It’s coming…Google’s driverless car

Google driverless car

Photo credit: John Green

If you’re a Sci-fi fan, the concept of the driverless car is nothing new. But, seeing it actually happen in real-time is a completely different thing.

It turns out that Google’s driverless vehicles have now logged close to 700,000 miles in autonomous driving. That’s nothing to sneeze at, and has probably saved the company at least a few thousand dollars in coffee and caffeine pills alone. But there are many other potential benefits to be had.

Mercury News reporter Gary Richards had this to say about his recent test drive:

“Google’s grand experiment picked me up at home in West San Jose and ferried me to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. Later other cars took me and numerous other media types on a 25-minute tour of city streets.

There were two Google workers along for each trip, but for the most part, there were no hands on the steering wheel.

Got that? No hands. The car made a few abrupt moves into left-turn lanes. And once it shuddered at another turn when a nearby bus seemed to confuse the onboard computers.”

Safety is a primary concern and selling point of the vehicles. “We actually haven’t had any at-fault accidents while the car is in self-driving mode,” said Google spokeswoman Katelin Jabbari. “The only at-fault accident was caused while a driver was in control.”

To tackle that, Google has packed these vehicles with $150K in specialized equipment, which includes a radar system with a price tag of $70K alone. All these gadgets enable the car to generate a 3-D map of its surroundings and can detect other vehicles, pedestrians and other things that lay in its path.

Per that, we still don’t know how much these cars are going to cost, but one can imagine. Stay tuned for more on that aspect.

For now, check out Gary Richards’ full review.

 

 

Kickstart my heart: one man’s rocky relationship with his vehicle’s starter

Toughone_Starter_SStarterThe starter and I have long had an uneasy relationship. We hit rock bottom a few years ago, but since then we’ve patched up our differences and things have been going pretty well. At least up until last week. But that’s ok. Every relationship is going to have its ups and downs, right?

The problem is that for a while there, the starter was letting me down, consistently. I couldn’t count on it when I needed it most, and that kind of behavior will put a serious damper on any relationship in a heartbeat. If I want this relationship to work, I know I need to look ahead and stop dwelling on the past injustices starters have inflicted upon me, but someone needs to hear my side of the story.

There was the time before the 18-inch snowstorm. We were going on three winters without measurable snow, and I was itching for a big one so I could go out and plow my driveway, my neighbors’ driveways, the roads in the neighborhood, and pretty much any other flat, snow-covered surface that would give me an excuse to keep plowing, and playing. The old Massey Ferguson 65 tractor had its tank filled with off-road diesel, battery charged, and the block heater plugged in. In the morning, I’d be ready to push some snow. Unfortunately, my tractor starter had other ideas. That’s the time it picked to fail. After I finished clearing the driveway, by hand, I removed that tractor starter and found it filled with an oily, watery mess. No surprise it had stopped working.

Then there was the time I was selling my riding lawn mower at our moving sale. It was well on its way to being sold, until the prospective buyer went to start it. Yep, you guessed it. The tractor starter failed and needed to be replaced before he’d complete the sale. The nerve!

How about the Valentine’s Day dinner in the city that never was because the car starter on the old ’85 Chevy Caprice that grandma was kind enough to pass on to us newlyweds picked that night to die. Not feeling the love.

And finally, there was the long-running battle of three consecutive truck starter failures, each about nine months apart, on my ’99 F150. Turns out my neighbor really didn’t know how to rebuild a truck starter. Once I wised up an replaced it with a quality truck starter, the problem was solved.

If there’s a silver lining to these experiences, it’s that the starter and I are still together (like I have a choice), I now know how to replace a starter; I know the importance of buying a good replacement starter, and I can usually hear when a starter is getting ready to check out of a relationship. Oh yeah, and I can usually get a malfunctioning car starter to work a couple more times simply by banging on it with a hammer.

If the starter in your life is giving you grief, here’s some relationship advice.

