If Your Car Could Talk, Secrets It Might Tell You

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Modern cars are amazing technical accomplishments, perhaps more than you realize. Here’s are a few insights Penske Automotive Group wanted to share with you so you are better in tuned with your vehicle.

Ironically, as cars get more advanced, motorists seem to know less about them and take them for granted. A hundred years ago, you practically needed to be an engineer to drive a car. In the 1950s-1960s most drivers regularly checked their own oil and could identify a spark plug on sight. Today, it’s rare to find a driver who can shift a manual transmission, much less explain even one of the many standard safety features.  As cars morph into appliances it makes it difficult for society to understand just how advanced these machines have become or how difficult it might be to improve them further.

To illustrate the point, here are five common but rarely understood aspects of the modern car.

Did You Know Your Car Is Recording You?

Just like in an airplane cars are equipped with an event data recorder or “black box.” Normally part of the system that knows when to deploy the airbags, the event data recorder continuously tracks a multitude of facts, such as the vehicle’s acceleration rate, speed, various engine functions, seat belt use and more. Furthermore, the data are continuously overwritten, so just the few last seconds of data before an accident may be available. The idea is to give accident investigators a big boost in understanding why a vehicle crashed.

Did You Know Your Car Can Phone Home?

What if your car isn’t running right and you take it to the Penske Automotive Group for service? The standard procedure is to plug the car into a computerized diagnostic machine that interrogates the car’s onboard computers to see what they’ve experienced lately. This is the source of the “fault codes” your technician may have mentioned. But in cases that are particularly difficult to diagnose, the car’s computer may be linked to computers at the car manufacturer’s headquarters. Using the dealership’s data link, the car can “phone home” for the latest servicing or technical updates. Furthermore, a car’s computer software can be updated through these links.

Did You Know Your Car Will Last Longer Than You Think, but Watch Out?

Owners have long joked that cars are designed to last a couple of days past their warranty period, then fall apart. Well, it isn’t much of a joke anymore. Engineers can forecast the life span of parts more accurately than ever. During the development process auto manufacturers spend a lot of time diagnosing the weaknesses and find solutions extending lifetime span. Just how long is a car’s lifetime? It varies, but 150,000 miles or 10 years is typical. Clearly, cars can serve longer than this. Rely on Penske Automotive Group Service department and we’ll make sure you hit this milestone.

Did You Know Your Car Can Brake By Itself?

Originally, if a car’s brakes were to come on, the driver had to step on the brake pedal. No driver, no brakes — end of story. But in the 1980s, anti-lock braking systems added control circuits and a pump to build hydraulic pressure, which activates the brakes. Shortly thereafter, stability control systems were developed to minimize dangerous skids. More recently, research has shown that many drivers don’t apply the brakes hard enough in panic stops, so some cars apply the brakes even harder if the computer thinks it necessary. And now, with the recent advent of radar-guided cruise control, the car’s computers will also apply the brakes if the driver doesn’t and the computer concludes the car is going to run into something. It’s all part of an ongoing movement toward self-driving cars.

Did You Know Your Car Is Recyclable?

OK, so at the end of 10 years you can’t simply leave your car next to the blue bin for curbside recycling — but the reality is very nearly that case. Long before recycling was trendy, major automakers had in-house guidelines for the disposition of the cars they made. Today, many automakers estimate that 85 percent of each car, by weight, is recyclable. Manufacturers have discovered the financial and marketing benefits of starting with sustainable, “green” materials. Recycled plastics are now common in components such as splash shields and engine covers. Seat cushions and other interior trim parts are increasingly made from soy and biomass extended foam.

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