To mark the 80th anniversary of the test, RED Driving School surveyed a host of motorists who’d recently failed – around half of UK drivers do so each year – to discover what had caught them out.
1. Driving on the wrong side of the road
“I drove out of the test centre on the wrong side of the road although, to be fair, it was a very narrow road. I told the examiner that I had literally just got back from France, where I had become so immersed in the culture that I’d forgotten which side of the road to drive on.”
2. Queuing behind parked cars
“I thought a line of parked cars was a line of traffic, waiting for the traffic lights to change. After seven excruciating minutes of waiting, the instructor asked me to drive around the parked cars.”
3. Distracted by a sexy motorcyclist
“A ‘good looking’ man on a motorbike caught my attention while I was driving, and without realising, I started to drive directly towards him. The instructor had to enforce an emergency stop as I nearly hit the man on the motorbike. I then blamed it on my bad eyesight!”
4. Confused between left and right
“I turned left when told to turn right, twice, and lied to the examiner that I have dyscalculia which affects my ability to turn left or right.”
5. Crossing confusion
“When crawling towards a zebra crossing, I went a little too far forward and bumped the bumper on a pedestrian before the examiner could stop me. I then argued it wasn’t my fault as he was fine, and that his outfit had made him blend into the stripes.”
“I tried to turn the wrong way up a one-way street, and then blamed the instructor for putting me off!”
7. Energy overdose
“I took my test when I was 18, the day before my final A-level exam. At this point I was studying like mad for my final exam and drinking at least three cans of energy drink a day. I turned up for my driving test twitching like a madman and hadn’t revised anything. I received two majors and I lost count of the minors.”
8. Twitching toes
“I was just so nervous on my first test! I couldn’t keep my foot still on the clutch and failed in the first five minutes while doing a three-point turn. I then drove perfectly for the rest of the test!”
“I failed my test the first time because I thought the way to overtake was to zip in and out of traffic like in a car chase. The only background knowledge I had was based on James Bond, so I blame the movies! Looking back, I can definitely see why it was so important for me to take more lessons.”
10. The engine didn’t sound right
“I failed my manual test so did an automatic test instead and passed. I told everyone this was because I grew up with parents who only drove automatic cars and so wasn’t used to the ‘sound’ and ‘feel’ of gearchanging in the car.”
When winter arrives it’s important to know that your car is capable of dealing with the inclement weather, so we’ve produced a vital winter car checklist to ensure you don’t get caught out.
Breakdowns more than double during the winter months, as snow, ice, wind and rain cause havoc with driving conditions. However, a few simple winter checks can ensure both you and your car are prepared for what’s to come.
From quick winter car checks, such as testing washer fluid levels and ensuring your exterior lights are working, to the fitting of winter tyres, we have it all covered. Below you’ll find a list of checks and recommended purchases to help you and your car enjoy a trouble-free winter on the road.
It’s important to keep your car well maintained throughout the year, but this becomes even more vital during the winter months. The good news is that winter car checks really aren’t too different from normal maintenance procedures, however there are a few items that you should pay extra attention to:
Cold and damp weather is a battery killer. There’s little worse than the mechanical groan when you turn the key caused by a dying car battery. If your battery is struggling to start your car, the chances are it’s on its way out.
You can test the battery yourself if you have the correct equipment, but it’s far easier to ask a specialist. Assuming you can start the car, you can drive to your local main dealer or car spares shop to buy a new one. Most car battery stockists will even fit it for you.
• How to jump-start a car
Car battery prices vary, and can cost from around £60 fitted, although models fitted with stop-start systems can cost more than £100, depending on the size, type and the electrical current produced. There are dozens of combinations, so make sure you get the correct one.
If you can’t start your car, you can use a set of jump leads, or remove the battery and charge it indoors. This can be complex, not least because car batteries are heavy. You should always refer to the owner’s manual.
Antifreeze, as its name suggests, stops the water in the engine’s cooling system from freezing. To test the effectiveness of your antifreeze, you’ll need an antifreeze tester, which cost about £5. To use it, unscrew the coolant reservoir cap under the bonnet, after checking the engine is cold.
Lower the tube into the coolant and squeeze the rubber bulb on the end to suck some antifreeze inside the tester. You can then read the freezing point of the antifreeze using the scale inside the tester. Replace the antifreeze in the car’s system and replace the cap.
