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Entries in Driving (9)


Managing Winter Driving

A couple of days ago, at the first appreciable snowfall in the GTA, here we are thinking about driving in winter again. 

Lets qualify this, in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) a snowfall of 10 cm turns into a major news event, while the snow becomes apocalyptical...or close. In other parts of Canada, snow, cold, being ready for winter is perfectly normal. Yes...10 cm is not enough snow to even talk about it.

It usually starts the day before, with the habitual warnings of incoming snow, colder weather, wind chill, and it gains momentum as the snow gets closer. 

In the meantime the more motorists are advised and warned of incoming snow, the more AWD vehicles are sold every year, the more disconnected its getting. Its winter, its cold, its snow, its Canada, its normal. 

Earlier this year we shared our thoughts on Winter Tires, and Snow and Technology, so why are we again writing about snow?

Here is the deal:

Most folks seem to forget that its not the vehicle that has an understanding of the medium that its operating in, its the driver that increasingly must manage the capabilities of the vehicle. We reiterate, the driver must manage.

Vehicles are bristling with technology, they can literally control their speed, stop by themselves, however vehicles have no conception or understanding of the prevailing conditions, and what they are driving on. The challenge is that even with all the warnings, most folks remain oblivious to driving conditions, and managing their driving accordingly.

It gets even more interesting when municipalities wait for a specific snowfall prior to clearing the streets. Think about this, if more AWD vehicles are sold, or what looks like all wheel drive vehicles, perhaps it encourages municipalities to clear snow later.

It seems that most folks lose sight that an element of friction is required between the vehicle and the surface its operating on the enable all the technology to function correctly.

Perhaps many folks remain oblivious to understanding, to subsequently be in a position manage the vehicle and their driving in winter. The laws of physics have not changed, a vehicle requires a coefficient of friction between the tires and the surface to be able to steer, stop, and accelerate. 

The driver manages the interface between the vehicle and the prevailing conditions, and surface, not the vehicle, not the technology, the driver manages.





Vroom Room

Good Morning!

from The Atlantic the famous comments from JFKIts Friday, its the Vroom Room, come in make yourself comfortable as usual we have cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation.

Yes...its also Black Friday and perhaps like us, you are growing tired of the entire Black Friday story line.

One thing is certain we are rapidly progressing towards Christmas.

From when folks would drill holes to lighten components and vehicles, or use smaller gauge tubes like the Birdcage Maserati, or the slow evolution from cast iron/steel to aluminum. At some point carbon fiber became the "unobtanium" to save weight.

Its refreshing to see BMW make the commitment to make carbon fiber an obtainable component.

Fascinating when it snows to notice all the CUV's that are FWD (front wheel drive), must be that the station wagon is alive and well morphed into a FWD CUV (goota love the acronyms).

The other day we bumped into a casual conversation with folks doing business in one segment of the auto industry, and after the usual connecting a few dots here and there. We asked what we thought was a simple question about the product these folks sold. Interesting enough never got an answer, so much for product knowledge. 

In the same conversation "We own our used inventory" and "We floor plan new inventory for 6 months, then we pay it off". What a great way to manage inventory...think about this. Reminds you of the "car business" from close to a couple of generations back.

Just in case you missed "I'd Rather Go Blind" by Beth Hart with Joe Bonamassa, also catch the original by Etta James.

Have you seen the "pundits" rear their heads on how old is old enough to drive a vehicle. The thought vector is that at some point folks are too old and too stupid to stop driving, and that "somebody" should do something about it...since its dangerous.

One one side there are self driving vehicles that can stop by themselves, steer by themselves, and so on, and on the other side there are folks that are too old to drive self driving vehicles. Makes for a fascinating discussion.

Impressive photo gallery and results from the Art of the Automobile auction.




Vroom Room

Good Morning!

Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, the start of a new quarter, come in make yourself comfortable, enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti; join the conversation.