  • The end may be near. If you hear an odd metallic grinding sound from under the hood, or if there is just a clicking sound when turning the key before the engine finally cranks, your car starter could be on its last legs.
  • Diagnose the problem. If you suspect the starter might be bad, get it tested. Stop by your local Advance Auto Parts store for free testing. If the vehicle won’t start, just bring in the starter instead.
  • Bang on it. If the starter has indeed failed and left you stranded, try banging on it with a hammer. Oftentimes this will get it working again, but it’s not a trick you should rely on more than once. Instead, make a note that reads “replace starter” and put it somewhere you’ll see it.
  • Replace it. Swapping out a malfunctioning starter with a new one isn’t rocket science. First, check out this video for some quick tips. While this procedure can vary depending on the vehicle year, make and model, here are the starter-replacement steps, in a nutshell:
    1. Locate your starter.
    2. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
    3. Label and disconnect the wires on the starter.
    4. Unbolt the car starter, being careful not to drop it as it may be heavy.
    5. Install the new starter.
    6. Reconnect the wires.
    7. Reconnect the negative battery cable.
    8. Start the vehicle.

Since I started purchasing quality replacement starters,  instead of asking my neighbor to try and rebuild them for me, the starter and I have had a much better relationship. I’m hoping it stays that way, and not just because they’re calling for 12 to 14 inches tonight.

Editor’s note: If you and your starter are going through a bit of a rough patch in your relationship, Advance Auto Parts can help. Buy online, pick up in store–in 30 minutes.

If you’re an automotive obsessive…read on!

What does it take to own one of the finest performance automobile collections in the world? We sat down with Ken Lingenfelter to find out.

Photo credit: The Lingenfelter Collection.

Photo credit: The Lingenfelter Collection.

Many of you will recognize the name Ken Lingenfelter from the bonkers twin turbo Corvettes bearing his surname and family legacy that have dominated drag strips and track events for more than 25 years. But what you may not know is that he is the owner of one of the most comprehensive collections of performance automotive engineering in existence–The Lingenfelter Collection.

Ken Lingenfelter was–in his own words–“destined to be a car guy.” Today he owns more than 225 of the world’s most awe-inspiring cars, from a Bugatti Veyron to a Ferrari Enzo and from a Lamborghini Reventón to much, much more.

So, it’s hard to dispute his destiny. But, we at Advance Auto Parts wanted to delve into that statement a little more deeply–and here’s what we found out.

It all started with Matchbox cars

“By the time I was four or five,” Ken tells us, “I knew the make and model of every car that drove by and I may have had more Matchbox cars than any other kid in the country.”

His father was an executive at General Motors. He would come for dinner and then, afterwards, Ken would go back to the factory with him, where he absorbed the atmosphere of car development and testing.

“And then,” Ken says in a reverent voice. “And then, when I was ten years old, I saw a ’63 split window Corvette. If I wasn’t a 100% car guy before that, I sure was then.”

Ken’s love of vehicles continued through high school, when he was suspended for drag racing in front of the building (true story) and where he loved tearing down engines and rebuilding them in shop class. And, once that kind of passion hits, you just can’t, as Ken puts it, “shed it.”

From a few cars in a garage to a car collection

Some of the earliest cars that he owned include a ’77 Corvette Coupe and a 1969 Jaguar XKE (the latter of which is now gone to make room for other spectacular vehicles).  Before he knew it, he had 25 cars that he stored in a warehouse.

“I had a pretty successful business,” he says, “and I sold it in 2003. I then bought Lingenfelter Performance Engineering [in 2008] and that gave me the opportunity to do much more and I ramped up collecting at that point.”

Lingenfelter Performance Engineering was previously owned by a distant cousin of Ken’s, John Lingenfelter–who won 13 NHRA national titles before dying of race-related injuries.

At the same time that Ken was purchasing Lingenfelter Performance Engineering , he decided he wanted a venue to help raise funds for charity, so he added to the warehouse, going straight back, so that the 12,000 square foot space was now 40,000 square feet. “My goal was to have a space big enough that we’d never have to move one car to get another one out,” Ken says. “But, that didn’t last long.”

Not 150 cars, 225 cars (but who’s counting?)

Although many sources online state that Ken owns approximately 150 cars in his car collection, he says that is inaccurate. In fact, he has more than 225 world-class vehicles; perhaps the confusion arises because only 160 to 170 of these cars can fit into the main warehouse during non-profit events. The rest need stored in an overflow facility located down the street.

