16 Car Specs You NEED to Know – CNET

Ever heard the expression: “Figures don’t lie…and liars don’t figure”.  It’s easy to feel confused or overwhelmed by statistics…especially when it comes to vehicles. Here’s 16 critical car specs explained in simple terms for max comprehension.


Some car specs make total sense…and some you can just largely ignore

Let’s jump right in:

  1. Zero to Sixty – zero to sixty is the holy grail of performance benchmarks it is obviously how fast a car can go from a standing stop to 60 miles an hour. the quickest it can do that either with a really good driver on a manual transmission or relying on its automatic transmission. The thing about 0-60 is you never do that (yourself)! How often in real life do you go from a standing stop to 60? Nonetheless it’s a good benchmark because it encompasses a lot of acceleration phases of a car. You see cars don’t accelerate as quickly through all ranges of speed. They may be quicker 15 to 23, then slow down a little bit 24 to 46 and then speed up again 46 to 60. It’s kind of a wavy curve. 0-60 captures all that in totality and gives you kind of one big lump number
  2. Horsepower – good grief they spent a lot of time screaming about this in car advertisements and specs don’t they? Horsepower has this arcane definition from way back in the day it’s the power you need to lift 550 pounds one foot off the ground in one second. There’s a time factor there because it expresses work. Horsepower is an even more peripheral number than 0 to 60 time you care about things like acceleration, feel, fuel economy, towing capacity…those things are all related to horsepower but they’re not expressed literally by the number.


Windshield Wipers 101 – AAA

AAA shows you how to remove and install new windshield wiper blades plus how to add windshield washer fluid.


Hi…I’m David Bennett with AAA.  As we’re all spending a lot more time at home nowadays, we thought it’d be a good idea to go over some basic car maintenance tips. So let’s look at your wiper blades the first thing you want to look at is whether or not they’re just laying down are they brittle are they torn they’re very easy to replace and really the easiest way to do that is to pop this cap off and then they slide straight down but you need to be careful that this doesn’t fall down and hit anything.

So one thing you want to think about with wiper blades is they’re not all the same size for each vehicle so on this vehicle we have two different size so you want to make sure that you measure them properly if not when you go to the auto parts store…look it up in the book and make sure you get the right size wiper blades for your specific vehicle.

So when you’re ready to put them on all you do is slide this in just like you took it off and then slide it up it locks into place and fold it down so one of the things that most people do is they forget about the rear windshield wiper. So you want to make sure that you replace this one as well. If you take a look at it you can see this one is really torn and worn very badly. So you want to go
ahead and have this replaced.

For the last blue level we want to check is your windshield washer fluid that’s always designated by a blue cap. You can open it…look down see if you can see any and if you don’t just go ahead and top it off until it becomes visual at the top.

If you’re not comfortable using a free core you can always use a funnel.




Best Hybrids to Buy – Roadshow’s Favorite Gasoline-Electric Vehicles

Availability and variety of hybrid vehicles on the market these days has grown more than you probably realize.  Virtually all will save you money at the pump, but they’re not all created equal. Here are some of the Roadshow crew’s favorite gasoline-electric vehicles: Smart buys from a variety of auto-makers.

Gas prices may be the lowest they’ve been in years but that doesn’t mean you should be flagrantly wasteful.

There are plenty of excellent hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles available today which all save loads of fuel and in no particular order here are some of the Roadshow team’s absolute favorites:

1) Toyota Highlander Hybrid – …a large and versatile 300 utility vehicle. This thing has an upscale interior plenty of high-tech goodies and loads of refinement. Of course it also delivers incredible fuel economy. The front drive model stickers at 36 miles per gallon combined that’s crazy for something that can seat up to eight people.

2) Honda Insight – Our next selection is not only thriftier than warren buffett a legendary cheapskate it’s also roomy inside has a primo cabin and looks like a normal car the Honda Insight is totally a stealth hybrid. It’ll get you better than 50 miles per gallon without even trying yeah nothing about it screams economy hypermiling or tree-hugging hippie that collects discarded dryer lint to spin into yarn for knitting eco-friendly clothing. No it’s not the fastest thing around but it still got plenty of giddyup for normal use. According to Honda, the Insights two motor hybrid drivetrain has a total system output of 150 1.5 horsepower and I’m not sure which half of the horse they’re counting but I do hope it’s the front.

