Big Engines, Bigger Problems!!!

solar_flight02_sized.jpgThis piece is not about cars in particular. I’d be talking about planes. Planes have bigger engines and generate more hydrocarbons than automobiles. The automobile industry has seen a swift shift from the use of fossil fuels, to alternative sources of energy. And by the end of 2030, the production of internal combustion engines should cease. Cars are becoming clean and green. What about planes? So I decided to satisfy my curiosity. I once read about a solar-powered plane being tested a few years back. I checked online to see if solar energy is the only consideration to wean planes off fossil fuels. I found out a number of biofuels are currently being tested. Some as independent sources and other in combination with the traditional jet fuel. I also found out hydrogen is also being tested. Oh, what a relief. It’s possible to reduce emission of hydrocarbons on land and in the sky. I bid all researchers to keep pushing the frontiers of possibilities. The future really depends on us.

A Closer Look At Your Car!

Dodge_Viper_SRT10_Roadster_by_rivuletHow well do you know what you drive? Not all 2008 V.W Passats are the same. We have those with 4, 6 even 8 cylinders. Between 2010 and 2016, Toyota has played with the corolla engines; from 1.8 to 1.6 to 2.0. The fact that your car looks so identical with your friend’s car doesn’t mean you both drive the same thing.
Identifying the specifications (or trim) of your car isn’t a hustle. I’d give you a few pointers:
– what’s the engine capacity?
– how many cylinders?
– is it a rear wheel, front wheel or 4wd?
– what’s the rim size and tire pressure?
– what’s the fuel tank capacity?
– what’s the year of make?
– is it a custom, luxury, sports, limited or regular edition?

These are basic things every car owner should know.
Here in Nigeria; we are not big on emission numbers or gas consumption to the mile, but they also matter.
Read your car manual. And when you go to your mechanic ask questions. Check groups and forums online for FAQs about your car. Don’t just assume or listen to someone because he drives a car that looks like yours. Be aware. Knowing your car better won’t make you James Bond or Jason Statham or Vin Diesel or Iheama. LOL… It would make you handle and care for your car better. And in turn, your car would serve you well.

Thank you for your time.

We Are Back!

This morning; I noticed one of my colleagues searching online for tips on how to buy a car. I wasn’t peeking; she was holding her tab just right in my line of sight. LOL2013+Interior-Gear-BMW-5-ActiveHybrid-View-588x420.

It got me thinking about what non car-fanatics visit car sites/blogs for. Someone who isn’t much of a freak isn’t interested in the specs or price of the new Bugatti Chiron. Or if the Bentley continental flying spur is still the fastest sedan. Or how the Lykan was tweaked to fly in furious7. Or whether Bruce Willis jumped out of a moving car in red and jumped into a moving car in red 2; or it was all video editing and tricks. No.

Non car-fans are interested in the simple stuff. How do I buy a car? How do I manage my fuel? How do I read the specs of a tyre before I buy it and what should I look out for? Can I buy a flooded car? What are the chances of being scammed when I try to buy a car online? What is i4, v6 and w12. What’s the difference between carburetor, injector and turbo charger? What’s the difference between oven baked and normal car spray painting? Will alloy rims make my car heavier or have no effect? Is there any advantage of driving auto over manual?

These and many more are the questions that drive them to car sites/blogs. As I resume car blogging again; I assure all my readers (car fans, drivers and everyday people) that you would never find this space boring or incomprehensible. Stay tuned.

Questions and articles are also welcome.

Car Wars III

Welcome to the world of COMFORT; where machines do the ‘struggle’. Your car anticipates and shifts you to the next (higher) gear. Acceleration and deceleration are smoother than a knife gliding through butter. I’ve seen (no jokes) a guy driving with his right hand and his left knee hanging out of the window. Strange things happen here, and I have my own story too. 2 years ago, I went out with a friend. He didn’t park well and left the key for me to do it right. In the spirit of ‘comfort’, I sat in my seat (the front passenger’s seat), turned on the ignition, shifted the gear to ‘R’, released the emergency brake, moved back, shifted it back to ‘D’ and parked well. No stress. And everybody was happy. But automatic gear transmission cars are not perfect, don’t be deceived. In my opinion, manual gear transmission cars already won this tug-of-war even before it started. I’d show you.

