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Written by a Guest Blogger

The coming year’s roster of green cars is an anticipated one. New cars are ready to roll out and they aren’t necessarily hybrids. Fuel efficiency is already a focal point but words like torque and turbo are back on the axle. Here are six new green cars that let drivers keep it lean and still drive mean when it comes to burning up the road in 2013.

1. Toyota Avalon

Despite criticisms for design blandness, the 2013 Toyota Avalon looks sleeker than its predecessors. The double-tier grille gives the Avalon an edge over other midsize luxury sedans, lookswise. It still has two-wheel drive and a V6 engine lurks under the hood, but the driver gets a trifecta of programming options: Normal, Eco Drive, and Sport. The price will also be slightly higher, but the improvements to the body, interior and overall driving experience will encourage prospective buyers.

Starting price: +/- $34,995

Release date: Winter 2013

2. Dodge Dart

Dodge’s new Dart comes with a larger 2.0 liter engine or a smaller 1.4 liter engine. Here’s the catch: get the smaller one and enjoy the benefits of turbocharging. Turbo is the magic word for green cars in 2013. The 1.4 liter engine happens to be Fiat’s MultiAir engine, too. It’s an unexpected collaboration that affects the Dart’s performance positively. With a maximum attainability of 39MPG on the highway and a low MSRP, the Dart practically endorses revving.

Starting price: $15,995

Release date: Available

3. Ford Escape SUV

Go ahead, call the new Ford Escape by its birth name: Torquenstein. Ford’s Ecoboost turbocharger gives the Escape enough muscle and torque to haul a 2-ton load. The 1.6 liter engine can be upgraded to 2.0 for even more power. Cruising at 33MPG on the highway and 23 MPG in the city, the Escape has four tires up on the competition’s SUV.

Starting price: $22,470

Release date: Available

4. Chevrolet Sonic 1.4 Liter Turbo

Chevrolet has a younger demographic in mind with their new Sonic 1.4-liter turbo sedan. Like the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris, the Sonic is available as a sedan or hatchback. The hatchback is 14 inches shorter from front to back. Both come with four doors and with or without the turbo option. The new Sonic reprises the 2012 model’s arched roof for plenty of headroom. The Sonic gets 29MPG in the city and 33MPG on the highway, so don’t look for it at the rear of the pack.

Starting price: $14,995

Release date: Winter 2012

5. Ford Fusion

It seemed like an odd move at first but Ford installed a smaller 1.6 liter engine in its new Fusion. The reason is clear: the car benefits from direct injection and turbocharging thanks to Ford’s Ecoboost. The engine is rated for 180 HP which is plenty inside city limits. With its rounded edges and slightly downsized shell, the Fusion remains a winner.

Starting price: +/- $25,995

Release date: January 2013

6. Fiat 500 Turbo

Fiat is the butt of many acronym-based jokes, but it’s time to throw the auto maker a bone. The 500 features the same MultiAir turbo that’s leased out to the Dodge Dart. It’s a little smaller than the Dart, and so is its MSRP. There aren’t many turbocharged vehicles in the 500′s size and price class, either. A combined 31MPG rating isn’t a revelation, but a few more miles-per-gallon are doable on the highway. The 500′s appearance is patently European but it doesn’t look any worse than a Mini Cooper — and arguably better.

Starting price: $14,995

Release date: Winter 2012

Categories : Car Buying, Car Reviews
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Written by a Guest Blogger

Competing with many better-established cars in the same class, the Hyundai i45 brings a formidable cocktail of looks and luxury to the mid-size sedan class. Challenging carmakers like Toyota, Ford, Mazda, and Subaru (to name a few) isn’t for the faint of heart, but in the i45 Hyundai has put a formidable package of features together for a very competitive price.

The Looks

Let’s talk about looks. Undeniably, this sedan has a swept-back appearance with a high, coupe-like roof and smart curves that lend the car an elegant yet racy look. It punches above its weight in terms of looks for a mid-size, family sedan.

The Inside

Hop inside. Add a passenger or two. Add the kids, the luggage, the kitchen sink! With excellent legroom and a 523-litre boot, there’s plenty of space in addition to the comfort and convenience afforded by the leather seats and integrated centre console (with CD, MP3, aux-in, and iPod and USB connectivity).

The Stunning Standard Features

Hyundai makes standard several things that are generally considered extras on other cars: keyless entry, push-button start, automatic door locks, dusk-sensing headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and speed sensing, to name a few. The real intelligence, however, comes from the Smart Drive features related to the six-speed transmission (automatic is standard on Premium and Elite models, while Active has a manual option). The transmission, for manual or automatic, can overrule some downshifts and will skip a gear for the driver on an over revved upshift to protect the engine and maintain its integrity.

The Power Under the Hood

Under the hood, things get more interesting. A 2.4-litre, 4-cylinder in-line engine produces 148kW of power and 250Nm of torque to deliver fuel efficiency of 7.9 litres per 100km. All this plus a compact drivetrain and front-wheel drive make the i45 easy to steer and generous to drive, with a surprisingly tight turning radius.

Safety

What else can be said about the Hyundai i45? On the safety front it has six airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), stability and traction control, and has earned the maximum five-star ANCAP rating. The cherry on the top is the five-year warranty.

What are you waiting for? Try the Hyundai i45 on for size. It feels comfortably luxurious for its price.

