CrossDrilledRotors.ca Official Blog

The Canadian Brakes Blog

  • Bedding In Brake Rotors and Brake pads

    Bedding In Brake Rotors

    Anytime you install new brake rotors, brake pads, or both, it's advantageous to bed in your new brakes. Bedding in your brakes is just an industry term to explain breaking in your new brakes.  Bedding in your brakes helps transfer an even layer of brake pad material onto the brake rotor which assists in smoother brake operation and improved braking power.

    Having a uniform layer of pad material on the brake rotor is essential to minimizing brake squeal and vibration. For this procedure, you will need a good stretch of road and no traffic.

    Use common sense and take precaution as DBC does not take responsibility for erratic driving, accidents, or damages done.

    Note: When using DBC Zinc-Coated rotors, as soon as you start braking, the friction from the pads will strip the zinc from the pad surface, turning it Silver and leaving the holes, slots, and the rest of the rotor zinc coated in the color you selected.

    • Perform 3-4 medium stops from 45mph. Slightly more aggressive than normal braking. You don't need to come to a complete stop for each pass. This brings the brake rotors up to temperature so they are not exposed to sudden thermal shock.
    •  Make 8-10 aggressive stops from 60mph down to 15mph. For this set of semi-stops, you want to be firm and aggressive, but not to the point where ABS activates and the wheels lock up. It's important to note that you don't come to a complete stop but rather a semi-stop (~15mph). Accelerate back up to 60mph as soon as you slowed down to your semi-stop.
    • The brake pads and brake rotors are extremely hot at this point and sitting on one point will imprint the pad material onto the surface unevenly. This can cause vibration and uneven braking.
    •  You may notice that your brakes will start fading, and sometimes smoke, after the 6th or 7th pass. This fade will stabilize and will gradually recess once your brakes have cooled down to normal operating temperatures. Drive carefully as your brakes may feel softer for the next few minutes.
    • Try not to come to a complete stop and find a stretch of road where you can coast for 5-10 minutes, preferably without using your brakes.

    After the break-in procedure, there may be a light blue tint on your brake rotors as well as a gray film deposit. The blue tint shows that your rotor has reached the appropriate temperature during the bedding process, and the gray film is some of the pad transfer material.

    Some cars and trucks require two cycles of the bedding in procedure. This may be the case if you are using old brake rotors with new brake pads, or new brake rotors with old pads. This may also be the case if you don't think you fully heated up the brakes in the initial bedding procedure. In any case, it's required that you wait at least 10-15 minutes between each cycle as you don't want them to overlap.

  • The 10 Most Expensive Car Repairs

    The 10 Most Expensive Car Repairs

    http://www.alpinair.co.uk/classic-vintage-cars/fitted_compressor/ Source: Alpinair.co.uk

     

    9. Brake Line – $1,000

    In terms of safety, nothing is more important than the brakes on your car. And while new brake pads are comparatively inexpensive, you could end up shelling out big bucks if the brake line that carries needed brake fluid blows or disintegrates. Most brake line repairs cost about $1,000. Mechanics will almost always push to replace the entire line in the vehicle rather than try to patch or fix a broken line. Unfortunately, this type of repair is absolutely necessary for safety reasons. Nobody can, or should, drive if the brake line in their car is damaged or not functioning properly.

    http://autorepair.about.com/od/fixityourself/ss/brakeline_repl.htm Source: Autorepair.about.com
    Source: Autorepair.about.com
    8. Catalytic Converter – $1,500

    Motorists who live in a jurisdiction that requires vehicles to be emissions tested most likely have a catalytic converter installed. This device is used to convert the harmful chemicals produced in exhaust fumes into harmless ones that do not damage the environment or the air that people breathe. It is a very noble car component. But it is also an expensive one. Situated between the engine and the muffler, a catalytic converter is easy for a mechanic to find and replace. But the part is pretty expensive. Expect to pay at least $1,500 for this replacement. Catalytic converters can almost never be repaired when a problem arises. They almost always need to be replaced. However, you can feel good about helping the environment as you shell out money for this particular part.

    http://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-much-does-it-cost-repair-catalytic-converter.htm Source: Angieslist.com
    Source: Angieslist.com
    7. Head Gasket – $2,000

    The saying “blowing a gasket” exists for a reason. It refers to people overheating and steam coming out of their ears. And that is exactly what happens to a car when it blows a head gasket. When a head gasket goes, it sprays coolant and oil, white smoke billows from the engine and exhaust, and the engine quickly overheats. Few things produce more of a mess on a car than a blown head gasket. This is because the head gasket seals the engine cylinders and stops coolant and oil from leaking out. Despite the mess and drama it produces, a head gasket is a relatively cheap car part. However, the labor involved to replace a head gasket is not cheap. Replacing a head gasket typically costs $2,000—possibly more depending on the damage done to the rest of the car when one blows.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_gasket Source: En.wikipedia.org
    Source: En.wikipedia.org
    6. Camshaft – $1,500 to $3,000

    A camshaft is an essential component in any vehicle. It controls how the engine takes in air. Over time, the camshaft can become quite dirty and get plugged up with dirt and debris. If not cleaned regularly through oil changes and valve cleanings, a camshaft will eventually break and the cost to replace one ranges from $1,500 to $3,000. Not cheap. The high cost is due to the fact that the repair requires a lot of labor. To avoid this expensive repair, people should be sure to keep up with maintenance such as oil changes and tune-ups. If the check engine light on the dashboard comes on, there could be a problem with the camshaft. Don’t ignore this indicator and instead get the car checked out before it’s too late.

