Media post: He Changed the Car Business

140204144353-nad24-ralph-nader-620xaRalph Nader

A book was released in 1965 that changed the automobile industry forever. Written by Ralph Nader, a little known lawyer from Hartford, CT, Unsafe at Any Speed: The Designed-In Dangers of the American Automobile was the title. The subject material was a critical look at the auto industry and how it viewed its responsibility to build safe automobiles.

A focus on the Corvair

As Humes Chrysler of Waterford, PA, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer explained to us, Nader’s book is often tied to an extremely critical review of the Corvair, a rear-engine, air-cooled compact car made in the 1960s by Chevrolet. While Unsafe at Any Speed did focus on the Corvair, the book was really an indictment of the entire industry. Worst of all, the book illuminated the concept that most automotive executives did not seem terribly concerned about most of the dangerous issues involved. It just wasn’t a priority in the industry.

The book became an immediate bestseller but also prompted a vicious backlash from General who attempted to discredit Nader by tapping his phone in an attempt to uncover unsavory information and, when that failed, hiring prostitutes in an attempt to document him in a compromising situation that could be publicized.

Not so “Good for General Motors”

The book vaulted Nader into a highly visible legal career of questioning the motives behind the policy and practice of the entire automotive industry. It would be safe to say that Unsafe at Any Speed threw water on the once famous comment by a General Motors executive Charles Irwin Wilson that “What is good for General Motors is good for America.”

After Unsafe at Any Speed was released, a great deal of change in the automotive industry occurred. It was painful at the time but as the decades since show, the auto industry actually profited. By pushing for safety technology that all of the American carmakers were eventually forced to adopt, the automotive manufacturers potentially saved millions of dollars in future lawsuits and thousands of lives. Here’s a fact to consider: In 1980, 23 people out of 100,000 died annually in car crashes. Today, thanks to hundreds of federal safety regulations, the rate is less than 10 per 100,000. That works out to some 400 lives a year being saved.

Nader is still concerned, though

Nader recently commented that he was terribly concerned that the auto industry is losing focus again. “The auto industry wants to turn the car into an entertainment center” he states. Nader is especially concerned that all the multitasking that occurs in today’s gadget-laden cars can be distracting. He doesn’t see why all these gadgets are necessary and Nader calls upon the industry to resist this and focus on the safety of cars.

Media post: Make your own 3D automobile parts

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The future has arrived! Now you can made parts for your car via 3D printing and you don’t even have to own a 3D printer. Of course, you still design the part but, instead of printing it yourself, you ship the design off to a professional 3D printing company. Just imagine how useful this will be in the car restoration hobby where replacement parts are often impossible to find. This is exciting stuff.

How 3D printers work

There are many types of 3D printers. They may look different and use different materials, but all utilize the same basic approach for making a 3D object by building the object one layer at a time. The process starts on the base layer and then adds subsequent layers up from there. It’s actually simple; it builds an object in 3 dimensions just like standard printers “build” something in 2 dimensions.

It starts with a 3D model

The object being printed starts with a 3D image of the item. This is usually created by hand using a computer-assisted design (CAD) software program. The 3D object is then sliced into hundreds (or thousands) of ultra-thin horizontal layers. Then all the printer has to do is assemble all ultra-thin horizontal layers one by one with a material that fuses together.

Inexpensive 3D printers deposit a material that is a polymer, sort of like an automated glue gun. The polymer comes in spools and in a wide variety of types and colors. More professional 3D-printed metal parts are made by “selective laser sintering” which involves heating and solidifying a granular metal material via a high-power laser. This is the sort of printer that professionals like Reedman-Toll Nissan of Bethesda, MD, would use to make difficult to find parts with.

A “classic” example

A fellow with the user name MadMorrie on the instructables.com website explained how he 3D printed some broken door handles for a 1962 Valiant he was restoring. You might ask, “why not look for original surplus handles (NOS) ones.” The problem is that the originals were made of a weak diecast metal, a material that doesn’t age particularly well. He could have looked for NOS handles but they would likely be brittle because of their age.

The first part of the 3D printing process was to measure the window regulator mechanism spline that juts out from the door panel. He measured it down to the .01mm level with a micrometer. Then the door handle needs to be designed over the female spline hole. MadMorrie used a 3D CAD program called MODO to create the 3D model of the handle.