Photo credit: The Lingenfelter Collection.

Photo credit: The Lingenfelter Collection.

 

“There are themes in my collection,” Ken says. “For example, I like GM products. I’m a GM guy. So that’s one theme. Approximately 30% of my vehicles are muscle cars and 30% are exotics. I love Corvettes and Lingenfelter race cars, especially ones that set records. We currently have two drag cars that attract a lot of attention. When people come to our place for charity events, they’ll say that those cars look familiar–and they should, since they’ve been out at the drag strips.”

Because he owns more cars than can fit comfortably into the main building during an event, he can customize which ones appear at a particular get-together. “We’re looking to display cars that will attract people, so if a Corvette group is having an event, as just one example, we’ll show more Corvettes.”

Did we say 225 cars? We meant 225+ cars (and growing!)

So, is Ken done buying? The short answer is “no.” The longer answer is as follows: “I’m going to keep going. I’m always looking, always trying to find something unique, such as one-off cars, something that’s a little wild in styling or a car that raced and set records. Because of that, eBay is tough to stay off of.”

One car in particular that has his eye, at the time of writing this post, is the 1988 Callaway Sledgehammer Corvette that his cousin John drove to set a world record in speed for a street driven, street legal car: 254.76 miles per hour. “John put his life on the line to set that record,” Ken says, “so I’d really like it. But it may go for more at auction than I’m willing to pay. We’ll see.”

The Callaway Sledgehammer is up for auction by Mecum Auctions in Kissimmee, Florida.

Using the car collection for good

“I’ve seen a lot of need in my life,” Ken says, explaining why he decided to build a venue that could be opened up for charitable events, “and now we have a venue where charities can hold fun events. I’m pleasantly surprised that all has worked out so well. We often focus on kids’ charities and hold major holiday events. Overall, these events range from black tie affairs to a Saturday night car club hangout.”

During one event that lasted from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., approximately 4,000 people filed through to ooh and aah over the cars. “That was pretty overwhelming,” Ken admits, “and a little scary at times. Fortunately the group kept moving through and now we know to limit the number of people.”

So, what does Ken do while these events go on? He helps, of course, however he can–and then does one more thing. “Since I’m a car geek,” he admits, “I like to look at people’s cars as they come in.”

Sometimes he sends cars to showcase at events, such as local car shows and charity events. “I get asked quite a bit,” he says, “and it’s hard to say no. Plus, you can’t just have cars sit. It can ruin them.”

What are Ken Lingenfelter’s favorites?

 

Photo credit: The Lingenfelter Collection.

Photo credit: The Lingenfelter Collection.

 

Ken loves Ferraris (the Ferrari Enzo is “truly” one of his favorites), he loves Corvettes, he loves the Porsche. “There is a car called LaFerrari that is coming out this year that will be a supercar. Ferrari selected people to sell them to and I was on the short list. In fact, I was one of the first 20 people to be picked so I’ve got one coming. It’s the ultimate in supercars.”

The LaFerrari is not just another supercar. It’s a hybrid 963 horsepower hypercar limited to only 499 planned production models. Looks like Mr. Lingenfelter’s car collection just even got more bonkers.

Editor’s note: What types of cars do you (or would you) collect? Let us know in the comments below. Also, visit Advance Auto Parts for the best tools and parts to keep your ride running right–whatever it may be.

Tips on how to jump start a car

Advance Auto PartsBefore missing that important meeting, being late to pick the kids up from school or enduring first date embarrassment when you need to call to ask to be picked up, take the time to learn the basics of how to jump start a car battery yourself.

Many people are surprised at how easy it is to learn how to get car batteries running again, and quickly become confident in what to do if a battery gives out at a bad time.

Jump start with the following steps:

1)   First, park a working vehicle next to your car. It’s best to line them up side by side or hood to hood, but be sure they don’t touch. Then, turn off your car’s ignition and also turn off any accessories in your car such as a CD player, phone charger, dome light and so forth. Check to make sure your external lights are off, too, which can drain car batteries further.

2)   Then, with your jumper cables, connect the red positive clamp to your dead battery’s positive post. This is clearly marked by a plus sign on your car’s battery. Then, connect the other red clamp to the positive post on the good battery in the other vehicle.

