Category Archives: Buick

Buick IntelliLink: How Not to Push a Driver’s Buttons

© General Motors
© General Motors

(this article was originally published on buick.com)

Automated tests tab millions of them before you touch a single one

DETROIT – A frozen computer is frustrating, but a frozen touchscreen in an automobile is a much bigger deal. That’s why engineers push the touchscreen buttons on the Buick IntelliLink infotainment system more than 2 million times every week, ensuring it consistently responds to user commands.

Multi-function touchscreen systems, which bundle controls and menus for several systems into one interface, are increasingly common in automobiles. From playing MP3 files to placing phone calls, planning a navigation route or adjusting climate controls, touchscreens are tasked with handling more complex functions than ever and doing it seamlessly to the user.

Much like opening too many windows on your home computer, mobile multitasking can tax some infotainment systems, and force the system to reboot.

“Car shoppers expect their in-car infotainment systems to offer not only a full range of convenience features but also complete dependability and functionally,” said Karl Brauer, senior editor of Kelley Blue Book. “That means a rapid response to user inputs and hardware components that consistently withstand consumer demands.”

To make IntelliLink robust, General Motors’ engineers subjected the system to exhaustive testing inside and outside the car. IntelliLink’s human-machine interface, or HMI, which includes the touchscreen liquid crystal display, or LCD, is hooked up to a state-of-the-art automated test bench, complete with cameras that constantly monitor the touchscreen.

The test bench fully replicates the various modules and components connected to the HMI while testing IntelliLink at a speed no human engineer can match. The stability lab can simulate 210 days of continuous in-car use within a week. Depending on the test performed, the lab can also subject IntelliLink systems to the equivalent of more than 2 million touchscreen pushes in the same period.

“We test our systems in real vehicles, but as humans, we can only log so many hours inside a car,” said Robert Rimkus, engineering group manager for GM’s Next Generation Infotainment systems. “These automated test stations help us push IntelliLink to its limits, ensuring customers get a system that’s consistently reliable in their own vehicles.”

Those simulated fingertaps and pushes mimic what an actual user would do while on the road based on customer feedback and design test procedures. For example, one simulation mirrors the audio, climate, and navigation control inputs a driver would make while making a road trip from Detroit to Chicago.

Other tests replicate situations owners may subconsciously encounter in the real world.

“When you shut off and leave a car, it takes the infotainment system as long as three to four minutes to fully go to sleep, much like any other computer,” said Rimkus. “You’re not always given that luxury in the real world. What if you stop at a gas station to grab a quick drink? The system hasn’t fully shut off, but it needs to quickly reboot when you turn the ignition key.”

The automation lab replicates other potential real-world use by staying close to GM road test engineers who drive pre-production vehicles. Issues noted during these early engineering drives can quickly be replicated within the confines of the automation lab, allowing developers to quickly find and address software or hardware issues that might push a driver’s buttons.

Read the full article on buick.com

An Insider’s Perspective

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Recently a customer came to us at Freeman Grapevine and asked, “Why is car buying so difficult?”  I understand why she asked that, it can be very challenging, and can be as equally frustrating for both a customer and the dealer, but it doesn’t have to be.  As an insider, let me explain why,

There are three main components to buying a car: price, trade in and financing.  Let’s review each.

Price

This should be the easiest part of the car buying process.  When a customer researches a car, and inevitably gets quotes from multiple dealerships, they should compare apples to apples.  In other words, you want to make sure you’re comparing the same vehicle with the same equipment and options.  A simple way to do this is to make sure the MSRP’s are the same.

As a salesperson, the hardest question to answer for a customer is “what’s your best price?”  I’ve told my sales people to show customers the invoice when asked that question.  This shows what the dealer paid on that car.  Most good dealerships will gladly show you the invoice so you know where their numbers are coming from.  You should calculate in any rebates, as well as a small profit, which all dealers are entitled to make.  It’s that easy.

Trade-In

If you’re trading in a vehicle, you’ll want top dollar for it.  Determining the trade-in value isn’t an exact science.  The year, make, model, condition and mileage all factor in to the equation.  Most customers research their vehicle’s worth on Kelly Blue Book (kbb.com) or NADA Guides (www.nadaguides.com) to give them a ballpark estimate before bringing it to the dealership.

