Category Archives: Cars

Cars Review Reviews

Anker Roav C1 Dashcam Review

Here is my review of the Anker Roav DashCam C1. One of my current favorite dash cams.

If you are interested in this dash cam you can learn more here http://amzn.to/2soyvCz

Cars

How to change the Cabin Air Filter in a 2011 Honda Accord Crosstour

Another simple car maintenance video. This one is really easy, no tools required and save yourself alot of money. Some dealers charge over $100 for this service, and you can do it in about 5 minutes.

The genuine Honda part number is 80292-SWA-A01 and can be purchased on Amazon

The Mann filter I used is part number MC 1008  and can be purchased on Amazon 

Cars

How to change the Engine Air Filter on a 2011 Honda Accord Crosstour

Made a video on some Car Maintenance.

The Honda Part number is 17220-R70-A0 available at Amazon

Mann Filter is part number MA 1232 available at Amazon

Cars Life Review Reviews Tech

Driving the Tesla Model S

Model S side

The Tesla Model S is kind of the halo “electric” car at the moment, and it really breaks the mold of a stereotypical electric car.  It is fast, sexy, and super high tech, yet drives almost normally. Being a car enthusiast, I had previously driven the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt locally; but with so few Tesla showrooms and service centers in the country, it’s hard to have the opportunity to drive a Tesla, especially in Nebraska.

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to test drive a Tesla Model S on May 3, 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska. I had spotted a post on the Tesla Facebook page saying they were taking reservations for a test drive, so I signed up. They called me the next day and confirmed.

They had 4 cars on display in the corner of a parking lot.  All were the P85 variant (the big battery model), and some had quite a few options, so sticker prices ranged from about $80k-$107k. Quite a few people were hanging around the car that was charging while a Tesla employee answered questions.  Having read several reviews of the car and watching several videos of it, I had quite a bit of knowledge to draw from for my test drive.

My time slot came up and I scanned my drivers license, typed in a little info on an ipad and went for a test drive.  The car is so quiet that in a somewhat crowded environment, people kept walking behind the car when we were trying to back out of the parking spot. Their mouths kind of dropped open when they saw this car come at them silently.

The Driving

Acceleration – Instant torque is addicting. Really addicting.  The acceleration in the Model S is so smooth and linear. It definitely pushes you back into the seat in a very satisfying way. Its speed and power are deceiving because of how quiet it is. In a gasoline powered car the engine gives you an indication of the speed you’re going; the S doesn’t have that, so it was very easy to go faster than the law says you should. It would be interesting to see if Model S owners get more speeding tickets because of it. I can verify that traction control is pretty effective too. When you give the S a lot of acceleration off the line, the traction control will come in and make sure you keep things on the road and straight; it does give the sensation of wiggling around a little though.  It was fun.  Because the Model S has no transmission or torque converter like in an automatic transmission, the car doesn’t creep along at low speeds. Tesla has added this creep mode as a software mode if you miss it. It takes a little getting use to in non creep mode.

Brakes – The Model S brake feel was nice and linear under normal street driving. Tesla has taken an interesting approach, giving you the option of a maximum regeneration mode or a low regeneration mode.  It’s a simple setting on the 17” touchscreen center console.  In the low generation mode, the car will coast much like a normal car with an automatic transmission with low drag.  The downside of this is that it will generate much less energy to put back into the batteries and extend range.  In maximum generation mode when off the accelerator it feels much more like you have downshifted on a car with a manual transmission. The feeling of drag is increased quite a bit. It’s essentially using electric motors as an engine brake by using the electric motor to generate electricity..  It takes a little getting used to since you don’t have to touch the brakes nearly as much in city driving. For instance, when coming down a hill, instead of coasting down the hill you actually may have to just use the lightest input on the accelerator to maintain speed.  The benefits of this is it’s extend range optimally. Tesla says that this also greatly decreases brake rotor and pad wear because you’re not using them as much to slow the relatively heavy car.

 

Steering/Suspension – The Model S is the safest car on the road, and part of that has to do with how stiff the chassis is. That stiffness really adds to the sportiness of the car.  The suspension is stiff, but well damped so it’s not harsh, but also not “Lexus” smooth.  I would call it european inspired suspension. The car corners pretty flat, and in normal street driving hides its weight pretty well, I thought.  That stiffness also made the car feel really solid and well built. Our test car (829 miles on the odometer) had no squeaks or shudders. It would be interesting to compare a model with the sport suspension option. The steering was a nice weight and some road feel feedback.

