7 Things Every New Car Owner Needs

Taking a set of keys from a dealer or seller and stepping into a new car is an exciting moment. That first time you start the engine, the bond is set, and the car is now yours. You drive it home and that’s it, right?

It very well could be. But many things would not only make your car more personalized but can be essential in providing a much better driving or riding experience in the years ahead.

Roadside Emergency Kit

The last thing that someone wants to think about when driving away in a new car is dealing with a roadside breakdown. They might be uncommon, but they happen. One of the best ways to help keep some peace of mind and reduce the worry is to be prepared with a roadside assistance kit or a car-specific. Most of these are no larger than a small backpack and, sometimes, can be stored with your spare tire.

Car First Aid Kit

Chances are, you have some sort of first aid kit somewhere in your house or your outdoor equipment. If you don’t, you need to. Just like the roadside kit, this small pouch can be stored out of the way. However, if you ever need any of its contents, it might be the only place it’s available. Plus, keeping one specifically for the car means the inventory of band-aids and supplies won’t be out when you need them since they were used at home.

Jumper Cables

The modern batteries in cars, especially with new cars, are incredibly reliable. Most times, if you are mindful of not using your climate controls and radio with the engine off, you may go years without needing a replacement or jump. However, when you do, having your own set of jumper cables will help switch your search for help from who has cables to just someone who would be willing to help.

Window Tinting

For some, this can be a controversial one. But if your car did not come with any tinting on the windows, it will not take long for the sun to heat the inside of the car when it’s parked or even while driving. This may make the difference between having a cool interior without needing to have the fan on high. Be sure to check local laws on window tinting and be aware that going too dark (even within the legal limit), may make night driving difficult. Why suffer waiting for your car to cool down when you can reduce the heat before it starts. Tinting also reduces the fading on the interior and by reducing the heat issue, it saves on gas.

“Climate” Bag

Depending on where you live, this might involve some modification throughout the year, but consider the general climate you live in, and what sorts of things you at some point wished you had, but forgot to bring with you. Having a bag set aside for just such conditions can make the difference between staying happy and dry, or wet and miserable. This can be as simple as a packable rain poncho and towels for rainy seasons, or sunglasses and a few bottles of water for the summertime.

Car Wash Membership

One of the most often neglected parts of a car is the exterior and specifically, the paint. It is easy to believe the paint and clearcoat add some force field to keep dirt and grime from damaging the body. However, keeping the car clean and waxing it often, will keep the road particles from penetrating through the clear coat and potentially causing issues down the road. A membership to a car wash will likely save you money if you plan to keep your car in its pristine condition. If you go too long, you might need a deeper and more expensive clean, such as a clay bar wash, to get out all of the grit and grime. 

Sunshade

Regardless of the season outside, a sunshade can make a world of difference in keeping the temperature inside your car at a reasonable level when parked. Even in the winter, the sunlight can make the inside of your car stifling and create quite a temperature shock when you step in. Without a sunshade in the summer, you may be at your destination by the time you can cool off the interior to a comfortable level.

Warning Lights You Shouldn’t Ignore

Seeing a warning light come on in your vehicle’s instrument cluster can cause an uneasy feeling. Whether you are just about home from a daily commute or halfway through a cross-country road trip, these indicator lights get your heart racing, and you wonder just how much it will cost to repair whatever caused the light to come on.

However, not all indicator lights are the same. Some are alerting you to temporary conditions of the vehicle that will go away after a few more miles. Others are giving you a head’s up that a service is needed to maintain the best functioning of your car’s engine.

Some fit neither of these categories. These indications must be taken care of immediately to prevent potentially irreparable damage to your vehicle and its power train.

Cautionary Indicator Lights (think “yellow”)

Depending on your particular vehicle, several indicator lights are common across brands and others are not. Regardless, there are some of these lights that, while they show something is wrong or abnormal, are more friendly reminders, suggestions, or things to add to your list of things to do. These include tire pressure, service interval, and traction control system lights. These usually show temporary conditions where driving can continue until a convenient time for a more thorough inspection. Along with walking around the vehicle each time before driving, and doing a short pre-drive check, paying attention to these and taking care of them when you can, may save you money.

