Archive for the Uncategorized Category

The Best Windshield Wipers for Your Car

Best Windshield Wipers

After researching wiper blades for more than 60 hours, scouring user reviews, talking to auto-service shops in such weather-challenged regions as Chicago, Illinois and Portland, Oregon, and testing top competitors on a handful of cars over the course of a year, we came to the conclusion that the best wiper blade is the one that fits your vehicle and performs well throughout its service life. Windshield shapes vary a lot, however, especially with newer cars, and even the best quality blade may perform poorly if it doesn’t fit (as is obvious from the number of negative reviews you’ll find for just about any popular wiper). But so long as it fits your car, our findings show that the Bosch Icon is a good bet for most drivers. Bosch wiper blades are recommended by the shops we interviewed more than any other brand, and the Icon is consistently among the highest-rated models by users on websites that sell a wide range of wipers. It’s earned the highest ratings of any top-selling blade on Amazon with relatively few complaints. We think you’re more likely to be happy with it, too.

Last Updated: April 8, 2016

Although our testing and research has shown that no wiper works well on all windshields, a deeper dive into user ratings, supported by interviews with auto-service shops, has shown that the Bosch Icon works well for most people and has relatively few negative reviews compared with other top wipers. The Icon, which was redesigned last year, is a beam-style wiper that costs a reasonable sum, fits a wide range of models, and performs well in all weather conditions.

Expand Most Recent Updates

Our pick

Bosch Icon

This beam-blade wiper is a solid choice for any climate and is consistently among the highest-rated wipers by users.

The Icon, which usually costs less than $20 per wiper on Amazon, is a beam-blade wiper that generally works better in snowy and icy conditions than traditional bracket-style wipers. It’s a great choice for year-round use in any climate. It’s among the top-rated wipers on the Amazon, Walmart, Advance Auto Parts, and JC Whitney websites. And among the more than 2,500 user ratings on Amazon, it has the best differential between five- and one-star ratings of any best-selling model, which is important to know since many users leave a one-star rating when a wiper doesn’t fit their car well. That means more people like them and fewer people have had problems with them. The bottom line? If you’ve found wipers that you’re happy with, you might want to continue using those, because you know they’ll work on your windshield. But if we were buying new wipers, we’d choose the Bosch Icon first. (In fact, we’ve now put Icons on some of our personal cars, so we’ll be able to give you a longterm update down the road.)


*At the time of publishing, the price was $16.

Rain-X Latitude

Our previous top pick is a beam-blade wiper that has performed well in our longterm tests and has gotten generally good ratings, though not as high as the Bosch Icon.

Our previous top pick, the Rain-X Latitude, is another solid choice that we’ve used a lot. It has a beam blade like the Bosch Icon and is similarly priced. And, because the Latitude was a top pick, it was one of two wiper models that we put through a longterm, one-year test on a number of cars. Overall, we found that if the Latitudes fit your windshield well, they’ll keep it clear of rain and snow and perform well throughout their life cycle, so you’ll probably love them. It’s no longer our top pick, however, because user reviews show that more people have had problems with the Latitude than the Bosch Icon. It’s also generally not rated as highly by users, and none of the shops we talked to mentioned the Latitude as a wiper they recommend to their customers.

Also great

Valeo 600

This traditional wiper performed well in our longterm test, was a top pick in a 2008 Consumer Reports wiper test, and has earned very good ratings on Amazon.
Also great

Rain-X Weatherbeater

This wiper is one of Amazon’s bestsellers and has gotten very good ratings. But, like all bracket-type wipers, it won’t perform as well in wintry conditions as a beam blade.

If you want to save a few bucks and don’t need the advantage of a beam blade in wintry conditions, the Valeo 600 and Rain-X Weatherbeater are generally safe bets for a traditional bracket-type wiper. The Valeo 600 is another wiper that we included in our long-term multi-car test, and, like the Rain-X Latitude, it performed solidly for most of our drivers. The Rain-X Weatherbeater is one of Amazon’s bestsellers, and both wipers have earned good user reviews on that site. Keep in mind, though, that if your car originally came with beam-blade wipers, you should replace them with that same type to make sure they fit right and provide the same performance—downgrading to bracket-type blades is not worth the savings.

Upgrade pick

PIAA Super Silicone

This traditional wiper comes highly recommended by both Amazon users and an auto service shop in rainy Portland, Oregon. It won’t perform as well in wintry conditions as a beam blade, though.

If you don’t mind spending a few extra bucks, PIAA silicone wipers come well recommended and are claimed to last. Travis Decker, of Atomic Auto Service in Portland, OR, told us that “PIAA Silicone are the best I have ever used.” He says they “last longer and are impregnated with silicone, so they leave a slight bit of water-repellent film on the windshield.” He admits, though, that they are pricey. (He typically recommends Bosch blades to his customers.) PIAA claims that the silicone blade will last “at least 2x longer than traditional blades.” And on Amazon, the bracket-type Super Silicone wiper gets an excellent 4.5-star overall rating with relatively few negative reviews. The user ratings for the PIAA beam-blade and hybrid models, which cost close to $30, are a little lower and feature a higher percentage of negative reviews.

Table of contents

Why you should trust us

Ed Grabianowski has been writing about the automotive industry for sites like since 2005. He’s written about million-dollar supercars and raced a $200 Saturn in the snow. He says, “I’m no master mechanic, but I handle basic maintenance and am slowly restoring a classic car (if you think finding wipers for your car is hard, try finding them for a 1963 Ford Thunderbird).”

Rik Paul was the automotive editor for Consumer Reports for 14 years, where he edited all of the publication’s auto accessory tests, including, yes, windshield wipers. Prior to that, he was the senior feature editor for Motor Trend for nine years, where he wrote a monthly column about car care and maintenance. He cut his teeth in the area of auto maintenance and repair by writing DIY repair manuals for Haynes Publications, rebuilding an engine that started out as pieces in a wooden crate, and coaxing several past-their-prime cars down the road with a ready toolbox and lots of TLC.

To help us figure out which wipers work best, we also talked to other automotive writers and experts, interviewed several auto-service shops (in Chicago and Portland, where wipers get lots of use), dove into user ratings on several websites, and ran a yearlong test on two top blades, using them on a variety of cars until they wore out.

When to replace your wiper blades

Wipers should smoothly clear water, snow, and slush from your windshield with no squeaking, chattering, skipping, or grabbing. If you notice these signs, or if a wiper is leaving streaks or bands of water, it may be time for new ones. In its testing, Consumer Reports found that a wiper will typically provide good performance for about nine months to a year, although this can vary, depending on conditions and the composition of the “rubber” element. As CR wrote, “Wiper blades have a finite service life, as they perform a hazardous duty in harsh conditions. Dirt, debris, and road grime abrade wipers, and sunlight breaks down their rubber edges.” Sure, wipers see a lot of action in wetter and snowier areas, but even in the southwest, where you can go months without rain, they can degrade quickly. The constant heat, dryness, and sunlight can deteriorate the rubber element; we’ve even seen long-unused wipers that had to be peeled off of the windshield glass. So, in those conditions, it’s good to run your wipers about once a week while spraying the windshield with washer fluid.

When we asked representatives from several service shops about problems they’d seen caused by worn, neglected wipers, the answers were both similar and convincing. “I personally have seen people wait so long that the blade becomes old and brittle, and it damages the window,” says Joe Betancourt Jr., VP of Joe’s Expert Auto in Chicago. “In some cases, the blade comes off with the backing and the arm will gouge the glass, causing an expensive and unneeded repair.”

Pete McAdoo, of Honest-1 Auto Care in Portland, agrees, “I’ve seen them come off, come apart to where they scratch the glass. And now they have an etching of the sweep of the wiper on the glass.” McAdoo has also seen disintegrated wipers get hung up on something and damage the wiper motor: over a prolonged period of time, even a wiper that’s chattering and dragging on the windshield “puts stress on the motor and linkage,” which can shorten their service life. “Change them on a regular basis,” he advices. Travis Decker, of Portland’s Atomic Auto Service, agrees: “Wipers are cheap insurance” against more costly repairs.

If you notice your wipers having problems, first try cleaning the rubber blade. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get a few more weeks or months from your existing wipers. Dip a clean paper towel or cloth in a little water, washer fluid, or rubbing alcohol and wipe along the edge of the blade. Also, look at it closely and feel for any adhered debris or roughness. The edge should be sharp and smooth without any nicks, chips, or gaps, and the rubber should be pliable, not cracked or brittle.

In the winter, thoroughly scrape ice off of the windshield before using the wipers, as ice can abrade the rubber and dull or damage the edge.

Geoff Helzer, of Portland’s Green Drop Garage, says that another common problem he’s seen is a film that builds up on the windshield from oily, greasy road-grime spray. “The film can be removed by using a windshield stripper product that does a deep clean of the windshield surface,” he says. It requires some elbow grease, but “has proven to be very effective in returning the glass to a like-new condition.”

If cleaning doesn’t help the wipers, it’s time for new ones. And always replace them in pairs, because if one wears out, the other won’t be far behind.

Replace both wipers. Once one blade wears out, the other won’t be far behind.

While a lot of people wait for these problem signs to appear before buying new wipers, it’s better to be proactive and replace them before you need to. Not being able to see clearly in a sudden downpour or heavy snow or ice storm can be a real drag, not to mention dangerous. And then there’s that “cheap insurance” thing, too—it’s better to replace them before they wear to the point where they can cause damage to the car.

So, how often should you replace your wipers? Wiper manufacturers and a couple of the shops we talked to suggest replacing them every six months. But once per year may be a reasonable interval for you. In an online poll we conducted, about a quarter of respondents said they replace their wipers about every nine to 12 months, while about a fifth said every 12 to 18 months. Almost as many—18 percent—agreed that we summed up their thinking on the issue with the question, “Wait. Wiper blades don’t last forever?”

Travis Decker, of Atomic Auto Service, recommends to replace them as needed, but that depends on the climate. “Here, in Oregon, I suggest every fall.” Joe Betancourt, of Joe’s Expert Auto, says, “In areas like where we are (Chicago), I recommend every 3 to 4 months during the winter season, due to icing on the windshield.”

If you have a tough time remembering to get new blades, tie the task to another regular event; I generally replace mine when I get my yearly car inspection done. The windshield wiper industry has tried to co-opt Groundhog Day as national “replace your wipers day,” so you can also use that if it works for you.

Types of wiper blades

There are several types of wiper blades available for today’s cars, including traditional bracket blades, low-profile beam blades, and newer hybrid blades that combine those designs. Each has its own advantages, and the one that’s best for you depends on your vehicle, your budget, and your local climate.

windshield wipers, bracket wiper

Bracket-type wipers use a metal frame that presses the blade against the windshield at several contact points. The exposed frame can collect snow and ice in the winter, affecting their performance. Photo: Rik Paul

The older-style brackets, which use a framework with multiple contact points to press the blade to the windshield, are typically the least expensive, but they’re more vulnerable to wintry conditions. The metal framework allows snow and ice to collect during winter driving. That buildup can bind the wiper and cause smearing, streaking, or a complete failure to clear the windshield. If you drove cars before beam blades became popular, you might have had to open your window while driving and reach out to “snap” the wiper against the windshield to clear away the ice buildup. So-called “winter” blades are designed to prevent this; they’re basically a bracket blade with a big rubber boot that covers the metal framework to keep the ice out. But winter wipers have all but disappeared since the introduction of beam blades.

windshield wipers, beam blade

Beam-blade wipers, integrate the blade into a single curved strip of metal. That sleeker design prevents snow and ice from building up for better performance in wintry conditions. Photo: Rik Paul

Beam blades generally work better than bracket-style blades in wintry conditions.

Beam blades, which use a single curved piece of metal within the blade to provide tension and contact, generally work better than bracket-style blades in wintry conditions. That’s because their sleek design doesn’t give snow and ice anything to build up on. They can cost a few dollars more than bracket-type wipers, however. Some of the manufacturers and experts we consulted told us that the design of beam blades gives them better performance and greater durability than bracket blades because they spread the force evenly along the length of the blade instead of at the contact points where the brackets attach.

Geoff Helzer, of the Green Drop Garage, says, “We have found the beam-type blades maintain better contact with the windshield and produce less chatter during lower temperatures.”

Luke Perkowski, former senior product manager with Bosch, told us “The pressure distribution is also better on a beam blade. With a bracket, the load path travels through the frame to the claws that connect to the blade. There’s more pressure at the claws, which accelerates wear. We can also engineer beams more precisely, to create the best curvature for the radius of the windshield, which allows for consistent wear and even pressure.” That sounds great if the blades fit your car, but, again, different windshields have different curvatures.

In terms of durability, however, neither our longterm testing or Consumer Reports tests showed significant difference between beam and bracket blades.

windshield wipers, hybrid blade

By covering the metal framework with a flexible shell, hybrid blades help give bracket-type wipers the same wintry benefits of a beam-blade wiper. Photo: Rik Paul

Hybrid blades, which have become more popular in recent years, have a similar construction as bracket blades, but with an outer shell that helps give them a lower-profile, more aerodynamic shape. This helps give them similar resistance to snow and ice buildup as beam blades.

If your vehicle originally came with bracket blades, you can typically upgrade to beam-blade or hybrid replacements. If your car originally came with beam blades, however, you should replace them with the same type to make sure they fit right and provide the same performance.

How we picked

windshield wipers

“Honestly, if they are being changed twice a year, almost any brand will be sufficient,” says Geoff Helzer of the Green Drop Garage in Portland. Of course, that’s only if they fit your windshield well. Photo: Ed Grabianowski

We came to our conclusions through a rather circuitous route. Our initial look at wiper blades, which was published about three years ago, was based heavily on Consumer Reports’s last serious wiper-blade test, which was conducted in 2008 and is no longer available on its website. CR conducted an extensive yearlong test of 13 different wiper models, with the Valeo 600 and Rain-X Latitude finishing first and second. Because the Latitude is a beam blade, with its inherent advantages in wintry conditions, we chose it as our original top pick.

As great as the Consumer Reports data is, it’s eight years old now, and due to the difficulty of repeating the process, CR has no plans to tackle the topic again. Windshield wiper manufacturers change their designs and rubber formulations frequently—certainly more frequently than every eight years. So, we can’t necessarily draw any meaningful conclusions from the Consumer Reports test results at this point.

Using the wipers until they wore out and had to be replaced, our testers recorded their performance every three months and noted how long each set lasted (which averaged from nine to 12 months). But in the end, neither stood out as a clear winner.

To get more data, we ran our own longterm test of the Latitude and Valeo 600 over the course of 2013 and 2014. Using the wipers until they wore out and had to be replaced, our testers recorded the wipers’ performance every three months and noted how long each set of wipers lasted (which averaged from nine to 12 months). But, while both blades performed well for most drivers, neither stood out as a clear winner; some testers had great results with Rain-X; others preferred the Valeo.

We then turned to a materials scientist from a rubber manufacturer who analyzed the different compounds that top-rated wiper blades were made from. We had hoped that would reveal notable differences, but it turns out that most wipers use a similar composition—EPDM rubber—and overall we saw no clear pattern to suggest that one variation on this material consistently outperforms any other.

All of this led us to three insights: There are no recent tests of wiper blades that are a reliable barometer; it’s very difficult to get hard data on wiper performance; and, as long as wipers fit the windshield and can handle wintry conditions, there doesn’t seem to be a great gap in performance between most wipers in the early months of use. In fact, Geoff Helzer, of Portland’s Green Drop Garage, said, “Honestly, if they are being changed twice a year, almost any brand will be sufficient.” (Of course, we know that most people don’t change them that often; only 16 percent of our survey respondents reported changing wipers every six to nine months.)

So, for our latest update, we started from scratch. Our conundrum is that no wiper works well on every vehicle, but drivers still want guidance on what to buy. So, we reasoned that the best way to identify wipers that are best for most people is to see which models draw the most positive—and the least negative—feedback from users and professionals. We interviewed representatives from several auto-service shops in such weather-challenged areas as Chicago, Illinois and Portland, Oregon (which averages more than 150 rainy days per year). We also reviewed user ratings on a number of websites that sell wipers, noting which models tend to show up at the top. And finally we took a deep dive into the ratings for the top 60 best-selling wipers on Amazon. Here, because of the high number of user reviews, we could look beyond the overall ratings to see each wiper’s percentage of five- and one-star ratings and the differential between the two. We’ve found that when a driver buys a wiper that doesn’t fit his car’s windshield—leaving streaks or bands of unwiped water—he or she generally gives it a one-star rating. So that is a good indication of how many cars a particular wiper doesn’t fit well. So, the larger the differential between five- and one-star ratings, the more people were happy and the fewer people were unhappy. And we figured that means it’s more likely that you’ll be happy with the wiper as well.

Our pick

windshield wipers, bosch icon

Photo: Rik Paul

Our pick

Bosch Icon

This beam-blade wiper is a solid choice for any climate and is consistently among the highest-rated wipers by users.

While no wiper blade is right for every car, our research shows that the Bosch Icon is a good bet for most drivers. Sure, you could get a wiper that fits your car perfectly by paying a visit to your dealership and possibly paying more. But if you want to simply order online or pick wipers up in an auto-parts store or big-box retailer (as more than 80 percent of people who responded to our online wiper survey do), we’re convinced that the Icon is an easy choice for many people. The Icon is a beam-blade wiper that works better than traditional bracket wipers in wintry conditions, so it’s a good year-round performer. Among the four auto service shops we talked to in Chicago, Illinois and rainy Portland, Oregon, Bosch wipers are recommended by two of them. The Icon, which is Bosch’s top-of-the-line model, is consistently among the top-rated wipers on websites that sell a wide range of models, including Amazon, Walmart, Advance Auto Parts, and JC Whitney. And on Amazon, which has by far the most user ratings, the Icon not only gets the highest overall rating of any best-selling wiper; it’s earned the highest percentage of five-star ratings and the lowest percentage of one-star ratings, meaning the Icon is more likely to fit your car.

windshield wipers, bosch icon

Bosch reformulated the Icon’s rubber blade last year, using an exclusive compound it calls ClearMax 365. The company claims it resists cracking from ozone longer than other wipers. Photo: Rik Paul

When we first published this guide in 2013, the Icon was beat out by the Rain-X Latitude for our top pick. As we said, that pick was based largely on a 2008 Consumer Reports wiper test in which the Icon’s scores were average. But that test is now eight years old and the wiper market has changed a lot in that time. (Recognizing this, CR no longer has that test on its website.) Although the Icon has been around since 2005, Bosch reformulated its rubber element at the beginning of 2015, now using what it calls its “ClearMax 365” composition, a design that’s exclusive to the Icon. The company claims that internal testing shows this formula to resist cracking from ozone up to 40 percent longer than competitors. Because that’s a Bosch test, you can take it with a grain of salt (and ozone certainly isn’t the only thing that degrades wiper blades). But it’s a good example of how things are constantly evolving in this market.

What we can tell is that most users rate the Icon wipers highly. Our in-depth look at user reviews and ratings on Amazon, for example, revealed that the vast majority of people who bought the Bosch Icon wipers are very happy with them, more than with any other popular model. For most blade lengths, about 75 percent of users rated them with five stars while only 6-8 percent gave them one star. (The Icon also occupies the most spots among the upper-tier best sellers.)

Bosch is also a trusted brand in this area. As one of the largest suppliers of auto parts, it provides original-equipment wipers to such companies as Ford, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Porsche, according to Autohaus AZ. Geoff Helzer of the Green Drop Garage in Portland, Oregon, says that his shop tends to use Bosch wiper blades on their customers’ vehicles. Similarly, Travis Decker, of Portland’s Atomic Auto Service, told us that they typically recommend Bosch Evolution wipers, a beam blade that’s one step down from the Icon in Bosch’s lineup. He added that they used to sell the Icons, but that “the Evolution seems to be a very similar product” at a little lower price. (When we checked, the Evolution was a couple dollars less than the Icon on Amazon for similar sizes.) The only other brands recommended by the shops we talked to were PIAA and Denso, which supplies original-equipment wipers to several automakers and isn’t available through many retailers.

Is the Icon a sure bet? No. A small percentage of users have been disappointed, often because it didn’t fit the contour of their windshield well or didn’t attach to the wiper arm correctly. In fact, we experienced this latter problem when we bought Icons for a 2013 Jetta Hybrid and found that the connectors for the 24OE and 19OE versions, which are claimed to fit that model, aren’t really compatible due to an apparent design flaw. This discovery is backed up by a number of negative reviews on Amazon for those versions from other late-model Volkswagen Jetta owners. We were left with the choice of either returning them or removing a couple small plastic protrusions on the connector to make them fit. We went with the latter option, which took about 15 minutes per wiper with a drill and small grinder attachment; though not the most elegant solution, it worked. S0 now we can use the Jetta to get some long-term experience with the Icon, but this approach may not be for most people.


*At the time of publishing, the price was $16.

Rain-X Latitude

Our previous top pick is a beam-blade wiper that has performed well in our longterm tests and has gotten generally good ratings, though not as high as the Bosch Icon.

When we first published this guide in 2013, we chose the Rain-X Latitude as our top pick mainly because it was the best performing beam-blade wiper in a Consumer Reports 2008 test. And after running it on a number of cars over the course of a year, we found it worked well for most of our drivers (although not definitively better than the Valeo 600 bracket-type blade that was also in our test). Overall, though, it doesn’t fare as well in user reviews as the Bosch Icon, and more people have complained that it doesn’t fit their windshield well.

In our longterm test, only one of eight drivers had problems with the Latitude from the start (on a 2004 Chevrolet Impala). And while the Latitude is a bestseller on Amazon and is generally rated highly, it’s garnered more negative reviews than the Icon, with many people complaining about the fit. In our latest analysis, most of the approximately 2,000 users—about 55 percent—gave the Latitude a strong five-star rating. But it also garnered many more one-star ratings than the Icon (15 percent for the Latitude versus only 6 to 8 percent for the Icon).

On other websites we looked at, the Latitude doesn’t show up among the higher-rated models as often as the Icon, and none of the service shops we interviewed mentioned they recommend it to their customers. So, while our experience has been pretty positive overall, we decided not to name it our top pick this time around.

Last year, Rain-X introduced a new version, called the Latitude Water Repellency wiper, which is claimed to leave a thin layer of Rain-X water-repelling treatment on the windshield to help water flow off more easily. We don’t have enough personal experience with it yet to say how it works, and while they’re getting mostly positive user ratings on Amazon, a few people have complained that the wipers left a haze or smeared their windshield. In separate testing, however, we’ve found the Rain-X repellent itself effective but short-lived.

Also great

Valeo 600

This traditional wiper performed well in our longterm test, was a top pick in a 2008 Consumer Reports wiper test, and has earned very good ratings on Amazon.
Also great

Rain-X Weatherbeater

This wiper is one of Amazon’s bestsellers and has gotten very good ratings. But, like all bracket-type wipers, it won’t perform as well in wintry conditions as a beam blade.

If your car originally came with traditional bracket-type wipers and you don’t need the extra insurance that beam blades provide in snowy and icy conditions, you can save a few bucks by sticking with a bracket wiper. The Valeo 600 is one we can personally vouch for, as it was one of the two wipers (with the Rain-X Latitude) that we used in our longterm, multi-car test. The Rain-X Weatherbeater is another bestseller on Amazon that has gotten high ratings. It’s also among the higher-rated wipers on Advance Auto Parts’ website.

In our long-term testing, the Valeo 600 received high scores from most drivers; an exception was one with a 2010 Ford Edge, who gave it only a six out of 10. We chose it for that test because it ranked first in a 2008 Consumer Reports test of wipers (although the test didn’t include wintry conditions). And though yes, a lot has changed in the wipers market since then, Amazon users still rate it well; of the more than 1,000 users who weighed in, almost 65 percent gave it a five-star rating, while only about 10 percent rated it one star. That differential puts it solidly between the Bosch Icon and Rain-X Latitude in how well it works for most people.

The Rain-X Weatherbeater has garnered similarly good reviews as the Valeo 600. Of the more than 600 people who rated one of the more popular sizes on Amazon, more than 60 percent gave the Weatherbeater a five-star rating while less than 15 percent rated it with one star. Some Weatherbeater versions have also earned a high rating from users on Advance Auto Parts.

Upgrade pick

PIAA Super Silicone

This traditional wiper comes highly recommended by both Amazon users and an auto service shop in rainy Portland, Oregon. It won’t perform as well in wintry conditions as a beam blade, though.

PIAA Super Silicone wipers cost a few bucks more than most regular wipers, but they’re claimed to last longer and are backed up by high praise from both one of the shops we interviewed and Amazon users. When we asked Travis Decker of Portland’s Atomic Auto which wipers he recommends, he told us that “PIAA Silicone are the best I have ever used.” They “last longer and are impregnated with silicone, so they leave a slight bit of water-repellent film on the windshield.” He does admit that they’re pricey, though, which is one reason he typically recommends Bosch blades to his customers. PIAA claims that the silicone element will last “at least 2x longer than traditional blades.” We can’t comment on this until we have spent more time with them, but users are pretty enthusiastic, giving the bracket-type Super Silicone wiper an excellent 4.5 overall rating on Amazon, with a very high 75 percent of five-star ratings and a low 5 percent of one-stars. Unfortunately, the user ratings for the PIAA Si-Tech Silicone beam-blade and Aero Vogue Silicone hybrid models, which cost close to $30 each, are a little lower with a higher percentage of negative reviews (with those reviewers often complaining about a confusing or insecure attachment method, or streaking because of a poor fit with the windshield).

How to choose wipers

In our online poll, we asked people, “Is it hard to find wiper blades that fit your vehicle?” While 93 percent of the respondents said no, seven percent said yes. One person wrote that the clips often don’t match the arms on European models (a problem we experienced with our VW Jetta), but we were surprised to see owners of such models as the Honda Civic and Fit and the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty having problems, too.

Unfortunately, there’s often no surefire way to figure out which brand and model of wiper blade will give you the best fit until you’ve actually bought and tried to install them. So check the return policy and keep the receipt regardless of what you buy and where you buy it. If you’re having trouble finding a wiper that fits your windshield well, don’t fret; we have some best practices for finding something that will:

  1. Find the right size. Look in your owner’s manual to see what size wipers your car or truck uses. Often, it needs different sizes for the driver and passenger sides of the windshield. And if your vehicle has a rear wiper, it could need still a third size for that. Amazon and other websites that sell wipers will recommend wiper models and/or sizes if you input the model and year of your car, but we’ve found that the recommended versions can be incorrect now and then, so check your manual to be sure. The chances are that you’ll install the new wipers and be on your merry way. But if they can’t attach properly to the wiper arm or don’t fit well with your windshield, leaving unwiped bands or areas of water, what’s your next move?
  2. If you don’t mind possibly spending a little more money, you could get wipers through a dealership that would be direct replacements for the ones that originally came on your vehicle. These may not be the latest high-tech designs, but they should fit. Or give a call to the dealer’s parts department and ask which make and model wiper comes on that car. Then, you may be able to order it online through the normal channels.
  3. Check what’s working for others. Look for online forums for your make and model of vehicle and search for “wipers.” The forum users may have had this discussion already and come up with specific wiper recommendations. Or search online user reviews of wipers, using your make and model of car as the search terms. If users have had success or difficulty using particular wipers on your make and model, you’ll know whether to buy or avoid.
  4. Here’s another alternative. Several wiper manufacturers offer an “OEM” line of wipers that are claimed to be similar to the ones that came on the car. Trico Exact Fit and Rain-X Expert Fit are two examples. True, you have no guarantee those wipers will fit or attach properly, either. But at least, that’s what the manufacturers are aiming for.

Our bottom-line advice is to find a wiper that fits your car and replace it every year.

What about refilling existing blades?

