Article > Tech

Advances in In-Car Automotive Electronics

By Larry Carley

Fifty years ago, the only in-car electronics available to most motorists was a radio. How things change!
Fifty years ago, the only in-car electronics available to most motorists was a radio. In the 1950s and 1960s, radios were an option. They mostly used vacuum tubes rather than transistors, and provided crackly, low-quality music that was affected by weather, power lines and obstructions. When FM radio was introduced in 1952, the static went away, making it the choice for music broadcasting. So the hot audio setup when classic Mustangs, Camaros and GTOs were prowling the street was a combination AM/FM radio with a fade control for front and rear speakers. It seems very primitive by today’s standards.

Over the years, music broadcasting gradually migrated to FM radio because of its better signal quality. That left AM radio as the main domain for talk radio, news and sports. The limitation with radio is that somebody else chooses the music you listen to. You can change channels if you don’t like a song. But if you can’t find something else you like, your only other option is to flip the radio off — or suffer along and hope something better comes out of the speakers soon.

In 1965, automotive in-car electronics and personal choice both took a giant step forward with the introduction of 8-track players. Instead of having to listen to Top 40 tunes played by a DJ and constantly interrupted by talk and commercials, motorists could now buy songs recor­ded by their favorite musicians on 8-track cassettes and play those cassettes in their vehicles. It was a revolutionary concept and a dream come true — until the 8-track tapes jammed or broke.
The 8-track heyday didn’t last very long because they were soon replaced by cassette decks. Today, the only place you’ll find 8-tracks is at vintage car swap meets or on eBay.

The cassette decks that appeared in the 1970s were considered better than 8-tracks because they were smaller (so you could cram more of them into the glove box), held more tunes (thanks to recording on both sides of the tape), and you could even make your own by recording music off of albums (remember those?) or the radio. The only drawbacks were you couldn’t jump from one song to the next as easily as with an 8-track, you had to manually flip the cassette over to hear the other side when it reached the end of the tape, the tape could still jam or break, and dirty or worn rollers inside the player could make the music warble or drag. Other than that, they were great.

Cassettes continued as the predominant automotive audio medium through the 1980s and into the 1990s. Technical improvements included the ability to seek the next song on a tape and automatic reversing when the tape reached the end. 

The next big innovation was to get rid of tapes altogether and listen to music digitally recorded on compact discs. CDs could hold as many songs as a cassette, you could quickly jump from one song to the next with the press of a button, and there was nothing to flip over, stick or break. You just had to be careful not to scratch the soft plastic surface of the CD, otherwise it would skip or refuse to play at all.

As audio disc technology evolved, CD players were developed that could hold more than one CD at a time. This eliminated the need to eject and change CDs on long road trips. Graphic displays and colorful illumination were also added to CD players to snazz up the player interface. And as time went on, CD players gradually replaced cassette players. They have been the dominant media for automotive audio for the last decade. 

In the 1990s, a music compression technology called MP3 turned the music industry on its ear. MP3 software allowed people to “rip” tracks from CDs and compress songs into compact digital files. With the help of a CD burner in a home computer, you could burn up to 100 songs or more onto a CD that formerly could hold only 12 to 16 songs. It wasn’t long before automotive CD players that could read and play MP3 formats as well as traditional WAV music formats became available.

Initially, the MP3 phenomenon nearly destroyed the music industry by undermining its lucrative sales of audio CDs. Why buy their overpriced CDs if you could download all your favorite tunes for free from the Internet? Eventually, the music industry went after those who were involved in file sharing and downloading illegally copied music by suing their pants off. The music industry then discovered they could make just as much money as before and probably more by offering paid music downloads. File copy protection mechanisms were put in place, and a whole new industry took off like a wildfire.

MP3 also helped revolutionize the way music is stored and played by allowing files to be loaded onto a whole new generation of compact flash memory cards. The tunes could then be played back on small inexpensive portable MP3 players or even cell phones.

It wasn’t long before auto makers began offering audio systems such as Ford’s SYNC that allowed motorists to play their favorite MP3 tunes directly through their car’s audio system from Bluetooth enabled or plug-in MP3 players and cell phones. Today, “connectivity” has become an important feature that many new car buyers want.
Thanks to MP3 and smartphone interconnectivity, audio CDs will soon join the ranks of other obsolete automotive audio electronics.


In-car electronics is not just music and infotainment anymore. Electronics can also help drivers reach their destinations more easily, and with less risk of having a mishap along the way. Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation, whether original equipment or aftermarket add-on, has revolutionized the way many people drive.

Real men never stop and ask for directions. Why should they if they can find where they are and where they are going with an in-car nav system? The cost of the technology has come down to where almost anybody can afford it. So if you can’t afford the overpriced factory navigation system, you can spend a couple hundred bucks on a portable aftermarket GPS unit and stick it on top of your dash or attach it to the windshield.

