Aug
20
2010

A Guide to … Vehicle Stability Control

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Stability Control has been touted as the most important automotive safety device since the seatbelt. Governments in North America, Europe and Australia have plans to make the technology compulsory on all new vehicles because studies have shown it can reduce the likelihood of single-vehicle crashes and prevent roll-overs. It is designed to prevent cars from an unintended skid in a bend. In most cases the technology works without the driver knowing that he or she has had a brush with danger. In essence, Stability Control protects drivers from minor indiscretions, such as when suddenly finding themselves on wet or slippery pavement, or in an unexpectedly tight corner. However, Stability Control does not (and nor does it promise to) over-rule the laws of physics. If you’re travelling way too fast for a corner or for the conditions, you may still run off the road. Stability Control is an extremely worthwhile technology, but it is important to note that some systems are…

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Apr
17
2010
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What is ANCAP and how does it work?

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  They say it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover, but there’s another cliché that should ring true: don’t judge a car by the number of airbags. Almost all new cars on sale in Australia today have airbags but, despite these worthwhile safety features, crash protection varies markedly from model to model. Of course, all cars must meet a minimum crash safety standard set by the Federal Government, but the emphasis there is the word “minimum”. The regulations regarding crash protection have not been revised in more than a decade. This is part of the reason the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) was established. Funded by the motoring clubs and state government authorities in Australia and New Zealand, ANCAP aims to improve vehicle safety by independently testing, assessing and then rating the safety of new cars. The idea was a world first. ANCAP was established in 1992. Euro NCAP, which follows the same procedures and protocols, was…

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Sep
17
2009
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A Guide to… Petrol or Diesel?

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Petrol or diesel? It’s a common question when people look to update their car. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t straightforward. It depends on individual needs – and what sort of impact you want to make on the environment and public health. Typically, diesel engines make more sense in trucks and in vehicles used for towing, because of the pulling power of the engine at low revs. Diesel engines can also deliver better economy, especially on the open road, so they are often well suited to motorists who do a lot of country driving. But in most cases diesel-powered cars cost more to buy than the same car with a petrol engine. On a popular European hatchback, for example, the petrol version is $30,000 and the diesel version is $33,000 – a 10 per cent premium. Will you get that money back in fuel-cost savings? That depends on the price of the fuel and how far you drive each year. The price…

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Sep
02
2009
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They don’t build ’em like they used to… A Guide to Old Car Safety

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They don’t build ’em like they used to. That’s how old cars are generally described. Tough as nails, made of steel. New cars just fall apart in a crash, so the saying goes. But contrary to perception, there is a very good reason new cars deform more readily in a crash: it can save your life. Consider this: when an old car has a front end crash, the structure won’t be crushed as much as a modern car’s would, which means the occupants experience a more sudden rate of deceleration, and potentially more life threatening injuries. The front end of a modern car is designed to collapse in a crash, to help absorb some of the impact. This slows the rate of deceleration on the occupants inside the car and, hopefully, helps prevent life threatening injuries. The dramatic improvement in the crash safety of cars over the past 30 years or more is just one of the reasons young novice…

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Aug
20
2009
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What makes a Hybrid tick and where do we go from here?

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A Guide to … Hybrid Cars… what makes a Hybrid tick and where do we go from here? NRMA offer some insight on this and what we can expect We are witnessing what the industry calls the gradual electrification of the motor car. That is, petrol engines are going to get smaller and electric motors will get bigger as battery technology and public recharge points improve … Until, eventually, the petrol engine can disappear from some city cars altogether. The first stepping stone on this path is the hybrid car. For those who aren’t familiar with how they work it’s simpler than all the tech talk makes it out to be. For starters they don’t need to be plugged in to electricity and, for the time being at least, they are fueled and serviced just like a normal car.  If you opened the bonnet on today’s hybrid car you’d see a petrol engine under the bonnet and an electric motor…

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Aug
07
2009

What can Ethanol and Biodiesel Deliver for Australia today?

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A Guide to … Ethanol and Biodiesel….NRMA unravels some of the mysteries of Ethanol fuel alternatives and changes we’ll see at the Australian Fuel Pump  Ethanol-blended fuel is being touted as an antidote to rising petrol prices and diminishing oil supplies. While it has its merits in some applications it is by no means a magic solution to the car world’s energy woes. Most ethanol produced in Australia is derived from the waste of sugar cane, corn and grain crops. There are also studies underway to try to make ethanol from municipal waste which, if successful, could reduce the amount of landfill. For now though, ethanol is derived from grain based crops. Because of ethanol’s high alcohol content it can be used as a fuel in most modern car engines. In Australia, many petrol stations now offer fuel that is a blend of 10 per cent ethanol and 90 per cent regular unleaded (E10). Indeed, the NSW government has mandated…

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