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I think that one of the main reasons that people hold on to their old cars for so long is because they are emotionally attached to them. There was this lady who I used to rent from who had this old red beat up Jeep Wrangler sitting in her driveway. Well, I rented from this lady for about a year-and-a-half, but that jeep had been sitting in the same spot for about a decade, and I’m not exaggerating. She told me how many long road trips she had taken in it, and also how good it used to run. But after that, when it stopped running, she just couldn’t bring herself to get rid of it.

You may think that this is impossible, but during that eighteen months that I rented the apartment next to her I could almost physically see that jeep deteriorating in her driveway. I mean, there was mold all over it, and, when you looked on the inside, you could see how all of the interior and seats and armrests had just eroded away from the vehicle sitting outside in the weather that whole time. And that paint job, there was no coming back from it. The tires were all busted up and flat, and any person in their right mind wouldn’t dare open up the hood from fear of snakes rats, lizards, insects, or maybe even a raccoon that may be up under there. There was a tree that hung over the driveway that she had that old red jeep parked under in the same spot, for years and years, which made the vehicle even more susceptible to living things invading it.

The worst part about it is she had the personality of a hoarder. You know, one of those people that just can’t throw anything away, and junk ends up piling up all over the place inside and outside of their residence. I don’t have to tell you guys in Portland the rules about debris and junk cars. If they are sitting on your property, and are an eyesore to your neighbors, they may have the right to call the authorities. And, the resident that has that junky yard or driveway will get tickets for that accumulating mess. That’s exactly what happened to this lady with the old jeep. I mean, she had other trash and junk around her yard too, but that vehicle is what most of her neighbors were complaining about.

I’d ask her from time to time, “Are you going to fix this Jeep up again, or just continuously let it sit here and rot and become more and more infested?” The thing was only taking up space…I was just wondering what she was going to do with it. I’d ask her about the tickets she gotten (not the ones while she was speeding in the jeep way back when, but the ones that she got from the city for it being a big piece of noticeable junk on her premises). I just knew that it would very likely be profitable for her to let it go, worth more to her if she sold it then if she kept it.

As a journalist, naturally I began to read up on the subject. I ran into this website called The Truth About Cars, and a writer named Stephen Lang further confirmed what I was trying to explain to her. The way he put it was you should “get rid of a car when it’s worth more dead than alive”. In other words, if you have an opportunity to make cash off of it, you might as well, because in the end you’re going to end up spending more cash on tickets for debris and junk in your yard, especially if you’re never going to use it again.

Another reason that many folks may not want to get rid of their junk car it’s because they remember how much money they put into it over the years. Some people really love their cars, and when they become attached to one it’s hard for them not to think that they can repair any problem that goes wrong with it. The thing is, many times these people don’t know how to repair cars themselves, which gives shady mechanics out there an opportunity to take advantage of them. See, the mechanics know that you depend on your car, but they also know that many people live paycheck-to-paycheck and will pay for small repairs every pay day if necessary. That being said, even if that mechanic knows for a fact that you could probably sell that car and get a nice profit off of it, he’ll keep patching it up between your paydays, because he knows that, once you sell it, he’s out of work.

It’s even worse if you have a car that you want to sell (whether it’s really beat down or in pretty good condition) that you’re still paying insurance on. Last thing you want to do is continuously throw money at something every month that you don’t want to use anymore, or that you can’t use anymore. These are your hard-earned dollars. Is it really smart to keep trying to bring back something to life that’s lifeless? That mechanic is going to tell you every reason in the world why you should keep that car. Many times, the older model cars people own (whether they be junk or still running) may already paid for. But, when you finish paying off a car, and the continuous repairs are adding up to be just as much as your car payment was, that’s a problem.

So you decide now, after adding up all of your previous expenses, that it’ll probably be a good idea to find someone who’ll buy your vehicle for a good price. Reyna Gobel did one article on Investopedia where she showed an example of a kind of analyzation technique that you can use to see whether or not your vehicle should be fixed up or turned into scrap metal. She also pointed out the fact that a person may have recently made a large monetary investment in the vehicle and that’s why they just don’t want to let it go. The example she used was a person who may have just bought a transmission that might have ran them a few thousand dollars. Then, after spending all that money, the unlucky car owner had something else go wrong with the vehicle, and now it’s inoperable. This is completely understandable, why the person is hesitant to sell the vehicle after spending all that money. Probably the only thing worse than being emotionally attached to that car, truck or SUV is becoming financially attached to it.

