The Truth About Cars » accident http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:27:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » accident http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Piston Slap: The Fuel Harbinger of Fusion Steering Fail? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/piston-slap-the-fuel-harbringer-of-fusion-steering-fail/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/piston-slap-the-fuel-harbringer-of-fusion-steering-fail/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 12:35:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805074

TTAC commentator Bobby Flashpants writes:

Howdy Sajeev,

I have an unique issue with my 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. I’ve posted about it at fordfusionforum.com, and no one so far has heard of anyone with the same issue. Here’s the link for the post, and the text is reproduced (and edited to remove site-specific context) below:

I’ve got a 2010 Fusion Hybrid that’s about 40 miles from hitting 100K. I purchased it used 2 years ago with 69K miles on it. (note – this is as of 2/5/14) Over the last 6 months, I’ve had the issues with the “Service Power Steering NOW” and “Service Advancetrac” warning lights, and the associated deactivation of the electric power steering system. I’ve seen this issue reported before, and I know I’m not the only one who has encountered it.

I’ve had this failure occur 3 times now, and have had the system reset each time – once at a Ford dealer, once at an independent repair shop, and once at a tire center (who claimed that they couldn’t figure out how to do it, but the system was functioning normally again when I started it up to leave). Both the dealer and the Indy shop recommended replacing the steering rack as the only permanent solution, each estimating ~$1500 for the job (which lines up with what others have reported when confronted with this issue).

Here’s the thing, though – after seeing this occur so many times, I’ve noticed that the failures only occur when the fuel level is below 1/4 tank. As long as I fill up when I’m between 1/2 and 1/4 quarter tank, the steering and stability control continues to function normally. I’ve not seen anyone else report this type of correlation?

In the interest of full disclosure, the Carfax showed that my Fusion had been in a fender bender under the original owner, and we had an incident of hitting a curb and a mailbox that required a new wheel hub/bearing, rim, tire, and windshield.

I’m in a pretty small town in GA, with only one Ford dealer. The Indy shop I normally use is usually pretty good (if not particularly cheap compared to dealer rates), so before I make the trek to Atlanta or Columbus for 4th opinions, I wonder if you or any of the B&B have any insight on a cheaper solution for a system that doesn’t appear to really be broken.

Thanks! I’m a long-time TTAC lurker after following Murilee over from Jalopnik, and have soaked up the power of your Panther Love for a couple years now. My best to you and the crew!

Sajeev answers:

Well I’m glad you’ve listened to me, so you know you must sell this formerly wrecked Fusion and for a 2011 fleet-special Crown Vic. Is there any other alternative?

If you must live in the real world, a place I normally dislike, I suggest that opinion from a Ford dealer in a bigger town. Odds are your front suspension’s damage created the steering rack’s problem.  If the damage required a new front hub, wheel and (something as shockingly far away as the) windshield, odds are the steering rack is waaaay out of spec.

Is it possible that a fuel vapor canister’s processor or low fuel warning relay is controlled by the same module that talks to the power steering system? Calling that a stretch is a rather large understatement, even considering the body damage. The steering’s physical damage is more logical.

Let’s hope people with training on modern Fords can leverage their skills, training materials and connections to Dearborn to solve this one. My money’s on a new steering rack fixing the problem. No way did it emerge unscathed when the wheel busted and the windshield cracked.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Pride Before the Fall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/pride-before-the-fall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/pride-before-the-fall/#comments Tue, 19 Nov 2013 20:38:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=656274 GSXR1100

The ’91 GSXR 1100 was a feral beast. It had been tame once, well “mostly tame” anyhow, but the bike’s previous owner had stripped away the thin veneer that civilization had imposed upon it and restored it to its primeval form. It hadn’t taken much, really. Larger carburetors, performance cams and a full race exhaust had transformed the bike from a wickedly fast street machine into a full-race bike that, despite the license plates, had no business being on the street. Still, it had a sort of lethal charm that attracted men like me: confident, experienced, prideful. It was a battle of wills I would not lose. I was determined to master the bike and, like a living thing, the bike was determined to kill me.

