The Obama administration officially announced this evening that the Cash for Clunkers program will end on Monday, August 24th. The $3 billion is pretty much gone. Hopefully, dealers won’t get shafted if there turns out to be a deficit, we don’t need something like this to hurt any businesses. If you want to go out and get a new car and trade in your old junker, now is time. Stop waiting or it will be too late. The early bird gets the worm and all that stuff.
The program has been touted as a success, despite a few pitfalls. There have been lengthy delays for the dealers getting paid for the vouchers. This puts the dealer in a serious cash crunch. There are some dealers that have not been able to make payroll and pay their taxes because the money just isn’t there yet.
To combat that problem, all of the major manufacturers (Ford, GM, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota) are offering short-term loans to their dealers that have been hit hard with the delays. Nothing like bureaucracy creating more problems. This all comes on the heels of GM and other manufacturers announcing they were ramping up production to keep up with the new demand for new cars. Hold the presses, you might not want to do that just yet, General.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem with this entire program is that it is costing the American taxpayers. They can say all they want about the coming from other places, but in reality, every cent the government has comes from us in one way or another. I hope we get through this recession and administration soon so we can go about fixing the real problems.
The Woodward Dream Cruise is hands down the coolest car event ever. This year marked my first visit to the world’s largest single-day car event and it will not be the last. We arrived in Detroit on Thursday, and after checking into the hotel and having some dinner, we decided to take the 15-minute drive to Woodward Ave. to get the lay of the land. Little did I know that starting in April, Woodward is loaded with locals cruising, and only gets more packed heading up to the fabled cruise event.
Thursday evening was not so packed that we couldn’t actually drive. There were sections of the road that slowed to a snails pace, and then it would open up and you had some full-tilt drag races going on. I partook in one such race, against a ’70 SS Chevelle, it was so much fun. We didn’t get much over 80, but it was amazing. Special Thanks to Chrysler for providing me with the 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8.
On Friday, things got a lot heavier. The traffic was thick with muscle cars, hot rods and classics. Woodward is a major artery to the small townships it runs through, so there is a lot of non-cruise traffic. You know that those non-cruisers were freaking out for getting caught in one of the 1.5-mile stretches where there are no intersections and it takes over an hour to travel a mile. The Challenger got decent gas mileage except in those gridlocked sections, it went down to 7 MPGs at one point. Read the rest of this entry »
*Picture a 6-year-old girl rubbing two ear buds together and then says “clear” playing as if the ear buds are a defibrillator jump-starting the heart on here headless Barbie. I don’t think that is going to save this poor decapitated doll.
Traveling on vacations and such with children is much different than it was just 10 or 15 years ago. Since then, the entire world has changed. Mobile DVD, satellite TV, and now wireless internet are all available in just about any new car, and can be retrofitted into just about any vehicle. While it certainly makes a long trip more relaxing, it does take a little away from the whole experience. As a kid, my family always took two long summer vacations, at least a week at a time. We went to Colorado at least once, and sometimes twice. I would have loved to have had something to do, a video game, watch movies, anything to pass the time. The speed limit was 55, so it took several more hours to get there than it does now, where driving 75 is no problem. Read the rest of this entry »
Just 10 years ago, getting a TV in your car was a challenge. Cutting up the head rests or paying $3,000 for a small flip-down tv was commonplace. In 2009, just about every minivan has a rear-seat entertainment system from the factory, and SUVs come with the option available. OEM technology has finally caught up to the aftermarket, and in many cases left it in the dust. Case in point- the 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT.
As my family and I are headed to Detroit for the Woodward Dream Cruise, we are discovering the fantastic level of technology loaded in this car. Chrysler lent me the vehicle specifically for this trip, to get an idea of what Chrysler has to offer. I have to say, it is impressive to say the least.
Starting with the 4.0 liter V6 and 6-speed automatic, this minivan hauls. I am certainly not going to sit here and tell you that a minivan is super quick, nimble or any of that, but when you tell it to go, it growls back and pushes down the road. We had no trouble passing on the highway, doing well over the posted limits (I may be driving a minivan, but I am still a gearhead). The best thing about it is that the exhaust is whisper quiet until you floor, it actually sounds like a car with some balls, and it likes showing them. Full-throttle blasts down the interstate are met with ease, the van does not sound like it is straining. For a minivan, its pretty fun. Read the rest of this entry »
I recently read an article by Arik Hesseldahl about where he saw the iPod heading. I was inspired by this article to share my own thoughts on the subject. In retrospect, I saw my post as too similar to Arik’s, so I pulled it down.
It is obvious that I am not a fan of the iPod, never have been. Maybe it is my fear of certain types of change or just the fact that I didn’t come up with it, but to me, the iPod represents something evil in modern marketing. It is forced down your throat and you have no choice but to accept it. But then again, maybe that’s just my inner “crotchety old man” talking.*
What the iPod is likely to become in the next few years will be a serious intrusion into your life. We are already too linked in. I’m currently driving around in a Dodge Grand Caravan with mobile WiFi. Even when I am driving around, I am at work. Not that I don’t like being at work, I love what I do, but come on, when does it become too much?
Personally, I absolutely love technology. The new 1 terabyte SD cards are going to revolutionize media storage. Which is why I predicted iPods will be available in terabyte flash memory soon, within the next few years. Additionally, I see the iPod moving away from the media storage device and toward the pocket-PC (sorry Mac lovers) realm, with a mobile Mac OS and an infrared keyboard. You will be able to be in the office while you are on the subway.
