30th September 2008

Salt + Cars = Stress

Ever read Sophie’s Choice? Because that’s kinda how I feel right now.

Growing up in the Midwest, I’ve had the pleasure opportunity to experience all the joys of winter, in full. Playing in the white powder is great, as John DeLorean could attest (the charges were dropped!–Chris H.), but I’m talking about snow.  Lots and lots of snow. Snow is generally pretty great. The reduced traction allows you to drive like a stunt man; sliding sideways around corners, doing donuts, J-turns, and pretending to be a rally driver. However, it’s not really the snow I’m concerned about. Seeing as how our country caters to the lowest common denominator, we cater to people who don’t have snow tires by salting every square inch of the roads.

From an auto enthusiast’s perspective, I hate this. The salt corrodes everything on my vehicle, and half of the time my entire car is covered in white haze. Milwaukee is even worse than usual. They use double the amount of road salt per mile than most cities in the Midwest. Ignoring the whole concept of the government demanding your money to pay for salt that ruins your vehicles, I’m now faced with a choice:   What to drive this winter? I’ve been so stressed about this choice I figured I’d ask for your advice.

In one corner, we have my minty fresh 1989 Honda Prelude, which I covered here. In the other corner, we have my 1992 Subaru SVX, covered by Chris here.
Now, from a purely technical standpoint, the Subaru wins hands down. It
has all-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, and tons of other features that
make it a superior choice. However, the Subaru is also starting to
rust. I see rust poking out from underneath body panels and creeping up from
the rear wheel wells. The rear quarter panel was also damaged from a
driver who doesn’t believe in using turn signals. Another winter on
this car would be brutal, as the rust would probably get pretty bad.

The Prelude, by comparison, is only front-wheel drive. However, when equipped with
some fresh snow tires it would be able to handle the winter, no problem.
And unlike the Subaru, this car is extremely clean. The paint is great,
the body is great, and the suspension is great. When I bought it, it
had been stored in a heated garage for seven years protected from the
environment. I’ve always thought of it as a cool car, but after driving
it for a year and being completely blown away by it’s handling, I’m
starting to realize it’s something special. I start noticing other Preludes of this vintage in various states of disrepair, and I start
realizing that maybe I should try to preserve this car.

Hence the dilemma. The SVX is a great car, and a fairly rare car.
Less than 15,000 were imported into the United States, and a lot fewer
than that remain. The third-generation Prelude is anything but a rare
car, as Honda cranked out over 160,000 of them worldwide. However, how
many nice ones still exist? I’m not sure, and I’m definitely not sure
on what to do. Hopefully you guys will help me find a solution.

–Rob the SVX Guy

This is syndicated from Car Lust, and written by Rob the SVX Guy.

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30th September 2008

Expert Used Subaru Buying Advice.

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Over the last few weeks we have again seen a couple of troubling trends that have led to some extremely costly repairs for some unfortunate Subaru Owners.

When looking at a new to you used Subaru you really need to have it inspected before you buy any used Subaru by a Subaru expert like All Wheel Drive Auto. If you have already purchased a Subaru and still have not had it inspected post purchase you really should have it done as soon as possible.

Recently we had a customer buy a Legacy GT with only 65,000 miles on it but when we had a chance to look at the Subaru it was obvious it had a storied life. By the time we had a chance to look the car over it had come to us on a tow truck, two months after it was purchased and the repairs are extensive. This could have been avoided and the outcome much better.

I truly want our customers and my readers alike to have a pleasant automotive experience which is why I have this blog. Helping people better understand their car and how to avoid common pitfalls is part of what I feel I should do as a responsible business owner, regardless of how unpopular it may be at times.

Unfortunately there are so many disparities in the automotive world it is just impossible to know what a good deal is or just how bad one is as well. You can put two same year Subaru Outback’s with the exact same mileage next to each other and one can represent good value and one may represent a few years of frustration and several dollars of repairs.

A car purchase is an emotional one, and sometimes after the purchase, doubt may creep in. Being afraid that the car may be a lemon or over confidence that the salesperson told you the truth can lead to disaster.

At our shop we charge $85.00 to do a complete bumper to bumper inspection pre or post purchase and this is one of the best values that we offer in my opinion. How much is it worth to avoid costly repairs?

Wherever you live, there is someone that can do an inspection for you, just make sure they are familiar with your Subaru or the inspection will have no value. You can’t take your Subaru to a general repair shop and expect the same level of expertise as if you had taken to a Subaru specialist. And the last place you want to take it is the Subaru dealer.

Here are some of the reasons why.

The automotive repair industry is set up so that the technician at a dealership is going to do your inspection as quick as possible and will ignore anything that may be covered under warranty if you are looking to buy a later model Subaru. There are always exceptions to any rule but by in large this is the program at the dealership and it will never change.

