auto body news Kansas City

Maps V GPS

GPS is incredibly convenient and fairly reliable; however, it isn’t foolproof. Besides the obvious possibility of losing signal while trying to navigate in an area you don’t know there’s also the possibility that you could be sent slightly off course.

There have been plenty of stories of people ending up in precarious situations directly led by GPS. From being led down a flight of stairs into a park to being led directly into a lake, there are enough similar accounts of what can go wrong when we don’t rely on other means of getting to where we want to be. This is when the age-old act of using a map can come in quite handy.

Imagine this, you are on a little highway somewhere in Missouri, west of Illinois, north of Arkansas and heading to Kansas City. Your GPS instructs you to take a left onto an even smaller road that begins as blacktop, then becomes an even smaller dirt road until you slam on the breaks right before the front tires reach the waters edge of a shallow but moving river. The female voice on the GPS repeats, “follow the route.” Obviously, this is not a viable option. So you turn the car around and go back to the little highway where you began hoping she will give you a new way home. Instead, she once again instructs you to turn left back on the road that will once again lead you to the shallow moving river. Yes, this is a personal experience. Thank goodness I had purchased a map at the last stop. Combing the use of the map with the GPS got me home and reminding me of the value of human ingenuity especially when used alongside human created technology.

Beyond ensuring safe travels, recent studies have shown there is an even more important reason to know how to use a map, or even have a general understanding of where you are in respect to north, south, east and west.  Spatial mapping is innate to us as humans and a necessary exercise for our brains. If you’ve ever seen an arm or a leg straight out of a cast you were likely shocked at how tiny that arm or leg had become. Simply walking and lifting simple items keeps our muscles intact, having an extremity in a cast for any length of time prevents those muscles from being used, soon all you have is the mass of the bone. The brain works in a similar way. Specific types of critical thinking exercises our brains and keeps our brain muscles strong and healthy. Spatial mapping is one of those necessary exercises. Using a map, memorizing that turning right at the big oak tree gets you to Grandma’s house or turning left past the gas station gets you to church are ways to maintain our spatial mapping abilities.

I was shocked this last spring when my son told me he was making social media posts during a tornado warning to make sure his friends understood that they were in the path of the moving storm. He explained that most of his friends don’t know where they are in terms of where anything else is. If a storm is moving due  east at 40 miles per hour and is currently in Kansas City south of I-70, it is likely to hit Independence then Buckner then Levasy and so on. If you don’t understand where you are, you won’t anticipate the storm until the sirens go off. If you don’t understand where you are and your GPS stops working you’ll have nothing to rely on to get you back on tract.

It reminds me of a time years ago a group of our friends decided to explore a large National Forest. Around a mile in someone asked if anyone had a compass. One of our friends pulled a compass from her pocket, however, that was the first time she had looked at it. We had nothing to reference to. Thank goodness another friend had paid attention to the placement of the sun from the point we left the car and walked into the woods.

Yet another story of the benefits of both the new ways and the old. Keep using your GPS technology along with that good old fashioned folded up map in bottom of the glove compartment. Pay attention to what you see outside as you drive. You’ll be less likely to get lost and when you get older, your brain will thank you.

Blog By: Allison Green

 

 

Managing Vehicle Recalls

There’s a little stack of recall notices on my small desk in the kitchen. At least one for each vehicle each family member owns. Two for the Jeep, three for the Toyota, two for the Dodge and one for the Ford. I’m pretty sure everyone’s airbags are recalled at this point.

It seems hardly a day goes by without the evening news including a vehicle recall notice, most recently that Kia and Hyundai engines can catch on fire.  I wonder, were these defects not noticed years back? Maybe it was harder to find owners to send the notices to if they were, or has the fast-paced world of pumping out the latest and greatest caused quality control to go out the window altogether?  

