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Saturday, May 27, 2017

What your drivers (still) don’t know about roadside inspections

jjkeller.com

Article thanks to Cristina Commendatore, fleetowner.com and Andy Blair. Links provided:

Cargo securement will be a key focus for the annual Roadcheck inspection blitz this June. Here are some tips from a former DOT officer.


Back in the day, when Andy Blair served as a Department of Transportation (DOT) officer, he used the North American Standard Out of Service Criteria book to write tickets and place trucks out of service (OOS) during roadside inspections.
Now, he’s urging fleets and their drivers use the book as a tool to help keep their trucks in service during inspection season – especially where cargo securement is concerned.
You see, the annual 72-hour Roadcheck inspection blitz overseen by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's (CVSA) occurs June 6 through 8 this year and will focus on cargo securement. And the aforementioned “OOS book” Blair referenced contains information on load securement that carriers – especially commodity specific haulers – and their drivers need to know.
“If you are a commodity specific hauler, then you have some very specific rules that apply to you,” he explained. “If you don't follow these rules, you could very well find your truck being placed OOS.”
Specific rules cover logs, dressed lumber, metal coils, paper rolls, concrete pipe, intermodal containers, light vehicles, heavy vehicles and equipment, flattened or crushed vehicles, roll off containers, hazardous materials or “hazmat” loads, plus large boulders.
If none of these categories apply, then a motor carrier or owner-operator falls under the general freight rules, Blair pointed out.
“This Roadcheck is coming; everybody knows what it’s going to be about,” he stressed. “This year’s focus is on load securement, so now is the time for people to be aware of the regulations.”
Here are a few more tips Blair shared with Fleet Owner ahead of the 2017 Roadcheck inspection blitz:
  • Know your Working Load Limit. That limit requires that you use enough weight rated tie downs to equal at least half the weight of the load. So you have to know the length of the object, the weight of the object and whether or not it falls into one of the commodity specific areas. Whichever requires the most number of tie downs is the one to go with. If you have a 20,000-lb. object, you have to have a working chain that is half the actual working weight of the load.
  • Use one more tie down than required. “Just in case one of the tie downs is bad, you won't be OOS of you don't go below the minimum amount of required tie downs,” Blair said. “You will be shut down if you don't have enough. Inspect your tie downs every trip. A tie down is only as strong as its weakest point.”
  • Pay attention to your pre-trip. Besides the basic vehicle inspection – lights, tires, wheel, mirrors, basic trailer inspection – when it comes to the load itself, enforcement will depend on what the load is. If it falls into any special categories, the driver needs to check whatever load securement devices he or she uses.
  • Check the whole chain. “Part of the inspection would be checking in the chain for damaged links, cracks and breaks that they have every tie down and chain down,” Blair noted. “The end of the chain will have a hook or ratchet, make sure that’s not damaged. [Loads] put a lot of pressure on these chains and overtime; it can cause things to damage and crack. Drivers have to check these; they are part of the regular vehicle inspection.
  • Synthetic straps are prone to getting ripped and torn. “Check for any wear or tear on synthetic straps. They don’t get better with age. They’re going to get worse,” he stressed. “When I see a truck with synthetic straps, I always look through them [searching] for cuts and abrasions. When it looks like it has seen better days, I take them off and cut them off so they can’t be reused. I don’t see near as many issues with chains. If I had to pick a truck out on the road, it would be a flatbed with synthetic straps tying down whatever it’s hauling.”
  • Use the 10-ft. rule. The general rule is you need at least one tie down for every 10 ft. of what you’re hauling. “Not more than 10 ft. I will literally get out my tape measure and if it exceeds 10 ft., that’s an OOS right there,” Blair said. “Most drivers always carry extra chain or straps. If a driver gets stopped and they determine that a tie-down device is legally no good, sometimes officers will allow them to replace strap with another one handy. But if the guy doesn’t have any extras, he’s sitting. The 10-ft. rule is frequently violated.”
  • Motor carriers need to train their drivers. It’s the motor carrier’s responsibility to make sure the driver knows what he or she is doing, Blair emphasized, especially when it comes to cargo securement. “[Carriers] should do training to make sure their drivers know the rules and load securement training. Any company who doesn’t do that is doing themselves a disservice,” he pointed out. “There should be a little bit of formal training. At the end of the day, I’m the officer, and if I say you’re OOS, you’re not leaving until it’s fixed. Load securement violations mean you’re sitting until it’s done right.”
  • “Some of these guys [drivers] are dependent on someone in a building securing their load,” he added. “They don’t bother checking load securement and they leave."
    But once you leave the yard, it’s your baby, Blair warned. “The officers are going to be trained and ready,” he added. “The question is, are your drivers going to be trained and ready for this?”
    For any further questions, please email Andy Blair at dotinspector@gmail.com.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Recognizing That Many of Us just Enjoy Driving

