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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Car News: First photos of 2014 50th Anniversary Mustang

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Ford Motor Co. unveiled the sixth generation of its Mustang on Wednesday night, nearly 50 years after the original debuted at the New York World’s Fair.
The automaker released photos of the 2015 Mustang and planned to show it off in a global reveal at events in Los Angeles; New York; Dearborn, Mich.; Barcelona, Spain; Shanghai; and Sidney, Australia, on Thursday. The new version of the iconic American sports coupe will go on sale late next year.
“Every car company has a vehicle that strikes to the heart and soul of the company, and for us that is the Mustang,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s chief operating officer.
The new model hews closely to the styling that enabled Ford to sell 9 million Mustangs and made the car a star of countless movies, television shows and even postage stamps. Ford plans to take advantage of its international fame -- there’s a Mustang club even in remote Iceland -- to launch sales in Europe and Asia.
Anyone seeing the car will instantly recognize it as a Mustang, with its long sculpted hood and short rear deck. The styling is most evocative of the 1969 model.
“When you see it, you know it has the bloodlines of a Mustang but is designed for the 21st century,” Fields said.
The shark nose grill leans forward to give an impression of movement and aggression. The trademark tri-bar tail lamps now come in a three-dimensional configuration that lends depth to the rear. The sloping fast-back roof profile shouts Mustang more than anything else.
Ford’s challenge: to honor a half-century of history while injecting the car with modern engines, technology and styling cues.
It will offer three engine choices. The base model will have a 3.7-liter V6 with at least 300 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. Ford also plans a turbo-charged four cylinder that will have about the same horsepower but more torque and better fuel economy.
The performance Mustang will come with a 5.0-liter V8 that will produce more than the 420 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque that’s in the current GT model.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

You wrecked your car, but do you trust the repair shop?


For two years Saohouy Ieng drove a truck that experts say was unsafe after it was repaired incorrectly by an insurance preferred body shop.

“Their preferred shops cut corners on repairing the car and they are trying to save money for the company itself, but not for the consumer”, said Saohouy.

Pictures of the frame of Saohouy's Toyota Tacoma after it was repaired the first time show it is rusted and bent, the welding still incomplete.

It’s something Saohouy still can’t understand.

“My kids, my wife when I drove that car for that two years. (I’m) just very, very upset,” he said.

Jeff Butler owns Haury's Lake City Collision. He says Saohouy’s truck was left in a dangerous condition. He made the final repairs on Sahouy's truck and blames the shoddy job on the cost pressures delivered by insurance companies to its preferred shops.

“They are tying the hands of the body shop. That's how they are getting their work. It's that insurance referral but it puts the insurance company as the customer and not the person with the keys. It's a conflict,” said Butler.

Over the next few weeks Butler showed many questionable repairs, from improperly soldered frames to one that was severely damaged then covered up with paint to look new.

Cosmetically the parts look good, but the results could cause casualties.

“So while this car may not fall apart as you drive down the road tomorrow, this is not an approved procedure and it could kill the occupant if he is in a future collision,” said Butler.

Another expert I spoke with was Mike Harber, a former body shop owner who spent years as a preferred facility.

“I think the insurance companies have gone way too far in managing claims and adjusting claims downward and they have a strangle hold on the collision industry, affecting ultimately the consumer,” said Harber.

Harber now owns an appraisal business assisting customers through post-repair inspections of insurance preferred shops.

His advice: “It's not in your best interest to be at one of those shops because it calls for cut rate labor, it calls for the use of imitation and used parts.”

Karl Newman of the Northwest Insurance Council disagrees with this premise.

“There's no motivation for a company to put an unsafe vehicle back on the road,” said Newman. “They're still insuring the car so they want it done right.”

Karl adds that if the job’s not done right by the body shop, the vast majority of insurers guarantee the repairs.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Safest cars on the road 2013

Is safety your top priority in a car? Then there are several choices for your consideration.
Each year the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates cars based on their performance in high-speed front and side crash tests, a rollover test, plus evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.
The cars are then rated with Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor in each of the four crash scenarios. In order for any car model to be named one of the Institutes “Top Safety Picks,” it must earn a Good rating in all four tests.
For 2013, the IIHS named these vehicles as their Top Safety Picks:

Small Cars

  • Acura ILX
  • Chevrolet Cruze
  • Chevrolet Sonic
  • Chevrolet Volt
  • Dodge Dart
  • Fiat 500
  • Ford Fiesta (sedan and hatchback)
  • Ford Focus 4-door (sedan and hatchback)
  • Honda Civic 4-door
  • Honda CR-Z
  • Honda Fit
  • Honda Insight
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Kia Forte (sedan)
  • Kia Soul
  • Lexus CT 200h
  • Mazda 3 (sedan and hatchback)
  • Mini Cooper Countryman
  • Mitsubishi Lancer
  • Nissa Versa (sedan)
  • Nissan Cube
  • Nissan Juke
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Scion FR-S
  • Scion tC
  • Scion xB
  • Scion xD
  • Subaru BRZ
  • Subaru Impreza
  • Subaru XV Crosstrek
  • Toyata Yaris 4-door (hatchback)
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Toyota Prius
  • Toyota Prius c
  • Volkswagen Golf 4-door
  • Volkswagen GTI 4-door

