Safety First

8 Easy-to-follow rules to ensure your dog is safe in your car

Nissan is offering helpful hints for keeping your dog safe in your car.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Whether you're hitting the road to head to grandma's house or just popping by the V-E-T, it's important that man's best friend rides safely in your automobile.

Since the pandemic took hold, there has been a large rise in pet adoptions. According to Rover.com, more than 60 percent of those have been done by people who have little or no previous pet experience.

The American Automobile Association recently reported that 84 percent of Americans have driven with their pet in the car, yet only 16 percent use any form of restraint. In the same study, one in six admitted to driving with a dog on their lap.

dog car safety nissan Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In a recent study, Nissan found that, due to COVID-19, 71 percent of consumers are more comfortable traveling by car than airplane this summer.

That's a lot of numbers that could all amount to one thing - a disaster. That is, unless you follow some rules that will help ensure that your dog is safe in your car.

Rule 1: Buckle up

dog car safety nissan

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

It isn't just humans that need to be buckled in the car. Nissan offers some great advice for owners regarding securing a dog in a car:

'"One recommended way to secure a pet is to use a chest-style harness in the rear seating position. Run a seat belt through a loop on the back of the pet harness, or under the back or the harness itself. Always consult the pet harness information manual for instruction on proper vehicle use. This is an excellent solution to ensure that medium- to large-size dogs stay seated during a trip.

"Another option is using a pet restraint tether, often referred to as a pet seat belt. This type of restraint offers an inexpensive and quick solution for securing pets. As the name implies, this restraint clips to the pet's collar or harness and is often affixed to your vehicle by either clipping into the seatbelt buckle or child-seat anchor to help keep your dog from moving around the vehicle.

"Utilizing a secured pet carrier or kennel is another way to travel safely with pets. Smaller dogs can be housed in portable-style carrier that can be secured in the vehicle's second row using seat belts or pillows to help limit movement. Smaller carriers can also be placed on the floor behind one of the front seats. Medium and large-sized pets should be placed in a sturdier kennel secured to the vehicle cargo area in SUVs or trucks. In either instance, the kennel should be fastened to the vehicle as securely as possible."

Rule 2: Set boundaries

dog car safety nissan

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

According to Nissan, "Cargo area dividers can be used to help keep pets behind the last row of an SUV. These are a great way to keep large dogs out of the occupant space when traveling. It's best to still secure the pet in the cargo area."

Rule 3: Adjust climate control accordingly

How hot is it in the cargo area versus the driver's seat? Second row? Is the sun pouring in through the sunroof on your dog but they don't have vents to aim at them to keep cool? It's important to monitor the changing heating and cooling situation where your precious cargo is seated to ensure that they're safe.

Rule 4: Never leave pets in the car on a hot day

According to an expert with Nissan, cracking the windows of a car has a negligible effect on keeping down the temperature inside a car on a hot day. Don't leave your kids or your dog in a hot car.

Rule 5: In the event of a crash, secure your pet as quickly as possible

It's important to make sure that you and any others involved in a crash are safe and administer any first aid while complying with commands given by first responders. To that end, you'll need to secure your dog while giving them a thorough once-over for injuries.

Keep in mind that your dog may be frightened, especially of strangers - they don't understand that first responders are there to help them too. You may not be able to completely calm them, but you can take steps like using soothing tones, petting them, and holding them close.

How to secure your pet in the car

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Rule 6: Bring water along on trips

Sure, the more water you give your dog, the more often they're going to need to go out, but you don't want to starve them of water for the sake of a quieter road trip. Bring fresh water with you, Many vehicles, like the 2021 Nissan Rogue, have cutouts in the rear cargo area where you can store a gallon of fresh water.

dog car safety nissan

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Rule 7: Get out and stretch

It's not just humans that need a pit stop during a road trip. Pets need to get out and utilize green space, whether it's to use the bathroom, get some energy out, or just enjoy not being cooped up. Once they do, they're likely to be less restless in their crate or seat, allowing for more safe travel. Build in stops to your itinerary taking advantages of towns with dog parks or public green spaces.

dog car safety nissan

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Rule 8: Practice makes perfect

Not every dog likes going for a ride. It will help them (and you) to break up the routine. Don't always follow the same pattern to get them ready for the ride. Get them used to being in the car by sitting in your driveway with the engine running before you take off. Once they're used to being in a car, get them used to being in there with a tether on or in their crate.

You can get your pup used to wearing a harness by putting it on them for a period of time at home, even when you have no plans to go anywhere.