Financing

The last piece of the puzzle is financing.  A customer’s credit score is the biggest component of this.  Whether you have a good financial history including paying off creditors on time & every month, your monthly income and how many outstanding balances you have, all affect your credit score.  A dealer’s relationship with its lenders is also important.  If they work with several lending institutions that offer a variety of financial programs depending on a person’s credit, can make the difference between going to one dealership or another.

A tip if you’re credit isn’t as great as  you’d like:  the higher down payment, the better.

Of course this is the process in a nutshell, however, it really is this easy. There is no reason buying a car should be stressful, or uncomfortable. In fact, buying a new Buick, or GMC from Freeman Grapevine will be one of your most pleasant car buying experiences ever. Trust me. We know how to take car of our new Buick and new GMC customers.

Learn to Tell The Difference Electrical VS. Mechanical Problem

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The electrical systems in new cars have definitely made driving a lot easier over the decades. The seemingly endless innovations in electrical systems have helped us enjoy a more comfortable and easier drive. However, it can’t be Peaches and Cream all of the time. Let’s say, you have problems starting your car and notice other problems with the electrical system. Let’s cover some of the issues that you could face with your new  vehicle’s electrical system:

Common Automobile Electrical System Problems Are :

Car’s Battery Is Dead – This is the most common problem…and most obvious. Check your battery by engaging your headlights and judge by the illumination.

No Power Stored in the Battery – When you turn the key, what do you hear? A little click? Does it sound like it want’s to turn over? It is possible that your car’s battery does not have ample power to crank the starter. You need a new battery.

Alternator is Not Working – A damaged or broken alternator could be the culprit. No alternator? No battery recharge. If your car suddenly start to lose “juice” while drive, you’ll know it could be your new car’s alternator.

Problem with Starter or Solenoid – Good parts gone bad parts. If it’s the starter, it won’t turn over. If you have Solenoid issues, you might find it harder to brake.

Battery Cables Might Be The Problem – A loose cable might be the root of the problem…give them a wiggle before you run out and buy a replacement.

Electrical Fuses – Check for any blown fuses in your fuse box. Also, feel around for any loose wires.

Cracks In Alternator Belt – Too much or too little tension, as well as cracks in the alternator belt cause trouble.

Ignition System Has Problems – You have a busted ignition switch. Give your mechanic a call.

Loose Spark Plugs – Loose or old plugs will certainly affect the operation of your vehicle. Are you loosing power as gears change? Does it lurch as if the gears aren’t engaging? It might be the internal combustion and the culprit is usually the plugs and cables.

Now these are just guidelines you can crosscheck with a Freeman Grapevine Service Consultant any issue you might have experienced. I you can talk with your mechanic about your new car logically by doing a little research, you help him help you even faster. Just give us a call to set up an appointment.

Dallas and Fort Worth cars, tell your owners when you need new shocks

That’s right, I’m talking to your cars. At Freeman Grapevine I’ve seen cars come in with serious suspension problems and whose owners obviously didn’t listen to their cars. Seriously, they will tell you when  you need replacement shocks. Shocks and suspensions are an often overlooked but vital aspect to your car in regards to safety. Make no mistake, recognizing when it is time to replace your shocks is very important.

First, let’s review the shocks and the suspension system:

Checking your shocks is actually a very simple thing to do. In fact, it is something you can do yourself  fairly easily.

The first thing you can do is pay attention when you are driving. For example, after hitting the bump does your Buick or GMC continue to bounce up and down? If the answer is yes then you  will almost certainly need new shocks. Start paying attention now, because this may start gradually and then worsen  over time until they are really bad. In fact, if you wait too long you can  damage other parts and components of you car.

A second way to check your shock’s life  is to physically look under your car  or truck. For a truck or van you may not be able to see them. In this  case you will need to push on the bumper and follow the steps the same  as you are physically looking at them. They  will bounce. Two or three bounces they are  fine. If they continue to oscillate, then they need replacing.

As stated earlier, the reason it is so important to replace worn out shocks is because they are responsible for keeping your tires in contact  with the road. If you are driving down a rough road and the wheels are bouncing up and down, worn shocks will actually allow the wheels to  completely lose contact with the roadway. Considering that your tires are the only thing separating you from the road, this can be especially dangerous  if you hit a dip or a bump during a high speed corner. Good shocks will  also help to minimize body roll, also very important during cornering.