Many people who sell their junk cars use the money wisely. They take whatever they made from the sale and use it for a down payment to get a better running vehicle, or one that they simply like more. Gobel suggest that you ask questions beforehand, such as if the new car that you’re planning to buy is more energy and fuel efficient, how much your new car payments will be, and what’s the lifespan of the new car you’re planning to get after finally letting go of your old one.

Edmunds car maintenance website pointed out something else that car owners should pay attention to before they sell their car. As the primary driver of that vehicle, you know the problems that you had over and over again with the maintenance of that car. You’ve been on the most long trips with it and you’ve been the one paying the mechanic, so you have the records of all of the mishaps and inconveniences that the vehicle has put you through over a certain period of time. You know how many miles were on the car when you first got it, and how many it accumulated as you drove it. You also know what type of conditions the car has been in, whether the weather where you live is very hot or very cold. Overall, you have the best idea about the amount of wear and tear on that particular car. And that’s the information the junkyard needs to know. It’s better to sell it if it’s run down to the point where is going to keep putting you deeper and deeper into debt trying to fix it.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Still, you have those people who are insane about their cars, and they’ll keep going from mechanic to mechanic hoping that one of them will say “maybe you should sell the car…” Why are they waiting on a mechanic to say that? Because that’s the only voice in their ear that has any deeper interior knowledge about the car other than themselves, along with the fact that they themselves just need to be told to do it, because they can’t summon the courage to let it go alone. But don’t be a fool. You are losing money every time you visit that guy, and chances are he’ll keep “fixing” it every time you pull it into his garage. It’s time for you to make a firm decision to not to continue go broke for that old junk car, and sell it for a good price.

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Image from Cayenne Apps.

With a name like Ted Wheeler, are you really surprised that he wants to introduce a whole new type of vehicle to the streets of Portland? The Portland Mayor and Commissioner Dan Saltzman made it official when they made the announcement that the Portland Bureau of Transportation was going to start looking for companies who would be interested in testing out self-driving vehicles around the area. Wheeler is trying to get these cars out and about testing in Portland streets by the end of the year with this program that he labels the Smart Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (SAVI).

The Portland Business Alliance, which is known to be the voice of business within the region, has the mayor’s back with this new program, and the many citizens of the community are now using their imaginations as to how it will feel driving down Portland’s highways in the coming months. It wasn’t too long ago that the concept of self-driving cars was itself something imaginary. They were only something that we saw in the movies, and many of us never thought that we’d be soon driving beside them in reality.

For example, who could forget that self-driving Lexus in the 2002 movie Minority Report? Or, to go back even further, how about in Total Recall when Kaide (who was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) was being driven around by the robot taxi driver? I sure did want a driverless car when I first saw Batman’s Batmobile, and when I saw David Hasselhoff’s Pontiac Trans Am on the 1980 series Knight Rider. Still, the movie that many people feel the creators came the closest to making an on-screen, self-driving look alike to what is actually being manufactured today were those futuristic Audi’s on 2004’s I, Robot starring Will Smith.

Portland has always been known as an innovative city when it comes to obtaining new technology to make life better for its citizens. The Portland Bureau of Transportation feels that autonomous cars will actually reduce crashes, improve public transit, and lower the cost overall for individually owned vehicles.

Still they point out that certain areas of the city would be riskier than others when testing self-driving cars on the streets. For example, testing out self-driving vehicles on wide-open stretches such as the interstate would be much less riskier than having the vehicles scroll through city streets that have way more pedestrians (if you would like to read the signed SAVI Initiative or the AV Letter to Legislators here is the link to both documents).

The overall goal of the Smart Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (SAVI) is basically to get a lot of private companies who are interested in testing their self-driving vehicles in the streets of Portland to create a good number of various group proposals and policies. Mayor Wheeler had this to say in one statement:

“My goal is to have an autonomous vehicle pilot program in Portland, working for Portlanders, by the end of the year. To the inventors, investors and innovators, I’m here to say that Portland is open for business. By working with private industry, we can make sure that cutting edge technology expands access to public transit and reduces pollution and congestion.”

