auto body news Kansas City

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! 

 

Autonomous Driving Steering the Future

Many automakers have recently released their concepts of autonomous cars.  We are astounded by the profound technology that make the autonomous cars a much safer form of driving and ultimately the most efficient driving that the world has ever known.  

We will present some fine details of a few of our favorite autonomous cars and touch on the trust factor.  How many drivers and passengers will truly be comfortable giving ultimate control to their cars?  The stats are in and there is much work to be done to prepare the population for a new way of driving.   

The Swedish auto maker, Volvo, recently reported that they plan to launch their version of self-driving splendor and convenience in 2017 with a goal of 100 vehicles due to drive Swedish byways. Until then we are allowed to take a peek inside one of the most amazing self-driving concepts that we have seen to date. 

Through a study Volvo estimates that people lose approximately 26 minutes of productivity during their daily commute.  The concept packs convenience and efficiency by sporting a driver side digital desktop, with a desktop table and a 25” mega monitor controlled to pop up on the passenger side from a central, front, console touch screen. 

“The system was the first autonomous concept interior placed on a workable platform.” Learn more about this amazing autonomous dream at Yahoo.com/autos.  To see many of the new self-driving concept cars in action around the world check out these awesome videos: https://goo.gl/PhhOJZ.

Now, regarding the trust factor: with new concepts of self-driving cars coming out every year we wondered how many people trust the technology? 

“A Pew report last year showed that less than 50 percent of people wanted to ride in a driverless car. While this is not an insignificant portion of the population, for car manufacturers to fully commit to producing autonomous cars, they clearly will need to work on winning the trust of over half the population. Both Google and Ford have publicly stated that 2020 is a realistic date for when fully autonomous cars will be seen on our roads.”

The leader in building trust in the minds of would be driverless drivers has been primarily Google through their ongoing testing of their cars in California in some of the most congested city driving in America.  They have a strong belief that autonomous vehicles are safer without human intervention.  

Their coaxing has obviously paid off well as a letter posted online in February 2016 stated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave its OK to the idea of a self-driving car without a steering wheel and so forth, that cannot be controlled by a human driver.  Discover more about the details of this very important decree by the NHTSA:  http://goo.gl/bTFNtt.

As we await 2020 we will be focusing on Google’s fleet of autonomous cars as they learn more about the many complicated driving scenarios that plague drivers every day.  Many people around the world have probably already heard about the Google Lexus-model autonomous vehicle ("Google AV") that hit a bus at slow speed last week.  The first to be partly the fault of a Google self-driving car.  No injuries reported, but, precisely why testing and constant tweaking of their autonomous software continues for several more years. Read more about this recent accident at endgadget.com.  

Lastly, as Google’s autonomous functional prototypes have cruised 1 million miles on the roads of California Google experts are continually discovering ways to perfect the genius software that make the future of self-driving cars most promising.  Until then we will keep dreaming of accident free driving that saves time and provides the best of technology without the wheel and worry. 

All about Google’s self-driving cars with monthly progress reports: https://www.google.com/selfdrivingcar/