Air Conditioner Odor: Causes and Prevention

During air conditioner operation, cold refrigerant is pumped through the evaporator core by an engine-driven compressor. A fan then blows air through “fins” in the evaporator to cool the air. These fins also act as an air filter, trapping bacteria, spores, and dirt. These airborne particles are normally washed out a drain hole with condensation, but if they remain on a moist evaporator, they may collect and cause an unpleasant odor. This effect is more frequently found in humid climates where more condensate accumulates. This situation is not unique to Toyota; it is an industry-wide condition.

To prevent the odor, Toyota recommends the following:

  • Avoid parking under trees to reduce the possibility of leaves entering the air intake
  • Use the fresh air setting on your climate control rather than the recirculated air setting whenever possible to allow the evaporator to dry out
  • Drive on paved roads whenever feasible as dusty conditions may accelerate the condition

If the condition already exists, spraying a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water (1 to 5 ratio/mixture) or a disinfectant in the outside air intake may help reduce the smell. If these steps do not alleviate the odor, we encourage you to contact your local dealer for a thorough evaluation of the condition.

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By Jessica Anderson of Kiplinger

The 1980s classic film, Back to the Future, depicts a future with flying cars and “skyways.” The year: 2015. We don’t have a time machine, but we can guarantee that in four years we’ll still be using earthbound roads.

And we peered a little further into the future of automotive technology — to 2020, to be exact — to see what features are likely to be big sellers.

Safety will always be a top concern, and car companies will continue to develop technology to help reduce accidents. Government mandates to increase fuel economy and reduce pollution will lead to smaller, less thirsty vehicles, with a high percentage of electrified vehicles on the road. And you’ll likely be able to tell your car to check your Facebook page.

1. Warnings Galore

Your car won’t drive itself, but its technology will help make you a safer driver. For example, current collision-mitigation systems use radar to sense when you’re getting too close, going too fast, and give you a visual and auditory warning.

They then either “precharge” your brakes to give them more power when you step on the brake pedal or — like some systems from Hyundai, Lexus and Mercedes — tighten your seat belts and automatically apply the brakes. Prices run $1,200 to $1,500 now, but the systems may be included in more-expensive option packages.

2. Eyes All Around

Rearview cameras are likely to become standard equipment, thanks to a proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that would require all light passenger vehicles to have the technology by 2014.

The additional cost by the deadline will likely be $50 or less for vehicles equipped with displays (such as a navigation screen) and about $150 for those without one. By 2020, however, the cost will be negligible.

More technologically advanced cameras will be widely standard or inexpensive options (a few hundred dollars). Cross-path cameras, like those from Ford, Chrysler and BMW, show a 180-degree view from the back or front of your vehicle and alert you if another car is approaching as you back up or pull out of a blind drive.

3. Pedestrian Detection and Night Vision

A pedestrian-detection system, such as the one on Volvo’s S60, brings the car to a full stop if it detects a pedestrian in your path; if you’re going faster than 22 miles per hour, the vehicle won’t be able to stop fast enough to avoid hitting the pedestrian. (The automakers City Safety feature works the same way for a car that stops short in front of you.)

Night-vision systems, like the ones BMW and Mercedes are offering on their top-of-the-line vehicles, detect infrared light or amplify available light to help you see a person who wanders into your intended path but is out of range of your headlights.

Right now, both systems are pricey options. Volvo’s Technology Package, which includes pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and collision warning with full automatic braking, is $2,100. BMW’s Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection is $2,600. But in the future, these systems will be standard on high-end vehicles and available on more-mainstream vehicles for a grand or less.

4. Easy Cruising

Adaptive cruise control uses radar to help you keep a safe distance from the car in front as you cruise at highway speeds so that you don’t have to constantly hit the brakes and reset your cruising speed.

Currently, it’s optional on BMW’s cars ($2,400) and on Audi’s A4 ($2,100); it’s available on mainstream cars like the Ford Taurus ($1,200), too.

