Monthly Archives: January 2008

Performance Programmers Increase Horsepower: Edge Evolution & SCT Livewire


California has a unique freeway system.  Drivers have to stop at a traffic light before entering the freeway.  I drive a Toyota Corolla, which means every trip is a near death experience as I merge into a line of speeding trucks.  I bought a performance chip and now I don’t need to bring a change of underwear on my morning commute.
I recently moved to California from the east coast.  Although I love the climate change and abundance of beautiful beach babes, I’m not too thrilled about California’s unique freeway system.  I can still remember my first experience like it was yesterday; actually it was last week.  I had just gotten to California and was headed to the beach to go surfing.  So I’m cruising on the 8, about to get onto the 15. I look down at my map to check what exit I want to get off at. I glance back up to see red; the brake lights of cars stopped in front of me.  Thank god for ABS.  I slammed my brakes and stopped just in time to avoid crashing into a Ford F150.  “Great, now I’m going to sit in traffic all day,” I thought.  As the line of cars slowly crept forward I could see a light in the distance.  Is that a police car? Maybe, it’s an ambulance? When I got closer I could see that the light was actually a traffic light.  This was the first time I have ever seen a traffic light on a freeway entrance.  I finally reached the light, which turned green for two seconds, and hit the gas.  I was giving my Corolla full throttle, but it wasn’t speeding up quick enough.  Looking in my rear view mirror, I could see the driver of the BMW behind me mouthing curses.  The lane started to approach the highway and I wasn’t going nearly as fast as the flow of traffic.  Apparently, California drivers have lead-foot syndrome.  My lane was merging and truck in the lane next to me that was going at least 30mphs faster than me had to slam on his brakes.  The driver thought it wouldn’t be enough to just curse, so I had a great view of his middle finger when he switched lanes and blew past me.  Now I’m not a slow driver, but let’s face it, a Corolla isn’t a race car.  I ended up making it to the beach in one piece, but I needed to find a solution if I was going to be taking the freeway to work everyday.

I talked to my brother-in-law, who is a mechanic, about my problem.  Basically, he gave me two options.  I could either buy a new car or make my car faster.  I definitely was not ready to buy a new car, especially with all my moving bills.  And the last thing I wanted was to be driving around a “rice rocket” or anything that looked like it came from the Fast and the Furious. He suggested adding a performance chip.  He had installed a few recently and said that they fine-tune your engine to increase performance.  The result is a boost in horsepower, which means some lickety-split acceleration for me.

My brother-in-law suggested getting an Edge Evolution or SCT livewire performance programmer.  I ending up going with the Edge Evolution and have seen a big improvement in my car’s pick up.  Phew!  Eat my dust trucks…Or at least don’t run me over.

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A Broken Headlight Will Be The Death Of Me…And Maybe You


One of my head lights went out the other day when I was driving home from work and with my luck, a cop pulled me over and now I need to go to inspection.  I think a trip to the DMV is considered torture in some cultures.

This past week I had to take my car in for inspection.  Not only did I get to take time out of my weekend, I sat in long lines and had to deal with the lovely people at the DMV.  Don’t worry, the fun keeps coming.  First, I should probably give you the setting.  It was a humid summer day.  The type of day when breathing is enough exercise to make you sweat bullets.  The only way to escape the heat would be to float in a pool and last time I checked the DMV was the farthest thing from Typhoon Lagoon.

Reluctantly, I got in my car, bit the bullet, and headed towards hell.  I cranked my air on full blast, put on some tunes, and actually started to think that it might not be so bad.  I spoke too soon.  I couldn’t even pull into the parking lot because the line was so long; cars protruding into the street.  I rolled down my window and peered down the seemingly endless line of vehicles.  I was looking at over an hour wait.  My only salvation was the big gulp sitting next to me in my cup holder.  I know I needed to stay hydrated, but in the midst of my anger I forgot about my lack of bathroom access.  It probably wasn’t a good idea to suck down 72 ounces of Blueberry Blast icy.  Then, as I’m waiting, I see some cars try and cut the line.  I thought I was going to lose it.  Did they think they could cruise right in and skip the wait?  Over my dead body.  As one car tried to merge in front of me, I stuck like glue to the bumper in front of me, glaring into the eyes of the driver.  He backed off.  No one was skipping this line.  So in addition to the scorching heat, blaring bass from nearby cars, and my pulsating bladder dancing with every bass line, I now needed to guard my spot in line.  Is this really my life?

After 1 hour, 23 minutes, and 17 seconds I made it to the front of the line.  I had finally made it, face to face with the devil himself, who happened to be a short, portly man donning a nametag that said Larry. “Listen Larry, you’re not fooling me.  I know Larry is short for Lucifer,” I thought to myself.  The combination of icy and pure rage filtered through my veins.  I watched him as he inspected my car.  Silently letting my mind wonder about how easily I could “off him,” toss him in the trunk, and never have to deal with the DMV ever again.  I could then begin the renegade life of an outlaw, doing as I pleased, not conforming to societal constraints… “Okay, your good to go,” Larry said. I shook my head as I snapped out of my homicidal hallucination.  I smiled, thanked him, and pulled out of the garage.  Well, that wasn’t so bad.

I had replaced my fog lights  and also bought some good PIAA lights before my inspection.  I wasn’t taking any chances because if my car didn’t pass inspection, I think I might have lost it.

Which Is A Better Buy, Roll Up Truck Bed Covers Or Folding Truck Bed Covers?


I am a guy who practically lives out of his truck, so for me a good truck bed cover is essential.  Recently, I purchased a new Dodge Ram hemi truck and needed to make a decision about a new tonneau cover.  Would I get the soft roll up tonneau or the folding truck bed cover?

Tonneau covers seem to be all the rage these days, especially out here in Southern California.  A lot of guys buy them because they make their trucks look better not because they really need them.  Of course, I like the way they make my truck look too but mainly I like tonneau covers because they keep people from stealing my stuff while protecting my possessions from the elements.

I like the lightweight roll-up tonneau covers.  They are simple to install and they open up the truck bed completely as opposed to the hard top covers which tend to offer more limited access. There are different types of roll up tonneau covers: there are the vinyl fabric types and the hinged, hard type that roll up on a spool.  On my last truck I had the Lund Genesis seal and peel tonneau.  It had velcro side and could roll up like a sheet of heavy-duty vinyl.

Lately, I have noticed some trucks that use the folding-type covers that seem more substantial then the roll up type.  So I thought I would do a little comparison shopping.  My main criteria was a lightweight but tough tonneau that gives easy and full access to my truck bed.  I did a search online for both types of truck bed covers and read the descriptions as well as the customer reviews.  One thing I noticed is that there seems to be a smaller selection of folding tonneau covers then roll up tonneaus.  The roll up covers were made by manufacturers like Extang, Truxedo, and Lund with price ranges from $200 – 400.

The folding type truck bed covers were more expensive with price ranges from $500 – 800.  One of the brands that caught my attention was BAK, they make the Bakflip folding tonneau cover and it was on the low-end of the price spectrum.  It comes in four foldable sections that can be locked in various positions including one that allows you to protect your rear window when you are hauling freight.  You can fold it up completely or in sections.

After some searching a reading product description, I narrowed it down to the Bakflip folding tonneau cover and the Truxedo Truxport roll up tonneau.  Both have cool, innovative features and can be locked for security.  In the end , I went with the Bakflip even though it was nearly twice the price.  I really wanted a tonneau that was strong enough to stand on and that locked securely.  And, I really like the fact that you can open it in sections and even lock it down in different configurations.  Very cool.

