Has Anyone Bought Tires From The Tire Rack? Share Your Opinion With Us

I have been seeing more TV ads for the Tire Rack, which claims that they are one of the largest suppliers of performance tires. On their site they seem to have a huge selection of tires from all of the major tire companies. They also feature tire testing and also reviews from consumers with a rating system which you can use to compare brands side by side. After you purchase your tires and receive them, you than need to find an installer to mount the tires.

My concern is this. If there are a problem with the tires, how are the issues resolved? Is it the tire manufacture who handles the issue, the Tire Rack or the place where the tires are mounted?

Cost. Is buying online and paying a local tire shop to mount the tires any cheaper than buying the tires from a tire dealer? I decided to compare the same tires from the Tire Rack with buying from our local Sears store.

Tire Rack – Tire cost for 4 tires $584 + $49.52 shipping & no tax = 633.52

Sears – Tire cost for 4 tires $699.04 + $53.64 tax = $752.68

The Tire Rack is cheaper by over $100+. The prices above to not include, balance, new stems or other options.

So my question is this. Is it worth the savings to buy tires online? If you have, what was your experience?

Comments welcome.

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GM Volt – First Test Vehicles Being Assembled

Even though GM is facing bankruptcy, the car company is proceeding with their plans for the Volt, an all electric vehicle with a gasoline supplement power plant for extended range. The Volts are being designed to run about 40 miles on a single charge, which GM feels should be enough for most commuters. But some critics are downplaying the importance of the Volt citing other electric vehicles such as the Prius as a better alternative.

The production of the Volt vehicle is expected to start to take off in full force sometime at the end of 2010. According to a recent posting at GM-Volt site it states that:

The most advanced or “lead” vehicle was fitted with many components including a high to low voltage converter and electrohydraulic brakes. None had their lithium-ion T-packs yet. In the lead vehicle the interior was nearly complete along with leather seats and the beautiful center console in jet black. White or black will be options. The heated leather seats were two-tone and looked great. I was told cloth seats would also be an potion.

I actually saw the electric motor-generator sitting on a wood table. Within it I was told are two motors. One was to turn the driveshaft and to recapture kinetic energy during deceleration (112 kw), and the other acts a a generator (53 kw) while the engine was running. Together the object was strikingly compact and a testament to the space advantages of electric cars. Volt Chief engineer Andrew Farah noted it was about the size of a conventional transmission, something this car wouldn’t need.

Another black Volt had just been put through a heavy water soaking to check for leaks in the design which could then be corrected.

These cars, unlike the mules before them, also had soundproofing installed onto the frame ensuring a very quiet ride.

There will be some changes from the show car which we have all seen, but these are 100% production intent.

One notable change was the location of the charge port. Now it will have its own door like a fuel tank and site below the front nameplate. The sliding cover design was abandoned due to risks of mechanical failure. The top surface of the center console was somewhat different too with some design tweaks and a storage area with trap door.

In the end, this facility will crank out 5 to 10 cars per week for a final goal of 80 to 100 vehicles. All of the learning here, the fixing of slight errors, and refinement of the assembly plan will lead early next year to the first assembled cars called validation builds on the Detroit-Hamtramck line where the production Volts will finally be built for sale. That plant has the capacity if needed to make up to 200,000 cars per year.

As of now the first fully built Chevy Volt IVers have rolled off this small assembly line and are being lab tested prior to their actual first drives. In the video below you can see Volt chief engineer Andrew Farah giving a tease and sitting in the true Volt about to go for “a shakedown drive.”

And so without any doubt the Volt has truly been born and its arrival into public production for launch in November 2010 appears at this point an absolute certainty.

I sincerely hope that GM can get the Volt off of the ground and into production. It would be a real shame if America was unable to come up with a viable vehicle to get us away from our thirst for oil.

Comments welcome.

Source.

Is A Smart Grid And Smart Cars The Answer To Our Energy Woes?

Over the past few weeks I have read several articles concerning our electrical grid and the lack of control we have over the power we produce. From what I have read it appears that our electric grid is in need of an overhaul in order to take advantage of what some claim will be our best chance of getting off of our addiction to oil. Some are touting that electricity is the answer to our problems and that a Smart Grid and Smart Cars will be our salvation.

The problem basically is how to upgrade the nearly six million miles of transmission lines and distribution centers into allocating electricity to where it is needed. The other problem is how to incorporate a system in which those who conserve or use their energy wisely are rewarded for their conservation efforts. The rewiring of America is estimate by some to cost over $200 billion and will take decades to upgrade. Those in favor of a smart grid foresee a future when our motor vehicle run on electricity and not oil.

