Author Archives: Bill Bender

Mini Cooper Repair: How to Replace the Side Mirror of a 2001-2006 Model

MiniCooper hood emblem -- how to repair the side mirror

This repair takes about 10-20 minutes. It is not very complicated and does not need much in the way of tools.

Tools you need for this Mini Cooper repair are:

  • Allen wrenches
  • Small flat head screwdriver (optional).

Note: The repair steps are provided in three groups, a, b, and c, depending how much of the mirror you want to replace. You can jump down to the b or c sections if you just want to switch out the cap or the mirror glass.

a. How to replace your complete Mini Cooper’s side mirror

1.) Take the current side mirror off your car. To do so, you want to expose three Allen screws that connect the door and mirror, which you can achieve by rotating the base of the mirror’s assembly. Using an Allen wrench, unscrew the three screws and detach the mirror from the car. Be sure you leave behind the rubber gasket, though. You will also need to remove the connectors that go to heated or power mirrors from the old mirror and the door.

2.) Put your new side mirror onto the car. Attach the new side mirror to your Mini Cooper’s wire connector. The connector runs into a plastic tab within the door. Be certain the tab is positioned in the direction of the car’s exterior. Uncover the Mini Cooper’s screw holes by pivoting the mirror at its base. Place the mirror so that it is covering the rubber seal. Grab the three Allen screws again. Screw them in. Finally, rotate the mirror back into its final position.

b. How to change only the glass of your side mirror

You can just use your hands, with no need for additional tools, if you only want to switch out the glass; however, a small flathead screwdriver can sometimes make the process easier. To proceed, press on your Mini Cooper’s mirror at its upper edge, applying significant pressure. Put your fingers beneath the mirror’s lower edge, which now protrudes. Pull toward you until you can feel the release of the clips. When you only need to change the glass, you can detach the heated mirror from the electrical connector, and the new glass should snap into position. When you are also changing the Mini Cooper’s cap, put this glass in a safe place so that it does not get broken.

c. How to replace just the caps of your Mini Cooper’s side mirror

To change the outside caps of your Mini Cooper’s side mirror, you just need to disconnect them from the five clips that hold the caps to the mirror assembly. You want to start with the bottom two clips, using two fingers to release them. Then you want to release the top three. You should now be able to release the cap. As indicated by Brett Foote of North American Motoring, you can use a knife or other small tool if you are having difficulty getting the cap to release. “[B]ut be very careful because they are very fragile and prone to breaking,” she added. When you have the old cover removed, position the new cover, verifying that all five clips snap into position. Finally, push back on the glass of the mirror until it snaps into its position as well.

Mini Cooper News

Now that we have completed the technical discussion of the repair, we can turn to trendier business, recent news items related to the carmaker that might interest you as a Mini Cooper owner:

  • One-of-a-kind Mini Cooper stars at royal wedding
  • Portugal gathering of Mini lovers will mark four decades of the event

One-of-a-kind Mini Cooper stars at royal wedding

The Mini Cooper can be more than just a car to help you get around town. It is also stylish enough that it can serve as a fashionable gift, even to royalty – as indicated by the Mini that was given to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. The unique automobile did not appear at the couple’s reception, though. Rather, it was sent to a nonprofit selected by the couple; that organization will, in turn, sell it at auction.

The standard Mini Cooper 2-Door was taken by the designers at the automaker and adapted. They added a bespoke interior and roof graphic, highlights of which were specially chosen embroidery and 3D-printed features. The concept that inspired the manually applied roof graphic is a blend of the Stars & Stripes and the Union Jack – mixing the national backgrounds of the bride and groom. Additionally, “Just Married” is projected onto the ground from the car when the doors are opened. The side scuttles, chrome finish, and other granular aspects of the car’s detailing are custom-designed for this special moment as well.

The “satellite grey” leather interior is another key feature that contrasts nicely with the “crystal white” color of the car’s main body paint. A slender strip provides the date of the wedding, as well as the names of the bride and groom. The door cards contain accents that harmonize with the hues of the graphic on the Mini Cooper’s roof. This particular car will only be made by Mini Cooper once, but you can customize your own vehicle to resemble the royal wedding car using the official customization platform, Mini Yours. You can include 3D-printed components with that design if you want.

As noted above, the car is being handed off by the marrying couple to a cause: the Children’s HIV Association, where it will be sent after the couple’s wedding on May 19. Assumedly the car will get a great price at auction given the amount of publicity this regifting has produced.

Portugal gathering of Mini lovers will mark four decades of the event

Portugal hosted hundreds of Mini lovers from around the world when lovers of the automaker held the 40th yearly International Mini Meeting (IMM) there. This year was the first time the event has taken place in the European nation. Slotted for the 17th through the 21st of May by the Clube Mini de Portuga, the IMM was held on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 62 miles south of Porto in Praia de Mira.

Each day of the IMM was focused on one of the cars made by the automaker. One car that was spotlighted was the Mini Moke, for instance. The Mini Van and Mini Clubman were also given their own dedicated days.

Another car that was given special attention was the Mini Cooper S, which is a performance-driven version of the car that has been around for 55 years. When this version of the car was introduced, it both increased the quality of the brakes and gave the car twice the power.

Honest Mini Cooper repair in Boulder

Mini Cooper has proven that it has the refined approach to appear in the headlines with the royal couple, and the International Mini Meetings continue to draw attention. The Mini Cooper is about substance of course, not just style – and its incredible drivability must be safeguarded. At Independent Motors, we believe great service starts with honest communication, and we want your business for the long haul. See Our Mini Cooper Repair philosophy.

How to Change Your BMW Hood Ornament (aka Roundel Emblem)

shot of BMW emblem in rain on car

One of the defining features of a BMW is its roundel emblems, on its hood and trunk. These ornaments are eye-catching when the car is first purchased new. However, they will wear over time, fading and potentially cracking – in large part because of long-term exposure to the UV rays of the sun. Getting a replacement emblem is certainly affordable compared to many other car parts, showing up on eBay and other online stores for $5 to $35. Once you have a new emblem in-hand, removing the old one and replacing it with a new one can be performed in a total of 10 to 15 minutes.

Caution: While an 82mm diameter is standard, BMWs DO NOT always have the same size ornament. You can use a resource such as RealOEM to verify the part that you need. If you cannot figure out what part you need, the last-ditch possibility is to take off the current emblem and look on the back for the OEM part number. That way, whether you purchase an OEM or aftermarket part, you will know exactly what you need.

You will have to get both the emblem and two mounting grommets. Once you have the parts, you are ready to gather your tools and move forward with this BMW repair.


  • Needle nose pliers
  • Masking tape
  • Thin flat-head screwdriver
  • Plastic pry tool

Step 1 – To safeguard your BMW’s paint as you take the emblem off the car, it is a good idea to tape the area around it. You can also keep from scratching your car by placing a cloth beneath the pry tool as you work. Be careful in your choice of pry tool, since it will greatly impact how simple the replacement process is; it should be as thin as possible. If you decide to use a flat-head screwdriver, it is important to use masking tape on it as well – again, to keep the paint from scratching.

Step 2 – Once you have your tools at your side and have everything protected, begin to use the prying tool to remove the ornament that is currently on your car. Move around the emblem so that it stays relatively flat as you loosen it. After you have mostly freed it, you can finish the removal with your fingers.

Step 3 – On the back of the ornament are a couple of tabs that fit into grommets for mounting. It is a good idea to go ahead and put in new grommets when you replace the emblem. The grommets, which are made of plastic, will naturally start to wear and crack as they age, threatening the stability of the ornament – sometimes even resulting in it breaking off the vehicle while you are on the road (which is dangerous, although not as bad as a poorly secured tree flying off it).

