Today’s Car Batteries Ain’t What They Used To Be!

30 11 2017

Dale BertramOur cars today are comprised of several computers or as we call them…modules.  They are busy controlling every aspect of our driving experience now including the battery.  We all remember how it used to be…you try to start your car and nothing happens.  In the past you would get out the jumper cables, get another car lined up to yours, attach the cables very carefully and correctly to each battery and in a few minutes you were good to go…at least for a little while.  This gave you time to get the battery tested and if it was a case of leaving your lights on it is probably okay…if not…you just get a new battery installed and you are on your way…problem solved.

Today’s batteries are more complex and if you try to jump start your vehicle it could be bad news.  It could cause a surge of energy to pass through the car that could potentially damage a module or multiple modules.  This is especially true if the keys are left in the ignition.

In the not too distant past a car battery could be fully recharged in an hour.  Today’s batteries not only require a special charger, it can take a full day to recharge it. We can’t use the old style chargers on these new style batteries without causing some serious damage.  It can destroy the battery and even worse, cause an explosion that can cause harm to people and property.  Obviously, if you have a new style battery, this is not the time to “do it yourself” at home.  Get the battery to a qualified repair shop and if they tell you they need to keep it for a day to determine its status, look at that as a sign they know what they are doing!  This gives them time to determine the state of the battery and if it can be saved.

Qualified technicians will also know to check the battery for what we call parasitic draw.  Sounds bad, I know, but it is not a bug or other type of creature, it is a slow drain on your car’s battery.  It seems okay at first after a recharge and can go for a day or even longer before it drains again to a non-starting point.  When your battery and alternator are checked the technician can determine what the problem is there and then and that saves you time which of course, saves you money.

 

 

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Don’t Ruin the Holidays with Road Rage

16 11 2017

Dale BertramMany feel that road rage is triggered by drivers who are feeling rushed or spend too much time in heavy traffic. We know around the holidays traffic intensifies so be aware of your stress triggers and keep them under control when you are driving.

Most drivers who experience road rage show it by tailgating, changing lanes quickly without signaling, running red lights, honking the horn and using obscene gestures.  In a recent survey fifty-six percent of men said they experience feelings of road rage on a daily basis and forty-four percent of women do.

Studies show that 1500 people are injured or killed in road-rage incidents each year. It is believed that those who suffer from violent road-rage tendencies have Intermittent Explosive Disorder and this affects up to 16 million Americans during their lifetime. Psychiatrists believe this disorder starts in childhood or early adolescence. When they get violent on the road they have excuses like, “he cut me off,” or “I was signaling for that parking spot first!”

The majority of aggressive drivers are poorly educated young men between the ages of 16 and 26. Usually they have had run ins with the law and have substance abuse issues…but not always. Some professional, successful people who have had a bad day at the office and who seem to have no emotional problems have also flown into a rage.  Class, race, religion, age, gender don’t seem to matter in some instances.  They just had a rough day and getting cut off in traffic resulted in the final straw.

Generally speaking though, those categorized as “type A” or competitive personalities are more prone to road rage. They are more controlling people and get frustrated more easily when things don’t go their way.  If they felt things went against them all day this aggressive behavior can show up behind the wheel.

The best advice when you feel someone near you on the road is experiencing road rage is to get out of their way and don’t make eye contact.  If you are pursued by an angry driver do not drive home…drive to the police station.

If you are a person who gets easily frustrated with other drivers be aware of your emotions and stay calm.  Don’t let a bad day for you get worse by harming others and possibly ending up in jail.  That only makes your bad day go on for a very long time. If you need to seek professional help, do so sooner rather than later.

It may be years before this device is available but meanwhile, be very aware when you are driving and take steps to keep calm and share the road graciously with others.

 

 





Vehicle Updates

4 05 2017

Dale BertramThe state of autonomous vehicles and the cybersecurity of connected cars is constantly changing, so I sometimes hesitate to report on the latest and greatest for fear it will be “old news” by the time it is published…but since some of you have been asking…here goes!

