Archive for Driver’s Seat

Not a single oil change

Tesloop, a firm which operates a shuttle service using Tesla automobiles in and around southern California, now has 400,000 miles on one of their Model S sedans, and they’ve released some maintenance figures for the edification of those who wonder how well the big electrobox holds up for the long term:

Teslas are not cheap to maintain, but no vehicle being driven 400,000 miles (643,737 km) in just a few short years is going to be cheap to maintain. Tesloop’s Model S racked up $19,000 in maintenance costs over 400,000 miles, which, in comparison to what a comparable executive sedan like a Lincoln Town Car or Mercedes GLS class vehicle would cost, is actually cheap.

It sounds like a lot, until you run the comparisons:

Tesloop estimates maintenance costs on a Lincoln Town Car to be closer to $88,500 and for a Mercedes GLS class, $98,900 over the same 400,000 miles. That nets out to a savings of $0.17 or $0.20 per mile in maintenance by driving a Tesla instead of the much more traditional Lincoln and Mercedes offerings.

On cost alone, these numbers make Teslas no-brainers as luxury transportation, undercutting the competition on maintenance and fuel cost by a significant margin.

“But the batteries!” I hear you cry.

Along the way to 400,000 miles, the Model S has also had its high-voltage battery replaced twice under warranty, at 194,000 miles (312,212 km) and 324,000 miles (521,427 km).

“Under warranty”? Dayum.

So I decided to do some extrapolation from this stack of service orders, and by the time Gwendolyn, my aged Infiniti sled, reaches 400k — she’s not quite halfway there — she’ll have rung up about $53,000 in maintenance. Not that I expect to live long enough to see that.


Quaker restate

I do know this situation reasonably well:

[H]ey, hadn’t it been a while since I had an oil and filter change? I was remembering early May, but nope, when I called to check (It’s complicated but I lost the little clingfilm thing that gives the “next recommended date” and didn’t have the paperwork handy) it had been early this year — much earlier than May.

My last oil and filter change was Tuesday. By Wednesday afternoon the little clingfilm thing had already curled off the windshield.

That said, it had been 4888 miles since my previous oil and filter change; I know this because I reset one of the two trip odometers to zero last time, and the time before that. (The other one keeps track of refuelings.)

If your next question is “But don’t you use it for, you know, trips?” Well, back in the days when I was doing World Tours, I’d get the oil changed the day before I left, and again the day after I got back, typically spanning 4400 miles and eighteen days.

(Nissan’s recommmendation: every 7500 miles, but every 3750 miles for “severe service.” In this part of the world, most service strikes me as “severe,” so I compromise a bit.)

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Count your CARB

As I read things, the general feeling about acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler is that he is basically Scott Pruitt v2.0. Maybe he is. But he’s already taken one decidedly unPruittlike position:

Following Andrew Wheeler’s appointment as acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency, he extended an invitation to the California Air Resources Board to discuss emission regulations — a matter which former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt seemed less inclined to discuss with the state.

Mary Nichols, chairman of the board, said Wheeler reached out to state officials and the pair agreed to hold a meeting in Washington. It’s a slight easing of tensions in the cold war between D.C. and Sacramento.

Scott Pruitt is not a reaching-out kind of guy, as you might have noticed.

Initially, the EPA hoped to convince California to compromise so the current administration could progress with its deregulation strategy for the automotive industry. However, California has drawn a bold line when it comes to rolling back the corporate fuel economy mandates passed under President Obama. Pruitt claimed the existing targets were unreasonably high after the Trump administration requested a revaluation of the standards.

Since then, the Golden State and its Air Resources Board have retaliated by filing a lawsuit claiming the EPA’s decision to roll back fuel economy targets was irresponsible. In the aftermath, Nichols noted that the agency seemed less inclined to make time for meetings with her organization. It even cancelled discussions the President said had to take place — as Pruitt was busy saying the state should forget about being able to make demands the rest of the country has to adhere to.