Article thanks to The National Motorists Association. Help support motorist's rights, you can join for free at the links provided:

Here’s a quiz.  The CEO of an automaker said the following about the advent of self-driving technology:

We have full-scale autonomy in development right now. But how we apply this technology will be a little unique. We believe driving pleasure should never die. And we’re selling our products to a core customer who loves driving.

We’ll always take a human-centric approach. The driver will have control and we’ll try to improve peace of mind. If anything happens to the driver, the system will override immediately to bring the car to a safe place.

Which car company does this enlightened executive lead? 

AcuraKia
Alfa RomeoMaserati
Aston MartinMazda
BugattiMini
FiatPeugeot
HyundaiRenault
InfinitiVolvo
Jaguar 

Make no mistake, with hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on autonomous vehicle technology – the five top carmakers plowed $46 billion into R&D in 2015 alone – we will be seeing an explosion of vehicles on the road completely controlled by computer algorithms within a generation or two.  Cars will truly become automobiles.

But the concern expressed by many NMA members is that those of us who like the freedom of driving at satisfying speeds while navigating whatever challenges the roadways present will be relegated to spinning around the tracks of designated car parks while machines rule the roads.

That is a depressing view of the future, which makes the vision of at least one car manufacturer refreshing. Which brand? Here’s another quote with the answer:

Mazda’s vision of autonomous driving is not bringing you from A to B while you are reading. That’s not Mazda’s way.

is able to stick to that philosophy and that other automakers realize the wisdom of satisfying the significant segment of motorists who enjoy driving.

https://www.motorists.org/


Saturday, May 20, 2017

595-truck convoy in Pennsylvania raises money for Make-A-Wish

For 364 days of the year, the horse-drawn Amish buggy is the vehicle most commonly associated with the city of Lancaster, Pa.
But not on Mother’s Day. On Mother’s Day, Lancaster is all about trucks. Last Sunday, May 14, 595 trucks rolled out in the annual Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Truck Convoy. By the time the last driver had pulled out, an estimated $400,000 to $450,000 had been raised for Make-A-Wish of Philadelphia, Northern Delaware and Susquehanna Valley, with approximately $300,000 of that coming from the drivers themselves.
As usual, tens of thousands of spectators lined the 26-mile convoy loop in central Pennsylvania, cheering for the truckers and waving to the more than 100 Make-A-Wish children and siblings who rode along in the cabs.
“This is a tremendous event for Make-A-Wish and the trucking industry,” said Ben Lee, regional director for the charity. The money raised will pay for 60 to 70 percent of the wishes granted to children with life-threatening medical conditions in the region, he said.
The convoy, which began 28 years ago, started with one little boy’s wish to ride in a truck and talk to his sister on CB radio and, thanks to the generosity of truckers, has grown into an all-day family celebration that draws truckers from a dozen or more states.
The RoadPro Family of Brands, based in nearby Palmyra, is the primary sponsor of the event and donated $20,000 to the cause. The company’s involvement has helped the convoy grow in popularity, Lee said.
“We’re honored to be associated with such a great cause and a worthy organization,” said Chuck White, Vice President of Brands & Marketing for RoadPro. “Truckers are our customers and we know how generous and caring they can be. The convoy is proof of that.”

