There are numerous gadgets on today’s market that can keep you prepared for whatever the road has to surprise you, regardless whether you’re battling your way through rush hour or just want a pleasant leisure drive outside of the city streets. Being caught off guard by a flat tire or getting stranded with a dead car battery is potentially dangerous and stressful. With these gadgets, you’ll be ready for the unexpected, and make your drivers more enjoyable and easier. Let’s dive in and take a better look.
The progress in the automotive industry was seen in making the next car model better than the last one. Today, car manufacturers are trying something completely different, and Volvo is succeeding at it with their new Volvo XC60.
Volvos were traditionally cars of people who were independent-minded and iconoclastic enough to drive something different than the cars from Germany and Japan. Known as cars for smart people, they were vehicles for those who maybe had odd reasons for buying them.
The Volvo XC60 has been the company’s best-selling vehicle in Europe and the US. Now, when the era of partnership with Ford is gone, the new XC60 is built on the new Scalable Product Architecture Product. The new platform is somewhat longer and wider than the old one, but it makes much better use of the interior space, and doesn’t weigh more.
The XC60 is capable to compete with BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, Audi, and other car giants. Of course, it has its own flaws, but the overall result is a well-suited, well-crafted and capable vehicle.
The new XC60 has new suspension, with a double-wishbone rear and at the front. The car is built for primarily and that definitely shows. Volvo’s cars are promoted as full of confidence and dynamism (safe cars), with good (not exciting) roadholding and handling. You can adjust the power steering setup, but it won’t make any big difference. You can opt for an optional air suspension system which lets you lower and raise the car by about 2 inches.
Under the hood
The set of engines in the XC60 are the same as in the heavier and larger XC90. Mounted transversely, the engines are inline four-cylinders, driving all wheels with either an electric motor on the rear axle or an AWD system. All engines are turbo with a small supercharger, connected to 8-speed automatics. The acceleration is strong, and the car is quick enough (not race-quick, but enough for a city drive).
The exterior design of the new XC60 fits into Volvo’s philosophy – neither striking nor showy. This means that it can be pretty anonymous-looking from a distance and in profile. On the front, there are Thor’s Hammer headlights that are dramatic and arresting in the right way. The taillights are vertical and massive, as they used since the 700 series and remained committed to them. There is a horizontal element here as well which describes a pattern when the taillights are on.
Volvo has produced a car with a satisfying hood-to-body ratio, refining and developing their design since the earlier XC60.
The interior is, according to many, the best part of the XC60. The choice of a driftwood-like porous wood in light grey for the dash and trim is excellent, just like the rest of material used. The interior is two-tone, dark and light, and the use of space is great as well, with a panoramic sunroof that helps out with the feeling of air interior (every XC60 actually comes with these).
There are two little cubicles under the rear seat for holding phones, tables, and other electronics; the rear seats can be dropped from controls, extending the already well-sized cargo area. Along with LCD screens, diamond-pattern knobs, clever storage and massaging seats, this car really breathes comfort.
Volvo is still committed to their safe car designs, with XC60 being full of different safety features. A collision avoidance system, mixture of selected metals of varying strengths for the platform, and a semi-autonomous Pilot Assist system (intended for steering during long, boring, and straight highway driving) all do quite well, protecting the passengers getting injured.
There are 3 trim levels of the XC60:
· Momentum (basic model)
· R-Design (more sporty)
· Insignia (luxury model)
If you have the money to spend, you’re getting good design and equipment, with a high-quality material and build. It great to see that Volvo is still making good, innovative, different, and well-priced cars.
Taking proper care of your car should be your own responsibility, but a lot of people are not taking it seriously. It doesn’t matter if you are going to DIY or take your car to the mechanic, regular oil changes, tyre inspections, and some other checkups are absolutely necessary.
Back in the day, all these inspections could be done by yourself, but today`s cars are a lot more sophisticated and there are things you shouldn’t mess with if you don’t have a right set of skills. To make things easier to understand, we have gathered the most common car fixes and explained why you should or shouldn’t attempt fixing them alone.