They’re easy to drive. We all know this.
The transmission flow, acceleration and deceleration are smooth. You don’t have to physically shift the gear. And yes, there’s no clutch. Your feet stay calm like leaves floating on still water.
Automatic transmission cars are better for short trips. And also easier to handle in heavy traffic. Most of my friends in Lagos (Nigeria) have ‘ported’ from the manual to the automatic world. You know the reason, don’t you?
(You may not believe this; but there are cons)
They’re more expensive to buy and maintain.
They’re slower than manual transmission cars, because they have a longer transmission response. This also means they consume more fuel… and the noise? Not cool!
They’re boring to drive. For people who have been driving manual transmission cars for 5 years or more, switching to automatic is boring. My Mom’s first day driving an automatic transmission car was so funny (she’s been driving manual cars for 20years + and counting), she asked me, ‘what do I do with my left leg’? Good question. To counter this, especially when I’m the only on the car, I listen to music.
And the “Nigerian question”? Can you push or jump-start an automatic transmission car? Yes and yes. To push an automatic transmission car, put it in N (neutral), that’s all… to jump-start; I’ve read many articles on that. The summary; put the gear in D2 and jump the car. That is dangerous. I’ve never tried that. I’d advise you to get a jumper-cable and save yourself the trouble.

Now you’ve seen why the manual transmission wins. You can overcome only nos. 3 and 4, but not the first 2 cons.

Car Wars II

Welcome to the manual world; where things happen fast with the move of your hands and sequential use of your feet. The number one rule here is SPEED. The manual gear transmission cars were the first to arrive; so they deserve our respect. Their existence today demands our respect even more. Nowadays, we have automatic transmission cars with ‘sequential sports shift’. But I dare say; manual transmission and sequential sports shift are not the same… the functions are there; but the feelings and activities that characterize the manual transmission are lost. Not a bad idea though.

Manual transmission cars are cheaper than their automatic counterparts. They’re also cheaper to maintain.
This is my favourite: manual transmission cars are faster, because they have a quicker transmission response. I can do 1-100kmph in 8seconds (forgive me, I don’t drive a Bugatti).
The fact that they’re faster also means they consume lesser amount of fuel, than their automatic counterparts.
Manual transmission cars are better for long journeys. (ref nos. 2 and 3).
Manual transmission cars have a better handling. You’re actually in control of your acceleration, deceleration and gear choice. You’re the one driving; not the car driving you.
This is a test of strength, endurance, timing and reflex… manual transmission cars are truly physically exhausting. There are days when I’ve had to turn off the engine in heavy traffic. I’ve experienced back aches and numbness in my feet so many times. Manual transmission cars ain’t for boys. Beware *LOL*
Now, this is where so many fail: this is the test of accuracy. How do you find THE BITING POINT? How do you balance the clutch and throttle? This is where so many retire and embrace the ‘automatic life’. I’ve seen grown men sweating and struggling in their cars, looking for that elusive biting point. One of my friends has a law; ‘once you’re driving a manual transmission car, you’re pardoned if your car ‘goes off’ 3 times or less’. I’ve been embarrassed many times in traffic because of this. And if you’ve ever driven a manual transmission car, you know this. The green (traffic) light comes on and you joyfully put the gear in 1. Other cars start moving and you attempt to join them, then the engine ‘goes off’! Oh, the choir of yelling, varied car horns and swear words in diverse tongues… *LOL* Not to worry, you’d overcome this with time and constant driving.

In my opinion, the CONS of manual cars are not disadvantages at all. This is so because they’re surmountable. Once you’ve mastered the art, they take their place/s in the driving museum of your mind!