Sometimes, you can save a few dollars by replacing only the rubber wiping element of your windshield wipers (known as a wiper refill or insert), and keeping the existing metal frame. This is an inexpensive way to refresh your wipers that many people have long championed. For most people, though, we don’t recommend doing this because of the drawbacks. First, you need to remember the exact type of wiper that’s on your car so that you can get the correct replacement element. In addition, “It’s becoming harder to find replacement inserts,” says Consumer Reports, adding, “installing them requires deft use of needle-nose pliers. Experience shows that replacing an insert can be a frustrating task whose grief simply isn’t worth the money savings.” In addition, the wiping element isn’t the only thing that wears out, especially with traditional bracket-style wipers.

windshield wipers

On some wiper blades, you could replace the rubber strip with a new one. But we don’t recommend this approach because the other parts of the blade also wear down over time. Photo: Ed Grabianowski

The wiper’s framework and connections are also subject to wear, and they can get bound up or loose, causing the wipers to rattle, to skip, or to lose contact with the windshield. Former Popular Mechanics autos editor Mike Allen wrote about wipers in 2005, saying, “But by the time you need [wiper refills], the articulated arm itself is probably in bad shape, too. If it’s sticking, the blade won’t conform to the shape of the glass, leaving you with streaks or unwiped areas. Spring for a complete wiper blade.”

As we heard from all of the shops we interviewed, worn wiper arms can come loose or break, marring the windshield or damaging the wiper linkage or motor. That said, if you’re handy with auto parts, know what to look for when inspecting wipers, have some patience, and can find the right inserts, installing them remains a money-saving option.

Wrapping it up

While no wiper will perform well on every car’s windshield, in our research the Bosch Icon beam-style wiper is a good choice for most drivers. It’s consistently among the higher-rated wipers on retailer websites. And on Amazon, it gets a higher percentage of top ratings and a lower percentage of bottom ratings from users than any other popular model. In other words, more people love it, fewer people hate it. And that means there’s a higher chance that it will work for you. Its beam design means it will work in snowy and icy conditions better than a traditional bracket-style wiper. And it’s reasonably priced and is available for a wide range of vehicles. If you want even less risk in finding a wiper that fits, and don’t mind perhaps spending a little more, your dealership should be able to sell you direct replacements for the wipers that came on your car.

Bosch Icon

Best Windshield Wipers for Your Car

We do our best to stay on top of prices.
If something’s changed, let us know

GM buys Cruise Automation in a bid for autonomous driving

GM buys Cruise Automation in a bid for autonomous driving

GM buys Cruise Automation in a bid for autonomous driving

As it plunged toward bankruptcy in 2009, General Motors Co. was slammed for its reluctance to change.

Now, with the auto industry speeding toward a point where cars drive themselves, the automaker is trying to get ahead of the curve.

On Friday, GM said it acquired Cruise Automation, a 40-person software company in San Francisco that has been developing autonomous-vehicle technology.

GM plans to use Cruise technology to gave autonomous capability to its vehicles, though probably not in existing models.

The deal marks Detroit’s latest foray into Silicon Valley.

Also Friday, Ford Motor Co. announced the creation of Ford Smart Mobility, a subsidiary focused on designing, building and investing in such things as connected vehicles and autonomous technology.

Two months ago, GM bought the assets of Sidecar Technologies Inc., a San Francisco ride-hailing company, and invested $500 million in the ride-sharing service Lyft. GM and Lyft plan to collaborate on a service that will allow users to reserve a self-driving car.

Founded in 2013, Cruise Automation is best known for its software that gave autopilot capabilities to conventional cars, said Kyle Vogt, company founder and chief executive. About a year and a half ago, the company switched its focus to fully driverless technology.

Cruise said it is one of the few firms that has a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test self-driving vehicles on public roads.

“We share a common vision with GM for how autonomous vehicles will change the world,” Vogt said. “We were already on that path, and we remain on the path.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, and Vogt and Kelly said they would not comment on “speculation” about the price tag. ReCode and Fortune quoted anonymous sources as saying the price was at least $1 billion.

GM said Cruise would continue to operate in San Francisco, but would function as an independent unit within the automaker’s newly formed autonomous-vehicle development team.

“Cruise provides our company with a unique technology advantage that is unmatched in our industry,” Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president, said in a statement. “We intend to invest significantly to further grow the talent base and capabilities already established by the Cruise team.”

The Sidecar and Lyft investments — and GM’s launch in January of the Maven car-sharing service, which allows users to reserve and unlock vehicles with their smartphone — indicate that the company wants to quickly integrate new technology.

“GM is actually investing in products that are already developed, so they’re not inventing from scratch,” said Rebecca Lindland, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “It makes sense, saves money and also potentially speeds up the adoption rate and the technology and integration.”

Technology is now the biggest difference between vehicles because their quality, durability and reliability are more or less on par, said Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis at market research firm AutoPacific.

The best example of a seamless blend between technology and autos is Tesla Motors Inc., he said.

“Elsewhere in the automotive industry, you’ve got automakers trying to interact with tech companies, but Tesla is, by its very nature, both,” Kim said. “It’s certainly a driving force in getting the traditional automakers really thinking about the future and … how technology fits into the future of the automobile.”

That future poses a threat to the traditional carmakers’ sales models.

“As autonomous vehicles become more and more widespread, especially in urban areas … we’re looking at a potential future where car ownership may decrease,” Kim said. “This does have some very big potential and far-reaching implications in the sense that this will definitely have an impact on future auto sales volumes.”

GM and Ford have been ramping up their presence in Silicon Valley.

Ford said its new Smart Mobility subsidiary will function as a start-up and will have operations in Palo Alto and Dearborn, Mich.

In January 2015, the carmaker opened a research center in Palo Alto dedicated to advanced automotive technologies, such as autonomous and remotely piloted vehicles.

In December, Ford received a permit to begin operating a driverless car on public streets.

Compared with Ford and GM’s tepid interest in alternative energy vehicle development in the 2000s, this time seems different, said Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst at

“There’s more visibility in this issue,” she said. “All of this is very buzz worthy, where if you made a push toward improving fuel efficiency … it wasn’t really as interesting back in 2007. I do think they’re being more proactive with this issue.”


Millennials Are Finally Arriving in the Car Market

Milleniums are arriving

Millennials were once a source of panic in the auto industry. Dubbed the “go nowhere” generation, they weren’t getting driver’s licenses, never mind buying cars. Headlines declared it was “The End of Car Culture.”

New data suggests at least some of that worry was misplaced. Millennials — especially the oldest ones — are these days buying cars in big numbers. They just had a late start.

Now the largest generation in the U.S., millennials bought 4 million cars and trucks in the U.S. last year, second only to the baby boomers, according to J.D. Power’s Power Information Network, which defines millennials as those between 21 and 38 in 2015. Millennials’ share of the new car market jumped to 28 percent. In the country’s biggest car market, California, millennials outpaced boomers for the first time.

Industry watchers say it’s been hard to get a read on millennials because the generation is big and diverse, ranging from recent college graduates to settled-down suburbanites. Automakers were also unsure about the impact of new transportation choices, like ZipCar and Uber, which helped millennials delay car buying. But as they got jobs and started families, millennials headed into car dealerships just like previous generations.

“This whole idea that they’re not going to need cars is absolutely ridiculous,” said Steven Szakaly, the chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association. “The new car buyer age is just happening much later.”

It’s a very different story from 2010, when millennials — who make up around 30 percent of the population — bought just 17 percent of new cars. Auto executives wondered aloud if the trend would be permanent.

In 2011, a University of Michigan study showed a steady decline in the number of young people getting their driver’s licenses. In 1983, the survey found, 87 percent of 19-year-olds had a license. By 2010, that had fallen to 69 percent. Millennials told the study’s authors that they were too busy to get licenses and were happy to hitch rides from others.

But there was more to the story. The advent of graduated licensing laws — which make teens practice driving in stages before granting a full license — was one reason millennials were getting their licenses later. An even bigger reason? The economy.

For many millennials, the Great Recession hit just as they were getting their first job or graduating from college. By 2010, millennials’ unemployment rate reached 13 percent — four percentage points higher than the national average — according to a report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers. For teens, things were even worse. The teen unemployment rate rose from 15 percent to 26 percent between 2006 and 2012.

Millennials’ unemployment rate has improved to around 8 percent. Add low interest rates and low gas prices to the mix and the car market suddenly looks more enticing to young buyers.

Lucy Mueller, 26, lived in Los Angeles for eight years without a car. She took buses and trains, hitched rides with friends and used ride-sharing services like Lyft. Her commutes lasted more than an hour each way. Finally, last July, she bought a slightly used 2015 Fiat 500.

“Now that I have a car, it’s almost bewildering to me. I feel like a grown-up,” said Mueller, a project manager and video producer for financial software maker Intuit.

Several things kept Mueller out of the car market. She didn’t have a credit card until a year ago; without any credit history, financing a car would have been difficult. Also, like many recession-weary millennials, Mueller wanted to avoid accruing debt, so she saved enough for a substantial down payment.

Szakaly says it will take millennials another four to five years to match the spending power of boomers. According to government data, the median household income for people ages 25-34 is $54,243. For those ages 55-64, it’s more than $60,000. In addition, the average 25-year-old has more than $20,000 in student debt, according to Goldman Sachs. That’s enough to buy a new Kia Optima sedan.

Bret Hyde, a cameraman with Access Hollywood in New York, waited until he was 37 to buy his first car. He and his wife used to rent ZipCars or take buses to visit friends and family. It was tiresome and expensive, he said, but there wasn’t much parking in their old neighborhood. After moving to a new neighborhood and renting a garage last spring, the couple bought a 2015 Nissan Rogue SUV.

Sheryl Connelly, a futurist with Ford Motor Co. who studies buying trends, said even as millennials start buying cars in bigger numbers, their attitudes are different than previous generations. Owning a car and getting a driver’s license aren’t the milestones they once were, and that may be a permanent change.

“The sense of freedom and independence that used to come with getting a vehicle has been arguably displaced by the cellphone,” she said.

Automakers have taken note. They’re improving in-car technology to make it easier for young drivers to stay connected to their friends and music while they’re driving. They’re forming partnerships with ride-hailing and car-sharing services and conducting mobility experiments of their own. And they’re ditching things that don’t appeal to millennials. Toyota Motor Corp. is axing its youth-oriented Scion brand, for example, after finding that millennials prefer the Toyota brand.

“Millennials are going to be the main generation we will cater to as an industry,” says John Humphrey, J.D. Power’s senior vice president of global automotive operations.

Judge to VW: Find a fix quick for dirty diesel cars


By Associated Press Friday, February 26th 2016


San Francisco — A federal judge wants to know within a month about how Volkswagen plans to bring nearly 600,000 diesel cars into compliance with clean air laws.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer in California is overseeing hundreds of class-action lawsuits against the German automaker.

Breyer told Volkswagen’s lawyers he expects them to report back by March 24 about the available technical solutions to fix the cars, and the status of negotiations on a potential settlement with affected owners.

Volkswagen admitted to U.S. regulators in September it had used illegal software installed in its so-called “Clean Diesel” engines. It allowed cars to pass emissions tests while spewing harmful levels of pollution when operating on real roads. Breyer said six months is long enough for VW to find a fix.


If you Body Repair or Collision Repair work performed on your VW contact Grahams Custom Body Shop in Virginia Beach.

Audi tops U.S. Consumer Reports vehicle ratings as Tesla falls



German luxury automaker Audi on Tuesday topped the annual ranking of new vehicles by influential U.S. magazine Consumer Reports despite the brand’s emissions-cheating scandal while quality problems hurt Tesla Motors Inc’s (TSLA.O) Model S luxury car.

Audi was followed by Fuji Heavy Industries’ (7270.T) Subaru unit, Toyota Motor Corp’s (7203.T) Lexus brand, Porsche and BMW AG (BMWG.DE).

Volkswagen AG’s (VOWG_p.DE) Audi unit was named best overall brand, based on the magazine’s road testing, reliability, safety and owner satisfaction scores.


In September, VW admitted to secretly installing software that allowed its vehicles to emit up to 40 times legally allowable limits. In November, Audi admitted using separate software that allowed its diesel U.S. SUVs and larger cars to emit excess emissions and was forced to halt U.S. sales of new diesel vehicles indefinitely.

Consumer Reports did not rank any VW Group U.S. diesel vehicles since they cannot legally be sold.

David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, said the top ranking would help Audi even though its image has not suffered as much as its parent’s.

Audi U.S. sales were up 2.7 percent in January, while VW brand sales were down 15 percent. “Audi hasn’t borne the brunt of what happened,” Cole said.

Tesla’s Model S electric car was named Consumer Report’s best overall car in 2014 and 2015, but this year the magazine opted not to name any best overall vehicle.

Jake Fisher, director of auto testing, said because of faltering reliability scores, the Model S is no longer the top ultraluxury car and ranks behind the BMW 750i xDrive, Lexus LS 460L and Audi A8 L. He said Tesla’s quality problems including issues with hatches, door handles, electric motors and batteries have increased as the automaker has ramped up production.

“They are having issues and they need to work that out before they introduce new models,” Fisher said.

Consumer Reports unveiled the results in Washington. The non-profit magazine has more than 8 million subscribers and gets survey data from 740,000 owners. Many car shoppers consult the ratings, and automakers routinely tout favorable ratings in advertising.

U.S. brands lagged most other automakers, but General Motors Co’s (GM.N) Buick brand ranked seventh, just ahead of Mazda. Motor Corp (7261.T). Toyota finished eighth, ahead of Hyundai Motor Co’s Kia unit and Honda Motor Co’s (7267.T) Honda brand. The Volkswagen brand ranked 15th overall.

GM’s top-selling Chevrolet brand ranked 20th, while the GMC brand ranked 23rd and Cadillac 24th.

Ford Motor Co’s (F.N) Ford brand ranked 16th, but its best-selling F-150 pickup truck was named best pickup for the first time since 1999.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI) continued to struggle in the rankings. The automaker’s Fiat unit finished last among 30 brands rated, with its Jeep brand in 29th place. FCA’s Dodge and Chrysler brands also rated near the bottom.

Fiat Chrysler said in a statement it is aggressively working to improve quality.

Tesla did not have enough models tested to be considered for overall brand scores.


For Body Shop Repairs in Virginia Beach contact Grahams Custom Body Shop


5 Amazing VW Conversions You Won’t Believe. Including Tanks, Missiles & Music!


What Zombie Apocalypse? That’s what you’ll be saying if you owned this totally freaking awesome bug out bug tank. Yes! It’s a tank!

Bug Out Bug Tank

Bug Out Bug Tank – Aka. “The Frog”
Image: Atomictoasters

Here’s another one. WITH MISSLES! ? I think this one is more ready for the impending apocalypse.

Volkswagon Bug Tank

Volkswagen Bug Tank
Source: Jalopnik

Here’s a Volkswagen bus tank. With TUNES! Cause you gotta have tunes.

VW Bus Tank

VW Bus Tank that converts into a DJ stage.
Image: WeLoveVW


The schwimmvagen was a sub-product of the legendary Volkswagen beetle conversion into mass production for the Wehrmacht, under the name “K�belwagen”, litteraly, “bucket-car”. A new model was studied by Erwin Komenda, car body designer of Ferdinand Porsche, in 1940, to provide an amphibious car.
Image: Tanks-Encyclopedia

VW Hot Rod. Not off grid, but COOL!

VW Hot Rod

VW Hot Rod
Image: VWTrendsWeb

Just in case the tanks don’t work when the SHTF, at least you can haul ass in style.

The EO Smart Connecting Car is an intelligent electrical vehicle

Published on Mar 11, 2012

The EO Smart Connecting Car is an intelligent electrical vehicle that can change its shape and adjust to traffic conditions. Most importantly it can connect to other EO car modules that drive to the same destination to form a train and then save energy. This project has been developed by the Robotics Innovation Center lead by Prof. Dr. Frank Kirchner at DFKI (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence). This video has been produced by DFKI (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence) – if you share or embed please give credits.
More info at DFKI

U.S. Regulator to Bolster Its Safety Rating System for Cars

David J Friedman

David J Friedman

WASHINGTON — The federal government will make significant changes to strengthen a rating system for cars that has for years awarded high marks to almost all vehicles, even those that have been the subjects of multiple safety recalls.
From Our Advertisers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced on Tuesday that its five-star rating system would be revised to consider new crash avoidance technologies and pedestrian protections that have become more prevalent in vehicles in recent years.

The agency also said it would revise the rating system to include additional crash tests and new advanced crash-test dummies with more sensors.

“We’re going to raise the bar for protecting vehicle occupants,” Anthony Foxx, the transportation secretary, said during a news conference at the Department of Transportation. He was flanked by two crashed vehicles and four of the new, more humanlike dummies.

“We ultimately want to eliminate crashes altogether,” he said.
Continue reading the main story
Related Coverage

Dr. David Lilienfeld, a Honda customer for over 30 years, has been waiting to have his Takata airbag replaced since July.
Your Money: Navigating the Takata Airbag RecallNOV. 27, 2015
A Chevy Corvair at Ralph Nader’s new American Museum of Tort Law, in his hometown of Winsted, Conn.
Wheels: 50 Years Ago, ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’ Shook the Auto WorldNOV. 26, 2015
David Friedman, N.H.T.S.A.’s acting head, indicated in a Senate hearing that he did not realize the agency could issue subpoenas.
Regulator Slow to Respond to Deadly Vehicle DefectsSEPT. 14, 2014

The rating system, with origins that date from 1978, allows the agency to award as many as five stars to vehicles based on crash protection and rollover safety. Ratings can be a powerful government seal of approval for automakers, which have used them in advertising.

The system came under fire last year after a New York Times investigation revealed that in recent years nearly all vehicles were awarded four or five stars.

The investigation found that, for models from 2011 through 2015, 92 percent of the overall safety ratings were four or five stars. And notably, the percentage of four- and five-star overall ratings increased each year, from 83 percent for 2011 models to 96 percent for 2015 models, even though the standards had ostensibly been toughened in 2011.

In the case of Chevrolet, six of the eight cars it had trumpeted as having five stars in early 2014 — more than any other brand, it said — would later be recalled for various safety defects, some more than once.

The day after The Times article was published, lawmakers criticized the agency and its acting administrator at the time, David J. Friedman, over the rating program at a hearing held by a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

“You see five stars. You think that is the Good Housekeeping seal of approval,” Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, said at the hearing. “The consumer is misled.”

During the hearing, Mr. Friedman defended the five-star system and objected to the article, but acknowledged that officials at the agency had talked internally about how to make it clearer to consumers that vehicles rated under the program could be recalled.

Now, safety regulators are taking a different view.

Mark R. Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said that achieving a five-star rating would be tougher than ever.

The agency said it had been considering changes to the program for nearly a year. Mr. Rosekind took over as the agency’s administrator last December.

The agency will also add half-star ratings to give consumers more discriminating information about vehicle performance.

Continue reading the main story

Continue reading the main story

Recalls on cars would not affect their ratings under the new plan, but the agency noted that consumers who search for ratings on can already see recalls, consumer complaints, investigations and technical bulletins for each model.

The agency said that it would add a new crash test to measure how well vehicles protect passengers in an angled crash from the front. In its 195-page plan detailing the changes, the agency said this crash type continues to “result in deaths and serious injuries despite the use of seatbelts, airbags, and the crash-worthy structures of late-model vehicles.”

A pedestrian rating will be based on tests that determine how well cars minimize injuries and fatalities to pedestrians. In 2013, the most recent year for which complete information is available, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic-related crashes, according to the agency.

A rating for crash avoidance will be based on whether a car has one or more technological systems, including, for example, systems to prevent rear-end crashes, improve night visibility and detect blind spots. In September, 10 automakers pledged to make automated braking systems, which use sensors to detect potential collisions, standard equipment on vehicles, though they did not say when.

Congress recently passed a transportation bill requiring crash avoidance information to be included on new vehicle window stickers — just as the government fuel economy ratings are. The measures won broad support from lawmakers, safety specialists and automakers.

Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, applauded the regulators’ move to include crash avoidance technology in its rating system.

“This update is a win both for consumers and innovators — highlighting a vehicle’s advanced safety systems will allow consumers to make informed purchasing decisions, and in turn spur greater use of these potentially lifesaving technologies,” he said in a statement.

John O’Dell, a senior editor and vehicle safety specialist at, a car shopping and research website, said the new measures were overdue.

“This is a big step and it is a needed step,” he said, adding that the changes indicated auto safety regulation was being taken more seriously than in the past.

Mr. O’Dell said that automakers had over the years become savvy about the safety regulator’s requirements and had learned to design their cars to do well in the ratings. He added that this would still happen, but it would take a while for car manufacturers to adapt. And, in the meantime, vehicles may become safer in the areas where the agency bolsters the tests.

The Auto Alliance, a trade group representing automakers, said it welcomed the agency’s embrace of new safety technologies. “We will provide constructive comments on the agency’s proposal” as more evaluations and data become available, it said in a statement.

Ron Nixon reported from Washington, and Danielle Ivory from New York.

A version of this article appears in print on December 9, 2015, on page B4 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Bolsters System Used to Rate Cars for Safety.

U.S. Traffic Deaths, Injuries and Related Costs Up in 2015

Car Accidents Grahams

Car Accidents Grahams

The United States is on track to have its deadliest traffic year since 2007, the National Safety Council says, with nearly 19,000 people killed as a result of motor vehicle accidents between January and June—a 14 percent increase over the same period last year. The number of injuries and the costs associated with traffic accidents also rose significantly, according to estimates from NSC’s statistics department released Monday.

Nearly 2.3 million “serious injuries,” which the NSC defines as those requiring medical consultation, were sustained during the six-month period, up 30 percent when compared with the first half of 2014. In a similar upward trend, the estimated costs of these crashes—including medical expenses, wage and productivity losses and property damage—increased 24 percent, to roughly $152 billion.

“Follow the numbers: The trend we are seeing on our roadways is like a flashing red light—danger lies ahead,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the NSC, is quoted as saying in the organization’s news release. “As a safety professional, it’s not just disappointing but heartbreaking to see the numbers trending in the wrong direction,” Hersman told the Associated Press.

Only 14 states and Washington, D.C., showed a decrease in driving deaths when comparing the first half of this year to the same period last year. The marked rise in deaths during this recent period, from January through June 2015, comes after a decline in the six-month figure the previous two years.

The NSC attributes the increase, in part, to lower gas prices, increased cumulative mileage traveled and an improving economy. “One of the strongest correlations tends to be between the economy and traffic fatalities,” Hersman tells Newsweek. “When the economy is doing well and things are growing, we tend to see more fatalities.”

When people have jobs, they spend more time on the road driving to work and have more disposable income for vacations, which often include longer drives, she explains. After nearly 44,000 deaths in 2007, Hersman says, the number of fatalities declined, as though tracking with the recession. Between 2008 and 2014, the annual number of deaths remained below 40,000, according to a historical fact sheet provided by statistics department manager Ken Kolosh.

Hersman calls the recent increase in deaths and injuries “pretty alarming” and says it points to a trend as opposed to a “spike or bump” in deaths. Considering the summer months as well as September—not included in the data published Monday—tend to have high numbers of traffic fatalities, Hersman says, this year’s total may well cross the 40,000 threshold for the first time since the recession.

But cheaper gas and more miles driven don’t explain everything, since the population death rate and mileage death rates are also up. The first half of this year saw approximately 12.5 deaths per 100,000 people, up from a preliminary rate of 11.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2014 (the NSC counts deaths that occur within a year of the accident date). The estimated number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled is also up, by 8 percent, from 1.2 to 1.3. Though Hersman says more analysis is necessary to understand the recent increase in deaths and injuries, she points to speeding, alcohol impairment and distracted driving as other potential factors.

A survey released by AT&T in May showed that roughly 70 percent of respondents use their smartphones while driving. Texting was most common, with 61 percent saying they’ve read, sent or replied to texts while driving, but respondents also indicated they use email, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram while driving and even conduct video chats, shoot videos and snap selfies behind the wheel. The NSC estimates that texting while driving raises the likelihood of a crash by eight times, and that crashes involving texting or talking on a cellphone (hands-free or handheld) account for 27 percent of all accidents.

Bugatti Chiron: The 1500-hp, $2.5-Million Veyron Successor’s Name, Debut Are Official

Bugatti Chiron: The 1500-hp, $2.5-Million Veyron Successor’s Name, Debut Are Official

2017 Bugatti Chiron (artist's rendering)

Name it Chiron, and they will come. Or name it whatever you’d like, and so long as it’s the descendant of the mighty Bugatti Veyron, the rich and powerful will toss money at you like so much confetti. We’re talking, of course, about the Veyron’s successor, which Bugatti has confirmed will be named “Chiron” and will debut at the 2016 Geneva auto show this coming spring.

Bugatti Chiron logo

We had already assumed the new Bugatti would be named Chiron—for the legendary 1920s and 1930s racing driver, Louis Chiron, who won several Grands Prix for Bugatti—and a debut at the Geneva show seemed wholly appropriate. What we didn’t know is that, despite no one outside of Bugatti having driven the new Chiron, 100 orders for the car already have been placed. It isn’t presently clear whether those orders indicate an overabundance of super-rich (remember, the Chiron should cost upwards of $2.5 million) or excitement over a super-sports car that’s expected to top 288 mph. Probably a little bit of both.

Also not lacking in Bugatti’s strata? Modesty. Besides an apparently secret push to attract the aforementioned 100 Chiron orders, the company’s president Wolfgang Dürheimer has declared that, “With the Chiron, [Bugatti] will make the best significantly better.” We suppose this means that Bugatti’s Volkswagen Group money isn’t on the chopping block in the wake of the TDI scandal, after all.

Is Volkswagen planning a 2015 Microbus?

VW Van

VW Van

Don’t believe everything you see on the web. Volkswagen is not poised to introduce a new version of its legendary microbus.

A spate of rumors and even a set of photos sprang up on the Internet this week, featuring stats, specs and details on the 2015 version of the German automakers leisure ride.

The website We Are Surfers said the new vehicle would be available with both four- and five-cylinder engines, and even had the MSRP ($25,000) and showroom date (early 2015).

This joins an earlier series of stories, including one in AutoWeek from May of this year, saying the vehicle known around the world as the Kombi, and in England as the Camper, was on its way back, though perhaps not for several more years.

A 2010 Car and Driver story said the van would be unveiled in 2013, and go into production in 2014.

But Volkswagen says there’s no such vehicle.

“This rumor has been floating around the Internet for a while and it just isn’t true,” said a company spokesperson.

Volkswagen did display a van-like concept vehicle, nicknamed “Bulli,” at the Geneva auto show in 2011. The spokesperson said the images being shown online may be based on that platform, though that vehicle was much smaller than the traditional VW van.

For now, though, the company said it has no plans to start building a new microbus.

Follow me on Twitter: @misterfleming
Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

Automotive Industry


46.9 Million Americans to Travel for Thanksgiving, According to AAA

Thanksgiving Travel

ORLANDO, Fla. (November 17, 2015) – AAA Travel forecasts 46.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday, a 0.6 percent increase over the 46.6 million people who traveled last year and the most since 2007. With 300,000 additional holiday travelers, this marks the seventh consecutive year of growth for Thanksgiving travel. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 25 to Sunday, November 29.

Holiday Travel

“This Thanksgiving, more Americans will carve out time to visit friends and family since 2007,” said Marshall Doney, AAA President and CEO. “While many people remain cautious about the economy and their finances, many thankful Americans continue to put a premium on traveling to spend the holiday with loved ones.”

Additional Resources

Despite improvements in the economy, including steady wage growth, rising disposable income and a falling unemployment rate, consumers remain cautious about their finances. However, gas prices remain well below 2014 levels, providing an early holiday bonus to the more than 89 percent of holiday travelers who will drive to their destinations.

“One holiday gift has come early this year. Americans will likely pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008. Lower prices are helping boost disposable income, and enabling families to kick off the holiday season with a Thanksgiving getaway,” continued Doney.