First, let’s talk about car`s suspensions. At the first glance, they seem pretty easy to fix. There are no electronics involved and in most cases, all you need to do is replace a part. Everybody knows how to take a thing apart and put it back together the same way. Right? Well, that rule does not when it comes to car`s suspensions.
Sure, you can take it apart, but putting it back together requires a certain knowledge. You need to know in which order things go and on top of that, you need a specialised set of tools. We strongly recommend you to hire a professional, otherwise, you are risking causing a lot more damage to your suspension and potentially completely destroying them. So repairing a car`s suspension is definitely not a DIY job.
Tyres require an inspection at least once a year, but it all depends on how much you travel. The more miles you cover, the more worn out your tyres will become. As the time passes your tyres will lose their tread, which results in less traction and ultimately less control of the car. With tyres like this, you can really endanger other cars and yourself. That is why it is very important to do regular inspections. Luckily, this is nothing too difficult.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer Continental tyres or any other manufacturer’s, the procedure is the same. Carefully check the tread of each tyre and make sure it has an appropriate depth. Each country has its own regulations and standards, so make sure you check what are in yours. Cracks, bulges, etc. are all potential bursting points, so if you spot any on your tyres consider replacing them. Additionally, replacing a tyre is easy. There is no need to go to a mechanic, just watch a tutorial online and you will surely get it on a first try.
Changing the oil
The oil change is a messy task, but it is not a hard one. This is something that most people fear to do by themselves. They think that somehow they can mess up the car`s engine and wreck the car completely, but the reality is completely different. To change the oil in your car you will a wrench, a new bottle of oil, and a bucket.
The procedure goes like this. First, open an oil cap that is under your hood. Then go under your car and find an oil pan and unscrew its bolt. Have a bucket placed beneath it so the oil drains straight into the bucket. Screw back the bolt and fill the oil tank with the new oil for about four quarters of its size. And that’s it, nothing scary, right? Just make sure all the bolts are tightly screwed and that you get the right oil for your engine.
Let’s close with that. These three car fixes are the most common ones by far and now you know what you can mess with and what you should leave to the professionals. Sure, there are some common small fixes like replacing your wiper blades and changing your air filters, but these are easily done without any instructions.
For many people, a car is simply a tool that gets them from point A to point B as safely as possible and in as little time as possible (and is legal). They do not consider their vehicle to be any different from the iron they use to press their clothes or the hair dryer in their bathroom.
For others, however, the automotive industry and the companies that have made their mark on it are something special. They are actual world-changers that have made our lives what they are today and that are showing no signs of slowing down.
Today, we will be looking at those companies whose practices and products have made our world what it is today.
Honestly, there was no way to start our list with any company other than Mercedes-Benz. The reason is a simple one – they were responsible for the first automobile to drive on the streets (of Mannheim, Germany). There are other inventions that claim to be the first car, but the fact is that the Benz Patent-Motorwagen was the first vehicle designed to use an internal combustion engine.
Over the years, Mercedes-Benz shaped much of the car as we knew and know it today, coming out with inventions such as honeycomb radiator, carburetor, diesel-powered car, crumple zone, ABS system, ESP brake assist and more.
In other words, we would probably still have cars today, but it’s a mystery what they would look like if not for Mercedes-Benz.
Ford has definitely been one of the more impactful automotive companies in the history, although they have mostly done paradigm-shifting things for the society as a whole than strictly speaking car-related (Ford is responsible for quite a few auto innovations, nonetheless).
Namely, Henry Ford’s moving assembly line has changed the face of the planet through its innovations in the production process. The effects of his moving assembly line go well beyond just the automotive industry, influencing the 20th century as much as any other invention. Thanks to this more efficient production process, Ford brought the car to the masses with Model T.
The Ford company even helped Soviet Union start on its path towards industrialization with the joint Soviet-Ford endeavor that would become USSR’s first automotive factory called GAZ in today’s Nizhny Novgorod.
