The Hottest New Cars for 2014

With 2014 right around the corner, I thought it would be a lot of fun to write a post about the hottest new cars for 2014. As most of us know by now, I am a speed junkie with a soft spots for the classics but I won’t let that cloud my judgement when looking at these cars.

1. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Chevy brings an iconic name back to the American sports car scene. The Stingray is available in coupe and convertible versions. She has been completely redesigned. Chevrolet gave the Stingray an all-new chassis and new mechanicals. The high-tech 6.2-liter V8 engine posses 450 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque through the rear wheels that encourages fast driving, helping you beat your friends off the line with a launch from 0 to 60 mph in a screaming 3.8 seconds. Lighter in weight, but with a more rigid structure, an ideal 50/50 front-to-rear weight ratio, re-engineered steering and suspension systems and an array of sophisticated chassis-control hardware, the new ‘Vette’ promises unswerving handling. A new Drive Mode Selector allows the driver to tune 12 separate performance attributes according to five different driving situations, including one for use on wet roads and another that enables the engine to run on only four cylinders to garner maximum fuel economy. Oh, did we mention the new interior? It’s pretty designed for a rock star with the functionality of a race car. This is our favorite new car for 2014, hands down.

2. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Featuring bold and elegant new styling, it comes powered in the S550 version by a 455-horsepower twin-turbo V8 or a 5.5-liter twin-turbo 577-horsepower V8 in the higher-performance S63 AMG 4MATIC model. Over-the-top-shelf options include rear seats that simulate a hot stone massage, heated armrests and an ionizing and perfuming feature for the climate control system. Talk about riding in style…this is what I am talking about.

3. Jaguar F-Type

It packs a powerful 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine that puts out either 340 or 380 horsepower, depending on the version. A 5.0-liter 495-horsepower supercharged V8 is also available; it’s estimated to enable the F-Type to hit the 60 mph mark in just over four seconds. All engines come mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission that includes a manual gear-select mode with steering wheel-mounted paddle-shifters.  Its lightweight, yet-rigid aluminum structure, rear-drive configuration and sophisticated suspension promise sporty handling abilities in the British sports car tradition. A closed-roof coupe version will follow within a year.

4. Jeep Cherokee

Replacing the former Liberty model in Jeep’s lineup, the new midsize Cherokee SUV features a new Jeep that should brighten up the faces of traditional Jeep enthusiasts. It packs either a Fiat-supplied 184 horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or a new 271-horsepower 3.2-liter V6, with an advanced nine-speed automatic transmission standard. The Cherokee offers many high-tech safety features, along with niceties like a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats and a wireless charging pad for portable devices.

5. Mercedes Benz CLA-Class

Mercedes says it will be among the most-aerodynamic car designs among production cars, with a coefficient of drag at just 0.23. A 208-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine comes with the base CLA250, while the high-performance CLA45 AMG variant packs a specially tweaked hand-built 355-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four. The only available transmission will be a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual, with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive optional on the CLA250 and standard with the CLA45 AMG.

6. Cadillac ELR

The midsize Cadillac ELR coupe is essentially a luxury-minded two-door version of the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric car. The ELR features distinctive styling that borrows cues from other Cadillac models, with a posh high-tech-looking interior and assorted amenities, though its electric powertrain and engineering largely carries over from the Volt. It’s powered by an electric motor and a plug-in chargeable battery pack, but once the battery runs low (it should run in full electric mode for about 35 miles on a charge), a small gasoline engine engages to run a generator that, in turn, powers the motor. Those with a modest commute may rarely have to visit a gas station. If the Volt is any indication, the ELR should be quick off the line and deliver reasonably sporty ride and handling attributes, though back seat space and cargo room look to be tight.

7. Chevrolet SS

The new leading sedan at Chevy is an aggressively styled rear-drive model that comes by way of General Motors’ Holden subsidiary in Australia. In homage to classic SS-designated models from the 1960’s, this bad boy goes fast with Corvette’s 6.2-liter 415-horsepower small-block V8 engine, and can go from 0-60 mph in around five seconds.

