2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Handling Concerns Resolved

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Chrysler’s executives and auto workers should, if they haven’t already, give themselves a collective pat on the back for the success of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The SUV has received widespread critical praise from the media and, more importantly to Chrysler, the attention of the buying public.

Besides some minor quips, the only big detractor for some car buyers may have been Consumer Reports’ alarming emergency handling test results. The vehicle “skittered” and “hopped” sideways in their lane-change test.

The problem dinged the SUV, down to an overall score of 66 (in the organization’s parlance, that’s still considered “Very Good”). The Hemi V-8 didn’t exhibit the same problems that the V-6-equipped models did.

Chrysler responded by sending engineers to review the consumer organization’s findings. By December, the automaker had developed a fix for the issue.

According to the service bulletin, the automaker asked dealerships to reprogram the electronic stability control with the latest software updates free of charge to the customer. The fix has also been applied to all unsold Grand Cherokee inventories (both V-6 and V-8 models). This was completed in January.

The reprogrammed electronic stability control performed much better in the emergency handling course, helping to improve the vehicle’s score to a 71.

Update: Chrysler fixes 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee handling problem (Consumer Reports)

2011|Jeep|Grand Cherokee

By Colin Bird | February 15, 2011 | Comments (8)

Crummy Economy Leads to Lower Gas Prices


If you're tired of hearing about how bad the economy is, we feel for you. We'd avoid all the downer economy stories if we could, but here's one that's impacting how we drive and how much gas will cost: In January, U.S. drivers bought 1% fewer gallons of gas than they did in 2007. That's the second consecutive month when there's been a decline in gas usage. Why is that a big deal? Gas use has risen an average of 1.6% every week for the past 10 years.

Experts point to the down economy as the reason for the reduction and conclude that lower demand will lead to less severe spikes in gas prices this spring and summer. Of course, we'd throw in the fact that half the country has been covered in snow for the past month or so as another reason people stayed off the roads and away from gas pumps. Whatever the reason, a more reasonable price hike when the weather turns nice sounds good to us. Let's hope people can afford to take their summer vacations by then.

High Prices Cut Gasoline Demand; Prices Could Drop (USA Today)

By David Thomas | February 8, 2008 | Comments (15)

1 Million Evenflo Infant Car Seats Recalled

Evenflo Discovery

A million Evenflo Discovery infant car seats were the subject of a voluntary recall by the company this week after testing showed the seats could break loose from their base in a collision. Testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovered the problem, which affects models numbered 390, 391, 534 and 552 that were manufactured between April 2005 and January 29, 2008.

The company will provide owners with a free dual-hook fastener that will fix the problem and keep the seat attached to its base. The company said there have been no reports of serious injuries or deaths due to the faulty seats. Owners should call Evenflo at 800-356-2229.

Testing finds Evenflo car seat risk; recall set
(Chicago Tribune)

By David Thomas | February 5, 2008 | Comments (1)

Georgia Emissions Tests, Toyota Prius Don't Mix


A poor 2004 Toyota Prius owner in Atlanta had a heck of a time getting his low-emission car to pass Georgia’s own emissions test. The computer running the test needs the car’s engine to run at idle to calculate a passing or failing grade for pollutants. Well, the Prius, being a hybrid, simply shuts the engine off, so there is no idle — that’s one of the reasons mileage numbers are so high for the Prius.

But Toyota’s ingenuity did nothing to alleviate the man’s pain at the station. The Prius failed the test three times, and it took days to get the issue resolved. Comment below on the irony of a state test to help improve air quality not being able to handle one of the cleanest machines on the road.

Earth-Friendly Prius Struggling to Overcome GA Emissions Glitch (Atlanta Journal Constitution via Consumerist)

By David Thomas | November 27, 2007 | Comments (9)

Gas Hits $5 a Gallon in California


One TV station in California is reporting a gas station in Gorda, Calif., south of Big Sur, is charging $5 for a gallon of gasoline. The sudden jump in gas prices — California’s usually the highest in the country and is averaging $3.37 as a state — is closely related to a rise in oil prices, which are nearing $100 a barrel. However, over the past few months the price of oil has steadily risen and gas prices have remained relatively flat. A few big oil companies posted large, billion-dollar profits last quarter, yet said one problem was that they didn’t raise gas prices quickly enough to counter higher oil costs.

California Gas Prices Reach $5 In Some Areas (KSBW via Jalopnik)

By David Thomas | November 8, 2007 | Comments (13)

$3 Gas: Just in Time for the Holidays


It was nice while it lasted, but our three-month, sub-$3-a-gallon gasoline vacation ended Monday when the national average went back above that costly line. Today the number is up to $3.024 nationally, with California topping all states at $3.287 a gallon.

