The ongoing self-driving car issue…

         Claybrook: “The American public will be the crash-test dummies for self-driving cars if automakers aren’t held to higher standards.”   WASHINGTON — Consumer and safety advocates are pressing Congress to scale back the number of safety exemptions for autonomous vehicles in legislation now under consideration, saying they would result in mass deployment of new technology without adequate safety protections, government oversight or industry accountability. The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the AV START Act, which encourages autonomous vehicle development in part by granting each developer exemptions to annually operate up to 100,000 vehicles, phased in over three years, that don’t meet current federal motor vehicle safety standards. The SELF-DRIVE Act, passed by the House during the summer, also allows a similar number of exemptions. “Unfortunately, this bill takes a hands-off approach to hands-free driving,” Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said on a conference call with reporters. Click here for letter from Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety to Senate committee leaders Automakers and technology companies argue large numbers of exemptions are necessary to validate the artificial intelligence controlling the vehicles and encourage investment. The Senate and House are attempting to set rules of the road for development and deployment of self-driving cars, which have the potential to revolutionize transportation, reduce highway deaths and injuries, improve congestion and air quality, and reorient land use. Public interest groups say the Senate bill has other flaws, such as not requiring manufacturers to clearly spell out to consumers the capabilities and limitations of automated vehicles they purchase, or the government to collect...

How to prep your car for Winter driving

Preparing your car for winter driving conditions is extremely important no matter where you live. Winter is a challenging time of year to be a motorist with treacherous road conditions, cold temperatures, and a higher likelihood of breakdowns or problems with your car. Being prepared for winter driving will make the cold season easier to bear. As important as it is to be prepare your car for winter, it is just as important to adjust your own behavior. Your awareness levels should be heightened, and your defensive driving skills should be honed and ready for anything that might come your way. You will need to take extra caution while turning and passing other vehicles, especially if road conditions are slippery and dangerous, which means paying extra attention to outside temperatures. The first line of defense against hazardous conditions during the winter is probably always going to be the quality and condition of your vehicle, and the ways you go about inspecting your car and adjusting things accordingly are most likely going to be determined by where you live. Follow the simple steps below to know how to prepare your vehicle for safe driving during the winter. Part 1 of 6: Stocking an emergency kit in your car You should never drive in extreme and dangerous conditions, like blizzards, storms, or extreme subzero temperatures, or any condition that might leave you stranded in a low traffic area. If you live in a rural area and/or in an area with extreme weather conditions and you absolutely must drive, however, before the winter temperatures arrive, assemble an emergency kit to keep in your car. This kit...

J.D. Power’s Most Dependable Small Cars

Annually, J.D. Power conducts the U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). The study measures problems with design and defects with 3-year-old vehicles, as reported by original owners of the vehicles. Participants in the study detail what has gone right and what has gone wrong with their cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans, and J.D. Power analyzes the data and publishes its conclusions in the VDS. To express study findings in a simple, consumer-friendly way, J.D. Power generates Power Circle Ratings. These ratings are an easily understood visual representation of a model’s performance relative to its competitors and are designed to help consumers make smart decisions about the vehicles they buy.   This buyer’s guide highlights the top-rated 2014 small cars that receive a Power Circle Rating of 5 out of a possible 5 for vehicle dependability after 3 years of ownership. 2014 Buick Verano With the 2014 Verano, Buick aimed to provide entry-level luxury at a relatively affordable price. In 2014, the standard infotainment system added text-messaging support as well as Siri Eyes Free compatibility, while the optional Convenience Group expanded to provide key safety technologies, including forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, and more. The 2014 Buick Verano receives a Vehicle Dependability Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5. 2014 Chevrolet Sonic Available in sedan and hatchback body styles, the 2014 Chevy Sonic is a safe, technologically advanced and dependable small used car. In 2014, Chevrolet introduced forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems to the car, made a reversing camera standard for LTZ and RS trim levels, expanded the RS trim to the sedan body style, and added an upscale Dusk option package for the...

