Many cars have made a name for themselves in film and television, including Lightning McQueen, the Batmobile, the General Lee, and the Mystery Machine. Here are seven kinds of cars that became famous on the big screen.
1. The 1963 Volkswagen Beetle
Since making his first appearance in the 1968 feature film The Love Bug, the sentient race car Herbie went on to star in several sequels and remakes, garnering adoration from fans of all ages.
2. The 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance
With lights flashing and sirens blaring, the Ectomobile, or Ecto-1, sped down New York City streets in search of paranormal activity in the original Ghostbusters films.
3. The DeLorean DMC-12
This pop culture icon is known for reaching speeds of 88 miles an hour during its stint as the retrofitted time travel machine in the Back to the Future movie trilogy.
4. The 1976 Ford Gran Torino
Nicknamed the Striped Tomato because of its bright red paint job, this car featured in the 1970s action-crime drama Starsky & Hutch and made its big-screen debut in 2004.
5. The Aston Martin DB5
This weaponized luxury vehicle is one of the most iconic cars in cinematic history, first driven by Sean Connery as James Bond in the 1964 film Goldfinger.
6. The 1993 Toyota Supra
One of many vehicles featured in the Fast & Furious franchise, this flashy orange race car was driven by Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) in the final showdown of the original 2001 film.
7. The 1968 Ford Mustang GT
Bullitt star Steve McQueen gunned this green muscle car through the streets of San Francisco and sent it, tires screeching, into one of the most iconic car chase scenes in film history.
Of course, there are many other famous Hollywood cars including the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT from the original Mad Max movie. All these vehicles have inspired car culture and continue to influence collectors of all ages.
Regular, plus or premium: what should you fill up your car with?
There are three kinds of gas: regular, plus, and premium. Here’s a brief look at the different types and how you can determine which is best for your car.
Understanding the three fuel grades
The various types of gas have different octane ratings, which are a measurement of fuel stability. These ratings are based on the pressure at which a fuel will spontaneously combust in a test engine. The higher the number, the more stable the fuel. Regular gas has an octane rating of 87; plus gas has an octane rating that’s between 88 and 90, and premium gas has an octane rating that’s between 91 and 94.
Selecting the right type of gas for your car
The owner’s manual for your car will indicate what you should fill it up with. Always follow your car manufacturer’s recommendations.
If your car requires premium gas, this means that its engine has a high compression ratio and requires higher-octane fuel. Using regular fuel in a car that takes premium gas can affect engine performance, decrease fuel economy and even cause engine damage.
For cars that take regular fuel, however, there’s no need to fill up with a higher grade than advised. It costs more, and using it offers no benefits.
If your car manufacturer says that premium gas is recommended but not required, this means that the engine runs best on premium gas but can take a lower-grade fuel without the risk of engine damage.
If you aren’t sure which fuel grade to choose or can’t find this information in your owner’s manual, ask a qualified mechanic in your area.
At-home charging options for your EV
Every year, more charging stations are added along major highways and in other high-traffic areas across the country. However, when it comes to everyday use, the most convenient and inexpensive option is to charge your plug-in hybrid or electric car at home using one of these three power sources.
1. A 110/120-volt wall socket
Most electric vehicles come with a charging cable that can be plugged into a regular three-prong 110/120-volt household socket. This will supply your car with about five miles of range for every hour of charging time, making it the slowest option. However, an overnight charge generally provides enough power for a daily commute. Just make sure nothing else is plugged into the same circuit.
2. A 240-volt appliance socket
Another option is to charge your electric car using the same type of 240-volt socket you used to run a dryer or other heavy-duty appliance. Referred to as level two charging, this method usually provides about 20 miles of range per hour, which significantly cuts down on charging time. If you don’t have a 240-volt socket in your garage, you’ll need to hire an electrician to install one and possibly upgrade your breaker panel.
3. A 240-volt charging station
You can also purchase a home charging station that operates at 240 volts. These units are typically wall-mounted and can include smart features that allow you to power up remotely and view data on your usage. To ensure the station is safely installed, you’ll need to hire a licensed electrician. Fortunately, many governments offer rebates for the purchase and/or installation of home charging stations.
Always consult the owner’s manual for your electric vehicle before plugging it into an unfamiliar power source.
What the check-engine light really means
It can be nerve-racking to see the check-engine light flick onto your dashboard. However, it’s important that you remain calm. Here’s what you should know.
What it indicates
The check-engine light connects to your vehicle’s diagnostic system, which is an onboard computer that monitors vehicle performance and automatically repairs issues. If it encounters a problem it’s unable to fix, the diagnostic system turns on the engine-shaped orange or yellow light. This indicates that you need to get your car professionally serviced.
