Category: Safety

By on May 16, 2017

under-ride crash test

In National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Clark W. Griswold road rages his Ford Taurus station wagon under a logging truck to comedic effect. However, without the benefit of movie magic, the following sequence of that film should have been a joint funeral for the entire family. Crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety prove that underride accidents are as devastating as they look, and the IIHS is demanding the implementation of every safety solution available.

While tractor-trailers are legally obligated to affix underride guards to the rear of their vehicles, the same can’t be said for their flanks. Unsurprisingly, there are more passenger fatalities stemming from incidents where a vehicle strikes the side of tractor-trailer than those where it impacts the rear. Since rear underride guards have proven successful in the lab and on the highways, isn’t it time we utilized similar countermeasures for a truck’s haunches?  Read More >

By on May 15, 2017

Audi Q7 2016

Volkswagen Group is adding another 292,000 Porsche and Audi vehicles to an earlier recall relating to a fuel-pump defect that could result in fires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued an alert concerning specific models of the Porsche Macan, Audi Q5 and Audi Q7 sport-utility vehicles.

The problem stems from a flaw in the fuel-pump flange, manufactured by Continental AG, that could create a leak and potential fire hazard.  Read More >

By on May 15, 2017

bmw grille

Last week’s ABC News investigation into unrecalled BMW models bursting into flames after being parked raised a number of questions, but didn’t provide viewers with many answers.

While the automaker, like others, has seen its fair share of fire-related safety recalls in recent years, the models involved in the apparent rash of spontaneous fires appear quite diverse — both in model type and age. Any fire can have a number of causes, leading many to see the report as sensationalism, especially after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it couldn’t find a recall-worthy issue behind the blazes.

After taking time to examine ABC‘s findings, BMW decided to speak out. Read More >

By on May 11, 2017

[Image: Wikimedia Commons]

While BMW definitely isn’t alone in this regard, the company’s safety recalls often contain an ear-piquing phrase: “Risk of fire.”

The German luxury automaker has had no shortage of fire-related recalls in past years, but a ABC News investigation points to dozens of recent fires that destroyed vehicles not under recall. The models involved reportedly span the gamut of the brand’s product lineup, but the fires share a common trait. Each blaze broke out after the vehicle had been shut off — in one case, after the vehicle had sat dormant for three or four days. Read More >

By on May 10, 2017

cellphone nissan

Last week, Nissan’s European division proudly announced that it had developed a new feature for use in the Juke that effectively eliminates all cellular signals. In the release, the company praised its UK team for coming up with a 21st century application that uses Victorian-era technology, saying “the beauty of the design is its simplicity.”

Obviously, Nissan is making a play to convince news outlets to cover the prototype and highlight the company’s clever engineering and commitment to safety. While we will happily take the bait and comment on the device, we would be negligent in our duties to consider the item as anything other than an complete waste of resources. The Signal Shield is as useful to motorists as a pair of gloves would be to a person without arms.  Read More >

By on May 7, 2017

vehicle-inspection

The Lone Star State may be doing away with annual state vehicle inspections soon. On Thursday, a 27-4 vote in the Texas Senate approved a bill that would eliminate mandatory inspections for passenger vehicles. Although Senate Bill 1588 doesn’t change anything for commercial trucks, they’ll still be required to undergo a yearly safety inspection, and automobiles residing in seventeen counties will also have to pass emission tests for local air-quality laws.

For the rest of the state, it would be open season. “This is a tax cut that Texans will feel,” claimed Senator Don Huffines, a Dallas-based Republican who approved the bill. “It will save Texans $130 million they’re now having to pay for a procedure that has proven to have no discernible safety benefit to drivers.”  Read More >

By on May 5, 2017

ford explorer police interceptor utility

Normally, a safety recall concerns an intrinsic defect found in a vehicle and, barring some regional temperature-related issues, usually covers units sold throughout the country. While Ford Motor Company is no stranger to recalls, its most recent callback concerns late-model Explorers with a very specific problem in a very specific region.

Blame the mud. Read More >

By on May 3, 2017

2002-Chevrolet-TrailBlazer-SUV_Image-08-800

Following a raft of complaints, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has once again turned its attention to the headlights of pre-bankruptcy era General Motors vehicles. Apparently, the first two recalls for the exact same problem might not have culled all of the automaker’s wonky low beams.

The 312,000 vehicles involved in the NHTSA investigation span a fateful period for the automaker. While GM’s future at the time wasn’t bright, neither were its low beams. Owners have complained the lights can shut off unexpectedly, sending one driver on a date with a creek. Read More >

By on May 2, 2017

718 boxster S

A segment of the automotive enthusiast community holds a real prejudice against convertibles. While the majority of the ire stems from an irrational bitterness or assumption that any car that sacrifices any amount body stiffness for style is inherently wrong, there is one valid complaint: most convertibles are less safe in a crash than a hardtop.

