May 16, 2013
Originally published: May 9, 2013
Updated: May 11, 2013
By MIKE HANLEY Cars.com
Car ownership is expensive. Take your monthly payments and add insurance, gas and maintenance, and it’s a big part of the family budget. Some features available in today’s cars, though, can make the ownership experience more expensive than it needs to be. Because it’s not always apparent which features might hit your wallet later, we’ve outlined some common ones with hidden costs, and how you can minimize those costs through smart shopping.
Oversized Wheels and Tires
It wasn’t all that long ago when 20-inch — or larger — alloy wheels were rarely offered by automakers, but they’ve become much more common, especially in the luxury segment. They look great, but the cost of the low-profile tires they wear could come as a rude surprise when it’s time for new rubber as the cost for a single replacement tire can top $400. If one of those large wheels also needs to be replaced, you can plan on paying considerably more.
Takeaway: Choosing smaller wheels (and, where offered, steel wheels over alloy) will help keep repair or replacement costs lower.
The idea of summer tires might be appealing if you’re keen on extra grip for your car, but it’s worthwhile to consider the different driving conditions you might encounter. That’s because, despite advances in tire technology, summer tires can be abysmal in even small amounts of snow, so bad, in fact, that you might need a set of dedicated winter tires just to get out of your driveway. Summer tires tend to be more expensive to replace than all-season tires, sometimes to the tune of an extra $100 or more per tire.
Takeaway: Unless you rarely venture from warm climates, all-season tires are better equipped to handle varying road conditions and will be easier on your wallet when you need to replace them.
Four-Wheel (or All-Wheel) Drive
Rugged trucks and SUVs were once the only vehicles with four-wheel drive, but the technology has proliferated and is now offered in everything from family sedans to luxury cars to sports cars. These systems are more complex, and have more moving parts, than conventional front- or rear-wheel-drive systems, and that’s a recipe for expensive repairs when something breaks. It’s not unheard of for repairs to four-wheel-drive systems to cost thousands of dollars. What’s more, the added weight usually exacts a fuel-economy penalty.
Takeaway: Unless you regularly drive on unplowed roads, snow-covered hills or the Rubicon Trail, you probably don’t need four-wheel drive.
Despite volatile gas prices, performance remains a big selling point for some car shoppers, and automakers have heartily offered up performance components. When looking at the cost, though, it’s not just the performance engine’s typically lower gas mileage that you need to consider. The maintenance schedule for the Dodge Dart’s optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine, for instance, calls for more frequent spark plug changes than the base engine, and things like high-performance Brembo-brand brake systems require more expensive brake pads and rotors.
Takeaway: Most modern cars deliver adequate performance, so non-enthusiasts can save money by avoiding performance features.
Built-In Navigation Systems
Besides adding hundreds to thousands of dollars to the cost of a new car, built-in navigation systems lose their value faster than the car itself, which represents another cost when it comes time to sell it. While a 5-year-old car should usually have a lot of life left in it, a 5-year-old navigation system is probably as dated as that 5-year-old cellphone you found during spring cleaning and quickly tossed in the trash.
Takeaway: If you must have navigation in your car, portable devices are getting better and cost much less. Remember, though, to set your destination into the device before hitting the road.
Camera- and Sensor-Based Systems
Take a close look at a newer car, especially one with a luxury badge, and you’ll likely see a camera or two or a row of small round sensors. These have been added in the name of safety and convenience, but they’re also highly susceptible to damage if they’re located on or around the bumpers. According to RepairPal, expect to pay $860 or so to replace the backup camera of a 2013 Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.
Takeaway: If you like the additional peace of mind offered by these systems, look for systems with cameras mounted near the inside rearview mirror, out of harm’s way.
If something is going to get knocked off your car, it’s likely one of the outside mirrors. A 2013 Toyota Camry side mirror with its blind-spot monitoring system, for instance, could cost $397 to replace, according to RepairPal. That doesn’t take into account other high-tech elements like integrated turn signals or power-folding functionality that are appearing on more cars.
