Utility Vehicles (Part 1)

 

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Photo by Eric Welch on Unsplash

 

Introduction by A. R. Bunch, content provided by J. Mehta
The picture above is not a vehicle covered in this post.

We’d like to cover more on these cool vehicles even though they aren’t really road legal. They’re used for a number of purposes from hauling home your kill when hunting, to hauling your tired bones around a golf course or even hauling a case of beer out to your winter ice-fishing shack on the lake.  However, you use it they’re fun. They’re the main mode of transportation on Catalina Island.

In the post below, one of our awesome writers takes a look at three possibilities you might look at if you’re in the market. Sadly we can’t get rights to pictures of them yet.

Comparing Utility Vehicles

When shopping for utility vehicles, you might have trouble deciding between the CarryAll 300, 500 and 700, and for good reason. All three are fantastically durable and efficient machines, adept at navigating terrains in tough conditions. Especially at the end of summer when business owners and homeowners alike are scrambling to take care of end of season yard work and prep for cooler weather, you want to make sure your utility vehicle investment best fits your needs.

Another great option is considering used utility vehicles that are gently loved, boast a lower price tag, and still come with a guarantee of excellence from the dealer (and sometimes a remaining manufacturer’s warranty). Budget-minded shoppers can find a steal when shopping used, but the CarryAll series also offers some fairly priced vehicles that will quickly pay for themselves hauling yard debris, carrying your landscaping tools, and serving as your hardworking assistant no matter what outdoor task you have.

CarryAll 300

“It can carry the load,” says the manufacturer, and it’s known for durability and sheer muscle. It’s an economical yet dependable choice with a rustproof aluminum frame, cargo box and chassis. Choose between a Subaru 404c gas engine or 48-volt Excel electric powertrain. With rack and pinion steering, it’s a joy to drive and can haul up to 800 pounds thanks to a generous flatbed box and bed options.

The new model features re-worked hip restraints for comfort and contoured seats in the cockpit for a roomier interior. Getting in and out is easy, and with the Subaru option, you get a horsepower jolt of over 30 percent and better fuel efficiency than ever. The VersAttach bed system is crafted to carry accessories like the bed attachment to keep lawn tools secure.

CarryAll 500

Carry even more with this utility vehicle that can haul up to 1,200 pounds in a bigger pickup bed with all the bells and whistles of the 300 series (and more). With the electronic fuel injection engine, you’ll enjoy fuel efficiency that’s nearly 50 percent better than earlier gas engines. A limited slip differential option features 14 horsepower Subaru engines with EFI, so you have more traction and can handle areas normally earmarked for 4x4s.

CarryAll 700

For the ultimate in hauling and power, only the 700 will do, replacing trucks for yard work in many cases. Configured just for you with maximum loading and cargo space, it’s six feet long and features a custom van box and cab. An economical cousin to a pickup, many medical services prefer it because it can carry two people and an impressive amount of gear.

Each of these series also comes with sub-series so you can cherry pick the options, power, and features you prefer. For tough jobs and when you need to “carry it all,” select the proven utility vehicle that can get the job done.

Another Mustang Monday: Horsepower

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Mustang Horsepower

How many ponies are under your hood is a favorite conversation topic of Mustang aficionados. There are a lot of muscle cars out there, but this is the original Pony Car that has been constantly evolving, changing, and developing for nearly fifty years. The very first “1964 ½ Mustang,” which came out six months before the official 1965 cars could be released, had 101 horsepower. The 2013 Shelby GT500 gets over 600 horsepower. That’s a lot of extra pony power and impressive Mustang parts in the mix.  

The Evolution

Second gen Mustangs, beginning in 1967, had competition not only from Corvettes but from Chevrolet, too. A variety of horsepower options were available with Ford Mustang parts including a new 6.4 liter 315 horsepower monster. A year later in 1968, the most popular options for buyers were the 220 and 230 horsepower models but there was also room for an amped up 335 and 390 horsepower option. These two powerful options were rare and served as a preview for what’s ahead.

The “Cobra Jet,” released in 1969, offered a 335 horsepower option of a “Super Cobra Jet” that dished up a devilish 360 horsepower. The Boss 429 was built for racing and boasted 375 horsepower. This Boss has become a hot collector since only 429 were built during the inaugural 1969 year. The decade of disco is not a favorite for many Mustang enthusiasts since the 429 was replaced with the 351 which “only” had 330 horsepower.

The Golden Years

The popularity of the car ebbed and flowed throughout the 70’s and 80’s with some quantifiable successes and other turnouts that are best left forgotten. However, any vehicle that has been successful for twenty years has a great shot at a comeback. By the time 1996 rolled around, gone were the days of sub-par horsepower and the Pony was back on the tracks. Cobra R and SVT models featured over 300 horsepower for the first time since the early 70’s.

