Tag: Safety

By on August 16, 2019

Audi’s E-Tron has become the first battery electric vehicle to receive the coveted Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick+ award. However, considering the group rarely tests EVs, it may soon find itself with company. The IIHS requires an automobile to earn high marks in six crashworthiness evaluations, as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and a good headlight rating to be eligible for the commendation.

Chevrolet’s Bolt managed to achieve the necessary ratings in all categories, save for headlight illumination. The same was true for Tesla’s Model S — though that vehicle also received an “acceptable” rating for the small frontal overlap crash test. Other EVs have yet to undertake a full complement of tests, potentially giving the E-Tron a bit of a head start.  (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2019

Last week, the Center for Auto Safety announced it had reached out to America’s ride-hailing giants to encourage them to stop allowing drivers to use vehicles under active recalls. The group’s release references a Consumer Reports study from this spring that alleged 1 in 6 automobiles commissioned by Uber and Lyft had unresolved defects in the NYC and Seattle areas.

“Unrepaired recalled vehicles are dangerous and can kill or injure drivers, passengers, bikers, or pedestrians. Exploding Takata airbag inflators which have resulted in at least 24 deaths worldwide, GM ignition switch failures which have resulted in at least 170 deaths in the U.S., and hundreds of other less-publicized defects pose equally significant threats to public safety,” explained the advocacy group. “Yet, recent studies from Consumer Reports and others have found concerning numbers of rideshare vehicles with unrepaired recalls on the Uber and Lyft apps.” (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2019

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Sahara

Reports of alarming oscillations transmitted through the steering wheels of various Jeep Wranglers started landing on the NHTSA’s lap last year, years after off-road enthusiasts began complaining of the same issue. A product of a solid front axle, higher speeds, and an unexpected jolt ⁠— like hitting a bump in the road ⁠— the so-called “death wobble” sparked a class-action lawsuit that alleges Jeep’s Wrangler boasts an inherently unsafe axle and suspension design.

Now Fiat Chrysler says it has a solution to the wobble, with notifications headed to owners’ mailboxes from coast to coast. Will the supposed fix serve to pour cold water over the lawsuit? At this point, it doesn’t seem so. (Read More…)

By on August 12, 2019

The U.S. Navy has decided to convert the touch screens installed on its destroyer fleet back to mechanical controls after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) cited them in the fatal collision between the USS John S McCain and tanker Alnic MC in 2017. They were also referenced in the collision report released after the USS Fitzgerald collided with the ACX Crystal container ship. While the reports dealt largely with crews being improperly trained on the system’s various functions, the complexity of the graphical interface was cited as a potential issue in itself.

This encouraged Naval Sea Systems Command to conduct fleet surveys in the hope it could get a handle on how officers felt about the systems. The result? Crew members said they wanted more physical controls, echoing the cries of automotive safety advocates the world over.  (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2019

lincoln-continental-2017-iihs-crash-test

It’s likely your average new car buyer can’t come close to guessing the number of airbags poised to deploy in their new ride. Gone are the days when Lee Iacocca would hit the airwaves, bragging about his company’s standard driver’s side airbags. New vehicles are festooned with then.

However, one particular airbag could be doing more harm than good, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. (Read More…)

By on August 2, 2019

2017 Audi A4 - Image: Audi

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that Volkswagen Group of America is issuing a recall on 144,092 Audi vehicles in the United States so their passenger-side airbag sensors can be fixed. Oxidation on the connecting cable of the system is causing software failures, leading to an inability to detect occupants and disabling the airbag from functioning.

Issued on July 24th, the recall covers Audi S5 and A5 vehicles along with some A4s — all manufactured between 2016 and 2018. Automotive News reported there would be an additional 26,040 vehicles recalled in Canada after speaking with an Audi representative.  (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2019

Amazon is striving to put Alexa, the home assistant/listening device, into more automobiles in the coming years. As a result, the company is working feverishly to enhance her vehicular-related capabilities — including wriggling her way into the embedded software systems of new cars.

On the surface, it sounds great. Networking your car with your smart home device opens up a bevy of new conveniences and Alexa should also help your car get better at understanding everyday voice commands. In the future, you’ll be able to order groceries, check the stock market, call the office, and adjust the thermostat of your house and car without ever having to take your hands off the steering wheel. But this also opens up a bevy of concerns, now that we know Amazon’s employees listen to and record pretty much everything you say to the device — sometimes doing the same for background conversations that were never intended for Alexa’s ears.  (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2019

Until the refresh of the Cadillac Escalade arrives, you want the Lincoln Navigator if you need a premium American battle tank. It’s a Raptor-powered beast of a cruiser, and Lincoln is keeping it fresh for the 2020 model year by offering a new appearance package and more standard tech.

