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2011 AVALON, EVERY OTHER CAR A DIMINISHING RETURN

Monday, August 9th, 2010
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2011 Toyota Avalon…It’s Roomy and Comfortable, Effortless to drive and Luxurious with a number of significant updates.Avalon-4-10

The Avalon succeeds at transporting people in complete comfort and surrounding them with a host of luxury trappings. In short, it’s the modern reincarnation of the classic American sedan.

The 2011 Avalon is offered in base and Limited trim levels. Here is a test on  a Limited model with an as-tested price of $37,884.

The Styling is long and low, and the Avalon stretches to 197.6 inches overall, making it about 8 inches longer than a Toyota Camry. For 2011, the Avalon receives some subtle styling changes to its front and rear. The headlights, grille and front bumper are new, but because the overall look closely resembles the prior version, the changes could easily go unnoticed. The same goes for the rear, which has new but familiar-looking LED taillights and a license plate holder that’s been moved from the bumper to the restyled trunklid. A significant Lexus-like side chrome detail along each side below the doors adds a needed touch of class.

Comfort reigns supreme in the Avalon, and this has some pretty positive aspects. On the plus side, the sedan’s soft suspension tuning provides excellent ride quality. The Avalon floats smoothly down the road, the cabin undisturbed by rougher stretches of pavement. It’s one of those things that give the Avalon a sense of luxury beyond its price. A quick dip in the road makes the nose bob up and down briefly, but the motion is quickly controlled. Larger bumps, however, depending on how they are hit, can be felt.

The steering is another area where the Avalon upholds its comfort mantra. The wheel turns easily with a light touch; it feels like it’s attached to a giant ball bearing that’s been lathered in WD-40. Despite the light effort at lower speeds, which makes maneuvering a parking garage a cinch, there isn’t any unwanted twitchiness on the highway, just confident and predictable transitions when changing lanes.

“Effortless” is the best word to describe the Avalon’s drivetrain. Like the 2010 model, the 2011 Avalon is powered by a 268 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine that drives the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The car pulls strongly away from stoplights, and the V-6 still has plenty of energy on the highway for a quick pass. Floor the gas pedal around 70 mph, and the transmission quickly kicks down, engine rpm jumps and the hood noticeably rises as the Avalon squats down and surges forward. This engine’s high-speed power is truly impressive, and not all that common among mainstream full-size sedans. All disc antilock brakes are standard on the Avalon.

You might think this kind of performance would make your local gas station owner rich, but the Avalon gets surprisingly good mileage for its size. Its EPA-estimated 20/29 mpg city/highway rating beats the most efficient versions of large front-wheel-drive sedans like the 2011 Ford Taurus (18/28 mpg), 2011 Hyundai Azera (20/28) and 2011 Chevrolet Impala (19/29). The Avalon’s V-6 takes regular gas. Higher gas mileage performance is achievable and many owners report highway mileage in the low 30’s per gallon and city performance in the mid 20’s..

The new Avalon’s cabin interior is a noteworthy aesthetic improvement over the prior model’s interior and gives the Avalon a luxury-car feel.

The 2011 Avalon’s dashboard, center control panel and center console are new, and unlike the prior model all the areas feature premium materials, with the dash and many of the door panels finished in a nicely grained, low-gloss surface that looks great. Gone is the blue-screened display that used to sit to the right of the instruments, as well as the many silver-colored doors covering things like the stereo and cupholders. Instead, the car’s console has covers finished in nicer-looking simulated wood and gray-silver trim.  The seating feels thicker than recent previous models. Overall, the interior is nice enough that no one would question it if there were a Lexus L badge on the steering wheel instead of the Toyota T — certainly in the Limited.

If you haven’t experienced the backseat of an Avalon, I guarantee you’ll be impressed by the amount of room the car offers. There’s an enormous amount of space for passengers to stretch out, including loads of legroom for taller folks. Even with the front seats in their rearmost position, there’s still decent legroom in back. To top it off, the Avalon has standard reclining rear backrests — an uncommon feature in a non-luxury sedan. Their overall comfort is enough to make you toss the keys to your spouse, slide into the backseat and say “Wake me when we’re there” — as long as you aren’t worried about the repercussions of such a move.

The Avalon’s trunk measures 14.4 cubic feet,  less than some of its main competitors offer but plenty ample. (The Impala’s trunk is 18.6 cubic feet, the Azera’s 16.6 and the Taurus’ a sizable 20.1.)

The cargo area is deep but not particularly tall, and there’s a full-size spare tire on an alloy wheel underneath the cargo floor.  A locking pass-through between the outboard rear seats is standard.

The 2011 Avalon received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick designation, which is given to models that offer a stability system and achieve Good overall ratings in the agency’s frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests, its roof-strength test and its whiplash-injury test.

Standard safety features include a stability system, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags for both rows, active front head restaints and a knee airbag for the driver.

You can look at the Avalon in one of two ways: Either it’s a non-luxury car with a luxury-car price tag, or a luxury car without the luxury badge. Regardless of where you come down on that debate, one thing is clear: There are few cars in the Avalon’s price range that provide more passenger room and comfort.

