Archive for Driver’s Seat

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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A path is found

Peter Grant buys a three-row crossover:

We “bit the bullet,” and drove home in a few-years-old Nissan Pathfinder.

I think it’ll suit us very well. It’s not the highest-rated crossover SUV, according to reviews, but both Miss D. and myself find the seats and the ride very comfortable, and it has all the bells and whistles we need (and quite a few we don’t). We hadn’t planned on buying an upscale model, but it happened to be available at the right price, so that’s a pleasant bonus. An added advantage, from my point of view, is that Nissan’s 3.5-liter engine and CVT gearbox have been used in all sorts of different models for several years. After a couple of initial hiccups, they’ve established a pretty bulletproof reputation for reliability, according to local mechanics, which bodes well from a maintenance point of view.

That engine is Nissan’s not-as-ubiquitous-as-it-used-to-be VQ35DE, which was never incredibly fuel-efficient but proved mostly bulletproof in prsctice. (Early VQ35DEs had a plastic tensioner for the timing chain, which Nissan probably got bored with repairing.) And early Nissan/Jatco CVTs were terrible; by now, they’re fairly well debugged.

I haven’t driven this version of the PF; I was offered its sister, the Infiniti QX60, as a loaner earlier this year, but I was unable to boost myself into the driver’s seat.

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Juice preservation

One of the primary objections to electric cars is so-called “range anxiety”: omigod what are we to do when the battery starts to fade? A TTAC commenter has a suggestion:

The solution to range anxiety is a 200+ battery and a small gas tank with a small gas motor. If the battery goes flat, the gas engine propels the car while recharging the battery. A slightly raised CUV/SUV, for example, could have plenty of battery at the floorboards while still looking offroady (it’s not going creek wading, anyway).

Then the manufacturer could stage an around-the-country or cross-country challenge between the highest MPG gas car, the highest range electric car, and the combo gas/electric. The gas car would have to stop every three hours for fuel, the electric every three hours to recharge, and the combo every five or six hours to fill up with a bit of gasoline. The electrics could recharge overnight with no time penalties, since they would do that under normal usage anyway.

They could present it Top Gear style, and live-cast it on Periscope or Twitter or whatever. Once the public sees that the new Ford Rangefinder won’t leave you stranded on the way to Grandma’s house, it would become generally accepted as a car to seriously consider when the current lease contract runs out.

The three presenters/drivers could tally up the scores at the end on a large whiteboard, with total CO/NOx/CO2 emissions, total MPG, total cost of fuel and electricity, down time to refuel, and miscellaneous offbeat challenge scores to determine the winner.

Think of it as the reincarnation of the Mobil Economy Run.

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And a speedy cat it is

What this is:

A specialist British sports car company is to turn the Jaguar F-Pace into a 670 horsepower, 200 mph 4×4 that it says will be the fastest SUV in the world.

The Lister Motor Company’s Lister LFP will do 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds and will cost around £140,000.

The F-Pace is no slouch itself, but sport-utility vehicles of late are definitely tilting to the “sport” side of the name, at the expense of sheer utility: what, besides ass, can this thing haul?

For about half as much, Jeep will sell you something called the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, with similar performance numbers and about half the mystique. Only a fool, though, would take the Trackhawk — or, for that matter, the Lister — to Moab.

(Via Stephen Green.)

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Already I want to slap this kid

I can only imagine what his dad thinks, right about now: How can I convince my father to let me buy a BMW?

This passes for justification:

I am a 17 year old who has recently obtained a paid internship, so my parents are letting me buy my first car soon. I want to buy a BMW 3 series convertible from the mid-to-late 2000’s in the $6,000-8,000 range, but my dad says that they are unreliable and that I only want one for status. He says that I should opt for a more reliable and conservative option such as a Honda or Toyota. What can I do to convince him to let me buy a BMW?

Tell him you’ll pay for the insurance. Then we’ll all have a good laugh.

