NADA Wants to Stop Catalytic Converter Theft

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and a dozen related trade groups are petitioning Congress to crack down on stolen catalytic converters. The emission control devices are loaded up with valuable metals and are relatively easy to steal if you’re slim enough to get beneath a parked car and happen to have a reciprocating saw handy — making them prime targets for cash strapped criminals, especially now that material prices are on the rise.

Cities across the country have reported an increase in catalytic converter theft this year. While a majority of police departments are estimating a year-over-year increase of under 40 percent, some have said their figures are substantially larger. In March, Las Vegas Police Department estimated there were 87 percent more vehicles with hacked apart exhaust pipes in 2022. Philadelphia was even higher, reporting a staggering 172 percent increase in dismantled exhaust systems.

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Toyota Pauses Production at 9 Plants Following Weekend Earthquake

Japan was struck by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake over the weekend. The Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures were hit the hardest, offering a physical reminder of the 9.0 magnitude quake that devastated the region in 2011. Scientists have claimed that Saturday’s tremor was actually an aftershock from the horror show that occurred a decade earlier.

While still a large systemic event, authorities aren’t reporting widespread injuries or even damages. However, many citizens were left without power and numerous industrial facilities were idled for inspection. This includes automakers, with Toyota making an announcement that it will be stalling nine factories for several days this week. Though only some of that time is needed for safety assessments. The automaker is fretting over a batch of suppliers that were impacted by the quake and is anticipating a parts shortage.

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Supplier Layoffs Planned at Schaeffler, Continental as Economy Dies

Germany’s Schaeffler AG will reportedly be eliminating 4,400 jobs and abandoning several facilities in its home country as the supplier confronts what it dubbed complications relating to the global pandemic. Like Continental, which is actually controlled by the same people, Schaeffler has been coping with lessened demand after automakers around the globe shut down earlier this year as a precautionary measure. While the coronavirus lockdowns can’t be faulted for every issue the companies are facing, they have been a thorn in the side of parts suppliers everywhere.

Continental announced it would need to eliminate roughly 13 percent of its workforce last week. That’s roughly 30,000 fewer jobs. Schaeffler’s restructuring plan only calls for eliminating 4,000 positions. However, it is the smaller of the two and has decided to spread its cuts out as much as possible.

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Mustang Owners Sue Ford Over Transmission Troubles

Ford has weathered heavy criticism for moving bunk transmissions for some time. Normally, that conversation revolves around the PowerShift DSP6 (aka Getrag 6DCT250) installed in passenger cars with names beginning with the letter “F.”

The unit turned out to have a laundry list of problems and ultimately created a ruckus between management, engineers, and Ford’s legal team. Concerned that scrapping the dual-clutch automatic at the last minute would prove a costly decision in the midst of our last economic recession, the manufacturer ran with it — only to be confronted with annoyed consumers who felt the transmission wasn’t anywhere near up to par.

While the DSP6 is the unit that gets top billing for What Were They Thinking: The Movie, it wasn’t the only transmission prompting headaches in Dearborn. Another Getrag-sourced unit, the MT82 six-speed manual, is allegedly a sore sport for Mustang drivers. Owners of 2011-2019 model year Ford Mustangs are now suing the manufacturer for delivering what they claim is another faulty product.

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Start Me Up: As Industry Slides Into Gear, U.S. Requests Industrial Assistance From Mexico

Mexico is considering reopening factories after May 18th, now that automakers and the U.S. government have requested it resume production at plants serving the American market. With supply chains needing time to catch up, vehicle assembly will be precarious until parts can be reliably sourced. And Mexico is an essential part of that industrial recovery plan, necessitating some light coordination with the United States.

Despite seeing a spike in new COVID infections, Mexico released a plan to ease restrictions on Wednesday. Making sure U.S. manufacturers have what they need has been incorporated into that strategy, with a few conditions. While industrial employees will soon head back to work, Mexico made no assurances that it will prioritize supplying the rest of North America with automobiles or their components.

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Coronavirus Delays Beijing Auto Show, Chinese Grand Prix, Formula E

Thanks to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China, the Beijing auto show has reportedly been postponed. While the event was supposed to take place at the end of April, making its yearly trade with the similarly biannual Shanghai trade show, organizers have decided it’s not worth the risk.

Over 70,000 people have reportedly contracted the virus thus far, with the death toll estimated to be somewhere around 1,700. The White House recently said it did not have “high confidence in the information coming out of China,” estimating higher figures. Travel and shipping bans further complicate the matter. Germany’s Automobilwoche said exhibitors wouldn’t be able to ship displays into the country anyway, referencing health notices sent to global logistics organization CIETC.

