• Hints & Tips

    How Are New Cars Tested for Reliability?

    Designing, building and releasing a car takes a lot of time. From concept to finished product, average car’s development cycle takes anywhere from two to ten years for a manufacturer to complete.

    Innovative, high-performance machines typically take longer to develop than basic city cars. Likewise, cars with new features – from plug-in hybrid engines to carbon fibre chassis or ultra-modern computer systems –need extra development time.

    Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 16.53.48One aspect of car development that takes a large amount of time is testing. Before a new vehicle goes onto the market, it’s tested to ensure it’s safe to drive, comfortable for the driver and passengers and reliable enough for regular use.

    In this post, we’ll look at how new cars are tested for reliability, from track testing to determine a vehicle’s handling and tyre wear to dynamometer testing to work out a car’s average fuel consumption and environmental impact.

    Why reliability testing is so important

    Mass producing a car is an extremely expensive process, so car manufacturers go to extreme lengths to make sure their cars are in great condition before they arrive on the market.

    Fixing a reliability problem in a car after it launches can often require a costly recall or repair programme, costing car manufacturers tens, or even hundreds, or millions of pounds. This makes testing one of the most essential aspects of car development.

    Most cars drive millions of miles – spread across multiple prototypes – before they launch to the public. This gives manufacturers time to find and fix issues that affect performance, fuel economy, safety and reliability.

    Reliability testing using a dynamometer

    If you’re a car guru, you’ve probably heard of (or maybe even used) a dynamometer before. A dynamometer is a device that uses moving rollers attached to the wheels of a car to simulate driving on a road or track.

    Once the car is fixed on the dynamometer, the force from its wheels is delivered into the moving rollers. This lets the car accelerate without moving so that its power and performance can be measured.

    Dynamometer testing (also known as dyno testing, for short) doesn’t match the road environment exactly, but it provides an extremely close simulation that’s perfect for working out certain factors about a car’s performance, such as:

    • Its average fuel consumption and efficiency
    • Its horsepower and torque at different RPMs
    • Its carbon output and environmental impact

    Each of these factors is related to reliability. Cars that generate a lot of power on the dynamometer but become extremely hot doing so might perform well, but there’s a good chance that performance could come at the cost of engine reliability.

    Since a car is fixed in place on a dynamometer, it’s easy to push it to its limit in a way that wouldn’t be possible – or often wouldn’t be safe – on a test track, letting the car manufacturer spot problems that wouldn’t be apparent at low speeds.

    Road testing using a special test track

    While dynamometer testing gives a great deal of insight into how a car’s engine and transmission perform under pressure, it doesn’t give manufacturers a lot of data on the car’s on-road performance.

    Things like speed bumps, gravel, rain and sand don’t exist on a dynamometer. These factors have a huge effect on a car’s real life reliability, making it important that car manufacturers test their new vehicles extensively on a test track before release.

    Before a car makes it onto the market, it will have covered millions of miles on a test track through prototypes. Test tracks let manufacturers discover problems before a car goes into mass production, saving them from having to carry out a recall.

    Most car manufacturers test their cars in a variety of conditions, from cold winters to extreme heat in a tropical or desert environment. This lets them make sure a car can withstand all environmental threats, from humidity to extremely coldness.

    Lots of flaws in a car’s design that are impossible to discover via dyno testing show up quickly when the car spends several weeks on the track. This type of testing lets manufacturers make important changes to a car’s design before its released.

    Third party testing after a car’s release

    Not all cars are perfect once they’re released by the manufacturer. While some cars are famous for their reliability, others are infamous for performing well for a couple of years before quickly deteriorating and breaking down.

    If you’re buying a used car, looking at third-party reliability test results, as well as the opinions of owners, will give you more insight into how the car performs over the long term than just the manufacturer’s reliability information.

    Third-party car testing involves a variety of factors, which are used to group cars into different categories. Some of the criteria used to test and judge a certain car’s reliability includes:

    • How frequently it breaks down, and how severe its breakdowns are
    • How much it costs to repair on average and the frequency of repairs
    • How long it spends on the road (and off the road being repaired)
    • The average age and mileage of similar models still used on the road

    Most of the time, reliable third-party data takes two or three years to emerge. This is because lots of cars perform well when they’re relatively new but deteriorate due to defects and design flaws as time goes on.

