The Pros and Cons of Spoilers

Mehta_Spoilers

Adding a rear or chin spoiler is one of the necessary accessories for many drivers. What are the benefits? Some just prefer the look and consider it an extra dosage of muscle in the Pony. Of course, spoilers are “supposed” to add performance to the car, but whether or not any downforce is added is up for debate. Some pros say yes, some say no, so it’s up to what research strikes your fancy – but really, it’s what you think of the look.

One thing to consider is whether or not your specific model is “supposed” to have a spoiler. Some cars, like the 2008 Shelby GT, have ducktail spoilers made by Shelby for Shelby. Other models come straight from the manufacturer with a low wing rear spoiler. There are some enthusiasts who belong to the camp of believing only real Ford Mustang parts belong on these machines. On the other hand, there are others who enjoy thinking outside the box and are up for creating a one of a kind powerhouse with whatever spoiler floats their boat.Mehta_Spoilers2

The Downside

Adding the “wrong” spoiler will not negatively impact the performance of a car. However, choosing to modify a Mustang with a spoiler obviously costs money. Prices of spoilers can range drastically, so it’s important to do a little research to find one that fits a budget. More importantly, adding a spoiler – especially one that is not made specifically for a particular Mustang model – might make a difference when (or if) it comes time to sell. Will the new owner be a fan of your choice?

What Some Fans Say

Regardless of what you believe, the “real” reason spoilers were born was to increase a car’s grip on the road. How much downforce a car has is extremely important in the racing world and most of the time the only thing keeping a Mustang on a track is the weight of the car. One way to help with grip is to increase the weight of the car – but that negatively impacts how a Pony performs in turns. Spoilers are basically upside down airplane wings that are meant to add grip without the added weight. Does it work? That’s up to you to decide.

Options Abound

So, you’ve decided a spoiler is a right option for you. Now comes the tough part – there are seemingly limitless spoilers out there. Cobra styles come with or without lights. Maybe you want to replace that factory low wing rear spoiler with an F-40 high wing spoiler with a red light. An AIT racing spoiler is a popular option for drivers looking to improve on the track. No matter what you decide, remember that spoilers require some serious changes to the car (like holes in the trunk), so choose wisely.

7 Things Every New Car Owner Needs

Taking a set of keys from a dealer or seller and stepping into a new car is an exciting moment. That first time you start the engine, the bond is set, and the car is now yours. You drive it home and that’s it, right?

It very well could be. But many things would not only make your car more personalized but can be essential in providing a much better driving or riding experience in the years ahead.

Roadside Emergency Kit

The last thing that someone wants to think about when driving away in a new car is dealing with a roadside breakdown. They might be uncommon, but they happen. One of the best ways to help keep some peace of mind and reduce the worry is to be prepared with a roadside assistance kit or a car-specific. Most of these are no larger than a small backpack and, sometimes, can be stored with your spare tire.

Car First Aid Kit

Chances are, you have some sort of first aid kit somewhere in your house or your outdoor equipment. If you don’t, you need to. Just like the roadside kit, this small pouch can be stored out of the way. However, if you ever need any of its contents, it might be the only place it’s available. Plus, keeping one specifically for the car means the inventory of band-aids and supplies won’t be out when you need them since they were used at home.

Jumper Cables

The modern batteries in cars, especially with new cars, are incredibly reliable. Most times, if you are mindful of not using your climate controls and radio with the engine off, you may go years without needing a replacement or jump. However, when you do, having your own set of jumper cables will help switch your search for help from who has cables to just someone who would be willing to help.

Window Tinting

For some, this can be a controversial one. But if your car did not come with any tinting on the windows, it will not take long for the sun to heat the inside of the car when it’s parked or even while driving. This may make the difference between having a cool interior without needing to have the fan on high. Be sure to check local laws on window tinting and be aware that going too dark (even within the legal limit), may make night driving difficult. Why suffer waiting for your car to cool down when you can reduce the heat before it starts. Tinting also reduces the fading on the interior and by reducing the heat issue, it saves on gas.

