Car Guy

Car Guy

The Car as Codpiece

By 1.22.14

Americans are a passive people — much as they like to imagine themselves vigorous, decisive, and independent. They like to watch football. And they certainly don’t do much more than that behind the wheel.

Driving is an active verb.

But observe the typical American driver. He is soporific passivity personified. He coasts along, lost in thought (or lost in chat). Eyes half-closed, mind half lit, he rarely pays much attention to things outside his immediate orbit — unless it’s something edible. Forget about what’s happening in the rearview. He target fixates on the bumper of the car head. He plods along in line with bovine serenity.

If there are two left turn lanes at an intersection and the car head of him ambles to the rightmost one, in line with the cars ahead, so will he — even if the leftmost lane is completely empty. It will not occur to him to use that lane. Such thoughts do not penetrate his stupor.

Car Guy

Waterloo for the Radar Detector?

By 12.31.13

I love my V1 radar detector. It has without doubt saved me thousands that would otherwise been mulcted out of my hide by radar-trapping cops — and it has made driving fun again. But it’s got an issue you probably ought to be aware of.

I suspect other radar detectors have the same issue, too.

More and more new cars now come with park sensors, or collision-avoidance/lane departure warning systems. Some of these systems use — you guessed it — radar or laser signals to sense the presence of objects around the perimeter of the car. These signals constantly emanate from within (and around) the car.

(Watch video here.)

The V1 picks up this “noise” — and false alerts — because it cannot weed out the signals generated by your car’s electronics (which in my experience generate police-type K band signals) and police radar, which is almost always K or Ka band. So, as you’re driving along, the detector is beeping the warning tone for K band — and the LED warning lights are dancing — even when there’s no cop around for miles.


Car Guy

Dead Pool 2014

By 12.5.13

I keep reading stories about how healthy the car industry is. If that’s true, how come so many car brands have croaked recently? Since ’08 at least seven have gone wheels up: Saab, Saturn, Suzuki, Mercury, Pontiac, Isuzu, and Hummer. That’s more dead brands in the space of six years than kicked the bucket during the 30 years prior.

And I suspect it’s not over yet.

There are several brands — some of them big names — looking a bit green around the gills lately. It would not surprise me to see any of the following go for that ride on the white canoe:

* Scion (2004-?)
Toyota’s youth-focused small car spin-off brand is in need of the crash cart, stat.

It’s three weeks away from 2014 and there is nothing new in the pipeline. The 2014s will be the same as the 2013s — and those were pretty much the same as the ’12s… which were the same as… well, you see where this is headed. The only car in the entire Scion lineup that’s not going on four years old without much more than trim tweaking here and there is the FR-S sports car — and it’s a Subaru in Scion drag.

Car Guy

Diesel Downers

By 7.10.13

What advantage diesel-powered cars like the new Chevy Cruze should offer is undercut by government-mandated features.