that ferried VIPs back and forth, and the ubiquitous taxi.

It wound down in numbers by 2000, with the turn of the new millennium, and its production has now been temporarily suspended.

  • The Premier Padmini, or the Fiat 110 Delight

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(PC: Wheelmela)

This was another biggie back in the day. Manufactured in India from 1964 to 2000 by Premier Automobiles Limited, the car was named Premier Padmini after a 14th Century Rajput Princess. It was based on the Fiat 1200 GranLuce Berlina, and debuted in India in 1964 with a 1089 cc four cylinder Petrol Engine.

  • The Maruti Suzuki 800:

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A product of India’s collaboration with Japan, the Maruti Suzuki was a compact family car that revolutionised travel on four wheelers. It transformed the Indian automobile industry by creating a whole new economical transport system. With 31 years of operation, the Maruti 800 had the second largest production run, and sold close to 3,000,0000.

  • The Hindustan Contessa:

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Hindustan Motors crafted the Contessa after the iconic GM Vauxhall Victor FE and rolled it out for the masses in 1984, in a bid to offer an upmarket product that would stand tall with its predecessor, the Ambassador. The luxury vehicle, as it was seen as, had a 49bhp 1.5 L BMC B-Series engine under the hood – which was the same as the engine that powered the Ambassador. It was discontinued in 2002.

  • Hyundai’s Santro:

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Taking over from the Maruti Suzuki 800, the Santro was something of an elevated and a squarer version of the 8000. It was introduced worldwide as Hyundai Atos in 1997, but in India, entered as Santro, as the first offering to India’s automobile market from Hyundai. It was an instant hit, and offered full value for money. By 1999, it became the second largest automobile manufacturer, and crossed the 1mn mark in sales by the end of 2006.

  • The Honda City:

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(PC: Motorbeam)

The first generation of the Honda City in Indian markets was the world’s third generation from Honda’s factories. It was a charmer right away, winning hearts in the mid-size sedan segment. However, the petrol-only engine without versions for diesel made it difficult to sustain itself until 2014, when the diesel market became a new avenue for its exploration.

  • The Toyota Qualis:

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(PC: Elbuses)

Although it is accepted and known that the Innova is the new Qualis, considering that Toyota decided to replace its line of Qualis cars with Innovas, the Qualis is still something most people enjoyed – what with its comfort, quality engine and stellar multi-purpose value.

Sources:

http://zeenews.india.com/exclusive/five-iconic-indian-vehicles-that-we-may-never-see-again_1501673.html

http://auto.ndtv.com/news/5-trendsetting-cars-in-india-524577

Worst Types Of Drivers On The Roads!

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If you’ve braved Indian roads, you’re pretty much set for any adventure sport – even without the right kind of gear and training. Trust us, we’re right on this one. Regardless of whether you are a biker or ride a four wheeler, or rely on public transport, or even walk it, you’ve been a part of some kind of superior gymnastics to get from point to point without and showing up in one piece. We’ve identified ten kinds of culprits that make this crazy experience what it is.

  1. The first timers: Usually identified as youngsters, these drivers are first timers in the world of driving. They listen to loud music, accessorise their cars in ways that might give the word “bling” a run for its money, and speed about recklessly. They will be spotted stopping at random places to shoot selfies.
  2. Seasoned veterans: With all due respect, seniors behind the wheel can be a handful, too. Speed isn’t their friend, and nor are youngsters on the road. In many instances, they still find themselves holding onto the rules that were around many centuries ago and driving so slowly that they go backwards.
  3. Drive the talk: Forget walk the talk. This school of drivers are firm believers in their talents at multi-tasking, while the rest of the world might vouch for the lack of these very talents. The use of the cell phone to keep talking is a dangerous, dangerous thing to do – but these people don’t care!
  4. The Texter: You read that right. A fast evolving breed of drivers, this crowd will respond to text messages even while cruising on the road. These are, actually, the worst of the lot, because in the time they take to look at their phones to read or respond to a text message, they take their eyes OFF THE ROAD.
  5. Signals don’t matter to me: This is your typical rule-breaker. They couldn’t care less about jumping signals. They’ll show up from anywhere, hurtling at the speed of a meteor.
  6. OMG-Aiii-Love-Schumacher-Wonly: You can’t get through to these people. Not even if you tried standing upside down. For them, every road – no matter if it is a kuppam or a jhopad-patti – is always, ALWAYS a race track. They drive like Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher are flanking their cars.
  7. The abuser: This one is real entertainer. No matter what happens – say, a lazy bull walks by on a busy road, a cyclist slams the brakes too late, a grumpy driver on a bike knocks the wind out of the side-view mirror – you’ll find the choicest abuses flowing from these drivers’ mouths.
  8. The eater driver: While it is wholly possible that many of us may qualify for this, seeing as how food is a priority for many, this set of drivers simply must eat while driving.
  9. The diva: For this set of drivers, looking good comes first. From their hair to their mascara and lipstick, to their shades and earrings, everything must be in top shape. Half the time is spent admiring oneself in the mirror, and the other half of the time is spent making oneself ready for the mirror.
  10. I’m not too drive to drunk! Okay. Correction. THIS is the worst of the lot. There are some that are incredibly confident about being fully capable of handling their alcohol. But, instead, they wind up becoming one of the major factors for road accidents.

