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safety

Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale

As you probably have noticed we have had tons of recalls in the past few months. It started with 10-20 units recalled here and there and culminated with the monstrous 7.4 million units recalled announced by Toyota. And now Maserati is also joining the recalling list with a total of 485 2012 Quattroporte , Granturismo , GranCabrio , and Granturismo MC vehicles.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) may malfunction due to a software error, preventing the driver from being notified of a low tire pressure situation. And if the driver will continue using the vehicle with a tire that has low air pressure, the tire may fail, increasing the risk of a crash.

So, if you drive such a more you should contact your local dealer and you’ll have the TPMS control unit replaced free of charge. The campaign is expected to begin in early November 2012. You may contact Maserati at 1-201-816-2600 in order to find out more details about the recall.

Aston Martin V12 Vantage

Quality and safety took a hit this week as a number of vehicles are headed back to the dealer for some much needed repairs. It started with 432 units of the 2013 SL-Class recalled due to an air-conditioner refrigerant line before the Toyota whammy of 7.4 million units recalled because of a potential malfunction with the power window systems.

Today, the recall affects a total of 169 Aston Martin V12 Vantage coupe models produced between 2010 and 2012. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, those models have failed to conform to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 138, "Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems." "On these vehicles, the low tire pressure warning light will not illuminate until the tire pressure in the front tires is more than 25% below the recommended cold tire pressure." Under certain situations, this problem could lead to tire failure and a possible crash.

From the 169 units, only 148 were delivered to customers, while the other 21 units are being put on hold until the problem is solved. The owners who have received their models are being asked to take their vehicles to the nearest dealer where their car will have the software for the tire pressure monitoring system reprogrammed free of charge.


The number 7.4 million can no longer be singularly attached to the hotel bill a Saudi Arabian princess tried to skip out on back in June 2012. Toyota has just announced that 7.4 million models are being recalled, just 3 million shy of the massive recall the company had to issue back in 2010. Is this history repeating itself and should we all fully lose faith in the popular Japanese brand?

Sorry, drama queens, but this recall is a lot less serious than the sticky accelerator pedals from the 2010 recall. The company is recalling these units because of a potential malfunction with the power window systems. Out of 7.4 million affected models, 2.5 million can be found in the US, 1.4 million in China, and 1.4 million in Europe. This list includes models like the Yaris, Camry, Tundra , and RAV4 produced between 2007 and 2009.

According to an official Toyota press release, the driver’s side Power Window Master Switch (PWMS) may experience a "notchy" or sticky feel during operation. If commercially available lubricants are applied to the switch in an attempt to address the "notchy" or sticky feel, melting of the switch assembly or smoke could occur and lead to a fire under some circumstances. What’s with "sticky" issues at Toyota?

This problem may have been caused by an uneven application of the grease during the switch assembly process at the supplier. If the grease is not applied evenly, frequent use of the switch and normal operation may cause the grease to become carbonized and may eventually result in the deterioration of its lubricating properties.

If anyone is driving one of the models listed after the jump, they should address their local dealer and their car will be repaired in about one hour.

Hit the jump for a full list of US models to be recalled.

The Aston Martin Vantage Carbon Black is one fast piece of machinery, as it features a 6-liter V-12 engine that pumps out 510 horsepower and 420 pound-feet with a top speed of 190 mph. Not many Aston Martin owners ever really sniff that top speed, but when they do, it is typically on a closed course or somewhere that it is permissible, like the Autobahn.

There are two reasons that drivers don’t do this on normal roads: No. 1- it is flat out unsafe and No. 2- you can get into serious trouble. One driver in Belgium named Erik Paris decided to get as close as he could to that top speed on the E17 highway in his home country, and he managed to get his ride up to 292 km/h (181 mph) with his friend filming it. In a fit of stupidity, his friend chose to upload the video on YouTube, which you can see above in all of its “The Doors” blaring glory.

Apparently the authorities in Belgium are well aware of the Interwebz and YouTube, as they managed to dig up the video and nail the driver for this excessive speed. His punishment is pretty hefty too; a 30-month driving ban in the entire country. Actually, the punishment is relatively lax, considering the fact that Belgium law allows a ban of up to 5 years for this moronic act of negligence.

Rumor has it, that following getting busted for this crazy act, Erik sold the Aston Marin. That is likely the wisest move that this man has ever made in his life.

Mercedes Benz SL-Class

Mercedes USA has announced a voluntary recall for 432 units of the 2013 SL-Class roadsters due to an air-conditioner refrigerant line that can tear in a severe frontal crash. The vehicles affected were built from from December 19th, 2011 through May 31st, 2012 and are use the R1234yf refrigerant.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, if the refrigerant escapes from the hose, the gas mixture could be released into the engine compartment and cause a fire.

"Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, conducted product testing of a vehicle not sold in the U.S., but equipped with the same refrigerant. According to Mercedes-Benz, the testing was designed to replicate worst-case conditions expected in a severe frontal crash that would cause a rupture of the air-conditioner refrigerant line. A rupture of a refrigerant line will result in a gaseous mixture of refrigerant being released into the engine compartment. The testing determined that the escaping R1234yf refrigerant may ignite under specific conditions. The resulting fire could spread to additional combustible materials."

Mercedes announced that if someone is driving an affected model, they should address their local dealer who will replace the R1234yf refrigerant with a new, R134a refrigerant.

BMW M6 Coupe

While most people are still waiting to receive their BMW M5 or M6 , BMW North America has just issued a recall for these exact model, at least the ones produced between July 2012 and September 2012. According to BMW officials, a total of 696 vehicles in the US are potentially affected.

According to the official statement, the issue "involves the engine oil pump. The pump driveshaft can separate from the pump rotor. If this were to occur, the engine could experience a sudden loss of oil pressure which could cause severe engine damage."

