Read this 2005-2010 Honda Odyssey review to help you get one

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With sleek styling, car-like handling, advanced safety features and high-tech interior design, Honda Odyssey is more than just an ordinary “people mover.” The Odyssey has front-wheel drive and is available in seven- or eight-passenger configurations. It has a strong V6 engine and an automatic transmission. What’s the most prominent inside Honda Odyssey is the high-tech design of the dashboard and sharp-looking instrument panel. It just doesn’t feel like “”soccer mom mobile”” inside. Front seats are supportive and comfortable on long trips. The tray between the front seats flips down for easy access to the second row. The second row captains chairs can be positioned together (bench style) or separately. In the eight-seat configurations, an additional small removable seat is installed between them. If you need to haul large cargo items, the second row seats can be removed and the third row seat can be folded into the large storage well behind it. Both sliding doors are equipped with power windows.

There are plenty of cupholders and cubbies throughout the cabin. Available features include power adjustable pedals, power tailgate, navigation, rearview camera, parking sensors and rear DVD.

Honda Odyssey interior
2007 Honda Odyssey interior. Click for larger photo
2007 Honda Odyssey cargo area
The third-row seats folds down into the floor
and the second-row seats can be removed

Engine: The Odyssey comes with a 244-hp 3.5L SOHC V6 mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. The EX with Leather and Touring models offer a Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) system that disables three of the six engine cylinders during cruising and deceleration to improve fuel economy. Overall, the 3.5L V6 is a strong, reliable engine. The only minus is that this engine has a timing belt that needs to be replaced at recommended intervals.

Safety: Disc brakes are standard on all four wheels. Anti-lock brakes, stability control, side and side curtain airbags are standard on all models. In the NHTSA crash tests, the 2005-2010 Honda Odyssey received five stars in both, frontal and side-impact crash tests.

Fuel Economy: The 2010 Odyssey is rated at 16/23 mpg (14.7/10.2 L/100 km) city/highway, while the VCM-equipped models get up to 17/25 mpg (13.8/9.4 L/100km). Among minivans, only Mazda 5 gets better gas mileage (21/27 mpg), but Mazda 5 is a much smaller vehicle.

Handling and Ride: On the road, the Odyssey handles very well thanks to a wide track and long wheelbase. The ride is firm, but comfortable, although you will hear some road noise. The steering is very responsive and precise. The 3.5L V6 engine is smooth and delivers enough power for any situation.

Pros: Spaciousness, upscale interior, strong V6 engine, excellent handling for a minivan, available features, crash-test ratings.

Cons: expensive compared to other minivans, low ground clearance (good for stability but easy to damage the low front end, real-world fuel economy figures could be disappointing.

Ways to Start Your Life Anew At Any Given Second

Life is a rough beast, one we all must tame and conquer. But there are some do’s and don’t’s about how to go about it. You could wallow in your abject misery for all of time and complain to anyone you meet about how you’re miserable and your life is as stagnant as a glacier, or you could embrace your new you and change your life around. Here are a few things you can do to turn that perpetual frown upside down and be a new you, one who is happy and pleasant to be around. The change is good and the time is now for his change. Don’t miss this opportunity. Go for it!

New Wardrobe

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One thing that can cause a lot of people frustration is the feeling that their physical appearance is a bore and that every time the leave the house they look the same as they have for years. You can change that by getting a new wardrobe. Now we’re not suggesting going to Goodwill and getting a bunch of lame ratty clothing. What you need to do is go to a place like H&M where the clothes are cool looking and are cheap. Sure they won’t last very long and will fall apart, but before they do, you will be looking good and that spring in your step will surely carry you far.

New Car

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Another thing we often over look as something we can change is your vehicle. You spend so much time in it and not only that but we are often defined by our car. We have no choice but to wear it as some sort of status symbol. So if you want to change things around for you, go to Ford Glendale and start shopping for a new car. You may be surprised to see that Fords these days are not a terrible eye sore and are actually kind of cool. Start browsing on http://www.sunrisefordnoho.com/ and you’ll be amazed about how far your dollar can go. You can get a sporty little ride for not very much monthly payment, and that will surely go a long way to make you feel good about life.

New Body

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If you’ve got a few extra pounds and i’m sure you do, then you better start exercising and dropping those pounds. A poor self image does a lot to ruin how you feel about yourself, and if you crave a new beginning then it’s time to get a move on and shed those extra pounds. You’ll be able to eat more of what you want since you’ll be shedding calories, and you’ll be able to look your friends and family in the eye with more confidence. Not only that, but you’ll fit into those old clothes from high school and you’ll be more attractive to the opposite sex. It’s a win win as you begin this new you life.

Awesome things about the Subaru Forester 2003-2008

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Subaru Forester is a solidly-built small wagon-like SUV. The Forester is one of the most fuel-efficient SUVs on the market. It comes with a 4-cylinder horizontally-opposed ‘boxer’ engine and manual or automatic transmission. All-wheel drive system is standard on all models; Subaru all-wheel drive system is one of the best out there. The 2003-2008 Forester got 5-star ratings in the NHTSA crash tests. The interior is plain, but functional. Front seats are supportive and comfortable on a long trip. An available sunroof is huge. All-around visibility is excellent. Available front and rear wiper deicers along with heated seats and mirrors are a big plus for winter conditions. On the downside, the rear seat space is fairly tight. Repair and maintenance costs are higher than some of the main competitors like Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V. Overall reliability is above average, but some engine problems are reported.

