5 Things To Test on Your Test Drive

Probably don’t try this on your next test drive…

Test-driving many automobiles is recommended before deciding on your first or next car purchase. You may usually take a brief test drive in any vehicle at a dealership. In a test drive, you’ll be able to visualize yourself in the driver’s seat of that specific vehicle. Taking a test drive may benefit both you as a consumer and the dealership.

However, if this is your first car, you may not know what you should be looking for or testing on the test drive. It’s not just learning the feel of the car or how well it drives on the road; there is a lot more to it. This is the time you will gain first-hand experience with the car, and you can make the best choice based on comfort and lifestyle. Here are a few things to keep in mind when test driving your first few cars.

Things To Consider On Your Test Drive

Before getting in the car, it is essential to look at each car thoroughly. You will need to inspect the body for any dents, scrapes, or scratches. This will be how you first pick out the vehicles to test drive.

Test The Turn Signals

As soon as you get into the car, make sure you know where the turn signals are and if they actually work. This will help you understand the car better and avoid potential trouble when testing the vehicle.

Let It Idle

When you first turn it on, leave it on for a few minutes before driving. During these few minutes, you’ll be able to tell if there is anything wrong with the engine. If it makes any abnormal noises for cars, it may be a sign there are already problems with the car. This can be especially important for anyone shopping for used vehicles.

Use Stop and Go Traffic To Your Advantage

No one likes stop-and-go traffic, but this is one of the best ways to test your potential new car. If the brakes feel clunky, you will feel it during the ride multiple times. You will need to listen to grinding or squealing that also happens during the stop-and-go traffic. Paying attention to how this car responds will be essential to making the right choice.

Take It On The Highway

You should always take it on the highways and drive it above 55 MPH to see how well it goes from slow to fast. The transition to highway speed is crucial in everyday life. You will understand if the car accelerates quickly or if it is slow to speed up. Going fast will also help you know the steering wheel better, ensuring it doesn’t pull to one side or the other.

Test Out Parallel Parking

Another good way to test out the steering wheel is to parallel park. If it is too stiff to move, you will have difficulty parking well. This test will also allow you to see how well the car shifts from reverse to drive. Understanding how efficient the car will be in the future is a huge bonus.

How To Pick The Best Fit

Once you’ve tested several cars, you will want to pick something based on your everyday driving habits. If you dislike manual transmissions, go for an automatic car. Other drivers may park a lot depending on where they work and live, so they will need to pay close attention to the steering wheel.

When you start test driving cars, it is to find the best fit for you. Buying a car that is not practical for everyday use will be the wrong choice for you. Keep in mind that you may have to test drive many cars before finding the perfect one for you.

The Best Answer

While you need to test drive a car yourself for many reasons, like personal taste and leg room, etc. If you aren’t sure you can detect mechanical issues by a 5 minute loop around the neighborhood you should contact a pre-purchase inspection service like our sponsor Tire Kickers. They will test drive it and look up the history, check under the hood and under the car. They’ll compare it to other cars of that type and establish the value based on similar cars in similar condition in your area. It’s the only way to be certain you have the information you need to make a good car buying decision.

Can a Dash Cam Get You Out Of a Ticket?

A dashboard camera or dash cam, as the name indicates, is a camera that is attached to the dashboard of your car. When an accident occurs, a dash cam is supposed to function as a “silent witness” by recording everything that happens on the road, from the time of impact until help arrives.

While you may have an impeccable driving record, keep in mind that not everyone on the road is a safe driver, and accidents can occur. The dash cam was never meant to be an accident-prevention device, but rather a recording device that would provide an impartial record of what occurred in the event of an accident.

Every driver has had to deal with traffic penalties at some point in their driving career, regardless of whether they’ve been behind the wheel for a few months or decades. Perhaps you were rushing to get to work on time and sped up to avoid a ticket. Alternatively, you may have overlooked that your taillight was out in the first place. But occasionally, we get a ticket for a crime we didn’t commit. Installing a dash cam can help you drive safer but also get you out of a ticket. Here are some types of most common tickets among drivers and how installing a dash cam can get you out of them.