Automakers have been dealing with California and non-California (once called “49-state”) vehicle requirements for over forty years; I’m not persuaded that all of a sudden California specs have become a burden.

And if all cars were made to meet California emissions, prices would likely rise a bit, but parts manufacturers presumably would save the cost of double inventories.

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Three hundred ponies

More than once, I thought, it seemed like a stampede.

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Short answer: no

For the umpteenth time, this loser demands: Is my Volvo fast!!?

You can probably imagine what it was like the first time:

Ok. All you have to say is Volvo in your question and some gay *** middle aged mother f*cker is accusing you of saying “1998 Volvo V70 troll” So far Ive asked two questions about Volvo History etc. and some queer is on my *** calling me 1998 volvo v70 troll. Motherf*cker, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that I think this is hilarious and a waste of time for me. If the question You expect bothers You that much, is your imput really needed? So you think that You matter that much as An individual? Lmao ypu must be really lonely pr something. You dont know me. You arent helping. And going anonymous just shows what a pu$$y you are. Undo anonymous and come to me face to face.

Says the anonymous loser.

Here’s what he gets from me:

Troll level: below average. Consistent with a person who doesn’t even actually own the car on which he feels compelled to brag.

You got that, loser?

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With a new all-aluminum cinderblock

Nissan design head Alfonso Albaisa, describing his priorities for the next GT-R:

It’s an animal; it has to be imposing and excessive. Not in terms of its wings, but rather its visual mass, its presence and its audacity… It doesn’t care what every other supercar in the world is doing; it simply says: “I’m a GT-R, I’m a brick, catch me.” It’s the world’s fastest brick, really. And when I review sketches for the new car, I say that a lot: “Less wing, more brick.”

Of course, now what I want to see is this unwieldy beast going around a road course in exactly the way that bricks normally don’t.


The Georgia Patrol was making the rounds

And you probably don’t want to fire a shot just to flag them down, either:

Law enforcement officers in Georgia are ready to put the hammer down on drivers who are hammering down on their gas pedal during the second annual “Operation Southern Shield” speed enforcement operation.

After last year’s highly successful operation that drew national attention, Georgia will join neighboring states in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina in pulling over drivers who are breaking the law by traveling above the legal speed limit on interstates, major highways and local roads from Monday, July 16 through Sunday, July 22.

“Our troopers are dedicated to participating in collaborative enforcement efforts like Operation Southern Shield, that encourages motorists to drive safely and slow down,” said Colonel Mark W. McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “Our main focus this week is reducing crashes and providing a safer transportation experience for motorists traveling in our state.”

This is the second. How did the first one go?

According to preliminary numbers from the Georgia Department of Transportation, the number of traffic deaths reported in the state during last year’s Southern Shield was 35 percent lower than the other three weeks of July.

Specifically, there were 25 traffic deaths reported in Georgia during Operation Southern Shield from July 17-23 compared to 34 on July 3-9, 41 on July 10-16 and 39 from July 24-30.

Troopers with the Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement officers combined to issue 12,469 speeding citations over the seven-day period and took 552 suspected DUI drivers to jail and also made 472 felony arrests.

The one thing I remember about driving in Georgia, something I haven’t done in a decade, is that people really put the hammer down once they cross over into Florida.

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What’s the ugliest car in your garage?

TTAC was asking “What’s the worst-looking car from the year you were born?” I gave this about ten, maybe twenty seconds before deciding on this, um, contraption:

The interior wasn’t bad at all, considering, but whose idea was it to fit front fender skirts? This thing steers like a Kenworth, and requires just about as much space to turn around.

Hideous as it was, Frank Zappa may have loved it. From “The Air” off the Uncle Meat album, the doo-wop tale of a Customs bust:

Yes, they grabbed me then they beat me
Then they told me they don’t like me
And I crashed in my Nash
We can crash in my Nash…

Or you can dial back a couple of years to Cruising with Ruben & the Jets:

RUBEN SANO was 19 when he quit the group to work on his car. He had just saved up enough money to buy a 53 Nash and four gallons of gray primer. His girl friend said she would leave him forever if he didn’t quit playing in the band and fix up his car so they could go to the drive-in and make out. There was already 11 other guys in the band so when he quit nobody missed him except for his car when they had to go to rehearsal or play for a battle of the bands at the American Legion Post in Chino.