If you think that your shocks may be worn and just can’t figure it out on your own, swing by and we’ll take a look at them. Then we can recommend the right ones for your Dallas Buick or GMC.

Fort Worth GMC owners, keep your tires in better condition

This might be a No-Brainer for most of you, but I’m constantly surprised by how many cars come into my Texas GMC Dealership that don’t have the correct amount of pressure in their tires. The fact of the matter is that under-inflated  tires can make your car handle poorly and eventually lead to a blowout! Too high of tire pressure means there is less of the tire touching the ground which can cause your traction and stopping distances to decrease. Too low of tire pressure means that more of the tire’s surface area is touches the ground increasing friction between the tire and the road. This can also cause your tires to wear out earlier. [CarsTalk.com]

There is an extremely easy way to avoid the above-mentioned situations. Measure your tire pressure regularly, especially in the summer months. All it takes is $10 and five minutes of your time.

1. Buy a Tire-Pressure Gauge

Never rely on your sight for judging whether or not a tire is low. Always use a tire-pressure gauge. You can pick one up for less than $10 almost anywhere. I found a great deal on a tire gauge, emergency hammer and seat belt cutter all-in-one on Amazon.com for only $15.

2. Find Out What Your Tire Pressure Should Be

If you open your driver-side door, you’ll find a sticker with a bunch of information on it. What you are looking for is the PSI (pounds per square in). This is the maximum amount of air pressure your tires should have.

3. Check the Pressure

Unscrew the cover on your valve stem, and press your pressure gauge firmly onto the valve stem. The end will slide out to show you the PSI of your tires. If you hear air escaping you’re not measuring the PSI correctly and need to push the end of the valve stem back in and try measuring the PSI again.

If you think you may not be doing it incorrectly, or have any questions in general, you can always give us a call or even swing by Freeman Grapevine! keeping your tires at the right pressure will not only prolong the life of your tires, but give you more control over your Fort Worth Buick or GMC.

Get Your Dallas Buick, or GMC’s Air Conditioner Ready For a Hot Summer

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This is something that Freeman Grapevine recommends that you check now. A broken A/C unit in Texas heat can probably be one of the most frustrating and uncomfortable things I can imagine going wrong with my car.

So, how do you know if your Air Conditioner needs service? There are two ways. You can do your research on the net and find videos like the one below. There are a lot of useful videos that can be found and used to diagnose almost any problem you may encounter.

Of course, once you diagnose an A/C issue, what then? How do you fix it? Well, that’s the easy part. Bring your Buick or GMC into Freeman Grapevine. We’ll confer with you about your suspected issue and check ourselves. Upon finding the issue we’ll repair the problem quickly and cost effectively. There are a lot of things you can do yourself, but messing with your A/C unit, other than diagnosing a potential problem, can exasperate the issue. You are much better off having us take a look at it.

Air Bag Safety And Children

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At Freeman Grapevine, we take child safety very seriously. As a Dallas Fort Worth car dealer, it is our responsibility as much as it is yours to provide safer solutions for children while they are in your Buick, or GMC.

Let me first start by saying that in the late 80’s automakers began installing airbags in cars for safety reasons, and there’s no doubt that over the past 30 years airbags have saved thousands of lives.

However, it is important to note that airbags are designed to protect average-sized adults…not young children.  I know we’ve all heard it, but airbags can pose a serious risk to children who ride in the front seat.

In fact, according to research conducted by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “children exposed to airbags during a crash are twice as likely to suffer a serious injury”.  The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “children under the age of 13 are safest seating in the back seat of a car”.

The following are some safety guidelines for children riding in a car.

  • Infants seated in a rear-facing safety seat should never be placed in the front seat of a car that has an airbag – When the airbag engages, the force of the airbag is directed right at the infant’s head as it comes out of the dashboard.
  • Children seated in a forward-facing child should not be placed in the front seat of a car that has an airbag. – Again when the airbag engages, the child’s head is in the path of the airbag as it emerges from the dashboard.
  • Remember for children 13 and under: The safest place to be in a car is the back seat.
  • For children ages 13 and up riding in the front seat remember:
    • All children should wear a lap/shoulder belt.
    • Move the front seat as far back as possible from the dashboard.
    • Make the sure the child doesn’t lean forward.
    • Have the child sit upright against the seat at all times.

Note: Engineers are constantly improving airbags to improve safety.  Known as 2nd-generation, or de-powered airbags, these airbags are still NOT designed for children.  Children are best protected in the rear seat.

