Just Car Blog
|The 3 Million Mile Volvo||
Irv Gordon is a man that really loves road trips and someone who knows and respects quality.
Gordon has been driving the same Volvo P1800 since 1966 – which he bought brand new that year. The best thing about Gordon’s 1966 Volvo is not that it is a beautifully preserved, classic car – it is that Gordon has put nearly 3,000,000 miles on the clock! (That’s 4,828,032 kilometers for us!)
The 73-year old retired science teacher from New York City simply loves long distance driving. Before he retired, he used to drive 125 miles a day to work and back – or 201 kilometers a day just to get to work and back.
This daily commute obviously also contributed to his high mileage. Doing some simple calculations, Gordon put more than 62,000 miles on the car for every year of ownership in order to get to this point.
Check out Gordon’s beautifully preserved, 1966 Volvo P1800:
Gordon has had the same Volvo technician work on his car for the past 15 years, and says that that also contributes to the sustainability of the car.
But for Gordon, “It’s not about getting to the three million miles; it’s about the trips that got me to the three million miles. (I) never had a goal to get to one million, to two million. I just enjoyed driving and experiencing life through my Volvo.”
Gordon intends to hit the 3 million mile mark on a road trip to Alaska this September.
Have a look at the video below to see the famous car in action:
As he gears up for his trip to Alaska (one of the only two states he hasn’t visit in the USA) he told reporters: “…Find your own journey and reason to believe because you only have one life to live. No matter how many roads I’ve been on, there’s always one I haven’t taken. That’s what makes it exciting”
|Alex Roy Brings You The 24 Minutes Of Paris: Video||
If you don’t know the name Alex Roy, you should. His feats of high-speed endurance driving are the stuff of legend, and he’s known to many as the leader of Team Polizei of Gumball and Bullrun Rally fame. He holds the record for the fastest semi-official run from New York to Los Angeles (32 hours, 7 minutes), yet enjoys a perfect safety record on the events he runs. To Roy, meticulous planning for the event is as important as the event itself.
If you know the short film titled C’était un Rendezvous, you know what a high-speed run through the streets of Paris looks like (if you don’t know the film, you should watch it – it’s fantastik). Roy’s latest endeavor is like “Rendezvous” in spirit, but much, much slower and, oddly, entirely legal. Instead of terrorizing the early morning streets of the city at triple-digit speeds, Roy’s latest effort involves lapping the Arc de Triomphe as many times as he can over 24 minutes.
If you think this is no big deal, you’ve never seen or driven in Paris traffic. As far as risk goes, we’d equate this to a lap of the Nürburgring in a Porsche 930, in the rain, on slick tires, while tripping on LSD. While speed isn’t a factor, the constant danger of collision with trucks, busses and inattentive drivers is what makes our sphincters pucker.
Roy’s record now stands at 6.2 kilometers in 24 minutes. We’re not going to attempt to beat that anytime soon, but we’re pretty sure someone will.
|Irony: Man Texts Of Texting While Driving Danger, Before Driving Off Bridge||
No matter how many time we’re told that texting while driving is a bad idea, many drivers simply can’t break themselves of the habit. A Texas man learned firsthand of the risks involved, and his inattention behind the wheel nearly cost him his life.
WLBT reports that Chance Bothe, a college student, was texting while driving near Huntsville, Alabama. Aware of the danger involved, Bothe’s final text was “I need to quit texting, because I could die in a car accident.” Seconds after sending the text, Bothe’s truck jumped a bridge railing and landed in a ravine below.
The accident was severe, and Bothe suffered a broken neck, broken bones in his face, a skull fracture and serious brain injuries. The Texas man nearly died on the operating table on three separate occasions, but doctors fought hard to keep him alive.
Six months after the accident, Bothe is on his way to making a full recovery, and may be the world’s most outspoken critic of texting while driving. Of the practice, Bothe said, “Don’t do it. It’s not worth losing your life.” Bothe had his moment of clarity at his grandmother’s funeral, thinking , “I’m surprised that’s not me up in that casket. I came very close to that, to being gone forever.”
