Archive for February, 2013

Toyota Recalls 2.5 Million Vehicles in US for Window Switch Fires

Toyota is recalling 2.5 million cars in the United States due to faulty power window switches that can cause a fire in the driver’s door.

Toyota said that the driver’s side window switches may not be completely greased from the factory, which can result in the switches sticking or feeling “notchy.” If aftermarket grease is then applied, the switch could short and cause a fire. Among the included models: The 2007 to 2009 Camry, Camry Hybrid, RAV4 and Tundra; 2007 to 2008 Yaris; 2008 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid; 2008 to 2009 Sequoia; 2008 to 2009 Scion xA and xD; and the 2009 Corolla and Matrix.

Dealers will begin repairing the switches and applying “special fluorine grease” in late October, Toyota said. Affected owners can visit www.toyota.com/recall or call Toyota at 1-800-331-4331.

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Caps and rotors

If you have an older car, chances are that one tune-up item you need to pay particular attention to is your ignition system. One item you don’t see too often anymore is the distributor. Most cars, these days, have long since transitioned to distributorless ignition systems, thus simplifying the tune-up process. But, if you’re maintaining a car with a distributor ignition system, it isn’t too hard to add this to the list of items you need to take care of.

First off, where are the common wear points in a distributor-based ignition systems? Primarily, you’re looking at two different parts – the distributor cap and the rotor. The distributor cap is exactly what it sounds like – a cap that fits over the distributor. It’s easy to identify, if you haven’t seen one before. Follow the spark plug wires to where they meet up, and you’ve found the distributor cap. Once you unclip it and lift off the cap, you’ll find the rotor. The rotor sits atop the distributor shaft, and rotates with the engine. The rotor, combined with the cap, is responsible for getting spark to each spark plug in the correct order. In fact, that’s where the distributor gets its name – it distributes the spark.

It’s impossible to tell from the outside if your cap and rotor are worn, except perhaps by observing suffering engine performance. In order to inspect them, you need to unclip and lift off the cap and inspect the contacts inside it, as well as those on the rotor. Visible scoring is a sign of wear and indicates that it’s time to replace them.

Thankfully, the distributor cap and rotor are two of the easiest maintenance items to replace in your engine. Replacement doesn’t even require tools. However, make sure to note which spark plug wire goes to which contact on the distributor cap. If not, it’s easy to mix them up, and if you do, your engine may not start. If it does, it’ll undoubtedly misfire.

The rotor itself is even easier to deal with. Once the distributor cap is off, the rotor should pull right off the shaft. If it’s stuck, just give it a little more muscle.

While you’re replacing your cap and rotor, it’s a good time to replace your spark plugs. Also, take a look at your ignition wires. If you’ve noticed the car hesitating on a damp morning, only to behave normally after a moment or two, you probably have worn wires. If you’re not sure, start the engine while it’s dark and mist the wires with a spray bottle of water. If you see sparks, you know it’s time to replace the wires, too.

With a little attention, your ignition system should keep going for a long time. It’s easy to inspect, and it’s a good idea to do so if you’re not sure when it was last serviced.

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Name That Part revealed – Starter Solenoid

Congratulations! If you guessed this week’s mystery part as a “Starter Solenoid,” you got it right.

For starter solenoids and much more, visit us online at?Advance Auto Parts.

Have a great week—see you next Monday!

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Show what you know by playing Name That Part at the?Advance Auto Parts Facebook page?every Monday. How it works: we post a shot of an auto part, and you submit your best guess for a chance to win the admiration of DIY’ers across the globe.

Editor’s note: Got projects??Advance?can save you time and money on just about everything you’ll need. Buy online, pick up in store.

Toyota, BMW Fuel-Cell Technology Sharing Agreement Almost Finalized

Toyota and BMW may announce the final details of their fuel-cell technology sharing agreement this week. From the Japanese automaker, BMW will lease fuel-cell technology including drivetrain and hydrogen storage technology, Automotive News reports. BMW plans to show a fuel-cell prototype by 2015 and have a production car by 2020.


A fuel-cell converts hydrogen (or other fuel) into electricity, which is then used to power a vehicle. Refueling with hydrogen can be much quicker than the hours typically required to recharge an electric car, though the U.S. currently lacks a hydrogen fueling infrastructure that might make such vehicles more appealing to automakers. Fuel-cell vehicles can also run up to five times longer between refueling than battery electric cars can between charges.


BMW i8 concept left side 300x187 imageThis isn’t the first collaboration between the two auto giants. Toyota and BMW inked a deal in December 2011 to work together on lithium-ion battery development for hybrid and PHEVs, while BMW would supply Toyota 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engines for Euro-market cars. The automakers hope to produce lighter, higher-performance batteries with the agreement.