Factory GPS systems were first offered in the 1990s, and are now offered on a wide range of makes and models. GPS uses ultra-high frequency (UHF) radio signals from satellites orbiting the earth to triangulate the vehicle’s position. The location is then displayed on an electronic map using data stored on a CD, DVD or magnetic flash memory in the unit. Accuracy is typically 15 meters (49 feet) or less.

GPS not only keeps drivers from getting lost, it also helps you find all kinds of destinations. Many systems also offer real time traffic assistance. Touch screens are giving way to voice recognition software that accepts voice commands for hands-free inputs.

The ultimate driving assistance program is currently OnStar, which not only provides GPS navigation but also all kinds of emergency assistance.

OnStar will even summon an ambulance if it detects an air bag deployment. The system has also been used to disable stolen vehicles to avoid the dangers of a high speed police chase. 

Rear-facing DVD players that help entertain and quiet children during long trips have been a Godsend for many parents, making these devices a popular option in many late model minivans and SUVs.

Up-front, driver message centers have been integrated with navigation systems, audio systems, climate control systems, backup cameras, parking assist systems and hands-free cell phones via a single LCD display interface. Some have touchscreens while others rely on a console-mounted “smart” switch that functions like a computer mouse to make inputs. Look for this technology to spread from high-end luxury vehicles to mid-range and eventually even economy models.

Rain, snow and fog can all severely restrict nighttime visibility by causing light to reflect back into the eyes of the driver. What’s more, objects that do not reflect light well such as pedestrians in dark clothing, or animals with dark fur can be difficult to see even with good lighting, especially at higher speeds where more reaction time may be needed to avoid a collision. That’s where night vision capabilities come in handy.

According to most accident statistics, more than twice as many accidents and fatalities occur after dark rather than during daylight hours. Part of this is due to sleepy or impaired drivers, but part is also due to the reduced visibility that occurs after the sun goes down. Any technology that improves night driving visibility, therefore, improves driving safety.
The technology is a spinoff of night vision goggles developed for the military. First-generation night vision goggles relied on light amplification electronics to make dimly lit terrain appear much brighter. The limitation with light amplification technology is that it doesn’t work in total darkness.

Thermal imaging that sees heat (infrared light) has no such limitation. It can see objects in total darkness. Anything that gives off heat (people, animals, trees, cars) can be easily seen at night with a Far Infrared (FIR) thermal camera. What’s more, the view is affected less by fog and rain than technologies that rely on reflected light for night vision. FIR night vision cameras can see up to 400 meters (more than 1,300 feet) down the road, which is well beyond the range of most headlight systems. FIR night vision systems are often called “passive” night vision because they do not require any additional lighting to illuminate objects.

The main drawback with FIR night vision technology is that it’s expensive. Such systems typically add up to $2,200 or more to the cost of the options on a new vehicle.

Cadillac was the first to offer night vision as a factory option back in 2000. The Raytheon system had a grille-mounted camera and a heads-up display that produced a ghostly black and white image. GM dropped the option in 2004 due to poor sales. But in 2004, Honda reintroduced the night vision concept on the Legend with a system called Intelligent Night Vision that added an audible and visual warning when it detected a pedestrian in the road ahead.

Some additional import applications with FIR passive night vision systems include 2005 BMW 7-Series and 2006 BMW 5-Series. The night vision images produced by the BMW system are viewed on the navigation screen.

A less-expensive alternative to FIR night vision technology is that which uses a Near Infrared (NIR) camera. NIR systems are sometimes called “active” night vision systems because they rely on infrared illumination from the headlights. Next-generation NIR systems may use low power infrared lasers for illumination. NIR night vision systems don’t have the range of FIR night vision systems (150 to 200 meters versus 400 meters for FIR), but they cost only a few hundred dollars versus several thousand dollars. They also tend to produce a more realistic image displays that reveal details not detected by FIR systems (such as the edges of the road and the lines painted on the highway).

Some import vehicles with optional active night vision systems include 2002-2007 Lexus LX 470, 2002 Toyota Land Cruiser, 2005 Mercedes S-Class, 2006 Mercedes CL-Class, and 2009 Mercedes E-Class. 

Lane Departure Warning (LDW) systems are designed to reduce the risk of distracted, impaired or sleepy drivers from running off the road or drifting out of their lane and into other vehicles or obstacles. A lane departure warning system typically uses a camera and optical recognition software to identify where a vehicle is with respect to its traffic lane on a highway. The camera is usually mounted high in the windshield behind the rear view mirror so it can scan the road ahead. The software looks for lines that indicate the side of the road and/or the painted center line or lane markings on the road. It then monitors where the vehicle is with respect to the edge of the road and/or lane markings, and warns the driver if the vehicle deviates from its intended course.

If the vehicle starts to wander or drift to one side or the other, or the vehicle changes lanes without the driver using the turn signal indicator, it sounds an audible and visual warning. Until you get used to this feature, it can be rather annoying. But the intention is to make people better drivers.

