Autoparts

Navistar To Continue Shipping Super Duty Diesel Engines


The Navistar International Corporation, the parent company of International Truck and Engine Corporation, earlier entered into a consent injunction with Ford Motor Co. in which it resumes the production and shipment of the 6.4L Power Stroke? diesel engines which are intended for the automaker?s Super Duty pickup trucks. The automaker, in the said injunction, is expected to pay without deductions.

The International Truck and Engine Corporation has been Ford?s exclusive diesel engine supplier for Super Duty pickup trucks since 1979. In February, the automaker launched the new 6.4L Power Stroke for the new Super Duty. In addition, Navistar produces 225,000 to 300,000 diesel engines for Ford trucks each year.

Ford said that they had spent $1.05 billion in warranty and repairs on the previous Navistar diesel engine in Ford's Super Duty pickup trucks. Navistar said that the automaker's warranty claim is false. Ford debited Navistar about $125 million early this year. Ford said the contract allows debiting however Navistar disagreed. The two companies also have a dispute about the appropriate price for the new engine. That makes up a disagreement amounting to over $300 million a year.

On 26 February, Navistar suspended the production of the diesel engine. According to the engine supplier, the suspension is resorted to because the automaker had stopped honoring the terms under which the engines were manufactured. The suspension made Ford seek a temporary restraining order from Judge John J. McDonald of the Circuit Court of Oakland County, Michigan.

On 28 February, Judge McDonald issued an order requiring the supplier to resume production of the engine and Ford to pay with no withholding until a hearing was held. After the scheduled hearing the judge asked the companies to continue discussion to settle whether an agreement can be reached before the trial is commenced. The companies met and the judge issued consent injunction that supersedes the temporary restraining order. The said order from the judge also requires both companies to meet and resolve the contract dispute regarding warranty claims and pricing.

"I think this (consent injunction) represents a new spirit of cooperation between the two companies," Navistar spokesman Roy Wiley said. The consent injunction assuages concerns of the derailment for one of Ford's most important launches of the year.

Ford's Louisville, Kentucky plant stopped production last week and was shut down Friday after Navistar suspended shipments of the engines. The pickup truck also serves as the one of the vital keys to make Ford recover from billions of dollars of losses in recent years.

The halt of engine production threatened to disrupt production of the Super Duty, one of the most profitable product lines of Ford. In the past, a shortage of engines also has disrupted production at a Ford plant in Kentucky. That situation is now avoided by the automaker. Super Duty trucks are the most popular vehicles in their class, averaging 50 percent market share in the heavy-duty pickup truck segment during the past years. Hence, to allow production to be disrupted is perilous to the automaker.

Ford acknowledged the agreement with Navistar and said in a statement it was pleased there would be no further disruptions to the production of the F-Series Super Duty. The automaker said its Kentucky plant began ramping production back up early this week and will be back at full speed on Monday.

In 2006, Ford sold 796,000 units of the F-series trucks and 40 percent of the figure is owned by the Super Duty. The redesigned Super Duty include a new grille that blends well with Ford bumper, factory installed trailer brake controller, upfitter switches, and new interior. The Powerstroke Diesel, which is the now the subject of the controversy, was also modified to generate torque from 560ft/lb to 570ft/lb - nonetheless, the peak power output is maintained at 325 horsepower.

Autoparts

Purchase Good Quality Car Audio To Enjoy Stress Free Driving


When you invest in a car it means that you are making a great investment. You will look out for every possibility by means of which you make your car wonderful, luxurious and comfortable. In that case, the car stereos or any other car audios are a great option.

To get the comfort of a stress-free driving, car audios are a great option. Whenever you consider the purchase of some sound system for your car, you should always think of some exclusive and a good quality piece. Be it any kind of car or any kind of road, you will just be relaxed with the sounds coming out from the car stereos.