    How to buy a car that won’t let you down

    Is there any motoring experience worse than being stuck on the side of the road due to an unreliable car? Some cars are extremely fun to drive – until they put you on the side of the highway waiting for a tow truck, that is.

    If you’re buying a used car, make sure you check its average reliability online before you buy. Use these tips to ensure you buy a reliable car that’s easy to own instead of an unreliable, potentially expensive lemon:

    • If you’re buying a car that’s 10+ years old, check to see how many vehicles are still on the road today. Some cars, such as the Honda Jazz and BMW 5-Series, are famous for their reliability.
    • Search owner forums and car review websites for common problems that owners face. Some cars that are otherwise very reliable have issues with certain model years that make them less reliable than others.
    • If you find a car that you like, ask an experienced mechanic to review its service history. They’ll be able to spot any maintenance issues that could affect its reliability in the future.

    Finally, if you’re worried about breakdowns or repairs in the future, make sure you buy an extended car warranty for your vehicle. An extended warranty gives you the peace of mind and financial protection you need for stress-free car ownership.

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  • Hints & Tips

    How to Store a Car during Winter | INFOGRAPHIC

    Winter brings with it quite a few difficulties- lower temperatures, icy streets, snow days, and more- and unfortunately, many of these irritations make it harder than usual to drive a car. Instead of waking up thirty minutes early every day to shovel the snow around your car, warm it up, and scrape the ice off your windshields, why not consider putting your car in indoor self storage unit for the winter?

    Storing your car indoors for the winter will save you the time and hassle of trying to care for and drive a car in dangerous winter conditions. However, don’t think you can just park your car in the garage for the winter and toss your keys in the junk drawer- that could lead to damage to your car’s engine, exterior, and interior. You need to prepare your car for winter storage so that when the temperatures rise and your windows go down, your car is in tip-top shape and ready to drive. Here’s how to do it.

    First, make sure your engine is ready to hunker down for the winter. Your spark plugs, when left unattended for a long time, can rust and seize, so you (or a mechanic) should spray the cylinders with fogging oil. The gas in your tank can oxidize when not used, which will clog up your gas lines, so fill your tank with premium, non-alcohol fuel and add fuel stabilizer to stop oxidation.

    Similarly, you want to change and fill up all of your fluid levels to reduce condensation; this includes your coolant, clutch, brake, and windshield fluids. The condensation can rise after forming beneath your car, causing fluid leaks that stain your garage or storage unit, so park your car on a plastic drop sheet. Change your car’s oil and filters, since old oil can become acidic and cause engine damage. Finally, in older vehicles, disconnect your battery. If you have a newer vehicle, your onboard computers need constant power, so keep the battery connected and use a trickle charger.

    Your car’s body and interior also needs a little prep work before hibernation. Store your car indoors, if possible, since sun damage can crack vinyl and cause leather to fade, and drying of paper can cause speakers to blow. If that’s not possible, cover your entire vehicle with a cloth. Close your vents and roll up the windows (cracking one window slightly if stored indoors), and stuff a rag in your exhaust and cover it with a metal screen; this will deter small animals from making your car their warm winter home.

    Your windshield wiper blades can stick to the windshield, especially if left outside, so store them in the “out” position or wrap the blades in plastic. Wash and wax your car thoroughly before storing it, paying special attention to the dirt in wheel wells- corrosion and paint damage are a major concern in coastal areas and during winter.

    Exposure and changes in temperature can break down your tires, so inflate your tires to the proper pressure level and check to see if over-inflation is recommended for your car. Instead of leaving your parking brake on (which can cause your brake pads to stick to the rotors), disengage the parking brake and use wheel chocks. Finally, unless you use bias ply tires, don’t store your car on blocks; leaving shock absorbers extended and exposed to the elements can cause them to rust.

