How to Eliminate Your Blind Spot in Any Vehicle

December 7, 2010

Ahh, the dreaded blind spot. We all have had those scary incidences when we check our mirror and as we merge, someone comes out of nowhere going Mach IV. After that, we check our shorts and/or shout more obscenities than Ralphie fighting Scut Farkus. Either way, we are just as wrong for not properly checking our blind spots.

Most of us were taught to position the side mirrors so that we can see the side of the vehicle on each mirror. This is wrong. The trick is to work the angles and consider peripheral vision (what we naturally see out of the corner of our eyes).

In order to obtain a proper mirror angle, do the following:

Driver-side Mirror: Place face against window, adjust mirror so that you can barely see the left edge of the vehicle.

Passenger-side Mirror: Lean over until you are in the center of the vehicle (directly over the console), adjust mirror so that you can barely see the right edge of the vehicle.

Removing Blind Spots

Removing Blind Spots

Now the mirrors are positioned more outward. This may feel a bit strange at first so test it out and adjust accordingly. Let a few vehicles pass you on each side to test it. Once the passing vehicle leaves your side mirror, you should see it in your peripheral vision. If not, make minor adjustments to correct it.

Overall, this will add more confidence to your highway driving, especially at night. Every car, truck or van is designed differently, so make sure you have the mirrors positioned properly for that specific vehicle.

We hope these tips have been useful. For more information, visit us at You can also save money on your next oil change or service by adding us on Facebook and printing out our coupons.

Charapp Auto Group
(800) 280-3470

Charapp Ford North
110 Route 908
Natrona Heights, PA 15065
(724) 294-2000

Charapp Rt.28 Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ford
112 Route 908
Natrona Heights, PA 15065

Charapp Used Vehicles
110-112 Route 908
Natrona Heights, PA 15065
(800) 280-3470


How to Improve Your MPGs

December 3, 2010

In an increasingly dismal economy, we all must learn to adapt to the ways of frugality. Inflation is happening at a record pace and no where is that more evident than at the gas pump. Therefore, your friends at Charapp Auto Group have comprised a list of fuel saving techniques that are proven to increase your MPGs.

MPG Saving Tips

MPG Saving Tips

  1. Keep your vehicle well maintained: A car not running up to par will use up more gas than one that has been tuned up and serviced regularly. Faulty spark plugs can reduce gas mileage up to 12% and a dirty air filter will set you back a whopping 20%. It’s a good idea to change your oil and filter every 3k miles (2k miles for vehicles over 100k).
  2. Keep your windows up and A/C off – A common misconception among gas saving techniques is that running your A/C uses more gas than rolling down the windows. This is actually untrue as having the windows down increases drag and makes your engine work harder in order to reach a desired speed. If you’re worried about making it to the pump in time, shut the A/C off and roll the windows all the way up. It might be a bit stuffy, but you are less likely to be pushing your jalopy to the pump.
  3. Avoid traffic – This seems like something most of us would want to do anyways. If trying to save a few bucks, try to leave before or after traffic dies down.
  4. Reduce drag – In addition to rolling up the windows, there are other measures you can do to reduce your vehicle’s drag such as removing luggage racks, bike racks, ski equipment, etc. It’s estimated that half of your vehicle’s energy is expended by overcoming air resistance.
  5. Use the right octane level – Check your owner manual and see what level of octane is recommended. Putting premium gas in an engine designed to run on regular does nothing to improve performance. Even some vehicles that call for higher octane fuels can run fine on regular unleaded (although with some loss of performance).
  6. Tighten your gas cap – According to a recent study by Advance Auto Parts, “Improperly seated gas caps allow 147 million gallons of fuel to vaporize every year in the U.S.”
  7. Maintain a constant moderate speed – According to Edmunds, the best way to improve a vehicle’s fuel efficiency was to accelerate slowly and brake over a longer distance. reported “As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 MPH you drive over 60 MPH is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas.” Not to mention the amount of money you will save on speeding tickets.
  8. Use cruise control – This takes out the human element of maintaining a constant speed over an extended period of time, thus improving fuel efficiency.
  9. Don’t top off the tank – Overfilling can lead to wasted gas. Even if the auto-shutoff stops at an odd number, try to let it go.
  10. Lighten your load – Your car loses about 1 MPG for ever extra 250 lbs. your engine has to haul. Keep that in mind the next time you carpool with the Steelers offensive line.
  11. Inflate your tires – Make sure your tires are inflated to the recommended level. Under-inflated tires can reduce fuel economy by as much as 25%. Additionally, keeping your tires properly balanced and aligned also improves fuel economy.
  12. Avoid excessive idling – If you plan on stopping your car for more than 30 seconds, turn your engine off. Starting your engine uses a burst of fuel, but less than it takes to idle your engine for an extended period of time.
  13. Utilize overdrive gears – Overdrive gearing slows the engine down, which saves gas and reduces engine wear.
  14. Speed up BEFORE hills – Your engine is already working hard to fight gravity. Try speeding up before hills and letting momentum take you up to the top and then back down.
  15. Beware of “gas saving” products – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission warns that most gas-saving products are frauds. Even in the few products that have been found to work, the savings are very small.