Car Wars I

In this post (and series of posts), I’d be comparing the automatic and the manual gear-transmissions cars. I’ve done a little research; and I’d also be telling about my experiences with both. I’ve been driving manual transmission cars for well over a decade now. But I didn’t start driving automatic cars till 2011- before then, I had the assumption that they were for lazy people.
Two-thirds of the cars I’ve driven till date are manual transmission cars. So, personally, I’m biased towards the stick shift. The only automatic transmission car that gave me the chills and thrills of a manual transmission car was the Ford F-150 (double-cabin; V8, 5.4L). Its huge size and sheer power is breathtaking… I savored every second behind the wheels. All other automatic cars I’ve driven were boring.
Meanwhile, manual transmission cars give you raw power (yes, raw; not refined), speed at its highest form, maneuvering and transmission response at the speed of thought and much more. The level of activity is also worthy of note- you can’t be bored.
Last year, I went out with my uncle to do some shopping, and I took the Golf Mark4 (automatic), because he liked it. I was asked to get some more things with my cousin, so I decided to take the Passat B4 (manual) *I’m sure you’re wondering! Yes, my family members are V.W fans* on our way out, I told him I preferred manual to automatic transmission car. He gave me the blank stare, and I smiled. It was raining then, and the manual transmission was the better choice; for dodging pot-holes, braking abruptly and picking up speed with ease.
Today, many young people prefer the automatic transmission for varied reasons. I only know 3 of my friends who prefer manual transmission cars. Not encouraging. The 2 major reasons the automatic transmission fanatics hold on to are; the comfort they get in heavy traffic and on bad roads, and the fact that manual transmission cars have a knack for ‘shutting down’ in odd places and at odd times. I can relate to the latter more.
Really, both cars have their pros and cons… Grab your pens and pads (and tabs), because I’d be telling you some secrets in the next 2 posts.

Your car needs these too!

Emergencies do not send us any arrival message/notification. They just show up… anywhere and anytime. So ridiculous. Having a flat tire in the middle of nowhere when you have no jack could be frustrating. A fire incidence could be equally frustrating when you have an expired extinguisher or none at all. I’d be listing 12 emergency equipments you should have in your car. Some you already know/have. Some you’d be hearing for the first time. Let’s go…
NOTEBOOK/JOURNAL + PEN: what do you need a notebook for? I’ve never used a car without buying and keeping a journal in it. I learned this from my mom. She’d make notes of her visits to the mechanic; what the problem was, what was changed/fixed and the next appointment (if any). You could also add when last you did your car’s alignment and wheel balancing, painting, or body work. If you are keen on numbers like I am; you could also note your car’s mileage (at the beginning of the week and the end of the week). This will help you estimate how much you travel weekly, daily and you could also calculate how much fuel you use in a week.
FLASHLIGHT: if you’ve ever had to change a flat tire at night or had issues with your car at night, you’d know the Importance of a flash light.
EXTINGUISHER: nobody wishes for a fire incidence, no normal person does. But if it happens, or it happens to another road user; you’d need an extinguisher.
TOOL BOX (SCREW DRIVER, SPANNERS + JACK): you are neither an engineer nor a mechanic; why do you need one? It’s not all the time you have car trouble you’d be able to drive to a mechanic. Sometimes, the car just refuses to move in the morning, at home. Or it breaks down on your way from work. If a ‘Good Samaritan’ comes along, s/he may need these things handy. When you call you mechanic, he may not be able to bring all his tools if he doesn’t have a car also. So, you are making things easier by having your own tool box.
FIRST AID KIT: accidents happen; but no one wishes for them. It’s safe to have a first aid box handy in your car. It should contain the basic things; scissor/blade, gauze, plaster, cotton wool, bandages, methylated spirit or any other cleaning agent, a dressing agent and some pain killers.
BRUSH & TOWELS: you’d need these when you want to clean or wash your car. Or when there’s an emergency; someone gets injured in your car and there’s blood all over or a baby throws-up in your car.
JERRY-CAN: if you’ve ever run out of gas or needed to get water for your radiator; you’d know the importance of this. I’d advise you have 2 (1 for water and 1 for fuel).
C-CAUTION: you need in case of an accident or a break down; to warn other road users and prevent further accident/s.
FOOT-MATS: these are for aesthetics, you’d say. But they’re also useful in case there’s an accident or emergency. If you are driving and you run into an accident scene; you could use your foot-mats as blankets, you could use them to carry the victims. You could also use them to fan the victims or to protect your clothes when you want to check something under the car.
TOW ROPE: you’d need this when a towing vehicle isn’t available. This is recommended for those who travel a lot. You may need someone to tow your broken-down car or help tow someone else’s car.
JUMPER CABLES: instead of jump-starting your car every time the battery runs flat and ruining the engine; get a jumper cable/cord. It will save you the stress.
CAR MANUAL: used (tokunbo) cars are all over now, so it will be a wrong assumption to say “all cars have user’s manual”. If your car didn’t come with any, no worries. The internet is your friend… just download one and use it. There are things your mechanic doesn’t know and cannot tell you about the car. The people who made your car already thought of this and came up with a user’s manual. Get one and if you already have, use it.

You may also have other ideas of things that could be useful in the car in case of an emergency, be kind to comment and add to this list. Cheers.