By 2020, it will be a nearly ubiquitous option and a standard feature on all top-of-the-line vehicles. It will likely evolve to work at low speeds and help you avoid collisions in stop-and-go traffic, much like Volvo’s City Safe feature.

5. Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications

Wouldn’t it be nice if cars could talk to each other in order to avoid accidents?

In the future, they will. Ford is currently engineering an intelligent vehicle system that uses advanced Wi-Fi technology; it transmits your vehicle’s location and recognizes other vehicles surrounding you.

The system will warn you of an oncoming car when you’d like to pass a vehicle on a country road, or alert you to a car about to blow through a red light, or tell you when a vehicle several cars ahead has stopped short. This technology will be available as an option by the end of the decade, although it’ll be much longer before it’s standard. Because the concept is so new, there’s no way to estimate what it will cost.

6. A Better Way to Connect

Finding your way, finding your music and finding your friends will continue to get easier. Bluetooth will be standard at every level, and pairing your phone with the hands-free system will be much less complicated.

A voice prompt will be all you’ll need to make a call or change the song. Likewise, widely standard in-car communications systems, such as Ford’s Sync, will read incoming text messages. If you have a built-in navigation system, you’ll easily be able to speak destinations or ask the system to find a stop along your route. More systems will work like Ford’s MyFord Touch (available now on the Edge and Focus models for about $1,000).

7. App Central

In-car Wi-Fi is available now from General Motors for a few hundred dollars, plus a monthly subscription fee, and widespread rollout is imminent.

That means surfing the Web on the way to work will probably be par for the course by 2020. And despite government concerns about distracted driving, it’s a good bet that apps for Pandora radio, Facebook and Twitter will soon be standard fare in your infotainment system.

The systems will rely on voice commands. GM has already started testing audio Facebook updates through its revamped OnStar communications link. Toyota’s Entune system, previewed at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, also responds to voice commands and can use the driver’s smart phone to bring apps such as OpenTable, MovieTickets.com and Bing to the dashboard.

8. Fuel-Sipper Tech

President Obama’s latest fuel-economy proposal calls for an industry-wide average of up to 62 miles per gallon by 2025, so look for automakers to embrace fuel savings wherever they can.

To get to the 62 mpg mark, experts estimate it will require widespread electrification, adding up to $10,000 to the cost of a new vehicle. Regenerative brakes, which recharge the battery when you step on the brake pedal, will be standard equipment for gas-engine as well as hybrid vehicles. A stop/start feature, similar to that on today’s hybrids, will become standard for gas-engine vehicles, improving fuel economy by up to 10%.

When your vehicle is stopped, such as at a light or in heavy traffic, the system turns off the engine and restarts it when you take your foot off the brake. Ford will begin offering this on some vehicles next year.

9. Advanced Engines

Hybrids will become a much bigger percentage of cars sold, as will “mild” hybrids, such as Buick’s LaCrosse with eAssist, which uses a small lithium ion battery to power a stop/start system and regenerative brakes. The remaining gas-engine models will rely on turbocharging and direct-injection.

Engine size will be a factor, as well. Ford’s newest EcoBoost engine is a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder with direct injection that will offer up to 20% better fuel economy than a traditional four-cylinder with the same amount of power. (No pricing is available yet for the three-cylinder engine, but on the 2011 Ford Flex, the six-cylinder EcoBoost engine costs $3,000 more than the regular one.)

You’ll also see transmissions with more gears, which will help improve fuel economy by up to 6%. Eight speeds is the new six.

10. Exotic Materials

Making cars lighter is one way that automakers can meet higher mileage standards. So instead of high-strength steel and aluminum, carmakers are looking at carbon fiber, the strong, durable and ultralight material found in tennis rackets, bicycles and even airplanes.

Lightweight carbon fiber pieces will be featured on many upscale vehicles, like BMW’s forthcoming line of electric cars, which will hit the road in 2013. Although manufacturing the material is costly now, prices will come down as advances in manufacturing are made. Using carbon fiber to reduce weight could improve fuel economy by 7%.