Warning Lights (almost always red)

As the color would show, if you see one of these lights, it is almost assuredly a good idea to stop as soon as safely practical. There still is a chance it is just a temporary condition that might resolve itself. The alternatives and what might happen if these are ignored are far worse and much more costly than the inconvenience of stopping and a tow to the nearest mechanic.

In each of these, the best course of action is to stop when you are able and have it checked out. As with every electronic indicator, there is a chance of a malfunction in the indicator itself. Only a check by a mechanic will you know for sure.

Oil-Pressure Warning

Your engine oil not only provides the proper lubrication between parts, some moving at thousands of rotations each minute, but it also provides an essential layer of thermal cooling to the piston and cylinders. Without the proper flow around these critical parts, the metal would heat to the point of possibly fusing once stopped, if not develop catastrophic cracking beforehand.

Whether a red image of an old-fashioned oil can, or red letters reading “OIL”, this light shows the oil is not flowing as it should. This light could mean you’re overdue for an oil change but it could indicate you’re leaking oil which will very soon ruin your engine.

Transmission Temperature

Not unlike your car’s engine, the transmission has many small parts moving rapidly with extremely small tolerances. All the same potential issues apply within the contained until of your transmission. Although the movement of the transmission components themselves is enough to circulate the transmission fluid without added pressure, issues with the supply, or leaks in the system itself, can create high temperature and pose similar risks of part fusion or thermal fatigue.

An engine that gets too hot has the potential to crack and, if extreme, requires complete replacement.

Engine Temperature

Issues with your engine temperature are usually indicated by a red light of a thermometer in a wavy liquid. This means your engine is overheating and attempts should be made to cool it as soon as possible. There are several reasons this might occur, but the main goal to prevent catastrophic damage to your car’s engine is to remove the heat from the engine area and get the motor turned off as soon as possible. As you look for a safe place to pull off, turn off your air-conditioner (if on) and crank the heat to the passenger compartment. This will help to draw the heat from the engine bay.

Once you pull over and turn off the motor, wait at least 15 minutes, if not more, to open the hood. This will help prevent scalding hot coolant or other fluids from splashing on your hands or face.

A punctured radiator is a likely culprit and not a terrible expensive fix compared to replacing the engine, which is required if it overheats too much or too long. However, there are many other reasons a car might overheat so have a professional check it.

5 Things To Test on Your Test Drive

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

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

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

Things To Consider On Your Test Drive

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

Test The Turn Signals

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

Let It Idle

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

Use Stop and Go Traffic To Your Advantage

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

Take It On The Highway

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

Test Out Parallel Parking

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

How To Pick The Best Fit

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

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

The Best Answer

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

Can a Dash Cam Get You Out Of a Ticket?

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

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

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

Dash Cams Helping You Out of Speeding Tickets

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

Illegal Turns or Stops

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

Cell Phone Usage

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

Helps Identify If You Wore a Seatbelt

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

Should You Get a Dash Cam?

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

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

Tesla and Mercedes Reliability

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Difficulties With Rural Roads.

The Department of Transport’s statistics do not look good: 50% of all deaths happen on rural roads. Despite only 25% of all driving being on rural roads. Some of the reasons behind this is that rural roads tend to be narrower, so you are more likely to be run off the road. It also means you are more likely to find a truck or van heading the other way a bit more of a challenge.

Road Conditions

There’s often no center line and no traffic signs. There are inadequate preparations for snow and less likely to be a barrier for a railroad. There are more ditches, streams and so on. Even worse, the road is more likely to be flooded. There are also blind bends and blind dips. Even looking at the scenery can cause distraction.

According to the US Department of Transport, half of all non-highway roads are rated as between “fair and poor” and 13% rated as “poor,” which appears to be the lowest classification.

Obstructions

You are also more likely to encounter speeding or drunk drivers who assume the road to be empty. Then there’s agricultural machinery. Or cyclists. A tree too close to the road can be dangerous. There are problems like cows, sheep on the road.

Texas has the most rural deaths per capita whereas South Carolina ranks as the highest number of deaths as a percentage.

Fixing Infrastructure

It could take decades to fix if it ever gets done, there is more than $200 billion missing in funding. Roads need to be widened, you need rails, lighting and so on.

Bridges may be a greater threat to life than just rural roads. 8% may not be fit for purpose or “structurally deficient” and not suitable for trucks or farm equipment. Over the past few years farmers have increased the amount of farming equipment but the quandary remains how to transport this equipment.

