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What does RPM stand for?

You notice it every time you get in the car — when you start the engine, the gauge called a tachometer tells you the RPMs. But, particularly if you don’t have a manual transmission, maybe you don’t entirely understand what that’s about, why it’s important, and you’re a little too self-conscious to ask. No worries, we’ll break it down for you here in this video. 

Transcript: What does RPM stand for? RPM stands for “revolutions per minute.” It’s a measure of how fast the engine is spinning. In general, the faster an engine spins, the more power it makes. An engine works by burning air and gas to push the pistons down. That force makes the crankshaft spin, which is what ultimately drives the wheels of the car. How much force is transmitted to the crankshaft is called torque. Horsepower is a measure of work over a period of time.

At higher RPM, the engine is burning more air and fuel. That means it makes more power and consumes more gas. The tachometer usually displays RPM in thousands. So if the tachometer is pointing to the “2,” it’s turning at 2,000 revolutions per minute. Drivers with manual transmissions use the tachometer as a reference point for when to shift. Not enough RPM could make the engine stall. Too many could hurt the engine.

The engine’s RPM limit is displayed on the tachometer as a red area known as “redline.” Exceeding this limit could cause severe engine damage. It’s generally most efficient to shift at lower RPM. Every car is different, but your owner’s manual may have guidance on efficient shift points.

U.S. drivers in this study have the lowest fuel costs in the world

Owning a car comes with a bunch of unexpected expenses, but most people understand that fuel costs are a big part of the process. Britain’s Xcite Car Leasing recently analyzed fuel costs compiled by GlobalPetrolPrices.com, which showed that drivers in the U.S. pay the least in fuel costs worldwide.

That is, the U.S. is cheapest at least among the nations included in the study. Because Xcite is a British firm, it was most interested in comparing the United Kingdom to the U.S. and the rest of Europe. Note that not even, say, Canada is on this list. But it’s a good reminder that the United States, which among other things is the world’s biggest petroleum producer, is better off than many/most places, if not all.

The United States joins Turkey and Bulgaria as the three countries in the survey with the cheapest global fuel prices. The data looked at gas, diesel and electricity prices in May 2023, and even measured availability of public EV chargers.

The top 10 countries with the cheapest gas prices:

  1. United States
  2. Turkey
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Romania
  5. Hungary
  6. Spain
  7. Sweden
  8. Austria
  9. Portugal
  10. Poland
  11. Czech Republic
  12. Belgium
  13. Germany

The United States’ gas prices were only slightly cheaper than Turkey’s, at 97 cents per liter — which comes out to $3.67 a gallon. (And in fact, the U.S. average price in that calculation is actually higher than the average calculated by AAA for that week in May, which was $3.53.)

The U.S. average for diesel was $1.05 per liter ($3.97/gallon). Turkey landed at $1.26 per liter. Both have solid electricity prices, but they are behind other countries’ EV charging infrastructure to a notable degree. The United States has just 0.05 chargers per square mile compared to the Netherlands, which has 9.02.

Italy was ranked as the most expensive country in the study for fuel, thanks in part to its high electricity costs and sparse EV infrastructure. Xcite noted that the country’s fuel costs are not the most expensive, an honor that Denmark earned, but Italy’s poor scores in electricity costs and other areas helped it grab the “top” spot.

The Xcite study was conducted with an eye on the European market. There, diesel costs are expected to climb significantly over the next two decades. Countries like Sweden and Turkey could see diesel fuel prices increase by as much as 80 percent over the next 30 years.

Diesel prices are one thing, but gas (petrol) prices are another. Switzerland is expected to have the highest gas prices by 2050. Turkey and the U.S. remain at the bottom of the list, but all countries in the study showed significant gains in gas prices over 30 years.

Just looking as far out as 2030, the data indicate Americans will be paying an average of £0.89/liter ($3.37/gallon), still the cheapest by far. While on the more expensive end of the range, drivers in Denmark and Sweden could be paying over £2/liter — that’s $9.60/gallon. 

2025 GMC Terrain fully revealed in spy photos

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2025 GMC Terrain fully revealed in spy photos originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 10 Jun 2024 11:51:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Rating the best rental car companies in 2024 (and ‘best’ is not so good)

If taking an airline flight doesn’t generate enough anxiety, there’s the march from the arrival gate to the rental car counter. A recent report from the ConsumerAffairs watchdog organization examined consumers’ experiences to rate the best rental car companies from among eight major brands. The highest score possible was five stars, with one star the lowest.

The top rated company, National, received 2.3 stars.

That’s not an awfully convincing measure of trust. And consider that six of the eight rental firms were each rated at less that two stars. Besides National and its sister brands — Enterprise and Alamo — the companies that were ranked in the survey included Hertz, which owns Dollar and Thrifty, and Avis, aligned with Budget.

What’s wrong with this picture? The customer reactions can be attributed to one major factor: frustration. To illustrate the situations, ConsurmerAffairs asked some customers to tell them about their dealings with rental car services.

Among them was Drew, of Lakeville, Minn., who said he rented a car from Alamo at the Sarasota, Fla., airport. After driving off the lot, he said a dashboard warning advised that there was zero percent of life left in the engine oil, suggesting the vehicle had not been serviced recently.

“After speaking to roadside assistance, they told me I was unable to drive the vehicle and they were sending someone to tow the vehicle and setting up an Uber to bring me to another branch to exchange the vehicle,” Drew wrote. But Drew said the new location had no cars. He was told to drive to his lodging and that a manager would call with a new plan. Drew said no call ever came.

Another episode involved tolls. A Massachusetts woman said she’d rented a car from Dollar at San Francisco’s airport and was asked if she would cross any toll bridges. Nope, she said. Nonetheless, she was charged an extra $134.91 for pre-paid tolls, just in case. She said she was told she would be credited that amount if she encountered no tolls.

