The Counter-Intuitive Appreciation of Used Cars

New cars are expected to lose a significant amount of value the second they are driven off the lot. Used cars are not supposed to be investments. Even vintage or classic cars aren’t really appreciating in value so much as regaining value. Meaning they went through a time of massive value loss, then because there are fewer of them left and after lots of money and work spent in restoring them to immaculate condition, well, they still aren’t a good investment. But they technically have ‘gained value.’

But there is a curious bubble building right now that should at least grab your attention, if not make you consider some major decisions. The value of many used cars–not classic, nor vintage, nor extremely rare–regular used cars that were a dime a dozen just two years ago when they were new, has increased at nearly the same rate as the popular bitcoin NFTs and exceeding many increases in the stock market.

To be clear, this is not expected to continue for much longer. With that, there are decisions that warrant some consideration as the vehicle sitting in your driveway or garage right now might offer one of the best returns on investment you will have.

The Why…

There are two main reasons this jump or surge might be happening. Both are certainly “negatives” in the realm of commerce, but neither is showing many indications of recovery anytime soon.

Inventory

The past few years have placed an immense strain on everyone and everything. While we might be (hopefully) nearing the end, some effects have yet to reach their peak, and recovery may still take a few long years away. Perhaps one of the largest of those is the supply chain issues that you almost assuredly have already experienced.

Couple the shortage of inventory of imported automobiles over the last few years, as well as the chip shortage that has dramatically slowed the production of new vehicles, there simply is less supply for the same demand.

The best way to think about it is that a car doesn’t run unless it has all its parts. So a shortage in a couple types of parts can sideline a lot of cars.

While both issues are showing signs of a turnaround, it may take a bit of time yet for a full recovery from these.

Inflation

Inflation is a fickle economic indicator. In general, things cost more during times of inflation, but the cost of particular goods is not necessarily an indicator of inflation. In looking specifically at car values, the average price of both new and used cars has gone up drastically. This would seem like decent evidence for inflation.

However, the average value of used cars around two years old has jumped by 50%, with new car values seeing half that. Time will tell whether this trend continues or if the cost of vehicles begins to drop.

The Market

Not unlike many housing markets, the used car market is a seller’s paradise. If you have been considering selling your car, either to upgrade to a newer model or to downsize your family’s fleet, now might be your best time. As always, take some time to research to see how much your used car is worth. It won’t take long to see how the value has grown over the past two years.

Buying a Car

If you are looking to upgrade to a newer model, now might not be the best time, especially if you are committed to a used vehicle. Depending on your circumstances or why you are needing a different vehicle (growing family, perhaps), you might not have a choice. In this case, there are a few things to consider. First, if you can wait and “ride out” this wave, it might prove less of a financial blow if prices come down. Second, if you can’t wait, consider buying a new car. Yes, the average cost of new cars has also increased, but nothing compared to used vehicles.

What would cause the Bubble to Stay Longer?

Well, Governors like Jay Insley of Washington state keep announcing that new vehicles will be all electric (EVs) or Hybrids. In Washington’s case, the goal is to make this shift by 2035. They infrastructure can’t handle that now, and is unlikely to in 2035.

The effect of banning sales of new, non-EV cars in a state will drive the price up on used ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars.

How Big Will the Bubble Get?

Or, how long will it take for prices to go down? No one knows. This is unlike any other time where the market is “simply” based on the ebbs and flows of the economy itself. With the external influences at play, we may see recovery within a few months, or it may take a few years. In both cases, there can be a very steep slope in both directions. We may not have seen the peak of the value of used cars. On the other hand, if the bubble bursts, we may see such a drastic drop in prices that they will fall beyond where they started.

10 Ways to Save on Auto Insurance 

The laundry list of expenses when it comes to vehicle ownership can seem never-ending. One expense that is a legal requirement to drive, but is something you hope to never need is car insurance.

You might have insurance through the same company you used since you started driving. And, you might be paying ever-increasing premiums. That doesn’t have to be the case. There are many ways to save money and keep great coverage.

One–Don’t Let Your Coverage Lapse

Letting your coverage lapse can have a significant impact on your premium. Not unlike how employers look at gaps in your employment history, insurance companies are leery of any gaps in coverage, especially the longer they are. On average, premiums increased by 8% with gaps shorter than 30 days. Longer than that, the average shoots up to a 35% increase.

Two–Bundling

Most major auto insurance companies also have branches or subsidiaries that handle homeowners, renters and/or other types of insurance. With nearly all of these, savings of between 5% and 25% can be found.