3)   Next, make sure the cables are out of the car’s hood components and not tangled in any way. They should run along the ground and not rest on the battery itself, the engine or any other internal component of either vehicle.

4)   Take the black clamp and connect it to the good battery’s negative post. Then, connect the other black clamp (also known as the negative clamp) to any metal surface onto the inside of the dead car. Carefully check the cables entirely to be sure they are not lying against or tangled up with any moving parts of either vehicle.

5)   Start up the engine of the working car and let it idle for a few minutes. Then, start your dead car and wait a few more minutes for it to receive a bit more power from the good battery. If it is still unable to start up, give the battery a few more minutes to revive.

6)   When the car is started, undo the BLACK NEGATIVE clamps first. This should be the reverse order of how you placed them on the car and it’s essential you remove the negative ones first to avoid injury or damage. Continue to be careful to keep dangling cables out of the car’s internal parts.

7)   Drive your revived car around for a bit to make sure the battery is working properly. Do this in a parking lot or another area where you are safe if your car battery dies again.

8)   Do not turn off your vehicle until it’s had adequate time to run and recharge a bit on its own.

It’s really that simple to revive your car battery, and almost anyone can learn how to do it.

Also watch a video on how to jump start a car battery, created by automotive experts at Advance Auto Parts.

Editor’s note: Visit Advance Auto Parts for more info on the quality car battery options available.

Storing Your Car for the Winter

Advance Auto PartsAre the winters warm where you live? If so, you’re among the lucky few, because most of us have to deal with freezing temperatures, snowstorms, salted roads and the rest of it. That’s why it makes sense for snow-belt residents to store nonessential vehicles for the winter. You’ll still need your daily driver to get around, of course, but it’s best not to tackle winter roads in your weekend cruiser, whether it’s a classic convertible or a contemporary sports car.

So when you’re ready to put your pride and joy away till spring, check out my five essential tips for winter car storage. As long as you follow these five steps, your ride should fire right up when you’re reunited in the spring. Did I forget anything? Go ahead and tell me in a comment if you think I left out an important step.

1. Fill the gas tank and add fuel stabilizer

This may seem counterintuitive, since the car won’t be going anywhere for months. But if you store a car for the winter with a partially or mostly empty gas tank, condensation can form inside the tank, and you also run the risk of drying out the seals. So fill up that tank before you park it, and here’s another winter car care tip: don’t forget to add a fuel stabilizer like Sta-Bil so that the gas will stay fresh.

2. Connect your battery to a trickle charger

Your battery will inevitably go dead during winter car storage if you just leave it the way it is, and cold temperatures might knock it out for good, so you’ll need to take preemptive action. Some mechanics suggest taking the battery out altogether, but I’m not a fan of that; you lose all your electronic settings, for one thing, and for another, who knows what computer system you might mess up if it’s a modern car? What I recommend for winter car battery maintenance is picking up a “trickle charger” and making sure you run it at regular intervals to keep the battery charged. This lets you keep the battery hooked up in the car without any risk that it’ll wear itself out.

3. Overinflate your tires or remove the wheels altogether

If you let your car sit in the same spot for three or four months without preparing the tires, you’re bound to get flat spots. So here’s the deal: if you’ve got modern radial tires, add an extra 5-10psi of air for the winter–and if you’ve got old-school bias ply tires, put the car on jack stands, take the wheels off and stack them in a corner. For full protection, consider doing the same with radials, too. Hey, you’ll thank me come spring when you’re the only one who doesn’t need a replacement set of tires.

4. Keep the parking brake off

Here’s a little thing that a lot of people forget about. If you park a car for months with the emergency brake engaged, the e-brake could get stuck to the rotors and warp them, wreaking havoc on your braking performance. Just get some wheel chocks instead and stick one behind each wheel–problem solved.

5. Drive it ASAP!

I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, but seriously, don’t wait a minute longer than you have to. Cars like to be driven, and months of solitary confinement isn’t their idea of a good time. I’m not talking about a little trip around the block, either; when you drive a car that’s been in winter car storage, you’ll want to mix in plenty of highway driving to get the operating temperature up and circulate those fluids through the engine. Speaking of fluids, you’ll definitely want to get an oil change as soon as you take your car out of hibernation, but I’ll have more to say about that when I revisit this topic in the spring.