If you are in the market for folding truck bed covers or a roll up truck bed cover, I recommend doing your homework.  Pay special attention to customer reviews, they really helped me decide.

Surviving a Sales Trip with a Roof Top Cargo Carrier and a Cargo Liner


As a sales representative for a large medical supply company, it seems like my entire life is spent behind the wheel. I’ve crisscrossed the United States more times than Jack Kerouac. Every May, my boss sends me out on what he’s dubbed my “Summer Safari,” which basically means making the rounds between Baltimore and Milwaukee. This year, I’m arming my auto with a roof top cargo carrier and a cargo liner to keep my ride comfortable and protected.

If you asked me 10 years ago what I would be doing today, I would never have imagined saying that I rep compact kidney dialysis machines. I used to have dreams. When I started in college, I chose environmental studies as my major because I wanted to work for Greenpeace saving the planet from corporate and governmental pollution. Not to toot my own horn, but I was pretty brilliant. Then, I fell in love with one of my classmates: Gina. Her politics were similar to mine, but she had a more anarchistic sensibility. When she quoted McTaggart and Rousseau, I was putty in her hands. Unfortunately, she convinced me to take part in a midnight Lab Rat Liberation over at the Biology building. Someone must have tipped off campus security because they were waiting inside when we showed up. The whole crew was expelled, and Gina left me to go live in a redwood.

After the incident, my life spiraled into a tailspin. I went on a 2-month bender and woke up in Cincinnati with a gnarly gash on my forehead, a pocket full of beer caps, and $7 in my wallet. I had to donate plasma and sleep in the park for 3 weeks to save up enough cash for a bus ride home. I worked some odd jobs for a while—nothing I’m too proud of. And I kept drinking, heavily. There didn’t seem to be any reason not to be in an altered state. Sobriety just gave me an excuse to dwell on my failures, and that was the last thing I wanted running through my head. So I suppressed my reality with booze, and it was working well enough. However, I woke up one morning after a particularly hard night, and I spent 3 hours vomiting bile and blood. That’s when I knew I had to turn things around.

I checked myself into a local treatment center and started detoxing. I won’t lie; it was a rough couple of weeks working that poison out of my system, but I was determined and I persevered. Not only did I kick the sauce, I also made friends with a sales representative from a medical supply company. He said that he’d put in a good word for me once I got out, and I landed a junior sales position a week out of the center. Now, I’m a senior sales agent, which requires regular road trips to see clients.

Every May, my boss sends me on a 2-month whirlwind tour of the Eastern markets. He calls it my “Summer Safari,” but I hardly think that name is appropriate since I don’t really see any beaches. What I do see is a lot of fliers, samples and fast food in my car. Rather than let my Kia get wrecked, I’m making some upgrades. I added a roof top cargo carrier to hold my product brochures, and popped a cargo liner in the trunk to shield the carpet from all the samples. Now, I’m set.

Not all roof top cargo carriers are alike, the same is true about Cargo Liners.  I would avoid the corner auto parts stores that sell those cheap brands you’ve never heard of.  I found that Thule and Husky were the best, at least so far.

Decisions between Gaylord and Undercover Hard Bed Covers


When I wanted a new truck bed cover for my 99 Sierra, I ran across quite a dilemma. Do I save a few bucks and buy the Undercover Tonneau Cover my buddy has? Or, do I blow his truck away with a custom painted truck bed cover from Gaylord’s? The internal struggle was quite wrenching.

A guy at the local truck parts place once told me that I was wasting my cash and time by buying a tonneau cover. His theory was that nobody west of the Rockies needed to cover their bed, because snow was the only thing worth keeping out of the payload. He figured that water would get past a cover anyways, and probably dry out fast. Knowing he was a fool, I bought one anyways—a cheap, soft one. So, when I went through a round of having pieces of my vinyl tonneau stolen about a month later, I returned to grill the same idiot again. After all, if nobody needed one here, and nobody wanted one here, then why was my cover worth treating like a Sprint in the salvage yard? He had no reply, just a stupid grunt.

My next step had two parts: 1. find a new truck parts shop with fewer blowhards (after all, I could just go to Kragen for that kind of entertainment), and 2. Pick a cover without loose, accessible or soft parts that could be picked clean like strands of meat dangling from a hot wing. I arrived at a hard truck bed lid as my best option. They cost considerably more than the vinyl designs, but I discovered that you really get what you pay for. On the flipside of the price tag, they also look many times better and are infinitely more secure—which was now my de-facto area of greatest need.

The first one I looked at was getting a custom Gaylord truck bed cover. There are many brands out there making a truck bed cover in this style: fiberglass construction, gas strut lifts, keyed opening, and custom paint matching. There’s no question that a lid like Gaylord’s makes is quite impressive; the price is just a bit tough to tackle—roughly 6 times higher than the softy cover I was replacing. And, it’s heavy, which means a few drawbacks for hauling a large load. First, you have to lift off the truck after undoing the struts and hinges. It’s a two-man job for certain. Then, there’s finding a place to hang the lid where the paint won’t get jacked up. I had such a place to hang the cover, and a wife who loves to prove she can handle lifting from time to time. All I had to do was get comfortable with the price.

I decided to take a look at my friend’s bed cover. He found his receipt for it so that he could tell me the brand (it was a gift, so he didn’t really know it himself). It was called an Undercover tonneau cover, and it’s much different than the Gaylord’s, despite initial similarities. First, the Undercover wasn’t smoothly painted to match; it was actually kind of rough to the touch. No big deal, I thought, because the black surface would look fine with my dark blue GMC, and it has to cut several bills off the price tag. It’s also not fiberglass, but a lighter plastic material, making removal a one-man gig. That’s another bonus, but it also contributes to the cover looking a little flimsier, and a lot less like a custom, professionally crafted item. The price tag on the Undercover (about half of the Gaylord cover) started to look nicer and nicer.

I thought about how I used my truck, which didn’t provide many answers. While I don’t carry big stuff that often, and my bed isn’t usually full, I do like being able to use my truck like a real truck when I need to. That means not worrying about scratching my lid the way I worry about the rest of the paint. Speaking of paint, I wasn’t sure how I felt about looks. I like to keep my truck sharp, but it’s hardly one of those decked-out rigs with $20K in extra work done that makes you either whip your head around or just shake it. So, a custom painted cover isn’t a must, but it wouldn’t look that bad.

Ultimately, I picked the Gaylord truck bed cover, and I did it for two reasons. First, I couldn’t get the same thing as my buddy has. Second, I was due for a prostate exam later that week, and figured I’d treat myself to the nicer lid if I survived.
Picking between Gaylord truck bed covers and the Undercover tonneau cover was quite a dilemma, but ultimately I ended up happy (and still kind of sore).

Stay Cool with Cold Air Intakes


Wanna know the easy way to get to the top? You gotta stay cool. This goes for your demeanor, your attitude, your look and most importantly, your automobile’s engine. The best way to squeeze extra power from your engine and propel yourself to the head of the cool class is to install a performance cold air intake system.

It’s not as easy as it looks to stay as cool as I am. I mean, following the fashion trends alone is like running on a hamster’s wheel. You gotta know the right people, read the right magazines and have the right friends on your My Space account. Staying abreast of the coolest restaurants, nightspots and after-hours clubs can seem like full-time job. But, when staying cool is what you do, it’s worth the cost.