Check screen wash
Wintery weather is frequently wet, meaning you’ll spend lots of time using your windscreen wipers. There’s a high risk of them smearing grime across the windscreen if your screen wash bottle is empty.
To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, open the windscreen washer bottle under the bonnet, and fill it with screen wash. You can buy ready mixed or concentrated screen wash, which you’ll need to mix with water.
Screen wash has a lower freezing temperature than water alone, meaning you shouldn’t end up with frozen washer jets.
Check exterior lights
It sounds simple, and it is. The days are shorter and the weather is worse during the winter months, making maintenance of your exterior lights an important aspect of any winter car checklist.
Check and clean your lights regularly. The salt and dirt can quickly build-up, reducing visibility at night as well as during periods of snow, fog and rain. Carry extra bulbs in case of a failure.
Professional winter car checks
If you’ve not got the time to prepare your car for winter, then you can ask an expert to do it for you. Many main dealers and high street car spares shops can do this, and shouldn’t cost more than a few pounds. Some even offer free winter car checks.
If you drive frequently in winter, then consider buying a set ofwinter tyres. They offer exceptional grip when the temperature drops below seven degrees, and in snow and ice. They’re not cheap, but well worth the investment for the additional safety they bring.
Even if you don’t want the extra cost of winter tyres, checking the tread depth of your existing tyres is important. The legal limit is 1.6mm, but having more than this can dramatically improve steering and braking. Also check your tyre pressures regularly.
Winter car equipment
Carrying an emergency kit with you at all times through the winter might seem a bit extreme – but if you ever find yourself stranded you’ll be glad of it. We recommend:
- • A mobile phone and charger
- • A hazard warning triangle
- • Hi-visibility vest
- • A first aid kit
- • De-icer and a scraper
- • A shovel
- • A tow rope
- • Wellington boots
- • A torch
- • Warm clothes
- • Food and drink
And a decent set of car mats will not only protect your car’s carpets from wet or muddy feet, but can be wedged under the driven wheels to get you moving should you get really stuck in the snow.
The culture around American cars is so diverse, it means totally different things to different people. For many, it’s all about the mighty American Muscle Cars with their monster V8s and pumped-up styling. Other classic American car buffs love the chrome and fins of the rockin’ and rollin’ 1950s. Then there’s the Al Capone gangster period, and of course hot-rod and drag racing culture to consider too.
Some people will think of icons from closer to the dawn of motoring, such as the instantly recognisable Model T Ford. Others will immediately think of the geeky cool of the modern day electric Tesla Model S.
Motorsport has always been central to the American car dream, through machines like the Shelby Cobra and Chevrolet Corvette, not to mention the more everyday vehicles that are pressed into service in the spectacular NASCAR series.
On the road here in the UK though, it’s often the outlandish scale and style of more everyday road cars that appeals, as well as the burble of a meaty V8 engine. Classic American cars for sale reflect interest in every genre. Well-known classic models likeFord Mustangs, Chevrolet Camaros and Dodge Challengers attract ever higher prices, while all manner of old American cars can be found in the classifieds. Newer ones too, thanks to the recent trend of US manufacturers to ‘globalise’ their products and sell them here. Some, like Jeep, have been around in the UK for years, but Chevrolet is a relatively recent arrival, and Tesla is the newest kid on the block. You can buy a Corvette ‘officially’, and even Ford’s new Mustang is finally available here in right hand drive.
So for lovers of all American car brands, and of the new and old American cars they have created, this is our guide to 10 of our favourites.
Click on the links below to explore our Top 10 American Cars, and add your own thoughts in the comments…
- 1. Ford Mustang
- 2. Corvette
- 3. Cadillac Eldorado
- 4. Ford Model T
- 5. Jeep
- 6. Tesla Model S
- 7. Oldsmobile Curved Dash
- 8. Cadillac Type 53
- 9. Ford GT40
- 10. Duesenberg Model J
Car wash businesses all over the world have been multiplying fast because car owners realized that conventional garage washing is not effective enough to get rid of all the dust and dirt that have accumulated on the vehicle. This is the reason why more and more car owners are turning towards the newer methods of car care, such as mobile car detailing to bring their cars backs to their original condition. Hand car wash is a specialty of full service and detail car wash systems. The highly automated car wash gets a personal cleaning touch when employees take a professional hand to clean the car.
