2016 Ford Focus RS: Suddenly, They’re Everywhere

Not that it’s a bad thing.  There were two at the Pavillions. The one driving by had a blatty, poppy exhaust that said “Ima slap your hands and take your lunch money before your turbo even gets to spool.” Sounds wicked. It also sounded like it was so overclocked that if your octane comes in at 90.9 and not 91, it would grenade itself.

2016 Ford Focus RS
130% more engine and 184% more power behind that face.

I hate love the blue. It’s garish and unmistakable, so you won’t sneak up on anyone. OTOH, youy just spent 45K on the best Focus ever. Flaunt it. Continue reading “2016 Ford Focus RS: Suddenly, They’re Everywhere”

ESCORT MAX 360: Knowledge Is Good

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Escort Radar + Laser Detectors for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

Every first Saturday of the month, there is a car show in Scottsdale. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Bugattis, Zagatos – whatever you want, it will probably show up. To keep things safe, the Scottsdale police also show up. They walk the show – they’re car guys too. They also patrol the streets near the show.  With radar.

How do I know?

About two weeks ago, I got an Escort Max 360 radar + laser detector to try out.

MAX 360
Number, type and strength of signal in a user specified, advanced display mode.

This is the latest and greatest detector from Escort, the industry leader. Escort Radar products are recommended over Valentine One and other competitors. The Escort 360 comes loaded with state of the art technology. The technology of radar/laser detectors has leapt miles ahead to keep you aware of threats that constantly heighten.

But back to Scottsdale Road and the car show. I knew when the detector received a signal. The dual antenna, front + rear detection rapidly scanned for surrounding threats. The Digital Signal Processing provided extreme range and lightning fast response. I set the unit to chime, rather than buzz, one of the many customizable user settings.

I knew where the signal originated. Arrows indicated the direction of the radar source, giving me 360° protection. The arrows moved from front to side to rear as I passed a stationary source.

I knew how serious the source was. I set the Max 360 to differentiate the signals – Red for Ka, blue for K and green for X band.

directional arrows
Ka signal to the side.

Thus, I knew that the police were enforcing traffic safety to protect those expensive exotic cars. I knew to look for the source of a Ka signal before I saw it. On a flat clear city road, I got about a mile notice. I did not have a chance to test the unit on the open highways by press time.

I also knew the signal was real. The Max 360 has GPS-powered AutoLearn technology, which intelligently rejects false alerts based upon signal frequency and location.  So, that X-band signal from the storage place, probably a motion sensor, doesn’t send repeated false alarms every time I pass. Unlike the old days, radar detectors are smarter than ever before.

As for the police, for the first couple of days, I found myself a little hesitant to use the unit in their presence. I felt like I was giving them more reason to scrutinize my driving. I don’t know why, because, if anything, I drove slower and even more carefully with the unit on.

Anyway, that feeling passed. Radar detectors are legal across the U.S., except in Virginia and D.C. Some college age kids in my car did not believe me, but it’s true. (They are also illegal to use on U.S. military bases, so when I dropped off a guy at the National Guard base, the unit was not present.)

Mistakes on the enforcement side happen even when you don’t call attention to yourself.  My old boss Martin got a photo radar ticket when he was trying to (legally) turn right on red at the same time as another driver was setting off the camera. If a detector saves you from even one ticket, it’s paid for itself. Escort believes so strongly in the product that it offers a  “Speeding Ticket Limited Guarantee” including both radar and laser speeding tickets when purchased factory direct  at www.escortradar.com

Here’s the bottom line on radar + laser detectors. They are more relevant now than ever before and, thanks to technology, smarter than ever before. They are definitely safety devices. I appreciate marked police vehicles out on the road – they lessen the risky behaviors of some drivers. But, they have another effect, like Arizona’s ill-conceived experiment with highway photo radar. They startle drivers. Most people do not consider themselves “speeders” but the reality is that most drivers travel roads where speed limits change without their awareness. People see traffic enforcement and sometimes do drastic things like hitting the brakes, even when their speed is fine. This can lead to traffic backups and sudden stops and a surprise test of your following distance.

Having a Max 360 not only warns you of radar signals, it alerts you to situations where other drivers might be prone to sudden reactions around or especially in front of you. With the number of miles I drive, and the things I have seen on the road, I appreciate any extra warning.

Arizona traffic camera
Someone will probably over-brake when they see this.

If safer driving, precise detection and ticket protection on the road appeal to you, check out the new Max 360 and Escort’s full line of detectors and see for yourself how extra information helps you drive safer.

