How to Get a Newfangled Car through the Car Wash



I’m a big fan of Car Talk. I thought this was a really great question and wanted to share it.


Dear Car Talk:

I have a 2017 Buick LaCrosse that has the gas-saving feature of shutting off the engine at stops and then restarting when the brake is released. It also has an unfortunate feature of putting the transmission into park whenever the start/stop button is pushed to stop the engine; the only way to leave the car in neutral is to leave the engine running.

So, how do I manage to get the car through a commercial car wash? Are they familiar with this peculiarity? I asked a salesman at my Buick dealer this question. His response was that the car-wash tracks are wet and, therefore, slippery: “Just leave it in park and let the wheels slide.” That is about the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Is there a way to run the car through a car wash without sliding the tires? The only way I can think of is to leave the engine running, and then the transmission can be put into neutral. However, I don’t think the car-wash people would like that. — Newton

The salesman’s an idiot, Newton. I mean, I’m an idiot, too, but since this is my column, I’ll call him out first.

Putting the car in neutral is exactly what you should do. If your car wash is the most common type, where the driver stays in the car, then you can leave it running, use the foot brake when you come out the other end, then put it back in drive and go. If it’s a car wash that requires you to exit the vehicle, you may have to open the driver’s door first, before putting the car in neutral, to prevent it from shifting into park automatically when you open the door.

Actually, lots of cars are having trouble getting through automatic car washes these days. Car washes haven’t had this much publicity since “The Bikini Carwash Company II” came out in 1993. It turns out a lot of the new “autonomous driving” safety equipment is not playing well with these car- cleaning tunnels. For instance, a lot of new cars have a wonderful feature called “automatic emergency braking.” If the car senses an object in front of you — like a stopped car or a human dressed as a tuna fish sandwich — and you don’t brake in time, it assumes you’re distracted and it automatically stops itself for you. Now, what do you think it does when it sees a giant spinning buffer heading toward your grille (unless the system disengages itself when the car is put in neutral)?

Other cars automatically apply the parking brake if the car is stopped for more than a few seconds. This also is a great safety improvement. It’s prevented people from stepping out of the car without putting the transmission in park first and running over themselves. Hey, it happens!

So for people like you, with newer cars, you’ll have to check your owner’s manual. More and more of them now have instructions for going through an automatic car wash. It’s more complicated than in the old days, when all you had to do was decline the muffler polish, give the guy your eight bucks and remember to close the window. Now you often have to disable a bunch of safety features, lest you find yourself at the front of the line, unable to go forward through the car wash, with 16 people behind you getting furious while you scan the index of your owner’s manual.

I’m not intimately familiar with the 2017 Buick LaCrosse, but if it’ll stay in neutral with the car running, and it doesn’t have those safety features engaged, you should be fine. Hope you can clean yourself up, Newton.

Dear Car Talk How to Get a Newfangled Car through the Car Wash

Ray Magliozzi

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Should heavy-duty pickup trucks have window stickers and fuel mileage estimates?

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Big diesels have their benefits, but perhaps fuel mileage isn’t one of them.

Continue reading Should heavy-duty pickup trucks have window stickers and fuel mileage estimates?

Should heavy-duty pickup trucks have window stickers and fuel mileage estimates? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 23 Sep 2017 11:30:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Vail Resorts and GMC Announce Exclusive Partnership

Vail Resorts and GMC Announce Exclusive Partnership


BROOMFIELD, Colo. – Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN), the leading global mountain resort company has partnered exclusively with the premium truck and SUV manufacturer GMC. This multi-year agreement marries GMC’s professional grade identity to Vail Resorts’ mission to provide guests with an experience of a lifetime.

This partnership will provide guests of Vail Resorts’ 13 North American ski resorts with an exceptional GMC brand experience through onsite activations and signature resort events year-round, along with a complimentary vehicle service available at premier Vail Resorts’ lodging properties.

