RepairPal Blog

I believe the biggest point of confusion that motorists who own modern vehicles encounter besides the Check Engine Light is whether or not they need a "tune up".  A quick search of any automotive repair help forum or catch-all answer solution like Yahoo Answers will reveal any number of owners asking whether their car needs to be tuned up, what happens during a tune up, and how much it should cost. Check out our write-up on tune ups, which includes everything you need to know about tune ups--even the history behind what it used to mean to give a car a tune up.

With turkey day just around the corner, I was feeling nostalgic and wanted to find out if the Chrysler Plymouth had any association with Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Mass. Chrysler introduced the Plymouth in 1928 (it was retired in 2001) as a low-priced vehicle.  Back then, the logo on the car was of the Mayflower Ship.  Chrysler said the Plymouth name was a great symbol to represent the “endurance and strength” of the vehicle, similar to that of the first American Colonists, the Pilgrims.

With the release of the James Bond flick “Quantum of Solace” this month, the latest Bond vehicle of choice was revealed:  the 2008 Aston Martin DBS 2-door coupe.  Apparently, the franchise started out with the Connery and Moore Bond driving British cars, but by the 1990s, the Brosnan Bond drove a BMW.  Well, now the British car fleet is back. If you’re interested in scooping one of these Bond cars up, the 2008 Aston Martin DBS will set you back a mere $265,000.  However, you’ll get a racing vehicle with a 510 horsepower, V12, 6.0L engine which will take you from 0 – 60 in just 4.3 seconds. 

Ford introduced the 2010 Fusion and its cousin the Mercury Milan this week at the LA Auto Show. The hybrid Fusion/Milan features the SmartGauge cluster with EcoGuide, which coaches the driver to drive more efficiently. The gauge cluster has a central analog gauge with displays on either side for lots of flashy graphs. All this and it gets 6 mpg better than the Camry Hybrid for $27K and change.

The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) published their quarterly industry indicators this week, and there was a lot of interesting and very depressing news, but the following graphic (source: AAIA) describing the recent relationship between gas prices at the pump and the total miles driven by American, month over month, is astounding! The precipitous drop in miles driven is profound, and though it looks as though when gas hits 4 or more dollars a gallon, driver behavior changes, my guess is that there is more going on.  The  relationship may be between how quickly prices go up and the change to miles driven.  The more sharp the spike in prices, the more sizable the response from consumers, whereas a gradual increase in prices doesn't spark a similar downward trend.

Automaker Mini, with help from BMW, have developed the Mini E. It is fitted with a 150-kilowatt electric motor that produces 204 horsepower, a high-performance lithium-ion battery pack (good for 150 miles on a full charge) and a single-stage helical gearbox that sends the power out to the front wheels. From a standing start, it will hit 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds; and reach a maximum speed of 95 mph. Announced at the L.A. Auto show yesterday, the automaker has plans to release 500 electric vehicles for long term testing. If you live in the Los Angeles or New York City metro areas, you're in luck! Check here to find out more!

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The LA Auto Show is one of the big car events of the season, it starts this Friday the 21st and continues through the 30th.  The LA Auto Show seems to be the venue of choice for learning about the latest hybrid technology -- it has turned into the place to show off new green, alternative automobiles.  With the LA Auto Show about to start, the big manufacturers are reaching out with exciting news about their alternative vehicles about to appear in the months ahead.  Today, Ford announced that it plans to beat Toyota when it comes to hybrids.  

I ran across an article today on that discussed a recent announcement from BMW of North America regarding turbo-lag problems with the twin-turbocharged inline six cylinder motor that currently powers the acclaimed 335i, among many other new BMWs. From our perspective at RepairPal, what was interesting about the news is that BMW originally updated its engine software to address an engine noise problem, and in doing so, the new software fix created a small turbo-lag problem.  This is a terrific example of the deep importance and extreme sensitivity of computer controls in modern automobiles.  It wasn't long ago that a mechanic manually adjusted the air-fuel ratio and "tuned" an engine by listening to it run.  Now, software can address the specific behavior of turbochargers so subtle that many drivers would probably not even notice it--in fact, the engine computer and emissions control systems are constantly measuring and varying every step in the combustion process.  In other words, a modern car is constantly being tuned up by its engine computer.

While Ford continues to plead for a government bailout, there is some nice news coming out of the company too. They have unveiled the 2010 Mustang. The car is mostly a cosmetic makeover, carrying over most of the mechanical bits from the previous generation, including the V6 and V8 engines. The exterior is refined and gives the car a nicer, sharper look (if I do say so myself). Click over to Autoblog for more pictures.