Three–Coverage

Take a close look at your specific policy coverages and see if it is at a level that makes sense to you. For example, if you are living in a dry area where lots of rocks or sand is thrown up by trucks, you might want to have more comprehensive coverage as you might be replacing windshields frequently. If you live in a wetter climate where that doesn’t happen as much, it might be worth it to save by not having so much coverage.

Four–Mileage

Many of the top insurance companies provide a discount of up to 10% for simply driving less. To get this discount might take a bit more work on your end, as some require either periodic reporting of mileages or signing up to have a beacon/sensor sent to you. Once you enroll in these programs, they are extremely easy and can save quite a bit of money.

Five–Accidents

Accidents happen. But in being extra diligent in trying to avoid them, your insurance rates will not increase because one and many companies will reward you for remaining accident-free for certain periods. Since nearly every policy requires  prompt reporting of accidents, the severity of the accident and who is at fault can have serious effects on your premium. 

Six–Defensive Driving

Another way to save that requires a bit more of an active role is to complete a Defensive Driving course. Nearly every insurance company offers a discount with proof of completion. Best of all, you can complete this online (be sure to check with your carrier to make sure they accept the program you find). Not only will this save you money, but the knowledge gained from the course might also keep you accident-free.

Seven–Your Car

This is something to consider when you are looking for a new car, but can also affect the one(s) you currently own. Request a few quotes based on the ages, makes, and models. Generally, the older the car, the lower the premium. If you have an existing policy, contact your agent to see if the premium can be “refreshed” with the current age of your vehicle.

Eight – Credit

Just like your ability to get a lower interest rate on lines of credit, the higher your credit score is, the more likely you are to find a lower premium. If you are working to restore or build your credit up, be sure to stay in contact with your agent as your score increases. (Beware the inquiry use may affect your score. Ask if it is a hard or soft (preferred) credit pull.)

Nine – Pay-In-Full

When shopping around, or researching within an existing policy, many companies offer discounts when a policy is paid in full for the coverage periods. Typically, this is six months or a year.

Ten – Your Age

If you are in your college years or around retirement, there might be a discount that you qualify for. Generally, younger drivers can qualify for discounts based on their grades. Older drivers (usually 55+) can qualify for up to 10% in savings.

The Five Best Car Shows 

Barrett-Jackson Auction

For many people, the release of a new model from a favorite carmaker is exciting. For others, seeing perfectly restored vintage cars brings them back to memories of their early years. In both cases, any travel or extra work needed is well worth it.

The incredible variety of car shows around the United States, as well as the world that provides nearly any kind of experience you might be looking for. These can range from seeing cars that are over forty years old but look as new as the day they rolled out of the factory, to cars that look like they are from forty years in the future.

If you are looking for just such an experience, here are five car shows that may be just what you are looking for. Being able to see the evolution of the automobile first-hand is well worth the time. 

Classic Cars–Woodward Dream Cruise

It is fitting that one of the largest car shows in the world is just miles from the American City known for auto productions. The Woodward Dream Cruise is hosted each August just outside of Detroit, in Pontiac, Michigan. Expect to see over 40,000 classic cars on display or driving down the famed Woodward Drive.

Luxury Cars–Monterey Car Week

What is often described as “the most important car show in America”, this week-long luxury event takes place among the incredible scenery of Monterey Bay in California. Not only are you able to see mint-condition vintage models from famed makers such as Ferrari and Bugatti, but this event also serves as a “test” for many concepts, years away from production. The weekends with the “Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance” that has a dress-code expectation to match the elegant name.

New Releases/Concepts – Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)

Held in late October in Las Vegas, Nevada since 1967, it was not until recent decades that SEMA had transformed into what it is today. Automobile manufacturers realize, and attendees expect this to be the premier event for incredibly advanced concept cars, “one-offs” and custom builds. Although many of these will never make it to full production, it is the ability to see what each carmaker is capable of that draws the interest. The advancements in auto technology shown here may just be used as part of a full production model shortly. 

International–Paris Motor Show

When the Paris Motor Show is held this October, it will mark the 124th Anniversary of one of the first international auto shows. There is no ignoring the travel and cost associated with attending this event. However, if you are looking to see what is on the near horizon from automakers, this is the event to attend, and the event provides great instructions and help for international attendees. With certain trade regulations affecting what is exported/imported to various countries, many automakers have models specific to certain regions, the Paris Motor Show brings them all together. There is a definitive shift as automakers have showcased new green technologies and car-driver connectivity never seen before.

Auctions – Barrett-Jackson

Taking classic car restorations to another level, entrants into a Barrett-Jackson auction take time to perfect every detail on their car, in hopes of getting a higher bid. These auctions are held periodically throughout the year in various cities. While this is not a traditional car show, there will certainly be one-of-a-kind cars rolling across the auction block. Plus, there is the bonus of watching the exciting action that an auto auction brings.

