5 Huge Driverless Car Problems (Besides The Obvious Ones)

Driverless cars used to be nothing more than the wet dream of engineers and science fiction nerds, the kind of thing they’d rock themselves to sleep fantasizing about.

But now that we’ve reached 2017, the future, that wet dream has become a messy reality. Actual autonomous machines sweep across our roads every day. We’ve talked about the safety issues of these before and how they’re likely to murder every one of us. But the widespread adoption of these cars has potentially even greater implications, even world changing ones. Things like …

#5. They’ll Create A Legal And Political Minefield

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Currently, the laws around self-driving cars are both simple and complicated. They’re simple in the sense that there are damned few actual laws covering the things. That’s also the complicated part.

Broadly speaking, something can be considered legal simply because no one has said otherwise, and that’s kind of the situation self-driving cars find themselves in now. A few states have written laws regulating, restricting, or otherwise addressing these cars, but unfortunately, all those laws totally contradict each other. That kind of legal free-for-all has some serious consequences. Companies don’t want to invest billions of dollars in something if it will shortly be made illegal, which is why many of them are now practically begging to have set down and far firmer national laws about self-driving cars.


Nice work, guys. Time for another seven week recess.

Federal agencies regulate the technology used in cars (think airbags, seatbelts, that kind of thing), which is obviously relevant in the case of self-driving cars. But at the moment they’re reluctant to pass judgment on technology that’s still so new. They’d prefer a little more research be done to find out what the “safest” type of autonomous car is before they make any regulations.

United States Department of Transportation
“Just please no Skynet, that’s it for now.”

In short, self-driving cars present a really confusing overlap between traffic regulation and car technology regulation; even if the Federal government does lay down some national guidelines, you can imagine how some states — say ones with automakers, or tech companies, or more public transportation infrastructure — might have a different opinion on this than other states. They’re not all going to be happy with a national solution, which means self-driving car regulation is going to hit a political crash test wall pretty fast. Want to see your elected representatives forcefully arguing about “ghost-riding the whip” on C-SPAN? Because it’s coming …

#4. The Parking Revolution Will Mean The Roads Are Full Of Cars With Nobody In Them

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On-demand valet services like Luxe and Zirx came and went so fast that many people never heard of them. “Like Uber, but for parking,” was the general idea, but there was no real way to make that concept profitable. The main problem being that they had to pay their fleet of human valets actual money.

Self-driving cars could be the solution. Here’s how it would work. Your self-driving car drives you to the airport, gives you a kiss on the cheek, and then drives itself back to your house. A week later, you fly home, all tanned and oily, and find your car has driven back to the airport on its own and is waiting for you at Arrivals. Commuters might try the same thing. Why pay for expensive parking downtown, when you can order your car to drop you off then find free street parking five miles away?

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“Go on car! Have fun with your friends.”

Think about how much space is devoted to parking that sits empty almost all the time. Like a mall after hours, or a stadium when there’s no game on. If self-driving cars can use our supply of parking spots a little more efficiently, we could reclaim some of that space for something more useful.

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Although this would mean less places to hide in when you’re trying to get high.

There’s a but though. Those clever self-parking schemes would involve an awful lot of empty cars cruising across town to park themselves. Cars cruising around with no-one in them is not really ideal from a traffic point of view. It gets worse when you consider the possibility that at least a few geniuses will also be sending their car around the block a few times while they run errands.

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“Car-Bot, could you inconvenience everyone else in the city for the next two hours while I shop for vape pens?”

This will almost certainly be one of those things politicians go to absolute war over; you can easily imagine some cities and states banning moving vehicles that don’t have passengers in them. Or maybe putting in special, extra-shitty Zero-Passenger lanes where pedestrians are allowed and even encouraged to spit on cars as they pass by.

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Spit will hardly be the worst thing that happens to these things.

But that kind of discrimination could hurt self-driving taxi like systems, which would necessarily be empty some of the time. And those types of systems, if efficiently utilized, could lead to dramatically less congestion.

In short, the implications of it all are hard to predict, and the ultimate decision likely wouldn’t be made by a traffic engineer, but an angry councilman who got stuck behind an empty Tesla for twelve blocks that morning.

#3. They Will Only Benefit Rich People

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One of the nice things about our existing system of cars and roads is that, for the most part, it doesn’t really matter how nice your car is. Whether you’re in a Tesla Model S or a Hyundai Pony, everyone’s following the same speed limit, and using the same lanes, and parking in the same parking spots.

But that will change with the arrival of self-driving cars, because the average person isn’t going to get a whiff of these for quite some time. Even the Tesla Model 3, which will supposedly come out next year and have partial autonomous capabilities, will be at least $35,000. That’s not crazy expensive, but it’s far from cheap, especially considering the average person drives a much less expensive used car.

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In some cases, far cheaper.

And that’s just Tesla’s limited autopilot, which isn’t quite fully autonomous yet. The real hands-off self-driving car stuff, like the tech that Google is working on, doesn’t even have a price yet. Some industry experts anticipate that a decade from now, self-driving features will add $10,000 or more to the price of a car. Basically, purchasing a bare bones autopilot feature will cost you almost twice the price of a decent used Toyota.