Dash Cams Helping You Out of Speeding Tickets

Many people have gotten pulled over for speeding. It is one of the most common tickets a driver will face throughout the year. This is also something that can be hard to prove in a court of law. It’s your word against the officer who gave you the ticket. If you have proof from a dash cam about how fast you were going and the speed of the street, you are more likely to prove your innocence. Each modern dash cam has a built-in GPS that also tracks how fast your car is going.

Illegal Turns or Stops

Your installed dashboard camera will be able to pick up when you use your blinker at a light or when you stop. It records everything for your safety and others. Once you take this footage to court, it will help the judge understand if you are at fault or not.

Cell Phone Usage

In most states, it is illegal to use your phone while driving. However, for many police officers, it can also be hard to see through windows; they have to make an educated guess on what you are doing. If you install a dual-facing dash cam, it will also record what is going on inside of the car. This can help prove if you were not on the phone the time your ticket happened.

Helps Identify If You Wore a Seatbelt

It is illegal to not wear a seatbelt while driving in many states. This is another instance when a dual-facing dash cam will come in handy to prove that you are wearing one while driving.

Should You Get a Dash Cam?

You probably think you are a good driver, but mistakes do happen. Police officers are responsible for keeping the streets safe, and sometimes it may look like you did something you didn’t do at all. Installing a dashboard camera is the best way to record your surroundings but also record your own actions to prove your way out of a speeding ticket.

Without one of the dashboard cameras, you may not have proof. It may come down to your account of things, and the police officer’s account of things, especially if no other cameras are recording the area. It is important to have something that will record an unbiased video of what happened during an incident.

Best of the Web: Road Trip Itinerary

Valerie and Valise is a travel blog by a travel writer and photographer, Valerie with her Husband. In this post she gives tons of information about the Pacific Coast Highway, which is one of our favorite places to travel by car. We could write about it all day, but we’ll let Valerie do it for us!

Here’s a taste, but follow the link for more great information.

What/Where is the Pacific Coast Highway? How Long is it?

How long is the Pacific Coast Highway? Before launching into a bunch of details for where to stop along the Pacific Coast Highway, I need to define a few things:

  1. The Pacific Coast Highway is located in the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, and California.
  2. The Pacific Coast Highway runs along two highways: US 101 in Washington, Oregon, and parts of California and California Highway 1 in the majority of California.
  3. From end-to-end, the Pacific Coast Highway is 1,675 miles long from Olympia, WA to San Diego, CA.

Now that you know the details, let’s dig into logistics of planning your own Pacific Coast Highway road trip itinerary!

Link to original post.

Electric Trucks And Similar Vehicles.

Rivian E-Pickup Truck

To create a new electric truck company it seems as if you need the right people to invest in you. One example is Rivian who is backed by the business giant Amazon. The Amazon stake is high – 20% of the company, but then again Ford has a 12% backing to the company.

You might need Einstein to work out the math. Although it’s produced only 150 trucks it’s valued at $100 billion, which is about 66 thousand million dollars per truck.

It’s not only the prestige of being backed by Amazon and Ford but this does work wonders. There are several competitors on its tail, such as GM. Rivian cannot survive by coolness alone. It has 55,000 trucks due to be built as well as an electric SUV set to hit the market so this should be added into the equation. Can it be scaled up okay? It needs to grow a huge amount to make waves against Tesla, though a valuation of Rivian says it will sell 3 million vehicles in 10 years.

Not all critics agree with this assessment, it will always need the assistance of Ford, remember. There is a total lack of proof so a bit of healthy skepticism is in order. Still, this sort of calculation is done all the time, there’s been hundreds of business startups.


Arrival Electric Delivery Vehicle

Whereas many vehicles are being built in mega-factories the Arrival brand is being constructed in what is known as “microfactories” beginning in South Carolina. One small factory can make either 10,000 vans or buses. These vehicles won’t be on the market until later in 2022. It’s biggest selling point is price due to them being constructed by a composite metal instead of something similar to steel.

Since they are marketing towards fleet operators-that is logistic companies and transport companies they can be more certain of a client than those companies who rely on car lot sales. They can also be competitive with price. The shot in the arm for Arrival seems to be money from such brands as Hyandai and Kia.