We hope these tips help you save some money. For more information, visit us at You can also save money on your next oil change or service by adding us on Facebook and printing out our coupons.

Charapp Auto Group
(800) 280-3470

Charapp Ford North
(724) 294-2000

Charapp Rt.28 Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram
(724) 295-5000

All-New Ford Fiesta Delivers 40 MPG; Tops Class in Fuel Economy

May 18, 2010

Ford Fiesta

DEARBORN — Ford’s all-new 2011 Fiesta – an Internet star even before it goes on sale this summer – will now stand out on the highway with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified 40 mpg rating, making it the most fuel efficient car in its class.

The Ford Fiesta 40 mpg, achieved with Ford’s new six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission, is 5 mpg better than the Honda Fit and 4 mpg better than the Toyota Yaris.

“The new Fiesta is yet another car in Ford’s lineup that delivers class-leading fuel economy,” said Barb Samardzich, vice president, Global Powertrain Engineering. “From Super Duty to Fusion Hybrid and the new Mustang V-6, Ford is committed to fuel economy leadership with every new vehicle it introduces in all segments.”

Fiesta’s class-leading fuel efficiency follows Fusion Hybrid – America’s most fuel efficient midsize sedan – and other fuel economy champs such as the Ford Escape Hybrid, Mercury Mariner Hybrid and Ford Ranger pickup. For 2011, the streak continues with the Mustang V-6, Ford Super Duty and now the responsive, sporty and economical Fiesta. Moving forward, Ford is committed to being a fuel economy leader in each segment in which it competes.

The Fiesta achieves its best-in-segment fuel figures thanks to a host of fuel-saving technologies not normally seen at this price level. To increase fuel economy, Fiesta features a new 1.6-liter Duratec® engine with Twin Independent Variable Camshaft Timing (Ti-VCT) that delivers 120 horsepower, an aggressive deceleration fuel shutoff and an engine accessory drive system that improves efficiency by reducing the energy it takes to power the air conditioner and alternator.

In addition, the Fiesta also features the PowerShift transmission, a six-speed automatic that combines the fuel benefits of a manual with the convenience of an automatic. Combine that with electric power-assisted steering, another fuel saver and some aerodynamic optimizations and you have a car that can go a long way on a single tank of fuel.

“We worked hard to deliver the class-leading fuel economy Ford is becoming synonymous for,” said Steve Pintar, Fiesta chief nameplate engineer. “To be the only vehicle in the segment to deliver 40 mpg is something we feel consumers will appreciate.”

The 2011 Fiesta with standard five-speed manual transmission is EPA rated at 28 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.

These efficiency innovations combine with the stylish and aerodynamically clean Fiesta body design to efficiently slip through the wind with both fuel savings and reduced wind noise.

Fiesta is built for North American markets at Ford’s manufacturing facility in Cuautitlan, Mexico. The vehicle goes on sale in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback body styles – with the sedan starting at $13,995, including destination charges – at Ford dealerships this summer.

