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Keep your car clean

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Just when you thought you knew it all about how to clean your car. Here are some myths about car cleaning.

Barry Meguiar, who heads the business of the same name, is one who's out to set the record straight, in the process dispelling what his third generation family company says is the "dirty dozen" car care myths.

Myth 1: Dishwashing detergent is safe to use as a car wash.

First among them is the idea that plain, ordinary dishwashing detergent is just fine and dandy for car wash purposes.

"Any dishwashing detergent is meant to remove everything from the surface," he says. "That will include stripping the polymers of the paint surface and the last thing you want the paint finish to be is squeaky clean."

Meguiar likens the effect of dishwashing detergent to what it does to someone's hands. "Too much detergent will dry the skin. On the surface of a car, the same thing occurs; dishwashing detergent actually accelerates the oxidation process when you use it on a regular basis."

Myth 2: Washing and cleaning are the same.

A car wash removes loose contaminants; cleaning removes stubborn stains, blemishes and bonded contaminants, explains Meguiar. Bonded contaminants? Think tree sap and, almost as bad, an aerosol spray of tire rubber that no one can escape.

Myth 3: If a car looks shiny, the cleaning process can be skipped.

In this case, seeing is quite definitely not something you want to believe. "Your eyes can't tell you what's going on in the paint finish," says Meguiar, who suggests rubbing the face of your hand over the surface of the vehicle after a car wash.

"It should feel like glass if it's right. Most of the time it's going to feel more like sandpaper. You can feel the contaminants." Products like a clay bar can easily remove bonded contaminants, something that's essential before the application of a polish or wax.

Myth 4: Clay bars should only be used by professionals.

Remember how easy it was to use Silly Putty? Using a clay bar is just as easy, the bar (which comes in a kit) is able to grab and gently remove all bonded contaminants (like the tree sap and road rubber).

Myth 5: Waxing can remove swirl marks.

Barry Meguiar says swirl marks, which are nothing more than scratches in the surface of a vehicle, can only be removed by getting to the bottom of it -- literally.

Today's modern paint finish actually magnifies the scratches, making swirl marks one of the more troubling aspects of maintaining a vehicle's finish. "We get more calls about swirl marks than anything else," says Meguiar.

Getting rid of them will depend on how deep the scratch is, with micro-fine, hairline scratches taken care of with a non-abrasive paint cleaner; moderate ones may require something a little more serious; even deeper swirl marks (caused by improper use of rotary buffers and rubbing compounds) may need professional color sanding and buffing.

Myth 6: There is no difference between polishing and waxing.

Understanding what polishing and waxing are designed to do is key. Polishing creates a brilliant high gloss surface; waxing protects the vehicle's finish by coating it with waxes polymers, resins and silicones. Which means waxing won't make a dull surface shiny.

Myth 7: Machine polishers damage the paint finish.

Speed is the key; a dual action polisher or orbital buffer shouldn't be a problem for even the most inexperienced. Not so with rotary buffers, which operate at much higher RPMs and are best left to the pros.

Myth 8: Diapers, t-shirts and flannel make good cleaning cloths.

A smooth surface is exactly what you don't want to see in a cloth, the reason being those fine particulates that you're trying to capture.

While the cloth diaper or t-shirt may be clean, it's actually scratching the surface; a terrycloth premium microfiber towel is what's recommended, the deep pile surface creating a buffer zone that will pick up the bad stuff, not grind it into the paint finish.

Myth 9: Wax protection can be guaranteed to last up to one year.

A claim may help sell a product, but Barry Meguiar says there are enough variables in place that make any such guarantees suspect.

A better strategy might be to consider those differences -- weather, use of road salt, whether your vehicle is parked outside or garaged -- and maintain accordingly. Meguiar's is taking that idea one step further with a personalized service that gives owners options based on their expectations.

Myth 10: Paste wax offers greater protection than liquid wax.

While Barry Meguiar admits this once was true, times have changed. "In the old days, there was a great reliance on carnauba wax, which was the hardest natural wax available.