If you do decide to hold the Avalon up against a similarly priced luxury car, like the Lexus ES 350, it fares pretty well. The Avalon gives you more room, better gas mileage and just as much luxury. We believe the Avalon is a luxury car for those who don’t care about luxury badges.

In short, You can spend $25,000 more on some cars and throw your money away. Anything in addition to the Avalon’s capabilities are diminishing returns…

SCION XD LOOKING FOR ACTION AND ATTENTION

Friday, August 6th, 2010
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The Scion xD is a quick, thrifty, nimble, small hatchback made by Toyota. It has more horsepower than its major competitors, and for 2010, it’s a Consumer Reports recommended car with a very strong reliability record.Scionxd

The five-door, five-passenger xD is ready and looking for some action… and its’ share of attention in the world of small hatchbacks. Sales are down 25.5 percent through the first seven months of 2010, and the xD is the slowest-selling of all non-luxury Toyota cars.

Part of the reason may be that with Scion, Toyota’s youth-oriented car brand, most of the attention goes to the boxy-styled Scion xB with all it’s aftermarket accessories and the sporty-looking Scion coupe, the tC. Another contributing factor could be that the Scion xD is built with the same high quality standards of luxury Toyota cars and therefore, is not the cheapest little guy on the block.

The front-wheel drive, 2010 xD has a starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $15,620 with manual transmission and 128-horsepower, 1.8-liter four cylinder. With automatic transmission, the lowest-priced 2010 xD starts at $16,420, and a recent test model with stylish alloy wheels, rear spoiler, upgraded audio and other options topped out at nearly $20,000.

The 2010 Nissan Versa, another small, four-cylinder-powered hatchback, has a starting retail price of $14,140 with manual transmission and 122 horsepower. And the 2010 Toyota Yaris hatchback, whose platform is used under the xD, starts at $13,665. The Yaris, however, gets just 103 horses from its four-cylinder engine and is a bit smaller than the xD. Even the 117-horseower, 2010 Honda Fit, whose starting retail price of $15,650 is on par with the xD, is outselling the xD by 5-to-1 this calendar year.

It’s true the xD has the lowest starting retail price of all the Scions for 2010. But the difference between the base xD and the base MSRP, including destination charge, of the larger xB is less than $1,000.

Still, the xD is a capable little car with some nifty features. The back seat slides forward and aft to help accommodate the needs of passengers and cargo. This is something not always found in this segment. Rear seatbacks also recline, Quality. The xD’s seat fabric looks pricier than buyers might expect in the segment,,,Quality again. The split, folding rear seats go down for a flat cargo space that maximizes at a decent 35.7 cubic feet.

Fuel economy in the recent test base xD with manual transmission was noteworthy at a combined 30 miles per gallon in city and highway driving. The federal government rated the test car at 27 mpg in city driving and 33 mpg on the highway, so getting 300 miles on an 11.1-gallon thankful of regular gasoline is eminently doable.

At just over 2,600 pounds and shorter in overall length than the Versa hatchback and the Honda Fit, the xD feels spunky in city driving. The gearshifter is tight. Torque peaks at 125 foot-pounds at 4,400 rpm. This compares with 127 foot-pounds of torque at 4,800 rpm from the 2010 Nissan Versa’s 1.8-liter four cylinder.

The little xD gets around without a hiccup, and parking is a breeze in almost any parking spot. Yes, the xD can be an excellent, no-fuss urban car that Scion envisioned.

The upgraded Alpine stereo put out strong, clear tunes, even if the 4.3-inch color touch panel seemed small. The Alpine system includes HD Radio technology and Alpine’s MX technology that enhances the compressed audio sound of digital music.

This is the first year that electronic stability control is standard on the xD. Other standard safety items include curtain air bags, anti-whiplash front-seat head restraints and antilock brakes with Brake Assist.

The xD earned four out of five stars for driver and front-passenger protection in frontal crash testing by the federal government. Side crash test results were better _ five out of five stars for passenger protection.

Introduced in 2007 as the replacement for the often overlooked Scion xA, the xD is still searching for an identity. Perhaps a more agressive marketing campaign is called for to make buyers more aware of the outstanding little Toyota that could…

MORE TOWING TERMS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Saturday, July 17th, 2010
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If you own a Tundra, Tacoma, Fj Cruiser, 4Runner, or other make here is another brief tutorial of Towing Terms you will want to know.

Ball height – Measurements from the ground to the center of the hitch ball on the tow vehicle and to the center of the hitch-ball coupling on the trailer when the tongue is level with the ground.

Ball mount – Part of the receiver hitch system that supports the hitch ball.

Brake controller – Electronic device that applies power to the trailer’s electric brakes in proportion to the tow vehicle’s deceleration.

Breakaway switch – Safety device that automatically activates the trailer brakes should the trailer become disconnected from the tow vehicle.

Bunk trailer – Type of boat trailer that uses flat rails to support the boat.

Fifth-wheel hitch – Trailer coupling device mounted over the rear axle in the cargo bed. It’s so named because of the wheel-shaped hitch plate.

