Cutting Automotive Technologies That Are Almost Here

Posted in Auto News

There are a plethora of automotive technologies that would have been deemed pure fantasy just a decade or so ago. Here are four, in particular, that are going to change the way we drive and interact with our cars.

1) Countrywide EV Charge Stations

A common concern for EV owners is how they will charge their cars when on long trips. In order to mitigate that worry, various automakers are building the EV filling stations of the future. For example, Nissan, maker of the popular Leaf EV, has announced a partnership with quick-charge provider CarCharging to add 48 chargers in California and select spots on the East Coast. Dozens more quick-chargers have been installed in select states under several federal-private programs. As others jump on board, it’s not crazy to expect that you’ll be able to drive an EV cross-country before long.

2) Enhanced Heads-Up Displays

Today, heads-up windshield displays show a few pieces of driving of data to the driver, things like how fast you’re going, what gear you’re in -that sort of thing. This reduces the driver’s need to take their eyes off the road. The new “Super Multiview Head-ups Display” (SMV-HUD) brings this idea into the future with actionable information and guidance. Imagine road warnings, turn-by-turn navigation arrows indicating your next turn or street names appearing virtually in the distance. Someday you might even be able to drive safely in heavy fog with a head-up display that is integrated with adaptive cruise control and in-car cameras. No longer will bad weather be an issue when you absolutely need to go somewhere.

3) Car-to-Local Object Communications

Using in-car sensors and transmitters built into roadside devices, Connected Cars will be able to send and receive speed and location data to and from each other. The goal of the system is to improve the flow of traffic, avoid collisions and alert drivers to upcoming traffic situations. Its not just a fantasy, a Car-to-Local Object Communication System is being tested now at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute in a year-long test of several thousand connected cars.

4) Autonomous Cars

You’ve probably heard of this one already courtesy of Google. This is the car that drives itself; thanks to cameras, sensors, radar, lasers and a lot of computer science magic. A lot of people are concerned about this because giving up control of a car to a computer seems a touch risky. “Why would anyone do this,” is a common comment. The answer comes from the sales staff at Urse Dodge Chrysler Jeep and they explained to us that, in theory, fleets of autonomous cars and trucks could dramatically reduce traffic and vehicle accidents. That’s hard to argue against. The other answer is that self-driving cars could be great for the daily commute. The cars drives itself and you can concentrate on your work.

Get to Know Your Coolant System

Posted in Auto News

Not many people pay attention to their car’s cooling system. Especially when a car has low mileage, there’s little to be concerned about, however, as the miles pile on things may start to happen. Lets take a look at what your coolant system does and things that you can do to make it last for years.

The primary job of an automobile’s cooling system is to remove the excess heat generates as you run your engine. As a result of combustion, the coolant temperature in a car can heat up to well over 200 degrees, and that energy has to go somewhere! That’s when the engine coolant starts working. The coolant absorbs engine heat and transfers it to the radiator where it is dissipated into the outside air.

As a car owner, you should know that a major factor that affects the reliability of your cooling system is the frequency of regular maintenance it receives -such as coolant changes and checks of hoses and belts. Motorists should consult their owner’s manual for specific recommendations about how often to flush the coolant system and change the coolant. A coolant removes dirt or sediment that has accumulated over the years.

Something that all drivers should know how is how to check the coolant level in their cars. It should be regularly checked at the reservoir and there are indicator lines that will show you what level it should be at. If you are unfamiliar with what your car’s coolant reservoir looks like, and how indicator level lines work, consult your owner’s manual. If the coolant is low in the reservoir, Reedman Toll Jaguar recommends a 50/50 mix of approved antifreeze and water should be added. By the way, when the coolant level is checked, do a visual inspection of hoses, belts for age-related cracks, and the radiator for any coolant leaks.

Drivers should always be aware of signs of trouble, particularly with older cars. Obvious signs of cooling system problems are the vehicle temperature gauge on the dash rising near the danger zone. If the temperature gauge does rise into the red zone, you can be almost certain that you have a cooling system problem of some sort. If see leakage of a green fluid inside your car, under the hood or on the ground under your car, you likely have a coolant leak and should consult a mechanic.

The coolant systems in today’s cars are very reliable and only need periodic maintenance. If you attend to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and perform a visual inspection periodically, your car’s coolant system should last for many, many years.

What Does Your Check Engine Light Really Mean?

Posted in Auto News

What glows and instantly ignites terror in the hearts of drivers everywhere? Nope, it’s not that bioluminescent Alien standing in the middle of the road (although that’s pretty frightening too), it’s the dreaded “Check Engine” warning light glowing in your car.

We all know that the Check Engine Light or “CEL” turning on in your car can be a scary affair. Sometimes it indicates a minor situation, such as a loose gas cap, but it sometimes it means “you are about to spend a lot of money” and that can be pretty frightening. Before making any assumptions, though, it may be a good idea to understand your CEL and what makes it turn on.