3) Porsche Panamera – Now it’s time for a plug-in hybrid and a luxury model no less Porsche offers a couple different gasoline electric powered in its Panamera there’s the four hybrid and the Turbo S e-hybrid each powertrain is offered in the standard sedan, extended-length Panamera executive and even the sport Turismo wagon body styles because that’s not confusing. I guess the Germans just love complicating things of us kind of a spliff de vivre isn’t a secret haba. Anyway the less potent of these two power trains features a twin turbocharged v6 augmented by an electric motor. This package delivers 462 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The more muscular variant is built around a twin-turbo v8 that is also bolstered by a motor that set up gift chest 680 horses and 626 pounds of twist. In either case a 14 point one kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack provides an electrical only driving range of about 14 miles. As for fuel efficiency, expect
right around 50 mpg for each powertrain less than half that when running on only gasoline hey before moving on which Panamera body style is your favorite. I think I like the sport Turismo best but vote in the poll by hitting or clicking on the box somewhere near the top of the screen. Toyota is the automaker best known for building hybrids…but Ford has sold more than its share of gasoline electric vehicles as well.

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Bad Catalytic Converter? – How to Know When

The most important part of your vehicle’s exhaust system is its catalytic converter.  Why?  Because it’s purpose is to reduce smog and toxic tailpipe discharges by “converting” hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide into harmless nitrogen.


New laws were implemented in 1968 mandating a reduction of auto emissions in the U.S., thus making catalytic converters an integral part of all new vehicles.  They’re now utilized in virtually every automobile world wide.  Since catalytic converters can’t operate in the presence of lead, the introduction of catalytic converters also ended production of leaded gasoline.

The byproducts of a vehicle engine are:

  • Water
  • Nitrogen (only some)
  • Carbon dioxide

These molecules are similar to the chemical output of animals. In reality however, the internal combustion process within an engine has never been 100% effective because it creates leftover unburned hydrocarbons.

Prior to 1960, these emissions were just permitted to be set free into the air…but this was later determined to be a public environmental health danger.

If a catalytic converter is attached to the tailpipe of a vehicle, it rapidly dissolves a very large percentage of the leftover unburnt hydrocarbons, and the result is a much cleaner emission. But, because the catalytic converter needs to operate at a high speed to catch the unburnt hydrocarbons before it goes out of the tailpipe, this now puts a limit on how effective the oxidation procedure can be.

Carbon monoxide emissions of cars and trucks have become much cleaner over the past several years…because catalytic converters have advanced tremendously due to technology advances. The  real challenge however, has been the reduction of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions.  The primary reason is because carbon dioxide cannot be dissolved into something less harmful. It’s an acknowledged greenhouse gas and it contributes to global warming.

Catalytic converters in consumer vehicles operate at a high temperature of around 750 degrees F or 400 degrees C.  Industrial use catalytic converters can often be larger than those utilized in consumer vehicles and also run at much higher temps.

Here are a few standard components of catalytic converters:

1) Heat exchanger
2) Catalytic bed – this takes the form of either a honeycombed ceramic or ceramic beads concealed in the catalyst.
3) A line burner

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Brake Light Communications for Teens

How to Teach Your Teen Silent Brake Light Communication with Other Drivers.

Regardless of age…Safe driving is all about communication. Without actually speaking, you have to understand what other drivers are doing – or are about to do – and they must know the same about you. This kind of non-verbal interaction between drivers is crucial to preventing collisions and injuries, but it’s harder than you might think, especially for new drivers.

Teen drivers, after all, have plenty to focus on already. Remember, everything on the road is new for them and their inexperience means they may not have the skills to communicate properly yet.

Brake lights’ primary purpose is to help us communicate with fellow drivers. They exist exclusively to let other drivers know that your vehicle is slowing down and that they should do the same. The same applies to turn signals; their sole purpose is to help you communicate with other drivers. The catch is that we have to use them properly to get the safety benefits.