Diesel – To Buy Or Not To Buy?

Diesel hasn’t been that popular in the US and the introduction of hybrids will further reduce their popularity. In Europe, the laws requiring low-sulfur refining for gas made gas more expensive, which has in turn made diesel more attractive. The return on diesel is about 30% better than gas so the same liter gets you more bang for your buck.

The current result of all this is that Diesel is only 3% of the US car market. That might change though, the Diesel Technology Forum have quoted a survey that 40% of the populace would buy diesel. About 10 years ago it was a mere 13%.

According to fueleconomy.gov diesel is 20-35% better than gas power as far as emissions are concerned. Diesel and gas produce similar combustion, only diesel can do so at lower temperature. As a result, spark plugs are used to assist in a gas-powered car. This makes the diesel engine much more efficient.

The elephant trap with diesel is that the US has an emission standard which diesel engines find hard to match. The effects of diesel are more noticeable with the increased engine noise and engine odor. In other words, diesel is technically a little cleaner to operate but smells and looks worse.

Resale

Another reason not to buy is the price. Although diesels cost $2,500-$4,000 more (depending on the model) they seem to hold their value. Even if a diesel lacks spark plugs finding other spare parts may prove costly on the wallet.

Why do they store value better? Because they tend to run to much higher milage. For the vehicle to pay you back you need to keep it for more than five years, providing you use it on highways.

What about Traveling across the Country?

On long trips it can be tricky to find places to fill up your diesel tank. On the other hand, semis are almost all diesel so there are plenty of places to fill up in you’re willing to look. So travel isn’t a reason to prefer gas.

Does Type of Car Matter?

Diesel cars tend to have a strong Alpha Male appearance, so the US market, with their love of Pick-up trucks, may embrace non-gas pickups and off-road vehicles more than commuter or sports cars.

It’s not just cars, people seem to prefer gas powered vans. The Ford Transit was gas powered in the US but diesel powered everywhere else. As of 2011, an electric version might seem to supersede the gas and diesel versions, but it didn’t catch on.

What About Hybrids

There’s a lot of political pressure to reduce our use of fuel overall, which means EV’s or Hybrids. It could be a moot point which is better between diesel and gas, someday. BUT we’re not there yet.

The main reason why car companies continue to produce diesel instead of hybrid is due to cost. Retooling factories is expensive and EV’s and hybrids represent a huge cost compared to just refining the current models. Car makers do make large scale changes to their models but most of their “new models” are really just minor tweaks to the previous year. Why fix what aint broke? Especially if it’s really expensive. The consumer also wins in this scenario because the cost of retooling passes onto them. Consumers like feeling like they bought a brand new design at the cost of a car that’s been in production for 5 years.

So long-story-short, car companies are embracing EV’s and hybrids, just at a pace more inline with the natural attrition of their factory equipment.

This is where we see start up manufacturers like Tesla grab market share because they have the same outlay of money to build a factory regardless of the type of car they’re going to make.

As long as hybrids cost to make for the big traditional automakers we wont’ really know how popular hybrids are because they cost more than an equivalent gas or diesel, without the advantage of longevity diesel has. Fuel prices are another factor. If gas continues to rise in price people will start to look for relief. Only time will tell if they’ll buy more diesels or more hybrids.

Only when prices go down for hybrids and they become more mainstream does it become a fair economical comparison and gas prices are going to completely throw the numbers off.

With cars makers like Ford making an f-150 hybrid and the Toyota making a Tundra hybrid even our assertion that diesel might become more popular in US pickup trucks is in doubt. You’d think of, due to their off-road nature and the torque diesel would find a home.

In Conclusion?!?!

What’s all this macroeconomics, and trend projections got to do with the question: “Should I spend the extra up front to get a diesel or just by a gas car?”

Well, a lot, really. The big plus to diesel is the high mileage they might go to, the fuel economy (dollar for dollar) and the overall reliability. Altogether making diesel an easy win if your intention is to buy it and drive it until, and long after, its paid off. Which isn’t a good idea if diesel become rare or hard to find in the next five years.

Are we really saying Diesel manufacture could drop?

If demand drops it could happen, and it doesn’t have to go away completely to become a problem. If Supply drops due to low market demand, then price will go up. Fewer stations will carry it and your like-new Merc that was going to hold most of its value is suddenly an expensive lawn decoration.

Factors that might impact the Future…

Gas powered ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars seem to be the obvious poorer choice and should fade away, even in America. However, gas cars are the majority of the market still. They may continue to be the cheaper upfront purchase for a long time, where diesel is basically battling for its share of the slightly higher initial price vehicle market with hybrids. Making it more likely that one of those two competitors will get shoved out.

