The Truth About Cars » iPhone The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:00:51 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » iPhone Apple to Show iOS in the Car at Geneva … in a Ferrari Sun, 02 Mar 2014 16:49:11 +0000 Ferrari Apple iOS

According to Brand Finance and other business experts, Ferrari- not Apple- is the world’s strongest brand. Apple, however, are no dummies- and they’ve decided to hitch their “iOS in the Car” wagon to Ferrari’s ever-rising star when both companies step out onto the stage at the 84th Geneva International Motor Show and show off Apple’s in-car operating system … in the new, production-ready LaFerrari hybrid super car and the new for 2014 Ferrari California T.

Apple and Ferrari first announced their collaboration almost a year ago, after last year’s Geneva show. It makes perfect sense, then, that the first fruits of their labor should appear now, on the largest automotive stage in the world … and not too long after Ford hilariously announced that it would be integrating- *snerk!* a version of Research in Motion’s BlackBerry OS into its own cars.

Further evidence for the upcoming announcement comes in the person of Eddy Cue. Eddy’s the vice president of Internet Software and Services at Apple, likely one of the people most involved with iOS in the Car, and just so happens to have been named to the Ferrari’s board of directors last November, making the Ferrari/Apple connection that much more obvious.

SO, while we wait for the official announcement to happen at Geneva, let’s take a look at the highly visible Ferraris that are expected to carry the new Apple iOS in the Car system, below. Just, you know, don’t expect Siri to be any good.


Apple iOS in the Car / Ferrari California T

Apple iOS in a Car + Ferrari California Apple iOS in a Car + Ferrari California Apple iOS in a Car + Ferrari California Apple iOS in a Car + Ferrari California


Apple iOS in the Car / Ferrari LaFerrari

Apple iOS in a Car + Ferrari LaFerrari Apple iOS in a Car + Ferrari LaFerrari Apple iOS in a Car + Ferrari LaFerrari Apple iOS in a Car + Ferrari LaFerrari

Originally published on Gas 2.

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Piston Slap: Better Than Onomatopoeias? Wed, 19 Feb 2014 13:01:47 +0000

TTAC commentator Toy Maker writes:

Hi again Sajeev,

Steven Lang’s post buying quality tools piked my interest again on getting myself an OBDII scanner. But which one is right for me? Even the Autel brand mentioned by Steve have readers ranging from $30 to the $350 Autel MD802 mentioned in Steve’s post.

I don’t plan on working on my cars much, just want to use more than onomatopoeias to converse with my mechanics. (Nice. – SM)

Though I did read online “Scanners” can give you more real-time diagnostic than “Code Reader”. Is there guideline to say when should someone spring for a Scanner , and when can they settle for a Reader? My budget for this month is under $100. Will be less after Christmas time, but much more when the CEL comes on again.


Sajeev answers:

In theory, you want the tool that pulls the most codes for your car(s), but the cheaper tools pull basic powertrain codes and little else. Which kinda makes them useless as our cars get more complicated with more fail points. Damn those proprietary software codes from each manufacturer!

In reality, you can go to any parts store and they’ll pull most engine codes for free.  Or get a super cheap one from Harbor Freight if you are too lazy/uppity to go to said retail establishment.

If you need to reprogram some obscure VW Transmission after doing a fluid change, a super special tool (i.e. VAG-COM) is necessary.  But if you have a late-model GM pickup, buying a normal code scanner with the additional GM software isn’t a bad idea.  It all depends on how “smart” you want to look.

Speaking of, OBD-II works nicely with most WiFi enabled smart phones. Which is super cool if you (like me) are wired to these damn things.  What’s not to love about a little plug for your OBD-II port and an app on your phone to give you an ungodly amount of data?  If you have an uber-tuned machine, a fancypants phone and the desire to know everything, the show-off factor available gives you ultimate bragging rights.

To wrap things up, the value proposition of owning your own scan tool depends on a few salient points:

  • Brand loyalty to a single manufacturer. (GM, Ford, VAG, etc.)
  • Interest in fixing problems with a repair manual and extensive searching on brand specific forums.
  • Desire for another plastic box that’ll collect dust in your garage and/or ability to wow your mechanic with non-onomatopoeia based communication
  • Interest in using the free tool at the parts store, or the (somewhat) better rent-able tool (deposit required) when needed.

Quite honestly, communication via onomatopoeia isn’t the end of the world. This is why we pay for mechanics, and why they (usually) add value to our society.

