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Would You Get Behind the Wheel of the Self-Driving Car?

Have you been following the latest news on self-driving cars? There have been updates as of late on the newest automobile technology, automated vehicles.

There has been a lot of buzz on the topic as the technology becomes further developed and the “how will this work” debate continues.

We compiled some information for you on what a self-driving car is and how it is anticipated to work.

How Does a Self-Driving Car Work?

Essentially, automated vehicles are cars that don’t need human drivers. Current motor vehicles require a driver; automated vehicles would drive us around rather than have us drive them.

This system takes place using a series of GPS, lasers, processors and software. A destination is programmed into the system and the vehicles computes point A to B and drives the passenger there.

Software systems installed into automated vehicles require an ability to deeply interpret environmental factors; to recognize and respond to current traffic infrastructure, like roundabouts, underpasses, pedestrian crossing, speed bumps and more.

What are the Perceived Benefits?

Many benefits of this technology have been argued. They would include:

  • Less traffic accidents caused by human error: people often drive unsafely, too fast, too slow, distracted, tired, or under the influence of substances. Automated vehicles would eliminate the human risk factor associated with driving, decreasing collision.
  • Commuting could be used as time to read, meditate, sleep, or work.
  • People currently unable to drive would have a new transportation option, for example elderly, or disabled persons.
  • “If only 10 percent of cars and trucks on the road were self-driving, they could reduce traffic deaths by 1,000 per year and produce nearly $38 billion in economic and other savings,” said the study by the Eno Center for Transportation, a foundation dedicated to improving transportation.
  • “If 90 percent of vehicles were self-driving, as many as 21,700 lives per year could be saved, and economic and other benefits could reach a staggering $447 billion,” said the same study.
  • “Platooning” would take place. This would happen when a mass amount of self-driving cars are on the road together; they would collect near each other, yet at a safe distance apart and move in a pod, decreasing stop and go traffic, and reducing fuel-burning. This would make traffic patterns smoother and decrease drive times.

 

Perceived Safety Implications and Objections

Just as there are perceived benefits of this new technology, there have also been perceived obstacles of use and adaptation.

Safety implications and objections currently being discussed include:

  • Integrating the new technology with current infrastructure will take some time, delaying release dates.
  • Ethical questions are involved, such as how do you program a vehicle to respond in the event of two unfavourable circumstances. Say for example, “Should an automated car drive its passengers off a cliff to avoid crashing into a peloton of cyclists on a mountain road? Working out the laws that apply to automated vehicles adds further complications,” states Sven Beiker, executive director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University.
  • Safety standards for manufacturing will play a part in how safe the vehicles will be. A reduction of accidents caused by human error may be replaced by computer error if the manufacturing process isn’t fail-safe.

 

Companies Working on Technology

self-driving car

Many see automated vehicles as the future of the automotive industry. At this time many automotive manufacturers are in various stages of research and development.

Companies include Ford, General Motors and Nissan, which are rumoured to be the furthest along. It has been reported that Audi, BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo have also begun testing driverless systems.

Google’s self-driving cars have seen well over 600,000 km of drive time on California public roads.

When Experts Think it Will be Available

Companies are estimating the technology to be available as early at 2020. The delay is not necessarily in the development of the technology itself, but in the current infrastructure and consumer behaviour.

For vehicles to be fully automated, vehicles on the road would have to be connected to one another, exchanging information about speed, proximity, direction etc.

As the self-driving car technology continues to be developed it will likely be slowly integrated. Sven Beiker says “the first self-driving car is more likely to be a geeky little mobility pod on the roads around a shopping mall than an automated supercar cruising along the freeway. As the problems of existing traffic, laws, and infrastructure are solved, those pods might grow in size, functionality, and speed. They could graduate to surface roads and dedicated highway lanes. Only after that could we get fully automated personal vehicles,” he explains.

California has requested that licensing protocol is prepared by 2015. Three states, California, Florida and Nevada, have passed laws to regulate the licensing and operations of self-driving cars.

