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Tag Archives: automotive

Black Knight Of The Highway

I had an incident a couple of years ago where I was involved in a collision on the highway.  I was going full highway speed and got rear-ended by someone going much faster.  This morning, I had another collision, with slightly different circumstances.

I’m doing my usual morning commute to work and just about ready to turn off at my exit.  Something catches my eye and I look in the rear view mirror and a semi truck is right on my ass.  The truck had moved into my lane to pass another semi that was to my left.  I look in the mirror and say, “You motherfucker.  Why don’t you get a little closer.”  So he did.

Now, I’m saying, “Whatever, fucker.  You can wait until I get off in a few seconds.”  But he didn’t seem to care.  He got even closer.  Even more pissed off, I put on my turn signal to let him know I’d be out of the way soon.  What I did not consider is that I am a tiny, tiny car.  He is a massive semi truck.  Not that it’s any absolution, but he probably never even saw me.  His huge hood probably blocked me from his view entirely.  And so, it’s probably no surprise what happened next.

I got bumped.  My car swerved to the right, into the exit lane and he pulled up alongside me.  I’m still not sure if he even noticed me at this point.  I sped up alongside him and blared my tiny, tiny horn at him, but I doubt he even heard it.  The median guardrail was coming up quickly, so I had to abort and stay in the exit lane, leaving him to go on his (probably) oblivious way.

At the stop light at the end of the exit lane, I immediately jumped out and checked the damage to my car.  It’s just some very minor scuffing on the bumper that can probably be polished out.  I went the rest of the way to work and it was at that time, I realized I left my phone at the house.  This will be a great day.

But you know what?  I have a dash cam.  Granted, it doesn’t have a rear-facing camera, but I still have evidence I was hit.  Just as an aside, a rear dash cam would be outrageous.  Everything scary and crazy always happens behind me.  So, in the parking lot at work, I saved the segment of the incident and later, I reviewed the video.  The quality is pretty good.  I am able to make out the trucking company name and their DOT license.  Hopefully that’s enough of a lead to make this guy’s life miserable.

In the time I’ve had to think about this, my thoughts on the event have changed.  My initial thought was that I got bumped because I was going too slow for this truck driver and he was impatient to pass this other truck.  As I’ve thought more about it, it’s probably just that I was invisible to him.  Again, that doesn’t make him any less at fault here.  But, it does make me extremely lucky that when the truck moved into my lane, I was in the position I was.  If I was in his blind spot when he changed lanes and he was that close to my rear when he came in, it’s not unfathomable that I could have been a foot or two farther back and he would have clipped my rear bumper, sending me into a spin.  Things could have been far worse.


Let me be clear.  I don’t hate you as people, I hate you as drivers and the people you become when you start driving.  Seriously, you do not think of what the consequences could be.  Every time you change a lane, that is an opportunity to sideswipe someone.  Each time you are checking the lane you want to get into, you are not checking the lane you are in and the cars in front of you.  Every time you speed up into a passing lane (especially to the right), you have the chance of finding traffic stopped in front of you in that new lane.  If you’re a large truck, you need to look beside you and not just behind you when changing lanes.


And you, Mr. Red Truck, working for Trimac Transportation Inc., you’re going to hear from me very shortly.


Cosmetic Surgery

What seems like forever ago, BMW added halos to their car’s headlights and the world went apeshit.  They had a poignant ad campaign focused on the headlights with a deep message like, “The eyes are the window to the soul.”  Oooooo.

I recently changed out the headlight lenses on my car because they were completely fogged over; they were almost useless.  And let me stop you here, the fogging was on the inside of the lenses, so buying one of those polishing kits would not have fixed it.

The lenses were not cheap – at all.  A little over $800, if you’re wondering.  They took a significant amount of time to even get shipped to me, then they sat in my garage for weeks until I had a free weekend to do the work.  And the work has now been done and I couldn’t be any more pleased.

I never noticed that I am constantly looking at other cars’ “eyes” to gauge how old they are.  After I changed out my headlight lenses, it was like the car was brand new again.  And I say that with a lot of sincerity – it is really that big of a difference.