How about you–what are you planning to do when you store your car for the winter? Let me know; I always like to hear about what other mechanics next door are up to.

Editor’s note: visit Advance Auto Parts for a wide selection of quality auto parts and accessories. Buy online, pick up in store.

Graphic courtesy of Carpediem Mag.

Peace of mind with FREE electrical testing*

Advance Auto PartsWhile no one “invented” electricity, geniuses such as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla made amazing strides in harnessing it for human use and convenience. In fact, much of your car’s operation relies upon electricity, which includes your battery, starter and alternator–and much frustration occurs when any of these systems don’t have enough power.

Avoid the frustration through free electrical testing at Advance Auto Parts stores.

Auto battery testing

We’ve all heard horror stories about dead batteries, often in miserably cold (or hot!) weather and/or at a time when the driver needed to be somewhere, stat. Maybe it’s happened to you.

To prevent such scenarios, have your battery tested at Advance Auto Parts. It’s fast and it’s free, and will help to save you from being stranded.

Starter testing

If your engine is turning too slowly when you’re trying to start your vehicle and/or if it’s making some scary noises–or if you just want to be proactive about your electrical testing–stop by Advance Auto Parts today.

As far back as 1952, Popular Mechanics recognized the starter as a car’s “nervous system” and acknowledged that it’s the system that’s “most taken for granted” in a vehicle. Don’t make that mistake. Request starter testing at Advance Auto Parts today.

Alternator testing

The alternator transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy and works with the battery to power areas of a vehicle that rely upon electricity. It’s possible that your car will continue to run for a short amount of time, even after the alternator goes bad–that is, until the power stored in the battery is used up.

So, when your battery “dies,” it may in fact be an alternator problem. Ask for alternator testing at your local Advance Auto Parts store to keep track of this vital car part.

Get peace of mind by having alternator, starter and battery testing done on your vehicle today.

Find the Advance Auto Parts store closest to you now.

 

*Free services available for most automotive vehicles, most locations, unless prohibited by law. Free installation with purchase only. Visit your local Advance Auto Parts store for complete details.

Auto battery recycling made easy

Advance Auto PartsWhen it’s time to replace your battery, it’s important to recycle your old one. That’s because auto batteries are basically made from three elements: acid, plastic and lead – and, when they are improperly disposed of, the chemicals and heavy metals found within them can seep into soil and contaminate groundwater, streams and lakes. If burned, these noxious substances pollute the air.

These chemicals and heavy metals can have dangerous consequences for people’s health and the environment alike. Because of these dangers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helped to pass the Battery Act in May 1996 to encourage recycling of old batteries.

Fortunately, it’s easy to be green: you can simply drop your old battery off at the local Advance Auto Parts store (most vehicles, most locations, unless prohibited by law) and we’ll take care of the rest.

The battery recycling process

According to the Battery Council International, the first step in recycling auto batteries is smashing them to smithereens using a device called, appropriately enough, a hammermill. The pieces of the batteries go into a container, with the heavier materials, including lead, falling to the bottom and the plastic staying at the top. The plastic is removed and liquids siphoned.

A recycler then melts the plastic pieces and extrudes them into pellets. The pellets are sold to manufacturers who make new batteries out of them. Lead pieces are smelted and then poured into ingots, which are also sent to manufacturers for use in new batteries. The acid becomes neutralized with the addition of an industrial product that turns it into water; the water is treated before being released into sewer systems. The acid can also be turned into sodium sulfate that can be used in multiple ways, including glass and textile manufacturing, or in the making of new auto batteries.

This is considered a closed loop system, because it can be repeated over and over again, allowing new products to be made from the old.

Legal matters

Auto battery recycling is a great move for the environment, but it’s also smart from a legal sense. Thirty states, according to National Geographic’s Green Living site, ban people from throwing away lead batteries in their trash.

Automotive oil recycling

Advance Auto Parts also recycles used motor oil. And, according to the American Petroleum Institute and quoted by the Environmental Protection Agency (AAP), “Recycling just 2 gallons of used oil can generate enough electricity to run the average household for almost 24 hours.”