For more information, contact:

Charapp Rt.28 Chrysler Jeep Dodge & Ford

(724) 294-2000 Ford or (724) 295-5000 Chrysler Jeep & Dodge

Things to do in Pittsburgh – Summer 2010

April 15, 2010


Not sure what to do in Pittsburgh this summer? Don’t worry. We got you covered. Here is a list of free or cheap things to do. 

Hartwood Acres

Three Rivers Arts Festival

Cinema in the Park

Pittsburgh Wine Festival

Three Rivers Regatta

Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

Pennsylvania Fish for Free Days

Station Square Summer Street Jam

Citiparks Farmers’ Market

Bach, Beethoven and Brunch

Farmers at Firehouse

Jam on Walnut

Community Bike Program

Honorable Mentions:

Dependable Drive-In


Sandcastle Waterpark

Citiparks Swimming Pools 

For more information, contact us at:

(724) 294-2000 Ford or (724) 295-5000 Chrysler Jeep & Dodge

Ford is Winning More New Customer from Competing Brands, Fueling Market Share Gains

March 26, 2010

Subject: Ford is Winning More New Customer from Competing Brands, Fueling Market Share Gains Summary:

Ford Motor Company is increasingly attracting customers who are trading in vehicles from competing brands, one of the keys to Ford’s recent market share gains in U.S. For the Ford brand, the rate of customers who traded in competitive brand vehicles rose 18% from the 2005 to 2009 model year. The conquest rate for Lincoln rose 61%, while Mercury saw a 12% increase from the 2005 to 2009 model year. “We’re finding that when customers of competing brands check out our new lineup and understand the quality, fuel efficiency and value we offer, they are increasingly becoming Ford owners,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president of Marketing, Sales and Service. “The strength of our new products is making the difference in a very competitive marketplace.” Among Ford vehicles, the Fusion Hybrid, Escape Hybrid and Mustang attract the most customers who trade in competing brands. For example, more than 60% of trade-ins for the Fusion Hybrid were non-Ford vehicles. More than 50% of trade-ins for the Ford Mustang were competitive brands. The redesigned Ford Taurus showed the biggest increase in attracting new customers to the Ford brand between 2005 and 2009. For the Lincoln and Mercury brands, the Mercury Mariner Hybrid and Lincoln MKX attracted the most customers from competing brands. “We’re seeing customers from competing brands in the showroom that we haven’t seen in a long time, if ever,” said Kevin Collins, president and owner of the Bill Collins Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealership in Louisville, Kentucky. “Customers have been looking at our products for two reasons. They are impressed with Ford products’ quality improvement, and they are pleasantly surprised with our entire lineup. Ford is back on their shopping list.” Winning new customers from competing brands has been a key to Ford’s ability to gain market share in the United States. Ford gained U.S. market share in 2009, its first full-year market share gain since 1995. Ford has now gained market share for 16 of the past 17 months. As Ford attracts new customers, it is seeing a demographic shift among its owners. Since 2002, the average household income of Ford customers has risen about 20% and the number of Ford customers with college degrees has risen nearly 10%.

For more information, contact us at:

(724) 294-2000 Ford or (724) 295-5000 Chrysler Jeep & Dodge

Gillette Towing & Excavating Sponsors #12 Car in Lernerville Speedway’s Sportsman Division

March 24, 2010

Press Release:

Driver Shawn Thorn and Crew Chief Rod Kacin have announced that they have agreed to terms with Gillette Towing and Excavating – Natrona Heights, PA for Prime Sponsorship support for their #12 Sportsman Division car for the 2010 racing season!

Gillette Towing & Excavating

Driver - Shawn Thorn #12 Car

Gillette 24 Hour Towing will join a host of other dedicated sponsors including their friends and long time Prime Sponsor, The Hot Dog Guys, as well as Prime Sponsorship support by Digital Designs, who supply the graphics for the car. The #12 car was voted fan favorite at the Mills Mall Show in 2009.

