Keeping your car carefully maintained and fully serviced is vital for extending its life and reducing repair bills over the long term. But not all maintenance needs to involve the expense of a qualified auto mechanic. There are three areas of car health which anyone can monitor with ease, but will help to keep your vehicle running smoothly and safely.
Your car’s tires are fundamental to its performance and safety and should be inspected regularly to ensure they’re in good condition. Start off by checking the tire pressures at least once a month, and topping them up with air if needed. Keeping your car’s tires properly inflated reduces wear and tear to extend their life, improves grip for better safety, and cuts fuel consumption for lower costs at the gas station.
But there’s more to tire maintenance than just pressure. Tread depth is essential for a safe grip, especially under slippery conditions, and checking it should become a regular habit. All the treads on each tire should be at least 1/16th of an inch deep to be legal, and preferably a little deeper to give an extra margin for safety.
And what’s more, the depth should be relatively even across the whole of each tire’s surface, and also across each tire. Any spots of shallow tread will make handling more unpredictable and increase the risks of accidents. Tires will wear out at different rates under normal use, but tire rotation as part of regular servicing will help to even this effect out.
Lastly, for tires, any bulges, cracks, or bubbles in the rubber’s surface should be dealt with immediately by booking an appointment at your local tire change center. Even small problems in the tire structure can lead to dangerous blowouts when the rubber is under stress at high speeds.
Maintaining the engine itself is a job best left to an expert, but there’s plenty that any driver can look after under the hood. First, take a look at the various belts and hoses that connect the different parts of the mechanics together. If any of them look damaged or frayed or even just discolored, it’s best to check in to a repair shop to have them replaced. The cost will be tiny compared to the damage that a complete failure of worn-out components could cause.
Next, check that your coolant levels are high enough so that your engine is protected from overheating. This is easy to do using the scale on the side of the coolant reservoir, but always wait until the engine is fully cooled down before measuring.
Lastly, the oil level is also easy to check on most modern cars. If the level gets too low, topping it up is also easy. However, if you need to add oil frequently between service appointments, it could be a sign of a leak in the system, and you should have it checked out.
Lastly, the final round of checks involves the lights and other electrical features. Every so often, check that all the interior and exterior lights work as they’re supposed to. Look for any unexpected dimming when you turn on an electrical feature like the air conditioning, as this could indicate a battery that’s failing to supply enough charge. Do all the internal electronics work properly, especially when the engine is first turned on? Any strange behavior early in a drive could again be a sign that the electrical system isn’t receiving enough power, and that the battery may need replacing.
Lastly, turn on the climate control, air conditioning, or heating system, and check for any strange odors or noises as you move through the different settings. Problems might be as minor as a dirty filter that needs changing, but it’s better to catch any issue early to be on the safe side.
There’s no substitute for scheduled servicing by qualified auto mechanics, but every little extra you can do in between expert appointments can make your car run more smoothly, increase its safety, and cut down on repair bills.
Is it time for new tires? Tires play an important role in keeping you safe while driving on the road. However, worn-out tires increase the chance of suffering an accident or can cause you to be stranded on the side of a highway due to suffering a blowout. Staying proactive by replacing your tires can save you a lot of stress while also improving safety.
Here are five signs that’s it time for you to purchase new tires for your vehicle.
1) Lack of Air Pressure
Low tire pressure can often result in a blowout if you don’t take the time to put air in your tires. Modern vehicles will immediate notify you if you need to put more air in a tire. You may also have a leak if you are constantly receiving low-tire pressure notifications. Getting your tire inspected is a good idea to see if you need a patch or a replacement.
2) Not Enough Tire Tread
One of the obvious signs of needing new tires is a low amount of tire tread. Not enough tread increases the likelihood of suffering a blowout. One simple way to determine your tire tread is to place a penny inside the groove of the tire with Lincoln’s head facing you and upside down. If you can still view his whole head, it’s time for you to purchase new tires.
3) Excessive Shaking or Vibration
Driving a vehicle that’s constantly shaking is always a frustrating experience. While it’s normal for a vehicle to shake while driving on a poorly paved road, it isn’t common to experience excessive shaking or vibration while driving down a smooth highway. Excessive shaking is a possible sign that you have a problem with the interior of your tire, and it needs to be replaced.
4) Beyond Tread-Wear Warranty
Many tire manufacturers offer a tread-wear warranty that guarantees them to last for a specific amount of years or miles. These warranties can often range anywhere between 30,000 to 50,000 miles. Once your tires have surpassed this warranty date, it’s a smart idea to consider making a replacement to avoid any potential problems.
5) Cracked Rubber
Cracked rubber tires are never safe to drive on due to the increased chance of an accident. These tires can eventually begin to crack due to age or poor alignment. Checking your tires on a frequent basis is a good way for you to notice any signs of cracking. Replacing these tires as soon as possible is essential in keeping you much safer while on the road.
Many people don’t even think about their tires until it’s too late. Trying to repair a flat or replace a tire on your own is often a time-consuming and stressful experience. Staying proactive by replacing your tires in advance can save you a lot of hard work. Keeping all of these different things in mind will help you determine the best time to replace your tires before you experience an accident on the road.
Here’s a closer look at what to do when your vehicle’s engine gets hot and is overheating. Have you ever been driving along and watched in horror as that little arrow on your instrument cluster started to tip a little too far to the right? What’s happening to your vehicle? Were you starting to panic?
You shouldn’t be too worried. Your vehicle probably isn’t about to burst into flames, but you do need to take action. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse. It’s not the sort of problem that fixes itself.
You might be thinking – Hey, I’m not a mechanic. What can I do to fix this problem?