Editor’s note: Learn more more about automotive oil recycling, plus save with Advance’s Oil Change Specials.

Spark Plugs 101

Advance Auto PartsA lot of people come to me for car advice, and here’s one thing I’ve noticed: everyone thinks they know about spark plugs, but almost no one really does. So I decided to make this column all about spark plugs, because trust me, your engine relies on them every day–which means you do, too. That’s why I want you to get familiar with these little buggers. Let’s dive right in with a little Q&A.

What do spark plugs do?

Here’s a fun fact about your engine: unless you’re driving an electric car, in which case this article definitely isn’t for you, you’ve got what’s known as an ICE, which stands for “internal combustion engine.” Now, combustion requires a spark, doesn’t it. See where I’m going with this? Spark plugs are a crucial part of your engine because they’re what makes that combustion happen, both at ignition and while the engine moves through each combustion cycle during operation. When the plugs aren’t doing their job, your engine’s not getting the full combustion benefit, so everything from acceleration and fuel economy to engine smoothness is going to be negatively affected.

How do I know when to replace spark plugs?

My rule of thumb is that if something seems funny about your engine, you should check the spark plugs first. If you’re a hands-off kind of car owner, of course, you’ll just take it to your mechanic and get it diagnosed. But if you want to inspect the plugs yourself, it’s a pretty easy job. Check your owner’s manual to find out where the plugs are located, and then pop the hood and have a look. If the plugs appear dirty, that could mean you’ve got an oil leak or excessive carbon deposits–and if they look damaged, your engine might be running too hot or misfiring.

Keep in mind, though, that even if they look fine, they might be past their prime. Consult your owner’s manual for when to replace spark plugs, too, and if you think you’re past due, I’d recommend replacing them, just to be safe.

Can I replace my own spark plugs?

Now, I said you could check them, but I didn’t say you should try to replace them! Truth is, for a seasoned backyard mechanic, popping the old plugs out and putting new ones in is pretty straightforward. But if you haven’t done it before, you should probably have someone like me looking over your shoulder the first time through. I know the internet’s full of DIY guides on how to change spark plugs, but there’s some serious wrenching going on here–literally. You need a socket wrench, and you may need a specific spark-plug socket and other accessories as well. Plus, there’s a fairly advanced technique called “gapping” that may or may not be required, depending on your vehicle’s age and other factors.

Promise me this: if you do try one of those tutorials on how to change spark plugs, please, wait for the engine to cool off first. I’m talking four hours, minimum. Those plugs are responsible for combustion, remember? Better safe than scalded!

What about cleaning spark plugs?

Here’s where I differ from a lot of DIY-ers. You’ll find various folk remedies for cleaning spark plugs, but for peace of mind, I say just swap ‘em out if they’re that dirty. Because how much money are you really saving, right? Twenty bucks? Fifty? Spark plugs are a car owner’s dream, really, because they’re that rare important engine part that’s also inexpensive. If it’s my car, I believe my engine’s worth that kind of investment, every day of the week. Give it the shiny new plugs it deserves.

What do you think?

I’ve seen a few spark plugs in my day, but I’ll be the first to admit, this article isn’t the last word on the subject. Got anything to contribute? See things differently? Chime in with a comment, and help me and everyone else here understand where you’re coming from.

 

Editor’s note: For more info on these DIY essentials, check out the Resources & Video section at Advance Auto Parts.

July honors female riders: Women’s Motorcycle Month…and more

Motorcycle WomanAccording to a 2010 press release from Allstate Insurance, women comprise one third of people completing motorcycle safety classes, even though only 1 in 10 motorcyclists are female. That says plenty about these women’s attention to safety, and Women’s Motorcycle Month both honors that and shares safety tips to reduce the likelihood of accidents even further.

The number of women riding motorcycles will probably continue to increase, so Advance Auto Parts would like to share a link to Consumer Reports’ 10 motorcycle safety tips for new riders published in April 2013. Among the most important are to stick to the speed limit and to avoid drinking alcohol if you plan to ride. Discover plenty more great information in the Consumer Reports article.