“Climate” Bag

Depending on where you live, this might involve some modification throughout the year, but consider the general climate you live in, and what sorts of things you at some point wished you had, but forgot to bring with you. Having a bag set aside for just such conditions can make the difference between staying happy and dry, or wet and miserable. This can be as simple as a packable rain poncho and towels for rainy seasons, or sunglasses and a few bottles of water for the summertime.

Car Wash Membership

One of the most often neglected parts of a car is the exterior and specifically, the paint. It is easy to believe the paint and clearcoat add some force field to keep dirt and grime from damaging the body. However, keeping the car clean and waxing it often, will keep the road particles from penetrating through the clear coat and potentially causing issues down the road. A membership to a car wash will likely save you money if you plan to keep your car in its pristine condition. If you go too long, you might need a deeper and more expensive clean, such as a clay bar wash, to get out all of the grit and grime. 

Sunshade

Regardless of the season outside, a sunshade can make a world of difference in keeping the temperature inside your car at a reasonable level when parked. Even in the winter, the sunlight can make the inside of your car stifling and create quite a temperature shock when you step in. Without a sunshade in the summer, you may be at your destination by the time you can cool off the interior to a comfortable level.

Warning Lights You Shouldn’t Ignore

Seeing a warning light come on in your vehicle’s instrument cluster can cause an uneasy feeling. Whether you are just about home from a daily commute or halfway through a cross-country road trip, these indicator lights get your heart racing, and you wonder just how much it will cost to repair whatever caused the light to come on.

However, not all indicator lights are the same. Some are alerting you to temporary conditions of the vehicle that will go away after a few more miles. Others are giving you a head’s up that a service is needed to maintain the best functioning of your car’s engine.

Some fit neither of these categories. These indications must be taken care of immediately to prevent potentially irreparable damage to your vehicle and its power train.

Cautionary Indicator Lights (think “yellow”)

Depending on your particular vehicle, several indicator lights are common across brands and others are not. Regardless, there are some of these lights that, while they show something is wrong or abnormal, are more friendly reminders, suggestions, or things to add to your list of things to do. These include tire pressure, service interval, and traction control system lights. These usually show temporary conditions where driving can continue until a convenient time for a more thorough inspection. Along with walking around the vehicle each time before driving, and doing a short pre-drive check, paying attention to these and taking care of them when you can, may save you money.

Warning Lights (almost always red)

As the color would show, if you see one of these lights, it is almost assuredly a good idea to stop as soon as safely practical. There still is a chance it is just a temporary condition that might resolve itself. The alternatives and what might happen if these are ignored are far worse and much more costly than the inconvenience of stopping and a tow to the nearest mechanic.

In each of these, the best course of action is to stop when you are able and have it checked out. As with every electronic indicator, there is a chance of a malfunction in the indicator itself. Only a check by a mechanic will you know for sure.

Oil-Pressure Warning

Your engine oil not only provides the proper lubrication between parts, some moving at thousands of rotations each minute, but it also provides an essential layer of thermal cooling to the piston and cylinders. Without the proper flow around these critical parts, the metal would heat to the point of possibly fusing once stopped, if not develop catastrophic cracking beforehand.

Whether a red image of an old-fashioned oil can, or red letters reading “OIL”, this light shows the oil is not flowing as it should. This light could mean you’re overdue for an oil change but it could indicate you’re leaking oil which will very soon ruin your engine.

Transmission Temperature

Not unlike your car’s engine, the transmission has many small parts moving rapidly with extremely small tolerances. All the same potential issues apply within the contained until of your transmission. Although the movement of the transmission components themselves is enough to circulate the transmission fluid without added pressure, issues with the supply, or leaks in the system itself, can create high temperature and pose similar risks of part fusion or thermal fatigue.

An engine that gets too hot has the potential to crack and, if extreme, requires complete replacement.

Engine Temperature

Issues with your engine temperature are usually indicated by a red light of a thermometer in a wavy liquid. This means your engine is overheating and attempts should be made to cool it as soon as possible. There are several reasons this might occur, but the main goal to prevent catastrophic damage to your car’s engine is to remove the heat from the engine area and get the motor turned off as soon as possible. As you look for a safe place to pull off, turn off your air-conditioner (if on) and crank the heat to the passenger compartment. This will help to draw the heat from the engine bay.

