Written By: Kristin Brocoff Kristinsblog@carmd.com
During two recent trips to New York I observed that most of the taxis I rode in had some sort of dashboard warning, such as a check engine light, on. This concerned me because this light is designed to notify drivers when they have a problem ranging in severity from something that pollutes the environment to a serious safety issue.
About 10 to15 percent of vehicles on the road are considered gross polluters, which mean they emit so much pollution they account for more than half of all vehicle-produced smog. I wonder how many taxis fall into that “gross polluter” category? And while I haven’t been able to find a clear answer to my question, I did learn that 86 percent of the taxicabs operating at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport have improperly issued vehicle inspection stickers. I also found that back in 1993, Los Angeles County cracked down on a scheme that allegedly sold emissions certificates to fleet operators, such as taxi owners, who wanted to avoid emissions-related tests and repairs.
That’s why I’m so glad to know that many states and municipalities are making strides to improve the safety, fuel economy and overall health of their taxi fleets. Cities such as Burbank, Calif.; Tokyo; and London have switched their cab fleets to electric or hybrid vehicles. And NYC is in the midst of its quest to find “The Taxi of Tomorrow.” Commissioned by The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission, the Taxi of Tomorrow will be a specially-designed vehicle that meets the highest safety standards, has a smaller physical footprint, lower emissions and improved fuel economy. Design finalists include Ford, Nissan and Turkish truck maker Karsan, with some cool features like cabin space for everything from strollers to guide dogs, ADA-compliant ramps, Wi-Fi and cell phone chargers. The Taxi of Tomorrow winner is expected to be announced in early 2011, and phased in as older models retire.
There are currently over 13,000 licensed taxicabs in New York City. About 90 percent of them are Ford Crown Victoria models. According to the CarMD diagnostic database, which we’ve been compiling since 1996, the Ford Crown Victoria has had 32 known safety recalls! The number one reason the Crown Vic’s check engine light comes on is a “fault system too lean” code, which means it’s sucking in too much air and not delivering enough fuel. If left untreated, it can cause a misfire, rough idling, poor engine performance and costly repairs. I’ll bet some of the taxis I rode in had those problems. I wonder how many of those drivers would have allowed me to plug in my CarMD tester for a diagnosis? After all, taxi drivers are just like you and me. We’re all trying to minimize repair costs to keep our vehicles running longer. The only difference is a taxi driver can’t call a taxi while their vehicle’s in the shop!
I also wonder if I noticed those glowing check engine lights on the taxi dashboard because I work in the automotive industry, or because I’m an astute consumer – or both? How many of you have gotten into a taxi that had a noticeable problem? A blinking check engine light? A service engine soon light? A broken seatbelt? Something else that just didn’t seem right? CarMD wants to know! Tell us your Taxi Check Engine light story here on this blog, on Facebook or Twitter, and be entered to win our weekly prize drawing of a CarMD products and a grand prize of $1000 gift card! Send us a photo and double your chances of winning! Click here for contest rules and entry information.
Kristin Brocoff, marketing manager at CarMD.com Corp, helped develop the CarMD® Vehicle Health System. She has over 16 years of experience in marketing and public relations, including a decade in the automotive aftermarket. She serves as a member of the AskPatty.com female friendly advisory panel and the Car Care Council Women’s Board. Kristin is committed to empowering drivers – women in particular – to make smart decisions about car maintenance. She has appeared on regional and national TV and radio programs, including Fox News, Extra! TV, The Motorman Show, and more. Kristin currently resides in Las Vegas, and is a full-time working mom to two active kids and a dog.
Questions about my blog? Comment here or email me at Kristinsblog@CarMD.com