Step 4 – Use your needle nose pliers to take the grommets off your BMW. At this point you should have both the grommets and ornament removed. It is an ideal time to clean, since it is likely that dirt or other debris has become stuck under the emblem over time.

Step 5 – With everything cleared away, you can now take your replacement grommets and simply press them into position. Line up the emblem so that you can fit its tabs to the grommets. Be sure that it is tight, without any space between the ornament and the hood.

Step 6 – Drive to a friend’s house and show off your BMW repair.

BMW News & Information

Now that you know how to replace the emblem, we can switch gears to trending news items that may interest you as a BMW owner:

  • BMW electrified car sales pass a quarter million
  • First Chinese self-driving license for global automaker goes to BMW
  • BMW to introduce wireless charging for electric vehicles

BMW electrified car sales pass a quarter million

On May 15, BMW announced that it had achieved a milestone with its electrified car sales, surpassing 250,000 vehicles.

In the press release outlining this news, Pieter Nota, a BMW boardmember, said that the sales of these cars had risen significantly during the beginning of 2018, allowing the carmaker to roll past the quarter-million mark. The sales of electrified models – including Mini Electric, BMW iPerformance, and BMW i, hit 9,831 during April, representing a 52% increase. BMW’s goal at the beginning of 2018 was to sell 140,000 electrified cars, and Nota said that projection is well within reach given this strong start.

First Chinese self-driving license for global automaker goes to BMW

The Shanghai Intelligent Connected Autonomous Driving Test License is a highly valuable prize for the self-driving car market in China. On May 14, BMW became the first carmaker to receive this license, which means that they will soon be able to test their driverless cars on China’s roads. The awarding of this license is a big step forward for BMW in its efforts to dominate the self-driving market in the key nation.

BMW will start to use the permit in Shanghai at a future point that is not yet known. However, it already has a group of five dozen self-driving specialists, so they will be ready once the automaker is free to move forward. What this testing will involve is building machine learning algorithms based on data from real-world traffic patterns.

Testing will initially be within a contained area – not out on the streets of Shanghai. The track that will be used for the autonomous research will be 3.5 miles long. Two cars, both BMW 7 Series, will be used in the closed facility. By the end of 2018, there will be a total of nine cars involved in the testing.

BMW to introduce wireless charging for electric vehicles

Smartphones are now increasingly being charged wirelessly. With an inductive charging system for electric cars, BMW is bringing this same approach to the automobile.

Many of BMW’s plug-in hybrid electric cars will eventually be able to use this wireless charging pad. The 530e iPerformance is the initial model that will be outfitted to work with the technology.

BMW car owners in Europe will be the first to get access to wireless charging when it is released in the next few months. A limited number of drivers in the United States – via a California pilot project – will also get access to this convenient feature.

The system will be made up of a main coil and charging pad that could be set up either outside or within a garage. Beneath the car is an additional coil.

The charge rate will be as high as 3.2kW via power sent through an alternating magnetic field extending from one coil to the other. Charging the car completely will take about 3 1/2 hours, making it much more convenient to own an electric car.

Honest Boulder BMW repair

BMW’s commitment to sustainability, as exhibited by its investment in and rising sales of electric car technology, shows an alignment with values we hold dear in Boulder. The carmaker also is cutting edge in its global embrace of autonomous driving. The above process will allow you to remove and replace your BMW roundel emblem; however, if you would rather have the repair performed by an honest and experienced mechanic, we can help. See our BMW repair philosophy.

PACE Certification Embraces Sustainability in Boulder County

green earth image -- PACE Certification Boulder Colorado

Independent Motors just received PACE Certification. This certification, locally based, is similar to LEED and Energy Star. It is a way of expressing a commitment to sustainability and an alignment with Boulder’s values. This article looks at PACE, as well as LEED and Energy Star, with which it shares core principles and objectives.

What is PACE?

PACE (Partners for a Clean Environment) is a Boulder County program that promotes and advises on sustainability. Its PACE Partners are organizations in the area that have been certified by Boulder County, demonstrating their environmental responsibility and waste diversion (see below). Along with the other organizations within PACE, Independent Motors has become one of hundreds of organizations that:

  • have dedicated themselves to helping build the local economy by adopting more environmentally friendly methods in various aspects of their business.
  • are committed to the local area and community
  • are concerned about the people and businesses who purchase their products
  • are geared generally toward the implementation of methods that are helpful to the local area’s economy, environment, and public health.

Applying for and receiving PACE Certification is a way for us to let you know that we have taken an initiative in deploying many key sustainability practices. According to Boulder County, the guidelines it uses for certification are “based upon and consistent with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) criteria as well as Energy Star Building certification.

What is waste diversion?

Waste diversion is defined within legal resource Defined Term as “the sum of your recycled, composted, and donated/reused materials.” In turn, the waste diversion rate is the proportion of all waste that gets donated, reused, composted, or recycled. For instance, if your business creates 1000 pounds of waste and 500 pounds is either donated, composted, reused, or recycled, that gives you a waste diversion rate of 50%.

The diversion rate can typically be improved by increasing the number of items that are recycled. Organizations can find new ways to recycle through a waste stream audit, a standardized process that can also sometimes reveal revenue opportunities, according to facilities management resource Buildings.

Notably, waste diversion is especially critical for the construction industry, as indicated by these statistics:

  • As the largest source within the waste stream at 30% of the total, the waste from construction and demolition (C &D) adds up to 135.5 million tons.
  • The average amount of waste per square foot of a newly constructed building is 3.9 pounds.
  • Waste per square foot for the average demolition is 155 pounds.

While construction may create more waste than other industries, every organization can improve its waste diversion, resource conservation, and other sustainability policies.

What is LEED?

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Created and developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), it is a set of green construction guidelines that are used to certify facilities as having met accepted sustainability standards. Like EnergyStar and PACE, LEED gives companies and other entities a way to present evidence that they used environmentally sound construction supplies and methods, based on the perspective of an objective outside organization. The range of LEED is broad, covering the extent to which the facility conserves resources, allows for high indoor environmental quality, is efficient with water, limits carbon dioxide emissions, and saves on electricity usage, among other concerns. Again meeting a similar need to other certification methods such as PACE and EnergyStar, LEED gives the managers and owners of any building a way to determine and initiate pragmatic steps to improve the environmental friendliness of their properties – in terms of how it is architected and constructed, but also in how it is maintained.

The USGBC was created in 1993 by a group of people within the American Institute of Architects (a professional organization that is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has 90,000 members, promoting the value of architecture and providing architects with helpful resources). The initial USGBC members represented approximately five dozen for-profit companies and a few nonprofit organizations. The intention of this group was to advance sustainability within construction. The USGBC first introduced the LEED certification program in 2000.

What is Energy Star?

Energy Star is a certification program that was created and is maintained in collaboration between the US Department of Energy (DOE) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is used to allow companies and individuals to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by being able to choose electronics, appliances, office equipment, and manufacturing plants that have committed to strong efficiency standards and protocols. While that describes the initial Energy Star focus, other types of industrial buildings, as well as commercial and residential buildings, can now go through the certification and rating process as well.

Originally released in 1992, Energy Star was used in a modified version to assess all members of the European Union in 2007. New Zealand and Australia also now use a similar version of these standards to gauge their own governmental practices, as well as to provide certification for for-profit and nonprofit organizations throughout their nations. Because of these high-profile adoptions and use beyond the borders of the United States, the certification program is taken very seriously.