Driving remains most popular mode of travel for Thanksgiving

Nearly 42 million Americans will take a holiday road trip this Thanksgiving, an increase of 0.7 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase by 0.1 percent, with 3.6 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other modes of transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will decrease 1.4 percent this Thanksgiving, to 1.4 million travelers.

Lowest Thanksgiving gas prices in seven years expected

Drivers nationwide continue to experience significant yearly savings in the price of gas and AAA estimates that consumers are saving nearly $265 million on gasoline every day compared to a year ago. This has helped boost disposable income, enabling many Americans to travel this Thanksgiving. Most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008. Today’s national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.15, 65 cents less than the average price on Thanksgiving last year ($2.80).

Airfares fall, hotel and car rental rates rise modestly

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares are projected to decrease 10 percent this Thanksgiving, landing at an average of $169 roundtrip across the top 40 domestic flight routes. Rates for AAA Three Diamond Rated lodgings are expected to remain relatively flat, with travelers spending an average of $155 per night. The average rate for a AAA Two Diamond Rated hotel has risen four percent with an average nightly cost of $118. Daily car rental rates will average $60, eight percent higher than last Thanksgiving.

#AAAToTheRescue for thousands of motorists this Thanksgiving

AAA expects to rescue more than 360,000 motorists this Thanksgiving, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists check the condition of their battery and tires before heading out on a holiday getaway. Also, have vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the nearly 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a Thanksgiving getaway

Before setting out on a Thanksgiving trip, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants via TripTik Travel Planner. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2015 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast can be found here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at For more information about AAA Travel, visit

By eliminating spare tires, automakers leave motorists stranded

No Spare Tire

AAA Calls On Manufacturers To Stop Dropping Spares From New Cars

Automakers are shedding weight from vehicles any way they can in their attempts to meet stricter federal fuel-economy requirements. But by eliminating spare tires, they are causing problems for motorists.

More than a third of new cars sold today don’t contain one, and the lack of spares is leaving motorists in a lurch, says AAA. On Tuesday, the nation’s largest motoring organization called on automakers to halt the elimination of spare tires to better protect stranded motorists.

“Flat tires are not a disappearing problem, but spare tires are,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of automotive engineering and repair. He said the organization responds to more than 4 million calls for flat-tire assistance every year. “… Advances in automotive engineering allow for weight to be reduced in ways that don’t leave motorists stranded at the roadside.”

The decline in spare tires has been striking. A decade ago, five percent of cars sold lacked a spare tire. Today, AAA says 36 percent don’t contain a spare. That number is only expected to rise as carmakers chase Corporate Average Fuel Economy mandates of 54.5 miles per gallon by model year 2025, and reducing weight is one of the key ways to reach the target.

In many cases, carmakers still offer a spare as optional equipment. When that’s not chosen, manufacturers have replaced spares with tire-inflator kits. Each four-pound kit eliminates about 30 pounds of weight. But these kits aren’t a comparable substitute, says AAA, which says they can cost up to 10 times more than a tire repair and have a shelf life of only four to eight years. Most importantly, they only are effective for a limited number of problems.

AAA evaluated the most common inflator kits on the market and found they work well in some scenarios. If an object that caused a puncture is no longer in the tire, a sidewall is damaged or a blowout occurs, a tire-inflator kit couldn’t fix those problems.

“Consumers may mistakenly believe that inflator kits are a one-size-fits-all alternative to installing a spare tire,” Nielsen said. “The reality is these kits can accommodate specific types of tire damage, but having the option to install a spare tire can save stranded drivers time and money.”

With spare tires vanishing, fewer new motorists are learning how to change a tire. Nearly 90 percent of all drivers ages 35 to 54 know how to change a tire – or at least claim such knowledge. But that falls to 78 percent for millennial drivers, those ages 18 to 34, according to an AAA survey. Gender differences also exist. Ninety-seven percent of men claim to know how to change a tire; 68 percent of women claim the same ability.

2017 Jaguar XE Will Offer a Manual Transmission in the U.S.


2017 Jaguar XE S

With growing despair, we are watching the exodus of the manual transmission from some of our favorite cars. Despite our best efforts, in the form of the “Save the Manuals” campaign, the row-it-yourself gearbox has disappeared from a number of German premium cars (and from the Cadillac CTS-V, as well). But there is happy news from elsewhere: Jaguar is betting strongly on the manual, and we just got confirmation from the brand’s North American CEO Joe Eberhardt: It will be offered on the upcoming XE sedan.

Jaguar is already offering the manual on several versions of the F-type, where the customer take rate is at a solid 10-to-20 percent. “It is enough to be worth the investment, and we are happy with our decision,” Eberhardt tells us. And beyond just the numbers, he points out the benefits in image and performance credibility.

The manual transmission will be offered on the entry-level 2017 Jaguar XE 25t, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, we’re told. And while it won’t be available from the outset, it will come to market soon after the model line launches in mid-2016. Good. That’s yet another reason to put the XE on enthusiasts’ radar—besides its very impressive performance in our first test of the car. And we hope other carmakers take note.

Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2016

Kelley Blue Book

Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2016

By Editors on November 12, 2015 6:08 PM
There are a lot of Car of the Year awards programs out there, and they certainly have their place. But with our Best Buys of 2016 awards program, we at Kelley Blue Book seek to do more than simply identify a great car, sing its praises and call it a day. Instead our awards program is designed to help car shoppers find the best values among the vehicle types that interest them most. Frankly that is a much tougher task than choosing the best vehicle in the new-car crop, but we find that it is also infinitely more satisfying because it is more valuable to you, our visitors.When it comes to assessing vehicle value, we are proud of the fact that Kelley Blue Book values have become the standard of the industry, and we can rely on our nearly 90 years of experience in every intricacy involved in that effort. With that as our bedrock, the Best Buy Awards are the result of a process that began more than a year ago when the first 2016 models were introduced. While our expert vehicle evaluators drove hundreds of new vehicles and reported on their findings at, our KBB analysts collected a broad swath of vehicle-related data: vehicle sales, comprehensive pricing, costs of depreciation, insurance, maintenance, financing, fuel costs and hundreds of other data points. Over the course of the past 12 months our vehicle experts also conducted a series of exhaustive Comparison Tests in the major high-volume vehicle categories to see how similar vehicles performed in similar circumstances.

Based on what we believe is the most comprehensive collection of vehicle value-related information in the nation, we on the KBB editorial staff nominated 49 vehicles in 12 vehicle categories that we believed had the potential to be the highest-value new cars and trucks available this model year. Since this is our second go-round at picking the best values in the market (see our 2015 Best Buy Award Winners), we benefited from the extensive experience that effort brought us. Among other things, it gave us a baseline vehicle in each category against which to compare others, because in every segment we invited last year’s segment winner to compete again. It also helped us quickly eliminate some very good alternatives based on the thinking if a model didn’t outdo the incumbent in the 2015 model year and neither had definitively changed, why would it do so in 2016?

But the nominees list was anything but static. Since the industry is always moving forward, new vehicles and all-new versions of vehicles with carryover names continue to enter the marketplace. We identified a select group of these all-new or heavily revised vehicles to compete against the incumbent champ in each category.

Testing & Evaluation Procedures: Crowning the Winners

Over the course of a 7-week test period beginning at the end of August, we tested and evaluated every one of the 49 contenders back-to-back in real-world driving situations. We examined not only how each vehicle rode and handled but also how easy or difficult it was to park, to get in and out of and to load with cargo. We examined the operation of infotainment systems, safety systems and electronic driving aids like lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control. For pickup trucks, whose hauling and towing abilities are an important part of their overall utility, we did tow and haul tests. And for the entire test period we lived with these vehicles in much the same way you and your family would live with them.

Based on the totality of this information – comparative market pricing, cost-to-own information, generational consumer reviews and ratings and, of course, expert evaluations based on extensive driving experiences – we on the editorial staff selected 2016 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award Winners in 12 vehicle categories and an Overall Best Buy Award Winner. Not only do we honor vehicles very worthy of accolades, in the process we have identified for all new-vehicle buyers smart choices that we expect to offer excellent value for years to come.

Overall Best Buy Award Winner 2016

Overall Best Buy

2016 Honda Civic

Already a high-value legend, a thoroughly impressive redesign has elevated Honda’s compact car to this year’s Overall Best Buy

See the new Civic

2016 Honda Civic

Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards Logo 2016

Category Best Buys

Small Car

No suprises here, this year’s Overall Best Buy and Small Car Best Buy are one and the same.

See the winner

Small Cars

Midsize Car

Redesigned-for-2016 challenger outpaces some serious stalwarts to grab the gold.

See the winner

Midsize Cars

Full-Size Car

Five unique takes on the full-size sedan, none more familiar than our repeat winner.

See the winner

Full-Size Cars

Small SUV

Last year’s winner fends off three newcomers to retain the title of Small SUV Best Buy.

See the winner

Small SUVs

Midsize SUV

One of these three-row SUVs was completely redesigned for 2016, and now we have a new Midsize SUV Best Buy.

See the winner

Midsize SUVs

Full-Size SUV

The category’s best-seller by far is also this year’s Best Buy in a landslide.

See the winner

Full-Size SUVs


The built-in vacuum cleaner is cool and useful, but it’s just one of the cherries on top of this repeat winner.

See the winner


Pickup Truck

Last year’s Pickup Truck Best Buy held off two all-new trucks and one enhanced model to retain its title.

See the winner

Pickup Trucks

Performance Car

Three American legends and a pair of affordable fun factories add up to five winners, but only one Best Buy.

See the winner

Performance Cars

Electric/Hybrid Car

This year’s Electric/Hybrid Car Best Buy has been completely redesigned for 2016, but it’s also a repeat winner.

See the winner

Electric and Hybrid Cars

Luxury Car

This year’s Luxury Car Best Buy was totally redesigned last year, and nobody has caught up yet.

See the winner

Luxury Cars

Luxury SUV

A total redesign for 2016 earns this SUV its first Best Buy Award, which surely won’t be its last.

See the winner

Luxury SUVs

Wink and Call Her Bela: Supercharged 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Looks Pretty in Patina

Super Charged 1956 Bel Air

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air "Bela"

It’s long been normal practice to name one’s car, and it’s fairly common for car buffs to treat their car like a glorious sea vessel and refer to it as a woman. Chevrolet Performance, then, would like it if you could refer to its rat-rod SEMA build, a ’56 Bel Air sedan, as Bela. We have no problems doing so, because Bela’s quite the lady.

Few cars are as inherently suited to hot-rodding as is Chevrolet’s mid-to-late ’50s coupes and sedans, and even fewer still can rock a scarred patina so effectively. Chevrolet Performance hits on both bogeys with Bela, which was given VIP parking in Mobil 1’s 2015 SEMA booth. To give you an idea of why the parking space in Mobil 1’s territory is a big deal, consider that last year, Porsche builder Magnus Walker displayed his favorite 911 there.

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air "Bela"

In an extensive build chronicled on Chevy Performance’s fan site, a Chevrolet team purchased the ’56 and immediately set about mitigating Bela’s significant rust issues. Floors were replaced, body rust tempered, and everything generally cleaned up without ruining the aged finish. The frame was gone over and painted, while a Vortec-superharged GM LS3 V-8 was plunked into the front cradle. (A COPO intake manifold also was fitted, giving Bela a little drag cred, and the camouflage valve covers are unexpected.) Wilwood brakes at all four corners help this 400-to-500-hp dancer stay in control, while an air suspension tugs Bela’s bottom down low. A totally fresh interior brightens her inner glow.

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air "Bela"

We aren’t entirely sure whether Bela has a hood, but it wasn’t fitted at SEMA, and we really don’t care. She may be old, but she wears her years well. The build team’s rust-mitigation efforts appear to have turned Bela’s various rust spots from brown to black, giving the white-painted body sections a spotted cow–like appearance. In a good way! Sweet details such as leather straps holding down the trunk, amusing bumper stickers, a Mobil 1 pegasus grille badge, and a raccoon tail hanging from the side mirror highlight Bela’s laid-back cruising style. And this girl’s got a tattoo: On the gauge cluster there is a classic tattoo heart design inscribed “Bela.” We like her more and more.

Rear-Facing Car Seats Are Still the Safest Way for Young Kids to Ride

Car Seats

A recently released study on rear-facing child car seats may inadvertently be sending the wrong message to parents. The study’s results, while meaningful to improving the overall safety of car seats, look at just one small piece of the puzzle, possibly causing some parents to jump to conclusions.

Simply put: Rear-facing car seats are still the safest way for young kids to ride in a car.

The study, published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention, was designed to compare the performance of the different child-seat installation methods—LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tether for Children) versus the vehicle seat belt – in simulated rear-end crashes. But some media coverage may have created doubt for parents concerned about which seating orientation is safest for their children.

For instance, the Washington Post’s headline “Study of Rear-End Crashes Finds Head Injuries From Rear-Facing Child Seats” could suggest the study was a summary of real-world child injury data in rear crashes. It wasn’t.

Like much of the child seat testing we do at Consumer Reports, the authors of the study conducted tests that simulate the forces and motion that a child seat and child may experience during a rear-impact crash. Injury values were measured with instrumented child-sized dummies, just as we do. The results indicated that measurements used to predict head injury were higher (worse) for rear-facing seats installed with LATCH than for those installed with a vehicle seat belt. The study also indicated that some of the head injury values for LATCH installed seats exceeded head injury limits that could produce more serious injury in a 6-month-old child.

What This Means for Parents

Don’t prematurely move to forward-facing seats. These results should not be taken as evidence that you should move your child to a forward-facing orientation. Much more data shows that children are safer riding rear-facing and that they should continue to ride rear-facing at least until the age of two—even longer if the seat limits will allow.

Rear-end crashes aren’t as common. The results are important to consider when thinking of all of the crash scenarios that a child may experience in a car. But rear-end crashes are less frequent and typically cause fewer injuries to children than frontal crashes. Data cited in the article by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that rear-end collisions account for just 9 percent of injuries to children in car seats. In comparison, front-end collisions account for about 43 percent and side-impact crashes account for about 33 percent.

Proper fit-to-vehicle is key. Though this study shows better results for seat belt installed seats over LATCH installed seats, our extensive frontal crash tests and fit-to-vehicle evaluations show just the opposite. Our fit-to-vehicle analysis typically shows that LATCH provides an easier-to-achieve and more secure installation than seat belt installations for most seats. A seat that is securely installed is critical to protecting your child in all types of crashes.

Front- and side-crashes result in greater head injuries. Though the injury values in this study may sound alarming, we can assure you that the head injury values we see from instrumented dummies in frontal and initial side-impact tests are much higher than those in this study. In our own simulated crash tests, we also compare child seat performance based on a number of injury metrics that includes the head injury measurements used in this study. Based on that data, the contact of the child seat and child into the seatback in a rear-end crash is something to look at, but the potential for reducing injury and fatalities for kids in vehicle crashes appears to still be greater in the more prominent frontal and side crash modes.

Key Takeaways

If your child is two years old or younger, keep them in a rear-facing child seat and make sure you have a secure installation using LATCH. If you aren’t confident in the installation, have a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician double check your installation at a car seat check-up event near you.

Rainy Winter Ahead: Wiper blade buying guide

Windshiled Wipers

Windshiled Wipers

Getting started

It’s easy to forget that wipers are a safety feature–until you end up driving in heavy rain or snow, or are blinded by glare through dirty glass. An unclean or obscured windshield is a true hazard. Just as you typically don’t know the washer fluid tank is empty until it no longer squirts cleaner, drivers may not realize that the wipers are shot until there is an immediate visibility concern. By then, it can be too late, as many accidents are a result of poor visibility.

Wiper blades have a finite service life, as they perform a hazardous duty in harsh conditions. Dirt, debris, and road grime abrade wipers, and sunlight breaks down their rubber edges. Beyond visibility, it is important not to wait too long to replace a blade, as a torn wiper blade can allow the wiper arm to rub against the glass, possibly scratching and ruining the windshield.

The good news is that, based on our testing, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get good performing windshield wipers, but you might need to replace them every six months or so.

To get the most from your existing wipers, inspect them periodically. Lift each wiper arm off the glass and run your finger along its rubber edge. If the rubber is rigid or chipped, or produces nonstop streaking, you need new wipers.

If the wipers are in decent physical condition but not clearing the windshield effectively, clean them. Simply put windshield washer fluid or glass cleaner on a damp sponge or rag and wipe debris off the rubber and the windshield where the wiper rests. You might be rewarded with a couple more months of a clear windshield without spending money on replacements. Further, be sure to clear snow and ice from the windshield in the winter before dragging the wipers across the uneven surface.

When the time comes for new blades, remember to replace them in pairs. If one is worn out, its mate can’t be far behind.

Don’t forget to check the rear wiper, if your vehicle has one. Even though it may not get as much use as the front wipers, it is exposed to the elements and can fail over time.

How to choose

Windshield wiper blades come in many sizes, even on the same car. Look in your car’s owner’s manual, measure the blade, or ask at an auto-parts store for the proper fit. Major brands that you are likely to see include Anco, ACDelco, Bosch, Goodyear, Michelin, PIAA, Rain-X, and Trico. Prices vary greatly depending on the brand, type, and size. For a smaller wiper blade, you can pay as little as under $10 and for a large blade of 24 or 26 inches, you can pay $25 or more.

It’s becoming harder to find replacement inserts where only the rubber is replaced into the existing frame and while inserts can save money, installing them requires deft use of needle-nose pliers. Experience shows that replacing an insert can be a frustrating task whose grief simply isn’t worth the money savings. It’s often more convenient to replace the whole blade assembly–just pull the old wiper off the metal arm and push the new one on until it’s tight. (You might need a small screwdriver or hammer to tap the old blade off.) Our research shows that most car owners replace the assembly, rather than just the blade.

All wiper blades are marketed with great promise, and it can be difficult to sort through the claims and hyperbole. In our testing, we have found that some of the best blades are among the least expensive. Lesson here: Don’t equate a high price with high quality.

When new, we saw that all of the tested windshield wipers provided very good or excellent performance initially, but most quickly degraded after a few months of regular use. Depending on the model, deterioration showed up on the windshield as streaking (leaving lines of water behind), smearing of the water (instead of clearing it), or missed areas of wiping. Because we found that a wiper blades will typically provide very good or better performance when new, with performance dropping off quickly, most blades should provide adequate performance after about six months when they should be replaced. Consequently, we no longer test them.

When we last tested wipers, we conducted an exhaustive assessment of more than a dozen windshield wiper models on 185 staff members’ cars. When the project started, about half those cars had wipers that needed replacing, showing that drivers often don’t notice the slow degradation and leave wipers on longer than they should. Therefore, our experience suggests that beyond a quick monthly inspection, it would be wise to plan for wiper replacement twice a year. Consider going with the change of seasons, replacing the blades with at the beginning of winter and again for summer–two seasons that prove particularly challenging for wipers.

Conventional wiper blades

The most common design, conventional wipers have a replaceable rubber blade that fits into a spring-tensioned frame assembly, or bridge. Most blades have a metal spline that supports the rubber element and runs through the ribs of the contact points.
Beam blades

Unlike conventional wipers, beam blades have no external frames. Instead, they have spring steel incorporated into the rubber. As a result, beam blades are promoted as providing more uniform pressure on today’s curved windshields and therefore better wiping performance. Also known as bracketless, beam blades are becoming increasing popular. In general, the more expensive beam blade wipers tended to perform as well or better than conventional blades, but the inexpensive beam blade models tended to perform worse than conventional blades.

When buying blades, consider purchasing from a major auto parts chain. Often, name-brand stores will have good prices and be willing to install the wipers for you.


Many car owners replace their wiper blades themselves. While some owners may be meticulous enough to plan their wiper replacement in their garage on a nice leisurely day, it is likely that a lot of wipers get replaced outside, perhaps in the rain or in darkness, by drivers who have had it with their worn blades. Combine that with likelihood that they don’t have tools, the awkwardness of leaning over the car to reach at least one of the wiper arms, and the trepidation of working over a breakable windshield or scratch-prone paint, it becomes obvious that convenient installation and removal is important.

There are several different mounting methods for wiper blades with a hook mount being the most popular by far. Hook mount wiper arms are generally simple to remove and install. You insert the arm through the slot in the wiper blade bridge, line up the adapter with the hook, and press it into place. Some blades emit a confidence-inspiring “click” when they lock into place.

Most wiper designs allow you to install and remove the blades without tools, although to remove some blades you might need to press or pry a tab or lever with a screwdriver. In those cases, it might be better to use a hammer (of course being careful not to contact the windshield) to tap off the wiper blade. We found a hammer to be easier and safer than prying with a screw driver; it removes the risk of stabbed hands and the wiper came right off with a light tap.


Check out the VW Transporter… You will LOVE IT!

VW Transporter

Takata Airbag Inquiry Widens

Air Bags

Takata Airbag Inquiry Widens


Air Bags

WASHINGTON — The recall of potentially defective Takata airbags, one of the largest and most complex auto recalls in the nation’s history, may grow even larger.
Stories from Our Advertisers

Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Thursday that the agency had expanded its investigation beyond the airbags situated in front of the driver and front-seat passenger to include side airbags. They said it was also examining all model years, not just older inflaters, for defects that could cause the airbags to rupture violently and spew metal fragments at vehicle occupants. If those airbags are determined to be defective, the regulator said, the already spiraling recall may need to be widened.

More than 19 million cars made by 12 automakers have already been recalled in the United States to fix potentially dangerous airbags. Millions more have been recalled abroad. The ruptures have been linked to eight deaths worldwide and dozens of injuries.
Continue reading the main story
Related Coverage

Takata and Honda Kept Quiet on Study That Questioned Airbag PropellantOCT. 21, 2015

So far, the recalls have been limited to older airbag inflaters — the metal casings that contain the propellant — in front of the driver and passenger. But recently, side airbag inflaters, including those in new cars, have raised concerns.
Mark R. Rosekind, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has expanded its investigation of defective Takata airbags. Credit Matt Roth for The New York Times

This summer, regulators asked Volkswagen to provide information about the rupture of a Takata-made side airbag in a Tiguan from the 2015 model year. And last weekend, General Motors recalled almost 400 cars in the United States after Takata informed the automaker that side airbags in those vehicles had failed in tests.

“These have all been brought under the current investigation,” Mark R. Rosekind, the administrator at the safety agency, said to reporters on Thursday after a public meeting on the airbag recall.

Gordon Trowbridge, a spokesman for the agency, said that all Takata inflaters using a chemical compound called ammonium nitrate as a propellant were “within the scope of the investigation — all model years.”

It is not known, though, how many vehicles could potentially be affected. Of the 12 automakers with Takata-made airbags, only Chrysler gave an estimate — 25,000 vehicles — but it was limited to those with inflaters similar to the ones in the VW and G.M. cars in question. A spokesman for Chrysler noted that it had not experienced issues with those inflaters. Some of the auto manufacturers said they needed more time to confirm figures. Others declined to comment altogether.

Takata said it was investigating the latest ruptures.

“While we are still investigating the cause of this malfunction, we believe it is unrelated to the previous recalls, which the extensive data suggests were a result of aging and long-term exposure to heat and high humidity,” said Jared Levy, a Takata spokesman. “We are cooperating closely with N.H.T.S.A. and the vehicle manufacturers.”

Mr. Levy declined to give an estimate of how many cars might be affected if the recall were expanded to include side airbags.

Also on Thursday, Senators John Thune and Bill Nelson, the top Republican and Democrat on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, sent a letter to Takata demanding documentation about the side airbags.

Continue reading the main story

“Takata has repeatedly emphasized the critical role long-term exposure of vehicles to high heat and humidity may play in ruptures of its ammonium nitrate-based inflaters subject to previous recalls,” the senators wrote. “This incident, however, involved a vehicle that was less than one year old.”

Automakers are not required by law to install side airbags in vehicles, but during the 1990s many developed and added them in response to rules strengthening side-impact protection.

Officials at the agency said that they still had not determined the root cause of the explosions, but they suggested that the ruptures were most likely related to the ammonium nitrate that Takata used to inflate its airbag.

“We believe that the reason these inflaters are malfunctioning in this way has something to do with the type of propellant Takata is using and how Takata engineers it,” said Stephen A. Ridella, director of the safety agency’s office for vehicle crashworthiness research, who spoke during the meeting. He said the agency was looking at the way the ammonium nitrate, which is treated with stabilizing chemicals, changes as it ages and burns differently.
Continue reading the main story
Related Takata Airbag Coverage

Airbag Compound Has Vexed Takata for YearsDec. 10, 2014
U.S. Agency Sets Fines for Maker of AirbagsFeb. 21, 2015
Toyota and Nissan Recall 6.5 Million More Vehicles Over Takata AirbagsMay 14, 2015
Lawmakers Spread Anger in Recalls Over AirbagsJune 24, 2015
For Drivers, Confusion Reigns in Takata Airbag RecallMay 21, 2015
Airbag Recall Widens to 34 Million Cars as Takata Admits DefectsMay 20, 2015

Patents filed by Takata show that its engineers have been aware of the potentially dangerous effects of moisture and volatile temperatures on ammonium nitrate for almost two decades and have long struggled to stabilize the compound.

Former Takata engineers have also said that they raised concerns over the use of the compound in the late 1990s but that their concerns went unheeded.

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that, in 2010, as Takata and Honda assured regulators that the airbag explosions were linked to isolated manufacturing issues, they were also enlisting the help of a top pyrotechnic lab at Pennsylvania State University to determine whether ammonium nitrate might have been at the heart of the problem.

When the study’s conclusion in 2012 cast doubt on the use of ammonium nitrate, Takata disputed the methodology, dismissed the conclusion and waited more than two years before sharing the research with regulators.

Frank Borris, director of the agency’s Office of Defects Investigation, said that federal investigators’ understanding of the nature and scope of the defect had evolved.

“For several years, we believed that manufacturing errors caused the ruptures,” he said. “We no longer believe that to be true. Today, the exact cause of the ruptures is unknown, though it seems to be related to environmental conditions that affect inflaters as they age.”

Scott Yon, the agency’s chief of vehicle integrity, said that the risk of ruptures affected vehicles from five to 10 years old, and possibly older. He said that all seven of the deaths linked to the defect in the United States involved drivers, though it was still unclear why. That could simply be because there is always someone sitting in the driver’s seat, or it could be because the airbag inflater is located in the steering wheel, close to the driver, he said. The lone death outside the United States, in Malaysia, also occurred in the driver’s seat.

Continue reading the main story

Continue reading the main story

Agency officials pointed out that nearly one in every 10 ruptures had resulted in deaths. It was also aware of 98 injuries thought to have been caused by a rupturing Takata inflater, a slightly lower tally than has been reported by a Senate committee investigating the issue.

Mr. Yon also stressed that the Takata-made replacement inflaters being used to fix recalled cars were a stopgap remedy, and that they would also eventually need to be replaced.

“We believe they will face the same problem, and should not stay in these cars for an extended period of time,” he said. As many as 70 percent of replacement inflaters are being made by manufacturers other than Takata, including the Swedish-American giant Autoliv, the Japanese safety systems company Daicel and the American parts maker TRW Automotive, he said.

Mr. Levy, the Takata spokesman, said that Takata was working to supply the needed replacement parts in the sprawling airbag recall.

“Takata continues to support all efforts to ensure the effectiveness of the safety campaigns, including significantly ramping up the production of replacement kits,” he said.

Thursday’s meeting opened with a video showing what the airbag inflaters look like when they rupture. It is an explosion of sparks, smoke and metal pieces.