Bottom-line, gas-powered cars in the US will not go quietly into the good night. The will linger and likely cause upcoming laws banning them to be shoved off several times before they are entirely replaced.

The EV Factor

EV’s might continue to be the most expensive upfront vehicle as many people see it as the only full hedge against rising fuel prices. So, it’s likely that the part of the market that finds hybrids attractive would be at least as attracted to an all-electric vehicle (EV). In which case, hybrids are battling on two fronts.

Ironically if the laws currently working their way through the process succeed in banning the sale of new ICE cars by 2035, and everyone buys an EV, the cost of electricity will sky-rocket. Basically, your car will burn the same fuel as you heat your house and cook with—talk about demand.

EV’s can have a torque and traction advantage over ICE trucks, but until recently EVs have stuck the commuter market. One reason might be it’s the biggest slice of the market. Another, more likely, reason is the low range on EVs. It’s unlikely EVs will ever make inroads with the offroad market. Trucks like Tesla’s Cybertruck are marketing to an urban consumer.

So, the most likely outcome for EV’s is a steady rise in market share at the high (but not luxury) price point.

The Hybrid Factor

It’s unfortunate that US Automakers went all in on hybrid model cars because their future is the least bright. Too much competition, and most importantly the laws banning ICE vehicles have, for the most part, failed to exclude hybrids.

It’s also sad that Hybrids are likely doomed because from a sustainable and practical standpoint hybrids are the clear winner. When you combine emissions with the amount the toxic batteries going into landfills, hybrids have the best blend of upside with the minimal downside.

The Diesel Factor

Obviously if legislators can’t be bothered to differentiate between a gas ICE car and a hybrid car they can’t be bothered to exclude diesel from their ban.

Diesel has a couple opportunities to battle back. First, as already mentioned diesel is technically cleaner. There’s a chance that will count for something, some places, if not everywhere. Second, diesel engines easily convert to handle “bio-diesel” which should make the environmentalist lobby a little friendlier to them. But there isn’t a lot of real science (or thought) going on inside most of these lobby groups.

The Likely Deciding Factor

Range! How far can you go without stopping? This is pretty basic, but somehow EV marketing has done a great job of misdirection. Don’t look at the fact that our cars only go 300 miles and take a long time to recharge. Don’t think about how annoying it is your year-old cellphone has to be charge by 2 PM. Pay no attention to the lithium strip mining of the 3rd world or the landfills piling up with toxic batteries.

Sorry, forget that last part. The question will soon be, how far do you need to go?

You should look at the economics to see which vehicle is best. A diesel can go for 600 miles without stopping for a new fill-up. It’s most likely that suburban shoppers will demand to keep using gas cars, or switch to EV’s, while urban shoppers will transition to public transportation. This will leave diesels with an open market in the rural, and offroad markets.

BUT, as said earlier, if you constantly change vehicles gas may be better value in 2022 and 2023. But otherwise, why not go for diesel?

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.

E-racers – Grand Turismo and Forza

It seems that the virtual world of racing is as interesting as the real world of racing. As always, it depends on how you like your thrills.

Grand Turismo

Starting with the Grand Turismo brand; Grand Turismo 7 has been linked with the Porsche brand since 2017. It’s different from designing a car as it’s all about what it feels like to be behind the wheel and although you need to know something about the interior and the paintwork this isn’t the main focus.

The Deep Forest Roadway is apparently back as is the Trial Mountain and the High-Speed Ring.

This is the first year that a Porsche has been developed for the game, as if it were a concept car or one-off. It’s not a car you’d see on the road now, it’s far too futuristic an aesthetic.

Porsche Taycan

It needs to look and feel as if it were a Porsche-in other words, have the correct proportions and the iconic light strip which is linked with the brand. It has a hologram display in a curved shape which is also linked with Porsche and has the low seat associated with a racing car. Although these features wouldn’t necessarily work in real life.

The LED headlights are certainly reminiscent of the Porsche but to be clearer it is most similar to a Taycan, a Porsche electric sports car.

The titanium and carbon casing that the car were accounted for in the weight and wind dynamics effect on the cars handling. Funny enough, made sure that interior appears to be made out of vegan elements. Not sure why a car that doesn’t actually exist in real life needs to go that far, but…there you have it.

The display reacts to the steering wheel/controller as quickly as it can be. There are a number of mysteries under the hood which the game merely hints at.

