Uber Takes Autonomous Blow With Fatal Collision

Uber Technologies has halted its testing of self-driving vehicles after a March 18 incident in which one of its cars struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz.

The Uber vehicle, a 2017 Volvo XC90, was in autonomous mode with a driver behind the wheel when it struck 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, according to Sgt. Ronald Elcock of the Tempe Police Department. Herzberg was walking a bicycle from one side of the road to the other when the accident occurred, and Elcock noted that she was “outside of the crosswalk.”

In the wake of the incident, Uber Technologies has suspended its testing of self-driving vehicles.

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Self-driving Uber in Fatal Accident May Not Have Had Time to Stop, Police Say – CBS

Police say early indications show an Uber self-driving SUV may not have had time to stop or avoid hitting a pedestrian who was killed in Arizona. Uber suspended all testing of its autonomous vehicles after the Sunday night crash. It is the first-known pedestrian fatality involving a self-driving car. Kris Van Cleave reports.

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Woman dies after being hit by self-driving Uber – ABC News

The ride-sharing company is suspending testing of autonomous cars after one of its cars struck a pedestrian, Elaine Herzberg, 49, in Arizona.

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New High-Tech Car Paints You Won’t Believe

Ever wish you never needed to wash your car again?  As ridiculous as it may seem…someday in the not too distant future, you may be able to drive through a pothole mud puddle or your car may be strafed by a flock of Canadian Geese…yet your vehicle remains pristinely clean…all because of it’s high-tech paint job.

Paint that helps a car clean itself is just one of the many innovations happening in this arena. Driven by technological breakthroughs and increased concern for the environment, manufacturers are producing innovative new car coatings that last longer, keep the environment safer and look cooler.

and an expert in color, material and finish design, believes that car paint has advanced to the point where it’s basically colorful tech.

“Exterior paint is evolving into almost ‘smart paint…” Kirsten Keenan – Design Director, Trichromatic Studio

The bottom line will be to make driving even more fun while saving time and making a positive environmental impact.

Here are a few practical innovations coming in the world of auto paint finishes:

Scratch-Eliminating Car Paint –Coatings derived from chitin, a material found in crab shells that react to the sun’s ultraviolet light and stitch themselves back together when scratched, leaving no sign of the original damage.  Status: Still in development.

Beat-the-Heat Car Paint –heat-reflecting paint, which mixes traditional paint materials with potassium silicate, causing the paint to bounce UV rays off rather than absorbing them. This will give you relief from the heat even when the air-conditioning is off, says Keenan, which will help save money on gas.  Status: Available now – some markets.

Self-Cleaning Car Paint – Maybe “soil resistant” is a more accurate name since it aims to prevent your car from getting dirty in the first place.  This specialized car paint features a layer of microscopic “peaks” that make it very hard for water or dirt to cling to the surface. Aka “superhydrophobic” paint because it repels moisture just like the coating on a nonstick skillet. Status: Concept car trial runs in 2014, but still a few years away for production vehicles.

Environment-Friendly Car Paint – Waterborne paints have already been replacing solvent-based paints for several years.  Appealing to environment-conscious consumers…they have fewer toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Used to paint wheels & rims for years now…Powder Coatings are an enviro-friendly & affordable method that uses free-flowing powder instead of traditional paint. Status: Available now.

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Aftermarket Auto Parts vs OEM in Autobody Repair

CNN Investigation – Body Shops Say Insurance Companies Skimp on Safety

Excerpted transcript from Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN:

If you car is ever damaged in an accident and repaired by a major insurance company in this country, there are major federal and state lawsuits underway that you should probably know about.  Autobody shops across the United States…more than 500 of them…claim that some big insurance companies have long deliberately skimped when it comes to repairing damaged vehicles…all so the insurance companies can pad their profits.

