Best of the Web: Self Driving Car School

We found this cool video by BBC found here: https://www.bbc.com/reel/playlist/future-of-transport?vpid=p09lkww8

The First Time Driver’s Problems

A first-time driver should look to own a car that is both inexpensive and easy to maneuver. Although no safe car is truly inexpensive, when you are young it’s still important to get something reasonable.

When to Start Driving

Is 18 the best age to start driving? The most common answer is that it depends on how responsible you are. Not on is operating the vehicle a big responsibility but so is where and when you choose to drive. There’s also the matter of affording it. Gas prices are high, but for your drivers the insurance is the big expense.

Many people don’t have much choice, they land a job and need the transportation. Others might need to drop a younger sibling off at school for a parent that works odd hours.

Again, the insurance is the big cost for young drivers, so maybe you should only start driving when you can afford to do so?

On the Topic of Insurance

It’s always a good idea to have one of your parent’s names on the insurance even if they don’t drive it just to keep the premiums down. Many states require all licenced drivers who live in the same home to be insured on all the vehicles registered to that address. It must be nice to be in an industry where you get to assume things about your client’s behaviour and charge accordingly.

Black Box Insurance

You see insurance companies advertise how you can get a great rate by letting them plug a device into your car that monitors your driving. You may be inclined to try it out, but is “black box” insurance worth it? It depends on how good a driver you are and what time you drive. If you are a bad driver, it can give you feedback on your driving but also penalize you with high premiums. It will give your insurance company information on whether you drive late at night and will penalize you for it. Most students have work nights after school so it doesn’t work out as a good idea.

There are problems too if you exceed your stated mileage for a year this will also mean your premiums increase. Other information gathered by the “black box” is how well or how badly you accelerate, your braking skills and the errors you perform while attempting to park. Skills a young driver may be yet to acquire. It also knows when you speed so to sum up it’s not a good idea for most young drivers.

Taking your Car to College

When you take a car to college it’s so much easier to run errands like filling up the fridge but then again you are spending a sizable amount on gas and maintaining the vehicle. There’s the dilemma over where you park it too. If you are parking on campus, there will almost certainly be a charge.

SmartCar

Finally, onto Types of Cars.

Smart ForFour has the advantage of a turbocharged engine located in the trunk. Another plus point is its turning ability, helpful if attempting this maneuver has ever caused you to stall.

The Mini Hatchback may not be ideal for the first-time driver’s budget unless you are a late starter or have rich parents. Still there are a huge number of customizing options – just more a second or third car really.

Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 has rather a vintage feel, though your fellow students may not like sitting in the back-it feels more like a family car in this respect. There’s a range of pastel hues to choose from, though a student might be interested in red.

When you buy the first car look into such items as emergency braking and how reliable it is. Do you have the option of low-rate finance? As with any car it’s always best to take it for a test drive before you commit, and get it examined by a car inspection service like Tire Kickers.

Car Must Haves and Wants

These are merely a few ideas found online of what drivers seem to think important in their vehicle. You may have a different opinion on the subject, but online survey respondents found these items useful.

Heated Seats

Heated car seats are useful on a cold day. You can fit heated seats on cloth seats or leather seats, but it can dry out the leather. It creates what is known as toasted skin syndrome, a type of rash which occurs on the thighs when you have this addition.

Entertainment

When it comes to music it’s important to be able to download the latest tracks. You can have several car music mixes but the real enjoyment comes from making your own. As well as MP3 players and Apple CarPlayer products, there’s also USB thumb drives which allow not just listening to downloaded music but also you can watch cartoons or movies on a video screen. They can only be used when the car is not moving. Presumably back seat passengers can use their own audio or video system.

Passive Entry

You may not have heard it being called passive entry. It’s just being able to enter the car without keys. It’s also known as Remote Keyless Entry or Keyless Enter ‘n’ Go. It uses a key fob which acts as a low-frequency transmitter which saves you from you looking for the keys.

Keyless entry tends to be combined with push button start, which is understandable as it is a keyless operating system. In order to convert to a keyless entry the hot wires need to be replaced by a professional.

Emergency Braking/Collision Warning

Automated emergency braking is a system which allows the braking to happen without placing force on the brake. Should braking prove impossible it reduces the force of the impact, though this shouldn’t be confused with a forward collision warning which provides a visual or audible cue but it’s up to the driver to brake.

Storage

It’s useful to have things to help organize your car such as a mobile phone holder or an organizer for the trunk – the most useful of which have Velcro at the bottom to allow you to keep it from shifting in transit.

Other storage space can be obtained by having a cargo box on the roof, but it always feels like you have to open it from the side of the car you aren’t on. Recently some units allow you to open it up from either side of the car, which is really handy and in some cases safer. Be sure the latch system is in good condition if buying a used cargo box because opening spontaneously in transit is a bad thing.

