The Chemical Composition of a Car


The purpose for examining the Chemical Composition of a Car is to search out ways to make cars safer, lighter, stronger etc. Anything a car company learns from such investigation then goes through a lengthy analysis but does eventually result in improvements to the vehicle itself or to the manufacture process—but it doesn’t happen overnight.


A car is mostly steel, which is an alloy (not just a compound) of mainly iron and carbon. The difference between a compound and an alloy isn’t terribly technical. Compounds are two or more elements combined by whatever means, that bond chemically to form a new substance. Think of it more like baking a cake, where the results are not only more than the sum of the parts, but the entire nature of whole is transformed into something new. An alloy, on the other hand, results from introducing metals of different kinds into a molten steel. The effect is to produce something that is fundamentally the same as it would have been, except that it takes on properties from the foreign element. Think of it like adding high carbon steel to low carbon steel to produce a sword that in not brittle but is hard enough to hold an edge.

Steel is used for low cost as well as being resistant to corrosion. A car also contains an amount of aluminium which has steadily increased in price in recent decades. One main reason for price hikes in aluminium is the large amount of electricity used in it’s manufacture. More expensive renewable energy, plus more things (like cars) that run on electricity causes the price to skyrocket. Using aluminium is an attempt to make the car as light as it can be.

The shell of a car undergoes a phosphorous acid bath. Phosphorous acid is a compound of phosphorous, hydrogen and oxygen (all acids contain hydrogen, by the way). Although not the safest chemical to use it is has been granted Safer Choice Criteria, meaning that it is currently the lesser of the available evils.


Gas and engine oil is made of hydrocarbons which enter the environment as a result of car usage. The current thinking is that the best way to reduce gas emissions is to employ solar energy or electric power, but many European countries have invested in “clean diesel,” which is less processed than car gas and contains more energy. But again such an alteration won’t happen quickly. Engine oil may need also to be altered but what to alter it to is still a mystery.

A substantial change to the composition of gas occurred in about the 1990s when leaded petrol was phased out, even if it happened at different times in various states. The reason why lead (or to be more precise a chemical compound containing lead) was used since about 1925 to this decade is that it was felt that it was almost impossible to do otherwise. Frank Howard said that lead was a “Gift from God” and as with everything else it’s hard to change the establishment.


Though an engine is all about converting chemical compounds many do not stop and think what chemicals are in the actual engine itself. A number of the parts are plastics, including flow passages and molded composite parts. Luckily in recent years plastic materials have been replaced by a safer metal.

There is extensive research going into the use of ceramics in engines. Sounds a bit crazy but the Japanese are doing pretty cutting-edge things with ceramics that are superior in weight to strength ratio, until they hit certain temperatures. The Jury is out, but…



Rubber which makes the tires as well as various items in the car is mostly carbon and oxygen but also contains trace elements of Zinc, sulfur and other elements. Rubber can’t really be described as environmentally sound though. On one hand rubber does decompose, on the other hand it takes about 50 years to decompose.

There is also Silicon in rubber, as well as in the car’s windows. In order to stop squeaky noises, Silicon is also used as it makes an ideal lubricant. It shouldn’t be applied to the rubber part of the door but to the metallic part.


The majority of the material that comes out of a car exhaust is Nitrogen, with water vapor (or H2O ) and CO2 making about 13% each. Although these are considered non-toxic they still make a contribution to the greenhouse effect.

What might be the biggest surprise element in your car is copper! There’s a lot more copper in your car than you probably expect because it’s an element of the braking system. If you didn’t have copper in the car, you’d have problems.

In conclusion:

You don’t think of a car as a bundle of chemicals but it is a factor in our environment. Car chemical improvement is a continuous process. Researchers want to replace current chemicals and substances with something “better.” Better means something safer, less impactful on environments, lighter, or maybe something most cost-efficient.


Transporting Pets Safely


The main problem with pets in cars is the heat, as it can be raised to 20°F in around 10 minutes, and reach 30°F in about 20 minutes. It will take 60 minutes for the temperature to be 40°F hotter than outside.