Local H already knows this type:

Makin’ no mistakes
No one’s gonna fall for you
Ain’t got what it takes
Find another avenue
Throw us all a break
She can’t really care for you
Just another flake
Who drives a BMW

(This track is also notable as one of the few songs which comes up with a rhyme for “ESPN.”)

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Glass sunroof

Apparently being female isn’t enough to silence complaints about fat-cat CEOs:

One of Britain’s best-paid female bosses has been slammed by critics over a £29million bonus.

Avril Palmer-Baunack runs British Car Auctions, which owns We Buy Any Car, the car-buying website known for its catchy jingles.

The vast sum, 59 times her normal salary, is the result of an incentive plan drawn up four years ago to grow the firm.

Oh, and her normal salary went up a bit as well:

On top of the £29 million bonus, which is linked to an increase in the share price, she also got an eight per cent increase to her basic salary to £525,000. The company defended it by saying it needed to pay a “competitive” rate.

But in a report to investors, influential advisory firm Glass Lewis called the £29 million payout to Palmer-Baunack “exceptionally disproportionate.” It said the increase in the value of BCA may have been boosted by broader swings in stock market prices “rather than company or management performance.”

Kim du Toit laughs at that, as he should:

Well, guess what? “Broader swings” in the stock market are a result of shareholder confidence in the market’s activities and results — and if the company and its boss benefit from that, it’s called “good luck.” I should point out once again that if the market is tanking and it takes a company down with it — through no fault of the company boss, mind you — the boss may well get fired anyway because at the end (and please note this, because it’s important), executive management is responsible for one thing, and one thing only: growth in the value of the shareholders’ investment. How it gets there is irrelevant (except in the Land Of Wealth Envy). When they say, “The buck stops here,” that’s precisely what it means: the ultimate responsibility for shareholder value lies with the executive manager, and with this comes either termination or reward, as agreed by the shareholders.

Glass Lewis may be “influential,” but they have no actual power; she’ll be getting her bonus, all $37 million of it. And I’d say she should be rewarded handsomely for phasing out advertisements like this:

That one alone is worth several million.

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This seems unusually difficult

It’s certainly easier on my car, anyway:

But then you’d have only thirty seconds of video, and all that cute would go to waste.

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So long as it beats

My ride, which stickered out at $31,000 at the turn of the century, is nothing more than a beater today. Which wouldn’t be a big deal, except maybe for this:

Many manufacturers are no longer producing OEM spare parts. You have to rely on cheap Far Eastern knockoff components, where the quality is at best questionable, at worst abysmal. Even there, only the more popular parts are being produced in economical quantities. Try to find something hard-to-get, and you’ll pay through the nose. Furthermore, many parts are now only available as complete sub-assemblies. For example, on my wife’s car, a front headlight must now be bought as a complete assembly, even though only one bracket is defective. You simply can’t buy the bracket on its own — at least, not from the manufacturer. Additive manufacturing (so-called “3D printing”) is supposed to help alleviate this problem, but I haven’t yet seen any reports of it making a significant difference.

Therefore, your old beater car will remain a good, low-cost solution, unless and until you can’t get the parts you need to keep it on the road. We might end up like Cuba, where thousands of pre-revolution cars had to be kept going for decades with ingenuity, handmade parts and other workarounds, because there were no replacement vehicles available.

In my specific case, Nissan still has stocks of some stuff, but dealers have only so much space in the parts room, so only the most common widgets are kept on hand. That said, I’ve only seen two instances where my local dealership presumably could not get Nissan OEMs: rear brake rotors, supplied by the aftermarket at about 40 percent off, and wiper blades, supplied by Rain-X.

Still, the car was assembled in the fall of 1999, fercryingoutloud. At a hair beyond 174,000 miles, it’s presumably not ready to be retired. Then again, the dreaded word “SALVAGE” appears across the title.

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Messing around with Jim

Jim, remembers Brian J., was the millionaire next door, back in the days when a million was a lot of money:

[H]e’d been a union poo-bah and invested in real estate and had done very well. He dated my aunt for a while, on and off, and he liked to carry $5,000 in cash on him at all times in case he saw something he wanted to buy. He liked to hit the riverboat casinos and gamble past the limit, getting other people in the casino to get him more tokens when he’d filled his limiting punchcard. He owned a Viper, and he brought it to a family reunion one summer.