#12 Car

Shawn and Rod wish to thank the Gillette family for their support and ask the racing community to support the Gillette’s whenever possible when towing, excavating or commercial snow removal service is needed. And if you get in the mood for a good Hot Dog during the week, you can look forward to The Hot Dog Guys being back in business in April at their long time location on Rt.28 at Exit 14. Please stop by and visit them as well for a great quick lunch or snack! The guys at Digital Designs are well equipped to do your graphics for any type of business, automotive or race car application.

The Hot Dog Guys  Digital Designs

The #12 car is piloted by long time Lernerville regular, Shawn Thorn who competes weekly in the Sportsman Division at Lernerville. Good luck this season Shawn!

If any others in the class would like me to broadcast major sponsorship announcements, please e-mail me at and I will be happy to spread the good news!

Charapp Rt.28 Chrysler Jeep Dodge & Ford

Charapp Rt.28 Chrysler Jeep Dodge and Ford would like to thank all of the supporters for their participation with all the cars in the Lernerville Sportsman Division. Without great sponsors, we would not have a division that on many weeks has the highest car count at the track! We encourage all race fans to support these sponsors, and the sponsors in all classes to show that the dollars spent supporting these race cars will bring the support of the racing community in the form of additional business.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the track this Saturday for Open Practice from 12-5. It has been a long winter and I know everyone is excited to get back to the track!

Pictures from last year’s racing season are still available for your viewing pleasure on our website if you have not taken the opportunity to see them. Click on this link CHARAPP.COM, click on the picture of either store, then click on the race tab and you will b there. We will have weekly updates and pictures from the track, so please bookmark the site and stop back often!

Jim Matthes GSM
Charapp Rt.28 Chrysler Jeep Dodge & Ford
110-112 SR 908 (Exit 16 Rt.28 North out of Pittsburgh)
Natrona Heights, PA 15065
Ford 724-294-2000 or 800-280-3566
CJD 724-295-5000 or 800-280-3031

Tricks to Keep Your Smartphone Charged

March 15, 2010

by Eric A. Taub
Sunday, March 14, 2010

If you’re a recent convert to smartphones, you’re probably still discovering all the amazing things that your new BlackBerry, Android phone or iPhone can do. But one thing you most likely found out right away: the more you do, the shorter your phone’s battery lasts.

While a standard cellphone’s charge can easily go three days or more, many smartphone owners are dismayed to learn that their new mobile toy requires charging every 24 hours, or even more often. It was great that I could use one device — my iPhone — to check my calendar and respond to multiple incoming calls during January’s Consumer Electronics Show, but I paid the price when its battery died at 2 p.m.

The answer was not to desperately search for an electrical outlet to recharge the phone (though I’ve done that) or to consider giving up the phone (done that, too), but rather to figure out a strategy to reduce energy consumption while still having it available for essential tasks. Whether you’re using a laptop or a smartphone, the devices can be tweaked to get the most out of its lithium–ion batteries.

Reconsider Your Network

All things being equal, the C.D.M.A. mobile standard used by Verizon uses more power than a G.S.M. network, principally used by AT&T and T–Mobile. If battery life is critical, you might want to consider G.S.M. as long as its coverage meets your needs.

Dim It

The brighter your screen, the more juice you’re using. If you’re in a dimly lit room, turn down your LCD screen’s brightness. If your device has an autodimming feature that detects the light in a room, use it. Similarly, if you use your smartphone or laptop to play music, lower the volume.


If you have a BlackBerry, the company’s holster will automatically turn off the screen when you insert the phone.

Stop Searching

It is great that you can use Bluetooth technology to connect your smartphone to a headset, or use Wi–Fi to speed up the downloading of e–mail messages. But when you’re not using that headset or not near a Wi–Fi hot spot, turn off those features on the phone or laptop.

The reason is that portable devices will continue to look for Wi–Fi or a Bluetooth headset, using power.

Similarly, put your phone to sleep when it is in standby. On an iPhone, you do so through the “Settings” icon. On a BlackBerry, use the “Manage Connections” icon.

Skip a Generation

Your smartphone is also continually looking for a cellphone signal. If you’re in a weak signal area, your phone must work even harder to find one, decreasing battery life. If you know that there is no coverage in your area, turn off your portable device’s mobile capabilities.

