CarFixDeals Blog

4 Tips for Safer Holiday Driving

Posted on March 24, 2014

1. Always be alert when driving. Too much turkey or apple pie can cause even the safest drivers to get sleepy behind the wheel. Make sure you stay alert and aware while driving, or share the driving duties with someone else. If you are driving alone, make sure to take frequent breaks to stretch and stay hydrated. Limit unnecessary distractions and get a good night sleep before you travel. 2. Keep an eye out for aggressive drivers. All of the Holiday travelers combined with all of the Holiday parties can be a dangerous mix. Never drink and drive! Always establish a designated driver at the beginning of the night, and if you see anyone driving erratically, or dangerous keep your distance, and report it to the police right away. 3. Watch the weather conditions. You may be driving to an area where you are unfamiliar with the climate, or you may encounter black ice, sleet, snow and other harsh weather on your journey. When avoiding the weather isn’t possible, make sure that your car is up-to-date on all of it’s vehicle maintenance services before you set out! Things such as tire tread, proper brakes and good windshield wipers will help your commute. 4. Plan ahead for emergencies. Always be prepared for something to go wrong when you travel, whether that be your car breaking down or a car accident. Have an emergency kit on hand with basic medical supplies, water and snacks. An extra blanket is always helpful in case you get stranded somewhere. Have the number for a towing company or a trusted auto repair shop in case you need their services, and never let you gas tank get below ¼ when you’re on the highway.

When Will My Car Fix Itself Using Wireless Uploads

Posted on March 24, 2014

While here in Florida I have had two interesting events occur related to our van, a 2006 Mazda MPV. Yes, I drive an old minivan because when traveling for over a month I can pretty much haul the entire house with us including all our dog paraphernalia (crate, food, toys and treats), a portable fridge, all our luggage, the pillows we like and enough additional room for anything we buy along the way.

This trip, however, has been more eventful than most. We came south in brutal cold. A stone hit our windshield and what was a chip became a crack when we turned on the defroster after another cold night. That had to be replaced once we got to Florida. But then while driving back from visiting family the engine light turned on displaying a warning. My wife looked at the manual which we seldom crack open and it stated that the light comes on for three reasons - an electrical problem in the engine, an exhaust problem, or a dislodged gas cap.

That meant finding a dealer or mechanic with the computing technology to plug into my car's dataport and run a diagnostic. So I spent the morning at the local Fort Lauderdale Mazda dealer who after running the test for an hour came back and told me what I had experienced was a transient event while approaching the speed of 70 miles per hour on the highway at 1:26 p.m. in the afternoon. Nothing was wrong with the van. It was an isolated incident. Could have been vapour lock. Could have been an impurity in the fuel. But it was nothing to worry about. With $120 U.S. less in my pocket I at least had the satisfaction to know that the van was good to go for the return trip to Toronto in March.

But that got me thinking. Why can't car diagnostics be something you can do over the Internet? And sure enough I discovered only yesterday that automobile manufacturers are starting down that path, and not just diagnostics, but also repair.

In an article published in the MIT Technology Review, entitled, Why Your Car Won’t Get Remote Software Updates Anytime Soon the author described a recent Toyota recall of 2 million cars that involved uploading new software patches. Without them there was the potential for the cars to stall suddenly or even crash. As you can imagine a recall of that size is enormously costly. One would think in a wireless networking age and with so many vehicles having wireless capability that Toyota could have sent out these software updates over the Internet to all owners who could then follow a few simple upload instructions and even test their car's systems to ensure the new software was working.

Sounds like fiction? It's not if you own a Tesla Motors automobile. Tesla recently notified over 29,000 owners of its Model S about a problem with the software that monitors the rate of discharge of power from the batteries. None of the customers had to bring their cars into Tesla. Instead the repair was automatically uploaded to the on board computer system in every affected vehicle.

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