A couple of blown injected hot rods start their engines at the Rocket open day last year.
There is no definitive guide for all auto repairs. You must work on gaining knowledge that will help you protect your investment. The sheer importance of your car makes you nervous when thinking about repairs. However, these tips can help you have a smoother experience.
Be prepared for any emergency by equipping your car with a well stocked emergency kit. Your kit should include jumper cables, tire changing tools and maybe some extra gas. Should your car break down in the dark, it is helpful to have extra batteries, a flashlight, and some blankets.
Before allowing an auto shop to do repairs to your vehicle, ensure you are aware of the total cost. If something is not clear, clarify it with the service adviser or mechanic before starting any repair on the car. If you do not communicate with your mechanic, you might be surprised with additional fees once you receive your bill.
It is not always necessary to call a repairman when you have car trouble. Many things can be easily fixed. If you are game, then check online to research the problem. If the repair isn’t too difficult, you might be able to save money by doing it yourself.
When choosing a mechanic, ask if they’ve worked on your model of car before. If so, they will probably know what must be done to help your car work again.
Beware mechanics who charge you for repairs which are unnecessary. A good mechanic should let you know if they noticed parts that are starting to get worn down and will need to be replaced soon but they should not replace the part without your approval. Do not take your care twice to a mechanic who performed some unnecessary repairs.
Try figuring out the issue prior to going to get repairs. This will save you a ton of money, and it can prevent you from becoming a fraud victim. If you bring your car to a shop, you are sure to pay a hefty fee.
You need a spare tire and jack with you all the time. A majority of cars come equipped with them. Being stuck without a spare tire and jack means you will have to get your car towed. It will be quicker and less costly when you do it yourself.
When your headlights or taillights burn out, you can save a lot of money on repairs if you do it yourself. It is easier on some vehicles than others, however no matter what type of vehicle you have it will be cheaper than hiring a mechanic for the job. See if anyone you know can give you a lesson.
Your next car repair experience should be much better after reading these tips. Nobody likes auto repairs; however, the information provided should make the entire process a whole lot easier. Put this advice to get your auto repairs done today.
Your car is something that costs you quite a bit of money and time if you don’t know what it takes to care for it. On top of getting familiar with your specific model, you also need to learn other tricks. Keep reading to learn more about auto repairs and save money over the years.
Always have a good battery charger in your car. A dead battery is more common than you think and you will be able to help other broken down drivers if you have a battery charger with you. Make sure you learn the points on your car where the battery charger should be connected.
Make sure you know what is in your auto manual, and mark certain pages for reference. When you need to go to an auto repair shop, the professionals you are dealing with will want to know certain information regarding your car. After reading the manual, you might just find that you have an easy fix on your hands.
Avoid mechanics who charge you for repairs that are not really needed. A good mechanic should let you know if they noticed parts that are starting to get worn down and will need to be replaced soon but they should not replace the part without your approval. Don’t return to mechanics that do unnecessary repairs.
Before you actually take your car to a mechanic, try to assess what the problem is first. If you know what the problem is, you can save money and also easily identify any repair shop that is trying to scam you. If you bring your car to a shop, you are sure to pay a hefty fee.
If you’re having major service performed by an auto repair shop, always get more than one estimate for the job being done. Although most auto shops are reliable, you don’t want to pay too much. Find shops that specialize in the job that your car needs. These shops are more likely to understand how to perform the repairs your car needs.
Remove fluffy, fun key chains or have it so that your car key can be removed from the bunch. The ignition can’t support too much weight. If you notice the key sticking, then you must get rid of all the extra stuff attached to your keys.
As mentioned earlier, learning some basic repairs for your car has many long-term benefits. In addition to being able to help others and yourself, you will save tons of money. When performing do-it-yourself auto repairs, make use of these tips.
Your car is an expensive investment and taking care of it will save you money over the long haul. Besides learning about your specific car model, you should know a few other tricks as well. Continue reading if you want to save time and money.
Regularly check your radiator’s performance. Run your car for a bit, turn off the engine and then open the hood. Don’t open your radiator cap if your car is on. Check the level of fluid in radiator and add any if necessary. Be mindful that some coolants are meant to be mixed with 50% water.
You should wash your car often to avoid rust. Your car will rust out but you can easily delay this process by washing off salt and chemicals. Wax the paint job to protect it.
Keep your car records on hand. You may want to store them in the glove compartment for easy access. Repair professionals may want to see these records for repair purposes. The records can help them determine what is wrong with your car.
Look up reviews online for body shops in your area. These reviews will inform you of the company’s quality, customer service satisfaction rates, etc. Use this information to choose a good shop.
Check with your mechanic to see of they have experience working with the make of your vehicle. Basic components are usually the same, but there are big differences in different types of cars. If you’re unsure about your chosen mechanic’s ability, consider having a dealer repair your vehicle.
Know what all the lights stand for on your dashboard and be aware of when they go off. Paying attention to these warnings is always in your best interest. Problems will worsen if you simply ignore them.
A dealer is not your only option when car repairs are necessary. Good mechanics can be found elsewhere, not only at the dealer’s shop. If you’re comfortable with a local mechanic, don’t be afraid to use one.
Before you take your car in to the shop, learn about the standard classifications for auto parts. Know the difference between rebuilt and reconditioned, new, and salvage parts. New parts are made solely to a manufacturer’s specifications. Used parts that have been made good as new are classified as reconditioned. They may also carry a tag as “rebuilt,” or even “re-manufactured.” Salvage parts are parts that are used and have never been altered.
Don’t ignore minor issues you car is having, hoping they will go away on their own. Have it looked at. A seemingly small problem may grow into a major one if don’t pay attention to it.
You don’t want to diagnose complex auto issues on your own. Keep in mind that you’re not a professional. What you may think is an easy fix may be a hard one, especially if your car is newer. Let the auto repair shop diagnose the problem. Give your mechanic plenty of details on the issues you are encountering but do not diagnose the issue yourself.