 

The Interior

The 17” touch screen that serves as the cars center console and main control unit for all configurable things in the car really is the top interior feature.  The large screen and first HD backup camera that can optionally be used when driving were great.  The layout and navigation were really logical and intuitive of the controls and options. The UI was fast, and the cas a web browser build in to search for anything or read a website. Navigation was by Google Maps so it was great and always updated. The only driving control I was hunting around for was to put it in park (I will blame wanting to continue the test drive, I think it probably had enough range left to make it back home 🙂 )

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For what the car cost, the seats should have been better. After visiting the BMW Welt in Germany my benchmark is admittedly a bit high when it comes to seats though. The Model S I drove had the standard seats, and while stylish, they lacked some adjustability and didn’t have enough side bolstering to match the car’s performance.  With approximately a 300 mile range, you’re not as likely to be in one without a break as long as you would in a diesel or gas European luxury sedan in the same price range. The flat floor (no transmission tunnel) was really nice, and made the middle rear seat much more useable.  Someone who is tall might have problems sitting in the back seat without hitting their head on the roof.  The interior design was minimal but nice.  The design of the door handles are by far my favorite interior design feature.  I didn’t care for the dark gray walnut wood trim on the dash, and would have probably prefered a carbon fiber or dark, warmer wood color.

 

Model S door

 

The key of the car is pretty cool, as you would expect. It’s a fob and there is no traditional key.  It’s actually a Hot Wheels sized model of the Model S in black that is a bit more streamlined. Touching the model (key) on the trunk for a second or two will pop the trunk. Walk up to the car with the key in your pocket and the door handles automatically come out and it unlocks. The car is always on and ready to drive; sitting in the driver’s seat and putting your foot on the brake to put it into drive is all you need to do, no push button start or turning of a key. There is also no shutting it off, you touch the button for park and get out, the car locks and shuts off itself.

Model S Key

 

Conclusion

Coming into the test drive the car was already sitting on a pedestal. My test drive was short but for the most part it met and exceeded expectations.  For me the standouts were the acceleration, large center console screen, general technology, and its sexy lines. It’s an expensive car, and for most people it probably would not be your only car unless you had access to something with more range for long trips. That will change as electric charging, especially the Tesla Super Charging stations, becomes more common. For me it would be a great daily driver: fast, sexy, super safe, and minimal day to day costs.  The main barrier right now for most is the cost. It’s still quite an expensive car. Tesla is rumored to be coming out with a less expensive smaller 3 series competitor that will be more affordable for the masses.  By that time they should have a more robust charging network too. That will be more of a revolution for the masses.  Until then, the Model S is a great example of how good an electric car can be made, especially in the USA. It makes a few sacrifices and has some great benefits.

2014-05-03 12.11.06

The Frunk (Front Trunk)
The Frunk (Front Trunk)

Tesla1

Cars News Travel

My Experience Driving the Nürburgring

I am a fan of European cars, so to drive a lap on the Nürburgring has been on my bucket list for a while.  On a recent vacation I was able to tick this one off on the list.  For those that don’t know, the Nürburgring is one of the most famous, complex racetracks in the world.  It is 13 miles long, and has 73 corners, many off camber.  The track elevation changes often, and a dense forest runs on both sides of the track. All of these complexities earned it the nickname of “Green Hell” in 1968 after British racing legend Jackie Stewart won the German Grand Prix there and coined the term. Today the track is used by automotive manufacturers from around the world to test their cars and fine tune suspension, as well as set lap times for bragging rights.  Most of the time the track is open (for a fee) to the general public to to lap their road legal vehicles.

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I did lots of research online about what I needed to know before going to the track, how best to approach it, and what car to rent.  I learned many european rental companies will ban the driver for life if the standard rental cars are taken on the track (GPS verified).  Too many burned up brakes and worn out tires.  Many forums suggested renting from RentRaceCar.com, and they happened to have a car that fit my needs.  I choose a VW Sorocco Cup+.  It was advertised as beginner friendly, it had a DSG gearbox, and had 2 seats so I could take a passenger.  The car had a stock 220hp motor, Bilstein suspension, semi-slick tires, racing brakes, and a half rollcage.  It was perfect.

My Car for the day

Before coming to the track, the internet suggested I practiced on a simulator.  I was very lucky to find a friend who let me borrow his PS3 for a few weeks to practice the track.  (Thanks Frank!) It made a huge difference.  While I didn’t have the track memorized, I at least recognized all of it and knew what to expect in the tricky parts.  Gran Turismo 5 did a good job of representing the track.  There were differences though.  In real life the track was pretty narrow and the elevation changes were much greater than I expected.