Good quality car stereos will amplify the sound and also help you get rid of any kind of distortion in the sound. Make sure that the audio system which you buy for your car does not get overheated frequently or even at times. This can pose a risk to their life.

When you buy the car audios, consider your budget as well. You should also think from before the kind of sound system that you want to install in your car. This will help you in a better approach. The size of your car is also an important factor that you should deal with. This is because all kinds of car stereos do not fit well in all sizes of car.

Car audios generally have various components like head units, amplifiers, speakers and many other input devices. They all work together to provide a great quality sound. However, be careful to take a note of the instructions which are mentioned in the sets of the stereo systems.

It is better not to go for the cheaper ones. This is because the cheaper ones will have poor sound quality and perhaps they would also not last long. Poor quality sound systems can also cause a threat to your car. If you love your car, you should never try out these. Instead make an investment which will be worth its value.

After the investment comes the maintenance. It is up to you to maintain the car stereos properly. Proper maintenance of the stereos would ensure good quality sound.

Do not let the traffic jam outside be a cause of your headache. Make sure to purchase good car audio for your car so that they can provide you the ultimate relief that you are looking for.

Cars, Tires

North America?s Ford Contour


The Ford Mondeo sedan was for the European market. Travel to the lands of the United States and North American and you would find the Ford Contour. The Ford Contour would be the Ford Mondeo?s American counterpart. This sedan was actually sold by the Ford Motor Company starting from 1995 up until 2000. Fact is, this vehicle actually was the basis for building a version of this under the Mercury brand. And the result came to be the Mercury Mystique and later on became the Mercury Cougar. The Ford Contour was found in the Ford Motor Company?s line up filling the niche between the Ford Escort and the Ford Taurus.

The Ford Contour has a DOHC V6 engine with 24 valves. It has an aluminum block and aluminum heads. This has a displacement of 155 cubic inches. It can produce some 170 units of bhp at 6250 rpm, and 165 pound feet at 4250 rpm. It has also been equipped with a five speed manual transmission system. The wheelbase of the Ford Contour measures 106.5 inches, 183.9 inches in length and has a curb weight of 2910 pounds.

From 1995 to 1996, the Ford Contour came to be body colored. The front seats were recessed to the back so as to improve rear seat leg room. This is compared to the first wave of Ford Contours that entered the American automobile market. After a year, changes were still done. Traction control no longer was given as an option. The remote fuel door release feature was deleted and the fuel door that this batch held had a flanged opening. Made available were an interior trunk light, a tilt steering wheel, and a power antenna. In 1997 to 1998, the Ford Contours that entered the streets sported front and rear end designs that were new. There were new alloy wheel designs. The sail panels on the rear door windows were now smooth and held the word ?Contour? emblazoned on it.

As per the last years of the Ford Contour, it still continually received changes. In 1998 to 1999, the Ford Contour deleted one of its trim levels. There was a clock in radio available. There were also some color revisions. The rear window and the brake light designs had changed. For Canada, this was the last year of the Ford Contour. In the United States, 2000 was the last year for the vehicle.