“Something goes horribly wrong,” Mr. Ridella said, describing the video. “The catastrophic failure inside the inflater shatters the tubing of the inflater, and sends metal fragments and shrapnel all over the test chamber. This is what we’re talking about when we say ‘rupture.’ ”

The 6 Most Common Causes of Automobile Crashes

Two cars crashed

The 6 Most Common Causes of Automobile Crashes

Two cars crashed


After the world’s first automobile-related fatality, which occurred in London in 1896, the coroner said: “This must never happen again.” Little did he know that from then on, some 25 million people would have died in vehicle-related accidents, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

And even with all the advancements in vehicle safety technology, the number of people killed in auto accidents continues to rise. Close to 1.2 million people die each year on the world’s roads, and that number is expected to rise by 65 percent by the year 2020, says a report by WHO and the World Bank.

What’s causing all of these accidents, which are, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the leading cause of death among people aged 3 to 33, should then be of great interest to all of us drivers out there. Ironically, when you take a look through the top six causes you’ll see that the greatest threat to drivers is the drivers themselves.

Distracted drivers cause between 25-50 percent of all U.S. motor vehicle accidents.

1. Distracted Drivers

Mark Edwards, Director of Traffic Safety at the American Automobile Association stated, “The research tells us that somewhere between 25-50 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in this country really have driver distraction as their root cause.”

The distractions are many, but according to a study conducted by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), texting — rubbernecking — or slowing down to gawk at another accident — caused the most accidents, accounting for 16 percent of all distraction-related crashes.

“I’ve had as many as three accidents at one scene, at one intersection,” says Officer John Carney of the Fairfax County Police. “Rubbernecking is the most dangerous distraction, in my experience.”

After rubbernecking, other common driver distractions included:

  • Driver fatigue (12 percent, see below)
  • Looking at scenery (10 percent)
  • Other passengers or children (9 percent)
  • Adjusting the radio, cassette or CD player (7 percent)
  • Reading the newspaper, books, maps or other documents (less than 2 percent)

Another increasingly serious cause of driver distraction is cell phone use, as more than 85 percent of the estimated 100 million cell-phone users talk on their phone regularly while driving, according to a Prevention magazine survey. At least one study has found that driving and talking on a cell phone at the same time quadruples the risk of crashing, which is why many cities have recently begun banning their use while driving unless a hands-free device is used.

2. Driver Fatigue

Drowsy drivers account for about 100,000 accidents every year in the United States, according to the U.S. National Traffic Safety Administration. The risk is greatest from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m., the time when most people are used to sleeping, however some people also become drowsy from noon to 2 p.m.

Symptoms of driver fatigue include heavy eyelids, frequent yawning, a drifting vehicle that wanders over road lines, varying vehicle speed for no reason, misjudging traffic situations, seeing things “jump out” in the road, feeling fidgety or irritable and daydreaming.

Other than making sure you are well-rested before getting behind the wheel, the Motor Accidents Authority (MAA) offers these tips to help avoid fatigue-related auto accidents:

  • Take a break from driving at least every two hours.
  • Get a good night’s sleep before a long trip.
  • Share the driving whenever possible.
  • Avoid long drives after work.
  • Avoid drinking before driving.
  • Pull over and stop when drowsiness, discomfort or loss of concentration occurs.
  • Find out whether any medicine you are taking may affect your driving.

3. Drunk Driving

In 2004, an estimated 16,654 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes, according to NHTSA. This is an average of one death almost every half-hour. Drunk drivers were responsible for 30 percent of all fatal crashes during the week in 2003, but this percentage rose significantly over the weekends, during which 53 percent of fatal crashes were alcohol-related.

The only way to prevent this type of accident is to not drink and drive. Whenever alcohol is involved, choose a designated driver in advance. This person should not drink at all before driving.

4. Speeding

Speeding is a multi-tiered threat because not only does it reduce the amount of time necessary to avoid a crash, it also increases the risk of crashing and makes the crash more severe if it does occur. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), when speed increases from 40 mph to 60 mph, the energy released in a crash more than doubles. Simply slowing down and obeying posted speed limits can go a long way toward making the roads safer.

When traffic gets heavy, resist the urge to succumb to aggressive driving.

5. Aggressive Driving

Exactly what is an aggressive driver? According to the New York State Police, it’s anyone who:

“Operates a motor vehicle in a selfish, bold or pushy manner, without regard for the rights or safety of the other users of the streets and highways.” This includes behaviors such as:

  • Aggressive tailgating
  • Flashing lights at other drivers because you’re irritated at them
  • Aggressive or rude gestures
  • Deliberately preventing another driver from moving their vehicle
  • Verbal abuse
  • Physical assaults
  • Disregarding traffic signals
  • Changing lanes frequently or in an unsafe manner
  • Failure to yield the right of way

If you come across an aggressive driver, the New York State Police gives these tips to protect yourself:

  • Remain calm
  • Keep your distance
  • Do not pass unless you have to
  • Change lanes once it is safe
  • If you cannot change lanes and an aggressive driver is behind you, stay where you are, maintain the proper speed and do not respond with hostile gestures
  • If the situation is serious, you may call 911 to report an aggressive driver

6. Weather.

Inclement weather, including heavy rain, hail, snowstorms, ice, high winds and fog can make driving more difficult. You’ll need more time to stop and may have trouble seeing the road clearly, so when the weather gets bad be sure to leave extra room between the car in front of you and slow down. If necessary, pull off the road to a rest stop (or to the side of the road, well out of the traffic lanes) until conditions improve.

What To Do If You Get Into An Accident


But first, here’s what to do before an accident.

The best way to deal with an accident is to be prepared for one. Here are some things you can do to right now to make sure you’re ready for the unpredictable.

  • Keep a vehicle safety kit in your car.
  • Put your most important info in the glovebox (ID cards, vehicle registration, emergency contacts, health insurance cards, etc.)
  • Make sure your phone is charged and download the GEICO Mobile App. It’ll come in super-handy at the accident scene and throughout the car repair process.

At The Accident Scene

Be sure to:

  • Move your car to a safe nearby location, but be careful not to leave the scene.
  • Check to see if anyone is hurt and call 911 for medical assistance.
  • Contact the police. They’ll let you know if an officer needs to be present.
  • If your car isn’t drivable, you can request roadside assistance.

What information should you exchange?

First, don’t reveal your policy limits or admit fault to anyone other than GEICO. Jot down or use the GEICO Mobile App’s Accident Assistance feature to collect the following information:

  • Names, phone numbers, addresses and email addresses of all occupants and witnesses
  • Location
  • Photos of the accident scene and all vehicles involved
  • Company name, policy number and phone number for other insurance companies
  • If emergency services respond: police report number, phone number, officer name and badge number, etc.

Report A Claim

You can report a claim online, through your smartphone using the GEICO Mobile App, or by calling us at 1-800-841-3000.

What happens next?

First, you’ll make an appointment to get a vehicle damage estimate at one of our inspection sites. If your car isn’t safe to drive, we’ll send a GEICO adjuster to look at your car at the location where it has been towed. You don’t have to meet with our adjuster at the tow location unless you want to. This appointment typically takes about 30 minutes.

About The Car Repair Process

You can have your vehicle repaired anywhere you wish. If you’d like our help when choosing a repair shop, consider and Auto Repair Xpress® location. You’ll get convenient and guaranteed repairs.

The adjuster and shop will begin the repair process as soon as you drop off your vehicle at the Auto Repair Xpress facility, and you’ll get regular updates on your car’s repair progress. The whole process relieves you of stress and inconvenience!

Report a new claim online or access your claim today to see if your appointment can be scheduled online.

Need some new brakes?

Need Brakes

Need Brakes

Winter Maintenance


Winter Maintenance


Driving through floods


How To Pick The Right Motor Oil For Your Car

How To Pick The Right Motor Oil For Your Car
To pick the appropriate oil for your car’s engine, just follow the star.
By Paul Weissler

Oil Change Grahams

It might seem simple to pick engine oil for your car. You just look for the starburst symbol that indicates the oil has been tested and meets the standards of the American Petroleum Institute (API). In addition, there’s a 2-character service designation on the container. API’s latest service standard is “SL.” SL refers to a group of laboratory and engine tests, including the latest series for control of high-temperature deposits. Your third task is to pick the viscosity (thickness) that’s suitable for the temperatures your vehicle normally operates in (check your owners manual), and you’re done. Well, not quite. There’s a whole lot more to the story than that.

These are the labels you’ll find on every container of reputable motor oil. The API donut on the right tells you if the oil meets the current SL service rating (C for diesel engines). It also provides the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) viscosity number and tells you if the oil has passed the Energy Conserving test. The starburst symbol on the left indicates that the oil has passed the tests listed for SL service.

Is oil really the lifeblood of an engine? That’s a long-popular analogy, but it’s really not an accurate description. Blood carries nutrients to cells, but it’s air that carries fuel–the “nutrition”–for an engine. However, without oil to lubricate and cool moving parts, keep them clean and help to seal the pistons in the cylinders, the engine would run for only a matter of seconds–then sieze. So, yes, oil is important.

Oil is so important that we want no less than the best the engine can get–for a good low price, of course. Now, what if you could custom-blend the oil so it had exactly the characteristics you believe that your vehicle needs for the type of driving you do?

Sounds pretty neat, and we were given the opportunity to do just that at the Valvoline lab in Lexington, Ky. When we were finished, we had an oil we thought would be just right for upcoming summer weather in short-trip driving around the New York City area.

That was our one shot at playing lubricant scientist, but the experience produced only enough oil for a top-up. So at the next oil change, we’ll have to pick from an off-the-shelf assortment–like everyone else. But we think we’ll do a better job of selection now, thanks to a short course in engine oil blending from Valvoline Technical Director Thomas Smith. Here’s what we learned.


Viscosity (a fluid’s resistance to flow) is rated at 0° F (represented by the number preceding the “W” [for Winter]) and at 212° F (represented by the second number in the viscosity designation). So 10W-30 oil has less viscosity when cold and hot than does 20W-50. Motor oil thins as it heats and thickens as it cools. So, with the right additives to help it resist thinning too much, an oil can be rated for one viscosity when cold, another when hot. The more resistant it is to thinning, the higher the second number (10W-40 versus 10W-30, for example) and that’s good. Within reason, thicker oil generally seals better and maintains a better film of lubrication between moving parts.

At the low-temperature end, oil has to be resistant to thickening so that it flows more easily to all the moving parts in your engine. Also, if the oil is too thick the engine requires more energy to turn the crankshaft, which is partly submerged in a bath of oil. Excessive thickness can make it harder to start the engine, which reduces fuel economy. A 5W oil is typically what’s recommended for winter use. However, synthetic oils can be formulated to flow even more easily when cold, so they are able to pass tests that meet the 0W rating.

Once the engine is running, the oil heats up. The second number in the viscosity rating–the “40” in 10W-40, for example–tells you that the oil will stay thicker at high temperatures than one with a lower second number–the “30” in 10W-30, for example. What’s really important is that you use the oil viscosity your car’s owner’s manual recommends.

Why So Many Oils?

Look on the shelves in auto parts stores and you’ll see oils labeled for all kinds of specific purposes: high-tech engines, new cars, higher-mileage vehicles, heavy-duty/off-road SUVs. In addition, you’ll see a wide selection of viscosities. If you read your owner’s manual, you’ll know what the car manufacturer recommends for a brand-new vehicle. The manual may include a reference to Energy Conserving oils, which simply means that the oil has passed a lab test against a reference oil. It’s no guarantee of better fuel economy, but most of the leading brands have at least some viscosities that are so labeled. Let’s take a look at the different types.

Premium Conventional Oil: This is the standard new-car oil. All leading brands have one for service level SL, available in several viscosities. The carmakers usually specify a 5W-20 or 5W-30 oil, particularly for lower temperatures, with a 10W-30 oil as optional, particularly for higher ambient temperatures. These three ratings cover just about every light-duty vehicle on the road. Even more important, though, is changing the oil and filter regularly. A 4000 miles/4 months interval is good practice. The absolute minimum is twice a year. If your car has an electronic oil-change indicator on the instrument cluster, don’t exceed its warning.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Full Synthetic Oil: The oils made for high-tech engines, whether in a Chevy Corvette or Mercedes-Benz, are full synthetics. If these oils pass stringent special tests (indicated by their labeling), it means they have superior, longer-lasting performance in all the critical areas, from viscosity index to protection against deposits. They flow better at low temperatures and maintain peak lubricity at high temperatures. So why shouldn’t everyone use them? Answer: These oils are expensive and not every engine needs them. In fact, there may be some features that your car’s engine needs that the synthetics don’t have. Again, follow your owner’s manual.

Synthetic Blend Oil: These have a dose of synthetic oil mixed with organic oil, and overall are formulated to provide protection for somewhat heavier loads and high temperatures. This generally means they’re less volatile, so they evaporate far less, which reduces oil loss (and increases fuel economy). They’re popular with drivers of pickups/SUVs who want the high-load protection. And they’re a lot less expensive than full synthetics, maybe just pennies more than a premium conventional oil.

Higher Mileage Oil: Today’s vehicles last longer, and if you like the idea of paying off the car and running the mileage well into six figures, you have another oil choice, those formulated for higher-mileage vehicles. Almost two-thirds of the vehicles on the road have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer. So the oil refiners have identified this as an area of customer interest, and have new oils they’re recommending for these vehicles.

When your car or light truck/SUV is somewhat older and has considerably more mileage, you may notice a few oil stains on the garage floor. It’s about this time that you need to add a quart more often than when the vehicle was new. Crankshaft seals may have hardened and lost their flexibility, so they leak (particularly at low temperatures) and may crack. The higher-mileage oils are formulated with seal conditioners that flow into the pores of the seals to restore their shape and increase their flexibility. In most cases, rubber seals are designed to swell just enough to stop leaks. But the oil refiners pick their “reswelling” ingredients carefully. Valvoline showed us the performance data of one good seal conditioner that swelled most seal materials, but actually reduced swelling of one type that tended to swell excessively from the ingredients found in some other engine oils.

You also may have noticed some loss of performance and engine smoothness as a result of engine wear on your higher-mileage vehicle. These higher-mileage oils also have somewhat higher viscosities. (Even if the numbers on the container don’t indicate it, there’s a fairly wide range for each viscosity rating and the higher-mileage oils sit at the top of each range.) They also may have more viscosity-index improvers in them. The result? They seal piston-to-cylinder clearances better, and won’t squeeze out as readily from the larger engine bearing clearances. They also may have a higher dose of antiwear additives to try to slow the wear process.

If you have an older vehicle, all of these features may mean more to you than what you might get from a full synthetic, and at a fraction the price.

Beyond that, there’s plenty more to the oil story. Read on.

Viscosity Index

Resistance to thinning with increasing temperature is called viscosity index. And although a higher second number is good, the oil also has to be robust. That is, it must be able to last for thousands of miles until the next oil change. For example, oil tends to lose viscosity from shear, the sliding motion between close-fitted metal surfaces of moving parts such as bearings. So resistance to viscosity loss (shear stability) is necessary to enable the oil to maintain the lubricating film between those parts.

Unlike antifreeze, 95 percent of which is made up of one base chemical (typically ethylene glycol), petroleum-type engine oil contains a mixture of several different types of base oil, some more expensive than others. Oil companies typically pick from a selection of five groups, each of which is produced in a different way and in different viscosities. The more expensive groups are more highly processed, in some cases with methods that produce a lubricant that can be classified as a synthetic. The so-called full synthetics contain chemicals that may be derived from petroleum but they’re altered so much that they’re not considered natural oil anymore. Our custom blend contained 10 percent polyalphaolefins (PAO), the type of chemical that’s often the primary ingredient in a full synthetic.

The base oil package in any oil makes up anywhere from 70 to 95 percent of the mix, the rest comprised of additives. Does that mean an oil with just 70 percent base oils is better than one with 95 percent. No, because some of the base oils have natural characteristics or ones that derive from their processing, which reduces or eliminates the need for additives. And although some additives make important contributions to lubrication, by themselves don’t necessarily have great lubricity.

The ingredients in an additive package differ in cost, as we said, but price is just one factor. Some work better in certain combinations of base oils, and some of the less-expensive base oils are a good choice for a blend because of the way they perform with popular additives. Bottom line: every motor oil has a recipe. Refiners come up with a list of objectives based on the needs of their customers (the carmakers, for example) and formulate oil to meet those goals as best they can.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Now, keeping an oil from thinning as it gets hot while it takes a beating from engine operation is one thing. But it’s also important to keep oil from getting too thick. Using premium base oils for low volatility–to prevent evaporation–is one approach. Evaporation of the base oil package not only increases oil consumption, it results in thicker oil (which decreases fuel economy).

Oil Additives

Use of additives is another approach to improving and maintaining oil performance. High engine temperatures combine with moisture, combustion byproducts (including unburned gasoline), rust, corrosion, engine wear particles and oxygen to produce sludge and varnish. The additives not only assist oil in maintaining good lubrication, they also help minimize sludge and varnish, and any damage from their formation. Here are the categories of key additive ingredients and why they’re important:

• Viscosity-index improvers: Reduce the oil’s tendency to thin with increasing temperature.

• Detergents: Unlike the household type, they don’t scrub engine surfaces. They do remove some deposits, primarily solids. But their main purpose is to keep the surfaces clean by inhibiting the formation of high-temperature deposits, rust and corrosion.

• Dispersants: Disperse solid particles, keeping them in solution, so they don’t come together to form sludge, varnish and acids. Some additives work both as detergents and dispersants.

• Antiwear agents: There are times when the lubricating film breaks down, so the antiwear agents have to protect the metal surfaces. A zinc and phosphorus compound called ZDDP is a long-used favorite, along with other phosphorus (and sulphur) compounds. If you musts know, ZDDP stand for zinc diakyl dithiophosphate.

• Friction modifiers: These aren’t the same as antiwear agents. They reduce engine friction and, so, can improve fuel economy. Graphite, molybdenum and other compounds are used.

• Pour-point depressants: Just because the 0° F viscosity rating is low doesn’t mean the oil will flow readily at low temperatures. Oil contains wax particles that can congeal and reduce flow, so these additives are used to prevent it.

• Antioxidants: With engine temperatures being pushed up for better emissions control, the antioxidants are needed to prevent oxidation (and, therefore, thickening) of oil. Some of the additives that perform other functions also serve this purpose, such as the antiwear agents.

• Foam inhibitors: The crankshaft whipping through the oil in the pan causes foaming. Oil foam is not as effective a lubricant as a full-liquid stream, so the inhibitors are used to cause the foam bubbles to collapse.

• Rust/corrosion inhibitors: Protect metal parts from acids and moisture.

More Is Not Better

You can’t necessarily improve an oil by putting in more additives. In fact, you can make things worse. For example, sulphur compounds have antiwear, antioxidation characteristics, but they can reduce fuel economy and affect catalytic converter operation. Too much of a particular detergent could affect the antiwear balance. Too much of a specific dispersant could affect catalyst performance and reduce fuel economy. Antiwear and friction-reducing additives also may have ingredients (such as sulphur) that could affect catalyst performance.

There’s a lot of pressure on the oil industry to reduce sulphur content in oil as well as gasoline. But the industry’s resistance is understandable when you consider the delicate balancing act it must perform with each revolution of your car’s engine.

border=”1″ cellspacing=”2″ cellpadding=”0″>
Gasoline EnginesCategory
For all automotive engines presently in use. Introduced July 1, 2001. SL oils are designed to provide better high-temperature deposit control and lower oil consumption. Some of these oils may also meet the latest ILSAC specification and/or qualify as Energy Conserving.
For 2001 and older automotive engines.
For 1996 and older engines. Valid when preceeded by current C categories.
For 1993 and older engines.
For 1988 and older engines.
For 1979 and older engines.
For 1971 and older engines.
For 1967 and older engines.
For older engines. Use only when specifically recommended by the manufacturer.
For older engines; no performance requirement. Use only when specifically recommended by the manufacturer.

border=”1″ cellspacing=”2″ cellpadding=”0″>
Diesel EnginesCategory
Introduced December 1, 1998. For high-speed, four-stroke engines designed to meet 1998 exhaust emission standards. CH-4 oils are specifically compounded for use with diesel fuels ranging in sulfur content up to 0.5% weight. Can be used in place of CD, CE, CF-4, and CG-4 oils.
Introduced in 1995. For severe-duty, high-speed, four-stroke engines using fuel with less than 0.5% weight sulfur. CG-4 oils are required for engines meeting 1994 emission standards. Can be used in place of CD, CE, and CF-4 oils.
Introduced in 1990. For high-speed, four-stroke, naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines. Can be used in place of CD and CE oils.
Introduced in 1994. For severe-duty, two-stroke engines. Can be used in place of CD-II oils.
Introduced in 1994. For off-road, indirect-injected and other diesel engines including those using fuel with over 0.5% weight sulfur. Can be used in place of CD oils.
Introduced in 1987. For high-speed, four-stroke, naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines. Can be used in place of CC and CD oils.
Introduced in 1987. For two-stroke engines.
Introduced in 1955. For certain naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines.
For engines introduced in 1961.
For moderate-duty engines from 1949 to 1960.
For light-duty engines (1940s and 1950s).

Notice: API intentionally omitted “SI” and “SK” from the sequence of categories because the letters are commonly associated with other organizations or systems. This guide is provided as a service to the motoring public courtesy of the American Petroleum Institute. For more information about the API Engine Oil Program, call the American Petroleum Institute at 202-682-8516 or visit its Web site at

EPA says Volkswagen intentionally violates clean air standards


The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that Volkswagen intentionally skirted clean air laws by using a piece of software that enabled about 500,000 of its diesel cars to emit fewer smog-causing pollutants during testing than in real-world driving conditions.

The agency ordered VW to fix the cars at its own expense. The German automaker also faces billions of dollars in fines, although exact amounts were not determined.

The cars, all built in the last seven years, include the VW Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat models, as well as the Audi A3. The vehicles all contain a device programmed to detect when they are undergoing official emissions testing, the EPA said. The cars only turn on full emissions control systems during that testing. The controls are turned off during normal driving situations, the EPA said, allowing the cars to emit more than the legal limit of pollutants.

The EPA called the company’s use of the so-called “defeat device” illegal and a threat to public health.

“EPA is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant EPA administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance.

The EPA called on VW to fix the cars’ emissions systems, but said car owners do not need to take any immediate action. The violations do not present a safety hazard and the cars remain legal to drive and sell while Volkswagen comes up with a plan to recall and repair them, the EPA said.

VW, which also owns Audi, said in a statement it is cooperating with the investigation, but declined further comment.

The EPA said VW faces fines of up to $37,500 per vehicle for the violations – a total of more than $18 billion. No final total was announced. California issued a separate compliance order to VW, and officials announced an investigation by the California Air Resources Board.

Despite the seriousness of the violation, the EPA said VW will be given “a reasonable amount of time to develop a plan to complete the repairs,” including both the repair procedure and manufacture of any needed parts.

It could take up to a year to identify corrective actions, develop a recall plan and issue recall notices, the EPA said.

Environmental groups hailed the EPA and California for moving aggressively to enforce clean air laws.

“The charges here are truly appalling: that Volkswagen knowingly installed software that produced much higher smog-forming emissions from diesel vehicles in the real world than in pre-sale tests,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, a Washington-based advocacy group.

O’Donnell accused VW of “cheating not just car buyers but the breathing public.” He said the charges undercut industry rhetoric about “clean diesel” cars.

The Volkswagens likely perform better with the emissions controls defeated than they do with them on, said Aaron Bragman, Detroit bureau chief for the automotive shopping and research site. Otherwise, he said, there would be no reason to have a setting that turns on the controls for tests and turns them off for regular driving.

“Obviously it’s changing the way the engine operates somehow that may not be pleasing to consumers,” he said. “It would follow that it would put it into a very different feel in terms of operation of the vehicle.”

But Bragman said other countries may allow different modes for testing and normal driving.

The allegations cover roughly 482,000 diesel passenger cars sold in the United States since 2008. Affected models include:

– Jetta (model years 2009-15)

– Beetle (model years 2009-15)

– Audi A3 (model years 2009-15)

– Golf (model years 2009-15)

– Passat (model years 2014-15)

9 Ways to Prepare Your Car for Winter Weather

prepare you car for winter

9 Ways to Prepare Your Car for Winter Weather

Prepare Your Car For WinterWinterizing your vehicle is a wise idea, says the Car Care Council.  An investment of an hour or two to have your vehicle checked is all it takes to have peace of mind and help avoid the cost and hassle of a breakdown during severe weather.

“The last thing any driver needs is a vehicle that breaks down in cold, harsh winter weather,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “A vehicle check before the temperatures drop is a sensible way to avoid the inconvenience of being stranded out in the cold and with the unexpected expense of emergency repairs.”

The Car Care Council recommends the following nine steps for winterizing your vehicle.

  1. Have the battery and charging system checked for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries.
  2. Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
  3. Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
  4. Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
  5. Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to “winter weight” oil if you live in a cold climate. Have your technician check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
  6. If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
  7. Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.
  8. Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
  9. Check to see that exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed.

Watch the Winter Car Care Minute video here!

Motorists should also keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. Drivers should check the tire pressure of the spare in the trunk and stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blanket, extra clothes, candles/matches, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council’s Car Care Guide or for more information, visit

Porsche and Audi are hoping to challenge Tesla in the luxury electric car market, but Elon Musk can sleep easy for now. Both are still years away from production.


Porsche unveiled its first all-electric concept car at the Frankfurt auto show Tuesday. It looks like a futuristic version of the Porsche 911.

The German sports car maker boasts that the four-door Mission E will be able to drive roughly 310 miles on a single charge. The new model should take just 15 minutes to charge to about 80% of its capacity.

That would be significantly faster than market leader Tesla (TSLA), which requires about 30 minutes to reach the same level of charge.

Plus, the Mission E boasts a longer range than Tesla’s Model S. It should run for 250 miles after a 15-minute charge versus 170 miles from a 30-minute charge.

Still, Tesla has a few years to close that gap.

A Porsche spokesperson told CNNMoney that production of the car would be “feasible within the near future,” but noted that it may take five years for battery technology to advance sufficiently.
porsche electric car mission e 1
Porsche’s Mission E concept car is an electric, four-door vehicle that could go head-to-head with Tesla’s Model S.

The concept is part of a bigger push by Porsche parent Volkswagen (VLKAY) into electric vehicles. VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said the group is planning to roll out 20 more electric cars and plug-in hybrids by 2020.

“No commitment to electro-mobility can be any clearer than that,” said Winterkorn, who oversees brands including Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti.

Audi unveiled a new all-electric SUV concept vehicle called the e‑tron quattro last month. It will have the same driving range as the Porsche Mission E, and production will begin in 2018.

Related: My weekend with the world’s richest car collectors

The Mission E will offer features such as gesture-activated controls, eye-tracking controls and some holographic images around the dashboard.
porsche electric car mission e 2
The interior of the Porsche Mission E concept car.

Unlike its competition, the car can also be charged wirelessly.

Porsche said drivers will be able to park over a coil embedded in the floor of their garage and energy will transfer to the battery without cables.

And you can’t talk about Porsche without talking about speed. The car should go from zero to 60 in under 3.5 seconds.
porsche electric car mission e 3
The Porsche Mission E concept car.

10 Statistics That Capture The Dangers of Texting and Driving

texting and driving

On June 8, a report was released stating that Tennessee bus crash that left two young girls and a teacher’s aide dead last December was the result of texting and driving. James Davenport, the driver of the bus, was found dead in his home on June 1.

While this story is tragic, texting and driving is far from unusual. A staggering 49 percent of adults admit to texting and driving, even though 98 percent of adults say they know the practice is unsafe.

Below are 10 statistics that show how dangerous texting and driving really is.



Number of Americans killed every day from motor vehicle accidents that involved distracted driving, such as using a cellphone, texting or eating.

1 in 4


The probability that a motor vehicle crash involved a cellphone.



The percentage of teens who say they have been a passenger in a car whose driver used a cellphone in a way that put them in danger.



The percentage of U.S. drivers ages 18 to 64 who reported reading or writing text messages while driving in the previous month. In comparison, only 15 percent of drivers from Spain reported texting while driving in the same period.



