Fall & Winter CAR CARE
OCTOBER 2011 A special supplement from Logan area businesses & The Utah Statesman. Snow tires, antifreeze, winter driving, new cars you need to know about ... it's all here!
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audio processing. To the lay person, that means theatertech offerings put comfort, quality sound on your convenience and safety in favorite radio station or a the driver’s seat. portable screening room in “On the whole, your back seat. to help It’s hard to saycontinue goodbye toconsumer campaign innovations “The Jaguar sound people be more aware of to summer, but as every capture the attention and system is a pretty incredible their cars and the care they motorist north of the Sun imagination of buyers,” need. option,” Darvick said. Belt knows, it’s just a matter Unfortunately, ofsaid time Elliot before you’ll be manager Darvick, “While according parked, you will to a study the council The latest technology provides unique amenities for your vehicl driving on rain-slicked of programming at actually be able to watch conducted, most motorists streets, not to mention ice such as the Ford Flex’s fridge./Creators Syndicate photo Autobytel.com, a leading a DVD 7.1 aren’t ready. More in than 70 surround and snow-covered highways. consumer automotive percent admit that they do sound.” If you’re savvy, you won’t site. not have theirOn cars the winterized wait for thatlatest first flake to melt and The gadgets see who can utilize the most screen, with virtual dials an other end of in preparation for inclement on your windshield to get gear don’t come cheap weather, even wattage possible,” Darvick a digital information displa the though spectrum, Bose has belowyour car in shape for winter -and many are available explained. replace the traditional Energy developedcan its freezing temperatures driving. In fact, the best time luxuryis models instrument panel. Drivers Series stress outEfficient both a vehicle and set to debut toonly start on the process now. vehicles are notlooking its driver.in the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. -- “If but if you’re VIRTUAL DASHBOARDS can customize the screen t If you don’t want to be adequately for to wow prepared your passengers The Mercedes S-Class suit their needs, displaying The system combines lighter lumped into that statistic, winter, driving can be more and make that morning was the first to feature a everything from phone and things smaller here are some you components can stressful and treacherous. To commute a bit more virtual dashboard, and and audio information to power system that do now --with and aafew you can ensure safety and reliability before the the snowenergy without bearable, check winter out whatwait to douses during the upcoming in 2010, the Land Rover GPS navigation and climate half It may not be cold outside yet, but it’s the perfect time to get started on preparing your car for flies: months, it’s best to take in store automakers have Range Rover and the Jaguar control. sacrificing sound quality. winter./Creators Syndicate photo * Stock up: Now is the a proactive approach to for 2010. XJ jump on board with this “It offers great flexibility a refreshing step time to create“It’s a winter car preventative maintenance basics include: A flashlight with including heavy gloves, a hat, socks pioneering -technology. for presenting information inkit. a different direction for emergency It could while the temperatures are -Jumper cables fresh batteries and boots -and a rain poncho save yoursound life if yousystems, get MOVIE THEAT ER SOUND still mild,” said Rich White, In the new Range Rover, to--the driver,” Darvick said which have -An ice scraper, snow -A blanket, hand Candles and safety matches stuck on the road when executive of the “Todirector our amazement, the generally been onbrush for example, a 12-inch LCD Mercedes, Land Rover a tear to and folding shovel warmers, extra clothing --- Bottled water and highCar Care Council, of a racethe temperature drops. The sound systempart arms and Jaguar allsnacks have plans energy dried food page 4 A first aid kit to--unveil dual-view screens Flares, a whistle and tow rope in -2010 as well, though it’ -- Plastic garbage bags, unclear if the technology hose bandage, tire sealant and will tools be enabled the small -- includingfor pliers, screwdrivers and due a utility U.S. market toknife. safety Make sure you have plenty of regulations. window washer solvent, too. technology allows If “This you’re going on a long trip the driverdoto look at the or regularly a lot of distance driving especially on lesscenter-- LCD screen and see traveled roads -- you should a GPS navigation map whil double up on the snacks, water, a passenger can and look blankets and clothing, be at the same screen from the sure to take extra and, prescription medication casea you facemovie vantage, insee DVD an extended wait for help. playing,” Darvick explained Fall CAR CARE, 2011 auto world’s latestPage high2
Get ready for winter’s chill with baby steps
Every vehicle should stash two inexpensive plastic “Call Police” CRASH PREVENTION or “Call Tow” emergency banners in the“With glove compartment. regards toThey safety, can be placed in the front and rear active pre-crash mechanism windows to alert other drivers to are plight. only growing,” Darvick your said. * Check up: Now is also the time look at all things EThetonew Mercedes mechanical and structural on Class sedan will feature a your car -- including the heater, system to detect imminent defroster, interior lights, headlights, collisions andsystem apply belts, the exhaust andup theto battery and charging Have 100 percent of system. the braking your car put a lift sothe that impac a power to on reduce technician can inspect the trunk -- even at highway speeds. and floorboards. They should Lexus, BMW and Acura watch out for small holes that create pathway for deadly carbon offera similar systems, and monoxide fumes to enter the Volvo’s City Safety system passenger compartment.