Luckily, I’ve found one way to stay cool that happens to be way off the hipster radar. I’m talking about a performance cold air intake kit for your vehicle. I mean these things make your engine cool, literally. Now, a cold air intake may not be a great fashion statement or get you across the velvet rope, but they are very cool.

By sucking in great gulps of cool, fresh air, a performance cold air intake system delivers a cool boost of power to your engine. The systems open up the passage to your throttle body which makes a cool sound when you romp on it. Plus, you’ll feel the extra power sucking you into your seat while burning rubber out of your night spot’s parking lot. The local movers and shakers will certainly take notice when you roll by, looking hip and sucking in all that cool air.

It may not be your scene, but gear heads and car guys love performance cold air intakes. In their world, popping your ride’s hood to reveal a polished or anodized intake tube is about as cool as it gets. You can roll down to your town’s Wal Mart parking lot, or wherever the local hot-rod haunt happens to be and get all kinds of accolades and thumbs up from these guys. Now, that’s not saying much as far as hipster clout goes, but motorheads are pretty cool, none the less.

The coolest thing about a performance cold air intake system is the fuel savings. Now, I know it may not be cool to talk about saving money, but it is cool, way cool—in a green sort of way—to save gas. You know, Al Gore and all those celebs yakking on and on about global warming. Since your engine will be running so much more efficiently with the cold air system, it uses less gas—simple. Now you can take that gas money you saved and drop it on some overpriced drinks for the Goth chick you’ve been eyeballing at the Danceteria.

There you are; a few cool tips from the coolest guy you know. The best way to keep your engine running top notch and looking cool is with a performance cold air intake system. As far as keeping yourself cool, log onto my My Space page and check out my entire list of “How to be Cool” tips. Stay cool, dudes.

Cool, cold air intake systems are made for most vehicles on the road, especially later model vehicles. The list of intake brands is a long one, but a good place to start is with K&N, Volant and the coolest brand of ‘em all, the Airaid intake system.

Laugh in the face of Nature with a car cover


It seems like no matter how much you pamper and coddle Mother Nature, it’s never enough to pacify her mood swings. That’s why you have to take the proper measures to protect your investment from her wrath. You’ve got to water-seal your deck, tie a hefty anchor to the bow of your double-wide, and sheath your auto in a car cover. Here’s why.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a petulant planet. It just seems like Mother Nature has been acting up lately, and I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve her fury. I recycle. I drive a low-emissions sedan. And I stopped burying my old motor oil in the backyard. In short, I’m doing my part. Why is it then that the Jolly Green Giant’s mom wants to dump all over me and mine with storms on a scale not seen since the Old Testament? Not but three weeks ago, a twister came whipping through our neck of the woods with more ferocity than a starved tiger in a nursery. By the time it blew away, fifteen of my neighbors were on their way to Oz. Of course, a lot of their foundations had been compromised by the flood that sloshed through town a month before that.

As I see things, Earth has a big bug up her keister. Some people think it’s due to all the pollutants we’re dumping into the atmosphere and ocean. But I have a feeling that it’s got to be something bigger than a couple cans of Aquanet and some Chaulpa wrappers bobbing around in the Pacific. In my heart of hearts, I believe that Mother Nature is annoyed that we’re pretending to be as powerful as she is. All that genetic engineering, scalping of mountain tops, and dam building is seriously cramping her style. The Greeks called it hubris, and the gods would exact harsh retribution in return. But in my mind, it’s not hubris at all—it’s progress. All we’re doing is outsourcing Nature so that it can work more efficiently for our ends. Besides, we can do it better, and it creates plenty of jobs for decent folk all over.

The only trouble with our development is that Nature is pushing back to try and recapture her old role as cock of the walk. But I refuse to be muscled around by some mythical, fig-leaf-wearing being. It’s just not in my red, white and blue blood to bow down to anything. I won’t back off, but I will take precautions to keep what’s mine safe from the backlash. For example, I picked up a couple of all-weather car covers for my Chevy and my wife’s Honda. Hers is a Covercraft, but I went with a Coverking because, well, I’m the king of my castle. Both of them are great for fending off anything that the heavens can throw my way.

You hear that, Demeter! You can’t push this man around with a little water, lightning and earthquakes. I’ve got my car covers, and I’m not afraid of you.

To protect your ride from rain, sun and the general riff-raff of ol’ Mother Nature try Covercraft or Coverking car covers. They won’t stop hail from denting your hood or the odd tree crashin’ down but they’ll help with just about all the rest.

The Easy-Bake Recipe for a Souped-up Diesel Rig


The following recipe for Triple-Baked Diesel Casserole is guaranteed to turn your diesel truck into a red-hot race rig. Careful baking lets the natural juices flow while a quick simmer extract the powerful flavors and tasty torque lurking deep inside your truck’s powerplant.

Ingredients:
1 Superchips Flashpaq Tuner
1 MBRP Turbo-Back Diesel Exhaust System
1 Quadzilla Monster Air Intake Kit
2 cups elbow grease
6-pack of sudsy brew
1 dash of tire smoke, according to taste

Directions:
Park your rig in a flat, shady spot and allow to cool. While your truck sits cooling, crack open a sudsy brew and open the other ingredients. Each component includes a complete instruction sheet—familiarize yourself with these while sipping the icy beverage.

The most labor intensive part of this recipe is the exhaust kit. Once your rig is cool, remove the factory exhaust and down pipe. Toss the remains aside. Carefully follow the included instructions and mount the MBRP exhaust kit and down pipe to your truck. This free-flowing system increases power and torque, decreases EGTs and lends a throaty rumble to your rig. Once bolted-up, let the truck sit while you prepare the cold-air intake kit. Crack another brew.

While the exhaust system steeps, open the Quadzilla Monster Air Intake Kit and prepare to blend with the exhaust. Skim the factory intake from the top of your powerplant, being careful not to damage the air sensor. This will prevent the dreaded check-engine light from turning on later. Install the intake kit according to Quadzilla’s directions—stirring occasionally. Once blended, the cold-air intake and the exhaust system rise together to form a free-breathing, power-producing machine. Relax for a spell with another brew, you’ve earned it.

The icing on this performance cake is the Superchips Flashpaq Tuner. Once the intake and exhaust has completely baked, it takes only a few minutes to install the tuner. Again, closely follow Superchips’ directions and plug the consol into your OBD-II port. Choose your tune and set the desired parameters. Now, pop open one final celebratory bottle of suds because your done!

Step into your well-done rig and fire it up. Depending on how closely the recipe was followed, your horsepower and torque numbers should look more like oven settings than factory specs. And, don’t worry—that billowing smoke is coming from the rubber burning beneath your triple-baked diesel rig.

A complete collection of hot-rod recipes can be found in “The Joy of Diesel Cooking” by Johnny Neptune. The required ingredients for the above Triple-Baked Diesel Casserole recipe are available from these fine manufacturers: Superchips, MBRP and Quadzilla Cold Air Intake.

My Mom Took Me Bra Shopping!


Ringing sleigh bells and fresh evergreen smells…and for most people, this means hell.  It’s that time of year again and you know what that means- spending time with loved ones, drinking eggnog, and most importantly—shopping!  I can’t wait!

My family’s schedule during Christmas usually consists of sitting in traffic on the way to the mall, standing in lines, and fighting with mobs of disgruntled shoppers in efforts to purchase that “perfect” present.  I know, I love it too!  Unfortunately, my generation has been cursed with the gift of the internet and we do our shopping from a computer at home.  We always get the shaft.