In June, the automakers signed an agreement for joint development of a hydrogen fuel-cell system, collaboration on electric powertrains, work on lightweight technologies, and a new lightweight sports car. While Toyota and Subaru jointly developed the lightweight rear-drive GT86/Scion FR-S/BRZ triplets, some speculate that Toyota and BMW could work together on the next-generation Z4 and a new Supra.


The new agreement could give the automakers an advantage over others that are currently developing fuel-cell technology, which include Mercedes-Benz, GM, Nissan, Honda, Mazda, and Hyundai.

Name That Part revealed – Water Outlet Coolant Flange

This one was a bit trickier than last week’s muffler…that said, many of you still guessed it correctly as a “Water Outlet Coolant Flange.” Nice work!

If you’ve been looking for a water outlet coolant flange, you’re in luck, you can find it at?Advance Auto Parts.

Have a great week—see you next Monday!

Water Outlet Coolant Flange by Dorman Water Outlet Coolant Flange by Dorman

Show what you know by playing Name That Part at the?Advance Auto Parts Facebook page?every Monday. How it works: we post a shot of an auto part, and you submit your best guess for a chance to win the admiration of DIY’ers across the globe.

Editor’s note: For DIY’ers of all stripes,?Advance?can save you cash on just about every project. Buy online, pick up in store.

Our Best-of-2012 lists are in!

Range Rover Evoque Named Women’s World Car Of The Year 2012Try as we all might to downplay the relevance of end-of-year lists and the like, it’s time?to be honest with ourselves: we love this stuff. And we’re not afraid to fly our checkered flag proudly when it comes to talking about the most eventful things that happened last year in the field of cars and DIY.

Our esteemed bloggers have their own unique views on 2012. As you’ll see, it even gets a little intense when two of them go head to head. But, that’s what The Advance auto blog is all about—sharing passions, thoughts and opinions. Let the fireworks begin!

Jim Kazliner
Editor ? DIY’er

Top 5?s for 2012

The DIY Mom:

5. The one-year anniversary of the campaign that lifted the ban of women drivers in Saudi Arabia

Gives perspective on the freedoms we enjoy (and take for granted).

4. The Range Rover Evoque being named the Women’s Car of the Year 2012

Didn’t even know that there was even just such a list. Now I’m wanting to know more about this vehicle that I don’t see much advertising for. Also drives curiosity about the runners up. (Award is based on?panel results of worldwide women motoring writers.)

3. The Google Car that drives itself

Looking forward to the day when this becomes a commonplace reality! And who couldn’t use this “chauffeur” for commuting? What a great idea for those doing a night out on the town and no one has to be the designated driver . . .

2. Danica Patrick’s racing year

She has admirers, she has her detractors; in more ways than one, she’s a role model who’s not afraid of breaking ground.

1. The opening of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park

A fun new place the entire family can enjoy, no matter the age of the kids.

Rural Tales:

5. Lower Gas Prices

After starting out 2012 around $3.23 and trending up to around $3.90 in April and again in September, I’m liking the trend for the average retail price for gas to be lower—at the close of 2012 it was at $3.22. Check out Gas Buddy for more info on gas prices.

4. Mild Temperatures

I love a good snow, but when I have to work outside, I extra appreciate the mild temperatures. The lack of winter weather some of us had in 2012 led to lots more DIY.

3. 2012 NASCAR Champion

My son’s a big NASCAR fan, and this year his favorite driver, Brad Keselowski, was crowned as NASCAR’s champion after capturing the points lead in The Chase.

2. The Growth of Online Vehicle Repair Videos

For saving time and money, nothing beats the thousands of online videos out there—on everything from changing a busted hydraulic hose on a farm tractor (did it) to a shortcut for getting around the air filter cover for headlight replacement on an Odyssey (did it).

1. Vehicles That Last Longer

The average age of vehicles on the road today is a record 10.8 years old. That means vehicles are built better and running longer. With that, 2012 saw my old F150 and Honda Odyssey reach new high-mileage milestones.

Street Talk:

5. The New 2014 Ford Fiesta

Motor Trend is giving the one-liter, three-cylinder 2014 Ford Fiesta a strong review. I especially like the clean looks, both inside and out.

4. Kia and DC Comics join forces

To help fight hunger in Africa, Kia Motors and DC Comics joined forces, bringing various players from ImportTuner magazine and West Coast Customs together to build eight cars resembling a superhero from DC Comic’s Justice League.

3. Formula Drift Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Fundraiser

Formula D organizers gave drift fans a chance to ride along with their favorite driver at Irwindale Speedway this past December—all for a $150 contribution to the Red Cross Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Not a bad deal.

