Beware of those do-it-yourself jobs

Customers often ask me if there are jobs they can do relatively easily by themselves. I then ask them how much experience they have doing automotive work. If they tell me they have already been performing basic jobs, I can then advise them if it is possible for them to perform certain procedures.

One size does not fit all when it comes to bike lanes

Chris Hoeber/Special to the Town Crier
The protected bike lane at the entrance to Greene Middle School in Palo Alto aims to shield cyclists from cars.

One day last December, my wife, Mary, came home and asked me, “What is with the bike lanes on Middlefield Road in Palo Alto?” I had no idea, so I had to go see for myself.

She was referring to the area near the intersection of North California Avenue and Middlefield Road, and the entrances to Greene Middle School, which my brother attended more than 50 years ago when it was Jordan Middle School.

Getting your 'Kicks' in new Nissan hatchback

Courtesy of Nissan
The new Nissan Kicks features a four-cylinder, 1.6-liter engine with 125 horsepower.

For the person who needs basic urban transportation to and from work or class on a daily basis, doesn’t have a lot of money to spend and wants something fun to look at and drive, the 2018 Nissan Kicks is the perfect choice.

RDX steals the show in the snow

Courtesy of Acura
The 2019 Acura RDX SH-AWD can handle all variations in road surface and traction.

It was approximately 4 p.m. when the snow began falling in earnest as we drove on Interstate 5 north of Redding, climbing toward Mount Shasta City (elevation 3,600 feet). Within 20 minutes, we were restricted to driving in the right lane, where the trucks kept the snow from sticking; there were 4 inches of snow in the left lane.

We rarely get a chance to test cars in the extreme conditions for which they were designed, but in this case we were happy to be driving the all-new for 2019 Acura RDX SH-AWD A-Spec. We were about to find out if the Super Handling All-Wheel Drive could do what the brochure touted: automatically handle all variations in road surface and traction. Fortunately, we had read about the new features before starting the trip from Los Altos to Oregon, so we knew to switch the selectable traction mode to Snow and switch off the active cruise control.

The good and bad aspects of special-purpose bikeways

Chris Hoeber/Special to the Town Crier
The protected bike lane on Castro Street in Mountain View has its positives and negatives.

Last November I reviewed the concept of protected bikeways that embody a different philosophy from the guiding principle that the best way to achieve cycling safety is for bicyclists to behave like motorists and share the road. I have traveled in Northern Europe and seen the extensive network of protected bikeways, and it is hard to argue with success.

But the European bikeways are the product of years of evolution, and not every local attempt meets the same high standards. Using the protected lane on Castro Street in Mountain View as an example, following are some of the factors that must be considered when designing a bikeway.

Today's cars have tuned out the tune-up

I frequently get asked, “When’s my next tune-up?” I then have to ask the customer what kind of car they have, what year it is and how many miles. I need to know this because most modern cars do not require tune-ups.

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