Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Black Friday!!

Hope you have a great shopping day everyone, I know I will :)

Please be mindful of the poor greeters who are the first line of defence against the sometimes very literal flood of customers flowing into your nearest Wal-Mart. If I have to hear that people are so greedy that they don't care who gets trampled again, I'll lose a little more faith in humanity.

This has been a public service announcement :P

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Practical Applications of "Impractical" Driving Skills

Good morning, readers!

Today I thought I'd take a lighter, more "fun fact" approach to the post as opposed to the usual ranting lol. The main things I want to talk about today are the benefits of learning how to operate a standard transmission and applying "Racing Line Theory " to everyday driving. That video is an awkward English boy giving the specifics, but generally the theory is about taking the shortest possible distance to any destination (the closest route possible to a straight line). I'll get back to that later, though, first is the standard transmission. A lot of people think it's a lot of work and there are only detriments to having one (not being able to eat a sandwich, apply makeup, fiddle with things, etc.) but there are many added benefits once you simplify your drive to just focusing on the road and taking calls on your headset. The most significant benefits are the better fuel economy and the lower cost of maintenance. The lower fuel consumption is fairly simple as you can choose the gear and as such keep the RPMs as low as you want them and there is no slippage between gears like in an automatic transmission which burns added fuel. The manual transmission is also mechanically simpler causing it to weigh less, cost less (both to purchase and maintain) and be easier to repair than the automatic transmission. It's also far more engaging to drive, forcing you to focus more and most likely deterring accidents.

Racing Line, as stated above, is making the straightest line from point A to B. Obviously because you're travelling less distance, you burn less fuel but also driving in smooth arcing lines puts less strain on the engine to work against the other forces acting on your car. Your engine doesn't work as hard and you get around corners faster; this is also a lot more fun ;)

So if you're searching for a new car, try going manual! You'll be glad you did.

And next time you're out driving, try basic racing lines, especially on lightly used roads. You'll find that it brings a bit more excitement to your daily grind.

Until next time car fans,

Mat in the Hat

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Going through the Motions

Hi again,

I thought I'd go on a bit of a rant today about something that's been bothering me for a while now: complacency behind the wheel. The other day, I was trying to merge onto the 400 just north of Toronto and nearly ran into the back of the car in front of me because they were trying to join the flow of traffic (which was travelling the speed limit of 100 kph or higher) while going 80 kph. This made it impossible for them, me, and the other 5 cars behind me to merge safely without cutting normal people off and looking like assholes. Just because you're going at a speed your comfortable with like a kindergarten-level driving school student, doesn't mean you aren't making everyone around you feel much less comfortable. You're the one causing traffic jams and accidents, you tool (Relevant Meme). So the next time you believe that slower means safer, remember that the Autobahn is the safest highway in the world because it doesn't have speed limits and the drivers all know that they're in control of a potentially very destructive force of engineering. As such they are able to react to problems with authority and clarity of vision which is something I think North American drivers either lost or never had. If someone passes you on the highway when you're slowing down, remember that they are a safer driver than you because they are more aware of what's going on around them and didn't hesitate to make a move. Same thing with accidents causing traffic jams because people stop to look. 

I hope at least a handful of people related to this and got a little frustrated just thinking about it :) 

Have a great day!

Friday, April 13, 2012

New cars

I really don't know why anyone would buy a car that is brand new from a dealership. It seems like any and every other possible choice when shopping for an automobile is superior. Think about it. If your new car loses 33% of it's value as soon as its driven off the lot, you might as well get the one-year-older previously owned model for a drastically reduced price. It's essentially the same car that had a newer year put in front of it and maybe they replaced the carpet with a more lightweight weave or slightly changed some of the interior dimensions, but all the high priority items have stayed the same. If you like throwing money away to prove to random strangers that you appear to be successful, then new cars are definitely the right choice. If it's financed, two or three years from now you'll be paying a ridiculous monthly fee probably equal to that of the current year model at that time. Especially for economy cars, if you're going to buy a Civic, no one will really care that it's the newest model. It's a Civic. The new body design doesn't hide the fact that it's always been the same concept underneath. Just buy used. You save on initial price, insurance, and headaches involved with new electrical implementations.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

American vs. Eurasian

Hello everyone,

Like many I used to be quite biased against the American-made sports cars. I used to think they didn't have enough engineering expertise to innovate in the area of handling. But now it seems that an increasing number of American cars are being tested around the undisputed test track champion of the world, the Nurburgring Nordschleife, and posting some pretty spectacular times, the '09 Dodge Viper ACR taking the 6th overall production car time. Even Cadillac, long branded as being luxurious and dependable, are starting to breach into the sports sedan/coupe market with the CTS-V and choosing to compete directly with the industry standards of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes in this class. What I'm getting at is that whether you believe it or not, the American automotive industry is once again booming. There may still be a stigma attached to them because of the government bailout but a less publicized story is that they payed it back in full only a short time (5 years ahead of schedule) after it was granted to them. As it stands they hold their own against all of their direct competitors in terms of build quality and performance in their respective classes. I still wouldn't go as far as to say that I'm converted but they've definitely earned their stars and stripes in my book as of late.

Everyone have a good one,
Mat in the Hat