Friday, May 29, 2015

$28,000 Compact SUV Challenge

We set a maximum price of $28,000, including a destination charge, and each car had to get at least 26 mpg in combined city/highway EPA ratings. Eight SUVs fit that bill (in alphabetical order):

• 2015 Chevrolet Equinox
• 2015 Ford Escape
• 2015 GMC Terrain
• 2015 Honda CR-V
• 2016 Mazda CX-5
• 2015 Nissan Rogue
• 2015 Subaru Forester
• 2015 Toyota RAV4

Unfortunately, Ford was unable to provide an Escape for our Challenge.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nine Signs Your Brakes Need Repair

Normal wear and tear on a car's brake system requires regular inspection of the them and other components. Skipping maintenance or putting off minor repairs can lead to serious - and expensive - problems. Driving habits determine how long they last. Driving carefully extends the life of most of them like rotors and calipers. Keep the car's suspension system - shocks and struts - well balanced, too. A poorly balanced vehicle puts unnecessary strain and wear on the brakes, and they wear out faster.

Symptoms of a brake problem:
  1. The brake warning light is activated.
The problem: The car giving an alert that something is amiss in the system.

The solution: Get the car inspected by a trained mechanic as soon as possible. Replace or repair any worn or damaged parts, and follow a regular inspection and maintenance schedule in the future.
  1. They make a squealing or grinding noise when they are applied.
The problem: Any grinding, squealing, screeching or rubbing noises heard during braking indicate it is time to have the system inspected. The pads and shoes may have started to wear down and need to be replaced. In some cases, the gasket between the pad and the piston may be missing, causing vibrations to escalate to squealing sounds.

The solution: Replace worn pads and shoes immediately, before they damage other parts. If the gasket between the pad and piston is missing, have the technician replace it.
  1. The brake pedal is spongy or slow to respond. Brakes feel weak.
They still work, but it takes longer to stop and sudden stops create less braking power. You may have to press down farther on the pedal to get results. If the pedal goes all the way to the floor, the car may have no braking power.

The problem: The pads may be too worn to effectively stop the car, or the fluid is too low to allow for adequate braking pressure. In the worst case scenario, the brake power boost unit may have failed or the master cylinder has failed.

The solution: Replace the pads as soon as possible, and have the fluid checked for contamination. If necessary, replace the fluid. Checking the brake power boost unit requires a special vacuum measurement tool, because brake boosters are vacuum-controlled. If the unit has failed, it must be replaced. Failed master cylinders also must be replaced.
  1. The brakes make a "clunking" sound.
The problem: Something may be loose inside the system, such as the bolts that hold them together or attach them to the suspension. Suspension components may be worn or broken. Ball joints, steering racks, tie rod ends, wheel bearings and more can cause clunking sounds.

The solution: Have the vehicle inspected immediately and repair any loose components or worn parts.
  1. The brake pedal is too firm.
If applying them suddenly feels very difficult and it is hard to depress the pedal, this can be an indication of a significant problem.

The problem: The vacuum brake booster system may have a leak or it may be failing. There may be an obstruction in the line circulating fluid throughout the system.

The solution: Get the car to a mechanic immediately. Having any leaks in the vacuum booster system repaired. If there are no leaks, the booster has probably failed and needs to be replaced. The technician should check for blockages in the lines. In some cases, the line has been damaged or pinched and needs to be repaired.
  1. The brakes seem to be "grabbing" or braking causes the car to pull to one side.
The problem: Grabbing or pulling when braking can indicate that they or suspension system has a problem. In some cases, the discs may be damaged.

The solution: Replace worn or contaminated pads. If the disc is damaged, replace the discs in pairs to ensure the car brakes evenly.
  1. The brake pedal vibrates when brakes are applied.
Most cars have ABS, and the pedal will vibrate during sudden, hard stops as part of the normal anti-lock braking function. Other vibrations felt through the pedal or steering wheel during braking indicates a problem.

The problem: There may be metal-on-metal rubbing in the system. The brake rotors may be warped or being damaged by worn-out pads.

The solution: Replace any worn our contaminated pads. If the discs have been damaged, replace them immediately. Check the suspension system and replace any worn or damaged parts. Have the mechanic check the car's alignment, and get an alignment if necessary.
  1. The brakes "drag" or do not immediately release when the driver takes their foot off the brake pedal.
The problem: The system may have a bad wheel cylinder, causing them to remain under pressure. The parking brake may not have fully released, leaving it engaged slightly at all times.

