During the last few years, BMW’s commitment to create the cars their mantra proudly calls, “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, has been called in to question as the company has continually rolled out vehicles that are less about exciting the enthusiast, but more about appealing to the average consumer in the ever-expanding global luxury car market. By incrementally increasing the size of their product offerings and releasing cars that only appeal to a niche market, auto enthusiasts have readied their pitchforks in protest saying the company’s recent direction is diluting the brand the world has come to love. However, with recent releases of the M235i and the M3/M4 twins that have auto-journalists like Chris Harris singing the praises of the Bavarian wonder, enthusiasts are beginning to find to calm down. In this article by Tom McParland of Jalopnik, BMW fans are further reassured as he tells of his experience at BMW’s recent Free Ultimate Driving Experience. http://carbuying.jalopnik.com/bmws-free-ultimate-driving-experience-is-better-than-so-1608111340
Author: Patrick George
You never really get a good night’s sleep in jail. In the middle of my second night inside, I woke up on the uncomfortable plastic mat in my cell, my neck and back aching. I looked down at my orange jail scrubs and up at the buzzing fluorescent light and thought, “I am here because I drove too fast in a Camaro ZL1.”
At that moment, the whole thing seemed pretty funny. As funny as it could have been considering I was in jail for three days, at least.
I knew I would be in trouble a month earlier, when I blasted the ZL1 down a rural straightaway in Virginia and then saw the state trooper’s blue-and-silver Ford Taurus peeking out from the side of the road. I slowed down when I saw him, but his lights came on right away.
The trooper pulled me over and said he had me on radar doing 93 mph in a 55 mph zone. I figured it would be a nasty ticket. It wasn’t, because I got nailed in Virginia, a state where the police and the courts take speeding more seriously than possibly anywhere else in America. A fun day in a very powerful car just got a lot less fun.
On Friday, July 25, my wife dropped me off at the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail in Front Royal. I was escorted inside by a guard, handcuffed, booked, and had my mugshot taken. I was given a set of orange and white striped jail scrubs and a plastic mat and ushered into a big room with two stories of cells on either side. This would be home for the weekend.
I’m not trying to sound like a hardass or anything, but I wasn’t scared. I just wanted to get the three days I had been sentenced to over with.
To answer your inevitable questions right away, I didn’t get raped (that happens in prison more than jail) I didn’t get my ass kicked (that does happen in jail but it didn’t happen to me) and I wasn’t forced to participate in “inmate fight club” for the sick pleasure of the guards.
None of those fantastical things needed to happen. My jail experience sucked just fine on its own. You might think you can just wait it out, like you’re stuck at an airport, but it’s not like that at all.
There’s nothing nice about being confined somewhere, cut off from the outside world, and totally at the mercy of some bureaucracy who may or may not lose your discharge papers on a whim.
When I was pulled over during a press drive earlier this summer, I had been living in Washington D.C. for about a year and a half. In that time, I had been warned repeatedly — by ex-Virginia resident Matt Hardigree, by many of our readers, and by a host of other people — that you don’t ever speed in Virginia. But I had no clue just how serious the consequences would be. Maybe “serious” isn’t the right word. After everything that happened, “ridiculous” seems a little more accurate.
It started out the same way as any other press drive: breakfast, a presentation about how swell things are at Chevrolet these days, a briefing on the prescribed route we’d be driving on, and a warning that cops were out there and that we shouldn’t break any laws. Another writer chimed in to say how many points you could get on your license if you were caught speeding in Virginia.
I remember hearing all of this, and noting it. But then I got behind the wheel of the ZL1 later in the day, and we set out on some of the fantastic backroads and rural highways in the Shenandoah Valley.
Let me tell you something about the Camaro ZL1: it is obscenely, unbelievably fast. That supercharged 6.2-liter V8 has just an endless well of power at its disposal. Thrust feels unlimited, like you just turned on a fire hose that sprays horsepower and torque instead of water. It feels like it can outrun anything. It feels like it wants to pick on Lamborghinis at elementary school, stealing their lunch money and shoving their faces in the dirt. In terms of pure acceleration, the ZL1 makes the new Corvette Stingray — certainly no slouch in that department — feel like the piece of shit Honda Civic you drove in college.