Safe Driving In The Monsoon

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It’s raining cats and dogs, and commuting can be a pain. Right from the wet roads to the issues with visibility, there are a lot of things that you should be focusing on while on the road during the monsoons. Here are a couple of things that should top your priorities this monsoon:

  • Stay dry: This might seem obvious, but it is valuable. This is especially important for people who ride cycles and motorcycles. Carrying a good raincoat and comfortable headgear with appropriate tools to ensure visibility is extremely important.
  • Avoid speeding at any cost. When roads are wet, they become all the more slippery – and it is worsened if there is any petrol or oil on the road, which can lead to a bigger issue. Avoid speeding, and maintain a consistent speed limit, between 3- to 45 km / hr, to ensure that you are safe.
  • Keep a good distance around you. While riding or driving out in the monsoons or during the rain, one of the biggest issues is that of visibility. It is unclear as to who stands before you or behind you, and the loss of traction makes the vehicle vulnerable to banging into a vehicle in front.
  • While applying the brakes, always be gentle. It is also important that your brakes be in functional order before the monsoons – fill it with brake fluid if necessary.
  • Avoid water logged areas: Given that flooding and water logging often can damage your engine, whether a car or a bike, it is important that these roads be avoided. It is also a danger that waterlogged roads may have open potholes that you may wind up driving past and getting stuck in, without realising it.
  • Keep the headlights on. Given that visibility is an issue during the monsoons, keeping the headlights on will not only help you look at what’s ahead easily, but will also help you ensure that you are visible to people from the other side.
  • Always keep to the center of the road instead of the sides, because it makes you less vulnerable to changes in the traffic on the road. Make it a point to follow the vehicle in front of you.
  • Avoid driving on mud roads, because monsoons make mud roads murky and your vehicle can get stuck in the tracks easily.
  • Avoid driving close to trees and heavy equipment like hoardings, barricades and other large fixtures. Lightning can make them collapse, and it is important to ensure that you aren’t harmed or electrocuted.

Car Buying Tips

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Whether it’s your first car or your tenth, you can never benefit enough from advice to help make your purchase decisions. For the simple common man, buying a car is a rational choice to get from one place to the next, and to fit the family within safely and comfortably, and in many instances, at a low cost. Investing in a car is not a linear decision – it involves a fairly considerable thinking process that centres around the core goal of fulfilling the basic needs and expectations from owning a car. Here are a couple of things you should keep in mind when you’re buying a car.

Understand the kinds of cars there are
Cars come in different kinds, sizes and models to suit your utility needs. To start with, get your basics right. A convertible is good on the aesthetics, but not so much on the functionality, unless you have small children whose safety is better guaranteed with two doors rather than four. A sedan is a good idea if you have a small family with young children, so your kids can climb into the vehicle with ease. Hatchbacks come with a comfortable space in the seating space of the car, with the comfort of a wagon like structure at the back – which works great if you’re a larger family and like to go on long trips with your luggage in tow. Station wagons and mini vans work if you’re plying a large family around, or a large amount of cargo – it isn’t exactly the kind of vehicle a family usually goes in for.

