BumpShox Protects Front Bumpers from Bad Drivers

BumpShox, Front Bumper Protection!

Do you hate it when bad drivers hit your bumper? Sooo annoying… especially if it's a brand new car!

BumpShox might be your solution. The BumpShox bumper protector is a relatively new foam-based automotive product that looks like a big oversized license plate holder (well it is), but it is a bumper protector. It fits in place of any standard license plate and can be installed easily on virtually any car.

I have been testing the BumpShox for awhile, on several vehicles. I liked using the BumpShox on all of our cars (a 2002 Toyota Camry, 1996 Honda Accord.) Not that it really adds to the look of the Camry or Accord, but it sure is a conversation starter when people notice it, point, and ask “Hey, what's that?”

However, one of the points of the The BumpShox is it's unobtrusive, small, and does not detract too much from the look of the car, at least when compared to other bumper protectors. Typically other bumper protectors or bumper guards will cover the whole bumper and are pretty damn ugly. What's the point of owning a Mustang if you can't enjoy the beautiful lines?

For the most part the BumpShox is not that noticeable. Once you get used to it, it's sort of a fun little addition to your car.

On one of my roadtrips, I parked my Accord in a large parking lot with a few cars. You would assume there was little use for a BumpShox in this situation. When I came out of the store, to my surprise someone had parked a tad to close to my car! The BumpShox was cushioning my car's bumper against a hideous Dodge Caliber.  (Who drives a Caliber anyway?)  I was quite pleased with this and the BumpShox saved me a a weekend of DIY bodywork, which probably would have come out with bad results.

So for protecting your front bumper against stupid and bad drivers, even in large parking lots, the BumpShox can work well.

Where the BumpShox supposedly really shines is in tight parallel parking spaces in cities. The only issue is that it is only going to protect your bumper when you are in the space or parking and moving forward to reposition your car.

Because the BumpShox is unobtrusive and small it won't protect the majority of your bumper at various angles when parking. Only slow front end taps will the foam cushion work.

For complete bumper protection, the BumpShox is not necessarily ideal. Of course larger bumper protectors that cover your whole bumper cost $150+. That's a lot to shell out! If you are tired of having bad drivers hit your beautiful bumper, the $35 bucks it costs to buy a BumpShox is probably a good investment. If you want to buy two, it will cost $60.

I can't guarantee that the BumpShox will work in all situations. For light front-end taps and bumper protection from bad drivers who can't park, even in a large parking lot, it did it's job well on my Accord. That's good enough for me! 🙂

Sylvania Silverstar Ultras Make The Road Bright & Visible

You get into your car after a long day at work. The sun set long ago and it's dark out so you get in, put on your seatbelt (right?), then turn on your headlights. Lights…what lights? You can hardly see anything in front of you!

If you find yourself in this situation with your headlights, I recommend replacing the bulbs asap. If you are going to be replacing your headlights anyway, why not upgrade to some really bright Sylvania Silverstar Ultras?

I have been using a set of Sylvania Silverstar Ultras (#9006) in my Honda Accord for the past few weeks, and I got to say, “Wow!” having a brighter set of bulbs in your car makes a big difference while driving at night.

After driving around for awhile with such awesome and bright headlights, you tend to forget the dimness of the old bulbs. For comparison sake and for this review, I decided to put one of my old lightbulbs back in my headlights and drive my Honda Accord around. The difference between the Silverstar Ultras and my old bulbs would be much more visible side-by-side.

It was a bit hard to get a good picture at night (even with my Canon Rebel), but the difference is clear and incredible!

Bright!

You can see how the Silverstar Ultras fill out the headlight more, while the old bulb just doesn't cut it.  Honestly the one Silverstar Ultra bulb lights up the road well and compensates somewhat for the old bulb's lack of brightness.  The Silverstar Ultras were bright enough for to me realize my lights were out of alignment too.  (That was nothing that a screwdriver and a bit of patience couldn't fix.)

The only problem I have read about with these Sylvania Silverstar Ultras is a lot of people complain that they don't last long.  If you look on the back of the packaging there is a graphic that shows the Sylvania Silverstar Ultras are indeed bright, but show their life is much shorter.  Also “SYLVANIA Silverstar Ultra lamps are engineered to achieve the highest performance possible, which results in product life that is less than standard lamps.” is also printed on the back of the packaging.

