By on March 7, 2008

ctrp_0801_01_zsmokey_yunick.jpgYeah, you know– trick. Think Smokey Yunick. In case you don't know, Mr. Yunick is widely renowned for tricks such as building a 7/8 scale NASCAR that was significantly faster than the competition and (my favorite) installing extra long fuel lines that held an additional five gallons of gas. 'Cause in racing, it's all about the gray areas. I've also heard non-Smokey rumors of mini-nitrous systems hidden within fake batteries. But today's question isn't about racing. Street driving can be filled with all sorts shenanigans. One that I enjoy: you're zipping along on the freeway when you notice a highway patrol cruiser sitting on the shoulder. Of course, you can jam on your brakes, letting the officer know that you know you're speeding. Alternatively, you can pull up on your handbrake. No lights, and it slows the car. Got a good one?

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32 Comments on “QOTD: What’s Your Favorite Trick?...”


  • avatar
    baabthesaab

    Does anyone remember the ’66 Fords? The hazard flasher, new that year, operated with a switch in the glove box. If you hopped into the car, turned on the flasher and the turn signal, the combination powered the ignition – oscillating, of course. But a light touch on the brake pedal to activate the brake light swich and voila! – steady ignition. With a manual tranny, you could then clutch it in. Considerable dexterity required with the feet, and don’t let go of the turn-signal lever, but you could drive it. Of course hot wiring under the dash worked too, but my way was more interesting.

  • avatar

    Increasing boost on nearly any turbo motor. Usually it’s a hose/cap operation that costs cents (if anything) and 10 minutes of labor. Silvias, DSMs, Supras, RX7s, Z32s, VR4 editions, and I’m guessing Grand Nationals all enjoyed this. Not sure about the European turbo motors, but I think they had more electronic interference than the Japanese ones.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Back in the day when we were runnin’ carbs, everyone knew that if you flipped the factory airfilter cover over and screwed it back down it was good for an extra 10hp on a Rochester Q-Jet. Well, at least it sounded like 10hp.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    My favourite ‘police trick’ is not slowing down at all. I set the cruise control at 99km/h and leave it there. I haven’t even gotten a second glance from a cop yet. Granted, I drive a pavement coloured Chevy Impala, but still. Also, if I want to slow down, I just hit the coast button a bit. Reduces speed, no taillights or tell-tale nose diving.

  • avatar
    Ian Jordan

    My favorite trick is actually adjusting your rear view mirrors the right way. The two side mirrors don’t actually let you see your own car at all, but that’s OK, because it isn’t going anywhere. Cars go from your center mirror up into the side mirrors with no blind spots on most vehicles. It takes a week or two to get used to it, but once you are, you’ll never go back. The only thing that sucks is a lot of cars won’t let you go far enough out on the side mirrors to do this exactly right.

    Here’s a good description of the proper way, from an insurance company of all things!

    Proper Mirror Adjustment Procedure

    Somewhat related to the handbrake to slow down for a cop is using the clutch to kill the cruise control. Once you get used to it, it becomes total second nature and you never use the cancel button anymore. A quick stab at the clutch, pressing it maybe 10-25% of the way down turns off the cruise without even declutching at all.

  • avatar
    Virtual Insanity

    For my current ride? Boost cut killer in the form of a three dollar map clamp, cutting the airbox up with a K&N highflow, removing the shifter counter wieght, couple of washers on the top mount intercooler. Then I decided to spend money on the real stuff instead of cheap ass hacks that might screw stuff up.

    Handbreak trick is fun, I like it.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    When I have a left lane sitter cruising at the same speed as another car in the right lane, I’ll get up reasonably close to his rear bumper – say about 4-5 car lengths away, and hit the high beams. When the sitter hits the brakes to “teach me a lesson,” I turn on my turn signal and use the newfound space to pass him on the right and resume my previous cruising speed.

    On the motorcycle if I’m approaching an intersection and not sure if a stopped car will see me – people often look right at me and somehow overlook me, then pull out right into my path – I weave side to side in my lane. The side-to-side motion of the headlight seems to attract their attention, and probably also makes it seem like I’m approaching faster.

