Weekly auto rail, with tips on car gear, Car Q&A with Junior Damato and more.
Tip of the Week
Carrying some extra gear in your vehicle can help ensure you stay safe and are ready to aid others who run into trouble. Even if you have roadside assistance, it can take hours before someone arrives to help. That's why it's important to be self-reliant and prepare ahead of time.
Here are some items that retailers Northern Tool + Equipment and Kotula's recommend every well-prepared driver should keep in their vehicle:
1. Essential fluids - Fluids keep your vehicle going year-round. Create a fluids kit that includes an emergency supply of motor oil, wiper fluid and antifreeze. Make sure that containers are tightly sealed to minimize spill risks. Also, make sure you know how to refill your car fluids so you are ready for any situation that occurs.
2. Backup power - Extreme temperatures can be hard on batteries. A portable powerpack can be a lifesaver in emergency situations. The integrated SLA battery provides the power you need to get batteries started in any weather and eliminates the need for a jump-start from another car. You can also ensure you'll never be caught with a deflated tire with the 150 PSI air compressor included with this product.
3. Extra hoses - Even though it's a relatively easy thing to fix, a blown hose can leave you stranded if you don't have an extra on hand. When your vehicle works hard - towing a heavy load, plowing through bad weather or over rough terrain - the strain on the engine can affect the integrity of hoses. Keep a few extra in your vehicle, especially if your car or truck has high mileage.
4. Auto heater/defroster - Changing temperatures can cause condensation or frost to form on the interior of windows, which can cause unsafe driving situations. Be prepared with a defroster that plugs into your vehicle's 12-volt power port, which quickly defrosts windows and heats up a car, allowing you to be on your way faster.
5. Multipurpose tool set - In a car emergency a compact multipurpose tool can fix a wide variety of things. Be prepared with a multipurpose tool to tighten screws and bolts, maneuver small objects and more, without having to carry a toolbox in your car.
According to The Street, here are the 10 best 2012 leftovers for bargain car buyers:
2012 Mazda CX-7
2012 Hyundai Santa Fe
2013 Chevrolet Avalanche
2012 Toyota Avalon
2012 Mitsubishi Eclipse
2012 Nissan Pathfinder
2012 Lexus HS 250h
2012 Ford Mustang
2013 Dodge Caravan/Chrysler Town & Country
2012 Honda Accord
Q: I own 2004 Jeep Wrangler with only 88,000 miles automatic straight inline six-cylinder. I recently test drove a 2010 with a V-6 and was not impressed with the all around power. Is the new V-6 in the 2012 any better?
A: The new replacement 3.6 liter V-6 is light years ahead of its predecessor in every way possible. I spent a week in a four-door Sahara hardtop. The new 3.6 has a wide power band, and the five-speed automatic keeps the power flowing. The Wrangler was also quiet on the highway, even with the Dueler A/T radial tires. Gas mileage has also improved. The suspension takes out a lot of the rough ride, not to mention the comfortable front bucket seats. In my opinion, the 2012 is the best Wrangler since the body change in 2007.
- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist
GateHouse News Service