Iberian Car Rental Tips

Renting a car in Spain and Portugal is a great way to see the countryside, but some tips are in order.

Most guide books recommend taking collision damage waiver coverage, even if one’s employer or credit card company normally insures against accidents.

This is because local authorities will reportedly hassle, or even retain accident participants until the issue of their insurance coverage is resolved. This can take one or two days out of your vacation, haggling with local authorities and awaiting documentation to be relayed from the U.S., even if you are not personally at financial risk.

Note also that local police authorities will not likely speak English. Consider CDW a worthwhile purchase of trip-interruption prevention, costing about $15 a day when converted to U.S. prices.

Police are reputed to be tough on automobile violations and can demand payment of fines on the spot. Driving within marked speed limits and paying attention to signs, which are easy to follow with their international symbols, can help avoid problems.

The best way to park the car when sight-seeing is to enter a town and proceed to the area called the “Plaza Mayor.” At most of these center city locations, a large parking area is attended by a ticket taker. You pay the attendant for your parking permit and then place it in your dashboard window. Lock the car and take the keys and you are on your way for pedestrian touring.

Never leave valuables or bags exposed to view from the outside when you park. Lock everything in the trunk. At night, most paradores provide parking in private hotel lots, but it is best to take everything to your room. Spain, like many countries, has a vandalism problem, and unscrupulous folk will break your window to get at a bag left exposed on a seat. Most cars are standard-shift; travelers pay extra for the few vehicles with automatic transmissions.

All Aboard America!, among several charter bus rental companies, provides convenient services in Phoenix and Arizona. The counter people  explain the details of the itemized bill to the renter and provide maps on how to get from the rental lot to the main highway. They also have service numbers to call if you get in trouble with the bus.

Don’t forget the ask the lot attendant to show you how the dashboard controls work on a European car. It takes time to figure out and it’s dangerous driving into traffic without knowing what all the buttons are for.

Mitsubishi vehicles

The first cars sold under the Mitsubishi nameplate, displaying the three-diamond logo, were introduced to the American market in 1982. Prior to that, Mitsubishi supplied Colts and Sapporos to Chrysler, but in an effort to expand its overseas sales, the company decided to make a move to establish its own identity here. From a modest beginning, Mitsubishi has steadily increased its dealer network, and improved and expanded its product line until it now covers a rather significant portion of the automotive spectrum.

From the moment you get into the Mitsubishi Galant, you get a solid feeling. It is a highly advanced machine that stands on wide alloy wheels and is surrounded by a rippling metal casing that all works together for a remarkable performance, every time you drive it.

Though similar on paper to many other cars in the same class, the Lancer has a touch of quality and driving feel different from most of the others. Build quality is very good on all models and Lancers have a reputation for long life and reliability. Repairs are reasonably easy to carry out, even for the home handyperson, and spare parts are still readily available and competitively priced.

Mitsubishi’s first entry-level crossover, the Outlander, has characteristics that people want to see: low price, compactly sized, has higher ride height than a car does, doesn’t require a big climb up to get inside, easily fits in a garage, versatile interior for hauling people and cargo.

TheCarConnection.com offers you auto news, reviews and advices. There you can find Mitsubishi gallant specs, lancer specs,  outlander specs, photos and a lot of information.

Crashworthy minivan

Ford Windstar continues to hold its spot atop the minivan safety ratings based on recent government tests. In frontal collision tests of 1998 vans, the Windstar earned a five-star rating for both driver and front passenger protection.

The latest tests used a Windstar with lower-power air bags, which deploy less forcefully than the previous version. The new air bags were just as effective as the ones they replaced. This is the third consecutive design of the Ford minivan to earn the top rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Also tested in the latest 35-mph crashes were the Dodge Caravan and its slightly larger sibling, the Grand Caravan. Both received threwstar ratings for driver and passenger.

Windstar also excels in offset frontal collision tests run by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an industry research group. Windstar earned the institute’s only "good" rating and received its Best Pick selection out of nine passenger vans.

Cleaner-air lawn care

For many people, fueling up the mower and cutting the grass each week are as routine as fueling the car and driving to work. But in most cases, mowing the lawn creates a lot more pollution. In fact, you’d have to drive a new car about 340 miles to emit the same amount of air pollution most mowers emit in an hour. To reduce your mower’s harmful effects on the environment, start with a tune-up. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, replace the oil, air filter, and spark plug. Then, adjust the carburetor and sharpen the blades. If you’re not handy with small engines, many repair shops will perform such routine maintenance for about $30. The annual engine maintenance will keep your mower running smoothly, and the sharp blades will slice through the grass with minimum effort from the engine.

Next, try to reduce the amount of time you spend with the mower running. Find the pattern that lets you mow your yard the fastest. And if you bag your clippings, turn the mower off while you’re loading and unloading the bag. Most clippings decompose naturally, so unless your grass is extremely thick, there’s no need to bag. Finally, take extra care when you fill your mower’s gas tank, and don’t fill it all the way to the top. According to a press release from the Environmental Protection Agency, garden-equipment users across the nation inadvertently spill about 17 million gallons of fuel each year while filling their outdoor power equipment.

If you’re in the market for a new mower, check into gas-free alternatives, such as reel-type push mowers and battery-powered electric models.