Fifty years later we have synthetic waxes, polymers and resins that have far more resilience than carnauba and enhance the gloss. Interestingly, carnauba (which people still want to see in a product) actually grays the surface of a vehicle."

Myth 11: Lighting a hood on fire, without damaging the paint finish, proves the protective qualities of a car wax.

It may be a nice science trick, but that's about it. Even if the paint surface has little or no protection, setting fire to a pool of alcohol will produce nothing more than a barely warm surface when the flame goes out--which it will do in just a few seconds.

Myth 12: Once a car is waxed, regularly protecting the paint finish becomes unnecessary.

Remember that tree sap and tire rubber? It's never-ending, which means so is the need to remove it (and everything else the world might throw at the surface of your vehicle).

The best strategy: remove the contaminants with a mist and wipe product before they have time to bond to the vehicle's paint.

Keep your car clean-Tips

  • Bring It In, Take It Out- Have a plan of what will happen to anything that enters your car. If you can carry it into the car, you can carry it out. This is especially an nice policy for passengers or others who may drive your car.

  • Keep a trash bag in a convenient spot in your car. Be sure to have a back-up one ready to go when your trash is full. Target shopping bags are excellent car trash bags because they are thicker than the others.

  • Have a container of window/glass wipes in your car. Make it convenient to clean your windows, inside and out.

  • Protect Your Carpets- use rubber mats to put on top of your carpet mats.

  • Keep Things Organized- use compartments or a laundry basket in your trunk.

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Stuff to Blog About: In the News, June 13th, 2008

Stuff to Blog About: In the News, June 13th, 2008

Bad news from the housing front- unless you're looking for a bargain...

Reports in the news indicate that 73,000 homes lost to foreclosure in May up a staggering 158% from the 28,548 households that were dispossessed in May 2007.
Filings for the month jumped by 48%. Nevada, California, and Florida continue to bear the brunt of the crisis.

This is according to the latest release from RealtyTrac, the online marketer of foreclosed properties. Filings increased 7% from April.


Nevada remained the most troubled default state for the 17th consecutive month. One out of every 118 households there received some kind of foreclosure filing during May, up 24% from the previous month and 72% from a year ago.

California led the nation in the sheer volume of filings, with nearly 72,000 properties in some stage of default, which works out to one out of every 183 households. More than 20,000 Californians lost their homes, more than any other state.

Florida recorded over 37,000 filings and 4,300 bank repossessions. Nine of the top 10 cities with the most foreclosure filings were in either Florida or California.

Stockton, Calif., was the worst-hit city last month, with one filing for every 75 households. Cape Coral, Fla., where one out of every 79 homes received a filing, was second. Other hard-hit places were Merced, Calif., which ranked third, Modesto, Calif., which was fourth and Riverside, Calif., which was fifth.

Las Vegas was the only city outside of California and Florida to crack the top 10. In May it had one filing for every 96 households - about five times the national average - which put it in sixth place.

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TSA Reminds Summer Travelers of the Three Simple Steps to Security

As the summer travel season begins, the Transportation Security Administration TSA reminds travelers that coming to the checkpoint prepared for the security process will lead to shorter lines and less travel stress. Passengers can actively improve the security process by being ready. Following these three steps will help everyone get through the security process faster:
  1. Show ID and boarding pass
  2. Take out liquids (in a baggie) and laptops
  3. Take off shoes and jackets.

1. Show ID and boarding pass

TSA uses a standardized list of acceptable identification for airline travel. Passengers who present a federal- or state-issued photo ID containing name, date of birth, gender, expiration date and a tamper-resistant feature that is free from evidence of tampering can expect to be expedited through the travel document checking process. Standardizing the list of accepted documents better aligns TSA with other DHS components and REAL ID benchmarks.

Passengers should remove their government-issued photo ID from wallets, plastic holders and other similar carrying cases, and present the ID along with their boarding pass at the start of the screening process. Hold on to the boarding pass until through the magnetometer, where it may need to be shown again.