If your G.S.M. 3G network is not available or the signal is weak, the battery will drain faster looking for one. Consider turning off the phone’s 3G network or using the slower EDGE network instead. It will make Web access slower but won’t affect phone call quality.

Check Mail Manually

Mobile smartphones can check for e–mail messages and instant messages automatically. Or they can be set to “push” notifications as soon as they arrive in your server’s mailbox.

Both strategies can be power hogs. To increase your battery life, turn off push and increase the interval between when the phone checks for new messages. Or better, set up your phone to check for messages manually.

Turn Off Everything

The simplest way to cut power to a minimum is to put your smartphone into “airplane mode.” You turn your BlackBerry or iPhone into a music player and personal organizer, and you won’t be able to receive e–mail messages or make or receive phone calls, but you will stretch your battery.

“In airplane mode and running just the alarm clock, your iPhone battery will last up to a week,” said Kyle Wiens, co–founder of, an online iPhone and Mac laptop repair company.

Disable the Animations

The hotter your laptop feels, the more battery power it is using. And one of the biggest users of power is Flash animation, the technology behind many online videos and animated ads. To improve battery life, disable Flash when not using wall power. BashFlash and ClicktoFlash for Macs and Flashblock for PC are programs that will automatically restrict Flash.

Get an App to Aid You

There are a number of applications that can help monitor battery life and shut off various functions that cut down on a mobile device’s effective power.

Battery Go and myBatteryLife tell iPhone owners how much charge they have left and how that power translates into minutes of talk time, music, video and Web surfing.

NB BattStat alerts BlackBerry owners to the amount of battery charge remaining, as well as the battery’s temperature. (Hot batteries lose power more quickly.) The device can be set to vibrate or sound when a predetermined low battery level is reached.

Radio Saver will monitor your BlackBerry’s mobile coverage and shut off the device’s mobile circuitry when you are out of range of a cellular signal.

Best BatterySaver allows owners of mobile phones using the Symbian operating system (including models from Nokia and Sony Ericsson) to create battery–saving profiles. For example, certain features can be automatically turned on when the phone is connected to a wall plug, or Bluetooth can be automatically disconnected when the battery charge drops below a certain level.

For laptops, programs like Battery Health Monitor (Mac) and Laptop Battery Power Monitor (PC) keep track of battery charge and estimate how many more times you’ll be able to recharge your battery.

Realize the End Will Come

The older generation of nickel cadmium batteries suffered from memory issues; if you didn’t fully charge and discharge one, it would hold a progressively smaller amount of juice.

Today’s lithium–ion batteries don’t suffer from memory loss, so it is safe to top off a battery.

Lithium–ion batteries cannot be overcharged; a device’s circuitry cuts off the power when they are full. However, manufacturers still recommend that a laptop not be continually connected to power once the battery is at its capacity. If a laptop won’t be used for several months, it should be stored with the battery in a 50 percent charge state.

All batteries can be fully charged and discharged for a fixed number of cycles; lithium–ion batteries typically last between 300 and 500 cycles. Information on the number of cycles can be obtained at manufacturers’ Web sites, or at

No matter how well you husband your battery’s resources, there comes a time when you’ll need to send your battery to its final resting place.

Like most things nearing the end of their life, your battery will stay awake less and sleep more. “If your battery lasts only an hour after you’ve charged it,” said Anthony Magnabosco, owner of, a battery replacement company, “you know its time is up.”

Charapp Rt.28 Chrysler Jeep Dodge & Ford:

(724) 294-2000 Ford or (724) 295-5000 Chrysler Jeep & Dodge

The Jeep Pentastar Engine

March 10, 2010

Pentastar V6 Engine

Running on regular gas, the Pentastar engine is estimated for 16 mpg city, 23 highway on the Grand Cherokee — vs 16/20 for the Hemi. It meets California LEV II+ evaporative emission requirements, Tier 2, meets Federal Bin 4+ emission requirements, and Clean Fuel Fleet Certification (CCF-LEV) in all other states.

