April showers bring May speeding tickets

“I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters: not the mortgage, not the store, not my team and all their bullshit. For those ten seconds or less, I’m free.” – Dom, Fast and Furious

Threatened with losing my license, last year I had to attend a driver retraining program due to one two many speeding tickets on my record. One I attempted (and failed) to dispute in court, and all of those tickets were due to driving about 10 miles over the speed limit, which many cops not concerned about their quotas would happily laugh away.

Now, I must say that the course was the biggest waste of money I have ever spent.

The “teacher” was rude, bitter, and clearly lacked knowledge in basic Massachusetts motor vehicle laws, as she stumbled on her responses to legal questions people were inquiring about, making point to say “my job isn’t to teach you the law.”

Cell phone usage was strictly prohibited, and violators would be kicked out of the classroom and required to pay for the course again. When I started to twiddle my pen in my fingers on my lap, she came to me with dead eyes and said “text one more time and your out of here”. I promptly took my phone out of my back pocket and smugly proclaimed “I wasn’t texting. This has been off and in my pocket the whole time.”

She apologized a couple times and went on with her horrid ramblings.

It was only when she started to speak about why people like to speed that my interest was piqued. “It’s fun,” and “I’m always late” were the common answers.

But when i stopped to think about why I like speed, I couldn’t help but instantly think of Dominic Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) famous line from the matriarch of the “Fast” franchise.

There’s something about hitting a turn at high speed or overtaking a car going 100 mph that really fills me with adrenaline. And honestly, sometimes that adreline is strangely the only way I can get calm. It’s such a freeing experience knowing that I’m in control, and the roads I take in my life are all up to me.

Of course, naturally I never spoke those words to my “teacher”. Until now, that feeling has been something i’ve kept strictly inside.

Still, even though it is indeed freeing for me to drive like, lets face it, an asshole, I do need to avoid any more tickets.

Advertisements

Change your own damn oil: PT 2

I recently had a post titled “Change your own damn oil”, where I spoke about the importance of doing the job yourself compared to going to Jiffy Lube (aka hell on earth).

However, I didn’t focus much on the actual process of changing your oil.

If you’re still feeling clueless about how the job is actually done, check out this awesome video tutorial below!

How to change a flat tire

Embed from Getty Images

There’s nothing I love more than driving around with the windows down, drinking my tea, and singing (poorly) along to Pharrel’s “Happy” on the radio. That is, until a vicious encounter with a hidden pothole makes me the opposite of Pharrel’s hit jam.

Normally when this happens I just splutter a few expletives, hope I didn’t damage the car, and go on my merry way. But occasionally, I hear that dreaded thump that means only one thing: I have a flat.

Honestly, It’s really not that difficult to change a tire. It’s more of a pain in the ass than anything, especially when you’re dressed nice and you just got your nails done.

But I was honestly shocked at how many of my female friends have absolutely no clue how to change their tires.

So, if you find yourself in the same spot, check out this blogger’s post about how to successfully change your tire. This post does a fantastic job in outlying the steps that are required in order to do the job right.

The post does mention that you may need to pry off the hubcap, but this is only on some vehicles that make it difficult to get to the lug nuts. For my car, for instance, all i need to do is twist off my lug nut covers and then use a tire iron to remove the lug nuts. Don’t pointlessly rip off your rims.

If you don’t already have a car jack and tire iron stored in your car, I would highly suggest investing in that. I keep both stored in the trunk with my spare tire just in case the situation arises where I need to fix my own flat or help out a more unprepared friend with theirs.

It’s better to be prepared. After all, if you’re a woman the last thing you’re going to want to deal with is being stranded in a sketchy place (I’d rather not be kidnapped, thanks).

It would be best to practice taking off your tire and putting it back on at home when you get a chance. This will get you familiarized with the process, and you can get back on the road A LOT quicker.

Still a pain in the ass, but feel free to reward yourself with a nice drink later!

 

In Memoriam: Ford Mustang, 1964-2014

Embed from Getty Images

It is with great sadness that I must announce the end of not only a friend of mine, but an era. For years, she set the standard for what an American muscle car should be:  intimidating, powerful, and, above all else, mean.

She had been the apple of my eye since childhood, and was my main goal throughout my teenage years.

But now she no longer exists. She is lost to us, stranded in the echelons of cliched curvature and design.

A new car emerges from her absence that dares to take on the title of “Mustang”, yet we, lovers of Mustangs all over, know exactly what has replaced her: the Ford Fusion coupe (seen below).

Embed from Getty Images

As paining as the loss of our once glorious Mustang is, her memory shall indeed still live in the hearts and minds of owners and lovers everywhere. So today, I leave with you all a visual reminder of her days, and hope with you all that one day, Ford will bring the Mustang back to it’s former, unique glory.

Farewell, my once loyal friend… I knew thee well.

Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images

We want *YOU* to buy American!

Every political campaign that I have seen within the last six years or so always seems to center around one point: jobs.

We either don’t have enough of them in the country, or we are giving them away to illegal immigrants for pennies on the dollar. Jobs this, jobs that, how to create more jobs… blah blah blah. You all know the spiel as well as I do.

If you’ve come across my blog before, you’re probably wondering why I, a self-proclaimed vehicle ignoramus, is here talking about jobs and politics. Honestly… I’m kind of wondering the same thing too actually. I’m still on the first season of ‘Game of Thrones‘ for crying out loud – clearly my priorities are all jumbled!

Well, to be serious, it’s a subject I take close to heart.

Those cars that I rant on and on about are all connected to jobs. Even though assembly lines have become a lot more mechanical, factories are still stock full of workers who do a variety of essential tasks. And it’s those same essential Detroit workers who have been for years laid off all over the fucking place.

America pioneered the entire automotive industry, yet we find our major automakers in need of Government bailouts? How is this even possible?

Sure, there were plenty of misguided business decisions along the way, but ultimately, theres one reason why our automotive industry has fallen behind:

America, you aren’t buying American cars. 

Yeah, I’m talking to you… little Miss or Mister “Oh I love my brand new Honda Civic! It’s the most dependable car on the road!”

I have to hold back my vomit anytime I hear words along these lines.  Yes, the rivalry between people who prefer domestic cars to those who prefer foreign is as old as the Yankees vs. the Redsox. And yes, it is true that for a good portion of the 90’s and early 2000’s, Japanese automakers did indeed create a better car.

They advanced their technology in ways that left American automakers behind, and everyone it seemed owned a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord.

But with all these people purchasing foreign cars, the American industry wained. I feel shame in the fact that Chrysler is now owned by the same Italian automaker that made this thing:

Times have gotten better, as now Ford and Chevrolet are pumping out not only absolutely beautiful cars, but also dependable ones. But if we are to see our only remaining American automakers survive, we need to purchase American cars. By letting them falter, we are simply just flushing American jobs down the shitter.

Choose wisely, invest in America, and long live Ford and GM.

 

WTF Wednesday: Brake Calipers

I previously attempted to feature new insight into wheels and how they work with “Wheels Wednesday”.

But in all honesty, it was a lazy attempt, not to mention a monotonous one. So for now on (aka for as long as I remember) I’ll be doing “WTF Wednesday” instead.

I often come across many part names and concepts about cars that honestly, I just don’t know what the fuck they are. So I’m going to research these foreign concepts and share with you all my new found knowledge. I feel it my duty to let you all know just what the fuck these concepts are so that we can all be a little more fucking knowledgeable about cars.

Oh, and I may be a little late but…

CAUTION: F-bombs ahead. Proceed to fallout shelter. 

But just like my parents would say… less swearing, more learning.

So without further adieu, I present to you all…

Image

… this weird, red… thing.

These are called brake calipers. And judging by the title of this blog post, I’m sure most of you already figured that out.

Now, this may be because I’m female, but I always assumed that calipers were more or less a fashion statement for your car. Just like we bring a pop of color to our outfits with bold, statement necklaces, guys bring a little color to their wheels by the means of calipers. So I, looking to add a pop of color to my ride, set out to purchase a pair of bright blue calipers to compliment my car’s dark gray exterior.

Imagine my surprise to find out that calipers have absolutely nothing to do with fashion. And actually, they’re an extremely important component of the car.

Our car’s calipers are more or less responsible for our ability to brake. They create friction with the rotor of the wheel (what makes it spin), which slows it down.

Howstuffworks.com explained it best:

The brake caliper fits over the rotor like a clamp. Inside each caliper is

a pair of metal plates bonded with friction material — these are called brake pads. The outboard brake pads are on the outside of the rotors (toward the curb) and the inboard brake pads on the inside (toward the vehicle). When you step on the brake, brake fluid from the master cylinder creates hydraulic pressure on one or more pistons in the brake caliper, forcing the pads against the rotor. The brake pads have high-friction surfaces and serve to slow the rotor down or even bring it to a complete halt. When the rotor slows or stops, so does the wheel, because they’re attached to one another.

That color we see is actually from the caliper cover, not the caliper itself. Their purpose is to protect the car from brake dust. Not too many cars come equipped with them, and typically you see them most on sports cars.

You can purchase them aftermarket, but expect the same sticker shock that I did when I searched for them. Almost $200? Are you kidding me? If you’re looking for just the color and not really the protection, then purchase a specific spray paint to give your calipers some pizazz.

Oh, and it’s actually affordable. 

Enjoy your new knowledge, and have a great day everyone!

Change your own damn oil

Embed from Getty Images

My daddy dearest texted me a few days ago to let me know that “the pony is going to need an oil change soon.” So, I need to go out and buy a new oil filter and oil? Fantastic!