My brother was on leave from the Marines at the time, and he’d brought a gearhead friend of his with his souped-up 70s GTO. They marvelled over the Viper, and Jim took his keys out of his pocket. “You know how to drive a stick?” he asked them, because he was going to give the keys to his high performance, expensive sports car to a couple of twenty-and-not-much-more males to roar around the county park and presumably south county.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” said Brian:

I most certainly did not volunteer, and my brother and his friend didn’t know manual transmissions, which is probably how that Viper got back to the garage that afternoon.

Well, that, and the handgun that Jim illegally carried in the console to brandish whenever unsavory types took too much interest in his Viper when he was stopped at red lights in sketchy parts of town. Which was more than once by his telling of it.

If I remember correctly, Dodge never built a Viper with a slushbox: they were all stick-shift. And if I remember correctly, I’ve only gotten substantial seat time in two Dodges ever: my mom’s ’69 Coronet with the 318, and a rented ’06 Stratus that was utterly devoid of fun. Younger sister had one of those Li’l Red Express trucks, short on bed and fuel economy, long on noise and horsepower, but I don’t think I put more than three miles on it.

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It somehow looks the part

In Soviet Russia, electric car looks like this:

Kalashnikov CV-1

What you need to know:

You don’t have to be from a former Eastern Bloc country to feel strange pangs of desire for this Russian one-off. Built by Kalashnikov — yes, that Kalashnikov — the CV-1 concept car features an old body concealing an advanced electric powertrain.

The maker of the AK-47, AK-74, and various other automatic small arms apparently wants to stamp out Tesla’s decadent invasion of the Motherland’s fledgling EV market.

If you took one look at this car and said, “Hey, isn’t that an IZH-21252 Combi?”, you’d be correct. Kalashnikov used the beloved Soviet car, which started production in 1973 and didn’t stop until 1997, as the basis for the CV-1.

The former IZH plant in Izhevsk is now operated by AvtoVAZ and produces Lada and Nissan (!) models.

The only way this could be any more iconic would be if someone built an electric Trabant.

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Had it lasted so long

The first Edsels appeared for the 1958 model year; after a short run of 1960 models, Ford’s billion-dollar baby was strangled in its crib.

This apparently is the answer to the question “What if it hadn’t?” What if Edsel had somehow survived?

2008 Edsel Citation

This thinly-disguised Ford Crown Victoria is one of two “2008 Edsel Citations” built, and much as I’d like to hate it, I can’t.

The powertrain is standard Ford Police Interceptor gear: 210 hp, 4-speed automatic. This fake Edsel is expected to bring ten to fifteen grand at auction this month, about a third what a real Edsel might fetch.

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There can be only one

The Pergelator rents a Toyota Highlander:

It works fine like you would expect a late model rental to work, though there are a few little quirks that I have not yet learned to appreciate. The cruise control is one. On my old Dodge truck, you could not set the cruise control any lower than 35 MPH, which kind of sucks when half of the time I spend driving is on streets with a 25 MPH limit. Yes, I know, it only takes a minute to cover six blocks at 25 MPH but it feels like a friggin’ eternity, especially when the road looks like it could handle 100 MPH traffic. Well it could if it wasn’t for all the people toddling out into the road. You can set the cruise control in my car, a Hyundai Sonata, or the [Mitsubishi] Endeavor to 25 MPH which is great. Keeps me from blasting my way to a suspended license. So I’m thinking plus one for Asian cars. But not this monster. This one, the lowest you can set it is 28 MPH. Why 28 for Pete’s sake? Don’t tell me, I don’t wanna know.

I never hit the cruise unless I’m doing at least sixty. Go figure.