    If I’m stuck in snow in an automatic front wheel drive car, I’ll sometimes press the brakes a little with my left foot while on the gas with the right. If only one drive wheel is on snow/ice, the resistance caused by the wheel being braked will send some power to the wheel with traction, sort of like what a limited slip diff would do. It’s gotten me out of a few spots after other attempts had failed. I’ve never done it, but in theory pulling up on the handbrake in a RWD car should to the same job.

    Whenever I encounter a sudden slowing or stopping of traffic on the highway, I turn on my hazard lights until another car is slowed behind me. I hardly consider this a “trick,” since it’s a pretty standard thing to do in many parts of the world, but it’s unknown in Montreal, and the usual reaction is that traffic behind me changes lanes to get around me, as opposed to starting to slow earlier. Either way, the end result is that I don’t get rear ended.

    Holy crap… setting the cruise at 99 km/h? You do know that they don’t even start pulling people over before around 120 (actual speed) AND that the speedo in nearly all cars reads optimistic, right?

  • avatar
    Mervich

    In the 80’s I worked for Robert Bosch Corp a while, which required 1500 to 2000 miles per week in a VW Golf. I installed a ‘hidden’ radar detector (in the grill) and placed the speaker/noisemaker about three inches above my left ear in the headliner…no missing that alert! Secondly, I wired a DPDT switch in the brake light circuit…one way the brake lights worked normally…the other way (highway mode), no brake lights, but a loud buzzer inside the car would sound (to remind me it was in highway mode). That eliminated the sudden brake light syndrome in a speed trap. Never got pulled over once…not even in Florida! A bit dangerous, but it served its purpose.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Mervich: Nice!

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    JuniperBug: “Holy crap… setting the cruise at 99 km/h? You do know that they don’t even start pulling people over before around 120 (actual speed) AND that the speedo in nearly all cars reads optimistic, right?”

    The speedo in my Impala is within 1km/h of actual speed, as indicated by my GPS system. And the roads around here (eastern Ontario) the cops start pulling over at 100km/h. Plus, since I do most of my driving at night, in rural areas, going 120 seems rather, how shall I put it, f-ing insane.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    Heard about a motorcyclist (R6, I think) leading the fuzz on a merry chase a year or so back. When they finally caught him, they found he he had wired up a toggle switch which would flip up his license plate (so cops couldn’t run his numbers). Big legal problem of course, but a fun idea provided they don’t call out the chopper.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    Thinking about all the fun I’ve had yanking the handbrake in parking lots and/or on public roads has prevented me from trying to use the handbrake to actually slow down at highway speeds. I’m assuming both front wheels are pointed perfectly straight ahead while you’re doing this?

    My favorite ‘trick’ back in Toronto was to postpone traffic ticket trials as long as possible. By the time I actually got around to showing up for a trial, the ticket (which I think was based on the date of the offense, not the date of the trial) would be so old it would expire in a matter of weeks (tickets expired after 2 or 3 years, I can’t remember). That doesn’t work in this wretched state of Massachusetts where tickets stay on your record for 6 years :(

  • avatar
    bobpink

    Back in the day I had a little fun with a Sheriff on the freeway. I was cruising along at 55mph in my Alfetta and spotted a Sheriff cruiser about a mile back or so. Up ahead I noticed that I would crest a hill, go down into a dip, and then crest a hill again. I knew the Sheriff wouldn’t be able to see me for a short time when the road dipped. When he was out of sight I kicked it up to about 70mph or so and then slowed when I figured he could see me again. He did notice that I was a good bit further ahead than before and it didn’t take long for him to speed up alongside me…when I was back to doing 55 mph. Things a twenty-something will do to humor himself.

    As far as a trick, my car is a manual shift and if I have a tailgater behind me I wait until we get to a stop sign to return the favor. Sometimes it just happens to get difficult to keep the car from rolling backwards before I get going. Oooops. It can be kind of fun to watch the expression on the drivers face. Sometimes it gets them to back off and sometimes it doesn’t.