Since this is Car Audio Plus’ blog, we simply have to include one of the most impactful car electronics and audio companies in history – Alpine. Alpine is a Japanese company that has been transforming the way our cards sound on the inside for decades and even though many people do not think twice about it, it has truly changed our daily car trips for good.
Over the years, besides manufacturing some of the finest products in its niche, Alpine has also come out with a number of firsts. For example, they gave us the world’s first navigation system in 1981 when they built one for Honda. They also introduced us to the first ever remove control auto security systems in 1983. In 2004, they were the first to recognize iPod as the future of music consumption and they were the first to manufacture components that can interact with the Apple’s product.
Castrol is the world’s leading engine oil manufacturer and it has been one for more than a century. Initially, the company manufactured oils for heavy machinery and trains, but the founder soon realized that the future lies in cars and airplanes.
Over the years, they kept their head down and provided the automotive industry with the oils their cars needed to run without breaking down. Castrol also stayed involved in other industries, providing oil for Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s largest ocean-going passenger liner which was launched in the late 1960s.
The reason we include Castrol in this article is the quiet innovativeness that they bring to the work they do and also because they created a special oil for Curiosity, NASA’s Mars rover.
And that is just so cool.
There used to be a time when cars were seen as the pinnacle of technology, these paradigm-changing machines that finally replaced horse-powered vehicles on our streets and ushered too many social and economic changes to even list.
Then, as time went by, they turned into work-horses and they lost much of their original technological excitement. Sure, car manufacturers continued improving the cars, but until relatively recently, cars were more or less what they were in the early 20th century, as was our relationship with them.
These days, it feels like we are living during a time of great change in the automotive industry and also in the way we relate with cars.
The Self-Driving Future
Perhaps the biggest and the most momentous shift that we will probably see during our lifetime will be the introduction of self-driving cars to our roads. It doesn’t get more dramatic than that. Instead of driving our cars, we will be using them as transport, putting our lives in their hands, or better said, their computers. They will get us to our destination and we will only hope that no one hacks them.
Many people are lauding this kind of future, but there are also those who say that this will completely change the way we view cars. And it will. It will be all but impossible to have a relationship with such a vehicle more than we do with the bus we take to work. It definitely has its good sides, but removing the actual driving from the equation may be more than some people are ready to accept.
The Accessibility of Everything
For someone who got their driver’s license in the last ten years, a world of driving which does not involve internet is almost too strange to imagine. For example, they cannot imagine not being able to order a sound system for their car without leaving their home. They cannot paint a mental image of not being able to go through gazillion online car ads when purchasing a used car. Also, they cannot imagine how people bought cars before reading a million reviews on very single model available.
Technology has also helped other people involved in the car industry and not just the "regular folk", so to say. For instance, in the States, if you want to start a car dealer business, you can easily find an online guide on doing so. This is not even mentioning how much of the paperwork can be done online if you wish to sell cars, found a car industry-related startup or anything like that.
It is a whole new world out there and it going to get even more internet-based as time goes by.
The Improved Safety
One of the biggest effects technology has had on cars, and this is really something where we have seen a continuous improvement, is our safety. The car manufacturers have been finding out new ways to keep us safer on the road since the very beginnings and it is safe to say that the cars we drive around in these days are at least five times as safe as those our parents drove.
The best thing about it is that they there are new safety advancements being introduced every day, it seems. Concepts such as safety foam, new materials and improved tyres are all just waiting to be implemented in production cars, making them even safer.
To complete the circle, the introduction of self-driven cars is often hailed as the ultimate in safety feature, but this is something we will have to see for ourselves.
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We live in the early days of online shopping which holds the potential to replace the more traditional shopping altogether at one point in the future. When it comes to car parts and vehicle equipment, people are definitely going online for their needs. And they are making the right choice. Today, we’ll take a look at a couple of reasons why going online for car parts and equipment is the only sensible choice.
