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Eric Peters

Eric Peters

Eric started out writing about cars for mainstream media outlets such as The Washington Times, Detroit News and Free Press, Investors Business Daily, The American Spectator, National Review, The Chicago Tribune and Wall Street Journal.

Articles by Eric Peters

Speeding Is Good for You, Like a Drink

3 days ago

Speeding, like exercise, is good for you. It is lack of motion in both cases that ends up causing problems.
This is no joke.
First of all, “speeding” does not mean driving excessively fast. That is the shibboleth, the cliche, the tired and formulaic claptrap used to justify the roadside ritual of mulcting drivers almost at will – because nearly every driver “speeds” at least a little bit every time he goes for a drive. That is to say, he drives in excess of the posted speed limit – which is always set to ensure exactly that.
Fish in a barrel.
It’s odd that this fact – obvious to all – largely goes by without any raising of hands, if not pitchforks.
Think of other laws that have turned more than half of the population into technical criminals or at least

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Exxon Telescreens

5 days ago

The really top-drawer dystopian novels end up like news accounts that got published a couple of decades before the events they describe.
Orwell’s 1984 came to mid the other day as I rolled up to a pump at an Exxon station and found myself being pestered by a TeeVee built into the gas pump. It came to life – loudly – as soon as I fed my credit card into the reader. Pushy sales pitches masquerading – as online – as “content,” the euphemism for ads from which you will “learn” more as opposed to merely being the object of a sales pitch.
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Is there any escape from perpetual peddlering? How long before someone figures out how to embed a tiny flatscreen on the side of a Starbucks coffee cup?
It’s not two-way, I don’t think.
Yet.
But

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Putting the Blame Where It Doesn’t Belong

9 days ago

In a strange take on William Burrough’s famous quip about gun control advocates – who want to take guns away from people who haven’t shot anyone – lawyers for explode-in-your-face air bag manufacturer Takata are trying to convince a federal judge to suspend victim’s lawsuits against the car manufacturers who unwittingly installed the defective, deadly air bags in their vehicles.
News story here.
This is generating a tsunami of outrage – against the car manufacturers. Which is exactly like being outraged by your peaceful neighbor who has a rifle  . . .  because some guy in Ohio went on a rampage with one.
It’s weirder, actually – because in the case of the car companies, they never had a choice. It wasn’t their decision to put air bags in their vehicles. They

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Diversity Is Celebrated

10 days ago

The Celebration of Diversity is a non-stop party, except when it comes to cars – which wax homogenous with each passing year. Bars of soap with different grilles, in different sizes and colors but as uniformly the same as the cheering masses at a Nuremburg partei rally.
This extends even to what’s under the hood.
It’s is a function of the regulatory template imposed by Washington, which designs cars nowadays. Not officially, but might as well be. For instance:
There is a reason every new car has a rear end that looks like the mighty cheeks of a Budweiser Clydesdale  . . . or a person of Wal Mart.
It is so because of the unanticipated side-effect of the original round of federal fuel efficiency (CAFE) mandates, which incited the entirely artificial SUV boom

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The Imbecile Tax

12 days ago

Grown-ups used to appreciate being treated as grown-ups, especially by other grown-ups. How is it that today’s grown-ups demand that they be treated like not-too-bright children?
This manifests all over but one obvious area is new cars. The latest example being what Nissan just announced it will be installing in at least one of its 2018 models – the Pathfinder SUV – and probably, inevitably, the rest, too:
“Rear Door Alert.”
Its purpose? To remind Moo or Duh (or both of them, together) that Baby Finster is strapped into his seat back there and not to forget and leave him to roast like a pork loin while they go shopping for a new sail fawn.
This is apparently necessary to “tackle the problem of children dying of heat stroke in vehicles.” Expect the Feds to

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Electric Car Mania

17 days ago

Maybe you remember Disco Fever.
Mid-70s, United States. For no apparent reason, suddenly everyone seemed to be singing in a high-pitched falsetto voice and wearing skin-tight lycra with open collared shirts displaying chest hair and gold medallions.
It was fun for awhile but got old fast.
Electric Car Fever is now upon us. Laws are being passed – the Brits being the latest – mandating the production of electric cars by outlawing the production of cars powered by internal combustion.
This will get old fast, too.
King Canute could decree that the tide not come back – and politicians can decree that we’ll all be driving electric cars by “x” year, not too far from now. But wishing – and decreeing – can’t overcome reality. It can just make things really expensive

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Texting in Your Car?

