The Car and the Male and Female Thing


CompareIf you want to lose a girl, go on about cars. If you really want to lose a girl, take her to a motor show.

This seems to be the general image of the whole guy/gal thing. The whole idea of the testosterone-fuelled alpha male going on about cars for the fan of the hot rod, people like Chip Foose and Chris Jacobs. A car is not just something to get in to drive from A to B, it is a show that you are wealthy to the lady of your choice. It is what makes the great male who he is, or so it would seem.

Pitching these type of shows on sports channels seems to be the way to go, like Caffeine and Octane, found on the NBC Sports Network. Okay, there is something sporty about fast cars but this show is also going for those who like style. Not the usual macho audience, you might think. Though given the car theme calling it ‘Beer and Octane’ would send a bad message.

Why are cars macho though? You can almost hear the barroom arguments around this question. One side drawing a connection between a hot rod and his other favorite anatomy, while the other pushes the stereotype that women can’t park. This discussion could get a bit heated if it carries on too long.

It could be that the macho audience isn’t necessarily the one to advertise to, despite how it might come across on the small screen or on the billboards. With a family audience, it doesn’t always help to show the man in charge. An anecdotal study by the magazine Auto Trader showed that 92% of the viewers felt most of the ads were far too masculine,  the actual word might have been “hyper-masculine,” so maybe the advertisers haven’t picked up on how we really are? They might be better off showing more females behind the wheel, especially in family situations. If there’s a disconnect with your audience, the problem isn’t with your audience.

Speaking of surveys, there are many surveys done which show that women still want men to be in attractive cars, maybe they’re more attracted to the car? Well, one study had women choose between the same man–one in a Bentley and another in a beat-up Ford Fiesta–and most liked him better in the Bentley. The University of Cardiff in the U.K. conducted the study, but it might be a no-brainer, really…

When the study was repeated with men, the results were unclear. The popularity of an attractive woman seemed unaffected by the type of car she sat in. Maybe the guys just wanted to drive the vehicle themselves? It’s possible.


The Mini – From Paper to Production


By Paul Wimsett

What is the spark that brings a car into existence? Well, it’s probably the same as everything else. Someone is daydreaming and wonders “wouldn’t it be great if…?” And as the case with ideas, many of them go nowhere. And once in a while ideas really fly.

Take the Mini. It seems such an obvious design for a small car that we can’t imagine a time without it. But the problems with the small size meant that it probably needed a great deal of working out.  The solution of a “transverse engine front wheel drive” seems like nonsense to most people, so let’s break it down.

Transverse engine – having the engine facing the same way as the way you’re traveling.

Front wheel drive – having the engine drive the front wheels only.

These seem rather obvious but the Beetle for example has an engine that is at right angles to the way you’re traveling – it does make sense in a smaller car – and there could be a world where a Mini would have a four-wheel drive, only it would probably cost more. It’s all about coming up with the perfect vehicle.

mini-458330_1920The best part of these features is that it allows more room for both the luggage and the passengers, space is a premium in smaller vehicles. Whether there was an “Aha!” moment with the Mini it is difficult to say, but creating the right engine and the right drive seems to be part of it.

Once you create a brand of car you can develop it. The Countryman is a new version of the Mini which is all about advanced technology and better use of space. Because of the shape of the Mini there cannot be endless supplies of space in a vehicle and technology can only improve the vehicle so far. But these are marketable ways of changing the brand and creating a better vehicle to drive.

Speaking of marketing…

The best thing to happen to the Mini was the 1960’s. The number of celebrities that seemed to come out in favor of the Mini – George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Steve McQueen, and Mick Jagger improved its reputation by miles. It didn’t seem to be about luxury travel, it seemed to be all creating a British car that got you from A to B.

There have been failures too…

The first being the Issogonis. Created in 1959 one of the points you’d notice is that it looks look like a small Ford car rather than a Mini. There were some problems with this type of car, not least the strange name. The most pressing would be that it was hard to get at the engine. Maybe this was due to reducing a fairly big car’s design into a small car-the engine just didn’t quite fit in the same way. But there are always pitfalls in car production.

It seems now that the Mini is impossible to replace in the affections of the public, in spite of the fact that it is now made by an Anglo-German company. Still, you can’t expect everything to stay the same.

The Complicated World of Power Steering


Most of us think we know what power steering is – some kind of additional help needed to steer – but it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. It is all about making the whole process of steering easier. Without power assist, a car needs a great amount of pressure to steer it. Having some assistance means it is less of a strain.

Oddly enough the physical weight of the vehicle impacts how hard it is to force those tires to move sideways instead of rolling forward. Therefore, the reasons behind power steering come from the fact that cars and trucks are getting heavier and heavier, making them in turn difficult to manoeuver. The good news is that we haven’t run into any studies which suggest that drivers have become weaker.

What is the power behind power steering? Quite simply, hydraulics. But it’s too simple to stop there. For one thing, you need the engine on to use hydraulics. Without that the hydraulics actually work against the driver has to muscle the works of that system on top of shoving the tire against the friction of the rubber and road. The answer to that is to create a system that lets the car operate manually when there isn’t the power to the hydraulics. The way to switch between manual and power steering needs to be thought out in the design phase, every car uses a slightly different system.