 

Early on a Saturday morning we set off for the track, driving from Cologne, Germany. The weather ended up being perfect: sunny, 55 degrees, and low winds.  When we got to the track it had just opened for the day, and was still a bit damp with dew and fall leaves.  I filled out the minimal paperwork, was briefed on operating the car, and rules of the track.  After that I was handed the keys, and off I went for my first lap.

 

I rented the car for 2 hours, and did a total of 4 laps.  My first lap was by myself, no one in my family wanted to be a passenger and I was ok with that.  Since this was my first track driving experience, on one of the most complex tracks in the world, and the track being damp in some corners I took things pretty cautiously.  On the track you keep to the right, and signal with your right side blinker to let faster traffic pass on the left.  Keeping a constant eye on your mirrors became pretty important.  The first lap went without a problem,  I was surprised when my mom said she wanted to be the first passenger.  I never expected it, but I said yes as long as she didn’t say anything.  Her lap was pretty exciting as an Aston Martin passed us in a corner and nearly ran into us. Eventually the entire family went on a lap as a passenger.  Traffic did increase a lot as the morning went on and the track dried out.  I was glad we got there early.  On the track, you encounter just about every type of car imaginable.  On the same lap I passed a Porsche 911 GT3 briefly, and got passed by a Chrysler Town and Country minivan.  There were lots of 911s, and M3s that were pushing hard.  In addition to sports cars, there were 7 Series, SUV’s and even compact cars packed full of people making laps.  The famous karussell lives up to it’s reputation, definitely fun.

Below is one of my laps from the ring.  Remember this was my first time on a track and the track was damp.  To me it looks pretty slow to what I remember.

 

The paddock was truly a car lovers delight.  We pulled up in our rented Hyundai i40 estate.  Parking next to us almost immediately was a modified 997 Porsche GT3.  After my first lap on the other side parked next to the Hyundai was a new Aston Martin with a lady in the passenger seat, dressed the part to be in an Aston.  There was also an Aston Martin club from France that was at the track for the day.  The Porsche 911s and BMW M3s in the lot were too numerous to count: new, old, stock and modified were all represented.  There were also a handful of Ferrari F430s, a 612, and a couple of Lamborghinis.  The BMW Ring Taxi M5s were also making lots of laps too.  On the more rare side of things, there was a Mercedes Mclaren SLR with duct tape, and a newer Radical getting lots of attention.  I could have spent a long time taking photos of all the comings and going.  We did meet family from Florida who was in the military at the track doing laps.  One of their children was lucky enough to get a flying fast lap from someone in the lot who overheard.  It sounded amazing.

I am so grateful for having the opportunity to be in the area and visit the track.  It really was the highlight of my trip.  I would recommend it to anyone who had a love for cars and wants to drive on a track.  If you have any questions leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer them.

Cars Food Life Photography Travel

Italian Vacation Update #3

Our Italian holiday continues. On Tuesday, an Italian National holiday, as we were coming down the curvy mountain road we had a tire go flat. Luckily we had a spare donut and in no time were on the road. The journey took a little longer because we drove on slower B roads but we made it to Montepulciano, a hill town.

In Montepulciano we stumbled into an old copper craftsman. He made everything out of copper and was so charming. We bought a heavy beautiful copper frying pan and are very excited to try it out. The town is very, very hilly which made it good exercise but the climbs were worth it for the amazing views of the Tuscan countryside.

The churches, basilicas, and duomos in the country are very impressive. We have seen many treasured relics as well as burial sites of many famous Italians such as Dante, Marconi, Galileo, Michelangelo, assorted popes, and others.

Although we weren’t in Siena for long, we still saw a lot of beautiful things! We stayed in a hotel connected to a sanctuary and run by nuns. The view was amazing. We spent some time at the Piazza del Campo, where the famous Palio horse race takes place. We went to the Duomo here as well which was beautiful and unique.

In Florence, or Firenze as the locals call it, Jon climbed about 450 steps up to take photos at the top of the Duomo. It was a tough climb but worth it. In the Accademia museum we saw the famous David sculpture by Michelangelo as well as many other famous unfinished works by Michelangelo.


