Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Dreaded Exhaust Back Pressure

I remember the first time I saw a tuner's huge tailpipe. I'm pretty sure it was on a Civic and was at least large enough to fit a small cantaloupe inside of it. It was intriguing and almost laughable at the same time. I quickly learned from someone that the idea behind having a huge exhaust system on a car is to allow for the freer flow of the exhaust gases from the engine block with the aim of increasing power output. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Drive a Minivan and I Can Parallel Park

2013 Toyota Sienna. Photo courtesy Toyota

Yes, I drive a minivan. No, I never thought I would. Trust me, when I was younger I hated pretty much every minivan on the road. They would swerve suddenly, cut me off, not pay attention to the road, etc. I pretty much thought minivan drivers were horrible. Oh, and the guys driving minivans always wanted to race, which I found incredibly hilarious.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Twenty Annoying Driving Habits Everyone Should Stop

Some drivers need robots to drive them around
I have to admit there are a lot of things about the way people drive (or don't drive) that get under my skin. Maybe it's that I'm just more aware of cars and how people interact with them, or maybe other people just keep their pet peeves to themselves. Regardless, I'm going to vent here and list off twenty annoying driving habits that should be abolished starting now:

20. Hanging cigarettes out of the window. I'll admit I will never understand why people smoke. Smoking smells awful, it's horrible for your health in more ways than most people even realize and it costs a lot of money. I really don't care if other people are smoking, but I HATE it when other drivers hang their cigarette out of their barely cracked window. Get an ashtray and keep your stink in your vehicle! If you don't wan to smell it, do you really think the rest of us do?

19. Tailgating. I've mentioned this one before, but until people stop doing it I'm not going to stop mentioning it. I'm the guy where if someone tailgates me I will slow down to under the speed limit just out of principle and out of fear that if I have to suddenly hit my brakes I don't want to get whiplash. Tailgating other people is the equivalent to pushing in line. Grow up and move beyond grade school, people.

18. Turning the steering wheel by gripping it with your thumb facing toward you and your fingers facing the instrument cluster. I first noticed this before I started driving. My sisters would turn this way all the time, and guess what? They would also regularly lose control after exiting a turn's apex! I've noticed this habit is prominent among women, but it's a dangerous way to grip the steering wheel since you can easily lose your grip. Which leads me to seventeen...

17. Gripping the top or bottom of the steering wheel. I notice women are more likely to grip the top of a steering wheel with white-knuckled fear, although I've seen some men do the same thing. Men are much more likely to lazily grip the bottom of the steering wheel with one hand while the other is hanging out the window. Both can result in the vehicle spinning out of control or flipping. At least use ten and two, or better yet nine and three.

16. Weaving through traffic. Driving a "shaggin' wagon" I have dumbasses in their low-powered econo boxes cut in front of me all the time like we're in an F1 race and nobody told me. These people then proceed to do the same thing to other cars that could easily crush theirs. And guess what? They usually end up stuck at the same red lights as me.

15. Pulling up window-to-window with other cars. I purposely don't pull up window-to-window after I've had about a half a dozen cops tell me how dangerous it can be. I really hate it when other people try to do that to me, and it's even more annoying when I scoot up a few inches and they scoot up too while gawking into my car with a big, dumb grin on their face.

14. Trying to race people who have their kids in the car. I don't care if the other driver is in a Porsche 911 Turbo, if you can see little kids in the backseat DO NOT ENCOURAGE THE OTHER DRIVER TO RACE! Street racing is a bad idea anyway, but don't put little kids at risk because of your stupidity!

13. Flipping out because someone else honks at you. Sometimes we zone out at red lights, sometimes we don't see another car on the road -- we're all human. Car horns are designed to get other drivers' attention, not for venting frustrations. So when someone honks at you, just acknowledge the other car and any mistake you have just made, swallow your pride and move on -- period.

12. Brake checking other drivers. Tailgating is annoying, but brake checking other drivers is perhaps even more dangerous. Not only could the other driver crash into you but you could trigger a big pileup and people could be seriously hurt or killed.

11. Not letting others merge. This one is bad here and in other parts of the country and world. Not letting traffic merge leads to aggressive driving maneuvers (i.e. cutting other cars off) that causes traffic to back up. If we all allow drivers to merge everything will flow smoother and we'll all get to where we're going sooner.

10. Carloads of overly flirty girls/guys. I was young once and I get that when you get a group of teenagers or early twenty-somethings together it can get kinda crazy. But trying to distract other drivers by acting all flirty is kind of annoying. Trust me, you don't want to be the victim of road rage because a spouse/passenger doesn't like your advances on her hubby.

9. Not signaling. This is kind of a chicken or the egg debate. People cut off anyone who signals/people don't signal for fear of getting cut off. Maybe if we all didn't drive like a bunch of overly-competitive jerkwads, use our signals and let people in "our" lane we could all just get to where we're headed? Apparently that thought process is too much for some people.

8. Blaring music. There comes a point when a car's music volume obviously is no longer for enjoyment but instead is meant to just annoy other drivers. If you want to be a douche be prepared for reciprocation from other douches on the road.

7. Speeding down a lane that's ending. This in effect says you are more important than all of the people who transitioned over well in advance, especially if you end up driving on the shoulder for a while.

6. Doing anything but driving. Talking on the phone, webbing, texting, applying makeup, shaving, plucking eyebrows, watching movies: why is it so many people who are driving cars do everything but drive?! Robot cars cannot come soon enough, I tell you...

5. Getting preachy with your bumper. This is not really a driving habit, but it's still annoying. I really don't care what your political social views are when I'm stuck behind you in traffic. Preachy bumper stickers just tell me you're self righteous and self important.

4. Speeding through neighborhoods. I live on what should be a quiet street, except for the steady stream of commuters who use it for their shortcut during morning and evening rush hour. The increased traffic is annoying, but when people turn my 25 mph street into a 40 + mph zone it's downright dangerous. And these shortcutters often blow through stop signs because they're going way too fast for little residential roads. Speeding through neighborhoods is extremely rude, no matter the reason.

3. Revving your engine over and over. As I sit here writing this one of my neighbors is doing just this. It's a regular habit of his since he has a big throaty V8 I would love to shove down his throat. And no, he's not working on his car. Apparently people want to throw or rod or they want to be noticed for being annoying.

2. Not waiting for pedestrians in a crosswalk. I have almost been hit by people who don't think they need to stop for a parent and kids crossing in a crosswalk. Let me tell you one dork in particular I just about went over and dented his fender because he kept inching forward toward my kids after barely stopping in time. Doing that doesn't make you tough, it makes you a dick.

1. Driving super slow. Unless someone is tailgating you (see number nineteen) it's annoying and dangerous to be driving well under the speed limit. I know some nervous drivers think driving way slow is how they stay safe, but it gums up traffic and can cause an accident. If you're that nervous about driving get a bus pass or call a taxi.