The important thing is not to panic. You also don’t want to make the problem worse. Auto mechanics have years of training and expertise in this area. So, it’s best to seek professional help when there’s a problem with your vehicle overheating. However, there are some tips and tricks that can save you money and time when you first start to notice that your temperature gauge is in the red.
First, you need to identify the reason why your temperature gauge is reading hot.
First: It’s entirely possible that your vehicle’s thermostat isn’t working properly. You could be getting a false reading if the temperature switch has malfunctioned. It’s important to look for other indicators to get a clear picture of what’s going on.
Second: The problem could be related to your vehicle’s water pump. If a gasket has worn down or if the pump itself is broken, then your engine won’t be able to cool itself properly. Check to see if your water pump is making a whining noise or if there’s coolant leaking from it.
Third: Your engine could be overheating if the coolant isn’t reaching the engine. This is a very real problem that most motorists will face at some point in their vehicle’s life span. You could have a faulty gasket or hose. It will need to be replaced immediately.
Troubleshooting Tips for an Overheating Engine
engine coolant reservoir
If you’re riding in your vehicle and you start to notice that your temperature gauge is climbing to the right, then the easiest thing to do is pull over safely to the side of the road. If you’re already a member of a roadside assistance service like AAA, then put in the call and have your vehicle towed to the nearest mechanic.
Turn off AC
If you don’t have the means to get roadside assistance, then the first thing you want to do is turn off your air conditioning and open all of your windows. This makes it a bit easier for your vehicle to keep itself cool if it doesn’t have to work so hard keeping you cool. Yeah, you might break a sweat, but more air will circulate to your engine.
Hopefully, the temperature gauge will have at least slowed its progress to the dreaded red zone. Then again, it might not have done the trick. You need to start thinking about getting off the road and finding a safe spot to pull over.
Turn off Engine
Once you pull over, take a few deep breaths, and turn off your vehicle. Pop the hood open and give it some time to cool down with the engine off before you do anything else. This is where patience will benefit you the most because you’ll need about fifteen to twenty minutes to let the engine cool back down.
Now, open the hood and locate the radiator. If you’re standing in front of your vehicle’s grille, the radiator is that flat piece of equipment directly beneath your belt buckle. You’ll notice there’s a big twist cap on the top. The radiator is responsible for housing the coolant fluid for your vehicle. It circulates the coolant fluid around your engine so that all the mechanical actions of the pistons don’t tax your engine too heavily. Without coolant or water, the engine will simply get too hot and seize up.
So, double-check that your engine is off and that your vehicle has been cooling down for about twenty minutes. You never want to open the radiator cap of a hot vehicle while the engine is running. You don’t even need to open the radiator cap even if your engine has been running hot, so avoid accessing the radiator directly.
Just take a look around and locate the coolant reservoir. There are usually two plastic containers near the radiator. One keeps windshield wiper fluid and the other keeps coolant for your engine. That’s the one you want. Hopefully, you have an emergency supply of coolant fluid or water in your vehicle. You can find it at nearly any auto supply store. So, pick up a jug or two at your earliest convenience.
Now, open the coolant recovery tank and pour some additional fluid inside. You can use water. There’s a maximum fill line on the side. So, make sure you don’t exceed that level. Once you’ve filled the reservoir, screw the cap back on tightly.
Next, you want to take a look underneath your vehicle. What you’re looking for is any obvious signs of a leak. The leak could be coming from a tube, or it could be leaking from the radiator itself. What you want to check for is whether you have a large leak or a small one. With a large leak, you won’t be able to prevent your engine from overheating for very long, but if the leak is small enough, you’ll be able to limp to the nearest service center or possibly make it back to your own driveway.
What if That Didn’t Work?
If you get back into your vehicle and drive away, then prepare for a tense ride. You’ll be watching that temperature gauge like a hawk. You should never drive too far when the gauge is in the red zone. So, pull over and repeat the steps from before if needed.
Now, it’s entirely possible that the gauge will go back to cold and then rapidly rise again. If the gauge reading is all over the place, then you might have a faulty thermostat. It’s a common mechanical problem. You might be able to replace it yourself, but it’s a pretty straightforward procedure for an auto mechanic.
The other potential cause of an overheating engine is a faulty water pump. If your thermostat is still running hot after you fill the coolant and you notice that the gauge is gradually heading toward the red zone, then you need to pull over and listen to your vehicle.
Pop the hood and listen to the sound of your engine. Do you hear any whining noises or unusual hissing sounds. It might even sound like your engine is squealing. That could be related to the water pump. This is a serious malfunction, and you’d better get off the road immediately. No amount of fluid top-ups will help you when the water pump isn’t working properly. Get your vehicle to a repair shop because you’ll need to have that water pump replaced ASAP.
Wrapping it Up
If you’ve never sweated out a good shirt because your engine ran hot, then you haven’t been driving long enough. It’s a common problem, especially with older model vehicles. Yet, it’s not the end of the world and your car isn’t going to explode if you know how to properly handle the situation.
The best thing to do is stop driving and call for roadside assistance. Get your vehicle to a repair shop and let a professional auto mechanic accurately assess the problem. If you have to make it a few extra miles, then be sure to keep some coolant fluid in your vehicle for emergency purposes.
You can pull over and cool off your engine for a while. You can also replace some lost fluids, but not every problem has to do with a loss of coolant. You could have a faulty thermostat or water pump. You can determine which one it is by listening to your engine, looking on the pavement for a leak, and watching your temperature gauge closely.
Hopefully, these tips will help you stay calm in a troubling situation. Getting to know your vehicle is the best way to assess any mechanical problem, so spend some time under the hood and get well-acquainted with your owner’s manual. It might not be a thrilling read, but it’s got lots of vital information.