  • A company called NuTonomy is testing these vehicles in Boston even though Uber had a crash of its autonomous vehicle in Arizona in March.
  • Legislation has been reintroduced recently dealing with improved cybersecurity for cars (and airplanes). Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal’s proposal hopes to create cybersecurity and privacy standards for today’s connected vehicles, as well as a rating system for cars. Rep. Ted Lieu hopes to prevent attacks on connected cars with his introduction of the Security and Privacy in Your Car Study Act.
  • Intel Corp., wants to dominate technology for self-driving cars with plans to purchase Mobileye NV.
  • Tony Aquila of Solera Holdings is deeply concerned about vehicle owners’ privacy. If not properly protected, the detailed data from technology (including brake sensors) could be used in ways that would not benefit vehicle owners.

Some states are moving ahead with their own rules and regulations hoping that the federal government will start moving forward on such quickly.  The biggest holdup may be the old “who is liable” if things go wrong.

The change is coming… we just don’t know how quickly…





In the News!

23 03 2017

Dale BertramHere are a few interesting news items I wanted to share with my readers!

  • Traffic jams are costly, in both time and money. In the United States the average driver wastes $1200 just by sitting in traffic.
  • Virtual reality experiences may help you buy a car! Forrester predicts that by 2022, the use of a VR headset will let consumers see what it would be like to own a certain vehicle without going through the traditional test drive.
  • An artificial leaf that turns CO2 into fuel could cause fossil fuel to become obsolete! The University of Illinois is researching how to reverse the process of fossil fuels to greenhouse gas by recycling atmospheric carbon into fuel with the use of sunlight. The good news is this sustainable fuel would cost the same as a gallon of gas.
  • Michigan is testing self-driving cars at the American Center for Mobility. This is a 335-acre site strictly used for research and development of these vehicles.  The University of Michigan has a 32-acre site at MCity for the same purpose and Ford has tested vehicles there.
  • Airbus is working on a flying car prototype and hopes to demonstrate it by year’s end. Airbus says this will be a “clean” technology and will make the need for bridge and road construction obsolete, saving billons. This will be a single passenger vehicle.  Makes me think of George Jetson!

We will see where all this goes!  I’ll keep you posted as I hear more.

 

 





Self-Driving Car Updates

2 03 2017

Dale BertramHere is some news on self-driving vehicles:

  • The need to regulate what constitutes a self-driving car is moving forward as states are working to establish regulations for the testing, use and sale of these vehicles. Michigan became the first state to sign legislation. Not surprising, Ford, General Motors, Google, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Uber and Lyft helped.  This legislation allows for a car without a steering wheel or a brake pedal,  and a person does not have to be in the front seat.  Automakers are glad for a start but they prefer, of course, federal legislation rather than a state-by-state approach.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA asked manufacturers to submit a 15-point safety assessment to share what they were doing to ensure the physical safety of consumers as well as their privacy.
  • NHTSA will interpret the “self-driving system” Google has created as “the driver” rather than human occupants of the vehicle. Naturally there are a lot of legal questions when it comes to self-driving vehicles because if anything goes wrong…who is responsible?  It is difficult to “sue” a car or decide whose insurance must pay.
  • Google’s concern when it comes to safety of self-driving vehicles is the human element. They informed NHTSA that if humans try to interfere with steering, acceleration, or braking it could be a hazard to safety.  They prefer the human element be omitted completely from the equation.

We will continue to wait as the legislation is written and rewritten and meanwhile more and more advances into self-driving cars will come into play.  Will this take months or years?

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Software Glitches…Cars Aren’t Immune!

