car tuning

28 Sep 2007

New british highway code 2007

I see that Britain has a new updated highway code today with some 29 more rules and another 40 pages compared with the last edition. A Torquecars member first gave me the heads up and then I heard reports on the radio this morning. Journalists have seized on an attention grabbing headline which implies something along the lines that smoking in cars is illegal!

In reality it is drivers who cause an accident whilst smoking at the wheel will now be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention. Listening to loud music, talking to passengers, eating food, drinking from a cup or bottle and reading maps are also highlighted as examples of driving without due care and attention (do we really need this pointing out to us!) I have often wondered about smokers - lighting up at the wheel will usually take a great deal of attention from the road and often means taking both hands off the wheel and this seems more dangerous to me than using a mobile phone. At the moment this is just a guideline but we can surely expect smoking in cars by the driver to be formally outlawed. Coming soon a hands free smoking kit to a car part shop near you.

The driving theory test has also got harder with more questions to answer. I wouldn't mind betting that most drivers on the roads today would fail the theory test. Especially judging by the amount of people that can't use a roundabout or even use their indicators correctly. It would not be a bad thing to introduce a compulsory theory retest every 20 years as a refresher course to drivers - a lot of things can change in 20 years.

Tougher penalties apply to motorists who cannot give the details of a driver who was in charge of the car when caught by a speed camera. The owner of the car is now liable to points and a fine if they fail to name the driver. Other minor changes include alterations to the wording about riding horses and bicycles on our roads.

24 Sep 2007

ModdedUK - car show in Kent

I went to the ModdedUK car show in Kent at the weekend. The weather was fantastic and the turnout was also good. I managed to set a new record of 997 photographs and 15 minutes of video footage! I'll get these posted up on Torquecars as soon as possible.

The quality of a few of cars on club stands left a lot to be desired but many had really made an effort and there was some awesome cars on display. The drag strip was shut down. The Monster truck show only lasted a few minutes. There was very little in the way of trade stands and the trade hall was empty. Awards were given to demo cars made by companies with big budgets. Litter! I was tripping over bottles every few minutes and there were sadly some reports of morons throwing bottles at some of the show cars! It isn't hard to enforce a no bottles ban and would really deal with these fundamental issues.

It was nice to meet the guys from Modball and they had some impressive rides on show. Many other clubs had really good stands and some very lavish cars on show such as X2-C, Force the limit, Ecruze, B-carz Showcarz and Hants-cc to mention but a few (Respect to these guys for keeping the spirit of car modding alive!)

Everyone I spoke to around the site was very friendly and we have a few articles coming soon to Torquecars with some very impressive and unusual mods. As always we will be focusing on the engine and power oriented mods but we also have some photo reports on some of the show cars.

My legs are killing me having spent around 12 hours walking around a field and squatting to take photographs. There were lots of clubs I would like to have seen and spoke to but I just ran out of time and energy SORRY!

21 Sep 2007

Best car chase sequences

One essential scene in any good action movie must include the ubiquitous car chase. Every bond film has a car chase scene in it and there are a large number of car chase scenes which stick in the memory from other movies. Firstly lets reminisce a little then lets look at some of the essential elements and the drawbacks of car chase scenes.

Most Bond film car chases are well choreographed with Bond (nearly) always managing to evade capture. I guess the gadgets fitted to the car make the Bond sequences stand out and certainly make us all wish the parts list on new cars included ejector seats, oil slicks, smokescreens and rockets. Some of these gadgets would help with combating daily traffic issues like heavy traffic, road blocks and taking the mother in law out (only joking!)

The Jason Bourne films take a different approach with a hand held camera giving very shaky and blurry footage but it is cut together in such a way that we can make sense of the scene and actually follow the action at a personal level imagining that we are there. There are no gadgets but some slick defensive driving techniques.

Fast and Furious films portray the glossy side of cars and the chase scenes are usually more glamorous and race related. Complex camera angles and special effects are combined to give the impression of speed and 10 second races are stretched to an impossibly long 10 minutes at times.

Every car chase should end in a crash and reflect what happens in real life. The compelling thing about watching them is the continual feeling of an impreding major smash up. We also deep down like to see a £100,000 worth of car written off and this takes us back to when we were children and we used to smash up, crash and even burn our toy cars. Often though this never happens and the "hero" car usually drives away.

