The 5 Things New Cars Have That We Can’t Live Without

Heated seats, climate control, smart door handles, powerful stereos, and power liftgates are some of the few features that we love about new cars. Manufacturers are always looking for unique ways to enhance our driving experience, a feat typically achieved by introducing new or. Improved features. 

For many car enthusiasts, these features are a ‘must-have’ as they make life on the road easier. Here are the top five new features modern cars have, and you can’t do without them.

Heated Seats and Side Mirrors.

Heated seats are particularly helpful during winter. Initially, you had to wear gloves and cover yourself in layers of clothes during the winter, but now you can have your car seats warm you up. With just a button press, the steering wheel and the seats are all heated, and you are warm enough to drive. A heated side mirror feature allows you to drive seamlessly without opening the car window to remove snow.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Adaptive cruise control is a great feature for road trips. The feature allows the car to self-drive reducing the need for you to become overly worked out by concentrating for long hours. You can easily multitask as you can now focus on eating that burrito, knowing well that adaptive cruise control is your third eye while on the road.

The feature also is helpful in busy city streets. Though it may be tiresome to always be on the lookout for the car in front of you, with adaptive cruise features, you can have the peace of mind to let the car take care of those situations by calculating the vehicle’s distance in front of you as you drive.

Smart Door Handles

Smart door handles are one of those innovations that are helpful, especially when you may need help operating the doors. You don’t need to use a lot of effort to open the door because you can either use voice recognition or an app to open and close your door.

Some cars have apps that you can install on your phone and open the door right from your phone. Isn’t that an amazing feature? The only downside is that when you are hacked, it could be a scary ordeal.

Software Upgrades

Car brands like Tesla have numerous software upgrades that can overly increase the car’s efficiency and performance in general. This feature increases the safety precautions of the car and reliability in the long run. Tesla uses this kind of update on its AI system, and the feedback from the clients has been nothing but positive reviews.

Electric hydraulic

Electric hydraulics are superb features that increase the levels of comfort inside the car. You could be travelling through rough terrain, but you might not even notice since the shock absorption quality is remarkable. You can also travel for long hours without fatigue.

Auto Makers: US Stelantis (Part 4C) 2nd half

The best way to tackle Car Manufacturers in the US is to break them up by category. We started with Ford and GM earlier this month. Now it’s time for the “parent company” car maker you’ve probably never heard of even though they are currently responsible for many long standing and household recognized brands.

Later in this series we’ll get to some of the the start ups and those that have been phased out or gone out of business.

StelantisRecap from 1st Half

Vital Stats: 2021-Present, Headquartered in Amsterdam.

Ever heard of Stellantis? You’ve probably heard of Chrysler and assumed that was the third spoke in the US automotive “Big Three.” Stellantis formed in 2021 as a multinational automotive manufacturing corporation. In order to understand this merger you must first know what happened to Chrysler, detailed below, but in short it became the Italian-American conglomerate Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).

FCA joined in a 50-50 cross-border merger with the French PSA Group. Upon forming Stellantis became the fifth largest automaker in the world, behind ToyotaVolkswagenHyundai, and General Motors. At the time of the merger, Stellantis had approximately 300,000 employees, and manufactured in 30 countries. Sales are worldwide in 130 countries.

Major brands include  AbarthAlfa RomeoChryslerCitroënDodgeDSFiatFiat ProfessionalJeepLanciaMaseratiMoparOpelPeugeotRam and Vauxhall. This article will focus on the US concerns since this is a US Automaker post. Other car makers will be covered with the respective countries where the brand is most commonly associated. For example, while Vauxhall has long been thought of as Chrysler of the UK most Americans are unfamiliar and unaware the brand even exists.

The deal is estimated to save the companies $4.22 billion. While the merger is thought of as 50-50 PSA got six out of the 11 board members and retained their CEO at the helm of the newly formed company. PSA shareholders paid a fee to acquire their shares in the new company which went to FTA shareholders to compensate them for differences in valuations. It looks to us like a David ate Goliath situation purely for the glory of becoming the #4 car maker in the world.

Jeep

Vital Stats: 1941-Present, Headquartered in Toledo, OH.
Formed by Willys-Overland in 1941.
Merged with Kaiser Motors in 1953.
Acquired by AMC in 1970.
Acquired by Chrysler in 1987.

This history of jeep is fascinating. The jeep is just different from the ground up from most other passenger vehicles. Unusual for a US maker–it’s headquartered outside Michigan. It’s an iconic shape that many automobile manufacturers around the globe feel free to replicate in some fashion. There is also military use which has come back in a manor of speaking.

During the 80 years since the first jeep was built their have been luxury versions, vans and even a truck. With roughly 2400 dealerships holding franchise rights to sell Jeep-branded vehicles if Jeep were spun off into a separate company, it would be a skosh bigger than Chrysler is without it (estimated value $22 to $33 billion). Let’s clear this up some.

The origin of the name is very fitting. You may be familiar with US military terms like FUBAR and SNAFU which go all the way back to WWI. Jeep was, prior to US entering WWII a slang term referencing something General Issue like soldiers and rifles. The term General Purpose got shortened to GP to Jee-P. The vehicle itself was a work horse and quickly became associated with the European view of American Soldiers–reliable, rugged, hard working, lacking refinement but able to get the job done when all means have failed. Jeeps quickly became the light military vehicle of choice for the allies and their military use spread around the globe over the next few decades.

Ford Pygmy

Jeep is not patented and trademarked as design or a term. Therefore jeep without a capitol “J” is the name of sports utility vehicles around the globe if they look like a Jeep. During WWII, a jeep was abandoned on a Japanese Island and the Japanese car maker Toyota created their own version, which explains the Landcruiser and FJ series from them. How in the heck does that happen? Prototypes are closely held secrets, what made Jeep a type of vehicle like pickup or sedan, instead of an exclusive model from one car company?

