Thursday, May 30, 2013

Inside IIHS: Measuring Roof Strength

"Inside IIHS: Measuring roof strength" takes a look at the crush machine used to determine a vehicle's roof strength and reviews the importance of strong roofs in rollover crashes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Inside IIHS: Frontal Offset Testing

"Inside IIHS: Frontal offset testing" explains the differences between the Institute's two frontal crash tests and demonstrates how structural performance, dummy injury measures, and restraint systems affect a vehicle's frontal rating.

Friday, May 24, 2013

5 Top Small SUVs from Consumer Reports

Small SUVs combine practicality, fuel efficiency, and all-weather traction. The Subaru Forester tops Consumer Reports Ratings. Other great small SUVs include the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

IIHS Small Overlap Test Results for Small SUVs

Redesigned Subaru Forester aces tough new crash test; only 2 of 13 small SUVs tested earn Top Safety Pick+

 The 2014 Subaru Forester is the first vehicle to ace every aspect of the challenging small overlap front crash test. The Forester and the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, which earns acceptable in the test, are the latest vehicles to qualify for the Institute's recently inaugurated top honor, Top Safety Pick+. Other tested small SUVs earn poor or marginal ratings for small overlap.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Water Pump Replacement - The Heart Of A Healthy Cooling System

How important is the water pump to a vehicle's cooling system? One way to understand this concept would be to compare it to the human heart. If a human heart quits pumping, there will be a loss of blood flow and the person will die. If a car or truck's water pump cycle is disturbed, the vehicle will overheat and most likely "die".

The water pump is a device that disperses heat produced by internal combustion engines to maintain correct engine temperature. This device is circular in shape and contains chambers with a spindle in the center. It is usually located toward the front of the engine with a hose that connects to the radiator. The fan belt connects the spindle to the engine and when the engine is engaged, the fan belt turns the spindle which creates suction and permits the water pump to access water from the radiator. The water is circulated to the engine through water hoses. After the cool water absorbs engine heat, it circulates back to the radiator for re-cooling.

The water pump is instrumental in transferring the mixture of water and antifreeze from the radiator to the engine for cooling purposes. Experts agree that it is the most important element of the vehicle's cooling system. If it malfunctions, the engine coolant settles in the block and heads. If coolant isn't circulated to the radiator, overheating results. A vehicle that has overheated could be financially devastating as it may result in a blown head gasket, warped heads or even a blown engine. Any one of these potential results would mean very expensive repairs.

If the water pump is working, but delivers reduced pressure, it can still cause significant damage to your vehicle. A constricted flow will cause higher operating temperatures of the engine and culminate in damages to the radiator, hoses, thermostat, etc. If your temperature gauge indicates that something in the cooling system is failing, it's extremely important to pull over and park the car immediately. Continuing to drive after your vehicle has overheated will likely cause catastrophic damage to your engine.

A growling sound from the engine may indicate a bearing of the water pump is going bad. If the bearings are beginning to fail, the pump will start "weeping". Be vigilant for drops of coolant underneath your car and remember to check your vehicle's coolant level and have it changed on a regular schedule. You may even want to have a professional auto mechanic pressure test the entire cooling system to ensure there are no leaks.

A vehicle's cooling system is comprised of a number of components including a drive belt that circulates coolant into passages located inside the heads and engine block. The radiator assumes the responsibility of lowering coolant temperature while the thermostat controls coolant temperature. The radiator cap controls pressure in the cooling system and various hoses transport the coolant from the engine to the radiator.

There is no definitive answer concerning water pump replacement. Depending upon the make and model of a vehicle, they will usually last approximately 60,000-90,000 miles. Refer to your owner's manual for manufacturer recommendations about water pump replacement. Staying current with the suggested preventive maintenance schedule for your car or truck will undoubtedly prolong the life of your vehicle's cooling system and greatly reduce the likelihood of expensive repairs.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Inside IIHS: Crash test dummies at work

This video explores the types of dummies the Institute uses, how they are calibrated and the technology they contain for gathering information.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spark Plug Replacement: How Often Should I Change My Spark Plugs?

Most manufacturers recommend changing spark plugs every 30,000 miles, but this can depend on your type of vehicle and type of spark plug used. Please refer to your car's user manual for specific replacement intervals. A good spark plug will keep your car's engine healthy! So change your spark plugs at the recommended service intervals. Knowing how to change spark plugs in a car is an essential part of keeping the vehicle's engine running well.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Worn Out Brakes Are Nothing To Sneeze At

Finding a qualified auto shop or brake service center that you can rely on is essential to maintaining the safety of your car or truck. There are many important systems that should be maintained on your vehicle, but it's the brakes that allow you to come to a rapid halt should you be caught in a perilous situation. The brakes are quite literally, life savers.