While I was researching this post, I stumbled across an article posted yesterday (Aug 7, 2009) about Apple’s rumored new tablet. The big iPod is scarily similar to what I envision for the pocket version. It is just a matter of time before all of these capabilities are rolled into one portable hand-held device.
While I prefer to listen to my digital music via a Samsung P2 player (just like an iPod Touch, but without a few key features and all that iTunes crap), we may all soon be required to use the newest gadgets from Apple, because it is tied to your 4-year contract with AT&T mobile, your DirectTV satellite provider and is also the keys to your iCar (available in 2-door, 4-door and iEntry).
*Now get off my lawn, ya’ dang whippersnapper.
Congress voted to tell the treasury to print up $2 billion more dollars. Cash for clunkers is now full of money, at least for the next couple of weeks. If you want a new car for a few thousand bucks, hit up the nearest dealership for some clunker action. I am still not excited about the plan. The price of quality used cars is going to increase for two reasons-
1. every jackass selling a car for $1500 now thinks their car is worth $4500.
2. The used car pool, which consists of cars mainly 10-15 years old, is going to be seriously depleted. While these cars will be going into the salvage lots, which will drive salvage parts prices down, buying a running car will cost you more.
While I reported yesterday that the cash for clunkers program has ben suspended, the White House announced late last night that the plan was still on and would be on until at least Friday. Congress is rushing around, trying to put together an additional 2-billion dollars in the fund, pushing the total up to $3 billion. If you want to buy a new Dodge Caliber for 9k, you better do it today, this program may not last much longer if Congress can’t find $2 billion. Of course, all they need to do is look under the cushions of the couches in each member’s office. I am sure they could find at least $2 billion in change from lobbyist’s pockets…….
Well, it was good while it lasted. Apparently, the folks in Washington have gotten spooked by the popularity of the program. I posted about the clunker bill a few weeks ago, and though I was not excited about the plan, it has certainly sparked some deals in the car industry, which needed the boost. So much so, that the auto dealerships have spoken up about the huge backlog that currently exists in the system. Since the Gov allowed the rebates to be retroactive to July 1st, there are thousands of deals that have not been processed. To date, there has been over $96 million in rebates, a total of 22,782 cars. The program was officially launched July 27th, that was last Monday. Seriously? $96 million in less than a week? Since there is such a heavy backlog, Congress called a late meeting today (that’s Thursday the 30th of July) to suspending the cash for clunkers plan. At least for now, cash for clunkers has been crushed.
One of the greatest tools in the audiophile toolbox is math. What? Math sucks you say. Well I say get your calculators out and start working your brain. This will be fun, honest.
In retail, chat forums and lunch rooms across the country the single most common questions are “how do I get my system louder” or “how loud will these subs be”. I can personally guarantee you that you ask ten people this question, including the guys at the stereo shop, you will get 13 different answers and none of them will be basing their answers on facts. They simply do not know how it works. There are some basic physics at work here.
Volume, which is measured in decibels (expressed by dB), is a function of power, cone area, enclosure design, and transfer function. Oh, you knew that already? Ok, sure that last statement might seem a little obvious, but undestanding how they interact togethr is critical to calculating volume. That’s right, you can calculate exactly how loud you system will be. Enough BS, here is the worksheet. You won’t find this anywhere else, send your friends.
This formula requires a few specs. First, you need the sensitivity of the sub(s). This listed on the woofer spec sheet in dB. It is sometimes notated as the SPL of the sub. Next, you need to know how much power your amp puts out. An amp birth-sheet (usually included in the box) will have the actual power the amp displayed when it was tested at the factory. Not all amps come with these. If you do not have such a sheet, you can use the power ratings, or even better, you can test it yourself (that is whole other enchilada and we will get into that another time). Other specs you need are more simple- what type of car do you have- truck, hatchback, or sedan; and what kind of box is it installed in. The enclosure will make a big difference, if it is a crappy home-built box with lots of leaks, held together with carpet and liquid nails, it probably won’t function as well as a professionally-built enclosure (like the Q-Logic pre-fab enclosures- shameless plug) and how many woofers you have. Have fun.
When discussing Q-Logic Q-Forms or Q-Customs, often I get the same question- Why Plastic? With all of the different types of materials available, why use plastic, why not wood or fiberglass? There are several answers to this question, and I will get to all of them.
Wood- Wood is great for the basic flat enclosure. It is cheap, dense, rigid and easy to work with, which is why it is the single most common type of material used for subwoofer enclosures. The problem with wood is that it is hard to bend. It can be bent and molded to a point, but mimicking the shapes of a car is way beyond what regular wood is capable of.
Fiberglass- This stuff is awesome. It can be formed to any shape, it’s strong as hell, super lightweight and costs a fortune. Oh wait, that is not a good thing. The price of fiberglass resin is expensive, and it keeps going up. Five years ago, the price for a gallon of resin was around $30, now it closer to $60. Considering that you can easily use 2 or 3 gallons in even a small two-10” sub enclosure or a gallon of resin for a pair of kickpanels means that the project becomes very expensive. While fiberglass is very strong and resists flexing (to the point that it just breaks), building tooling molds for fiberglass is more expensive than the materials to make the part. The molds must be two or more parts and it takes around a day to make a single set of parts from one mold, depending on the size of the part. This makes it cost prohibitive for use in our type of manufacturing. Sure, building a show car with fiberglass molds is not a big deal, you are only going pull a few parts from each mold and you have bigger budget, but for mass-production, it simply is not worth it.
There are several different types of plastics that are used for manufacturing. I am going to touch on the three most common types.