Once the 3D model was finished, he uploaded it to the 3D printing company ShapeWays. MadMorrie could have had the handles made of stainless steel but instead selected a strong black plastic. After placing the order, they arrived in 2 weeks and they fit his Valiant perfectly.

Predesigned shapes

You don’t always have to design the item you want by hand. Many of the 3D printing companies have libraries of product designs that you can use. For many users, these designs can provide a nice starting point for your own designs. In years to come, enthusiasts will likely build libraries of all the classic cars parts under the sun for others to share and use.

Media post: The Growing Used Hybrid Car Market

Toyota Prius 1997

Most of us are old enough to remember a time when Hybrid Cars were a totally new idea. Suspicious and expensive in the early days, hybrids are now part of the ambient American roadway. While they might not appeal to the visceral nature of the petroleum-loving motorhead, they’ve proved to be a hit in the international market. Many of today’s consumers want to be part of a revolution that weans the world off of oil. Whether or not hybrids actually help in this regard or are simply part of a clever marketing scheme from savvy automobile magnates, the end result is the same: we’ve got loads of these little cars on our roadways and in our used car lots.

Now that hybrids aren’t the newest automotive innovation on the block, it’s easy to get a deal on a model from a few years ago. Finding the best used hybrid cars is totally doable, and the search in 2016 is much different than a similar search would have been ten or twenty years ago (not the hybrids were available that far back). Many aspects of automotive design and construction have improved. Lots of today’s hybrids are perfectly serviceable in quality, even after 100,000 miles or so. They might not blow back your hair on the highway (though some will) or make you the envy of parking lot (unless you’re at Whole Foods), but hybrids are perfectly capable of getting you from point A to point B, while saving you a little bit at the gas tank.

This year, hybrids are really eating into the market that used to be reserved for gas-guzzlers. Of the ten most popular cars sold at the regular consumer level, five were hybrids in 2016. Of course, we’re talking Prius at number one. Down the list a bit, we’ve got the Leaf, Tesla, Lexus CT 200h hybrid, and Toyota Highlander hybrid. All of these models are having no trouble selling at top shelf prices, and drivers are lining up to buy them. It’s easy to imagine more than half of next year’s top 10 list being dominated by the EVs and the hybrids. We expect this, actually.

But if you don’t want to shell out $30,000 or more for a new hybrid, it’s to the used lot you’ll go. Local sales through Craigslist and other selling platforms may also yield incredible deals. When buying a hybrid, it’s important to consider several factors. The two most important are fuel efficiency and battery life. These, after all, are the reasons you want a hybrid, right? Just because a hybrid of some age bears the “hybrid” moniker, it doesn’t mean that its battery life and overall efficiency are really up to snuff. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than going for a highway right only to have to stop to refuel your fuel cell. These older ones don’t refuel fast, so make sure that the life of this module is in keeping with your driving needs. Other than that, the usual rules for buying used vehicles apply.

Media post: The Historical Relationship of Cummins and Chrysler

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How Cummins brought diesel to Chrysler to keep them relevant with the other big automakers.

To better understand the value of this relationship between Cummins and Chrysler, we need to better understand the timing of it. Let us take a look at the late 1970s, and the introduction of the diesel engines into mainstream automotive manufacturing.

General Motors was the first to offer a diesel engine back in 1978 with their Oldsmobile 350 Diesel, then a few years later Ford followed suit with their 6.9L V-8 diesel engine, which they acquired from International Harvester. As the other two big automakers in North America started to shift towards offering viable diesel engine options, and as it became popular with car buyers, Chrysler new they had to act.

So they acted, but initially may have acted too quickly, when they acquired their first diesel from Mitsubishi, and like many Asian vehicles at the time, there was zero to little power behind these engines. As we know from the 1980’s if it isn’t fast, and powerful, it isn’t going to appeal to an American audience.

Then came Cummins, and their B-series 6-cylinder engines. It was an instant hit, not just because of their performance, but their brand name “Cummins” just sounded great, and it sang well with a number of diesel truck buyers. The first Cummins engine was added to the RAM pickup line in 1989, this power and performance is very much so the same standards in which current RAM trucks are held to, even those that don’t have Cummins, but instead hold HEMI engines like the ones seen at Bossier RAM.

The relationship began nearly 30 years ago, and this relationship has held strong since then for both Cummins and Chrysler.

Media post: Taking a Look at The Viper of Old

Dodge Viper

Reminiscing about the old Dodge Vipers and how they are in comparison to the newer models.