This personal touch ensures that no part of the car goes unnoticed by the machines and that no tiny particle of dust or slime sticks on to the car. The serviced car will come out sleek and shiny. Hand washing is a highly specialized and exclusive service that caters to a customer’s personal preferences for a car wash. Employees use hand-held high pressure that is needed to prepare the car for the wash and then clean the top and sides of the car. Only the bottom of the car is cleaned by the automated undercarriage applicator. Services of the bubbles car wash includes their carpet shampoo, which airs out carpets and cleans them with special chemicals like tar and pair over spray removal, which is a special service that cleans even minute foreign particles on the surface of their vehicles. Finding the professional car wash near me is one of the great deals for many car owners.
Car service provider:
Finding and locating the best car services becomes a hard task. With the help of internet finding the car wash services has become convenient. Using the Google maps technology, one can able to open a route directly on the mobile device and can navigate to the nearest car wash service. When searching car wash near me in Google map it will locate all the nearest car wash services near to the place. By using this they can even know about the name of the company and can know its reputation and can read the reviews about the company. The car wash near me is a free tool to find the closest car wash near to the individual’s locality.
Most of the car wash service providers tend to engage in environment friendly process. They even recycle water and make sure the green methods are used. This is why professional car washing services prove to be a perfect substitute to washing at home. Car wash service providers will also help one to save more time and money. The experts know how to clean cars rightly. This means ideal equipment, chemicals and methods are used during the cleanup. They also offer several services like full service wash which includes vacuuming, exterior washing, window, mats, tires and wheel cleaning. They also provide double ployprocess service. This is their exclusive service that requires a couple of steps of polishing and cleat coating.
For many car owners, dealing with a car repair can be a devastating experience particularly if it was the first time that their car has ever been involved in an accident. Perhaps the last time you saw your car was when it was being towed away from the venue where the accident took place. Days or weeks later and your car is still parked in an auto repair shop as attendants take care of fixing what was broken in your vehicle. If you’re like one of the many new car owners, how do you know that the repair attendant is properly fixing your vehicle?
As always, the trick to having a guarantee on how well your car gets fixed is by picking the right repair shop that you can rely on. You may have already found a repair shop to help you take care of fixing your car but even then, it doesn’t mean you should not inspect how well they performed their job in fixing your vehicle. It still pays to be knowledgeable and to thoroughly inspect the work that your auto repair company has done.
To identify any issues after your car has been repaired, it is good to understand what you need to look out for. Here are some of these things:
Be knowledgeable of your car upfront
The moment you drop off your car to an auto repair shop is also the time when the repair starts. This means that you should already be clear on what the repairman needs to fix and how it intends to do this. If you don’t have much knowledge on cars, you can have your car be checked beforehand so you know what to expect during the repair process. Typically, they will present some options on how to achieve fixing your car. They will give out some options for you to consider and decide upon, especially if there are a few alternate ways to fix your vehicle.
Once you have decided on an option on how to fix your car, you should get everything in writing. It is also a good idea to know about the warranty they provide to every vehicle they work on. This way, you know that if the repair wasn’t done right, you’ll be able to bring your car back to them without any problem. When it’s time for you to return to check up on your car, you can review the paperwork prepared beforehand so you can confirm that the shop was able to fix your car accordingly. If you are working with a reputable auto repair shop, you shouldn’t be afraid of going through every step with them as this is something they will openly discuss with you.
Take a closer look
It’s also important that you closely inspect the area that was repaired to see if your car has been repaired properly. You can check for any gaps between body panels as any gaps mean that the panels were not aligned correctly. You should also make sure that your doors easily open and close so you can be sure they have been aligned properly.
If the damage is on the front-end of your car, your auto repair shop may have a difficult time repairing it perfectly; especially if it was an extensive damage. You can make sure that the repair was done correctly by looking at the distance from the tire and the fender. If one side is narrow while the other is wide, it could mean that something wasn’t properly fixed. It is also good to turn on your headlights to check if the light beams are even.
Apart from visually inspecting your car for any signs, you should also make sure that the automated printout of your car’s frame specifications are in place. If you have brought your car to a reliable car repair shop, the damaged area of your car will be measured before and after the repair. This document can serve as reference to make sure that the repair was done right.
A clean car is a good sign
When it’s time to pick up your car from the auto repair shop, it should have already been cleaned, washed, and vacuumed. It should have no dirt, dust, or any old parts in your trunk. This is one thing that auto repair shops typically do when they are fixing a car. Before they turn it over to the owner, it should have been cleaned so it looks appealing; especially since repair shops are among the dirtiest places in the world. Apart from making your car look nice, it is also one way they can let you know that they value doing business with you since they made sure that your car will be good to go just before you pick it up.