Energy Star program to end?

Energy Star was in the political headlines recently because it would have ended with Trump’s budget as he attempted to redirect an additional $54 billion annually into military spending. However, his efforts to terminate Energy Star did not succeed.

As Grist noted, the program had helped organizations develop efficiency that had huge financial gains, amounting to a reduction of $430 billion on energy spending. Meanwhile, the program only (relative to its benefits) cost taxpayers $50 million annually.

Congress was not completely onboard with Trump’s efforts. In fact, there was substantial funding for innovations within the clean energy sector in the spending bill. According to the nonprofit National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the bill “clears the way for the Department of Energy (DOE) to carry out an effective operation while guarding against many harmful anti-environment policy ‘riders’ that have no place in a spending bill.”

When Congress passed the bill on March 23, they did so without including (as wanted by the Trump administration) the removal of the Advanced Research Projects Agency –Energy (ARPA-E), the division of the EPA that oversees the government’s efforts toward clean energy innovation. It also did so without removing a large amount of money from the budget for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE); in fact, the budget expanded the EERE’s budget by 11% over 2017. Finally, the EPA’s Energy Star program was taken off the chopping block as well.

Trump may not like the Energy Star program because he reportedly once received a 1 out of 100 rating – the lowest possible score – for energy efficiency at the Mayfair Hotel in Manhattan (since converted into condos).

Supporting PACE-certified businesses

Are you interested in supporting Boulder area businesses that have committed to sustainability practices? You can look through PACE Partners here. You will see that Independent Motors is one of the Certified Partners listed. At Independent Motors, an honest mechanic committed to broad sustainability efforts, 90% of the auto repair we do is repeat business. Meet our staff.

How to Get Recall Info for Your Car

recall lookup for any car, various portals to compare -- red X as in do not drive with a recalled part

A report from Carfax revealed that there are a somewhat incredible 57 million cars on the road that have an unrepaired recall. The states with the highest numbers of unfixed recalls, said Carfax, are California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York. To put that into perspective, 17.2 million cars were sold in the United States in 2017, per Kelley Blue Book. In other words, there are more than 3 times as many cars on the road that are in need of a recall-related repair as are sold annually.

Recalls become so commonplace in the news that they seem almost innocuous – but a recall occurs because a vehicle is believed to have flaws that could threaten the lives of occupants and others on the road.

Since recalls so commonly go unresolved, it is important for each of us as drivers to be informed on this topic and take action as appropriate. Many car owners, unfortunately, do not know how simple it is to access this information and get their cars into the best and safest possible working order.

Getting federal recall information really is not difficult or time-consuming once you know your options: the NHTSA recall search portal,, Consumer Reports, and automaker sites. Each of these resources is given consideration below.

The NHTSA recall search portal

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the agency of the federal government that issues and oversees automotive recalls. That agency is the ultimate source for this data. All you need to have in hand is your make, model, and year of the car, and you will be able to pull up all recalls issued by the NHTSA.

Once you are on the NHTSA Recalls Page, you will see the option to enter a vehicle identification number (VIN). If you have that, you can go ahead and enter it. You also should see a tab at the top, directly next to VIN, that says, “Vehicle.” Through this tab, you can simply enter the make, model, and year to get any recalls.

Once you are in the “Vehicle” section, assuming that choice, you select the year from the “Model Year” menu. Next, make your choice from the “Make” menu. On the right, you should see a “Go” button.

After you have clicked “Go,” you should see any recalls listed. Each one will have a brief description and the next steps to get it repaired.

Again, though, if you want to get more granular with the car, you can go back to the “VIN” section. You will typically be able to locate your VIN on your insurance documents, registration papers, or the car itself (on the frame at the side when you open the driver’s door, or possibly behind the steering wheel on the dashboard). You can enter that 17-digit number, and you should see whether the various recalls have been completed on that particular car. (In other words, you get more data if you do have the VIN available.)

The NHTSA site gives full information for your car also. For the 2013 Nissan Sentra, for instance, you will see that the vehicle has 6 recalls, 3 investigations, and 283 complaints, with an Overall Safety Rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

You see Front Driver Side and Front Passenger Side crash test scores as you scroll down the page. Eventually you get to fuller information for the recalls.

Note that another way to get into the NHTSA system directly is to go through, a site run by the US Department of Transportation. This site is an information portal and resource that gives you access to safety issues with the car, including recall data. When you click the button to perform a search from within this portal, it automatically open the NHTSA system to complete that request. (suggested by Digital Trends in its car recall advice) has a very similar tool the government, pulling in quite a bit of the same data but through a different system and organization of features. Within, you again want to put in the make, model, and year for your car. You then need to add your ZIP code (which is unrelated to the federal data).

When you have entered that information, the site will give you data from the NHTSA site.

Consumer Reports

If you want to check a non-government service and want one that doesn’t take any advertising money, you can use the portal provided by Consumer Reports. Notably, to use Consumer Reports’ Car Recall Tracker™, you need to set up a free account, which requires entry of your name, email, and creation of a password.

Within the Car Recall Tracker, as soon as you have created your login, you will see the option to enter year, make, and model of your car to add it for tracking.

For each recall that might come up for your car, Consumer Reports provides a summary of the issue with the car and forward steps you can take. It then provides the full text of the original recall notice from the NHTSA. That information has additional guidance on the problem, the danger of not fixing the component, and contact details for further information.

Carmakers’ sites

Beyond the federal government’s portal and the third-party sources of this data, you can also get recall information directly through your automaker. The recall pages for some of the major automakers are as follows:

Recall rates from the different carmakers compared

After looking at all this information on recalls, you may wonder which of the carmakers has the best record in limiting them. Well, the study has been conducted.

Figures from three decades of car recalls demonstrate that Volkswagen Group had the highest rate of recalls, while Porsche had the lowest. The number one automaker for timeliness related to recalls was General Motors, while the carmaker that led the way with proactiveness in response to recalls was Tesla.

The research, from, used recall data from January 1985 through September 2016, along with numbers on new car sales, to run three calculations:

  • the recall rate for each carmaker in terms of how often a faulty car is produced in relationship to the number of cars sold;
  • the timeliness of recalls in terms of how rapidly and willingly a carmaker is to find issues in its vehicles and to recall them in a three-year window; and
  • the proactiveness with which recalls are approached, a measure of how much recalls stem from the carmaker itself rather than from the NHTSA.

Here are the numbers from the study for each of the top 18 manufacturers, with the recall rate per 1000 cars:

  1. Porsche – 531
  2. Mercedes-Benz – 624
  3. Kia – 788
  4. Tesla – 936
  5. Mazda – 955
  6. General Motors – 958
  7. Subaru – 985
  8. Toyota – 1,028
  9. Nissan – 1,038
  10. Jaguar Land Rover – 1,067
  11. Mitsubishi – 1,089
  12. Ford – 1,139
  13. Volvo – 1,156
  14. BMW – 1,196
  15. Hyundai – 1,266
  16. Honda – 1,307
  17. Chrysler (FCA) – 1,422
  18. Volkswagen Group – 1,805.

That’s right – shockingly, the number of cars recalled was higher for many companies than was their number of cars sold.

Checking your car for unfixed recalls in Boulder

It is frustrating that there are so many recalls (and so many car flaws behind them), but we can help. At Independent Motors, we can advise you if there are any recalls for your vehicle that need to be addressed. Meet our staff.