Once you pull over and turn off the motor, wait at least 15 minutes, if not more, to open the hood. This will help prevent scalding hot coolant or other fluids from splashing on your hands or face.

A punctured radiator is a likely culprit and not a terrible expensive fix compared to replacing the engine, which is required if it overheats too much or too long. However, there are many other reasons a car might overheat so have a professional check it.

Just for Fun #110

Just to be sure…out of an abundance of caution…because you never really know what happened to your car before it was listed for sale…

Get your car inspected before you buy so you don’t overpay. TireKickers!

Until now, you didn’t know that getting a car inspection before buying will keep you from buying an unsafe car. Now you do. Tire Kickers come to you.

RV Parks: New Uses & Abuses

Part 4

A Bunch

While the reputation of trailer parks hasn’t improved recently there is a new use for manufactured home communities as temporary housing. 

Emergency Shelter

We already talked about the Company towns you can find near Amazon warehouses in Modern Nomads. However, hurricane Katrina created a use on a whole new scale. 

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has begun employing whole villages of Manufactured homes after fires, floods, tornados and hurricanes. You might find it ironic to bring in more trailers after a tornado if you read Part 2 of this series. 

Retirement Villages

As a result of HOPA (Housing Older Persons Act) quite a number of 55 and over manufactured home villages have popped up. These are nicer, and newer facilities that offer additional resources for the unique needs of senior citizens. 

However, placing a government endorsement on something generally doesn’t make it more desirable. Just think of other government housing projects. It could be argued, due to the large swell of population reaching senior status, that the government is still using manufactured home communities as temporary housing and in a macabre way. As in, why build too many retirement villages when we won’t need them in another few years. 

You Already Own a Manufactured Home, er, Investment 

Another recent issue, one government and Wall Street have collaborated to create, is massive corporate investment. As of 2019, over 100,000 mobile home sites were owned by corporate investors like  Carlyle Group, Apollo Global Management and TPG Capital. Why blame the government? Well Fannie Mae facilitated this to the tune of $1.3 Billion. 

Ultimately…

Just as there is a place for all different levels of other products depending on the priority of the buyer, there is a space that Manufactured Home fit in the financial ladder of individual and family dwellings. And if there is a need for these homes there is a need for them to have a habitat. 

Be it ever so humble mobile home parks aren’t going away anytime soon. So if you live in one, hold your head high and make the best of it. If you live near one, try to give folks a break. We’re all just doing our best. 

As for True on the Road Living See our next and final installment in this series of Mobile Living. 

The Counter-Intuitive Appreciation of Used Cars

New cars are expected to lose a significant amount of value the second they are driven off the lot. Used cars are not supposed to be investments. Even vintage or classic cars aren’t really appreciating in value so much as regaining value. Meaning they went through a time of massive value loss, then because there are fewer of them left and after lots of money and work spent in restoring them to immaculate condition, well, they still aren’t a good investment. But they technically have ‘gained value.’

But there is a curious bubble building right now that should at least grab your attention, if not make you consider some major decisions. The value of many used cars–not classic, nor vintage, nor extremely rare–regular used cars that were a dime a dozen just two years ago when they were new, has increased at nearly the same rate as the popular bitcoin NFTs and exceeding many increases in the stock market.

To be clear, this is not expected to continue for much longer. With that, there are decisions that warrant some consideration as the vehicle sitting in your driveway or garage right now might offer one of the best returns on investment you will have.

The Why…

There are two main reasons this jump or surge might be happening. Both are certainly “negatives” in the realm of commerce, but neither is showing many indications of recovery anytime soon.

Inventory

The past few years have placed an immense strain on everyone and everything. While we might be (hopefully) nearing the end, some effects have yet to reach their peak, and recovery may still take a few long years away. Perhaps one of the largest of those is the supply chain issues that you almost assuredly have already experienced.

Couple the shortage of inventory of imported automobiles over the last few years, as well as the chip shortage that has dramatically slowed the production of new vehicles, there simply is less supply for the same demand.

The best way to think about it is that a car doesn’t run unless it has all its parts. So a shortage in a couple types of parts can sideline a lot of cars.

While both issues are showing signs of a turnaround, it may take a bit of time yet for a full recovery from these.

