Monday, November 30, 2009

Tire Maintenance

There is a close working relationship between your tires and other mechanical systems in your vehicle, such as the wheels, brakes, shock absorbers, steering and suspension systems. To ensure you have a safe, comfortable ride and good tire mileage, click on the areas of interest below.
  • Tire Size
  • Tire Tread
  • Balance & Alignment
  • Rotation
  • Repair

Tire Size

To maintain tire safety, purchase new tires that are the same size as the vehicle's original tires or another size recommended by the manufacturer. Look at the tire information placard, the owner's manual, or the sidewall of the tire you are replacing to find this information. If you have any doubt about the correct size to choose, consult with the tire dealer.

Tire Tread

The tire tread provides the gripping action and traction that prevent your vehicle from slipping or sliding, especially when the road is wet or icy. In general, tires are not safe and should be replaced when the tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch. Tires have built-in treadwear indicators that let you know when it is time to replace your tires. These indicators are raised sections spaced intermittently in the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear "even" with the outside of the tread, it is time to replace your tires.

Another method for checking tread depth is to place a penny in the tread with Lincoln's head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, you are ready for new tires. The tread on this tire covers the top of Lincoln's head, so it's not yet ready for replacement.

Penny in Tire

Balance & Alignment

To avoid vibration or shaking of the vehicle when a tire rotates, the tire must be properly balanced. This balance is achieved by positioning weights on the wheel to counterbalance heavy spots on the wheel-and-tire assembly.

A wheel alignment adjusts the angles of the wheels so that they are positioned correctly relative to the vehicle's frame. This adjustment maximizes the life of your tires and prevents your car from veering to the right or left when driving on a straight, level road.

These adjustments require special equipment and should be performed by a qualified technician.


Rotating tires from front to back and from side to side can reduce irregular wear (for vehicles that have tires that are all the same size). Look in your owner's manual for information on how frequently the tires on your vehicle should be rotated and the best pattern for rotation.

Examples of common rotation patterns (for vehicles with tires that are the same type and size):

Tire rotation diagram


A plug by itself is not an acceptable repair.

The proper repair of a punctured tire requires a plug for the hole and a patch for the area inside the tire that surrounds the puncture hole. The repair material used - for example, a “combination patch and plug” repair - must seal the inner liner and fill the injury to be considered a permanent repair.

Punctures through the tread can be repaired if they are not too large, but punctures to the sidewall should not be repaired.

Tires must be removed from the rim to be properly inspected before being plugged and patched.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Toyota Announces Fix for Accelerator Pedal Entrapment Problem

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today announced that Toyota has identified a vehicle-based remedy to fix a sudden acceleration safety issue involving floor mats trapping accelerator pedals in various Toyota and Lexus models. Toyota announced the recall of these vehicles in early October and said it would soon develop a vehicle-based remedy to reduce the risk of a crash due to accelerator pedal entrapment.

The models involved in the recall are: 2007 to 2010 MY Camry, 2005 to 2010 MY Avalon, 2004 to 2009 MY Prius, 2005-2010 MY Tacoma, 2007-2010 MY Tundra, 2007-2010 MY ES 350, 2006-2010 MY IS 250, and 2006 to 2010 MY IS 350.

NHTSA said Toyota plans to reconfigure the accelerator pedal, and in some cases the shape of the floor surface under the pedal, to address the risk of pedal entrapment due to floor mat interference, particularly with regard to inappropriate or improperly attached floor mats. At the same time, Toyota will develop replacement pedals for these vehicles, which will become available for some models in April 2010. Toyota will provide owners with the new pedal, when it becomes available, even if the vehicle has already received the modified pedal under the recall.

In addition, vehicles with any genuine Toyota or Lexus accessory all-weather floor mats will be provided with newly-designed replacement driver- and front-passenger side all-weather mats.

NHTSA also said that Toyota will, in addition to these announced vehicle-based remedies, install a brake override system on the involved Camry, Avalon and Lexus ES 350, IS 350 and IS 250 models as an “extra measure of confidence.” The brake override system would ensure the vehicle would stop if both the brake and the accelerator pedals are simultaneously applied. NHTSA is particularly pleased that Toyota is taking this additional step.

NHTSA said that Toyota intends to notify vehicle owners on a rolling basis, starting with owners of the ES 350, Camry, and Avalon vehicles. While awaiting Toyota's notification, NHTSA urges owners to remove all removable driver's side floor mats and not replace them until their vehicles have received the remedies being provided by Toyota. Toyota will begin making the necessary fixes to the recalled vehicles beginning early in 2010, perhaps in January. Initially, Toyota dealers will be instructed on how to reshape existing accelerator pedals. Later, replacement accelerator pedals will be available for installation on vehicles not yet remedied or, if the owner so chooses, even to replace the modified pedals.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jet-powered Ford guns for 300 mph

Jet-powered Ford guns
oe Wilkins knew there was only one way to give his supercharged, alcohol-injected Hemi-engined hot rod more power: Put a jet engine in the trunk.

