RepairPal Blog:

 General Interest

Gas prices? The future of hybrids? Find out what's in the news today!

The other day, my neighbor, Kyle, needed to take his car to the shop because his engine was overheating. He asked me to come along so I could give him a ride home. I was also curious to see what shop he went to. I love the shop that I go to (Luscious Garage), but I haven’t really compared it to other shops in San Francisco, and I wanted to see why he picked the shop that he did.

Where I grew up, in the South, it was pretty common for folks not to wear seat belts. As for myself, I can’t remember not wearing one, and as I grew up and began to notice more things about the world around me, I began to wonder why people didn’t. It seemed to me, at least in the South, that not wearing a seat belt was an act of rebellion, a sort of last-ditch, post Civil War revolt against the powers that be. Southerners are a proud people—myself included—but we can take that pride too far, and the seat belt thing seemed like just another example of misguided disobedience.

Many of us have had the unpleasant experience of innocently driving along when an errant piece of gravel or other mysterious road debris suddenly puts a dent in our vehicle's windshield. And many of us have had the even more unpleasant surprise of the little nick becoming a five-inch jagged crack a mere few hours or days later.

I think I have mentioned before that I am a worrywart. And now that the rain has started again in the Bay Area after lying dormant for eight months, I am worried about my tires, especially after doing an unintentional little squealy at a light the other day. How do I know when it’s time for me to change my tires? Can I look at the tread and know? Do I replace them after a certain time? After a certain amount of mileage? Does it depend on where I live? I wanted to tackle this subject before it rains again, which might be as early as this weekend. Here’s what I came up with.

When most of us heard about the recent death of celebrity plastic surgeon Dr. Frank Ryan due to texting while driving, we were saddened, but not surprised. Many of us thought that Twittering about a dog while navigating the sharp curves of a Malibu highway was an unfortunate way to go, but few of us could judge him considering how often we do it ourselves. A recent study revealed that 81 percent of drivers admit to texting while driving—and that’s just those who admit it. Here are the facts:

When I first started driving, I was worried about everything. What if I have to parallel park? What if I hit something when driving through a tollbooth? What if I get stuck on a big hill with a manual transmission? What if I start to skid on black ice? Do I turn into the skid? Away from it? I have mentioned before that I am a worrywart, but luckily, most of those car-related fears have gone away in my nearly twenty-year driving career.

The constant and erratic rise and fall of gas prices over the last few years has always bothered me. During this time, we have never experienced gas shortages like we saw in the 1970s, yet “supply and demand” has always been blamed for the rise and fall of oil prices. I find it hard to believe that simple “supply and demand” can cause oil prices to change so quickly and dramatically, especially when the available supply of gasoline has remained steady.Common sense suggests there is more to this than just supply and demand. It is my belief that speculation in the oil futures market is what has caused the dramatic rise and fall of gas prices over the last few years.

Even after all of the discounts for being a good driver, having home owner’s insurance, and being a long-time customer, Americans still pay an average of $1,000 a year for auto insurance and rates have been climbing even faster than inflation in the past few years. So, how do we keep up? What discounts are on the horizon? Apparently, the next big step in reducing the cost of auto insurance will be the installation of new driving monitoring systems, such as in-car video cameras. Various systems, including GM’s OnStar, have already been checking up on drivers, including how many miles they have driven, but the new technologies will go further—much further—by gathering data on how people drive.

I am a lucky girl. I don't have to go into the office that much, and when I do, it's a reverse commute. I have to drive from San Francisco to Emeryville in the Bay Area of CA, and while I am driving a steady speed, I see the poor folks who have to sit in traffic on the Bay Bridge, at the toll booths, and all of the arteries that feed into the bridge. It's awful; they barely move and there's nothing they can do about it. I can't imagine having to do that five days a week. Something inside me would break and I am extremely fortunate to have a job that lends itself to telecommuting. But some folks don't have a choice, and I always wonder what they do to entertain themselves and keep from going crazy, having to do that day in and day out.

Recalls are rampant. As a shop owner, I get daily email updates about recalls and they are starting to fill up my inbox. For many of us, purchasing a car is one of the most expensive decisions we will make in our entire lives—shouldn't it be worth it? At least we know that under federal law, auto dealers cannot sell vehicles that have been recalled, but did you know that this restriction does not extend to rental cars? Whenever you rent a car, you could be driving around in one that has been recalled.