The reward of raw cookie dough

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a warning about eating raw cookie dough.  In a page dedicated to the issue, CDC cautions, “When you prepare homemade cookie dough, cake mixes, or even bread, you may be tempted to taste a bite before it is fully cooked. But steer clear of this temptation — eating or tasting unbaked products that are intended to be cooked, such as dough or batter, can make you sick.”  The CDC states that uncooked flour could contain e coli bacteria and that raw eggs pose a risk of getting sick from salmonella. On the surface, those sound pretty bad. It’s important to put things in perspective. Sure, eating cookie dough can make you sick — but it probably won’t.

The truth is that eating raw cookie dough is probably worth the risk.

It’s estimated that only about 1 in 20,000 eggs contain salmonella.  As far as flour, yes, there was an e coli outbreak in 2016 tied to flour that is believed to have caused 63 people to get sick. But that this is not a common occurrence, and even taking it into account, it’s a small number given that Americans consume on average of 130 pounds of wheat flour per capita each year.

Sure, it’s possible that a batch of cookie dough you make could contain relatively rare infected eggs or flour, but Americans routinely engage in risky business.  Adults and their kids ride bikes, ski, play sports, eat at restaurants whose kitchens they haven’t  thoroughly vetted, and so on. At the end, they determine that the fun is worth the risk.  Why shouldn’t the same logic apply to cookie dough? If you routinely make large bowls of cookie dough purely for the purpose of raw consumption, it will increase your odds of getting sick. However, if you make a batch of cookies and lick some raw leftover dough off of the spoon, the risk of getting sick is statistically low.  But, there are no guarantees. If you’re a risk-averse person, you may want to err on the side of caution and avoid consuming raw dough and keep it from your children. But if you decide to indulge in some cookie dough while baking, you shouldn’t feel guilty — you will more likely than not be fine.

Tips for Deciding Whether to Have Your Vehicle Shipped Home

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Vehicle transport companies are busy. More and more car buyers are finding their next vehicles online and buying from long distance, so that means there are many folks making the decision to either travel and get their new ride or have it shipped home.

eimports4Less specializes in long distance sales. We’ve dealt with arranging vehicle transport for almost two decades and we’ve learned a little bit along the way.

Finding the right company to ship your vehicle is the first part, but for this blog post let’s skip that step and assume that we’ve found the right company and gotten a competitive quote for shipping the new vehicle to you.

As an example, we ship many cars to the Chicago area and shipping rates for door to door transport with a reputable company are in the $525 ballpark today.

Chicago is roughly 750 miles away from us, so you can definitely drive straight through if you want to.

There are really only two things to consider when you’re talking about a move of this distance, the weather and your time.

  1. Consider is the season. You don’t want to be traveling by air or car when it’s snowing out. If there’s a chance of snow or some type of severe weather, always ship the car. Snow does not slow down vehicle transporters
  2. Your time. If you value your time, then it’s almost always more economical to have your new vehicle shipped home. If you’re going to miss more than one day at home or work, then it probably makes sense to just have the new car shipped. Delays at the airport and on the roadways is common, so you may end up missing even more time than you planned.

Anything further than a one day trip, just have it shipped. The only exception is if you’re retired or on vacation and you’re just planning on making a road trip out of it. That’s a whole other story and could be the adventure of a lifetime!

Check out future blog articles for tips on finding the right transport companies and for great road trip ideas that start right here at eimports !

Happy Motoring

 

 

3 Tips For Avoiding Hidden Car Dealer Fees

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We hear this same old story from clients of ours multiple times every week. You spend hours at a dealership checking out cars, talking numbers, applying for financing, arm wrestling a dozen managers and a few hours later when you finally get to the finance office…you realize that there are tons of hidden fees that nobody told you about before you wasted all this time and energy. You thought you had a deal worked out!

Sadly this type of crap happens all the time and it must work on some people because there are many dealers that still charge all kinds of hidden fees and never tell customers about these fees until they’ve invested many hours of their time.

This used to be a thing that you heard about with car dealers who specialize in bad credit financing, but now many new car franchised dealers have gotten in on the fun and are starting to mistreat their customers as well.

Here are a few tips from the guys and gals down at eimports4Less that will help save you some time and frustration:

  1. Always ask for the exact total price before going to the dealership. Just ask for the total sale price as if you’re paying cash and just bringing a check in with you. Ask for the total and then the exact breakdown of the items. You need to know the sale price, sales tax, registration, etc. Get that before you leave your home. If a dealer won’t give you that…just move on. You time is too important to waste it there.
  2. Get the exact pricing in writing. Ask for a text or email with the exact numbers so you can plainly see all expenses in black and white.
  3. Always check the dealership’s online reviews. Dig deep into the dealer’s history and you can usually spot a bad dealer pretty quickly. You’ll find many reviews like the ones below with people claiming they were being asked to pay a bunch of nonsense fees.

