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 grand-am.com

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:  http://www.grand-am.com/

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 creventic.com

Photo courtesy creventic.com

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 automobilsport.com
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 racingdivas.nl

Beautiful Dubai.  Photo courtesy creventic.com

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 Jalopnik.com

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!