Archive for April, 2012
In a given day, American law enforcement will issue an estimated 100,000 tickets for traffic violations. This translates into upwards of $6 billion in fines annually! In a recent geographical analysis, it was discovered that 10 metropolitan areas were responsible for a large majority of these tickets. Whether it’s the rapidly fluctuating speed zones of Austin, the free-for-all highways of Los Angeles, or the chaotic traffic of New York, exercising caution when driving around the cities of this list may just save you from the disheartenment and cost of a traffic ticket.
Rogers Auto Group’s hometown of Chicago came in eighth on the list. Speeding tickets aren’t so much the culprit due to the Windy City’s high traffic congestion, but red-light cameras issue enough tickets to earn our town this undesirable distinction. In fact, Chicago has the most red-light cameras among all cities in the U.S., which doesn’t help your odds when trying to blaze through that yellow light. Drive smart and save your daring feats for cities not on this list.
1. New York, NY
2. Los Angeles, CA
3. Houston, TX
4. Las Vegas, NV
5. Washington, DC
6. St. Louis, MO
7. Orlando, FL
8. Chicago, IL
9. Colorado Springs, CO
10. Austin, TX
A vehicle is a big investment, and while it’s important to tend to a maintenance schedule to keep your car running like new, don’t forget about your vehicle’s aesthetic needs and keeping it looking like new. Following a few simple tips can keep your car looking as fresh as when you drove it off the lot for many miles to come. Not only will you feel good about your vehicle, but maintaining its looks can go a long way in trade-in value as well.
1. Follow a regular cleaning schedule. It’s recommended to wash the exterior and vacuum the interior of your vehicle at least once per month, or more when environmental conditions warrant it. Regular cleaning maintains the finish of your exterior and prevents stains and buildup on the interior. It’s also recommended to immediately remove contaminants like bird droppings and tree sap, as these elements can permanently damage your finish if not tended to quickly.
2. Don’t eat, drink, or smoke in your vehicle. Eating and drinking in your vehicle can lead to crumbs, spills, and stains, not to mention lingering odors. Smoking in a vehicle can cause a permanent odor, which is not only unpleasant but can also reduce your car’s trade-in value.
3. Location, location, location. Park your car in a garage to protect it from the elements. If that’s not an option, parking out of the sun will prevent your paint from fading. When you take your vehicle out on the town, make a point of parking away from other cars to prevent unwelcome nicks and dings.
4. Repair blemishes promptly. Touch up paint chips and scratches as soon as possible to prevent rusting and paint discoloration in the future. Keep a similar watchful eye on the interior, tending to rips or tears on the upholstery and dashboard before the damage spreads and becomes more unsightly and costly to repair.
5. Protect your surfaces. Get your car polished and waxed a few times a year to keep the paint job in top shape. On the interior, seat covers and floor mats can keep your upholstery and carpets looking like new. If you travel with children or pets, washable seat covers for the rear can be a valuable investment.
Cars these days are offering more and more new technologies, and although the famous flying cars from the classic movie Back to the Future are still a bit out of reach, you’d be surprised at some of the futuristic auto technologies that will become standard in the next decade. While most of the budding technologies are safety-related, many of them will also help entertain you, keep you connected, and save money at the gas pump. MSN Autos predicts that these advancements will all be standard features by 2020. With that being the case, certainly flying cars can’t be that far off!
Collision-mitigation systems: A radar system senses when your vehicle is getting too close to an object or going too fast, and gives you a visual and auditory warning. Then the system either “precharges” your brakes to give them more power when you step on them, or tightens your seat belts and automatically applies the brakes.
Rearview cameras: The NHTSA recently proposed that rearview cameras become required by 2014. This technology allows the driver to see what’s behind the car on a screen in the dash panel. More advanced versions of this feature provide extras like 180-degree views and alerts if an obstruction comes into your path.
Pedestrian detection system and night vision: These technologies are offered on a select few vehicles at present, but are predicted to become standard on high-end vehicles by 2020 and available on more-mainstream vehicles for a grand or less.
Adaptive cruise control: This technology uses radar to help you keep a safe distance from the car in front as you cruise at highway speeds so that you don’t have to constantly hit the brakes and reset your cruising speed. It’s predicted to be integrated as a standard feature on vehicles by 2020.
Vehicle-to-vehicle communications: This technology is currently only in the conceptual stage, but the idea is for a vehicle to be able to transmit its location and recognize other vehicles surrounding it. The system would warn you of an oncoming car when you’d like to pass a vehicle on a country road, or alert you to a car about to blow through a red light, or tell you when a vehicle several cars ahead has stopped short.
