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Archive for the ‘Car Safety’ Category

Buying Used Luxury? Think Twice

November 5th, 2014
How much are those rings worth to you?

How much are those rings worth to you?

Driving a luxury car for the price of a Honda is an appealing proposition.

I’ve advocated for it on these very pages. Why would someone spend $25,000 on a new Accord or CR-V when they could have a used Audi A6 or Q7?

The benefits make it seem like a no-brainer. For the same money you get more luxury, more brand panache, better performance, and an all-around cooler vehicle. Everything’s great, up until your new luxury car needs some basic maintenance and repairs.

I’d like to share my personal story, so you might avoid the fate that has fallen upon me.

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Exploding Airbags: Who Has the Right Fix?

November 3rd, 2014

airbag-explosion

Ten automakers have recalled a total of 8 million cars because the airbags in them can explode.

While it’s true that airbags are, by design, supposed to explode out of the car in case of an accident, these airbags explode with so much force that they actually send shrapnel into the air. An airbag with shrapnel is worse than no airbag at all. Right?

All the defective airbags were manufactured by a company called Takata, which doesn’t have enough product on hand to repair all 8 million vehicles. Automakers are taking very different routes to address this issue, with at least one recommending that the affected airbag be turned off completely.

Toyota has recalled almost 900,000 cars, but doesn’t have enough airbags to fix all of them. While it waits for Takata to deliver more, the company said that it plans to disable defective airbags once it runs out of replacements.

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Latest GM Recalls Prove Importance of Quality

October 6th, 2014

2015 GMC Canyon

The first headline on the Detroit News Autos Insider newsletter was, “GM Issues Three New Recalls Saturday.”

The headlines for those recall stories were:

  1. Latest GM Recalls Bring Total to nearly 30M Vehicles
  2. GM Halts Sales on Midsize Trucks Due to Airbag Problem
  3. GM Recalls 117,000 Vehicles for Stalling

None of that sounds particularly good at first glance, does it?

In fact, some people might take those three headlines, along the recent news of GM stopping sales of the new Corvette, as signs that General Motors is having some major quality problems.

Maybe, though, these recalls are signs that everything is OK with General Motors. Or at least, everything will be OK soon.

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Corvette Stop-Sale Raises New Questions

September 22nd, 2014

2015 Chevrolet Corvette

When you build cars, it’s kind of important to attach all the pieces.

Major automakers have figured out how to do this with impressive precision, while smaller companies can be forgiven for overlooking a small part.

But when the world’s largest automaker misses parts on its most important car, you just have to wonder what’s going on internally. Especially right on the heels of the company’s biggest recall ever.

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Cars on Autopilot: Self-Driving or Drive Yourself?

September 18th, 2014

volvo_autopilot

The first autopilot system in an airplane was developed in 1912, just as car technology was in its infancy. In the 102 years since, airplane technology has evolved so aircraft can virtually fly from point A to point B by themselves.

The human pilots are there to monitor progress, handle takeoffs and landings, and be prepared for emergencies.

We all accept the fact that planes fly themselves, but transfer the technology to cars and widespread panic sets in.

The terms “self-driving” and “autonomous” are thrown around by automakers, and perhaps most famously by Google, to describe their efforts to create a car that drives with limited human interaction. Some automakers are embracing the technology, but now at least one has put the focus back where it belongs: on the driver.

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Can New Technology End Distracted and Drowsy Driving?

September 8th, 2014

driving while tired

How far should an automaker go to make sure the drivers of its cars stay safe by limiting the amount of distractions behind the wheel?

The latest news on battling distracted driving falls under the category of either creepy or cool, depending on your take on in-car technology. After my experience this weekend, though, I wouldn’t just call it cool, I’d call it potentially life-saving.

Lexus was one of the first to use technology to sound an alarm when it sensed a driver was not paying attention.

GM plans to step up the technology in a big way.

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Audi S4 Goes for Joy Ride: Would It Bother You?

August 20th, 2014

2013 Audi S4

Remember the joyride scene in the 1963 Ferrari California Spyder from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”?

In the movie, a valet takes the classic Ferrari for an afternoon spin but has the car back in the garage before anyone notices it’s gone. The scene was a lesson in how to properly take a car that isn’t yours for the ride of your life.

Doing so in real life is wildly irresponsible, dangerous and illegal. But it happens, probably more than we know. Leaving your car and keys with a valet, mechanic or anyone else who doesn’t own it is an open invitation to “borrow” the car until you return.

One of the safest places to leave your car is with the dealer from whom you made the purchase, but a Canadian couple have found out even that can be risky.

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Driving a Large Truck? Read This First

August 13th, 2014

2003 Freightliner Fl70 24_ft_box_truck_4_lgw

I began life as a delivery boy.

Well, after actually being delivered at the hospital, I basically went right to work as a delivery boy for my dad’s business.

I didn’t deliver pizzas like most young people; I delivered mattresses, because my dad owned a mattress company.

My point in mentioning this is that I became more familiar with driving a 24-foot box truck than I did with the ’84 Accord I used to get to and from work.

I quickly learned that right turns need to be as wide as possible and low-hanging branches can punch right through the box.

These are things that people who have never driven a large truck might not think about, yet every day moving companies happily hand out keys to people who have never driven anything bigger than a Miata.

This topic came to mind because of a Facebook meme that made me laugh, but makes a very good point.

IMG_5461

That said, here are tips for driving a large truck:

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How to Solve This Smelly Problem?

July 21st, 2014

mouse in car

It started with a smell.

The terribly awful odor of death is unmistakable, and it came from somewhere inside my car.

After throwing a small tantrum, I emptied everything out of our Legacy, hooked up the vacuum and told myself I wouldn’t stop until I found “the problem.” I vacuumed every nook and cranny, under the seats, in the glovebox… and found nothing.

The scent didn’t go away, so I dug deeper and did some research.

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The Problem with a Teen’s First Car

July 17th, 2014

2005 Volvo XC90 V8

I’m lucky I survived into adulthood.

I was like a baby sea turtle as a teenager. On their long journey from the nest to the ocean, seagulls snatch many little turtles up before they ever get a chance to thrive in the water. Baby sea turtles aren’t familiar with their surroundings and don’t know to be afraid. All they see is a flat beach and water on the horizon, and they try to get there as fast as they can.

Same with teenagers. Unleashed on the world with the ability to freely travel wherever they choose, they often forget, or don’t realize, that danger resides around every corner. I was reckless and aggressive as a teen driver, a truth I’m not proud of, but something that’s made me a better driver today.

With experience and technology, I hope we can greatly reduce the number of teen deaths on our roads. The problem is that safety costs a lot of money.

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