Recalls Cost the Car Companies Bigtime. Is There a Pattern?

Here are the larger recent recalls, and these are just for October.

Nissan: 2.2 million vehicles worldwide (747,000 in the U.S.): ignition relay problem BMW: 130,000 vehicles: faulty fuel pump in the twin-turbo inline 6 Honda: 470,000 cars in the U.S.: faulty seal in master brake cylinder Mercedes-Benz: 85,000 E-Class cars: possible power steering connection fitting problem Toyota: 1.53 million cars worldwide (740,000 in the U.S.): faulty seal in master cylinder GM: 392,000 Chevrolet Impalas: faulty front seat-belt anchors.

In addition, NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) recently issued a repeat advisory reminding Ford owners of 17.5 million vehicles of the fire risk in a faulty cruise control switch (some cars dating back to 1992).

There does seem to be, in fact, a pattern in all this. Each recall—including Toyota’s 2-million-car sticking accelerator/floormat fiasco—seems to stem from a small, simple, highly mass-produced part, typically made under high tolerances by external suppliers.

Continue reading >>>

Best Car Videos of the Week: A Super Limited Edition, Flying Cars, and Great Sounds

The "jet black vessel of violence"

Maybe you didn’t know this, but the famed Nurburgring race track in Germany is open to the public. Not all the time, mind you, but occasionally a guy such as you or me can take our Ford Focus to the track and turn some laps.

Doing so is a dream for many of us. So imagine casually shooting the apexes, then looking in your rear-view mirror and seeing what Top Gear calls a “jet-black vessel of violence” quickly approaching. Anything’s possible on the ‘Ring!

That’s the kind of stuff that makes for great video, along with flying cars (a Subaru that’s supposed to and a Lamborghini that isn’t) and spy shots of an upcoming ultimate performance machine.

Make the jump to see the vids!

Continue reading >>>

GM Opens Used-Car Business in China

60-mile-long, 10-day traffic jam in China

General Motors has gone into a joint venture with its longtime partner SAIC Motor Corp., China’s largest automaker, to sell used cars.

The new company, Shanghai Chengxin, will open about 20 stores in Beijing and elsewhere in China to serve the world’s largest auto market.

According to one report, these facilities over the next five years will “acquire, repair and certify used cars for resale.” Along with Shanghai GM and other Chinese partners, the General expects to sell more than two million cars in China this year. (Last year, they sold a record 1.83 million.)

Continue reading >>>

Cars Coming Soon->More Than Twenty World Debuts Set for L.A. Auto Show

Jaguar C-X75 concept

Jaguar C-X75 concept

The 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show is happening next month, and plenty of pending debuts are poised to blow our collective socks off. Some of them will, anyway, while others could be as mundane as putting our collective socks on in the morning.

In addition to the 20 or so world debuts, the folks at the L.A. Auto Show say more than 30 cars will make their North American debut along with at least 15 concepts, including the wicked Jaguar C-X75 and Lotus’ recent onslaught of five planned supercars.

If that’s not enough reason to get excited about the show in November, hit the jump for the enticing first preview of what else to expect in the City of Angels.

Continue reading >>>

Cadillac’s Small Car, the ATS, Is Coming

Cadillac ATS rendering

There has been talk for months about a new compact Cadillac to compete with the BMW 3 Series, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and lesser vehicles of Asian origin. Now, GM CEO Daniel Akerson will announce tomorrow that the Grand River assembly plant in Lansing will build the new ATS (rendering above) there.

Cadillac’s track record in building smaller cars is not good. Witness the Catera, and who can forget the Cimarron? The latter topped one website’s list of “The 5 Worst Cars Ever Sold” earlier this year, and if you ever drove one, you’d agree.

But there should be happier days ahead for the ATS. In coupe, sedan, and (coming later) convertible styles, it will share the Alpha platform with the larger CTS. We get differing information on engines: Some say the base engine will be a turbo four, and options range all the way to a less-than-likely V8. The 3-liter twin-turbo V6 is a more plausible option.

Continue reading >>>

CarGurus’ DealFinder Helps Automotive Consumers Find the Best Local Deals

DealFinder image

Indexing 2+ Million “live” listings a day, CarGurus helps consumers figure out if a car listing is “under” or “over” its real regional market value.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., October 27, 2010 — CarGurus® (, a leading online automotive community, announced today that its DealFinder service has just added Regional Pricing to its offering.

