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Custom Parts Might Spoil Auto Stability


Critics in the industry earlier voiced their criticism against custom parts that are allegedly causing some unwanted vehicular incidents. These parts are said to spoil auto stability that further results to vehicle malfunction, accidents and other vehicle problems. This is the reason why several enthusiasts group together and voiced their concern to the federal government. The group urged the latter to ensure that auto add-on auto parts do not spoil car technology.

Millions of vehicles are reported to have malfunctioning electronic stability systems if drivers have customized their vehicles with add-on parts and accessories. This information was divulged by a trade association.

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), a Las Vegas-based group of aftermarket manufacturers, said the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's (NHTSA) proposal to mandate that all vehicles be equipped with the anti-rollover technology could prevent owners from customizing their cars and trucks or make the stability system inoperative. Officials of SEMA and NHTSA met to discuss the matter. The association worries that the rule will not ensure that the safety systems are compatible when other equipment is added before or after a vehicle is sold, said Stephen McDonald, SEMA's vice president of government affairs, in a letter to the NHTSA.

"This situation could translate into millions of cars having ESC systems that do not work properly or motorists being denied the opportunity to install aftermarket equipment on their vehicle," McDonald wrote.

Approximately 40 per cent of vehicles on the road have electronic stability control or ESC. The NHTSA said its proposal to require the technology in all vehicles by the year 2012 could save up to 10,600 lives a year and eliminate 80 per cent of single-vehicle rollovers. It expects to issue a final rule by April. This auto issue emerges as the vehicle stability control is becoming more and more popular among consumers. Nowadays, there are even established businesses engaged in customizing vehicles. The said business in not only creating a big wave when, in fact, it is now a remarkable and stable phenomenon. Customizing Volvo accessories may just be treated as a piece of cake by the customization experts.

According to the SEMA, Americans spend about billion annually on modifying and customizing their vehicles with special tires, wheels, suspension systems and other parts. Rae Tyson, NHTSA spokesman, added that the administration is reviewing said auto concerns. "We take any comment to a proposed rulemaking seriously and we'll certainly take it into account," Tyson noted.

One big issue about customization is whether to activate the ESC warning light on the dashboard. "The last thing dealers want is dissatisfied customers running in with the warning light on," said Doug Greehaus, director, of environment, health and safety for the National Automobile Dealers Association. Greehaus participated in the mentioned meeting.

Based on the federal agency's summary of the January 10th meeting, the NHTSA wants "more evidence this is actually a problem." But if a dealer installed equipment on a new car that made ESC inoperative, the vehicle would not meet safety standards, according to the summary.

McDonald said in an interview that SEMA hopes to report back to the NHTSA about the extent of the problem within 30 days. "The challenge is to convince the agency of the extent of the issue, the types of the equipment, the types of safety concerns," he added. "Some of the equipment that is being installed is indicating a problem. We're not sure how big the problem is or if it can be remedied quickly by a software modification."

Different views regarding the matter are voiced by manufacturers. SEMA suggested equipping ESC systems with "adaptive learning" components that sense if a vehicle has different tires, for instance, and adjusts accordingly. Auburn Hills-based Continental Automotive Systems, which produces about 40 per cent of electronic stability control systems in North America, said it does not consider the issue a major concern.

"If you build your own monster truck, you will very likely get an ESC warning light," said Philis Headley, chief engineer for advanced technologies at Continental. But Headley added "it's hard to predict what people could possibly do to their vehicles and what impact that will have."

Headley said there are only a handful of issues to be decided before a final stability control rule is announced, including whether vehicles have to have ESC when traveling in reverse. At present, ESC systems usually do not work when vehicles are operating in reverse.

Alan Adler, GM spokesman said changing tires "could give you a false ESC indicator on a hard turn. We don't have a system to adapt for those things." GM offers several add-on parts that have been designed to work with its own vehicles.


About the Author: Glady Reign is a 32 year old is a consultant for an automotive firm based in Detroit, Mi. she is a native of the motor city and grew up around cars hence her expertise in the automotive field.




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