Driving can be dangerous sometimes in the best conditions and winter can make it worse, unless your prepared. Take for example, Mazda’s MX-5 roadster, widely praised for its excellent, well balanced handling, add some Bridgestone Blizzak winter tires and the result is a grin-inducing ride even though it’s a rear drive car and the snow is thick on the ground.
At an ice driving course set up in a field blanketed in several feet of snow near Crested Butte in the Colorado Rockies, the MX-5 was one of a number of new Mazda models to demonstrate that winter driving does not have to be a white-knuckle experience.
Although most MX-5 owners are unlikely to subject their cars to such extreme conditions, the point of the exercise was to show that with proper winter tires – Bridgestone Blizzaks in this case – the near impossible becomes feasible.
In the case of the CX-3 and CX-5, Mazda’s compact and mid-size crossovers, negotiating the icy course was even more straightforward, as the two models were equipped with the Japanese automaker’s sophisticated ‘predictive’ all-wheel drive system. (The same system is also fitted to Mazda’s forthcoming CX-9 large crossover). Combined with the remarkable grip provided by the Blizzak rubber, the predictive system gives the Mazda crossovers better performance in icy conditions than several competitors, including the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4.
Do you know what to do every time you step in the drivers seat, and what features are available to help make your driving experience better and easier?
While automakers are spending billions of dollars loading up their vehicles with technologies of all kinds, many owners are not using them and would rather use their smartphones instead, according to the first-ever J.D. Power 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report.
The market research firm found that at least 20 percent of new vehicle owners have never used 16 of the 33 technology features that DrIVE measured. For the consumer, this means they are paying for something they are not using, said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power.
The report looked at driver experiences with in-vehicle technology features during the first 90 days of ownership and was based on responses from more than 4,200 owners and lessees of 2015-model-year vehicles.
Features that owners did not use
43 percent—In-vehicle concierge feature such as OnStar.
38 percent—Mobile connectivity, such as a factory installed Wi-Fi hot spot.
35 percent—Automatic parking system, which aids in either parallel or perpendicular parking with limited interaction by the driver.
33 percent—Head-up display.
32 percent—Built-in apps such as Pandora.
“Tired and impatient, car buyers just want to get out of the dealership, often without becoming fully oriented with all of their new car’s features,” says Tom Mutchler, Consumer Reports’ automotive human factors engineer. “But many high-tech features aren’t immediately obvious or intuitive, especially when trying to decipher their use for the first time when driving.”
Recently there have been multiple issues with connectivity when it comes to hackers and safety, so before it is available to the masses it must be protected as well.
Connected vehicles hold tremendous potential for improving road safety while simultaneously reducing energy consumption and road congestion through data sharing over the next 10–15 years.
Unfortunately, that potential may never be realized unless there is a dramatic change in the way automakers and suppliers handle cyber security. The recently revealed security vulnerability in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) products with Uconnect telematics systems demonstrates some of the flaws in the current landscape.
Wired.com recently ran a report highlighting a flaw in the Uconnect telematics system discovered by noted white hat security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek. The pair worked out how to remotely connect to the vehicle’s cellular modem, a key component of Uconnect and all other telematics systems. From there, they were able to access a port in the vehicle network that provided entry to vehicle control systems, including steering, braking, and other functions. The article noted that Miller and Valasek notified FCA and waited until a fix was developed before publicly disclosing the flaw. So far, so good.
With technology advancing in the automotive industry and with the results skyrocketing new tech features are the most important piece of the puzzle. However, car makers have discovered this fact which may to them continuing to keep information close to home.
Carmakers are limiting the data they share with technology partners Apple and Google through new systems that link smartphones to vehicle infotainment systems, defending access to information about what drivers do in their cars.
Auto companies hope that the vehicle data will one day generate billions of dollars in e-commerce, though they are just beginning to form strategies for monetizing the information. Apple and Google already make money from smartphone owners by providing a variety of products and services, from digital music to targeted advertising, and connecting phones to car systems will almost certainly extend their reach.
But as infotainment systems such as Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto become more widespread, auto companies hope to keep tech providers from gaining access to a wealth of potentially profitable information collected by computer systems in cars.
Some auto companies have specifically said they will not provide Apple and Google with data from the vehicle’s functional systems — steering, brakes and throttle, for instance — as well as information about range, a measure of how far the car can travel before it runs out of gas.
“We need to control access to that data,” said Don Butler, Ford Motor Co.’s executive director of connected vehicle and services. “We need to protect our ability to create value” from new digital services built on vehicle data.
The scheduled release of General Motor’s new hybrid cars will soon make them stand out in hope to compete with other companies in the electric field of automotives.