As it turns out there are two answers, and they both confirm that yes, we are seeing more recalls than decades past. The first reason is that, just like every complex machine we own from washing machines to motorcycles, many of the parts that make up these machines are coming from the same manufacturer. Brands are names and logos with some defining characteristics in what the products looks like on the outside, though under the hood and beyond the dashboard many of the gidgets and gadgets that make the machine run are somewhat standard issue. Take the washing machine for instance; you have a box with a drum inside. You push buttons or turn knobs at the top of the box, put the clothes in the drum, and viola- you’ll soon have clean clothes. Most washing machines spin that drum of dirty jeans into clean pants via a motor, pump, belt, transmission, and a computer board. Back in the day most of these components were made by the manufacturer of the box, the one with the brand and the logo. Today, that motor might be made by company ABC and happens to be the same company that makes the motors in half a dozen washing machine brands. Same story with the rest of the parts that make the drum spin. Vehicle manufacturing is no stranger to this modern mode of mass production.

A great example of this is the Takata Air Bag. Twenty-two separate vehicle manufactures are listed as having Takata air bags, I couldn’t find the list of how many in total have their air bags recalled or not. This is just one example how one part on one make/model could be a small part of a recall on thousands of parts in dozens of makes and models. The air bag recall affected 42 million vehicles made by everyone from Chrysler to Volkswagen.  Which leads us to the second reason we’re getting so many notices of these recalls- it’s too dangerous to not pay attention.

Too many recalls were being discovered after the defect had caused a tragedy. This lead to a demand for more oversight into the safety of our vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stepped up its efforts to find defects before more people got hurt. Now, it is up to us as car owners to stay on top of getting those recall issues taken care of.  It is also important not to assume that if you haven’t received a notice you don’t have a recall. 

Experts suggest checking your VIN number for possible recalls becomes a maintenance habit. Checking each time you change your oil for example will ensure you are staying on top of things. Heck, since we’re already thinking about it why not check now? Click here to enter the NHTSA recall search site. I need to get off this computer and get those appointments made.

 Blog by: Allison Green

 

Road Rage!

Oh, that moment your adorable toddler is sitting on the staircase, Frisbee in hand pretending to drive.  Soon his/her right foot jaunts out towards an imaginary brake followed by a few choice words... yes, that came straight from you.

It’s a crazy world we live in and almost everything we do involves taking to the concrete wilds otherwise known as the highway system. Here we join hundreds, maybe thousands of other humans in giant machines made of steel, plastic, and aluminum with nothing between us but the hopeful sensibility of each person in the driver’s seat.  When it all goes wrong and we react hitting the brake or swerving or speeding up to avoid a crash we are at that point experiencing subconscious behavior.  This goes back to our more instinctual days of human existence. Our lovely brains come fully equipped with a survival section and when the body decides it is needed, it takes over. Our steering wheel gripping, hand throwing, horn-beating is the same fight or flight stress reaction as when one of our ancestors realized he/she was being chased by a hungry saber-tooth tiger. 

For most of us, this split second experience ends at this point leaving us with a dizzying head and maybe a fast heart rate or shaking that we know is going to quite possibly still be with us when we reach our destination. It’s when it doesn’t end like this that we get road rage.

According to the NHTSA 2000 report on road rage; two main contributing factors to aggressive driving are running late and traffic delays. Safe Motorist reports the following statistics:

  • 218 road rage murders in seven years
  • 66% auto related deaths result from aggressive driving
  • A gun is present in 37% of these altercations

Sadly, a sense of being disconnected from one's community is considered the catalyst in many of these situations. We sometimes forget that those drivers are real people. People that we pass at the grocery store, sit near at a restaurant or visit with in line at the DMV.  When we get behind the wheel we are not suddenly in a movie or a video game. It’s real life all the time.

So what can we do when confronted with an aggressive driver? The same thing we do when we don’t like the weather, understand we have no control. The kindergarten lesson, two wrongs don’t make a right couldn’t be more appropriate. Know we can’t control the other driver, take a deep breath, don’t make eye contact and don’t respond.

Being a stickler for the speed limit and living out in the country, it is a common occurrence for some vehicle to seemingly appear out of thin air only to attach itself to my rear bumper.  It’s okay to pull over to a safe spot on the road and wave them past. Don’t let someone else’s decision to miss out on living each beautiful moment take away yours.

As for the toddler on the staircase, I remind myself that someday I’ll be old. Someday it will likely take me longer to turn into a parking lot or even make it to the minimum speed limit. In that someday the toddler might be behind me. Setting a better example for the next generation is a pretty good investment in a future of safer roads.

