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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

The Electric Car Upside

2 days ago

Is there any upside to electric cars?
In the interest of fairness, this question should be fairly answered. As is true of almost anything – Hitler did build the Autobahn, after all – you can find a few good things to say about electric cars . . . if you look long and hard enough – and don’t ask too many pesky follow-up questions.
The heat works immediately –
An electric car is like a mobile space heater, one of those little boxes you plug in at home or work to take the chill off the room you’re in. They make heat as soon as you turn them on – assuming there is current flowing. In a non-electric car, you have to wait for the engine to warm up first. This usually takes several minutes, at least, on a very cold day and in the

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Elon Muskian Welfare

5 days ago

Welfare used to be about government cheese. Today’s it’s about grafting thousands of dollars to rich people so as to “encourage” them to drive around in electric cars.
Few seem to mind because electrics are the cablinasians of the car world; affirmative action/diversity hires whose merits must not be questioned – and their deficits never mentioned.
Well, congressional Republicans did exactly that – a startling thing, given the GOP’s usually reliable penchant for bringing-up-the-rear acceptance of everything Democrats enact (Obamacare, for example).
But this time, they broke ranks.
Included in the House version of the GOP’s budget proposal (expect Senate Republicans to out the kibosh on this) is language that would eliminate the $7,500

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No More California Dreamin’

9 days ago

It’s ironic that the state which birthed and came to define the car culture – cruising on Friday nights, the Beach Boys, Ronnie and the Daytonas – has become the state most hostile toward them.
No more little GTOs really looking fine or little Deuce coupes. Hell, no more Hyundais  . . . unless they’re battery powered.
Under the terms of a fatwa crafted by Phil Ting – a member of the California General Assembly from San Francisco – the only new vehicles which will be legal for use on California roads beginning in 2040 will be “clean” vehicles.
“Clean” defined in interestingly incoherent – and arbitrary – terms.
Ting isn’t talking about the actually dirty byproducts of internal combustion – almost all of which have been sequestered and

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Can We Fix Law Enforcement

10 days ago

It’s fine to talk theory – what would be ideal. But while working toward that, what about practical changes that don’t require a sea change evolution in consciousness? For example, what can be done – in practical terms –   about law enforcement?
That there is a problem is as obvious as Caitlyn Jenner’s Adam’s apple. The big problem – tyrannical laws based on the tyrannical idea that it’s legitimate to order people around and abuse them for not causing any harm to anyone – isn’t going to be solved absent a sea-change evolution in consciousness.
But there are some obvious fixes that would make things a lot better right now – and it’s hard to imagine anyone objecting:
Law enforcers should be required to know the law – and be fired when

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The Torture of the VW CEO

12 days ago

Volkswagen AG executive Oliver Schmidt is due to be sentenced this week for “cheating” Uncle. He faces seven years in federal prison and up to $400,000 in fines. His professional life is, of course, kaput. He will never work again.
Starbucks, perhaps.
And his personal life is probably ruined, too. Not many wives stand by their convicted felon.
Schmidt is only 48 years old – and his life is over. All because he – along with other VW executives and engineers – “cheated” on federal emissions tests, which amounts to the same thing as making a right turn on red when there’s clearly no traffic around. A violation of statute; no actual harm caused to anyone.
But the affront to the authority of the state, that is another matter. It’s why cops

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Can the Gov’t Make Your Car Safe?

13 days ago

Do state-mandated “safety” inspections ensure a “safe” car? On the day of the inspection, sure. The tires are ok, the brakes check out. Fine.
But what about next week?
And six months down the road?
Aye, there’s the rub.
Literally. Things like tires and brakes – and windshield wipers and suspension components – wear out over time because of friction; i.e. because they rub up against something and as a result of that, they wear down. It’s a gradual process and a differential process; different  parts wear at different rates. Brake pads might last 50,000 miles or more. Or half as long.
It depends on the car; it depends on how the car is driven.
Some wear items – like tires – are pretty obvious. No tools or disassembly are required; just

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Chancing It

16 days ago

It is increasingly tempting to just go for it.
Scratch that. It is increasingly reasonable to just go for it.
Traffic stops are not what they once were. The fines have become disproportionate, abusive – hundreds of dollars for crimes-agains-no-one such as “speeding” and not having various government stickers, all of them up to date.
Many people cannot afford to pay these fines – not to mention the additional fines they face in the form of higher car insurance premiums, which they’re forced to pay as much as any court-ordered fine.
These premiums are already so high – even before they go higher, based on the pretext of convictions for crimes-against-no-one such as “speeding” – that many people reasonably elect to chance not paying at

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What Happened to My Profession?