    http://www.pelicanparts.com/BMW/techarticles/E36-Camshaft-Removal/E36-camshaft-removal.htm Source: Pelicanparts.com
    Source: Pelicanparts.com
    5. Suspension – $2,500 to $3,500

    We rarely notice the suspension on our car. Yet a lot goes into the suspension and it is an integral part of any vehicle. After all, the suspension is what keeps us from feeling every bump and dip in the road. A proper working suspension system is comprised of the following parts: shocks, struts, springs, control arms and tie rods. If only one of these parts breaks, it is not too expensive to repair or replace. But a complete suspension overhaul can be super expensive in terms of parts and labor. And you can usually count on a mechanic saying that the whole suspension system needs to be replaced at a cost of about $3,500—even if only one component breaks. Do yourself a favor and get a second opinion when it comes to your car’s suspension.

    http://blogs.youwheel.com/2014/08/14/test-drive-review-2014-acura-rdx-part-5-suspension-and-chassis/ Source: Blogs.youwheel.com
    Source: Blogs.youwheel.com
    4. Airbags – $2,500 to $4,000

    There is no question that airbags save lives. In fact, airbags are, arguably, the greatest safety invention in automotive history. However, once they deploy, airbags almost always have to be replaced—and this is costly. Also, the steering wheel and glove box in a car may also need to be replaced after airbags deploy. All tallied, people can spend anywhere from $2,500 to as much as $4,000 getting the front seat of their car back in proper working condition after the airbags have deployed. They save lives but really do make a mess of a car. Of course, if your airbags are deployed it is probably because you have been in an accident or collision, in which case new airbags may be the least of your worries.

    http://www.eurocarnews.com/19/0/244/1499/2010-volkswagen-jetta-sportwagen-inflated-airbags/gallery-detail.html Source: Eurocarnews.com
    Source: Eurocarnews.com
    3. Transmission – $4,000 to $5,000

    Transmission problems can stop any car dead in its tracks. Without a proper functioning transmission, the wheels on a vehicle are unable to turn. And replacing the transmission assembly on most cars runs between $4,000 and $5,000. It could cost more depending on the severity of the problem. The transmission is a complex system that controls the flow of power from the engine to the driveshaft. It experiences more wear and tear than most other parts of a vehicle due to the heat and friction produced by the many moving and interacting components. Signs that there could be problems with the transmission include the gears slipping, a dragging clutch, a burning smell and a humming noise when the car is parked. Be alert to these signs, as the sooner you take action to repair a transmission the less it will cost you.

     

    https://www.tes.com/lessons/mqOxf0s2nLJ7dA/denmark Source: Tes.com

     

    2. Hybrid Car Battery – $6,000

    Many people are dreaming of the day when they no longer have to buy gasoline and their electric car will operate on battery power alone. However, the batteries used in cars, notably hybrid vehicles, are hugely expensive. Replacing one faulty battery in a hybrid car can cost upwards of $6,000. Not cheap! Any type of rechargeable battery slowly loses its ability to hold a charge over time, including the batteries used in hybrid cars. Almost all hybrid car batteries on the market today will die before their owner gets 10 years of use out of the vehicle. And replacing this battery also means replacing the computer system for the car, which can quickly add up to $6,000 or more. While popular, hybrid cars have not caught on with more drivers mainly because of the massive hidden costs associated with the vehicles, notably the cost to replace their batteries.http://news.pcc.edu/2012/05/hybrid-repair-research/ Source: News.pcc.edu

     

    1. Engine and Cylinders – $7,000 to $10,000

    “Major engine damage” are words nobody wants to hear. This means that your car is in big trouble. It’s practically kaput. And the worst, and most expensive, type of engine damage involves the vehicle’s cylinders. If the cylinders at the core of the engine breakdown, then the car will not be driveable and you could be on the hook for a repair in the area of $7,000 to $10,000. This is because a mechanic will have to remove the entire engine from the car to replace the cylinders. The best bet is usually to get a whole new engine installed rather than try to repair the old broken one. Or, better yet, ditch the car entirely and go buy a new one. For $7,000 to $10,000, you can get a pretty decent new car. And beware, the larger and more powerful a vehicle’s engine (such as those in trucks and sport utility vehicles) the more expensive they are to repair or replace.

    http://ecurrent.fit.edu/blog/panther-voices/brooke-astronomy-astrophysics/thermodynamics-scenes/ Source: Ecurrent.fit.edu
    Source: Ecurrent.fit.edu
  • 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Tesla Motors

    10 Things You Likely Didn’t Know About Tesla Motors

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/19/business/19electric.html?_r=0 Via NYTimes.com

     

    9. Tesla is Building the World’s Largest Battery Factory

    Demand for Tesla’s vehicles is so great, and sales are forecast to be so robust, that the company is now making a huge investment to build the world’s largest battery factory, and one of the biggest buildings on the entire planet. Out in the California dessert, Tesla Motors is constructing a 5.8 million square foot factory to make batteries for its electric vehicles. Once completed, the factory will produce enough batteries to power 500,000 electric cars a year. In fact, the new Tesla battery plant will produce the equivalent of the world’s entire lithium ion battery production today under one roof. That is a massive and impressive undertaking.

