Consumer Car News: 4/8/02

April 8, 2002

BLACKWOOD AN EARLY GONER
Planning on buying a Lincoln Blackwood? Buy soon — Lincoln spokespeople told various press outlets on Monday that the limited-production, rear-drive, luxury four-door truck would be a lot more limited than originally planned. After debuting the 2002 model last year, Lincoln will not build the 2003 model-year Blackwood after all, officials said. After setting out to make  about 10,000 of the trucks — which sported covered beds with brushed aluminum and a $53,000 price tag — the company will stop after the 2002 production run ends. Lincoln has shipped only about 700 copies thus far, according to Reuters, because of production problems.
2002 Lincoln Blackwood by Paul Wiley Cockerham (10/8/2001)

 

TOYOTA TRIES TO MAKE SLUDGY OWNERS HAPPY
Toyota will widen its warranty coverage for vehicles that some owners say are susceptible to oil gelling and subsequent engine damage. Japan’s largest automaker will extend its engine warranties for 1997-2001 Toyota and Lexus vehicles with 3.0-liter V-6 and 2.2-liter four-cylinder engines to eight years from the date of purchase. Some 3.3 million vehicles are included in this action, which Toyota insists is the result of oil-change schedules not being followed. However, the company is also reworking the engines in question to make them more resistant to damage from oil gelling. The company, says Reuters, has received more than 3000 complaints of engine damage and has reimbursed a few hundred owners for repair costs.

 

GM RECALLING 1.9 MILLION COMPACTS
In the biggest vehicle recall since the 1.6-million Jeep Grand Cherokee recall last year, GM says it will bring back 1.9 million 1995-1997 Chevrolet Cavaliers and Pontiac Sunfires and 1996-1997 Buick Skylarks, Pontiac Grand Ams and Olds Achievas because of the possibility of engine fires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has logged some 159 complaints that bad ignition wiring has caused smoke or fires in affected vehicles. GM will fix the cars for free.

 

CHRYSLER RECALLS MINIVANS, JEEPS
The Chrysler Group will recall 545,000 minivans and 95,000 Jeeps in two separate recalls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is issuing the recalls for the minivans built between June 1996 and October 1998 for a seatbelt fix that will keep insulation from falling into the seatbelt assembly. In the second recall, Jeep Wranglers made from June 2000 to December 2001 will be brought back to fix the ignition switch, which is prone to shorting out if exposed to water or dirt.
2003 Chrysler PT Turbo by TCC Team (3/26/2002)

 

2002 Ford F-150

2002 Ford F-150

FORD F-150 HAS LEAKY GASKETS
The latest quality glitch to hit Ford Motor Company vehicles affects the 5.4-liter V-8 found in the Blackwood as well as a host of other Ford trucks. On Monday, the automaker said some examples of the big V-8s — mostly found in ’99 models of various F-Series trucks — suffer from leaky head gaskets. The problems are being fixed under warranty, but at least one source says some vehicle repairs are costing Ford upwards of $4500. Last month, Ford had to catch its breath when a defect in four-wheel-drive electrics caused a hiccup in production of the ’03 Expedition and Lincoln Navigator; production problems have also plagued the launches of other new Fords like the Focus and Escape.

 

ANOTHER BIG CHILD-SEAT RECALL
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it is issuing a recall for some 55,162 Peg Perego infant child seats. Those seats made from May 20, 2001 through Feb. 15, 2002, under various brands (Martinelli Primo Viaggio with base, Pliko Travel System, Primo Viaggio System, Atlantico System, and Atlantico Trek System SNG) may fasten improperly. The company is alerting customers on adjusting the seat to work properly while it sends out new plastic upholstery covers. For more information, owners can call the company toll-free at 877-737-3468 or click over to http://www.perego.com

 

POWER: DIESELS COULD MAKE SHOPPING LISTS
A new J.D. Power survey says that about one-third of car shoppers might consider a cleaner diesel in their next vehicle even though they don’t know much about the latest diesel technology. The J.D. Power and Associates Consumer Diesel Overview StudySM  studied more than 5,200 survey respondents, of which 31 percent indicated they might be willing to buy a vehicle with a new-generation, cleaner-burning diesel. However, just five percent of the respondents said they were familiar with the technology that’s been unleashed on diesels in the past decade. Power defined a “clean” diesel for the study as a powerplant that offered comparable gas-engine performance with similar noise, vibration and pollution as gas engines as well. Regardless of persuasion, those answering the survey expect to see more in American trucks in the future.

 

LEXUS GETS COACH SEATS
Toyota’s upscale Lexus brand is adding two special edition vehicles this fall, including one with Coach seats. The GS300 mid-range sedan will offer a SportDesign package with revised suspension tuning, upgraded 225/60R-16 tires and polished alloy wheels, along with perforated leather-trimmed seats and walnut trim in the cabin. Along with other features in the Premium package, the SportDesign package will add $4050 to the GS300’s sticker. The RX300 Coach Edition, meanwhile, wraps the sport-ute’s seats in Coach-branded perforated leather and adds maple trim, a honeycomb grille and 16-inch alloy wheels, as well as a pair of Coach bags. The package retails for $2830.

 

CONTI COLLECTOR’S EDITION SAYS GOODBYE FOR NOW
The last Continental to be offered by Lincoln — “for now,” as the release says — will be a special Collector’s Edition with more than the standard Lincoln luxury accoutrements. The 2002 special will include a wooden steering wheel, suede and leather seats, 10-spoke chrome wheels and a platinum-painted grille, and “New Shiva” carpeting. On sale this week, Lincoln expects to sell about 2000 copies before the Continental ends its long run in the Lincoln showroom.

 

AAA: DRIVING COSTS DOWN
Your wallet might not feel so much thicker, but the AAA says it costs 0.8 cents less to operate your car for one mile. The first decline in driving costs since 1993 means that it now costs the average motorist 50.2 cents per mile to operate a vehicle. The decline, AAA says in its Your Driving Costs study, is largely due to falling fuel prices. The agency figures its data from a composite average of three fairly un-dramatic vehicles: the Chevy Cavalier LS, Ford Taurus SEL Deluxe and Mercury Grand Marquis LS. You can get your own copy of the study at AAA offices or by writing to: Your Driving Costs, Box 75, 1000 AAA Drive, Heathrow, Fla. 32746-5063.

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