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Safer Driving Through Technology

Escort Max 360

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Escort Radar + Laser Detectors. All opinions are 100% mine.

Due to some life changes, we are suddenly racking up the miles on the car.  We rack up thousands more miles on every type of road and in every city in the Phoenix metro area than most drivers.  We now also make frequent trips to California and across New Mexico to west Texas. This means more ways than ever before to get a traffic ticket.

We’re used to red light cameras in metro Phoenix.  Red light running is a real problem here. Photo radar is all over – at intersections, fixed installations along some streets, and at random mobile locations. Radar and laser guns are common sights – sometimes DPS sets up surprise mass enforcement zones. Air patrols are not really a thing in the valley.

Our constant road trips are a different matter.  For example:

  • On wide open highways, signs warn that speeds are monitored by aircraft.
  • The state roads in west Texas radiate in straight lines like cardinal/ordinal directions on a compass. Highway 60, between Magdalena and Datil, New Mexico contains a stretch of two-lane that is arrow-straight for 20 miles. It’s easy to just focus on the horizon and miss a traffic sign.
  • Small towns on state highways often mean sudden drops in speed limits. Safe drivers need to treat those changes seriously. They also need to wait for a sign announcing the resumption of highway speeds. Sometimes the increase happens in steps over miles, rather than at the town border. Attention pays off.

Camelback dynamic speed limit sign

Even with the best of intentions, traffic signs get missed sometimes. While most drivers may not consider themselves “speeders,” the reality is that we often travel on roads where speed limits change without our awareness. Therefore, potential threats are elevated. In Scottsdale, Arizona, a stretch of Camelback road has dynamic speed limits. If you saw the static sign but missed the variable limit one, you could have problems.

Drivers make errors. About 41 million drivers get a traffic ticket in any given year.  Tickets are expensive. An average traffic ticket costs about $150. (In Arizona, it’s definitely higher.) That’s about six billion dollars in ticket costs across the country – every year. Unless you can go to traffic school, a traffic ticket has a greater impact to your wallet – your cost of insurance. The average insurance increase over three years from ONE ticket is $900!

Even if you are a careful driver who doesn’t speed, law enforcement can make errors. The National Motorist Association estimates that a third of all speed enforcement citations are erroneous.

So what is a safe driver to do?

One answer would be “buy a radar +laser detector.” With all the threats out there, detectors are more relevant now than ever before and, thanks to technology, smarter than ever before.

  • Legal. Radar/laser detectors are legal across the U.S., except for Virginia and Washington, D.C.
  • Current. The technology is constantly evolving. I own a five-year-old detector, and (I think) a couple of older units. The new detectors are miles ahead in technology, accuracy and sophistication. They can keep you aware of threats that constantly heighten.
  • Cost-effective. If the average financial hit (fine/increased premiums) from a traffic citation is over $1,000, a detector will pay for itself the first time it saves you from a ticket.

That’s where the revolutionary new Escort Max 360 radar + laser detector comes in. Escort has been the industry leader in radar/laser protection for more than 30 years.

Power, precision, 360° protection – unmatched precision with directional arrows

The Escort 360 provides the most precise 360° ticket protection on the road.

  • Dual antennas provide you with full-circle threat detection.
  • The dual antenna front + rear detection rapidly scans surrounding threats.
  • Directional arrows instantly identify the source.
  • GPS-powered AutoLearn technology intelligently rejects false alerts based upon signal frequency and location.
  • Digital Signal Processing provides extreme range and lightning fast response.
  • Escort Radar products are recommended over Valentine One.

Escort backs up the Max 360 with the “Speeding Ticket Limited Guarantee.” This guarantee includes both radar and laser speeding citations when you buy one factory direct at www.escortradar.com. Learn more about it and the Escort Max 360 and how it provides precise detection and ticket protection on the road.

Escort has kindly provided us with a unit to evaluate. Watch this site for a future post with our thoughts and experiences.