They say that most people who die in accidental shootings are killed by “unloaded guns.” I would imagine that most people who die on motorcycles are riding relatively “safe” bikes. You know the kind, usually big and slow. The ones that inspire confidence in their riders. The GSXR was the opposite of a “safe” bike. It was big, powerful and with a short wheelbase was exceedingly ill-mannered at slow speeds. On the move it was roughly sprung and, despite the steering damper affixed to the bars, prone to a bit of headshake when you laid on the power.

Still, on the smooth pavement of the Japanese expressway, the bike was a marvel of precision engineering. The slightest input translated into immediate action. A simple turn of the wrist became instant acceleration. A modest pull of the brake lever would slow even the most determined head-long rush with surprising aplomb. The GSXR was a true thoroughbred and, when it was doing what it was built to do, the division between man and machine was nonexistent. Like living thoroughbreds, however, it could be sensitive and fickle, too.

The problem began with the slightest of judders when I rolled on the throttle. The bike still surged forward upon command, but the edge wasn’t there and I noticed the change immediately. The problem was more pronounced the next time out. As I hit the gas, the bike stumbled as it came up to speed. Over time, these little vibrations became a full-on epileptic fit as the bike surged and shook whenever I added more than just a smidgen of gas. I knew I would have to address the situation and ran, one at a time, through the possible problems.

041000246unpackaged

Sportbikes are a pain in the ass to work on. Like an old muscle car, the premise of a sportbike is simple – take the biggest, most powerful engine you have and stuff it into the lightest, smallest package you can. Needless to say, clearance is limited and getting to the various bits and pieces I needed to work with proved to be a problem. I started by replacing the spark plugs but there was no effect. next, I made certain the fuel petcock was working and that no lines were pinched before finally deciding to access the air filter.

I hated the idea of opening the air filter. Located behind the carbs, under the gas tank and in the area that normally rested directly between my thighs, it was easy to see but next to impossible to get open. To make matters worse, the airbox, like so many other things on my bike was modified as well. To get into it, I had to pull the gas tank and seat and then disconnect several electrical connections before pulling the battery and then the battery box. After that I had to use a stubby screw driver to unfasten several screws and then another to loosen the large clamp that held on a single, large filter element. It took time, effort and a lot of scraped knuckles but I managed to do it without losing my sanity.

Once it was out, the filter didn’t appear to be especially dirty and so I figured that I had gone down yet another false path. Regardless, I washed it out in a bucket of fresh gasoline and started the tedious process of putting the bike back together. It took time, but when it as done the bike fired right up and idled fine. Grabbing my helmet, I wheeled the bike out of its parking spot and and headed for an access road that ran along beneath the expressway close to the Port of Yokohama.

yokohama

At the first stoplight I checked for the cops and grabbed a handful of throttle. The old bike surged strongly as it shot its way towards the redline. I grabbed second gear and held the throttle wide open. Able to breathe correctly for the first time in a long while, the old bike ate up the road without missing a beat. Shifting into third I got off the gas and let the bike slow before working it through a series of roll-on accelerations to make sure the problem was fully resolved. It was and I felt good.

A couple of miles out I turned around and headed home. I stayed off the gas a let the bike chug along in the higher gears. It was a relief that my notoriously finicky bike was working so well and I decided at the last moment to head through the port facility to a small park at the base of the harbor light house. The Port of Yokohama is a sprawling place and the central road is easily six lanes wide. Normally filled with idling trucks waiting to pick-up or drop-off loads at the port it is, for the most part, a featureless, pancake-flat stretch of pavement split by frequent railroad tracks. At its far end, the road meets a high cement sea-wall and curves around the barrier in a set of sweeping S-curves. Given the width of the road and the lack of traffic I hit them hard and slipped through them without a hitch.

At the lighthouse, I turned around and headed once again towards. It was a nice day and I wasn’t eager to be back inside so I went slowly, trudging along in the higher gears, the engine stumbling along just above idle. As the S-curves approached I dropped down a gear but the bike’s engine abruptly died. Unphased, I pulled int he clutch, downshifted again and dumped the clutch to bump-start the bike. The engine sprang back to life and I rolled smoothly through the first corner, righted the bike and then leaned into the next. It was there, mid-apex, that the engine died again.