1940’s Willys Jeep

The origin of the design is found WWII. The US government saw a need for a lightweight 4×4 vehicle that could navigate bombed out roads and ford bridgeless streams. This would be a scout vehicle, capable of shuttling brass to strategic positions, or taking secret messages to command across apocalyptic terrain. They contacted 135 auto makers to compete for a contract. Their specs were so tough and the timeline, 49 days, so tight only two companies seized the chance to go after a lucrative military contract–American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland.

Bantam’s BRC 40

American Bantam recruited a designer, Karl Probst, who turned them down, but the government was able to twist his arm. He produced the design in two days using parts that were already manufactured so factories wouldn’t have to be retooled in order to begin production. The exception was the 4-whee drive drain which could be sourced by Spicer. `With plans submitted in 5 days, including blueprints and cost sheets, Bantam built their prototype by September 1940. It was perfect, except under powered. The other problem was that the Government doubted Bantam could make enough of the vehicles fast enough.

So the government essentially handed everything of to Willy’s who were already working on a prototype and Ford. Each produced independent prototypes and ultimately Willys married a “Go Devil” engine with the Bantam Design. It was heavier than initial specs but the government was happy with the final version. Willys granted the Government nonexclusive use of the design and the Government ordered 1500 vehicles from each of the three companies (Bantam, Willys, and Ford). After making 2600 jeeps Bantam switched to making trailers for the rest of the war.

Ford began stamping the F into many parts on the jeeps they made, so Willys-Overland followed suit. The Government eventually put an end to it, which likely lead to eventually creating a vehicle under the name Jeep in 1945–the Willys CJ-2A.

2022 Wrangler

640,000 Jeeps were produced for the war effort, and distributed to every branch of the US military, as well as the Great Britain and Russian allies.

Jeep imitations around the world include Delahaye and Hotchkiss et Cie, in France,  Mitsubishi Motors and Toyota in Japan, as well as pretty much every original Land Rover in the UK. In the Philippines abandoned jeeps were turned into taxis, often expanded to hold more passengers and later decorated with wild colors. These Jeepneys are part of the culture in the Philippines. In Iceland, the word Jeppi (derived from Jeep) is the general term for an SUV.

Eugene The Jeep

Surplus jeeps sold well in the US after WWII and Willys-Overland tried to grab the Jeep name touting their contribution to the original design and project. The Federal Trade Commission wasn’t buying it. So Willys staked their claim by being the first to market a Civilian Version, their CJ in 1945.

In the end, we can’t even be sure that the term jeep comes from GP as often claimed, as early as 1936 a comic book publisher named Popeyes pet “Eugene the Jeep” created by E. C. Segar.

Ram Trucks

Vital Stats: 2012-Present, Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, slogan “Guts. Glory. Ram.”

If the Ram story seems suspiciously short at 12 years, it’s because Ram was a brand under the Dodge marque prior to being spun off. Ram “Classic” trucks are made at the Warren Truck Plant in Warren, Michigan and at the Saltillo plant in Saltillo, Mexico. New series Ram pickups are made at Sterling Heights Assembly in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

In 2009 Chrysler emerged from chapter 11 a restructured company with Ram, Jeep, Dodge, SRT and Chrysler divisions under their own brand identities and management.

Traditionally, Dodge kept their light truck and other vehicle divisions somewhat separately branded from their cars. For example outside the US they used “Fargo Trucks.” So the idea of individual branding for Ram trucks isn’t a new concept to the company. In this case, it reflects certain opportunities that came with Fiat’s involvement and the departure of Diamler’s involvement.

2022 Ram 2500

Specifically, Dodge car division wants to go after hip, cool, and trendy buyers, while Ram Truck is targeting “Real Truck” customers. Ram is well aware of people who by a truck for the look with functionality an after thought. Given that Fiat owns Iveco who makes powerful commercial hauling vehicles, Ram is able to cozy up to a buyer seeking a functional pickup that looks cool as a happy side effect.

Noteworthy: The 1996 film Twister used a red 1995 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck as the storm-chasing vehicle. 

The long history of Dodge and trucks is spoken to in our post on Dodge. The first-generation “Ram trucks” were introduced in October 1980 and featured a Ram hood ornament first used on Dodge vehicles from 1932 until 1954.

Cummins B Series engine added to the engine lineup in 1989 gave Dodge their first big commercial success as their direct fuel injection didn’t require “glow plugs” like the Ford and GM Diesel trucks did.

Ram got some bad press from their  Super Bowl LII commercial featuring a speech from MLK Jr. in which he actually disapproves of advertisers. One of many examples of marketers attempting to be edgy only to dive headlong across the line of good taste.

Dodge Ram went through 4 generations of development dabbling in a modular design, but mainly optimizing engine, axels, drive trains, transmissions and ultimately giving the entire division a facelift for a consistent and cool new look. In a way, Dodge positioned Ram for success through decades of experimenting and the only thing Dodge couldn’t do for the Ram Truck has now been done by Stelantis through some savvy cross pollinating with other existing brands under their new umbrella.

Ram Trucks likely have a bright future in a competitive US Truck market.

 

Why You Need a Car Accident Police Report

You need a police report when you’re involved in a car accident because it will help establish a connection between the accident and the damage. In doing so, you’ll be insuring yourself against false claims. This article highlights some of key reasons why you need a car accident police report.

Once you have been involved in a car accident (especially a fatal accident), a police report is demanded. You will have to provide this report to an insurance company for them to determine who’s responsible for the crash and how much financial compensation is equivalent to the damages caused.

