Posts Tagged ‘cars’
All hail the car seat that detects heart attacks! The motor company Ford has unveiled a car seat that can detect when the driver is having a heart attack, therefore allowing the vehicle to come to a safe stop.
Heart attacks are clearly a thing in Fords, so this is an issue that obviously needs sorting.
Using ‘electrocardiograph’ (heart-monitoring) sensors in the seats to detect an irregular heartbeat, combined with an in-car camera that detects when the driver slumps in his seat, the car can activate automated steering and braking systems to bring the car to a stop safely when there’s a problem.
It can then ring the emergency services for you if you’re so inclined. Or not, if you’d prefer to simply perish in your automobile.
Ford’s Research Centre director, the splendidly named Pim van der Jagt, told the FT that the technology is developed for when “100-year olds driving cars will not be abnormal in the future. About 30% of people above 65 have some kind of heart irregularity. And with the number of older car buyers set to rise dramatically this is an area of concern.”
Ford is yet to reveal when exactly this technology can be made available, as there’s no actual date of release yet, but Mr van der Jagt believes it will be in all new models within the next few years.
The Japanese car manufacturer is recalling 1.75 million vehicles worldwide because of three separate defects including a faulty brake master cylinder that could hinder the brake’s performance.
So which vehicles are affected?
The defect is found in some models of Toyota’s Crown Majesta as well as the Noah and Voxy models produced between June 2007 and 2012. There’s also issues with the Corolla Rumion and Auris, as well as more than a dozen Lexus models.
So if you bought one of them or are currently sat traffic reading this on your phone, you’ve been warned.
Importantly, Toyota have said in a statement that they are not aware of any accidents, crashes, injuries or fatalities caused by this fault.
This comes after Toyota recalled 6.39 million vehicles globally in April and then, two months later, the company recalled another 2.3 million vehicles for faulty airbag inflators. They’ve not been having a good year, in fairness.
Toyota should be getting in touch with owners, but if you can’t wait, you should get in touch with your local Toyota dealer to see what they say or check here on their recall website.
The only registered vehicles in the UK (we’re leaving the other vehicles affected in the article for overseas readers) are the Lexus IS, GS and LS models manufactured between January 2005 and September 2010.
Owners of these cars will be contacted by Lexus within the coming weeks by post or telephone and asked to make an appointment to bring their car to their nearest Lexus Centre, in accordance with Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) guidelines. The work needed to fix the problem will take a “three to four hours to complete and will be carried out free of charge.”
You can call the customer helpline on 0800 1388744. For access to the full statement, please visit this link.
This is said to be a help in cracking down on road deaths by those ne’er do wells who text at the wheel.
Police will now check if the motorist has broken the law and possibly been in any way responsible for the accident, and mobiles will now be taken away by officers as evidence.
The Police have said that they must do this due to the growing numbers of fatalities on the road, and this follows stiffer punishments for people who use their mobile at the steering wheel.
The move was welcomed last night by charities and pressure groups who have accused police and politicians of failing to make road safety a priority.
Of course, there are some people who aren’t into the idea, claiming that a mild car-park-shunt could result in phones being confiscated. Also that confiscating phones could delay help.
Although one can imagine that in a motorway pile up, the first thing the police would be concentrating on is confiscating phones.
There is perhaps a logical way to look at how to do this. If a driver has had an accident and the time of the accident matches up with when they sent a text or were gassing on the phone, then yes, this is a very good idea.
If someone is using the phone while manouvering about in a car park, then they are just thick, and shouldn’t be let out of the house.
The phone checks will apply to any accident. Previously they were made only in accidents where people were killed or seriously injured.
More than 500 people a year are killed or injured by people being thoughtless shits at the wheel, and half the time no charges are pressed against the driver, even if they were found to be in the wrong.
About time too.
Thousands of learners are getting points for basic speeding or red light misuse, according to a Freedom of Information request, which also reveals 54,000 L-plated types currently have points on their licences.
A third of the people surveyed believe that the driving instructor should be held more responsible for the points, especially as they’re, like, supposed to be teaching people to drive properly.
Other learners have received penalty points for not having any insurance or driving carelessly.
Data from the DVLA revealed 53,988 learners with provisional licences currently have penalty points, and research by Confused.com found 60% of these are for speeding and a further 43% were for jumping a red light.
Gemma Stanbury of Confused.com said: “We’re aware that people might make mistakes along the way as they learn to drive, however practising road safety is an important part of the process, and picking up bad habits such as speeding or jumping lights before officially passing your driving test is never a good way to start.”
One in three drivers were unaware that it was possible to pick up penalty points while they learn, and 40% oblivious to the realisation that if you pick up six points within your first two years of driving, they lose their licence.
