Monday, April 26, 2010

New Brakes!

So its an exciting day for me, because my car actually stops now. Stop and go traffic is absolute murder on any brake system, and my rotors were so warped it felt like I was operating a 30mm machine gun every time I hit the pedal above 35 MPH, with a Ratt-ta-tat-tat shimmy thats so wicked it threatens to shear my axles.

I didn't quite feel like spending $900 or more to get a complete brake overhaul, so instead went online and bought a full new set of rotors and ceramic pads. I went through Ebay and picked up a set of RotorPros. I opted to get blacked out, zinc coated drilled rotors. They sent me slotted and drilled, but whatever. They look damn good, especially after blacking out the calipers.  I spent about $250 on the complete set, and called my buddy Ryan up for some install help. We completed all 4 in about 3 hours.
My new Rotors!



But here is why I went drilled. Stop and Go traffic heats up Rotors to such excessive heats, warping occurs very easily, and thats what happened to my stock Nissan rotors. Drilled rotors dissipate heat much more effectively, prolonging rotor life and resisting brake fade. they also provide enhanced stopping power, as they bite the pad more effectively than blanks.

But whats the cons to rotors? Drilled rotors are more prone to cracking, especially if they are cheap. Slotted rotors increase stopping power by wiping the pad clean on every pass, but they also eat brake pads. Additionally,  another drawback I'm finding after three days is that the brake dust is excessive. My stock rims are still on, so it is a very subtle addition to the car that no one will notice, which is good for me.

Broken down - 94 Ford Taurus, 95 4-Runner

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Empire Gold has Arrived

Then other day I saw a plate (AKA “tag” to the southerners out there) I didn’t recognize. It was yellow and blue, and not that attractive. It was a NY plate, and I had never seen one, so I assumed it was an official vehicle or a custom job.

And then I start seeing a few more. Now I have seen like 5 or 6 of them. So a search this morning reveals that NY is indeed getting new license plates, and they look something like this:

New Empire Gold Plate Current Empire Blue and White Plate

New plate and old plate, image courtesy NYDMV

The new plate is called the “Empire Gold” and it reminds me of those mid-80’s plates for NYS before the lady liberty white plate came into commission. But there is an interesting story behind this plate.

Initially, NYS was going to make it mandatory for all drivers to get a new set of plates at a cost of $25, which is $10 more than the old price once drivers’ registration expired. It was also another $20 to keep your old plate numbers.  But, in a rarely seen bout of common sense by bureaucracy, this plan has thus been cancelled, and now the DMV is issuing these tags as of April 1st for new registrations, or if people request them when renewing registrations. The tags will only be available in DMV offices at first.

After May 17th, 2010 you can order the plates when you do DMV transactions online such as renewing registration, etc.

View the press release here:

Useful FAQ’s here:

How do I feel about this? I think it will look good with my black and yellow scheme, so I am optimistic.  But NY, when will you get with the program and abandon the front plate?

Broken Down: 96 Civic, 99 Explorer, 96 Chevy Astro, 93 Camry, early gen Windstar,

Monday, April 5, 2010

Yellow fogs and my sad PIAA story (updated)

About this time last year, I did something stupid. I spent a lot of money on light bulbs. But not just any bulbs, these were super bright, 110 volt Plasma Ion Crystal Yellow Ion PIAA H11 fogs. You know these bulbs when you see them on the road - they are very bright, very yellow, and don't look like anything else out there. They draw attention, but in classy way, yet retain their functionality. I loved the way they looked, and the only other cars with them were F1 and ALMS race cars. I felt unique. I felt cool. They looked really good with a black car and HID's, and they made me very visible to other cars on the road, which made me feel safer.

PIAA 13511 H11 12-Volt Plasma Ion Crystal Yellow 55=100-Watt Bulb - Twin Pack

In the last year, I have also started to get pretty annoyed with the amount of ricers seen rocking the yellow fog set up on their Civics and Corollas. It is like the yellow lights are becoming something of a new trend. I guess since Lexus started putting them as OEM's, they are migrating to the masses. While it’s a classy addition, it pains me to see it on something with a primed body kit and huge wing.

But all of that came crashing down this morning, as I looked at my car and saw that my driver side had burned out. My heart skipped a beat. Will I have to replace one of the bulbs with an off brand and have two different intensities? What’s more white trash, rocking two different bulb brands, or having one side burned out? I searched my mind for answers:  Now I know I didn't mishandle them, because I wore latex gloves when I installed. They aren't installed wrong, because they are in the OEM housings. What could have gone wrong?

Will PIAA honor their warranty? Can I have it submitted before the year deadline is up? Tune in next week for the exciting conclusion.

UPDATE: Wow. In a refreshing bout of effortless customer service, I called PIAA to ask about how to get the warranty process underway, expecting mounds of paperwork and long wait time. The friendly guy on the line just said fax the receipt and they'll send a replacement. I am floored to see customer service of this high caliber in this day and age.   Guess I'll continue to buy PIAA's and recommend them to everyone.