Autoparts

Aftermarket Adjustable Rear Control Arms for MINIs and BMWs


The main difference between aftermarket rear control arms and stock rear control arms is the difference in the amount of adjustability. Many of the later BMW and MINI models come with non-adjustable rear arms that don't allow you to change the camber. Some of the newer models do come with adjustable rear arms, but only allow for a camber adjustment between 0 and 0.5 degrees. This is better than no adjustment at all, but usually is not enough to reach a desirable degree of camber upon suspension alterations. Since stock rear control arms in MINIs and BMWs offer little to no camber adjustability, if you choose to lower your vehicle with a performance spring set, you should strongly consider investing in aftermarket adjustable rear control arms. Anytime you add a drop to your vehicle with performance springs, a considerable amount of negative camber is added to the rear tires. Excessive negative camber in the rear can negatively affect manueverabiliy and control. Additionally, the inside of rear tires wear out quicker. The general consensus on acceptable rear camber ranges from 0 to -1.5 degrees. When aftermarket spring sets are added and used to drop the vehicle, the amount of negative camber increases. Say for instance you decide to drop your BMW or MINI 1.5 inches. This amount of drop equates to about -3 degrees of camber on the rear wheels - 100% more than the aforementioned acceptable amount! Even if your BMW or MINI stock arms are adjustable, they will probably only be able to reduce camber to -2.5 degrees due to limited extension. With aftermarket rear control arms, you can make camber adjustments from anywhere between 0 and 4 degrees. Aftermarket arms for BMWs and MINIs from reputable designers can reduce negative camber and increase handling. If you're thinking about dropping your car a few inches and already have a rear sway bar installed, performance-grade adjustable arms are a must. Too much negative camber in the rear disrupts the benefits of your swaybar. If you've installed a swaybar, especially on your MINI, you've installed it because you want to reduce understeering. Negative camber in the rear will increase understeering and, consequently, decrease the effectiveness of your swaybar. When extenable rear arms are taken advantage of, you're able to retain the benefits of your swaybar and lower your vehicle to a desirable level. Lastly, BMWs and MINIs have four rear control arms - two upper and two lower. It's only necessary to replace lower ones with performance-grade extendable arms to effectively decrease camber. Upper arms may remain stock, adjustable or not. After replacing your stock rear arms with aftermarket ones, expect a huge difference in handling and easier camber adjustments.

Tires

Zastava To Produce Opel Vehicles


Reuters report, General Motors has contracted a deal with Zastava automaker for the production of Opel vehicles. Production will transpire at Zastava?s complex in Kragujevac in central Serbia.

According to the source familiar with the agreement, "They will sign on Thursday. The production of the first Opel Astra vehicles is expected to start in 2008."

Another source familiar with the negotiation has also confirmed the deal. Last year the state-owned Zastava, exporter of Yugi cars to the United States was only able to produce 15,000 cars which is less than its annual capacity of 60,000 vehicles. Zastava also caters to Italy?s Fiat producing the Punto cars.

These Punto cars are marketed in Serbia and the rest of the neighboring Balkan countries under the brand ?Zastava 10?. Zastava was also given by Fiat the authority to distribute the cars on the Russian market.

Reuters has quoted a government source saying, "The deal with General Motors will enable Zastava to work with modern technology, raising its chances of fully benefiting in the coming privatization process."

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic said that the Serbian automaker is aiming to produce around 10,000 vehicles by 2010. He also said, "This contract is good for Kragujevac and domestic car industry, because we thus join the trends of technology and business operation of the international automotive industry."

And the latest development on this issue is that the Serbian government has already approved the import of around 8,300 duty-free Opel Astra cars of which 3,300 are to be imported by the end of this year while the remaining 5,000 by 2008. These imported Opel Astra cars will cost 10,800 euros or $14,900 for the basic version which was previously sold at 12,800 euros or $17,700.

Opel Expands Antara Range
Speaking of Opel, it has recently announced the expansion of the engine range of its Antara Sports Utility Vehicle with a diesel version that will come equipped with a particulate filter and an Opel catalytic converter. The two liter motor produces 110kW/150hp and can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in a matter of 10.3 seconds.

The fuel consumption is at 7.5 liters per 100 kilometers while carbon dioxide emission level is at 198 grams per kilometer. The integrated Flex-Fix bicycle carrier is currently the optional offering for the Antara. This special feature can be pulled out just like a cupboard and can accommodate two bicycles. It is priced at 650 euros or $900.

Cars

Engine Sludge Taints Toyota?s Reputation


The issue could have ended calmly on March 1, 2001 when an arbitration panel unanimously concurred that the Toyota Motor Corp. was liable for the damage of Jeff Meckstroth's two-year-old Lexus RX300 sport utility engine. However, the dispute worsened when two representatives of the automaker packed up their papers and referred casually to other identical cases they were handling.

