Kiplinger says that in the near future, if you’re driving down a rural or less-traveled road, you might find yourself driving on gravel. Road asphalt has doubled in price over the past three years and shows no signs of coming back down, so some states–Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Vermont, and Pennsylvania to begin with–are looking for ways to cut corners. Gravel costs $20 a ton compared to asphalt’s current $400/ton price.
Wisconsin’s lemon law for cars is pretty strict. If a customer demands a refund on a newly bought car that won’t run and can’t be repaired, the manufacturer has to comply within 30 days or pay double the purchase price plus legal fees. Marco Marquez has been fighting Mercedes-Benz for 4 years now over a $56,000 E 320 he bought in 2005 that immediately stopped working. He says the company deliberately stalled on giving him the refund in time, and last week a judge awarded him $482,000.
Last week, Mercedes showed a bunch of journalists some new safety features it’s working on to prevent deaths in the event of a car crash, and BNET describes them. I hope you like air bags going off all around you–the demo even has air bags for the car. Sadly, the people-scooper feature–something about when you hit a pedestrian, the car “scoops” the body onto the hood and keeps the person there, probably so that his screaming can alert you that you’ve been in an accident–will only be available in Europe.
If you’ve been having flashbacks to the fall of 2007 while watching the Olympics on NBC this week, you might want to blame Chevy, who decided to dust off their love-it-or-hate-it “Our Country” ad campaign for the winter games in Vancouver.
The Providence Journal of Rhode Island filmed a service director at a Toyota dealership fixing an accelerator pedal. If you own one of the recalled models, Consumer Reports’ Cars blog recommends that you learn the warning signs of pedal trouble and get to a dealership as soon as possible if you notice any of them.
A week after issuing a recall on over 2 million vehicles due to faulty acceleration pedals, Toyota has announced it will stop selling 8 popular models in the U.S., as well as shut down 6 U.S. factories, while it deals with the problem. The faulty pedals were made by a U.S. manufacturer but have also been installed in cars sold in Europe, although Toyota hasn’t said what it plans to do outside the U.S. for now. Update: SafetyResearch.net says Toyota was required by law to stop selling the models after it announced the recall last week, so it’s actually kind of strange that it waited five days.
Finally, the truth is revealed: this is clearly where the bailout money went. Below, watch a Chevy Volt
promotion song-and-dance-spectacular performed earlier this month at the LA Auto Show.
One of Toyota’s execs said today that the company isn’t covering up information about its suddenly accelerating cars, but the Department of Transportation doesn’t seem to agree.
The Washington Post notes that although Saturn dealerships have until this time next year to close, many will be saying goodbye sooner due to low inventory, and that’s partly why now is a good time to buy a Saturn. That is, if you don’t plan on reselling it in a couple of years.
Saturn will not have a new life as part of Penske, the company that, among other things, distributes Smart cars in the U.S. Talks between Penske and GM fell apart today, and so did any chance for a deal.
Are you planning on buying tires soon? According to this report from TireBusiness.com, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is planning on raising its prices for passenger and light truck tires by “up to 12 percent,” in response to an increase on tarrifs from China. They wouldn’t provide a hard date for the price increase, but said “soon.”
When Patrick Dunn’s auto dealership in New Jersey went out of business a few months ago, something weird happened to “40 or 50” customers who had bought cars from him, writes Bob Braun at NJ.com. The company Dunn had taken out business loans with, Automotive Finance Corporation (AFC), went to Arkansas and asked for reposession of the cars in New Jersey. The Arkansas department of motor vehicles assumed AFC meant for unsold cars on the lot, so they granted the request—and now AFC says it owns titles to cars that people are already driving and paying for.
Edmunds.com, the car info website, is asking people who participated in the short-lived Cash for Clunkers program to contact them if something went wrong. Although they can’t fix any problems, they’re trying to collect data on consumers who are being asked to pay back the government rebate after already being approved, which was forbidden under the rules of the program, so they can present the data to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Well, isn’t this a coincidence? Yesterday, we posted a story about the experience that Jen and her friend had with their Zipcar rental car with a faulty electrical system, which broke down three times and nearly left them stranded on the mean streets of Hartford, Conn. (Really. They’re pretty mean.) A few hours later, we heard from Matt, who apparently had a similar experience four days later. With the same exact car.
New safety innovations for automobiles can be impressive. Side-curtain airbags are a great development for protecting people in a side-impact crash, and are standard on many models, including the Chevrolet Impala. Unless you’re driving an Impala in the Enterprise Rent-A-Car fleet, in which case the airbags were never installed in order to save Enterprise $175 per car. This wasn’t really a problem until Enterprise went to sell their used Impalas, and sort of forgot to tell people that the airbags had been removed.
We were poking around the NYT archives when we stumbled across this gem, car maintenance budgeting advice for people interested in owning a car … in 1907. Some of the advice remains the same. Other parts, like how much to pay your driver and how much to budget for repainting the car once a year — not so much.