Q. What is the world’s
fastest production car? I bet it’s a Ferrari, but a friend
claims it’s a Lamborghini. Who wins the bet? –
E.N., New York City
A. You both lose, at least as of June, 2010. The new Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport achieved a new land speed world record for production cars that month on Volkwsagen’s proving grounds, near Wolfsburg, Germany. The 1,200-horsepower car hit 268 mph.
Q. What are the best things to take on a family’s long summer vacation car trip to reduce stress? – E.H., Chicago
A. Music is a “must” on such trips to help ease anxiety, say nearly half of respondents to a telephone survey conducted for CarMax Inc., a national used car seller. The survey said some 42 percent of respondents—some 500 parents with kids aged 3 to 15-- rated the stress level for upcoming summer car trips a “5” or higher on a 10-point scale—and that on average the trip would be about 8.5 hours one-way. When asked which of the following could respondents “not live without” on long family car trips, they mentioned the following: music (46 percent), movies (17 percent), books (16 percent) and gaming devices (11 percent). Asked about a “must-have” accessory for a long family trip, respondents mentioned GPS/navigation and DVD systems (both 28 percent), extra cupholders (14 percent), car rack and folding or removable seats (both 8 percent) and extra power supplies (7 percent).
Q. Is it easier to start a cold engine with a simple carburetor or complicated fuel-injection system? – J.E., Santa Fe. N.,M.
A. It’s much easier with today’s fuel injection. You just twist the ignition key (or push the increasingly popular engine start/stop button) and a cold engine should start immediately. With a carburetor, found on nearly all older autos, one often must push the gas pedal down at least once, before turning the ignition key to start a cold engine. Older drivers know this. Many younger ones, who aren’t familiar with the correct starting procedure for fuel-injected engines, keep twisting the ignition key and wonder why the car won’t start. They thus occasionally “flood” the engine with fuel.
Q. Older folks such as myself remember when yesteryear’s tires weren’t very good, compared to today’s far more sophisticated ones. But I know tire trouble still can occur. How can I avoid some of it? – K.C., Arlington, Texas
A. Even the best modern tires don’t carry your vehicle’s weight—pressure inside them does, notes the Tire Rack, a large independent tire tester and major tire seller. Underinflated tires provide less traction, reduce fuel economy, wear out prematurely and suffer unnoticeable and irreparable damage that compromises their performance and safety, it says. Also, driving through just one large pothole can weaken a tire, reducing its long-term durability, bend a wheel, reduce ride quality and knock a vehicle out of alignment, reducing handling and tire life. Slow down as much as traffic allows if it’s impossible to avoid a pothole. Drive around puddles because they can hide deep rain-filled potholes. Finally, road lanes being repaired often have tire-damaging sharp edges where the old pavement was ground away. Slow when entering and exiting where the lane was removed. There’s often about a two-inch difference if a road crew hasn’t smoothed the transition back to the original level.
Q. I notice a growing interest
increasingly sophisticated in-car electronics being offered. It used to
be that cell phones were the most popular in-car communications device.
– J.W., Los Angeles
A. I’d guess that cell phones remain the most popular such device. But, as a growing number of vehicle owners move from traditional cell phones to smartphones, their interest in key communication and connectivity-related features for their vehicle also has increased, says a J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study. “Vehicle owners, particularly those with smartphones, are still using their devices inside a vehicle and may be looking toward manufacturers and suppliers alike to develop technologies that can enhance, simplify or potentially eliminate the need for unsafe phone usage in the vehicle,” the study said.
Q. I enjoy your site’s classic/collector car section, but notice that prices for many such vehicles still are high, despite our lousy economy. – E.G. Dearborn, Mich.
A. The days of paying only a few thousand dollars for a classic/collector car (usually a pre-1972 model) are gone because demand for desirable classic and collector cars (not your aunt’s 1976 Buick six-cylinder sedan) has increased. For one thing, they’re not making any more. For another, baby boomers can afford autos they could only dream about when young. While some such cars have declined in value, many owners are holding on to them, hoping their prices will rise again. Ones that bring top dollar are restored or in top original condition. Buy one in good condition because restoring a marginal one can be a financial black hole. Many can be bought for reasonable prices, but avoid overpriced ones such as the 1969 Chevy Camaro Z28.