Official Details

You also need the report for a court case when you (the motorist) are accused of wrongdoing. The report is often prepared or written by the police on the scene. The report includes the following details: statements of those involved (the eyewitness account), the weather conditions, crash-related details, and other essential information that might help understand how the accident happened.

Even though you don’t need a car accident police report to prove your innocence in a court of law, it will save you a lot of time, especially when the accounts on that report favors you. So, what do I mean by the report favoring you? There have been cases where specific details are omitted in the complete account of the report of what happened.

This can be to your disadvantage; therefore, you will have to prepare a different report of your own, explaining the accurate facts about the accident. It would be best if you took these measures to ensure you can win the case and get total compensation from the insurance company.

Moreover, it is equally important to know the state laws regarding what happens to you when you are involved in an accident. Of course, it might be difficult for you to know all the in-state laws, so that’s when you call your attorney, and with their help, you can handle the whole situation at that particular time.

You must report the accident to the police as soon as possible. Ensure you get statements from eyewitnesses at the scene. You can request a crash report at the scene. Ensure you request the crash report once you have reported the incident. You can also request the crash report through online platforms and search through the website of the police department involved at the scene to obtain the report. It’s a good idea to get a business card from each of the officers at the scene.

In conclusion, you need to obtain the crash report since it provides the legal background or context of what happened. The report is needed by the court of law to investigate who is in the wrong. You have also seen how the crash report plays a role in your compensation process since insurers always demand it. Therefore, the report will save you time and ensure you are justified in wrongdoing.

Note: Apart from reporting the accident to the police, ensure that you brief your attorney about the accident. Let the attorney provide you with the legal guidelines so that you respond correctly to the whole situation. An attorney can be a needless expense or a life saver in accidents and court battles over them. Its so hard to tell in advance if you’ll need an attorney so it’s a good idea to look into something like prepaid legal, which can bring down the cost of consulting an attorney early on. Then if you end up not requiring their services you can decide not to and only be out a couple hundred dollars.

Just for Fun #115

Heading out to buy a car that the dealer says was owned by a little old lady who drove it gently?

Get your car inspected before you buy so you don’t overpay. TireKickers!

…because you never really know what happened to your car before it was listed for sale…

Until now, you didn’t know that getting a car inspection before buying will keep you from buying an unsafe car. Now you do. Tire Kickers come to you.

Auto Makers: US Stelantis (Part 4C) 1st half

The best way to tackle Car Manufacturers in the US is to break them up by category. We started with Ford and GM earlier this month. Now it’s time for the “parent company” car maker you’ve probably never heard of even though they are currently responsible for many long standing and household recognized brands. Later in this series we’ll get to some of the the start ups and those that have been phased out or gone out of business.

Stelantis

Vital Stats: 2021-Present, Headquartered in Amsterdam.

Ever heard of Stellantis? You’ve probably heard of Chrysler and assumed that was the third spoke in the US automotive “Big Three.” Stellantis formed in 2021 as a multinational automotive manufacturing corporation. In order to understand this merger you must first know what happened to Chrysler, detailed below, but in short it became the Italian-American conglomerate Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).

FCA joined in a 50-50 cross-border merger with the French PSA Group. Upon forming Stellantis became the fifth largest automaker in the world, behind ToyotaVolkswagenHyundai, and General Motors. At the time of the merger, Stellantis had approximately 300,000 employees, and manufactured in 30 countries. Sales are worldwide in 130 countries.

Major brands include  AbarthAlfa RomeoChryslerCitroënDodgeDSFiatFiat ProfessionalJeepLanciaMaseratiMoparOpelPeugeotRam and Vauxhall. This article will focus on the US concerns since this is a US Automaker post. Other car makers will be covered with the respective countries where the brand is most commonly associated. For example, while Vauxhall has long been thought of as Chrysler of the UK most Americans are unfamiliar and unaware the brand even exists.

The deal is estimated to save the companies $4.22 billion. While the merger is thought of as 50-50 PSA got six out of the 11 board members and retained their CEO at the helm of the newly formed company. PSA shareholders paid a fee to acquire their shares in the new company which went to FTA shareholders to compensate them for differences in valuations. It looks to us like a David ate Goliath situation purely for the glory of becoming the #4 car maker in the world.

Chrysler

Vital Stats: 1925-Present, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan as the flagship of the Chrysler Corporation.

Walter Chrysler founded the company from the remains of the Maxwell Motor Company. In fact it’s a little hard to sort Chryslers motor companies success from what was happening at Maxwell and at Willys-Overland before that. (Our post on Willy’s is coming). Walter was hired to help reorganize Maxwell like he had done for Willy’s, which promptly went out of business. Willies contributed a several parts from their prototype to the original 1924 Chrysler model, while Maxwell contributed it’s factory and employees.

The key to Chryslers success was targeting the budget conscious buyer with a reliable car. Early innovations like the first practical mass-produced four-wheel hydraulic brakes, and rubber engine mounts to reduce vibration helped Chrysler win the #2 slot in sales from 1936 to 1949. Chrysler also developed a ridged rim for their wheel (to keep a deflated tire from flying off) which became industry standard.

Classic Desoto

In 1928, the Chrysler Corporation began stratifying it’s vehicle offerings by price/class and function–an idea Walter stole, we mean, observed while working at GM, Buick division. At the low end they introduced a rebadged version of their 4-cylandar car under the name Plymouth. The midrange they called DeSoto. 1928 was the year Chrysler bought-out the Dodge brothers and initially put them at their high end. With that acquisition Chrysler also picked up Fargo Trucks which became their truck brand. Though in the mid-30’s Chrysler swapped Dodge with DeSoto in price point classification these remained the brands most associated with Chrysler during their run as one of the “Big Three” as an entirely US based auto-maker.