Subaru Forester interior
Subaru Forester interior, click for larger image
Subaru Forester cargo area
The Forester offers 64.5 cu. ft (1826 L) of cargo space
with the rear seats folded down
2008 Subaru Forester engine
Subaru Forester 2.5-liter engine

Powertrain: The Forester offers two engines: the 173-hp 4-cylinder 2.5L SOHC and the turbo-charged 224-hp 2.5L DOHC. Both are flat Boxer engines with cylinders arranged horizontally; two cylinders on each side. Both engines have a timing belt that must be replaced at recommended intervals. A turbo-charged DOHC engine requires premium gasoline. Transmission choices include a 5-speed manual with Hill Holder clutch or 4-speed automatic.

Fuel Economy: The 2008 AWD Forester with a non-turbo engine and an automatic transmission is rated at 20/26 mpg (11.8/9.0 L/100 km) by the EPA, with yearly fuel costs estimated at $2,550 with average driving. This means that on one full 16.9-gallon (64 liter) tank, the Forester can travel for 335 miles (538 km).

Handling and ride: On the road, the Forester is fun to drive. The flat horizontally placed engine gives the Forester a low center of gravity and as a result, the tall Forester feels very stable on winding roads. At the same time, the ground clearance is high enough not to worry about hitting curbs. Overall, the handling is comfortable. The steering is on the light side, but precise, with tight turning radius. The ride is fairly smooth. There is some wind and road noise at higher speeds, but not too intrusive. The non-turbo 2.5L engine has enough power for everyday driving. A turbo-charged engine is quicker, but is more expensive to maintain.

AWD System: What makes Subaru special is its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive where left and right axles are of the same length. Models with a manual transmission have an AWD system with a central limited slip differential. In automatic models the torque distribution between the front and rear axles is controlled electronically by a hydraulic transfer clutch. A viscous limited-slip rear differential is available. Although the Forester’s AWD system is not designed for rock climbing, it works well on slippery roads or in moderate off-road conditions. We drove the Forester through foot-deep snow and the vehicle handled with confidence.

Safety: Anti-lock Brakes (ABS) are standard. The 2003-2008 Subaru Forester received perfect five-star ratings in the NHTSA frontal and side-impact crash tests and four stars in dynamic rollover tests. The Forester earned the 2008 Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS.

Pros: Good fuel economy for an SUV, safety ratings, capable AWD system, low center of gravity, car-like handling, compliant ride, tight turning radius, visibility, decent ground clearance, standard roof rail.

Cons: Plain interior, road and wind noise, tight rear seat space, no telescopic adjustment on the steering column, small cupholders.

Check out these things when buying a Mitsubishi Lancer

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The Lancer is one of the most sporty looking compacts, thanks to the image created by its rally sibling – Lancer Evolution. But does it really stack up to its reputation? Is it a good car to buy used? To find out, we took it for a test drive.

Lineup: The 2008 Lancer was only available as a front-wheel drive sedan offered in budget-minded DE, mid-line ES and sporty GTS trim levels. The hatchback (Sportback) model joined the lineup for 2010. The 291-hp Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution model is probably known to every teenager, but you can only find a very few of them for sale on the used car market. A more affordable performer, the 237-hp AWD Lancer Ralliart was added for 2009, but they are also rare and expensive (neither of the two is covered in this review).

2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback.
Photo: Mitsubishi
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback interior
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback.
Photo: Mitsubishi

Mechanical: The base engine in the 2008-2013 Lancer is the 2.0L DOHC MIVEC 4-cylinder (MIVEC = variable timing) engine rated at 152 horsepower (later changed to 148). A stronger 168-hp 2.4-liter motor was added for 2009. Transmission choices include a 5-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Fuel Economy: The 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer with a 2.0L engine and a continuously variable transmission is rated at 22/28 mpg city/hwy (10.7/8.4 liters per 100 km). It’s not too bad, but well behind class leaders, for example, 2009 Honda Civic, which is rated at 25/35 mpg (9.4/6.5 L/100 km). Partially it’s because the Lancer is heavier: the 2009 Lancer SE with a continuously variable transmission weights 3,021 lbs. versus 2,754 lbs. of the 2009 Honda Civic LX-S with automatic. The 2.4L Lancer with the CVT gets 21 mpg city and 27 mpg on the highway.

Inside: The Lancer is roomy, but you probably won’t find it as exciting as on the outside. The dash looks clean with sporty gauges and strangely-shaped audio control knobs, but the quality of some of the interior plastic could be better. The front seats are supportive, but the steering wheel doesn’t telescope. The visibility is good although the front pillars feel a bit too thick, especially when turning left. Rear seat space is average for a small car; tall passengers will find the rear headroom tight. The trunk is large and the rear seatbacks fold down.

Handling: The Lancer handles sporty and holds the road well. The ride is on the firm side. The 2.0L motor is strong enough for daily driving, but is quite noisy, especially on acceleration. It also feels a bit sluggish when taking off from a stop, partially because of the CVT, which is a type of automatic transmission.

Pros: Styling, supportive front seats, sporty handling, available as a hatchback, not too many problems.

