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Brandon Seiler's Blog on Cars

Archive for December 2008

New Year’s Resolution, for a Dodge Dynasty

The new year is upon us and there’s a few things I’d like to reserve myself to in 2009 in hopes of salvaging the tattered remains of my automotive love life: a 1991 Dodgy Dynasty by the name of Claire.

To quote an old-timey song: “Ain’t no woman gonna waste her time, waiting for a poor boy to drop the dime.” 

And it’s true; the Dynasty has been letting me know in not so subtle ways lately that she’s not satisfied with the amount of coin I threw her way in 2008. She’s been letting herself go as the months are growing colder and darker towards the turn of January 1. You can see it in her headlights; their radiant beams have dimmed to murky pools of despondency capable of navigating the roadways no better than an elderly person’s milky eyes. 

When night falls, it’s hard for me to distinguish between a stop sign and the reflective glow of a small child’s jacket. But even if I did decide to slow down it feels as though Claire might very well belch out her brake fluid in an attempt to send the mysterious glowing entity over the hood. 

Were those wood chips or mittens? Either way, Claire would expect the damage to be permanent as I would sooner blog about her deformities than fix them. 

Like her missing hub cap on the right front; the exposed black wheel is the equivalent to a gaping black hole in a toothy grin, but I’ve neglected to buy her a shiny replacement or pick up the old one from the side of highway 12. I try to explain that it would only bring back the bad memories of the German girl that caused the lack of sleep, which in turn caused the fender bender, but Claire doesn’t like to hear of my past relationships. In fact, she’s made a habit of throwing temper tantrums with her fan belt in crowded parking lots, just so I’ll pay her some attention every so often.

I guess I do enjoy making her jealous with my affairs. One young lovely actually scrawled a “momma” heart mockingly into the quarter inch of dust on Claire’s dashboard where it’s remained since May, a haughty reminder to Little Miss Dodge that there’s plenty of action for me out there that doesn’t ask I drop $30 bucks on them at a Shell station. Usually, several dollar menu items and a chilled bottle of Night Train will suffice just fine. 

And yet, Claire isn’t like other girls; I mean to say, I’m attached to her. Other women will come and go, but Claire has VIN tags welded into her frame, which means I can’t leave her on the side of the road.

So, this year is the year I’m going to take the first baby steps towards showing Claire I care, and truly admit to myself that she’s become an important part of my life. Yes, I’m going to wipe every last grain of dust from her interior. 

Into a zip loc baggy. And sell it to a drunk guy at a party. 

“One whiff and it really get’s you movin’ man,” I’ll say, and said buyer will only hesitate slightly before purchasing my over-priced placebo effect for a tidy sum.

Do I want to do a line with him? He’ll ask, “No” I’ll respond, “My lady doesn’t like the stuff, that’s why I had to get rid of it. Thanks though.”

Back out at the car, I won't tell Claire where I got the money to buy her the new hub-cap, but I can bet that even with a freshly cleaned dash she’ll still have the nerve to bother me for an oil change, a new fan belt, new plugs. Yap yap yap, seems like the older she gets the more noise she makes. It’s a good thing I love her enough to keep her around…this year.

Yuppies and Snow: Cause for Concern

I’m back on the West Side; it’s snowing here too and the yuppies are posing a severe public safety hazard with their driving. It’s bad, very bad, and I don’t mean the weather. 

Actually, at most there’s about six inches of fun-loving powder on the residential roads. Everywhere else is nicely plowed or compacted down to a hard surface any half-decent snow tire can handle with a minimal amount of guidance from a competent driver. 

Here lies the problem. 

Take a gander at the headlines from the Seattle Times Post-Intelligencer and the story surfaces it’s gnarled head: “Crazy” storm unleashes wind, snow/ICY SLIDE TO THE BRINK; WORSE WEATHER LOOMS/“Very dangerous” storm on the way. 

The Saturday, December 20, issue of the Times shows a Northwestern tour bus hanging over the guardrail above the intersection of East Thomas Street and Melrose Avenue above Interstate 5. There appears to be just enough snow on the roads to qualify as a ground cover. 

Quotes from the bus passengers, also included on the front page are as followed: “We were all screaming. I thought we were going to die,” said Alex Hammell, 16 of Bothell, and “We were going downhill really fast, and the driver tried to turn but couldn’t turn, and we crashed into the other bus. People started screaming and glass exploded,” said Kiela Current, 18 of Spokane.

Really? I drove up to Spokane from Pullman Wednesday over where the real storm was just setting in on Highway 179 North. One Spokanimal passed me on the unplowed left lane in a Ford Explorer towing a Honda Civic that was waving behind the undersized SUV like an ecstatic dog tale jockeying for a pass of it’s own. 

It wasn’t safe, but the point is that guy was damned confident in his snow driving capabilities, and as far as I know he made it somewhere out of a newspaper photographer’s range before causing a serious accident. Well done.

That’s the difference between East side and West side winter-time drivers so far as I can tell: when the snow starts to fall, the East side people get where they need, or perhaps more importantly want to go, regardless of whether or not it’s “safe” to do so. 