2. Take out liquids (in a baggie) and laptops

Large liquids are still banned from carry-ons. Remember the 3-1-1 rule for liquids, gels and aerosols at the checkpoint:

  • 3-ounce bottles or less for all liquids, gels and aerosols placed in
  • 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag;
  • 1 bag per passenger placed separately in a security bin for X-ray screening.

The liquid restriction applies only to carry-on bags. Passengers can pack larger quantities of liquids and gels in checked baggage. Laptops must be taken out of their cases and placed in a separate bin for X-ray.

3. Take off shoes and jackets

Removing footwear for X-ray screening is required. Wearing footwear that can be easily removed helps speed the process. Please also put your jackets and sweaters in the bin.

"We recognize that the liquid restrictions and shoe removal are pain points for the public but they are necessary security measures based on current information," said Kip Hawley, TSA administrator. "Passengers can help the process by being prepared and recognizing that our officers are there for your safety. Please cooperate with our officers because your safety is their priority."

TSA is in the process of deploying more than 200 new technology units at the nation’s largest airports in time for summer travel. This technology includes multi-view advanced technology X-ray and millimeter wave, a form of whole body imaging technology. Multi-view advanced technology X-ray gives the security officers a better look at what is in carry-on baggage and has the potential to speed up the process because fewer bag checks will be required. A total of 600 of these machines will be deployed during 2008. Millimeter wave enables TSA officers in a matter of seconds to detect weapons, explosives and other metallic and non-metallic threat items without physical contact.

For more information on what to expect, tips for people with special needs, and what you can bring, please visit the TSA Web site at

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Car Ads: Reading Between the Lines

The latest car craze in the US is focused around fuel economy. Say good-bye to those over-sized vehicles and say hello to those small hybrids.

The Federal Trade Commission warns that many new car dealers advertise unusually low interest rates and other special promotions. Ads promising high trade-in allowances and free or low-cost options may help you shop, but finding the best deal requires careful comparisons.

Many factors determine whether a special offer provides genuine savings. The interest rate, for example, is only part of the car dealer’s financing package. Terms like the size of the downpayment also affect the total financing cost.

Questions About Low Interest Loans

A call or visit to a dealer should help clarify details about low interest loans. Consider asking these questions:

  • Will you be charged a higher price for the car to qualify for the low-rate financing? Would the price be lower if you paid cash, or supplied your own financing from your bank or credit union?
  • Does the financing require a larger-than-usual downpayment? Perhaps 25 or 30 percent?
  • Are there limits on the length of the loan? Are you required to repay the loan in a condensed period of time, say 24 or 36 months?
  • Is there a significant balloon payment —possibly several thousand dollars — due at the end of the loan?
  • Do you have to buy special or extra merchandise or services such as rustproofing, an extended warranty, or a service contract to qualify for a low-interest loan?
  • Is the financing available for a limited time only? Some merchants limit special deals to a few days or require that you take delivery by a certain date.
  • Does the low rate apply to all cars in stock or only to certain models?
  • Are you required to give the dealer the manufacturer’s rebate to qualify for financing?

Questions About Other Promotions

Other special promotions include high trade-in allowances and free or low-cost options. Some dealers promise to sell the car for a stated amount over the dealer’s invoice. Asking questions like these can help you determine whether special promotions offer genuine value.

  • Does the advertised trade-in allowance apply to all cars, regardless of their condition? Are there any deductions for high mileage, dents, or rust?
  • Does the larger trade-in allowance make the cost of the new car higher than it would be without the trade-in? You might be giving back the big trade-in allowance by paying more for the new car.
  • Is the dealer who offers a high trade-in allowance and free or low-cost options giving you a better price on the car than another dealer who doesn’t offer promotions?
  • Does the "dealer’s invoice" reflect the actual amount that the dealer pays the manufacturer? You can consult consumer or automotive publications for information about what the dealer pays.
  • Does the "dealer’s invoice" include the cost of options, such as rustproofing or waterproofing, that already have been added to the car? Is one dealer charging more for these options than others?
  • Does the dealer have cars in stock that have no expensive options? If not, will the dealer order one for you?
  • Are the special offers available if you order a car instead of buying one off the lot?
  • Can you take advantage of all special offers simultaneously?

