Archive for June 2015

Body shops say aluminum costs more to repair

If the aluminum-bodied vehicles on the road today are an accurate gauge, the 2015 Ford F-150 probably will be more expensive to repair than its steel-bodied predecessor.

Body shop owners say aluminum repair parts are more expensive than steel parts. And because it often takes longer to repair an aluminum body, the labor costs usually are higher.

That has been the experience of a suburban Detroit chain of high-end body shops that repair aluminum Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and BMW vehicles and a New York shop that handles Jaguar and Land Rover aluminum vehicles.

But Ford says that situation will change. At the National Automobile Dealers Association convention, the company told dealers the redesigned F-150 would not be more expensive to repair than the current model.

Although aluminum repair parts cost more, Ford said, they are designed to be installed quickly and easily, which would reduce labor.

Insurance companies will have a lot of say about what the repairs will cost.

“The cost to repair depends on the insurance company,” said Larry Smith, owner of Autometric Collision Inc. in suburban Detroit. “The good insurance companies will listen to us and pay attention to the manufacturer’s guidelines. The bad ones will discount what the manufacturers say.”

For instance, if a piece of the metal body is bent more than a few millimeters, a manufacturer may require a replacement, while an insurance company would pressure the body shop for a cheaper fix by straightening it, said Smith, whose company has nine shops in the Detroit area.


Work is similar


The shift to aluminum will be costly for Ford dealers in terms of the equipment they must buy and the training technicians will have to take. To help, Ford is offering dealerships a 20 percent discount on equipment and training through October.

But Smith says working with aluminum is no more difficult than working with steel; it’s just different. He said if a body shop technician is open to change and has the proper training, he or she can adapt to aluminum.

Land Rover, the latest automaker to switch from steel to aluminum, requires body shop personnel working on the aluminum-bodied Range Rover to pass a thorough training program. Some dealers send their body shop employees, while dealers who don’t have their own body shops must ensure that the body shops they send their customers to are trained.

Ford dealers will use a body shop training program run by the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, the same as Land Rover.

“We have a one-week Jaguar-Land Rover intensive welding, riveting and bonding class held at the I-CAR training headquarters in Appleton, Wis.,” said Land Rover spokesman Wayne York Kung. “[Dealer body] shops are required to have a minimum of two structural techs on staff.

“We require that repairs performed on all-aluminum vehicles be separated, and in a number of cases the certified shop actually has a separate building where they do these repairs.”


$50,000 training


Smith said he spent about $50,000 to train two employees to repair the new aluminum Porsche 911 sports car. “I won’t live long enough to recoup that,” he said. It costs about $20,000 each to send technicians to Mercedes-Benz to learn how to fix that company’s vehicles.

Ford dealers might recoup their costs quickly because of the F-150’s high volume. More than 500,000 F-150s were sold in 2013.

Land Rover dealer Michael Levitan’s three stores on Long Island in New York don’t have body shops. Instead, Levitan works with a local independent collision repair center, Supreme Auto Collision, in Lindenhurst, N.Y., that has completed Land Rover’s dealer training course. Levitan says there have been no issues with having aluminum-bodied Range Rovers properly repaired.

Glenn Berman, owner of Supreme Auto Collision, said owners of aluminum-bodied vehicles pay more for repairs. He said the replacement body parts are more expensive and the labor costs are higher because aluminum repairs take longer than fixing a steel-bodied vehicle.

Another factor driving up the price: While steel aftermarket parts are widely available, the only aluminum replacements currently available come from the vehicle manufacturers.

“When something [on a steel-bodied vehicle] gets bent, you can pull it out and straighten it,” Berman said. “On an aluminum vehicle, the factory wants you to remove the entire piece and replace everything.”

He said insurance companies often pressure him to deviate from factory repair procedures to cut costs.

Smith, the Detroit-area body shop owner, said the best advice he could give to Ford dealers who will work on the aluminum F-150 is to buy the best aluminum repair equipment available and to send as many body shop technicians to school as possible.

Said Smith: “Don’t take a shortcut and send just one guy, hoping he’ll tell the guy in the next stall over how to do things. That won’t work.”

You can reach Richard Truett at

Ford can pursue lawsuit after Explorers wound up in China


Ford Motor Co. has been granted the ability to pursue its lawsuit against a fleet customer it claims wrongfully exported vehicles to China and failed to buy enough vehicles to qualify for price discounts it received from Ford.

Titan Enterprise Inc.’s bid to toss the suit was rejected by U.S. District Judge Ronald Lew in Los Angeles.