“The power is intoxicating,” a GM PR man said as he rode shotgun with me. Intoxicating. That was a good way to put it. There were moments, brief but incredibly fast moments, where the power seemed to turn off the rational centers of my brain. With the road clear ahead of us and really no one around, I did a few brief high-speed runs, indulging in the immense power and the supercharger’s whine.
When we test a fast car on public roads we have to walk a fine line. We have to see what these cars can do, but aren’t supposed to drive dangerously or flagrantly break the law. If we do, we’re on the hook for the ticket or the arrest. And I was having a little too much fun in this ZL1.
Given what I was convicted of, I expected most of the inmates in my section to be people like me, low-level fuckups who drove too fast or didn’t pay their child support.
They weren’t. Almost everyone I met had been in prison — prison, not jail — at least once. Most were in for drugs or parole and probation violations, serving months-long sentences or awaiting trials. One guy was there because he strangled his girlfriend.
I made friends with one inmate who was about my age. He was an artist, and had a chess set he made out of loose pieces of paper. We played a few games together. He was a heroin addict. I gave him the white thermal sweater I brought in with me when I left. In for a seven month sentence, I figured he needed it more than I did. He was a good guy, just one whose drug habit kept putting him back in jail or on the streets.
I don’t say this because I looked down on anyone I met inside. Quite the opposite. After this I feel bad for anyone who has had to experience jail, regardless of what they did. Then again, jail is supposed to suck and there are a plenty of people who deserve to be in there. That’s the entire point.
Most everyone I met inside was pretty decent to a jail newbie like me. They were just trying to do their time and get out, the same as I was. Same with the correctional officers I dealt with. Who really wants that job, anyway?
One thing that really drove me nuts is that all everyone talks about in jail is why they’re in there, how much time they have left, how their lawyer or a judge screwed them over, how they got framed by their friend, how the bitch lied to the cops and set him up. Their stories got old pretty quickly.
We missed a left turn off Route 211, so I decided to drive further down the road and loop around. I gunned it again, rowing through the gears, and then backed off when I saw the State Trooper’s car parked beside the road. It all happened very quickly, and I’m not joking when I say that — the trooper had me going 93 mph, something instrumented testing at Road & Tracksays happens in only about seven seconds.
I should be very clear that we were out on some rural, remote back roads. These roads weren’t anywhere near schools or towns, and have lots of curves and very little traffic. I did what a lot of us have done — I was in a powerful car in the middle of nowhere, and I opened it up when I thought it was safe and when I thought I could get away with it. Clearly, I didn’t.
During the traffic stop the trooper was polite and professional. My passenger the GM rep explained whose car it was and that we were on a media drive. The trooper told me I was going way too fast in a 55 mph zone and he had to charge me with reckless driving. (By the way, telling the cop you’re a journalist doesn’t get you out of speeding tickets. Quite the opposite, in some cases.)
The trooper also took the time to explain what that meant, legally speaking, to a transplant like me not familiar with the local laws. That was kind of him. I wasn’t arrested, I was merely given a summons to appear in court. He didn’t impound the ZL1 either, which I’m told he easily could have done.
We were released and allowed to continue the drive, but I didn’t put in much seat time after that, riding shotgun with another writer back to the hotel. I wasn’t in the mood to drive at all, fast or otherwise.
I told a handful of friends I would be going to jail for a weekend. All of them were floored, since I apparently don’t come off as the jail-going type, and almost every person asked if it would be like Orange Is The New Black. Apparently a softcore porn on Netflix is everyone’s sole frame of reference for prison and jail, which is kind of hilarious and sad considering the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any nation in the world. But I digress.
Mostly, jail is boring as sin. There were no books to read. There were no weights to lift. There were no clocks inside either, not that time matters much. They locked us in our cells for at least half the day and we spent the rest of the time milling around a common area or a walled-off half basketball court. The food is barely that, meeting only the minimum amount of state-mandated daily calories and nothing else.