Cons: Gas mileage, acceleration with CVT, interior plastic, rear headroom, paint quality.

Odd things that should not be in your trunk

Most people by nature seem to be pack rats. If you take a look at a lot of homes you will see that the basement, attic, garage or closets are filled not with useful items that can be easily found when you need them but with things you do not need, never wanted, have no use for or just do not make sense. All you need to do is go to a couple of yard sales, garage sales or flea markets to confirm that. Just as those places are for storage in your home, the trunk of your car often turns out to be the same way. There are some pretty odd things that can end up in your trunk to the point where you may even take a look at them and wonder just how they got there.

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Taking a look into the trunk of someone’s car is a lot like taking an unwanted peek into their minds. You never quite know what you are going to find in there and what you do discover may mystify and horrify you. While most people may have a trunk with some emergency essentials like tools and jumper cables, others may have it filled with all of the paraphernalia related to whatever sports teams their kids may play on. Still others could simply have all of those reusable shopping bags in them that you swear you are going to use when you go into the supermarket but always forget to bring with you.
While all of that may seem like normal stuff, it is the truly odd stuff that may be harder to explain. Finding food that may have escaped from a shopping bag is one thing, but opening a trunk and finding something like one hundred pounds of potatoes or twenty-five watermelons might be a bit much. You may keep a jacket or even a change of clothes in the trunk for an emergency, but what if you found a suit of armor or a giant rabbit costume in there instead? The odds are pretty good you would just slowly close the trunk and back away and try to erase the thought of your buddy in a giant rabbit suit from your brain.

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Finding tools is perfectly normal or even an old car stereo, but what if you had fifteen DVD players or twenty laptop computers in there? Other than thinking they were stolen, you might be hard-pressed to come up with a reason for having them there. What you really need to worry about is if you find a fully dressed mannequin in the trunk of the car. You might have a hard time believing your friend that he uses it just for getting into the car pool lanes going to work.

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The next time you open your trunk take a good look around and see what is actually in there. You are likely to find a few things that you are unable to explain away for being there and it might give you a good excuse to clean it out and start fresh. Even better than that, you can start completely fresh with brand new car that you find at your local Toyota Costa Mesa dealership. You can see what is available at http://www.southcoasttoyota.com/ so you can get a new car that has a completely empty trunk, giving you the chance to start with a clean slate.

Why choosing the ‘right’ car is the best for you

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Consider your real needs
Dream car

When thinking about our car needs, we often think about our ‘dream’ car or truck. For example, ‘a sporty two-door convertible to ride around on a warm weekend’; or ‘a big SUV that should have 7,000-pounds of towing capacity in case I buy a boat, low-range 4WD if I go off-roading and lots of room for camping trips’. The reality is that you are probably going to need this type of vehicle maybe just once or twice a year, but you will have to drive it every day, spending a lot of money on gas and maintenance. So, think about your real needs for everyday driving. Write down what you need from your car and what you want your car to have and arrange the items in the order of importance. For example:

1. Must be cheap on gas, because I drive a lot.
2. Must be reliable, because I don’t want to spend too much on repairs.
3. It must have good rear seat space to fit a child seat.
4. Must have side airbags and antilock brakes.
5. Must have a cruise control.
6. It’s nice if it will look sporty.
7. I’d love to have an auxiliary input for my iPod.

Now it’s easy; if good gas mileage is your priority, start with fuel economy ratings (see next paragraph) and make a list of cars that you like that are good on gas. Check the Autotrader and see which of these models are available within your price range and scratch those that aren’t. Check reliability ratings of remaining models and scratch off the poorly-rated ones and so on. In the end, you are going to have three or four models left on your list and you are ready to start shopping.
By the way, if one day you really need a big truck to haul something, you can just rent one; it’s not that expensive. And if the weather is nice, you can rent a convertible for a weekend too; just book it in advance. If you really need an auxiliary jack for your iPod and the car doesn’t have one, you can buy an aftermarket iPod adaptor; it’s easy to install.
Compare gas mileage
New or Used

With today’s prices at the pump, gasoline is a major expense for all drivers. Before choosing your next car, check its gas mileage and estimated annual fuel costs.
You can do it at FuelEconomy.gov. You can search by class or by model. Along with the city/highway mpg numbers, you can check the estimated annual cost of fuel and whether the car requires a regular or premium gasoline. Here is an example:
Used Honda Civic and used Chevrolet Silverado. These two vehicles are priced within the same range and either one is often recommended as a first car or truck; one because it’s cheap on gas and the other one because it’s bigger and safer. According to Fueleconomy.gov, the estimated fuel costs for the 2004 Honda Civic is $1,950 per year versus $3,850 per year for the 2004 V6 Chevy Silverado. For three years of driving, you’d pay $5,850 for the Civic versus $11,550 for the Silverado at the pump.
The Fueleconomy.gov website also has Compare Side-by-Side feature where you can compare up to four different cars. Also check our list:
– Top ten used cars/SUVs with good gas mileage »
Research reliability ratings

