Just for Fun 60

If you’re waiting for a sign, here it is. Get your car inspected before you buy so you don’t overpay. TireKickers!

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Until now, you didn’t know that getting a car inspection before buying will keep you from buying an unsafe car. Now you do. Tire Kickers come to you.

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Best of the Web: Mercedes Concept Avatar


There are many questions one could ask about the Avatar-inspired concept car that Mercedes-Benz unveiled Monday night at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show. Why did the company think this was the best way to highlight its sustainability goals? How much of the ideas and technology in the car will ever translate to the road? And why Avatar?

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What’s News: Sony E-car?

Will we get the chance to drive the EV in Gran Turismo Sport?

We usually associate the Sony brand with the Walkman music player, the Vaio laptops, Bravia TVs or the PlayStation gaming console. While the tech giant does have a bunch of new products to show at CES this year from its typical area of expertise, the Tokyo-based company is also displaying something only very few expected – a car. It’s called the Vision-S and takes the shape of a sleek EV with a highly advanced autonomous driving system and a design that might make you think of a mashup between a Porsche Taycan and a Lucid Air.

Created primarily to showcase what Sony can bring to the table in terms of automotive technologies, the showcar has been developed in collaboration with big names such as Nvidia, Continental, Bosch, ZF, and Qualcomm. The zero-emissions sedan is equipped with no fewer than 33 sensors to detect people and objects not just outside of the car, but also inside that modern four-seat cabin with individual rear seats and giant glass roof.

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Marriage Cars

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Everyone knows or should know that when it comes to the big bucks, look at things like weddings. If you’re in the car business, this rule of thumb still applies. Rather than a more generic car rental or occasion car rental business. Although many of these companies are international, you can find different companies by stating your home city or the venue city you hope to get married in.

Compare wedding car rental firms; one in New York, one in Orlando and finally one in Texas. In New York ads feature brands such as Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Porsche. It is all about the luxurious experience, in the Big Apple. Orlando, however, uses a wider range such as motorcycle escorts and golf carts as well as limousines and sedans. Texas wedding car specialist have a larger selection than the one in New York, and included vehicles like Trolley buses and “San Francisco style” buses.

antique-16050_1920Smaller wedding car rental specialists stock vehicles for rustic wedding, which begs the question, are big players are missing a trick here?”

There is always space for novelty, for instance having your new surname on the license plate. The biggest place for novelty, and it goes without saying, is Las Vegas. It is not that hard to find companies which will escort you in monster limos (aka presidential limos), stretch trucks, English style Double Decker buses, vintage cars or even horse and cart. The weirdest transportation found for a Las Vegas event is a zip-wire, which begs the question: Why?

But going back to cars, an important insider tip is that they all seem to have cars in stock that you can’t find looking through their websites. It’s most likely the result of not keeping up inventory, but the lesson here is call or visit.

stretch-limousine-2714963_1920.jpgAnother helpful hint is to verify that the car you pick up to use is the car you selected online. Even if you’re happy with the switch see if you can get a partial refund. It is important that the driver’s gratuity can be part of the total invoice of your bill – helpful when you sort out your tax bill.

Additional time is possible, but may will add up. For example, one business quoted $175-$200 per hour. So, if your occasion goes on to the small hours or even continues over several days (as some weddings might do, especially for instance Indian weddings) this could send prices rocketing.

One factor some companies think of and others don’t is the addition of large umbrellas. This is a life saver in many cases. Ask if they’ll supply them if you suspect rain, if they don’t bring them yourself.

If you are getting married, congratulations on the happy event, however you get to and from the church, chapel or whatever…

 

The 2019 Car Awards

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It’s been a strange year for cars. They might even need image boost. The car industry might do well to hire an image consultant. These awards could focus on greener vehicles and ditch the gas guzzlers, but the truth is the gas guzzlers will remain popular for some years to come. So The Kicker will focus our awards on a wider spectrum of vehicles (small cars, electric and hybrids, and more.)  It’s award opening time once more.

