Four wheel drive, all wheel drive, 4WD, AWD, full-time, part-time, 4Hi, 4Lo, 4×4. There are many names and just as many ways of motivating every wheel a vehicle has on the ground. What’s the difference between four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive? In one word: Marketing. Want to know more? Click past the jump as we dive in the most controversial topic since “Dodge vs Chevy.”
I’ve loved high-turnover self-service wrecking yards since I used to hang out at U-Pull Auto Wrecking in Oakland as a teenager in the early 1980s, and so it makes sense that junkyard-related stuff became so central to the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™. During the last year, as my Junkyard Find series has evolved into a near-daily thing, I became increasingly curious about the life-cycle of the vehicles in these yards. A new row of fresh cars appears one day, replacing one that was put out a few months before, and that’s all I knew. Then, earlier this year, I was able to convince the brass at U-Pull-&-Pay Self Serve Used Auto Parts to give me a behind-the-scenes look at their operation, and I chose to follow the trajectories of two cars I thought would be typical junkyard inmates: a 1991 Honda Civic Si and a 1994 Toyota Camry XLE. I visited the auction at which they were purchased, I documented the pre-yard preparations, and I visited both cars every week for their three-month stint as parts donors. After that, I watched them get fed into the cold steel jaws of The Crusher. Here’s how our Civic and Camry spent the final months of their lives. Read More >
You can rigorously apply the tests described by previous installments of this series without encountering a single setback. However when it comes to buying a used car, it pays to assume one simple salient fact: you don’t know the complete truth.
At least not yet.
Some automakers have cars that get a stupendous mileage, but they are priced or built so that nobody wants them. We won’t name names, draw your own conclusions. A much better metric than the mileage of a car is the mileage of all cars you sell. The combined mileage of all cars sold by a manufacturer or brand used to be a top secret document. Manufacturers with stellar averages sometimes leaked theirs. But what good are these statistics if manufacturers with mediocre averages hide their data? Thankfully, last year TrueCar started tracking the MPG averages of cars sold in the U.S. And it is coming to surprising results. Read More >
Of all the cars at the ‘Shine Country Classic, none inspired more speculation than the ’75 LTD of the Tunachuckers and ’79 W116 of NSF Racing. So many questions! Would either car be ready for the green flag on Saturday morning? Which one would be quicker around a road course? Could an ungodly complicated Teutonic flagship even make one lap on a race track after 32 years and a 99.97% value depreciation? Could Grandma’s long-abandoned big Ford roar into life and survive on the race track with little more than a cage installation and a hasty tune-up? Each team had joined the elite of LeMons veterans, with one Index of Effluency win apiece, so expectations
of horrible failure were high. Read More >
World Full Year 2012: Discover the Top 1000 (yes. One Thousand.) best-selling models!
For the first time in the history of the internet and cars, you have access to the 1000 best-selling cars around the globe. So enjoy!
Mexico Full Year 2013: The only country where Nissan is #1
There is a new #1 in the models ranking in Mexico this year, and surprisingly it’s not a Nissan…
What model has been #1 in Germany for 37 of the last 38 years? Click on the title above to find out…
“If you’re going to do something wrong, do it big” (Jayne Mansfield)
Can you blame me for thinking of a certain larger than life blond bombshell of the era while looking at this big topless Buick? But then I said to myself, no, it’s wrong; been there, done that. But googling to find the vital statistics of this Buick turned up the fact that Jayne Mansfield was killed in an Electra in 1967. Holy coincidence! Or did I subconsciously remember that? Whatever. So despite the risks, I’m forging ahead, hopefully for the best, because frankly it might be a stretch to write much about this overstuffed Buick. Like Jayne, it was meant to be looked at, not analyzed. Read More >
You wake despite the hope that you would never awake, in fear that the wildest night of your life with Corvair was all just a dream…ooops; never mind. But if a car ever inspired one to emote and wax poetically, it was the Corvair, especially the 1965. So I’ll try hard to restrain myself: the 1965 Corvair was the best European car ever ever made in America. And if that alone doesn’t explain the Corvair’s inevitable failure, lets just say that in 1965 Americans were eating a lot more Wonder Bread than baguettes.
Welcome to Havana, Oregon. Back in the eighties, living in tony Los Gatos, I used to gaze longingly at photos of old American cars and trucks still hard at work in Cuba. But within days of moving to Eugene in 1993, I came across this very truck, hauling its daily cargo of recycled cardboard. And it planted a seed in me, to document the old vehicles still earning their keep, which finally came to fruition with Curbside Classics. Although we’ve strayed from the strict interpretation of that mission a few times along the way, no other vehicle more perfectly embodies the original ethos than this 1956 F-350. Read More >
[Note: Three related Checker posts: 1967 Marathon Curbside Classic; Vintage Checker Ads; and Tomorrow's Checker? Also note that these pictures were found at a variety of sites, but it appears that the original source for most of them were posted on this Flickr account by Drivermatic. Thanks for the superb photographic resource!]