"Then we had our suspicions up that this isn't an unusual case, that Lexus knows about the problem, and has formed a response - just deny, deny, deny," said Meckstroth, a 47-year-old New Orleans stockbroker. "We decided to sue." His case sprouted into a class suit to include prior and current owners of about four million Toyota and Lexus vehicles complaining about engine sludge.

Engine sludge is caused by the accumulation of gelling or solidifying oil. It usually occurs at temperatures lower than 100 degrees Celsius. Sludge is a cause of major engine problems. It deprives the engine of the required lubrication. In addition, sludge could necessitate an opportune engine replacement.

Toyota has agreed to settle the case last fall however it maintains that its engines were not defective. The automaker said the settlement terms mirror a program to reimburse customers for sludge-related engine damage or repairs that it put in place in 2002. The said settlement is expected to be approved by a Louisiana state court.

With a single engine replacement costing approximately $10,000, the gross amount could run into the billions. However, the tainted reputation of the automaker is worth more than that. Toyota is not the only automaker that has been confronted by engine sludge problems. But the high-profile case is the latest in a series of recalls. This situation is suggestive that Toyota?s controls are not foolproof.

"It would be accurate to say that there have been enough issues with Toyota in the past couple of years that they don't have the spotless image they had a couple of years ago," said Karl Brauer, the editor in chief of , an automotive research Web site. But he adds that problems at Toyota attract a disproportionate amount of attention because of the automaker's sterling reputation for quality. "Most companies wouldn't get noticed for these problems."

DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group and Volkswagen AG are among the automakers that have confronted complaints about sludge in their vehicles. "There are reasons to believe that the engine design could be contributing to it, but there are also reasons to think that lack of maintenance or proper customer care is contributing," Brauer said. "Everything I've read indicates something kind of in between."

Gary Gambel, an attorney at Murphy, Rogers, Sloss & Gambel in New Orleans, argued that Toyota's engines had a defect giving them a propensity to develop sludge. "The terms of the settlement and the settlement itself have no finding of defect in the product," Toyota spokesman Xavier Dominicis said however. "They're not saying these engines are predisposed to sludge."

Toyota remains among the quality leaders in vehicle manufacture. But if complaints about auto parts not only the engine but EBC brake pads, brakes, suspension and more, keep coming, the reputation linking to quality will be compromised.

"The sludge issue was a significant blow," said Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research Inc. in Bandon, Ore. "Toyota's in the position that GM was in back in the 1970s. A lot of people were buying GM products in the '70s because they were GM products, but they had fractures at the edges. It took 15 years before GM started to suffer from that long-term negative word-of-mouth." At Toyota, he said, "It's going to hurt them if they don't turn it around."

Autoparts, Tires

Pontiac, Toyota Bags Award At The Chicago Auto Show


In connection with the ongoing 2007 Chicago Auto Show, Consumer Guide Automotive honored the Pontiac G8 and the Toyota Highlander as the winners of their Most Significant New Introduction Awards. This is only the second year for the award and yet it is valued highly around the automotive circle.

The reverence given to the award is due to the fact that Consumer Guide Automotive has been a part of the automotive industry for more than 35 years. Throughout its lengthy history, the leading source of new and used car reviews has proven time and time again that they are the best at what they do. And this year?s awards will no doubt be a big boost to the popularity of the two vehicles recognized.

The aim of the awarding body in giving out such award was outlined by Kirk Bell, the associate publisher of Consumer Guide Automotive. ?With so many factors to consider, car shopping can be n overwhelmingly confusing experience. By naming the most significant new car and truck introductions, we?re helping car buyers everywhere identify vehicles worth consideration. Visitors attending the nation?s premier consumer show here in Chicago can see the standout vehicles firsthand.?