It was the late 1980s and the Chrysler Group was in dire need of reinventing themselves, but also adding a true high class sports car, and they came up with the Viper. They appointed Chief Engineer Roy Sjoberg to head up the project, and he then selected what he felt was the best 85 engineers to be part of this Team Viper, not to be confused with Cobra and Cobra Commander from the fictional GI Joe series.

Chief Sjoberg and his team of 85 insanely talented engineers hit the road running in March of 1989. They started by asking Lamborghini to create a porotype engine block for their Dodge V10 truck engine for the Viper usage. Then the following fall months they were able to finalize the designs and production of the body. Then in the early part of 1990, the V10 engine block was throw in the body of the newly crafted Dodge sports car.

That same year in 1990 they received the thumbs up approval from chairman Lee Iacocca to finish the production and they showcased the model at that years Indianapolis 500, as a pace car. So in roughly two years’ time, they took a vehicle from concept to creation, and made it available to consumer in 1992. Since its first year in 1992 the Viper has become a cult classic for many automotive enthusiasts. There are Viper clubs all over the country, and the collectors of these very unique cars are notoriously known for being a bit over the top.

Now in the year 2016, we are expecting the next generation and final production of the Dodge Viper, as they plan to roll out their 25th Anniversary models, which have already sold out in a matter of weeks after being made available to consumers. For those of you that are avid fans of the Viper, and wish to see one of the 25th Anniversary models, you should reach out to your local Dodge dealership, like Kolosso in Wisconsin. Talk to your local dealership, and see if they plan on showcasing one of the models in their showroom in the next year, or if they know where you can go to see one on display. One thing is certain Viper came in strong into the sports car world, and it looks like it will exit just as strong.

Media post: 5 Must Have Mobile Apps for Every Car Owner

Gas-Buddy

Mobile phone usage is out of control, and there seems to be an app for almost everything to make your life easier, so why not have some apps that could make driving your car easier and affordable.

In this article we will touch on five of the most valuable mobile applications to make your car driving experience that much better, and best part is most of these apps are absolutely free to use. We should note before we even begin to talk about any of these apps, is that driving while looking at your phone is a distraction, and unsafe. If you are going to use these apps, please sync them up with your vehicle display, or use them when your car isn’t in motion.

GasBuddy

Have you ever pass a gas station, because you were hoping to find cheaper gas elsewhere? Well now you don’t have to, because GasBuddy app actually will show you a list of gas stations, and their prices, so you can find the most affordable fuel in your area.

DriveSafe.ly

Do your teens love to text while driving? Or maybe you have been guilty of this neglectful action? This is incredibly dangerous, and to keep your teens safe, and yourself safe, you need to look into this application. This app will actually read your messages to you as you drive, so you don’t have to physically read them. This includes text messages, Facebook messages and even emails.

MMGuardian

So your teen is still texting while driving, or even talking on the phone while driving. If you want to stop your teen from doing any of this, you should download MMGuardian. This application for your smartphone will actually block out phone calls and text messages while your teen is driving. This will help remove any distractions that may come from their phone.

RepairPal

Another free app, with a totally different value. This app is something that helps track your repair costs over time, but it also will help generate real estimates for actual repairs for your vehicle. Then based on your service or repair needs, the application will actually give you a number of recommended repair shops and mechanics in your area, like a Mcloughlin Chevrolet.

Waze

This is arguably the best navigational tool and application that any car driver could ever use while driving. There are over 50 million users, and Waze does more than just give you direction, it actually will adapt to show you best alternate routes on the fly, as well as take note of road hazards. All of this is done with clear voice-assisted navigation.

Media post: The Danger of Cloudy Headlights

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Driving with clouded lenses is like driving with foggy eye glasses. Almost every motor vehicle on the road in North America has headlights that are made out of a hard polymer, or plastic material. This is done because it cuts down on weight, and its cost effective for manufacturing reasons. But the major issue with these plastic lenses, is they tend to degrade, and almost become foggy.

With this fog-like covering the headlights, you are more or less choking out the visibility for your car as you are driving at night. If you have had your car for more than five years, you likely have noticed that your visibility at night in your car has worsened. That isn’t because you are getting older and your vision is going, but because your lens is actually clouding up.

So what causes these headlight lenses to cloud up?

Would you believe me if I told you the #1 reason for the lens fogging up was actually sunlight? The UV from the sun is actually fading the lens out and actually creating a residue behind the lens. The UV Radiation actually breaks down the chemical bonding that keeps the plastic so strong. So not only does it cause the lens to become cloudy, but the sun is slowly eating apart the lens.