Cadillac has chosen the Escalade to debut a ton of new technologically advanced features. When it comes to large SUVs, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade is the benchmark by which all others are judged. Sure, there are better off-roaders and performance SUVs on the market, but nothing says swagger quite like an Escalade.
The president of Cadillac, Steve Carlisle, had this to say about the all-new Escalade in a company press release. “There is something special about driving an Escalade. It has the bold presence and exclusive technology to elevate the extraordinary and make every drive feel like an occasion. The 2021 Escalade takes its leadership into a new era of mobility, with comprehensive upgrades that are transformative to the driving experience,” said Carlisle. ”It’s more than a new Escalade. It’s a new experience.”
Model Trims for the 2021 Escalade
Let’s take a moment to break down the five different trim levels. The base model is called Luxury and it comes handsomely equipped with a 19-speaker sound system, the new curved OLED touchscreen display, and 22-inch alloy wheels.
The next trim level is called Premium Luxury. It upgrades the 2021 Escalade with a panoramic sunroof and more advanced safety features. There are some stylistic changes with the Sport model. It comes with gloss black trim in the front fascia, a different grille design, roof rails, and dark alloy wheels.
The Premium Luxury Platinum model enters the $100,000 price range. It comes with full semi-aniline leather upholstery, leather trim, a rear seat entertainment system and a 36-speaker sound system. The Sport model gets an upgrade with the Sport Platinum model. It also crosses the 100k price threshold with driver assist package and just about everything else that comes with the Premium Luxury Platinum model.
Stunning Exterior of the 2021
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade has a bold exterior that starts with a tall, dominant front grille. It stands well over half a man’s height and comes in three different styles. There’s an illusion grille, a V series mesh grille design, and a grille design that features four longitudinal bars that travel across the width of the front fascia.
It’s also important to mention that there are two different body styles for the 2021 Escalade. The optional ESV body is much longer. The standard Escalade is 211.9 inches long, but the ESV stretches out to 226.9 inches.
On the whole, it’s still easily recognizable as an Escalade. 22-inch wheels come standard on the Escalade. The long, blocky design might seem dated, but it hides ultra-modern underpinnings. The front headlamps are slimmed down and have the Cadillac emblem etched into them. The LED taillights span 3 feet and also have subtle Cadillac emblem motifs. Whether you’re going for luxury or sport, there’s a new Cadillac that’s bound to resonate with you.
A Gluttonous Interior
The interior of the new Escalade features many of the stylistic cues that were first seen in the Escala concept vehicle. That’s where automotive enthusiasts got their first glimpse of the OLED curved display and new color palettes that are now available on the 2021 Escalade. There’s a ton of space inside and its filled with technology.
“The expectations and desires of Escalade customers are factors everyone in the Cadillac design studio unequivocally understands,” said Phil Kucera, interior design manager. “This allowed us to reach greater levels of depth and detail than Escalade has ever had before.”
The 2021 Escalade has an amazing dashboard display. The driver of the Escalade has a digital instrument cluster and two configurable display areas on either side of the speedometer. On the left-hand side, there’s a touchscreen control panel that toggles the heads-up display, night vision and trip computer.
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade has the first ever curved Organic Light Emitting Diode or OLED screen that measures 16.9 inches across. Its clarity is sharper than a 4K television display. In total, there are 38 inches of digital touchscreen real estate inside the cabin.
The upholstery and surfaces of the 2021 Escalade are sumptuous and refined. There are heated and ventilated seats in a variety of color palettes. The full semi-aniline leather is soft and undeniably a Cadillac staple. The panoramic sunroof allows occupants to enjoy the sky by sliding, tilting and opening in a number of different ways.
The Escalade has plenty of room for passengers, but it also has a copious amount of cargo space. It comes with 121 cubic feet for cargo, but the Escalade ESV can accommodate up to 142.8 cubic feet of max cargo space. This SUV can make a long road trip feel less like a chore and more like a real vacation.
High Tech Capabilities of Cadillac
Tesla might get all the hype when it comes to autonomous driving vehicles, but Cadillac’s Super Cruise is one of the best rated autonomous driving systems on the market. In a test of 17 self-driving systems, Consumer Reports gave the highest overall score to the Cadillac Super Cruise. It beat out Audi Pre Sense and Tesla Auto Pilot.
The Super Cruise function uses onboard sensors, radar, and cameras to facilitate hands-free driving. It only works in certain conditions on the highway, but it’s more reliable than other autonomous driving systems. Super Cruise can change lanes, handle on and off ramps, as well as keep moving with the flow of traffic, all without any driver input.
The navigation system uses augmented reality. It has automatic driving cues that come through the audio system and a virtual overlay that takes over the digital instrument cluster. The navigation system creates a massive live street view with driving directions overlaid on the road.
The available AKG Studio Reference System puts speakers everywhere inside the new Escalade. There are speakers in the center console, in the ceiling, and in the headrest. 36 speakers in total provide a studio sound quality that is unmatched on any other luxury vehicle. The advanced AKG system employs six subwoofers and three amplifiers.
Other tech amenities include night vision mode, a full color heads-up display, interior microphones that pump your voice through the cabin, and the largest rear seat headrest screens in this vehicle’s class. Without a doubt, this is the most technologically advanced Cadillac Escalade ever built.
Performance Features of the 2021 Escalade
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade has a 6.2 Liter V8 engine. It’s capable of achieving 420 horsepower and 460 pound feet of torque. There’s also an available 3.0 Liter Duramax turbo diesel engine. It’s pushing 277 horsepower and 460 lb. ft. of torque.
You can choose between two-wheel and four-wheel drive, and both are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox is electronically controlled. It has overdrive, a towing and hauling setting and easy tap controls to change gear shifting.
