Browsing "Driving"
May 10, 2012 -

I Hate Driving an Automatic Car!

I’ve been tooling around in the rental car for a several days now. It’s a four-door Accent. It doesn’t have the rear wiper blade and power doors and windows, but it’s still very comparable to my poor toad. But driving it is another matter. I experienced the same thing in California in 2007 when I rented the same type of Accent.

First off, what happened to fuel efficiency?! When I got the rental car, it had a quarter tank of fuel. With my Accent, I could drive about 150km on that quarter tank before the gas light would come on, and then I’d be able to do another 30 to 60km without running out. I took the Accent home from Enterprise (about 10KM) then drove it to the hotel (about 85KM). About 10KM out from the hotel, so I’d driven 85KM on that quarter tank of fuel, the gas light came on! I put in half a tank of fuel. In my Accent, I could do 300 to 400KM on that half tank, depending on if I was driving in the city or on the highway. With the automatic Accent, I did just over 200KM and the gas light came on. That’s insane! BTW, that comes out to a fuel efficiency of 24MPG with the automatic Accent, while my manual got 30 to 40.

The automatic Accent doesn’t drive smoothly, something that I’ve experienced with all the automatic vehicles I’ve driven, including Miranda. The transmission just isn’t as smart as is a human in knowing when to shift gears. It is so frustrating to know that I should be in a lower or higher gear, but the transmission refuses to shift, resulting in an unnecessary loss of speed or an inability to slow down, both of which can be dangerous. With this Accent, whenever it’s thinking about changing gears, I literally feel it pull back and then push forward as it tries to decide what it’s going to do. It’s really annoying.

I also hate having to keep my eyes glued to the speedometer because there is no other way of knowing how fast I’m going. In a manual car, until 5th gear, I always have a maximum speed I can reach, so it makes it very easy not to speed. Stuck in a 25MPH zone? Stick to 2nd gear. 45MPH? Don’t shift into 5th. This Accent is so quiet that I have hit 70MPH in a 55MPH zone without intending to.

Which brings to braking. With a manual, I just downshift until I coast to a stop. With the automatic, I have to relearn braking distance and have had quite a few sudden stops because I misgauged my speed and distance from the stop sign or red light. This is the only thing I will admit is DUE (dumb user error) and I know braking would become second nature once I got used to driving an automatic car again. Which I hope happens when pigs fly, the moon turns to cheese, and hens get teeth.

My first car, a 1992 Honda Civic, was an automatic and really didn’t enjoy driving it. I only bought it because it’s what was available in my price range from a trusted source at the time. There was no question my next car would be a manual. When I went for the test drive on my 2004 Accent, I hadn’t driven stick in about six years, but the salesman said he would never have guessed that. This is because I learned how to drive stick. I never learned how to drive automatic. And, frankly, beyond what I need to operate Miranda safely, that’s not a skill I would care to master.

It’s going to be interesting to hear all you automatic fans chime in and tell me what a dolt I am (in kinder words, of course *g*). But do I have any other readers who prefer to drive a manual?


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Driving, Technical    16 Comments
Apr 29, 2012 -

Grateful For My Mojo

I’m working out tomorrow’s driving day, which will take me across the Blue Ridge Mountains and one section with a 7% downhill grade over 5 miles. Last year, I would have lost sleep over this. But my experience through Idaho into Montana over the Fourth of July and Lookout Passes made me a lot more confident about my mountain driving experience. However, those were only 5% and 6% grades respectively, so I can expect this 7% grade to be a bit more challenging.

I’m only about 400 miles from my destination in Virginia and if it weren’t for this mountainous section, I would be very tempted to start early tomorrow and do a canonball run. Instead I will get through the mountains and assess the time remaining for the journey once I reach mid-afternoon. I would love to arrive tomorrow, but not if it means doing so completely frazzled! I know I am entering a particularly beautiful bit of the US and I can’t wait to savour the landscapes before I return to the teeming mass of humanity that suffocates the entire east coast.

The last two weeks have been absolutely amazing and I cannot believe I am on the home stretch for this part of the journey!


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Driving, Itineraries, Technical, Travel, USA, West Virginia    4 Comments
Apr 12, 2012 -

RAIN! Why Does it Have to Be RAIN!

I awoke to a torrential downpour. On the bright side, it could have been a snowstorm. I decided to go ahead with at least part of today’s plan and at least get gas, propane, and water.

Getting out of my spot was no big deal, just a bit of back and forthing until I could swing her around. I had Miranda on the street and ready for her errands by 11:15.

First stop was propane, the Gas King on North Mayor Magrath. From Mayor Magrath, the pumps are on the wrong side for filling an on board tank, but you can turn onto 2 Avenue North to come in from around the back and get lined up correctly. I was then able to back Miranda up a bit so I could turn and get into the gas pump lanes. Propane was  75 cents a litre (about $40 for a fill-CHEAP) and gas was $1.18 a litre (about $220 for a fill-cheaper than just about anywhere else in Canada). Be careful coming out of there if you plan to turn right onto 2nd to turn left on Mayor Magrath because the entrance is super steep. I heard quite a bit of scraping, which was my tow hitch hitting pavement. It looks okay, but I am going to have to do a thorough inspection before I leave.

Next, I headed for the dump station at the corner of Scenic Drive and Mayor Magrath South to attempt to dewinterize my water system. I think I got everything, but between the sound of the rain and that of the traffic, it was hard to check for leaks.

Issues that have come up:

-The water heater won’t fire up. Could be because it’s soggy out. Will keep trying. There is water in the tank, so that’s not the problem.

-The tap in the dressing room sink is leaking. I was having issues before the winter, so I’ll take it apart and see if it just needs a new washer. I’ll just have to be sure to keep the water pump off when I don’t need water until I fix this.

-The toilet flapper won’t open. It seems to be glued shut! No idea what I can put to destickify it without ruining the seal. Any thoughts?

Besides that, everything looks good. The fridge fired up immediately both on 120V and on propane. I’ve had the fridge on 120V for a few days, so it’s nice and cold.

I was going to do a billion trips down to the rig today, but it’s way too nasty for that. I’ll focus on making sure the way is clear to get the pallets and mattress in, but that’ll probably have to be it for today. I’ll do a bit of work on The Apartment, but will do my bookkeeping work today that I was going to do tomorrow.

I am still sleeping in Miranda tonight!

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Appliances, Driving, Electricity, Fridge, Maintenance & Repair, Plumbing, Preparations for Departure, Technical, Travel, Water Heater    4 Comments