Takeaway: Skip the high-end features, especially if you street park in a city. It’ll save you money now and possibly in the future too.
Power Doors and Liftgates
The convenience of power-sliding doors can’t be overstated, especially when you’re trying to herd young children into a minivan, and powered liftgates are equally useful when your hands are full. That convenience can become an aggravation, though, when one of those motors fails. According to RepairPal, repairing the motor for the 2013 Toyota Sienna’s power-sliding door can cost $1,181. Ouch.
Takeaway: Power conveniences are great when they work, but manually operated side doors and liftgates eliminate the expensive repair cost.
Roof racks are great for holding skis and bikes that don’t always fit well inside a car, but if a roof rack is just an extra space for stuff, more or less, you’re probably compromising fuel economy more than you realize. Automakers spend a lot of time tuning a car’s aerodynamics so it slips cleanly through the air, but a roof rack (even when there’s nothing in it) acts as a giant wind deflector that will decrease your gas mileage, especially on the highway.
Takeaway: Try to fit all your cargo inside the car, if possible, and if you need to use a roof rack, take it off your car when you’re done using it.
Until recently, air suspensions were mostly offered in the luxury segment, but they’ve begun appearing in mainstream models like the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and Ram 1500 pickup. The technology’s advantages â€” a comfortable ride and active management of the vehicle’s ride height â€” are noteworthy. However, RepairPal says that air suspensions, in general, are more expensive to maintain and repair, and some consumers opt to replace them with conventional springs when they experience a failure.
Takeaway: Unless you absolutely need the unique attributes of an air suspension, stick with a conventional setup.
Retractable hardtops have made a resurgence blending the freedom of top-down summer driving with the comfort and security of a coupe. Though popular in the luxury segment, they’ve also appeared in mainstream convertibles such as the Volkswagen Eos. The operation of these systems is something to behold as the multipaneled roofs motor up and down in a carefully choreographed dance. It just looks expensive. But if something goes wrong and the car is out of warranty, expect to open your wallet wide.
Takeaway: A convertible with a manual-folding soft-top brings all the enjoyment of top-down driving without the complexity and cost of a power-retractable hardtop.
May 13, 2013
Time for a little Auto TLC Q&A! This week, we’re talking about oil weights in summer.
Question: Some of my friends swear that you have to change oil weights with the season, replacing lighter weight oil in winter with heavier ones in summer. Is this really true?
Answer: When it comes to oil, everyone has an opinion, but very few of them are actually correct. We know that using the right oil is an essential part of keeping your engine healthy, but do you actually know what that means?
Years ago, changing oil weight for summer or winter months was part of proper maintenance. Old conventional oil formulations had only one viscosity, and oil would thin out as it was heated. In winter months this caused starting trouble because the oil would turn to molasses and the pumps couldn’t lube the engine properly. To combat this, a lightweight oil such as 10-weight was used for cold weather, so it would flow, while heavier 30- or 40-weight oils were best in summer months to prevent the oil from breaking down in the heat. This problem was solved with multiviscosity oil, oil that flows better when cold, then thickens and protects better when it’s hot—the best of both worlds.
With an oil like a 10W40 (the W stands for winter), the oil flows similar to a 10-weight in freezing temperatures to minus 30 C and protects like a 40-weight at 100 C. With this innovation in oil performance, changing weights for the season is no longer necessary and may be detrimental. Modern oils are very effective across all temperature ranges, and new engines are designed and tested to work specifically with only the type of oil listed in your owner’s manual. Older cars can use modern oils too, just base the first viscosity on your climate, e.g., 0W for northern Canada, 10W for Florida, and use the original oil spec for the operating weight. Most older cars work fine with 10W30.
While we’re on the topic of oil, it’s worth taking a moment to demystify synthetic oil. Synthetics are really just natural oil refined to a much higher degree, with more complex additive packages for improving performance in both everyday and extreme conditions.
