Friday , October 20 2017
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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

‘No Scheduled Maintenance Needed!’

2 days ago

One way that car companies attract business is by advertising that their vehicles are low-maintenance and – sometimes – no maintenance. This sounds too good to be true and – as is usually the case with such things – it is.
Because entropy.
Things always wear out. Nothing lasts forever, certainly not mechanical things. You can increase service intervals and reduce maintenance, but no maintenance is a shuck and jive. What it really means is:
When it inevitably fails, you replace it.
And it will probably fail sooner because it’s not regularly maintained. This is the nature of things, no matter the advertising copy. It is of course very profitable. Instead of – as an example – spending $50 to have a mechanic grease suspension fittings once

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Obama’s Auto Time Bomb

4 days ago

In just seven years’ time – unless Trump does something before his four years are up – the average fuel efficiency of the average car will have to almost double. From 35.5 MPG (now) to 54.5 MPG by 2025. So reads the fuel economy fatwa issued by Trump’s predecessor.
No matter how much it costs, no matter what it takes.
To put this in perspective, as of 2018, there is only one car available that is capable of meeting the 2025 “goal” – as these forced-on-us things are styled: It is the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. Nothing else comes close.
Well, except electric cars.
These average infinity – as far as gas consumption goes. Which is very helpful insofar as the averages. The federal fuel economy fatwa is formally the Corporate Average

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Where’s Ralph Nader?

6 days ago

Ralph Nader made his name “exposing” the design defects (as he styled them) of the Chevy Corvair.
Leaving aside the fact that what he styled a “defect” was really more a difference – the Corvair was rear-engined and nose-light and so handled differently than the overwhelmingly front-engined and ass-light American cars that drivers of the time were used to, especially when tire pressure recommendations were not adhered to – the relevant thing is that he was cheered – deified – for “exposing” a supposed problem with the car.
Ditto all the other “consumer advocates” who followed in his slimy wake.
Well, where are they now – and why are they all silent?
About electric cars, that is.
Buy Silver at Discounted Prices
Somehow – for some reason –

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The Auto Industry Goes Left

8 days ago

Most people don’t know that the term, politically correct, has its origins in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Back then, it meant more than just excommunication from the Party. It often meant excommunication from this veil of tears – a la Trotsky, via an icepick to the head.
Well, it may come to that here as well.
It is certainly headed that way.
Of all things – and of all places – the car business has become hag-ridden by politically correct orthodoxies and while the penalty for running afoul of these is not yet NKVD thugs bashing in your skull, it is serious enough.
About year ago, I wrote a column (here) lambasting the fact that a major automaker – General Motors – actually had a vice president of diversity. An in-house, full-time (and

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Trannies

11 days ago

Well, no – it’s not what you thought. This column isn’t about Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner. It is about your car’s transmission. About pros – and cons. And about how to make it last as long as the rest of the car – whether you go automatic or manual.
Which is more important than it used to be because of the stupefying cost to rebuild – or more often, replace – a late-model car’s transmission. In some worst-case scenarios, it can cost as much as the car is worth. Or close enough to what the car is worth to make it hard to justify the fix.
Automatics and manuals have different weak – and strong points. And there are specific things you can do (and ought to avoid doing) in order to get the maximum possible service life out of each type.
First,

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Oil Changes

16 days ago

Changing a car’s oil is pretty simple – so it’s surprising it gets done wrong so often.
Sometimes, by “professionals”  . . . who actually aren’t.
See that part above about “simple.”
Many places that do oil changes (such as tire shops and quick-lube joints)do not pay trained mechanics to do them. Because trained mechanics have better things to do – and because most shops can’t offer a $19.99 oil and filter change and pay a trained mechanic to do them.
Not without losing money on the transaction, anyhow.
For that reason, they have whoever they’ve hired for this duty do the job. They are often not trained mechanics and so come cheaper. While many still know what they are doing – changing oil is not rocket science – some don’t.
Also, assembly

