Archive for Driver’s Seat

“Kill me now,” said van Kull

This is what you might call Not The Greatest Planning:

The Bayonne Bridge was shut down in both directions Thursday afternoon, making for a worse commute for those driving in the snow, sleet and rain.

The bridge was shut down by Port Authority due to slippery conditions and several cars becoming stuck on the incline of the renovated bridge, which is steeper than it used to be, a spokesman said.

Said bridge runs from Bayonne, New Jersey across the Kill Van Kull to Staten Island, New York. (Perhaps non-intuitively, Bayonne is at the northern end of the bridge.) The idea was not to make the bridge impassable in winter storms, of course, but to make room for larger container ships down below; there’s only so much dredging they can do.


Man of inconstant borrow

Why is the auto financing sometimes not fair? asks Mr. I Wouldn’t Give My Name Either:

I always see people with poor or not credit at all not a stable job and taking subsidies from the government getting those brand new cars while I have a stable job with good credit not getting even approved for a car loan which I really need to move on this car dependent city.

One of these, or both, will apply:

  • His credit isn’t as good as he says it is;
  • Their credit isn’t as bad as he says it is.

What I want to know: Are their FICO scores stenciled on the deck lid?


Fine Chinese wheels

Zotye International Automobile Trading Co., Ltd. is not quite 14 years old. However, they plan to celebrate their 15th by striding into the American market before any of their Chinese competition:

Zotye is setting up a U.S. sales and distribution arm in Lake Forest, California, and plans to sell vehicles through franchised dealers. Considering other Chinese brands (like Lynk & Co) aim to establish a subscription based model using mobile purchasing, it’s interesting hearing that Zotye intends to pursue a more practical alternative.

Presently, Zotye USA is owned by HAAH Automotive Holdings, headed by President and CEO Duke Hale, a longtime executive at several automotive import operations. “I am beyond thrilled to make this announcement, the result of more than four years of discussions and negotiations with the Zotye in China,” Hale said in a statement. “With the agreement, we have begun setting up a franchised dealer network to handle sales and service in America. We’ve had discussions with several major dealers already and will have more to say about that in the months to come.”

Wait a minute. Do I know this guy? Let’s see:

Nanjing Automobile Group, which wound up owning the MG brand after the collapse of UK-based MG Rover, has announced plans to assemble MG TF coupes at a new plant to be built in Ardmore next year. Nanjing will also reactivate a British factory to build the roadster version of the TF, and will build home-market cars in China. Production is expect to begin in the fall of 2008.

Duke T. Hale has been appointed president and CEO of MG North America/Europe, which will be based in Oklahoma City. I’d say he’s got his work cut out for him.

That was 2006. Some of that actually happened: the old MG Rover plant at Longbridge was indeed reactivated, and a handful of TFs were built — though none of them, I assure you, originated from Ardmore, Oklahoma.

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Fine German steel

It might well be fine, but German? Don’t be too sure:

While the current-generation BMW 2 Series isn’t ready for the grave, the company intends to put its next incarnation into assembly by 2021. That’s ages away for a consumer but precious little time for an automaker to make production decisions.

Likely spooked by potential trade issues looming over the horizon, BMW is reportedly considering shifting the America-bound 2 Series to a Mexican plant — specifically, the company’s new San [Luis] Potosi facility, home of the new 3 Series.

In case you hadn’t noticed, all of BMW’s utility vehicles — X[anything] — are built in South Carolina, even the ones to be sold in der Vaterland.


Looking good for 60

Joe Sherlock turned up this shot of a truly wild 1958 Chevrolet:

Exotic paint job on '58 Impala

A 1958 Chevrolet Impala, exhibited at SEMA last week, is not what it seems to be. Looking like a bare-metal finish automobile decorated everywhere with etchings, engravings and machine turnings is actually a paint job.

Displayed by Kuhl Racing and Japanese paint and automotive parts producer Rohan, the car showcased the artistry of custom painter Takahiko Izawa, who is credited with the invention of “metal paint” and for his unprecedented technique of “engraving” an entire car body.

Izawa reportedly uses various stencils and spends hours applying and sculpting the painted surfaces to achieve an awesome 3-D effect. The result is spectacular. There are lots more photos at Jesse Bowers’ Just A Car Guy site.

Now I’m trying to imagine this same treatment given to one of those bat-winged ’59s.


New heights in laziness

Or maybe “depths” is the word I’m looking for: What is the benefit of having gas door on the passenger side and not driver side?

Which is, I think, a legitimate question, but then he ruins it:

I won’t ever buy a car with gas door on passenger side cause it’s too long of a walk.