     

    https://www.teslamotors.com/gigafactory Via teslamotors.com

    8. Despite the Hype, Tesla Motors is Still a Small Car Manufacturer

    Despite the current hype and daily reports about its progress as a company, Tesla Motors is still a relatively small player in the automotive sector. Over the past 10 years, Tesla Motors has shipped about 100,000 total cars to its customers. By comparison, the big three automakers in the U.S. shipped 17 million new cars in 2015 alone. BMW and Mercedes-Benz sold nearly 500,000 luxury cars in the U.S. last year. While Tesla Motors is clearly an innovator, influencer, and is pushing the automotive industry into the all electric vehicle market, they remain relatively small compared to the big players in the automotive space.http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1093659_tesla-needs-more-office-space-too-its-not-just-the-gigafactory Via greencarreports.com

    7. Currently, Tesla is Primarily a Battery Manufacturer

    While they are known for the electric cars they produce, the reality is that Tesla is currently more of a battery manufacturer than it is an automotive manufacturer. Making long lasting, state-of-the-art batteries pay the bills at Tesla and drives investments into the company’s electric car technology. Tesla builds and sells high-tech batteries for use in commercial buildings, residential homes and municipal power grids. Some Tesla batteries are even being used to power wineries in northern California. The batteries are also used to help power solar panels and produce solar energy. Tesla takes the proceeds from sales of its batteries and pumps them into the car division, using the money to further development of its Model 3 and other electric vehicles.

     

    http://insideevs.com/look-inside-a-tesla-model-s-battery-pac/ Via insideevs.com

     

    6. Tesla Has Been on the Verge of Bankruptcy Several Times

    Tesla Motors has followed the path of many start-up companies. It has burned through cash and come close to bankruptcy on several occasions. Tesla has also had to go out for new rounds of venture capital financing many times. In 2013, behind on development of its Model S electric car, Tesla found itself with only about two weeks’ cash left in the bank. Elon Musk admitted at a recent shareholders meeting that the company was on the brink of being insolvent in late 2013. However, each time it looked like the end was near, Tesla Motors found a way to raise needed cash and stay afloat. That is good news as the company has also been the target of takeovers from many other companies in recent years, including…

     

    http://unbonmotgroundswell.blogspot.ca/2015/04/elon-musk-nearly-sold-tesla-to-google.html Via unbonmotgroundswell.blogspot.ca

     

    5. Google Has Tried to Buy Tesla Motors Several Times

    Search engine giant Google is aggressively moving into the car space, notably with self-driving autonomous vehicles. The company is obsessively working on developing the world’s first completely autonomous self-driving automobile. Google co-founder Larry Page is reported to be obsessed with the notion of cars that drive themselves around. Also of interest are all electric cars. The advanced technology developed by Tesla Motors, especially its battery technology, is extremely enticing to Google, which is why the company has taken several runs at Tesla over the years. Larry Page and Elon Musk are friends, and it has been reported that Larry Page has, several times, tried to convince his pal to sell Tesla Motors to Google for very large sums. Yet, so far, Elon Musk has resisted these offers and kept Tesla Motors independent.

     

    http://fortune.com/2016/03/31/business-leaders-friends/ Via Fortune.com

     

    4. Tesla Cars Are Designed to Require Almost No Maintenance

    With their electric engines and other advanced technology, not to mention the fact that Tesla Motors does not have a big presence outside California, the cars sold by the company are designed to require almost no maintenance. Tesla cars do not require oil changes, new air filters, spark plugs or fan belts. The batteries are so advanced and powerful that they too do not need to be changed during the life of the vehicle. And, the braking system is designed so that the brake pads on a Tesla also never need to be changed. Rather than using friction to stop, Tesla cars slowdown by reversing the motor – using the brake pads only sparingly. The only parts on a Tesla car that may need to be replaced are the windshield wiper blades and the tires. Beyond that, the car is pretty rock solid.

     

    http://www.theverge.com/2015/5/4/8548463/tesla-used-car-pre-owned-model-s-program Via theverge.com

     

    3. Tesla Cars Have Been Declared the Safest Vehicles in History

    In addition to their high-tech parts and components, Tesla cars are super safe. How safe? Well, the Tesla Model S car received the highest safety rating of any car in history from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some of the equipment used to test cars broke on the Model S vehicle because it is so strong and resilient. During a test to see if the roof of the car could be crushed, the machine used broke after it reached its highest power setting. The roof of the Model S remained intact. Elon Musk and the engineers at Tesla Motors say they want to revolutionize the entire automotive industry – not just the use of electricity to power cars but the way cars are designed and their ability to protect occupants.

     

    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1086424_ntsa-rebukes-tesla-over-non-existent-5-4-star-safety-rating Via greencarreports.com

     

    2. The Company’s Name was Chosen at Disneyland

    Tesla Motors is named after a scientist and engineer from Serbia named Nikola Tesla, who died in 1946. He invented the first alternating current motor widely used in cars today. Arriving at this name was not easy. For months, company founders Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning struggled to come up with a name. But then, Martin Eberhard took a trip to Disneyland with his girlfriend and inspiration struck. While eating at the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland, Martin Eberhard suggested the name Tesla to his girlfriend. After explaining the significance of the name, Martin Eberhard’s girlfriend approved and the name Tesla Motors Inc. was incorporated on July 1, 2003. The rest, as they say, is history.

