DEALER’S VOICE: Never ignore dashboard warning lights

This warning light could be triggered by a flat tire, low tire pressure, tire pressure light not being reset or a bad air-pressure sensor.

If you’ve driven a vehicle for any length of time, odds are a warning light has flashed on on your dashboard. Some dashboard warning lights are specific to brands and models while others are common to all makes and models.

Not all warning lights are created equal, though. For instance, a red warning light usually warns of a potentially serious problem, possibly a safety issue. Or it could alert a driver to the need for service maintenance.

A yellow or orange light means that a mechanical or electrical component requires immediate repair or servicing. If the light is flashing, you should contact your local new car dealership right away.

A green or blue light is no cause for concern; it means that a specific system is operating as it should.

If a critical warning light comes on, it should be addressed immediately. In some cases, this means pulling the car over and having it towed to a repair facility.

Ignoring a critical warning light not only jeopardizes the safe operation of your vehicle, it could also compromise your manufacturer’s warranty.

Here are some common critical warning lights that are installed on modern passenger vehicles and light duty trucks:

  • Oil Pressure light. This refers to possible low oil levels, a worn or broken oil pump or excessive main bearing wear. Ignoring this issue could result in a seized engine or major engine damage.
  • Brake Warning light. This could refer to driving with the handbrake engaged, low brake fluid level or worn-out brake pads. Brakes are the most important part of your vehicle: they affect the safety of the driver and all occupants.
  • Air Bag SRS. If this warning light comes on, your air bag is not going to inflate on impact, which could jeopardize your safety. Malfunction is usually caused by a crash sensor fault, bad electrical connection or air bag module malfunction.
  • Engine Temperature light. This could indicate low coolant level, the cooling fan isn’t working or a thermostat that fails to open. If this light flashes on, stop driving immediately, turn off the engine, and seek mechanical assistance. Driving while the temperature light is on can do serious and expensive engine damage.
  • Battery Charging System warning light. This usually refers to an alternator failure, loose or torn alternator belt, faulty battery or a broken wire. The light indicates a problem with the charging system. Get it repaired at your earliest convenience.
  • Tire Pressure warning light. This light could be triggered by a flat tire, low tire pressure, tire pressure light not being reset or a bad air-pressure sensor. Excessively worn tires or insufficient tire pressure not only affects fuel economy, it poses a risk.

Some warning lights are less critical than others, such as Service Engine Soon, Seatbelt Warning Light, Low Fuel, Door Ajar, Over Drive Off and Service Reminder.

Sometimes a flashing light can represent a loose connection, or an on-board computer module that has to be reset, which is a quick and inexpensive procedure.

For information about dashboard warning lights, consult your owner’s manual, or contact a service advisor at your local new car dealership.

Written By – Doug Sullivan

Audi faces German emissions probe

 BERLIN (Bloomberg) — German prosecutors opened another criminal investigation into the Volkswagen diesel-emissions scandal, this time looking at the company’s upscale Audi unit.
Prosecutors in Ingolstadt opened the probe after reviewing several criminal complaints, including one filed by Audi, said Juergen Staudt, a spokesman for the investigators.The case is targeting people at the automaker who were responsible for the emissions results, but no individual suspects have been determined, he said.

Volkswagen is reeling from revelations in September that a line of diesel engines was equipped with software designed to fool emissions testers, affecting about 11 million vehicles worldwide.

Audi, which is based in Ingolstadt, is among the group’s passenger-vehicle brands that, along with the VW commercial-van nameplate, is faced with the recalls.

Prosecutors in the city of Brunswick are already investigating VW over the emissions. Their Ingolstadt counterparts have asked them to also take over their case, which they only did in part. So Ingolstadt started its own probe, Staudt said.

He said Brunswick prosecutors will investigate “those parts that are clearly located at Volkswagen” while Ingolstadt has kept the elements limited to Audi.

“But there are still negotiations pending whether to merge the probes eventually,” Staudt said.

About 2.4 million of the 11 million vehicles affected by the diesel scandal are Audi models. A further 5.6 are VW brand cars, 1.2 million are Skodas, 700,000 are Seat cars and 800,000 are light commercial vehicles, VW said in its third-quarter report on Oct. 28.



G Funk Era: Hyundai Teases New Genesis G90

Genesis G90

Fare thee well, Horsey O’Luxewagon, for your replacement is nigh. Hyundai’s LS-baiting Equus shall shortly gallop off into the sunset, to be supplanted by the Genesis-branded G90, part of Hyundai’s new effort to take on Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW.

