More Details on GM's Latest Ignition-Related Recall


On June 16, GM issued its second major ignition-switch recall, which affects 3.16 million larger cars in the U.S. — the 2005-2009 Buick LaCrosse, 2006-2011 Lucerne and 2005 Regal; the 2000-2005 Cadillac DeVille and 2004-2011 DTS; and the 2006-2008 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 2006-2013 Chevrolet Impala and 2014 Impala Limited (a carryover of the old Impala, not the redesigned sedan). An additional 200,000 of the same cars will be recalled outside the U.S. too.

GM Recalls Another 3 Million Vehicles

The recall sounds a lot like this year's earlier GM recall of 2.2 million small cars in the U.S. for faulty ignition switches, which centered mostly on the Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Ion and Pontiac G5 compacts. In both situations, a pothole or other disruption could bump the key out of the "run" position while the vehicle is moving, which could deactivate airbags and various electrical systems.

This recall is unique, however. For starters, it doesn't include a replacement of the ignition cylinder and switch, as the Cobalt and its peers require — just a new key. We chatted with GM recall spokesman Alan Adler to clarify some details. For answers to the original ignition-switch recall, read our earlier Q&A here.

By Kelsey Mays | June 20, 2014 | Comments (3)

Porsche Flies, Fiat Flails in 2014 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study


Porsche, Jaguar and Lexus topped J.D. Power's 2014 Initial Quality Study. Porsche and Lexus were among the top three brands in 2013, while Jaguar jumped seven spots to land at No. 2. And at the other end, Fiat, Jeep and Mitsubishi had the worst results. Two of those three — Mitsubishi and Fiat — were among 2013's bottom-feeders.

2011 Models Less Reliable Than 2010 Vehicles, J.D. Power Study Finds

IQS, one of several influential J.D. Power studies, is now in its 28th year. It expresses quality as problems per 100 vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership. A lower score is better. Among 32 brands surveyed this year, Porsche led with just 74 problems — and Fiat was last, at 206.

"Porsche has three vehicles that are best-in-segment," Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. auto quality at the company, told us. Those include the 911, Panamera and Boxster. Two others — the Cayenne and Cayman — were top nominated in their segments.

By Kelsey Mays | June 18, 2014 | Comments (8)

Google to Unveil Apple CarPlay Rival


Well, that didn't take long. Less than four months after Apple unveiled its CarPlay operating system that brings apps and maps galore to a car's multimedia system, Google is reportedly launching an in-car operating system of its own.

Apple Unveils CarPlay for Volvo, Mercedes, Ferrari at 2014 Geneva Motor Show

Automotive News reports (subscription required) that Google's internal designation for the system is Google Auto Link. It's the product of Google's Open Automotive Alliance, a group that includes Google, Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and tech company Nvidia. The consortium, formed in January 2014, promised to bring Google's Android platform to the car by year's end.

The schedule appears on track.

By Kelsey Mays | June 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

Survey: Women Have Less Hands-On Car Experience


Letty Ortiz would disapprove. The "Fast & Furious" character, a headstrong mechanic played by Michelle Rodriguez, is a rare example among women. A new survey by auto-insurance comparison site found a large portion of women lack experience in a number of basic automotive procedures.

Expert Tips on Car Repair & Care

In April 2014, the Foster City, Calif., website asked 2,000 married homeowners with children and driver's licenses how they dealt with car trouble. Most (63 percent) said they had ignored a dashboard warning light on purpose, and six in 10 said they had imitated car noises for a mechanic.

Women were slightly less likely than men to do either one, but they were more likely to admit they didn't know their way around a car when it came to checking oil, changing tires, jump-starting an engine and checking tire pressure.

By Kelsey Mays | June 17, 2014 | Comments (4)

Reduced MPG in Six Ford Models Matches's Results


If editors' observed mileage is any indication, more drivers should see real-world fuel economy figures that match the new EPA numbers on six Ford models.

Ford Lowers Fuel Economy Ratings on Six Cars, Will Reimburse Owners

Ford announced June 12 that it would reduce EPA mileage on six vehicles – the 2013-2014 C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, the 2013-2014 Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, the 2013-2014 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and the 2014 Fiesta – because of an error in EPA mileage tests. The revisions, which downgrade EPA combined mileage as much as 7 mpg on the hybrids, will appear on new-car window stickers this week.

We've tracked mileage in four of those six cars, and our results fall a lot closer to the revised numbers than what they used to be. We haven't spent enough time behind the wheel of the Fusion Energi or MKZ Hybrid to report on mileage yet, but here are the rest:

By Kelsey Mays | June 16, 2014 | Comments (7)

Fiat Chrysler Announces Alfa Romeo Dealer Network


Alfa Romeo fans, warm up your credit cards: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced today the names of 86 dealers that will operate an Alfa Romeo franchise in the U.S. and Canada. We've known that the brand is on its way back to the U.S. for a while, but it's taken years for the specifics to be unveiled. After the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C's official launch in New York earlier this year, the details are finally becoming clear, including where shoppers can get their hands on the stunning new coupe.