It’s hard to explain, but I have this extraordinary talent for finding that perfect gift.  I guess it all started when I was born.  I was too young to remember, but my parents love telling the story.  They were in college—studying, learning, probably protesting something—when my mom went to the doctor and found out she was pregnant.  You wouldn’t believe how surprised my dad was when she told him!  She gave him such a great gift—me!  He responded with something like, “Oh perfect!”  and “This is just what we need right now.”  Anyway, I guess my talent comes from the fact that I was the perfect gift.

But enough about me, let’s get back to Christmas.  A new baseball hat and jersey for my younger brother—Timmy really loves those Yankees.  A year’s subscription to National Geographic for my sister Suzy—maybe she would find a boyfriend if her nose wasn’t always buried in a book.  A gift certificate for a massage for Mom—I think her back’s been hurting her from carrying all that laundry. And for my dad (drum roll please)—a bra!  Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking – “He’s so crazy!” – But hear me out.

My dad likes cars. Actually, scratch that.  My dad LOVES cars.  My mom is always saying that his Corvette is his mistress and he would sleep with it too if the bed were big enough.  He takes it to car shows, rally meet-ups, and the track.  But last time I was driving with him, we turned onto a street that was under construction and he almost had a heart attack.  Now let me tell you, the second he started rolling down the street and those pebbles started splashing up onto his front end, he started letting out words that I hadn’t heard since that time I tried to see if his new laptop floated – it didn’t.

I shared the gift idea with my Mom and she thought it was swell.  And as much as I wanted to spend time in lines, traffic, and crowded stores, my mom thought we should check out car bras online first.  It turned out that we found an awesome automotive accessory site that had a huge selection of car bras, free shipping, and great customer service to answer all of our questions.  Man, this internet is taking all the fun out of holiday shopping.

In the end, bra shopping with my mom went pretty well.  We ended up going with the LeBra, which my dad loved, but we also found an excellent assortment of other Covercraft car bras. – Mike Rosania

Modern Tuning Makes Maximizing Performance Much Faster


Putting some extra ponies into your daily motoring used to take entire days, cost hundreds of dollars in parts, and usually cause the loss of three or four knuckles. Not so in today’s computer-controlled vehicles, where tuning is about as easy as playing Tetris on a Game Boy. Let’s take a look at performance chips and programmers and how they’ve changed vehicle tuning.

Chances are you’ve seen the Saturday afternoon show geared toward squeezing every droplet of power out of a 50s or 60s classic. You know—the one hosted by two middle-aged guys, one with a toupee that may as well have “this is a toupee” painted on it. They spend the entire half-hour show with a bunch of time-lapsed shots taken of them tearing the engine apart to put in highly-specialized, insanely expensive parts. Once the project’s done, they fire-up the dyno and laud the 3hp gain they received for about 4 hours of total work. If you’re like me, that’s not exactly how you want to spend a weekend, all for 3hp that you may not even notice with your rear-o-meter.

Fortunately, you’re probably also driving a computer-controlled vehicle, like most of the ones sold for the last 25 years or so. That makes tuning much easier, because a set of programming determines the way your engine performs. Replace the programming with a set geared toward performance, and you have near-instant power gains. Don’t get me wrong—there’s a lot to be said for the virtues of a computer-free classic that you have full control over. But, when it comes to getting more power in just a few minutes time without ripping your hands to shreds or spending thousands on obscure parts, a computer-controlled vehicle has a distinct advantage.

How can you make these changes in minutes? With a power programmer or performance chip, like the ones made by Hypertech or Diablosport. These programmers are built to hold performance settings tested by experienced pros for your specific engine. All you have to do is plug it into the OBD-II port beneath your steering column. With simple yes or no commands, you can adjust how you want your engine to perform, upload the new programming, and you’re ready to rock with 25hp or more extra. The maximum time this will take to complete: just 10 minutes.

More Products that could feast the need for speed and ones that I found most promising in power gains are:

catalytic converters
stainless steel brake lines
big brake Kits
afe air filters
dual exhaust
disc brakes
brake controllers
mass air flow sensor
injen

Many drivers who want the extra power are leery of this tuning method. “How can so much power be had so fast, when the TV pros spend hours to get few gains?” they ask. The answer is that automakers down-tune their cars for the masses. Engines are setup to work the same for you, the budding performance enthusiast, as they are for the elderly, who like to travel half the speed limit or through the occasional farmer’s market. You aren’t the average driver, and performance programmers aren’t average settings. It’s a perfect match for you; it’s not a perfect match for your mother.

Some drivers worry about warranty when they’re considering a performance programmer. Not only to the companies that make programmers take safety into account with their settings, they often give you ways to return to stock settings for service visits at the dealership. And, as with all performance mods, you’re protected by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a federal law that basically states that your vehicle’s warranty can’t be voided by mods unless the mods can be proven as the source of trouble. In other words, there’s no reason to wait—the true potential is waiting to be unlocked, and you can do it without breaking a sweat.

Maximize your ride with performance chips, available from time-tested brands like a Hypertech programmer and Diablosport.

Performance Chips Help Freeway Driving


California has a unique freeway system.  Drivers have to stop at a traffic light before entering the freeway.  I drive a Toyota Corolla, which means every trip is a near death experience as I merge into a line of speeding trucks.  I bought a performance chip and now I don’t need to bring a change of underwear on my morning commute.

I recently moved to California from the east coast.  Although I love the climate change and abundance of beautiful beach babes, I’m not too thrilled about California’s unique freeway system.  I can still remember my first experience like it was yesterday; actually it was last week.  I had just gotten to California and was headed to the beach to go surfing.  So I’m cruising on the 8, about to get onto the 15. I look down at my map to check what exit I want to get off at. I glance back up to see red; the brake lights of cars stopped in front of me.  Thank god for ABS.  I slammed my brakes and stopped just in time to avoid crashing into a Ford F150.  “Great, now I’m going to sit in traffic all day,” I thought.  As the line of cars slowly crept forward I could see a light in the distance.  Is that a police car? Maybe, it’s an ambulance? When I got closer I could see that the light was actually a traffic light.  This was the first time I have ever seen a traffic light on a freeway entrance.  I finally reached the light, which turned green for two seconds, and hit the gas.  I was giving my Corolla full throttle, but it wasn’t speeding up quick enough.  Looking in my rear view mirror, I could see the driver of the BMW behind me mouthing curses.  The lane started to approach the highway and I wasn’t going nearly as fast as the flow of traffic.  Apparently, California drivers have lead-foot syndrome.  My lane was merging and truck in the lane next to me that was going at least 30mphs faster than me had to slam on his brakes.  The driver thought it wouldn’t be enough to just curse, so I had a great view of his middle finger when he switched lanes and blew past me.  Now I’m not a slow driver, but let’s face it, a Corolla isn’t a race car.  I ended up making it to the beach in one piece, but I needed to find a solution if I was going to be taking the freeway to work everyday.

I talked to my brother-in-law, who is a mechanic, about my problem.  Basically, he gave me two options.  I could either buy a new car or make my car faster.  I definitely was not ready to buy a new car, especially with all my moving bills.  And the last thing I wanted was to be driving around a “rice rocket” or anything that looked like it came from the Fast and the Furious. He suggested adding a performance chip.  He had installed a few recently and said that they fine-tune your engine to increase performance.  The result is a boost in horsepower, which means some lickety-split acceleration for me.

My brother-in-law suggested Bully dog performance chips or Quadzilla performance chips.  I ending up going with the Quadzilla and have seen a big improvement in my car’s pick up.  Eat my dust trucks…Or at least don’t run me over.

