What Brands To Trust When Driving Through A Winter Wonderland

Wind, sleet, snow, hail, rain and black ice cause numerous accidents every winter but lack of proper traction and snow tires especially when driving through those conditions caused many accidents as well.

Assuming you don’t read Suomi, the language of Finland that sounds like a mashup of Dutch and Klingon, there are few road signs you will understand when you’re 186 miles above the Arctic Circle. But one announcing that Murmansk, Russia, is 188 miles away gets your attention, reminding you just how far north you are. Murmansk is a Cold War relic on the Arctic Ocean—to Soviet submarine warfare what Cape Canaveral is to spaceflight. These days, the Russian Northern Fleet occasionally moors nearby.

Then another sign we can read pops up on the left: “Test World Oy.” Oh yeah, we’re here to test some winter tires. Murmansk will have to wait. We have a cold war of our own to deal with.

The Test World Mellatracks proving grounds is a facility that offers year-round testing on natural snow, as opposed to the man-made stuff. During winter months it operates like any other automotive proving grounds, but with frozen canals and snow-packed fields standing in for the concrete and asphalt you find at more-temperate venues. In early spring, Test World stockpiles snow, filling its two buildings with about two feet of packed, natural white stuff, enough to last the entire indoor-testing season. We headed up to the refrigerated covered complex in late summer, as we wanted this story to appear in time for you to take advantage of its findings for the winter soon to be upon us.

The Indoor 1 building is a 525-foot-by-52-foot pole barn of packed snow that includes a lane of Zamboni-maintained ice. Indoor 2 contains a 0.2-mile, 30-foot-wide squiggly handling ­circuit. Both buildings have cooling circuits in the floor and chilled forced-air ductwork. On our test day, the inside thermometer read -11, as in degrees Celsius, or 12 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Old Tesla Employees Looking To Sell Electric Vehicles In 2017 With Their New Start Up Company

A new company in the automotive industry vying towards creating the top electric vehicle around may turn things around for the other companies unexpectedly.

Faraday Future, a mysterious electric car startup taking shape in Nissan’s former U.S. sales office in Gardena, said it plans to sell its first vehicle in 2017 and is looking to make a $1-billion investment in a factory.

The company founded by former Tesla Motors employees said Wednesday that it was eyeing several locations, including California, Georgia, Louisiana and Nevada, but is keeping the source of its development funds and ownership secret.

“There is a significant investor who has an international profile and wants the company to stand on its own merits before making the association,” said Stacy Morris, Faraday’s spokeswoman.

The company, which has about 400 employees, sees itself as a rival to Palo Alto electric car company Tesla.

Its leadership team includes Nick Sampson, the head of vehicle and chassis engineering for the Tesla Model S; Dag Reckhorn, a former Tesla senior manufacturing executive; and several engineers and designers who worked on BMW and General Motors electric cars.

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Closer To The Future With Self Driving DeLorean

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Self-driving, flying cars and DeLoreans are dreams of the future we thought of years ago in Back To The Future II, however by the date we predicted we are part way there.

Despite the wishful thinking of the 1989 science-fiction film “Back to the Future Part II,” in which scientist Dr. Emmett Brown and all-American teenager Marty McFly ride a time-traveling DeLorean DMC-12 forward by 30 years to Oct. 21, 2015, those futuristic gadgets still haven’t become a reality. (No matter what Lexus says.)

But on Tuesday, on the eve of what has become known as “Back to the Future Day,” Stanford University researchers unveiled a self-driving DeLorean that can burn rubber under robot control, suggesting the future might not be so dismal after all.

The car, nicknamed Marty after Michael J. Fox’s character in the film, does doughnuts with near-flawless precision. The researchers ultimately want Marty to drift around corners better than any human race car driver, because if self-driving cars are able to function at the limits of grip, they may be able to avoid crashes in extreme scenarios.

“We aren’t literally envisioning roads full of automated vehicles that can produce clouds of white tire smoke,” said Chris Gerdes, the Stanford professor who led the project, “though that would be cool.”

At an event Tuesday evening hosted by special effects guru Jamie Hyneman, co-host of the Discovery Channel TV show “MythBusters,” Stanford released a video of Marty filmed at Thunderhill Raceway Park north of San Francisco.