http://www.roadprobrands.com/

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Truck drivers arrested in sting for aluminum recycling fraud

hardworkingtrucks.com
Article thanks to hardworkingtrucks.com. Links provided:
April, 2017  A recent sting in California led to the arrest of drivers who had allegedly planned to cash-in on truck loads of aluminum cans through the state’s high-paying recycling program.
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery joined the California Department of Justice and the California Department of Food and Agriculture in a week-long sting which netted nearly 15,000 pounds of aluminum cans that had left Arizona and were destined for California recycling centers, according to calrecycle.ca.gov.
The cans were valued at around $20,000.
The California Redemption Value (CRV) Fund is only available for recyclable containers purchased in the state. Consumers there pay a CRV fee for each qualifying container and then can recoup that cost later at a state certified recycling center.
“CalRecycle’s fraud prevention reforms and substantial network of enforcement partners make it increasingly risky for those attempting to defraud California’s Redemption Value Program,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “The department will continue to use all available resources to make sure CRV deposits go back to California consumers and not in the pockets of criminal enterprises.”
The sting centered on the CDFA border checkpoint in Blythe, Calif., and the nearby intersection of Agnes Wilson Road and Highway 95, a route often used to circumvent the border checkpoint.
On March 14, CDFA agents at the border checkpoint discovered a fraudulent Imported Material Report and false Bill of Lading provided by Balmore Alvarado, 49, of Chino, Calif., as he entered California from Arizona. A subsequent inspection of Alvarado’s trailer revealed 7,020 pounds of used beverage containers with a potential CRV refund value of $10,275.85.
On March 16, CDOJ Recycling Fraud Team agents conducted surveillance on a semi-truck, found to be importing used beverage containers from Parker, Ariz., into Blythe, Calif., via Agnes Wilson Road. CDOJ agents confronted Anthony Sanchez, 56, of Tucson, Ariz., and discovered his trailer filled with 7,675 pounds of used beverage containers with a potential CRV refund value of $9,636.79. Sanchez also presented a fraudulent Bill of Lading and did not have an Imported Material Report, requirement for anyone who transports used beverage containers into California.
Both drivers face charges of felony recycling fraud, attempted grand theft, filing a false or forged document, and conspiracy. If convicted, the men could be subject to financial penalties and incarceration. The charges carry a sentence of between six months and three years.
- See more at: http://www.hardworkingtrucks.com/truck-drivers-arrested-in-sting-for-aluminum-recycling

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Americans Remain Wary of Self-Driving Cars

Image courtesy of AAA
Article thanks to automotive-fleet.com. Links provided:

March, 2017  Most American drivers want autonomous technologies in their next vehicle, but they continue to have fears about fully self-driving cars, according to a new report from AAA.

Despite predictions that autonomous vehicles will be much safer and slash crash rates, three-quarters of U.S. drivers are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle, survey results indicated. A total of 19% would trust the vehicle, and 4% are unsure.
The prospect of sharing the road with self-driving cars also stirs trepidation. A total of 54% of drivers would feel less safe, while 34% said it wouldn’t make a different. Only 10% reported that they’d actually feel safer sharing the road with autonomous vehicles.
Nonetheless, 59% of Americans would welcome autonomous features — such as automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance and self-parking technology — in their next vehicle, according to the report. This dichotomy suggests that American drivers are ready to embrace autonomous vehicle technology, but they’re not yet ready to give up full control, according to AAA.
“U.S. drivers may experience the driver assistance technologies in their cars today and feel they don’t work consistently enough to replace a human driver — and they’re correct,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations. “While these technologies will continue to improve over time, it’s important that consumers understand that today’s systems require your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.”
AAA survey results also suggest that age and gender can be factors influencing a driver’s willingness to relinquish vehicle control. Though 78% of Americans are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle, some demographic groups are generally more afraid than others. Baby Boomers (85%) are more likely to be afraid than Millennials (73%) and Generation X (75%) drivers. Additionally, women (85%) are more likely to be afraid than men (69%).
Millennials (70%) are the most likely to want the technologies, compared to Generation X (54%) and Baby Boomers (51%).
Additionally, U.S. drivers desire uniformity in how the autonomous systems operate, regardless of the automaker. Eight in 10 (81%) drivers believe the systems should all work the same way.
The survey was conducted Jan. 5-8 of this year. A total of 1,012 adults participated.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The following is a guest post by Josh Breger at Haulhound.com, a Chicago based logistics tech startup. Check them out at the links provided:


As a driver, finding good freight is a top priority. As you know, this can often be time consuming and your options might be saturated with cheap rates and not enough miles.  