The reliability is one of the most important factors to consider choosing a used car. Not all cars are built equally well. Some cars are proven to be very reliable; others are known for constant problems. Even within the same make and model, certain model years could have more problems. I did some research and selected a number of resources where you can check reliability ratings of different cars:
Consumer Reports is a one of the best sources for reliability ratings, but to access most of the features on their website, a paid subscription is required. However, you can check a printed copy of the Consumer Reports magazine at your local library.
MSN Autos is also useful when researching used cars. Follow menu ‘Car Research’, select a car you want and you will see the Reliability Rating on the right. Click it to see common problems.
J.D. Power and Associates – they offer new and used car ratings.
However, be aware, even most reliable model car won’t last long if not maintained properly. Check our used car reviews for common problems and reliability issues. Remember, any car or truck is a compromise: if it has a powerful engine, it won’t be good on gas or if it’s rated high for reliability, it won’t be cheap.
Look for a car that will hold its value well
New or Used

Don’t pay too much for a used car because when you decide to trade it in or sell it, it will worth a lot less. A perfect range to spend on a used car is $7,000-$13,000. Look for a vehicle that will hold its value better, so you can get something for it when you trade it in or sell it. Here are three real-life examples:

A while back, a friend of mine bought the 8-year old Toyota Corolla (in the photo) for $6,500. After four years of driving, he sold it for $3,500. This means that over four years, the car has lost only $3,000 in its value or $750 per year.
Another person I know bought a 5-year old Mercedes-Benz E-class for $25,000. After driving it for five years, he sold it for $6,500, which means the car has lost $18,500 of its value over five years, or $3,700 per year.
Another friend of mine bought a new Chrysler SUV for $48,000. After seven years, he traded it in for another vehicle. The dealer appraised his SUV’s trade-in value at $7,000, so his SUV has lost $41,000 of its value over seven years, which is just over $5,800 a year.

How do you find out whether the car will hold its value well or not? One way is to look up the retail or trade-in value of the current four-year old car of the same model. You can find the US trade-in values at NadaGuides. To find trade-in values in Canada, check CanadianBlackBook.com; follow Black Book Value menu.
Examples of cars that hold their value well: Toyota Matrix, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Acura TSX, Subaru Impreza.
Check safety ratings

There is no such thing as a perfectly safe car. However, some cars can protect you and your passengers better in case of a crash. You can check the crash test ratings for different cars at SaferCar.gov; the cars are rated with a five-star system where five stars is the highest rating and one star is the lowest. When looking at frontal crash ratings, only vehicles from the same weight class can be compared. Another important aspect of safety is the technology that can help you to avoid a crash, such as a Vehicle Stability Control or Antilock Braking System. This page at the Safecar.gov website allows you to check which models offer Electronic Stability Control. You can read more about this at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website: Crash avoidance technology.
Research ownership costs

When you look through used car listings, often you can see used luxury cars like Mercedes-Benz or BMW advertised for the same price as a used Honda Civic or Hyundai Elantra. Is a used Mercedes-Benz or BMW a good deal? The advertised prices might be the same, but ownership costs will be much different. You probably already know that upscale cars like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, Audi, Volkswagen, Acura and Lexus will cost you more in maintenance, parts and repairs. You will also probably have to pay more for the insurance; cost for fuel may also be different, as some luxury cars require premium gasoline. You can research ownership costs at Edmunds.com although they don’t provide data for older cars.
Car comparison tool
New or Used

If you want to decide between a few new and used vehicles, what can really help is a comparison tool where you can see the current prices, specification, gas mileage and warranty side by side. I found the comparison tool at the NadaGuides.com website to be very convenient. It allows you to compare up to four cars side by side, and what’s good about this tool, it allows you to compare new cars with used ones.
Environmental impact

All cars with an internal combustion engine produce some amount of emissions as by-products of burning fuel in the engine, or from evaporation of the fuel itself. Modern cars produce a lot less harmful emissions than those from 60’s or 70’s. However, considering how many cars are on the road today, they are still a major source of air pollution. Different cars have different impacts on the environment; you can compare environmental scores of different cars at EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide.

Consider cost of insurance

The cost of insurance varies a lot depending on the make, year, model and even the color of the car, as well as driver’s experience and many other factors. Compare insurance quotes for different models before shopping.
Used car or new
New or Used

A new or used is a common first question for many car buyers. A new car is covered by the warranty and for a few years, you don’t have to worry about repairs and major maintenance items like tires or brakes. Buying a new car is a fun experience and it’s a great pleasure to drive off the dealer’s lot in a brand new vehicle. To sway you in their favor, car manufacturers often offer a zero-percent financing and throw some other incentives into the deal. What are the drawbacks of buying a new car then? If you easily can afford one, there are none. The reality is, however, that not everyone is that lucky, so the price is a major factor why many people opt for a ‘pre-loved’ vehicle instead. Whether a new car is sold with zero-percent financing, cash-back or any other incentives, you still can buy a used car a lot cheaper. Still not sure? Visit any car manufacturer’s website and try to build and price a new vehicle, selecting options and packages you need. Once you get the MSRP, add all other fees applicable in your state or province, such as a sales tax, financing charges, etc. Then try to search the Autotrader for a similar 3-4 year old used car – it will be a lot cheaper. A new car loses a lot of its value in the first year. A well-maintained 3-4 year old used car in good condition with good reliability ratings can last without major problems for at least another 3-4 years. If you worry about mechanical problems, you can buy an extended warranty. Of course, It takes some time to find a clean used car in good condition and you obviously need to have it inspected before buying. In addition, there won’t be zero-percent financing with a used car. Still, a used car will be cheaper. If it’s cheaper, it will be easier to pay it off without having to deal with lengthy contracts. Once you paid it off, if you want to sell it, you can sell it.
Choosing a first car