That doesn't really bother me as I would rather replace really bright bulbs more often, than drive with bulbs that don't light up the road well at all.  So far I have experienced no issues with the bulbs deteriorating in brightness or going out prematurely.

The Silverstar Ultra packaging does claim to improve your forward visibility by 40% and side visibility by 50%. I think those claims are a bit lofty. After making proper adjustments, my guesstimate would be that Silverstar Ultras improve forward visibility by 30%-25% and maybe 30% on the sides.

Of course there is no easy way for me to truly measure or test my guesstimated numbers.  Getting out a measuring tape was futile!

The brightness of the bulbs makes for a much more enjoyable and safe night driving experience though.  The light that the Sylvania Silverstar Ultras bulbs puts out is much more focused, clear, and full then what I had before which was terrible.

Results can vary depending upon the condition of your headlights. If you have cloudy or yellowed headlights, getting a set of Silverstar Ultras bulbs will not improve visibility too much. The best thing for you to do is buy a headlight restoration kit and spend an afternoon restoring them to a clear and visible condition.  Then buy new bulbs if they are not good.

Bottom line, I used to dread having to drive my Accord at night or in bad weather because I thought I would hit another car, person, or object. Now it's not as much of a problem with the Sylvania Silverstar Ultras installed.

RelayRides Takes Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Nationwide

RelayRides

RelayRides, the world's first peer-to-peer car sharing service, is breaking out of San Francisco and Boston and is launching nationwide today. “Anybody in the country will be able to enroll their car and rent [out] their cars right away,” says Shelby Clark, the company’s founder and Chief Community Officer.  RelayRides introduces us to the revolutionary concept of neighbors renting out their cars to fellow neighbors.  A renter can get a car for as little as $5 an hour.

What are the benefits of personal car sharing?  It is “more affordable, more accessible, and more efficient,” according to Clark. The average shared car “takes 14 other cars off the road,” thus allowing people to meet their mobility needs using far fewer cars. Clark explained.  It is “really good for the environment, community, and local economy.”

RelayRides makes a lot of sense financially in this down economy and in general. Car owners should think of it this way: That car you drive only a few days a week can make you some money when you aren’t using it. On average a car owner using RelayRides can earn $200-$250 a month.  (That’s $2,400-$3,000 dollars a year!) Clark personally makes around $400 a month renting out his Yellow Mini Convertible, which he told me is a lot of fun on sunny San Francisco days.

Renters who take part in RelayRides reap benefits as well. “Car sharing is a more attractive alternative to car ownership,” said Clark.  On average a person can save $500 a month not owning a car and taking part in car sharing.  “It is really convenient and affordable.  The car is located right in your neighborhood,” said Clark.

The personal car sharing concept might be hard for some people to understand.  When Clark initially pitched the idea to friends he faced a bit of resistance. “People were polite and raised their eyebrows, “So you want a stranger to drive my car?”  Clark emphasized the difference in opinion now, “The typical reaction I get from people now when I tell them about RelayRides for the first time is, “Huh, that makes a lot of sense!”

RelayRides currently has 200 cars in the two city fleet and 6000 members. By launching this innovative service nationwide, Clark expects these numbers to grow significantly. “We have learned a lot over the past two years of operation. We feel ready to bring this to the masses,” he told me.

There is a lot of room for growth.  According to Clark there are only about 1 million car-sharing members in North America. With 260 million cars on the road, that equals around 1.2 cars per person in the US.  Shelby thinks this is incredibly wasteful.  He believes that personal car sharing is an ideal solution.  Besides, most cars are only used about 8% percent of the time; the rest of the time they are just parked.

RelayRides is covered by a $1 million insurance policy and market-leading security safeguards.  It is backed by over $13M in venture capital funding from leading investors, such as Google Ventures and GM Ventures.

What impressed me while talking with Clark was not only his enthusiasm, optimism, and drive to make car sharing a viable option for everyone, but his attitude toward the competition. I thought other car sharing services might be unnerved by the news of RelayRides going national. However, Clark sees car sharing companies as being in this together, working for the greater good. He feels there is room for more than one company and that collaboration could be helpful to everyone.

This is a “big step forward for car sharing,” Clark told me. I think it certainly is and the future looks bright for RelayRides.