The adaptive air ride suspension is only available on the Premium Luxury and above models, but it’s arguably essential equipment on a vehicle this size. It has electronically controlled air springs that help stabilize the Escalade for off-roading and highway driving.
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade isn’t just designed to rack up style points. It has a maximum towing capacity of 8,200 pounds on 2WD models. The Duramax turbo diesel helps the 2021 Escalade manage an 8,000 lb. max trailering load. A trailering package and mechanical limited-slip rear differential are also standard features.
The Sport models come with an electronic limited slip differential and magnetic ride control. The Autotrac 2-speed transfer case is on the options list if you’re thinking about off-roading in this behemoth. The Sport models come with hitch guidance, in-vehicle trailering app, and an integrated trailer brake controller. For adventure seekers, the Sport models are really the best option.
Final Thoughts on the 2021 Cadillac Escalade
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade begs potential buyers for six figure investments. Sure, the 2WD Luxury base model Escalade has an MSRP of $77,890 but the Sport 4WD model comes with magnetic dampeners, better trailering capabilities and dark polished 22-inch wheels. It costs in the neighborhood of $90,000 but top of the line Escalades can easily top $100,000.
Drivers might expect the Escalade to have a gorgeous interior, but what might come as surprise is all the amazing technology that comes with it. The 36-speaker sound system, the curved OLED display, and the augmented reality navigation are next level features. Plus, the Cadillac Super Cruise is one of the most reliable autonomous driving systems on the market.
There are three rows of seating and there isn’t a bad spot in the bunch. Even if you don’t have a big family, the 2021 Cadillac Escalade makes the case for opulence. Who cares if you’re riding solo? You can fill in all the passenger space later.
If you’re driving an older vehicle, then most likely you’ve got a conventional lead-acid battery under the hood. For the most part, motorists don’t have to do much. As long as you do your regularly scheduled maintenance visits at the local service center your vehicle won’t let you down. These so-called maintenance-free batteries just need to be monitored and kept clean.
However, this can lull some motorists into a false sense of calm when it comes to their batteries. Some people might even be afraid to touch their battery out of fear that it will shock them or poison them. That line of thinking won’t help you in the case of an emergency when a bit of hands-on troubleshooting could save you time and money.
Your battery is very important. It’s the electrical powerplant that starts your car or truck. It also provides electricity for a number of internal systems. So, one of the best things you can do to safeguard your vehicle is to get acquainted with your battery.
When you lift your hood, the battery is easily recognizable. It’s a rectangular block near the front of the vehicle’s radiator. It has a thick polypropylene case to protect what’s inside the battery. There are two terminals on top, one for positive and one for a negative charge. Touching the casing won’t hurt you. You can even touch the terminals provided that your hands are dry. There just isn’t enough power in a 12V battery to electrocute you.
Inside the case are battery plates. These plates are stacked together in cells. These cells are suspended in an acidic solution that facilitates the chemical reactions that create electricity for your vehicle. This reaction creates electrons that travel around the plates and through the terminals.
Your battery’s power is measured in amps. You’ll hear the term “cold-cranking amps”. That’s the amount of power it takes to start your vehicle at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit. You should refer to your vehicle’s owner manual to determine the right amount of amps needed for your vehicle.
One of the most important things you can do to maintain your battery happens when you’re starting your vehicle. Anywhere from 100 to 130 amps are required to start your vehicle and the more electrical systems that you leave active, the more power it will require to start your vehicle.
So, be sure to turn off all your electrical systems when you park your vehicle. That includes your radio, air conditioning, and any other tech amenities like heated seats or adaptors that pull power from the vehicle’s battery.
Before you start your vehicle, avoid turning on electrical systems first. Give your battery less work to do and it will work longer.
Most people avoid touching or even checking up on their battery before the scheduled maintenance and that’s a problem. Dirt, grease, and debris can crowd the terminals of the battery. This can significantly weaken the circuit running between your electrical systems and your battery.
So, keep it clean by removing the negative terminal first. Then, remove the positive terminal. Clean the terminals with a cloth towel, old toothbrush, or rag. You can even use a bit of baking soda and water. Then, replace the terminals in reverse order. That’s positive first and then the negative.
Lastly, let’s talk about fluid levels inside your battery. If you have a maintenance-free battery, then you won’t be able to access the internal cavity, but other conventional batteries have caps on the top. Always make sure that your engine is turned off before you access the battery.
Then, carefully remove the battery caps to check the fluid levels. There are markings to tell you the proper fill amount and you should never overfill the battery. You can find battery acid at an automotive store, or you can use distilled water. Also, be sure to protect your eyes and hands.
These are just a few of the basic ways you can keep your vehicle’s battery in top working order. Don’t wait until you have a problem and you’re left stranded on the side of the road. Identify your battery and all of its parts, turn off all electrical systems before you start the vehicle, make sure that your terminals are clean, and check the fluid levels regularly.
I hope these maintenance tips are helpful and remember to always drive safely.
Big screens and premium leather – you might be surprised at which vehicles offer the best interior amenities under 50 grand. The interior of your vehicle is important, mainly because that’s where you spend the majority of your time. Automakers are well aware of this and the latest vehicles are decked out with versatile cabins that check all the right boxes for new car buyers.
7 Affordable Vehicles with the Best Interiors
2022 Kia Stinger GT-Line – $36,090
The GT-Line is the base model of the 2022 Kia Stinger. It makes the list of 10 best new car interiors because it comes loaded with new age features and a sports car vibe. The Kia Stinger comes with a flat-bottomed steering wheel and brushed aluminum pedals. There are six upholstery options and all of them include leather upholstery as standard.