Number of motor vehicle crashes in 2013 that involved texting.



How much using a cellphone while driving increases the risk of a crash.



Number of seconds a driver can safely glance away from the road while operating a motor vehicle.



Number of seconds drivers take their eyes off the road to send a text message, on average.



Number of states (plus Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) where texting is banned for all drivers, regardless of age.

21 – 24


Age group most likely to send a text or email message while driving, according to a 2012 survey.

Seasonal Car Care Tips from Colony Tire

Tire Maintenance

Fall vehicle maintenance checklist:

Fall checklist

Get your car ready for fall and winter.

Fall vehicle maintenance checklist: help your vehicle adjust to seasonal changes by completing this preventative maintenance checklist.

You may not associate fall as a prime time to complete a seasonal preventative maintenance checklist. But, while most of the items on this checklist are geared toward winter driving, it’s much smarter and easier to do them during fall when the weather is milder and less threatening. That’s especially true if you live in the northern half of the country or in higher elevations.

So, let’s get started!

Fall Vehicle Maintenance Checklist: be prepared!

  1. Check your oil level, and add oil if necessary; it’s even better if you perform an oil and lube job. Be sure to use a multi-grade viscosity oil for winter driving.
  2. Test your battery for free at any of our auto parts stores. If it needs to be replaced, Advance Auto Parts will install the new battery for no extra fee.
  3. Inspect your windshield wipers. Bitter cold, snow and ice are hard on their rubber blades. You can find blades designed for winter at Advance Auto Parts stores. We’ll install those for free, too.
  4. Fill your windshield wiper reservoir with the proper type of windshield fluid for your climate.
  5. Look at the level and condition of your engine coolant. If the level is low, add antifreeze. If the condition looks poor, do a flush-and-fill.
  6. Evaluate your belts and hoses. If you see any evidence of fraying, cracking or leaking, get a new belt or hose immediately.
  7. Consider getting a tune-up, especially if it’s been 30,000 miles or so since your last one. At the least, perform a visual inspection of your spark plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor.
  8. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. When dealing with sloppy or icy road conditions, you’ll need the best traction your tires can deliver. If your tires are worn, replace them before winter arrives.
  9. Apply high-grade car wax to your vehicle’s exterior to help protect it from the possible onslaught of snow, ice, sleet and freezing rain.
  10. Put together a winter car survival kit. Jumper cables, flares, ice scrapers, road salt, flashlights, flares, blankets, first aid materials and snacks are all good to include in your kit.

2015 Volkswagen Golf is the 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year


2015 Volkswagen Golf is the 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year

Car for the Course: Our Champion is a Jackrabbit of All Trades

By | Photos By | From the January 2015 issue of Motor Trend  |

It might be hard to believe, but in a four-decade lifespan, Volkswagen’s Golf has only run away with our Golden Calipers once before, in 1985. Also interesting is the fact that the GTI that won our Car of the Year award 30 years ago was deemed our “domestic” COTY at a time when we still categorized imported cars into their own award. The domestic tag was because the 1985 GTI was constructed at Volkswagen’s now-defunct Pennsylvania plant, which was shuttered three years later. A lot has changed in the intervening years. Volkswagen is once again producing cars in the U.S., and the Volkswagen Golf, including the GTI, is once again our Car of the Year. For 2015, the Golf was a near-unanimous choice among our judges by virtue of its strong performance in each of our six Car of the Year criteria.

More on

Advancement in Design

While we admit that the 2015 Golf won’t make the average freeway-goer take much notice, the devil’s in the details. With crisply sculpted bodywork that’s nearly an inch lower, two inches longer, and a half-inch wider than its predecessor’s, the new Golf looks sleeker and sportier than the car it replaces. There are no superfluous lines, no gimmicky details; this makes the Golf one of the few cars in its segment that is able to appeal visually to both younger and more mature demographics. “Exquisite execution of lines and surface,” said our guest judge in design, Tom Gale. The interior is equally impressive, with refinement and attention to detail apparent everywhere — from the revamped 5.8-inch touchscreen display, to the supportive seats and clear instrumentation, to the cloth-lined door pockets normally found only in higher-end vehicles. We also appreciated classic touches such as the golf-ball-styled shift knob and available tartan upholstery in the GTI. Read about 2015 Car of the Year Contenders and Finalists here.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Front Rear Three Quarters


Weight reduction and improved engine efficiency have resulted in fuel economy gains for both the TSI and GTI models with their respective 1.8- and 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 gas engines. Even more impressive, Volkswagen has also included room in the lineup for diesel and electric versions of the Golf. The Golf TDI and its 2.0-liter turbo-diesel inline-four return an EPA combined rating of 36 mpg, while the e-Golf has an EPA-estimated range of 83 miles. The best part is that neither car is a penalty box to drive. What the TDI lacks in horsepower it mostly makes up for in torque. While it didn’t feel quite as quick as the TSI, it was no slouch for a C-segment car.

No matter which Golf variant we jumped into, we emerged with smiles on our faces.

With several electric vehicles present at this year’s COTY event, the e-Golf was lauded for driving and feeling most like a “normal” car. Indeed, it’s tough to distinguish the e-Golf visually from its internal-combustion counterparts, inside or out. We also enjoyed the driving experience. The chassis feels as willing and playful as the other variants, while the electric motor provides an instantaneous 199 lb-ft of torque, rocketing the e-Golf forward. Best of all, interior and cargo room appear to suffer little thanks to clever battery packaging.

Engineering Excellence

To preface, a selection of lines from editors’ notebooks: “Feels so incredibly well-built.” “A remarkable degree of refinement for a mainstream, C-segment car.” “Light feeling chassis with tons of grip.” “Rides and feels like a segment above.” The basis for these comments lies in Volkswagen’s new MQB modular front-engine, front-wheel-drive vehicle architecture—a platform that will underpin dozens of new vehicles. All told, MQB is said to save around 200 pounds over the previous-generation Golf, reductions coming from such a range of places as the body (made of 80 percent high-strength steel for a 51-pound savings), to the seats (15 pounds lighter), to the air-conditioning system (6 pounds lighter). All this despite a larger body that pays dividends in cabin space, especially in the rear seat and cargo areas.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Tdi Front Three Quarter In Motion

No matter which Golf variant we jumped into, we emerged with smiles on our faces. And while each obviously catered to different priorities, they all share the same solid build quality, taut structure, and remarkable ride that make them feel like a premium vehicle in an entry-level segment. In-cabin noise was minimal in every variant, and even the sportiest Golf, the GTI, refused to beat us up over days of hammering Hyundai Proving Grounds’ unforgiving special surfaces loop. We were also impressed with the powertrains in our Golf variants — from the TDI’s torquey low-end surge to the GTI’s rev-happy rush, there wasn’t a dud in the group. While the throws could have been a little shorter on the TDI’s six-speed manual gearbox, we adored the GTI’s six-speed action, which really connects driver to car. The TSI’s 1.8-liter turbocharged I-4 must vie for the title of best standard engine in its segment, sharing the same EA888 series design as its GTI sibling. Moreover, its six-speed torque-converter automatic shifted quick enough to have more than one editor wondering if it were actually a snazzy twin-clutch auto.

Performance of Intended Function

Every Golf we had on hand was made for a different customer with different priorities. From eco-friendly tech lovers, to fuel misers, to canyon road carvers, to A-to-B commuters, our four variants excelled in their individual ways while still feeling similar. Better yet, each did this at a price point that belies its premium feel, a major Volkswagen brand goal.

More on

A key point of the hatchback is practicality. Such a design maximizes available space in any vehicle, but especially so in smaller ones. Volkswagen’s experience with hatchbacks has benefited the latest Golf with more cargo space than the outgoing model, according to VW, and a real rear seat that fit even our tallest testers comfortably. We’d venture to say that there’s more apparent cabin space in the Golf than in some midsize sedans.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Tsi Front Three Quarter In Motion

In recent months, we had the opportunity to subject two different 2015 Golf models to in-depth comparison tests. To that end, the 2015 Golf TSI won our entry-level four-door hatchback Big Test, ahead of four of its competitors, including the beloved Mazda3. And the 2015 GTI won our four-way small, sporty car shootout, which included the stout Subaru WRX. Of course, we haven’t even seen the end of the Mk7 Golf line yet. In 2015, would-be racers will be able to buy a new Golf R with all-wheel drive, a dual-clutch transmission, and nearly 300 horsepower. Luckily, we already tested a European-spec R whose 0-60 run of 4.9 seconds and average lateral acceleration of 0.97 g were reminders of this car’s lofty capabilities. More interested in hauling stuff around? VW will also be launching the longer Golf SportWagen, offering 10 percent more cargo room than the outgoing Jetta SportWagen, giving it the kind of versatility that will rival that of compact crossovers. A Golf for every driver? Sure seems that way.


All 2015 Golf models come standard with six airbags, stability control, and Volkswagen’s automatic post-collision braking system, which activates the brakes after a crash is detected by the airbag sensors to help minimize further damage. Of course, that may not be needed at all if buyers choose the optional Driver Assistance Package, which includes a forward-collision warning system. That system’s availability, along with ratings of Good in each of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s five crash evals (including the newly standardized small-overlap frontal test), earned it an IIHS Top Safety Pick + rating — the highest possible. The Golf hasn’t been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but it is expected to earn another impressive score.

2015 Volkswagen E Golf Front Three Quarter In Motion


With a base price of $19,815 for the standard Golf S (a limited-offer Launch Edition is $1,000 less), it’s true that the Golf isn’t the cheapest C-segment vehicle available in the U.S. But for that price, buyers get the kind of ride and build quality, engineering proficiency, and design details that go beyond the norm for the entry-level segment. Further, the starting prices of the other variants on hand — $22,815 for a TDI, $25,215 for a GTI, and $36,265 for an e-Golf — represent big bang for the buck. The overall look and feel of the Golf rivals premium competitors that cost thousands — even tens of thousands — more. We found this to be true even while driving other 2015 Car of the Year contenders. Volkswagen Group probably doesn’t want to hear it, but few of our editors would pay the price premium for an Audi A3 1.8 over a Golf TSI given the relatively small difference in quality and driving experience. Some would even prefer the Golf’s interior design and roomy cabin to the A3’s if cost were no object. If a trend toward smaller vehicles has shown anything, it’s that buyers want the same tech-laden features, the same build quality, and the same upscale design and feel of their larger cars in their smaller ones. The 2015 Volkswagen Golf is a quality car, a fun car, a grown-up car — a C-segment vehicle that can instill pride of ownership without breaking the bank. And that’s why it’s the 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Gti Front Three Quarter In Motion
2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf
BASE PRICE $21,515 $22,815 $25,215 $36,265
PRICE AS TESTED $28,810 $27,010 $28,215 $36,265
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 2-door hatchback Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE 1.8L/170-hp/200-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 2.0L/150-hp/236-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 16-valve I-4/6M 2.0L/210-hp/258-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4/6M 115-hp/199-lb-ft AC permanent-magnet electric motor/1A
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic 6-speed manual 6-speed manual 1-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,122 lb (60/40%) 3,184 lb (61/39%) 3,101 lb (60/40%) 3,412 lb (55/45%)
WHEELBASE 103.8 in 103.8 in 103.6 in 103.6 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 167.5 x 70.8 x 57.2 in 167.5 x 70.8 x 57.2 in 168.0 x 70.5 x 56.8 in 168.1 x 70.8 x 57.1 in
0-60 MPH 7.8 sec 9.0 sec 5.9 sec 9.1 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.9 sec @ 88.3 mph 17.0 sec @ 83.6 mph 14.5 sec @ 98.3 mph 16.9 sec @ 80.4 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft 117 ft 107 ft 122 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.86 g (avg) 0.80 g (avg) 0.91 g (avg) 0.83 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.2 sec @ 0.65 g (avg) 28.3 sec @ 0.59 g (avg) 26.1 sec @ 0.71 g (avg) 27.9 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 25/36/29 mpg 30/45/36 mpg 25/34/28 mpg 116 mpg-e (comb)
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 135/94 kW-hrs/100 miles 126/84 kW-hrs/100 miles 135/99 kW-hrs/100 miles 27/32 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.67 lb/mile 0.63 lb/mile 0.68 lb/mile 0.00 lb/mi (at vehicle)
2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD Front-engine, FWD
ENGINE TYPE Turbocharged I-4, iron block/alum head Turbodiesel I-4, iron block/alum head
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 109.7 cu in/1798cc 120.1 cu in/1968cc
POWER (SAE NET) 170 hp @ 4500 rpm 150 hp @ 3500 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 200 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm 236 lb-ft @ 1750 rpm
REDLINE 6,000 rpm 5,000 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 18.4 lb/hp 21.2 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic 6-speed manual
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.87:1/2.59:1 3.45:1(1,2,3,4); 2.76:1 (5,6,R)/1.99:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; torsion beam, coil springs
STEERING RATIO 13.6:1 13.6:1
BRAKES, F;R 11.3-in vented disc; 10.7-in disc, ABS 11.3-in vented disc; 10.0-in disc, ABS
WHEELS 7.5 x 18-in, cast aluminum 7.0 x 17-in, cast aluminum
TIRES 225/40R18 92H M+S Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season 225/45R17 91H M+S Continental ContiProContact
WHEELBASE 103.8 in 103.8 in
TRACK, F/R 61.0/59.8 in 61.0/59.8 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 167.5 x 70.8 x 57.2 in 167.5 x 70.8 x 57.2 in
TURNING CIRCLE 35.8 ft 35.8 ft
CURB WEIGHT 3122 lb 3184 lb
WEIGHT DIST., F/R 60/40 % 61/39 %
HEADROOM, F/R 38.4/38.1 in 38.4/38.1 in
LEGROOM, F/R 41.2/35.6 in 41.2/35.6 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 55.9/53.9 in 55.9/53.9 in
CARGO VOLUME BEH F/R 22.8/52.7 cu ft 22.8/52.7 cu ft
0-30 2.7 sec 3.3 sec
0-40 4.1 4.7
0-50 5.7 6.9
0-60 7.8 9.0
0-70 10.1 12.1
0-80 12.9 15.5
0-90 16.6 19.9
0-100 20.9
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 4.1 4.5
QUARTER MILE 15.9 sec @ 88.3 mph 17.0 sec @ 83.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft 117 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.86 g (avg) 0.80 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.2 sec @ 0.65 g (avg) 28.3 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1800 rpm 1650 rpm
BASE PRICE $21,515 $22,815
PRICE AS TESTED $28,810 $27,010
AIRBAGS Dual front, front side, f/r curtain Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY 13.2 gal 13.2 gal
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 25/36/29 mpg 30/45/36 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 135/94 kW-hrs/100 miles 126/84 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.67 lb/mile 0.63 lb/mile
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 23/34/27 34/47/39
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular Diesel
2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf
DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD Front-motor, FWD
ENGINE TYPE Turbocharged I-4, iron block/alum head AC permanent-magnet electric motor
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 121.1 cu in/1984cc
POWER (SAE NET) 210 hp @ 4500 rpm 115 hp
TORQUE (SAE NET) 258 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm 199 lb-ft @ 0 rpm
REDLINE 6000 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 14.8 lb/hp 29.7 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual 1-speed automatic
AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.24:1 (1,2,3,4); 2.62:1 (5,6 R)/2.38:1 3.61:1/9.75:1
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 9.5:1-14.1:1 13.6:1
BRAKES, F;R 12.3-in vented disc; 10.7-in disc, ABS 11.3-in vented disc; 10.7-in disc, ABS
WHEELS 7.5 x 18-in, cast aluminum 6.5 x 16-in, cast aluminum
TIRES 225/40R18 92Y Bridgestone Potenza S001 205/55R16 91H M+S Continental ProContact TX
WHEELBASE 103.6 in 103.6 in
TRACK, F/R 60.6/59.7 in 60.8/59.5 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 168.0 x 70.5 x 56.8 in 168.1 x 70.8 x 57.1 in
TURNING CIRCLE 35.8 ft 35.8 ft
CURB WEIGHT 3101 lb 3412 lb
WEIGHT DIST., F/R 60/40 % 55/45 %
HEADROOM, F/R 38.4/38.1 in 38.4/38.1 in
LEGROOM, F/R 41.2/35.6 in 41.2/35.6 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 55.9/53.9 in 55.9/53.9 in
CARGO VOLUME BEH F/R 22.8/52.7 cu ft 22.8/52.7 cu ft
0-30 2.3 sec 2.8 sec
0-40 3.5 4.3
0-50 4.6 6.4
0-60 5.9 9.1
0-70 7.8 12.5
0-80 9.7 16.8
0-90 11.9
0-100 15.0
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 2.7 5.4
QUARTER MILE 14.5 sec @ 98.3 mph 16.9 sec @ 80.4 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 107 ft 122 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.91 g (avg) 0.83 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.1 sec @ 0.71 g (avg) 27.9 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 2050 rpm 8,200 rpm
BASE PRICE $25,215 $36,265
PRICE AS TESTED $28,215 $36,265
AIRBAGS Dual front, front side, f/r curtain Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles
ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles
FUEL CAPACITY 13.2 gal 0.7 gallon equivalent (24.2 kW-hr)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 25/34/28 mpg 116 mpg-e (comb)
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 135/99 kW-hrs/100 miles 29 kW-hrs/100 mi (comb)
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.68 lb/mile 0.00 lb/mi (at vehicle)
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium 220-volt electricity, 110-volt electricity

View All

Next Article
You May Also Like

2015 Volkswagen Golf is the 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year

2015 Volkswagen Golf is the 2015 Motor Trend Car of ..

2012 Motor Trend Car of the Year: Contenders and Finalists - Motor Trend

2012 Motor Trend Car of the Year: Contenders and ..

2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contenders, Finalists - Motor Trend

2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contenders, Finalists ..

Introduction and Contenders - 2009 Motor Trend Car Of The Year Introduction and Award Contenders - Motor Trend

Introduction and Contenders – 2009 Motor Trend Car Of ..

YELP can make or break a local business… this is a must read for business owners

Review Grahams on YELP

This restaurant’s response to bad Yelp review is the toast of Instagram

When Jeff Brown’s restaurant received an online review he thought was particularly unfair this summer, he went big with his response. Really big.

The critique, on Facebook, came from David Yow, a retired civil engineering technician in Virginia Beach who wasn’t happy with his breakfast at Cotton Southern Bistro in Virginia Beach one morning in June.

Yow ordered country ham, but got only “a sliver of meat.” And “a single slice of toast. One slice? Really?” Yow sent back the ham and got corned beef hash as a replacement. “Couldn’t eat that either,” he said. And the grits “were a long, long, long ways off from being a true Southern offering,”

Overall, “it had to be the WORST breakfast I have ever, ever had,” he concluded.

Brown said he recalled Yow eating plenty of his food. The ham was a high-grade substitute that Yow had requested for the bacon, he said. And the toast was a slice of “big, thick country bread.”

Brown was struck by the intensity of the review: “The worst breakfast he ever had? That’s setting a high bar.”

The restaurant owner tried to one-up the critic. The next day, the marquee outside the restaurant read: “COME TRY THE WORST BREAKFAST DAVID YOW HAS EVER HAD.”

“It went all over Instagram,” Brown said. “People rallied behind it. We were slammed.”

Yow’s reaction to Brown’s counterattack?

“I thought it was kind of humorous,” he said this month. “I wasn’t offended.”

Yow stands by his critique, “but I’m sorry it got to the point it did. I didn’t mean for it to go there. If I met him on the street today, I would apologize.”

Aftermarket Versus Manufacturer Car Parts

After Market Parts

Aftermarket Versus Manufacturer Car Parts

Is the Extra Cost Worth It?

Cut Down Your Car Repair Bill With Free Fixes

Car repairs

Cut Down Your Car Repair Bill With Free Fixes

When the Chen family of Silver Spring, Maryland, took their 2011 Toyota Sienna in for new brake pads, they found themselves facing a decision no family wants to make: Christmas present or car repairs.

“We love it and we’ve driven it on many family road trips, but it is just out of warranty and it’s starting to need repairs,” Sandie Chen said.

Save big on your car-repair bills

Avoid being taking for a ride by your mechanic

What to know before you go to a mechanic’s garage

The “Real Money” team brought in auto expert Charlie Romero, founder of, to help the family’s repair bills from spinning out of control.

Romero shared the following tips with the family of five and help save them more than $1,000.

1. Find free fixes. In addition to safety recalls, carmakers occasionally publish service bulletins to fix problems found in their cars.

“The dealers and manufacturers might not necessarily want you to know because it’s not a safety issue,” he said. “It will cost them but it’ll save you a lot of money.”

The “Real Money” team found that certain Honda Civics qualified for free paint repair and some Chrysler minivans might receive improved front wheel bearings, which dealerships would install for free.

For the Chens’ Toyota Sienna, the team found they could save up to $450 in free fixes by plugging their car’s VIN in Under the vehicle owner tab, a car owner can put in the make and model of a vehicle and find out about pending recalls as well as service bulletins.

A device called CarMd also uses the same basic technology that a mechanic’s large, expensive scanner uses, but costs around $100.

2. Skip the garage. You may be able to use yourmechanic, in which a repair man comes right to your driveway.

3. Shop around without leaving your home. Use apps like OpenBay and RepairPal to compare repair prices before you take your car into the shop.

Man Drives Car Around the World

Man Drives around the world

Man Drives around the world

Man Drives Car Around the World

One day about a year ago, a Roy Locock jumped in his convertible sports car, started driving and didn’t stop, according to a story by The greying Brit had no route in mind, he just closed up his life in England and hit the road, ending up traveling through Europe and India by car, and then to Australia and South America by boat. He recently landed in Regina, Canada. “It’s very much an adventure,” he told “That’s really what I was looking for and it’s certainly lived up to that.”

Automobile History – Top 10 Interesting Facts

Henry Ford
Automobile History – Top 10 Interesting Facts

Automobile History – Top 10 Interesting Facts

Automobile History - Top 10 Interesting Facts

Automobiles have been around since as early as 1769, when the first steam engine powered automobiles were produced. In 1807, Francois Isaac de Rivaz designed the first car that was powered by an internal combustion engine running on fuel gas. The journey of modern automobiles began in 1886 when German inventor Karl Benz created an automobile that featured wire wheels with a four-stroke engine fitted between the rear wheels. Named as ‘Benz Patent Motorwagen’, it was the first automobile that generated its own power, which is the reason why Karl Benz was given its patent and is called the inventor of modern automobiles.

So we shortlisted ten things you probably did not know about the history of automobiles.

1. Adolf Hitler ordered Ferdinand Porsche to manufacture a Volkswagen, which literally means ‘People’s Car’ in German. This car went on to become the Volkswagen Beetle.

Volkswagen Beetle Prototype Sketch

What’s also interesting to know is that a surviving sketch from the 1930s – that was allegedly penciled by Hitler himself – looks similar to the production version of the first Beetle. The drawing was said to have been given to Daimler-Benz before being given to Porsche in Nuremberg.

2. In 1971, the cabinet of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi proposed the production of a ‘People’s Car’ for India – the contract of which was given to Sanjay Gandhi. Before contacting Suzuki, Sanjay Gandhi held talks with Volkswagen AG for a possible joint venture, encompassing transfer of technology and joint production of the Indian version of the ‘People’s car’, that would also mirror Volkswagen’s global success with the Beetle.

Maruti 800

However, it was Suzuki that won the final contract since it was quicker in providing a feasible design. The resulting car was based on Suzuki’s Model 796 and went on to rewrite automotive history in India as the Maruti 800.

3. Rolls-Royce Ltd. was essentially a car and airplane engine making company, established in 1906 by Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce.

Rolls Royce First Car Sivler Ghost

The same year, Rolls-Royce rolled out its first car, the Silver Ghost. In 1907, the car set a record for traversing 24,000 kilometers during the Scottish reliability trials.

4. The most expensive car ever sold at a public auction was a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 race car, which went for a staggering $30 million at Bonhams in July 2013. The record was previously held by a 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype, sold in California at an auction for $16.4 million.

5. As a young man, Henry Ford used to repair watches for his friends and family using tools he made himself. He used a corset stay as tweezers and a filed shingle nail as a screwdriver.

Henry Ford with Model T Ford

6. In the year 1916, 55 per cent of the cars in the world were Model T Ford, which is still an unbroken record.

7. Volkswagen named several of its cars after wind. Passat – a German word for trade wind; Golf – Gulf stream; Polo – polar winds; Jetta – jet stream.

8. British luxury car marque Aston Martin’s name came from one of the founders Lionel Martin who used to race at Aston Hill near Aston Clinton.

Aston Martin Logo

The company was owned by Ford Motor Company from 1994 till 2007. However, Ford still owns stakes in the company.

9. The first road-worthy cars used a lever instead of a steering wheel to steer. It had a design and functioning like that of a joy stick.

10. Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter and guitarist, Bob Marley owned a BMW, not for prestige but because of the coincidence of initials for Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Fastest train on the planet…

Fastest train

China tests 3,000-kph ‘super-Maglev’ train concept

Maglev train drives into terminal station in Shanghai (Reuters / Ming Ming)
Chinese researchers at the Applied Superconductivity Laboratory of Southwest Jiaotong University claim their fast transportation concept based on magnetic levitation (Maglev) technology could potentially be three times faster than an airplane.

Maglev technology was first proposed in the mid-20th century. Nowadays, the Shanghai Maglev Train can reach speeds of over 430 kilometers (260 miles) per hour and is the world’s fastest passenger-carrying train.

The “Super-Maglev” could, however, beat even that. Chinese researchers have been testing a concept train encapsulated in a vacuum tube, thus decreasing the speed limitations imposed by air resistance on regular Maglev trains.

Should the project be successful, the workable prototype will set the standard for the future evacuation tube transportation (ETT).

“ETT systems might allow HTS Maglev trains to attain speeds in a new order of magnitude, such as super-high 3,000 km (1,800 miles) per hour, which could be applied to some military or space launch systems,” Dr. Deng Zigang, who’s been developing the technology for years, told The Daily Mail.

At the moment, the testing laboratory looks like a toy train track with the vehicle running inside a 6-meter diameter vacuum loop, reaching a speed of about 48 kilometers per hour. But the speed is only limited by the small radius of the ring, Dr. Deng Zigang says.

He says that if the speed exceeds 400 km per hour, more than 83 per cent of traction energy is wastefully dissipated in air resistance. But with a vacuum tube design, that speed could be surpassed in the future.

The researcher doesn’t limit his innovation to land-based transportation only, and hopes that similar vacuum tube technology would be used to launch space vehicles, or enable super-high speeds for military weapons.

Chinese authorities, on the other hand, could utilize the novelty in their grand scheme to link the country with Russia, Canada and the United States with a high-speed railway.

Tire pressure gauge buying guide

Tire Guage

Getting started

Keeping your car tires properly inflated is an easy maintenance chore that’s vital to your safety. Under-inflated tires build up excess heat as you drive, which can result in tire failure. With too little air pressure, tires can also wear faster and unevenly, waste fuel, and negatively impact the vehicle’s braking and handling. To help maintain tires in top condition, use a tire-pressure gauge to check the pressure of your tires at least once a month and before starting on any long trip. For an accurate read, make sure the car has been parked for three or more hours before checking the tire pressure.

Tire-pressure gauges are available at auto-parts stores, big-box stores, and other retailers, as well as online. We have found in our testing that good gauges for consumers typically cost $5 to $15. Keep the tire-pressure gauge in a protective sleeve, as cleanliness will ensure its longevity and accuracy. If a gauge is old, worn, or dirty, or it has been dropped, it may not be reliable and you should get a new one. For the nominal cost, it is a wise investment.

How to choose

There are three types of tire-pressure gauges: stick, digital, and dial. Stick-type gauges, which somewhat resemble a ballpoint pen, are simple, compact, and affordable, but they are a little harder to read than most digital gauges.