General Motors has mapped out a comprehensive electrification strategy that includes a reinvented 2016 Volt plug-in hybrid, a 2016 Malibu hybrid, the retail launch of the Spark EV in Canada and other markets, and the Bolt EV.
The Bolt, with a range of 321 kilometers, will be priced at $30,000, subsidies included.
All will be sold in global markets through GM dealerships, covered by factory warranties and backed by service procedures proven over the five years the current Volt has been on sale – with more than 70,000 Volts in the hands of customers.
Despite all this, Tesla remains the darling of the EV set. GM has made a demonstrable commitment to putting affordable electrified cars in the hands of the masses, but Tesla is considered a “buy” by a number of Wall Street analysts.
For instance, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas has a $320 per-share price target on Tesla (trading today at about $266), yet the company continues to lose money. The first-quarter loss at Telsa amounted to $154.2 million (U.S.). Nonetheless, the stock market puts a market cap on Tesla of more than $30 billion.
By contrast, GM today was trading at $35.43, for a market cap of about $57 billion. This begs the question: Does it gall Pam Fletcher, GM’s executive chief engineer for electrification, and her team to see such buzz about Tesla, but not so much for GM? She pauses and says, “We just showed you a video of a real car.”
She also points out that GM purposely puts key electrified vehicles into the Chevrolet brand. GM’s hybrids, plug-in and pure electric cars are not just for the elite, she says, taking a jab at Tesla. The base price of a Model S in Canada is $77,200, or more than twice the expected price of the coming Bolt – or the estimated $33,000 price tag of the Spark EV when it hits retailers in Canada this October.
GM is anxious to get out its electrification message, naming it one of the key elements of the Chevy brand moving forward.
Is your car ticking, squealing, or knocking? Each sound means a different problem with your car. Read the following sounds to find the problem and solution required for each noise your car makes.
You hear a high-pitched squeal that stops when you shut off your engine: Readjust or replace the belt. These belts should have about half an inch of play and shouldn’t be frayed, cracked, or glazed on the underside.
You hear a continuous high-pitched sound that may continue after the engines shut off: Check the radiator pressure cap. The rubber gasket may be worn.
Something ticks rhythmically while your engine idles: Shut off the engine, wait ten minutes for the engine to cool and the oil to settle, and then check the oil level. If you have enough oil, have a mechanic check the valve adjustment.
If you hear a loud tapping or knocking sound in your engine, pull to the side of the road and call for road service. The source may be a loose rocker arm or carbon buildup inside the engine, but if it’s a loose bearing or a faulty piston, it can destroy the engine.
Mild knocking or “pinging” may be the result of using fuel with the wrong octane rating.
You hear the engine running after you turn off the ignition: Your engine is dieseling. This condition only happens to cars with carburetors. It is usually caused by an idle speed that’s set too high or excessive carbon in the combustion chamber.
One of the few states that does right be licensed salvage yards is in danger of being opened up for the sake of more money.
Every year in Ohio, more than 100,000 wrecked, burned or otherwise dead cars become the inventory of insurance companies, which then sell the vehicles for parts through salvage auctions.
In most states, insurance companies can sell the vehicles through online auctions to virtually anyone, anywhere.
In Ohio, only 1,097 valid buyer identification card holders can access the pool. And only salvage dealers licensed in Ohio and 21 other states can apply for the card.
Efforts to scrap the buyer card have circulated the Statehouse for years but failed because of the tug of war between insurance agencies and auctioneers seeking higher sales and salvage dealers afraid of losing business.
State Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, reintroduced the issue this year with Senate Bill 273.
I was visiting Standard Auto Wreckers down here in Toronto, Ontario and the place was buzzing with activity! I saw a film production crew grabbing some coffee near a wrecked Mercedes and tried to squeeze some information out of them, but to no avail. Later on I caught up with them at the junk car crusher and I did recognize one of my favorite (educational) TV hosts, Ziya Tong!
I could not get the whole scoop, but I do know I will be looking out for the Daily Planet over the next few months to see this very cool episode!!
Auto parts city was once considered a menace in the community. But after greening up its act, it’s now earning top environmental awards — including Green Business of the Year from the Green Business League.
It may look like a junkyard, but brothers Jay and Larry Brosten hope to change your mind.
“We’ve spent too many years trying to improve our image and we’ve spent millions of dollars setting this facility up and trying to do the right thing,” said Larry Brosten. “But it’s always had the stigma of the ‘j-word’.”
The three-generation old Auto Parts City in Gurnee just got an $8 million make-over. The family’s goal is to set the green standard in auto recycling.