Jeep Repair: How to Change Your Cherokee Ignition Switch

Jeep logo - Jeep Cherokee ignition switch repair

It is important that the ignition switch on a Jeep Cherokee continue to work well if you want to maintain safety on the road. If the switch ever begins to malfunction, you could end up stuck somewhere with the car stalled. You might not even be able to start it. You will get the first hint that this problem has arisen when you have difficulty starting the vehicle, perhaps having to retry a couple times. These warning signs are not always present though; you may just lose the ignition suddenly. No matter how the part fails, this article describes how you would go about removing and replacing it.

This Jeep repair is basically in three phases, as you remove the lower dashboard trim, remove the old ignition switch, and install the new ignition switch.

Tools needed:

  • Wrench
  • Screwdriver

Lower dashboard trim removal

  1. Open the hood of the car and secure it.
  2. Take your wrench and detach the car battery from the negative cable terminal (black).
  3. Grab your screwdriver and take out the 10 screws that are holding in the lower dashboard trim panel. Note that you will typically need to look inside the ashtray container for one of the screws.
  4. Make sure all electrical connectors are also detached, after which you can take off the panel. Put the panel someplace that is easy to remember when you need to reinstall it.

Ignition switch removal

  1. Turn your key lock to “Off-Lock.”
  2. Take out the pair of retaining screws that attach the steering column and switch, using the screwdriver. You can now detach your actuating rod.
  3. Disconnect the white electrical connector from the black wire harness connector.
  4. Take the switch out of your steering column.

Ignition switch installation

  1. Position your replacement ignition switch at the edge of your steering column so it is prepared to install.
  2. Change the switch’s slider so that it is set on “Accessory.”
  3. Attach the slider hole and actuating rod. Connect the switch. Use your fingers to get the pair of retaining screws tight but not stuck.
  4. Keeping your key lock set on “Accessory,” barely adjust the switch so that it is at the column’s base. Make sure the actuating rod is free of any slack. Use your screwdriver to complete the tightening of your retaining screws.
  5. Reestablish the connection between the white and black electrical connectors.
  6. Take the lower dashboard trim and reinstall it, using your screwdriver to reattach the screws.
  7. Connect the car battery to the negative battery cable, using your wrench to get it tight. Shut your hood.

Jeep News & Information

With this Jeep repair complete, we can turn to some lighter fare – some current news and information that might interest you as a Jeep owner:

  • Jeep Cherokee gets a redesign for 2019
  • Record number of redesigned Wranglers sold
  • Jeep driver goes off cliff in effort to avoid wasp

Jeep Cherokee gets a redesign for 2019

As small and midsize SUVs flood the market, Jeep is giving a refresher to its Cherokee with the 2019 edition.

The styling of the front of the Cherokee now has a greater resemblance to the front of the Compass or Grand Cherokee. The lights are the main difference, but the grille is also positioned more vertically than horizontally. The Cherokee’s taillights are also redesigned.

A previous design of the Cherokee created separation between the headlights and LED running lights. Now those lights are all included within a narrow, streamlined lens. The additional updates that are most notable are the composite tailgate, lightweight aluminum hood, and five new wheel designs.

The weight is lighter by 200 pounds vs. the 2018 version of the Cherokee. This change, which enhances the riding for occupants, is getting some positive attention, with Detroit Free Press car critic Mark Phelan saying in his review that the weight reduction was very impressive for a car that currently exists and is getting a midcycle refresh.

There is a new engine in the 2019 Cherokee. It offers 270 horsepower through a 2-liter 4-cylinder design. Phelan suggested that the engine is key to making this car a standout, saying that the 2-liter turbo was the first strong 4-cylinder engine that Chrysler had produced “since before DaimlerChrysler was penny wise and pound foolish in developing an uncompetitive family of bargain-basement engines more than a decade ago.”

This engine, which you can get in mid-range and high-end Cherokees, has the strong torque at low engine speeds and strong fuel economy to make it the best engine for the Cherokee.

Record number of redesigned Wranglers sold

With a strong resemblance to military vehicles, the Jeep Wrangler is a durable SUV and is intended for people who would want to go after rocky or muddy terrain.

With automotive consumers in the United States becoming increasingly attracted to SUVs and trucks, the Wrangler just hit the highest point in the model’s history.

Incredibly, the rise was 70% year-over-year (YOY) from March 2017 to March 2018, according to the numbers released by Fiat Chrysler. The figure made the Wrangler the top-selling model in the Jeep catalog. It even bested the Cherokee, which also had a huge rise of 63 percent YOY but achieved a lower total of 23,764 units sold.

The total for March of 98,382 Jeep cars was also a new record for total cars by the automaker.

The way in which the market is evolving right now is suited well for Jeep since it is a brand completely focused on sport utility vehicles.

Jeff Schuster, who assesses and projects sales of cars as the forecasting VP of LMC Automotive, commented that the numbers for Jeep were remarkable. Noting that the SUV focus is the expertise at Jeep, Schuster said that the brand is currently “really well aligned with the market.”

To clarify, the 2018 Wrangler is a different organism. It is not the historic, stripped-down version of the Wrangler but instead offers a stronger focus on comfort. There are locking differentials, a roll cage, and other all-terrain components. However, from the comfort end, this Wrangler includes Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment platform and a push-button ignition.

Comfort is critical since off-roading is not a part of Wrangler ownership for all people. The design of the car and its amenities are important to other owners of the model.

Schuster noted that a Wrangler will often see no off-roading at all.

Jeep driver goes off cliff in effort to avoid wasp

A Jeep went off a cliff into Lake Pleasant in Arizona on April 6 when its driver attempted to swat a wasp in the cabin.

The wasp flew into the car as the man was driving, according to a the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The driver did not know that he was approaching the cliff since he was so distracted by the wasp. Luckily, the driver did look up just before his Jeep sped off the cliff and leapt from the car to the ground. The car kept going off the cliff and down into the lake.

There were no injuries to the driver or anyone else. The Sheriff’s Office clarified that the driver was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Honest Jeep mechanic in Boulder

The Jeep brand continues to excite, with refreshes of its popular models continuing to draw eyes and new drivers – as indicated by sales of the Wrangler and the Cherokee redesign in the 2019 model. If you wish, you can follow the above steps to replace your ignition switch. If you need a mechanic for this repair or any other, we can help. At Independent Motors, 90% of the auto repair we do is repeat business. See our Jeep repair philosophy.

Toyota Camry Repair: How to Change Your Radiator

Toyota car grill -- brand logo - Toyota repair - radiator

Note: These repair steps apply specifically to older Toyota Camry model years, 1997 through 2001.

A Toyota Camry can often live to an old age and continue to be reliable. You will help the car make it farther along the rode by performing routine maintenance. One key maintenance element is to repair a radiator that is worn by corrosion or otherwise becomes damaged. When you have a Toyota Camry from 1997-2001, below are the steps to replace the radiator.

Caution: You want to make certain that engine coolant is kept safely away from your children and pets, within a resealable container. Also take care of any spills right away. It can kill a person or animal to eat antifreeze – and to make matters worse, it has a sweet taste. For the same concern related to the toxicity of the substance, you want to protect yourself when you perform this Toyota repair by putting on protective eyewear, gloves, and clothing. Finally, you could get badly burned performing this work on your Camry; stay safe by not opening your radiator cap if the antifreeze temperature is 100 °F or greater.

Step 1 – Gather these items to complete your repair:

  • New radiator
  • Resealable container
  • Engine coolant
  • Distilled water.

