Month: June 2016

Safety first – Car systems help turn teens into better drivers

By DAVID THOME Special to ADAMM Car crashes kill more young people than cancer, homicide and suicide combined, so parents have good reason to worry when teens use the family car. Carmakers are increasingly addressing that concern with computerized systems that let parents monitor teen drivers and set controls to reduce risk factors like speed, texting while driving and ignoring the seat belts. “It’s a great idea,” said Steve Puleo, sales rep for EVS Saukville Chevrolet Buick Cadillac. “If my parents knew back in the day what I was doing with their car…” Kip Ruppel, sales manager for GRIFFIN Ford of Waukesha, and Redus Harris, product specialist for MIKE JUNEAU’S Arrow Ford of West Allis, added that the features, which generally operate through a vehicle’s infotainment system, are not simply tattling devices, but also actively help young drivers develop good habits. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the fatal crash rate per mile for 16- to 19-year-olds is three times higher than for drivers 20 and older. Inexperience, using phones and travelling at excessive speed—and various combinations thereof—are among the most common contributing factors. In-vehicle computers can’t do much to combat inexperience, so teen safety systems introduced over the past few years focus on limiting speed and phone use in hopes of keeping drivers safe while they’re gaining experience. Ford introduced MyKey, which the website Autoevolution.com describes...

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BMW looks ahead to next 100 years

By DAVID THOME Special to ADAMM BMW celebrates its 100th birthday this year, and you might assume that the German automaker’s longevity stems mostly from its reputation for luxury and performance. People who sell BMWs locally say there’s something to that, but insist that the aura of owning a BMW is important, too. “BMW owners want a modern sports-luxury experience,” said Rob Hoffman, sales manager for BMW at INTERNATIONAL AUTOS in West Allis. “They want performance and reliability and safety, but they’re also looking to reward themselves with vehicles that they know are among the best in the world.” Added Ahmad Aref, general sales manager for Umansky’s MILWAUKEE BMW North, “There’s prestige in owning a BMW, but it’s more than that. It’s the idea that no matter how high we set the bar for ourselves, we always strive to do better, not only with the products, but also when it comes to the customer experience.” Forbes.com named BMW “the most reputable company in the world” a few years ago, but things haven’t always been easy for the manufacturer of airplane engines, motorcycles and automobiles. The Munich-based firm has even teetered on the brink of extinction a few times. For example, after World War II, with the capacity of its bombed-out factories limited, BMW focused exclusively on high-end luxury cars. But according to “BMW – Bavaria’s Driving Machines” by Jan...

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Don’t overlook your wiper blades

By DAVID THOME Special to ADAMM Tech Tip – Don’t overlook your wiper blades Your car can have a rocket engine and a suspension tuned like a Formula One racer’s, but your performance will definitely suffer if you can’t see out the windshield. Investing 30 bucks and maybe half as many minutes on a new set of wiper blades, though, will keep you safer and make the ride more enjoyable no matter what you drive. “You don’t want to wait until you can’t see where you’re going,” said Al Arthur, parts manager for AMATO Hyundai of Milwaukee. “When you start getting streaks on the windshield, that’s when you should replace your wipers.” Being abused by winter ice, snow and salt is tough on the rubber inserts, he said, but warm, sunny weather doesn’t do them any favors either. In warm weather, they get covered with a grimy film, and sun and heat dry them out to where they develop little cracks. Arthur said that keeping wipers clean by wiping them with a dab of rubbing alcohol, or even just your fingers, won’t eliminate cracks, but will help clear the glass until you have the time to stop at a dealership to pick up a new pair. Car maintenance experts at Autoweek.com recommend you replace both wiper blades at the same time, which not only makes it easier to keep track, but...

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Service advisers link customers, techs

By DAVID THOME Special to ADAMM Don’t know the difference between a rocker panel and a rocker arm, or why you hear something like a punk rocker’s death shriek coming from under the hood of your car? Don’t fret. Every new-car dealership’s repair shop has people on staff who can translate from Customerian to Technicianese and vice versa. These people are called service advisers. They may or may not be handy with a wrench, but they are very good at getting to the heart of your concerns even before you drop off your vehicle for repairs. “In a nutshell, I’m the communication liaison between the guest and the tech,” said Joe Weil, a service adviser at RUSS DARROW Kia in Wauwatosa. “The adviser needs to understand what the guest is experiencing to be able to tell the tech what needs to be addressed.” Craig Prochaska, a service adviser for HOLZ Chevrolet, said that advisers need to be able to do a lot more as well — from making sure the dealership has the parts needed for the job to arranging for rental cars, and from explaining warranties to following up to see if the customer is satisfied. Tech training is not a requirement for the job, said Chris Niemiec, service department manager at WILDE Subaru in Waukesha, but “great people skills” are a must. “The most important aspect of...

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Clean that winter salt

Sour vinegar a sweet way to clean salt By DAVID THOME Special to ADAMM Salt helps keep your car on the road all winter, but you do not want to keep what dripped onto your floor mats and carpet in your car all summer. Fortunately, there’s a quick, easy — and environmentally friendly — way to remove salt stains. “Vinegar and water is the best way to handle that,” said Mark Czerwinski, service director at NEWMAN Chevrolet in Cedarburg. “You don’t need any professional products. Our detailers even use vinegar and water.” A 4-DYIers video on You Tube suggests vacuuming the affected area first, then using a spray bottle to apply a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water to the white, crusty stains that build up on mats and in the carpet surrounding the mat. After waiting a few minutes to soak, dab the area with a damp cloth. If some salt remains after one application, repeat. 4-DIYers recommends scrubbing lightly with a toothbrush, but Czerwinski said any clean nylon brush will loosen hardpacked salt. “If it’s really crusty, you can’t just wipe it out,” he explained. WikiHow.com also suggests that you avoid pressing on the stain, which can push salt farther in to the carpet pile. Czerwinski said you can’t harm your vehicle by using vinegar and water. The only aftereffect may be a vinegary smell, but that’s nothing to worry about: “If you want to remove the salt, you’re going to have to put up...

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