Category Archives: Just for Fun

I can instantly make you a better driver

Imagine this: You’re cruising along on in three lanes of traffic. The speed limit is 70. You’re in the middle lane and closing the gap to the car in front of you. There’s slower traffic to your right and a clear lane to the left. You signal and start moving into the passing lane, but halfway there, you spot a cop in the median, clearly hunting speeders. What do you do?

‘Do you know how fast you were going?’

That rarely ends well. If you’re hearing it, you’re on the side of the road, mirrors reflecting blue and red — and perhaps a spotlight. Maybe you’ll talk your way out of it and maybe you won’t. But the question looms large, right up there with, “Do you know where your kids are?” It’s loaded. “Yes” means you know you were speeding. “No” is tempting; ignorance always feels better than admitting guilt, right?

But what’s frightening is just how many drivers truly have no clue. I don’t have stats and I don’t need them. We all see it play out every time we hit the road: drivers holding up traffic in the passing lane, slamming on the brakes for speed traps and cutting people off — all because they’re unapologetically unaware of their own pace of travel. Neither driving fast nor driving slow automatically makes somebody a bad driver, but not knowing where you land on that spectrum at any given time makes you little more than a rolling safety hazard. 

This critical variable informs everything else we do behind the wheel, and leaving it out of your mental calculations means that every action you’re performing is based on unreliable information. The data science shorthand is GIGO, for “garbage in, garbage out.” Observe traffic long enough and you’ll spot countless people driving like, well, garbage. 

Take out the trash

This danger is easily remedied: All you need to do is know how fast you’re going. That’s it, my one-step plan. The resources to do it are already right in front of you, and it will cost you nothing — not even time. But knowing this critical bit of information will improve every decision you make behind the wheel. 

Let’s revisit the scenario from above. You’re in the middle lane and gaining on traffic, the speed limit is 70, and you have the opportunity to pass. But this time, you know for a fact you’re already doing 74. Does knowing your speed alter your guilt in this scenario? No, but it allows you to make an informed decision rather than relying on guesswork— or worse, blindly panic-braking when you see the cop, which is an incredibly dangerous thing to do at speed. If I were to make a split-second judgment call in this scenario, I’d roll the dice on 74 in a 70 and complete the pass as if the cop wasn’t even there. 

Yes, that’s me openly acknowledging that I’d flagrantly violate the law in the presence of a police officer. Is that the smartest thing in the world? No, but consistent and predictable behavior is the topsoil from which good traffic flow naturally sprouts. By committing to my maneuver and maintaining speed, I’m one less obstacle for others, plus I’m contributing positively to the flow by not slowing down while completing a pass — something many drivers are guilty of even without an overt threat of intervention from law enforcement. Of course, another choice would be to simply ease back to the limit and not execute the pass in the first place.

Use your cruise

Let’s look at this another way: Every piece of critical information you know is one less that you have to acquire, calculate or outright guess. The advantages are convenient under the best of circumstances and potentially life-saving under the worst, and all you need to do is keep tabs on the one piece of information cars are universally required to provide. But even if you can’t be bothered, your car is likely built with advanced technology that will help.

Yes, by “advanced technology,” I mean cruise control — a feature found on pretty much anything nicer than a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe. How better to know how fast you’re going than by dictating that speed yourself? Cruise has been around in some form or another since the 1950s, and despite its ability to reduce mental and physical fatigue and smooth out traffic, it remains criminally underutilized.

I’ll be the first to admit that a bad cruise control (adaptive or otherwise) system can betray you. Wild speed variations on grades and other odd behavior can be maddening to the fastidious driver, but even a bad system can do some good with a little human intervention. If your car struggles going up hills, don’t pass on them. If it runs away on the descent, shift down a gear or two to bring compression braking into the mix. Learn the quirks so they become predictable, and compensating either becomes unnecessary or second-nature. 

Your journey is just beginning

I saved this bit for last. Think of it as a post-credits scene in a superhero film. Attention is a gateway driving skill. We are organic computers trying to tell a ton or more of machinery what to do. Like any other processor, the human mind has finite bandwidth. Remember what I said above: Every piece of critical information you know is one less that you have to acquire, calculate or outright guess. Every input you can safely ignore frees up bandwidth for the things you have no choice but to process in real time — whether that be a fellow driver losing control on the racetrack or a cop appearing in the median.