Your CEL is a warning lamp on your car’s instrument panel that lights up when the car’s engine computer detects a problem with your car’s engine or a connected part. All cars have some sort of on-board diagnostic system that connects to your CEL.

There are three states that a CEL can be in: off, blinking or on

1)   OFF – When it’s off, all is good. No problems have been detected.

2)   Blinking – When your CEL blinks briefly, it means the car has experienced a momentary issue, probably nothing to worry about. If it comes on and stays on, however, that’s an indication of a problem that could be more serious. If the check engine light blinks constantly, you need to have your car checked ASAP as it has experienced a major malfunction.

3)   ON – This means that the engine’s computer has detected a problem and a service professional should take a look at the car.

Since 1996, all cars sold in the United States have been required to have something called OBD-II in them. “OBD” stands for On-Board Diagnostics, and it’s a standardized way for the engine sensors to report problems. When the CEL comes on, the system records a code that identifies the problem. The neat thing about OBD-II is that it’s ubiquitous. While some manufacturers have equipped their cars with other proprietary diagnostic systems, OBD-II is the same on every car. This means that it’s easy and cheap for mechanics and do-it-yourselfers to buy what’s called a “scan tool” or download the fault code from the OBD-II system to a computer. CarMD is one such service that consumers can buy into and use to diagnose their own vehicles.

Understanding what it means when your CEL comes on, and how to best respond to it can help you keep your car running well, creating less pollution and saving you money.

Source: Crosstown Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

How to Wash Your Car

Posted in Auto News

Yes, an entire article on washing a car. Believe it or not, very few people know how to do it correctly! Here are a few things to know:

1)      Wash your car when it’s cooler outside – Heat will cause the soap and water to dry quickly which will leave streaks on the paint. If the weather is going to be a scorcher, first thing in the morning is a good time to do it, or when the car is parked in the shade, the sheet metal will be much cooler and your car will look better.

2)      Wash your car soon after stuff has be depositied on the paint – Do a full wash as soon as you see things like bird droppings, dead bugs, etc. Bird droppings, in particular, have a high acidity that if left on the paint for any length of time can eat into the clear coat.

3)      Use a special automotive cleaner – This is one of the most common mistakes. Dish soap, laundry soap, and household cleaners are often too harsh to use on a car’s paint. They can strip off the protective wax coating. A dedicated carwash formula, on the other hand, is formulated with a milder soap that doesn’t affect the protective coating.

4)      Don’t use abrasive cloths or sponges when washing – Whether washing or drying, never use a rough cloth or other material with a surface that can leave scratches. A large soft sponge works well, or many professional detailers prefer to use a lamb’s-wool mitt. The reason for this: The thick nap of the lamb’s wool allows loose particles to be worked up into the wool rather than remaining on the surface.

5)      Use a bug-and-tar remover when needed. Mild car wash formulas often aren’t strong enough to remove road tar, grease, or similar residues. For this, don’t just scrub harder, use a strong bug-and-tar remover is a good idea. It is specifically formulated to be kind to your paint finish.

6)      Use a chamois or terry towel to dry the vehicle – Many professional detailing shops use terry towels. A natural chamois works well too but requires more maintenance. It can’t be stored wet and becomes stiff when dry, needing to be remoistened before use.

Information Source: Reedman Toll Chevrolet

Do Tires Have Expiration Dates?

Posted in Auto News

Are you familiar with the horrific accident that killed the actor Paul Walker in 2013. It has been revealed that the Porsche Carrera GT in which he was riding had nine-year-old tires. Is this important? The California Highway Patrol noted that the tires’ age might have played a factor in the accident.

What can tires expire? For years, people have relied on the tread depth to judge a tire’s useful condition. If there is still tread left, then the tire’s still good is the popular belief. But the rubber compounds deteriorate with time. An old tire is quite capable of being a safety hazard. For most of us, old tires will never be an issue but if you only drive 6,000 miles a year, aging tires could be a serious issue.

Want an example? Everyone knows that rubber bands age poorly. They get brittle and develop cracks within a few years. That’s essentially what happens to a tire. Cracks in the rubber begin to develop over time. This aging can eventually cause the steel belts in the tread to separate from the rest of the tire.

So how do you determine the age of a tire? Tires made after the year 2000 have a four-digit DOT code that is embossed on the sidewall. The first two numbers represent the week in which the tire was made. The second two represent the year. Example: a tire with a DOT code of 0908 was made in the 9th week of the year 2008.

So how long does a tire last? The guys at Reedman Toll Subaru explain that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no specific guidelines on tire aging. Some tire manufacturers, such as Continental and Michelin, say a tire can last up to 10 years but many manufacturers say less age is more prudent.