Categories : Car Buying, Car Reviews
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Written by a Guest Blogger

Mercedes-Benz has long been renowned for their luxury and longevity, but when investing in a luxury car you want to make sure you’re getting the best for your money. Comparing sticker prices is a good place to start, but this basic comparison doesn’t give you a true idea of what you’ll pay to own and maintain the vehicle. For that, we need to look at cost of ownership data.

Here are the 3 most affordable Mercedes-Benz based on the total cash price and the five year cost of ownership.

What is the 5 Year Cost of Ownership?

True cost of ownership is made of six costs you won’t see listed in the sticker price: depreciation, fuel, financing, insurance, maintenance/repairs and tax.

According to Kelley Blue Book, depreciation makes up about 48% of the five year cost of ownership for the average vehicle in 2012, making it one of the most important factors in determining a specific vehicle’s true cost of ownership.

After depreciation, the next most important cost to consider is fuel. Assuming 15,000 miles traveled per year, fuel costs represent about 24% of the total 5 year ownership cost.

Finally, interest fees (11%), insurance costs (10%), maintenance/repairs (8%) and taxes  (also 8%) account for the remainder of the total cost of ownership over 5 years.

Using Kelly Blue Book’s five year ownership data, here are the three least costly Mercedes-Benz models of 2012:

1. 2012 Mercedes C250 Sport Sedan — Price + 5 Year Cost of Ownership: $86,166
The meticulously engineered and constructed 2012 Mercedes C250 Sport offers a refined ride and holds the status as one of the best luxury sedans. The base model starts at $34,800, but we’re assuming you can drive home for about $33,400.

According to KBB.com, the estimated five-year total cost of ownership for the 2012 C250 Sport is $52,742, the bulk of which is depreciation (about $22k).

2. 2012 Mercedes C250 Luxury Sedan — Price + 5 Year Cost of Ownership: $86,535
While the differences between the C250 Sport and Luxury models may seem cosmetic, the true difference is in the ride. Luxury models prioritize ride comfort with shocks designed to allow free suspension movement over smoother surfaces and firm up on rougher roads. We’re assuming a cash price of $33,800 plus an estimated $52,725 ownership cost to arrive at the total.

3. 2012 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 — Price + 5 Year Cost of Ownership: $87,343
Mercedes compact crossover GLK350 provides impressive ride and handling with robust structure, impressively crafted cabin, and layers of technology. Assuming a total cash price of $32,495 (that’s the standard rear-wheel drive model), you’ll be close to the number given above.

Interestingly enough, the GLK shines with a low depreciation cost (just $21k) but suffers from a high fuel cost. The GLK’s 18PMG combined EPA rating means you’ll likely spend $16,000+ in fuel over five-years. If this vehicle got just 1 more MPG, it would be the least expensive Mercedes-Benz model available.

Other relatively affordable Mercedes-Benz models (based on total five year cost to own):

•    The rest of the C-class (excluding the C63 sedan or coupe) runs from $90-$100k
•    The 4Matic GLK350 at $92k
•    The E350 sedans run from $112k to $115k, while the wagon E350 hits $124k

While these numbers might not make you feel great, keep in mind that they’re based on a series of assumptions. If you a) minimize your fuel costs, b) pay cash, and c) keep your vehicle for 10-12 years, the relative cost of a new Mercedes-Benz is much more comparable to non-premium car.

Additionally, remember that vehicles lose the most value to depreciation within the first year. You can save a lot of money buying a late model version of your favorite Mercedes-Benz.

Author Elizabeth Bailey writes about all things cars for MBSilverStar.com.au, Melbourne, Australia’s finest Mercedes-Benz dealership.

 

Categories : Car Buying
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Written by a Guest Blogger – James Burrow

Sustainability enthusiasts and techies alike will enjoy Nissan’s newest concept SUV, rolling out at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. The 2013 Nissan Terra SUV concept reshapes traditionally concrete features to provide an all-new driving experience. Utilizing successful computing technology, the Terra replaces a conventional dashboard with a removable tablet. Hydrogen fuel-cell technology powers three electric motors to provide a fully sustainable journey. Although it’s purely a concept, Nissan’s investment in new technology thinking demonstrates a commitment to innovation.

Hydrogen Powered

Nissan’s newest concept has positioned itself ahead of the curve in the electronic vehicle (EV) market, housing a hydrogen fuel stack to power three electric motors. Although Nissan has been developing fuel cells since 1996, the latest series represents perhaps the most significant step forward yet — it’s made for one-sixth the cost of its 2005 predecessor, according to Nissan.

It’s easy to spot the product of consumer and environmental pressure for alternative-energy vehicles. Hybrid sales rose 11.4 percent in January 2012, and 55.4 percent in February, according to Autoweek. Toyota’s hybrid Prius led the way as the world’s third-best selling car in the first quarter of 2012. The 100 percent electric Nissan Leaf, which will soon be available at Phoenix Nissan dealerships, is currently the Japanese automaker’s most popular electric vehicle, but big things could be on the horizon.

 

In order to for hydrogen-powered vehicles to catch the Prius and other popular hybrids, the chemical’s value will have to drop significantly. But some experts believe we could see a spike in hydrogen fuel-cell-powered vehicles in the not-so-distant future.

“I’ll cite the CARB estimate of 500,000 zero-emission cars by 2025, with maybe a third being fuel-cell vehicles,” energy expert Peter Hoffmann told The New York Times.