Car Offices

If you have to eat or drink at the wheel or even use a computer (it should go without saying when the car is not moving) you could always invest in a “wheel desk” – the double-sided ones have a cup holder on one side and on the other side a flat plane to write on. You laugh when we suggest no using these while driving but one early maker of these devices used computer graphics to put a driving scene in the window of their add which sponsored a ton of hilarious comments in their product review section. Things like “I’m so much more productive, how did I live without…ah…ohh lord…ouch.”

Windscreen Covers

If you don’t wish to spend time scraping ice off the window, try a windscreen cover. The best ones only take a few moments to attach.

Cup Holders

Okay, it’s been a few years since anyone touted the cupholders as a feature of a car, but hey, it’s a classic.

If you have a cup holder, why not go the whole hog and get yourself a coffee maker that runs off your cigarette lighter (such as the Handpresso Auto)? Well, for one thing they offer only a tiny shot of coffee so they aren’t that practical. For another, you could just stop for a drink at a cafe with the added bonus that it also breaks up your journey. But who are we to judge?

Hopefully you found the above list useful whether you purchase something new for your car or not.

Best of the Web: Maintain A Car For A Road Trip Around The World

Dan and his Jeep in Patagonia

Dan Grec’s addiction to overlanding began in 2009 when he drove from the Northern tip of Alaska to Southern tip of Argentina–40,000 miles. He sitting at his work desk and realized that he was miserable so he did something about it. He quit his job and bought a $5,000 jeep and headed out for adventure.

Of course, the real story for us gear heads, is how did he keep the jeep alive? Here is an excerpt and picture from his story in Jalopnic.

Unlike your weekend off-road trip, on a multi-month or multi-year expedition to the far corners of the globe you won’t have friends and other vehicles for support. You’ll be tens of thousands of miles from the nearest NAPA, and you’re not likely to find diagnostic computers or four-post lifts at the village mechanic. In fact, it’s much more likely you’ll find oil-stained dirt floors and few tools more than vice grips, baling wire and, if you’re lucky, maybe even be a stick welder. What you will certainly find is friendly locals with plenty of ingenuity to overcome problems.

For more of Dan’s interesting story follow this link.

How Does Marriage Affect Car Driving?

One good thing about marriage is that it’s improves your ability to finance a car. Well maybe that’s not a good reason to get married, but a happy biproduct none the less. The co-borrower has to be a spouse, in order to take joint responsibility for the car they own. But is owning one car together good for your marriage? Does it create togetherness or strife?

More and more, a wife is responsible for her own car, but it all depends on how much she earns. Gone are the days of a “little woman” who can wait to go to the supermarket until the bread winner comes home from work. Women have their own incomes and buy their own cars, which is a reality that car makers are well aware of. They market to women, but single and married.

The x-factor is that married women often arrive at major purchase decisions as part of a team, so car makers must market at the couple in many cases. Though you are allowed to buy a car for your spouse, and you needn’t involve your spouse at all.

Cars that Market to Married Couples:

Married men may look to something like the Alfa Romeo which is marketed both for a couple and a young family. It has a choice of twin turbo or 2 liter, but both have a large amount of trunk space and legroom. So is the Porsche Panamera, though it may be thought of as a pre-family car.

Passat Arteon

The married woman may look towards a VW Passat Arteon in a strong yellow. A popular family car is the SUV such as Jaguar’s new F-Pace. It is seen as aggressive but apparently wife friendly, according to reports on the vehicle.

F-Pace by Jag

This all seems like strange old-fashioned marketing, but it’s out there. And possibly men still buy more cars for their wives than wives buy cars for their husbands. (It’s not clear where this leaves gay couples, maybe there’s a bit of cross over but there’s not currently stats on what cars market specifically gay couples.)

Car makers do market specifically to newly married couples differently than longer married couples. The latter opting towards a family car.

Different Driving Habits and Reputations:

On the topic of being old-fashioned, they are still stereotyping of woman being bad drivers and this unfortunately does seem to hold water as far as married women are concerned. Aviva, a car insurance company found that 53% of women feel nervous and even stressed when driving in front of their husband which in turn affects their driving.

Only 41% of men said their driving suffered with their wives in the car, though it could be that men may be more used to driving in front of their spouse.

More information may be gained (possibly misinformation?) from a poll in 2018 from Budget Insurance. Women were concerned more about aggressive driving from their spouse, which 27% decided was bad enough to be known as “road rage” and men felt they had the opposite predicament: their wives were too cautious.

The poll also stated that 20% of those surveyed felt their partner was dangerous behind the wheel, though more – 25% – had refused a trip with their partner due to fears over their safety. Many did state they could talk to their partner about their misdeeds.

There was other interesting things to learn from this poll: women worried about anger as well as speed, but with men it was total lack of ability, “doing silly things like hesitating at junctions”… Around 75% of men said they were the better driver, less than half of women (43%) said they were the better driver which means a sizable minority of couples consists of two people who think they are both the better driver and their partner can’t drive. Sounds like potential for fireworks.