Chrysler Corp. has expanded and thrived in fits and spurts throughout it’s history. Often failing to adapt to new market condition. Starting in post war when Chrysler lost market share to both Ford and GM, having to borrow from $250 million in 1954 from Prudential Insurance to pay for expansion and updated car designs.

Chrysler World Headquarters

Chrysler Europe was born in the 1960s by taking control of French, British, and Spanish auto companies, which Chrysler later sold to PSA Peugeot Citroën for $1 in 1978. Struggling again with changing markets, increased U.S. import competition, and safety and environmental regulation in the 1970s Chrysler resorted to selling Mitsubishi vehicles branded as Dodge and Plymouth in North America.

New CEO Lee Iacocca was credited with returning the company to profitability in the 1980s which had resorted to $1.5 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. government in the 1970’s. 1985 saw further expanding the Chrysler-Mitsubishi partnership in the creation of Diamond-Star Motors. Then in 1987, Chrysler acquired American Motors Corporation (AMC), along with it the Jeep brand which had been propping up it’s sales.

Evolution of Chrysler Logos

Recent Chrysler mergers and acquisitions:.
1998 acquired by Daimler-Benz, renamed DaimlerChrysler
2007 Daimler divested Chrysler, operated as Chrysler LLC (07–09), Chrysler Group LLC (09–2014)
2014 acquired by Fiat S.p.A. and becoming subsidiary of newly formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (“FCA”)

2021 Chrysler 300

What the above succession doesn’t explain is how Chrysler and Diamler didn’t get along, which caused Cerberus Investment group to broker the separation to keep investors from taking a bath. This isn’t the last time investors would get the short end of the stick. When the 2008 economy crashed and virtually killed every US auto maker (except Ford), Chryslers spiraled and June 10, 2009, Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy owned by the United Auto Workers pension fund, Fiat S.p.A., and the U.S. and Canadian governments as principal owners–defaulting on $4 Billion of investor money.

Fiat waited while Chrysler paid off the fed five years early, costing US taxpayers $1.3 Billion, then started buying out other investors. The merger became formal January 21, 2014, and became complete December 15, 2014, when it was renamed FCA US LLC, to reflect Fiat-Chrysler.

Dodge

Vital Stats: 1900-Present, Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Founded by John F. and Horace E Dodge (aka The Dodge Brothers.) Acquired by Chrysler in 1928.

The Dodge story isn’t one of corporate raiding or rampant capitalisms on the part of some disgruntled executive. Horace and John started their company to supply precision parts and chassis to the nearby automotive factories–mainly Oldsmobile and Ford. In fact, they dropped Olds and made so many parts of the Model A that Ford offered them 10% of the company in exchange for work Dodge had already done. By 1914 the Dodge brothers introduced there first complete car, a four-cylinder touring car called the  Dodge Model 30-35.

The goal of the Model 30-35 was to be slightly upscale from Ford’s Model T. So they forwent the wood frame for all metal, 12-volt electrical systems, 35 horsepower engines, and a sliding gear transmission–all features that would later become standard for all cars. It marketed well and Dodge Brothers cars were ranked second in U.S. sales as early as 1916.

’89 Dodge Ram

It’s unclear if the Dodge brothers predicted that Ford would take over making their own parts entirely or if their decision was a fortunate side effect of already wanting to build their own car, but had they not made the leap they’d have likely had to pivot hard. Instead, Ford cashed the Brothers out of their original $10,000 investment for $25 million. Adding that to the almost $10 million they’d already made in dividends, the brothers were set for life.

Noteworthy: Gen. “BlackJack” Pershing bought a couple hundred vehicles from Dodge for the Mexican boarder dispute with Mexico (technically we weren’t fighting Mexico, we were fighting Poncho Villa).  Lt. George S. Patton led ten soldiers and two civilian guides in three Dodge Model 30 touring cars to conduct America’s first motorized military raid at a ranch house in San Miguelito, Sonora. You’ll be happy to note that we won. Dodge continued to supply vehicles to the US Military through WWI.

Since Dodge was already making cars (1914) before Chrysler came into existence (1925), how did Chrysler end up owning them? The sad answer is that the Dodge brother died. John of pneumonia/flu in 1920, and Horace in his grief over John’s death and a lifetime of hard drinking, died of cirrhosis in December of the same year. John was 55 years old and Horace was 52.Their widows promoted long-time employee Frederick Haynes to the presidency and the company lost market share steadily from 2nd to 7th over the rest of the decade.

Evolution of Dodge Logo

Dodge is as known for their trucks as for cars. Not long after taking control of the company Haynes signed a deal with  Graham Brothers of Evansville, Indiana. This lead to an era of “Graham” Trucks with Dodge-built chassis. Ultimately, when the widows sold the company to an investment group (Dillon, Read & Co.) Dodge took control of Graham trucks. When Dodge sold to Chrysler the three Graham brothers took their profits and started another car company (the Graham-Paige company).

Coming in the second half…Jeep and Ram Trucks. Look for it 7/25/22

Best Cars for Teens

Cars offer great convenience, especially for people living in remote areas. Not only that but for teens, having cars creates a sense of independence and responsibility. However, as a car owner, you need to be mindful of the purchasing prices, gas prices (which are incredibly high at the time of writing), insurance, parking space, and maintenance costs when purchasing a car.

According to Consumer Reports, some of the best cars used by teens across America include Mazda 3 sedan or hatchback, Honda Civic, Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry, and the Hyundai Genesis.

If you are a teen in the market for a car, here are some worthwhile options that you should consider.

