Category Archives: safety

McCormick Beta Brands Abandoned Factory

TIL: This is a heritage site. Well not exactly, apparently it’s only the facade of the building that is protected. After taking a detour off Dundas St due to construction yesterday, and having a few minutes to kill between meetings, I pulled out the telephoto and walked around the back of the building to check things out.  I deliberately stayed away from the front of the building as it’s one I’ve driven by often enough, missing the splendor of Heritage.

Engine Noise Roundup

Lots of Engine Noise News lately. Here are a few of my favorite stories and videos. Tuning a vehicles acoustics is part art and part science.



BMW V8 Artificial Sound

New Prius V audible low speed warning via Consumers Reports



Lexus LFA inlets for engine noise via


The engine’s induction and exhaust sounds are carefully channeled into the LFA’s cabin. The main channel runs from the surge tank into the cabin below the main dash panel. This is complemented by two further channels– one at the upper cowl opening and the at the lower reflector. These sound channels ensure the driver sits at the center of a 3-D surround sound theatre of engine performance



2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid Car Review



2007 Camry Hybrid in my garage

Well I just bought a 2007 Camry Hybrid “B” Package from ToyotaTown in London, Ontario. Many of you will be surprised to hear that given what you know about my automotive tastes. Do I need a fullsize family car? No, however the car is more efficient than a 2011 Toyota Corolla, and is certainly better featured. The car I’m giving up, a 2007 IS 350 has really spoiled me from a power standpoint and is trimmed better than most cars costing twice as much. Most of the luxury features, like Smart Key, Dual zone climate, and aux input are carried over.

First full tank of gas with the 2007 Camry Hybrid

After driving the car home overnight to give it a thorough test drive and to familiarize myself with the car’s throttle and brakes to maximize efficiency, I’m now filling up for the first time. All cars from Toyota Town include a full tank of gas so this tank is on the company. It already feels good pumping regular gas rather than the 91 Octane premium fuel required for the Lexus. Its interesting to note that usually the “requirement” for premium fuel is not an engineering specification but a regulatory issue that comes up from rating the vehicle’s fuel economy and horsepower using premium gas. When it comes to all fuel economy ratings, litterally, your mileage may vary. I’ve reset the trip A odometer to give a figure.



The Camry’s seats are still leather but the hides are not quite as soft as the IS 350s. The cooling feature and graduated seat heat settings are replaced by a simple on/off for bum warmers in the Camry. This suits me just fine as I always used the heated seats on fullblast and the switches can be left on even when you turn the car off. The seat ventilation in the Lexus was a very faint breeze and the water grey seats of the Camry should be a little cooler than the Black in the Lexus.


Beating the advertised fuel economy over the first 1/8th of a tank



The order of the day was floor mats and a paint pen. The car is Titanium and had a few stone chips and other small chips over the body which I gave two coats of colour. There were a couple of locations where the paint had rubbed off a plastic component revealing the black surface underneath as well. All the fine details that go into reconditioning a car.

Toyota Genuine Floor Mat Accessory Parts

After forgetting the floormats at the office for the night, the cleaning staff had put them in my bosses office so I reclaimed them first thing in the morning and installed them in the car. These mats are authorized by Toyota and should keep me safe from a pedal entrapment. I removed the other floor mats heading the warnings not to install them over the top of one another. The 4 piece mat set includes 2 clips for the drivers side and go in easily covering a perfect fit under the passengers feet.


2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Took the car to get the windows tinted yesterday. I had 3 hours to kill so I took a walk. The weather was milder today which made it less of a chore. I’ve been working in the area of the Tint Shop for the last 4 years though I’ve never walked around the area for any period of time. It’s interesting to gain another perspective on the surroundings. The windows have fine bubbles which will dry as the film cures on the glass over the next few days. I’m looking forward to wiping the windows with a microfiber cloth to clean the streak marks.


