The Squeeze – How to Get The Most of Car Space

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You may not be aware of the term “cargo space,” though it’s just a more complicated way of saying trunk space. A similar term used in the motor trade is “cargo capacity” which means the same thing.

Looking at the objects that people put it trunks in the movies it tends to be suitcases, cooler boxes, items like that. Everything you might need for a week or a fortnight away, though the items we’ll need to place in our trunks could be yard trash, a table, chairs… Well, you get the idea.

A way to increase the space is to have storage in the front of the vehicle, as Tesla does. This wouldn’t be possible in a conventional vehicle but because the Tesla is electric the engine doesn’t take up that much space. They nickname this new space as the “frunk,” a portmanteau of “front trunk”.

trunk-1478832_1920As well as the front space, you might look at the under-trunk space, although in most cars this is where the spare tire is stored. Minivans, however, often only use part of the underfloor to store the tire leaving part for additional storage.

Minivans aren’t alone in touting their ample surplus of space. The makers of the Pontiac boast that you could fit a whole mattress in the trunk of their car. This might be too much space for most people, how often do you wish to transport a mattress? But if you require space this is probably the ideal car to get.

When you have space you might like to utilize it in bizarre new ways.

Are you unhappy with the car’s current speakers? No problem, get yourself a huge pair of subwoofers and stick them in your trunk. Okay, you no longer have half your trunk space, but it does improve your listening pleasure.

Got a couple bikes to transport? You have two basic choices—inside or out. You can install a bike rack on the roof or the trunk, depending on your car’s body type. For those who have yet to purchase a bike rack or wish to carry more than one the bicycle can be a tricky thing to transport. One idea is to use a foldaway bike which not only allows you to store the bike but also, depending on the size of the vehicle, allows room for rucksacks and other items needed for your travels.

If you are someone who needs to look immaculate all the time as you travel around the country you might like to transform your trunk into a walk-in closet complete with space for jackets to be hung up, shoes and ties.

If you are worried about items being broken in the trunk, obtaining a trunk shelf might be the answer, allowing items like eggs and so on to remain in one place and not get crushed by other items. For minivans, a cargo net can be a lifesaver.

A number of the items above may seem like late April Fools but they are available on the internet. Anywhere there is empty space, someone’s going to have an idea of how to fill it.

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Car Security

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This blog has covered an electronic key fob before and that our assumption as consumers is that it is safer than a simple key. The truth is that automakers were actually trying for convenience, not theft resistance. The fact that you can just point the fob at your car and press the button makes it easier to use, especially since you can also usually “pop” your trunk without even taking your hand out of your pocket.

Unfortunately, as safety precautions go, automatic locks can be at best a chink in your armor and at worst, entirely unsafe. This matters not only to the owners of cars but to their designers. This issue isn’t with key fobs that only put out a signal when you push a button, but with the more sophisticated proxemics style of fob that allows you to unlock and start your car as long as you have the fob on your person or in a purse.

The issue is a piece of equipment called a relay box, which is a signal booster available online. You’re fob is essentially “leaking” a little signal continuously, so that if you’re near your car it will allow you to push a button on your car door to unlock it. It’s usually harmlessly since you aren’t near your car when a thief is trying to break in. However, this signal can escape your home through windows and doors though it’s easily blocked by metal among other things.

All that the relay box does is boost the signal. One thief goes near enough to your home to pick up the signal with a relay booster then another thief stands near your car with another relay box. When the second thief pushes the button on your car door he the car will believe it’s you. He can then start the car before driving out of signal range. Some of these relay boxes can even store you signal allow the thief to turn your car off and back on again.

Here’s a link to a video of thieves using this exact process. (https://youtu.be/8pffcngJJq0)

A test by a German company shows that this relay box is amazingly effective and can open 230 out of the 237 car models tested, that’s a success rate of 97% (or a failure rate, depending on your viewpoint). This is highly disconcerting if you have this type of lock.

This particular breed of miscreant is known as a “relay thief.” What’s truly frightening here isn’t that the thieves will simply start your car and go. It’s that if their real target is inside your home, aka you, then your garage door opener is right there in your car.