Image credit: flickr user mrJasonWeaver
|Driving 101: Do I REALLY Need To Use Premium Gas?||
Buying a new car these days is an incredibly expensive proposition, and the costs hardly stop when you pay off the car. Low profile tires on big wheels may look cool, but they’re also incredibly expensive to replace (at least if you purchase the kind of performance-oriented rubber your car was designed for). Opt for high-end carbon ceramic brakes, and replacement pads and rotors will likely cost in the thousands of dollars. Even fueling your car on a regular basis can be expensive if the manufacturer recommends premium gas for best performance.
One of the questions we get asked on a regular basis is “does it matter what grade of gas I put in my car?” The short form answer is “yes,” but how much it matters is determined by a lot of different factors. In some cases, your penalty will simply be reduced performance, but in other cases you risk detonation, which in extreme cases can destroy your engine. In any event. a car designed for premium fuel won’t run as well on regular, and will likely consume more of the cheap stuff, reducing your perceived savings.
Regular gas, believe it or not, is more combustible than premium gas, and it burns quicker. Engines that support the use of regular unleaded fuel typically have lower compression ratios, and don’t rely on turbocharging or supercharging to make power. In other words, engines designed to run on regular unleaded fuel tend to be stuffed in economy cars and mainstream sedans that don’t need to make a lot of power.
Modern engines often use specially shaped combustion chambers, high compression ratios, gasoline direct injection and forced induction to ensure a complete (and cleaner) burn of fuel, and produce more power from a smaller displacement. The end result is that the engine runs best on gasoline that won’t ignite before it’s suppose to, a condition called “preignition” or “detonation.” From inside the car, you’ll hear this as knock in the engine, and knock is a very, very bad thing.
The quick explanation is this: fuel vapor in the combustion chamber is igniting before it’s suppose to, likely before the compression stroke is through. Instead of the explosion happening when the piston reaches top dead center, it’s happening when the piston is still moving upwards. The net result can be catastrophic engine damage, which is why modern engines are equipped with knock sensors to detect and correct for this. When these sensors detect preignition, timing is set back until preignition is no longer a threat; the down side is that engine output is reduced, too, meaning your car doesn’t make the horsepower and torque it’s supposed to.
Under normal driving conditions. knock sensors can generally compensate for using regular gas in a vehicle designed for premium. Under more severe conditions, such as towing, mountain driving, extreme heat or a combination of these factors, knock sensors may not be able to retard timing enough to prevent engine damage.
Manufacturers are aware of this, which is why they rate their vehicles accordingly. If you see “Premium Fuel Required” in your owners manual, our suggestion is that you follow this to the letter and fill your car only with premium fuel. On the other hand, if your manual says “Premium Fuel Recommended,” you can likely get away with a tank of the cheap stuff as long as you’re willing to sacrifice fuel economy and performance. We still wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s unlikely you’ll face any severe consequences.
If the difference in price between a tank full of premium gas and a tank full of regular gas is going to break the bank for you, our suggestion is simple: buy another vehicle that doesn’t require premium fuel. On the other hand, we believe in getting all the horsepower we pay for, so all of our vehicles that specify premium get filled with it, each and every time.
Image credit: flickr user blmurch
|Video: Texting While Driving Really Does Impair Reaction Time||
By now, there probably isn’t a driver in this country unaware of the dangers of texting and driving. No matter how many public service messages are put out there, the net effect is zero: drivers will continue to text and talk on hand-held cell phones behind the wheel. Why? Call it the “it can’t happen to me” factor, which is the same reason why people don’t wear seat belts. Here’s the bottom line: no one ever plans on having an accident, and using a cell phone behind the wheel increases you chance of having one exponentially.
That’s why we’re fond of this video, found on Autoblog, which shows new drivers proving to themselves that texting and driving is a bad idea. Imaging if texting while driving was a required step to pass a driver’s test – how do you think you’d do under the watchful eyes of an instructor, dodging cones while sending a text?
Here’s another thing worth pointing out – in most of Europe, getting a driver’s license is a much bigger deal than it is here. First, you go to a formal driving school, where you’re taught not just the rules of the road, but essential skills like car control that we tend to ignore on this side of the Atlantic. In other words, each of the students in this film had substantially more experience behind the wheel than the average new driver in America.
We’re far too jaded and cynical to think this video will keep even one new driver from texting behind the wheel, but we’ll do our part to spread the word anyway. Don’t text and drive, and always wear a seat belt, because it can indeed happen to you.
|Lapping A Snowy Nürburgring Nordschleife, In A Formula Car: Video||
Andy Gülden is the chief instructor for the Nürburgring Driving Academy. In other words, he earns a living teaching people how not to kill themselves on the ‘Ring, and occasionally how to lap the Nordschleife in a spirited-but-competent manner. Business, we guess, is slow in the winter, but a driver must constantly practice his skills to stay sharp.