In time, awareness will seamlessly integrate with muscle memory. You’ll learn how your car feels taking a curve at any given speed, start to anticipate the weight shift and unconsciously adjust your line to smooth it out. You’ll find yourself naturally looking farther ahead because you know your situation without looking down. Maybe next time, you’ll see that trooper in the median much sooner because your eyes were up, seeking new information. Maybe you give a pleasant wave as you pass, and nobody in that cruiser can hear you say, “Spotted you two exits back, sucker.”

Because you knew how fast you were going. And nobody had to pull you over and ask. 

Related video:

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Study: Bad driving might be hereditary

If your significant other has ever accused you of being a bad driver, you might have a good excuse. A new UK-based study from Scrap Car Comparison found that lousy driving could be hereditary and that observing the poor driving habits exhibited by our parents is a good way to end up on the wrong side of the law ourselves.

The outlet surveyed 1,000 drivers, half of whom had committed traffic offenses. All drivers who were included in the survey said they were fully aware of their parents’ driving records. The study showed that 66 percent of drivers who’d run afoul of traffic laws in the past 10 years had parents who had also run into problems. Drivers with bad-driving parents had at least one point on their licenses, while people with parents who drove responsibly had clean licenses. Ultimately, almost half of the drivers with poor driving parents had received a ticket in the past 10 years, compared to just 14 percent of those with parents who drove responsibly. It stands to reason. Our parents model all kinds of behavior for us, as we do for our children.

Speeding and road rage were the two most common traits passed from parent to child, with 55 and 49 percent of respondents saying they’d learned the habits from their parents, respectively. Other drivers said they’d learned poor spatial awareness, careless parking, and aggressive/dangerous driving from their parents. On the flip side, 10 percent of drivers in the study said they’d learned to be too careful from their parents, such as driving well below the speed limit.

While it might sound like some drivers should resign to being pulled over every few years, more than half of the respondents said they thought they had become better drivers than their parents. Additionally, “my dad did it” is not a valid defense in traffic court, so it’s unlikely to work in your favor, despite this study. The drivers saying they’d learned to be better than their parents have it right, as there’s only one person in control of a car at a time.

2021 Overlanding Gift Guide: The gear you need to get exploring

Autoblog may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

If you’re interested in venturing off the beaten path, these off-road products will help make overlanding dreams become reality.

With the holidays just around the corner and adventure enthusiasts eager to build up their vehicles, these off-road products will set them up for off-roading success. From recovery boards and basic non-winch recovery kits, to off-road tires and off-grid navigation communication equipment, these products will set you up to explore remote surroundings with confidence.

Off-road tires

A good set of off-road tires is one of the most important things to have when heading out for off-pavement adventures with your vehicle. It’s the only thing connecting you and your rig solidly to the ground. Wrapping your wheels with either all-terrain or mud-terrain tires from a reputable company is paramount. Tires from companies like BFGoodrich, Yokohama, Nitto, Falken, and Cooper should be considered. From rugged tire tread patterns and beefy sidewall designs, to good warranties and longer wear ratings, off-road tires can help make your off-pavement adventures successful ones. Prices for off-road tires vary.

Recovery boards or traction devices

Arming yourself with recovery boards can be helpful if you find yourself stuck (or need to give others a hand). Not only can they be used for a wide array of vehicles, recovery boards (or traction devices) can provide recovery assistance if you don’t have a winch or a second vehicle available when trail mishaps occur. MAXTRAX or ARB TRED recovery boards are high-quality, durable and are very effective when used correctly. Recovery boards are stackable and can carry heavy loads (check each manufacturer for specific load ratings). Either toss them in the back of your adventure rig or mount them to your roof rack, and you’re ready for recovery action when the going gets stuck. MAXTRAX MKII recovery boards start at $299.99 for a set of two.

Roof racks: platform racks and roof baskets

If you’re looking to stash extra stuff, running an aluminum or steel roof rack will help save interior space. Offered in a plethora of sizes and shapes, platform racks and roof baskets are mounted via gutter mounts, roof crossbars, or side rails. Not only can you ratchet down camp gear or other necessities to your vehicle’s roof, but many manufacturers make side-mount brackets to house a variety of other equipment, like vehicle awnings, axes, shovels and more. Premium roof rack makers include Front Runner Outfitters, Rhino-Rack, BajaRack, ARB, Yakima and Thule. It’s important to understand what type of gear you’ll consistently be hauling as it’ll help dictate if a roof basket or platform rack will work best for you. Check each manufacturer to make sure they make an application for your ride before purchasing.