     

    http://pursuitist.com/the-best-things-to-do-at-disneyland-disneyland-turns-60/ Via pursuitist.com/

     

    1. Tesla’s Next Move is to Design and Build an Electric SUV

    Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are known for being notorious gas guzzlers — the worst offenders when it comes to consuming precious fossil fuels. Tesla Motors is hoping to change that though, as the company’s next foray is to design and build and all electric SUV. The company has already developed an electric compact SUV prototype it calls Model X. The prototype would seat seven people, have gullwing doors and be completely electric – using only a battery to travel around. However, with a starting price of $70,000, the question remains: Who will be able to afford such an expensive vehicle. The challenge for Tesla Motors remains to develop vehicles that will be affordable to the masses and that can be purchased by a wide cross-section of society. Time will tell if this goal is achievable. In the meantime, the prospect of an electric SUV is intriguing.

    http://www.cnet.com/roadshow/auto/2016-tesla-model-x-review/ Via Cnet.com

     

  • 10 Cars That Won’t Exist After 2017

    10 Cars That Won’t Exist After 2017

    9. Volkswagen Eos

    Volkswagen has some iconic nameplates in its collection of cars – from the Beetle and the Golf to the Jetta and Passat. Sadly, the convertible Eos never entered the pantheon of well received Volkswagen cars. The convertible hardtop just never caught on with people. To be fair, sales of convertibles have dropped across the board over the past decade, so it’s not just Volkswagen that has had a tough time selling a convertible to the public. However, the Eos also suffered from poor reviews from critics, who claimed it was stiff and not much fun to drive. And, as Volkswagen continues to recover from the scandal that saw the company deliberately fake emission results for its diesel powered vehicles, the company decided to save money and discontinue the Eos. This car is so cancelled that they are not even getting a 2017 model. The 2016 Eos is the last model being produced by the German automaker.

    http://www.carscoops.com/2014/07/vw-eos-enters-final-year-in-us-routan.html Via carscoops.com

    8. Honda CR-Z

    The Honda CR-Z is a gas-electric hybrid vehicle that got a lot of love from car critics over the years. Building on its popular predecessor, the CRX, the Honda CR-Z was notable for being a hybrid car that came with the option of a manual transmission. With great fuel efficiency and a decent price point, most analysts expected the Honda CR-Z to sell well. Unfortunately, like all hybrids, the market for the CR-Z proved to be limited. There just aren’t very many people out there looking to buy a gas-electric vehicle. Most people will still opt to stick with their pollution spewing gasoline powered car rather than take on what they perceive might be a hassle with a hybrid. As a result, sales of the CR-Z lagged and Honda has finally decided to pull the plug on the car. The 2017 model will be the last one for the CR-Z. Rest in peace.

    http://performancedrive.com.au/2017-honda-cr-z-could-get-civic-type-r-turbo-engine-rumour-1319/ Via performancedrive.com.au

    7. Lincoln MKS

    A lot of people will be surprised to see the Lincoln MKS on this list. A full sized luxury vehicle that was slightly cooler than your average old man car, the MKS has proven to be quite a popular ride among a certain demographic – old folks. Yet despite its popularity, the MKS has fallen victim to some internal politics at the Lincoln company. Turns out that executives at Lincoln want to discontinue the MKS so that they can focus on bringing back the Lincoln Continental, a classic brand and model for the company that they hope will connect with consumers and drive sales higher. The thinking is that the Lincoln Continental will evoke nostalgia and fond memories in people, and that the name recognition will be higher than with the MKS. Time will tell, of course. But the Lincoln Continental is synonymous with the massive old man cars of the 1970s and 1980s. You know, the big boats that were almost impossible to parallel park? Here’s hoping the new Continental will be a little smaller and a car that people can actually park in their garage.http://zombdrive.com/lincoln/2014/lincoln-mks.html Via zombdrive.com

    6. Volvo S80

    Swedish car maker Volvo doesn’t discontinue vehicles very often. The company tends to stand by its models through thick and thin, good sales and bad. So it is a little surprising to see that Volvo is stopping production on the S80, a full-sized premium sedan. After ten years of fairly decent sales, Volvo is bringing out an all new luxury sedan with the S90 and needs to clear space at its assembly line. So it is cancelling the S80 after the 2017 model and making room for production to ramp up on the all new S90. No guarantees that the S90 will sell better than its predecessor – especially since Volvo primarily sells smaller mid-sized cars and station wagons. But the engineers in Sweden seem reluctant to give up on the full-sized luxury car market just yet.

    http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1104437_2017-volvo-s90-first-drive-review Via motorauthority.com

    5. Cadillac ELR

    Like the aforementioned Lincoln MKS, the Cadillac ELR was meant to be a hipper and more modern take on the classic grandpa ride, but with the added twist that it was also a hybrid gas-electric vehicle. Yet the two-door luxury coupe never caught on with consumers. This is likely due to the fact that the basic model Cadillac ELR sells for $75,000. That’s a lot of money for people on a pension to shell out for a car – a two-door one at that. A coupe with very limited driving range due to the electric engine, as many critics pointed out, the Cadillac ELR had about half the driving range of the Chevrolet Volt. Not cool. Cadillac tried to kick start sales of this hybrid car with robust advertising, incentives, tax breaks, and price slashing – but, alas, none of it worked. And so it is sayonara for the Cadillac ELR. The 2017 model will be the last for this car.

    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1101600_tesla-freakonomics-2017-chevy-volt-cadillac-elr-disappointment-todays-car-news Via greencarreports.com

    4. Scion tC

    Scion was a division of Japanese car maker Toyota, which tried to position the vehicles as a more affordable option for cost-conscious consumers. Yet Scion never caught on and now the entire division is being shut down by Toyota. While a few Scion models are being moved into Toyota showrooms and will continue to be marketed, the tC coupe is not so lucky. This commuter car, which never sold very well, is being stopped all together. After January 1, 2017, no more Scion tCs will be manufactured – ending one of the worst chapters in the Toyota Motor Company’s history. Analysts claim that the Scion brand never had the full support of Toyota behind it, which doomed the division from the start. Others say that the tC never found a niche and had a difficult time competing in the coupe market, since it’s not viewed as a sporty compact car.

    http://www.autos-arena.com/2017-scion-tc-concept-specs-and-release-date/ Via autos-arena.com