Gooseneck – Type of trailer with a long pivoted coupling arm that is attached to a large ball mount in the pickup bed. Gooseneck trailers usually can make tighter turns than a fifth-wheel trailer.

GCWR – Stands for Gross Combined Weight Rating. This is the manufacturer’s maximum allowable total weight of a towing vehicle plus a loaded trailer. The actual gross combined weight of a fully loaded towing vehicle and gross trailer weight must not exceed the GCWR.

Hitch ball – The sphere-shaped attachment point between the coupler on the trailer and the hitch.

Hydraulic surge brake – Type of brake used on boat trailers. It features a self-contained hydraulic system and lever-action coupler that activates the brakes when the tow vehicle decelerates.
 
Receiver hitch – Hitch design where a receiver subframe is attached to the vehicle frame. The hitch features a square opening that “receives” and secures the ball mount.

Roller trailer – Type of boat trailer that uses self-centering roller assemblies to support the boat.

Safety chains – Set of heavy-duty chains designed to help keep the trailer close to the tow vehicle if there is a hitch failure.

Shank – The removable portion of the hitch system that supports the hitch ball or adjustable ball mount. Also called hitch bar, drawbar, insert or stinger.

Spring bar – Critical part of the weight-distributing hitch system. When adjusted properly, spring bars act like handles of a wheelbarrow and transfer hitch weight to the vehicle and trailer axles.

Sway control – There are two types: mechanical and electronic. Mechanical includes friction or cam-action devices designed for the trailer to dampen yaw or fishtailing. The electronic version is a program in the vehicle’s stability control system that detects trailer yaw and applies pressure on selective brakes to help reduce the trailer sway.

Tongue weight – Weight of the trailer that rests directly on the hitch ball. May also be called hitch weight. Recommended tongue weight is about 10% of the trailer weight for conventional hitches and up to 25% of the trailer weight for fifth-wheel and gooseneck hitches.
 
Tow rating – Vehicle manufacturer’s maximum allowable trailer weight.

Weight carrying hitch – Type of hitch system where the entire tongue weight of the trailer is supported by the hitch ball and transferred to the rear axle of the tow vehicle.

Weight distributing hitch – Type of hitch system that uses spring bars to spread a portion of the trailer tongue weight to all the axles of the tow vehicle and trailer.

ALABAMA ENGINEER TACKLES PRIUS BRAKE ISSUES AND DISCOVERS POTHOLES

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
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It Looks like a network engineer in Huntsville, Alabama who owns two Prius Hybrid Cars has by-passed all the emotional media hype and applied an engineering scientific method approach to solving the Prius Braking Issues.

On Christmas Eve 2009, a new PriusChat community user on Yahoo pointed to the article “NHTSA Tracking Braking Loss on Prius Hybrids,” which first raised the issue of a problem with the Prius braking system. It stated there were at least “33 complaints” out of 100,000 new model, 2010 Prius cars. Owners were wondering what was going on.

The reaction within the Prius community ranged from “What brake problem?” to “It’s a scary safety issue.” So taking the classic engineering approach, this engineer along with associates set out to gather more data, starting with a survey of Prius owners to find out the extent to which they had experienced the problem. The survey revealed that owners of both the 2009 and 2010 models had experienced intermittent braking problems:prius survey chart

PRIUS SURVEY CHART

Continuing the investigation, questions were asked about details and conditions under which Prius owners had experienced a braking problem. Soon, there were dozens of photos that clearly implicated potholes. The photo montage also revealed the truly awful state of roads across North America.

 Pothole1A

pothole2 PICTURES

Through the results, four common elements were discovered of every situation in which a braking problem occurred: a road imperfection or significant bump; (2) winter or wet conditions; (3) slow speed, and; (4) gentle or moderate braking. Most of the reports were from Northern latitudes (where winter brings a bumper crop of potholes), which also might explain why a resident of Northern Alabama, had not experienced the braking problem…

The PriusChat community proposed that the combined elements of slow speed and gentle braking pointed to a transition between regenerative and mechanical braking. The Prius uses the electric motor as a generator when stopping to charge the traction battery. As the car slows down the brake computer has to transition seamlessly to mechanical braking. Reviewing the brake section of “2010 Toyota Repair Manual, Volume 2” (RM1291U2), references pointed to a “30 km/h (19 mph) to 0 km/h” (pp BC-85, BC-87) critical speed range. Unfortunately, feedback from the users was qualitative and lacked precise engineering units, which was the precise data we needed for our investigation.

Realizing some true field testing was needed, the engineering team ordered two Gulf Coast Data Concepts‘ accelerometers (one for an owner in Michigan who frequently experienced the problem) and the other for local testing on a Prius in Alabama.

The first morning of testing with the accelerometer in Alabama was perfect–wet and drizzly. Approaching two rows of speed bumps at a badge check gate at a work facility, it happened: The car ‘slipped’ just after the first speed bump. Knowing 19 mph was a critical speed, the Prius was slowed to just under 20 mph before hitting the first bump. As shown in the chart below, the accelerometer captured a momentary ‘slip and slide’ sensation at that instant.

