Automotive Content Writer
As an automotive content writer and automotive copywriter, I am always reading the latest news and following trends. This is where I get some of my ideas for articles or for blog posts for your dealership website.
Here are some of my automotive content pieces for several personal projects:
As Precious Metal Prices Rise – So Do Catalytic Converter Thefts
The precious metals in catalytic converters have made them a target for thieves, especially those found in Toyotas, which are made from more significant amounts of precious metals than other manufacturers. The thieves seem to favor Toyota Tundras and Tacomas over other models since these vehicles can be equipped with four converters. These trucks sit high off the ground, and that makes it much easier to get the converters.
Some Toyota dealership service departments are seeing a significant increase in vehicles showing up for replacement converters. This is leading to long waits for parts and causing regular service customers to find it challenging to get work done. These repairs can be costly, as well as time-consuming. According to one Toyota dealership, they had 66 vehicles stacked up waiting on repairs. Some of the vehicles had already had their converters replaced once but were stolen again.
According to statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, four times more catalytic converters were stolen in 2020 than in 2019. 14,433 converters were stolen in 2020, against 3,389 in 2019 and 1,298 in 2018. The bureau anticipates an even higher increase when the 2021 numbers are released.
On the market, one catalytic converter can translate into $2,000 for the thief. In the case of Tundra, they could be realizing a profit of $8,000.
The precious metals in the converters include rhodium, platinum, and palladium. At least two of these metals are worth more than gold.
No one seems to be safe from converter theft. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee had their converters stolen from seven of their club vans in December of 2021. The out-of-pocket costs to the club were over $17,000. It only takes thieves less than five minutes to steal a converter.
Even if the thief is interrupted, the vehicle still needs to go to the dealership for repair. It is possible that the thieves only started sawing on the converter, which leads to emission system damage that requires professional repairs.
Effects on Automobile Insurance
All of these thefts affect car owners in ways other than a slowdown in the service department lane of the dealership. It affects the price of replacement parts and the cost of comprehensive insurance policies.
The converter theft is covered under your automobile insurance’s comprehensive policy as it covers theft, vandalism, and damage from tree limbs and other catastrophes.
In addition, it is recommended that you include rental car insurance in your policy since there can be long waits at the dealership for parts and service. There have been cases where one converter will come in, and then there is a delay on the second converter. All of this can extend the length of your rental agreement.
As long as the market price of precious metals like rhodium continues to rise, the chance of theft does, too, so protect yourself.
Even if you do not own a target like a Toyota Tacoma, Tundra, or Ford F-150, it is an excellent time to review your auto insurance policy.
Give your insurance agent a call and check your coverage today.
The 2015 Ford Mustang Gains Weight
Julie L. Cleveland
Once again, Ford Motor Company adds weight to the Ford Mustang, and time will tell whether or not this will be a return to the 1970s styling decisions. Between the weight gain and the addition of a 4-cylinder engine, the Mustang may have performance issues. Will the performance issues hurt the 2015 sales?
The iconic Ford Mustang will gain as many as 300 pounds when the 2015 model hits the roads in 2014. While a few pounds on a performance muscle car may not seem like much, it can be detrimental in a 4-cylinder, which will be available in the 2015 Mustang. This extra weight, coupled with a smaller engine, may result in a car that does not have much to offer in the performance department.
This could be seen as a lesson unlearned from the 1971 – 1973 weight gain that resulted in dismal sales. This little extra poundage will not stop Mustang enthusiasts from ponying up the money to buy the car, but it might not do much for the MPG or the ability to dash off the line.
The Ford Mustang is the first of the American muscle cars to roll off the line, and it is the only one that has never had a break in production since its inception in the spring of 1964. It has been fondly referred to as a 1964 and a half model, but Ford recognizes it as a 1965 model. The Mustang-inspired other muscle cars like the Chevy Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird.
Built on a Ford Falcon platform, the Mustang was designed to be a compact, lightweight passenger vehicle that would appeal to the youth of the 60s. Little did Ford Motor Company know that when the Mustang hit the showrooms, it was creating a new car launch that was only rivaled by the introduction of the Model A.
Naming the Mustang
The Mustang took its name from the Mustang fighter planes that executive stylist, John Najjar, found appealing. He made the suggestion to Ford Motor Company and with the help of stylist Phillip T. Clark, the Mustang name stuck.