The best-selling car of 2019 was again the Ford F series pickup but what is new is the runner up—Dodge Ram Pickup. 3.7% of all car sales in the US were this specific car. The Dodge massively overhauled its Ram pickup look, which they describe as “rugged” and “premium.” Perhaps they’ve overhauled their sales and marketing efforts as well, because they have closed the gap with Ford. But it seems like the Ford F series pickup will be the winner next year as well, it’s almost a done deal.

The best-selling small car of 2019 is the Volkswagen GTI, according to Usnews.com. It is described as having playful handling and sufficiently spacious for a number of family members and their cargo. It has a user-friendly infotainment system. It might be described as a combination between the VW and GTi worlds?

The most surprising car of 2018 is the BMW X7. BMW are best known for small cars of an athletic type whereas this car is more of an SUV. It’s a huge monster of a car but is easy to handle thanks to responsive steering.

The most powerful Sedan of 2019 is the Dodge Charger, as with last year we rely on the Kelley Blue Book for our information. There is a wide range of models, colors and engines so you can take your pick on what is right for you. But the distinct trim is noticeable and thematically consistent.

The best-selling electric car of 2019 is another BMW model, the BMW5. It seems to be getting technology and prestige into a compact space. Added to this are driver aids and the Apple CarPlay smartphone. Wifi is included in the premium package. (This is also according to the Kelley Blue Book.)

For the best-selling hybrid, the winner this year is the Honda Insight. The style of the new Insight has gone from a hatchback to a more sedan look. The greatest selling point is its fuel economy, whether you are using electric or gas power. This car performed excellently on a special test track as well as on back roads, according Edmonds website. Sounds like interesting work to us, where do you sign up?

The special prize goes to Tax Rebates on Electric Vehicles, though it’s a bit of a wooden spoon. When in effect in the US it successfully pushed people into taking the leap to all electric. At the moment Tesla is the biggest winner of tax rebates, especially in India, where Tesla looks to be the number one supplier to one of the biggest markets and the country plans to be all-electric by 2030. China plans to have 9% of its cars electric thanks to fuel subsidies. A Cleaner Vehicle Grant began in the UK in April.

Once again, thanks for attending the awards.

Drunk Driving Solution

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Op-Ed by A.R. Bunch

It’s holiday season 2019 and it’s time to talk about the number one driving mistake people make.

Some topics in our society don’t get the real attention they deserve because of the negative emotions surrounding them. To a degree this makes sense. Back in the day no one really thought twice about driving when they were tipsy. Alcohol related incidents were hardly tracked as a separate thing, and the thinking was simply, “vehicles are dangerous.” MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) waged a campaign to change that.

By singling out alcohol related accidents and constantly bringing attention to it as a source of danger, and the high price paid by innocent victims, MADD paved the way to lower legal limits, harsher penalties and expanded responsible parties. For example, most states hold bartenders liable for over serving clients turning them from enablers to the first line of defense advocating for their customers whose judgement may be impaired to seek a better way home.

This is all great, but in order to truly combat the issue, it’s always more impactful to stay grounded. The reality is that a legal limit that’s functionally zero, BUT not really zero, begs the question, “are we inviting people to think they might be okay,” when the reality is they’re gambling with fines and jail time.

If government really intended to end drunk driving wouldn’t they drop the limit to zero and require bar tenders to insist that a ride is arranged before selling a patron one drink. The Kicker Blog is not advocating for these laws, merely pointing out that 0.08 blood alcohol level is a cloudy thing to communicate to people going out for a fun evening.

drunk-driving-40574_1280Government makes a bit of coin doing a catch and release with people who make a mistake. By setting the limit at a point when the average person could probably still operate a vehicle safer than they can when driving tire or emotional, the government is almost tempting people to chance it.

