Archive for the ‘cars’ Category

Question For My Mechanic Friends

June 6, 2010

I’ve got a little problem. You all know that 1989 Festiva I’ve got, right? Well, the front brakes are getting sort of bad, and I’ve got to change the pads and probably rotors. I took the first step the other day; more accurately, I attempted to take the first step, which is to find out how bad the problem is. I jacked up the car, and removed the lug bolts from the left side front tire. Unfortunately, the wheel didn’t pop right off the hub. In fact, I couldn’t get the damned wheel off at all. I beat the rim from the inside with a 3 lb. hammer, and it didn’t budge.

My question is, what the hell do I do next? I’ve got a few ideas. First, up the ante. Get a full size sledgehammer and hit the rim from the inside again. This used to work for me when I worked at Dunn Tire. The problem is that I don’t have a hydraulic car lift, and I hesitate to beat on such a light car while it’s sitting up on a little tiny jack.

I also thought of just taking the car over to a local place like Dunn Tire or Big D, and having them rotate the tires, and let them figure it out.  I just worry that they’ll refuse to move the tires in the first place, since the rear ones aren’t exactly going to pass the next inspection.  They’re a little worn.  OK, a lot worn.

I am stuck.  Like the wheel.  So what should I try next?


A (Not So) New Car

July 12, 2009

So, I’ve got a Ford minivan, and a Saturn.  Nice enough cars, but since I drive the van  – my wife gets the Saturn due to a longer commute – I get to pay a lot of money every week for gas.  With 17 or so miles a gallon and a 22 gallon tank, the $60 tank fills tend to get my blood boiling.  But what to do? 

Apparently, what to do is just be in the right place at the right time.  Through a confluence of circumstances that worked out very well for me, I now have myself another car.  I got it at an excellent price, and it’s much more fuel-efficient than the van.  It’s not something I would have normally thought of driving, but sometimes fate makes the choice for you.  Here it is…


That’s right…a 1989 Ford Festiva L with a 1.3 liter 4-cylinder motor and a 4-speed manual transmission.  I haven’t documented it myself yet, but it’s said I’ll get about 35-40 miles per gallon.  Not bad for a 20 year old car.  It’s pretty spare all the way around, from the 12″ rims to the AM/FM 2 speaker radio.  But what the hell, there’s barely the slightest hint of rust, it’s clean, it has enough leg room for my 6′ 1″ size,  and it’s got only 56,000 miles on the clock.  Another view:


It’s practical.  It’s plain.  It’s old.  But it’s perfect!

A Sticker Situation

June 2, 2009

One of my friends at work came in today with an interesting story.  His automobile inspection is past due, and like 99.7% of the population, he waited until it was actually late to get the inspection done.  The first place scheduled was the actual VW dealer where he bought the car.  Strangely, they couldn’t do the inspection because they were out of inspection stickers.  Happens.

So then it was off to a local oil change place.  Oddly enough, they were out of the stickers as well.  Not only that, they called several other of their locations, and they were all out.  WTF?

I know this sounds a little paranoid, but it makes you wonder.  Is NY so desperate for revenue that they can’t afford to print the damned things?  Or is this a planned shortage that will be quickly resolved – right after a week-long ticketing blitz?  Hmmmm…..

monday commute

March 16, 2009

I don’t know why else anyone would be on the road on a Monday morning at 8:00 am, but I have a message for anyone out there that is NOT going to work, or is slightly inexperienced at the whole driving thing:  GET OUT OF THE WAY! 

For instance, you in the cute little Honda roller skate:  try cleaning your windshield.  You’ll probably be able to see the light change a lot faster.  And maybe then you won’t get so flustered by the sound of horns beeping that you freeze up and exacerbate the sitaution.  And you, in the leisure-suit-green Ford Granada, might want to let your shining example of 1970’s American automobile engineering warm up in the driveway for a few minutes before tempting the fates on the roadway with a motor that may or may not stall at acceleration for the first 20 minutes of every drive.
One of these days I’m going to lose it all over one of these stupid assholes who thinks that early Monday morning is the perfect time to drive 15 mph under the speed limit and prolong the life of their turn signals by NOT USING THEM.  Seriously, I am just trying to get to work.  If you’re not, get off the road and stay there until about 9:30 am.  The rest of us would appreciate it.

night court

January 6, 2009

I actually have to go to court tomorrow night in the lovely Town of Brant, in connection with a couple of traffic tickets that I acquired a couple months ago on Route 5 near Evangola State Park.  One was for speeding – 56 in a 45.  The other was for an expired New York State inspection.  Never mind the fact that the speed limit on Route 5 between Hamburg and Brant changes between 40, 45, 50, and 55 mph about 10 times.  Bah.

