Hacking your car

As we move into the “internet of things”–objects and devices connected to the internet–we are learning that those things can be hacked.  This is especially true of late-model automobiles, which are packed with computers and online connections.  Hackers can access your car via OnStar, navigation systems, diagnostic programs, bluetooth connections, etc., etc., whereupon they can unlock your doors, start your engine, turn your steering wheel, and shut off your brakes, among other kinds of havoc.

Craig Timberg has written a fascinating article on how all of this is done and the little that automakers are doing to stop it. [Read more...]

New car fever

You don’t need a new car, said one of the Tappet brothers on Car Talk, until your monthly repair bills exceed what your monthly car payments would be.  I am approaching that point, so I’m researching new cars.  Since you readers express remarkable expertise on just about every topic I raise, I come to you for advice.   My impression is that automobile quality and technology have come a long ways since I last bought a car over a decade ago.  So help me out.  Though I would love one of those autobahn monsters they laud on Top Gear, I need something affordable, though preferably with a little pizzazz in the way of performance, styling, or technology.  Do any of you have a car that you’d recommend or recommend that I stay away from?  What would you consider the best American-made vehicles (whatever that means these days)?  What considerations should I factor in?  And how much should a person offer below the sticker price?

Google invading your car

If you have a newish car, you can already integrate it with your smartphone, answering your cell with a button on your steering wheel and carrying on cellphone conversations through your car’s speakers.  You can even buy “apps” for your car.  But when your car is your phone and your computer, outside entities are getting their hooks into you.  The price of getting information from the web is that the web is getting information on you.

Now Google has announced new initiatives with auto manufacturers, turning cars into Android devices.  This will allow Google–along with its client companies and its government snoopers–to collect all kinds of personal information about the drivers.  Google will be able to place ads– tailor made just for you and your buying weaknesses–right into your car.

Won’t that be a great advance in automotive technology? [Read more...]

Teenagers are losing interest in driving?

You thought it strange that Japanese young adults are losing interest in sex?  How about American teenagers who are losing interest in driving?  Only half of teenagers have a driver’s license by the time they are 18.  Twenty years ago two-thirds did.

After the jump, a report on the phenomenon.  The study cited, sponsored by the automobile industry, blames the economy and expresses the hope that teenagers will want to drive again once the economy improves.  But I’m not sure that’s what the data shows. [Read more...]