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Archive for the ‘Car Politics’ Category

Will E15 Fuel Harm Your Engine?

January 30th, 2013

Questions about E15

The politics of corn run deep in this country, as the highly subsidized crop is used for both food and fuel.

Ethanol, the corn-derived alcohol that is sold at gas stations around the country in E10, E15 or E85 fuel, is often cheaper than straight gasoline. Flex-fuel vehicles can run on the E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) fuel, while the EPA has approved E10 and E15 fuels for all 2001 and newer vehicles.

That’s where the controversy begins, as some accuse the EPA of approving E15 before testing on its compatibility with modern fuel systems was complete. Most automakers don’t recommend its use, even going so far as to say using E15 will void the vehicle’s warranty.

Is E15 safe to use, or will it cause serious damage?

Depends on who you ask.

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No More Made-In-Japan Toyota Vehicles in the United States?

January 22nd, 2013
Toyota Corolla Furia concept

Toyota Furia concept

“Made in Japan” is a stamp of honor worn by many Toyota vehicles in the United States. For decades, vehicles built in the Land of the Rising Sun were synonymous with quality and known for exceptional build quality. That’s still true today, but a future is in sight when all Toyota cars sold here in the U.S. will have also been built in North America.

What would that mean for the definition of a “domestic car”? Would Toyota’s reputation for quality remain as strong?

This is nowhere near a done deal, but considering the vast majority of Toyotas sold here are already built here, it’s a possibility that should be taken seriously.

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Happy New Year! Please Drive Carefully

January 1st, 2013

The average driver drives drunk 87 times before his or her first arrest.

So for the people out there who believe they simply have good luck when driving after a few too many, please remember that your time could be about up and an arrest looms just around the next corner.

With celebrations carrying on into today, please remember that New Year’s Day is one of the deadliest on American roads. Avoid a DUI arrest, or worse, by simply not driving. While an arrest could mean a lot of things, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommends ignition interlocks for all people convicted of a DUI. That means every first-time offender couldn’t start his or her car until completing a breathalyzer test attached to the ignition.

Try impressing a date with that little process hanging over your head.

There are already 17 states that mandate ignition interlock devices for those convicted of DUI, and the NTSB has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to speed up research into manufacturer-installed interlock devices.

Ideally, individual drivers would control their own destiny by not drinking and driving, but once judgment is clouded an on-board breathalyzer is probably a good idea.

For me, I don’t want the indignity of having an interlock device on my car, so I choose to celebrate in a spot that doesn’t require car keys.

Happy 2013, fellow CarGurus!

Should breathalyzer interlock devices be mandated on all new cars? 

-tgriffith

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

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Car Insurers Should Not Use Gender to Calculate Premiums

December 24th, 2012

Females & car insurance

Gender discrimination hasn’t been part of our society for decades. Generally, men and women are treated equally in professional realms of modern society. Whether in politics or law enforcement or professional car racing, women have as much opportunity as men.

And rightfully so, of course.

There’s one area, though, where women and men are singled out and charged very different rates for an identical service.

Somehow, during the great battle for gender equality, car insurance companies have remained able to charge far higher prices to men, especially young men, than they charge their female counterparts.

If a new rule in Europe takes hold, that could change.

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U.S. Electric Car Industry Hits Super-Sized Speed Bumps

December 12th, 2012
Tesla Model S, stranded

The "unpluggable" Model S

The Tesla that couldn’t move.

The Fisker fires.

The A123 bankruptcy.

The CODA Automotive layoffs.

It’s been a rough end to 2012 for the U.S. electric vehicle industry, but all hope is not lost. Maybe Chinese companies can step in and take some ownership in an effort to right what sometimes looks like a quickly sinking ship.

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Could Tesla Sell Cars Like Apple Sells iPads?

October 10th, 2012

Tesla's L.A. store

Tesla Motors has already succeeded at what many considered an impossible feat: starting a new car company in the United States. Tesla has redefined what’s possible, played by its own rules and created a company currently in production on its second model, with more on the way.

It didn’t get there by bending to expectations of failure or going down the same path trudged by so many others.

Now that the company is seeing success, another group has its sights set on forcing it to play by the pre-established rules. This time, not in how the cars are made, but how (and where) they are sold.

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Has Your Used Truck Ever Towed a Space Shuttle?

September 18th, 2012

Toyota Tundra towing Endeavour

There’s a lot of potential for hidden damage when shopping for a used truck.

It can be challenging enough to find any used vehicle without hidden damages or missed repairs. With a large pickup, buyers have to consider those things along with any potential problems caused by the amount of strain the engine has experienced due to towing.

A used F-150 that has cruised the highways of Eastern Washington will be a better buy than one that has spent the majority of its life towing an 8,000-pound trailer up and down mountain passes. Even worse is the pickup that has worked consistently over its towing capacity.

The only real ways to know if a truck has been overworked are to ask the seller or have a mechanic look closely for extra wear. Or, check the news to see if it’s recently towed a space shuttle.

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An Autobahn in America?

September 10th, 2012

85 mph road sign

A number of years ago some discussion took place about going back to a nationwide 55-mph speed limit on American highways. The idea, of course, was to increase the number of miles travelled per gallon of gasoline while decreasing the amount of emissions from the country’s fleet of motorcars.

Obviously nothing ever came of that.

In contrast, speed limits keep increasing. I remember the days in Montana when no speed limit existed at all, other than a “safe and prudent” law that was open to interpretation. While we’re far from anything like that coming back, there’s news from Texas that new 85-mph speed limit signs are going up.

An interesting prelude, perhaps, to an eventual return to the era of no speed limits at all?

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The Path Toward a Driverless Nation

August 10th, 2012

Google self-driving Lexus RX 450h

Thirty years ago, eight in 10 Americans ages 17-19 had a driver’s license. Today, it’s six in 10.

That’s the lead to a story at ScienceDaily, which goes on to give lots more stats about the decrease in licensed drivers in this country.

Many teens today don’t care whether they drive or not, and that percentage will probably just continue to drop. In today’s world, when kids can drive on Xbox and instantly connect to friends through technology, the need and desire to move about in the real world is diminishing.

While that’s great for the safety of America’s teenagers, it’s terrible for our car culture. In 20 years ask a guy about his first car, and he’s likely to respond, “A 2012 Ferrari 458 Italia, from GranTurismo on my old Xbox 360.”

Add Google’s self-driving cars to the mix, and car passion is at serious risk.

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Choose Your Poison: Gas Tax or Mileage Tax

July 25th, 2012

Golden Gate Bridge traffic

Unless we want the streets of the United States to look like the streets of Michigan, we’ve got to figure out a way to pay for proper infrastructure repair and replacement.

The most logical ways to fund streets are through vehicle registration taxes and gas taxes. The problem, of course, is that both are about as high as they can politically get in most areas while streets and highways continue to crumble. As hard as it is to admit, I believe gas taxes should increase, because it’s the most fair way to evenly distribute how much tax individuals pay. Higher gas prices also will spur drivers to save more fuel and drive less.

But cities in the Bay Area have a different idea.

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