Monthly Archives: July 2012

Ford Makes Big Recall of Escape SUVs

According to Paul Eisenstein of the Detroit Bureau, Ford Motor Co. is advising owners of an estimated 11,500 2013 Escapes not to drive their shiney all-new SUVs until they can be repaired by dealers due to potential fuel line leaks that could cause fires.

This is the second recall involving Ford’s 2013 Escape crossover utility vehicle.  Previous Escape versions are also under investigation due to concerns about potentially sticky accelerator assemblies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just announced the beginning of an investigation covering 730,000 Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs from the 2001 through 2004 model years.  Those Escapes experiencing sticky accelerators may be affected due to the result of repairs made after an earlier recall. No decision has yet been made on whether to order a recall of those vehicles.

Specifically targeted in this latest 2013 Escape recall  are those models equipped with Ford’s 1.6-liter engine.  Owners of other versions, although not involved in the recall, are asked not to drive their vehicles until repairs can be made.  Dealers will provide a complementary loaner vehicle, as well as handling the transporting of the effected vehicles to service bays for repairs.

Unlike most recalls where automakers may take up to a month to notify owners and begin repairs, Ford is taking immediate action, according to Ray Nevi, the assistant director of the automaker’s safety operations. “Our intensive investigation and testing has identified the area of concern, and we are moving as quickly as possible to repair vehicles for our customers. In the meantime, it is extremely important that affected customers not ignore this recall and immediately contact their dealer.”

There have not been any injuries  reported thus far, but it is not known how many fires may have occurred as a result of the potential fuel line leak. However, Ford is urging owners to act quickly and not wait for the normal notification process.  Owners of the 11,500 2013 Escapes covered by the recall should contact Ford’s customer relations center at 1-866-436-7332 – or go online to www.fordowner.com for information on how to proceed.

Although the auto industry has seen an increase in the number of recalls in recent months, this week’s headlines could prove a setback as Ford seeks to convince motorists that it has resolved recent quality issues that have left it lagging behind the industry average in such well-tracked studies as the 2012 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey.

 

Women-Drivers.com goes Mobile

Pittsburgh, PA – Car dealer review website Women-Drivers.com has announced that to assist car dealers in getting consumer reviews while the “iron is hot”, the company has added a mobile platform that allows women to write reviews directly in the showroom or service lane.

The launch of this location-based mobile technology is being accompanied by the “WE CARE. Scan-Review-Share” campaign. Dealers receive personalized table cards with QR codes that are given to salespeople, the F and I manager, the Service manager, and Cashier. They are also left in the service lounge area. Women with smart phones simply scan the QR code and are directed to their dealership’s review page.

With 4 in 10 customers projected to own smart phones by the end of this calendar year, it is important for all dealers to tap into this market now. The mobile site provides more freedom and flexibility for customers who have a few extra minutes when buying a car or having their car serviced. It’s an opportune situation for a dealer to maximize a positive experience by asking women to write a review about their purchase, service, or browsing experience.

“Having an in-store mobile option to get reviews from this powerful buying demographic helps us track our customer service in the form of real-time reviews,” explains Victor Olive, General Manager of Day Chevrolet in Murrysville, Pa.  “While customers have good intentions to write a review when they go home, many don’t always get around to it. Now, with a little extra time in our store, we welcome the opportunity for them to share their experience.”

Dealers use this site to build trust and transparency and to achieve the Certified Women-Drivers Friendly™ status. These dealers receive a number of no-cost benefits including:

  • SEO Optimization
  • Facebook Integration of positive reviews to build social community
  • Facebook “Like” button added to dealer’s review page
  • Ability to respond, thank and engage each reviewer
  • Top placement in search engine
  • Certified logo for promotional use

To use the site visit: m.women-drivers.com.

Japanese car makers prove driving force on road to economic recovery in US

By: Dani Ben-Ari

Although there seems to be little to celebrate when it comes to the economy here, Bloomberg News reports that, “rebounding auto production and sales are bright spots this year amid tepid job growth and wavering consumer sentiment.”

