December, 2009 browsing by month



Friday, December 18th, 2009
There’s a great scene in the movie, A Christmas Story, where the family is in the car singing Christmas carols coming home from buying a Christmas Tree when suddenly there is an explosion outside the car, POW!…,and the vehicle comes to a staggering halt. Of all the things, it is what people feared the most back in the 1940’s…THE FLAT TIRE BLOWOUT!… flat tireI made a statement not long ago that no one ever has a flat tire anymore now that we are into the 21st Century.There was no wood around to knock on….So, There I was, Stuck with a flat tire in the middle of the road with no mechanic in sight!…3 times in the last 18 months!!! 
There are many people and young drivers today who have never experienced the dreaded flat tire or blowout.To avoid being helpless in such a situation, here are some simple tutorial instructions for changing a flat tire on your car. Changing a flat tire is not that difficult and with clear-cut steps, even you can learn how to do it.
What You Need                                              jack
  • Car Jack                                                                                       
  • Flashlight (in case its dark)
  • Lugnut Wrenches
  • Spare Tire
Instructions to Change the Tire 
  • The car should be parked on a flat surface rather than a sloping one. If there is a slight slant, consider placing a brick or small rock behind the other tires, so that it doesn’t move. Apply the parking brake, put the car in gear and turn off the engine. Turn on the hazard lights to let other people know that you are doing some repairs.
  • Take out the spare tire, lug-nut wrench (tire iron) and the car jack. If necessary, remove the hubcap. After this, loosen up the lug nuts that hold the tire in place. The lug nuts should be loosened in a star pattern. When you loosen one, next one to be loosened should be located opposite to it. Make sure all the nuts are unscrewed and slightly loose before you get the car jack.   lug wrench
  • Very slowly and carefully, lift up the car with the jack. Make sure there is enough room to remove the old tire and also put the new, full tire on. For this, the car should be jacked up a little higher than necessary. Now, remove the lug nuts away and place them where you won’t loose any of them and they won’t roll away. Slowly remove the flat tire, which should be hanging by the studded threads. Keep it aside. jack up car
  • Get the new tire, lift it and place it onto the studs. To cross check, whether you have placed it properly, check for the air valve. It always faces out. Now, place the lug nuts back the way you unscrewed them. Tighten up each one slightly in a star pattern. Don’t tighten lug nuts located adjacent to each other. tighten up lugs
  • Slowly, bring down the car from the jack and remove it. Now tighten the lug nuts as much as you can. Place the hub cap back and you are ready to continue on your journey!

Discussions On Buying A Used Hybrid Car

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

2001 PRIUSSometimes, a seemingly innocent question gives rise to some pretty hot discussion.

Such was the case at a local watering hole recently on buying a used hybrid: One fellow was voicing his thoughts on purchasing a used hybrid… It was a move aimed at doing something to atone for his past environmental sins — he drives a full-sized SUV. The gathered throng argued the pros and cons. He maintained it was a good thing to do from an environmental perspective; others suggested a fool and his money are soon parted.

Of course, during the discussion, the inevitable straw dogs were erected and promptly torn apart by the black hat skeptics in the group. The problem with any discussion about the validity of buying a used hybrid is that it eventually ends up revolving around one key point — the main hybrid battery and how long it will continue to service the car. It may be functioning fine at the time of purchase, but what of the future?

The problem with most of the information regarding a hybrid’s battery life is that most of the evidence is anecdotal in nature — for every taxi driver that’s managed to squeeze 400,000-plus kilometres(Apr. 250,000 miles) out of a hybrid, there’s an equal number with the opposite experience. The skeptics cited an age-old saying: Every good rule must have an exception. Without some concrete numbers on a broader cross-section of hybrids — those driven by everyday Joes — most of the information is of little statistical significance.

