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It’s Time to Hit the Road: Your Spring Car Care Checklist

cleaning interior of car

Winter is never easy on your vehicle. If you’ve hit potholes in the road, your tires may have lost pressure, CAA South Central Ontario says.

And your brakes may have accumulated road salt; your wheel alignment may not be right after driving on slick roads; and your car may be covered in a mixture of leftover snow, grime and salt.

That said, the snow has melted (hopefully), and the temperatures are finally nice again. April is National Car Care Month, making it the ideal time to give your vehicle a good inspection. Here’s a 25-point car care checklist so you know you didn’t miss anything.

Replace Your Windshield Wiper Blades

You may not have used your windshield wipers much in the winter, except maybe to sweep away light flurries. However, rainy weather typically accompanies spring. Affordable Auto Service in Hopkins, Minnesota, recommends changing out windshield wipers now before getting caught in the rain.

Refill Fluids

Speaking of windshields, you better watch your wiper fluid. The experts at Be Car Care Aware in Ottawa, Canada, suggest taking a look at coolant, transmission, brake and power steering fluid levels. “Keep in mind that your power steering, brake and coolant systems are closed, so low fluid levels may indicate a leak,” they say.

Replace Plugs and Batteries

Nathan Duke at AAA Northeast says that a car’s plugs and batteries can be depleted up to 60% faster than when the weather is warmer. The colder it gets, the more these components strain to keep the vehicle going. You can take a look at the parts yourself if you feel comfortable doing so; otherwise, call a mechanic to do the job.

Schedule an Oil Change

Now that you’re out of the house more, make sure to schedule an oil change at your dealership or nearby mechanic, Auto Stop Limited, Inc. in Baltimore reminds. Besides keeping the car running smoothly, “oil also prevents contaminants from accumulating in the engine, and helps draw heat away from the combustion chamber. It can only do this for so long before it breaks down.”

Wash the Car

The warmer the weather gets, the more you’ll see neighborhood kids offering car washes. If your vehicle is covered in road salt and grime, you should prioritize this job for more than just aesthetic reasons. As Ashley at Embracing Homemaking notes, leaving that road salt on the exterior for too long can deplete the color and corrode the metal.

drying wet car

Don’t Forget Underneath Your Car

While you’ve got your bucket, soap and sponge handy, John Goreham at BestRide writes you should give your car’s undercarriage a good cleaning. Just like the exterior of the vehicle, the undercarriage can get a gunky accumulation of grime and road salt. If you don’t want to get down on all fours during cleaning, Goreham says a hose will get the job done.

Give the Car a Good Waxing

Everyone loves that shiny, picture-perfect look of a car after it’s freshly cleaned and buffed. As Precision Tune Auto Care notes though, just like cleaning your car, you should wax it for more than just that glimmering finish. A good wax will protect your vehicle from spring weather that may loosen branches or pelt the car with rain. You should continue to wax every few weeks or so to keep your car safe.

Inspect for Paint Damage

Once your car’s exterior is grime-free, give it a thorough look, Jil McIntosh at Autofocus advises. Do you see any scratches, chips or other damage? These are dangerous for the long-term health of the vehicle’s paint, McIntosh says. Like road salt and other debris, this damage can also corrode the paint, so don’t wait to fix any scratches if you find them.

Replace Your Cabin Filter

Spring is prime allergy season, and the cabin filter could contribute to that sneezy and sniffly feeling, according to YourMechanic. This filter can prevent allergens from getting trapped in the car. If you haven’t changed out your cabin filter in a while, you could be breathing in pollen, dirt and dust each time you hop in for a drive.

Check Tire Pressure

Above, we mentioned how potholes and wintry roads can deplete tire pressure. Kix Brooks Radio spoke to the team at O’Reilly Auto Parts, and they mentioned that even though tires may look fine, they could be running out of air. “Tires lose 1 to 2 pounds of air pressure for every 10 degrees the temperature drops outside,” the O’Reilly team explains. Spring temperatures can sometimes fluctuate, so make sure to check tire pressure regularly.

Change Air Filters Now for When You Use Your Air Conditioner Later

Mobile car detailing company Spiffy recommends replacing the vehicle’s air filters. Also, if you live in an area where spring weather can quickly switch from warm and temperate to hot and summer-like, don’t wait until June to check whether your car’s air conditioner is working. Test it now so you have plenty of time for AC repairs if needed.

car engine

Gut the Inside of Your Car

The frigid winter temperatures may make you less inclined to make a ton of trips to and from your car. In the interim, stuff accumulates in the backseat and the trunk. On a sunny warm day, go through everything and decide what you should throw out and what should go in the house, Infiniti of Grand Rapids writes.

Clean the Inside of the Car, Too

Now that your backseats and trunk are mostly empty, repair company CARite recommends that you clean any items in there you can. Vacuum the seats and the floors, wash the back windows and dust off your dashboard.

Don’t Forget Your Interior Air Vents

Alliance Auto Sales in Wauconda, Illinois, warns against putting that vacuum away just yet: “You want to get into the habit of vacuuming while you are dusting the interior to prevent dust from floating to parts of the car that were just cleaned,” they say. They also suggest using the bristles of a paintbrush to dust off the air vents.

