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Got a question about cars?  Something you’ve always wondered but were afraid to ask?  Fear no more!  Ask all your automotive-related questions and we will use all our powers to get you the right answer.  Your question might even be published right here!

Q: What is MSRP? Is that the same as "Sticker Price"?

The MSRP, or Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, is the price set by the new car manufacturer and put in the sticker on the window. This is what the manufacturer hopes the car will sell for. A dealer can choose to sell a vehicle above or below its listed MSRP.

What is Invoice?
The invoice price is what the dealer pays for the car from the manufacturer, but consumers should be aware that the invoice price often bears little resemblance to the ultimate cost of the automobile to the dealer. The Invoice price does not include holdbacks and factory-to-dealer incentives which can lower the effective cost to the dealer.

Q: How Do Hybrid Cars Work?

A hybrid car is a passenger vehicle that is driven by a hybrid engine, which is any engine that combines two or more sources of power, generally gasoline and electricity. There are two types of gasoline-electric hybrid cars; the parallel hybrid, and the series hybrid. Both use gasoline-electric hybrid technology, but in radically different ways.

In a parallel hybrid car, a gasoline engine and an electric motor work together to move the car forward, while in a series hybrid, the gasoline engine either directly powers an electric motor that powers the vehicle, or charges batteries that will power the motor. Both types of hybrids also use a process called regenerative braking to store the kinetic energy generated by brake use in the batteries, which will in turn power the electric motor.

Both parallel and series hybrids have small gasoline engines, and produce much less pollution than standard gasoline cars, but also produce much less power – hybrids generally produce between 60-90 horsepower, while the average gasoline engine probably produces about double that. To overcome this power gap, hybrid cars are constructed with ultra lightweight materials like carbon fiber or aluminum. Hybrid cars are also designed to be more aerodynamic than most cars, allowing them to “slice” through air instead of pushing it out of the way. All these factors combined equate to a super efficient form of car that gets excellent fuel economy and helps the environment by cutting down on pollution.

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Q: What Makes Brakes Squeak?

The component parts of a car’s braking system – things like the rotors, the brake pads, and the wheels—can vibrate and that vibration makes noise. The brake pads are designed to disintegrate slowly under pressure. If the noise becomes more squeal than an occasional squeak, it could be the warning system built into the brakes to let you know that the pads are nearing the end of their life cycle. There are small steel clips designed to make that noise to let you know it is time for maintenance.

Not sure if the noise your brakes are making is the helpful squeal or a more menacing grinding noise? Pep Boys has sample sounds on their website. The squeal is a higher pitch sound sort of like whistle. The grinding is lower in pitch and more like nails on a chalkboard.

Q: Why do some brakes give off so much dust on hubcaps and others do not?

Brake dust is such a perceived problem that JD Power includes it as a factor in the “Initial Quality Surveys” that the company conducts. Excessive brake dust falls in the design category under overall driving experience. The dust isn’t a new problem, but the trend towards open-wheel design helps contribute to the concern about dust on the wheels. Before, hubcaps hid the dust.

The metal fibers in the dust can be corrosive, and build-up could permanently etch the wheel. Replacing the pads with ceramic brakes could help solve that problem. As Pat Goss, Motorweek’s master technician said, ceramic brakes still create dust, it is just lighter in color and easier to clean because it doesn’t have the corrosive metal fragments.

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