Some motorists are put off at the thought of potentially spending too much money at a repair station and decide to attempt a brake job on their own. While there are amateur mechanics skilled enough to complete the task properly, it's probably best to trust the safety and accuracy of such a critical system to the care of a trained professional with years of experience. Do it yourself jobs don't always turn out to be less expensive and can potentially turn into very time consuming projects. You may find that you need to purchase special tools, many of which can be expensive. You may also discover that you have ordered the wrong parts, or that you have installed the parts incorrectly. There are a number of factors that can end up costing you time and money if you aren't absolutely sure of how to do the job right. Not only that, you are risking the safety of yourself and others if a brake job is performed incorrectly.

With many of the auto parts installed on your car or truck, you get very little warning if any before they fail. The brake system on the other hand will definitely try to get your attention when one of the various components begins to wear out. There are a number of symptoms that should alert you when it's time to have your brakes repaired or replaced. For instance, you may experience a spongy feeling when you press on the brake pedal. You may also find that the brake pedal travels all the way to the floor. A squealing noise is usually heard when the brakes are worn out. You may even feel your vehicle pulling to one side when the brakes are applied. Any of these symptoms should alert you to the fact that it's time to have your brake system inspected and serviced.

There are two main types of braking systems for cars, trucks and buses known as friction systems, and hydraulic systems. Both systems have their own specific sets of parts. A friction brake system includes brake pads, brake shoes, brake discs, and brake drums. If your auto is equipped with a hydraulic brake system, you will be dealing with brake calipers, wheel cylinders, brake master cylinders, vacuum servos, and regulators.

Brakes suffer from some of the worst wear and tear which is why it's so important to have them checked regularly. There are several factors that dictate how long your brakes will last before a brake service is required. You may find that your brakes wear out quicker if your brake usage is heavy or if you rack up a lot of miles on your vehicle during the year. Another factor is city driving. You will definitely use your brake a lot more if you are cruising around town, continuously stopping at traffic lights and stop signs. Consistently driving in heavy stop and go traffic will also put a lot of extra wear and tear on your brake system.

The average set of brake pads will last approximately 30,000 miles, but this is subject to variation according to the conditions listed above. Brake pads are fitted with a metal lining, and once the pads wear down to this lining, it is designed to give off an audible warning to let you know that it's time to schedule a brake repair. With so much riding on your brake system, it's important to take the responsibility to make sure you are keeping yourself, and everyone else that shares the road with you safe.

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Monday, May 6, 2013

Keep Your Car in Top Shape: Tips to Avoid Major Body Repair

Most body repairs minor things that could easily have been avoided like corrective paint work, parking lot dings, and vandalism. Here are some helpful tips to avoid being a victim of one of these minor body repairs.

Corrective Paint Work

Most corrective paint work is a result of one thing: neglect.

A car, like your body, needs a certain amount of maintenance otherwise it starts to degrade. Most people associate this with things like tune-ups, oil changes, and tire rotations. But this maintenance goes for your car's body, too. Much like a person needs to shower every day to stay clean and healthy, so, too, should you wash your car. Dirt and dust cling to your car and act like sandpaper, slowly eroding the protective paint and clearcoat. When your car's body also has to contend with things like acid rain, and even more acidic bird poop, eventually the paint will begin to chip or, worse, the body will rust.

But don't stop at just washing your car! For an added layer of protection, it helps to wax your car every so often. Wax not only makes your car look shiny and new, but helps to resist dirt and dust build-up. We recommend waxing your car at least once every two months.

Parking Lot Dings

Perhaps the easiest type of body repair to avoid is parking lot dings. These are typically dings from shopping carts, car doors, or (in the worst cases) minor accidents. Here are some helpful tips on avoiding these issues:
  • Do not park near a shopping cart corral. That's just asking for trouble.
  • If possible, find an end spot. This effectively halves the chances of something bad happening.
  • Do not squeeze your car into tight spaces.
  • As a matter of fact, it is often best to park away from other cars. We recommend at least one space separation, preferably more.
  • When pulling out, pull out slowly and check in both directions multiple times.
The most important thing you can do to avoid parking lot dings is simply exercising common sense. If you are looking for more tips, contact your insurance company or visit their website.


Far and away, the best thing you can do to prevent vandalism is keeping your car in a garage. However, many people don't have this luxury. So what else can you do?

If you have a driveway, keep your vehicles parked in as far as possible and consider investing in motion-detecting outdoor lights. If you cannot park in a driveway, park near as many other cars as possible, but avoid parking near large buildings. These buildings can give vandals an easy place to hide. Also make sure the area you are parking in is well-lit.

Finally, investing in a full-size car cover is never a bad idea. Besides being more work than most vandals wish to put into their activities, it also protects your car from needing other types of minor body repair.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Top Ten Detailing Mistakes - DRIVE CLEAN

After detailing thousands of cars, I've noticed some of the small mistakes that can make a big difference in your car's appearance. Often it's knowing what to avoid that is most important for protecting the condition of your car. Less can be more, when it comes to detailing.