These are very minor things to check to ensure that your auto repair shop has fixed your car properly.
Written by the staff at KB Tire & Auto. KB Tire & Auto is the leading expert in auto repair Moberly MO has to offer.
An auto repair shop such as auto repair Surprise AZ is designed to offer solutions for vehicles that require maintenance and repair. However, the question is how to select the right auto repair shop for you and your vehicle? Auto repair shops, also known as auto repair garages, can range in size and service. Some are operated by sole proprietors with a few essential tools. Other garages hire large teams of experienced technicians with the latest tools and equipment to repair all levels of technical issues. Still, others may offer specialized services that promise to restore your vehicle to factory specifications. With such a wide variety of auto repair shops serving your area, it may be difficult to choose the best one to repair your vehicle. That is why we offer these helpful tips to follow when choosing an auto repair shop.
Work With Those You Like:
If you like the people on the auto repair team, chances are that you’ll have a terrific customer service experience. Though professionalism, experience, and knowledge are all key points for deciding upon an auto repair shop, most people want to work with people they like and with whom they can feel a common bond. To gain quick insight, look online at any existing customer reviews or testimonials to see what they had to say about their experience. If you like what you read in the customer reviews, chances are very good that you will form a nice relationship with the staff of your selected auto repair shop.
Find Out How Long Repairs
The speed at which repair work can take may be a big factor in your auto shop selection process. If you find a terrific auto repair shop that does great work and does it quickly, that is a great experience. If, however, they take too long to fix your vehicle, the lengthy waiting time could whittle away your confidence in their repair processes. Getting an estimate to see how long their auto repair service may take can help a save a great deal of time and money.
Ask The Right Questions:
When visiting an auto repair shop, it is essential to ask questions that are specific to your vehicle. To make certain you don’t forget to ask a question, write them all down on a piece of paper and take notes. If you are visiting an auto body repair shop, for example, get an estimate based on the amount of damage and the time it will take to restore it. Ask if they offer any discounts for first-time or returning customers. You may also ask if they offer warranties or guarantees and what those cover.
Verify Their Credibility:
Find out if the auto repair shop is using the newest and most advanced tools or technology. Ask where their various vehicular parts and tools come from. Also, ask them to list their references, or if they are active members of auto industry associations. Many reputable auto repair shops are happy to provide a list of testimonials that highlight their work history. Similarly, you can verify the credibility of your auto shop by asking the opinions of other technicians and auto shop personnel that work in the same area.
Request An Estimate:
Before choosing an auto repair shop, ask for an estimate. Different auto shops can offer a wide range of estimates. Though asking each auto shop to provide you with an estimate can be time consuming, you are more likely to end up with the best price when you call several auto repair shops. When requesting an estimate, ask them to put it in writing. If any auto shop is reluctant to offer a written estimate, you should avoid hiring them. A well established auto repair shop would readily produce an estimate and a thorough explanation of how they arrived at their estimate. Requesting an estimate can help remove doubts and uncertainties about what is to be expected when they repair your vehicle.
It’s not uncommon for estimates from different body shops to vary wildly. One shop might give you an estimate for $500 while another wants $2,000 for the work. What’s the difference? And when is it OK to choose the cheaper shop?Here are some of his tips for choosing the right shop like collision Tucson AZ to work on your car particularly when you’re the one paying the bills.
1) Ask the Right Questions
When choosing a body shop, “you don’t go in with your pocketbook open,” Mallette explains. “You go in smart,” and ask some key questions. Does the shop provide a written warranty? And if so, for how long? What does the warranty cover?
A one-year warranty is a minimum, Mallette says. His shop offers a two-year warranty for body work and a three-year warranty for complete paint jobs. Some shops offer lifetime warranties as a selling point, but that isn’t realistic, he says.
“Most of the stipulations and conditions those warranties require are more restrictive than the majority of people can adhere to,” he says. “So basically, the warranty becomes useless.”
Another key question is whether the shop carries fire and theft insurance. You want to be sure you’re covered if your car is destroyed, stolen or burglarized. Don’t forget to ask how long the shop has been in business. Make sure it has a business license.