Finish with a Leather Cleaner

If you have any leather surfaces inside the car, including seats, Eric Weiner at Automobile Magazine suggests sprucing these up with leather cleaner. After applying the cleaner and lathering in it, Weiner recommends using a cotton towel to gently remove any leftover traces of the cleaner.

Remove Debris from the Engine

Whether your winter was snowy or dry, VIP Tires & Service in Lewiston, Maine, suggests looking under the hood for unwanted debris that can slow down the car. Acorns, pine needles, road salt and crunchy leaves can all prevent rubber gaskets, drainage holes, vents and the engine from working optimally.

Realign All Tires

As mentioned above, driving on slick snowy roads littered with leftover road salt can wreak havoc on tire alignment. D&S Automotive Collision and Restyling in Mentor, Ohio, notes that now is the time to look at your wheels and tires. Swap out your winter tires for all-season ones, and give the tires a look to see whether the tread is too worn. You’ll also likely want to rotate and align them now.

spring driving

Test Your Lights

Although the days are longer and the sun sets later, you still don’t want to be in a situation where you’re on the road and your bulbs, blinkers or lights go out. Not only does this make driving dangerous, but you could get ticketed. Jim Sigel Automotive in Grants Pass, Oregon, recommends testing all lights now. If these go out, most of the time you can change the bulb yourself.  

Do an Exhaust System Analysis

Honda of Kirkland in Washington recommends taking a good look at the car’s hangers and supports. Check them for any signs of wear and tear. Exhaust leaks are no good, so if you see one contact your mechanic, stat.

Revisit Your Insurance Policy

As Desjardins Insurance says: “Spring is the perfect time to take a look at your car insurance policy and make any necessary updates.” Of course, your policy may be fine as it is, but if you want to reduce your coverage or add a new plan, you might as well take care of this now.  

Test All Belts for Slackness

If any of your belts are too slack, you will need to contact a mechanic to get these tightened or replaced. “Cold winter weather often weakens your vehicle’s belts, and if they snap or break while you’re cruising around this spring, a tow truck will be the only way to get your vehicle moving again,” Austin’s Automotive Specialists in Texas says.

Renew Black Surfaces

If you’ve never touched your car’s mirror housings, bumpers, sidewalls and other black surfaces because you’re not sure how to clean them, Bob Weber at the Chicago Tribune recommends buying a cleaning gloss intended just for those surfaces. If using an aerosol can, spritz some on a cleaning cloth and then gently rub these surfaces, Weber advises. Avoid getting the cleaner on brake rotors and wheels.

Don’t Wait on an Engine That Stalls

If your car stalls or idles roughly when driving, or if it takes multiple attempts to get your vehicle started, it’s time to go to the mechanic, Christensen Automotive in Reno, Nevada, says. While this can seem like a serious issue, it isn’t always. Ignition wires may have burned out, the air filter may be too grimy or the spark plugs may need to be replaced. By regularly doing some of those repairs yourself, you can prevent a rough-idling engine in the future.

Make Sure Drains Aren’t Clogged

The drains in the car, particularly near the doors and the front cowling, allow fluids to naturally move. However, if these get clogged with debris, they’ll stop working properly, Midwest Performance Cars in Chicago says. Water and other fluids can then spill on the dashboard or floors, making for quite a messy trip.

Get an Inspection

If some of these jobs seem a little out of your comfort zone, or if you think your car may have been damaged during any winter drives, always go to the pros. Nancy Yang at MPR News spoke to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence’s vice president, Tony Molla, and he says that scheduling an inspection should be at the top of your spring car care to-do list.

 

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2016 International Auto Shows You Don’t Want to Miss

lamborghinis

Whether you’re a classic car fanatic or you prefer the newer models coming down the pike, there’s nothing like an auto show. If you can’t get enough of these events, now is the time to start buying your tickets — and maybe cashing in any airlines miles you’ve saved up.

Here are 25 awesome upcoming auto shows around the world to keep an eye on this year. Industry insiders might be the only people who will catch most of these — unless you’re also planning trips to Zagreb and Bangkok this year — but anyone can (and should) follow coverage of these shows.

Bangkok International Motor Show, Thailand

The Bangkok International Motor Show has been around for 37 years, yet its popularity keeps growing. In 2012, nearly two million people attended; last year’s attendance records estimated that the event received over 1.7 million visitors. From March 23 through April 3, you can see what the hype is about.

Tulsa Auto Show, Oklahoma

The Tulsa Expo Center is home to the Tulsa Auto Show on the weekend of April 15. Prepare to see the newest vehicles from Maserati, Audi, Subaru, Lexus, Jaguar, Fiat, Volvo and more.

State Fair of Texas

The State Fair of Texas auto show runs from September 30 until October 23 at Fair Park in Dallas, so you have plenty of time to check out the event. If you’ve been to this fair before, the car show is a new addition, but it’s also a hefty one: There will be at least 400 cars from all the major manufacturers.

Central Illinois Auto Show

A staple in Peoria, the Central Illinois Auto Show will celebrate its 26th year in 2016. The event, presented by the Peoria Metro New Car Dealers Association, will take place on the weekend of April 4. Nearly 40,000 people will gather at the Peoria Civic Center to see cars from more than 30 automakers. There’s even a No. 38 M&M’s Ford Fusion NASCAR racing simulator.

