Exhaust Notes

Decision Guide


Your awful driving and poor vision won’t necessarily matter in the near future.

By James_Tate Aug 28, 2013 8:43AM

Cars that drive themselves, a science-fiction story in the 1950s and '60s, is starting to become reality. Just this week, Nissan announced its big plans to have multiple self-driving vehicles ready for retail sale in seven short years, if and when federal and state regulators agree.

That means by 2020, when baby boomers’ vision starts to blur and reaction times slow to a sometimes-fatal rate, there will be a safe option, other than hiring a driver or staying at home. 

According to recent data from the Administration on Aging, by 2030, roughly 72 million people – 19 percent of the U.S. population – will be 65 years or older. With age comes a decrease in driving confidence and capabilities. With current life expectancy pushing all-time highs, the autonomous car actually seems to make sense.


Prototype intrusion-detection device to debut at upcoming computer security conference

By Douglas Newcomb 9 hours ago

Car anti-hacking device. Courtesy Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek.Last year, digital security experts Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek made headlines by hacking a Ford Escape and a Toyota Prius and publicizing the results.

Now the pair are proposing a possible a solution to keep car hackers at bay via a prototype intrusion-detection device that they plan to debut at the Black Hat USA security conference in Las Vegas next month.

Using a laptop plugged into the data port under the dash of the two vehicles, they demonstrated how hackers with similar access could wreak havoc, ranging from honking horns to disabling brakes.

Their car hacking experiments were part of a military-funded project completed while the two were on sabbatical from their day jobs, Miller as a security researcher for Twitter and Valasek as director of vehicle security research for the consulting firm I/O Interactive. Their goal was to show how cars are vulnerable to digital attacks, although they acknowledge that a hacker would need the same unfettered access to accomplish the same sort of mischief. 

Analysis finds most ragtop purchasers are over 45 and have annual incomes above $175,000.

By Douglas Newcomb 12 hours ago

2015 Ford Mustang Convertible. Photo by Ford.Think of convertibles and the image that typically comes to mind is of a carefree young person, couple or group of friends driving with the top down, sunglasses on and the wind whipping through their hair. But in reality, most convertible drivers are graying, empty-nest baby boomers wearing prescription lenses and considering the returns on their 401(k) accounts.

That’s the picture that a recent Experian Automotive analysis paints of people who purchased convertibles in the first quarter of this year. By looking at vehicle registrations between January and March, the credit reporting agency found that more than 72 percent of consumers buying a ragtop during that period were more than 45 years old, whereas only 60 percent of all average new car buyers were of the same age.

And given the age of these convertible buyers, it’s not surprising that Experian also found that those who purchased a drop-top this winter in anticipation of warmer weather ahead were also wealthier, better educated and had no kids at home when compared to all other new car shoppers.


Mid-engine hybrid sports car destroyed in Germany, no one hurt.

By AutoWeek 12 hours ago

There's a reason manufacturers extensively test new models, and the incredible fire damage seen on this Acura NSX prototype offers a glimpse at what can go wrong.

We don't know the circumstances surrounding the fire, which occured during testing on the Nurburgring, but the driver reportedly made it out of the NSX unscathed. It's safe to say the car will be a writeoff, however.

"Acura can confirm that an NSX prototype experienced a fire today while testing at the Nurburgring. We make safety a top priority, and fortunately no injuries occurred," the company said in a statement. "We are investigating the cause but as the vehicle is still under development, we're not in a position to share details.  While an incident like this is unfortunate, the development of the NSX continues its progress toward its highly anticipated launch."


Recall expands on earlier minivan and crossover recall; 2005-2007 models are affected

By Exhaust Notes Wed 2:45 PM
Chrysler is recalling up to 792,300 Jeeps for faulty ignition switches that can be inadvertently knocked out of the "on" position, shutting off the engine and disabling the airbags.

The 2005-2007 Grand Cherokee and 2006-2007 Commander have been under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since June. Earlier this month, Chrysler recalled 696,000 minivans and crossovers -- also previously under investigation -- for the same faulty switch. The exact number hasn't been determined, but up to 649,900 vehicles may be affected in the U.S.

Chrysler recommends owners to take everything off their keychains, including the ring, until dealers start the fix in mid-September.  

A rash of problems affects many 2011-2015 General Motors models.

By Exhaust Notes Wed 11:20 AM

General Motors is recalling 717,949 cars in the U.S. for loose bolts, bad welds, steering failures and more problems, the automaker said Wednesday.

The six separate recalls now bring the automaker's yearly total to 60 recalls and 26.4 million cars, some of which may be duplicated under multiple recalls. No filings with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were yet available.

On 414,333 cars with power height-adjustable driver and passenger seats, a bolt securing the height adjuster to the seat can loosen and fall out, which can then cause the seat to "move up and down freely." GM said it knew of one crash and three injuries related to the problem. Affected models include the 2011-2012 Chevrolet Camaro, Buick Regal and Buick LaCrosse; and the 2010-2012 Equinox, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX.


325-hp turbo V6 provides better power-to-weight than 5.0-liter V8.

By AutoWeek Wed 9:41 AM

Ford’s new 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine will make 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque when it debuts in the aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150. A new naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and the 5.0-liter V8 will also be available in the pickup.

The 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine has a new design, according to Ford, and improves the power-to-weight ratio of the F-150 by 15 percent over the 2014 model with the 5.0-liter V8. In 4x2 trim, the new EcoBoost-equipped truck has a 2,250-pound payload rating and a tow rating of 8,500 pounds.

Ford firsts for the new engine include stop/start technology and a compacted graphite iron cylinder block, with knowledge borrowed from the company’s Power Stroke diesel. The new naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 makes 283 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque, replacing the 302-hp, 278-lb-ft 3.7-liter V6 from 2014. The engine allows a payload of 1,910 pounds and is good for towing 7,600 pounds.


Kentucky city opens municipal fuel station to public, raising cries of ‘socialism’ from private stations.

By James_Tate Wed 7:31 AM

The little city of Somerset, Kentucky, is a hotspot for vacationers headed to Lake Cumberland. To combat the city's higher gas prices during the summer vacation season compared to surrounding areas, Mayor Eddie Girdler enacted a bold solution for his 11,000 residents: a city-run gas station with below-average prices.

Predictably, the move has set off a firestorm of controversy in Somerset, with some praising the effort to bring overall area gas prices down and others decrying the move as “socialism.”

Last Saturday, the Somerset Fuel Center opened to the public, selling regular unleaded gasoline only at $3.36 per gallon. The effect of the Fuel Center on area pricing was immediate. The Associated Press reported that four nearby stations dropped their regular unleaded prices to $3.39 per gallon that first day from an average in the mid-$3.40s during the week.


New driver assist systems add extra layer of protection for occupants of upcoming all-new crossover.

By Douglas Newcomb Tue 2:52 PM

Volvo run-off road protection. Image by Volvo.Driver assist systems ranging from active cruise control to lane-keep assist are making driving easier and safer, and are also becoming more common on a variety of vehicles. That means that Volvo, an automotive brand synonymous with safety for decades, has to go even further to stand out from an increasingly competitive and safer crowd of cars.

For the launch of its upcoming 2016 XC90 crossover, Volvo is debuting two new driver assistance systems: run-off road protection and auto brake at intersections.

“These two world-firsts are further examples of how new technologies target substantial real-life traffic problems,” Lotta Jakobsson, senior technical specialist for safety at Volvo Cars Safety Center, said in a statement.



  • Cliff Atiyeh

    Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
    In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)

  • Doug Newcomb

    Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
    In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V

  • James Tate

    James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
    In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5

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