Some of the technology that would be incorporated in automated cars is already available in vehicles on the market: examples are adaptive cruise control, adjusting cruise control speed to adjust with traffic, parking assistance systems, showing drivers what is behind them and warning drivers with a beeping alarm when they are getting close to backing into something.

What Do You Think?

Would you put your trust in a self-driving car? Would you buy one if it was on the market today?

For more information check out Reddit’s compilation on self-driving cars. http://www.reddit.com/r/SelfDrivingCars/

 

 

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Tire Installation Calgary – What to Know and Where to Go

tire installation calgary

Do you have winter tires and wheels ready to go? Need them balanced and mounted?

Here is some information on what that means, how to tell when you need it done, and where to go to get it done.

We’ve noticed a lot of people have been wondering what is the best tire installation Calgary offers? Tire installation includes mounting tires and balancing wheels.

Tire Mounting

This process includes placing the tires onto the wheels/rims and then installing them onto the axels of the vehicle.

It is important that this process is performed by a professional with the knowhow and proper equipment.

Tire beads must be seated accurately and mounted securely on the wheel. It is important that the wheel be in good condition, not at all bent or damaged.

Next, the hub of the axel must be clear of dirt or debris prior to mounting the tire. Any dirt or debris may cause the tire to be placed unevenly, which could cause pressure or tension to be placed on the other components. With the wheel evenly seated the lug nuts should be properly torqued to the bolts.

Wheel Balancing

Balanced wheels can greatly affect the driving experience as well as the longevity of your tires.

A balanced wheel means that the distribution of weight is even. When the tire is mounted on the axle the weight of the tire is uniform around the axel, there are no areas heavier than others.

The benefit of balanced wheels is to improve performance and decrease unnecessary wear on the tires.

An out of balance wheel will cause vibrations while spinning, making certain areas of the tire wear more quickly than others, due to more pressure and friction placed on that specific area. This can lead to balding of tires, tire blowout or simply needing to replace tires more frequently than the quality of the tire deems necessary. It also wears down bearings, shocks and other suspension mechanisms.

The Process Behind Wheel Balancing

Wheel balancing is completed with the wheels off the vehicle.

A trained technician will use a machine designated to testing the where the tire and wheel assembly is off balance.

One at a time, each tire and wheel is measured using the machine, by a series of spinning diagnostic tests.

From there the technician can correct areas that are off by redistributing the weight at those specific areas. This is done by placing small weights to the rim at those locations.

Tire Installation – How to DIY

It is important to consider your level of comfort and expertise with vehicles before attempting any DIY. In addition one must have the proper tools required for the job.

Here is a video on proper tire installation:

 

[youtube height=”600px” width=”100%”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLGvo1Zg_1E[/youtube]

 

Tire and wheel packages may be purchased, where the tires arrive mounted on the wheel and balanced.

If you have purchased a tire/wheel package here’s a link to instructions on how to install the package c/o Tirerack.com.

Does Quality Matter?

One may ask; does quality matter when having a tire installation done or should I go with the lowest price?

It is important to make sure the shop you choose to install your tires has qualified staff that care about their craftsmanship and have the proper tools for the job. You want to make sure the staff will take care of your rims, not scratch them, and balance them properly.

When it comes to your vehicle, safety is of paramount importance. Make sure the shop you go with take appropriate precautionary measures.

Basic precautions and observations include:

  • Ensuring tire beads are securely mounted
  • Inspecting that the wheel is not bent or damaged
  • Checking there is no build-up of dirt or debris between the hub and the wheel
  • Ensuring the lugs have been properly torqued
  • Checking the wheel is securely seated on the hub

Check consumer reviews before choosing a shop.

Tire Installation Calgary – Cost and Locations

Cost varies between $60.00 and $100.00 for an installation with balancing. Cost can depend on the size/type of your vehicle.

Once your tires are in check, see what else you need to prepare for winter driving.

 

 

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Car Battery Calgary – What to Know and Where to Go

car battery calgaryMany of the questions people are asking online pertain to replacing vehicle components. Recently we posted on wheel repair, knowing when you need a wheel repair and where to go to get one.

