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A Publication of Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service
Vol. 8 No. 4.........Fall  2002

Ford Agrees To Examine Cause Of Gas Tank Fires
Nissan Agrees To Recall Maxima Alternators 
Giammalvo's Acquires The Gas/Electric Hybrid, Toyota Prius
Federal Law Allows Customers To Service Car At Any Facility
Inventor Of Three-Point Seat Belt Dies
Did You Know?
In Passing.

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Our Phone Number Is 508-999-3213


    Ford Agrees To Examine Cause Of Gas Tank Fires

 Facing legal action in at least two states, Ford has agreed to investigate  the cause of gas tank fires in its Crown Victoria police cruisers. At least 11 police officers have died in fires resulting from high-speed collisions involving Ford Crown Victoria's over the past 10 years. Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano said Ford agreed to work with her in forming a blue-ribbon commission to study the problem.   Napolitano had been pressing for a recall of the popular cruisers, also known as Police Interceptors. New Brunswick, NJ, filed suit against Ford in May, charging that the company has known for decades that the fuel-tank placement in the cars could lead to fires. Federal safety regulators have already opened an investigation of all Crown Victorias, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Cars built between 1992 and 2001. The rear-wheel-drive sedans share the same frame. 

Napolitano had earlier called for the cars to be recalled and refitted with fortified fuel tanks. Like the notorious Ford Pintos implicated in numerous fiery deaths in the 1970s, the police sedans' fuel tanks are situated between the bumper and rear axle. Critics say the design is unsafe, but a Ford spokeswoman said there's nothing unusual about the design. Instead, she stated that the high-speed  police environment has led to the series of fires. Napolitano said that the task force will be made up of Ford engineers and outside experts, including active-duty police officers. Their task will be to study the design of the Police Interceptors and recommend improvements. Clarence Ditlow of the Center for Auto Safety said he expects Ford will eventually have to recall more than two million of the sedans. 

Nissan Agrees To Recall Maxima Alternators 

  As you may recall, in the Spring 2002 issue of Giammalvo Quarterly, we had notified the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration, (NHTSA), about two incidents in our shop involving alternator fires in Nissan Maximas. This past June, Nissan Motors announced that they are recalling certain 1997 and 1998 Nissan Maximas for the possibility of a faulty internal diode that could lead to alternator fires. Owners of the affected vehicles will receive a letter via mail. Owners that have already paid to have the alternators replaced may obtain a reimbursement check from Nissan upon submitting some documentation. Owners can also call Nissan Customer Assistance at 1-800-647-7261. 

Giammalvo's Acquires The Gas/Electric Hybrid, Toyota Prius

  We now have a 2001 Toyota Prius in stock. The Toyota Prius is the first hybrid electric-gasoline automobile to be certified by the United States Internal Revenue Service as eligible for a $2,000 clean-burning fuel tax deduction. In a July 26, 2002 letter to Toyota, the IRS said, "We have determined that a purchaser of this hybrid vehicle may rely on the certification concerning the incremental cost of permitting the use of electricity to propel the vehicle." "This documentation confirms Toyota's stance that the Toyota Prius, Model Years 2001, 2002 and 2003, qualifies for the full $2,000 tax deduction available to individual consumer purchasers," said Jim Press, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. "Toyota Prius purchasers can use or take this certification to their individual tax advisors to determine how they can take advantage of this important federal tax benefit." 

The IRS has requested that the consumer purchaser, in addition to retaining normal proof of purchase documentation, retain the Toyota and IRS correspondence as further substantiation for the Prius federal tax deduction. Purchasers can get copies of this correspondence from their dealers. As automakers rush to bring more environmentally responsible products to market, one thing is clear, not all hybrid-electric vehicles are created equal. 