Supercar makers poised for big growth in Europe

  The Ferrari 488 is Europe’s best-selling model in the exotic segment.     Automakers such as Ferrari, Aston Martin and Bentley are poised to continue profiting from rising European demand for their high-priced supercars and limousines. This year in Europe — the world’s largest market for a sector Automotive News Europe classifies as exotic — overall sales are on track to reach 12,980, up from 10,677 in 2016, according to analyst LMC Automotive. European sales of cars such as the Ferrari 488, the best-seller in the exotic segment, and the second-ranked Aston DB11, will rise to 14,800 in 2020 — a 38 percent increase on last year — LMC predicts. The sales surge is being fueled by the worldwide growth in the number of ultra-high net-worth buyers. “The total number of billionaires has doubled since 2010,” said Felipe Munoz, global analyst for JATO Dynamics. The rich are currently being fed by a steady flow of new models, more so than is usual in a segment where the high cost of developing replacement versions traditionally has meant life cycles are longer than in the rest of industry. Strong demand for the new DB11 has given Aston Martin a sales and profit boost.   Product push Aston Martin has seen European sales rise 103 percent in the first four months because of the arrival of the new DB11 coupe last year. The DB11’s debut also helped end Aston Martin’s chronic financial losses as the company closed the first quarter with its first profit since former Nissan executive Andy Palmer took over as CEO in 2014. In addition, the British brand will launch...

Self-Driving Cars Could Create Tons of Jobs, Silicon Valley Venture Capital Whiz Says

When autonomous vehicles finally arrive in significant numbers, they have the potential to wipe out massive swaths of existing jobs. Goldman Sachs, for example, estimates that self-driving cars and trucks could take out 300,000 jobs a year in America alone, in fields ranging from long-haul trucking to urban taxi driving. But Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessenthinks in the long run, self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles have the potential to add far more jobs to the U.S. economy than they destroy Andreessen made his thoughts known on Tuesday during a discussion atRecode‘s Code Conference in California. The idea that autonomous vehicles, like any form of automation, will take more jobs than they ultimately create is “a fallacy,” according to Recode‘s account of their event. “It’s a recurring panic. This happens every 25 or 50 years, people get all amped up about ‘machines are going to take all the jobs’ and it never happens.”   If anything, “the jobs crisis we have in the U.S. is that we don’t have enough workers,” he said, according to Axios.  For proof, Andreessen says, you just need to look to the past—and to the arrival of the automobile itself. When cars hit the scene around the turn of the 20th Century, people were worried about them wiping out all the jobs associated with the care and upkeep of horses, such as blacksmiths. In reality, however, the automotive industry not only wound up creating tons of new jobs on its own, but also helped create all sorts of related industries that didn’t exist before—everything from road-paving to office complexes. Self-driving cars, he says,...

Everything you need to know about the Takata Airbag Recall

Vehicles made by 19 different automakers have been recalled to replace frontal airbags on the driver’s side or passenger’s side, or both in what NHTSA has called “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.” The airbags, made by major parts supplier Takata, were mostly installed in cars from model year 2002 through 2015. Some of those airbags could deploy explosively, injuring or even killing car occupants. (Look for details below on waits for replacement airbags.) At the heart of the problem is the airbag’s inflator, a metal cartridge loaded with propellant wafers, which in some cases has ignited with explosive force. If the inflator housing ruptures in a crash, metal shards from the airbag can be sprayed throughout the passenger cabin—a potentially disastrous outcome from a supposedly life-saving device. NHTSA has determined the root cause of the problem: airbags that use ammonium nitrate-based propellent without a chemical drying agent. As postulated early on, environmental moisture, high temperatures, and age as associated with the defect that can improperly inflate the airbags and even send shrapnel into the occupant. To date, there have been 11 deaths and approximately 180 injuries due to this problem in the U.S. Through various announcements, the recall has tripled in size over the past year. It is expected that the inflator recall will impact more than 42 million vehicles in the U.S., with the total number of airbags being between 65 and 70 million. Visit www.safercar.gov to check the recall status of your vehicles.   Visit our guide to car safety.     Recent timeline March 2, 2017: Ford recalls 32,000 2016-17 Ford Edge, 2016-17...

What is your tire wear telling you?