Fuel efficiency upgrades: Technologies like electrification and regenerative braking systems will soon become more widespread as automakers step up to the increasing government-imposed fuel economy standards.
Advanced engines: Engines will become increasingly more fuel efficient in the next decade. We’ll see more hybrids, more “mild” hybrids such as Buick’s LaCrosse with eAssist, smaller engines, and transmissions with more gears. All to the end of increasing the fuel efficiency of your vehicle.
Lighter materials: A lighter car means a more fuel-efficient one, so automakers are experimenting with alternative materials from the standard steel and aluminum. Cars of the future will likely be comprised of carbon fiber, the strong, durable and ultralight material found in tennis rackets, bicycles and even airplanes. Using carbon fiber to reduce weight could improve fuel economy by 7%.
Bluetooth and more: While Bluetooth is available on many cars these days, it won’t be long before this is a standard feature on all vehicles, giving you hands-free connectivity to your music and contacts. Additional up and coming features include voice activated calls, radio, and navigation, along with technologies like reading text messages aloud so you can keep your eyes off your phone and on the road.
Connectivity: In-car Wi-Fi is fast on the rise, as are increasing technologies for a vehicle’s infotainment system, including Pandora radio, Facebook, and Twitter. If you’ve been waiting for apps to hit your vehicle, you shouldn’t have to wait much longer.
All things being equal, we’d like to think that most folks would choose a “greener” car — i.e. one that has less emissions and environmental impact — over a non-green car. After all, who wouldn’t want to help Mother Earth? But the fact of the matter in Chicago’s green car marketplace is that all things are not equal, particularly when it comes to price. Many of the greenest cars, like electric and hybrid models, have a cost factor that heavily outweighs any savings that can be recovered at the pump. And with Chicago gas prices on the rise, cost is a huge deciding factor.
But do you need to spend a fortune to be environmentally friendly? Forbes.com doesn’t think so, and they can prove it. Their analysts took the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s (ACEEE) “Greenest Vehicles” list and cross-rated it with base MSRP’s to determine the cars with the greatest environmental benefits for the money. In most cases, this of course also translates into the best fuel economy for the money, so consumers choosing these cars can feel good about being green while spending less green.
The ACEEE’s “Green” ratings did not factor in car cost, but instead used data from factors such as tailpipe emissions, fuel economy, emissions made during vehicle manufacturing, and disposal impact. Each car was assigned a “Green Score,” the highest rated being the Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle with a Green Score of 58 (MSRP $29,000). The average among all models was 35, with the least green cars scoring around 17.
Thanks to Forbes factoring in vehicle cost to the ACEEE’s green ratings, it’s easy to choose a car that’s as forgiving on the environment as it is on your wallet. All of Forbes’ picks had a Green Score of 46 or higher, well above the average of 35, with price tags under $18,000, over $10,000 less than the ACEEE’s greenest pick.
Commanding four slots in the list were models from Hyundai and Chevrolet. The Hyundai Accent and Hyundai Elantra had amongst the highest Green Scores and fuel economy ratings, and amongst the lowest MSRP, with the Accent in particular being the 2nd least expensive pick aside from the Smart ForTwo. The Chevrolet Sonic and Chevrolet Cruze also scored well in the list with impressive stats and price.
| Hyundai Accent
Green Score 50
| Hyundai Elantra
Green Score 49
| Chevrolet Sonic
Green Score 49
Green Score 46
1. Smart ForTwo (MSRP $12,490, 34/38 mpg, Green Score 53)
2. Hyundai Accent (MSRP $12,545, 30/40 mpg, Green Score 50)
3. Ford Fiesta (MSRP $13,200, 29/39 mpg, Green Score 49)
4. Toyota Yaris (MSRP $14,115, 30/38 mpg, Green Score 50)
5. Chevrolet Sonic (MSRP $13,865, 29/40 mpg, Green Score 49)
6. Scion iQ (MSRP $15,265, 36/37 mpg, Green Score 52)
7. Kia Soul (MSRP $13,900, 27/35 mpg, Green Score 47)
8. Mazda2 (MSRP $14,350, 29/35 mpg, Green Score 49)
9. Ford Focus (MSRP $15,365, 28/40 mpg, Green Score 49)
10. Hyundai Elantra (MSRP $15,345, 29/40 mpg, Green Score 49)
11. Fiat 500 (MSRP $15,500, 27/34 mpg, Green Score 49)
12. Honda Fit (MSRP $15,175, 27/33 mpg, Green Score 47)
13. Scion xD (MSRP $15,345, 27/33 mpg, Green Score 46)
14. Honda Insight (MSRP $18,350, 41/44 mpg, Green Score 53)
15. Chevrolet Cruze (MSRP $16,800, 26/38 mpg, Green Score 46)