Are you prepared to help your teen use these tools to their full potential?

Sometimes teens have a bad habit of hard braking at the last minute. Your teen might argue that he or she is still able to come to a full stop in time, so it’s OK.  But this ignores all of the other drivers behind your teen. We all use brake lights to know whether traffic is slowing or continuing ahead of us, and sudden stops make it much harder for other drivers to react.

On your next practice drive, ask your teen to imagine driving without brake lights. How would that change the way we drive? Sure, we’d still have traffic lights and stop signs, but they can only tell us what traffic should be doing, not what it’s actually doing. You might plan to slow down for a changing traffic light, for example, but without brake lights, the driver behind you might assume you’re going to try and catch the light, and he or she might want to do the same.

While we hope that all drivers are scanning the road and looking carefully at other vehicles, sometimes we make dangerous assumptions behind the wheel. Brake lights, however, make the situation much clearer. The driver behind might still be upset that you didn’t try to make the light, but a little bit of road rage is much better than a rear-end collision.

Eventually, your teen will learn to use brake lights to judge stopping and following distances, and you can explain how other drivers count on your teen’s lights in the same way. This will help your teen become a much better communicator on the road, all without saying a word.

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Lifesaving Vehicle Escape Tools

AAA New Research Finding: Vehicle Escape Tools mostly effective in breaking side windows made of tempered glass…but NOT effective at penetrating laminated glass.

Unwary Motorists may not realize that 33% of 2018 vehicle models indeed have laminated side windows…a virtually impenetrable safety glass intended to lessen chances of occupant ejection during a collision. AAA urges drivers to:

  1. Know what type of side window glass is installed on their vehicle,
  2. Keep a secure and easily accessible escape tool in their car and
  3. Have a backup plan in case an escape tool cannot be used or doesn’t work.

“Drivers should pick a tool they feel comfortable with and find easy to use, but most importantly they should store it somewhere that is secure and within reach following a collision,” ~ John Nielsen/AAA

Being prepared in an emergency can greatly improve the chances of survival, especially if drivers and their passengers have become trapped in the vehicle. AAA strongly recommends drivers do the following:

Advanced Preparation Includes:

  • Memorize the type of glass the vehicle windows are made of – tempered or laminated. If the car has at least one tempered window, this will be the best point of exit in an emergency. Also, remember – standard escape tools will not break laminated glass.
  • Keep an escape tool in the car that the driver is comfortable using, has previously tested and is easy to access following a collision. To make sure a vehicle escape tool is working properly, test it ahead of time on a softer surface such as a piece of soft wood. The tool works if the tip impacts the surface, leaving a small indent in the material
  • Plan an exit strategy in advance and communicate it to everyone in the car. This will help avoid confusion in an emergency, which could increase the time it takes to exit the vehicle. Also, have a backup plan in case an escape tool cannot be used or doesn’t work.

If trapped in a vehicle, remember there is a S-U-R-E way out:

  • Stay calm. While time is of the essence – work cautiously to ensure everyone safely exits the vehicle.
  • Unbuckle seat belts and check to see that everyone is ready to leave the car when it’s time.
  • Roll down or break a window – remember if the car is sinking in water, once the window is open the water will rush into the car at a faster rate. If the window will not open and the car has tempered glass, use an escape tool to break a side window to escape. Drivers should also remember that:
    – Drivers and/or occupants should make every effort to roll down a window as soon as the vehicle enters the water. However, if a window will not open or cannot be broken because it is laminated, call 911 immediately.
    – If the vehicle is submerged, a hammer-style escape tool (as opposed to a spring-loaded-style) could be much harder to swing underwater.
  • Exit the vehicle quickly and move everyone to safety.
    Call 911 – while this is typically the first step in an emergency, if a vehicle has hit the water or is on fire, it is best to try to escape first.

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Behind the Wheel Driving Behaviors

Like any other personality traits…what is considered ‘OK’ driving behavior while we’re behind the wheel and going wherever can vary widely from person to person.

We know that speeding, eating and texting are dangerous on the road, yet many of us have gotten used to these behaviors and see them as perfectly ordinary. We justify unsafe, even ridiculous driving habits because we trust ourselves behind the wheel – maybe more than we should. And we often have different rules for ourselves than we do for other drivers.

