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Sunday, 10 December 2023


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The use of that tool as a door handle seems like a nice enough way to visit your car mechanic… I can‘t believe that pulling down on that single screw (sometimes two?) was envisioned while designing that bracket for the door closing mechanism.

Maybe this is all far afield from TOP's mission statement, but all these gadgets are more relevant to me than another new lens or camera.

Except for the car door grab handle. I won't be needing that, because both my cars are so easy to enter and exit. That's among my main car-choice criteria. To feel comfortable, I need a car that stands about my own height. The seat must be adjustable to my preferred hip height, so I can step in as easily as sitting in a chair. Unlike most of today's truck and SUV buyers, I refuse to climb up into the vehicle (and my legs aren't long).
Like 20th Century auto baron Walter Chrysler, I insist on a car I can wear a hat in! (He said that around 1960, when men stopped wearing hats...)

The roster of vehicles that meet those requirements isn't long. For me, a 2017 Ford C-Max PHEV handles the short trips, giving 65 mpg lifetime. My Mercedes GLK 350, a 2014 recently bought with only 12,000 miles on it, is optimized for road trips and utility chores. Both are great cars in completely different ways, both comfortable, reliable and rewarding to drive. The Ford is very low-slung, but a higher seat makes up for that. The Merc's stance is like high-water trousers - a low seat in a high car (that's still has a foot lower profile than most current SUVs). Both are sportier than they look: the C-Max is a rebodied Focus, with crisp, Euro-developed steering and ample power. The GLK, with robust V6 power, has a wide, boxy and compact body that reminds me of one of my old GTIs, all growed up.

Forget those little electric air compressors, they’re awful. Get one of these https://www.amazon.com/Portable-Bike-Floor-Pump-Automatically/dp/B07G11BC6J

I don’t have that exact one but one like it. It’s faster than the electric pumps, can go to a higher pressure, because bicycle tires take much higher pressures than automobile tires. Oh and btw, cars use “Schrader Valves”

Putting that kind of torsional load onto a part designed for a load in a totally different direction?

No. No. 1000 times, hell no.

I'm sure it's mostly just that the tech now allows hand-portable and reasonably cheap jumper units; but it feels so much like people really love not depending on the community of drivers to get them started when the weather gets nasty.

For me...that portable jump unit would never be charged when I needed it, so it's not useful. I carry real jumper cables. 95% of their use has been to help others.

[Project farm compared jumper cables. There are lots of potential problems jumping from one car to another with modern cars, apparently. Also as I understand it the modern jumper packs do not need charging very often; all they provide is a big dose of amperage every so often; they're not running anything continuously. So they don't drain fast. You can use them multiple times before having to recharge them. And they're certainly easier to use to help other people! You don't have to position both cars and the front of the disabled car doesn't have to be accessible. Disclaimer: IANAE. --Mike]

Mike, how do you charge it? USB cable? How long does it take?

Be forewarned:
The "umbrella rule" you cited also applies to HOMPOW units.

Ordered a jump starter and got it from the company website. No worry about counterfeit items and the price was better than "big A".

That toy air compressor (two minutes to add 20 psi??) is rated for a five-year life. No thanks at that price!

I wouldn't use that "assistance handle" thing to help get out of the car, unless you want to repair the scratched paint around the door latch every year! My car has assist handles above the top of the door.

That charger is much cooler than the NOCO I bought about a year ago after my battery died in March in Toronto. (Plus the manual door luck was frozen and it took a LOT of time and effort to get into the car.) Luckily my daughter’s boyfriend had a charger pack and after jumping the car battery back to life I left for home - I filled up the tank first but left the car running. That’s something I would never do otherwise, but I didn’t trust that I could start again.

The battery was brand new so I was able to get an exchange at no cost. My mechanic told me that battery quality has gone down significantly in the last few years, so don’t expect a brand new battery to last, IOW, “They [truly] don’t make ‘em like the used to.”

A secondary benefit of AAA is that one can get discounts for many purchases: restaurants; hotels; car rentals; travel insurance; fuel, eye wear; personal insurance; various retailers; and more. I often forget to ask about AAA (or AARP) discounts, only to be pleasantly surprised by savings. One can quickly earn back the relatively modest annual fee ($75).

AAA Plus is a necessity, like insurance and in NY State, four snow tires. Just part of the "cost of doing business" if you're going to drive a car.
I've had AAA coverage all my driving life. I was lucky, though; when I was an impoverished student (and later, an impoverished portrait photographer) the membership was often a Christmas present from my mother (God bless her).
I do appreciate your research on battery jumpers, though; I was unaware.

Think about this...when everyone is driving electric cars how do you jump start them?
You can't ! Your out of power!

Or they could put decent batteries in cars instead of the lead-acid monstrosities.

Left to my own devices, living in the city, I will go months without driving, with the result: dead battery. This has happened to me multiple times, and of course, it takes months of inactivity for me to even find out about it.

As for the bike pump to inflate car tires. I guess you could do it, but you'd have to pump for a while. Even nice bike pumps don't have that large a volume of air per pump. But also, don't worry about which is Schraeder and which is Presta. If the pump has only one, surely it will be the car kind, and if it has both, the wrong kind will fail to fit in an obvious enough way you won't break anything.

Re. Marilyn Nance's comment that "Your flashlight should be one that has a winder since batteries are always dead when you need them"…Well, no, that advice is quite (since late 1970s) obsolete. Instead, simply use lithium iron disulfide (LiFeS2) cells; e.g., Energizer's L91 (size AA) or L92 (size AAA) non-rechargeable batteries. They'll retain ~ 95% of their original energy after 20 years of passive storage, and they'll never leak. Here's a good source: https://www.batteryjunction.com/energizer-aa-ln91-opt

Mike, I'm mildly surprised you were able to find a paper map. My students (I tutor High School, mostly) are generally amazed that I still refer to them. Of course, turn-by-turn directions are easy, but I think they foster a narrow view of where you are. I worry that my students don't get a good idea of geography, from the city they live in to the world.

It looks like solid-state lithium batteries (solid electrolytes) are next up for release. They are apparently lighter and have higher power densities which would be great in an EV. Wikipedia says all the car makers are currently working on solid state batteries and a company named Yoshino has already released a solid-state portable power station.

Yeah, positioning flexibility is one of the really clear advantage of the modern packs!

Sometimes you have to eliminate the problem. Well out of our affordability but soon enough there would be a Ford truck that can be both power generator as well as a car that plug in. If you have two (as backup to each other :-) and a solar/wind/... station. Very science fiction but for those who live in house or even have a large garden that might be what the science novel described about (at least not those by can android sheep dream etc. but say Asimov.

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