There are several versions of this car fob hacking. One is to use the fob keys to jam the signal when the driver attempts to lock the car, in the same way, that you might have heard of radio messages or mobile phone calls getting jammed. It’s also possible to though rare to combine jamming with key programming in order to get the car started.

Slightly more advanced is app hacking if your car should be equipped with a cell phone remote unlock/starter. Essentially it means entering the right password either through stealing the details or guessing. This may well be the latest growth area in car crime, who can say?

car-keys-2653311_1920If you have a proximity key fob it’s a good idea to not store your keys next to the front door in a dish. Keep them further inside your home. It is generally a good idea to keep your car in a garage though keeping it behind a locked gate works relatively well and is a lot cheaper. When leaving your car parked most people know not to leave valuables in plain sight, yet we still do it. In particular, we leave navigation systems and dash cams mounted in plain view. It’s could be worth the effort to store them away each time you exit your car.

It’s advisable to use a steering lock, though it tends to be one of those things that drivers receive as a gift and never take out of its box. Procrastination is never a good idea. It’s not that these locks are impossible to beat it’s that there’s probably a car right next to yours without one and that makes these sorts of physical deterrents nearly 100% effective.

The jury is out whether car alarms actually work or if they just slow the criminals down a bit and annoy the neighbors and passers-by. Still, it’s another security device you can use. And if you’ve got something to lose chances are you’ll spend money to prevent it.

Peace and Cars

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(BTW: It’s a Pearl Harbor Day. Don’t forget to take a moment and reflect on the men and women who stand between us and danger.)

Many of us find driving very relaxing. Though it shouldn’t be a place to doze off, being behind the wheel of a car should be a relatively peaceful experience where you can forget your current woes, maybe listen to some classical music or light pop? (Of course, if you love rock-n-roll peace of mind might not be how you relax in the first place.) Something like a comic song or a discussion from talk radio might also distract, but it’s important not to forget the road altogether! Obviously stay alert, or accidents happen.

If you don’t want to employ the radio to drown out road noise you can try some gentle driving techniques make a car quieter but this means you take longer in reach your destination! There needs to be a better way.

You may have noticed that, in general, cars are getting quieter with each new model. The Green City project has spent some time trying to figure out how to make cars quieter for those inside or outside, in order to promote a more peaceful coexistence of cars in dense urban areas. They promoted an idea about reducing the sound in cities by changing tire design and adding more sound cancellation tech to new cars.

The problem is that you can’t really do much with the wind and the vibration that moving at speed is all about. It costs money to make an active difference, mechanically, though many car companies seem to be making some progress. Adding cost is a big obstacle.

So that brings us back to needing to cover up the sound. Try a download of something like whale music. Seriously, some folks swear by it. Not of fan of watery mammals? Then maybe an extract of spoken meditation will suit? Not something to make you sleep, just something to make you more comfortable.

Okay, OKAY! We have a real answer and its cheap, simple, and won’t slow down your commute. To explain it we need to look at one simple reality. Folks either find driving relaxing or stressful. Even more promising, most of us would probably say it depends on the day. So we just need to examine the forces that make it stressful one day and the polar opposite the next.

#1 Change the Situation:

Clearly, there’s a difference between a drive on a country road and sitting in traffic on the way to work. Not much you can do about your destination, right? Well, you can plan ahead. Leave a bit early and find something totally self-indulgent to do with the time you have by getting there early. Maybe sit in a coffee shop or look for a new pleasure read. Whatever it is, just make sure it’s something you can look forward to enough to jump in your car a bit ahead of the last minute.

Speaking of last minutes. Don’t add to your stress by having to make up time. You’re literally making your commute more stressful and it’s entirely in your hands to prevent it. It’s your fault you’re late and that’s good news!

#2 Examine your Options:

Whether the car doesn’t do precisely what you want, or the other drivers seem to be working hard to wreck your day, it doesn’t seem a place to relax. Well, have you checked into mass transit? We’re big fans of personal cars here, but frankly, it’s not worth dying for. If driving to work is shortening your life, consider taking a bus or train for all or part of your commute. You might save on parking and stress, and you can use the time to read or catch up on social media.

