October, 2009

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TOYOTA FLOOR MAT RECALL UPDATE

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
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Update on the Floor Mat Safety Advisory.  Toyota is still working on a remedy for this concern.  Soon Toyota will send a communication to affected owners.  Toyota has determined that this defect does not exist in vehicles in which the driver side floor mat is compatible with the vehicle and is properly secured

Toyota is currently developing a campaign remedy and will notify you when it is ready. In the meantime, we are providing important information regarding the issue and steps you may take in the interim
 
What is the risk?
A stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop the vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death. 

Toyota strongly recommends that you ensure that the correct floor mat is being used, that it is properly installed and secured, that it is not flipped over with the bottom-side up, and that one floor mat is not stacked over another.

 

What should you do if you experience accelerator pedal interference? 
 
Should the vehicle continue to accelerate rapidly after releasing the accelerator pedal, this could be an indication of floor mat interference.
If this occurs, Toyota recommends you take the following actions:
  • First, if it is possible and safe to do so, pull back the floor mat and dislodge it from the accelerator pedal; then pull over and stop the vehicle.
  • If the floor mat cannot be dislodged, then firmly and steadily step on the brake pedal with both feet. Do NOT pump the brake pedal repeatedly as this will increase the effort required to slow the vehicle.
  • Shift the transmission gear selector to the Neutral (N) position and use the brakes to make a controlled stop at the side of the road and turn off the engine.
  • If unable to put the vehicle in Neutral, turn the engine OFF, or to ACC. This will not cause loss of steering or braking control, but the power assist to these systems will be lost.
  • If the vehicle is equipped with an Engine Start/Stop button, firmly and steadily push the button for at least three seconds to turn off the engine. Do NOT tap the Engine Start/Stop button.
  • If the vehicle is equipped with a conventional key-ignition, turn the ignition key to the ACC position to turn off the engine. Do NOT remove the key from the ignition as this will lock the steering wheel.

SAVE FUEL…WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Sunday, October 25th, 2009
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An urge to hit the road and low gas prices have not curbed our desire to use less fuel. The Federal Energy Information Administration recentlycar-save-gas-lg-main_Full announced that  U.S. demand for gasoline has averaged about 9.2 million barrels a day, an increase of only 0.4 percent from the same period last year 2008, when gas prices were through the roof. Now that gas prices are back on the rise ( nearly 20 cents per gallon to $2.63),  consumer demand is not expected to move downward any time soon.

 So here are 10 tips you can use to squeeze the most mileage out of every penny spent at the pump. Some involve proper maintenance of your vehicle, but most require a change in behavior. All will help ease the burden on your wallet.