If you select the Sun and Sound Package, the Stinger GT-Line gets upgraded with a power sunroof, Harman Kardon audio system with 15 speakers, and 8-way power adjustable passenger seat. This powerful sedan comes with 10-inch touchscreen navigation, infotainment connectivity, and advanced safety features. The 2022 Kia Stinger GT is an amazing performance sedan, and the stunning interior is just icing on the cake.
The Toyota Venza is an elegant crossover SUV that packs just as much technology and style inside the vehicle as it does on the outside. The Limited model houses some impressive amenities. You get a 12.3 inch touchscreen display that can be customized to the owner’s preferences. The driver also has a 7-inch digital instrument cluster. The rearview mirror is also digital and provides a clear view of the vehicle’s surroundings without the obstructions of rear pillars and bobbing toddlers.
It’s not all tech inside the Venza from Toyota. The overall aesthetic of the Limited model’s interior is upscale and sophisticated. The upholstery has dark SofTex synthetic leather, a panoramic sunroof top, and ambient lighting. If you’re afraid of luxury automakers and their pricey packages, then the Toyota Venza will make you feel like you’re in a posh European SUV without topping the $50,000 mark.
Finding a new German auto under 50 grand is a unique challenge. However, there is a unicorn in the Audi stable; it’s the 2021 Audi A5 Coupe. There are four different color palettes to choose from, not just the black-on-black interior that you’d come to expect from an Audi. The Okapi brown leather seats with granite gray stitching are especially chic. Coupled with natural oak wood inlays, this palette is simply amazing for the price listed.
The A5 Coupe has a panoramic sunroof and sporty three-spoke steering wheel. You also get a 10-inch touchscreen display, LED interior lighting, rear view camera, smartphone integration, and a basic Audi pre-sense safety system. It’s as if Audi forgot to charge consumers an arm and a leg for one of its most stylish vehicles. Even with a destination charge and the convenience package, you’re still paying less than $50,000 for the 2021 Audi A5 Coupe.
This is the top-of-the-line Outback model and it’s under $40,000. It comes with Nappa leather-trimmed seating and that includes heated and ventilated front seats. It has a power sliding and tilting moonroof. The wagon body style of the Outback allows for plenty of interior space. There’s 75.7 cubic feet of cargo volume plus 106.5 cubic feet of total passenger volume.
In addition to all the interior space, the Outback Touring XT comes with fantastic amenities that make it one of the best interiors for 2021. There’s an 11.6-inch touchscreen display with navigation, a total of 8 USB charging ports, 4G LTE WiFi and a Harman Kardon premium audio sound system. It’s the perfect choice for big families with a thirst for adventure.
The Nissan Pathfinder is due for a model refresh, but the 2020 Pathfinder still aces the big SUV interior game. The Platinum model with 4WD is the top-level vehicle and comes equipped with more creature comforts than a small New York city apartment. For starters, you get plenty of seating options. The Platinum Pathfinder is fit for seven with three rows of seating that fold, slide and recline. If you want more utility, then skip the passengers and fold the entire second and third row down for a total of 79.5 cubic feet of cargo space.
The infotainment selection is hit or miss though. On the one hand, you get available viewscreens in the second-row headrests, but the Pathfinder Platinum only comes with an 8-inch center console display. It has an amazing Bose 13-speaker sound system but doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity. If you’re not big on tech amenities and want an SUV that’s large and rugged, then the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder 4WD Platinum is a sleeper on the list.
2021 Ford Bronco Sport Outer Banks – $32,320
There’s so much to love about the Ford Bronco Sport. It’s a compact 4×4 with instant brand recognition and plenty of off-road prowess. There are five models available, all of which are priced under $50,000. However, the Outer Banks model warrants closer inspection because it’s the only one that provides a blend of rugged utility and urban allure.
The Outer Banks model comes with heated leather-trimmed bucket seats in an adventurous brown and black color motif. It also has a leather-wrapped steering wheel with matching accents throughout the cabin. It has a rubberized, removable cargo floor, but you’ll fuss over the carpeted floor mats for the front and second row. There’s plenty of storage space and the Outer Banks Bronco comes with USB ports, AC power points, and has an available wireless charging pad.
2021 Kia Telluride SX – $42,490
Whoever said full-sized SUVs were a thing of the past must not have seen the new Kia Telluride. It’s one of the most critically acclaimed vehicles of 2021 and spares nothing when it comes to valuable features and amenities. The top tier model is called SX and it carries an MSRP of $42,490.
You get three full rows of seating for seven passengers; the Telluride has the most passenger volume in its class. The second row captain’s chairs are heated and ventilated. You can choose between leather or synthetic leather upholstery with nine different color patterns available. Add the best safety and technology features available for no added charge and you’ve got the best new car interior under $50,000.
Fog lights are common on taller vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs, but are rarely seen on smaller vehicles. The term “fog” is in the name, but it is not always clear when and how to use fog lights. This article defines fog lights, explains how they work, and highlights the positives and negatives.
Fog lights don’t come with every car. Because they are not standard equipment for most vehicles, fog lights often come as an extra feature in luxury models. Drivers’ lack of experience with the fog lights adds to the equipment’s confusion, leaving many unsure about when and how to turn them on.
Fog lights are different from high- and low-beam headlights, which are regularly used in the dark. Fog lights aren’t always necessary; drivers need to keep them on when visibility is low due to poor weather or dust. Unlike headlights, fog lights point at a steeper angle in a bar-shaped beam to prevent the light from reflecting into the driver’s eyes.
Fog lights are specifically made to function quite low on the vehicle’s body and face the ground, while headlights are installed at a shallow angle to light up as much of the road as possible. Fog lights illuminate only the ground and pierce through any fog, mist, haze, dust, or other particles that limit visibility.
Though some shops that sell fog lights may promote lamps with selective yellow light as “fog lights,” many kinds of lights use the color yellow. Fog lights are characterized by their shape and how they illuminate the road, not by their color.