Inflation

Inflation is a fickle economic indicator. In general, things cost more during times of inflation, but the cost of particular goods is not necessarily an indicator of inflation. In looking specifically at car values, the average price of both new and used cars has gone up drastically. This would seem like decent evidence for inflation.

However, the average value of used cars around two years old has jumped by 50%, with new car values seeing half that. Time will tell whether this trend continues or if the cost of vehicles begins to drop.

The Market

Not unlike many housing markets, the used car market is a seller’s paradise. If you have been considering selling your car, either to upgrade to a newer model or to downsize your family’s fleet, now might be your best time. As always, take some time to research to see how much your used car is worth. It won’t take long to see how the value has grown over the past two years.

Buying a Car

If you are looking to upgrade to a newer model, now might not be the best time, especially if you are committed to a used vehicle. Depending on your circumstances or why you are needing a different vehicle (growing family, perhaps), you might not have a choice. In this case, there are a few things to consider. First, if you can wait and “ride out” this wave, it might prove less of a financial blow if prices come down. Second, if you can’t wait, consider buying a new car. Yes, the average cost of new cars has also increased, but nothing compared to used vehicles.

What would cause the Bubble to Stay Longer?

Well, Governors like Jay Insley of Washington state keep announcing that new vehicles will be all electric (EVs) or Hybrids. In Washington’s case, the goal is to make this shift by 2035. They infrastructure can’t handle that now, and is unlikely to in 2035.

The effect of banning sales of new, non-EV cars in a state will drive the price up on used ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars.

How Big Will the Bubble Get?

Or, how long will it take for prices to go down? No one knows. This is unlike any other time where the market is “simply” based on the ebbs and flows of the economy itself. With the external influences at play, we may see recovery within a few months, or it may take a few years. In both cases, there can be a very steep slope in both directions. We may not have seen the peak of the value of used cars. On the other hand, if the bubble bursts, we may see such a drastic drop in prices that they will fall beyond where they started.

RV Parks: International RVing

Part 3

A Bunch

We’ve discussed RV’s and trailers in the US quite a bit. Let’s check around the world and see how it’s handled internationally. Is there reputation better, worse, or just different.

The UK

You probably knew that trailers are called Caravans in the UK, but did you know they call trailer parks “halting sites?” They call a manufactured home a “static caravan.” In the UK and most of Europe, the issue is illegal halting sites. We’ve mentioned Romani and Irish Travelers before, but since the 1970’s there has been steady growth of “free spirited” individuals who take to the open road, often stopping where they’re not really licenced to be. 

As in the US, “caravan parks” are used for senior living. Unlike the US, there are quite a number of “resorts” that employ static caravans for folks on holiday.

To find a great place to RV in the UK the nonprofit Camping and Caravanning Club has been around for 100 years with more than 100 campsites. 

Europe 

In the Netherlands and Germany (as well as many other countries) there are places where you can set up a “permanent” or very extended stay situation for your trailer or manufactured house. In France, however, the legal limit on living in an RV is three months–even on your own property. The work around is that they are pretty loose when determining what constitutes a house (a shed with electricity might work). 

Careful when you search Camp in Germany.

Unofficial, or less-than-legal campsites are a problem in Germany as well. Their term for an illegal halting site is “wagon fort” (Wagenburg).

Obviously anything European is either really old or completely modernized. A new built RV park will be up to the latest environment standards. One resource for finding just the right place to take your RV in Europe is  Caravan Club with over 2,500 CL’s (certified sites). Germany and France have been trying to catch up to the US in stopover campsite networks, called Reisemobil-Stellplatz in German or Aire de Camping-car in French, these are comparable to the US KOA type facilities. 

Australia & New Zealand

Australia like the UK, has traditionally used Caravans in their “holiday parks.” This fact is changing as the popularity of cabins increases. In New Zealand they might refer to them as a motor camp, which rarely exists without also allowing tent camping. Most camps allow you to stay overnight or long term. 

What are the Different Types of Electric Car Plugs? 