8. Chevrolet Silverado / GMC Sierra

Fully redesigned for 2014, General Motors’ full-size pickup trucks come with myriad structural and engineering revisions to enhance their already decent ride and handling characteristics. We have to admit being disappointed with the Silverado and Sierra’s only modestly revised exterior designs that seem dated from day one. The trucks’ trio of “EcoTec3” engines include a new 4.3-liter V6 with 285 horsepower, a revised 5.3-liter V8 with a beefier 355 horsepower and a 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horses for heavier-duty use; all incorporate direct fuel injection for improved performance and selective cylinder shutdown for better fuel economy.

9. Toyota Corolla 

I know, I know…this doesn’t really fit in with the other machines we have talked about thus far. But check out this little Corolla, you’ll be impressed.

10. BMW 4 Series

For 2014, the former BMW 3 Series coupes and convertibles get a major redesign and are reclassified as 4 Series models. Fresh exterior designs borrow front styling cues from the sedans, but they otherwise resemble smaller versions of BMW’s 6 Series models. There’s a choice of a 240 horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine in the 428i, and a faster 300-horsepower 3.0-liter turbo-six in the 435i, ad both can be mated to either a standard eight-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission; BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system will be optional with the coupes.

11. Cadillac CTS

A third-generation CTS sedan debuts for 2014 that’s longer, lower and lighter in weight than before, with more athletic-looking exterior styling that’s highlighted by an striking new front end treatment that announces its arrival with authority. Three separate engines are available, including a base 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with a just adequate 272 horsepower and a 3.6-liter V6 with a livelier 321-horsepower. Meanwhile, a new Vsport version features Caddy’s first ever twin-turbo V6 that delivers an eager 420 horses, along with other performance-minded steering, braking and suspension upgrades.

12. Infiniti Q50

13. Kia Cadenza

Kia, a brand known more for its budget-minded models, takes a step deep into luxury-car territory with its new Cadenza sedan. While it sits about five inches longer than Kia’s popular Optima, it affords only equivalent interior room. Power comes from a 3.3-liter direct-injected 293-horsepower V6 engine that would seem to be only about as quick – though perhaps smoother and quieter – and somewhat less fuel efficient than the Optima’s excellent 2.0-liter turbo-four engine.

Sources: Fobres, Car & Driver, KBB.com, Market Watch & U.S. News


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How To Change Windshield Washer Pump

Today we’re going to discuss changing your windshield washer pump. We’ll go ahead and categorize this task as an intermediate level project (if you’re thinking beginner, intermediate and advanced) You’re going to need some tools to knock this project out. Here is a list of what you will need:

  • voltmeter or 12VDC test light (to check voltage at connector)
  • piece of hose / siphon (to remove as much washer fluid as possible)
  • small flat tip screwdriver
  • 10mm socket & ratchet
  • vise grip or decent pliers
  • brass or steel brush (old toothbrush also helpful)
  • Q-tips for additional cleaning
  • hot water (works well at removing loose rust/dirt)
  • CRC Electronic Cleaner (MAF Cleaner works too)
  • Electrical tape (if housing is cracked)
  • about 45-60 minutes (a refreshing drink wouldn’t hurt either)

Step 1:

First siphon as much washer fluid from the tank as possible. If your tank is already empty then great! But if you have a lot of fluid still in the tank it would be best to drain it or be quick with the tank removal so that all that fluid does not wind up all over the place.

Then remove the 10mm bolt holding the windshield washer tank in place:

Step 2:

Unplug the electrical connector from the washer pump:

Step 3:

Lift the washer tank up slightly and using a small flat tip screwdriver gently pry the black plastic bracket tab from the tank and remove the bracket:

Step 4:

Remove the washer jet hose from the pump outlet (if tank is full be prepared for fluid to come gushing out):

Step 5:

Disconnect electrical connector for the ‘washer fluid low’ sensor:

Step 6:

The washer tank & pump can now be removed from the engine compartment. If you have to drain the tank now; do so. Once drained remove the washer pump by pulling the pump straight up.

If you have a new washer pump then place the new pump into the tank and install everything in back into the engine compartment. If you are going to repair your washer pump then continue reading.