Cars that can actually steer and drive themselves are still in the R&D phase a this point in time, though the technology is not that far off. Autonomous vehicles have already proven themselves of being capable of successfully navigation both on and off-road obstacle courses. For now, adaptive cruise controls that use radar distance sensors to maintain vehicle spacing as well as speed is as close as car makers are to cars that drive themselves.

The newest innovation in safety is collision mitigation braking. With this technology, sensors and cameras detect obstacles in the road ahead. If the driver fails to react to an approaching obstacle, the system gives an audible and visual warning to alert the driver. If the driver still does not react (because he or she is too busy text messaging on their cell phone, or is intoxicated or is asleep at the wheel), the system takes over and automatically applies the brakes to slow the vehicle. Such systems have been offered on the 2006 Acura RL, and the 2007 and up Mercedes S-Class and CLS-Class models, which Mercedes calls “PRE-SAFE” braking. For 2009, Mercedes also offers it on their E-Class models.

These first generation systems do not stop the vehicle completely, but next generation systems do. The 2010 Volvo XC60 has a system that will bring the vehicle to a complete halt at speeds up to about 10 mph. Called “City Safety” braking, it uses an infrared laser camera mounted behind the windshield to monitor the road ahead. The same camera is also used for adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.

Eventually, more and more vehicles will be equipped with some type of automatic braking, and eventually with systems that may even take over steering control to prevent an accident. And someday, we’ll be able to get in a car, tell it where we want to go, then sit back and enjoy a movie or surf the internet while we travel from A to B. Hopefully, such systems will have redundant backups and failsafes — just like the backseat drivers we have today who keep us on the ball.
  Previous Comments
avatar   Confused   star   5/29/2010   9:21 PM

Hmmm... I think some technology to require relevance in comments would be at the very least, mildy useful here, were it at all successful in its attempts. I enjoy sifting through the comments to find some that are given that are relevant and with some insight into the conversation. However interesting the useless ones may be, the comments with relevance should take precedence to the useless ones, countermen bickering like children, I guess maybe if you spent a little more time with your customers instead of playing on here arguing with each other you might have interesting stories or information to bring to the table. Plenty of these technological advances have significant possibilities to save lives, thus they are given the label "advances." Auto manufacturers are only creating these "advances" due to the fact that the american public has created the need for them. Our society has taught itself that these things like cell phones and make-up are acceptable for use in the drivers seat. Parents should take a stronger role in teaching their children that things like this aren't acceptable when they are operating a two ton wrecking ball. The car manufacturers are simply capitolizing on a need the public has so repeatedly provided evidence of.

avatar   Gilbert G.   star   4/9/2010   11:02 PM

I love the old style 8track, tape, but cd player along with mp3 and flash drives is the only way to go. keep the old school, old school and the new school, new!

avatar   The Internet!   star   4/4/2010   1:46 PM

Ahh, Counterman, fufilling my need for a good old fashioned flame war while I'm here stuck at work. Thanks!

avatar   Chris   star   3/28/2010   3:56 PM

What you said there reminds me of many years ago when my truck broke down and I had to borrow my uncle's car to get a fuel pump. He asked me if I'd be embarrassed to be seen driving an old man's car(it's a Grand Marquis). I said no, I'd just drive in the left lane with the left blinker on to throw off my friends.

avatar   BIG BLAKE   star   3/26/2010   3:14 PM


avatar   Chris   star   3/10/2010   9:44 PM

Better yet, a cellphone jammer that powers up automatically when the car is started, preventing their use while the vehicle is in use.

avatar   Ed   star   3/9/2010   2:35 PM

Or an electrical pulse for those who change lanes without signaling!

avatar   jamie oreilly1   star   3/6/2010   11:53 PM

i am waiting on the sleepy driver warning to be installed in the newer cars that is worth having if you start to nodd or eyes fade a warning buzzer or electrical pulse will go off! it would help me!

avatar   Negrodamus   star   3/4/2010   7:26 PM

No robots, damn AI is not good, hasn't anyone seen terminator?

avatar   Seth p   star   2/25/2010   12:43 PM


avatar   wild will   star   2/23/2010   11:34 AM

i just have to say iam a man of standard living like back in the 30s woman are plan food was plan an everything was easy if a man mad you mad you just shot him dowm like a dog know you have electronics and its not plan

avatar   Jimin Von Long Dong   star   2/17/2010   8:45 PM

So next thing you now the chip in my arm will drive my car. Flippin sweet, onward we march into the white light. Socialism or Death.

avatar   Ed   star   2/11/2010   7:43 PM

I wonder if people were this scared when cruise control was first introduced? I know they were when ABS first hit the scene.

avatar   joe   star   2/11/2010   6:07 PM

Be Nice

avatar   Thomas Slocum   star   2/11/2010   3:37 PM

Gone are the days of actually driving a car. Interesting safety fetures for sure but at what cost?