You will also want to know about the materials the shop intends to use. Are new, used or aftermarket body parts going to be used? New parts are obviously the best and used parts are fine, though they don’t offer the savings people imagine. Depending on the damage to your vehicle, aftermarket parts can save a lot of money and can be just as good as the ones that come from the original manufacturer. If paint work is involved, ask how many coats of paint and clear coat the shop intends to use.
2) Follow Your Intuition
Finally, it’s important to trust your intuition about the shop you’re considering. If a shop isn’t busy, maybe that’s because customers are avoiding it because of shoddy repairs. If the place is really dirty, cluttered or disorganized, this might reflect the kind of work you could expect the shop to do with your car. Is the shop owner or manager a grouch who seems to resent answering your questions? You’ll be happier with a shop where the owner communicates well and is straightforward with customers.
3) Pay Attention to Word-of-Mouth
Any business can advertise, but you’ll do better with a shop that friends, family or acquaintances recommend. It’s a business that has proven it can satisfy customers. And it might not be the biggest or best-known shop in your area.
Mallette went to a shop years ago on such recommendations and found that the owner was a “real stand-up guy…. He doesn’t advertise on the Internet; it’s a family-owned shop,” Mallette says. “But, golly, if you take your car there, you’ll get a fair price.”
In some cases, you might get a recommendation for a small shop where the owner works on the cars himself.
4) Consider the Operation’s Location and Overhead
“Where you get screwed in our business is labor hours,” Mallette explains. His shop charges $40 per hour for labor. But in ritzy parts of West Los Angeles, the per-hour labor charge is $60-$65. In wealthy Newport Beach, California, Mallette has heard of $90-per-hour labor charges.
Large body shops with a lot of front-office workers probably have to charge higher rates to pay their staff. While service delivered by front-desk folks, managers and foremen gives some people a feeling of confidence in the business, it can result in estimates that are padded with non-essential work. When they’re charging more labor hours at a higher rate, your bill can add up quickly.
In his shop, Mallette says he does things by the book literally. Body shops and garages use reference guides that estimate the number of hours required to perform common repairs.
By contrast, the higher-end shops might decide to charge for everything in “the gray area,” meaning those things that they might have to do to fix the problem. In Mallette’s example, high-end estimates might include a charge for time spent removing the hood and the door, while his judgment call is not to perform this additional work.
5) Get Several Estimates
Taking your car to several auto body shops for repair quotes is the best way to avoid overcharges, Mallette notes. “I’ll tell people to go get some estimates and bring ’em back to me. I’ll match estimates if I can.”
And while it’s important to protect against being overcharged, you shouldn’t simply take the lowest quote. “You might get some kind of midnight guy who will say he can do it really cheap,” he says. “Stay away from those guys, because there is something they’re not doing. You could have major problems down the road.”
The UK is on a roll. With car sales continuing to rise, car production is hitting new heights, too. British-built models like theNissan Qashqai, Jaguar XF and Range Rover are right at the forefront of a booming automotive business –but cars aren’t our only success story.
What you may not be aware of is that we’re also leading the way when it comes to tractors. The New Holland Agriculture plant in Basildon, Essex, produces hundreds of unique tractors every week for export across the globe, and welcomes 4,000 visitors a year. Customers flock to the site to choose their dream tractor from up to 10,000 configurations. To celebrate the diversity of UK industry – and fulfil a childhood dream – we took up an invitation for Auto Express to visit the Basildon plant and get our hands dirty by helping to build a new tractor, then take a test drive.
The New Holland factory – owned by CNH Industrial, headed by Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne – is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary, having moved to the 100-acre Essex site way back in 1964.
Since then 1.6 million tractors have rolled off the line, from the early days of Ford ownership, through the nineties when Fiat held a controlling stake, right up to the present day and CNH Industrial’s growth. But what’s the secret of its success? And why have bosses kept faith in the UK through the recession?
Andreas Klauser, CNH Industrial chief operating officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told Auto Express: “We have expertise in the plant and in the supply chain around here. We don’t want to move. The great heritage we have here is very important to us. We evolved into New Holland and it is a clearly recognisable tractor brand all across Europe.”
Just as Klauser and CNH need the UK, so the UK needs the company. A staggering 90 per cent of the machines that roll off the line in Basildon are sent around the world, whether that’s to Europe, the US or less mainstream markets such as Paraguay or New Zealand. That makes New Holland one of the top 15 export companies in Britain with its 14 tractor ranges being sold in 120 countries.