"It started as a hobby and turned into a monster," said Joe Wilkins, the motor madman behind what might be the wildest 1939 Ford ever built. He's an inventor and defense department contractor, and the idea of goosing the Ford's ability to turn heads and shred tires came when he bought a used gas turbine engine.

"I got hooked on the simplicity and power that this thing produced, and I decided one day I want to put it in a car."

For More Information

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tire Pressure and Loading

Tire Pressure and Loading
Tire information placards and vehicle certification labels contain information on tires and load limits. These labels indicate the vehicle manufacturer's information including:
  • Recommended tire size
  • Recommended tire inflation pressure (usually given in PSI cold)
  • Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR):
    • the maximum occupant and cargo weight a vehicle is designed to carry
  • Gross axle weight ratings (GAWR) for front and rear axles:
    • the maximum weight the axle systems are designed to carry

Both placards and certification labels are permanently attached to the vehicle door edge, door post, glove-box door, or inside of the trunk lid. You can also find the recommended tire pressure and load limit for your vehicle in the vehicle owner's manual.

* Understanding Tire Pressure
* Checking Tire Pressure
* Maintaining Tire Pressure

Understanding Tire Pressure and Load Limits

Tire inflation pressure is the level of air in the tire that provides it with load-carrying capacity and affects the overall performance of the vehicle. The tire inflation pressure is a number that indicates the amount of air pressure– measured in pounds per square inch (psi)–a tire requires to be properly inflated. (You will also find this number on the vehicle information placard expressed in kilopascals (kPa), which is the metric measure used internationally.)

Manufacturers of passenger vehicles and light trucks determine this number based on he vehicle's design load limit, that is, the greatest amount of weight a vehicle can safely carry and the vehicle's tire size.The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is referred to as the "recommended cold inflation pressure."

Checking Tire Pressure

It is important to check your vehicle's tire pressure at least once a month for the following reasons:

* Most tires may naturally lose air over time.
* Tires can lose air suddenly if you drive over a pothole or other object or if you strike the curb when parking.

Purchase a tire pressure gauge to keep in your vehicle. Gauges can be purchased at tire dealerships, auto supply stores, and other retail outlets.

The vehicle manufacturer's recommended tire inflation pressure is the proper psi when a tire is cold. The term cold does not relate to the outside temperature. Rather, a cold tire is one that has not been driven on for at least three hours. When you drive, your tires get warmer, causing the air pressure within them to increase. Your tires can get warm after just 1 mile of driving.

Therefore, to get an accurate tire pressure reading, you must measure tire pressure when the tires are cold or compensate for the extra pressure in warm tires.

Steps for Maintaining Proper Tire Pressure

Step 1: Locate the recommended tire pressure on the vehicle's tire information placard, certification label, or in the owner's manual.

Step 2: Check the tire pressure of all tires.

Step 3: If the tire pressure is too high in any of the tires, slowly release air by gently pressing on the tire valve stem with the edge of your tire gauge until you get to the correct pressure.

Step 4: If the tire pressure is too low, note the difference between the measured tire pressure and the correct tire pressure. These "missing" pounds of pressure are what you will need to add. At a service station, add the missing pounds of air pressure to each tire that is under inflated.

Step 5: Check all the tires to make sure they have the same air pressure (except in cases in which the front and rear tires are supposed to have different amounts of pressure).

If you have been driving your vehicle and think that a tire is under inflated, fill it to the recommended cold inflation pressure indicated on your vehicle's tire information placard or certification label. While your tire may still be slightly under inflated due to the extra pressure of a warm tire, it is safer to drive with air pressure that is slightly lower than the vehicle manufacturer's recommended cold inflation pressure than to drive with a significantly under inflated tire. Since this is a temporary fix, don't forget to recheck and adjust the tire's pressure when you can obtain a cold reading.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Consumer Advisory: Lerado Recalls 5,540 Mia Moda Seats and Bases

Mia Moda SN Locator 1

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is alerting consumers to immediately stop using Mia Moda Viva and Viva Supreme infant child restraint systems due to safety defects. Owners will need to obtain another seat; young children should never be transported in a motor vehicle without a proper safety restraint system.

