RepairPal Blog: General Interest

Gas prices? The future of hybrids? Find out what's in the news today!

The constant and erratic rise and fall of gas prices over the last few years has always bothered me. During this time, we have never experienced gas shortages like we saw in the 1970s, yet “supply and demand” has always been blamed for the rise and fall of oil prices. I find it hard to believe that simple “supply and demand” can cause oil prices to change so quickly and dramatically, especially when the available supply of gasoline has remained steady. Common sense suggests there is more to this than just supply and demand. It is my belief that speculation in the oil futures market is what has caused the dramatic rise and fall of gas prices over the last few years.

Even after all of the discounts for being a good driver, having home owner’s insurance, and being a long-time customer, Americans still pay an average of $1,000 a year for auto insurance and rates have been climbing even faster than inflation in the past few years. So, how do we keep up? What discounts are on the horizon? Apparently, the next big step in reducing the cost of auto insurance will be the installation of new driving monitoring systems, such as in-car video cameras. Various systems, including GM’s OnStar, have already been checking up on drivers, including how many miles they have driven, but the new technologies will go further—much further—by gathering data on how people drive.

I am a lucky girl. I don't have to go into the office that much, and when I do, it's a reverse commute. I have to drive from San Francisco to Emeryville in the Bay Area of CA, and while I am driving a steady speed, I see the poor folks who have to sit in traffic on the Bay Bridge, at the toll booths, and all of the arteries that feed into the bridge. It's awful; they barely move and there's nothing they can do about it. I can't imagine having to do that five days a week. Something inside me would break and I am extremely fortunate to have a job that lends itself to telecommuting. But some folks don't have a choice, and I always wonder what they do to entertain themselves and keep from going crazy, having to do that day in and day out.

Recalls are rampant. As a shop owner, I get daily email updates about recalls and they are starting to fill up my inbox. For many of us, purchasing a car is one of the most expensive decisions we will make in our entire lives—shouldn't it be worth it? At least we know that under federal law, auto dealers cannot sell vehicles that have been recalled, but did you know that this restriction does not extend to rental cars? Whenever you rent a car, you could be driving around in one that has been recalled.

When my best buddy, David, moved his family into a new place in Orange County, CA, he was curiously excited about giving me a tour. When I finally made it down there, we took about thirty seconds to check out the three-bedroom townhouse before he beckoned me out the back door. Off the back patio, we came to the garage door and his smile widened when he said, "Check this out ..."

When I was seventeen years old, I was driving in Virginia on a cold winter day. Though it wasn't snowing at the time, there was ice and snow on the road. People were generally moving the speed limit, which was about 55mph.In the car with me was my best friend, Jan. We were following her parents, on our way to a weekend getaway. Everything was going well ... until a sea of red brake lights suddenly appeared before me. I had no choice but to slam on the brakes, something I had never done before in my short driving career.

On Wednesday, crude oil prices jumped to more than $100 a barrel for the first time since September, 2008. Analysts believe that the instability and fighting near key oil ports in Libya is to blame and worry that the fighting might go on longer than previously thought, which could inspire unrest in surrounding areas.While there is enough oil in storage worldwide to meet short term needs, a prolonged Libyan conflict could drive oil prices even higher. Helima L. Croft, an oil and Africa analyst at Barclay's Capital, says, "The conventional wisdom a week ago was that Gaddafi would go in a week. But now, Gaddafi is digging in and is holed up in Tripoli with African mercenaries. ... So there could be a significant outage for a significant period of time."

Speeding—many of us do it; many of us actually get away with it. But there are some places where the likelihood of getting caught is greater and the fines are much steeper. recently released a list of the top ten cities with the worst speed traps. You've been warned!Many of LA's speed traps are on the boulevards in the valley, where the speed limit can be as low as 35mph. Anyone who has driven in LA knows that if you actually drove 35mph, people would yell at you and most likely run you down. It's also very difficult to fight a ticket in Los Angeles, considering the city is on the brink of bankruptcy.

If we could have our way, we would all be driving brand new cars every year. While some folks manage to do just that, most of us have to keep the car that we have, usually until it dies or needs a repair that will cost more than the car is worth.Whether it’s the economy or a new frugality among Americans, turns out we are keeping our cars longer than we have in the past—a lot longer.

If you have a fever, you don’t feel well, right? Well, in order to function properly, your vehicle’s engine needs to run at the right temperature, too. So if your engine is running too hot, a sensor goes off and coolant is released to cool the engine off. When you have a fever, a sensor goes off—our own thermostat, the hypothalamus—and then our body responds by sweating and other means of cooling off.