Things happened fast. The back wheel locked and the tire began to slide. To prevent a “low-side,” a type of accident where the back tire of a bike slips out from underneath you and leaves you sliding on your ass, I grabbed the clutch and got the back wheel rolling again. But skidding loads a bike’s suspension and, as the back wheel regained traction, the rear spring was free to unleash its pent-up energy. As the spring sprung, the bike bucked, turning into an angry bronco as it attempted – and then succeeded – in throwing me off.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Free of its rider, the bike continued to follow its momentum over onto its far side while I was thrown, still in seated position with my legs beneath me, high into the air almost like a fighter pilot being ejected from his stricken aircraft. The odd thing was that, despite the amazing height I achieved, my forward momentum was not really that great and I had let go of the bars quickly enough that I hadn’t been thrown head over heels. I straightened my body and landed hard on my feet, breaking into a run as soon as I touched down. In a mere moment I was safe on the sidewalk looking back at my stricken bike as it attempted to disgorge the contents of its fuel tank into the street.

Adrenaline pumping, I ran back to the big bike and levered it back onto its wheels. One of the handle bars was twisted and a side mirror broken off, but otherwise the bike looked to be in decent shape. After pushing it to the side of the road, I pulled off my helmet, bent the bar back to where I could use it and tried to refire the bike. The starter growled for a fraction of a second and then clicked off, the battery was obviously dead. How odd. I pulled off the seat and looked to see if there was anything I could do. The problem was immediately obvious, in my rush to complete the project I had failed to reconnect one vital part of the bike’s charging system and had made the entire run on battery power alone. I cursed my own stupidity.

I snapped the wires back together and tried bump starting the bike. It took several runs up and down the flat street and by the time the old bike eventually fired I was nearly sick to my stomach with exhaustion. I waited to recover while the bike idled unevenly and, when the worst had passed, I clicked it into gear and limped home. It was a walk of shame.

In 20 years of hard, fast riding I had never had an accident on the street. Sure, once or twice I had put my foot down wrong at a stoplight and fallen over, but I had never been thrown or had any kind of real accident. I had been extremely fortunate. There was no real damage to the old bike and the only injury I suffered was to my own pride. You know pride, right? It’s that thing that comes before the fall. It’s the one injury that, I think, can never fully heal.

GSXR

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast, he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Threat Level 11: How Do We Mitigate The Danger? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/threat-level-11-how-do-we-mitigate-the-danger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/threat-level-11-how-do-we-mitigate-the-danger/#comments Fri, 25 Oct 2013 14:25:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=634537 Image Courtesy of: Crushable.com

Image Courtesy of: Crushable.com

My dad freaked out. We weren’t going that fast when the old dump truck struggled out onto the road some distance ahead of us and it was a simple matter to just let off the gas and coast for a bit while the old truck worked its way up through the gears to the posted 35mph limit. The road in front of the construction site was a mess of mud and gravel and although I am sure my father didn’t appreciate the muddy spray on the otherwise clean flanks of his Delta 88, he seemed rather unbothered about the whole event – at least until we finally closed the distance and drew up behind the big truck. It was then he read the scene in front of him and jumped hard on the brakes. As the old truck rumbled away he turned to me and asked “Did you see that?”

At fourteen years of age, I was already getting some wheel time. It had started a year or so earlier when, on the way home from church, I had asked to drive. There was a pull-out about a mile from our house and my father had stopped there and allowed me to take the wheel. I had required a lot of help at first, but week after week we stopped at the same point, then at another a little further away, then at another place even further from home and eventually I was allowed to drive the entire 9 miles with minimal assistance. Naturally, I didn’t get to drive everywhere, and so I wasn’t behind the wheel that fateful day, but even so it became a learning opportunity.

Photo Courtesy of: Waymarking.com

I had seen the truck lumber out onto the road, it was an old dump truck from the 1950s that looked to be in poor shape and saw the muddy tracks and gravel it dragged out onto the roadway, but other than the mud, which my father had been bothered little by, I did not see any other danger. My dad, however, had. As we had pulled up behind the old truck he had made note of any loose dirt and gravel that might fall from the truck onto the road, but pebbles and sticks falling off old trucks was par for the course in our neck of the woods. It was the other thing he saw that was the real cause of his alarm – a large rock wedged into the space between the old truck’s dual tires.

