DCJ Auto Blog

If you love cars, you love to talk about them. We do and that’s why we have the DCJ auto blog. Entries range from ramblings about racing to new models to just about anything to do with cars.


11.3.09: Ford's Big Profit!

Sometimes the good guys do win. Of the "Big Three", only Ford didn't take taxpayer money. In polls, many Americans said they looked favorably on Ford for this reason and would consider buying the brand. Polls are usually pretty fickle, but this one seems to be accurate. With a little help from the Cash for Clunkers program, Ford just reported profits in excess of a billion dollars! What do you know? You CAN run an American car company profitably without using taxpayer money. Who'd of thunk it!

11.2.09: NASCAR – Turn Out The Lights, The Party Is Over…

The coronation of Jimmie Johnson is now complete. Four in a row. Yes, there are still a couple of races to go, but is there any doubt any longer? There shouldn’t be. Johnson escaped the “big one” at  Talladega and even managed to stroll on up to a 6th place finish. He now nearly has a 200 point lead in the Championship and there is little chance of anyone even remotely challenging him. All that being said, that was some seriously boring racing.

11.1.09: Abu Dhabi F1 Track

The Formula One season came to an end over the weekend with the first race ever at the Abu Dhabi track. The race was nothing to get excited about, but the track was simply obscene. Pull it up on a video if you like. The track runs through a hotel and is just a staggering track. There are long straights, lots of passing points and so on. Perhaps the most amazing is the giant Ferrari World building that looks nearly as big as the entire track. Words fail me. Pull it up online. The place had to cost a few billion dollars to build. Hey, your oil dollars at work!

 

10.21.09: Can NASCAR Be Saved?

Well, of course it can. Still, all those empty seats at the Lowe's speedway Saturday night were very hard to ignore. This is a premier track in the heart of NASCAR country. If it was that empty, the powers that be in NASCAR have to be shaking in their boots. The combination of a lack of personalities, boring races, Junior stinking out the joint and economic problems has been a punch to the gut of the sport. You have to think it can only get better, but when.

10.20.09: A Cure For What Ails Junior:

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., has had a season that would have most drivers worried about getting fired. He wont, of course, but there is no denying that things have hit a new low. We know he has the equipment, but it is becoming clearer that the problem with Junior is, well, Junior. His recent comments show a person who is utterly miserable. If it ain't fun, why continue? The key to turning around Junior is to make things fun again. To do that, I suggest Hendrick force him to go race in non-stock car races this offseason. Try a little offroading, dirt tracking or whatever. If driving becomes fun again, he'll feel better coming to the track and that can only help.

10.19.09: Jimmie Johnson Puts Strangle Hold on Chase:

The inevitable seems to be happening again. Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus have the tracks for the Chase down pat. Jimmie came through to win at Lowes this weekend and many of the prime players fell away to the back. Jeff Gordon, who looked done a few races ago, is now up to third. It isn’t so much that he is moving up as the competition is moving down. The Chase now comes down to Johnson, Martin and Gordon. Guess who my money is on?

10.19.09: Jenson Button Wins F1 Driver’s Championship!

It took him long enough, but Jenson Button finally secured the F1 driver’s championship. He had driven very poorly the last six races or so, but finally put in a drive commiserate with a Formula One champion in Brazil. He was aggressive. He passed like a wild man. He came from 14th to finish 5th and put an end to his Bataan death march to the championship.

10.19.09: Is Ross Brawn God?

The Brazilian Grand Prix saw Brawn GP wrap up the constructor’s championship. For my money, there is nothing that has ever compared in sports. The story is well-known. Honda tried to liquidate the team before the season. Ross and some investors paid nominal amounts to keep the team running. The team was so green that it didn’t even have a single sponsor on the car for much of the first quarter of the season! Despite all of this, they beat McLaren, Ferrari, BMW and all the pretenders. After his years of dominance at Ferrari with Schumacher, Ross Brawn simply deserves all the kudos coming his way and more. He is officially a racing god.

10.15.09: Signs the End Is Near!

The economy is a disaster and there is no disputing that. I tend to be a "glass is half full" person, but even I am a bit worried about the future. This is particularly true since I recently saw a sign that surely ensures the end is near. What is it? Lamborghini is offering 0% financing to buyers on its new cars. Lamborghini! We are in deep trouble!

10.13.09: Is Cash for Clunkers Taxable?