avatar   RWHITLEY3   star   2/10/2010   2:02 PM


avatar   Jeremy Clarkson   star   2/7/2010   9:02 PM

Some say that his heart ticks like a watch, and that he's confused by stairs... all we know is, he's called the Stig.

avatar   Martin Luther King SR III JR   star   2/7/2010   2:57 PM

Obama will rid the globe of methamphetamine. For real. I nose I is right. If ya don't believe me just ax me. Now Ima get in da hot tub. Tootles.

avatar   Chris   star   2/5/2010   9:48 PM

We countermen are a crusty, grizzled lot. It's no surprise some expletives slip out now and then. ;)

avatar   Snoogums   star   2/5/2010   8:24 PM

Wow potty mouths....

avatar   Dr. Evil   star   1/31/2010   2:24 PM

Is it so hard to get cars with friggin' laser beams on them?

avatar   Chris   star   1/29/2010   4:40 PM

You better believe it. :) Anyway, infrared is a pretty neat technology. I wager that we'll soon see the day when you can buy a DIY kit in a parts store that installs on your bumper or something and runs to a screen inside your car.

avatar   wally5star   star   1/29/2010   3:42 PM

I still can't believe it's not butter!!!

avatar   Scott L.   star   1/28/2010   3:08 PM

I rem the 60's. "FIR night vision"? Its "FLIR". Foward Looking Infrared night vision. I do rem the 1953 Chevy my father kept unti i was 6. I rem the static that was the AM radio. "FLIR" has been around since about 1950. That was "first generation". Developed for the military during the Korean conflict.

avatar   572 Dont Play   star   1/25/2010   5:22 PM

arguing like a bunch of pre pubecent girls. I love it continue.

avatar   408_KING   star   1/22/2010   10:02 PM

wtf! is this middle school? f@#$n immature people

avatar   F. Gump   star   1/22/2010   8:55 AM

Stupid is as stupid does. That's all I got to say 'bout that.

avatar   HAMMER   star   1/21/2010   8:42 PM

Not another buzz convert we have plenty of they running around already maybe mr fusion can help you get back to the warped reality future that you come from mcfly and please stay there we dont need that kind of stupid here

avatar   Marty McFly   star   1/20/2010   8:21 AM

I've seen the future and I can tell you, Hammer Time is over. Trust me, no come back for that has been. "HAMMER DON'T HURT ME" I'm just the messenger. Stick to shooting off your mouth. Maybe you could become Fla-va-Flayeee's sidekick, BOYEEEE!

avatar   dixie normous   star   1/19/2010   9:29 PM


avatar   Toadstool   star   1/14/2010   4:06 PM

I'm sorry, Buzz, but the punchline is in another castle.

avatar   hammer   star   1/14/2010   2:46 PM

i would play with you more but i have a job to do and you are not at my level

avatar   Buzz Killington   star   1/14/2010   2:30 PM

Is "Hammer" your grown up name? Just wondering. I figured with a name like "Hammer", there's no way you would have a confidence issue.

avatar   Tom P   star   1/14/2010   2:11 PM


avatar   hammer   star   1/14/2010   2:02 PM

buzz not going to stoop to your level you have a cofidence issue because acting like my 3 year old is your way of building it up

avatar   hammer   star   1/14/2010   12:55 PM

rubber women fuel pumps and a narssisist and thinks hes the center of the universe i thought this was a forum on the technology youre getting in cars these days

avatar   Chris   star   1/12/2010   4:03 PM

This is true about the 1/4 tank thing, but it's not the only determining factor in the lifetime of a fuel pump. The 454 you were running had a much higher-pressure fuel pump than did the 350, due to the motor's size and the fact that it ran MPFI instead of SFI. A lot of the bad Chevy pumps I get are bone-white, and when I hook them up, I get either nothing, or very little action from them.

avatar   Gabe   star   1/12/2010   3:03 PM

So Ed what your saying is!? Chevy fuel pumps still suck! Again can't tell you how many times I run my Honda low! Still doesn't burn out.

avatar   Ed   star   1/12/2010   10:28 AM

At one point I owned a 1998 K3500 4x4 with a 454, at 178,000 miles it still had it's original fuel pump. Why? Well for one I don't constantly run the tank below 1/4 and if I ever had to replace the fuel pump, I would clean the tank, which is what you should recommend, nay require, anytime someone brings you a brown fuel pump assembly. Below 1/4 tank, the fuel pump is exposed, which makes the pump run hot, and the strainer is sucking from the very bottom of the tank where all the trash and sediment has settled to. This makes for a deadly combo. As for the alternators, BMW figured it out 20+ years ago, anything over 100 amps needs more cooling than an alternator fan can supply. BMW directs air from the air intake system into the alternator. Now for those that have been doing this for sometime, how many BMW alternators have you sold versus GM?

avatar   AUTOWORLD   star   1/11/2010   6:20 PM


avatar   cskb   star   1/11/2010   5:05 PM

now, all we need is for automatic jamming systems, to make it so people can't text anymore while in a car.