2. 2012 Wekfest

This import car show was huge in 2012, and looks to be even bigger, better and more exciting when it kicks off 2013 in Hawaii this February, followed by San Francisco.

1. A rookie wins Formula D

Rookie Daigo Saito captured the 2012 Formula D championship in his first year in this drift competition. Read more about Daigo Saito.

The Mechanic Next Door and Gearhead’s Garage:

These two distinguished DIY’ers happened to be visiting the same town during the holidays.?Over beers, they went over my latest assignment… the results of which are below, same as they arrived to me on a musty ol’ cassette tape (our resident Gearhead is very old-school), via media mail (he’s cheap, too). —JK

MND=The Mechanic Next Door
GG=Gearhead’s Garage

5. 2013 Ford Fusion

MND: “The new Fusion gets almost 50 mpg in Hybrid form, and with a starting price in the low $20,000 range, it’s an impressive value. The Aston Martin-inspired styling is a nice bonus.”

GG: “Forget the Hybrid, I’ll take the six-speed stick and the 1.6-liter EcoBoost turbo. Scoots along pretty good, still doesn’t suck gas, and man, can this thing take a corner for a front-driver. It’s really something.”

4. 2013 Cadillac ATS

GG: “Rear drive and that big 3.6-liter V6 in something this small? This is the first Caddy I’ve wanted since the XLR!”

MND: “That V6 is nice, but the story here is that Cadillac finally gets the sport-sedan formula right across the board. It’s great that you can get a regular 2.5-liter four in this car as well, or a 2.0-liter turbo. Something for everyone.”

3. 2013 Honda Accord

MND: “A real return to form. I remember when the Accord was a no-brainer choice, but Honda had lost the plot in recent years. Nice to see them back on their game.”

GG: “Yeah, nice ride all around. I especially like that they still build an Accord coupe after all these years. Shoot, the V6 coupe can give a Mustang a run for its money, and it looks a lot better than it used to.”

2. 2013 Toyota Avalon

MND: “Has a sedan this large ever crossed the 40 mpg barrier? I don’t think so, and the new Avalon Hybrid is no slouch off the line with that electric-motor torque, either. Plus, it’s got the looks to compete with attractive midsizers like the Fusion. This could be the future of the big American-style sedan.”

GG: “Will you quit with the Hybrid talk? The regular V6 is one of the best things going. It’ll do 30 mpg or so if you baby it, and then it’ll blow the doors off that punk kid next to you at a stoplight. Handling’s solid, too.”

1. 2013 Porsche Boxster

GG: “You know why this was the best car of 2012? Simple, because it’s the only car ever that left me satisfied with just the entry-level motor. You have got to hear the Boxster’s 2.7-liter flat-6 sing its song, and these are the strongest 265 horses I’ve ever had at my disposal. If you know me, you know I’ve got a thing for American muscle, but I’d go German in a heartbeat if my wife would let me buy one of these. And would you look at that styling! It’s an exotic for a fraction of the price.”

MND: “As a mechanically inclined guy, I have to give credit where credit’s due: the new Boxster is an engineering masterpiece. It’s as rigid as a coupe over bumps, its top powers down in a flash, and whether you get the base motor or the 3.4-liter ‘S’ version, it’s a blast to drive. I love that Porsche hasn’t given up on building pure driver’s cars in this day and age.”

Rolls-Royce Wraith Coupe Teased, Spied Testing


2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith profile teaser lightened

Rolls-Royce released a shadowy teaser this morning of its new Wraith coupe, due to debut in March at the Geneva Motor Show. However, we’re one step ahead of the British automaker – we have new spy shots of the Wraith out testing near the Arctic Circle this week, as well.


2014 Rolls Royce Wraith front three quarter 1 spied 300x187 image


Given that the Wraith is expected to essentially be a coupe version of the Ghost, chances are likely that the Wraith will use the same powertrain as the Ghost sedan. Rolls already promised that the Wraith will be the most-powerful and most dynamic model to wear its Spirit of Ecstasy hood mascot. That means buyers should expect upwards of the 563 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque that the Ghost’s twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter V-12 puts down.


Our spy shots show a number of the Wraith’s design cues that have been lifted straight from the Ghost sedan. The Wraith caught testing looks to have an-almost identical front clip to the Ghost, with its slightly raked radiator grille, LED turn signals, and contoured hood. Around back, the Wraith wears the same LED taillights as the Ghost. The big difference, of course, is in profile – while the Ghost is a four-door, the Wraith will have only two doors and a sloping roofline. However, like the range-topping Phantom Coupe, the new two-door Rolls will also have rear-hinged doors. The Wraith also has longer rear quarter windows than the Phantom Coupe or the Ghost, as evidenced by the teaser released this morning.