According to the decision, Titan signed a Competitive Price Allowance Program contract for the 2014 program year, agreeing to buy at least 250 vehicles, all of which were to be registered and operated “solely in the United States” under an export prohibition in the contract.

Titan received $823,000 in price discounts on the more than 170 Explorers it purchased from two Ford dealerships in California and Colorado. Titan said the vehicles were for its company fleet and would be used by its field geologists and engineers, primarily in Western states, including Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada, according to the suit.

However, Titan corporate officers Jim Chen and Roger Catoire “perpetrated an elaborate ruse” to secure the price discounts by “falsely representing to Ford” that the vehicles wouldn’t be brokered or exported, the suit charges.

The suit doesn’t allege any wrongdoing by the two dealerships.

Titan showed the dealerships “fraudulent bills of lading which indicated that the vehicles were being sent only to various domestic locations — Helena, Montana; Henderson, Nevada; and Phoenix, Arizona — when, in reality, some or all of the vehicles were actually sent to California and subsequently exported to China,” the suit alleges.

After Ford discovered that dozens of the Explorers “were found at a port of entry in mainland China,” Chen, who is Titan’s president, “admitted he exported to China some or all of the Explorers,” the court decision said.

Titan argued that the anti-export provision is unenforceable as an illegal restraint of trade. It also said it’s willing to buy more vehicles, but Ford has kept it from doing so.

In his decision, Lew said Ford presented sufficient evidence of a valid contract and that it had carried out its own contractual obligations. He ruled Ford could pursue the suit on two grounds: the export prohibition and the requirement to buy at least 250 vehicles during the program year.

“This is a case we fully intend to pursue,” a Ford spokeswoman said. “We are currently in the discovery process. Ford will make the appropriate decisions as the case continues to develop.”

Titan’s lawyer, Barry Jorgensen of Diamond Bar, Calif., said he could not comment publicly because the litigation is continuing.

Settlement discussions have been unsuccessful, but the dispute could go to mediation, according to court documents.

Everyone needs a Good Laugh!!!


5 Tips for Driving Safely in the Rain

Singing in the rain is fun. But driving? For some people, it’s anxiety-producing. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are around 707,000 automobile crashes each year due to rain, resulting in approximately 3,300 deaths and 330,200 injuries. But being behind the wheel and a rain-splattered windshield doesn’t have to be a white-knuckled, nerve-racking experience. Brent Praeter, a supervising instructor at D&D Driving School, Inc. and a member of the Driving School Association of the Americas, both in Kettering, Ohio, offers these tips for driving in a downpour.

  1. Think. “Many people drive subconsciously, out of habit,” says Praeter. “And when it rains, they often don’t adjust their thinking.” When conditions are less than ideal, drivers need to stay alert and focused on what’s going on around them.
  2. Turn on those headlights. It’s the law in all states to turn headlights on when visibility is low, and many states also require having the headlights on when the windshield wipers are in use. Praeter says that well-working wipers and relatively new (not threadbare) tires also are must-haves when driving in rain.
  3. Beware of hydroplaning. That’s the technical term for what occurs when your tires are getting more traction on the layer of water on the road than on the road itself—the result is that your car begins to slide uncontrollably. It’s easy enough to hydroplane: All you need is one-twelfth of an inch of rain on the road and a speed of more than 35 miles per hour. If you start to hydroplane, let off the accelerator slowly and steer straight until you regain control.
  4. Turn off cruise control. Ironically, on rain- or snow-slick surfaces, cruise control may cause you to lose control. You might think it’ll help you stay at one steady speed, but if you hydroplane while you’re in cruise control, your car will actually go faster.
  5. Slow down. Speed limit signs are designed for ideal conditions, says Praeter, “and that means driving when you have little traffic and good visibility.” That’s hardly the environment you’re driving in when it’s raining, so let up on the accelerator and allow more time to get to your destination.

– See more at:

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Follow This Route for Car Buying That’s Fast and Even Fun

Toyota Adds 1.36 Million Cars to Recall List

June 17, 2015—On Tuesday, Toyota added 1.36 million cars to its list of those needing repairs due to the government expansion of the Takata airbag recalls.

The announcement comes a day after Honda said it will recall another 1.39 million cars, according to a report by USA Today.

These recalls were expected as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) expanded recall which added 33.8 million cars. Since the announcement, 11 affected automakers have been trying to figure out which of their models need to be included.

For Toyota, the additional models will include 2003 to 2007 Corolla and Corolla Matrix; 2005 to 2006 Tundra; 2005 to 2007 Sequoia; and 2003 to 2007 Lexus SC430 vehicles. Toyota says the new additions bring the number of Toyota and Lexus vehicles covered by Takata recalls in the U.S. to about 2.9 million, according to USA Today.