The Mustang made its debut at Watkins Glen in 1962 with Don Gurney behind the wheel, showing off the prowess of the little car. The public got its chance to gawk at the car during the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. It was love at first sight for all.
The Mustang is as at home on the track as it is passing mile markers on a highway. Shortly after it was introduced, it was the pace car for the Indianapolis 500, where it got to show off its stylish lines before thousands of race enthusiasts. It also picked up trophies for first and second place in its class at the Tour de France in 1964. These are the types of accolades that helped make the Mustang a car lover’s dream.
The car was always built to be a lightweight vehicle for performance, and while it originally had a 4-cylinder engine, dealerships were adding V-8 engines to it as soon as they got them. Ford Motor Company began offering optional V-8s within the next year, and the 6-cylinders were wearing the Falcon 2.8 liter engine.
No sooner were the first cars out and sold that designers started looking at lengthening the car and adding weight to it. They began to beef it up and give it a more aggressive look without adding anything to the performance. The base 6-cylinder added 140 pounds in 1967, and in 1969, the weight increased again. The roofline redesign added more aerodynamics to the heavier car, so it was not without some benefits.
Unhappy with the Changes
Unfortunately, the subsequent changes in the weight and the style of the Mustang were not as successful. Trying to appeal to the demand for larger luxury cars, the Mustang suddenly became longer and heavier in the 70s. The 1971 – 1973 models were 800 pounds overweight and could not get out of their own way. Partly due to emission equipment and partly due to bad design, the Mustang sat on the sidelines with dismal sales. Those sales went to the Pinto and the Maverick.
If the new Mustang is going to continue to gain weight, then there needs to be another Lee Iacocca to come in and realize that the car must be returned to its original performance in order to remain appealing to muscle car fans. The Mustang will always be an American icon and will always have its fans. Those who like to go fast will certainly be willing to do their own modifications if Ford does not.
Vehicle Recalls Could Be Curbed With Better Quality Control
Julie L. Cleveland
When automotive companies pay less attention to quality control than they do the bottom line, recalls are bound to happen. Many recalls can be avoided through better product planning and testing.
Vehicle Recalls Could Be Curbed With Better Quality Control
In the wake of the massive GM recall and fines, all the United States manufacturers should take a good, hard look at their production and communication policies. As if the GM recall was not enough, it was announced that Ford Motor Company is now recalling 1.4 million vehicles in North America. Most of their recalled vehicles surround a power steering issue in the Explorer SUV, the Escape, and the Mercury Mariner. These recalls cover vehicles manufactured as far back as 2008 up until the present time.
According to Ford, an issue in the Mariner and the Escape involves a faulty torque sensor in the power steering column, which could result in loss of power steering. While still a power steering issue, the Explorer suffers from an intermittent electrical connection that can cause the power steering to fail. The GM issue was eerily similar in that heavy keys could cause the ignition switch to disengage, causing an entire failure of the electrical system in the vehicles.
This is not the end of the recalls for Ford. They have four active recall campaigns, and while the recall of 200,000 Ford Taurus models from 2010 to 2014 only focus on corrosion of the license plate lamp, that corrosion can cause a short, which can cause a fire. The corrosion issue is not so much the fault of Ford but may be attributed to the areas where the cars are being driven since it appears to be centralized in the Chicago area, where the roads are salted in the winter.
Regardless, the next campaign sounds very much like the Toyota issue surrounding rapid acceleration. The floor mats in the Mercury Milan, Ford Fusion, Lincoln Zephyr, and MKZ are ill-fitted for the driver’s side and may become caught up on the accelerator, which can cause rapid acceleration. The all-weather floor mat was also declared the problem in the Toyota recall. Although the mat was eventually eliminated as the problem in Toyota’s second wave of recalls, the floor mats seem to be a problem when they do not fit properly in the well. This may be a problem that should have been addressed in the quality control portion of the vehicle assembly. Surely, someone still signs off on these things before the car is introduced to the buying public.
Import vehicles are not immune to recalls. Toyota recently announced that they were recalling a little over half a million vehicles, with over 400,000 vehicles in the United States. Toyota’s recall includes the Sienna and Highlander and the GS 250 and 350 with the Lexus badge. Problems range from the spare tire falling off after the tire carrier erodes on the Sienna to serious brake defects on the Lexus models. Additionally, there are problems with airbag sensors and engines that fail.