The lawsuits allege it’s a scheme that can not only lead to rushed and minimal repairs, but repairs that can include using recycled, re-manufactured as one lawyer puts it and junk parts to fix your car.  Some Attorney’s General believe the alleged scheme may have another effect…you could be driving a very dangerous car.

CNN’s Senior Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin reports… (Watch Video Above)

 

Consumer Reports – Aftermarket Car Replacement Parts

Want another trusted perspective?…like Consumer Reports?  New crash-test video dramatically illustrates what can happen when a cheap aftermarket part suffers even a low-speed impact.

Excerpted transcript from Consumer Reports:

Some aftermarket car repair parts are not up to original equipment standards.  Here (video above), a 2006-2009 Ford Fusion front bumper reinforcement does the job it was engineered to do.  It deforms and absorbs a 6.1 mph impact to protect the vehicle…then springs back into shape.  This part, normally concealed behind the car’s cometic bumper cover, is made of a relatively pliable plastic.  The non-Ford replacement part does nothing to protect the vehicle in a dramatic failure. (Watch Video Above)

 

Edmunds – Aftermarket Versus Manufacturer Car Parts – Is the Extra Cost Worth It?

When Should You Request OEM Parts?

When it comes to collision repairs, make sure you are getting OEM parts, since aftermarket body panels may not fit properly or have proper crumple zones for crash safety.

If you lease your car, there are also economic considerations. Since aftermarket parts decrease a vehicle’s book value, using them to repair your vehicle’s body may cost you part or all of your security deposit.

But here’s the rub: In 21 states and the District of Columbia, a body shop’s repair estimate does not have to indicate whether aftermarket parts will be used. You’ll often find that your insurance company will favor aftermarket parts because they are cheaper. If you request OEM parts, some insurance companies ask you to pay an additional fee. Check with your insurance provider beforehand, to see what parts they will cover.

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GEICO Sued by Oregon Autobody Shop Owner

As an independent small business owner, we at Johnny’s Custom Autobody sympathize with real life David and Goliath stories.  Here’s one we understand extremely well.  Because we’re an independent autobody shop too….we face similar challenges every day with MULTIPLE insurance companies.  Though we seldom share our battles with you, we feel compelled to tell you about this one. Here are news excerpts from multiple sources on this case:

Oregon MSO Files Lawsuit Against GEICO – FenderBender

Leif’s Auto Collision Centers, a two-shop network (formerly 11 shops) in Oregon, has filed an antitrust lawsuit against GEICO for “cutting corners and making unsafe repairs.”

The court filings allege GEICO engaged in a conspiracy beginning no later than 2014 with a small group of auto body shops in Portland to provide incomplete repairs in return for a promise of consistent referrals.

“The purpose of these agreements is to maximize GEICO’s profits by causing its automobile policyholders to accept unsafe and incomplete repairs,” according to the lawsuit filed in United States District Court.

“As the lawsuit explains, this is a classic hub-and-spoke conspiracy where a big industry giant bullies its way to higher profits,” said Steven Olson, attorney for Leif’s. “Many Oregonians will be surprised to learn that they are driving unsafe cars as a direct result of GEICO’s backroom dealings with repair shops.”

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CNN’s Drew Griffin investigates claims that some insurance companies are skimping on repairing damaged vehicles to pad their profits. – Anderson Cooper 360

Class-Action Lawsuit Hits GEICO Over Unsafe Repairs – Autobody News

A lawsuit filed by Leif Hansen on behalf of GEICO customers claims the insurance giant has routinely violated the terms of its auto policies by refusing to pay for essential and critical vehicle repairs.

According to the lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, GEICO has a nationwide, longstanding policy and practice of refusing to pay for electronic vehicle scans, which help determine the safety and repair status of a vehicle. On average, these scans cost $100 and are required or recommended by nearly all major auto manufacturers to ensure auto repairs are safe and complete.

Consumer advocate and auto repair shop owner Leif Hansen is the lead plaintiff of the lawsuit, filed Dec. 13 in U.S. District Court. The lawsuit seeks damages for losses incurred by all current and former GEICO policyholders that have suffered collision losses in the past six years.