Ruben & the Jets, of course, was 100 percent doo-wop, Zappa being a legendary doo-wop fiend. (The latter-day Penguins’ “Memories of El Monte,” a deadly-serious nostalgia piece from 1963, was produced and co-written by Zappa.) Brother Paul, once a member of an aggregation called Eddie Chevy and the Carburetor Kids, honed his doo-wop skills on Ruben & the Jets, especially on the closer, “Later That Night.”

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No, no, Nano

India’s Tata Motors is giving up on its smallest car, the Nano:

Billed as the world’s cheapest car upon its release in 2008, the Indian-market four-door was tailor-made to lure that country’s growing market of would-be vehicle owners off motorcycles and into a car with two cylinders, 37 horsepower, and a rear hatch that didn’t open.

Not unexpectedly, the vehicle quickly developed a stigma.

Cheap? Yes it was. Oh so cheap. Roughly $2,000 a decade ago, but now $3,500.

As the Indian market grew, so did the aspirations of its buyers, and despite new features — an automated manual as an alternative to the four-speed stick, a rear hatch that did open — sales tailed off after 2011, and, says Bloomberg, production last month was, um, one.

Tata will continue to sell Jaguars and Land Rovers, the very antithesis of the Nano.

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In the interest of avoiding malparkage

Joe Sherlock passed along this price list from a parking garage on Fifth Avenue at 59th Street, New York, New York 10153:

59 and 5th parking, NYC

Now this is not some slum:

The General Motors Building, 767 Fifth Avenue, is the crown jewel of the Manhattan skyline located at the southeast corner of Central Park and occupying an entire city block between Fifth and Madison Avenues and 58th and 59th Streets. Its 5th Avenue presence, universal Central Park views, unique marble cladding and modern classic design make it one of the most highly sought after office and retail locations in the world. The Apple “Cube” store on the 5th Avenue plaza has become one of the city’s top tourist attractions and a worldwide retailing phenomenon. Measuring over 2.0 million square feet and 50 stories, this irreplaceable and iconic asset was designed as headquarters location by renowned architect Edward Durell Stone and constructed to the highest specifications exceeding most of the design and infrastructure standards of today’s newest speculative office buildings.

Still, this is a pretty good reason not to own a car in Manhattan. Says Joe:

Note the portion of the sign indicating a premium rate for SUVs and other oversize vehicles 181″ or longer. It should be noted that a 2018 Toyota Corolla compact sedan is 183 inches long.

And so parking your Corolla overnight will run you $71.81 plus $12.67 oversize charge plus $15.84 NYC tax = $100.32.

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You can’t get there from anywhere

In the early 1970s, Interstate 35 through Austin (population 250,000) was an overcrowded mess, and I made a point of avoiding it.

By 2008, I-35 through Austin (population 750,000) was even more overcrowded and more of a mess, and I made a point of avoiding it.

As Austin closes in on one million population, guess what’s planned for I-35?

Interstate 35 on its route through the heart of Austin is notoriously congested, and its traffic is a constant topic of complaints and news coverage. Commuters are desperate for a fix. But a proposal to add miles of new lanes will likely only exacerbate the problems that led to congestion in the first place.

The proposal being put forth by Texas officials would add four new lanes (two in each direction) along approximately 33 miles of I-35 traveling north-south through Austin. The project is the largest piece of a massive $8.1 billion collection of projects up and down I-35 in the Austin area.

If there’s a rule of general application for road projects, it’s simply this: additional traffic lanes will eventually be just as crowded as the lanes they were intended to supplement.