Expect more details to follow as the official reveal for the 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith draws closer.

Cylinder head replacement

Recently, my car developed a misfire. I was experiencing a recurring P0302 trouble code, indicating the misfire was in cylinder 2. Knowing there could be multiple causes of the misfire, I approached the problem by investigating the simpler possibilities first. Starting with spark plugs. After combing through the entire ignition and fuel injection systems to no avail, I decided to run a compression test, which definitively told me that the problem was in the cylinder head itself. As the car wasn’t overheating and I was seeing no signs of oil and coolant mixing, I was left with the theory that the problem was most likely a burned exhaust valve or a worn valve guide in that cylinder. At any rate, the cylinder head needed to come off to repair it.

I mulled over the possibility of rebuilding the cylinder head myself, installing new valves, guides and other parts as necessary. But, as I needed to drive the car, I decided that the most efficient way to tackle the job would be to purchase an already-rebuilt cylinder head. I waited until I had the new cylinder head in hand before I started disassembling my car.

Of course, the cylinder head wasn’t the only thing I needed. In addition to that, I needed new intake and exhaust manifold gaskets (as the intake and exhaust had to come off the engine), new exhaust studs, a new valve cover gasket, fresh coolant, and, most of all, a new head gasket. Working with a good shop manual, I tore into the job on a Saturday. In order to get the cylinder head off, I needed to remove the intake manifold, the exhaust manifold, the alternator, power steering pump, the timing belt, and camshaft pulley.

Once everything was out of the way, I removed the cylinder head bolts and lifted the head out with the engine in place. Installation was a bit more complex than you might have expected. The head bolts needed to be replaced, and needed a light coating of oil. The new head gasket was installed dry, as per factory specifications. Once the head was in place, there was a very specific torque sequence to follow in order to properly seat the new head gasket and get it to seal against the block.

After the new head was installed, the rest of it was nothing more than putting the engine back the way I found it. The timing belt had to be reinstalled. As the timing belt was recent, I saw no reason to install a new one. From there, the exhaust had to be bolted up to the engine and the intake manifold needed to be reinstalled, paying particular attention to all the electrical and vacuum connections.

As soon as everything was in place, I was able to start the engine and bleed the air out of the cooling system. The best part about it? The engine now runs properly and without the misfire.

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What do brownies, bowling and batteries have in common?

Advance Auto PartsThey’re my power sources. The sweet stuff: after the first bite, I’m ready to move mountains. The sport stuff: always an adrenaline rush since my league days with The Gutter Gals. The start-the-car-NOW stuff: my family has thousands of destinations — starting the ignition, hearing an empty-sounding click, then dead silence is something we don’t need. Dead car battery. Get the jumper cables. Time for reviving a dead car battery and jump starting a car.

Never worked with jumper cables before for jump starting a car? (No worries ladies, we’ve all been there once.) A dead car battery doesn’t discriminate. It’ll happen some day, so take heed and learn how to jump start a car battery right:

Turn off both carsConnect one of the red (positive) jumper cables to the positive terminal on the stalled car’s batteryConnect the second red jumper cable to the positive terminal of the battery on the car giving the boostConnect one of the black (negative) jumper cables to the negative terminal of the boosting car’s batteryConnect the other black jumper cable to the stalled car’s engine blockStart the boosting car, let it run for a few minutesStart the stalled carOnce the stalled car starts, keep both cars runningIn reverse order, take off the jumper cablesKeep the jumped car running for half an hour (it’ll give the battery time to recharge itself)

That is the art of jump starting a car and reviving a dead car battery. To further avoid the dead car battery dilemma, especially with winter around the corner, be proactive now. During bone-cold weather, a battery’s ability to generate power naturally slows down. To make the problem worse, engines will need even more battery current to get started. Plus, the many demands of the defrosters, wipers and heater also increase the need for power. So check your battery’s longevity level for winter! Test it with a voltmeter. Measure electrolyte levels. Remove corrosion from battery posts and terminals.

Lastly, keep those jumper cables in the trunk. After all, you now know how to jump start a car battery and an opportunity to be a Good Samaritan may arise at the parking lot, on the coldest night this winter. Then, after reviving a dead car battery, reward yourself. I say go for a fudge-nut brownie. Or two.

Editor’s note: Is you power absolute??Advance Auto Parts offers loads of car batteries, services and solutions to serve just about every cold-cranking need. Buy online, have it installed free in store—most vehicles, most locations. (Sorry, we’re out of fudge-nut brownies at the moment.)