In July of 1981, Israel was bombing Beirut and fuel prices were sky high. This week, 25 years later and almost to the day, Israel is once again bombing Beirut and gas prices have reached those same plus $3 heights, on average and across the nation for the first time. That’s according to a Lundberg survey of around 7,000 US stations. It found that the highest price for a gallon of gas was $3.28 in San Diego. And while it may be hard to feel sorry for people who live in sunny San Diego, that’s still a significant price at the pump. According the government’s EIA office, in fact, the average west coast price per gallon was $3.14 – up a whopping 65 cents from last year.
One way you can get better fuel economy is to replace old and worn tires on your car. And for 200,000 people out there, there’s an even better reason. You’re still riding around on defective Firestones from 2001. That’s right. Most of us still remember the recall six years ago, when Explorers were tipping over like cows. Well, it seems that there are still a few of the 6.5 million recalled tires on the road. So, if you own a Ford Explorer or Mercury Mountaineer built in 2001 or later, make sure to check your tires! Then again, if you are still riding on bad Firestone rubber that would mean that you’ve probably already put 90,000 miles on the same set of tread.
Those planning to buy a Prius and escape spiraling fuel prices should move fast, as the full federal tax break will now only be available until October. Toyota has sold 60,000 hybrids, see, and now the Prius will no longer get a nice fat $3,150 credit. At that time, the Prius will qualify for a credit of just half, $1,575. Psst --- Honda has yet to hit the limit. Our government has begun talks on “what to do,” meaning they can’t decide whether to eliminate the 60,000 vehicle limit or make another E85 plug for Chrysler, Ford and GM. It’s unlikely to hurt sales of the Prius, however, because just about any politician can spot a vote-getting no-brainer like this one that takes effect in, ahem, October.
What probably will impact Toyota sales, however, are recalls. And they’ve had few lately -- over a million vehicles recalled around the globe so far this year, including 400,000 SUVs in the US just last week for faulty center console clips that may impede with the accelerator. Worse yet, there’s an investigation into past Toyota recall practices; the Japanese government is looking into whether quality-control managers delayed a recall filing that could have prevented a road accident in 2004. Poised to pass GM as the biggest automaker in the world by next year, Toyota late last week said that they were sorry, and that they’d work harder at their quality in the future.
Ford is rolling out the all-new 2007 Expedition, for sale in September. Extensively redesigned, the Expedition will battle GM’s lineup of newly redesigned SUVs. On sale in September, Ford will offer the Expedition in an XL size – otherwise known as the EL. Sales for the Expedition are expected to be down, even with a new model, as buyers stare hard at the letters “MPG” on the window sticker.
If you buy a GM SUV and run out of gas, well, you can at least call OnStar. And starting later this month, GM will upgrade its service with ways to improve fuel economy, such as vehicle emissions, how many more miles before the next oil change, among other benefits. There’ no truth to the rumor that OnStar will also fill up your tank.
Want a car with sex appeal? Then try out a Mazda Miata or a Hyundai Tiburon? Road and Travel Magazine, a publication for upscale and professional women, reports that the sexiest, hottest and wildest cars on the road include the Corvette (up to 25 percent purchased by women) the Charger (just think of Bo and Cooter…… hot!), and the Pontiac Solstice. If you doubt that the Miata fits the profile, consider that in the recent animated movie Cars, all the car groupies were…Miatas. And anyway – have you ever seen one in White? Muy Caliente! The rest of the list: BMW Z4, Ford Mustang, Honda S2000, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Nissan 350Z Roadster...