    3. Hyundai Genesis

    Many people will be shocked to see the Hyundai Genesis on this list. The car has been a popular and reliable seller for 20 years. But claims that the Genesis is being discontinued are a bit of misnomer, we have to admit. What Hyundai is actually doing is combining the Genesis and Equus models into a new branded nameplate known as the Genesis G80. And while the Genesis as we know it will cease to exist, Hyundai is putting a lot of resources behind the new G80 model and brand – launching a global marketing campaign and pushing the new car across its worldwide dealer network. Hyundai feels this is the best approach for driving its sales figures higher and reinvigorating both the Genesis and Equus brands, which have grown a little stale over the past few decades. Get ‘em while they’re hot.

    http://blog.caranddriver.com/badge-snobbery-2017-genesis-g80-costs-2650-more-than-its-hyundai-predecessor/ Via blog.caranddriver.com

    2. Dodge Viper

    Say it ain’t so! The Dodge Viper has been a popular supercar for more than 20 years. The powerful Viper has been the wet dream of teenage boys everywhere, with posters adorning bedroom walls across North America. But with a starting price of nearly $80,000, the Viper could never really compete with the much cheaper Corvette. Plus, the Viper never came with an optional automatic transmission, and who can drive a stick these days? For these reasons, sales of the Viper have long suffered and Dodge has finally decided to pull the plug on the masterful Viper brand. Interestingly, this is the second time that Dodge has tried to walk away from the Viper. The company canceled production of the car in 2010, only to bring it back in 2013 owing to demand from the public. Sales never took off though, and now Dodge says the 2017 model of the Viper will be the last. The car is history once again – this time for good (probably).

    http://blog.caranddriver.com/snakeskin-acr-edition-this-is-the-final-dodge-viper-special-edition/ Via blog.caranddriver.com

    1. Dodge Grand Caravan

    Are you kidding us? The Dodge Grand Caravan has been the top selling minivan in the U.S. and Canada since 1985. In fact, the Grand Caravan invented the minivan segment. It’s literally the original minivan. And families have loved it for generations. Sales have never declined. So what gives? Apparently, Chrysler-Dodge has decided to discontinue both the Dodge Grand Caravan and the Chrysler Town & Country after 2017, in favour of the all new Chrysler Pacifica, which replaces both minivans. Note to consumers: The Chrysler Pacifica will have a higher price point than the Dodge Grand Caravan, the plan being for the new minivan to compete more robustly with higher end and more expensive people movers such as the Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Sienna. We think it is only a matter of time before Chrysler-Dodge is forced to bring the Grand Caravan back to appease price sensitive suburbanites.

    http://www.motortrend.ca/en/news/dodge-grand-caravan-will-live-on-until-at-least-2017-model-year/ Via Motortrend.ca

  • Audi vs. BMW vs. Mercedes-Benz in the Modern Era

    Audi vs. BMW vs. Mercedes-Benz in the Modern Era

    Once upon a time, it was easy to differentiate between the three German luxury brands. Audi was the lesser-known left-field choice, Mercedes was the long standing, old-school king of the market, and BMW was the up-and-coming player for the up-and-coming buyer. But that was the 1980s. How things change.
    BMW and Mercedes each sold more cars than Chrysler in the U.S. in 2014, and Audi is now a real player in the market, with sales up more than 15 percent in 2014 over 2013 (though still at roughly half of Mercedes volume). All three companies sell a wide range of models including an entry-level offering for about $30,000 (base price), various SUV models, and 12-cylinder luxury automobiles approaching or surpassing $150,000. Let’s take a look at where each brand sits today.

    Audi

    I used to be an Audi nut. Quattro all-wheel drive was a valuable feature for enthusiasts in Michigan. Plus, the cars depreciated hard, so I could afford used examples. Then I had my first drive in a BMW E36 M3, which made me realize Audi’s lack of handling dynamics, even on the sportiest versions. Today, most Audi models still aren’t my choice dynamically. The R8 (above) is the only Audi that impresses me with its handling. But as BMW loses its edge in the sports sedan world, Audi keeps plugging along with gorgeous interiors. And there’s also the low-key image advantage of the four rings versus the roundel and three-pointed star. You don’t want a Mercedes or BMW parked in your driveway when the contractor visits to give you an estimate on a remodeling job. For many people, Audi is still viewed as just an upscale Volkswagen.

    BMW

    This brand used to be King of the Castle, as far as I’m concerned. That first drive in the E36 M3 (above) led me to own several 3 and 5 Series models. I loved their combination of steering/handling prowess and impressive refinement. Their naturally aspirated inline-sixes sounded great and were smooth, smooth, smooth. I was willing to put up with the yuppie frat boy image because BMW offered a product that drove better than the comparable Audi or Mercedes. Now, I’m not so sure. The F30 3 Series isn’t as crisp as the old E90 and the 328i’s turbocharged inline-4 lacks the old 3.0-liter six’s character. Same story with the 5 Series. Yes, fuel economy is up and emissions are down, but at what cost? BMW simply doesn’t stand above and beyond the competition any longer.

    Mercedes

    Mercedes always had depth. They didn’t blow you away during the test drive, but you grew to appreciate their cars the more you spent time in them. Other than some hiccups with quality (including some rather horrible rust issues) for roughly a decade starting about 1996, Mercedes has stayed quite true to its brand image and heritage. It has a history of building over-engineered automobiles with a sense of quality, above and beyond anything else. I also prefer the driving experience offered in most Mercedes models to most Audi models. Most Mercedes interiors aren’t quite as lovely as Audi’s, but the latest C-Class proves that cars with a three-pointed star can battle the four-ringed brand inside the cockpit. The CLA-Class (above), however, illustrates how Mercedes has to carefully grow its lineup. The Audi A3 is a nicer car to drive and spend time in. Mercedes’ smallest, cheapest car just doesn’t feel like a true Mercedes, but the A3 feels like a proper Audi.