Digital gauges have an electronic LCD display, like a pocket calculator, making them easier to read. They’re also more resistant to damage from dust and dirt. Some digital readouts light up, making them handy for checking pressure in low-light conditions. On the down side, however, digital gauges are a little bulkier than stick gauges and they require batteries. While batteries can last for years, depending on use, they will run down eventually and need replacement.

Dial gauges have an analog dial, resembling a clock face, with a simple needle to indicate the pressure. Some dial gauges have more features than pocket-sized gauges–including an extension hose, bleeder valve, dual-scale dial, and shock-resistant dial cover–but we have found that they aren’t necessarily more accurate. Most dial gauges are easy to read, but models with an extension hose take two hands to operate. They can also be bulky and typically cost more money, running from $20 to $50.

Buy a gauge with a wide-enough range that it can measure the pressure in a temporary spare, which is typically 60 psi. Many gauges have a span of 5 to 99 psi.

If you need to check pressure in a darkened area, consider a digital gauge with an illuminated display.

If you buy online to save money, check shipping charges to see if the purchase is still a bargain.

Latest test findings

Our most recent test of tire-pressure gauges looked at 14 models: eight digital, two stick-type, and four dial-type. Those gauges came from five brands: Accutire, Intercomp, Gorilla, Milton, and Slime. We tested them for accuracy, ease of use, and durability, and also checked to see how they were affected by ambient temperatures spanning a range from just above freezing to 113-118 degrees F. Here’s what we found:

  • Two digital Accutire gauges topped the Ratings, the MS-4400B ($10.99) and MS-4021B ($9.99). The heavy-duty dial-type Intercomp 360060 ($55.95) was also very good but is limited to 60 psi.
  • Two of three samples of the Slime model 20074 ($8.99), a digital gauge, proved inaccurate at room temperatures.
  • The Slime 20048 ($5.99), a dial type, was hard to read, inaccurate when cold, and lost accuracy permanently when dropped onto a concrete floor from a height of 30 inches.

Please review us on YELP

Review Grahams on YELP

Hello Customers. If you have enjoyed your experience at Grahams Custom Body Shop then we ask for you to visit our YELP page and give us a review. We would love to know how we are doing.…/grahams-custom-body-shop-virginia-bea…

Thank you for your business!

Barry Graham | Owner

World’s fastest motorcycle, the Kawasaki Ninja H2, has F1 and aerospace technology

Worlds Fastest Motorcycle

The new Kawasaki Ninja is a beast

The new Kawasaki Ninja is a beast

THERE may soon be no more need for speed. Kawasaki has just unveiled a motorcycle that is so fast even daredevils are wondering if it is too powerful.

With a design inspired by Formula One motor racing cars and a supercharged engine that uses aerospace technology, the Kawasaki Ninja H2 is expected to blast from 0 to 100km/h in less than 2.5 seconds.

Fast and furious ... the Kawasaki Ninja H2 powers from 0 to 100km/h in less than 2.5 seco

Fast and furious … the Kawasaki Ninja H2 powers from 0 to 100km/h in less than 2.5 seconds. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

It can accelerate as quick as an F1 racing machine — if riders can hang on to it — because the supercharged engine has almost as much power as a Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatch, but the Kawasaki Ninja H2 weighs barely one-fifth as much as a car.

RECOMMENDATION: Automatic braking for motorcycles

NEW LEGISLATION: Motorcycles are about to get cheaper

Hang on ... the Ninja H2 can accelerate as fast as an F1 racing machine. Picture: Supplie

Hang on … the Ninja H2 can accelerate as fast as an F1 racing machine. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

The supercharger technology is so sophisticated it has been banned from international motorcycle racing since 1946, but has returned to a modern, road-going motorcycle in the search for more power from smaller engines.

Serious grunt ... the bike’s supercharged engine uses aerospace technology. Picture: Supp

Serious grunt … the bike’s supercharged engine uses aerospace technology. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

The Kawasaki Ninja H2 is expected to go on sale in Australia early next year priced about $30,000 and will be available to anyone who has completed their learner and provisional periods on their motorcycle licence.

The Ninja H2 is expected to comfortably overtake the previous titleholders of the world’s fastest bike including the Kawasaki Ninja ZX14-R from 2012, the Ducati Diavel from 2011, the Yamaha VMAX from 2010, and the Suzuki GSXR-1000 from 2006.

VIDEO: An even faster version of the Kawasaki Ninja H2

Quick and slick ... the design is inspired by Formula One race cars. Picture: Supplied

Quick and slick … the design is inspired by Formula One race cars. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

The official slogan “built beyond belief” may also go down in history as the most honest in advertising; even Kawasaki admits the Ninja H2 is “not for everyone, nor is it designed to be”.

When it comes to performance the Ninja H2 is “a whole new world”, said Kenichi Hashiba, the managing director of Kawasaki Motors Australia.

It is so powerful Kawasaki has fitted a range of electronics that limit power to enable it to be ridden safely in wet weather or in slippery conditions, as well as a “launch control” mode to get the perfect start.

COMMENT BELOW: Is this motorcycle to fast for our roads and laws?

The latest available safety equipment, including intelligent anti-lock brakes, has been f

The latest available safety equipment, including intelligent anti-lock brakes, has been fitted as standard. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

The brakes are bigger than those fitted to a Holden Commodore V8 sedan.

“The potential buyer will probably not spend too much time debating in their head whether or not to buy it,” said Mr Hashiba. “They will feel the desire inside and act on those feelings.”

Unphased ... insurers don’t mind the Ninja H2 has almost as much power as a Volkswagen Go

Unphased … insurers don’t mind the Ninja H2 has almost as much power as a Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatch. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

Contrary to expectations, the motorcycle insurance industry is not up in arms over the supercharged superbike.

“There are already motorcycles on the road that can accelerate at racing car levels and many that can do more than 300km/h,” said Swann Insurance research manager Robert McDonald.

“Generally most motorcycle owners only use these speed capabilities on organised track days. There are also many cars on the road currently that can do more than 300km/h.”

The insurer said it was important to note the Kawasaki Ninja H2 had the latest available safety equipment, including intelligent anti-lock brakes, as standard.

“Built beyond belief” ... the catch but accurate slogan for the new road weapon. Picture:

“Built beyond belief” … the catchy but accurate slogan for the new road weapon. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

“We don’t anticipate higher than normal claims rates with this motorcycle compared to other high-powered sports bikes on the road,” said Mr McDonald.

This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling

The Ninja H2 goes on sale in Australia early next year priced about $30,000. Picture: Sup

The Ninja H2 goes on sale in Australia early next year priced about $30,000. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

Very fast facts: Kawasaki Ninja H2

Engine: Supercharged 998cc in-line four-cylinder

Power: 154.5kW at 11,000rpm (210 horsepower)

Torque: 140Nm at 10,000rpm

Transmission: Six-speed

Weight: 238kg (ready to ride)

Brakes: 330mm discs (front), 250mm (rear)

0 to 100km/h: Less than 2.5 seconds (estimated)

Top speed: 299km/h (electronically limited, racetrack H2R version can reach 340km/h).

Man “intentionally” drove $2.2 million Bugatti Veyron into lake

Bugatti in the lake

Man "intentionally" drove $2.2 million Bugatti Veyron into lake

A Texas court may soon decide if the man who drove his Bugatti Veyron into a lake was committing fraud after his insurance company claimed he crashed the car on purpose to collect $2.2 million in insurance money. Wait, it wasn’t a low-flying pelican? You don’t say.

Andy House was driving along a highway in Galveston, Texas on November 12, 2009 when, for some reason, he drove his car into some water, destroying the million-dollar exotic car. At the time the man claimed to reporters, and to us, that this was because of the reflection of a low-flying pelican he saw after dropping his cellphone.

“I had dropped my phone, people dont know what happened,” House told us adding “What it appeared to been was a reflection.”

Unbeknownst to House, the accident was filmed by passerby Joe Garza. The video didn’t seem to show a low-flying pelican.

“it’s unusual that you have video of a car crash” said Attorney David Miller, who is representing the insurance company. “It’s wonderful that a jury will be able to actually look at the sequence of events”

The car was later towed away and eventually resold, which was the last we’d heard about it until now.

Since the accident House occasionally reached out to us regarding various exotic-related business, including his apparent purchase of a replacement Veyron and a critique of a Bugatti fender-bender in Chicago (he called the guys who did it a “BUNCH OF DOUCHE BAGS!”).

He also sent us this picture of various exotics, some of which show dealer plates (that’ll be important later on).

Man "intentionally" drove $2.2 million Bugatti Veyron into lake

While this all was going on the company that insured the Veyron, Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company, was investigating whether it should pay the claim on the car, which they admitted in a court filing they’d insured for a ridiculous $2.2 million.

Why is it ridiculous? According to their own research, a man named Lloyd Gillespie loaned House $1,050,000 interest-free for the car. That’s roughly half the value.

Oh, but the fun doesn’t end there. Philadelphia also makes a case that the car was destroyed on purpose to collect the insurance money. They say there was no evidence of a low-flying pelican, that House let the car run for 15 minutes while submerged (his excuse was he was “being bitten by mosquitos” ), and that there was no sign he attempted to brake or skid to avoid anything.

Most dramatically, they claim a “confidential informant” came forward to report House had tried to get someone to destroy the vehicle.

Man "intentionally" drove $2.2 million Bugatti Veyron into lakeThe confidential informant stated that Mr. House offered to pay him money to steal the car and burn it making the disappearance of the vehicle appear to be a theft so that Mr. House could obtain the insurance money. However, apparently Mr. House instead drove the car into the lagoon without the confidential informant’s assistance.

Once the confidential informant confronted Mr. House, Mr. House offered to pay the confidential informant a portion of the insurance proceeds once recovered to remain silent during the investigation. The confidential informant indicated that he believed Mr. House and Mr. Gillespie acted in coordination in this matter. It is Philadelphia’s position based on its investigation that Mr. House and Mr. Gillespie acted together to defraud Philadelphia of $2,200,000.

Additionally, Philadelphia insured the vehicle as a collector’s item used for display and makes a case that the vehicle was actually used for personal errands such as going to biker rallies, impressing friends, and otherwise commuting around Texas and thus they shouldn’t have to pay on those grounds.

As proof they have the vehicle’s mileage (2,100 since insuring it) and the fact that it was rolling around with dealer plates.

The insurance company’s lawyers are seeking to have the claim rejected and seek any relief they may be justified to.

Both the insurance company and the defendants filed a motion for a summary judgment in federal court and both were denied, according to Miller, because there was an issue of “fact.” The case will now likely go to a jury to decide, probably some time in the next year, in order to determine the facts of the case.

We’ve reached out to House for a comment.

Choosing an Auto Body Shop that Works for You and Your Insurance

Auto Body Shop

If you’ve been in an accident, it’s important to know that auto body shops have your best interests in mind – and the same goes for doctors. Unfortunately, some body shops and doctors – the ones that tend to favor insurance companies – will routinely downplay claims, minimize auto repair costs, use cheap parts, or even neglect to fully treat ailments. These practices can devalue your vehicle or prevent you from a full recovery following an injury.

Auto Insurance Questions Pocket Sized

To the left is a quick guide to establishing whether a doctor or auto body shop is truly independent, or if they’re really in the back pocket of the insurer. Protect you and your wallet by printing out TSD’s, “How to Sniff Good and Bad Service Providers.”

Auto Damage Claims

This section provides some basic principles on what to look for when choosing a auto body shop, as well as tips on how to be an active participant in your car’s repair to ensure that it comes out looking great and costing you no more than your deductible.

    • Research Before You Repair, and Google reviews are useful sources to get a sense of a shop’s quality based on customer reviews, but take the online reviews with a grain of salt. You’ll want to pay attention to well-written, thought-out reviews – not nasty one-liners, since even the best businesses can end up with an unhappy customer from time to time. You may also be able to find discussion forums specific to your vehicle’s make and model where forum members can recommend good shops in your local area.

some body shops and doctors – the ones that tend to favor insurance companies – will routinely downplay claims, minimize auto repair costs, use cheap parts, or even neglect to fully treat ailments…Sniff out good and bad service providers

    • Choose a Shop with a Warranty
      Some auto body shops offer their own independent warranties on their repairs for fit, finish, functionality, and overall quality. Request to see their warranty and ask some questions about it before agreeing to do business with a given shop and make sure it doesn’t have a time limit. A good shop will offer a lifetime warranty.
    • Keep Your Existing Manufacturer Warranties Intact
      Ask your chosen auto body shop if any mechanical repairs will void or alter any existing warranties you may have on your new or recently purchased car. Factory warranties on engines and accessories may be compromised if your car needs mechanical repairs following a collision, so be sure your car’s factory warranty isn’t being compromised with aftermarket or used parts, or repairs that otherwise aren’t manufacturer-approved.If your insurer is trying to “mandate” aftermarket or used parts that will void your factory warranty, demand that the insurer give you a written warranty identical to your factory warranty. Nine times out of ten they’ll simply pay for original parts, instead of giving you the runaround.

      pay attention to well-written, thought-out reviews – not nasty one-liners, since even the best businesses can end up with an unhappy customer from time to time

    • Get More than One Estimate
      According to’s tips for car maintenance and choosing a body shop, it’s best to get estimates from several different shops. After your first estimate, show their estimate to the second shop and the third shop, and ask how they compare with the first shop’s quote. You might find that one or the other is skipping over a lot of important items. Don’t simply compare the final estimated cost, since one shop may be quoting for an entirely different method of repair than the other. You’ll want a shop that is both thorough and friendly.
    • Be Picky – and Let Them Know It
      Make it clear to your auto body shop that you want all brand-new, factory-original parts used in your car’s repair. In some states, the law allows for used or aftermarket parts to be applied, but if they don’t fit properly or if they don’t match quite right, you have the right to demand new replacement parts that will restore your vehicle to its original condition. Let the shop know that you’re picky and expect high quality work. If you leave them with the opposite impression, your car might end up with some ill-fitted panels after the work is done, leaving your car devalued and in poor cosmetic condition.
    • Go to a Shop Specializing In Your Car’s Brand
      Choosing a shop is like choosing a restaurant – you wouldn’t order Mandarin chicken at an Italian restaurant, so don’t try to get your Volkswagen fixed at a Honda specialist’s shop. It might work out fine for a basic repair, but it’s best to go to a shop that knows your car inside and out. Different car brands have a lot of nuances, so it’s best to go with experienced technicians.

If your insurer is trying to “mandate” aftermarket or used parts that will void your factory warranty, demand that the insurer give you a written warranty identical to your factory warranty

  • Get It In Writing
    When your insurance adjuster or auto body shop representative promises to “pay for everything,” “restore your car to its pre-accident condition,” or “completely cover the rental car,” make sure you get these types of commitments in writing. Even after a phone conversation, send an email to your adjuster or auto body shop to officialize the agreement or promises made and ask them to respond to clarify that everything is accurate. You’ll thank yourself later if you happen to lodge a complaint with their manager in order to get the service you were promised.

How To Check Tire Pressure

Tire pressure

Inflating and maintaining proper tire pressure ensures safer, more comfortable driving and better fuel efficiency. Particularly in times of high gas prices; in inclement driving conditions such as heavy rain, snow, or ice; and in vehicles of all sizes, tire pressure can make a major difference in driving, wherever you are.

Given the importance of the task, you might think it is complicated, but checking and maintaining your tire pressure is simple, provided you have a good tire air pressure gauge and source of air, both of which are available at many gas stations.

Get a Gauge

A simple tire air pressure gauge, available at most auto parts stores, for a few dollars, is adequate for the job. You do not necessarily need a digital air pressure gauge. If it is worth the $14 to $15 to you, a digital pressure gauge is easy to read and accurate. However, you should consider whether it will require batteries, and whether this would prevent you from using it.

Again, a standard pressure gauge that measures pounds per square inch (PSI) and fits easily in the glove box of your vehicle, is sufficient. Do avoid ultra-cheap models that may not give a proper reading.

As for a source of air, many gas and service stations have air available for 50 cents or so. Some of these air machines have gauges on them, and if you have no other means of measuring the pressure of your tires, these will work. However, they are typically beat and inaccurate, so have your own gauge to ensure the proper PSI for your tires and vehicle.

Checking Pressure

PSI is measured by the notches on a tire air pressure gauge or with a number reading on digital gauges. To find out what PSI is right for your tires, consult your owner’s manual or the sticker on the driver’s side door. When buying new tires, or getting a rotation, it’s a good idea to ask what the ideal pressure is.

Recommendations may vary, but you should never inflate the tires five PSI more or less than what is recommended. Under-inflating wears out the sides of the tire, and is actually a driving hazard. Over-inflated tires will wear more quickly, and are also dangerous because of the increased possibility of a blowout. If you are unsure about the PSI for your tires, or it is unclear or worn away on the side of your tires, ask your mechanic or someone who knows about vehicles what PSI you should have for your tires.

Smaller compact and mid-size sedans typically have PSI levels between 30 and 40 PSI. Larger vehicles with larger tires, including bigger sedans, usually have higher pressure, around 45 PSI. These are general PSI figures, and the most accurate PSI for your tires is the number listed on the side. Tires should all be inflated to the same PSI for safety, proper vehicle function, comfort, and fuel efficiency.

Also, check your vehicle’s tire pressure when the tires are cold. This means the tires should not have been driven on for at least three hours. If you need to drive to get air, try to drive less than a mile.

To get a PSI reading on your tire, place the air pressure gauge onto the tire’s valve stem, the pencil-width air nozzle on the side of the tire. Try to place the gauge evenly onto the valve stem. This will allow air to escape, but once you firmly press the gauge down on the valve stem, it will stop the flow of air and give your gauge a reading, either by blowing out the metered stick with a traditional gauge, or a reading with a digital model gauge.

Adjusting Tire PSI

So you have a tire pressure gauge, and a source of air. It is best if you can park your car centered on the source of the air, which usually has a hose to reach the vehicle’s tires. You may need to move the car to reach all of the tires, depending on the situation. Before you pay any money for air or start pumping up your tires, remove the caps on all the tire valve stems.

Next, you should check the pressure of all four tires, noting which ones need the most air. This will help you maintain uniform pressure in the tires, some of which may need less air. Hot weather, extreme temperatures and other conditions can cause the air in your tires to expand, and PSI can subsequently increase.

Once you know which tires need more air, you can deposit coins into the air machine, or get your air hose ready. Choose the first tire to fill, and fit the air hose nozzle onto the tire stem. When you start to place the air hose onto the tire stem, it will hit a pin inside the stem and start leaking air. You know when you have the air hose nozzle properly applied when the leaking air stops. It takes some force to get the hose pressed firmly on, but once it is in place, you will be ready to increase the tire pressure.

Some air hoses are automatic, and will release air in your tire once you have it on the tire’s valve stem. Other air hoses have handles and require you to squeeze them to activate the air.

It is important to have your gauge as you fill the tire, taking the hose off somewhat frequently to check the pressure. It is extremely important not to over-inflate your tires. You can avoid this by using small bursts of air between your checks. As you increase the PSI and keep checking it, you will get a feel for how much air you are putting into the tire, and how much more you need. Once you get close to your recommended PSI, use less air, and keep going until you are at the right level.

Once you have the tires properly inflated, replace the stem caps by screwing them back on. Do not over-screw them, as they will break on the top. Tire stem caps are important to keep your tire valve stems clean and undamaged.

Tire pressure should be checked weekly, or every other week at least. Particularly with severe weather and temperature swings, tire pressure on the nicest tires with the nicest cars can still fluctuate, and must be monitored and maintained regularly for safe and fuel-efficient driving.

Wet Weather Driving Tips


Spring and summer showers may mean flowers, but wet pavement contributes to nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes each year.

Here are some tips you’ll want to follow the next time you’re caught driving in the rain.

Safety starts before you drive, and your goal should be to see and be seen. Replace windshield wiper inserts that leave streaks or don’t clear the glass in a single swipe. Make sure all headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are properly functioning so other drivers will see you during downpours. Turn on your headlights whenever you drive.

Proper tire tread depth and inflation are imperative to maintaining good traction on wet roadways. Check tread depth with a quarter inserted upside down into the tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head, start shopping for new tires. Check each tire’s pressure, including the spare, at least once a month… and be sure to check the pressure when the tires are cold.

Avoid Cruise Control

Most modern cars feature cruise control. This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle can increase. To prevent loss of traction, the driver may need to reduce the car’s speed by lifting off the accelerator, which cannot be accomplished when cruise control is engaged.

When driving in wet-weather conditions, it is important to concentrate fully on every aspect of driving. Avoiding cruise control will allow the driver more options to choose from when responding to a potential loss-of-traction situation, thus maximizing your safety.

Slow Down and Leave Room

Slowing down during wet weather driving can be critical to reducing a car’s chance of hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water. With as little as 1/12 inch of water on the road, tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. At speeds as low as 35 mph, new tires can still lose some contact with the roadway.

To reduce chances of hydroplaning, drivers should slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you. Also, it’s important for motorists to allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of them and beginning to slow down to stop for intersections, turns and other traffic early.

Responding to a Skid

Even careful drivers can experience skids. If a driver feels their car begin to skid, it’s important to not panic and follow these basic steps:

  • Continue to look and steer in the direction in which the driver wants the car to go.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to control.

If you feel the car begin to skid, continue to look and steer in the direction you want the car to go. Don’t panic, and avoid slamming on the brakes to maintain control.

Overall you want to be extra cautious in wet weather. Slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and allow ample stopping distance between you and the cars in front of you. Also, do these things one-at-a-time. Brake, then turn, then accelerate.

What to Do After an Auto Accident

Car Accident

Auto accidents are unexpected and stressful. Even the most careful drivers may be involved. If you are in an accident, State Farm® is committed to helping restore your peace of mind as soon as possible. If you have recently been involved in an accident, begin reporting a claim.

Be Prepared

  • Carry a set of cones, warning triangles, or emergency flares in your trunk to help alert traffic.
  • It also helps to have a pen and a card with any relevant medical information for you and your family.

Immediately After an Accident

  • Take a deep breath and stay calm.
  • Check for injuries; call an ambulance when in doubt.
  • If accident is minor, move cars to a safe place, out of traffic.
  • Turn on your vehicle’s hazard lights and use cones, warning triangles or flares for safety.
  • Call the police, even if the accident is minor.
  • Notify your insurance agent immediately.

Other Important Tips

  • Do not sign any document unless it’s for the police or your insurance agent.
  • Make immediate notes about the accident, including specific damages to all vehicles involved, witness information, etc.
  • If the name on an auto registration is different than the driver, jot down the relationship.
  • Be polite, but don’t tell anyone the accident was your fault, even if you think it was.
  • State only the facts, and limit your discussion of the accident to the police and your insurance agent.
  • If possible, don’t leave the accident scene before the police and other drivers do.

Need a laugh…

Car Repair Cartoon

Car Repair Cartoon

20 must-haves in your car emergency kit

Car Safety Emergency kit

A car emergency kit is one of those things that you don’t think much about until it’s too late. Then you’ll wish you didn’t leave home without one.

Having a membership to an auto club or driving a later model vehicle under warranty — complete with free roadside assistance — often lulls us into a false sense of security about our prospects regarding a roadside breakdown.

The ugly truth is that vehicle breakdowns do happen and they don’t always strike in a busy, well-lighted, cloudless, warm spot with flawless cell phone reception and a tow truck close at hand. A roadside emergency kit can ease the pain and reduce the hassle of such breakdowns.

Speaking for AAA of the Carolinas, Tom Crosby says each year, one in three motorists encounters a roadside breakdown or some other incident that prevents normal vehicle operation, such as a dead battery, mechanical problems or a flat tire.

Just because your car appears in good shape, there’s no guarantee problems won’t arise. “You never know when something’s going to happen to your car,” Crosby says, “no matter how well you maintain it.”

Although some of these incidents occur in people’s driveways, many take place away from home. The more remote the area and the more inclement the weather, the more likely the contents of a car emergency kit will come in handy — even if you have a roadside assistance plan and can contact help. “A car emergency kit is designed to help you survive until help arrives,” Crosby says.

There are a number of prepackaged car emergency kits on the market ranging in price from $18 to $70. Typing “roadside emergency kit” into a search engine will reveal a wide array of retail kits.

The most comprehensive prepackaged car emergency kit we found is the All-In-One Emergency Car Kit marketed by for $69.95.

You can save some money by assembling your own car emergency kit. Even if you purchase a prepackaged kit, you will probably want to beef it up with some additional items.

Here are the must-have items Crosby says should be part of every car emergency kit:

1. Charged cell phone. Although this item will probably be on your person, it may make the difference between getting help fast and maybe not getting help at all. “Make sure it is properly charged every time you get into your car,” Crosby says.

2. First-aid kit. As well as an assortment of Band-Aids, it should include adhesive tape, gauze pads, aspirin, antiseptic wipes, antiseptic cream or ointment, and anything particular to you or your family.

3. Fire Extinguisher. It should be rated for Class B and Class C fires by the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA. The NFPA says Class B fires are those that involve flammable or combustible liquids, such as gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene. Class C fires involve energized electrical equipment such as switches, panel boxes and batteries.

4. Three reflective warning triangles. While many prepackaged emergency kits contain one warning triangle, Crosby suggests you have three that are placed 50 feet apart to warn oncoming traffic.

5. Tire gauge. Crosby says motorists should use the tire gauge in their car emergency kit to periodically check the air pressure in their spare tire. “Make sure your spare tire is properly inflated,” he says. “A lot of the time people ignore it until they have a flat, and then discover the spare is flat, too.”6. Foam tire sealant. A quick, inexpensive way to repair many flats without changing the tire.

7. Jumper cables. They should be at least 10 feet in length and coated with at least 8-gauge rubber.

8. Flashlight and extra batteries. The flashlight should be waterproof.

9. Gloves.

10. Rags.

11. Duct tape. It is the universal fix-it solution. Carry at least 10 feet of it.

12. Tow strap or tow rope. It should be strong enough to tow 6,000 pounds.

13. Multipurpose utility tool. This can be something like a Leatherman Tool or a Swiss Army Knife.

14. Rain poncho. Even an inexpensive plastic poncho is better than nothing when changing a tire in the pouring rain.

15. Drinking water.

16. Nonperishable snacks. Protein bars are a good choice.

According to Crosby, during the winter you should add a few other items if you might encounter snow and ice:

17. Warm blanket.

18. Snow shovel.

19. Cat litter. It works as well as sand beneath the tires for traction and weighs less.

20. Windshield ice scraper.

Although many prepackaged car emergency kits contain a few tools like pliers and a screwdriver, Crosby advises that these aren’t must-have items. “In the old days,” he says, “you could do some roadside repairs yourself, but today’s cars are too complicated for that. The tools you do need to be concerned about are those that came with the car, along with the jack, to change a tire. Make sure those tools are there.”


Best Window Tinting Film

Article Contents

Tinting your car windows provides a lot of benefits — a more stylish look, lower interior temperatures, and more privacy. But there are several different types of window tinting films on the market, and each one has its own set of pros and cons. Read our window tinting buyer’s guide below to help you make the best decision depending on your application, budget, and desired look.

Best Ceramic Window Tinting Film:

Ceramic window tints are a relatively new development in the world of window tinting. Utilizing neither dyed film nor metal, this new generation of window tint relies on nanotechnology to achieve its effects. The result is a no-compromise window tint that matches or surpasses even the best metallic window tints in terms of sun and heat rejection, with none of the interference associated with them.

Ceramic construction ensures high strength, so windows which the tint is applied won’t shatter as easily. The tint is also highly resistant to fading, cracking, bubbling, discoloring, etc, even more so than high-end metallic films. The only drawback to this ‘wonder tint’ is its price. It’s often far more expensive than other window tint types.

If you’re willing to pay a premium, here are the five best ceramic window tints available today. These products because they posses all the traits of ceramic window tint we just described. None of the following selections can be considered budget-friendly, but they’re all worth the money if you want nothing but the best.