It’s not just farm equipment and trucks, it’s been a prevalent problem for school and college buses. The only solution seems to be smaller buses but again, the price of operation is the key.

So, what can these drivers do?

Either risk their lives or go totally out of their way. If they do travel out of their way it is inefficient and costly.

When the bridge is closed the road itself becomes less useful, so people who live on that road find the road isn’t repaired as often. So, the only solution is to have local residents pay for the bridge or have no transport network at all. If they can’t pay that may cause difficulty in itself with their neighbors.

Even when a bridge is rated fair it could still be prone to some deterioration given a few years, whether it is the suspension part of the bridge or the deck or roadway part of the bridge.

Traffic Patterns

Just because a road is rural doesn’t mean it won’t have pique traffic times. Speeds are higher on rural roads which can disguise the true number of cars that pass a given stretch of road. When a couple new housing developments go into a large area road use can double at certain intersections.

The high crash rates in certain black spots is cause for concern and sometimes the only answer is to build another road but again this requires more money.

The connections between places are key, but the smaller roads are vital for some people too, even if it is a lesser proportion of society. Rural roads can be beautiful and connecting people who choose to live outside the hustle of city life to their jobs, schools, shopping and emergency services is worth doing. But we may have forgotten the old adage, anything worth doing is worth doing well.

Car Theft & Prevention

From the UK Desk

There are so many awful car crimes out there. The Ford Pickup, especially the 2006 version, was the most stolen car in the US. The car in second place with this dubious honor was the Chevrolet pickup. This may surprise drivers of the pickup as it is not the most comfortable pickup in the world.

The state which has the most theft of vehicles is Colorado with 524 thefts out of 100,000 inhabitants or 0.5%. Overall, in the US a theft of a motor vehicle occurs about every 41 seconds.

If you steal a car from someone by force, usually violence, it is known as carjacking. Carjacking occurs to all sorts of cars; even armored ones.

The British Journal of Criminology in 2003 called the crime of carjacking “under-researched”. In order to rectify that they commissioned a study-it was all to do with the value of the vehicle in the underworld or in the open market.

Ways Cars are Jacked:

Sometimes carjacking is planned but at other times the thieves have no idea what they plan to do with the car or its parts, it’s just opportunistic.

The first action may be bumping into the car and taking the vehicle when the driver leaves the driving seat to exchange details.

Alternatively, it could be faking a car accident and stealing the potential first aider’s car. It may also be pretending that there is something wrong with the victim’s car and taking it when they are distracted–anything that gets your attention. Finally, there are those who block the gate to the victim’s property.

As well as locking the doors, either manually or through an electric lock, it’s advisable to ensure that all windows and the sunroof are closed. The number plates are at risk from theft so make sure the screws are tamper proof. The wheel nuts also need to be secured as they are often stolen.

Steeling Part of Your Car:

It’s a good idea to make sure that items like roof-racks and tailgate racks are secured. Make sure there’s a car alarm and a steering wheel lock. Most would-be thieves will see a steering wheel lock and immediately go elsewhere. But be sure that the steering wheel lock fits the specific type of steering wheel – not all of them are the same.

Rim locks and tire locks secure wheels – whether a car, ATV or even lawnmower. It’s possible to get wheels made of a soft PVC to prevent the wheel from scratching. If you worry about having the engine stolen, and there are such people, you should invest in a hood lock.

Theft of Items from Your Vehicle

There’s a problem too with cell phones, coins, wallets and credit cards – make sure they are well hidden. 39% of all thefts although 39%, followed by 19% with exterior fittings.

There are various discussions on what the car’s most prestigious part is. It could be the catalytic converter or maybe a satnav. A suction pad on the glass may give the idea that there is a hidden satnav in a vehicle.

If you want to use a smartphone app or a remote to open the car you should keep away from the kill switch. When fitting one of these devices it is best to hire a professional, but they are easy to remove when you require the car.

Various Gear Sticks

How do you drive a stick shift car?

You’ll want to engage the services of an actual driving instructor to learn to drive, but here’s a simple description of the process. We’ll start off with the basics.