I guess you’re supposed to just sit around contemplating what a burden you are to the taxpayers, which was about $104 a day in my case, if you’re curious.
My time inside wasn’t some horrible, hell-on-earth situation, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience. If your only experience with jail is what you’ve seen on TV or in movies, you don’t have a clue how much it sucks. On the plus side, the RSW Regional Jail was a new facility, one that just opened this summer and was nice as far as jails go.
This also meant it had plumbing issues and a staff who didn’t know what they were doing yet, which led to a lot of confusion among inmates about exactly when and how they were supposed to be released.
I should probably explain why going into Virginia to have fun in a car is a bad idea in the first place. See, they’re crazy about speeding there. Really, really crazy. Speed limits are set absurdly low, 45 mph on some highways. Radar detectors are illegal, and cops have devices to detect them. And if you get caught going over 80 mph at all, that’s automatically a reckless driving charge.
Reckless driving is not a traffic citation, it’s a criminal charge, and a Class One misdemeanor at that. That means it’s the highest level of misdemeanor you can be charged with in Virginia, right below a felony. The maximum penalty for a reckless driving conviction is a $2,500 fine, a six month driver’s license suspension, and up to a year in jail.
See what I mean when I told you it’s serious? They hand it out like it’s Halloween candy, too. You drive 20 mph over the limit, it’s reckless driving. They even charge you with it for failing to properly signal, or when you’re found to be at fault in a car wreck. I’ve heard of some cases where people get 30 days in jail if they speed over 100 mph.
Other Class One misdemeanors in Virginia include animal cruelty, sexual battery, and aiming a firearm at someone. This is how the state regards people who drive over 80 mph.
I do think Virginia’s speed laws are absurdly harsh, especially as a native of Texas where 80 mph is an almost universally accepted highway speed by most drivers and where a toll road just outside of Austin lets you go 85 mph. There, this probably would have been a really expensive speeding ticket; maybe even one I could get dismissed with defensive driving. I covered the courts for a long time when I was a newspaper reporter in Austin, and I was floored to learn Virginia actually sends people to jail just for speeding.
But that doesn’t excuse what I did. I came into Virginia and broke their laws; I drove way too fast. This is my fault and no one else’s. (Well, maybe the ZL1′s.) This wasn’t one of those moments where I got nailed going 5 mph over in some ridiculously low section of a county designed only for revenue collection; how could I justify going 93 in a 55 when I went to court, I wondered?
I didn’t go out of my way to tell the other inmates I was jailed for speeding, but I told the truth when I was asked. And when I did, they were stunned. One guy, given to lengthy rants about how screwed up he thought the local justice system was, pointed to me and screamed “AND WHY THE FUCK IS HE IN HERE?”
On Saturday morning I went up to the lead officer in our pod and asked to make a phone call to let my wife know when I was getting out. He asked what I was in for. I told him speeding, and he couldn’t believe it.
“They sent you to jail for speeding?” he asked me. “What county did you get nailed in?”
“Rappahannock,” I said.
“Oh yeah, that makes sense,” he told me. He picked up the phone to call someone else and get my code to make a phone call.
“I got a guy in here for speeding,” he said to the voice on the other end of the line. “For going 30 over the limit or something. Can you believe that shit?”
My three days inside felt a lot longer than that. Maybe it was the tight spaces or the lack of fresh air or the always-on fluorescent lighting, but after a while it started to bring out my weirdest, most irrational fears. What if my wife has a car crash on the way to come get me? What if one of my parents has a heart attack while I’m stuck in here? What if they lose my paperwork and I’m stuck inside for weeks?
Yeah. I know all of that sounds stupid now. At the time I did my best to tune these thoughts out and keep my mind right.
I did the smart thing when I got back home and hired a lawyer, a local one recommended to me by a friend of Matt’s because he was friendly with the local prosecutors. I told him what happened, as well as the fact that I had no prior criminal record and an almost entirely clean driving record in Texas. I hadn’t gotten so much as a parking ticket in years.
