Saturday, March 30, 2013

Would Your Car Benefit from Premium Gas?

On this community episode of Saturday Mechanic Ben and Russ answer Ryan's question about whether he should use premium fuel in his Toyota Corolla.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Volvo Cars: Vision 2020 -- Dedication to Building The Safest Cars

Volvo's long term vision is that by 2020 nobody will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo. Ultimately, that means designing cars that do not crash. It's a unique and bold vision in our industry -- after all, they've committed themselves to a specific date. Not only that, in typical Volvo style, their long-term vision has regard for others, too. Because cars that don't crash not only keep their passengers safe -- they also protect other road users, including pedestrians. Volvo is working to achieve their Vision 2020 by teaming up with industry partners and government agencies, by fitting their cars with preventive and protective safety systems, and by studying how people behave in real-life traffic situations.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

How To Deal With The Dreaded Check Engine Light

If you have ever owned a vehicle, chances are you have seen it. It can look slightly different depending on what type of vehicle you drive, but it serves the same purpose for every car and truck. It's a small, brightly lit warning light located on the instrument panel. This little warning light has an amazing ability to raise a person's stress level and in some cases, a person will go so far as to cover it up with a wallet size photo or a small piece of black electrical tape. I am talking of course about the "check engine" or "service engine soon" light that illuminates when your vehicle's on-board diagnostic computer has detected a malfunction.

Why does this little light create so much panic in some people? First of all, it never lets you forget that something is wrong with your car or truck. Secondly, mental images of expensive repairs may start to build in your mind. Yes this light can be disturbing and even annoying, but covering it up won't make the problem go away and if left unattended, the problem can actually become worse. Not all people are so intimidated by the check engine light and in fact, some motorists don't even realize what it's there for. The on-board diagnostic computer that is standard in newer vehicles is constantly monitoring numerous systems, and all the parts associated with those systems. When the computer detects a problem, it sends out a signal to illuminate the warning light so you know it's time to get your vehicle into the shop for a professional diagnosis.

So many of the parts on your vehicle are interconnected and depend on each other to keep the vital systems of your car or truck working properly. If you decide to ignore the check engine light, the problem caused by one affected component may spread to other areas. As the problem spreads, the cost for repair is likely to go up. On the bright side of things, a service engine soon light can be caused by something as minor as a loose gas cap. Either way, it's important to get your vehicle into a reputable repair shop with certified mechanics and have the problem diagnosed right away.

The internet is a great resource for researching auto shops in your local area. Look at the customer reviews for each shop before making your decision. Most auto repair shops these days have their own websites and many offer discounts for services like check engine light diagnosis. When you speak with the service writer, be sure to communicate everything you know about the problem you have been experiencing. Have there been any strange noises, any vibrations, or any other lights showing up on your instrument panel. The more information you offer the more effective and efficient the technician will be with the diagnosis. It's also important that you understand the entire process and that you receive a cost estimate of all work to be performed.

A check engine light can definitely be unnerving and annoying, which is all the more reason to have it taken care of in a timely manner. Just remember that trying to ignore the problem can actually make it worse and when problems get worse, repair costs go up. If you haven't already chosen a repair shop that you're comfortable with for routine maintenance and other repairs, it's probably a good idea to get that done. Just in case that pesky check engine happens, you'll know exactly where to take your vehicle so you can get back on the road quickly and safely with the peace of mind of knowing that your vehicle was in good hands.

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

BMW History. The 02 Series.

Originally, it was only an internal designation, but these digits were to become the stuff of legends: 2, later 02. In 1966, volume production started up for the 02 Series. This series was extraordinarily successful in reinterpreting the concept of the sports saloon and played a major role in motor sport long after production had come to an end.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Be Kind to Your Transmission

Everyone who owns a vehicle should know how to keep their transmission running smoothly. There are a few steps you can take to lengthen the life of your vehicle and add to the number of worry free driving miles you will enjoy in your car's lifetime.

If you know how your transmission works and how to keep it running smoothly, you will be able to prevent problems and high repair costs in case it ever breaks down. With your transmission, many gear combinations keep the engine going at its specific optimum revolutions per minute. The transmission is what sends the engine power to the wheels.

The type of transmission you have in your vehicle is a good indicator of how often it might need to be repaired and what you can do to take care of it. There are two types of transmissions. One kind is manual, operated by the clutch foot pedal located just to the left of the brake.

To keep your manual transmission running smoothly is usually easy, as it does not often wear out. The automatic transmission does not last as long as the manual transmission and need more care. For example, the filter has to be changed whenever the fluid is replaced.

On of the best ways to keep your transmission running smoothly is to change the fluid. The manual of your vehicle should supply specific details on how to do this, and how often. However, the average suggestion is every 25,000 miles.

Even though there are many fluids available, you should try to use the transmission fluid designed for your car. Transmissions might be designed to only use a specific type of fluid, so be certain to use the correct one.

One of the most important ways to keep your transmission running smoothly is to be aware of any potential symptoms of transmission problems. If you notice any kind of unusual vibrations or noises, as well as other abnormalities that seem to be coming from the floor of the vehicle, you should have your car checked out by an expert before the problem can get any worse.