The solution: If the technician finds a problem with the wheel cylinder, it must be replaced. If the problem is with the parking brake, the cable control may need lubrication or replaced.
  1. There is a strong burning smell near the tires
The problem: Brake pads may be seriously worn, or they may have been over-used. If the driver habitually "rides the brakes" or brakes very hard, brakes can overheat. This often occurs when coming down a steep hill or mountain drive. If the smell occurs during regular driving, a more serious problem exists. A caliper piston may be locked, or there may be a problem with the parking brake or brake pads.

The solution: Drive smart, and do not ride the brakes or drive with the parking brake engaged. If driving down steep hills frequently, downshift rather than constantly use the brakes to slow the vehicle. If the burning smell of overheated brakes occurs during normal use, get the brake system inspected. Replace or repair caliper pistons, brake pads or parking brake components as needed.

If you are looking for honest advice, prioritized repairs, options on repairs, maximized fuel economy, and a good feeling with who you are doing business with go to
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Saturday, May 23, 2015

How Auto Body Repairs Saves You Money in the Long-Run

While the world's economy continues to become worse, we all keep on trying to save money and keep as much as we can in our pockets. We are simply trying our hardest to get the most value for what we spend and also make it last as long as possible.

One downfall is that it is inevitable that unfortunate accidents are going to happen and we will have to let some cash loose. It is no secret that our vehicles do take up quite a lot of our hard earned cash. However, this does not mean we stop spending our money on one of our most prized possessions.

It is vital to keep our vehicles looking fantastic, running well and also to protect their value and your investment. If you are unfortunate enough to have an automobile that has had auto body damage, then you will indeed save more money long-term by having a reputable body shop take care of the repairs immediately.

The majority of the time, car owners feel that if the vehicle they own has had some damage to the body, then they will need to get a whole new replacement for that part. Car owners should worry less as this is certainly not always the case. There are many auto repairs which can be performed including bumper repair, paint touch up, windshield repair, headlight restoration, wheel rim repair and much more, without replacing the whole part.

Auto repairs tend to cost a mere fraction of what replacement parts cost. Another advantage of repairs instead of replacements is that the job can be completed very quickly. The process usually only takes a few hours and there isn't the time consuming wait for specific parts to arrive.

Some damages, unfortunately, can actually lead to even more substantial repairs and costs, if the damage is not dealt with quickly enough. For example, if the vehicle has chipped or cracked paint, it is then exposing the metal body to all of the different types of elements especially moisture and in some areas road salt.

This is due to the fact that paint acts as a type of sealant. If the cracked or chipped paint is not repaired fast enough, then rust will gradually start to form around the area which is affected. This can lead to disaster, as rust is very invasive and is certainly a much more costly repair.

Therefore, if you have minor repairs sorted quickly, you will actually be able to keep your hard earned cash in your pocket. Most of the time, a rental car will not be required when you're vehicle is undergoing minor repairs because the work required will be completed very quickly. This will help you save cash as you will not need to pay for a rental, not to mention the added hassle of having to return the rented vehicle when your repairs are complete.

There are a lot of auto body shops that work closely with insurance companies while repairing vehicles. Some of these shops will even contact and negotiate with them for you. It is true that in most cases, your insurance company will certainly pay for the repairs, based upon your insurance coverage, however, if the work to be done is fairly minor, most people usually just pay the price themselves, as the cost is so small and far less than their deductable.

If you pay a little extra when the initial damage occurs, then it is a fact that you will save money in the long run. It will definitely prevent you from having to spend more on the smaller repairs that were not dealt with properly, which will result in even more extensive work required for your automobile.
On top of this, you will be able to maintain your vehicle's value, so that when the time comes to trade it in on a newer model, you will receive a much higher amount to put down on your next newest acquisition.

