Hit the road, jack A letter to the editor in the Allentown, Pa., Morning Call newspaper aired a gripe that quite a few people have probably groused about in recent years: how difficult it has become to jack up a car in the event of a flat tire.
When his neighbor's car had a flat, the writer stated, he couldn't use a bumper jack to change the tire ``because cars today don't have bumpers.'' So ``he got a jack out of the car that looked like a toy and had to crawl under the car on a dirty street to anchor the jack. Then he got the spare that they call a `doughnut' and put it on the car.''
The incensed letter writer continued: ``What gets me is you pay anywhere from $10,000 to maybe $20,000 for a car and they can't give you a decent spare tire. If you're stuck out on the road with a flat tire and you're old or disabled or maybe a female, you are in dire straits, whereas with a car with a bumper, there is a possibility you could change the tire.''
Or you could drop a bundle on run-flat tires, like some of the tire manufacturers would like you to do.
Speaking of spares, have things gone full circle? Check out the TV ads for the Volkswagen Jetta, which boast that a thought-to-be-extinct species—a full-sized spare tire—comes as standard equipment on the car. Who'd-a thunk.
Clearance for landing
If you've ever wished you could soar high above traffic jams, get to work on time for a change and solve your tire-changing problems forever, root for the developer of the ``Skycar.''
Described in a newspaper as ``an obsessive American inventor,'' Paul Moller has produced a vertical take-off vehicle he claims can carry four persons at 370 mph. He and colleagues tested the Skycar recently, marking the culmination of more than 30 years of daydreaming, designing and hard work.
The vehicle, being developed by Moller International, gets 20 miles to the gallon. That's way better than most sport-utes on the market, though we're not sure what kind of fuel it uses.
Initially, Skycar will be controlled by the pilot, the story said. But further development is being done to enable it to be run by computer, allowing its intrepid travelers to sit back, read the paper, sip coffee or whatever. Maybe that'll cut down on road rage, too.
And the best part? No flat tires to change in the rain. Get your orders in early.
Travelling to Mexico any time soon? You might want to consider getting your chariot ``road ready'' for the trip. A U.S.-based firm, Kroll-O'Gara, has been experiencing strong growth in Mexico—not for an auto tune-up service, but rather for its car-armoring business.
An item early this year in Latin America Automotive Insight noted the company fortifies cars for families, businessmen and multinational executives who need such protection. (Just use your imagination.)
The most frequently modified vehicles are BMW, Mercury Grand Marquis, Jeep Cherokee, GMC Suburban, Volkswagen Jetta, Nissan Maxima and Mercedes-Benz.
The average cost for the armament job can range from $40,000 to $50,000, but could go as high as $90,000 if you want the vehicle to withstand an AK-47 attack.
How about a nice pre-owned tank?
A sticky solution
Like poor, defenseless flies on fly paper, some 200 drivers in Brunswick, Ga., had a gooey experience when, according to USA Today, a rubberized tar sealant was sprayed onto a four-mile stretch of U.S. 82 in southeast Georgia.
As the sun heated the material, made from tar and shredded tires, it became sticky enough to stop traffic in its tracks. ``It was like driving into a big mass of hot super glue,'' said trucker Tim Cupp, whose rig will need 18 new tires because the goo had vulcanized and became part of each $450 tire.
Thomas Gill, an assistant transportation department engineer, promised that drivers with damaged vehicles would be compensated. Meanwhile, traffic was detoured while crews resurfaced the road with good old-fashioned asphalt.
Tires have once again played a role in solving a crime—this time in western Nevada, where the phrase, ``Like shooting fish in a barrel,'' applies to the case of a couple of Navy airmen charged with shooting and killing seven pregnant cows. These macho men reportedly admitted to the local sheriff that they ``shot some moos'' just minding their own business.
The duo (who probably suffer from arrested development) were arrested and booked on seven felony counts of grand larceny, the Associated Press reported.
The owner of one of the cows, an area rancher, called the dastardly deed ``totally inhumane. I just can't understand the sporting instinct when a cow just stands there and looks at you.'' One was even shot as she gave birth, investigators said.
Both men allegedly confessed to the shootings, but gave no apparent motive. Investigators caught them by tracing a license plate and matching tire prints in the area to the suspects' vehicle, which contained numerous shell casings.
Any suggestions on a suitable punishment? Remember, we are, ahem, a civilized nation. Most of us.
Goodyear recently commissioned a poll on a juicy topic, but it's doubtful you'll see it on the Jerry Springer Show any time soon. The company wanted to know how men and women treat their cars (but not each other). Among the findings:
86 percent of the men and 67 percent of the women said they will gladly wash, wax and detail their cars (though we assume the guys would like to see their significant others do the work, and vice versa).
Although they can afford a new car, 35 percent of the men and 27 percent of the women said they will keep the one they have.
More men than women talk to their cars (rather than have a meaningful conversation with their significant other?).
Of those surveyed, 61 percent of the guys and 55 percent of the women said they sing in their car (just glance in your rearview mirror or look in the car next to you sometime—they're either singing their hearts out, or are talking to themselves).
When asked whether they would rather kiss their in-laws or their cars, 38 percent of the men and 24 percent of the women puckered up and chose warm lips on cold iron. (Sorry about that, Cuz.)