There are seemingly endless channels to find freight and it could seem overwhelming. Here are five tips to help you pick and choose where to look, and who to work with. 

1.  Avoid Brokers. Perhaps Be Wary of Brokers is better. It sounds easier than it actually is. There’s no denying that brokers have become an integral cog within the logistics framework. It’s often unavoidable to never move brokered freight. However, just as it’s your main job to get the highest possible rate, it’s brokers job to do the exact opposite. Brokers lack consistent lanes and bank on quoting spot freight. It is their job to quote shippers high, and sell it to drivers for low.  

2. If you can’t avoid brokers, find two or three that you trust. Not every broker is shady and obsessed with ripping with you off. There are plenty of decent, honorable brokers that truly care about your business and treat you like a customer. These are often the mid-size brokerages. The huge brokerages with thousands of employees might have a lot of freight, but can’t guarantee you the personal touch you require. So try to seek out the smaller companies that have between 100-400 employees. They still have a lot of freight but they are small enough to devote enough attention to you and your truck. The more loads you pull for them, and the more you prove yourself as a dependable driver, rates will go up and those annoying tracking phone calls will go down.  

3. Sign on with a carrier. For new owner operators, this could be the perfect introduction to navigating the freight market. Trucking companies are begging for owner ops just like you to sign on to their authority. They have already consistent, dedicated freight. They just need you and your truck. However, as an owner op you have the right of first refusal. Most companies allows owner ops to say yes or no to loads. If you find a good company, you’ll almost certainly have good freight and it will be a learning experience on which lanes to seek and which ones to avoid.  

4.  Avoid Loadboards. Loadboard subscriptions are expensive and you often don’t get what you pay for. The loads listed on these platforms are the bottom of the barrel. It’s cheap loads for ridiculous lanes that shady brokers can’t cover. You’re competing with countless other drivers over freight that is not worth your time. It’s okay to use loadboards once in a while if you’re stuck and as a last resort, but it’s not safe to rely on them as the main source of your business.  

5. Use an aggregation platform. Technology is officially invading trucking. Freight logistics, as an industry, is heading in an unfamiliar direction for many drivers. Truck drivers are aging out and while recruiting younger generation of drivers is proving more difficult, those that have proved successful are the one’s adapting with this new technology. Using digital freight platforms combines the best of all the above options. These new innovative platforms act as marketplaces competing for your business. Ideally you will have access to every available load and it’s up to you to pick and choose. Some of the more advanced digital freight matching platforms will send you matches instantly and in real-time. This has the ability to cut down on wasted time and keep you on the road.  

There is no right or wrong way to find freight. The brutal truth is that luck plays a big part in finding the right broker, the right carrier or even the right load board to use. Try some of these tips and mix and match. Driving is a community. Use social media to interact with other drivers and learn from each other.  Every driver is different so find what works for you.

https://haulhound.com/about/

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Packers: Rookie running back Jamaal Williams impresses with physical, mental makeup

packers.com
Article thanks to Jason Wilde and The Wisconsin State Journal. Links provided:

May 3, 2017 - GREEN BAY — For another player, it would’ve been an easy decision. As it turned out, it was an easy decision for Jamaal Williams, too.
When NFL personnel executives asked Williams prior to the NFL draft what he did to violate Brigham Young’s honor code, a misstep before the 2015 season that forced him to withdraw from school, Williams told them the truth: “I had a girl in my room.”
Scouts’ reaction? “Most of them laughed,” Williams said.
They weren’t laughing at the way Williams responded to his mistake, however.
Rather than transferring out of BYU — Williams is not a Mormon, and even after a torn ACL in 2014, he would have had significant interest from other schools after rushing for 2,526 yards his first three seasons for the Cougars — he spent 2015 working out in Arizona, came back to the team last fall and rushed for 1,375 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to becoming the school’s all-time leading rusher.
That performance, coupled with complete ownership of his mistake, made an impression on NFL teams, including the Green Bay Packers, who took him in the fourth round last weekend.
“I think it says something about him,” Packers director of college scouting Jon-Eric Sullivan said. “He could have gone anywhere he wanted as a transfer. The fact that he came back there, I think that tells you his intestinal fortitude and what he’s made up of. It would have been probably easier at one point to leave and go somewhere else and started anew, but he came back and chose to do that. I think that says something about the kid. That was something we thought was an asset.”
Asked why he didn’t just go to another school, Williams replied, “I stayed there because BYU was the first team that actually gave me an offer and wanted me for me. Loyalty is a big thing for me.
“I was angry, but at the same time you have to know that it’s your responsibility. You made the choice of going to the school. They tell you the rules before you get there. If you don’t (follow them), then that’s your fault. So I was mad, but at the same time I just had to grow up and understand the consequences.”
Williams, who also was suspended for one game after an underage drinking arrest in 2014, in no way raised red flags for the Packers.
“We feel really good about the kid,” Sullivan said. “He’s very well-liked by his teammates, he’s a team captain. He’s a guy who football is very important to him. He does the little things to be a good football player. … We feel very, very confident about the football player and about the person.”
The Packers need Williams to hit the ground running in their unproven backfield, where coach Mike McCarthy pronounced converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery as “absolutely” the starter following the draft. But with just 105 career rushing attempts (including playoffs), and given McCarthy’s preference for a 1-2 punch at running back, one of the Packers’ three rookies — Williams, fifth-round pick Aaron Jones or seventh-round pick Devante Mays — will have ample opportunities this season.
As the draft approached, Williams and longtime NFL agent Leigh Steinberg saw various teams’ depth charts and saw Green Bay as a potential destination. (Coincidentally, Steinberg also represents Jones.)When the Packers went on the clock at No. 134, they wasted no time making Williams the first offensive player of their class.
“I felt that Green Bay would be a good spot for me,” Williams said. “We talked about it. I thought about it and I think I could really fit in with Green Bay and their offense. They don’t really have a lot of running backs, but at the same time Ty Montgomery did a great job of filling in and playing running back. I just want to help out and do whatever I can and still contribute.”
Listed at 6 feet and 213 pounds, Williams has a powerful running style that the Packers are hoping could mimic that of Eddie Lacy, a four-year starter who departed as a free agent to Seattle in March. Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf described Williams as being a “classic, between the tackles-sized” running back, which would fill the void Lacy left.
“I’ve watched Eddie Lacy run before because he’s a big back and I like big backs in general, because I just like the bruising part about the game,” Williams said. “I’m not really trying to fill the void. I’m just really trying to come in and do my job. I’m only a rookie right now and I don’t want to put too much expectations on me. But I have my goals.
“I feel I’m an old-style type of running back. I like to bruise, I like to pound into people a lot. I feel like I’m a grinder, a workhorse and as the game keeps going — fourth quarter, third quarter — I’m just getting stronger and stronger and trying to wear the defenses down. That’s what I like to do and that’s how I like to play.”

Jason Wilde covers the Packers for ESPN Wisconsin. Listen to him with former Packers and Badgers offensive lineman Mark Tauscher weekdays from 9-11 on “Wilde & Tausch” on 100.5 FM ESPN Madison.

http://host.madison.com/wsj/sports/football/professional/packers-rookie-running-back-jamaal-williams-impresses-with-physical-mental/article_79c7c37f-ad3b-5e68-a277-510c55f3bfc1.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Colorado police chief denies truck trap allegation

Article thanks to Tom Quimby and hardworkingtrucks.com. Links provided:
Feb, 2017  Truck drivers being ticketed for running overweight in Erie, Colo. say that the town has set up a truck trap that’s costing them thousands of dollars.