Of course your considerations may be different, but here is what I’d recommend to take into account when selecting a first car: First of all, a first car is probably going to be banged up a little bit here and there, so I wouldn’t recommend buying something expensive. You also probably want to consider something that is not too fast, as the reality is that power and inexperience is not a very good combination; the insurance companies are aware of this too. You probably want something safe, so good crash-test ratings are important. Features like the Antilock Brakes (ABS) and Stability Control can be very helpful in avoiding a crash. If you are thinking about a truck or SUV, the rollover rating should be considered; some older trucks and SUVs, especially those without a stability control system are easier to tip over. Read above where to check safety ratings.
A first car should be easy to drive and have good visibility. It’s also desirable that the first car or truck should be more or less reliable and easy to maintain. An example? I’d recommend something like the 2003-2007 Honda Accord with a 4-cylinder engine; it’s cheap on gas and for the most part reliable. It’s not too small and not too bulky. The 4-cylinder model is not too fast and the Accord has good crash-test ratings. This generation Accord also has the antilock brakes (ABS).
Finding a car for a tall driver

Finding a car for a tall driver is difficult, but not impossible. One way is to visit a large auto mall and try different cars. The other way is to look for the headroom and legroom specifications. The headroom is measured as a vertical distance from the bottom of the seat cushion to the headliner. If you are tall, you need to look for 38-40 inches of headroom. For example, the 2009 Toyota Matrix has 40.5 inches of headroom in the front, which is a lot; the 2008 Subaru Forester front headroom is specified at 39.8 inches, which is also very good. If you need good headroom in the back as well, look for the same range; for example, 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer has only 36.9 inches of headroom in the back, which means a tall person would have to lean down riding in the back of the Lancer. Similarly for the legroom: if you are tall, look for the legroom at closer to 40-inch range. For example, if the rear legroom is specified at only 36 inches, a 6’2″” person will probably have knees touching the back of the front seat.
Leather vs cloth seats

Leather seats feel colder in winter, although almost all cars with leather have heated front seats. The same story when you leave your car under the sun on a hot day: the leather will feel very hot to the touch, especially the dark-colored one. Cloth seats are more tolerable in cold or hot temperatures. On the flip side, cloth seats tend to absorb the smell. If you check several few-years old cars, the ones with cloth seats are more likely to have some smell inside. Leather seats are easier to clean, but any rough object can leave a mark or scratch. Beige, gray or any other light-colored leather will not age well, as creases and cracks will be more noticeable; dark leather will look better in an older car.
Automatic or manual transmission

An automatic transmission is obviously more convenient since it’s doing all the gear shifting for you and you have only two pedals to deal with. If you have to drive through stop-and-go traffic every day, an automatic transmission without questions is a better choice, as it’s exhausting to shift the stick every few seconds. It’s also easier to drive an automatic transmission when you have to start from a stop going up hill (although some newer cars with a manual transmission do have a hill start assist feature). However, an automatic transmission is more complex device than a manual. Although the reliability of automatic transmissions has been improved in recent years, automatic transmission problems are not uncommon and the repairs are expensive.
A manual transmission is more simple and tends to be more reliable. Cars with a manual transmission are usually less expensive and offer better acceleration. A manual transmission allows you to “”feel”” your car better and it’s just more fun to drive. Many (although not all) manual-transmission models offer better fuel economy. A manual transmission gives you more control over gear shifting, so if you want to drive in a more fuel-efficient way, it’s a lot easier to do with a manual transmission.
On one of the long trips in my 5-speed Honda Accord, I tried to shift gears earlier and drive more steadily to see if I can improve my fuel economy. I was easily able to get 35 mpg (6.7 L/100 km) out of the car that is rated at 31 mpg (7.6 L/100 km) on a highway.
A manual transmission may seem challenging for a beginner, but it’s really not that difficult to learn; many people I know learned to drive a manual quickly. Once you learned it, you will enjoy it. On the down side, the choice of cars with a manual transmission is often limited and it could be more difficult to sell a car with a manual transmission. In addition, a manual transmission has a clutch that may need to be replaced at some point.
4-cylinder versus 6-cylinder engine

A 4-cylinder engine is lighter and smaller and offers better fuel economy. A typical new passenger car with a 4-cylinder engine is less expensive than a V6 model and it costs less to own than a similar car with a V6. Modern 4-cylinder engines are much more reliable than in the old days and with proper maintenance can last very long.
On the other hand, a V6 engine is smoother and quieter. A 6-cylinder engine offers more power and more low-end torque that is important if you are using your vehicle for towing. A front-wheel drive vehicle with a heavier V6 will have slightly better traction on slippery roads than a same 4-cylinder vehicle with the same tires. This is because the added weight of the V6 over the drive wheels improves their traction.
In terms of problems and repairs, most of the 4-cylinder engines have a simple design with just one cylinder head, one intake and one exhaust manifold. A typical 4-cylinder engine has only one catalytic converter with two oxygen sensors.
A V6 engine has two cylinder heads, two exhaust manifolds and more complex intake manifold. A typical V6 engine has two catalytic converters and four oxygen sensors. Problems with oxygen sensors and catalytic converters are not uncommon and a catalytic converter is a very expensive part to replace.
A V6 engine also takes more space under the hood and is more difficult to work on, especially in a front-wheel drive car. For example, you can change the spark plugs in a typical 4-cylinder car in about half an hour, as all the spark plugs are usually easily accessible. In a front-wheel drive car with a V6 engine, it’s a lot more difficult job.
Considering all this, a 4-cylinder engine is a better choice for daily driving, unless you really need the extra power or other benefits of a V6. With all the technological advances, today’s 4-cylinder engines provide the best combination of fuel economy and power.
Considering a car with a diesel engine