My lawyer’s goal was to broker a deal with the prosecutor that would keep me out of too much trouble. In some cases people charged with reckless driving are able to get the charge downgraded to improper driving, which is essentially a traffic ticket. It’s what I hoped would happen to me.
“I think we have a good chance of keeping you out of jail, and almost as good a chance of you not losing your license,” my attorney told me. That’s not how things ended up, though.
A few weeks later my lawyer met with the prosecutor. He told me Rappahannock County, where I was cited, has a new judge who doesn’t take kindly to speeders. The old judge had a Porsche and a sense of humor, he said; this new one didn’t, and he’s yelled at the prosecutor before for cutting “sweetheart” deals for people who go over 90. Even if my lawyer and the prosecutor had worked out a deal with light penalties, the judge was likely to reject it.
The best plea deal I got was a fine of about $400 with court costs, a 10-day suspension of my license in Virginia, and three days in jail. The judge has an option of giving one day in jail for every mile an hour over 90 mph, and he would exercise it here.
So I took the plea, but I was pretty despondent over the outcome for weeks. The fees and license suspension weren’t a big deal, but I was alternately livid and depressed that I’d be going to jail, even for a short stay. I didn’t hurt anyone, or kill anyone, or sell drugs, or drive drunk, or beat my wife, or steal; I was going to jail because I drove too fast in a car.
I would have much rather done community service, volunteered at a library or a food bank, or paid a larger fine to avoid jail, but that wasn’t in the cards with this judge. I sped in the wrong county in the wrong state.
Oh well. Don’t break the law next time, I guess.
The best news of all this was that I wasn’t fired. Matt said the last thing you’ll ever get fired for at Jalopnik is speeding. It’s just an occupational hazard for us. And when I emailed Gawker’s editorial director Joel Johnson to apologize, he replied saying, “I don’t give a fuck,” and added that he found the matter “hilarious.” So I had that going for me.
My lowest point came Sunday when I was set to be released. I could barely sleep the night before because I was so happy to get out of there. But when the release time came and went, I told the guard in my area I needed to be let out. He called a supervisor and then told me one person was on the list to be released that day — and it wasn’t me. My best bet would be to wait until Monday and take it up with an office that wasn’t open on Sunday, he said.
Then a few other inmates told me that this happens all the time, that the new jail frequently had paperwork mishaps when it came to release dates. One former inmate was supposed to be in for four days and ended up staying two weeks by mistake.
I can tell you that this was just about the lowest emotional point of my entire life. You get one free phone call in there and otherwise you’re totally isolated. I didn’t put money into my commissary fund or my phone account because I planned on a short stay, so what the hell was I going to do? How long would I really be in there? How could I make arrangements to get out?
And then about an hour later that same guard came to me and said “George, pack your stuff. You’re being released.” I didn’t ask questions.
Last-minute crises aside, the experience wasn’t that bad. If you keep your mouth shut, keep your head down and don’t start any trouble, you can get through jail just fine. I can’t imagine serving months or years in there like some of my fellow inmates, or like millions of Americans do in prison every day. A three-day sentence was nothing compared to what some go through.
It was great incentive not to screw up ever again, that’s for sure. I’m never going back.
I’m not happy that I went to jail and I’m also regretful that I put myself in this position in the first place. Frankly, I’m pretty ashamed of the whole ordeal. But I’m writing this piece because at Jalopnik we believe in being transparent and owning up to our mistakes. If we crash a press car, we write about it. And if we go to jail because we were stupid in car, we write about that, too.
I’m also writing to apologize to you all. I made the website I love look bad, and I made my profession look bad. I try to hold myself to a high standard and I fell short of those aspirations. I made a mistake, but I feel like I more than paid for it.
And I’m also writing this, perhaps more than anything else, as a warning to everyone who reads it: Do not speed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Do not go 20 mph over the speed limit, and do not exceed 80 mph when you’re there. Ever. Virginia’s cops and courts aren’t fucking around when it comes to speed. The state has some of the most beautiful roads and rural scenery in America, but if you’re going to hoon there, do it in a Miata or an Austin-Healey or a Fiat 500 Abarth or something, not a car with any actual power. Or better yet, take it to the track. Take your fast car to Summit Point or VIR. I wish I had done that instead.
