Battle Damage

Recently the area in which I reside had experienced this seasons first significant snowfall. Shoveled a lot more of it than I cared to as well. With a significant amount of snowfall comes the bad driving conditions because even when at full turn out levels the state/county/city plow trucks wont be able to keep up. Inevitably, this will result in accidents because there’s always the guy who has to be on the road and in a hurry.  As my paint and body guy says, “winter will always keep me in business.”

As I drive from point A to B now I will see at least one person driving around with some form of damage. I understand that the body garage is backed up with work or more likely you have to wait for the part(s) to show up. I get it, I’ve been there. What I don’t get though, is why anyone would think that driving around with a bumper or quarter panel barely hanging on is a good idea. When my truck was damaged and I had to wait a couple of days for replacement pieces to show up I removed part of the front end. Let me explain why.

Vehicle manufacturers go through extensive research  in order to develop aerodynamics into their products. Once you compromise the outline or contour of the vehicle you sacrifice that aerodynamic flow and as a result the performance of the vehicle as well. Removing the damaged part will help restore some of that aerodynamic flow. Leaving the damaged part on the vehicle to potentially flap around while you drive is as good as having up to 20% of your breaks applied while driving. I could pontificate further about the wear and tear that is being exacted on your vehicle as a result of this, but I have other points to make.

Let’s meow examine this from a safety stand point. The DOT of the state in which I currently reside says  that the damaged piece only has to be secured to the vehicle. It does not define by the manner in which it has to be secured. I have seen everything from tie downs, zip ties, duct tape, come-alongs, and bungee cords being used to secure damaged pieces. This is a bunch of BS. Most of the time the damaged piece is improperly “secured” or the means by which it is being held quickly breaks itself and the driver of said vehicle is either igornant of the danger the are now to other motorists or just don’t give a damn.

Honestly I could care less if you want to screw up the performance of your own vehicle. That’s on you. Where I do take umbrage is when people drive around with something that equates to a drag chute barely hanging onto the vehicle. There is now the possibility that it could break off and at the minimum cause damage to my vehicle, but also cause an accident and injury to myself, any passenger I may have with me, and other motorists and their passengers as well. What I would like to see happen more often is police officers pulling these shmucks over and issuing them a safety violation similar to how they do to people who ignore a burnt out headlight.



Brand Spankin New

I think I can safely say that everybody loves to open up something that is “factory sealed” new. As in mint condition. At least I do anyway. Let’s start with what I consider top of the list.

Fresh off the line cars are the best. They haven’t been road or weather worn. Providing the vehicle isn’t a lemon they are in pristine condition usually with less than 10 miles on them when they roll off the delivery truck. Lets put aside everything about how it looks and operates. The smell is where its at. Nothing beats the smell of a brand new car. That “new car” smell stuff they sell doesn’t cut it either.

A recent experience of getting something brand new that I had enjoyed was getting a brand new pack of boxers. “A set of freshies”, to quote one of the pharmacists I’m normally partnered with. Have to go agree his assessment is on point. A set of freshly laundered BVD’S is fantastic, but when its fresh from the pack and untainted by anything is even better. Combine that with just getting out of the shower and you’ll feel like a million bucks.

Although one can argue that snow technically isn’t new I’m going to run with it here. One of the best parts of winter is a fresh blanket of the white stuff on the ground. (No I am not talking about Bolivian Shale.) It enhances the mood for this time of year and if your like me and equipped with snow blowing equipment you can turn the white into green.

One thing brand new out of the box I know that most people don’t like is a deck of cards. They are normally slick and thus make them difficult to manage. I’ve listened to my poker playing friends complain about them enough in the past, a couple of whom are professional dealer at the local casino. I have also listened to magician Penn Jillette explain about how he likes to get card decks worked in/conditioned to a certain point when performing certain tricks.



Optimal Operating Temperature

Finally the cold weather has arrived with a vengeance. It is at this point that I am confident that most people have forgotten some basic things to do when venturing out into the cold. One of the first things that popped into my head other than pulling out more of my cold weather clothing was proper start up procedure for my truck.

Most people have no clue that you vehicle has an optimal running temperature for the engine. I don’t care what the mechanic told you, I don’t care what the dealership told you, and I don’t care what you found out about your cars engine oil from your research. You cannot just start you vehicles engine and start driving in cold weather. It is a sure fired way to cause damage.

Every vehicle is equipped with a temperature read out. If you don’t know how to read it break out the manual and start reading. At the minimum the temperature gauge should have some sort of reading on it before you even think about putting your vehicle in drive and going. Preferably you let the engine running long enough so that it is near normal running temperatures.

The reason I implore this is that despite the manufactures claim of the oil will stick to the engines critical parts it’s still needs to be at a specific temperature in order for it to function at its correct viscosity. Otherwise you might as well pour duck soup into the engine.

Before anyone bitches about how they don’t want to run outside in the cold to start their engine just shut your mouth now. They make remote starters for most makes and models and they run as cheap as $100. Bust out that credit card and get on it.

Not From Around These Parts

So today I witnessed what was almost a really bad accident.  Let me explain…

After leaving the restaurant we had dinner with my parents at I was in line behind a car that had their lights off yet. I didn’t think much of it as some people just don’t turn their lights on until they merge into traffic. I don’t get that and I think its a bad idea, but whatever. However, as we stopped at the next light  the lights had not come on yet So I flashed my high beams at them.