The physical item which operates the power steering is known as an actuator. It’s basically a cylinder which moves thanks to hydraulics.

The Most Recent Advances:

Most recent improvements chalk up to tweaks to what already worked, BUT one advanced type of power steering has immerged–called “drive by wire” (also known as “steer by wire” or “brake by wire”) Created for off-road vehicles to make them less likely to break down due to jarring. The problem with this type of steering is that might be possible to hack from an outside force. But it can also be controlled by game controllers and laptops given the right type of alterations. Because you don’t need as many physical components as the usual type of power steering you cut down on weight. There are different systems in place for braking, parking and so on in these kinds of vehicles.


Brief History:

Surprisingly power steering dates back to the very early days of the automobile. In 1876, a carriage builder named Jeantaud created a special type of steering operation where the wheels operated in parallel. These pieces are now known as the Pitman and the Idler arms and are found in all vehicles. Without them no steering – manual or otherwise – could take place.

Prior to this gear, drivers were forced to apply so much pressure to the wheel that they struggled to judge the right steering pressure to the speed at which they moved. Often the result was vehicle tip at relatively low speed.old-1184126__340

The creation of a steering gear meant less pressure on the steering wheel. The steering gear used by Henry Ford didn’t become the pattern for later designs, probably because the worm gear is ultimately a better design. The worm (steering) gear got it’s name from worm roller it drove.

Power steering by computer also goes back further than you might think; to be precise a Toyota Cressida built in 1985. It was called by the complicated name of Progressive Power Rack and Pinion Steering, making it sound more like a streetcar than an automobile.

In Conclusion:

Perhaps the most surprising thing about power steering is that not all cars have it. It seems that it is still a luxury to some drivers.


Diesel Trucks Chevrolet vs. Ford Head to Head


Ford VS Chevy

(At the Kicker, we try to be agnostic about car brands. So while we’ll stop short of endorsing one over another in most cases, we do enjoy a good apples-to-apples comparison. PS Don’t forget to set your clocks back this Sunday!)

You know you’re going diesel for your next rig, and chances are you probably already have a pretty strong affinity for either Chevy or Ford. However, in the name of fairness and injecting a little variety into your life, find out just who comes out on top in the Chevy vs. Ford Wars: Diesel Edition. You might be surprised by some of the perks one make offers over another—and it might just be enough to lure you over the fence to the other side.

Even before dipping into the performance side of things, consider that Isuzu makes Chevy diesel trucks and Ford makes Ford trucks. Take that information and interpret it how you will, but some “purists” think this is a sign that Ford is the winner already—but not so fast. There are so many other considerations, like block and head materials as well as battery configuration.


Pop the Hood

When it comes to cylinder configuration, it’s a clear tie: Both vehicles boast a 90-degree V8 engine. Both make their head material out of aluminum, too, and this race is closer than anyone expected. However, things get shaken up a bit with the block material. Ford opts for compacted graphite iron while Chevy goes for cast iron. According to some, compacted graphite iron is stronger than cast iron, but of course, cast iron is a more classic (and proven) material.

With injection type, both Chevy and Ford use a Bosch Common Rail system (29,000 psi), making the race even more neck and neck. And that valve configuration? Both feature OHV 4 valves per cylinder. What about battery configuration? Chevy has a single 730 CCA battery while Ford ponies up a Dual 12-volt 750 CCA battery.


Pushing the Limits

The max torque reported for Ford is 677 with a max horsepower of 333. Chevy ups the ante with 671 max torque, but 360 horses. The most heavy duty of Fords, the F350, can haul 22,700 pounds with a fifth wheel and the Chevy Silverado 3500HD can carry an astounding 23,000 pounds with a fifth wheel. However, Ford offers a range of gear options while Chevy only has the 3.73 gear ratio available.

With engine displacement, Ford offers a 6.7-liter power stroke and Chevy is right on their heels with a 6.6-liter power stroke. Complete with a 3.9-inch bore for Chevy and a 4.06-inch bore for Ford, the engine comparison is really too close to call. For some, the stroke makes all the difference, and Ford offers 4.25 inches at a 16.2:1 ratio while Chevy has 3.9 inches and a 16.8:1 ratio.

Which one is the winner? As you can see, each one reigns supreme in different areas, so it really depends on personal preference, what you’ll be using your rig for and just how much hauling will be done. No matter which direction you head, keep in mind that a great way to up performance is to install a performance air filter or cold air intake—both of which will give your diesel engine the extra oxygen it craves.

Auto Care Too Scary to Skip


(Note: Thanks for enjoying our post, but don’t forget to set your clocks back this Sunday 11/4 or something really spooky could happen–like losing your job when you’re late for work!) 