Which brings us to our next problem. Our automobiles would need to be designed to run on electricity and have ample storage to be able to propel the vehicle enough miles to satisfy the average user before a recharge. Our cars would also have to be able to attach to the grid, preferable at any location, to charge up for the next trip. From what I have been reading battery technology will need to be improved dramatically before this will happen. Again we could be looking at decades before this happens.

But there is one solution that no one talks about. I am sure some of you can relate to this situation. I have a neighbor that owns a SUV, passenger car, pickup truck, a boat and a riding lawn mower. The family consists of a mom and dad plus two young children under driving age. These people are living the American dream. Good for them.

But they are also burning up a disproportionate share of our planets limited resources.  Does anyone besides me believe that we should be allocated a certain amount of energy, regardless of our economic ability to pay, and be limited to that energy useage?

Let me know what you think of this idea. I believe the cost would be a lot cheaper than trying alternative energy plans.

DriverSide

Most of the time I enjoy owning a car, but there are days when I wish I lived in a city where I could walk around instead of having to maintain a car just to get from one place to another. Where I live, if you want to get around, you have to own  a car. This involves paying for gas, insurance, repairs, and if you don’t own the car, you’ll also be spending your pennies on car payments. All of that adds up, and it can be quite a financial burden for some people, especially now. If you own a car, then you want to make smart decisions with it, and DriverSide will help you to do that.

With DriverSide, I can specify the car that I have, and once I’ve done that, I receive information that’s specific to my vehicle. For example, I can easily uncover the recommended service schedule for my car, find out how much certain repairs should cost, obtain the value of the vehicle, look at parts and accessories, and even start the process of selling my car. People who don’t own a car can use the site to find one. There are other online services like this, and even though DriverSide is a little confusing in its simplicity, it’s still a nice resource for car owners.

Electric Or Hydrogen Vehicles – Which Do You Prefer?

I know most of us are in ‘shock and awe’ at the high price of gasoline we have been experiencing these past few months or so. Plus I know none of us realized that foreign oil had us in a strangle hold, because obviously we would of done something about it. As we have sat on our hands for some 30 years, oblivious to what was happening and content on purchasing huge SUV’s with big V-8’s, I believe it is time for America to wake up and finally take a look at who is to blame for the oil crisis. All one has to do is to look in the mirror.

We have allowed ourselves to be lulled by our politicians into believing that Washington is working on a solution. When in reality big oil and the American car companies have control on the type of cars we will drive and what fuels they will use. No one can disagree with the fact that the gasoline engine is the most inefficient means of moving a vehicle and that some alternative is needed. The current administration took a path of ethanol from corn and the increased use of diesel as the way to solve the problem. A blind man can see using a food source is akin to throwing a drowning man an anchor. I also don’t believe that anyone would think that diesel, though producing better mileage, is environmentally friendly.

So we now have two other concepts that are being considered by the automobile industries. GM is leading the way in their quest for an all electric car. Known as the Volt, GM projects this futuristic vehicle will be coming to town sometime in 2010. There is only one, maybe two, minor issues. GM admits that battery technology needs to be improved. The second is, what do you do with all of those batteries once they are used?

Over at Toyota and Honda, they are looking into hydrogen technology. Using something called a fuel cell, the concept promises a non-polluting vehicle that produces only water. But the Honda vehicles use natural gas to produce hydrogen which is stored in the cell, and the vehicle uses an electric motor, which uses batteries also to store the juice.

So my question is this. Are either electric or hydrogen vehicles the way to solve our current predicament?  What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Fuel cell source.

GM electric source.

Think – The Electric Car Company From Norway

Claiming to be the car company of the 21st century, little know Think in Norway has the backing of one US company. Seems like GE is investing funds into the development of the Think car and also into A123Systems for batteries for the new car. On their web site Think states the following:

Think today and tomorrow

TH!NK city is a fully environmental vehicle, emission free and 95 percent recyclable. It reaches a top speed of 100 km per hour and can drive up to 180 km on one single charge. TH!NK city meets all European and US safety requirements. Production started last autumn, and the first batch of cars will be delivered to Norwegian customers this spring.

The platform concept TH!NK Ox is the electric vehicle of the future. The crossover version TH!NK Ox will be the first five seater electric car, and has similar design and environmental solutions to TH!NK city. The concept car features TH!NK connectivity; a platform of interactive applications for battery monitoring, drive- and energy optimizing, support and entertainment.