If you regularly check for any stains, weird smells, or cloudy transmission fluid, you will be able to catch transmission problems before they get too bad. Getting them fixed promptly will save you lots of money on costly repairs.

Occasionally to keep your transmission running smoothly, you might need to have repairs made. Sometimes it may just need small adjustments, or other times it might be a complete overhaul. You want to avoid the complete overhaul if you can, because the entire transmission is taken apart, with each piece inspected, cleaned, or replaced.

You might also have to have your transmission completely replaced. Both these procedures are costly and time consuming, so be sure to be kind to your transmission.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Felix Baumgartner Test Drives The Volkswagen XL1 | Geneva 2013

Supersonic Skydiver Felix Baumgartner is a regular when it comes to reinventing what's possible. At the Geneva Motor Show he discovered the Volkswagen XL1; the model that redefines what's possible in car making.

With systematical lightweight construction and perfect aerodynamics the XL1 gets 261 miles to the gallon, making it the most fuel-efficient eco-friendly production car in the world. The XL1's 2-cylinder plug-in is enough to impress even a record-breaking free fall.

Car experts Mike Rutherford from The Sunday Times and Birgit Priemer from Auto Motor und Sport got their shot behind the wheel, as well as other international journalists who got to test the motor handling in different types of weather in the Swiss Alps; from country roads, highways, and melting passes. They came back impressed.

In the long run, other brands in the Volkswagen Group will also benefit from the technologies in the XL1. The XL1 is a car for the future, driving in the roads of today.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

On the Money: Car Maintenance

Once your new car warranty expires, you may begin to encounter a series of small repairs that can quickly become large projects if you do not address these problems at once. Car maintenance can be costly, but putting this off can lead to even more expensive repairs. Happily, if you budget accordingly, you can pay for your maintenance as needed, avoid expensive repairs and keep your car in top shape for longer.

1. What you spend. What did you spend on car costs last year? Pull out your maintenance and repair costs from your total costs, separating auto insurance, registration fees, fuel costs and taxes from the pack. This will be a good starting point to anticipate what you might spend in the coming year. Yes, have a calculator on hand as you can tabulate your figures with accuracy and ease.

2. Consider upcoming costs. If you have owned your car for some time, some of the more significant maintenance issues may be due. This can include replacing your timing belt, installing a new muffler, buying a new set of tires or something else. That something else may be listed in your owner's manual, so pull that book out too. Look at the manufacturers' maintenance schedule and compare it with your odometer. Plan to handle maintenance issues you have missed as well as those that are coming up in the next 12 months.

3. Divide and conquer. With last year's figures in hand and your projected costs known, add these together. Divide that number by 12 to calculate your monthly average. For instance, if you estimate that maintenance will cost you $1,800 in the coming year, then you will need to set aside $150 per month to cover your expenses.

4. Stash your cash. You know how much is needed for the next 12 months and how much each month that you should set aside. You can break this down further by dividing the annual total by your number of paychecks and set that amount aside for car maintenance. Thus if you get paid ever other week than divide that $1,800 by 26 to arrive at nearly $70 per pay period. Open up a savings account and plan to fund it accordingly.

Looking Ahead

You may also want to set aside additional money toward the down payment on your next car. In fact, with careful planning, you may be able to pay cash for your new car too. Don't put off your car maintenance savings plan or the work that needs to be done. A well maintained car will last longer and keep you and everyone else safe as well.

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Volvo Reveals World-First Cyclist Detection with Full Auto Brake in Geneva

Volvo Cars has rolled out another Volvo world first in automotive safety at the Geneva Motorshow 2013. The Cyclist Detection with full auto brake detects and automatically brakes for cyclists swerving out in front of the car.

The new technology is an enhancement of the present detection and auto brake technology and will be available in newly unveiled S60, XC60, XC70 and S80 models.

This video takes a closer look at the Cyclist Detection technology and presenter James Blatch, talks to Volvo's Safety Senior Technical Specialist, Lotta Jakobsson.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Top Ten Worst Things You Can Do To Your Vehicle

According to professional mechanics, neglecting proper maintenance and service is a leading cause of mechanical issues. Many high cost repair issues and emergencies can be prevented by avoiding these top ten worst things.
  1. Ignore the Check Engine Light - Check engine lights are designed to warn a driver of a malfunction detected in the computer. Though the lights can temporarily flash in error, if they stay on there is an issue with the auto that needs to be diagnosed. The software gives an error code to mechanic's through a scan tool and can be easily identified.

  2. Neglect Regular Maintenance - Service plans are designed to encourage owners to keep their vehicles in working order. These check ups are not only for performing regular maintenance. It is not uncommon to find that keeping maintenance up is a requirement to keep a car's warranty valid.

  3. Have Improper Tire Pressure - The tire pressure should be kept within the acceptable limits based on the specifications. Not only does improper tire pressure decrease fuel efficiency, it speeds up the wear on the tire. Vehicles with properly inflated tires will be better on fuel and get more use from the tires. The limits are listed in the owner's manual and can also be obtained from knowledgeable mechanics.