I’m moving back to Texas soon. My radar detector will be a permanent fixture on my dash where it belongs, but I’ve lowered my speeds considerably. Once it’s over I look forward to not going back to Virginia or D.C. — why I don’t like that city is a story for another day — for a long time. But I’ll never forget my time there, especially because the extra points on my license, the increased cost of my car insurance, and the fact that I now have a criminal record, won’t ever let me.
Just do not speed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
RennWerks Performance,#becausebags, and Spring Autoworks invite you to join us as we host a pre season barbecue/car show. Bring your ride or just come out to enjoy the afternoon and show your support.
Maintenance schedules offered by car manufacturers should include the transmission. Car owners beware: Many manufactures such as BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Audi, and now, Cadillac, state that their transmissions have lifetime fluid. Lifetime, in car speak translates to “life of the warranty.” Their transmissions should still be serviced at least every 40,000-60,000 miles. Transmission fluid plays a critical role in how a transmission functions and the car part longevity. Like engine oil, transmission fluid should be checked and changed on a regular basis; however, the interval is different for all vehicles and dependent on the transmission and fluid type as well as use.
Most experts feel severe use warrants a recommended 20,000-30,000 mile fluid and filter change interval. Severe use is defined as more than 50 percent use in heavy city traffic or with ambient temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, we also recommend changing the fluid whenever there is an indication of oxidization or contamination. Most modern transmissions, including ZF models used by GM, BMW, Audi, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz use an aluminum valve body and magnesium housing. This soft metal is less tolerant of dirt and abrasives and GM recommends more frequent fluid changes to prolong the life of this auto part.
In the old days, generally, the car was lifted on a hoist, the transmission pan was dropped and the old fluid pours out. The fluid and the pan are inspected for contaminants, such as fiber from clutch discs or any other indication of a larger issue that may be appearing. After a routine check of the exposed components the filter is changed, the pan is replaced and the fluid added to the proper level. In modern times, changing transmission fluid is not as simple as changing engine oil and should be handled by a service technician or someone with a thorough understanding of transmissions. Modern cars and luxury vehicles have complex computer controlled transmissions that require using diagnostics systems to communicate with them and special functions and procedures for the service. Any fluid remaining in the torque converter and other parts of the transmission should be flushed using a special machine.
Manual transmission fluid change is usually simpler. Manual transmissions are usually outfitted with drain and fill plugs. The car is lifted, the oil drained, and then refilled with the proper grade specified by the manufacturer. If an owner decides to tackle this operation on his or her own, one thing to remember is to make sure the fill plug can be removed and the fill tube is clear before draining.
While periodic fluid changes are ideal, checking the fluid level and condition on a regular basis is a good idea as well. Older automatic transmissions have a dipstick similar to the engine oil dipstick. Modern transmissions can only have the fluid level checked with manufacturer specific electronic scan tools. However, unlike engine oil, the car must be running to check the level. The vehicle manual may also specify if the car should be in park or neutral, and what temperature the transmission should be — fluids expand with temperature and checking a cold transmission will often provide a false reading. When the dipstick is out, smell the fluid and note if it smells burned (a symptom of overheating), or like any other fluid (gas, coolant or motor oil), which may be a symptom of a leak in the system or contamination. Also, wipe some of the fluid onto a piece of white paper or cloth and check the color against a fresh fluid sample. Too much variation in color could mean contamination or degradation of the fluid.
Manual transmissions can be checked by opening the filler plug. The level should be just below this hole. Dip a cotton swab in, pull some fluid out, and smell it to check the condition of the oil just as you would on an automatic transmission.
While maintenance is key to auto part longevity, being aware of any bangs, whines or groans from the transmission, as well as smells, will help head off any problems at an early stage.
We are posting an article written by Brian Albright for www.SearchAutoParts.com to help give it exposure and traction.
