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Some Smart Cars Are Having a Difficult Time Going Through a Car Wash

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【Summary】According to BestRide.com, an online marketplace for new and used vehicles, some auto-breaking systems “stutter” when encountering carwashes. The company found that some auto-breaking features can’t tell the difference between a wall and the moving components that clean the vehicle.

Michael Cheng    Nov 10, 2016 5:05 PM PT

Today's smart cars are equipped with automatic breaking systems that help weary drivers avoid fatal collisions. Such systems are considered to be one of the core features of self-driving and semi-autonomous vehicles. Their salient role in the future of road safety is essential, as it can also facilitate trust between the driver and the car.

A report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reinforces the application of auto-breaking systems in modern cars. According to the group, it could greatly reduce rear-end collisions by up to 40 percent and lower the level of damage of the accident by up to 30 percent. Based on its ability to save lives, there's no doubt that the feature should be on every car navigating busy, public roads, especially for new drivers, the elderly and visually-impaired individuals.

But what are its limitations (if any)? According to BestRide.com, an online marketplace for new and used vehicles, some auto-breaking systems "stutter" when encountering carwashes.


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The Carwash Dilemma

The company found that some auto-breaking features can't tell the difference between a wall and the moving components that clean the vehicle. An immediate reaction that has been observed by leading carwash establishments is that the cars freeze until the danger has passed. Unfortunately, this causes the vehicle to remain in the enclosed space much longer than it has to, which results in slow-moving, long lines. In the worst case scenario, a car was anticipating a car crash and drove over a set of rails to avoid a potential collision that did not exist in real life. This caused the vehicle to hit another car.

"Collision detection, auto hold braking and other technologies are coming to every car as standard equipment by 2020," said BestRide editor-in-chief Craig Fitzgerald. "Consumers have no idea about the unintended consequences of these technologies on simple, everyday tasks. We want drivers to be informed before they get to the car wash."

 

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The Solution

It is important to consider that car wash systems that utilize a conveyor belt to move the car through the space have no effect on auto-breaking features. Owners of smart cars should watch out for traditional carwash establishments that use autonomous rollers and chains during treatment. The types of vehicles that are prone to this type of malfunction includes the following auto brands: Acura, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, RAM, Range Rover, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota and Volvo.

If your car is affected by this issue, you should turn off the feature before entering the tunnel. For some cars, this is easier said than done. By comparison, if you're using Honda's forward auto-breaking system, the feature automatically deactivates itself when the car is going slower than 10 mph. While other owners may need to manually turn off the system by pressing a button or by navigating through the car's digital menu of operator settings. For an overview of solutions to this issue, BestRide.com released an infographic that shows how to deactivate a smart car's safety system before entering the carwash.

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