25 days ago

Car journalist were – once upon a time – car guys. They were not Safety Nags, indistinguishable from Ralph Nader or Joan Claybrook.
Today, they are indistinguishable. Might as well be Ralph. Or Joan.
Keith Crain, for example. He is the editor of Automotive News – which isn’t really. It would be more accurate to style it, Automotive Hate – because Crain doesn’t much like cars or driving them.
He likes saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety.
And wants more of it to be mandated. Automated emergency braking, for instance. This is technology which uses radar or other proximity sensors to detect another car or object within the orbit of a vehicle; if the driver does not brake when the computer/programming thinks he ought to brake, the

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Cowboys, Truckers, and Us

26 days ago

Being a trucker – especially an owner-operator – used to be a lot like being a cowboy was back in the 1800s.
On your own timetable, beholden to none – so long as the cows (or the cargo) got where they needed to be on time. Independent, free.
Which, naturally, is why both avocations had to be stomped.
Cowboys became ranch hands, no longer free to roam.
But at least they aren’t subject to 24-7 recording of their doings  – as truckers soon will be. It will be done via something called an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) which is basically a mobile, in-truck Panopticon – a rig for the rig that sees all and knows all – and narcs all, to the Appropriate Authorities.
It will tell drivers when to stop driving – even if they are just a couple of

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No More Electric Gravy?

November 16, 2017

There must be a rube in the House.
A recent Republican who does not understand how the game is played – much less why it is being played the way it is played. He and perhaps some of his fellows not-yet-initiated publicly wondered why the federal government is underwriting the sale of luxury-performance cars that happen to be electric.
It is a curious thing.
They suggested rescinding the $7,500 tax inducement which the government has been using to “help” electric car manufacturers like Tesla, which sell electric cars that start around $40,000 and which emphasize not economy but performance and style and technology.
Some might look upon the robbing of Peter – who probably drives an eight-year-old Camry in need of front end work – so

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The K-Car

November 11, 2017

Lee Iaccoca gets blame – or credit – for the 1981-1989 Dodge Aires and Plymouth Reliant K-cars, but unlike the minivan, this one’s really not his fault.
He simply took the ball and ran with it.
Though Iaccoca touted the virtue of K-cars aggressively once on board as Chrysler’s newly installed chairman (after having been fired by Henry Ford II), the K-car had been in development since the late 1970s. Management realized that battling the surge of high-quality Japanese imports with vinyl-roofed Volarés and Cordobas decked out in “rich, Corinthian” leather probably wasn’t cutting the mustard. These weren’t bad cars, actually. Just the wrong cars for the times.
They were automotive Aurochs, beasts engineered for very different times.
The

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Cop Says ‘Suspicion Is a Misdemeanor’

November 8, 2017

Here’s a video taken of another “hero” law enforcer who makes up “the law” on the spot!
A guy is filming the publicly visible exterior of a police station from a public sidewalk – which is (for the moment) abundantly legal – when he is approached by two confrontational “heroes” who – of course – demand his ID, Soviet-style.
Not because the man is committing a crime – but because he is challenging the authority of the “heroes.” It is time, therefore, for a Dominance Display.
The fact that this sort of thing is has become routine in the United States says a lot about the state of the United States, which is no longer even plausibly a “free” country. It is a country in which lawless law enforcers do as they please – insolently – because

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The Worst Things About Old Cars