Expect Nissan to be on the front lines of fuel-cell technology. The Japanese automaker’s investment in EV technology, along with French-based Renault, already exceeded $5.6 billion as of September 2011.

Tablet Dashboard

Nissan’s tablet dashboard is perhaps Terra’s most eye-catching new feature. Angled appropriately just beyond the steering wheel, this “intelligent key” has all the functions of a regular dashboard and then some. Along with general speed and rpm performance indicators, drivers can toggle to navigation, entertainment and communication functions with the touch-screen tablet.

Additionally, the removable device must be locked into place in order for the vehicle to start, providing an unprecedented level of security.

Nissan’s technological creativity stokes the imagination with ideas for further automobile-technology integration and validates tablet computing as more than just a shiny fad.

“Modern Toughness”

True to concept-car culture, the Terra’s forward-thinking design elicits visions of chrome tunnels and cool cities. The sleek, slim body is the first of many unique features. Thick pillars and a metal frame stabilize this SUV, while an aerodynamically flat-body pan contributes to the energy-efficient experience.

Inside, a more centered driver’s seat uproots traditional seating layouts. Instead of two parallel rows, the Terra’s seating staggers passengers in a hexagonal motif, meaning everyone has a clear view of the road ahead. Blond wood trim contrasts colored acrylic for a warm interior.

It won’t turn any heads, but a completely flat cabin promotes convenience while transporting bikes, furniture, groceries or anything else.

Every detail combines to create an image of what Nissan calls “modern toughness“. The technology may be mind blowing, but this concept appears ready to handle the rigors of everyday life in style.

Categories : Car Buying
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Snow and ice are just around the corner. Whether you like it or not, winter weather will be here before you know it. How can you get better traction in the snow and ice? The folks at McGee Company has a solution for you. Instead of putting heavy and cumbersome chains on your tires, just put on the easy to install AutoSock.

AutoSock

The AutoSock

The AutoSock is a textile cover that is installed over tires when snow and ice are encountered. It increases traction and installation is a breeze. This alternative traction device even works on vehicles with very little space around the wheel well.

Environmental Impacts

Since the AutoSock is soft, it does not damage road surfaces. And unlike chains, it emits virtually no noise when driving. Another significant benefit is that the AutoSock weighs significantly less than chains, resulting in lower fuel consumption and less carbon dioxide emissions. If you do ever wear them out, they are also recyclable.

How to Use the AutoSock
  • Before purchasing the AutoSock, you will need to know your tire size. Tire dimensions are on the sidewall of the tire. An example tire size is P205/55R16.
  • When using the AutoSock, don’t put the “pedal to the metal”. Use a light foot so the tire doesn’t spin and avoid using excessive speeds.
  • Once you get out of the snow or ice, remove the AutoSock to increase its longevity.
  • Before parking your vehicle at night, remove the AutoSock so it doesn’t freeze.

 

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Oct
12

How Chevrolet Volt Works

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Written by a Guest Blogger
Imagine an invisible straight line across the road and all the cars so far into existence lying somewhere on that line, including the 2013 Chevrolet Volt. Give the imaginary end points to the line; the left end is the Gasoline, denoting the cars that run on gasoline. And the other end of the line denotes the power of electricity that is an alternative resource to run vehicles. This end point of the line represents the cars that purely run on electricity and associated with batteries and electric motors. You plug them in and if the battery runs off, you probably need to walk in the way.
Now, when you are aware of these two types of powers on which the cars run, it is easier to explain that a Hybrid is any car or vehicle that lies in the center of this imaginary line. A hybrid car gets life sometime with the combustion of fuel and alternatively by the electricity stored in the batteries. In apparent simple words, Chevrolet volt is a Hybrid!

What makes the Hybrid Chevy Volt Work?
Gasoline Engine

To power the electric generator, the three-cylinder, 1.0-liter turbocharged internal-combustion engine is turned on as required.

Fuel Tanks

The car has two fuel tanks that can seize a collective sum of 12 gal. of gasoline or E85 (a mix up of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline).

Generator

The generator in the Volt is power-driven by the engine. This 53-kW generator can revive the battery in half an hour and can be used under certain driving settings to propel current straight to the motor.

Battery Pack

Before the need of generator, this 16-kWh Li-ion battery pack in the Chevy Volt can offer adequate power for up to 40 miles of driving.

Electric Motor

The car has a 120-kW electric motor that generates 160 HP and supports top speed of 120 mph conveniently.

Charge Ports

The Chevy Volt has charging ports on both sides of the car that let a driver to recharge the batteries in about 6.5 hours from a 110-volt outlet.

The process story…

Once the Volt’s battery is exhausted, the engine commands the generator to turn out the power needed to drive the Volt. Over 70 mph, when the generator pairs to the ring gear, the engine acquires a better resourceful direct mechanical union to the wheels.
Chevrolet’s loom allows a complete EV potential over 30-40 real-world miles—something other competitors like Toyota will never be able to assert with their existing Hybrid Synergy Drive system. So, the Chevrolet Volt 2013 symbolizes a bridge connecting the gasoline present and the electro-commuter prospect.

Author Bio –

This piece of information is written and shared by Bob Pulte Chevrolet, the largest and most renowned Chevrolet car dealership in Ohio offering new and pre-owned Chevrolet car to Dayton, Cincinnati and Lebanon. Get reviews on all new Chevrolet models upcoming in 2013 and grab information on all latest launches. Check out your Chevy at Bob Pulte for the most competitive prices.