As evidenced by the article above, learning as much as you can about repairing vehicles can give you life-long benefits. Besides being able to teach others and rely on yourself when you have car trouble, you can save lots of money. Remember the tricks in this article, and you should be able to do your own repairs.
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Learning about auto repair may seem overwhelming, however it is much easier than you think. If you educate yourself on the topic, it will be beneficial in the long run. Keep reading to see some excellent tips that you can do in regard to auto repair, so you don’t have to spend endless hours at the mechanic’s shop.
Prior to letting a mechanic touch your vehicle, ensure that they are A.S.E certified. This indicates passage of written testing and experience of no less than two years. This is a good way of finding a qualified mechanic who will care about doing a good job so they can keep their certification.
When you are at the auto shop, ask a lot of questions concerning your car. Make sure to consider previous problems you’ve had, and ask how to prevent them. You can prevent issues with your automobile, saving you some money.
You don’t always need a mechanic when you have trouble with your car. You can do a number of things on your own if you know how to. Try troubleshooting the issue on the Internet or talk to your friends to see if they have an idea of what could be wrong with your vehicle. If it is a simple fix, you can usually do it yourself.
Regular washing of your car will help prevent it from rusting. All cars eventually succumb to rust, however you can delay this process by washing all salt and chemicals from your car immediately. Make sure to wax your car so as to protect the paint.
Know your auto manual very well, or at least dog ear important pages. When you’re trying to get something repaired on your vehicle, you’ll be able to get more assistance if they’re able to read information quickly about your car. After reading the manual, you might just find that you have an easy fix on your hands.
Have records for your car on hand. Keeping them in the glove compartment is smart. Repair professionals may want to see these records for repair purposes. They help them figure out what’s wrong quickly.
Car trouble is not something that has to take you a lot of time or that has to be scary if you’re able to fix things yourself. By knowing how to fix small repairs and which mechanic to select for the larger repairs, you can save yourself a lot of time and money. Use the tips you’ve just read whenever your car needs some repairs.
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Your car is something that costs you quite a bit of money and time if you don’t know what it takes to care for it. In addition to knowing some basic facts about your car, there are other things that can help you out. This article will teach you about the more general tips you need to know.
Make sure you often check the radiator. Keep your car running then shut the engine for several minutes before opening the hood. Never open the radiator cap if the engine is running. Use a dipstick to check the fluid level in your radiator and mix some coolant with water if you need to add more fluid.
Wash your car often so you can prevent rust. All cars will eventually rust out, but you can delay the process considerably by making sure any salt or chemicals are washed off as soon as possible. Use a good wax to protect your paint job as much as possible.
Keep your car records on hand. It’s wise to keep them in your glove compartment in case you need to go to a auto repair shop on the fly. Professional mechanics are going to ask for those records. This will help them assess the problem quicker and more precisely.
Ask for OEM parts. These are original parts direct from the manufacturer. Although using generic parts may provide some short-term savings, it’s impossible to know whether or not they’ll hold up as well as OEM parts. It may seem like you are getting a deal now, but it may end up costing you a lot in the future.
See if you can find someone who is knowledgeable about cars to do the work for you. Mechanics who work from home are often able to charge less because they don’t have the overhead that shops do. This is a good way of saving money while investing in your local community.
In conclusion, there are many benefits to becoming educated on auto repairs. In addition to being able to help others and yourself, you can save money. Use these tips and fix problems yourself only if you are comfortable enough.
Anyone who has experienced car trouble know how much of a hassle it can be to get their vehicle fixed. It is tough to find a reputable repair shop, and finding one at the right price is challenging. Fortunately, this article will help you learn how to choose a good auto mechanic.
Always know how much your repairs will cost before handing your car over to a service department. If you do not understand something, have it cleared up with the mechanic before he or she makes the repairs. Don’t end up surprised by extra fees.
When you have problems with your car, you may not need to visit a mechanic. There are a few things that could be fixed very easily. If you would like to try it, you can research on the problem online. Simple repairs that do not require special tools can be done by yourself, and can save you money.
Each time you get your vehicle repaired, no matter what the reason, be sure you have a record of it. If you have problems with your vehicle later on, you will find it helpful to have some records for the next technician to look at. No records means a blank slate to go on.
If possible, test drive your car prior to paying for repairs. A lot of people do not do this; therefore, they wind up with the same issues that existed before taking their car to the shop.
Look for signs that should serve as a warning that your repair man is no good. If they beat around the bush and act shifty, they may not be the one you want to work with. It’s best to feel that you trust your repair person, so don’t hesitate to move on.
Sometimes you can find a good mechanic who works in their home garage. For basic repairs they can charge far less and you both can be happy. The costs will always be much lower.
Find out how much a mechanic charges for the repair, including labor, before you hand over your keys. Some shops have these costs in conspicuous places, so you need to carefully read and ask any questions you have if something doesn’t make sense. You must know what you’re being billed. Some mechanics bill you for estimated labor times established by the manufacturers they work with. Minor repairs can be considered jobs that require a full day of work to some manufacturers.
No matter how onerous car repairs are to deal with, we still have to get them done. The next time your car needs repairs or maintenance, the tips you’ve learned about here will surely come in handy. Doing things right the first time will relieve your stress in the long run.
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Is your vehicle in need of repair? Maybe you do not have any urgent issues, but you know the stress that car trouble can bring. You may be feeling overwhelmed because you’re not sure of what to do. So, what is the right thing to do? Keep reading to understand what you can do when your car needs repairs.
Have a battery charger in your car at all times. People commonly experience dead batteries, making battery chargers good for helping stranded drivers. Make sure you know how to connect the charger to your battery.