avatar   Doc Brown   star   1/11/2010   4:07 PM

Golly Wally, didn't know we had the spell check police here. We must all be more alert. Also could be that if we had stayed in school, we wouldn'n be selling auto parts. Go hang out with Eddie, loser.

avatar   Gabe   star   1/11/2010   3:55 PM

Thank you Chris for saying what I have a hard time saying! By the way Doc Brown everyone knows flux capacitors are so behind the times. Try using a beryllium plasma field generator coupled to an unobtainium rubbertallic coated ion flux core. That should be more reliable.

avatar   Chris   star   1/11/2010   3:41 PM

Anyway...back on topic. On the surface, a lot of these technology advancements are extraordinary. They could really save lives in the future. At this point, however, and Gabe pointed it out, they need to fix the most basic mechanical problems first. A fuel pump is not supposed to be going out at 20,000 miles. Alternators are not supposed to go out at 30,000. Starters should not be replaced every year. Relays and electronics should not have hiccups when you crank up the a/c and radio at the same time. Forget about the fancy bells and whistles and fix the cars first!

avatar   wally5star   star   1/11/2010   12:51 PM

learn how to spell doc brown. it;s mr. "fusion" not "fussion"

avatar   Doc Brown   star   1/11/2010   8:52 AM

GREAT SCOTT! No one has traveled further into the future than Marty and I, well , and that dog. We did it in a 1985 Delorean. Gull wing doors? CHECK! FLUX CAPACITOR? CHECK! Mr. Fussion? CHECK! Screw you guys and your BLACK BOX talk. Just give me a little weapons grade Uranium and we're good to go...BACK TO THE FUTURE!!!

avatar   O'reilly O'really   star   1/9/2010   10:17 PM

the technology of the future will be insane, for the good and the bad. its decent that they are exploring to figure out what will give the driver the best and safest ride possible.

avatar   scott l.   star   1/9/2010   3:07 PM

amazing stuff, New techno car add ons. When the James Bond options come?

avatar   NICE GABE   star   1/9/2010   2:49 PM

same here gabe xD i have a 90 civic hatch back still has oem parts except tune up parts. 204xxx miles

avatar   Bob the Builder   star   1/8/2010   9:29 PM

Lol internet fighting is great.

avatar   will   star   1/8/2010   3:54 PM

Tom, you have to contact the builder of the truck. Pierce and Seagrave use a specific company (Mega Factories did a show). They are expensive from what was said. Several thousand dollars of safety inovations in the cab compartment. The seats lower during a collision or roll-over, tires that won't blow off a wheel, side curtain airbags throughout the cab,etc...

avatar   Gabe   star   1/8/2010   3:09 PM

When I made my comments about old vs new. I didn't mean crash test wise. I saw the same video, was shocked at how well the new car performed. But they are getting carried away with in car electronics. But then again they are getting carried away with cell phones! Everyone go buy the Droid! It says Droid! in a robot voice! If they can make in car electronics so good. Why can't they make a chevy pick-up fuel pump that doesn't go bad? Because it sure seems like they go bad alot more than other fuel pumps. Or why can't the big three make better alternators, starters? I have a 91 civic 198,000 miles I beat the crap out of it! Redline it drop it in gear. Why? Because it can take it! It still has original alternator, original starter, and guess what original fuel pump!

avatar   Tom P   star   1/8/2010   1:48 PM

Has anyone else had to deal with the onboard monitoring electronics Mo. is requiring on fire trucks now, Im having a heck of a time finding a [BLACK BOX] type recorder that is customized to the specks they need,ie mph seat resrtaints,tire monitoring,braking,g-force,helmet restraint

avatar   Who cares?   star   1/8/2010   12:53 PM

Dang, can't we get along. We're (hopefully) in the parts business together. Anyone see the new "Gullwing" Benz due out this year? NICE

avatar   Back to you Buzz....   star   1/8/2010   12:15 PM

Attitude has nothing to do with it. I didn't cop an attitude when I wrote my comments. I stated a fact regarding the article about electronic advancements and the irelavance of crash test between 2 cars 40+ years apart. Your're quick to judge someone you don't know. Ever heard of job cuts, moving after a divorce, or just looking for a better opportunity with more pay? Guess not! You must be PERFECT.

avatar   Buzz Killington   star   1/8/2010   10:34 AM

Wondering, YOU are way off topic. Everyone here is talking about cars BUT YOU. No one cares that you worked bot sides of the street, counter, as a tech, etc. With your attitude, it's no wonder you can't keep a job. As far as telling Ed he drives a POS, it's a joke. Men joke around, but you probably didn't know that. I don't hear Ed cryin'. He's probably laughing right now because he's got a Lambo sitting in his driveway.