David, they say, slew the mighty Goliath with just a few small rocks flung from a simple leather sling. The threat we faced that day relies upon the same principle, only replace “small rocks” with “15 pound stone cannonball” and “leather sling” with “high speed centrifuge.” At just thirty five miles an hour, the forces on that stone must have been tremendous. There was no way it would just plop out onto the road, it was going to come out with real velocity and Lord help anyone unlucky enough to be in its way. At the end of the road, the old truck pulled into a gravel pit and my father followed it in and apprised the driver of the situation. I watched as the driver knocked it loose with a hammer and we went on our way.

Photo courtesy of: kingofobsolete.ca

Photo courtesy of: kingofobsolete.ca

For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about safety this week. The road is a busy place and the situation changes from minute to minute. Even a bare and dry road has flaws, dips and bumps, pavement patches and tar snakes, ruts, ridges and rills. Add to this, any number of other obstacles: flying litter, the squashed bodies of dead animals, broken bits of cars, construction debris and even tools – virtually anything that a person who works out of their truck may have forgotten to secure, and the threat factor gets turned up to 11.

In my last article, I talked a little about the changes I need to make in order to become a better driver and I was happy to see that some of you took that as a challenge to be honest with yourselves about your own self improvement as well. This time, I want to talk about the tricks of the trade – the “life hacks” as the kids call them these days – that we rely upon every time we slide behind the wheel. I know you have them. So, show us what you are made of TTAC, share your tricks and help us all be safer out there.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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A Deer In The Headlights: Update http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/a-deer-in-the-headlights-update/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/a-deer-in-the-headlights-update/#comments Tue, 16 Jul 2013 12:19:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495415 Driver quarter

Last week I wrote an article called A Deer In The Headlights about my parents hitting a deer a few days prior. In the story, I talked about the impact and reported that the RAV4 they were driving caught fire as they were being pulled out. Fortunately the good men and women of the Monroe, WA Fire Department arrived on the scene and, in short order, got things under control before the entire car melted down.

I sent a link to that article to my stepfather, Guy, and he responded yesterday with the attached photos. I thought I would go ahead and post them up so any of you who were interested in seeing the results for yourselves could take a look. It looks like a bad accident, but both my mother and Guy were uninjured. They were released without a trip to the hospital after being checked over by paramedics at the scene of the accident.

Thanks to all of you who expressed your concerns and best wishes, my entire family appreciates your kind thoughts. The good news, if there can be anything of the sort in an event like this, is that this is the first buck anyone in my family has managed to get since my father took one out armed with nothing but stealth and a ball peen hammer back in ’75.

Right quarter Rav interior Rav engine Driver quarter ]]>
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Different Reactions To Getting Rear-Ended http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/different-reactions-to-getting-rear-ended/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/different-reactions-to-getting-rear-ended/#comments Wed, 10 Jul 2013 18:08:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494776 shocked_woman-700490

Yesterday I was out for a walk when I saw an accident happen. It wasn’t a bad one, the driver of a small delivery truck came off the clutch and his rig hopped forward and smacked the back of the small SUV stopped at the light ahead of him. The light changed and the two trucks involved pulled across the intersection and the drivers got out. The driver of the SUV was a well to do looking woman in a business suit and when saw the damage to the back of her car, smashed rear bumper and piece missing from the plastic bumper cover – there may have been other things, but I really wasn’t that close – she absolutely flipped out in the middle of the street. It go so intense that I am sure the sound of her shrill shrieking is still suspended in space somewhere over the city even now.

Last week, I took a trip to antediluvian Toronto and, thanks some massive construction project that left me sitting in traffic for almost three hours, got back to Buffalo just after midnight. My wife was waiting for me in the garage when I rolled in and I could tell from the expression on her face that the conversation wasn’t going to be a good one. Sure enough, while I had been gone, she had managed to strike the front fender of our Ford Freestar against entrance of our garage while she was backing out. The passenger side fender had a pumpkin sized dent and the damage included the headlight, which had broken out of its mounts and now hung by its wires in front of the van’s bumper. Since I take some pride n my vehicles, she assumed I would be quite upset. Oddly, I, a tried and true “car guy” wasn’t upset at all.

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Years ago I read Mario Puzo’s The Godfather and this one sentence jumped out at me the moment I read it: There are men in this world who go about demanding to be killed. They argue in gambling games; they jump out of their cars in a rage if someone so much as scratches their fender. These people wander through the streets calling out “Kill me, kill me.”