It is important that you fully understand what all the charges will be upfront, before handing the mechanic your car keys. If something is not clear, clarify it with the service adviser or mechanic before starting any repair on the car. Don’t end up surprised by extra fees.
Referrals are one of the best ways to find a reputable auto mechanic. Therefore, do not hesitate to ask your family and friends for their recommendations. You can gain information about prices and level of quality. People will let you know how their experience went.
Look for online reviews about your chosen body shop. This will also allow you to know what the public thinks of how they handle customers and how good they are at solving any problem you may encounter. Use this information to choose a shop that you’re comfortable with giving money to.
Be wary of mechanics that try and make unnecessary repairs to your car. Good mechanics will tell you about worn down pieces without replacing them automatically. Never bring your car to someone who doesn’t do the right kinds of repairs.
Examine your headlights if they appear dim; they may simply need a good clean. Residue can diminish their light output. Wash them with glass cleaner and you should be able to see better.
Do you know the signs of a low quality mechanic? If you are being talked to in circles and your questions aren’t answered, then you will want to go elsewhere. Make sure that you trust the person that you are working with.
Replacing the bulbs on your taillights or headlights yourself can save you both time and money. Hiring a professional to install new lights costs a lot of money. Ask someone you know if they can instruct you on how to do it.
Pay attention to the condition of your car’s wiper blades. You need new windshield wipers if they are making noises or leaving streaks. You need to replace the wipers on your car about every year or even more often if there is a lot of rain where you live.
It is important to have your oil changed regularly. If you wish for your automobile to run great for a long time, the oil needs to be changed on a regular basis. Failing to get routine oil changes will shorten you car’s life, so set reminders if necessary.
Repairing your car yourself could be hazardous. Always have a buddy to help you. Invest in high quality tools that won’t break on you. You definitely don’t want to skimp when it comes to the items you use for tire changing. The jack has to be strong enough to keep the car secure above you. This is why it is wise for you to use quality hydraulic floor jacks and jack stands.
Using these tips will guide you towards great car repairs. Keep doing research on this topic and find people who can teach you a few things. When you are up to date, you’ll make the right choices.
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If you’re like a lot of people,, you probably don’t know much about auto repair. To fix this, you will need to learn as much as possible on auto repair, so you can fix your vehicle when a problem arises. The article below has auto repair tips and tricks you need to know.
You should wash your car often to avoid rust. Salt and other harmful chemicals will speed up the rusting process. If you want to avoid rust at all costs, do your best to clean the car thoroughly after contact with these substances. A good wax is your best friend: a friend that will protect that shiny new paint job for a long time.
Read as much of your auto manual as you can, marking anything that is important. During auto repair visits, your mechanic will probably need to gather some information from you, about your vehicle. The manual may give you information to help you easily fix a problem.
Before making your payment to the mechanic when picking up your car, take it out for a spin first to check that everything is working. If you don’t do this, it’s possible that the problem isn’t even fixed.
Remember that getting OEM parts is important. These parts are original and from the manufacturer. Generic are cheaper, but also less reliable. It may cost you more in the end to use generic parts even though you save money now.
Major repairs should always be accompanied by more than just one estimate. Although most auto shops are reliable, you don’t want to pay too much. Find a shop that specializes in your particular make of car. Shops like this may understand your car’s needs better.
You shouldn’t forget about your wiper blades. If you don’t have wipers that work well or streak your windows, you need to purchase newer ones. Wiper blades should at least be changed yearly, and sometimes you need to do this more often.
Speak with friends and family about where they get their auto repairs done for some good ideas. Personal recommendations are usually honest and forthright. Don’t rely entirely on what your friends tell you, though; do your own research. At least look for online reviews of those recommendations.
You should have more knowledge now with the information from this article. So, whenever an auto problem occurs, you can fix it on your own or find someone to do it for you. You are deserving of a good vehicle.
With the new 4-Series taking the previous 3-Series coupe’s place in the BMW lineup, the M4 is a new name for an all-new version of the previous M3 Coupe.
What makes the new M4 special enough to deserve the vaunted M badge? Many, many things, but foremost among them is a new, potent twin-turbocharged engine.
Stylistically, the new BMW M4 offers the same core proportions and characteristics as the 4-Series, but with the dial turned up to 11. A bump on the hood hints at the extra power underneath, while a much more aggressive and aerodynamically effective set of body work at the nose, sides, and tail give it a track-bred look. Flared fenders wrap around larger wheels and grippier tires, and there’s even a carbon fiber roof option.
Inside, the M4 is a bit closer to its standard 4-Series counterpart, though the M Division touches continue throughout the cabin. M badges, upgraded sport seats, M-specific controls for the electronics, and racier-looking carbon fiber trim add to the high-performance look and feel of the M4’s cockpit.
Under the hood you’ll find a new 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged engine. If that sounds familiar, it’s because BMW used a similar engine in the previous generation of the BMW 3-Series. However, in the new M4, the entire unit has been upgraded and improved, earning a new name (S55) and hugely upgraded power ratings, but also a droning, artificially generated engine noise that really underserves the classic BMW in-line six sound.
The M4 coupe hits 60 mph in 4.1 seconds when it’s coupled to a six-speed, rev-matching manual transmission–a great choice for authentic shift lovers–or 3.9 seconds with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. With a sky-high rev-limit of 7600 rpm, the 2015 M4’s top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. Putting that power to the rear wheels is an electronically controlled Active M limited slip differential, which can vary the percentage of lockup between the rear wheels from 0 to 100 in mere milliseconds.
Maximizing the new powertrain, BMW has lightened up the M4’s chassis as well. With aluminum hood and fenders and carbon-fiber reinforced-plastic bits, the end result is a car that’s about 176 pounds lighter than the previous M3 coupe, at just under 3,300 pounds.
