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February 06, 2013

2013 Ford Explorer Sport Road Test Review

2013 Ford Explorer Sport Road Test Review by Bob Plunkett

By Bob Plunkett

The steep slope on a rough trace cut across Oregon's rugged Coast Ranges presents a challenge for a four-wheeling test drive through tall timber in a new2013 Ford Explorer Sport crossover utility vehicle.

Loose dirt and chat on the trail often causes even nubby tires like Explorer Sport's 20-inch P255/50R20 rollers to slip and skid on a steep descent, which in turn may propel the vehicle faster than prudent to maintain steady control for safe passage down the grade.

No way that runaway momentum will occur with the new Explorer Sport, however, because it stocks sophisticated electronic controls linked to the all-wheel-drive (AWD) system as well as the anti-lock brakes (ABS) and Ford's AdvanceTrac electronic skid control (ESC) device with traction control and roll stability control (RSC), which measures vehicle motion on both the yaw and roll axes.

And a new electronic safety device aboard is dubbed Curve Control -- it can detect when the driver runs too fast into a turn, then automatically deploy the brakes to slow and stabilize the wagon.

But there's more:  Explorer Sport totes a serious power package. It incorporates a unique direct-injection and twin-turbocharged V6 -- promising the fuel economy of a V6 but the power and torque of a big V8 -- labeled by Ford as the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. To continue the review, click here.

February 06, 2012

Prepping Your Car For Spring

ROAD & TRAVEL Auto Advice: Prepping Your Vehicle for Spring
Car Maintenance for Spring:
Prep Your Vehicle for Sunny Weather

by Tom Kline

Spring is a time of fresh starts and renewals. Extend the “spring cleanup” you give your house and yard to your vehicle. You’ll not only improve its performance and lengthen its life, but you’ll spare yourself time, money and aggravation.

Tasks You Can Perform On Your Own
Whether you do the work yourself or depend on a professional technician, getting your vehicle in shape now will undo any damage caused by winter driving and keep you safe on the road this season.

  • Remove clutter from your car. Vacuum the carpeting; Windex the windows; wipe the headlights with a soft, damp rag. Wash and wax your vehicle to remove winter salt and grime and protect the finish.

  • Cooling system (radiator): flush and refill according to the service manual’s instructions. The level, condition and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. Important — first let the engine cool down before removing the radiator cap.

  • RK service technicians tell us that skipping oil changes can greatly reduce your vehicle’s life. Change the oil and oil filter as specified in your owner’s manual. Be sure to properly dispose of used oil. Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended in your service manual.

  • Check your tires, including the spare. Let them cool down before che cking their pressure. Uneven wear, cupping, vibrations or pulling to one side indicates problems with your tires or suspension system. [Click here for more tips]

October 21, 2011

How to Drive More Efficiently

Drive Sensibly
frustrated driverAggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.

Fuel Economy Benefit:


Equivalent Gasoline Savings:


Observe the Speed Limit
Graph showing MPG VS speed MPG decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph
While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.
You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.29 per gallon for gas.
Observing the speed limit is also safer.

Fuel Economy Benefit:


Equivalent Gasoline Savings:


Remove Excess Weight

Excess items in trunk
Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2 percent. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle's weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.

Fuel Economy Benefit:

1–2%/100 lbs

Equivalent Gasoline Savings:


Full story - click here.


October 17, 2011

How to Prepare Your Car for Safe Winter Driving

What's a buyer to do? To help answer that question, RTM presents its 2012 Green Car Buyer's Guide with various ecologically sensitive, fuel efficient vehicles on the market today without mortgaging one's future in the process. Other reasons to consider a hybrid vehicle purchase are auto insurance rate discounts. Check out these great discounts on hybrid vehicles.

Car Care MonthYou're heading down the highway anxious to get home. Suddenly you hear cling clang, putter sputter. Your car is skipping beats and spitting liquid. Your adrenaline spews. Your only choice is to pull over on the dark freeway. Now what?