Starting with the visuals, there is now a Monochromatic Appearance Package for the Navigator. If you don’t like chrome, and this author doesn’t, then this is a box you’ll want to check. Yes, there’s still some chrome, it is a Navigator after all. But the Monochromatic Package on the Reserve series offers three different colors to “showcase the bold lines” of the Navigator.

(Read More…)

By on June 28, 2019

It’s Elon Musk’s birthday today, so we’ve decided to wish him well and say congratulations on Tesla Motors convincing the U.S. Commerce Department to waive the 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum so it can build more battery cells at the company’s Nevada Gigafactory. However, what would birthday well-wishing be without the all-important pinch to grow an inch?

Another Model 3 has been hacked, this time without the manufacturer’s blessing. We’re equating it to a mild goosing. Regulus Cyber, a company specializing in digital security, decided to give the Tesla (and a Model S) a shakedown by seeing if they could fool the car’s navigational equipment and upset/confuse Autopilot to the point of failure.

Let’s see how they did.  (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2019

A survey released by Consumer Reports this week indicated that a majority of motorists (57 percent) believed that the advanced driving aids their vehicles had actively helped them avoid a crash. The survey, which incorporated data on roughly 72,000 vehicles from the 2015-19 model years, asked drivers to weigh in on a multitude of safety systems — including forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot alerts, and more. While not all of these features had majority support, tabulating them as a whole showed at least half of the people using advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) saw some value in them.

Our opinions on these systems have been thoroughly mixed. While we’ve found most advanced driving aids to be inconsistent in their operation, sometimes befuddled by fog or a vehicle encrusted with roadway grime, we’ll happily admit that adaptive cruise control offers more utility than the standard on/off inclusions of yesteryear. But we’ve also seen disheartening reports that semi-autonomous features dull a good driver’s senses to a point that effectively makes them a worse motorist and would be lying if we said we trusted any of these systems implicitly.  (Read More…)

By on June 18, 2019

China is currently the largest proponent of electric vehicles on the entire planet. The nation has even incorporated BEVs as a significant part of its complex strategy to overtake the United States the dominant global superpower. However a sudden influx of battery related fires has caused it some trepidation, even though there hasn’t been much evidence to suggest they are actually more prone to catching fire than gas-powered vehicles.

Regardless, the People’s Republic is now demanding that manufacturers conduct routine inspections on electric cars. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says all companies must conduct checks on BEVs, focusing on battery waterproofing, battery boxes, charging points, high-voltage wiring harnesses, and even the wear of mechanical components. They will also be required to report on repairs and any incidents that might indicate a problem. According to the ministry’s press release, they have until October to submit their findings.  (Read More…)

By on June 18, 2019

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released its preliminary report on how many people died on U.S. roadways in 2018, indicating that overall traffic deaths had likely fallen by 1 percent. While the information doesn’t exactly justify a party, it’s good news after the last few years attempted to provide new footage for the Red Asphalt series.

As the first major spike in traffic deaths since the “Swinging Sixties,” 2015 freaked everyone out a bit. Save for a few annual hiccups, American traffic deaths (contrasted with its population) had been on the decline for decades. However, by the end of 2016, things looked certain — it was becoming less safe to drive in the United States.  (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2019

2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid - Image: Toyota Canada

Fans of excessive idling will want to consider a 2019 Toyota model rather than a 2020. The automaker has announced two new safety features destined for most of its lineup for the 2020 model year, one of them being a system that shuts off the engine if left running for too long. How long? That’s for Toyota to decide.

The second feature is one employed by automakers with unconventional transmission shifters that really want to keep litigation at bay. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2019

2016 Ford Explorer

This isn’t the first recall for Ford vehicles with rear ends that may step out of line, but it’s certainly the largest. On Wednesday, the automaker announced the recall of 1.2 million Ford Explorers in the U.S. out of fear that rear suspension toe links could fracture, leading to a loss of control.

The recalls covers 2011-2017 Explorer models, with Ford saying the issue has already caused one driver to veer into a curb. Over the past three years, several suspension recalls have dogged this generation of Explorer; the cause of the potential fractures ranged from improper welds to the accumulation of a certain type of mud.

Speaking of that mud, it’s more of a menace than originally thought. In a separate recall, Ford today called for the return of four Ford and Lincoln models sold in Canada to replace vulnerable rear toe links. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2019

Toyota Mirai Clean Billboard, [Image: Toyota North America]

Toyota and Hyundai have reportedly suspended sales of the hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai and Nexo in Norway after one refueling station went up like the Hindenburg.

Local media reports that, on Monday evening, a Uno-X station in Sandvika suffered a “huge explosion” that injured two nearby drivers after the shock wave caused their vehicles’ airbags to deploy. It’s a black eye for a fuel that, despite the best efforts of a handful of determined automakers, can’t seem to make much headway in the marketplace. (Read More…)

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