In fact, Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.’s North American plants, are now leading an industry-wide assembly surge that is boosting the sagging US economy with Honda, showing a 75% surge in output. Toyota’s production has risen 66% , followed by Nissan Motor Co. All are now aiming to keep raising North American assembly and parts purchases to soften losses from the yen’s sustained strength.

“The Japanese currency traded yesterday at 78.8 yen to the dollar, compared with 86.6 yen to the dollar two years ago and 121.9 yen five years ago. The stronger yen makes it harder for companies to make vehicles in Japan and sell them profitably in the U.S., which encourages more North American manufacturing,” states Gus Faucher, a senior economist in Pittsburgh for PNC Financial Services Group Inc. “There is a lot of pent-up demand for autos, and it’s likely to stay strong for the next few years.”

Industry experts also point out that more than 87% of the Honda and Acura models sold in the United States during the past twelve months were made in North America. In addition, Honda a record 894,196 cars and light trucks were built by Honda in North America in the first half of 2012, up from 510,658 a year ago, while Toyota produced 944,570 vehicles (a 374,429-unit increase from 2011’s first half).

“Barring any unforeseen developments, it’s conceivable” that Toyota will make a record number of vehicles in North America this year, added Mike Goss, a spokesman for the automaker’s Erlanger, Ky.-based manufacturing and engineering unit for the continent.

Other manufacturers also showing growth in production include GM, which built 6% more vehicles during the first half of this year, and Chrysler Group LLC, which raised production by 23%. Ford Motor Co.’s output also increased by 3%.

In addition, Automotive News reported that “Nissan, is adding 1,000 workers to make Sentra small cars at its Canton, MS, plant, and is building a third auto-assembly factory in Mexico, raised production 21%, while affiliates Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. have expanded assembly at plants in Alabama and Georgia a combined 18%.”

Car buyers might be interested to note that so far this year, the top selling cars throughout the country include” the 2012 Ford Fusion; 2012 Ford Focus; 2012 Toyota Camry; 2012 Subaru Impreza; 2012 Lincoln MKZ; 2012 Ford Mustang; 2013 Dodge Dart; 2013 Infiniti G Coupe; 2013 Ford Mustang; and the 2013 Scion FR-S.

*Changing your car’s oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles is no longer the rule of thumb. Newer models use synthetic oil which can last up to and beyond 7,500 miles. Checkyournumber.org provides the recommended oil change interval for over 2000 models.

*Be sure to clean up your car’s battery this summer. The heat plays havoc on car batteries, often causing them to fail-not in winter months as most of us think. Clean and tighten the cable connections, add distilled water if need be. If it’s over four years old, have it tested. 

*Tires tend to lose air in warm weather, and reduce fuel economy so be sure to check them regularly and keep them inflated to the proper PSI.

*The average age of today’s on-the-road vehicle is 10 years. No longer do we need to trade our car in after 50,000-60,000-miles. In fact, many newer models don’t even need “tune-ups” until 100,000-miles.

*Several grocery store chains today are offering gasoline rewards programs. Buy up to $300 worth of gas and you’ll get 5 cents off a gallon of gas.

*Need a car repair? Check online at repairpal.com for free quotes.

*The least expensive vehicles to insure include minivans, pickup trucks and SUVs. According to insure.com, the cheapest insurance rates can be found on these types of vehicles.

Source: AARP Magazine, July-August 2012

Teen Drivers and Tire Rack

More and more efforts are being made to accommodate teen drivers in learning how best to maneuver different driving scenarios. One such program, sponsored in part by Tirerack.com, Tire Rack Street Survival is a “hands-on” driving experience in real-world situations! Participants may use their own car to learn about its handling limits and to control it.

