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Coming to an Automobile Dealership Near You: 3D Printing

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Blade 3D Printed Supercar

3D printing is the next big thing in the automotive news, allowing physical items to be constructed by depositing thousands of layers of a semi-liquid material on top of each other until a completed object appears. Believe it or not, but the sci-fi-looking supercar pictured above was mostly printed, not assembled.

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printers can use materials ranging from plastic to resin to solid metallic alloys. It was initially tinkered with by intrepid hobbyists but is now being employed by large manufactures to create parts for cars, aircraft and even people (e.g. bones and metal braces). So significant and ground-breaking is the technology that it’s poised to change the face of manufacturing.

There are several types of 3D printers currently available, and while they may look different and use different materials, all employ the same basic approach for making a 3D object, building them up one layer at a time. The surprisingly simple process starts with a base layer and then adds layers up from there to build an object in 3 dimensions just like standard printers “build” something in 2 dimensions.

First, the object being “printed” starts with a 3D image of the item using a computer-assisted design (CAD) software program. The 3D object is then sliced into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers, which are placed one on top of the other until the completed object emerges. The all the printer has to do is lay down all ultra-thin horizontal layers one by one with a material that fuses together. With some printers this can be a time consuming process but 3D printers are getting faster and faster all the time.

Inexpensive 3D printers deposit a material that is a polymer, sort of like an automated glue gun. The polymer comes in spools and in a wide variety of types and colors. Metal parts are made by “selective laser sintering” which involves heating and solidifying a granular metal material via a laser. Although entry-level hobbyist machines (polymer type) can be found in the $200 range, most printers are quite a bit more and commercial printers run in the $100,000 and up range.

Some business observers are pinning high hopes on 3D printing, believing that the technology could enable thousands of small manufacturing businesses to sprout again in the US. Basically it would be the return of small time machine and fabrication shops but involve a great deal less capital equipment. The automotive service industry is watching the advance of 3D printing carefully. Parts for some automotive applications are being made now but 3D printing in the car repair business may be a few years off.

Reference: Kindle Auto Plaza

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When You Need A Windshield Replacement

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Cracked Car Windshield

For most car owners, when a windshield needs replacement, it’s a simple decision – find the lowest price option available and get’er done. Unfortunately, that could be a bad decision because your windshield is a far more critical safety feature than you might realize.

From a safety point of view, your windshield could be the first line of defense if you ever get into a bad accident. Consider that there are three critical ways that your windshield protects you and your occupants.

  1. The windshield is part of your car’s cab enclosure formed by the doors, glass and roof. When engineers design a car, they design the cab to be crush resistant in case of a vehicle rollover. Part of that design criteria is that the windshield be a strong design (the correct thickness and proper materials) and be affixed to the car with the proper adhesives. If these criteria aren’t met, your cab may crush easier if a rollover ever occurs.
  2. Your windshield also prevents occupants from being ejected from a car during a front collision. According to the AAA, thirty percent of all fatalities are due to people being ejected from the car involved. Unfortunately, a high percentage of that occurs when a car hits a stationary object and occupants are ejected forward.
  3. Another safety-related feature involves the windshield-airbag system. The engineers factor in the strength of the windshield when designing airbag deployment mechanisms and action. If the windshield in your car blows out when the airbags are deployed, who knows what can happen. They design the system to work with a windshield that is intact.

The point of the above three safety issues is to drive home the fact that the windshield in your car is an important safety feature and you want to make sure that any replacement windshield you chose is just as good. You don’t want to use a company that promises cheap installations and uses inferior windshields and adhesives. This happens? A recent investigation by the ABC News program 20/20 on windshield safety shows technicians from inferior shops incorrectly installing cheap windshields and doing it with inferior adhesives. The shops involved were not major retailers but advertised “inexpensive windshield repair” on-line or in local advertising.

As a consumer, you have the edge, though. You have the internet to assist you when deciding what company to use when looking for a windshield replacement. First thing that should be stated is that if you go to your local major-brand car dealer, you are usually going to get a first-class job. Truth be told, the dealer likely does not replace the windshield themselves but they work with a top-notch local firm that they have a relationship with and do good work. For the other sites that advertise inexpensive windshield replacement, they might perform just as good work but check them out on the Automotive Glass Safety Forums site. You will be able to find certified installers that keep the safety and integrity of your car intact with a properly installed replacement windshield.

Reference: Lee Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

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Different Prices You Should Consider When Buying New car

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Car price on windshield

So, you saw and drooled over an awesome car in a recent action movie (Furious 7 or Spectre, maybe?), and now you’re considering a new car… After doing all the research and knowing exactly what you want, you move forward to the not-so-easy task of agreeing on a price and making a deal.

