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Archive for the ‘Car Parts’ Category

Are Car Dealers the Cheapest for Car Maintenance?

May 21st, 2015

car_dealer_service

I’ve grown up believing that the service department of a car dealership is the most expensive place to get your car repaired or serviced. I attribute that to my Dad, who taught me at a young age to always take my car to an independent repair shop to get the best price.

I carried that belief into adulthood, and only now am I starting to realize that’s not always the best approach.

To be fair to my Dad, maybe that was true 20 years ago. Maybe dealerships have realized they need to be competitive with other shops to keep customers coming back. Whatever the case, it’s time to give car dealerships another look for service.

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Car Minded, Car Parts, Foreign Cars, General Chat , , ,

Airbags: Saving Lives (Mostly) Since 1991

May 19th, 2015

airbag recall

Have you ever had an airbag deploy in your car?

I’m lucky, because the only airbags I’ve ever seen in use have been in videos of crash tests. Airbags stay hidden most of the time, silently tucked away and forgotten. The only reminders of their existence are the subtle etchings in the surfaces that hide them.

Airbags are meant to save lives, and they have, with many thousands of people owing their continued existence to an explosive cushion of air. Airbags, though, have also taken lives by ejecting with too much force, ejecting with young children in the seat, or, most recently, exploding and sending shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

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Rusty Undercarriage? Don’t Blame the Carmaker

April 10th, 2015
Don't let this happen to your car

Don’t let this happen to your car

Bad things happen when brake lines leak. Who’s to blame when they do?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has wrapped up a 5-year investigation into the cause of rust on the undercarriages of about 5 million GM vehicles.

The problem has been the rusting of brake lines on 2007 and older Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC pickups and SUVs. Usually an investigation of this magnitude results in an expensive recall and the mandatory repair of affected vehicles.

This time the NHTSA let General Motors off the hook and blamed someone we can’t sue for the problem:

Us.

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Local Motors: The Future of Automaking

October 1st, 2014

Local Motors Rally Fighter

Whether you want a $700 remote-control car, a $1,900 skateboard or a $99,900 car, Local Motors has you covered.

The Phoenix company is famous for its open-source design strategy and series of micro factories, which allow for the company’s signature product, the Rally Fighter, to be designed, and built, by the same people who buy it.

The Local Motors website says the Rally Fighter:

Looks like a race car, rides like a luxury vehicle. A rugged tube chassis construction complemented with all the requisite creature comforts. This 50-state street legal off-road desert racer is at home on the open road, the daily commute, and on the most challenging desert terrains.

More on the Rally Fighter in a moment, but first, check this out:

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Burning Oil in a Brand New Car

April 7th, 2014

oil_level_low_warning

Burning oil in a 1973 Cadillac seems legit.

Drive an old boat like that around for long and you’ll stop at every gas station and put in a quart of oil. Worn engines simply burn and leak oil, often causing heavy smoke and the putrid odor of crusty black tar.

Drivers of those old cars don’t get too angry at the oil consumption because they know it just comes with the territory of having the pleasure of driving a Nixon-era automobile.

A 2013 car should never burn a quart of oil between oil changes.

Right?

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Airless Tires Closer to Reality

November 20th, 2013

Airless tires

I fully expect to have a tire catastrophe in the near future.

I accept this fact because for the last couple of weeks, I’ve ignored a tire problem that has cropped up. There’s a slow leak in my front driver’s-side tire that requires a stop at the gas station, four quarters and about 15 pounds of air pressure every couple of days.

There are some who won’t call that a “slow leak,” but instead give it the full-blown label of “leak,” or even “flat tire.”

There are two possibilities with this leak. Either it’s an easy fix that a quick stop at a tire store can fix, or it’s a sign that I’ll soon have a $600 credit-card charge for four new tires.

I foresee the latter, which explains my lack of action to resolve the problem.

If only there was a way to eliminate the need for air in tires…

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Car Industry News, Car Minded, Car Parts, Car Safety, General Chat , , , ,

Are Auto Parts Stores a Thing of the Past?

June 19th, 2013
How's the parking lot at your local auto parts store?

How’s the parking lot at your local auto parts store?

How much longer will auto parts stores be around?

In college I worked the parts counter at a national auto parts chain store in Seattle. I loved my job. I worked all day on Saturdays and Sundays and from 5 pm to 10 pm two to three times during the week. I loved helping out and learning about the customers’ project cars, learning about different parts for different cars and occasionally helping stranded motorists by changing a battery, doing an electrical test, even breaking the rules once and changing out an alternator right there in the parking lot. In the dark.

This was in the late 1990s, and the auto parts store was a busy environment of shared enthusiasm for cars and ambitious DIYers taking on repair projects for their beloved vehicles.

I have a feeling that culture is gone… or quickly vanishing.

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Lost Car Keys: An Expensive Lesson in Organization

April 5th, 2013

Car keys

If everything in life happens for a reason, I can only assume there’s a lesson on organization in losing one’s car keys.

There was a time when losing keys wasn’t that big a deal. A copy of a copied spare could be made for about $1.50, and life would get back to normal. Even if no spares were around, a locksmith could whip up a replacement in no time flat, or a new lock and/or ignition could be picked up at the local auto parts store and installed in an afternoon.

Losing keys to a vehicle made in the last decade, though, spells real trouble. Real expensive trouble!

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When Is Tire Siping a Good Idea?

January 15th, 2013

2012 Subaru Legacy

My parents recently leased a new 2012 Subaru Legacy. They wanted a vehicle to replace their 2000 Honda CR-V, which served them well through many harsh Pacific Northwest winters.

This being their first winter with the car, they were interested to see how it did once the snow started piling up. Well, this week, they got their wish. With temps well below freezing and hard-packed snow covering many city streets, my mom approached the first incline of the season. She made it up the slope, stopped at the intersection and immediately slid to the curb. Like hot butter on a cold plate.

The AWD system of the Subaru wasn’t the issue here… it was obviously the tires. Which raised the question: Shouldn’t AWD cars sold in markets that get snow come equipped with proper tires?

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Kit Cars Make a Case, But Used Is Better Option

March 20th, 2012

Ford GT40 kit car

I went to junior high school around the corner from a Lamborghini.

In 7th grade a friend pointed to a house with a closed garage door and said, “There’s a Lamborghini in that garage.” I didn’t believe him, because I never saw it. The garage door was always closed. Every day I’d look, hoping to catch a glimpse of a real Lamborghini. Then, one day…

A bright red, low-slung angular Lamborghini Countach sat in the driveway. I was in awe. It was the first Lamborghini I’d ever seen.

Or was it?

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