Motorbikes – Assembling and Testing.

If you respect motorbikes, generally speaking, you will be all right, but there is anecdotal evidence of people losing their lives in speed trials and other events. If you push your luck too much for too long, you’re asking for trouble?

If you just can’t wait to see what your new ride can do, and you decide to take it out on public roads you’ll have to contend with other forms of traffic. There is evidence that testers tend to ignore the posted speed limit of the roads. To be fair it’s hard to read the sign when you’re going that fast.

Manufacturers test on a closed loop, but not all new motorbike testing is done on a closed loop. Professionals also conduct road tests, which occasionally get out of hand. Although anecdotal reports of bikers testing their vehicles to 235 mph (in that case on a Vincent style motorbike) seem unlikely, it doesn’t stop motorcycle testers getting a reputation as a terror on the road. (Another report suggests the maximum was actually 150 mph but it doesn’t stop the job being a death trap.)

Motorbike Styles and Types

For the bigger names such as BMW the shaft, chain and belts differs between models. The biggest factor is the type of bike–off-road, sporting or a touring version. For those who like a bit of both, dual purpose bikes are available.

It can be a bit complicated for people to understand the various types but put simply the C series are maxi-scooters, the K series are four cylinder engines for the road and the S series are the sports series.

Working on Bikes

If you wish to rebuild an engine yourself you will need to examine its manual in minute detail, though you might need an extra manual such as those published by Clymer or the OEM service manual to get to the nub of the information.

You can only really know if you need something new, say a carburetor by taking it out and examining it. This is where the problems start as, if it’s fine, you’ll still need to know how to put the gaskets and such back.

Another thing to look out for especially with older motorbikes is rust; does it need to be cleaned off? The next mission is to look at the spark plugs and then after that look at doing an electrical check, it’s all a cerebral challenge for the novice.

There are stories of people moving from testing motorbikes to testing cars. So, promotion through survival?

You may have thought that choppers were bikes but there are a number of chopper motorbike enthusiasts who would argue that having two wheels doesn’t make it a motorcycle. To “chop” meant to strip the bike, get rid of the fenders for example.

Examples can be seen in the 1969 film Easy Rider.

Nowadays you can buy customized choppers which retail for tens of thousands of dollars. Which is one source of road testing instead of closed loop. Small custom shops are more likely to head out to the desert than rent a closed racetrack.

On your way to the desert you’ll need to navigate some regular roads with regular traffic. Of course, the first issue is if other drivers even see you. When you test on the Californian roads you may be looking at taking your life in your hands.

Aside from issues that all bikers face, there are some troubles that you might not think of. The problems may be due to the differences of bike available. Some are hefty Harleys, other are much lighter such as the Honda Fury. You really need to know your engine in order to be safe.

As well as testing new bikes you can test bikes for emissions and so on at garages. This must be a safer job because you aren’t travelling at speed. It probably doesn’t involve the same sense of thrill though.

Building Up A Car Toolkit and Other Car Equipment.

You know the old adage, there’s two kinds of people in the world…well it seems to be the case when it comes to keeping gear in your car so you’re prepared for a breakdown. Either they keep nothing at all except the number to roadside assistance, or they keep enough to survive a zombie apocalypse.

So, we’re dedicating this post to the middle ground. Honestly what should you keep in your car in case of emergency.

Starting with a car toolkit.

No need to have a second kit for your motorcycle if you only drive one or the other—just adjust the size to fit motorcycle and move it back and forth. Then again you may need different tools and it’s a lot easier to just store this in your vehicle and not have to remember to move it.

A mobile car toolkit should include such items as screwdrivers, hex keys, a socket set, two sets of pliers-both adjustable and locking, wire cutters, ratchet straps, tire gauge, zip ties and duct tape.

  • Hex keys, AKA Allen wrenches, come in a range of sizes, it is vital to find the right hex key for your job. We recommend getting a folding hex key set like the one pictured here because hex keys tend to wander off or fall in tiny cracks.
  • Socket sets are used for the tightening and loosening of fasteners. It should be noted that they come in a range of sizes, but not all sizes are needed.
  • Rachet straps are tie-down straps used to tie down equipment or cargo so as to keep construction materials in place. They need to be both tough and flexible to do their jobs.