“Right to Repair” laws are laws being pursued to allow aftermarket and independent repair shops to have unhindered access to the same software and repair information as the dealerships without biased penalties and costs. Such laws can be of great benefit to consumers in terms of repair costs, as it will allow independent shops and aftermarket suppliers to compete on more fair level with the dealerships and be able to provide better and more comprehensive service to their customers. Ultimately, the voice of consumers are going to be needed to move things forward.
When both the electorate and legislature in Massachusetts passed the state’s Right to Repair law in November 2012, it was clear that the industry had turned a corner in what had been a lengthy battle over access to manufacturer repair data by independent repairers.
For Right to Repair supporters, the passage had big implications for their efforts elsewhere in the country. If OEMs had to abide by the rules in Massachusetts, it made little sense for them to do things differently elsewhere. In January, the other shoe dropped, and a coalition of both OEM and aftermarket industry organizations signed a 50-state memorandum of understanding (MOU) that unofficially expands the Massachusetts requirements nationwide.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of Global Automakers, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), and the Coalition for Automotive Repair Equality (CARE) based the agreement directly on the Massachusetts law. The MOU extends the essential provisions for light vehicles, and covers all companies and organizations that are members of the signatories. The OEM groups represent nearly all of the major automotive manufacturers.
“Our goal has been to get a national agreement with manufacturers, so that we wouldn’t need to go state by state anymore,” said Aaron Lowe, vice president of government affairs for the AAIA. “We’ve been negotiating this for some time, and one of the sticking points was seeing how things would be finalized in Massachusetts. We worked with the trade associations on an agreement that all the manufacturers would pledge to uphold, and it’s based on the Massachusetts law.”
The agreement came on the heels of another Right to Repair law passing the New Jersey Assembly. Under that bill, manufacturers would have had to make all technical information available for purchase for model years made after 2002. Violations could result in fines of $10,000 for the first offense, and $20,000 for subsequent violations. The law would have also banned manufacturers from requiring dealers to purchase information in a proprietary format under less favorable terms than the information is available to other purchasers.
With the signing of the MOU, all the organizations have agreed to drop their state-by-state efforts, and have called on state-based groups to halt any legislative activity that could undermine the agreement.
“Much like with fuel efficiency economy and greenhouse gases, a single national standard regarding vehicle repair protocols is imperative,” said Mike Stanton, president and CEO of the Association of Global Automakers. “A patchwork of fifty differing state bills, each with its own interpretations and compliance parameters doesn’t make sense. This agreement provides the uniform clarity our industry needs and a nationwide platform to move on.”
According to a document released along with the MOU announcement, the AAIA and CARE have agreed to oppose any additional state efforts while the MOU is being implemented: “While AAIA and CARE would prefer a right to repair law, both groups believe that such a lobbying effort would take years to accomplish as well as significant resources. All groups felt that both the aftermarket and consumers would benefit more by devoting its resources to implementing a voluntary agreement.”
Under the MOU, OEMs must make available under “fair and reasonable terms” the same tools, software, and repair information that is available to franchised dealers; beginning with the 2018 model year, they must establish Web sites or clouds that contain the same information and software that dealers have access to as part of their proprietary tools; and car companies must provide access to diagnostic computers using a standardized vehicle interface that meets either the SAE J 2534 or ISO 22900 standards.
The agreement applies to all automobiles under 14,000 pounds, excluding motorcycles.
Since this is an agreement rather than a law, participation is still entirely voluntary. If a repair shop finds it can’t access an automaker tool or software, they can contact the car company directly or via the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF) to request access. If they are not satisfied after 30 days, they can take the issue to a Dispute Resolution Panel established under the agreement. The panel would include two members appointed by automakers, and two members appointed by CARE and AAIA. A fifth neutral member would serve as chair.
“This isn’t the same as having a law in every state, but we’re going to have a dispute resolution process to handle any issues that might arise with the manufacturers and repairers,” Lowe says. “Both the manufacturers and the aftermarket are ready to move on. The issue was resolved in Massachusetts, and the manufactures know they will have to comply. We will make the agreement work in all 50 states, and the manufactures have signed on to do the same.”