Back in October, this is what the car looked like (photo courtesy of AK):


She was dressed up for Halloween as a vampire.  See how the lights are a dull, matte finish?  It gives the car a lifeless look, which may be fine for a vampire, but when someone is checking out your car and they see those dull headlights, it really shows the age.

Over the weekend I got to work., this is what my car looked like, mid-procedure.  WP_20180303_09_47_57_Pro

A couple of close-ups of the lenses before they came out.

WP_20180303_09_48_22_Pro WP_20180303_09_48_13_Pro

And even more surgery,

WP_20180303_10_10_36_Pro WP_20180303_10_10_45_Pro

Now, after the change, the difference is amazing.


And just look how happy she is!  Young and pretty again.  Sometime in the future, she deserves a fresh coat of paint, since the fiberglass surfaces of the roof and retractable hardtop deck have faded and lost all their shine.  But for now, the light is bright and clear, and the eyes reveal a well-travelled soul.

Their Missed Opportunity

It’s pretty ridiculous that I have to convince myself that I should be outraged about what happened and that I am justified in my outrage.  It’s a sad state of affairs that the level of service for just about everything has dropped to non-existent and when you experience non-service, it’s just a matter of, oh, that’s just how it is.

As I previously mentioned, someone broke the side mirror off my car, and I now have the replacements.  I want to get them painted, but who should I call?  In my former car incident, I had my bumper repaired and I was very pleased with the repainting job that was done.  So I emailed my contact at Progressive and asked who did the work so I could go back there.  They gave me the info, no problem, and were happy that I was pleased enough to ask for a referral.  That’s the high point of this event.

Yesterday, I headed to the body shop’s location after work.  Their business is in the heart of the downtown area.  Not the best area of town, and some of the worst traffic around.  Something like 30 minutes for 12 miles of travel (with no side mirror to help me change lanes).  So I’m a little frazzled by the time I get there.

I go into the office and a woman behind the desk is on the phone.  She tells the person on the phone to hold on a minute and asks me what I need.  I explain I want to discuss getting some mirrors painted.  She then says I need to speak to Carlos, who is not there right now (maybe at a dealership?).  She asks if I can come back tomorrow.  I reply, “Well, I’m in the area today…” hoping to get some help now.  She didn’t have any response, so I said (with a hint of sarcasm), “I’ll be back later” and left.  Fuck them.

There are so many ways this could have ended up differently, and a lot of them are just simple timing.  But, here’s the thing that I keep thinking:  There’s only one person in your entire business who can take care of my request and he’s not here, so effectively, your business is closed to new customers.  You have a shitty business.  Yeah, I’m sure they’re doing fine since they have partnerships with insurance companies and dealerships and so they don’t need me.  Well, I don’t need them either.

The other thing that gets me is, this receptionist has no interest in her employer’s business or in any potential customer’s needs.  First of all, the person she was talking to on the phone was either not important enough to give her full attention to or was more important than me.  Or, I’m just interrupting her phone call.  I could have waited a while to get her full attention, but she decided that wasn’t going to happen.  Next, she was completely useless for me.  She told me who I need to talk to and that was it.  She had nothing to say about the company, the service (ha!), what kind of information I would need, nothing.  She didn’t offer to let me talk to anyone else who might have more information for me.  And how about this?  She didn’t ask for my name or number so they could contact me.  No, I have to come back to them.  Her entire interaction with me said, “Talk to Carlos.  That’s not my job.”

The last time I got irked like that was many years ago when I was shopping for car tires (hmmm, an industry issue?).  I had stopped at a place and asked what tire models they had for my car.  The guy rattled off a few and I asked if he had some paper to write them down.  What I expected was for him to write the options down, but instead, he got a pen and some paper and pushed it towards me.  I was a little stunned by that.  As I’m recounting this, I’m thinking, why was I offended?  And it’s probably more than just the courtesy of him doing it for me, it’s the lack of efficiency involved.  This guy knows the tires and the prices and can jot them down quickly.  Now he’s made more work for both of us, because I have to ask him to repeat himself and maybe ask for spellings while I transcribe.  And he’ll probably be annoyed he has to slowly list these things.  I’ve never seen a case where laziness beat out “it’d be faster to do it myself.”