Why Customer Satisfaction is Important (6 Reasons)

Why Customer Satisfaction is Important

Customer satisfaction is a marketing term that measures how products or services supplied by a company meet or surpass a customer’s expectation.

Customer satisfaction is important because it provides marketers and business owners with a metric that they can use to manage and improve their businesses.

In a survey of nearly 200 senior marketing managers, 71 percent responded that they found a customer satisfaction metric very useful in managing and monitoring their businesses.

Here are the top six reasons why customer satisfaction is so important:

  • It’s a leading indicator of consumer repurchase intentions and loyalty
  • It’s a point of differentiation
  • It reduces customer churn
  • It increases customer lifetime value
  • It reduces negative word of mouth
  • It’s cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones

1. It’s a leading indicator of consumer repurchase intentions and loyalty

Customer satisfaction is the best indicator of how likely a customer will make a purchase in the future. Asking customers to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 1-10 is a good way to see if they will become repeat customers or even advocates.

Any customers that give you a rating of 7 and above, can be considered satisfied, and you can safely expect them to come back and make repeat purchases. Customers who give you a rating of 9 or 10 are your potential customer advocates who you can leverage to become evangelists for your company.

Scores of 6 and below are warning signs that a customer is unhappy and at risk of leaving. These customers need to be put on a customer watch list and followed up so you can determine why their satisfaction is low.

See how satisfaction provides so much insight into your customers?

That’s why it’s one of the leading metrics businesses use to measure consumer repurchase and customer loyalty.

2. It’s a point of differentiation

In a competitive marketplace where businesses compete for customers; customer satisfaction is seen as a key differentiator. Businesses who succeed in these cut-throat environments are the ones that make customer satisfaction a key element of their business strategy.

Picture two businesses that offer the exact same product. What will make you choose one over the other?

If you had a recommendation for one business would that sway your opinion? Probably. So how does that recommendation originally start? More than likely it’s on the back of a good customer experience. Companies who offer amazing customer experiences create environments where satisfaction is high and customer advocates are plenty.

This is an example of where customer satisfaction goes full circle. Not only can customer satisfaction help you keep a finger on the pulse of your existing customers, it can also act as a point of differentiation for new customers.

3. It reduces customer churn

An Accenture global customer satisfaction report (2008) found that price is not the main reason for customer churn; it is actually due to the overall poor quality of customer service.

Customer satisfaction is the metric you can use to reduce customer churn. By measuring and tracking customer satisfaction you can put new processes in place to increase the overall quality of your customer service.

I recommend you put an emphasis on exceeding customer expectations and ‘wowing’ customers at every opportunity. Do that for six months, than measure customer satisfaction again. See whether your new initiatives have had a positive or negative impact on satisfaction.

Related: 15 tactics to reduce customer churn

4. It increases customer lifetime value

A study by InfoQuest found that a ‘totally satisfied customer’ contributes 2.6 times more revenue than a ‘somewhat satisfied customer’. Furthermore, a ‘totally satisfied customer’ contributes 14 times more revenue than a ‘somewhat dissatisfied customer’.

Satisfaction plays a significant role in how much revenue a customer generates for your business.

Successful businesses understand the importance of customer lifetime value (CLV). If you increase CLV, you increase the returns on your marketing dollar.

For example, you might have a cost per acquisition of $500 dollars and a CLV of $750. That’s a 50% ROI from the marketing efforts. Now imagine if CLV was $1,000. That’s a 100% ROI!

Customer lifetime value is a beneficiary of high customer satisfaction and good customer retention. What are you doing to keep customers coming back and spending more?

Learn more about customer lifetime value:

5. It reduces negative word of mouth

McKinsey found that an unhappy customer tells between 9-15 people about their experience. In fact, 13% of unhappy customers tell over 20 people about their experience.

That’s a lot of negative word of mouth.

How much will that affect your business and its reputation in your industry?

Customer satisfaction is tightly linked to revenue and repeat purchases. What often gets forgotten is how customer satisfaction negatively impacts your business. It’s one thing to lose a customer because they were unhappy. It’s another thing completely to lose 20 customers because of some bad word of mouth.

To eliminate bad word of mouth you need to measure customer satisfaction on an ongoing basis. Tracking changes in satisfaction will help you identify if customers are actually happy with your product or service.

6. It’s cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones

This is probably the most publicized customer satisfaction statistic out there. It costs six to seven times more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing customers.

If that stat does not strike accord with you then there’s not much else I can do to demonstrate why customer satisfaction is important.

Customers cost a lot of money to acquire. You and your marketing team spend thousands of dollars getting the attention of prospects, nurturing them into leads and closing them into sales.

Why is it that you then spend little or no money on customer retention?

Imagine if you allocated one sixth of your marketing budget towards customer retention. How do you think that will help you with improving customer satisfaction and retaining customers?

Here are some customer retention strategies to get you thinking:

  • Use blogs to educate customers
  • Use email to send special promotions
  • Use customer satisfaction surveys to listen
  • Delight customers by offering personalized experiences

For more great ideas, check out these blog posts:

Measure satisfaction to see how happy your customers really are

Lee Resource Inc. found that for every customer complaint there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent.

That is an alarming statistic. Most companies think they are the best and they have no unhappy customers. The reality is, 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain. In fact, 1Financial Training Services found that most simply just leave and never come back.

What are you doing to measure customer satisfaction and identify unhappy customers?

Customer satisfaction plays an important role within your business. Not only is it the leading indicator to measure customer loyalty, identify unhappy customers, reduce churn and increase revenue; it is also a key point of differentiation that helps you to attract new customers in competitive business environments.

I hope this blog post has shed light on why customer satisfaction is so important to the success of your business.

Which Headlights Shine Best: Halogen, HID or LED?

While old-school halogen still rules the road, LED headlights are becoming more popular.

Drivers may soon notice brighter and whiter headlights on the road as the popularity of traditional halogen headlights continues to dim.

Halogen still ranks highest as the most common headlight on the market, but several alternatives, including xenon-based and light-emitting diode (LED) headlights, are growing in popularity. Here’s how the options compare in terms of performance, safety and price.

Headlight versus headlight

According to Motor Trend, you’ll notice several important differences in light produced by LEDs, xenon and halogen headlights. LEDs have the coolest color temperature at around 6,000 Kelvin, which makes them appear whiter than daylight. Xenon headlights come in at around 4,500 K, while halogens round out the list at a yellowish 3,200 K.

When it comes to reflection, LEDs offer better light return from road signs, while xenon lamps better illuminate the sides of the road. In part, this is because xenon lamps typically produce more light, measured in lumens, than LEDs.

Both LEDs and xenon provide a large pattern of light on the road, whereas halogens offer a small pool of yellow light directly in front of the vehicle. If you’re buying a new car, expect LED headlights to be the premium option, and make sure your auto repair shop is equipped to handle LED headlight replacements and repairs.

FOR MORE: How Can I Fix Foggy Headlights?

If you’re looking for intense light and don’t mind the glare, xenon may be the best choice. LEDs, meanwhile, offer great light, low power and long life, but often come with a bigger price tag.

Halogen headlights

Halogen lights are the most popular lights on the market and are found in most consumer cars. These bulbs are similar to familiar incandescent lights and use heated tungsten filaments to produce light. Halogen headlights produce a significant amount of heat, and even small deposits of skin moisture on the bulb during replacement can affect their performance.

The main benefits of halogen bulbs include low replacement costs and longevity.

Xenon headlights

Xenon lights, also known as high-intensity discharge (HID) lights, produce a brighter light than halogen bulbs and with far less heat. The blue-white light emitted by xenon bulbs is so bright, it has been known to “blind” other drivers.

These headlights require a large amount of power at the outset to produce their first burst of light, but once fully operational, they require much less energy to maintain constant brightness.

Xenon bulbs have a long lifespan and emit little heat, but they cost more than halogen bulbs.

LED headlights

LEDs are the most recent innovation in headlight technology. Instead of gas and filaments, LEDs rely on small diodes that produce light when electric current excites their electrons. They need an low amount of power to work but do produce a significant amount of heat on the diode. This requires heat control systems at the bottom of the headlight and near other car components. If this system fails, not just the light, but other electronics could be affected.

RELATED: Angie’s List Guide to LED Lights

The small size of LEDs means they can be formed into almost any shape, and their light is naturally directional rather than diffuse, making them an excellent choice for headlights.

New-Car Colors That Can Boost Resale Values

Best Car Color

It sounds a bit confounding on its face, but data suggests some car colors can bring more money back to an owner at trade-in time than others. And in what would seem to be a gross violation of the law of supply and demand, the hues that new-car buyers (and dealers) largely shun in the first place are the ones statistics indicate will reap the biggest rewards in the used-vehicle market.

Yellow, a color typically associated with lemons – not exactly an image most original owners prefer to embrace – leads the pack in this regard. On average a yellow car that originally cost $20,000 can be expected to retain about $1,500 more of its value after five years than the same exact car painted black.

That’s according to an analysis of over 20 million used car listings from the 1981 through 2010 model years conducted by the Boston-based used-vehicle website Other colors the study found that bring back the most green include orange, teal and – of course – green.

third eye blind:graduate

(Photo credit: visualpanic)

“While a popular car color like black or silver may get more interest and sell faster, our analysis indicates it may not get as high a value as a car, say, in yellow,” says Phong Ly, CEO and co-founder of  “Scarcity may account for the difference – only 1.1 percent of all cars are yellow and orange; the dearth of supply of such colors may drive prices up.”

According to automotive paint supplier PPG Industries, white was the most popular new-vehicle color among new-car buyers in North America last year at 21 percent of the market, followed by the similarly neutral black (19 percent), gray (17 percent) and silver (15 percent).

Here’s how cars in the various colors of the automotive rainbow stack up in terms of their average depreciation rates after five years of ownership, according to the analysis:

  • Yellow:  26.2%
  • Orange:  27.6%
  • Green:  31.3%
  • Teal:  31.4%
  • Red: 31.7%
  • Beige, Brown, Gold:  33.3%
  • Average:  33.6%
  • Blue:  33.6%
  • White:  33.7%
  • Silver:  34.0%
  • Gray:  34.2%
  • Black:  34.4%

What’s more, the study found these rates tend to be consistent among all vehicle categories, though it should be noted that one is more likely to find a sports coupe or convertible offered in eye-popping hues like orange and yellow in the first place than a more-conservative family sedan or station wagon, where the “non-colors” tend to proliferate.

And we should also point out that the projected losses in value quoted here seem way too low to our jaded eyes – we’ve seen the industry average five-year depreciation rate quoted as high as 63 percent. Still, we’re told this is largely because of the methodology, specifically because projected depreciation is based on listing, rather than transaction, prices. At the least such numbers would indicate a trend.

Perhaps used car buyers, strapped for cash as it is, are more inclined to choose an expressive color that stands out in a crowd, while those in the new-vehicle market may instead prefer to just blend in. Or it’s just the forces of supply and demand exerting their unflappable influence once again – a larger pool of buyers in the used market mean there are inherently more of them out there who may be seeking unconventional colors that are otherwise difficult to come by.

No matter, if the numbers here indeed hold up it could mean a double bonus for astute new car shoppers. Models painted in oddball shades that languish on a dealer’s lot for a lack of interest can usually be purchased at a lower negotiated price than those which are offered in more common colors. Cars that don’t sell quickly cost dealerships money in terms of financing and other expenses, affording an added incentive to clear them from inventory even if it means shaving their markups down to the bare skin. Add a nominal bump in resale value down the road and it’s a win-win situation.

At least for new-car buyers who are willing to drive – let alone find – the vehicle of their choice painted yellow, orange, teal or green.

The fine print: The above projections were based on more than 20 million used vehicle listings from the 1981 to 2010 model years, with depreciation calculated for each car and color based on its original MSRP (adjusted for inflation, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data), its used car listing price and the vehicle’s age. Cars of the same color were then aggregated to determine the average depreciation over five years for each color. Here’s a link to the full study.

We have an award winning Paint Shop!


We are proud of our latest 5 STAR Reviews

5 stars

Thank you for your support!

Five Star Reviews


Best Body Shop In Virginia Beach 2015

Happy July 4th


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:

Eight Steps to Buying a New Car   Click Link!

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!

The Right Way to Tow a Trailer

The trailer is doing a lazy samba behind your SUV as you drive down the highway, swaying side to side far enough to intrude into the neighboring lanes and tug at your truck’s rear end. It feels spooky and is, in fact, unsafe. Funny, the thing was as stable as an alpaca on a mountainside when you left this morning. Since then, the only changes you made were to fill the camper’s water tank and to load the rear with camping gear and luggage.
We Recommend
The Ultimate Toyota-thon! The 15 Greatest Toyotas Ever

Towing a trailer can be a trial. Seemingly minor details—like adding a couple of hundred pounds to the rear—can make profound changes in the rig’s stability. But by following a few simple guidelines, you can stay on track, towing with the utmost ease and safety.
The Right Gear

All hitches are not created equal. The weight that your vehicle can tow is specified by the manufacturer and listed in the owner’s manual. Find two numbers: the gross trailer weight (GTW) and the maximum tongue weight. With those figures in hand, you can then pick the appropriate hitch; they are split into five classes based on weight:

Class 1: 2000 pounds GTW/200 pounds tongue weight

Class 2: 3500 pounds GTW/350 pounds tongue weight

Class 3: 5000 pounds GTW/500 pounds tongue weight

Class 4: 7500 pounds GTW/750 pounds tongue weight

Class 5: 10,000 pounds GTW/1000 pounds tongue weight

My advice is to install a hitch receiver that’s heavy-duty enough to match your vehicle’s GTW and tongue-weight spec, even if you’re planning on towing only a small trailer. Don’t forget to factor in the weight of the trailer’s contents—including the capacity of the fresh-, gray- and black-water tanks—when you’re shopping hitches.

Most hitches employ a removable drawbar, which holds the hitch ball. The bars come in two sizes: 1.25 inches (for lightweight pop-ups and bike racks) and 2 inches (for heavy loads).

Hitch balls come in three main flavors: 17/8 inches, 2 inches and 25/16 inches. Generally, the bigger the ball, the more weight it can support. If you own two or more trailers that call for different ball sizes, I recommend buying separate drawbars with the proper balls permanently attached.

Install the ball onto the drawbar to the proper torque—generally, several hundred foot-pounds. You’ll have to use big tools and lots of muscle, and a generous squirt of threadlocker, which will keep moisture from penetrating the threads and freezing them up, allowing for easier removal.
Merce Iglesias

1. Cross the Chains for Safety

Chains serve as the hitch of last resort: If the tongue ever loses its grip on the ball, the chains will keep the trailer from vaulting the guardrail into oncoming traffic or something equally inconvenient. Cross the chains under the tongue—if it slips free, it’ll land on top of the crossed chains rather than hitting the pavement. A bonus of the X configuration: The chains won’t come up short in tight turns.
Merce Iglesias
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
Most Read
Hybrid Big Rig Doubles the Mileage of Today’s Truc…
Ram Texas Ranger: For the Chuck Norris in All of U…
You Can Buy This ex-Luftwaffe 1975 Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz Is Building a Luxury Pickup Truck

2. Check the Trailer-Wiring Harness
We Recommend
Watch This Man Drive Around in an Upside-Down Pickup Truck

This industry-standard plug and socket wiring and color-coding scheme should make it easy to install the connector properly to the tow vehicle’s harness. Spray the contacts with dielectric grease to prevent corrosion.
Merce Iglesias

3. Always Check the Brake Battery

Trailers with electric brakes rely on a small gel-cell battery to initiate stopping when the breakaway lanyard is pulled. Normally, the battery charges whenever the truck engine is running. But it’s smart to check it before hitting the road; faulty wiring or lengthy storage can sap the juice. Use a test light or voltmeter to make sure the battery is alive; if not, hook it up to an external charger to ensure the brakes are in working order.
Merce Iglesias

4. Set Your Tongue Weight

Swaying trailers are almost always the result of insufficient tongue weight, because adding tongue weight adds stability.

If there is zero tongue weight, the trailer’s center of gravity (CG), the point around which it pitches, yaws and rolls, is centered between the tires’ contact patches. This will provide no stability, specifically in yaw, or sway. Adding tongue weight, by moving cargo in the trailer forward, pulls the CG forward of the tire contact patches. The drag of the tires will tend to pull the CG back onto the centerline of the truck and trailer. The more tongue weight, the farther forward the CG goes, and the more stability in sway, right up until you add too much tongue weight for the tow vehicle’s rear suspension to handle. Industry-wide, the target recommendation for tongue weight is 10 to 12 percent of total trailer weight. Here’s how to check tongue weight if your trailer weighs so much that your bathroom scale won’t read high enough. With the tongue resting on the beam one-third of the distance between the pivot and the scale, a 140-pound reading means that the total tongue weight is 420 pounds, just about right for a 4000-pound trailer.
Merce Iglesias
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
Most Read
Here’s the Brand New Ford Ranger You Can’t Buy
‘Adventure Time’ Explains How a Car Engine Works
Why I Bought a Truck With 281,000 miles
This Guy Grills Meat With a Truck-Mounted Jet Engi…

5. Set Up an Equalizing Hitch
We Recommend
10 Greatest Music Video Cars of the 80s

Once you’ve dialed in enough tongue weight for stability (about 10 percent of the trailer’s weight), there may be too much pressure on the vehicle’s hitch. Equalizing bars (right) induce a rotational force around the hitch and pivot horizontally, transferring some of the tongue weight to the vehicle’s front axle. The stiffness of the bars needs to be correct for your particular trailer, so consult the manual or a trailering specialist. I generally adjust them so that when the equalizer bars are installed, the trailer hitch rises back to within 1 inch of its unladen ride height.

On The Road >>>
Daniel Hennessy
Daniel Hennessy
Setting the Hitch Height

It’s important that the loaded trailer be level to the ground when it’s attached to the vehicle, and that you trim the trailer’s flatness either with an adjustable drawbar or by finding one with the right offset. (If you end up using an offset drawbar, make sure it’s rated to handle the trailer weight.)

First, you need to find the height of the trailer’s tongue when the trailer is level. Set up the trailer on flat pavement. Run the tongue jack up and down or prop it up on some scrap lumber until it’s level. You can determine this by placing a carpenter’s level on the tongue or by eyeballing the trailer from the side from a distance of about 50 feet. Measure from the ground to the top of the ball socket. Park the vehicle you’ll use to tow the trailer on level ground too. Then measure from the ground to the top of the hitch receiver and add 3 inches to accommodate the height of the ball.

Typically, the ball is a good bit higher than the trailer tongue, so the difference is the approximate amount the drawbar will have to be lowered. I say approximate because the weight of the trailer will compress the vehicle’s springs. Hook up everything (with the trailer loaded) and again measure the trailer’s attitude. You’ll likely have to adjust the drawbar height again. I keep a few different drawbars on hand, but an adjustable one is a good investment.
Loading Up

Sure, you know how much the trailer weighs, because it’s printed right there on the registration, right? Don’t believe it, as the listed weight probably doesn’t include a camper’s furniture or the cargo on a utility trailer. Accessories added at the dealership, like an auxiliary battery, ramps, tie-down rails and whatnot, can make the gross weight climb substantially. (Don’t complain to the trailer manufacturer—if your state charges by weight for the registration, you’re saving a couple of bucks. ) The only real way to know is to weigh it, which you can do for a minimal fee at most stone-and-gravel yards, feed stores and truck stops.

Before you head to the scales, load up all the items that you plan to haul, and fill the water and propane tanks. After you arrive, first get the overall trailer weight by disconnecting the trailer and resting the entire rig, wheels and tongue jack on the scale. Next, find the tongue weight by hitching up the trailer and leaving only its tires on the scale. The difference between the two measurements is the tongue weight. You want roughly 10 percent of the ­trailer’s weight on the tongue. Shift the cargo fore and aft until you get the correct weight distribution. Note the position of the load (a camera phone comes in handy for this) so you know for next time. And if you’re changing cargo but don’t have time to visit the scales, use our home-brew method (see “Set Your Tongue Weight”) to get an accurate measurement.

Don’t trust anything to stay put in or on a trailer once you’re under way. Clip or bungee cabinet doors and drawers. Use ratchet tie downs to keep stuff in place.

Inflate the tires to the trailer manufacturer’s maximum recommended cold pressure. Heat is the tires’ enemy, and a properly inflated tire will run cooler. Be even more careful of the small tires on light-duty trailers—the tiny outside diameter means they spin faster. A high-speed run on a hot day with a ton of bricks on board could overheat the tires or wheel bearings.
Hooking Up

Whenever you hook up the trailer, check that all of the lights are working. You can do this without making four trips up to the cab and toggling on all the turn signals and brake lights in succession. Turn on the parking lamps and the hazard flashers. Walk to the back of the trailer. If the parking lamps and flashers are on, you’ve got turn signals and brake lights, because they’re the same filaments as the hazards. This assumes, of course, that the truck’s brake lights are working.
On the Road

Regardless of how tightly you cranked the tie downs on that car, bike or ATV, road vibration can loosen them. So, about 10 to 20 miles after you depart, stop and check their tension. After a few hours on the road—and every time you stop—inspect the trailer. Make sure the hitch and wiring are secure. Kick the tires to see if they’re properly inflated. Tire pressure and properly functioning wheel bearings are crucial. Heat is the telltale sign: You just don’t want any tire or wheel bearing to be significantly warmer than the others. I use an infrared thermometer—or my calibrated palm—to check the temperature of both. A tire becomes hotter if it has less air pressure than the others, so check for a leak. A toasty wheel bearing is on the verge of failing. At the very least, pop off the bearing cap to see if there’s sufficient grease in the bearing cavity.

Every morning, check the tow vehicle and trailer tire pressure, as well as the trailer lights and brakes. Ditto for any tie downs. Don’t forget to shut off the propane at the tank and the electric water pump at the breaker. If you’ve got an auxiliary battery, be sure it’s turned off and connected to the vehicle charging circuit so it’ll charge while you’re under way.

One last tip: If you’re trailering to a campground, leave the freshwater tank empty until you’re on-site. No sense in towing several hundred pounds of water cross-country. Ditto for breaking camp: Empty the black-, gray- and fresh-water tanks at the campground instead of towing all that extra weight around.

How Often Should You Rotate Your Tires?

By Rick Popely  on May 6, 2013

A good time to rotate your tires is when you get the oil changed, assuming you do that at least once a year and more often if you drive, say, more than 10,000 miles annually.

Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that the tires be rotated on the same schedule as oil changes. In most cases that means every 7,500 miles or six months, though some have stretched the oil-change interval to 10,000 miles, such as on many Fords, Volkswagens and Toyotas. BMW allows up to 15,000 miles between oil changes, but that is too long to wait to rotate the tires.

Unless you drive fewer than about 7,500 miles per year, you should probably rotate tires every six months or so.

The tires mounted on the drive wheels of any vehicle perform extra duty because they apply the power to the pavement. On front-wheel-drive vehicles that is amplified by the weight of the engine and transmission, and because the front tires do most of the work in turns. Rotating the tires between front and rear a couple of times a year spreads out the burden so they wear evenly. Automakers that offer all-wheel-drive cars also recommend rotating tires. Subaru, for example, says to do it every 7,500 miles or 7.5 months, whichever comes first.

There are exceptions to these examples, particularly with performance models that may have different schedules for tire rotation. We suggest you follow the recommended schedule outlined in your owner’s manual, but rotate the tires (and change the oil) at least once a year. You don’t have to go to a car dealership to have this done, and many tire dealers and other repair shops will perform both jobs for about $30 total.

Top five ways the heat affects your car – and what to do about it

Have your hoses and belts checked regularly – alongside a 3-5,000 oil change is a decent interval – paying particular attention to areas near connections and clamps. Also, have your cooling system pressure tested for leaks, then flushed and filled regularly.
View all 5 photos

Greetings fellow Washingtonians and welcome to Hades. Summer is in full swing, and the mercury is rising faster than the federal deficit. The heat is hard on us humans, but it takes an even greater toll on our cars. Here are the top five ways the high temps can wreak havoc on your ride – and what you can do mitigate the damage, save some money, and maintain your car’s long-term value.

Replacement cost: $100+ each on average, plus mounting and balancing
Maintenance cost: <$30 annually for checks, protectant

We are most concerned with avoiding road hazards like nails, glass and other debris that could cause punctures, but heat is a comparable enemy. In addition to the heat generated by rolling resistance and friction of your tires, summer pavement temperatures can exceed air temps by 10-15 degrees. The extreme heat increases stress on tread cracks, sidewall bubbles, bald spots or other structural deficiencies that could cause a blowout or disintegration, especially at highway speeds.

Dealing with it: Have your tires inspected during each oil change for proper inflation, tread depth and signs of wear or damage. This also applies to older tires with low miles but for whom age may have compromised their structural integrity. Regular vehicle cleaning can also help protect your tires, specifically the use of protectants like Armor-All that often contain UV protection and help maintain the elasticity of the rubber.

Replacement cost: $100+, plus towing when you’re stranded
Maintenance cost: Virtually nothing

Like sub-freezing temps in the dead of winter, summer’s extreme heat can render your all-important car battery useless. In fact, high temperatures actually accelerate your battery’s chemical operation and cause its internal fluids to evaporate, causing it to burn out quicker. And the last thing you want on a 90+ degree day is a dead battery and no air conditioning.

Dealing with it: Keep your battery functioning properly during the summer and all year-round by keeping it clean. The terminals should be free of corrosion and if not, apply a solvent of water and baking soda with some steel wool to get rid of it. Like other periodic maintenance items, have the battery checked at regular intervals by a professional mechanic. A battery that does not hold a charge can also indicate a malfunctioning or inoperative alternator.

Belts, Hoses, Cooling System
Replacement cost: $300+, radiator
Maintenance cost: <$50 annually for checks, fluid replacement

Even today’s modern vehicles have traditional systems of belts and hoses to help move essential fluids like oil and coolant and turn fans to maintain proper engine operating temperature. Frequently, a basic visual inspection of these items may not reveal harmful damage occurring inside hoses and on the undersides of belts. Prolonged exposure to excessive heat can cause cracks, leading to radiator failure and engine overheating.

Dealing with it: Have your hoses and belts checked regularly – alongside a 3-5,000 oil change is a decent interval – paying particular attention to areas near connections and clamps. Also, have your cooling system pressure tested for leaks, then flushed and filled regularly.

Paint & Upholstery
Replacement cost: $2000 minimum for a professional, factory-finish job
Maintenance cost: <$200 annually for regular cleaning and waxing

Vehicle paint processes have evolved, offering more vibrant colors, brighter finishes and improved corrosion protection. The bad news is that some manufacturers have directed production cost-savings into the paint booth, resulting in thinner paint coats that are more susceptible to external damage. Constant, direct sun exposure can damage your vehicle’s clearcoat and cause paint, rubber and plastic trim to fade, crack or peel. Similarly, high temps inside your car result in a greenhouse effect (a 90 degree day can cause temps inside your car to exceed 120) causing your dash and upholstery – whether leather or cloth – to fade, dry out and crack.

Dealing with it: In the absence of a garage, many car detailing experts recommend covers to protect your car from oxidation, bird droppings, acid rain and other contaminants as well as sun damage. The same cover will help keep the direct sun away from your interior and lower cabin temperatures, protecting interior surfaces and materials. Waxing your car is also an essential process that helps protect your paint. Applying a liquid sealant and a carnauba-based wax (Meguiar’s, Mother’s and Turtle Wax are popular brands) once per year will help maintain your paint and protect it from the elements. Inside, a generous application of low-gloss protectant like Armor-All will help protect those interior surfaces as well.