Don’t overspend on a mobile tool kit for a couple reasons. First you may want to hand off the kit in a pinch or it could get stollen. Second some expensive kits come with items like a pull handle or swivel castors, which are useful but an expensive kit will include nonessential items which actually makes in harder to find the right item on a dark and rainy night—which when you tend to break down.

You’ll also need miscellaneous items like a first aid kits, work gloves and so on.

A garage automotive toolkit is another story:

One of the best ways to keep your mobile car kit small is to outfit your garage with a larger kit for home repairs. Don’t overspend on this tool kit either. Even modest kits sometimes have two hundred pieces (bit handles, wrenches, hammers, hacksaws and so on). Ask yourself if you really need that much stuff.

To do any serious work you’ll need a floorjack to keep a car in the air. It’s vital that you obtain a jack designed for the specific capacity to the car. If you have a light car you may be able to lift the car with an aluminum jack. It’s advisable to seek help if you are unsure on the weight of your car.

When you do get under a car you will need some jack stands which have a pyramid like shape. To work on the underside of a car you will also need a creeper-an item to rest your back on. Wheel chocks are also needed to keep the automobile in place.

The list seems to go on and on – jump starters, pressure gauges, possibly an oil drain pan to change your oil. It is important to take into account the proper regulations for disposing of chemicals if you’re going to perform many maintenance tasks.

If you want to check the electric current in a car you will also need an item called a multimeter.

Without some kind of budget the amount you will spend could go through the roof. Consider which items you cannot live without, either on safety grounds or to do the work properly.

You can try to stick to one type of tool, but honestly it never seems to go that way. Someone will give you a duplicate for Christmas, or the wrong brand, etc. So if you just let go of the idea of matching tools you’re free to take advantage of our favorite pro tip.

Pro Tip: Go around to all your friends who like to wrench and ask their advice about tools. They’ll often have extra tools they can donate to your cause when they find out you’re just starting out.

In this as with everything else, research is everything.

The Business of Trucks

It should reassure the average commuter; how many safety procedures are built into the business of trucking just so that it can function day to day.

As trainee truck drivers begin their learning journey by adjusting to the different feel of driving a big rig when compared to other vehicles. One aspect is the length and being aware of your large blind spots. Another is reaction time and stopping time and maintaining following distance.

Another big difference when driving truck is the brakes need to so much larger than a conventional vehicle. Even the way the brakes are applied can make all the difference. How much extra distance can depend on payload. Any liquid tanker will require a special license because the stopping distance over a regular big rig is around 30% extra.

Perhaps the aspect of driving truck that car drivers don’t think of first is that truck drivers are situated higher up with potentially a better view to any potential danger. They also have blind spots right up front. When you are too close you might not be able to observe the danger and that is when mishaps could occur.

All drivers must consider things like rain, ice and snow when deciding speed and safe following distance but truck drivers must get used to even more buffer when in inclement weather. While a truck driver is seldom at risk of dying in a crash they are more at risk of killing someone, so job safety is a priority.

The real problems come with the drivers who have to explore the Ice Roads in Alaska and Canada. Here especially is where stopping can be the difference between life and death.

When watching out for other vehicles the biggest challenges come from the fact that other drivers aren’t familiar with big rigs. Vehicles often tailgate trucks or weave in and out of traffic in a way that makes it difficult to predict their next move. It’s hard on any vehicle to deal with erratic drivers, but given the need for maximum stopping distance, it’s extra hard for truckers.

By the same token a truck causes more agitation when weaving or constantly changing lanes. If you discover a truck behaving like this you should give it a wide berth.

Trucks often accelerate at a slower rate even if they can go faster, because the dangers of navigating an intersection require time you don’t have when speeding.


With the latest of ELD or Electronic Tracking Device records any accident but remember that all computers are not the same and data needs to be interpreted. There’s too much detail contained in these “truck black boxes” to go into here, but the gist is this, truck drivers are monitored for how they drive and how long they’ve been driving so that fatigue isn’t an issue.

For obvious reasons, truck drivers oppose ELDs and prefer manual logs. But they day is fast approaching when ELDs will be required.


A dangerous good (also known as hazardous material or HazMat) may be explosives, flammable gases and liquids and even flammable solids, substances which react violently to water, poisonous materials, infections and radioactive substances. Some HazMats are so large that can cause damage to property if transported incorrectly. More HazMats are transported by truck than rail or ship.