With that in mind, Porsche has patented an airbag concealed within the A-pillar specifically designed to protect soft-top occupants in the event that the windshield frame bends toward their fragile skulls during an accident — a handy feature for a vehicle lacking roof support. However, there is no reason the system couldn’t also be implemented in vehicles with a rigid ceiling.  Read More >

By on May 1, 2017

[Image: fourbyfourblazer/Flickr]

Twitter users are well aware of the hilarious and perplexing misadventures — usually fueled by alcohol or meth — of “Florida Man” and “Florida Woman,” but in Pinellas County, the person behind the wheel of your recently stolen vehicle is much more likely to be a Florida boy or girl.

There’s an epidemic afoot in the Gulf Coast county. Local law enforcement is scrambling to combat a growing tide of repeat juvenile car thieves as the danger on the county’s roads grows. Meanwhile, it seems local residents haven’t exactly made the thefts a difficult task. Read More >

By on April 26, 2017

tesla model x

Consumer Reports has been pretty hard on Tesla Motors over the past year. The primary point of contention in 2016 was the automaker’s perceived misrepresentation of the company’s Autopilot feature. CR wanted the automaker to disable hands-free operation until its system could be made safer and insisted that it make clear to consumers that it was not capable of true self-driving capability.

While Tesla addressed some of those concerns with its 8.0 software update last autumn, the consumer advocacy publication said it didn’t go nearly far enough — demanding that Tesla stop calling it Autopilot, disable automatic steering, and quit beta testing on its own customers.

Continuing those safety concerns into 2017, Consumer Reports has downgraded both of Tesla’s existing models, claiming the company failed to enable automatic emergency braking features it said would come as standard equipment. This is perplexing, as Model S and Model X vehicles equipped with first-generation Autopilot systems actually had this function.  Read More >

By on April 25, 2017

Hyundai Blue Link Gen. 2 - Sonata

The cyber security firm Rapid7 recently recently informed the Hyundai Motor Company that its Blue Link smartphone application might be exposing its customers to an unsavory element — serving up another reminder that convenience frequently comes at a cost.

Software vulnerabilities in the app allowed Blue Link-equipped vehicles to be unlocked and even started remotely, making them susceptible to theft from high-tech criminals for a period of three months until the company finally fixed the bug in March. Hyundai says that is is unaware of any mishaps stemming from the issue. Read More >

By on April 24, 2017

)Image: Tesla]

The fiery aftermath of a crash on a Chinese highway has Tesla on the defensive, rebuffing claims the rear “Falcon Wing” doors of the Model X pose a danger to passengers trying to escape.

Unlike past high-profile crashes, this story doesn’t concern the potential risks of the vehicle’s Autopilot system, as it seems the cause of the accident can be entirely attributed to driver error. The chauffeur-driven Model X reportedly hit cement barriers in Guangzhou, China, while travelling at 47 miles per hour, spinning the vehicle around and sparking a head-on impact from a Ford Focus.

The vehicle’s underfloor battery pack, damaged and exposed to oxygen, erupted in flames. However, it’s what happened next that prompted a $1 million lawsuit against Tesla. Read More >

By on April 23, 2017

BMW track day

For the most part, crash avoidance and driver assistance technology is a welcome addition addition to the automotive landscape. While they can be a little invasive sometimes, they’re usually doing what they’re supposed to and helping to save the lives of drivers who may have had a momentary lapse in judgment or focus. However, there is a lot of worry over how lane assistance or emergency braking software will behave when you bring a streetcar to the track.

Several chapters of the BMW Car Club of America and the Porsche Club of America have already decided to forbid any vehicle equipped with aids. The fear is that track day organizers or instructors could be found liable if a car suddenly jerks right when it approaches the apex of a corner or suddenly decelerate when in close proximity to other vehicles. A driver might be caught off-guard if a car unexpectedly takes over and be unsure how to mitigate inputs they were unprepared for.

The bottom line is that newer cars are finding themselves in danger of being banned wholesale, and that’s just not going to work if track days are to continue in the years to come.

Read More >

By on April 19, 2017

road rage (zlady/Flickr)

Warm spring weather seems to have motorists in northern New Jersey acting on their not-so-best behavior. So much so, that a local American Automobile Association branch has issued a plea urging motorists to avoid road rage and “resulting driver confrontations.”

The Situation needs to simmer down. Read More >

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