Basic non-winch recovery kits

In addition to recovery boards or traction devices, carrying a basic non-winch vehicle recovery kit can prove its weight in gold if an off-road recovery is needed. Each non-winch kit’s contents may vary, however, it’s important to carry at least two hard or soft shackles, a kinetic recovery strap (sometimes known as a snatch strap), and heavy-duty gloves. Most vehicle recovery kits offer a heavy-duty carrying case for easy usage, too. No matter what type of basic non-winch vehicle recovery kit you purchase, it’s important to buy from a reputable company like ARB, Warn Industries or Factor55. Check each kit to make sure it’s appropriate for your specific adventure vehicle. Prices for non-winch vehicle recovery kits vary.

GPS-enabled satellite communication devices

If you want to create a secure connection to the outside world while adventuring remotely, a handheld GPS or satellite communication device should be considered to keep close to loved ones. Companies like Garmin offer various models boasting numerous capabilities. Arming yourself with a satellite-connected backcountry tool that combines GPS capability with navigation and two-way satellite communications can potentially save someone’s life. Many of these products feature an SOS emergency button, strictly to be activated in case of a critical situation. Check with each manufacturer as monthly subscriptions may be required to enable these features. Garmin GPSMAP 66i handheld unit: $599.99.

Photo by Lance Hanson

Offline off-pavement maps

Traveling off the beaten path has become easier by using off-grid digital maps or apps. Companies like Gaia and onX offer a robust mapping system that can be accessed via phone, tablet or laptop. For instance, the onX Offroad app covers more than 550,000 miles of open trails plus 60,000-plus campgrounds and cabins. In addition, onX Offroad just released three-dimensional digital maps for its browser-based Web App and showcases a wildfire layer that features up-to-date information. The onX Offroad app is free for initial features, $29 per year for a premium membership, and $99 per year for the Elite package.

All the weird ways you can shift an automatic

Transmission shifters have come in all shapes, sizes and locations since the beginning of time. Even manual transmissions could be had with shifters on the steering column (“three on the tree”) in addition to the usual “stick shift” that grew out of the floor or center console, but it’s obviously the automatic that has enjoyed the widest array of shifting options. The PRND shift order used to be assured, with the most common variants being a big fat stalk mounted on the steering column, or some sort of stick sprouting from the center console. Sometimes that stick needed you to first press a button to move, sometimes it needed to make its way through gates.

Now, there was occasionally some experimentation over the years with pushbutton shifters, especially in the 1950s and ’60s, but for the most part, drivers in recent decades didn’t really need to think too much when going from car to car. And then the electronic shifter became commonplace. Free from the need to be physically connected to the transmission, they allow designers and engineers to create new, novel ways to select Park, Reverse and Drive. Usually, what they come up with are just examples of being different for the sake of being different. When properly utilized, however, there is an actual advantage to them: they take up less space (or none at all) on the center console, which allows for bigger cupholders, additional storage or infotainment controls. It’s pretty obvious which of the below shifters do a better job of this space efficiency than others, as well as which fall into that “different for different sake” category.

And holy cow are there a lot of electronic shifter designs these days. We’ve broken them down into general categories below, and we’ve almost certainly missed a couple. If all this seems overly complicated, maybe just stick to a manual?

The Ubiquitous Monostable Shifter

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e PHEV


We’re mostly going alphabetically here, but it’s fitting that BMW goes first as it was one of the first brands to introduce and popularize what has become the most common type of electronic transmission shifter. Roughly akin to a joystick, the term “monostable” indicates that no matter which direction you push or pull it, it returns to its original position. In most cases, you push forward through a detent to get to Reverse and back through a detent to get Drive. In the case of BMW, you then slide it laterally to find a separate “gate” devoted to up and down manual shifting. This functionality has remained the same over the years even if BMW has changed the knob design. It also set a precedent for other brands. 