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It’s no 1983 Corvette

1984 Chevrolet CorvetteSince those (1983s on the street) don’t really exist.  We have a bit of a soft spot for these 1984s.  Yes, the styling takes all the sexiness out of the C3 by replacing massive, gratuitous curves with asexual straight lines.  Yes, this means that they just shoehorned a few derivative cues on a new platform, instead of letting the form follow the function.  And yes, like the straight lines outside and the relentless rectangles of the dash, the dorky, square flip over headlights took the sexy and the menace right out of the 4 round pop up lights used since the early 1960s.  Still…

In 1983, when they came out, I could still bike to the Chevy dealer downtown.  I had seen the new ‘vette in magazines, but did one make it to my small little burg?  Actually, one did.  It was gold, and hidden away ion the service department.  They weren’t quite ready to display it.  Unlike the Porsche/Toyota dealer, or those pricks at Century Buick, the salesman actually talked to me, and invited me to go in back and check it out.  No hovering, no sighs of exasperation.  No elitist static because a 20-year-old on a ten speed was NOT going to be buying this car (especially with thousands in  “additional dealer markup”/”market price adjustment” next to the Maroney).

So there I was, in the middle of their service bay with all access (as long as I didn’t need the key) to a brand new Vette.  Yes, the headlights were stupid, but the 235° deployment was pure genius. The engine and suspension were from another planet, compared to my (then-offline) Fury.

1984 Chevrolet Corvette
1984 Chevrolet Corvette
Erin Grey Buck Rogers
And I even like the color…

The dash was cooler than Buck Rogers and dorky, safe, malaise exterior styling aside, Erin Gray in a jumpsuit could ride shotgun any time.

I could only imagine was it would be like to fire up this baby and test all the buttons and rev the motor.  I also wished they let me have the car keys.

1984 Chevrolet CorvetteSo yeah, 1984 Corvette, you were a mixed bag of mostly meh.  I just can’t hate you.

Dear Power Ford North Scottsdale: We’re done

Dear Power Ford North Scottsdale doorknobs

In December, 2007, I came to you with a little steering wiggle.

Me:  I have had cars for 30 years – I know I need an alignment
PFNS:  No, you just need a $70 wheel balancing.  Alignments are for pussies.
GF: You guys are dead now.
Me:  Well, you’re the experts.

May 2008 – time for an oil change, under the new 5000 mile interval specified by Ford.

PFNS: Let us give you a courtesy checkup
PFNS: Rear brakes are at 6 mm – condition yellow (fix soon, but not right now).  Tread depth yellow, tread wear (I don’t remember what they checked, or even if)
Me:  Well, you’re the experts.

January 5 2009- time for an oil change, under the new 5000 mile interval specified by Ford.

PFNS: You need the 30K service on this sheet
Me:  looks like an oil change and courtesy checkup.  Let’s call it that, since that is what it is, and save me $100.
PFNS 90 minutes later: 10 min. Oil change is done.  Rear brakes are still at 6 mm – condition yellow (fix soon, but not right now).  Tread depth yellow, tread wear yellow (i.e., something is wrong)
Me:  Well, you’re the experts.
PFNS service advisor who has the report because he is handing it to the cashier in my presence:  You’re good to go.  Thanks!
Me:  Well, you’re the experts.

LATER…

Me:  Tread wear?  Yellow?  WTF?  90 minutes with my car and there is no explanation on the report, or from the service advisor?  WTF?

January 8, 2009

Me: Hi guys – Ford says “treadwear” is yellowy.  Please tell me why.
Discount Tire:  Dude, you needed an alignment about 10K miles ago.  Your tires are shit due to excessive toe-out.  A cursory inspection by a trained Ford service department could have picked this out long ago.
Me:  D-ooh
Mastercard:  Mmmm… impending interest charges.

So that’s the story, PFNS.  You told me I was wrong, when I was right.  You were indifferent this last time about my service, because I would not buy into your dealer-designated profit service, that differs from the Ford recommended service.  You were indifferent about my 20 mile drive to your store.  You were indifferent about the hour and a half for an oil change.  You were indifferent about the areas of concern noted on your own report, so indifferent, you could not be bothered to explain.  And, your superior knowledge has cost me a new set of tires.  Thanks.

Here is a hint – not all customers are idiots when it comes to car repair.  Here is another – when the tech sees iffy treadwear, look further. Treadwear problems do not cure themselves.  They are symptoms of mechanical issues to fix. If i knew I was going to be stuck there all morning, I would have let you do the alignment I asked for a year ago.  More money for you, my car is fixed, and I remain a customer.  Instead, I had to buy new tires, and I am giving my alignment business to someone who wants my business and understands the simple concept that while you guys might service 100 Mustangs that all look the same, this is the only one that matters to me, and it’s my money.  If you want my money, you need to pretend to understand that.

xxoo

P.S.  All those expensive plate frames you sell are illegal, and will subject your customers to $135 tickets.  Darwin is laughing, but your dwindling customer base won’t be.

P.P.S.  Since I needed tires, and you sell tires, you missed that $, too.