The engine features high-flow intake and exhaust ports, which in combination with VVT via dual independent cam phasing, allows optimum volumetric and combustion efficiency over the full speed and load range. This results in an exceptional, flat torque curve along with high specific power. The engine’s torque exceeds 90 percent of its peak value from 1,600 to 6,400 rpm, which provides outstanding drivability and responsiveness.

In the Grand Cherokee, the engine will not have direct injection, possibly because that technique, while more efficient, adds some noise and vibration. Direct injection is rumored to be on future versions of the engine.

Refinement was achieved with the help of advanced computer-aided engineering. Structural, intake, and exhaust areas deliver low levels of noise. Idle quality was improved through the dual independent cam phasing.

The advanced oil filter system eliminates oil spills and contains an incinerable filter element instead of the typical spin-on filters, which are disposed of in landfill sites; the filter is conveniently located on top of the engine. The use of long-life spark plugs, regular gasoline, and a high-energy coil-on-plug ignition system also helps to reduce cost of ownership. The engine also is fully flex fuel capable, offering consumers the choice of gasoline or E85 fuel without any degradation in performance or emissions.

For more information, contact
Charapp Rt.28 Chrysler Jeep Dodge & Ford:

(724) 294-2000 Ford or (724) 295-5000 Chrysler Jeep & Dodge

Charapp Sponsoring Lernerville Speedway

March 8, 2010


Charapp Rt28 Chrysler Jeep Dodge & Ford

Lernerville Speedway

Jim Matthes, General Sales Manager, is pleased to announce that CHARAPP RT 28 CHRYSLER JEEP DODGE & FORD will be the new DIRTcar Sportsman Division Sponsor for the 2010 Racing season at Lernerville Speedway.

Being involved with the Speedway has been a great pleasure for me and I look forward to being even more involved this racing season with the Sportsman Class drivers, owners and all the team’s sponsors. I am excited about the opportunity to help promote and support our local track, the car owners, drivers, sponsors and of course all the race fans who visit the track each week to be a part of the exciting side by side racing Lernerville Speedway provides.

Charapp Rt 28 Chrysler Jeep Dodge & Ford is a full service family owned facility in Natrona Heights Pa. located at exit 16 on Rt 28 North out of Pittsburgh just minutes from the track. The family has owned and operated dealerships in the Pittsburgh area for over 87 years and looks forward to the merging of the long time heritages of the Speedway and the Dealership by it’s support of the track, all of the racers, fans, and sponsors and in particular the EXCITING and COMPETITIVE racing provided each week by the Sportsman Division.

You are invited to visit our website at CHARAPP.COM for weekly updates and hundreds of photos from each weeks racing action at Lernerville. Just click on the Race Car Tab and you’ll be there. 2009 weekly updates and photos are still available for your viewing pleasure if you have not yet taken the opportunity to view them.

Thanks for reading this post and I hope to see you at the track each and every week!

For more information, contact
Charapp Rt.28 Chrysler Jeep Dodge & Ford:

(724) 294-2000 Ford or (724) 295-5000 Chrysler Jeep & Dodge

Toyota Vehicles Not Fixed

March 4, 2010

Toyota Recall

Stewart Stogel of Mt. Vernon, N.Y. speaks about the problems with his 2009 Toyota

AP – By TOM KRISHER and KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writers Tom Krisher And Ken Thomas, Associated Press Writers


At least 15 Toyota drivers have complained to U.S. safety officials that their cars sped up by themselves even after being fixed under recalls for sticky gas pedals or floor mat problems, according to an Associated Press analysis. The development raises questions about whether Toyota’s repairs will bring an end to the cases of wild, uncontrolled acceleration or if there may be electronic causes behind the complaints that have dogged the automaker.

Although the allegations were unverified by the agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Wednesday it was contacting people who have complained about acceleration problems even after repairs were done under two large recalls. The agency wants to hear from others who have had similar troubles, it said.

“If Toyota owners are still experiencing sudden acceleration incidents after taking their cars to the dealership, we want to know about it,” agency administrator David Strickland said in a statement.

The new complaints raised eyebrows in Congress, which has held three hearings on the recalls in the past week and is investigating Toyota’s safety problems.