The previously rare electric vehicle is now just as commonly seen as almost all other car types. Nearly every major car manufacturer offers an all-electric version of their most popular models, with some even offering all-electric trucks. This should give you a sense of where the future is headed. But there is likely one thing that might cause you hesitation from taking the plunge, how to charge the batteries.

Gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles are easy. You open the fuel cap and insert the nozzle from the dispenser and your local station. It’s extremely rare to find one that doesn’t work with your vehicle (although some evaporation recovery devices are quite finicky).

Charging an electric car is not all that much more difficult, and can even be easier if you have the right plug.

Power Ratings

The power ratings and the specific type of electric current are vitally important in ensuring not only the correct plug but for protecting the life of the batteries. The rate of charging simply determines approximately how far the car can travel after a certain period of charging. The more power that is supplied to charge the battery, the less time it takes to charge to a certain percentage of battery capacity. However, the amount of power used to charge the batteries can also affect their longevity. Generally, the lower the charging power, the less strain is placed on the batteries, extending their life.

Current Type

Given the designs of the plugs, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to use an A/C system with a D/C charging current. Generally, when the car is at home and simply a top-off is needed, A/C is the better choice with D/C charging better reserved for quick on-the-road needs. D/C does take a lot less time to bring the batteries to the same level of charge, as a consequence, however, of much higher temperatures that can greatly degrade the life of the batteries.

Type 1

As the name implies, this was one of the first plugs developed to charge the batteries in electric vehicles. This plug uses five pins and is a standard for most electric vehicles in the United States. The plug does allow for slow and fast charging at 3.7 kW and 7 kW, respectively. You should exercise caution, as this plug has no locking mechanism and can be dislodged.

Type 2

The Type 2 charging plug is an improvement on Type 1 and adds two more connection pins, as well as a built-in locking mechanism. This plug also adds to the charging rate with the capability of 22 kW (using three-phase charging) if your vehicle allows it.

CHAdeMO

One of the first rapid charging systems has a name to fit its use on the road. The “Charge de Move” or CHAdeMO, is a favorite of many Asian automakers such as Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. This is a rather large plug and tends to require a much larger charging area/flap on the vehicle and is not very common beyond certain carmakers. Charging power for the CHAdeMO can reach 400 kW with plans for up to 900 kW.

Combined Charging System

Perhaps the most convenient of all is the Combined Charging System or CCS allows for a single cord/plug system to be used for slower charging at home as well as rapid charging on the road. The top of the plug looks nearly identical to a Type 2 plug, with two of the five connection pins being located on the D/C section of the plug. This will likely become the standard for D/C charging.

10 Ways to Save on Auto Insurance 

The laundry list of expenses when it comes to vehicle ownership can seem never-ending. One expense that is a legal requirement to drive, but is something you hope to never need is car insurance.

You might have insurance through the same company you used since you started driving. And, you might be paying ever-increasing premiums. That doesn’t have to be the case. There are many ways to save money and keep great coverage.

One–Don’t Let Your Coverage Lapse

Letting your coverage lapse can have a significant impact on your premium. Not unlike how employers look at gaps in your employment history, insurance companies are leery of any gaps in coverage, especially the longer they are. On average, premiums increased by 8% with gaps shorter than 30 days. Longer than that, the average shoots up to a 35% increase.

Two–Bundling

Most major auto insurance companies also have branches or subsidiaries that handle homeowners, renters and/or other types of insurance. With nearly all of these, savings of between 5% and 25% can be found.

Three–Coverage

Take a close look at your specific policy coverages and see if it is at a level that makes sense to you. For example, if you are living in a dry area where lots of rocks or sand is thrown up by trucks, you might want to have more comprehensive coverage as you might be replacing windshields frequently. If you live in a wetter climate where that doesn’t happen as much, it might be worth it to save by not having so much coverage.

Four–Mileage

Many of the top insurance companies provide a discount of up to 10% for simply driving less. To get this discount might take a bit more work on your end, as some require either periodic reporting of mileages or signing up to have a beacon/sensor sent to you. Once you enroll in these programs, they are extremely easy and can save quite a bit of money.

Five–Accidents

Accidents happen. But in being extra diligent in trying to avoid them, your insurance rates will not increase because one and many companies will reward you for remaining accident-free for certain periods. Since nearly every policy requires  prompt reporting of accidents, the severity of the accident and who is at fault can have serious effects on your premium. 