10 Things Your Car Will Have By 2020

Vote TODAY, June 6th for the American Red Cross of the Black Hills

Video on why the American Red Cross of the Black Hills could use a new truck from Toyota  We need everyone to vote on June 6th for the American Red Cross-Black Hills Area Chapter. What are we voting for? For them to get a new truck from Toyota. They applied with a video as to why they need a new car and are 1 of 500 organizations that were chosen as finalist. Toyota is giving away 100 cars in 100 days and June 6th is the day to vote for the American Red Cross. They will be up against 4 other organizations.  At the end of the day whichever 1 of the 5 has the most votes, wins a car. In this case, the American Red Cross has said they are in need of a truck.

Read all about how the program works here. The only way to vote is through Facebook so make sure you login and vote. You can click on the vote button below on June 6th.

Toyota’s Camry and Prius Remain Top Cars for Auto Shoppers in April

Posted on May 21st, 2012 by Dealer in News

For the third straight month, the Toyota Camry and the Toyota Prius topped Dataium’s ASI New Vehicle Ranking
Nashville, TN — Dataium, the largest aggregator of online automotive shopper behavior, today released its monthly ASI report. The ASI (Automotive Shopper Intensity) index, a leading predictive indicator of automotive retail sales showed April continuing a positive trend with new vehicle sales up nearly 10% from 2011.  Although the overall SAAR number was almost 5% higher than April 2011 and we expect to see continued growth over the broader market, luxury brands continue to drag the retail SAAR down about 2% from the previous month.

Dataium ASI % Change vs. US Retail SAAR % Change
Dataium Automotive Shopper Intensity Report

For the first time this year, domestic automaker Ford received the highest ASI monthly ranking of all manufacturers.  During April, leads for Ford more than doubled from the previous month.  Japanese car maker, Toyota dropped one spot to rank second, while Chevrolet remained in the third position for the second month in a row.  Although April brought a 20% monthly drop in both searches and visitors for Chevrolet, their leads jumped significantly from March, suggesting stronger sales volumes for the brand in the upcoming weeks.

Toyota’s winning streak continued for the third straight month with both the Toyota Camry and the Toyota Prius receiving the highest rankings of all new vehicles. Eric Brown, CEO of Dataium noted, “A combination of Toyota’s recent marketing campaigns which include low interest financing, and the fuel efficiency of both models have helped keep the brand’s momentum and consumer interest high. This should positively impact sales for the brand as we move into the peak summer selling months.”

Despite record retail sales in April, the ASI showed the Nissan Rogue having the most dramatic ASI change of all new vehicles, declining by 9% from March.  In addition to the Rogue, the Hyundai Sonata also had significant ASI declines while the Chevrolet Camaro’s ASI score increased the most from the previous month.

Through proprietary data collection and analytics, Dataium aggregates and measures billions of auto shopper behavioral events from a database of over 100 million active auto shoppers across a network of diverse automotive websites. Dataium not only provides data and research on auto shopper/buyer behavior nationally, but by specific makes, models, vehicle segments, and markets, as well. The national report is available for download at dataium.com/library. Dataium reports and dashboards are available on a subscription basis or may be customized to access real-time updates to measure in-market lead behavior, advertising effectiveness, digital marketing performance, and website design proficiency.

To request complete access to Dataium’s ASI predictive modeling tool on future consumer demand by make, model, trim level, segment, region, and market, contact Dataium at www.dataium.com/contact, or call 877-896-DATA (3282).

About Dataium, LLC
Dataium is the largest aggregator of Internet automotive shopping activity. With its Cloud Intelligence® platform, the company collects, analyzes, and indexes billions of online automotive shopping events from a database of over 100 million active auto shoppers, each week. The company supports cutting-edge data collection and reporting technology; VisiCogn® Collection UtilityVisiCogn® Knowledge Center, and is also known for its ASI™ index. For more information, visitwww.dataium.com, email: info@dataium.com, or call 877-896-DATA (3282).