For sixty years, Checker Motors had a record unbroken run of profits building a few thousand cars per year in a small little factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 1981, it posted its first loss, $488,326, and its owner made good on his threat to stop production of the iconic Marathon if his workers didn’t accept wage concessions. But Checker continued to stamp out body parts for GM into 2009, including for the Buick LaCrosse. The Carpacolypse of 2009 finally shuttered the ancient plant, but no need to shed a tear for the original owner’s son, David Markin: his wealth is estimated at over $100 million. And it was all due to a shrewd investment of $15,000 that his father made in 1920, which put him in the driver’s seat of Checker Motors. Let’s take a ride through Checker’s history. Taxi! Read More >
[Note: This piece first ran in May 2007. It seems particularly relevant again in light of the current Toyota unintended acceleration (UA) situation. But please note that the circumstance that caused the Audi UA may, or may not be very different, depending on the circumstances. In the early eighties, electronic gas pedals and complex engine controls and other interfaces such as with ABS/brakes were still on the horizon. Nevertheless, the rules of physics have not been repealed. And an unknown percentage of Toyota UA events undoubtedly are the result of pedal misapplication. Audi's near collapse in the American market after this incident remains a painful lesson in the power of the media, the slowness of the NHTSA, and the critical PR choices manufacturers make in the wake of a crisis like this. PN]
When I first heard about the Audi “sudden unintended acceleration” segment on CBS’s 60 Minutes in 1986, I knew instantly that they were blowing smoke. Literally. Read More >
Here’s TTAC’s and the web’s only complete guide to Toyota’s gas pedals (so far), with tear downs, pictures, analysis, explanation, the shim fix, and commentary, all consolidated into one portal:
Part 1: Exclusive: TTAC Takes Apart Both Toyota Gas Pedals: Tear down of both the recalled CTS pedal assembly and the non-recalled Denso pedal assembly. Note: Assumptions and conclusions in this initial tear down lack the more complete understanding of the importance of the friction arm aspect of the CTS unit.
Part 2: Toyota Gas Pedal Fix Explained – With Exclusive Photos: Describes Toyota’s proposed fix for the recalled CTS gas pedal assembly, with detailed photos and graphics. Explains the significance of the friction arm assembly and its limitations.
Part 3: Toyota Gas Pedal Fix Simulated – Friction Reduced, By Too Much?: TTAC simulates the fix prescribed by Toyota for the recalled CTS pedal assembly, and notes how the fix changes the degree of friction, and the possible unintended result. With detailed pictures
Part 4: Why Toyota Must Replace Flawed CTS Gas Pedal With Superior Denso Pedal: Detailed analysis with pictures of the two pedal assemblies, an explanation as to why the Denso design is superior, and a call for having all CTS pedals replaced with the Denso pedal.
Part 5: TTAC Does The Toyota Pedal Shim Fix: Stop Gap Solution At Best: Toyota’s solution is carried out here with detailed pictures, the whole Toyota document detailing the fix, and our commentary.
Part 6: Toyota Floor Mat/Gas pedal Recall Includes Computer Reflash And Trimming Of Gas Pedals: Info on the details of the floor mat/gas pedal interference recall.
Part 7: Toyota Recall Creates Unintended Accelerator Consequences: As predicted in Part 4 (above), the CTS shim fix reduces the carefully designed amount of friction required for comfortable and smooth pedal action to the point where pedal action may now be jerky and potentially unsafe.
(Thanks to you-know-who-you-are for access to these parts and info)
At the Wednesday press conference in Tokyo, Toyota slipped in the remark that they “will more actively use on-board event data recorders, which can, in the event of a malfunction, provide information necessary for conducting such activities as technological investigations and repairs.”
This remark was widely overlooked. It should not have been.
Five days before, the Wall Street Journal had written:
“The safety problems that have engulfed Toyota Motor Corp. are focusing renewed attention on one of the most controversial components in an automobile: the black box. The box, officially called an “event data recorder,” is a small, square, virtually indestructible container akin to those found on commercial airplanes. Tucked inside the dash or under the front seats of most newer vehicles, it records vehicle and engine speeds as well as brake, accelerator and throttle positions and other data that can help determine the causes of accidents.”
If there would have been such a black box in the Toyotas that had crashed, it would have been easy to read out whether the foot was on the gas or on the brake. Guess what: Toyota has this box. It had been in many of the crashed vehicles, says the Wall Street Journal: Read More >
And the hits, they keep on coming. Now, brakes of the Prius flake out.
Japan’s transport ministry has received 14 complaints about problems with brakes on Toyota’s latest. The ministry has asked Toyota to investigate the complaints, says the Nikkei [sub.] “Those are purely reported cases, so we still need to investigate to find out where problems really exist,” said a ministry spokesman, who said that the number of complaint over such a short time-span “more than usual.” There is more in the U.S.A. Read More >