Movies often portray cars as indestructible and worse still gives the impression that drivers can walk away from serious crashes. During a typical chase scene often a number of identical cars are written off as 1 car would not be able to take the punishment. If the movie studios showed a more responsible and realistic approach to car chases and the consequences perhaps we would see less deaths and injuries on the roads. Then again perhaps people are more sensible than to try and copy what they have seen in a movie!

17 Sep 2007

Killer cars - yes even yours!

We all accept that cars are dangerous things. I think we all underestimate the impact (pun not intentional) that we have on the life of our planet.

When you look at the front of your car after a long journey it is typically plastered with the remains of unfortunate little bugs and insects. A closer inspection reveals impact injuries, beheading, amputations and other nasty injuries. When you drive at night the amount of kills increases as the bugs fly towards your headlights thinking they are reaching their life long target the moon and then their dream is so suddenly ended and another bug family have one less member.

Perhaps we don't quite feel emotional about the bugs we kill but surely if we hit an average of 1,000,000 bugs each year they deserve a small consideration and a minutes silence.

I have seen bug defenders fitted to cars which resemble a mini spoiler at the nose end of the hood and they cause a turbulent flow of air which deflects the bugs and although they get a little dizzy they still live to fight another day.

On a slightly more serious note we should be more cautious in country lanes. A recent survey of TorquecarsThe amount of dead badgers, foxes and even birds I have recently seen is moderately alarming. Something larger than a bird can cause serious damage to a car so at least from a selfish self preservation front lets cut our speeds a little at night and keep a good eye out for animals at the side of the road. There is nothing worse than the sickening thump and realisation that you have killed injured or maimed a poor defenceless creature.

10 Sep 2007

Breakdown personality types.

I've noticed that when people break down in a car they tend to fall into 2 camps. One knows about cars and tries to fix the problem the other knows nothing about cars. The interesting thing though is that both drivers will open the bonnet. The first will also tend to get on the ground and whip out his emergency toolkit and start hammering and banging - the second will just stare and prod things at random.

Why do people do this? Staring at an engine you know nothing about will not fix it? Are these people hoping for some inspiration? A piece of pipe flapping around in the engine bay and a hole to poke it back in is probably the best they can hope for as even they stand a change of fixing it. Perhaps the whole lifting of the bonnet and staring at the engine is a way to prevent appearing helpless and somehow they imagine that passing motorists are quietly impressed at their mechanical skill?

"Whats wrong?" The passengers ask, Mr clueless replies, "its probably an air flow sensor problem!" basing his assumption on the conversation he had with his garage about how his air flow sensor was sticking! A little knowledge is also a dangerous thing, don't poke things in the engine or undo screws unless you know what they do. If a TV breaks down people will get in an expert - they will not just open it up and stare at the internals? Why when a complex piece of machinery like a car breaks down why do they open the bonnet?

Please note that when your engine breaks kicking the tyres will not fix it. So many people kick a cars tyre - it really tells you nothing about the car. When people buy cars they will often kick or prod the tyre with their foot? Why? Tyre pressures are not measured by the bounce or the thud sound? You can't tell about the state of the steering or how frequently a car is serviced from a quick kick of the tyre! If tyre pressures are really low then a visual inspection is all that is required. Torquecars have a wide range of articles aimed at helping newbies find there way around the engine bay and covers the practical aspects of car ownership such as servicing.

7 Sep 2007

Car interiors are so boring.

Look at any car interior and you have to conclude that it is boring. Most are dull colours if you can actually use the word colour most are shades of black and grey. Nearly all car interiors I have seen are very plastic looking and after a short period of time the trim starts to suffer from scratches and knocks and ends up looking very shabby.

When manufacturers design a car interior they have to take into account the fact that the car has a life span of around 20 years. As any house decorator will tell you colours and styles change every few years. Also tastes differ from person to person and one persons Mona Lisa will be another persons Graffiti and vice versa. So they have adopted a safe colour scheme.

Grey and black is neutral enough to last for 20 years without going out of style. This is no excuse as we spend more time looking at the interior of our cars rather than the outside and we expect to be able to specify the paint colour when we buy a car so why not the interior? (Some sporty models have a number of cloth pattern but the overwhelming colour is still grey and black and red is available in leather for some cars which looks great.