If you are travelling hazardous material you need to have a placard on the truck which isn’t damaged, deteriorating or obscured. The placarding must comply to Hazmat standards.

The more complex the substance the more the urgency the need for a truck to be well-driven. When a dangerous substance needs to be taken from one place to another it all becomes hugely significant when problems do occur.

Specialty Trucks

While all big rig trucks, or tractor trailers have a standard design many are built for a special purpose. The fire service uses trucks made by Alexis. Marion on the other hand make garbage trucks and Oshkosh makes military trucks.

This is a small bit of the information about trucks, but we hope it helps you share the road with these lumbering giants.

Car Window Oddities

Your car would be rather odd without windows but it’s not something most of us think about. Looking through the history of cars there are a few odd window choices which might be worth investigating.

History of Windshield

Most early cars were built by buckboard or wagon manufacturers. At horse-drawn speeds driver and passengers are not too worried about wind, but as vehicles go faster the idea of a windshield became quickly necessary. Windshields actually came about on cars before roofs.


The rest of the history of windshields centers on safety and is actually not very interesting. According to OTTO, In 1930 Henry Ford was injured in a wreck, which prompted Ford Motor Company to begin installing laminated glass (a piece of clear plastic between two sheets of glass). Eventually in the 1950s all auto makers moved to tempered glass.

The real issue these days is disposal. The glass can no longer be thrown in a landfill, at least in Europe, which necessitates the creation of a recycling process. By exploiting the different melting temperatures of glass and plastic the materials can be separated and reused independently.

Another evolution of Windshield was using a center column to support 2 flat panes of glass which were smaller and tougher than one longer sheet of glass. This was replaced once glass could be curved during manufacturing, which was actually stronger than flat glass.

Unusual Side Windows

We’ll start with vent car windows, also known as “ventiplanes,” when on the Pontiac Torpedo. They were triangular shaped and set in the corner of the door, probably making them more of a novelty.

These were also known as quarter windows and were noteworthy for rotating inwards. They can be seen in cars such as Buick Encore or Fiat Grande Prio. As well as many discontinued cars you probably never heard of, but they are still remembered somewhere. You could find these on several model of pickup as well.

There is a certain dated look about them, but they had a pretty long run, lasting all the way up to the 1980. It doesn’t seem immediately obvious why it suddenly went out of style. Maybe certain marketers decided it was time for a revamp?

Opera Windows

The opera window was a small round window near the C pillar in some cars. The C pillar is between the passenger part of the car and the hood. Originally the opera window was a complete circle but can also be oval or even any shape.

The Opera window has a long history. They date back to the days of horseless carriages, many of which included a round window on the side. Again, the 1980s seemed to be the end of this specific type of window. It might make sense to get rid of a round window as most windows nowadays seem to follow a certain horizontal cross section around the car that causes a circular window to stand out.

Once only used by the most top of the range cars, the power window has now become the industrial standard. Its origin lies in vacuum assists which was used in vehicles such as the Plymouth to lift the lids of convertibles. The first type was hydro-electric in the Packard. In 1947 in addition to the power windows General Motors also created cars where the seats were also adjustable by electric power.

When it comes to tinting windows there are a number of plus points such as keeping the car cool in hot weather, reduce the glare and block ultra-violet rays. Blocking sunlight will also extend the life of leather seats.

Unfortunately, different states in the US have their own laws on how dark the tint should go due to safety reasons. It should have 30-70% transparent, dependent on state and whether you’re talking about the windscreen or a side window.

If the car has a factory tint then it must comply with industrial standards. Police have the power to ticket windows with the wrong kind of tinting in the US, which is generally the result of an aftermarket customization.

If you have certain medical conditions, for example melanoma, you can have darker windows your state normally allows, but must carry the documentation with you at all times.

Is your glass laminated or tempered? Laminated glass is on the wane; only 1 in 3 cars used laminated glass. Laminated glass is designed to stay in one piece while tempered glass (also known as safety glass) shatters into hundreds of pieces.

It’s a shame that most people look for an unoriginal car window but it’s never been a selling point. Even items like vent windows were done for convenience’s sake.