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Fall CAR CARE, 2011 Page 3
Shop Talk: Ask plenty of good questions to crack the mechanics’ code Power control modules. Rear differentials. Intake manifold gaskets. Confused? It may sound like your mechanic is speaking a different language, but with a little know-how, you can find common ground. “Your vehicle is probably the most important mechanical device you have, and the value is only realized when it’s out of commission,” said Rick Jorgensen, general manager of NAPA Auto Parts in Goodland, Kan. “If you can’t communicate with your repair professional, if you don’t understand what your technician is doing to your vehicle, your technician is not doing his job correctly.” To get the most from your mechanic, communication is key. Don’t be afraid to ask questions -- a lot of questions. “Today’s automobile is an extremely complex
machine,” said Joe Erickson, territory manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Approved Auto Repair Network. “Be informed. Don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions, including specific component names and how they relate to the repairs.” What repairs are needed now? What will happen if the repairs are not done now? Does the vehicle need any further inspection or disassembly? Are there any preventative repairs needed at this time? What will the repair cost when finished? How long will the repair take? Forget about overkill. The more questions you ask, the more information you have to make informed decisions about your vehicle’s care. “Most technicians are extremely good at explaining why repairs are recommended or needed. If you’re not sure what your technician is telling you, stop them and ask them
You may not feel like you speak the same language as your mechanic, but asking questions will help you get there./Creators Syndicate photo
until you feel comfortable,” Erickson said. It also helps to have a basic understanding of key automotive repair terms. Read the owner’s manual and know the following: * Malfunction Indicator Light (MIL): Also known as the “check engine” light, the MIL lights up when one or more monitored systems send improper information to the vehicle’s computers. Make a mental note when the light comes on, and see your technician as soon as possible. * Power Control Module (PCM) and Body Control Module (BCM): These internal computers monitor performance and help mechanics make an accurate diagnosis as to what repairs are needed. * Preventive maintenance: This refers to basics like oil changes, cooling system flushes and transmission service. The owner’s manual will outline a suggested maintenance schedule. Stick to it -- and keep good records. Your mechanic may want to know when your car was last serviced. * Needed vs. Recommended Service: Needed repairs indicate
one or more components have failed, and chances are you won’t get very far without addressing the problem. Recommended repairs are based on manufacturer mileage guidelines or a pending component failure. If you’re having trouble making a connection with your mechanic, review the estimate with a customer service representative who can explain the complex details in easy-tounderstand terms. “A good repair facility will have people who are good at communicating with the lay person and explaining what needs to be done to your car and why,” Jorgensen said. That being said, communication is two-way street. To get the most information from your mechanic, they need plenty of information from you. “People are afraid of being taken by their repair person, so they don’t want to appear that they do not know what’s going on,” Jorgensen said. However, a good mechanic will know when you’re bluffing, so be honest. “Be specific. No one knows
your vehicle the way you do,” he said. “Every little detail will help the repair person find out what is wrong.” Be prepared to answer questions like the following: * When did the problem initially begin? * When does the malfunction occur? Does it occur when the car is idle or moving? * Does the problem occur at high speeds or in stop-and-go traffic? * Is it an isolated event? For example, does it occur only when the air conditioning is running? * If the car won’t run, is the starter turning over the engine? * Are there any odd sounds coming from the vehicle? Above all else, take your time. Be patient in your efforts to understand your mechanic, and don’t hesitate to hit the Internet for additional information. “If you have any reservations, don’t be afraid to hold off on repair approval until you’ve had a chance to do some research and collect your thoughts,” Erickson said. — Creators Syndicate
Fall CAR CARE, 2011 Page 4
YWinter From page 2
â€œAlso check to see if your spark plugs and battery need replacing. You donâ€™t want to have a stalled vehicle in the
dead of winter,â€? advises a â€œPreparing For Winterâ€? online advisory from Mr. Lube Canada at mrlube.com, the
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Canadian chain of franchised auto service centers. â€œIf your battery is more than two years old, take it to your technician to have the charging system completely checked. Older batteries are less likely to start in winter temperatures than newer ones.â€? Since cold weather magnifies existing performance problems, you should take the time now to eyeball fuel, air and transmission filters -- or, even better, get a complete tuneup. An inspection of brakes and tires should also be on your must-do list. Itâ€™s also a good time to have the car waxed to protect the finish from the elements. If you live in an area subject to sub-zero weather or heavy snow and ice, switch to lighter motor oil for easier start-ups and less wear and tear on the engine. You may also want to replace your regular wipers with a rubber-clad winter version that prevents the snow and ice from clogging the blades.
While all-weather tires work well in any climate, if your streets are filled with ice and snow, shift to studded snow tires. â€” Vicky Katz Whitaker, Creators Syndicate
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LEMONS, NOT LEMONADE:
Protect yourself from a defective vehicle When you have lemons, make lemonade -- or so the saying goes. It may be tried and true for some of lifeâ€™s roadblocks, but not every sour situation has such a sweet outcome. When it comes to buying a car and finding out itâ€™s a lemon, the circumstances result in more than just a bad taste in the mouth. How do you know if you have a lemon, and what can you do about it if you do? How do you avoid buying one in the first place? A lemon, purely as it relates to cars, is â€œa vehicle that has a defect that cannot be repaired within a reasonable amount of time or amount of repairs,â€? according to Marshall Meyers, managing partner for Weisberg & Meyers, a law firm specializing in lemon law litigation headquarted in Arizona. Defects that determine whether a car is a lemon
include: considerable problems caused by the manufacturer jeopardizing safety, affecting the market value of the car and the ability to use the vehicle. Recurring brake problems or doors that donâ€™t operate properly due to manufacturer error are examples of this. The owner of a lemon can be compensated with a refund or a car replacement if it is covered under law. Itâ€™s important to research both state and federal laws to know for sure. â€œState remedies offer refunds or replacements from use, market value or safety defects, and federal remedies provide cash compensation from diminished value,â€? Meyers said. Each state has its own rules regarding what qualifies, but generally the car shouldnâ€™t be older than 30 months as of the retail