You have to love the net. Rumors start up and fly like wild fire. One that has popped up lately is that those people who bought cars under the Cash for Clunkers program will have to pay tax on their $4,500 benefit. Is this true? No, but why let facts get in the way? You can read more here:

10.12.09: Jimmie Johnson Wins in California - Takes Chase Lead:

Is it just me or has NASCAR become boring. To the surprise of nobody, Jimmie Johnson won in California and now leads the Chase. It would be a monumental upset if he lost. Regardless, NASCAR is failing the flip test. What is that? It is the channel flipping I do on Sundays with the TV remote. I might take a quick look at NASCAR, but always end up on footbal. I even watches the Falcons blowout over the 49ers instead of the Chase. If you are doing the same thing, that is a bad sign for NASCAR.

10.5.09: It's Great! - Tony Stewart Returns:

It was looking like a classic NASCAR season. The dominant car all season would get to the chase and then fade badlly. It was Kyle Busch last year and Tony Stewart looked to be following the trend this season. Then he won yesterday to make a move to get back into the chase. With the dominance of the Hendrick machinery, they should just rename the chase the Hendrick sprint championships!

10.4.09: McLaren - Mercedes Split in Formula One?

Rumors are flying that Mercedes has had enough of the questionable conduct at the McLaren Team. Between stealing Ferrari intellectual property and getting caught red handled lying to stewards this year, Mercedes apparently feels its name is being tarnished by McLaren. It appears Mercedes will leave and buy most of the Brawn Team. Rumor has it Mercedes will buy the defunct BMW engine program. If this occurs, look for Brawn to be strong next year and McLaren to fade away. I wonder how Lewis Hamilton is feeling about now.

9.28.09: Car Care When Weather Turns Chilly

The weather is turning a might bit chilly. You know what that means. You need to take a look at your car and prepare for the coming temperature drop. Make sure your fluids are up to snuff and check your coolant. Of particular note, make sure you check the tires. Cold air will drop air pressures. This will cause your gas mileage to drop and your tires to wear out. Also, check your wipers. It sounds a bit daft, but nothing is worse than a broken wiper when it starts raining and you are on a freeway somewhere.

9.23.09: Cash for Clunkers Follow Up:

The media is enraged because the month after the end of the Cash for Clunkers program ended, sales are down. Ummm...what did anyone expect to happen? Sales go UP? This is much ado about nothing and really makes you wonder about the credibility of the "financial experts" on these news shows. The program did what it was supposed to. It bought time for the auto industry while also giving it a much needed shot of adrenaline. Money well spent in my opinion.

9.16.09: Renault Admits to Race-Fixing!

It doesn't get any uglier than this. Wayward driver Nelson Piquet had accused the Renault Team of ordering him to intentionally crash to win the Singapore Grand Prix. The FIA had called for an investigation, but it was hard to see how this could possibly be proved by the driver. Well, no need. Renault today said it will not contest the charges and Fabio Briatore and Pat Symonds, the head of the team, are no longer with the outfit. In short, Renault admitted to race fixing!

The particularly intersting thing about this is the motivation of Renault. The company has always had an iffy committment to Formula One. Many are wondering if this allegation gave the company the out it needed to leave the championship. Given the damage it does to the reputation of Renault, it is hard to believe they would go in this direction. Still, one never knows.

9.14.09: No Kyle for the Chase

The race for the Chase was decided over the weekend in NASCAR. Kyle Busch did not make it. He missed out by 8 points. This is somewhat odd considering he has won 4 races this year while four of the drivers in the chase haven't won any! I guess this rewards consistency. Personally, I prefer it when racing rewards excellence. NASCAR needs to make wins more important.

9.11.09: New Proposed Mini Cooper Coupe is Sweet!:

The Mini Cooper has always carried a unique and stylish design. Some love it. Some don't. Compared to all the boring designs you see on the road these days, I happen to be a fan. Well, Mini is coming out with a Coupe that is even better than their current offering. Take a look at the little beast here.

9.8.09: And We're Back:

The end of summer was a glorious time, but one offline. And now we're back. As we roll into the fall, you should be thinking about some maintenance on your car. As the weather turns cold, make sure you have the appropriate car fluids. Of particular importance, watch those tire pressures. Air naturally condences as temperatures cool, which means your car will be running on semi-flat tires. This will lead to poor handling and even worse mileage. With gas prices going back up, that's not a good thing!8.18.09: Upgrade Your Brakes!

Sick of constantly having to deal with brake problems. If the pads aren't wearing out, the rotors seem to be going on the fritz. Ready to be really miffed? Many cars have insufficent brake systems. They are designed for one chassis and then just put on later chassis as a modular part. The problem is some of the later models of cars are either heavier or have more performance abilities. The brakes simply are not up to the task of dealing with this additional pressure and fall apart. If you have constant brake problems, you best bet is to upgrade to "big brake kit" on the aftermarket parts market. These kits are made for bigger burdens. They will work much better than your current model and will last.