New Mexico International Auto Show

Test drive the newest Toyotas, Fiats, Rams, Dodges, Jeeps, Chryslers and Fords at the New Mexico International Auto Show. The Albuquerque Convention Center will have plenty of brand new trucks and cars on display from April 15–17. There will also be alternative fuel vehicles, crossovers and SUVs from major automakers.

maserati

Alabama Auto Show

Check out the coolest 2016 models at the Alabama Auto Show and give back while doing so: money from ticket sales goes toward charities for children that the Birmingham Automobile Dealers Association supports. The show runs from April 7–10, giving you four days to get to the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex.

Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance, California

A Father’s Day tradition in Beverly Hills, the Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance blends automobiles with entertainment, design and fashion for one unforgettable day. Brand new motorcycles and cars will be on display. Frommer’s Travel Guide calls this auto show “one of the 300 unmissable events in the world.” Do visit to see what the ever-changing theme will be for 2016.

New York International Auto Show

Established in 1900, the New York International Auto Show is one of the oldest car shows in the world. You can check out 1,000 brand new trucks and cars across four floors, including “the newest vehicles and the latest futuristic concept cars.” Get to New York between March 25 and April 3.

Kiawah Island Motoring Retreat, South Carolina

Beach town Kiawah Island, which hosted the PGA Championships in 2012, is the home of the Kiawah Island Motoring Retreat. On the weekend of April 15, venture to the Ocean Course to see “world-class concours cars in a judged event and several other activities designed to thrill car enthusiasts and celebrate the Lowcountry.” With race cars and vintage vehicles on display, this isn’t your average auto show.

Auto China 2016 — The 14th Beijing International Automobile Exhibition

The Auto China show only happens on a two-year basis. If you can get to the China International Exhibition Centre in Beijing from April 25 through May 4, it’s worth visiting. There will be a large roster of vehicles and parts to see, including commercial cars, car accessories, energy-efficient vehicles, new car technology, safety testing equipment and car design systems.

headlight up close

Zagreb Auto Show, Croatia

The Zagreb Auto Show at the Zagreb Fair takes place April 6–10. This is quite a big show, boasting 14 pavilions of vehicles. With karts, motorcycles and trucks, no matter your favorite type of vehicle, it’s represented here. You can even win a Volkswagen Up.

Austin Auto Show, Texas

Bring the whole family to the Austin Auto Show April 8–10. There will be a bounce house, balloon animals, costumed characters, face-painting and even a Batmobile for kids. Adults will appreciate the opportunity to test drive Mazdas, Dodges, Fords and more while viewing the newest models of practically every car you can think of.

Edmonton Motorshow, Canada

The Edmonton Motorshow will return to the Edmonton Expo Center this year from April 7–10. A variety of auto part manufacturers, repair companies and local dealerships will be on the exhibitor floor. If you can, arrive a day early. On April 6, the Edmonton Motorshow will present the Precious Metal Gala, where you can enjoy entertainment, food, and “gain exclusive access to some of the most elegant and striking vehicles available.”

AltCar Expo, California

Since 2005, the AltCar Expo in Santa Monica has introduced curious car lovers to the world of sustainable driving. Last year, the event celebrated its 10th anniversary. While you can see plenty of energy-saving smart cars, there will also be speakers on hand who will discuss the environmental benefits of using alternative fuel sources. This year’s expo will be at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on September 16–17.

Los Angeles Auto Show

Over in LA, the Los Angeles Auto Show is quite a spectacle. You can test drive new models and see brand new cars unveiled for the first time and. This is one of the most anticipated shows of the year, so make sure to get to the Los Angeles Convention Center on November 18–27.

classic car auto show

Memphis International Auto Show, Tennessee

With new SUVs, trucks, cars and more, the Memphis Cook Convention Center is the place to be on October 28-30 for the Memphis International Auto Show. Just a few manufacturers with brand new models that you can expect to see are Buick, Nissan, Lexus, GMC, Acura, Kia and Audi. Parking is free, so you can spend your extra cash on snacks and merch.

Autoexpo Africa, Kenya

In its 19th year, Kenya’s Autoexpo Africa has more than just cars. You can also buy car parts if you’re into modifying, restoring or repairing your own vehicles. The event is sponsored by Expogroup, a company that was founded in 1996 and serves such parts of the world as India, Latin America, Australia, Africa and more. The show runs from June 10–12.

Manila International Auto Show, Philippines

The Philippine Trade Training Center and the World Trade Center Metro Manila in Pasay City will host the 11th Manila International Auto Show on April 9–12. These buildings have more than 30,000 square feet of outdoor and indoor space between them that will include exhibitions from top vehicle manufacturers. With stunt shows and safety seminars, you’ll want to stick around all day.

SEMA Show, Nevada

The show hosted by the Specialty Equipment Market Association, or SEMA Show, takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center on November 1–4. “The SEMA Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world. It draws the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products to one place…” the event organizers write. “In addition, the SEMA Show provides attendees with educational seminars, product demonstrations, special events, networking opportunities and more.”