Similarly, customers often ask about replacing their car batteries. Winter is a time of year when above all, you want your battery to be strong and healthy so your car starts in those frigid winter temperatures.

What is the best car battery Calgary offers?  Below is a post on car batteries in Calgary; knowing what to look for when considering replacing your battery, and knowing where to go to buy one.

Signs you need to replace your car battery

There are many signs to look for that indicates it is time to replace your battery.

Firstly, and most obviously, if your car battery is dead it may need to be replaced. To ensure your vehicle isn’t experiencing a deeper problem with the electrical components, like a weak alternator, have your car battery strength tested at an automotive shop.

This should be a part of routine vehicle maintenance, so ask to have it done next time you take your car in for an oil change.

Other signs your battery may need to be replaced include:

Age: a typical, well maintained, battery can last four or five years. Any older and it may be time for a new one.

Driving habits: if your vehicle is left sitting for long periods of time the battery can wear down. Also, repetitive short trips can also zap the battery life.

Appearance: corrosion or staining on the battery can indicate a leak. Look for build-up around the terminals. Safely clean build-up around terminals to improve the connection, (gloves recommended).

Odor: if an odor is apparent it may also be time to replace your battery, a sulphur smell or burning smell specifically.

Types of car batteries

Once you have determined that your battery needs to be replaced, how do you know what kind of battery to buy?

There are many on the market to choose from. Here are some tips on how to select one.

Manufacturer’s date: check to see when the battery was made. The more recent the better as it will extend the usable life of the battery.

Typically batteries should be purchased within six months of the manufacturer’s date.

Group size: this is a measurement indicating the placement of the battery terminals. Make sure the one you buy matches the one you currently have.  Often car batteries will be grouped in the year, make and model of vehicle, making it easy to identify which battery will work for your car.

Cold cranking amps (CCA): CCA measures the temperature at which the battery will start. This is an especially important consideration for Calgary’s climate.

The higher the CCA, the better the battery can start in colder climates. This measurement will often be located on the battery sticker. As a benchmark a 700 CCA rating measures a battery’s ability to start at 0oF which is -17oC. Smaller vehicles take less energy to start than larger vehicles.

Reserve capacity: You may need to ask a technician or salesperson to find this number when purchasing a battery. It can be difficult to find. It indicates how long your vehicle can run off battery power alone if the alternator stops working.

Check the battery manual or specs online to find out, or call the manufacturer.

The best car battery Calgary offers?

There are many places you can purchase a car battery in Calgary. The best car battery for you depends on what you need. Here are a few popular spots:

Costco car battery

Costco Calgary carries a selection of batteries, again when selecting be careful that the group size matches your current battery.

Kirkland Signature Battery has been rated online at carsdirect.com stating:

“This range of car batteries is perhaps one of the most affordable batteries. You sacrifice nothing with this battery, as it has excellent cold amp rankings and great performance. The battery is offered through Costco and the specs match Optima batteries. This is one of your best choices, as the performance and quality is that of a high performance battery, but the price is much less.”

Canadian tire car battery

Canadian Tire carries MotoMaster brand.

This brand has been described by various reviews as affordable and good value for the price. There is a three year warranty on the product, so if well maintained, it seems like a safe bet buy.

Walmart car battery

Walmart carries Energizer batteries for vehicles. Reviews indicate these to be less expensive than MotoMaster, and last longer in colder climates.

Again, it is best to check the CCA rating to be sure. Also consider length of warranty.

How long should a vehicle battery last?

If properly maintained a car batter can last four to five years. Premature battery drainage can be caused by a number of factors such as:

  • Repetitive undercharging
  • Repetitive overcharging
  • Abuse
  • Vibration
  • Long periods of resting without turning your car on

So to review, proper battery maintenance extends the useful life of your product. Routine care can extend your battery life to four or five years.

If you have determined you need a new battery consider the manufacturers date, group size, CCA rating and reserve capacity. Then check the battery warranty when you go to buy.