20 days ago

Yes, really.
They are working on a gadget that can tell the polizei whether you’ve been texting while driving.
For your saaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety – as depressingly always.
An Israeli company called Cellebrite – which sounds like the latest “ask your doctor about” pill to cure your ills – has ginned up this altogether different pill. Real-time and probable cause-free dragnet monitoring of people’s cell phone use and driving, so as to roust people who dare to ignore no-texting-while-driving statutes.
Automatically, furtively. Everyone. The cops in collusion with your sail fawn “provider,” as they are styled. You won’t know – until they let you know they know.
A police state technology from a police state country – what a surprise.
The Textalyzer would work in much

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OJ and Air Bags

23 days ago

OJ – who almost certainly killed two people and definitely got away with it – didn’t get away with participating in an armed robbery and kidnapping.
He got 33 years, served about 9 – and is scheduled to be released this fall.
Oliver Schmidt – the VW engineer who “cheated” Uncle – is looking at 169 years. He didn’t kill anyone or even trip them up. Yet if convicted, he will be taken out of circulation for life.
Several of them.
Who would you rather have running loose?
OJ? Or Schmidt?
It gives you a sense of the government’s priorities.
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FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe says: “We can’t put companies in jail (he means prison) but we can hold their employees personally accountable.”
Unlike, say, the employees of the government.
Who

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Porsche Is Doomed

24 days ago

Maybe the worst thing about this electric car business is the way it will – if it succeeds – homogenize cars, make one just like another in every meaningful way. Think about bumper cars. You pick a different body or color – but the cars are all exactly the same.
So it is with electric cars.
A motor is, after all, a motor. One spins the same as the others.
Unlike engines – which reciprocate. Pistons, up and down. Valves opening and closing. And which can be (and have been) made in an almost infinite variety of ways: Fours and sixes and eights and tens and twelves; in-line, 90 and 60 degree V. Horizontally opposed. Overhead valve and the overhead cam.
Air and water-cooled.
Big and small block. Fuel-injected or turbocharged.
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The Gov’t Rip-Off on Gasoline

27 days ago

Most people know they’re paying a lot of taxes every time they buy a gallon of gasoline.
Proportionately, few taxes are more regressive than motor fuels taxes – which currently amount to about 35 percent of the per gallon cost of gas (roughly, 50 cents in federal and state taxes on each gallon, which currently sells for a little over $2).
But there is a another tax on motor fuels which very few people even know exists that also dips deep into their pockets.
It is the federal mandate that each gallon of gas sold contain a certain percentage (currently, 10 percent) of so-called “renewable” fuels. This being chiefly ethanol alcohol, which is made of corn. About 40 percent of all the corn grown in the United States is not used to feed people or animals. It goes

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Autonomous Cars

29 days ago

Cadillac’s Vehicle-to-Vehicle communications technology shares vehicles’ locations, speeds, directions and traffic conditions up to nearly 1,000 feet away.
For automated – note, not “autonomous” – cars to become other than a technocratic curiosity, to make the concept functionally viable on a mass scale, it will be necessary to eliminate cars that aren’t automated. That’s because the whole point of automated (not autonomous – which means independent) cars is to collectivize transportation.
To regiment and control it.
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Cars that are still entirely under the control of the person behind the wheel do not fit into this matrix. They are outliers, the vehicular equivalent of a voluntary income tax – and we can’t have that, either.
Hence

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Are You a Storage-Cubby Criminal?