delivery date. There are also mileage limitations. For some states, once a car has three repairs for a problem under warranty, it may be fit for lemon territory. It is even possible a used car will be covered. First, find out what qualifies as a lemon where you live. Carlemon. com provides lemon law summaries and statutes for each state, as well as information on the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, enacted in 1975, which â€œmakes breach of warranty a federal law.â€? If the car doesnâ€™t qualify as a lemon in your state, the site lays out other resources that will help. Meyers recommended documenting all repairs in order to have a case. â€œIf you have a problem you canâ€™t fix, bring it in for repairs and keep records,â€? he said. â€œThatâ€™s the purpose of a warranty -- to help repair
your car.â€? Make sure all documentation is accurate and the problems written by both the vehicle owner and dealership are detailed and consistent. Keep all logs of repairs or random breakdowns, noting mileage and exactly what happened. These are the basis of determining and filing a car as a lemon. The owner needs to be in charge and aware of what is documented. â€œYou must describe an unfixed defect the same, each time you take the vehicle in for repair, and you must make sure that your complaint is written on the repair order,â€? states carlemon.com. It also offers a vehicle repair log with detailed sections to fill, from price and odometer readings to problem descriptions and vehicle information. After documenting
the carâ€™s repair history, an informal dispute resolution through the manufacturer is an option a consumer may take. However, according to Steve Solomon, author of â€œThe Good, the Bad and the Rest: State Lemon Laws and Protection for Consumers,â€? from the journal of the American Bar Association, â€œThe major criticisms of manufacturer-funded dispute programs are that they are comparable to the â€˜wolf guarding the chicken coop,â€™ and that the results are more protective of car makers than of the consumer.â€? Alternatively, you may consider hiring an attorney who works on lemon law cases and taking the manufacturer to court. The attorneys are paid by the manufacturer, not the consumer, so they have the consumerâ€™s interests
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Fall CAR CARE, 2011 Page 6
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AAA Utah wants undistracted drivers AAA Utah is encouraging motorists to keep their eyes on the road as part of Heads Up Driving Week. That means keeping the cell phone locked in the trunk, skipping the drive-thru, and not playing DJ with the radio. “It only takes an instant for a crash to occur. In fact, a study by AAA found that the odds of being involved in a crash, or a near crash, double when drivers look away from the road in front of them for two seconds or longer,” said AAA Utah spokesperson Rolayne Fairclough. “We hope that by driving distractionfree for a week, which allows people to have their heads up and focused on the road, drivers will end up picking up the habit for life.” A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that 52 percent of drivers say they feel less safe on the roads now than they did five years ago. The leading reason for that sense of unease is distracted driving. Eighty-eight percent of motorists rate drivers who text and email as a very serious threat to their safety. AAA’s Heads Up Driving Week is from September 26 to October 2. AAA offers the following tips to minimize distractions: 6WRZHOHFWURQLFGHYLFHV7XUQ off your phone before you drive so you won’t be tempted to use it while on the road. You could also pull over to a safe place to
talk on the phone or to send and receive text messages or emails. 3UHSDUHNLGVDQGSHWVIRUWKH trip. Get the kids safely buckled in and situated with snacks and entertainment before you start driving. If needed, pull off the road to safely care for them or pets. 6DWLVI\WKDWFUDYLQJRIIWKH road. Eat meals and snacks before driving, or stop for an eating break. *HW\RXUYHKLFOHURDGUHDG\ Adjust seat positions, climate controls, sound systems and other devices before you leave, or while your vehicle is stopped, and store loose gear. Make sure your headlights are spotless so you can see everything on the road and other drivers can see you properly. 'UHVVIRUVXFFHVVEHIRUH\RX get in the car. Your car isn’t a dressing room. Brush your hair, shave, put on make-up, and tie your necktie before you leave or once you reach your destination. (QOLVWSDVVHQJHUV$VNDSDVsenger to help you with activities that may be distracting. AAA Utah offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to more than 175,000 members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago.
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in mind. Take advantage of consultations. Some websites provide resources to find attorneys for each state, such as lemonlawyers.net. Always be aware of state Lemon Laws before purchasing your next vehicle. Some states don’t honor leased vehicles or have lemon laws that are more business friendly as opposed to consumer friendly. Make sure a used car dealer provides a CARFAX report and documentation alerting the consumer about a lemon car. Pay attention to anything that seems “off.” If it’s a new car with low miles at a used car dealership, it may be a lemon. As Meyers said, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” If you pay attention before your next car purchase and keep detailed documentation of repairs, your lemons may turn into lemonade after all.— Lauren Baumbauer, Creators Syndicate
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Avoid tows in rain or snow this winter — AAA offers seasonal safety tips
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – The season of snow, rain, fog, and weather-related auto accidents is upon us. In preparation, AAA Utah urges motorists to get their vehicles ready for the upcoming fall and winter weather to reduce their chances of being stranded in the cold. “Although summer auto crashes are more often fatal, fall and winter have the highest number of weather-related crashes, deaths and injuries,” reports Rolayne Fairclough, AAA Utah spokesperson. “The combination of poorly maintained vehicles and driver error, along with loss of visibility and slick roads, causes thousands of preventable crashes each year.” There are many ways to help prepare your e car 2nd ad butdriving. we need to change a few for winter e from 8 to 1 and we need to take the nt idAntifreeze off too.Protection A 50/50 solution of engine coolant and kewater thewill phrase “its to get all provide thetime necessary antifreeze hing to the effect of “Jack’s has been orcapability. over 60 years. Don’t Forget—Check hoses: Visually inspect the cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, feel the hoses to see if any hanges another proof are brittleand or ifsend any ofme them have an excessively soft and spongy feeling. Don’t Forget—Flush cooling system: Motorists should have the cooling system flushed and new coolant installed as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Depending on the type of coolant used, it may be necessary every two to five years.