As their name suggests, the purpose of fog lights is for fog and similar low-visibility conditions. When used on regular days, the light can end up blinding other drivers because it is too bright.
Even in poor weather, fog lights shouldn’t stay enabled the entire time. Instead, a driver should use them only when the driver finds it difficult to see the road. Keeping the fog lights on when they aren’t necessary can lead to accidents because the light cannot illuminate areas far in front of the car. Cars going too fast with only their fog lights on may collide with other vehicles and objects. Drivers are advised to go slow whenever they use their fog lights, at least until they reach their destination or park somewhere until the weather improves.
Cars equipped with fog lights usually feature a switch or buttons aside from the controls for the headlights. Some vehicles have separate switches for front and rear fog lights, while others use the rotary light switch. Typically, there’s a symbol in the instrument panel that informs the driver that the fog lights are on, but most fog lights automatically turn off when a driver turns off the vehicle.
Buying fog lights
Fog lights are affordable accessories one can install in various ways. Factory-style fog lights would require the removal of the bumper and addition of a specific grille. Still, universal fog lights can be mounted onto any part of the vehicle without much hassle. Car-owners would benefit from fog lights with glass lenses instead of plastic for increased durability. Broken fog lights shouldn’t be a problem either, considering they’re easily replaceable.
Fog Light Symbols
At the point when you turn on your fog lights an image will illuminate on your dashboard to show that they’re on. Generally, the universal symbol for the rear fog lights is golden in color and the light for the front fog lights is green.
The symbol you’re looking for in your instrument cluster is a light pointing to the left plus a wavy line with three lines through it – these are your front fog lights. When you switch on your rear fog lights a light pointing to the right plus a wavy line with three lines through it will illuminate in your instrument cluster.
If you’ve got a growing family, then you might have your eye on one of these top family vehicles. Some have refused to abandon all traces of sportiness and spirited performance, while others have focused purely on safety and cargo space. A long list of options seems to be the thread that runs through them all. Each one of these top-rated family vehicles provides optional features, powertrains, and packages.
The 2021 Subaru Forester is one of the best all-around family vehicles. It has a subdued wagon body style but comes with standard all-wheel drive and a gutsy suspension system that hints at the prospect of an off-road adventure. You can easily accommodate all your family’s gear with 76.1 cubic feet of cargo volume – the most on this list.
The 2021 Subaru Forester doesn’t compete with stylish crossovers. Instead, it offers functionality. The Forester has 8.7 inches of ground clearance and an off-road traction mode that lends confidence to any frazzled parent with 5 screaming soccer players in tow. Plus, the thin roof pillars and low beltline offer more outward visibility than other family vehicles.
Configurations and Specs
The 2021 Subaru Forester comes in five configuration levels: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring. Like almost all Subarus, all-wheel drive is standard on all trims.
All Forester models are powered by the identical 2.5-liter flat-four-cylinder engine which makes 182 horsepower and can tow 1500 lbs. A constantly variable automatic transmission (CVT) connects to Subaru’s trademark AWD system.
2021 Toyota Camry
Sedans aren’t nearly as popular as they were 10 years ago, but the Toyota Camry remains viable as a family vehicle for 2021. It provides options. There are 12 model trims for the mid-sized Camry. You can choose the powerful V6 engine, 4 cylinders, or even a hybrid. There’s a front-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive. Plus, you can run through an exhaustive list of accessories and packages.
At a Manufacturer’s Recommended Sale Price (MSRP) of $24,970, the 2021 Toyota Camry is the most affordable family hauler on this list. The exterior has been updated and refreshed for 2021. It’s edgier now with sharp lines cut across the frame. However, it still earns top safety marks for standard automatic emergency braking and exceptional crash test ratings.
Configurations and Specs
The 2021 Toyota Camry is a midsize sedan accessible in six configuration levels: LE, SE, SE Nightshade, XSE, XLE, and TRD. A four-cylinder and an accessible V6 engine are offered. You can also get all-wheel drive with the four-cylinder.
The base four-cylinder engine pairs with a slick eight-speed automatic, but its acceleration numbers are unsatisfactory. A less powerful version of this engine works with a battery and two electric motors in the Camry hybrid, which is not any more exciting to drive than the base model powertrain. The actual gem of the lineup is the 301-hp V-6 that is accessible on the XLE and XSE versions in addition to the TRD variant.
According to auto sales statistics from CarSalesBase.com, the Toyota RAV4 is the top-selling SUV in the country. It has an attractive entry cost of $26,050. That’s not all that’s attractive about the RAV4 from Toyota. The RAV4 is stylish with beefy fenders, a sporty front grille, and dual chrome-tipped exhaust ports. There’s even a TRD off-road edition.
Beneath that stylish exterior is some important safety features. The 2021 RAV4 has blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, parking assistance, and 2 years of no-cost maintenance. There are advanced cameras and radar systems on the RAV4 that provide road sign recognition, lane-keeping functions, and pedestrian detection.
Configurations and Specs
The 2021 RAV4 is accessible in six configuration levels: LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, TRD Off-Road, and Limited. All include a 203-horsepower four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on the majority of the configuration levels, and those provide all-wheel drive as an option. The Adventure and the TRD Off-Road come standard with an updated AWD system which may enhance traction on loose and slippery road surfaces.
2021 Audi e-tron
With an MSRP of $65,900, the 2021 Audi e-tron SUV is the priciest family hauler on this list. It’s a fully electric crossover that promises a luxurious ride quality and enough technology to impress a 14-year-old social media influencer. The Audi e-tron is ideal for people who like the idea of traveling 200 miles on a single charge but find the interior of a Tesla to be far too austere.