While a conventional suspension (M-tuned, naturally) is standard for the M4, an Adaptive M suspension is available. Offering dynamic adjustment to damper settings for a wider range of comfort and sportiness, the Adaptive M system can range from Comfort to Sport to Sport+ modes. The electric power steering system has the same settings, adjusting the weight and feedback accordingly.
The result is a car that loves quaffing long uphill runs at the horizon with gusto, shaving a hundred miles per hour undramatically off with the carbon-ceramics, settling firmly and predictably into uphill 30-degree bends without a knee bent. It’s tough to call this M a sports car, but few grand tourers come closer to touring-car grip and balance.
It’s not without its faults, though. The M4’s steering works so well on tracks with big, wide, sweepers, it’s hard to reconcile with the lack of communication when it’s drilled through tighter curves. The throttle response and shifting are rapid-fire-quick in Sport+ mode–avoid it on the street. And while fuel economy is better, the M4’s highway figures still pale behind those of a Corvette or a Porsche 911. The M4 has beautifully tailored front bucket seats, but not much rear-seat or trunk space.
Some of the most comprehensive safety features ever are fitted this variant of BMW’s core model–but a rearview camera is unconscionably an option inside a $4,000 package that bundles a head-up display with special M functions, parking sensors, rear heated seats and steering wheel, and satellite radio. A $1,900 package includes blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and active braking, and for weekend track stars, the $8,125 charge for carbon-ceramic brakes might actually seem worthwhile. The dual-clutch transmission is $2,900; the adaptive suspension, $1,000.
The M4 isn’t just a coupe either, by the way. With a retractable hardtop that stows neatly in just 20 seconds—as well as a standard wind blocker—the M4 allows top-down enjoyment with nearly the same driving experience as the M4 Coupe. In the M4 Convertible, you can opt up to three-temperature neck warmers that might just allow you to keep the top down at lower temperatures or higher speeds. Of course, it’s a little slower: 0-60 mph takes 4.4 seconds (4.2 seconds with the dual-clutch transmission).
Trunk space in the M4 Convertible is 13.0 cubic feet; but you can also fold down the rear seat, and there’s both a pass-through for skis and a multi-level storage area. With the top down, trunk space remains a usable 7.8 cubic feet.
Prices for the M4 begin at $65,150. The M4 Convertible carries an MSRP starting at $73,425.
The latest generation of the BMW M3 changes the prior formula considerably, but is still bred from the same stock. With a new turbocharged six-cylinder engine, a new look, and less weight, the new M3 seeks to claw back old ground, as well as blaze a new path forward.
From the outside, the M3 doesn’t veer dramatically from the 3-Series formula. There’s a power bump on the hood that suggests the muscular power underhood, and the nose, sides, and tail get some track-bred cues to go with the flared fenders and low-profile tires. There’s even a carbon-fiber roof option, for the first time on the M3 sedan. Inside, the 3-Series shapes are even more clear, with M badges, upgraded sport seats, M-specific controls for the electronics, and racier-looking carbon fiber trim add to the high-performance look and feel of the cockpit.
So what are the key stats on the industry’s long-time benchmark sport luxury sedan? Power is up from the previous 4.0-liter V-8’s 414 horsepower to a stout 425 horsepower courtesy of a 3.0-liter twin-turbo in-line six-cylinder. Unlike many turbo engines, this one revs to 7,600 rpm, and carries its peak output from 5,500 rpm to 7,300 rpm. Peak torque for the new engine is 406 pound-feet, available from 1,800 rpm to 5,500 rpm. The myriad changes to the in-line six earn it a new name (S55) and of course, those hugely upgraded power ratings, but the S55 also has a droning, artificially generated engine noise that really underserves the classic BMW in-line six sound.
Together with a new electronically controlled limited-slip differential and the M-DCT seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the 2015 BMW M3 hits 60 mph in about 3.9 seconds, according to BMW. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. Should you opt for the six-speed manual transmission, the 0-60 mph time will rise to about 4.1 seconds. Either way, the M3 is a puller of the top rank; it’s really, really tough to catch it napping off-boost, and BMW’s new Active M Differential system helps maximize the impact of the power by electronic oversight. It adjusts its locking percentage between the rear wheels from 0-100 within milliseconds, it is tuned to maximize grip and traction, aiding the car’s ability to rotate in response to the driver’s inputs.
BMW has lightened up the M3’s chassis as well. With aluminum hood and fenders and carbon-fiber reinforced-plastic bits, the end result is a car that’s about 176 pounds lighter than the previous M3, at just under 3,300 pounds. Extensive use of aluminum, including in the front fenders and hood, as well as carbon fiber in the trunk lid, driveshaft, and roof, help save the weight and keep what weight remains lower and more toward the center of the car for further improvements to handling and balance.
The suspension is also largely new for the 2015 M3, with a double-join sprung front axle using lightweight components including aluminum control arms, wheel carriers, and axle subframes for a savings of 11 pounds. At the rear, a five-link setup uses forged aluminum control arms, shaving about 6.6 pounds from the unsprung mass.
An Adaptive M suspension system is also available, adding Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ modes, made possible by variable-rate dampers. The same three mode settings also control the electric power steering in all M3s, raising or lowering the steering force and feedback to suit the mission.
Even the body has been optimized for performance, with advanced aerodynamic work done to ensure both minimal drag and maximal cooling and lower levels of lift–hence the Gurney lip spoiler at the rear, the gills up front, and the sculpted side mirrors. All work together to balance these challenges in airflow management.
The result is a car that loves quaffing long uphill runs at the horizon with gusto, shaving a hundred miles per hour undramatically off with the carbon-ceramics, settling firmly and predictably into uphill 30-degree bends without a knee bent. It’s so close in performance delivery to the related M4 coupe, the two are almost indistinguishable on the track, other than the view outward and the extra padded leather seat. BMW says there’s almost no difference in the cars’ center of gravity and weight distribution.