3 11 2016

Dale BertramWe love our technology…when it works properly.  Nothing is more frustrating than software when it has glitches.  Last year, software related problems in vehicles broke records.  Here is what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tells us:

  • In 2015, 615 complaints were reported by drivers to NHTSA
  • In 2016, 202 complaints have already been reported to NHTSA
  • In 2014, 505 complaints were reported to NHTSA
  • Since 2011, there have been a total of 2011 complaints filed with NHTSA

This is problematic because drivers will not want to purchase vehicles they can’t trust and the more complaints logged, the more the lack of trust builds.  This may seem like just a few complaints when we think about how many vehicles are in traffic day in and day out…but on top of the complaints there have been recalls as well.

There have been approximately 200 software-related recalls since 2015.  These recalls have affected over 13 million vehicles!  These software issues have mostly been due to powertrain, vehicle control systems, engine cooling and of course, electrical systems.

Today’s cars have much more electronic hardware than a typical home or office. It’s not unusual to have 100 million or more lines of software code operating all the systems in our cars. Sadly, glitches are proving to be the new normal. On average, there’s an error in as many as one in every five lines of code, something that can prove not just inconvenient but potentially deadly for car buyers.  This is very costly, not to mention embarrassing for automotive manufacturers as well.

Experts warn that rising recalls and consumer complaints need to be taken as a warning. Until the industry can track and fix these glitches swiftly, before accidents occur, consumers will not feel comfortable with the latest and greatest in vehicle technology.

The next questions is, can we feel comfortable with autonomous vehicles when we currently have software glitches like these?  Time will tell.

To find out more about the future of vehicles, visit our website at www.fairwayautorepair.com!

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Fairway Auto Repair





CAN System…Your Car Has One!

25 08 2016

Dale BertramI have written articles many times about the fact that your car is really a computer on wheels. They have up to 100 million lines of computer code and that is more than many jet fighters!  The most basic of vehicles have a minimum of 30 microprocessor-controlled devices.  We call these ECU’s (electronic control units). Luxury cars can have 100 ECU’s!

These processors make it difficult for the average person to work on their own vehicle but it makes it easier for auto repair shops, such as Fairway Auto Repair, as they have made an investment in the right equipment and diagnostic tools in order to translate trouble codes and determine what is actually wrong with your vehicle.

What do all these ECU’s do?  They help meet emissions and fuel-economy standards, do diagnostics, simplify design and manufacturing, reduce wiring, provide safety features, comfort and convenience.

Controlling your vehicle’s engine is the most processor-intensive job and the engine control unit is the most powerful computer in your vehicle. It gathers data from dozens of various sensors and knows all that is going on.  It performs millions of calculations per second. The processor in your car runs more efficient code than that in your PC.

Each module communicates problems to a central module.  The problem is stored and then a technician can read the code using an off-board diagnostic tool.  There seems to be more and more technology going into our vehicles each year so more and more computer code will be necessary.  This is all part of keeping our environment cleaner and reducing the amount of accidents.  As we are moving toward the commercialization of the self-driving car we will find this will increase a great deal.

The CAN (Controller Area Network) also known as CAN Bus enables all the electronic control units to communicate with each other…without a host computer.  This lets the vehicle’s electronic components; control units, microcontrollers, devices, sensors, actuators, and many more talk to each other on a single or dual-wire network.

Your engine management electronic control unit is connected to the transmission electronic control unit, which is connected to the anti-lock braking electronic control unit, and so on!  There are essentially two wires involved; a CAN High and a CAN Low. Why is this important?  They act as a backup for each other in case one fails.  This is why your car can continue to run just fine with the check engine light illuminated.

This is also why we tell you not to keep on driving miles and miles with the check engine light on…it really is telling you that your car needs attention.  You are already down to one wire…if the other one fails you have a problem!  Next time your check engine light illuminates, make an appointment and let our diagnostic technicians get your car back to excellent heath.

Our job at Fairway Auto Repair is to keep Phoenix drivers safe while they are on the go!  To find out more about your vehicle, visit us at www.fairwayautorepair.com!

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