Just as road expansions elsewhere in Texas have failed at reducing congestion — like Houston’s Katy Freeway expansion — any congestion benefits from widening I-35 will likely be short-lived. Austin’s suburbs of Georgetown, north of the city, and San Marcos, south of it, both saw population grow by more than 35 percent from 2010 to 2016. If those cities continue to see population growth as in recent years — which seems likely if encouraged by a wider highway connecting them to Austin — I-35 will quickly fill up with cars once again.

(Via Steve Lackmeyer.)

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Choose your getaway car carefully

It’s a good week for Incompetent Criminals. Could a Honda Element outrun a Ford police interceptor sedan on a 20 mph roll?

He might be serious:

The Honda Element is a 2003 4wd with an automatic transmission. I know that off the line the cop car would probably outrun my Honda, but with the right tires, would I be able to escape from the police interceptor when merging onto a highway assuming a 20 mph roll?

There isn’t enough traction in the world to let the Honda win this race.

And the wise man will remind you: “Even if you can outrun Ford, you can’t outrun Motorola.” They’ll be waiting for you at the next intersection, ready to haul your unworthy keister away.


I told you to slide

If the biggest problem with your car’s seats is that they can’t hear you, Ford has just the design patent for you:

Ford’s patent utilizes a voice input device and touchscreen input device working in unison with an adjustment actuator to control seat movements.

Because “seats are being developed and offered with increasing numbers of moveable portions with increasingly complex or nuanced movements,” it can be difficult to bundle the buttons and switches into a physical control array “in an intuitive manner,” the patent reads.

Ford’s solution allows a user to initiate a seat movement with either a voice command or touchscreen input, and to stop the movement in one of the same ways. Choosing the nature of the seat movement (its adjustment mode) can also be a verbal exchange.

I dunno. I’d worry that one glorious, ripping cheese-cut would smack my breastbone into the steering column.

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Dashed nuisance

I was renewing my car registration using the Tax Commission’s CARS (Convenient Auto Renewal System), and got hung up on the page that asks for your insurance company’s NAIC code, which I had, and policy number, which I also had but which it didn’t like. Cut and paste from the insurance company did not work; apparently CARS is not prepared to handle a policy number with a dash, or maybe it was a hyphen, in it. So much for my efforts to avoid typographical errors.

Oh, and the cost of registration seems to have gone up this year, the state having had to jack all manner of revenue sources to get itself out of its self-inflicted budget hole. (Using the site itself incurs a $2 fee, which rises to $2.70 if you have the temerity to present a credit card. Like they’re going to take PayPal or something.)

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Yet another soap opera

At least this person is, or has been, on meds: Cut a dvla car clamp off my car because I panicked that they where going to sieze it?

Basically I’m usually on antipsychotic medication due to anger problems & the past 3 months have been nothing but cursed, the doctor stopped my medication without warning and would not put them back on without trying to ‘bargain’ with me so I walked out and haven’t been taking medication which I need now, however I hadn’t realized my car wasn’t taxed and woke up to it being clamped about 3 weeks ago, I didn’t have enough money to pay the release fees and they said they will come back and take the car if it’s not payed so I panicked and someone from the street offered to cut it off and I let him and hid the car while I sorted the money out to pay, they then found the car last year and its impounded so I’ve decided I want to give the car up to them now because I need to sort out my medication but I’m scared to go to their office because I don’t want to get in trouble with the police? What do I do

The DVLA is to Britain what the DMV is to most US states. Which makes me wonder if the National Health decided they were spending too much money keeping this silly sod tranquilized.

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French for “double-nickel”

And probably just as futile:

The Macron government’s decision to cut the speed limit on country roads from 90km/h (56mph) to 80 is proving deeply unpopular.

In the government’s defense, they’re not pretending it will save fuel:

A speed-limit cut of 10 km/h on the 400,000km that make up France’s so-called “secondary” network is the government’s latest salvo in its long-running campaign against road deaths.

