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Archive for the ‘Car Parts’ Category

Does Your New Car Burn Too Much Oil?

July 3rd, 2015

oil1

I’m going to describe a problem with my car, and I want you to take some guesses on what year and make of car I own.

I have the oil changed on my car about every 5,000 miles. I’m actually quite good at keeping to the schedule and making sure the maintenance is done on a timely basis. I use full synthetic oil in the car, and most of my family’s driving is on the highway. We live 30 minutes away from civilization, so the car rarely, if ever, does trips where it doesn’t reach operating temperature.

The problem is that the car burns at least a quart of oil between oil changes.

Any guesses on the year and make?

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Toyota Prius: Most Stolen Car in America?

June 2nd, 2015

2015 Toyota Prius pic-362296487971647730

Imagine the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds” with a Prius in place of the Shelby GT500.

Not very exciting, is it?

Car theft has been romanticized in movies and video games, but the reality is far less exciting. Cars are stolen every day in this country, and it happens in plain site at grocery stores, in home driveways, and in mass-transit parking lots.

Instead of targeting brash sports cars, thieves often go for the kinds of cars that blend in and are easily taken apart so in-demand parts can be sold. The traditional pièce de résistance of thieves is the Honda Accord, which fits those criteria perfectly.

There may, however, be a new king in town.

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Why Summer Is a Great Time to Buy a Car

May 28th, 2015

2015 Chrysler 200C My home base is the great Northeast. As such, this past winter I thought summer would never come. But all that snow eventually melted, and with it so have new and used car prices. Summer is a great time to buy a car.

Prices in the used car market begin to drop this time of year for a couple of reasons. Demand declines after tax season and its flood of money from tax refunds. Consumers wait until their returns are filed and IRS checks issued to make down payments.

But the bigger reason is supply grows this time of year. Private sellers get more active, and more people are buying new cars, which increases the used car supply.

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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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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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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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