In summary, of all your vehicle’s components, it’s tires have a huge effect on the way it handles and brakes. So keep your eyes on your tires, if you only drive a small amount every year, you may want to replace your tires before the tread is actually worn down.

Diesel vs Gas Engines – Which is most efficient?

Posted in Auto News

How much more efficient are diesel engines than gas powered engines? It’s widely been acknowledged that diesel engines get better fuel mileage than gas engines because they are more efficient. And you have the fact that diesel fuel per unit contains more energy than gasoline. Yes, the diesel engine has some advantages over gas but gasoline engine are catching up.

First, let’s look at efficiency argument. A diesel engine’s higher compression ratio and lean-burn combustion cycle provide an efficiency that no gas engine can currently match. Over the diesel’s operating range, the average “thermodynamic efficiency” is in the mid 30 percent range, at least 15 percent better than a gas engine. Big advantage diesel, right?

The reality is that this lead is shrinking fast. As emissions regulations become stronger and more strict, diesel engines are slowly losing their edge in the efficiency race. A big issue is that most of today’s diesel engines need scrubbers to clean up their dirty diesel exhaust. And these systems happen to crimp the overall efficiency of the system.

Plus, gas engines continue to improve. Over the past decade, once-exotic hardware such as variable camshaft timing, direct fuel injection and turbochargers have become commonplace on gasoline engines. There’s little slowing down the increasing efficiency in gasoline engines.

But while their gasoline powered cousins continue to improve, don’t expect the diesel engine to lie down. Manufacturers are working hard to improve the efficiency of diesel engines even more too. The gains will come from hardware such as variable valve timing and independent cylinder combustion control, as well as improved after-treatment systems.

As you can see, the race is far from over. What is interesting is that while Diesel engines enjoy modest sales over here in the US, they make up over 50% of vehicle sales in Europe! The reason for this is probably more due to an open mind about diesel engines than pure economics, though. American manufacturers have made some very poor diesel engines, (remember the GM Diesel in 1997?) in the past and this has slowed American acceptance.

Source: Urse Dodge Chrysler Ram

Car Myths That Just Won’t Go Away

Posted in Auto News

Ever since there have been cars there have been myths concerning them. Some of them are just wrong but they persist anyway. Here are several automotive myths that refuse to die. You have undoubtedly heard several of these. Enjoy!

Red cars cost more to insure

Why are they more expensive to insure? As the myth goes, “Because red cars are involved in more accidents!” Well, have you ever bought insurance for a car? Was there any point where they asked what color the car was when you got a quote? Insurance agents love this one and get asked about it all the time. From an insurance point of view, car color makes no difference at all but the red car myth seems to go on year after year.

Big cars are safe and small cars aren’t

It’s funny, so many people think that their big SUV (with average handling and a rollover-prone high center of gravity) is safer than a smaller economy car. They forget that the safety of today’s cars are hardly a function of just mass but involve lots of safety technology like high-strength steel, energy-absorbing crumple zones and multiple airbags. The myth continues, though, and probably accounts for a sizable amount of SUV purchases every year. No wonder as a nation that we consume so much petroleum; it’s all these “safer” SUVs on the roads.

Model T Fords only came in black

This is a particularly persistent myth that has been dispelled by Ford Motor Company itself many times. The myth that the Model T “only came in black” probably comes from the reality that almost 12 million of the 15 million total Model Ts manufactured were black. The reality is that the Model T was produced in many different colors, including blue, red, green and grey.

Oil changes should occur every 3,000 miles

The 3000 rule dates back to when engine oils were less refined than they are now and got dirty quicker than they do now. Regular car service, like an oil change, was a necessity back then to keep a car reliable. Today, engines are better, oils are better and few manufacturers recommend an oil change every 3000 miles. Just don’t ask the guys down at Jiffy Lube for their opinion. They are going to tell you that this is hogwash and to stick with the 3000 mile rule. And to go to Jiffy Lube.

Overdrive makes you go a lot faster

We blame this one the Hollywood cliché of “kicking into overdrive”. This generally means that we are really going to haul now. Funny thing is, this is a true myth because overdrive just puts a car into a higher gear. Basically, it’s just for cruising and saving gas; as the engine RPMs settle down the car’s fuel economy usually increases.

Premium gas gives you more power

Wrong! Premium gas is simply less volatile than ordinary gas so it the gas of choice in high compression engines. Using it in your lower compression automobile would be just a waste of money because it has no more power than ordinary gas.

Source: Pomoco Alfa Romeo and Fiat

2016 Lexus GS F

Posted in Lexus

2016 Lexus GS F Front AngleLexus is reinforcing its sporting character with the world premiere of a new GS F high-performance saloon at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on 13 January.

The GS F will be the next addition to Lexus’s ‘F’ line, joining the recently launched RC F coupe. The new model combines a refined, four-door design with the speed and agility of a premium sports car.