How Speedometers Work

Speedometer AccuracyNo speedometer can be 100 percent accurate. In fact, most manufacturers build speedometers so they fall within a fairly narrow tolerance range, no more than 1 percent to 5 percent too slow or too fast. As long as a car is maintained at factory specs, its speedometer should continue to register vehicle speed within this range. But, if a car is modified, its speedometer may need to be recalibrated.

Changing tire size is one of the most common things car owners do that can affect speedometer accuracy. That’s because larger tires cover more ground in one complete revolution. Consider the example below.

Your car comes with factory-installed tires that are 21.8 inches in diameter. That means the circumference of each tire is 68.5 inches. Now let’s say you want to replace the stock tires with new tires that are 24.6 inches in diameter. Each new tire has a circumference of 77.3 inches, which means it travels almost 10 inches farther with each complete revolution. This has a tremendous affect on your speedometer, which will now indicate a speed that is too slow by almost 13 percent. When your speedometer reads 60 miles per hour, your car will actually be traveling 67.7 miles per hour!

Speedometer Calibration

All speedometers must be calibrated to make sure the torque created by the magnetic field accurately reflects the speed of the car. This calibration must take into account several factors, including the ratios of the gears in the drive cable, the final drive ratio in the differential and the diameter of the tires. All of these factors affect the overall speed of the vehicle. Take tire size, for example. When an axle makes one complete turn, the tire it’s connected to makes one complete revolution. But a tire with a larger diameter will travel farther than a wheel with a smaller diameter. That’s because the distance a tire covers in one revolution is equal to its circumference. So a tire with a diameter of 20 inches will cover about 62.8 inches of ground in one revolution. A tire with a diameter of 30 inches will cover more ground — about 94.2 inches.

Calibration adjusts for these variances and is done by the manufacturer, which sets up the speedometer gear to correspond with the factory-installed ring and pinion ratio and tire size. A car owner may have to recalibrate his speedometer if he makes changes that make his vehicle fall out of factory specifications (see the sidebar below). Recalibrating a speedometer can be done by manipulating the hairspring, the permanent magnet or both. Generally, the strength of the magnetic field is the easiest variable to change. This requires a powerful electromagnet, which can be used to adjust the strength of the permanent magnet in the speedometer until the needle matches the input from the rotating drive cable.

Va. Beach on defensive again over red-light cameras


The city is preparing to once more defend the legality of its red-light cameras after a woman decided to fight a $50 ticket and question the program’s legitimacy in court.

Resident Vanessa Dallas received a citation through the city’s PhotoSafe program that accused her of running a red light July 19, according to General District Court records online. She hired prominent attorney Gary Byler and gained the backing of the National Motorists Association, which has been an opponent of the cameras.

The case was slated to go before a judge Thursday but was postponed until Jan. 21 to allow additional time for Byler and the city to prepare legal arguments.

This will be PhotoSafe’s third major legal challenge since its inception in 2009, Associate City Attorney Michael Beverly said. The first two – challenging the constitutionality of the program and the validity of the city’s contract with the cameras’ operator, Redflex Traffic Systems – were unsuccessful, he said.

Byler plans to argue that the city did not comply with state law in implementing its program, he said in court.

Beverly said he believes the city has complied with state law and Virginia Department of Transportation guidelines. It has cameras at 13 intersections that snap photos and capture video of cars that blow through red lights or fail to come to a complete stop before turning right on red.

Police issued 51,662 tickets in 2012, and the fines contributed nearly $1 million to the city’s general fund after expenses that fiscal year, according to a PhotoSafe presentation provided by the Police Department.

The tickets are a civil infraction and do not affect a motorist’s driving record. Only a handful of drivers contest them.

Byler said he plans to argue that the red-light cameras are unsafe and have led to an increase in collisions.

“The city of Virginia Beach has systematically taken millions from its citizens under what we believe are inappropriate circumstances,” Byler said. “It’s not $50, it’s millions at stake, as well as the safety of the motoring public.”

The city plans to release a three-year study on the PhotoSafe program, including analyzing collision rates, next year, traffic engineer Robert Gey said.

“We obviously feel the police have a very solid program that goes by all the rules,” he said.

Kathy Adams, 757-222-5155,

How to Plug a Flat Car Tire

How to Plug a Flat Car Tire

This article explains how to install a tire plug to fix a flat car tire.The other day I drove about 2 miles between office buildings, briefly went inside the office and returned to my car about 5 minutes later to find the driver’s side rear tire was completely deflated and flat!