Lerado, the manufacturer, is recalling 5,540 seats and bases because they could fail to adequately restrain a child in the event of a crash. The restraint’s harness splitter plate located on the rear of the seat has sharp edges which could cut the harness straps. In addition, the restraint’s base is vulnerable to cracking during a crash.

The affected model numbers include the 5000 (seat), 5001 (base), 5050 (seat), 5051 (base), 5070 (seat), 5071 (base), 5080 (seat), and 5081 (base) manufactured in 2006 through 2009. The models and serial numbers can be found on the infant seat or car base as shown in the illustrations below. The company will also offer a full refund of the purchase price of the affected seat. For more information, contact Lerado toll-free at 1-877-546-8437.

In addition, parents and caregivers are encouraged to sign up with NHTSA to automatically receive updates about child seat recalls via email. Consumers may sign-up for recall notifications from the federal government by visiting and clicking on the “e-mail” or “RSS” option to register.

Consumers with questions about this or any other safety recall campaign may call NHTSA’s toll-free Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153).

Keeping Kids safe in Car

Many children are killed or seriously injured in backover incidents. A backover incident typically occurs when a car coming out of a driveway or parking space backs over a child because the driver did not see him/her. These backover incidents typically involve toddlers that wander unnoticed into the path of a vehicle moving in reverse.

Prevention Tips:

  • Teach children not to play in or around cars
  • Supervise children carefully when in and around vehicles
  • Always walk around your vehicle and check the area around it before backing up.
  • Be aware of small children-the smaller a child, the more likely it is you will not see them.
  • Teach children to move away from a vehicle when a driver gets in it or if the car is started.
  • Have children in the area stand to the side of the driveway or sidewalk so you can see them as you are backing out of a driveway or parking space.
  • Make sure to look behind you while backing up slowly in case a child dashes behind your vehicle unexpectedly.
  • Take extra care if you drive a large vehicle because they are likely to have bigger blind zones. Roll down your windows while backing out of your driveway or parking space so that you'll be able to hear what is happening outside of your vehicle.
  • Teach your children to keep their toys and bikes out of the driveway.
  • Because kids can move unpredictably, you should actively check your mirrors while backing up.
  • Many cars are equipped with detection devices like backup cameras or warning sounds, but they cannot take the place of you actively walking around your car to make sure your children are safely out of the way. Do not rely solely on these devices to detect what's behind your vehicle.

What you need to know, now:

  • Every vehicle has blind zone areas. As the size and height of a vehicle increases, the blind zone area does as well.
  • The elevation of the driver's seat, the shape of the windows and mirrors, and the slope of the road or driveway can affect the size of the blind zone behind the vehicle.
  • Light trucks, SUVs, and vans, are more likely to be involved in backovers than cars.
  • Backovers are often a result of a child following a parent or guardian to the driveway without the parent knowing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How Does the Small Engine Rule Work?

The regulation (commonly called Phase 1) sets allow- able exhaust levels for hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and NOx from small engines of 25 HP or less. The rule applies to all small engines produced after September 1, 1997—with some earlier and a few later. Allowable emission levels vary depending on engine size and use.

EPA works directly with the engine manufacturers to assure they comply with the regulations. Before an engine manufacturer can sell a regulated engine model in the U.S., it must obtain a certificate of conformity from EPA. To obtain a certificate of conformity, the engine manufac- turer must provide test data along with other information demonstrating that the engine model meets the applicable emission standards.

The Agency requires that the engine manufacturer label each certified engine to indicate compliance with the small spark-ignition engine rule. The language may read “this engine conforms to Phase 1 U.S. EPA regulations for small nonroad engines.” Some engine labels, however, will feature language indicating compliance with both EPA and California regulations. Emission labels will be found on the engine, or if the engine label is obscured, on the piece of equipment itself.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Alternative Fuel Vehicles

China encourages the development of clean and fuel efficient vehicles in an effort to sustain continued growth of the country’s automobile industry. By the end of 2007, China plans to reduce the average fuel consumption per 100 km for all types of vehicles by 10%. The proportion of vehicles burning alternative fuel will be increased to help optimize the country’s energy consumption. Priority will be given to facilitating the research and development of electric and hybrid vehicles as well as alternative fuel vehicles, especially CNG/LNG. Major cities like Beijing and Shanghai already require Euro III emission standards.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

U.S. Department of Transportation Releases New Action Plan to Address Motorcoach Safety Issues

The U.S. Department of Transportation today released its Motorcoach Safety Action Plan which lays out concrete steps for improving motorcoach safety across the board. The action plan addresses major safety issues such as driver fatigue and inattention, vehicle rollover, occupant ejections and oversight of unsafe carriers.

