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Archive for the ‘Car Safety’ Category

Should Modifying Your Car Be Illegal?

April 22nd, 2015

working on own car

Driveway tinkerers and shop-bound weekend racers could be a dying breed.

There are two main reasons for this:

  1. People who work on their own cars are stymied by the sheer amount of technology and custom tools needed to do the job.
  2. A new law could make it illegal to work on your own car.

The first reason is a natural consequence of technology. Open the hood of a modern car, and instead of seeing headers and valve covers, we’re greeted with a plastic cover emblematized with the vehicle’s logo and engine size.

Aside from having easy access to refill the windshield-wiper fluid, modern cars are basically untouchable for the average weekend do-it-yourselfer.

That in itself isn’t so bad, but a law that would outlaw us from even trying is very scary. And very real.

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Can You Spare the Spare?

April 16th, 2015

2015_volvo_s60

My daughter’s birthday nearly ended in the bitter cold, stranded on the side of the road in a questionable area of downtown.

After a nice birthday dinner, my wife and two of our girls clambered into the Legacy to thaw from the unusually frozen April night. With the car started and the heat on, I was ready to pull out of my prime parking space and embark on the journey home.

But I noticed a woman on the sidewalk taking a funny glance at the car as she walked past. Her brief but concerned look caused me to pause enough to wonder what she saw. I got out of the car and found my passenger-side front tire nearly out of air.

“Oh no,” I said to myself, “not here. Not now.”

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What’s Right: Right or Left Braking?

April 13th, 2015

Left foot braking

When does braking feel like hitting a brick wall?

When you try to apply the brakes using the wrong foot.

For those of us with decades of experience using our right feet to slow down, our left feet might as well be attached to our hips with wet noodles. There’s just no control when it comes to using them to stop a motor vehicle.

The debate about driving with two feet is almost as controversial as the one about which way the toilet paper is supposed to hang on the roll. Proponents of braking with the left are either race car drivers or older folks who cruise down roads with their left foot resting on the pedal and brake lights constantly aglow.

Some new information, though, might begin to make two-foot driving the norm.

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Car Minded, Car Safety, General Chat , , ,

Digging Out? Get Your Car Ready for Spring!

March 13th, 2015

Car buried in snow, Boston

I love snow. I’m honestly a little jealous that a good majority of the country got buried this winter while I sat and watched my local ski hill warm up and close for the season by February.

If you live anywhere other than the West Coast, odds are good that you, and your car, experienced record snowfall. If you’re one of the many car owners who simply gave up and let your vehicle slumber under the weight of the white stuff, you might have some special maintenance to do once spring does the dig-out work for you.

The first thing to know is that a few weeks buried in snow and cold probably isn’t going to do any major damage to your car. There are a few areas to take special care of, though.

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Have You Ever Had a Car Stolen?

March 3rd, 2015

1972_corvette_stingray
If you’re one of the unfortunate people to have experienced an auto theft, you’re familiar with how invasive and unsettling it is to know someone has your car.

At first you think you just can’t remember where you parked. You spin in circles, visually scouring the parking lot for any sign of your car. Then you replay the events in your mind of where you parked and try to convince yourself that your memory isn’t playing tricks on you.

Soon the realization sets in that you haven’t merely misplaced your car, it’s been stolen.

Varying degrees of panic ensue, along with calls to the police and family members asking for help. In some cases the car is found and returned unharmed. Sometimes it’s found but completely destroyed. Sometimes it’s never found at all.

Keep reading for an example of a car returned 42 years after it was stolen, and an attempted theft that resulted in some hefty “car-ma” for a would-be thief.

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Car Minded, Car Safety, Classic & Vintage Cars, Domestic Cars, Foreign Cars, General Chat , , ,

Would You Buy This Damaged Land Rover?

February 4th, 2015

Hoegh Osaka Land Rover

What a short attention span we have in this world today.

Less than a month ago, we wrote about the Hoegh Osaka. Remember that? If you’re anything like me, you’ll read that name and it’ll sound vaguely familiar, but you won’t remember why. Let me remind you:

The ship was carrying around 1,200 Jaguars and Land Rovers before tilting dangerously and running aground near England.

It was speculated that the load of expensive cars would be scrapped, depending on the damage done.

Well, 20-some days later, the cars are being driven off the boat under their own power. Watch the video then ask yourself: Would you buy one?

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New BMW Headlights Solve Old Problem

January 15th, 2015

BMW headlights at CES

Imagine a world where you never have to worry about turning down your brights as you drive. We’ve all been there, happily zooming down a country lane or lonely highway with the road in front of us bathed in ample light, our cars cutting through the darkness with high beams in full force.

Then a car approaches.

We think nothing of it until the approaching vehicle flashes its high beams, causing us to remember that we are blinding this fellow traveler. In our haste to quickly turn off the high beams, we spill our drink and accidentally flip on our right turn signal.

By the time we recover, the approaching car is long gone and we flip the high beams back on, only to repeat the process a few miles down the road.

There has to be a better way.

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Does Snow Change Your Travel Plans?

January 5th, 2015
How much snow is too much?

How much snow is too much?

There was a debate at my house last night involving safety and weather-related travel, and I declared myself the winner, but now I’m not so sure.

My wife, of course, had a good case.

Here’s the situation: On Saturday we had made plans to go out Sunday evening and buy a day bed from a woman who listed it for sale on Craigslist. It was a great bed and priced at just $75. A steal! The problem didn’t arise until later, when Sunday brought about 10 inches of snow and many miles of unplowed roads. I argued that, even with our all-wheel-drive vehicle, making the trip wasn’t worth the safety risk. My lovely wife, on the other hand, said she’d never changed travel plans because of weather and wanted to go get the bed.

Why did I begin to question myself? Because I saw an F1 driver racing his car in the snow. If he could do that, I surely could lumber slowly through a mild snowstorm.

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When’s the Last Time a Rear-view Mirror Made the News?

December 24th, 2014

Cadillac Camera

The first backup camera ever invented was made of glass and adhered to the front windshield. It was called a rear-view mirror. I looked toward Wikipedia for more history on the veritable safety device, because there just isn’t much chatter about them these days. Here’s what I found:

The earliest known rear-view mirror mounted on a motor vehicle appeared in Ray Harroun’s Marmon racecar at the inaugural Indianapolis 500 race in 1911. Although Harroun’s is the first known use of such a mirror on a motor vehicle, Harroun himself claimed he got the idea from seeing a mirror used for a similar purpose on a horse-drawn vehicle in 1904. Harroun also claimed that the mirror vibrated constantly due to the rough brick surface, rendering it largely useless.

Elmer Berger is usually credited with inventing the rear-view mirror, though in fact he was the first to patent it (1921) and develop it for incorporation into production streetgoing automobiles by his Berger and Company.

So there you have it. The rear-view mirror hasn’t made the news since about 1921.

Leave it Cadillac to make the rear-view cool again.

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Let’s End the Epidemic of Valet Joyrides

December 18th, 2014

2015 Chevrolet Corvette

I feel bad for valet drivers who have to sit behind the wheel of my car. Sure, it’s a nice Audi Q7, but a guest driver will find him or herself surrounded by scattered piles of unread mail, empty coconut-water cartons and various bits of food left over by two ravenous little girls who become a spinning mass of Tasmanian devils once strapped into their car seats.

My car isn’t a place where someone would want to spend a lot of time, and I assume valet drivers try to find the closest parking spot and exit as quickly as possible, hoping the next customer will own something a little more fun.

This week there’s a great example of a valet enjoying a new car in a completely inappropriate way.

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