AJD has a domain now

Yeah it may only be a godaddy registration with forwarding to my WordPress blog AverageJoeDriver. Yet, its still staking a claim on the domain name www.averagejoedriver.com, and that’s the important part. Now all I need is some people to follow the blog and comment and even email some of THEIR own crazy or informative driving stories and may post them on my blog with credit to the submitter (Is that even a real word?)

A handy must-have gadget

I bought this device back when I owned my 1998 Dodge Dakota….just so I could have a little insight as to why I would get check engine lights. I also didn’t want some shop or mechanic feeding me a line of bull because its hard finding a mechanic you can trust. If you have one out there, dont lose them.
I also got to use it ONCE in the 2 years I owned the 2008 Mustang. I got a check engine light and thought “oh great, take the car in for servicing and lets see, my luck it’ll be a non-warranty repair that will cost 100s of dollars. I ran the diagnostic device and got a P0455. I looked that up in the book and it said “P0455 – EVAP Emission Control System Leak (Large)”. Ok. WHAT THE HECK does that mean?!? I have a huge leak in my fuel system? I asked a cousin of mine, whom I dont normally speak much to, so I can imagine his surprise to hear from me only when I have a FORD question. You see, he works as a technician at a Ford dealer and I figured he would have some insight. Sure enough he said that code is the gas cap leak code. I thought “what does he mean my gas cap has a leak?!” Well apparently if you dont tighten your gas cap enough, some vacuum or seal is not correct and an error is returned. Sure enough I opened and reclosed the gas cap and after a while of driving it went away. The days of just gas up and go are over. There are more sensors on our vehicles than we will ever know. Figuring out what triggers what errors or how things are connected is why we need technicians instead of mechanics to work on our vehicles.
I at least find that having this kind of gadget can come in handy in having any idea of whats going on. You can find the Actron CP9125 PocketScan Code Reader on Amazon.com but I didnt pay that much for it. Sometimes they go on sale as seen on dealspl.us website

Actron CP9125 PocketScan Code Reader

You can’t be Serious Sirius!

You can’t be Serious Sirius!

The 2008 Mustang I bought was my first exposure to the notion of Satellite radio. Back then XM radio and Sirius Radio were 2 different entities. I believe it was a FREE 3 or 6 Month trial period as part of the package of buying my Ford. I loved the music selection, the fact that it was commercial free (even though the DJs on Shade45 talk too damn much…I’d almost rather listen to commercials), and for the most part it was uncensored. I feel if you are going to pay for it, why cut out little chunks for me at your discretion? At the time I was traveling a little more while I was working with, or should I say FOR a carshow promoter. Having the Sirius radio was a benefit and I enjoyed it, except for when going under an underpass at which it cuts out. Apparently the satellite can’t shoot its music beams at your car through the concrete road over your head. I believe there’s a buffer because you have to be out of “line of sight” for a bit before it cuts out. I was so happy with Sirius that I opted to pay the ridiculous monthly fees for radio (at least I felt it to be ridiculous).

A few life changes later, namely becoming a dad, I decided to cancel my subscription. It also didn’t help that XM and Sirius united, in the process phasing out a couple stations that I liked and changing the format of a few others. The biggest complaint I had was why should I pay anywhere from $6.99-19.99 a month to have music in my car!? You see if the radio in the Mustang had a Sirius component that could be removed and taken into the home, like many 3rd party satellite radios, I could maybe get my money’s worth listening at home too. However, paying to only be able to listen for the short whiles in my car was just a luxury that fell to the bottom of my priorities list.

I received calls and offers to renew but I stuck to my guns.

Fast forward to today. The Mustang is gone and in its place is a 2010 Ford Escape. Also prepackaged with a satellite ready radio. Also with 3 or 6 months free (I can never remember which). Also with a non-removable radio that means your Sirius music subscription can ONLY BE ENJOYED WHILE DRIVING!! I guess if I wanted to get my money’s worth of Sirius, I’d have to do alot more driving. Even if I added a portable satellite radio to the account, like a mobile phone, there is an additional fee per additional device on your Sirius account.