It’s tough to call this M a sports car, but few grand tourers come closer to touring-car grip and balance. It’s not without its faults, though. The steering works so well on tracks with big, wide, sweepers, it’s hard to reconcile with the lack of communication when it’s drilled through tighter curves. The throttle response and shifting are rapid-fire-quick in Sport+ mode–avoid it on the street. And while fuel economy is better, the M3’s highway figures still pale behind those of even true sports cars like the Corvette or Porsche 911.
Prices for the M3 begin at $62,950. Some of the most comprehensive safety features ever are fitted this variant of BMW’s core model–but a rearview camera is unconscionably an option inside a $4,000 package that bundles a head-up display with special M functions, parking sensors, rear heated seats and steering wheel, and satellite radio. A $1,900 package includes blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and active braking, and for weekend track stars, the $8,125 charge for carbon-ceramic brakes might actually seem worthwhile. The dual-clutch transmission is $2,900; the adaptive suspension, $1,000.
The 2015 Audi A4 doesn’t get much in the way of change this year, as next year an all-new generation of the A4 family is expected. For now, this lineup of sport sedans remains a design trend-setter, and you still can take your pick from its tasteful palette of exterior and interior trims, high-tech features, and various driving flavors from mild to intense.
Just like BMW’s 3-Series, with which it competes, the A4 encompasses a vast swath of compact luxury, ranging from four-cylinder CVTs to the S4’s supercharged six-cylinder and all-wheel drive. But it’s definitely more limited than in the past, going by what’s under the hood. A4 models all now come with the 220-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which responds with zest once it cuts through some initial turbo lag. It’s teamed with one of three transmissions. Front-drive cars get a continuously variable transmission, and good gas mileage, but CVTs aren’t known for quick responses. All-wheel drive is an option.
Those with quattro all-wheel drive can also have either a six-speed manual shifter, or an excellent eight-speed automatic with a sport shift mode, which only lacks paddle-shift controls. On either of these versions, the ones we recommend, acceleration is strong, and fuel economy on the highway is reasonable, with the automatic rated at 31 mpg highway.
The S4 is quattro-only. The powerplant is a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, with 333 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of about 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. It delivers loads of torque almost evenly up the rev band, with a somewhat snarling soundtrack to match an otherwise smooth personality, and it’s hooked up to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters. It’s nearly, but not quite, as fast as a BMW M3 or a Benz C63. And surprisingly, gas mileage is rather good for such a high-performance car—up to 18 mpg city, 28 highway.
Side by side, the A4 shares the lead in styling with the ATS, sleek and rakish and embossed with details back in 2013 for a fresh take on its spare lines. Trimmer headlamps and a toned-down grille are subtle enough, but the grille’s angled corners are an expert touch; wider fog lamps build more muscle at ground level, where the car could use it. The cockpit’s trimmed in aluminum or a warmer-looking wood, and leather is standard. The controls are more easily understood since they were rearranged a bit last year, too.
The S4 wears its own body kit and metallic trim, but it’s largely a lookalike to the standard four-door. The cabin of the S4 gets a new piano-black and steel trim option that coordinates in a hot way with red-stitched sport seats.
No matter which one you choose, Audi’s entry-level sedan has good front seats, excellent sport seats available as an option (they’re standard on the S4) and good room for those passengers. The rear bench sits low to the ground, though, and space is snug in back, particularly in knee room for taller passengers. The trunk’s on the small side compared to the likes of the 3-Series.
The A4 handles well with its basic suspension and steering, with a slightly firm ride and decent electric power steering feel. A sport package stiffens things up considerably, with summer tires, 18-inch wheels, and sport shocks. Buyers can also choose dynamic steering and Drive Select, which adds variable settings for the suspension, steering, throttle and transmission. In our experience, the stock setup is more pleasant and more predictable, even on the S4, which gets a sport suspension and bigger wheels and tires standard, for awesome road-holding and grip.
In the past, the A4 has scored well in safety tests, but the IIHS has taken it down a notch in its newest crash test. Audi still doesn’t make a rearview camera standard, but one is available, as are blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control that can bring the car to a full stop if it senses obstacles at up to 19 mph.
The A4 offers some exotic features make it a complex, high tech piece. The usual power features, leather seats, and satellite radio are standard on the A4; Bluetooth and a music interface are standard for 2015. The S4 gets sport content standard, as well as a rearview camera.
MMI, the Multi Media Interface that takes charge of available navigation systems, is standard on both, and it also controls the beautiful Google Earth and Google Street View mapping. That setup requires a monthly subscription to Audi Connect, which also adds 3G wireless Internet service — turning the A4 into a rolling wireless hotspot. MMI can also control an optional Bang & Olufsen audio system, an expensive option, but one of the cleanest-sounding systems we’ve heard.
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The 2015 Acura TLX is a very interesting car, and not just because it straddles two size classes, offering the space of a mid-size sedan in something closer to the footprint of a compact. In replacing the former Acura TL and TSX, the TLX also brings a host of new technology to bear on the near-premium segment.
The TLX was shown at the 2014 Detroit auto show as a prototype, a lightly veiled version of the sedan due in Acura showrooms this fall. The new car adopts some of the cues found on the larger RLX sedan, with emphatic use of LED headlights and exaggerated fenders that house the 20-inch wheels of the concept car. LED lights also underline the sideview mirrors.
Two distinct models offer divergent faces to the TLX range: a base model, powered by a 206-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine; and a higher-tier 3.5-liter V-6 option, good for 290 horsepower. Direct injection and variable valve timing help both engines make the most of their displacements. The four-cylinder is coupled to a new eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission with torque converter that smooths out all of the jerky tendencies of a typical dual-clutch, while simultaneously delivering fast, crisp shifts whether driving with spirit or cruising with ease. The V-6 engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission, operated by a pushbutton interface in the center console. While the extra gears in the nine-speed sound impressive, in our time with the car we found it to be a hesitant, pokey gearbox often late to the party when quick acceleration was called for, such as when merging with fast traffic.