If you're a man, this is a major inconvenience. If you're a woman, this could be terrifying, perhaps even life-threatening. No matter who you are, you've just become a sitting duck. Whether you work on the problem or wait for help to arrive, your time on the side of the road now makes you susceptible to the dark side of humanity.

Can this be avoided? In most cases, yes, which is why GM Goodwrench has declared October Car Care Month, an awareness campaign created to focus attention on the importance of car care and maintenance, especially for those living in states that have drastic seasonal changes. Full Story.

Road & Travel Magazine's 2012 Green Car Buyer's Guide, click here.

October 14, 2011

Time to Think About Your Car Coolant

Fall is Time for Car Coolants & Maintenance Check Up

It's the beginning of fall, and time to consider your coolant.

This is a good time to think about your engine cooling system. Regular inspections and pressure tests of your cooling system are of utmost importance, as is good maintenance by following the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended coolant change intervals.

As time passes, the protective anti-corrosive additives in the antifreeze break down and lose their effectiveness. But antifreeze has two other very important jobs as well:

• It is used to decrease the temperature at which the coolant freezes.

• It is used to raise the temperature at which the coolant will begin to boil.

It is also very important that the proper ratio of water to antifreeze is always maintained. Unless specified otherwise by the vehicle manufacturer, the coolant in most vehicles should consist of a mixture of 50% water and 50% antifreeze before being added to the cooling system. This 50/50 solution not only prevents freezing, but also preserves proper cooling properties.

Also concerning the antifreeze to water mixture ratio: adding more antifreeze to the mix (once again, unless otherwise specified by the vehicle manufacturer) to increase its percentage in the mixture is not better. Generally speaking, after the ratio exceeds more than about 65% antifreeze to 35% water, freeze protection can actually diminish, but even worse, heat dissipation can radically decrease, since the water is the primary substance used for this purpose. Antifreeze itself actually has fairly poor heat transfer characteristics. Having too much antifreeze in the mixture can actually cause engine overheating.


September 14, 2011

Is Your Car College Ready?

Vehicle Maintenance 101

Brought to you by Car Care Council

It’s easy for college students to remember to get new clothes, school supplies and dorm and apartment furniture, but what about preparing the car that’s going to haul all that stuff? The Car Care Council reminds students and their parents not to overlook Vehicle Maintenance 101.

“Making sure the college-bound vehicle gets a passing grade will give both the student and their parents peace of mind for the drive back to school and the first semester of bombing around,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “It’s always a good idea to inspect a vehicle and have any repairs done near home, at a familiar repair shop”.

The Car Care Council recommends that the following items be checked before hitting the road:

•  Tires and tire pressure
•  Hoses and belts
•  Air filters
•  Wipers
•  Exterior and interior lighting
•  Fluid levels, including engine oil, power steering, brake, transmission, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant

In addition, a 21st century tune-up should also be performed, which includes inspecting the following systems: battery, charging and starting; engine mechanical; power train control; fuel; ignition; and emissions. To learn more, view the Car Care Council’s “21st Century Tune-Up” video. MORE INFO

July 12, 2011

15 Tips for Cleaning Car Carpeting & Upholstery

Cleaner Car Interior

by Sandy Lindsey

There's nothing worse than buying a new car, and weeks later, it looks more lived-in than a 100-year-old house. Drive-thru food and drinks, kids with sticky candy, and drooling Fido also do their fair share toward making your car's interior — be it leather, cloth, or carpet — look beaten and worn. By maintaining the appearance of the vehicle inside as well as out, you retain the value of the car, which will help you when it's time to trade it in or sell it. Here are a few helpful hints to help you tackle the spills and spots:

1. Dilute coffee spills immediately with cool water and blot with paper towels or clean rags. If a stain remains after the spot dries, spray on a glass cleaner (yes, a glass cleaner!). Soak the area, allow to sit for five minutes, and blot. Glass cleaner cleans all types of carpeting and upholstery without leaving the soapy residue of most traditional carpet cleaners, which only attract more dirt afterward. Glass cleaner isnormally effective on even the most difficult stains. Once your carpet is cleaned it's time to Scotchgard the surface to limit further staining.

