Entries in Cars (71)

Apr162013 Names Best Value in Hybrid Cars 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With Earth Day less than one week away, released a list of its editors' selections for best hybrid cars in terms of value.'s executive editor, Joe Wiesenfelder, said, "Gas prices remain volatile, so as shoppers consider more fuel-efficient options, they should know how effectively hybrids deliver gas mileage for their dollar - if they do at all." analyzed each car's fuel economy and sticker price, with the goal being to find the car with the highest fuel efficiency and lowest base cost.

"Our list helps shoppers looking for a cost-effective, efficient car in just about every size and category that can meet the needs of any car shoppers."

You can see's editors' selections here.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Highway Deaths Rise May Highlight Need for Newer Cars, Safer Technology

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the first time in seven years, fatalities on the nation’s roads went up five percent, in the first half of 2012, according to the National Safety Council.

For teenagers ages 16 and 17, the results were even more staggering, with a 19-percent increase in deaths and 240 youngsters killed over the same time period, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

So why are highway deaths on the rise?

With more than 320 million cell phones in America, distracted driving is one guess. In an effort to cut down on distracted driving, lawmakers have responded, with 10 states banning talking on hand-held devices and 39 states banning texting while driving, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Experts from both the NSC and the GHSA say the reason for the spike is that we are driving more because of the improving economy and good weather. A better economy means more money for gas and more big rigs making deliveries.

But with the average age of a car on the road being 11 years old, many have kept their old cars that may not have the latest, safety technology.

“Certainly, a base model today is probably much more safe, or safer than a mid-level vehicle five years ago,” Jonathon Linkov, managing editor & data supervisor autos for Consumer Reports, told ABC News.

For a closer look at the latest safety features designed to save your life, ABC News traveled to the Consumer Reports test track in rural Connecticut.

One Mercedes-Benz model can detect whether or not the driver is exhibiting signs of drowsiness.

The feature detects if you swerve or make moves to stay awake, and alerts you, even telling you where the closest coffee shop is.

With families in mind, Ford is installing inflatable seat belts in the back seats of some of its models. Think of it as an airbag for your kids in booster seats. In an accident, the inflatable seat belt disperses crash energy over five times more area of the body than traditional seat belts, according to a claim on Ford’s website. They are designed to provide additional protection for children and older passengers, who can be more vulnerable to head, chest and neck injuries.

One of the simplest contributors to accidents that can be fixed easily is proper tire inflation. Since 2007, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has required all new passenger cars to come standard with a tire pressure monitoring system. A new feature from Nissan tells you when you’ve put enough air in the tire by emitting three quick beeps.

Consumer Reports hopes such technology to keep us safe will become standard on more vehicles soon.

“We don’t want to see safety be something you have to make a decision with your wallet,” said Linkov. “We want safety to be something you can get at an easy price point, making it safety for everybody.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Millions of Recalled Cars Are Sold Without Needed Repairs

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Every year millions of recalled cars are sold to unsuspecting buyers without the needed repairs.  

Vehicle history website Carfax just completed a study that shows that in 2012 just over two million unrepaired recalled vehicles were offered for sale online.  But that's just online and just the sites Carfax catalogued, so the actual number is probably higher.

Carfax singled out Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin because its data shows the number of recalled vehicles for sale in those states has gone up 25 percent in the past year.

Carfax can tell that the vehicles have been recalled but not repaired because the Feds make recall notices for certain makes and models available.  Manufacturers and dealers track the VIN numbers of the individual vehicles that are brought in for the needed fix.

The fact that recalled vehicles are offered for sale is bad news if you don't know it, but could be good news if you do. First, the bad: The very definition of a federal vehicle recall is that there is a safety problem with that make, model and year.  So buying a car subject to an open recall could mean you're putting yourself and your family at risk.

On the other hand, if you know the car you are looking at has been recalled, you can use that as a bargaining chip in your price negotiations.  You will be able to get the repair for free at a dealership, but you can haggle over the time you are going to have to spend.

"Before a car changes hands, there are lots of opportunities for everyone involved to check for open recalls," said Larry Gamache, communications director at Carfax.  "Yet this data is proof that it's not happening enough."

Fortunately, it's easy to check.  You can try the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's own website, though it's notoriously difficult to navigate.  Here is where NHTSA posts recall summaries from the past six months. The government portal for broader vehicle safety information is

However, an easier resource is the free recall check Carfax itself offers:  Another free resource about recalls and auto safety is the website of the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Some legislators in California -- the state with the biggest population and the most cars -- are introducing legislation that would require sellers to repair recalled vehicles before selling them.  Last year, California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein sponsored federal legislation to require rental car companies to repair recalled vehicles before putting them on the road again.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Thieves Across Country Stealing SUV Seats

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Thieves across the country are in many cases not targeting expensive SUVs parked in driveways and parking lots.  Instead, they are stealing the third row of seats from the vehicles for up to a $1,000 profit.