BYD Motors

Based in LA, BYD Motors, are set to deliver five refuse vehicles, all class 8, to New Jersey. If you’re interested in specifics, two can hold 25 cubic yards of garbage and the other three can hold 10 cubic yards of garbage. They can run for eighty miles (about the distance between Jersey City and New Haven) and take a mere two hours to charge.

Electric Vehicles = Infrastructure

Electric trucks like all electric vehicles require the correct infrastructure, but the difference is staggering in that a semi going long distance (OTR) will need way more infrastructure than cars that might only get used around town. This isn’t only a matter of money but also time. The state of California to this end has organized a three-year hydrogen fueling and charging initiative for electric trucks, what they call heavy duty infrastructure.

It aims at zero carbon fuel production where possible and near zero carbon fuel production where that target is not feasible. Could these be weasel words? Who’s to say what is possible and what isn’t?

At least $244 million is added to allow for the manufacture of zero emission trucks. Is it possible to have zero emissions by 2035? Not without a huge amount of funding including EV truck stops with solar power. Everyone needs something to aim at though.

Canoo Electric Truck

Honorable mention goes to Canoo Electric Truck which is more of a camper van. Still its an impressive vehicle with multiple expandable work surfaces and outlets throughout the bed and storage compartments. Known for its 2019 microbus the Canoo Pickup will be available in 2023. The California based company believes this will be popular with their adventurous customer base.

Deadline 2030ish – How Cars May Change

When governments and car companies start planning for 2030 or 2035 they are no longer planning for the long term, but the midterm. The planning centers on getting more green vehicles on the market. Although the planning is technically midterm, they’re trying to look at the long term. Of course, “environmentally sound” is in the eye of the scientist. (Still haven’t found an sound way to mine or dispose of those batteries, have we?)

Cars which run on gas power are known by the acronym ICE for vehicles with an Internal Combustion Engine. The stated goal of this phase a “phase-out” of ICE cars.

The target in California doesn’t include heavier trucks but it does include off-road vehicles.

You will be able to buy a hybrid car in 2030, up until 2035.

52% vehicle sales will be all-electric by 2030, according to the latest figures. The plan is to breed a bunch more Elon Musks who will create another bunch of electric car start-ups by this date which will create this demand (or at least the public’s interest in these companies will create this demand). This distinction may be important. One obvious thorn in this plan is that Elon Musk (the 1st) is already moving his manufacture out of California as its too tax heavy.

A recent survey found that most people surveyed felt that these new start-ups will have a moderate effect on sales. Remember they are called start-ups, but these are also huge businesses selling thousands, even tens of thousands of cars.

Although 91% of those polled support the program (that’s not the same as wanting to buy an electric car by the way), only 77% felt it could be achieved without the subsidy of the government.

Manufacture Innovation Adoption (Er…Absorption)

It’s not the same throughout the industry. Ford and GM only went for a goal of 50% by 2030. Why is that particularly important to pay attention to? Because if history shows us anything in the car business its that these startups will eventually be swallowed up by a bigger company. So why not use the larger company you may ask. Traditionally, large companies get comfortable leading the market and miss opportunities to meet hidden demand. That’s a fancy way of saying they use there market position to sell cars that people don’t really want until people get so frustrated that they go start their own car company that does make a desirable product. After the new car company innovates, the established company buys them out and continues to incorporate the innovation. Okay that’s a pretty radical depiction of the situation, but on some level its true.

State Incentives

It seems that only a few states are currently offering real incentives for drivers of electric vehicles, such as Arizona, California, Colorado and Texas. Florida is the most populous state which is currently not considering an electric car revolution.

The margin of error for the studies of market adaption is somewhere between 20% and 90%, which is a wide to the point of being meaningless. Does it all come down to the mindset of the American consumer? Yes. Is the consumer fickle? YES!

The Rest of the World

It is a worldwide problem. China and Japan will also undergo a steep climb in car sales over the same period. Japan has plans to achieve total electric cars by the 2030s (though doesn’t give an exact year). They also plan to be totally carbon neutral by the year 2050.

Looking at French speaking Canada, the light duty ICE vehicles will no longer be on sale in Quebec. Something that may confuse you is the omission of a distinction between electric and hybrid vehicles. There is a rebate offered if you rent or purchase an electric vehicle (this offer does seem to differentiate between electric and hybrid) but it is unclear if this rule will remain in place by the end of the decade.