Inspect the washer pump for damage (my pump has a large crack along the top half of the housing):

Step 7:

Separate the top half of the pump housing from the bottom half using the small flat tip screwdriver (use a twisting motion instead of prying):

Step 8:

Once the top half of the pump is loose remove it. You should end up with these two parts:

Step 9:

Using the flat tip screwdriver GENTLY pry the side tabs the connect the top of the pump motor to the can (metal housing):

Step 10:

Once the tabs are moved gently remove the top half of the pump motor from the can (metal housing):

Step 11:

The underside view of the motor top. You can see the electrical components and the motor brushes (use q-tips to clean between the brushes):

Step 12:

A view of the electrical pump motor. Rust has seized the armature to the field magnets in the can and will not turn by hand:

Step 13:

Using a vise grip at the lowest setting needed to grip the armature axle turn gently twist the axle until the armature breaks free from the field magnets:

Step 14:

Once the armature can be moved gently remove it from the can (this armature shows signs of rust starting from the bottom – possible leak within the pumps impeller housing):

Step 15:

A look inside the motor can and field magnets (lots of rust from the bottom – up):

Step 16:

Using hot water, your finger, an old toothbrush, a metal brush and q-tip remove as much rust / dirt / debris from the pump housing:

Step 17:

Using a metal or brass brush clean all contaminates from the electromagnets. Be careful NOT to break the armature coil wires or damage the communicator (small brass piece atop the electromagnets). Clean that with your finger or VERY gently with a brass brush:

Step 18:

Once you have as much as you can clean; use the Electrical Cleaner (MAF Cleaner) to rinse off all the components. Let the components air dry. Before assembly blow air into the outlet port of the pump assembly. If the impeller is still working you will hear a whirling noise as well as see the movement of the white plastic piece at the inlet port.

Step 19:

To assemble, be sure to insert armature back into pump housing (can) with the notched end of the armature axle at the bottom. You will have to twist gently to get armature to seat correctly in between the field magnets:

Step 20:

The armature is fully seated when the electromagnets are just below the top of the field magnets (can assembly):

Step 21:

Now line up the pump motor top with the housing by using the plastic tab and notch available (the blue capacitor is right behind the plastic tab) – only line up these points – DO NOT attempt to seat pump motor top yet:

Step 22:

With the tab and notch aligned look at the underside of the pump motor top to get a view of the motor brushes:

Step 23:

Use the flat tip screwdriver to gently move the motor brushes aside in order to secure the pump motor top to the housing (the brushes should end up resting on the brass communicator):

Step 24:

With the motor top fully seated; bend the metal tabs of the motor can inward to secure the top to the rest of the housing (I found it easier to first tap in from the side of the tab and then from the top):

Step 25:

Carefully line up the top half of the pump housing with the pump leads and secure the top half to the bottom half. Be even with the pressure and gentle so that you don’t force the top half farther than it needs to be or you might end up cracking it.

If you have a battery charger or a 12VDC power supply you can test the washer pump motor before installing into the tank. My pump kicked on right away using the maintenance charger I use for my motorcycles.

Now would be a great time to flush out your windshield washer fluid tank. Washer fluid can gel and gum up the tank over time (use LOTS of hot water):

Step 26:

Also flush out your washer pump filter / seal (this one was covered in blue gel before I washer it):

Step 27:

Now place washer pump filter / seal back in the tank opening (make sure it is flush not half in like this picture):

Step 28:

This is a properly seated washer pump filter / seal:

Step 29:

Place repaired washer pump assembly back on the tank (you can see that I used electrical tape to wrap around the top half of the washer pump due to the crack it had):

Step 30:

Install washer tank & pump back into engine compartment. Connect ‘washer fluid low’ sensor, washer jet hose, black plastic bracket to tank, washer pump connector and 10mm bolt to metal body. Make sure tank seats properly at the bottom (there are small alignment tabs that go into the metal).

Now add washer fluid to tank, key on (position 2) and activate the windshield washer system. If the washer jets spray fluid then congratulations on a job well done:

We’re All Done!

Now where did I leave the refreshing drink I had made myself at the beginning?