I decided then that I would not be such a person. While it pains me to see one of my vehicles damaged, I understand that these things can be repaired and, so long as no one is seriously hurt, there really isn’t much to be upset about.

The next morning, I wandered out to the garage and took a good look at the Grey Lady’s “red badge of courage.” I unscrewed and pulled back the inner fender lining and with the help of a hammer around the edge of the dent managed to get it popped back out. The body line is still not perfect and the places where I hammered so gently ended up with a few dimples but all in all it looks pretty good considering how bad it was. The headlight was cracked in several places where it broke away from its mounts, but I jury rigged it with some zip ties and ordered a brand new unit from Rock Auto for less than $100. When it arrives in the next few days I will fit it and the entire episode will be done.

Before you assert that these two incidents have nothing else in common let me tell you about the young woman who backed into the side of our Freestar at the supermarket a few months ago, scraping the corner back bumper. I wasn’t pleased, but since she had managed to miss all the fragile sheet metal and only left few scuffs and some baby blue paint off the back of her Chevy Cruz – paint that I removed with some polishing compound and elbow grease – I let her off scott free. Then there was the time a guy in Japan rolled into and scuffed the back bumper of my MPV at a stoplight and still another time before that a woman in Seattle rush hour traffic gave my 200SX Turbo a pretty good jolt as well. In those cases as well, after deciding the damage was minimal, I let the offending parties walk.

car-accident-drivers

To be sure, the stories I am relating about my own vehicles all involve minimal damage while the car I saw struck is going to require some professional attention, but I still think the woman’s overreaction was totally uncalled for and I pity the poor delivery driver who hit her. I am certain the “victim” of the accident has already called her insurance agent and has probably made an appointment with her doctors to check for possible back injuries as well. This whole thing is going to cause them both a whole lot of stress in the days and weeks to come and I feel bad for both of them, her the victim of the driver’s carless mistake and he the victim of her senseless, over-the-top reaction. Better, I think, for everyone not to get too carried away lest we end up sleeping with the fishes.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Deadly Threat: A Deer In The Headlights http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/deadly-threat-a-deer-in-the-headlights/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/deadly-threat-a-deer-in-the-headlights/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 19:32:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494652 deer_in_road

The deer emerged from the forest and leapt into the roadway in a sudden swift movement. The sights and sounds of the busy two lane highway assailed the animal’s senses and drove it towards panic. In the opposite lane a car flashed by at close to 60 mph and the noise of its passing echoed off of the thick brush behind the animal. With threats from ahead and behind, the animal pivoted and fled up the roadway, running headlong into the white RAV4 which, despite the driver’s best efforts, was still traveling somewhere north of 50 mph when it struck the animal.

The small SUV’s bumper made contact first, knocking the deer’s legs out from under it and toppling its heavy body onto the hood. In a fraction of a second the car’s impact zones came into play, crumpling and folding to protect the vehicle’s occupants and absorbing much of the force of the collision. The nose of the Toyota bent downward and fenders bowed outward. The hood by either design or happy accident, I am not sure which, folded back in such a way that it covered the windshield and helped to protect the car’s occupants as the deer’s carcass slid up and over the top vehicle and onto the pavement behind. The RAV’s driver, a man in his late 70s who’s nerve damaged legs necessitated the use of hand controls in the car, fought for the control of the critically damaged vehicle and somehow managed to keep it out of a deep roadside ditch as the car juddered to a stop.

As is the nature of people small town America, a man appeared at the window to render assistance mere seconds after the accident. Others joined him and together they forced open the door and pulled the driver and his stunned wife, also in her 70s, from the car as the smoldering wreck burst suddenly and unexpectedly into flames. Traffic on the highway stopped and somewhere in the town just a mile or two behind the scene of an accident an alarm sounded and emergency responders rushed to their trucks. By the time they arrived on scene, the little white RAV was almost fully engulfed in flames. Black smoke changed to white steam as they played water on the fire and eventually the car was extinguished. As the two seniors were escorted away by family members who had rushed to the scene, they couldn’t help but wryly note that their little SUV looked more like a toasted marshmallow than the slick little car it had been just minutes earlier. It was a total loss.