The interior of the Audi E-Tron SUV is a home away from home. The 2021 Audi E-Tron has supportive front seats for all-day driving and 57 cubic feet of cargo space. It runs whisper quiet and you’d be excused for having to double-check if the vehicle is actually turned on. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2021 Audi e-tron the rank of Top Safety Pick+.
Configurations and Specs
The new Premium trim, which now functions as the entry-level spec for the 2021 e-tron SUV. With the addition of the Premium spec, there are currently 3 configurations available for the 2021 e-tron SUV, namely – Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige.
Beneath the e-tron’s bodywork are two electric motors, one situated in the front axle and the other in the rear. Collectively they provide computerized all-wheel drive, but the rear engine does the majority of the work. In regular driving scenarios, they create a joint 355 horsepower and 414 lb-ft of torque. But, putting the transmission in Sport mode temporarily unlocks 402 ponies and 490 lb-ft.
The 2021 Honda CR-V is a value-packed crossover SUV that has a hybrid fuel economy and a cavernous interior. According to Car and Driver, the Honda CR-V ranked number #5 in auto sales for 2020. The CR-V isn’t big on performance or style, but most family-minded buyers aren’t looking for those features.
It might not look like it from the exterior, but the interior of the CR-V opens up to 75.8 cubic feet of cargo space with the second row folded down. There’s a hands-free power liftgate, a customizable cubby in the center console, and the CR-V is a real fuel sipper. It gets 28 miles per gallon in the city and the hybrid version of the CR-V rakes in 40 MPG.
Configurations and Specs
The 2021 Honda CR-V is offered in four configuration levels: the LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. All include the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine (190 horsepower, 179 lb-ft of torque) and a constantly variable automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.
These are five of the top value family vehicles on the market today. As you can see, these vehicles don’t try to step on one another’s toes too much. You have specialists and all-arounders. There’s only one sedan on this list, but new families will certainly find other small vehicles to fill their needs. There’s also only one luxury vehicle in this list to reflect the current temperament of car buyers. In this economy, less is more.
Right now, the RAV4 has a vice grip on the family vehicle segment. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 has to be the winner of this group simply on the strength of new car sales alone. The value that Toyota has packed into the RAV4 will provide the benchmark for other automakers for years to come.
With the impacts of climate change becoming increasingly hard to ignore, more and more environmentally conscious consumers shift to alternative fuel vehicles.
According to a 2012 survey by French multinational corporation Capgemini, only 15% of respondents worldwide said they would purchase an alternative fuel vehicle. Demand for ecologically sensitive cars has risen since then, with over 74,000 hybrid vehicles registered in Spain and almost 22,000 alternatively fueled cars sold in Switzerland in 2018.
Whether you want to save the environment or save on gas money, an alternative fuel vehicle may seem like the right choice. However, it’s important to remember that, just like other products, alternative fuel vehicles have several different types, many of which may not appeal to the kind of driver that you are.
Alternative fuel is any fuel derived from a source other than petroleum. According to the US Department of Energy, most alternative fuels in the US are produced domestically and from renewable sources, meaning that the US is less dependent on other countries for oil. Countries worldwide view alternative fuels as a better option than diesel or gasoline in terms of air pollution.
Air pollution is a global problem, and the choice of fuel plays a significant part in it. Researchers from the International Council on Clean Transportation and two US universities found that around 385,000 people worldwide died prematurely in 2015 because of air pollution from vehicle exhaust emissions, and diesel vehicles caused 47% of the deaths.
Alternative fuels like ethanol, biodiesel, electricity, propane, hydrogen, and natural gas are attractive because they produce either fewer or no harmful air pollutants. Ethanol, produced from crops, produces less greenhouse gas than gasoline or diesel, while biodiesel, produced from animal fats and vegetable oils, produces fewer air pollutants than petroleum-based diesel. Propane and natural gas produce fewer air pollutants and greenhouse gases than gasoline, but hydrogen produces no harmful air pollutants. Electricity may seem like a great choice considering it would not cause any tailpipe emissions, but generating electricity would still produce greenhouse gases and pollutants.
Gas-electric hybrids are cars that combine a gasoline engine with at least one electric motor to move the vehicle. The hybrid motor then replenishes by recapturing energy through a regenerative braking system. There are several versions of hybrids used for different purposes, such as maximum fuel savings. The first hybrid models, from Honda and Toyota, arrived in the US in 1999. Gas-electric hybrids are considered the most common alternative fuel vehicles, with over 50 models in the market.
2. Plug-in hybrid
Plug-in hybrids have larger batteries than gas-electric hybrids, allowing the cars to run on electricity alone for limited distances, generating zero emissions. A plug-in hybrid’s battery pack can be fully recharged when connected to an electric power source like one at a public charging station or at home. A larger battery makes it more expensive but worth the 15- to 55-mile driving range powered solely on electricity. A larger hybrid battery is especially useful for people who have a short commute and can recharge the car daily. If the car loses charge, it will run on gas.
Electric vehicles run on battery power alone, which means it does not have a gas engine. The demand for electric cars has been growing since they were made available in 2010, but “range anxiety” prevents many from going fully electric. Drivers fear that they may end up driving too far, leaving them stranded before they can get to an electrical power source they can use to recharge their vehicle.
Any car that operates on diesel can also use biodiesel. Biodiesel is usually made from a combination of resources such as vegetable oil, recycled restaurant grease, and animal fats. It burns more cleanly than petroleum-based fuels and is non-toxic, sustainable, and biodegradable. However, most biodiesel contains a mixture with conventional diesel fuel. Biodiesel has also shown to partly solidify in below-freezing temperatures and corrode rubber hosing and seals.