Ivan Barahona, an SUV owner, parked his vehicle in his Dallas driveway, and made sure nothing valuable was inside and locked it up.  But a trio still broke into the back, and within seconds, removed part of the seats.  Within 40 seconds, the entire back row in the vehicle was gone.

“It feels really bad because people work really hard for what they have,” Barahona said.

Police say so-called “third seat theft” is on the rise, particularly in Texas and California.

Replacement seats are in demand by SUV owners whose row of seats has been damaged or worn out.  Detectives say the crooks can get about $1,000 for the seats on sites like Craigslist or in a salvage yard -- a sizable payoff for 40 seconds of work.

Police often recover the stolen seats but have no way of reuniting them with their rightful owner, which is why Los Angeles police are encouraging owners to engrave their SUV’s vehicle identification number onto the bottom of those seats.

“It’s something that’s very simple.  With a little bit of time and effort people can protect themselves,” Det. Mike Ventura with the Los Angeles Police Department said.

Even something as inexpensive as a bike lock will slow crooks down.  Locking up seats is a good investment, because replacing a stolen third seat at the dealership can cost up to $4,000.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Airbag Knockoffs Fail in Crash Test Videos

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Causing a fire, not deploying or partial deployment are not how you would like to have your airbag described, but those are the words U.S. Department of Transportation administrators used Wednesday when explaining the dangers behind a stream of counterfeit airbags.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and ICE officials Wednesday warned consumers about counterfeit airbags made at overseas manufacturers and installed in cars throughout the U.S. The counterfeits have been found in more than 75 different makes and models, both domestic and internationally made cars, and could affect thousands of individuals.


Investigators cautioned that even though this affects less than 0.1 percent of vehicles, the danger to those vehicles is extreme, including airbags not deploying, partially deploying or catching fire. So far they are unaware of any death or injury from the counterfeit airbags.

Earlier this year ICE arrested and convicted a Chinese counterfeiter who was found with nine different brands of airbags. And just this year have confiscated more than 2,500 fake bags.

ICE Director John Morton explained that the counterfeits were manufactured overseas, fraudulently labeled and then illegally imported into the country.

"These seemingly genuine airbags are in fact shoddy fakes that pose a significant safety hazard when it's installed," he said. "These airbags don't work. They aren't going to save you in an accident, they are a fraud and danger from start to finish, and you don't want them in your car."

Consumers are at risk if:

  • They have had the airbag replaced in the last three years at a repair shop not associated with a new car dealership.
  • Purchased a used car that had its airbag replaced.
  • Own a car branded salvage, rebuilt or reconstructed.
  • Got a "too good to be true" deal for airbag replacement.
  • Purchased their airbag from eBay, Craigslist or other non-certified outlet.

Because these faulty bags are not the fault of car manufacturers or dealers, this is not a mandatory recall and consumers would pay out of pocket to replace the airbag.

"They look like the real thing and unfortunately consumers are not in a position to figure out if they have a fake or a real airbag and they certainly wouldn't be in a position to be able to replace their own airbag," David Strickland, a NHTSA administrator, said.

Officials urge anyone who has suspicions about their airbags to take their car to an expert for testing and replacement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White Is World’s Most Popular Car Color in 2012

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- People the world over drive more white cars than any other color, according to a new survey.

Mauve put in a strong showing; aubergine and puce moved up in the rankings. Vermillion did surprisingly well. But there was just no beating white, according to PPG Industries, a color, paint and coatings company headquartered in Pittsburgh, which every year surveys car buyers on their color preferences.

According to PPG’s 2012 report, metal shades (gold, bronze and copper) increased in popularity.

In rank order, the colors most popular with drivers were: white (22 percent); silver (20 percent); black (19 percent); gray (12 percent); red (nine percent); natural (eight percent); blue (seven percent); green (two percent); and ‘other’ (one percent).

PPG every year hosts an Automotive Color Trend Show, at which it presents its findings and predictions about consumers’ color preferences -- not just for cars, but for products ranging from laptop computers to buildings, homes, airplanes and heavy equipment. The most popular color for heavy equipment is “Ouch," a mixture of tan and yellow.

“The palette being developed for the automotive segment continues to be influenced by culture, nature, fashion, interior design and new pigment technology,” says PPG color manager Jane Harrington.  The company itself introduced 64 new exterior shades this year, including Elixir, a metallic mixture of silver and magenta, and Opulence, a refined red pearl with intense jewel tone.