Klauser added: “This is a very important company to the UK balance of payments and Basildon is an important global marketplace. It’s part of Basildon – it’s the home of tractors. The big focus is to continue world class manufacture and whatever is needed will be invested.”
Our job for the day was to get involved in six of the production processes up and down the 2km of assembly lines. But first, we had to get dressed for the part, donning a hi-vis jacket and a hat to complement our New Holland overalls and thick boots. And it soon became apparent that we weren’t just here to make up the numbers. In the factory, there’s a constant stream of activity but also a calmness and focus among the workers – this is something CNH Industrial has actively worked on.
Over the past five years, it’s made £15million worth of savings through noise reduction, cleanliness and efficiency. Next, bosses hope to reduce noise further across the whole plant to make it an ear protector-free zone, too.
So what’s it like working in that environment? Where better to start than with the powertrain?
Our first role was to help fit the huge engines to the transmission. These engines, imported from the company’s other sites, range in output from 120bhp through to 270bhp, and we help screw the bolts and driveshaft into position. At the touch of a button they’re sent on their way as driverless flat-bed robots, patrolling the factory floor, come and pick them up.
The next time we see the assembled parts, they’ve been fitted with the suspension and spray painted black. Here the joints are greased and tanks filled with diesel – with three tractors being built at the same time on the moving floor of the production line, it’s difficult to keep up.
We can see how these processes have barely changed over the past five decades, but at our next stop in the factory, it’s clear just how far UK tractor production in the 21st century has come.
The cabs are now fitted with a comfortable seat surrounded by hi-tech gadgets, touchscreen sat-navs and air-conditioning. Our job is to insert the switches into the C-pillars before wiring them up and snapping the C-pillars on to the cab. A clever light system tells you which buttons to fit where as each order rolls along the line.
• Speed limit for lorries to increase
Just across the aisle is the next stop – the quality gate – where we find out if we’ve been doing the job properly. Armed with a tablet linked to the order system, we circle each tractor looking for faults as it rolls past. A computer system logs problems that dealers or owners have found as tractors have been delivered, and these are added to the checks to make sure the same factory mistakes aren’t repeated.
Once the tractors have passed through quality control, the enormous wheels with their chunky tyres are fitted. We’re let loose with a wheel gun and allowed to do our best impression of a Formula One pitstop, only on a slightly larger – and much slower – scale.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has announced shock plans to sell off supercar maker, Ferrari, in an attempt to generate revenue for its €48 billion (£38bn) turnaround plan.
A total of 10 per cent of the company will be offered on the stock market, with the remaining 90 per cent going to existing FCA shareholders. The sale of Ferrari will help support the Group’s long-term success, as it focuses on its more mainstream brands such as Fiat, Jeep and Alfa Romeo.
The Board has authorised FCA management to complete the necessary transactions sometime next year. Although it is unconfirmed, the FCA expects the Ferrari shares to be listed in the US and possibly on a European stock exchange.
• Ferrari 458 Italia review
John Elkann, Chairman on FCA, said: “The separation of Ferrari will preserve the cherished Italian heritage and unique position of the Ferrari business and allow FCA shareholders to continue to benefit from the substantial value inherent in this business”
The news comes just weeks after the FCA was floated on the New York Stock Exchange, for the first time since 1998.
FCA CEO, Sergio Marchionne, added: “As we move forward to secure the 2014-2018 Business Plan and work toward maximizing the value of our businesses to our shareholders, it is proper that we pursue separate paths for FCA and Ferrari.
“The Board supports management’s determination that this transaction represents FCA’s best course of action to support the long term success of the Group while at the same time substantially strengthening FCA’s capital base.”
In-car technology is evolving at a rapid rate as motor manufacturers continue to develop groundbreaking solutions, every one improved on the last, to make drivers’ lives easier.
Leading the way in producing some of the most pioneering in-car technology available is Harman, which has teamed up with theFiat group to provide original equipment for everything from the humble Fiat Panda to the exclusive Ferrari F12 Berlinetta.
We headed to Harman’s new offices, stationed less than a mile away from Fiat’s headquarters in Turin in northern Italy, to find out what this new wave of in-car entertainment promises.
Most of the concepts we saw won’t be available immediately, but should start to be rolled out on production models over the next 10 years. And they won’t be restricted to the Fiat group, as many rival car manufacturers are waiting in the wings with similar concepts to those we tried out.
From advanced smartphone integration to widescreen TVs in autonomous vehicles, here is what the future holds for in-car technology.