  • Stop Driving Recklessly
    Changing the way you drive is the most effective way to reduce the amount of fuel your car consumes. Accelerate gradually, drive smoothly and with care and you could see as much as a 33 percent gain in fuel economy on the highway and 5 percent around town, compared with what you’d get with an aggressive driving style, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That means skipping those jackrabbit starts at stoplights and sudden pedal-to-the-metal maneuvers on the highway.
  • Don’t Over Compensate With The Brake Pedal
    Anticipate stops so you avoid sudden braking. In fact, spend as little time on the brakes as possible. “Any time you hit the brake [in a traditional gas-powered vehicle], you are throwing away energy,” says Eric Kaufman, engineering manager for fuel economy and drive quality at General Motors. Take a long view of the road ahead, coasting safely to an intersection in front of you where you see traffic stopped.
  • Stay Within Posted Speed Limits
    A car or truck moving at 55 mph can get about 15 percent better fuel economy than the same car going 65 mph. While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas.
  • Use Cruise Control Whenever Possible
    Sure, it’s a luxury convenience. But, when used properly, cruise control can also be a fuel saver. It smoothes out driver input, helps maintain an even speed and allows the driver to take a long look at the road, rather than reacting to every little change in the surrounding traffic.
  • Avoid Excessive Idling
    Idling uses more fuel than turning the engine off and restarting it again. So if you are stopped for more than a minute, shut off the car. That means don’t waste fuel by sitting in that drive-thru lane at McDonald’s or Taco Bell; park and go inside instead. And shut off your vehicle while waiting outside the elementary school to pick up your children.
  • Turn the AC Down
    When you’re in slow city traffic, keep the air conditioner off, if possible. Lower the windows and open air vents to keep occupants comfortable. The air conditioner is a burden that uses fuel, and if you’re tooling around town, you can see a slight improvement in gas mileage by keeping it turned off. On the highway, however, keep the windows closed and AC on low. Open windows will impede aerodynamics and hurt fuel economy.
  • Pulse and Glide Technique
    This is a favorite technique of so-called hypermilers, a unique breed of drivers who go to extraordinary lengths to get as much as they can from each gallon of gasoline. However, it can be done only with hybrid vehicles. The first step is to accelerate the vehicle to around 30 or 40 mph (pulse). Then, ease slightly back on the accelerator until no energy arrows appear on the energy monitor, indicating that the vehicle is neither relying on the engine nor recharging the battery. As a result, the car begins to glide. When the vehicle slows to about 30 mph, repeat the whole process again. The pulse-and-glide technique improves fuel economy by minimizing use of the internal combustion engine.
  • Plan Your Trips Ahead of Time
    Combine your errands into one trip, rather than striking out multiple times during the day. Organize your stops so they’re near each other and so you don’t retrace your path. You may even be able to park in one central spot and walk between some of your stops, rather than driving and parking at each one. For commutes or events, organize a car pool and plan to travel during less congested times of day. When there’s less traffic, you’re more likely to drive smoothly. Use navigation aids on the Internet or in your vehicle to keep from getting lost — and thus wasting fuel — when you’re headed to a new, unknown location.
  • Pracice Proper Maintenance
    A well-maintained vehicle operates at peak efficiency. An inefficient engine — with fouled spark plugs, for example — won’t make optimal use of fuel. Be sure the air filter and the fuel filter are clean. Replace them if they’re not. Even something as simple as having tires inflated to the automaker’s maximum recommended pressure can improve gas mileage by as much as 6 percent, while periodic wheel alignments can help improve fuel economy up to 10 percent, according to the EPA.
  • Get Rid of Excess Cargo Weight
    Clean out that trunk, cargo area or pickup bed. Take out unneeded items that only add weight to your vehicle. Extra weight decreases gas mileage. According to the EPA, every 100 pounds of unnecessary weight could reduce fuel mileage by up to 2 percent. Also remove anything that causes additional aerodynamic drag, such as a bug shield, roof rack or cargo carrier. These have the same effect as adding weight; i.e., they increase the demand on your engine, causing premature wear and tear and reducing your car’s fuel efficiency.

Engine Light: How Do You Reset Check Engine Light After An Oil Change

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
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Here’s a Tutorial to Reset the Check Engine Light after Oil Change for most Late Model Toyota vehicles…check engine

Toyotas built over the last few years are set for the Check Engine Light to come on every 4500 miles as a reminder to change the oil.

For Owners who either change their own oil or have it changed through non Toyota service centers, The Engine Light  will come on, so here are the brief steps to turn off and Reset the Check Engine Light after Oil Changes:

  • Make sure mileage is set on total miles driven,(not on A or B) and with the engine off and in park,
  • Press the mileage button and hold,
  • Then switch the key to the on position, but don’t crank it.
  •  Hold the mileage button for 5 seconds and light should go off.

TOYOTA 4RUNNER 2010: HERE IT IS!

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
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Introducing The All New Toyota 4Runner For 2010

 

The Toyota 4Runner for 2010 debuts at the State Fair of Texas, and it’s one of the last body-on-frame midsize SUVs on the market.