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United States Worst Drivers and The Greatest Ones Too

How is your driving? Do you have road rage and whip around every car, or do you take your time and make sure to follow every rule in the drivers manual?

With motor vehicle fatality rates on the rise, it’s paramount that motorists take extra precautions on the nation’s highways, especially with the busy Labor Day travel weekend at hand. And statistics suggest if you want to stay safe behind the wheel, stick close to America’s heartland, specifically Kansas City, which has the distinction of being named the top city in Allstate Insurance’s annual Best Drivers Report. The report determined that K.C. motorists are 24.8% less likely than the typical U.S. driver to become involved in a wreck, and manage to spend a leisurely average of 13.3 years between accidents. Other of the safest havens for motorists named in the report include the equally bucolic Brownsville, TX, Boise ID, and Fort Collins, CO.

At the other end of the spectrum, the metro area that’s home to the most dangerous drivers in America is Boston, MA, where motorists are 157.7% more likely than the norm to get in a crash, with an average frequency of one incident every 3.3 years. In fact, of the 10 cities where drivers tend to get in the most wrecks, seven are snuggled away in Northeastern states and the District of Columbia, with the other three situated in traffic-clogged California, including those havens for safe and sane driving, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Still, things may not be as grim as the numbers might indicate. Allstate’s research found that 70 percent of vehicles involved in collisions are considered drivable, which indicates that most claims are the result of relatively minor low-speed (under 35 miles per hour) collisions. Here’s a look at 10 winners and sinners in Allstate’s

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Major Security Flaw In Connected Cars, Must Be Corrected

When driving to work you do not want to worry that your car may be taken over or the information connected to your car may be hacked. So before the population can drive the amazing connected autonomous vehicles these features must be secure.


Connected vehicles hold tremendous potential for improving road safety while simultaneously reducing energy consumption and road congestion through data sharing over the next 10–15 years.


Unfortunately, that potential may never be realized unless there is a dramatic change in the way automakers and suppliers handle cyber security. The recently revealed security vulnerability in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) products with Uconnect telematics systems demonstrates some of the flaws in the current landscape.


Wired.com recently ran a report highlighting a flaw in the Uconnect telematics system discovered by noted white hat security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek. The pair worked out how to remotely connect to the vehicle’s cellular modem, a key component of Uconnect and all other telematics systems. From there, they were able to access a port in the vehicle network that provided entry to vehicle control systems, including steering, braking, and other functions. The article noted that Miller and Valasek notified FCA and waited until a fix was developed before publicly disclosing the flaw. So far, so good.

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Does The Driving Test Really Prove You Can Drive

Young drivers are more at risks then any age for accidents. Although legally they can drive, doesn’t mean that they know how to actually drive in real life situations.

Passing the state driver’s licensing test does not always mean new drivers have the critical skills they need to drive safely, but researchers said they developed a simulator-based assessment that can evaluate performance, licensure readiness and identify specific skills new drivers lack.

“We’re providing the science behind the answer to why teens – and some adults – don’t drive well,” Flaura K. Winston, principal investigator for the research, said in a statement.

The assessment offers the opportunity for the first time to safely assess novice teen drivers’ skills in high-risk driving scenarios that commonly lead to crashes, The Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania said when they announced the news last month.


“Now we are able to ‘diagnose driving’ in order to ensure that we are training and putting skilled drivers on the road,” said Dr. Winston, who is the Center’s scientific director.


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Customization, Making The Interior As Pretty as the Exterior

Each added feature allows you to drive in style. The comfort of your drive should be the deciding factor that sets the car apart from the hundreds of other cars with the same key concepts.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find an ugly car in any showroom these days. The exteriors are that good. It is inside today’s rides where the design story has become more critical to the success of a new vehicle in the marketplace.

The cabin is where you live. The seats must be right for comfort and safety. Sound systems must reproduce music and talk with crystal-clear precision. The technology must be useful, modern, attractive, user-friendly, well executed and most importantly, adaptable to the rapidly changing nature of consumers’ high-tech tools – particularly smartphones, but also tablets and other portable electronic devices.