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Written by a Guest Blogger

We’ve all noticed how some people’s personalities change when they get behind the wheel of a car. As they morph from sensible to scary, what’s going on in their heads?

Studies commissioned by insurance companies, road safety authorities and motoring industry players – all of which have more than a passing interest in knowing about driving styles – have found that there are strong links between our personality traits, our driving styles, and the cars we choose to buy – right down to the specific details like tyres. The decisions we make when driving and buying a car are not entirely rational, and emotional and social factors come into play. We judge people by the type of car they drive, and our own cars are an important part of how we identify ourselves.

Mr Mild-Mannered becomes Mr Masterful and Ms Meek becomes Ms Mean the moment they are in the driving seat, or someone who has spent weeks researching different cars’ performance, maintenance costs and fuel consumption makes a buying decision based on emotion rather than the research when they see something they fall in love with – and the strong connection between our cars and the way we like to see ourselves is not lost on those clever marketing folk who earn a living by inventing names for cars.

It’s all in a name

While it would be easy to brand a new car “Bully”, “Flighty” or “Feral”, most marketers prefer a less blatant approach, and choose subtle ways of feeding car buyers’ fantasies about themselves and their driving styles. Car names with animal themes are a common way of hinting at animal attributes a driver might aspire to.

Mustangs, Colts, Pintos and Broncos have been named after natural horsepower, the Shelby Cobra, and Dodge’s Viper, Copperhead and Venom models are all about inspiring a sense of danger, while Impalas, Stags and Gazelles conjure up elegant, agile animals. Then there are the cars named after members of the cat family – or in the case of Jaguar, a car manufacturer named for a sleek jungle predator.

You’ll note that no Mouse, Tortoise or Wombat appears in these lists; the average car buyer looks for something that’s just a little edgy, and would rather not be associated with any creature that is timid, plodding, or just plain ordinary. The ideal animal theme for a car is likely to recall a creature that is fast, feisty, ferocious, and far from feeble. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, and Fiat’s Panda and Reliant’s Kitten spring to mind as popular cars named after animals that are more cute and cuddly, than menacing and malevolent.

You are what you drive

When you’ve chosen a car that’s named after a wild animal you’ll drive as if you are king of the road. If you’re behind the wheel of a Mustang you’ll be champing at the bit whenever traffic lights go red. Drive a Jaguar and you’ll be running down your prey (overtaking the car ahead of you) in no time. These zoological car names are full of meaning, and they can do much more to boost a car owner’s self-image than a synthetic name that has been carefully chosen because it is meaningless in any known language or, at least, is inoffensive in the languages spoken by the target market for the car.

Don’t want to be judged on the car you drive or the way you drive it? Don’t want to be manipulated by marketers into revealing your secret aspirations? Perhaps you should play it safe, open an account with a taxi company, and enjoy your motoring fantasies by watching Top Gear.

Categories : Car Buying, Tires
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Written by a Guest Blogger – Allan Ory – Allan loves writing about cars even more than he loves driving them. He found the best of both worlds when he pursued a journalism degree.

The 2012 Nissan LEAF averages an 80 mile driving range, but according to SankeiBiz, a Japanese business website, that number could increase by 25 percent in next year’s model. Though Nissan has yet to confirm or deny reports, the company’s 2013 electric car could feature a cheaper base model with a smaller battery pack.

Nissan LeafWhen the LEAF was first introduced, it faced no real competition among pure EVs, according to Plug In Cars, but with the ever-increasing technology and sales of other electric vehicles, Nissan needed to act fast to maintain their position as EV leader. With a possible boost in range set to come out next year, Nissan dealers and the industry at large are wondering if LEAF sales, which have struggled in 2012, will see an increase.

The Range Boost

According to the Japanese report, the LEAF could increase its maximum driving range from 200 kilometers to 250. Conversion rates put this estimate at 124 miles—a range that surpasses the LEAF’s current 24 kilowatt-hour pack, according to Plug In Cars. Because car testing methods in Japan are different from those in the U.S., this can be misleading.

In EPA-rated standards, the LEAF has a range of 73 miles, with drivers commonly averaging 80 miles of range in everyday driving. More realistically, the presumed 2013 model could offer an extra 20-30 miles due to a more efficient motor and upgraded lithium-ion batteries. This would bring the total range up to 100-plus miles, meeting Nissan’s original target for the LEAF.

Gas-powered cars are created in a variety of trim levels. If smaller battery options can provide reasonable range, Stephen Edelstein from Digital Trends says choosing between battery packs could be the EV equivalent of choosing between a four-cylinder or a V6 in conventional cars. But could this possible boost in range really boost LEAF sales?

LEAF Sales

According to Mark Perry, Nissan’s director of product planning, in an interview with The Detroit News, expectations are for LEAF volume to hit 2,000 units per month in the U.S. by late summer. With July’s 395 sales and June’s 535, that’s quite the jump in numbers. Last month, 685 LEAF units were sold in the U.S., a 50 percent decline compared to August 2011, according to Time Business. Perhaps the 2012 Motor Trend Auto Show could improve LEAF sales with Phoenix Nissan in Arizona’s capital and all across the country from Anaheim to Long Island.