The reason for rising prices is tied directly to skyrocketing oil prices, now above $90 a barrel. During the summer, when gas prices were high, sales of fuel-efficient cars also rose. We’ll have to see if that trend continues during winter months.

Oh, and which is the lucky state with the cheapest gas? New Jersey at $2.816.

Gas Price Tops $3 Again, a First for November (USA Today)

By David Thomas | November 6, 2007 | Comments (27)

Don't Call it a Recall: Toyota to Fix 600,000 Siennas


We’re not sure how Toyota can send a mailing to owners of Sienna minivans made between 2004 and 2006 to fix faulty front doors and not call it a recall, but that’s what they’re doing. Complaints about the doors malfunctioning — swinging freely instead of stopping at a certain threshold — have circulated on the internet for some time.

Now Toyota is offering to repair any Sienna up to 5 years old that has fewer than 100,000 miles on it. This includes Siennas that were bought used or are past their warranty period. Toyota will also reimburse owners who paid out of pocket to have the doors repaired.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel does a thorough job explaining the problems of real-life owners as well as Toyota’s work to fix the problem. They even interviewed Cars.com senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder. We’d like to see the problem considered a legitimate recall, and would also stress that Toyota is taking steps to give aid to customers.

Toyota to Cover Defect
(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

By David Thomas | October 24, 2007 | Comments (14)

Toyota Recalls 55,000 Floormats, Yes, Floormats


This has got to be the easiest-to-fix recall notice we can remember, even though the problems caused can be severe. Toyota is recalling 55,000 all-weather floormats because they can stick underneath the gas pedal, causing unwanted acceleration. It seems that complaints arose about the unintended acceleration in 2007 Lexus ES 350 sedans, but we’ve also heard similar complaints regarding the Toyota Prius.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is highlighting the recall because of the number of reported accidents — eight in the Lexus ES 350 alone. So what’s the problem? The all-weather mats are made of rubber, and if they aren’t properly clipped into place they can slide below the pedals and become stuck when the gas pedal is pressed. One owner reported reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph due to the problem. There were also incidents of owners and dealers “installing” the all-weather mats over the standard floor mats instead of replacing one with the other.

In total, 30,500 mats for the 2007 Lexus ES 350 and 24,500 mats for 2007 and 2008 Toyota Camrys will be recalled in November, with replacements given free of charge. There’s no word on other Toyota and Lexus models included in the recall. NHTSA suggests owners check to make sure their current mats are secured properly and are not resting on top of the standard mats.

Toyota Recalls 55,000 Floor Mats
(The Detroit News)

By David Thomas | September 26, 2007 | Comments (34)

Car Sluggish? Maybe It's Your Weight


In an eye-opening piece, USA Today reports that the average American is too heavy to fit in his own car — at least with passengers. The average weight for men in 2004 was 190 pounds — we’re guessing that’s a number that has not regressed in the past two years — while most cars can barely tackle a load of 200-pound passengers, according to their maximum load capacity, printed on a decal inside the front door of most vehicles.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata, Chevrolet Corvette and Honda S2000 sports cars don't rate higher than 400 pounds maximum. Not only does that include passenger weight, but also any cargo, like luggage. Even more surprising are numbers for large vehicles like the Dodge Magnum and Mazda CX-7, which come in nearly identical to much smaller ones like the Honda Civic and Scion xB at around 850 pounds.

The ratings stem from a government formula that isn’t divulged, but one automaker tries to avert fears by saying there are unpublished safety margins built in. Regardless, you should know what your vehicle’s weight limit is and drive the vehicle accordingly, including monitoring the tire pressure for different-sized loads. We'd like to see more realistic numbers put in place, otherwise it seems like the automakers are just covering their own — hopefully not too heavy — backsides with these low ratings. 

When researching a car, you can find this weight limit in the specification section either on manufacturer websites or on Cars.com.

Car Weight Limits Are a Big, Fat Problem (USA Today)

By David Thomas | September 14, 2007 | Comments (12)

Dodge Apologizes for Fictional Dog Electrocution

We weren’t going to blog about a YouTube video that broke on the internet this morning that showed a Dodge Nitro shooting electric jolts at a dog, killing it and eventually leaving a burning and charred body. We’ve seen too many of these videos that later turned out not to be official to run with it, even with the recent events involving NFL quarterback Michael Vick.

We’re still not going to point to the video, but Chrysler has acknowledged the viral ad was created through one of its marketing centers in the Netherlands. Chrysler is trying to get the video pulled from YouTube and has apologized for its content. There have been similar ads by other automakers in Europe, including fictionalized killings of cats and birds. Chrysler’s full statement is below. 

By David Thomas | July 19, 2007 | Comments (1)

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