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The above story is real and unfolded last Saturday on a rural highway that runs between Monroe and Snohomish, Washington. The driver was my stepfather, Guy, and his passenger was my mother. Both were totally unharmed but the RAV, which was a nice little car with just a few thousand miles on the clock, was hauled away to a storage yard and the insurance adjuster called. Fortunately my brothers and sister in the area can help out with basic transport until Guy can purchase another car and have it outfitted with the special controls he uses, but I am sure the accident has left them both shaken.

As a motorcyclist, I learned early on that any accident or any close call is an opportunity to learn better riding skills. Whenever the worst happens, or as is more often the case whenever I escape the worst by a hair’s breadth, I spend some time sitting down after the fact and thinking about what I might have done differently. I am sure my stepfather running through all the various scenarios in his mind right now and, given the unpredictability of an animal in the roadway, it would be easy to walk away thinking that what happened was unavoidable. But I think that would be wrong. Animals are thinking creatures and will generally behave in predictable ways if you know what they are responding to. That knowledge might not have avoided the accident altogether, but it might have mitigated the results.

Click here to view the embedded video.

When I was about 18 years old, I was out on a deserted country road in my 74 Nova when a deer stumbled out of the forest and onto the roadway ahead of me. I was not going especially fast and I had sufficient time to slow my car down to around 15 miles an hour. As I closed on the animal, it moved out of my lane and I, thinking it was safe to pass behind the deer, began to accelerate again. As I closed the last few feet with the deer, now going about 20 mph, the deer suddenly turned and ran up the road away from me. I, being inexperienced, braked again but not hard enough and ended up striking the animal from behind. I didn’t hit the deer hard enough to really hurt it, although I am certain the 5 mph safety bumpers mounted on my car didn’t feel pleasant, but I did manage to put a big hole in my car’s plastic grill that I later had to swap out.

I thought long and hard about why the deer had reacted the way it did but could not find an answer on my own. In the end, it was an experienced hunter who clued me in. Deer, he told me, are prey animals who usually live in the deep woods and they rely a lot on sound to assess threat. A car closing in on them does not make a lot of noise because, thanks to the Doppler effect, it compresses the sound waves in front of it. This is also, as a side note, why someone walking on a train track can be easily run down by a train from behind and why, despite many bikers assertions otherwise loud pipes do not save lives. Out the back and off to the sides however, a vehicle does make noise and these noises are often reflected off the trees as it passes. The deer, whose ears are much more sensitive than the one you and I have, interpret these sounds as coming from the woods and as a result will almost always run up the road and away from a sound. Following this logic, In the case of my stepfather’s accident, the deer was spooked by a car that passed just seconds earlier and ended up running right into an oncoming car when it would have made more sense to have taken the shortest route off the road and back into cover.

Deer-01

Because of my earlier experience with a deer in the wild, I take animals in the road seriously. While I may admire their beauty and encourage my kids to look at Bambi as we pass I know in my heart they are stone cold killers. The Insurance Journal reports that between July 1, 2011 and June 30 2012 there were approximately 1.23 million deer/car collisions in the United States. These accidents caused about 200 deaths and resulted in insurance pay outs of almost $4 Billion. These are huge numbers but the amount of deaths per accident are not incredibly high. I am sure much of this can be attributed to good design and modern safety systems, but to me they also indicate that many of these accidents are not happening at full speed like the one that happened to Guy but are, rather, more like the low speed one I had. I wonder then, how many of these could actually have been avoided if people had a better understanding of the animal’s possible reaction.

I once wrote that every time I have ever tried to portray myself as an expert on anything I end up getting embarrassed by someone who actually is. If I tell someone I speak good Japanese it turns out their brother is fluent and has written actual books in the language and I come away looking like a chump. Mention that I studied Karate and Check Norris laughs in my face. I have no desire to portray myself as an expert on animal behavior, hell for that matter I don’t know what I am going to do from minute to minute so why would I think I would know the mind of a deer? What I do have, however, is you TTAC’s best and brightest. I am sure I am not the only one to have an animal encounter, and given that we are all sooner or later bound to have one of our own, I want you to share what you know. Tell us your tricks and maybe save a life.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Piston Slap: Reading the Light Bulb Filaments http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/piston-slap-reading-the-light-bulb-filaments/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/piston-slap-reading-the-light-bulb-filaments/#comments Wed, 30 Jan 2013 12:01:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=475461

TTAC commentator Celebrity208 writes:

Sajeev:
I’d always thought that police crash investigators would check the tail light bulbs of a car that was rear ended to determine if its lights were on at the time of the crash. I thought it had something to do with the way the filament was broken/burnt/etc. So my question is two-fold, am I crazy and do they do this, and if so how might LED tail lights remove this piece of forensic evidence regarding correctly operating brake lights at the time of an accident (presuming the fault was contested)?