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C: First Look

The initial list of dealers was drawn from existing Fiat and Maserati dealers in 33 states — 82 dealers in the U.S. and four in Canada. Peter Grady, vice president of Chrysler Group Network Development, said he expects the dealer network to eventually exceed 300 franchises in North America.

The 2015 4C is set to go on sale later this year; the special 4C Launch Edition will be the first to go on sale. Check out the complete list of dealerships below.

By Jennifer Geiger | June 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About a Dealer Doc Fee


New or used, the price on the window of that shiny car is seldom what you pay out the door. You should always plan on title and license fees, a destination price (if it's a new car), applicable sales tax and the documents fee, which is often referred to as the "doc fee." Some dealers add additional charges for things like VIN etching, preparation fees, you name it, which is why we recommend determining the final out-the-door price on the car you want and negotiating on that number alone.

Final Fees & Negotiating Tips

Doc fees can have a lot of names: conveyance fees, processing fees or service and handling fees. They can make a real difference in the final price, too, and where you buy your car can have a big impact. We've seen a dealership in greater New York charge a $75 doc fee while a New Jersey dealer wanted $349 — for similar examples of the same used SUV. That's because New York state has a $75 maximum for doc fees, according to the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association. New Jersey, like 34 other states and the District of Columbia, has no such cap.

Which states cap doc fees? We combed through state laws and called dozens of dealer associations, DMVs and other governing groups. Here's what we found.

By Kelsey Mays | June 10, 2014 | Comments (6)

Report: Average Car on U.S. Roads Still 11.4 Years Old


A new report by IHS Automotive says the average car on U.S. roads is 11.4 years old, which is the same as last year. The data reflects a plateau — if temporary — of America's aging vehicle fleet. Last year's 11.4-year average was the eighth straight year of increasing vehicle age.

Top 10 Used Cars for $10K

There are about 252.7 million light vehicles (i.e., not semitrailers or other heavy-duty commercial vehicles) on the road, which works out to around 79.5 cars per 100 Americans. That's up from 2013 (79 cars per 100 Americans) but down from the recession (83.2 cars per 100 Americans in 2007 and 2008) according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Polk. IHS purchased Polk, an analytics firm, in 2013.

IHS projects the average car's age will stay the same next year and then gradually rise to 11.7 years by 2019. photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

By Kelsey Mays | June 9, 2014 | Comments (7)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: May 2014


All signs point toward another strong month for the auto industry. Toyota gained 17 percent as shoppers bought nearly 50,000 Camry sedans, leapfrogging the Chevrolet Silverado to a No. 2 spot in May's best-sellers. Cash incentives on the Camry increased versus year-ago levels, which likely fueled some of the nameplate's 26.4 percent gain. But so did renewed interest in family sedans: The Ford Fusion (up 14.6 percent), Nissan Altima (up 12.9 percent) and Honda Accord (up 19.3 percent) drew more shoppers, too.

May's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

Nissan's 18.8 percent gain led the top seven automakers, while big increases from its Jeep and Ram divisions lifted Chrysler sales 16.7 percent. The Ram pickup truck gained 17.2 percent, the biggest percentage gain of any full-size pickup. Its rival Ford F-Series dropped 4.3 percent; no doubt shoppers are awaiting a new F-150 that hits dealerships at the end of this year.

Ford, Hyundai-Kia and Honda all gained less than 10 percent, falling below the seven largest automakers' 11.8 percent gain. Still, even the poorest performer (Ford) saw sales up 3 percent.

By Kelsey Mays | June 3, 2014 | Comments (3)

Amid Recalls, Don't Expect GM to Turn on the Deals


Embroiled in an ignition-switch recall that affects 2.6 million cars worldwide and 2.2 million in the U.S., GM has been making headlines for nearly three months. Does the controversy mean lost sales and better deals for car shoppers as the automaker tries to make up lost ground?

More on GM Ignition Recall

Not so much. On May 1, GM announced that April sales were up 6.9 percent, outpacing most analysts' expectations. Even Chevrolet, the brand whose Cobalt compact and HHR hatchback topped the recalls, gained 5.3 percent.

Still, by day's end it was clear the General would lose some market share; after all, industry sales gained 8.1 percent overall. And when May incentives rolled out the next day, GM had raised cash offers on a number of cars. The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu, Camaro and Traverse saw upticks in cash-back and cash-with-financing deals versus month-ago and year-ago levels (on 2013 models at the time). GMC, Buick and Cadillac saw fewer incentive increases, but the 2014 Buick LaCrosse and Encore did see more cash on the hood versus year-ago 2013 levels. In fact, year-over-year purchase incentives across GM's lineup appreciably decreased on just two models.

By Kelsey Mays | May 13, 2014 | Comments (0)

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