Adam’s 7 Tips for Winterizing Your Car

Replacing My Wipers for Cold Weather

With the unusually warm weather in January, I felt a bit odd posting a list of tips for winterizing your car.  Now that there is actually snow on the ground in Baltimore, and it is cold, it makes more sense posting this list.  No sense in posting a list in the Spring!

“Adam's 7 Tips for Winterizing Your Car.”

  1. Hey, Your Car is Dirty:  This is something that is a good idea to do before it gets cold and there is snow on the ground.  (Ok, maybe I should have posted this earlier.)  It's good to clean your car of all the road grime and dirt, because during the winter cars tend to attract more dirt.  Clean the interior of the car as well.  If you don't have rubber floormats, I would consider buying them as it will help keep your car's interior cleaner.  Most people don't clean their cars during the winter, so that is why I suggest this.
  2. Ohh, My Battery Is Dead: It is a very good idea to get your battery checked or take a look yourself.  Low temperatures make it hard for the chemical reactions inside your battery to operate normally, meaning it has reduced power to get your car started.  Most auto parts stores do Free battery checks using specialized testers, and they can usually test your whole electrical system too.  If you have had trouble starting your car in the past due to the battery going dead or it has given you problems, you probably should just get a new battery.  If it is more than 3-4 years old, replace it.
  3. Get Rid Of That Battery Corrosion: Even if your battery is not that old, servicing it might be a good idea.  By that I mean making sure there is no corrosion on the terminals or cables.  If you are comfortable cleaning the terminals and battery, it is a good idea to do that yourself.  (Remember undo the negative cable first, then the positive cable.)  A quick way to get all the corrosion off is to pour warm water on top of the battery, which quickly washes away all that white sulfate deposit.  You can then take wire brush and clean the terminals and cables, ensuring you battery has a good connection.
  4. Can You See The Light?:  Having a Headlight or Taillight bulb out is an easy thing to miss. Hey, I understand!  Since the days are shorter and the nights longer in winter, it is good to make sure they are functioning properly.  Turn on your cars lights and walk around to make sure all are in working order.  Don't forgot to check those blinkers too!  If any are out or very dim, replace it.  Then you don't need to worry about it later.
  5. Keep Your Coolant:  You want to make sure you have a 50:50 mix of anti-freeze and water inside your radiator. If there isn’t enough anti-freeze in the mix, it could potentially freeze in the cold weather.  How do you know if you have a 50/50 coolant or anti-freeze mixture?  There are test strips and special tools to test the mixture and pH level of coolant.  I rarely see many shops using them, but you can buy them at auto parts stores.  You might want to consider doing a coolant flush if you have never done it, or if it has been 4+ years since you have flushed your coolant.  Don't forgot to also check your hoses.  If they are bulging hard, brittle, deformed, squishy, or have hairline cracks, replace the hose.
  6. Is Your Tread Dead?: When is the last time you checked you tire pressure?  Mmm… better check it, since tires lose about 1psi for every 10 degree change in temperature.   You gas mileage will improve and your car will handle better.  Also make sure you have adequate tread and your tires are not worn-out.  If you live in climate that gets heavy snow, switching to snow tires for the winter might not be bad idea.
  7. Can You See the Road?: Wipers are very easy to overlook, but very important for inclement weather.  Check your wipers are not streaking or has rubber falling off.  If they are old and aren't doing the job, replace them.  I recommend Bosch frame-less wipers, which last longer and work better.  I have Bosch wipers installed on my Honda Accord.  Remember to also make sure you have washer fluid.

I hope you enjoyed Adam's Auto Advice tips!  If you have a suggestion or comment about winterizing your vehicle  leave a comment below.  Keep warm this winter and please drive safely.  You never know what's on the road, so be prepared.

Charm City Pedal Mill: “You Drink, You Pedal, We Drive!”

Charm City Pedal Mill!

Looking for something unique and fun to do on a weekend night, or any time in Baltimore? Look no further than the Charm City Pedal Mill.

You are probably wondering, ‘What is a Pedal Mill?' Basically, a Pedal Mill is a cycle with pedals and gears, 4-wheels, disc brakes, and a steering wheel like a car. It is powered by people, outfitted with 16 seats for adventurous riders to get it moving. It's a Rolling Bar. A ride on the Pedal Mill is a great way to spend a night out with friends in Fells Point and Canton.