  • avatar
    tdoyle

    On my first brand-new vehicle, a 1988 Nissan Hardbody stripper, with the headlights on low beam, you could gently pull the high beam switch back and energize both the low beam and high beam filaments in the 6054 rectangular sealed beams. Double the light, eh? It was great.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    A trick I like to use in Boston is putting on my right blinker when I really plan to turn left or vice versa. This causes drivers to mistakenly block the path they think I want to take while leaving my intended path completely clear.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    guyincognito : I’ll have to try that trick. Just today I was stopped at a red light in Watertown when a Civic ran a red light and smashed into a Subaru Legacy. The Civic looked like he was going to pull over, then I heard tires screeching and he took off! He was probably drunk or driving without insurance or something. If I wasn’t on the phone I would have chased him (he couldn’t outrun my 400hp beast ;)) but by the time the thought crossed my mind he was long gone. The Subaru driver had a dejected look on his face that was simultaneously sad and hilarious

  • avatar

    In DC in the old days (before ’94) if you got a ticket, it used to be possible to get a hearing, and postpone it once or twice, and they’d lose track, and you’d be home free. I did that once. I’d been driving through Rock Creek Park with the then former head of Medicare (under Bush-1), the beauteous, Porsche-driving Gail Wilensky in my 16 year old Toyota Corolla (I’d just interviewed her at her office, and we both now needed to go down town so I had offered her a ride). After one of the intersections, I ended up behind some idiot going about 20mph. I went out to pass, over the double yellow, some cop came out of nowhere. . . But that’s a different story.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    When I see a trooper, I don’t slow down. Chances are that he’s seen me before I saw him and if he’s not putting the radar gun away as I whiz by, then chances are that I wasn’t his target.

  • avatar
    DrBrian

    don’t tell anyone this
    *looks around*

    but the the hoses at petrol stations are long enough to reach around the car and allow you to put fuel into your car regardless of which side the petrol tank cap is on

  • avatar
    iNeon

    At the Diesel pump, sometimes you’ve got to do the ‘happy super lucky ultra platinum first-class diesel fuel dance’ to get the fuel to flow at a normal rate.

    To do this, one removes the slow-filling handle from the fuel-filler, holds it *high* in the air above his/her head, and shakes both hands and filler-handle in rhythm. Next, the movement travels down the arms to one’s bottom– this is where it becomes fun for anyone around you.

    If you want to add extra interest for those fueling around you to see, you simply add a couple: “OOhhwah OOhwah”s in falsetto.

    Damn right.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    I refuse to tailgate. This is my #1 trick. It makes me happy for two reasons.

    1- get illusion of some clear space on the road ahead of me, plus I can see around car in front.

    2- It confuses, angers, and drives crazy Boston drivers around me. This is a good thing.

    Boston drivers just cannot tolerate this and go to great lengths to get in front of me, gaining the 75 feet and closing up forward to draft distance in stop go traffic while munching or drinking or talking on hands on cell phone.

    I then pass them at toll, since I spent the $25 for fast lane transponder and they didn’t, quite a few years back.

    …So, my boss asks me what my favorite trick is, driving along in his Mazda3 in Toronto. “I refuse to tailgate.” “(incredulous) you think I am tailgaiting” “I didnt say that” He is waving hand at car 50 feet ahead at 70 mph. Room for two Bostoners to jump in. I would be 100 feet back not 50. We then slow to a crawl to get around a 3 car tailgate induced pileup in left lane in otherwise smooth traffic, 2 ambulances on scene. Kid laying on pavement beteween cars, kidseat off to side. Silence for ten minutes and he drops 1 mph for ten seconds then resumes.

    Trick # 2 is cruise control. More comfortable, and get 10% better mileage, and its fun to watch the others who cannot keep steady manual speed as they pass me, then forget what they are doing and fall back, then pass me, in a 30 second cycle.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Well my car is rwd now, but when I was driving a fwd integra I had a pin that I drilled through the handbrake button to keep the button in the pressed position. That way I could use the handbrake to change my brake bias and initiate oversteer without the lever locking in position. This lets you take turns ways faster than normal, but you better practice in a parking lot to get used to it…

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Funny I never thought of using the handbrake when passing a highway cop, I always downshifted for the same effect. Like Ian’s mirror trick. I’ll have to try that.