Ault Park Concours d’Elegance, Ohio

The beautiful Ault Park in Cincinnati was founded in 1978 and has been used for art shows and health awareness events. It’s also the site of the Ault Park Concours d’Elegance, where cars are divided by classes for easy viewing. You can find antiques produced before 1924, pre-war classics, sports classics produced through 1959 and even future classics made 2000 and later. With competitions, a 100 Years of BMW exhibit and a variety of Ferraris on display, the event runs from June 10–12.

white audi

Moscow International Automobile Salon, Russia

Between August 24 and September 4, you can catch the Moscow International Automobile Salon. Organized by the Nonprofit Partnership Crocus Expo International Exhibition Centre and the Association of Russian Automakers, this expo takes place every other year, so see the hottest rides here while you still can.

Sacramento International Auto Show, California

Whether you prefer everyday vehicles such as Jeeps, Kias and Scions, or you gravitate toward luxurious automakers such as Lamborghini, Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Bentley, you will find many cars for your viewing pleasure at the Sacramento International Auto Show. There will be special attractions at the Cal Expo on October 14–16, including a kids zone, classic cars, an auto museum, test drive zones and old motorcycles.

Kyiv International Motor Show, Ukraine

Another auto show to check out is the Kyiv International Motor Show. In its 12th year, this expo focuses on commercial vehicles and trucks. The event takes place at the International Exhibition Center on October 26–28. Here’s your chance to get a better look at Ukrainian passenger vehicles, specialized cars, cargo vehicles and more.

Sao Paulo International Motor Show, Brazil

As one of the biggest auto shows on the planet, the Sao Paulo International Motor Show is a proven hit. For nearly 60 years, car fanatics from Latin America have gathered to see beautiful cars and enjoy other entertainment. This year’s event, on November 10–20, is heavily promoting the hashtag “nada sera como antes,” which roughly translates to “nothing will be as before.”

Motor Show Bologna, Italy

As the home of Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini and more, Italy is a major player when it comes to luxury cars. The Motor Show Bologna (December 4–13) is your exclusive chance to see these and other carmakers. The event organizers call this show “a six-sense digital experience” because the event features live entertainment, digital platforms, multimedia, virtual reality booths, test drives and more.

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Get Your Motor Running: 25 of the World’s Best Motorsports Museums

white racecar

If you love all things motorsports, delve into the long history of racing by taking a trip to any of these museums dedicated to roaring engines and cheering crowds. You can see vintage and beloved cars up close while discovering more about worldwide racetracks and organizations.

We’ve found 25 international motorsports museums that will make you want to plan a road trip, stat.

Barber Motorsports Museum, Alabama

Racer George Barber opened the Barber Motorsports Museum in 1988. Although he preferred Porsches, that museum had already been done, so he decided to open a motorcycle museum instead. At least 650 motorcycles, some vintage and some modern, are on display. The bikes are regularly switched out so you can eventually see Barber’s whole collection of 1,400 bikes.

Eastern Museum of Motor Racing, Pennsylvania

A group of motorsports fans called the Williams Grove Old Timers would spend a lot of time together talking shop, so in 1975 they decided to take their collective passion and make a museum dedicated to racing. The Eastern Museum of Motor Racing has 40 acres of space that includes a racetrack. Sometimes, you can even see the display cars being driven.

National Motor Museum, England

In the village of Beaulieu, you can find the National Motor Museum, which mixes motorcycles with other vehicles on display. Some exhibits that you may see include World War I cars, a chronology of the British Land Speed record, an auto garage from the 1930s, the history of the Formula One and more. More than 250 cars and other vehicles comprise these displays.

Grand Prix Museum, Macau

The Macau Grand Prix is a beloved racing event. For the race’s 40th anniversary in 1993, the Grand Prix Museum became a public attraction. Celebrating a motorsports history that dates back to 1954, the museum has since undergone renovations to celebrate later anniversaries.

Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, Florida

Daytona Beach is a famed racing destination, but beyond the track you can also find the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. No matter what kind of racing you enjoy, nearly 50 vehicles are on display at any given time. You can also check out about 100 exhibits chock full of memorabilia. Play driving simulation games and watch videos highlighting the history of racing to close out your day.

old cars in a row

Musee des 24 Heures du Mans, France

A museum established in honor of the 24 Hours of Le Mans event, the Musee des 24 Heures du Mans was actually called the Automobile Museo de la Sarthe when it was built in 1961. It wasn’t until 1991 that it changed focus to the Le Mans race. When you visit, you can see car pictures and videos, race collectibles, and more than 100 vehicles that have participated in Le Mans races over the years.

Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, California

Wally Parks himself opened the NHRA Motorsports Museum in association with the Automobile Club of Southern California. Since 1998, race lovers have been able to stroll across 28,500 square feet of motorsports history. There’s a “Chrisman, Brinker Gallery of Speed” exhibit that opened in 2014 and also artwork, driving uniforms, helmets, race trophies, and almost 50 vehicles from various generations.

Hendrick Motorsports Museum & Team Store, North Carolina

Another major racing city is Charlotte, North Carolina, which is home to the Hendrick Motorsports Museum & Team Store. NASCAR fans should not miss this one, as you can learn more about the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, discovering the technology and thinking that makes these races possible. The museum is free to visit.

