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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Safety

Hot, Hot, Hot! Ferrari 458 On Fire Again

On: Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 3:53PM | By: Chris Weiss

Hot, Hot, Hot! Ferrari 458 On Fire Again test 1-1

After a two and a half month hiatus and an investigation leading to recall, the worldwide Ferrari 458 fire-fest is back on. A 458 recently caught fire in Sao Paulo, Brazil, casting some question on the efficacy of Ferrari's 458 recall.

In early September, Ferrari concluded an investigation into a rash of 458 fires that had plagued the new model since shortly after it became available. At that time, there were four highly publicized 458 fires in just a few short months, each occurring in a different country. The fires had occurred in Switzerland, California, Paris and China. Maranello concluded that the fires were a result of the adhesive used on the rear wheel arches. At extreme speeds and temperatures, the adhesive would heat up, melt and potentially catch fire.

Lexus Launches Real Life Driving Simulation Technology

On: Mon, Nov 1, 2010 at 4:53PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Lexus Launches Real Life Driving Simulation Technology test 1-1

The next big thing from Lexus is not a car!  Lexus has designed the world’s most advanced driving simulator, located in Higashifuji, Japan where the company’s research campus is housed. The simulator is a dome-shaped structure, 15 feet high and 56 feet in diameter, located on top of a series of complex interlocking full motion tracks that run across a room the size of a football field.

Step inside the dome to discover a genuine Lexus car mounted to a turntable that allows drivers to test drive the actual steering wheel, gear shift, and accelerator. An imaging system with high definition displays provide a 360-degree view of roads around the vehicle. Traffic is visible and audible, as are images of a city surrounding the scene, just like it would be in a real life driving scenario. 

Recall Notice: Fuel Pump Fiasco For BMW

On: Fri, Oct 29, 2010 at 11:34AM | By: John Welch

Recall Notice: Fuel Pump Fiasco For BMW test 1-1

Direct Injection isn't that "new" in terms of physical age, but then neither are dual clutch transmissions, traction control, underbody aerodynamics, or fully electric cars. These things have been in use for decades, but have made it to the civilian market only in the last decade. Direct Injection is especially new and untested, as BMW's latest voluntary recall can attest.

Direct Injection requires some pretty stout ancillaries to properly administer fuel in the combustion chamber. Along with injectors that could take your fingers off, an ultra high-pressure fuel pump is required to get the right amount of fuel in the right spot at the right time. This complicated technology is bound to have a few teething problems, and BMW is one of the first automakers to experience sore gums.

The high-pressure fuel pump installed in cars that feature the N54 twin-turbocharged inline-6 engine is apparently prone to failure. A long, agonizingly grinding engine start could be followed by a "Service Engine Soon" dash marker, and reduced engine performance. BMW plans to access each affected car, and then replace the fuel pump or reflash the ECU, depending on the severity of the issue.

There are low-pressure fuel pump issues with some BMW models as well, though these have nothing to do with Direct Injection. On some 2008 X3 and X5 models, equipped with N52 naturally aspirated inline-6s, may experience engine stalling due to their fuel pumps. Worn fuel pump internals are the culprit; BMW plans to alert owners by mail over the course of the next month. Press releases for both issues can be found inside this post . . .

Nissan Recalls 2.14 Million Vehicles in Japan and the U.S.

On: Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 5:13PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Nissan Recalls 2.14 Million Vehicles in Japan and the U.S. test 1-1

Nissan Motor Co. announced that the Japanese automaker plans to recall 2.14 million cars and light trucks, including the Pathfinder SUV and Titan pickup. This is the 3rd biggest recall for Nissan in the company’s history. The problem is with a faulty ignition relay that could potentially cause problems in the engine.

There are 835,000 units being recalled in Japan and 762,000 in the U.S. and Canada, according to Nissan spokesperson, Mitsuru Yonekawa. The models that were affected include 227,000 Titans, 143,000 Pathfinders, 123,000 Frontier units, 106,000 Armada vehicles, 101,000 Xterra units, and 36, 0000 Infiniti QX56 units. Japanese models included in the recall are the Cube and Micra passenger cars.


