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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

61
votes
Should you change your oil every 15,000 miles? Here's how to decide

Motoramic -- There is good news and bad news when it comes to the 15,000 mile oil change — a standard five times longer than those often recommended by the quick-lube merchants. The good news: Yes, it is possible with certain vehicles and motor oils, to do so with no harm to your car.

The bad? Unless you plan on keeping that car until half-past forever, you likely won't see any long-term benefit from doing it.

Most automobile engines are now designed to last well over 250,000 miles with proper care and conventional motor oil. To make matters better for owners, a lot of these motor oils now come with additives that can better resist the depletion and breakdown process. This resistance helps the motor oil maintain the viscosity needed to keep your engine running properly, and helps prolong oil change  (read more)

Submitted Aug 12, 2014 By:
1084 Comments

60
votes
What It Will Take to Win Google’s Million-Dollar Electric Power Prize

Wired -- Google recently announced a million-dollar contest to reinvent the power inverter, the devices that turn the direct current coming from solar panels and batteries into alternating current you can use in your home to play Xbox and keep your beer cold. A smaller, more efficient inverter could help solar power finally go mainstream and save energy throughout our existing electricity grids. Here’s a crash course on inverters and what it would take to win the prize.

Last month Google teamed up with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers to announce something called the Little Box Challenge: Build a power inverter that’s size of a tablet, 95 percent efficient, and capable of powering a house, and the million bucks is yours. Today’s inverters are 10 times bigger, about the size...  (read more)

Submitted Aug 12, 2014 By:
1259 Comments

59
votes
Study: 'Cash for Clunkers' an even bigger lemon than thought

Fox News -- WASHINGTON – The government’s "Cash for Clunkers" program – pitched as a plan to jump-start U.S. auto sales and clean up the environment by getting gas-guzzling vehicles off the road -- may have been a clunker itself, according to a new economic study.

Researchers at Texas A&M, in a recently released report, measured the impact of Cash for Clunkers on sales and found the program actually decreased industry revenue by $3 billion over a nine-to-11-month period. Meanwhile, the "stimulus" also cost taxpayers $3 billion.
 (read more)

Submitted Aug 12, 2014 By:
1646 Comments

52
votes
The U.S. Has Quietly Made Some Remarkable Advances in Fuel-Efficiency

The Atlantic -- n 1975, largely in response to OPEC's oil embargo against the United States, Congress enacted a new energy law that included provisions to increase "Corporate Average Fuel Economy." These CAFE standards, as they're known, led to a remarkable jump in the fuel efficiency for the U.S. auto fleet, with a near doubling of fuel economy and a 50 percent jump for light trucks in just a decade. But federal policymakers coddled the auto industry in the 1970s, and by the 1980s the fuel-efficiency curve had plateaued.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 12, 2014 By:
51 Comments

50
votes
US crude dips, fall limited by inventory forecasts

Reuters -- U.S. crude oil slipped below $98 a barrel on Tuesday in early Asian trade but the fall was capped by expectations of further draws in U.S. crude inventory.

U.S. crude lost 20 cents to $97.88 a barrel as of 0002 GMT. In the previous session it settled 43 cents higher at $98.08 a barrel.
 (read more)

Submitted Aug 12, 2014 By:
473 Comments

Monday, August 11, 2014

66
votes
Keystone XL pipeline could have bigger impact than expected, new study says

Postmeda News -- The proposed Keystone XL pipeline to connect Canadian oilsands with U.S. refineries and ports could have a much larger impact on greenhouse gas emissions than previously assumed, according to a new study.

If the controversial pipeline gets the go-ahead it might lower global oil prices, increase consumption and quadruple the total greenhouse gas impact of the project, says an analysis published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

It also points to gaps in existing environmental and economic assessments and says a U.S. State Department’s analysis of Keystone XL didn’t account for the pipeline’s potential effects on global oil markets.

“The State Department’s assessment has overlooked the pipeline’s potentially most significant GHG (greenhouse gas) impact: increasing oil consumpti  (read more)

Submitted Aug 11, 2014 By:
618 Comments

60
votes
Survey: US gas prices down 6 cents a gallon

AP -- CAMARILLO, Calif. -- The average U.S. price of gasoline has dipped 6 cents a gallon in the past two weeks and prices in California have fallen 9 cents in the same time period.

According to the Lundberg Survey released Sunday, the average nationwide for a gallon of regular is now $3.52. The average price for midgrade gasoline is $3.83 and premium is $3.88.