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Thank Goodness for Trump

17 days ago

Trump is like a set of studded tires. They suck most of the time, but then comes a blizzard – and you are grateful.
Just so now.
If he were not jefe and instead we had her instead, it is probable that – before this day is out, an emergency executive order would emanate from Washington, outlawing the possession of “weapons of war” (as she has styled them) by other-than-government-workers and, of course, the people such as this Stephen Paddock character. The laws – and strict punishments – that attend murder didn’t much persuade him. It is doubtful new laws would have much if any power to restrain the next Paddock.
Most people understand this.
So does she, incidentally. It is why she has a cordon of heavily armed protectors

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Not So Merry Men

18 days ago

Robin Hood may have been a fictional character, but the thing that drove him and his “Merry Men” to become outlaws was real enough:
Oppressive laws.
Specifically, oppressive taxes.
At every turn, the Sheriff of Nottingham and his not-so-merry men would demand their pound of flesh. The only way Robin and his men could survive was to forget the law – and live outside the law.
It was an act of desperation and necessity.
This is happening again – to millions of American drivers.
None of them merry.
It starts with a ticket for a traffic offense – a pratfall that is becoming hard to avoid because of the profusion of offenses, most of them purely statutory (i.e., involving no harm to anyone) but subjecting the victim (i.e., the person waylaid by

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California Mulling

21 days ago

I expected it to happen, but not this quickly.
California officials are, apparently, “mulling” a ban on cars with internal combustion engines, according to an article in the industry trade publication, Automotive News. If they more than mull and pass a ban, CA would be the first American state to do so – following the example set by several European states, including most recently the UK.
Part of the reason it is happening so quickly is because of amen-corner support from American publications like Automotive News.
Perhaps they should reconsider changing the title of their rag. Because it isn’t “news” when you editorialize – and AN editorializes egregiously in its “news” coverage.
Have a look:
“The internal combustion engine’s days could

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Tire Nazis

25 days ago

If you’ve gone to get new tires recently, you may have already dealt with the latest outcropping of technocratic busybodyism: The scanning of your car’s electronic ear tag, its Vehicle Identification Number or VIN.
The VIN is a bar code – literally – just like the one on the packages of stuff you buy at the supermarket or anywhere else that’s corporate. The VIN specifically identifies your car – including every last detail about it, such as the engine/transmission it came with, the color it was painted and the tires it came equipped with from the factory.
And now it is being used to identify you.
This time, not by Uncle.
By private companies, following Uncle’s example.
To track you, control you – and even dun you.
Here’s how:
Time to buy

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Cars Are Infested With Little Brothers

28 days ago

Every new car is infested with Little Brothers – in the form of code and programming that “corrects” outright or thwarts whatever it is you wanted to do.
It goes way beyond the Seat Belt Nanny.
Have you tried backing up a new car with the driver’s door cracked open? Several won’t allow it – refusing to engage Reverse until you close the door. You can try all day to move the shifter into Reverse – but programming controls whether the transmission will comply. It’s all drive-by-wire now, you see. So no direct, mechanical connection between the gear selector and the transmission. When you select a gear, you are merely asking the computer to engage Drive or Reverse – and the computer is the ultimate Decider, not you.
But why would you want to

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The One Electric Car That Makes Some Sense

September 20, 2017

It’s interesting about the Chevy Volt.
Uniquely, it carries around its own recharger – so it’s not tied to a corded umbilical like other electric cars. So it isn’t gimped by a much-abbreviated radius of action, like all other electric cars – the best of which can travel maybe 150 or so miles before their batteries conk out and the car must hook up to an electric IV for an extended recharging session.
When the Volt’s battery pack’s charge runs down, fresh current is fed into it as you drive – without having to stop driving.
This is superficially similar to the way hybrid works but also very different.
Unlike hybrids, the Volt is a true electric car. A motor and batteries provide the primary motive power – what makes it go – as opposed

