The Wheel Thing: Our Ultimate County Car Guide

A look at the driving force fueling the county's auto lova affair -- where to buy, rent, race, pamper and/or trick out your car, how to talk your way out of a ticket, steer clear of pesky speed traps and tricky traffic jams, and more.



WESTCHESTER WHEELS

 

 

 

Photo by Darryl Estrine, Model Gro Christensen from Wilhelmina International Ltd; Hair by Katia Levetown of Billy's Hair Salon in Mount Kisco; Makeup by Rosemarie Pomilla of NY Prostyle in Dobbs Ferry; 1965 Mustang provided by Terry Goodman of Waccabuc; Hogan Prendergast, our four-legged model, provided by Diane Calleia of Shampooch in Mamaroneck. Shot on location at Lyndhurst, a national trust historic site in Tarrytown. Wardrobe courtesy of March in Briarcliff and Bloomingdales in White Plains.

Photo by Darryl Estrine, Model Gro Christensen from Wilhelmina International Ltd; Hair by Katia Levetown of Billy's Hair Salon in Mount Kisco; Makeup by Rosemarie Pomilla of NY Prostyle in Dobbs Ferry; 1965 Mustang provided by Terry Goodman of Waccabuc; Hogan Prendergast, our four-legged model, provided by Diane Calleia of Shampooch in Mamaroneck. Shot on location at Lyndhurst, a national trust historic site in Tarrytown. Wardrobe courtesy of March in Briarcliff and Bloomingdales in White Plains.

 

No question about it, we love our cars. In that way we more closely resemble that other car-obsessed (far-away) part of the country, Los Angeles, than our just-south-of-our-border neighbor, New York City. (Take a subway?  A taxi? A bus? Fuhgetaboutit.) Many of us spend more time in our cars than we do with our families—and, truth to be told, often enjoy of our cars more. We sip lattes in them. We eat just about anything in them. We listen to Mick and Mozart in them. We sleep, make out, make up, and manage much of our lives in them. So, why not spend a little time thinking about them? No matter what you drive, if you’re buying a new car, restoring a classic, avoiding the county speed traps, or trying to talk your way out of a ticket once you’ve been caught in one, you’ll want to read our 16-page guide to all things cars in the county. We invite you to come along for the ride.

 

 

The DMV Manual Revisited

There are rules and then there are the real rules.

 

By Tom Schreck

 

 

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles offers a
driver’s manual. I remember the driver’s manual from the last time I held it in my hand. It was the week before my 16th birthday and I remember it because I accidentally smudged Clearasil on the parallel parking cartoon. To this day I can’t remember if I’m supposed to look over both shoulders, glance in the rearview mirror or the side mirrors or just drive around the block until someone leaves a big enough space for me to easily pull up in.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one who last picked up the driver’s manual around the time of his/her first prom. Not a lot has changed, but let’s face it, there are the DMV rules on driving and then there are the real rules. As a service to you, the faithful Westchester reader dedicated to safe and responsible driving, I’d like to take this opportunity to go over some of the key differences in the driving rules.

 

The DMV Manual’s suggestion for holding the steering wheel:

…sit comfortably, but upright, and keep both hands on the steering wheel. Slumping in the driver’s seat, or steering with one hand makes it harder to control your vehicle, and your “relaxed” position can lead to a dangerously relaxed attitude toward driving.

 

The real driving rule:

Look, you’ve got things to do and keeping both hands on the wheel is a bit obsessive-compulsive. Forget that, but do follow these safety precautions:

1.  Apply makeup only when traveling on a familiar stretch of road. Use the eyelash curler with caution.

2. Key in your cellphone the call-in numbers to Mike and the Mad Dog,
Hannity and Combs, and Rush so that they can be dialed with one push of a button.

3. Avoid the Atkins Diet. Choose buns, croissants, and donuts over knives and forks to be able to safely handle your
vehicle and your meal.

 

The DMV rules for handling a roundabout:

…While inside the roundabout, stay in your lane until you are ready to exit. Use your vehicle’s right turn signal to let the other users know what you want to do...

 

The real driving rule:

When entering a roundabout...

1. Look straight ahead and avoid looking at other cars in the roundabout.

2. Hold your breath while depressing the gas pedal while you attempt to exit.

3. Apply your acquired knowledge from the Ace Bandingo Hot Rod Thrill Show that you saw at the Dutchess
County Fair.

5. Try your best not to soil yourself upon exiting the roundabout.

Look, this is Westchester. If you think driving around in circles is a good way to control traffic, then move to one of those annoyingly quaint Boston suburbs.

 

The DMV’s rules RE railroad tracks:

If a train is approaching, unfasten your seat belt, get out of the vehicle and get as far away as you can from the tracks. Run toward the general direction the train is coming from. If you run in the same direction the train is heading, you may be hit with debris when the train strikes your vehicle. Only if you are absolutely sure no trains are coming...try to start the engine. If that fails, shift your vehicle into neutral and push it off the tracks.