So again, come expiration time, Sirius will NOT be renewed. My wife has discovered satellite radio too and likes the 80s and 90s stations but agrees that the fees for radio are just not a necessity for us. She spends so many hours of her time playing the Grocery Game to save us bundles of money on food and groceries that it would feel like a guilty pleasure to have. Also now that I discovered Pandora FREE Streaming Radio, I am putting my existing expense of unlimited data on my cellular plan, as opposed to adding an additional payment of satellite radio to my stack of bills.

Until Ford starts putting removable Satellite Radio pods in their vehicles or Sirius doesn’t cost in the ways of up to 19.99 per month, we wont be listening to any Satellite radio. Well ok, maybe the data on my cellular at some point utilizes a satellite somewhere, but you get the idea.

Average Joe Driver

Opening Pandora’s Box

I remember the days when having a Mp3 capable CD player in your car was amazing. Along came the portable MP3 player and the car kits to play your Mp3 player’s music through your car stereo. Before long, you no longer needed to buy a 3rd party kit because the functionality was built into your car. You still, however, had to compile your mp3 collection either by ripping from CDs you own and/or by downloading it. Either from a legal paid service or the illegal Peer-to-peer sharing way.

I recently stumbled upon a service that has been around for a few years. Pandora Radio. I must say it is AMAZING. I don’t utilize it on my PC so much as I use the hell out of it on my Blackberry Curve, probably much to the bane of AT&T’s slow EDGE service (my Curve 8310 isnt 3G). I have been paying the $30/month for the Unlimited Data Plan for the past couple years and was excited for the ability to check emails and pseudo-surf the mobile web on my phone. Now I find a streaming music service based on randomly selected tracks similar to selections you make that you can either “Thumbs up” or “Thumbs down”. Mind you, there are some licensing limitations which forces Pandora to only allow 6 skips per hour. You also cant really select a specific song to listen to, but if you stay on top of favoriting your favorite tracks you should get a continuous shuffle of music you like. If not, change the station to another station of your creation based on a different favorite song or artist.

I have such rave reviews for the Pandora streaming service and I am on an EDGE speed. Imagine if I were on 3G. I carry Pandora with me in my car and bring it into the office with me all on my Blackberry Curve on AT&T with the Unlimited Data package. Lets hope it really is unlimited and I dont find an invisible cap on the monthly bandwidth.

Oh and yes I really do use the service and no I wasn’t paid to say this, I just feel very strongly about my enjoyment of music and this new way to deliver it to your ears from the interwebz.

For an example I have a few stations created that I jump to when I need some variety:

Jason Aldean Radio
Blue Man Group Radio
Ill Nino,Chino Moreno Radio
Ill Nino Radio
Primer 55 Radio
Head Automatica Radio
American Head Charge Radio
Chimaira Radio
Trae Radio


Get Pandora On-The-Go for your phone

About Pandora’s Music Genome Project

Is that Gasoline I smell?

“is that Gasoline I smell?” a quote from one of my all time favorite movies, the Crow. Eric Draven, The Crow, pours gasoline all over inside the pawnshop that his fiance’s wedding ring was pawned at. He fills the barrel of his shotgun with the other rings, walks out, and as the owner tells him “…they’re gonna erase your sorry a$$..” The Crow turns around and asks “….is that gasoline I smell?” as he shoots a fiery blast of broken dreams into the shop setting it ablaze.
I found myself asking the very same question while driving the Escape. For my fellow Houstonians, you know its been pretty cold here every other day. So on the few occasions the temperature merits it, I use the heater on defrost. (I cant stand to have hot air blasting in my face, no matter how cold it is. It makes my nose get stuffy.) As I was driving the other day I thought I smelled fuel. I deduced it had to be an outside smell as it eventually went away. My wife and mother-in-law drove the Escape and they too smelled the fuel smell, but blamed it on my awesome Steering wheel cover. I decided to GOOGLE Ford Escape Gas Smell and it appears there have been reports of Ford Escapes having the smell of fuel entering the cabin going as far back as year 2000 models. Mine is a 2010!!! I am hoping this isn’t some sort of design flaw that I just have to accept….to hell with THAT! I have been more observant as of late and noticed I only get the smell of fuel when it is set at least midway on warm and to the Windshield Defrost setting. As soon as I switch to air vents the scent dissipates. I am going to have to call my Champion Ford of Katy representative and tell him I am going to need to get it looked at.