But 28 is okay, I am unlikely to get a speeding ticket for going 28 in a 25 zone. Out on the freeway it’s fine. Or is it? Cruising down the Sunset and the car starts slowing down. What the heck? What are you doing you stupid machine? I set the cruise control for 60 MPH and I expect you to stay right on 60 MPH, not go wandering around the speedometer. I can do that all by myself, thank you, I don’t need any help. It took me a while but I eventually realized that it only did that when there was a car ahead of me, and it wasn’t that close, maybe ten car lengths. This car has RADAR. Too bad it isn’t also equipped with Sidewinder missiles.

In this tailgating-happy town, I suspect that particular option is either declined or misunderstood: if there are only three car lengths between me and the guy in front of me, someone, probably in a long-bed pickup truck, will snap into that space like a Lego block.

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Everyone should do this now and then

The last World Tour I did was 2008, and I have to say, I miss them; they leave a big hole in the wallet, but they pay back in so many ways.

Not that I can claim to having inspired her:

More sensible than I, she’s crowdfunding the trip.

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They missed “BFD”

If you were hoping for a revival of Eldorado or Fleetwood or even Catera fercrissake, you’re apparently out of luck:

While the company likely won’t use every single label, Cadillac has filed trademarks for CT2, CT3, CT4, CT5, CT7, CT8, XT2, XT3, XT6, XT7 and XT8 according to GM Inside News. That should keep it covered for the next decade and save the creative department the trouble of coming up with monikers that might evoke any kind of emotion in prospective customers.

Would it be too much to ask for a Sixty Special? (“Yes” — ed.)

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Like those others even exist

Tom Klockau puts aside his compulsive Broughaming for just long enough to toss this fact at you:

I love car books. Especially coffee table style car books. With lots of great big color pictures of showroom condition cars. But when it comes to Porsche books, there’s more than a little bias. Go to any book store, if your town or city still has one. Look for Porsche books. Pick one out at random (if there is more than one, that is). The first ten pages will be the introduction and the 356. Then approximately 92% of the book will be 911s. Perhaps eight pages on the 924/944/968/928. And maybe two on the Boxster. The end.

I remember once when the Porsche/Audi and Infiniti dealers shared a lot, and while I’m waiting for them to write up a service order on my I30, an utterly gorgeous 356 pulled into the adjacent lane.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said a staffer.

I nodded. “And it isn’t even a 911.”

Of course, this was before Porsche decided to mint money by selling sport-utility vehicles; nowadays you see more Cayennes and Macans than 911s.

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Jackrabbit wannabe

I distrust this person’s motives: Do all cars take off slow when you first drive them?

Oh, sure, you gotta go through the motions:

I went to this car lot I fount on Facebook, I’ve been having some doubt about going through with the buying. It’s the only car I can afford out there, it’s an 09 Accord 120k miles. My current car does the same thing and has other issues. So I really need a car, but I don’t want desperation to have me broke an carless. The Accord is also 13k total . Should I go elsewhere, and also when I got to the lot the lot was named a total different name then what it’s called on Facebook.

If you asked me “Is there a worse place to buy a car than craigslist?” I’d have to say Facebook.

And truth be told, if what you really want is to burn rubber with each and every start, I think “broke & carless” is exactly where you need to be.

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The highway should be my way

Route of proposed new Interstate

This proposed route misses Dothan, Alabama, by about an hour or so, and a TV station there has begun the pre-grieving process:

A new interstate proposal would run through Alabama but not the Wiregrass area and not everyone is happy with the idea.

There isn’t a time table for when it would be finished or even when work would start.

But here’s a map of what it would look like if it comes to be, connecting interstate 10 in west Texas with Interstate 16 in Augusta, Georgia.

It would run through 5 states, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

But the closest it would get to us would be Phenix City.

And mayor Mark Saliba isn’t happy about the fact that the plans bypass the entire Wiregrass.

He says, “We feel like we have been cut out for many decades, it has hurt us, we have grown a great city but we need an interstate this way before those in the middle of the state do.”

A study was started back in 2010 looking at the idea for this interstate.

Surely someone must have noticed that I-16, which runs from Macon to Savannah, doesn’t even approach Augusta. On the other hand, this scheme indicates a number: the proposed road, which lies mostly south of I-20 and north of I-16, almost has to be Interstate 18.