Key components of the partnership include:

  • Complimentary vehicle service using Yukon XL Denalis at select Vail Resorts Hospitality and RockResorts lodging properties in Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City and Heavenly, including:
    • The Arrabelle at Vail Square, A RockResort
    • The Lodge at Vail, A RockResort
    • Vail Marriott Mountain Resort
    • The Pines Lodge, A RockResort (Beaver Creek)
    • The Osprey at Beaver Creek, A RockResort
    • One Ski Hill Place, A RockResort (Breckenridge)
    • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Breckenridge
    • Keystone Lodge & Spa
    • Grand Summit Lodge, A RockResort (Park City)
    • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Park City
    • Zalanta (Heavenly)
  • Complimentary vehicle service offered through the White Carpet Club in Beaver Creek, a daily private club for destination skiers that features spacious lockers; boot dryers; light food and beverage; an intimate lounge; and a dedicated on-site concierge.
  • Vehicle displays and branding throughout Vail Resorts’ 13 ski resorts in North America, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada; Stowe in Vermont; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan.
  • GMC will be the presenting sponsor at signature resort events of Vail Resorts, including Snow Daze (Vail), Beaver Creek Culinary Weekend, Spring Fever (Breckenridge), Spring Gruv (Park City) and many more. 

“GMC’s ‘Professional Grade’ brand and remarkable attention to design and detail are well aligned with Vail Resorts’ collection of world-class mountain resort destinations,” said Kirsten Lynch, chief marketing officer of Vail Resorts. “We’re looking forward to sharing the GMC experience with guests at our resorts through on-snow activations and complimentary vehicle programs at a selection of our casually elegant lodging properties.”

“Similar to Vail Resorts, GMC provides its customers the ability to experience life’s adventurous side through our premium vehicle offerings. We are eager to kick off this partnership, and the upcoming ski season, by inviting Vail Resorts guests to live to a higher standard through their experience with our bold and capable trucks and SUVs,” said Rich Latek, director of GMC Marketing. 

About Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN)

Vail Resorts, Inc., through its subsidiaries, is the leading global mountain resort operator. Vail Resorts’ subsidiaries operate 11 world-class mountain resorts and three urban ski areas, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada; Perisher in Australia; Stowe in Vermont; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan. Vail Resorts owns and/or manages a collection of casually elegant hotels under the RockResorts brand, as well as the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estate planning and development subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MTN). The Vail Resorts company website is and consumer website is

About GMC

GMC has manufactured trucks since 1902, with innovation and engineering excellence built into all GMC vehicles. The brand is evolving to offer more fuel-efficient trucks and crossovers, including the Terrain small SUV and Acadia crossover. GMC’s highest-volume vehicle, the Sierra pickup, is the most powerful light-duty pickup on the market, and the first full-size pickup to receive the highest-possible five-star Overall Vehicle Score for safety since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration changed its New Car Assessment Program for the 2011 model year. Details on all GMC models are available at, on Twitter at @thisisgmc or at


Junkyard Gem: 1992 Buick Century Woodie station wagon

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During the early 1990s, not every family needing a capacious hauler opted for a minivan or SUV. Some still followed the traditions of their forefathers and bought station wagons with faux-wood exterior panels. Here’s one in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard.

Continue reading Junkyard Gem: 1992 Buick Century Woodie station wagon

Junkyard Gem: 1992 Buick Century Woodie station wagon originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 09 Oct 2017 13:16:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2018 Buick Enclave First Drive Review | Fortress of quietude

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ATLANTA, Ga. — The 2018 Enclave is part of Buick’s effort to reinvigorate its brand, positioning itself as a maker of “attainable luxury” vehicles. That means a total redesign, a number of safety and technology upgrades, and the introduction of the Avenir sub-brand (think of that last one as sort of the Denali of Buick). It also means more space and more luxury. With this in mind, we traveled to Atlanta to get to know the new Enclave, both in the city and on a long drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains into North Carolina.

Our first impressions of the new Enclave came not from the driver’s seat, but from a

captain’s chair in the second row (which is the traditional seating arrangement for a true captain, of course). We were riding from the Atlanta airport to a studio to learn more about the vehicle. That very first impression was, “Wow, this interior is really nice.” The leather upon which we sat was soft, smooth to the touch, and interesting in its shapeliness. Looking around the cabin, we saw a lot of gentle curves and thoughtful accents that made the inside of the Enclave feel downright premium. It was a fresh and airy sense of taste though, and definitely not the seasoned wood-and-whiskey stodginess one might expect from the Buick name.

Our second impression: “Boy, it’s quiet in here.” Heading toward downtown Atlanta on the freeway, we were unable to pick up wind noise, and only just a smidge of road noise as the Enclave trundled over the occasional rough patch of pavement. This is, of course, completely intentional on the part of Buick. The windshield and front windows use acoustic glass. The doors are triple sealed for a tighter, quieter fit when closed. Buick has insulated the Enclave with more sound deadening and included active noise cancellation. “Our goal is to make it as social as possible,” said Dean Perelli, chief engineer for the Enclave. And social it is. It is easy to carry on conversation across the Enclave’s three roomy rows.