The neutral sign in the middle is surrounded by the numbers one to five and the R for reverse (sometimes there is a P instead for Parking). 1-2-3-4-5-R (or P) form an extra wide H shape with the N in the middle. (If their were only gears 1-3 and R you’d have an H.

Shifting into first

With the gear shift should be in neutral you must depress the clutch and the brake.

Turn on the ignition. If you are sure it’s in neutral take the parking brake off if it is on. Then check your mirrors and signal your intention.

After some moments keeping the brake with the right foot and the clutch with your left, move into first gear. Take your foot off the brake now. Slowly release the clutch while pressing down the accelerator pedal roughly equal to the release of the clutch. You’re now in first gear.

Going Up Gears

You probably need to go up a second gear to go faster than 10mph. You will repeat the left and right foot motion to go up a gear, but your car will be rolling forward as you do. Despite this, many people feel like starting from zero forward motion is the hardest part.

You probably change gear without thinking about it but the best way apparently is to cup the gear-shift (or lever), rather than swipe or thump it. It needs to be a conscious decision that you make. Unless the gear shift pedal is pressed down the gear stick shouldn’t move.

Note: shifting up or down is informal terminology. It is more formally called a transmission level.

If you do something like go over a bump or go downhill, you need to change to a lower gear. However, most people just put it in neutral or depress the pedal the whole way downhill. It’s a better idea to shift down on a downhill so you can more quickly re-engage the engine at the right power level, or if your brakes fail you can use the engine to slow your vehicle down.

Odd Shift Levers

Some cars like the Mercedes Benz 180 have a shifter sticking out of the steering wheel. The BMW and the Audi both use a joystick, while the Jaguar and Land Rover use a rotary shifter instead of shifting a stick. A push button gear stick is the rarest – you have to press the button to change them.

The Honda Odyssey has buttons on a central dashboard or console, usually where you have your entertainment system. It’s doubtful that most people would be comfortable using a crystal glass gear shaft used by the Volvo XC60 at least to start with but if you drove this type of car you would have to get used to it.

In the Lexus LC 500 the joystick matches the leather upholstery which again takes some getting used to.

The Hurst has a pistol grip which is a bit like a huge joystick, only cooler. The Chevrolet Camaro uses a horseshoe switch design which has a certain steampunk appeal, it doesn’t however look that practical. It is not clear immediately how you change gear or even how you get out of neutral as the only control seems to be only one switch.

Historic Types of Shifting

Many old trucks have the Reverse where 1st should be or way off to the left or right of the other gears. And many trucks were geared to be able to skip gears when the truck isn’t loaded or hauling a heavy trailer. But you are unlikely to run into such things.

Hardly anyone has driven a car with sliding mesh manual transmission which was the first way to change gear, the first car invented with gear in 1894. It only had three forward gears so parking was a problem. It slid left or right but the gearing unit was basically a rotational shaft which moves or “transmits” the power from one end to the other.  Luckily this has all changed.

Pros & Cons of Manual Cars

The transmission in a manual car is much simpler so it breaks down less and is cheaper to fix when it does. By the time your automatic transmission breaks down it’ll be hard to find a replacement. You’ll have to seek out one from a junk yard which will have some milage and age on it. So if you keep a car for several years, manuals are considered the better option.

On the other hand, if you drive in congested city traffic on a regular basis, operating a clutch gets really old, really fast. So it’s just a strategic choice.

One reason we included the “how tos” in this post is that it’s a good idea to know how to shift even when you have an automatic car. You’ll get a better understanding of how your car operates when you are accelerating, even though its doing it for you.

Cars Which Allow Three Child Seats?

First things first, if you need to ask questions like this, life could be hard. So, take some time out and relax while you read this article because there’s a number of details to get through.

There have been many tests to see how to fit child seats in different cars.

Fitting child seats is a pain, but what happens if you have three car seats which need to be fitted? Here your choices may be limited, as there just isn’t enough room to accommodate them in the average subcompact or compact and even larger cars. You have to be looking an SUV or similar.

There are no such problems with the Audi Q7. It’s an SUV which gives a clue as to why it’s so accommodating. It’s also a five door with air suspension and has mild-hybrid tech. There are severa versions or trims available. It also has Audi Matrix LED headlights with indicators both on the front and rear.

