Self-Isolation in a Covid-19 World

Op-Ed by Bunch & Wimsett

The idea of self-isolation, of not having contact with society may show how we’ve been spoilt by having a car to drive, to get us to a certain location by a certain time. We’re accustomed to being certain, more or less, we can go anyplace anytime. The car owner without the car feels a little bit, well, like a prisoner. (We know it’s not the same thing, but it feels like it.)

When your car goes in the shop for an extended repair and your insurance company won’t pay for a rental, you’re left bumming a ride from friends or public transport. If you have to rely on public transport, you are at the mercy of other travellers, which can be sketchy, especially during the darkest of nights. We also need to wait around for public transport to appear and have to deal with the cold. But these days, it’s the peril of crowds, and their germs.

Although a car seems safer than a bus it is still a harboring area for bacteria, so it is important to wash your hands after returning from car journeys. This is just the way we live now.

Self-isolation is more than just being unable to travel; it’s also about not being able to set forth outside your home, to use your car. It’s hard to see how a travel ban for a wide group of people can be implemented. (It’s easier in some ways with planes and trains.)

Where you travel to:

However, you travel it is important to realize that it is not a good idea to move into an area which has a higher risk of exposure than the one where you live. You are also more at risk in crowded settings, especially places with limited air circulation. Also, it’s not a good idea to visit older adults.

It is likely the concert, parade, festival or sporting fixture you are visiting is cancelled, check to find out before you start your journey.

The Las Vegas strip, Broadway theaters and Disney theme parks have also closed. It is likely that similar venues will do likewise. Even the beaches, state parks, and tourist attractions are closed. Even though we need the fresh air, the risk of the crowd is too great.

The Auto Industry:

Car factories may also close, though in Detroit a Covid-19 Task Force has been set up in attempt to keep workers as safe as possible. No one is that sure whether the virus lives on cardboard, plastic and stainless steel and anyone touches any of substances risks exposure to the virus. A number of the office staff will be working from home, but it goes without saying that those who are building or repairing items on the factory floor haven’t got that luxury. Somehow the business needs to stay afloat.

A number of CEOs from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler will lead the task force.

With all the school closers you won’t need to use the car to take the children to school. It is affecting all areas of life.

There is a lockdown in states such as Washington, California and New Jersey. In the latter a curfew exists between 8pm and 5am.

As for the rest of us you may need to ask yourself, “Is my journey that necessary?”

In most quarantine states, restaurants are allowed to serve takeout or delivery—so far. As things stand now, Mike Pence said that restaurants have the potential to close. This is an ongoing situation, but things will snap back. We can only wait.

So, travel seems not that important right now. Might we suggest the solution to your need to get around is an ancient technology known as walking.

Stay safe,

Team Kicker Blog

Best of the Web: Staying Positive During Coronavirus Lockdown — 10 Strategies — Perfect Chaos

I recently ran a poll on this blog to get some feedback in relation to what readers would like me to blog about during the coronavirus pandemic. Someone suggested I should write about what I am doing to cope with isolation and living alone during this period of “lockdown”, so I’ll begin my new schedule […]

Staying Positive During Coronavirus Lockdown — 10 Strategies — Perfect Chaos

Taking Someone’s Else’s Car For Spin…legally!

If you love, love, love to drive, but you don’t want to put a lot of road trip miles on your car, there are ways to drive other people’s cars long distances. For several reasons, people will drive a vehicle somewhere, like a vacation, and end up flying home. They’ll need to hire a service to get that car back to them and because truck routes are limited it can be less expensive to hire someone to drive it back to you.

Many car and motorhome companies require drivers to take the vehicles back and forth for these road trippers. This occupation seems to be especially strong in Florida where many drivers want to take their car north in the spring. No wonder that there are vacancies for people who want to deliver these vehicles.

You have to be at least 23 years and have a valid driver’s license to become a courier. Please note that some courier companies have a higher age threshold and some may require you to undergo background checks. It is free of charge, but unsurprisingly you need to pay a deposit of $350 before you can deliver a car.