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Coronavirus Infects Chinese Auto Market, Supply Chain Problems Persist

Not that there’s ever a good time for a global pandemic threat, but the coronavirus currently sweeping through Asia really could have scheduled itself more conveniently. China was already in the midst of an economic downturn when the virus reared its ugly head, with the country’s automotive sector having just moved backward for the second year in a row. The outbreak, centered in the Hubei province’s capital of Wuhan, is guaranteed to worsen the issue.

Responsible for about a tenth of China’s automotive manufacturing power, the region has basically gone dark since the outbreak picked up steam late last month. Over 50 million people are now presumed to be under house arrest due to the Chinese quarantine. Forbidden from going outside, they’re hardly likely to risk infection and government ire just to put for a few hours at their local factory. They also aren’t going to run out to their nearest dealership to support the ailing economy — but that’d be the first place to go after the sequestration ends.

If I were in their shoes, I certainly wouldn’t be taking the bus for a while.

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ZF to Supply FCA With Glut of Hybrid-ready Transmissions

ZF Friedrichshafen has agreed to supply Fiat Chrysler with its second-largest order to date. While top honors belong to BMW, FCA will be using the same eight-speed automatic transmissions sourced for the Bavarian-based applications. “Optimized for electrification” as per ZF’s press announcement, the gearboxes are designed for longitudinally mounted engines ⁠— including those utilizing hybrid systems.

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Is the Aluminum F-Series Still 'Built Ford Tough?'

Listen, we’re not going to pretend that Ford’s F-Series is bulletproof. There have been enough recalls of the twelfth-generation’s transmission for us to immediately be accused of being the biggest and fattest of lairs were we to make that claim. However, as America’s best-selling model and an exceptionally popular fleet vehicle, it’s in the company’s best interest to make sure the F-150 is not a turd.

Ford took a risk when it went with an aluminum body for the current-gen model, inviting claims from rival manufacturers that it was no longer a serious contender in the pickup market, as real trucks have steel beds. While Chevrolet’s advertorial “ testing procedures” often fell outside the boundaries of what a rational truck owner would do, Ford’s rival was attempting to creating a narrative where saying something was “built Ford tough” could be a considered an insult.

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Ford Suspending F-Series Production After Supplier Fire, Other Automakers Affected

As we told you yesterday, Ford announced it will temporarily halt production of the F-150 and Super Duty after a fire at Meridian Magnesium Products of America knocked out a key supplier. While the Blue Oval isn’t the only automaker affected by the supply shortage, as General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz also report the likelihood of production interruptions, Ford has the most to lose.

Taking the company’s most profitable vehicle out of the mix for a few weeks is a big deal. During a bad month, Ford might sell around 50,000 F-Series trucks in the United States. But a good month can see around 90,000 deliveries, so an unplanned idle probably has the automaker tugging at its collar a little. Fortunately, Ford currently has a 84-day supply of F-series pickups. That doesn’t mean it won’t feel the pinch if the wait on parts takes longer than expected.

The factory shutdown affects F-150 production at the Ford Kansas City Assembly Plant, which Ford said will last until at least May 14th. Super Duty lines at Kentucky Truck and Ohio Assembly have also shut down. Ford’s Dearborn Plant is expected to go down temporarily in the near future.

So, how far have the ripples spread?

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Is Mitsubishi Finally Poised for a Comeback?

While Mitsubishi Motors isn’t in the same dire straits it once was, the brand has only recently stopped hemorrhaging sales after doing so for over a decade. After losing half of its annual volume between 2002 and 2004, Mitsubishi trudged further into delivery darkness during the recession — finally dragging itself back into the light after SUV sales improved. Unfortunately, its image has not been so quick to recover and volume has a long way to go before anyone at the company will be celebrating.

However, the brand has a lot of closeted fans over the age of 30 in the United States. There was a time when Mitsubishi offered affordable transportation that you could happily live with and a handful of fun models for those interested in hooliganism. People who remember driving those vehicles don’t see Mitsubishi as a lost cause, but as a formerly important automaker that has seriously lost its way.

Fortunately, the brand now has the means to find itself. With help from the Renault-Nissan Alliance and its own parent company, Mitsubishi Motors may even be poised for a comeback. Last year the company sold 103,686 vehicles inside the United States, a feat which hadn’t been replicated since 2007 when the brand was still losing sales like they were socks in a dryer.

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Dealerships to Receive $335 Million In Payments Over Supplier Price-fixing Scheme

Roughly 8,000 U.S. dealers will share in a $335 million payday resulting from a colossal 2010 antitrust investigation. The issue? Suppliers were involved in a widespread price-fixing scheme that lasted decades, and nobody noticed until the FBI raided the offices of Yazaki North America Inc., Denso International America Inc. and Tokai Rika Group North America.