So what can you do to clean or restore your lens?

There are a couple methods to restoring headlight lens, says Reedman Chrysler. The most common is simply using an all-in-one cleaner and some elbow grease. Just apply a bit to sponge or a rag with some water, and simply scrub until the lens is now clean.

Another common method to cleaning your lens is simply trying out a Plastic Polish product like a 3M Plastic Cleaner, and yes they have polish for plastic. Who knew right? The polish has an abrasive material that actually allows you to really lift off the residue that has cause your lens to fog up. You can opt to using an orbital buffer, but with how small the lens are we just recommend using your hands, and again, some good ol’ elbow grease.

There you have it! Yes you’re not going completely blind with age, it’s just your headlights are fogging up over time, and it is recommended you do clean them so you can make your night time driving a bit safer.

Media post: The Argument: AWD or 4WD

Haval H8 4WD

What is the difference, and how much of a difference is it really?

When car buyers are looking to buy a new or used vehicle, in areas that tend to have less than pleasant wintery weather conditions, they often consider a vehicle that will have either; all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive, states Sandoval Buick-GMC, a local Ohio dealership.

Before we really dive into the value of both these platforms (AWD & 4WD), we need to better understand the disadvantages of owning and driving a vehicle that is just 2WD. Just as the name of the system suggests the engine only provides power to two wheels, either the front, or the rear. Most sedans, and compact vehicles today are front-wheel-drive, which sends power to the front tires, which is beneficial because the front tires have the most traction with the weight of the engine atop of it.

Understanding All-Wheel-Drive (AWD)

Unlike most two-wheel-drive vehicles the AWD option will instead send power to all four tires. This creates balance in terms of torque across the vehicle from front to back, but it also provides great forward traction, with all four wheels working in tandem. This is an option that we have started to see in a lot of smaller SUVs and crossover models, as well as some sedans.

Understanding Four-Wheel-Drive (4WD)

So before we simply state 4WD sends power to each wheel, and you just quickly jump to question, “if they do the same thing, technically, then how can they be different?”. We’ll let us answer that question before it is even asked. The major difference is the multiple gear ranges that are offered with 4WD vehicles such as larger SUVs and Trucks, this allows for better off-road capability, and adaptability for unusual road conditions, not just weather. There is a low and a high-gear range, the low gear range is used ideally for lower speeds and climbing situations.

So which should I buy? AWD of 4WD?

Ideally if you aren’t someone who will regularly go off-road with your truck or SUV, there isn’t much need for you to have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, instead an AWD should do the trick just fine. In terms of handing weather conditions, the AWD handles almost every wintery mix and rain condition, but for the heaviest of snow storms, a 4WD truck of SUV might be the best choice. But you as the driver need to really weigh in on that option.

Sponsored Post: Electric Vehicle Sales Remain High, More Innovation to Come

Nissan Leaf Japan January 2016. Picture courtesy response.jp

Sales for electric vehicles (EV) seemed to dip at the beginning of the year, reaching a low point of 27,680 in January, but have crept back up and remained about 40,000 a month for March, April, May, and June. Though it seemed as if lower gas prices would effectively dash future sales of electric cars, and have consumers trading their hybrids in for all-gas options (as choices like pickup vehicles made a comeback). For now, at least interest in EVs is still alive, kept alive in no small part by the innovation of current iterations of modern EVs and the announcements of some newcomers to the electric vehicle arena.

Japanese automakers are making waves. In particular, the Nissan LEAF has grabbed headlines. Though US sales have waned a bit on the model this year, Nissan has decided to shake things up with the announcement of a new battery pack designed to increase the range of this vehicle to 250+ miles. Undoubtedly this is to woo customers from popular EV automaker Tesla and gain ground on the Model 3 (aimed at budget buyers).

They’ve also announced a “No Charge to Charge” Program in select American markets, which offers consumers complimentary public charging for two years with the purchase of a LEAF from a certified dealer. It’s interesting to note that promotional materials heavily emphasize that the LEAF is still the global leader in EV sales (over 205,000 with 90,000 of those being US purchases) and that the LEAF’s starting price of $26,700 (post tax credits) makes it rather alluring to the budget buyer. It wouldn’t be wise to count Nissan out of the EV race just yet.

