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Articles filed under Autos

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  • Arlington Toyota/Scion takes a different approach Aug 4, 2014 9:46 AM
    As president of Arlington Automotive Group Inc., Gary Vicari is responsible for the 15-acre campus that is home to Arlington Toyota/Scion in Palatine. Vicari attributes his way of running the company to the long route he took getting to this point. He wants to reach out to the community through ancillary services, all with an eye toward having customers come in and check out the vehicles for themselves.

  • What is the deal with fuzzy dice? Aug 4, 2014 5:01 PM
    A walk around any suburban cruise night or local car show will reveal a common auto accessory: fuzzy dice. These fun, retro throwbacks have been swinging from rearview mirrors for decades.

  • 'Tame' pony still pleasing to original owner Aug 4, 2014 10:25 AM
    By his own admittance, Lou Vassos of Mount Prospect is a “practical guy.” He sees no reason to upgrade his beige Ford Mustang. After all, it drives just as well as the day he bought it in 1967.

  • Car owner frustrated with string of alternators Aug 3, 2014 12:01 AM
    Q. I have a 1992 Toyota Corolla with 105,000 miles on it. The concern I have is that I have replaced the alternator three times with an aftermarket alternator in the last 5 years.

  • Harley recalls bikes for ignition switch problem Aug 1, 2014 9:52 AM
    Ignition switch problems that have plagued General Motors and Chrysler have now turned up in the motorcycle business. Harley-Davidson is recalling more than 3,300 FXDL Dyna Low Rider bikes because engine vibration can turn the switches from “on” to “accessory.” The recall covers motorcycles from the 2014 ½ model year. If the motorcycles have been modified to rev higher than 5,600 RPMs, an engine mount bracket can vibrate excessively, causing the problem.

  • Hyundai recalls more than 419K vehicles Aug 1, 2014 10:16 AM
    Hyundai is recalling more than 419,000 cars and SUVs to fix suspension, brake and oil leak problems. The biggest of three recalls posted Friday by U.S. safety regulators is of 225,000 Santa Fe SUVs from 2001-2006 to replace front coil springs that can rust and crack in cold-weather states. The springs can fracture and make contact with a tire, potentially causing a crash. The recall covers Santa Fes originally sold in 20 states and Washington, D.C., where salt is used to clear snow and ice from roadways. States affected are Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Hyundai said in documents posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that dealers will replace the springs for free. Owners will be notified by the end of September. The company received 1,200 warranty claims for the problem, including 90 in which the springs came in contact with a tire. No crashes or injuries were reported. The Korean automaker also is recalling 133,075 Sonata midsize cars from 2011 because brake fluid can leak and cause increased stopping distances. The leaks are caused by an inadequate seal between brake hoses and calipers. Dealers will replace the hoses free of charge starting by the end of September. No crashes or injuries have been reported. And Hyundai recalling 61,122 Veracruz SUVs from 2007 through 2012 because oil can leak from a valve cover gasket onto the alternator, causing it to fail. That could cause the engine to stall, and the driver wouldn’t be able to restart it. No crashes or injuries were reported. Dealers will inspect and replace or repair the alternator and front valve cover gasket starting by the end of September, at no cost to owners. So far this year automakers have recalled more than 40 million vehicles in the U.S., passing the old full-year record of 30.8 million set in 2004. General Motors leads all companies with recalls of nearly 30 million vehicles. The company’s recall crisis was touched off by the bungled recall of 2.6 million small cars for faulty ignition switches. GM has admitted knowing about the problem for more than a decade, yet it didn’t start any recalls until this year. The company blames the defective switches for at least 13 deaths.

  • Fiat shareholders vote in favor of Chrysler merger Aug 1, 2014 10:09 AM
    TURIN, Italy — Fiat shareholders have voted in favor of a merger with Chrysler that has been five years in the works and will shift the 115-year-old carmaker’s center of gravity abroad. The shareholder approval Friday paves the way for a U.S. listing of the new company, to be called Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, expected by mid-October. It will be legally based in the Netherlands with its fiscal home in Britain. A caveat to the merger remains. Dissenting shareholders have 15 days to opt out, cashing in their shares at 7.727 euros ($10.35), about 7-percent above current share price. If the request exceeds 500 million euros, CEO Sergio Marchionne says the merger would be off — for now.

