How To

What Not to Say When Buying a New Car

Buying a new car usually requires visiting a dealership. That puts you at a disadvantage: You’re on foreign soil, and they know you don’t know your way around.

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Mirror Mirror: Reflections on Driving in Japan

A few weeks ago, one of TTAC’s Best and Brightest asked for my thoughts on driving in Japan. It’s not the first time the topic has come up. There were several comments in response to the series that documented the importation of my Town & Country, but I’ve been content to avoid the subject up ’til now.

I’d like to say I’ve abstained explaining driving in Japan because I believe my silence fosters discussion. But there’s a truer reason: I dread the scrutiny that follows any article about Japan. I know from hard experience that every westerner who has ever set foot in the country is an expert on every subject, and they will come out of the woodwork to dispute everything I say.

Don’t believe me? Wait and see.

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Swimming Upstream: The Final Hurdle

Since the last installment in this series, my attempt to get the family Town & Country officially licensed here in Japan has slogged relentlessly forward.

After a week of such little progress that I saw no need to report upon it (action was limited to the receipt of my official approval from the recycle bureau), I can begin this by saying that over the past week important things are once again happening. Notice that I didn’t write: “Important progress has been made…”

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Hacking Traffic Lights for Fun and Profit!

In a few weeks, at WOOT (the USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies — an academic conference where security researchers demonstrate broken stuff), a team from the University of Michigan will be presenting a lovely paper, Green Lights Forever: Analyzing the Security of Traffic Infrastructure. It’s a short and fun read. In summary, it’s common for traffic light controllers to speak to each other over a 5.8GHz wireless channel (much like WiFi, but a dedicated frequency) with no cryptography, default usernames and passwords, and well-known and exploitable bugs. Oh boy. And what can we do with that?

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The Manly Art Of Stick Handling

I was browsing the internet the other day and came across a website that purports to be “A guy’s post-college guide to growing up.” Normally I avoid websites like this. I learned about the manly arts the old fashioned way, dangerous experimentation, but since I have been wrestling with an especially verdant crop of nose hair recently I thought I might find some grooming tips and so I decided to check it out. Amongst all the articles on slick, greasy-looking haircuts, sensual massage techniques and the power of positive self-development, I found this handy beginners’ guide on how to drive a stick shif t. Since it was one of the only things on the site I had any real experience with, I looked it over and decided it was pretty good. Naturally, I thought I would share it.

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Toyed With From Behind: Hitting Back

A tailgater is a bully par excellence and his weapon is the “I’m not touching you” game. You remember that game, don’t you? It’s the one where your older brother tries to hit you as hard as he can but always manages to miss by a fraction of an inch. When you flinch or complain to your mom the refrain is always the same: “I never even touched you.” Of course, to keep things interesting, sometimes he does actually hit you – if he always missed you’d have nothing to fear, right? On the road the game is almost exactly the same and nine times out of ten the bully never hits you. But once in a while – once in a great while – it’s “metal up your ass.”

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Threat Level 11: How Do We Mitigate The Danger?

Image Courtesy of: Crushable.com

My dad freaked out. We weren’t going that fast when the old dump truck struggled out onto the road some distance ahead of us and it was a simple matter to just let off the gas and coast for a bit while the old truck worked its way up through the gears to the posted 35mph limit. The road in front of the construction site was a mess of mud and gravel and although I am sure my father didn’t appreciate the muddy spray on the otherwise clean flanks of his Delta 88, he seemed rather unbothered about the whole event – at least until we finally closed the distance and drew up behind the big truck. It was then he read the scene in front of him and jumped hard on the brakes. As the old truck rumbled away he turned to me and asked “Did you see that?”

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How To Become A Car Dealer… Without Ruining Your Life

The car business can be a pain for three distinct reasons.

The first comes from the cars that you sell. Botched repairs. Unhappy customers. Surprises that just seem to spring up and bite you in the ass. I can deal with that.

The second comes from people in the industry. Employees and contractors with productivity issues. The unending myriad of regulations and paperwork. Continuing ed classes with little relevance to reality. I can deal with that too.

What I can’t deal with is…

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Flirtin' With Disaster – Motorcyclists' Thoughts On Defensive Driving

It can be murder out there!

I am always hesitant to write a “how to” article. I learned a long time ago that no matter how good I am at something, there is always someone better right around the corner. For every bad-ass black belt you meet, there is a Chuck Norris looking to teach him some humility. Still, when I know something it’s hard to keep it under my hat so I am going to risk drawing your ire in order to start a conversation. Let’s keep it congenial, mkay?

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Clemens Gleich's Traveller Guide to the German Autobahn, Part 2

Buy me now. Only $ 1.11


Yesterday, Clemens Gleich
brought you Part 1 of his authoritative guide to the Autobahn, due to overwhelming success, today Part 2. If you ask how Clemens became Minister of High-Speed Transport Propaganda – stranger things happened in Deutschland. A formerly leather-clad radical was made Secretary of State, and the province of Daimler and Porsche has a green governor. Expect to be surprised! – BS

2. The Location

Many foreigners think that every Autobahn is basically the same, which can lead to a very unsatisfactory motor vacation, because it is easily possible to spend the whole length of it in absurdly limited sections and road works which means you might as well have stayed at home. There are some passages that not only are unlimited, but also have curvature radii that feel like a straight at 70 mph but tear your face off your skull (or your tires off the asphalt) at 170 mph. The A95 from Munich to Garmisch is a nice example (don’t go there on the weekends, when everybody and their mother will).