July 20, 2017

You may be aware that cops can simply steal – yes, that’s exactly the correct word – cash found on your person or in your vehicle, in the course of a traffic stop, say – solely on account of it being an “excessive” amount.
“Excessive” being entirely up to them to define.
It could be $10,000 – or $1,000. There is no specific amount of cash defined by statute that crosses a legal threshold. Thus, one cannot know ahead of time not to carry, say, $5,000 – but $500 is ok.
It is enough that a government worker with a gun considers whatever cash you are found to have in your possession “excessive.”
And these armed government workers can legally steal it from you on the basis of the cash being the presumptive – but not proved – fruits of some illegal activity,

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Dangers of Federal Safety

July 12, 2017

Technology never makes mistakes – unlike the humans who design it. Who never fail to anticipate the unanticipated.
Perfection issuing from imperfection, reversing the usual order of things.
Sarcasm, in case you didn’t pick up on it.
This 190 proof moonshine – distilled by arrogant technocrats like Elon Musk – is going to get people hurt as automated-driving technology comes online.
I recently test drove a 2018 VW Atlas (review here) which has what several other new cars also have: The ability to partially steer itself, without you doing a thing.
Time to buy old US gold coins
There are hi-res cameras built into the front end of the car that scan the road ahead; they see the painted lines to the left and right and use them as reference points to tell

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Volvo Commits Seppuku

July 10, 2017

With gas cheaper than it has been in at least 50 years – strongly suggestive that there is plenty of it available and will be for some time to come – Volvo has announced its decision to build nothing but expensive plug-in hybrid and full-on electric cars beginning after the 2019 model year.
Cue the falling of rose petals.
“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car,” saith Volvo’s CEO Hakan Samuelsson.
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No, it marks the end of sanity – and very possibly of Volvo as a manufacturer of cars. Well, as a manufacturer of cars that people can actually afford to buy or want to buy and which aren’t massively subsidized by the government – from the assembly line to the moment they drive

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The Good About New Cars

July 6, 2017

Just like our marriages, nothing’s perfect about cars – whether they are new cars or old cars. Here are a few things about new cars that are both good and bad:
Tire inflator kits – 
To save weight (and make room in ever-smaller trunks) many new cars no longer have a spare tire at all. Not even a mini-spare. Instead, when you get a flat, you unbox a tire inflator (and repair) kit, usually packaged under the trunk floor or in a side panel storage cubby. It contains a small air compressor you plug into the car’s cigarette lighter – whoops, politically incorrect… meant to say “power point” – and a can of goo, basically, that mixes with the incoming compressed air, shoots into the flat tire – via the stem – and simultaneously plugs the hole and refills the tire.

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Speeding Is a Capital Offense

July 4, 2017

Did you know that the penalty for speeding is death?
It is something to think about as we head into the Farce of July and the sickly celebration of the freedoms we lost a long time ago. Among these, the right to not be shot to death in the streets over traffic offenses.
Yes, really.
A couple of years ago, the nine Judge Dredds who quite literally are the law – by dint of decreeing what the law is, as opposed to what the Constitution actually says –  ruled (a most appropriate term) that if a speeding motorist flees from an enforcer of the law, that enforcer is empowered to execute him. (News story here.)
The case at issue was Plumhoff vs. Rickard.
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Back in ’04, a Memphis, TN law enforcer named Vance Plumhoff tried to pull over a

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Car Ownership To Be a Thing of the Past?

June 30, 2017

Car ownership will soon be a thing of the past, some say.
Some wish.
Instead of buying a car every so often and driving that car for a period of years – and owning the car – people will simply tap an app and rent a car by the hour or day; whatever their need at the moment happens to be.
It sounds breezy – and oh-so-easy!
This may indeed be our metrosexualized future  . . . god help us. But not for those reasons. There are always other reasons. The real reasons.
There is money to be made, naturally. Great huge stacks of it. Someone with a calculator and the instinct of a Don King or Colonel Parker did a little math and figured out that it would be orders of magnitude more profitable to rent people cars than sell people cars.
Time to buy old US gold coins
You

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Whatever Happened to CNG-Powered Cars?