Of cities surveyed in the Lower 48 states, the lowest price, $3.19, was in Jackson, Mississippi.

San Francisco had the highest price at $3.95.

In California, prices for a gallon of regular dropped 9 cents to $3.86.

The lowest price, $3.76, was in Bakersfield.

The survey says the average U.S. price of regular grade gasoline dropped a total of 19 cents over the past seven weeks.

 (read more)

Submitted Aug 11, 2014 By:
1464 Comments

57
votes
Black Hat: Car Security Is Likely to Worsen, Researchers Say

MIT-In-car applications and wireless connectivity are a boon to hackers who take aim at cars. -- As more cars come with wireless connectivity and in-car apps, more of them will be vulnerable to potentially dangerous hacking, two well-known researchers warned at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

In a study of nearly 20 different vehicles, Charlie Miller, a security engineer with Twitter, and Chris Valasek, director of vehicle security research with security services firm ioActive, concluded that most control systems were not designed with security in mind and could be compromised remotely. The pair created cybersecurity ratings for the vehicles which will be published in a paper later this week.

“When you are looking to buy a car, you can pick up a magazine and it will tell you, ‘Here are the safety features of this car,’” Valasek said. “Why can’t we, as...  (read more)

Submitted Aug 11, 2014 By:
77 Comments

57
votes
Hackers Tell Car Makers: Secure Your Vulnerable Vehicles Now

Forbes -- After a week of scares about car hacking at the Black Hat conference, a group of altruistic coders and members of the security research community have come together to demand digitally safer automobiles.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 11, 2014 By:
1179 Comments

55
votes
The Simple Tweaks Mercedes Used to Turn a Sedan Into an Armored Beast

Wired -- Some people don’t like riding in a car if they can’t literally put their feet up while ensuring the cabin has exactly the fragrance they desire. Others prefer cars that can stand up to terrorist attacks. For those who fall into both categories, Mercedes-Benz offers the new S600 Guard, the armored version of its flagship S-Class sedan.

To protect dignitaries, diplomats and the 1 percent from gunfire, hand grenades and other threats, Mercedes made the body of the 2015 S600 tougher than a $5 steak. It added liberal amounts of armor to the underbody. It stuffed “special steel”—Mercedes isn’t saying just what makes it special—between the body structure and the outer skin. And it coated the windows and windshield with polycarbonate.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 11, 2014 By:
1184 Comments

Sunday, August 10, 2014

61
votes
Hormel Foods builds motorcycle that runs on fuel from bacon grease (and it smells good, too)

AL.com -- Don't question yourself if you smell bacon when a motorcycle passes by in traffic.

Hormel, which makes SPAM lunch meat, recently built the world's first motorcycle that runs on organic biofuel made from converted bacon grease.

When in motion, the bike gets more than 70 miles per gallon and emits a bacon-scented exhaust, according to the Minnesota/St. Paul Business Journal.

A Washington Times article said the biofuel is "nearly carbon-neutral, meaning it contributes almost zero emissions to global warming."

The motorcycle was created as a marketing campaign for the International Bacon Film Festival later this month in San Diego. A report from The Austin Daily Herald said Hormel is also using the bike and biofuel to promote its Black Label Bacon brand.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 10, 2014 By:
979 Comments

60
votes
Venezuela to Close Border With Colombia at Night

abcNEWS -- Venezuela will close its border with Colombia at night to crack down on the smuggling of oil and food.

While the socialist country grapples with shortages of basic pantry staples, some people are making a killing selling heavily subsidized oil and pantry staples in Colombian border towns.

Venezuelan Gen. Vladimir Padrino announced Saturday that the 1,400 mile (2,240-kilometer) border will be closed between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. starting Monday.

Colombia agreed to the closure after President Nicolas Maduro met with his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos earlier his month.

Venezuelans pay pennies for a gallon of gas and can buy many grocery items for less than a dollar when they can find them. Widespread shortages were among the factors that sparked a bloody street protest movement...  (read more)

Submitted Aug 10, 2014 By:
455 Comments

60
votes
Volkswagen Recalls 151,000 Tiguan SUVs

NBC News -- Volkswagen is recalling more than 150,000 Tiguan sport utility vehicles over a fuel pump defect that can lead to stalling.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said 151,389 Tiguan SUVs are subject to the recall. The problem is with some models from 2009 to 2014, in which gas bubbles may form in the fuel system when winterized fuel is used in warmer months or warmer areas. No accidents or injuries have been reported.