You’re not limited to the financing options offered by a particular dealer. Before you commit to a deal, check to see what type of loan you can arrange with your bank or credit union.

Once you decide which dealer offers the car and financing you want, read the invoice and the installment contract carefully. Check to see that all the terms of the contract reflect the agreement you made with the dealer. If they don’t, get a written explanation before you sign. Careful shopping will help you decide what car, options, and financing are best for you.

For More Information

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Tips for saving money with your vacation

  • 1. Stay local if not at home. Think of all the places you can visit that are within a day's drive.
  • 2. Camping is a great way for a family to bond.
  • 3. Be flexible. You don't have to stay at a 5 star hotel or fly first class.
  • 4. Check out flights from smaller airports. Many times, these can be bargains.
  • 5. When there are more than one going on the trip, believe it or not, driving may still be less expensive in the long run. Plus, you'll have a car at your destination.
  • 6. Stay in the US. The dollar has seen better days and will see better days abroad.
  • 7. Look for hotels that offer free breakfast. While continental may be viewed more as a convenience rather than a meal. some hotels will give you eggs and more.
  • 8. Consider combining meals or eating a light snack for lunch and then an early dinner.
  • 9. Look at rest stops and in hotel lobbies for coupons.
  • 10. Brink water bottles. They are a whole lot cheaper at your local warehouse club than at an amusement park.
  • 11. Check out the internet for deals. You can also make your own reservations.
  • 12. Consider spending a day just sitting by the pool and being together as a family r anther than at a pricey attraction.
  • 13. Seek out free spots while on vacations, such as scenic parks.
  • 14. Travel after peak season. You can save a lot of money traveling on October rather than August, when it may be more crowded.
  • 15. Sometimes the all inclusive trips are the best deals. They may throw in meals, drinks and more. $6.95 .com Sale 120x90

Job Seeking Advice from the BBB

The job market has tightened up this year. The unemployment rate in the U.S. is currently at around 5.0 percent and with gas prices and a poor economy, unemployment is likely to get worse. With an uncertain economy and employment outlook, Better Business Bureau is offering guidance to job seekers.

There are more than 7.6 million Americans who are currently unemployed and looking for work—approximately 800,000 more than were unemployed this time last year. Industries in which jobs were lost have generally remained consistent, mainly centered in areas hard hit by the housing downturn: construction, manufacturing and retail trade. Jobs have recently been added in health care and professional and technical services.

“With the unemployment rate projected to rise, millions of Americans may soon be struggling to find work,” said Steve Cox, BBB spokesperson. “There are many places job hunters can go for help landing a job, but they need to make sure they’re using an organization they can trust – this is as easy as checking the business out at”

  • Public Employment Service (a.k.a Job Service) is a federally-funded and state-operated program that is available in all 50 states. Not only does this service have nearly 1,700 offices across the country providing free assistance to job hunters, it also manages America's Job Bank (AJB) which lists hundreds of thousands of job opportunities. For more information visit:

  • Temporary (or Temp) Services place employees at companies which are looking for temporary help. Job seekers do not pay the temp service. Temporary placement is one way unemployed workers can supplement their income while looking for a more permanent job, and temporary positions can sometimes evolve into full-time positions.

  • Employment Agencies search for employees to fill permanent full or part-time positions at businesses. Typically, businesses pay for the service of the employment agency but, in some cases, the job hunter might be on the hook for fees.

  • Executive or Career Counseling Services help job hunters evaluate their career path and provide guidance on resume writing, interview techniques and presentation. Career counselors may even help job seekers identify businesses at which to apply. Counseling services typical charge individuals as much as several thousand dollars for this service and typically don’t guarantee job placement.

