2014 Jeep Cherokee Ownership Costs: First Quarter

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The miles are turning over pretty fast on our long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee — it's the only fast thing about our four-cylinder, all-wheel drive model. The Cherokee has been a favorite for road trips with its SUV versatility compared to our 2014 Chevrolet Impala long-term tester. We've observed a few quirks so far, but none have required any out-of-pocket expense to fix.

More on Cars.com's Long-Term Fleet

The only required ownership cost outside of fuel has been the Cherokee's first oil change and tire rotation — a total of $84.80. During the last couple of months, we also spent some money on extras such as a dog kennel ($142.41) and cooler ($60), which are accessories for the Cherokee's built-in cargo rail system.

By Joe Bruzek | June 27, 2014 | Comments (5)

Survey: Women Have Less Hands-On Car Experience

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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 Insurance.com 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)

AAA: Car Ownership Costs Dip Slightly

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We hear a lot about prices of things going up, but we don't often hear of things getting cheaper. But that's exactly what’s happened, as the average cost of owning a sedan in the U.S. fell 1.64 cents to 59.2 cents a mile, or $8,876 a year — a 2.7 percent dip. That's according to AAA's annual Your Driving Costs study, released today. The study assumes 15,000 miles of annual driving and considers the variable operating costs of fuel, maintenance and repair, and tires, as well as insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges.

More Maintenance News on Cars.com 

The price break comes despite increases in the costs of maintenance and registration fees. Lower fuel costs during the fourth quarter of 2013 were a big contributor to the decline. Car owners' gas expenses on average fell just over 10 percent to 13 cents a mile as the average cost of regular gasoline went down nearly 6 percent to less than $3.28 a gallon from nearly $3.49. That reduction, naturally, works in tandem with the continually improving fuel economy of cars overall.

By Matt Schmitz | May 9, 2014 | Comments (0)

Can a Car Battery Freeze?

It's been so cold for so long this winter for much of the country that we'd be surprised if there was anything that couldn't freeze. But there was one question that came up recently we figured we could answer.

Can your car's battery freeze?

Yes, it can, says Gale Kimbrough, technical services manager for Interstate Batteries, though it takes truly extreme temperatures for a fully charged battery to freeze.

By Rick Popely | February 18, 2014 | Comments (8)

How to Safely Remove Snow and Ice From Your Car

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Worst-case-scenario: You just brought home a new SRT Viper and parked it in your driveway to ensure the neighbors got a drool-eliciting look at your ride — made all the more dazzling by that Stryker Red Tinted Pearl paint job for which you forked over an extra $14,600. As karma for your vehicular vanity would have it, a nasty snowstorm hits that night, and by the time you wake up, there's 4 inches of snow covering your $178,000 supercar. You have to get this thing cleared off ASAP — after all, your neighbors will be leaving for work soon and won't be able to tell what's underneath all that snow.

How to Store Your Car for Winter

First, do not pull out your handcrafted corn-straw broom and start sweeping away or you'll quickly find that your college-tuition-priced paint job doesn't have quite the same effect with brush strokes etched into it. The same goes for nylon brushes and especially shovels. The recommended tool for this precarious job is a foam brush. A popular one is the SnoBrum, which has a nonabrasive, freeze-resistant molded polyethylene foam head with a recessed hard-plastic plate to prevent contact with the vehicle's surface; it has a steel telescoping handle that extends up to 46 inches for maximum reach.

By Matt Schmitz | February 11, 2014 | Comments (10)

Tips for Starting Your Car in Subzero Weather

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If your car wouldn't start this week because of the subzero temperatures that gripped much of the country, now would be a good time to get ready for the next bout of frigid weather.

NHTSA Bids You Safe Travels With Winter Driving Tips

Among the best moves you can make to improve your car's chances of starting the next time the temperature plunges below zero are to make sure your battery and charging system are in good shape and that your engine is using the grade of oil recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

By Rick Popely | January 8, 2014 | Comments (8)

How to Replace Windshield Wiper Blades

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Replacing wiper blades can be intimidating to the uninitiated. The swiping arms of plastic connectors, rubber and metal may seem like a riddle with steps only Indiana Jones can unlock, but it's actually an easy task on many newer cars. Some auto parts stores offer complimentary installation when you buy wipers there. Even so, it's easy enough to consider doing it yourself if you found a sweet deal online or bought wipers elsewhere.

Newer cars favor an easy-to-replace hook-style wiper arm where the blade simply slides over a metal hook and clips into place. Replacing the blades on a hook-style arm is the process we'll detail since they're so common. We'd be lying if we said all wipers were the same or this easy to replace. A variety of arms and mounts have been used over the years. The stubborn ones with pins and unique latches can churn up rage so deep that the new wipers may turn into boomerangs before they're ever installed.

Even blades using the same mounting style doesn't guarantee every wiper blade will come off the same way, so check your owner's manual for guidance.

By Joe Bruzek | January 6, 2014 | Comments (5)

Does Brake Fluid Need to Be Changed?

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Changing brake fluid can be a slippery subject. Some manufacturers include it in their maintenance schedules and others don't.

Mercedes-Benz, for example, says brake fluid should be replaced every two years or 20,000 miles, and Volkswagen says that should be done on most of its models every two years regardless of mileage. Subaru recommends fresh brake fluid every 30,000 miles.

More Car Maintenance Coverage

On the other hand, most Chevrolets can go 150,000 miles or 10 years, according to Chevy's maintenance schedule, and many Ford, Chrysler and Toyota vehicles don't list brake fluid as a regular maintenance item.

By Rick Popely | December 13, 2013 | Comments (6)

NHTSA Bids You Safe Travels With Winter Driving Tips

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While the trip in the song took them "over the river and through the wood" by sleigh, the majority of holiday travelers head to Grandmother's house — or wherever else they go to celebrate — by automobile. Nearly 39 million motorists were estimated to have traveled more than 50 miles from home by car during this past Thanksgiving holiday, with millions more set to hit the road for Christmas, according to AAA.

For those planning to head out on a car trip this Christmas, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds motorists to buckle their seat belts, put young children in child-safety seats and anyone younger than 13 in the backseat, avoid drinking alcohol or distractions when driving, and stay out of the "No Zone," the area around large trucks and buses where crashes are most likely to occur.

By Matt Schmitz | December 12, 2013 | Comments (0)

How to Restore Your Vehicle's Headlights

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Cars get old and if you're part of the vast majority of Americans who own a set of wheels at least 11 years old, we're pretty sure those front headlights could use a makeover. Clean headlights not only make your vehicle look like new, but they allow for safe and unobstructed travel by clearly illuminating the road ahead.

Haze, fog, smear, whatever you want to call it, there are easy ways to get rid of that plastic oxidation that fogs up your vehicle's headlights after years and miles of driving.

By Robby DeGraff | December 3, 2013 | Comments (17)

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