Monday, October 29, 2012

California Smog & Emissions Exemptions; a Brief Rundown

A question we receive on a regular basis is about California's regulations on emissions testing for road vehicles. It seems quite a few people are confused as to what the current law says about the emissions status of motor vehicles. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nissan DeltaWing Places 5th at Petit Le Mans Finale

Congratulations to the Nissan DeltaWing team as they finished 5th overall in last weekend's Petit Le Mans race held at Road Atlanta.  Powered by a 1.6 liter 4 cylinder turbo and with roughly half the fuel of the larger prototype cars, it was impressive to see the DeltaWing start from the back of the grid and finish in the top 5!

You can read about the team's success here:  Nissan DeltaWing Petit Le Mans

Friday, October 12, 2012

Coronado Speed Festival Part 3, Show and Shine

For our last installment of the Coronado Speed Fest of 2012, we will take a look at the vehicles which arrived for the second day of the car show.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Coronado Speed Festival Part 2: Race Cars in the Paddocks

The Camaro and Ford Fairlane are just a few of the cars which participated in the historic Trans-Am series race.

In part 1 of our coverage of the Coronado Speed Festival, we showed you some of the many different cars which showed up for the car show on Saturday. 

You can view part 1 here:  Coronado Speed Festival Part 1

For part 2 of our coverage, we will show you the various race cars we saw as we browsed the paddocks.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Coronado Speed Festival, a Gathering of Vintage Cars from All Makes Part 1

The Coronado Speed Festival allows attendees a chance to view many vintage vehicles from pony cars to exotic speedsters.

Squeak, squeak.... Vroooom!  Braap, braap braap, braap.  The priming of carburetors followed by the lumpy idle of a high lift camshaft actuating valves breaks the early morning silence.  It is a soundtrack you will become familiar with as you walk the aisles past the various types of vintage cars lining the paddocks at Naval Base Coronado.  As part of its Fleet Week program in appreciation to the troops serving our country, the military holds an annual "Race at the Base" aka Coronado Speed Festival which takes place over an entire weekend.  The race course is setup at the airfield on the base, and this year marked the 15th time the event has been held. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

JCCS 2012, A Gathering of Vintage Japanese Automobiles

JCCS has a wide variety of classic Japanese vehicles that come such as these Toyota Celicas.

The Queen Mary in Long Beach, California is not only a haunted, floating tourist attraction.  It is also the location of several prolific car shows too.  One such show is the Japanese Classic Car Show or JCCS which takes place each year in early September. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nisei Fest Car Show 2012 Part II: Show, Go and Some Exotics

If this year's Nisei Fest was any indication, it was that the car tuning culture is still very much alive in Southern California.
In case you missed Part I of our coverage of the 2012 Nisei Fest car show, you can view the photos here:  Nisei Fest 2012 Part I

Even with the temperatures soaring in the mid 90s, it didn't prevent a steady stream of spectators from attending the show.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Nisei Fest 2012 Carshow: Show, Go and Even Some Exotics Part I

The Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ were some of the many cars on display at this year's Nisei Fest car show.

Nisei Fest is annual event held in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles, California in August each year.  The festival allows visitors to enjoy Japanese culture such as their music, food, martial arts, and dance.  Another attraction that accompanies the Nisei Fest is the car show.  The show is held in a lot adjacent to the festivities.  This year, there was a wide variety of cars present.  Everything from classic Chevrolet Impalas to exotics like the Audi R8 were on display. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tech Tip: Thermostat Replacement Interval

The summer driving season is in full swing, and while it is nice to be able to cruise the streets and hit the beach, we would like to remind you to check up on your car's cooling system.  The extra stress placed upon your car's cooling system during the summer means you should check up on the condition of the system, and more specifically the thermostat.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

GM Targets Younger Buyers Via MTV

In a bid to increase sales to younger drivers, GM is utilizing MTV's help.

Our friends at Hemmings Motor News first brought this to our attention.  It seems that in a bid to get younger people to interested in buying cars, GM is turning to MTV for assistance in the matter.  The same channel that brought so many lovely things to light like Jersey Shores, Laguna Beach and The Real World.  The New York Times reports that 46% of drivers between the age of 18-24 would choose having Internet access over a car.  The article also states that in 2008 less than 50% of eligible drivers 19 and younger had a driver's license, compared to 64% who did in 1998.  In 2009, drivers between the ages of 21-30 also drove 12% less miles than in 1995.

This article got us thinking, why is that the younger generation is apathetic or no longer enthusiastic about the automobile?  If the lower sales from this generation is enough to have GM scrambling to tap into MTV's marketing groups, perhaps it means that as a whole, the automotive market will shrink in the coming decades.

There are a few ideas that come to our mind as the cause for the downward trend in sales, or the automobile's fall in prominence to the "millennial" generation (those born between 1981-2000).

First, gasoline is a lot more expensive than it was 10 years ago.  On April 15th, 2002, the average price for unleaded gasoline in California was $1.61, and on April 16th, 2012, the average price of unleaded gasoline was $4.23.  (Source: California Average Gas Price) That's an increase of ~162%!  The minimum wage in California was $6.75 in 2002 and is currently $8.00, an increase of only 18.5%.  It's easy to see why it's less likely for younger drivers to be able to go anywhere.  Their buying power for fuel is significantly lower than their peers' from a decade ago.  The days of just cruising or going on an impromptu road trip are gone for the younger drivers. 