We continue on in traffic and at least half a dozen cars in the opposing lanes flash their lights at them as well. During the transit to the turn to get on the highway I would see the driver turn on their map light in the vehicle and fidget with their GPS or phone. Now I know their not from the area and are trying to figure out where they are going.

So as we get to the turn said car in front of me proceeds to make it and heads down the exit side of the ramp instead of the entrance side. The only reason there wasn’t an accident is because there were no cars exiting from the highway and no one exited until the idiot driver had turned themselves around.

I think they got the clue when they had a whole line of cars honking at them. At no point in time before I exited the area did their lights come on.

The moral of the story here is to pay attention to what the hell you are doing especially when you are in an area unfamiliar to you. There is zero excuse to not be using a mandatory safety feature of your vehicle especially when other peoples lives are at stake.

Drivers Liscense Retest

Aside from a freshly minted driver and discounting the obvious dangers there are when you intoxicated or texting while driving I would say the next most dangerous group driving are the elderly. Before anyone decides to get high and mighty on me and start throwing he ageist term around hear me out.

Every time I have to go anywhere further than a mile from my home I will come across a senior driver whom for whatever reason drift from side to side of their lane. Now, I know that any vehicle will just by the nature of physics drift a little, but these said drives are drifting feet not inches. What’s worse is sometimes its into the emergency shoulder, the next lane, or worse yet opposing lane of traffic. They will correct quickly, but there will come a time where that’s a day late and a dollar short.

It is a fact of life that as we age even with preventative exercise and vitamins your reaction speed will diminish. Which is why I want the elderly retested when they have to renew their license’s every so many years. I am aware that peoples doctors can revoke their licenses for a variety of medical reasons, but physicians are more empts to hand out a handicapped tag before they’ll revoke or suspend someone’s license.

I can dig up plenty of newspaper articles to back my logic and I have a few personal experiences with older family members to back me up as well. I know a lot of people will point out that driving is sometimes seniors only form of independence left but I will ask if their life or another’s life is really worth the potential accident they could create. I will also hold my maternal grandfather up as a shining example of the ideal situation. As he aged he realized that his reaction time was slowing and even with the aid of glasses eye sight was diminishing. So as time went on he would restrict when and where he would drive. Finally one day he would stop driving altogether. Never asked him to surrender his license, just knew it was a good idea to drive unless there was no other choice.

Want v. Need: Vehicles

I find that people more and more now have no clue what the difference between a want and a need are. Just to clarify a want is something you desire, but don’t have to have. A need is something that is necessary and you can’t do without.

For this specific want vs. need discussion I am talking about vehicles. Let’s start with the fact that not everyone needs a vehicle. If you live a city or metro area where there is an excellent infrastructure in place with multiple forms of public transportation one does have to ask themselves if they really do need to own a vehicle of some kind.

The area in which I live in does have a daily bus service, but the schedule is haphazard at best and does not have 24 hour service. Thus it makes a vehicle a need and not a want which brings me too my next point. If you live in an area where a vehicle is a necessary part of life take care of the damn thing.

I see vehicles on the road on a daily and wonder how they pass inspection. What confuses me even more is peoples inability to properly prioritize what should be fixed/working on their vehicle. I’m not going to sit here and run through every single thing, but ill try and water it down a bit. Engine, breaks, tires, and exhaust should be top priority. Body/frame would be next in the line up. Everything beyond that to, me anyway, is just icing on the cake.

Let me put it this way. If your sound system or low profile tires and spinner rims cost more than the value of your vehicle you priorities are messed up.

Putt Putt Bang Bang Cough Sputter

If your vehicle makes any of those noises on a regular basis please seek the assistance of a mechanic ASAP.

There are three things in life in which in order to have some bare minimum of comfort throughout the day I suggest investing a little more money than usual in.

1. Shoes/sneakers/boots

2. Mattress

3. Vehicle

Ill lecture more on 1 and 2 another time. For today I wish to focus on 3.

I don’t care if you purchase a shit box of a vehicle to start with, but I expect it to be cleaned up and fixed a little bit. If you can’t accomplish this or can’t maintain a vehicle over time sell it and take the bus.

While traveling home today I witnessed a black Jetta pass me with a really nice set of tires. (How nice you ask? Well after Googling the make and partial type number I saw and consulting with a car enthusiast friend I found out they were $400 per tire.) However, that was the only nice part of the car. Please don’t get me wrong, always invest in a good set of tires, but if the cost of the set is more than the value of the rest of the vehicle……you done fucked up.

Although the muffler was attached and in good working order the final two feet of pipe sticking out was actually steam pipe with the emergency release cap still attached. The paint, clearly failing in several spots. The front bumper was a sight to see. It was being held on by bungee cords, zip ties, duct tape, and what I am pretty sure was a hanger. When I looked inside the vehicle the rear passenger seat was missing and I’m fairly certain that a majority of the passenger side dashboard was gone as well.

Although none of that constitutes any real safety issues I fairly certain it would not pass muster at inspection. How this person isn’t embarrassed by said vehicle either.