Electrical System The efficiency of a vehicle battery decreases in colder temperatures. Heading into cold weather, have the vehicle’s battery condition tested, especially if the battery is older than three years (AAA Mobile Battery Service will test members’ auto batteries at no charge). If the battery has removable caps, make sure the cells are filled to the proper level with distilled water and that all cable connections are tight and that the terminals and clamps are free of corrosion. Don’t Forget—Alternator belt: While the battery provides a reserve source of electrical energy, the alternator provides electrical power once the engine is running and it charges the battery. Make sure the alternator belt is properly adjusted. A loose belt is a common cause of a dead battery. While older vehicles require manual belt tightening, late models typically have automatic tensioners—but those can wear out or fail. Also inspect the alternator belt for signs of wear, such as cracks or missing segments on its ribbed underside. Windshield Check the windshield fluid reservoir before the first freeze of the year and use a windshield cleaning solution with antifreeze components. Also, check the operation of the pump and the aim of the sprayers. Don’t Forget—Winter wiper blades: Make
sure that wiper blades are completely clearing the windshield glass with each swipe. If there are streaks or missed spots, it’s time to replace them. During the snow season, consider installing winter wiper blades. These special units wrap the blade in a rubber boot that prevents ice and snow buildup between the glass and blade. Tires If any tire has less than 3/32-inches of tread, it should be replaced. All-season tires work well in light to moderate snow conditions, providing they have adequate tread depth. In areas with heavy winter weather, using snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. Don’t Forget—Tire pressure: While motorists should check the pressure in their tires at least once a month, they should increase the frequency during winter months. As the temperature starts to drop, so will the pressures in the tires—typically 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb. Also, don’t forget to check the pressure in the spare. Brakes Brakes that already tend to grab or pull on a dry road are likely to lock on ice or snow-covered pavement, resulting in a loss of
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Fall CAR CARE, 2011 Page 8
Economy cars are now hip and fun ... and affordable If you equate an economy car as synonymous with deprivation, think again. Costing less than $15,000, some of the new models are not only affordable -- they’re roomy, peppy and downright hip. You need to do your homework before buying, though. Selecting the right car for your needs and lifestyle, especially one you can afford, is paramount according to two of the nation’s automobile experts: Jack Nerad, executive editorial director of Kelley Blue Book, and George Peterson, president and founder of AutoPacific, an automotive research firm. “Buying a new car is kind of like going through a cafeteria line. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Everybody aspires to more than they can afford,” said Nerad. “You have to assess the finances -- the down payment and the monthly payment -- and also decide how long you’re going to keep the car. Will it be worth it when you want to sell?”
Peterson concurred. “You should definitely check out major car research sites for consumers, including the Kelley Blue Book at kbb.com and Edmunds. com,” he added. He also advised looking at credible automobile awards programs such as those based on consumer surveys conducted by J.D. Power and Associates and AutoPacific. Regardless of your ultimate choice, when you buy an economy car you can be assured you are basically getting a vehicle that will pass every federal safety and emissions standard, Nerad said. Asked what they considered a few of the top new economy cars on the road today, the auto experts both included the Nissan Versa and the Toyota Yaris. Dubbed “the cheapest car in America” by U.S. News & World Report, the most stripped-down Versa 1.6 sedan can retail for less than $10,000. It features a five-speed manual transmission, no air conditioning and no power
windows, but it gets 26 miles per gallon in town and 36 mpg on the highway. For about $3,000 more, the subcompact Yaris sedan gives you air conditioning and 36 mpg on the open road. The Ford Focus S also was mentioned by the auto gurus, although the price is slightly above $15,000. Basing their rankings on nearly four dozen published reviews and test drives, the U.S. News & World Report’s Automotive Rankings & Reviews recently gave the Ford Focus “Good” or “Very Good” ratings for performance, exterior, interior and reliability, and an “Excellent” for safety. The Honda Fit, at just slightly under $15,000, ranks top in its class in safety features and has been lauded for its spacious interior and cargo capability. It was also rated as the top economy car in a recent consumer opinion survey taken by AutoPacific. While many economy cars offer little in the way of high-tech gadgetry,
From page 7
stopping power and/or steering control. Make sure brakes are in properly working order before winter weather arrives. Don’t Forget—Brake fluid flush: Brake fluid absorbs water that collects at low points in the hydraulic system and causes rust, fluid leaks and even brake failure. On vehicles with antilock brakes, moisture in the brake fluid also can damage expensive electro-hydraulic control units. Most manufacturers recommend that the brake system be flushed and new fluid installed every two to three years. Check the owner’s manual for the recommended service interval. While some do-it-yourselfers might check these items themselves, others can find guaranteed, professional maintenance and repair service at a AAA Approved
Auto Repair facility. AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah has nearly 600 Approved Auto Repair facilities that can help make vehicle check-ups, maintenance, and repairs more convenient and trouble-free, while keeping your car in good condition. The work at AAA Approved Auto Repair shops is guaranteed. To find a shop near you visit www.aaa.com/carcare or call (800) 6454288. AAA Utah offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to more than 175,000 members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago.