Those of us who can barely walk that far are either laughing or filling up with rage.

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Prepare thyself to write a check

“What is the most difficult part to replace/repair on a car?” asks some innocent on Quora. A retired engineer included this in his list:

Any repair in the engine bay of a W8 engine [Volkswagen] Passat. Really cool engine? Yes. Really impossible and/or prohibitively expensive to get any parts for it including ones that fail often? Oh yes. Don’t buy these unless you really enjoy the smell of money burning, the glow of check engine lights, and the particularly invigorating feeling of wondering what’s going to break and leave you debating whether to let it sit or spend hundreds on what should be a $5 part. The THERMOSTAT (normally a $2 to $15 part) is $260 to $682. And if it fails you will fail emissions because … the CEL will come on. Why? Because rather than make a solenoid or motor actuated valve and use it to regulate coolant flow … they took a regular thermostat and attached an actuator to it so the computer can move it too. WHEN the actuator fails, the computer notices and on goes the light!

Nissan asks a whole $27 for an OEM thermostat for my ride, but anticipated labor is only about an hour, so the bill will still come in under $200.


A true girlmobile?

Jack Baruth rents a 2018 Ford Edge:

The last time I reviewed an Edge was eight years ago. At the time, I thought that it was more or less a perfect example of What Women Want From Today’s Automobile. That’s still the case, and since the distaff demographic is notoriously conservative when it comes to vehicle design, Ford has wisely declined to make any significant changes to the formula. Although my test vehicle was a second-generation product, it’s pretty hard to tell the differences between this and the original. The 2019 mid-cycle refresh introduces a new eight-speed transmission and a new fascia but virtually nobody will notice.

What does the Edge do well? To start with, it’s an extremely competent freeway cruiser, quiet as the grave and offering a strong combination of comfort and visibility even if the driver is shorter than average. Crosswind sensitivity is just about nil. Wet-weather behavior at speed is exemplary. Few vehicles this side of an S-Class Benz convey a feeling of security to the driver as well as this middle-class Ford. After twenty thousand rental miles, there was neither rattle nor hum to be heard. Not only was the structure still tight as a drum, there wasn’t any visible wear on the interior surfaces. Honda could learn quite a bit from the way the Edge holds up to abuse.

There is, of course, a downside, and one place you can see it is from the inside of a purse:

Yet the Edge’s crowd-pleasing qualities come at a price. I mean that literally. This is a $38,000 automobile, and one that is not sharply discounted with any regularity. It takes some real build-and-price gymnastics to get a midsize sedan anywhere near it. The equivalent [Honda] Accord to this is an EX-L, which lists for $29,970. And the cost differences don’t stop there. The Ontario-built Edge features a Cleveland engine — the “twin-scroll” two-liter turbo that cranks out 250 remarkably frisky horsepower but which also struggles to return more than 24 miles per gallon in mixed usage. An Accord 1.5T would give you between 36 and 39 driven over the same roads in the same fashion. The Edge is heavy, so you’ll be buying those expensive low-profile tires more often.

Still, the Blue Oval moves a whole lot of these things: 142,603 Edges were sold in the States last year. And I’d bet that not all of them are being driven by women.

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Mere inches

“Can I update car title?” asks a person who shouldn’t be allowed near one:

I bought a car off private owner with mileage on title of 93k but on the dashboard it was actually 92400 but on my tile it says 93k. Can I take it to DMV to update the title because I guessed it was 93k even and the previous title from the seller had it as 93k. I wanna maintain the value! Also might sell it to Carmax.

Six hundred miles on a car with 93k isn’t enough of a value adjustment to pay for an air freshener at Pep Boys. I suspect that were this clown in a position to buy new, he’d demand a price reduction for the five or six residual testing miles on the odo.

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Generation landslide

It’s 2018 and (1) here’s Alice Cooper (2) in a commercial for Dodge:

You gotta love it to death, man.

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Don’t even beep at me

Warning chimes are all over modern motor vehicles, and most of them sound like random vibrations of the SID chip in the old Commodore 64. So I’m inclined to applaud the arrival of something new:

And no, they’re not kidding:

Let’s say you’ve left your fuel door open like an idiot, or maybe attempted to drive off with the parking brake engaged. Instantly, the Aviator springs into action, booting up a live recording of a warning chime recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In all, Lincoln commissioned six different non-critical warning chimes from the orchestra, covering 25 vehicle functions.

About the 900th iteration, you might get sick of this symphonic stuff, to which I say: “Buckle your damn seat belt already.”