“If you think about typical differentiators 30 years ago – fuel economy, quality, safety, reliability – those have largely converged,” says Reid Bigland, FCA Canada president and CEO. “Now, design and style are playing a much more prominent role.”

The best cabins have excellent but subtle detailing – wood, chrome, aluminum trim, rich stitching – and while that visual appeal is an important factor in buying decisions, today a car must have simple-to-operate Bluetooth connectivity, and it must pair deftly with your smartphone.

Your car is no longer just a tool to get you from here to there, but a full-fledged technology platform. With 2.3 billion smartphones in use globally, consumers are demanding seamless integration with their vehicles – whether it’s an Apple or an Android phone or anything else that may come into fashion during the lifetime of a vehicle.

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Researchers find Breathing Polluted Air Diminishes Cognitive Abilities

Air pollution harms more than our lungs. European researchers have found that breathing polluted air also impairs brain function.

Scientists have known for a while that reduced lung function can have harmful effects on our brains, and they’ve thought that pollution hinders our cognitive response through this lung connection.

What’s interesting about this latest study, which comes from a coalition of German and Swiss researchers, is they’ve found pollutants can hurt brain function independently of a connection to the lungs.

“Our findings disprove the hypothesis that air pollution first decreases lung function and this decline, in turn, causes cognitive impairment by releasing stress signals and humoral mediators into the body,” said Mohammad Vossoughi, a PhD student at the Leibniz Institute for Environmental Medicine.

The result raises questions about how air pollution has such direct effects on the brain, and Vossoughi is careful to emphasize the need for future research. But he postulated that pollutants and particulate matter – small particles of smoke and dust from engines and exhaust – impact the central nervous system through our sense of smell.

Researchers culled data from a previous study on aging that involved 834 German women. They tested the association between impaired lung function and cognitive decline.

Cars and trucks, of course, are a leading source of these pollutants. Estimates indicate that pollution spewed from vehicles kills about 53,000 people in the United States every year, according to research from MIT. That’s more than the approximately 33,000 who die in car accidents.

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How To Find A Good Mechanic In Your Neighborhood

Wherever you are located, you likely have at least a few car mechanics to choose from. How can you tell which one is more affordable or reliable than the next? Here are some simple ways to find the right car mechanic for your car maintenance or repair.

Based on annual surveys, we find consumers generally have a higher level of satisfaction with independent shops over car dealerships.

If your car is under warranty, you will still need to go to a dealership for warranty repairs, but you won’t need to go to the dealership for routine maintenance. Under federal law you have the right to have repairs performed anywhere you like without voiding the warranty.

But identifying a mechanic you can trust for your car takes a lot more than letting your fingers do the walking. You have to do a little old-fashioned sleuthing. There’s no single clue to what makes a good repair shop, but here are some things you should look for.

Find a shop for your brand of car

Many garages specialize in certain makes. Those that focus on your type are more likely to have the latest training and equipment to fix your vehicle.

Ask your family and friends

Especially seek recommendations from those who have a vehicle similar to yours.

Search the Internet

Look for information about local mechanics on Angie’s List, the Consumer Reports car repair estimator, and the Mechanics Files at Cartalk.com. Cartalk.com provides those services free, Angie’s List requires a subscription, the car repair estimator is free for Consumer Reports’ online subscribers.

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What Makes a Driver Terrible?  

Everybody knows at least one bad driver. This could be someone you have sat beside as they drive, someone at an intersection or, someone speeding by you on the highway. Everybody has to deal with bad drivers. But what do they do that really makes them bad drivers?

Here are 10 habits they may display. You might even have one of these habits and not even know it.

10) Straddling the Line

Other drivers can’t figure out what you’re trying to do, and are hesitant to pass you because they aren’t sure if you’ll be moving left or right. Also, if you’re paying so little attention that you’re driving along straddling lane lines, other drivers will have less confidence that you’ll notice and avoid hitting them.

9) Not Handling Intersections Correctly

You pull up to a four-way stop at almost the same time as another car that’s perpendicular to you. They got there a couple seconds before you, but they wave you through in order to be nice. If it’s just you and the other car, there isn’t a problem. But if there’s a lot of other traffic, not following the rules of the road can confuse and frustrate other drivers — and possibly cause an accident.

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