Honda Fit

Honda Fit

The US News and World Report Rankings named the Honda Fit as the best new car for teens back in 2019, and it’s easy to see why. This car boasts great fuel economy, spacious cabins, and delivers a ‘fun’ ride. Speed enthusiasts will also be pleased to know that this car packs a small punch in the speed department, but you could say the same for a ton of cars in the same class.

VW Golf

Volkswagen Golf

Jeremy Clarkson, while still at Top Gear, described this car as the ‘world’s best hot hatch’. The Volkswagen Golf is a visually striking hatchback that comes in a 2.0L turbocharged engine that packs some serious power (227 hp). Although you might end up parting with more than what you initially planned for, you’ll be getting a ton of features, including adaptive cruise control, park distance control, and parking steering control just to mention a few.

Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is a versatile off-road rally car that perfectly suits the boys. It’s one of the best-selling hatchbacks in the USA. It can accommodate a group of four friends with extra space for your luggage and equipment.

Outdoor lovers will enjoy the Outback because it’s suitable for road trips and camping, thanks to its four-by-four capabilities. The car also comes with heated seats and a power steering wheel. At the time of writing, new models of this car (2017-2021) would cost you about $20,000 while old ones (2001-2004) cost about $5,000.

Kia Soul

Kia Soul

The 2020 Kia Soul was famed for its safety features, earning it multiple awards and honors by the US News and IIHS Top Safety Pick. Its shape is a spacious boxer, making it easy for you to move in and out more comfortably. KIA has one of the best Bluetooth systems among cars in the same class. It also features a touchscreen infotainment system that responds to your voice. The KIA Soul has a flex steer system that allows you to switch between three driving styles.

Mazda 3

Mazda 3

The Mazda 3 is an efficient gas-consuming car, thanks to the installation of sky-active technology. The car gets 40 miles per gallon on a highway. Such features make it one of the best value cars for teens especially when considering the market price ($5,677). It also features good safety features, including side door safety bags. Consider the Mazda 3 if you are looking for an all-around economic car with very little in the way of pleasantries.

The Ins and Outs of Car Warranties

Whether it’s a new or used car, the cost of maintenance and repairs can be quite high. One way car owners hope to save money is by purchasing an auto warranty. With so many options for warranties, trying to weed through the varying terms and conditions can feel like a daunting task.

With warranties for either new or used vehicles, there are just a few main keywords and options to look out for to make sure you are saving money by the plan covering some costs of repairs but also not losing money by paying for plan options you don’t need.

Types of Warranty Coverages

Regardless of being a factory warranty or one purchased through a third-party vendor, there are certain terms for the plans, that are similar. Check the terms and conditions specific to your plan to ensure you know what you are paying for and what support you can expect when repairs are needed.

Powertrain Warranty

As the name implies, powertrain warranties generally cover everything in the drive-system of the car, from the motor to the wheel axles. These types of warranties most often have a shorter term than others. However, since it covers vital engine components such as seals and gaskets, they may prove to be a wallet-saver if any covered part fails.

Bumper-To-Bumper

The bumper-to-bumper warranty is the most comprehensive of warranty plan types, and is commonly called, an “exclusionary plan.” In short, a bumper-to-bumper warranty covers everything as the name implies, including most mechanical, electrical, and other high-tech components.

The terms of these types of warranties generally list conditions or components that are not covered, rather than what is covered. These exclusions usually include general wear and tear, damage caused by an accident or collision, or any damage or component failure due to the installation or use of aftermarket parts.

Other Warranty Types

While Bumper-To-Bumper and Powertrain warranties are the most common types, other more miscellaneous coverages might be worth exploring.

Depending on which state you live in, the Department of Motor Vehicles may require yearly or periodic emissions testing. If this is the case, an Emissions Performance or an Emissions Defect warranty may cover you if any emissions-system-related part fails.

For the body of the car, you may have the option of purchasing or adding a Corrosion Warranty. While these generally do not cover damage caused by environmental factors, such as acid rain, they usually cover corrosion of the sheet metal body skin due to material defects.

Warranty Vendors

Along with options for coverage, there are also options for who sells the warranty. This generally is dependent on the age of the vehicle and whether it is new or used.

Factory Warranties

Generally, the easiest route for auto warranties is to have a factory warranty. For both new cars, manufacturers each have their term limits for bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranties, with many offering longer terms as a marketing strategy. However, these are generally limited to the first owner of the vehicle.

Even if your car is used, it may be covered by a factory extended warranty, commonly called a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) warranty. Along with the standard factory warranty, each manufacturer will have its own CPO warranty terms.

Independent Extended Warranties

Depending on the age of the vehicle, it might not be eligible for a factory warranty or even a CPO warranty. There is still an option for coverage. Many companies, independent of auto manufacturers, offer extended warranties that may offer similar coverages, with some plans covering up to 250,000 miles.

Cost

If there is an option for a factory warranty when purchasing a car, it is generally a good investment to add on. This is specially true during the break-in period or if it is a new model. However, an independent extended warranty, should be compared to the average annual cost for repairs for your car brand.

Auto Makers: US Ford (Part 4b)

The best way to tackle Car Manufacturers in the US is to break them up by category. Let’s start with the big three, and within those we’ll take on one parent company per post. Later in this series we’ll get to some of the the start ups and those that have been phased out or gone out of business.

Ford Motor Company Parent

Vital Stats: 1903-Present, Headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan. June 16, 1903; 119 years ago, by Henry Ford.

The company sells automobiles and commercial vehicles under the Ford brand, and luxury cars under its Lincoln luxury brand. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is controlled by the Ford family; they have minority ownership but the majority of the voting power.