Train them to be tolerant of the moving vehicle by taking them for short training rides. Slowly build up your time in the car with them.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Volkswagen hasn't fully revealed the ID.4, but here is the model in the concept form.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Following Ford and Tesla's model for vehicle reservations, Volkswagen will allow customers to put a $100 deposit down on its ID.4 electric vehicle shortly after its reveal next month. The deposit is refundable.

The model's debut is set for September 23 at 11 a.m. EDT. Reservations will be available immediately following.

The reservation is possible thanks to Volkswagen's new online shopping platform. The new way to buy is designed to help customers avoid the hassles of the dealership experience - something that is a common pain point in customer experience surveys industrywide. The platform also includes shopping tools such as a range estimator, payment tool and dealer selection to assist shoppers with finding an ID.4 model and making the transition to EV ownership.

Volkswagen ID.4 concept The Volkswagen ID.4 concept vehicle reveals a crossover with a low coefficient of drag, helping it slip through the air with ease, making it more fuel efficient.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Users start by building their preferred vehicle. Then, they secure their place on one with a $100 reservation payment.

Once vehicle production starts, those with reservations will be invited to lock in their configuration and confirm their order with an additional $400 deposit. The online ordering system will allow buyers to track their vehicle from production to delivery and let them know when to expect their new ID.4 to arrive at their preferred dealer.

Once the vehicle arrives at the dealership, buyers can interact directly with them to arrange for delivery.

The ID.4 will be produced at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, which is being modified to fulfill the task. It will be sold in all 50 U.S. states.

Volkswagen plans to sell 26 million electric vehicles globally by 2029.

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There are some easy ways to get more miles per gallon.

Photo by Getty Images/boonchai wedmakawand

If you own a car and are among the 99 percent of Americans not driving an electric vehicle, you likely spend a considerable amount of time and money at the fuel pump. And, unless you plan to purchase an electric car, this continued fuel consumption is not going to stop — even Toyota Prius owners need to fill up occasionally.

However, there are some easy things to do, as well as habits to change, that will at least make your trips to the gas station less frequent. So not only will you be using less of the planet's finite gas reserves, you'll be spending less cash, too.

Proper inflation

Midsection Of Woman Inflating Tire

Photo by Getty Images/Siam Pukkato/EyeEm

Make sure your car's tires are inflated to the proper pressure. Don't use the maximum-pressure number on the tire sidewall, look for the sticker or plaque on the driver's side door jamb – these will show you the correct inflation numbers for your vehicle.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 PSI that a tire is below its optimal pressure. In addition to the fuel savings, properly inflated tires are safer and will increase tread life.

Junk in the trunk

Dog by car full of luggage

Photo by Getty Images

If you're hiking with a heavy backpack, you're going to run out of energy a lot sooner than if you're carrying a light daypack. The same reasoning applies to your car. If you're carrying around a 50-pound bag of dog food, the pile of books you keep forgetting to return to the library or your pristine collection of every print edition of the Weekly World News (BatBoy Lives!), your car has to work a lot harder, and therefore uses fuel more rapidly.

According to the DOE, every 100 pounds can drop fuel economy by one percent. So clean out the trunk, removing anything you don't need in there (best to keep the spare tire and jack, though), and you may find that your car actually has better performance as well as improved fuel economy.

​Lead foot or light foot?

Low Section Of Man Wearing Shoes On Pedals In Car

Photo by Getty Images/José Luis Salinas/EyeEm

Are you one of those people who sees every red light as a signal that a race is about to begin? The light turns green and you put your foot to the floor to beat the car next to you off the line. Although pretending you're a racecar driver can be fun, as those revs ramp up your gas gauge is quickly going the other way. Instead, be light and smooth on the accelerator and you will quickly see positive results in fuel mileage. There's also a lot less wear and tear on your car and tires when you take it easy on the throttle.

No speeding

Roadside sign in desert landscape

Photo by Getty Images/Gary Yeowell

A typical speedometer will indicate that the vehicle can go 120 mph —or more — and most modern cars are fully capable of going well beyond most posted speed limits. Not only will that practice get you an expensive speeding ticket or worse (a big repair bill, an extensive hospital stay, or a lavish lawsuit), it will also make your car guzzle gas like it's going out of style.

As your speed increases over 50 mph, your fuel economy rapidly decreases. This is especially true with many of today's smaller, fuel-efficient engines — with less power they have to work much harder as speed increases. Stick to the posted speed and you'll make it a lot farther before you need to stop for a fill-up.

