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Archive for the ‘Gas for your car…’ Category

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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Another Fuel-Efficient Honda Bites the Dust

March 3rd, 2014

Honda Insight

Way back in 1999, Honda released a funky little car with an electric motor, a gas motor and enclosed rear wheels. The Insight was successful as a niche car and gained a cult following, but never had mainstream success and died a quick death.

Just 5 years ago, Honda released a new version of the Insight, built to nearly identical specs as the much more popular Toyota Prius. The Insight took the Prius’ shape, but lacked a certain something we in the car business like to call “fuel economy and performance.”

Honda likes to believe it’s a leader in hybrid technology, but it has trailed the competition since hybrid technology became a thing.

Want proof? The Insight is about to die. Again.

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Bad Gas Mileage or Lack of Common Sense?

January 30th, 2014

2014 Toyota RAV4

I have a family member who doesn’t know anything about cars. I mean that quite literally, so the fact that she routinely sits behind the wheel of one is more than a little frightening.

Allow me to correct myself: This is a person who knows one thing about cars. She knows that they go. She knows how to make them go, how to make them “not go” (her words for stop) and how to get them to go in the general direction of her choosing.

So when this family member asked why her Toyota RAV4 was taking more gas than usual, I didn’t know exactly how to answer or what questions to ask. So I took it step by step.

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America’s New Love Affair with Diesel

January 9th, 2014
A newcomer in the American diesel market

A newcomer in the American diesel market

America, you are finally coming to your senses.

When I first started writing about cars some 6 years ago, I complained that all the good cars were in Europe. The hot hatches, the sporty wagons and, of course, the diesels.

My oh my how times have changed.

I can’t imagine how I would have reacted back then had I read the headlines I saw yesterday. A little disbelief coupled with a huge dose of excitement, I suppose. Yes, I think we can finally admit that the cool cars are indeed in America, because diesels have finally arrived.

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El Diablo: Miata Style

December 23rd, 2013

2001 Mazda Miata MX5

An average car will run a quarter-mile drag race in 15–16 seconds. That’s not a blistering pace, but it’s just enough to give a slight rush while accelerating up an on-ramp before settling into a steady stream of 65-mile-an-hour commuters.

The Mazda Miata, while relatively sporty and fun to drive, typically falls somewhere within that average time in stock, off-the-showroom-floor form. It’s nothing spectacular, and it won’t win many drag races, but the time is good enough to warrant the designation of “sports car.”

Barely.

A quick quarter-mile time in the Miata might fall somewhere in the 11–13-second range. When that stock speed just isn’t fast enough, upgrades can be applied, and the Miata, like any car, can become a drag racer.

An extreme case would be taking a Miata, stripping it completely of its powertrain, and replacing it with a source of power sure to embarrass even the most seasoned of racers.

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Admitting and Overcoming Range Issues

October 15th, 2013

2014 Mazda6

Hello.

I have a range problem.

I didn’t realize I had a problem until a spate of recent road trips in two different cars blatantly slapped me in the face with the realization that my car doesn’t go very far on a tank of fuel. Since I’d really rather not drop $60 every 300 miles, I have a decision to make.

I can go between 270 and 320 miles on a tank of fuel in my car. My average is about 300 even, which translates to about 22 miles per gallon. Not bad. But with premium fuel and more road trips on the horizon, I have to admit that I have a problem. Especially compared with the 2013 Subaru Legacy I borrowed that can easily top 400 miles on regular fuel.

MSN posted yesterday a list of cars with the longest range, and my 10-year-old car, which is smaller and lighter than the Subaru, can’t compare with any of them.

Yup, I have a problem.

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Aston Martin Cygnet: A Good Used Deal?

September 30th, 2013

Aston Martin Cygnet

The Aston Martin Cygnet is proof that even elite carmakers make horrible mistakes. Aston builds the most beautifully seductive cars in the world, which embody the perfect balance between luxury, power and grace. The cars are flawless in design and exquisite in execution.

To own an Aston tells the world that you appreciate, and can afford, the best material possessions life has to offer. Even used Aston Martins command hefty sums and remain aspirational symbols of wealth and excess.

Well, all but the Cygnet, anyway. Drivers of a Cygnet look more like they’re driving a giant toenail than an elite British supercar.

It seems the decision-makers at Aston Martin have finally come to their senses, though, because the Cygnet is about to sing its swan song.

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Lost Keys or Bus: The Evil of Two Lessers

September 27th, 2013

public-transportation

Due to a series of events that would take far too long to explain here, I found myself yesterday sans car keys.

Of course, I didn’t realize it until I had to leave and was slapped in the face by the unfortunate realization that I and my keys weren’t even in the same state. After a brief moment of panic and some creative rescheduling, I changed my day from one of business meetings and work to one of vacuuming, laundry and pink-and-white animal cookies.

I still had one very important downtown meeting, though, which meant I had only one choice.

The city bus.

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Performance at 30 MPG

July 11th, 2013

2000 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

The 2000 Chevrolet Corvette is not a spectacular supercar. The base model uses a 5.7-liter V8 to deliver 345 hp, which the EPA rates at 15 mpg city/25 highway.

Fun, yes. Super, no.

The Corvette has always been the value-priced sports car playing in the land of supercars. For buyers looking for cheap horsepower, the ‘Vette fits the bill. It’s never been the most refined or comfortable or elegant, but that’s not what Corvette buyers of the past ever expected. Just raw, straight-line power.

The used market has lots of Corvettes from the last 6 generations for sale. The 2000 model I referenced generally is listed at around $10,000, which makes for an incredibly cheap sports-car experience.

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Buy One of These and Save Loads of Money

July 8th, 2013

2013_Volkswagen_Golf_TDI_2-Door_422306

I don’t always steal quotes from memes on Facebook, but when I do, it’s because I want to save you money. So with that in mind:

“I’d rather not save any money.”

Said no one.

Ever.

Saving money on a car isn’t just about keeping a few bucks in your wallet on the day you buy, it extends to the amount of money put into the car for as long as you own it. Fuel, insurance, maintenance and more all factor into the long-term costs of any automobile.

Of course, that’s not news to anyone. But what kind of car costs the least to own over the years that you have it? Figure that out, and you’ll laugh in the face of friends and family who thought they got a great deal, but now suffer from a maddening case of financial drain. Symptoms include itchy, watery eyes and severely dry bank accounts.

If you want to avoid such embarrassing problems, read on.

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