Sajeev answers:

Hi Clayton! You are not crazy (I hope) but I doubt the Police check the tail lights/brake lights in some sort of CSI operation for car accidents. For two reasons:

  1. The wear from cold or hot “restrikes” of a tail light bulb’s filaments probably don’t tell much, other than their remaining lifespan. And once the vehicle crashes, well the evidence could be destroyed. Headlights, however, are a different story.
  2. Why bother with this when we have event data recorders?

Here’s a list (unverified for accuracy) of late-model vehicles with EDRs.  Basically any vehicle with an OBD-II computer (1996-present) is capable of recording a metric ton of data as to your driving habits.  Combine this 1990s advancement with the ancient technology of the brake light switch and you’ll know exactly what was going on before the accident.  Why bother looking downstream (light at the back of the car) when you see the source upstream (at the brake pedal assembly)?

Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

This talk of lighting filaments always takes me back to a core truth of automobile ownership: check the filaments on your (Halogen) headlights!

If the chrome plated(?) looking finish on those tiny wires isn’t flawless, replace the bulbs. In pairs!  Life is too short to risk it all on $20-30 worth of new bulbs, as they degradate so slowly that a visual inspection of the chrome plating is the cheapest and easiest way to ensure your nighttime driving safety.  I’ve seen 2-year-old vehicles in dire need for new bulbs!  So it happens, and you better do something about it.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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Guess What Happened To The Driver? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/guess-what-happened-to-the-driver/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/guess-what-happened-to-the-driver/#comments Mon, 31 Oct 2011 16:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416189  

I’m sure you know the stage trick where a woman is sawed in half and lives. Now, try the same with a Volvo and a truck loaded with masses of steel bars. Volvo S40 crashes into truck. Bundles of steel bars crash through the windshield,  exit on the other side of the car. What happens to the driver and front seat passenger?

They walk.

At least they did in a freak accident in rural Zhejiang Province in China. As reported by Carnewschina,  the driver  and his passenger “literally ducked for safety” and survived with minor injuries.  With a little less luck, they would be kebab.

Don’t try this at home.

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Keep On Truckin’, No Matter What http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/keep-on-truckin-no-matter-what/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/keep-on-truckin-no-matter-what/#comments Thu, 18 Aug 2011 21:50:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=407838

The truck depicted above was found by one of Carnewschina’s many stringers in Southern China, Guangxi Province, National Highway 323, km 1181, near the town of Desheng. The stringer noted an indicated speed of 80 km/h. This gives a whole new meaning to a crash truck.

Up until now, a crash truck was understood as a vehicle especially designed and equipped to rescue victims of an air crash. Should you ever hear the words “crash truck” come from a plane’s cockpit, be alarmed.

The term is being redefined in China.

Now, a crash truck (with Chinese characteristics) is a truck that had been in a severe accident and that had its cab converted to an open air festival. At closer inspection, it was determined that engine and drive-train were still in good running condition, and after strapping the damaged sheet metal on the truck (for proper recycling, no doubt), the half-truck was sent on its way. An example of self-sufficiency!

There are more pictures at Carnewschina.

 

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Fleet Modernization Program, Russian Style http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/fleet-modernization-program-russian-style/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/fleet-modernization-program-russian-style/#comments Wed, 18 May 2011 15:28:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=395333

Governments around the globe have spent hard-earned tax payer’s money on cash for clunkers fleet modernization programs. The aim: get old cars off the roads, create demand for new ones.

As this video shows, Russia has devised an ingenious new program: Do it yourself fleet modernization. Leave it to the initiative of the citizen. No tax payer’s money spent, and it’s usually two cars or more per case.

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