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October 2012 RPM Off-Road News

Posted in News on October 1, 2012
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That’s Interesting
The 2012 Automotive Accessory Market Report by Foresight Research studied more than 7,800 new-car and -truck buyers and learned that 42 percent of all buyers install accessories within the first two years of purchase, and the average person is spending $1,662 (that’s an 8 percent decline from a year ago). Accessories related to electronics, comfort, and convenience are the most popular installations. Tires are comfortable, right?

Speaking of trends, H.E.A.T., which is the auto-theft prevention program in Michigan (the acronym stands for Help Eliminate Auto Thefts), has noted the some spiffy new trends this year. For starters, catalytic converter theft is back, and it’s being joined by airbags, tires, wheels, and navigation. There’s also a lot of retagging and cloning going on: The bad guys swap the VIN from a vehicle that matches the stats of a stolen one (i.e., year, make, model, color). And do your due diligence when it comes to Craigslist or the like; selling and trading of stolen vehicles is on the rise via that route. Also making the list was “push steals”: pushing the vehicle away after breaking in, in order to release the gears. More about H.E.A.T. at

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer is trying to get the four main rental car companies—Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, and Dollar/Thrifty—to permanently stop renting or selling vehicles that are under a safety recall. As we went to press, only Hertz had adopted such a policy.

INRIX Traffic Scorecard: It’s an analysis of traffic congestion throughout the U.S. What caught our eye was that Honolulu was number one when we looked at the most current rankings. That surprised us. P.S. That’s number one in the bad way.

The Malaysian government has created a New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)—the first NCAP was in the U.S. in 1979, and they exist around the world. NCAP is about elevating vehicle safety standards, among other things.

Late payment of auto loans is at an all-time low—at least with regard to the last decade.

Our owner, Source Interlink, now has a corporate Facebook page. “Like” it, so we don’t lose our jobs. While you’re there on the Facebook, “like” Four Wheeler’s page if you haven’t yet. Right this second we’re at 15,140. We know that’s not all of you. And we know where you subscribers live.

“So we’ll be giving away one grand prize of 500 gallons and weekly prizes of 32 gallons.”
—Promo about the Ram Gallon Guarantee, a sweepstakes lasting through September 1, in which you could win fuel. Go to to enter

The Most Obnoxious or Most Ingenious Way To Fill Tires
Nissan is going to bring the Easy-Fill Tire Alert system to models starting in 2013. You might have thought filling tires was already easy, but that shows you are clearly doing everything in your life the hard way. This one’s TPMS alerts you to a low tire, then once you get yourself to an air source, the easy begins: As you air up, the vehicle’s flashers come on to confirm said air is flowing. Once the tire reaches the correct pressure, the horn honks. If you try to add more air, the horn gets really, really PO’d.

Is It True?
A moment of silence for the Dodge Durango? Or can we still talk until 2016, but then go radio silent?

The GMC Sierra Denali goes for $134,000 in China?

Will the downsized Chevy Trax SUV come to the U.S.?

You can get a 12-foot-wide by 23-foot-long by 15-foot-high parking space in New York City for $1,000,000?

A diamond coating for a vehicle’s finish, inside and out? And the company is called Gemballa?

Gee, That Press Release Sounds Naughty:
“Chevron Honors Lubricant Carriers”

Our Worst/Best Trail Fixes
What’s been your most inventive trail fix? Or was there a fix seriously epic in failure? Come on over to Four Wheeler’s Facebook page ( and tell us! These are ours:

Brubaker: The most recent weirdness was in Utah while I was driving a JK Unlimited with Holman as co-pilot. A few hours after a wheel loosened up and almost fell off, we were driving 70 mph on the interstate when the passenger-side lower rear link bolt at the axle fell out and the link began dragging on the ground. A side-of-the-highway inspection revealed that the driver-side lower link bolt was about to fall out as well and the axle had rotated downward. We limped the Jeep to the parking lot of a fast food restaurant and a reader passing by in an XJ gave us an old sorta-the-right-size bolt. With the help of a ratchet strap and hydraulic jack we got the axle repositioned so we could reattach the passenger-side link and get the nutless bolt back into the driver side. We slowly made our way to a Lowe’s, where we purchased new bolts and nuts and fixed it in the parking lot. Never had a bit of trouble the rest of the trip.