Fix a Flat Car Tire: Puncture by Metal Tube in Tire Tread

Fortunately I was in a parking garage and quickly changed the flat, swapping it for the full size spare tire in the trunk. Later I found that I had run over a metal tube that was perfect for letting all the air out of the tire.

Flat Car Tire Repair Options

There are several options for repairing a flat tire:

  1. Fix-A-Flat aerosol inflator and similar products.
  2. Tire plug (described here).
  3. Take the flat tire to a repair shop for professional evaluation and repair with a inside patch and plug.
  4. Call for Emergency Roadside Assistance using your American Automobile Association membership.

Aerosol Inflators

The Fix-A-Flat aerosol inflator is a temporary repair in-a-can that will seal small punctures and inflate the car tire to get you back on the road until you can reach a repair shop. See the Fix-A-Flat Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for more information. The primary advantage of Fix-A-Flat is it easy to use, even by my wife who otherwise would have no clue how to put on the spare tire. A disadvantage of aerosol sealants is the car tire and/or rim needs to be cleaned. Just let the garage staff know and they’ll take care of the cleaning.

Car Flat Tire Plug

Tire plugs are a temporary repair for tread punctures up to 1/4 inch in diameter according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), although plugs are often used as long term repairs.

Plugs are the subject of differing opinions; I called half-dozen tire shops and the recommendations were about evenly split between “we plug” and “we patch and plug”. All tire shops would patch and plug if requested. A typical plug repair quote was $14 compared to a patch-and-plug for $28. The “we plug” shops said plugs worked just fine and that’s what they recommend for most repairs.

I personally have never had a plug repair fail on a repair for a small puncture from a nail, screw and the like.

Plugs should not be used to repair damaged sidewalls. A plug shouldn’t be trusted on high speed performance tires; if you have an expensive performance tire have it professionally repaired.

Professional Flat Car Tire Repair

The best and safest decision is to have your tire professionally evaluated, repaired (or replaced) at a tire shop. Especially if you’ve driven with the tire low on air or flat. The sidewalls and/or tread might be damaged beyond repair, although it might look OK to the untrained eye.

This reminds me of the time I saw a woman driving a Jaguar Vanden Plas on the shoulder of the highway in Boca Raton, FL with a rear flat tire. Rather than stopping at the first sign of trouble, she kept driving long after the tire disintegrated and was running on the metal rim with sparks flying. The wheel rim is destroyed and rims are way more expensive to replace than a tire.

Emergency Roadside Assistance

There are many Roadside Assistance programs available, often from your auto insurance company, automobile manufacturer, or the American Automobile Association (AAA). I have an AAA Plus membership for my wife and myself that I paid $118/year – Google for AAA membership discounts. The AAA Plus membership features 100 mile towing – which will get me home 99% of the time – along with battery, free fuel, vehicle locksmith and flat tire service.

If my flat tire had happened on a rainy, muddy night stuck on the side of the road instead of inside a parking garage, I would’ve called AAA to put on the spare tire. When you’re back home, you can evaluate tire repair options at your leisure.

When to Plug Flat Car Tire

A car tire plug was suitable for my situation because:

  • The tire was not driven while flat and therefore has no sidewall damage.
  • The tire tread is in good shape with about 30% remaining tread depth/life.
  • The tire is not an expensive high performance tire.
  • The puncture is the tread.
  • The puncture is less 1/4 inch in diameter.
  • I already had the tire off the car, having put on the spare.
  • I’m acutely aware of how my car drives and know when things aren’t quite “right”.
  • I’ll do a quick visual check of the tire each time before I drive to see it’s not low air.
  • I understood my tire repair options and risks.

On the other hand, if this were my wife’s minivan, I’d have the tire patched and plugged by professional because she will blissfully drive so long as the engine starts. It’s not that she doesn’t care, she just isn’t “tuned in” to mechanical issues. More than once I’ve driven the minivan with her, and asked “How long has it been making that noise?” (squeaky break pads) or “Why didn’t you tell me about that vibration when braking?” (warped rotor) or “Do you notice it’s not tracking straight?” (wheels out of alignment). Her response is invariably “I don’t know” or “What are you talking about?”. Sigh.

How to Plug Flat Car Tire

Plugging a car tire is simple, quick and I’ve had excellent experiences with tire plugs on the handful of occasions that I’ve run over a nail or screw, with the plug lasting the life of the tire. I bought a Victor Tire Repair Kit for about $6 at auto parts as shown here.

How to Plug a Flat Car Tire: Victor Tire Plug Repair Kit

The metal object is pulled out with sturdy pair of needle nose pliers. It took several attempts to get a grip and pull it out, little by little.

