safety

safety

Tech Review: Automatic Link Makes Diagnostics and Driving Data More Streamlined

Car insurance companies are always trying to find some way to better monitor your driving style and habits to help adjust their premiums accordingly. In fact, yours truly fell for the Progressive scam of plugging a small transmitter into the data port on my Mazdaspeed MX-5 with the promise that I could “save up to 30 percent.” Well, this little gadget sensed every time I tapped the brakes a little too hard or pushed my little turbocharged roadster into a corner just a little harder than usual, then it would beep and upload this information to the company.

Well, after noticing what this gizmo was up to, I quickly unplugged it and overnighted it to Progressive with a thanks-but-no-thanks letter. Well, now more insurance companies are getting into the tracking game with even more technology. In fact, State Farm has taken it a little further by installing an app on your Android 4.0 (or higher) smartphone. According to State Farm this app will collect “basic information about your driving,” but the insurance giant doesn’t offer a bit of info about what it will use this data for.

So, why would you allow your insurance company to track how, when and where you drive? Because they grease your palm, of course; State Farm is offering up a $50 gift card to the first 5,000 volunteers to give up their driving privacy and test the system. In fact, you don’t even have to be a State Farm customer to do this test and get the $50.

We say stay away from this deal and the insurance tracking devices altogether, regardless of how much they choose to offer you in return. Chances are that this information could potentially jack up your car insurance just because you park in a less-than-ideal area semi-frequently or brake a little harder than others. Plus, having your insurance company knowing what you’re up to at any given time is pretty dang scary.

What’s next, health insurance companies strapping devices on us to monitor our food intake and exercise?

The Toyota GT 86 sure is getting a ton of mileage ever since it was introduced last year. The sports coupe’s popularity in the market has even given Toyota the justification to build a special edition GT 86 that celebrates the automaker’s participation at the VLN Endurance Championship this year.

What it didn’t tell us was that the GT 86 Cup Edition would also serve the role as the VLN Endurance Championship’s official pace car, as shown in the pair of photos that were released of the heavily dressed GT 86 Cup Edition.

Officially, it’s called the GT 86 Cup Edition Pace Car and it comes with some features that are unique to it. Thanks to TRD, the GT 86 Cup Edition Pace Car received a new rear diffuser, front and rear aprons, new side skirts, a bigger trunk-lid spoiler, quad exhaust pipes, a stabilizer set, a carbon-fiber strut bar, and last but not least, exterior foil wrapping that separates it and distinguishes itself as the series’ official pace car.

As far as power goes, the GT 86 Cup Edition Pace Car will carry the same 2.0-liter inline four engine that produces 200 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque with a 0-to-60 mph time of 7 seconds and a top speed of slightly over 143 mph.

Click past the jump to read about the Toyota GT 86 Cup Edition

Over the past 15 years, BMW has been the official safety car of Moto GP. The partnership has lasted that long and judging by the recent unveiling of the new safety car for the 2013 season, the bond between BMW and Moto GP are as strong as it’s ever been.

This year, the official safety car of the Moto GP season is a BMW M6 Gran Coupe . Sporting the traditional BMW safety car colors of white matched with strips of red, blue, and light blue, the 6-Series Gran Coupe Safety Car looks like it’s ready to lay down the safety standards for the 2013 season.

Considering that competitors will be on high-powered bikes, this 6-Series Gran Coupe also has a powertrain - a 4.4-liter V-8 twin-turbo engine - that can match wits with those two-wheeled rockets. That engine is good for 560 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque, and mates to a seven-speed M double-clutch transmission. This provides the M6 Gran Coupe a 0-to-100 km/h (62 mph) time of 4.2 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

The BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe Moto GP Safety Car is ready to hit the track when the season officially kicks off this weekend at the Grand Prix of Qatar.

BMW has built a lot of safety cars over the years. Check out a couple of other models that also served as Moto GP safety cars after the jump

We’ve all been there and done that; you’re cruising down the road and the “Check Engine” light pops on. Then you have three choices. Choice No. 1 is simply ignoring the light and risking damaging important components on your car. Choice No. 2 is taking the car to the shop and pay upward of $100 just to have the light diagnosed. Choice No. 3 is to buy your own scanner for $50-plus and hope that you can sort out the problem.

Well, now there is a product named Automatic Link that takes the place of the standard OBD-II scanner and spits out the code that the check engine light was caused by and a general summary of the code right on your Bluetooth-compatible smartphone.

On top of being a rolling and wireless scanner, it also keeps tab on your driving style, mpg and so much more.

Click past the just to read our review on the Automatic Link

Porsche Carrera 4 and 4S

Porsche rarely ever has a recall, but today it has issued one because of a faulty exhaust system that can result in other drivers being in danger.