“I am deeply concerned that NHTSA has received this many reports of possible sudden unanticipated acceleration even after these vehicles have received Toyota’s recommended fix,” said Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, who serves on one of the committees investigating Toyota.

“It’s critical that we get to the bottom of this problem as quickly as possible.”

Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said Wednesday the company was investigating the complaints, though it remains confident in its recall fixes. Teams of engineers are being mobilized to check into the complaints, he said.

Toyota has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide since October to fix floor mats that can snag gas pedals or faulty gas pedal assemblies that can stick.

NHTSA says 52 people have been killed in crashes linked to Toyota’s acceleration problems. Toyota has blamed mechanical causes or drivers pressing the wrong pedal. However, some question whether the electronic throttle system or a software glitch may be at fault, rather than a mechanical issue involving pedals. Toyota says it is looking into electronics as a possible cause.

In the meantime, complaints keep coming in from drivers who say the fix has not solved the problem, including at least 15 filed with NHTSA in the last two weeks, according to an AP analysis of the agency database.

The owner of a 2009 Camry, Stewart Stogel, of Mount Vernon, N.Y., told the AP he narrowly missed driving over an embankment and hitting a wall when the mid-size sedan accelerated on its own last Saturday — five days after being serviced as part of the recall.

Stogel, who has not filed a complaint with NHTSA, said the incident occurred near his home after a dealership trimmed the gas pedal and installed new brake control software as part of the floor mat recall.

“At first the brakes didn’t engage at all,” said the 49-year-old freelance journalist. “Just as I approached Terrace Avenue, the wheels were able to get some traction, and all of the sudden the engine did disengage.”

Stogel said the car had accelerated two previous times before the recall fix, and both times he took it to dealerships to be checked. In one case it was inspected by a Toyota corporate technician who could find nothing wrong, he said.

After the latest incident, Stogel called his dealer, who told him to return with the car so Toyota engineers could inspect it. He did so on Wednesday and was given a loaner car. He also left a message with Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. President Jim Lentz.

Carolyn Kimbrell, 59, a retired office assistant in Whitesville, Ky., said her 2006 Toyota Avalon accelerated last weekend as she was returning with her 9-year-old granddaughter from a trip to the mall. The incident occurred a week after her dealer inserted a metal piece into the gas pedal mechanism on Feb. 20 to eliminate the friction blamed for the pedal problems.

The dealer said her car wasn’t covered by the floor mat recall, but agreed to do that fix after she reported the latest incident, she said.

Now she wonders if the company’s remedies will solve the problem. “It just scares you,” Kimbrell said. The recalls have hurt Toyota’s safety and quality reputation and brought death and injury lawsuits. Federal prosecutors in New York are conducting a criminal investigation into the recalls and the Securities and Exchange Commission is probing what the automaker told investors.

Electronic causes have come under scrutiny because until now, Toyota and the government have done little to examine them. Most modern cars are essentially computers on wheels, with systems of sensors, wires and computer chips controlling the throttle, brakes, transmissions and other functions.

Software glitches can develop in the computers, electrical interference can cause sensors to send the wrong signals and there can be electrical shorts. Sometimes two or three glitches can happen at once.

Re-creating electronic problems is extremely difficult because often they leave no trace.

The latest complaints are further evidence that the automaker’s repairs don’t cover all possible causes, said Sean Kane, president of Safety Research and Strategies Inc., a Massachusetts-based car safety investigation and advocacy group who has studied Toyota.

“Anybody who has reviewed the complaints and reviewed what’s going on here has to reach a conclusion that there’s more going on than sticky pedals, floor mats and drivers,” said Kane, whose firm has done research for trial lawyers suing Toyota.

Kane believes the problem has multiple electronic roots, perhaps in cruise-control mechanisms.

So far NHTSA, which has the power to force an automaker to recall vehicles, has gone along with the mechanical causes pinpointed by Toyota.

“What we need this agency to do is really question Toyota, look at the issues in a more thorough way,” Kane said. “In the past they were quick to dismiss electronics.”

For more information, contact
Charapp Rt.28 Chrysler Jeep Dodge & Ford:

(724) 294-2000 Ford or (724) 295-5000 Chrysler Jeep & Dodge