RepairPal Blog

Aftermarket News is reporting today that the Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association (APRA) is voicing strong opposition to creating a nationwide “Cash for Clunkers” program, which lawmakers may be considering as part of any upcoming federal economic stimulus plan. In California, we're familiar with "Cash for Clunkers" programs, in which the State uses tax dollars to purchase older cars from owners, and then destroys the vehicles.  The goal of the California program has been to remove "gross polluters" from the road as part of the State's strict Smog control regulations.

There is a stunning statistic that was related to me at a recent Emissions Tech 2009 update class.  Nationwide, over 60% of all the Catalytic Converters replaced in order for a vehicle to pass an emissions test are failing less than six months later--in fact, the catalytic converters are failing so severely that six months later, the new CAT and vehicle will again fail the emissions test.  This means that the vehicle is back to inefficient performance and wasting fuel, based on what is being released from the tailpipe.  How could a perfectly good CAT go bad so fast? The answer is that the 'root cause' of the emissions problem was never addressed. The Catalytic Converter was replaced to 'mask' the real problem. When a vehicle is new, it barely needs a CAT in order to run 'clean' other than during warm-up or when it is under a heavy load.  As the engine management components, i.e., the spark plugs, wires, coil(s), air and fuel filter, injectors, oxygen sensor(s), EGR system wear and get dirty with carbon, the performance efficiency of the engine degrades drastically. This why the 'Check Engine Light' was created. It's a signal that the engine is running poorly and one or more systems have reached their maximum level of compensation or have even failed.

Car & Driver recently published its list of the top 10 fastest cars of 2008. Once again, my comfortable sedan did not make the list unfortunately!  All of the winners can run quarter miles in less than 11 seconds and can go from 0-60mph in less than 3.7 seconds.  At the top of the list is the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 with a sticker price just over $1.6 million.  I’m not sure I want to know the price on repairs for this vehicle or how often I’d have to take it to the shop. 

This is the first in a series of blog posts that our emissions and diagnostics expert, Daniel Dillon, will be writing for RepairPal.  Dan has 22 years of experience as a licensed Smog Technician in California. He helped write test questions for the California Smog Technician Exam, and has performed Consumer Assistance Program and gold shield diagnostic work for the State. He also was an instructor for SnapOn Tool Corporation. Dan's posts will address important events or trends he encounters in his shop.

Chinese Automaker BYD (Build Your Dreams) has entered the Hybrid vehicle market. For the equivalent of $22,000 U.S.D., Chinese citizens can now purchase the first Chinese built, plug-in Hybrid! Named the F3 DM, (DM stands for Dual Mode) the automaker hopes to make it available in the U.S. in 2011. This is quite ambitious for a company that sold its first vehicle in 2003! The F3 DM is powered by a ferrous battery that BYD claims propels the vehicle from 0 to 60 mph in 10.5 seconds and will travel over 60 miles on a full charge. This technology, says BYD general manager Henry Li, "is superior to the nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery used in current Hybrids". The battery can deliver twice the voltage of a Ni-MH battery, costs less and is eco friendly as it contains no pollutants!  learn more

You may have simply had it with your old car and the repairs are costing more than you’d like. (Hopefully you’ve checked the RepairPal Price Estimator). If that’s the case, you may want to consider donating your car to a charity.  And…with 2009 rapidly approaching, you may need a tax write-off for 2008.There are two big things to consider when donating your car:

What happens when you cross a 1972 Datsun with an electric motor and 60 lithium batteries? The quickest accelerating street legal electric car! Besides the stickers that cover the car, you'd never think that this car had 300hp and can smoke Corvettes at the dragstrip. The White Zombie is now running at world record pace with 11.5 second quarter mile. Check out the video below!

The folks over at CAR Online delivered a great article today showing a variety of creative concepts to upgrade Santa's ride. Bentley, Ford, Nissan and Rolls-Royce provided design ideas to the article.  The slick Bentley is my personal favorite. 

According to the AAA, the depressed economy is keeping more people closer to home this holiday season. The number of Americans who plan to travel this season dropped 2.1% over last year. In fact, the U.S. hasn’t seen a drop in holiday travel plans since 2002.What’s interesting is that the average price of gas in the U.S. is $1.81 – that’s $1.39 LESS than this time last year.  Wouldn’t one assume that such a significant drop in gas prices would actually encourage more folks to travel?

After Congress failed to pass a bill to help the US auto industry, today President Bush approved $13.4 billion in immediate relief to GM and Chrysler and another $4 billion in February. This is a very big deal for the automakers - many analysts believe them to be days away from running out of money. The tricky part about this loan is that they need to pay it back in the next 3 months. That means there will be massive cuts at both GM and Chrysler to the tune of $13.4 billion to settle up with Uncle Sam come the end of March. It will be up to the Obama administration to decide if additional government support is warranted and deserved. The much talked about "Car Czar" will be Treasury Secretary Paulson for the time being. This massive chunk of change will come from the $700 billion set aside for the financial industry bailout. Stay tuned as there will be major changes in the coming weeks and months to the face of the American car industry.