Common Tire Wear Patterns By closely examining the tires, you may be able to determine if the tire is wearing properly or if replacement should be considered. Here are five common tire wear patterns you need to be aware of: 1. Excessive Inner or Outer Wear. Excessive wear on the inner or outer edge of the tire, known as “toe wear” or, in more extreme cases, as “camber wear,” suggests something may be wrong with the wheel alignment, according to Bridgestone. To fix the problem, you’ll likely need to make an appointment with a mechanic. 2. Center Wear. If the center of the tire is quicker to wear than the edges, then the tire is likely over-inflated. Find the proper tire pressure for your vehicle by looking at the sticker typically found in the doorjamb on the driver side or in the owner’s manual, according to Edmunds.com. Adjust the tire pressure accordingly for a smooth, safe ride. 3. Outer Edge Wear. If the outer edges of the tire wears faster than the center, the tire is likely under-inflated, says Popular Mechanics. Follow the tire pressure recommendation on the side of the tire, and add air to the tire as needed. 4. Cupping Wear. A diagonal scalloping on the tire, known as “cupping wear,” suggests the suspension may be worn, bent or somehow compromised, says Pep Boys. This is a serious concern, and you’ll probably need to make an appointment with a mechanic immediately. 5. Patchy Wear. Patchy wear implies the tire is out of balance. Have a mechanic spin and rotate your tires, as this will help equalize the wear....

Used Cars with Salvage Titles–What you need to know

As you shop for a used car, you might come across the phrase “salvage title” in a used car advertisement. The price is going to seem right and you’re really going to want to buy it. Just make sure you act with your brain and not your heart. There are a lot of things to consider before you can understand used car salvage titles. Used car salvage titles are not automatically a bad idea. Make sure you know what you’re getting into before purchasing a used car with a salvage title. 4 THINGS TO DO Here are four things you absolutely have to do before even considering buying a vehicle with a salvage title: Understand What a Salvage Title Is Get a CarFax report Get a Qualified Inspection Weigh the savings vs. future costs UNDERSTAND WHAT A SALVAGE TITLE IS In almost all cases, salvage title is given to any vehicle that has sustained damage worth 75% or more of its value. For example, a 2009 Honda Civic worth $9415 that suffers $7061 in damage in a collision, is going to be branded with a title stamped “salvage.” Some states also call this a junk title. According to carfax.com, the following 11 states also use salvage titles to identify stolen vehicles: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, and Oregon. Requirements are going to vary by state. In Florida, a car has to be damaged to 80% of its value before the accident. Vehicles in Minnesota are considered salvaged when they are declared “repairable total loss” by an insurance company, were worth at least $5,000...

Springtime Auto Tips

Spring is one of the prime times for auto maintenance. That first wash-n-wax on a warm Saturday afternoon is liberating. Winter’s gloom (to say nothing of grit and road salt) is literally washed away. Take out the snow shovel, the gloves, and heavy boots and store them ’til next season. Surely summer can’t be far away. Some preparation now will help ensure that your summer driving plans go as smoothly as you envision then now. ASE offer the following tips on getting your vehicle ready for summer. Read the owner’s manual and follow the recommended service schedules. Have hard starts, rough idling, stalling, etc. corrected before hot weather sets in. Flush and refill the cooling system (radiator) according to the service manual’s recommendations. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, look for repair facilities that employ ASE-certified automotive technicians. The tightness and condition of belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a qualified auto technician. Have a marginally operating air conditioner system serviced by a qualified technician to reduce the likelihood of more costly repairs. Change the oil and oil filter as specified in owner’s manual. (Properly dispose of used oil.) Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended. Check the condition of tires, including the spare. Always check tire pressure when the tires are cold. Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs. Replace worn wiper blades and keep plenty of washer solvent on hand to combat summer’s dust and...

Camless engine from Koenigsegg–the Future?

A subsidiary of Swedish supercar marque Koenigsegg has been working on a new type of valve system for engines that does away completely with the camshaft, hence the descriptor “camless” is often used. That subsidiary is FreeValve (previously Cargine), which has published a video that shows the inner workings of its revolutionary engine. The engine relies on pneumatic valve actuators to open valves, which are then closed by air pressure or springs. Each of the valves can be controlled individually, which enables infinitely variable valve lift and duration as well as easy cylinder deactivation. A pneumatic valvetrain also draws less energy from the engine than conventional cams. https://vimeo.com/145498720 This is all said to result in both significant gains in output (up to a 30 percent increase in horsepower and torque) and a jump in fuel economy (also up to 30 percent). Overall emissions are said to be reduced significantly as well. So what’s the hold up? Reliability, refinement and noise levels aren’t up to scratch and remain the biggest hurdles in the technology’s advancement. And while such technologies won’t ultimately save the internal combustion engine from being replaced by electric motors in more and more cars, they should at least help prolong...