Step 2 – Once you have your supplies ready at your side, you want to unhook the negative battery cable. At the bottom of the radiator is a drain plug. Loosen it. Now let the engine coolant flow into the resealable container. You can increase the rate at which the fluid runs by loosening the radiator cap.

Step 3 – Disconnect the outlet hoses and inlet hose on your radiator. Unhook the outlet hoses and inlet hose on the oil cooler as well. You will see clamps on the wire harness that is attached to the fan shroud. Unhook those, as well as the fan motor’s connector.

Step 4 – Take out the bolts on the fan mount, along with the fan itself and the motor. Reach into the engine compartment and remove your radiator assembly. Your fan is currently connected to the old radiator. Disconnect it and attach it to the replacement radiator.

Step 5 – Now gradually, conscientiously push your replacement radiator into the engine compartment. Tighten your radiator and fan bolts and clamps.

Step 6 – Returning to the wire harness on the fan shroud, reattach its clamps. Rehook the fan motor’s connector. Reinstall the inlet and outlet hoses on the oil cooler, and reinstall the inlet and outlet hoses on the radiator. Grab your reverse battery connector and reattach it.

Step 7 – Using a mixture of 1-part distilled water and 1-part engine coolant (half each), fill the radiator. Note: Pour coolant into your radiator gradually so that there are no air pockets created.

Step 8 – Go ahead and start your car. You want to actually warm up the engine so that any excess air can escape from the vehicle. Shut off the car again. Bring your coolant back up to the top.

Sustainability Tip: As long as your engine coolant is not contaminated and is relatively fresh, you can reuse it – which is the environmentally friendly way to go. “If you choose not to reuse it,” suggested It Still Runs, “take it to a garage or hazardous waste facility where it can be disposed of properly.”

To take that advice locally here in Boulder, the Boulder Hazardous Materials Management Facility (West of Boulder County Recycling Center / 1901 63rd St. / Boulder, CO 80301; 720-564-2251) accepts coolant and a litany of other household wastes for disposal, as described on the Boulder County website.

Toyota News & Information

Your radiator fix should now be complete. Having finished that Toyota repair, we can now turn to a lighter subject – interesting stories in the news that might interest you as a Toyota owner. Here are a couple of notable reports:

  • Toyota gets 4 of top 10 for longevity
  • Battery exchange explored to keep EVs going

Toyota gets 4 of top 10 for longevity

We should all be concerned about sustainability, and the choices we make related to transportation heavily impact our carbon footprints. That said, there is a strong argument for the full-sized SUV in a new study of automotive longevity. The research, conducted by used car site, found that full-size SUVs are the likeliest model to achieve 200,000 miles or more. The data used for the study is from 13.5 million used cars (1981 to 2017 model-years) that changed hands during 2017.

The Toyota Sequoia is the number-one most likely car to make it to 200,000 miles, although only a fraction make it: 6.6%. Two other full-size SUVs rounded out the top three: the Ford Expedition (at 5.4%) and Chevrolet Suburban (at 5.2%).

The reason that large SUVs last so long in comparison to other types of cars is that they are built for “truck-like durability” with a body-on-frame design, noted iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly, who added that “[t]hese vehicles can also be easier to repair than smaller SUVs, which can contribute to their longevity.”

Ly’s comments directly tie into the issue of gaz-guzzling that is so central to the SUV: body-on-frame construction is bad for fuel efficiency because of its hefty weight –significantly outdone by unibody, in which the body and chassis are basically a single component.

Setting aside that issue, let’s look at the top 10 models in terms of getting to the 200,000-mile mark:

1.) 6.6% of Toyota Sequoias

2.) 5.4% of Ford Expeditions

3.) 5.2% of Chevrolet Suburbans

4.) 4.2% of Toyota 4Runners

5.) 3.9% of GMC Yukons

6.) 3.8% of Chevrolet Tahoes

7.) 2.8% of GMC Yukons

8.) 2.6% of Toyota Tacomas

9.) 2.4% of Toyota Avalons

10.) 2.4% of Honday Odysseys.

The road lives of these models are much better than average; among all car models, just 1.2% hit 200,000 miles, per this analysis.

Also note that the first two models that are not large SUVs are both Toyota, the Tacoma midsize pickup and the Avalon full-size sedan.

Battery exchange explored to keep EVs going

A sore point related to electric cars is that you must recharge them by hooking them up to electrical power. Even if a fast charging system is used, it will often take about an hour to get an electric vehicle (EV) completely recharged.

To address this pain-point, a battery exchange system is under development at Toyota for smaller electric vehicles, according to the Japanese site NHK. Although this system would be established just in Japan at this stage, it is still interesting in terms of the carmaker’s direction. The project would place stations throughout Japan that would allow car owners to easily exchange their batteries and stay on the road. Stations to allow for battery exchange would also be implemented at Toyota dealerships – where owners would be able to hand over a depleted battery in exchange for one that is 100% charged. This process could take just a few minutes, a similar amount of time to traditional refueling at the pump.

Honest Toyota repair in Boulder

Toyota increasingly has more sustainable car options, but it also has some of the most well-built cars on the road – with its durability proven by how the longevity of its models compare to other brands. Part of getting that great longevity out of a car is by taking car of it, as with replacing the radiator when needed. Do you need help with your radiator or with any other Toyota repair or maintenance? At Independent Motors, we like the Toyota brand so much that many of our employees own and drive them, including our owner Bill, who has driven a Toyota Prius since 2006. See our Toyota repair philosophy.

VW Repair: How to Change Your Serpentine Belt

Volkswagen - VW Repair - Quick Steps to Change Your Serpentine Belt

The alternator, air conditioning compressor, and other engine accessories in your Volkswagen are provided power by a v-ribbed belt or serpentine belt. The good news is that you will not need special tools in order to replace this part. You will not always be able to access the serpentine belt immediately, though: in the Jetta and Golf, you will have to remove an auxiliary v-belt first.

No matter what type of VW model you own, you can use the below steps for replacement – skipping over the v-belt sections as applicable.

Caution: Before you start this Volkswagen repair, you want the car to sit for 2-3 hours so the engine can cool. If you do not allow ample time for cooling, you could get burned.

Removing your VW auxiliary v-belt

  1. Make sure the ground is level. Activate the parking brake.
  2. Lock your steering wheel by turning it all the way to the right.
  3. Look for the ground cable attached to the negative battery terminal, and disconnect it. Apply a wrench to the retaining bolt, loosening it. Remove the clamp from the terminal.
  4. Get a pad and paper. Create a rough diagram of how the belts are arranged around the engine pulleys, so that you can later install them in the exact same way.
  5. Grab a socket and loosen the mounting bolts on the power steering pump. Let the pump slide in the direction of your engine.
  6. Take the v-belt from the engine pulleys, and pull it out of the car.

Replacing your VW serpentine belt

  1. If you have not already done so (#4 above), grab a piece of paper, and make a drawing of the path of your serpentine belt around the engine pulleys.
  2. To release the belt’s tension, manually rotate the tensioner pulley – which you can find right beneath your alternator – away from the belt.
  3. Using your hand, remove the old serpentine belt from the engine.
  4. Look at your diagram of how the pulleys were arranged within the car. Place the new serpentine belt so that it matches the drawing.
  5. Take the serpentine belt, and situate it through the pulleys using the diagram you sketched.
  6. Get the belt tight again by releasing the tensioner pulley.