You Get the Best Prices
When running a shop of any kind, the costs of operating an actual physical store make for much of the operational costs. Even if you own the space (which is rarely the case), you still have to pay the bills and all kinds of legal and tax fees. Because of this, brick and mortar car parts shops will never be able to offer the same prices online stores can. It is pure mathematics. It costs less to operate an online car parts store and it is therefore possible to lower one’s prices. For a buyer, this can make the savings quite substantial, especially in the long run.
You Get More Choice
Before online car parts stores, you were limited to the shops you had in your area. If you had only one, then you really had no choice. They dictated the prices and the terms and there was nothing you could do. In case no one near you had the part you needed, you were forced to either take a trip or order the parts and wait for days and weeks before they are delivered. With online shops, it does not matter where they are headquartered; if they deliver to your area, you are golden. This allows you to shop around and find the exact parts at the best prices possible.
There is No Need to "Try On" the Parts
One of the biggest issues for some ecommerce shops is that they sell products that people want to see, touch, smell and perhaps even try on (in the case of clothing shops). The technology has not yet reached the point where this is possible. With car parts, however, there is no need for anything like this. You know the serial number of the part, you know the manufacturer, you know the dimensions. There is no chance that a part will not fit or anything like that.
You Can Learn Stuff
One of the best things about a great car parts store is that it will feature a blog that is run by the owners/employees and where you will be able to find plenty of valuable content. This content will sometimes be purely informative and give you the best solutions for the problems you have. At other times, you might even get new ideas on such blogs or learn from guest posters who have had certain experiences with the things you are thinking of purchasing.
Beyond everything else, purchasing car parts online is convenient. You do not have to drive to the shop and deal with salespeople who are often condescending in car parts shops (for some reason). It really is as simple as clicking a few times and typing in your credit card details.
Even though some probably wouldn’t agree with this claim, there is more to car than horsepower and appearance. The feeling you have while behind the wheel is as important and is a feature that often comes to prominence when you are on a long road trip. However, this raises yet another question: what are the things that can improve your driving experience? Well, good seating will surely help, but this is not all you can do. Soundproofing your car is also a thing that makes your ride much more pleasurable. Here’s why.
Noise is a Road Hazard
The first thing you need to have in mind is that noise is not only a slight nuisance. It is a genuine road hazard. Constant noise can sometimes cause anxiety which, in turn, makes one agitated while driving. Needless to say, one can call this ‘an accident waiting to happen’. In order to fight it, people usually try to turn up the music volume or simply tune out, which is yet again quite dangerous. With this in mind, soundproofing your car might be the only sensible thing to do.
Reducing the Outside Noise
Now, if you were to make your car overall less noisy, there would be an extremely difficult and pricy task ahead of you. To do this, you would most probably have to spend a fortune on a repair or replacement of parts in your car and, even then, the success of the results would be questionable. However, some cars are made louder than others, which means that nothing is wrong with them in the first place.
Exhaust is Crucial
In order to at least try and make your car a bit more silent, there are few places you need to take a look at. According to people behind Cobra Sport Australia, the most critical thing for a silent car as well as a comfy ride is a proper exhaust that is firmly in place. A loose exhaust increases the frequency, as well as the intensity of vibration and only makes your car noisier.
On the other hand, there are those who remove both the muffler and resonator in order to make their car louder. Still, apart from making your car sounding louder, it could also make your gas mileage worse, which is another reason why this is not recommended. While mufflers don’t add anything to your car’s horsepower, they do improve efficiency.
Soundproofing the Car
There are a few methods one can resort to in order to make their car sound better and they mostly have something to do with damping materials, like mats, sprays and foams. By using mats on the floor of your car, you are likely to reduce the intensity of vibration reaching you. Also, every single hole and crack in your car serves as an amplifier, which is bound to make it noisier. Luckily, with the use of sprays and foams, you can fill them up and resolve this issue in the most cost-efficient manner.