4 Pieces of Flare No Truck Can Do Without


There exists a virtual cornucopia of accessories that one can add to their rig; but which ones are truly essential? The following article delves deep into the psyche of one truck nut who’s determined to show his flair every chance he gets.

More flair Jimmy, more flair. This exact phrase emanates from my stupid manager’s pie hole every morning. You see, he’s the manager of the restaurant where I wait tables. You may have heard of it; Jolly’s Cantina. Anyway, Jolly’s is one of those restaurants that they fill with kitsch in an attempt to manufacture some “atmosphere.” And, as a Jolly’s employee, it’s my job to fill my uniform with flair and act as jolly as possible.

The job wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for my boss, Miles. He’s one of those restaurant managers who take his role very seriously. You know; one of those super skinny guys with a tie and a zit-pocked face who runs around so fast you’d swear he eats jet fuel for breakfast. Well, Miles and I don’t quite see eye to eye on the Jolly’s uniform requirements. I don the bare minimum that the rules stipulate, but Miles sees my efforts as purely mediocre. That’s why every morning he bombards me with the flair.

When I’m not waiting tables, I out cruisin in my 2002 Dodge Ram with a Cummins diesel. This baby sits sky high on a 12” lift kit and 44” monster mudders. I’ve got an AEM intake, Edge injectors, a Superchips Flash Paq and an MBRP 5” exhaust. Needless to say, the old Dodge is one bad-ass beast of a rig.

The other night, driving home after a mind-numbing shift with Miles on my back, I got pulled over by the local cop. He’s a mean one, the kind of cop that’d give your grandma a ticket for being too old. I couldn’t believe it, but old Roscoe pulled me over for my tires. He said they were sticking out too far from under the wheel wells. When I asked Barney Miller what I was supposed to do about it, he said first pay the ticket, then get some fender flares. All I could hear was; more flair Jimmy, more flair.

When I calmed down, I realized I could use these fender flares to help solve my flair problem with Miles. If that creep wanted more flair, he was gonna get it—in a big way. My plan was to simply install the flares and then show Miles what I’d done. The next time he asks for more flair, I’ll just direct his attention to my truck. “There ya go Miles, all the flare/flair you can handle.

2 nights later I called in sick and had my shift covered by my buddy, Juan. During his break, Juan called to tell me that Miles was fuming mad and cursing my name to anyone who’d listen. He was calling me a goldbrick and a champion for mediocrity. This got me so mad that I hopped into my truck and sped down to Jolly’s to have it out with Miles.

When I spied Miles smoking a cigarette out behind Jolly’s my temper just flared. Without thinking, I mashed the throttle on that old Cummins and in a billow of black smoke I launched the Dodge right over Miles’ Merkur XR4Ti—monster truck style. Those big mudders were churning up glass and metal, throwing debris all over Jolly’s back lot. The best part wasn’t the stupid look on Miles’ face, but the way my new fender flares kept the flying debris from scratching my rig!

In the end, I lost my job, but I have a new one down at the quarry. The hours and pay are great, and I don’t have to deal with Miles anymore. And, the only flair I have to contend with is the cool set of fender flares that are still doing a great job of protecting my truck.

Whether you have to add flair to your uniform or add Fender Flares to your truck, the internet is a great resource for both. As far as the truck flares, I went with a set of EGR Fender Flares.

K & N: Knights and Nerds


I’m not that big of a geek, except when it comes to my car and the renaissance fair…

I’m not that big of a geek, but I hang out with a lot of them. For example, two of my good friends Tim and Mike are really into sci-fi and fantasy and they’re always trying to get me to go to comic conventions, midnight Dungeons & Dragons sessions and of course the renaissance fair.

I usually resist, but end up going along. When they asked me to go to the renaissance fair, I couldn’t think of a good excuse, and plus I’ve never seen such a fair before, so I thought, “What the heck…”

We all piled into the geekwagon— my cherry red Mustang—and headed down to the park. When we got there, I was amazed. The whole place had been transformed into a medieval wonderland, with tents and turrets and moats everywhere. We passed a blacksmith hammering a newly forged sword amidst bales of straw and an old lady selling roast beast.

Just for fun, I picked up a helmet with a full visor and placed it on my head. Inside it was dark and stifling and I flailed around while my Tim and Mike howled with laughter. I guess I flailed a little too hard because I lost my balance and fell right into someone who was standing nearby. I pulled off my helmet sheepishly and was confronted with the angry eyes of a knight with a thick black beard.

“You there, peasant,” he barked, “How dare thee accost a noble?”

“My bad,” I said blinking up at him, “I guess I’m just not used to wearing armor.”

The knight snarled.

“Methinks this varlet needs to be taught a lesson!” And he threw down his gauntlet and glowered at me.

Tim and Mike were no help. They quickly stepped into their roles.

“Sir, thou dost insult us mightily,” said Tim.

“Yea, good sir, thy challenge is accepted,” added Mike, “We shall vanquish thee at noon upon the jousting grounds.”

And that’s how I found myself on a horse in a full suit of armor with a jousting lance in my hand racing down a track at breakneck speed.

Before the impact, I there was only one thought in my mind, that I’d never see my beloved geekwagon again…

The knight’s lance crashed into my breastplate and I flew off my horse and smashed into the ground. The black bearded knight dismounted and strutted around as the crowd roared their approval and showered their victor with roses. My faithful squires Tim and Mike dragged my battered body off the field and helped me out of my armor.

After resting an hour we all went back to the geekwagon. In the parking lot, I saw my arch nemesis the knight putting his armor into the trunk of his Ford Escort. Out of costume he was almost unrecognizable.

“Hey Sir Knight!” I yelled. Then I gunned my engine so hard that the shockwave from the car’s exhaust hit the knight full on. He flew back and slammed into a castle wall and lay on the ground unconscious and possibly dead. Tim and Mike whooped with joy.

“The enemy has been vanquished!” they shouted. And we sallied forth out onto the open road…

I sure am glad my geekwagon was outfitted with a new K & N air intake system and a K and N filter!

My Boycott Against French Products Starts With Snails But Ends With Tonneau Covers


After the Parisians spit in the eye of Uncle Sam, I hopped right onto the O’Reily bandwagon and stopped spending my hard-earned, over-taxed dollars on French goods. Though most of my chums down at the Elk’s Lodge decided to extend the ban to everything that sounds remotely French, I had to draw the line at tonneau covers. I mean, just because I think Chirac is a grade-A weenie doesn’t mean that I want to put up with poorer gas mileage. So I took a stand and got a tonneau. Here’s my story.

In order for everyone to understand where I’m coming from on this issue, I’ll need to delve into the storied history between the US and France. Back in 1914, World War I landed smack dab in the center of Europe, and France bit off a little more than she could chew. Turns out, for all their gusto, those cheese-eating generals couldn’t tell the difference between an Ottoman and a couch. So guess what happened? In came the American cavalry and saved their derrieres. Fast forward to 1939, and another major conflict erupted in the heart of Europe. Basically, it was the same players, same terrain, and same outcome. France got booted out of their own country, and the US had to come over and clean up the mess, again. Why do I bring this up? Simple. We’ve saved that ungrateful country so many times that they have no right to question our international doings. Our Greatest Generation didn’t die face down on the beaches of Normandy 60 years ago for France’s freedom to ignore our every command, no matter how absurd or wimsical.