Remote firmware updates
By equipping a car’s stereo with 3G – the tech most smartphones use – makers can update on-board software remotely. This saves drivers the hassle of updating when new software has been released for troubleshooting, to reconfigure the display or to install fresh sat-nav maps. It’s all done at the driver’s convenience as programmers will send out invites to update, although data files are being kept small to suit 3G’s limited bandwidth capabilities. Faster 4G will surely follow.
Collecting consumer data is important to the likes of Harman to help improve future hardware. Engineers can collate software crash reports from in-car entertainment systems to prevent them recurring.
• Do black box telematics really work?
Plus, data will even give exact feedback of what consumers are using – not just essential functions, but how often steering wheel controls are used compared to touchscreen controls, for example. Makers can then design new hardware around these usage patterns.
To fit a lot of music on to a device such as a smartphone, audio files need to be compressed – but this in turn hits sound quality. Clari-Fi rebuilds what’s lost in the compression process and works with all common audio files.
• Meridian sound-system impresses in our long-term Range Rover
It’s not restricted to smartphone music files – it also extends to audio streamed from YouTube, Spotify and other Web-based services. Clari-Fi is an app, and for it to work you’ll need a tiny piece of hardware, fitted to the head unit or to an amplifier.
Front-facing multimedia screens
If fully autonomous cars ever become widespread, this futuristic idea could be a reality. In this Rinspeed Tesla Model S, a widescreen TV sits in front of the rear window. With the front-facing screen, you can watch movies, play video games and access content also available to view on the dash display while the car is moving. The two front seats simply spin around so driver and passenger watch the screen as the car takes control.
Tablet-based infotainment system
There are already some aftermarket in-car tablet holders, while Tesla has a similar large screen in its Model S, but solutions like this from Harman offer full integration in more mainstream cars. From controlling music and entering sat-nav routes to configuring car settings, it’ll have a key role to play. A tablet could replace gauges like the speedo, while monitors would stop it performing tasks if it knows the driver is busy, such as taking calls.
Oakland infotainment platform
Harman’s Oakland infotainment platform aims to achieve seamless integration with phones, cameras, dash instruments etc. The system builds on set-ups like Apple CarPlay to establish a wireless mirror link between smartphone and dash display, so apps like Google Maps can be used to navigate on the go.Meanwhile, front and rear-facing cameras can interact with hi-tech systems such as autobraking and lane-keep assist.
The existing range of car entertainment systems made by Harman is found in most new cars within the Fiat group, but the platform and structure are the same – whether it’s in a budget Fiat or top-spec Ferrari. Fiat group brands build over four million cars a year, so using similar parts between models saves costs in the mass-production process. Several rival manufacturers have already copied this, and others are set to follow.
Aha interactive internet services
Many drivers have used Aha in their car before, but perhaps only to stream digital radio. Yet this Web-based service can do much more, even reading out content from apps that would normallyonly be available via text – from news and E-mails to social media updates. Drivers receiving text messages can use Aha to respond via voice control, plus it partners sat-nav software, so it can find points of interest, such as restaurants or hotels.
The Auto Express Used Car Awards 2015, in association with Warrantywise, will be published in the 7 October issue of Auto Express and onfrom the same date. The Awards will name the best second-hand cars in 16 key classes of the market, as well as crowning Used Car of the Year.
Warrantywise is the UK’s leading car warranty company, providing warranty services to many of the country’s largest dealer groups. It is a family business and the senior partners have a wealth of experience, having operated in the used car warranty market for more than 20 years.
• Britain’s best used cars 2014
An expert panel made up of Steve Fowler (Auto Express editor-in-chief), Graham Hope (deputy editor), James Disdale (road test editor), Joe Finnerty (consumer editor) and Lawrence Whittaker (Warrantywise CEO) assessed cars’ on-road ability, practicality, residual values, warranty history and ownership experience – based on their performance in Auto Express’s market-leading Driver Power survey – to find 2015’s years winning cars.
Whittaker said: “Judging the best used cars is easier for me than most as, through Warrantywise, I have reliability data dating back 15 years on pretty well every car sold in the UK. We have also taken into consideration driveability and depreciation as well.”
No less than 16 classes were considered: city cars, superminis, premium small cars, compact family cars, estates, family cars, crossovers, compact SUVs, large SUVs, compact executive cars, executive cars, coupes, MPVs, cabriolets, sports cars and luxury cars.