And that’s not good really. No one wants that.
Sales of petrol fell to a record low in March, as drivers abandoned their cars to do other things, like pay energy bills, feed their children and buy scratch cards in the vain hope that they’ll win £2.
Government figures showed that 1.367 billion litres of petrol were bought in March – a fall in demand of 24.7%. The only similar low figure in recent years was 1.376 bn litres last March. Back then, though, you could see the reason – March 2013 was freezing cold with petrol prices at a sky high £1.40 a litre. But this year was warm, with prices at a steady £1.30 a litre.
So what’s causing us to ditch the car? Well, AA boss Edmund King blames our boilers. He said (well, to be honest, he waffled):
‘Either the fear or reality of gas and electricity price surges has triggered an avoid-the-petrol-pump backlash to balance family spending, or the trauma of speculator-driven road fuel price spikes over more than three years has seared into the psyche of the UK driving consumer.’
We may find out in the next couple of months as the boilers and heaters are turned off – and drivers look forward to summer motoring and trips out.’
Ah, yes, summer motoring….with the hood down and a flagon of ginger beer in the picnic hamper.
Marvellous. (Oh, wait, we can’t do that, because the bailiffs repossessed the car. Oops.)
The Skoda Yeti has taken the top slot for the third year running in the Auto Express Driver Power poll, scoring high on reliability, build quality and running costs.
Second place went to Citigo, which was also crowned best small car and most affordable to run.
Third went to the peculiarly named Superb – well it sounds a bit nuts “My car is SUPERB” etc – but it’s a saloon and all that, and you don’t go around calling yourself Superb without reason, like some small-dicked nobber.
Here are the top ten cars in the Auto Express Driver Power 2014 awards – along with their satisfaction rating:
1. Skoda Yeti – 92.78%
2. Skoda Citigo – 92.62%
3. Skoda Superb – 91.68%
4. BMW 5 Series – 91.45%
5. Kia Rio – 91.11%
6. MG6 – 90.92%
7. Toyota Prius – 90.90%
8. BMW 1 Series – 90.84%
9. Renault Captur – 90.84%
10. Kia Cee’d – 90.81%
So there you go. That’s your cars.
We’ve put together a gallery so you can identify these things should you see them. We’re afraid we can’t return your pictures, but there is a prize for each one shown.
Ok, so you haven’t put in any screenwash for a while, and you’ve got a Blackpool Pleasure Beach sticker on the windscreen, and you haven’t washed it since Christmas. So what? There’s no way your otherwise perfectly good vehicle would fail its MOT for THAT, right?
WRONG. Whatcar.com has found that test centres are regularly failing cars for very simple and avoidable faults. Out of 285,000 MOT fails, 4649 of them were because people hadn’t topped up screenwash. And 2852 drivers failed their MOTs because their cars were filthy and full of old KFC boxes and empty coffee cups.
Usually cars fail their MOTs for balding tyres, wrongly aimed headlights and worn down brake pads. But drivers regularly throw away the £45 MOT charge by not cleaning their cars before they head to the garage. Emma Butcher from whatcar.com said:
‘There are some really simple things that every motorist can do to help a three-year-old car pass its first MOT test, but it’s amazing how many people don’t do them. Many people probably don’t even realise that MOT testers can refuse to test your car if it’s too dirty or full of clutter.’
Time to take that dirty pair of knickers off the gear stick and buy yourselves a Magic Tree, you skanks.
Volvo have gleefully announced their new “human machine interface” which will be shown off at the Geneva Motor Show.
You get a screen embedded into your dashboard which is divided into tiles. Most prominently, there’s information on navigation, media and stuff about your car and secondary features for messing about with your phone and the temperature of your vehicle.
Volvo say that this new dash ‘reduces visual noise’. To you, it looks like someone put a tablet in the dashboard, which is pretty snazzy.
Seems, thanks to a crackdown, your motor will now face INSTANT FAILURE when you get your MOT done thanks to those kindly souls at the Department for Transport.
Modern diesel cars are fitted with a DPF thanks to European rules which said we all had to filter nasty nonsense and reduce emissions. It’s good for the environment and good for your car tax.
Alas, these filters are expensive to maintain and they need replacing often. As such, some drivers have had the DPF removed. Now, if you don’t have the filter in, like you’re supposed to, MOT testing stations will have to fail your MOT. And then you’ll have to get one installed. And maintain it. It’s going to cost you a lot of money, basically.
Robert Goodwill, roads minister, said: “I am very concerned that vehicles are being modified in a way that is clearly detrimental to people’s health and undoes the hard work car manufacturers have taken to improve emissions standards. It has become apparent the government had to intervene to clarify the position on particulate filter removal given the unacceptable negative impact on air quality.”