Choosing a Car Tracker

There are so many different options for car trackers that it’s hard to obtain a complete picture of the technology and application. Some of them are useful, others might be charitably described as not fit for purpose. The smarter companies have decided to niche down to one market segment so they could better represent what they do for their customers.

Potential Purposes for Vehicle Tracking:

Why might you need a tracker? Well there are several reasons…

Assuring that a vehicle doesn’t get stolen.

  • The first thing that leaps to mind on the topic of car tracking, perhaps due to early offerings in the field like Lo-Jack.

Check that a troublesome teen is driving within the law.

  • Monitoring your teen sometimes means knowing where they are, but it can also mean monitoring how they’re driving. It’s possible to verify that your teen is driving within designated speed limits or using their vehicle within times you’ve allowed—like only during daylight on a school night. Teen

To keep tabs on an older relative.

  • Hopefully if your aging parents and grandparents aren’t able to safely operate a vehicle you or their doctor have already helped them stop driving. However, there are a number of seniors who can drive safely with a few accommodations. It could give you peace of mind to have a GPS tracking on their car so if they breakdown they can call you with their location. It’s possible that that they could suffer a heart attack or other life-threatening issue and not be able to tell you where they are. This service started with companies like OnStar, but have mostly transitioned to personal car tracking so that consumers don’t have to combine the expense of monitoring with the expense of roadside assistance.

Possibly it is used as a business investment.

  • Knowing what your employees are doing when they are out “in the field” or on delivery has become a standard. Some systems even monitor how you drive—like the ones for parents of teenagers. This is far superior to the old system of installing a governor to prevent workers from speeding in you moving van. It also lets you know if they’re actually going about the delivery rout you hired them to.
  • It’s not just about how they drive or do their job though. These monitoring systems keep track of the locations of major assets your company owns. This could be reflected in a discount on your insurance bill.

Tracking your Spouse.

  • Then there are people who wish to spy on a partner who may be having an affair or secretly taking drugs or gambling. It’s a personal choice and a tough issue to even address in a post like this, but it’s one way in which people use the technology and therefore some companies market to that purpose.

Desirable qualities in a Tracker:

Many of these systems do have some tethering, or connectivity problems. A 24 hour helpline is vital in order to deal with any difficulties – but these are common problems when you purchase a new device these days. When checking reviews, listen to what other people stay about helplines. How hard was it to get through to a person? Do they have limited hours as in they’re out of office whenever you need to locate your teen at a party they were grounded from?

In choosing a tracker look for ones who work with programs such as Google Maps, so you have a clear view where each vehicle is, from any google enabled device.

If you fear your car will be stolen and the license plate changed, opt for global coverage, in case the car gets shipped abroad.

Another feature to look for is whether you must check it or if it gives you push notifications. Spy Tec. For example, can be programmed to send you periodic updates and can be placed anywhere in the car. Marketing from the company states that the strong battery can last up to four weeks, which to be honest is a big consideration if you’re not wiring into the cars power system.

The MotoSafety Teen GPS, and Spy Tec for that matter, require a monthly subscription. If you research you maybe able to find ones that don’t have further payments once they’re installed.

The Drawback to tracking?

Using a tracker does indicate a lack of trust though. If your relative/employee/whoever needs to be tracked in this complicated way is it time to just have a tough conversation.

It’s also less expensive to do your own detective work if we are talking about a relative or a partner. In these days of mobile phone it’s getting exceedingly harder to keep things private, you might do a bit of snooping and learn the same information.

Monitoring your partner’s movements probably shouldn’t be a way of life, only a way to eliminate concerns. In a similar way, your teen is likely to move on from borrowing your car to driving their own vehicles so…do you really want to invest in buying and installing a tracker.

The most lucrative market for trackers must surely be commercial fleets. To think of it, it would be hard to run a cab business or any enterprise involving delivery vehicles without a number of tracking devices.

If you have a fear that your car will be stolen then a tracker is definitely for you but ultimately it’s all dependent on the car you drive—frankly you can just buy a car that’s less likely to be stollen.

The other difficulty with a tracker is that many you have to pay to install. Although many try a tracking device on the cheap, the easier it is to find the easier is it to dismantle.

Still it’s a developing market and if you feel your vehicle or group of vehicles need it, go for it!

Cars and Smoking – A Bad Combo.

