QOTD: Dealing With The Metric System

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

I promise that today's QOTD is (likely) the last one I do based on my international travel last week.

It's also something that was already on my mind long before I booked this vacation since I am an American working for a Canadian company.

Yup, we're gonna talk about the metric system.


We Yanks like to think we're in this bubble of Imperial measurements, but many of us, myself included, live within a reasonable drive of Canada -- a place that uses the metric system. I believe Mexico uses it, as well, and many of us live within a short drive of that country. The point being is you don't need to fly across the ocean to encounter the metric system -- you merely need to cross a border.

So I have a few questions for y'all. First off, what's your comfort level with using it? I personally can fairly quickly translate kilometers and kilometers per hour into miles and mph, but god help me if I try to quickly convert Celsius to Fahrenheit or vice versa.

Second, what tricks do you use for quick conversions? I read somewhere that since a kilometer is 0.62 of a mile, you can convert mpg to km/h by multiplying by 1.6. I've run a few 5Ks and since those are 3.1 miles, I just used that as a benchmark -- so for a 20 km distance, I figured it was 3.1 miles x 4, so 12.4 miles.

What do you do?

Finally, here's the big one, the one that might start comment wars -- which system do you prefer, and should America get with (most) of the rest of the world and go metric, or the other way around? Or is it just fine if we're Imperial and everyone else is metric? What about a hybrid -- some measurements are Imperial and some metric?

Sound off below.

[Image: Sylvie Bouchard/Shutterstock.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • Wgmleslie Wgmleslie on Jun 29, 2023

    The USA doesn't use Imperial Units, we use US Customary Units.


    For example, the Imperial Pint has 20 ounces, the USCU has 16.

  • Your Your on Nov 07, 2023

    The "trick" to converting is to not convert. Just use the damn metric system. Honest to God, WHAT are you yanks so afraid of?

  • EBFlex Yawn. It’s still a white refrigerator. A Camry has more soul and passion than this.
  • Jkross22 For as nice as these were at the time, I always preferred the 850, even with wrong wheel drive. Especially the early 90s. In sedan form. The 850R. Mmmmm.
  • FreedMike Well, if you want a Swedish cockroach that's easy to work on, here's your ticket. Tad overpriced but it's an asking price, after all. And those old Volvo seats are divine. It'd be worth a look.
  • SCE to AUX "...has arguably advantaged the Asian nation by subsidizing electric vehicles, it has attempted to prioritize more domestic manufacturing by pouring money atop the relevant industries via the so-called Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act"Seems like you're trying to diss the Biden Administration before crediting its protectionism in the IRA.Chinese-made EV batteries aren't part of the subsidy program, so subsidizing EVs hasn't advantaged China. But the general sourcing of Chinese-made components - whether in a subsidized car or not - does help China.This is a general problem in the US economy. Everybody wants to wave the flag, but nobody wants to be the high-cost supplier, and nobody wants to pay more.The same scenario played out 50 years ago, except the competitor was Japan. At the end of the day, protectionism didn't work, and consumers got what they wanted.
  • Bkojote I'm so glad I bought a Kia Telluride instead of a Toyota Tacoma given all these recalls. I wanted an off roady looking vehicle so I could impress the secretary we hired but instead my wife left me when she saw my phone messages and now I'm stuck making the $1200 monthly payment until I can refinance at a lower rate than 28% even though I lost my job last month. I'm hoping the Kia dealers will let me trade to the new one with the bigger infotainment tooFunny enough the secretary's new boyfriend is driving a Tacoma but with the recall maybe I'll have a shot.
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