Monday, October 31, 2011

Time to Bust out the Scraper

I think I’m getting soft. This morning, I was slightly annoyed that I actually had to scrape the ice off of my car, which is unusual for Long island in October. And then I remembered what it was like living up in Utica, where scraper Season could easily last from mid-September to early May.

This prompted me to post today about one of my favorite tools that we all have in our cars, which usually goes underappreciated: The ice scraper.  I keep one in my trunk too most of the year - but not just any ice scraper, it’s the Prestone “Polar Claw”. I picked up this bad boy one day during a "lake effect snow" in 1999, when I realized my standard issue plastic scraper was wholly inadequate for a Central NY winter.  When you live up there, you need something a bit more hardcore than the typical plastic junk. It’s way more bad-ass than your typical scraper, with three sets of blades, (2 serrated, one sharp) reinforced bristles, and is made of anodized aluminum with grips. It shames all other scrapers, and in the winter it rides shotgun with me in my passenger seat for easy access.  I don’t know if they still sell this thing, as it might be considered a weapon is some states.

[caption id="attachment_464" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="One Scraper to rule them all...."][/caption]

Monday, October 17, 2011

'Tis the Season for TPMS

I am seeing a lot of web searches coming in for "dashboard Exclamation point", so I decided to re-post this classic article that i wrote a few years ago on 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 holiday weekend. It looks a little something like this...

[caption id="attachment_17" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="courtesy"][/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 be when you restart your car, or could take a week).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How to tell if someone really has high beams on

It happens all the time: Someone is driving towards you in the opposite lane, or perhaps its on the other side of an intersection. Their headlights are so glaringly bright that it's blinding you, and you think they must have their high beams on. You want to flash them back or throw up a finger, but you aren't totally positive their high beams are on.  How can you really tell?

Here's 2 ways to tell: 
First way: Most modern cars have two low beams and high beams both located in the headlight housing on each side of the car. Low beams are always on the outside edge of the light housing, and high beams are always on the inside edge, creating a narrower, more concentrated and higher beam.
If it's bright, You shouldn't look at the headlight at night, but if you do, you will immediately notice the difference in placement on every car.  The high beams are closer to the inner edge of the headlight housings, (closer to the cars grill) and the low beams are always on the outside.

The other way to tell: Fog lights. Most cars with fog lights automatically disable them when the high beams are on. Unless you take the time to rewire it specifically, if a car has manufacturers fog lights on, the high beams / brights on likely not on.

"high beams" on Google image search bought back
 some rather unexpected results, so there is no photo.
What to do if someone has their high beams on and is driving toward you? A quick flick of your own high-beams should let the person know they are blinding everyone, but don't prolong using them.

 I have also always found that looking at the line on the shoulder is an effective way to avoid being blinded.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Black Air - Vimeo feature respects the GNX

Today's post has little to do with commuting and more about car love. Saw this on Autoblog this morning and had to share it. Few cars in history have the raw appeal of the Buick Grand National. It was the defining muscle car of the 80's and seeing one tugs at the heartsrings of every gearhead. Now there is a documentary on Vimeo chronicling this piece of automotive history. Worth a look.