"We are committed to making sure that bus travelers reach their destinations safely," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "These improvements will not only help reduce the number of motorcoach crashes, it will also help save lives and reduce injuries."

While motorcoach travel is a very safe mode of highway transportation in the United States, carrying 750 million passengers annually, an average of 19 motorcoach occupants are killed in crashes each year according to data collected by DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Additional fatalities result among pedestrians, and occupants of other vehicles involved in these crashes.

To address this issue, Secretary LaHood directed DOT's agencies to take a fresh look at motorcoach safety issues, identify actions to address outstanding safety problems, and develop an aggressive schedule to implement those actions.

The comprehensive action plan announced today proposes enhanced regulatory oversight of new and high risk motorcoach operators, as well as the increased use of new technologies. To address driver distraction, it proposes to initiate rulemaking to prohibit texting and limit the use of cellular telephones and other devices by motorcoach drivers. It also discusses requiring electronic on-board recording devices on all motorcoaches to better monitor drivers' duty hours to address fatigue, and enhanced oversight of unsafe carriers.

In addition, the action plan proposes to better protect motorcoach occupants by requiring the installation of seat belts and discusses additional measures such as the establishment of performance requirements for enhanced roof strength, fire safety, and emergency egress. It also calls for safety improvements using technologies such as electronic stability control to prevent rollovers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dealer Sales in Buying a Used Car

User Cars

Used cars are sold through a variety of outlets: franchise and independent dealers, rental car companies, leasing companies, and used car superstores. You can even buy a used car on the Internet. Ask friends, relatives, and co-workers for recommendations. You may want to call your local consumer protection agency, state Attorney General (AG), and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to find out if any unresolved complaints are on file about a particular dealer.

Some dealers are attracting customers with "no-haggle prices," "factory certified" used cars, and better warranties. Consider the dealer's reputation when you evaluate these ads.

Dealers are not required by law to give used car buyers a three-day right to cancel. The right to return the car in a few days for a refund exists only if the dealer grants this privilege to buyers. Dealers may describe the right to cancel as a "cooling-off" period, a money-back guarantee, or a "no questions asked" return policy. Before you purchase from a dealer, ask about the dealer's return policy, get it in writing and read it carefully.

The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Used Car Rule requires dealers to post a Buyers Guide in every used car they offer for sale. This includes light-duty vans, light-duty trucks, demonstrators, and program cars. Demonstrators are new cars that have not been owned, leased, or used as rentals, but have been driven by dealer staff. Program cars are low-mileage, current-model-year vehicles returned from short-term leases or rentals. Buyers Guides do not have to be posted on motorcycles and most recreational vehicles. Anyone who sells less than six cars a year doesn't have to post a Buyers Guide.

The Buyers Guide must tell you:
  • whether the vehicle is being sold "as is" or with a warranty;
  • what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty;
  • that spoken promises are difficult to enforce;
  • to get all promises in writing;
  • to keep the Buyers Guide for reference after the sale;
  • the major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the major problems you should look out for; and
  • to ask to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy.

When you buy a used car from a dealer, get the original Buyers Guide that was posted in the vehicle, or a copy. The Guide must reflect any negotiated changes in warranty coverage. It also becomes part of your sales contract and overrides any contrary provisions. For example, if the Buyers Guide says the car comes with a warranty and the contract says the car is sold "as is," the dealer must give you the warranty described in the Guide.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Insurance Commissioner Poizner Announces Southern California Man Arrested in Connection with Auto Insurance Fraud Charges

Insurance Commissioner Poizner announced today the arrest of Ronald Velasquez, 25, of Mentone. Velasquez was charged with filing a fraudulent auto insurance claim and booked at the Orange County Jail. Bail was set at $30,000.

"Defrauding an insurance company is illegal and will get you a one way ticket to jail," said Commissioner Poizner. "CDI fraud detectives work around the clock to stop criminals who defraud insurers and drive up the cost of insurance for everyone."

According to CDI detectives, on June 8, 2008 at approximately 3:15 p.m., Velasquez rear-ended another vehicle while driving uninsured. At approximately 3:56 p.m., Velasquez purchased insurance online from Esurance Property and Casualty Insurance Company. On June 11, 2008, Velasquez filed a claim online that he was involved in a traffic collision on June 11, 2008.

On August 1, 2008, Esurance denied Velasquez's claim after concluding that his purchase of the policy occurred after his traffic collision. The potential loss of this claim would have been $10,000.00.

The Orange County District Attorney's Office is prosecuting the case.