Cappa: I was in Montrose, Colorado, on the ’01 4-Wheel & Off-Road Ultimate Adventure. We were about to split for a road day along some twisty mountain roads (with cliffs and ledges). After the driver’s meeting that morning I decided to give my ’66 Jeep Panel Wagon a once-over. I found that the steering box was about to fall off the frame. The factory mounts had cracked and broken pretty badly. So I welded it back together as best I could using a borrowed on-board welder that wasn’t working right (not much heat) and then lashed it to the frame with several feet of ¼-inch chain and a few bolts. It held up for another 1,200 miles until I got back to California and fixed it properly.

Holman: I was in the middle of the Mojave desert on a Friday night when I inadvertently locked the keys in our running long-term Hummer H3. I called OnStar to do a remote unlock, but without the passcode, they refused to unlock the media vehicle for me, but offered to send a tow truck. I tried to explain that a tow truck was not going to be able to reach us on the trail we were on, but the operator would have none of it. After some frantic phone calls back East to our contacts to get the passcode, it was clear no one was left in the GM offices, and with the sun setting fast and the H3 idling for the past hour, it was time to make a decision. I called OnStar again, explained who I was and that this was a media vehicle. I again explained the situation to no avail. Finally, I told the operator he had a choice: He could be responsible for the rock that was about to go through the driver’s window and the article on the failure of OnStar in an emergency situation, or he could unlock the door. After a brief pause the operator said, “Sir, you can check your driver door now. It should be unlocked.” We went the rest of the trip with no further mishaps.

What’s Happening In The Industry
Mopar is now in the publishing business, it appears. You can go online to subscribe to Mopar Nation magazine ( and get four issues for $14.95. Profiles include enthusiasts, celebs, and car clubs, and the mag will also offer tips, the scoop on product development, and more.

Jeep and Pandora are teaming up on a “live, personalized” free concert series called Pandora Presents. Personalized concert…is that like when someone shouts “Freebird!”? Go to more info.

Ford is now offering a Special Service Vehicle (SSV) package for the F-150. Features include a high-capacity 220-amp alternator, 40/20/40 seating, and center console delete, making room for cool stuff like firearm installation. Oh, that firearms thing reminds us: We forget to mention it’s for law enforcement and other government, municipal, and commercial fleets.

While we’re talking about The Lawman and Ford, the California Highway Patrol is going to switch from the Crown Vic to the Police Interceptor Explorer; sedans have been found to be too intimate.

The all-new Chevy Trailblazer has left the assembly line—in Thailand. It’s stuffed with a 2.8L Duramax.

2013 Ford F-150
Not a whole bunch of change here. The most noticeable is the front end: new grilles are on tap. There’s also a new luxury Limited model, because having the luxury Platinum model wasn’t enough.

App We Can’t Stop Playing
Alpine Crawler is for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. We’re cheap, so we downloaded the free version, but there are a couple available for $.99. Sure, it’s a tad mindless, but when you give it too much gas in the hillclimb, the subsequent rollover never gets old.

Your Government At Work
Edmunds and Polk did some stalking and found that the vehicles with the most government sales (as in, your tax dollars are spent buying these makes and models) include the Chevy Tahoe, Dodge Dakota, and Ford Expedition. To help you gauge things, the percentage of Chevy Caprice sales to the government is 79.2 percent. The Tahoe is at 9.4, Dakota is 9.2, and Expedition is 8 percent.

The U.S. Post Office has around 214,000 vehicles, making it the world’s largest civilian fleet.

Jeep is under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) microscope. There was already a minor investigation into reports of some ’90s Grand Cherokees and claims of fire upon rear impact based on location of the fuel tank. Looks like you can swap out “minor” for “we’re on it big time”—NHTSA has now added Cherokees and Libertys. A recall of this magnitude would likely land Chrysler in the history books for being among the most massive of recalls.

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