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Beyond the need for speed

I mean, this is overkill by almost any definition:

It is not uncommon to run up some hefty bills while on holiday, but one British tourist will be feeling particularly glum this week.

The unidentified man racked up tens of thousands of pounds in traffic fines in less than four hours after he rented a luxury supercar in Dubai.

He reportedly broke the speed limit on one of the city’s busiest roads dozens of times in the early hours of Tuesday.

The total cost of the fines came to 175,000 dirhams (£36,000; $47,600).

The fines were issued after the tourist triggered every speed camera on the Sheikh Zayed Road and reached a top speed of 240 km/h (150mph), according to state-owned newspaper The National.

But here’s where it gets weird:

The owners of the dealership where the man rented the Lamborghini Huracán told the newspaper that the driver had left his passport as a guarantee.

I guess he’s not coming home to Blighty any time soon.

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Not annoying enough

Already this is worrisome: “How can i make my turbo spool up louder with out putting a new turbo on?”

Here’s what we’re up against:

Im on a low budget and I was wondering if there was any way i can make my turbo spool louder? Will I have to do a muffler delete? Install BOV or CAI?

Removing the muffler is almost certainly illegal. Any turbo from the last 15 years has its own blow-off valve already, and given the function of a turbo — it scavenges exhaust gas, after all — changing the cold-air intake would have the same effect as hanging a pair of fuzzy dice from the rear-view mirror.

There are basically two issues here:

  • You want to hear more engine noise as you go down the street;
  • Absolutely no one else wants to hear that crap.

The cost-effective solution: turn down the volume on your audio system.

You’re welcome.

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Ho Chi Minivan

Actually, only a sport sedan and some sort of SUV will be among the initial offerings:

The first “volume” Vietnamese automaker will reveal two new models designed by Pininfarina during the Paris Motor Show this coming October, setting into motion what it hopes will be a global rollout over the next few years. VinFast, which will be setting up a new “state-of-the-art manufacturing facility” in the northern part of Vietnam, plans to launch the two vehicles in September 2019, though it will initially focus solely on “affluent” buyers in its home country before targeting opportunities elsewhere in Asia and in Western markets.

“Our show stand will … prominently feature the best of Vietnam, demonstrating the passion and tenacity that we will bring to the global automotive stage,” said James DeLuca, CEO of VinFast Trading and Production LLC. “We have the resources, scalability and commitment to become a significant new player in the global automotive industry.”

And, of course, the buzzwords.

While Pininfarina is still mostly run by Italians, the majority of the company’s stock is held by Indian manufacturer Mahindra, and they’ve had plenty of clients along the Pacific Rim.

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And suddenly a punchline

Steph Willems of TTAC opened a Question of the Day this way:

Picture it. A new world government, headquartered in Belgium, has been elected to oversee our affairs. There, our scientific betters assemble to map out a progressive yet benevolently authoritarian plan for all the planet’s people, causing H.G. Wells and other dead utopians to rise from the grave in orgasmic bliss.

In this hypothetical scenario, consumer choice is curtailed to ensure the citizenry makes the proper decisions. The planet’s air quality and climate is top of mind, as are the globe’s shrinking resources. A conservation plan is put into effect, wiping such indulgent automobiles as the Dodge Challenger R/T, 392, Hellcat, and other V8-powered machines. The GM 6.2-liter V8 is ceremoniously killed off. Schoolchildren are taught to snitch on any parent caught harboring a overly powerful motorcar, perhaps in a rural barn somewhere.

Suffice it to say, it’s heaven on earth. There’s no choice to see it any other way. But hold on — it’s new car buying time, and the state, er, the world, has mandated that as your daily driver, you must purchase a hybrid.

The very first comment to this thread:

Instead of Brussels or Antwerp let’s inject a little non-fiction and just say Sacramento.

Meanwhile, Infiniti is discontinuing the Q70 Hybrid. Figures.