Hyundai—excuse us—Genesis, refers to the design language as “Athletic Elegance.” The company goes on to describe the G90 as featuring “graceful and profound elegance,” courtesy of a “grand radiator grille” and “sophisticated headlamps.” The rear lamp cluster is described as “agile.” That’s a whole lotta hifalutin’ jibber-jabber, but the car isn’t lacking for presence. The side profile seems to crib from Audi, Rolls-Royce, and Jaguar, while the nose riffs on that of the current Hyundai Genesis sedan.

We’ll see the car in the metal next month, the first of six new models Genesis will launch within the next five years. Unlike the raft of luxury players that arrived from Japan a quarter-century or so ago, Hyundai won’t be establishing its own dealers for the G90 and its siblings. They’ll be sold at stores within existing Hyundai stores, which will keep launch costs significantly lower, even as it may soften the invisible touch of exclusivity.

Genesis G90

Car and Driver
Written By – Davey G. Johnson

Your Car, Sir: How Ultra-High-End Car Buying Is Different

Bentley Rancho Mirage-RA

Visit an ultra-luxury brand’s showroom, and you’ll find the espresso machine is always on, the sales representative likely knows your social media profile, and a complementary bouquet—with blooms to match your new car’s paintwork—is going home with you at delivery time.

Yes, mass-market brands emphasize customer service, but retailers of the world’s most prestigious marques practice refinements that mainstream dealerships can’t manage. High-end retailers anticipate your perceptions of the ultra-luxury car-buying experience, and they’re prepared to go extra lengths.

“We have to meet that expectation immediately,” says Stuart McIntosh, general manager of Aston Martin sales at O’Gara Coach Company, in Beverly Hills. McIntosh and his staff offer tea, coffee, or a soft drink to one and all. “We make sure everybody is treated equally, whether they’re taking pictures for their Facebook page or intend to buy a couple of cars.”

McIntosh describes a subsequent process of relationship building that requires tact and forbearance. “The main factor that goes into being a salesman for one of these brands,” he says, “is patience.” While the occasional customer wants a new car immediately, there are also those “who want to look at half of the color and trim combinations available.” And at Aston Martin, there are over 3 million color and trim combinations available, according to spokesman Matthew Clarke.

Given this required level of discretion, it’s safe to assume the sales representative probably wasn’t discounting mattresses last week before moving up to the more profitable arena of car sales. In fact, McIntosh’s team members have passed an aptitude test that he says indicates not only patience but also honesty and trustworthiness. It’s likewise safe to assume that the rep is used to dealing with wealthy people. And that he or she really digs the cars.

“Most of them are car lovers,” says Richard Koppelman, president of Miller Motorcars, a multi-line luxury-car dealership in Greenwich, Connecticut. “They probably didn’t come and say, ‘I can make $10 more selling Ferraris or Aston Martins.’ Sometimes we get people who had been in the luxury-goods area. The people we hire have to have a passion.”

And that passion may include being at home on the track, where some brands invite the favored few for test-drives. McIntosh’s dealership has a membership at the Thermal Club, a private circuit near Palm Springs. In the fall, the dealership invites 20 to 30 prospects “who we feel are in position to purchase by the end of the year.” They stay at the Ritz-Carlton, dine at Mastro’s Steakhouse, sample Aston Martin models on the track, and go for hot laps in a Vantage GT4 with a pro driver.

Track driving is a tactic used by Lamborghini, too, as part of what Alessandro Farmeschi, chief operating officer of Automobili Lamborghini America, calls “a highly customized one-to-one relationship that starts as soon as they get in touch with us.” The racetrack experience, Farmeschi says, is “part of the beauty of selling this product.”

By whatever avenues (or straightaways) the purchase decision is made, eventually it’s time to sit down and negotiate. Here’s where every dealer has something in common: floorplanning charges—the amount paid to the manufacturer for subsidizing inventory—make him eager to move the metal (or carbon fiber).

Having eight Rolls-Royces in a showroom, as we counted at Desert European Motors, a multi-line ultra-luxury and exotics dealership in Rancho Mirage, California, could be a costly proposition. But floorplanning affects even a small dealer. Greg Albers, co-owner and general manager of Bentley Zionsville, which is near Indianapolis, suggests the well-qualified buyer usually has some leverage.

“Generally, if you have a product that’s brand-new and it’s hot, for a period, you can get sticker price,” says Albers, who notes that special-ordering a bespoke car leaves less room to dicker. Otherwise, though, “you’re dealing with businessmen who’ve been successful, and they’ve been successful by being good negotiators. Everybody wants to get the best deal they can. People are not foolish with their money. For the most part they’d like to know they’re getting a good deal.”

At least half of Albers’ buyers pay cash, with a substantial percentage of others leasing through their businesses. And where Indianapolis and Beverly Hills have something else in common is in offering an extended warranty. “Some want that, some don’t. We offer it to them,” Albers says.