“This is about seeking justice for the millions who have been bullied into claim settlements. Many are left without appropriate compensation and may be unknowingly driving unsafe cars” ~ Leif Hansen

“As many consumers already know, airbags, steering, braking and accident avoidance systems can be compromised after a collision. Electronic scans play a critical role in ensuring that vehicles are safe to drive.”

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Ore. shop sues GEICO, claims DRP creating antitrust conditions… – RepairerDriven News

A Portland, Ore-area collision repairer sued GEICO Tuesday on Sherman Antitrust Act grounds, alleging the carrier is conspiring with its Auto Damage Xpress direct repair program auto body shops to fix prices and boycott the plaintiff.

Leif’s Auto Collision Centers v. GEICO is similar to litigation the auto body shop filed in 2014 against that insurer and many others as part of the multi-state litigation pitting dozens of shops nationwide against carriers on steering and antitrust grounds. Leif’s dropped many smaller carriers as defendants in 2015, but left GEICO and some of the other major players named in the case.

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Leif Hansen (businessman) – Wikipedia

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Avoiding Direct Repair Shops (DRPs) – 5 Warnings

Direct Repair Programs (DRPs) are constructed relationships that Insurance companies create with auto body repair shops. The bottom line is that the insurance companies usually send (or “steer” as it’s called in the industry) the participating DRP shops more insurance related business in exchange for agreeing to cut corners during the repair process…thus saving the insurance company money.  Sometimes called “Network shops” or “Select Service shops” …these participating repair shops are actually “graded” by the insurance company as to how fast and cost effective the repairs are done…with quality all too often taking a lower priority.  Insurance companies put in place many rules and regulations for body shops who are on their “list” and sometime force the shops to do things that they would not otherwise do.

Comical depiction of Insurance Company “Steering”…that may not turn out as funny in real life.

Here are 5 reasons you may want to consider avoiding DRP repair shops:

  1. They work directly for the Insurance Company, not you …and not necessarily for your best interests.
  2. If your vehicle is declared a Total Loss, the DRP shop be pressured by the Insurance Company to cheat you on the Actual Cash Value (ACV) settlement you are owed.
  3. Diminished Value you’re owed after repairs – DRP shops may be encourage not to inform you about it.
  4.  Repairing parts instead of Replacing them as they should have been…again, saving the Insurance Company money.
  5. Using Aftermarket/Imitation/Counterfeit or Junkyard Parts on your car…obviously, not to your benefit.

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Should You Go CPO? 5 Merits of Certified Pre-Owned

Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it’s about having a lot of options. ~ Chris Rock

If  you’re considering buying a new (or kinda new) vehicle…having more options and more money left over are always good things.  New or used…private seller or car dealer…and in recent years, something usually sold by new car dealers called “certified pre-owned” (CPO).  CPO can be considered as a compromise between new and used that most often has a better warranty (because it’s been thoroughly inspected) and low to modest mileage.


Here are some compelling arguments that a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle may be your best bet:

1. Thoroughly Inspected Vehicle

Imagine the feeling you get from seeing “As-Is” on a vehicle’s For Sale sign…or the complete set of “unknowns” that come with buying a car from a private seller. Your first instinct should be to take your prospective purchase to a trusted mechanic and have it thoroughly checked out…for a fee.  That’s what CPO effectively does for you in a more formal and convenient way.  Ford and General Motors have 170+ items on a checklist that technicians must complete before allowing pre-owned vehicle to be designated as CPO.

2. Warranty that’s Manufacturer-Backed

So you’re effectively paying a premium for a manufacturer-backed warranty. But like any kind of insurance…not all warranties are created equal. So buyers need to pay special attention to the warranty specifics. “Powertrain-limited warranties”… “bumper-to-bumper warranties” and even combinations of the two.