We spent a week in this 4Runner, a Trail Edition, covering more than 800 miles, mostly on the highway with a few hours of commuting, mountain roads and trail driving thrown in.  The Trail Edition would be the most mechanically specialized 4Runner, trading on-road comfort for maximum off-road capability. Even so, we can vouch that the 4Runner is a comfortable cruiser and daily driver. In one day we logged 13 hours on the highway without feeling the least bit deprived.

Th 4Runner for 2010 is designed with outdoor enthusiasts and family adventures in mind. Now in its fifth generation, the 4Runner is far more rugged than the Camry-based Highlander crossover and more versatile than the two-door FJ Cruiser. Toyota offers the 4Runner in three distinct models, each aimed at buyers with different lifestyle priorities.

·For those who want maximum economy, there’s the SR5. It comes with a four-cylinder engine that gets 23 mpg on the highway and is available in either two- or four-wheel drive, with minimal frills.

·For those who want a touch of luxury, there is the Limited model, which offers amenities like leatherseating, full-time four-wheel drive, a 15-speaker audio system, 20-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and color-keyed exterior styling with chrome accents.

·Finally, the Trail Edition is for the true outdoor recreationalist. It combines a part-time four-wheel-drive system with advanced electronic enhancements that allow the user to dial in off-road driving control based on the nature of the terrain. It’s aimed at buyers who want something as capable as the FJ Cruiser but with four doors and more cargo room.

Power and Mileage

 

In the interest of better fuel economy, Toyota has ditched the optional 4.7-liter V-8 engine in favor of a revised high-output version of their 4.0-liter V-6 that gets 270 horsepower. That’s 34 hp more than the prior V-6, and 10 hp more than the old, optional V-8. The 4Runner feels quicker than ever before, with stronger response. We had ample high-speed passing power and on-ramp acceleration — even with a full load, and there’s enough power to pass on the highway without forcing a downshift.  The V-6 is run by an electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission. Its maximum towing capacity is 5,000 pounds.

We averaged 20.3 mpg during the week we drove the 4Runner, which is a little better than its combined 19 mpg EPA rating.

Driving Dynamics

 

As you might expect, the Trail Edition rides and handles like a 4×4. The suspension permits a fair amount of vibration on the highway; contact with cracks and small imperfections are noticed in the cabin. On the other hand, larger irregularities — washed out dirt roads, speed bumps or dips at intersections — tend to disappear, soaked up by springs, shocks and bushings tuned to handle tough terrain.

Steering is easy and reasonably accurate in the 4Runner, and it’s easy to keep on-center while cruising on the highway. It takes minimal effort to maneuver in tight spaces. We think the 4Runner would readily out-handle and ride more smoothly than most full-size SUVs, but car-based unibody SUVs would be noticeably more precise, with better on-road manners.

For-Real Off-Road Capability
While the 4Runner might be so-so when it comes to on-road manners, it clearly excels in off-road capability.

The frame is as rugged as they come, and the driveline has been strengthened all the way back to the rear differential.  The four-wheel-drive system in the SR5 and Trail Edition is a part-time system favored by off-road enthusiasts, enhanced by electronic traction control, speed control and terrain-following innovations.  Four-wheel drive is actuated by a short lever on the center console. 

We found that it was easy to shift in and out of 4-Lo, as long as the transmission was in Neutral, and it was easy to get back to two-wheel drive again. A locking rear differential that’s electronically actuated isstandard on the Trail Edition. One unique feature, the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, disconnects the stabilizer bars to enhance suspension droop in highly irregular terrain. KDSS and other enhancements that allow for fine tuning the traction control system were formerly only available on the top-of-the-line Toyota Land Cruiser. Ground clearance — 9.6 inches for the 4×4 — is ample for trail use; the 33-degree angle of approach is very good, but it’s not quite equal to the Hummer H3, another superior off-road crawler.

How Big Is It?