Clearly the braking force, Ax, went to zero after the speed bump. The integrated velocity curve, V, shows an 800 milliseconds flat line before the braking force resumed. We finally had the brake anomaly, a pause, documented with engineering units.  Meanwhile, about this time Toyota had a new release of the brake control software added to the Prius production line and announced a recall program, SSC-A0B. Regardless, we could use this protocol to validate the fix.

Ten days later after the fix and under similar conditions the accelerometer showed the problem gone:

prius graph2

The key steps in our investigation were to:

  • Solicit user reports looking for patterns – intermittent problems often seem to hover around a few and are missed by many. We needed to capture as many descriptions with as much detail as possible to find a way to reproduce the problem at will.
  • Understand the systems – we found boundary conditions in the braking system. Knowing 19 mph was a threshold speed, we focused our efforts in this range.
  • Convert intermittent to reproducible problem – as soon as the problem is reproducible at will, experiments can map the boundary conditions.
  • Quantify the problem – add instrumentation to convert imprecise text into engineering units
  • Validate the fix – using the problem protocol, test to validate the fix.

Toyota’s fix, SSC-A0B, solves the vast majority of these intermittent, slow-speed, momentary, brake pauses. But often one intermittent problem can mask a less frequent problem. After eliminating incompletely applied patches, there remain scattered reports of another braking anomaly, and investigations continue.

Robert J Wilson is a network engineer in Huntsville, AL.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

DISTRACTIONS WHILE DRIVING CAUSE ACCIDENTS AND INJURY

Sunday, July 11th, 2010
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Being distracted while driving is extremely dangerous and can cause acccidents, personal injury and property damage.distracted driving

Drivers who use hand-held devices such as I-phones or I-pods are four times as likely to get into crashes that result in injuries both to themselves and others. What about the hands-free set-ups? Well, even multi-tasking with them while driving could cause a serious mishap.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation there are three main types of distractions:

  • Visual- taking your eyes of the road
  • Manual- taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive- taking your mind off what you are doing

Distracted driving isn’t just about phone calls or texting. There are other activities that take your attention away from traffic leading to accidents. Here are some examples:

  • Adjusting a navigation system
  • Eating
  • Grooming
  • Reading
  • Retrieving a dropped item

Nearly half the U.S. States have restrictions against activities that cause driving distractions. Some states ban phone use in construction zones and school zones. Others place restrictions on novice drivers and operators of commercial vehicles including large trucks and school buses. You can research the laws in your state by visiting www.distraction.gov.

So, the next time you reach for the phone or i-pod while driving, answer this question: Is This Call Or Song Important Enough To Risk Hurting Someone, Or Can It Wait?…

TOWING AND PAYLOAD TERMS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Friday, July 9th, 2010
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If you are one who usues your truck or SUV for both work and pleasure you certainly may want to know your vehicle’s Payload and Towing capacities. Payload and Towing concepts are important concepts for truck and recreational users. If you own a Tundra, Tacoma, Fj Cruiser, 4Runner, or other make here is a brief tutorial of Payload and Towing Terms you will want to know.
 
CURB WEIGHT
– Weight of empty truck
 – Standard equipment includes tools, spare tire
 – Full of fuel, fluids and lubricants
 
 PAYLOAD
– People
– Optional equipment
– Cargo
– Tongue weight (if towing) 10-15% total weight, trailer, cargo being towed
 
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT(GVW)
– Curb weight
– Payload
– Tongue weight(if towing)
 
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING(GVWR)
– Maximum GVW allowed
– Set by manufacturer
– Must be equal to or higher than the GVW
– Do Not Exceed GVWR
 
TOWING WEIGHT
– Weight of trailer
– weight of all trailer content
 
MAXIMUM TOWING CAPACITY
– Set by manufacturer
– Maximum weight of traileer and contents
– Towing weight must be less than or equal
   to towing capacity
 
TONGUE WEIGHT
– Weight pressing down on trailer hitch
– 10 to 15% of towing weight
– Hitches:
– Weight carrying
– Weight distributing
– 5th wheel (20-25% of trailer weight)
( To measure trailer tongue weight, place the tongue
of the trailer on a scale when the trailer is not attached to the vehicle)
 
GROSS COMBINED WEIGHT(GCW)
– Curb weight
– Payload (with tongue weight added)
– Trailer (minus tongue weight)
– GCW Not To Exceed (GCWR)
 
GROSS COMBINED WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)
– Set by manufacturer
– Maximum GCW

Toyota Camry In-Dash Navigation Unit Repair Source

Sunday, June 27th, 2010
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This is an article of interest about a young lady who bought a 2007 Toyota Camry with Gen 5 in-dash navigation 3 years ago from the Toyota Dealership and experienced trouble with the navigation unit as soon as the warranty expired.toyota nav dash

She was excited about adding the In-Dash Gen 5  navigation package which included an upgraded stereo, satellite radio, and GPS touchscreen navigation. This Navigation upgrade  by Denso is very nice and added $2,000 to the price of the vehicle at the time. The touchscreen for this unit works great and the built-in navigation is extremely convenient to always have in the car (versus putting up and taking down a hand-held GPS each time you get into the car).