I Love You Too, World.

I thought I was over that whole ordeal.  You know, the one where a random person slammed into the back of my car while we’re all going full speed on the interstate and just took off.  I spent quite a while both angry at the world and a little fearful about when it was going to happen to me again.  Eventually, I relaxed and accepted that driving in traffic is nothing more than travelling through a large sewer pipe with pieces of shit flowing all around you.  I got back to feeling sorry that these pathetics were stressing themselves out over nothing.  I had moved on.

But, people are going to be people.  I came out of the mall the other day and saw someone had been messing with my car.  The passenger-side mirror was rotated inward partially.  However, that wasn’t the first thing that I noticed.  The first thing I noticed was the driver-side mirror was rotated right the fuck off the door and was dangling by its power cable.

My rage passed through me pretty quickly.  I briefly considered kicking in the door of the truck beside me, since their door could have broken off my mirror, but reconsidered for a few reasons.  First, it’s unlikely someone would bust off the mirror of the car beside them and continue to stick around.  Second, it didn’t look like there was damage on their door consistent with the scenario.  Finally, what good would it do?  Seeing that the other mirror was fucked around with made it more likely it was just a roving gang of teen punks.  You just can’t have anything nice anymore.  Respect for others’ property?  Ha!

What can you do in a case like that?  After I cut off the mirror and was carrying it to the trunk like a cephalophore (your word for the day), the guy who owned the truck next to me – who fortunately did not have his door kicked in by an angry child – showed up.  He had just gotten there about five minutes before, but didn’t notice anything amiss.  Probably just unobservant.  He suggested going back to the mall and asking for security cam footage.  Yeah, that’ll help.  “Oh we know those guys!  We have them in our address book.  We’ll send the cops to their house again now.”  Another victimless crime for them, another mild annoyance for the rich guy with the nice car.

On the positive side (if there is one), it’s not going to cost me as much as I was expecting.  A new set of mirrors is like $90.  Might as well get both to ensure they are perfectly matched.  Not sure how much it will be to paint them, but it shouldn’t be much.  The mirrors did need repainted anyway since they had lots of chips from road gravel and whatnot.  At least this is something I don’t have to get insurance involved with.

“Hi, Progressive.  Yeah, it’s me again.  Haha, yeah, yeah, I know.  Hey, guess what happened this time?  You won’t believe it”

I Guess It Was My Turn.

The last couple days have been pretty hard for me.  Not difficult, just hard.  I’ve been having a hard time getting along with the human race, specifically on the roadways.  My outlook changed last Saturday when I was driving home on the interstate, cruising along with the other cars and I glance in my rear view mirror and see someone right on my ass.  I mean, right there.

“Surely they realize how close they are and how unsafe that is.  They’ll slow down now.” is the thought I had in my mind when the impact occurred.  Everything in the car went flying. drinks spilled, shifter thrown into neutral, GF screaming.  Even though we were surrounded by cars, it’s surprising how quickly openings appear when cars collide.  I was able to quickly get over to the right hand median.  But my assailant didn’t.  Nor did he have any intention of doing anything of the sort.

Still in shock, I hadn’t realized yet that the car was in neutral, so trying to take chase of the other car was delayed by a few precious seconds while I wondered why the car wouldn’t move.  Did I take so much damage that my tires were pinned?  Nope.  I got back in drive and took off in pursuit.

Unfortunately, traffic worked hard against me, blocking me in lane after lane.  And I was disadvantaged because I’m clearly not as reckless as the one who hit me.  My hopes of catching the assaulter fell quickly.  One of the cars I caught up to and tried to get around started gesturing at me.  They kept pointing to the right hand side of the road even though we were in the left lane.  Eventually, we both pulled off to the left side.

I immediately went and looked at my damaged bumper.  Honestly, it wasn’t bad.  The other people got out of their car and explained that the car I wanted just got off on the exit we just passed together.  Well, that’s lost.  But, they said they got the plate number, so hooray!  We traded info in case I needed a witness (tip: highway patrol and insurance really want a witness).