But that’s not the only pet/car conflict. Other concerns include allowing a dog to ride in the back of a pick-up truck, as dogs can easily fall or jump from this area and will be killed on impact.

loading-652314_1920.jpgThough often not fatal, the injuries to your pet can be severe. One possible countermeasure is a tether, but it’s not a perfect solution and many home-brew solutions create a risk of tangling or dragging your canine behind the vehicle. It’s much better to invest in a kennel for your pet, which will require some kind of protection from the elements.

Oddly, not all states have banned dogs riding in the back of a pick-up truck. As far as animal safety is concerned, it should be Rule 1.

Another concern is a pets ability to distract a driver, which can obviously lead to damaging more than just the pet. This is best solved by housing your pet in a kennel. If you’re noticing a theme here, you are correct, in general pets should be in some kind of carrier while they are in the car.

Qualities of a Good Kennel

It should be large enough for the pet to both stand up and sit down in, and even turn around. Make sure it’s well ventilated. It is worthwhile trying out the pet in the carrier first before embarking on the trip. The carrier should be secured so that it doesn’t move around too much.

Open Windows

Letting a dog stick it’s head out the window used to be common but it’s not a good idea. There is the risk of them being injured by objects being thrown out of other cars, rocks kicked up from the road, or by signs and tree branches.

That’s just the risk to your pets, in reality, the cause of people no longer letting dogs have their heads out the window is that we’re paying so much more for our cars. If you do drive with the window down be sure to get waterproof seat covers.

Car Training your Pet

The first trip that you take your pet on shouldn’t be too long, just to get them used to traveling in the car. After traveling in the vehicle a few times the animal will become calmer and more suited to long journeys.

Note: Some animals, like some humans, will suffer from car sickness and never adjust to riding in a vehicle. You’ll need to get medicine from your vet in order to transport these pets.

What to Bring

Whether it’s a long road trip or a day excursion, you’ll need to bring some items with you. Including…a food bowl, waste scoop and plastic bags. Think about the animal’s medication too and you might even like to create a pet first aid kit. Finally, don’t forget their favorite toy.

Traveling with Pets

Pets that don’t typically run away from their yard sometimes wander off when in public parks or hiking trails. For security purposes it helps if your pet is microchipped. For longer trips, a travel tag will also be of assistance to you.


If you are traveling between states it is a good idea to bring documentation of the pet’s rabies vaccination even if some states don’t require those details. Just to be safe.

Carry bottled water when traveling with a pet, especially on very hot days. Your pet can’t reach a drinking fountain, and don’t take for granted that you’ll have access to adequate hydration for your pet.


Drunk Driving Solution


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

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!

Story Link

Safety Season: Drive Alert


The Holiday Season at The Kicker is Safety Season. Every Monday we’ll post about safety and include helpful information and tips to keep you and you’re family as safe as possible on the roads. If you’d like to find helpful links to all this information and more please check out our Safety Tab on (Drive Safe, Buying a Safe Car, After Accident Action Steps).

Advice to Young Drivers

Young drivers are perhaps more likely to push their luck, but they are certainly not alone in taking chances driving when they probably shouldn’t. The first reason is likely that we feel comfortable driving. We often drive the roads our routes we’re going to take and its not convenient to not drive home.

This time of year, in particular, people are driving tired. The days are short and we’re busy. People don’t sleep well with the sudden shift in temperature. Then add in the time change. The roads are filled with people who would probably admit that they’re not at their best…if they thought about it, which they aren’t.

Driving makes you drowsy.

The expanse of the open road. Mile after mile of nearly identical stretches of highway. The same song on the radio, again. Driving can make you tired for many reasons. Let’s examine a few:

Driving at night

This time of year we’re driving in the dark to and from work. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night to feel well-rested and function at their fullest. Even if you get that, if you got it at a time you’re not used to sleeping it’s not quality sleep. If you’re driving at a time you’d normally be asleep your circadian rhythms will try to put you to sleep when it’s dark out.1

Long drives across different time zones

We notice jet lag with air travel, but holiday road trips still drive across time zones which is what it takes to knock your body clock out of sync. This sort of tiredness is extra dangerous because we might guard against driving on no sleep, or driving more than ten hours in a day, but it’s possible to wake up fresh and be jet lagged a few hours later. i-am-954818_1920

Driving alone

If there’s a chance you’ll get drowsy its a good idea to have another person their. Ideally this is someone you can trade off driving with, but even a non-driver can keep you engaged and help your brain stay active.