A car with a diesel engine consumes a lot less fuel than the same car with a gasoline engine. For example, the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta with the 2.0L TDI turbo-diesel engine and an automatic DSG transmission is rated at 30/42 mpg city/highway (7.8/5.6 L/100 km), while the 2013 Jetta with the conventional 2.0L non-turbo gasoline engine and an automatic transmission is rated at 23/29 mpg (10.2/8.1 L/100 km). Diesel engines offer better low-end torque and modern technology has come a long way to make today’s diesels less noisy and smelly. However, a diesel engine is still not as quiet as a gasoline-powered one. Another issue, newer diesel cars have more complicated emission control systems.
Finding a car with seats high off the road

Answering the question from one of our readers: Is there a specification that measures the height of the front seats above the road? Unfortunately, car manufacturers don’t provide this type of specifications. One of the ways to estimate how high off the floor the front seats are is to compare the overall height (without roof rails) and front headroom, which is the distance between the seat cushion and the headliner. For example, the 2013 Honda Civic LX overall height is listed at 56.5 inches and the front headroom at 39 inches without sunroof, while the 2013 Toyota Matrix overall height is measured at 61 inches and the headroom is listed at 40.5 inches. Roughly, the distance between the roof of the car and the headliner is about 1.5 inches without the sunroof or about 2.5 inches with the sunroof. This means that the height off the road of the 2013 Honda Civic is roughly 56.5 – (39 + 1.5) = 16 inches. Calculating the same for the 2013 Toyota Matrix we get 61.0 – (40.5 + 1.5) = 19 inches. These are obviously not the precise numbers, but if you compare Honda Civic with Toyota Matrix, the Matrix front seats are definitely higher off the road.

What you need to know about car washing

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Washing your car is pretty straight forward, but there are a few tips to help you get it right every time! Washing your car the right way will help to avoid damaging the paint surface, giving it a superior clean.
What you’ll need

Car wash
Two sponges or wash mitts
Large bucket
Chamois or drying towel

Tips and warnings

Some people use dishwashing liquid – this is a mistake. It is meant to clean dishes and not cars, meaning it can strip wax and promote oxidation over time dulling the finish.
You should generally work from top to bottom on your car, avoiding washing the lower parts twice.
Only use a moderate amount of force to scrub the panels, as using too much pressure may scratch your paintwork.
Avoid dropping your sponge to the bottom of the bucket, there will be dirt and other contaminants there.
Refill your bucket with clean water and new car wash whenever necessary – dirty water doesn’t clean well and excess contaminants may damage the paint.
Re-wet the car’s surface regularly while you are cleaning the car to prevent any water stains as it dries.

Procedure
Before you start

Park your car in the shade to wash it or, if you can’t, make sure that the car is cool to the touch.

Step 1 – Apply high pressure hosing to wheel arches

First, use a strong jet setting or a pressure washer to hose the grime and muck from the undersides and wheel arches of your car – it’s good to get rid of the nastiest stuff first.

Step 2 – Hose the entire car body down

Next hose the entire car down. Working from the top down, thoroughly wet the surface and remove any lose dirt. This reduces the chance of creating swirls when you wash the car.

Step 3 – Dilute car wash in bucket

Make sure you read the instructions on your car wash to determine the right ratio of car wash to water, and then add the recommended quantities to your bucket.

Step 4 – Apply wash to car with sponge or wash mitts

Apply the wash liberally over the paintwork working from the roof down, and rinsing each panel as you go.

When you reach the wheels and sills, use a second sponge to make sure the sponge you use for the body work stays as clean as possible.

Step 5 – Thoroughly rinse water off car

Rinse the entire vehicle with a steady stream of water. This allows the water to ‘sheet’ off the paintwork, making the drying process easier and quicker.

Step 6 – Dry off car with a chamois or drying towel

Finally, dry the vehicle with a chamois or drying towel. Start at the roof and move down to the tyres, ensuring you also wipe in and around door jambs.

Make sure you give any metal or chrome an extra rubdown to ensure all water spots are removed.

Taking it to the Beach – Packing for a Day in the Sun

Even when it may not be the summertime, if you live in the right area or just want to get away for a few days you can get to places where sun, sand and surf are the norm just about all day long. Instead of sitting in your office all day long or feeling cooped up at home, think about how much fun it would be to just hop in your car and drive over to the beach for the day or even a few days. If the urge is too much and you need the beach experience now, remember to pack a few of the essentials with you for your day in the sun.

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Bathing Suit – Okay, even as obvious as this may sound, there is nothing worse than getting all the way out to the beach only to find that you left your swimming trunks or bikini laying on the bed at home. Sure, you can probably go out and buy one somewhere, but why spend the money on something you already have? Even if you are not planning on going into the water you still want to have your bathing suit so you can get the sun that you really want.