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Dealers that do business like this aren’t worth dealing with and they certainly don’t deserve your business.

Car Pro Tip: Do as much research on the dealer as you did on the vehicle that you want to purchase. Finding the right dealer is just as important as finding the right vehicle.

Tips for Reading Autocheck Reports

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Autocheck is owned by Experian and their vehicle history report (or VHR) is most notable for employing a vehicle history scoring system. They provide a number and a range — like 85 out of a range of 70-90. This shows their customers how this particular vehicle compares to other similar vehicles built that year. It is meant to be a quick way to identify and eliminate vehicles that might have issues, ranging from accident reports to salvage, flood history, etc.

The scale isn’t zero to 100, which can be confusing to folks researching vehicles. We ran a report on a 2016 Mercedes-Benz E Class and it received a score of 82. Sounds like a good car, right? But this particular E Class was in a major accident, declared a total loss and issued a salvage title, according to the report. The number that matters is the range and, from there, where the particular car scores. In this case, the range for similar E350s was 88-93. The one we were checking, with a score of 82, was 6 points below the bottom of the range — not a great bet for a used car, in other words. We also ran a report on a 1996 BMW 328i with a salvage title. It scored 25 out of a range of 31-53. Six points seems to be the deduction for having a salvage title, but the numbers weren’t clearly explained.

AutoCheck does provide info that Carfax sometimes misses or doesn’t have access to, so running both reports is a must for anyone serious about buying a vehicle. Autocheck has been the preferred VHR provider for auctions and automobile professionals for a couple decades, so they get insider auction info that Carfax does not have access to. For example: many vehicles get sold at auction every day that have a clean Carfax report, but an independent inspector at the auction finds frame damage or previous frame repair from an accident that the car had that was never reported to Carfax. In this case, Carfax will not have this info…but the auction does pass it along to Autocheck and their report reflects that auction announcement. That’s important.

The Autocheck report is broken up into six sections.

Section 1 is an overview. This section gives you a quick snapshot of the important stuff: accident check, number of owners, odometer check, title brand check and their score. This is the most important section and most bad cars can be eliminated from your shopping list by simply looking here.

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Section 2 is the accident check section. This is the area that would give you more info if an accident was reported in section 1.

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Section 3 is the Title Brand Check section. This one is easy to figure out and problems will stand out.

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Section 4 is the odometer check area of the report. This is where Autocheck would provide more detailed information about any odometer issues noted in section 1.

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Section 5 is the Vehicle Use Section. This is where you’ll find information concerning rental car use, taxi cab use, vehicle repo records, etc.

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Section 6 deals with detailed records. This is where you can find registration renewals, title transfers, etc.

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Pro Tip: Pay close attention to section 1, 5 and 6. The other sections are really just fluff and matter very little. The score can also be misleading, so take that with a grain of salt and just read the report. We use Autocheck every day at eimports4Less and we find it to be a very valuable resource.

Tips for Reviewing a Carfax Vehicle History Report

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Reviewing a Carfax report is a must when researching vehicles that you may be considering purchasing.

 
This actually should be the first step in the purchase process because many cars have negative history issues. Researching vehicles via Carfax early in the shopping journey will help you eliminate bad cars quickly so you can spend more time researching the vehicles that you’d consider owning.

 
Carfax does not list much in the way of service history information, but they are very good at providing detailed information when it comes to odometer readings, DMV records, accident reports, total loss and any other sort of title history issue.

 
Carfax lists the important info in a few different sections on the report. Some of the info provided is just retail “fluff” to fill up the report, but most is very useful.

 
Here’s a few tips of what to check for in each section:

 

Section 1: Quick Glance of Vehicle History

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Section one gives you a quick view of the important info that you need to review. This is where you’ll see alerts concerning accident and damage history, number of owners, any noted service records, use type and last reported mileage.

This is the most important section because you can usually spot a bad car right here and just move on to the next vehicle. Pay attention to the accident history and damage history especially. The “USE” section will also note if a vehicle has been used as a taxi or rental car, this is important info as well. Very few shops and dealers report service to Carfax, so the service section is not important.

Section 2: Ownership History

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Section two is very short and there’s not much info to discuss here.

The type of owner is noted again because it’s important to note whether a vehicle is a previous rental car or taxi delivery vehicle. Other than that, this section just summarizes the vehicle mileage and highlights the fact that this particular vehicle has had only one previous owner.