There’s probably a number of weeks spent waiting around for you to get a job, but the jobs may well provide the adventure Americana to scratch your itch.

Motorhome companies with a similar need for couriers. As do ambulances, busses, small fire/rescue vehicles, limousines, and hearse’. What do they have in common? They are too big to fit on a car carrier.

According to this job should fetch you between $27K and $54k per year. AutoDriveway is one such company that employs drivers to deliver a car.

Of course, if you just want a local job instead of the long haul you can check out your local auto dealership or port where cars are imported. Rental car companies also employ people to deliver cars to and from repair shops and the like.

Expect any of these employers to require a little customer service skill and to require you to fill out a checklist before you pick up and after you deliver the vehicle.

Tire Problems

Most of the population think tire problems start and end with a “flat” and “incorrectly inflated tires” but there are other problems that can occur. A good rule of thumb is to compare the front left tire to the front right tire and a similar way with the back tire as tires don’t tend to become worn at the same rate.

Bald tires: A tire becomes bald from overuse which may make the tire blowout in hot conditions. This will mean that you are more likely to lose condition in extreme conditions. Such tires are much more likely to lose pressure. There should be exposed indicator bars if your tires need to be replaced.

Bubbles: External bulges in the tire. A rubber tire consists of “cords” which are at 90 degrees to the tire’s run (It might help to think of it in similar way to a piece of paper, it is harder to tear left to right than tear downwards). A forceful object can separate the cords and create a bubble. Having more than bubble or bulge is rare but occurrences have been spotted, probably due to manufacturing defect.

Flat spots: A worn part of the tire, caused by parking for long periods in the same place or by locking your brakes. You should fill your tires to capacity; drive at least 150 miles (which will solve the problem if the difficulty was being parked in one place). If it is not fixed, release some of the air in the tire through use of a valve. And if it still seems a problem, take it to a mechanic.

Squealing: This tends to occur when the vehicle is cornering. This is due to an uneven tread – some peeling may become apparent when examining the tire. Again it can be fixed by increasing the pressure in your tires. It may be even be due to loose wheels, in which case the wheel nuts should be tightened.

Underinflation: Generally, tires not being at the correct thickness which as well as making them hard to drive with may also create a burning smell due to excess heat. You can obtain Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems to check the problem or you could just check it at a service station. It’s a good idea to do this before going a long journey as you are likely to be stuck somewhere and it might be dangerous to stop.

Vibrations: This are generally felt when you operate the brake pedal or when the brake caliper sticks (these are used to slow the vehicle). Problems similar to vibrations which might be undetected by passengers in the car may be found by using a roller device called a Tire Problem Detector over the tire. Apparently they are due to an out-of-balance wheel, as it relates to the axel and its partner wheel. It’s quite usual for a tire which is more than a year old to become uneven on one side. It can be fixed by loosening a wheel weight. 

The Problem with Flying Cars

It is 2020 right? So we should have flying cars? But it’s not as simple as that. As said before in these posts not all novelty works and a flying car would surely be one hell of a novelty.

It would cost $50 million to buy a flying car, though it is possible to get one from private hands at about $279,000. This sounds ruthlessly expensive, so let’s break it down.

Because a car is not built for flight it is better to start with a plane and work backwards, so getting a plane to drive on the road. Then you have the problem of where on the road you can land the plane, you can’t just land it in the middle of freeway. So really you’re talking about a plane you can fly one day and drive the next day.

There’s also the difficulty with fuel. Can’t you fill up a flying car at a gas pump? Don’t flying objects need something stronger, like kerosene?

As well as the flying car itself you’re going to run into a big insurance bill. As soon as you have a car which might plummet into the ground from a great height (not that I’m being pessimistic at all here…) the costs are going to skyrocket (especially as a crash could come from simply running out of fuel).

Manoeuvrability is also a stumbling block. Something which flies handles differently from an object on the ground (this is pretty self-explanatory stuff but when you’re exploring possibilities you do have to state the obvious). A car might be tested by a strong gust of wind, but unless its very strong the car will be able to continue on its journey. However a flying car is reliant on the air around it, so in a windy day it will be harder to handle and may just crash.