The chap defending his decision to consider a hybrid as his next ride pointed to its fuel-efficient powertrain and the lower emissions it produces, especially the dreaded greenhouse gases. So, through the wonders of the Internet, a 2001 Toyota Prius was googled. Based on the information posted on Natural Resources Canada’s Fuel Consumption Guide website, it produces 2,182 kilograms of CO2 per year. When this number is compared with that of a regular four-cylinder Toyota Camry with an automatic transmission of the same vintage and the 4,135 kilograms per year it produces, there is an obvious benefit.

However, an eight-year-old Prius (currently worth between $6000

and $8000, according to Kelly Blue Book) with 100,001

miles on the clock is technically out of warranty, and so if the battery does need to be replaced, it’s on the owner’s dime. In this case,

the potential purchaser could be on the hook for anywhere between $3,500 and


Make no mistake, the hybrid battery does wear out — not in the mechanical sense like an engine but in its ability to accept a charge and return power when it is demanded. As with a cellphone or laptop battery, the hybrid battery’s performance wanes with the number of times it is cycled and the conditions in which it is forced to operate. Toyota, for example, never fully charges the battery nor is it ever fully drained. This strategy is said to extend the service life of the battery.

Temperature is another factor that has an enormous effect on performance.

Cold weather slows the battery’s chemical reaction, which hurts its ability to deliver power and, ultimately, puts a crimp in the car’s performance and fuel economy. Likewise, the battery pack does not like to get too hot. In fairness, hybrid batteries are designed to withstand temperature fluctuations.

Another of the straw dogs suggested that replacing the main hybrid battery is akin to replacing a worn-out transmission. That’s true if one swaps the broken transmission with a new one. However, most replace a failed transmission with a rebuilt unit, which is much more cost effective. Of course, for the hybrid battery, there is the scrap yard route, but one could end up purchasing someone else’s headache. (And, don’t forget, a hybrid also has a transmission that may need replacing.)

So, what does one do?

There is no question hybrids, because of their fuel efficiency, reduce society’s reliance on fossil fuels. The hybrid experience is also building valuable know-how for the day when the car of the future uses an electric motor, hydrogen and a fuel cell. That’s the good news.

The downside is simple. If all other operating expenses (everything from the cost of purchase and routine maintenance to insurance) are equal, the fuel savings generated by a 2001 Prius amounts to $3,584 when compared with a

2001 four-cylinder Camry (the 2001 Prius has an annual fuel cost of $500 per year, the Camry costs $948/year according to Natural Resources Canada’s fuel consumption guide).

In short, the cost of replacing the main hybrid battery erases eight years of fuel savings in one fell swoop.

So, would you invest in a previously loved hybrid? Nobody raised a hand at that ad hoc forum and one could wager there are very few hands being raised now.

In an unusual twist, the group — a bunch that cannot agree on anything —

reached a consensus: The value of a used hybrid is outweighed by the inevitable need to replace its costly battery at some point.

But, used hybrid Prius models usually find a new owner rather quickly, So…take your chances on the used Prius or a Powerball Ticket?


Friday, December 11th, 2009

 U.S. News Autos just released its second annual Best Car For The Money Awards…TOYOTA EARNS THE MOST BEST CAR AWARDS!


 The U.S. News Best Car for the Money awards recognize 23 vehicles that earn the highest marks for overall value and appeal within their respective categories. To select the award winners, U.S. News has combined its newly released 2010 car rankings with total cost of ownership data provided by

“While car shoppers are starting to come back to the showrooms, they are looking for a good value more than ever before,” said Jamie Page Deaton, Lead Automotive Editor for U.S. News. “But ‘good value’ does not simply mean ‘cheap’. The Best Car for the Money awards recognize vehicles that can be the most rewarding to own – namely those that win the most praise and offer the most compelling overall value.”

The U.S. News car rankings provide an unbiased comparison of each vehicle to its competitors, helping shoppers identify the best cars in each category. Rankings are based primarily on the balanced, diverse opinions of hundreds of professional auto critics, which are analyzed and scored to create a consensus opinion about each car.

With a 22-year history of providing consumers with reliable information about vehicle costs, measures both the target price that consumers can expect to pay for a vehicle as well as its 5-year total cost of ownership. Combining this data with U.S. News car rankings allows different models to be compared on a very useful metric – overall appeal for the money.

