Consumer News


Buggy Mini

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New cars aren’t necessarily problem-free cars. The 2015 Mini Cooper S press car I’ve got this week has developed some hiccups. Not “it’s broke, let’s fix it” hardware issues. Intermittent software weirdness. Last night, the wife and I went to do some shopping and on the way home, stopped at Starbucks for coffee. We got back in…

Working on Cars – Tips That Might Help

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Experience is a great teacher. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years working on cars that may help you avoid hassles when working on your car: * Remove the fill plug before you remove the drain plug – This applies mostly to manual transmissions and rear axles, which typically have a drain plug…

Making The Best Of “Climate Change”

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The globe refuses to warm. What happened, Al? The opposite is happening. The globe is cooling. Brutally so. Here in the “South” – where it’s supposed to be warm – it has been getting colder and colder with each passing year. Fall has transitioned from balmy to brutal. Two weeks shy of Thanksgiving and it’s going…

Things Cars Ought to Have… But Don’t

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I’ve ranted about stuff new cars come with that seem over-the-top, unnecessary – stupid, even. The obnoxious back-up buzzer in the Toyota Prius hybrid, for instance. Headlights that stay on all the time, even in bright July daylight  – and which you can’t turn off. But how about stuff cars ought to have – or…

Long Lived Car

long lived four

There are two pretty simple things almost anyone can do – no tools required! – to keep almost any vehicle running reliably for many years after the warranty expires. Don’t abuse it. And: Use it. Easy – right? Surely. Yet, many people inadvertently fail to practice one – or both. In part, because many people…

Event Horizon

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Here’s perhaps the single most important thing to know about any modern car (computer-controlled and fuel-injected; so mid ’80s and newer) no matter the make or the model: It will probably last a long time (15-20 years) before it needs major repairs. Far longer than pre-modern cars lasted before they needed work. But when major repairs do become…

Oversold New Car Features

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There isn’t a new car on the market that hasn’t already got all the basics covered. And then some. It’s hard to find a new car – any new car – that isn’t at least air conditioned. That doesn’t have – at least – a four-speaker stereo with a CD player, power windows and locks…

That “Car” Fax Thing

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You’ve probably heard about Carfax (and similar services, including AutoCheck and EpicVIN) that offer “vehicle history reports” which search state motor vehicle and insurance records using the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) sussing out potentially radioactive problems such as major accident damage that may not have been disclosed by the seller. These services typically charge…

What Does Your Car’s Warranty Actually “Cover”?

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Most new vehicles come with several warranties. The one most people think of first is the new car “bumper to bumper” (or “basic”) warranty. It covers just about everything except routine maintenance items such as oil and filter changes, brake pads, etc. Routine maintenance is on you. And more important to know, if you fail to…

New Car “Buyers” . . .

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Who can afford to spend $30,000 – the average purchase price paid as of 2013 – on a new car? The answer is … very few. Most new car “buyers” are in fact debtors. They sign loan documents and make monthly payments. Typically, for five years, the length of the average new car loan. Some extend…