So me and the rest of the boys down at our local Elk’s Lodge decided to take action. We started listening to this political wonk out of Levittown by the name of O’Reilly. According to his logic, the best way to fight back would be with our pocketbooks. He told us to stop buying French imports, and that’s exactly what we did. Wine? Only from California. Cheese? Better be from Wisconsin. Heartburn medicine? No Nexium for me, thank you very much.

Now, to be perfectly honest, it’s been a struggle. I haven’t had a decent flute of Champaign in nearly 2 years. And don’t even get me started on foie gras. I’m about one lackluster round of hors d’oeuvres away from force-feeding my own goose for even a single cracker’s worth of that pate. But I think all our sacrifice is really paying off because old Jacques up in the Elysee Palace is running away from reelection with his tail between his legs. That one goes out to the Gipper.

Unfortunately, this major victory is really going to the heads of some of the more power hungry boys in our Lodge. They want to expand the boycott to anything that even sounds remotely French. I can understand nixing baguettes from the grocery list and steering clear of cherries jubilee at restaurants. But I need my hair palmade. And after doing some online research, I learned that I really need a tonneau cover.

You see, I have to drive my truck for work, and the cost of gas keeps skyrocketing. I was nosing around on Google to see if I could find something to improve my fuel economy, and that’s when I stumbled across some articles about tonneau covers. Basically, they cover up your pickup’s box, which stops wind turbulence and cuts your drag. Long story short, you can save some serious dough at the pump with one of these. And there are a ton of companies all competing with each other, so the quality is top notch. I was giving serious consideration to Truxedo and Extang, but I finally went with a Pace Edwards retractable tonneau. I still catch hell down at the Lodge, but I don’t care. The cover was made in the USA, and I’m not going to hold it against the company that these miracle truck accessories sound like they came from Nice. C’est la vie.

After researching, the Undercover Tonneau, Extang, and Pace Edwards tonneaus impressed me the most.

Hype vs. Production: is the Hypertech Max Energy Programmer worth it?


The TV commercials, radio ads, and even magazine pages about Hypertech’s new Max Energy programmer are coming at auto enthusiasts in waves. Among the claims of huge horsepower gains and other handy adjustments, there are also big promises of gas savings. Does the hype measure up to the real-world results? Read on to find out.

Programmers have become all the rage in automotive performance upgrades. Thanks to the nature of computer-controlled engines, a little box is the best and fastest way to tune. Naturally, when the latest and greatest is released by one of the major programming companies, the ad blitz begins.

This time, it’s Hypertech and the new Max Energy programmer. The expectations have been ratcheted up this time, with big and bold claims of huge gas mileage savings, 50+ horsepower for gas vehicles and 120+ for diesels, plus the alleged ability to get big gains on low-octane gas. Enthusiasts who know less about cars and performance have been sent off drooling; gearheads remain quite skeptical.

Let’s look at the horsepower gains first, starting with the claimed 50+ boost to gas vehicles. Of course, you can’t get this with every vehicle the Max Energy fits. This dyno-proven gain belongs to the Ford Shelby GT. Vehicles with less displacement and considerably less performance equipment can’t expect to get even half that much of a gain. Most of the gas trucks will be in the 20 range. Only the Hemi-powered DC cars can get up to that mid-20s range too; smaller V6s won’t even get close. Because of the massive compression, diesels can see some unruly gains from this type of programming. The Max Energy also claims to keep these diesels from suffering high EGT damage, thanks to tuning that keeps power high without over-fueling, even when towing. And, it claims to not de-fuel and kill your momentum.

The big problem with the big power gain claim is this: huge, noticeable HP boosts only happen at RPMs most drivers won’t reach—especially if they have an automatic. Peak horsepower usually happens around 4500-5500 RPM. That’s not to say the smaller gains at lower RPMs won’t be noticeable, but the impressive power only happens when you’re really gunning it.

On to the gas savings claims. This feature is one of the main reasons programmers have become so popular in the two years since $3/gallon became the societal norm. Programmers didn’t previously sell themselves on mileage, but began doing so once the big pinch at the pump began. Hypertech reports test vehicles gaining up to 6 MPG, with others settling in the 1-2 MPG gain range. In terms of real-world experience with programmers and mileage, the gains are almost always more modest than the ad claims. A boost of 1-2 MPGs—if any gain is achieved—is the most common scenario. Many drivers see no mileage gains because they simply can’t keep their foot far enough out of the gas pedal.

Some features of the Max Energy are undisputable. The ability on most vehicles to change tire size for odometer and speedometer corrections is great. Reading engine trouble codes is a mainstay of programmers; it’s present here too. Fuel octane settings are also available for some models to help save some coin at the pump. But, it’s not available for performance cars, and as you adjust the octane down, the power also goes down.

The bottom line on the Max Energy: set realistic expectations before you buy. The massive horsepower gains in the ads are probably far from what you’ll actually get, but you will get enough of a gain in power to notice it everywhere you drive. For gas mileage, don’t expect this programmer to save you from all of your petrol peril. Gaining 1-2 MPG is realistic if you’re not racing; anything more is gravy. If you can also make use of the other cool features, this new programmer is a solid buy. If you were hoping to get 50 hp more, save 6 MPG and run all on ethanol, you may want to pass until a programmer that can do all of those things exists.

Performance chips like the Hypertech Max Energy Programmer, the latest Hypertech programmer, comes with much hype. Do your homework first.

hypertech
max energy
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Headlights, Camera, Action!


Recently, I was directing my latest horror flick in the back woods of West Virginia when an assistant tripped over a cable and broke our main light.  Any film buff will tell you that horror films hinge on lighting- the mood, the suspense, the mystery.  One of the assistant’s flipped on his headlights, which provided us with an adequate amount of light and realistically creepy effect.

I’m currently on a plane that is bringing me home to my luxurious mansion nestled in the Hollywood Hills.  Well, actually my studio in the valley is “cozy” and I’m pretty sure my neighbors aren’t celebrities; unless you take into consideration appearances on Cops or America’s Most Wanted.  I haven’t made it yet, but my day will come soon enough.  I’m just glad this plane is distancing me from West Virginia as much as possible; 3,000 miles of pure Middle America should suffice.

Why West Virginia you might ask?  I just got done asking myself the same question. Let me preface the story with a brief background.  During my childhood I developed a love for movies.  I would go to the theater every weekend with my dad and we’d watch everything from cartoons to comedies to Chuck Norris.  The movies were an escape; a time where we could relax for two hours and immerse ourselves in something besides our normal lives.  Fast forward.  I went to film school, interned in Hollywood, worked my way up (through years of degrading tasks and coffee runs) and finally got to direct my own movie.  It’s not going to be a summer blockbuster, but hey, at least I’m not counting pages at the copy machine.  I didn’t have the budget that most big production companies throw around, so we needed to cut corners where we could.  Every state offers different incentives to filmmakers—whether it is tax breaks, cheap labor, or cash grants—and it came down to the fact that West Virginia gave us the best deal; and now I know why.