Majestic Collision Repair is Guelph's auto body experts. If you've been in an accident and need body work done, they'll lead you step-by-step through the entire process. They deal directly with your insurance provider, and also supply you with valet shuttle service and rental car support. As a fabulous finishing touch, they also supply a free car detailing. If you've been in an accident, or just need some cosmetic work done, go to mybodyshop website for more information.
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Friday, May 22, 2015

Five Tips For Preventative Maintenance On Your Car

Preventative maintenance is key to keeping any car running smoothly. Maintenance and general car care will extend the life of your vehicle and save you from making needless, expensive repairs. What does proper preventative car maintenance entail, however? Here are our top five tips:

Check and Change Your Oil

Whether you have to get out the dipstick or simply glance over the notifications on your car's dash, make sure you check your current mileage and adhere to a regular oil change schedule. You've likely been told a thousand times, but oil is the lubricant for your vehicle's engine and it is a critical component of the entire vehicle's operation. Most manufacturers recommend that the oil and oil filter gets swapped out approximately every 5,000 miles. Ensure that you adhere to this schedule to avoid complications, although you should consider performing this change every 3,500 to 4,000 miles.

Gauge Your Tires' Air Pressure

While maintaining proper tire pressure may not be as serious a routine as changing your oil, it's still an important aspect of preventative maintenance. Keeping your tires properly inflated will improve your fuel efficiency while also avoiding potentially more serious problems that can result from having a severely under-inflated tire. Ideal tire pressures vary from tire to tire, so check your owner's manual to know how to adjust your tire if you have a flat. Also, be aware of whether your tires are currently filled with standard air or nitrogen.

Top Off Your Miscellaneous Fluids

Fluids other than oil are also critical to the performance of any vehicle, and your car has quite a number of them. You'll want to ensure power steering, transmission, transaxle, brake, antifreeze, and even windshield wiper fluids are kept at their proper levels, as instructed by your vehicle's owner's manual.

Engine coolant should be checked at least one a year, while it's recommended that transmission fluid is attended to every 30,000 miles. Also, don't forget about brake fluid. Moisture builds up over time and can severely impact your braking system. You should also have this fluid flushed out approximately every two years.

Don't Act Like You Own a Race Car - Slow Down!

Outside of immediate safety concerns, driving quickly and pushing the pedal to the metal, so to speak, has its notable disadvantages. The United States DOE (Department of Energy) notes that it takes roughly 70 percent more horsepower to maintain a speed of 60 mph (miles per hour) than it does a speed of just 50. That's a surprising increase, and with it comes fuel efficiency concerns. However, it's not just about gas. An increase in average speed of about ten mph over time can lead to as much as a 40 percent jump in routine maintenance costs.

Have Your Engine Belts Closely Monitored

A lot of people may believe that they'll notice any serious issue with their car in time to prevent a catastrophe, but this isn't always the case. Unmonitored engine belts can wear down with little indication as to their debilitating state. Once they have worn down, they can fail in an instant with no warning. For example, a timing belt that is worn and doesn't get replaced can snap completely while you're driving. While the belt is costly to replace on its own, there can be monumental collateral damage. Even if you pull over immediately upon receiving an engine warning, a broken timing belt can wrap around the engine in such a way that it totals it, requiring you to either pony up for a new engine or face the prospect of biking to work or school.

When they need a car mentor, Ohio residents turn to
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Time for Spring Vehicle Maintenance

It´s that time of year again, spring. Your vehicle is ready to be treated well after a long, hard winter and you will need to make sure that a full spring maintenance is done to keep your car or truck in perfect operating order. Let´s take a look at some of the most important factors in the spring maintenance.

Exterior Spring Maintenance

Wiper blades. These are an important part of vehicle maintenance. You´ll want to replace old blades or clean newer ones that have gone through the rigors of winter. Wiper blades should be replaced every six months anyway, so doing it during your spring clean up is perfect timing.

Washing. The salt that is used to melt ice on roads can be very damaging to your car, so now that spring is here, give it a thorough washing from top to bottom. Make sure you rinse the undercarriage as well, since this is where a lot of rust happens without you noticing.

Waxing. This is the perfect time to wax your vehicle so it will last for a while and be easier to clean next time. You should also repair any chips in the paint at this time.

Tires. Check your tire pressure and top up if needed. Keeping your tires at optimum pressure will save you hundreds of dollars in gas and tire wear, so this should be a regular thing, not just for spring maintenance.

Engine Maintenance

Oil. You should change your oil every 3 to 4 months, so an easy way to remember that is to simply change with the change of seasons. Your spring vehicle maintenance is the ideal time to do this.

Tune up. Get a tune up now, to make sure that your vehicle is in great condition for summer driving, when most longer trips are taken. This will allow you to travel safely to weddings or on vacation.

