Cops Know Street Racers Like the West Side

Categories: Cars and Trucks

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Doing it on the west side.
Boys and their cars. The display of testosterone and souped-up engines has been a yearly thing for over a decade here in Houston. It's all thanks to the TX2K auto racing event at the Lone Star Motorsports Park in Sealy.

The event draws racing nerds with fast and furious ambitions who talk smack to each other in online forums dedicated to modified engines and most of them look nothing like Vin Diesel.

How do we know? Because Harris County Sheriff's Deputies this weekend were looking for the TX2K spill over, as they do every year and caught nine speed racers.


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This Might Be the Greatest Craigslist Ad Ever Written

Categories: Cars and Trucks

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Craigslist
This Jeep Laredo features "fire breathing devil ass stank power," among other features.
You ever read a Craigslist ad that was too good to be true? Then you saw the product being hawked, right there in your face, and come to find out the real thing was less than advertised. Doesn't that just piss you off?

Well, we were hipped to one Craigslist poster who's selling a nifty, silver SUV. What grabbed us about the post was that it read like part stand-up routine, part Pimp C rap lyric. In fact, the best thing about it was that besides being funny, the ad didn't hide the vehicle's faults.

"I'm just naturally hilarious," said Lara Wright who wrote the post. She's sold plenty of items on Craigslist (even gave away some kittens), but never went with the tongue-in-cheek approach. "It's not a BMW or anything," she said. She was upfront about her SUV's 210,000 miles and faulty transmission.

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Race Day to Honor Firefighter who Survived Hotel Blaze

Categories: Cars and Trucks

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A screenshot from DowlingRide.com, a tribute to a firefighter.

Even after he battled the deadly five-alarm blaze that killed four of his fellow Houston firefighters and took his legs after a roof collapsed, Capt. Bill Dowling is still fighting.

One of the lucky ones that fateful afternoon in May, Dowling is the focus of a fundraiser this weekend organized by the Central Motorcycle Roadracing Association.


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Electric Car Chargers Becoming More Common at Retail Outlets

Categories: Cars and Trucks

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This Tesla is not your hippie uncle's egg-shaped electric car.
Five years ago, walking up to the door of a grocery store and seeing spots for charging an electric car was odd and the parking spaces were virtually always empty. Today, more and more retail outlets are putting in charging stations to accommodate the growing number of electric and hybrid automobiles flooding the market. According to the Electric Drive Transportation Association, hybrid and fully electric vehicle sales have soared since 2009 and now represent nearly 4 percent of all car sales in the U.S.

In big cities like Houston, where trucks and SUVs still reign supreme, the roads are full of hybrid vehicles in particular. Longer commutes mean higher gas costs, and anything that can increase the time you spend on the road before filling up, all the better.

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Want Cheap Gas? Study Says Fill Up on the Weekends

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Trending downward.
In what might be the most counterintuitive finding you'll hear this week, GasBuddy, a tech company that tracks gas prices across the U.S. for inclusion in its app, found that 65 percent of states saw lower average fuel prices on Friday, Saturday and Sunday than Monday through Thursday. Additionally, prices were found to be highest Tuesday and Wednesday.

Texas is among those states with lower prices on the weekend, according to GasBuddy. Since 2010 when they began doing this analysis, gas prices in Texas have been lower on Saturday or Sunday. This year is no different.

The question then becomes just how much difference there is between weekday prices and weekend prices? The answer: not all that much, at least in Houston.

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How to De-Ice Your Car: Bet You Thought You'd Never Need That Skill in Houston

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You're probably going to need this skill today and tomorrow.
As Snowpocalypse Part Two settles in, you might need to drive your car, particularly Wednesday morning as things begin to clear. But, it should be freezing throughout the day and may even snow, so you might have buildup of ice on your windshield to greet you when you this morning or even into tomorrow morning. There are a handful of ways to get ice off your car easily and even ways to prevent it from getting on there in the first place.

Granted, you probably won't ever use this again -- at least until Snowpocalypse Part Three -- but it might be handy if you ever go skiing or move to Alaska.