On a side note, I also used to believe it had something to do with the new fancy “NASCAR inspired” capless fuel nozzle.
http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/Ford_Escape/photos-exterior/gas-cap-open/
Some people have had concerns, as I have as well, as to whats to deter fuel theft or contamination without a gas cap or locking gas cap? The sales pitch was with no gas cap to handle at the pump, you can keep the fuel smell off of your hands. Well, alot of good that does when the fuel smell is coming in through your vents!! So the answer to Ford’s poor plannning? An accessory add-on locking gas cap that you can buy and add to your vehicle that was missing it in the first place.

Img from www.fordvehicles.com

AJD

Replacement Windshield

Monday.  Back to the weekly grind.  Thursday was a happy morning for me because I got 4 of 6 lotto numbers for a total winnings of $56.  Although I cant get that Harley-Davidson F-150 just yet, I was happy on my Thursday morning drive to work.  FRIDAY, however….I was on my way to work at about 6:15am and stopped at the light at the intesection of Greenhouse and Saums.  As the light turned green, I pulled through intersection and BAM!! It was the loudest smack against my windshield I had ever heard.  It resulted in a huge smash that even my insurance agent has never seen from a road debris incident.

2010 Escape Windshield

Something hit my windshield...surprise expense

   For a split second at first, I thought I had been shot or someone intentionally threw something to shatter my window.  At 6AM it wass too dark to see what happened and I couldnt just stop in traffic, so I came on in to work.  Now I am “blessed” to find a use for all that overtime cash I had earned working late hours and being away from my family more than I care to be.  How lucky I am.  
   Now I need to find a place to replace my widnshield.  I asked my Facebook friends for some recommendations of which I received 3. One back in a part of town I used to live in and have used before (Scotty’s Glass), but is just really far from where I live now. The other two were My Mechanic at Green Trails and Affordable Auto Glass on Hillcroft at SW Fwy.
I made some calls to get a quote for my 2010 Ford Escape windshield and here is what I got….

Scotty’s Glass (713) 928-5036
$249+tax installed

My Mechanic @ Green Trails  (281) 647-6666
$225+tax

Affordable Auto Glass (713) 952-4000
$160 Installed at my home
$130 Installed at the shop

Hmmmm sounds like a no brainer. I am not sure why such a difference in the prices, but I will let you know my experiences with Affordable Auto Glass who’s price has won my hard earned money.  The more it’ll cost me, the less that goes to my family…and I cant have that.

AJD

Hello world! Meet Average Joe Driver

Hello all,
I have  had a few interesting escapades in my owning and driving a vehicle since the day in 1994 when I got my first vehicle.  It was a 1987 S-10 Chevy Blazer.  Since then I’ve owned another 87 Blazer, 98 Dodge Dakota, 2008 Mustang and now a 2010 Ford Escape.  If you notice my last 2 vehicles are Fords.  I am not a crazy vehicle maker fanatic, I just go with what is best for me.  I think the Chevys were reliable, the Dodge was a stinker and I never even opened the hood in the 2 years I had the Mustang.  Oh yeah, I traded in the Mustang for the Escape because I am also a 33 yr old recent dad of a 15 month old and the Mustang is just not very kid friendly on space.
   I wanted to cover past learning experiences and up to date experiences  with things that happened to me and my vehicle(s) and maybe what I learned can help you too.
   I have had my vehicles broken into, shot at, broken down, fender bent, broken windshields, thumping sound systems, wheels, etc.