Many sports cars come filled with synthetic to offer the best possible protection. Ron Sullivan, Pennzoil’s technology manager, breaks it down. “For most applications, stick with the manufacturer’s recommended oil. But if you want to better protect your engine over the long term, especially against extreme abuse like towing or constant stop-and-go traffic, synthetic might be for you.” According to Sullivan, a high-quality synthetic flows better at all temperatures, which makes cranking easier in the cold and gets lubrication to critical components faster. It also resists high heat much better, something very critical in the latest turbocharged engines. “When you stop these engines, the oil has to resist being baked by the heat in the turbo’s oil bearing,” Sullivan says, “And synthetics are better at that.” These are bold claims and may be worth considering when choosing oil, but we can’t remember the last time an engine failed on conventional oil, so going synthetic when you don’t have to may be a waste of money. If you abuse your engine, consider synthetics; otherwise follow the manufacturer’s suggestion.
April 29, 2013
All across Long Island, flowers and trees are blooming, and as the landscape greens, your car turns yellow, with pollen. Pollen isn’t only a pain for those with allergies, it can also be disastrous for your car’s paint job. Here is your ultimate guide for spring car care:
Pollen damage during spring blooms: Your car can be covered with a thick, yellow dust. Having a layer of pollen on your car isn’t only unsightly; pollen can also seriously damage your paint. Each grain of pollen contains tiny prongs that allow it to cling to whatever surface it lands on. When the pollen is pushed across the surface of the car, these prongs will etch into the surface of the paint. It is essential that you take the proper steps for cleaning pollen in order not to damage your paint. The best way to clean pollen is by hand-washing with soap and water. The suds will free the pollen from your paint and make your car look shiny and new. Plus, it’s a great way to get outside and enjoy the spring weather!
Tree sap damage: Even if you work to keep your car clean and detailed, if you park under a tree your vehicle can be hit with tree sap. If the sap is left on the surface of the car long enough, it will harden into a tough resin. This resin will etch itself into the surface of your paint. If you fail to remove the sap quickly and properly, this resin can cause permanent damage, so don’t wait too long before you break out the sponge and bucket!
April 17, 2013
It’s spring again, and a lot of you have cars that didn’t make it through the hard Long Island winter. That means a lot of you will be starting off driving season in a brand new vehicle. Does this mean you have to visit your dealer for maintenance? Thankfully, no!
You are NOT required to bring your new car back to the dealer to keep your manufacturer’s warranty valid. Many buyers are told that the warranty will be voided if they have maintenance or repairs performed by an independent shop, but this is not true!
The truth is, it is prohibited by Federal Law for a new car dealer to either deny warranty service or even imply that warranty service will be voided if servicing or repairs are not performed at the dealership. The law is the Magnuson-Moss Act of 1975, Title 15, Chapter 50, Section 2301-2312. Look it up for yourself! Look under “Tie-In Sales” Provisions.
Your own car manual even tells you that your vehicle’s maintenance may be performed by any automotive repair establishment or individual without invalidating the manufacturers’ warranty. Look under Vehicle Maintenance and Care, Maintenance Providers, Where to Go for Service and Replacement Parts, just to name a few areas in the manuals where you will find this confirmed.
For example: under Replacement Parts it says “Warranty coverage is not dependent upon the use of any particular brand of replacement parts.” Or, under Maintenance: “When maintenance and repairs are paid for by you, these services may be performed by you or by any automotive service provider you choose.”
Now, have you ever wondered how well a vehicle is being serviced at a facility whose primary purpose is to sell you a new car every 3 – 5 years? You may prefer a service provider that wants to develop a long-term relationship with you and help your vehicle stay healthy for 10 years or more, like Lee Myles Bohemia. The next time you are told that a new car has to be serviced at the dealer or the warranty will be void, mention the Magnuson-Moss Act (1975), and say “No thanks! I’ll take it to Lee Myles!”
April 8, 2013
April is National Car Care Month and we’d like to remind all Long Island drivers to spring into action and follow 10 basic maintenance procedures to make sure your vehicles are running at peak performance for the summer driving season.
- Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.Check the hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
- Check the battery and replace if necessary. Make sure the connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
- Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
- Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.
- Schedule a tune-up at Lee Myles Bohemia, to help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions.
- Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system, as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons such as defrosting.
- Inspect the steering and suspension system annually including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.
- Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
- Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.
March 22, 2013
Winter can do a number on your car. Slush, salt and cold temperatures take a toll on everything from the tires to the wiper blades. So, as spring approaches, it’s a good idea to give your car a thorough once-over to undo winter’s damage.
Here are five things you can do to shake off winter and get your car in shape for spring:
1. WASH THE UNDERBODY Wintertime driving will coat the bottom of your car with salt, sand and other grime that can cause corrosion. Corrosion can lead to rust problems, which can make your car much harder to resell or even dangerous to drive. Spend a few extra dollars for the undercarriage power wash at the local car wash or spray the car’s bottom with your own hose. If possible, use a car jack to raise the vehicle for a more thorough cleaning, advises Bill Kropelnicki, president and owner of Rambling River Repair in Farmington, Minn. There’s no need to use soap or any other cleaner.
While you’re at it, open the hood and wipe down the engine with a soft mitt and soapy water. And remove all the leaves and debris that can find their way into the car, says Cliff Weathers, deputy autos editor for Consumer Reports. And remove any crusty white residue off the battery with a toothbrush, baking soda and water. The residue — caused by corrosion — can eventually prevent your car from starting. The cleaning also helps prepare the battery for the stress of warmer temperatures.
2. SCRUB INSIDE AND OUT Salt and sand can damage the car’s paint. Give your car a thorough cleaning and wax it with a paste or liquid wax, Weathers said. He cautions that sprays don’t clean as well. Scrub the bottoms of doors, which can get coated with grime, Kropelnicki says. He also urges car owners to clean the window channels, Also apply a silicone spray, which repels dirt and lubricates the surfaces so the windows will operate smoothly, he says.
Use a steam cleaner — you can rent one for $20 at Home Depot — or apply a rug cleaning spray to remove all the salt from the car’s inside. Salt can break down some fabrics and cause rips or tears when feet grind against them. And don’t forget to take bags of salt and ice scrapers out of the trunk to reduce weight.
3. REPLACE WIPER BLADES Wiper blades get a workout during the winter months. Weathers advises changing them each spring and fall.
4. CHECK TIRES Check your tire pressure. Cold weather can cause tires to be under-inflated and the onset of warm weather can over-inflate them. Also, visually inspect your tires to make sure they’re wearing evenly and have plenty of tread for the rainy spring weather ahead.
Driving on properly inflated tires can save you money. It can cost anywhere from $50 to $250 to replace a blown tire, depending on the kind of tire you need.
5. CHECK YOUR FLUIDS Winter weather can deplete some fluids — especially windshield wiper fluid — more quickly, so top them off yourself if they’re too low. You should change your oil around every 5,000 miles regardless of season, Weathers says. Brake and transmission fluids should be checked as well.
March 15, 2013
The beginning of racing season is the perfect time of the year to “start your engine” and make sure your ignition system is working properly. Addressing problems that may lead to ignition system failure is essential for dependable vehicle operation so you won’t be left stranded at the starting line, says the Car Care Council.
“Many systems on your car work together to keep you on the go, and the most important is the ignition system,” said Rich White , executive director, Car Care Council. “Symptoms of ignition problems include dimming of headlights and interior lights, illuminated ‘Check Engine’ and/or battery lights and failure of accessories to operate. It’s a good idea to look into these symptoms immediately to prevent ignition failure from bringing your car to a complete stop.”