Is no one working in quality control anymore? While all of the fines and recalls get potential problems off the highways, there are still issues regarding how these vehicles even got to the dealerships with these problems. It is as if the car manufacturers have adopted the same tactics as software manufacturers, sending out a beta test and letting the public find the issues. People should not be beta-testing cars. Although some recall problems can be attributed to faulty computers or sensors, most are poor engineering decisions.
No matter how many fines the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration levies against the manufacturer or how low the reliability ratings go, these car manufacturers will continue to roll the dice and take a chance that the fines and lawsuits are lower than the cost of fixing faulty equipment. There might be fewer recalls if cars were better tested before hitting the highways.
Top 5 Greatest Women Drivers in Motorsports
Before Danica Patrick, other women made inroads into the world of motorsports. Women like Janet Guthrie and Louise Smith helped to break down barriers that make it easier for women to get behind the wheel of a car in NASCAR or NHRA. These women set records that still stand today, just waiting for the next generation of women racers to break them.
Top 5 Greatest Women Drivers in Motorsports
by Julie L. Cleveland
While motorsports worldwide appear to be dominated by men, over the years, there have been several women who have taken on the boy’s club. Today, Danica Patrick is a familiar name to even the most casual NASCAR viewer. However, just because Danica is a NASCAR regular does not mean it is easy for her.
Fans of 1980s NASCAR may remember Shawna Roberts or Patty Moise, but neither woman made it much further than the lower tiers of the sport. Even Dale Earnhardt’s daughter, Kelley, only raced for a few years before giving it up. Danica may have the money and talent of Tony Stewart on her side, but once she is in that car, it is all up to her.
This does not mean that there have been no successful women in motorsports. They are just few and far between. It may be a bit more common to see women putting helmets on now than in past years, but today’s women have some pretty big firesuits to fill. Had it not been for some very successful racing women, drivers like Danica Patrick may not be a part of the starting field at the Daytona 500.
When qualifying for some of the most prestigious races, Janet Guthrie is a pro. She is the first woman to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. She became the first woman to compete in a Winston Cup race, finishing in fifteenth place for the World 600 in 1976.
In 1976, Janet was unable to qualify for the Daytona 500, and it was said that her inability to qualify was due to her gender. A.J. Foyt felt differently. He gave her one of his cars to run a few qualifying laps in, where she exhibited the talent and speed that would have put her in ninth position for the race. Unfortunately, she had already failed to qualify, so her times did not count that year. A.J. Foyt determined that she only lacked money for a better car.
She qualified and raced in the 1977 Daytona 500, finishing in twelfth place and earning the title of Top Rookie. She set a record for a woman’s highest finish in an upper end NASCAR race by coming in sixth place at Bristol. Danica Patrick just tied that record in 2014.
In 2006, Janet was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, and her race suit and helmet are on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute. Janet is retired.
Shirley “ChaCha” Muldowney is the First Lady of Drag Racing. She was the first NHRA-licensed woman and the first woman to sit in the cockpit of a top fuel dragster. She won the top fuel category championship in 1977, 1980, and again in 1982. Those wins made her the very first person of either gender to win two and three titles in the top fuel category. She has 18 national event wins under her belt.
Shirley had to muscle her way into racing because, in 1958, everyone was against her. It was a boy’s club, and she had to fight the NHRA to prove that she could fill the stands and win races before they would issue her a competitor’s license. With racers like Don Garlits and Connie Kalitta on her side, she got her license and became a competitive racer until a 1984 crash caused extensive injuries to her pelvis, hands, and legs that took her off the track for almost two years.
After the fact, she made a few comebacks, but her injuries were too severe, and she finally retired in 2003.
Lyn St. James
Lyn St. James has the honor of being only one of seven women who have qualified for the Indianapolis 500 and the first woman to win its prestigious Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year award. She won the 24 Hours of Daytona twice and the 12 Hours of Sebring once.
She retired from racing in 2001 after four years with five starts in the Indy Racing League and 11 CART starts. Her resume includes European endurance racing at events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. She is a motivational speaker and founder of the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.