DRIVE A BARGAIN -- -- The Kia Soul and Soul Plus have great fea- tures, and both are under $15,000. The Nissan Versa, BELOW, has been dubbed “the cheapest car in America” by U.S. News and World Report./Creators Syndicate photo
Nerad cited the Kia Soul as offering some fun extras generally found only in more expensive vehicles. Under $13,500, “the KIA Soul is a pretty cool car,” he said. The exterior appearance of this “box” car belies a popular high-tech entertainment system within. Here you’ll find an iPod compatible USB that allows you to play favorite music with on-voice command, which is standard on the base model. Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and steering wheel audio controls also come standard in the Soul Plus, which still comes in under $15,000. The diminutive Smart Car also received a mention from Nerad. Built by Mercedes-Benz, the golf cart-sized automobile is noteworthy for its ease of slipping into unbelievably small spaces and for getting
33 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway. The Smart Fortwo Pure listed price is less than $12,000, with keyless entry and a rear window defroster as part of the package. You’ll also get a glass roof, sport steering wheel, CD player and power heated side mirrors when you buy the Smart Fortwo Passion, listed at just under $14,000. While “rakish,” “well appointed” and “loaded with high-tech gadgets” may not be the best descriptors for most of the autos in the economy class, many a buyer is content, and maybe a bit smug, with his or her smaller, less opulent choice in this recession-squeezed period. Driving a new car you can afford while getting up to 41 miles per gallon can be extraordinarily satisfying. — Valerie Lemke, Creators Syndicate
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Fall CAR CARE, 2011 Page 10
Automakers put comfort, convenience in the driver’s seat If you're looking for luxury, you've found it. From theater-quality sound systems and builtin refrigerators to virtual dashboards and warnings for distracted drivers, the auto world's latest high tech offerings put comfort, convenience and safety in the driver's seat. "On the whole, innovations continue to capture the attention and imagination of buyers," said Elliot Darvick, manager of programming at Autobytel. com, a leading consumer automotive site. The latest gadgets and gear don't come cheap -- and many are available only on luxury models -- but if you're looking to wow your passengers and make that morning commute a bit more bearable, check out what automakers have in store for 2010. MOVIE THEATER SOUND "To our amazement, the sound system arms race continues," Darvick said. The new 2010 Jaguar XJ has an astonishing 1,200watt audio system, with 20 high-end speakers routed through 15 channels of audio processing. To the lay person, that means theater-quality sound on your favorite radio station or a portable screening room in your back seat. "The Jaguar sound system is a pretty incredible option," Darvick said. "While parked, you will actually be able to watch a DVD in 7.1 surround sound." On the other end of the spectrum, Bose has developed its Energy Efficient Series set to debut in the 2011 Chevrolet Volt. The system combines lighter and smaller components with a power system that uses half the energy without sacrificing sound quality. "It's a refreshing step in a different direction for
sound systems, which have generally been on a tear to see who can utilize the most wattage possible," Darvick explained. VIRTUAL DASHBOARDS The Mercedes S-Class was the first to feature a virtual dashboard, and in 2010, the Land Rover Range Rover and the Jaguar XJ jump on board with this pioneering technology. In the new Range Rover, for example, a 12-inch LCD screen, with virtual dials and a digital information display, replace the traditional instrument panel. Drivers can customize the screen to suit their needs, displaying everything from phone and audio information to GPS navigation and climate control. "It offers great flexibility for presenting information to the driver," Darvick said. Mercedes, Land Rover and Jaguar all have plans to unveil dual-view screens in 2010 as well, though it's unclear if the technology will be enabled for the U.S. market due to safety regulations. "This technology allows the driver to look at the center LCD screen and see a GPS navigation map while a passenger can look at the same screen and, from their vantage, see a DVD movie playing," Darvick explained. CRASH PREVENTION "With regards to safety, active pre-crash mechanisms are only growing," Darvick said. The new Mercedes E-Class sedan will feature a system to detect imminent collisions and apply up to 100 percent of the braking power to reduce the impact -- even at highway speeds. Lexus, BMW and Acura offer similar systems, and Volvo's City Safety system aids drivers in preventing low speed accidents like rear-end collisions in stopand-go traffic. A word of warning,
The latest technology provides unique amenities for your vehicle, such as the Ford Flex’s fridge./ Creators Syndicate photo
though: This new technology could send repair bills sky high. "While we welcome the advancement of technology that can detect and mitigate accidents, we cringe when we think about the cost of replacing a bumper that also features cameras, radar, night-vision and other technology, so be prepared to take this into consideration," Darvick said. ATTENTION ASSISTANCE Mercedes also aims to prevent driver drowsiness. The new Attention Assist system, which comes standard on the 2010 E-Class, uses smart programming to monitor driver behavior based on 70 parameters. When it senses fatigue, it sends an alert. In other words, no more falling asleep at the wheel. "We like the Attention Assist because it pairs vehicle hardware that serves other purposes with programming to combat a large problem -- driver fatigue," Darvick said. THE FLEX FRIDGE Forget the cooler. The
new Ford Flex features a built-in refrigerator to chill out on the go. Unlike systems that merely keep drinks cool, this rearseat console runs off a compressor just like the fridge in your kitchen. Capable of chilling a room temperature six-pack of soda to 41 degrees in just a few hours, this is
a smart option for avid tailgaters, campers and road trip enthusiasts. In freezer mode, the unit drops the temperature to 23 degrees, and it's insulated to keep items cold even when the car is not running. — Chandra Orr, Creators. com
Fall CAR CARE, 2011 Page 11
Will you find parts if your car has been discontinued? If your car -- and the dealer who sold it to you -- has gone the way of cheap gas, sidewalk pay phones and service station attendants, don't fret. No matter how troubled the U.S. automotive industry may seem, finding an identical replacement part for a piece of your vehicle's original equipment will be relatively easy for a long time to come -- even if individual models and entire lines seem to have been dumped at breakneck speed. That should bring some relief to Pontiac and Hummer buyers whose vehicles have been added to a growing list brands that have been disappearing almost as fast at the dealerships that sold them. Several thousand dealerships, along with their service and parts departments, have been shut in the United States and Canada since the beginning of 2009. While the wave of bankruptcies, restructuring and belt tightening has forced car makers like General Motors and Chrysler to phase out models or drop entire lines, "there's an ample supply of parts," for now
and in the foreseeable future, said Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com. It also means that you can rest easy if you opted for an extended manufacturer's warranty when you bought your car or purchased one just before the standard factory warranty expired. The parts will be there for as long as your warranty holds out, automotive insiders believe. For consumers, the fallout from the massive fiscal issues faced by the industry may seem scary, but in reality the impact on the average car owner will be minimal when it applies to their being able to replace worn or broken car parts with original equipment. That's because many parts are interchangeable between many brands and models made by the same manufacturer. Air filers, brake pads, and rotors on some discontinued Pontiac models, for example, can be replaced with identical parts used in some Chevrolets, since both vehicles are made by General Motors. It may be quite different if you bought a limited production vehicle.