However, it is very easy for the driver to become aware of the problem. "If the vehicle experiences a sudden loss of oil pressure, a low oil pressure warning indicator is displayed in the instrument cluster, along with a warning message in the control display."

BMW is advising its clients not to drive the M5 or the M6 until the recall is completed. Customers who discover an engine loss to their car are advised to carefully pull over to the side of the road and shut off the engine. In this case, contact BMW Roadside Assistance at 1-800-332-4269. During the recall, deliveries of these models will be stopped.

Source: F10 M5 Post

TOPCAR has popped back into the TopSpeed offices, straight out of Russia, with an all-new bespoke vehicle. Last time we caught up with our Russian custom car friends they were getting their Panamera Stingray 9/25 ready for the 2012 Moscow International Automobile Salon. Now they have delivered us a little more comfort and loads of safety with their Guard upgrade kit for the 2005 through 2013 Mercedes-Benz S600 .

TOPCAR began by stripping this S600 down and adding in bullet-proof glass and paneling to keep its occupants safe. While the armoring is cool and likely costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, we are interested mostly in what the armor is protecting. No, not the occupants, we are talking about that gorgeous interior!

The entire interior covering has been removed and replaced from headliner to floor – yeah, we said the floor too – with an elegant blend of lozenge-textured crocodile, Nappa, and Alcantara leather. Sure, using crocodile leather isn’t the most PETA-friendly thing in the world, but when you have the roughly $100K that TOPCAR put into the interior, you can tell PETA to go save a squirrel. Plus, we’re pretty sure their presence in Russia is nearly non-existent.

The crocodile leather wraps up the seats, doors, dashboard, and floor. Gracing the luggage compartment is diamond-quilted Nappa leather, making a comfortable ride for your golf clubs or whatever else you like to stick in your trunk. With our contact at TOPCAR volunteering that sometimes the term “crazy Russian” is justified, we will leave the other trunk-dwelling objects to your imagination.

You also get a huge amount of custom Karelian birch wood trim to set off all of this beautifully crafted leather. To wrap up the package, TOPCAR replaced all of the Benz’s lowly chrome trim with gold-covered pieces. I mean, you can never rock crocodile leather with chrome trim after Labor Day, right?

“Wow” just about sums up this car. When it comes to tiptoeing the line between fantastically gorgeous and horrendously overdone, TOPCAR toed that line with the expertise we expected. Awesome job!

After upgrading the SLS AMG with a new name and better specs, Mercedes has also opted to replace its Safety Car version with the new Mercedes SLS AMG GT . The new SLS AMG GT Safety Car will be used during the 2012 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix on September 21st, 2nd, and 23rd.

The new Safety Car will be present with an aluminum spaceframe construction that helps keep its total weight down to just 3571 lbs. It will be powered by the same V8 engine found in the standard model, which delivers a total of 591 HP and is mated to an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed sports transmission with optimized shift times. Next to this impressive engine, the SLS AMG GT Safety Car also received a high-performance ceramic composite brake system and weight-reduced AMG 10-spoke forged light-alloy wheels painted in matte black with a high-sheen finish.

As if all of this wasn’t enough to get the fans’ attention, Mercedes has also allowed the Mercedes SLS AMG GT Safety Car to stand out with a number of LED lights and a specially developed rear silencer that provides an even more sensational V8 soundtrack.


Lamborghini is currently working on the successor for the Gallardo - rumored to be called the Cabrera - but the "old" Gallardo just isn’t ready to step out of the spotlight. Lamborghini has just issued a recall for the 2004, 2005, and 2006 model years, stating that some of the power steering hoses are defective which could lead to potential fluid leak. From all the units sold during that period, a total of 1,491 were delivered to the US.

Lamborghini explains that the high pressure hoses for the hydraulically-assisted power steering system may leak in certain driving situations and when this gets in contact with a fluid, a fire could occur.

Each client that is driving a model that is from these model year should contact the closest Lamborghini dealer for a free safety update of the steering system. For more details contact National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at 1-888-327-4236 or Lamborghini at 1-703-364-7042.

Source: NHTSA

On August 31st, the sun spewed a massive coronal mass ejection (CME) that dwarfed the Earth and on September 3rd, it came close enough to Earth to connect with our magnetosphere and cause an Aurora to appear. So what in the world does this have to do with cars? Well, let’s have a look.

In 1859, a huge CME – the last one since, by the way – caused a geomagnetic storm that then caused telegraph systems to fail, shock their operators, and even work while unplugged. Fortunately in those days, they didn’t rely on all of the high-tech things that we do.

Autonomous cars are all the rage lately, as we continue to cover the advances that Google and Cadillac are making in this area. Autonomous cars actually use one of the technologies that Mike Hapgood, a pace weather scientist near Oxford England, says will be hugely affected by a geomagnetic storm of large proportion – GPS.

Imagine if a moderate portion of the cars on the road are using autonomous technology using GPS in some way, like the Google car. People by nature become complacent and comfortable, therefore leading to many of these drivers not paying attention to the road, but instead playing video games, reading the paper, or eating lunch.

If a CME-caused geomagnetic storm should take place and knock out GPS satellites, imagine the massive traffic it would cause, at best. Even worse, it could result in major accidents, should these cars veer off of the road and out of control. That’s a scary possibility that this recent solar flare close call should bring to the forefront. The engineers must devise a backup plan that overrides the GPS part of autonomous driving, should the signal be lost.

This additional engineering process may ultimately delay the public release of these automated cars. If this simply goes by the wayside without any safety measure, besides human intervention, it could cause a serious issue.

Just a little food for thought...

Click past the jump to see two videos of the CME.


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