So a lot of the benefits of self driving cars – easy parking, extra free time, exclusive lanes on the interstate – will only be experienced by the wealthy, further stoking the class warfare in this country until we inevitably storm Trump Tower the Bastille.

#2. Self-Driving Cars Will Force You To Work While You Commute (And Finally Kill Radio)

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Cars are basically the only place where radio still makes sense. Obviously we can’t read or watch television while we’re driving, but we need something to distract us, because we dare not be alone with our thoughts for even a moment.

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Hold it together, Karen.

Hence, the enduring success of the radio. You can listen to it while driving. The industry has based its entire business and advertising model around it.

Which is good, because just about anything the radio does is done better somewhere else. We’ve got like a billion better options for listening to music now, whether it’s via streaming apps or iTunes or Youtube. Traffic reports are much more usable when you can see a map on a screen. And news radio doesn’t compare very favorably to the Internet.

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Also, the crunchy granola discussions on public radio are all done better by podcasts now.

But all those things require your full attention, right? You can’t navigate YouTube or the AP News Wire while trying to keep from steering into a bridge abutment and hurtling your passengers through the windshield and into the next world. A radio does all the work for you with minimal input required, which is why it’s stuck around for so long. But with self driving cars, that need to be read to goes away. You can hand control over to your robot chauffeur and kick back with an iPad, which will probably mean the end of Top 40 radio and morning zoo shows. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, there’s something else to consider — now that your hands are free from the burden of holding the steering wheel, what’s to keep you from typing up a few reports or emails for your boss during your commute?

When Blackberrys first hit the work force, one thing almost everyone complained about was the intrusiveness of the device. By making emails so accessible, it created an expectation that people could and would respond to work emails at any hour of the day, extending work hours into well beyond what they were being paid for. If you have a smartphone connected at all to your job, you’ve probably sprung out of bed to take care of some urgent message you just received from your boss more than once. It’s like leaping into action after getting a late night text from an ex, only without the expectation of sex at the end of the rainbow.

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u up? wot r u wearin? also, need regulatory impact memo revised and on my desk by tmrw morning

That same deal is going to happen with the arrival of self-driving cars. An hour of sitting around with nothing to do? Tell us your manager won’t start giving you some tasks to work on for the ride home. Heck, tell us you won’t start volunteering to do it yourself. That expectation of being available around the clock is a two-way street, soon to be navigated by self-driving cars that allow us to be even more available.

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We are our own worst enemies.

Oh, and speaking of things that will happen a lot more in cars …

#1. People Are Absolutely Going To Have Sex In Them, All The Time

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Ok, so imagine you and your date/special someone/Craigslist respondent are riding around in a fantastic future machine that can pilot itself. You don’t have to pay any attention to it, it won’t give you any weird looks, and it doesn’t require any kind of conversation. It’s happy to just drive wherever you tell it to drive, completely oblivious to whatever you and your fellow passenger are doing.

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“Car, take us to pound town.”

There has never been a finer recipe for boning. Hell, it would be weird not to have sex in a self-driving car, especially on long road trips. Which means the highways, byways, and thoroughfares of the nation, at any given time of day, are going to be loaded with foggy sex pods. It varies from state to state, but as of now, having sex in a car is considered sex in public, which is a misdemeanor. But all of those laws assume that you’re parked in a neighborhood or rest stop or something. That might all change when the car is in motion, being steered by an unfeeling automaton that is literally impossible to distract (see “things are sometimes legal only because they aren’t explicitly illegal,” above). There’ll be like a 40% chance you’re going to see someone’s taint every time you drive to Piggly Wiggly.

Also, think of all the additional effects this could have on things previously unrelated to driving. Tinder will add a carpooling tab. The airline industry will suffer (it’s still way difficult to have sex in a plane, and way cheaper to have your robot butler drive you home for the holidays). The DOT traffic camera websites will become subscription based. And the traffic report would suddenly become the most popular local news segment in history, because there is zero chance people wouldn’t fuck their way through a gridlock on the 405.

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Wear your condoms and seatbelts everyone.

 

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The “extremely fast” BMW concept electric motorcycle

BMW has super-charged the race towards zero-emission biking by unveiling its latest concept electric motorcycle.

The BMW Motorrad Concept Link uses radical electric battery packs stored in its base, features a reverse gear to make parking easier, and a seat that adjusts itself to suit each rider’s bottom.

Its touchscreen dashboard can even be connected to the rider’s online calendar so it always knows where it needs to go every time it is started.

BMW claims the concept is “extremely fast” though designers have not yet revealed stats to back up the claim.

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Concept electric motorcycle could kickstart new era of biking

The German automotive superpower hopes the concept could kickstart a new era of motorcycle design.

BMW Motorrad’s Alexander Buckan said: “The technical realities of electric drive – such as the flat energy packs in the underfloor and the compact drive on the rear wheel – allowed us to create a highly distinctive design which shapes a new segment.