Check your rack

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

Most modern cars go through considerable wind-tunnel testing to make them as aerodynamic as possible, which improves efficiency and performance. When you put a large rack or cargo box on the roof, all of that wind-tunnel work gets blown away. The DOE estimates that a roof-mounted cargo box can decrease fuel economy as much as 25 percent at highway speeds. Skis, boats, bikes or other equipment carried topside have similar results. Granted, there are times when you legitimately need to carry these items, but remove them when they're not needed. Whenever possible use a rear-mounted carrier, or pack your gear inside.

Windows down or air conditioning?

Happy boy look out from auto window

Photo by Getty Images/Solovyova

Everyone wants to be comfortable in their car, and when it gets too hot, the answer is to either roll down the windows (in most cars, of course, "roll down" means push the button) or turn on the air-conditioning. At slower speed when driving around town, lowering the windows makes the most sense.

Air-conditioning puts a load on the engine and will definitely reduce fuel economy. However, at highway speeds lowered windows add considerable drag on your car, which in turn reduces fuel economy. So if you're going to be on the freeway, raise the windows and turn on the AC — there will still be a drop in fuel economy, but this is the lesser of the two options.

Or, you can go with option three (AC off, windows up), but we really don't recommend that during the dog days of summer.

Plan your itinerary

2016 Audi A7

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

If you have a number of places to go, make a plan to cover them all in one outing. Shorter trips with a number of cold starts will use much more fuel than if the engine only has one cold start and stays warm for the rest of your drive. It's also beneficial to plan your route to reach all your destinations with the shortest driving time. Be sure you choose the right time to go, if you can — avoiding rush hour will reduce your stop-and-go driving, improving both your fuel economy and your mood.

Avoid idling for a long while

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Sitting in your car with the engine running is quite inefficient — that's obvious. When you're not moving, you're getting zero miles per gallon. According to the DOE, you can use a quarter to a half gallon of gasoline per hour while idling — possibly more depending on engine size and if your air-conditioner is running. This is why many newer cars shut themselves off automatically when you brake to a stop, restarting automatically when you release the brake. If you're going to be waiting in your car for a while, shut it off. It doesn't take much fuel to restart it, and you'll be saving gas and money, as well as being good to the environment.

Cruise control

2022 Chevrolet Traverse High Country Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Keeping a steady speed on the highway can go a long way to improving fuel economy, and using cruise control is the easiest way to do that. However, this method only works when the road is relatively flat —cruise control will try to keep a vehicle's speed constant even when climbing hills or mountain roads, which makes the engine work harder, thus burning more fuel.

Proper motor oil

motor oil

Photo by Getty Images

Most people don't specify a type of oil when getting their oil changed, but this too can affect your fuel mileage. Look in the owner's manual to see what grade of motor oil your vehicle's manufacturer recommends for your car — using the correct oil can improve fuel economy up to two percent.

Buy a new, more fuel-efficient car

The 2020 Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid gets 100 MPGe and 37 miles of all-electric range for under $35,000 Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Compay

Clearly this isn't an option for everyone, but cars today are among the most fuel-efficient ever produced, so if you are in the market for something new this is your chance to make a difference. If you can increase your fuel economy from 15 mpg to 30 mpg, based on $3 per gallon and 15,000 miles of driving per year, that's a $1,500 savings each year — enough coin for quite a few lattes. Added bonus: odds are the new car will be running much cleaner than your current ride.

Be hybrid and electric vehicle savvy

Rivian R1S

Even if you have already made the jump into a very efficient vehicle, there are still ways to improve your mileage. Avoiding hard braking will make better use of the regenerative braking system, putting more energy back into the batteries — for free. Any vehicle that you can plug in should be plugged in whenever you have the chance — especially true for plug-in hybrids, since the more charge you have, the less often the internal combustion engine will need to run. Most of these vehicles have indicators to tell drivers how to drive more efficiently. Listen to your car — it knows what it's doing.

Public transportation

Young mother father and infant riding city bus

Photo by Getty Images/Tony Anderson

Okay, okay, so we're being Captain Obvious. And Americans love their cars, so this may be the most difficult fuel-saving tip to follow: Leave your car at home. Take a bus, ride your bike, carpool to work (with this option you still get to drive, sometimes) or if the distance is short enough (or you're in really good shape) you can simply walk. It may be a no-brainer, but the less you use your car, the less fuel it will use.

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