To their credit MADD has shifted there marketing away from condemnation to target people who don’t see themselves as career alcoholics. The idea is to get otherwise responsible people to think responsibly and have a plan before they cut loose.

Bottom line: the goal is to raise awareness, have stiff penalties to act as a deterrent but not destroy the life of an otherwise productive member of society. That’s probable the goal of the current system, but it’s created an unofficial catch and release program. How do we as a society build in clemency without created an official free pass for the first offense?

Currently, one DUI and you’ll never obtain a CDL, NEVER. It will also deter your ability to obtain work in other fields with high standards, like law enforcement, insurance agents, financial advisers.

You slam one beer at a football game when you’re 21 and drive your inebriated friend home and you could lose access to roughly one in three fields of employment. That’s a high and lasting price to pay for a mistake that only mildly endangered people. The goal again, is to get people to make better choices. In the case above, the 21-year-old was attempting to make a good choice. Misguided though that decision was, he/she may have prevented an accident.car-accident-1538175_1920.jpg

The Kicker Blog would like to advocate for a path to glory. The price for driving above the legal limit needs to be set apart from driving while intoxicated. The penalties for both need to be clear and applied consistently. The penalty for driving above the limit should be geared toward deterring and redemption. It could include a mandatory night in jail, fines, a vehicle breathalyzer installation, mandatory AA meetings, and a multiyear probation. However, after successful completion and a few years, the DUI should leave a person’s record.

The penalty for drunken endangerment should be punishment. It should reflect the severity of someone’s lack of judgement. After all, driving intoxicated is reckless endangerment, and one step of away from attempted manslaughter. Obviously your second offense at driving above the legal limit should be treated as a compound offense and raises to the level of driving while intoxicated.

Until these changes are made you need to know this:

You can get a DUI for as little as one drink, the penalty is far worse than you imagine, and special patrols are actively hunting for it.

If you get a DUI this holiday season, you are entitled to an attorney and you are a complete idiot if you don’t get one.

The answer, far simpler than changing that laws, is to make plans to drink OR drive. Simply don’t mix them at all. There are so many options from taxi to ride-share, carpooling, call a friend, even tow trucks that are sponsored by MADD to get your car home from the bar.

Quick TIP #1:

Don’t take a ride from a “sober stranger!” Take a friend out with you, and if for any reason you are alone at a bar, ask the bar tender to arrange a ride for you. Most bars are happy to avoid the fine they’ll pay if you leave them and get in an accident.

 

What’s News: new car seat law in WA State

OLYMPIA — In less than a week, some kids may need to remain in booster seats well into middle school.
Governor Jay Inslee approved updated regulations on car and booster seat use, which go into effect Jan. 1.
KOMO-TV reports the new rules require children older than 4 years old but shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches and who have outgrown their child harness seat to use a booster seat. That means most kids will need a booster seat until 10 to 12 years old.

Too much? Comment and let us know!

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Cars and Music

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Why do we listen to music in the car?

Firstly, we are hemmed in, we feel trapped by the circumstances. Secondly, we need to keep awake so we need to feel alive and simulated in some way to focus on the job of driving. Thirdly, people just love music and enjoy listening to it.

This doesn’t mean that we should neglect our nostalgia for special tunes and streaming services have made the process much simpler.

Radio

When it comes to the radio the most common practise with 44% is to keep changing channels to find the best music, similar to the way that people channel hop on the TV at home to find the best dramas and comedies.

The reason why we chose to listen to radio is that most of us don’t like constantly listening to the same song. 60% of us find this distracting. It seems that 75% or 3 out of 4 want a song to finish when it starts.

Satellite Radio?

In terms of which type of radio channel, it appears that a satellite station is better quality than FM. For the true audiophiles, nothing will do but the best which is HD radio.

It seems that we let Uber drivers get away with murder as far as song choices go. Uber passengers, it is found, never complain about any awful music chosen and seem to want to listen to new types of music. As above, it’s 75% who don’t complain.