“The resulting expressive power of the vehicle is absolutely new for BMW Motorrad and breaks with all conventional viewing patterns.”

BMW says the concept blends fast acceleration and easy handling.

Due to its low overall height, getting on is easy too, from the side or even from the back.

A reverse gear ensures that it is easy to manoeuvre, making it ideal to park in tight city spaces.

Electric concept motorcycle

Electric motorcycle projects data onto windshield

Instead of a classic instrument cluster, speed, navigation and battery information is projected onto the windshield directly in the rider’s field of vision.

Secondary information is displayed on a panel below the handlebars.

Programmable, touch-enabled buttons on the handlebars allow the rider to access functions without having to loosen grip.

The concept is the latest in a series of vehicles designed by BMW to showcase the future of transport.

4 Expensive Cars To Maintain And 4 That Are Surprisingly Cheap

Thinking of investing in a new run-around? Make sure you read our guide to the cheapest (and most expensive) cars to maintain first. There may be a few surprises.

1. You’re Thinking About a…

Jaguar XK-8, from £3,500

This sleek British sports car packs a powerful engine – and some hidden gremlins.Estimated annual running costs

Fuel: £2,000

Tax: £235

Mechanical: £1,000

Total: £3,235

The Jaguar XK-8 boasts a punchy 4.0-litre V8 in its most basic form, which is capable of developing 290bhp, as well as exterior styling which still looks attractive on the road today. However, these cut-price speed machines aren’t cheap to run.

The engine is thirsty, the bodywork is prone to rusting and a set of tyres can cost upwards of £800. Oh, and the inefficient powerplant also means annual Vehicle Excise Duty stings a bit…

But You Should Really Get a…

Mazda MX-5, from £600

The Japanese alternative is a hoot to drive, but is also reliable and cheap to fix, too.Estimated annual running costs

Fuel: £1,300

Tax: £235

Mechanical: £500

Total: £2,035

Okay, the diminutive Mazda MX-5 lacks the hairy-chested V8 engine, but its combination of rear-wheel-drive layout, lightweight design and spot-on chassis make it a budding racing driver’s dream.

The wheels are tiny (meaning tyres are cheap), the engines are renowned for going the distance, and the bodywork tends to be inexpensive and easy to patch up, thanks to thousands of MX-5 parts available

2. You’re Thinking About a…

Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2013), from £11,500

It’s an entry-level Mercedes-Benz, but it remains an expensive premium hatchback option.Estimated annual running costs

Fuel: £1,100

Tax: £185

Mechanical: £600

Total: £1,885

With classic Mercedes-Benz styling – and the famous Silver Arrow on the bonnet – the A-Class is a tempting option for anyone who wants to add a bit of premium quality to their daily hatchback.

However, the engines aren’t particularly efficient, the list price remains high (even on high-mileage used models) and servicing at a certified Mercedes-Benz dealer is expensive.

But You Should Really Get an…

Audi A3 (2013), from £8,000

This premium hatchback is cheap to buy, and reliability is a strong point.Estimated annual running costs

Fuel: £650

Tax: Free

Mechanical: £600

Total: £1,250

You can pick up Audi’s upmarket hatchback for surprisingly low prices, partly thanks to steep residual values and the fact they are getting on a bit now. But overall reliability is good, and the engines are notoriously strong.

Official Audi dealers tend to charge a premium for labour compared to less coveted brands, but owners should find that good used examples don’t throw up too many problems. Plus, there are plenty of parts available , thanks to the many sellers specialising in breaking old models.

3. You’re Thinking About a…

Land Rover Discovery (2015), from £25,000

The seven-seater workhorse has become a lifestyle statement, but it’ll eat into the family budget.Estimated annual running costs

Fuel: £900

Tax: £110

Mechanical: £1000

Total: £2,010

Anyone with a large family will appreciate a vehicle that boasts seven seats and plenty of room for the weekly shop, but opting for the highly capable Land Rover Discovery could be an expensive choice.

Servicing and maintenance at an approved garage will be costly, and the British marque doesn’t retain the best reputation for reliability. Patchy infotainment systems, interior build quality issues and general creakiness can also prove problematic.

But You Should Really Get a…

Citroën C4 Grand Picasso, from £13,000

A high-maintenance family doesn’t have to mean a high-maintenance car.Estimated annual running costs

Fuel: £650

Tax: £ Free

Mechanical: £600

Total: £1,250

The economical engines in the big Citroën C4 Grand Picasso are proven to be reliable, meaning service intervals are long and mechanical costs should be kept to a minimum. Also, the vehicles have been designed distinctly with family life in mind, so the interiors are borderline bulletproof.

Almost-new models can be picked up with huge discounts – such is the nature of this ubiquitous family machine – while maintenance and servicing costs tend to be extremely competitive, with most garages offering simplified or flat labour fees.