Ford also owns Brazilian SUV manufacturer Troller, an 8% stake in Aston Martin of the United Kingdom and a 32% stake in China’s Jiangling Motors. It also has joint ventures in China (Changan Ford), Taiwan (Ford Lio Ho), Thailand (AutoAlliance Thailand), Turkey (Ford Otosan), and Russia (Ford Sollers). Ford’s former UK subsidiaries Jaguar and Land Rover, acquired in 1989 and 2000 respectively, were sold to the Indian automaker Tata Motors in March 2008. Ford owned the Swedish automaker Volvo from 1999 to 2010. In 2011, Ford discontinued the Mercury brand, under which it had marketed entry-level luxury cars in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East since 1938.

Founder Henry Ford is best known for creating the assembly line, but that particular innovation represents a series of innovative ideas Ford had that enabled large-scale manufacturing of cars and large-scale management of an industrial workforce using elaborately engineered manufacturing sequences. Among Henry Ford’s other industrialist ideas were paying workers more so they could potentially afford to buy his cars. Another such idea was requiring his transmission supplier to ship transmissions in a longer than needed crate so that his workers could take the crates apart and use them to build the floors of his cars.

During the financial crisis of 2007–08 the company struggled but did not accept federal bailout money, like the other two major US automakers. Ford Motors has since returned to profitability, and was the eleventh-ranked overall American-based company in the 2018 Fortune 500 list, based on global revenues in 2017 of $156.7 billion. 

Ford is the second-largest U.S.-based automaker (behind General Motors) and the fifth-largest in the world (behind ToyotaVolkswagenHyundai and General Motors) based on 2015 vehicle production. At the end of 2010, Ford was the fifth-largest automaker in Europe. In 2008, Ford produced 5.532 million automobiles and employed about 213,000 employees at around 90 plants and facilities worldwide.

Ford Motor Company

As we mentioned in our previous post on GM, Henry Ford’s first attempt at creating a car company ended up becoming Cadillac and was acquired by GM. Ford’s second car company,t he Ford Motor Company was launched in a converted factory in 1903 with $28,000 (equivalent to $844,000 in 2021) in cash from twelve investors, like John and Horace Dodge (who would later found Dodge).

Local banker, John S. Gray, was chosen over Ford as the first president since investors were concerned about the way Ford left his first company. During its early years, the company produced just a few cars a day, and assembled them from parts made mostly by supplier companies. Within a decade the company led the world in production and Ford soon brought much of the part production in-house.

Noteworthy: Fords Model A released in 1927, was the first car with a safety glass windshield. Ford offered the Lifeguard safety package from 1956, which included such innovations as a standard deep-dish steering wheel, optional front, AND rear seatbelts, and an optional padded dash. Ford also introduced child-proof door locks into its products in 1957.

In an attempt to compete with General Motors’ mid-priced Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick, Ford created the Mercury in 1939 as a higher-priced companion car to Ford. Henry Ford purchased the Lincoln Motor Company in 1922, in order to compete with luxury brands like Cadillac and Packard.

Also noteworthy: In 1929 Ford worked with the Soviet Union to set up their Gorky Automobile Plant which brought modern industrial technology to Russia.

WWII

Ford has gotten a lot of criticism for its operations during the second world war. Hitler looked like an industrialist early on, and Ford had a lot of production in Germany. Ford, along with many other industrialists, lobbied for US non-intervention until Peral Harbor made America’s path unavoidable.

Faced with the choice of losing their German factories entirely, Ford continued to operate them, making war machines for the Nazis, and employing slave labor. They also received the US military contract to manufacture the Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber at their Willow Run assembly plant. Leading many historians to speculate about why and how Ford plants weren’t heavily targeted for bombing during the war.

Modern Ford

The car industry, like many industries had changed without anyone noticing around 2005, and their stocks were downgraded to junk status (as were GMs). U.S. health care costs for an aging workforce, soaring gasoline prices, eroding market share, and an overdependence on declining SUV sales. Ford created a plan called “The Way Forward” which included resizing the company to match market realities, dropping some unprofitable and inefficient models, consolidating production lines, closing 14 factories and cutting 30,000 jobs. As a result Ford declined a bridge loan, like their US competitors took in 2008.

They also renegotiated their contract with the United Auto Workers Union allowing them to shift healthcare costs to a separate fund. They made quite a number of other tweaks to how they did business but the next significant move was selling Jaguar and Land Rover operations to Tata Motors for $2.3 billion in 2008. They also restructured Volvo, as part of the plan, which ultimately cost them billions of dollars a year until 2009. However, they’ve returned to profitability, stocks have been upgraded to investor status and Ford is building a new state of the art plant in Corktown Michigan. Partly they’ll be moving existing employees there (about 2,500), but the factory should create an additional 700 jobs by canceling plans to expand their plant in Mexico in 2017.

Noteworthy: In February 2017, Ford Motor Co. acquired majority ownership of Argo AI, a self-driving car startup.

Lincoln

Vital Stats: 1903-Present, Headquartered in Dearborn Michigan. Lincoln was founded in 1917 and acquired by Ford Motor Company in 1922.

Officially called the Lincoln Motor Company, this division is Ford’s deliberate attempt to deal with GM’s Cadillac. Lincoln helped Ford to establish the personal luxury car segment with the 1940 Lincoln Continental.

Noteworthy: Henry M. Leland, named his car company after President Abraham Lincoln.

Continental was originally founded as a freestanding division above Lincoln and integrated within Lincoln in 1959. The Continental-branded Mark series was marketed through Lincoln starting in 1969 and was adopted fully by Lincoln in 1986. In fact, the Lincoln four-point star emblem is derived from a badge introduced on the 1956 Continental Mark II. (The current adaptation came about in 1980.)