In the end, 65 individuals and 47 companies were charged by the Justice Department — resulting in over $2.9 billion in fines and jail time for a swath of fresh white-collar criminals.

However, none of that money made it to manufacturers, dealers, parts retailers, or consumers. Those players had to resort to filing civil suits in federal court against the companies. In 2012, the multitude of claims were consolidated and transferred to Judge Marianne Battani and the U.S. District Court in Detroit. Over $1 billion has been set aside for affected parties, with around $335 million of the sum going to dealerships.

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Piston Slap: A Supercharged Way to Cheap NOS Parts?

Keith writes:

Hi, I’ve recently acquired a 2003 Jaguar S-Type R. Sort of rare. It’s the supercharged V8 model. The car is in good condition, but has 140,000 miles and needs some TLC, to say the least. I’m having trouble finding parts. Salvage yards tell me they have parts, only the donor cars are standard S-Types. I’ve been on Jag forums and found help with engine, supercharger, and mechanical parts.

I need the lower (under engine, trans) body panels from the front valance back through the trans including inner fender wells and spoiler. The correct parts have cooling channels for brakes and trans. Jag dealers want small fortune. I’m trying to get salvaged parts. I even bought all new aftermarket pieces from eBay UK. Struggled installing them, five hours on my lift, altering parts to fit. So, obviously not correct, as a “Jag expert” assured me. During my first test trip I saw my new panels in my rear-view, bouncing off the highway into a million pieces.

So, I’m looking for some direction in finding R Model parts. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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How a Single O-Ring Almost Ended a Race Weekend

Our race weekend at New Jersey Motorsports park was months in the making and the MX-5 Cup car known as Marylin finally felt solid. We arrived late, so the plan was to pull the car off the trailer, complete an ABS calibration, and then head back to the hotel to get a little rest before the afternoon qualifying session.

The MX-5 had other plans and started steaming from the back of the cylinder head after the ABS test.

The qualifying session was just a few hours away and the leak appeared to be coming from an unreachable spot between the cowl and transmission bellhousing. Online diagrams showed an O-ring at the joint that was leaking but the closest Mazda dealership had none in stock. If we were home in North Carolina, the move would be to go to the sole local mom-and-pop store and raid their case full of various o-rings until we found the right one, but a quick Google search showed that all we had around us were national parts chains.

These stores had no such case and their computer system showed no rear water outlet o-ring for the MX-5. Time was running out. We had to qualify. We put the car back together and sent it out on track. When it came back, the bit of steam had turned into a waterfall coming down over the bellhousing and our race weekend looked like it had come to an end.

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Honda, Toyota and BMW Caught Up in U.S. Patent Violation Probe

The United States will look into components employed by some Japanese and German automakers to see if any vehicle models sold in the country violate patent laws. Probes will be conducted into 25 automakers and parts suppliers by the U.S. International Trade Commission, including Honda, Toyota, and BMW, as well as popular Japanese parts suppliers Aisin and Denso.

Intellectual Ventures II filed a complaint in March alleging thermoplastic parts used in motors, power steering units, water pumps, and other drivetrain components were being implemented in vehicles without its knowledge. It believes the companies are infringing on its patent rights and have reached out to the Trade Commission to conduct an investigation.

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  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.
  • MaintenanceCosts Chevy used to sell almost this exact color on the Sonic, Bolt, and Camaro, as "Shock." And I have a story about that.I bought my Bolt in 2019. Unsurprisingly the best deal came from the highest-volume Bolt dealer in my very EV-friendly area. They had huge inventory; I bought right when Chevy started offering major incentives, and the car had been priced too high to sell well until that point.Half the inventory had a nice mix of trims and colors, and I was able to find the exact dark-gray-on-white Premier I wanted. But the real mystery was the other half of the inventory. It was something like 40 cars, all Shock on black, split between LT and Premier. You could get an additional $2000 or so off the already low selling price if you bought one of them. (Neither my wife nor I thought the deal worth it.) The cars were real and in the flesh; a couple were out front, but behind the showroom, there was an entire row of them.When I took delivery, I asked the salesman how on earth they had ended up with so many. He told me in a low voice that a previous sales manager had screwed up order forms for a huge batch of cars that were supposed to be white, and that no one noticed until a couple transporters loaded with chartreuse Bolts actually showed up at the dealer. Long story short, there was no way to change the order. They eventually sold all the cars and you still see them more often than you'd expect in the area.
  • EAM3 Learned to drive in my parents' 1981 Maxima. Lovely car that seemed to do everything right. I can still hear the "Please turn off the lights" voice in my head since everyone wanted a demo of the newfangled talking car. A friend of the family had a manual transmission one and that thing was fun!
  • FreedMike That wagon is yummy.
  • Syke Thanks, somehow I missed that.