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Most hybrids on the road today use an electric motor to supplement a traditional gas or diesel engine. The very early versions from General Motors and Honda gain only what amounts to an "auto-stop" function which allows for the engine to turn off when the vehicle is stopped and turned back on again as the drivers begins to accelerate. The second generation hybrids (Toyota Prius, Ford Escape, and full size GM Trucks) began incorporating the electric motors inside the transmission and added larger batteries. This design allows some limited propulsion from the electric motors in addition to the auto-stop feature. None of these vehicles have the capability to charge the high voltage battery from a wall outlet in your garage. Aftermarket companies have developed "plug-in" kits, mostly for the Prius which include a higher capacity battery and the ability to charge the high voltage battery from a standard electrical outlet. These "plug-in" hybrids offer an limited range where they can run on the electric motors only. The common bond with all of these hybrids is that the gas or diesel engine takes over for the electric motor when the high voltage battery gets low and propels the vehicle just as a non-hybrid, basically an internal combustion engine with and electric motor as a "helper" (Series Hybrid).

The latest safety issue for Toyota. Consumer Reports has just labeled the 2010 Lexus GX 460 with a "Don't Buy - Safety Risk" designation. This is the latest is a series of safety related issues for Toyota which is the parent company that manufactures the Lexus models. Previous issues involve unintended acceleration and braking issues on various Toyota models.

Checking your Air Conditioning system before the Summer heat! When the temperatures rise so does Air Conditioning use and with that comes the expense of repairing an A/C system that is not functioning as it should. These repairs can be as minor as simply adding refrigerant (called 134A in most new cars) to restoring a system after a catastrophic compressor failure.

Fuel mileage standards raised for cars and light trucks!The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have teamed up to announce new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards which are designed to raise the fuel economy for cars and light trucks to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016. This new standard is a full 8 mpg higher that the current standard of 27.5 which has been in effect since 1990. According to EPA estimates, it is expected that the requirements will add as much as $985 to the initial cost of each vehicle. As a result buyers are expected to save about $4,000 on fuel costs over the life of the vehicle. The standards begin increasing in 2012 and build up to the 2016 standard of 35.5 mpg.

Whenever I get the chance to point something out that might help prevent a major repair, I try to provide that information to my local customers and my readers—wherever you are! We have been replacing turbochargers pretty frequently lately, and for a while I thought it was just isolated to the 2005 models. That no longer seems to be the case. So, I have provided a few suggestions on how you can help prolong the life of your turbo and your Subaru engine.

RepairPal has just added another 274 vehicles to our already huge database, which means many of you with 2010 vehicles can receive your free repair estimates, open your own My Car account to start saving your service records online and a whole lot more... We're currently processing new data, so we will be updating even more models in the coming weeks. If you don't see your vehicle here, don't hesitate to request that your vehicle be added! Just contact us at feedback@repairpal.com

We've been getting quite a few questions lately in our Q&A about people replacing their battery and then having all sorts of problems. I've added two informative articles about how to avoid these problems, and if you encounter them, how to address them. The first article looks at some of the different modules and what can happen if power is lost - Memory Loss Associated with Battery Replacement

There has been a lot of concern in the media about the problems that Toyota has been having with their sticking gas pedals on their gas powered vehicles and the braking problems on their Prius Hybrid vehicles.  The concern is growing into a panic, and Joe White at the Wall Street Journal wrote an article with the alarmist title "Cars Are Getting Scary Again" that questions the complex nature of the modern automobile. What's scary is that this article was written 20 years too late. The problematic drive-by-wire system in the Toyotas has been in automobiles for over 20 years.  In the late 1980s, the larger BMW 12-cylinder vehicles used it to synchronize and control the two computers that were used to manage the engine.  Over the years, this system has worked so well that The U.S. Department of Transportation has mandated that every vehicle manufactured for sale in the U.S. must have an integrated Anti-Lock Brake and Traction Control system, or drive-by-wire system, no later than the 2010 model year.

Certain 2001 and 2002 Accord, Civic, Odyssey, CR-V, and selected 2002 Acura TL models. Honda has announced they are expanding a previously announced recall of certain 2001 and 2002 cars and trucks to replace the driver's airbag inflator. This will involve an additional 378,758 vehicles in the U.S. The problem found is that the driver's airbag inflators may deploy with too much pressure. This may cause the inflator casing to rupture and could result in injury or fatality.

Important, if you feel your vehicle has this unintended acceleration issue: If you have noticed any of the following: Your accelerator pedal is harder than normal to depress, not smooth during operation, or slow to return after being depressed the vehicle should be stopped at the nearest safe location, the engine shut off, and a Toyota dealer contacted for assistance.