Flexible-fuel vehicles run on fuel mixtures that contain up to 85% ethanol, made from corn. These have become more common in the US since the government required more vehicles to use renewable fuels combined with gasoline. Unfortunately, ethanol has less energy than gas, causing drivers of flex-fuel vehicles to gas up more frequently than if they had a car fuelled by gas. Many also believe that the corn made for ethanol pushes up the cost of corn made for food.
6. Natural gas
Natural gas vehicles use either liquefied or compressed gas to run a mileage similar to gasoline vehicles but with cleaner emissions. In 2013, the US Department of Energy estimated that around 112,000 natural gas vehicles were in operation. In 2017, over three million natural gas vehicles were in service in India alone.
7. Fuel cell
Cars powered by fuel cells produce zero emissions and can be up to three times more efficient than vehicles powered by gas. The fuel cells can convert oxygen and hydrogen into electricity, powering the car’s electric motor. They have yet to become widely available because of the lack of hydrogen fueling stations and the high cost of the vehicles.
Propane, sometimes known as liquefied petroleum gas, is a by-product of crude oil refining and natural gas processing. Propane vehicles are easy to maintain and produce reduced emissions; propane itself costs significantly less than gasoline but must be kept in a pressurized tank.
Alternative Fuel Vehicles – Which One is Right For You?
While steam- and solar-powered vehicles continue to be tested and developed for efficient and sustainable travel, the current options among alternative fuel vehicles seem promising. Deloitte estimates that electric vehicle sales will reach 21 million in 2030, and battery electric vehicles will account for 70% of total electric cars that same year. The cost of manufacturing batteries will reportedly continue to fall, making saving the environment all the more comfortable to do.
Winter weather presents both challenging outdoor conditions and potentially hazardous driving conditions. Cold temperatures, plus ice, snow, and freezing rain can cause slippery roads and wreak havoc on your vehicle if you’re not prepared. If you live in a place with moderate to severe winters, keep reading to find out 10 tips for winterizing your car, truck, or SUV.
One of the first things to do in preparation for winter weather is to take your car in for a winterizing service. If you have some mechanical ability, you can also do most of these things yourself. The main thing to get checked is your battery. Low temperatures decrease your battery power, which can make an already-weak battery have even more problems. The next areas to check include the following:
Cooling system and proper antifreeze ratio and levels
Belts and hoses
These are all things to keep on top of at any time in the year, but getting stranded far from home in cold and hazardous winter weather is far worse than in milder times of the year.
Not all places allow studded tires, or if they do, only for a certain period of time. Studs do help your tires grip the road better in ice or snow. Another option is winter tires. Non-winter tires tend to harden in below-freezing temperatures, which makes it more difficult for them to grip the road. Winter tires are designed with different compounds that resist hardening in freezing temperatures.
Winterize Your Wipers
In the service section, it was recommended that you check and replace wipers. However, you can go a step further and install winter wipers. Similar to winter tires, these wipers are designed with rubber compounds that resist ice-hardening the blades. Make sure to remove them in the spring, or whenever it stops freezing in your area, as the blades are heavier and can tax the wiper motor. Another step you can take is to use wiper fluid formulated for cold conditions, ice, and snow.
Even if you don’t think you’ll be traveling long distances in bad weather, it’s a good idea to prepare a winter safety kit and keep it in your car for emergencies. You never know when you might get stuck on the road due to a sudden weather system coming in. The kit should contain the following items:
Flashlight with good batteries
First aid kit
Knit hat and gloves
Make Sure Your Gas Tank is at Least Half Full
In the winter, it’s more important to keep your tank at least half full. One reason is that having more gas in the tank resists condensation. The second reason is that if you get stuck in bad weather or snarled traffic due to bad weather, you can make it through without running out of gas. The third reason is that running your engine and the heater might be your only warmth if you get stranded and are waiting for help.
Check Your Tire Pressure Often
Changes of 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the outside temperature can mean a fluctuation in tire pressure of 1 PSI. It’s important to check your tire pressure more often in the winter for this reason. Look to your driver’s side door jamb for the correct cold PSI for your vehicle. Don’t go by the number on the tires, as that is simply the maximum load.
Any time that you prepare to head out in winter weather, you should check the road and weather conditions. Temperature and precipitation can affect traction. For example, zero degree weather will give you better traction on ice or snow versus 32-degree weather. Higher winter temperatures make surfaces more slippery.
Have A Winter Weather Emergency Plan
Go over what to do if you ever get stuck in a winter storm. Don’t leave your car, as it may be your only available shelter. Put out road flares if necessary. Keep your dome lights on to attract attention. Don’t run your car engine for a long period of time, as it might cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
Drive Appropriately For Conditions
The majority of accidents in winter weather are caused by drivers who are not driving for conditions. Remember that you’ll need more stopping distance on slippery roads. Even if you have a 4WD, it won’t help you stop if you’re driving too fast. Driving slower will make it easier to stop. If you have a manual transmission, you can downshift for engine braking instead of using your brakes.
Know Your Vehicle and Carry Chains
Some vehicles are harder to drive in winter conditions than others. For example, if you own a two-wheel-drive pickup truck, you’ll want to keep something heavy in the bed to increase traction for the rear tires. Rear-wheel-drive sports cars are among the worst vehicles to drive in snow. If you don’t own a 4WD, it’s also a good idea to practice putting chains on your vehicle, so that you can do it in an emergency. Chains might be the only thing that can get you out of a hazardous situation. If you’re traveling a pass, you might encounter a chains-required order before you can get over it.
Ultimately, if you can avoid traveling in hazardous winter weather, that’s the best choice. More vehicles on the road simply make conditions worse and also makes it harder for emergency crews to work. If you absolutely must go out, use the previous nine tips to be prepared. If you have a 4WD vehicle, take that instead of a car or 2WD pickup.