avatar   Wondering...   star   1/8/2010   10:04 AM

Buzz, this is my business and I am an adult. I've been listening to you and everyone else drift away from the topic of electrical advancements for a week. Mind your business or stick to the topic. I've been on both sides of the counter and worked as a tech since I was 18. Quit telling people what they are doing or saying or driving is wrong. You have no right to complain or judge. Go back to sleep!

avatar   BUZZ KILLINGTON   star   1/7/2010   2:37 PM

Hey, Wondering, are you the conversation police? Maybe you should mind your business and quit worrying about what the adults talk about. Ed, it's all clear now. You're in a bad mood because you drive a POS. Sorry Dude.

avatar   Ed   star   1/7/2010   1:04 PM

Buzz, actually I own a 1980 Pontiac Bonneville powered by the last Pontiac V8 ever built, the 301. The only electronic items it has is in its radio and ignition, no power windows, no power locks, no power seats and no cup holders, all of those were luxury options back in 1980, average Joe American held their drinks between their legs, as it should be.

avatar   Wondering why?   star   1/7/2010   12:25 PM

I believe we've gotten off the point of the article somewhat. It was about the electrical advancements I thought. Get back on the topic at hand. Some of us were griping about all that extra electrical b.s. on cars, not crash testing or classic cars versus new. Seriously, get back on track. Discuss it with each other via your e-mail accts at home.

avatar   buzz killington   star   1/7/2010   8:27 AM

I saw that video. The Chevy didn't come out very well. Kinda takes the wind out of your sails when you see the old "they don't make em' like that anymore" car get smashed to smithereens by a tin can with crumple zones. Also a doggone shame to see the chevy get trashed like that. I think Ed liked it. The question I have now is this: Is Ed a pinko commie leftist that hates good ole' americon iron? Come on Ed, inquiring minds want to know.

avatar   Ed   star   1/6/2010   8:28 PM

Dan, it was a 59 Impala crashed into a 2009 Impala. The cheaply made car of plastic came out the survivor, little injury to the crash test dummy, while the dummy in the 59 nearly got decapitated. So much for "real metal" cars being safer.

avatar   Dan   star   1/6/2010   6:15 PM

Guys, I too hate the fact that you can't tell a Honda from a Chevy, but, when it comes to lighter metal and plastic content you have to blame the federal government and their CAFE fuel economy standards. As far as safety, I recently read an article where they crash tested a 59 Chevy in comparison to a new car with "crumple zones": the Chevy failed miserably.

avatar   Randy   star   1/6/2010   5:32 PM

I'm with Gabe on this one everything that they are producing these days looks like crap there all little boxes of tin that if you hit someone in you might as well use the standard response for a airplane crash bend over and kiss your butt goodbye I want to see style again whatever happened to big beefy V-8s and metal i want metal again not plastic

avatar   Tom P   star   1/6/2010   3:21 PM

Your right Gabe,cars and their designs we're distinct back then.Almost every year there were at least suttle changes so we could tell a 72 camaro from a 73. And don't let Ed tick you off, he talk's to everybody like that on this site.guess there has to be one in every crowd.

avatar   Gabe   star   1/5/2010   5:16 PM

Ed I don't remember the 50's,60's, or 70's My earliest memory was the gas crisis and waiting in line for gas when I was 1 1/2 years old. So the beetle was the best selling car. Doesn't change the fact that auto manufacturers make crap. My Mom, and her fiancee own a '64 Chevelle, '59 Impala convertible, '37 Ford Coupe, and a '59 T-bird (which by the way is the ugliest car I have ever seen, but not after they finish their custom project)But these cars were real. The had thick metal, stainless steel trim, some had metal inserts in the dash with bowties stamped in them like a mesh grill. That was real art, something that would last. Yet they turned them out every year. I am just sick of auto manufacturers creating crap, acting like it is the best ever. Like the new Chev commercials they finally have cars that can get as good gas mileage as a Honda! WHOOP DEE DOO! It's about time! And Honda will make their new cars to still beat those Chev's! The American car companies put us on the map, with their great cars. The

avatar   Ed   star   1/5/2010   9:57 AM

Gabe, obviously you don't remember the 50s and 60s and 70s then. On sales alone from that era, what was the most popular passenger car? The VW Beetle, and how many design changes did they make in 30 years of production? Zero. In fact this was their advertising campaign, "How to make a 54 look like a 64" and the clay model, "We don't have to start from scratch every year". It sold because it was cheap, economical and PRACTICAL in the fact it never changed, save for a few mechanical changes every few years. This was a timeframe in which people had to save money to survive, they couldn't just run to the local title loan office or bank and get a few thousand dollars to blow.

avatar   punctuation guy   star   1/4/2010   6:54 PM

dont you hate that no one ever uses correct punctuation and there sentences run on and on forever with no sign of stopping its like you dont know where one sentence ends and the other begins i think that people should spend more time learining punctuation and sentence structure and less time commenting on these boards

avatar   Gabe   star   1/4/2010   3:32 PM

Better yet why not make cars with style again. The old cars at least changed every year. Had great body lines, and used good materials. But then again they can't do that, because they have to retool, and reprogram robots! Funny how they pulled it off in the 40s,50,60,& 70's Maybe because they didn't have to reprogram robots, but instead retrain people.