Erie, with a population of around 20,000, is just east of Boulder on the west side of Interstate 25. A 13-ton weight limit has caused quite a stir among truckers, some of whom say the weight limit signs are not posted prominently enough to provide drivers with enough warning before entering the town.
Trucker Jeff Winowiecki, who was ticketed and fined $1,030 for being overweight on Highway 52, said by the time he saw the weight limit sign, it was too late to turn around.
“It was rush hour. Cars coming at me. Cars coming behind me. There’s nothing I can do. I’m just going to create a wreck if I try to do anything,” Winowiecki told kdvr.com.
Driver Tim Temple said he was also caught off guard by the sign.
“It`s a scam,” he said. “You can’t turn around nowhere. “You can’t back up nowhere. All you can do is go straight through town.”
Craig Engle was also ticketed for running overweight. He, Temple and Winowiecki challenged the citations in court late last year and lost. Since then, the fine has increased 157 percent to $2,650.
“You’ve heard of speed traps. This is a truck trap,” Craig Engle said following his loss in court.
Engle is hoping that other truckers will join him in his boycott against the town of Erie.
“I will not buy fuel here. I won’t buy my tires. Anything here. They got my thousand bucks, but they’re not going to get any of my business anymore,” he said.
Erie Police Chief Kim Stewart told Hard Working Trucks that truckers have been using the town as a short-cut and that they’ve had fair warning about the weight limit.
“We’re surrounded by Highway 52, Highway 287, Highway 7 and I-25. So truckers, with or without their loads, come through the town and they’re not doing business here. It’s sort of a short-cut to other places,” Stewart said.
Residents have been complaining, Stewart said, about tractor trailers speeding through town, losing material from uncovered loads and deteriorating their roads. She said there’s only one officer assigned to overweight trucks and that he’s written only 28 tickets since 2015.
“The heavier loads that are getting to 88,000 or 90,000 (pounds), he is ticketing those because they’re just tearing up our streets. It’s not these little cars that are doing that. It’s the large trucks. I’m not speaking ill of truckers. They’ve got a job to do like everybody else.”
Weight limit signs are properly posted, Stewart says.
“Let’s say you come into town and you see the 13-ton weight limit sign. The expectation is to take the first right and head back out which will put you back on Highway 287,” she said. “It will put you on a major road that can handle the weight in a very short amount of time.”
Scales are not used to weigh the trucks.
“We have a person that’s been trained on the trucks, and the identification of the truck, the sizes and the weights,” Stewart said. “He’s actually become quite an expert on that. Whether he’s an expert approved by the courts, I wouldn’t say that. He has that knowledge. And so he will see these trucks and if they’re loaded he can pretty much tell you what they weigh. He knows that a lot of the bases of the trucks are 17,000 unloaded. So, even if they’re loaded, they’re over the weight limit.”
Trucks that have business in Erie are not ticketed.
“We have a lot of the regional landfills here. The trucks are coming, they’re dropping off their load and taking the most direct route and they’re exiting the most direct route. No problem,” Stewart explained. “And truly, somebody that’s bringing a load to build a new house, or something like that, and they’re overweight, we never say a word.”
Last month, the city raised the overweight fine from $1,030 to the state maximum of $2,650. Concerns for public safety were among the reasons for the increase.
“One of the main roads that some of the truckers are on is called east county line. It divides walt county and Boulder County, we have a grade school and a middle school right off that road,” Stewart explained. “It’s just dangerous and it’s always about public safety.”
Stewart said her office has contacted trucking companies to warn them about the weight restriction.
“We’ve called the businesses that have truckers coming through and we’ve explained that,” she said. “Now some of the truckers have told the sergeant that they’re company still wants them to come through Erie and that they consider the ticket the cost of doing business. Whether that’s true or not, that’s what he’s been told.”
Stewart said the city “is not trying to ruin anyone’s livelihood” and that the officer issuing tickets for overweight trucks gives far more warnings to drivers than citations.
“If they have business in town come on in and do your business. We’re just trying not to be a throughway. There’s no truck trap,” she said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from an earlier version published on Feb. 22.
- See more at: http://www.hardworkingtrucks.com/colorado-police-chief-denies-truck-trap-allegation/?utm_source=hwt&utm_medium=email&utm_content=02-23-2017&utm_campaign=Hard%20Working%20Trucks&ust_id=ac3913ef69635b68afde05f06de0a439#sthash.4bIOHOwW.dpuf

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Why I Absolutely Hate Buying Cars!