That decision could cost you more, and even more if you need to replace an original part with an exact duplicate once the warranty has run out. It may still be available, but because of the limited number of vehicles produced, it will be at a premium. "It's just going to cost an arm and a leg," Toprak said. If you're like most auto owners and independent repair shops, you'll turn to after-market parts -- those made for your car but not by the car manufacturer. The quality of parts can vary. While it's not the only measure, savvy automotive parts buyers recommend judging by the price of the part. Automotive replacement parts fall into one of three categories, says the United States Federal Trade Commission: * New: Parts made to the original specs, either by the vehicle manufacturer or an independent company. * Remanufactured, Rebuilt and Reconditioned: Parts have been restored to sound working condition. * Salvage: Parts taken from
2012 Beetle: A lesson in legacies The Volkswagen Beetle entered the world in 1938 under the rule of a man who would enslave the world. It is appropriate that I am driving one of its successors today in celebration of a man who died to free it. The two men - Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther King Jr. - could not have been more different. But they shared something in common. Both understood the importance of mobility. Ironically, Hitler, who ordered the development of the Volkswagen, literally “the people’s car,” sought to restrict where those people would go and who among them would go anywhere, except to a mass grave. King, whose memorial dedication was rescheduled for this fall in Washington, used cars to help free people from the cruel bondage of Jim Crow, strict American racial segregation. The success of the Montgomery bus boycott (Dec. 1, 1955, to Dec. 21, 1956), the seminal action in the modern civil rights movement, was due in large measure to the operation of a “private taxi” system - sedans and trucks privately owned by blacks who volunteered to give rides to their neighbors to keep those neighbors off of segregated city buses. In Alabama, very few black people had heard of the Volkswagen, only a few copies of which were beginning to filter into the United States at
that time. Their “people’s cars” were Chevrolet, Ford and Chrysler products. That being the case, it might seem more appropriate that I, a black child of the civil rights movement, should have been driving something from Detroit as the nowpostponed MLK dedication was approaching. But cars, be they from Volkswagen or Chevrolet, can be used for their intended purpose - auto-mobility - only in the context of freedom. Volkswagen understands that, which is why it is sending forth 11 redesigned cars, wagons and sport-utility vehicles for the 2012 model year. Of that lot, I chose the 2012 Beetle, the longestrunning and most manufactured car on a single design platform, to review. I am fascinated by the Beetle’s longevity. I expected it to be relegated to museum space after its second-generation New Beetle phase. The car was cute but not terribly substantial. Even women dismissed it as a “girly car,” as close as a kiss of death as you can get in the
another vehicle without alteration. If you plan to use parts supplied by a local auto repair shop, check your state laws. They may require the shop to tell you if non-original parts will be used in the repair, the FTC points out. "Prices and quality of these parts vary," it cautions, adding that salvage auto parts, usually garnered from junkyards, may be your only option for some items you need to repair your car. "Their reliability is seldom guaranteed." To the benefit of today's car owners, after-market auto parts are more available now then they were just a decade or two ago, a reflection of both the growth of the Internet and the emergence of giant national and regional auto supply retailers such as Auto Zone, Pep Boys, NAPA, Advance Auto Parts, O'Reilly, the U.S. Autoparts Network, rockauto.com and the granddaddy of auto parts suppliers, JC Whitney -- where you can still order a part for a 1928 Model T Ford or a six-figure 2009 Bentley Arnage. — Vicky Whitaker, Creators.com
automotive retail marketplace. But here is the third-generation Beetle - wider, lower to the ground, with a flatter roof and more power than any of its predecessors. It is not the least bit girly. But performancedriving enthusiasts might argue that it does not yet approach manly. My take is that it is very much a car of the times - enjoyably unisex. There are several iterations of the 2012 Beetle - base, Beetle 2.5 and Beetle Turbo, the latter chosen for this week’s review. They are a sporty, frontwheel-drive bunch, amenable to all kinds of customization. They are all now more car than curio. With an available 2.5-liter in-line fivecylinder engine (170 horsepower, 177 footpounds of torque) and a turbocharged 2-liter in-line four-cylinder package (200 horsepower, 207 foot-pounds of torque), there is lots of “fun to drive.” I drove all versions but spent most of my time in the Beetle Turbo, enjoying the whoosh of its forced-air-fed engine and the decidedly better handling of its multi-link rear suspension. (Non-turbo 2012 Beetles have a torsionbeam rear suspension with coil springs and telescopic damping. That works OK but lacks the pronounce agility of a multi-link setup.) I enjoyed the Beetle Turbo. But mostly I enjoyed the freedom of driving in a country that still understands a thing or two about freedom. — By Warren Brown Special to The Washington Post
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Protection while driving includes insurance It’s all about protection -- for yourself and for those you come in contact with. You are responsible for any damage you may cause while driving your car, and a good insurance policy can protect you, your family and the things you’ve worked hard to have. But how much protection do you need, and what can you do if you can’t afford it? Most states have minimum guidelines regarding insurance, and carrying insurance is mandatory in most of the United States. (Alaska has several territories where insurance is only required for registered vehicles, and registration is not mandatory.) Minimum limits vary from state to state -- Florida requires minimum bodily damage per person of $10,000, while Texas requires $20,000. Vermont mandates minimum property damage coverage of $10,000 for injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident, while South Carolina requires $25,000. In the “Anatomy of an Auto Policy,” distributed by State Farm Insurance Company in Bloomington, Ill., customers are advised, “When shopping for insurance, it’s important to look at more than the total cost. Become familiar with the amount and type of coverage that is being offered. “Also, note what isn’t being covered, who is covered while driving your vehicle and the quality of customer service in the event of an accident. The bottom line is that you should understand