June 28, 2017

It’s interesting to speculate about why solutions that would have actually worked – which did work –  seem to always just kind of .  . .   go away. 
Not the fabled 100 MPG carburetor. That probably never existed.
But how about cars powered by compressed natural gas (CNG)?
They did exist. And – much more interesting – they worked. 
Several car companies – including GM and Ford  – offered them, briefly, back in the late 1990s. Including CNG-powered versions of their full-size sedans (the Impala and Crown Victoria, respectively) with room for six and a V8 engine under the hood.
Beats hell out of a four-cylinder hybrid.
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And not just 0-60.
These CNG-powered cars didn’t cost a fortune – which made their economics much more sensible

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Demonizing the Demon

June 26, 2017

People who are jealous of their right to own firearms know how important it is to mercilessly stomp even the slightest suggestion that their right to own a gun be restricted in some manner, no matter how trivial it may seem.
Because the principle at stake is critical.
If it is acceptable to chip away at a right because of this – then surely that will follow. It is like the income tax, which people were assured would apply only to “the rich” when it was first proposed.
Now, of course, it applies to everyone.
Because the principle of taxing people’s earnings was accepted. Once that was accepted, it was hard to make a principled argument against taxing anyone’s income.
Which brings us to Larry Vellequette.
Time to buy old US gold coins
This guy – a writer for

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The Money Pit

June 23, 2017

People made fun of cars like the Vega and Chevette – but at least GM made money on them. And when GM stopped making money on cars like them, it stopped trying to sell them.
They got cancelled and replaced.
Profitability used to determine whether a car remained in production.
Of course, those were the Old Days – when the car business wasn’t a government-supported, politically-motivated crony capitalist enterprise, as it is today.
Today, profits don’t matter. Grotesque losses are embraced – probably because GM (and the rest of the industry) knows that the government – read, you and me – will eventually end up with the bill, so not to worry.
Time to buy old US gold coins
And so it is not a huge surprise to read that the financial services company UBS – doing a

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The Government Is Violent

June 16, 2017

Violence is, unfortunately, fungible.
As this society becomes more and more officially violent, it is probable that unofficial violence will also increase. In fact, it is almost a mathematical axiom. It is also one not comprehended by those most responsible for initiating the process.
Police and politicians seem baffled by the growing disenchantment with their class. They seem to expect people to behave toward them with respect and deference no matter what they do – by dint of the fact that what they do is Official and Legal.
Why are politicians – left and right – increasingly despised by reasonable people? Could it have anything to do with the fact that they will not leave people alone? That all they do – at great expense (to us) and with great pomposity –

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Pop Goes the Car Bubble

June 10, 2017

Almost every negative thing happening in the car business – in particular, ludicrous technical complexity for the sake of electronic gimmickry and also to cope with diminishing returns federal “safety” and emissions mandates – could be gotten under control by the simple expedient of cutting off the monopoly money/debt-financing that makes it all possible.
The seven-year loan.
“Free” money (zero or very low interest).
Give-away leases.
The car industry is riding a bubble that’s proportionately as large as the housing bubble of a decade ago. And it is going to pop. For the same reason that a wave has to crest and wash ashore, once set in motion.
Signs of trouble abound. They build them – but no one comes. Not without inducements that amount to giveaways.
For

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Beware the Car Options

June 8, 2017

Whatever their failings, machines generally don’t second-guess you. Turn them on, turn them off. Point them in a certain direction. Command them to move or spin or do whatever it is they were made to do and – assuming they are not broken – they will usually do it.
And won’t try to nudge you to do what they think is best.
Electronic gadgets, on the other hand . . .  .
They pre-empt and nudge. Do things you didn’t ask them to – and won’t do things you want them to. They turn on – and off- at random, according to their own lights. They are not broken, either.
Which means, of course, they can’t be fixed.
They seem to literally have a mind of their own – and in a very real sense, they do. They are programmed to guess/intuit/anticipate your needs – whether you

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Prohibitionism Advances in Utah

June 6, 2017

The slippery slope argument gets mocked a lot – but here’s another case that proves the point:
Utah has just done what thinking brains knew was inevitably coming. The state government has nearly halved the legal threshold defining what risibly continues to be called “drunk” driving (see here) from the iffy .08 BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) to the downright ridiculous .05 BAC.
This is a level that many people reach after as few as two – or fewer – drinks. One is enough, in some cases, to risk a “bust.”
Thus, Utah’s fatwa – and that is the right word, as this business comes out of religion – Mormonism – which would outlaw all drinking, period, if it had the power to do so – is a hop-skip away from outlawing any drinking prior to driving. Because with a threshold