    Conclusion

    The brands have become more homogenous as they’ve grown their product lineups, and that’s not a good thing. Each had its own set of unique qualities designed to attract individual luxury customers. Audi was all about all-wheel drive. Now BMW and Mercedes offer all-wheel drive on most models, which is a necessity for rear-wheel-drive luxury cars sold in northern states. BMW led in driving dynamics. That’s no longer the case. The latest BMWs aren’t bad cars, but the brand can’t legitimately claim to be “The Ultimate Driving Machine” for each segment it’s in. Mercedes once offered a certain level of quality and workmanship not found in the other German luxury automobiles. That gap has substantially narrowed and in some cases, Mercedes has lost its advantage. Though I’d give the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E-Class a slight dynamic edge to the Audi A6, this is splitting hairs. They are now very similar, especially to the average buyer. Just run the numbers between all three on their configurators and pick the cheapest, which is a disappointing way to make a choice in the luxury segments.
    Each automaker used to build products that made sense to different buyers. Now, each brand is trying to have enough model breadth to please any luxury buyer, and they depend on marketing to differentiate their brands. That may be good for short- and medium-term sales, but what about the long run?

  • 2017 BMW 340 Reviews 2017

    2017 340

    INTRODUCTION

    The BMW 3 Series has grown and softened in recent years, but all the cars in the series have dynamics expected from a BMW. The rear-wheel-drive versions are the best. They also get excellent fuel mileage.

    There are a lot of 3 Series variants, with different powertrains and body styles, including wagon, sedan and hatchback Gran Turismo. There is also a coupe and a convertible, but they are labeled 4 Series.

    The 2016 BMW 3 Series gets some updates. The taillights and headlights have been given distinctive light signatures, air intakes are wider, and fascias and bumpers at both ends have been slightly reshaped, while the nose has been raised a bit to meet safety standards for pedestrians. It's a bit more aggressive looking.

    The BMW 320i sedan competes with the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class and the Audi A3 sedan.

    The BMW 320i uses a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder engine that's tuned to make 180 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. That same engine powers the BMW 328i, but it's tuned to make a spirited 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque in that car. If it's high mileage you want, the BMW 328d brings it, with a four-cylinder turbodiesel that makes 180 horsepower but more significantly a beefy 280 pound-feet of torque. At the top of the power heap there's the BMW 340i, using a new 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder making 320 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque.

    The all-wheel-drive BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon uses the 240-horsepower version of the 2.0-liter, while the 328d xDrive Sports Wagon uses the turbodiesel.

    The 3 Series Gran Turismo is a five-door hatchback that's about eight inches longer and three inches taller, on a wheelbase that's four inches longer. All Gran Turismo models come with all-wheel drive. The BMW 328i Gran Turismo uses the 240-hp 2.0-liter, while the BMW 335i Gran Turismo uses the 3.0-liter inline-6 making 300 horsepower. The Gran Turismo is a relatively new invention, a BMW that's heavier and softer, and feels it. It trades away traditional BMW response for family values.

    Rear-wheel drive comes standard on all sedans, with xDrive all-wheel drive available. The standard transmission is an 8-speed automatic, but a 6-speed manual, just for fun, is available at the same price for the 320i, 328i, 340i, and 340i xDrive.

    LINEUP

    The BMW 3 Series runs the gamut from 320i sedan ($33,150) to 340i xDrive sedan ($47,800).

    Standard equipment is sparse on the 320i. But option packages are abundant.

    WALKAROUND

    The styling of the 3 Series is classic and sporty, never flashy. The sedan is long and sleek looking, with a rising tail that doesn't pinch the greenhouse. The beltline does not climb toward a wedge.

    The big hatchback Gran Turismo is part fastback, part wagon and part crossover, with an open greenhouse and rear spoiler.

    INTERIOR

    There's good room for front occupants and cargo, but it's a little tight for adults in the rear. The dashboard is horizontal and clean, featuring a free-standing display monitor. The trim can be understated aluminum or elegant wood, but be careful, unlike the exterior, the cabin can get flashy, or at least fussy, with certain trim combinations.

    BMW's iDrive control system remains complex, although it is more usable than before. The 3D maps with the available navigation are excellent.

    The following review is for a 2016 Model Year. There may be minor changes to current model you are looking at.

    DRIVING IMPRESSION

    The sedan and wagon handle like a BMW should. The Gran Turismo is about comfort, while being more sure-footed than a tall crossover.

    The 328i with its 2.0-liter turbo is our favorite; with the precise-shifting manual transmission it will reach 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. Its peak torque comes at a low 1250 rpm, and that sure gets you started fast. It is hard to tell it's a turbo because there's no lag.

    The 328i works well with the standard 8-speed automatic with a Sport mode that quickens the shifts. We got track time in a BMW 328i, and might actually prefer the automatic on the track. The M-DCT dual-clutch gearbox and Active M Differential make a difference on the track.

    The 340i is more potent, capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

    The electric power steering in every 3 Series car steers and countersteers with the right amount of feedback. Available sport steering sharpens the handling by mechanically changing the steering ratio, skipping the electronics that can make electric power steering difficult.

    Driving Dynamics Control is standard, allowing the driver to choose a system: Eco Pro, Comfort (default), Sport, and Sport+ modes. Sport provides quicker steering and shifts, while Sport+ gives more traction and allows more slip from the stability control. It lets you get the tail out a bit.