Another reason may be that cars are much more complex today than before.  Even as late as 2000, many vehicles did not have as many electronic sensors or items on the vehicle which replaced mechanical items.  Some of the systems today require a thorough understanding in electronics, and if a problem arises with one of the sensors, it will send the vehicle into a "limp" mode which renders the vehicle nearly inoperable.  There are some scanners available which will read basic fault codes, but other codes require a specific reader usually available only at the dealership.

Online gaming and the use of the internet is another factor.  With entertainment like video games, movie/video streaming, and Facebook easily accessible and without the headaches of maintenance, insurance and gas bills that go with vehicle ownership, it's not hard to imagine why teens would rather use their money on a nice cell phone, laptop or tablet instead. 

The decline of the automobile's prominence in the public's view as a status icon, and now more as an appliance might also be attributed to the focus automakers have to isolate the driver from the outside world.  Cars have become quieter, less attention is required to drive the car (i.e. lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic wipers, automatic transmissions, etc), more driver distractions (i.e. in-car entertainment systems or radios which require surfing menu after menu just to adjust something) and cars even have less instrumentation than before.  A case in point would be some of the economy cars which even lack a water temperature gauge!  It seems as if the experience of driving of a car is now watered down to be boring and mundane transportation for the masses.

So what are your thoughts?  Any opinions as to why cars lack appeal to the younger generation of drivers?  Is it the cars or has there been in a change in the times?  Anything you think manufacturers can do to get young people to want to drive?  Happy motoring and keep on driving!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Old School JDM, or New Car? Which would you want?

An article posted in the New York Times piqued our interest.  It was talking about how some people eschew owning a new car and import used Japanese cars which are over 25 years old.  This got us thinking, would you want to own a new car or something that's nearly as old as some of the readers of our blog?  Why would someone want to own such a car?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Toyotafest 2012 Old school meets new school

ToyotaFest 2012 featured many rare and unique Toyotas like this S800.

Turns out it great when the weather forecaster is wrong.  The clouds were nowhere to be seen, and it was nothing but sunshine, music and of course the cars.  This year's 17th annual Toyotafest held at the Queen Mary in Long Beach was a great event.  There were cars ranging from the ultra rare Toyota S800 coupe, to the newest Scion xB and tC on display.  Lexus was also on hand, letting attendees pick out a design to have screen printed onto a t-shirt for free. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Datsun West Coast Z Car Nationals 2012

150+ Z cars were on display at the 2012 West Coast Z Car Nationals.

On April 29th, many Datsun Z car enthusiasts converged to a small street in Orange County, California to celebrate the 15th annual West Coast Z car Nationals held by Motorsport Auto.  The Datsun Z specialists sponsored the event, and the gathering was open to any generation of Z car, from the early S30Z chassis Datsun 240Z, to the latest Z34 chassis Nissan 370Z.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

$750,000 for a nice used car

If you had $750,000 to spend on a car, what you want to buy?  Maybe some vintage Ferrari or a Bugatti Veyron?  Or how about this:  $750,000 used car 

Our friends at the CarScoop first grabbed our attention to this fine piece of machinery.  The car you see is on sale by its owner, and all we can say is, "Wow..."  Custom body work is great if helps accentuate the lines of the car, but this one seems like the owner didn't want to stop until he used up all his buckets of Bondo!  There's not much left of the original car, and quite frankly if you wanted to be noticed, why not start with an exotic super car like a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Bugatti?  Can't imagine that parking or driving this car would be very easy with the huge blindspots it has.  We were surprised that the asking price was so high too!  To each their own, but we think we'll pass on this car.  =) 

Ford Set to Release New Focus ST

2013 Ford Focus is set to be priced just under $25K.  Photo courtesy of Ford.
 If the Scion FR-S doesn't pack enough straight line punch to satisfy your need for speed, then Ford may have your answer. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Using Physics to Beat a Ticket

The next time your kid asks you, "When will I ever need this stuff?" about homework, tell them you can beat traffic ticket. =P  An article posted by ARS Technica stated that a San Diego physicist was able to avoid a ticket using physics to explain why he did not deserve the ticket.

The paper written by physicist Dmitri Krioukov is titled, The Proof of Innocence, and details why the officer mistakenly thought Krioukov had ran a stop sign.  The paper notes, "... we show that if a car stops at a stop sign, an observer, e.g., a police officer, located at a certain distance perpendicular to the car trajectory, must have an illusion that the car does not stop, if the following three conditions are satisfied: (1) The observer measures not the linear but angular speed of the car; (2) The car decelerates and subsequently accelerates relatively fast; and (3) There is a short-time obstruction of the observer's view of the car by an external object, e.g., another car, at the moment when both cars are near the stop sign."

So there you have it, a real world example of why it's important to stay in school. =)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Brake Override System May Be Implemented Soon

According to an article posted by Reuters, the NHTSA plans to pass a mandate stating that all vehicles must have a brake override system to prevent unintended acceleration.  The mandate could be enforced as early as 2014.

What does that mean for car enthusiasts?  Well, if you're like some rally car drivers who use the left foot braking technique, it will mean that you will have to change your driving style.  The brake override will completely disable the throttle and there will be no way to use the brakes and throttle in unison to balance the car at the limit.  No word either if this will apply when a driver is trying to do a heel-toe downshift either.  Unless there will be some kind of a reflash available in the aftermarket, or maybe a switch to disable the feature, this will limit the amount of corrections a driver can make while driving. 