your policy and buy the amount of insurance you think you need.” There are some basic terms you need to know about automobile insurance when picking your policy. Each provide coverage for different elements of an accident: * Bodily Injury Liability - Covers claims and lawsuits by people injured as a result of an accident you cause. * Property Damage Liability -- Used in claims and lawsuits for property damaged as a result of an accident you cause. * Personal Injury Protection -Coverage for injuries sustained in an automobile accident by you or other persons covered under your policy. * Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage -- This pays for property damage or bodily injury if you are in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist (a driver Insurance is vital in protecting yourself and your assets, but the price can go up with senior and younger drivers./Creators Syndicate who does not have the minimum level of insurance required by law) or a driver who is insured, but coverage is optional. Collision and have higher liability limits than their who has less coverage than your comprehensive is almost always at assets.” underinsured motorist coverage. the buyer’s discretion -- however, if Variables such as age, gender, * Collision -- Covers damage your vehicle is financed, it may be a personal driving history, region, to your vehicle as the result of a requirement of the finance company. the car itself and even the driving collision with another car or other There are other optional coverages records of others with the same risk object. that are nice to have, such as rental factors will play an important part * Comprehensive -- This is used reimbursement in the event your in premium rates. “If a person can’t for damage to your vehicle that vehicle is damaged in an accident. afford what they think they need, is not a result of a collision, such When it comes to picking your I work with my policyholders and as theft of your car, vandalism, policy, Becky McMenomy, a licensed prospects to find coverage they flooding, fire or a broken agent with Ike Tolks in Petaluma, can afford,” she said. “We can use windshield. It also pays if you Calif., said, “To know what liability higher deductible options, lower collide with an animal. limits a person should carry, they liability limits and take off any fringe Most coverages, particularly need to do a quick financial analysis coverages. Then we can increase those that ensure damages to to determine what assets they have things back up to where they should someone else will be paid, are that can be at risk in a lawsuit be as the customer can afford to.”— mandatory. In some states, -- equity in a home, savings, even Chelle Cordero, Creators Syndicate additional underinsured motorist their paycheck. A person should
Preventative maintenance is an easy money saver If you’re of a certain age or older, a part of growing up meant becoming at least somewhat familiar with performing basic maintenance on your car. It wasn’t enough to be able to change a flat or replace the wiper blades. Almost all high school students (at least the males) had to take an auto shop class, which would teach you the basics of maintaining a car and how to perform common roadside repairs. Many high schools eliminated auto shop classes from their curriculum long ago, and the complicated technology that controls just about every system in today’s cars can be intimidating to the average car owner. We don’t even change the oil ourselves anymore -- a simple task many people used to do in their garage, before drivethrough oil changes became popular in the early
1980s. Cars last much longer now and suffer far fewer breakdowns, resulting in a more hands-off attitude toward preventive maintenance for many car owners. However, preventive maintenance is actually more important than ever, warned David Rogers, chief operating officer of Keller Bros. Auto in Littleton, Colo., and founder of mondaymorningmechanic.com. “Today’s cars are very different in the fact that their tolerances are much less than our previous cars for a lack of maintenance. Conversely, if you do the maintenance, today’s cars will last quite a bit longer that we’re used to a car lasting,” Rogers said. One thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of checking the tires regularly. Check
the air pressure at least once a month -- a decal on the inside of the driver’s side door will list the proper pressure. Forget using the tire gauge found on many air hoses at gas stations -- many give inaccurate readings after being dropped or run over. Rogers recommended getting a dial tire gauge, one that has a speedometer-like meter. They’re the most accurate and usually sell for less than $10 -- and unlike the new, fancy gauges with digital readouts, they don’t run on batteries that tend to die off at the worst possible time. Also, check the tire pressure before driving, while the tires are cold. Checking tire treads is even easier. Take a
YSee PREVENTATIVE, page 15
Fall CAR CARE, 2011 Page 13
A hybrid or not a hybrid? They're not for everyone Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases most people make in their lives, so itâ€™s only natural to take the time to weigh your options carefully. The unlimited amount of choices that car buyers face can be overwhelming -- black or red, sedan or SUV, import or domestic, new or used, shop online or visit a car lot. Now another question has come up for potential car buyers: What about a hybrid?
The concept is simple, yet the results are significant. A hybrid has a gasoline engine just like you would find in any car, but it also has a battery-powered electric motor. Thereâ€™s no need to plug in the car to recharge the batteries -- the gasoline engine provides the power. Hybrids also generate electricity from the heat that comes from the brakes, a process called regenerative braking.
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When the car is rolling along at slower speeds, typically up to 25 miles per hour, the electric motor does the driving without taking a sip from the gas tank. The motor turns itself off when the car comes to a stop, when a traditional car would sit idling, burning gas and fouling the air. As the car picks up speed, the gasoline
YSee ELECTRIC, page 14
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What will your car look like in 10 years? Still waiting for that flux capacitor? You may not be going “Back to the Future” any time soon, but greener cars that check e-mail, change color with the flip of a switch and prevent drivers from running red lights are on the horizon. “It’s going to be wild. The next ten years should be quite interesting,” said Karl Brauer, editor-in-chief at Edmunds.com. SAFER CARS In the next 10 years, safety systems will get smart -- very smart. “One thing we know for sure -- cars will keep getting smarter and more capable of countering driver error, coinciding with greater connectivity,” Brauer said. Lane departure warnings, rearview backup cameras and collision avoidance technology are already on the scene. The 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, for example, features high-tech alerts to counter driver drowsiness and a crash avoidance system that automatically engages the brakes to avoid imminent collisions. Future versions will rely on GPS and internal “smart” computers to keep drivers out of harm’s way. “Your car will have an awareness of its surroundings,” Brauer explained. “Your car will not only know where it is on the planet, it will know where all the other cars are around it and be able to talk to those cars.” Vehicles of the future will automatically reroute themselves to avoid accidents, steer clear of emergency vehicles and even prevent drivers from breaking the law. “In theory, we might never have a car run a red light -- the car won’t let you go through a red light. It will stop itself,” Brauer said. SMARTER CARS In the coming years, GPS navigation systems will be as standard as CD