At Tire Rack Street Survival classes, students will become more observant of the traffic situation they find themselves in. They will learn to look far enough ahead to anticipate unwise actions of other drivers. As the students master the application of physics to drive their cars, they will make fewer unwise driving actions themselves. They will understand why they should always wear their own seat-belts, and why they should insist that their passengers wear seat-belts, too!

Tire Rack offers a one-day class, with most classes starting early in the morning and ending late in the afternoon (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. or 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). The cost of the course is $75 per person and the minimum and maximum age a student can be to participate in a Tire Rack Street Survival school are ages 15 to 21 years. Students must have either a license or permit.

The requirements of “permitted students include the following:

*If the permit requires a licensed driver in the car at all times.

*If a parent is required to be in the car in addition to this, then this student will not be allowed as it would require a passenger in the back seat of the car and that is considered too hazardous for the exercises in the school, and some times it is physically impossible.

*Drivers must be a minimum of 15 years old (regardless of the minimum age for the state issuing the permit) and have had a permit for a minimum of ½ the time required by the state holding jurisdiction over that permit, (not the state that the school is located in) i.e. if the permit must be held for 6 months before the driver can take their driving test, then the student must have had the permit a minimum of 3 months. We recommend that they have driven at least 25 hours before coming to the class.

Students will need to provide their own vehicle, or the one that they most frequently drive on a daily basis. If siblings are attending an event together and the car they both drive on a daily basis is the same, most certainly. SUVs, SAVs, Trucks, Jeep-type vehicles, Minivans and other High Center of Gravity vehicles (HCG’s) will need to be verified before being allowed to participate. Older HCG’s without electronic stability control (not just the electronic traction control) will not be accepted.

According to the Tire Rack Street Survival crew, these vehicles can prove to be poor choices for first-time drivers, especially small SUVs and trucks. Early models without traction and/or stability control have statistically proven to be unfortunate choices. These vehicles tend to be light in the rear end and thus have a tendency to “fishtail” during panic stops or when the road is slick. Even with four-wheel drive, pickups and SUVs are less stable, take longer to stop, and are generally more dangerous for a new driver. Most are top heavy and can tip or roll over under severe maneuvers. Less-experienced drivers may be more likely to use abrupt steering motions, which can cause rollovers. In addition, some older model SUVs and trucks are not rated the way cars are rated. These vehicles are not required to meet the same crash standards as a passenger car.

Tire Rack’s Street Survival classes’ goal is to conduct the safest and most rewarding experience for teen drivers. Approved HCG Vehicles with electronic stability control may still be limited with respect to some of the exercises in which they are allowed to participate based on local venue conditions.

As a sponsor of the Tire Rack Street Survival Classes, BMW Car Club of America Foundation does not require that students drive a BMW. While the program cannot require that parents attend the class, it is strongly suggest that they do so. Tire Rack encourages parents to sit in the classroom sessions and listen to the presentations. There are things that parents can learn from experiencing the classes with their teen driver.

Some of the other sponsors for Tire Rack’s Street Survival Classes include the Sports Car Club of America Foundation, Michelin, ZF Lemforder, and State Farm Mid-Atlantic Rregion.

The Street Survival staff also believes that the importance of driving education and seriousness of this issue is reinforced when new teen drivers see their parents taking an active interest in what they are doing.

Helmets are required at the schools. All exercises are low-speed events and coaches are in the student’s car at all times during these exercises. It is suggested that parents check with their auto insurance provider to determine whether/not classes for your teen may be covered or make him/her eligible for a reduced rate. Many auto insurance companies do recognize Tire Rack Street Survival as an educational program that can count towards premium discounts.

For more information on Tire Rack’s Street Survival School, consult their website at www.streetsurvival.org. The cost is $75 per student and refunds will be issued for cancellations up to the Thursday before the event. You must contact the school registrar and/or the BMW CCA Foundation National Office no later than 5 PM EST on the Thursday before the scheduled school. Refunds will not be issued for cancellations after Thursday or for no shows.

School locations can be found online at www.streetsurvival.org.