“This change to the MOT tests makes it clear – if you have this filter removed from your car it will fail the test.”
Of course, the irritating thing is that DPFs don’t work properly unless you’re driving your car at a constant speed for around 20 minutes, as it needs to warm up. So even if you do have one and are only nipping to the shops and back, or in stop-start traffic a lot, it isn’t really helping the environment at all.
Not that this matters. The Department for Transport want you to have one and they won’t be budged.
Recently, HMRC announced that, to try and combat tax avoidance, they would start asking for contested tax up front while they decided whether the tax would end up being payable or not. Simple idea but possibly not-to-easy to enforce. We think HMRC are going about this all the wrong way. They need to take a leaf out of the books of an increasing number of tax authorities around the world and offer us, the people, high-end incentives to shop those not paying tax.
Portugal is the latest country to announce a ‘tax lottery’, where ordinary citizens can win a luxury car (unofficial estimated cost to the Portguese taxpayer, €90,000 each) simply by asking for a receipt for a cup of coffee or a haircut.
The black market in Portugal is, described as problematic (at almost a fifth of total output), with a great number of traders not registering with the tax authorities, and therefore never paying any tax. By incentivising customers to ask for an official receipt, complete with tax registration number, Portuguese revenue officials are confident the increase in receipts will more than outweigh the cost of the 60 cars a year being offered as prizes from April.
Tax experts say the measure is designed to appeal to Portugal’s penchant for gambling – the country is one of the biggest spenders per capita on EuroMillions, and to the social prestige attached to expensive cars. The fast lane on Portuguese motorways is sometimes nicknamed the “Mercedes lane”.
However, “If someone needs a plumber or an electrician, I suspect they’ll still be attracted by the discount resulting from not being charged VAT,” said John Duggan, a Portugal-based tax adviser, talking to the FT. “They’d be able to buy a lot of ordinary lottery tickets with the money they save,” he added sagely, charging €200 for this advice*
The idea is new to Portugal, but is not new around the world. A similar lottery run in the state of São Paulo in Brazil provided Portuguese inspiration and comparable schemes are used in Argentina, Colombia, Puerto Rico and Taiwan. It isn’t even the first such scheme in Europe, with Slovakia’s version offering cash and cars in a tax lottery being run sucessfully since last year.
So could we see National-Lottery-Style adverts from HMRC in future? It could be you driving a nice car for shopping your mechanic to the taxman. Better hope it doesn’t break down…
*not really. This is an accountant joke.
Say you have tons of annoying kids and you need to ferry them around all the time because they’re too young/lazy to learn to drive. You’re going to need a big car. But you can’t afford a new big car, so you have to buy a used big car. So which big used car are you going to buy?
Buying a used car is usually a nightmare involving Gumtree, general dodginess and having to talk to someone who looks like Frank Butcher in a freezing car lot. So Which! has decided to take some of the awfulness out of it and tell you the best model for the job.
Generally speaking, Japanese models are most reliable, with some scoring 90% in the Which! survey. And the winner is? The Toyota Prius – that most sensible and unsexy of hybrid cars. As well as being good for the environment, it’s so reliable that it has an annual repair bill of just £14 and a breakdown rate of only 5%.
Of course, you’ll also want to know which one is the stinker. That would be the Peugeot 407, which is the least reliable in the survey. Buy one of these and you can look forward to £391 worth of annual repair bills, as well as suspension faults, bad air conditioning and braking problems. In fact, the scrap yard is too good for it.
So now you know. When the kids grow up you can get a divorce and buy a Mazerati, but until then, you can get your kicks doing donuts round the Sainsbury’s car park in a used Prius. Exciting.
If you’re unlucky enough to find your car wheel-deep in floodwater, you would think your friendly breakdown service would give you a hand out of there. But er, no.
Drivers who’ve broken down on flooded roads have been finding themselves getting short shrift from breakdown companies, because quite a few of them don’t cover flood damage – instead they ask for a £150 fee to tow you away from the flow.
Scott Kelly from GoCompare warned: ‘Drivers need to be aware that the cover available from breakdown companies varies considerably. If you are unlucky enough to encounter flood water, don’t automatically assume your breakdown company will rescue you for free.’
Obviously, getting your car waterlogged is NOT GOOD, and it can completely bugger up your engine. And if this happens to you, you have to try and get the money back from the insurer – which will also bugger up your no claims bonus.
The advice is to check your policy for exclusions. Some policies, particularly with the AA, can be very vague – so go through it with a fine tooth comb, Or, if life is just too short, take the easiest option and switch to Green Flag. They’re the only major breakdown company that will fish you out for free – unless you’ve done a Jason Bourne and driven off a bridge into a deep river, in which case it’ll cost you. (If you’re not dead.)