Midsize Cars

  • Acura TL
  • Acura TSX (sedan and Sport Wagon)
  • Audi A3
  • Audi A4 (sedan)
  • BMW 3 series (sedan)
  • Buick Verano
  • Chevrolet Malibu
  • Chrysler 200 4-door
  • Dodge Avenger
  • Ford Fusion
  • Honda Accord
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Kia Optima
  • Lexus ES 350
  • Lincoln MKZ
  • Mercedes C Class
  • Subaru Legacy
  • Subaru Outback
  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota Prius v
  • Volkswagen CC
  • Volkswagen Jetta (sedan)
  • Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen
  • Volkswagen Passat
  • Volvo C30

Large Cars

  • Audi A6
  • BMW 5 series
  • Buick LaCrosse
  • Buick Regal
  • Cadillac CTS (sedan)
  • Chrysler 300
  • Dodge Charger
  • Ford Taurus
  • Hyundai Azera
  • Hyundai Equus
  • Hyundai Genesis
  • Infiniti M37/M56
  • Lexus GS
  • Lincoln MKS
  • Mercedes E class
  • Saab 9-5
  • Toyota Avalon
  • Volvo S80

Small SUVs

  • Ford Escape
  • Honda CR-V
  • Hundai Tucson
  • Jeep Patriot
  • Kia Sportage
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
  • Subaru Forester
  • Volkswagen Tiguan

Midsize SUVs

  • Acura MDX
  • Acura RDX
  • Audi Q5
  • BMW X3
  • Cadillac SRX
  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Dodge Durango
  • Dodge Journey
  • Ford Edge
  • Ford Explorer
  • Ford Flex
  • GMC Terrain
  • Honda Pilot
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Infiniti EX35
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Kia Sorento
  • Lexus RX
  • Lincoln MKT
  • Lincoln MKX
  • Mercedes GLK
  • Mercedes M class
  • Saab 9-4X
  • Subaru Tribeca
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Toyota Venza
  • Volvo XC60
  • Volvo XC90

Large SUVs

  • Buick Enclave
  • Chevrolet Traverse
  • GMC Acadia
  • Volkswagen Touareg


  • Chrysler Town & Country
  • Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Volkswagen Routan


  • Ford F-150 (crew cab models)
  • Honda Ridgeline
  • Toyota Tundra (crew cab models)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

That annoying squeak in you car might be a mouse!

By Joseph Robertia
Rodents, with their beady eyes, yellow teeth and long, leathery tails, are right up there with spiders and snakes in terms of the fear they can bring on in most people. It is a feeling Rhonda McCormick, of Soldotna, can relate to after she determined that an unknown vermin had taken up residence in her vehicle.
“Just knowing it was in the car with me, that I drove around with it for four days, it just grosses me out,” she said.
She realized the tiny, tailed stowaway after she left the grocery store March 30. She was loading her groceries into her still-new KIA Sorento, when she noticed something odd.
“There looked like there was a cookie or piece of wafer or something on the floor,” she said.
As she leaned to scoop it up, her eyes met with a small, nibbled hole in the interior wall.
Not only did it click in McCormick’s mind what the hole meant, but it also dawned on her that this might have something to do with why her rear window washing fluid suddenly stopped working just a few days earlier.
She called her insurance company, which agreed McCormick’s policy covered this sort of thing, so she brought her vehicle in for repairs to Driven Auto Body in Soldotna.
“I left the car there,” she said. “I wasn’t driving around with that thing any longer.”
In her life in Alaska, McCormick has never even heard of this kind of problem. She asked friends on Facebook, and no one else had ever had a similar incident. But Zach Strahan, an assistant manager at the repair shop, said that rodent-based repairs are more common than most people would think.
“We get at least a handful of these every year,” he said.
As to McCormick’s specific rodent, Strahan said he wasn’t sure exactly what type it was — mouse, vole, squirrel or something else. McCormick had set a trap in the car before bringing it in, and several others were set at the repair shop, but none yielded success.
Assuming the rodent fled the vehicle, Strahan said they began disassembling the damaged portions of McCormick’s car. While the mechanics still haven’t seen the rodent, they can attest to the damage it left behind.
“As we disassembled the inside, left-corner panel next to the spare tire, we found a nest. It had a lot of nesting material, and several pieces of food,” he said.
The rodent was somewhat clean, though, as Strahan said there was not much feces among the other debris. Still, the repairs began adding up.
“It can get expensive fast, as they get inside and cause mechanical or electrical issues. Right now, we’re at about $500 to $600 in repairs, but we’re still finding stuff,” he said.
McCormick’s rodent went for the inside of her vehicle, but others go for more external housing, as Kevin Hayes, of Kasilof, can confirm. He recently began seeing the elongated, white body of a weasel around his home.
“I think it’s living in the insulation of the garage walls because I can hear movement in there,” he said.
Hayes parks his pickup truck in the garage in winter, and also stores bags of garbage in there overnight until he can transport the trash to the dump the next day. He said that both of these things may need to stop soon, at least temporarily, due to the unwanted guest.
“The weasel had already begun getting into the trash. But about a week ago, we were getting ready to go to Anchorage so I went to check the oil. When I lifted the hood, it had four chicken bones in there. I think it was dragging trash in there to eat it when the engine was still warm,” he said.
Hayes said that he’s hoping to put a stop to this activity soon, before the weasel chews up a hose, belt or some other important part of the motor.
While Hayes knew the source of his rodent problem, McCormick is still wondering how hers got started.
“It’s a brand-new car. I just got it in October. And I park in the garage every night. So, the only thing I can think of is, I work at the Kenai Watershed Forum, and that’s in kind of a woodsy area, so maybe it got in there,” she said. “Either that or it was already in there when I bought it, but I hope not. I’m a clean freak and the idea of it being in there that long freaks me out.”