Sources: BMW Forum, E46 Forum

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How To Change The Headlights In You Car

We all know we need headlights to drive at night, in bad weather, garages, tunnels and etc. Sometimes changing those bad boys can be confusing and frustrating. In today’s post, we will share with you the best way to change the headlights in your car.

Changing your headlights yourself will save you a lot of money. The price of a bulb and 15 minutes of your versus the price of having ‘Pete’ from your local service station do the work is about 4 times cheaper.

Step 1: Find The Light Housing (tip: look behind your headlight under the hood and find the red and black wires)

Step 2: Unplugging the Headlight Wiring

Remove the Wiring Harness
The three wires are attached to a plug that is at the base of the headlight itself. This plug will be held in by a plastic catch, a metal clip, or in some cases a screw cap.

For a plastic catch, you’ll see a little lever sticking up at the top of the plug. Press this down with your thumb and pull backwards. Don’t be afraid to put a little force behind it.

For a metal clip, just pull up and away and it will come off in your hand. Do your best not to drop it. For some reason, these things love to hide in plain sight.

For a screw cap, simply unscrew it by turning it counter-clockwise

Step 3: Remove the Old Bulb

With the wiring out of the way, you should be able to pull the bulb out by holding onto the base.

Step 4:  Put in the New Bulb

Before you take the new bulb out of the packaging, grab a tissue or a clean rag. If the oils on your skin get on the glass bulb, it can burn out prematurely, in some cases the same day. If you must touch the glass, do so with the tissue.

Holding the bulb’s plug end, stick it into the back of the headlight housing. Be sure to visually confirm that it’s all the way in. You can tell because it will be lined up evenly and none of the bulb’s rubber gasket will be showing.

Step 5:  Lightem’ Up!

Plug the wiring back in and re-secure the bulb. Now it is time to test. If your lights are on you have completed your work. You’re finished!

Image Sources: About.com


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10 Auto Maintenance Projects You Can Do Yourself

The holidays are right around the corner and gas is expensive. We all would love ways to cut our auto maintenance costs. When it comes to routine maintenance, we don’t have to take our cars and trucks to our mechanics. Doing routine maintenance on your own is a great way to reduce the amount of money you spend on your car each month. Today we’re going to outline 10 routine maintenance projects you can do yourself.

Air Filter

This only takes 10-20 minutes and the only costs you will have will be the price of the air filter. They usually run around $15.

1. Open your hood and locate the air filter in your car (typically housed within a black case with metal clips on either side).

2. Open the case and to see how much wear and tear your air filter has endured. If you keep a record of your maintenance you will know how many miles your air filter has on it. You should change it every 15,000 miles.

3. Remove the old filter while making sure nothing falls into the bottom of the filter box.

4. Put the new filter in, close the case, and secure with the nuts.

change_air_filter

Oil/Oil Filter

First and foremost, do not change your oil when it is hot! If you change it while it is hot, you may get burned. It takes about 45 minutes to change your own oil and will cost around $20 (the price of oil and a new filter). Here’s how to change your oil and oil filter:

1. Make sure your car is on level ground so you can safely jack up your car.

2. Locate the oil pan under your car and unscrew the drain plug to drain the old oil. Be sure you drain the oil into a recycling container so you can recycle the old oil at your nearest full service gas station, then replace the drain plug.

3. Locate your oil filter and use an oil filter wrench to remove the filter. Be careful as old oil will still be on the filter. Make sure the rubber gasket on the old filter comes off with the filter.

4. Lubricate the rubber gasket on the new filter, then fill the new oil filter about 2/3 with new oil.

5. Screw the new filter into place as tightly as you can without stripping the threads.

6. Pop your hood, remove the oil cap, and fill your engine with new oil using a filter. Use a dipstick to make sure you’ve added enough oil.

7. Put the oil cap back on and you are done!

how_to_change_oil_filter_2

Windshield Wipers

Replacing your windshield wipers is another simple maintenance task you can do on your own in about 10 minutes. It only costs about $15 (the price of new wipers). Here’s how to do it:

1. Pull the wiper away from the windshield and press the small tab on the underside of the wiper to slide the wiper off the wiper arm.