Installing your auxiliary v-belt

  1. Check the v-belt to ensure that it is not degraded and does not have a crack in it; if it does, you want to replace it.
  2. Thread the v-belt through the pulleys, as indicated by your drawing.
  3. Make sure you have lain the v-belt properly in the engine pulleys so that it is seated correctly.
  4. Move the power steering pump out of the way of the engine, and use your socket to tighten the mounting bolts.

Measuring your v-belt’s deflection

  1. At the longest stretch of the v-belt, put a straight edge on top of the two pulleys.
  2. Use a finger to press in the middle of the belt.
  3. Grab a ruler, and measure how far it is from the belt to the straight edge. The maximum separation you want is 13/64-inch.
  4. Take your socket, and loosen the mounting bolts on the power steering pump until the v-belt is sufficiently tight. Again, move the power steering pump out of the way of the engine. Tighten the bolts again.
  5. Reestablish the connection between your negative battery terminal and the ground cable. Put the clamp back on the terminal, and use a wrench to retighten your retaining bolt.

All steps of this Volkswagen repair are now complete. Your new serpentine belt will keep your car continuing to operate smoothly so that you can get where you need to go.

Note: Beyond replacing serpentine belts as needed, it is also smart to buy a backup belt and keep it in your trunk, as indicated by Jeffrey Caldwell in It Still Runs. “That way if the drive belt breaks while you’re on the road,” he said, “you will not be stranded.”

Volkswagen news & information

With the serpentine belt project finished, we can now take a look at recent Volkswagen news that might be of interest:

  • Two-motored VW racecar to run Pikes Peak
  • Ashton Kutcher’s VW could break world record

Two-motored VW racecar to run Pikes Peak

It is a commonly accepted notion within the automaking industry that racing can be helpful in the development of stronger cars. Prior to starting production of a car, you will often not be able to see its vulnerabilities until you test it at high speeds on a track. Carmakers are also able to bring more people into their dealerships from victory in races or even just the publicity surrounding them. Given these different general reasons to race, a Volkswagen prototype racecar will make its way to Colorado to take on Pikes Peak in a few months.

Volkswagen has another reason to race, related to the sustainable design of the car it is using. At a time when electric cars are increasingly becoming a serious alternative to internal-combustion cars, Volkswagen and its competitors are leveraging racing to show off their technology and make electric car ownership more attractive. Since traditional car racing is on the decline, noted Steve Hanley in CleanTechnica, the electric vehicle racing series Formula E is drawing the attention of many carmakers. The Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model S sedans are example cars that will be featured in racing series.

As a dive into electric racing, Volkswagen is traveling to Pikes Peak with an electric racer featuring dual motors in June. The hill climb that take place there on the 24th is the only race of its type on the planet. The stretch of road runs 12.4 miles, increasing from an elevation of 9,390 feet to 14,110 feet above sea level. Electric cars are actually well-designed for this competition. “Internal combustion engines lose power at higher elevations,” noted Hanley, “but electric motors are unaffected by altitude changes.”

Ashton Kutcher’s VW could break world record

The world record for the sale of a Volkswagen at auction may be broken on April 14, when the VW Microbus or Samba bus from That 70s Show is offered at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach Auction.

No other VW Samba Van, or Microbus, with provenance has ever appeared in an auction, which makes people think that this one could be a record. It is worth noting that when That 70s Show was on the air, the bus was auctioned. It was sold for $28,000 at that point, but that was before the Microbus was a point of focus for collectors. Between that initial sale and today, numerous Samba vans have sold for greater than $100,000, and the collectible car industry has surged incredibly.

Mike Hanlan of New Atlas explains another reason why this car is expected to draw a huge price tag: it celebrates the youth of baby boomers, a group he described as “the people who have now accumulated the majority of the world’s wealth, and the same people who pay millions of dollars for the artifacts of their youth at auctions.”

Honest auto repair in Boulder

Hopefully the above steps have been helpful to you in understanding the replacement of your serpentine belt. If you would rather have an expert perform that repair or any other, we can help. At Independent Motors, 90% of the auto repair we do is repeat business. See our Volkswagen repair philosophy.

Subaru Repair: How to Break in Your New Engine + Oil Change Schedule

Subaru logo on steering wheel - Subaru Repair - How to Break in Your New Engine

Many car owners do not realize that when they drive a new car off the lot, their engine’s long-term health will be greatly influenced by their treatment of the car during the first few weeks on the road. You may have any of three different engines in a Subaru –turbocharged or naturally aspirated 4-cylinder, or 6-cylinder, all of which are horizontally opposed – and all of which require a proper break-in period at the beginning.

While we want to help with Subaru repair as needed, we also want to help you avoid large expenses with preventive strategies. Best practices to maintain and drive your car properly during the extremely important early period of ownership are as follows:

Tip 1. Start slow. Wait until you have at least 1000 miles on your odometer before you exceed 4000 revolutions per minute (RPM). Simply exhibiting patience with the car in this manner allows you to keep the engine stronger for all driving scenarios. Plus, keeping it slow at first lowers your risk of burning oil in the years to come by letting your piston rings seat properly within the combustion chambers.

Tip 2. Do not brake or speed up suddenly. As indicated in #1, you want to take it easy on your engine in its first few weeks on the road. You make it possible for the components within the engine to continue to fit well long into the life of the car by only accelerating moderately as you accrue the first thousand miles. As with acceleration, you will develop the correct mating of the pads with the brake drums or discs by applying the brakes lightly from day one. You will potentially cause your brake components to break if you are using the brakes heavily prior to completion of seating.

Tip 3. Avoid cruise control. You want your car to be speeding up and slowing down a bit, going through a spectrum of RPM levels, rather than keeping it on cruise control and having it rev at a consistent rate. You want the engine to be exposed to diverse engine conditions within a safe range (similar to stretching a muscle).

Tip 4. You want to take the car out on different types of routes, including city and highway roads. As with avoiding your cruise control, you can help the internal parts of your engine be ready to take on a range of engine RPM by using different driving scenarios. You want both the braking and the acceleration of your Subaru to be lively but conscientious (remembering moderation but also sticking to the task of “breaking in” the engine).

Tip 5. Get your oil changed at the first recommended point. See the full information on oil changes below – but the standard is 6 months or 6000 miles, whichever comes first. Whatever the case for your model, it will give the general health of your engine a boost by getting an oil change on time, with high-quality synthetic oil. Your oil change will be a bit different depending on the intake method and size of your Subaru engine. To make certain you use the right oil type and that you follow the change schedule correctly, check the car manual, although guidelines for the 2017 lineup are below. Often mechanics will suggest getting two oil changes within the break-in period, underscoring the gravity of this stage in the car’s life. To be clear, this recommendation is to get an oil change “halfway through the first oil change interval, and then performing another at the first scheduled change,” as indicated in It Still Runs.

Tip 6. Be responsive to your dashboard. You do not want to drive the engine when it is cold. Be aware of the blue “cold engine” light; if you see it, warm up the engine before proceeding.

Note of Caution: If you want to keep your Subaru healthy and prevent engine problems in the months and years ahead, use engine break-in best practices, as described above. It is worth noting that these strategies are not as critical for the newer cars as for the older ones. However, your chances of going hundreds of thousands of miles with relatively few issues will be greatly improved by careful engine treatment as you go your first 1000 miles (and continue with excellent Subaru repair and service as needed). On the other hand, failing to be conscientious could mean that you do not the value out of the car that you want.

Subaru oil change schedule

The interval of 6 months or 6000 miles, whichever comes first, is mentioned as a standard for new Subaru cars above. That interval applies to all 2017 and 2018 Subaru Outback, BRZ, Forester, Crosstrek, Impreza, Legacy, WRX, and STI. If you have a different year of the car, check your manual for your interval.