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If You Can’t Beat ‘Em

September 18, 2017

Since they can’t sell electric cars – not enough of them, anyhow – and not without subsidies so huge they amount to outright bribes – the solution appears to be to outlaw all cars except electric cars.
This is no joke.
There are IC engine No Go Zones in Germany and France. The Brits have just decreed a ban on the sale of internal combustion-engined vehicles period, beginning in 2040 – which sounds like a long time from now but isn’t – because car companies begin designing cars about ten years before they see the light of production and so this fatwa means the car companies are on notice that the current generation of cars they are selling is either the last or the second-to-last generation of cars they will be selling . . . at least

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If Government Is Enthusiastic About Something

September 16, 2017

Whenever the government is rabidly enthusiastic about something you can be reasonably sure you shouldn’t be.
Electric cars are being pushed for all kinds of reasons, none of them beneficial to us. If that weren’t the case, then it wouldn’t be necessary to push (mandate, subsidize) electric cars. They would be embraced as naturally – as freely – as a better smartphone or more-delicious (and cheaper) hamburger.
Of course, it is necessary to push them. The why gets interesting.
One of the reasons for the electric car push has to do with their very high cost. Which – if electric cars are to become mass-market cars – necessarily entails more and higher debt for the average person.
Government – and the crony capitalist “businesses” which use

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Worse Than Speed Limits

September 14, 2017

Even better – from a certain point-of-view – than a radar trap based on an under-posted speed limit is a radar trap with a changing speed limit. One that can be dumbed-down at random and with no prior notice, at the whim of the same government workers who enforce the limits and profit from that enforcement.
It’s called Variable Speed Limits and the Feds – through the Department of Transportation – are not only encouraging the states to adopt them, they are bribing them to adopt them. Cue Dr. Evil voice – one billion dollars mulcted from taxpayers has been earmarked to mulct taxpayers a second time via “pilot” VSL programs – and at least nine states (New Jersey – naturally – but also Ohio, Wyoming, Oregon, Utah, Florida, Minnesota,

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The Four-Wheeled Patriot Act

September 8, 2017

Whenever Congress does something unanimously (or nearly so) you can rest assured it’s in their interests, not ours.
The USA Patriot Act comes to mind.
Another is the Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act – aka the SELF DRIVE Act – which was rubber stamped through Congress the other day. This is the law that exempts automated cars from the safety requirements that apply to autonomous cars – that is, the cars which are independent of government control and controlled by us.
Just as the Patriot Act was written, not to “fight terrorism,” but to make it easier for government to terrorize us, by circumventing or simply ignoring the Bill of Rights.
Same operating principle behind both.
There is irony – and malevolence –

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The Kids Don’t Wrench

September 7, 2017

Working on cars has become part of America’s cultural past, like so many other things which used to define American culture. Which was, above all, a car culture. What you drove was very important and – especially for young guys – it was almost as important to know how it worked and to at least plausibly be able to work on it.
Males were expected to have a degree of mechanical competence or at least interest and if not your maleness was somewhat suspect.
That’s all gone now.
Almost no one wrenches anymore – male or female. Not unless they’re paid to. And most people have to pay someone else to wrench because more than merely wrenching is involved now.
Ay, there’s the rub.
The complexity today is much greater, obviously. It presents the same kind of barrier to

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The New Motor City

September 6, 2017

GM’s Buick division is doing extremely well . . . in China. The Chinese own Volvo. And may soon own Jeep – one of the few still-viable pieces of what used to be Chrysler.
For now, it’s FiatChrysler.
Emphasis on for now.
Fiat invested in what was just Chrysler, hoping to use the once-Big-Three company as a kind of Mulberry Harbor – the floating piers used by the Allies during the Normandy invasion toward the end of WW II to establish a beachhead in Europe – only this time in America and cars rather than troops. But unlike the Normandy invasion, the Fiat invasion has been a flop so far.
Sales of the company’s signature car – the 500 mini-car – are down almost 50 percent to just over 1,000 cars a month from a high of about 2,500 cars a month back in 2014, two

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Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!