Op-Ed by P. Wimsett and A. Bunch

Imagine a cartoon scene that’s all too familiar for most of us. The picture is of a car lot complete with a dodgy car dealer in front of a number of dubious vehicles. In the cartoons he (it usually is a he in the cartoons) has a Clarke Gable mustache and a wide brim hat. You can almost smell his cologne and you know when he smiles a gold tooth will glint in the sun. As he sells you the car he smokes a cigar which produces smoke rings in the shape of dollar signs. And all is clear what is on the car dealer’s mind; fleecing the punter.

Would he really do that in the non-cartoon world? Only if he’s dumb. It’s not advisable to smoke near tires or engines not to mention smoking while showing a customer the interior, it’ll only mean trouble.

It’s common knowledge, unless you’re Kelley Bluebook, that bad smells, like cigarette smoke, reduces the value of a car. doesn’t seem to have a category for bad smelling vehicle. Either they assume you have a magic wand that will erase the smell, or they lump it in with poor condition. It’s an unofficial reduction, but it’s a reduction all the same.

Smokers’ cars can be 7-9% cheaper than non-smokers, according to a survey from the year 2000. (20 years old but sentiment is not likely to have relaxed on the topic.) Cigarette smoke will form part of the dust in the car, not mention sticking to surfaces. You probably don’t need to be reminded that this dust contains nicotine and similar toxic ingredients.

But is it possible to remove the smell?

Not really, it would be like smoking in a closet and to expect the smell to vanish! Most methods you encounter online tend to temporary, the smell will come back a bit weaker in a few days.

The chief problem, which smokers don’t truly grasp, is just how detectible smoke is to a non-smoker. Smokers have a dulled sense of smell and often think they’ve taken precautions to remove the smell. The reality is quite different.

So, what do I use if I bought a great runner with a B.O Problem?

Something like furniture polish won’t cut it, you’ll need anti-bacterial or bleach wipes to remove the oils from the plastic surfaces like dashboards.

The seats, the carpets and the area underneath the carpets need to be steam cleaned. An ozone generator is another option, but again it can only be temporary. Steam cleaners and ozone generators are not cheap but if you got $700 bucks off the price…

Change the cabin filter!

Really Kicker, No Ninja tip to Fix this Oder Problem?!?!

OKAY! If you’ve tried everything else…you can take dryer sheets and put them all over the dashboard and rear window area (on the inside you…) on a hot day. You want heat to activate this little miracle. It’ll do a pretty great job of pulling the smell out.

Car Dealers aren’t the only ones who try to pull a fast one.

We hear stories of potential buyers “looking at the engine” and then you notice white smoke emitting from your car. You’ve not seen any smoke from the engine before, what should you do?

Well, don’t feel pressured into dropping your price. What it may be is the potential buyer surreptitiously applying a coolant on the vehicle in order to make it smoke—then asking for a discount. It’s a general rule that if you notice something strange when selling your car to take it to a mechanic as possible.

Also consider reporting the potential buyer to the police. If local police are alerted the scammer may move onto better hunting grounds.

(But don’t jump to the conclusion that your buyer is trying to pull a fast one. An engine overheating will cause irreversible damage. If there’s a fuel smell in addition to the smoke it’s could be something like faulty fuel injector or the valve timing?)

In summary, cars and smoke in any form is best avoided. If you smoke and have children under 18 please consider not smoking in your car. That’ll protect your resale value and preserve the other things you care about.

Noisy Engines

A car can produce so many niggling little noises and it’s best to get them dealt with as soon as possible. No one likes a car with too many splutters and spurts, though an amount of revving does sound attractive to the car buff.

If a car is running too loud this may be caused by a dirty sensor. The sensor causes too much or too little fuel to enter the engine, which makes it seem to the driver as though it’s running rough. Faulty spark plugs in contrast will cause it to backfire.

A knocking, or grinding noise is likely coming from a bad engine bearing – these are what the engine is sat on. Driving long distances will really bring out this noise. The bearings might not be shot entirely, if could be low oil pressure that indicates inadequate lubrication. Either way—it’s recommended that you deal with this as soon as possible.

Transmissions can be a source of noise. Having a low transmission fluid levels can damage the torque converter. If the transmission is failing see a mechanic straightaway.