Good (or bad) vibrations

Some people generally get drowsy when driving, which is likely due to steady vibrations at low frequencies (according to RMIT in Australia2 ). If you are susceptible to this it can lull you into a state of relaxation within 15 minutes of steady driving. If you’re not normally cursed with this problem, you may experience it when other factors are present, like lack of sleep, or when taking a long road trip.

To combat the potential for drowsy driving, here are a few tips to share with your truck drivers to help them stay alert and focused on the road ahead.

Ways to stay awake while driving

1.  Stay hydrated – don’t only drink caffeine

While downing a cup of coffee or an energy drink may help you stay awake while driving for a short distance, over long trips, drinking plenty of water helps keep your body temperature cool and prevent you from feeling sluggish and drowsy.

2.  Pack healthy snacks

We’re not just being picky, candy bars, fast food and convenience store chips can make you spike and crash. Instead, think protein. (Almonds, sunflower seeds, and fruit.) Or pull over occasionally for a healthy meal that includes complex carbohydrates.

3.  Chew gum

Studies show chewing gum can help keep your brain active, although the exact mechanism for this is not clear. A study in 2012 noted that chewing gum heightened subjects’ heart rates and showed noticeable improvements in vigilance.3 Grab the sugarless variety and you can even help prevent cavities.

4.  Laugh

Listening to stand-up comedy may help keep your brain focused and eyes on the road. Plus laughing can’t hurt. Can’t stand stand stand-up comedy? Try an audiobook or a podcast to keep your mind engaged during a long drive.

5.  Smell essential oils

While this may sound out of the ordinary, a quick sniff of an invigorating oil like peppermint, grapefruit or even eucalyptus will help stimulate the brain’s nervous system to keep you alert without the caffeine or sugar rush & and it won’t make you need to stop and pee.

6.  Turn on that AC or roll down your window

Keeping the cold air flowing in your vehicle can help you from becoming too comfortable and nodding off.

7.  Moisturize those eyes

Staring at the road for long periods of time causes you to forget to blink! Keep eye drops on hand for when your eyes start to feel even the slightest bit dry. If you’re a contact lens wearer, always pack an extra pair in case you need to make a quick change.

8.  Sing!

This is where a great playlist comes in handy. Don’t just include songs that pump you up. Include ones you know you can karaoke to.   Here’s a link to a road trip mix the Kicker compiled.

9.  Catch your Zs

It may seem obvious but get 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep the night before a holiday road trip.4 With all the planning for a trip its a discipline to get to bed on time the night before. It’s better to arrive late than not arrive at all. This gives your body and mind a chance to repair itself and unwind so you fall into a deep, peaceful sleep.

10.  Practice positivism

Studies have shown that people who approach life with a ‘glass half full’ mentality often run down slower than pessimists.5 A podcast from a motivational speaker might get you back on track.

When all else fails – see a doctor!

If you often find yourself nodding off at the wheel, see a doctor. You could have a condition that requires attention. Micro-napping can be a symptom of sleep apnea which is a condition the severely impacts your health when not treated. Narcolepsy is another concern.




3 (2011) (2012)



What Your Insurance Co. Needs to Know


The hours after a crash are frustrating and confusing. It’s very likely that you need to call your insurance company, and they’re going to ask you a lot of questions, but are they totally looking out for you?

Here’s some quick tips to consider when making that dreaded call.