  • GM boosted June sales with discounts to dealers Aug 1, 2014 10:09 AM
    As General Motors tackles a safety crisis, a look its numbers from June show just how intent the company is on keeping new-car sales on the rise during a record spate of safety recalls. The Detroit automaker has recalled nearly 30 million cars and trucks this year, including some models that had barely rolled off the assembly line. Yet sales have been resilient, up 3.5 percent through the first seven months of the year. In mid-June, however, the automaker was headed for a year-over-year monthly sales decline, according to data compiled by automotive research firms. Then, on June 20, GM asked dealers to buy more cars, and it threw in another $1,000 in discounts per vehicle, five dealership representatives told The Associated Press. The company finished the month with a 1 percent gain. The dealers said they were asked to buy the cars for a rental program, one that provides loaner cars for people whose vehicles are being serviced. When they buy the cars for the program, GM counts them as a retail sale. It’s a long-standing practice used by nearly all automakers to boost sales results. At GM, though, the incentive was unusually generous and came as GM executives try to steer the company through the worst safety crisis in its history, including the recall of 2.6 million small cars with defective ignition switches tied to at least 13 deaths. The company has allayed investor fears by saying that recalls have actually helped sales by bringing in customers who see vastly improved new models. “Clearly the timing seems a little suspicious,” said Jesse Toprak, senior analyst for the website who predicted on June 22 that GM sales would be down 7 percent for the month, compared with a 2 percent decline for the rest of the industry. “Retail numbers at that point did not show any kind of strength.” The industry eked out a 1.2 percent gain for the month. GM didn’t need the added incentives in July. The company on Friday reported a 9.4 percent sales increase for the month. GM spokesman Jim Cain confirmed that offers were made to dealers in June, but wouldn’t give details. He said GM needed to make more models available as loaners for those whose cars are being recalled. As part of its small-car ignition switch recall, GM is offering free loaners to owners. But dealers have run short of cars for the program and have been forced to rely on rental car companies, which can loan out cars from competing brands. GM has issued more than 83,000 loaner cars since the recalls started in February. But CEO Mary Barra said last week that it had fixed about 550,000 of the small cars, so the need for loaners was waning. The automaker won’t say how many vehicles were purchased by dealers in June. After about two months, the loaners are resold as used cars because of the miles on them, but buyers get low-interest financing and other incentives offered to new-car buyers, said the dealers, most of whom asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals from the company. “There was a heavy push on an incentive program that increased sales,” one dealer said. “If they don’t have the volume they want, they’ll come out to the dealers.” GM’s U.S. sales rose 2.5 percent in the first half of the year, lagging the overall market’s 4.3 percent gain. Some dealers downplayed the importance of the discounts. Mike Maroone, chief operating officer of AutoNation Inc., the country’s largest dealership chain, said AutoNation bought a small number of discounted vehicles for its loaner fleet. But he didn’t think the sales had a large impact on GM’s numbers. “I don’t think it’s as big a deal as it may sound,” he said. Maroone and other dealers said other automakers also offer similar late-month discounts in order to juice sales and improve monthly numbers. Some make the offers every few months. Some dealers worry that if GM continues to make similar end-of-the-month offers, the influx of used cars into the market will hurt resale values and new-car sales. GM’s Cain said that even without the sales to dealers, GM would have beaten analysts’ sales expectations in June. Before the month ended, many analysts predicted GM sales would fall at least 6 percent. The loaner program, he said, has helped boost GM’s reputation for customer service. “That has been very important during the recalls that we have had, to be able to put customers into new GM vehicles and not have to force people into a Ford Focus,” Cain said. Industry are expected to improve in July. expects an 11.1 percent jump in total U.S. auto sales. When all the numbers are in late Friday, it may wind up being the industry’s best July in eight years, Edmunds predicted. GM’s stock price has dropped nearly 16 percent since the start of the year. It had been trading around $37 recently, but began falling last week as GM announced that recall costs had dramatically cut into earnings. The shares closed Thursday at $33.82.