‘Walk the Talk’ on driving standards that you set for your teen.

Different driving standards

For example, let’ say you’re meeting a friend for dinner and they text you to ask for your ETA, and you text back “be there in 10 minutes.” You rationalize it as a rare, quick & harmless event…and you were extra cautious.  But when you see another driver sending a text while your teen is behind the wheel…are you as forgiving?

The reality is, of course, that we are just as dangerous as the distracted drivers around us…and no one is immune to the potential consequences.

Setting an example

Like all other role model situtions…How you drive tells your teen what is ‘OK’ behind the wheel. Remember, actions always speak louder than words…including and especially driving behaviors. Giving a verbal disclaimer to “do as I say, not as I just did” doesn’t fly and your actions will be emulated…it’s just a matter of time.

Setting a good example for what is ‘safe & acceptable driving behavior’ is always your best parental bet. We’ve got plenty of resources to help, but it’s up to you to make it stick.

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5 Secrets Your Auto Mechanic Won’t Divulge

Most vehicles are likely to need some routine maintenance or minor repair work during any given year…unless it’s still under warranty and/or fresh off the dealer’s lot…stuff that might range from regular oil changes to replacing a leaky rear main transmission seal.

Most car mechanics operate under the philosophy of:  Don’t wait for a small problem to becomes a big problem?

The consummate mechanic will tell you what absolutely needs to be fixed now,  what could wait…and sometimes even be ignored. A mechanic like that is pretty rare. So the best thing you can do is educate yourself.  Here are several tips that even the best mechanic might not tell you:

1. Change your oil yourself…yes you can

Oil changes are about the most common routine maintenance need for cars. You can probably DIY for less than $45…or have a mechanic do it for you for around $75 …and they’re easy money for repair shops and dealers. But if you don’t mind getting dirty and having to deal with disposing of the used oil, an oil change twice a year is the classic DIY option.

2. You can probably ignore that check engine light for now (unless it’s flashing)

This is a real panic creator for many inexperienced owners, but it usually just indicates a non-serious problem with the vehicle’s exhaust system. Unless you have a really old car with emission components that could be wearing out.  So for many cases, you can ignore it…with one exception: if it’s flashing, get your mechanic to look at it ASAP.  And you can’t ignore it forever either. But you car isn’t going to blow up if you wait.

3. Buff that out yourself.

This is more of a body shop issue than a mechanic issue. Minor scratches and dings can be handled with a color coded paint pen from the auto parts store.

4. Buying a new car is sometimes your best option

The truth is that there are times when a new car is the best choice. A new car rarely has serious issues…and if something does go wrong, the dealer will usually fix it under warranty.  But seasoned mechanics hate this because they want you to buy a good used car and employ them to repair it.

5. Don’t keep your car forever.

[See #4 above].  Any bona-fide hard core mechanic will tell you to drive your car until the wheels fall off — which they won’t let happen…because you keep them in business.

Takeaways from this post:

  • A genuinely trustworthy auto mechanic…with all the required professional certifications…is a vital asset.
  • But most mechanics avoid telling customers some things.
  • Self education when dealing with car mechanics is always prudent.

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7 Vehicles Buyers Regretted Buying

Is you new-car honeymoon over?   ConsumerReports does their Annual Owner Satisfaction Survey…and tallies responses on 300,000 vehicles. Something to watch out for!

Most people know that buying a new car is an “emotional” experience.  The old saying goes…”when it comes to buying a new car, people generally make a choice based on emotion (i.e. how the car will make you feel when you own it)…then back up that emotional choice with a “logical” justification (i.e. I’ll save money because it gets great gas mileage).  Sometimes though, one or both of those components go awry…and buyers remorse sets in.Consumer Reports recent survey of new car purchasers focused on asking owners of 2014-2017 model-year cars if they had it to do all over again…would they buy the same car again. The good news is that 70 percent of the survey respondents essentially said “yes”…they’re happy.  That leaves many people however, that were something less than satisfied.

The following list of vehicles from the most most unsatisfied buyers are what you might call…the bottom of the barrel.