Making your car sound better is not a particularly difficult task, yet it is something not many people decide to do. The most important reason behind this is the myth that if your car sounds bad, there is something seriously wrong with it, something that costs a lot of money to fix. Still, in most cases, all one needs to do is replace or tighten their exhaust system a bit, buy some damping mats and fill any crack with a foam or spray. The price of all these upgrades may not be that great, but the difference you will feel in driving experience would be immeasurable.
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We definitely live in an age of technology and automotive industry is a big part of it. Like always, the automotive industry is on the very forefront of developing technologies, finding new ways to incorporate new tech in the future solutions and concepts.
While some of these concepts are talked about pretty much everywhere you turn such as self-driving vehicles for example, there are also quite a few new technologies that are just as interesting but that somehow fly under the radar for most people. And that is what we’re interested in today.
Airbags on the Outside
Airbags have long become an integral part of the passive safety in our cars. Depending on the model of your car and the year it was manufactured, it will feature more or less airbags on the inside of the car, minimizing the risks of injury and doing their best to keep everyone alive and in one piece. More recently, however, we are hearing about airbags that will deploy on the outside of the car, or more precisely underneath it.
This is a concept Mercedes and some other manufacturers are tinkering with, putting airbags underneath the car; airbags that would deploy when sensors realize impact is imminent. The airbags are envisioned to double the stopping power thanks to the friction coating on the bottom side. In addition to this, these airbags would lift the car for about 3 inches, countering the dipping motion and improving the effectiveness of bumpers indirectly.
The concept of smart highways is another exciting idea that was popular for a brief moment when that section of a highway in the Netherlands was first opened, but since then, people have stopped talking about, for some reason. At the time, it was the coolest thing ever, a highway with glow-in-the-dark road markings that are solar-powered and provide increased visibility.
In future, smart highways have the potential to be much more. For instance, they could provide additional information for the drivers, such as information on upcoming turns and conditions on the road, giving warnings in cases of accidents or traffic jams. The potential uses are almost endless and while this is something that will probably require years, if not decades, it is definitely interesting.
For some reason, no one likes talking about tires. People do not give them any attention, when in reality; some of the most important technological advances are being made in the car tire industry. For instance, a couple of manufacturers such as Hankook and Bridgestone are working on puncture-resistant airless tires.
On the other hand, manufacturers like Michelin and Yokohama are working on tires that will improve fuel consumption of cars they are mounted on, doing good for the environment and our wallets alike. Goodyear is, for instance, working on two concepts, one for electric cars and other for improving performance, safety and fuel economy. In short, a lot is going on and you should get involved. This particular blog is a great starting point.
Vehicle Tracking and Marketing
Not everything that awaits us in the future is good, of course. For instance, there is talk that insurance companies and possibly governments might start charging fees depending on miles covered by a specific vehicle. It is all very bureaucratic and therefore probably part of our future.
It is also very, very possible that advertisements and marketing will also enter out car in the next few years. It comes with the territory when we are talking cars that will be online at all times. It is only a matter of time before a McDonald’s ad lights up your HUD. Let’s just hope it is not too invasive.
Over the past five years multimedia systems have been shadowed by smart phones and tablets. When people need to use a navigation system they usually just download the latest app and connect an external mobile device to their vehicle. The standard GPS as we know it is no longer relevant and manufacturers have struggled over the years to adapt to industry changes and find new ways to reel in customers. However, all that could be over with the release of the new Kenwood DNX521DAB.
The Kenwood DNX521DAB is a multimedia device that has been designed specifically for Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT vehicles. It features everything one would expect from a high-class multimedia system and offers applications and components that not even the most advanced tablets have.
Picture and Sound Quality
Without decent car entertainment a multimedia system would never have a chance of competing with a tablet. The Kenwood DNX521DAB has a seven-inch high-definition touch screen that provides superb picture quality. Images are sharp, crisp, bleed-free, and the colouring is spot-on. When playing DVD’s and other downloaded media, the up-scaling is flawless.
Equally impressive is the sound quality. With output in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound, it’s certainly of a high calibre. Whether the device is being used for music or video, the sound is clear and immersive, making the viewing or listening experience a pleasure.