The Children Hospital of Philadelphia has put together a great video on airbags and keeping children safe.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them here. If you’d like to see us, Freeman Grapevine, just stop by and we’ll look and some really safe and very kid friendly vehicles for you and your family.

Dallas Fort Worth Buick Verano With Peyton Manning

I’m a big sports nut, for those of you that know me, you are well aware of that. I think that’s probably why I like this new 2013 Buick Verano commercial with Peyton Manning calling “audibles”. He’s using Buick’s/OnStar Voice recognition system to access information in real time. Of course, aside for it being a pretty funny commercial, the new 2013 Buick Verano has a ton of modern features that make it a front runner in the compact sedan class. It’s a solid vehicle with degree of luxury that is hard to find in any car at the Verano’s price point.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2URz_fApsC0

Here’s a behind the scenes look at Peyton’s commercial.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hRoY-hP58Y&feature=endscreen

The voice activation system is an amazingly progressive feature of the new Verano, but it’s just one of many that it has to offer. The only way I can really explain to you how wonderful the 2013 Buick Verano is, is to come into Freeman Grapevine and test drive one  for yourself.

Fort Worth Buick, Watch This Old Buick Commercial

Every now and then, your Fort Worth Buick dealer, Freeman Grapevine gets a huge shipment of brand new, just off the line, Buick vehicles. It’s almost impossible not to be in awe of their gleaming beauty and newness. The funny thing is, even in the 50’s, Buick seemed to command respect as beautiful and well performing automobiles. America hung our hats on the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the Buick car.

As you can see, Buick has had a long and illustrious history with the American driving public. It’s an American brand that has the heart and soul of American ingenuity, design and hard work. Come in and see what Buick has become at your Fort Worth Buick dealer, Freeman Grapevine. You may be surprised to  find out that everything you may have thought about Buick is so much more.

Dallas Fort Worth Buick: Behind The Scenes Of Buick’s Design Process

2013 buick enclave, Buick Dealer, buying used car, car apps, car brakes, dallas Buick Dealer, Dallas GMC Dealer, dallas GMC Truck, dallas new car, dallas Used Car, dallas Used Truck, dallas Used Truck. New Car, DFW Buick, dfw car dealer, dfw gmc, driving anxiety, electronic roadside signs, Fort Worth Buick, fort worth gmc, Fort Worth Truck Dealer, Ft. Worth Buick, Ft. Worth car dealer, ft. worth gmc, GMC Dealer, GMC Truck, professional grade, track no go, Used Car, Used TruckManufacturing one of America’s best selling crossover vehicles with 3rd row seating, the Enclave, can certainly pile on the pressure when it comes to making any changes for the new model year. It’s not simply changing a color here, or a contour there. Nor is it as drastic as laying down a blank sheet of paper and doing a total redesign. Great care has to be taken when making any change. Especially to a vehicle that already has proven it’s worth in the marketplace.

According to Motorauthority.com, addressing most of these issues fell to lead sculptor at GM Nick Barkley, who worked on the original as well as the latest 2013 model. In addition to manipulating full-scale clay models, much of Barkley’s creative work is done in the digital space with three-dimensional modeling programs.

“Buicks have been some of the toughest work I’ve done because they are so sculptural,” said Barkley, a designer at GM for 12 years. “There are so many concave and convex forms. To make an organic, hand-shaped look show through the forms is both difficult and rewarding.”

Asked to name the most-challenging element of the Enclave’s design, Barkley immediately pointed to the traditional waterfall grille that went through countless looks before a final form emerged that met both the design team’s standards and manufacturing capabilities. He notes that the production version remains true to the earliest clay mockups.

When it comes to the Buick Enclave, the design of which is never truly completed. The same can be said for every other model in Buick’s line-up as well. There is a yearly ebb and flow of design ideas. Some of which actually make it to the final production version of the vehicle, while most end up on the cutting room floor. That is the constant desire for Buick to be a consistent leader in automotive design and production value. It’s is Buick’s drive for excellence and setting trends that are not easily duplicated, or copied. Hence, this is the reason why vehicles like the Enclave is America’s best selling crossovers.

I invite you to come and see for yourself the truly unique and inspired design work that you get when you purchase a Dallas Fort Worth Buick from Freeman Grapevine.