As indicated above, some mechanics will suggest doubling up the oil change during the first interval (which would mean also changing it at 3 months or 3000 miles, whichever comes first, in the case of the 2017 and 2018 Subaru models above). As noted in, it may be a good idea to change the oil ahead of the standard interval, “especially with hard driving, cold/hot weather, or manual transmissions that are revved up or downshifted.”

The Subaru owner’s manual backs up that perspective. The carmaker mentions that there are also various scenarios in which you want to refill the oil prior to the oil change – important since the rate at which engine oil is consumed increases under certain conditions. Those scenarios are:

  • During the break-in phase of initial ownership
  • If you filled the car with low-quality oil (or if you cannot verify oil quality, as when you buy a Subaru used)
  • If you used oil that is of the wrong viscosity
  • If you use high engine speeds (i.e., operating it at high RPM)
  • If you carry heavy loads in your Subaru
  • If you connect a trailer to the car
  • If you have lengthy stints of idling
  • If you are in traffic jams or other stop-and-go scenarios
  • If the external temperature is extreme during the car’s operation
  • If you are speeding up and slowing down the car more often than normal
  • If you have engine braking implemented.

In these situations, it is a good idea to check your oil every other time you refuel your car. Plus, you want to get oil changes more often as well. If your car is consuming more than 1 quart of oil per 1200 miles, you want to bring it to a mechanic to determine why consumption is abnormally high.

As a sample (otherwise check your manual), here are the types of oil that should be used in 2017 versions of these Subaru models and engine sizes:

  • Outback 5 L – 0w-20 synthetic
  • Outback 3.6 L – 5w-30 conventional or synthetic
  • Legacy 2.5 L – 0w-20 synthetic
  • Legacy 3.6 L – 5w-30 conventional or synthetic
  • Forester 2.5 L – 0w-20 synthetic
  • Forester 2.0 L Turbo – 5w-30 synthetic
  • Crosstrek 2.0 L – 0w-20 synthetic
  • Crosstrek 2.0 L Hybrid – 0w-20 synthetic
  • Impreza 2.0 L – 0w-20 synthetic
  • BRZ 2.0 L – 0w-20 synthetic
  • WRX 2.0 L Turbo – 5w-30 synthetic
  • STI 2.5 L Turbo – 5w-30 synthetic

Honest Subaru repair & advice

Knowing how to care for your car for yourself as needed can be helpful for your finances. However, you will probably have situations in which you want the help of a mechanic for your Subaru repair or maintenance. At Independent Motors, 90% of the auto repair we do is repeat business. See our Subaru repair philosophy.

Toyota Repair: How to Reset Your Oil Change Light

Classic Blue Toyota Tail Light - Toyota Repair - How to Reset Your Oil Change Light

For a few years, just about every new car that has been built contains an oil change reminder light. This light simply notifies the owner of the vehicle when it is time to get oil service. Oil should be changed routinely according to schedules listed within car manuals. The way the light works is by illuminating once the car has gone that specified interval distance beyond the last reset of the oil change light – which is assumed to coincide with the last oil change. It is important once you change the oil in your car to reset the light so that it will be triggered at the appropriate time. You do not need to get under the hood for this reprogramming; it is performed within the cabin. This small piece of maintenance is not technically a Toyota repair but is key to understand so that you use best practices when changing your oil.

Step 1 – Get your key into the right position. Sit in your car’s driver seat. Check the instrument panel and see if a “check oil” indicator is lit. If so, turn your ignition key until it is “Off” but with the odometer number still visible.

Step 2 – Press down reset while starting the car. Locate the trip reset knob and press in on it, holding it down for 5 seconds. Now start the car again. It should turn off your oil light and bring the odometer trip reading to 000000 when you restart the car while holding down the trip reset knob.

Step 3 – Check your work. Assuming that you held down the reset knob while restarting the car, you should see that the oil change indicator is no longer lit. If you still see it, check the manual for your car for further troubleshooting. Another option if you are having difficulty is to “[c]onsult a mechanic who specialized in Toyota vehicles for further instructions,” as suggested by It Still Runs.

That is all for this Toyota repair or maintenance project. With the above steps complete, you should no longer have an issue with your oil change light. It should be reset and ready to let you know the next time an oil change is needed.

Toyota News & Information

Having completed that project, we can look at recent news articles that may be of interest to you as a Toyota owner:

  • Toyota to take on Lyft & Uber
  • #2 still isn’t too shabby
  • Mazda & Toyota join to open Alabama plant

Toyota to take on Lyft & Uber

2017 was not exactly a great publicity year for Uber. There were months of scandals for the first half of the year, one after another, prompting the company’s hiring of former US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate, eventually resulting in the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick on June 13 – the same day on which David Bonderman, who was on the Uber board, also resigned after making a sexist joke in response to Holder’s findings. It was a mess.

Given the tumultuous year for cloud car services, Toyota jumped into the mix in smart taxi, where it could use its position to advance self-driving tech. The specific point of entry for Toyota is in creating a program that has similar characteristics to cloud taxi services, in collaboration with Japan Taxi.

The arrangement is a three-way venture between one of the world’s top carmakers, esteemed telecommunications firm KDDI, and one of Japan’s most prominent taxi services. The Toyota smart taxi project will be an avenue through which the manufacturer is able to gather a huge volume of data to be used for development of autonomous driving. Some in the automotive field are excited about this new effort; CNET’s Kyle Hyatt wrote, “This is great news if you’re in Japan and need to go somewhere.”

The key of the project is the TransLog component. Toyota outfitted each car in Japan Taxi’s fleet with this device; it is hooked up to a cloud artificial intelligence (AI) dispatch platform. By interconnecting all cars and data in this manner, a car service is better able to distribute its fleet in parts of town in a way that optimizes efficiency. Car driving data, video, and GPS information is all fed through TransLog for big data analysis as well, yielding additional value for the automaker.

Beyond information coming in from the cars within a taxi service, the algorithms it uses are enhanced with weather forecasts and smartphone data. With the model in place, the accuracy of placement within the city, per standards set by Japan Taxi and Toyota, was 94%.

China has a taxi service called Didi that is about to launch. Along with Didi, Grab, Lyft, and Uber, Toyota will face strong competition. The main advantages that the carmaker has over smaller taxi companies is that it has a huge research and development background, very deep pockets, and the actual automobiles themselves.

#2 still isn’t too shabby

Toyota lost a bit of its luster this year in terms of brand value. Before we get into that somewhat negative report, it is worth noting that this year is not at all a down-year for the carmaker, winning the 2018 Best Car of the Year from Consumer Reports for the Corolla (compact), Camry (midsized), Sienna (minivan), and Highlander (midsized SUV).

Those awards aside, Toyota’s overall brand value did drop lower than one of the other carmakers in 2018, according to analysis from Brand Finance Group.

The market analyst, reporting on its new Auto 100 list, noted that Toyota was 2nd on its list with Mercedes-Benz at the top. Mercedes rose to the top after its brand was estimated at $43.9 billion – a 24% year-over-year improvement. Prompting the rise in brand value was a rise in sales, which ascended at 9.9% to 2.3 million cars. Meanwhile, Toyota’s brand valuation was placed just below Mercedes-Benz at $43.7 billion, followed by BMW at $41.8 billion. Toyota’s primary challenge, according to the researcher, is to strategize China. Brand Finance noted that Chinese consumers “have shied away from the Japanese manufacturer in favour of more aspirational brands such as Mercedes-Benz.”