4. You’re Thinking About a…

Maserati Quattroporte (2005), from £15,000

A luxury Italian saloon might be the dream car, but it could turn into a total nightmare.Estimated annual running costs

Fuel: £2,600

Tax: £515

Mechanical: £1,500

Total: £4,615

Very little beats the howl of the Maserati Quattroporte Italian stallion’s V8 engine and its opulent surroundings are tempting, but official recalls have been made for problems with the electronic stability control, the front suspension and other electrical issues.

That’s before we get into the amount of fuel this thing slurps, the cost of replacing tyres and the length of the bill should something go wrong – which is very likely in high-mileage models.

But You Should Really Get a…

BMW 7 Series Saloon

What this German cruiser lacks in flair, it more than makes up for with reliability and high-tech features.Estimated annual running costs

Fuel: £970

Tax: £145

Mechanical: £800

Total: £1,915

It’s possible to snap up a 2012 BMW 7 Series for the same sort of money as a much older Maserati Quattroporte, and there’s arguably just as much of a premium feel to the German machine, without the constant worry of huge repair bills.

The engine range is more frugal, the consumables (tyres, wipers, etc) are cheaper to replace, and BMW build quality is up there with the best. If you want a stylish saloon that won’t break the bank, look no further.

The Matching pair Bugatti Chiron Supercar and Super Yatcht.

0 (1)There’s now a yacht to match your Bugatti Chiron supercar.

Bugatti teamed up with yacht designer Palmer Johnson to create the Bugatti Niniette 66, a limited-edition sport yacht inspired by the Bugatti Chiron.

The Chiron is a stunning, $2.6 million sports car with a massive amount of power (1,500 hp, to be exact) that can reach a top speed of 261 mph.

Bugatti has been working with Palmer Johnson on the yacht project since 2015. Bugatti said potential buyers expressed interest after seeing the renderings, but asked for a closer connection to the Chiron that made its world premiere at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. It should come as no surprise that Bugatti owners were among the prospective buyers.

Now Bugatti and Palmer Johnson have unveiled the results of their collaboration — a luxury sports yacht that doesn’t skimp on power.

 

Bugatti

THE BUGATTI NINIETTE IS A 66-FOOT-LONG LUXURY YACHT MADE OF CARBON FIBER COMPOSITE SO IT CAN REALLY MOVE. BUGATTI SAID THE YACHT CAN REACH A TOP SPEED OF 44 KNOTS.

Bugatti

THE SPACIOUS OPEN DECK COMES WITH LEATHER SEATS AND FEATURES NATURALLY BLUE MORTA OAK WOOD.

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Bugatti

THE LOWER DECK COMES WITH A CHAMPAGNE BAR, SUN PAD, AND PLENTY OF OPEN SEATS.

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THE LOWER DECK ALSO COMES WITH A PRIVATE JACUZZI…

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… AND FIRE PIT!

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THE FIRE PIT SITS SMACK IN THE CENTER WHILE THE JACUZZI PROVIDES A NICE VIEW OF THE WATER.

Bugatti

RATHER THAN SPLITTING THE INTERIOR BELOW THE LOWER DECK INTO MULTIPLE CABINS, BUGATTI OPTED FOR A MASSIVE, SPACIOUS SALON WITH A COUCH AND FLAT SCREEN TV.

Bugatti

A KING-SIZED BED SITS ADJACENT TO THE SALON.

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BUT THERE’S ALSO A MASSIVE COUCH IF YOU WANT TO SLEEP MORE PEOPLE.

Bugatti

DELIVERIES OF THE LIMITED-EDITION YACHT WILL BEGIN MARCH 2018. BUGATTI DECLINED TO DISCLOSE THE PRICE OF THE YACHT.

10 Most Expensive Cars For 2017

Though they all ride on four tires and are operated in the usual manner, they’re not cars in the strictest sense. Rather, they’re rolling works of fine art that push the limits of vehicular performance, though only a smattering of humans will ever get the chance to actually see any of them in person, let alone drive one.

They’re among the rarest rides on the road and guarantee the kind of extreme exclusivity that not even the costliest Mercedes and BMWs could hope to approach. They’re true supercars, priced without reason, with price tags that well exceed the sacrosanct $1 million mark. That’s beyond the reach of mere mega-lottery winners and professional athletes, requiring pockets as deep as Scrooge McDuck and a garage the size of a warehouse to hold the rest of what’s almost certainly a fleet of equally matchless vehicular playthings.

And that’s assuming that even with all the money in the world, one might be fortunate enough to obtain one of what’s typically a tightly limited – and highly coveted – production run.

We’re featuring 10 of the costliest – and also, by the way, the quickest and most beautiful – rides in the world.

10. Apollo Arrow – £1,100,000

Coming from fledgling German exotic car maker Apollo Automobil, the mid-engine Arrow was unveiled at the 2016 Geneva MotorShow alongside the more affordable ($800K) Apollo N. The sharply creased Arrow makes its point with a 4.2-liter twin-turbo V8 engine sourced from Audi that produces an estimated 1,000 horsepower and is said to help the car hit 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds. Only around 100 are expected to be built.

