Questions and Answers About Winter Tires

Snowy road

Winter weather has already started its sloppy march across the northern parts of the United States. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late for some winter tire advice.

Why do you need winter tires? The fast answer is handling. Well-designed winter tires have deeper treads than summer or all-season tires. (The latter, by the way, are really three-season tires if you live in the snow belt.)

Winter tires’ deeper treads help them deal with snow and the icy precipitation that creates slush. An interesting side benefit of winter tires is that they improve traction by packing snow in those treads for better grip on snow.

Also, winter tires are designed with tiny slits in the treads (or as Bridgestone calls them “snipes”). These provide biting edges on ice that help with acceleration, deceleration, and stopping.

Continue reading >>>

Older Cars Gaining Traction With Young People

Breaking Bad Aztek

These are the zombie cars.

These are the cars that died ages ago, forgotten and unwanted by the American masses. They are the Chrysler Pacifica, the Dodge Magnum, the Pontiac Aztek, and the Chevy TrailBlazer. There are many more, but today it’s these cars that have caught our attention.

Why?

Because they are back from the dead and living among us once more.

The source of their surprise resurrection might be a little shocking. It’s not the original owners looking to experience the vehicles they let get away. No, this time it’s their kids.

It’s the new generation, the group known as the millennials, who are snatching up these old dead cars and bringing them back to life.

Continue reading >>>

Distracted Driving: The New Normal?

Texting While Driving

How many times per day do you see people texting behind the wheel?

I’d venture to guess that every time you’re stopped at a light or stopped on the highway in heavy traffic, you’ll be able take a look at your fellow drivers and see at least one with his or her face buried in a phone.

It’s dangerous, and it shouldn’t happen, but we, as modern-day Americans, have outsourced our brains to our devices, and we can’t sever the connection. We text and drive, we e-mail and drive, we shop and drive, and we talk and drive. Many of us go about these activities while also eating or putting on makeup.

Driving has become the secondary or even tertiary activity while behind the wheel. Nobody can seem to stop it from happening.

So we must embrace it.

Continue reading >>>

Can You Spare the Spare?

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.”

Continue reading >>>

The New Must-Haves in Car Shopping

MyFord Touch 6312_sirius-660

The average car in the United States is 10 years old.

In an age when computers and phones are obsolete in 3 years, a decade is an eternity.

Back in 2004, things like USB ports, Bluetooth and backup cameras were fare for top-of-the-line luxury cars, if they were available at all. Today, that kind of technology is considered must-have for many new-car shoppers.

The exponential leap in technology is a major reason some shoppers will consider only new or late-model used cars. Is the latest whiz-bang wizardry worth the extra cash?

Continue reading >>>

Let’s Get a Little Weird with Cars and Bacon

ford_fiesta_bacon

If you’ve ever heard comedian Jim Gaffigan talk about bacon, you know his bacon bit goes on for an uncomfortably long time.

The man loves bacon, as do most citizens of these great United States.

Some of the bacon-related things we obsess over are the sound of bacon cooking (like applause, according to Mr. Gaffigan), the hunt for bits o’ bacon in lettuce, Kevin Bacon and the ability to wrap almost anything in bacon to make it better. People love bacon.

And, now, buyers of a certain car can opt to have it wrapped in… bacon. Because that can only make it better, right?

Continue reading >>>

Will New Cars Become More Like Video Games?

2013 Ford Focus ST

I like ice cream, and I like tuna fish, but I don’t like tuna fish ice cream.

That same theory goes for cars and video games. I love cars, I think video games have their place, but the two just shouldn’t be combined. Well, let me be more specific: Video games that include cars are great. Cars that incorporate pieces of video games are not.

A post on Ford’s social media site got me thinking about this. A young engineer has figured out a way to make a manual gear shift knob vibrate in the same way that a video game controller does.

To which I ask: Why?

Continue reading >>>

Are Auto Parts Stores a Thing of the Past?

How's the parking lot at your local auto parts store?

How’s the parking lot at your local auto parts store?

How much longer will auto parts stores be around?

In college I worked the parts counter at a national auto parts chain store in Seattle. I loved my job. I worked all day on Saturdays and Sundays and from 5 pm to 10 pm two to three times during the week. I loved helping out and learning about the customers’ project cars, learning about different parts for different cars and occasionally helping stranded motorists by changing a battery, doing an electrical test, even breaking the rules once and changing out an alternator right there in the parking lot. In the dark.

This was in the late 1990s, and the auto parts store was a busy environment of shared enthusiasm for cars and ambitious DIYers taking on repair projects for their beloved vehicles.

I have a feeling that culture is gone… or quickly vanishing.

Continue reading >>>

Costco Fulfills F1 Racing Dreams… For a Price

Costco F1 racing simulator

Costco: the land where dreams come true.

Assuming, of course, your dreams include 50-pound bags of sugar, gallons of mayonnaise and full access to all the toilet paper you’ll ever need.

Bulk discounts on household staples are enough to keep some people coming back every Saturday. Every once in a while, though, Costco surprises by offering something so over-the-top extravagant or absurd that it blows our little minds. That includes million-dollar diamonds, caskets stacked near the TVs, and now, F1 cars.

Kind of.

Continue reading >>>

Future Car Technology: Decreasing the Need for Human Thought

Will future Audi vehicles predict the future?

With great interest, I opened an article that claimed cars of the future will probably be able to predict the future. How cool would that be? My mind raced with possibilities.

Could my car analyze information online and tell me if an upcoming date would be a success? Would it be able to predict gas prices 6 months into the future? Maybe my car could predict future Super Bowl winners and clue me in.

Well, it turns out the predictions are nowhere near as exciting.

Continue reading >>>