Unfortunately a few months after the 3 year warranty expired on the car, the touchscreen display went out. All the functionality appeared to work, but the display was so dim that you could only tell it was on by shining a flashlight at it. So to the dealer it went for a repair estimate. The Toyota dealer after assessing the unit announced that it could not be repaired and should be replaced. Cost to replace a radio unit that cost $2,000 3 years ago…..$3,000 dollars. So apparently in 3 years, the price of this technology went up 50%. The dealer was supposed to charge labor for looking at it but the Dealer rep was so shocked himself by the price that he waived the fee. Good Customer Relations move by the dealer.

It was hard to  stomach this recommendation since it seemed that everything worked on the device except for the display. Pity to toss all those fancy electronics because of a failing LCD screen. After copious searching on the internet for others with similar problems who might have suggestions for repair, a recommendation from a forum suggested a company out of California that repairs these units.

The company is Hi-Tech Electronic Services out of Van Nuys, CA. Through E-mail contact with the company they said that they could fix it and would give a free official estimate once they received the unit (though a rough estimate was given via e-mail). After removing the radio (one of the easiest cars for removing a radio), and $30 of UPS shipping later they had it at their shop.

They examined the unit, repaired the 3 parts that had gone bad, and shipped it back all within a week for $585 total including return shipping. So a new replacement unit is $3,000 from Toyota, repair of existing unit, $585…  A much, much better deal. They only offer a 90 day warranty on their repairs, but that is to be expected with electronic repairs in general. Overall a wonderful experience is reported. The unit was reinstalled into the car and it has been working great ever since.

You may want to check into this company Hi-Tech Electronic Services if you experience any kind of in-dash navigation unit trouble that requires repair.

TOYOTA STAR SAFETY SYSTEM, WHAT IS IT?

Friday, June 18th, 2010
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You may have seen the Toyota TV Spots proudly touting the merits of the Toyota Star Safety System standard on all Toyota vehicles. But what is the Star Safety System exactly?

Toyota’s Star Safety System is a combination of five different carefully engineered features that keep the driver in control of the vehicle and out of trouble.

Here’s a brief description of each of the five engineered safety technologies of The Star Safety System and how they go into action for the driver.

VEHICLE STABILITY CONTROL (VSC)

VSC helps prevent wheelslip and loss of traction by reducing engine power and applying brake force to the wheels that need it. (Figure 1) Rear wheelslip can occur when the rear wheels lose traction and cause the vehicle to slide around.(Figure 2) Front wheelslip can occur when the front wheels lose traction during cornering and begin to drift toward the outside of the turn. Toyota’s VSC monitors your steering angle and the direction your vehicle is actually traveling and senses when your front or rear wheels begin to slip. When it senses this loss of traction or slip, VSC reduces engine power and applies braking to the individual wheels that need it to help correct the slip and keep the vehicle in the intended path.vsc

TRACTION CONTROL (TRAC)

Traction Control helps maintain traction on wet, icy, loose or uneven surfaces by applying brake force to the spinning wheel(s). Let’s say you’re driving and come upon a snowy or icy patch on an uneven road. (Figure 2) If your vehicle gets stuck in the snow, wheelspin occurs, and you come to a stop. (Figure 1) Toyota’s Traction Control sensors are activated when one of the wheels starts to slip. TRAC limits engine output and applies the brakes to the spinning wheel. This transfers power to the wheels that still have traction to help you go safely on your way.traction-control

ANTI-LOCK BRAKES (ABS)

ABS helps prevent brakes from locking up by “pulsing” brake pressure to each wheel to help you stay in control in emergency braking situations. When something unexpected appears in your path, you may instinctively swerve to avoid it and jam on the brakes. However, without ABS, the brakes can lock up, the vehicle starts to skid, and you struggle to stay in control. Toyota’s ABS sensors detect which wheels are locking up and prevent the lockup by “pulsing” the brakes at each wheel independently. Pulsing releases brake pressure repeatedly for fractions of a second — a reaction time not possible for humans.This means the wheels never stop rotating and that helps the car to avoid going into a skid, helping you stay in control. ABS
 
BRAKE ASSIST
 
1. Inexperienced or panicking driver applies brakes quickly but without enough pressure. 2. Driver sometimes eases up on the brake pedal too soon. 3. The Brake Assist system increases braking force, even when the brake pedal isn’t pushed hard enough. 4. When the driver intentionally eases up on the brake pedal, the Brake Assist system reduces the amount of assistance applied. Note: To activate the Brake Assist system, keep pressing the brake pedal. When braking assistance is no longer required, ease up on the brake pedal.brake assist
  
ELECTRONIC BRAKE-FORCE DISTRIBUTION (EBD) 

Toyota’s ABS technology has Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) to help keep the vehicle more stable and balanced when braking. If you have to stop abruptly, momentum causes the vehicle to tilt forward and reduces the brake force of the rear tires. But in a Toyota, EBD responds to sudden stops by redistributing brake force. Wheels with more braking effectiveness receive more brake force; wheels with less effectiveness receive less brake force. This helps prevent brake lockup. EBD is especially helpful when carrying cargo. Sensors recognize the extra load the cargo puts on the rear axle, so brake pressure on the rear wheels is increased because the extra weight improves braking effectiveness. ebd

How Many Priuses Would Offset the Gulf Oil Spill?