Most drivers feel that they have to sing along with the music, about 84%. There was a tiny group, 15% who felt they could only sing with the radio if they were alone.

Either drivers feel they are not distracted by the music or have convinced themselves they are not distracted. 80% say they aren’t distracted by green lights or so on.

The Survey Said

Edgy music is more popular, and according to Quora channels such as NPR are listened to more than the conservative talk radio or even sports radio. One person surveyed expressed a preference for the local community college jazz station. The feedback to Quora referenced the need for happy lyrics rather than sad ones.

CDs?

Because the CD is now out of date it is probably best to listen to music through your mobile by connecting it to your auxiliary input jack (also called aux). There’s a slight difficulty in that you need to convert the sound to make it transmittable, turning it into analog signal which suits headphones.

USB may be taking over from aux connections. In this method the data transmitted is more unprocessed. You can store music in a flash drive for up to 512GB.

Bluetooth might be seen as an ideal way to listen to music in a vehicle but this could be a sales pitch? The audio compression used in Bluetooth is not as good as that employed by USB. Also Bluetooth enabled files will fill your phone up quicker.

The conclusion might be to stick with radio stations just for convenience. But remember, don’t get distracted.

Sources:

https://rainnews.com/survey-digital-listening-is-growing-in-the-car-as-radio-still-leads/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224774282_An_exploratory_survey_of_in-vehicle_music_listening

http://www.insideradio.com/free/infinite-dial-am-fm-owns-of-in-car-listening/article_8187904c-236c-11e8-b328-a3358a083fe1.html

Merry Christmas Part 3

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Christmas in the Car

With all the hassle of Christmas, trying to get everything cooked in the kitchen and making sure that you have all the presents correct, spending Christmas in a car certainly has some appeal. It’s evidently an old troupe in films and TV shows that you don’t spend Christmas at home with your folks, but spend it miles from anywhere, whether in your car or old shack. Why this is so common a theme that you almost think it’s preferable.

Generally, we decorate our houses, but lately decorating the car is a trend. It starts with the little things like reindeer antlers on the side windows, or bumper stickers with a holiday theme. Santa is my co-pilot or I brake for reindeer. But more and more you’ll see clever use of LEDs to mimic house holiday lighting. That’s not even including decorating for a big event like a parade or tailgate party.

A word of warning to add lights to your car without an additional power pack is probably not a good idea and will drain your battery. In most states, sticking lights on your car is technically illegal, although the police tend to turn a blind eye at Christmas if you refrain from anything blue and flashing. And if you are using your car on private land and not entering a public road it is completely legal.

ba327f52c97b66a7273a8bed456a82adIf you use lights with their own battery pack it prevents a drain on the car’s resources. The more lights you use obviously the bigger power pack that you require.

As well as using zip ties, you might also use magnets to attach decorations to the car (the car being mostly made of magnetic metals). You should only use lights which are suitable for outdoor use. It’s important that anything attached to the car is completely secure and cannot fall off.

When it comes to the aesthetics of the vehicle a holly wreath at the front creates a nice picture. If you have a spare tire on the front of back sometimes you might find a cover for it with a picture of a wreath on it already.

christmas-car-decorations-e1570768937901An inflatable Santa tied the hood doesn’t look very classy but is certainly original. Then there are those who have a complete tree on the roof of the car. It takes all sorts out there.

You can still choose to decorate a car that is stuck in the garage, by wrapping up in crepe paper for instance.

Lights inside the car also work but remember to take them down after Christmas as they are considered a distraction.

Link to Pics of Crazy Christmas Cars

If you are going to use lights on your car and drive the public roads you have two strategies for not being pulled over: use tiny lights or use all white lights. Either way don’t have them flash. Blue, as already mentioned, are reserved for police. Red, Yellow and Green lights can be mistaken for traffic signals.

The final thought on spending the holidays in your car is this: Do not drive if you’ve been drinking. Most people know this, but it is worth repeating.