With all the chatter about increased range in the 2013 model, and the decrease in numbers this year, it will only make it more difficult for Nissan dealers to sell the remaining 2012 models. But Nissan isn’t discouraged, nor is the company backing down from its original goal of selling 20,000 LEAFs in 2012. The prediction was somewhat modified recently, when Bill Krueger, the vice chairman of Nissan Americas, told Bloomberg that the goal runs through the company’s fiscal year, which ends in March 2013, not this upcoming December.

In that same interview, Krueger announced a new plant in Smyrna, Tenn. will be ready to produce the cars in December, helping relieve the plant in Japan and boost supply before the fiscal year is over. “We’ve had to fulfill demand from one plant globally,” Krueger told Bloomberg. “Once we localize it in December, the second half of the fiscal year is when we’ll see most of the supply, demand be available.”

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This year’s NACAT (North American Council of Automotive Teachers) Conference is being held in Tyler, Texas and is hosted by Tyler Junior College.

Auto Upkeep 3rd Edition (c) 2013 Debut!

Auto Upkeep 3rd Edition will debut at the NACAT conference tomorrow, Wednesday July 18th – 2012! We are pleased to announce that this edition is in FULL Color and has been updated. Proud to have over 500 secondary and post-secondary schools already using previous editions…we are optimistic that this edition is sure to WOW!

QR Codes Link to Dedicated Resource Site

Auto Upkeep 3rd Edition Dedicated WebsiteUnique to this edition are QR (Quick Reference) Codes at the beginning of each chapter. With a smartphone app, you can quickly scan the code and will be directed to handy resources at our dedicated accompanying site – 3rd.AutoUpkeep.com.

Multiple Formats – Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook

We have always worked to meet the needs of teachers, students, and consumers. In an effort to meet all budgets and preferred learning methods, Auto Upkeep 3rd Edition textbook is available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook. The workbook is available in paperback or eBook. Access on your Kindle, iPad, tablet, laptop, smartphone, or desktop computer, the eBook is for those that want to go paperless and learn in a more interactive way. Currently available at Chegg.com, Auto Upkeep 3rd Editon using the Chegg eTextbook Reader has hundreds of clickable weblinks and is easily navigated using bookmarks in the table of contents and index. (Note: The Auto Upkeep eBooks just went live and cover images are still being updated – look for “Edition 3″ next to the “eTextbook” option in the “Auto Upkeep” search.) Check out how the Chegg eTextbook Reader works:

Free Review Copies to Auto Instructors and Administrators

To ensure that all automotive teachers have an opportunity to review Auto Upkeep, we have packaged up 500 sets to give away at the NACAT Trade Show and during seminars (Presentation Titles: Blogging Your Automotive Program and Developing a First Course in the New NATEF Model). Be sure to stop by our booth, attend one of the seminars, pick up a free copy, and meet all three of us – Mike, Linda, and Aiden!

Categories : Auto Upkeep News
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Written by a Guest Blogger – Rob James is a blogger that specialises within the travel and motor industry. He is currently collaborating with http://www.cooperbmw.co.uk/ providing online advice and guidance to drivers and car owners.

Getting the most out of your car tyres is vital to ensuring that you don’t suffer any long term problems in terms of breakdowns and dangerous driving. A run down tyre can lead to serious imbalances when driving, and can put strain on a car’s suspension. Maintaining car tyres is fairly straightforward, and there are a few routines that you follow to make sure that they are in a working condition. At the same time, it is important to think carefully about how your tyres are affected by your driving, and about what should be avoided when dealing with your tyres.

1 – Improving Pressure

Check the pressure of your tyres on a regular basis, and look for under and over inflation. An over inflated tyre is particularly vulnerable to heat during the summer, and can stretch, tear and burst if put under the wrong amount of pressure. The correct tyre pressure is located on the tyre placard on the driver’s door jamb of the car.

2 – Tyre Balancing

You might find that the balance of weight and tread between your tyres if slightly off, a problem that is usually caused by rear and front wheel suspensions. A computerised four wheel imbalance program can make it easier to ensure that too much strain is not being placed on a particular set of tyres.

3 – Rotating Tyres

Another way to improve the balance and the distribution of weight between your tyres is to have them rotated on a regular basis at a garage. This procedure should be carried out every 5,000 miles, and simply makes sure that your tyres are rotated to prevent imbalances.

4 – Things to Avoid When Driving

When driving, try to avoid being too close to the curb, as this can result in tyre grazing and damage. Similarly, try to reduce fast turns on corners that can lead to wear and tear, and undue strain on tyres.

5 – Check for the Wrong Inflation

You should check tyre gauges to see if tyres have been incorrectly inflated, which can occur when you first buy a car, or when work is done to them. Although it is rare for professionals to wrongly inflate your tyres, it is worth checking if you feel there is a problem with your suspension and handling.

6 – Check for Wear and Tear

A simple tip, but one that should be followed in the summer when tyres can receive damage from road debris and heat, checking tyres for wear and tear means that you will be able to identify a problem before it becomes more serious.

7 – Check Wheel Alignment

A wrong wheel alignment can result in a poor tyre fitting. This problem is often created when alloy wheels are fitted, and can be easily avoided by checking wheel and tyre gauges beforehand.

8 – Have Spare Tyres

Another straightforward tip for getting the most out of your tyres, but one that should be followed, it is worth having a spare tyre in place if you are going for a long drive. A drive abroad can be made particularly difficult if you aren’t able to find the right tyre.