2. Line up the new wiper with the wiper arm and lower it onto the arm, making sure the open end of the hook on the arm is facing the plastic clip on the wiper. Pull it tight so the assembly clicks into place.

3. Lower the wiper arm back onto the windshield. Repeat with the other wiper, and you are done!

Replacing-Windshield-Blade

Battery Connection

Checking your battery connection to make sure you battery is being properly maintained takes about 20 minutes to do and will cost around $5 (the price of a wire brush). Here is how to do it:

1. Remove the battery cables from your battery, starting with the negative cables first.

2. Clean the posts using a wire brush and corrosion removal fluid, which is basically a mixture of baking soda and water. Save even more money by making this solution on your own.

3. Clean the battery terminals with a wire brush.

4. Rinse the cleaning fluid with water and dry with a rag.

5. Re-install your battery terminals starting with the positive ones first.

battery

Headlights

Replacing your headlights is fairly simple and should only take you ten minutes. The only cost with this maintenance task is the cost of the new headlight, which can run anywhere from $20-$100 depending on what kind of bulb you need. Here is how to change your headlights:

1. Pop your hood and look for the bulb holder. Typically it is a plug shaped like a trapezoid with three wires coming out of it.

2. Remove the wire harnessing from the bulb holder. If the holder has a plastic catch, simply press the lever on the top of the plug and pull firmly on the plug. If the holder has a metal clip, just pull up and away from the holder. If the holder has a screw cap, simply unscrew it.

3. Pull the old bulb out of the holder.

4. Using a clean rag, wipe down the new bulb, hold it by the plug end, and stick it into the back of the headlight. Look to make sure it’s all the way in by confirming that there is no rubber gasket showing.

5. Plug the wiring back in and re-secure the bulb. Test to make sure it works and you are done!

halogen2

Brake Pads

Installing new break pads can be a little more complicated and may take up to an hour to complete. Depending on the type of car you have, you will pay at least $40 to do this task on your own (the price of new break pads). Here is how it’s done:

1. Brake the lugs on your tires, then use a jack to lift your car.

2. Remove the wheel from your car.

3. Remove the bolts that are attached to the break caliper so you can slide the break pads out through the top. Don’t let the caliper hang loosely; secure it using a bungee cord.

4. Slide the old break pads out and put the new ones in.

5. Using a c-clamp, compress the brake piston to the point where it is easy to put the caliper assembly back over the new brake pads.

6. Replace the bolts once you put the caliper back on. Press your brake pedal a few times to make sure you have good brake pressure.

7. Put your wheel back on and tighten the lug bolts.

brake_pads_rotor

Fuel Filter

Changing your fuel filter is fairly straightforward and takes about a half an hour. It costs around $20 to do on your own (the price of a new fuel filter and washers). Here’s how to do it:

1. First and foremost, relieve the fuel system pressure by locating the fuel pump fuse on the fuse box. Start your car, leave your engine running, and pull the fuse or relay out. You will know you have done this right if your engine dies.

2. After relieving the fuel pressure, you can use two wrenches to disconnect the fuel lines from the fuel filter. Be sure to use a rag to cover the lines after you get the wrenches in place just in case there is still some pressure in the lines. Hold the wrench that is on the filter while turning the other wrench until the bolt comes out.

3. Slide the fuel line off the bolt and repeat on the other side.

4. Remove the old filter. You may need a flathead screwdriver to do this. Be careful as gas may still be in the old filter.

5. On the bolts you removed in steps 3 and 4, there will be washers. Remove the old washers and replace with new ones. 6. Install the new filter by doing the opposite of what you did to remove the old one. Put the fuel pump or relay back on before you try starting your car.

fuel-filter

Spark Plugs

Changing your spark plugs can take anywhere from 20-30 minutes depending on how many plugs you have. It costs around $15 to do this yourself (the price of new spark plugs). Here is how to do it:

1. Locate the spark plugs by following the thick, rubbery wires under the hood of your car. Depending on the number of cylinders in your engine, you will find four, six, or eight spark plugs.