This legislation may help drivers with less skill or awareness, but the downside is it will hinder drivers who rely on using the brakes in conjunction with the throttle during spirited driving.  In any case, if you ever find your vehicle stuck with the throttle wide open, don't panic!  Remain calm and shift your car into neutral and you will be able to slow down.  Alternatively, you can kill the ignition by turning the keys to the off position or on some cars with push button starters, you hold the button in for 3 seconds to stop the ignition.  Just remember that with no ignition, you lose the power brakes so you will have to press the brakes harder to stop.

S.B. 1224 California smog exemption

We've received word that the California Senate Bill S.B. 1224 which would have given emissions exemption status to vehicles up to 1981, has failed to pass through the committee by a vote of 4-3.  The bill is not completely dead however, as the committee has voted 9-0 to have the bill reconsidered. 

There is still time for those of you who have not written the members of the committee, to do so.  Please contact the committee members and ask for them to support the passage of the bill.  You can make a difference, and this is your chance.

More information along with the contact addresses for the committee members is here: S.B. 1224 SEMA

Nostalgia Cars: 11 Japanese Cars from the 1980s

Aaah, youth.  Where the only thing to worry about was whether or not Mom remembered to buy your favorite cereal, and bothering Dad to get out of bed so he could watch the early Saturday morning cartoons with you.

Here's a list of 11 Japanese cars which were usually modified and raced on the street by the local enthusiasts at the time.  Everybody will have a different list compared to another person, but why 11 cars and not 10?  Well, because we're just that awesome.  =)  Also, before you start sending us an email asking why there are cars that weren't available in the U.S. on the list, keep in mind that's where the author spent his youth.  The cars are listed in no particular order.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

California to reconsider smog exemption status for cars

For those of you who read our blog and do not reside in California, you may be familiar with California's testing of vehicle emissions.  In short, car owners are required to take their cars in for testing every 2 years for a visual and tailpipe emissions check.  California used to have a 30 year rolling exemption for cars until the year 2004.  Since then, any vehicle from 1976 and newer had to continue with the emissions testing, regardless of how well maintained or clean burning the car was.  Most of these older vehicles are not driven daily, and usually only taken to car shows and enthusiast gatherings making these cars' impact on the air quality miniscule. 

However, a new bill has been proposed to allow cars up to 1981 to be exempted from the testing.  The bill, S.B. 1224 is scheduled to be heard by the state's committee on April 10, 2012.  For car enthusiasts in California, this is a chance for your voice to be heard.  It is hard for some motoring enthusiasts to want to spend the money restoring a neo-classic car due to the hassle of the testing required every 2 years.  For cars which have model years which span between the 1975 cutoff and extend into the required testing years, many enthusiasts go for the exempted cars due to the ease of owning the exempted car.  The bill's passing may allow enthusiasts and restorers to reconsider the other years of the same model car, and that means more money will be put back into the local economy.  With the restoration and aftermarket car industry valued to be at $336 billion by 2015, wouldn't it be nice to let the state cash in on some of that money?  =) 

Please pass this along to any motoring enthusiasts you know in California and contact the senate committee to let them know to vote yes for the bill.  The details and contact information for the committee members are here:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mega Millions: What would you drive if you won?

With the Mega Millions lottery approaching $600 million before tomorrow's drawing, we thought it'd be fun to ask the question, "What car would you buy if you won the lottery?"  Would you go for the hyper exotic car like Ferrari's 599, or an ultra luxury car like the newest Rolls-Royce?  Perhaps a vintage Ford coupe from the 1930s? 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Scion Announces FR-S Pricing

Scion has released the pricing for their new FR-S sports coupe.  The 2 door car is slated to have a base price of $24,930.  This puts the FR-S squarely in competition with the Mazda Miata MX-5 and the Hyundai Genesis Coupe.  The Scion will be powered by a 200 horsepower flat 4 engine, and drivers will have their choice of a 6 speed manual transmission or 6 speed automatic with paddle shifters. 

The suspension setup will have the typical MacPherson struts up front, while the rear will have a double wishbone setup. 

Photos and additional specifications can be viewed here:  Scion FR-S

Friday, March 16, 2012

DIY Diagnosis: Loose Fan Belt or Serpentine Belt Sound

We were asked why someone's car was making a high pitched squealing sound when the person first started the car, or took off from a stop.  The most common cause of the squealing sound is a loose fan or serpentine belt.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Random Wrench Tip #6 Checking a Car for Body Filler

Another round of wrenching tips, and yep it deals with using a magnet again. =)  Aren't you glad these little things are so handy?

If you happen to be buying a used car, and you're not sure if the body has any body filler in it instead of sheet metal, take a piece of wax paper and a strong magnet up to the surface of the car.  The wax paper will keep the magnet from scratching the car, and as you hover the magnet over the car, if it does not become attracted to the car at all, there's body filler there.  This is handy when buying a car that's getting old, or if you live in an area prone to rust. 

Why check for body filler?  It's not as durable as using metal patches, and will eventually crack over time.  Keep in mind that body filler detection with a magnet won't work on plastic bumpers, or trim.  You will have to make a visual inspection yourself on both sides of the panel if possible.

Happy motoring and keep on driving!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Oil Change Intervals, How Long?