  4. Let Vehicle Run Low on Fluids - Beyond the regular oil change many of a vehicles's systems require fluid to function properly. One of the worst things you can do is neglect to keep them clean and at proper levels. Each of these can be easily checked during scheduled maintenance, are a task that you can do at home, can be checked by professional mechanics, and may be covered under a car's warranty. This may be called "coolant and fluid services" yet includes maintenance of the; transmission, brake, coolant, and power steering fluids. Review your scheduled maintenance guide to determine when to get coolant and fluid services done.

  5. Using Generic Replacement Parts - Cars are designed to function with the quality parts that they were originally built with. Replacing these with less quality parts can result in increased wear and the higher instance of malfunction. This danger goes beyond parts in just systems designed for safety like the brake. Generic parts may also be prohibited in a car's warranty.

  6. Ignore Transmission Issues - The transmission is designed to last through hundreds of thousands of miles. Ignoring transmission care is one of the most expensive mistakes an owner can make. Regular flushing of the transmission fluid lengthens its life and prevents emergencies caused by ignoring transmission maintenance.

  7. Not Changing the Oil - Oil lubricates the engine, lengthening its life and preventing damaging build up. It is part of a scheduled maintenance plan and is easy to change. Though opinions on when to change the oil vary each car model has different guidelines. You can find the appropriate oil change schedule in your owner's manual.

  8. Leaving a Dirty Air Filter - Air filters help remove dirt and dust from the intake, allowing the engine to receive cleaner air. They should be changed every 20,000 or as needed and are easily accessed and inspected visually. The cost to replace air filters is minimal yet neglecting it can result in higher repair costs. Both the oxygen sensor and catalytic converter can become damaged if this filter is not replaced.

  9. Using Unqualified Mechanic - Though work by an unqualified mechanic may be cheaper, repairs that are not completed properly can be immensely dangerous. Not only can they cause malfunctions but they may result in accidents that can put drivers and passengers at risk of injury.

  10. Driving Overheated - An overheated vehicle can be caused by minor issues such as a hose that needs to be replaced. Diagnosing the issue may require a mechanic's assistance though hose replacements are generally inexpensive. Continuing to drive while overheated can eventually cause a crack in the engine block or a blown gasket. Either of these scenarios will costs thousands to repair.

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Introducing TOYOTA i-ROAD Personal Mobility Vehicle

The all-electric TOYOTA i-ROAD makes its first global appearance at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. With a width of only 850 mm, the i-ROAD can manoeuvre easily in urban areas. Turn corners smoothly with the i-ROAD's Active Lean technology.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tips on Why Wheel Alignment Is Important

It takes only a small misalignment to create problems with your vehicle, which is why proper wheel alignment is important. Simply put, all of components that make your vehicle go straight are called alignment. Misalignment can be caused by many factors including merely driving your vehicle. Potholes can be common culprits. A sizable pothole can bump your suspension out of the precisely calculated set of measurements that dictate proper wheel alignment.

Why is wheel alignment important?

Improper wheel alignment can effect driving performance as well as cost you money. Total alignment sets all four wheels positioned straight ahead and parallel. The following are benefits of wheel alignment:

o Improves gas mileage. In the recent economy and a year of outrageous gas prices, everyone is looking to better their gas mileage to save money. By having your vehicle aligned properly, it decreases any resistance while rolling which increases your gas mileage. It is also important to make sure that your tires are properly inflated as this will help gas mileage as well.

o Reduces tire wear. Premature tire wear can be costly. One of the signs of wheel misalignment is excessive or uneven tire wear. If your vehicle is not aligned properly, your tires can show wear more quickly due to their not rolling straight and being dragged in the wrong direction. You will have to replace them more often, costing you more. Proper alignment can save you money in the long run.

o Improves the handling of your vehicle. Other signs of improper alignment pertain to the handling of our vehicle. These signs can be if your steering wheel pulls to the left or right, if it is not centered when driving straight ahead or if it vibrates or shimmies. Steering wheel vibration can also indicate tire wear or if they have not been inflated properly. While driving, your vehicle can also have a feeling of looseness or wandering. All of these signs can be corrected with total alignment which can absorb any road shock and provide a smoother ride.

o Improves safety. Proper wheel alignment can help you drive more safely by improving steering and tracking problems. The improved handling and control of your vehicle can help you prevent or avoid accidents.

Why is four-wheel alignment recommended?

Simply put, your front wheels "steer" or drive the vehicle while the rear wheels "direct" the vehicle. Four-wheel alignment solves handling problems by referencing all four wheels to a common centerline.

Yearly maintenance is recommended.

Regular vehicle maintenance is recommended for optimal operation of your vehicle and its safety. It is important that you follow the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations listed in your owner's manual, however as a general rule your wheel alignment and tire check up should be scheduled every 10,000 miles or at least once per year.

Often a suspension system inspection can be included as a part of this regular maintenance. This inspection can allow your ASE Certified Technician to spot potential problems or worn parts now before they become costly problems later.

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