2018 Buick Enclave

When we got out of the Enclave, we had a chance to take it in from the outside. It features attractive, wing-like lighting front and rear. The front signature lighting uses technology called “Evonik Acrylite,” (a mouthful, even for the engineers) which is a polycarbonate material arranged in a dazzling, faceted and delicate array. The paint finishes we saw were attractive, with depth. The Enclave features a floating-style roof that extends into a rear spoiler, and it makes the rear three-quarter view our favorite angle from which to view the car. We really enjoyed the contrast of the painted rear bumper, a classier look than plastic cladding, which would have looked too rough for this refined Enclave. Its large aluminum alloy wheels look sporty, and offer nice finishes as well, our favorite being a just slightly less-than-glossy almost-chrome.

The new Enclave has a wheelbase two inches longer than the previous generation, which translates to more room for third-row passengers. The packaging of the suspension – MacPehrson front and five-link rear – is more compact than previous generations, allowing Buick to take advantage of the added space. The “Magic Slide” second-row captain’s chair on the passenger side can kneel forward to allow rear egress even with a child seat strapped on. There’s a good amount of room for stuff, too. The floor of the rear cargo area lifts up to reveal a deep well with hooks to keep your groceries in place. The spare tire is located even further below that, thanks to some spatial miracle on the part of Buick.

Before we got behind the wheel, we learned a bit about the air quality system. Not only does the Enclave feature tri-zone automatic climate control, it also has an ionizer for air purification. Located in the ductwork, it produces negative ions that capture finer pollutants and allergens like dust, pollen, smoke, bacteria, viruses and odors, and clumps them together to make them either fall out of the air or become more easily caught in the air filter. If you’re someone who suffers from seasonal allergies or lives in a smoggy city, you might appreciate this technology.

2018 Buick Enclave2018 Buick Enclave2018 Buick Enclave2018 Buick Enclave

The Enclave is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 producing 310 horsepower and 266 pound feet of torque. That power goes to the wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission. While it’s not underpowered, it’s not exactly what we’d call quick, either – 0-60 miles per hour comes in 6.4 seconds in the front-wheel drive version, while the all-wheel drive Enclave makes the same sprint in 7.1 seconds. There’s enough get-up to merge at highway speeds on a short onramp. The V6 mostly makes itself unheard, but on the occasions it does pipe up, it produces a pleasant note.

The really impressive thing about this powertrain is its smoothness, and the transmission is truly the highlight of the new Enclave’s refined drive experience. This CUV is already quiet, but its buttery shifts make acceleration a completely drama-free activity, and almost CVT-like in its linearity (without the awful droning that often accompanies continuously variable transmissions). While we could hear the shifts happening under full throttle, we couldn’t really feel them. We didn’t find much value or engagement using the paddles on the back of the steering wheel, and preferred to let this exceptional transmission sort the gears on its own.

The Enclave’s ride is just as isolating as the rest of the driving experience. Our car also had the upgraded suspension with continuous damping control. “We tied it down more than other vehicles,” Perelli told us ahead of our drive. This all translated to a calm ride up front, with the bumps largely unfelt and body roll quite well managed, even in the hairpin corners on the rural highways of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sitting in the third row, though, we felt more motion through the suspension, but it was still comfortable through the corners.

Make no mistake about it, though: This is a big vehicle. On Atlanta’s city streets, it was difficult to be confident about placing the Enclave in its lane, mostly because the corners of the vehicle are hidden from view. While it might be a little tricky on a tight city street, the Enclave offers a number of features to help ensure safety and make the drive easier. It has a rear-view camera (with a spray nozzle), which displays in the mirror to provide a wider view à la the Cadillac CT6. A 360-degree camera view is extremely helpful when parking. Lane-keep assist is subtle, and helps keep it steady on the highway, where the lines are generally more defined. The adaptive cruise control works well, bringing the car to a full stop.

2018 Buick Enclave

The Enclave is also a connected vehicle. In addition to OnStar, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it offers 4G LTE Wi-Fi running on AT&T’s cellular service. In all but the most remote parts of our trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains, it worked quite well with a number of people using it simultaneously. There’s enough room, even in the third row, to whip out a laptop and work online, assuming you’re not prone to motion sickness. Our vehicle also had a couple of USB ports in every row, allowing us to charge a phone from any seat in the vehicle.