"Every 3,000 miles or 3 months, see you again!"  That's the line most people hear from quick lube shops when preparing to leave after an oil change has been done.  The mileage intervals many people hear are 3,000 miles between oil changes, which adds up to approximately 5 oil changes a year based on an average driving distance of 15,000 miles a year.  So is it a good practice or is it a waste of money?  We were asked what's our take on the debate of how often you should change your oil.  While everyone including experts, dealerships, or manufacturers will vary in terms of their stance on the subject, here's our take.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fiat + Maserati = Abarth 695 Tributo Maserati

The Fiat Abarth 695 Tributo Maserati.  Photo courtesy Fiat.

Have you ever wanted to own an exotic Italian car like a Ferrari, Maserati or Lamborghini but the prices always seemed too high?  Well, fear no more, as Fiat has collaborated with Maserati to produce the Abarth 695 Tributo Maserati (try saying that 5 times fast!)  The vehicle is based on the Fiat 500, but has increased power to 180 hp from the 1.4 liter engine, along with a unique interior.

Monday, February 27, 2012

More Gas Saving Tips! Improve Your MPG! Gas Tips Pt. 2

Seems like the $4+ a gallon for gasoline is really hitting home.  Our first round of gas saving tips were a hit, and we thank you all for your input.  We have received several requests for more tips on saving gas.  While these next few tips won't have as significant an impact on your mpg much, every little bit helps to keep a few more dollars in your pocket. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bolt on Turbo for Ford Mustang = 500+ Horsepower

Ford's Coyote V8 responds very well to forced induction.
The Coyote V8 powering Ford's Mustang GT is a proving to be a very stout motor.  Why?  You will find out shortly!  While most people would be content with the 412 hp the engine offers at the crank, there are some who appreciate having a bit more punch than what the car has in stock trim. Bolt on modifications can yield decent returns, but for serious power, forced induction is the way to go. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eric Hsu's R32 GT-R Enters World Time Attack for 2012

Some readers may know who Eric Hsu is, but for those who don't, he was one of the masterminds at XS Engineering.  His tuning expertise led XS to be recognized as one of the best tuning shops in America, and the car most people probably associate with him is the blue R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R time attack car.  For being a circuit based vehicle, the Skyline also had blistering straight line speed with it posting a best 1/4 mile run in the mid 10 second range. 

Hsu was part of the successful time attack team Sierra-Sierra, with the Mitsubishi Evolution placing 2nd last year.  Since the team did not have any plans to participate in this year's time attack series, Hsu has assembled his own team by partnering with ARK Designs.  The list of team members is like a Who's Who A-list of people in the tuning industry.  You can follow the build of the iconic R32 GT-R at MotoIQ's website.  We are definitely excited to see this vehicle take on the world's best, and will be watching this build closely.  The most surprising thing to us was the choice of the engine which will power this beast.  We thought it was going to get an engine starting with the letters LS.  Check it out though and you can bet this car will have a great season due to the awesome team building it up.  Good luck to Eric and his team! 

R32 Skyline Time Attack Build

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Random Wrench Tip #5 Magnetize Your Tools

If you're like us, there are times when you are in the middle of a job, and stuck trying to use a screwdriver or ratchet in a tight spot without being able to support the bolt or screw with your free hand.  More times than not, that bolt or screw can slip out and fall into a part of your car where it seems like a black hole exists.  This leads to lost time and frustration, and when you do find the fallen item, it's usually in a crevice where you need a magnet to get it back. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

$4 Gas Impact

We received an email question asking how much would $4 a gallon gasoline impact a driver's wallet.  Well, in short, it depends on how much you plan to drive!  That's probably not the answer our inquisitive reader is looking for, so we will take a look at one hypothetical situation.  Keep in mind, the variables will stay the same for simplicity's sake, so we will take a look at a person who would average 14,000 miles a year (most Americans drive that amount) with no fluctuations in gas prices.  Also, let's assume the vehicle needs 10 gallons per fill up each week.  This would give you a car that averages roughly 26.9 mpg which is what a typical 4 cylinder compact car averages. 

5 Basic Tips to Get More Mileage From Your Car

Gas is creeping up towards the $4 a gallon mark for the nation, and here in southern California prices for gasoline have already surpassed that mark with premium fuel heading towards $4.50.  Even with more fuel efficient cars being produced, $4 a gallon for gas is bound to put a strain on anyone's budget.  Here are a few tips to help the average driver improve their fuel economy without going to the extremes that some hyper milers go to. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Draw a VW Bug With 2 Ovals

Courtesy of the Jalopnik site, a way to draw a Volkswagen Beetle (the air-cooled one) using just 2 ovals.  Wish this knowledge was available years ago when The Love Bug came out.  Would have made 1st grade art class so much more fun!  =)

Video:  How to Draw a VW Bug With 2 Ovals

Driverless Cars Becoming More of Reality

On Wednesday, the state of Nevada became the first state to approve driverless vehicles to operate on public streets.  The state will allow companies to operate self driving vehicles, but the vehicle must have a minimum of 2 occupants, 1 of which can assume control of the vehicle if needed. 

NHTSA Releases New Guidelines for Distracted Driving

Voice activated dialing or making song requests to your radio while in a moving car may soon become something from the past if new guidelines proposed this year end up passing into law. 

In a press release by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed new guidelines concerning driver distraction which may impact the amount of in-car technology auto makers will provide for buyers. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Toyota Motor Corp. Tops in Vehicle Dependability

Toyota took top honors in a reliability report by J.D. Power and Associates.  Logo is registered trademark of Toyota.

J.D. Power & Associates released its findings on overall vehicle quality for cars from the model year 2009.  The report was made from a sample size of 31,000 vehicle owners with 3 years of ownership of a vehicle from 2009. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

EV Cars Tax Credit Increase Proposed, Are EV Cars a Solution to the Future?