1926 Lincoln Model L town car

Following World War II, Ford paired Lincoln with its mid-range Mercury brand, forming the Lincoln-Mercury Division. This lasted until 2010 when the Mercury brand closed. By the end of 2012, Lincoln reverted to its original name, Lincoln Motor Company. We mentioned Ford taking drastic steps from 2005 to 2009–basically they divested themselves of Premier Automotive Group (JaguarLand RoverAston Martin, and Volvo) and the closed Mercury, leaving Lincoln the sole luxury nameplate of Ford Motor Company.

Noteworthy: Lincoln has always produced vehicles for limousine and livery use; several became official state limousines for POTUS. In fact, 1924, a Lincoln Model L became the first state limousine used by a U.S. President on an official basis, supplied for Calvin Coolidge. The current 1st car is nicknamed “the Beast” but historically its been called Cadillac One, when GM makes them and many other names when Lincoln makes them.

The current product range of Lincoln consists of luxury crossovers and sport-utility vehicles. Throughout its entire existence. In 2017, Lincoln sold 188,383 vehicles globally. Outside of North America, Lincoln vehicles are officially sold in the Middle East (except Iran and Syria), China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau), and South Korea.

If Henry Leland sounds familiar, he should. We’ve seen Leland as a founder of Cadillac and often battler of the infamous William Durant (to be fair Durant seemed to fight with everyone.)

While Leland and his son Wilfred, built a final assembly plant in Detroit they sourced components all over the place–cylinders by Ford and other parts sourced from BuickCadillacMarmon, and Packard. Originally, Lincoln made v-12 plane engines for WWI, but transitioned to cars at the end of the war. They weren’t able to produce cars to keep up with demand, went into receivership and Edsel Ford picked the company up for 8 million, about half it’s estimated value.

So if you are following this series for the soap opera, Leland helped show Henry Ford the door to “The Henry Ford Company” which he ran for a bit and sold as Cadillac to GM. Then Leland founded Lincoln which he ran poorly and had to sell to Henry Ford’s grandson. Leland and son stayed on for a bit and ran Lincoln for Ford, which we bet was not a fun experience.

Auto Makers: US GM (Part 4A)

When you think about car makers the US, UK, Germany, Italy, & Japan are the big names that come to mind. Of course the actual manufacturing is done all over the world no matter what parent company name goes on the final product or where it is ultimately sold.

It’s also true that a ton of cars are made by manufacturers other than the big 5 listed above. Many are even sold in large markets like the US but some of them are not sold outside there own borders. This series starts with the big auto countries but it won’t stop until we’ve covered every country that makes a car for sale to the public.

The best way to tackle Car Manufacturers in the US is to break them up by category. Let’s start with the big three, and within those we’ll take on one parent company per post. Later in this series we’ll get to some of the the start ups and those that have been phased out or gone out of business.

General Motors Parent Company

Vital Stats: 1908-Present, Headquartered in Detroit Michigan, manufacturing in 8 countries.

GM is the largest car maker in the US and was biggest in the world until recently losing that title to Toyota. GM is ranked 22nd on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue however they went bankrupt in 2009 and were restructured.

While GM stands for General Motors, it’s critics often say it refers to government motors as there is a long-standing relationship between GM and the US government. In addition to the 2009 bailout, during WWII GM was the largest federal defense contractor and even now builds military vehicles under their GM Defense  division.

In addition to their well known consumer brands GM maintains divisions like BrightDrop for delivery-focused service, OnStar for vehicle safety, security and information services. ACDelco for auto parts and so on. The company provides financing via GM Financial, and is developing self-driving cars through its majority ownership in Cruise LLC.

Through joint ventures GM has invested in Chinese brands Wuling Motors and Baojun as well as DMAX.

GM Intends to phase out internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2035 including hybrids. This move is controversial as many experts doubt the infrastructure will exist to maintain that many EV’s. Still others doubt that EV’s are that much better than ICE cars since “green energy” generation is still very inadequate to the demands of current power usage in the US.

The largest source of revenue a the moment is GMs four vehicle brands available to the general public–Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC.

Buick Motors

Vital Stats: 1899-Present, Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan.
Founded in 1899 as ‘Buick Auto-Vim and Power Company’ by automotive pioneer David Dunbar Buick.
GM founder William C. Durant had served as Buick’s general manager and major investor before ultimately forming General Motors in 1908 and placing Buick under that marque as a luxury brand.

Buick is the oldest current brand in the US. Autocar, founded in 1897, is the oldest vehicle maker in the western hemisphere; though they currently build heavy trucks. Oldsmobile, is also older–founded in 1897–but is now defunct. Studebaker was founded in 1852, but did not make automobiles until 1902. Conversely, Henry Ford produced his first car in 1896 but did not start the Ford Motor Co. until 1903.

In 2017, Buick sold a record 1.4 million vehicles worldwide–mainly in now China, (where 80% of Buicks are sold). This could be because buick is positioned as a quality luxury brand compared to most GM cars, although not as luxury as Cadillac. The near-enough-to-top luxury appeals to a buyer of quality items, but the not-quite-the-top luxury status makes them seem like a value. In other words the existence of Cadillac might actually boost sales among Chinese business executives. Buicks are also sold in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Cadillac Motors

Vital Stats: 1903-Present, Headquartered in Detroit, MI. Founded as Henry Ford Company in 1901. Renamed to Cadillac in 1902. Acquired by General Motors in 1909.

The Cadillac Motor Car Division builds GM’s luxury car models. Major markets include the United States, Canada, and China but they distribute in 34 other markets worldwide. In 2019, Cadillac sold a record setting 390,458 vehicles worldwide. The name is honor of Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who founded DetroitMichigan and crest emblem is based on his coat of arms.