Send your queries to 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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Product Review: LX Dual USB Car Charger with Leather Grip Mon, 03 Feb 2014 13:00:22 +0000

The vehicles we aspire to own have one thing in common: timeless design over mere transportation: Ferraris over Fiats. CUVs instead of sedans, or personal luxury vehicles in lieu of a hatchback. So why not treat yourself to a leather-wrapped charging apparatus? IMG_2492 Oh yes, it charges your smartphone/tablet with precision…but where’s the passion in that? Let’s charge things up with a review enhancement to id America’s “LX Dual USB Car Charger with Leather Grip” with a two-pronged (get it? nevermind…) attack:

  1. Rename this stunning work of modern art with a more fitting title: ZOMG LEATHER USB CHARGER!!!1!  or “ZLUC” for short.
  2. Go down memory lane: showing how much better automobiles from several decades work with a ZLUC in their cigar holes.

And, for this Lincoln-Mercury fanboi, what better starting point than the famous 1961 Lincoln Continental? IMG_2484 As you can clearly see, ZLUC is a fantastic fit in one of the finest automobiles to grace American roads in the 1960s.  The leather-wrapped goodness shows itself off against the strong aluminum elements of the Conti’s dashboard.  Also note how ZLUC is intended for Apple products ONLY… Android users?  No leather wrapped chargers for you. In fact, do yourself a favor and close this browser (probably not Safari, either) and peep those all-plastic chargers on eBay. Philistine! I’m just kidding!  ZLUC’s packaging lists the following items as worthy of getting their electrons massaged by the tender luxury of leather wrapping, in this order:

  1. iPad
  2. iPad mini
  3. iPhone
  4. Tablets & Smartphones

So you Android and Windows people can indeed continue reading! IMG_2498 The Continental Mark III was well-known for the time a C/D scribe made it from coast to coast with no money, only promises to gas station owners underwritten by the sheer class of this stunning machine.  So how dare you consider any non-ZLUC phone charger to duplicate this trip today? IMG_2485 Note how ZLUC not only adds to the Mark III’s faux stitching with its REAL leather wrapping, the contrasting color actually matches the wood grain trim!  And when not needed, it hides easily in the ashtray binnacle so mere mortals who live without leather infused battery charging shall not be violently jealous of your elevated status. Like you Android users! IMG_2499 Obviously the pinnacle of personal luxury design was the late 1970s, before there was a cure for disco fever with downsized machines “from here to eternity.”  And obviously the Continental Mark V was the baddest of them all: three inches longer than a Ford Excursion when Cadillac was downsizing their rides for some stupid energy crisis. How will ZLUC fare against the toughest American Hustler? Could it possibly fail? IMG_2486 ZOMG DAT LEATHER AND WOOD!  You are an absolute fool to not rest your tired booty after a long night of coke snorting disco dancing in the super-classy interior of the Mark V, and let your iPhone recharge via leather wrapped battery rejuvenation! IMG_2489 Quite honestly, you need multiple ZLUC’s for every cigar hole in a Mark V!  Why you need TWO of these beauties for the rear of both door panels. IMG_2491 Did I forget the 1980s?  Hardly.  Yes the 1990s had mobile phones, but never such uncharted luxury as a USB charger wrapped in the same quality leather as the finest German machine of the era. Yes, the ZLUC smells as good as it looks! But I digress.. The futuristic center stack of the 1993-1995 Lincoln Mark VIII looks rather fantastic in its so good it’s almost not faux wood trimming, complete with ZLUC’s matching brown leather wrapping.  Also note the high-tech technology of the blue LED light on ZLUC’s face, proving it’s ready to take your mobile device to the next level… …with luxury in mind! 971620_10151508996138269_1350646760_n Why that leather wrapped charger is so fantastic I will never use my factory installed car phone again…ever!


But how timeless is this classic for one’s cigar hole?  Let’s put it to the ultimate test. IMG_2490 ZOMG TESTAROSSA LEATHER USB CHARGER!!!1!  As the photo shows, Crockett and Tubbs only need a ZLUC in Cocaine White Leather to completely dominate the Drug Trade! Is there a better way to look moody and intense while charging your iPhone? I think not! Can you imagine the great selfies Crockett could post on Instagram if his iPhone was connected to ZLUC? Hashtag that’s what’s In The Air Tonight!

So can you, dear reader, put a price on such perfection?  You fool, the ZLUC is priceless!  Or $24.99 plus shipping, available directly at id America’s suitably upscale website. Well, what are you waiting for?  A leather wrapped invitation to buy one of these babies for yourself?