  1. Don’t start by assigning blame (or admitting blame). Your best defense is to give your insurance company as much detail and factual information as you can. Don’t be afraid to make a short video or voice recording while the memory is fresh in your mind. (assuming you are safely off the road)
  2. Damage comes in three forms, damage to your car, damage to their car or cars, damage to property, and physical injury to your or others. Some insurance companies have different claims departments for physical injuries than automobile claims. Grab you cell phone and get as many photographs as you need to document all these types of damage. It will be handy when you partner your description of the accident with your photos.
  3. Look for witnesses who weren’t involved in the accident. Collect more statements and contact information than you think you need because a lot of people don’t really want to get pulled into it. People will go so far as to give you wrong names and contact info. When possible text them your number so you can hear if it dings their phone. Remember that your insurance company takes a lot of claims and may actually come across the same witness to several accidents, which could change how they interpret what’s going on.
  4. AAA recommends collecting from and providing to other drivers with the following information:
    1. Full name and phone number
    2. Driver’s license and license plate numbers
    3. Company name and contact information for their insurance company
    4. Insurance policy number
    5. Names and contact information for any passengers
    6. Basic information about their vehicle — make, model, year and color
  5. With all the emotions and adrenaline take a step back and remember that this is why you have insurance. To err is human. Your rates may not even go up. Your car will car will be fixed. This is all an inconvenience like taxes, but not the end of the world. Likely no matter who is “responsible” for the accident, it’s not really about looking for a “bad guy.” Someone made a mistake. It will all work out.
  6. Be a little suspect. Accidents do happen every day, but many of them are engineered by con men. Your insurance company will be looking for this type of fraud and will ask questions designed to find it. Before an accident is the best time to gather the information that will ultimately protect you against this type of fraud. Is a vehicle near you already damaged? Is the driver paying more attention to people in cars than to driving their own vehicle? After the accident do they go on the offense trying to create a false narrative for bystanders? Remember, even though you must be calm, you don’t have to be nice and let someone interpret the accident for potential witnesses. This is a good time to say, “I don’t agree with that version of the facts. Lets let the police sort out what happened.”

Original Story by Allison Wachtel


What to do when pulled over


If you notice that a police car is following you with the lights flashing, pull over to the side of the road safely and quickly. Wait inside your car for the officer to approach, and be prepared to:

Turn on the light

Turn on your interior light at night and keep your hands where the officer can see them, preferably on the steering wheel.

Keep your hands visible

Don’t reach under your seat or into your glove box. This may cause the officer to think you’re reaching for a weapon or hiding something.

Provide necessary documentation

Give your license and proof of insurance to the officer if asked. If the officer asks you to step out of your car, do so without sudden or threatening movements.


Be polite

Stay calm − don’t become argumentative, disorderly or abusive − and never attempt to bribe the officer.

If a citation is issued, present your story in traffic court if you feel you’ve been unfairly treated. You may be represented by a lawyer and, if necessary, you’ll be heard by a judge or magistrate.

Things to know about speeding & traffic laws

Some roadways are designated as low-speed zones. These include areas with high pedestrian traffic, such as school zones and streets lots of intersections close together. Driving over the speed limit can put you and others at risk of harm.

  1. Never pass a stopped bus displaying a stop sign to its left. That means children are crossing the street.
  2. If you hear a siren coming behind you, pull to the side if you can, stop and wait until the police car or fire truck goes by.
  3. Completely stop at stop signs and look for other drivers and pedestrians before you proceed.
  4. Obey the posted speed limit at all times. Speeding tickets are costly, and penalties for speeding can include fines, court appearances and loss or suspension of your driving privileges. Also, depending on your insurance policy, speeding tickets can raise your rates.
  5. When parking your vehicle, always be mindful of handicapped signs, fire hydrants, bus stop zones, parking restrictions for certain times of day, and parking spots that require permits. Just remember to heed all of the signs. Even if you have to circle the block a couple times, it sure beats getting fined or having your car towed.

Best of the Web: Safety Tips


Tips from NationWide Insurance 

More driving safety tips

  • Don’t allow children to fight or climb around in your car – they should be buckled in their seats at all times. Too much noise can easily distract you from focus on the road.
  • Avoid driving when you’re tired. Be aware that some medications cause drowsiness and make operating a vehicle very dangerous. Learn more about drowsy driving.
  • Always use caution when changing lanes. Cutting in front of someone, changing lanes too fast or not using your signals may cause an accident or upset other drivers.
  • Be extra careful while driving during deer season.

Focus on driving

  • Keep 100% of your attention on driving at all times – no multi-tasking.
  • Don’t use your phone or any other electronic device while driving.
  • Slow down. Speeding gives you less time to react and increases the severity of an accident.

