2015 Toyota Camry: Car Seat Check

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Redesigned for 2015, the Toyota Camry has a new look that will likely cause shoppers to love it or hate it, thanks mostly to its wide-mouth grille. This midsize sedan seats five, but in our tests it only fits two child-safety seats across the backseat.

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Jennifer Newman | October 24, 2014 | Comments (0)

Video: Parents: Doing This Is Sabotaging Your Teen

What is "this"? Driving while texting, after drinking alcohol, making or taking phone calls and not wearing a seat belt. In the video above, Cars.com Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder explains that, when it comes to teen drivers, the "monkey see, monkey do" rule is in effect, so always lead by example behind the wheel. Watch the video for more.

By Matt Schmitz | October 24, 2014 | Comments (0)

Recall Alert: Evenflo Embrace Child-Safety Seats

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Car Seats Affected: 202,346 Evenflo Embrace rear-facing infant-safety seats equipped with an AmSafe QT1 buckle with the following model numbers: 30711365, 31511040, 31511323, 31511400, 3151198, 3151953, 31521138, 46811205, 46811237, 48111200, 48111215, 48111215A, 48111218, 48111234, 48111235, 48111235A, 48111462, 48411391, 48411391D, 48411392, 48411504, 48411504D, 52911307A, 52921040, 55311138, 55311238, and 55311292. The affected seats were manufactured between December 2011 and May 2013.

The Problem: The seat's harness buckle could become difficult to unlatch due to prolonged exposure to food and drink spills. If the buckle becomes stuck, it could be challenging to quickly remove the child from the seat in the event of a crash or other emergency. "None of the complaints Evenflo has received involved a child injury or an emergency exit from the vehicle," the manufacturer said in a statement.

The Fix: Evenflo will notify registered owners and send a newly designed buckle and instructions for installing the replacement buckle. Click here for a tutorial on how to clean your buckle. If your car seat is not registered, register it here.

What Owners Should Do: Evenflo began notifying owners earlier this week. Owners can contact Evenflo at 800-490-7591, or visit their website.

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By Jennifer Geiger | October 24, 2014 | Comments (0)

Ford's Driving Skills for Life Makes Big Impression on My Teen

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While my 14-year-old daughter isn't old enough to drive yet, I jumped at the opportunity to take her to Ford's Driving Skills for Life, an internationally touring program that teaches teen drivers and their parents about road perils that may not be addressed in traditional driver's education programs. I figured there was no better time to start exposing her to some life-saving lessons.

Read More #FamilyCarAdvice

There was one lesson in particular that my daughter learned at the event, and it wasn't even a lesson the program intended to teach: Among the modules that teens rotate through in this half-day program, drivers get behind the wheel wearing "fatal-vision" goggles. They're designed to simulate the effects of impaired driving, and participants wear them while attempting to navigate at low speeds through a driving course. Since my daughter couldn't drive the course, she got into the backseat while I drove.

By Kristin Varela | October 24, 2014 | Comments (1)

Should My Kid Get the Hand-Me-Down Car?

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My son turned 12 this summer — right around the time my husband's car turned 14, which means the end is nigh (for my husband's car, of course, not my husband). It raised an interesting question: Will whatever we buy as a replacement — our next "second car" — go to my son once he's old enough to drive? If so, my son would push for a Dodge Challenger or Ford Mustang as the replacement for my husband's older car, but what should parents be thinking about when considering whether their next vehicle will become a kid's car somewhere down the line?

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It's National Teen Driver Safety Week, so we're on the case.

Related: Top 10 Used Cars for $10K

Parents first need to decide whether they will pass their current, aging car down to their teen driver or buy a new (or new to them) car for the teen.

Whatever you choose, there are good reasons to buy a brand-new car:

  • You get the newest safety features
  • There are no questions about the car's history
  • You get a full warranty
  • You can choose which features are important (to you, the parent) and which features you should skip for a teen driver (premium stereo, sport-tuned engine — I'm looking at you)

If you're getting a new car you will drive for a few years before it goes to your kid, it's easier to justify the cost. Likewise, if you're going to be driving the car first, insurance will likely be a bit lower by the time the kid gets it, after miles and years have been piled on.

By Sara Lacey | October 23, 2014 | Comments (1)

Why Do Many Teens Refuse to Buckle Up?