Before there was the NASCAR of today, there was Louise Smith, who was not content to watch the races on the beaches of Daytona. She took the brand new family car and entered into the race, where she promptly rolled it. The wreck was so spectacular that her photo was featured in her Georgia hometown newspaper before she even got back from Florida. That wreck did not deter her from pursuing racing as a career.
She continued to compete from 1949 until 1956 and finished her career with 38 wins in several classes like late models and sportsman. In 1999, she was the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Louise passed away in 2006 at the age of 89.
With three wins and seven international rally podium finishes, Pat Moss is considered one of the most successful auto rally females ever. She won the European Ladies Rally Championship five times starting in 1958.
Her rally-racing career started in 1953 when she was 18 and continued until her retirement in 1974. She wheeled for Saab, MG, Austin-Healey, Ford, and others during her career. Her racing took her to places like Monte Carlo, Africa, the Netherlands, and the Alps. She married one of her fellow drivers, and they went on to participate in 11 international rallies.
Pat died in 2008 at the age of 73.
Even with these women paving the way for the women racers of tomorrow, racing remains dominated by men. Unless women suit up and join the guys on the starting line, they will not be considered a serious contenders for prize money and trophies. They will be shuffled off to the local short-track powder puff competitions and drag strip “run-what-you-brung” exhibits. As Danica continues her climb up the ranks and finally secures her first win, she will become the next woman listed in the lineup of women in racing to inspire another generation. It is a safe bet that Danica or another woman will eventually break those old records and set the bar higher.
Ford F-150 Vs Dodge Ram 1500
Julie L. Cleveland
Dodge Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 comparison for a client. Overview of differences in performances and capacity. Touched on tech and comfort options. 500 words. They were written for the Canadian marketplace.
Ford F-150 vs. Dodge Ram 1500
When buying a new truck, you have big jobs to do, and your truck must be able to meet the challenge of rugged terrain and extreme weather.
The Ford F-150 and the Dodge Ram 1500 are ready competitors.
Dodge equipped the Ram 1500 with several engine options, including Canada’s best-selling engine, the 3.6L Pentastar™ VVT V6, capable of 305 horses and 269 lb-ft of torque.
In addition, if power is on your wish list, you can equip the Ram 1500 with a 5.7 HEMI® V8, which just happens to be one of Canada’s best-selling V8 engines. The V8 produces 395 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque. This power package can tow up to 4,826 kg and was the engine that powered the Ram 1500 into the winner’s circle of the Canadian Truck King Challenge of 2017.
By comparison, the Ford F-150 can also be equipped with powerful choices. Ford’s muscular 5.0L Ti-VCT V8 has twin independent variable cam timing that gives optimal performance across the power band ranges. At 385 horsepower and 387 lb-ft of torque, this V8 can deliver a 1483 kg payload.
For towing, the 3.5L EcoBoost® with standard Auto Start-Stop technology and twin turbos is Ford’s first duel-direct and port fuel injection system. This workhorse can tow 5,534 kg without breaking a sweat.
Bed sizes on both trucks are closely matched regardless of the cab size.
The Dodge Ram 1500 offers additional storage options not available on the Ford F-150. Dodge added watertight containers under the rear floor and other small storage spaces dependent upon the cab size.
The Ford F-150 has a flat floor without a transmission hump that lets you stack cargo unhindered.
The Dodge Ram 1500 offers full leather or an easy-to-clean grain vinyl interior. The Laramie package includes European burl wood accents and filigree-etched leather bucket seats that transport you to the Wild West.
The Ford F-150 believes in filling the cabin with comfort. Depending upon the trim level, you could find yourself seated in easily maintained cloth seats or surrounded by rich, leather-covered, ergonomically optimised bucket seats.
The 40/20/40 split seats in the SuperCrew® and SuperCab models can seat up to six.
Both trucks are equipped with the latest technology, from safety features to entertainment.
The Dodge Ram 1500 gives you an 8.4-inch touchscreen and a rear backup camera. The media hub is on the centre console and consists of USB ports and AUX jacks. It can hold your coffee and your phone or tablet, making it your mobile office.
Because touchscreens are hard to use while driving, Dodge gives you control buttons and knobs in addition to the touchscreen.
The Ford F-150 comes with an 8-inch touchscreen with a swipe feature and a zoom pinch. The available 360-degree camera has a split-view display so that you can see everything.
Choose the truck that will help you take on your tough jobs while keeping you comfortable and safe.
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