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6 Websites to Use for Researching a New Vehicle Purchase

Categories: Cars and Trucks

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Photo by Derrek Barlow
Say you've decided to buy a new car. Say you haven't done this in a REALLY long time. Say you have NO idea what you are going to buy or even what to look for. Welcome to my world about a month ago. My truck was totaled by a driver who ran a red light. I had been driving that Toyota truck for 14 years. We had bonded. Given its mileage, I intended to drive it another four to five years. Why should I spend money on a new car when I had a perfectly good car already? And then, boom.

Now, 14 years is a long time. Think of all the technology that has changed since then. Things like bluetooth, the iPhone, YouTube and Facebook...all invented since then. And, for cars, there wasn't widespread use of hands-free calling or steering wheel controls of the stereo. There weren't even USB ports. It was the DARK AGES, and yet I managed to survive.

But, with the prospects looming of a new car purchase, I had to first decide what I wanted and then figure out how to get it. Like all things, I went to the web for help. I could have queried friends, but I knew the hodge podge of responses I would get wouldn't do me much good. So, I began looking for websites to aid in my research. I was surprised to find so many good online resources for buying new cars that didn't involve trying to sell me something.

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How to Buy a New Car in 45 Minutes or Less

Categories: Cars and Trucks

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Photo by Jeff Balke
Out with the old...my totaled Toyota and my new Subaru.
For nearly 15 years, I drove the same vehicle, a Toyota pickup truck. I purchased it new in 2000 and it was still going strong thanks to a very sturdy make and the fact that I drove it less than 10,000 miles per year. With only just over 170,000 miles on it, I assumed I'd drive it at least another five or six years. Then, it happened. On a rainy Monday morning, an inattentive young woman ran a red light causing me to smash into her car just behind the driver's side door. Both her car and my truck were totaled. The frame of my beloved Toyota was bent at a 90-degree angle.

The driver also did not have insurance and, given the age of my car, I didn't have collision. Fortunately, I did have uninsured motorist coverage, which helped cover the cost of a down payment for a new vehicle. The problem is that I hadn't even considered buying a new car in a decade-and-a-half. Since my 16th birthday when my parents, as strapped for cash as they were, bought me my first ride, I drove trucks. It was a no brainer when I needed a new one.

But now, significantly older and facing the needs of a new family, I realized a truck wasn't going to cut it and not being much of a car guy, I had no idea what to get or how. I had helped my wife buy a new car just under two years ago, however. The process was relatively easy, but it still took time, even if you didn't count the test drive. How could I possibly cut down on all that nonsense, I wondered.

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We Need To Talk About Driver Privilege

Categories: Cars and Trucks

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Photo by Flickr user Rory Finneren
Houston has seen at least three vehicle-bicycle accidents in the past few months, including two fatalities. The city is making small strides towards improving cycling infrastructure, but driver awareness of bike-related traffic laws remains low compared to other cities. And driver aggression remains high.

This is nothing new. In a 2009 cover story called Ghost Riders, the Press wrote about Houston's plague of cyclist deaths, and the lack of accountability faced by drivers who kill them.

While in Austin for Fun Fun Fun Fest last month, I watched a driver try to turn right at an intersection where pedestrians had a right-of-way crosswalk signal. The driver, annoyed that the pedestrians were taking too long, lurched forward aggressively and honked at the walkers. The incident highlighted for me the problem of Driver Ego, where even seemingly nice, normal people turn into complete assholes in the comfort of their two-ton steel cages.

"Privilege" is a word used frequently in sociopolitical circles to discuss disparities in certain groups of people. In a nutshell,

Privilege is about how society accommodates you. It's about advantages you have that you think are normal. It's about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal.

Roughly 50 cyclists, 400 pedestrians and 500 motorcyclists are killed every year on Texas roads. Friends... I think it's time we had a talk about driver privilege.

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Don't Sweat Your Commute: H-GAC Asks Houstonians To Consider Alternatives

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Flickr user MichaelB
Consider the light rail.
You might think you spend a lot of time sitting in traffic, but did you know that the average Houstonian also spends $6,000 a year on commuting? That's not just gas. That includes everything from new tires, wear and tear on your car, and wasted productivity.

That's why this month the Houston-Galveston Area Council is trying to encourage Houstonians to consider alternative means of transport as part of something they're calling "Commute Solution Months."

Yes, months, plural. Commute Solution Month (singular) is a nation-wide effort in August to get people to drive less. But due to Houston's heat, H-GAC extends the program into fall to make it a little more effective. After all, no one wants to bike to work in the dead of summer.

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