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Millennium Power

The initiation into the “aughts” included the 2000 Cobra R with an astounding 385 horsepower, which quickly sold out. That wasn’t quite enough and by 2003 it was up to 390 horsepower. It’s now been over a decade since Mustang came back at (literally) full speed and it’s only looking up from here.

 

 

The Next Generation

The 2013 Shelby GT500 was impressive when it boasted just over 600 horsepower. One of the most powerful machines in existence, it sated the appetite of even the most hard-core Pony enthusiast. Power, speed, beauty, and a strong peppering of all-American flavor has long been a staple of Mustangs. What a difference reaching the golden years can make, and who knows what’s in store by the 2020 mark.

Cutting Down on Your Vehicle’s Gas Consumption

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By Staff

Over the course of the past few years, the price of gas has risen dramatically, causing some drivers to look for more fuel-efficient alternatives. Some owners have made the switch to hybrid models, while others have turned to dubious gadgets that claim to save you gas money when all they really do is leave you feeling burned.

Gimmicks don’t work when it comes to fuel efficiency, and you shouldn’t have to feel as though you need to abandon your truck to get behind the wheel of a tiny all-electric model. There are some simple things you can do today to improve the fuel efficiency of your ride, so let’s look at a few of them.

Allow the air to flow

When was the last time you had the air filter in your vehicle replaced? Replacing an old, clogged filter is one of the easiest, most effective ways to improve performance.

The type of filter that you use is also important. Get rid of the old-school paper model and replace it with a performance air filter. Those old paper filters tend to restrict airflow, which essentially means that your engine is being forced to choke. The performance filters are usually made of cotton or foam materials, both of which allows air to flow more freely. When oxygen gets into your engine, less fuel is used than would normally be consumed when you have a clogged filter.Metha_Mustang Chrome 5

Not only does a performance filter deliver better fuel efficiency, it also adds a little extra horsepower to boot. The fact that cleaner air is flowing through your engine means that the overall condition of your vehicle is improved. One word of warning here is that misusing the extra horsepower can quickly negate any improvements the filter makes to your mileage. Don’t go heavy on the gas pedal.

Improve the Aerodynamics on Your Vehicle

If you drive a truck, there are sure to be times when you feel it is being dragged along the road. Your tailgate is often responsible for this feeling, as the air that flows over the truck and into the open bed ends up being derailed by the tailgate.

One simple fix here is to add a tonneau cover to the exposed truck bed, as this will allow the airflow to bypass the tailgate. Generally speaking, you can expect to see a 5-10% increase in gas mileage as soon as you add that cover.

If you don’t like the idea of a cover, you might instead consider switching to an air-flow tailgate. These gates employ a mesh or louvered design that allows air to flow more freely than it does with a traditional tailgate, thus eliminating a good percentage of drag. The results with this type of gate are not as positive as you get with a cover, but it’s a much better, not to mention safer, option that running with the tailgate down.

Check the Tire Pressure

CJ_Auto Safety 2If aerodynamics are not an issue, and you have a new performance filter but are still having gas mileage issues, it might be time to check your tire pressure. If those tires are under-inflated, your engine is going to need to work that much harder to move the wheels. It’s not uncommon to lose around 2 mpg by simply riding on tires that are borderline flat. You are also looking at wearing out the tread faster, which means laying out money on new tires.

A digital tire gauge is accurate and easy to use, and finding the ideal pressure for your vehicle is usually as simple as finding that information on a label in your door well. Try to stay as close to the recommended tire pressure as possible, as over-inflating the tires can be just as costly.credit-squeeze-522549_1920

Maintain a Regular Maintenance Schedule

Automakers tell you about regular maintenance for a reason. Having your oil changed and your engine inspected on a regular schedule will not only help with gas mileage, it will also help extend the life of your vehicle. A little preventative care today can save you a lot of money in the future.

The Causes of Car Accident Injuries and How to Prevent Them

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Almost from the moment that cars took to the road, accidents and injuries became commonplace. The first auto-related injury can be traced back to 1869, when Mary Ward was ejected from behind the wheel of her steam-powered vehicle after hitting a deep rut. Ward fell under a wheel and was crushed, dying instantly. In a rather spectacular twist of irony, it was Ms. Ward’s cousin who had invented the vehicle that eventually killed her.

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We have come a long way since then, with car accident injuries and deaths dropping by about 50% in the last quarter century. Government regulations about the safety of vehicles has helped, as has the commitment of automakers in creating products that are safer to drive. The addition of airbags alone has helped speed up the decline in injuries and death by automobile.

The downside here is that the United States is lagging behind the rest of the world, as car injuries and fatalities have actually increased in the last 25 years. Experts point to a number of different factors in creating this spike, with the increase in motorists, the popularity of larger trucks and SUV’s, and the use of technology behind the wheel all playing a role.