Six–Defensive Driving

Another way to save that requires a bit more of an active role is to complete a Defensive Driving course. Nearly every insurance company offers a discount with proof of completion. Best of all, you can complete this online (be sure to check with your carrier to make sure they accept the program you find). Not only will this save you money, but the knowledge gained from the course might also keep you accident-free.

Seven–Your Car

This is something to consider when you are looking for a new car, but can also affect the one(s) you currently own. Request a few quotes based on the ages, makes, and models. Generally, the older the car, the lower the premium. If you have an existing policy, contact your agent to see if the premium can be “refreshed” with the current age of your vehicle.

Eight – Credit

Just like your ability to get a lower interest rate on lines of credit, the higher your credit score is, the more likely you are to find a lower premium. If you are working to restore or build your credit up, be sure to stay in contact with your agent as your score increases. (Beware the inquiry use may affect your score. Ask if it is a hard or soft (preferred) credit pull.)

Nine – Pay-In-Full

When shopping around, or researching within an existing policy, many companies offer discounts when a policy is paid in full for the coverage periods. Typically, this is six months or a year.

Ten – Your Age

If you are in your college years or around retirement, there might be a discount that you qualify for. Generally, younger drivers can qualify for discounts based on their grades. Older drivers (usually 55+) can qualify for up to 10% in savings.

Can You Tow with a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle?

Electric and hybrid vehicles are incredibly popular these days. And looking at recent gas prices, it’s for good reason. Looking at the number of models available in plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and all-electric (EV) versions, it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart from their gasoline-powered brethren. With these types of vehicles being more and more accessible, switching to a PHEV or full-EV is as easy as choosing a paint color.

While PHEVs and EVs may help save money and cut emissions with their fuel efficiency or not needing fuel at all, we also don’t want to cut into how we can use these vehicles for recreation. The evolution of electric vehicle technology is now at a point where we no longer need to trade all capabilities for fuel efficiency. 

Getting Started

In some ways, towing with one of these types of vehicles will be a more pleasant experience than using their gasoline-powered counterparts. Somewhat surprisingly, the electric motors in EV and the electric assist in PHEV can provide the most important power factor for getting the payload moving from a stop–torque. Even the short time electricity generates the power in the PHEV, the high amount of instant torque is enough to get the full payload in motion. Be sure to check to see the payload capacity of the vehicle. 

Towing with an EV

While towing is possible, with an EV capable of such, there are significant hurdles that technology has not quite caught up to.

Range

There is no way around it. The more you tow, the shorter distance you will be able to travel. With some testing, towing near the payload capacity for a particular car can cut the range in half. Consider that most of your towing might be done for recreation to places that likely do not have EV charging stations, this may rule out EVs overall.

Weight

The torque of the electric motor easily gets the vehicle and payload in motion. However, stopping the weight can prove problematic. Looking at the weight of the EV itself, it does not take a lot more in the way of payload to exceed some vehicle weight limits. Some EVs can weigh almost a ton more than their gasoline kin. This is a lot to stop, not even considering what is being towed.

Charging Supply from Braking

One of the ways EVs maintain their charge to extend their range is by using the braking action of the vehicle to provide a slight amount of regenerative power back into the system. When the force needed to stop the EV and the payload exceeds what this system can safely handle, many EVs will turn their regenerative braking systems off. Without this source of charging on the go, the range is decreased even more. 

Towing With a PHEV

Using a PHEV over an EV to tow, seems to solve most of these issues and keeps the benefits of an electric motor. The PHEV uses the electric motor to get things started before the gasoline engine takes over. Once at speed, the hybrid system keeps the fuel efficiency quite high. There still are some downsides to using a PHEV to tow. The added weight and strain on the electric motor and hybrid system can have significant effects on the longevity of the batteries. This is much less than what is seen with EVs but is still worth considering. 

Conclusions

There are many EVs and PHEVs that offer significant towing capacity. However, this comes at a significant penalty by reliance on denser networks of charging stations and potential more frequent replacement of battery systems. And if your goal is to get off grid you are likely not heading to places with lots of charging stations.