Rich Man's Rage: BMW Drivers Are The Angriest In Britain

On: Mon, Oct 18, 2010 at 12:32PM | By: Chris Weiss

Rich Man's Rage: BMW Drivers Are The Angriest In Britain  test 1-1

No offense to all the good, decent folk that drive BMWs, but I've always gotten the idea that BMW drivers as a greater group are some of the douchiest on the road. This may be an unfair stereotype, but it seems to me that all too many 6 Series and X5 drivers are the type of newly-made yuppies that just need to make a point about their freshly garnered socioeconomic status. And the quickest ticket to do that for someone that really doesn't care that much about cars is to buy a BMW. While there are certainly BMW models that convey a sense of taste and automotive connoisseurship, the average BMW has always struck me as the status symbol for those that don't really take cars seriously. Get a kidney grille to show your wealth and forget it.

Long story short, the type of people that consider a car a status symbol are exactly the entitled types I'd expect to see acting like reckless jackbags that own the road and flipping people off just for driving more pedestrian vehicles like Corollas and Malibus.  In fact, to get an idea of just the type of uber-tool I'm thinking of, take a look at the asshat Bimmer driver in the video below.

A recent survey in Britain found that maybe there's more than just unfair stereotyping there. The survey conducted by GoCompare, a Wales-based insurance research company, found that BMW drivers were the most reckless, angriest, dreaded drivers on the left side of the road.

Odd Justice: Philly Suburb Considers Issuing Fines For Not Locking Cars

On: Mon, Oct 18, 2010 at 10:37AM | By: Chris Weiss

Odd Justice: Philly Suburb Considers Issuing Fines For Not Locking Cars  test 1-1

In a rather odd attempt to quell a recent spate of personal property theft, Upper Moreland Township, a Pennsylvania town north of Philadelphia, is currently considering fining people for leaving their car doors unlocked in public parking areas. The reasoning behind the move is understandable: according to city numbers, 75 percent of all theft reported since 2008 has been the result of unlocked car doors. Clearly, leaving a car unlocked in the township is a problem. But is spot-checking and fining owners the solution?

The town's proposal isn't quite as bad as it sounds: a first offense would result in a warning. Under the plan, police officers would be tasked with checking car doors at random to ensure they were locked. Police officers would also lock unlocked doors. After the first offense, officers would issue 'offenders' a citation and $25 fine.

News reports indicate that there isn't a lot of crime in the township, which is part of the reason that people feel safe enough to leave their cars open. So it would seem that the police have plenty of spare time on their hands and are looking for something to keep themselves busy.

Buick Tackles The World's Toughest [Virtual] Roads

On: Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 4:00PM | By: Chris Weiss

Buick Tackles The World's Toughest [Virtual] Roads  test 1-1

There seems to be a lot of attention lately to the world's scariest, most challenging roads—well deserved attention, if I might add; these roads are fascinating. The History Channel recently pulled its grizzled, tried-and-true ice road truckers (plus one pretty cute chick) off the ice to tackle some of these roads in a new series called IRT Deadliest Roads. The truckers navigate some of the most dangerous, unforgiving roads in the Indian Himalayas. It's terrifying but quite compelling television.

Well, Buick has announced that it's getting in on the deadly road craze. It has created a 3D simulator that allows it to recreate some of the world's roughest, most difficult roads for vehicle testing. So when you buy a Buick in the future, you'll know that it can not only stand up to your local dirt road, but can take on some of the world's worst roadways.

Will Your Car Run on Google One Day?

On: Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 9:29AM | By: Chris Weiss

Will Your Car Run on Google One Day?  test 1-1

Over the weekend, Google detailed some of its recent work on self-driven vehicles. The tech company is looking to leverage its expertise in mapping and software toward creating self-driven vehicles that could cut traffic accidents. In fact, Google believes that its technology could cut the 1.2 million lives lost in car accidents annually by as much as half. Far from a new undertaking, Google has already spent much time refining its car.

Google's fleet of prototype cars have already logged 140,000 miles in testing "from [its] Mountain View campus to [its] Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe."

Each car is driven with the help of technological components including mapping software, laser range finders, video cameras, and radar sensors. They're capable of sensing and adjusting to the traffic around them and navigating the roadways.

Of course, since the cars are still experimental, and experiments by definition are bound to fail at some point, Google always has a live person in the driver's seat when conducting on-road testing. That person can take over the second a glitch or problem occurs. Google didn't give any indication as to how often its driver has to grab the wheel back hold from the ghost in the machine, but was content in stating that the precautionary measure is taken every time. Next to this "back-up" driver, Google has a software engineer tracking the vehicle's software. The company also speaks to local police prior to running tests.

