Safe Driving = Safe Stopping

Safe Driving = Safe Stopping

Too often, for too many drivers, speed is the primary concern.  “Zero-to-sixty in X seconds!” ”Top engine speed (”How fast can she go?”).”  But for most drivers, and even professional racers (for whom speed is a major factor), the better question to ask is, “How long does it take to stop if you’re travelling at 100 mph or higher?!”

Vehicle speeds are a crucial factor in overall traffic safety and accidents, fatal or otherwise. The U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that speeding is involved in approximately 28% of fatal motor vehicle crashes (2014 data).  (The same report says that in that same year only 13 percent of speeding-related fatalities occurred on interstate highways.)  Continue reading “Safe Driving = Safe Stopping”

retro

Wheels of Fortune

The History, the Variety, the Beauty of Mag Wheels continue to “wow” today with sporty style and seriously rugged performance. Vintage mag wheels, either original factory-issue or aftermarket custom add-ons, have been made since the 1930s, and came into the popular spotlight in the 1950s and 60s, the Halibrand Magnesium Roadster Wheel being a true pioneer and one of the era’s best known.  Continue reading “Wheels of Fortune”

road

In The Groove: Make Your Tires Last Longer and Perform Better

Compared to the wide variety of design and material content options of wheels–whether factory-installed or specialty aftermarket models–tires can seem a little boring.  They’re round and basic black. . .what else can you say about them?  But can you think of a more essential component of your car?  After all, tires are the only point of contact that your vehicle has with whatever surface you’re driving on.  You rely on them every time you turn on the engine and start out on your journey.  You’re going nowhere without them, and they need to be in good, dependable working condition at all times. Continue reading “In The Groove: Make Your Tires Last Longer and Perform Better”

automotive wheels

Automotive Wheels Design Trends

While everybody was focused on discussing cars (as it usually happens with car show events), the Geneva Motor Show 2017 revealed several notable changes in automotive wheels design trends. Although concave wheels still remain popular, we have spotted a lot of innovative, often more aggressive shapes. Wheels are undoubtedly the car’s most notable accessory, so let’s take an in-depth look at what top auto manufacturers select for their next vehicle models.  Continue reading “Automotive Wheels Design Trends”

Google's_Lexus_RX

Autonomous Cars: Issues, Challenges, Solutions

Self-driving automobiles were once “the future.”  Well, self-driving, or autonomous vehicles, are actually “now.”  Major brands like Mercedes, BMW and Tesla are pursuing the technology, with self-driving features that enable a vehicle to drive itself to some degree, if not completely, without an operator at the wheel.  And in 2015, as part of the company’s ongoing goal of “building a safer driver for everyone,” Google famously “completed the world’s first truly driverless ride on public roads.”

 

Some research estimates project 10 million self-driving cars will be sharing the roads by 2020 (that’s only 3 model years away!) But is fully, or even mostly self-driving technology really easier and safer? How do self-driving cars navigate, integrate, anticipate–in all kinds of weather, all sorts of terrains, all types of traffic and pedestrian situations?  Continue reading “Autonomous Cars: Issues, Challenges, Solutions”

ford

What Makes a Good Car “Good”?

What are the makings of a well-thought-out, well-built, well-performing car? Forward-thinking design. Precision tooling. Skilled workers and quality workmanship. Structural integrity and functionality. Quality parts and components. A great car has them all. A good, or really good car, has some or most of those inputs and attributes in equal quantity.

The average car is made up of thousands of parts–some large composite ones, like the engine, itself made of thousands of individual pieces, which is then installed as a unit, others discrete or truly singular things like nuts and bolts. Every piece needs to be machined, inspected and connected to another piece–welded, bolted, glued, screwed or snapped on by people, by robots, by people manipulating robots–generally on an assembly line that can roll out many hundreds of finished automobiles in a day. There are “bespoke” cars, too, many parts of which are handmade and hand-finished, and which are priced accordingly. How well each of the steps is accomplished, how much attention paid to ‘tolerances’ (how tightly the windows and doors close), paint and trim finishes, and overall consistency, determines a car’s quality and long-term, reliable serviceability.  Continue reading “What Makes a Good Car “Good”?”

pexels-photo-225841

SUVs: The Evolution of A Driving Favorite

The SUV family tree includes station wagons, estate cars, light pickup trucks, minivans, large sedans, and even some standout forebears like the WWII-era Willys MB (or Jeep). SUVs began their more modern, widespread, popular presence in the 1990s, peaked in appeal because of high oil prices, then got hot again, especially when gas started getting cheaper and prices more stable. According to Wikipedia, “At the end of 2016, sales of SUVs and light duty trucks had surpassed traditional car sales for the year by over 3 million units.” Buyers like the bigger passenger and cargo space, safety features, towing possibilities and off-road capability.
Continue reading “SUVs: The Evolution of A Driving Favorite”

horsepower

Horsepower: The Measure of the Machine

Vroooom! Vroooom! That throaty, low roar generated by a powerful V8 or V12 engine with impressive horsepower–really gets your attention, right?

There are different standards for measuring different types of horsepower.

For example, there are the mechanical (or imperial) horsepower, approximately 746 watts, and the metric horsepower, about 735.5 watts. Eighteenth century Scottish inventor and engineer, James Watt, of the Watt steam engine fame, used the term ‘horsepower’ to compare the output of steam engines with the power draft horses (work horses) could generate. Of course, the watt, the SI unit of power–The International System of Units, the modern form of the metric system–is named after James himself.  Continue reading “Horsepower: The Measure of the Machine”

engine

Four? Six? Eight? Twelve–And Beyond?? How Many Cylinders Do You Need?

If you open your car’s hood to do more than replenish the windshield washing fluid, you’re probably familiar with the engine block, cylinders, pistons and other parts usually seen only by mechanics. So what are they, these usually kept-in-the-dark components, and what do they actually do?

Very simply described, a cylinder is the main working part of an engine, in this case your car’s reciprocating engine, an internal combustion or ‘heat engine’ that converts pressure into a rotating motion that makes the axles and the wheels go ‘round and ‘round. Each piston is inside a cylinder, where fuel and air mix, expand in the heat, and push that piston up and down to provide the engine’s power. Continue reading “Four? Six? Eight? Twelve–And Beyond?? How Many Cylinders Do You Need?”

pexels-photo-193021

Styles. Shapes. Sizes. Coming To Terms With What A Car Is Called

What’s In A Name?

Cars are classified according to basic descriptions, specifications, common standards (among countries and manufacturers), insurance data, safety requirements, other regulations (to determine tax amounts, e.g.), within a wide range of naming and defining categories. Some terms and descriptors are very common and easy to recognize, others a little more arcane.

Whether you’re shopping for a car, collecting cars, or if just reading the latest car news gets your engine fired up, here’s a brief refresher course.  Continue reading “Styles. Shapes. Sizes. Coming To Terms With What A Car Is Called”