According to the road safety department of the interior ministry, the measure should save between 300 and 400 lives every year — principally because braking times will be shorter and any accidents that do occur will be less deadly.

That would mean France could resume the historic trend that reduced the number of road deaths by more than 80% since the early 1970s.

This is not a European Union measure; rural speed limits in the EU range from 70 km/h (Sweden) to 100 km/h (Spain, Germany, some others).

But to the rural Frenchman, it’s a bad idea no matter where it comes from:

Polls show that around the country reaction is hostile and suspicious.

Many drivers say the lower speed limit is unnecessary, based on erroneous analysis, and will complicate their daily lives. Some feel it is a cynical ploy to raise more money from fines.

But the most common reaction is that the measure is a typical piece of Parisian bossiness — proof that this supposedly sensitive government of President Emmanuel Macron is every bit as “out of touch” as its predecessors.

Yep. Been there, done that.

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A man of another time

You seldom see guys like this at the dealerships anymore:

My father hated smooth. He liked plain talk and despised euphemism and manipulation, especially among salesmen. He’d fire car salesmen working under him if he caught them lying or even shading the truth to make a sale. “A man that will lie to a customer will lie to you,” he’d say. He looked at every deal brought to him for approval that the buyer didn’t have the credit for as a failed sale and wouldn’t approve them. “Bad for the buyer and worse for the business,” he’d say. “If you let a man buy what he can’t afford on credit, you’re going to be taking the car back and making an enemy. We’re here to get cars off the lot, not see them come back after repossession. A man who can’t make his car payments is a man who can’t maintain his car. A salesman who’s so smooth he’s selling people cars bigger than they can afford is a salesman who’s taking a kickback from the repo man.”

This paragraph ought to be on permanent display at Yahoo! Answers, which is just crammed full of subprime buyers in deep doo-doo.


Living with the Seven Sisters

When your corporate emblem carries an image of the Pleiades, certain things happen:

A long time ago I had a Subaru. I think it was a ’69 model, give or take a year or two. It had 80 HP and got 30 MPG. Gas only cost a quarter, but minimum wage was only $2.25. If memory serves, the car cost $1400 used. I got my parents to buy it for me on the premise that I wasn’t never going to college. I suffered through high school and I was thoroughly sick of school. I drove the shit out of that car, from Ohio to Florida, California, up and down the West Coast, back to Ohio and eventually to Texas where, after being crunched twice and two major engine repairs, I sold it for parts. It was a little tin box, but it went fast enough to keep up on the freeway.

Subaru of America opened its doors (with a kick from Malcolm Bricklin) in 1968, which is a clue. Another is that no Subaru engine was actually rated at 80 bhp until the EA-62, which dates to 1971. (And really, that’s an impressive number of ponies; the Toyota 20R engine in my ’75 Celica was 2.2 liters large, versus the Sube’s 1.3, but delivered only 96 bhp.)

Subarus are very popular here in Oregon. They are especially handy if you go to, or over, the mountains in the winter time. I don’t like them because I suspect the viscous coupling they use to connect the front and rear drive axles is some kind of Japanese bullshit, i.e. a very expensive component that you can’t repair yourself. If it fails the least you can expect is you’ll have to buy a new one from the dealer for half the price of a new car. Of course if it never fails, it’s not a problem. I have no evidence to support any of this, just my feelings on the subject. I suspect that the only cars that use this technology are Subaru and some overpriced German snobmobiles, and being as Chuck rhymes with Cheap, I ain’t spending any money on these kind of gimcracks.

From what I read, the most likely point of failure is the head gasket, which might not be so bad except that the flat-four layout used by almost all Subarus means two gaskets instead of one. (The rest of them use a flat six.) And, as the man says, if it never fails, it’s not a problem.

For what it’s worth, when Trini was working with me, she was driving a latter-day Saturn; she eventually traded it in for a Subaru Impreza. And not the WRX version, either.