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Towel – Almost as annoying as forgetting your bathing suit is leaving your towel at home. Getting out of the water and having nothing to dry yourself off with leaves you shivering and uncomfortable for the rest of the day. Even worse is when you do not have a towel to lay down in the sand. This means you get covered in sand the minute you sit down, and getting the sand off your body and out of your suit can seem next to impossible for you.

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Supplies – There are a few basic supplies you are going to want to take with you to enhance your day at the beach. Having some type of sunblock, even if you are a serious sun worshipper, is a necessity today. Taking along your sunglasses and a hat are never bad things to have along with you as well. If you have sandals or flip flops bring those as well (sand in your shoes is not cool). If the beach allows it, take a small cooler with you with some water to keep you hydrated and maybe a small snack to tide you over. Throw in a good book or magazine and you are ready to go. Leave your electronics at home for a change, though having your cellphone is never a bad idea in case you need it for emergencies.
Of course, in order to get to the beach you are going to need a car you can rely on. You want to be able to just hope in your car and go at the spur of the moment without having to worry about if your car will make it. Now may be a good time for you to consider an upgrade of your vehicle so you never have a problem leaving. Toyota Phoenix Metro has all of the new and used car options you could want at the best prices. You can see what is available to you at http://www.righttoyota.com/ so you can find that perfect car or truck to take you out to the beach.

Check out these amazing paint chips

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How to fix paint chips.
picture of paint chip on car

The repair of a scratch and a chip are the same. A scratch is merely a chip on uni-directional steroids. The only problem with a scratch is that it takes more time to be able to blend in the new paint.

Items you need:
Touchup or color matched paint
Compatible primer – I like Wurth Rustop primer
Organic cleaner – P21S Total Auto Wash or Wurth Citrus Degreaser
Solvent – Rubbing Alcohol or Prepsol or Enamel Reducer
3M Imperial Hand Glaze
Meguiar Finesse Sanding Block 2000 grit
Car wash
600 grit wet/dry sandpaper
Round undyed wooden toothpicks
Large lightweight cardboard boxes (large shoe box or bigger)
Several 100% cotton towels
Magnifying glass – help for we with older eyes
New Pencils with unused erasers
Rubber glue
Several heavy clean plastic cups
Roll of quality paint masking tape

Realize that paint chip repair is a learned skill and should be practiced on an area of the car that is not that visible. The hood and nose are two areas that should be tackled last. Test all cleaners or solvents on the paint prior to usage. I like to use the seam underneath the rocker panels. Apply a little cleaner or solvent to a cloth and rub the seam. If you do not get any color on the rag, then the cleaner/solvent should be safe for the paint. If you do get color on the rag, then you may wish to consider another solvent.

CHIP REPAIR STEPS:

1. At least 24 hours before you want to start, use the rubber glue to attach small 600 grit sandpaper circles (the diameter of the eraser) onto several new pencils. The eraser must be unused and flat on top.

2. Step #1: Wash the car with a quality car wash and dry thoroughly.

3. Paint chips come in two flavors. The worst case has exposed the bare metal, while the less severe has left the original primer intact. Clean the area thoroughly with the P21S or Wurth Citrus degreaser. If there is rust on the exposed metal, clean off with the pencil eraser. Use a toothpick to gently probe the area and make sure that the edges of the chip are secure and not waiting to fall off and destroy your work. This is an optional step! If you do not feel comfortable with sanding or your paint is one of the new clear-coated finishes, you should jump to step number 5. Take a new pencil/sandpaper tool, dip into clean water and put a few drops of water on the chip area. *SLIGHTLY* rough up the chip and a small portion of the surrounding paint. Lightly turning the pencil will rough up an area the diameter of the eraser and this should be more than enough. Keep the roughed up area as small as possible, the object is to give the new paint approximately 1 mm of old paint to “”grab”” around the perimeter of the chip and not dig scratches.

4. Move onto the next chip and repeat the above. Depending upon the amount of time available, you may wish to tackle 10-20 chips at one time. Try to stay within the area that may be covered by your box(es).

5. When finished sanding all your chips you are tackling at this time apply a small amount of Alcohol or Prepsol or Enamel Reducer to a rag and wipe each chip and surrounding area to remove any sanding dust and grease/oils. Use additional solvent and new area of the rag for each chip. Allow to dry (these are highly volatile and will evaporate quickly with no residue).

6. If the original primer is intact, and “”pencil sanding”” does not disturb the primer, then skip the next step and go directly to painting (# 9)

7. Make sure that the chip and surrounding area is clean. If not, reclean with the Prepsol, Alcohol or Enamel Reducer. Pour or spray a small amount of primer into a clean plastic cup. Dip the point of a wooden toothpick into the primer to get a thin coating on the first 1-2 mm of the toothpick. If there is a blob on the end, gently scrape it back into the cup. Place the tip of the toothpick against the center of the chip and allow capillary action to literally flow a *THIN* coat of the primer into the depression of the chip. Move onto the next prepared chip. If you have finished priming all your prepared chips before two hours are up, cover with a box, taped down with masking tape and go have a beer. The key is to allow the first coat of primer to dry at least two hours. Dispose of your cup and start with a fresh cup and toothpick. Apply another thin coat of primer to each repair that needs primer. Priming is completed when no metal is visible and the levelof the primer is *BELOW* the level of the surrounding paint. This is important! Cover and allow to dry for two hours or until dry.