8.16.09: Replacing Your Brake Fluid

Most people know they need to replace their oil regularly, but how many know the same with their brake fluid? Well, it is true. You need to change out your brake fluid every two years or as recommended by the manufacturer. The reason is brake fluid will slowly be exposed to water vapor in the air. It absorbs the water vapor and starts to breakdown. You might think your brakes are going bad, but it could really just be the brake fluid is getting watery.

8.15.09: Dodge Reaffirms NASCAR Entry:

In a somewhat surprising move, Dodge has committed to continuing to support its NASCAR teams in the future. Given the amount of money lost by its parent company and the sketchy outlook for the auto industry, this is a bit of a surprise. Of any of the big manufacturers, it was thought Dodge was the most likely to leave. I guess not.

8.12.09: Cash for Clunkers Cranking Along:

A government program that actually works? Egad, what next? lol  Well, the Cash for Clunkers program just helped Ford produce its most positive sales month in over a year. If you are considering trading in that old bomber, here are the Cash for Clunkers Facts.

8.11.09: GM Says Volt To Get 230 MPG in City:

General Motors has announced the new Chevy Volt will get in the 230 miles per gallon range in cities. That is simply staggering. Figure the car has a 10 gallon tank and that means we will fill up about once every 2 months. Could this be a sign GM is back? Call me a skeptic, but I'll believe it when I see it. Still, it is a positive move. The car is due to the market in late 2010.

8.11.09: Schumacher - Not So Fast!

The comeback is over before it began. Michael Schumacher will not be replacing the injured Felipe Massa for the rest of the year. No politics were involved. Schumacher simply can't overcome a bad neck injury he suffered in a motorcycle race. F1 cars turn on a dime and that creates huge G forces. Having a bad neck is not going to cut it in a Formula One car.

8.10.09: Jeff Gordon's Big Crash:

The crash between Sam Hornish and Jeff Gordon at Watkins Glenn was a nasty one. This is even moreso the case because Gordon has a bad back. If you've ever experienced massive back pain, you know how brutal it can be. Once you have it, it is nearly impossible to get rid of. Now imagine trying to wrestle a stock car around the track! Look for Gordon to try major surgery in the offseason to fix it. If it doesn't work, Gordon will retire in a year or two. He has all the championships and money he needs.

7.30.09: Michael Schumacher Returns!

The dramatic accident involving Felipe Massa has left Ferrari in need of a driver. In a stunner, Michael Schumacher has agreed to come out of retirement at the ripe age of 40 to drive for the team until Massa is able to return to the car. Based on Massa's injuries, that pretty much means Schumacher will be in the seat the rest of the 2009 season. All hail the return of the king! 

7.28.09: More People to Buy Fords?

A recent study showed 46 percent of people are more likely to by a Ford. Why? Because the company did not take a bailout. Viva la capitalism! Ford should be rewarded for having its act together and Americans should flock to the company. It is time to reward competence instead of incompetence. Ford makes solid products, so go give them a look.

7.27.09: Juan Pablo Montoya Robbed

You know the story by now. Montoya was dominating at Indy when he was penalized for speed in the pit lane. How fast was he going? .11 of a second to fast. Yes, a little over a tenth of a second to fast. NASCAR is a joke. What a robbery. And to think Montoya probably thought he left politics behind when he left Formula One!

7.25.09: The Brutal Felipe Massa Crash

Motor racing is inherent dangerous. Humans are just not meant to go super fast. Still, the crash of Felipe Massa in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix was a bizarre one. The video keeps being yanked off YouTube, but the accident happened when a spring from the back of Rubens Barrichello’s car fell off and was bouncing on the road. Massa came flying up the straight and the part nailed him on the left hand front of his helmet. He was immediately knocked unconscious. Fortunately, the car was in a lot of open space and slowed as it ran across a gravel trap before hitting a tire barrier. Massa appears to have suffered skull fractures, which is never good. Truly a bizarre, but ugly incident. Here’s hoping for the best.

7.23.09: Hummer Sale In Trouble?