Mazzanti

9. Mazzanti Evantra Millecavalli – £1,200,000

With a slim production run of 25 units expected, this carbon fiber hypercoupe replaces the Evantra in the Italian automaker’s lineup and packs a wallop with a 7.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that’s rated at 1,000 horsepower. It’s claimed to take the low-slung coupe to 60 mph in a sudden 2.7 seconds and reach a felonious top speed of 250 mph.

Ferrari

8. Ferrari LaFerrari Aptera – £1,400,000

With only 200 planned, this is an open-top version of the luscious LaFerrari hybrid sportscar. It’s powered by a 6.3-liter V12 gasoline engine and a 120 kW electric motor that combine to produce the equivalent of 950 raging horsepower. That’s good for a 0-60 mph run in under 3 seconds and a top speed estimated at 217 mph

 

ARASH

7. Arash AF10 Hybrid – £1,500,000

This hybrid-powered supercar comes from a low-volume English supercar-maker and is built with extensive use of lightweight carbon fiber. The AF10 Hybrid enhances a 550-horsepower 6.2-liter gasoline V8 engine with no fewer than four electric motors in what the automaker calls a “Warp Drive” configuration to achieve a staggering 2,080 horsepower and achieve an estimated 2.8-second leap to 60 mph. A bona fide racing version with a fire extinguisher, roll cage, and intercom costs an extra £100 grand.

Zenvo

6. Zenvo TS1 – £1,800,000

Coming from a little-known Danish supercar builder, the TS1 was revealed at last year’s Geneva Motor Show as the successor to the brand’s ST1, bolstered with assorted performance enhancements that include a new 5.9-liter V8 with twin superchargers, an estimated 1,100 horsepower, and a top speed of 233 mph. Production is limited to 15 units.

Koenigsegg

5. Koenigsegg Regera – £1,900,000

The name translates into English as to “reign” or”rule,” and the Regera indeed rules the road with a 5.0-liter twin-turbo V8 gasoline engine that’s augmented by three electric motors and puts a combined output of 1,822 horsepower to the pavement. Only 80 units are planned to be built by this Swedish exotic car builder.

Bugatti

4. Bugatti Chiron – £2,700,000

Bugatti follows up the coveted Veyron 16.4 with the dramatically sculpted Chiron. It’s powered by an updated version of the automaker’s 8.0-liter W16 engine (it’s like two V8s joined at the crankshaft) that nets a truly illegal 1,500 horsepower and can propel the two-seater to 60 mph in a scenery-blurring 2.5 seconds.

Pagani

3. Pagani Huayra BC – £2,800,000

Lighter in weight, and with a wider track and more aerodynamic styling than the Huayra upon which its based, it’s named after well-known car collector Benny Caiola (the “BC”). It packs a Mercedes-Benz AMG-supplied 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 engine with an estimated 750 horsepower. Only 20 units are expected to be built.

W Motors

2. Lykan Hypersport – £3,400,000

Only seven units of the so-called “first Arab supercar” from Dubai’s W Motors are expected to be built, with the first one having already been delivered to the Abu Dhabi police as what could be the speediest cop car on the planet with 780 horsepower under the hood. Aside from a truly quick and attractive supercar, £3.4 million gets you LED headlamps encrusted with 220 diamonds (or other precious stone of one’s choosing) each, among other over-the-top accoutrements. A less-expensive model (at £1.85 million), the Fenyr Supersport, is also available.

Aston Martin

1. Aston Martin MA-RB 00 – £3,900,000

This street-legal racer is slated for the 2018 model year and was developed in conjunction with Red Bull Racing. It will ride on a lightweight carbon fiber structure and come powered by a new V12 engine, with production limited to between 99 and 150 road cars and 25 track-only versions.

 

5 Products for Better Fuel Economy

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Walk down the aisles of almost any automotive store and you’ll see a lot of products that can help your car in a number of different ways. But like anything you buy, not every claim a product makes on the packaging comes true. During times of rising gas prices, which seems to be all the time, vehicle owners are on the lookout for a well-priced product that can save them a few dollars in the long run.

There are lots of products in the automotive market that claim to increase or restore the gas mileage in your vehicle. There are fuel additives, air bleed devices, liquid injection and even magnets all claiming to get more out every gallon of gas. Some of them claim to clean out your engine and as a result restore your engine’s fuel economy. Others claim to change the molecular structure of the gasoline, heat or cool the gas, or just add air to it to make it last longer. But do any of them actually work?

We’ve put together a list of five types of products that claim to improve your gas mileage and paired them up against testing done by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Popular Mechanics and other news agencies to see how they did. The government does not endorse, nor does it officially approve, any product so be wary of any gas saving products with similar claims. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) specifically warns against products that claim to have government backing.

Some may minimally increase your vehicle’s mileage, but it may be so small that you won’t even notice the difference, especially in your wallet. Other products can actually be harmful to your engine as well. So before you buy that next gas saving system or additive, check out the rest of this article.