2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo

This works exactly the same as BMW’s. It was upgraded to have a nicer piece of hardware for 2021 complete with a little Italian flag at its base. Ciao!

2019 Audi A62021 Audi SQ5 Sportback


The monostable found on many Audis (above left) works similar to BMW’s but the shift knob design is quite different. It usually doubles as a place to rest your arm while using a touchscreen. 

2022 Chevy Silverado High Country


Found in Cadillacs in particular, this monostable above left works basically the same as BMW’s. Earlier versions had an unusual dogleg design for Reverse that made you push up and to the left to engage. This was supposedly for safety, but was confusing. Above right you can see the new 2022 Silverado has a monostable that would seem to function the same but has a more Audi-like design.


The Jaguar F-Type has always had a cool monostable shifter that felt like the butt of a futuristic space gun in your hand. It gradually spread throughout the Jaguar-Land Rover lineup, frequently replacing the old rotary shifter. Unfortunately, the space gun is being replaced in all Jaguars but the F-Type with this nobby little sledge instead. Boo. 

Land Rover

Land Rover uses monostables, but has different knobs. The Defender’s unique, dash-mounted knob is shaped like a bent nail, while the Discovery and new Range Rover get the nobby little sledge (or “palm shifter”) shared with corporate sibling Jaguar.


The Mercedes-AMG GT coupe and sedan both feature a monostable shifter on the center console, versus the column-mounted shifter found on all other Mercedes (see below). Its small size puts in on the border between this category on the next, mini monostable category.

2020 Mini Cooper SE in Miami2020 Mini Cooper SE in Miami


The electric Mini Cooper SE has a monostable shifter that works the same as those in parent company BMW’s cars. The knob is different, though.

Nissan and Infiniti

The new Nissan shifter, found in the Rogue and show above left, is a monostable design. It’s a bit smaller than the norm, but not quite to the same level as the mini variants shown below. Sister company Infiniti also uses a monostable in its QX50 and QX55, shown above right, but it’s a heftier, higher-quality piece that also locates the Park button separate of the knob itself (which is annoying).

Volvo and Polestar

Electrified corporate cousins of Volvo and Polestar share a common monostable shifter unit, but the knobs differ. Range-topping Volvos get a knob furnished out of Orrefors crystal. Fancy. The Polestar shifter works the same, but instead of crystal, there’s a hole in it. Wacky.

The Miniature Monostable

2022 Audi RS E-Tron GT


Audi, like other Volkswagen Group brands, has introduced a sort of Monostable Mini that broadly functions in the same Forward/Reverse and Back/Drive orientation, but it uses a variety of weird, tiny, nub-like controls. We don’t really like them, mostly because they look unsubstantial and a bit lame. The Audi S3 is above left, the Audi e-Tron GT is above right.


Audi e-Tron

Yet another Audi take on the monostable. You still push forward for Reverse and pull back for Drive, but here, the shifter is effectively flopped on its side and operated with your thumb (Reverse) or index finger (Drive).


This is basically the same as what you’ll find elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group, but it just looks extra-dopey in Porsche. Even if a shifter is rarely used in an automatic Porsche, there’s something so unsubstantial and unrewarding about using this little tab. It’s located on the center console in the 911 (above left) and on the dash in the Taycan (above right). Other Porsches have more traditional automatic shifters.


Again, pretty much the same nub deal as what you’ll get in an Audi or Porsche, but in a Volkswagen. Also, again, in a performance vehicle like a GTI (left) and Golf R (right), it just seems a bit lame. 

The Rotary PRND

Chrysler Pacifica, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wagoneer, Most Ram Trucks

This simple rotary design basically replaces the north-south PRND shift knob and replaces it with an east-west knob. It also saves space by allowing for a dash-mounted placement, thereby keeping the center console area open in both the Pacifica and six-passenger Ram. It just looks fancy in the new Grand Cherokee and Wagoneer.


The rotary shifter has been found throughout the Ford lineup for nearly a decade now, albeit with variously different knob hardware. This one is slightly different, in that there aren’t hard detents “at the end” of its travel for Park and Drive. The “P” lights up to let you know you’re in Park, but you can keep twirling the dial past that point. According to Ford engineer Leeway Ho, “Our extensive customer research showed that users understand ‘P’ and ‘D’ as the two end points and the most commonly used positions … so they just twirl freely and know there’s no danger of overshooting their desired position, which is what a physical stop prevents. A quick rotation of the wrist without discreetly counting indentations will put the car into ‘P’ or ‘D,’ depending upon which way you’re rotating, without the harsh endstop you would encounter otherwise. In addition, the customer will see Park position in the cluster, and the car provides a subtle audible feedback when you’ve selected ‘P.’”