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Always choose poorly

And you, too, can have problems like Eric here:

Hi, My name is Eric S. My issue is that my license is blocked in Louisiana. It had an insurance lapse. The car was eventually repossesed. Ive never got an official notice of the selling date. I relocate to Oregon due to a hurricane. Fast forward 2 years my license is expiring and I cant renew it because of a license block. It cant be renewed unless I pay 595$ to Louisiana dmv and also I have to provide that it was sold. The car company claims it has no records as they were sold to a collector. The collectors never answer and also took the charge off my credit score. I just want my license.

Lucky for him Oregon didn’t bust him after his “evacuation” exceeded a couple months or so.

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I would not feel so all alone

Because at this school, intruders will be stoned:

From testimony given in March by David Helsel, the superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District, in Pennsylvania, at a meeting of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives education committee:

“Our district has been training staff and students in an armed-intruder defense plan. Every classroom has been equipped with a five-gallon bucket full of river stone. If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance, they will face a classroom full of students armed with rocks. And they will be stoned…

“Obviously the teachers have pepper spray. The rocks are just for students. We used to have them huddle underneath desks. We’ve learned from Virginia Tech: the gentleman that did it went to a shooting range a week before and put the targets on the ground because he knew students were going to be under the desks…”


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Or slap some mud on it

Silly twit probably thinks he’s doing something frightfully clever: How many times do I need to put photo block spray on my license plates?

To elaborate:

I found a product that works (phantom plate) after a previous one that didn’t. That was in May and figured with car washes and rain and just eventually wears out. I’ve been taking advantage of toll roads to work and back and going to downtown on weekends.

I haven’t got a citation for using the tolls until this month I got one. It said one application and done but nothing lasts forever. So the product Is it because of all the rain in my area? Should I spray it at least once a month then?

Just a matter of time before he gets caught. I would love to see how he explains that he’s saving money by spraying $29.95 worth of crap on his plate. (And is he perhaps a local? We have rear plates only in this state.)

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A good title-washing

That’s all it needs, right? If i buy a Texas rebuilt car and register it in Arkansas will it come back to me as a clear title?

Short answer: no.

Slightly longer answer: What, are you nuts?


I only need a little bit of fraud

And for a short time, too: Is it illegal to have a liability coverage and have an accident and switch then wait to claim it so full coverage will pay for it?

As the phrase goes, we are not making this up:

I have liability and I need my car fixed it won’t fix I really cannot afford to fix it or to get full coverage but I need my car fixed so could I?

On the upside, your transportation costs will be negligible while you’re in jail.

Another plaintive wail from the same person led someone to do some tracking:

You’re a full time university student, your parents don’t help you financially, and you work at a part-time job. You own a 2014 Nissan Altima and last night a tree fell on your car and hit one side of your trunk.

A ’14 Altima? Somehow it’s paid for? Nobody gets to finance a car without full coverage.

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That touch of green

It’s a clever balancing act, but it’s still an act:

The Texas plant producing General Motors’ body-on-frame SUVs is clean and green, even if the vehicles it builds are anything but Prius-like.

In August, the 43 turbines of Southern Power’s 148 MW Cactus Flats Wind Facility became operational in Concho County, Texas. GM, along with General Mills (the tastier GM) both have contracts to purchase power from the facility — in GM’s case, some 50 MW of it per year. That means it can now claim its Arlington, Texas assembly plant is 100 percent powered by renewable energy. The Environmental Protection Agency just placed GM at No. 76 on its list of the country’s largest green power users.

The General is pledged to go full-renewable by 2050, and this is a substantial start — but it’s still sort of amusing that they start with the plant where they build Suburbans and Yukons XL.

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Still not dead yet

So where is Elio Motors this week? Still hanging in there somehow, but there’s been a small change in plans:

Early Elio prototypes carried a transplanted three-cylinder engine sourced from the illustrious Geo Metro, with the fledgling automaker claiming it had a 900cc triple of 55 horsepower in its sights. Well, plans change. The company, which hopes to start production in Louisiana next year, says it has secured a deal with an existing automaker for the car’s powerplant.

In a media release displaying a clear lack of knowledge of commas, the automaker claims it entered into a memorandum of understanding with a “Fortune 500 OEM” for the little mill. This arrangement, Elio says, will save the company piles of cash that would otherwise go towards R&D. Suffice it to say money is still tight at Elio.

The OEM in question is not identified, but one possibility is the 1.0-liter Ford EcoBoost inline-three engine, which needs some new homes now that Ford is trying to avoid selling actual cars in the States.