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A candidate for drowning

One of these shows up about every other month or so. Either they’re trolling the place, or they’re asking to be thrown out of the house forevermore:

So, I’ve turned 18 just 2 days ago. On my birthday, my father (who is a multi-millionaire) gave me a pathetic Nissan 370z as a birthday gift.

Almost ALL of my friends have Porsches, Audis & BMW Z Convertibles.

And the leader of my group; a daughter of a billionaire is likely getting a Lamborghini or a Ferrari on her birthday next week.

I had made it perfectly clear that I want either a Porsche 911 or Audi TT R8 but that old fart couldn’t afford it and now I’ve ended up with a cheap rice burner and to add insult to the injury, he expect me to say: “Oh, thank you, daddy!” Is this guy for real?

I’m going to a nice, expensive college and he bought me a pathetic Asian trash that you see in tuner culture?

I cried when he unveiled the car at my birthday party in front of all my friends. I was expecting a Porsche and had told ALL of my friends about it, so you can understand my embarrassment. And what else? That fool (who happens to be my dad) thought that I’m just so happy and excited that I’m crying in sheer excitement …

And that’s what the head of our group said before she left: “Lets hope we don’t see you entering the college on your first day in that NISSAN” with a strong emphasis on the word: Nissan.

I’m crying in tears since then. I yelled at Dad and he says he can’t afford a nicer car cause the business is down.

Is money more important than my life and my life?

I cant write anymore because I’m crying so hard right now… I’m not even posting on Facebook.

Facebook thanks you for refusing to spam them.

And if I’m your dad, I’m changing my name and officially disowning you. Hope you enjoy having one of the nicer cars at the community college.

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Ken would wuss out

This is, or at least was, a Barbie Pink Power Wheels Mustang. And then:

Underneath: a modified go-kart chassis and a 240cc (0.24 liter) engine from a Honda CRF 230 dirt bike.

Inevitably, this would take place:

The scary part is not so much that it goes zero to sixty in 9.4 seconds, but that it goes zero to sixty at all.

(Via @JenLucPiquant.)

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Take the fricking bus

This is why teenagers should never be given cars:

When I was 17, my parents bought me a car. I did pay for some of it at the time, and I made payments (a couple hundred dollars a month) until I literally had no money left, and my parents told me to stop.

Fast forward, I’m now 23. I pay upkeep on the car, gas, etc. My mom is now trying to claim that this car is her car and that I’ve just been borrowing it for the last 6 years. She randomly takes my car and refers to it as my car only using quotations (like “your car”). The car is registered in her name because of insurance (they still pay for my 28 year old brother’s insurance. He was also given a car that they technically bought for my great grandfather that he got when my GGF died but that’s his car. And that car is registered under my dad’s name so essentially the same situation). She says that before I can move out, I have to pay full price for the car ($18,000 or so) and claims I never gave her a cent for it. As it is, KBB says the car is only worth $3,500 MAX. My dad won’t say anything but he has admitted to me that she’s being ridiculous. However, he refuses to do or say anything.

Do I have any legal right to my car?

Sue her. The trial will be over after one question:

“Whose name is on the title?”

At which time you hand your mom your set of keys, move out of the house, and never, ever return.


Do not look my way

Misinformed Quora user pontificates: Why are there no laws to ban car dash cams? It is a breach of my rights to be recorded without permission.

He got shot down quickly enough:

It is not a breach of your rights for someone to record video of you in a public space. You have no right to privacy on a city street, therefore anyone may take a picture of you or video of you without your permission and they do not have to erase the picture or video of you taken in a public space with or without your permission if you ask them to.

You do realize that your picture or video is taken by CCTV security cameras an average of 75 times a day in the US? That is, if you live in a city and aren’t a total recluse. Pretty much every cash register has a video camera that is recording. The gas pump has a camera. Walmart has cameras everywhere, except the bathrooms. The streets have cameras. Even your neighbor might have a camera. Cop cars have dash cams.

Now this answer is US-oriented, though you have to figure that if the questioner is a Brit, he’s several times more likely to be within range of some sort of security cam at any given moment.