The Rotary Monostable


Genesis utilizes a rotary shifter, but its functionality differs from those of the others. It’s vaguely similar in concept to the monostable where you twist left for Reverse and twist right for Drive. You then press the Park button in the middle. Of course, the Genesis GV70 (above right) complicates things by adding a second knob of virtually the same size adjacent to it that controls the infotainment system. In the G80 and GV80 (above left), the infotainment controller is more like an old iPod flush-mounted scroll wheel. 

The Rotary Glowing Orb

Genesis GV60

The rotary “Crystal Sphere” shifter of the new electric GV60 selects a gear in the same method as the other Genesis rotary shifters: twist left for Reverse, twist right for Drive, press button for park. But, there’s a wrinkle. When parked, a glowing glass hemisphere with an intricate lattice pattern sits on the center console. The lighting within can be customized with dozens of preset colors (or a hue of your own choosing) to match the ambient lighting on the doors and dash. When you’ve authenticated yourself as the driver, the orb flips over to reveal the ornate rotary gear selector. Genesis claims it’s actually a safety feature because you’ll clearly know when the car is actually on. That can be an issue in a car without an internal combustion engine, but any claim that a fanciful electronic shifter is a safety feature does seem dubious. 

The Column Shifter 2.0


Mercedes was one of the earliest automakers to widely adopt electronic shifters, and immediately seized upon their advantage of freeing up center console space by removing it from the center console altogether. Virtually every Mercedes, apart from select AMG models, has an electronic column shifter. It works a bit like a monostable on its side: flip up for Reverse, flip down for Drive and press the button on the end for Park. Pretty simple. It can take a bit to remember where the shifter went, but once you do, it immediately becomes second nature. In fact, after swapping out of a Mercedes test vehicle and into something else, it’s quite common for us to turn on the new car’s windshield wipers when trying to put the car into Drive. 

We do not have a photo of it, but the Lucid Air uses a similar shifter design, likely because of the precedent set by our next entry. 


Tesla originally used the same shifter design and hardware as Mercedes, but eventually moved on to unique pieces of hardware. Tesla is moving away from such physical hardware entirely, however. Keep on reading. 

The Button Shifters

Aston Martin

Aston has used button-activated automatic transmission shifters since the DB9, which basically had the same setup as the DBX (above left). The Vantage has its buttons arranged in a triangle low on the center stack.


At present, there are two types of button-reliant shifters offered by Hyundai. The one above left is found in the Palisade, Tucson and Sonata. The other, above right, is essentially Hyundai’s first go at a button shifter and found in the Ioniq Electric.

Jaguar I-Pace

The electric I-Pace is the outlier in the Jag lineup with its button-operated shifter.

The Push-and-Pull Button Shifters

Honda / Acura

The electronic shifter found in most Hondas and Acuras is a common button design. You push buttons for Park, Neutral and Drive, then pull up on a tab-like control for Reverse. The ergonomics of this shifter greatly depend on its placement. The closer it is to where your hand would naturally rest in the car, as in the Acura TLX above left, the more natural it is to use. In the CR-V, above right, not so much.

GM Variant 1: Console Mounted

This new push-and-pull button shifter design, found in the 2022 Chevy Bolt (above left) and Buick Envision (above right) among others, is similar to Honda’s design but you pull for both Reverse and Drive. 

GM Variant 2: Corvette

The Corvette shifter is similar to the others above, but is a different piece of hardware.

2018 GMC Terrain SLT Diesel2022 GMC Terrain

GM Variant 3: The GMC Terrain

One of our least favorite shifters, this is pure “different for different sake.” Although the button design was updated (seen above right) from its original hardware (above left), the functionality remains. Push for Park and Neutral. Pull for Reverse and Drive. Bizarrely, push buttons for + or – gears. This thing also takes up a needlessly excessive amount of space and isn’t ergonomic to use. Silliness.