In an effort to increase the amount of electric vehicles on the road, the Obama Administration announced it would like to increase the current tax credit for EV cars from $7,500 to $10,000.

An article by the Detroit Free Press states President Obama would like to see "...1 million advanced-technology vehicles on U.S. Roads by 2015."  The proposal also includes a recommendation for increasing staff members to continue loans for advanced vehicle manufacturing.  There was no word on how much the tax credit would affect the government's budget. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chevy vs. Ford: Mustang GT500 will go head-to-head with the Camaro ZL1.

580 hp ZL1. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet.
650 hp GT500. Photo courtesy of Ford.

Chevrolet Camaro versus Ford Mustang.  The battle between the two cars has gone on ever since the first '67 Camaro rolled off the dealership lots.  Countless grudge races at the dragstrip, race track and on the streets has never ended the debate of which is better, and both the Mustang and Camaro have their die-hard fans. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Forbes Magazine 10 safest small cars

Driving a smaller car is becoming a reality for many drivers due to the rising cost of fuel.  Courtesy of Isaac Newton, we know that larger cars will fair better than smaller cars in the event one of them meets the other.  Forbes Magazine released their 10 best list of safe small cars.  The cars listed have excellent safety standings, and although we can't say they are all considered to be affordable to everyone, they do have excellent safety features. 

Here's the link:  10 Safest Small Cars

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cars With No Lights at Night.

Look hard enough and you'll notice the absence of any tail lights on the truck.

We can all agree technology is great.  Without it, we would still be stuck in the stone age.  However, while technology has made life easier, it can make some people forget how to perform a task that used to be routine.  One of these tasks is on the road with drivers forgetting to turn on their headlights at dusk. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

California traffic violation fees increased

Traffic violation fees to increased this year.
We know the economy isn't quite on its own two feet yet, and with many states facing budget shortfalls, it's only inevitable that the lack of funds will need to made up somehow.  For Californians, the state has chosen to target a number of traffic citations fines to increase. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Toyota Annouces Prius c Pricing

Toyota's Prius c is priced under $19K.  Photo courtesy Toyota

There is no doubt that hybrids are becoming more mainstream in America each day.  While we here at Car and Writer prefer vehicles with an emphasis on maximum cornering and driving enjoyment, we do recognize that others prefer vehicles with mpg numbers that are well above the nation's current combined average of 27.2 mpg. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nissan 370Z receives updates for 2013

2013 Nissan 370Z receives updates.

Nissan has debuted the 2013 370Z at the Chicago Auto Show.  The 370Z's most notable updates are a new front and rear fascia, with vertical daytime running lights on the front bumper.  On the lower part of the rear bumper, sharp eyed observers will notice the black plastic square in the middle has been replaced by a red reflector. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Fiat 500 Abarth pricing announced for U.S. market

Fiat announced the price for its much anticipated 500 Abarth.  The starting price of the vehicle is said to be $22,000 for the car excluding the destination fee.  If the fee stays the same amount as the basic 500's fee, it will be an additional $500 to the price. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Random Wrench Tip #4: Quck and Easy Makeshift Funnel

If you've ever had the unfortunate experience of having to add fluids to your car at the side of the road or in a parking lot away from home without a funnel, you know how frustrating it can be to keep the fluids from spilling all over your engine bay.  The ordeal can be especially maddening when the fluid happens to be brake fluid because it will quickly damage any painted surface. 

Fear not, as this random wrench tip will make you feel like MacGyver in no time!

Friday, February 3, 2012

New Car Prices Up, Incentives Down

A recent article by the Wall Street Journal stated the sales of automobiles in the U.S. increased by 11% last month versus the same time frame last year which was published in a report from J.D. Power and Associates.  The firm also noted that the average price of an automobile rose from $25,505 in 2008 to $28,341, an 11.1% increase. 

Surprisingly, the amount of discounts and rebates being offered by manufactures has decreased.  The average amount of incentives for new cars has dropped by $338. 

The article can be viewed here:  WSJ

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Slice of Americana Pie: Just Beyond the Las Vegas Strip

The Valley of Fire's signature red-orange sandstone color.  Photo courtesy of Yumiko Boreham.
Las Vegas is without question a very popular tourist spot.  Many people go there to indulge in a bit of gambling, shopping and endless partying, but what's there if you want to travel beyond the glitz and glamor of the main strip?  Perhaps it's because you have grown tired of the one trick pony which Las Vegas seems to be, or you may have some little ones in tow.  If you enjoy experiencing a little Americana and viewing petroglyphs, your destination is approximately 45 minutes northeast of Las Vegas.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

U.S. News - Best 2012 Cars for Families

U.S. News & World Reports released their top vehicles for families for 2012.  The report highlights one winner each vehicle category based on what the news company states as, " provide the safety, features, and ownership experience today's families demand."

In total, there are 17 winners with Honda and Ford taking the most accolades, being winners in 4 categories.  The list of winners for families can be viewed here:  2012 Best cars for Families.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Scholarship opportunity: Buick awarding 1,100 scholarships to students

Auto manufacturer Buick is giving high school seniors, and undergraduate college students the chance to ease the financial burden of a college education.  The scholarship program titled Buick Achievers Scholarship Program is open to a select list of college majors.  The company is offering 1,100 scholarships to eligible students, with 100 of the scholarships being worth $25,000.  The remaining 1,000 are worth $2,000 each and can be renewed each year by reapplying for the scholarship.

