A Career in Automotive Design

Sunday, June 24, 2012
Probably every neighborhood from New York to California and Maine to Florida has a kid who likes to draw cars. And maybe those kids will proudly announce that when they grow up they are going to be car designers. For many, that dream will fall by the wayside but for a select few it will become reality. In the early mid-forties, Giorgietto Giugiaro and Marcello Gandini were a couple of Italian kids who like to draw cars. Today, they are Italy's top designers.

The vehicle designer is responsible for creating the exterior and interior appearance of over the road vehicles. Generally, these are automobiles but trucks, vans, coaches, and motorcycles are also included.

The designers usually work in teams. One person does the exterior, another the interior and a third works with colors, materials and trim. The working environment and working conditions are pleasant. It is a risk-free career that does not usually require overtime or weekend work.

A design begins with a set of digital or manual sketches. Once these are approved by management, more detailed drawings follow. Then clay models or digital models are developed. The same procedure is followed for exterior, interior, and color and trim design.

However the road from car sketches to the design studio is paved with hard work beginning in high school. Auto design is one of the most competitive careers in the design industry. Consequently the competition to gain admission to the colleges that offer transportation design classes is fierce.

Prospective designers need to begin in high school with all the two-dimensional drawing classes they can fit into their schedule. But it isn't enough to just be able to draw a car. They also need to understand aerodynamics, engineering concepts and ergonomics. They will be working with figures so knowledge of math and physics is required.

And throughout high school they need to work on building a drawing portfolio. All colleges require a portfolio. And it goes without saying that the better the portfolio, the better the graduate's chances of being accepted by a prestigious institution.

While many schools offer majors in industrial design only a few specialize in transportation design, which is the recommended career path for future vehicle designers.

It is important to make a wise choice of colleges. One needs to examine the credentials of the faculty and the reputation of the courses. Most important, the institution should have a strong industry connection. Part-time faculty members who work in the industry are of immeasurable help, in guiding students' work to meet industry's demands and assisting them in finding employment upon graduation.

Once in college, the students will pursue a four-year design major. During the first years they will study drawing and design theory. In later years they will concentrate on computing and model making. Some schools provide an internship in a design studio during the third or fourth year. These are valuable since internships are often a direct path to an entry-level job upon graduation.

However, the job market is much better for engineers than designers. For every vacant design position, there are twenty engineering jobs. In spite of this, the student with outstanding talent and creativity will always be recognized and find a niche in the industry.

Don't Buy a New Car, Upgrade It by Accessorizing

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Aftermarket parts are replicas of original factory parts that came from the car manufacturers. Some people like aftermarket because they feel these parts look slightly more glamorous than the original ones. They're often more affordable than the original parts but they're still of good quality, which is why people like them. These parts are also available at most auto supply stores or online retailers so it won't take as long to get replacement parts for your car.

Getting the Best Aftermarket Parts

If you're buying aftermarket items online, then you'll want to research the companies you're interested in because some companies sell bogus and defective parts. Start by reading reviews of local auto supply websites by customers and look at what they had to say about the quality, customer service and prices of the parts.
Visit the Better Business Bureau's website and inquire whether any complaints have been filed against this company for bad business practices.
Read auto magazines and Consumer Reports to learn more about what look for.
When you visit stores that sell parts, examine them carefully for defects and if the prices are too low or high, then it could be fraudulent.
Most Purchased Aftermarket Parts

Custom seat covers are among the most purchased aftermarket parts. This is because more people want the latest seat designs and colors for their car seats thanks to TV makeover shows that give cars a new look.
Hubcaps are also popular car accessory, and nowadays you can find hubcaps with diamonds, rhinestones and airbrushed with names or other designs.
Sound systems have become popular aftermarket parts, and there are lots more to choose from than in previous years.
Warranty Issues

Because of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, an automotive dealer cannot deny warranty service to a customer just because he modified his car with car parts. The dealer has to prove that the car isn't working because of the installation of these parts. To be on the safe side, have an experienced mechanic install your Aftermarket Parts if you're not experienced in this type of work.

Car Design Can Worsen Whiplash

Sunday, June 10, 2012
This is in response to research carried out by Thatcham which looked at car design and whiplash injury. They also report that last year saw the biggest improvement in car design with 80% of seats made in Europe getting a 'good' or 'acceptable' scoring. Only 16% of seats achieved this is in 2005 and in 2002 25% of all cars would not provide whiplash protection.

Peter Roberts, chief executive at Thatcham, said: "The majority of vehicle manufacturers have already incorporated geometrically correct designs that offer good protection. It is clear, however, that certain vehicle manufacturers need to make improvements to fall within the internationally recognised standards."

Whiplash injury can occur even when collision speed is very low. Pain can take weeks or years to manifest and is caused by damage to soft tissue around the spine. Symptoms can include shoulder pain, neck pain, stiffness, dizziness and burning sensations.

Thatcham researchers discovered that the amount of damage from whiplash depended mostly on the position of the car's headrest. Movement of the headrest during collision worsened the victim's injury leading Thatcham to ask manufacturers to have a locking system on it.

Dr David Bull said: "Headrests are so important because this is true preventative medicine."

Experts recommend that the headrest should remain near to the back of the head. The top of the head and top of the headrest should be inline. Drivers are advised not to recline their seat or to drive hunched forward as this will increase the distance from the headrest and lead to more serious injuries.

Thatcham scored Saab and Volvo seats as 'good' for preventing whiplash injury with Ford and Renault also performing well. Audi were commended for their seats that were made from special foam to absorb impact and support the neck during collision.

Some 200,000 people per year are victims of whiplash with 20,000 having symptoms for more than 6 months and 2,000 having long-term disability.

Approximately 80% of personal injury claims result from whiplash.

To make a whiplash injury claim the accident must not be caused by the victim. They will have to show that an injury resulted from the accident and following this compensation could be given for 'general damages' (physical and mental injury) and 'special damages' (an example being loss of earnings).

The victim will attend a medical examination to find physical damage then an independent medical expert will look at their case. A solicitor normally guides claimants through this procedure and will advise on whether they have a strong case.

Once this is confirmed the solicitor will forward the claimants details of the accident and injury to the opponent and they will decide if they will accept liability. If they deny it then the case may go to court but this is rare.

Cases can take approximately 12 months to complete and compensation rates vary although, if injuries are not permanent disabilities, £2000 is often quoted as a standard amount.