Air Conditioning Appreciation Days: July 3 through August 15

When the dog days of summer hit, air conditioning in our vehicles, homes and workplaces makes daily life much more enjoyable. In fact, a 2002 press release about Air Conditioning Appreciation Days asks the following questions about air conditioning: “How many tempers have been quelled? How has productivity been increased? How many technologies have been allowed to develop? How many medical problems have been alleviated and how has our quality of life been improved because of air conditioning?”

The answer to each question is probably something like . . . a whole bunch.

Collector Car Appreciation Day: July 12

According to Wikipedia, Collector Car Appreciation Day honors automotive restoration and collection. It became a day of celebration in 2010, partly because of the U.S. Senate resolution 513, sponsored by Jon Tester (MT) and Richard Burr (NC).

That first year, groups and clubs sponsored car cruises, open houses and the like, with more than 100 events taking place in more than 40 states. If you have a collector car, we’d love to see a photo! Please send it to [email address] with some information about the car, when you purchased it and what restoration you’ve done.

Editor’s note: Visit the Advance Auto Parts Motorcycle Maintenance Center for a wide variety of motorcycle essentials. In the meantime, let us know what summer projects you’ve got going on this month.

Photo courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com.

Advance Author Series: Jonathan Rintels and LIFEMOBILE

Jonathan Rintels At its heart, the story of Lifemobile focuses on a young man, his father and a car. Not just any car, though. It’s a Chevy Corvair, the sporty car singled out as especially unsafe by Ralph Nadar in his 1965 book, Unsafe at Any Speed. Nadar’s specific accusation was that the car rolled over more frequently than the average car and, because of that claim, the Corvair became a symbol of dangerous cars. In 1969, Chevrolet produced the last of this line and even a 1972 government study that refuted Nadar’s charge didn’t change the reputation of this model.

Fast forwarding to late 2009, Jonathan thought about buying a Corvair. “My father was a real fan and owned two of them,” he says, “so I decided to buy one on eBay, a 1965 Corsa. My son J.B., who has Asperger Syndrome, wasn’t happy about the purchase. He’s very unsentimental and practical and wants to focus only on facts. The facts, as he knew them at the time were that Corvairs didn’t have good gas mileage, weren’t safe and required lots of maintenance.”

Jonathan bought the car, anyhow.

Change of heart leads to the writing of Lifemobile

At that time, J.B., an honors student, was applying to college. “Independent living was going to be a huge challenge,” Jonathan explains, “and he didn’t get into the program that would have offered support. He was devastated. He decided there was no place for him in this world and that he had no future. He wasn’t even getting out of bed.”

Jonathan tried to get J.B. interested in life again, so he talked to his son about the government studies that showed the Corvair as either safe or safer than comparable cars on the road today. “The scales,” Jonathan remembers, “just fell from his eyes. He said, ‘So the car isn’t defective. It’s just different like me.’ When he said that, my heart broke.”

The conversation did the trick, though, and the car became a huge passion of J.B.’s and he soon wouldn’t ride in anything else. “He lectured people on its safety,” Jonathan recalls, “telling them it is the greatest car ever.”

Jonathan, on the other hand, had a more balanced approach to the car, happy about the positives, but not so thrilled about the negatives, including when the car “stalled all over town.”

The father-son duo began to join car clubs, attend local events and otherwise steep themselves into the Corvair culture. Jonathan, a professional writer with three decades of experience, also began writing a memoir with this as its central theme. “It turned into a novel,” he explains, “as I added characters that my son didn’t actually cross paths with in real life.”

The result was Lifemobile, with Robert Bianco, television critic for USA saying this about the book: In this lovely first novel from Jonathan Rintels, what begins, literally and figuratively, as a reclamation project for the much maligned Corvair grows into a sweet, moving celebration of the bond between fathers and sons – the way their flaws can magnify each other and their virtues can save each other.

Jonathan also started a non-profit agency

He serves as the executive director of the Center for Creative Voices in Media, which is dedicated to preserving free speech and expression, and encouraging diversity in the media’s creative voices. Board members have included Warren Beatty, Steven Bochco, Peggy Charren, Blake Edwards, Sissy Spacek and other professionals who have won an Oscar, Emmy or Tony Award.

Editor’s note: Be sure to watch for other author interviews in this series. In the meantime, check out Advance Auto Parts for the best in savings, service and selection.