 

The real rules:

1. First of all, how the hell did you get stuck on railroad tracks?

2. If you were driving across railroad tracks and, in that instant, your car stalled, you are just way too unlucky to keep living.

3. If you have to be told to get out of the vehicle when a train is headed for you, should you even have a license?

4. “Run toward the general direction of the train?” Are they serious?

 

The DMV has rules for dealing with deer collisions. They want you to know that:

Two-thirds of all deer/vehicle collisions happen during the months of
October, November, and December. This is also breeding season, when deer are most actively traveling about.

 

The real rules:

1. Know that you’re dealing with horny deer.

2. Like humans, deer in this condition are not in their right minds.

3. Like humans, they get desperate and despondent when their advances are refused and are likely to hurl themselves in front of a moving automobile.

4. Pray that the deer have gotten lucky lately. If the deer are lying on their backs, smoking cigarettes, they are unlikely to interfere with traffic.

 

The DMV says this about Tailgating:

Leave enough room between your vehicle and the one ahead so you can stop safely if the other vehicle stops suddenly.

 

The real rules:

1. Look, I’m on the highway doing 80; I don’t have any plans on stopping.

2. People who drive on the highway slowly and see me in their rearview mirror are passive aggressive, didn’t get hugged enough by their dads, and are trying to make up for their years of insecurity by not getting out of my way.

3. It’s fun to see how close you can get to another bumper without touching.

 

 

The DMV’s suggestions regarding high beams:

If an approaching driver does not dim his or her lights, flash yours to high beam for a second, then back to low beam. To help avoid the glare of approaching high beams, shift your eyes to the right. Use the road edge as a guide until the approaching vehicle passes by.

 

The real rule regarding high beams:

1. Scream at the offensive driver and call into question: (a) how she was conceived; (b) the debate over the species her parents evolved from; (c) the body part the offensive driver most closely resembles. (Do not concern yourself with whether the offending driver can hear you, but do try to not hemorrhage any major blood vessels in your neck region.)

2. Flash your high beams and depress the horn repeatedly. Your lights should flash on and off and be reminiscent of
Studio 54’s light show.

 

 

The DMV offers this tip to drivers:

Let other drivers and pedestrians know which way you want to go. Use your directional signals or horn consistently and at the proper times.

 

Here’s some real rule tips about directionals and horns to keep in mind:

 

1. Your horn is not only a safety
device; it’s also a tool of self-expression.

2. Develop a signature horn greeting so that when you startle an acquaintance on the side of the road, they will know it’s you. Do this even though at your high speed you will leave their field of vision while their systolic blood pressure remains close to their verbal SAT score.

3. Directionals are optional in every day driving. After all, you make the same damn turns every day, in the same damn car, at the same damn time—people should get it by now.

 

The DMV rules for approaching “Road Rage”

To prevent...road rage, it is sometimes better to not make eye contact with another driver, especially where conflict can occur…

 

The real rules:

You’re from New York, you-knowhatI’msayin’? This is what you’re gonna do if some idiot does you wrong out there on your road:

1. Freakin’ stare at them until blood forms on your forehead.

2. Channel your favorite Robert De Niro character from any De Niro movie.

3. Show your attitude with that head-neck bop thing all the kids seem to do and be able to coordinate it with multi-syllabic phrases referencing unnatural reproductive acts.

4. Make sure your doors are locked and that your car is much faster than the car whose driver you are taunting.

5. IMPORTANT: Choose this approach when the offending driver is at least 75 pounds lighter than you, 25 years older and, preferably, if they are in the same general health as our current vice-president.

 

Tom Schreck can be spotted driving in his dated Lincoln, talking on the cellphone, eating a salad, and petting his overweight basset hound. His funny murder mystery On the Ropes, A Duffy Dombrowski Mystery debuts this September.

 

 

 

Getting the Best Deal

7 easy steps to buying a car

 

By Tom Schreck

 

 

 

The era of haggling with oily salesman in plaid suits to get the best deal on a car is long gone. That was Dad’s technique and it’s as outdated as his Sansabelts. Here’s how it’s done today.

 

Step 1: Do Your Homework

I’m guessing you already know not to pay the sticker price on a new car. The sticker price, aka the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, is more inflated than a Lincoln Navigator’s radials. What should you pay? As little as possible. How?

First by knowing exactly what the dealer himself paid for the car. Just go on the Internet to find out (look at such websites
as www.Edmunds.com, www.fighting
chance.com, and www.carbuyingtips.com). “Don’t even set foot inside a dealership until you’ve done your homework,” says Jeff Ostroff, a former Motorola electrical engineer who started the first car consumer advocacy website in 1998, and is today with www.car
buyingtips.com. 

 

Step 2: Don’t Let ‘em Know the Depths of Your Pockets

When you visit the showroom, don’t dress in any way that might tip off to the sales staff that you have money (the price may go up). Also, park out of their sight, so they can’t evaluate your trade in.

Then go for a test ride. “Get into the car and get the feel of it,” says Mark Perleberg, lead auto expert with the National Automobile Dealers Association (www.NADAguides.com). “For awhile forget about Consumer Reports and see if you like the car.”