As part of its restructuring, General Motors started selling its various brands to just about anyone that had a nickle to their name. Well, it seems some of those deals may be having problems. The deal to sell Hummer to a Chinese company is apparently in big trouble. Turns out the company that bought the brand only has expereince building dump trucks. Yes, you can insert your own joke here if you like. Regardless, the Chinese Goverment may step in and block the purchase as it doesn't seem to feel the company can pull of making Hummer a viable brand. This would be bad for the reputation of China, thus the desire to nix the deal! Keep an eye out for the news because it will be the questiion of what happens to Hummer?

7.22.09: Home Sales Up...Cars Coming Soon?

The Great Financial Fear of late 2008 and early 2009 seems to be past. Things are rough economically, but we know longer appear to be on the edge of a complete meltdown. One shocking sign is the housing market actually had some good news with home sales increasing recently. Imagine that! This begs the question if car sales will start picking up as well. The auto industry can't stand much more pain and seems to be offering up just about every incentive it can think of. Personally, I'm waiting for the "buy a Dodge and get a date with Angelina Jolie" event. Gotta be soon!

7.21.09: Ultimate Buyout - Ferrari

Imagine you signed a contract for Ferrari to drive in Formula One. Now imagine you had a great first year and won a Championship! What would you do? In the case of Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, you would lose interest and underperform massively the next two years. Your reward? Rumors are circulating that Raikkonen will be bought out of the rest of his contract, which has one year left. The amount of the buyout? Try $28 million dollars. Sheesh, where do I sign up?

7.15.09: Geezer Power - Viva La Mark Martin!

Mark Martin is the elder statesman of NASCAR. It does me plenty of pleasure to watch this 50 year old kick butt on the young wippersnappers out there. Martin won the LifeLock 400 in Chicago is fine fashion. The win pushed him up into 11th place and in the Chase. Let's hope he keeps it going. We geezers gotta unite!

7.13.09: Is Fiat Really the Answer for Chrysler?

Fiat has been missing a long time from the United States auto market. The reason? The car was of such quality that it was said "FIAT" stood for Fix It Again Tony. The brand is popular in Europe, but is this really the company that is set up to come in and save Chrysler? If Fiat couldn't cut it in the US by itself, what makes anyone think it will do it with the added weight of a flailing Chrysler around its neck? Seems an odd move that will inevitably end up in tears.

7.10.09: GM Comes Out of Bankruptcy

Amazingly, the GM bankruptcy has gone as fast as President Obama's team intended. What should have been a complex case was pushed through the system in lightening fashion. General Motors has now come out of bankruptcy, but what does that really mean? The company has lost money for years and one has to wonder how it is suddenly going to start making money now. While certain debts have been cut, the simple fact is GM faces a huge uphill battle to survive. Only time will tell if it makes the climb.

7.7.09: Ford - One American Car Company Doing Well

The Big Three have arguably been reduced to the Big One given the bankruptcy filings of Chrysler and GM. The Big One, Ford, isn't really all that big either. Still, there is a lot of positive developments at Ford. The company has started producing some quality vehicles. The Ford Fusion Hybrid is simply a fantastic car and will give all other hybrids a run for their money. The car drives just like a traditional Fusion, but gets 41 miles to the gallon. That equates to some 700 miles a tank of gas. That, my friend, is pretty incredible. Gasoline prices are going to be rising again, so Ford is positioning itself nicely for future runs on hybrids. What do you know...an American car company that seems to get it.

7.4.09: Happy Fourth!

7.2.09: The Weakness of Hybrids and Electric Vehicles

Much has been made about the possibilities of electric and hybrid vehicles. From a fuel saving perspective, there is much to be said for them. There is a fundemental problem, however. These cars are reliant on battery power. The modern battery holds a charge fairly well, but it is the definite weak link in the chain of these alternative vehicle cars. Say you buy a Prius or other hybrid. Do you know you'll have to replace the battery pack at some point? The cost will be $3000 or more! Talk about a bad surprise! Until battery technology improves, the electric car really isn't going to be a big possibility.

6.28.09: NASCAR Feels Brunt of GM Bankruptcy

The bankruptcy of giant General Motors has finally hit racing. The company has been cutting way back on its NASCAR investment. The initial cuts were just along the fringes, but no longer. The new news is the big teams have been hit as well. Funding for teams like Hendrick and RCR is down as much as 50 percent. Yikes! Even the biggest teams are not going to be able to deal with that kind of a cut and still function at a high level.

6.24.09: Formula One is Saved

The news is out and Formula One has been saved. What happened? Essentially, the teams were victorious. Max Mosley scrapped most of his demands and even agreed not to seek re-election as the head of the FIA. All that for nothing. Well, at least there will be a team from the USA racing next year. Of course, they'll probably be getting crushed, but it is a start!