With this information you should be able to get the best car battery Calgary offers for you requirements.

Check to see what else you should check before winter driving season starts.

If you have any questions please give us a shout. We would be happy to assist.

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Winter Driving – 8 Steps to Winterizing Your Vehicle

winter drivingAs much as it may be tough to face the facts, Calgary Winter is around the corner.

In a few months we will be faced with the reality of shorter days, colder temperatures, and probably even the ‘S’ word. No not that ‘S’ word. I mean SNOW!

Now, I am not sure if you’ve noticed this, I know I have, it’s the same every year. It seems every Calgary driver that has driven in Calgary winters for who knows how many years just down right forgets how to drive in the winter.

Every year, first snowfall, there are cars in the ditch, bumper humpers peppering the streets, and preposterous traffic delays everywhere as a result. (On that note stay tuned for an article to come soon on bumper repair).

How can we as a collective avoid this during winter driving? One way is to make sure your vehicle is ready for winter conditions.

Here are eight tips to help you out:

Battery

The battery of your car is like its heart. Without it properly functioning, you’re not going anywhere, and winter driving with a bad battery is a disaster waiting to happen. To ensure proper maintenance of your battery check the following:

  • Are the posts and connections corrosion-free? Corrosion looks like white, crusty residue and if it build up it becomes difficult for your vehicle to connect to the battery, ie: car won’t start. Whether you clean them yourself or have your battery serviced it is up to you and your know-how and comfort level, just get `er done!
  • How old is your battery? If it is older than three years have it tested. Its ability to hold a charge diminishes over time.
  • If you do have an older battery make sure to carry an extension cord with you and plug the vehicle in when temperatures reach around -15C to -20C or lower.

 

Tires For Winter Driving

I cannot stress enough the importance of winter tires. We live at the base of the Rocky Mountains for crying out loud, in a continental climate, this means snow and cold arctic exposure. Snow tires help maintain traction during winter driving.

Whether your vehicle is a rear-wheel drive sports car, a front-wheel drive sedan or an all-wheel drive SUV, the most effective safety measure one can have is the “contact patch”, this is the section of tire that touches the road.

No matter your AWD system, winter tires = good grip on the road, are an important safety measure.

“All-season tires do not have cold weather rubber compounds, channelling tread patterns, the large number of tread sipes (tiny slits in the tread blocks) for wet surface control, and the open tread block pattern for deep snow traction that winter tires feature,” explains fountaintire.com.

To ensure a good quality winter tire look for a snowflake symbol.

Windshield

Do you have a crack or chip in your windshield? Summer road trips are the culprit of much windshield damage. No big deal, these small cracks and abrasions can be fixed quite easily. Especially if caught while they are still small.

It is wise to deal with these before the weather drops. Holes and cracks leave the glass subject to retraction and expansion with fluctuating weather. As a result small issues can spider web out overnight. If this happens, a full windshield replacement may be necessary.

Make sure to repair any windshield damage before snow and freezing rain. Your visibility is important in the winter so improve it by ensuring your windshield is in great condition.

You should also determine if you need a full windshield replacement.

Windshield Wiper Blades

Check your wiper blades. Any blemishes in the field of vision may indicate a damaged wiper blade. Streaks or areas left unclear after the wiper has swiped are indications you may need a new wiper blade.

Mr. Windshield Wiper Blades very aptly states, “A windshield wiper has no protective cover, of course. Even when not in use, it sits in its receptacle between the windshield and the hood subjected to the wind, rain and sun, 24 hours of every day, 365 days of every year. A wiper blade begins deteriorating the very minute it’s installed to the vehicle.”

So how often shoulwindshield_wipersd you have your wiper blades replaced?

If there are visible symptoms such as splitting, cracking, disintegration, discolouration, etc. those are sure-fire signs it’s time for a new blade.

The useful life of a wiper blade in generally around a year, however this differs depending on what your wipers are made out of.