And another of Life’s Lessons:

I’ve always been a car guy and have been fortunate to have owned some great ones in my life. The buying process for me, however has always been stressful and it sucks. Although I’ve managed to get some fantastic deals on some awesome cars, I’ve also been ripped off, mostly when I was a much younger man, and those memories are not pleasant.


Almost two years ago, my old beater, work car (1999 Dodge Neon) seemed to be about ready to expire so I started looking for a replacement. Wanting to buy something reliable as a second car to get back & forth to work that would last a few years until retirement, I searched the online private seller ads for a decent vehicle. I came across an ad for a 2006 PT Cruiser convertible with a turbo that had only 50,000 miles on it. Owned by a retired couple who towed it down to Arizona every winter behind their RV. Great looking car with good paint and like-new top. The price was right about book value. This is gotta be good, right?. Didn’t do any other research, raced over, did a quick test drive, and plunked the money down. What a piece of crap that car turned out to be. It was a money pit that I couldn’t trust to even start after 2 tows to a dealer. I finally got fed up, decided to absorb a huge loss, and bite the bullet. I put the car in a local online ad Tuesday, trying to get a decent price for it, went out to clean it, retracted the top for the first time this year and the rear window wouldn’t go down. Come on! Another trip to the dealer? That was my breaking point.


Wednesday, I went online to search vehicle inventories at nearby dealers. I’ve spent a lot of time researching cars the last few weeks and found a 2016 Nissan Altima at a dealer only a couple miles away from me. I rented a 2016 Altima to drive back to Wisconsin last September (didn’t trust the PT Cruiser) and was very impressed with the roomy, comfortable car, great power and 38 MPG average on the round trip.


This car was one of the dealer’s own fleet vehicles, well equipped and had only 8,000 miles on it (some were most likely rental miles). It was first titled in July of 2016. The ad said it was a “Certified Used Car” with extended warranty, so I took the PT Cruiser over to see what they would give me for it, knowing it wouldn’t be much. To make a long story a little shorter, we went back and forth, me taking another $2000 hit on the trade-in, but the Altima was well more than $2000 under book. I’m thinking, go for it and get this POS Chrysler off my back....

Then the game begins:

The price of 15K for the Altima was only good if I financed it through Nissan. It amazes me that they don't even want your cash anymore. They make a commission from Nissan finance based on as much as they can lend for as long a period as possible, assuming they can qualify you. OK, for that price, I’m thinking, I can pay it off or re-fi in a couple months.


I specifically remember the exact words of the salesman when looking at the car, “ This is a ‘certified used car’ and comes with a 7 year, 100,000 mile warranty in addition to the three year factory warranty”. The salesman then had me at a table, another guy hanging out within earshot. We worked the numbers and I asked what other fees they would come up with. I specifically remember again the exact words, “document prep fee of $295, taxes, registration and license fees”. The other guy hanging out would jump in, coaching up the salesman(boy) after I asked questions. I agreed to make the deal. I then sat and twiddled my thumbs for 45 minutes while they “did the paperwork”.  Meanwhile, they take the license plates off my PT Cruiser and inform me that they’re in the trunk of my “new car”. Finally the finance dude calls me in to start signing papers.


He’s shoving papers in front of me to sign like I’m buying a freaking house, telling me I’m getting the first 3 oil changes and inspections at no charge. Paper after paper, no contract, I was getting a bad feeling this was not going to turn out well. Of course, the second last document was “the contract”, and that contract was about $3000.00 more than what we agreed to! Those first 3 oil changes? That was going to cost me a $100 maintenance fee. That 7 year, 100,00 mile warranty? That was $2000.00. Line item “Gap” charge $895.00? I asked “what the hell is that?”. Answer: “That is Gap insurance, in case you total the car and you are upside down on your payments”. Emissions and safety inspection? $100.00. Double the price you’d pay at a regular emission site.
My 64 year old temper then erupted. Without detailing the entire conversation, suffice to say a few bad words in a very irate voice were said by me, a gal that was busy photocopying, put down her papers and abruptly left the room. I told him "put the license plates back on my PT Cruiser, I’ll find somewhere else to buy a car". As I started to get up, he's got his hands up in the air saying “hold on, hold on, let me fix this”.