Spa-Francorchamps Racetrack Museum, Belgium

Another famous European motorsports museum, the Spa-Francorchamps Racetrack Museum celebrates Belgium’s rich racing history. You can see beloved vehicles such as Coopers, Porsches, Chevrons, Marches and Ferraris across the ages. As you walk through the museum’s cellar, you’ll feel like you took a step back through time when you look at documents and other old memorabilia.

Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, Florida

Whether you know him as the “King of the Dragsters” or “Big Daddy,” Don Garlits is one of the most popular drag racers in the history of the sport. The Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing is his creation, and it includes 17 of his own World Championship titles and a slew of classic cars from the beginning of Garlits’ racing career in the 1950s to his retirement.

Arizona Open Wheel Racing Museum and the Motorsports Hall of Fame, Arizona

You can keep yourself entertained all day when visiting the Arizona Open Wheel Racing Museum, which shares a building with the Motorsports Hall of Fame. Steve Stroud opened the museum after customers at his Phoenix Parker Store would inquire about his memorabilia. With 16,000 square feet of space, there’s plenty of room for exhibits featuring cars from the Phoenix International Speedway, the Copper World Classic and more.

Richard Childress Racing (RCR) Museum, North Carolina

Richard Childress Racing has won 15 championships in nearly 50 years. Celebrate that heritage at the RCR Museum, which is 47,000 square feet. Any vehicle that Childress or his team drove is on display, including the Monte Carlo that won the 1998 Daytona 500, All Star vehicles driven by Dale Earnhardt between 1995 and 2000, Earnhardt’s No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet, and more.

Hajek Motorsports Museum, Oklahoma

Heavily featuring cars and memorabilia from Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt, Bob Glidden, Don Nicholson and other racing legends, the Hajek Motorsports Museum was founded by racer Brent Hajek. The museum is a repurposed school that includes the Hajek Motorsports Racing Car Collection. Don’t miss other gear from the likes of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Joe Amato, Dale Jarrett, Kenny Bernstein and more.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, Indiana

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is yet another revered US destination for motorsports fanatics. If you’re here to see a race, make sure to book some time for a trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. Founded in 1956 by Karl Kizer and Anton Hulman Jr., the museum expanded in 1975 and is now 30,000 square feet. The Hall of Fame is still active, while the museum itself features vehicles of all kinds, including drag racers, motorcycles, midget cars, NASCARs and INDYCARs.

Donington Grand Prix Exhibition, England

The Donington Grand Prix Exhibition is also a must-see. You can visit any of its 130 exhibits, full of antique Williams and McLarens. The Wheatcroft Collection, created by Kevin Wheatcroft, features motorcycles and cars driven during World War II. “The time is right to open the doors to some of these treasures,” Wheatcroft said. “I have been badgered for many years to show these vehicles to the public and very much look forward to adding more vehicles as each month goes by.”

fords in museum

Hockenheimring Motor-Sport-Museum, Germany

The Hockenheimring track Baden-Wurttemberg hosts the German Grand Prix. Nearby is the Hockenheimring Motor-Sport-Museum, which was founded in 1986 and has more than 300 exhibits showcasing touring cars, bikes and Formula 1 winners. With 23,680 square feet of space, the cars that you see in the exhibits are switched out regularly. Guided tours are available.

Museu do Automobilismo Brasileiro, Brazil

If you’re ever traveling in Brazil, particularly Passo Fundo, don’t miss the Museu do Automobilismo Brasileiro, which translates to the Museum of Brazilian Auto Racing. The Prix Hotel, erected in 2012, is nearby. The museum opened in 1996 but expanded in later years. Learn more about the history of Brazilian auto racing with more than 100 cars produced in various eras.

World of Speed Museum, Oregon

A nonprofit, the World of Speed Museum encompasses all racing, including hydroplanes, NASCAR, open wheels, motorcycles, land speed racing and drag racing. Any time you visit, you can see nearly 100 cars in changing exhibits, including the 1979 Oldsmobile 442 driven by Cale Yarborough, the 1988 Chevy Monte Carlo driven by Terry Labonte, the 1974 Dodge Charger driven by Jim Vandiver, the 2000 Chevy Impala driven by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and more.

Museo Ferrari, Italy

The Museo Ferrari in Maranello is a Mecca for many and a testament to the history of this luxury car manufacturer. Test your own sharp driving instincts with interactive pit stop walls at the World Championship and Formula One exhibits. Other exhibits are changed out often, so no two experiences are alike. Watch clips of Grand Prix races through the years, take souvenir photos and drive in a Formula One virtual simulator while you check out some seriously impressive vehicles.

New England Auto Racers (NEAR) Mobile Hall of Fame Museum, Connecticut

Dig deep into New England racing history at the NEAR Mobile Hall of Fame Museum. This nonprofit relies on work from volunteer car lovers and donations from Connecticut patrons to keep running. Unlike the other museums on this list, this NEAR establishment is mobile and travels with the organization. You’ll have to check the NEAR calendar to see when the museum is coming to a town near you.

silver car

Museo Juan Manuel Fangio, Argentina

The Museo Juan Manuel Fangio honors Argentinian racing great Juan Manuel Fangio and is just a short stroll from his childhood home. A Formula One champion five times over, Fangio’s prizes are all on display, as are the 27 vehicles that he raced to achieve victory, like his 1939 Chevrolet and 1929 Ford A. Cars that belonged to other popular racers, including Edward House and Juan Galvez, are also proudly shown off.