Cars Food Life Photography Travel

Italian Vacation Update #2

For the past 3 days we have been in the Umbria region. We are staying at an Agritourismo which is a working farm. Its location is very remote. It 14km up a small mountain with 78 turns to reach the agritourismo. This has been a big change from the heat and hustle and bustle of Rome. Here we figure it takes us 5 hours to eat our meals which are eaten with everyone on the farm. Below is a photos of some of the pasta we had as one of the 3 courses for lunch one day. It has been a neat experience. However the past few days it has rained constantly. This has put a damper on some of our plans but today we went to the towns of Montefalco, Assisi, Deruta, and Spoleto. While in Assisi we had a good pizza in a small typical Italian café, see the photo below of the half eaten pizza.

Our car (pictured below) is an Alfa Romeo 159 Estate with a 1.9L turbo diesel. While we are not very impressed with the low clearance of the alfa or the stereotypical Italian electrics the engine is great and the highway driving has been fine. Without the Garmin GPS it would be near impossible.



Cars College Life News School

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting 2009

This weekend I attended the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, NE. This was the largest Berkshire Hathaway meeting ever with over 35,000 people attending. This was a surprise to me because of the recession and the stock has posted its worst year ever. Despite this it was a big and busy meeting. The company movie this year was better than previous years even though it was scaled back. The company movie contains many commercials from the many companies the Berkshire owns of owns controlling stakes in. It also contained funny things about the general economic situation as well as guest appearances by celebrities. This year it was Tiger Woods with Warren Buffet as his caddie.

The format of the Q&A section after the company movie changed and was much improved. In the past all of the questions came from the audiences and many of the topics stayed away from the business of Berkshire and instead moved to other topics, it also included protesters which was quite annoying from a shareholder perspective. This year however shareholders were asked to submit questions to 3 preselected journalists who then choose the best questions to ask. This was augmented with live questions from the shareholders in attendance. This format worked much better and kept the meeting mostly on the topic of Berkshire and the general economy.

It was this Q&A section that I found the most interesting. Being a college student in the business school and being interested in Finance, and the markets I found one question more interesting than others. That question I found most interesting were the questions about the use of higher mathematics and modern portfolio theory. Both Buffet and Munger were in agreement that students and investors should stay away from theories requiring computers and calculators. The Wall Street Journal had an excellent article on this and the following quotes below are from this article http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2009/05/02/buffett-and-munger-stay-away-from-complex-math-theories/

Mr. Buffett: “There is so much that’s false and nutty in modern investing practice and modern investment banking, that if you just reduced the nonsense, that’s a goal you should reasonably hope for.”

Mr. Buffett on the efficient market hypothesis, the idea that all information is instantly priced into the market: “There’s this holy writ, the efficient market theory. How do you teach your students everything is priced properly? What do you do for the rest of the hour?”

Mr. Buffett on the use of higher-order math in finance: “The more symbols they could work into their writing the more they were revered.”

Mr. Munger on the same theme: “Some of the worst business decisions I’ve ever seen are those with future projections and discounts back. It seems like the higher mathematics with more false precision should help you but it doesn’t. They teach that in business schools because, well, they’ve got to do something. ”

Mr. Buffett adds: “If you stand up in front of a business class and say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, you won’t get tenure…. Higher mathematics my be dangerous and lead you down pathways that are better left untrod.”

Mr. Buffett on the persistence of bad ideas in finance: “The famous physicist Max Planck was talking about the resistance of the human mind, even the bright human mind, to new ideas…. And he said science advances one funeral at a time, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that and it’s certainly been true in finance.”

To me this is all very interesting because much of this efficient market hypothesis and how to build a portfolio is what I have been learning this semester in my finance classes. It contains a lot of math (Which I don’t like, or understand many times) the formulas are complicated and most of all many of them rely on discounting and future projections. Mr Munger’s quote here I think is right on and seems right to me. I just wish that the end of the semester was in a few weeks. I think we could have a great time discussing a lot of these ideas in my financial investment class.

It seems as though the hedge funds that have tried this “fancy math” theory have failed time and time again. One that we just learned about in class was LTCM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-Term_Capital_Management) which worked good when the market was “normal” but failed hugely when the market was not normal. If history and the past few months show us anything is that the market is not normal and these practices cannot be relied upon 100%. Instead Buffets practice of buying undervalued businesses that are well run and managed.

In the end I think its interesting that the Oracle of Omaha basically thinks that a majority of what I have been learning in Business School is crap, and just time filler. The entire thing just makes me really take a step back and look at what I have “learned” this semester and wonder about graduation next year and what I will be doing after.


1935 Dusenberg SJ553 Beautiful Car

1935 Dusenberg SJ553 Amazing Car