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Fuel Additives

The most common products that claim to add some extra MPGs onto your drive are the pour-in-your-gas-tank additives. You’ll see almost an entire shelf devoted to them at the automotive parts store and most of them have two basic claims. The first is that they clean out parts of your engine. The second claim is that they increase or restore gas mileage because of or in addition to, the first claim.

Of course, whether or not the additives truly help clean out parts of your engine would be difficult for most vehicle owners to actually prove. Some of the areas these additives claim to clean are not easily accessible to the person buying them and therefore hard to properly evaluate on a case-by-case basis. Or, if they do clean the engine, the change is so insignificant that it has no effect on the engine’s mileage.

Some people put these additives into their vehicles at every fill-up and others may only do it occasionally, but either way you’re most likely not getting what you’ve paid for. Even if the additives do clean areas of your engine like they say, according to the EPA’s tests there are no additives you can put in your car that will increase gas mileage. The EPA tested 14 different fuel additives and none of them were proven to have any positive effect on a vehicle’s gas mileage. You’d be better off saving the few dollars you’d spend on the additives and actually buying a gallon of gas with them.

But additives are just one category of products that claim to increase your gas mileage.

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 Air Bleed and Vapor Bleed Devices

A more sophisticated approach to adding more miles to each gallon of gas comes from the air bleed and vapor bleed devices. An air bleed device sends additional air into the carburetor. They are typically installed on the positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) line or replace the idle-mixture screws.

The EPA has tested more than 20 air bleed devices and has found only one that slightly increased fuel mileage, but at the cost of increasing exhaust gases coming from the engine. Although one of these products showed a small increase in gas mileage, before you add an air bleed system into your car, consider the fact that the federal government considers some of these systems to be illegal tampering when installed.

A vapor bleed system, sometimes referred to as a mixture enhancer, works in a similar way but instead of just adding more air, it vaporizes the fuel going into the PCV manifold. Some vapor bleed systems work by taking liquid fuel on its way into the engine, and mixing it with air from a pressure line. The pressurized air and fuel mix together in a chamber until the fuel becomes vaporized and is then released into a line that feeds into PCV manifold.

The idea behind vaporized fuel is that the engine will burn the fuel more completely, not wasting any of the fuel and so increasing the mileage of each gallon. As opposed to the additives we talked about earlier these systems need to be installed in the engine compartment and certain modifications and additions added to the engine. Out of all the vapor bleed and mixture enhancer products that the EPA tested, not one of them showed any improvements to gas mileage.

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Liquid Injection

The idea of liquid injection comes from war planes during World War II. Fighter planes would inject a water, or water and alcohol mixture, into the combustion chambers of their engines in order to cool the air their turbochargers were warming. In addition to the turbochargers heating the air, the sheer altitude of the planes meant that the air going into the engine was less dense than air near the ground and therefore there wasn’t as much of it to cool the engines.

So the pilots would temporarily send water, or water and alcohol, to the combustion chamber to cool the air down and create more power to the engine. Since then, some auto manufacturers have tried to use the same idea in vehicles, but with no proven results. Kits that you can buy don’t inject water directly into the combustion chamber but rather send it to the fuel and air intake system. A few writers from Popular Mechanics installed a system into one of their trucks with less than stellar results. Their water injection system used the intake manifold to pull water from a bottle into the manifold.

They found that that the truck not only had a decrease in power when the water injection system was installed, but they also saw a decrease in fuel economy by 20 percent. Not exactly the results you want when you’re trying to save money. The EPA had better results with a liquid injection system they tested, but not enough to significantly increase fuel economy. They found only one liquid injection system that improved the gas mileage by a “very small” amount.

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Engine Ionizer

Many of the so-called gas-saving products on the market like to talk about increasing the efficiency of the fuel being consumed in the combustion chamber. An engine ionizer falls into this category.

The ionizer has a set of rubber clips that attach to each of the spark plug wires near the cylinder heads. It consists of one rubber clip for each cylinder that supposedly harnesses a “corona charge” which is a charge that gets transferred from the firing cylinder to another cylinder. The claim is that this charge then causes “a partial breakdown in the larger hydrocarbon molecules in all the non-firing cylinders, resulting in increased combustion efficiency.”

In addition to better gas mileage, some of these products also claim increased horsepower, reduced emissions, a smoother idle and better starts. When put to the test by Popular Mechanics, the test had to be abandoned due to a fire, which was caused by the product. The ionizing rubber blocks attached to the spark plug wires, began melting onto the manifold and caused flare-ups similar to what you might see when you’re cooking a burger over a grill, which is not exactly what you want inside your engine compartment. Not only did it cause a fire, but the test also showed a decrease in horsepower while the ionizer was attached.

One of the Web sites that sells an engine ionizer claims that vehicle owners can save $500 to $1,000 a year using the device. That’s a pretty tall order considering that a magazine for mechanics had to stop testing it because their car caught on fire.