Most greasy carpeting and upholstery stains can be removed by rubbing on paint thinner with a clean, 100-percent cotton cloth. Then cover the stain with salt until the remaining grease is absorbed, and vacuum. Or cover the spot with cornmeal and let it sit overnight and vacuum in the morning. Note: Test the effect of the paint thinner on the colorfastness of the carpeting and/or upholstery in a discrete area first.

Hairspray will lift out pen ink stains on carpeting or upholstery. Salt will also lift the stain out of the carpet. Allow to sit until the stain is absorbed and brush off. Repeat if necessary. [Full Article]

June 30, 2011

Driver's Go Online to Learn How to Extend Car's Life

Drivers Head Online to Maximize Mileage and Extend Vehicle Life

By Famous Rhodes, eBay Motors

Cars and trucks on the road are flat out old – the National Automobile Dealers Association reports that the average age of vehicles on the road is at a 15-year high. This has more and more drivers investing in the maintenance and care of their existing vehicles. To not break the bank on repair costs, these drivers are saving money by fixing and upgrading relatively easy-to-install parts on their vehicles. Drivers are also finding ways to improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles through do-it-yourself modifications. Where are they finding all of the necessary parts and accessories for these modifications? Online. To save costs, and time, drivers are increasingly turning to the Web to source simple maintenance items such as windshield wiper blades, all the way up to air intake and exhaust systems.
A full 90 percent of automotive parts buyers source the internet for information. These shoppers are expected to generate nearly $9 billion in online parts and accessories sales expected by 2014*. Before online shopping, consumers had to go to an auto parts store or a local dealership to find out what part was needed and when it would be in stock if not on the shelf already. If it was an unusual or not widely available part, the wait might be weeks long. Now, consumers can go online to sites such as eBay Motors, simply enter the make and model of their vehicle and quickly find parts that match their car or truck. [Read full article]

June 09, 2011

Preparing Your Car for a Summer Road Trip

Summer Road Trip Vehicle Preparation

Summer Road Trip Vehicle Preparation
Brought to you by Car Care Council

Deep down, you know your car should be checked out before hitting the road for a summer road trip, but with so many other things left to do, some folks put it off. Bad idea, says the Car Care Council, especially when motorists realize that in as little as 10 minutes, they can determine if their car is ready for long-distance travel.

The 10-minute pre-trip checkup recommended by the council includes the following:

  • Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering and brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  • Check the hoses and belts that can become cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or show signs of excessive wear. These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.
  • Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.

But wait, there's more to the story. Click here.


April 13, 2011

How to Find a Certified Mechanic

National Standards Help Consumers Locate
Qualified Automotive Technicians

Car owners know they should keep their vehicles in good operating condition, but often do not know where to turn or what to look for in a repair shop.

Some choose a repair shop based solely on its convenient location or an advertised special. Not the best move, according to officials with the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, also known as ASE. “Look for the ASE sign,” says Martin Lawson, Editorial Director at ASE. “It indicates the repair shop employs one or more ASE-Certified technician.” According to Lawson, finding a competent auto technician need not be a matter of chance. Much of the guesswork has been eliminated, thanks to a national program conducted by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. “Qualified technicians are the backbone of any repair establishment,” notes ASE’s Lawson.

ASE tests and certifies automotive professionals in all major technical areas of repair and service. With almost 400,000 currently certified professionals, the ASE program is national in scope and has industry-wide acceptance and recognition. ASE-certified technicians and parts specialists can be found at every type of repair facility, from dealerships, service stations, and franchises to parts stores, independent garages, and even municipal fleets.

[Full Story]