The good news is their flood policies could change in the future. The RAC have already said it will scrap any fees for flood affected cars – and if the weather keeps getting worse, others will probably have to follow suit…
In Britain, it’s more expensive to run a car than anywhere else in the world. Yes, your little Honda Jazz costs more to run than Justin Beiber’s pimp mobile, or Bret Michaels’ souped up RV full of dirty ladies.
On average we pay £3453 a year to stay on the road, which is a grand more than the Americans and the French, and £2000 less than the Chinese, who are scooting about on the cheap and living it up.
Webuyanycar.com took motoring costs from 21 countries and found that we shell out 27p a mile on average – paying more for fuel, tax and insurance. And of course, the thing we’re spending the most on is petrol. A whopping £2256 a year goes on filling the damn thing up.
Only Denmark and Switzerland came close to our prohibitive car costs. But the cheapest place to run a car is Saudi Arabia, where it costs the princely sum of £237.32 a year to own a car. But of course, they do have all the oil. And women aren’t allowed to drive, so that cuts costs for the oppressed ladies straight away.
Do you want a depressing table of costs? Thought so. Happy motoring!
1. UK £3,453.66
2. Netherlands £3,370.42
3. Switzerland £3,321.80
4. Italy £2,966.69
5. Portugal £2,914.63
6. Germany £2,856.04
7. France £2,538.82
8. USA £2,425.36
9. Spain £2,421.87
10. New Zealand £2,387.20
11. Australia £2,128.24
12. Canada £1,828.65
13. India £1,805.94
14. Russia £1,727.82
15. Japan £1,628.38
16. China £1,315.12
17. South Africa £1,280.18
18. UAE 672.01
19. Qatar £527
20. Argentina £269.92
21. Saudi Arabia £237.22
Volvo have decided to put out an advert starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Of course, vaguely depressing, half-tragic figures from the 80s are making decent money through adverts at the moment, thanks to appalling cod-nostalgia and irony. Kevin Bacon has been on the box looking pristinely haggard, while Mr T likes Snickers.
JCVD has been promoting awful American beers thus far, but now, he’s showing off Volvo’s Dynamic Steering System with his legs.
Impressively, this stunt is real and a Volvo rep confirmed that the shot was done in just one take.
If you want to peer behind the curtain, Van Damme was protected by safety lines not visible in the final video and small platforms on the trucks’ mirrors helped prop his feet up. Other than that, what you see is a man doing the splits on two moving vehicles, for real.
Of course, Volvo could’ve gone with some cool, young ninja or something, and went for someone who hasn’t been cool for over 20 years, making them look a bit duddery. Either way, the end result is pretty badass.
According to MPs, motorists who appeal against what they believe to be an unjust parking ticket should still be given a 25% discount, even if they lose their appeal. This idea has come about in a bid to help drivers to feel more at ease when challenging tickets and would put an end to the process that gives you a discount for paying it immediately, whether you’re guilty or not.
There should also be a 5 minute ‘grace period’ before having a ticket slapped on the windscreen and that CCTV should be stopped from spying on motorists to stop everyone from being looked at like they’re ‘wallets n wheels,’ they added.
Not only that, we shouldn’t have to appeal against parking tickets where tribunal adjudicators have noticed repeat problems, such as poor signage and the like.
In essence, it looks like this is an attempt to put an end to cowboy councils and parking firms who are rinsing everyone. To bring some kind of fairness and transparency, councils could soon be asked to publish annual parking-charge reports to show where their income comes from and how it is being used, according to a report by the House of Commons’ Transport Select committee.
The use of parking charges and fines specifically to raise revenue is “neither acceptable nor legal”, said its chairman Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, who added: “There is a deep-rooted public perception that parking enforcement is used as a cash cow, so it’s essential that local authorities apply stringent transparency.”
“Annual parking accounts would allow the public to see how much local revenue is derived from the enforcement of fines, and what proportion of this come from on or off-street parking charges. It’s right that parking charges be determined locally, but hard to justify fines that substantially exceed penalties for more serious offences like speeding.”
“A 25 per cent penalty charge discount should also be introduced for motorists who pay within seven days of losing any appeal to a parking tribunal. Local authorities currently offer a 50 per cent discount if motorists pay their penalty charge within 14 days, but remove this benefit entirely from motorists who appeal to a tribunal.”
AA president Edmund King said: “The AA receives many complaints about parking enforcement and we believe that some of the measures in this report would help to ease the situation. In particular we welcome the five-minute grace period as many drivers are petrified that rushing into the corner shop for change for the pay & display will cost them dearly.”
“Offering a 25 per cent discount to those who lose appeals is a step in the right direction but we still feel that the full discount should be offered.”