Taking your Subaru to a general repair shop is really a bad idea as they really do not know what is typical for the vehicle. While they should be able to tell you if the tires are worn and the brakes are safe. They may not know that there is a service campaign on the head gaskets and that minor fluid leak is about to be a big repair in the coming months.

Likewise if you bring us a Chevrolet or Ford product for an inspection we may not offer as much value as someone who works on mostly domestic vehicle. The difference here is we can admit it because we want to specialize to offer our customers a better value.

So now you have the car it’s been inspected and given a clean bill of health. Now what?

You need to establish service history. If there are no service records and you buy a car at 61k do not assume the 60k service has been done. Know it has been done. Likewise if the mileage is close to the timing belt service interval and there are no service records stating it has been done, have the timing belt done!

In the case of the before mentioned Legacy GT this is exactly what happened. The engine had been replaced with a used one from a wrecking yard for reasons no one knows but the previous owner. The Legacy was purchased at a used car lot and there really is no way the used car lot would have known this either as it was either wholesaled from a new car dealer or bought at auction. Again without any service records in the glove box.

The timing belt broke on this Legacy GT causing the valves to bend and the repairs are now very expensive as a result. But the car only has 65,000 miles on it and the timing belt isn’t even scheduled to be replaced until the car has reached 105,000 miles. The problem is the engine that was put in it has more miles on it than the car does.

We immediately recognized the engine had been replaced, with the wrecking yard yellow marker writing on one of the intake manifold runners stating the compression was 175lbs. This is something that we see all the time and immediately know what it means and what to look for from here.

The point I am trying to make is bad things can and will happen without anyone trying to defraud you. And you will be the one stuck with the final bill and a very unfortunate buying experience.

Thanks for reading


Independent Subaru Expert.

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30th September 2008

Credit Crunch Triggers Drop in September Sales, Predicts Edmunds.com

SANTA MONICA, California — Edmunds.com is forecasting a continuing dramatic slide in monthly new-vehicle sales as September comes to a close. New-vehicle sales are predicted to be 1.05 million units, a nearly 20 percent decrease from a year ago and a 15.7 percent decrease from August 2008.

“February 1993 was the last time that fewer than 1 million new vehicles were sold in a month, and we’re coming remarkably close to that volume again,” said Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com.

The combined monthly U.S. market share for Chrysler, Ford and General Motors is estimated to be 47.1 percent this month, down from 51.9 percent in September 2007 and up slightly from 45.7 percent in August 2008.

All of the major automotive players, both foreign and domestic, will report September sales declines, according to Edmunds.com.

Nissan, Honda and Toyota are all expected to show sales declines versus September 2007. Edmunds.com predicts Toyota will sell 176,000 units this September, down 17.5 percent from September 2007. It is forecast that Nissan will sell 83,000 units this month, down 11.5 percent from September 2007. Honda, while also experiencing a September decline, fares the best of the big Japanese automakers. Edmunds.com predicts Honda will sell 119,000 units in September, down 6.1 percent from September 2007.

Detroit automakers continue to be pounded by slumping sales and eroding market share. Chrysler is expected to report a dramatic decline in September sales versus a year ago. Edmunds.com predicts Chrysler will sell 101,000 units this month, down 36.5 percent compared with September 2007. Ford will sell 137,000 units this month, down 25.1 percent compared with September 2007. General Motors will sell 255,000 units this month, down 23.9 percent compared with September 2007.

What this means to you: There’s not a bright spot in the bunch, as all of the major automakers suffer in September because consumers can’t get auto financing in these tough times. — Anita Lienert, Correspondent

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30th September 2008

Maserati GranTurismo MC Corse Concept

Base Price – Maserati GranTurismo MC Corse Concept – N/A – Concept Car

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30th September 2008

2010 Acura TL to Offer All-New Manual Transmission

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2010 Acura TL to Offer All-New Manual Transmission
New 6-Speed Manual Will Be Available Next Fall on TL SH-AWD Model

By adding an available manual transmission to the TL SH-AWD® model, Acura will further up its game for performance minded TL drivers who prefer the winding route over the direct route, Acura announced today. Available next fall for the 2010 model year, will be a TL SH-AWD® with 6-speed manual transmission and numerous modifications to enhance vehicle dynamics.

“The new manual transmission equipped TL SH-AWD® really allows the enthusiast driver to take full advantage of the performance of Acura’s SH-AWD® system,” said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of sales, “Not only is the new manual transmission model the best performing Acura TL ever, it is the top handling performer among every vehicle in its class.”