So, what can we learn? It seems the secret to successful marriage is each partner having their own vehicle, and married couples know this because they buy more cars It best if they should stay away from each other’s vehicle as much as humanly possible. That’s if they wish to stay in marital bliss.

A Look Into The Headlights (and Sidelights)

Not literally! Okay, it’s just a title pun. The primary function of headlights when they decided to put them on cars, was to allow you to operate your vehicle at night, however they’ve become almost as well known for their unintended side effect—they make you more visible.

Headlights typically have two light levels, bright and dim. Because it’s difficult to see on rural roads without streetlights overhead, your car should come equipped with “brights.” Because driving in crowded roads with “brights” on can make it difficult for other drivers to see, you’ll spend most of your time driving with your “dims” on. For many years, the dimmer switch (controller) was available on the floor, though now it’s more commonly found on the steering column.

Signalling with Headlights

Headlights may be used to warn other road users of upcoming hazards including speed traps. Some manuals even describe the headlamps as an “optical horn” which seems a novel way of putting it but there you go.

So, lights on a car have become primarily used for signalling.

  • It can let you know of another car’s presence especially in the fog or on a dark night
  • That you are aware of another car’s action
  • That a car is indicating right of way
  • That a car has a certain problem, though it might be clear exactly what the problem is
  • To say thank you
  • Or most often to let you know your brights are on and they can’t see

Do you have a right to use the headlight to signal people? Opinions vary. For example, we mentioned warning other drivers of a speed trap, it’s not legal in some states. Some states say this is covered by the First Amendment or freedom to speech. This is evidently open to some interpretation.

Hidden Headlights

Hidden headlights are also known as pop-up headlights or flip-eye headlamps. Whenever they aren’t in use they are hidden, though the hiding place used varies. Some are mounted in a housing, while others retract into the hood or the fender. Sometimes they may be concealed behind a grille panel feature. The Buick Rivera introduced this feature to the public.

Mazda Pop-up Headlights

The first pop-up headlight to be “seen” was created by General Motors in 1939.

But the feature came and went as a “fashion statement”-possibly it’ll come back in the future. It’s biggest point of popularity was during the 1960s. This was the point where the lights couldn’t be aerodynamically designed. Although the Lotus Espirit and CS Spirit both date from 2004 it’s the last time these types of headlights were on a mass-produced vehicle. For some reason it became dated.

Unique Headlights

Tucker Torpedo

Mazda Furari created headlights which resemble a smile of blue neon.

Directional lighting of a sort was available for one year (1935) on a car called the Tatra, which simply allowed the driver to flip a switch and electromagnetically shift a reflector to illuminate the curb side only.

The Cizeta V16T has two pairs of pop-up headlights.

The Opel GT rolls over from the side rather than popping up. The 1948 Tucker Torpedo has a middle light which must have been slightly off-putting.

Types of Headlights

LED Headlights

Most headlights are halogen, LED, Xenon/HID, and Laser.

Good old halogen have been around since 1962 (the H1) and has been vastly improved since by tungsten filaments and pressurized iodine or bromine gas to increase illumination and lifespan. Not only did these improvements make the bulbs not burn themselves out so quickly, they also made them tougher. On the bright side (pun intended) they’re cost effective, but on the downside they’re only so bright. (Halogen cast a slight yellow tint that never gets as white as daylight). Also, they don’t last too long and some models are difficult to replace.

Laser headlamps have the best illumination but also cost the most to repair, which seems to happen to anyone who owns them as they need to be repaired after the slightest bit of damage.

Xenon Headlight

The DAF LED headlamp uses (as the name suggests) a low beam of LEDs. This means that the heat isn’t focused on one place. It also lasts a long time and is able to cope with a strong amount of vibration through use. LEDs can be fit in tight spaces, and they are energy efficient.

High end vehicles often come equipped with Xenon/HID headlamps because the mix of Xenon and Argon gasses create a very bright light at a long range. The downside is that they take a few seconds to reach their full brightness and they can be too bright. If you don’t enjoy having oncoming traffic flash their brights at you, it’s probably not worth getting a conversion kit to install this type of light. It’s also a very focused light so you see well what these lights hit and see very little of what they don’t hit, which impedes parking or lane changes. One final positive is that these lights can last for years without being changed.

From headlights to sidelights.

Although they are contained in the same unit as headlights, sidelights are used for slightly different purposes. The front ones give off a white light and the corresponding tail-lights give off a red light which will also light up your registration plate.

The sidelights are dimmer than the other lights on the car. They’re not there to keep the way ahead lit but instead to ensure you are visible and that other road users are able to pass you.

You shouldn’t use your headlights if parked as they affect other road users too much.

So that’s the end of a short look at headlights and sidelights, hopefully it was illuminating.