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One of my earliest childhood memories is loading up as a family into my dad's wood-paneled Jeep, and hearing, "The car won't start until everyone has a seat belt on." That, and if we wanted to turn the light on in the back, we had to blow on it really hard to wake up the little light-keeper woman that lived inside (thanks for that one, Dad). Because seat belt usage was so ingrained growing up, I've never gotten into a car without buckling up, which makes it that much more shocking that so many teens drive and ride seat belt-less today.

Related: Parents as Driving Instructors: What Works?

Statistics show that in half of all teen fatalities on the road, the teens were not wearing seat belts. What's scarier is that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a new report funded by the General Motors Foundation, Safe Kids Worldwide surveyed 1,000 teens and asked the question all parents want to know: What the @#$% were you thinking? Although, I assume they phrased it more politely.

The top reasons teens admitted to not buckling up on every ride?

By Kristin Varela | October 22, 2014 | Comments (2)

Defensive Driving Courses Teach Teens Needed Skills

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The basics taught in driver's education just scratch the surface of the driving know-how needed by teens, yet, shockingly, not every state requires teens to go through even basic driver's education before getting their driver's license. A Michelin Tire study of 1,000 teens across the country found that half didn't feel prepared when they got their driver's license.

Read More #FamilyCarAdvice

How do teens learn what to do if their car starts to spin, how to check their car's tire pressure and how big a difference a slight distraction can make while driving? These are the types of lessons that can be taught within the safety of a supplemental driving program.

Luckily for those of us with teens approaching driving age, or for those who already have their licenses, there are several teen driving programs around the country, ranging from free to low-cost. Here's a roundup of a few of the larger programs:

By Kristin Varela | October 22, 2014 | Comments (2)

2015 Subaru Outback: Car Seat Check

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In its 2015 redesign, beloved family hauler the Subaru Outback continues to smartly straddle the line between a practical wagon and a rugged SUV, while getting subtle updates to its exterior styling, interior upgrades and improved fuel economy. Families will appreciate the new Outback's roomier cabin, cushier feel and an improved center storage bin that can hold larger items like an iPad. We last car-seat checked the Outback in 2012; that model proved as delightfully utilitarian as the vehicle's reputation. Can the 2015 live up to that easy-to-use, easier-to-love rep?

How many car seats fit in the second row? Two

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By Matt Schmitz | October 21, 2014 | Comments (0)

Parents As Driving Instructors: What Works?

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There will come a day when parents are the passengers and the kids are behind the wheel. Like all other aspects of parenting, it's good to remember that we are often not the first ones to teach our kids to drive, but because so few parenting books cover "Teaching Your Kid To Drive," we decided to write that chapter ourselves for National Teen Driver Safety Week.

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First off, teaching your kids about cars and safety can begin long before your child — forgive me, teen — gets behind the wheel for the first time. While they're driving, parents can discuss with their kids what's happening out on the road, what the street signs mean, why speed limits exist and how to look both ways when entering an intersection (even if you have the green light). My 12-year-old son and I recently had a conversation about what a protected left turn is. It was cool, and now he's always looking to see if there's an arrow and what color it is.

I talked to moms and dads of older teens to find out what kind of parent is the preferred driving coach and to gather tips. The panel is made up of parents whose kids have received their driving permits (so they can drive with a parent or guardian onboard) or driver's licenses.

By Sara Lacey | October 21, 2014 | Comments (0)

Hey, Parents! We're Sabotaging Our Teen Drivers

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As parents, we often subscribe to a "do as I say, not as I do" mentality. This is dangerously apparent with our teen drivers, and studies have shown that parents are unknowingly sabotaging their teen drivers by demonstrating that mentality. Because it's National Teen Driver Safety Week, let's take a look at the common mistakes parents make that may be hurting their teen drivers.

Read More #FamilyCarAdvice

Don't Text and Drive (But I Can): We beat teens over the head with the "never text and drive" message, yet they see us do it on a regular basis. According to a 2012 study by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions, 91 percent of teens reported seeing their parents talk on cellphones while driving, and 59 percent witnessed their parents sending a text while driving.

Monkey see, monkey do. Teens mirror the behaviors they see: 90 percent of teens say they've talked on cellphones while driving, and 78 percent admitted to sending text messages while driving.

By Kristin Varela | October 20, 2014 | Comments (0)

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