For years, Buick was a bit of a punching bag, and while some of the shade tossed its way has been unfair or cliché, much of it was deserved. It’s rare for a product from the brand to stir up much emotion either way. Frankly, we were caught off guard by the way the 2018 Enclave — not just a Buick, but a crossover — made us feel, and it has us rethinking the brand. The price tag might still be a deterrent for some buyers, but if you’re looking at an Acura MDX or an Infiniti QX60, you ought to take a look at the Enclave, too. You might be just as surprised by it as we were. Furthermore, you might find some GM dealer incentives to sweeten the deal.
Unless it’s a fluke, the 2018 Enclave demonstrates a renewed savviness on the part of the brand in terms of technology, design, attention to detail, and that hard-to-quantify but perhaps most important quality, charisma. If this CUV is evidence of the brand’s new tack, (and Buick has basically said as much) we won’t be as surprised with Buick’s success as we were about how much this new Enclave resonates with us. In fact, this new Buick is something we could really get used to.

Continue reading 2018 Buick Enclave First Drive Review | Fortress of quietude

2018 Buick Enclave First Drive Review | Fortress of quietude originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 06 Oct 2017 09:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Collisions more common in urban areas, but rural deaths higher

Car crash death rates get increasingly high as population density drops, fueled in part by lower seat belt use in the remotest rural areas, a U.S. study suggests.

“We already knew that death rates were higher and seat belt use was lower in rural versus urban areas,” said lead study author Laurie Beck, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. “This study expanded those findings to show that, even within rural areas, there are differences in passenger-vehicle occupant death rates and seat belt use,” Beck said by email.

Car crashes are a leading cause of death nationwide, CDC researchers note in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. While collisions are more common on urban roads, fatalities occur more often in rural regions. For the study, CDC researchers examined data based on six categories of population density from the most metropolitan, with at least 1 million city residents, to the most rural, with fewer than 2,500 residents living in urban communities.

Passenger vehicles included cars, light trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles. Crash deaths focused on adults 18 or older, and excluded younger passengers.  Even within the primarily urban Northeast, crash death rates ranged from 3.5 fatalities for every 100,000 people in the most urban counties to 10.8 deaths for every 100,000 people in counties with fewer than 20,000 residents in metropolitan areas.

In the South, where more people live outside big cities, crash death rates ranged from 6.8 fatalities for every 100,000 people in the most urban areas to 29.2 deaths for every 100,000 people in the least urban areas, with less than 2,500 residents in urban communities.  Seatbelt use ranged from about 89 percent in the most urban counties to slightly less than 75 percent in the most urban counties.

Researchers also looked at how crash death rates changed based on whether states had so-called primary seat belt laws – which allow traffic stops just for failure to wear seat belts – or what’s known as secondary seat belt laws, which permit tickets only in conjunction with other violations.

Even in Northeast states with primary seat belt laws, crash death rates were lower in cities and highest in rural communities.  Among all states with primary seat belt laws nationwide, overall crash death rates were lowest in the Northeast at 3.9 fatalities for every 100,000 people and highest in the South with 10.9 deaths for every 100,000 people.

One limitation of the study is that researchers calculated crash-death rates based on where the victim lived, not where the collision occurred, the authors note. This might have underestimated the difference in fatalities between urban and rural areas because drivers who travel across different regions are more likely to head from small towns to big cities, the authors point out.

Still, lower seat belt use in rural areas clearly contributes to higher death rates, said Dr. Jacob Sunshine, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle who wasn’t involved in the study. “Other potential contributing factors include higher speeds that are readily achieved in rural areas compared to urban areas; increased per-capita levels of impaired driving; and less proximity to designated trauma centers following traumatic injuries sustained in a motor vehicle crash,” Sunshine said by email.

Lower wages and higher unemployment in some rural communities might also mean more people are driving older cars with fewer safety features to prevent fatalities in a crash, Sunshine added.  But the study also shows that stricter seat belt laws can make a difference, especially with more stringent enforcement, he said.

“Seat belts are proven to save lives and we should educate drivers and passengers about their benefits,” Sunshine said. “Laws are important too; enforcement needs to be a priority, particularly in rural areas.”

SOURCE: CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, online September 22, 2017.