We’re not sure if piloting a formula car around a snow-and-ice-packed ‘Ring demonstrates mad skills or just plain madness, but it makes for entertaining video. The car Gülden is driving weighs just over 1,000 pounds and is powered by a 140-horsepower, 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine. They don’t make snow tires for formula cars, so he’s lapping on what appear to be intermediate rain tires. We’d call them “sub-optimal” for snow and ice.
Also sub-optimal was the temperature for Gülden’s run, which was hovering around the three-degrees-Fahrenheit mark. In weather like that, we’d prefer our wintertime driving fun behind the wheel of a (winter-tire shod) BMW M3, with working heat and heated seats.
Want to get driver training from Gülden and his staff on your next trip to Germany? You’ll find complete details on available programs at the Nürburgring Formel Super Racing website.
|Understeer Versus Oversteer||
I’m working on a driving presentation for a local auto dealer, and I remembered these two videos (one from Top Gear, and one inspired by Top Gear) that explain the basics of understeer and oversteer far better than any fifteen-minute, physics based lecture. In a nutshell, when your car understeers, you see the tree that kills you. When you have oversteer, you don’t see it: hence, oversteer (at least according to Richard Hammond) is preferable.
In the real world, especially with modern stability control systems, things aren’t quite this simple. In fact, it’s quite difficult to get cars to do either with modern techno-nannies onboard, especially when some manufacturers (Volkswagen, for example) don’t allow you to fully disable their stability control programs. Other automakers (GM and Chrysler, for example) allow partial or even full defeat of stability control systems for track driving.
The simplest way to counter understeer is to do less of what you’re doing (like turning the steering wheel) to let your front tires regain traction. Excluding a mechanical failure or road condition like oil or ice, oversteer is almost always caused by driver error. Enter a turn too hot, lose your nerve and lift off the throttle (or worse, hit the brakes) and chances are you’ll experience the joys of lift-throttle oversteer. Drive a rear-wheel-drive car and get on the power too early, and you’ll get to experience throttle-on oversteer. Both are easily corrected (and plenty entertaining) in the right environment, which is why we’re big fans of driving schools and high performance driving events (HPDEs). Enjoy the videos below, and hit up the NASA website to see when the next scheduled HPDE in your area is.
|How To Die In A Road Rage Shooting||
Drivers in the great state of Florida have never been known for their prowess behind the wheel. It seems to me, though, that the roads are only getting worse: a few years back I could go weeks without someone making a concerted effort to kill me, but these days I can pretty much count on a near death experience every time I get behind the wheel. Short of trading my GTI in on a surplus deuce-and-a-half personnel carrier, there isn’t much I can do to make the roads any safer.
It’s not just me, either. I’ve had people from all over the country tell me how bad the roads have gotten in their area, which eliminates the possibility of mass hysteria, or something in the drinking water here in the Sunshine State. Maybe it’s the price of gas, or the tanking economy, or a real-estate market that’s about to reach critical mass; whatever the cause, other motorists seem to be driving with their heads firmly implanted deep into their colons.
With that in mind, I bring you five good ways to die in a road-rage shooting. Just as there are more drivers on the road these days, there are more armed drivers behind the wheel, too. Sooner or later, distraction meets rage, and a six-o-clock-news story is born.
Treat the left lane as your own personal sanctuary.
When you merge onto the highway, dive into the left lane as quickly as you can, earning bonus points for every driver you cut off in the process. Once in the left lane, set your cruise control for one mile per hour below the speed limit, or better yet, match the speed of the vehicle in the center lane precisely. If you don’t slow down all those those crazy speeders, who will?
Don’t let driving keep you from texting or talking on the cell.
All those studies that show driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone to be as dangerous as driving while impaired don’t apply to you, since you’ve got super 3lite ninja skills. Try to ignore that your speed is dropping while you chat with your BFF over nothing at all. Don’t worry about the cars passing on the right (or maybe even on the shoulder), flipping you off and honking. If other drivers have anger management issues, that’s their problem, not yours.
Never use your directional signal.