    Your car is one of your most valuable possessions, but if you store it improperly for the winter, you’ll end up spending extra money to fix the damage that’s been caused. Instead, take these few basic steps that can be seen in the infographic below to store your car safely for winter, and until then, daydream of warmer times when you get to crank the AC instead of the heat.


    Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 11.28.33 Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 11.28.53 Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 11.29.08Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 11.34.22 Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 11.34.42

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  • Hints & Tips

    Keep Your Vehicle Out of the Shop With Regular Maintenance

    It should come as no surprise that maintenance has a direct influence on the reliability of a vehicle. Here are five maintenance items that help to keep cars out of the repair shop.

    Oil Change

    According to most automotive experts, an oil change is the most critical maintenance procedure. After enduring thousands of miles of abuse, motor oil gradually loses its ability to lubricate the internal parts of the engine. A fresh oil change allows the engine to run smoother and work much more efficiently. If the oil is changed on a regular basis, some engines are capable of lasting for more than 250,000 miles.

    Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 10.13.52

    Air Filter

    An air filter is a simple component that can have a major impact on a vehicle’s performance. The filter’s sole purpose is to purify the air before it enters the engine. Weak acceleration is a tell-tale sign that the engine’s air filter needs to be replaced. Not only are most air filters very affordable, but they are also relatively easy to install.

    Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 10.16.00

    Brake Pads

    No car is safe without a properly functioning brake system. Although some brake pads last longer than others, they will all need to be replaced at some point. Most modern brake systems are designed with a wear indicator. When the brake pads become almost worn out, the indicators will begin to make a distinctive screeching noise.

    Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 10.17.30

    Alternator Belt

    If the alternator belt suddenly snaps, the car will not be able to be driven. Luckily, periodic inspection of the alternator belt will prevent any problems. Belts that look old and deteriorated should be replaced as soon as possible. Visit a local car care specialist for more information.

    Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 10.18.26

    Tire Care

    Most tires are designed to last for at least 50,000 miles. However, tires must receive the proper care in order to reach their true life expectancy. It is essential that each tire remains inflated to the recommended pressure. To ensure that the tires wear evenly, they need to be rotated at the oil change interval. A wheel alignment is also an important maintenance procedure that needs to be done at least once a year.

    Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 10.20.23

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  • Hints & Tips

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    It’s not your fault that everyone else is the worst! SafeAuto knows you and your car are pretty much perfect. That being said, here’s how to deal with the pains of being a perfect driver.

     

    1. That car with the obscenely loud stereo that just had to pull up next to you.

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    HOW DO I DEAL?! Easy. Turn up your own music. Challenge accepted.

    2. When you really need to pee, but there are absolutely no gas stations or rest areas to be found.

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    HOW DO I DEAL!?! When nature calls, we’ll find a way to improvise. We always do.

    3. Pedestrians who have no regard for your time.

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    HOW DO I DEAL?! Pretend they are cute ducklings. It’s your best bet.

    4. When you just can’t get past a single stop light.

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    HOW DO I DEAL?! Pull over, shut your eyes, and listen to some of your favorite tunes. This will disrupt the timing.

    5. People who decide to wait until the last minute to merge.

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    HOW DO I DEAL?! Just take a deep breath and let it go. These people never learn.

    6. When you get stuck in gridlock traffic after work.

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    HOW DO I DEAL?! Stay late after work. Or leave early. Yeah, just leave early.

    7. People who don’t know what the fast lane is for.

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    HOW DO I DEAL?! Lower your shades, grip the wheel, and carefully maneuver around them.

    8. Slow drivers in general.

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    HOW DO I DEAL?! Pity them. They know not what they do.

    9. When someone decides to tailgate you, for whatever reason.

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    HOW DO I DEAL?! Throw some shade in that rearview mirror. They’re paying attention.

    10. People who can’t drive in a little rain.

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    HOW DO I DEAL?! Be patient with them. They’ll get it someday. And give them wide berth. Extra-wide berth.

    11. People who don’t understand the concept of “right on red.”

    11 Common Causes Of Road Rage And How To Cope

    HOW DO I DEAL?! You have a horn. Use it.

    via: Buzzfeed

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