When it comes to car multimedia devices the navigation aspect is often overlooked – which is ironic considering that’s what they were originally designer for! The in-built navigation system on the Kenwood DNX521DAB is powered by Garmin and provides a comprehensive database of POIs and destinations in both the UK and Europe.
The Navigation system can be set to automatically update to ensure that the road maps are all current. In addition, it will alert drivers of accidents, roadworks and traffic to prevent any unnecessary delays. Route settings can be set to the fastest, shortest and even the most fuel efficient.
Media playback has always been an issue for car multimedia systems. Nowadays a standard DVD player won’t cut it, so many of the older systems have since become obsolete. The Kenwood DNX521DAB features media playback in a wide variety of formats, ensuring that it doesn’t go out-of-date for a very long time.
The addition of the microSD card slot – which wasn’t available on previous Kenwood models – can play everything from WAV files and MP3s to more obscure formats such as MKV videos. In addition, the device can download media directly from the Internet to either its internal hard drive or an external source.
Forgetting a battery charger when trying to get from A to B is very frustrating. Most people don’t store tablet or smart phone cables in their cars, making them easy to forget. A GPS system, however, doesn’t have this problem as there’s absolutely no logic in removing them. Luckily, if the cable is removed it doesn’t matter too much as the Kenwood DNX521DAB has excellent battery life – far more than the average smart phone or tablet.
The Kenwood DNX521DDAB proves that car multimedia systems still have relevance; even in today’s increasingly mobile tech world. While they may not have all of the applications and hardware components of tablets, they’re definitely a more functional alternative.
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Here at UK Fuel Cards we’re celebrating the birthday of one of the most beloved and successful brands of the century – that’s right, Aston Martin is 100 years old this year. The British sports car firm has for years been an aspiration, a fantasy and a hobby, which is why it seemed only fitting to put together a list of five reasons why we love Aston Martin. In no particular order…
The Aston Martin DB2/4 (1953) - Believe it or not, Aston Martin has been making cars for forty years before the DB2/4 appeared in 1953. We know that there are countless super cars that preceded the DB2/4, but its beautiful curves, long bonnet and, of course, its iconic grille shape achieved aesthetic perfection – and not only in our eyes, as this look was then on adopted in all subsequent models. A legacy was born.
The Aston Martin DBR1 (1956) - A mere three years later, the unforgettable DBR1 merged – Aston Martin had no intention to stick to only making desirable grand tourers like the DB2/4. This incredible race car went on to win the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race in 1959 – few have been able to compare to a vehicle that could take on the most demanding of circuits as well as turn heads with its beauty.
The Aston Martin DB5 (1963) - The release of the DB5 in 1963 in Aston Martin’s 50th year was their finest hour. Fast, pretty, filled with toys – this breathtaking vehicle was born to become an icon, with or without the help of a certain British agent. When Goldfinger was released in ‘64, the DB5 became immortalised. It still remains our dream car.
The Aston Martin DB7 (1994) - We’ll ignore the 80s (who remembers the 80s anyway?), and head straight to the 90s, when Ford took the reins and allowed the company to eventually produce the magnificent DB7. During this time, cars were boxy, angular and unappealing – all except one, that is. The DB7 boasted those infamous curves, set light with a ferocious elegance. Almost 20 years on, we’re still in love with this car, and with more than 7,000 manufactured over ten years of production, our Fuel Card customers have got more chance of encountering a DB& on the road than any other Aston.
The Aston Martin CC 100 (2013) - As Lamborghini brought out the Veveno to celebrate their 50th birthday, Aston Martin also stuck to what they know best and produced a car to sum up their 100 years of motoring. Unsurprisingly, the CC100 is a graceful, beautiful, track-inspired concept with no roof, panelless doors and a top speed of 180mph. Bliss.
These are our top five – can you add to the list? Whether or not you are lucky enough to drive your own Aston Martin, you and your fleet can at least experience some special Bond-worthy treatment with our competitive wholesale fuel prices and security features, courtesy of our flexible fuel cards.