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Nothing to change

“Yeah, I don’t know squat about cars,” says our feckless friend, and provides evidence of same:

I went to get my oil change at a shop and the manager refused because I had no oil in there. He said it would be a liability for him to do an oil change without any oil in the car. He then had me sign some papers and sent me on my way! I’m confused because I thought an oil change was simply putting new oil in a car. (Yeah, I don’t know squat about cars.)

Anyway, I quickly drove home and parked my car. I’m thinking about having my friend drive me to the store so I can buy some oil for my car. Will that solve my problem?

If it’s running at all, it’s still got a smidgen of oil in it; couple of quarts (okay, maybe four) will do it some good.

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Sightly sidewalls

I admit to never noticing things like this:

The PS4s tire is visually appealing with Michelin’s Premium Touch, a velvet like texture, patterned on the sidewall. The standard PS4s has the darker texture outlining the Bib graphic & Michelin name and a small checkered flag pattern following the “Pilot Sport 4 s” designation. It creates a nice dark black on black contrast. There is a limited edition version available that incorporates the Premium Touch around the entire face of the tire. A nice option for those who want to stand out and perform. This new aesthetic feature will also be found on Michelin’s Sport Cup 2 tires. Fun fact: as the tire gets older and the smooth surfaces typically fade, Premium Touch areas will remain a dark black, creating even more contrast.

I suppose I’ve dismissed these considerations on the basis of “Who’s gonna see this at 60 miles per hour?” But they aren’t moving 60 mph in the store, and let’s face it, tire stores have not traditionally worried about aesthetic considerations. Maybe this is changing.

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Desperate for discounts

This guy — excuse me, this girl — seems to be missing the point:

An Alberta man has legally changed his gender purely to benefit from the lower car insurance rates offered to women.

“I didn’t feel like getting screwed over any more,” the man, identified only as “David,” told CBC this week.

For more than three years, Alberta has been among several provinces in which residents can legally change the sex on their birth certificates without providing evidence of genital surgery.

A lot of transfolk, possibly a majority, are living without surgery, which is damned expensive, even in Canada. Still, most of them were serious about what they were doing:

David noted in a post to Reddit last April that he would have paid $4,517 if he had insured his car as a man, but the cost dropped to $3,423 once he became a woman.

“I am now a woman — I now pay $1,100 less for auto insurance. I won. The end,” he wrote.

This may prove amusing if she ever gets a date.

(Via Fark.)

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This close and no closer

“Gwendolyn has about $1100 worth of work that needs to be done quickly, and another $1100 worth that doesn’t need to be done so quickly.”Vent #1069

Yesterday I addressed the first half of that estimate, the dealership having ordered, and received, all the pertinent parts. I consider it nothing short of miraculous that Nissan still stocks most parts for this 18-year-old car. (So far as I know, they’re out of wiper blades and rear brake discs, though the aftermarket has adequate substitutes.)

The more alarming of the two issues, to me anyway, was almost, but not quite, overheating: on stupidly hot days, of which we have had an abundance of late, the temperature gauge, usually locked down on Just Below Center, began creeping up toward the dreaded H, though it never actually got there. The service consultant had been kind enough not to mock me when I offered a seat-of-the-pants diagnosis: the cooling system employs two fans, one of which runs most of the time, and another which comes in on stupidly hot days, and since I’d never heard it switch on, I assumed that second fan was kaput.

As it turns out, I was right about the fan, but I should not have judged it as the more alarming of the issues. All that focusing on the temp gauge had made me overlook a small suspension matter, which the service order states bluntly: “REPLACED BOTH OUTER TIE RODS DUE TO BALL JOINTS BUSTED.” Well, yeah, the ride seemed a hair on the rough side of late, but I had no idea it was that bad, and had chunks of tie rod dropped to the road, I would probably not be here now.

Here’s the odd thing: replacing the tie-rod ends meant doing an alignment, and of the fourteen measurements taken to perform this task, twelve of them were nearly spot-on. The two that weren’t, of course, were horrible. And the hit to the wallet, a smidge over $1100, was horrible but not unexpected.

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