Driving habits such as frequent engine on/off cycles cause more wear on the starter than a simple trip back and forth to work. Other factors, including driving and weather conditions, mileage, vehicle age and excessive electrical draws like in- vehicle entertainment systems, can impact the ignition system as well. Since the fuel injection system and car battery are linked to the ignition system, a problem can be difficult to diagnose because it may be caused by one of many factors, such as a dead car battery, faulty ignition switch, worn out spark plugs, bad fuel injectors, ignition coil problems, fuel pump failure or starter motor failure. “It’s a good idea to include an ignition system check-up to your vehicle maintenance schedule,” said White. “Having your ignition system checked regularly will ensure that you always reach the finish line.” To help motorists follow a vehicle maintenance program, a free digital Car Care Guide can be found on the council’s website at www.carcare.org/car-care-guide. The guide is available in English and Spanish, and includes information on service interval schedules, questions to ask a technician and tips to drive smart and save money. 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 www.carcare.org.
SOURCE Car Care Council
March 8, 2013
There’s only one week left before Spring is here, and even though Long Island still might get one last blast of snow, it’s time to start thinking about warmer weather and sunny days. One of the greatest things about summer driving on Long Island is hitting the beach in your convertible, but without proper care, a soft top can deteriorate, and that’s no fun for anyone.
CONVERTIBLE TOP CLEANER KILLERS Common cleaning products can be very harmful to your soft top. Chemicals you should not use on or near your top include ammonia, bleach, detergent, alcohol and vinegar. Detergents, bleach and harsh acids will quickly deteriorate canvas, whereas ammonia and alcohol will dry and cloud vinyl, and once that happens, your only hope is replacement.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR CONVERTIBLE TOP Your car’s soft top is subjected to the same environmental conditions as the rest of your car. However, although it is easy to see when your car’s body is dusty and dirty, it is not always easy to see when your top is dirty, especially if it’s black or navy blue. One of the biggest wear factors for canvas tops is dust in the canvas. Dust settles into the weave of the fabric and begins to act like sandpaper. Vinyl tops will also experience premature wear from dirt, but not as readily. In general, you should care for your top each time you wash your car. This does not mean you need to scrub it each time, but a good stiff rinsing is necessary. The following steps are recommended: Wash your soft top at least once a month (or when it is dusty or dirty) with a non- detergent-based auto shampoo. If your top is not dirty, rinse it thoroughly with plenty of cool water. Make sure the shampoo you use does not contain gloss- enhancing oils. If the shampoo contains oil, the top will absorb the oil and become a dust magnet. The recommended tool for washing is a soft scrub brush. Do not use a cloth, chenille-covered sponge or lamb’s wool mitt, as they will leave lint. If your top has soil marks, stains or bird droppings, use a small, stiff upholstery scrub brush. If you can rub the brush across the back of your hand without scratching your skin, it’s safe to use on your soft top. Do not, however, use a scrub brush on the vinyl window. It will scratch. Make sure you rinse the top thoroughly with a stiff stream of water to remove all of the shampoo and dirt.
On canvas tops, dry using a synthetic chamois or microfiber towel. The best method is to use the towel or chamois to blot up the water. Don’t wipe. Do not use a terry cloth towel or diaper to dry your canvas top, as they will leave lint. On vinyl tops, a synthetic chamois or microfiber towel will also work well, as will cotton towels. On vinyl windows, microfiber towels seem to work best.
CONVERTIBLE TOP CLEANING – YOUR SOFT TOP PLASTIC WINDOW If your convertible is new, no doubt you have experienced the frustration of polyvinyl fog. Polyvinyl fog is created by the evaporation of plasticizers (oily hydrocarbons) and other oils. Plasticizers are used in the manufacturing of vinyl to keep it flexible. They are also used in many car care conditioners to rejuvenate vinyl and plastic. Plasticizers remain liquid and evaporate with the heat of the sun. This off-gassing is worse with new cars, and then it gradually decreases to a manageable level. Severe off-gassing can also be caused by using too much dressing on your dashboard.
The best tool to clean your convertible’s vinyl window is a nonscratch microfiber towel. Do not use a paper towel, as it can scratch the vinyl. It is best to detail the window (inside and out) after washing the car. Follow these steps: Rinse the chamois or microfiber towel thoroughly with water to ensure it is clean. Wring out most of the water, but leave it damp. If the chamois is too dry, it will not slide across the window. Microfiber towels are not as temperamental.