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Prediction is hard

Especially about the future, and even more so if you don’t actually have one:

“Yay … not going to die any time soon!!!” Richard Cota of Bonanza appears to have written those words on his Facebook page moments before fatally colliding head-on into another driver on a rural Oregon highway early Thursday evening. Cota’s wife, Amanda, was also in the car at the time of the crash.

Now both Amanda Cota and Klamath Falls resident Frederick French are being treated for injuries at two different Southern Oregon hospitals, and Richard Cota is dead. He was 37 years old.

The crash reportedly occurred along Highway 140, near milepost 14, about 22 miles east of Medford. Oregon State troopers were dispatched to the two-vehicle crash around 5 p.m. Oct. 4. According to OSP crash investigators, the Cotas were traveling east toward Klamath Falls and their hometown of Bonanza in a Dodge Neon. Richard, the driver, was reportedly passing other eastbound vehicles at a high rate of speed while in the westbound lane — and while in a no-passing zone.

Fark reported this with the DUMBASS tag, and justifiably so.

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Hummers needed

AM General, the presently privately-held defense contractor that created the original Humvee (spelled “HMMWV,” if you want your spellchecker to become familiar with apoplexy), is reportedly looking for a buyer:

AM General has put itself up for sale and has hired investment bank Macquarie Group Ltd to seek potential bidders in a deal that could value the builder of Humvee military vehicles at more than $2 billion, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Potential bidders include competitors in the military ground vehicle market, such as General Dynamics, Oshkosh Corp and BAE Systems PLC. according to two people familiar with the matter. Auto makers like Fiat Chrysler and General Motors Co may also be potential buyers, one of the sources added.

The wise buyer asks: “Is there a demand for AM General’s products?” It certainly seems so:

Last month, AM General was awarded an Army contract for as many as 2,800 new M997A3 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) ambulances. The contract could be worth as much as $800 million if all options were exercised, AM General said at the time.

Last year, the Pentagon awarded AM General a $550 million contract to deliver HMMWVs for use as protected weapons carriers, cargo transporters and ambulances to Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Jordan, Slovenia, Bahrain, Colombia, Bosnia and Kenya as a part of a larger Foreign Military Sales agreement.

And you have to figure that these deals are remarkably profitable, given that the Humvee has been in production since 1984: surely by now they’ve amortized the tooling costs. Its replacement, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, is in development over at Oshkosh, but you can scarcely blame DOD for selling last-generation trucks at current prices.

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Yo Bimmer!

We have learned over the years to address Siri or Alexa or, God help us, Google, directly by name. No big deal, right? Wait until you have to talk to a 2019 BMW 3-series:

Accessing certain functions and settings while keeping your hands on the wheel can be as easy as barking instructions at the car. BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant, which debuts on this vehicle, is just like it sounds, responding to “Hey, BMW!” Your digital helper learns as it goes, and improves itself via OTA updates sent from the automaker.

“BMW,” read as three letters, takes up five syllables. (By comparison, “Ralph Waldo Emerson” is only six.) Not that I expect to own a ’19 3-series, but I do hope there are aliases available to shorten things up.

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There are apparently no auto-parts stores in downtown Portland, Oregon:

We had to go seven miles down Interstate Five to get to Baxter’s. I noticed on Google Maps that there was a Fred Meyer that was closer and Freddie’s sells some basic automotive supplies, like oil and batteries, and most of them do, but not this one. I always thought that auto parts stores were pretty much evenly distributed according to population. I remember when I lived in Ohio there was one 24 hour auto parts store in Columbus and it was right downtown. This exclusion of auto parts stores from the downtown area in Portland smacks of elitism. More likely the space / rent squeeze had just forced out anyone who cares about how much rent they are paying. Or maybe cars are better built now and we just don’t need that many auto parts stores.

If it’s any consolation, I think you have to go at least two miles, to Northwest 23rd Street, to find one of the major parts chains in this town.

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No es posible

You probably know someone like this. Pity:

I have a 2009 Ford Escape and I thought I had a bad front left wheel bearing. But when I grab the tire itself and shake it there is no play. I was told that it was a back left bearing but my car is FWD, so that can’t be possible. Then I was told I needed all 4 new tires because they were cupped. But the noise is coming from the front when I drive and I feel it in the pedal and steering.

“Please diagnose so I don’t have to pay $125” is common enough, but usually it doesn’t come with a “that can’t be possible.” Ford has taken production shortcuts to save money before — ask the man who used to own a Pinto — but not putting bearings in rear wheels is not one of them.


Shoot a man in Reno

Obviously he’s asking for it: How can i make my car louder in nevada?