If your vehicle sounds louder than it used to, another reason could be a damaged muffler. In this case you would hear the engine because it’s not being masked by the muffler. Usually one of your neighbors will clue you into this problem if you haven’t noticed yourself.

Noise Pollution

New plans to fine people whose exhausts are too loud involve using a noise camera. A noise camera might be better explained as a traffic camera with an audio sensor attached. Much like a motion detector camera, the noise camera will trigger when it detects a loud car and snap a picture of the cars number plate. A trial of this system in Edmonton, Canada just made people rev their engine around the camera producing inaccurate results.

Noise pollution makes lives a misery, and it’s not just uptight killjoys who have a problem with it. Too much noise can cause high blood pressure, stress eating and even type 2 diabetes. But the issue could be just too many vehicles in one location. If it’s the total number of cars, motorbikes and trucks you can still try to fine the worst offenders, but that means on the ground tickets by police. In reality, cars make more noise when starting up than running, and a little extra noise for a short time is considered acceptable. So, police would need to ticket only those who’s vehicles “run” loud, not just because they’re capable of being loud at times. No one likes an on-the-spot fine but it’s the only solution.

Other Possible Solutions

If engine noise is a problem a flame retardant pad under your hood can suppress it. It’s important to replace the item after a few years as when it becomes worn out it becomes useless. You can probably tell when it’s worn out as the sound will gradually come back.

Of course, the main reason cars are loud is because their owners deliberately changed the muffler. It’s not just police you get into hot water with when you replace your stock muffler to make your car sound more muscular. Like with your insurance company for instance. Most policies say that you shouldn’t alter your vehicle without letting them know. “Souping up” your exhaust counts as an alteration even though it doesn’t change your horsepower.

It’s increases the appeal to thieves. It’s more likely to be stolen and you’re more likely to want that feature in your replacement vehicle they buy you. So, it increases their liability and they’ll increase your rates. Not telling your insurer may make your policy invalidated.

One Final Note:

Technically when you modify a car it violates the warranty and wrecks the value, however if you do a good job it can make your car more desirable to people with the same taste—so it sells faster. Some exhaust replacement does improve performance. But think before you spend the money.

On that note, think before you make a ton of noise. Some noise is good, but go overboard and you’ll get a ticket.

A Case of Cut And Shut?

Not all used car sellers are disreputable and it’s unfortunate that the “good” ones find it hard to differentiate themselves from the “bad” ones. In the name of helping you avoid the more serious or more common types of fraud the Kicker will attempt to make you aware of types of fraud or schemes that we run across (within the car industry at least.) 

What is a Cut and Shut?

Cut and shut for instance is when two mechanically identical cars — so not necessarily physically identical — are welded together. One of the cars has been involved in the accident damaging the front, the other involved in an accident damaging the rear.

A lot of cars receive side impact damage, and many are sandwiched—taking damage in both the front and the rear. However, most car accidents result from rear-ending someone, or being rear-ended by someone. A lot of these “write offs” are labeled Category C or D and as such should NEVER legally used again. The nature of modern crumple zones means that the car is designed to absorb impact from the wreck instead of passing it onto the vehicle occupants. Re-using a frame with this sort of damage is like reusing an airbag that’s been deployed once.

On the bright side, many of the cars damaged in this type of accident aren’t seriously destroyed but end up costing more to fix than they’re worth, which means the insurance company considers them totaled. Cars in that condition can be repaired and sold with a “branded” title. However, most end up in a junk yard where parts that weren’t harmed are sold off bit by bit to replace worn out parts on cars of like kind or quality.

It’s a pretty efficient system and works pretty well to the advantage of consumers.

The Problem is when Someone gets Greedy:

A cut and shut is when someone welds the back half of one car onto the front half of another car. The danger starts from the fact that you would do this with cars that were at all candidates for repair. The person who would do this is going to pick what’s cheapest—which is two cars with compromised frames. Then the problem is magnified by the welding, which is usually roughshod.

This could just be the most hazardous kind of automobile fraud. The icing on the cake is that if you can get this car insured you’re unknowing committing insurance fraud. It is best to leave this particular “species” of car well alone.

Spotting this Kind of Fraud:

One of the first warning signs is underpricing. If it’s too good to be true it probably is.