Another tricky day to fly in would be a foggy day; you might just collide with a building or hill. So this would be a good day not to take your googles out of the glove compartment? 

With the information stated above, it may shock you that people are creating drastic in-roads in coming up with a flying car. The Transition by Terrafugia’s selling point is that it is a plane that is stored in the garage. It can transform; James Bond-style from a car into a plane but again you have the difficulty of where it can take off and where it can land.

This vehicle require two types of engine- a hybrid motor for driving on the ground and a 4 cylinder engine for its plane mode. As well as a driver’s license you need a sports pilot certificate. It has an airframe parachute and airbags. How good are airbags in a plane crash? Maybe this should be looked into. They also need their own registration plate.

Uber meanwhile are looking into the concept of flying taxis, which may be available over the skies of Dubai, LA and Dallas as early as 2023.

Can all these promises be delivered on? It does seem a big ask, but if there is a market for it, there will be an answer…eventually.

Interiors for Lovers of Cars

You can find many different pieces of furniture designed for car lovers such as pool tables, a bubble chair with Herbie’s iconic 53 on it, even impressive watch winders, supercar desks and so on. If you can’t afford the car itself maybe you can afford a car bed? It is after all the next best thing.

A coffee table made of crushed up car parts or car engines may be taking your hobby too far. After all, you might just become sick of cars if you can’t escape them anywhere. They do look seriously weird.

If you want some way to display your books why not have a cabinet which looks like a car driven up the wall? Where exactly they get these ideas from is not known and you might just wonder how popular these ideas are, they look fairly bespoke. Still they have their own websites so people must be buying them.

A refrigerator is also shown. Okay, it’s the right shape for a fridge but it does include the badges and colors of various vehicles; like the VW for instance. Just a novelty fridge, really.

If you can’t afford the hassle of changing your own interior why not take time out at a location where the interior has been changed for you, such as a hotel? It’s certainly a lot less life changing and you might even find ideas you can adapt for your own pad.

The V8 Hotel in the Motorworld Region of Stuttgart is an excellent place for people to visit who are fans of racing cars as well as other car related activities such as running a garage or the actual mechanics of a vehicle. The property used to be an Art Deco designed airport and you can still see the blueprint of that in the current hotel.

The concepts of room include “Mercedes-Benz car wash” and “Cadillac drive-in cinema.” On display in the hallway are various classic and retro cars. You can even watch cars being repaired through a glass wall.

Some of the concepts don’t look very appealing – Would you like to stay in a room with corrugated iron walls or a metallic hood at the foot of the bed? Well, yes it seems that a number of people would. As you can see the design of the room online it’s not that much of a shock when you check-in, except maybe to your significant other. The Wild West room might be a bit tricky to explain though, what’s that got to do with cars? Manly pursuits are probably the key theme.

If your partner doesn’t want to stay in a room that looks like the set of the movie Grease compromise might be a car and spa weekend. For the husband, a driving experience while the reward for his log-suffering wife is a massage. It’s not clear who gets the best deal here? At least it keeps money in circulation.

Car thoughts from those with something to say.

“I replaced the headlamps in my car with strobe lights so it looks like I’m the only one moving” – Steven Wright.

A car is inspirational, but to continue to sell a car driving on the open road can be quite dull. So you need to look into how people treat their car and maybe see how they treat other people as a result, as everything relates to everything else.

It can be seen that the car is the source of a great deal of humor. This is understandable; it is something that most people can relate to. You have that quote from Steven Wright above and also here’s another one from Mitch Hedberg.

“I can look at any car’s headlights and tell you which way it’s going.”

Sometimes people are confused about our attachment with cars and how far it goes.

“I’ve always been into cars. Cars are part of our genetic makeup. It’s unavoidable.” – Matthew Fox.

The love of cars might be thought of some meme that once we get into our head is hard to get back out again. To say that we have something in our chromosomes that links us to cars might be going too far?

How does men’s obsession with cars effect how women see them? Here’s a quote from Rita Rudner.

“To attract men, I wear this cologne called ‘New Car Interior.’”