And about Toyota Entune

by staff writer, Peter Kottwitz
Toyota of the Black Hills

If you have been in the market for a new Toyota in the past year or so, you may have noticed that hands free calling via Bluetooth is the next big thing. Almost every trim level of every model in Toyota’s lineup comes equipped with this feature thanks to recent regulations on talking and driving laws.

If you are looking at a higher end trim, most have a large display screen where the radio sits, this new feature is called Entune, Entune takes hands free calling to the next level by connecting to the internet via your smartphones data plan. From there you can search for nearby coffee shops with Bing, check your stock’s look at the weather forecast, or even find the cheapest gas in your city! It’s truly a technology with the user in mind, just after playing with it for a few minutes we became instant experts.

Unfortunately there are many people that buy vehicles that come equipped with Entune and never use it, what a shame! A lot of times we hear that connecting your telephone to your car is the hardest part, for that, here are some easy to follow step-by-step instructions on how to get started using your hands free feature.

1.       Touch Setup on the faceplate

2.       Touch Bluetooth, Setup

3.       Touch Search for Bluetooth, Devices or Make This System Discoverable

a.       The system will begin searching for devices

b.      Touch Cancel if you wish to cancel the search

4.       Touch the device to be paired.

5.       A message will direct you to start the pairing process on your phone.

6.       Touch Accept to pair your smartphone to your vehicle

7.       A confirmation will appear that your phone has been paired

That wasn’t so hard was it? Now that you are connected for calling, you also will probably also want to connect so you can use the internet through your new Toyota. To do that, you will need to download the Entune app on your Blackberry, Droid, or IPhone, from there you need to register your vehicle and create a username, then you just follow the simple instructions on your smartphone app, and there you go! Make sure to keep track of how much you use the data on your Entune system, as it is billed to your phone’s data plan, and if you don’t have unlimited data, could end up costing some money.

All in all we love the new Entune, It is sure to raise the bar in hands free car technology, Let us know how you like your Entune, have you had any problems with it? Or could you never live without it?

The quick adventure to find trees in a Tundra

Nothing says spring like gardening. Fresh cut grass, new landscaping ideas and of course digging up lots of dirt! With that in mind, my fiancée and I set out on a journey for trees and shrubs last weekend. Owning only a small car and an SUV, we quickly realized we would not have enough room to pick up all of the plants we were after.

Trees, shrubs and everything else we could find

A brilliant idea comes to my head and we head down to work to grab a truck for hire. We head down to the Toyota dealership and get the Tundra all gassed up. We head toMenards and began our search. Thirty minutes later we were loaded up with two 8 foot trees and about 6 shrubs but we didn’t stop there. After unloading everything (in the rain mind you), we headed back and grabbed about 15 bags of rocks and 5 bags of sand. A lot of two of us to load but we managed to get it all done within an hour.

Now that the fun part of my story is over, let’s get down to the basics of why the Tundra truly is a great truck. The 2011 Tundra comes in many different trim levels ranging from a standard bed regular cab to the ever popular limited crew cab. Depending on the size of cab and bed you are looking for, the Tundra can pretty much meet the needs of almost every driver.

Breakdown of the available trims

Tundra Regular Cab

• Two-door, three passenger with standard or long cargo bed

• 4.0L V6 with 5-speed automatic transmission

• Dual-zone climate controls plus auto-off headlamps

• AM/FM/CD play with four speakers and auxiliary input jack

• Auto limited-slip rear differential

• 18-inch steel wheels with all-season tires

• Standard Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Tundra Double Cab/CrewMax

• Four-door, five or six passenger with standard or long cargo bed (Double Cab) or short cargo bed (CrewMax)

• Color-keyed and chrome exterior accents

• Added power features: door locks, windows, variable intermittent wipers, cruise control

• Added comfort/convenience: carpeted flooring, 6-speaker audio system

• Added cargo/storage features: enhanced overhead console, front door pockets Limited Double Cab/CrewMax

• Upscale exterior appointments: alloy wheels and chrome exterior accents (mirrors, handles, bumpers)

• Upgraded interior surfaces, leather seating and comfort

• Added advanced technology features, enhanced instrumentation/controls and audio systems

Along with all of the different trim levels for the Tundra, you can also tie in different packages to get the perfect truck. These packages include the Cold Weather Package, SR5 Package, Color-Keyed Bumper Package, SR5 Package, TRD Off-Road Package, TRD Rock Warrior Package, TRD Sport Package, Work Truck Package and the Platinum Package.