Windshield treatments

Washed the car today. I pair particular attention to getting the bugs off the front. After shammying the car dry, I took a clay bar to the area of the paint with surface corrossion. This really cleaned things up in no time. After giving the tires a scrub I dressed them with gloss as well. The next trick is to remove all of the contaminants on the windsheild for treating with a hydrophobic rain repelling coating. This makes rainy days a breeze as well as improving the function of the wiper blades. Its even easier to remove snow and ice from the windshield but I expect I’ll reapply the coating in the fall.


One piece of spec that is often overlooked on the Camry Hybrid is the Lexus VDIM system. Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management allows the car to predict a skid before it happens by monitoring all of the vehicle’s safety systems at once.


A feature I also like in addition to the side seat, side curtain and primary front airbags, is the driver side lower leg airbag. This is a feature my Lexus IS’s had on both sides but since I’m often in the car alone, I hope it will be sufficient.



Some people have complained about squeaks and rattles but my car is very solid. Having been selling the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive and Lexus Hybrids for the last 4 years the novelty of the technology has worn off on me and is allowing me to appreciate the other details the Camry. It’s the number one selling family car in America and I can see why. Not only is it dependable but roomy. and comfortable. The efficiency is top notch still ranking in the top 25 most fuel efficient cars on sale in North America 4 years on. The ride quality is great and the car is easy to use.

Fuel Economy Minder in the 2007 Camry Hybrid



In terms of my lows for the car, I wish the bluetooth also functioned for bluetooth streaming audio. The car’s Aux input will have work and is the same function as the Lexus IS.  I also wish I could have picked the colour but the Titanium has some distinct advantages. Silvers are highly reflective and show cleaner longer. The light colour of both the interior and exterior should also contribute to a cooler cabin in the summer.

Here you can find Auto Canada’s latest review:

Towing with a ForTwo. Not too Smart!

Lets be clear that the Smart ForTwo is not rated for towing.


I spotted this genius towing a utility trailer with his Smart car. I’m not sure what he inteded to put on the trailer but I did notice that the car was completely jammed with stuff inside also. I’m sure he not only exceeded the tow rating (0lbs) but also the maximum vehicle weight rating.

WOSCA Summer Slalom Series at Delaware Speedway

Event One


Gridding at Delaware Speedway for Wosca Summer Slalom

It rained. It rained a lot. The chalk surrounding the cones was washed away moments after being laid down making course marshalling an impossible feat. The 14 drivers that made it out were rewarded with 8 competition runs in not only changing weather conditions but on a slightly reworked track as cones went down.


Back Straight at Delware Speedway slowed down by slalom cones.


The final run group had the fastest times as the rain slowed and the back slalom opened up to become a back straight away. Bald all season Dunlops were a bad choice and the wet track punished my heavy rear wheel drive IS 350.


My pick of the event is this 2010 Subaru STI which struggled with the additional weight and tight course. The AWD stuck so well that the understeer was too much to contend with and the lighter weight vehicles ruled.


Summer Slalom Series Results


WOSCA Official Results


Stay tuned for the last 3 events of the summer series: June 25th, July 24th, Aug. 20th.  For more information or to register visit

Lexus CT 200h Test Drive, Australian Celeb Race, and Canadian Autoshow Premier

Three CT 200h at Lexus Canada workshop
Three CT 200h at Lexus Canada workshop
I’m looking to drive the a GS 450h or new 2012 Lexus GS series Hybrid as the pace car for these events on behalf of Lexus but they did let me drive the CT 200h last Friday for the first time and while the powerplant is not a ripsnorter, the chassis has enough pace to keep the driving interesting. Sport mode sharpens the throttle response and brings on max 650 Volts of power over the Eco modes 500 Volts.
The car is also on display at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto.
ct 200h fire agate pearl
Lexus CT 200h Fire Agate Pearl
These should celebrity drivers enough gumption to have fun for their Australian Grand Prix weekend.