Fold the chamois or microfiber towel into a square.Wipe in one direction across the window. Turn the cloth or chamois, using a clean side with every other pass. To clean the inside of the rear window, kneel in the passenger seat (roadster) or in the rear seat (convertible). It may take you a few times to learn the best way. The taller you are, the more difficult it will be.
OTHER CONVERTIBLE TOP CLEANING TIPS Proper care of your soft top goes beyond regular maintenance. You can also extend its life and beauty by providing a little extra care when lowering and raising your top. While the engineers have done a wonderful job of designing a top that folds into a small space, canvas and vinyl tops do not always fold flat. It is best to lower the top halfway, and then smooth the canvas or vinyl to ensure it does not bunch, gather or buckle. One of the worst enemies of your soft top is itself. When lowered, your vinyl window is in contact with itself. As you drive, road vibrations cause the top to rub on itself. Over time, this will begin to leave scratches and other marks on the window. To prevent this, you can use a small piece of fleece or soft cotton (not terrycloth) to protect the window. As you lower your top, after smoothing the wrinkles, lay the fleece across the window.
CONVERTIBLE CAR TOP CARE SUMMARY Your convertible soft top can provide many years of beautiful service, but only if you give it the proper care and handling. Keep your top clean, and protect it as needed. When water stops beading on your canvas top, its protection from the sun and water are gone. Vinyl tops need more frequent protecting, as often as once a month.
March 4, 2013
We may have seen our last major snow storm of the season, but freezing nights and slick roads are here for at least a little while longer. For many Long Island Drivers, the idea of using snow tires seems “old school.” They see snow tires are relics, but they’re wrong.
The cleverly named all-season tires that have largely replaced snow tires don’t provide nearly the security, safety and control of a good set of snow – or winter – tires when the snow flies and temperatures fall. If you live more than a few miles north of the Mason-Dixon Line, in the mountains or just about anywhere winter temperatures regularly stay below freezing, you should at least think about snow tires.
Recently, Mark Phelan, of the Detroit Free Press put that idea to the test at Michigan Technological University’s Keweenaw Research Center near Houghton, Michigan, and here’s what he found out:
“First, sliding between walls of snow with a professional driver testing Michelin winter tires, then as I wished for more traction for braking and steering during the 540-mile drive back to Detroit the next day. The difference is dramatic. On the fresh, slippery snow cover, we compared the results of various maneuvers in a set of snow tires versus a high-quality set of all- season tires. The snow tires were one second faster accelerating from 5 to 20 mph. They were a half-second quicker slowing down to 5 mph, and an amazing 13 seconds faster around a 1.2-mile stretch of private road.”
A scoreboard in the research center’s garage tallied how many times each driver – and one FedEx truck making a delivery – slid off the road and got stuck. In the real world of public roads, oncoming traffic and the mistakes we all make, the numbers from Michelin’s tests add up to a bigger margin for error. Snow tires provide confidence you won’t slip off the road, that your brakes will keep you from sliding into the next car’s bumper at the stop sign, and that you have the traction to pull into traffic or cross a busy intersection safely.
“Snow tire prices range from as low as $80 to more than $200 apiece,” said Chris Lynch, owner of Wetmore’s, a Ferndale, Mich., service shop that has specialized in tires since 1928. To minimize winter damage to fancy aluminum wheels and avoid charges for remounting and balancing their tires twice a year, most owners buy basic steel wheels for another $200 to $300 a set.