Fix a Flat Car Tire: Remove the Metal Object with Needle Nose Pliers

Wow! How long is this thing?! The car tire puncture was caused by a metal tube over 3 inches long!

Fix a Flat Car Tire: Metal Tube Puncture

A 3/16 inch diameter by over 3-1/2 inch long metal tube punctured the car tire! The metal tube is surprisingly strong, I couldn’t bend it with two hands, and it smelled strongly like brake fluid. It appears to have fallen off a car or piece of machinery.

How to Plug a Flat Car Tire: Metal Tube Puncture Extracted from Tire

This repair is continued in How to Plug a Flat Car Tire – Part 2.

Thanks for reading,

Bob Jackson

Car Waxing Temperature: When Is the Best Time to Wax Your Car?

Car waxing is more commonly done in the summer, given the more comfortable setting, but waxing in winter is recommended.

Car Waxing

The most common time to begin car waxing is during the summer months. People emerge from the cold of winter, and think that their car looks rather drab beside the flowers. But winter can be tough on some cars, and giving them a good wax during this period can really help to give them a new lease of life. However, waxing during the cold weather can be difficult, particularly if you have an older car, or are using a good quality car wax. Knowing the right temperature to wax your car will help to keep the vehicle shiny and looking brand new.

Waxing during Summer
Car waxing often takes place during the summer months, when there is more daylight available, and you have more time to spend outside in the sun. Waxing during dry weather is important, as unless you are using a high-quality paste, the wax needs time to dry out before it is fully able to protect the car. If you wax your car during the summer, there are some temperatures you should avoid. Any day above 80 degrees will not be a good day to try and wax your car. Try not to place your car in direct sunlight while waxing, and avoid intense heat. The best time of day to wax the car during summer is definitely in the evening, so that the car has several hours of darkness to fully dry before being exposed to the mid-day sun.

Waxing during Winter
You should probably apply more wax during the winter time. It is a good idea to apply a full coat of wax before the very beginning of winter, as this will help to protect your car from early frosts. You should also wax during dry periods before snow or rain showers, in order to protect your car from moisture and cold. Car wax should ideally be applied when the temperature is between 60 and 80 degrees, but wax will still be liquid at around 50 degrees, and can be put onto the car. Before waxing, do a little bit of car detailing to make sure the surface is completely clean, and then spread the wax over in small, quick circles. Once you have added the wax to the car, try and place it in some sunlight, or near a heat source.

Now is a good time to practice your car buffing technique, as you need to move the wax around the body of the car, keeping it warm through the movement you are creating. During the cold spell, your car wax will not dry as normal, so allow a few more hours for the wax to fully dry before you use your car.

Related Questions and Answers

Will a Car Wax Buffer Take out Small Scratches?

A car wax buffer is a machine that spins a buffer pad in an orbital pattern and is used for applying and removing paint care compounds such as polish, rubbing compound and wax. Small scratches in your paint’s surface can be easily and quickly removed using a car wax buffer using a polish or rubbing compound. However, extreme care must be used when using one of these machines because the increased pressure and speed of motion these machines allow and produce can easily ruin the paint on your car. If you’re unfamiliar with the proper method of using a buffer, you should practice on an area that isn’t conspicuous and use very minimal pressure.

Will Clear Coat Wax Give a Better Shine?

You’ve seen advertisements for clear coat wax. This is a type of wax that is especially designed for use on paint jobs that are sealed with a clear coat. This type of wax product can deliver a deep and lustrous shine to your car’s clear coat sealed paint. Traditional paste waxes were originally formulated using Brazilian Carnauba wax. This wax actually distorts the color of finishes it is applied to. Clear coat wax is specially formulated to be perfectly clear and not distort your car’s underlying paint color. Carnauba based waxes may cause a warmer shine and luster to come from your paint job, but clear coat waxes will allow the real color to shine through.

Do I Have to Use a Specific Car Wax for Black Cars?

You want to know if there is a special type of car wax for black cars. Specifically, you’re curious whether you should use a carnauba, a synthetic or a black color-matched wax on your black color. Black colored wax is great to use if your black painted car has fine swirls or scratches in it, because the pigment in the wax will fill the swirls and/or scratches. If there are no imperfections in your car’s paint, then what type of wax you use will depend on what you’re more comfortable with, and even how much time you have to detail your car. If you have plenty of time, a carnauba wax will give a warm luster to your car. If you’re in a hurry, a synthetic spray on wax will go on and wipe off quickly.

Car Wax vs. Polish: Are they the Same?