“There is no question that car shoppers are now paying more attention to total ownership costs such as resale value, fuel economy, and other factors,” said Charlie Vogelheim, Executive Editor of “Taking into account these real world costs as well as U.S. News’s unbiased car rankings, the Best Car for the Money awards identify vehicles that should make any car shopper’s short list.”

For complete information about this year’s Best Car for the Money winners and the awards methodology, visit For more information about the Total Cost of Ownership and other related data, visit The 23 winners of the 2010 Best Car for the Money awards are listed below:


Subcompact Cars Nissan Versa

Compact CarsHyundai Elantra

HatchbacksHonda Fit

Midsize Cars Toyota Camry

FamilySedans Ford Taurus

Upscale Compact CarsVolkswagen GTI

Upscale SedansHyundai Genesis

Luxury SedansAcura RL

Hybrid CarsToyota Prius

Affordable Sports CarsMazda MX-5 Miata

Luxury Sports CarsChevrolet Corvette

 Compact Crossover/SUVs Honda CR-V

Midsize Crossover/SUVsToyota Venza

Full SizeSUVs Toyota Sequoia

Luxury Compact Crossover/SUVsInfiniti EX

Luxury Midsize Crossover/SUVs Lexus RX 350

Luxury Full Size SUVs Toyota Land Cruiser

Hybrid SUVs Lexus RX Hybrid

Off-Road SUVs Toyota FJ Cruiser

MinivansHonda Odyssey

WagonsVolkswagen Jetta SportWagen

Compact Pickup Trucks Toyota Tacoma

Full Size Pickup TrucksFord F-150



Sunday, December 6th, 2009

The results are not surprising…Green-Cars-Dollar-Sign-275x_large

Over a 5 year period Toyota is the brand with the highest resale value, with its vehicles maintaining an average of 38.8 percent of their original price. That is down a little from 42.7 percent last year, a drop Kelley Blue Book attributes to overcrowding in the small car market.

Toyota’s Lexus had the highest projected resale value among luxury brands, at 39.3 percent. Honda, BMW, Subaru and Acura also were high scorers. Jeep was the only domestic brand in the top ten.

Kelley said the industry average was 32.6 percent. That was down from prior years as the weak economy caused car prices to depreciate more rapidly. Kelley calculates resale value based on market conditions, competition in each segment and expectations about the economy.


Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009
It doesn’t take long to learn when and how to use your truck’s 4WD system.four-wheel-drive-intro Follow these steps and you’ll feel confident about engaging the system the next time you need to get out of a slippery situation. For a conventional system, where you can select 2WD or 4WD, the instructions refer to engaging 4WD. For trucks with permanent 4WD, they refer to locking the center differential.
Time Required: varies
Here’s How:
  1. Refer to your owner’s manual to find out how to engage your truck’s 4WD mechanism. 
  2. When driving in snow, mud, or just going off road, shift into 4WD when you get ready to leave solid ground. If you have lockable front hubs, lock them for those operations. 
  3. For severe conditions, use low range if available. Before shifting into low range you must either stop or slow down to at least 3 mph to prevent grinding gears. 
  4. When you return to normal conditions, shift out of 4WD or unlock the center differential. If the shifter doesn’t want to move from 4WD or the differential lock stays engaged, don’t panic, becaue the problem is normal and is caused by pressure on the gears. 
    • Try backing in a straight line about 10 feet and try to move the shifter again. 
    • If the shifter still won’t move, try backing in an “S” pattern while trying to move the shifter.


  5. If you have lockable hubs, don’t forget to unlock them when you return to dry pavement.
  1. Vehicles with permanent 4WD are set up for everyday driving, but not necessarily for maximum traction on slick surfaces. Engaging the differential lock increases the vehicle’s traction capabilities. 
  2. Do not operate a locked 4WD on dry, hard surfaces. Doing that could cause damage to the driveshafts, differentials or transfer case.
What You Need:
  • Owner’s Manual