The automaker earlier recalled 18,526 Routan minivans over ignition problems that could cause the engine to suddenly shut off and prevent operation of airbags and power steering. No crashed or injuries have been reported because of that defect, either Volkswagen said.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 10, 2014 By:
958 Comments

60
votes
This $500 Display Makes Your Junker Car Feel Like a Fighter Jet

Wired -- When it comes to high-tech features, luxury car drivers get all the love. It’s true for massage seats, neck warmers, and self-parking systems. And it’s true for head-up displays, which project information onto a car’s windshield, so the driver can see how fast she’s going and what song is playing on the radio without taking her eyes off the road. The technology has been in fighter jets since the 1950s, and auto makers have been toying with it for nearly three decades. But the cost of the technology has confined it to the luxury market.

Not anymore. San Francisco-based startup Navdy has created a head-up display that sits on your car’s dashboard and displays information from your smartphone on a 5.1-inch wide glass display (usually, the display is built into the dashboard.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 10, 2014 By:
1097 Comments

57
votes
Rules prevent solar panels in many states with abundant sunlight

LA Times -- Few places in the country are so warm and bright as Mary Wilkerson's property on the beach near St. Petersburg, Fla., a city once noted in the Guinness Book of World Records for a 768-day stretch of sunny days.

But while Florida advertises itself as the Sunshine State, power company executives and regulators have worked successfully to keep most Floridians from using that sunshine to generate their own power.

..

Florida is one of several states, mostly in the Southeast, that combine copious sunshine with extensive rules designed to block its use by homeowners to generate power.

States like Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York — not known for clear, blue skies — have outpaced their counterparts to the south in the installation of rooftop solar panels.
 (read more)

Submitted Aug 10, 2014 By:
73 Comments

Saturday, August 09, 2014

60
votes
A Solar-Powered Home: Will It Pay Off?

investopedia -- Cost
Solar power is capital intensive, and the main cost of owning a system comes upfront when buying the equipment. The solar module will almost certainly represent the largest single component of the overall expense. Other equipment necessary for installation includes an inverter (to turn the direct current produced by the panel into the alternating current used by household appliances), metering equipment (if it is necessary to see how much power is produced), and various housing components along with cables and wiring gear. Some homeowners also consider battery storage. Historically, batteries have been prohibitively expensive and unnecessary if the utility pays for excess electricity that is fed into the grid (see below). The installation labor cost must also be factored in.

 (read more)

Submitted Aug 09, 2014 By:
130 Comments

56
votes
GM tells SUV owners to keep cars outside due to fire risk

autoweek.com -- Five Chevy Trailblazer-based SUVs face recall for window control module

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a recall for a number of older General Motors SUVs. It is actually an update of an earlier recall announced in June of this year, but there is now a crucial safety advisory that has been published: a short circuit could happen when the affected cars are not running. "As a precaution, owners are advised to park outside until the remedy has been made," NHTSA stated on its website.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 09, 2014 By:
818 Comments

54
votes
When driving with GPS is against the law

MSN Autos -- We love our GPS navigation devices, if only because they spare us from begging for directions from clueless strangers. And whether we get our GPS data from a stand-alone personal navigation device or a smart phone, we can rest assured that they are legal in all 50 states, unlike, say, radar detectors.

Well, not always. GPS devices are covered under distracted-driving laws. Whether you’re in compliance depends on how you use them, even how you install them. And failing to follow the rules is not only expensive in terms of tickets, points against your license, and higher insurance premiums, it can also be dangerous.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012 (those are the lates  (read more)

Submitted Aug 09, 2014 By:
349 Comments

49
votes
New Jersey May Shield Drivers From Other States' Red Light, Speed Cameras

Aol Autos -- New Jersey may soon prohibit other states from issuing traffic citations to its residents for alleged violations caught on speed or red-light cameras.

Lawmakers in the Garden State have introduced a bill that would stop New Jersey's Motor Vehicles Commission from providing license-plate numbers or other identifying information to another state or an interstate information network for the purpose of doling out a fine.
 (read more)

Submitted Aug 09, 2014 By:
795 Comments

48
votes
53 percent of teens who talk on the phone while driving are chatting with mom or dad

THE WEEK Publications, Inc. -- DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince were right: Parents just don't understand — at least when it comes to their complicity in their teen kids' risky driving habits.

