Tuesday

Carmakers and Their YouTube Channel

The Columbus Dispatch newspaper and ColumbusCars.com published an interesting article last weekend titled Battle of the Brands. They took a weeklong look at the YouTube channels that car makers have set up to see whose looked the best, were easy to use, and got the most viewers.

When it was all over, they declared the Porsche channel to be the "best in show." But as good as it was, the most views went to BMW, which was also the newest car channel on YouTube but had roughly 12 million views. Their BMW Art Car video clip was also one of the two best video clips too and it's no wonder. Some of the top people in art lent their touches to some BMW cars and turned them into remarkable works of art graphically.

Notably, the editors said they were shocked to see how many carmakers paid so little attention to their official presence on the world's most popular video sharing site and one of the most highly trafficked web sites on the internet.

We cruised the carmakers channels and have to agree. A good example of lackluster effort is the 7 and a half minute video of a silver Mercedes going round and round a track, with a few instances of sprinklers and hoses, but not much more. It's just plain boring.

On the other hand, there's the Subaru "Lost Sunglasses" video. But, personally, we think the 2008 Subaru commercial, found here, is the best of the lot. Be sure to watch it to the end, the very end.

Then there is the AutoChannel's 4 funniest car commercials that are just hilarious too.

They can make some funny car commercials and sometimes some good, or bad video too. We don't do that. We get rid of lemon cars. Of course, there's no funny about a lemon car if you get one. When that happens, call us. Getting rid of lemon cars is what we do.

Burdge Law Office
Because life's too short to put up with a bad car.

Sunday

A Bot Named Aida


Every once in awhile we let a guest blog on an interesting topic here. That's the case this week with the following post from Alexis Bonari who writes about an in-car robot in development by MIT and VW. We've added in-blog links to some of the content being discussed by Alexis below.


The world of driving may soon be a far more exciting experience thanks to a personal in-car robot that is currently in development.

The Affective Intelligent Driving Agent (or Aida) will be able to tell you the most efficient route home based on traffic reports, remind you to pick up petrol and suggest places you may want to visit.

The robot, which sits on top of the dashboard, is being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with Volkswagen. Aida communicates with the driver through an expressive robotic screen and will even appear sympathetic if you're having a bad day.

Cynthia Breazeal, director of MIT's Personal Robots Group, said: "We are developing Aida to read the driver's mood from facial expression and other cues and respond in a socially appropriate and informative way."

Aida works by not only keeping track of common routes but also analyzing the driver's destinations and even their mobility patterns.

The creators have said the robot should be able to figure out work and home locations within a single week of driving with it. Soon after, the system will direct the driver to their preferred supermarket, suggesting a route that avoids traffic clogged roads. Aida might even recommend a petrol stop, while on your way to your destination, if the fuel tank is nearly empty.

The robot will also incorporate live information about local traffic jams, the weather report, commercial activity, tourist attractions, and residential areas.

"Aida embodies a new effort to make sense of these great amounts of data, harnessing our personal electronic devices as tools for behavioral support," said Professor Carlo Ratti, director of MIT's SENSEable City Lab.

"In developing Aida we asked ourselves how we could design a system that would offer the same kind of guidance as an informed and friendly companion...Aida can also give you feedback on your driving, helping you achieve more energy efficiency and safer behavior", Assaf Biderman from SENSEable City Lab added.

And over time, the project envisions something of a symbiotic relationship developing between the driver and Aida, wherein both parties learn from one another and will even establish an affective bond.

The project is a product of the collaborative effort between the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab, MIT's SENSEable City Lab and the Volkswagen Group of America's Electronics Research Lab.

About the Author: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at onlinedegrees.org, researching areas of online colleges. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Monday

Ford Escape Transmission Troubles Mount Up

The Ford Escape vehicle model has had its share of troubles and they aren’t letting up. Current defect complaints now focus on the transmission more than any other defect area, with reports of erratic shifting, slipping and hesitation, but they actually go back to at least the 2003 model line.

On top of that, the car's transmission now emits what Ford is calling a "hoot" noise, but then Ford says that's just normal for a Ford Escape. Normal?

NJ attorney Howard Gutman has chronicled some of the Escape complaints for model year 2005, but the 2010 model continues what now seems to be a tradition of transmission trouble.

In an apparent attempt to curb the Escape’s transmission troubles, Ford issued a recall for replacement of the drive chain, among other parts. Owners had reported an abnormal drive train noise but some owners report the recall only decreased the noise but didn’t get rid of it.

Now, Ford is calling it a “normal vehicle characteristic.” One has to wonder if that means Ford got it as good as it can get it and now wants to just call the remaining abnormal noise, “normal.”

Normal to who might be the better question.

Meanwhile, Ford has been busy sending out repair bulletins to its dealers on the “normal” noise and the transmission and other Escape troubles. TSB 9-25-3, TSB 9-18-3, TSB 9-20-3, TSB 9-19-5, TSB 9-15-1, TSB 9-15-5, TSB 9-5-5, TB 21019, Recall 10B15, SSM 21233, are just some of the notices Ford has sent its dealers on the Escape model problems.