We do not have to be stuck with the dull interiors though as an aftermarket parts source has sprung up allowing us to fully customise any aspect of our cars interior. See the interior styling guide at Torquecars for some inspirational ideas. Simple stick on panels, gear knobs, car mats to interior neons and complete re upholstery services are available the only limit is your imagination. We should really aim to update the interior of our cars every 5 years or so and this will also prevent the wear and tear shabbiness from building up and can reflect our personally.

BE WARNED THOUGH - If you choose a fluffy pink interior you may well find it difficult to sell the car again unless of course you find someone else who likes fluffy pink things.

5 Sep 2007

Some people should never have a car.

I have a friend who is a talented graphic designer living in London. (He knows who he is and I exaggerate his story - but only a little!) I always have to smile at his comprehension of what he classes as car ownership. Because I run Torquecars the car tuning site he often asks me his car related questions rather than take his car to a garage and get ripped off.

Servicing - This is something he believes that needs to be done when the car breaks down. Servicing is never considered a prevention. The only regular thing he does to his car is fill it with petrol. Light bulbs get replaced when they have all failed on the basis that with one headlight you can still see where you are going. I believe he also cleans his car occasionally as this is usually quicker than pulling out the weeds growing in the dirt stuck to the paintwork.

Here is a brief summary of his car problems. Red light comes on in the shape of an engine. "He thinks hmmm a pretty red light - I don't think that was on before. I wonder what it means. Now I come to think about it the car is running strangely." Next day he is surprised that the car breaks down on him, so he manages to get it parked and walks the rest of the way home.
About a week later he remembers he had a car and then tries to think about where he parked it? After a few hours searching the streets he has still not located his car and it actually takes another week before he finds it. He gets a garage to mend it and he is back on the road.

A few weeks later his car is no longer parked where he left it. He reports it stolen to the Police who inform him that it has been towed away and stored in a compound. He knows he parked legally so pushes his case a little further and discovers that unfortunately his road tax expired and this is why it was towed away, he has a fine to pay and needs to get the car taxed.
To get his car tax he needs his documents and he can't locate his MOT test certificate but he is sure it had an MOT a few years ago! The story goes on but needless to say he finally gets his car back.

Then a few days ago I get an email from him with a sketch drawing of a pipe with 4 bolt holes at each end with a message, "this fell off my car the other day, do you know what it is or where it goes? The car is making a funny noise now?" It was the hose from the air box so wasn't very major but I dread to think what the next email from him is going to be!

I have come to the conclusion that we are not all destined to have a car.

2 Sep 2007

French Roadtrip part 3

It was quite an experience driving on the wrong side of the road. The weird priority rules still baffle me and they seem to apply in towns and built up areas. Anyway apart from nearly pulling out on 2 motorcycling gendarmes the Holiday went well.

We were looking for an Internet cafe so I could get online. After much searching around rural France we actually found one but it was closed for lunch. Now I thought that the whole idea and concept of a cafe was to serve lunch but our continental friends do things a little differently. When I finally do find an Internet cafe open for lunch I discover that the keyboard layout is just plain strange and took 3/4 of my prepaid time trying to get an @ symbol to appear!!

French lunch hour appears to run from about 12:00 to 14:00 which is pretty good going.
One thing I love about motoring in France is the absolute lack of any kind of parking enforcement on the basis that there are no parking rules to enforce. You can pretty much park where you want and as long as you are not blocking the road it is ok. Pay and display car parks are also thin on the ground but every town and city have free parking areas. In some areas you will notice that you can park on one side of the road in the morning and then in the afternoon it switches to the other side. When you think about the fact that the roads are only wide enough for 2 cars an inconsiderate parker could effectively close the road.

Road side service areas are plentiful but if you want cheap fuel you have to travel in to the in town hypermarches. When you have a British number plate and a GB sticker you can get away with murder when it comes to doing u-turns and pulling out at junctions. I never once encountered road rage and saw some strange things like a HGV driver who just stopped in the middle of a roundabout to ask the car behind for directions and what looked like a 20 year old citroen tank truck for sale which was absolutely immaculate (just through lack of use rather than restoration).

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