But there’s still at least one trick up the gas-saving sleeve. Go on to the next page to find out how magnets aren’t just for holding pictures on the refrigerator.

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Fuel Line Magnets

Magnets are a reoccurring theme as a solution to life’s problems. If you’re partial to the magnetic wristbands that supposedly restore balance to your body and make you healthier, well we’re not here to shoot that down. But if you’re thinking about using magnets to increase your gas mileage, you should think again.

Here’s how the magnet products work: The magnets attach to the outside of your fuel line, sometimes inserted inside, and they are supposed to break up clumped fuel particles so they can burn more efficiently. As with all the other products we’ve mentioned, this is simply not true either. Tests of magnets on fuel lines have shown no improvement to a vehicle’s gas mileage.

In addition to the magnets not working, the idea that fuel inside of the engine isn’t burning efficiently is a bit flawed to begin with. Government tests have shown that 99 percent of the fuel that goes into your engine is burned up, with only 1 percent being leftover. If any of the products could actually cause an engine to burn fuel more efficiently the percentage would be so small that it would hardly be noticeable or worth the cost.

Real gas-saving measures have to be earned the old fashioned way. Drive the speed limit, remove excess weight from the car, keep the engine in good working condition, combine errands, use cruise control and keep from extreme driving habits like jack-rabbit starts. Saving money on gas is like getting into shape. It takes some discipline and there are no quick fixes to get the results you want.

Are These The worst cars in the world?

Today, there are good cars and cars that aren’t quite as good. Fortunately, it’s also true that today, there’s no such thing as a really bad car.

That wasn’t always the case, though, as anyone who owned a car in decades past can attest. New cars today start when you tell them to, stop when you need them to and – by and large – don’t conk out when you least expect it.

Let’s take you back to a time where 20,000-mile service intervals and 10-year anti-corrosion warranties weren’t the norm for the worst cars – as voted for by more than 2,500 Carbuyer readers.

10. Pontiac Aztek

The idea behind the Pontiac Aztek was sound: provide a practical and versatile SUV with styling acceptable to Generation X.

There was certainly plenty to shout about. It featured four-wheel drive, an optional head-up display and was able to carry a 4ft by 8ft sheet of plywood. Other options included a removable wheeled cargo tray in the boot, a centre console that was also a cooler and a backpack mounted in the seat backs.

So what was wrong then? Well, just look at it. The styling was awkward in the extreme. Pontiac’s design boss said he: “wanted to do a bold, in-your-face vehicle that wasn’t for everybody.” The problem was, it was so ugly, it wasn’t for anybody. The Aztek was a sales flop and lasted just five years.

9. Lancia Beta

Pretty styling, good performance and good value. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, as it happened.

The Lancia Beta gained a justifiable reputation for rusting at a remarkable rate. There are plenty of rumours as to why the Beta dissolved in the rain, but the most likely was poor rust-proofing in steel components. Many of these parts were structural leading to potentially dangerous component failure.

In the UK, Lancia’s largest market outside Italy, owners could participate in a buy-back scheme. If their car failed an inspection, they’d be offered a part-exchange deal to buy another Lancia or a Fiat. Cars that failed were crushed. In 1980, there were reports of cars less than five years old that had corroded excessively.

The problem led Lancia to introduce the UK’s first six-year anti-corrosion warranty, but the damage was done to the brand’s reputation and it ceased UK sales in the 1990s.

8. Suzuki X-90

In the 1990s, Suzuki had cornered the market in small 4x4s with models like the Vitara and Samurai. That’s because they were fun, cheap and rugged. The X-90 was none of those things.

It was a two-door, two-seat SUV that featured a pair of removable roof panels. It was powered by a wheezy 1.6-litre petrol engine and available in two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive and automatic configurations. It was the answer to a question nobody had asked.

It did at least boast some decent safety credentials, which was a good thing given well-documented cases of Samurais rolling over. But on the road, the steering was vague, the ride bouncy and handling merely average. Ultimately, the car wasn’t that bad – the same couldn’t be said of the concept, though. Buyers didn’t understand it then or now. Just a handful were sold – and a high list price didn’t help, either.

7. G-Wiz

The G-Wiz looks like a car (just), but it’s in fact a quadricycle – something that’s immediately obvious when it comes to its safety credentials. Quadricycles are a class of vehicle that don’t need to meet the same safety standards as passenger cars. It’s worth noting that a golf cart is just such a vehicle.

The G-Wiz, made in Bangalore by the REVA Electric Car Company, featured styling not unlike a child’s toy and was claimed to be capable of carrying two adults up front and two kids in the rear. However, with a fully-grown driver, there was zero rear legroom and the boot could barely carry shopping for a day, let alone a week. And it cost £9,995 new.

The Department for Transport said it had “serious safety concerns” after witnessing a 35mph crash test. Another test said passengers would likely suffer “serious or life-threatening” injuries in a 40mph crash. Despite this, the G-Wiz is still a reasonably common sight in central London, as it’s exempt from the Congestion Charge.