Some of these are computer software changes that Ford apparently hoped would salve the bumpy wounds of Escape owners. Others seem to recognize a premature wear is expected of the transmission that may end up with total failure sooner or later.

The Escape transmission model is 6F35 in at least some of the line and that seems to be the model with the most problems, including a suspected premature transmission solenoid regulator vale-bore wear defect. Reports are that part will cause or contribute to a premature wear of the pressure clutch plates and then lead to total transmission failure.

It all ends up with SSM 21233 which Ford sent out to its dealers, saying that the remaining noise is just “normal” for the engine - transmission combination. One dealer advisor blames it on the “poorly constructed and engineered” 2.5L I-4 engine in the Escape, which he says fails to properly distribute its vibrations, resonances and sound harmonics effectively, so it all runs to the transmission and the rest of the vehicle.

Reportedly the engine has more lightweight plastic materials in use and fewer parts constructed of steel or aluminum and that contributes to the Ford Escape troubles. Regardless of the cause, more owners of the defective Escape vehicles are posting their transmission troubles on youtube than ever, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The end result? The Ford Escape’s noise problem may only get louder to its owners. The sad part for many Escape owners is the word from one Ford dealership service manager that “Ford posted a message stating do not attempt to repair” the abnormal noise problem at all. And if Ford tells a dealer not to fix a defect you can bet the dealer won’t try. After all, Ford won’t pay for it and that is the only thing that drives a dealer to try to fix a warranted defect in a new car.

Maybe it’s time for Escape owners to escape from their blue oval brand loyalty?


If you’ve got a lemon Ford Escape, don’t put up with it. And don’t believe for a minute that abnormal is just “normal” in any car, only because the manufacturer decides to call it that. Get a Burdge attorney. Getting rid of lemon Ford cars and Ford lemon trucks is what we do. Everyday.

Friday

Toyota's Troubles Give Freedom to Minnesota Man in Vehicular Homicide Case


Just off the wirepress, from St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper, a Minnesota man's vehicular homicide conviction has been set aside because he was driving a Toyota Camry and the safety doubts about the car were not known at the time his car accelerated in 2006, killing 3 people.

Koua Fong Lee had been sentenced to 8 years but had always said that the car did it on its own and he couldn't control it. Even the mother and grandmother of those who died, said they were happy that Lee would be set free. Lee's runaway Toyota ran into the rear of tan Oldsmobile sedan, killing the three occupants.

On Friday a Ramsey County judge vacated the conviction, saying that Lee had not had the benefit of any of the information about Toyota and its accelerator troubles that had since come to light. The county attorney has said that they will not pursue a new trial.

The family of the victims killed in the crash have since filed suit against Toyota.

Many Toyota observers aren't surprised that Lee was released. Perhaps the only surprise is that the county wisely decided that with all the evidence that has come out, it would be a waste of effort to try to convict the man now.

Sometimes justice takes a while to happen, but it always happens sooner or later. For Lee, that came today. If you've got a lemon Toyota, don't take a chance. Get a Burdge attorney. Getting rid of lemon cars and lemon trucks is what we do. Since 1978.

Burdge Law Office
http://www.burdgelaw.com/
Helping consumers get justice every day.

Tuesday

Toyota Knew of Unintended Acceleration in 2003, Lawsuit Claims


The Washington Post is reporting that the class action case lawyers are saying that they have uncovered internal Toyota documents showing that as far back as 2003 the company knew about the problem of unintended acceleration in Toyota cars.

Apparently there is a 2003 "field report" where a company technician wrote up a case of the problem and requested immediate action because of the "extremely dangerous problem" and also said that "we are also much afraid of frequency of this problem in near future" the new court papers reportedly state.

If true, and apparently it is, then it could be the smoking gun that consumer advocates have suspected must exist.

More and more cases are being consolidated with the California class action meanwhile, including common lemon law claims arising from other defects.

Toyota sales fell slightly, 3.2% in July from a year earlier, reports the Detroit Free Press this afternoon. Their smaller models dropped too, including the Yaris, Corolla and the Prius models.

In other Toyota news, the man convicted of killing 3 people when his Toyota Camry couldn't be stopped in a 2006 crash, is before the court in St. Paul, Minn., arguing in court today that he should get a new trial since all the new evidence has come out about unintended acceleration in his and other Toyota cars.

The man, Koua Fong Lee, is serving an 8 year prison sentence and has always said that he tried to stop his 1996 Camry but the car just wouldn't let him. The prosecutors have argued that the man "hasn't come up with the decisive new evidence" that Minnesota requires for a new trial to be granted. Many observers disagree and the background story on Lee seems to point to an unexplained accident that the jury had no where to go with but to blame Lee when there was nothing to support his explanation of a runaway car.

Toyota's troubles just don't go away either. Since the sticking accelerator recalls that totalled about 9 million vehicles as of January 2010, there have been more recalls announced by Toyota and more lawsuits. Try as it might, Toyota just can't stay out of the headlines and the company's president's apology in February has not had the long-lasting effect that their public relations people had hoped for.

If you've got a lemon Toyota and the company won't take care of you, call or email us. Getting rid of lemons, and getting your money back, is what we do. Everyday.