Indeed, these vehicles standout among the lot of other automobiles being shown off at the Chicago Auto Show - just like the rear-wheel drive Pontiac G8. The full sized sedan shown at this year?s Chicago Auto Show is just a prototype, however, most of the features and specifications that it has at present will also be present on the mass produced version of the car. The car is configured as a rear-wheel drive one but its performance is of high caliber, thanks to the efforts by GM?s Holden division which is based in Australia in developing the design of the Pontiac G8. The performance car exhibits some of the exterior designing of the Pontiac GTO and not the classic design. In fact, it holds that of the latest GTO which was discontinued again this year.

The Toyota Highlander, a mid-size SUV, is also making waves in the said segment. The sport utility vehicle was eligible for the award since it is a completely redesigned vehicle. Its only resemblance to present models available in the market is the vehicle?s one-piece folding rear seat. The latest model is loosely based on another award winning car from Toyota, the Camry, and it is longer and wider than its predecessor. The latest Highlander model is four inches longer and three inches wider than the current model. The Highlander also comes in a hybrid version which shows that even SUV?s can be environment-friendly and also very fuel efficient.

In choosing the awardees, Consumer Guide only took into consideration new cars or completely redesigned cars introduced at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show. A point system is devised by Consumer Guide to determine the winner in the car and truck categories. Each editor allocates 25 points for all the entries but can only give out as much as ten points for a single vehicle. The vehicle with the most number of votes on both the car and truck segment is judged as the winner.

Toyota is the back-to-back winner in the truck segment since the Toyota Tundra has won the same award last year. The Tundra along with the Lexus 350 ES were the first winners of the awards.

The premier provider of new and used car reviews test drives more than 200 cars each year to provide its readers the most useful information concerning new or used cars. Throughout their existence, the institution has serve as a stockpile of knowledge about cars. In a way, they are like a Volvo master cylinder that stores brake or clutch fluid for immediate use when needed.

Autoparts, Tires

Sports Car Rental


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Cars

Kia’s Rondo Sx Concept Revealed At 2007 Chicago Auto Show


The ongoing Chicago Auto Show has seen great cars being unveiled one after the other. Most of the cars being shown at the said event are concept vehicles that will in the near future be available for the public. One such concept car that will have a long line of people waiting for its release is the Kia Rondo SX concept vehicle.

The concept car is based on the Kia Rondo unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November last year. The new concept vehicle is the realization of Kia of their ?Exciting and Enabling? brand direction.

?We have positioned the all-new 2007 Rondo as a vehicle of function and versatility,? Len Hunt said. Hunt is the executive vice president and COO of Kia Motors America. ?The Rondo SX Concept is proof that smart, spacious vehicles don?t need to be boring, and that consumers can still be passionate about a daily driver,? Hunt added further.

The concept car uses design elements that are employed by the current Kia SX models. The aggressive looking front and rear fascias are just some of the design characteristics that are being used by Kia models like the Rio and the Spectra. Aside from that, the concept crossover vehicle also employs sportier grill inserts. The addition of such design increases the aesthetic value of the vehicle.

To make the SX concept of the Rondo more aerodynamic, the roof rails present on other trim package of the Rondo were nowhere to be seen on the concept vehicle. The absence of the roof rails decreased dramatically the coefficient of drag of the vehicle. The door handles and side moldings are finished in contrasting colors which gives the car a soft and fashionable overall finish. The Kia Rondo SX Concept also comes with an accessory body kit which is also available on the other trim packages of the Rondo.

The interior of the concept vehicle exudes a sports car luxurious feel, thanks to the materials used and the finishes utilized. The black leather that wraps the steering wheel which is common on SX trim packages of other Kia models is also present in the Kia Rondo SX Concept. The seats, meanwhile, are upholstered in grey leather with red leather trimmings around the grey Alcantara inserts. Stainless steel sports pedals are employed by the SX concept and this departs from the black theme that the current Rondo models use on their brake pedals. The center stack, shifter surround, and the door switch trims are characterized by an accented platinum look.