What then, is the advantage of the V-6 and nine-speed combo over the four-cylinder with the eight-speed dual-clutch? Available all-wheel drive.
Both the four-cylinder and V-6, when equipped with front-wheel drive, get the ability to steer the rear wheels slightly via actuators, a setup like that on the luxury RLX four-door, a system Acura calls Precision All-Wheel Steer, or P-AWS. With Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), the TLX has torque-vectoring control to assist with cornering. The TLX is be fitted with a four-mode driver-selectable system that alters steering weight, throttle response, and shift mapping to give it a more comfort- or sport-oriented feel.
In our experience driving the TLX, the front-drive four-cylinder is by far the most rewarding driver’s car in the lineup, with an immaculately balanced chassis and very settled, predictable handling. The V-6 feels heavy and a bit more sluggish when cornering, a feeling exacerbated by the sluggish powertrain.
While it also replaces the Euro-Accord TSX, the new TLX is sized more like the outgoing TL. It rides on an identical wheelbase of 109.3 inches, but is shorter overall, at 190.2 inches (down nearly four). Interior space has stayed in the same range as that in the TL, good for five passengers. The cabin is also much more quiet, leveraging active noise cancellation for nearly silent driving up to 70 mph.
The 2015 TLX hasn’t yet been crash tested by the NHTSA, but the IIHS rates the TLX a Top Safety Pick+, with top marks in all but the small-overlap frontal impact test. The TLX offers plenty of safety equipment including lane keeping systems, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitors.
The EPA rates the four-cylinder TLX at 24 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 28 mpg combined. The V-6 front-drive TLX scores 21/34/25 mpg, and the V-6 all-wheel-drive TLX rates 21/31/25 mpg.
- Clears up brand confusion
- Loads of high-tech options
- Brilliant new eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox
- Available all-wheel drive
- RIP TSX Wagon
- No manual-transmission option
- Interior materials don’t feel as premium as we’d like in high-trim models
With an all-new Z06 supercar version joining the Stingray, there’s a coupe or convertible version of the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette to suit a wide range of performance and styling appetites. Whichever flavor you choose, you’ll find the Corvette range to offer some of the very best bang for the buck in the industry.
Styling takes the Corvette in new directions, even if around familiar themes, both inside and out. Sharp lines, crisp angles, and vents aplenty give a definite supercar air to the design that matches the car’s performance. It’s wide, low, and looks fast even at a dead stop. Inside, the Stingray’s design is much improved over the previous generation of the Corvette, and while nothing changes in the standard model for the 2015 model year, it retains its refreshing and surprisingly luxurious look. The Z06 adds to the Stingray’s exterior and interior design with wider fenders, an array of aerodynamic add-ons, and a performance-themed cabin treatment.
Under the hood of the Chevy Corvette Stingray is the same 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 engine introduced last year, still generating the same 455 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. A 7-speed manual transmission is also available, offering an enhanced version of its automatic rev-matching downshift feature for 2015. The new addition to the powertrain is an all-new, in-house designed and built 8-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The Z06, on the other hand, gets a supercharged LT4 V-8 that’s rated at 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque.
The new transmission is the highlight of the technical updates to the 2015 Corvette Stingray, and it aims for the strongest competition on the non-manual market: Porsche’s PDK. Chevrolet claims the new 8-speed executes shifts a full 80 milliseconds quicker than the German dual-clutch unit, measured from the time the driver requests the shift to the time it’s actually executed. That’s a small fraction of a second, but it can make a big difference when driving a very fast car at the limit. Both the Stingray and the Z06 will be available with a choice of 7-speed manual or the new 8-speed automatic.
And the 2015 Stingray is a very fast car, indeed. That 455-horsepower V-8 engine offers plenty of push to accelerate the car, hitting 0-60 mph in just 3.8 seconds—or even faster at 3.7 seconds with the new 8-speed automatic. Quarter mile times are a mere 11.9 seconds with the automatic, or 12.0 with the seven-speed manual. Whether tackling the straights or the curves, the Stingray offers ample performance, with surprising grip, nimble reflexes, and a great deal of communication through the seat, pedals, and steering wheel, all of which inspires driver confidence. A Z51 package is available to further enhance the Stingray’s performance. In Z06 trim, the manual version of the car can click of 3.2-second 0-60 mph runs, while the automatic is even quicker, clocking in at 2.95 seconds.
Balanced and easy to control even near the limit even with the Performance Traction Management system engaged in Track mode (and Race sub-mode), the Stingray can be a bit harder to control with all of the aids off, though it still exhibits remarkable traction and balance. In fact, the Corvette Stingray can realistically run with sports cars costing twice its price.
The interior of the 2015 Corvette Stingray carries forward the substantial upgrades from the C6 launched last year. Improved materials, more modern design, and significant upgrades to technology such as the Drive Mode Selector and latest-generation Chevy MyLink infotainment help bring the Corvette on par with European and Japanese offerings in the highly competitive, but relatively low-volume super sports car segment.
All Corvette trims get a fully-wrapped interior, where every surface is covered with premium, soft-touch materials. Available materials, depending on the trim level, include Napa leather, aluminum, carbon fiber and micro-suede. Customers also have two seating choices: a regular GT seat and a Competition Sport seat with more aggressive side bolstering for greater support on the track.
Even during longer driving sessions, the Corvette’s new GT seats are comfortable and supportive, despite the low-slung nature of the cabin. Leg and head room are good even for those over six feet tall, and, as with the last Corvette, there’s plenty of room for a weekend’s travel in the rear hatch area.