2. Start at the end of the row of spark plugs, pull the wires off the plugs by grasping the wire as close to the engine as you can then pulling or wiggling it a bit. Only pull off one wire at a time.

3. After you get the first wire off, attach a spark plug socket and extension to a ratchet. Set your ratchet to loosen, slide it over the plug as far as it will go, then remove the old plug.

4. Install the new plug by screwing it in by hand then tightening with a wrench.

5. Reattach the spark wire plug. Then repeat with each spark plug, one at a time.

spark-plugs

Radiator Flush

Be sure you give your engine time to cool before you take on this task, otherwise you may burn yourself! It takes about 30 minutes to perform a radiator flush on your own and costs about $25 (the price of radiator flush solution, a coolant receptacle, and coolant).

1. Locate the radiator drain plug on your car. Place a coolant receptacle under the drain, then unscrew the plug and let it drain into the receptacle.

2. Replace the drain plug and remove the radiator cap. Using a funnel, add radiator flush cleaning solution to your radiator and fill the rest of the radiator up with water.

3. Replace and tighten the cap. Start your car, turn on your heater to the hottest position, then let it run for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off your car and wait for the engine to cool down.

4. After your engine cools down, unscrew the drain plug and empty out the contents of the radiator into your coolant receptacle.

5. Replace the drain plug. Then, using a funnel, fill your radiator with 50 percent coolant and 50 percent water. Tighten all your caps and you are done!

DrainPlug

Fuses

If you happen to be driving and suddenly your headlights go out, chances are you blew a fuse. Luckily, this is an easy fix that should only take five minutes and cost you nothing if your car came with spare fuses. Here is how to do it:

1. Locate your fuse box under your dashboard on the driver’s side.

2. Pull out the box and locate the fuse that looks melted. Most fuse boxes have a diagram, so if your headlights go out you can easily look at the diagram to make sure you are replacing the fuse that goes with the headlights. Replace the blown fuse with a fuse of the same color.

3. If there are no blown fuses in the fuse box under the dashboard, locate the fuse box under your hood. Find the fuse that looks melted and replace it with a fuse of the same color.

fuse333

Images from 2CarPros.com

How to Replace Brake Rotors

Today, I wanted to share with you a common maintenance task that we all can do at home. How to replace your brake rotors. Rather then reinventing the wheel, our friends at WikiHow have a great article which we have shared with you below.

Steps

  1. Wear protective gloves before working on any part of the vehicle.

     

  2. Place the car on a lift, or use a jack to raise it.
  3. Remove the wheels from the car so that you can work with the brakes.
  4. Use a screwdriver to loosen the calipers and then remove them.
  5. Slide off the brake pads and remove them.
  6. Locate the 2 caliper mounting bracket bolts, and use a wrench to dislodge the bolts and remove them, by turning the wrench counter-clockwise.
  7. Take off the caliper mounting brackets.
  8. Take away the brake rotors, or use a hammer to tap them loose if they are stuck, then remove them.
  9. Take off the caliper slide pins.
  10. Use a silicon-based lubricant made especially for brake parts to lubricate the slide pins. Lubricating the slide pins will allow them to shift easily.
  11. Put some lubricant on the sliding plates for the brake pads, which will help them to move easily and decrease noise.
  12. Use brake cleaner to spray the new rotors in order to get rid of any excess grime, as well as the protective coating on the rotor to prevent rust.
  13. Use a rag to wipe the brake cleaner from the rotor.
  14. Place the replacement rotor through the wheel studs.
  15. Replace the 2 caliper mounting bracket bolts that you took off previously.
  16. Lubricate the backs of the replacement brake pads to decrease noise that is caused when the brake pads vibrate.
  17. Place the replacement brake pads into the caliper mounting bracket, and wipe away any excess lubricant from the rotors.
  18. Use a C-clamp or caliper compressor to compress all of the caliper pistons.

  19. Replace the caliper by placing it over the brake pads, line up the holes and replace the bolts you removed previously.

  20. Install the wheels back on the car, and then lower the car.

  21. Pump the brakes with your foot a few times before driving the car. Push down on the brake pedal and then let it rise slowly.