Next there’s the SEAT Alhambra. Considering the capacity (seven) it would be surprising if it doesn’t fit three car seats but fitting them in a row is harder–you can only use the second row. Other features include blind spot detection and a choice of soft or metallic shades. The trim options are Style, Xcellence and FR-Line.

The feature of being superbly spacious goes without saying but the Volkswagen Touran also has a high-quality interior. It has long lasting LED headlights and a cruise control which can calculate what the car in front is doing. Other technology features are lane assist and even trailer assist. You have the choice of “configuring” or choosing individual features online.

There’s a certain something about the Land Rover Discovery. Although you don’t immediately associate Land Rover with the family commute there’s absolutely no reason not to. It had a choice of interiors so you needn’t have three seats at all, you may only require two seats in the back. It has a number of other features such as the tailgate, surround sound system and fast start up.

The S-Max is defined by Ford, its manufacturer, as a minivan, which are supposed to be designed for the family, although some fall way short. The contoured seats are adjustable with a massage feature. For your peace of mind there’s an emergency brake assist. It has Titanium, ST-Line and Vignale. Unfortunately, the last one was made in 2020.

The Mercedes-Benz GLS (the third-generation type) is another SUV. Its design is towards the minimal. There have been GLS vehicles manufactured since 2006; the GLS is short for a German word geländewagen which indicates it is an off-road vehicle at least in style, which explains its four-wheel drive. The third-generation car is a 3.0 liter turbo.

The Tesla Model S in an electric car with all-wheel drive; the charge point being located behind one of the taillights. It is defined simply as a large car in the US. An interesting feature with this car is the front trunk (or frunk in the US) for storage.

It would be fascinating to see these cars lined up. Despite having enough space for the child seats there’s a great variation between them.

Traffic optimization and control

As a driver it helps to know in advance where the areas of congestion are, the amount of parking spaces in metropolitan car lots as well as knowing areas where speed limits have been reduced. Traffic optimization is the science, or at least skill, of reducing the time spent at traffic lights.

How cities prioritize funds:

Sometimes cars have to cope with roads which haven’t been repaired for some time and are full of potholes. It is a challenge to cope on these roads at the best of times, hence why road surface is dealt with first before items such as congestion.

If there is too much traffic in one place (not just clogged up vehicles but also too many cars at a certain time of day) will increase exhaust emissions in that area. You can decrease this by having other ways for the public to reach an area, creating different hubs in a town (essentially removing the high street as the go-to zone, which may not be possible either in a huge metropolis) or having rush hours at different times.

The lights need to be synchronised and need to allow for emergency vehicles to pass through easily.

Traffic Calming?

The contrasting term for all this is “traffic calming” which stops speeding and encourages more responsible driving. As well as reducing air pollution and the increased traffic noise is addressed.

Noisy, polluted streets are not the best to live on; according to Donald Appleyard’s Liveable Streets study a resident on a non-polluted, non-noisy street would have three times as many friends/acquaintances on average compared to those who do not. The study compared three streets in San Francisco, each with a different total of cars per day.

Reducing “cognitive load”

Speed Bump

Cognitive load is just fancy was to say making driving more difficult – it pushes traffic off crowded direct routes onto otherwise long ways around. Sometimes the goal is to make it easier to avoid a town entirely.

Speed Table

There’re speed bumps, speed tables (basically a longer hump) and speed dip. As with natural dips the sudden drop means traffic slows up as it approaches the obstacle. There’s also chicanes which is a curve in a road.

Other techniques are narrowing roads and removing lanes-”road diets”. Converting one-way streets to two ways requires more careful driving. Unfortunately, this process does produce more accidents in the first couple of weeks or so.

So basically, government prioritizes road maintenance (fixes potholes) so traffic can flow without building up exhaust, then puts speed bumps (reverse potholes) on the roads to encourage alternate routes.

How does changing the operating hours change the traffic?

A study published in March 2020 used a fairly medium-ish city in China (Ningbo) which has a similar grid shape to Manhattan.

The study worked off an extremely urban area of the city with financial buildings and high-class restaurants. Working off mathematical principles each section of business traffic was measured – 40% of it being from retail and shops. In altering the time traffic moved through the city there was a definite reduction of traffic. As it was only published last year there hasn’t been enough time to establish how practical removing the 9 to 5 is. Only that it creates better streets to dwell on, which at least makes it more desirable for locals.