In this era tightening budgets and cuts on education, we are pleased to see Buick taking the initiative to recognize the value of our nation's future leaders.  The deadline to apply for the scholarship is February 29, 2012. 

For more information on how to apply for the scholarship:  Buick Achievers Scholarship Program

Random Wrench Tip #3: Easier spray painting

If you're like us and need to the good ol' spray cans once in a while, you know what a pain it is to achieve a decent spray pattern from the cans.  This is especially true when it is cold outside.  Even if you constantly shake the cans to mix the paint up, you still get some awful spray patterns.  One method to reduce the blotches and achieve a better spray pattern is to heat the cans above the ambient temperature. 

An easy way to do this is to take heat enough water to cover the cans if they are placed in a small tub or container.  The water can be heated to about 110-120 degrees, and then place the cans in there for about 15-20 minutes.  Once you remove the cans, the spray pattern should be better and a bit more even.  As you use the can, it will cool down, but you can swap it for a warmer can and put the old one back in the water to reheat it. 

Note:  Take care not to overheat the cans as they may leak or explode, which would require you to clean up a mess!  Also, don't heat the cans over an open heat source, as they may explode.  Only use the water bath. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Random Factoid #3: 24 Hours of LeMans

The answer to our trivia question posted on Twitter (@carandwriter) and Facebook is:  Mazda, with their 787B race car.  The car used a rotary engine to take the win in 1991, and the FIA subsequently banned the use of rotary engines in competition use.

The 787B started the race in 19th place, and completed a total of 362 laps.  The Mazda used a 4 rotor version, with a claimed output of 700hp at 9000 rpm. The 787B is the only win from a Japanese manufacturer in the LeMans race. 

To read more about this highly celebrated race car:  Mazda 787B

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tech: Name That Engine Exhaust Sound

V12 engine of a Lamborghini.

Vroom, Vroom!  The familiar rumble of a modified car starting up or revving its engine will usually turn a few heads in the direction of the sound.  For many car enthusiasts, adding a freer flowing exhaust is one way to increase the joy of driving their vehicle.  Being able to hear the exhaust note of the engine helps to facilitate the sensation of sportiness in a vehicle, and to some drivers it is enough to take the place of their radio on drives through back country roads.  Cars come in all sorts of engine configurations, displacement and in either turbocharged, supercharged, or naturally aspirated guise.  In the city you have most likely heard inline 4 cylinders, V6 engines and V8 engines on the road, but some of the other popular configurations are the rotary (Wankel), flat 4 and 6 engines, and inline 6 cylinder engines. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rolex 24 this weekend

The Audi R8 will be one of many cars participating in this year's Rolex 24 race.  Photo courtesy

The 50th running of the Rolex 24 is scheduled this weekend in Daytona.  The race will start at 3:30 EST Saturday and finish at 3:30 Sunday.  Driver Scott Pruett will be looking for the chance to place his name in the record books as he attempts to tie the record of 5 victories.  Fans of the X Games will recognize Travis Pastrana as one of the drivers taking part in the race. 

For more info on the race, visit:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tech: Dynos, the useful tuning tools for cars

A Nissan 350Z is set to spin the rollers on a dyno.
Spend enough time at a race track, car meet or even with a couple car enthusiasts and you are bound to hear the word "dyno" come up.  This isn't in reference to the bygone era of our reptilian oil suppliers' fossilized bones, but rather to a device which many people use to see how much horsepower and torque their vehicle is putting down to the drive wheels.  Dyno is the short term for dynamometer.  Today's discussion will give you an overview of the basics of dynos and their usefulness. 

Bosch set to acquire SPX Corporation's automotive division

Chances are if you've taken a look at the oxygen sensor on your car, the brand is most likely Bosch.  The German engineering company makes plenty of aftermarket auto parts, and is paving the way to increase its presence in the U.S.  Bosch has announced they are buying the Service Solutions sector of SPX Corporation.  Bosch is reportedly buying the sector for $1.15 billion, and the deal is awaiting regulatory review.  The Service Solutions sector consists of tools, software and diagnostic equipment for the automotive industry. 

Random Wrench Tip #2: Making a handy parts tray

When working on a car or a house project, it's very easy to lose the screws, nuts and bolts that are needed to complete a task.  Perhaps you also might not be able to finish in time, or maybe you want to organize some of the small items in your garage.  Nothing is more frustrating than to be on a search for that final, elusive piece to the job! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Look: What's new

We have changed our look a bit!  You will now be able to have quicker access to some of our previous posts using the tabs at the top.  We have separated them into several categories:  DIY and tips for home mechanics, Technical information, car reviews and test drives, and car shows.  Not all posts will be archived in the tabs.  You can still use the search functions provided to find all posts though.  Here is a quick summary of the tabs:

1)  DIY info relates to any wrenching tips we provide and info you can use for yourself at home. 

2)  Technical information will have posts for any explanation about automotive subjects. 

3)  Car Reviews will contain posts about any car we test drive or review.  It will also contain links to car reviews posted by others too.

4)  Car shows will contain information and pictures about car shows, most links will have pictures.