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A car without so much rat in it

Non-petroleum-based plastics! You gotta love ’em. There’s just this one little problem:

Shortly after the dawn of the new millennium, automakers started implementing bio-plastics made from corn starch, genetically engineered bacteria, or vegetable fats and oils. The rationale for this was that sustainably sourced materials were better for the environment and lowered dependency on petrochemicals. Unsurprisingly, bio-plastics gained in popularity at roughly the same time as ethanol.

Since at least 2010, soy-based bio-plastics have been a popular alternative for wiring insulation in automobiles. But there’s a problem — rodents love how it tastes. This has allegedly resulted in a surprisingly high number of owners reporting that rats chewed through the wiring inside their automobile.

While the problem isn’t entirely new, the frequency of the incidents appears to have been spurred by automakers using more palatable materials. In fact, the issue has grown so bad in recent years, numerous lawsuits have cropped up demanding manufacturers pay for damages.

And repairing a wiring harness is something you DIY at your own peril. What to do?

Our favorite reoccurring recommendation involves coating every single centimeter of wiring with hot sauce on a weekly basis.

That’s a whole lot of hot sauce. And it’d be just your luck, you end up with a strain of rats that live on sriracha.

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Roads to be shared

Not too long from now, women in Saudi Arabia will be legally permitted to drive. It is by no means difficult to find men who have a problem with this:

“You will not be driving,” says the hashtag.

“Hold my beer,” say Saudi women, who generally don’t actually drink beer:

To the chap quoted at the top: It is not wise to mess with a woman who aspires to, and perhaps already owns, a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen.

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The unbearable being of lightness

It’s not Jack Baruth. Not yet, anyway:

The fact of the matter is that it’s almost impossible to cut a 2014 Accord Coupe down to 2,700 pounds without fuel, particularly after you put in a rollcage, and that’s what I would need to cross the scales at three K flat. If I could manage it, however, I’d likely stretch my margin of victory even further. You wouldn’t know it to look at 2018’s “performance car” market, but weight is the senior partner in what we call the power-to-weight ratio. It’s why Robert Kubica willingly cut muscle to lose 13 pounds for the 2008 F1 season; there was no more fat for him to lose, but the stopwatch doesn’t care if you’re pulling fat, muscle, fuel, or depleted uranium.

Losing weight isn’t always a struggle of Kubica-esque proportions. I lost a full three pounds off my combined bike-and-rider weight recently by switching to a titanium frame with carbon fork. I could have made the same gains by ordering a smaller filet on weekend nights but there’s no joy in that. Porsche took a few ounces off the 911 GT3RS by putting stickers on the car in place of little plastic logos. They even got to charge more for it.

Porsche charges extra for two kinds of options: (1) those that improve performance, and (2) those that don’t. The Cayenne that tried to clamber into my lane Monday afternoon was probably jammed full of (2)s.


Slightly overbought

This cry came in from Quora, and I spent a little more time on it as a result:

The car was listed at $14,400. I have 620 FICO and no co-sign. APR is 14.94%. The total sale price is $27,979.44. Am I being fooled by the car dealership? If so, what should I do?

“Fooled” seemed unlikely, but another explanation seemed less so, so I came back with:

How long is this loan for? You’re obviously getting a subprime rate, which is commensurate with a 620 credit score. You might want to read over the contract to see if you’re paying extra for stuff like gap insurance (a good thing), extended warranty (not such a good thing), and weird dealer fees for which you’re getting no good explanation.


Loan term is 72 months. Only thing that stands out is “ETHOS GROUP VSC” for $4,000. The lady told me it was for the warranty after I asked that the car(2015 Honda Civic) was still covered under manufacturer warranty.

Okay, maybe there was a bit of foolery going on. I saw my chance, and I ran with it:

The basic Honda warranty is 3 yrs/36,000 miles, so this is actually an extended warranty. (It’s not offered by Honda itself, which is a dead giveaway.) Hondas aren’t especially fragile at this age … you might want to check with the warranty issuer to see if it can be canceled.