West-siders on the other hand seem to think that dooms day is directly correlated to weather-related school closures that take place around 3-6 inches of snow. They crawl beneath their hemp blankets until their few remaining ill-prepared drivers are done careening down hills with their brakes locked while their Starbucks coffee scalds their groins to a douchy Christmas hue. 

Heaven forbid they might have to strap on an extra pair of socks to keep their feet warm in their Birkenstocks and navigate their way around the city with a moderate level attention to their driving. 

I awoke Thursday morning in Spokane to find a good 24 inches of snow on the ground with the weather reports calling for another 15 inches of the white death in the coming hours. Did I retreat back to bed in a cowardly submission? Was my Mini-Cooper equipped with low-profile tires so stylishly undersized that they could not be outfitted with a pair of chains?

No! I took a year off my back shoveling my Aunt’s driveway and kept my momentum up as I hung a right onto Monroe in a borrowed four-wheel drive pickup equipped with decent snow tires. After several trips around the block I managed to locate the on-rap to I90 West behind a snow bank and merged my ass back onto the southbound highway to Pullman. 

Damn straight it was dangerous, but I enjoyed the opportunity to brave the weather while improving my hazardous driving skills and made it home without incident. 

Point being, after two consecutive days of witnessing the different reactions to the winter storm that is hovering around Washington’s polar opposites, I’ve found that each side is equally dangerous, just in different ways. 

The real difference is that there really isn’t any kind of legitimate snow on the West side of the state to be worried about. It gets dicey in some areas, but for the most part, people are flipping their wigs over less than a quarter of the storm that’s hitting the Spokane area. 

With busses nearly flying off overpasses, maybe the yuppies do have reason to be fearful for their lives. Then again, Spokane drivers don’t seem to have a problem blitzkrieging through snow drifts towing their compact cars as a backup ride.…maybe somewhere around Yakima there’s a happy medium. 

Here’s hoping.

Winter Driving Tips for Dummies

Winter is here all of a sudden and that means bad drivers are going to make epic Asses of themselves on the snow packed roads. What’s worse, there’s a good chance one of them will careen into someone who actual knows how to operate a motor vehicle in adverse conditions. So, I’m taking the time to compose some winter driving tips for the good of our miniature online community in hopes it will save a few fenders. Please read these carefully and be safe, for the love of low insurance rates. 

Tip # 1: This is a biggy. When you hit the breaks and nothing happens, that means you are sliding and need to pursue some other options to slow your vehicle. Try tapping the brake with feather touches executed at River Dancing speeds. If all goes well you can act as your own ABS. If your car already comes equipped with this option you give me a ride because I can’t afford snow tires or even ones with proper tread. 

Tip # 2: If you own a giant truck or SUV with snow tires and four wheel drive you can double kiss my ass. We’ve all seen how you maniacs mob around when the first snow of the season falls. Please, pretty please, resist the urge to drive your mini-monster truck faster on the ice than you would on dry pavement. A little known fact is that when you’re a few beers deep and trying to impress your buddy by drifting a corner, for as good as she grips, she sure isn’t going to stop on a dime. That’s a lot of weight you’re throwing around there son, you could easily further disable a two wheel drive with your vulgar display of four-wheeled power. Slow it down unless you’ve found a good deserted area to get your jollies.

Tip # 3 Clean the snow off your car before you set out on the roads. It takes me a good five seconds to light a cigarette at highway speeds. Smoking with the windows up to conserve my body heat obscures my vision enough without being blinded by the never-ending cloud of icy dandruff wafting off the car ahead of me. Whip out the Head and Shoulders (car broom) and clean that sucker off. It’s easy and fun if you imagine the snow is cocaine and you’re the rookie cop that’s gonna clean up the streets to make a name for himself on the force. Or, just whistle, whatever gets the job done. 

Tip # 4 Don’t ride with that friend who thinks they know how to drive in the snow. They don’t, you know it, so just say, “no, you are inept, we’re still cool but you should be regulated to a sled and/or saucer for wintertime transportation.” Chances are they won’t be able to rock their car out of it’s parking space, but if they do make it out to the streets they will undoubtedly break every cardinal rule of snow driving and endanger multiple lives in the process. It’s best not to have your nose broken by the passenger air bag when they slam into the side of 711 with a slight grade in the parking lot. Imagine what would happen if they actually got into a situation where they had to avoid an accident: Broken nose in a 711 parking lot. I should wrap this up. 

Seriously guys, I’ve seen a lot of ridiculously bad drivers out there since the snow hit. Take it slow and watch out for each other. The second you get comfortable is usually when the accidents happen so stay uncomfortably alert. It might cause an ulcer or two but it’s sure cheaper than bodywork.

Cop Ghost Rides the Whip

This badass cop Ghost Rides her patrol car as moving cover during a gun fight and shoots down a bank robber. For those of you who don’t know, defines Ghost Riding as: “The act of putting ones ride in neutral, opening all doors, placing the volume dial on 10, and simply rollin. One can also take the process up a notch and actually exit his/her ride. Once outside of the ride, one can dance and flow to the beat.”
Or serve up some justice gangsta style, bitch.

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About this blog

Brandon Seiler is a bonafide car guy, member of the Northwest Auto Press Association and proud Washingtonian. He covers the latest auto news, technology, and pretty much anything having to do with car culture. You don't have to like cars to read his blogs, you just have to be able to read.

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