The Chevy Volt, meanwhile, is giving Nissan stiff competition. Year to date, the Volt has overtaken the LEAF in sales. The biggest Volt news, though, is the 2nd Gen Volt Hybrid. It’s got many technological improvements up its sleeve, and this has put it in an advantageous position to reign supreme: less weight, a new battery, and a host of ease-of-use and safety features like lane-departure warnings and side blind-zone alerts. That last bit is of particular value to many motorists, as crashes and road fatalities have gone down steadily on the whole (and motorcycle accidents are among the most deadly still), 2015 saw an alarming uptick in injuries. Obviously, no one is particularly keen on having a significant investment like an EV ruined in a collision.

The BMWi3, which saw first-year sales of over 11,000 units (an impressive feat as a new entry into a market largely dominated by Chevy, Nissan, and Tesla), has made recent news overseas with some aggressive incentives from the German government to boost sales. With some upgrades to battery life, range, and overall performance, similar tactics might apply to American markets as well.

The most significant EV news, however, has been ongoing coverage of Tesla’s recently announced Model 3, and the car that’s shaping up to be its chief competitor, the Chevy Bolt. Though not slated for release until 2017 at the earliest pre-orders for the Model 3 are close to 400,000 so far. The relatively affordable price of this EV, combined with luster and prestige of being a “Tesla” brand vehicle, have many thinking this will be the model that brings top-tier electric vehicle technology to the masses.

That’s if they can beat out the Chevy Bolt, that is. Final testing for the Bolt has already commenced, and it will be available to consumers later this year (giving it a significant head start on the Model 3). The all-electric vehicle will have more than 200 miles of range and be priced around $30,000 (after tax credits), putting it right in the sweet spot for the consumers that Tesla is seeking to target with the Model 3.

It’s entirely possible that Chevy will be able to tempt former Tesla faithful to purchase a Bolt as an alternative, especially if (as many naysayers are quick to point out), Tesla is unable to meet their audacious production goals for the Model 3. Tesla has also run into a recent patch of bad luck, exacerbated by production shortages and rumors of a possible SEC probe.

Media post: The History of Automotive Turn Signals

Automotive Turn Signals
As you probably can imagine, early automobile drivers signaled to pedestrians and other drivers their intention to make a turn with their hands. They probably pointed to the direction that they were about to turn to. After a period of time, a more uniform method of communicating was likely developed, sort of like bicycles do today.

Then they went electric

There was a big problem with hand signals, however: you couldn’t see them at night. According to the December 1985 issue of Popular Mechanics, the first example of an illuminated electric turn signal can be attributed to Edgar A. Walz. In 1925, he developed and secured a patent for one and tried to market it to major car manufacturers. Believe it or not, the major car manufacturers just weren’t interested and the patent expired fourteen years later.

It was different in Europe

The automotive turn signal situation in Europe started differently. In the 1940s, the solution for signaling turns was via curious little semaphore-like indicators. They were called “Trafficators” and they were illuminated and were powered by electro magnets that swung up when they were engaged. When they were “off”, the trafficators folded back into the door pillars. Google the word “trafficator” and you will see what these looked like. They were used on Volkswagons for many years.

Then America got involved

Back in the States, Buick was the first U.S. automaker to offer factory-installed flashing turn signals. Introduced in 1939 as a safety feature, turn signals were advertised as “Flash-Way Directional Indicators” and were an option. These flashing signals only operated on the rear lights. In 1940, Buick enhanced their directional indicators by extending the signals to front lights too and adding a self-canceling mechanism. In that year, directional signals became standard on Buick, Cadillac, LaSalle, and the Hudson vehicles yet still optional on Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac.

The Sixties brought other innovations to turn signals. Initial plans called for Ford to install blinking sequential rear turn signals on their 1964 Thunderbird but installation was put off for more than a year while they were approved by regulators. 1968 marked another “major” change as the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 required amber (rather than the earlier white) lenses for front turn signals (rear signals could be red or amber.)

Today, LEDs are common

Today, the staff at Newark Automotive in Newark, DE, a full-service Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer, says many new Mopar cars use reliable light-emitting diode (LED) technology for signal lighting. Such lights do not depend on lens color, the semiconductors within emit true red and amber hues. LED lights are very efficient and ultra-bright, it may not be long before filament-style bulbs will have been phased out completely.

The future

Though the basic turn signal technology hasn’t changed in years, future improvements may include increased luminous strength and reliability. There has been some talk about intelligent turn signals that will sense when the lights should be activated.