8. Apply a small amount of Alcohol or Prepsol or Enamel Reducer to a rag and wipe the chip and surrounding area to remove any sanding dust and grease/oils. Allow to dry. Repeat for all the chips that are on today’s list of victims.

9. If you are using a touchup, shake the bottle thoroughly. If you are using color-matched paint, mix thoroughly and pour a small amount into a clean plastic cup.

10. Dip the point of a new toothpick into the paint to get a thin coating on the first 1-2 mm of the toothpick. If there is a blob on the end, gently scrape it back into the bottle. Place the tip of the toothpick against the center of the chip and allow capillary action to literally flow the paint into the depression of the chip. Repeat for each chip. The key is not to use too much paint. Do not redip the toothpick. Use only the amount that will flow from one dip. Temptation to add more paint with each application will be almost overwhelming. Fight it!

11. Cover with your paint box and allow to dry 2 hours and repeat 8-12 times till the depression is filled with paint and bulges slightly upward and covers the roughed up area with a thin coating of paint. The first 2-3 coats may not completely hide the primer. This is fine because you have many more coats to go. Fight that urge!

12. The paint application is completed when the new paint bulges slightly upward (a fraction of a millimeter) and had covered the roughed up area with a thin coat of new paint. Allow the paint to dry for at least a week.

13. The touchup paint has been applied to the surface and allowed to dry for at least 1 week, and resembles a minute mound ( __o__ ) (this is exaggerated) on the flat plane of the existing paint. The object is to remove the mound and make the surface of the paint one continuous flat plane. The Finesse Block offers the ability to gently remove only the high spot of the repair. Unlike sandpaper or polish on a rag, the five usable sides of the block are flat and act like a “”wood plane”” to remove only the elevated areas of the repair. The 2000 grit will not leave scratches.

14. Soak the Finesse Block in clean water for 24 hours prior to use. Put a small drop of car wash on the chip repair. This acts as a lubricant for the sanding block. Then gently “”plane”” the high spot on the paint. I prefer to “”plane”” in one direction (usually back to front – drawing the block towards me). If the block dries out, re-wet and continue use. When the new and existing paints are blended (smoothed to the flat plane) to your satisfaction, clean the area using a quality car wash and lots of water and then use a quality glaze to restore the high gloss finish. I prefer 3M Imperial Hand Glaze. Don’t use a machine on your car, as it deserves to be caressed by hand. Use a machine on your Yugo or SO.

15. When applying either a glaze or a wax, apply to your soft cotton cloth or applicator pad (don’t squirt the stuff on the car) and work in one direction only. Don’t go around in circles like dear old dad. Circles are many times the cause of “”swirl marks.”” A front-to-back, back-to-front motion (the way the air flows over the car) will help minimize swirl marks or at least make them less visible. Buff out with a soft cotton cloth. If it looks good, wax with a quality hard wax and you are done.

16. Tip for applying wax. If you are using a quality Carnauba based wax, try applying it with your fingers instead of a pad or cloth. Hold your fingers together and use your fingertips as an applicator pad. The tactile feedback from your fingers will tell you when the wax has been worked into the paint. If grit should lodge under your fingers, you will know immediately and not grind it into the paint. A pad will not allow this tactile feedback and these devil grits become sandpaper. A circular motion of the pad will make a 360-degree swirl mark. All marks on paint are most visible at a 90 degree viewing angle. Thus the front to back marks are most visible from the sides, whereas a circle stands out from any viewing angle.

The question was also asked if clear touchup should be used as a final coat to repair chips on clear coat paint. There are two viewpoints to this question. The purist will say yes, the paint has a clear coat and thus, the repair should also. The process is the same as previously described, except the clear coat is substituted for the last 2-3 coats or paint. The practical world says no. The touchup paint is different from the original paint and is formulated only as a touchup paint. Once it is applied it should, according to the manufacturer, match well enough to be all but invisible. I have found this to be the case with the numerous repairs on the many cars/colors, I have completed. If you are using the original paint as a touchup (I have not done this with a clear coated car), then my understanding is that you should use the clear as a topcoat. The color coat of some paints will many times be relatively dull in appearance. These paints rely on the clear coat to provide the “”shine.”” Try one chip in an area that is not that visible. If the process works, then continue with the rest. If not try the clear coat top layer.

Jaguar XKR Silverstone

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Jaguar introduced the all-new XK8 for the 1998 model year. It replaced the beautiful and iconic — though outdated — XJ-S. In comparison, the XK8 was a modern two-seat grand tourer, both in terms of looks and technology. XKR was the high-performance variant. It featured a beefed-up suspension, larger wheels and a supercharged V-8. Named after the famous British racing circuit, the Silverstone edition was created to honor the marque’s F1 racing heritage. The Silverstone edition added Brembo brakes, a selection of chassis reinforcements and massive 20-inch wheels. Only 100 of these cars where produced. All came decked-out in striking Platinum Silver paint along with contrast-piped black leather upholstery. While the XKR’s sizable chassis made it too big and heavy to be a proper sports car, the 370 horsepower put out by its eight-cylinder engine made it fast enough.