Collaboration with GE

In an effort to enable global electrification of transportation GE has announced it has invested in Think and lithium-ion battery manufacturer A123Systems. To power its vehicles, Think has signed a commercial supply agreement with A123. In order to help A123 roll out batteries for Think, GE Energy Financial Services has invested in the company. A123 is now drawing on the research and technology development expertise of GE Global Research in Niskayuna, New York. The joint research will support A123’s battery development, including batteries for Think’s vehicles. GE Energy Financial Services and GE Global Research are backing electrification developments in the transportation sector as part of GE’s ecomagination initiative, the company’s commitment to help its customers meet their environmental challenges while expanding its own portfolio of cleaner energy products.

Think CEO Jan-Olaf Willums commented: “We see many important opportunities emerging from our new relationship with GE. This relationship will help Think – the manufacturer of the first highway-approved electric car in mass production – to stay at the forefront of electric vehicle technology.”

“Our work with A123 and Think taps GE’s unique combination of venture capital, engineering, process and commercial expertise to help burgeoning, next generation technology companies bring their innovative products to market,” said Kevin Walsh, Managing Director and leader of renewable energy investing at GE Energy Financial Services.

What is extremely interesting about GE getting into the automobile business, is that they could actually become a major player in the electric car field. Between their investment in Think and also A123 they could end up out gunning Detroit in the race for non gasoline powered vehicles.

Comments welcome.

Think link is here.

[tags]think, electric, car, A123, future, vehicles, detroit, [/tags]

Google Donating $10 Million For Green Cars

Not many companies put their money where their mouth is, but Google seems to be the exception. The folks at Google take serious the green house effect and how vehicle emissions are contributing to this global problem. So Google is offering up to $10 million for companies who are working to solve these worldwide pollution problems. On their blog Google states:

Today, Google.org has issued a request for investment proposals (RFP) to the tune of $10 million in order to advance sustainable transportation solutions. We are inviting entrepreneurs and companies to show us their best ideas on how they can contribute to this important cause. We need catalytic investments to support technologies, products and services that are critical to accelerating plug-in vehicle commercialization. That is why we have structured this RFP to offer investment dollars to for-profit companies to promote social and environmental change. The severity of global warming requires solutions from NGOs, governments, individuals and (very importantly) the private sector. We have already made $1 million in grants to a group of outstanding non-profit organizations, and want to expand our impact by spurring innovation in the private sector. While $10 million is a fraction of the total investment needed to transform our transportation sector, we hope this RFP will help catalyze a broader response. We need the automakers to bring these cars to market, but plug-in vehicles also need an entire ecosystem of companies to flourish.

We realize that this type of open call for proposals is not the usual model for investment, but we wanted to use a process that was open to new ideas and new entrants. Part of our goal is to get as many people as possible to work on solutions to our vehicle emissions challenges. We welcome and expect to receive submissions from a wide variety of companies — from cutting edge battery technologies to innovative service businesses – and from companies of all sizes. We also encourage participants from all over the world to submit proposals. This is a global challenge, and it will take all of us to solve it.

So if you are the inventive type with an no idea on how to solve the vehicle emission problems and cut down on pollution, this is your chance to get in on the action and get some funding.

Full blog article is here.

[tags]google, vehicles, funding, green, house, emissions[/tags]

Boompa

It should come as no surprise that I love my black 2006 Volvo S40. It’s a huge upgrade from my white 1989 Toyota Camry, and while that car was pretty good to me, I’m glad that it’s no longer leaking oil on my driveway. Oh, how I’ll miss Whitey. Besides tinting the windows and adding a custom Swedish license plate to the front of the car, I haven’t really done anything else to modify it. It’s exactly what I want, and I don’t feel the urge to tweak it to the extent that many automobile owners do. Even though I’m not a member of the Modification Nation, I do enjoy checking out what others have done to their rides. Boompa makes this a whole lot easier.

Not only can interested users create Web pages for their custom rides, but they can also host unlimited photos of their work, detail the modifications that were made, and share their masterpiece with the world of automotive enthusiasts so that they can comment on it. Boompa does its best to tap into the collective knowledge of the community, and they encourage everyone to post news and vehicle information. Car owners can even battle with each other in order to see who’s car is the best. It’s easy – the contestant with the most votes wins. Are you feeling confident about your ride? While the site does appear to mostly be populated with automobiles, you can also find other vehicle types at Boompa. Good – now I can show off the passenger jet that’s parked on the runway in the backyard of my estate. Take that, Xzibit.

[tags]Boompa, Automobiles, Cars, Rides, 2006 Volvo S40, Toyota Camry, Vehicles, Passenger Jet, Xzibit[/tags]