Mazda & Toyota join to open Alabama plant

As more carmakers open plants in the United States and elsewhere in North America, Mazda and Toyota decided to go in together on one plant in the US – forming a partnership to open an Alabama facility.

The new entity created by this alliance is Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, USA, Inc. (MTMUS). This recently announced body, which has been in development behind the scenes, is going to start its integrated work in Huntsville, Alabama, with the building of a car factory.

The carmakers are members of the partnership to the same degree, 50/50. 150,000 units of two cars, the Toyota Corolla compact and a new Mazda SUV, will be produced at the plant annually. Each of the automakers is contributing $800 million to the project, for a total $1.6 billion budget.

The new president of MTMUS, Masashi Aihara – also an executive officer at Mazda – said that the blended firm hoped to be beloved within the local area. The notion behind the collaboration, said Aihara, is that the union of the cultures and innovations of the two firms will not just yield great vehicles but also “create a plant employees will be proud to work at and contribute to the further development of the local economy and the automotive industry.”

Moving forward with Toyota repair

Toyota continues to innovate and have one of the highest values of any automaker. However, sometimes you need repair and maintenance that goes beyond simply resetting an indicator light. At Independent Motors, we like the Toyota brand so much that many of our employees own and drive them, including Bill, Independent Motors’ owner. See our Toyota repair philosophy.

VW Repair: How to Change Your Thermostat

Blue Volkswagen Bug and Cloudy Sky - VW Repair - How to Change Your Thermostat

VW Repair: How to Change Your Thermostat

The Jetta model, with a liquid-cooled engine, was first released by Volkswagen in the early 1980s. Volkswagen reintroduced the Beetle model as the New Beetle in 1996. Along with the Golf and the Passat, these two models keep the engine cool using radiator fluid instead of air flow. To avoid overheating, a thermostat gauges temperature and reports readings back to the computer. When the thermostat becomes dysfunctional, it is necessary to take it out and put in a new one.

Here are the steps to perform this Volkswagen repair:

Caution: Before proceeding, note that the engine should not be hot when you make this repair. Be certain that the car has had time to cool prior to the work to protect yourself from serious burns.

Step #1 – Drive the car onto auto service ramps. Position the wheel chock in back of the rear wheel.

Step #2 – Beneath the radiator drain valve, position a drain pan that can hold up to two gallons of coolant. Take a ¼-inch ratchet drive and insert it into the drain plug. Let about two gallons of coolant flow from the radiator. This drainage gets the level of fluid down enough that you will not get it on the engine. Once complete, set aside the drain pan; you will reuse the same fluid.

Step #3 – Find the spot at which the engine connects to the upper radiator hose. Loosen the clamp. Pull the hose out of the housing. You should now see the housing for the thermostat.

Step #4 – Take a socket and disconnect the three bolts that keep the housing attached to the engine. The 14-mm socket is most common, but your model may require a different size. Remove the thermostat housing.

Step #5 – Take the old O-ring from the thermostat housing. Put on a new one. A traditional gasket is not used to create the seal, so the O-ring must serve that function.

Step #6 – Take the thermostat that is no longer wanted from the engine and put the replacement part into position. You will know which end of the thermostat should be inside the engine by the big spring on that end of it.

Step #7 – Position the housing of the thermostat over top of it. Use the bolts to secure it. Check the bolts for rounding, rusting, or other corrosion. Replace them if needed.

Step #8 – Hook up the radiator hose again. Use the clamp to lock it into place.

Step #9 – At the radiator’s left side, you will see the fill cap. Open it, and pour the fluid back into the radiator. Make sure there is sufficient time for the radiator to let out air. Once all the fluid is back in the car, close the cap.

That’s all; you are finished with your Volkswagen repair. You should now have a new thermostat in your car so that you know your internal temperature is being properly protected. Your car is safe to drive without concern of overheating.

Volkswagen News & Information

Now that you have changed the thermostat and have that task out of the way, here are some recent news stories that may interest you as a VW owner:

  • VW sales up 6% in February 2018
  • Large segment of VW workforce will get 45 vacation days
  • 50 VW electric cars for German city
  • VW’s marketing chief aligned with blockchain startup

VW sales up 6% in February 2018

Sales for the US division of Volkswagen rose 6% in February, year-over-year (YOY) vs. February 2017. Volkswagen of America noted that the key reason for the sales bump was that its sports utility vehicles were becoming more popular.

The rise of the VW SUV is also a victory for sustainability, with both of the models sold in the United States (since the Touareg was discontinued here) also manufactured in North America. There were 7,486 sales of the Tiguan, which is built in Mexico, in February. There were 4,766 units of the Atlas, produced in Chattanooga, sold as well. That total of 12,252 represented more than half (54%) of all United States February sales by the automaker.

As SUV numbers rose, Passat numbers fell. The sedan, which is produced alongside the Atlas in Tennessee, backslid 50.3% YOY in February, dropping to 3,036.

While the Passat was a weak point, total sales for the US division of Volkswagen hit 26,660, making it the strongest February for the auto manufacturer since 2014.

To look at the first two months of 2018 together, the start – at 51,404 cars – has been 5.7% better than last year.

Large segment of VW workforce will get 45 vacation days

Approximately 120,000 VW union workers have arrived at an arrangement with the automaker that includes a substantial raise and, for some workers, six additional vacation/sick days.

Beginning in May, the union employees will see their salaries boosted 4.3%. During 2019, VW workers will get an additional 2.3% bonus along with benefits within their pensions. Some workers will be able to forego the bonus pay in exchange for six extra personal days (if they either work the night shift, or have parents or kids who require their care).

For the people who do fall within those parameters and decide to go with the extra six off-days, that will mean those individuals get a total, including the public holidays, of 45 paid days off work annually.

VW, Audi and Porsche cars are all manufactured by Volkswagen Group, which has an entire global workforce of approximately 636,000 – 286,000 of whom are in Germany.

The German members of the VW workforce are able to be powerful in negotiations with the multinational corporation because the economy has been expanding quickly and the unemployment rate is down.

50 VW electric cars for German city

In February, Volkswagen gave 50 e-Golf cars to the City of Hamburg. These zero-emission electric cars were part of a partnership between the carmaker and the German port city.

As the new, virtually silent electric cars were given to the city by Volkswagen, the company’s group strategy for new business director, Ludger Fretzen, noted that the 50 vehicles are a step toward healthier air quality.

“The objective of our partnership with Hamburg is to make urban mobility more environmentally compatible and more efficient,” noted Fretzen, who added that this sustainability effort was aligned with VW’s ongoing, long-term green campaign, Roadmap E.

VW’s marketing chief aligned with blockchain startup

IOTA, a blockchain startup, is loosely considered a distributed ledger technology (DLT). As such, it allows computers, for a very contained consumption of resources (and hence cost), to send data and payments securely.

IOTA created a data marketplace that was officially released in November 2017. Along with a major investment from Robert Bosch Venture Capital, that launch has made IOTA a point of focus for international business.

Given the prominence of IOTA, it is noteworthy that VW’s chief digital officer, Johann Jungwirth, joined the IOTA Foundation’s board. His position will be to guide the plans for the foundation and to make recommendations on how IOTA and the carmaker could work in tandem.

Honest Volkswagen repair in Boulder

While Volkswagen sales may be growing in the United States – and while the carmaker may be taking positive steps for workers, the environment, and data security – there will still be times when you need VW repair or routine maintenance. At Independent Motors, 90% of the work we do is repeat business. See our Volkswagen repair philosophy.