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
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So how much oil is escaping each day from the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico? According to estimates late last week, that could be One Million Gallons a day. That’s a lot of Oil, Brother…priuses

Whats an altruistic way to maybe compensate for the problem?  How about, how many  Toyota Prius Hybrids would need to be sold in order to offset the oil loss?

  • Looks like there would have to be almost 1 million Priuses sold globally to conserve enough gasoline to offset the amount wasted as the escaping oil pours into the oceans and damages our beautiful beaches.

Here’s what the Math is based on to calculate what it would take to compensate just for the lost gasoline related to the daily oil loss.

  • Anonymous oil-industry experts suggest one gallon of unrefined light crude, the kind the Deepwater Horizon produced, provides half a gallon of gasoline, or perhaps a little more.
  • So that’s 500,000 gallons a day we need to save.
  • If the average U.S. car drives 10,000 miles a year at 25 miles per gallon (to make the math easy), then the 50-MPG  Prius saves 200 gallons of gasoline per year. Or 0.55 gallons per day.
  • So you’d have to sell 912,500 Priuses, each of them saving a little over half a gallon of gasoline a day, to offset the loss of half a million gallons every day.

But Toyota doesn’t make anything close to that number of Prius Cars right now. In fact, in 2009, the Company sold 139,682 Priuses in the United States, out of a total of approximately195,000. 

Until the end of this year, the total annual  production is capped at 500,000 by constraints in the supply of nickel-metal-hydride battery packs used by the cars to store energy.

This is too bad. After all,…  we wouldn’t want Obama’s enemy from a few months back to be the source that saves his new found enemy today, now would we?

Used Car:Toyota Corolla With 603,500 Miles In Five Years! Yours Could Too!

Monday, June 14th, 2010
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If you are looking for a used car or used cars for sale instead of a new car, look no further for an example than this Toyota Corolla!

2005-toyota-corolla-s-pic-63146

A Florida Man’s common commuter car, common that is if you discount the fact that his Toyota Corolla S has racked up 603,500 miles in the past five years commuting about 230 miles each work day to and from his job, is certainly noteworthy…The truth though, is that most Toyotas new cars or used cars for sale are capable of very high mileage and low maintenance.

In a year when Toyota has gotten some bad press for brake and throttle problems and subsequent recalls, the fact that Toyota Connections magazine is doing an article on this gentleman’s Corolla and his marathon commute for a September issue is “great” according to its daily driver. He intends to hang on to it, for a number of reasons.

“It’s so dependable, and quite honestly, I will probably go and hang on to it,,, I want to break a million on it, or pass it down to the children.” said Mr. Ose, an aircraft certification inspector at Gulfstream Aerospace.

The world record for high mileage on a car has been handed to retired New York teacher Irv Gordon’s 1966 Volvo P1800 Coupe, with 2.5 million miles on its original engine.

So Mr. Ose’s Toyota Corolla isn’t fancy. The compact 4-door has a 130-hp four-banger, cost about $14,000 when new, and can manage 30 mpg or more.

Mr. Ose said he bought it while living in Jacksonville, because he needed something cheap and thrifty for those daily commutes to Savannah. He endured the commute for his youngest daughter, Zoe, who has cystic fibrosis and needed to be near a care center at Nemours Children’s Clinic in San Marco.

He works at Gulfstream Aerospace because no job locally has the pay and medical benefits his seniority brings him there. His only concession – moving about a year ago to St. Marys, 45 minutes closer to work, to save some gas and shorten a commute that still starts at 2 or 3 a.m.

So far the Corolla has only needed some rear axle work and “a lot of tire maintenance,” and doesn’t burn any oil.

“Inside’s great. The outside looks great, but it’s a bit scraped from highway miles,” he said. 

Mr. Ose says high mileage runs in the family… He has a minivan with 145,000 miles on it.

CHECKING OUT THE TUNDRA 4.6 LITER V8 ENGINE PERFORMANCE

Saturday, June 12th, 2010
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Truck Market Studies Confirm That Customers Like Mid-Level V8 Engines.tundra 4.6 engine

Why Are Customers drawn to mid-level engines?

  • Because They Want V8 engine performance but don’t need brute power for heavy workloads
  • They Prefer A lower price and lower operating costs with better fuel economy

The Tundra’s 4.6-liter V8 has advanced engineering features that give it more horsepower and better fuel economy than competitors mid displacement V8 engines.