November 6, 2017

There’s a new reason for buying an old car. It’s not nostalgia, it’s not a love for classic lines – though those still come along for the ride. It’s a desire to drive something without all the stuff new cars come with.
To be free of the hassle, expense and Big Brotherism of new cars – which for many of us has passed an Event Horizon of tolerableness. Enough. There’s got to be some kind of way out of here.
And, there is.
Old cars – the really ancient ones, those built before the early-1980s – do not have computers or fuel injection or air bags or back-up cameras. They do not noise-torture you with buzzers if you elect not to buckle up for saaaaaaafety. You can turn the headlights off – and the engine doesn’t shut off unless you shut it

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A Tesla Owner Speaks

November 4, 2017

I’ve been accused of being unfair to Tesla, that I am infected by personal animosity toward Musk (true; I loathe rent seekers) and a general dislike of electric cars (not true; I merely dislike the way subsidies have distorted the market for them).
Well, here’s some owner testimony for you. This guy bought a new Model S – an $80,000 car. He was champing at the bit to get the keys. He most definitely did not have any ax to grind.
Listen to what he has to say about his car:
[embedded content]
This does not bode well for Elon – whose company this week had to ‘fess up to a hemorrhagic cash bleed – $671 million, the worst yet.
Wait. It is going to get even worse.
Many of the “issues” detailed by the unhappy owner in the video – swirls in the paint, poor panel fitment, squeaks

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Automotive Anomalies

November 3, 2017

The ’60s Twilight Zone TV series specialized in the thought experiment – the what if? And the what the hell, too.
It’s becoming like this on the road – and in our cars. Bizarre and contradictory exhortations; injunctions to not do this – while that (as bad or even worse) is treated with inexplicable leniency. Let’s take a trip into the Zone – and have a look at some of these things:
Speed limits –
A better example of the abuse of language would be hard to find. Because speed limits are nothing of the sort. They are, in fact, the minimum speed for any given road. To drive below the speed limit is to be a piece of plaque clogging up the arterial. Even cops become impatient with people who drive the speed limit. And to drive below the

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How the Left Makes Electric Cars Inevitable

November 1, 2017

By making “IC” cars impossible – legislatively – electric cars are to be made inevitable. In this way, the practical and functional deficits of EVs become irrelevances. Just as the Fourth and Fifth Amendments are irrelevant as a practical and functional matter.
The commonalities – the tactics – are interesting.
Naturally, they emanate from the same place.
In the case of the Fourth Amendment, the government simply decreed it had a “compelling interest” to override it at will, whenever it felt like doing so. The amendment’s crystal clear prohibition of any unreasonable search, absent probable cause wasn’t denied. It was simply swept away because it was in the way . . . of exactly the police state tactics those prohibitions were enshrined to

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Experience the Brand

October 26, 2017

New York City is probably the least car-friendly place in the United States. Its streets are perpetually gridlocked and garage fees cost more than rent in other parts of the country. Most people who live in the city don’t even own cars and regard them as an occasionally necessary nuisance. Mostly, they hail a cab. Or they walk or take the subway.
So it makes perfect sense for a major car company to relocate the headquarters of its luxury division there.
Right?
Well, yes – in a way. The new way.
GM’s way.
Which is not to sell you a car. Nor for you to own one. Instead you will “experience the brand” – these are the words of Cadillac’s new honcho, Johan de Nysschen. You will experience Cadillacs in the same way that you experience a stay at

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Why Won’t They Send Me a Tesla To Test Drive?

October 23, 2017

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
If – as Tesla’s carefully choreographed public relations machine maintains – the range issue has been solved and the car’s functional performance (as distinct from how quickly it can accelerate on a full charge . . . once or twice) is as good as implied – why not send me one to test drive?
I test drive new cars every week. All the major car companies (except GM, lately, for breach of political correctness) send me their vehicles for a week at a time, to drive them around and then relate to you how they drive – their good and bad points, etc. This is meant to be helpful to you, the prospective buyer.
But not a single electric car, so far.
How come?
Leaving aside the possibility of animosity – I

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‘No Scheduled Maintenance Needed!’

October 18, 2017

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

October 16, 2017

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?

October 14, 2017

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

October 12, 2017

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

October 9, 2017

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

October 4, 2017

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

October 3, 2017

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

October 2, 2017

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

September 29, 2017

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

September 25, 2017

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

September 22, 2017

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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