What you should do
If your check-engine light comes on, there’s no need to panic or call a tow truck. It rarely signals an urgent problem such as a complete engine failure. Rather, in most cases, the check-engine light is merely warning you of an impending issue.
When you see it come on, you should make an appointment to have your car serviced as soon as possible. A qualified mechanic will be able to tell you what the problem is and perform the necessary repairs.
4 essential car care tips
April is National Car Care Month, which makes it a perfect time to highlight the importance of keeping your ride in top shape. Here are four tips for taking care of your car.
1. Wash it regularly
Washing and waxing your car helps prevent the body and paint from getting damaged by corrosive debris such as road salt. Additionally, keeping your windshield, windows, mirrors, and lights spotless improves how well you can see while driving.
2. Clean the interior
It doesn’t take long for dust, dirt, and crumbs to collect inside your car. In addition to causing odors, contaminants can lead to bacteria growth and compromise the air quality in your car’s cabin. Keep the interior of your vehicle tidy by regularly vacuuming the seats and carpets, wiping down surfaces with a disinfectant cloth, and replacing the cabin air filter as needed.
3. Keep up with routine care
To prevent breakdowns, make sure to get your car regularly serviced. Refer to the user’s manual to determine the recommended maintenance schedule for your type of car. Even better, find a reliable mechanic who can suggest a maintenance timeline after inspecting and servicing your vehicle.
4. Look out for problems
Is your car making weird noises? Does it handle differently? Or maybe a dashboard warning light has come on? Addressing issues right away, even if they seem minor, can help you avoid costly repairs and keep you safe on the road.
Last but not least, make sure to practice safe driving to protect your car as well as yourself, your passengers and other road users.
What’s included in a standard car tune-up
Do you want to know more about what happens when you get your car serviced? Here are some of the main tasks a mechanic performs during a tune-up.
Change the filters
Your vehicle is equipped with oil, fuel, air, and cabin air filters. Their primary function is to prevent contaminants from damaging components in the engine or other vehicle systems. During a tune-up, your mechanic will check the various filters and replace them if needed.
Replace the fluids
The fluids in your car, including the engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid, are essential. In fact, they’re responsible for keeping your car running smoothly. It’s important to change these fluids at regular intervals to prevent potential breakdowns and damage to the engine.
Service the parts
Your car’s ignition system is made up of a variety of electrical components that are susceptible to wear and tear. Issues with the ignition parts can result in the engine misfiring or not starting at all. During a tune-up, your mechanic will check to see whether the spark plugs, ignition wires, and ignition coils are in good condition or need to be replaced.
Check the diagnostics
When an issue occurs with the engine, your vehicle’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) system stores a repair code that can only be read by a specialized scanner. During a tune-up, your mechanic will scan the OBD system for repair codes in order to address potential engine problems.
To sum up, scheduled maintenance helps ensure that your car runs smoothly and may prevent unexpected breakdowns and the need for costly repairs.
The pros and cons of manual cars
Although less common than they used to be, manual-transmission cars, with their gearboxes and clutch pedals, remain popular among a passionate subset of drivers. If you’re thinking about joining the club, here are the pros and cons of driving a stick.
What are the perks?
Manual cars have several notable advantages over their automatic counterparts, including the following:
• Greater control. A manual car will provide you with full power over accelerating and braking. This isn’t the case with an automatic, as the torque converter constantly propels the vehicle forward.
• Simpler maintenance. Manual transmissions are less complex than automatic transmissions. As a result, they generally require less frequent servicing and are cheaper to repair.
• Improved gas mileage. Having more control over your engine allows you to optimize fuel economy. An efficient driver of a stick shift can improve their gas mileage by as much as 15 percent.
• Lower price. Except for high-end sports cars, stick shifts usually cost less than their automatic counterparts.
What are the drawbacks?
There are also some potential downsides to opting for a stick shift:
• Steeper learning curve. It takes some initial instruction and practice to be able to drive a manual car. Drivers can expect to stall, jerk and face other obstacles when just starting out.
• Greater demands on your attention. Driving a stick requires more focus and an ability to multitask. In addition, it can be tedious if you’re frequently in stop-and-go traffic, as you’ll constantly have to shift gears.
• Smaller selection. Stick shifts are harder to come by than automatics, with only 13 percent of new cars sold in North America offering a manual-transmission option.
Do you think you’d enjoy driving a stick? If so, consider taking a few driving lessons. You’ll be able to learn the basics and see whether it suits you.