It remains to be seen how serious the governments of the world are. Also, it’s likely that the lack of distinction between hybrid and EV is owed to politicians hedging their bets against Consumers who aren’t ready to limit their travel to only 300 miles at a go.

E-racers – Grand Turismo and Forza

It seems that the virtual world of racing is as interesting as the real world of racing. As always, it depends on how you like your thrills.

Grand Turismo

Starting with the Grand Turismo brand; Grand Turismo 7 has been linked with the Porsche brand since 2017. It’s different from designing a car as it’s all about what it feels like to be behind the wheel and although you need to know something about the interior and the paintwork this isn’t the main focus.

The Deep Forest Roadway is apparently back as is the Trial Mountain and the High-Speed Ring.

This is the first year that a Porsche has been developed for the game, as if it were a concept car or one-off. It’s not a car you’d see on the road now, it’s far too futuristic an aesthetic.

Porsche Taycan

It needs to look and feel as if it were a Porsche-in other words, have the correct proportions and the iconic light strip which is linked with the brand. It has a hologram display in a curved shape which is also linked with Porsche and has the low seat associated with a racing car. Although these features wouldn’t necessarily work in real life.

The LED headlights are certainly reminiscent of the Porsche but to be clearer it is most similar to a Taycan, a Porsche electric sports car.

The titanium and carbon casing that the car were accounted for in the weight and wind dynamics effect on the cars handling. Funny enough, made sure that interior appears to be made out of vegan elements. Not sure why a car that doesn’t actually exist in real life needs to go that far, but…there you have it.

The display reacts to the steering wheel/controller as quickly as it can be. There are a number of mysteries under the hood which the game merely hints at.

Apparently, creating a concept car so real your competitors could potentially steel your design ideas from it’s avatar in a racing game is a concern for Porsche. Remember when automakers tried to keep people from viewing their design models so you couldn’t reverse engineer them—well, now adays you might be able to do it from a digital footprint.

Forza Horizon 7

Forza Horizon 7 has introduced speedsters such as the Lamborghini Aventador and various other vehicles recognizable to road users such as the 2011 Ferrari. There is also the 1939 Maserati which might only be considered highly recognizable to vintage car experts.

Do people buy the Forza Horizon for the different qualities of car horns which can be heard? It’s highly unlikely, but they made the horn sounds accurate and we nerds thank them for adding a new level detail to the gameplay.

Unfortunately, its predecessor Forza Motorsport 7 stopped being available in online stores in September 2021. The only way to buy it as a boxed copy is now second hand.

1939 Maserati

This seems to be the way of things; gone are the days of owning a physical copy of a game. People must prefer to buy it online and play it online without a physical box or file that you can hold.

Even if you delete Forza Motorsport 7 and similar games you can redownload it for nothing (in a similar way as you can redownload apps).

As of December 2021, there’s no news of the game which is simply called Forza Motorsport, or the one called Forza Motorsport 8. Project Woodstock is also linked to Forza but again there’s scant news about these projects.

This keeps everything guessing about the latest fads, so it probably keeps online racers intrigued. We’d love to write a post about how racing game developers are pushing designers to innovate real cars, or something along those lines, but game developers don’t seem to be able to push themselves to release their own games on time. So we’ll work with what we have. Look for updates as they become available.

What Do Car Smells Mean?

Although something chemical smelt when taking a trip doesn’t always mean you are in imminent danger, it’s always best to know what the most common odors mean and what you should do next…

Serious Smells…

If you detect a rotten egg smell it’s sulfur gas or hydrogen sulfide leaking from the catalytic converters or maybe the fuel filters. If the fluid in the filter isn’t changed it can create a rotten egg smell throughout the system.

A mold or mildew smell could be a problem with the air conditioner, possibly items like leaves or sweet wrappers blocking it. This may in turn lead to water flowing onto your carpets or mats. The air conditioner should be run every month or so for about two minutes, but most people forget—especially in the winter.

A strange syrupy or candy smell is the odor of the coolant, also known as ethylene gycol, the same substance used in antifreeze. It may mean that your car is in danger of overheating. It shouldn’t be driven but taken immediately to a repair shop.