10 – Make Sure You Don’t Waste Old Tyres

It is possible to save some money on throwing out old tyres by looking into local waste collection schemes, with many companies able to strip and re-use or recycle tyres, rather than sending them to landfills.

Categories : Tech Tips
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Written by a Guest Blogger – This post was written and contributed by Edson Farnell. Edson writes about various automotive topics. Many of Edson’s friends refer to him as the Auto Parts Geek.

Working on your own car is a great way to save money on costly labor fees. Many malfunctions that a car has can be prevented with regular maintenance. You can even fix many of the glitches on your own, to cut down on mechanic costs. The most important aspect, though, is making sure that you stay safe while working your car. There are electrical circuits, gas lines and various fluids that can easily create an unsafe situation if not treated with the proper respect and care.

A general across-the-board tip for basic car safety is to never work on your car while the engine is hot. Even after your car has been running for only a few minutes, parts of it can be hot enough to cause a serious burn.

Proper Information

Information is the most important tool that you’ll require. Working on your car is something where you must know exactly what you’re doing beforehand. It’s not like building a birdhouse where you can wing it and probably be all right. Your safety depends on having the right information and nothing else.

Before you start any job, acquire precise technical information about the procedure you are about to attempt. Read through step-by-step instructions absolutely, before you start doing anything.

You can find this information at plenty of auto repair shops. You will be able to easily find complete owner’s manuals that detail how to perform any sort of maintenance or repair that your car will need. You can also find a large portion of this information online, too. If you are unsure about how to do something, ask a professional. Humbling yourself and seeking help is far less painful than a third degree burn on your forehead.

Proper Equipment

Once you have the know-how, you’ll need the right tools! The tools that you’ll require will depend on the job you are about to start. The information you already acquired will outline the tools needed for the job. As you’ve seen when you visit your mechanic, they have a full garage full of various tools. Chances are, if you don’t, you’ll be spending a pretty penny on building a tool collection.

There are some generic pieces of equipment that are worth investing in if you will be regularly working on your car.

• Jack stands – Quality jack stands create a solid foundation for your car. Ensure that the stands you purchase are capable of holding the entire weight of your car; they will list their weight capacity.

• Lighting – A few quality flood lamps will save your eyes and your temper. Nothing is more frustrating than having to stop a complicated procedure because your lighting is being blocked.

• Another person – While they may be insulted to be considered “equipment,” having someone else to work with is essential. There are many hazards that cannot be planned for when working on your car. Having another person present means they can seek help should you be rendered unable to.

Proper State of Mind

Work sober: plain and simple. You may end up attempting a procedure you are unprepared for, having hands that aren’t as steady as they should be or simply being unable to handle the equipment required.

Be Smart, Be Prepared, Be Sober

Staying safe while working on your car largely boils down to common sense. Know what you’re doing and have the right tools for the project. Be in the correct state of mind to focus on the task at hand. Make sure that all the parts you are using are handled safely and correctly, you can trust a website like PartsGeek to assure your parts are reliable.

 

Categories : Tech Tips
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Written by Guest Blogger – Steven Weinberg

Steven writes at CarInsuranceCalculator.info where he also maintains a weekly column.

Many are surprised to find that business auto insurance is actually very similar to regular private auto insurance. There’s actually not a lot of differences between the two when it comes to coverage and function, although there are some reasons that a car should definitely be insured with business car insurance versus private auto insurance. Business auto insurance is mainly comprised of liability coverage: bodily injury and property damage, just like a private auto insurance policy. There are other types of coverage available on a commercial auto policy.

When one is attempting to buy auto insurance, often the insurance agency will ask whether the vehicle is used as a private auto or if the auto is used in any kind business or if the auto belongs to a business. Most of all, business car insurance is absolute necessary for cars that belong to a company and that are used for commercial purposes (such as a real estate agent driving clients from property to property, a pizza delivery driver, contractors, and other professions), often including the self employed.

The main aim of business auto insurance versus private auto insurance is so that the company car is being used for is freed of financial obligations that could be presented if an accident should occur and the driver who owns the vehicle causes an accident. Additionally, it helps alleviate the responsibility associated with a company being sued over an accident, and certainly helps to alleviate the stress of an individual being sued for an at-fault accident that happened with a commercial vehicle, making the individual responsible for everything instead of the company.

Who needs business auto insurance and why?

Not every company is required to have commercial car insurance, nor does every insurance company require that all ‘commercial’ related cars be insured with commercial car insurance, and this can also be determined by the insured’s local laws and regulations. For example, companies that have telecommute or work at home jobs don’t always require that the employee carry business auto insurance, largely because the worker is at a minimum risk since the car isn’t being driven as much as well as not being used in the course of business, so the number of accidents, claims, and violations are at a much lesser rate and risk. Additionally, not all insurers will require that a person carry a commercial auto policy.

Deciding what kind of policy one needs is largely dependent not only on whether a company requires commercial insurance, but also on other factors that one should ask themselves if they think they may need to have commercial auto insurance.

Here are some of the things that should be taken into consideration when trying to figure out what kind of policy to buy:

*What do I use the vehicle for the majority of the time?

*Do I own the vehicle outright or does an employer or other company own it as well?

*How do I use the vehicle the majority of the time? For personal reasons or for commercial reasons?

*Do I ever have clients or customers in the vehicle with me?

*Do I carry valuable company property with me in the vehicle?