Replacement cost: $3,000+
Maintenance cost: <$100 annually

In concert with the engine (referred to as the powertrain), the transmission is the functioning heart of your car. This critical component is under increased stress during summer’s high temps and its labyrinth of internal parts is subject to failure if overworked or not properly maintained. This is especially critical for individuals like contractors, couriers, newspaper deliverymen, carpoolers or boat owners who carry loads that may exceed their transmission’s capabilities.

Dealing with it: Keep on top of scheduled transmission maintenance, including fluid and filter changes at least every 20,000 miles. If your vocation or lifestyle requires carrying heavy loads, check your owner’s manual to ensure it is within the vehicles towing capacity. And for the everyday driver, keep unnecessary cargo out of your vehicle that can build up and add taxing weight.

If you have other questions about vehicle maintenance or care, drop me a line at

The TOP 10 Auto Body Repair Shops in the Virginia Beach Area VA

Click link below!

The Best Auto Body Shops in the Virginia Beach Area VA Are the Ones Verified As Safe To Hire
Auto body shops in the Virginia Beach Area Virginia bearing The Prime Buyer’s Report TOP 10 symbol are those collision repair services verified by our independent research to have met any State licensing requirements for reliability and professionalism, carry liability insurance as protection for you the customer, and for whom our staff has called previous customer to verify high satisfaction with them for auto body repair in the Virginia Beach Area VA, including dent removal, auto painting, frame straightening, and more.

Opening Panel2

Holiday Road-Trip Survival Tips

Are you and your family planning to drive to a holiday get-together this year? Whether you’re heading to Grandma’s cottage or a favorite vacation spot to celebrate holidays with family or friends, AAA has simple tips to help make your drive a smooth one, so you can arrive at your destination safely and without incident.

Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. If maintenance is not up to date, have your car and tires inspected before you take a long drive.
Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads during the most popular times of the year. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
Keep anything of value in the trunk or covered storage area.
If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers. Go with them on bathroom breaks and give them whistles to be used only if the family gets separated.
Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
In case of an emergency, keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times. AAA and many other companies offer smartphone applications that enable motorists to request help without making a phone call.

With a little prep, you can leave the road-trip stress at home and enjoy your holiday with family and friends.

Protect Your Car from Sun and Heat

The sun and heat can be very damaging to a car. During testing conducted at the State Farm Vehicle Research Facility, interior air temperatures have been recorded well in excess of 145 °F and vehicle interior surface temperatures on areas exposed to direct sunlight in excess of 195 °F.

But it’s not just the dashboard and seats that you need to look out for, a car’s finish and engine are also at risk. So whether you live in a warm climate year-round or just need protection during the summer months, it’s always best to be safe and prepared.
Protecting Your Interior

Park in the shade. It is the easiest form of protection. By avoiding direct sunlight, you’ll help keep your dash from drying and cracking. If it is safe to do so, crack the windows to help lower the interior temperature and equalize the air pressure.
Use a windshield sun protector. It’s a great way to keep your car cool and prevent sun damage. They may look a little cumbersome at first, but they are really quite easy to use.
Wipe dash with a microfiber cloth. Dust and dirt can cause tiny scratches that can become worse over time. Wipe down the dash frequently to remove all particles. A low-gloss detailing product will also protect it and reduce glare.
Install seat covers. They not only protect leather and fabric seats, but they also help keep them cool.
Protect leather seats with a conditioner. The sun and heat can really do a number on them. To help avoid cracks or tears, keep seats clean and apply leather conditioner often.

Tips for the Exterior

Wash and dry often. Sun and heat can fade and crack the paint. Frequent washing and hand drying help remove dirt and dust particles that can cause micro scratches and dull your car’s finish.
Wax your car. A layer of wax between your car’s finish and the sun’s ultraviolet rays is a great way to help protect it. How often a car needs a wax job varies, but it is best to do it on a regular basis.
Check tire pressure. Hot pavement and under inflated tires can be a dangerous combination and may lead to a blowout. Even good tires can lose about one pound of air pressure a month, so it’s really important to check often when it’s hot. Make sure you follow your vehicle’s manufacturer recommended tire pressure.

Under the Hood

Cooling system. In order to help protect your engine from overheating, make sure it is in good working order. Have the belts checked and antifreeze/coolant drained, then replaced on a regular basis as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
The rest of the fluids. The possibility of overheating greatly increases when fluid levels are below recommended levels. Regularly check motor oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid. If any need to be topped off, check your owner’s manual about the types of fluids recommended.
Battery. High temperatures and high accessory loads (use of the vehicles air conditioning) can cause it to wear out and fail quicker. Have the vehicle’s battery and complete charging system checked regularly by a professional mechanic to make sure it’s functioning properly.
Air conditioning. Staying cool not only keeps you comfortable, but can also help you stay alert when driving. If your car’s interior temperature isn’t cool enough, the refrigerant charge level in the air conditioning system may be low or there may be a more serious problem. Have it checked by a professional.

Be sure to stay cool and safe no matter how hot it gets. A little preventative maintenance and simple upkeep can keep you on the road and out of your mechanic’s garage.
– See more at:

About I-CAR, What is I-Car?

About I-CAR

I-CAR, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair, is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the information, knowledge and skills required to perform complete, safe and quality repairs.

Formed in 1979 out of a collaboration across the six segments of the collision repair Inter-Industry, I-CAR serves — and is represented by — all segments of the Inter-Industry:

  • Collision repair
  • Insurance
  • Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)
  • Education, training and research
  • Tools, equipment and supply
  • Related industry services

I-CAR’s focus is to provide everyone involved in collision repair with access to high-quality, industry-recognized training solutions. I-CAR also encourages and supports ongoing conversations in the industry on issues that impact collision repair.

Funding for the organization is primarily derived from student tuition. This assures that I-CAR can remain unbiased in developing programs and services on an industry-wide basis. I-CAR delivers its services and training throughout the United States. I-CAR training content is also licensed for distribution in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Protecting Your Car From Road Salt

Protecting Your Car From Road Salt

Although road salt is necessary for safe transportation when snow and ice accumulate on roads and highways, taking active steps to protect your car from road salt is necessary to avoid rust and corrosion and general loss of your investment.

Why Road Salt?

Salt was first used in snow and ice control in the 1930s to make roads safe and passable by creating a lower water freezing temperature. Salt is the most available and cost-effective de-icer and is easy to store, handle, and apply. Unfortunately, road salt also promotes rapid corrosion.

Removing Road Salt at the Car Wash

When salt is on the road, washing your car is the major factor in combating corrosion and maintaining the value of your car. Salt that remains on a vehicle surface and undercarriage for any length of time can;

  • damage your car’s clear finish.
  • promote rust.
  • affect the mechanics of your vehicle.

Preventing Salt Damage to Your Car

  • Wash your vehicle every 10 days or less.
  • Wash your vehicle whenever the temperature reaches 40 degrees F. or higher.
  • Wash your vehicle during the day to allow it to dry completely before freezing evening temperatures begin.
  • Immediately after washing the vehicle, open and close all doors, the trunk, and other parts of the car with locks several times before parking it to prevent locks from freezing.
  • Avoid driving through deep snow. Deep snow can become packed into the undercarriage and contribute to corrosion and even cause drivability problems (reduced braking action, vibrations, inhibit airflow, etc).

Snow and sleet contain corrosive road salt and rain and snow collects pollutants in the air and drops them as acid rain which can damage the protective finish of your car.

  • Wash your vehicle as soon as possible after a snow or rain shower if you live in an area subject to acid rain.
  • Wash the underside of your car often during the winter months in a car wash that does not use recycled water.
  • Avoid driving through large puddles of standing water where road salt collects.
  • Repair paint chips that are larger than the tip of a pen to avoid corrosion.
  • Wax your vehicle at least every six months to give your vehicle a strong protective coating.
  • Wax your vehicle before winter to protect your paint from corrosive salt.

Vehicles are one of the biggest investments we make in our lifetimes and protecting them from the ravages of the environment, such as salt and rust is important. Certain vehicle problems are inevitable, but rust from road salt is one that can be prevented.

Some of the areas of vehicles that are most affected by rust are body panels including doors, fenders, the hood, and tailgate. The reason for this is that they inherently have areas that retain moisture. Depending upon the model of vehicle, there are many other areas that can retain moisture as well. Certain cars retain more moisture just due to the way they are designed, so you have to be especially careful and vigilant with them. Some factors that you have no control over include the environment in which you live. If you live in a coastal area you are exposed to more salt air for example. If you live in an area where there is snow and ice on the road, the authorities usually use salt on the roads which can result in rust on your car’s undercarriage.

Rust prevention tips:

  1. Keep your car clean and coated with a finish protectant at all times.
  2. Keep the underneath of your car rinsed continually when you are in an area where a lot of salt is present as mentioned above.
  3. Keep your grill, cowl, tires, and wheels clean and free from moisture holding material like leaves.
  4. Make sure any drainage holes in the frame, floor, and the bottoms of the doors are clear so that any moisture can get out.
  5. Always open your doors after washing your car to allow any accumulated water to drain out.

Rust Proofing Tip

Rust proofing only works on new vehicles. Rustproofing a pre-owned vehicle may trap dirt and moisture beneath the product resulting in an increased risk of rust and corrosion.

Top 5 ATVs for Hunting

hunting atv

Hunting for the Ultimate Hunting Companion
by Jason Giacchino

We use the word “specialization” a lot when describing the ATV market of late, and with good reason. There was a time in the recent past when manufacturers offered up maybe half a dozen models to cover the entire spectrum of ATV riders’ needs. Yet these days, it isn’t uncommon to find that many trim packages offered for a single model! In short, these are good days to be involved in the sport, but we can understand how having so many viable options to select from could become overwhelming to a prospective rider.

As always, your ATV Connection editors are here to help. Today’s buyer guide will concentrate on those ATV’s specialized for hunting. And while it’s tough to even begin to narrow down the plethora of models available to just 5, we will do our best to steer hunters into the right direction when selecting an ATV.

Before we just start rattling off names and models, it’s important to realize that these days the first decision to be made will be to determine whether an ATV or UTV (side-by-side) would be adequate for your needs. UTVs are generally graced with additional storage capacity not to mention the ability to transport passenger(s). The downside is that they are heavier, larger and certainly more expensive then their ATV counterparts. For the sake of this article we will assume you have weighed your options and decided that the ATV is the choice for you. (Be on the lookout for the UTV options soon!)

That said, the question then becomes what makes an ATV a good hunting companion in the first place? Hunting ATVs should provide easy access to locations that are hard to get to by foot and impassable for a truck. Hunting ATVs should be capable of hauling materials and supplies, such as tree stands, into isolated areas. Finally, having the power to transport harvested game back to your vehicle after a hunt is an important consideration.

So where would we start our search for a machine capable of meeting such criteria? Without further ado:

polaris sportsman

#5) Polaris Sportsman 850 H.O. EPS

A liquid cooled 4-stroke single-overhead-cam twin cylinder 850 provides the juice for the big Sportsman while a large 5.25 gallon gas tank assures passage to the most isolated areas and back again.

Features like all-wheel-drive (and 2wd select-ability), electronic power steering, electronic fuel injection, cast aluminum wheels, rear storage box and a standard passenger seat sweeten the pot. As if all of that weren’t enough, driver hand and thumb warmers mean hunting on cold mornings a lot less miserable.

The 850 starts at ,999. More information can be had at the following URL:

kawasaki brute force

#4) Kawasaki Brute Force 750 EPS

A liquid-cooled, 90-degree, 4-stroke SOHC (four valves per cylinder) V-twin powers the Brute Force, while an upgraded fully automatic, dual-range continuously variable transmission (CVT) is mated to the V-Twin. Electronic power steering and fuel injection and easy-access storage round out the goodies.

A new high gear ratio and a thicker belt made of stronger material are designed to contribute to longer CVT belt life and reduced maintenance requirements. Kawasaki boasts revised converter weight and drive spring tuning which offer improved acceleration characteristics and increased control during low-speed operation. Also, a new layout and revised placement of the CVT air duct is designed to be more effective at helping keep out water and mud.

We’re partial to the Realtree APG HD edition, which is covered in Realtree APG HD camouflage for hunters and outdoorsmen who require more stealth in the woods.

The Kawasaki Brute Force 750 EPS Realtree APG HD retails for ,349. More information can be found at the following URL:

Arctic Cat 700

#3) Arctic Cat 700 Super Duty Diesel

A 686cc liquid cooled I-Twin SOHC 4-stroke 2-valve diesel engine powers the Artic Cat 700 Super Duty. Such interesting features as front and rear speedracks, on-the-fly 2wd/4wd w/diff lock, and a 2″ receiver round out the goods.

The unique engine is made for Arctic Cat by Lombardini, an Italian company with an 80-year tradition of building some of the best medium-size engines in the world. Here’s the kicker, this ATV runs on six kinds of fuel: DF1, DF2, DF Arctic, JP5, JP8 and ti B20 Biodiesel. Diesel is 50% more fuel-efficient than comparably powered gas units.
The Artic Cat 700 Super Duty Diesel goes for ,299. More information can be found at the following URL:

Yamaha Grizzly 700

#2) Yamaha Grizzly 700 FI 4×4 EPS

A fuel injected 686cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled single, SOHC, 4 valve Raptor-based combustion chamber design produces a potent combination of low-rev torque, instant throttle response and high horsepower. The compact engine design features a 35-degree cylinder angle for ground clearance and lower seat height for quick steering and maneuverability.

Industry-exclusive, fully automatic Ultramatic transmission is the most advanced drive system in ATVing. An automatic centrifugal clutch maintains constant belt tension for reduced belt wear and uses a sprag clutch for all-wheel downhill engine braking in 4WD mode and a three-position On-Command In/Out 4WD feature lets you switch between 2WD, limited-slip 4WD and fully locked differential 4WD, all with the simple push of a button.

Fuel injection, electronic power steering, and the best power-to-weight ratio of any Yamaha utility ATV make the biggest Griz a bear to consider.

The Grizzly 700 FI retails for ,499. More information can be found at the following URL:

Can-Am Outlander

#1) Can-Am Outlander 1000

An 82-hp Rotax 1000, V-Twin, liquid-cooled, SOHC, 8-valve (4-valves per cylinder) powers the massive Can-Am. Additional features include a new SST G2 frame, Torsional Trailing arm Independent rear suspension (TTI), a new high-strength multi-function rack design with exclusive LinQ quick-attach accessory system and a 5.7 US gal (21.4L) water-resistant rear storage box.

A 2-inch receiver hitch, large 5.4 gallon fuel tank, and a factory digitally encoded security system (DESS) round out the goodies that separate the Outlander from the competition.

The Can-Am Outlander 1000 starts at ,449. More information can be found at the following URL:

Did we hit the mark or what? Let us know in the forums:

Self-driving Cars Are No Longer a Thing of the Future

But how long will it be until your car no longer needs you? Click this link to watch video

Driverless automobiles made flashy appearances at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, although nobody expects them to take over the roads anytime soon. And I know one big reason why that won’t happen. The Department of Motor Vehicles. I recently became one of the first people on the planet to earn an all-new license from the California DMV that allows me to drive a car that drives itself. Just one of the wacky bits of bureaucracy that comes with disruptive new technologies like self-driving automobiles.

Technically, my license is an “autonomous vehicle testing” permit. That sounds a bit less sexy that a driverless license, but actually it means that I’m one of the first people, ever, to be allowed to not touch the steering wheel of a moving car for extended periods of time.
Why Iraq’s Fight Against ISIS Just Got a Lot Harder NBC News
Rare Identical Triplets — Two Conjoined — Born in Texas NBC News
Bike Paths and Parks: America’s Fittest City Is… NBC News
15 Brutally Honest Cards For Couples With A Sense Of Humor Huffington Post
Adnan Syed Of ‘Serial’ Gets Major Breakthrough That Paves The Way For Asia McClain’s Testimony — At Last Huffington Post

Cool, right? Texting, iPad movies and long naps—here I come. Maybe not—at least not in the foreseeable future. Even though I was chauffeured earlier this week by a prototype Audi from Silicon Valley all the way to Vegas, I still had to pay attention when I was behind the wheel—because in a Stage 3 autonomous car like the Audi (there are five stages, the fifth being a completely robotic taxi) things could still go very wrong. “Really, this is an important responsibility,” Volkswagen group senior engineer—VW owns Audi— and co-passenger Daniel Lipinski told me sternly. “In an emergency you have to take control immediately.”
Popular Among Subscribers
Cuba Time Magazine Cover
Cuba on the Cusp
In the Line of Fire
The Roots of Baltimore’s Riot

It may all sound futuristic, but driverless autos are already here. Carmakers such as Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla are testing them on public roads around the U.S., readying technology that will change the way we commute, not to mention pizza deliveries. Audi timed its road trip, and our exclusive first drive, to the start of the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, where Mercedes-Benz and Ford also made announcements about autonomous technology.

The Wildest Concept Cars of 2014
Anybody can take Chevy’s Chaparral 2x Vision concept car for a spin — anybody with Gran Turismo 6 for the Sony PlayStation, anyway, where the car is a playable download.
One day, we’ll all finally get to ride those light-cycles from Tron. For now, there’s Toyota’s FV2 concept car.
Doors? Where you’re going in the Smart Brabus FourJoy concept car, you don’t need doors.
The pickup truck hasn’t really changed much in decades — until Volkswagen took it on with this Tristar concept car, which takes a pickup and makes it super offroad-friendly.
Gene Blevins—LA DailyNews/Corbis
Anybody can take Chevy’s Chaparral 2x Vision concept car for a spin — anybody with Gran Turismo 6 for the Sony PlayStation, anyway, where the car is a playable download.
1 of 9

There’s no doubt that auto autos will become mainstream. But despite a chorus of sunny pronouncements from companies like Google, don’t book your robotic Uber ride just yet. “We won’t see piloted driving on the freeway until the next decade,” said Jörg Schlinkheider, head of driver assistance systems for the VW of America. “And fully autonomous driving with no human assistance is far, far away.”

This statement was a bit stark, considering I’d just spent more than two hours schussing south down Interstate 5 towards Bakersfield, Calif., in a prototype Audi A7 sedan that drove itself. Traffic was thick, and yet the Audi handled itself capably, changing lanes and keeping up with the flow of traffic. Even at speeds of 70 m.p.h., my hands were in my lap and my feet tucked out of the way. It was eerie at first, but then I relaxed. Perhaps too much. I stopped paying keen attention to traffic, even turning to chat with the unnerved passenger in the back seat. (Sorry, Daniel.)

The 550-mile road trip was a powerhouse display meant to show how far Audi’s technology has come. The car uses an array of sensors, radars and a front-facing camera to negotiate traffic. At this point, the system works only on the freeway and cannot handle construction zones or areas with poor lane markings. When the car reaches a construction zone or the end of a highway, a voice orders you to take the wheel back. You’ve got about 10 seconds to do so before an array of LED lights goes from blue to amber, and then flashing red. You need only grab the wheel or apply the gas or brake to resume control.

If the technology still needs to evolve, the laws governing autonomous cars must evolve even more. The federal government does not yet have specific laws pertaining to the subject, leaving individual states to create their own mandates. California is easily the most proactive, allowing carmakers to test cars under specific circumstances. “California is taking this very seriously,” said Schlinkheider. Still, Audi is hoping the laws will become clearer when federal agencies eventually step in. “We can’t deal with 50 different states and 50 different sets of regulations. Right now we have to take special steps for drivers in California, but anyone with a driver’s license can pilot a prototype in Michigan.”

One of California’s stipulations is that drivers receive special instruction in how not to drive. I got mine at the VW Group’s semi-secret testing grounds outside of Phoenix. (Imagine a desert spy lab surrounded by high hedges and walls.) The training included basics like turning the system on and off and learning the circumstances in which it could be used. The rest was about handling emergencies, such as making lane changes to avoid crashing. Not that anything would go wrong, the Audi execs stressed (I briefly had visions of a Skynet takeover). Better to be over-prepared, they said. In all, it was far more difficult and involved than a regular driving test.

Average buyers will not need such training. That’s because the roll-out will be slow. In Audi’s case, it will be with a program that allows the car to operate itself in stop-and-go highway traffic jams. When the jam clears, though, the driver will have to take the wheel again. We’ll likely see that within the next couple of years, said Schlinkheider. As for the kind of high-speed freeway driving that I experienced, Audi will not release it “until the next decade.”

“It makes me happy to hear a major manufacturer saying that,” said Dr. Jeffrey Miller, an associate professor at the University of Southern California who specializes in intelligent transportation systems. “We’ve got these players like Google with very ambitious timelines, but I think Audi’s timeline is spot on. Not only does tech need to mature more, so does driver acceptance.”

Even better, he also thought my license was pretty cool. “A lot of people will say licenses — and drivers — will be obsolete, but that’s not the case. The driver will always have to take over in case of a failure.”
Politics rick perry

How To Choose the Best Car Insurance Company

Setting your priorities, checking reputations and financial standings, comparing quotes—shopping for the best car insurance company for your needs might seem daunting unless you tackle the process one step at a time.

Know What You Want

Understand what coverages and amenities you’re looking for in a car insurance company. Are you solely looking for cheap auto insurance? How might choosing the cheapest option affect your actual coverage? What about customer service—that’s important, too, right?

Know your priorities before you begin looking to buy car insurance. Ideally, you’ll want a company that offers great coverage at an affordable price from customer service-oriented agents.

Check for Reputation and Financial Standing

Once you’ve found a few seemingly compatible car insurance companies, do some investigative work and check out the companies’ reputation and financial standing.

  • First, check with your state’s Department of Insurance website and make sure the company is licensed to sell auto insurance in your state.
    • Also, take a look at complaint ratios, if available.
  • Then, look at the companies’ financial standing on reputable websites such as J.D. Power and A.M. Best.
    • Auto insurance is a two-way street: you pay for the coverage and your company provides the coverage. You need to make sure your company can pay your damages when required.
  • Finally, find out how the companies stand with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
    • The BBB ranks companies from A+ to F, and gives you a multitude of information about those companies, such as the length of time they have been in operation and information about customer complaints (including resolutions).

Compare Car Insurance Quotes

Consider these tips when comparing auto insurance quotes:

  • First and foremost, never look at just one or two car insurance companies; always get and compare at least three quotes.
  • Talk with family members and friends about their car insurance providers.
    • How long have they been with the company?
    • Are they satisfied with their rates?
    • What about customer service? How has the provider handled their premiums in the events of traffic violations, at-fault accidents, and other common premium-increasing situations?
  • Look for auto insurance companies that offer discounts and good-driver rewards programs.
    • Some companies provide breaks for drivers of certain ages or for drivers with anti-theft devices.
    • Others offer rewards (e.g. lower premiums) for drivers with consistently good driving records.
  • Ask about bundling insurance policies.
    • Also known as “multi-line coverage,” some companies provide discounts for purchasing two or more lines of coverage (such as car insurance and homeowner insurance).
  • Check out the companies’ social media accounts.
    • Reach out to your potential insurance companies on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and evaluate how they respond to your questions about issues such as coverage and discounts.

Remember, comparing car insurance quotes is never just about what’s cheapest.

Periodically Evaluate Your Coverage

Getting great car insurance coverage at an affordable rate is fantastic, but don’t get complacent. Many companies decrease premiums for certain life events, such as:

  • Buying a new car. You might get lower rates if you purchase a new vehicle with great safety and anti-theft features.
  • Moving. Living in low-crime areas tends to get you lower premiums.
  • Getting older. Mature drivers (generally those who are 25 and older) often benefit from lower car insurance rates.
  • Getting married. Combining two insurance policies into one can save you money. Married drivers are also viewed as more responsible and often see lower rates.
  • Purchasing a new home. Remember multi-line insurance? You could get a discount if you insure your home with the same company.

Of course, some life events can increase your rates—which means you’ll want to talk with your agent about ways to decrease them or even start comparing quotes from other providers. Such situations include:

  • Moving. Again, moving can affect your car insurance rates, and in this case moving from a low-crime area to one with a higher crime or accident rate might cost you.
  • Filing claims. Each claim you file can increase your rates—especially claims for at-fault accidents. Talk with your agent about ways to decrease rates or avoid rate hikes, or consider shopping for another provider.
  • Traffic violations. Similar to filing claims, the more traffic violations and driving points you accumulate, the higher your premium could become.
  • Adding a teenager to your policy. Often, increased rates when adding a teenager to your policy are unavoidable; however, if you feel the premium has become too high, talk with your agent about ways to decrease it (such as teen driving courses) or start looking at other companies.

Simply put, whenever you experience a life event that might decrease or increase your rates, it’s time to evaluate your coverage and perhaps even start comparing quotes from other providers.

Consider Working with an Agent or Broker

The difference between car insurance agents and car insurance brokers is that, generally, agents work with one company while brokers work with several companies.

So, while an agent can help you get the best coverage and rates from his or her particular company, a broker can shop around and help you find the best coverage and rates from a number of companies. Keep in mind, however, they may charge you a broker fee.

Unless you feel comfortable shopping around on your own or have your heart set on one company, you might want to consider consulting an agent or broker about your car insurance needs.

Join 1,972,984 Americans who searched for car insurance rates:

What is the Best Car Paint? Get the Facts

What is the Best Car Paint? Get the Facts

The best car paint depends on the car model that you have chosen. There are several different types of car models that are present in the market but the same car paint looks completely different on every car model. Before you choose new car paint, take a look at the best car paint products on the market now.

Are Automotive Paints Unique?

Automotive paints are made of many toxic compounds and they are manufactured specially for coating cars. All types of paint follow a simple method of application where primer is sprayed onto the surface of the car. This prepares the car for the new car paint. The application technique of the paint job, the amount of paint and the depth of color will then decide the eventual shade of the car.

Types of Automotive Paints

There are many types of automotive paints but the major ones are as follows

  • Nitrocellulose paints- these paints are one of oldest varieties of paints. The paint is made up of cellulose and was used on cars since the 50’s.  This paint formulation is particularly good to resist light and pollution and lasts for a long time. Recently, several countries have tightened restrictions on the use of nitrocellulose due to the large amount of organic solvent that evaporates into the air when you use it. You can still find this variety in the market but there are better formulations that you can choose too.
  • Acrylic lacquer is another variant that is really popular. But this paint too requires a thinner to create a really great coat on the car. The finish is smooth and appears glass like. The only requirement is regular buffing to get the paint to shine properly. This paint is still available in the market and is the best variant for beginners to practice with. The paint dries fast and mistakes can be sanded down rapidly too.
  • Acrylic enamel is one of the cheapest paints around and can be easily used by beginners.
  • 2 pack paints are used on all modern cars and are one of the best car paint varieties in the market. They are easy to use and relatively cheap too. The finish lasts long and is extremely damage resistant. The paint is made in two parts where paint and hardener are mixed to create the complete coat. This paint does contain isocyanates though which are considered extremely dangerous to human health.

Can I Mix Two Paint Brands Together?

No you cannot. This is because two different chemical structures of paint are not compatible with each other. Please make sure that you check the original paint on your car and remove it completely before attempting a repaint job.

What Are the Varieties of New Auto Paint that Are in the Market?

The latest shades of auto paint that are popular are pearlescent and metallic. Metallic paints are made by mixing aluminum flakes with the shade of paint that you want. The effect can be controlled by calibrating the amount of flakes that you add to the paint shade. Dozens of shades are available for you to choose from. Pearlescent shades are made of a solid base coat, a pearl flake coat, and a clear top coat. Pearlescent paints can also change when the light hits it causing a color flip when the light hits it. For example, the color Amaranth changes from blue to pink to pink purple depending on the light which strikes it.

Grahams offers Towing 24/7 (757) 422-1966

Grahams can tow your car to shop 24/7. We are only a phone call way. Call (757) 422-1966.


Power Pro Frame Straightening System by Blackhawk


Graham’s use the finest Frame Straightening system available. The Power-Pro SL Series by BlackHawk.

Click the following link to visit their website for more information.

Grahams uses Dupont OEM Coatings


Please visit the Dupont website by clicking the following link.