National Motor Racing Museum, Australia

Expand your horizons as you take in the thrill of Australian motorsports at the National Motor Racing Museum. The Bathurst Light Car Club opened the museum in 1988, and the Bathurst Regional Council became owners in 1997. With 60 motorcycles and 50 cars on the museum’s grounds, it’s a good thing the building is open seven days a week.

Miller Motorsports Park Museum, Utah

Housed inside the Comfort Inn & Suites in Tooele, Utah, is the Miller Motorsports Park Museum. Created by car fanatic Larry H. Miller, the museum began as a place for Miller to teach others about Carroll Shelby’s Cobra. His collection grew to include Shelby Mustangs, Ford GT40s and more. Some of his vehicles have competed in races, like the 1966 MKII Ford GT40, the 1964 Cobra Daytona Coupe and more.

National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum, Iowa

Can’t get enough of sprint cars? The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum in Knoxville, Iowa, should be your next road trip destination. This nonprofit was established in 1992 and has four stories. The 8,000-square-foot Donald Lamberti National Sprint Car Museum is on the first floor. With 25 vehicles plus various memorabilia such as helmets and trophies, there’s a lot to take in.

NASCAR Hall of Fame, North Carolina

Immerse yourself in all things NASCAR at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. When you walk in, there’s a huge video screen with a looping video introducing you to the history of this racing giant. The exhibits change during any given month, but some permanent fixtures include race memorabilia such as drivers’ uniforms, photos and original vehicles. You can learn what it’s like to be in a real NASCAR race with a virtual simulator. After you practice, climb into a NASCAR replica vehicle on a recreated track to digitally compete with others.

 

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40 Companies That Crash-Test Cars and Influence Safety Ratings

car shattered glass

Car manufacturers have evolved their safety measures as new technology is introduced. While airbags are a given, many newer vehicles come with high-tech safety features such as auto-braking, forward collision detection, blind-spot warnings, parking assistance, backup sensors, and front and rear cameras, as Mark Vallet writes at Insurance.com.

Even with this new technology and more always on the horizon, companies exist that extensively test cars for their safety, doing crash tests and influencing safety ratings. These companies work to ensure that all cars sold are reliable and ready to hit the road.

Here are 40 of those companies, each working to improve the safety of the vehicles we all rely on.

Humanetics

While the crash test dummy is a common tool for testing for vehicular safety now, Humanetics was the first company to check ejection seats in spacecraft and aircraft with the dummies back in the 1950s. These dummies were so popular that companies began using them to test cars. Responsible for the Hybrid I, Hybrid II and Hybrid III crash test dummies, Humanetics absorbed European dummy manufacturer TNO Automotive in the late 1990s.

Autoliv

With an annual promise to preserve the lives of 30,000 drivers and passengers, Autoliv has produced safety equipment for more than 60 years. Some of these products include child restraints, night vision systems, airbags, dynamic spotlights, radar systems and more. The company does its safety testing in the United States, China, Sweden, Japan, Germany, France and other countries on various tracks.

Collision Safety Consultants

Billy Walkowiak of Collision Safety Experts offers more than just vehicular repairs post-accident. He and his team of car inspectors will test the vehicle to make sure it’s ready to get back on the road. He reviews the parts used, driving specifications by car manufacturer and more to make an honest assessment. If the car needs more work, Walkowiak and his team will take care of it.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

The IIHS works to prevent vehicular accidents to make US streets safer. This nonprofit organization works in association with the Highway Loss Data Institute, which releases “scientific studies of insurance data representing the human and economic losses resulting from the ownership and operation of different types of vehicles and by publishing insurance loss results by vehicle make and model.”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

The NHTSA has a Vehicle Crash Test Database that includes the results of crash tests according to a car’s year, make and model. The organization also produces reports and data like the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, traffic records, state data programs, Special Crash Investigations, the National Driver Register and the National Automotive Sampling System.

crash test dummy heads

IAV

For more than 30 years, IAV has worked with auto manufacturers to produce vehicular software, alternative drive systems, combustion engines and more. The company does crash tests in Gifhorn, Germany, on a 427-foot track, including pole crash tests, side crash tests, and rear-end and head-on collision tests.

Euro NCAP

Rating a car’s safety on a scale of one to five stars, Euro NCAP explains what these stars mean:

  • One star — “Marginal crash protection”
  • Two stars — “Nominal crash protection” but needs more technology to be a safer car
  • Three stars — “Average to good occupant protection” but also needs more technology to be a safer car
  • Four stars — Has crash avoidance technology and an “overall good performance in crash protection”
  • Five stars — Has the best crash test technology available

Euro NCAP does warn that ratings can change and that you should always use the most recent star rating for any particular car.

Mobileye

Producing driver assistance systems, Mobileye is especially known for the EyeQ chip, which can “perform detailed interpretations of the visual field in order to anticipate possible collisions with other licensed vehicles, pedestrians, animals, debris and other obstacles.” This chip can quickly scan traffic lights, traffic signs, barriers, boundaries and more to alert you of potential dangers.

ZF TRW

ZF Friedrichshafen AG and TRW Automotive merged into ZF TRW, which combines the expertise of those two companies. This company, with its headquarters now just outside Detroit, has buildings worldwide with 13 test tracks and 22 technical centers, focusing on areas such as occupant safety, braking, steering, vehicle electronics and more.