6. Rover CitiRover

At the turn of the millennium, MG Rover’s bosses knew they needed a small, affordable car to boost sales. A replacement for the Rover 100 was long overdue, but Rover had neither the cash nor the facilities to develop one from the ground up. It looked to India for a partnership, and found the Tata Indica – a car we now know as the CitiRover.

A deal was struck, with Tata and MG Rover agreeing to subtly tweak the styling and chassis settings and slap a Union Flag badge on the boot. The car would continue to be built in India and shipped to the UK. The problem was the deal didn’t stretch to improving the bits that were really below par, such as the interior quality and ergonomics.

That would have been acceptable if the price was low. But it wasn’t. It started at £6,500, rising to almost £9,000 for top-spec models. For that kind of cash, you could buy a considerably more talented Ford Fiesta or Vauxhall Corsa. And that’s exactly what buyers did. In 2005, MG Rover went under, taking the CitiRover with it. An ignominious footnote in the dying days of Rover.

5. Chrysler PT Cruiser Cabrio

Compared to the cars higher up the list, the PT Cruiser Cabrio is relatively recent. Trouble is, it’s little more appealing. The standard PT Cruiser certainly stood out from the crowd with its retro styling and fairly low price. The Cabrio didn’t.

Reducing the door count from five to three and replacing the fixed roof with a folding fabric one was a strange idea – and it was poorly executed. The styling missed the mark considerably, and meant that passers-by could see the poor interior plastics. Visibility was bad, it was hard to climb into the back seats and access to the boot was tricky.

Worse was the way the car would rattle and wobble its way down the road and crash over every bump. There was a remarkable lack of power from the large 2.4-litre engine, which was also noisy, rough and drank fuel at a huge rate. Less an American dream, more a nightmare.

4. Yugo 45

The Yugo 45 is another Eastern European car that isn’t fondly remembered. And another that began life as a Fiat. The first 45 was built under license in 1978 and was sold under a variety of names in several countries – including, unusually, the US.

The Yugoslavian-built Yugo was very cheap, but it was also proof that you get what you pay for. It was flimsy, prone to rust and quickly earned a reputation for poor reliability. It needed a new timing belt every 40,000 miles; something that was often neglected, as so many owners considered the car cheap enough to be disposable.

That wasn’t all. That the brochure’s list of standard features included an “exterior door mirror” in the singular tells you all you need to know about what was fitted – or wasn’t. In 1983, you’d pay £2,749 for a 45, or £3,299 in GL trim. Chances are, though, if you bought one, you’d be unlikely to replace it with another.

3. Lada Riva

Did you hear about the new 16-valve Lada? Eight valves in the engine and eight valves in the radio. What do you call a convertible Lada? A skip. These were just some of the jokes commonly heard in playgrounds in the 1980s, such was Lada’s reputation.

Launched gradually in Russia and Europe in the 1980s, the Lada Riva was another model that owed its existence to a pensionable Fiat. This time it was the 124, a car that launched in Turin in 1966. Basing a new car on a 14-year-old design would be unthinkable now, but Lada was clearly onto something, as these underpinnings formed the core of the Lada range until only a few years ago.

For all the jokes though, total sales of the 124 and Riva are thought to have exceeded 14 million. The Lada was a common sight on UK roads in the 1980s and 1990s, but it was lacklustre to drive and crude inside. On the plus side, there was plenty of space inside and it was easy to fix – something owners regularly needed to do.

2. FSO Polonez

Although the FSO Polonez first went on sale in 1978, it actually owes its existence to the Polski Fiat 125p, which launched way back in 1967. Fabryka Samochodów Osobowych (FSO) built the Polonez under license from Fiat, but it had an entirely new body designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Power came from the 126p’s 1.3 and 1.5-litre engines, as FSO was unable to purchase a license for a 2.0-litre engine from Fiat.

For all its faults – more on those in a moment – the Polonez was the only Eastern European car to pass US crash tests. Remarkably, it was sold in the UK until 1997, when emissions regulations defeated it.

The Polonez was cheaply built – understandable given Poland’s position behind the Iron Curtain at the time –powered by inefficient engines, ugly, poorly equipped and utterly undesirable. Perhaps its only saving grace was that it didn’t attract the same slew of jokes as…

1. Austin Allegro

Topping the list with almost a quarter of all votes was the Austin Allegro. Heralded as the saviour of the British car industry, it replaced the Austin 1100 (and its siblings) and was a precursor to the equally-unloved Austin Maestro.

Over 10 years, more than 640,000 Allegros found homes, mainly in the UK. The fundamental problem was the Allegro’s designers failed to spot the growing market for small practical hatchbacks, and internal politics dictated that Austin’s only hatchback would be the Maxi.

The car was designed by British Leyland’s Harris Mann. But according to Mann, the sleek lines of his handsome design sketches were compromised by management’s insistence on installing a bulky ventilation system and an engine that was better suited to larger models.

Early cars were underdeveloped, leading to a reputation for below-par build quality the Allegro would never shift, even though the Allegro 2 of 1975 was far better.

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