Celebs to support Australian Grand Prix in Lexus CT 200h race — Autoblog

Actually, Highway Builders, Roads Don’t Pay For Themselves

Actually, Highway Builders, Roads Don’t Pay For Themselves: ”

Cumulative Net Difference Between Spending on Highways and Highway “User Revenues”Since 1947, American highways have run up a deficit bigger than $600 billion, in 2005 dollars. Source: U.S. PIRG

You’ve heard it a thousand times from the highway lobby: Roads pay for themselves through “user fees” — a.k.a. gas taxes and tolls — whereas transit is a drain on the taxpayer. They use this argument to push for new roads, instead of transit, as fiscally prudent investments.

The myth of the self-financed road meets its match today in the form of a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group: “Do Roads Pay For Themselves?” The answer is a resounding “no.” All told, the authors calculate that road construction has sucked $600 billion out of America’s public purse since the dawn of the interstate system.

The Myth of the User Fee

First, let’s dispense with the idea that the gas tax – the primary source of financing for federal transportation projects – is a user fee.

“If you go to a state park and pay the fee to get in there, that’s a user fee,” report author Dan Smith, U.S. PIRG’s transportation associate, told Streetsblog. “If you’re driving down the road and you have to pay the toll for driving on that specific road, that’s a user fee.”

But people also pay gas taxes to fill up their lawnmowers. And those lawnmowers don’t usually end up on the highway. Just because you fill your tank doesn’t mean you ever drive on the roads funded by the gas tax you pay.

The Catch-22

Then there’s the huge contradiction underpinning the core arguments for highway expansion. Do new roads cut congestion, or do they “pay for themselves”? Highway lobbyists try to have it both ways, but the truth is that neither of these propositions hold water.


Highway expansions are often justified as projects that relieve traffic and, believe it or not, reduce pollution. So if a highway widening achieved its stated aims, it would cut congestion and fuel consumption, which would mean fewer gas tax dollars and roads that don’t pay for even a fraction of their construction costs. However, we know that new highway capacity doesn’t actually reduce driving – it induces more driving.

The additional traffic created by expanding highways does generate more gas tax revenue, but still not enough to come close to covering the costs of new roads.

U.S. PIRG cites the Pew Charitable Trusts’ SubsidyScope project, which found that “user fees paid for only 51 percent of highway costs, down 10 percent over the course of a single decade.”

Even if gas taxes were the direct user payment they’re made out to be, no one seems to have much appetite for making sure they actually pay for the infrastructure needs in this country. Gas taxes haven’t risen to accommodate more fuel efficient cars or even for plain old inflation. Nor have they compensated for the fact that driving is declining, meaning less gas consumption (but, puzzlingly, not less road-building).

The federal gas tax hasn’t gone up since 1993.

The Highway Funding System as a Subsidy for Driving

The argument that drivers pay for roads might be somewhat more credible if they weren’t taking money away from other public funding streams. Gasoline is exempt from sales taxes in 37 states and the District of Columbia. So rather than paying into the general revenues for the state, motorists are paying into an already narrowly prescribed pot of funding, which highway advocates want to see prescribed even more narrowly to exclude transit and bike/pedestrian projects.

In New Jersey, the savings on the sales tax exceeds the gas tax drivers have to pay. In that way, the government actually provides a financial incentive to purchase gas and drive. And since gas taxes are fixed and sales taxes are percentages of the purchase price, more and more states could end up with this perverse subsidy as gas prices rise.

What About Tolls?

Tolls are, indeed, an honest-to-goodness user fee, charging drivers directly for the road they’re driving on. But the overwhelming majority of roads are not funded by tolls. Local streets don’t have tolls. Rural highways don’t often have them. And tolls don’t come close to covering the costs of roads. According to U.S. PIRG, “In the 1950s, experts estimated that no more than 9,000 miles of highway (compared with the more than 3 million miles of highway in existence at that time) could support themselves with tolls.”