This sums up our changes to to our blog!  If you have any suggestions, please drop us a line.  We are always looking out on how to better serve your needs! 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tech: Information on Tire safety, inflation and speed ratings

We recently received a question about tire information, and what exactly all the numbers mean on the side of the tire.  Seeing how those 4 pieces of rubber are the only thing connecting you, the driver, to the road, we will provide a basic overview of tires and tire safety for passenger cars.  It will not be an end-all-say-all about tires, but it should provide you with enough information to help your decision making for a future set of tires.  Grab a cup of coffee if you need to stay awake as class is in session!  =) 

What makes a tire?  Simply put, a tire is constructed of mixture of rubber and silica compounds, with nylon or steel belts under the main tread to provide strength.  Tire construction varies with manufacturers, so each tire from a company will have a slightly different makeup compared to another.  The best tire to buy will depend on a number of factors:  your style of driving, weather conditions, price, etc. 

Passenger tires generally have sipes and grooves in them which aid in wet weather traction and channel water away from the tire to provide maximum contact with the road surface.  Brand new tires usually have at least 8/32" of tread.  To be legal for street use, a tire must have a minimum tread depth of 2/32".  Looking at your tire from above, you may see little "bars" which are embedded between the grooves.  These wear bars are indicators that your tire is approaching the limits of tire wear.  Once these bars are even with your tread, your tire is worn out.  To see if your tire is ok, take a penny and stick it in the groove of your tire with Lincoln's head facing down.  If most of his head is covered by the penny, your tire has at least 2/32" of tread left. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

California Cruisin': Woodies by the beach!

It's winter time and the air is chilly and the days are short, so why not warm up with some thoughts of spring and summer?  Sunshine, barbeques, and surfing come to mind for those of us out here in California.  It's also a time when many auto enthusiasts go cruising: Meeting up with people who have similar interests and going for a drive.  California has a large number of auto clubs with thousands of motoring fans who cruise every year and hold meetings at various locations throughout the state.  By pure chance, I stumbled across one that was taking place the same day after a national Datsun Z car meet in Orange County last year.  I had decided to take the scenic route home and was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).  It was near Dana Point, at the Doheny state beach that the rumble of V8 engines caught my attention.  Here's what I came across:
One of many Woodies on display at the Doheny State Beach meet.

Woodies are a type of vehicle with as you guessed it, are partly constructed with hardwood, generally the doors.  These vehicles were very popular during the 1930s-50s before safety standards rendered them obsolete.  There were cars produced during the 60s with graphics imitating the look of the actual woodies.  However, even cars as recent as the PT Cruiser had simulated graphics on the side of the car emulating Woodies which shows how they still influence the style of contemporary cars. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Motoring Evolution: Toyota's take on remembering its roots

1957 was a year when the Chevrolet 150, 210 and Bel Air models with the tail fin styling were very popular with the general public.  It was also the year many Elvis fans claim was his most pivotal in propelling him to become the "King" of Rock and Roll.  However, 1957 was also significant for a company from Japan.  This company introduced their first vehicle to the U.S. called the Toyopet Crown.  It's been nearly 55 years (officially on Oct. 31st this year) since the first Toyota drove onto U.S. streets, and quite a bit has changed for the company from their early days. 

The original Toyopet Crown.

The Toyopet Crowns were powered by 1.5 liter 4 cylinder engine with approximately 60 horsepower, and it simply was not able to provide enough power to maintain speed on the highways.  The car had a MSRP of $2300, which was expensive for a manufacturer with no previous history.  (Average vehicle prices were $2200)  Needless to say, the Toyopets did not sell well, and it was not until 1965 that Toyota began to make an impact on the U.S. auto market.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Your first car, what was it?

Nissan recently posted a question on their Facebook page asking when was your first time driving a Nissan.  This got the ball rolling and the question we would like to ask is:  What was your first car, and what are your memories of learning to drive?  For many people, driving began in our teens with lessons beginning in a parking lot and lots of classroom instruction about safe driving. 

For this author, the first car I drove was a 1986 red Nissan Auster Rtt Euroforma edition. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

24 Hours of Dubai: Mercedes-Benz sweeps podium

Photo Courtesy

Photo courtesy

The 24 Hours of Dubai has ended, and Mercedes-Benz has swept the podium.  The SLS AMG GT3 race cars took 1, 2, 3, and 7th to round out the top ten finishers.  The BMW Z4 driven by Claudia Hurtgen's team finished 4th this year.  A punctured rear tire and penalty kept them from out of the winner's circle despite the best efforts of Hurtgen to catch back up to the leaders.  Only 8.7 seconds separated Hurtgen's Z4 from the 3rd place SLS.  Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon took 1st place, and the other 2 top spots were taken by the cars driven under Heico Motorsport's banner.  The margin of victory for the winner was a mere 2 laps after 24 hours of racing with the Black Falcon team completing 628 laps total. 

The Racing Divas did not win their class (A2) this year finishing 4th.  Besaplast Racing took the win for the A2 class in their BMW Mini.  The Gran Turismo Academy team finished in 3rd place for the SP2 class, which is impressive considering 2 drivers were in their rookie race fresh out of the academy.  The all gamer team completed 532 laps.

For the complete list of the results:  2012 24 Hours of Dubai results

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lexus LFA (roadster?) and Toyota 86 (Scion FRS)

Photo Courtesy Lexus

The Tokyo Auto Salon is currently going on, and along with the abundance of aftermarket companies' tuning parts on display, a number of vehicles are displayed too.  Some cars even give demonstrations in a lot adjacent to the show. 