LaHood Encourages U.S. Ban on All Mobile Phone Use While Driving

On: Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 11:14AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

LaHood Encourages U.S. Ban on All Mobile Phone Use While Driving test 1-1

Ray LaHood, United States Transportation Secretary, made a recent statement that he believes a ban should be passed on the use of all cell phones while driving, including hands-free calling and texting.  

Lahood has led the campaign against texting while driving that has resulted in 30 states adopting laws that prohibit motorists from making calls and/or texting while operating a motor vehicle. The government transportation secretary also voiced concern regarding programs such as Ford Motor Company’s Sync and GM’s OnStar program as far as causing driver distraction.

“I don't want people talking on phones, having them up to their ear or texting while they're driving,” LaHood said in an interview this week. “We need a lot better research on other distractions, including Bluetooth-enabled hands-free calls and the in-car systems,” he said.

While Lahood’s campaign against mobile phones being used while driving may not necessarily end up in a ban of cell phones in all states, it’s likely that Lahood may influence automakers to reduce the production of technical features such as the Sync.  

According to Olivia Alair, spokeswoman for the NHTSA, “even hands-free phone conversations are a cognitive distraction.”  
Lahood plans to meet with U.S. automakers in order to attempt to gain support for his campaign to limit distracted driving, he announced in a recent interview.

2011 Hyundai Sonata and BMW 5 Series Get 5-Star Crash Ratings Under NHTSA's Stricter Testing

On: Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 4:47PM | By: Chris Weiss

2011 Hyundai Sonata and BMW 5 Series Get 5-Star Crash Ratings Under NHTSA's Stricter Testing test 1-1

Over the summer, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it was implementing stricter crash testing procedures for the 2011 model year. The new system includes a single, multi-star rating for the first time, and initial test results indicate that only two cars will occupy the top, 5-star slot: the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and the 2011 BMW 5 Series.

The 5-star rating reflects the newly implemented "Overall Vehicle Score," which combines frontal crash testing, side crash testing, and rollover resistance testing. The testing procedures are more rigorous under the NHTSA's revised procedures. In addition to the new overall score, NHTSA's rating procedure now incorporates a new side pole crash test, includes weighting based upon crash-prevention technologies like electronic stability control, and uses female crash test dummies for the first time.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said of the new procedures: “With our upgraded Five-Star Safety Ratings System, we’re raising the bar on safety. Through new tests, better crash data, and higher standards, we are making the safety ratings tougher and more meaningful for consumers.”

Initially, the BMW 5 Series stood alone in the 5-star category, but Hyundai asked that the NHTSA retest the Sonata, which was originally given a 4-star rating. Upon the second testing, the NHTSA agreed with Hyundai that the Sonata is 5-star material.

Allstate Brings Lawsuit Against Toyota For Unintended Acceleration

On: Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 9:38AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Allstate Brings Lawsuit Against Toyota For Unintended Acceleration test 1-1

Just as it seems that the Toyota saga is over, another lawsuit is brought against the Japanese automaker, this time by Allstate Insurance Company. The lawsuit involves all of the claims paid out for past accidents that were linked to unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles. A total of $3 million was reportedly paid out by Allstate insurance company.

The lawsuit was filed last Friday in California Supreme Court. Some project that this is just the beginning of “a relatively new front in the wave of U.S. civil litigation piling up against the Japanese automaker for economic losses resulting from complaints about Toyotas that have sped out of control and crashed,” according to Auto News.com.

According to Chirstina Loznicka, Allstate spokeswoman: "We are expected to be one of several insurance companies that are taking this action." Allstate claims that Toyota could have taken action that would have prevented the accidents by installing brake override systems in vehicles.

The law suit that Allstate has filed against Toyota claims that the acceleration defects were caused by a problem with the electronic throttle systems in recalled Toyota vehicles and that Toyota “essentially hid the problem.”  The suit claims, "This has resulted in numerous claims of instances of property damage and injuries, including, in some instances, fatalities.”

The claims paid that Allstate attributes to Toyota vehicles total over $3 million which may be the beginning of additional suits brought by other insurance companies.

Toyota spokesperson Steven Curtis stated: "Based on reports we believe the unfounded allegations in this suit have no basis."  Toyota continues to stick to its claim that no electronic defects were found even after examination of thousands of vehicles involved in the recent recall and so far in the NHTSA investigation. Federal regulators' findings agree but the investigation of 89 deaths resulting from crashes that were linked to unintended acceleration in Toyota cars continues.