By Guest Blogger: Audrey Emrick Elder

2017 Auto Design Summed Up In One Word - Technology

It feels like a recent memory that Auto Technology meant having a CD player instead of a tape deck.  Previous to that, we had a portable CD player that plugged into the cigarette lighter with a cassette tape popped into the car’s tape deck.  One bump and that ever so fun music jam was over.  Just twenty years later, 2017 is proving that auto technology is far from ceasing to surprise us in improving our driving experience.

So let’s start with the ever present device of the times, the smartphone. Automakers have found new ways to make the smartphone experience safer while driving by integrating the technology into our vehicles and for good reason. Smartphone use while driving is attributed to 26% of all car accidents. According to ATT, texting alone causes 1.3 million crashes a year, and this doesn’t include gaming, app use, checking in on social media, video chat, and web searches.

The Providence of Newfoundland, Canada began banning cell phone use while driving in 2003. Today, all ten provinces have strict driving with cell phone laws. Touching your phone while driving in Ontario will result in a $490 - $1000 fine.

Here in the United States as recent as September of this year, California extended its cell phone/driving laws to include banning all uses of a cell phone. To our health, and, longevity 2017 autos bring even more hands-free options for that cell phone than ever before.

Photo Credit: Chrysler Pacifica -  http://www.nwitimes.com

Photo Credit: Chrysler Pacifica - http://www.nwitimes.com

Addressing this issue, and one up-ing smartphone/vehicle technology, we now have… Onboard Infotainment.  Which is, basically, everything you love about your smartphone in that center spot of the car where only your stereo used to reside. A simple, touch screen access to Bluetooth, social media, GPS navigation and more. The Bluetooth technology even allows connecting to your favorite online commercial-free music such as Jango or Pandora. 

This technology is too new at this juncture to analyze if it’s less a distraction overall than actually touching a phone while driving, although as of today it is a legally allowable way to continue communicating with the outside world as you drive by it.

A few other new technologies coming to a dealer near you include:

  • Predictive Forward Collision Warning system
  • Improved Smartphone Infotainment Integration
  • Smartphone Vehicle Management
  • Self-Parking Systems

Ford, Lincoln, Toyota, Lexus and BMW all have new Self Parking technology. Thus far, my system of landing a parallel parking spot has been to keep driving until a more convenient parking spot appears.  The 2017 Ford Super Duty Pickup Truck has at least SEVEN cameras to make anyone look like an expert parker. 

Also look to see more vehicles with Predictive Forward Collision Warning systems and smart braking technology. Those capabilities are sure to help avoid accidents, an August 2016 report from AAA, states it is best to still keep you as the driver in control of the brakes.

For more mind-blowing details on what to expect in 2017, check out the following links:

Whereas it may still be a few years before the standard vehicle drives itself like that awesome car from Night Rider, we are every year closer to living like the Jetsons than we ever thought possible.

By Guest Blogger: Audrey Elder - See more of Audrey's blogs at Past to Present Research 

 

 

Hail Hail Go Away...Don't Come Again Another Day!

Have you ever experienced hail damage on your beloved vehicle? Not a pleasant experience to find that your car has been pounded by hurling ice pellets from the sky! Hail damage can be a costly problem.  At Richards' Collision Center we lead the industry in successfully repairing many hail damaged vehicles at this time of year in the Midwest saving our customers time and money.

Most hail damage repair takes about 1/2 the time of a conventional repair. We use a PDR (Paintless Dent Removal) technique that saves the factory paint of most vehicles with out the need to repaint.  Different types of tools of the trade assist us in gently massaging out minor dents and dings to restore the vehicle to its original factory condition and beauty.  

If the vehicle has severe hail damage a conventional repair still may be necessary.  A conventional repair requires the removing of panels that requires painting to match the factory finish. 

In addition, we offer the same helpful lifetime warranty on hail damage repair vehicles as we do on our conventional repairs.  We also work directly with your insurance company for your convenience. 

At Richards' Collision Center you will find a 12,000 sq. ft. state of the art facility with a secure parking lot and video surveillance.  Our combined technician's experience is well over 100 years with an efficient, friendly staff in-office with a combined experience of over 60 years!               

We offer FREE onsite vehicle estimates within the KC Metro area and encourage you to give us a call at 816.767.0707 if Hail Damage befalls your truck or car this year! Safe and happy travels!