How exactly you maintain your cars might tell you what kind of person you are, according to those in the know.

“If you own a home with wheels on it and several cars without, it’s just possible you might be a redneck.” – Jeff Foxworthy.

Some people have thoughts that the car has become our personal shell protecting us from the bad stuff in the world:

“The car has become the carapace, the protective and aggressive shell of both urban and suburban man.” – Marshall McLuhan.

It can be scary the stuff people let slip about how they drive their cars.

“I would never kill a living thing, although I probably have inadvertently while driving automobiles.” – Captain Beefheart.

Please note the quotes above have been changed slightly so that they have their own originality. A note to who the people are.

Steven Wright (b 1955) is an American comic, actor and producer known for his one-liners.

Mitch Hedberg  (1968-2005) is also an American comic famed for his surreal humor.

Matthew Fox (b 1966) is an American actor most well-known for his part in Lost (2004-2010)

Rita Rudner (b  1953) is an American comedienne who started her career in New York.

Jeff Foxworthy (b 1958) is American comedian, radio personality and author.

Marshall McLuhan, born Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was a Canadian philosopher and author with an interest in mass media.

Captain Beefheart was the stage name of Don Glen Vliet (1941-2010) a singer, instrumentalist and painter, who collaborated with Frank Zappa, amongst others.

To finish, here is another quote from Steven Wright.

“I have a quantum car. Every time I look at its speedometer I get lost.”

What’s news: New Bronco Sneak Peek

It seems that the revived Ford Bronco is all over the web now. Following the leaked photos from earlier this week, depicting both the Bronco and the smaller Bronco Sport, two new photos provide an even more detailed look at the off-roader. The shots you see in the attached gallery below first appeared on the Bronco6G forum last night and were watermarked by The Raptor Connection

Here’s a link to the best pictures we could find.

What is a Tune-up?

A tune-up is something that car with a non-electric ignitions need to go through either every year or every 10,000 miles or so. If your car has an electric ignition and maybe a fuel injection system it should be all right for 25,000 to 100,000 miles.

A tune-up makes sure that your car is working at its peak and if you only travel for short distances or you pull a trailer (for example a boat or camper) it may be that your car needs to be tuned more often than the norm.

You can probably tell if the car is not working to its peak, but here are a couple of things to watch out for.

  • A stalling engine, which will be a problem if you need to move away quickly from the lights or similar. This may be due to worn spark plugs; it’s recommended that they should be replaced. Or it could be from a weak battery or maybe a faulty electronic component. Generally a car stalls of extremes of hot or cold, but if you can’t find the problem it’s best to have a mechanic look at it.
  • Engine running rough. This is when shaking and bouncing happens more often than you might reasonably expect. Again it may be linked to the spark plugs but it could also be a vacuum leak (a car is full of a number of hoses for air to travel through and these may have become worn) or dirty parts.
  • Black smoke from the carburetor. Only older vehicles use carburetors and black smoke is a sign something is wrong. A carburettor cleaner should be employed to remove excess amounts of carbon from this part of the car.

An engine working to its best of its ability shouldn’t make excess noise but it’s just possible that it is caused by tyres rubbing against metallic parts or something similar.

When you tune up your car you should begin by checking the oil. Helpfully for the beginner the cap in the engine is marked “oil.” Only do when the car has cooled down. The dipstick should be wiped with either a rag or a paper towel. If the towel looks especially black or it has noticeable “chunks” the oil may need changing.

Put the dipstick back and remove it for a second time. You should be able to notice the notch on the dipstick which tells you how full the oil compartment should be. If it’s noticeably low add oil to the engine, making sure that the oil is of the right quality and the right type for you engine. It’s best to use a funnel in order to avoid spilling the oil. Ask if you don’t know what kind of oil is appropriate.

Next move onto the tires, are they at the right pressure? You should be able to find a pressure gauge at most garages. It is best not over-inflate the tires.

Other fluids such as brake fluid and radiator fluids should also be checked. You should next check the battery, brakes and lights. Looking at these items is especially important if you are traveling a long way, but should be part of your regular routine. People do forget though.