Archive for the ‘Car Safety’ Category

Here’s Your Chance to Sell Your Truck Back to the Automaker

July 28th, 2015

2012 Ram 1500

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has flexed its muscle and leveled Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with a massive fine and buyback program, in addition to requiring strict oversight of future recalls.

A fine of up to $105 million is the result of a settlement between the government and FCA over allegations of misconduct in 23 recalls covering more than 11 million vehicles. Part of that misconduct includes failure to disclose defects and not properly conducting recalls.

The bigger consequence is FCA’s agreement to offer to buy back upward of 500,000 Ram vehicles.

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The Car That Eliminates Traffic Jams

July 13th, 2015


Sometimes the beginning of major change happens with one simple “a-ha” moment.

I had one over the weekend, which I’ll describe a little later. But first, here’s what led to my moment of clarity.

While in San Francisco I had the opportunity to drive a Commuter Cars Tango T600 through heavy traffic into the city and back to the suburbs. The entire trip was about 50 miles.

The T600 is about as wide as a Honda Goldwing motorcycle, weighs as much as a Subaru Outback, has the rollover threshold of a Porsche 911, has four times as many side impact protection bars in its doors as a Volvo, and has quicker acceleration to 60-mph than most stock Ferraris.

No kidding.

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Are Convertibles Worth the Safety Risk?

July 9th, 2015

2015 ford mustang convertible

Yesterday we drove Highway 1 in California from San Simeon to Monterey. This is the most beautiful segment of the most beautiful road in America, but one thing started driving me crazy:

One in ten cars that passed in the opposite direction was either a red convertible Camaro or Mustang. That’s no exaggeration. I don’t know if there’s either a rental place that specializes in outfitting people with red convertibles or if people with red convertibles just like driving the 1, but it got to the point of being ridiculous. Every minute or two someone in the family announced the sighting of yet another convertible Mustang.

Without question, we have entered the season of convertibles. Warm weather brings dropped tops, messy hair, sunburned foreheads, and sun-bleached interiors.

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Don’t Roll Your Car This Summer

June 23rd, 2015


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


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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