Porsche North America has issued a voluntary recall for 2012 to 2013 911 Carrera and Carrera 4 vehicles manufactured from March 7, 2012 through November 12, 2012 and equipped with a standard (not sport) exhaust system. According to the recall report, the tailpipe may crack, which can result in the pipe breaking free from the muffler and fall onto the road while you are driving, In such a case, the 911 may become a hazard for other vehicles on the road, increasing the risk of a crash.

Porsche announced that each owner will be notified and local dealers will replace the rear mufflers free of charge. Still, if you drive such a model you are being advised to contact Porsche at 1-800-767-7243.

Source: nhtsa

For the better part of a decade, The Formula One Safety Car has been driven by veteran DTM racer Bernd Mayländer. So when a discussion begins on anything and everything to do with the lineup of Mercedes vehicles that have served as safety cars for F1 races, no one is more qualified to talk about them than Mayländer.

In this video, Mayländer does just that, taking us on a short history lesson regarding the line-up of Mercedes models that have had their turn in silver and emblazoned with F1 decals with matching emergency lights fitted on top of the roof.

From the Mercedes CL55 AMG in 2000 - his first year as F1 Safety Car driver - all the way to the current SLS AMG , Mayländer discusses all his memories from all his babies, recounting the unique qualities of all the cars and even picking his favorite among the bunch.

Spoiler Alert: It’s not the SLS AMG.

And as an added treat, Mayländer, at the end of the video, unveiled the newest F1 Safety Car, the Mercedes SLS AMG GT , which will begin its time on track for the 2013 Formula One season.

Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4

It looks like even the greatest supercars in the world are affected by certain recalls. The latest one comes from Lamborghini who announced a voluntary recall for certain 2012 Aventador models manufactured between July 15, 2011and April 20, 2012 due to a problem with the headlamps.

According to the recall, the 144 units affected are failing to conform to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 108, "Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment." The affected vehicles may have headlights that can be aimed horizontally but not vertically.

Because of this incorrect headlamp aim the driver’s visibility is being reduced and it can also blind oncoming traffic. Either condition may increase the risk of crash.

The safety recall will begin on December 17, 2012. Lamborghini will notify owners, and your local will enable the vertical aiming and disable the horizontal aiming of the headlights, free of charge. If you are driving such a model you are being advised to contact Lamborghini at 1-866-681-6276.

Source: NHTSA
Volkswagen Beetle

That didn’t took too long, did it? Volkswagen USA has just announced a voluntary recall for 2012 to 2013 Beetle vehicles, manufactured from February 2012, through August 2012, and equipped with leather sport seats. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), if the right front passenger seat gets wet, the occupant control module may not properly detect the presence of a child restraint installed in the seat.

In this case, during an accident, the airbag will not turn off and the child secured in the child seat may be at an increased risk for serious injury.

As a result, NHTSA advices everyone driving such a model to call their local dealers. Volkswagen will replace the control modules, free of charge, but until this point VW has not provided a notification schedule for the recall. Owners may contact Volkswagen at 1-800-822-8987 or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153).

Fisker Karma

Yesterday, we let you know that 16 Fisker Karmas went up in flames after they were submerged at a New Jersey port following Hurricane Sandy. We now have Fisker’s official announcement regarding these fires, and it’s actually a little better a situation than we had initially assumed.

According to the report from Fisker, a single Karma caught fire after saltwater left corrosive residue on the vehicle control unit. This component then shorted out and caused a fire. The heavy winds from the Hurricane then spread the flames to the other 16 Karmas parked near it. This means that the other 15 burned Karmas actually survived submersion without catching fire. To us, that’s actually pretty incredible.

Also being reported is that the Karma was not the only vehicle that burned after Sandy beat the hell out of the northeast, as several Toyota Priuses and even a few gasoline-powered cars joined in on the automotive BBQ. Fisker has also debunked the myth that there was an explosion from the burning Karmas and that the lithium ion batteries – one of the more scary parts of electric vehicles – were not a contributing factor in the fire.

Just like we said before, when you add water to electronics, bad things are bound to happen. It’s actually pretty incredible that just one Karma went up in flames as a direct result of being submerged. In case you are thinking Fisker may have “cooked the books” on this investigation, keep in mind that the NHTSA was involved in the investigation.

UPDATE 11/08/2012: After a crazy week at Fisker, our contact was finally able to get back to us and let us know that the Karmas damaged totaled 338 and Fisker is putting through an insurance claim for them. Also, the cars destroyed were simply dealership stock and were not pre-sold vehicles, so no customers will be out of a car. Additionally, the damaged Karmas will not affect Fisker’s normal business operations moving forward.

Fisker also provided us with their full press release regarding the situation.

Click past the jump to read the full presser.

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.


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