 

The 4Runner offers a three-row option with room for seven. The interior volume is enhanced by the rear seats that fold flat without having to remove the headrests, and the rear liftgate opens wide. That allowed us to load the 4Runner with our son’s dresser, mountain bike, computer, chair, guitar and amp — plus boxes, clothes and groceries — to bring to his college quarters in a single trip.

gifts2Great Gift Ideas At Truck Cruisin!

21st CENTURY THREAT TO ROAD SAFETY: TEXTING

Friday, October 2nd, 2009
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If you’re driving the Freeway in heavy traffic, chances are that a driver in the next lane, directly ahead of you or in your rearview mirror is reading or writing a text message, according to recent traffic research.

“If you think you’re safe on the Capital Beltway, think again,” said Lon Anderson, a spokesman for AAA. “We have an epidemic of distracted driving out there.”

Anderson joined Virginia officials and police Monday in the first of several events this week that will address talking on cellphones and text messaging on the nation’s highways. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will host a  seminar on distracted drivers this week  in Washington.

An issue is defined as having  crossed a certain threshold of identification in American culture when it spawns a trunk load of bumper stickers… and cellphone use while driving has achieved that stature. Several recent bumber stickers:… “Hang up and drive,” and “Guns don’t kill people, cellphones kill people.”

Almost 90 percent of Americans own cellphones, and one national survey found that eight in 10 drivers talk on their phones while behind the wheel, about 1 million of them at any given moment. Cellphone use has been cited as a factor in an estimated 342,000 auto accident injuries.

Despite an awareness that distracted drivers are a hazard, many Americans continue to use cellphones and text while driving. When AAA recently studied the habits of Beltway drivers in Virginia, the group found that more than half of drivers used their cell phones on Interstate 495 every day, and a quarter of them send or receive text messages daily.

Anderson said they found that more than half of Beltway drivers are distracted by cellphone use and that those drivers are twice as likely to have an accident or a “near-miss.”

AAA last week urged all state governments to ban texting while driving. It currently is banned in the District and Virginia, while Maryland’s ban will take effect Thursday. The Governors Highway Safety Association, a national nonprofit organization which represents state safety offices, has endorsed a ban on texting and using cellphones for newly licensed drivers.

FLOOR MAT RECALL: A POSITIVE FOR TOYOTA BRAND

Thursday, October 1st, 2009
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Toyota issued a recall, instructing 3.8 million vehicle owners to take the floor mats out of their cars, trucks and SUVs.

Offcially that is a recall, but it’s more of an act out of Responsible Concern for Human Safety and a Positive for the Toyota Brand.

“Sudden Acceleration” is the reason. It turns out there have been a few cases of people suddenly accelerating out of control with some fatal consequences because the mat got caught up in the accelerator pedal.

“Sudden Acceleration” is a scary terrible phrase in the auto industry. Worse than “gas taxes” to American drivers. Or “Death panels” to people in the health care reform debate.

Audi took a beating in the late 1980s and 90s after CBS’s Sixty Minutes gave a spotlight to some trial lawyers whose clients had claimed “sudden acceleration” was to blame for some accidents. Audi issued denials. But the story dragged on. Investigations were done. But there was never any finding that a design or engineering flaw in an Audi was to blame. Yet, enormous damage was done to Audi sales and the brand. It has only been in the last five years or so that people have let the false charges of sudden acceleration drift into the archives of their memories.

Today, Audi vehicles are world class competitors to Mercedes, BMW and Lexus worldwide.

The last thing the company needed to do in this sales challenged economy was deny any responsibility. And easy for them, all they have to do is tell the owners to take the factory issued mats out of the vehicles.

Most People have to straighten out the mats in their cars from time to time because they ride up into the pedal area. It’s common sense. But assuming common sense is wide spread is a dangerous thing to do.

Now, the search goes on to see what company has the smartest mat design that prevents the problem. Then, let every automaker copy that good design, eh?

Any suggestions?

Excerpts from David Kiley