“Rubbernecking” is also another factor when talking about car accidents. This is when people slow down or suddenly stop so that they can get a better look at a crash or unusual situation on the road. Rubbernecking can set off a chain reaction of collisions as the vehicle behind the slowed vehicle fails to react in time to the sudden change in the speed of traffic. Rubbernecking is now listed as the #1 cause of rear-end collisions in the US, with whiplash injuries very often the result.

Nowadays, automakers create safer vehicles by paying attention to technology and how it has changed the way we behave behind the wheel. Besides the aforementioned airbags, many modern cars now all come with proximity and lane drifting monitors that deliver loud signals to the cabin that alert the driver to the issue. These types of safety features have already proven their worth in Europe, as they have helped reduce the number of injuries from both single and multi-car collisions.

 

It’s not that easy to change human behavior, and this is especially true in the US, where people consider car ownership to be a rite of passage. People are now behind the wheel of their car more often than ever before, and often feel invulnerable when in that position of power. It is a total disregard of defensive driving techniques that is driving the collisions rates in the US upwards while the rest of the world is trending downwards.

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Ironically enough, states that have less restrictive speed limit laws tend to have lower incidences of crashes that lead to injury and death. In fairness, these states often have fewer vehicles per capita on the road than those with tighter speed measures in place. Even when you take that factor out of the equation, the numbers still favor the less restrictive states. This would suggest that looking to lower the speed limit to prevent collisions and injuries may well be the wrong approach.

The reality here is that a two-tiered approach to the problem may well be what we need, with the main focus being driver distraction and age. It is undoubtedly smartphones that are the major issue, which is why states are now introducing laws that ban their use while a vehicle is in motion. Even when it’s legal to be on the phone behind the wheel, it’s still a terrible idea. There is a definite connection between cell phone use and an increase in car accidents.

Age is something else that needs to be paid attention to when talking about safety. The numbers clearly show that accidents spike when the driver is 16-20 or aged over 70. This is a little more difficult to fix, but there are things that can be done. Mandatory driver education classes are one way to go, while annual driving proficiency tests for those age groups have also been suggested. There has even been talk of placing a decal on any vehicle operated by someone on either of those age groups, letting other drivers know that they should perhaps be more cautious around said vehicles. The belief is that this will get others to adopt a defensive driving approach, making the roads that much safer.

Mustang Shift Knobs

 

It’s time for another Mustang Monday where an expert discusses how to trick out your pony. Are we only interested in Mustangs? NOPE. If you own another type of fast car that people love to makeover in their own image and you’d like to write us a set of posts we’d love to use them. In the meantime, most of the advice we get from our award-winning writer/Mustang enthusiast applies pretty much to any classy sports car. Enjoy, and thank you for your contributions, Jen.

Custom Shift Knobs

It’s understandable, really. That dream car is perfect – but just a little more customization would make the machine truly yours. The right Ford Mustang parts personalize your Pony and sometimes provide an injection of power. Where to start? Many aficionados begin with some upgraded engine work, performance tires, or exhaust systems. However, one of the most standout ways to make a difference is with one of the smaller Mustang accessories: the shift knob.

There are two types of people who have a hankering for a custom knob – those who are tricking out a fully modded ride, and those who are looking for a simple (and affordable) way to change things up. The good news is that no matter which camp you fall into, this is definitely one of the most cost-effective ways to make a statement.

Picking the Pattern

Whether you’re a four-speed, five-speed, or six-speed driver there’s a custom shift knob out there for you. The choices might seem overwhelming. Design, pattern, color, material – where to start? Maybe you already have an idea in mind of what type of shift know you want (and in that case, it may take a little digging). Maybe you’re open for whatever strikes your fancy. There are thousands of colors and options available. Think about what complements the rest of the machine.

Do you want something that blends in with the interior? Black on black interiors will go with a black knob great – but a bright red one can really make it pop. What’s your opinion on rally stripes? It’s important to always keep in mind your particular Pony when shopping around and not develop tunnel vision.Mehta_Mustang Shift knobs.jpg

How Much is This Going to Cost?

The answer is however much you want to spend. It’s possible that the perfect shift knob costs $20. It also might cost a couple of hundred. There are some insanely expensive luxury options out there touting precious metals and gems if you happen to be Li’l Wayne. The only limits are your imagination (well, and your pocketbook).

The good news is that, unless you have incredibly luxurious taste, this will likely be one of the least expensive accessories you purchase. Much like a necklace that graces a woman’s collarbone, custom shift knobs are a conversation piece. They’re your piece of flair. What do you want it to say about the car – and you?