We hope that you take moments to be thankful and appreciative for what you have, and towards the folks around you, especially that Thanksgiving is just around the corner.

This week we started the month with a touch of racing nostalgia, and quickly jumped to stuff that remains on the wish list for vehicles. Perhaps at some juncture in time, the center screen display and connected cars will become a reality.

Think about this one, a few generations back a car and driving were essential to do what a smart device does today, yes folks are driving less...obvious they are enabled through smart devices. Lets be up front anyone that spends time in a major metro area driving, commuting, dealing with congestion, driving is not a pleasant experience. 

Think of all the gas that is saved with less driving...

A quick look at Canadian Sales, an immensely strong September, capping a HUGE 3rd quarter, almost incredible results, more in a few days. Encouraging to see all manufacturers in one fashion or another "throttle up".

You have been hearing a bunch of "buzz" around Blackberry, we have found this to be the best overview and inside story, Inside the Fall of Blackberry. What comes to mind is that Andy Grove of Intel was paranoid, and wrote a book "Only the Paranoid Survive". The folks at Blackberry created a false sense of security for themselves.

Our usual old race cars, Racing in the Rain at the Goodwood Revival.




"From One Second to the Next"

A poignant movie / video...take the time its well spent...



Winter Tires

Evolution of Winter TiresHave you noticed all the "talk" on winter tires, and do you need or not need winter tires, and so on.

If you have been around for a few years perhaps you remember driving in winter on bias/belted tires, and snow tires just in the rear (we are talking a few decades ago). The winter tire landscape has come a long way. 

Back in the day, belted tires and black ice/ice were an interesting combination in winter, and especially at night that would activate several stages of adrenalin in a few nano seconds. Although the advent of radial tires dramatically improved traction in winter/snow without resorting to winter tires. Black ice at night...until the arrival of ABS remained an adrenalin event.

All season tires will probably provide reasonable traction in winter with a rear wheel drive car. If its a vehicle with 70 or 60 series tires it will work even better. Although front wheel drive vehicles provide better traction to start, the rear of the vehicle can become unpredictable on poor traction conditions.

Here is the deal:

Being an enthusiast you are probably using at least 18 inch wheels in the summer with high performance summer tires. You know that these tires are "useless" in snow...since on a few occasions you have had that helpless feeling of almost no grip, and if the car has a positraction, its no grip and moving sideways to make it more interesting. 

Having high performance summer tires, and rear wheel drive, you need winter tires just to move. 

For winter tires you would come down one size and run 17 inch and a narrower tire, since floating on snow at speed still provides an adrenalin rush until the vehicle "lands" and hopefully nothing happened durng the "float". The "float" usually occurs when there is slush/snow and your speed is slightly higher, the tires will hydroplane on top of the slush/snow. 

If your vehicle is insured at $1,000. deductible for collision (to save money and you are a big boy/girl), and a set of winters will safeguard you from some minor incident, its worth the price of the tires. 

If you have an all wheel drive vehicle, keep in mind that you still need to stop, accelerating is easy, stopping is the challenge. 

If there are several vehicles in the household you need storage space to keep all these wheels and tires. 

In 2013 most vehicles have ABS, electronic stability, and traction control. hopefully you know how each of these features works, and reacts on your vehicle, with winter tires these features do a better job than with all season tires. If you have no idea how these features work on your vehicle, register for a winter driving course, or find a snowed in parking lot and discover the characteristics of ABS, try to do donuts, discover how the electronic stability works on your vehicle (before you get in more yogurt than you wished), and how traction control works on your vehicle.

The driver is the "traction manager" of the vehicle, more so in winter conditions. Understanding how your vehicle, and the systems in your vehicle function in adverse conditions is an absolute necessity. 

You also know that the first half of high performance summer tires is the good half, the second half not as good, and the same applies to winter tires the first half provides better grip than the second half. 

Yes...we have winter tires on all our vehicles.