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe

GM Variant 4: Full-Size SUVs

Found in the Chevy Tahoe and Yukon, this is the same design as the Terrain’s, but flipped on its side to be a better ergonomic fit for your hand and placed in a closer, more sensible location between the steering wheel and infotainment screen.

The Piano Keys


Only Lincoln does this. For a while, the brand used buttons stacked laterally adjacent to the central touchscreen. Then, with the Navigator, it introduced the current shifter design that is most comparable to piano keys. It’s simple enough to work, if a bit silly. 

The Nub

2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e2017 Toyota Prius Prime Advanced

Toyota Prius

We break away from our normal alphabetical listing here to highlight the car that basically introduced the world to electronic shifters. And it did so with “the nub.” This squat little doo-dad introduced for the second-generation Prius (the first one that was actually popular) and mounted to its dash is literally a monostable, but differs from the BMW-established norm by requiring you to slide it left and then up for Reverse, or left and then down for Drive. Some versions, as in the case of the Prius, have a B function that replicates engine-braking while going down hill.

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus first drive

Nissan Leaf

Clearly inspired by the Prius, the Nissan Leaf debuted with a flying saucer-shaped shifter that operated in the same way as the Prius nub (minus B mode). It survived to the second-generation Leaf, pictured above.


The new Lexus NX and Lexus LC have a variation of the Prius “nub,” even if the models in question aren’t hybrids. The nobs aren’t as nubby, but they functional the same. Left and up for Reverse; left and down for Drive. A Sport transmission mode replaces B when you slide it back. 

The Touchscreen / Telepathy


When the Tesla Model S recently received it’s first major refresh, the big news was the adoption of a yoke instead of a steering wheel. Somewhat buried by that news was that Tesla’s previous, Mercedes-like, column-mounted electronic shifter would be replaced by a swiping motion on the touchscreen. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. That functionality was intended to be the “override.” According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the “car guesses drive direction based on what obstacles it sees, context and nav map.” In other words, it should automatically just figure out which direction you want to go. Like, telepathy? In any event, none of the above seems like a good idea. You can see why that might be the case, at least in terms of the yoke and touchscreen shifter, thanks to Motor Trend‘s Christian Seabaugh and his attempt at a multi-point turn. Hey, maybe it would’ve gone better if he just let the car read his mind.

5 great dashcams |

Looking for the best dashcam for your car? Dashcams are becoming more and more popular all across the world. They can help you keep a record of your driving habits, or even come in handy when dealing with insurance issues. Here is a list of some of our favorites.

Vantrue N2 pro dual dashcam – $199.99
Captures video inside and outside the car in 1080p. It even has infrared night vision.

Rexing V1P 2.4″ dashcam – $129.98
Records at an “ultra wide” 170° angle and has collision detection.

YI 2.7″ 1080p 60FPS dashcam – $49.99
A cost-effective alternative that still features HD recording, night vision, and a 165° field of view.

Crosstour 1080p dashcam – $39.99
Another budget option with HD video capture, a 3″ LCD screen and collision detection.

Apeman dashcam 1080p – $42.99
1080p video, 170° angle, collision detection and even night vision. A huge bang for your buck.

Tell us about a situation you would’ve loved to have a dashcam handy in the comments.

How far can you go on an ‘empty’ tank? Just look at this chart

I’m raising my hand here, guilty as charged. I’m the guy who drives around town with the fuel needle bouncing off the bottom, with the low fuel light lighting my way. Call me cheap, but I only really ever brim the tank on long drives, and even when the light comes on, I usually shrug it off, thinking, “I can still go 50 miles, easy.” I’ve never actually run out of fuel, but I once drove up a mountain on fumes just to get from one European country to another just so I could fill up at a cheaper price.

But driving on empty, fretting about the nearest gas station, is not good for you. Range anxiety — it’s not just for electric cars.

And it’s not good for your car, either, because your in-tank fuel pump is cooled by the fact it’s submerged. When you take the fuel level to the very bottom of the tank, the pump can overheat. It can also suck up sediment and clog your fuel filter. And if you kill the fuel pump by trying to save money, it’ll cost you a lot more than what you managed to save looking for cheaper gas. The “E” in the gauge doesn’t mean “Eh, keep driving.”