    And if you really want to get the tail out, there's the M Sport package that lowers the sedan by nearly half an inch, stiffens the springs and dampers, and adds big anti-roll bars with 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels. Still beyond that, there's a new Track Handling package with the Adaptive M Sport suspension, variable sport steering and brakes with blue calipers.

    SUMMARY

    We like the 328i best, for its power, mileage, and price. But we also like the 340i for its sweet and powerful classic inline-6 engine, the 328d for its hyper mileage, the wagon for its stylish functionality, and the Gran Turismo for its crossover alternative. Our favorite might be the 328i xDrive Sports Wagon.

  • Tesla will pay for repairs after owner uses his Model S to save another driver's life

    Tesla will pay for repairs after owner uses his Model S to save another driver's life

    It's always nice to wake up to good news, even if it's not your own. A German Tesla Model S owner reportedly saved another driver's life using his car, choosing to help rather than eschewing any potential damage to his vehicle. Even better, Elon Musk said that Tesla will cover all repair costs to fix the damage to the owner's Model S, free of charge.

    According to German publication Muenchner Merkur via Mashable, Manfred Kick was traveling down the A9 Autobahn when he noticed another car swerving back and forth on the road. Upon getting closer, Kick noticed the other driver was unconscious, possibly due to a stroke. Kick decided to pull his Model S ahead of the other driver's Volkswagen and slowly brake in order slow both vehicles down. When stopped, he performed first aid while other motorists called emergency services.

  • The 2018 Audi SQ5 looks mean and switches to turbo power LICENSE

    The 2018 Audi SQ5 looks mean and switches to turbo power LICENSE

    Audi's huge Q8 wasn't the only crossover introduced by the German automaker at this year's Detroit Auto Show. Right alongside it came the 2018 SQ5, the brand's high-performance midsize crossover. This newest version ditches the previous generation's supercharger in favor of a turbo for its 3.0-liter V6. The powertrain is similar to the one used in the latest S4 and S5.

    Horsepower remains unchanged compared to the last SQ5 at 354, but torque sees a healthy increase to 369 pound-feet, and it's available anywhere from 1,370 to 4,500 rpm. The car itself weighs about 77 pounds less, too. It's a combination that should make the SQ5 pretty entertaining off the line.

    Coupled to the turbo engine is an eight-speed automatic and standard all-wheel drive. Power delivery and handling can be enhanced with a Quattro sport rear differential that can shuffle power left and right to aid cornering. Audi says the torque vectoring system can send almost all rearward power to one wheel as necessary. The differential is available as part of the S sport package, which comes with other upgrades including air suspension. The suspension gives the crossover a lower ride height by default. Both height and firmness can be adjusted, and it offers an "offroad" position that raises the car for maximum ground clearance.

    Inside, the SQ5 comes with a sportier interior than its Q5 counterpart. It comes with prerequisites such as a flat-bottomed steering wheel and more-bolstered seats. Audi also provides a Bang & Olufsen sound system and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The cabin experience can be further augmented with Audi's Virtual Cockpit LCD instrument panel, as well as driving assists such as a variable-ratio steering rack and adaptive cruise control that can handle stop-and-go traffic from 0 to 40 mph.

    Audi will begin selling the new 2018 SQ5 here in spring of 2017. Pricing for it and the Q5 has not yet been released.

  • Lyft expands to another 50 cities LICENSE

    Lyft expands to another 50 cities LICENSE

     

    Fueled by continuing demand for ride-hailing services, Lyft is expanding to another 50 cities in the United States, the company announced this week. The move comes on the heels of a 40-city expansion announced about a month ago.

    The new cities stretch from coast to coast and include: Iowa City, IA, Ocala, FL, Topeka, KS, and Flint, MI. The complete list can be view here. Lyft expects to expand to about 300 US cities by the end of the year, allowing it to reach about 72 percent of the population in a bid to better compete against Uber and other mobility services.

    Lyft was founded in 2012 and has been aligned with General Motors since January 2016, when the Detroit automaker announced a $500-million investment in Lyft to help spur its mobility and autonomous programs.

  • Torque time | 2017 GMC Sierra HD First Drive LICENSE

     

    Torque time | 2017 GMC Sierra HD First Drive LICENSE

    It's not the truck that counts, it's how you use it. It's the heavy stuff you fit in its bed or the extremely heavy stuff that gets hooked up to the tow hitch. The ATV, the Jet Skis, the trailer with more square footage than a Greenwich Village apartment. Perhaps you need to get Seabiscuit or, uh, Mr. Ed to wherever they need to gallop next.

    In our case, there's a pair of very serious-looking snowmobiles perched atop the bed of a GMC Sierra. They spread out as wide as the extended tow mirrors, and their back halves are dangling precariously beyond the truck. Sterling Archer would be giddy; I'm a little nervous. But only because canyon roads and wide vehicles with a high center of gravity go together like peas and custard. The added weight is no sweat at all.

    That's because this is the 2017 GMC Sierra HD Denali, a truck with the sort of enhanced power, torque, suspension, and stopping capability expected of a heavy-duty pickup. And for this year, the power and torque get a serious bump courtesy a new 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine reengineered from almost the ground up with 90 percent new parts. It's quieter and more efficient and it emits less, while most importantly producing 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque. That's up from 397 and 765, respectively. Chevy fans will note that the same engine is also available in the updated 2017 Silverado HD.

    Now, for those keeping score at home, that horsepower is best-in-class but the torque number still falls short of the new Ford Super Duty and its Power Stroke diesel V8's 925 lb-ft. Aw shucks. For the record, GM's engineers didn't seem too concerned that they weren't able to eke out an extra 16 torques just to say they're No. 1.