6.22.09: Kasey Kahne and Petty Back in Winners Circle

The NASCAR race at Infineon saw an amazing performance by Kasey Kahne. Not only did he win, but he fought off Tony Stewart repeatedly on starts. That's pretty amazing considering Stewart is a much better road racer. The win also was a huge lift for the RPM team. It carries King Richard's name even if it is mostly the Gillett Dodge Team. The Petty name is all but out of NASCAR, so it was good to see one last win for the man in the Black Hat. 

6.19.09: Ford in A Great Position?

We’ve all heard the marketing pitch – change your oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles. It sounds nice, but is wrong. This is just a marketing pitch! Oil does not go bad in three months unless you are driving under absolutely brutal conditions. Even the 3,000 mile mark is highly optimistic. Look to your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer is recommending. Follow it and you’ll be fine.

 6.16.09: Changing Your Oil Every 3 Months?

We’ve all heard the marketing pitch – change your oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles. It sounds nice, but is wrong. This is just a marketing pitch! Oil does not go bad in three months unless you are driving under absolutely brutal conditions. Even the 3,000 mile mark is highly optimistic. Look to your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer is recommending. Follow it and you’ll be fine.

6.15.09: Fight Gas Prices with Maintenance:

As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, the price of gas at the pump is on the way up. The “economic recovery” [their words, not mine] suggest that demand for fuel is rising. It could be speculation as well, but who can really say at this point. What is important is that you take some small steps to make sure your car is fuel efficient. There are three simple steps to take: replace your air filter, get the car tuned-up and make sure the air pressure in your tires is correct. Also, try to forgo the air conditioner as much as possible.

6.13.09: GM To Leave NASCAR?

General Motors is obviously going through a tough time. The teams in NASCAR that drive Chevrolet have been waiting with baited breath to see what happens with the manufacturer. Well, GM has announced it is pulling back on its NASCAR support. Not totally, but a lot. This is going to hurt NASCAR if you care about such things. Perhaps we’ll see Honda, BMW and others come into the sport to make up the difference.

6.11.09: Some Good News for Detroit:

I'm not a huge hocky fan. You probably are not either. That being said, Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals is Friday night. It is being hosted in Detroit as the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburg Penguins duke it out. Here's hoping Detroit wins because that city could certainly use some good news for once. It has been a rough year across the country, but Detroit has certainly had it as bad as anywhere.

6.10.09: The Fiat and Chrysler Combination:

So, the news is finally official. Chrysler has come out of bankruptcy and Fiat is now in control. This is supposed to be good news, but is it? They say FORD stands for "Fix or Repair Daily". Well, I've owned a Fiat. It was about 15 years ago, but that car was a disaster. It needed to be repaired about twice a day. Unless Fiat has improved dramatically, we now have two companies with iffy products combining to offer....what? They say two wrongs don't make a right. I have a feeling we are about to find out if this is really true with the new Chrysler.

6.8.09: Check Those Tire Pressures:

Gas prices are inching back up. Groan. You can expect them to continue to head north now that we are in an economic recovery. Okay, I don't see much of a recovery, but I guess that is beyond the point. Regardless, you need to watch your fuel efficiency. One are that can make a big difference is your tire pressure. Most people have underinflated tires, which reduces your mileage. Check the air pressure recommendations on the frame on the inside of the driver door and top your tire pressures off. You'll get much better mileage.

6.5.09: End of World Coming Soon:

The end of the world is coming quickly. Consider the following: First, it hailed in San Diego on Thursday. In JUNE. Second, Lewis Hamilton was out qualified by Adrian Sutil at the Turkish Grand Prix. Yes, a FORCE INDIA out qualified a McLaren! Now, that sounds like the end of the world to me!

6.3.09: The Watering Down of Formula One:

The FIA has sought to open up Formula One to new teams. While this is probably a positive move, there is no hiding the fact most of the teams joining are laughably weak. F1 test drivers [Alex Wurz] are even launching new teams! With the budget cap and lack of technology, it is becoming very difficult to see what the difference is betwen the IRL and F1. The watering down of Formula One is a mistake through and through.

6.1.09: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and The New Crew Chief:

The Autism Speaks 400 was an interesting race for many reasons. One definitely was the turn around of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., with his new crew cheif calling the shots. Lance McGrew was both calm and calculated. Starting 22nd, the car dropped to 30th, but then got as high as 3rd position. The team faded to 12th, but it was still a massive improvement over recent results. It is way to early to say this is the sign of a turn around, but it is definitely a positive first step!

 





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