Category Archives: Cars

Driving Around in Cars

We live in a car culture.  The economy is based on the auto an oil and gas industries.  Most of us think of cars as a gateway to personal freedom.  We devote much of our resources, monetary and mental, to the automobile. Our culture is so strong in its emphasis on cars that we  have succumbed.

Carol’s car was getting old and the new safety equipment with all the sensors and warnings seems more important as we age.  She has a Mazda crossover SUV.  I got a Subaru Crosstrek, good for light backcountry driving.

My old ride was a fine 2009 Toyota pickup, great in the boonies but I am giving serious four wheeling up.  Too much risk at my age because I tend to go alone to tough places and turn off into tougher places.  My regular driving has changed as well.  Every few years I have a momentary lapse and some sheet metal gets bent.  This time I pulled out in front of an oncoming car.  $4000 damage to my truck, probably about the same to the other car.

Now there is technology in cars to help prevent some of those events.  I need as many external sensors as I can get, as my built in sensors have never been all that good and are getting a bit worse as I age.  That safety stuff is a bit expensive, but cheaper than an accident.

I am attempting to let go of as much artificial desire as possible and a new car doesn’t fit with the goal.  Well, whatever.  “We’re living in a plastic land.”  I could do most of my running around on my bicycle(s), and did for a while, but got away from riding.  I am not sure I will start again.  So I am going to support the Japanese auto industry and support our auto broker.

Instead of letting desire go I am feeding a craving.  Will I ever be able to let go before age and infirmity force me to?  Stay tuned.

Those Damn Cars

Tacoma. Mine has lots of brush scrapes on the sides.

Tacoma. Mine has lots of brush scrapes on the sides.

Living in the USA almost always means having cars.  It is possible to do without, but difficult except in New York, Boston, and San Francisco.  I was eighteen when I got my first car, a 1957 Ford.  I have lost count of how many since 1961.  I have had sedans, a panel truck, 2wd pickups, 4×4 pickups, SUV’s,  and sports cars.  I have also crashed a few.  It’s a combination of ADD and poor eye-hand coordination responsible for the crashes.  I was even in one crash that wasn’t my fault. 

My favorites?  Pickups and sports cars, sort of on opposite ends of the automotive spectrum.  I learned how to drive in a pickup, and their versatility appeals to me.  Lately, the pickups have been four wheel drive so I can risk my life on really bad mountain and desert roads.  Currently my four wheeler is a Toyota Tacoma.  It is just went in to get its rear springs replaced.  That is the third recall. 

Matrix

Matrix

Carol’s car is a Toyota Matrix, sort of a mini SUV.  It has had recalls as well, those Takata airbags that throw shrapnel.  I still like Toyotas.  They are reliable and are for the most part well thought out.  We have friends with Priuses, but I am still not sure. 

We have another resident in the garage.  It is a 2006 BMW 325i four door sedan.  Don’t be fooled, the thing is a sports car with four doors.  Power, handling, looks, and some snobbery.

That thing is fun.  I turn corners without slowing down.  It just turns, no squeal, no big deal.  The steering varies with speed.  At slow speeds, it hardly takes any turns to corner.  At higher speeds, you have to give the steering wheel more input. 

BMW 325i

BMW 325i

The BMW is fast.  I don’t have any comparison with, say, a Mustang, but it goes when you mash down.  To me, it has just enough power.  Passing those RV’s in the mountains is no problem at all.  Speeding up or slowing down to change lanes, zip.  I have never spun the tires to show off. 

It is helpless in the snow.  It has traction control, but no help.  The tires are wide, the car is low, and it just sits there and spins those rear wheels.  The BMW’s with an X in their model name have all wheel drive.  Carol’s daughter didn’t need AWD in Silicon Valley, where she bought the car. 

The thing is automated.  Everything is programmable, even the rear view mirrors.  There are buttons everywhere and a digital interface controlled by a knob you turn to scroll through options.  I think I can operate about ten percent of the stuff.  I keep telling myself to get out there with the owners manual and learn, but I haven’t done it in seven months. 

BMW’s cost too much, they are expensive to fix, not very roomy, and so much fun to drive.  We don’t need three cars.  We could probably be fine with one.  I don’t know what we are going to do.  we will probably sell the Matrix and the BMW and get Carol a cool AWD car.