The concept car is equipped with a 2.7 liter double overhead cam V6 engine. The powerplant is optimized via a cold-air intake and a cat-back exhaust system which reduces back pressure from the exiting exhaust gas. The use of the cat-back system allows a boost of 10 horsepower to the 192 horsepower output of the engine. The exhaust system allows the powerplant to perform at its optimum level, akin to what a Volvo muffler does for the exhaust system that employs it. The height of the Kia Rondo SX Concept is lower than that of the current models by three inches. The lowered ride height of the car increases the cornering capability of the car. The power from the engine is transferred to the vehicle?s five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels. And to effectively stop the vehicle, cross-drilled and slotted brake rotors are employed at the front and the rear brake system.

Aside from being a platform for the unveiling of the Kia Rondo SX Concept, the Chicago Auto Show also saw the Sedona, another Kia vehicle, receiving the distinction of being the best minivan according to MotorWeek.

Cars

Chevrolet Taxi Cab Boosts New Yorkers Mobility


General Motors Corp. is unleashing a new taxi fleet service to transport persons with mobility-restricting disabilities or spinal cord injuries. The introduction will coincide with the celebration of 100 years of taxi cabs in New York City. The first wheelchair-accessible cab approved for taxi use will make its public debut at the 2007 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS).

?General Motors is dedicated to making automotive transportation easier and more accessible for the millions of persons with disabilities,? said John Gaydash, the director of marketing for GM Fleet and Commercial Operations. ?With the debut of our new lowered-floor van for taxicabs, we are giving New Yorkers with disabilities a key element in maintaining independence ? mobility.?

The Chevrolet Uplander TC was upgraded by El Dorado National, GM?s approved upfitter, to make pass the taxi cab standard. The cab features a stainless steel floor that is 12 inches lower than the conventional. It also offers a full 58 inches of interior height without a raised roof.

?By lowering the floor instead of raising the roof we increase accessibility and keep the center of gravity low, which improves the safety of the vehicle,? said Gaydash. ?This creates nearly five feet of height in the rear passenger compartment, allowing both able and less able passengers to enter and exit with ease.?

The Uplander TC is made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lowered-floor of the cab is engineered to be used by airport shuttle services, private livery companies, rehabilitation and extended care facilities to further mobility concerns. The vehicle meets or exceeds all applicable safety standards in the United States and in Canada.

The modified Chevrolet Uplander TC is equipped with GM?s StabiliTrak electronic stability control system, optional fold-down, middle-row seat, an improved rear-seat capacity for superb passenger load, an easy-to-use sturdy manual fold-out ramp, a swing-out gate for quick access for all passengers, safe, commercial-grade non-slip flooring made of high-quality vinyl, high-strength tie-down belt system made by Q?Straint, the industry benchmark for safety, ensures that a wheelchair or motorized chair is snugly secured.

The Chevrolet Uplander TC (Taxi Cab) standard equipment includes the 12-inch lowered floor, stainless steel with undercoating, ADA-compliant, a 56-inch ramp entry door height, a 54-inch by 30-inch fold-out, a swing-away ramp, rear axle automatic air suspension system, stainless steel entry threshold or safety yellow, auxiliary fuse block for taxi equipment, interior flat-mounted compact spare tire, commercial-grade Altro vinyl flooring, transmission or door interlock system that complements Chevy door handle, ADA safety lighting, manual driver seat or removable footrest, rear heat and A/C conversion, third-row seat modification with LATCH, backup alarm, and an emergency exit rear hatch release.

It can be recalled that the largest automaker has launched its Mobility Program in 1991 to aid transportation options to individuals with disabilities. Earlier, the Springboard Consulting and Work Life Matters magazine in New York honored GM for its dedication to the special needs community.

The automaker has been the automotive industry?s sales leader for 76 years. In the previous year, it sold about 9.1 million cars and trucks under the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, HUMMER, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall brands.

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