The smell of smoke or burning oil is probably an oil leak. If the oil leak hits the exhaust a fire will result, so it’s vital that this is dealt with immediately.

Should you encounter something similar to burnt paper especially when moving the gears could be the result of pressing down the clutch pedal too much. Not many people know that the clutch is sensitive to overuse and as a result could fail.

Burning plastic may be a short circuit, for example a wire being worn down, or alternately, chewed by a small animal. Another explanation would be an item such as a plastic bag entering the exhaust. It’s best to take it to be repaired as both of these are too dangerous to be dealt with by most regular car owners.

A smell of gas a long time after you fill the tank should be cause for concern. Sometimes gasoline does spill onto shoes, coats etc. so it’s always best to check. It could be something like a faulty gas cap or fuel injector. As always, it’s best to take it to the garage.

If you can smell what seems like the exhaust when you are sitting in the car the best thing to do is to roll down your window and take it to the garage immediately.

Lifestyle Smells…

Here are some handy hints to remove smells which you may encounter in everyday use, apart from the item most commonly used–air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror!

A smell from the car’s carpet may be removed by a car vacuum, especially if it has steam clean or a wash function.

Baking powder shouldn’t be placed on the upholstery for instance but placed in a bowl and left in the car overnight to attack any smells in the vicinity.

Those tumble dryer sheets can do miracles if it’s a hot day. Just leave a couple in the back window to replace smells and leave a fresh scent. Or you could use a freshly washed cushion or towel, as long as you remember to remove it after about a day.

A water and vinegar mixture can remove the smell of vomit – and remove it with a vinegar smell but pick your battles, eh!

So now that you’ve cleared your car of bad “lifestyle” smells, you have no excuse to miss an odor that indicates a mechanical issue.

Tesla and Mercedes Reliability

You can always rely on Tesla and Mercedes Benz right? Wrong. Despite an increase in their technical ability these are two cars which sit at the bottom of the Auto Reliability Report.

It gets worse though. The report investigates in excess of 300,000 cars and compares how they perform.

To be fair, the list is not comprehensive to all cars. They’re attempting to compare Apples to Apples, so they only include car models that were introduced within the past three years. (Any car brand which has had a major redesign can only have the redesigned car or cars investigated.) So basically this isn’t attempting to compare the reliability of new Tesla to a 1969 Ford Pinto or something. We’re talking about reliability issues when compared to other new model cars.

There appears to be problems with high technology – the digital controls are a headache for some people to understand. Exactly why some fairly inconspicuous things such as door handles keep being redesigned seems to be another mystery. In other words, designers and engineers still struggle with what the public will consider user friendly.

The study of making something intuitive is called UXUI and it’s been a chronic struggle in all technology reliant fields for many years.

So with all excuses, er, valid reasons, and caveats now listed, here are the findings.

The Tesla Model Y has the unfortunate honor of being one of the 10 least reliable cars, which includes how the paint reacts to stimulus, the climate system and so on. Yet many people still want to buy a Tesla.

There have been complaints of various scratches on the paintwork, creaking doors and even rattling heard while driving. These aren’t major issues, but they will be annoying for any owner. Certainly, it’s not what you may expect from a luxury car.

The noise problem specifically, may be a symptom of another common complaint– “panel gaps.” A panel gap happens during the car’s construction. The car’s various panels, such as the roof, each of the doors, the hood and so on can only have so much room between it and the next panel or it will result in weird noises when driving. There is a special instrument which measures how much panel gap there is.

RepairPal marks the Mercedes Benz as average, which although makes it a typical car isn’t what you expect from a Merc. They cost an average repair cost of $908 per year which is, it turns out, the average cost of repairing a car. One might expect to pay more to fix a luxury car, but to have less frequent cause to repair them. Only 13% of all repairs are severe but that’s generally the case with all repairs from all makers studied.

Again, this is a new car, not one you bought off a teenager who modified it for street racing or something.

The cost of ownership is related to reliability – how likely it is to break down – and how much it costs when it does. To put a spin on the problems with Mercedes, at least people aren’t experiencing out of the ordinary repair bills. It’s the normal repair bills which are the problem.