Do you really need to fix that tiny crack in the windshield if it’s not spreading and doesn’t impact your vision? Is it really necessary to fix that dent in the bumper if you have no hopes of selling your old faithful for a decent profit? The answer “it depends” applies for many repairs and maintenance, but there are some auto TLC steps that should never be skipped. You might be able to skate by with a scratched fender or dent from losing a shopping cart battle in the parking lot, but other fixes, repairs and maintenance are crucial.

A reputable collision repair shop won’t push you to do anything that isn’t necessary. However, don’t assume that just because an issue looks superficial and unimportant that it is. A good “trust test” is to see if a shop offers free walk-in estimates, and whether or not you get a “sales-y” vibe while there. You should be able to get a preview and estimate of what’s in store without committing yourself (and your cash) to a shop.

Like Whitney Said, Crack is Wack

It might not seem like that crack in the windshield is getting worse, and you may not think it impairs your vision, but both things are probably happening. Just like the crack happened suddenly, it can spread suddenly. It’s much easier and cost-effective to fix a smaller crack than replace an entire pane of glass. Plus, you owe it to yourself, passengers and other drivers to have a clear vision of the road in front of you.semi-trailers-2035151_1920.png

As an added bonus, glass replacement and repair is often much more affordable than you imagine. A lot of the time it will be even less than your deductible, which means you’ll avoid changes in your auto insurance because of it. It’s possible you’ll wake up one morning to find a tiny crack has spider-webbed across the entire pane, so get it taken care of now.

Wheels vs. Tires

These words are often (wrongly) used interchangeably. Tires are the black rubber that actually touches the roads, and wheels are the metal or plastic pieces that hold tires in place. You know it’s paramount to have good tire traction and pressure, but aren’t wheels just for looks? Not at all, and a broken wheel might be causing you to lose tire pressure or even impact steering capability.

Wheels are the frames of your tires and need to be in great working condition at all times. Wheel repairs can help improve safety, ease driving and help keep your vehicle aligned. It’s important that both your tires and wheels are in great shape because when they are flawed they can certainly lead to a sudden accident. If your wheel is dented and pushing into the tire, it can suddenly puncture it while you’re going 70 mph on the freeway with disastrous consequences.

When to See a Pro

For wheels, windshields, frame straightening, alignments, suspensions and headlight repairs, it’s crucial that you get these problems taken care of right away. Even better, if you locate a shop that offers a lifetime guarantee, you’ll rest easy while rocking out on your commute knowing that you’re covered.


It’s A Small World – Looking At Microcars, Microtrucks, and Microbikes


In the age of the microchip and the microcomputer, it is understandable that other areas of technology are looking for smallness. In the case of cities, this makes sense as a microcar, for instance, is easier to park and maneuver, though creating something like a microbus, for example, would just be silly!

What are Microcars?

th (2)Microcars are designated as smaller than “city cars” or “subcompacts”, although the term is used rather loosely, a microcar can also be a city car. In the UK a microcar has to have less than 700cc worth of power or be powered by a battery. The lowest amount of cc this type of car can have is 49cc, which is the same amount you’d find in electric bike. The wheels must be between 6-8 inches.

Other differences include: Many microcars don’t even have a reverse gear. Some don’t technically have a door–it is, in fact, the bodywork that lifts up (seems rather cool). Microcars may be treated as motorcycles for insurance purposes. In some countries such as Austria, Belgium or France someone who banned through driving can still drive a microcar, though this is not currently the case in the US. Another advantage of microcars is parking. They are easier to park and easier to find a spot for.

Please note that some types of microcar are banned from highways altogether, for instance, quad bikes (also known as quadricycles).


220px-Mazda_Scrum_TruckMicrotrucks are slightly more powerful than microcars (total power up to 1000cc). They are most popular China and Japan, as in the U.S. they’re not considered road legal. One of the most popular is the Japanese Kei truck, which weighs about 700Kg (1543lbs), about half the weight of VW Beetle, according to Another popular model is the Daihatsu Midget which slightly resembles the more well-known Tuk Tuk truck.

Even in the U.S. these trucks have picked up a following among groundskeepers on large estates, golf courses, and ranches.


A few years ago the many countries including the U.S. went through a min-moto and go-ped craze. The title of microbike seems to fit better with these vehicles as a category. As with microtrucks they aren’t suitable for the highway, which is just as well as it impossible to stay on them for any length of time. In terms of power, they range between 39 and 50cc. There are a number of opportunities to drive them on dirt tracks throughout the country or fail to drive them as the case may be.

One early minibike was the tote-goat (mini), by Bonham Corp. which packed a strong engine capable of towing fairly good sized trailers from point to point. Starting in 1959 and ending in 1970 these little beasts often topped out far below 10 mph. In the 80’s it wasn’t rare to see a pre-teen dashing about the family farm, fetching an empty hay wagon from one field to another.

A side note here: There is a number of uses of cc in this article. It can either stand for cubic centimeters or cylinder capacity, which generally speaking amounts to the same thing. It’s quite complicated to measure how much cylinder capacity an engine has, it all comes down to multiplying by pi and so on, but put simply, the bigger the engine the bigger the capacity. In other words, you need to know more about the engine that this micro-article can tell you to work it out!