Powertrain warranties typically span longer periods, such as six years or 100,000 miles from the date the vehicle was purchased new. A bumper-to-bumper warranty may last for one year or cover 12,000 miles and could include a deductible of $50 to $100. When shopping for a CPO, buyers should be sure to inquire about the length of the warranty, the details regarding types of repairs that require paying a deductible, and the list of items not covered at all. Also, pay attention to whether the manufacturer has a fee to transfer a CPO warranty should you want to sell the car or truck before the warranty expires. (BMW, for example, charges $200 for the warranty to be transferred to a subsequent owner.)

3. CPO Is Less Money Than New

The most obvious reason why people consider CPO is money…and CPO is less money than a new vehicle. Typically, two-year-old CPO vehicles are 25 percent cheaper, and four year old CPOs are about 40 percent less expensive. But remember… CPO vehicles do carry a premium over their non-CPO used vehicles. So the question for buyers becomes: Do the additional benefits of buying a CPO justify the higher price?

Like to see a couple more reasons?

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Paint Damage from Falling Leaves?

Fall weather tends to turn our thoughts to shorter daylight, more football, Halloween and the Holidays.  Some may even make a special trip to the mountains or countryside just to see the beautiful array of colorful leaves as they turn and begin to drop.  So many vibrant colors…but maybe you weren’t aware that those spectacular Autumn leaves can actually damage to your car in multiple ways?  Yes, one or two won’t cause Armageddon…but if allowed to collect unchecked and unremoved…those leaves can do some serious damage to your vehicle’s paint job, especially if it’s clear coat has more than a few years of wear and tear.

parked cars with yellow fallen tree leaves on hoods

Paint Damage? How Can Leaves Cause That?
Fallen leaves contain small amounts of sap and pollen that when rained upon…causes acid to leech out of the leaves and penetrate your car’s clear coat…resulting in dull spots and paint peel. If left unchecked, wet leaves can even cause rust to form, especially when they get trapped between moldings and trim.  Maybe you’ve even seen a wet leaf left sticking to the hood of a car until it dries…creating an actual leaf print in the paint.

Leaves Cause Other Damage Too?
Leaves left trapped between the body and hood can cause damage to your vehicle’s HVAC (air conditioning & heat) system by pulling in tiny pieces of leaf debris.  Accumulated leaves left unchecked can block air inflow and damage the engine or heating system. Also, mold and mildew can easily form from rotting leaves.

How Do You Prevent Fallen Leaves Damage?

  1. Don’t park directly under trees…if at all possible.  It helps avoid leaf buildup.
  2. If/when leaves do appear on the hood, roof & trunk of your car, hose them off ASAP. Don’t just wipe them off with your hand or a brush…that actually scratches your paint.
  3. Open the hood and use an air compressor or high power vacuum to remove any leaves or pieces of leaves that you see.  Ask your trusted auto mechanic to inspect the engine compartment and ensure no unwanted leaves have accumulated.
  4. Wash & Wax regularly. Visit your car wash and take advantage of undercarriage sprayers and high-pressure wands to get to every nook and cranny of your car. Apply a coat of strong, durable wax to help protect the paint from acid and sap in leaves.

Following these protective steps will allow you enjoy to the spectacle of the Autumn foliage when you head out on that road trip to the countryside…without worrying about car damage.  Your Irish Coffee or Hot Toddy will taste even better while you enjoy the landscape!

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Car Detailing Benefits

Maybe you’ve wondered what exactly car detailing involves?

Vehicle Detailing is a thorough cleaning and reconditioning process that’s a meticulous step-by-step procedure aimed at restoring its beauty.