You could race down BMWs very own prototype test track: Enter the A92 leaving Munich, turn on the A3 towards Regensburg, at Regensburg go down the A93 towards Ingolstadt and Munich (A9). Rinse, repeat. You will see all those disguised next-gen BMWs and perhaps a few such Audis, too.

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The Traveller's Guide to the German Autobahn, Part 1

Buy me now. Only $ 1.11

Let me welcome you to Germany, English-speaking traveler. I know the two reasons you come here for, because I often meet you at the usual places for going fast: There is a) the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring which to you is the only thing interesting about the Ring, and there is b) the Autobahn.

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How To Sell Your Car

The time has come. After oh so many years of driving the same old beater, it’s finally time for you to pass the torch to the next owner.

God help them.

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How To Buy A Used Car Part 4: Negotiating

When it comes to buying a used car there are two basic negotiating mindsets. You can either be fair and decent or unfair and obnoxious. If you seek to chisel and deceive then chances are you will get a bad car. Only the desperate and deceitful are willing to put up with that type of BS.

Want a ‘great’ car? Then realize that many sellers respond extremely well to honesty and decency. Win – win is no sin. So, karma lovers, here’s some tips for negotiating the purchase of a used car by observing the Golden Rule.

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How To: Invest In A Beater

Congratulations!!! And my condolences.

You have just bought yourself a vehicle that may be worth more dead than alive.

Did you follow my car buying advice? Of course not! You wanted cheap to the extreme and now you got it. Bald tires. Doors that may be lovably ‘scrunched’ just a little bit thanks to those pesky inanimate objects. But hey, at least the ashtray still works.

Now you just have to figure out what to do with it?

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How to Buy a Used Car - Pt. 3: Due Diligence (The Inspection)

[Ed: Part one of Steve Lang’s updated used car buying guide is here, part two is here.]

You can rigorously apply the tests described by previous installments of this series without encountering a single setback. However when it comes to buying a used car, it pays to assume one simple salient fact: you don’t know the complete truth.

At least not yet.

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How Much Did You Spend On Your Car?

Car owners have a warped view when it comes to their automobile’s cost.

When you ask someone the, “How much did you spend..” question, their usual response is to take the price they paid and just let that be that.

“Oh, I got this Mercedes for $50k.” They then will usually go about telling you the options they chose, and other trivial realities related to the car.

But as we all know, that’s not the question.

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How To Buy Your Kid A Car. Sort Of.
This previously published article appears courtesy of my local regular print publication, the North Shore News.

Some dear friends of ours have a pair of twin boys that are just entering their latter teens. I have seen them grow from precocious eleven-year-old scamps to lofty, sullen, intimidating goons. Actually, just joking, they’re both about as sullen and intimidating as a basket-full of labrador retriever puppies.

However, they’re allowed to drive now. Eeep!

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Hammer Time Rewind: Depreciation Kills

From the good old days of 2007…

“Is that yours?” Millions of car buyers spend billions of dollars hoping that this statement will be born of admiration rather than pity. When these words come out of a car dealer’s mouth at trade-in time, they can be especially hurtful– even if the salesman is as honest as their spiel is long. That’s the moment when most car buyers finally discover whether or not their automotive “investment” has walked off a cliff and fallen into the financial abyss known as depreciation.

Here’s how to avoid the freefall.

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Hammer Time: If You Want A Deal, You Have To Pay For It

BCA Auctions in Derby, UK; Courtesy of Zimbio.com

I get a lot of emails from auto enthusiasts. About 60% of what I get comes down to this question.

“Can you get me a high demand vehicle at a disgustingly low price at the auctions?”

The short answer is no. Just as an athlete can’t contradict the laws of physics, I can’t control the free market aspect of a dealer auction. In my world a car is bid on by dozens of professionals until the last man pays the most. If you want a Toyonda or the latest and greatest wheels that are based on yet another ‘”Fast & Furious” ripoff, then you have to pay the premium.

As for unpopular cars, they are a different story.

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Watch This Video, And You Will Be Able To Change A Boxster Air Filter Using Only One Friend And An Hour Of Your Time

How user-serviceable should a car be? Should special tools be required to perform basic tasks? If the car in question is a sporty car, should there be less effort on the manufacturer’s part to ensure serviceability (because it’s a “toy” and more likely to be owned by people with multiple cars) or more (because sporty cars tend to have longer in-service lifetimes and have a more self-service-oriented owner base)?

After performing most of the 30,000-miles service on my 2004 Boxster S “Anniversary Edition”, I believe I’ve become a little more passionate about my answers to the above questions.

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  • Theflyersfan I guess I should have kept my first ever car which was also a 1987 Nissan. Probably could have sold it for $50,000 by now if I was living in this fantasy world where used up 37 year old Nissans sell for the same price as a new Versa. I wish a link was here so all of us can check out this treasure among junk 200SX. The only way this car is even remotely worth that kind of money is if there are illicit substances hidden somewhere in the frame that, as part of the sale, you have to drive across the border and "make a delivery." Otherwise, get that thing off of my lawn.
  • Sobro Needs moar Roots.
  • ToolGuy BIDEN LINKS
  • RHD Questions? None, no, not really. Interested in some random Hyundai? No, not at all. Yawn.
  • Formula m Alfa-Romeo had the great idea to unveil my all time favourite car at the world expo in Montreal. Never built or Sold in North America. The called it the Alfa Romeo Montreal. Never even sold in North America.