Whether you are looking for a good truck for hauling or simply a larger truck to become your family vehicle, the Tundra is always my top pick. Roomy, comfortable and great for just tooling around, you really can’t go wrong with this best seller!

By Rapid Auto Group - Chevrolet, Cadillac, Toyota Posted in Tundra

Business Use Tax Deduction on vehicles – Section 179

2012 Deduction Limit = $139,000
Section 179 Deduction limit after adjustment for inflation has increased to $139,000 (maximum allowance would have been only $25,000 prior to the new legislation).

2012 Limit on Capital Purchases = $560,000
Section 179 Threshold for total of equipment & software that can be purchased has increased to $560,000 (threshold would have been only $200,000 prior to the new legislation).

2012 Bonus Depreciation = 50%
The new law allows 50% “Bonus Depreciation” on qualified assets placed in service during 2012

Please Note:

Section 179 Deduction is available for most new and used capital equipment, and also includes certain software.

Bonus Depreciation can be taken on new equipment only (no used equipment, no software)

When applying these provisions, Section 179 is generally taken first, followed by Bonus Depreciation – unless the business has no taxable profit in 2012.

 

What is the Section 179 Deduction? 
Most people think the Section 179 deduction is some mysterious or complicated tax code. It really isn’t, as you will see below.

Essentially, Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment and/or software purchased or financed during the tax year. That means that if you buy (or lease) a piece of qualifying equipment, you can deduct the FULL PURCHASE PRICE from your gross income. It’s an incentive created by the U.S. government to encourage businesses to buy equipment and invest in themselves.

Several years ago, Section 179 was often referred to as the “SUV Tax Loophole” or the “Hummer Deduction” because many businesses have used this tax code to write-off the purchase of qualifying vehicles at the time (like SUV’s and Hummers). But, that particular benefit of Section 179 has been severely reduced in recent years, see ‘Vehicles & Section 179‘ for current limits on business vehicles.

Today, Section 179 is one of the few incentives included in any of the recent Stimulus Bills that actually helps small businesses. Although large businesses also benefit from Section 179 or Bonus Depreciation, the original target of this legislation was much needed tax relief for small businesses – and millions of small businesses are actually taking action and getting real benefits.

Essentially, Section 179 works like this:
When your business buys certain items of equipment, it typically gets to write them off a little at a time through depreciation. In other words, if your company spends $50,000 on a machine, it gets to write off (say) $10,000 a year for five years (these numbers are only meant to give you an example).

Now, while it’s true that this is better than no write off at all, most business owners would really prefer to write off the entire equipment purchase price for the year they buy it.

In fact, if a business could write off the entire amount, they might add more equipment this year instead of waiting over the next few years. That’s the whole purpose behind Section 179 – to motivate the American economy (and your business) to move in a positive direction. For most small businesses (adding total equipment, software, and vehicles totaling less than $139,000 in 2012), the entire cost can be written-off on the 2012 tax return.

Limits of Section 179
Section 179 does come with limits – there are caps to the total amount written off ($139,000 in 2012), and limits to the total amount of the equipment purchased ($560,000 in 2012). The deduction begins to phase out dollar-for-dollar after $560,000 is spent by a given business, so this makes it a true small and medium-sized business deduction.

After passage of the ‘Tax Relief Act of 2010’, large businesses that exceed the threshold of $560,000 in capital expenditure can take a Bonus Depreciation of 50% on the amount that exceeds the above limit. Nice.