  • Chrysler US sales climb 20 percent in July Aug 1, 2014 10:09 AM
    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Chrysler says its U.S. sales rose 20 percent in July from a year ago, its best performance for the month in nine years. The automaker said Friday that it sold 167,667 vehicles in the U.S. during the month compared with 140,102 in the prior-year period. Jeep sales surged 41 percent. That’s the best July performance for the brand ever. The Fiat, Dodge and Chrysler brands also posted sales increases for the month. The Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Compass, Dodge Dart, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Journey and Ram Cargo Van each recorded their best July sales ever. And the Fiat 500L set a new all-time monthly sales record in July. Chrysler Group LLC, now part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, said Ram pickup truck sales climbed 14 percent — its best July results since 2005. This is Chrysler’s 52nd straight month of year-over-year sales gains. The overall automobile market’s U.S. sales have climbed 4.3 percent in the first half of the year. In June the industry had a 1.2 percent gain. Last month Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler Group announced it was recalling older-model Jeep SUVs to fix a problem with ignition switches. It has now recalled more than 1.7 million vehicles for ignition-switch problems. General Motors has come under fire for bungling its own ignition-switch recall. Sales at GM and the rest of the industry are expected to improve in July. expects an 11.1 percent increase in total sales, with GM up 10.6 percent. When all the numbers are in late Friday, it may wind up being the industry’s best July in eight years, Edmunds predicted.

  • Five generations gather to share mutual admiration Jul 28, 2014 6:00 AM
    Revamped Chevrolet Camaros are hitting the streets, packing monster horsepower and insane track prowess. A growing following that adores the car’s heritage was evident at the third annual All Camaro Car Show, hosted by the Illinois Camaro Club at the Volo Auto Museum.

  • Mice can do significant damage to autos Jul 27, 2014 12:01 AM
    We have seen several cars brought into the shop this year with rodent damage. I don’t know if this is because of the extremely long and cold winter we experienced here in the Chicago area but, whatever the reason, we have seen more of this damage recently than in years past.

  • Nissan expands recall prompted by faulty air bag Jul 26, 2014 10:09 PM
    Nissan is recalling more than 226,000 additional vehicles over a defective air bag that has affected much of the global auto industry. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Saturday that Nissan North America Inc. is recalling certain lines of its Infiniti, Maxima, Pathfinder and Sentra cars for the model years 2002 to 2004.

  • Government to evaluate Chevy Impala air bag performance Jul 25, 2014 3:06 PM
    The U.S. government’s highway safety agency has decided to seek further information from General Motors about air bag failures in some Chevrolet Impala full-size cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began an inquiry into the issue after receiving a petition from Donald Friedman of Xprts LLC, a Santa Barbara, California, company that examines crashes. Friedman examined an April 2011 car crash in Hidalgo County, Texas, that severely injured an elderly man named Roberto Martinez. His wife, Aurora, was driving their 2008 Impala when it was hit on the passenger side by an SUV and forced into a concrete highway divider. The passenger air bags didn’t deploy, and Roberto suffered permanent brain injuries, according to a lawsuit filed by the couple against GM. He died about 10 months later. Friedman alleges that because Roberto Martinez was bounced around during the incident, the weight sensor in the passenger seat misread his weight and didn’t fire the air bag. The air bag is supposed to inflate for anyone other than a child or small adult. Friedman says the cars should be recalled and the computers reprogrammed. The petition says GM used the same system in other models from 2004 through 2010. The inquiry, which is not a formal investigation, covers about 320,000 Impalas from the 2007-2009 model years. GM may be getting greater scrutiny from NHTSA after the company admitted knowing about a deadly ignition switch problem in some of its older small cars for more than a decade, yet it didn’t recall them until this year. Eventually the company recalled 2.6 million cars for that problem, and the agency fined GM the maximum $35 million for failing to disclose information in the case. The Martinez case was settled out of court about two years ago, said the couple’s attorney, Manuel Guerra. He would not disclose the sum. Friedman said in an interview Friday that even though the lawsuit was settled, he filed the petition so the government would address the problem. “It seemed to me that it was an important thing to get in front of NHTSA and have the other vehicles that could have had the same defect taken care of,” he said. Although NHTSA’s inquiry so far hasn’t found any defects, the agency will seek more data from GM “in an abundance of caution,” NHTSA said in documents posted Friday on its website. GM spokesman Alan Adler says the company will cooperate. He said GM did its own review and decided not to take any action, although he would not comment on the reasons for that decision.