BTCC: British Touring Car Championship Neal vs. Plato for 2012

Photo courtesy
The most heated rivalry in the British Touring Car Championship series is between drivers Matt Neal and Jason Plato.  The two have had on and off track exchanges, with the most notable being at Rockingham. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Random Factoid #2: 3rd Eye Brake Light

Here's an answer to another recent trivia question:  In what year did the U.S. government mandate that 3rd eye brake lights be installed on new passenger cars? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

24 hours of Dubai - Going for History

The Racing Divas will participate in this year's race.  Photo courtesy

Beautiful Dubai.  Photo courtesy

The 24 hours of Dubai endurance race is set to take place in about 34 hours from now.  The race features a variety of classes of cars who will be vying for the win.  Racing for 24 hours is tough enough, but to combine darkness with speeds well in excess of 120 mph, and you can start to imagine how rough the conditions are on the drivers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Linking to Facebook easier in upcoming Mercedes Benz models

Mercedes-Benz will have drivers connecting to Facebook and Google much easier starting with their 2013 SL model line.  The technology is called mbrace2, and MB plans to incorporate the technology into most of their vehicles. 

More details here:  mbrace2 from Mercedes-Benz

Monday, January 9, 2012

Scion offering 86 new FRS vehicles

Readers know we are very excited for the soon to be on sale Scion FRS sports coupe.  We have great news for those that are as excited as we are about the car:  Scion has announced they are giving people the chance to be one of the first owners of 86 new coupes (which coincides with the name used for the car in Japan although badged as a Toyota).  For a chance to be one of the few lucky individuals who can win, visit the following link on January 12th, 2012 at 12pm EST:  Scion FRS First 86

Entry time is limited to only 8 hours and 6 minutes after that, so don't be caught sleeping (literally for those on the east coast)!

Tell your friends and spread the word.  Who knows, if you don't win maybe your friend who does will let you drive the car!  Happy motoring and keep on driving!

Editor's note:  Please note that at this time, it seems the vehicles are for lucky pre-order customers.  We apologize for any confusion.

Detroit Auto Show NAIAS Unveilings

The Detroit Auto Show or NAIS (North American International Auto Show) is where many manufacturers unveil their new cars or concepts.  This year's show is no disappointment. 

Audi has unveiled their new S4 and Q3:  Audi S4 and Q3

Dodge has unveiled their new Dart, which can be seen on their Facebook page:  Dodge Dart

Nissan has a new concept for the Pathfinder on display:  Nissan Pathfinder Concept

Porsche has debuted a new Cabriolet to the 911 lineup:  911 Cabriolet

Cadillac has a new ATS joining their current offerings:  Cadillac ATS

There will be more releases as the show continues, and we will try to keep track of everything going on.  Happy motoring and keep on driving!

As things are released throughout the day today, we will update this blog:

Lexus has shown their LF-LC hybrid concept vehicle:  Lexus LF-LC Concept

Ford has a redesigned Fusion coming in 2013:  2013 Ford Fusion

Acura has unraveled the covers off its NSX concept:  Acura NSX

Mercedes has shown their new SL Roadster (Pictures & text courtesy of AutoBlog): SL Roadster

Chevrolet has a new concept car called the  130R and 140R:  Chevrolet 130R

Friday, January 6, 2012

Random Factoid #1: 1st car manufacturer to feature 3 point safety belts?

The answer to our tweet on Twitter is Volvo in 1959 with their PV544.  The original trivia question is:  What vehicle manufacturer was the first to introduce 3 point safety belts in their cars? And in what year?

You can follow us on Twitter @CarandWriter, or Facebook too.

2013 Mustang Boss: Green with envy?

We posted some pictures of the 2013 Mustang GT that was on display at the recent San Diego Auto Show, and courtesy of the gurus at Jalopnik, here's a sneak peek at the Ford Mustang Boss 302 in a new color, green!  This green is very different from the darker green used on the commemorative Bullitt Mustangs in the past.  It almost looks like a spearmint green to us.  We are huge fans of the Boss Mustang.  With the amount of performance available from the Boss Mustang, it is sure to make everyone green with envy as you drive by. 

Photo Courtesy of

Here's a link to the gallery of the new Boss Mustang in what Ford calls Gotta Have it Green:  2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302

Random Wrench Tip #1: Making tape sticky again

Here's a tip you can try if you have some old duct tape or masking tape lying around that has lost its stickiness.  Put the tape in your microwave for a few seconds, usually around 5-10.  This will allow your tape to regain some of its stickiness and you will be able to use it again.

Another thing you can do is wrap some of the tape on a slightly rounded bolt to allow your wrench or socket to have more torque.  It might just be enough to help you get that bolt loose.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Resolutions? Nope, but there are new vehicles laws this year.

It's a new year, and along with the new year resolutions to better ourselves, there have are vehicle regulations and laws going into effect this year.  (Note this will apply for California residents)  So what are some of the new laws?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Motoring Evolution: Review of the Kia Optima SX Turbo

Mention the name Kia to people, and you will probably hear a response related to the company's current campaign ads with the dancing hamsters and the Soul.  Cute, but what if you're not into the trendy, boxy look and you want something a bit more sporty?  Yes, you can opt for a vehicle with 2 doors and a cramped rear seat, but for practicality's sake you want to keep to something with 4 doors.  Maybe an entry level basic sport luxury sedan, or fire breathing all wheel drive rally car for the street?  No on either accounts?   

San Diego Auto Show 2012 Coverage

Happy new year motorists and enthusiasts!  The new year has started, and the San Diego Auto Show has ended.  While nothing new was unveiled at the show, there was plenty to see.  The venue was very crowded too, with show goers, vendors, and manufacturers crowding the floor.  Click below to view the photos from the show!