Auto Bits: How to stay connected on the go

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Tip of the Week

As we travel, we need to be able to connect with co-workers, chat with friends and family, or even find a great spot to eat. The Internet allows us to do all these things, and more. With the proliferation of smart phones and Internet-enabled laptops and tablets, we want to have access everywhere, not just coffee shops and the office. Now, we can connect when traveling.

- Intelligent trains: Wireless connectivity is becoming a reality on the rails. Amtrak recently launched free wireless service on its Acela high-speed rail line through the major cities in the Northeast. In the past decade, a number of stations on the East Coast have also added free wireless service. While wireless may eventually make its way to all Amtrak trains, travelers who frequent trains without the service may wish to buy a device with wireless Internet capabilities for increased possibilities of connectivity.

- On the road: Technology has also changed the way we travel in our automobiles. GPS devices have eliminated the need for cumbersome maps or scribbling down or printing directions before you leave. Intelligent applications on smart phones also help you identify nearby restaurants and other roadside attractions.

Technology could also change the way we drive. Researchers are working on cars that will capture information about vehicle speed, steering and breaking along with video footage from inside and outside the vehicle to make driving safer. Camera systems can recognize street signs and alert the driver to changing conditions or rules. It could also then take over control of the car if the driver attempts to drive into danger.


The List

Here are the world’s best automakers, according to Consumer Reports’ recently released annual report:

1. Honda

2. Subaru

3. Toyota

4. Volvo

5. Ford

6. Hyundai

Did You Know

Auto sales in February were up 27 percent over February 2010 numbers.

Car Q&A

Q: Someone replaced the original automatic transaxle fluid dipstick on my 2007 Buick Lacrosse 3.8L with a dipstick that has a maximum crosshatched area only at the end. Is it good to use this dipstick for checking automatic transaxle fluid? This new dipstick is round like a wire except the crosshatched area that is flat like the original dipstick.

A: As long as the fluid level is correct, use either dipstick. Dipstick reads will vary depending on fluid temperature and angle of vehicle.

- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist

GateHouse News Service