The car wax vs. polish argument has been going on for a number of years and can lead to a great deal of confusion. Car wax is used when there are no imperfections in your car’s paint finish to bring out a warm and brilliant luster. Buffed properly, a good quality carnauba based wax will give your car’s paint that perfect “wet look” everyone looks for. Polish is a combination of a very light rubbing compound and a wax mixed into a single product. If your car has fine swirls, tiny scratches or water spots, using a polish after washing will erase those imperfections.

3 Hot Tips for Keeping Your Car Cool

Find out how the greenhouse effect heats your car’s interior and get 3 simple tips for keeping your car cool.

Keeping your car cool image
If you’ve ever had to park in the sun on a scorching summer afternoon, you’ve probably also dreaded getting back inside the hellishly hot vehicle. Keeping your car cool in the middle of August is never easy, but we’ve got some tips to help.

Research shows that a car’s interior temperature rises about 19º Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes. After an hour or 2, the interior can be 40º to 50º hotter(!) than the outside temperature. So if you’re parked in 100-degree heat, your car’s interior could reach 150º in just an hour, and the dashboard and seats could be as hot as an oven on low (about 200º, enough to bake cookies).

Why do car interiors get so hot?

Sunlight enters your car through its windows in the form of short-wave energy and is absorbed by the interior. The interior then radiates this energy back in the form of long-wave infrared radiation. And while sunlight can easily pass through glass, infrared light cannot escape through the windows. The trapped energy (heat) then causes your car’s interior temperature to rise. Thus, a parked car offers a great example of the greenhouse effect at work.

The science behind this proves the common-sense theory that shade — any kind of shade — is your best bet for keeping your car cool in the summer.

  • Park in the shade. Obvious, yes, but it works. By limiting the amount of direct sunlight your car gets, you’ll minimize the heat buildup inside. Plus, you’ll save your car’s interior from sun and heat damage.
  • Get shades for your car. Car shades will work in a pinch to keep your car cooler when you can’t find an inch of shade. According to a study by the Florida Energy Center, conventional car shades can reduce the interior temperature of a vehicle by 15º and the dashboard temp by 40º. And radiant barrier system car shades — the foil-faced, reflective kind — can cool your car even more because they actually reflect the sun’s heat instead of absorbing it.
  • Tint your windows. Because window tints either absorb or reflect UV light, they help keep your car cool (and your interior from fading). Just keep in mind that the laws regarding window tinting vary by state. Check with your local DMV before tinting your windows to make sure you’re complying with local safety laws.

Aside from these basic tricks, there aren’t any surefire high-tech ways to keep your car’s interior from baking. Aftermarket solar-powered fans and vents are available, but their effectiveness is hotly debated.

And, contrary to popular belief, research shows that “cracking” the windows does little to cool your car’s interior. Your car’s interior and exterior colors do the most to determine its interior temp.

The top 10 largest automakers in the world

The auto industry enjoyed a record year in 2013, but Toyota continued to hold off all contenders for the overall sales crown


If you think the automobile as we know it is going away anytime soon, think again. 2013 marked the first year ever new vehicle sales around the world topped 84 million. Led by China, with more than 21 million new vehicles registered there last year, total new cars and trucks sold annually worldwide was up more than 4% from 2012 for a fourth consecutive record-breaking year. Based on last year’s numbers, here are the 10 largest automakers in the world.

Also check out: 10 cars that get us really excited for 2014
10 cars getting canned for 2014

10th place: BMW Group

2014 BMW 3 Series

2014 BMW 3 Series
Handout, BMW

Including all-time annual sales records for its BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, Germany’s BMW Group was the best-selling luxury automaker in the world in 2013, with sales up from 2012 by more than 6% to over 1.9 million vehicles sold for all three of its auto brands. With almost 350,000 copies sold last year, the BMW 3 Series was the BMW Group’s bestseller in 2013.

9th place: PSA Peugeot Citroen

A model poses in front of the new Citroen C4 Cactus during the media day of the 84th Geneva International Motor Show.

A model poses in front of the new Citroen C4 Cactus during the media day of the 84th Geneva International Motor Show.
Laurent Cipriani, AP Photo

While eight of the 10 bestselling automakers in 2013 saw sales rise, France’s PSA Peugeot saw its sales fall last year, down almost 5% to over 2.8 million units sold globally. The slowly recovering European economy has caused the French automaker to look to foreign markets for sales, which accounted for more than 42% of the total in 2013, up 18 points compared to 2009, and led by a 26% rise in sales in China.

8th place: Honda Motor

2014 Honda CR-V Touring

2014 Honda CR-V Touring
Jodi Lai, Driving

The first of Japan’s “Big Three” — that includes Nissan and Toyota — to make the top 10, Honda Motor Company saw its global sales in 2013 jump by over 7%, to more than 4 million new cars and trucks sold. The Japanese automaker’s largest market continues to be the United States, with more than 1.5 million Honda and Acura brand models sold there in 2013 — the second-best result in the automaker’s history. Worldwide, the Honda CR-V compact crossover was Honda Motor’s bestseller.