*Would the company I work for hold me legally liable for any expenses should I cause an accident?

If most of the answers to those questions were yes or if you use a vehicle the majority of the time for work purposes, then business auto insurance is most likely the right answer.

Types of Coverage

After you’ve decided whether or not you need commercial auto insurance, you’ll be able to figure out the details of the policy with the insurance company, and they’ll let you know what coverage would be best for you with your line of work in mind. As previously mentioned, most insurance companies offer a very similar policy for business auto insurance as they do private auto insurance, including liability coverage, full coverage, and other types of coverage, such as:

*Bodily Injury Liability: pays for another person’s medical expenses if you caused an accident. This coverage also helps cover the amounts of any lawsuits brought by the other party.

*Property Damage Liability: pays for the property damage caused if you caused an accident, and is for repairing or replacing any kind of property you’ve done damage to, including cars, homes, fences, and more types of personal property.

*Comprehensive Coverage: Pays for damage to your vehicle for repairing or replacing something from damage from something you have no control over, such as theft, vandalism, broken glass, or damage from animals.

*Collision Coverage: Pays for damage to your auto if you collide with another vehicle or object.

*Medical Payments: Helps pay for your medical expenses if injured in an accident, regardless of who is at fault.

*Rental coverage: Helps cover the costs of a rental car if you have an accident and the car is in the shop being repaired, regardless of who is at fault.

*Coverage for valuable property inside the vehicle: Such as if you worked for a surveying company and carried around surveying equipment so if it were damaged in an accident, there would be coverage to repair or replace it.

While it may be of your best interest, or even required by an employer or by your insurance company, having business auto insurance is typically more expensive than private auto insurance. However, spending the extra money for coverage is well worth it since the risks of being sued or being held liable for costs, either by your company or by the other person if a lawsuit starts, is much higher than when you drive with private auto insurance.

One perk though is that most businesses can deduct their insurance from their taxes if they have to have commercial auto insurance. Additionally, it’s important to remember though that while it is usually more expensive, always make sure you’re carrying adequate coverage that you feel is enough to protect your business and ultimately your investments.

Categories : Insurance
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Written by a Guest Blogger

Services like CarInsuranceQuotes.net are constantly reviewing some of the worst driving habits in order to assess the risk we’re putting ourselves in by getting behind the wheel. We all like to think we are good drivers and have habits that are conducive to avoiding accidents and staying healthy, but often our riskiest behaviors are the ones we do without even thinking about them. Here are 10 driving habits that put your life in danger and that you may not even know you have.

1. Talking on the phone

We all know this one – answering or making a cellular call while driving. You can become immersed in a conversation and, if your mouth is engaged, your brain is not. As much as is written about this, it remains a primary cause of many accidents.

2. Texting

Okay, this one should be 1A, but it is even more insidious than talking on your phone while driving. If you are tapping out a text on your phone, where are your eyes fixed? How many hands do you have on the steering wheel? Your eyes definitely aren’t on the road and you cannot possibly have more than one hand on the steering wheel. This one activity has proven to be as dangerous as drinking and driving.

3. Gesturing

We are all people, and it never fails: some of us have bad days occasionally – that’s life. Just because the driver in front of or behind you is using suggestive hand gestures to let you know about it, don’t reciprocate. Road rage is very real and even an innocent can get involved in an escalating situation you cannot control or win.

4. Rolling through stops

Stop signs don’t mean stop-then-go as rapidly as possible. Take a look around on all sides – even look up and down. The car you think is going to stop as he approaches a 4-way stop sign is the one that collides with yours.

5. Rushing at green

Green does mean go – but it doesn’t mean you light the liquid fuel rockets. It means “proceed with caution.” Take a look both ways and make sure someone isn’t in a rush, and running the red light going the opposite direction. Pause for a second before entering the intersection – even on green. Just because you are paying attention doesn’t mean the other guy is.

6. Following to closely

This is akin to the rule of maintaining at least one car length of distance from the car in front of you for each 10 miles-per-hour of speed. Why not make it one-and-one-half car lengths? This safety measure is even simpler – if you can read the license plate – you are too close. Maintaining distance allows you to be able to take control of 2 tons of steel and react, stop, and avoid conditions that can cause harm.

7. Panic braking

You know who you are – the ones that brake for ants crossing the road. This is never a good idea, especially with people’s tendency to multitask while driving. Give yourself lots of room to brake steadily and slowly. This preventative step in accident avoidance is for the “other guy” that likes reading license plates.

8. Taking medications

Know the drugs you are taking and ALL of the side effects. Virtually every medication you can take may affect your performance behind the wheel – this even includes aspirin. The best cure for this is not to take any medications while driving. When this isn’t possible, ask your doctor and pharmacist if there are any concerns about driving while taking that OTC allergy medication that calls itself a non-drowsy formula.

9. Forgoing your seatbelt

Most states have very good laws that make seat belt use mandatory. Don’t buckle-up because you will get a ticket if you don’t. Do it because it can save your life if you are in an accident.

10. Paying attention to passengers

Pay extra attention when you are the driver with one or more passengers in the car. Having a deeply engrossing conversation about the fiber content of the chicken fried rice you just had for lunch is better discussed once you get to your destination. Distractions in any form can be deadly.

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As Lightning McQueen would say, “Speed. I am speed.” Ok, putting Disney-Pixar film Cars quotes aside…if you want raw power to cruise on the real Route 66 take a look at the 2012 Camaro ZL1.