Carpooling is another way to possibly save money and time can pass more quickly when you have someone to chat with.

#3 Examine your Company:

On the opposite side of the coin from carpooling is the dreaded school run. Driving with kids can be the not-relaxing kind of conversation. You’re the adult AND the driver–it’s going to land on you to set rules and train your passengers to help not hinder.

Here are some helpful tips: getting into a routine, try to let your children know you need to concentrate on the road, not them. Try a book on CD that the whole family can get into. Or get them headphones.

If reasonable arguments aren’t working pull rank. Don’t let your kids do things that make you not like them. Remember if you battle out the rules on the way to school picking them up will be easier, not harder. Also, remember that they’ll be driving in a few years and modeling the priority of taking it seriously is going to pay off very soon.

#4 Try Silence:

Having the car in perfect quiet can act as a detox to your routine, until the next time you have to make the school run or head to a work presentation. If the rest of your life is stressful, try thinking about your time in a car as a single activity worthy of your full attention. There’s a meditation in the simple operation of the multi-thousand-pound beast surrounding you. It’s your job to at that moment to get yourself and everyone around you to their destination safely. if the rest of your life is so hectic, you may soon begin to yearn for the simplicity of driving alone in the quiet.

#5 It’s a choice:

At the end of the day, all these tips revolve around taking charge of your perspective. If you don’t like our commute, change it. If you absolutely can’t change anything else, try changing your attitude.

Many of these problems revolve around the theme of not being where you want to be. Not being at home, or being stuck in a traffic jam. Make a choice to remember that the journey is more important than the destination. It’s not just about being there instead of here, it’s about how well you do where you are right now. You can only impact the here and now. Don’t lose out on opportunities to do something well now because you wish you were somewhere else.

Whatever problem your mind is drifting back to, won’t be solved by obsessing on it. You will be home soon, or relatively soon. It’ll be fixed in a short while.

 

 

Car Hacks (Vlog 21): Smells part 2b

Well, this post is a little late. I confess it should have posted yesterday. We had a collaborative miscommunication combined with crazy schedules. But things are back on track.

Today Mike revisits car smells. We’ve actually addressed smells a few times, LOL, because it’s an issue that comes up (or should I say, comes out) often.

We’ve covered:

Now, Mike is going to cover, head on, the biggest source of smells in a car…your passengers.

Car Hacks (Vlog 19): Headphone Debacle

Today, Mike takes on an important topic, which is one that people are often confused about, and we are often confronted with–with his typical light-hearted fashion.

PS the thing that struck me while listening to this…earphones are for listening to music and headsets are for talking on the phone? Or is it the other way around? I don’t know.
PPSS On behalf of the Kicker Blog staff, we apologize for how Mike (and all New Yorkers) pronounce the word, “Oregon.” Please feel free to mock him in the comments below. (He loves that.)

Car Hacks (Vlog 18): How-To Clean Up

Hello, fans and fellow travelers. This week’s VLog from our intrepid video dude is neat and surprising. By that I mean the topic is cleaning cheap sunglasses (which you should have in your car), and surprising in that he has no head! Click the video and see for yourself–he has no head this week.

PS The real reason he has no head is that we gave him less than no time to prep and film this weeks installment. Its fun to throw him curveballs, what can I say. while we’re on that topic, please send us ideas you’d like to have Mike cover (off the wall is great) and if you’re a sponsor who’s wanted to get your product in front of a crowd contact us through the page. We’d love to get some product that Mike has to figure out how to review…tune in again this month to find out if Mike gets his head back.

Car Hacks (Vlog 17): Vaccuums Suck!

If you drive for rideshare it could be a great tip to keep a vacuum in your trunk for spot cleaning. I’d also recommend baby wipes. Watch the video below to get a fun recommendation from our cost-conscious vlog dude. (Yes, Mike I called you a dude…live with it.)

Hand Vac/Upright Vac Combo as shown in the video.

(PS at this time when you follow a link to a product on the Kicker we don’t collect any referral income. We reserve the right to change that at some point in the future. We don’t endorse any particular brand, we’re providing links purely for your convenience.)