Least-Satisfying Overall: Acura ILX

The Acura ILX is a swing and a miss, in both CR testing and when judged by owners. It falls 10 percentage points below the Mercedes-Benz CLA in the same category, itself a disappointing entry. Across all car types, the ILX has the lowest satisfaction, followed closely by the Dodge Dart and Jeep Compass. The ILX was challenged from the start as a pricey, dressed-up Honda Civic. Acura made several key updates for the 2016 model year, but even when looking at ratings on just those freshened sedans, they are no different than older model years.

Owners say:

  • “Lacks acceleration, noisy, poor quality paint, shaky ride… very expensive for the poor quality offered.”
  • “It shifts too soon into higher gear, making acceleration feel sluggish unless under hard acceleration.”
  • “Road noise is very pronounced. I will be trading the ILX in as soon as I can on something quieter.”

Small SUV: Jeep Compass

Lackluster performance, a cramped and austere cabin, narrow front seats, and difficult rearward views are just some of the faults we found with Jeep’s small SUV entry. The Compass has lost its way with owners, too. Our survey found that just 42 percent of respondents said they would definitely buy one again. Complaints included feeble acceleration and too much road noise, and it was rated uncommonly poor in overall comfort.

Owners say:

  • “Doesn’t have any power; the gas mileage could be better.”
  • “The driver’s seat cannot be raised, and it is hard for a short person to see over a bulky dash.”
  • “The air conditioning indicator for on or off is very difficult to see.”

Midsized SUV: Nissan Pathfinder

The Pathfinder name conjures memories of rugged, truck-based forebears, but this latest softer, gentler iteration is more minivan-like. Frankly, it lacks off-road ruggedness and is boring to drive. Even owners are nonplussed, with the survey showing that they didn’t rate any areas of the vehicle highly. Just 50 percent of owners were very satisfied with its value. To make matters worse, reliability remains an ongoing concern.

Owners say:

  • “It had quite a few issues when it was new which the dealer had to handle.”
  • “I’m just very disappointed with the car. Sideboard popped off. Trim on front bumper keeps popping out. Gas mileage is severely lower than what was advertised.”
  • “Seats are very uncomfortable. Four of us did a road trip, and all four drivers could not get the seat adjusted so your back didn’t hurt.”

Click Read More for details on these models too:

  • Small Car: Dodge Dart
  • Midsized Sedan: Chrysler 200
  • Minivan: Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Pickup Truck: Nissan Frontier

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Tweens – Never Give Up Till They Buckle Up

The holiday season can create an abundance of extra errands, shopping and rushing around special events.  Seat Belt Safety for Tweens can be a grey area that’s misunderstood or overlooked.

THE QUESTION: When Is My Child Ready for an Adult Seat Belt?

TWEENS – a child  between 8 and 12 years old…THIS is the time to transition your child out of a booster seat and into a seat belt.  Booster seat usage should continue until your kids outgrow the size limits of the booster seats or are big enough to fit properly in seat belts.

NOTE: All children under 13 ride in the back seat for maximum safety.

Why Parents & Caregivers Forget About or Overlook Seat Belt Safety

Parenting is full of distractions and often hectic… it’s easy to forget or forego buckling up altogether.  These excuses are often given for not buckling up.  Sound familiar?  Do whatever it takes to buckle up and make sure your kids do the same:

  1. Rushed and chaotic pre-travel routines
  2. Distractions
  3. Need to minimize conflict or keep the peace
  4. Seat belt discomfort or perceived nuisance when in a hurry
  5. Shorter distances, slower speeds and familiar roads falsely associated with lower risk
  6. Kids persistently asking to ride in the front seat

Never Negotiate with an Unbuckled Child…No Matter How Hurried or Chaotic!

As a parent, sometimes you let your kids have their way. But their safety should never be up for negotiation, no matter how much they push back on the seat belts being uncomfortable or unnecessary for just a “short drive.” Here are some tips to help you win the seat belt battle:

  • Consistently Model Seat Belt Safety
  • Never Give Up Until They Buckle Up
  • Never Assume Your Kids Are Buckled Up

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