Cadillac is the fourth oldest car brand to originate in the US, but unlike other GM models Cadillac has origins in Henry Ford. Technically Henry Ford Company was Ford’s first car company. After a dispute with his investors Ford left in 1902 taking several key players with him. William Murphy and Lemuel Bowen called in engineer Henry M. Leland of Leland to appraise the plant and equipment for liquidation. Instead they convinced the financial backers to keep making cars. They rebranded and restarted and it worked.

This will upset many GM fans, but you can really see Ford’s brilliance in Cadillac’s success. The complete interchangeability of its precision parts had allowed it to lay the foundation for the modern mass production of automobiles. The forefront of technological advances, Cadillac introduced full electrical systems, the clashless manual transmission and the steel roof. The brand went on to develop three engines setting the standard for the American automotive industry.

Noteworthy: many car companies had a policy that discouraged sales to African Americans. The great depression was a hard time for automakers around the world, with Luxury brands taking the biggest hit. Many European Luxury makers went out of business at that time. Cadillac’s national head of service was a mechanic names Nick Dreystadt, who convinced the board of GM to reverse their policies on race which increased sales by 70% in 1934. Dreystadt was promoted and GM has enjoyed a better reputation among people of color than Ford. (To learn of Ford’s challenges around race see the next post in this series.)

Chevrolet Motors

Vital Stats: 1911-Present, Headquartered in Detroit Michigan. A private company for the first 5 years, acquired by General Motors in 1918 and a division of GM ever since.
Formally the Chevrolet Motor Division of General Motors Company, less formally and more commonly known as Chevy. Chevrolet brand became the volume leader in the General Motors family, selling mainstream vehicles to compete with Henry Ford‘s Model T in 1919 and overtaking Ford as the best-selling car in the United States by 1929.

It would take an entire post to catalogue the story of Chevy as a brand around the world, with GM acquiring local companies like Daewoo of Korea, Holden Special Vehicles of Oceana, Vauxhall in the UK, and Opel of Germany, then going into competition with itself, trying to raise or lower brand perceptions and ultimately keeping a mix of brands depending on which cars sold well in which market. Just know that top selling brands like Silverado, Camaro and Corvette can be found in many places around the world where other GM cars at the value cars level will have another brand on them entirely.

This isn’t to say that the name Chevy has low recognition outside the US. Chevy is actually what GM is known as outside the US, the way the English call it Hoovering instead of Vacuuming or the way we call it Clean-x instead of facial tissue. Inside the US Chevy sells all sorts of models from subcompact to SUV.

The companies founding is a soap opera so let’s dive into that craziness, because it’s a foreshadow of why so may around the world are more aware of Chevy than they are of GM. On November 3, 1911, Swiss race car driver and automotive engineer Louis Chevrolet co-founded the “Chevrolet Motor Company” in Detroit with his brother Arthur ChevroletWilliam C. Durant and investment partners William Little (maker of the Little automobile), former Buick owner James H. Whiting,[6] Dr. Edwin R. Campbell (son-in-law of Durant) and in 1912 R. S. McLaughlin CEO of General Motors in Canada.

The thing is Durant was a founding member of GM back in 1908, but by 1910 he’d been fired. His involvement in Chevy was a direct attempt to get his position back at GM. Durant used the Chevrolet Motor Car Company to acquire a controlling stake in General Motors with a reverse merger occurring on May 2, 1918, and propelled himself back to the GM presidency. Then got himself fired again in 1919.

Chevy benefitted a lot from the merger though, from a technology standpoint. Buick had patented the overhead valve and cross-flow cylinder design which was more efficient than the flathead design Chevy had started with.

GMC Motors

Vital Stats: 1903-Present, Headquartered in Detriot, MI. Formed as General Motors Truck Company (GMTC) in 1912 after merging Rapid Motor Vehicle co. and Reliance Motor Truck co.

Based on the name you’d think GMC would be flagship of GM divisions (which is actually Chevrolet), but in fact the division is primarily focused on trucks and utility vehicles. GMC currently makes SUVspickup trucks, vans, and light-duty trucks. In the past, they also produced fire trucksambulances, heavy-duty trucks, military vehiclesmotorhomes, transit buses, and medium duty trucks.

GMC Sierra
Chevy Silverado

To distinguish GMC from Chevy, who also makes trucks (like the Silverado), think in terms of a multi-brand dealership, where you’d see GMC vehicles (like the Denali series and the electric, off-road Hummer EV series) next to Buicks on a premium/luxury lot.

GMC was founded in 1900 as Grabowsky Motor Company[2] by brothers Max (1874-1946) and Morris Grabowsky,[3] in Detroit, and renamed Rapid Motor Vehicle Company in 1902 when the brothers moved operations to Pontiac, Michigan. In 1909 William C. Durant gained control of Rapid Motor Vehicle Company and made it a subsidiary of his General Motors Company. In 1908 Durant gained control of Reliance Motor Car Company, another early commercial vehicle manufacturer. In 1911 General Motors formed the General Motors Truck Company and folded Rapid and Reliance into it. In 1912 the Rapid and Reliance names were dropped in favor of “GMC.” So, yeah, more Durant shenanigans.

GMC is where Pontiac Comes into and out of the picture. GMC essentially took over Pontiac, continued to manufacture their vehicles for a time and then took over their plants to make GMC products. GMC also made busses for quite a time, but ultimately spun off and sold bus operations as part of a general effort to reinforce their brand as rugged utility vehicles.

GMC is another GM division that is heavily involved in making military vehicles.  During the First World War, the company provided the Model 16 3/4-ton truck, and modified its production to provide 1-ton troop carriers and aviation support vehicles, and by 1918, more than 90 percent of GMC truck production was for military use earning a Distinguished Service Award. During the Second World War, GMC Truck produced 600,000 trucks for use by the United States Armed Forces.