(id America provided their LX Dual USB Car Charger with Leather Grip in brown leather for this review.)

IMG_2485 IMG_2492 coverphoto IMG_2499 web_feature_lxcarcharger IMG_2486 971620_10151508996138269_1350646760_n IMG_2484 IDPA201BRN_angle IMG_2489 IMG_2498 IMG_2490 IMG_2491 IDPA201BRN_front

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Hammer Time: Old Tech / New Tech Tue, 29 Oct 2013 11:00:18 +0000

Ah, the good old days. A time when smartphones were just PDA’s with hormone imbalances.

A time of basic cell phones, brick-thick cameras, and camcorders barely big enough to require a hand strap.

I remember all this old tech like it was yesterday, and for one simple reason: I still used all of them until recently.

Until about a month ago, I used the same basic cell phone I got for free back in 2008.

Absolutely nothing special, the bare bones MetroPCS phone enabled one-handed dialing and texting without even looking at the screen.

One thumb and dome. I mean, done.

That primitive device was brutally brilliant for yours truly because it was essentially “dope resistant”. It withstood a 45-MPH launch from  a Lincoln Town Car’s hood with nary a scratch.  I lost it dozens of times, once for two days. Yet I would invariably find it again and continue to beat it like a red-headed stepchild.

In time it was scratched, kicked, dropped, thrown, and beaten all to hell.

I treasured it. With each passing month, that miniature screen would get a little bit more faded and dim. Sometimes – not often…maybe once a month – the screen would freeze up or a button would stick.

No worries. At least not for a guy in a time warp. Even a few minutes of downtime each month was not nearly enough for me to invest in modern smartphones. Five-hundred dollars for a friggin’ phone? Ha! Not from this frugal zealot!

Then something happened…


I left it on top of a Subaru Outback and gave the keys to one of my customers. After a ten-minute test drive I heard the words that would change the course of my technological future.

“Steve, I really like this Outback. But I heard this strange clunking sound when I made my first turn. Are the CV joints okay?”

“Ummmm… I think it was my cell phone.”

A futile search on the nearby intersection yielded nothing more than a shocking amount of litter, and mild amusement from the passersby.

The time had come.

It was September 19th, 2013, and the cost of not having a phone for my business was far more dire than the relatively low cost of buying a good phone…a damn good phone…maybe even…the best phone?

So I powered up my fully-functional 2001 Pentium 4 with Windows XP and Googled “cell phones” and “best.”  A relentless assault of one-worded responses confronted me:


It was not because the iPhone was better than the Galaxy S4, which was better than the HTC One, which was…. what the hell are all these things?

No, it was because Apple was releasing the new iPhone 5C and 5S models the next day.

So I went to Wal-Mart.

And the AT&T store.

And T-Mobile.

And Best Buy.

But the iPhone 5S was nowhere to be found. It was worse than Chrysler’s release of the new Jeep Cherokee. I couldn’t find this thing in my neck of the woods to save my ass from first base.

I had to do something, anything, to get a decent cell phone.

I Facebooked. I called friends. I contacted people that I’m not even sure are my friends anymore.

One guy offered me a phone, but batteries were no longer available for that (2007) model.  However, the teenage girl working at the battery store was my savior.   She ducked in the back and emerged with something small, pink, and adorned with a Hello Kitty sticker.

I quietly sighed, but left with a new battery and the following phone for $40.


The damn thing’s called a lollipop.

Back in 2010 these phones were state-of-the-art…for the low end. But it could do pictures, voice, and even send your photos off to Kodak.

Kodak! Damn!  I was hitting the big time!

Within two days, I had it deciphered and was busy texting and calling away. The flip design would keep the sub-two-inch screen in stellar shape. All would be well again in my world.

Until, that is, I attended a nearby media event. Here, I realized brutal truth of my Luddite life.

I was the sole guy at the event without a smartphone. Not only that, I was the only journalist not typing away before the event began.

When the new car rolled out, they simply  snapped photos with their phones and sent them.

To online publications…to their social media pages…and probably a half-dozen other places thanks to various apps.

Me? I go and unsheath a 2005,  5-megapixel Sony digital camera, whose lens extends like a three-inch probe. I wait for the right exposure, take two pictures, and then the thing spontaneously seizes up in my hand like the relic it is.

Confession time: It wasn’t always like this for me; I used to be a hardcore technophile.

Party on Wayne!

Party on Wayne!

Twenty years ago, I was the first student at my college with a laptop. Thanks to it helping me overcome a fine motor impairment, my grades skyrocketed.  That’s Wayne by the way…

Technology was a beautiful thing in my life, and I almost accepted an offer with an IT consulting firm before my love for cars took over.