Pedal Mills are inspired by similar machines in Germany and the Netherlands called Fietcafes. Amanda Linden, the owner and entrepreneur behind Charm City Pedal Mill, first encountered Fietcafes when she was living in Germany, spending time abroad.

Later in her hometown of Milwaukee, Amanda saw some people she had known in high school. Funny thing was, they were going by on one of these crazy Fietcafe contraptions. She started talking with them, and it turned out they had started running pub crawls around Milwaukee with it. “That's where I got the idea.” said Amanda.

So in August, 2011 she launched Charm City Pedal Mill. She runs the company along with help from a great group of dedicated friends. “Couldn't do it without them all,” says Amanda.

Using social media and a go-getter attitude, Amanda dove head first into getting the company started. After purchasing a vehicle, she went around to all the bars in Fells Point and Canton, told them about her Pedal Mill, and gave them her business card. “Some people were like this is the coolest thing ever!” However, there were bars that she never heard back from. Now with the success of the company and pub crawls, “Those bars are now calling me saying. ‘We really want to be on your tour!” says Amanda.

The Pedal Mill stops at about 10 bars on any given night. Tours will vary depending upon the time and day. Special requests are welcome.

Amanda is no stranger to the food and restaurant business, having worked in the industry for about 13 years. However, she longed for something more. “I didn't want to bartend, and didn't want to manage a restaurant. I had done that before!” she lamented. With Charm City Pedal Mill she has found her true calling, running pub tours in Baltimore. “It doesn't feel like work at all” Amanda said enthusiastically.

Amanda estimates that there are about 10 other cities that have Pedal Mills running tours, like her high school friends in Milwaukee. She emphasized that this is the, “First one in the Mid-Atlantic, which is kind of cool.”

For those interested in trying out this awesome contraption, it is $25 Mondays-Thursdays to rent out a seat. “You make that up with specials at the bar,” says Amanda. As part of being a rider on the Pedal Mill you will get a special wristband that lets bars know you are a Pedal Mill passenger, and that entitles you to specials. Each bar is different but you typically save 10%-15% on drinks and get shot specials. Tours are generally two miles long, which is great for working off all that beer and food during the night. (When else are you gonna do that, huh?)

You can also rent out the entire Pedal Mill per hour for $155. (Prices are a bit higher on the weekend.) The price goes down per hour the longer you rent it. People rent it out for birthdays, bachelor/bachelorette parties, corporate events, and other special events. “The groups coming out are usually celebrating something.” said Amanda.

The Pedal Mill is equipped with a sound system, so you can bring CDs or an MP3 player and listen to your favorite tunes through the night.

You can celebrate all you want on the Pedal Mill. Lots of people dress up in crazy costumes, “We had a whole crew of pirates last week,” Amanda told me.

One key person who helps run Charm City Pedal Mill is Jason. He fills a number of roles, acting as the main entertainer, head driver, and oversees operations and maintenance. You can see him on board the Pedal Mill most nights. He emphasized that the drivers stay sober, like all drivers should. “You drink, You pedal, We drive!” is the Charm City Pedal Mill slogan. “Never had a bad experience on here.” said Jason when talking about what it is like when they take the Pedal Mill out with customers. Jason fixes the Pedal Mill often, and was doing an alignment when I went to check it out. “He is good with the mechanics of it,” Amanda commented.

The drivers consist of a fun group of people, who all add their special skills to the business. Kevin is an electrical whiz helping fix any issues with the lights or sound system. Jeff is very good with bicycle mechanics. Sarah is the only girl driver, “She's great, really really good” says Amanda.

You might think getting this Pedal Mill business started and getting the permits would be difficult. Amanda told me that generally the city has been receptive because Baltimore is supporting bike initiatives. She also mentioned that businesses are particularly generous in helping each other out. The company partnered with Wedding411 and some hotels to be featured in Where magazine (that magazine that is always in hotel rooms). In addition, Drink Baltimore will run specials for them.

Sounds and looks awesome, right? What are you waiting for? Go get a group of friends together and rent it! Then come back and leave a comment and tell everyone about your fun experience on the Charm City Pedal Mill.

Let the Good Times Roll!

Call (#443-956-6455) for booking a tour or seat. You can also email: charmcitypedalmill@gmail.com.  For additional info visit:  http://www.charmcitypedalmill.com/