Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Feature: Broken Down

So I had an idea for a new feature: My dad always told me to take notice of all the cars broken down on the side of the highway when we go driving, and when it comes time for you to buy a car, don't buy what you saw broken down. Sounds simple, but this is good advice - We live in a day and age where you can't really believe reliability surveys from any car manufacturer, and sometimes a really-real-world test is what you see on the side of the road.

So what spurred this? well today, it was the 2007 Nissan Versa in the right lane of the lower level of the GWB at a dead stop, which I nearly hit at 60 MPH. Bad place to stop, even with your hazards flashing. I have heard not -so-good things about the Versa, especially given Nissan's legendary reliability of the bulletproof VQ motors. Guess I'll keep an eye out for more of them.

So from now on, I am going to report on what I see broken down, and perhaps chart it out using some crazy Excel skills at the end of the year for a completely unscientific test.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Put the damn phone down

Only twice today was I nearly sideswiped by someone texting while driving. The geniuses in Albany only recently made it illegal. It also isn't like there is a stereotype for this - The asses on the blackberries are just as bad as the high school girls who can barely drive as is. Seriously though, this should be license suspension. But heres a great video from the other side of the pond.

lots of miles, one bad pothole

What a long weekend. Logged in probably close to 500 miles of driving this weekend visiting family and friends. Traffic wasn't that bad. I have to work most of this week, and I expect it to be light for the most part in the mornings, and a bit heavier on the way home. Holiday traffic patters are sometimes hard to call because of the amount of inexperienced drivers are on the road yield a larger percentage of accidents, which equal delays. but overall, its a lot lighter.

I am also sorry to report that i didn't get either the X5 or the 98 Suby Legacy GT 5 speed I asked for this Christmas.

Also, be on the lookout for a huge pothole that has opened up on the ramp from the Grand Central to Clearview. it's one of those thats barely noticeable until your on top of it, and next thing you know, you need a new rim.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thanks for getting wedged under a bridge, metro NY appreciates it.

I want to thank the trucker that decided to wedge himself under the bridge @Jerome Ave last night that had me sitting on the CBX for 90 minutes at a dead stop. This incident also fouled traffic throughout the metro area.

But seriously, whats up with traffic this year? It used to be this week was very quiet, with no one on the road, and this year, its mayhem with an average commute time of two hours each way.

My assumption is that less people are flying, and less people are taking time off this year. with Christmas falling on a Friday, people are just taking long weekends rather than the whole week off, which is creating massive traffic.

This will be my last post for this season. i'm taking advantage of my companies awesome work from home policy tomorrow, and will be off for Christmas.

On another note, I hope I get the new BMW X5 Turbo Diesel for Christmas this year (i wont) - I took a press fleet vehicle on tour through the California back road twisties and through the woods and mountains off-roading. The engine is a torquey monster,propelling me up hills of mud and getting me some pretty weird looks from the locals who aren't accustomed to seeing a $60K SUV on their trails with all-season tires. its a combination of ride height to body roll ratio i didn't think possible, combined with the smooth tiptronic gearbox and amazing AWD, to make this an amazing ride.

Happy Holidays!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Another Hazard of Winter Driving

I'm back from sunny SoCal only to wake up to 2 feet of snow and blizzard conditions in Long Island. While us upstate natives call this a "dusting", its usually cause for panic amongst metro NY drivers. It is also a very good time to tell my fellow commuters CLEAN THE SNOW OFF YOUR DAMN ROOF!

I always see this for a few days after a heavy snow- People leave a mass of snow on top of their car, only to have it ice up and then fly off into unsuspecting motorists at highway speed. I have personally felt this, as a few years ago I was hit with an ice ball that shattered my windshield at about 60 MPH.  OK, I understand if you drive an 18 wheeler where the issues might be, but for those of you with SUV's, and even smaller passenger cars, it amounts to laziness. Laziness that could be deadly for your fellow motorists.

Did you know its also the law now? NJ just passed it as a state law that roofs must be cleaned off, (http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/10/nj_to_require_snow_ice_to_be_r.html) and in NY, if snow and ice fly off your car, you are responsible for damages incurred to other drivers vehicles.

I have also noticed a few hotspots to be extra cautions of falling snow and ice. On the inbound GWB, right as it enters the CBX, this is when trucks usually get up to highway speed, and an updraft will almost always result  in ice and snow flying off, even into the outbound lanes. Additional areas to watch out for are around rest areas where trucks sit for the night, and then pull on to the highway. alos, on ramps in general are where most issues happen, as cars get up to speed.

So what do you do if you see an iceberg headed for you? Try and anticipate its travel path. Typically, it will fly straight back, and if the winds catching it, you might be able to accelerate under it. Swerving should be kept to a minimum, as road conditions are usually sandy or icy and not fit for high speed evasive maneuvers. Usually, the better move is to the right, because if it does angle, it will usually go left. (I have no idea why this is, scientifically.)

But as always, the best evasive maneuver is awareness. take the time to scan ahead for cars and trucks that are potential threats, and get ahead or far behind them.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hidden Gem - Rt. 46

Massive inbound GWB delays? This is a secret that I’m not sure I should be sharing. When coming from NJ on the Western spur of 95N, take Rt. 46 eastbound when you know traffic is bad on the other approaches. The on Ramp might look like its backed up, but the reward is usually about 30 minutes off of your commute, and it drops you off with easy access to both levels of the GWB. Good to know on weekends, when the tolls are backed up with tourists, this route is usually free and clear.



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

'Tis the Season for TPMS

So now that it is starting to get cold here in the Northeast, a lot of motorists are now noticing a new symbol which may have appeared in their dash over the holday weekened. It looks a little something like this...

[caption id="attachment_17" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="courtesy Safecar.gov"][/caption]

That huge exclamation point makes you feel like your engine is about to explode if you don't go to a shop right now, but relax, this is just your cars Tire Pressure Monitoring System, (or TPMS) kicking in. When is gets colder, air contracts and reduces tire pressure slightly. Usually not enough to be dangerous, but certainly enough to trip the sensor.

How do you fix this problem? Go check your tires recommended PSI,(usually inside driver-side door) fill it up, and wait for the sensor to eventually turn itself off (This could take a week or two).