Takata

Once a seat belt manufacturer, Takata has since expanded its product line to include child restraint systems and steering wheel systems. Evolving the seat belt even further, Takata has a motorized version that includes servo-motors that can pull tighter to prevent a motorist from being ejected during an accident.

damaged hood

Exponent

With 900 employees who specialize in nearly 100 scientific areas and work in 25 offices worldwide, Exponent is a good choice for consulting. Its engineers have a Test and Engineering Center where each month they test nearly 30 cars. These engineers perform sled tests and rollover tests; sled tests can determine the safety of cars and even aircraft while rollover tests determine how cars react to lateral slides.

CTAG

In Spain, CTAG works “to provide automotive companies with an efficient service to meet their present and future needs.” The company has paired with global organizations such as IDIADA Automotive Technology to expand its crash testing and safety services.

Plascore

Honeycomb core is Plascore’s specialty; these cores can be customized to a customer’s needs. The company has formed a partnership with Euro NCAP to produce barriers that can be used during crash tests. Most of these can be compressed and adjust back to their natural shape after use. Some are intended for side impact tests and others for front impact tests.

Calspan

Working with major brands in motorsports, automotive and aerospace, Calspan offers testing and engineering services. The company, which has been in business for more than 70 years, works closely with the NHTSA. Its test laboratory determines a car’s crash avoidance rating and its passive safety rating (“when a crash is inevitable and the automobile’s structure and restraint systems are called upon to protect occupants from injury”).

HORIBA MIRA

Testing railcars, aerospace and automotive vehicles since 1946, HORIBA MIRA has nearly 40 testing buildings. These are equipped with a pit area, a microcell full-frontal crash wall, and load cell walls. The company’s goal: “By 2020 every journey in the world will be positively influenced by us.”

airbag print leather

National Crash Analysis Center (NCAC)

Developed by George Washington University, the NHTSA and the Federal Highway Administration, NCAC uses computer simulation tools to digitally predict crash test results. The organization has several laboratories, including a high-performance computing lab and a vehicle modeling lab.

AOS Technologies AG

A high-speed imaging company that produces cameras, AOS Technologies AG also has its own crash test facility where those cameras are put to use. Combining fiber optic connections and board crash test equipment with the cameras allows vehicle manufacturers to review all aspects of a crash test, even those that are over in the blink of an eye.

Messring

Receiving the 2015 Crash Test Facility of the Year title at the Automotive Testing Technology Invitational Awards, Messring in Krailling, Germany, is a highly-rated producer of crash test parts. The company sells rollover equipment; attachments; and block systems for use as barriers, moving barriers, control components, MicroTrack rails, propulsion equipment, AEB testing equipment, decelerators and accelerators.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)

Research and development nonprofit SwRI in San Antonio has nearly 3,000 employees who apply their scientific and engineering knowledge toward mechanical engineering and automotive engineering. The facility does vehicle crash tests using devices such as channelizers, work zone attenuation, support structures, crash cushions, terminals and longitudinal barriers.

TASS International

Engineering company TASS International has been in business for more than 30 years but has recently turned its attention to greener measures, attempting to reduce nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide emissions. The company’s Safety Center can test vehicles weighing up to 22 tons, including large trucks and buses. The Safety Center also offers aircraft testing, safety barrier testing, sign post testing, pedestrian head-impact testing and whiplash testing.

seat belt up close

RDP Corporation

Producing sensors, process instruments and testing equipment, RDP Corporation has offices in various states. The company has produced automotive testing equipment for:

  • Equilam N.A.
  • ARIES Test Systems & Instrumentation
  • Cincinnati Sub-Zero
  • Eye Lighting International
  • Data Physics Corporation
  • Endevco Corporation

Some of the products from RDP Corporation that these companies have used include crash barrier facilities, crash simulation systems, high-speed photography lighting and automotive crash test sensors.

Penn State Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute

Penn State College of Engineering’s Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute has its own Crash Safety Research Facility at the LTI Test Track Facility. “A focal point for research pertaining to vehicle accidents, the facility provides researchers with the means to examine crash-related injuries and occupant safety issues; vehicle and highway apparatus design, testing, and analysis; and crash-related data and literature,” the Institute writes.

KARCO Engineering

KARCO Engineering works to improve the safety of motor vehicles for drivers and passengers. Cars are inspected for durability, handling, braking, support structures, crash cushions and accident reconstruction. The engineers at this company routinely perform rollover testing, pole-impact testing, front-impact testing and more.

MGA Research Corporation

New York’s MGA Research Corporation has multiple testing facilities that it sometimes commissions to other companies as needed. The vehicle crash facility tests car safety, the accelerator sled facility (which has been in operation for more than 20 years) tests safety equipment in action, and the strong floor facility base is the home of laboratory experiments. This floor has T-slots that are adjustable for various projects.