avatar   Gabe   star   1/3/2010   2:22 PM

I agree I think manufacturers spend too much time mkaing the wrong things better. Like power fold in mirrors? A car that parallel parks itself, 8 speed transmission. How about some kind of heated road, to prevent accidents on icy snow covered roads? Get back to basics with the mechanical aspect. Make them the best you can. Then you worry about a rear view mirror that puts your wife's make up on for her.

avatar   bob   star   1/3/2010   1:07 PM

I agree with Jimmy. They need to perfect what we have before we start moving on to new things.

avatar   jimmy   star   1/2/2010   6:06 PM

More advances in cars just means more money a more problems just leave things alone Just make the car get better gas

avatar   Wolfe   star   1/1/2010   9:11 AM

I am waiting for them to set up a virtual display system that will put the navigation system on the windshield. The technology exists already, but no one seems to think it is useful. And I am not talking about the entire windshield being a screen, I am talking about the projectors that will display everything so if there is an issue with it, you can cover it up and not be affected while driving. They can use a retinal scanner in the mirror to make sure the display is adjusted to the drivers current head position. Although this is all next gen stuff that the government is not using yet, so we will never see it in our lifetime.

avatar   edwin   star   12/31/2009   9:56 AM

i remember my first experience with c.a.n. systems and thier intergration with every electronic aspect of the modern vehicle. the age of the mechanic has been alterd into the age of the technician which is educated with analytical skills in electronics and mechanics. just like a docto, the fields are getting specialized and the education is more detailed. remember when you could adjust points with a matchbook?

avatar   Chris   star   12/30/2009   3:35 PM

All the new advances in technology notwithstanding, I can't ignore the fact that a good 80% of customers' problems I get come from vehicles newer than 2000. I briefly owned a 2004 Silverado and ended up selling it to buy a 1994 suburban. With the exception of the water pump, I've not had any major problems from it.

avatar   idc   star   12/29/2009   7:28 PM

stop arguing... can't we all just get along... xD

avatar   Will   star   12/29/2009   9:39 AM

Ed, I'm glad Land Rover designed their DVD/NAV that way. Most people I know can't afford one anyway. I still see it as a potential distraction. The passenger may hoop & holler about a scene the driver "has to see right now". Put a GPS/NAV like TOMTOM in the corner of the windshield and play the DVD behind the driver area through headphones only!

avatar   hammer   star   12/28/2009   7:54 PM

with the advancements in auto electronics its harder and harder everyday for the common man to wrench on his car or trucks you have to take it to the dealer just to get the oil changed i will not buy anything with obd2

avatar   Ed   star   12/28/2009   6:49 PM

Will, Land Rover actually has a very neat DVD/NAV setup, two images displayed simultaneously, but projected at opposite angles. So the passenger can watch a DVD movie and all the driver can see is the navigation screen.

avatar   Will   star   12/28/2009   3:20 PM

How about a sensor that; when the key is inserted, automatically disables Bluetooth equipment, radio, vanity mirror access, DVD\NAV units and makes you actually DRIVE. No warning systems whatsoever(except engine)that makes you responsible for whatever you do. You shouldn't have to have all this stuff do what most of learned 10 years or longer ago!

avatar   Ed   star   12/28/2009   2:54 PM

Actually I think the "Lane Departure Warning" system is probably the greatest advancement in the last 10 years, but it needs further tweaking in the form of metal contacts in the steering wheel that will deliver a "minor" jolt everytime he or she does not use their turn signals when changing lanes.

avatar   the innkeeper   star   12/28/2009   12:59 PM

joseph, they're looking for you at the manger. somebody spilled some frakensense. Also, Tiny Tim called, he wants his line back.

avatar   Will   star   12/28/2009   11:58 AM

Jay, I have a 1997 Cherokee 4.0/manual everything including transmission. My wife has a 2006 Durango power everything. No problems with mine. Hers: Wind noise that a 2004 Recall fixed. Lucky me! When it gives me a major issue, I'll probably cry. Wish I still had my 1975 Chevy C-10 or 1974 Plymouth Duster :) Never had much to go wrong with my old school stuff!

avatar   WILL   star   12/28/2009   9:11 AM

Dan they make those nice catch bags. They are required in most cities. You dump it out and now you can make fertilizer to grow a garden. My point is that there is to much junk being designed for cars. Don't rely on a system to do what you were tested on to get your operator license in the first place. What happens when the BCM or ECM goes crazy? Now Mr. "I'm Rich" can't park his Lexus. Oh no, the car won't stop itself because your collision mitigation system went haywire and you're following to close! Use the pedal in the middle of the floorboard, that's why it's there.