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chicago Auto Show showcases Chrysler's MOPARS


On Saturday Night Live, Chicago was viciously parodied as a place where residents like former Chicago Bears football coach Mike Ditka would eat so much sausage and deep-dish pizza that they would be forced to self-rescue from heart attacks.

It was a joke even Chicagoans could enjoy, but it may have illustrated why this mid-American heartland capital is an ideal venue for Chrysler to unveil the latest tweaks to its iconic Hemi-engined muscle cars. An attendee at the Chicago auto show can just picture a cigar-chomping Ditka at the wheel of the 2013 Chrysler 300 SRT8 “Core” model introduced here on 7 February.

“Core” is Chrysler’s new term for a base model, not to be confused with various specialty editions. As such, the company rolled out similar “Core” models of the performance-oriented Dodge Challenger SRT8, Chrysler 300 SRT8 and Dodge Charger Super Bee SRT8.

They all feature the carried-over 6.4-litre Hemi V8 engine, boasting 470 horsepower, 470 pound-feet of torque and cylinder-deactivation technology that permits an EPA-certified highway rating of 23mpg.

Ballistic cloth inserts that debuted on the 2013 SRT Viper are applied to all three cars, and some classic paint colors make a return. Hemi Orange, TorRed and Plum Crazy join the existing palate of silver, white, gray, blue and black. The Challenger offers unique Phantom Black Tri-coat Pearl and Redline Tri-coat Pearl for 2013.

Both Dodge models wear “392” badging, representing their engine displacement in cubic inches, while the Chrysler opts for a more Continental “6.4L” badge.

All three cars are slated to reach dealers this summer. The Challenger SRT8 is priced from $39,990, the Charger SRT8 Super Bee is $42,990 and the Chrysler 300 SRT8 is $44,900 – all inclusive of $995 destination charges. In the event those prices seem a little too dear, Dodge feels your pain, which is why the brand has tarted up a base Challenger with the R/T Redline package and pegged it at $32,985. The Redline package adds 20-inch black chrome wheels and a lowered performance suspension to the base car’s 5.7-litre Hemi V8, producing 375-horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. Either a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic transmission is available.
Another $2,000 buys the Redline Plus package, which adds Nappa leather seats, seat heaters, a 276-watt Boston Acoustics six-speaker sound system, rear park assist and remote start, among other bits.
If a price starting with a “3” still looks like too much, there is the Mopar ’13 Dodge Dart, so-named for Chrysler’s in-house customisation division. The compact sedan is dressed with lowered suspension, revised steering calibration, sport-tuned exhaust, ground effects on its bodywork and a premium brake kit. Dodge plans to build 500 units -- perhaps a conservative plan, given the dragstrip-sleeper cachet of its bygone Neon SRT-4 compact sedan.
The Dart’s 1.4-litre turbo 4-cylinder engine carries over, and like previous Mopar models, the Mopar Dart is black with blue stripes. No word yet on pricing or availability.
Lastly, Chrysler chose hard-nosed Chicago to introduce its new commercial van, the Ram ProMaster. Sourced from parent company Fiat, the van replaces the Mercedes-sourced Sprinter with a front-drive model using either a Chrysler gasoline V6 engine or 3-litre 4-cylinder diesel power. Look for one to respond to your next home-plumbing catastrophe sometime in the third quarter this year, when production commences.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013