The only plus side to that text message was that for once my dad wasn’t asking me to pick up his coffee and k-cups after work…  A futile request that he knows I will absolutely forget 80% of the time. And why he never stops after leaving his own work remains a mystery to me.

Well, not even two days after receiving that message, my car alerted me to the fact that it soon will need an oil change, and only one reasonable explanation can come forth from this: my dad is the car whisperer.

But I digress!

Truthfully, I must admit that I have never truly changed my own oil. My dad is the go-to man for that in my immediate family, and he takes care of all five of our vehicles personally. He’s always been insistent on doing the job at home by hand, rather than paying someone else to do it. Mention anything about bringing a car to Jiffy Lube to my father and he may just have a mental breakdown.

Well, not everyone shares his (and utimately, our) sentiments. Ivy, a blogger at home-ec101.com, makes the argument in her blog post that changing your own oil is simply a waste.

The regular price for an oil change at the shop I used to work at is currently $18.90. You can often find coupons for $14.90, and occasionally they have coupons for $12.90. They are set up to do oil changes very quickly, with an oil pit down below or at least on a lift. The guys that worked the oil change bay frequently could complete an oil change in about 5 minutes most of the time … Compare that to changing the oil yourself. You have to buy ramps to drive your car up on, an oil wrench, plus you have to buy the oil at about $2.50 per bottle (I’m not 100% certain on this. I haven’t bought oil by the bottle in over 7 years, but my husband who drives a car that has a slight oil leak says this is what oil costs) and an oil filter for between $6 and $10. Consider that the average car requires about 5 quarts of oil and just the oil and filter is going to run more than the coupon price.

True, it can be a little pricier, but my dad’s insistence on doing the job himself isn’t all about the cost. And actually, plenty of automotive part stores, such as Advance Auto Parts, offer bundle deals on oil change kits. You mostly always can get some money off of the filter when you purchase the oil at the same time, as well. But honestly, you could go to a shop or do it yourself, and it still is going to generally be pretty affordable.

The true reason as to why my dad prefers to do the job himself is simple: he has absolutely no trust for shops.

Anytime you go to Jiffy Lube or a similar shop, you run the risk of leaving with more than just a simple oil change. Suddenly all of a sudden that greasy guy working on your car is telling you that you are going to need a new air filter as well, and he’s offering to put a new one in for you for the low price of $50. And if you care anything about your car, then you’re willing to just pay for it right then and there to get it out of the way.

NBC affiliate Channel 4 of Southern California actually investigated into this very matter in order to get some answers in a very eye-opening segment.

They brought an early 2000’s Lexus to a Jiffy Lube for a routine oil change that was advertised as $27.99, and left with a bill over $700.

The mechanic, associate, or whatever the hell you call them at Jiffy Lube told the customer that his Lexus required premium synthetic oil, which alone tripled the price of the oil change. However, Lexus‘s standards for the car state that normal oil works fine.

Then, on top of that, they convinced the customer to let them do a bunch of little repairs on the car, ultimately bringing the price up to that shocking $700 range.

One of my friends is a former employee at Jiffy Lube, and I honestly would never in a million years let him drive my car, let alone work on it. Most of the people hired at these places have little experience (like my friend), and are prone to error. I’ve heard countless stories from friends and family members of oil changes gone wrong, where a screw was missing or they just completely messed something up, leading to hundreds of dollars worth in repairs.

Complex.com noted this problem in a slideshow where they explained the top 10 reasons why you should never go to Jiffy Lube, reason #4 being “new hires aren’t required to have any previous knowledge about cars”.

The entire reason you’re probably taking your car to a garage for an oil change is because you don’t know anything about car maintenance. So why would you leave your car with somebody who has the exact same amount of experience that you do? This is a fact direct from a former Jiffy Lube worker, as he explained you don’t need any education or prior experience to work here. You just need to show up and be numb enough to be able to rip off unsuspecting customers.

My dad has more knowledge about cars in his pinky than these employees have in their entire body. And ultimately, he knows the value of these cars. Those guys working at Jiffy Lube and similiar places are working for a paycheck and can’t wait to leave and go home – they don’t actually care about your vehicle. By doing the job yourself, you’re ensuring that not only is it done right, but with care.

And ultimately, care is what my dad puts into every vehicle he maintains.

This year, I’m going to try to do my own oil change for the first time, using my dads instructions and a little help from the internet. There are plenty of sites, such as Edmunds, that will guide you into how exactly the process is done. And honestly, it doesn’t sound too bad.

So this year, unless it’s too cold and my cowardice stops me from braving it, I’m taking matters into my own hand and getting  the job done myself.

Those guys at the Jiff can save their speech for another ignorant soul, and, hopefully, you’ll be smart enough now to not let it be you.