Lynch stores tires in the off-season and swaps them in the spring and winter at no charge for Wetmore’s customers. He figures a set of snow tires will last three or four years. They also extend the life of the customer’s other tires by reducing mileage on them.”It costs money, but what’s the value of avoiding an accident?” asked Ron Margadona, Michelin senior technical marketing manager. “People need to know that tires improve their mobility and safety.” They do that two ways. Carefully designed tread features grabby nooks and crannies to dig into snow and loose ice. The chemistry of the tires – they’re way more than simple rubber these days – is tailored to winter conditions. Winter tires stay flexible and cling to the surface of the road at temperatures that cause other tires to lose their grip. All-season tires have been common for about 35 years. They’ve got some grip at all temperatures, but they can’t match the road-hugging ability of a tire designed specifically either for warm temperatures or winter conditions. “All-season tires are a compromise,” Margadona said. “Winter tires are designed to keep you mobile and safe in the cold months.” Wetmore’s used to have hundreds of customers who changed tires with the seasons, Lynch said. Today, that’s down to a few dozen, mostly owners of luxury and performance cars. The advent of front- and all-wheel-drive cars added to the shift away from specialized tires. Both offer more grip – particularly for getting started – on slippery surfaces. Winter tires improve their road holding, braking and performance markedly, however. Winter tires are legally required in much of Europe and Quebec. It’s up to each driver in America, though in some states, the highway patrol won’t even let you enter some mountain roads without them in the winter. “We suggest you switch to winter tires whenever you start to see your breath in the fall. That’s generally between Halloween and Easter in mountainous areas and the Snow Belt states,” said Mark Cox, director of Bridgestone’s winter driving school in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
-Get a grip. To have adequate snow traction, a tire requires at least 6/32-inch deep tread, according to the Tire Rack, an online tire retailer. (New passenger-car tires usually have 10/32-inch of tread.) Even all-season tires don’t necessarily have great snow traction.
-Make sure you can see. Replace windshield wiper blades. Clean the inside of
your windows thoroughly. Apply a water-shedding material (such as Rain-X) to the outside of all windows, including the mirrors.
-Run the air-conditioner. In order to remove condensation and frost from the interior of windows, engage your air-conditioner and select the fresh-air option.
-Check your lights. Clear snow from headlights and taillights.
-Learn how to get maximum efficiency from your brakes before an emergency. It’s easy to properly use anti-lock brakes: Stomp, stay and steer.
-Watch for black ice or glare ice. If the road looks slick, it probably is.
-Remember the tough spots. Bridges and intersections are common places. Also: wherever water runs across the road.
-Too much steering is bad. If a slick section in a turn causes your front tires to lose grip, the common – but incorrect – reaction is to continue turning the steering wheel. It won’t improve the situation and may make things worse.
February 25, 2013
Long Islanders drive everything from from 1970‘s beaters to the latest sports cars, but those driving BMW’s, may find themselves driving loaners for a few days, while their cars are fixed due to their latest recall.
BMW is recalling about 750,000 of its vehicles in the United States, Japan, Canada and South Africa due the chance of an electrical failure that may cause the cars to stall unexpectedly, U.S. regulators and the company said.
Vehicles sold in Germany, BMW’s home market, and the rest of Europe are not involved in the recall.
The recall affects BMW’s popular 3-Series sedans, convertibles, coupes and sports wagons, as well as its 1-Series coupes and convertibles and Z4 two-seat roadsters. In some markets, the X1 crossover vehicle is also part of the recall.
The affected vehicles were built between March 2007 and July 2011.
A battery cable connection with a fuse box on the cars may degrade over time, which could cause the engine to stall because of a loss of electric power, increasing the risk of a crash, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a report issued on Monday.
BMW on Tuesday said that there was one crash, in Canada, related to the issue, which did not cause injury. There have been no reported crashes or injuries in the United States, BMW said.
Among major BMW markets, the company is recalling 504,545 cars in the United States, 100,000 in Japan, 65,285 in Canada, and 50,000 in South Africa, the company said.
The vehicles involved in the recall include the 3-Series sedans, coupes, convertibles and sports wagons from the 2007-2011 model years, the 1-Series coupes and convertibles from model years 2008-2012 and the Z4 vehicles from model years 2009-2011.
Among the recalls in Canada are 1,800 X1 compact crossover vehicles from the model year 2012. The X1 was not yet on sale in the U.S. market in the period covered by the recall, BMW said.