I want to make my car louder, however, the law in nevada states that “Mufflers are required on all vehicles and must be in working condition to limit noise and pollution. Muffler bypasses, cutouts and similar devices that amplify sound are not permitted on highways.” how can i work around this?

“Yeah, it’s the law, but I DON’T CARE!”

Four words: Move. But not here.

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Like, how would he know?

It’s not like the Chevy Cruze is a bad car, necessarily:

My co-worker keeps telling me that my car is very gay. For the record my parents bought me that car. It was a graduation present when I graduated from high school 2 years ago. He drives a Honda. I just want to know why people don’t like Chevy cruzes and chevys in general.

“Very gay”? Is there source material to support this claim?

Let’s see. The guy’s representing himself as the expert, and there are no known references to check his credentials, so I suggest you give him the benefit of the doubt. Next time you two part compamy, raise your voice a couple of decibels and say:

“And another thing. Would it be too much to ask for you to keep your goddamned penis out of my car’s tailpipe?”

Anybody gives you a funny look, tell ’em there’s a Check Engine Light.

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High-speed douche

And a recidivist high-speed douche at that:

Arizona lawmaker Paul Mosley has pleaded not guilty to a charge of excessive speeding, two months after a police bodycam was released that showed him bragging about driving 120 mph.

The Republican representative was pulled over in March for driving 97 mph in a 55 mph zone, but wasn’t ticketed on the scene after claiming legislative immunity.

Arizona law protects legislators from “civil process” for some violations while the legislature is in session, but speeding isn’t one of them.

How about shooting off one’s mouth?

Three weeks after apologizing for the video, in which he claimed he often drove at triple-digit speeds and that his Lexus sedan can do 140 mph, Mosley was given a citation for the March incident by the Cochise County Attorney’s Office.

This man needs a mid-1970s Mercedes-Benz 240D nonturbo diesel, and the full 90-day Humility Now! course.


The one that got away

When I got married in early 1978, I was the deeply embarrassed owner of a 12-year-old Chevrolet that my bride decided she could no longer tolerate. I can’t really blame her, I suppose. Wanting to get this over with, we presented ourselves one Saturday to a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer, where we test-drove two cars, neither of which was a Chrysler or a Plymouth. One of them, in fact, was a Mercedes-Benz:

A lovely 240D exactly that color, though two years older. The ’76 Benz on offer had been traded in by a physician from somewhere out near Enid; he had retrofitted it with a larger fuel tank, bringing its capacity up to around 35 gallons, which, said the chap wishing to make the sale, gave the car a range of somewhere around 1,400 miles. In the end, we turned it down, not so much because it was slower than fourth-class mail, but because that extra tank space had to come out of somewhere, and that somewhere was the trunk.

And so we drove off in a ’76 Chevrolet with a proper Detroit V-8 — well, it was a 305, which did have eight cylinders arranged in a vee, though other similarities were marginal at best.


Come resale away with me

Anyone who can find an automotive site on the Web can quickly deduce the facts in question: if you’re buying an actual car, depreciation is going to eat your lunch and probably filch a stick of gum out of your purse. Trucks and sport-utility vehicles make smaller demands on your cash flow at trade-in time.

But perhaps unexpectedly, so do greenish vehicles:

[T]he improving perception of electric vehicles, no doubt helped by a slew of new or updated models with greater range, has moved their rate of depreciation in a healthier direction. Annual depreciation cost for the list of non-Tesla EVs (Bolt/Focus/Leaf/i3/Soul) improved to $5,481 this year, down from $5,704. Hybrid cars (Fusion, Ioniq/Niro/RAV4/Prius) see a lesser positive change, with depreciation sinking to $3,068 from last year’s $3,301.

Still a small market sliver, but it doesn’t have to stay so.


It doesn’t work that way

There are the astute auto buyers, and then there are nimrods like this:

What percent of a Corolla’s price is based solely on its age? Please show how you did it!?

If it’s brand-new, then zero. If it’s not, then “Not applicable.”

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The end of the long and winding road

Two thousand nineteen is apparently the last year for the Volkswagen Beetle.

One of the last VW Beetles

They didn’t announce this, of course:

According to VIN decoder documents submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and uncovered by VW Vortex, the Beetle line adopts ominous-sounding Final Editions for 2019. The same thing occurred in 2010, right before the transition from the annoyingly cheerful New Beetle to the slightly more serious, revamped Beetle. Of course, back then, there was something to look forward to. Now, as Phil Collins once said, there’s just an empty space.

The original Bug, in VW parlance, was the “Type 1.” No automobile, I submit, ever had a better designation.

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