In tests the BMW performs better than the Merc. According to the Reliability Index, the Mercedes Benz is rated about the same as a Jeep, which sounds all right, until you realize that a Jeep isn’t a luxury brand, so it could be argued that paying more for prestige didn’t also buy you a better vehicle. Based on these numbers you’re better off buying a Jeep and saving up the rest for repairs.

So, if the prestige is what you care about, you are still okay. So that means Mercedes Benz neither overdelivers nor underdelivers.

Not everyone agrees with this assessment – after all the Mercedes E-class was the 2021 Car of the Year including quality of the ride. The ride quality is to do with how well the car deals with road surface looks, rather than the aesthetic nature of the dashboard or how comfortable the car seat looks. So, we aren’t being very fair if we indicate that Merc buyers are only going for prestige. Quality is in the eye of the car buyer and your decision could be based on your own list of criteria.

Our only challenge is the perception many buyers have, that luxury cars are “better quality,” which may or may not be true if you’re viewing it through the lens of the repair bill.

Fluid Dynamics and Cars

Rumpler Tropfenwagen

Nerd alert: as in were going to talk physics but I promise it won’t get too complicated.

What actually accelerates a car? Well there is the driver and the tires and so on, but technically acceleration is any change in velocity, and velocity is speed in a single direction. So the steering wheel accelerates you around a corner and the brakes technically accelerate you to a stop.

The air around a car exerts force on it as well. To improve the speed and fuel economy of a car you will have to look at fluid dynamics. Dynamics is the science of mechanics where objects are pushed or pulled around by forces. Mechanics is the science of anything moving or in motion.

We don’t think of air as a fluid but every gas is essentially a fluid for the purpose of studying how it flows or is moved through. Newton’s second law says motion…okay, okay, we’ll knock it off. You get the picture.

When viewing the pictures in this post it helps to know two things:
1st that aerodynamic cars are more like concept cars–not practical for large scale production despite the hopes and dreams of the designers.
2nd that air is not only pushed out of the way in an efficient manor but the manor in which the air collapses behind a fast moving object can also create drag.

Are you still with us?

The History of Aerodynamic Designed Cars

Amazingly, the first car built with aerodynamics in mind appears to be in the 19th Century. Created by Camille Jenatzy (who was also known as the Red Devil) it reached 50mph, which though nothing special today, was the fastest a car had ever gone at the time. 

Camille Jenatzy – Jamias Contente

The vehicle which broke the record, La Jamias Contente, which translates as Never Content looks bizarre to modern eyes and was probably extremely out of the ordinary when it was manufactured too. It was a battery powered vehicle rather than using gas or diesel. The position of the driver was incredibly high.

Although the bodywork looks as if it were made from aluminum it is actually a light alloy called partinum, a compound of aluminum, tungsten and magnesium. Where this car succeeded an fluid dynamics it failed as car. Not good at steering so roundabouts were out of the question.

Remember the Rumpler Tropfenwagen? No. We don’t blame you. It’s a weird name for a car only remarkable in the context of earodynamic design. Named after its creator Edward Rumpler, who looked at the natural world for inspiration shaping the car like a water droplet. Even today many cars are droplet or bubble shaped. A drop shape isn’t the most aerodynamic of designs-else all racing cars would be shaped that way–it’s an excellent example of the use of aerodynamics in the vintage period.

Tatra 77

Another early car which used aerodynamics was the Tatra T77, created in 1946 by Paul Jaray. Paul Jaray was an engineer who also designed airships and seaplanes and one of the first people to use wind tunnels in car design. Although more conventional looking than the Jamais Contente it still used strong mechanical principles. The Tatra would pave the way for further Volkswagen (motor company) designs, though not a VW itself.

These days a wind tunnel seems a relic from another era. Now days, design is done through computer modelling. It is expensive to build and maintain a wind tunnel, and with computers you can tweak your car design to adapt to different aerodynamics in an instant, even changing design for a single component change to the car. However, we have these awesome computer models because designers gathered so much data from testing every kind of design they could dream up.

Nowadays it would be unthinkable to design a car for the public without looking at aerodynamics. Maximizing fuel economy and increasing the driving experience ads value to your vehicle just as much as “looking cool.”