A recent study presented at the American Psychological Association's annual convention reveals that 53 percent of teens who reported talking on their cell phones while driving were actually talking to mom or dad. The study's co-author, Noelle Lavoie, noted that "teens said parents expect to be able to reach them, that parents get mad if they don't answer their phone." Perhaps it's no wonder, then, that even though 96 percent of teens acknowledge using a cell phone while driving is at least slightly distracting, 86 percent of them do it anyway.
 (read more)

Submitted Aug 09, 2014 By:
215 Comments

Friday, August 08, 2014

60
votes
U.S. gas prices should continue decline

UPI -- U.S. gasoline prices have declined steadily in line with the drop in crude oil prices attributed to ample supply, the U.S. Energy Department said.
The Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, said the national average price for a gallon of gasoline as of Aug. 4 was $3.52, more than 3 percent lower than the same time last year.

Motor club AAA reports a national average price Thursday for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $3.47, 18 cents cheaper than one month ago.

EIA said crude oil prices, which account for the bulk of the price at the pump, are down globally because of ample supply compared with demand.

EIA forecasts show retail gasoline prices have been on a general decline since around June. Trend lines suggest the price at the pump  (read more)

Submitted Aug 08, 2014 By:
630 Comments

53
votes
Lyft’s Plan to Make On-Demand Carpools the Everyday Way to Commute

Wired -- Lyft is getting back to its roots. Before offering a smartphone app that let you summon other people’s private cars—each decked out with a pink mustache—Lyft was a startup called Zimride that matched up college students who wanted to take the same road trip. Now it’s offering much the same service to everyone going the same way.

Today, the company launched a new feature called Lyft Line that lets ride seekers anywhere in the city get matched up with other would-be passengers traveling a similar route, allowing everyone in the car to pay less. The option will be available as a new tab in the Lyft app, first only for passengers in Lyft’s home city of San Francisco.  (read more)

Submitted Aug 08, 2014 By:
344 Comments

50
votes
Audi and Volkswagen Tap SunPower in Effort to Go Green

Motley Fool -- The race among automakers to go green is heating up, and Audi and Volkswagen both just stepped the game up another notch. Not only will the two automakers be partnering with SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR ) to offer rooftop solar to charge their new electric vehicles, they'll be purchasing carbon offsets from 3Degrees to offset emissions from production, distribution, and driving of their vehicles (36,000 miles equivalent for VW and 50,000 for Audi).

Audi is taking its efforts a step further by offering energy storage from SunPower that will provide backup power to a home or electric vehicle to enhance the clean energy offering further.
The approach by Audi and Volkswagen isn't entirely new in the auto industry. Ford (NYSE: F ) and Nissan have partnerships with SunPower to sell rooftop solar  (read more)

Submitted Aug 08, 2014 By:
52 Comments

50
votes
Action in Iraq sends crude prices upward

Bloomburg -- Inventories of distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, slipped by 1.8 million barrels last week, the first drop since May, Wednesday’s EIA report showed. Consumption increased 5.2 percent to 4.03 million barrels in the seven days ended Aug. 1, the most since May.

Gasoline futures for September delivery rose 3.26 cents, or 1.2 percent, to settle at $2.7723 a gallon on the Nymex. The fuel closed at $2.7155 Aug. 5, the lowest settlement since February.

Pump prices slipped 0.8 cent to $3.475 a gallon nationwide Wednesday, the lowest since March 5, according to AAA, the largest U.S. motoring group. In Houston Thursday, the average was $3.337 a gallon, down from $3.344 Wednesday.

Ultra low sulfur diesel for September delivery advanced 1.96 cents, or 0.7 percent, to s  (read more)

Submitted Aug 08, 2014 By:
1215 Comments

49
votes
APNewsBreak: Tribe wants fee on wasted natural gas

The Washington Post -- Tribal leaders on an American Indian reservation in the heart of North Dakota’s booming oil patch are proposing fees for companies that burn and waste natural gas.

The Three Affiliated Tribes outlined its plan to impose fees in a six-page document sent to oil companies. In it the tribe said companies would be required to pay royalties for “flaring” natural gas to compensate for lost revenue when the gas isn’t brought to market and sold.

Oil production on the Fort Berthold Reservation accounts for about a third of the state’s oil output of more than 1 million barrels a day which has made North Dakota the second-largest oil producing state in the country behind Texas.

The Associated Press obtained the documents from industry groups. Tribal officials didn’t return several phone messages...  (read more)

Submitted Aug 08, 2014 By:
903 Comments