He had to tear up the contract and write a new one as well as redo the finance agreement, and he was not happy, desperately pleading non-stop that I absolutely "needed" that $2000 extended warranty. I told him that they should have been upfront with me at the beginning, I was not going to be played for a fool and I'm not paying for an additional warranty. After signing the revisions, he walked out of his office saying he would find my salesman. The prick never even said thanks or goodbye, leaving me standing there. He had the temporary registration tag for the back window in his hand and stuck it on the showroom door as he went outside while calling the salesman on a two-way radio. He never came back, the photocopy gal was gone, as well as a couple other people that had been standing around outside his open office door. The salesman came and got me after a couple minutes. That’s supposed to make me feel guilty? Think I would recommend them to anyone else? Hell no! I'm hoping Nissan contacts me for a review of my "car buying" experience.

You have to be prepared to stand your ground and remember what is stated, they will clean your pockets for everything they can get! One thing I learned over these many years, think clearly and be prepared to walk away from a bad deal. And doing some research would have saved me a bunch of wasted money on that PT Cruiser, a lesson I should have remembered! Consumer Reports has vast data on the reliability history of automobiles. If you're in the market for a vehicle, you can pay $6.95 per month for a few months while you do your homework. Edmunds.com is a pretty good source also that is free.

Hopefully, if I have to buy another vehicle in my life, there will be a better way to do it, or in my old age, I may throw my future cane or walker at the next guy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Time to sign up for Mother’s Day Convoy

Article thanks to Jim Sweeney and the RoadPro Family of Brands. Links provided:


There were a record-setting 590 trucks in last year’s Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Convoy in Lancaster, Pa., but Eddie Perales had eyes only for the one in which his son, Justin, was a passenger.
Seeing Justin wave from the cab of the Freightliner brought Eddie back to the terrible time when he thought his son was going to die from a brain hemorrhage.
“He was almost dead,” Eddie thought, “and look at him now, waving to everyone and offering hope to other families.”
Justin Perales is one of more than 100 children who ride in the annual convoy and one of thousands helped by Make-A-Wish of Philadelphia, Northern Delaware & Susquehanna Valley, the beneficiary of the fundraiser.
Justin, 11, will be back in the convoy this year with the same driver as last year, Henry Albert of Statesville, N.C.
“I have been in the convoy eight years and I do it because it’s a great cause. The kids make it worth all the effort of being there,” Albert said.
Justin was only seven in 2013 when he collapsed during a family trip. Doctors diagnosed a brain hemorrhage caused by a congenital defect and he was flown by helicopter to Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, Pa.. He was put into an induced coma for three weeks, surviving a second hemorrhage and several operations.
His slow recovery has entailed more surgeries and years of therapy, but Justin, now 11, is back in school and doing much better. He still has some memory problems and he has not regained full use of his right hand, but his father is grateful for the progress made.
A bright spot in the four years since the hemorrhage was the Make-A-Wish trip the family took in 2014 to Aulani, a Disney resort in Hawaii. For Justin, Eddie, his wife, Addy, and their younger son, Jordan, it was a welcome break from the regimen of treatments and therapy.
“It was beyond just treating us with respect,” Eddie said of their reception at the resort. “It was another level. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life.”
Justin still keeps souvenirs from the trip in his room, Eddie added.   
Last year’s convoy, which claimed the Guinness Book of World Records title for World’s Longest Truck Convoy, raised more than $400,000 for the Make-A-Wish chapter, which equated to funding 40 wishes like the one granted the Perales family.
RoadPro® Family of Brands, based in nearby Palmyra, has been the primary sponsor of the convoy since 2015. Eddie, who had been laid off shortly before his son fell ill, was hired as a salesman by RoadPro a year ago.
“I’m grateful to RoadPro and Make-A-Wish and to everyone who helps organize and support the convoy. We used to go just to see the trucks, but now I have a new appreciation for how much it helps Make-A-Wish and all the families like mine,” Eddie said.      
The Mother’s Day Convoy will be Sun., May 14 in Lancaster, Pa. For information on how to participate or donate, go here.

http://www.roadprobrands.com/