Check Out The New 4.6-liter V8 available in Tundra for 2010

  • 4.6 motor with 310 horsepower with 327 lb-ft peak torque
  • That’s 15 more horsepower than the 4.8-liter V8 in 2010 Chevy and GMC trucks
  • 18 more horsepower than 2010 Ford 4.6-liter 3-valve V8
  • The Tundra’s V8 pumps out more torque than Ford and GM
  • The Tundra is equal in horsepower to the bigger 4.7-liter V8 in the 2010 Ram 1500
  • More power improves towing performance and drivability

The Tundra 4.6L i-Force V8 is one of the most technologically advanced truck engines

  • The All aluminum construction is lighter and dissipates heat faster
  • There are 4-valves per cylinder that  flow air more efficiently than the competition’s 2- and 3-valve designs
  • Dual overhead cams (DOHC) a Toyota trademark allows the engine to run at lower revolutions/minute and lower temperatures than the competition’s single overhead cam (SOHC) or cam-in-block pushrod designs
  • Dual Independent Valve Timing with intelligence (Dual Independent VVT-i) provides more precise and flexible cam adjustments than the competition’s single-timing design

So What Can You Say To Your Neighbor Or Work Buddies About The Tundra 4.6-liter V8 ?

  • It’s mated to a new 6-speed automatic transmission; Ford offers 6-speed but Dodge has 5-speed and GM provides just a 4-speed with similar-sized V8s
  • The EPA estimated fuel economy1 of 15 mpg city and 20 mpg highway (2010 4×2 models)is state of the art; Ford is equal but GM and Dodge are lower
  • Tundra has ease of maintenance: Toyota engine coolant designed to last 100,000 miles, Toyota spark plugs designed to last 120,000 miles, and Toyota World Standard automatic transmission fluid designed to last 100,000 miles under normal operating condition

TOYOTA NAVIGATION GENERATION 6 SCREEN DISPLAY TUTORIAL

Friday, June 11th, 2010
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A neighbor who recently bought a new 2011 Sienna Van with Generation 6 Navigation expressed frustration a few days ago that she couldn’t continually display a single screen, in her case the audio screen, for more than 20 seconds without it flipping over to the set-up screen. She was beginning to long for the past with her tomtom navigation.toyota nav

This issue will come up many times for owners with navigation. Here is how to fix it:

  • Press the Info Button
  • On the Info Screen, press Screen Settings
  • On the Screen Settings display click Automatic Screen Change “OFF”

This will stop screen changes every 20 seconds on the display.

These Toyota Models Have The New Generation 6 Navigation:

2011 Camry, Generation 6 Navigation

2010Tundra Limited and Platinum grades, Generation 6 Navigation

2010 Venza, Generation 6 Navigation

2010 Prius, Generation 6 Navigation

2010 4Runner, Generation 6 Navigation

2011 Sienna, Generation 6 Navigation 

2011 Avalon, Generation 6 Navigation

TAKE A PLANT TOUR OF TOYOTA GEORGETOWN KENTUCKY

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
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Toyota’s largest vehicle manufacturing plant outside of Japan is located in Georgetown, Kentucky, the state’s Bluegrass Region. Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK), covers 7.5 million square feet of floor space, the equivalent of 156 football fields…don’t worry about your legs getting tired on the plant tour though, because you’ll be riding comfortably in one of their trams.toyota assembly

TMMK employs about 7,000 team members who build nearly 2,000 quality vehicles each day. A “takt time” of 55 seconds on both of the vehicle assembly lines means that two new Toyota vehicles are built in Georgetown every 55 seconds!

TMMK began production in 1988 with the popular Toyota Camry sedan. The Avalon sedan was added in 1994, while the Sienna minivan was produced from 1997 to 2002.

As you tour TMMK, your guide points out the foundations of the world-renowned Toyota Production System. These will include examples of kaizen, or continuous improvement; just-in-time parts delivery; and the andon system, where team members can stop the line at any time to address quality concerns or any problems.

In the TMMK Visitor Center, you will see current models of the vehicles and engines built in Georgetown, plus the very first Camry produced by team members in May 1988. The Visitor Center also includes interactive video displays and exhibits on Quality, Teamwork, the Toyota Production System, and hybrid technology.

What is the Cost?  Its  Free
Freebies:
Toyota vehicle (in the form of a refrigerator magnet!).
Video Shown: 10-minute video provides a brief plant overview, including sections not included on the tour.
Reservations Needed: Yes, but walk-ins will be accommodated as space permits. Phone Numbers:

 (502) 868-3027   (800) 866-4485
Days and Hours:
Plant tour: Mon–Fri 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 2:00 pm, Thur also 6:00 pm. Closed holidays.
Visitor Center: Mon–Fri 9:00 am–4:00 pm, Thur until 7:00 pm. Toyota reserves the right to cancel or reschedule tours at any time.
Plan to Stay: 1.5–2 hours for plant tour, video, and exhibits.
Minimum Age: Plant tour: 1st grade for public tours and 4th grade for school tours. Visitor Center: no minimum age.
Disabled Access: Yes
Group Requirements: Maximum group size is 64 adults. Large groups must call several months in advance.
Special Information: Photographs and video and mechanical recordings are allowed in the Visitor Center but not during the plant tour.
Gift Shop: Sells logoed golf shirts, T-shirts, caps, etc. Open same hours as Visitor Center.
Directions: From Lexington, take I-75 North to Exit 126 (Georgetown/Cynthiana). Turn right onto U.S. 62 (Cherry Blossom Way). Drive exactly 2.5 miles and turn left at Visitor Entrance sign.
Nearby Attractions: Three Chimneys horse farm, Rebecca-Ruth Candies, Buffalo Trace Distillery, and Old Kentucky Candies tours (see pages 252, 251, 240–241, and 250); Kentucky Horse Park; Keeneland Racecourse; Calumet horse farm; Georgetown College.