If you’re accustomed to the idea of ‘cowl shake’ yet the Corvette Stingray Convertible intrigues you, be prepared to be pleasantly surprised. These drop-top models manage to offer exactly the same level of ride-and-handling prowess as their Coupe counterparts. Since the C7 was designed as an open-top roadster initially, you don’t give up any structural integrity. And the automatic soft-top arrangement, which will operate at speeds of up to 30 mph, is tight-fitting and doesn’t block too much visibility when it’s up. The Convertible will also be available in Z06 guise.
The 2015 Corvette Stingray is also more fuel efficient than the previous model, scoring 17 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined with the seven-speed manual transmission; the paddle-shift eight-speed automatic is actually nearly as efficient, rating 16 mpg city and 29 mpg highway according to GM. The new seven-speed manual transmission adds a taller cruising gear for greater highway mileage, and cylinder-deactivation technology also helps both transmissions extract the most from each gallon. Ratings for the new Z06 haven’t been released yet.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the Chevy Corvette in recent years, but a rigid chassis, a full complement of airbags, plus stability and traction control, and the Corvette’s innate grip and handling should make it relatively secure in emergency situations.
Car buyers who consider minicars just too impractical–and impossibly tiny–are in for a shock with the 2015 Chevrolet Spark. The littlest Chevy in many years may be a five-door hatchback that’s precisely 3 feet shorter than a compact Cruze sedan, but it will actually hold four adults. The quarters are close, but there’s ample headroom, and it’s possibly the best value among a wide array of competitors in the basic-transportation category. The Spark’s sticker price may be inexpensive, but its stylish (if stubby) lines are generations away from the old “econobox” stereotype.
Contenders for that title include the Spark, now in its third model year, and the underpowered and underwhelming Mitsubishi Mirage, its most direct competitor. You might include the two-seat Smart ForTwo and three-seat Scion iQ, and there are also the retro but fashion-forward Fiat 500 and MINI Cooper. Those are both three-door hatchbacks that sacrifice any real-world uses of their rear seats (though the MINI is far better in the new 2015 model than previous generations were).
The proportions of the 2015 Spark hide its size, and it doesn’t look as small as it is unless you park it next to something really big–a Chevy Suburban, say. Up front, the traditional Chevrolet twin-opening grille and big wraparound light units eliminate much of the snub-nosed look. Its accent lines, exaggerated wheel-opening flares, and black-plastic panels that continue the window line all help alleviate the tall-box-on-little-wheels look, as does a spoiler at the top of the tailgate that extends the horizontal line of the Spark’s roof.
The materials used for the interior don’t make a lot of attempt to be upmarket; the dash is textured hard plastic, and the synthetic cloth seats look like what they are. But the body-color trim inserts on the dash, doors, and inside the door bins are a nice touch that harkens back to painted metal panels on inexpensive cars of the Sixties.
The instrument cluster is “motorcycle-inspired,” meaning it’s a small pod mounted on the steering column, and has one large dial gauge and quite a few colored lights and monochrome graphics. We give the Spark’s interior designers credit, though, for lots of useful storage in the doors, console, and the dash face itself–including a slot on each side of the center stack that’s perfect for a smart phone. On the top-end LT trim levels, a 7-inch color touchscreen display sits in the center of the dash.
Inside, the front seats are small and and a little narrow for American-sized occupants–and a little more rearward travel would be good too. Taller drivers may find that their right knee brushes the climate controls at times. With a bit of negotiation between front- and back-seat riders, four adult humans can occupy the Spark and travel in reasonable space–even in the upright rear seat–which can’t be said of the Fiat 500, MINI Cooper, or the two-seat Smart ForTwo. The Spark offers 11.4 cubic feet of cargo space–enough to hold 10 to 12 full paper grocery bags with ease–with the rear seat up, which can be expanded to 31.2 cubic feet if you flip and fold down the 60/40 split rear seat.
The Spark is powered by an 84-horsepower, 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine, with a five-speed manual gearbox standard and a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) as an option. The manual can be hustled along to keep up with traffic if you drive it aggressively; the CVT gives automatic ratio adjustment and still delivers tolerable performance while avoiding the drone that can afflict small cars with CVTs. Fuel economy is 34 mpg combined and 39 mpg on the highway cycle with either option; the manual’s city rating of 31 mpg is 1 mpg better than the CVT’s 30 mpg city.
While the Spark holds the road decently, the ride is somewhere between firm and hard, and passengers will feel nearly every bump, pothole, ridge, and ripple in the road. They’ll also feel some body roll on corners, the inevitable price of a narrow car in which passengers sit up tall and ride on small wheels and tires. While the Spark is no MINI Cooper, its electric power steering provides some road feel, and it’s easy to slip into vanishingly small spaces in traffic–or parking spaces–that other cars won’t attempt.
The Chevy Spark was the sole minicar to receive an “Acceptable” rating in the new and tough small-overlap frontal crash test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It also earned a four-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with impressive five-star side and side pole ratings. Outward vision is good, too, despite the lack of a rear camera system. Ten airbags are included as part of the Spark’s standard equipment, as are electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes.
The base 2015 Chevrolet Spark LS starts at about $13,000. All Spark models come standard with air conditioning, power windows, a rear-window wiper, and a trip computer. And even base cars have 15-inch painted aluminum wheels–no plastic covers over slotted metal wheels here. Infotainment is actually much better than what’s offered in most other small cars, and even better than the systems in some much more expensive vehicles.
Throw in an extra $1,500 to upgrade from the base LS to the 1LT model, and you’ll add Chevrolet MyLink with the 7-inch touchscreen dashboard display, audio controls on the steering wheel, a USB port, Bluetooth audio pairing, and built-in Sirius XM radio with 3 months of free service. It also includes remote keyless entry, power door locks, an anti-theft system, power door mirrors, cruise control, and floor mats.