avatar   Jay F   star   12/27/2009   1:54 PM

"Cars today are more full of crap than an outhouse" thats brilliant Will. That has to be my favorite desciption I have seen yet. I will stay with my older cars/trucks as well. In my case my two 89' jeep Cherokee's with a 4.0 w/4x4 that has just enough computer(Renix system which is pre-obd1) to make the jeep run. No electric anything all manual. Technolog in vehicles, in my opinion, can take a back seat along with the lazzyness it produces. Come on "lane depature warnings", "collision mitigation braking". Come on put down the shaver, the eye liner, the hair brush, THE PHONE, put the mirror back up, ect, and drive.

avatar   joseph   star   12/24/2009   9:10 AM

merry christmas too all and to all a goodnight

avatar   Dan   star   12/23/2009   4:52 PM

Will: "cars today are more full of crap than an outhouse" "4.5 million cars on the road" imagine how full of crap the streets would be if we went back to the horse and buggy!!! I'll keep my Acura and park it myself.

avatar   jeremy v   star   12/22/2009   8:47 PM

why bother about driving anymore you can pay your bills at home shop work whats the point anymore my tv is smarter than most computers from the 80s

avatar   will   star   12/21/2009   2:17 PM

Appx 4.5 million cars on the road today and rising. Let's go back to horse and buggy. Potential for a lot less accidents! Cars today are more full of crap than an outhouse. Why do you need "self parking"? Can't you park a vehicle yourself? All the bells and whistles should pour your coffee, apply make-up, or shave your face as you drive. Let's colaborate on an autopilot feature and patent it and make billions off the rich who can afford such extravagant crap that only dealers will be able to service.

avatar   Bill   star   12/21/2009   12:02 PM

Grow up, children.

avatar   Chris   star   12/19/2009   6:59 PM

Hey, hey. Proper countermen don't go for that sort of thing!

avatar   Stuart Little   star   12/16/2009   1:49 PM

Hey buzz, good stuff. You, Ed and I should hook up for a little spoonin' over X-MAS break

avatar   Ed   star   12/15/2009   7:00 PM

Elliot, that technology could be available tomorrow. High end cars, such as Porsche, Mercedes and BMW have slots in the dash for loading the SIM card out of your phone. Just simply modify it to disallow calls and texts while the vehicle is in motion.

avatar   Elliott   star   12/15/2009   3:34 PM

Here's some technology that should be used, how about a system that blocks all incoming and outgoing cell phone signals when the vehicle is in motion!

avatar   Ed   star   12/15/2009   1:56 PM

Danny, that is because 50 years ago, stopping distance from 60 MPH was about twice of that of today. If you didn't plan your stop from a block back in your 4-wheel drum Ford Galaxie, you weren't going to make that next stop sign. Actually, driver's distractions have gotten less over the years, we evolved from rotary knob radios and spending 10 seconds while driving at 60 MPH trying to catch the AM or FM needle right on the dial. A/C is no longer a series of slider knobs, but rather a few buttons, some mounted on the steering wheel. And also on the steering wheel, shifter paddles.

avatar   Jody   star   12/15/2009   1:31 PM

Technology is a great thing. It makes our lives easier. Don't forget 50 years ago, we had alot less cars on the road. I'm sure with a little research, we could get an idea of the number of cars on the road today, vs. the number back when. I think we have more accidents now because the large number of cars driven daily. The inovations used today will help, as more vehicles are put on the road.....the technology that you say is not needed, may one day save you or a loved ones life.

avatar   WG   star   12/14/2009   7:11 PM

I agree with Danny. If people would get out of their own little world and realize they are NOT the only one on the road, there would be alot less accidents. There would be alot less road rage because someone is in the passing lane driving 10 miles an hour under the speed limit talking or texting on the phone. Car makers would have more time to spend on making more efficeint cars and less time making cars that take the responsibility of being alert to your surroundings and driver courtesy away from the driver. Am I the only one who sees a problem here?

avatar   Chris   star   12/11/2009   3:35 PM

Not to rain on anyone's parade, but I hate to imagine what would happen if the self-driving system were to malfunction and actually cause a wreck.

avatar   danny   star   12/11/2009   11:24 AM

50 years ago we didn't need this technology , people actually paid attention when they were driving .

avatar   Dan   star   12/10/2009   7:26 PM

I like that lane departure system: finally something that will make drivers follow the law and signal when they change lanes...It amazes me that the feds require turn signals since 1965, yet many new cars just don't seem to have them...

avatar   Lee   star   12/10/2009   12:35 PM

Can you say iRobot?

avatar   Ed   star   12/10/2009   11:43 AM

The new Taurus SHO also offers a similar braking system, utilizing the radar-controlled cruise control system, if it detects the vehicle is approaching another vehicle or object with no signs of slowing down, warning lights will appear on the driver's side of the windshield and pre-charge the brakes for an emergency stop. Considering audio entertainment, you missed an important milestone, I believe it was Cadillac, once offered a record player option long before the days of 8-track.

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