As it turns out, it can, and she says she plans to do exactly that. I guess this is my good deed for the week.

Disclosure: Last time I got a car loan, a decade and a fraction ago, I was running a 642 and got hit with a 10.4-percent interest rate. On the upside, I put down about 44 percent of the purchase price, and I paid off the 48-month note almost half a year early. I haven’t checked with FICO lately, but one of my card issuers monitors TransUnion for me, and they give me a 790 or so.

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Semi-sweet roadblock

Actually, it probably wasn’t sweet at all, but just the sound of it creates music in the brain:

Drivers on the way to the Polish capital of Warsaw on Wednesday morning found the road blocked by an unusual impediment: tons of liquid chocolate that spilled onto the A2 motorway.

A tanker carrying the sweet load hit a road barrier and overturned, blocking two lanes. The ruptured tank spewed a pool of rapidly-hardening chocolate from both ends, which quickly covered the width of the road. While the driver has been taken to the hospital with a broken arm, firefighters are struggling to remove a reported 12 tons of solid chocolate from the roadway.

A representative for the firefighters told local news source TVN24 that scraping up the bittersweet barricade was worse than dealing with snow, a bold statement coming from chilly Poland. After contacting the chocolate manufacturer, the firefighters resorted to spraying hot, pressurized water to melt the sticky roadblock, while the New York Times reports that a bulldozer has been spotted scraping away.

(Via American Digest.)

Comments (1)

I wonder what this guy drives

A TTAC article about possible buyer confusion among hybrid-car shoppers prompted this rejoinder from a chap who does not recommend this class of vehicle:

Just stay the hell away from hybrids. Worst of both worlds as far as I’m concerned. They have generally been slow testosterone killing machines that suck the very life out of you as you drive to your destination. And worse still, they cost you more upfront then you’ll ever make back in fuel savings.

Flat out, hybrids are a scam. You really want to save money? You really don’t care what you drive so long as you get from point A to point B? Get any used econobox. There is no advantage at all to a hybrid.

I submit that “slow testosterone killing machines” really needs a dash somewhere.

What does he drive? I have a feeling he has a pickup truck — with a six-cylinder engine, because his wife wouldn’t let him have a V8.

Comments (5)

This goes for you rich dudes too

Lamborghini made a total of 40 Centenarios, a limited-edition supercar with a price tag in the general neighborhood of $2 million. And all 40 of them have a safety issue, kinda sorta:

According to the NTSB filing, initially spotted by CarScoops, all 40 of the limited edition cars have been mistakenly slapped with labels that give the wrong gross vehicle weight rating. That’s it.

The recall, which affects 11 Centenarios residing in the United States, states that an “overloaded vehicle may increase the risk of suspension or tire failure, increasing the risk of a crash.”

Got that, guys? You may not want to haul drywall in the Lambo, at least not without weighing it.

Comments (1)

As if

“There must be some kind of way out of here,” said the Yahoo! Answers loser: “How do I get out of an auto loan on a car that cost more than its worth to fix major problems?”

Like the bank is going to feel sorry for him:

I own a 10 year old Audi that I still owe $7,460 to the bank and it needs around $4,600 of MAJOR mechanical work done to it. if I don t get the car fixed it will die very soon. The car still runs but Ive taken it to 5 different mechanics the Audi Dealer being one of them, and they all came up with the same report and money to fix it. The car itself is only worth $6,000. So the question I have, is there a way to get out of my loan free and clear because of the numbers and situation? I dont want to do a voluntary repo and I own way to much on it to trade it in. So is there a special process banks can do for these kind of situations, or am I just stuck. It just cost WAY TO MUCH to fix it for what it s worth, the age and what I owe on it.

“Free and clear”? You write a check to the bank for $7,460. There is literally no other way to do this without Terrible Consequences.

You never hear plaintive wails like this from people who own ’99 Corollas.

Comments (3)