“When I returned the car I told the attendant that I did not use any toll roads and wanted that charge removed,” she told the consumer group. “He told me I would have to speak with someone in the office. I contacted them when I returned home and was told that since I signed the rental agreement with the charge, that I was responsible for the charges.”

ConsumerAffairs has compiled more examples of rental car drama, listed here.

Rating the best car rental companies in 2024:

  1. National, 2.3 stars
  2. Alamo, 2.1
  3. Enterprise, 1.6
  4. Dollar, 1.2
  5. Hertz, 1.1
  6. Thrifty, 1.1
  7. Avis, 1.1
  8. Budget, 1.1

Costco Auto Program adds the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra through July

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Costco Auto Program adds the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra through July originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 3 Jun 2024 12:45:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2024 GMC Acadia First Drive Review: Big on character

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2024 GMC Acadia First Drive Review: Big on character originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 13 Jun 2024 09:00:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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The 10 cheapest vehicles to own and operate over 5 years

It’s no secret that cars cost money to own and operate, but the differences in running expenses between models can be shocking. MarketWatch Guides‘ new study calculated the five-year costs for gas models, finding that the Hyundai Venue is less than half as expensive to own as some luxury vehicles.

The Venue’s five-year costs amounted to $22,761 in the study, followed by the Hyundai Elantra at $22,788.

The 10 cheapest vehicles to run for 5 years:

  1. Hyundai Venue: $22,761
  2. Hyundai Elantra: $22,788
  3. Nissan Sentra: $23,407
  4. Honda Accord: $23,509
  5. Toyota Corolla: $23,854
  6. Hyundai Tucson: $24,543
  7. Kia Soul: $24,543
  8. Hyundai Sonata: $25,788
  9. Ford Escape ST-Line Select: $25,869
  10. Volkswagen Tiguan: $26,149

MarketWatch used gas, insurance, repairs, and financing costs to calculate its running expenses. Looking at the purchase prices of the vehicles on this list, it’s not surprising to see that most of them are going for affordability, and that extends to operating expenses. The Venue’s 31 mpg combined fuel economy rating likely helped it achieve its impressively low running costs.

A handful of models went the opposite way. The most expensive vehicle to run in the study, the Porsche Cayenne, required an outlay of $56,010 over five years. The Porsche Macan was second, at $48,653, and the BMW X5 xDrive40i was third, at $48,456.

The study did not use depreciation to calculate running costs, but MarketWatch ran the numbers to separately compare residual values between comparable gas and electric models. The Mini Cooper Countryman and Mini Cooper Electric had similar depreciation costs over five years, with just $283 between their numbers. The Chevy Malibu and Chevy Bolt were second closest after five years, with $635 between them. The Audi A3 and Audi E-Tron GT had the most significant difference in depreciation, with the electric E-Tron registering a $29,164 larger price drop after the five-year period.

Used cars to avoid, ranked by Consumer Reports

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Used cars to avoid, ranked by Consumer Reports originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 26 Jun 2024 11:05:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Used car lemon law: Your rights and protections explained

Car repairDoes it seem that your car is in for repairs more than it’s in your driveway, or more to the point, for the same repairs, over and over again? If that’s the case, lemon laws might apply to you. Simply put, lemon laws are meant to give you some legal leverage to seek a refund for the purchase price of your vehicle (or replacement) and…

Automakers ask NHTSA to scrap new automatic emergency braking rule

WASHINGTON — A group representing major automakers asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to reconsider the rule issued in April requiring nearly all new cars and trucks by 2029 to have advanced automatic emergency braking systems.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, representing General Motors, Toyota Motor, Volkswagen and nearly all other automakers said the requirement adopted in April that all cars and trucks would be able to stop and avoid striking vehicles in front of them at up to 62 miles per hour is “practically impossible with available technology.”

Congress directed NHTSA in the 2021 infrastructure law to create a rule to establish minimum performance standards for automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems, which use sensors like cameras and radar to detect when a vehicle is close to crashing and then automatically applies brakes if the driver has not done so.

The group said NHTSA’s stringent requirements at higher driving speeds will result in vehicles “automatically applying the brakes far in advance of what a typical driver and others on the road would expect” resulting in rear-end collisions. It also argued NHTSA “vastly underestimated the necessary and costly hardware and software change required for vehicles to comply.

“NHTSA’s action will require more costly systems that won’t improve driver or pedestrian safety,” said the auto group’s CEO John Bozzella in a letter to Congress, adding the agency rejected automakers concerns and the regulation “points to the breakdown of a deliberative rulemaking process at the country’s top traffic safety watchdog.”

The requirement is the one of the most far reaching U.S. auto safety regulations in recent years. Safety advocates said existing systems were not performing well especially at night. They say the new rules are needed to ensure more crashes are avoided.

NHTSA did not immediately comment but said in April the rule will save at least 360 lives annually and prevent at least 24,000 injuries as traffic deaths spiked after COVID-19.

The rule requires the system to apply brakes automatically up to 90 mph when collision with a lead vehicle is imminent, and up to 45 mph when a pedestrian is detected.

Automakers said NHTSA should adopt a European standard that detects potential forward collisions, provides driver warnings and automatically engages the braking system.

In 2016, 20 automakers voluntarily agreed to make automatic emergency braking standard on nearly all U.S. vehicles by 2022 and by December all 20 had equipped at least 95% of vehicles with AEB, but critics say there is no way to ensure the effectiveness without government regulations.

NHTSA in March 2023 proposed requiring nearly all vehicles to comply in three years, but automakers are now getting five years.