Test out new car on steep driveway
Dear Tom and Ray: I have a wonderful car, a ’97 Saturn that gets great mileage and has been reliable all this time. But it’s beginning to signal that it’s time for a replacement. I’d like to get a Toyota Prius, but my curb cut is just steep enough that everyone I know who drives a Prius scrapes when they turn into my driveway. So, my questions are: (1) Would frequent scraping on the front of the car damage it? And (2) if the scraping would cause damage, can I have the car raised a couple of inches somehow so it doesn’t contact the sidewalk every time I drive in and out? This probably sounds stupid, but I don’t know anything about car bodies, so I’d appreciate your advice. Thanks!
— Peter Tom: Frequent scraping certainly can cause damage, Peter. Ask anyone who spends a lot of time riding a bicycle.
Ray: It really depends on what’s being scraped. Lots of cars have a plastic wind deflector under the front bumper to improve mileage. If that’s all you’re scraping, it would be of no mechanical consequence — until it fell off.
Tom: But if you were scraping, say, the oil pan, that could cause problems. Then you could tear it open one day as you were backing out of the driveway, lose all of your oil, seize the engine and then have to go out and buy yourself a cheap replacement car, like a used ’97 Saturn.
Ray: So this requires some specific investigation, Peter. Explain to your Toyota dealer that when you test-drive the new Prius, the route is going to have to include a trip up your driveway.
Tom: When you turn into your driveway (go very slowly), if you hear a scrape, you then can get out and watch and try to determine what’s scraping. Even if you can’t tell by watching, you may be able to see telltale scrape marks on something under there.
Ray: The Prius is designed with mileage in mind, so my guess is that what’s scraping probably is some plastic
2012 was an incredible year for the automotive industry. With politics all mixed up in the middle of the auto industry (for good and for bad), it helped to shine a spotlight on some of the amazing vehicles, success stories and cutting-edge technology that carmakers are creating.
As Cox Media Group Ohio’s Wheels editor, I’ve been fortunate enough to drive 54 different vehicles from model year 2012. So, I’ve seen a wide variety.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite 2012 test drives.