 

But here’s an important distinction:  car “wash” and car “detail” are two VERY different auto care services. Here’s why…

Detailing Services can not only include automobiles…but also: RVs, trucks, buses, SUVs, boats, motorcycles and yes, airplanes too! Most authentic detailing businesses can accommodate most or all of these vehicle types.  Here are a few variables to know in advance:

  1. What type of detailing package you’re receiving?  It’s likely you’ll encounter a wide variety of service packages and prices…because there are no standard industry guidelines.  Factors that define the variety quotient are:  overall quality of service, levels of training, professionalism as well as the phusical products and equipment used to perform the services.
  2. Why do I need car detailing?  Protection from the elements is the single most important reason your vehicle needs authentic detailing services…at least twice a year.  Specifically, a quality coat of wax applied to the painted surfaces that protect it’s finish from contaminates and oxidation.
  3. What expectations should you have?  – A thorough, high-quality detailing service package should take several hours to perform, depending on your vehicles condition.   Actual results of a detailing job will also vary, based on the level of service provided and the age or condition of the vehicle.  But you SHOULD expect that every nook and cranny of your vehicle will be assessed and cleaned.

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Top 10 Most Liked Car Brands 2017 – J.D. Powers

It’s called the annual J.D. Power APEAL Awards… “U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout” (APEAL) Study…and it assesses what new-vehicle owners like and dislike about the performance, design, layout, and features of their new cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans. And yes, survey respondents are genuine owners of their respective vehicles for a minimum of 90 days.


This year, J.D. Power got detailed responses from roughly 70,000 vehicle owners this year…telling how happy they are with the car regarding 77 different aspects. Their answers are then compiled into a satisfaction score…with 1,000 points being the maximum.

Here are the top 10 ten brands (and their points score) that owners liked the most…in reverse order

10) Mini – 838 points – Though the Mini is BMW’s entry-level brand, it’s price tag can become quite high as options are added.

9) Jaguar – 838 points – Jaguar adds a new dimension of stellar ride quality and elegant styling that’s classically beautiful.

8) Lexus – 842 points – Lexus, Toyota’s luxury division…is actually the only Japanese car brand to hit the top ten.  Maybe not as fun to drive as other top 10ers…but luxurious it is indeed.

7) Cadillac – 843 points – Barely beating Lexus for seventh place…Cadillac (not unlike Jaguar) makes excellent strides at combining style with excellent driving dynamics.

6) Lincoln – 849 points – Surprising to some that it made it this high up the list, many people consider Lincoln to merely be repackaged Fords.  However, the Continental and upcoming Navigator are relative standouts.

5) Mercedes – 851 points –  Mercedes-Benz is one of four Germany top 10ers…but it’s also the lowest ranked of the German pack.

Wanna see the top 3?

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PA Body Shop’s Heroic Stand – ‘Insurance Companies Are…Really Bad”

It’s no secret that independent auto body repair shops are at constant war with the ‘too big to fail’ insurance companies. We battle them every day here at Johnny’s Custom Auto Body and know first hand.


This Pennsylvania independent body shop owner lets consumers know exactly how he feels about the insurance industry.  Ron Perretta, owner of Professionals Auto Body in central Pennsylvania, urges consumers to avoid DRP shops in a YouTube spot titled, “Dishonest Insurance Companies.”

“Everyone knows how dishonest insurance companies are, short-cutting repairs by using junkyard and imitation parts, wanting to repair parts that should be replaced, and pushing hard to use their contracted shops that work for the insurance companies, not consumers,” ~ Ron Perretta 

Perretta, who started the business in 1979, reminds consumers that they have the right to choose which shop repairs their collision-damaged vehicles.

“Insurance companies are bad, really bad…They think they can kick you around until you do what they want, like they do their contracted shops.” ~ Ron Perretta (our Hero!)

Progressive and State Farm are “the worst for short-cutting repairs” Perretta states…and recommends a local Erie, PA Auto Insurance company which has high J.D. Powers customer satisfaction ratings for five (5) years straight.

Then Peretta continues: “Dump these companies that try to bully you and push you around.” .

Finally, the pièce de résistance…an adaptation from a famous Paul Harvey speech. Get your tissue box, the press Play.

pièce de résistance

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