  • NHTSA to investigate Hyundai Sonata air bag problem Jul 25, 2014 8:22 PM
    U.S. safety regulators are investigating whether an electrical problem can knock out the air bags on some older Hyundai Sonatas. The probe announced Friday covers about 394,000 midsize cars from the 2006 through 2008 model years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has received 83 complaints about the problem. The agency says a sensor inside the seat belt buckle might fail. This can cause the air bags to malfunction or not inflate if there’s a crash. The problem also can affect the mechanism that tightens the seat belts before a crash. The problem can happen in either the driver or passenger buckles. In most cases the air bag warning light came on. Investigations can lead to recalls but none has been issued so far in this case. Hyundai will cooperate with the NHTSA in its investigation, company spokesman Jim Trainor said in an email.

  • Feds probe Dodge Charger alternator complaints Jul 25, 2014 3:10 PM
    The U.S. government’s road safety agency is investigating complaints about engine stalling and alternator failures in Dodge Charger sedans. The probe covers about 123,000 Chargers from the 2011 and 2012 model years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has 14 complaints of alternator failure and stalling. All the cases happened while the cars were going 40 or more miles per hour. In one case a car stopped in traffic with smoke coming from the alternator, which generates electricity to recharge the battery and run other devices. No injuries have been reported to the agency. Chrysler says it’s cooperating in the probe. Investigations can lead to recalls but there haven’t been any so far.

  • Tesla Model S Considered as U.K. government eyes greener fleet Jul 20, 2014 7:34 AM
    Tesla Motors Inc., a month after starting Model S deliveries in the U.K., said its flagship electric sedan is among the cars being considered for purchase by the government there to transport officials.

  • Daimler launches new version of tiny Smart car Jul 20, 2014 7:33 AM
    Germany’s Daimler AG unveiled a new version of its tiny, two-seat Smart model in hopes the car won’t just get admiring glances with its unusual design — but make a bigger contribution to profits as well. The new version is the same length as its predecessor at 8 feet 10 inches but has a short front hood where the old model had none, the front end sloping directly down from the windshield.

  • 1965 Lincoln Continental symbolizes “family” to loving grandson Jul 18, 2014 2:44 PM
    Shared stories were king once again at the Randhurst Village Cruise Night, the second of three summer car shows in Mount Prospect. Louis Modesti of Glenview and his 1965 Lincoln Continental took home the show's top honor.

  • 2005 Ford Mustang Saleen transforms into Barricade Jul 14, 2014 5:45 AM
    Michael Stragand of Plainfield is no stranger to Mustangs. He’s owned nearly a dozen versions of Ford’s darling sports coupe. In fact, he drove out to Virginia when he learned that a 2005 Saleen version from the movie "Transformers" was available. “I caught wind of it being for sale in 2013,” Stragand said. “On a whim, I decided to go for it.”

  • Daily Herald column wins auto media award Jul 11, 2014 2:42 PM
    Matt Avery, writer of the Daily Herald's weekly Classic Recollections feature on collector cars and their suburban owners, was named a silver medalist in the 2013 International Automotive Media Awards.

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