The car business, and the interrelated world of auto auctions, became my career, and I eventually became a ”tool guy” technologically.

If the hammer works, just keep on using it. Because “new” means “money”. And “nearly-new” means “nearly free.” And “old” means durable and often perfect for my limited needs.


A lot of long-time auto enthusiasts look at cars in much the same way. Older vehicles, especially those past a decade or even two, can perform the same functions as new models for a fraction of the cost.

Then again, you do miss a few pieces of technology as you go back in time: navigation, stability control, airbags. Everything from the steel polymers used to make vehicles, to the maintenance requirements for a daily driver, have changed substantially within the last ten years.

So here’s my question: Where do you draw the automotive line between old and new? Does a car with ABS, traction control, and dent resistant panels, like a 1992 Saturn, earn the right to be seen as a contemporary? Or does it have to Sync, Link, CUE and Think with mobile and hands-free technologies?

Where do you draw that line?

Oh, and if you happen to have a spare gold iPhone 5S with 30 times more gigabytes than my “pre-Ipod” computer, feel free to let me know.

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How Hemi Magic Made It To The iPhone (And Its Competitors) Wed, 18 Apr 2012 15:06:41 +0000

The chances are good that, as a TTAC reader, you use a smartphone. Among the literate, educated people who make up our reader base, ownership of a touch-screen phone with more computing power than a stack of DEC PDP-11s is the rule, not the exception. Google claims that over 250 million devices are running Android. Apple sold as many as 44 million iPhones in the past quarter. To some degree, the entire globe runs on these devices. Most of us couldn’t do our jobs or manage our lives without them.

The chances are not good that, as a TTAC reader, you own one of the two hundred and two 426 Hemi Super Stock “A990″ Dodge Corornets and Plymouth Belvederes built. 93 TorqueFlite Dodges, 8 four-speed stick Dodges, 85 TorqueFlite Belvederes, 16 four-speeds. They were up to five hundred pounds lighter than their non-A990 brethren and were known to turn quarter-mile times in the high ten-second range with trap speeds between one-twenty-five and one-thirty. Modern supercars like the GT-R and Ferrari 458 can’t hang with a 1965 Plymouth Belvedere. Think about that.

Now think about the fact that, without those ’65 Mopars, your smartphone wouldn’t work quite the same way it does today.

As produced, the so-called “A990″ Coronets and Belvederes were actually too light for the NHRA; they had to have a hundred-pound “off-road skidplate” added back to them in order to compete. Chrysler pulled out all the stops for their 1965 factory drag racer. They also pulled out everything from the rear seats (of course) to the passenger windshield wiper. That’s wasn’t enough. The NHRA wouldn’t permit the widespread use of aluminum body parts in a “stock” car, so Chrysler tried another tack at saving panel weight. A special run of body parts was stamped, using lightweight steel. As everybody who has ever tried to race a showroom-stock car around a road course or down the strip knows, however, the glass in a factory vehicle is murderously heavy.

Enter “Chemcor”, a special project from the Corning Glass company. According to Wikipedia, Chemcor is made as follows:

The glass is toughened by ion exchange. It is placed in a hot bath of molten potassium salt at a temperature of approximately 400 °C (~750 °F). Smaller sodium ions leave the glass, and larger potassium ions from the salt bath replace them. These larger ions take up more room and are pressed together when the glass cools, producing a layer of compressive stress on the surface of the glass… creating high compressive stress deep into the glass. This layer of compression creates a surface that is more resistant to damage from everyday use.

The A990 cars received Chemcor glass panes all the way ’round. The additional surface toughness allowed it to be much thinner while meeting the same impact requirements, although were Chrysler to pull the same trick in a Dart R/T today the NHTSA might have something to say about it. Come to think of it, the NHTSA might have had something to say about it back then, perhaps at lunch in the London Chop House or wherever such things were privately done, and as a result no Mopar, and no car, ever used Chemcor again. Corning put the process, and the results, away in its vault, and did not develop or sell any more products with Chemcor glass…

…until the day Steve Jobs came to visit. I will let Walter Issacson, Jobs’ biographer, take it from here, quoting a speech he gave after Jobs’ death:

Steve Jobs when he does the iPhone decides he doesn’t want plastic, he wants really tough glass on it, and they don’t make a glass that can be tough like they want. And finally somebody says to him, because they were making all of the glass in China for the fronts of the stores, says, “You ought to check with the people at Corning. They’re kind of smart there.” So, he flies to Corning, New York, sits there in front of the CEO, Wendell Weeks, and says, “This is what I want, a glass that can do this.” So, Wendell Weeks says, “We once created a type of process that created something called Gorilla Glass.” And Steve said, “No, no, no. Here’s how you make really strong glass.” And Wendell says, “Wait a minute, I know how to make glass. Shut up and listen to me.” And Steve, to his credit, shuts up and listens, and Wendell Weeks describes a process that makes Gorilla Glass. And Steve then says, “Fine. In six months I want enough of it to make–whatever it is–a million iPhones.” And Wendell says, “I’m sorry, we’ve actually never made it. We don’t have a factory to make it. This was a process we developed, but we never had a manufacturing plant to do it.” And Steve looks at him and says what he said to Woz, 20, 30 years earlier: “Don’t be afraid, you can do it.” … Wendell Weeks said he called his plant in Kentucky that was making glass for LCD screens, and said, “Start the process now, and make Gorilla Glass.” That’s why every iPhone in your pocket and iPad has Gorilla Glass made by Corning.

“Gorilla Glass” was a marketing gloss on “Chemcor”. In a way, the two names perfectly symbolize what’s changed in America since 1965. “Chemcor” just sounds all space-agey and forward-thinking, the sort of optimism that Donald Fagen sprinkles all the way through his “The Nightfly” solo record. “Gorilla Glass”, by contrast, has the sheen of explain-it-to-the-dumb-proles to it, a ridiculous exaggeration based on the idea that, while people might be frightened by chemicals, they have no problem feeling good about gorillas.

“Gorilla Glass” it is, and its use has expanded to dozens of other smartphones and small devices. I’ve personally spiderwebbed two Gorilla Glass phones, but check this: when I went to Palm Beach late last year, I accidentally (meaning drunkenly) walked into the ocean with a spiderwebbed Droid3 in my pocket, and the display didn’t short out. Good stuff, even if it can’t quite stand up to gorillas in smartphone-friendly thicknesses.

Best of all, although future Gorilla Glass production is likely to come from China, for the time being a lot of is it made right where it was invented: in the United States. American ingenuity, American production. Makes you feel good. Here’s another American idea: let’s go ahead and try it again, in a 350-horsepower, maxed-out, 2.4-turbo Dart. Call it the Super Stock. Light Chemcor glass, Quaife diff, no-fluff, quarter-mile-oriented. After all, there are still some of us who rank a kick-ass Mopar way above a not-so-simple smartphone.

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Audi: Vorsprung Durch iPhone. Sun, 22 May 2011 11:48:19 +0000

Explaining the many features of a car has always been a challenge. Manuals remain largely unread. When I was at Volkswagen, someone had the brilliant idea of making interactive CD-ROMs. I protested: “So that car stops with a cryptic trouble light, and now the poor customer is supposed to go home, find the CD, pop it into the computer and check what that light means?” My protests fell on deaf ears, and the CDs were made. Now, someone at Audi had a better idea …

Owners of an Audi A1 can download an application that runs on their iPhone. (Android or Windows? SOL.)

According to Automobilwoche [sub], once the app is on the iPhone, the customer must aim the phone’s camera at the part he or she does not understand, hit a button, and the iPhone will explain what’s going on. If the feature is one of the 65 the iPhone app recognizes, that is. In a later version, the iPhone will be familiar with 250 parts of the car, even if they are under the hood. So in a few years, when you see a lady by the side of the road, aiming her iPhone at the dipstick, you’ll know what to do. Currently, the app is sub-hood-agnostic.

The picture above shows you how this works. You aim the iPhone at the ominous stalk to the left of the steering column. A red quadrant signals that the stalk has been recognized. You push a button, and it says “Geschwindigskeitsregelanlage”, which is German for cruise control. Isn’t technology wonderful?

And what about the warning lights?  Not yet. “It is conceivable that in the future, a customer can see with a single click on his smartphone what kind of fuel and oil the car needs,” says Das Autohaus. “The meaning of a blinking warning light will then also be identified quickly and easily via the smartphone.” Sounds like the blinkenlights will come in the 3.0 version.

Trouble lights aside, Audi thought of everything, even of the poor sods who have an iPhone, but not Audi A1. They get four pictures on the web. Aim your iPhone at the picture, and the phone will tell you what it is.  I forgot: You need to subscribe to iTunes first.

Sorry, guys: Isn’t there a big screen in the dash? CAN-Bus connected? Why do I feel I am being ignored again?

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