For example, the Toyota Prius has the lowest emissions level of any hybrid sedan on the market and that's good news for the environment. Prius is certified as a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV), whereas ULEV certification allows 10 times the smog forming emissions. The only thing cleaner is an all-electric Zero Emissions Vehicle. Hybrid vehicles, developed in the last few years, combine a small gasoline engine and an efficient electric motor that operate alternately or in concert to achieve reduced emissions and increased fuel economy. Contrary to conventional wisdom, they never have to be plugged in because the batteries are charged automatically when the gas engine is running. Other available hybrids use the electric motor only to assist the conventional gasoline engine. In the Prius, however, not only does the electric motor assist the gasoline engine, it is also capable of powering the car with the gasoline engine off. "We see hybrid vehicles as a step to the future, when more advanced technologies such as fuel cells will be ready for the mass market," said Press. "That's why Toyota is working on a wide range of vehicles with this technology." 

Prius is the world's first mass-produced hybrid-electric vehicle and since it went on sale in 1997, close to 100,000 have been sold worldwide. American consumers have purchased nearly 30,000, outselling its nearest competitor by a margin of three to one. Worldwide, Toyota accounts for 90 percent of the hybrid vehicle market. The key component for coordinating low emissions and high mileage is the proprietary Toyota Hybrid System, which lets Prius operate on either electricity, gasoline or a combination of both. No competitive hybrid vehicle can achieve this level of powertrain versatility. The ratio of power provided by each system is constantly controlled, depending on speed and load, to ensure the vehicle operates at peak efficiency. When Prius stops, for example, its engine shuts off to eliminate wasteful idling. The car then starts up on the electric motor, and the engine restarts automatically when more power is needed. The Toyota Hybrid System is seamless and virtually unnoticed when changes occur in the power source. For this smooth-driving transition, Prius has what engineers call a "split-power device." It uses a planetary gear connected to the motor, generator and engine to deliver power to the front wheels. All of this advanced technology is wrapped up in a package that makes Prius a sensible everyday car with traditional Toyota quality. It tied with the Toyota Corolla as the highest-ranking car in the compact segment in the recent J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey.

Federal Law Allows Customers To Service Car At Any Facility

 Often we hear from some customers that say they have  purchased a new vehicle elsewhere and, therefore, can no longer service with us until their car is out of warranty. When questioning customers about this statement, we often learn that they were told by their salesman that they have to stay with the selling dealer for all repair work in order to maintain factory warranty. Any vehicle dealer that makes that statement is directly violating the federal Magnus-Moss Warranty Act. In addition, a manufacturer cannot mandate that only their brand parts be used to validate warranty. The only time a vehicle must be serviced by the dealer is for a manufacturer recall. If a dealer tries to mandate that they must perform all the routine service work, then that dealer must provide all service and parts free of charge to the customer.

In addition, a vehicle manufacturer cannot void the warranty on a vehicle due to an aftermarket part unless they can prove that the aftermarket part caused or contributed to the failure in the vehicle.

The act states:

(c) Prohibition on conditions for written or implied warranty; waiver by Commission. No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumer's using, in  connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or  service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade, or corporate name; except that the prohibition of this subsection may be waived by the Commission if -  (1) the warrantor satisfies the Commission that the warranted product will function properly only if the article or service so identified is used in connection with the warranted product, and (2) the Commission finds that such a waiver is in the public interest. The Commission shall identify in the Federal Register, and permit public comment on, all applications for waiver of the prohibition of this subsection, and shall publish in the Federal Register its disposition of any such application, including the reasons therefore. 

Inventor Of Three-Point Seat Belt Dies

Nils Bohlin, inventor of the three-point safety belt for cars, which is credited with saving countless lives since it was introduced in Europe in the 1950's, began his career as an engineer designing ejector seats for the Swedish aviation industry in the mid-1950's. At that time, safety belts in cars were strapped across the body with the buckle placed over the abdomen. The position of the buckle often caused severe internal injuries in high-speed crashes. In 1958, Mr. Bohlin joined the Volvo Car Corporation as its first chief safety engineer. Using his knowledge of ejector seats, in just under a year he designed a device that would restrain the human body as safely as possible under extreme conditions.  "I realized both the upper and lower body must be held securely in place with one strap across the chest and one across the hips," Mr. Bohlin once said. "The belt also needed an immovable anchorage point for the buckle as far down beside the occupant's hip, so it could hold the body properly during a collision. It was just a matter of finding a solution that was simple, effective and could be put on conveniently with one hand." 