If you actually signal your upcoming intentions, other drivers will know what you’re going to do, and that’s an invasion of your privacy. So what if the other driver has been sitting at the stop sign for five minutes, waiting for a break in traffic – that’s his problem, not yours. Besides, it’s damn hard to use your turn signal indicator when you’ve got a cigarette in one hand, a cell phone in the other and you’re trying to slam a 32 ounce Big Gulp.
Try to drive in someone’s blind spot as often as you can.
Let’s face it: new cars are expensive, and the easiest way to get one is to have someone else wreck your car for you. An excellent way of doing this is to pull slightly alongside another car on the highway, then camp out in the driver’s blind spot. You’ll have to pay attention, since many drivers will either speed up or slow down to get away from you. If you aren’t careful, the driver may even get away, forcing you to find another driver to stalk.
Courtesy is for pussies.
See that guy up ahead, wanting to merge into your lane? Slam the door on him, otherwise he’ll be in front of you (and any racer can tell you that second place is first loser). When exiting a highway, try to wait until the last possible minute before crossing five lanes of traffic. Remember, there’s bonus points if you put someone off in a ditch. Also, when traffic is merging down to a single lane, pass as many cars as you can before diving into the flow, millimeters off of someone’s bumper. Waiting in line is for chumps, and you’ve got important places to be.
So there you have it: five ways to maximize your chances of getting gunned down by a driver with anger management issues and a newly purchased handgun. Of course if you were to do the opposite of what I suggest, chances are you won’t be making the six o’clock news any time soon. The choice is yours.
|Coming Soon: Intelligent Roads||
Just four years ago, a ton of asphalt in liquid form was selling for $175; thanks to the increasing cost of oil, the same amount of asphalt sells for over $1,000 today. It won’t be long before paving with traditional materials becomes cost-prohibitive, which raises the obvious question of “what comes next?”
One enterprising Idaho company, Solar Roadways, thinks they have the answer. The company has developed a solar-panel-embedded roadway that generates electricity, heats itself to melt snow, warns drivers of changing road conditions and, eventually, pays for itself with the electricity created. It carries fiber optic cabling and power lines, so communications systems and the power grid would be much more weather-resistant than they are today. The Solar Roadway panels can even be equipped with an inductive charging system, which means that electric cars of tomorrow could have an unlimited range, charging as they drive.
The panels are glass-topped, but the glass isn’t the kind most people are accustomed to. The surface has the same amount of traction as asphalt, and it’s designed to withstand the weight of a fully-loaded tractor trailer, under heavy braking. Since each panel is hermetically sealed, the roadways would be impervious to frost heaves, potholes and other weather-related damage. Should a panel get broken, replacing it would be similar to replacing a tile on your kitchen floor.
Solar Roadways will soon have a chance to prove their concept, as the company recently received a $750,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to build a solar-powered parking lot. We wish Scott and Julie Brusaw and the rest of the Solar Roadways team the best of luck with their project. It isn’t often that game-changing technology comes along, but this could well be it.
|Reminder: June Is ‘Lane Courtesy Month’||
If you’re a regular reader of Automotive Addicts, I’ll go out on a limb and say, “you’re not the problem.” You already know that the left lane of a multi-lane highway is for passing and not traffic flow, and you know enough to keep an eye on your rearview mirror for oncoming traffic. Sadly, you’re the exception and not the general rule when it comes to drivers in the U.S., which is why the National Motorists Association has proclaimed June to be “Lane Courtesy Month”.
“Lane Courtesy Month” has a much more pleasant ring about it than “Get the Hell Out of the Left Lane, You Mouth-Breathing-Troglodyte Month,” but the intent is really the same. The NMA hopes to make drivers aware that the left lane of multi-lane highways should be used for passing, and that slower left lane traffic should make way for faster left lane traffic, regardless of speed limits or current speed. This should be obvious, but it bears repeating: when all motorists adhere to the basic principle of keep right, pass left, traffic flows more freely and in a safer manner.
The NMW lists three other benefits for lane courtesy, including:
– Lower chance of accidents: Unobstructed drivers aren’t forced to accelerate, brake or make illegal and risky passes on slower traffic.
– Reduced travel time: Less traffic congestion translates into a faster time from Point A to Point B.
– Less aggravation behind the wheel: Unobstructed driving is less stressful than being stuck behind the cell-phone-addled left lane clot for the duration of your trip.
