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RepairPal Blog:

Technology

All the latest news on technological advances in the automotive industry

A couple of months ago, I was riding in a friend’s car as we drove across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco to Oakland. She had a navigation system that was pretty neat and had already helped us navigate around some road construction and one-way streets. Though I didn’t like the tone of the lady bossing us around, I had to admit the navigation system was pretty cool.

Are you ready for a car that drives itself? Successful prototypes are already on the road in and around San Jose, CA. Artificial intelligence systems that control the car based on input from 360° sensors, cameras, and GPS make it all possible. 

A road trip with your family is often marked by those four words parents cringe to hear—”Are we there yet?” So, imagine driving down the road with no interruptions, no complaints of boredom, no requests for milkshakes or hamburgers, and no questions about whether or not you are actually there yet. Wouldn’t that be heaven?

Every year the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) brings a smile to my face. I remember in past years seeing 3D TVs and touch panel displays, just a few of the items I get all giddy about. This year, however, I got excited about a new technology that Audi is developing for the 2013 models.

Technology is moving at such a fast rate these days, it’s hard to keep up. With the creation of hybrid vehicles, there has been a huge shift from car owners concerned solely with powerhouse engines that purr when you rev them to owners concerned about their carbon footprint.

A few weeks ago, one of my customers at the dealership where I work drove away in a new 2011 crossover vehicle equipped with the latest technological features. This vehicle will find you the closest McDonald’s or bank ATM. It will tell you the score of the Lakers basketball game and knows over ten thousand voice recognition commands such as the interior temperature climate controls and panel display backlight colors. If you say, “Play Led Zeppelin,” it will search the radio signal stratosphere for “Stairway to Heaven.” It reads text messages and uses apps from your smart phone, but as of yet, still cannot cook lasagna.

The vehicle had 167 miles on it when the driver crashed and totaled the vehicle. The advanced safety features saved the driver from any major injury. But the vehicle’s advanced media accessories had distracted the driver so much, he had rolled the vehicle into a ditch.

What would we do without GPS? I suppose we would go back to writing down directions and getting lost, but why? With GPS, life is much easier, allowing us to hit the open road without fear and encouraging the wanderlust that lies at the core of all Americans.

According to one company though, GPS is missing something—a social quality. Imagine connecting with other drivers the way you connect with friends on Facebook. You could find cheap gas, the best pizza in the neighborhood, info about inclement weather, and carpools. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?

Since electric cars are all the rage at the Paris Auto Show this year—with everyone from Kia to Mercedes offering up a model—I thought I would examine some of the myths surrounding electric vehicles (EV).

1. Electric cars pollute as much as regular cars do

I first started my driving career in Virginia in the 1990s. Back then, there were tons of highways that had 55 MPH speed limits, which, to me, seemed unnecessarily—and nearly painfully—slow. I had a bit of a lead foot back then and spent much of my time speeding and scouring the medians for unmarked police cars. Or, I would stealthily get behind a speeder and follow in his shadow, praying that he got pulled over before me.

I remember moving out west for the first time, to Arizona, and seeing my first 70 MPH speed limit sign. Hallelujah! Finally, a speed that is reasonable. I pulled over to the side of the road, took a picture of the sign, and kept it as evidence that the West Coast had it going on. I still have the picture.

We often hear complaints about loud, squeaking brakes, and customer often wonder what can be done and whether this indicates that anything is wrong.

Most often, nothing is wrong.  Brakes work by rubbing metal against metal, and that is a recipe for squeaking.  One way to address this may be to use Ceramic Brake Pads.  Ceramic brake pads are marginally more expensive than traditional organic or metal pads, but they have a number of attractive qualities, including being quieter.