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A Pat on His Orange Head

June 3, 2017

At last, something.
Trump “pulled out” of the Paris Climate Change Agreement – agreed to by his predecessor back in 2015 and awaiting a majoritarian 55 of the earth’s nations to agree before it becomes binding within those countries.
That is to say upon the people within those countries – who had no say in the matter whatsoever beyond the gauzy connection between a Dear Leader, who may have received the electoral support of a minority of the citizenry at some distant election, claiming to “represent” them when he says Aye.
Trump’s saying Nay – regardless of the reasons why – is (yes) huge.
Especially as regards your car.
New – and old.
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This has not been much discussed but ought to be.
Both, you see, “emit” carbon dioxide. Not

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Before You Go Old . . .

June 1, 2017

Maybe you’ve been thinking about buying an older car as a way to avoid some of the hassles, expense – and Big Brother-ish – aspects of owning a new car.
These are all-too-real. Especially the Big Brother-ish stuff, which is becoming insufferable as well as all-but-unavoidable. Good luck finding a new car without at least six air bags, an Event Data Recorder (EDR) and some kind of send-and-receive “telematics” (e.g., GM’s OnStar) that can – and will – be used to narc you out to either the government or the insurance mafia.
Or the merely aggravating – saaaaaaafety systems that pre-empt your decisions or scold you for the decisions you make.
This stuff is waxing much worse as the car companies fall over each other to double-down on electronic idiot-proofing

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Black and Blue

May 30, 2017

Naturally, the solution to the problem of police abusing their authority is to hold them less accountable when they do exactly that.
Leave it to “law and order” Republicans such as Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Ted Poe to evolve such logic. They have put forth the Black and Blue – whoops, Back the Blue – act (see here) which would make it harder to sue run-amok law enforcers in civil court to recover damages resulting from actions undeniably illegal – while at the same time imposing more severe penalties on Mundanes who affront the holy person of a law enforcer than those imposed on Mundanes who do exactly the same thing.
As regards the first:
So long as the victim – er, perp – was “engaged in felonies or crimes of violence” (how this it to be determined

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The Semi-Retired Car

May 26, 2017

New cars come with maintenance schedules that give you time/mileage intervals for things like oil changes, tune-ups, tire rotation and so on. Follow these recommendations and – assuming a decent/sound car to start with – it ought to be a long-lived car.
But what about old, semi-retired cars?
They came with maintenance schedules, too. But these assumed regular use. When that assumption no longer applies . . . what to do?
For example, my 1976 Trans-Am. I still have all the original paperwork, including the service schedule. It tells me to change the oil once every 7,500 miles or six months – whichever comes first. Well, it’ll take me at least  a decade to rack up 7,500 miles – since the car only leaves the garage occasionally. I drive it about 500 miles each

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Nothing Runs You Like a Deere. . .

May 24, 2017

We are allowed to use the land as the sovereign sees fit – and not otherwise. If we use it in ways forbidden, the king – whoops, Uncle – will punish us. He can also just take it from us via another noxious doctrine – that of eminent domain.
But until recently, we at least owned our incidentals – the small-potatoes stuff, like the clothes on our backs. Our cars.
Our tractors, certainly.
Not anymore.
Not if it’s a John Deere tractor.
When you buy one, you’re actually purchasing an “implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.“ Basically, a rental contract. With the difference being that even when the rental is paid off, you are still bound by the contract.
Time to buy old US gold coins
Yes, really.
It has to do with two things – the code

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A Great Time To Buy a Used Car

May 20, 2017

You might want to buy a used car while they’re cheap – but not just because they’re cheap.
And cheap they are.
Because of unprecedented desperation tactics to sell new cars – including under-bid incentives, cash back offers and “free money” loans at zero or nearly zero interest. Which the car companies have had to resort to during the past year in order to fluff up wilting sales (and sales are wilting regardless).
When you make new cars so attractive – so cheap – to buy, what happens is that used cars become even cheaper to buy.
It is hard to sell, as a for-instance, a $17,000 three-year-old Camry when you can buy a brand new one for around $22k out the door – especially when the payments on the new car are lower because the interest on the loan is less  and

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