I’d like to add a fourth benefit, which is reduced likelihood of road rage, often caused by oblivious or inattentive driving. The NMA certainly has their work cut out for them, and I wish the organization the best of luck with getting the word out about “Lane Courtesy Month”. I suspect the drivers most guilty of clogging the left lane have never heard of the NMA, and I’m fairly certain they’re not Automotive Addicts readers, either.
Source: National Motorists Association
|Study: Male Drivers Stress More About Traffic||
Let me kick this off by saying, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” A British study tested volunteer drivers stuck in rush hour traffic, and found that stress levels in female drivers increased by 8.7 percent, while stress levels in male drivers increased by 60 percent under the same circumstances. The test used scientific methodology (measuring hormone levels in saliva), so it’s not like researchers counted single-digit salutes or curses per mile. Of particular interest is that most volunteers didn’t report feeling stressed, even though their bodies were clearly indicating otherwise. After 20 minutes in traffic, 66 percent of the female drivers and 50 percent of the male drivers claimed not to be stressed, yet exhibited a measurable increase in stress hormone levels.
The short term results of such stress can be aggressive or erratic driving, raised blood pressure and increased agitation. Longer term, stress is linked to health conditions such as heart disease, which makes rush-hour commuting dangerous in more ways than one. A global study by navigation company Tom Tom showed that 76 percent of those surveyed drove on a daily basis, and 86 percent felt that traffic had a negative impact on their lives.
Why the difference in response between men and women? Most likely, it’s due to how our brains are wired. Women are better able to accept things around them, while men are more inclined to want to change things around them; the inability to do so leads to increased agitation (and increased stress levels).
As someone who once drove a daily commute of 110 miles in the New York city area, I completely buy into the results of this study. Not a day went buy that I didn’t find myself stressed-out behind the wheel. Sometimes, my elevated blood pressure was caused by stopped traffic, while other times it was caused by inattentive drivers (usually blocking the left lane, cell phone glued to their ear). I invented thousands of derivatives of scatological and fornication-related curses, but found such therapy to be ineffective. What’s your take? Does traffic stress you out, and if so, how do you cope with it?
|Chevy Gives Tips To Cut Your Gas Bill||
Regardless of what you drive, all of us are feeling the pain of increased gas prices these days. It’s not even the start of the summer vacation price gouging yet, and prices are at or above $4.00 per gallon in a lot of states. Since most of us can’t afford to buy a new car just to save gas, Chevy and the Environmental Protection Agency have these tips to minimize your pain at the pump:
Tune Up: A properly tuned engine can boost fuel economy by about 4%, while a bad oxygen sensor can decrease fuel economy by up to 40%. Pay attention to things like a “Check Engine” light, and don’t forget to change your air cleaner regularly.
Pump Up: Check your tire pressure regularly, since under-inflated tires can reduce fuel economy by 3.3%.
Unpack: If you don’t need it, don’t carry it. When was the last time you used those jumper cables, anyway? An extra 100 pounds of cargo cuts fuel economy by 2 percent, and that empty cargo pod on your roof rack is costing you 5%.
Slow Down: Here’s a tough one to comply with, but fuel economy decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 MPH. Based on the EPA’s math, every 5 MPH over 60 costs you the equivalent of $0.24 more per gallon. If you drive at 75 MPH like most everyone else, that’s costing you an additional $0.74 per gallon.
Avoid Idling: Jacksonville, FL, is the land of traffic lights. Time it wrong, and an 8 mile cross town trip can take 45 minutes, most of which are spent idling at traffic lights. Fifteen minutes of idling can cost you up to a quarter gallon of gas, so shut it down when you can.
Chill Out: If you dive like you’re hauling unstable dynamite (slow starts, gentle braking), you can save up to 33% on the highway and 5% around town.
Roll ‘Em Down Around Town: At speeds under 45 miles per hour, the EPA says opens windows are 10% more fuel efficient than air conditioning. That’s not the case at higher speeds, since those open windows create drag and cost you fuel economy.
Plan Route: This is over-stating the obvious, but planning routes to minimize both distance driven and time spent sitting in traffic will boost fuel economy.
You can expect another price jump at Easter and still another at Memorial Day, so the big question is whether or not fuel prices will drop in between. Let’s hope so.