Transportation Research Center Inc. (TRC)

In East Liberty, Ohio, TRC has a facility for durability testing. Its building boasts 4,500 acres of space that house an eight-mile gravel hill course, a 50-acre vehicle dynamics facility and a 7.5-mile high-speed test track. The company also offers brake testing, heavy-duty vehicle testing, fuel economy testing, corrosion testing, bus and RV testing, mileage accumulation data and fuel additive data.

car safety test

Indiana Mills and Manufacturing, Inc. (IMMI)

IMMI has expanded from Westfield, Indiana, with facilities across the world in China, Italy, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Slovakia. The company, established in 1961, calls its Center for Advanced Product Evaluation (CAPE) “the only crash test facility of its kind in the world” because of its large barrier blocks. While cars are often tested here, so too are ambulances, fire trucks, commercial trucks, buses, motor coaches and military vehicles.

ARIES Test Systems and Instrumentation

With full crash facilities in Shanghai; Miami and Madrid, ARIES Test Systems and Instrumentation has received Automotive Testing Technology International’s Crash Test Facility of the Year award in the past decade. The company uses double propulsion systems, including hydraulic and electric systems, to more precisely gauge impacts at certain speeds. The hydraulic propulsion cuts back on energy costs from using too much electricity and has closed loop control and valves. Electric propulsion uses Speed-Pro_FC software and direct torque control for fast testing.

Millbrook Proving Ground

In the Bedford, UK, area, Millbrook Proving Ground calls itself “one of Europe’s leading independent technology centers for the design, engineering, testing and development of automotive and propulsion systems, and a pioneer of low carbon technologies.” The company offers safety systems, sleds and full-scale crash tests.

Accurex Dimensional Measurement

A 3D dimensional measurement company, Accurex offers optical metrology systems for crash testing. These can capture the test from all angles since they use various cameras. Some of the company’s other services include motion head testing, crash dummy positioning and crash deformation analyses.

Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI)

In association with the Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises in India, ARAI’s passive safety laboratory tests commercial vehicles, side door intrusions, airbag deployments, seat belt dependability, vehicle rear impact, steering impact and more. There’s even a low-speed crash testing facility.

no windshield glass black and white

TÜV SÜD America

With goals of embracing renewable energy, promoting better energy efficiency and being more sustainable overall, TÜV SÜD America offers training, knowledge services, system certifications, auditing, inspections and testing. The company is responsible for the Munich CRASHTEST facility, which was founded in 1996. Annually, more than 1,000 vehicles pass through.

Seattle Safety

Manufacturing sleds for better crash test results, Seattle Safety in Washington also produces crash test barriers, lighting systems and decelerator sleds. The Seattle Safety Dynamic Pitch Upgrade goes with the company’s ServoSled and can be adjusted for various pitches. The ServoSled itself “performs seat, child seat, seatbelt, and battery regulatory pulses as well as more complex frontal vehicle pulses.”

Jacobs Engineering Group

Joseph J. Jacobs, the namesake of the Jacobs Engineering Group, started his company in 1947. Today, the company develops crash test facilities. The design of these facilities starts with a virtual simulation before any work begins. Jacobs Engineering also offers maintenance services for pre-existing testing facilities.

PMG Technologies

PMG Technologies works with Transport Canada and the Canadian Ministry of Transport to keep Canadian motorists and passengers safer. The company has test tracks (with dynamic tests that measure sound levels, fuel consumption, durability, and braking), environmental chambers, vehicle test structures (which use hydraulic controllers) and a crash area (which tests for side impact and front impact for one or two cars at a time).

ADAC Technology Centre

Dutch company ADAC Technology Centre tests car parts, tires and child safety equipment. ADAC also publishes accident research and data. This crash test facility has received Euro NCAP accreditation.

crash test dummy in accident

Intertek

As a test resource for retail, trade and government, healthcare, food, energy, engineering, construction, chemicals and transportation fields (including railways, marine vehicles, automotive and aerospace), Intertek has nearly 150 years of experience. Automotive engineers perform battery testing, thermal shocks, altitude simulation, noise measurements and environmental exposure.

Measurement Specialties

A “global designer and manufacturer of sensors and sensor-based systems offering custom designs for OEM applications,” Measurement Specialties also offers automotive safety testing. Choose from pedestrian safety testing, sled testing, on-vehicle testing (which detects functionality of position sensors, force sensors and accelerometers) and in-dummy testing.

Magna International

Parts manufacturer Magna International has facilities in 29 countries with more than 125,000 employees. Its Advanced Car Technology Systems (ACTS) test “has earned an excellent reputation as a reliable and flexible development partner, particularly in the field of passive vehicle safety,” Magna writes. “ACTS combines competence in all areas of passive safety with Magna’s detailed component and module-based know-how and with Magna Steyr’s engineering experience.”

APV Tech Center

In Australia, the APV Tech Center, once known as the Autoliv Test Facility, was renamed in 2011, but with the facility’s past, this building has been used for automotive testing for nearly 50 years. It’s 230-foot test track allows cars to accelerate to nearly 50 miles per hour. Digital video cameras capture footage of the test.

Allianz

Since 1932, the Allianz Center for Technology in Germany has provided technical training, posted car accident research and repair research, provided information on road safety, and performed crash tests. The facility doesn’t test for severe accident damage, but rather smaller crashes. However, Allianz can determine how much it would cost to fix the car.

 

Images by:
Greg Westfall, VladArtist, PublicDomainPictures, AngieJohnston, Gadini, Unsplash, jodylehigh, Simon Yeo