These types of cars are sold on the internet by obscured or grainy photos or what are known as “library photos” – generic pictures of that type of car. It’s a good idea to see the car in proper daylight, not in the rain, mist or snow. Nor should you see the car in a garage or storage bay. These conditions can cause you to miss vital signs about the vehicle in question.

Before you even look at the car:

It’s advisable to consider the seller of the car. If they are courteous and eager to answer questions then fine, but if they are evasive and keep coming up with excuses, they might be hiding something. The seller of this type of car may have welded the car themselves and know the welding is substandard. If you take someone with you who can watch the seller while the car is inspected you can pick up on warning signs.

What you’re Looking For:

When investigating the car, examine the point at the back end where the roof meets the rear panel. Look in the trunk, including under the carpet or whatever. Are there uneven lines? Are there changes in paint color? When touching it, does it feel wrong?

Be aware of any signs of cutting, welding or spraying – one example would be paint spray on door handles or some unknown spillage of solder on the windows.


If you’re a longtime reader of the Kicker, you won’t be surprised by this sort of scam. You’ve been cautioned against taking things at face value for the last 5 years. You’ve also heard us say that you don’t need to fear buying a second hand vehicle—it can be an affordable option.

Despite doing your best to spot this type of scam, the best way to avoid it is to use a professional car inspector. Let someone who knows cars better than you, who isn’t distracted by their own emotional connection to the vehicle or the opportunity for a bargain examine the vehicle while you keep your eyes on the seller. Our sponsor,, is one of the best and most convenient you’ll ever find.

If you feel you have been shown a car which possibly is a cut and shut, please inform the police and/or local trade organization. Otherwise the disreputable sellers and welders will keep conning the public as if nothing is wrong.

Some Notes on Dangerous Driving

It seems that traffic is now increasing-maybe people are ignoring the virus? But you shouldn’t use quiet roads as an excuse to drive dangerously.

Hopefully your vehicle has been kept roadworthy. Some folks drive a car to death–assuming as long as it hasn’t ceased up it’s fine. Whatever the situation it’s advisable to drive with “due care and attention”.

It’s a Moving Violation to Drive an Unsafe Car:

The rules of what constitutes dangerous driving differ from country to country. In Canada, it’s known as Dangerous Operation. The offense carries the punishment of six months imprisonment, unless you are indicted five years. Causing bodily harm could mean 10 years and it’s 14 years if it relates to street racing.

It’s weird that not all driving that endangers life is known as dangerous driving. Wrong Way Driving – shortened to WWD – where you drive the wrong way down a road is classed as dangerous driving in New Zealand, but not in the US. Maybe in the latter it’s just seen as a temporary mistake?

Still rules tend to alter from country to country so it’s vital to be aware.

Likely Offenders—You’re in for a Surprise:

I know what you’re thinking– the usual figures say that 18-34 year old’s are twice as likely to admit to the road infraction. However, as far as who is likely to commit a dangerous diving offense, it’s bosses of major businesses. It seems as they or promoted in their role in a company, they begin to show signs of recklessness—some might call it cockiness? Studies find that it’s more likely to be older men in the business field.

It could be the stress of being in charge or it could be that they are more comfortable with risk. Well they are well paid, or at least were, so don’t feel too sorry for them!

It seems that drivers of certain vehicles are more likely to commit the crime too, according to British figures. 42% of Beemers have one point (the equivalent of two points in the US) compared to 41% of Audi drivers and only 9% of Merc owners. So maybe if your boss owns a Merc, maybe they’re all right?

Sometimes it’s not the car—it’s the Road

When it comes to dangerous roads around the world an excess in traffic is the least of your worries. In Taroke Gorge Road in Taiwan you need to negotiate sudden drops in the rock face as well as the odd typhoon and some sizeable earthquakes.

Another tricky road – to put it mildly! – is Skippers Canyon Road in New Zealand. Should you meet another vehicle on your journey you may have to reverse 3Km or so to safely pass each other.

There are examples too in the USA. Haul Road, otherwise known as James Dalton Highway, is a place where drivers have to negotiate winds so strong, they often fling rocks around the landscape.

Whatever the cause of the danger, it’s vital to be aware of your state of mind or the environment. These have been strange days but try not to make a mistake that will last with you after things get back to normal.

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.