I can’t tell you about the film because I’m under contract, but it is a horror film based on a certain killer and a certain holiday.  We can shoot most scenes in our studio, but we needed a good night scene in the woods.  Los Angeles offers beautiful landscapes, but lacks the dense, green forests of the east coast—West Virgina enter stage left.  After traveling for hours, making layovers, and dealing with getting our gear through airport security we finally made it to the quaint town of Eleanor, WV.  There was nothing there.  There couldn’t be more than 1,000 people in the whole town, which is weird for me because more people than that attend premier events.  I told myself we were only going to be there for a four days.  I grew up in Massachusetts so I thought I could take four days roughing it.  The first two days of the shoot went a lot slower than I thought.  We had a few locals helping us out—showing us the area, moving our gear, operating some equipment.  At the risk of sounding like a pompous jerk, I must say that they were complete amateurs.  Scenes that normally would have taken an hour, took three hours.  So we were already pressed for time when on the third night, one guy trips over a light cable, sending it crashing to the ground. I was seeing red.  This was my first big film and it was going to fail because some inbreed local couldn’t pick up his feet.  I let my anger get the best of me and I let him have it, which I felt bad about after.  I could tell he felt horrible.  He offered to drive his truck into the woods so we could use his headlights.  If you have ever tried making a film, you know the importance of improvisation.  So he ran to his truck, drove into the woods, and blasted us with his headlights.  Wow.  Angels are singing.  His headlights created an amazing effect that our lights didn’t even come close to imitating.  The guy made up for his mistake, which turned out to be better than the original, so I offered him a permanent position as my assistant.  Hopefully the movie looks good after post production.

It just goes to show you how important it is to be creative.  Who would have thought some assistant’s Headlights would save the day?  Hopefully this tip can help some of you independent filmmakers out there.  I think the guy said his truck had KC Lights if you’re ever looking to get a cool lighting effect.

Exhaust Headers: A Crash Course On Automotive Performance


So you want added performance from your vehicle, but don’t know where to start.  If done properly, you modifications can improve your car’s gas mileage, appearance, and handling.

The problem is that most people have no clue where to start.  Rather than getting on some forums and researching their options, most 17 year olds throw a tin can muffler on their 92 Civic and give performance parts a bad name.
You’ve probably seen the Fast and Furious and thought, “Dang, those cars are sweet!”  But not all parts are created equal.  Start by identifying your goals and expectations.  Also, think about the long run. You might save a few bucks now by going with a new muffler, but if you pay a little more you can add a full exhaust and really see results.

I suggest you start by making a list of a few parts you are considering.  Then research which ones work best for your vehicle and which order you would like to add them.  Lastly, it is worth it to shop around online.  Spending half an hour online comparing a few shops can save you a few hundred bucks.
This article will bring you up to speed on exhaust headers.

1. How much power can you get from exhaust headers?
No two vehicles are exactly alike, so it is impossible to assign specific numbers of horsepower or torque. In general, a set of performance exhaust headers will unlock around an extra 5-25 horsepower along with a noticeable boost in rear-wheel torque.

2. Will performance exhaust headers discolor?
Performance exhaust headers absorb some of the most punishing abuse of any part on your vehicle. They are constantly being cooked at temperatures of around 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and time will eventually take its toll on any finish. Performance exhaust headers with ceramic coating are the most resilient and will retain their finish the longest. Stainless steel is also incredibly durable, but it will start to tinge slightly after a while. Nickel-chrome will also change color, especially if used for racing or towing. High-temperature paint usually stays the same, but it can be chipped.

However, discoloration does not affect the performance of your exhaust headers. They still work just the same on the inside no matter how they look on the outside.   It just depends on your level of OCD.

3. Are performance exhaust headers street legal?
It depends on which performance exhaust headers you get and which state you live in. Most of the headers are 50-state street legal, which means that they don’t interfere with pollution-controls on your vehicle. Some headers are designed for off-road or racing vehicles that are exempt from smog certification, so they are not street-legal. Then again, some states have more relaxed pollution controls than others, so a set of off-road headers in California might be street-legal in Montana. If your state requires that you pass a smog test, get a set of headers that are 50-state street legal. If not, then they sky’s the limit. Either way, check with your local DMV.

4. Will performance exhaust headers void my vehicle’s warranty?
It depends. Vehicle manufacturers cannot refuse to perform repairs just because you have installed performance parts. However, if they can prove that the part itself contributed to the problem, or if your warranty expressly prohibits performance upgrades, then they can refuse to honor the warranty. Always take the time to read your warranty before installing any aftermarket parts.

5. Which performance exhaust headers have the most thermal protection?
Hands down, ceramic coatings have the greatest resistance to heat damage. Besides protecting the headers from burning out and discoloring, the ceramic coating insulates the header’s piping. This keeps the temperatures in your engine compartment down, which improves your overall efficiency.

6. Are performance exhaust headers difficult to install?
Bolting on a set of performance exhaust headers may seem like a daunting task, but it is a fairly straightforward installation. As long as you have the right tools, a sturdy floor jack, and some experience under the hood, you should have no problems. Of course, having a buddy around to lend a hand always helps. If you are concerned about installing your performance exhaust headers on your own, most garages and muffler shops can do the work for you.

7. Which performance exhaust headers are right for my vehicle?
Most online automotive stores have a vehicle selector, where they will display parts that specifically fit your vehicle.  All you have to do is enter your vehicle information.  Still have questions? Don’t be lazy!  Pick up the phone and ask a professional about performance exhaust headers, cat back exhaust systems or any other parts for your vehicle.

Start looking for exhaust headers as well as many other performance parts online.  I recently ordered a pair of Gibson headers and have seen a nice increase in power.

AFE Air Filters – An Attribute To Save The World?


For a few months I have been thinking about ways to change something in order to have a hand in improving the situation of our environment. I ended up buying AFE filters. Why? Just read it.

What is happening with our air? Is there anything people can do for our environment? And if so, are there any activities that a single man can do? Does he really impact the whole environment, where billions of other influences factor in as well? For the last two months I have been dealing with these kinds of questions. I thought, if a man who was not able to beat George W. Bush in an election (faked or not), wins a Nobel price due to his huge attainments for the safety of the world, I should at least rescue the clean air in my hometown, where cows and birds are playing golf together and the fox beats the rabbit at playing chess. As you can see, first of all I wanted to consider one element and “air” was the only one that came into question. Why?

Fire: There is no reason to save fire. Just think back to California, where it has destroyed thousands of houses and injured hundreds of people.

Earth: Remember your childhood and how often you got dirty because of all the mud at the playground. And now that I am a father, do I really want to save all the mud on the clothes of my two sons? Of course not!

Water: My sister already wants to save this element, so I can’t copy her – unfortunately. I like the idea of saving a small Flipper in our big ocean.

So there was just one element left, called air. In the beginning it sounds a bit boring in comparison to the other ones, but you have to remember, this is not a selfish competition. The one who has saved the most interesting element will not rule the world. And honestly, who wants to steal Stewie’s dream of conquering the world?

This article is about doing something to avoid an environmental disaster like the ones we have seen in tons of Hollywood movies. And even if I think that they are a bit extreme in order to win the attention and afterwards the money of the spectators (But I am not really sure – this is just an assumption!), I think we have to start changing something concerning our habits as soon as possible.

So last month I began to search on the internet for what I have to do first in order to be the next Al Gore. So I typed in Google: “What do I have to do first, when I want to save the air?” This is pretty logical, isn’t it? I came across a site called “Save the planet”. But as I already mentioned, the whole planet is a bit too much for me because I am a guy from a town that has maybe 2.000 citizens and 20.000 cows. So I kept looking, but I changed the keyword a bit. This time I just typed in: “How can I filter the dirty air from our globe?” By doing this I came across a few sites that were about air filters. I thought that filtering the air with good air filters is probably a good way to start rescuing one of our four elements. So I bought twenty Air filters from a company called AFE. Just two days later I got my new air filters, but I was a bit surprised that something so small could filter air. But I tried it. Unfortunately, it did not work. When I was standing on the top of the highest house in my hometown (18 feet), a guy who was walking by told me why. He said “Hey dude, these filters only improve the engine performance of your vehicle; they don’t filter the earth’s air”. As you can imagine, it was pretty embarrassing.