 

Step 3: Shop at the Right Time

If it’s the end of the year, the end of the model year, the end of the week or the end of a quota period, you may get a better deal. It’s even a good idea to get to the dealer at the end of the day when he wants to go home; tired and hungry, he may be more likely to take a little less than he’s accustomed to getting.

 

Step 4: Keep in Mind the Future Trade-in Value

            “If you get a stripped-down car, it won’t be very appealing when it’s time to trade in,” Ostroff says. Sound systems, heated seats, and navigation systems may be bells and whistles to you, but more and more of the car-buying public wants ’em. Extras today may be standard in a year or two.

Also, pay attention to the time of year you buy a car. Sure, it’s great to get a good deal on last year’s model at year’s end, but at the time of resale that car will be perceived as a year older.

 

Step 5: Deal with the Dealmaker

If it’s the car you want, bring your research with you to the dealership and ask to speak to the person capable of making the deals—the manager. Let him know you’ve done your research and  what you’re willing to pay for the car. Deanna Sclar, author of Buying a Car for Dummies, suggests at least $500 and Ostroff suggests 3 to 5 percent over the dealer’s cost. “Make it very clear that you are not willing to negotiate,” Sclar says. 

 

Step 6: Go to the Competition

If you don’t like the price, take the offer to the dealer’s competition. Yes, you can take a Honda Accord offer to the Toyota dealer to see if you can get a better deal on its Camry.

“The Internet makes it easy pitting one dealer against another,” Sclar says. “You can check on the specific car you want on websites like cars.com and the dealers will give you their prices. Then you can contact those dealers and use the figures you received as negotiation points.”

 

Step 7: Know the Scams

“When the salespeople start telling you that the bank requires life insurance, VIN window engraving, and a warranty, don’t buy it,” Ostroff says. “The bank is just interested in you paying your loan”

And don’t pay extra for any extended warranties. Most new cars come with a warranty and any other is just a moneymaker for the dealer.

“Avoid extended warranties at all costs,” Sclar says. “Many things are already covered by the factory warranty. Plus, most extended warranties are offered by third-party companies. A lot of them go out of business and you can’t get anyone to honor the contract.”

 

Groomed for Speed

Hairstylist Frank James DiBrino transforms vintage cars into hot rod beauties

 

 

Eastchester resident Frank James DiBrino is an unabashed car lover. “When I hear the rumble of an engine, I roll down my window to listen for power,” he says. “It’s a testosterone thing I suppose.”

DiBrino, a hairstylist and colorist at Salon Shin in Scarsdale, regularly attends professional drag-racing events and custom car and motorcycle shows, subscribes to 10 car and motorcycle magazines, and is a member of the National Street Rod Association, the National Hot Rod Association, and Goodguys Rod & Custom Association.

The truest sign of his passion for all things automotive are the rides he’s owned. In high school, DiBrino took courses in auto mechanics and, upon graduation, joined the Air Force as a jet-engine mechanic. It was while he was stationed in Texas that he bought his first race car: a 1970 Chevy Nova SS. “We would go drag racing in San Angelo, a quarter-mile race from a standstill.” DiBrino rebuilt the Nova’s engine and put in a four-speed racing transmission. 

In the early 1990s, he owned a 1969 Mercury Cougar convertible with a nitrous oxide accelerator for instantaneous horsepower. The Cougar was also the first car he entered into a car show. “For me, it’s like displaying art at a gallery.”

His current “toy” is a 1937 Plymouth Street Rod, which he’s customizing into a “daily cruiser.” This is, he says, “a three-year restoration in its final stages.” What’s the draw for DiBrino? “Some relax by taking a walk or gardening,” he says. “When I’m detailing an engine, it does to my state of mind what two weeks in Hawaii does for most people.”

—John Bruno Turiano

 

 

It’s (Actually Pretty) Easy Being Green (No, Really.)

Here we try to shame you into trading in your monster

SUV and hopping on the Bee-Line. (As if.)

 

By Marisa LaScala

 

 

Yes, we all love our cars. But we love our lungs, too, and we’ve been failing them. According to the county’s Healthy Air Task Force, our area has the fourth worst record regarding dangerous levels of particulate matter in the air and seventh worst regarding ozone (smog) in the nation. Nice going, Westchester!

To help all of us breathe a little better, Jim Kliesch, a research associate at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), strongly recommends that we improve tailpipe emissions, which will cut down on that not-so-pleasant ozone hanging over our heads, and increase fuel efficiency, which helps prevent global warming. (Yes, it’s real.) The good news: “If you’re looking at smog-forming tailpipe emissions, cars and trucks today are much cleaner than vehicles from even a handful of years ago,” he says. And the bad news? “From a global-warming perspective,  today’s cars are no more fuel efficient than they were in 1981.” Ouch.

So, in the words of Santana, you’ve got to change your evil ways, baby. There are some easy (we promise) things to do to decrease the general amount of pollutants in the air and
increase your personal fuel ec

Edit ModuleShow Tags

 

Edit Module