Anyways, I have a question for my lawyer friends, if there are any out there:  If the ticket shows the infraction date as November 6th, but the date was actually November 9th, will that get me out of the thing?  The speeding ticket has the right date, but the expired inspection ticket is dated incorrectly.  In my humble opinion, that discrepancy should invalidate the entire proceedings, but I admit I’m biased. 

And yes, I’ll bitch that if the cops have nothing better to do on a Sunday night in November than sit and watch a practically deserted stretch of road for speeders, crime must indeed be down.  Again, I just might be a little biased.

now i’m ready, thank you big D

December 29, 2008

Bring on the snow, Mother Nature!  I now have some good tires for the van, and I can’t wait to see how well they perform.  I was fortunate enough to score 4 snow tires from my good friend Demo, who no longer needed them for his van.  Thank you, Paulie!

Then, to make the deal sweeter, I went over to Big D Tire in Orchard Park to get the tires mounted and balanced.  It only took about a half-hour.  I used to work at another unnamed tire place that’s popular for sponsoring ball parks (until next season, that is) so I know tires.  OK, so I used to know tires. Anyways, that’s a pretty good time for four tires unless you’re in NASCAR. 

I’ve known Joe, the owner of Big D, for something like 25 years, and I’m glad to see him succeed.  We were always around the hockey rink when we were younger,  did a little partying later on, and he’s a good dude.  He’s in the old Bert’s Bikes shop on Rte. 20 in Orchard Park, at least for a week or so until he moves into a brand spanking new place just about across the street.  There are a couple other Big D’s; one in Tonawanda and another in Cheektowaga.  If you need tires or get a flat or whatever, give ’em a chance.  I’d appreciate it, and I don’t think you’ll regret it.

Also, as a bonus, if you mention my name when you go into the Orchard Park shop, you’ll get a blank stare.  But you’ll always get free coffee.


April 27, 2006

It's been a long, busy couple of days what with the end of the month at work and other family obligations taking a lot of time and energy.  Hopefully, blogging will return to semi-normal for a few days. 

So now I'm waiting for a ride home from work from my wife, because my van needed to be inspected.  Actually, it needed more than inspection, it needed over $600 worth of work to pass the inspection.  Not very cool in the least, thanks.  But at least it ought to stop a lot better with front brakes that work.  Ah, springtime in Erie County – see what the winter did to your car and get it fixed. 🙂

cell phone stupidity

April 21, 2006

Buffalo Pundit has an interesting post that dissects Jim Ostrowski's soon-to-be argued brief regarding the constitutionality of New York State's driving while cell-phoning law.  I spent some few minutes looking over the brief and BP's commentary, and I was left with an interesting thought or two…

Can a law be repealed or declared unconstitutional on the basis of this – "it's a stupid f&%*ing law"? 

I looked at the actual law as suggested by Jim O.  and discovered that it's OK to have the phone in your hand and dial or turn off or apparently even use the text messanger on it while driving.  But don't put the phone to your ear 'cause that's really bad.  Even if the phone isn't on.  At least that's what I gathered.  Fine.  Not unconstitutional, just stooooopid.

The part that I don't get is this.  Why is that not covered by the following law? VAT Title 33, Article 7, Section 1212 is this:

 § 1212. Reckless driving. Reckless driving shall mean driving or using any  motor  vehicle,  motorcycle  or  any other vehicle propelled by any power other than muscular power or any appliance or accessory thereof in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper  use  of the  public  highway,  or  unreasonably  endangers  users  of the public highway. Reckless driving is prohibited.  Every  person  violating  this provision shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Hell, doesn't that cover it?  Cell phones, eating dinner while driving, reading, doing make-up, you name it.  I think you're good here.  If we follow the logical progression, we'll soon have a law that states that it is illegal to drive with your eyes closed.

So, Jim O., go for it.  Don't think you'll get anywhere, because I think the Pundit has some strong arguments as well.  But dammit, we shouldn't have to waste our time fighting ridiculous laws like this to begin with.

tire shopping

April 19, 2006

My wife has been telling me for weeks that she needs tires on her van.  Now, around 1995 I worked at Dunn Tire for about a year and a half.  So naturally I am a complete expert (she thinks) when it comes to getting new treads for the cars we have.  Anyways, I went to Big D Tire over there on Southwestern.  I was in and out in about fifteen minutes, and Jim there was great.  It was a good tire, a good deal, and I didn't even have time to drink the free coffee. 🙂  Now all I have to do is get MY van fixed up and we're good to go for the summer!