Founding Fathers

The report goes into ancient history (the Hoover administration), investigating the original intent of the gas tax at both the state and federal levels, and debunking the myth that they were always intended to pay only for highways. Indeed, federal gas taxes originated in the 1930s and were dedicated exclusively for highways only for a 17-year period, starting in 1956, covering the construction of the interstate highway system. Since 1973, the gas tax has been used for a variety of transportation programs and has even been used, on occasion, to pay down the deficit.

External Costs

And now the obvious: You can’t measure all the costs of driving with the price of asphalt. The U.S. PIRG report gives a laundry list of external costs associated with driving, including:

    • Changes in the risk of accidents, including injuries to non-drivers and damages to property.


  • Environmental and public health impacts, including smog, greenhouse gases, water pollution from highway runoff, and the impacts on wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts.



  • National security and economic implications of protecting access to foreign oil.



  • Increased pressure on those without cars.



  • Quality of life and the impact of roads on active transportation, such as walking and biking.



  • Car-centric development patterns, sprawl, and the resulting infrastructure costs for the expansion of water, sewer, and other services.



The report cites one study that finds that, just to pay for roads, user fees need to be 20 to 70 cents higher, and another study that finds that, to pay for external costs like these, we’d have to add another $2.10 a gallon.

The Cost of the Myths

“Road advocates use these myths about the gas tax being this user fee and that highways pay for themselves to get preferential treatment, and to get a larger chunk of the dedicated fund,” says Smith of U.S. PIRG. “Advocates of any type of policy would like a dedicated fund, because it is a stable source of funding.”

The myths associated with road financing put all other forms of transportation at a disadvantage, said Smith. “Conservatives say all other transit is social policy and should come from the general fund.”

With a Republican majority in the House, the myth that roads pay for themselves will be again be enlisted to prioritize highways over transit, as the GOP begins shaping a transportation agenda around “getting back to basics” and cutting spending, especially for transit.

“We want to make sure that those falsehoods are not a part of this debate,” said Smith. “People will think twice before saying roads pay for themselves when the numbers say they don’t.”

A Modest Proposal: What If We Required Mandatory Gun Insurance?

A Modest Proposal: What If We Required Mandatory Gun Insurance?: ”

First of all, this isn’t my idea. It’s my oldest son’s, and he told me about it a few years ago when he was trying to figure out a way he could make money. (Did I mention the kid is a genius? If you use this idea, you owe him.)

He said it made more sense to sidestep the entire gun control controversy and instead pass state laws that require anyone who owns a gun to carry insurance. If they have risk factors (like teenagers in the house), their rates go up. If one of their kids sneaks a gun out of the house and gets caught, or uses it to commit a crime, the insurance gets canceled for some meaningful period of time — say, 10 years.

And if someone steals your gun and you don’t report it in a 24-hour window of you finding out, your insurance is suspended.

If you have a rifle and it’s only used for hunting, low rates. If you have a Glock and you carry it in an open-carry town or state, your rates will be very high — because odds are so much higher that innocent bystanders may get caught in a shootout.

Homeowners could be required to carry gun insurance as long as they’re still paying on a mortgage, because a gun accident or misuse could result in a large legal judgment against the house.

Oh yeah, and you have to buy coverage for each gun you own.

I think it has real possibilities. What do you think?

Snow Mode in Lexus IS 350 RWD or other Lexus vehicles

FAQ about Lexus vehicles in the snow.

Lexus Cars and Trucks are equipped with a number of safety features designed to improve your winter driving experience. The most important thing you can do to minimize the risk of a crash is to equip snow or winter rated tires on your vehicle. They are proven to save lives.

What is ECT Snow mode?

ECT stands for Electronically Controlled Transmission. This transmission allows you to pick from  different programs designed for use in snow. The car will start off with reduced power to avoid a loss of traction. This is before your Traction Control even gets involved.