Drive “defensively”

  • Be aware of what other drivers around you are doing, and expect the unexpected.
  • Assume other motorists will do something crazy, and always be prepared to avoid it.
  • Keep a 2-second cushion between you and the car in front of you.
  • Make that 4 seconds if the weather is bad.

Practice safety

  • Secure cargo that may move around while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Don’t attempt to retrieve items that fall to the floor.
  • Have items needed within easy reach – such as toll fees, toll cards and garage passes.
  • Always wear your seat belt and drive sober and drug-free.

Plan Ahead

  • Build time into your trip schedule to stop for food, rest breaks, phone calls or other business.
  • Adjust your seat, mirrors and climate controls before putting the car in gear.
  • Pull over to eat or drink. It takes only a few minutes.

Safety Season: Features for Parents


The Holiday Season at The Kicker is Safety Season. Every Monday we’ll post about safety and include helpful information and tips to keep you and you’re family as safe as possible on the roads. If you’d like to find helpful links to all this information and more please check out our Safety Tab on (Drive Safe, Buying a Safe Car, After Accident Action Steps).

Your kids represent your most important cargo. Here’s the top tips for finding a car that will help you protect them.


If you’re trading in your sports car for a new family car you should look for more than just a trunk that can fit a stroller or a back seat you can get a car seat in and out of. Those things are important considerations too, but lets talk safety features.

We assume modern cars have the latest safety features but not all features top the list for new parents. So here’s the short list.


Automatic Emergency Braking System

Featured vehicles: 2019 Ford Fusion and 2019 Subaru Outback

Automatic emergency braking systems, or AEBs, are quickly becoming one of the most sought-after features in new cars. These systems can sense when a forward-facing potential collision is about to occur and take preventative measures to avoid a crash, even if a driver doesn’t have enough time to react on their own. For new parents, this feature can be life-saving.


Lane Departure Warning System

Featured vehicles: 2019 Honda Accord and 2019 Toyota RAV4

These systems will alert you when you start drifting from the lane that you are in, without using a turn signal. While the lane departure systems will not take over the car for you to prevent a potential crash, they will give you a warning so you can regain control of your vehicle. This system is invaluable for parents who are traveling with children in the car.


Backup Camera

Featured vehicles: 2019 Hyundai Elantra and 2019 Mazda CX-5

Although this feature comes standard on most new cars today, it’s one that cannot be overlooked. Rearview cameras give drivers peace of mind when they are backing up, ensuring them that there is nothing in the way. When you live in a congested neighborhood  or are so tired you forget to check your blind spots, the backup camera can help prevent an accident.



Safety Season: DUI & DWI


The Holiday Season at The Kicker is Safety Season. Every Monday we’ll post about safety and include helpful information and tips to keep you and you’re family as safe as possible on the roads. If you’d like to find helpful links to all this information and more please check out our Safety Tab on (Drive Safe, Buying a Safe Car, After Accident Action Steps).


Driving after drinking too much alcohol is known as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). Alcohol slows your reflexes, temporarily lowers your mental acuity and can thus compromise your ability to control a vehicle and drive it safely. And yes, even “buzzed driving” is still drunk driving and can be just as dangerous.

A DUI arrest can lead to expensive consequences, including spending time in jail, a suspended driver’s license and fines. If you hit and/or kill someone while you are driving impaired, the consequences are even worse.

It’s also illegal to have an open container of alcohol in your car. If you’re transporting alcoholic beverages, they should be sealed and in the trunk.

All 50 states have now set .08% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) as the legal limit for Driving Under the Influence, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). For commercial drivers, it’s .04%. And if you’re under 21, it’s zero tolerance – any amount of alcohol is grounds for a DUI arrest.bodyworn-794099_1920.jpg

In some cities, law enforcement officials set up sobriety checkpoints along the road to identify and deter impaired drivers. These are typically set up during holiday weekends or on dates when there might be more drinking and driving.

If you’re stopped at a checkpoint, you’ll be asked several questions and might be asked to perform a sobriety test (like saying the ABC’s backwards, performing some physical movements or breathing into an alcohol sensor). If these tests show that you have high alcohol levels, the police may arrest you.