Safety is as safety does
The right car size really depends on your own needs. While there is a common belief that larger vehicles are safer than smaller ones, it is really a misconception to say that. The key point here is to ensure that safety is a valuable factor in your purchase decision. You need to understand the engineering of the vehicle, its ability to respond to crashes and accidents, and the sturdiness of the body to help choose a durable car for your every need.

Size wise
If you are a small family, and would like to keep your savings in order at first, a small car is not a bad idea at all. Go in for a big car when you know that your needs and affordability have risen in a suitable proportion. You also need to consider parking-related concerns wherever your vehicle goes: at home, at work, outside school and wherever it is that you will be running errands to. If your vehicle is likely to find a smaller parking spot, you’d be wiser indulging in a smaller vehicle. One point to remember is that a car maybe small in structure, but on the inside, it needn’t be. You have plenty of cars in the market that come with spacious interiors packed within a light and small frame of a vehicle.

Take your surroundings into consideration
There are a lot of factors around where you live that can account for the kind of vehicle you should invest in. In a place that is hilly, or has rugged terrain, you’ll be doing a wise thing in investing in a heavier vehicle that has the capacity to handle rugged terrain. For a more urban lifestyle, a lighter vehicle works well. If you are in a place that is seasonal, invest in a car that will help you adapt to each season – such as through winter tires for snowy and wet terrain, skid free tyres for rainy terrain and the like.

Budgetary considerations
Owning and maintaining a car is not child’s play, and can be demanding in terms of the amount of money one is expected to plough into the car on a near-daily basis. To this end, low maintenance and diesel cars work like a charm if you know that you’re on a shoestring budget or thereabouts. But if you can afford to set aside a decent amount of money each month for your transportation needs, indulging in a middle-to-high maintenance car is a viable option.

Using Credit Wisely – How to Track Repayment Obligations

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Why is it important to spend within your means and track repayment obligations closely?

Credit is an activity widely used and well understood by all sections of society. The neighborhood store-keeper is glad to defer your payment since he is familiar with your residential and personal habits. (Note – do not try in organized chains, where credit cards work better; this is best suited for mom & pop stores!) . Electricity and telephone suppliers provide you with a month of free utilization in-between billing cycles. A cab-service or a restaurant measures you at the time of entry – they have their collection methods clear, if you don’t pay up at the end of the activity!!

Put simply, credit in the financial world, is nothing but an extension of the above into a structured format.

  1. You identify an asset or a need that is urgent
  2. The capital cost of the same is beyond your current budget
  3. To bridge the same, you consider financing options

Once you have narrowed the best option, the doubts start coming up

  1. Should I borrow at all? Yes. You deserve it. No – unless you are already over borrowed.
  2. Have I borrowed too much? Not if your existing repayment obligations are within 50% of your net monthly earnings.
  3. What if I am unable to repay on time – this is usually a sign of impending trouble. It is best to take a hand-loan from a friend, parent or relative and meet the outside lender’s obligations. Sometimes lenders offer skip-payment if a locality is affected by a calamity (or) an individual faces unforeseen emergency.
  4. Will lenders take me to court if I don’t repay. Yes, they would. However this itself is only a headache compared to the larger problem. Your future borrowing would be hamstrung by this blot. This is because, post 2000 all lenders participate in credit bureaus. By law, every lender needs to submit details of all loans granted (including periodic repayments) to at least one bureau. Since all details of your monthly repayment behavior are fed into an analytical system, your credit history is visible to the organized lending community.
  5. What if I repay all obligations on time? As with many things, the rewards for punctuality and obedience come in surely but a little later, once you complete 6-12 months of good repayment. Your existing lender could offer you an interest or tenure break. Other lenders could offer higher loan amounts. In short giving you better financial flexibility.

Equally, a spotty credit history considerably reduces your chances of future borrowing.

In a nutshell, borrowing is an excellent tool – be it for student loans, first automobile or wowing an identified life partner. It is a bad idea if you are not serious about the partnership and its purpose – be it university, a vehicle or life’s journey itself. Commitment to timely honoring of obligations is valuable anytime, anywhere across time and situation. In the world of financial credit, the positive and negative effects are visible, starkly & promptly. A nice approach would be to bite this in small chunks – borrow progressively larger amounts up on settlement of a prior loan.

The Author, Kalyanaraman M, is the Chief Operations Officer of TVS Credit Services