players, but they’ll do way more than plot your route. “Cars are becoming mobile offices. With the increasing amount of traffic in modern cities and the average commute getting longer and longer, it’s becoming more desirable to be productive in the car,” Brauer explained. Imagine locating the cheapest gas in town, booking a hotel room and checking e-mail all from behind the wheel, just by saying the word. Voicerecognition software might even let drivers dictate responses. Your car will likely connect with everything from your home -- pull into the driveway and the lights automatically turn on -- to the service station. Pull in for your regular oil change and the mechanic may have already downloaded service records from your car’s computer. “Anything you can think of that you can do from your house with an Internet connection, you will be able to do from within your car,” Brauer said. GREENER CARS Today’s greenest vehicles will soon be a thing of the past. In the quest for ever-better gas mileage and lower emissions, electric/ diesel hybrids look very promising. “A diesel hybrid makes absolute sense,” Bauer said. “Electric motors are good at low speeds, whereas diesel engines are great in highway situations. They can hold a high speed with minimal gas usage. It’s the best of both worlds.” Volkswagen has been toying with the idea for years -- recent reports point to a full diesel hybrid Golf that gets 70 miles per gallon. It’s been dubbed the “Prius-killer.” For short trips, the car will cruise through in-town traffic using no internal combustion. A regenerative braking system will help keep the nickel-metal hydride battery charged. Hit
the highway and the superefficient diesel kicks in. There’s no official word on when the Golf hybrid will hit the market, but expect plenty of copycats to follow. COOLER CARS From MINI Cooper to Scion, manufacturers of today’s customizable cars are gaining quite a following -- and turning heads. With swap-out panels in an array of colors and dozens of choose-yourown accents like stripes, flags and insignias, these brands bank on the public’s desire to express their
individuality, and the trend will only continue. “Being able to personalize your car will be big,” Brauer said. “To an extent, modern cars are all essentially the same. They’re all comfortable,
safe, dependable and well-engineered, so manufacturers look for ways to differentiate their brands.” — Chandra Orr, Creators Syndicate
THE FUTURE AWAITS The Scion iQ, pictured, tells of a future of cars where customizable cars will find many fans. / Creators.com photo courtesy of Scion
From page 7
engine begins to take over, the electric one shuts down and the batteries recharge. This results in miles per gallon numbers previously unheard of. Hybrids average around 40 to 45 mpg, with some peaking around 50 during optimal driving conditions -- typically stop-and-go driving around a city when the car would be powered entirely by electricity. Burning less fuel not only means spending less money, it also results in less exhaust fumes being released into the atmosphere. “Buying a fuel-efficient vehicle is a great way to minimize your personal carbon footprint,” said Jim Kliesch, a senior engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists. While saving money and polluting less should sound appealing to everyone, driving habits determine whether it makes sense to go hybrid. A driver that spends most of the time on the highway or long stretches of country roads wouldn’t be a good candidate, since the electric motor would be off most of the time. The hybrid is a city slicker, ideal for drivers that encounter a lot of stop signs, red lights and traffic jams. Knowing that you’re not burning gas when you’re sitting in traffic makes an unpleasant experience a little less painful. The first hybrid that arrived on the U.S. market was the Honda Insight, a small twoseater that had limited appeal to American drivers, who love their big cars and SUVs. It wasn’t until Toyota unveiled the Prius and gas prices began to rise that drivers began to take notice. Unlike the Insight, the Prius is a sedan, with four seats and a larger trunk. Now on its fourth generation,
Toyota’s main hybrid dominates the market. “They made the vehicle not only more fuel efficient, but slightly larger and slightly more powerful, letting the consumer have the cake and eat it too,” Kliesch said. Improving technology has also made the sticker price more comparable to a traditional car, according to Brian Moody, road test editor for Edmunds.com. “The price difference used to be significant, and now that cost has come down somewhat,” he said. Drivers considering a hybrid now have a larger selection to choose from. The Prius is king, but Honda still has the Insight, an inexpensive option that has recently been revamped. If driving performance is a major factor, the Toyota Camry is a step up. The electric motor is actually a little quicker, Moody said, and the switch to the gasoline engine is seamless. Lexus hybrids offer more comforts and accessories, like leather seats and a 14-speaker stereo. Even drivers that don’t want to give up their SUVs have an option, with the Chevy Tahoe and Cadillac Escalade the bestknown SUV hybrids, according to Moody. They’re too big to run on the electric motor only, but they offer better mileage than the traditional models. “The Tahoe can get around 20 mpg, which is pretty good for the type of car that it is,” Moody said. Hybrids are an option to consider, but Moody said that it still pays to compare. “There are several out there, but make sure that the price that’s paid is not significantly more than what you could get a similar car for.” — Tom Roebuck, Creators.com
YPreventative From page 12
penny and hold it at its base, and insert it into the tread upside down, with Lincolnâ€™s head leading the way. If any part of his head disappears into the tread, it is still deep enough. If you can see any part above his head, itâ€™s time to replace the tire. This should be done monthly. While youâ€™re at it, take care of your windshield wiper blades by cleaning them with a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol, which will remove the oil and grease that ruins the rubber. It only takes a few minutes and will make the blades last for years. When the time comes to find a mechanic, Rogers recommended finding an ASE-certified technician that has been approved by AAA and the Better Business Bureau, and will let you into the garage to inspect fluid samples taken during a scheduled maintenance. He dismissed the idea that insurance policies prohibit customers from going into service areas. â€œGet to know your fluids. Understand what they should look like,â€? he said. â€œYou need to find a shop that will let you in the back and pull those fluid samples in front of you and show you what they are.â€? After they pull the fluids, a simple chart makes it easy to see if any need changing. Fluid levels should be checked monthly, and can be done by anyone who can pop the hood, according to Mike Calkins, manager of AAA Approved Auto Repair. â€œCheck your engine oil level with the dipstick. Today the engine coolant, the brake fluid [and] the power steering fluid typically have translucent plastic reservoirs with markings right on them. You just see if itâ€™s low or
Fall CAR CARE, 2011 Page 15
high,â€? Calkins said. Air filters are still easily accessible with nothing more than a screwdriver.
Lightly knocking it on a hard surface can dislodge larger pieces of debris. Holding it up to a light will
let you know if it needs to be replaced. â€œFifty percent or more restricted, then itâ€™s time
for a new air filter,â€? Calkins said. â€”Tom Roebuck, Creators Syndicate
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