Apparently, creating a concept car so real your competitors could potentially steel your design ideas from it’s avatar in a racing game is a concern for Porsche. Remember when automakers tried to keep people from viewing their design models so you couldn’t reverse engineer them—well, now adays you might be able to do it from a digital footprint.

Forza Horizon 7

Forza Horizon 7 has introduced speedsters such as the Lamborghini Aventador and various other vehicles recognizable to road users such as the 2011 Ferrari. There is also the 1939 Maserati which might only be considered highly recognizable to vintage car experts.

Do people buy the Forza Horizon for the different qualities of car horns which can be heard? It’s highly unlikely, but they made the horn sounds accurate and we nerds thank them for adding a new level detail to the gameplay.

Unfortunately, its predecessor Forza Motorsport 7 stopped being available in online stores in September 2021. The only way to buy it as a boxed copy is now second hand.

1939 Maserati

This seems to be the way of things; gone are the days of owning a physical copy of a game. People must prefer to buy it online and play it online without a physical box or file that you can hold.

Even if you delete Forza Motorsport 7 and similar games you can redownload it for nothing (in a similar way as you can redownload apps).

As of December 2021, there’s no news of the game which is simply called Forza Motorsport, or the one called Forza Motorsport 8. Project Woodstock is also linked to Forza but again there’s scant news about these projects.

This keeps everything guessing about the latest fads, so it probably keeps online racers intrigued. We’d love to write a post about how racing game developers are pushing designers to innovate real cars, or something along those lines, but game developers don’t seem to be able to push themselves to release their own games on time. So we’ll work with what we have. Look for updates as they become available.

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.

Individualized Car Designs.

OP-ED by the UK Desk

Ever notice how every car is special, at least according to how its marketed, they are after all mass-produced. So, it’s no wonder that many people desire to make their cars distinct, individualized in any number of ways.

Making your Car Uniquely You: The Basics…

Starting with the common add-ons. Many people add chrome wheels, spoilers and the like. We’ve covered that in other posts. It’s not hard to find an SUV someone has “ruggedized” with spare tires on the back, roof racks, and extra gas cans.

More Extreme…

Some people cover their cars with strange material, whether it’s fur or AstroTurf or wallpaper or whatever.

Some innovators go for a known aesthetic, like steampunk. They use brass pipes and things to add a vintage style to a modernish car.

Other customizers strap something to the car’s roof, like a rubber duck or a hat.

Some go so far as to transform their car into a high-heeled shoes or a permanently grounded UFO or giving them the shade and texture of a gecko lizard. While these cars are uncommon there’s no difficulty finding them in a large city.

Others have jetpack boosters coming out of the rear or have the trunk region being turned into a Wendy House. It seems as if they make their imagination run riot.

The History of Extremely Custom Cars…

But there have always been strange designs. Hardly anyone nowadays has heard of the Special, also known as a Streamliner, named after Norman Timbs. Apart from its sleek streamlined shape what stands out is its strong plum color and the fact that it has no door, no trunk or even hood. A “streamliner” is a vehicle (more likely a railway engine than a car) which has been engineered in such a way to reduce air resistance.

Norman Timbs was a racecar engineer who worked on cars for the Indy 500. Though you might think of it as a concept car and possibly one with a market, only a test vehicle was ever made. Disastrously, it was all but destroyed in a fire in 2018 but fortunately the frame was saved. From these small pieces they managed to recreate the whole car creating a wonderful museum piece.

The Ferrari Modulo

1970 Ferrari Modula

Although many cars in the 1970s took their influence from jet planes, the Ferrari Modulo goes one step beyond and takes its design through the contemporary idea of spacecraft. It was first seen at the Geneva Motor Show in 1970. Adding to the extra-terrestrial appearance are the wheels which are slightly hidden. It could be a bit of a worry to see on a dark night, especially in middle America.

Pinnifarnia designed it, who are well known for designing coaches as well as more regular vehicles. Based in Turin, this design business works in Maserati and General Motors as well as Korean names of Hyandai and Daewoo. They even make other luxury items such as private jets and yachts.

Pinnifarnia’s work is worth going into a bit more. Its first HQ was in Turin in 1920, creating at first the chassis for Cadillacs and Rolls Royce. The biggest success the company made is arguably the Cisitalia 202 Coupé featured as did in the Museum of Modern Art.

Are these vehicles designed to be driven or should they be just treated as works of art? Whatever, they bring some color and joy into people’s lives. Possibly a bit of madness too.

By the time we’re talking about Professional Custom Designers like Pinnifarnia we’re into another class of customizer—one catering to those rich enough to order a truly custom vehicle. The most famous of this class of customizer are the custom Harley makers like Orange County Choppers, Jessie James and the like. They justify their own post…coming soon…