Based on a daily analysis of 2+ Million “live” car listings as well as historic pricing models, DealFinder calculates what a car listing is really worth. This analysis includes factors for mileage, car model, car trim and options and then compares that “instant market value” to the seller’s listed asking price for the car. Consumers can then see first-hand if the car in question is above or below its real “instant market value.” Based on a consumer’s search criteria, the resulting car listings are ranked based on which cars offer the best savings (below the real “instant market value”). Consumers can quickly see which listings are “good” or “bad” deals.

Continue reading >>>

ABC News Goes After BMW, Gets Response

2010 BMW Z4 sDrive35i

Oh, how automakers must fear the wrath of network news.

First the Audi 5000 was targeted by CBS’s 60 Minutes in 1986, which used doctored footage to prove a case of unintended acceleration. The story had devastating effects on Audi sales for years, even though the problem was ultimately found to be caused by driver error. Then in 1992 Dateline NBC rigged gas tanks to explode on GM trucks, which ended up damaging NBC’s reputation more than GM’s.

Last year ABC News went after the Toyota “unintended acceleration” cases and broadcast footage using some shifty editing to make it appear that a parked car’s revving engine was actually the car an ABC News correspondent was driving. As in the Audi case, driver error is considered the culprit for the majority of incidents.

Now ABC News is at it again, broadcasting yesterday an expose on BMW engines. Is this one a real issue or another carefully orchestrated media attack against an automaker?

Continue reading >>>

Green Update–>Finally, the EPA Goes After Large-Truck Emissions

The semis and work trucks that do much to power our economy (or what’s left of it) also generate a disporportionate share of its pollution. And so far, they have been exempt from federal standards.

That is to say, 4 percent of all our road traffic accounts for 20 percent of the oil consumed. Put another way, together these vehicles “generate 20 percent of road-going emissions.”

Proposed new administration standards would cut emissions by the the big rigs (tractor trucks) 20 percent by 2018. Heavy-duty pickups and vans (like those hauling big trailers) must get reductions of 10 percent (gasoline-powered vehicles) or 15 percent (diesels). Buses, RVs, garbage trucks, and delivery vans will also have to cut 10 percent—all by 2018. The new regs would take effect in 2014.

We think that’s a very good thing. Others (scroll down and View all Comments) were quick to explode and lambaste big government, the Obama administration, and even methane emissions (scroll down to comments) of truck drivers.

Continue reading >>>

How To Sell Your Car in Three Easy Steps

Aston Martin for sale

Have a car to sell? There are two ways to sell it fast:

1. Price it ridiculously low, spray-paint the price on a piece of weathered plywood, and park the car at a busy intersection, or

2. Price it competitively, advertise in the right places, and make it absolutely shine!

I tend to put a high value on money and want to pocket every cent I can get out of a car, even when I need to sell quick. That’s why I prefer method two. But how do you find the perfect price, where are the right places to advertise, and how can you make your car outshine the competition? Read on for answers!

Continue reading >>>

Marchionne Marches on at Chrysler

Alfa Romeo Giulietta

Lots is happening at Chrysler, and the basic good news is that the company is moving to replace some of its truly dreadful cars with new Fiat-based products. And by 2014, a range of high-efficiency Pentastar engines, from 3 to 4 liters, will be offered in up to 13 vehicles.

Now available in the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and coming soon to the Challenger, the new Pentastar V6 has more horsepower, more torque, and better fuel economy than current Chrysler engines. It’s greener and cheaper to produce, and will likely power the base Challenger trim (now $25,305). This engine is a nice alternative to the gas-guzzling 6.4-liter Hemi in the current Challenger SRT8 at $43,100.

The Challenger still faces tough competition from the Camaro and Mustang, and it’s very much an also-ran compared to these.

The next compact sedan from Dodge will likely be based on the current Alfa Romeo Giulietta (above) and replace the stone-ugly and brain-dead Caliber. Launch is tentative for the new Dodge late next year, and power will come from one of the smaller MultiAir engines.

Continue reading >>>