Mid Week Motoring
Is your car ready for winter roads? Here’s a basic checklist:
Tyre pressures and tread: Under-inflated or worn tyres lose water dispersing abilities increasing the chances of aquaplaning. If heading for the snow get advice on fitting the right sort of chains. Brakes: Wet roads always increase stopping distances. Lights: Ensure all are operating and of even brightness. Check headlights for correct alignment. Keep lenses clean. Battery: Chilly temperatures reduce battery power. Ensure terminals are clean and tight and the charging system works correctly. Wiper blades: Perished blades are next to useless. Using wipers to remove ice build-up causes damage. Use a scraper instead. Exhaust system: Most winter driving is done with the windows up, so it’s important the exhaust system is leak-free. A build up of carbon monoxide gas can lead to drowsiness. Radiator: Coolant anti-freeze properties can deteriorate due to age or dilution if the radiator is regularly topped up with water. Heating and air-cond: Add significantly to visibility and comfort. Oil and oil filter: Longer engine warmup times and shorter trips can result in increased oil contamination and greater engine wear.
UGLY-AS SUV GOES
Possibly the most polarising Toyota ever sold in New Zealand, is outta here. The FJ Cruiser SUV, on sale since 2010, will end production in August this year.
The American designed, retrostyled FJ Cruiser was built as an homage to the pioneering FJ40 that laid the foundations for the now famous Land Cruiser.
Trouble is, the ugly-as FJ bucked the upwards sales trend for SUVs – in six years only 299 of them have sold here.
It was priced well enough – $10,000 less than the cheapest version of the vehicle it was built off, the Land Cruiser Prado – and tough enough, and the V6 engine was powerful enough, and it drove well... But!
Get over the wacky looks and there were inherent design flaws to put up with – awkward to get in and out of front, and back (small suicide rear doors); cosmetic running boards; lack of rear visibility; heavy rear door thanks to the spare wheel placement; an old fashioned style dashboard.
Not a seller, so g’bye.
The downside of having your car connected to the internet? Hackers.
Internet-connected and driverless cars will be targets for hackers. According to the US Justice Department, that includes ‘‘terrorists’’ and ‘‘hostile nations’’. Yikes! So, they want the automotive industry to ensure vehicles have built-in cybersecurity protection.
Apparently there ain’t no mountain high enough, or no ocean deep enough to keep determined hackers from having their wicked way with an internet-connected vehicle.
The burgeoning market for cars connected to the Internet is expected to be valued at about US$42 billion (NZ$69.1b) by 2025, with more than 220 million vehicles on the roads.
US agencies and regulators are trying to make the auto industry more aware of cyber threats and quicker about acting to plug security gaps.
Questions were raised last year when Fiat Chrysler waited 18 months to tell US safety regulators about a security flaw in radios installed in more than amillion vehicles. Security researchers were able to seize control of a Jeep just to show it could be done. The episode led to the recall of almost 1.5 million vehicles – the first auto recall prompted by cybersecurity concerns.
The sci-fi scenario of hijacking say 100,000 cars as a weapon, is now potentially part of a hostile nation or group’s arsenal.
Time to prepare your vehicle for winter running.
The Toyota FJ Cruiser has been discontinued due to lack of buyer enthusiasm reflected in poor sales.