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/ A roundup of recommended Web sites

Park and Ride Online


Now that the family jalopy, after transporting you on vacation, is gearing up to get kids to school, scouts and soccer practice, the poor dear deserves a pampering. Whether you interpret that literally by wiping it down with a fresh "didy" or changing the oil when you should, the Web can help you tune in to your vehicle's needs.

Many of us know what we're supposed to do, just not when. To help stay on top of what's happening under the hood, ( can help to keep track. By plugging in a little information, such as mileage, vehicle identification number, make and model, you can get it to e-mail you reminders of what checks and changes need to be done as they come up. It also notifies you if there's a safety recall on your car and links to traffic reports.

A similar site,, also sends reminders of oil changes, and stores service records online. It connects you with online communities and Web sites specific to your vehicle.

Another site, not very visually interesting but informative,, covers everything from washing and waxing to tire rotation and winterizing.

If you're seeking a getting-to-know-you session with your car, check out, which has a guide of what needs to be checked or changed and when. Or you could pull into to find service bulletins for your car by make, model and year. The site also offers auto news, including tips on things such as towing.

And for those who prefer the view from under the hood, the weekend mechanics' page ( has links to find parts and shops.

Worried since two other folks with your car had their air bags deploy while sitting at the stop light? You can check the National Highway Traffic Safety Assn.'s car problems database at /problems for recalls, defect investigations and consumer complaints.

If you're anything like me, you're better at filling the trunk than filling the tank. For us, there is a growing number of sites targeting do-it-yourself wannabes and those who'd rather not get grease under their nails. At one such site,, you can get car-related queries answered personally.

But if you are as comfortable with grease on your face as you are with eyeliner, might be more your speed. It celebrates women motoring enthusiasts by including auto news, message boards, profiles and more advanced tips.

If bonding with your car doesn't get you all choked up, you can pop by the site for California's Bureau of Automotive Repair ( to clear up any questions you have about smog checks. The site also helps locate nearby service stations that do them.

Another way to take care for your car is to know how to operate it in adverse conditions--I think L.A. freeways would count. Out-of-state and foreign drivers can get savvy to the ways of Californians at The site contains hints about our driving culture (we generally don't use turn signals, for example), translations of local lingo and a guide to street signs.

Save your car, save your life. If you find yourself yelling through the windshield at other drivers, check out /~kehamilt/rage.htm to find out where your behind-the-wheel anger ranks.

Instead of flipping out, or flipping off, that furious driver riding your bumper, you can take your complaint online at The site lets you lodge a sort of incident report. While you're at it, you can check your own driving style there.

You might want to make sure you aren't on someone's bad brakes list. Check out to see if a fellow driver listed you as an unsafe driver.

While you're looking at license plates, you can check to see whether the moniker you've dreamed of is still available. Now if you try to enter what the driver you nearly hit called you, the site will probably say it's off limits.


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