 

 

All businesses that purchase, finance, and/or lease less than $560,000 in new or used business equipment during tax year 2012 should qualify for the Section 179 Deduction. If a business is unprofitable in 2012, and has no taxable income to use the deduction, that business can elect to use 50% Bonus Depreciation and carry-forward to a year when the business is profitable.

Most tangible goods including “off-the-shelf” software and business-use vehicles (restrictions apply) qualify for the Section 179 Deduction. For basic guidelines on what property is covered under the Section 179 tax code, please refer to this list of qualifying equipment. Also, to qualify for the Section 179 Deduction, the equipment and/or software purchased or financed must be placed into service between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012.

The deduction begins to phase out if more than $560,000 of equipment is purchased – in fact, the deduction decreases on a dollar for dollar scale after that, making Section 179 a deduction specifically for small and medium-sized businesses. However, as noted above, large businesses can expense all qualifying capital expenditures with 50% Bonus Depreciation for the 2012 tax year.

What’s the difference between Section 179 and Bonus Depreciation?
The most important difference is both new and used equipment qualify for the Section 179 Deduction (as long as the used equipment is “new to you”), while Bonus Depreciation covers new equipment only. Bonus Depreciation is useful to very large businesses spending more than $560,000 on new capital equipment in 2012. Also, businesses with a net loss in 2012 qualify to deduct some of the cost of new equipment and carry-forward the loss.

When applying these provisions, Section 179 is generally taken first, followed by Bonus Depreciation – unless the business has no taxable profit in 2012 because the unprofitable business is allowed to carry the loss forward to future years.

Section 179’s “More Than 50 Percent Business-Use” Requirement
The equipment, vehicle(s), and/or software must be used for business purposes more than 50% of the time to qualify for the Section 179 Deduction. Simply multiply the cost of the equipment, vehicle(s), and/or software by the percentage of business-use to arrive at the monetary amount eligible for Section 179

Surprising rise in SUV sales

While there are a variety of reasons for someone to purchase a new vehicle, most car buyers will tell you their decision boils down to two main points, lifestyle and practicality. Many car companies have previously focused on emotional motivations to drive customers to purchase their cars but now more than ever, car makers are using the practicality of their vehicles to appeal to customers.

By focusing on the practicality of a vehicle, car makers hope to achieve a level of transparency with their customers, even before they begin their search.

In May of 2011 the year-to-date number of cars sold reached 546,687 with light-duty trucks not far behind at 515,032 and SUV/Cross-overs coming in at 318,359. (Sourcewww.motorintelligence.com) Although SUV/Cross-overs have come in last place for overall sales, this category has seen the biggest increase over the previous year. With a 47.6% increase in mid-size SUV sales so far this year, some marketers are second guessing their approach towards consumers for the remainder of 2011.

toyota highlander, rapid toyota, toyota of the black hillsWill Hybrids be a common purchase from now on?

So why the increase in SUV sales?

Compact cars can seem like a smart choice but most Americans love their larger vehicles and see them as a more practical purchase. Due to the harsh economy and recent inflation in gas prices, many gas guzzling SUV drivers have had to give up their beloved rides for smaller vehicles. While many experts were betting on the high sales of cars like the Toyota Prius, what we have found is actually the opposite. More often than not, customers are simply down-sizing to a mid-size or cross-over rather than giving up the much loved style of today’s popular SUV’s.

Recognizing the passion Americans have for their SUV’s, major car brands are still pushing their popular SUV models through but have added a twist by giving some of them a Hybrid version. Toyota’s Highlander Hybrid offers an increase of 8 MPG for City and 3 MPG for Highway over their standard model. While that may not seem like much, it can mean a lot to city drivers who don’t want to give up their roomy practical rides.

As practicality becomes more of a focus to consumers than emotional buying, car makers are catching onto the idea by creating campaigns around the many reasons why their vehicles will do everything we need them to do and of course, how they are better than all the rest.

By Rapid Auto Group - Chevrolet, Cadillac, Toyota Posted in SUV