7th place: Fiat-Chrysler

The Dodge Journey Crossroads brings mostly cosmetic changes.

The Dodge Journey Crossroads brings mostly cosmetic changes.
Handout, Chrysler

The official merger of Italy’s Fiat and America’s Chrysler combined for sales of more than 4.3 million new cars and trucks in 2013, making the partnership the seventh-largest automaker in the world last year. While that’s up 3.6% over 2012, much of the growth came from Chrysler’s 14% increase in U.S. sales, driven by its popular Ram and Jeep brands. In 2013, Chrysler (including Dodge, Jeep, and SRT brands) sold 2.6 million vehicles, while Fiat sold more than 1.7 million worldwide.

6th place: Ford Motor

2014 Ford Focus Titanium

2014 Ford Focus Titanium
Handout, Ford

America’s Ford Motor Company saw its global sales increase over 11% to more than 6.3 million new cars and trucks sold in 2013. With more than 3 million Ford and Lincoln brand vehicles moved, North America continues to be Ford Motor’s biggest market. While the F Series pickup is Ford’s biggest seller in Canada and the U.S., worldwide, the compact Focus was the world’s most popular nameplate in 2013. With sales of more than 1 million copies worldwide, it beat out the second-place Toyota Corolla.

5th place: Hyundai-Kia

The 2014 Hyundai Elantra GT GLS still looks great, and is practical as always. But it now has the sport cred to boot. And that's a win-win.

The 2014 Hyundai Elantra GT GLS still looks great, and is practical as always. But it now has the sport cred to boot. And that’s a win-win.
Handout, Hyundai

Don’t be shocked that Hyundai-Kia outsold Ford Motor last year. Even with its lowest annual sales growth since 2003, the Korean automaker sold more than 7.5 million new cars and trucks in 2013, and is expected to push near 8 million units for 2014. Last year, the automaker’s top-selling model was its compact Elantra/Avanti. With sales of more than 866,000 copies, it was the fourth best-selling nameplate on the planet.

4th place: Nissan-Renault Group

2013 Nissan Pathfinder

2013 Nissan Pathfinder
Tim Yip, Driving

The French-Japanese alliance between Renault and Nissan combined for more than 8.2 million new cars and trucks sold globally in 2013, split between 5.1 million for its Nissan brand, 2.6 million for Renault/Dacia/Samsung and 530,000 for its Lada brand. Much of those sales came from China, where Nissan leads all Japanese automakers, selling a record of over 1.2 million vehicles in 2013, a gain of more than 17% from 2012.

3rd place: Volkswagen Group

The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Edition 30 gets a spring cleaning after being on the roads of Eastern Canada, a part of the country which unfortunately has not yet received its spring cleaning.

The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Edition 30 gets a spring cleaning after being on the roads of Eastern Canada, a part of the country which unfortunately has not yet received its spring cleaning.
Source: Garry Sowerby,

With 9.7 million new cars and trucks sold in 2013, Germany’s Volkswagen Group (that includes a host of brands, like Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche in Canada) is well on its way to its goal of surpassing GM and Toyota as the world’s largest automaker by 2018. VW Group sales in China — the automaker’s biggest market — rose more than 16% in 2013, to over 3.2 million units. With sales of more than 900,000 copies last year, the VW brand’s Jetta/Bora/Vento compact was the German automaker’s best-selling nameplate.

2nd place: General Motors

The diesel engine powering the Cruze is a modern clean-burning unit, which achieves notably good fuel-economy.

The diesel engine powering the Cruze is a modern clean-burning unit, which achieves notably good fuel-economy.
Rob Rothwell, Driving

No longer the largest automaker in the world, America’s General Motors ranked just ahead of the VW Group and second behind Toyota Motor last year in global sales with 9.71 million new cars and trucks sold. GM’s best-selling brand last year was Chevrolet, with sales just under 5 million units. GM’s top-selling nameplate worldwide was its Chevrolet Cruze. With sales of more than 729,000 copies in 2013, the Chevy compact was the fifth best-selling car globally.

1st place: Toyota Motor

2014 Toyota Corolla S.

2014 Toyota Corolla S.
Nick Tragianis, Driving

After losing the title of “world’s largest automaker” in 2011, Japan’s Toyota Motor (including its Lexus and Scion brands in Canada), took the number one spot for the second year in a row in 2013, with sales of 9.98 million new cars and trucks, a gain of almost 3% over 2012. Although it lost out to the Ford Focus for the title of “world’s best-selling car”, the Toyota Corolla was the Japanese automaker’s best-selling model worldwide last year.

