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Drivers changing oil too often, California warns Add to ...

The state of California has launched a publicity campaign against oil changes at about every 3,000 miles (5,000 km) as unnecessary, hoping to move consumers away from the old standard that many still follow.

The state is imploring owners to follow their manufacturer-recommended oil change intervals, which are most often closer to 7,500-10,000 miles (12,070-16,093 km), the Los Angeles Times reported recently.

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The state has just launched a handy website, checkyournumber.org, that lists the recommended oil change intervals for model year 2000 and newer vehicles. It should be noted that some auto makers recommend a more frequent “severe” maintenance schedule for Canadian vehicles, one that may not be the same as that listed for Californians.

The eco-conscious state argues that slashing oil change intervals would not only save consumers time and hassle without affecting the longevity or reliability of the vehicles, but it would also help the environment by preventing the disposal of millions of litres of oil before its useful life expired.

Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster

Mercedes unveils new SL roadster

Mercedes-Benz has revealed photos and details of its upcoming all-new SL roadster, which will publicly debut at January’s Detroit auto show; its main new innovations include wipers that don’t splash or obscure the driver’s view when spraying water, as well as front-mounted subwoofers integrated into the frame that promise a roomier interior and concert hall sound, top up or down.

The new SL also pulls from a variety of other technologies first seen on other Benz models, such as the hardtop folding roof that’s available on this luxurious two-seater in either body colour, permanent glass with sunshade, or Benz’s Magic Sky roof that turns from clear to darkened at the touch of a button.

There’s an automatic parking feature available, the wonderful AirScarf system of neck-height heat vents incorporated into the seats, as well as a system that opens the trunk when you wave your foot under the rear bumper. But unlike similar systems from other manufacturers, it can also close the trunk automatically.

All new-generation SLs will feature a body structure made up largely of lightweight aluminum, outside of safety components such as reinforced steel in the A-pillars for rollover protection. Even with the addition of more convenience items that Mercedes admits gives back some of the weight gains that its engineers had carved out of the structure, the SL 500 weighs 125 kg less than the current SL 550.

A smaller 4.7-litre V-8 also helps shave some weight and up to 22 per cent in fuel consumption, compared to its 5.5-litre predecessor, while making notably more horsepower (435 versus 382) and torque (516 lb-ft versus 391).

Wiper-based spray systems have been available before, but these high-tech wipers spray water directly from either side of the blade arm, depending on its direction of travel, which keeps the water down and out of the cockpit, even at high speeds, says Mercedes.

Saab officially pulls the plug

After 64 years of perpetually “quirky” products, Saab officially filed for bankruptcy this week, suspending warranty claims in both Canada and the United States.

The Dutch-owned Swedish Automobile company and its Swedish receiver will now attempt to liquidate the firm’s assets to sort out what its creditors will receive, after various attempts to restart its Trolhattan plant through Chinese investments in the company were vetoed by former owner GM, which still provides much of the technology for its vehicles to Saab.

One of the most vociferous boosters through Saab’s various financial trying times over the past few years has been Chris Budd of Budd’s Saab in Oakville, Ont., the brand’s first dealership in Canada. Like everyone involved in the matter, Budd is not quite sure what will transpire in the weeks and months ahead, outside of the suspended warranty claims. But even that he believes may yet become flexible.

“My feeling is that warranties, although suspended at the moment, will find a solution, if not on all the cars, at least the cars that were built when GM owned the company – this is just my own conjecture, we will see what transpires.”

Versa sedan and Smart vie for cheapest car title

Nissan has added a discount on its recently introduced Versa sedan to keep an unlikely challenger to the least expensive new car title at bay: the Smart fortwo.

From now to the end of the year, Smart is offering a sizable $2,700 discount on the tiny city car, which brings the price down to $11,990 for 2011 models. (The 2012 base MSRP is $14,350.)

That discounted price would have been right at the door of the new-for-2012 Versa sedan’s $11,798 base asking price, and perhaps slightly under the Versa’s price after including the Nissan’s $1,467 freight cost. Since the Versa sedan’s launch this summer, Nissan has added a $500 factory sweetener to the car, which should keep it as the least expensive new vehicle sold in Canada for the rest of the year, and likely longer.

These prices may not have the same “wow factor” as Hyundai’s $9,995 stripper Accent three-door of a few years back, but considering that the fortwo is sold by Mercedes-Benz and built in France, it’s far from the usual bargain-basement battler. As always, dealers may sell for less, but even incentive-happy Chrysler only has $500 in factory cash off its outgoing Dodge Caliber hatchback.

About $100 for each hp

The hot 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will start at $58,000 in Canada, or about $100 for each of its 580 stampeding horses, when it arrives in the spring.

General Motors says its time in the benchmark 0-60 mile per hour (96 km/h) run is 3.9 seconds – entry into the three-second club is a rare feat for any vehicle that doesn’t cost six figures.

GM is obviously enjoying its supercar-ego-crushing numbers, comparing it to vehicles like the $228,000 Audi R8 GT’s 560 hp, with no mention of its crosstown Ford rival’s Mustang. That could be because Ford has already announced that its rival Shelby GT500 will crest the 650-hp mark when it hits the market later next year as a 2013 model.

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