Move up to the top-of-the-line 2LT model and you add 15-inch alloy wheels,leatherette seats with heated fronts, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lamps, and a long list of cosmetic upgrades. Automatic headlamps and daytime running lamps were made standard last year, along with heated power-adjustable body-color side mirrors with integrated turn signals on the 2LT model. For 2015, the main changes are 4G LTE connectivity through the OnStar built-in cellular connection, and an available WiFi hot spot. The array of dealer-installed accessories has grown somewhat, and colors include both predictable hues (white, silver, red, black) and some startling shades like Techno Pink, Lime Green, and Denim (a kind of baby blue).
The Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system includes an AM/FM stereo with the 7-inch display (Sirius XM can be added), Bluetooth streaming, and compatibility with Pandora and Stitcher apps. The Spark is the first Chevy to offer a navigation system that’s not built into the car, but runs via an optional $50 smartphone app called BringGo. It compresses the entire North American map database into a 2GB app that runs on the user’s smartphone and essentially transmits the display to the vehicle system. New for this year, if you have an iPhone, you can use Siri hands-free through the system (using your smartphone’s data connection, again). It’s a smart solution and works well, although we don’t know whether Spark owners will pay even $50 to get a more integrated solution or simply spend $12 on a bracket to hold their smartphones running Google Maps (or listening to the voice instructions with the phone tossed in a cupholder).
That the Chevy Spark may be the best all-around value among its varied small-car competitors is a real testament to the little minicar, which sells in much higher volumes in India and Asia (where it’s sometimes known as the Beat).
There’s another Spark model, the Spark EV battery-electric version, but it’s sold only in small numbers and only in California and Oregon. It’s by far the most powerful Spark–and hence the most amusing to drive–with a 105-kilowatt (140-hp) electric motor powered by a 20-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. (A new and slightly lower-capacity pack for 2015 delivers the same range and efficiency as its predecessor). Chevy quotes a 0-to-60-mph time for the Spark EV of just 7.6 seconds, and the EPA rates the electric Spark at 82 miles of driving range and 119 MPGe, making it the second most-efficient car sold in the U.S. this year.
The best-selling model offered by VW in the United States, the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta has gotten a number of upgrades over the past two years to keep it viable in the face of tougher competition from new and revised compact four-door sedans. Now in its fifth model year, the Mexican-built Jetta gets two new and more fuel-efficient engines–one gasoline, one diesel–along with a slightly refreshed interior, a handful of very minor updates to the exterior styling, and various new active-safety features.
The Jetta offers a multitude of powertrains, not only gasoline and diesel, but also a low-volume hybrid version. Their range lets the VW sedan be many things to many different buyers, though it has a lot of ground to cover. It must squeeze in what might be the most usable amount of interior space in the compact class; deliver an impressive sweet spot of performance, refinement, and fuel economy; and pack in plenty of features, all while keeping the price point in the mid-$20,000 range. Somehow, the Jetta seems to accomplish all of that, and its sales reflect that success.
From the outside, however, the Jetta remains one of the more conservatively styled options in the segment. If you want style and flair in a compact sedan, you’d probably be better served going for a model like the Mazda 3, Ford Focus, or Dodge Dart. The Jetta’s latest refresh brings a few subtle changes to the front and rear fascia, which VW claims should improve the Jetta’s aerodynamics. At the rear, there’s a new trunk lid with an integrated aerodynamic trailing edge, and GLI and Hybrid models get newly optional LED taillights. The rear-end changes give the car a conspicuous premium look, as it resembles very closely the current Audi A4. The car’s interior has also been updated with a new steering wheel and revised infotainment and climate controls.
The 2015 Jetta is still so spacious, it barely squeezes into the compact class. A great driving position, the back-seat space of a mid-size sedan, and obvious German heritage throughout, from the first turn of the steering wheel: It’s all part of the experience in the Jetta, which is one of the most livable and refined of its kind.
Most Jetta models will be powered either by a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (1.8T) or a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel (TDI). Both models now receive an active radiator shutter that closes to shorten engine warm-up times and also reduce aerodynamic drag when extra cooling isn’t needed. The diesel engine in the TDI models is a new unit, and delivers 36 mpg combined with either the manual or automatic transmissions. Real-world fuel economy could reach 40 mpg or more, however, as diesels often achieve on their ratings–especially in high-speed use, where the EPA highway ratings are 45 or 46 mpg. The anemic naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four returns to the lineup in base models.
The Jetta Hybrid also carries over, with its 1.4-liter turbocharged four, hybrid system, and additional battery pack—all adding up to a car that’s more fun to drive than a Prius, albeit not quite as efficient. And the GLI, with its 2.0-liter turbocharged four and sportier demeanor, will continue as the Jetta that packs the most fun. The Hybrid and GLI models are expected to go on sale early in 2015.
The other important news for 2015 is that VW has decided to bring some of its advanced-tech features and active-safety equipment to the U.S.; previously, these expensive items were only available in Europe and other overseas markets. Blind-spot detection, frontal collision warning, and rear cross-traffic alert are all newly available this year. It also has a beefed-up front crash structure (though you’ll never know it–the changes are all under the surface), which lets the 2015 Jetta ace the new and tougher IIHS small-overlap front crash test. It gets not only the top “Good” ratings on every IIHS test, but also the coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation.
Shoppers interested in well-equipped models will have the option of adding bi-xenon headlamps with adaptive lighting and LED daytime running lights, which were previously exclusive to GLI and Hybrid Jetta trims. We’re glad to see the inclusion of these technologies, seen in many luxury cars, because when this Jetta generation was launched in 2011 it fell victim to U.S.-centric cost-cutting that denied our market of many of the premium-feeling materials and features available on Jettas elsewhere.
One other Jetta program note: For 2015, the SportWagen gives up its Jetta name, with an all-new SportWagen now becoming part of the Golf lineup. It had always been based on the Golf platform, so Golf SportWagen is a more honest name, even if the change might throw some consumers.