Afterwards I decided to quit my new career as the savior of the world. But now that I have 20 great air filters for my car, I am the king of the road. And if anyone will blame me for neglecting my dream to save the air that fast, I will answer: “At least I was thinking about finding a way to improve our threatened environment.” Maybe I will also add “And dude, you have to remember, I have air filters!!”

If you are thinking that new AFE Air Filters are a good purchase, even if they won’t save the world (but maybe a bit), then search on internet. There you will come across all kinds of car performance accessories like Throttle Body Spacers. But afterwards, try to do at least a bit to improve the situation of our environment. You will benefit from it. Everyone does!

Tonneau Tragedy; To Fold or Roll, That is the Question


To fold or to roll, that is the question Whether/’tis nobler in the mind to suffer/The slings and arrows of a shoddy tonneau cover/Or to take arms against a sea of tonneau troubles/And by opposing, end them. To snap, to tear/No more.

These days, finding a quality tonneau cover for your rig can be a down-right tragedy. One search on the internet delivers a venerable cornucopia of choices. Hard, soft, roll, fold, snap, tri, bi, retract and hinged. There are enough choices to scare off the ghost of King Hamlet himself. The amount of styles one is presented is, of course, only overshadowed by the number of tonneau manufacturers that exist. There has got to be a ton of money to be made by producing tonneau covers because there is no shortage of companies.

In the old days, my uncle Claude would take me on a day trip to Tijuana, Mexico to get a tonneau made for his El Camino. We would navigate our way deep into the sticky streets of industrial TJ, looking for the little upholstery shop that my uncle did business with. I don’t know how he knew them or how he found them but he did. The place, Jaliscos, was always abuzz with craftsmen making seat covers and tonneaus while drinking from an endless supply of Tecate beer. After a beer and some broken English bartering, my uncle would take me to lunch in downtown TJ. After we ate, he always bought me cinnamon soaked churro, then he would wink and warn me not to tell my aunt Gertrude. When we got back to Jaliscos, my uncle’s El Camino would be sporting a brand new tonneau cover.

Those simple days of Tecate beer, border crossings and chorizo burritos are gone now. Mass production, maquiladoras and homeland security have poured hemlock into the ear of handmade tonneaus from Mexico and left us with a hodge podge of what are now called truck bed covers. On some level it brings a tear to my nostalgic eye on the other hand, I realize that my uncle’s tonneau was really a clunky tarp that actually snapped to his vehicle. And, the snaps were drilled right into the side of his car, permanently!

Today, tonneau covers are simply amazing. The higher end gear can be installed in minutes with no drilling or cutting. They come off just as fast and leave no trace of their existence on your rig. Instead of snaps and straps, modern tarps use quality Velcro or roller tracks to stay on. This also means accessing all the stuff in your bed is easier than ever. Some covers fold open, some even have spring loaded latches and gas struts that lift them up for you. And, with the popularity of ecommerce sites, you can have one of these cool tonneau covers delivered right to your front door.

To narrow it down a bit and keep the costs within this stratosphere, it’s a good idea to opt for a roll up or folding tonneau. The roll up tarps are usually held fast with Velcro and have spring activated tension adjusters to keep your tarp taught. When you need access, you simply roll the cover like a blanket. It rolls up to your cab where you can strap it open or roll it shut again.

The folding covers are usually comprised of a tarp that is stretched over a lightweight frame. The frame is hinged in sections that allow you to lift it like a hard cover. You can lift sections separately on the nicer covers, giving you access to the different parts of your bed. This is a great choice for those who work in the field and need to access their bed frequently.

The end of this debate is no tragedy though. Even though spending a drunken day in Mexico with your uncle is a thing of the past, getting a high quality folding or roll up tonneau cover is something we can all do today.

To help wade through the plethora of choices, take a look at Access tonneau covers. Or, my all time favorite, the Extang trifecta tonneau cover is sure to prove most royal. Basically, you can not go wrong with either.

Flying High With Performance Air Intake Systems


Sometimes ingenuity comes from the most unlikely of sources. What was designed for the soul purpose of this could greatly alter the performance of that. In the experience below, our resident daredevil Johnny Neptune straps an AEM Brute Force Intake to his jet pack.

Like my old man before me—and his before him—I’m a daredevil. I can’t explain it exactly, but it’s in my blood, something I can’t control. Even after sustaining serious injury and dealing with all the pain and suffering that go along with that, I always find myself heading back to the stunt life—it’s all I know.

As a kid I traveled the southwest visiting mostly blue-collar, high-desert towns, putting on daredevil stunt shows with my dad and pappy. They were known as the Notorious Jumping Neptunes of Catron County. Our show boasted a rabid fan base throughout the New Mexico area, where we’d never fail to dazzle ‘em with our aerial antics.

My dad did most of the actual stunt work; my pappy built the bikes, props and ramps and I became the de facto mechanic of the crew. I’d spend my afternoons in the back-lot of a hot, dusty state fairground, wrenching on our equipment. I learned fast, and it was imperative to my dad’s safety that the work I did was high-quality.

Our shtick was the flying motorcycle. We’d strap hang gliders, rockets, wings, parachutes—anything that flew—to the back of my dad’s motorbike. He speed off toward a big wooden ramp and just launch himself into the stratosphere. At that point he’d be air born and whatever winged contraption we strapped to the bike would take over from there.

A few years ago I lost the old man. It was a basic stunt, one we’d done a hundred times. Dad launched from the ramp a little cock-eyed and came crashing down to the horror of the crowd. Something went wrong with the ramp, I’m sure it was because we hadn’t kept up on ramp maintenance since losing Pappy.

We lost Pappy 2 years prior when he got pinned under a ramp we were taking down after a show. The old coot was 78, smoked 47 cigarettes—no more, no less—everyday, drank scotch like a fish and ate bacon and potatoes exclusively. We were sad to lose him, but the old man led a damn productive life.

The first and second generations have now passed the torch to me—it’s my turn. I plan to reclaim the soaring glory that was the Notorious Jumping Neptunes of Catron County. I acquired a jet pack and a parachute from my friend at the army surplus who saves such items exclusively for me. For the stunt, I plan to don both pack and chute, hurtle myself straight up, ditch the pack and parachute safely to the ground.

The jet pack needed some work though. I was surely happy for all those years I spent wrenching on my dad’s contraptions, because the jet pack was tricky. You see, the pack was missing an irreplaceable air intake system. In a moment of clarity, I pulled the AEM Brute Force Intake from the guts of my ’05 Silverado. With a bit of creative fabrication I was able to install the intake on the jet pack.

Wouldn’t you know it; the darn thing runs better’n ever. I guess by letting all that fresh air into the jets, just like the engine on my truck, the thing screams. And, just like on my truck, the AEM Brute Force Intake improved fuel mileage. Now, I’ll be able to get 3 or 400 extra vertical feet before I deploy my chute.

I’ve tested and retested and I’m ready for the stunt to go off. I have some air time reserved at Brown’s Field near the Mexico/USA border south of San Diego. If you’re out in those parts sometime in mid-August, keep your eyes peeled for the last breed of the Notorious Jumping Neptunes of Catron County!

Of course, the AEM Brute force intake, and other performance air intake systems for that matter are designed to optimize the performance of your vehicle, not a surplus jet pack. Expect the same power and fuel gains that I got for the pack though, only a slightly less thrilling driving experience. – Steven Duvall