Note: A guest in this episode now goes by River Butcher.
BONUS: Judge John Hodgman, Bailiff Jesse Thorn and Expert Witness and Automotive Enthusiast Rhea Butcher clear an all-automobile-related docket in a sponsored bonus episode of Judge John Hodgman. They’ll weigh in on whether you can avoid being a jerk with a vanity plate, how to decide whose car to drive to the malt shop, new-car advice, and more!
Rhea Butcher’s upcoming show Take My Wife will be available on Seeso.
Here’s an amazing extended list of best practices from listener and car expert Nick:
* Warming up your car in the winter. In the vast majority of instances, this is unnecessary. This is something that people typically do for their own comfort. They claim that the warm-up is good for the car, but they tell themselves that to assuage their guilt about wasting fuel, polluting unnecessarily, and perhaps doing more harm than good to their car. The crux, for most of these people, is dishonesty and laziness. The car is designed to be warmed up by driving gently until normal operating temperature is reached.
Exceptions include: older carbureted vehicles, sub-zero temperatures, some turbocharged vehicles
* Proper air conditioning use. The proper way to cool a car’s interior quickly after it’s been baking in the sun is to turn the A/C to the coldest setting, set the blower motor to high, be sure the intake is in the fresh air position (not recirculate), and roll all the windows down. This is the fastest way to get the car comfortably cool. I have a friend who refuses to believe this, claiming that the best practice is to keep the windows up. He is wrong and will stay wrong.
Exceptions include: rain, insect swarm, otherwise foul circumstances
A note on fresh air vs. recirculate: the best strategy is to keep the setting on fresh air, using the recirculate setting sparingly as conditions dictate. Keeping the selector set to recirculate all the time can lead to the car smelling stale, making the car’s owner “that guy” with the gross car. The smell comes on slowly enough that “that guy” is the last one to know how gross he is.
* Fast lane etiquette. The primary purpose of the far left lane is passing. Cruising in the left lane is not only rude and entitled, it often leads to clusters of traffic and encourages frustrated drivers to attempt to make up for lost time by speeding. Furthermore, the fast lane is no place to prove a point to the car behind you. The proper thing to do is make way for faster cars should they approach from behind, helping to prevent traffic clusters. The faster car, after remaining behind the slower car for a sensible amount of time, is permitted a quick flash of the headlights to signal the driver in front. That driver’s responsibility is to make way without taking offense.
Exceptions include: HOV lanes, heavy traffic, surface roads
* Clearing snow and ice before driving. All piled snow should be removed from the vehicle in a way which doesn’t cause damage to the paint. In most cases, a brush will suffice. Once bulk of the snow has been removed, every window and mirror on the car should be cleared entirely, along with every exterior light (brake lights, headlights, turn signals, etc.).
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