Keep in Mind

Your hand is going to be all over the custom shift knob. What’s on your hand, anyway? Makeup, sunblock, grease, lotion, charcoal – the list is endless. Depending on what kind of lifestyle you lead, it’s important to consider which color and material is sensible. A woman with beauty products lingering on her fingertips or someone who works with their hands is going to have trouble keeping a light colored or porous material clean. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t have a white phone, you probably shouldn’t have a white shift knob.

 

Ban Combustion Engines in CA? Electronic Car Laws Coming

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Op Ed by our curmudgeonly Op Ed guy

California has decided to become the first state in the US to introduce legislation banning cars that are entirely fueled by internal combustion engines (aka Gas & Deasil). They aren’t the first government to do so world-wide, they’re following in the footsteps of France, the U.K. and India. Even China has announced plans to ban fossil fuel cars.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Assemblyman Phil Ting will introduce the bill in January. Ting is quoted as saying CA Gov. Jerry Brown called after seeing China announce their intentions and asked why CA wasn’t already doing it. California actually had already committed, (as of 2012), to put 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025. That would require a full 15% of new car sales to be electric or hybrid vehicles and it’s currently just under 5%.Andy_light-bulb-2

To fix this gap Ting intends to increase incentives for drivers of EVs and rebates for new EV buyers.

It’ll likely take that, as we mentioned before sales of electronic vehicles slumped quickly as soon as the 2012 incentives expired. The only thing we know for sure happens when the market is pressured to buy electronic cars is that truck sales increase.

This new legislation will likely go beyond simply incentives and goals, to actually banning new combustion vehicle sales in the state. At least that’s what the Europe and China versions aim to do by 2040.

Here at the Kicker, we’re all for saving the environment and if you see pictures of the air quality in China or LA it is pretty clear why reduced air pollution would be attractive. Of course, there are a few positive and negative factors to consider with laws like these.

One quick negative might be that electricity would need to be generated to meet the new power demand. If they don’t increase supply prices will go up, affecting the price of everything from charging your cell phone to the cost of hot water in your home or how much it costs to dine out. Much of China’s pollution is actually from coal plants that generate power. Coal power can be made cleaner than perhaps China does at this point, and one of the positives to electricity is that it could be generated by many different fuels. Many proponents of EVs point out that whatever fuel is most economical, area by area is likely what would create the increased power to meet the increased demand. So it could come from burning coal, crude oil, natural gas, ethanol etc. You know the stuff we currently use as fuel.

Andy_light-bulb 1Of course, you add sources like wind, solar, and dams. If the goal is to reduce environmental impact then its likely that lawmakers are hoping most of this increased fuel need will be met by renewable resources like these. However, of the three only one is less expensive than fossil fuel, dams, and they are not popular with environmentalists.

Another potential positive is that you wouldn’t have to burn fossil fuels on trucks and trains to deliver fossil fuels to market. Even if you simply burn fossil fuels to generate electricity you can then ship the electricity to cars in a garage instead of driving it to a station. Well except for line loss.

Line loss refers to the amount of electricity that’s lost to resistance in transmission lines, so it’s likely a wash in terms of efficiency. You either burn gas to haul gas or you burn electricity to send electricity. And since gas can be stored as potential energy whereas there’s no large-scale power storage we need the ability to generate exactly what we need when we need it. That would probably necessitate nuclear power plants which can ramp up and down with demand. Unless you want to only charge your car when the wind is blowing and the sun is out.

Which brings us to the next potential negative—batteries. The stuff you make batteries out of isn’t exactly environmentally friendly either in the mining of it or the disposal of it when it’s lifespan ends. Now we may have solutions to that by the year 2040.

Perhaps there are options we could brainstorm that would reduce auto emissions, as much or more than a draconian ban.

Option 1: Increase the supply of power through local generation, thereby making it cheaper, thereby making EVs more attractive.

Option 2: Require companies with more than a few dozen employees to turn some of those positions into remote work, taking commuters off the roads. Or increase the number of vacation days and require employees to take them.

Option 3: Make Elon Musk the governor of California so that someone creates laws that are scientifically sound instead of following fads they read about in the news.

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Car Hack Series (Part 4): Sun Shades

If you live where it’s sunny, and many of us do, then you have a particular automotive problem. Our car hacker/Vlog guy, Mike (Big Weasel) has some advice for you.

On an unrelated topic: News for those who live in Oregon State! You’ve become the latest state to upgrade your distracted driving laws to just short of capital punishment. So please be aware and be careful. It is now illegal for you to operate a phone or other device unless it is hands-free and operated with only a finger swipe.

On another topic and a very sad one, our hearts go out to the victims of the shooting in Vegas. We are truly saddened by the tragedy and while our empathy may do little to help, we offer what we can.

Don’t forget to follow Mike on Twitter and don’t forget to check out our Kicker Blog on Facebook too.