Toyota Testifies Before Congress on Connected-Car Technology

Nov. 15, 2013—The House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology heard testimony on Wednesday concerning dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) technology.

DSCRC allows vehicles to communicate with each other and other roadside infrastructure to notify drivers of potential hazards.

John Kenney, principal researcher at Toyota InfoTechnology Center in Silicon Valley, discussed the opportunities and challenges associated with DSRC with the committee.

“Toyota recognizes and fully appreciates the need to find new and innovative ways to maximize the effective use of the limited spectrum that is available,” Kenney said according to reports.

He also warned that sharing the technology too early can jeopardize its potential.

“We are not conceptually opposed to sharing the 5.9 GHz spectrum with unlicensed devices,” Kenney said. “However, we also believe that the creation of a sharing framework, or the implementation of sharing rules, should not occur unless and until a viable spectrum sharing technology is identified and testing verifies that there is no harmful interference.”

Kenney warned that if the technology is pushed forward and results in delayed or missed driver warnings, it makes the technology essentially useless moving forward.

“Toyota is committed to helping validate a technical sharing solution once one has been identified. But we’re not there yet and it’s going to take a bit more time to see if we can get there,” Kenney said.

How Safe Are Air Bags?

Automobile airbags have been a critical advance in driver and passenger safety, but they can cause injury or even death if not used properly.

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates air bags saved more than 1,040 lives in 1998. However, there were almost 100 children killed by air bags during the same year. These deaths were because of children sitting in the front seat, being improperly fastened by seat belts, or not wearing seat belts at all.

Kids in the Back

The first rule for safe vehicle airbags is that frontal systems are not designed for youngsters. Frontal airbags can be dangerous or even fatal to the following:

  • Infants or babies in backward-facing child seats.
  • Small children in forward-facing child seats.
  • Older children belted only by the waist-belt, but not the shoulder belt.
  • Any child who is below the weight limit for the front seat and belt without a booster seat, which is typically about 12 years old.

Safety experts indicate the safest place for a child in a vehicle is in the back seat, fastened in a properly-fitted child car seat suited for the child’s weight. Side or so-called curtain airbags are safe for children riding in the back. Parents and caregivers can seek assistance to properly fit and fasten their child seat at free clinics offered by firefighters, law-enforcement, or other organizations.

Even without airbags, the back seat of a vehicle is the safest place for a child to ride. As vehicles increasingly include frontal airbags, it is becoming more important to remember that children should be in the back seat at all times.

Bags Mean Belts

Air bag safety requires that all vehicle occupants be properly seated and wearing their seat belts. This means riders should be sitting upright with both feet on the ground. Both the lap belt and shoulder belt should be firmly and properly in place.

Airbags can cushion riders from the impact of a crash, but they deploy at speeds as high as 200 miles per hour. For airbags to be effective rather than harmful, riders must be correctly wearing their seat belts at all times.

Proper Position

Safety experts also caution drivers and passengers from being too close to the dashboard when the airbags are deployed. It is best to move the driver seat back as far as possible, while maintaining access to the brake, accelerator, steering wheel, and other controls. This is especially important for shorter drivers because they are naturally closer to the dashboard, and the risk of injury from airbag deployment is greater.

Riders in the passenger seat should also put their seat back as far as possible without disrupting any passengers behind them. This is intended to give the airbag some distance to deploy.

Another important thing to remember, along with good posture and proper seat belt use, is for the driver to generally keep his or her hands at the “10 and 2” positions. Hands should be gripping the steering wheel on the upper half of the steering wheel on both the left and right.

Are They Safe?

Airbags work with sensors that deploy the safety devices when a vehicle suddenly slows or stops. The sensors deploy the airbags by sending an electrical charge to spark a chemical reaction that results in the inflation of the airbag with nitrogen gas, taking air in from vents in the back of the airbag. Airbags also typically have tethers to center them. The process may leave smoke from the reaction or powder that is used to keep the airbag from crumpling or sticking together.

Despite their overall safety benefits, airbags continue to be a somewhat controversial technology. Some safety officials report that individuals are sometimes injured by airbags that have deployed in a low-impact collision.

Conversely, there are also complaints that airbags do not always deploy when they should. This includes high-impact collisions where drivers and passengers are injured.

In the end, however, airbags have been proven to be safer than the alternative. Make airbags as effective as possible by keeping children in the back seat, always wearing your seatbelt, and adjusting your seat to the proper position. Then, enjoy the safe ride!