Section 3: Title History

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Section three is very short and to the point. This section deals with title history issues and this is where Carfax really shines. This is the real important stuff and Carfax is so confident in the accuracy of this info that they’ll actually buy the car from you if they missed something here.

Section 4: Additional Information

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Section four is a little redundant. Carfax again lists info about “accidents/damage” reports, etc. Nothing to see here except whether or not an airbag was deployed or if frame damage or a frame repair was noted on a vehicle. This section is not overly valuable.

Section 5: Detailed History Info

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Section five is pretty important and should be reviewed to mainly look for inconsistencies in the mileage that is being reported.

You’ll find registrations, some service info, state inspection records and more here.

Insider Tip:

Pay close attention to section one. You can typically spot a bad car by spending just a few seconds scanning the info listed in this section. Our buyers can usually eliminate a problem vehicle from consideration within five seconds when researching vehicles for our inventory at eimports4Less just by reviewing the first section. 

 

Discovering America’s Rail Trails

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Across the country, old U.S. railway lines have been  transformed into places to play. Removed from traffic, these multi-use trails are worth seeking out.

 

In the 1960s, a group of railroad history lovers and outdoor enthusiasts in Washington, D.C., organized an effort to preserve unused railroad corridors as public multiuse trails.  by 1986, the movement had grown into a nonprofit organization known as the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

Some 30 years later, there are more than 2,000 rail trails scattered across the United States that range in length from a few miles to 240 miles (Missouri’s Katy Trail State Park). Some are well-known, like New York’s City’s High Line, and others are small town secrets. Many trails are open for public activities, including walking, biking, horseback riding, and even snowmobiling.

Elroy-Sparta State Trail
Wisconsin
In 1965, the 32.5-mile Elroy-Sparta State Trail became the first rails-to-trails project in the country. It follows the former Chicago and North Western Railroad line through five towns. The project began soon after the trains stopped running. Highlights of the trail include three rock tunnels, including the .75-mile long Norwalk tunnel. The trail draws over 60,000 visitors annually, and snowmobiles are permitted on the trail in the winter. (Note: Bikers over the age of 16 must purchase a trail pass for $5.)

Atlanta BeltLine
Georgia
The Atlanta BeltLine is transforming a 22-mile stretch of railway corridors into a trail that connects 45 neighborhoods, one the largest redevelopment projects in the country.  An ongoing project covers four inactive freight lines and will include 33 miles of multiuse trails when it is completed. Currently, four sections of the trail are open.

Island Line Rail Trail
Vermont
This stunning 12.4-mile trail begins in the southern part of Burlington and follows the shores of Lake Champlain before ending on a 2.5-mile raised rail bed that juts across the lake. The trail ends abruptly, but the views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains are inspiring. A seasonal bike ferry connects the causeway to South Hero Island, where visitors can try out other bikeways. These include the South Hero loop, which miniature stone castles built on the island by a local gardener as a reminder of his native Switzerland.

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More local to eimports is the Ironton Rail Trail  in Whitehall, Pa.

The 9 mile trail follows the Coplay Creek from North Whitehall through the 110 acre natural Whitehall Parkway. Following the parkway, the IRT turns towards Saylor Cement Kilns and then parrallesthe Lehigh River and the D & L National Trail. The IRT then turns in a northwesterly direction where it again follows Coplay Creek to form a unique 5.2 mile loop. The 10′ wide, flat grade of the IRT, with many easy access points, has a paved surface on 7.8 of the 9.2 mile trail.

 

NASCAR Championship race set for this weekend

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Three spots were up for grabs in the Round of 8 finale and it was this season’s “Big 3” that clinched them in the penultimate race of the season.

Logano advances to Miami with his win in the opening race of the Round of 8 at Martinsville Speedway, when he moved Truex Jr. up the track in Turn 3 on the final lap to pull out the win. And it turns out, it was a move that saved his season considering Logano cut a tire on Lap 95 at ISM Raceway and exited the race thereafter.

Truex Jr. recovered from that disappointing Martinsville finish, though, to clinch his third Championship 4 appearance in the past four years. For “Rowdy,” he got there by winning Sunday at ISM for his eighth victory of 2018.

Harvick rallied for his fourth Championship 4 appearance in five years in the playoff elimination format. His run to Miami hit an unexpected bump due to a penalty following his win at Texas. The infraction cost him 40 points in the driver standings, the result of which sent him from “clinched” to just three points above the cutoff line entering Phoenix.

Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer were eliminated from contention.

The drivers will duke it out at Homestead-Miami, coverage starts at 3:00 pm on Sunday, 11/18 and will air on NBC.