Category: Maintenance

By on June 4, 2017

oil change, Image: Yonkers Honda

Robots may be able to assemble your car, but they aren’t going to be servicing it anytime soon. Automation has made many industrial occupations irrelevant over the last few decades. Machines have even begun entering the fast-food industry and proven themselves adept line cooks. So then why aren’t they changing your oil?

The technology is available but implementing it is too damned expensive and slow. No machine yet qualifies as a “full-service” device, so centers would have to purchase multiple rigs and keep someone on staff to operate them — not exactly cost-effective. However, as those machines come down in price and gain in number, we’ll begin seeing them put into use more and more. Eventually, you’ll be returning to the servicing department to complain about a robot ruining your car instead of an inexperienced mechanic. But when? Read More >

By on April 4, 2017

Auto Repair

According to the American Automobile Association, one third of drivers in the U.S. cannot pay for an unforeseen vehicle repair without going into debt.

AAA says the average trip to the shop will set you back between $500 and $600. So, what does that mean for the 64 million American drivers who can’t afford an unexpected repair bill? Read More >

By on December 22, 2016

2016 Cadillac CT6

Owning a range-topping Cadillac is supposed to be a trouble-free affair, and — barring gremlins — it still can be, so long as your sharp-edged, oddly light CT6 remains unbent and unbroken.

Cadillac’s liberal use of high-strength aluminum in the sedan’s body structure won accolades when the CT6 debuted for the 2016 model year. Body stiffness, curb weight, and fuel economy all benefit from this mingling of metals. However, trouble arises when those carefully bonded metals come apart.

As it turns out, fixing a damaged CT6 could prove difficult for many of the model’s 7,876-plus owners. Read More >

By on December 13, 2016

Iowa (Don Graham/Flickr)

If it wasn’t for the blissful autonomy and convenience that comes with car ownership, how many people would want to shoulder the ever-growing cost? Insurers lie in wait to squeeze you, law enforcement waits to punish you, environmental groups demonize your lifestyle, and governments at all levels salivate at the thought of making it more expensive to own a personal vehicle.

Meanwhile, you dance to the tune set by oil companies and geopolitics, weathering financial blows when pump prices rise. If only there was a place where those worries fell away — where the act of owning and driving a car wasn’t as stressful.

As it turns out, this place exists. And it’s just west of the Mississippi. Read More >

By on October 24, 2016

Ford F-450 exhaust (Facebook)

If the dome light in Shelley Shields’ Ford F-450 Super Duty stopped working, she could easily have read a book by the hellish glow emanating from underneath her pickup.

The Cochrane, Alberta driver returned the 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel-powered vehicle shortly after purchase after noticing flames shooting from the tailpipe and the exhaust glowing like a certain part of Amsterdam, Truck Trend reports. Read More >

By on July 20, 2016

flat tire (Michael Kappel/Flickr)

More Americans enjoyed a vacation on the side of the road last year than ever before, according to the American Automobile Association.

Vehicle breakdowns reached a new high in 2015, with 32 million calls logged to AAA from drivers in distress. Of the most common problems, vehicles less than five years old make up a large part of the tally. So, what’s the deal? Are vehicles going backwards in quality? Read More >

By on May 7, 2014

celica

I grew up not knowing the difference between a V6 and a V8.

Cars were a mystery to me. Motor oil could have been the same thing as cooking oil right up until my 16th birthday.

Then I caught the bug. We all get it. A nasty incurable fever known as, “First-car-itis”.

I wanted a car in the worst possible way. I knew that if I just grabbed my hands on every magazine, book and repair manual I could find, that first car would become mine for a long, long time.

I didn’t expect a steep learning curve.

Read More >

By on June 6, 2013

Picture courtesy motorstown.com

A free-maintenance program introduced earlier this year to get its full-size pickups moving was expanded across the entire 2014 line.  For most 2014 vehicles, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC dealers will complete an oil and filter change, four-wheel tire rotation, and conduct a 27-point vehicle inspection based on what’s called for in the vehicle’s maintenance plan.

According to GM CEO Dan Akerson, this plan sells more cars: Read More >

By on July 21, 2012

Just Imagine What I Can Do To Your Car!

Everybody wants a deal. But precious few people are willing to change their habits to make their deal last longer.

Read More >

By on October 6, 2011

Three years ago I suggested that Detroit win back car buyers by doing something no one seemed to be doing: provide customer care deserving of the name. In a similar vein, Steve Lang recently asked readers whether manufacturers or the government should do more when a model commonly suffers from an expensive problem. Well, according to an article in Automotive News this week GM has strongly encouraged its dealers to pick up the tab on more out-of-warranty repairs to reward and create loyalty.

According to the article, the bottleneck hasn’t been GM—the customer care money has been there, but dealers have been too tight with it because of fears that GM would punish them if they spent it. Why did dealers have these fears in the first place? The article doesn’t say. The important thing isn’t how these fears came to exist, but that they’re currently unwarranted. One dealer calls the new “open pocketbook” approach to keeping customers happy a “seismic shift.” Problem solved?

Read More >

By on August 18, 2011


The Detroit News’s David Shepardson reports that GM has requested the dismissal of a lawsuit alleging rear-suspension problems on 2007-8 model-year Impalas, on the grounds that

“New GM did not assume liability for old GM’s design choices, conduct or alleged breaches of liability under the warranty, and its terms expressly preclude money damages,” the response says.

The suit “is trying to saddle new GM with the alleged liability and conduct of old GM.”

Read More >

By on August 16, 2011

For some time now, there’s been something of a low-scale war going on between OEMs and aftermarket parts suppliers just below the national media radar. The issue: whether or not aftermarket structural parts are as good as OEM parts. Ford has been a major proponent of the OEM-only approach, making the video you see above in hopes of proving that aftermarket parts aren’t up to the job. But the aftermarket is firing back, and they’ve made their own video in direct response to this one, which you can view after the jump.
Read More >

By on June 29, 2011

How user-serviceable should a car be? Should special tools be required to perform basic tasks? If the car in question is a sporty car, should there be less effort on the manufacturer’s part to ensure serviceability (because it’s a “toy” and more likely to be owned by people with multiple cars) or more (because sporty cars tend to have longer in-service lifetimes and have a more self-service-oriented owner base)?

After performing most of the 30,000-miles service on my 2004 Boxster S “Anniversary Edition”, I believe I’ve become a little more passionate about my answers to the above questions.

Read More >

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