Fluid levels. A quick check of all fluid levels is a good idea at this point, too. Make sure everything is topped up so your engine will be running at top efficiency and you won´t have to deal with problems in this area later on.

Other Vehicle Maintenance

Interior. Now that the weather is warmer, you´ll be able to get out the vacuum and get rid of the clutter and garbage that built up over the winter! Clean out your car´s interior and vacuum for a nicer driving atmosphere.

Brakes. A break check should be done every spring to ensure that they are in perfect working order. You may not even realize that your brakes aren't working properly, since we tend to get used to them as time goes on. This can end up being very dangerous, so get them checked before you head into spring.

Other systems. Your spring maintenance checkup is a good time to review all other areas of your vehicle, replace broken lights and repair any other problems that you have been leaving until warmer weather.

A spring vehicle maintenance is the ideal way to ensure that your vehicle is ready to drive and is safe to do so for the spring and summer months. This includes checking out the main systems, fixing up your car and removing the winter salt and grime that can be damaging, as well as replacing parts like the windshield wipers for better visibility. It´s an important part of car upkeep. You should also do a winter maintenance session to ensure that your vehicle is ready for winter, six months or so from now.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Midsize SUVs Have Mixed Small Overlap Results - IIHS News

Midsize SUVs have mixed results in latest round of small overlap tests

ARLINGTON, Va. — Three more midsize SUVs achieved good or acceptable ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the latest round of small overlap front crash testing, but many models, including three newly rated SUVs from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and one from Hyundai, continue to struggle with the test.

Monday, May 11, 2015

8 Best Cars for Teen Drivers | Consumer Reports

The number one killer among young drivers is car crashes. So when car shopping for your teen, safety is the top priority. But a bigger vehicle isn't necessary better.

Friday, May 8, 2015

6 Simple Car Maintenance Tips That Will Help Your Car Last Longer

Cars are not designed to run indefinitely without periodic car maintenance. If you wait until problems occur, you'll probably end up damaging your car and paying a lot more than if you take care of your car on a regular basis. By doing these simple maintenance tasks, you can expect to get years of service out of your car.

1. Change the oil according to the manufacturer's recommended car maintenance schedule. For most vehicles, this is every 3,750 miles or every three months, whichever comes first. Changing the oil ensures that your engine oil is clean and at the right levels, which helps the engine keep running smoothly.

2. Check the radiator to ensure it is full and have a professional check the level of anti-freeze in your cooling system. If it overheats, this can cause significant damage that you could have avoided with some basic cooling system maintenance.

3. Inspect your car on a regular basis, and take the time to learn what to look for. The gauges can clue you in that there's a problem your mechanic should look at. Repairing a chipped window before it turns into a huge crack is a lot less expensive than replacing the entire windshield and a lot less hassle as well.

4. Go to the same mechanic for all of your work, even if it's the most basic things. By going to a single mechanic, he'll notice things you may not about your car and can give you car maintenance advice that a mechanic seeing it for the first time may miss.

5. Clean your car, inside and out, on a regular basis. Allowing dirt and grime to sit on your vehicle can damage it, causing the upholstery to wear out faster or the paint to start chipping. If possible, park your car in a garage or under a carport to keep it dry and help prevent rust.

6. Check your tire pressure with a pressure gauge and use a pump to fill them to the correct levels. This will help them to wear more evenly, and it also helps with increasing your gas mileage. When the weather changes is an important time to check the air pressure since temperature does affect air pressure.

Although you have to pay for car maintenance, these small costs are much easier on your budget than the big ones you'll have to pay if you neglect your car. Replacing major systems is expensive, as is getting an entirely new car if yours breaks down beyond reasonable repair sooner than it would have if you had taken care of it.

By finding the right car maintenance service, you can potentially save yourself thousands of dollars in the long run. Because of the great service he always receives, Russel Spinella uses Brakes Plus as his go to auto repair shop.
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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Hidden Dangers of Old Tires | Consumer Reports

Even with low miles, old tires present a safety risk. Consumer Reports tells you how to check your tires.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Inside IIHS: Crash Test Photography

The "Inside IIHS" series of videos offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the work of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and its Vehicle Research Center.

"Inside IIHS: Crash test photography" explores what it takes to produce the high-quality, slow-motion footage needed to learn exactly what happened in a crash test and to communicate those findings to the media and the public.