    2017 GMC Sierra HD2017 GMC Sierra HD2017 GMC Sierra HD

    "We wanted to first meet emissions and then deliver the maximum horsepower and torque we could, and deliver it over the widest usability range possible," said chief engineer Eric Stanczak.

    And let's be honest here, 910 pound-feet is herculean, and once again, a jump of 145 lb-ft. Or one Subaru Impreza's worth. Or 110 more than the best Ram can do on a 2500, and its Cummins turbodiesel's 800 pound-feet was eye-popping not too long ago. (The Ram 3500 maxes out at 900 lb-ft with the right transmission.)

    Ah, but here's the rub. That Cummins-equipped Ram 2500 can still tow more weight according to SAE-compliant measurements – 17,510 pounds for a Ram crew cab with a short bed versus 13,000 in the similar Sierra 2500. The Ford F-250 can manage 15,000. All of these figures are for conventional towing – opting for a fifth-wheel configuration increases capability, with the Sierra 2500 topping out at an absolute maximum of 18,100 for a two-wheel-drive regular cab stripper model. The equivalent 3500 dually is good for a maximum of 23,300 pounds.

    Don't expect to see many of those bare-bones trucks around, though. We were driving the Sierra 2500 Denali, the sort of range-topping model that usually gets trotted out on press launches to make sure the vehicle in question is shown in the absolute best light, even if few actual buyers typically end up in such Platinum or Elite models. In the Sierra's case, though, the Denali is the volume seller. Nearly half of Sierra HDs are Denalis and then 90 percent of those are equipped with the Duramax, meaning 45 percent of buyers walk away with a truck just like the one you see here (minus the snowmobiles).

     And that truck costs $70,145 as tested, including the $9,550 Duramax option. That seems steep, but it's important to reiterate why it's purchased in the first place.

    "What they're towing is often worth many times more than the truck itself," said chief engineer Stanczak.

    Take the 25-foot trailer we towed up the steep, winding incline leading out of Paradox Valley in Colorado, the sort of grand, red-rock vista that was the stuff of John Wayne movies. That's actually not a metaphor; True Grit was filmed there.

    The Sierra pulled and pulled and pulled up the grade, free from any abrupt downshifts from the mostly carry-over, but strengthened six-speed automatic transmission. Torque will do that for you, friends. And should it have been August in Paradox Valley with the thermometer pushing triple digits, the Duramax's new, patent-pending cold-air intake system would've made sure it kept pulling with similar authority. Identified by its chrome-rimmed hood scoop, the system's addition of colder air helps keep the engine and transmission from losing power under heavy loads and high temperatures. In certain situations, one could see that being as much of an advantage as all that torque.

    2017 GMC Sierra HD

    Honestly, though, the Sierra's other towing tricks can be just as helpful. Flipping a toggle switch activates the improved exhaust brake – let off the throttle on a downhill grade and the exhaust path is shut down, building up back pressure in the cylinders to essentially work backwards and slow the truck. Selecting Tow/Haul mode works with the exhaust brake as does the cruise control system.

    Also appreciated is the Denali's multiple cameras and mirrors that help keep you, the truck, and the small house you're towing in a straight line while negotiating a mountain road or just the RV park. Besides the two large mirrors they hold, the tow mirror housings enclose cameras that work similar to Honda's LaneWatch blind-spot camera, albeit in both turning directions. Hitting the turn signal in either direction activates the camera on that side, which not only helps make sure you're not about to crush a Fiesta, but also that you're not cutting the trailer across a double yellow or excavating a canyon wall. You can also keep a split view feed from both cameras on the IntelliLink touchscreen at all times, which was surprisingly quite useful. It was easier to keep an eye on the road ahead and the trailer around tight corners by using the screen as opposed to the passenger-side mirror that might as well be in the neighboring county.

    There are also rearview cameras in the tailgate and adjacent to the bed light to assist in hooking up conventional or fifth-wheel trailers. That last one also comes in handy when you want to triple check that your snowmobiles haven't dropped off the truck.

    2017 GMC Sierra HD2017 GMC Sierra HD2017 GMC Sierra HD2017 GMC Sierra HD

    And had they, the unladen Sierra HD would at least provide a far more serene ride than heavy-duty trucks of the past. It still can't match the smoothness offered by the Ram 2500 and its coil springs (including the rugged Power Wagon we drove recently), but there isn't an objectionable amount of jiggling and bouncing about. Of course, the rear leaf springs settle when that payload capacity is exercised, but then that exacerbates the already vague steering. Actually, it isn't all that bad for a heavy duty pickup, which until very recently could best be described as "spooky," but steering is definitely one area where a half-ton pickup provides more precision and confidence.

    In general, though, the Sierra HD is remarkably civilized, and although it would be a stretch to declare the Denali truly luxurious (its "wood" trim and stitched dashboard pleather don't elevate it that much over an SLT), one can see why well-off folks with ample towing needs happily spend more to enjoy its niceties. And despite all that chrome up front, it still manages to be less ostentatious than Ford's King Ranch and Platinum trucks.

    To many, that'll actually be a bad thing, but in the event you're not a chrome enthusiast and would prefer your truck to visually skew toward the bad-ass, there's the new-for-2017 Sierra 2500 HD All Terrain X. It features a blackened grille and wheels, plus Rancho twin-tube shocks, Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires, a spray-on bedliner, tube side steps, and a very Marty McFly sport bar in the bed complete with LED lights. It looks rad, can venture a bit further off the beaten path, can still be had with the Duramax, and will probably look more appropriate towing ATVs and the like.

    The All Terrain X could therefore be the one to get, but who's to argue with the 45 percent who already choose the Denali to tow a race car, snowmobiles or, uh, War Horse? My equine knowledge really needs an upgrade.

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