So, to speed the story up a bit, the police were unable to find a matching car with that plate number.  I have to pay my insurance deductible because no one can find the hit-and-run bastard.  But, I’m grateful things didn’t turn out much worse.  Getting hit at 75mph, I could have swerved, flipped, gotten t-boned, hit a pole, and maybe even taken out other cars (and who would then be responsible for that?!).  Things aren’t that bad.

But they are.  I had been slowly getting more and more frustrated by the behavior of other drivers on the highway.  Insanely unsafe driving with no regard for others.  I’ve recently had to keep my composure when delayed by accidents.  It takes a lot for me to not get to the accident site and yell out the window, “You motherfuckers!  Do you see what you’ve done?!”

When I see a car coming up behind me now, my first thought is, “Are you going to hit me, too?  Why don’t you?”  Every time I see someone weave through traffic, I think, “Are you going to run away?  Do you even know what risk you’re taking?  Do you even fucking care?”  I know the answer.  They don’t.  I used to not let that worry me, because these self-centered assholes never affected me.  But now they have, and I want to wage war.

Right now, I’m debating on buying a dash cam.  I feel I need to document this insanity.  I’m also giving thought to creating a website exposing these ridiculous drivers.  I will probably need to get some council to determine if such a thing is legal, and I really hope it is.  To have a searchable database of license plates with user-submitted video proof of the owner’s dangerous driving habits, that may make a difference.

And if it doesn’t, or if such a thing can’t be done, well, I guess I just have to suck it up and pay the deductible.  The assholes win again. 

Renewed Vigor

I’ve had my car, a Mazda MX-5, for almost six years now.  In that time, I’ve raced it in autocrosses, driven it in rallies, and destroyed the engine in a flooded street.  Since that flooding event, I’ve given up on the hard-driving autocrosses, but it hasn’t slowed down much at all.  I still put about 30k miles a year on it.  The body and transmission have 174k miles.  The engine, a little less at 100k.

Lately, it seems like I’ve been having to work harder at keeping the system running well.  I was having a problem with cold starts on cooler mornings.  This was cleared up by cleaning the IAC valve – the Idle Air Control valve.  It’s a simple procedure involving unscrewing something and dousing it with cleaning fluid.  You should do it each time you change the air filter, but I seemed to have to do it more frequently than that.

Then I started having problems with the engine bogging down when I decelerate to a stop.  This was solved by cleaning the throttle body.  That’s a slightly more involved procedure involving unbolting a part and dousing it with cleaning fluid, then wiping off the carbon buildup.  I had to do it twice because I wasn’t thorough enough the first time.

Lately, things just didn’t feel quite right.  I knew I needed some critical safety maintenance, like brakes and tires, so I got both of those taken care of.  That made the ride much more smooth and quiet, but something was still off.  The engine seemed like it was struggling and the shifting was rough.  So I planned on doing some internal cleaning.

I stopped at AutoZone and picked up some Seafoam.  I’ve used Seafoam on my cars for a while and each time I do, I am surprised by the results.  There is a great argument as to whether it really does anything at all or whether it’s all in your head, but I am a believer.

I added a full can to my half-tank of gas yesterday when I got home.  When I started the car up and drove it this morning, it was immediately noticeable that something was better.  The engine was smoother, the acceleration was better, the shifts weren’t clunky anymore.

The weirdest thing was the accelerator.  My car is drive-by-wire, so there’s no cable literally pulling on the throttle body.  Yet somehow, the pedal was more responsive.  I didn’t have the previous sensation of one position having too little power and with a slight pressure change, suddenly having too much power.  That was causing me to surge in my driving, and I would spend a lot of time speeding up and slowing down.  Now, I could hold a position exactly where I wanted.

When I noticed that the car was running smoother, I reset my MPG sensor.  From almost six years of ownership, I know that my highway drive to work after resetting the computer would show about 34 MPG, and then it would drop as my city driving would factor in.  Getting to work today, the MPG read 36.8.  That has to account for something, right?

But I’m still not done.  I’ll also be adding Seafoam to the intake line this weekend.  Then I should be caught up on that level of maintenance.  Cheap and easy fixes are the best.