You’ve been in a collision – now what?! Accidents happen in 150 milliseconds – that’s 0.15 of a second, but the results can be everlasting. Once a collision has occurred, occupants can be left feeling dazed, confused, and even seriously injured, and with minimal ability to move. Often times, you may not even be aware of where you are in order to call for help.
Manufacturers are realizing what a scary experience accidents can be, and that's how advances such as OnStar came to be. It provides subscription-based features ranging from the convenient hands-free calling, turn-by-turn navigation, stolen vehicle tracking and even remote vehicle diagnostics to the most assuring - Automatic Crash Response. I would personally subscribe to OnStar, and it’s almost like insurance. I hope to never be in a serious collision to need it but if I’m ever in that situation, I would be thankful to have the OnStar service.
We took the opportunity to visit OnStar’s Command Center and learned a bit more about what they do. OnStar receives a notification when your vehicle has been involved in a collision and automatically connects you to trained representatives that possess the same skill sets as a 911-emergency dispatcher. They work with local authorities to get assistance to your location immediately, while providing medical instructions to those in the vehicle. OnStar also has the ability to activate your lights and alarm to signal for help, work with police to locate your vehicle and disengage your vehicle in the event it’s stolen, and even provide diagnostics about your vehicle!
Overlooking Detroit, 522 feet high, we toured the OnStar Command Center, where thousands of calls come through daily. We listened to past calls that showcased the various scenarios that OnStar can assist with, and how a scary situation was resolved with a seamlessly happy ending. In one scenario, a family was travelling down a dark, deserted rural road, hit a patch of ice and skid off the road ending up in a body of water. OnStar was automatically connected and immediately contacted emergency response units. The representative was able to hear the sirens as the ambulance approached the scene, and then hear the sirens pass. The OnStar representative was able to contact them, let them know that they had passed the scene and even sounded the horn and lights of the vehicle to draw their attention. All occupants survived and are OK – but it’s very easy to see how this situation could have ended very differently.
Inside the Command Center, displayed on a giant screen, we were able to see a map that laid out where calls to OnStar were deriving from, and what their purpose was. As you can see, at approximately 1:45pm, more than 72,000 calls had been received!
Collisions are a scary event, but a fact of life that many of us have or may experience at some point. With the ongoing advances of manufacturers like Chevrolet, they are becoming easier to avoid, safer to experience and less scary overall.
Anyone out there remember the old school window crank? It would take FOREVER to get the window up and down. Granted there are still some cars out there with manual windows, and one benefit to them is that they never fail!
Power windows on the other hand are more susceptible to failure. From the motor or regular to the window switches, there are more components that can break in the system. One that you can easily prevent from premature failure is the window switch – especially the front driver window.
The front driver window switch is an important one because it's also considered the master switch. It's responsible for operating all windows and some incorporate lock/unlock, power mirror adjustment, and/or child safety lock functions. That means the master power window switch can be costly to replace. Of all the power window switches in the car, it's the one that is used most often. Lastly, the switch is an electrical component and can easily be damaged if any water gets into in, corroding or ruining the connections.
Having said that, have you ever noticed where most master window switches are located? On the door handle or in the door panel itself. Water can travel along the switch and if it doesn't have a good seal or there's excessive water then the window switch is prone to fail. Keep in mind that when electrical components are located on the door panel, the water can at least run down the door trim. When the switch is located on the door handle, the water just sits on the handle/switch until it evaporates.
Water gets to the switch in a few unassuming ways. When it's raining out, you might mistakenly leave the window cracked open a bit. During the winter season, snow falls on the switch when you open the door without first brushing off the snow from the top of the door. Anytime you open your window, whether it be at a drive through, for a smoke, or to swipe a security card, there's opportunity for water to get in if it's raining or snowing outside.
So what to do? One thing to keep in mind the next time you roll down your window is to put your arm over the switch to cover it from any precipitation. It's not rocket science and doing this won't stop the switch from failing altogether... but it's food for thought and a nice habit to get into. At the very least it will help keep water from getting on the switch to a minimum.
Just a note – in Ontario, the front driver side window MUST be operative to pass a ministry safety inspection. Reason why? If your turn signals and brake lights don't work, you must be able to roll down the window and use hand/arm signals.