  • avatar
    B.C.

    The windshield wiper fluid squirter on the back of my hatchback is aimed not downward onto the rear windshield, but up and rearward at potential tailgaters. Not the brightest idea, I know.

  • avatar

    I do’nt understand about the handbraking when cops are present. My understanding is that they have to clock you over the speed limit, that just seeing your brake lights go on isn’t enough. And if you brake with the regular brakes, you are going to slow down faster, so they are less likely to get you. Finally, if they’re actually behind you when they spot you, rather than on the side of the road, they’re not going to see your brake lights anyway.

  • avatar

    Johnny Ro,

    If everyone left 100 feet in traffic, the traffic would grind to a halt when already heavy. And while it’s important to leave enough space to react in time, I don’t see any point in making other drivers mad.

    One thing I do on 2 lane city streets in traffic: if I’m turning left, and have to wait for traffic going the other way, I try to pull far enough to the left so that the people behind me can get around me. I also try generally to be conscious of the people behind me, as well as those in front. And, for example, if someone is tailgating me on a 2 lane country road, if it’s reasonably convenient, I’ll pull over to let them pass. When I lived in California in the early ’70s, people used to do this all the time. I don’t see it there anymore.

  • avatar
    Thinx

    I drive a somewhat conspicuously expensive car and, while most drivers are fine with it, there are invariably a handful of sphincters (usually male, btw) who are not. As I pull up behind them in the passing lane, they tend to take great pleasure in slowing down. I switch on my turn-signal to hint that I will pass them on the inside lane, even moving slightly over – about 9 times out of 10, this induces the guy to switch lanes to block me – at which point I simultaneously abort the lane-change and accelerate in my own lane that they left open.

    I still don’t get what motivates this behavior – what on earth do they think they are getting by delaying my progress by a few seconds?

  • avatar
    YaSo

    The first ‘decent’ car I bought was an 82′ Darsun Sentra. It was pathetically slow, but had good gas mileage, a nice stereo, Ventshades for fresh air in the rain, and a two-click to lock handbrake that allowed awesome bootlegger 180’s.

    (I recommend using grippy front tires with 100,000 mile economy specials on the rear for fun times in a small & slow FWD car.)

    One day, the wipers stopped working. A look under the hood revealed that the nut connecting the two wiper rods popped off and the rod for the passenger arm, still connected to the motor, was jammed. However, the driver’s side was free to move and I saw that if I pulled the rod towards the passenger side, the wiper arm would swing up.

    Being stuck at work with a rain storm coming in forced me to figure something out with the stuff I had on hand. So, using a bungee cord, I rigged it so that the rod was always pulled under the hood and in the upright position. Taking some spare speaker wire, I tied one end to the automatic shifter, and ran the wire through the passenger window (the ventvisors helped here) and tied the other end to the outside arm.

    So, when it rained, I just pulled wire from the passenger window, which pulled the arm down towards the hood. When I let go of the wire, it sprang back up to the driver’s side. A coating of Rain-X helped out while I was adjusting the defroster or changing the radio station.

    This worked so well that both myself and a friend of mine did this on other cars to get out of a jam.

  • avatar
    YaSo

    The windshield wiper trick also saved gas since my friends usually wouldn’t want to ride with me in the rain, meaning we often took their car instead.

  • avatar
    Winklovic

    Thinx :

    I still don’t get what motivates this behavior – what on earth do they think they are getting by delaying my progress by a few seconds?

    A larger penis?

  • avatar

    Probably a lousy childhood

  • avatar

    Thinx: I call these people “pass-me-nots” and there are plenty of people like that out there (especially that go slow on the highway then decide ‘OMG no one go faster than me!!!!’ . Of course it’s a totally different situation when you’re doing 65 on a back road that’s 55 or unmarked and default 55, and someone just *HAS* to pass you to be a dick, then you gun it to give them a run for their money or try to box them out with oncoming traffic (unless, y’know, you see a pregnant wife in labor in the passenger seat or something).

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