TOYOTA BLUETOOTH PHONE SET-UP STEP BY STEP

Saturday, June 5th, 2010
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STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR PAIRING A BLUETOOTH-ENABLED CELL PHONE

A Cell Phone Must Be Paired With The Hands-Free System Before It Can Be Used With The System. Pairing Is The process Of Linking A Bluetooth-Enabled Cell Phone To The Car's Hands-Free System. This Is A Step By Step Set Of Instructions And Guide.
The System Says Or Does...You Say Or Do...
Begin, Push Off-Hook Or Talk On The Steering Wheel
"Welcome to Hands-Free Phone System..."

A Brief System Intro Monologue Followed By Pairing Process Start
"Pair, Push The Talk Button And Say A Name For The Phone"You Push Talk And Say A Name For The Phone, like: "Jim's Phone"
The System Responds By Playing Back The Phone Name You Just Spoke
"Ready For Phone Pairing. Please Use The Phone To Connect It To The Hands-Free System. The Passkey For The Phone Is(Number)" Enter The Passkey Into The Phone Using The Phone Keypad.

Passkey Is a Four Digit Number. The System Will Speak It And Show It In Message Display, Each Phone May Transmit It Differently, Consult Phone Manual
"The Phone Is Paired And Ready For Use. Returning To The Main Menu."
"Main Menu. Available Commands Are..."Push Talk And Say "Cancel" To Exit The System, Or Push On-Hook.

BUYING A CAR? HOW TO TALK TO THE CAR DEALER

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010
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Do you hate the thought of shopping for a new car? Afraid you’ll say the wrong thing to a car dealer that will give him the upper hand in the price battle? Chances are , you will. It doesn’t have to be that way though…confused car buyer

For starters, the wide access of the Internet allows car shoppers to go into battle armed with more information today than ever before. It’s quite easy to get basic information from sites like kbb.com that includes MSRP, features, options and reviews on any car you might have your eye on before you visit a car dealer.

Here are some things candidly from car dealers that suggest What To Say and What Not To Say once you’re on a car dealer’s turf.

  • Don’t start talking about monthly payments. Focus on negotiating the purchase price. Everything gets confusing when talking monthly payments because suddenly you don’t know if that’s the payment for 24 months, or 36 months, or how much of that would include interest charges if you’re financing. Dealers want to try to get you to negotiate monthly payments instead of purchase price because they make more money financing the car.
  • It’s OK to mention that you might want to trade your car in, because you don’t want to get caught telling them something that isn’t true. You may just tell the sales rep, ‘We’ll talk about that later, let’s just focus on the price of the new car for now. Hammering to get the most money for your trade in may not save you money in the end though because once they’ve loaded up in your car, it may be pretty hard to get them to lower a sale price on the new car.

These days, with CarMax and DriversWay being almost everywhere, a consumer might want to consider not trading their car in at all, and just selling it to one of those large dealers. You will almost always get a better price for it if you sell it than what a dealer will give you in trade-in value.

  • There’s nothing wrong with telling the car dealer that you’re definitely looking to a buy a car in the next few days. Look, dealers are trying to make a living and if they think you’re just out kicking tires and are six months away from making a purchase, they might think you’re wasting their time, so you won’t get as much attention from them.
  • Do your homework, find out what incentives are out there, and use a payment calculator you can find online so you’re educated on how much car you can get into for the price you want to pay.
  • Get preapproved for a car loan before you hit the showroom marathon. That way, if you’re pre approved to get your financing elsewhere, dealers will not have leverage to hit you with a high interest rate. That’s what a lot of dealers will try to do without even knowing what your credit rating is.
  • If you’re lucky enough to have plenty of loose coin lying around and want to pay cash for your car, you may not want to announce it right up front. Dealers anticipate making money on the back end with financing. If they know you’re paying cash, the dealer knows he has no opportunity to make money off you from financing. So, he might not be negotiable on purchase price since he isn’t going to make any money off you from financing. This also holds true if you’ve been preapproved for financing. It may be best not to reveal your hand on the outset that you don’t plan to use dealer financing before you negotiate the vehicle price.  After negotiating the purchase price, you can always say, “I changed my mind”.
  • It’s OK to say you’ve been to other dealers, because cross-shopping between two dealers is always a good idea. From the dealer standpoint, customer service is what separates one dealership from another dealer who sells the same brand. Some customers are willing to pay more money if they were treated right during the purchase process, because that’s a pretty good indicator that you’ll also be treated right later on, when you come back to have your car serviced or repaired.