Finally, it’s time for delivery. And indeed, McIntosh’s Aston Martin buyers really do receive a bouquet, or golf bag, that matches the car.

As for handover, there’s another split in buyers’ preferences. “Some people do just want you to give them the key, and they’ll read the book,” Albers says. On the other hand, dealers are quite willing to demonstrate all aspects of the car. “It makes their experience better, saves them calling two days later and asking, ‘How do I open the gas door?’ ”

So what’s the best example of special accommodations in the familiarization process? When Miller Motorcars recently delivered a car to a customer’s home, the buyer sent his helicopter to fetch a dealership employee for the walk-through.

Car and Driver
Written By – Ronald Ahrens

Disappearing Donuts

One-Third of New Cars Don’t Come With a Spare Tire

AAA - Tire Inflator Evaluation 3

What’s worse than a flat tire? The sinking realization that you have no way to fix it. That’s the situation more American motorists may find themselves in as 36 percent of 2015 models are sold without a spare tire, according to new research from AAA. That’s a steep rise from 2006 when just five percent of nameplates omitted a spare. As fuel-economy standards rise to 54.5 mpg for 2025, automakers are desperate to reduce weight and the spare tire is arguably the lowest-hanging fruit. Replacing a spare tire with a four-pound inflator kit can cut as much as 30 pounds from a vehicle’s curb weight, and the donut can be removed without the extensive engineering or major investment other weight-saving technologies require.

AAA identified 136 models that don’t include a spare tire as standard equipment, although some of those vehicles do offer one as an option. Every major automaker, from Acura to Volvo, sells at least one car without a fifth wheel and tire. The list is heavy with sports cars, coupes, and hybrids, where space is at a premium, and German luxury cars and crossovers, which often use run-flat tires.

By AAA’s estimate, more than 29 million cars sold in the United States in the last 10 model years don’t have a spare tire. Drivers who aren’t aware their car has no spare are likely to make that realization at the worst possible time: when they’re stranded on the side of the road with a deflated tire. In most cases, car manufacturers substitute an inflator kit for the spare tire. However, inflator kits are extremely limited in what kind of damage they can repair. They’re only effective on clean punctures through the center of the tread, such as picking up a nail, and the object must still be embedded in the tire to act as a plug. Inflators can’t be used on damage from a blowout, curb strike, or pothole. The sealant also renders the tire-pressure monitoring sensor on that wheel inoperable, and replacements can cost up to $200 apiece.

There is one consolation to counter the trend of disappearing donuts. Modern tire technology means flats are fairly uncommon these days. Tire manufacturer Michelin estimates that drivers average more than 70,000 miles between flat tires.

Car and Driver
Written By – Eric Tingwall

VW fined $13 million for emissions fraud in Brazil

SAO PAULO (Reuters) — Brazil’s environmental agency Ibama said on Thursday it would fine Germany’s Volkswagen AG 50 million reais ($13 million) for defrauding local emissions testing requirements.

The company said in October that it plans to recall 17,057 Amarok pickup trucks sold in Brazil to correct software allowing the vehicles to skirt diesel emissions tests, as Volkswagen admitted to doing in the United States.


VW sets Nov. 30 deadline for whistleblowers to come forward

BERLIN (Reuters) — Volkswagen AG set a Nov. 30 deadline for workers to come forward and disclose information about the company’s two emissions scandals in a move to speed up investigations.

Europe’s largest automaker has been making slow progress in finding out who had knowledge of the rigging of diesel emissions tests two months after the violations became public in the United States, and last week also admitted to cheating on carbon dioxide emissions certifications.

Under the whistleblower program, approved by VW’s top management, workers who get in touch with internal investigators no later than Nov. 30 will be exempt from dismissals and damage claims, according to a letter from VW brand chief Herbert Diess to staff seen by Reuters on Thursday.

“We are counting on your cooperation and knowledge as our company’s employees to get to the bottom of the diesel and CO2 issue,” Diess was quoted as saying in the document. “In this process, every single day counts.”

His comments confirmed an earlier report by Sueddeutsche Zeitung jointly with German broadcasters NDR and WDR.

VW has said it hired advisory firm Deloitte and U.S. law firm Jones Day to investigate under what circumstances the company installed software into diesel cars that changed engine settings to reduce emissions whenever the vehicle was put through tests.

A source at VW said the executive and supervisory boards initially sought to have the whistleblower program run through the end of the year but, encouraged by recent positive feedback, decided to set the more ambitious November deadline.

Whistleblower programs were successfully employed years ago by German engineering group Siemens and VW’s truck-making subsidiary, MAN, to help unveil corruption amid ongoing bribery probes.