Wired Looks At Roundabouts

Wired writes at roundabouts in the US and even links to the Rio Rancho Observer.

Opposition is much more widespread in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, where an admittedly unscientific poll by Loma Colorado Library found most in town want to roundabout to go. A big reason for the disdain is people don’t understand how roundabouts work or how drivers are supposed to use them. According to The Rio Rancho Observer, people have seen trucks almost roll over barreling through the roundabouts too fast, and some have even seen tire tracks suggesting people are going straight through them. And some people think roundabouts make driving more complicated because, as one man said, “you’re not quite sure what the other guy’s going to do.” Despite the mounting frustration, the town plans to build more roundabouts.

Wired says “most in town want to roundabout to go” based on a poorly thought out article that doesn’t prove anything.

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National Guard Weapons Of Mass Destruction Support Team Training In Rio Rancho

A few weeks ago I was driving down Unser Blvd in Rio Rancho and saw a whole lot of dark blue trucks, one with a satellite dish on top, and a bunch of military SWAT team like people parked at a business.

The Rio Rancho Observer reports that it was the National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction support team.

Rio Rancho was the scene of a mock emergency situation last week, when the 64th Civil Support Team, local New Mexico National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction support team responded to a call at a “storage facility” on Unser Boulevard. Major Troy Chadwell , deputy commander of the 64th Civil Support Team organized the exercise, which involved about 22 CST members reporting to the scene, trying to first determine what hazard was there and advising on the consequences of the contaminant to the community and first responders. Chadwell said the scenario involved a landlord of the facility entering a storage unit of a man who left without paying rent and finding what he thought was a meth lab; but was actually toxic chemicals manufacturing.

I’m not sure why but there was something creepy about all the color coordinated dark blue vehicles sitting on this lot, and knowing they were military makes it a little more creepy.

Ford Speed Control Deactivation Switch Recall Cost

Ford has issued a Speed Control Deactivation Switch Recall (09S09) on a number of trucks and SUVs. They sent me a letter to about my 1997 Ford Ranger and suggested I have it fixed as soon as possible.

Ford cannot be confident that over many years in service, a speed control deactivation switch installed on your vehicle will not leak brake fluid, posing the risk of a fire. This condition may occur either when the vehicle is parked or when it is being operated.

This risk exists on vehicles equipped with or without speed control.

Ford Motor Company has authorized your dealer to perform the repairs under this program and your dealer on your vehicle free of charge (parts and labor).

Your dealer may be able to perform this repair while you wait; however, due to scheduling requirements, your dealer may need your vehicle for a longer period of time.

Please call your dealer without delay and request a service date for Recall 09S09. Provide the dealer with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of your vehicle. The VIN is printed near your name at the beginning of this letter.

Until you have the recall service performed, park your vehicle outdoors away from structures to prevent a potential fire from spreading.

I took it to the local Don Chalmers Ford who was able to get my truck in immediately. They had my truck for about 6 hours and gave me a receipt. Total cost of the repair charged to Ford was 28.89. I realize Ford has millions of these to pay for but I have never taken my truck to a Ford dealer and had such a cheap repair. If I had to pay for this myself, I wonder how much it would have cost me.

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My 1997 Ford Ranger Qualifies For The Car Allowance Rebate System (Cash For Clunkers)

There is nothing wrong with my 1997 Ford Ranger except that it’s getting up there in age (kind of like me). Since it’s my only vehicle I am always concerned about total failure or some expensive repairs that could be more than the value of my truck. I’m very interested in what the government’s CAR Allowance Rebate System (formally known as Cash for Clunkers) could do.

Cars.gov has the requirements for the program:

  • Your vehicle must be less than 25 years old on the trade-in date
  • Only purchase or lease of new vehicles qualify
  • Generally, trade-in vehicles must get 18 or less MPG (some very large pick-up trucks and cargo vans have different requirements)
  • Trade-in vehicles must be registered and insured continuously for the full year preceding the trade-in
  • You don’t need a voucher, dealers will apply a credit at purchase
  • Program runs through Nov 1, 2009 or when the funds are exhausted, whichever comes first.
  • The program requires the scrapping of your eligible trade-in vehicle, and that the dealer disclose to you an estimate of the scrap value of your trade-in. The scrap value, however minimal, will be in addition to the rebate, and not in place of the rebate.

According to the fueleconomy.gov website, my 1997 Ford Ranger qualifies for the gas efficiently requirements because they say it gets an combined gas miles of 16 MPG.

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I was surprised to see that the EPA says my truck gets such low gas milage. I can get at least 18 MPG in town and 22 MPG on the freeway. I was also surprised when I compared my 1997 model with a 2009 Ford Ranger that the 2009 model gets 1 MPG less.

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If I were to replace my vehicle under the CARS program, I wouldn’t replace it with a super fuel efficient vehicle. I would need to replace it with another truck (yes I do actually use my truck as a truck and utility vehicle). This doesn’t help me very much because nearly every new truck gets nearly the same gas mileage as mine. I compared my truck to a variety of similar trucks. I could find two that met the mileage requirements and only one actually qualified.

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The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 15 Hybrid 4 wheel drive qualifies on the gas miles requirements as it gets 20 MPG. But for some reason it is a Category 2 or Category 3 truck and I cannot trade in my truck for own of those. I don’t know what they category requirements are but seems kind of silly on the surface.

The second possibility is the 2009 Toyota Tacoma 4 wheel drive. It barely gets 2 MPG more than my current truck netting me $3500 in rebate. Is it really worth it for me to trade in my perfectly good working truck for a new one?

Kelly Blue Book says it’s worth about $3000 in trade in value. CARS is not saving me much on the trade in. A new Toyota pickup will be about $26,000 leaving me for about $23,000. That runs just under $400 a month depending on financing.

I just don’t think it’s worth it to trade in a perfectly good pickup that may or may not have problems in the immediate future for a $400 a month payment.