Ordinary rubber has the shortest life span, halogen-hardened rubber a bit longer, and silicone the longest. Life span on the two latter materials can be over a year, up to three depending on use and weather conditions.

For more information read our post on windshield wipers.

 

Other Things to Consider

  • Four Wheel Drive? If your vehicle has four wheel drive, check the system to make sure it’s functioning correctly before tackling winter driving.
  • Antifreeze topped up? Does your radiator have the correct amount of antifreeze, and has it been mixed properly?
  • Emergency Kit? Just in case, make sure to keep the following in your car; a blanket, extra gloves, hats and scarves, a car cell phone charger, an extension cord, a scraper, jumper cables, a spare tire, a first aid kit, a flashlight. If you get stuck or stranded these items can literally save your life.

 

Be Cautious

Drive the appropriate speed for the conditions. Yes there are maximum speed limits however this doesn’t mean you have to go that fast. Slow down when road conditions are poor and take your time to drive alertly and defensively.

Stay tuned for a post on bumper repair.

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Wheel Repair Calgary – What to Know and Where to Go

At All Makes Collision Centre we are experts in what we do: auto body and glass repair. Recently we have noticed people asking about wheel repair.

While we do not do wheel repair, we outsource it to one of our colleagues at Alberta Wheel Repair & Restoration.
They are our trusted source for the best wheel repair Calgary offers.

None-the-less we would love to give you some information on when you may need a wheel repair, what a fair price looks like, when to do it yourself and other tips about wheel repair.

When You may Need a Wheel Repair

Wheel repair can be necessary in many types of scenarios. Alberta Wheel Repair & Restoration lists all the types of wheel repair:

  • Damage Repairs & Restorations
  • Paint & Polish
  • Straightening
  • Alloy, Steel & Magnesium Wheels
  • Bolt Hole Repairs
  • Motorcycle Wheels
  • Truck Wheels: Repair & Ridge Rebuilding for 22.5″ and 24.5″ Wheels
  • Certified Aluminum Welding Procedures

Wheel damage is often caused by hitting a curb with a wheel. The impact can break pieces off the wheel, scratch, dent or remove paint from the wheel. Going over potholes and speed bumps too fast are other common causes of wheel damage.

Your wheel can be repaired, from refinishing to straightening and even welding.

Where to Go

As previously mentioned we outsource our wheel repair to the experts at Alberta Wheel Repair & Restoration. They have the proper tools, equipment and know how.

wheel repair calgary

DIY Versus Wheel Repair at a Shop

It is possible to DIY your wheel repair project. Of course time and skill are two factors to consider if you want to DIY. If you are a handy person who enjoys projects then DIY is a great option and saves you the labour costs of having it done professionally.

If however, you are not the handy type who likes side projects than getting it done professionally will likely save you time and frustration.

Here is a video that explain how to do it yourself:

[youtube height=”500″ width=”100%”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nkEZJajlNo[/youtube]

How Long Does a Wheel Repair Take?

Turn-around time can vary depending on the scope of the job. Here is a guide to go by:

  • Refinishing One Wheel – 2-3 days
  • Refinishing a Set of Wheels – 3-5 days
  • Straightening – 1 day
  • Cracks – 3-4 days

Turn-around time can also vary depending on the work load any given week or time of the year.

The busiest times of the year for wheel repair tend to be late fall, before snowfall, early spring and sporadically throughout summer.

What is a Fair Price on a Wheel Repair in Calgary?

Prices on wheel repair vary depending on the type and scope of service.

On average refinishing a single wheel is around $100.00-$150.00. Straightening is around $75.00-$100.00. Welding and straightening is around $100.00-$150.00.

Having said that, there are variables that affect the cost of a wheel repair. It is recommended that a unique quote be given for each scenario.

What Variables Affect Pricing?

Variables include the following:

  • Number of wheels
  • Type of wheels
  • Damage incurred

Labour time can vary job to job so the time it will take to repair your wheel will impact the quote.

Do you have any tips or suggestions about wheel repair in Calgary? Was this blog post helpful?

 

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