The availability of a 6-speed manual transmission for the 2010 TL SH-AWD® represents the first time Acura has ever paired its acclaimed Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ system with a manual gearbox. In addition, the new close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission is approximately 110 lbs lighter than the Sequential SportShift automatic transmission to further benefit acceleration, braking and cornering.

The 6-speed manual transmission is an all-new design that is substantially stronger than the previous generation TL manual transmission. In addition to using a more rigid aluminum case and heavier-duty internals, the new manual transmission employs precisely selected gear ratios based on the characteristics of the TL’s new 3.7L V-6 engine and SH-AWD® drivetrain. New gear synchronizers deliver improved shift accuracy and feel, and a short-throw shifter assembly generates confident shifting combined with low shift effort.

Acura engineers also designed an entirely new clutch system for the new 6-speed manual transmission to withstand the TL’s robust power output while also improving modulation for noticeably easier use. The new self-adjusting, dual-mass clutch delivers extremely constant pedal effort throughout the entire stroke of the pedal. By keeping the effort linear, the driver has improved feel that results in better clutch interaction.

The TL SH-AWD® 6MT has a specially calibrated Hill Start Assist system that helps prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards when the driver switches from the brake to the accelerator while stopped on a hill. When the road incline exceeds an 8-degree threshold and the vehicle is fully stopped, Hill Start Assist automatically activates. When Hill Start Assist is active, the brakes automatically hold for one second as the driver’s foot transitions from the brake to the accelerator pedal. The brakes are automatically released when the vehicle begins to move forward.

The 2010 TL SH-AWD® 6MT has exclusive suspension tuning via special coil spring and shock absorber rates tuned for flatter cornering with reduced pitching motions under acceleration and braking. The front dampers incorporate 5-percent more tension damping during low piston speeds to generate improved turn-in feel. In addition, the front dampers generate 14-percent less high speed compression damping which helps improve ride quality.

The TL SH-AWD® 6MT employs firmer engine and transmission bushings that better resist engine and/or transmission movement during spirited driving. Engine side mount bushing stiffness increases by 80-percent, front mount rate increases by 17-percent, rear hydro mount firmness increases by 50-percent and the transmission upper mount is stiffened by 100-percent.

For 6-speed manual transmission applications, special heavy-duty front driveshafts are used. In addition to being 2-percent larger in diameter, the driveshafts have a larger inboard spline size and team with more heavy-duty CV joints.

The TL SH-AWD® fit with the new 6-speed transmission will also benefit from exclusive Electronic Power Steering (EPS) tuning. Just as with the TL SH-AWD® with Sequential SportShift 5-speed automatic, the EPS delivers low steering effort for parking maneuvers that progressively firms up as speed increases.

With the 6-speed manual transmission TL SH-AWD®, the EPS system is further tuned to deliver a slightly heavier feel as speed increases thus generating more confident mid- to high-speed driving dynamics.

The addition of a manual transmission, an all-new clutch system and suspension changes yield an 88 lb. reduction in overall vehicle weight. The weight reduction not only delivers improved performance, but also generates a more favorable front/rear weight bias. Compared to an automatic transmission equipped TL SH-AWD®, the 6-speed manual version improves weight distribution by 1-percent thus generating a 58/42 ratio versus the 5AT’s 59/41 ratio.

Acura offers a full line of technologically advanced performance luxury vehicles through a network of 270 dealers within the United States. The 2009 Acura lineup features five distinctive models including the RL luxury performance sedan, the TL performance luxury sedan, the TSX sports sedan, the turbocharged RDX crossover SUV and the award-winning MDX luxury sport utility vehicle.

For additional information about Acura vehicles, please visit www.acura.com. For media inquiries go to www.acuranews.com.

©2008 American Honda Motor Co., Inc. All information contained herein applies to U.S. vehicles only.
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30th September 2008

Ferrari 599 Barchetta

The Ferrari 599 has been spied out testing without ane camo. Only easy distinguish by its mock hard top, which doesn’t quite match the colour of the main bodywork.

The production top could well be a folding metal item, much like the coupe-cabriolet California due next year. The front engine layout of the 599 would certainly allow space for a trick mechanism at the rear, although the weight could blunt performance.

The 575 Superamerica, enjoyed a 25bhp hike to counter the 60kg weight increase, although it featured a unique rotating glass panel rather than a full length CC option.

It is likely the 599 Barchetta’s engine will remain unchanged, keeping the 6.0-litre 620bhp V12 from the GTB Fiorano coupe, though the top speed will drop from the GTB’s 205mph.

The open-top could appear at next spring’s Geneva Motor Show, with production to start in the summer. The tin-top model costs $400 000, so expect the convertible will cost around $430 000.

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