The NASTF was established by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, along with the Automotive Service Association (ASA), to provide a way for service shops to buy vehicle service information via subscription. The ASA has uniformly opposed Right to Repair legislation, and did not participate in the current MOU.
We all know that the automotive industry is ‘high-tech.’ If you’ve ever wondered just how high-tech it is, the results of a recent study provide some answers.
No matter if you’re an industry veteran, a newcomer or somewhere in between, you’ve undoubtedly heard references to today’s cars as being much more high-tech than their predecessors. But exactly how high-tech are these vehicles and the industry that builds them, and what the heck does high-tech really mean, anyway?
A newly released report by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), a nonprofit research organization based in Ann Arbor, MI, helps to quantify these questions and more. The complete report is available online at http://bit.ly/CAR-Study.
According to the report on the study, an industry sector can be considered high-tech if it possesses certain characteristics. A high-tech industry, for example, would generally have 10% or more of its workforce consisting of technical employees like engineers. Based on a series of prescribed criteria, the automotive industry is not only high-tech, concludes the report, “it is frequently a leader in technological developments and applications.”
Here are highlights from the study’s findings:
•An average vehicle contains around 60 microprocessors on as many as 4 different networks—four times as many as a decade ago.
•More than 10 million lines of software code run a typical vehicle’s computer network, or over half the lines of code that reportedly run Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.
•Worldwide, automakers spend an average of $12,000 for research and development for every vehicle manufactured.
•Approximately 4800 patents are granted to the automotive industry every year.
•Six automakers—BMW, Toyota, Audi – Volkswagen Group, General Motors, Honda, and Mercedes.—are among the top 20 in all corporate research and development spending. GM and Ford individually spend more money on R&D than either General Electric or Apple.
•Vehicle electronics currently make up as much as 40% to 50% of the total cost of a vehicle, up from 20% less than a decade ago. The chart below illustrates the growth of electronic content in vehicles over the past 50-plus years.
The report suggests that an automobile is the most complex item most consumers will ever purchase, and that “the auto jobs of today and the future belong to those who have the advanced skills necessary for designing, building and maintaining the high-tech content inherent in motor vehicles.” If we accept these as facts—then the old basic skill level of the low wage mechanics seen at most tire chain stores, discount auto repair shops, quick lube places, and most general auto repair shops are on their way to extinction! The automotive industry is in a period of transition in which, highly trained technicians that require high pay and therefore increase labor rates are replacing old ways of doing business in the Auto Repair Industry.
Oil in an engine is vital to your vehicle. Oil is an essential lubricant in your engine. It lets metal press against metal without damage. For example, it lubricates the pistons as they move up and down in the cylinders. Without oil, the metal-on-metal friction creates so much heat that eventually the surfaces weld themselves together and the engine seizes. This is not good if you’re trying to get somewhere.
Let’s say that your Audi or BMW engine has plenty of oil, but you never change it. Two things will definitely happen:
Dirt will accumulate in the oil. The filter will remove the dirt for a while, but eventually the filter will clog and the dirty oil will automatically bypass the filter through a relief valve. Dirty oil is thick and abrasive, so it causes more wear. Additives in the oil like detergents, dispersants, rust-fighters and friction reducers will wear out, so the oil won’t lubricate as well as it should. Residual fuel left over from cold starts and the combustion process eventually builds up in the oil and thins it out and breaks it down. Eventually, as the oil gets dirtier and dirtier, it will stop lubricating and the engine will quickly wear and fail.
<-Unserviced BMW Motor Valve Train with Sludge buildup from a lack of oil changes at 5000 mile intervals.
Also, all engines burn a little bit of oil over time. Eventually, you will run out of enough oil to properly lubricate your motor and the motor will have catastrophic damage. This is why all manufacturers recommend that you check your oil regularly. Usually, every other time you visit the gas station or 1000 miles. More recent cars from Porsche, BMW, Audi, Cadillac, Lexus, and exotics such as Ferrari, and Lamborghini should have their oil level checked every 300 – 500 miles.