-PBOT News Release, 19 April 2017

Of course, absolutely everyone is not happy about self-driving cars hitting the streets of Portland. For example, on April 19th one visitor to the Bike Portland website who calls them self ‘Hello, Kitty’ commented on SAVI. “We are a long way from the time when people will own their own autonomous cars,” the commenter replied. “I think we’ll enter a phase where they work like taxis, with passengers paying by the ride. If that model works, we may never get to the point of widespread individual ownership.”

It seems that, overall, people who have cars that already contain some autonomous features are much more accepting of self-driving cars than drivers who do not currently have things like automatic braking on their vehicles. Many scientists feel that if people could begin to trust those small introductory features (adaptive cruise, for example) then there is a good chance that they could end up being able to accept a fully self-automated car.

Volkswagen once performed a very slick test to see how people really felt about riding in a self-driving car. They named the study ‘Wizard of Oz’ where they ask volunteer riders to get into an autonomous car, one that in actuality was being controlled by a real human begin. The test proved that the passengers were somewhat afraid in the first ten minutes or so but, after that, they began to feel more comfortable as they rode with the vehicle “driving itself”.

The truth is when the average person thinks about self driving cars, they look at the vehicle as a robot that they simply hope doesn’t hit anything or anybody while cruising up and down the street! Still, many people feel that these autonomous vehicles may actually reduce stress when they are behind the wheel. For example, if the car was completely driving itself, they wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with stop-and-go traffic. IEEE Spectrum cited a survey that came from AAA that showed that 50% of U.S. women and 42% of men are looking forward to stress reduction possibly becoming one of the benefits of having a self-driving car. But, the overall study shows that three-quarters of citizens are still afraid of driving in and/or around these vehicles.

Even with the high hope percentages, to some people there is still something about a car completely driving itself that makes them feel a little eerie. Remember how Will Smith had that bad feeling about the robot on the movie I, Robot? I think that’s how lots of people in reality feel about how much power we are actually giving to technology over even the simplest functions in our lives. One hundred years ago, human beings were just getting used to cars. Now we are letting them drive themselves? To some folks, they feel like today’s technology is just moving way too fast for our own good.

You have to admit, if you look over at someone on the highway doing about sixty miles per hour and they were casually reading a magazine, it will startle you a little! And, what if you don’t see the magazine, but they are looking away from the road? Do you report them for texting and driving? How would you possibly know if their car is driving itself, or if they are just being irresponsible while behind the wheel? If I see someone in the driver seat gazing off into space at high speeds on the highway, I’m not going to feel bad about inconveniencing them if I call the police and report their car, plates etc., but I would apologize if I was in the wrong and they actually did have a car that could drive them autonomously.

Some of the fear for autonomous cars is generational, with Millennials being less afraid than baby boomers. The transition from vehicles that we humans have control over into completely autonomous ones is going to be a gradual process, and is going to take a lot of time for people of all ages to accept. Still, self-driving vehicles would also work in the favor of elderly citizens. Now they will be more mobile than ever with when they need to get to doctor’s appointments or make quick pickups for medication at the pharmacy.

One of the main concerns of experts is that humans will get much lazier if cars become autonomous. For example, let’s say that right now it’s extremely hot outside, and you need groceries from the store. If you could order the groceries online (with, say, your My Gofer account), have the associate at the store place the food in your car, and have your self-driving car literally do all the leg work for you, would you let it? If you had to pick up your son or daughter from football practice or cheerleading tryouts, but you were stuck at work working overtime, wouldn’t you send the car to pick them up?

But what would make this laziness at its worst would be if people stopped moving at all and started letting their cars do all of their chores. Traffic in every direction would be congested at the highest levels for miles all the time. Even still, everybody isn’t giving self-driving cars a bad rap. For example, take a company like Uber, who makes its money off its drivers and their ability to get multiple customers. Last September, they let a few riders in Pittsburgh ride in their self driving Uber cars. Is that the picture for the City of Portland in the near future? We’ll see.



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