September 4, 2017

As the waters recede from Houston, thousands of flooded cars will be aired out – and shipped out – to unsuspecting used car lots all over the country. Their titles as “washed” as their interiors (and the rest of them, too).
As OJ used to say – and will probably say soon again – look out!
Ideally, these flood-damaged unterseebooten would be written off as collateral damage of the hurricane. But when there’s a buck to be made, people will try to make a buck. What happens is as follows:
The cars – many of them brand-new – are declared total losses and the dealership gets compensated by the insurance company. The cars ought to be recycled at this point – or parted out (some parts are still perfectly usable). But because it is not hard – for the expert crooked

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Safety?

September 1, 2017

If they were at least consistent, you might be persuaded that Our Controllers were truly concerned about our safety. As opposed to using “safety” as the pretext for controlling us.
Not infrequently, to the detriment of our safety.
There are many examples to prove the point but the latest is the push for congressional approval of an exemption for automated cars from the federal safety requirements that apply to not-automated cars. Specifically, an exemption from the regs which forbid the sale of automated cars that lack back-up controls which a human driver can use to prevent the car from doing something manifestly unsafe because its automated systems have experienced a technical hiccup.
Having some way to intervene when an automated car runs amok doesn’t

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Another Way Uncle Costs Us

August 31, 2017

The fuel delivery system in a new car costs more than the entire engine used to.
And still does – if you’re lucky enough to own a V8-powered American car or truck built before the mid-1990s. If you do, you can usually buy a brand-new/manufacturer-warranted crate engine for about $2,000.
Compare that with the cost of a modern car engine’s direct-injection fuel delivery system – resorted to as a way to eke out another 2-3 MPGs vs. port fuel injection.
You don’t want to know . . .
If you ever have to replace the transmission in a car built since about 2010, better have smelling salts nearby. The tab for an eight/nine-ten-speed or “dual clutch” automatic – which the car companies have resorted to in order to eke out another 2-3 MPG vs. a four or five-speed

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Your Cellphone, Please

August 28, 2017

Bad enough that we are required by law to present our “papers” – government-issued ID cards, egregiously mislabelled as driver’s licenses – whenever a government bullyboy so demands. Just as in the former East Germany, just as in the former Soviet Union – and in another place whose name it’s hardly necessary to mention.
But in those places – in those times – tyranny was limited somewhat by technology.
In our time, the technology available to tyranny is almost limitless – and the laws which used to at least somewhat protect us have become the means by which technology tyrannizes us.
Corporations, which give a damn about our rights as much as Ted Bundy cared about his victims, provide the technology – and exploit the law – to profit from tyranny.
Government,

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The Gas-Burning Diesel

August 21, 2017

Diesels are at the top of the Dead Pool – on account of their particularly diesel exhaust byproducts, specifically particulates (aka, soot) and oxides of nitrogen (aka NOx). But diesels are much more fuel-efficient than gas-burning engines because they are compression ignition engines.
Well, compression and heat.
Instead of a spark to set off the explosion, the air/fuel charge is progressively squeezed (and thereby, heated) as the pistons ascends within its cylinder until – boom! – it ignites spontaneously.
More of the potential energy contained in the fuel is translated into useful mechanical energy.
This is why diesels go farther on a gallon of fuel than gas-burners.
But diesels also have the aforesaid emissions issues – also unique to their design.
Most

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Speeding Is Good for You, Like a Drink

August 17, 2017

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

August 15, 2017

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.
Time to buy old US gold coins
[embedded content]
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

August 11, 2017

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

August 10, 2017

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

August 8, 2017

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

August 3, 2017

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?

July 31, 2017

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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