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Archive for the ‘Car Safety’ Category

Don’t Roll Your Car This Summer

June 23rd, 2015

rollover1

The white Tahoe sat in the median between the north and south lanes of the freeway. Personal belongings were scattered for dozens of feet in all directions. The rear window was broken out, and about 10 people milled around inspecting the damage.

This could have been any of the accidents that are unfortunately all too familiar on American Interstates, except this particular vehicle had come to rest on its roof.

Yesterday was clear and warm with nothing but blue skies, dry pavement, and light traffic. I don’t know how the Tahoe rolled over or what circumstances led to the accident, but it appeared that it happened just moments before I passed. No other vehicles were involved.

How can a single-vehicle rollover happen on such a perfect day for driving?

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Are Collision Avoidance Systems Really Necessary?

June 16th, 2015

collision avoidance system

“Hey, watch this, kids,” I said as I lifted my feet off the pedals off my 2013 Subaru Legacy. “This car’s so cool because it senses cars in front of it and stops itself.”

I should mention that I was on the Interstate going about 60 miles per hour as traffic up ahead slowed to a crawl.

With my car careening toward the brake lights, I trusted the car would perform as it always has and apply the brakes before I even had to worry.

Except I started to worry.

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Coming Soon: 10,000 Flood-Damaged Used Cars

June 8th, 2015

Texas_flood_cars

When you’re buying a used car, it’s always a good idea to have it checked out by a mechanic. There’s nothing new or Earth shattering about that advice, but people routinely ignore it.

Over the next few weeks and months, buyers who choose not to have used cars thoroughly inspected do so at their own peril. We have the recent flooding in Texas to thank for that.

Thousands of vehicles get damaged beyond repair anytime there’s a natural disaster involving water. Flooding, even on a small scale, can do more damage to a car than a lifetime on the road.

The floods in Texas were anything but small-scale, and some reports say up to 10,000 vehicles were damaged by the high waters.

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Toyota Prius: Most Stolen Car in America?

June 2nd, 2015

2015 Toyota Prius pic-362296487971647730

Imagine the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds” with a Prius in place of the Shelby GT500.

Not very exciting, is it?

Car theft has been romanticized in movies and video games, but the reality is far less exciting. Cars are stolen every day in this country, and it happens in plain site at grocery stores, in home driveways, and in mass-transit parking lots.

Instead of targeting brash sports cars, thieves often go for the kinds of cars that blend in and are easily taken apart so in-demand parts can be sold. The traditional pièce de résistance of thieves is the Honda Accord, which fits those criteria perfectly.

There may, however, be a new king in town.

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Distracted Driving: The New Normal?

May 29th, 2015

Texting While Driving

How many times per day do you see people texting behind the wheel?

I’d venture to guess that every time you’re stopped at a light or stopped on the highway in heavy traffic, you’ll be able take a look at your fellow drivers and see at least one with his or her face buried in a phone.

It’s dangerous, and it shouldn’t happen, but we, as modern-day Americans, have outsourced our brains to our devices, and we can’t sever the connection. We text and drive, we e-mail and drive, we shop and drive, and we talk and drive. Many of us go about these activities while also eating or putting on makeup.

Driving has become the secondary or even tertiary activity while behind the wheel. Nobody can seem to stop it from happening.

So we must embrace it.

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Airbags: Saving Lives (Mostly) Since 1991

May 19th, 2015

airbag recall

Have you ever had an airbag deploy in your car?

I’m lucky, because the only airbags I’ve ever seen in use have been in videos of crash tests. Airbags stay hidden most of the time, silently tucked away and forgotten. The only reminders of their existence are the subtle etchings in the surfaces that hide them.

Airbags are meant to save lives, and they have, with many thousands of people owing their continued existence to an explosive cushion of air. Airbags, though, have also taken lives by ejecting with too much force, ejecting with young children in the seat, or, most recently, exploding and sending shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

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The Great Controversy: Oil-Change Intervals

May 12th, 2015

oil change intervals

I’m writing this from a waiting room inside the service department of an auto dealership. I can’t say I like it here.

All the chairs are placed in a semi-circle and face a wall-mounted television, which is currently tuned to a show starring three angry judges who like to yell at people. The volume is too high. I don’t even have a television at home, so this is a bit of a shock to me.

The gentleman in the chair directly next to me has a giant sack of dealership butter popcorn, which he’s slurping and spilling all over his chest with every dive into the bag.

I don’t like it here.

I’m getting a simple oil change on a 2013 Subaru Legacy, and I really would love to come less often.

I use full synthetic oil and have it changed every 5,000 miles. Should I cut back to every 7,500 miles or more and save myself from the despair of the waiting room?

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Can You Get Your Car to 200,000 Miles?

May 8th, 2015
On the road to 200,000!

On the road to 200,000!

I want to drive to the moon.

Not literally, of course. The moon is about 240,000 miles away from Earth, and last I heard, the highway there hasn’t been completed yet. I do want my car to last at least that long, though.

We’ve shared stories over the last few weeks of readers who have managed to coax their cars past 200,000 miles and even a few who have approached a quarter-million and beyond.

I want to be one of those people.

My car is a 2008 Audi Q7 that I purchased with an 80,000-mile head start. I’ll hit 110,000 in the next week or two. Earlier this week I brought the SUV to the local Audi dealer for an oil change and discovered that I need new brakes and new tires, but the rest of the rig is in tip-top shape.

That’s encouraging, because I plan on going at least another 90,000 miles. Here’s how I’ll do it, and what I’ll avoid.

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Will Chevy Follow Ford and Introduce Aluminum Trucks?

May 6th, 2015

2015-ford-f-150-04

Ford’s gamble with the aluminum 2015 F-150 could have ended two ways:

  • As an embarrassing failure
  • As a trendsetting new way to build trucks

Ram, with its little comment about aluminum’s best use being for beer cans, pretty much secured its future of steel bodies.

Chevrolet stayed pretty quiet on the issue, presumably to take a wait-and-see approach. Watching the new Ford keep its status as the number one truck in America, while scoring a 5-star safety rating, might have had a hand in convincing Chevy to join the aluminum body movement.

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Should Modifying Your Car Be Illegal?

April 22nd, 2015

working on own car

Driveway tinkerers and shop-bound weekend racers could be a dying breed.

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. People who work on their own cars are stymied by the sheer amount of technology and custom tools needed to do the job.
  2. A new law could make it illegal to work on your own car.

The first reason is a natural consequence of technology. Open the hood of a modern car, and instead of seeing headers and valve covers, we’re greeted with a plastic cover emblematized with the vehicle’s logo and engine size.

Aside from having easy access to refill the windshield-wiper fluid, modern cars are basically untouchable for the average weekend do-it-yourselfer.

That in itself isn’t so bad, but a law that would outlaw us from even trying is very scary. And very real.

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