Fortunately, as a consumer, there are a lot of resources at your disposal that can help you arrive at a price that is fair for both you and the seller. Here’s an explanation of the four basic types of automobile and truck pricing you should be familiar with.

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)

The MSRP or the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price is the “suggested” price set by the car manufacturer and is generally considered as the base price used in negotiations. The MSRP is required by law to be shown on every car sold, even though it’s not what is often paid.

Customers have been known to pay above the MRSP when demand for their desired vehicle is higher than supply, and vice versa when there is too much supply. For instance, when the Chrysler PT Cruiser was first available, they demanded prices well above MSRP. Ditto for the Dodge Viper

Dealer’s Invoice Price

As indicated by its name, the dealer invoice is the dealer’s raw cost for the vehicle itself and does not include their overhead, sales, advertising, financing and other operational costs.

While knowing the dealer invoice price can be a helpful bargaining tool in negotiations, it does not reveal the full story. Often times, there are manufacturer’s incentives and “holdbacks” that could actually reduce the raw manufacturer’s price below invoice.

Average Dealer Markup

The average dealer mark-up is what the dealer is asking for the car up and above their invoice price and is usually less than 10 percent on most vehicles. That margin is actually quite low when compared to other industries.

According to the professionals at Four Seasons Ford, dealers actually don’t make a lot of money on new cars. Rather, they make most of their money on parts and service and by selling used cars. Be cognizant of that when negotiating, because dealers need to make a living too.

Fair Purchase Price

Updated weekly, the Fair Purchase Price (FPP) is the industry’s newest and most reliable vehicle pricing tool. It is based on specific make and model vehicles and shows you a new car’s typical range of selling prices, average selling price, and any applicable market conditions.

It is important to know that the FPP is not influenced by dealers or manufacturers and is generated from actual transaction data. You can almost view it as a stock price that fluctuates over time to reflect real market transactions. The Fair Purchase Price has become a very popular tool for those researching prices.

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Don’t Leave Money on the Table – Rotate Your Tires

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Tire Rotation

There are quite a number of maintenance items that you yourself can perform on your car to save some real money, and at the top of the list is tire maintenance. Few people know that the tires on a car wear down at different rates and should be rotated to maximize their longevity.

Tire rotation is the practice of moving each tire on your truck or car to a different axle location so that their tread wears more evenly, saving you money by extending the overall life of a set of tires.

Even though tire rotation is an age-old, tried-and-test concept, it’s amazing just how very few people actually perform it, especially when considering that relatively inexpensive and is essentially the bread and butter service provided by most car dealerships.

We want you to save your hard-earned money, so here are a few things you should know about rotating your car’s tires:

Why is it necessary?

It’s a little known fact that front and rear tires wear out differently. Typically, the front tires carry over 60 percent of the weight of a car and do most of the work of moving it, especially in the case of front wheel drive vehicles. This of course means the front tires usually wear down faster than the rear ones.

The tire rotation experts at Bob Fisher Chevrolet also note that, moreso than other drivers around the world, Americans tend to take left turns faster than they do right turns, which wears down the right tires more than left (the weight shifts to the opposite side when turning). By rotating your tires, you can equalize the wear so that all tires wear approximately at the same rate. That’s all there is to it…

How Often Should I Rotate My Tires?

You don’t have to guess — if you have one, just check your car’s owner’s manual for the rotation schedule recommended by the manufacturer.

Most automobile manufacturers recommend that tires be rotated every 5,000 miles (8,047 km) or so, and with quite a number of people having the tasked performed every time they change their oil, that figure seems to be a good interval to strive for.

How to Rotate Directional Tires.

‘Directionality’ is an all-too-familiar term in the world of tires. Basically, there are two categories of tires: directional and non-directional.

Directional tires have a one-way tread pattern that are optimized for the direction the tire rotates, making them suitable for either the right or left sides. To find out what direction they should turn, just look for little arrows or triangles on the sidewall indicating the direction they should turn. And to perform tire rotation with directional tires, just swap the front right tire for the back right tire, and the front left tire for the back left tire.

How to Rotate Non-directional Tires.

The tread pattern on non-directional tires, on the other hand, is designed in such a way that allows the tire to be mounted on the wheel for any direction of rotation. In other words, you can freely switch the side the tires are on when you rotate them (for instance, from left to right) if you’d like.

So, that’s our pitch — don’t leave money on the table and compromise the safety of your car. Rotate your tires on a periodic basis and reap the rewards of smart maintenance.

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