BBB offers the following advice for job hunters when enlisting the help of an agency or counselor to find a new job:

• Always check out a job placement or career counseling organization with BBB first. Job hunters can visit to view reliability reports that show not only how many complaints a company has received, but also if they work to resolve disputes with clients.

• In some cases, state laws apply to job placement companies or career counselors so job seekers should make sure they’ve enlisted the help of a company that meets all licensing requirements. BBB also recommends visiting the National Board for Certified Counselors online at,, to search for certified professionals.

• Job hunters should carefully review any contracts for counseling or placement services, making sure all oral promises are included, even if that means taking the contract home and having a trusted friend or relative also review the document.

• Job seekers should be wary of paying upfront fees to a placement agency and be extremely cautious when giving out credit card or bank account information.

For additional BBB advice on finding a job, including tips and techniques for writing a resume and performing well in job interviews, go to

Before that weather disaster hits- Be Prepared Financially

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says that when it comes to preparing for situations like weather emergencies, financial readiness is as important as a flashlight with fully charged batteries.

Leaving your home can be stressful, but knowing that your financial documents are up-to-date, in one place, and portable can make a big difference at a tense time. Here are some tips from the FTC for financial readiness in case of an emergency:
  • Conduct a household inventory. Make a list of your possessions and document it with photos or a video. This could help if you are filing insurance claims. Keep one copy of your inventory in your home on a shelf in a lockable, fireproof file box; keep another in a safe deposit box or another secure location.
  • Buy a lockable, fireproof file box. Place important documents in the box; keep the box in a secure, accessible location on a shelf in your home so that you can “grab it and go” if the need arises. Among the contents:
    • your household inventory
    • a list of emergency contacts, including family members who live outside your area
    • copies of current prescriptions
    • health insurance cards or information
    • policy numbers for auto, flood, renter’s, or homeowner’s insurance, and a list of telephone numbers of your insurance companies
    • copies of other important financial and family records — or notes about where they are — including deeds, titles, wills, birth and marriage certificates, passports, and relevant employee benefit and retirement documents. Except for wills, keep originals in a safe deposit box or some other location. If you have a will, ask your attorney to keep the
      original document.
    • a list of phone numbers or email addresses of your creditors, financial institutions, landlords, and utility companies (sewer, water, gas, electric, telephone, cable)
    • a list of bank, loan, credit card, mortgage, lease, debit and ATM, and investment account numbers
    • Social Security cards
    • backups of financial data you keep on your computer
    • an extra set of keys for your house and car
    • the key to your safe deposit box
    • a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks. ATMs or financial institutions may be closed.
  • Consider renting a safe deposit box for storage of important documents. Original documents to store in a safe deposit box might include:
    • deeds, titles, and other ownership records for your home, autos, RVs, or boats
    • credit, lease, and other financial and payment agreements
    • birth certificates, naturalization papers, and Social Security cards
    • marriage license/divorce papers and child custody papers
    • passports and military papers (if you need these regularly, you could place the originals in your fireproof box and a copy in your safe deposit box)
    • appraisals of expensive jewelry and heirlooms
    • certificates for stocks, bonds, and other investments and retirement accounts
    • trust agreements
    • living wills, powers of attorney, and health care powers of attorney
    • insurance policies
    • home improvement records
    • household inventory documentation
    • a copy of your will
  • Choose an out-of-town contact. Ask an out-of-town friend or relative to be the point of contact for your family, and make sure everyone in your family has the information. After some emergencies, it can be easier to make a long distance call than a local one.
  • Update all your information. Review the contents of your household inventory, your fireproof box, safe deposit box, and the information for your out-of-town contact at least once a year.
This is one of various helpful tips from the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, in “Financial Readiness: As Important as Fully Charged Batteries.” To learn more, go to For more tips on financial management during hurricane season, check out the FTC’s Web page on hurricane recovery: Both of these FTC resources have links to other government agencies for general tips on hurricane planning.


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