Of course some of the choice of colors may not be entirely up to consumers. Rental and fleet cars lean toward black and white because these paint jobs are cheaper than the vivid metallics.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Auto Sales Hit Highest Level Since Early 2008

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Car and truck sales in the U.S. have hit their highest level since February of 2008, according to Autodata.
Of the Detroit three, Chrysler had strong sales, showing a 12-percent increase compared to a year ago. General Motors and Ford had more muted numbers -- GM sales were up 1.5 percent and Ford sales were down 0.1 percent.
Japanese carmakers posted strong year-over-year gains, in part because the comparison is to a time when they were suffering badly from the effects of the Japanese earthquake.
Smaller, more fuel efficient cars posted by far the strongest sales for the car companies.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rental Car Companies Pledge Not to Rent Recalled Cars

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The nation's four largest rental car companies have banded together in a pledge not to rent out any vehicles that are subject to a manufacturer safety recall and to support legislation that would legally enforce the promise.

Enterprise/National/Alamo, Hertz/Advantage, Avis/Budget joined Hertz in the agreement pushed by Sen. Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.) and by Cally Houck, a California mother whose daughters died in the crash of a rental car that was under recall.

Houck's two daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline, were killed in 2004 after the PT Cruiser they had rented from Enterprise apparently began leaking steering fluid and suddenly caught fire before crashing into an oncoming semi-tractor-trailer. As reported in a 2010 ABC News investigation, the car had been under a safety recall for the potential fire hazard and, after a lengthy legal battle, Enterprise had to pay the Houck family $15 million in damages.

WATCH ABC News Investigates: Deadly Rental Cars on the Road

Under current law, car dealerships are banned from selling vehicles that are under a safety recall, but the restriction does not prevent rental agencies from renting out recalled cars. New legislation sponsored by Boxer and Schumer, called the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012, aims to close that loophole.

"If this bill had been the law, and the rental companies complied, my beautiful, precious daughters would still be alive," Cally Houck said day. "My abiding hope is that it will be enacted, and other families will be spared our devastating loss."

After the 2010 ABC News report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation to see how quickly rental car companies repair vehicles that have been recalled.

With the exception of Hertz, all the major American rental car companies declined to sign a pledge this summer saying they wouldn't rent cars under recall. At the time, they said that while they supported safe rental car legislation, they wanted it to extend to other businesses that transport passengers in vehicles, like limousine and taxi companies. All the companies said then that they address safety recalls in a timely manner, and representatives for Enterprise and Avis said their policy was already not to rent cars that were under recall.

But their recent decision to sign the pledge -- along with the newfound support of several safety auto agencies -- is a "breakthrough years in the making," according to Sen. Schumer.

"Consumers will no longer have to worry about what they aren't being told when they go to the rental car counter," he said. "With the industry's full backing, we think we have a great shot to get this legislation passed before the end of the year."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GM Recalls More than 426,000 Cars in US

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- General Motors has recalled 426,240 vehicles in the U.S. because of a potential gear issue.

Affected GM models are all equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission, and include the 2007-2010 Saturn Aura, the 2008-2010 Chevy Malibu and the 2008-2010 Pontiac G6.

Tabs on the transmission shift cables in these vehicles may fracture and separate, causing the transmission gear position to not match the gear on the shifter. As a result, the cars could roll away when left in park, or not start.

GM will notify owners of the recalled vehicles and local dealers will fix them free of charge. Owners may contact General Motors at 1-800-521-7300.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jobs Report: US-Based Foreign Employers Don't Care About Politics

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the country awaits the monthly jobs report for August to assess the state of the economy, it's a good opportunity to look at the other side of the employment coin: The foreign-based U.S. employers who employ about five million Americans.

Bill Krueger, vice chairman of Nissan Americas, said the company is less interested in the election's outcome and more interested in whether the U.S. will encourage engineering and manufacturing training for potential workers.

Nissan, based in Japan, employs 17,000 people in the U.S. at its three U.S. sites.  The company is adding about 2,200 manufacturing jobs in the U.S., including 1,000 jobs in the fourth quarter to its Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant in Mississippi.

Nancy McLernon, CEO of the Organization for International Investment, which represents about 200 U.S. subsidiaries of global companies, said the members of her organization are studying the statements of the presidential candidates for signs they are "embracing the global economy."

"Globally engaged companies want to be in globally engaged countries," said McLernon.  "The extent to which lawmakers understand global marketplace is helpful.  Isolationist views are not."

Business has been good for automakers like Nissan in the U.S.  The automaker's August sales rose 7.6 percent from a year ago, the company reported on Tuesday.

But finding skilled workers has been a trouble spot for the company.

"If there's a weak point right now, it's the availability of skilled maintenance workers and engineers," Krueger said.

Manufacturing jobs are slowly making a comeback after the long economic downturn that began with the financial crisis in December 2007.  In July, the U.S. economy added 25,000 manufacturing jobs.

Economists are expecting an addition of 125,000 total nonfarm jobs in August, which would leave the unemployment rate unchanged at 8.3 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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