Mr. Bohlin retired in 1985. On the day of his death, Mr. Bohlin joined the likes of Orville and Wilbur Wright, Eli Whitney and 168 others who have been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio. His stepsons Gunnar and Jonas Ornmark had traveled to the United States to accept the award on his behalf. "Letters arrive all the time, from all over the world, thanking him for his invention; it warmed his heart very much,"Gunnar Ornmark said. "He buckled up absolutely every time he got into a car."

Volvo estimates that the seat belt has saved more than one million lives in the last 40 years. "We believe that he was a great inventor; an inventor with a conscience that made great contributions to road safety," said Victor Doolan, chief executive and president of Volvo Cars of North America. "There is a little bit of Nils Bohlin in every car." 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts save more than 11,000 American lives each year. At the Inventors Hall of Fame induction ceremony, hours after learning of his stepfather's death, Mr. Ornmark continued to spread Mr. Bohlin's favorite message: "Don't forget to buckle up."

Did You Know?
The name of the statue on top of every Rolls Royce hood is called "The Spirit of Ecstasy".

A car operates at maximum fuel economy at speeds between 25 and 35 miles per hour.

Chevrolet was founded by Louis Chevrolet in 1911, but was sold to General Motors in 1917.

It took Henry Ford's Motor Company seven years to manufacture one million automobiles. 132 working days after that figure was reached in 1924, the company had assembled nine million cars.

In Passing.

(Obituaries Courtesy The Standard Times)

Joseph Lopez 33, born in New Bedford, lived in this area all of his life. Mr. Lopez was employed as an electrician at Lezangie Electric and was a member of The Church of the New Beginning. 

Frederick T. Galligan, 83, born in Acushnet, he lived there all of his life. He was formerly employed by New Bedford Gear as a tool crib attendant until his retirement. In his leisure time, Mr. Galligan enjoyed camping and traveling. 

Thomas Patrick "Pat" Affonce, 68, born in New Bedford, Mr. Affonce was employed as a fish lumper on the New Bedford waterfront for many years until his retirement in 1994. He was a member of the Fish Lumpers Union, Local 1749. He served in the Army during the Korean Conflict and was a recipient of the Korean Service Medal with four bronze service stars, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Combat Infantry Badge. He enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and working in his yard. 

Statia  Adamowicz, 82, lived in New Bedford all her life.  She was a devoted communicant of St. Hedwig Church. Mrs. Adamowicz had been a homemaker for many years.  During World War II, she was a clerk for the Army at Fort Rodman. She then worked for the Employment Security Office in New Bedford. Many years later, she worked as a clerk at the Hathaway School. She served as a Brownie leader many years ago. She loved animals, reading, driving, cooking, going to the beach and being with family and friends. She had a keen interest in local politics. 

Sheila A. Swift Pickup, 70, born in New Bedford, and resident of Mattapoisett, was the daughter of the late Chester and Abbie Wing. 

Betty L. Spooner, 76, born in New Bedford, she lived in California, Florida, Washington, D.C., and New Bedford most of her life. Miss Spooner was an interviewer in the New Bedford office of the Department of Welfare for many years until her retirement. She played golf for more than 50 years and was a professional golfer on the amateur circuit. She was a member of the Reservation Golf Club, New Bedford Municipal Golf Club, the Elmwood Women's Golf Association and Middlebrook Country Club of Rehoboth. 

Paul William Bedard, 59, born in New London, Conn., he lived the past 30 years in Acushnet. He was a communicant and Eucharistic minister of St. Mary's Church, New Bedford. Mr. Bedard was a supervisor hearings officer at the Registry of Motor Vehicles until his retirement. 

Alfred Oliveira, 81, of Marion, formerly of  Fairhaven and New Bedford, he formerly was a tire builder at Goodyear Tire & Rubber. He was a member of American Legion Post 166, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2892, both of Fairhaven. He enjoyed watching sports. 


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1476 Purchase Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
Phone: (508) 999-3213

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