2012 Camaro ZL1

2012 Camaro ZL1

The 2012 Camaro was inspired by the 1969 Camaro ZL1. In 1969, only 69 production vehicles were made…your chances of obtaining a 2012 ZL1 are a little better. Check out HowStuffWorks.com to learn more about the 1969 Camaro ZL1.

Back to the future…or at least 2012. First let’s look at the under the hood specs.

2012 Camaro ZL1 Engine

2012 Camaro ZL1 Engine

A 580 Horsepower engine with 556 lb-ft of torque can get this 4,120 lb beast from Zero to 60 in 3.9 seconds…all without manual shifting. But who wants an automatic in a rocket like this? The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual with a short-throw shifter. I guess you will just have to buy one to see if you can beat the Zero to 60 rating that the technologically advanced 6-speed automatic serves up. With either tranny, the 6.2 Liter Supercharged Aluminum V8 is sure to set you planted in the driver’s seat reaching the quarter mile in 12 seconds. While you have the pedal stomped to the floor, you want to keep your eyes on the road. The Head-Up Display will help keep your eyes focused straight ahead. If you do decide to take corners to get the ultimate feel, the Magneto-Rheological Shock system adjusts the suspension at 1000 times per second depending on input from sensors that identify the yaw, dive, squat, pitch, and roll. The Performance Traction Management system will give you the handling you want – on or off the track. If you think all this speed and performance will put too much heat on your engine or tranny…the ZL1 comes standard with factory-integrated auxiliary coolers. For braking, the ZL1 front brakes have, count them, four-piston calipers in the rear and six-piston calipers in the front cooled by integrated brake ducts. The carbon-fiber hood scoop (or more precisely called an air extractor) is not only good looking but also functional. It helps reduce lift by channeling the air that enters the lower grill to escape through the hood. Nice, very nice!

2012 Camaro ZL1 Interior

2012 Camaro ZL1 Interior

With an MSRP starting at $54,095 I can’t imagine many Camaro ZL1s will be sitting on showroom floors for very long. The one I looked at was already sold. If you want one, try contacting Derek Ohlert (800-725-5800) or one of the other friendly sales staff at Reliable Chevrolet in Southwest Missouri. They might be able to track one down for you.

Categories : Car Buying, Car Reviews
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Apr
15

Supercharging

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Written by Guest Blogger – Anthony Schwaller, www.streetrod101.com

Streetrod101.com

Question: Some street rod owners have vehicles that are supercharged. What is the definition of supercharging and how is an engine supercharged?

Answer: Most street rod engines are called naturally aspirated. On a naturally aspirated engine, as the piston moves downward on the intake stroke, a vacuum is created inside the cylinder. This vacuum draws air and fuel into the engine. The amount of air and fuel entering the engine is based on the atmospheric pressure. In most cases the amount of horsepower and torque is sufficient for most driving conditions. However, in some cases, especially for high performance and racing conditions, engines are supercharged to get more power.

Supercharging a gasoline engine is accomplished by forcing a greater volume of air and fuel into the cylinders. This means that the engine is not naturally aspirated, it is supercharged. By supercharging an engine, horsepower and torque can be increased from 50%-100%, depending upon the exact design.

The most popular way to supercharge an engine, especially in the street rod industry, is by using a blower. A blower is an air pump placed on top of the intake manifold to increase the volume of air and fuel going into the engine. The most common type of blower is called the Roots-type blower, named after its inventors, Philander and Francis Roots. Roots-type blowers are used by General Motors on their 2 cycle diesel engine design. Often referred to as the 4-71, 6-71 or 8V-71 engine, each had a gear driven Roots-type blower to force increased amounts of air into the diesel engines. A Roots-type blower is considered a positive displacement pump. It pumps a specific volume of air each revolution of its rotors.

Streetrod101.com

Referring to the illustration above, the Roots-type blower used on street rods is placed on top of the intake manifold. There are two rotors, each having three lobes made from aluminum alloys. The rotors also have a slight angle to them from the front to the back to increase volumetric efficiency. Note that some designs use a two lobed rotor. The two rotors are connected by gears (not shown) in front of the blower. On street rods, the gears are driven by a cog belt which runs off a crankshaft pulley as shown above. As the rotors turn, they do not touch each other. There are small clearances between each rotor that keep them from touching. The left rotor turns counter clockwise while the right rotor turns clockwise in the drawing. As the rotors turn, they draw in huge amounts of air and fuel, pressurize it, send it to the intake manifold, and finally to the valves.

One of the disadvantages of a Roots-type blower is that it consumes a large amount of frictional horsepower from the crankshaft. However, the total increase in horsepower and torque is still very high. Operating a supercharged engine produces greater power, but not necessarily better fuel economy.

Also, if a blower is going to be installed on a street rod, many other components also have to be changed. Since there is a large amount of power increase, stronger pistons, gaskets, cylinder heads, valves, piston rings, fuel pump, carburetors, camshaft, etc. must be changed to allow for the increase in air/fuel volume as well as combustion pressures. For example, many supercharged engines have three, four barrel carburetors to handle the increase fuel requirements. Also, the intake manifold needs to be changed so that the blower will fit on top, and also allow lubrication for the rotor bearings.

Want to learn more about street rods, go to www.streetrod101.com.

Categories : Streetrod
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