Commissioner Poizner oversees sixteen CDI Enforcement Branch regional offices throughout the state. Close to 1900 insurance fraud-related arrests have been made by the Department of Insurance's enforcement division since Commissioner Poizner took office in 2007 - more arrests than have been made during any other two year period, under any previous insurance commissioner.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Car Details in your Mobile

blackberry showing
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have launched a new Web site designed specifically for mobile Internet devices!

Consumers can view
  • Fuel economy ratings for all cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. back to model year 1985

  • Annual fuel cost estimates
  • Annual petroleum use (barrels of domestic and imported petroleum)
  • Carbon footprint (tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually)

Mobile Internet access means consumers can view fuel economy data at their convenience, whenever and where ever they want.

To access new mobile site, enter in your phone's Web browser.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is meant by dual-stage, multi-stage, or variable output inflation?

Dual-stage, multi-stage, or variable output are terms used to describe the operation of the air bag inflators in your air bag system that cause the air bag to fill. For dual stage or multi-stage inflators, the inflators may go off in two or more stages (steps) to tailor the amount of pressure in the frontal air bag during a crash. For a variable output inflator, the inflator can tailor the output across a range of inflation pressures.

In general, for less severe crashes requiring less inflation force, only one stage of a dual-stage/multi-stage inflator may go off, or there may be less output pressure from a variable output inflator. Both result in a lower-pressure air bag deployment. For more severe crashes, all stages of a dual-stage/multi-stage inflator may go off at the same time or there may be full output from a variable output inflator. Both result in a higher-pressure air bag deployment.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hydraulic Hybrid Research

EPA is a research leader in the application of hydraulics in vehicles. Hydraulic hybrid technology uses a hydraulic energy storage and propulsion system in the vehicle. This hydraulic system captures and stores a large fraction of the energy normally wasted in vehicle braking and uses this energy to help propel the vehicle during the next vehicle acceleration. The hydraulic system also enables the engine to operate more efficiently when it is needed.

Hydraulic hybrids draw from two sources of power to operate the vehicle - the diesel or gasoline engine and the hydraulic components. In other words, a typical diesel-powered or gasoline powered vehicle can be fitted with hydraulic components as a secondary energy storage system. The primary hydraulic components are two hydraulic accumulator vessels (a high-pressure accumulator capable of storing hydraulic fluid compressing inert nitrogen gas and a low-pressure accumulator) and one or more hydraulic pump/motor units.

Benefits of Hydraulic Technology: Hydraulic drivetrains are particularly attractive for vehicle applications that entail a significant amount of stop-and-go driving, such as urban delivery trucks or school buses. A major benefit of a hydraulic hybrid vehicle is the ability to capture and use a large percentage of the energy normally lost in vehicle braking. Hydraulic hybrids can quickly and efficiently store and release great amounts of energy due to a higher power density. This is a critical factor in maximizing braking energy recovered and increasing the fuel economy benefit. While the primary benefit of hydraulics is higher fuel economy, hydraulics also increase vehicle acceleration performance. Hydraulic hybrid technology cost-effectively allows the engine speed or torque to be independent of vehicle speed resulting in cleaner and more efficient engine operation.

Future of Hydraulics: Hydraulic hybrid systems create a unique opportunity to optimize engine operations. EPA has produced research concept vehicles that demonstrate the hydraulic technology. One concept vehicle is an urban delivery truck that uses hydraulic "launch assist." This delivery truck retains its conventional engine and transmission, but adds on a hydraulics package optimized for fuel economy. The next generation of hydraulic vehicles involves fully integrating hydraulic technology. In this configuration, the "full" hydraulic hybrid replaces the conventional drivetrain with a hydraulic drivetrain and eliminates the need for a transmission and transfer case. Using the full hydraulic drive in conjunction with EPA's clean diesel combustion technology is projected to improve fuel economy even more.

EPA also has achieved major breakthroughs in designing hydraulic accumulators and pump/motors to be more efficient, smaller, and lighter for motor vehicle applications, which will help improve fuel efficiency. EPA currently has cooperative research and development agreements with several private sector partners to further the development of hydraulics.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Flex-Fuel Vehicles

Flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) are designed to run on gasoline or a blend of up to 85%

ethanol (E85). Except for a few engine and fuel system modifications, they are identical to gasoline-only models.

FFVs have been produced since the 1980s, and dozens of models are currently available. Since FFVs look just like gasoline-only models, you may have an FFV and not even know it. To determine if your vehicle is an FFV, check the inside of your car's fuel filler door for an identification sticker or consult your owner’s manual.

FFVs experience no loss in performance when operating on E85. However, since a gallon of ethanol contains less energy than a gallon of gasoline, FFVs typically get about 20-30% fewer miles per gallon when fueled with E85.