For that reason and others, you shouldn’t drive with less than a quarter of a tank, and preferably you should keep the tank full in case of emergencies — if you’re fleeing a hurricane or a zombie apocalypse, you don’t want to have to stop to gas up. And of course you don’t want the engine to conk out while the car is in the middle of traffic or in an otherwise unsafe place.

That said, how far can you actually go with the needle showing empty? Let’s say you’re driving an unfamiliar car, and the fuel light comes on. How dire is your situation?

The website YourMechanic actually put together a chart with several recent model-year cars showing just how far they will go after the fuel light comes on. It’s a rough approximation, because when the chart lists, say, a Ford Mustang, it doesn’t specify which engine we’re talking about. But the difference in driving distances from model to model tells you just how uncertain this whole business is.

And yes, there’s quite a difference between models: With a 2015 Silverado you need to fill up 25 miles after the light comes on, but some cars like the Nissan Altima have three gallons left in the tank at that point, and you still have perhaps 100 miles. Though from experience, I’d say those last miles would be quite tense.



Traffic Stinks!

We all have complained about traffic before. I do it, you do it, everyone does it. Because it stinks. There’s really no way around it. It’s a time-waster and we can all think of other places we’d rather be than stuck behind an old car with a bad exhaust problem for an hour or so after work. To put things in perspective, TomTom has released a very informative study that they’ve conducted that shows the worst cities for traffic. Some of it may surprise you, some of it probably won’t.

Top 10 Most Congested Cities in the United States
(report is for both North and South America)

4. Los Angeles (no shocker there)
6. San Francisco
7. Honolulu
8. Seattle
10. San Jose
11. New York City
14. Miami
15. Washington D.C.
16. Portland
17. New Orleans

The real shocker?

39. Dallas-Fort Worth

Maybe I think it’s worse when I’m stuck in it, but I was surprised by DFW being ranked number 39. It also makes me not want to travel to Los Angeles or San Francisco anytime soon. The top three most congested cities across the Americas are Rio De Janiero, Mexico City and Sao Paulo. That makes feel wonder just how bad it is down in Brazil with the World Cup going on right now.

A few more interesting findings on the report are the lightest and heaviest days for traffic. In Dallas – Fort Worth, the lightest morning commute is on Friday, while the heaviest is Tuesday. The lightest evening commute is Monday, while the heaviest is Friday, which doesn’t surprise me at all. Anyone who has been in traffic here in DFW on a Friday evening knows that it’s a parking lot all over the metroplex.

Houston and Austin are both above Dallas-Fort Worth on the list (number 23 and 25, respectively).

Check out the full report here and see where your city ranks!



Avoiding Common Driving Annoyances Pt 2.

A few days ago, I started a short series called: Avoiding Common Driving Annoyances. My first goal was to write about all of those things that really bug you about OTHER drivers. Then I thought about it. First, we are already way too negative and really should be striving to be courteous drivers and share the road with patience and understanding. Second, I realized that virtually everything that “annoys” me are things that I either do myself, or are just too completely beyond my control.

  • Can’t keep your take-out food warm while taking it home? Look, I know I can invest in some of kind of over priced underperforming insulation product. But why do that when I can just wrap the food in a blanket? I already have them in the back for cold game nights. The secret though? Wrap it in a blanket then put it on the seat warmer on the passenger side.
  • Can’t tell exactly where you should stop your car whe you pull into the garage? Easy fix. Pull your car into the garage to a position where you know the door will close. Grab that tennis ball that Fido keeps bringing you to toss. Punch a hole through it. Thread a string or fishing line through it. Then simply hang it from the ceiling so that it just touches the center of the windshield. Next time you pull in, just pull up until the ball rests on the windshield and you’re set.
  • Can’t get your remote fob to work farther than a few feet from your car? If you are looking to extend the signal’s range by an extra 20 to 30 feet, try holding the fob directly under your chin, or straight above your head when you press the button. You essentialy become an antenna extention. It may seem silly, but I’ve had customers do this with decent success often. Of course, I suggest a battery change too. A fresh battery for your fob seems to do the trick every time.

Yes, I know these “Driving Annoyances” might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often I hear about some of this stuff. Now if you’ll pardon me, my food is getting cold and I need to pay attention to the tennis ball I have hanging from the ceiling as I pull into the garage.